Scotland and Wales Bill

Part of New Clause 40 – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 16th February 1977.

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Photo of Hon. Nicholas Ridley Hon. Nicholas Ridley , Cirencester and Tewkesbury 12:00 am, 16th February 1977

I am trying to set out the whole horrible manoeuvre in relation to the Liberal Party. The motion which has been moved is to report Progress. That course has been taken because no bargain has been made with the Liberal Party and no bargain has been secured with any Member in the House of Commons.

The Government have despaired of carrying the Bill. It is the final admission of failure and defeat. This sordid manoeuvre, this whole smelling, degrading, disgusting manoeuvre that has been carried out by the Government, has finally come to the point where they can no longer continue with it themselves, where they have lost faith in their own sordid enterprise. The significance of the motion to report Progress is not that the Committee is tired and does not wish to continue the debate. It is that a crisis of confidence has arisen in the ranks of the Labour Party because the Government have failed to secure the compliance of the Liberal Party to support them in their timetable motion. They have failed to secure the compliance of their own dissidents, if I might coin a phrase from alien parts of the country.

The Government are reduced to the point of having to put the issue to the test. We are on the eve of a political crisis. We are on the eve of a situation in which the Government will no longer be able to proceed with their commitment on the Bill. This is a moment of great seriousness and importance.

I believe that it is right for my hon. Friends to proceed to debate the Bill. The next amendment should be taken, because there is no point in stopping debating the Bill simply because the Government have thrown in the sponge and given up their resolve to proceed with the Bill, knowing full well that basically they do not have support in the House, in the country, or anywhere else in the world for this mad, cynical manoeuvre on which they embarked in the hope of securing electoral advantage.

I shall vote against the motion.