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Volume 400: debated on Friday 16 June 1944

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Motion made, and Question proposed,

"That this House, at its rising this day, do adjourn till Tuesday next."—[Mr. James Stuart.]

I want to oppose this Motion, so that we may meet on Monday and discuss the Motion on the Paper, standing in my name and the names of my hon. Friends.

[ That in the opinion of this House the failure of His Majesty's Government to recognise the Committee of National Liberation as the Provisional Government of France and to secure its complete participation in the administration of liberated French territory, is inconsistent with the much more favourable treatment given to provisional Governments manifestly less representative of the peoples concerned; and the continuance of this policy must spread misunderstanding and dismay amongst the resistance movements of France and may diminish this enthusiasm for the manifold and dangerous acts of co-operation by which they can save the lives and speed the advance of the men of the allied invasion force.]

I am not going to discuss the issue which I propose should be discussed on Monday. The only thing I can do is to suggest reasons why that issue should be discussed. I do not think I will offend seriously, if I take the reasons given by the Prime Minister for not discussing this subject, and show that each of them is fallacious. First, the right hon. Gentleman asked, in general, for the confidence of this House. He is ever ready to appeal to the majority of Members for confidence, but five out of six of those Members who have put their names to this Motion have been elected to the House against the will of the Government, by electors who do not have confidence in the Government, either in general or on specific issues of which this is one. I have had the honour of speaking to all the five Members, and I will ask that my hon. Friends in the House, who do not share our views, should remember from time to time, that we represent a larger number of people than our numbers in the House would suggest.

On a point of Order. Will the hon. Baronet be in Order in discussing whether the Motion standing in his name should be discussed or not, on Monday? Is he not in Order only so long as he gives reasons why this Motion, relating to the Adjournment, should not be carried?

The hon. Member is perfectly correct. The hon. Baronet can only give reasons, very briefly, far not accepting the Adjournment Motion. He cannot discuss the merits of his Motion, nor can he go into the reasons at length.

I was going to be as brief as possible, and you, Sir, will no doubt tell me, if I am out of Order. I will confine myself to arguments designed to show that this issue should be discussed at a very early date.

The hon. Baronet is now going into the merits of his Motion, and that would be going outside the Rules of Order.

I am going to give reasons why my Motion should be discussed before the end of next week. If the present Motion is passed, and the Business announced for next week is taken, my Motion will not be discussed until after the end of next week. I propose to give reasons why it should be discussed before then, and, to begin with, I am going to show that the Prime Minister's reasons for suggesting that it should not be discussed are fallacious.

Am I not correct in suggesting that the hon. Member would not be in Order in arguing on the lines he mentioned? Would he be in Order in giving reasons for discussing his Motion between now and next week?

The hon. Member rose when I was about to rise. The hon. Baronet is certainly going out of Order when he says that he will give reasons why his Motion should be discussed before the end of next week.

If, under the Motion now moved by the Chief Whip, the subject will not be discussed before the end of next week, and, if I want it to be discussed on Monday, I am surely in Order in saying why it should be discussed on Monday.

No, that is where the hon. Baronet is wrong. He may only say that, in his view, the matter should be discussed on Monday, but he must not go into the merits of the case.

I am not going into the merits of the case. I am not going to argue why we should recognise the French Government, or anything of that kind.

The hon. Member must not argue why it should be taken now, because that would be going into the merits of the case.

We have frequently had this kind of discussion before, on a Motion to adjourn over a period, and hon. Members have given reasons why the House should not adjourn for such a long period. In support of their contention, they have suggested the subjects which required early discussion. In my submission to you, Sir, I have the right to do the same in relation to this issue.

The hon. Baronet's submission is correct. He may say what subjects he thinks should be discussed, but that is the beginning and end of the scope of his argument.

Would not the usual procedure be for the hon. Baronet to move the Adjournment of the House, on a definite matter of urgent public importance?

I am well aware that, numerically, I and my Friends are only a very small number in this House, so I rather appeal for your protection, Mr. Speaker. You have told me that it is in Order to state what issues we think need to be discussed at an early date. Surely, if we are allowed to state a thing we should be allowed to state briefly some of the reasons which have led us to this conclusion. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Otherwise, we are just left to a bald statement, and the Government make a bald denial. When it was suggested by the Prime Minister earlier this week, for example, as a reason for not having a discussion on this matter, that there was no public interest in it, it is surely relevant for us to state—I do not want to go into the details—

I am afraid this is an old situation. I have often known some divergence of opinion between the objector to a Motion and the Speaker of the day. It is a fact that the hon. Member may not go into the merits, or the reasons for a Motion of this kind. In effect he may only say: "I object to adjourning now, on account of my belief that the matter of a certain Motion ought to be discussed."

I would not claim to be an expert in Parliamentary procedure, but I have a sort of instinctive belief that the hon. Member for Mossley (Mr. A. Hopkinson) is always wrong. If an hon. Member considers that the House should meet on Monday, to discuss a particular question, surely he is entitled to give his reasons. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Why not? I do not mean that he should discuss the question itself, but that he should give reasons why the House should meet on Monday. Surely, he is entitled to say that he is suggesting that the House meet on Monday, because the people of the country are demanding that the matter in question be discussed. [HON. MEMBERS: "Speech."] If there have been resolutions from all kinds of organisations in the country demanding that this matter should be discussed on Monday, surely the hon. Member is entitled to say so, without discussing the principle at all. I consider, otherwise, that this is simply taking advantage of a small minority.

I would point out to the hon. Member that, if one goes into any argument at all, why the House should meet and the matter should be debated, the Government are entitled to make a reply and to answer the argument. Therefore, we shall get entirely off the subject of the Motion, and have an entirely different Debate. We should not be discussing whether we adjourn till Tuesday, but the merits of another question.

Would you kindly explain to the House, Mr. Speaker, the fundamental difference between the Motion, "That this House do now adjourn," upon which any question not involving legislation may be raised, and, "That this House do adjourn till Tuesday next"?

One is a general Motion, and the other is a very limited Motion to adjourn to a particular day.

Suppose the House were asked to agree to a Motion, "That this House do adjourn till the Tuesday after Easter," that is to a fixed day. Lots of subjects are raised on the last day before a Recess on a Motion of that kind.

On the last day, we have only the Motion "That this House do now adjourn." The Easter Recess Motion is taken on the previous day.

Would not the hon. Baronet be entitled to divide the House against the proposed Adjournment till Tuesday?

May I put this point to you, Mr. Speaker? The hon. Baronet wants to move against adjourning till next Tuesday. Hon. Members are not in a position to judge whether there is substance in his wish or not, if he cannot state why he does not want to adjourn till next Tuesday. If he is only able to stand up and say "I do not want to adjourn till next Tuesday," the House is not in a position to judge. Surely, he is entitled to give his reasons.

The Rule of this House always has been that one cannot discuss the merits of subjects that one is arguing ought to be discussed.

I do not claim to be an expert on the Rules of this House but I have a memory of the first Christmas Adjournment of this war. The Government then proposed to adjourn for five weeks, and the Labour Party officially moved that we should adjourn for three week's. I cannot remember exactly what happened, but there was a prolonged Debate, which there could not possibly have been if there had been a Rule of the House at that time that hon. Members—a large number of Members then but a smaller number now—who wanted to propose a shorter Adjournment than the Government proposed, were only entitled to get up and say: "We want to adjourn for a shorter period, for reasons X.Y.Z.", and then to sit down, leaving the House to vote on the matter, without hearing the merits of the issues to be discussed and the reasons why those issues should be discussed soon. I cannot see how that Debate could have happened at that length.

Nor do I. I do not recollect the circumstances of that Debate, but there must have been some leniency extended on that occasion.

Why should you be lenient to large numbers and not lenient to small numbers? [HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw."]

If the Patronage Secretary had come forward and said: "I propose that this House adjourn until Wednesday next," would he have been entitled to give reasons why we were not meeting on Tuesday? Of course he would. If he now proposes that we meet on Tuesday, and some of us think that we should meet on Monday we should be able to give reasons for it, and he is entitled to answer them. I have a very good reason for suggesting that hon. Members should be here on Monday.

I think that as much leniency should be shown, as was shown to larger numbers at that time, but, in view of what you have said, Mr. Speaker,

Division No. 27.


Adamson, Mrs. Jennie L. (Dartford)Bartlett, C. V. O.Bower, Norman (Harrow)
Adamson, W. M. (Cannock)Beaumont, Hubert (Batley)Boyce, H. Leslie
Albery, Sir IrvingBeaumont, Maj. Hn. R. E. B. (P'tsm'th)Bracken, Rt. Hon. B.
Amery, Rt. Hon. L. C. M. S.Beechman, N. A.Brass, Capt. Sir W.
Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)Bellenger, F. J.Brocklebank, Sir C. E. R.
Anderson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Sc'h. Univ.)Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central)Brooke, H. (Lewisham)
Apsley, LadyBennett, Sir P. F. B. (Edgbaston)Brown, Rt. Hon. E. (Leith)
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R.Benson, G.Bull, B. B.
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.Berry, Hon. G. L. (Buckingham)Bullock, Capt. M.
Balfour, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. H.Bird, Sir R. B.Cadogan, Major Sir E.
Barnes, A. J.Bossom, A. C.Campbell, Sir E. T. (Bromley)

I will eliminate a good deal of what I want to say. The present situation is intolerable. Every day it goes on, is making it worse. We are, in my view, piling up suspicion and for the future between the French and British people, and it is intolerable—

The hon. Member is going much too far in discussing the situation between ourselves and the French. If he continues to do so, I really should have to remind him that he must not talk on that line, otherwise I should order him to resume his seat.

That may be so—[HON. MEMBERS: "It is SO."]—but we are told by the Prime Minister that a reason for not holding this Debate, at an early date, is that it may bring comfort to the enemy. What could bring more comfort to the enemy than the further day-to-day continuance of a situation, in which it appears that the whole House is acquiescing in silence on this point? Each day that that goes on unaltered, makes the situation worse and worse. The French have gone through far more suffering than we have. We are now being obliged to blast their cities; we tell them we are liberating them—

I am afraid the hon. Member is not paying any attention to my Ruling. I must order him to discontinue his speech.

On a point of Order. Could I object to this Motion? The Scottish Members will not be able to get here by Monday as most of them will have gone home, but I submit that the other hon. Members ought to meet on Monday, because Tuesday is a Scottish day, and the other Members will not be present on Tuesday.

Question put: "That this House, at its rising this day, do adjourn till Tuesday next."
The House divided: Ayes, 177; Noes, 6.

Carver, Colonel W. H.Headlam, Lt.-Col. Sir C. M.Pickthorn, K. W. M.
Cary, R. A.Helmore, Air Commodore W.Ponsonby, Col. C. E.
Castlereagh, ViscountHenderson, A. (Kingswinford)Prescott, Capt. W. R. S.
Chapman, A. (Rutherglen)Henderson, T. (Tradeston)Rankin, Sir R.
Chapman, Sir S. (Edinburgh, S.)Hill, Prof. A. V.Reed, Sir H. S. (Aylesbury)
Charleston, H. C.Hogg, Hon. Q. McG.Ritson, J.
Clarks, Colonel R. S.Hopkinson, A.Robertson, Rt. Hn. Sir M. A. (Mitcham)
Cobb, Captain E. C.Horsbrugh, FlorenceRoyds, Admiral Sir P. M. R.
Cooke, J. D. (Hammersmith, S.)Hughes, R. MoelwynRussell, Sir A. (Tynemouth)
Cripps, Rt. Hon. Sir StaffordHynd, J. B.Scott, R. D. (Wansbeck)
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.James, Wing-Com. A. (Well'borough)Shaw, Capt. W. T. (Forfar)
Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.Jeffreys, General Sir G. D.Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W. D.
Davies, Major Sir G. F. (Yeovil)Johnstone, Rt. Hon. H. (Mid'sbro W.)Smith, E. P. (Ashford)
Davison, Sir W. H.Keeling, E. H.Smithers, Sir W.
Denman, Hon. R. D.King-Hall, Commander W. S. R.Somervell, Rt. Hon. Sir D. B.
Douglas, F. C. R.Kirby, B. V.Southby, Comdr. Sir A. R. J.
Dower, Lt.-Col. A. V. G.Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.Stanley, Col. Rt. Hon. Oliver
Drewe, C.Leigh, Sir J.Storey, S
Duckworth, Arthur (Shrewsbury)Lennox-Boyd, A. T. L.Stourton, Major Hon. J. J.
Duncan, Rt. Hon. Sir A. R. (C. Ldn.)Leonard, W.Strauss, H. G. (Norwich)
Dunn, E.Linstead, H. N.Stuart, Lord C. Crichton (Northwich)
Eccles, D. M.Lipson, D. L.Stuart, Rt. Hon. J. (Moray & Nairn)
Ede, J. C.Llewellin, Col. Rt. Hon. J. J.Studholme, Major H. G.
Eden, Rt. Hon. A.Lloyd, C. E. (Dudley)Sutcliffe, H.
Edmondson, Major Sir J.Lloyd, Major E. G. R. (Renfrew, E.)Tate, Mrs. Mavis C.
Emrys-Evans, P. V.Locker-Lampson, Comdr. O. S.Thomas, I. (Keighley)
Erskine-Hill, A. G.Loftus, P. C.Thomas, J. P. L. (Hereford)
Findlay, Sir E.Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. OliverThomas, Dr. W. S. Russell (S'th'm'tn)
Fox, Squadron-Leader Sir G. W. G.Mabane, Rt. Hon. W.Thorne, W.
Fraser, T. (Hamilton)MacAndrew, Col. Sir C. G.Thorneycroft, Maj. G. E. P. (Stafford)
Fyfe, Major Sir D. P. M.McEwen, Capt. J. H. F.Thurtle, E.
Galbraith, Comdr. T. D.McNeil, H.Tree, A. R. L. F.
Gammans, Capt. L. D.Mander, G. le M.Wakefield, W. W.
Garro Jones, G. M.Manningham-Buller, R. E.Walkden, E. (Doncaster)
George, Maj. Rt. Hn. G. Lloyd (P'broke)Mathers, G.Ward, Col. Sir A. L. (Hull)
George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesey)Messer, F.Ward, Irene M. B. (Wallsend)
Glanville, J. E.Mills, Sir F. (Leyton, E.)Waterhouse, Captain Rt. Hon. C.
Goldie, N. B.Molson, A. H. E.Watkins, F. C.
Grant-Ferris, Wing-Comdr. R.Montague, F.Watt, Brig. G. S. Harvie (Richmond)
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A.Morris-Jones, Sir HenryWhiteley, Rt. Hon. W. (Blaydon)
Gridley, Sir A. B.Morrison, G. A. (Scottish Univ's)Williams, Sir H. G. (Croydon, S.)
Griggs, Sir E. W. M. (Altrincham)Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.)Willink, Rt. Hon. H. U.
Grimston, R. V. (Westbury)Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)Wilmot, John
Guest, Dr. L. Haden (Islington, N.)Murray, J. D. (Spennymoor)Windsor, W.
Hacking, Rt. Hon. Sir D. H.Nicholson, Captain G. (Farnham)Windsor-Clive, Lt.-Col. G.
Hall, Rt. Hon. G. H. (Aberdare)Nicolson, Hon. H. G. (Leicester, W.)Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Hall, W. G. (Colne Valley)Peake, Rt. Hon. O.
Harris, Rt. Hon. Sir P. A.Peat, C. U.


Harvey, T. E.Petherick, M.Mr. A. S. L. Young and Mr. Pym


Bowles, F. G.McGovern, J.


Driberg, T. E N.Maxton, J.Sir Richard Acland and
Lawson, H. M. (Skipton)Stokes, R. R.Mr. Loverseed.