Education Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 22nd April 1970.

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Photo of Mr Thomas Price Mr Thomas Price , Westhoughton 12:00 am, 22nd April 1970

The hon. Lady gave us a most learned and high-powered speech stemming from a good deal of research in the Library. Whilst this is professionally interesting, it has the effect of clearing the Strangers' Gallery to a greater extent than usually happens on these occasions —not that we are concerned with the Strangers' Gallery; we are concerned with the business of the House and what merit there is in it.

There has been a relatively small slip in handling the Bill upstairs. Some hon. Members were missing, so the Government got a little rebuff, which they do not like, and they are now taking steps to deal with it.

I remind the House that in 1954—I am sorry that the Father of the House, the right hon. Member for Thirsk and Malton (Mr. Turton) has left us—not only did the Government of the day lose a Clause of a Bill upstairs, but they lost the whole Finance Bill on the Floor of the House [Interruption.] If I may be allowed to make my speech in my own way it will be shorter, more interesting, and more logical.

I was sitting on the benches opposite in the middle of the night when the Finance Bill was being considered on the Floor of the House in 1954. In those days, the Finance Bill was not sent upstairs. I think that I am the only Member on this side who objected to it being sent upstairs.

The Government of the day were ham-fisted and comatose in the early watches of the night. The Finance Bill, which embodies the financial provisions for taxation during the coming year, had gone through Second Reading and had reached its Committee stage on the Floor of the House. But the Government were in such a somnolent state at four o'clock in the morning that, when Mr. Speaker, who was so annoyed by the procedure that was going on—a great deal of opposition was going on from my side; it is a matter of history and it is on record—said that if there was not more order kept he would leave the Chair, whereupon a "bright" member of my party, who shall be nameless, immediately moved that Mr. Speaker leave the Chair. Before they knew what was happening, the Motion was carried and Mr. Speaker left the Chair and took the Finance Bill with him off the Floor of the House.