Orders of the Day — Judges' Remuneration Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 14th July 1965.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr Ivor Richard Mr Ivor Richard , Barons Court 12:00 am, 14th July 1965

I thank the right hon. and learned Gentleman for that helpful intervention. One thing which I distinctly remember about the Burmah Oil affair was that the right hon. and learned Gentleman's Government—although at that time he was not a member of it—wrote to the Burmah Oil Company warning it that it was proposed to bring forward that precise legislation. At one stage the right hon. and learned Member for Wirral took responsibility for that Bill and said at the Dispatch Box that he could not in honour vote against it. Yet he voted against it on Third Reading. With this Bill we have exactly the same position—an arrangement made between the parties, an arrangement on which the Tory Party has ratted.

I say to my hon. Friends below the Gangway, "Beware the Greeks bearing gifts in this debate". We had a remarkable speech from the hon. Member for Ormskirk (Sir D. Glover) who, almost with tears running down his face, said how much he appreciated the efforts of the First Secretary, how much he agreed with the Government's attempts to introduce an incomes policy and, with his hand on his heart, how devastating it was, that the Bill would somehow wreck the whole fabric of the Government's economic policy, and that, therefore, he called upon hon. Members to follow him into the Division Lobby against the Bill.

Is it honestly to be believed by hon. Members opposite, and by the hon. Member for Ormskirk in particular, that my hon. Friends are so gullible as to fall for the oldest trick in the political game? When there is a genuine difference of opinion within the ranks of this great party, of which I am proud to be a member, the hon. Gentleman then attempts to divide it and draw half of them into the Lobby with him. That is a very old gag and I am happy to say that it will not work tonight.

I must mention some of the speeches made from this side of the House, in opposition to the Bill. I find myself in a great deal of agreement with most of the speeches which have been made. As I said, it is only with the greatest reluctance, and only because the Government feel themselves in honour bound because the Tory Party ratted on an obligation, that I feel I can support the Government in the Lobby tonight. I agreed with my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Molloy), when he talked about the difficulties of relating the Bill to an incomes policy and I would agree with a large part of the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Poplar (Mr. Mikardo). I can entirely understand the motives that were behind these speeches and appreciate that they were sincere.

Regrettably, I heard the speech of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget). I say regrettably, because, having heard that speech, it is necessary that certain things should be said. For a large part of his speech he took the line which has been taken by a large number of other Members on this side of the Committee, that the Bill was ill-timed. I have said that this is an argument with which I find myself in a great deal of sympathy. But in the last five minutes of his speech he proceeded to attack the Government for breaking their pledges on nuclear policy, on defence policy and on foreign policy. He even succeeded in lumbering us with the present economic crisis.

I have been in the House for only eight months, but I have listened carefully, and how anyone, on either side of the House, or in the country, can persuade themselves that the Labour Government are responsible for the present economic crisis which the country finds itself in is almost beyond belief.

My hon. and learned Friend even went so far as to say that the Government had sold out to an international consortium of bankers. That was the phrase he used. With the greatest respect, this sort of thing, in this debate, is almost beyond belief. The idea that the Government, with all the great tasks in front of them, with all the great things that they have set their hands to, will be brought down because of an increase in the Lord Chancellor's pension of £1,250 per annum is absolutely absurd.

As I listened to my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton, a quotation came into my mind, which I believe was addressed by Lord Birkenhead to Lord Carson in another place, at the conclusion of an Irish debate, in the course of which Lord Carson had violently attacked him. The noble Lord concluded by saying that "as a piece of constructive Statecraft it would have sounded immature upon the lips of a hysterical schoolgirl."

I regret having to say that, particularly having been a Member of the House for only eight months, and particularly having regard to the fact that my hon. and learned Friend, the Member for Northampton is a member of my Chambers, but I could not leave the House tonight without at least registering one protest against the last few moments of the speech of my hon. and learned Friend, and saying, quite frankly, that it does not help the cause of the Government, or the cause of his opposition to the Bill, to indulge in this sort of attack.