I beg to move,
That the debate be now adjourned.
I move this Motion to save what is technically, I understand, tomorrow's business, but if I describe it as Friday's business I shall be quite clear. I fully understand, as do my right hon. and hon. Friends, the importance of the Consolidated Fund Bill and the importance of preserving private Members' rights. This is an important and traditional occasion. That is why I move the Motion in this form.
I am not moving the Closure. I am moving that consideration of the Bill be adjourned because there is no reason whatever why we should not spend the whole of Monday night continuing the debate on the Bill. I understand that it has to reach another place on Tuesday, but there is no reason why we should not have another 12 hours, if need be, listening to the sustained eloquence of the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) all through the night watches of Monday night. If the Motion is accepted, it will preserve Friday's business and it will preserve the rights of private Members to continue raising the large number of topics which are listed for debate on the Bill.
It is being suggested that the behaviour of hon. Members on the Government benches is a squalid and sordid abuse of Parliamentary procedure. I read—with, of course, regret and distaste—in the Daily Express of Friday, 26th March—
My point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, is that only a few moments ago you ruled as a matter of procedure that it was out of order for an hon. Member to read a newspaper in the House, and I assume that that applies also to a right hon. Member. The right hon. and learned Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd) is about to read a newspaper in the House.
Yes. What I was calling the House's attention to earlier was quite a different matter from using a newspaper and a quotation from a newspaper as part of an argument in debate.
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. The right hon. and learned Gentleman has referred to this debate as a squalid abuse of Parliamentary procedure. May I point out to you, Sir, that the debate that we have just concluded was initiated by hon. Members from Northern Ireland? Is this not a reflection on the Members for Northern Ireland?
The hon. Gentleman is not being as accurate as usual. I did not say anything of the sort. I said that it is being represented, but I am very anxious to protect the hon. Gentleman and his right hon. Friends from what is being said about them. I was about to quote, not to read for
pleasure, because it gives me no pleasure to read this:
By midnight Labour Party Whips—acting in a strictly unofficial capacity—had taken over from the Syndicate the job of organising the filibuster.
Labour M.P.s were put on rota duty to
ensure that there were always sufficient M.P.s on hand to forestall Tories 'counting the House out'…
Forty M.P.s must be in the Chamber
all the time. But the suggestion in the newspaper is that the right hon. Gentleman and other hon. Members on the Front Bench have taken over from the Syndicate the job of organising the filibuster. Not being content with debauching the Order Paper of the House of Commons at Question Time, now the Syndicate is at work.
I want to know what are the intentions of the Government with regard to this matter, and I want to ask them to say quite clearly whether they are prepared to protect Friday's business. The reason we want, in fact, to protect Friday's business is that we think there is an important Measure which should be given a Second Reading discussion. The classes of persons whom the Bill is designed to benefit, as set out in the Schedule, are persons who, on account of their age when the National Insurance Act, 1946—
I can see the hon. Gentleman very awake, bright, zestful in the interests of Private Members and of the House, and very anxious, I am sure, to play his full part in discussing this matter, which is to benefit people who, when the National Insurance Act, 1946, came into operation—
What is the right hon. Gentleman so frightened of? Why is every kind of procedural device—blinds being drawn and all the rest of it—being produced in order to prevent a reference to my hon. Friend's Bill, which will involve benefit to people whom I think every Member of this House would wish to see benefited, if it could be done. I quite see, as a former Chancellor of the Exchequer, that, obviously, one has to consider whether the bill can be paid—the bill can be met. That is what we want to discuss. Why this deliberate attempt to prevent it from being discussed?
It is not as though this had been entirely a private Members' fiesta. The Minister of Housing and Local Government spoke for 70 minutes on this Private Members' occasion; the Minister of State, Board of Trade, spoke for 41 minutes; the Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport spoke for 39 minutes. This, I think, is one of the reasons why it can well be that the writer of that passage in the Daily Express was right—that this is a deliberate attempt by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite to see that my hon. Friend's Bill is not discussed.
What we want to know is what are the Government's intentions. We hope the right hon. Gentleman who is to reply will be able to tell us, as we hope, that he will be able to get to other activities tomorrow. At all events, as far as Monday's business is concerned, we will certainly co-operate.
If the hon. Member has waited 13 years for it why not permit it to be debated now? He is lending force to my argument.
I fully understand the importance of preserving private Members' rights, and I say that so far as Monday's business is concerned we will do everything we can to help. Let us have further debate of all these matters listed on the list debated throughout the night watches of Monday, but let us get on to Friday's business, and the very important Measure of my hon. Friend.
For sheer, unadulterated impudence the speech—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] For sheer brass and impudence the speech of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd) takes the biscuit. He has the brazen impertinence to come to this House and quote from the front page of the Daily Express—[HON. MEMBERS: "Why not?"]—No reason why he should not, but I am going to refer to it. Late last night we had one of those histrionic prima donna displays we are used to from the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg). Having shown his respect for the House of Commons, having captured the banner headline in the Daily Express, he then made his dramatic exit: he is out. Having had a good night's sleep and having briefed the Daily Express he comes back here this morning and—
The right hon. and learned Gentleman—[HON. MEMBERS: "Free speech?"]—The right hon. and learned Member for Wirral then comes down and quotes from the Daily Express as obiter dicta. I will give way in a moment, but the right hon. and learned Gentleman has to learn something. He may just as well learn it from me.
I am going to try to give right hon. and learned Gentlemen opposite a lesson. The penny which has not dropped is that they lost the last election, and they no longer control the business of this House. The function of Government is to control the agenda and to control the timetable, and my right hon. Friends do control the House of Commons and they are going to control the timetable. Let this one sink home—right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite are out; they are out and they are going to stay out for a considerable time.
In a moment. This is only the first part of the lesson. I have been in the House as long as the right hon. and learned Member for Wirral, maybe too long for some hon. Gentlemen opposite, but I shall be here after a number of them have departed. I have seen them come and go.
What the Conservative Party lacks at the moment is somebody with the genius of the late Earl Winterton. He knew this House and he loved it. I often had talks with him and corresponded with him, and I learned an enormous lot from him. If right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite would only go back and read the 1945 editions of HANSARD and learn not from us but from the late Lord Winterton, they would be much more efficient Parliamentarians than they are.
Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that is exactly the kind of thing about which I complain. If the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. Wise) would only take a beginner's correspondence course in Parliamentary procedure, he could do better than that. There are 100 hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House who could give him some lessons. But I am most anxious—
Might I tell the right hon. Gentleman, to whom I am grateful for giving way, that I am a very new Member of this House, having been here only about 5½ months. I came back from my constituency last night, arriving here at 1 o'clock this morning, to take part in the debate on Northern Ireland, but I also came here to support the Pensions (Amendment) Bill which is due to be discussed later this morning. The point is—I put this to the right hon. Gentleman—that there are a great number of unemployed people in Northern Ireland who know what it is to do without things, but they would be the first people who would wish the Pensions (Amendment) Bill to be debated today. I hope that, without making any party point at all, the right hon. Gentleman will allow the debate on that Bill to commence at 11 a.m.
Mr. Deputy-Speaker, it will be within the recollection of the House that the Paymaster-General said that the debate on Northern Ireland had been stopped. May I elicit, on a point of order, your guidance for the House. Surely the debate on Northern Ireland has not been stopped. Surely it can be taken up again should the Motion proposed by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd) be carried by the House.
I am sorry, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, but I do not agree that it is a question of semantics. It is a question of fact. I presume that the right hon. and learned Gentleman was honest when he asked the House to agree to an adjournment of the debate. If he was honest and sincere in his utterance and his Motion were carried, that would have stopped the Northern Ireland debate.
The hon. Member for Belfast, West said that he came here at one o'clock, which is very much more than the majority of hon. Members opposite did, in order to take part in a debate. That debate was going on quite smoothly until the hon. Member for Londonderry (Mr. Chichester-Clark) went round the benches and spoke to his hon. Friends and urged them not to speak, or to curtail their remarks. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] We have eyes to see. The first lesson which right hon. Gentlemen opposite must learn is to respect the House.
I want to assure the right hon. Gentleman that I did not ask my hon. Friends to curtail their remarks. Nothing of the kind occurred. No pressure was put on any Northern Ireland Member. Furthermore, the object of the Motion is that the debate on Northern Ireland. which is very important, should be continued on Monday.
Here is another example of Tory good manners. Hon. Members opposite will not learn respect for the House. The other point that does not sink home is that they think that they have a God-given right to use the rules of order as it suits them, but when somebody does it back, they do not like it. I have always thought that this was a characteristic of the English ruling classes. This is why they like fox hunting. It is sport to hunt the fox but the fox cannot hunt them.
In a moment. They hunt the fox and they use the rules of order. They think that they can do what they like, but when some of my hon. Friends, a bit more studious and a bit more competent, use the procedures of the House—[HON. MEMBERS: "Abuse."]—we will come to that in a moment—hon. Members opposite object and imagine that it is a crime against the Holy Ghost.
I wanted to remind the right hon. Gentleman, as he speaks for the Leader of the House, that he repeatedly asked me from his former customary place below the Gangway to treat matters not as a party politician but realising that as Leader of the House I spoke for the whole House. I recommend that to him.
I paid a tribute to the right hon. and learned Gentleman and I meant every word of it. By comparison with the rest—[Interruption.]—he was good, but that does not mean to say that he ranked other than what he was. He was using the rules of order, and he used the procedures of the House.
Let us examine the complaint made by right hon. Gentlemen. The complaint is that on the debate on the Consolidated Fund Bill hon. Members on this side of the House have used the rules improperly. Let us examine the facts. The first subject which was put down for debate was put down in the name of the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Woodhouse), a Conservative Member. The second one was put down in the name of the hon. Member for Bristol, West (Mr. Robert Cooke). We all know him. Having put it down for debate, and having, presumably, in accordance with the traditions of the House given notice to the Department that he had done so, he had not the courtesy to get up and move it, although he was in the House all night.
If the right hon. Gentleman had been in the Chamber all the evening he would have heard my explanation to the House. He would have heard me give the reason why I did not rise in my place at the appointed time. I explained that I did not want the subject which I had put down for debate to be used as a device by both the Front Bench and the back benches opposite to prolong the proceedings and cancel today's business. If the right hon. Gentleman had been paying attention to the debates through the night instead of preparing these remarks he might have done better.
I was here all night. The hon. Gentleman put down the second subject for debate. He knew the procedure of the House. He knew that this was an historic occasion. He knew that it was the right of a back bencher to take the opportunity of raising the matter that he had put down for discussion. He was the second Conservative taking advantage of our procedure. Nobody complained about it, but, when he found that having put it down it was inconvenient politically and party-wise to move it, he withdrew it. In other words, he did exactly what he complains my hon. Friends have done. Whatever one may think about it, it gets perilously near to a charge of hypocrisy for the hon. Gentleman to charge us with what he has done himself.
What was the third subject for debate? Where did that come from? It was put down by the hon. and learned Member for Billericay (Mr. Gardner). The fourth subject was selected by the hon. Member for Gloucestershire, South (Mr. Corfield), another Conservative. This was obviously a filibuster, because the hon. Member who put this one down was not in the House to move it. He only came in later and intervened. The fifth subject was chosen by a Labour Member—that is not a bad ration, one in five. What was the sixth one? It was selected by the hon. Member for Portsmouth, Langstone (Mr. Ian Lloyd). That meant that we had one out of six. What was the next one? This is where we have got to. This was selected by the hon. Member for Londonderry, so hon. Members on this side have had one out of the lot, and hon. Gentlemen opposite complain.
This has been an orderly debate, and on the occasion last year when the—
My right hon. Friend says that it has been a nice, quiet debate. I should like him to take note of the fact that it could not have been other than nice and quiet because nobody has been present on the benches opposite.
Exactly. Hon. Gentlemen opposite, having given notice in respect of the majority of the subjects to be raised, and having, presumably, given notice to the Departments and to the Ministers concerned, busy men that they are, they spent the night waiting for their turns to come. Then one did not ask the House to discuss the subject he had chosen, a second one came in when the debate on the subject chosen by him was half way through, and now they come down here and complain.
Of course the opportunities for private Members are few. Again, Private Members' Bills are a lottery. It is a question of chance. Hon. Members may have excellent Bills to put forward, but if they do not draw a high place in the Ballot they do not get a chance to introduce them. This is a matter of luck. But Private Members' Bills do not take precedence over the historic right of back benchers to use occasions like the proceedings on the Consolidated Fund Bill to take advantage of the opportunity which is given to them.
Hon. Members opposite have no reason to complain. Only a handful have been here during the course of the night. Their only contributions to our deliberations, until we reached the constituency point of Londonderry was to call 10 Counts. They were called for no other reason than to inconvenience hon. Members on this side of the House. Notice has been given to Ministers, and the debates have been continuous. A theme has run through them, and they have required and have obtained from Ministers reasoned replies. Why in the name of goodness hon. Members opposite should imagine that because, for party political reasons, when one of their hon. Friends draws a place high in the Ballot for Private Members' Bills and wants to bring a Bill before the House—a Bill which could have been passed by the Tory Government at any time in the last 13 years—this gives them precedence over the proceedings on the Consolidated Fund Bill, I do not know. It passes understanding, except for the reason that I gave when I began—that they think they are God's anointed. They think that they have the right to rule, and that the rest of us are merely servants. This is the essence of Tory philosophy. It is born of arrogance—
On a point of order. Can you tell the House, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, how much longer the right hon. Gentleman has to continue to speak in order to prevent our debating the Bill that we have been waiting for, which is designed to pay pensions to people whose average age is 84?
There we go again. The right hon. and learned Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd) seizes his opportunity. Now is his chance. The obedient hordes have come back and are in their places, and he can get a cheer because he is an outside runner for the leadership of the party. He has the opportunity for an early morning canter in the Succession Stakes. He hopes that it is a fiat race, otherwise he will fall at the first fence.
In a moment—when I am ready. Hon. Members opposite chided me with making a speech in my own time. Why should I not do so? The right hon. and learned Member has chosen his time for an early morning canter in the Succession Stakes. I have exposed his remarks for the humbug they are, and now the hon. Member wants me—
On a point of order. Is there not a requirement for all hon. and right hon. Members to conduct proceedings in this House by means of speech, and not by means of dumb show?
On a point of order. I distinctly heard the right hon. Member, who claims to respect the House, refer to one of my hon. Friends as "that one over there". Is that in order?
No, we must be fair—one at a time. We are dealing first of all with the hon. Member for Worthing (Mr. Higgins). His complaint is that I have replied to his right hon. and learned Friend, the Member for Wirral. I propose to reply to the right hon. and learned Gentleman for as long as I wish in the manner I think is right.
Do sit down. Do learn to sit still and listen. The hon. Gentleman is complaining because I am making my speech in my own way. Certainly I am going to do it and no amount of shouting me down is going to stop me.
What I am pointing out is that the right hon. and learned Member for Wirral came down here and complained without any justification at all because my hon. Friends have spoken, and spoken constructively, and have had constructive replies from the Government, on subjects not chosen by them, but on subjects chosen by hon. Members opposite. What in the name of goodness is there to complain about in that? Except one thing. That right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite think they can come to this House and use it as they like without regard to the rights of other hon. Members. They want to forget it, but they are not going to do it.
I am most grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for giving way. May I ask him this question? He has, in fact, been about as rude as I have ever heard a right hon. Gentleman be in this House to hon. Members on this side. When he said earlier that this was a perfectly normal debate, I would like him to tell me whether he has ever sat in a debate—and he was not here when this happened last night—when three speeches running concurrently took a total time of 179 minutes?
The hon. Gentleman asked a question and complains about my rudeness. He must not give me that example, otherwise I will be worse than I am. The only difference between us is that when I am rude I am trying to be, and when he is rude he cannot help it. In my parliamentary life I learned one simple thing. I give hon. Gentlemen back exactly what they try to give me, with compound interest.
The hon. Member for Yarmouth and other hon. Gentlemen come to the House and complain because hon. Gentlemen on this side—
They complain because my hon. Friends, on a Motion chosen by a Conservative, speak and get a reply from the Government. What did the hon. Member for Yarmouth (Mr. Fell) do? He did not even give his own side notice. He should examine this. Some of us do our homework. He complains of actions by my hon. Friends, but before he casts a stone at them he should look at himself.
I am grateful to the right hon. Member for giving way.
I support the right hon. Gentleman in everything he said about trying to defend the rights of private Members and the general history of the House, May I ask him two questions? When the House is in the difficulty which it appears to be in at present, may we ask where the Leader of the House is? Would the right hon. Gentleman be good enough to ask the Leader of the House, who I now see behind Mr. Speaker's chair, to come into the Chamber and sit on the Front Bench, because it appears that the right hon. Gentleman the Paymaster-General is speaking in the place of the Leader of the House? It is private Members and not the Government that we are concerned about.
I see that the Leader of the House has taken his place on the Front Bench. I welcome him. It is a pity that he was not here earlier. The Paymaster-General, who has been speaking for the Leader of the House, should note that it appears necessary for the first time since 1951 to stop a Private Member's Bill on a Friday. This has not been done since 1951. It seems that when somebody respects the heritage of the House—
On a point of order. I have been attempting to put two questions to the right hon. Gentleman. I put the first question, but there was so much interference from the Government that I was unable to put the second. I had not given way and I claim that at that moment I had the Floor.
This is another exhibition, another illustration, of the arrogant Tory attitude. If the hon. Member for, I think, Yeovil (Mr. Peyton) were spoken to by one of his hon. Friends, and charged with lack of courage, he would resent it. That is not the language which is used in his circle between social equals. He only uses that sort of remark to us because, again, he imagines that he has a God-given right to do exactly what he likes, to say what he likes, in the way he likes, when he likes, and to be as offensive as he likes.
As far as I am concerned, I repudiate his standards. He knows what I think about him; I hope that he thinks the same about me, because I could imagine no greater compliment. Again, I would point out that he has never been here all night, and neither has his hon. Friend the Member for Reading. All they want to do is to use private Members' time for party political purposes, and they have been put down, not by hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House, but by their own hon. Friends. That is the standard of confidence which one gets from the Tory Front Bench.
The Chief Patronage Secretary—we all know him, a kindly fellow, but a natural incompetent—
Yes, yes. Having been up 24 hours, I am guilty of a slip of the tongue. Hon. Members can have all the fun they like from that. They know who I mean; they know where the cap fits.
I shall not give way to the hon. Member for Yarmouth. He has had one turn. [HON. MEMBERS: "He has been here all night."] He shall have his turn.
Hon. Gentlemen opposite must realise that their hon. Friends have put down no less than 10 subjects. What about those of my hon. Friends who have been here all night—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] What about my hon. Friends who have been waiting to answer them? Why should hon. Gentlemen opposite, on the Consolidated Fund Bill, monopolise the whole of the time, when my hon. Friends, who have been here all night and want to put constituency cases, are not allowed to do so?
Of course, if they want the best example of all, let us take the debate which has now been stopped—or interrupted, as hon. Gentlemen opposite appear to call it—on Northern Ireland. Obviously, this is a very important subject for Northern Ireland Members. They have something to hide, and they think that attack is the best means of defence. Therefore, as soon as it is a constituency matter of some importance, as soon as the time comes when they can be sure that it will reach the headlines in the Belfast newspapers, we have a speaker from the Tory Front Bench who is backed up by two or three of his hon. Friends who also want to speak.
This is a right—a right which I applaud. I approve of this; that is what the Consolidated Fund Bill is for, and it has been used on occasion after occasion, and hon. Gentlemen opposite have moved the Closure, and their Chief Whip, time and time again, has closured by hon. Friends and terminated the discussion.
Why, in heaven's name, should hon. Gentlemen opposite think that this is a vital constituency matter for Northern Ireland, when some of my hon. Friends are debarred from having the same right?
In answering a question which I asked him, the right hon. Gentleman accused me of not having informed a Government Department—or whoever he meant; I am not quite sure—when I raised a matter on the Adjournment. I should be very grateful if he would substantiate that, and tell me precisely how he found out—if it is true at all—because I certainly do not remember.
At 9.30 in the morning. At 8.40 in the morning the hon. Member came to the House and raised a subject which appeals to many people, the protection of the common seal. He had not given notice. He apologised for the fact that there would be no Minister present to reply and, in fact, the Minister responsible did not reply. The hon. Member for Bristol, West (Mr. Robert Cooke) came as well and made his contribution.
The hon. Gentleman again misunderstands. He must read my child's guide. I have no objection whatever to his coming here and raising the question of the protection of the common seal, and the same applies to his hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, West. The hon. Member for Bristol, West made a very moving speech.
If the hon. Member comes to the House and raises a subject which appeals to him, and is of importance to his constituency, why does he deny the same right to my hon. Friends? My hon. Friends, in accordance with the courtesies of the House, have given notice to the Minister and they have had reasoned replies. But the hon. Member for Yarmouth did not even think that that was worth while. I make no complaint about it. I just regard it as a fact that hon. Members opposite have one standard for themselves and another for us. Personally, I do not play it that way.
Is my right hon. Friend aware that my hon. Friend the Member for the Western Isles (Mr. Malcolm MacMillan) has a grievance? If he had known that the question of grey seals was to be raised he would have been here to speak in their protection, but he did not receive notice.
If my right hon. Friend looks back into HANSARD he will observe that I preceded the hon. Member for Lowestoft (Mr. Fell), who had been in the House all night and who had received information from his own Chief Whip that if I did not curtail my speech the debate would be closured and he would not have a chance to get in. I did curtail my own speech and the hon. Member got in on the subject.
I am sure that the hon. Gentleman is genuinely puzzled and he will remain puzzled, as will the hon. Member for Bristol, West, unless the penny drops and he gets into his mind that hon. Members on this side of the House have exactly the same rights, no more and no less, than hon. Members opposite.
What happened yesterday and what has happened today is quite simple. There is a conflict of private Members' interests. The Consolidated Fund historically takes precedence. Hon. Members may give notice of the subjects they want to raise so that other hon. Members in all parts of the House, if they wish, can come and take part in the debate. That is what this House is about. It is argument, debate, cut and thrust, so that the truth may emerge. It is not a machine to secure for ever and ever the dominance of the Tory Party. This is something that hon. Members opposite have not grasped. They have lost the election. The control of the House of Commons has passed from them.
I can tell by the puzzled look on the face of the right hon. and learned Member for Wirral—and there is no more kindly Member in this House—that he has again been jockeyed into a position which he now realises is acutely embarrassing. He did not realise that the hon. Member for Oxford had the first subject and that there are 10 subjects which have been put down by hon. Members opposite. He does not seem to realise that there are a number of other subjects in which hon. Members on this side of the House are interested. They are important subjects. There are other Private Members' Bills besides that which interests hon. Members opposite. But that is the luck of the draw. They have lost, and hon. Members who will not be able to raise the subject today will also have lost.
Hon. Members opposite have tried to monopolise Friday's business. They have tried to monopolise Thursday's business. They have made a hash of it. They are incompetent and, absolutely true to form, they remain a stupid party.
The right hon. Gentleman has been giving us lessons in procedure for so long that he ought to have learned some lessons himself. The right hon. Gentleman was, I think, right in his reference to fox hunting. Fox hunting has been defined as "the unspeakable in pursuit of the uneatable". The right hon. Gentleman has been the unspeakable ceaselessly and interminably elaborating the unarguable. He has, in fact, proved himself as insolent and as arrogant in power as he was offensive when in Opposition.
On a point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. I am not clear what is happening. I understood that any hon. Member was entitled to speak only once in this debate. The right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) delivered a very vehement speech last evening. I should like to know what the position is.
I was only saying that after my right hon. and learned Friend had moved this Motion with marked good humour, the right hon. Gentleman the Paymaster-General behaved with the same insolence and arrogance in power as he showed offensiveness when in opposition. He is evidently employed by the Government. We were in some doubt about what he is employed for, but it is now apparent what he is employed for. He is employed by the Government to take the place of the Leader of the House, who, if he had any self-respect, would resign at the humiliation to which he has been subjected.
I am supporting my right hon. and learned Friend. The Paymaster-General is employed to take his right hon. Friend's place when something is put down on the Order Paper which is not quite reputable enough for the Leader of the House to undertake. He is, in fact, the Odd-Job of this Gold-finger outfit. The right hon. Gentleman claimed that there was a clash between private Members' interests in this matter. There is no such clash. My right hon. and learned Friend pointed out that Private Members' time could be fully satisfied in respect of both sets of business if the Leader of the House would only agree to sit on Monday night as well as last night.
I say this only to assist the Paymaster-General. He began my saying that I had made a histrionic gesture last night. I walked out of the House because I did not like the degradation of Parliament by the Government. [Interruption.] What is sauce for the Government goose is sauce for the Opposition gander. I did not like to see the degradation of Parliament by the right hon. Gentleman. What we have witnessed, and what we seek now to prevent him having the fruits of, is one of the most contemptible and despicable devices ever seen this side of the Atlantic. It is done for one motive only—to prevent the discussion of some other business, which might help some of the most helpless and poverty-stricken members of the community, whose sufferings right hon. and hon. Members opposite have exploited for years and whom they have now betrayed.
On a point of order. As the right hon. Gentleman has refused to accept my Motion and has shown the clear intention of the Government to prevent discussion of the Bill of my hon. Friend the Member for Abingdon (Mr. Neave), I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Motion.
Before the Motion is withdrawn, may we have an assurance that the Paymaster-General's speech has safeguarded the rights of back benchers on this debate on the Third Reading of the Consolidated Fund Bill? The right hon. Gentleman said that there were many hon. Members who still had points to raise. Can we have an assurance that Ministers will reply at the same length to the debates on those matters? I myself want to speak in debate on railway facilities in East Anglia. Will the Leader of the House, in view of the Paymaster-General's speech, give an assurance that he will not closure that debate?
On a point of order. Is it not a fact that, when a request is made for a Motion to be withdrawn, if it is not immediately accepted, or if there is any opposition at all, it falls and cannot subsequently be withdrawn? The hon. and gallant Member for Eye (Sir H. Harrison), by continuing the debate—
As this is a debate about private Members' rights, it would be appropriate if at least one or two private Members had the opportunity of saying why we think this debate should be continued and not adjourned. I happen to be one of those Members on the back benches—[Interruption.]
I was saying that as a back bencher I am concerned, like my right hon. Friend, but unlike right hon. and hon. Members opposite, to ensure that back benchers' rights are preserved on one of the few occasions when we have the opportunity to raise matters which affect our constituents' interests. I have been here for a number of hours in order to raise the subject of the coal industry. The coal industry is one which affects not only my constituency but the whole country. Whether this country continues to obtain an adequate supply of coal and continues to provide a livelihood for the men engaged in the industry—
I appreciate that. I was merely seeking to indicate why I considered, together with most of my hon. Friends, that the Motion, if not withdrawn, anyhow should be opposed. It is of the greatest importance that the debate on the Third Reading of the Consolidated Fund Bill should continue, so that hon. Members like myself who have come here for the purpose of discussing the problems of their constituencies should have the opportunity of doing so. I was saying—I think I am in order—
I was saying, before we had interruptions from hon. Members opposite, that the purpose for which I and other hon. Members on this side came here last night and today was to raise problems which affect our constituencies. We wish to have that opportunity. We wish to raise a large number of subjects still which are on the paper which has been circulated and most of which have not yet even been reached. The subject which I wish to raise is that of the coal industry. The coal industry is No. 22 on the list. I understand that so far we have reached only No. 7 or No. 8.
Some may have been withdrawn. Perhaps if I wait for another three or four hours I may have an opportunity of speaking about the coal industry. Unfortunately, my constituents are claiming my attention this evening and I, like other hon. Members, have a problem. I have a problem of either speaking about the coal industry in this debate on the Consolidated Fund Bill or of denying to my constituents later in the day the opportunity of obtaining advice from me on their particular and individual problems. If the Motion were carried, I should be deprived of the opportunity of speaking on the coal industry. Because the right hon. and learned Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd) has chosen to move the Motion to interrupt and hold up this debate on the Consolidated Fund Bill, we are now in the position that we have lost over an hour of the debate.
I think that the hon. Member is under a misapprehension. There has been no loss of time. There is no limit to this debate. It can go on as long as the Patronage Secretary is not closuring it.
That is perfectly true. I concede that point. I am quite sure that my hon. Friends here will be quite prepared to carry on the debate for as long as is necessary to give them the opportunity which they are seeking to raise the problems of their constituencies. Hon. and right hon. Members opposite by their tactics during the night and this morning have been trying to rob us of the opportunity. As a result of this loss of time, some of us will be in the extremely difficult position that we cannot find it possible to stay for the conclusion of the debate in order to raise matters of which we have given notice.
I hope, therefore, that the House will quickly resume the debate on the Consolidated Fund Bill so that my hon. Friends will have the opportunity which they are seeking. I do not intend to delay matters any longer, but I insist, however, that the Closure must either be withdrawn in the interests of all hon. Members, or, if not, the other hon. Members should have the opportunity of doing what they came here to do, and that is to deal with the many problems which are listed on the papers that have been circulated.
There are other matters which I would have liked to raise besides the problem of the coal industry. There are other burning issues to which Ministers are entitled to give answers to the House on the questions that we put to them. There are problems not only affecting the Minister of Power but affecting my right hon. Friend the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance, both of whom I see in their places ready to answer such questions. My right hon. Friend the Minister of Technology is here ready to answer questions. There are other Ministers who are ready to come to the House and who are waiting to answer our questions.
I could list many others who are only too eager to come to the House in their turn and answer the questions which we want to put to them about our constituency problems. If we were to do that we could take up the whole time of the House for the rest of the day, and we would be very happy to do so.
My hon. Friend says that there are a number of points which he and my hon. Friends could have put. Is he aware that I have sat through the debate all night and, except for the presence of three hon. Members opposite, I have had to go over to the benches opposite to give them weight, in both senses of the word. Could not the whole question of the Annual Price Review have been raised? I am sure that my hon. Friend would have liked to have had a debate on that, because he has agricultural interests in his constituency.
I am sure that there are many issues of such a character which we would have liked to debate and which could be debated if this Motion were withdrawn and we were given the opportunity. I am still waiting to hear from hon. and right hon. Members opposite that they are prepared to withdraw the Motion.
Is my hon. Friend the Member for Ashfield (Mr. Warbey) aware that, like him and all my hon. Friends here, I have been here all night? I have been trying to get an opportunity to speak on the fitting of artificial limbs to the baby victims of the thalidomide drug produced by capitalist drug companies, but I have not been allowed the opportunity to speak.
I thought that I heard the hon. Member for Ashfield (Mr. Warbey) say that he would be glad to hear from my right hon. Friends that we would be prepared to withdraw the Motion. I understood, subject to your Ruling, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that that was exactly what had happened and that leave to do so had been refused from the benches opposite.
The right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) was wrong again. It is perfectly true that his right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd), who has now disappeared—[HON. MEMBERS: "Where is he?"]—indicated that he was willing to withdraw the Motion. He said that in a fit of pique. but his hon. Friends behind him would not let him do so. Unfortunately, the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone and the Leader of hon. Members opposite, who has just gone out—
The shadow Leader. He and the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone cannot keep their back benchers in order. I am very glad indeed to find that the right hon. and learned Gentleman for St. Marylebone, who has such a distinguished record of contending against all rivals in the Tory Party for the leadership of the party, should recognise that there are occasions when hon. Members on this side of the House have their differences of opinion.
When responsible hon. Members on the Front Bench invite us to take part in an action on behalf of the Government and on behalf of the party, we on this side of the House do so, whereas right hon. Gentlemen opposite are quite incapable of keeping the disorderly rabble behind them in order.
Would not my hon. Friend agree that the exhibition initiated by the right hon. and learned Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd) for this last hour has been an exhibition of sheer, concentrated humbug. We have had during the last hour expressed to us what was said in the Daily Express, that the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) stormed out of the Commons. I should like to tell the House that—[HON. MEMBERS: "Order."]
Order. I will gladly hear the hon. Member on what he says he said, because I did not hear any of it. But if he said that, he must withdraw it.
If it was accepted in that sense of the word, I withdraw it. But I believe that I referred to the whole exercise as an exhibition of concentrated humbug. I was referring to the fact, and asking my hon. Friend to agree—
There are various matters arising. I may have been living in a state of transitional circumstance. I have had no opportunity to judge the matter. As far as I could tell, on resuming the Chair, the hon. Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. Bagier) was in the course of making a speech, but on what point I am not yet quite clear.
Order. I have informed myself from authoritative quarters that I should be hearing the hon. Member for Ashfield (Mr. Warbey). I apologise in general for my ignorance and call the hon. Member for Ashfield.
I am very grateful to you, Mr. Speaker, as I was in possession of the Floor of the House during this transitional phase.
As you came to the Chair there were a number of interruptions from one side of the House or the other which, perhaps, slightly confused the proceedings. However, I think that we were at the point when the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone was trying to explain how it came about that, after the right hon. and learned Member for the Wirral moved this dilatory Motion in order to hold up our proceedings, when he wished to withdraw it he was unsuccessful because of the behaviour of hon. Members behind him.
Now that we have made the position perfectly clear, and have also established that the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone does not know what he is talking about, I will resume my seat in the hope that the debate will continue.
We seem to have got ourselves into a procedural difficulty. I understand that about an hour ago the right hon. and learned Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd), when I was not in the Chamber, moved, "That the debate be now adjourned." About a quarter of an hour ago, certainly in my presence, he endeavoured to withdraw the Motion so that we could get on with the debate on the Consolidated Fund Bill. But there was an objection. Apparently, no one did object, yet the word "object" was said from some part of the House.
The position now, as I see it, is that the House as a whole would wish that this Motion be withdrawn so that we can continue our debate on the Bill. If every Member remains seated and does not rise, is the Motion then put by you, Mr. Speaker?
It must be put by myself. If there is a matter of mishearing physically, it would, I think, be proper to renew the application of the right hon. and learned Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd) to withdraw it. It is no good proceeding on a mishearing.
On a point of order. In view of the fact that the Motion before the House is "That the debate be now adjourned," I hope that before proposing the Question, or accepting a Motion that the Question be put without further debate, you, Mr. Speaker, will have an opportunity of hearing some of us about the advantages of accepting the Motion proposed by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd).
If I may, I should like to adduce reasons why the debate should now be adjourned. I suggest that it will be entirely for the convenience of all Members, particularly at this point of time. There was a great deal of reason, if I may say so, for accepting the proposal made by my right hon. and learned Friend. I, for my part, regret very much that the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House was not in his place at the time that that Motion was proposed. Let me say at once to the right hon. Gentleman—I know that he will accept it from me—that I have the greatest possible respect for him, both personally and in his capacity as Leader of the House. Perhaps he will allow me to say that with affection. He is in the proper tradition of Leaders of the House appointed by the Labour Party.
Some of us have been in the House for a long time. The Labour Party has provided as Leaders of the House Sir Stafford Cripps, Lord Chuter-Ede, and our good friend the late Lord Morrison of Lambeth. However, I am bound to say to the right hon. Gentleman that at so early a stage, when he was close enough to the precincts of the House to allow a reply on a matter of this importance to be made—
I fully appreciate that the right hon. Gentleman has grave difficulties, and I am equally certain that he has so high an opinion of this House that if he decides that his duties call him to Downing Street rather to here, the House will place the most charitable interpretation on his decision.
But the fact remains that the right hon. Gentleman is Leader of the House. If he is not here, and able to reply as Leader of the House, it is right that some other Minister should reply. The right hon. Gentleman chose that the reply should be made by the Paymaster-General. Some of us were here and we heard what he said. We heard him display an ignorance of procedure. It was a display of bad manners. We do not know why the right hon. Gentleman the Paymaster-General was given a post in the Government except, of course, that every Prime Minister brings in "sheep" for slaughter in the early days—
I apologise if I departed from my own knowledge of the procedure of the House and followed the bad example of about an hour ago.
I now return directly to the speech of the hon. Member for Ashfield (Mr. Warbey). I listened to it with considerable care. I was not quite certain whether the hon. Gentleman wanted to talk now about the problems of the coal mines, or felt that could be more appropriately discussed on Monday. It seems to me, at this hour, that it is appropriate that the House should adjourn the debate so that hon. Members may take it up again on Monday. I hope that the House will resolve in that fashion.
What I proposed to say will be very short indeed. This House is controlled by the Government which plays its part only so long as the rights of the Opposition and back-bench Members are regarded. I do not think that happened last night. I should have voted against the hon. Member's Bill and I have written to a large number of my constituents to tell them. But I protest at the manner in which lie has been prevented—
It is the proposition, "That the debate be now adjourned." I shall stop the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) if I think that he is out of order, but I do not think that he was.
I have not the smallest intention of discussing the hon. Member's Bill. All I am saying is that I deeply regret—I think the House and Parliament will regret it, and I think that the Government will in time—that this should have been used to frustrate private Members' time. It is something which we all ought to deplore.
It is, of course, perfectly possible for a debate on the Consolidated Fund (No. 2) Bill to go on indefinitely because people have real points which they want to make. That is not what happened. It continued in order to defeat a particular Bill.
I do not know even with precision what the allegation was, except that the hon. Gentleman was supposed to be taking orders from somebody. That is quite a reputable thing to do in some circumstances.
Order. It was not a point of order. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will not persist in that. He shall have all the proper protection from me, but I have duties to perform, like gathering the Tellers, and I cannot deal with things that are not points of order.
The Ayes have it.
Order. There was a Closure Motion on the dilatory Motion. The Closure on the dilatory Motion has been accepted, so we come to the dilatory Motion, which is negatived at the moment. Confusion is sometimes slightly promoted by sitting up all night. The sequence is that the Closure on the dilatory Motion was put to the House and was accepted. The dilatory Motion was then negatived. We are now back on the Third Reading of the Consolidated Fund Bill. Mr. Emery.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I know that my hon. Friend the Member for Abingdon (Mr. Neave) wishes to speak and I shall be only a few moments. But before the Leader of the House departs I wonder whether he would pay atention to me for a moment on this matter, because it is of considerable importance. The last time the House sat all night, and, therefore, we lost the next day's business, was on 11th March, 1954, and that was in Committee of Supply on the Army Estimates—
I realise that, Mr. Speaker, and as you will notice, I mentioned that the last time we were dealing with this was on Supply, dealing with the Army Estimates on the Consolidated Fund Bill. Because we are proceeding with the Consolidated Fund Bill I wonder whether if I might point out that as the Consolidated Fund Bill debate is continuing and as, because of the continuation of the debate, a day's business has been lost, which is private Members' business, then because of the debate—
On a point of order. Is not the salary of the Leader of the House, in another capacity, and the salaries of the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury authorised to be paid out of the Consolidated Fund by the Bill which we are now discussing? Are not they those who are, in practice at any rate, held to be peculiarly responsible for the orderly proceedings of the House?
I am grateful to my hon. Friend. Relating my arguments to this matter, would the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House, in considering the matter of salaries, say whether it would not be possible for him to follow the example of the Opposition when we debated a matter on Supply in regard to the Army Estimates? There was at that time, again on Supply, a loss of a day of private Members' time. At that time the two Private Members' Bills, which were not then debated, were passed "on the nod" the following week. Would the right hon. Gentleman give us an assurance that that example could be applied, in order to defend the private Members' position? In other words, could he attempt to ensure that, as private Members' legislation at that time went to Committee, he would ensure that this could happen again with the private Members' legislation which has been lost?