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Business Of The House

Volume 463: debated on Thursday 7 April 1949

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Would the Leader of the House be good enough to tell us the Business for next week?

Yes, Sir. The Business for next week will be as follows:—

Monday, 11th April—The general debate on the Budget Resolutions and the Economic Situation will be continued and brought to a conclusion on Tuesday. 12th April.

Wednesday, 13th April—Report stage of the Budget Resolutions;

Motion to agree with the Report from the Business Committee on the Time-table for the Iron and Steel Bill, if received;

Second Reading of the Housing (Scotland) Bill and Committee stage of the necessary Money Resolution; and

Committee and remaining stages of the Agricultural Wages (Scotland) Bill [Lords], which is a consolidation Measure.

Thursday, 14th April—It is proposed to meet at 11 a.m. and Questions will be taken until 12 noon.

Adjournment for the Easter Recess until Tuesday, 26th April.

I do not know if this is the convenient moment, but I think it is my duty to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he will make any statement with regard to the affording of time for the Motion which stands on the Order Paper in my name.

[That, in the opinion of this House, the conduct of the Chairman of Ways and Means on 5th April, 1949, in refusing to order the hon. Member for Norwich to withdraw a charge or accusation, publicly confirmed by the hon. Member, that an hon. Member of the Opposition had been guilty of a lying accusation was wanting in the impartiality required for the discharge of his office.]

Before my right hon. Friend replies, may I be permitted to say, since my name is mentioned specifically in the Motion, that I have not the least desire to be even associated with any transgression of the rules of good Order of this House. Nor do I wish in any way to be associated, even indirectly, with a Motion which implies criticism of the Chairman of Ways and Means whom I hold in the highest respect, as do all the other hon. Members of the House. Therefore, if it would ease the situation, I should be prepared to withdraw the expression which has given rise to this Motion.

Naturally, if a Motion is on the Order Paper, and particularly if it has any material support, I would sooner provide facilities and have it disposed of, if that should prove to be necessary. On the other hand—believe me, I am trying not to be controversial especially as I was electioneering elsewhere—it was a rather exciting night and the House was tuned up. I should have thought, if I may say so, especially in view of my hon. Friend's observation just now, that it is worthy of consideration whether the matter is worth following up. I would suggest respectfully to the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg) that perhaps in all the circumstances, especially in view of what my hon. Friend has said, perhaps he might not think it worth while to keep the Motion on the Order Paper.

If, however, he persists in the view that he preferred to leave it there, then—I should not like to be finally committed, I would like to think about it—certainly I would consider whether facilities ought not to be provided. However, in all the circumstances of the case, especially the nature of the night and the atmosphere of the House at the time, and the rather handsome gesture that my hon. Friend has made, I should have thought that we could let it go.

If I may say so, I much appreciate the tone of the right hon. Gentleman's reply to me because he appreciates that I did not quite know what was going to happen and, therefore, to some extent I am thinking aloud when I make this comment on what he has said. My own feeling is that it probably would not be necessary to move a Motion of this kind but, equally, I think it would be both in my interests and in the interests of the House if some opportunity were afforded for me to make a short statement of the reasons which prompted me to put this Motion on the Order Paper and, if the House thought fit, that I should withdraw the Motion in the proper way with the leave of the House at the proper time, which would take perhaps 10 minutes or a quarter of an hour. I should have thought that was the more convenient course because, I am sorry to say—and this is the criticism I have to make of what the right hon. Gentleman has proposed—I consider, and it is my honest opinion, that the terms of the Motion were justified, and that there was a deliberate refusal to enforce the laws of Order of the House—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—not by the hon. Member for Norwich (Mr. Paton) but by the Chair against whom the Motion of Censure was directed.

If I may speak again, I also appreciate the restrained manner in which the hon. Gentleman has put his point. I do appreciate that. I have read about the other night, and I would only ask the hon. Member perhaps to be so good as to think about it and consider whether it is worth following up. If there should be any subsequent discussion, perhaps we might have a word about it. The trouble is that if the hon. Gentleman makes observations, they must be replied to—he appreciates that—and then we are off. I feel that in all the circumstances of this case it is one of the things we might let go. However, let the hon. Gentleman think about it and, if he wants to have a further talk about it, I shall be perfectly happy to see him.

Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will leave it at that for the moment at any rate.

I feel that this is a House of Commons matter and that parties and Governments are not involved. I should not like a wrong impression to go out to the country—because, after all, what we say here we say to the world. Speaking as one who was in the House during the whole of that period, I was much impressed by the impartiality and the tact of the Chair.

We must not debate this matter now. May I suggest to the House that as the matter is being left over, the least said the soonest mended.

If I may pass from our affairs to those of the nation, can my right hon. Friend say whether there is any chance of his giving a day after the Recess for the discussion of the first Report of the Committee on Productivity which contains some valuable material for discussion, and a Debate on which might stimulate further public interest in the problem of increasing productivity?

Nobody would be more delighted than I to have such a discussion but I doubt whether it would be possible to give a special day. Of couse it could come up on Supply. As a matter of fact, I think it would be quite relevant to the Debate on the Budget and the economic situation, and possibly my hon. Friend may be fortunate in catching the eye of the Chairman during that discussion. Certainly I entirely agree with him that the Report is worthy of the consideration of the House.

When my right hon. Friend is considering the Business for after the Easter Recess, would he bear in mind that the two Assembly Measures which are at present before Parliament will not go through "on the nod," and that considerable time may be required for the Debates on them?

We shall have to make provision for these Measures to go through. No doubt my hon. Friend will try to keep himself informed as to what is likely to happen.

In regard to the proposed discussion on productivity, might I ask the Minister, in view of the fact that there is a deputation out in the Lobby now in connection with productivity—they have been working too hard and now they are redundant—whether he would not consider a discussion on the necessity of now giving more attention to the home market in view of the fact that the export market is sagging, and that redundancy is taking place in many industries?

I am afraid I cannot quite pick up that series of inconsequential observations to a sufficient degree to make a considered reply.