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Adjournment (Easter)

Volume 498: debated on Wednesday 9 April 1952

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Motion made, and Question proposed,

That this House, at its rising Tomorrow, do adjourn till Monday, 21st April.—[Mr. Crookshank.]

4.26 p.m.

On a point of order. I would appreciate your guidance, Mr. Speaker, on a similar difficulty in regard to this Motion. Some of my hon. Friends and I should like to ask how it is possible to make certain that this Motion refers to April, 1952, and not April, 1958. Permit me to submit to you, Mr. Speaker, that until some few years ago it was customary to word this Motion so that the year could be identified; and that custom is still pursued in the Journal.

Though I do not suspect the Government of any evil intentions on this occasion, I should like to suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, that, if this Motion were passed in its present form, it would be quite possible, after the House has risen for this Easter Recess, for the Government to say that they intended it to be an Adjournment until April, 1958.

I do not know how they will overcome their difficulties in regard to the Finance Bill and the Army and Air Force (Annual) Bill, but I do submit to you seriously that, if we pass this Motion in this form without identifying the year, we shall commit ourselves into the hands of the Government, and that it will be up to them to choose when to bring the House back again.

Further to that point of order. May I respectfully, before you give your Ruling on the point raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Wandsworth, Central (Mr. Adams), recall to you, Mr. Speaker, an episode earlier in the history of this House which, I suggest, may be of some help to you in judging the validity of the point raised by my hon. Friend. I refer to the episode of Mr. John Wheble in the late 18th century. Mr. Wheble was a printer who printed what purported to be reports of the debates of this House. At that time the House took the view—as we should now consider, mistakenly—that such attempts to report its debates were a breach of Privilege.

An Order was, therefore, issued by the House to Mr. Wheble. The reason why I raise this matter is to show the importance this House has always attached to precision in the matter of dates. The Order issued to Mr. Wheble ran as follows:
"Ordered, That John Wheble do attend this House on Tuesday next."
Mr. Wheble disobeyed the Order, and it was urged in his defence that the words "Tuesday next"—which, indeed, may be considered to be more precise than the words in this Motion—were not a clear instruction to him since the only date on the Order was contained in the words "die Jovis," which, I understand, mean Thursday, and it was argued on Mr. Wheble's behalf that it was expressed in a language which it was not obligatory on His Majesty's subjects to understand, and that, therefore, the words "Tuesday next" had no clear meaning, since there was no date after which Tuesday could be next.

Further to illustrate the great regard that this House has for precision, I would observe that it was further argued that, when the Order was issued from this House to somebody outside it containing the instruction that he should attend this House, the words "this House" were not sufficiently precise; for when Mr. Wheble received that Order, he was, of course at his own house, and that, most properly, he should have been considered as having obeyed the Order by staying at home.

I must confess that what happened to Mr. Wheble immediately after that is not clear, but at least it is certain that, in the long run, the House was not able to proceed in the way which it had intended against Mr. Wheble, and the principle with which it was concerned—the reporting of the debates of this House—was ultimately conceded. It is possible that the House on that occasion might have disciplined Mr. Wheble as, however ill-advisedly, it none the less intended to do.

We have to consider the fact of the intention of the House, and I would respectfully draw your attention to the fact that, very unwisely, the House on that occasion found itself in that difficulty because of the lack of precision in the way in which it expressed its views in official documents. I am sure that the Leader of the House would not wish to follow the example of the disastrous Administration which was conducting the affairs of this country at that period of the 18th century, when they attempted to discipline Mr. Wheble.

I am sure the right hon. Gentleman could help us by moving a manuscript Amendment either to put in the word "next" as an addition to "April 21st," or, as my hon. Friend the Member for Wandsworth, Central, suggests, the insertion of the date "1952," for it is not only 1958 which could be referred to here, but a period longer than that, by six, nine or 11 years respectively. It is my respectful hope that what I have said on this occasion may be of some help to you, Sir, in deciding the validity of the point raised by my hon. Friend.

In reply to that point of order, I think the hon. Member who raised it answered it himself. The meetings of this House depend on far more powerful constitutional motives and safeguards than on the printing of "1952" on the Order Paper. This Motion is in common form, and, it being a Motion for the Adjournment for Easter, I think the intention is perfectly clear—that it means 21st April of this year. In giving that Ruling I do not feel at all embarrassed by the case of Mr. Wheble, because the facts do not appear to me to be on all fours at all, and there is, therefore, no necessity to amend this Motion.

4.33 p.m.

May I respectfully draw your attention, Mr. Speaker, to the fact that, as recently as the 1920s, the common form of this Motion was not the form which appears on the Order Paper today, but was more meticulous in its terms? When the Motion referred to an adjournment to a subsequent date in the same month, it referred to such-and-such a date instant of that month.

Last year, the Adjournment was moved on 1st August, and the terms used were, "That this House do adjourn until the 16th day of October next." In other words, we have always made it perfectly clear until recently, and our intentions were perfectly clear until, on this occasion, through the incompetence of the Government, the old form of words has been altered. If we accept this as common form, some Government, worse in its intentions than the present one—though that is difficult to imagine—or a Government with more pronounced intentions, might put down a Motion for the Adjournment, and we might subsequently find after the House has adjourned that Members had not understood and were not aware what the Government had in mind; the House might even be adjourned to another year.

I have made some inquiries on the point, and I find that Monday, 21st April, does not refer only to Monday, 21st April of this year, but might refer to 1958 or a whole series of years after that. Therefore, I suggest that, as a further safeguard, we might ask you, Mr. Speaker, to ask the Leader of the House to draw up a more meticulous form of words that more precisely indicate the intentions of the Government.

May I say a few words on this point? What matters, of course, is how these words are understood by the hon. Gentlemen to whom they are addressed. If it be the case that hon. Gentlemen who have professed no understanding of these words do not really understand them, and do not turn up on the appointed date, we shall really have to do our best to get along without them.

Further to that point of order. I suggest that the hon. and learned Member is completely wrong. All hon. Members here today hope that they understand the intention of the Motion on the Order Paper, but the danger lies, as we have pointed out, in assuming that the intention of the Government coincides with the words which we are asked to approve in such a Motion, and it may be that a situation could arise in which the Government might be saying that they interpreted the Motion differently from the way the House did when it passed it.

4.36 p.m.

I do not know if I can help you, Mr. Speaker, by seeking to add "1952" to the Motion but, leaving that matter aside, I suggest that this matter raises very important questions of principle which this House should discuss before we break up for the Easter Recess. Two of my hon. Friends and myself have an Amendment on the Order Paper proposing that the reassembly of this House be postponed for only one day, and we have done that in all humility and out of a spirit of reasonableness, which I hope will be interpreted in just the same way as the spirit in which the Minister of Pensions made his announcement today. It is when we have a reasonable approach to a matter that we are likely to get down and study the matter properly.

We on this side of the House all appreciate that the demise of the Crown and difficulties of that sort made it necessary for the Government to take a shorter Easter Recess than it sometimes does, but, in fact, the Easter Recess has sometimes been for one week and sometimes two. We suggest that the House should return on the Tuesday, and we do it for this reason. Whenever the House has previously adjourned, either for one week or for two, it has always met again on a Tuesday, and therefore there is here a departure from principle, and we say that this House ought to be very careful how it departs from precedent. Precedents are of the utmost importance in Parliament, and, if we do not allow ourselves to be guided by precedents and Standing Orders, we should find ourselves in difficulties.

It is very proper that one should take this opportunity of making some inquiry on why this change has been made. Of course, the reason for the return of the House on a Tuesday is an obvious one; it is to enable hon. Members, who not only have duties here but in their constituencies, to get together with their constituents and learn their opinions. I can appreciate that the Minister of Health may feel that, under present circumstances, that is undesirable. If his hon. Friends would go among those who elected them, they would become completely demoralised. We are entitled to know if that is the object of this departure from precedent, but I rather suspect that, whatever the Minister of Health may think, he will not say that, but that we will be told that the reason why he is doing this is in order to get Government business through.

I think that is the point he would make, and it is rather like the criticism that some of us have been making on the Government's programme. If the situation is so bad, then this is far too little, because if the right hon. Gentleman intends to get his programme through we should not be meeting on Monday week, but on Bank Holiday Monday. If, on the other hand, it is the object of the right hon. Gentleman to abandon part of his programme, then obviously we should consider which part of the programme he is abandoning so that the House may be in a position of assessing whether we really need come back on the Monday or not.

Therefore, it is most important that we should take the opportunity of this historic occasion for looking at the whole matter. I say that this is a historic occasion because, of course, this was the original Motion which used to be moved on the last day of the Session, and it was moved in those days—as will be seen if one looks at the old Reports—just for this particular purpose. The difficulty was that the last day of the Session was one on which some Members did not always attend, and, unfortunately, on one occasion this Motion was talked out. Then a very unfortunate situation arose, unknown to most of the hon. Members who had gone home—the House had to reassemble on the next day pursuant to Standing Order.

Therefore, we have departed from this system of having this Motion which enables us to discuss future business and have instead the general Adjournment Motion on which, of course, such a discussion would not be relevant. But it is particularly relevant at the moment, in view of the Rulings of Mr. Speaker, which I think, if I may say so with all humility, we all appreciated and concurred in, that business questions should be addressed to the business of the coming week and not to hypothetical cases, as to whether the right hon. Gentleman is or is not going to put down all the Motions which some of his hon. Friends behind him are urging upon him.

There is a third reason why we should consider this question in some detail. When we adjourned for seven and a half weeks we had a short debate on that matter, and the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Health recalled what was said by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition. He pointed out that my right hon. Friend had said on a previous occasion that this rather more lengthy Adjournment was necessary in order to allow Members to arrange their affairs, and the right hon. Gentleman said he thought a similar Adjournment was necessary in order, again, to allow Members to arrange their affairs.

When I come to discuss and deal with, as I hope shortly to do, the actual business, it will be seen that if the programme is to be completed the House will probably have to sit until 27th February next without rising again at all. Under those circumstances it will be reasonable, I think, to allow hon. Gentlemen opposite a clear week-end—not at the holiday period—in which to arrange their affairs. There are a number of hon. Members whose business and other things obviously make it necessary for them to make other arrangements, and the House ought not to decide to sit until 27th February unless, first of all, we have a look to see what—

I cannot see anything about 27th February in this Amendment.

May I put the point I am developing? It is relevant to see for how long this Adjournment is to be if we are entitled under those circumstances to discuss the length of the other periods at which we are going to start, because, obviously, if business is in such a position that we cannot possibly conclude it all without ever having any other period of Adjournment, then there is an advantage in making this one a little bit longer.

That goes beyond the Amendment. The Amendment is very simple; it is to leave out Monday, 21st, and to insert Tuesday, 22nd, and I think any argument going beyond that is out of order.

On a point of order. May I respectfully remind you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker—

On a point of order. In my submission, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, this is the one occasion on which within the Rules of Order we may discuss forthcoming business. We cannot do it on the business Motion because there we are confined to the next week. In the old days the Motion for the Adjournment of the House was an ordinary Adjournment Motion. According to Erskine May it was Opposition time, and it provided the Opposition with the opportunity to discuss forthcoming business. Now, owing to the fact that that Motion was once talked out, the Motion to adjourn the House tomorrow has ceased to be Opposition time and has become Private Members' time. Therefore, it ceases to be available for discussing forthcoming business.

The Motion which is moved today—and I submit that this is according to Erskine May—is the one opportunity with which we are provided to discuss the Government's intention regarding the legislative programme and what they are going to introduce and the timetable. I very respectfully submit, Mr. Deputy-Speaker—and I am hoping later to catch your eye—that this is a very important question and that this is the one opportunity we have to discuss it.

I should have thought that would have been more appropriate on the main Motion than on this Amendment, which is quite narrow.

With regard to that, I do not know if it would be for the convenience of the House if the matters were discussed together. Whether we adjourn tomorrow or the next day, or whether we adjourn on some other occasion, I should have thought the broad question of discussing what is the legislative programme was relevant on all those matters and that it might have been for everybody's convenience to discuss them together and thus save the time of the House.

Further to that point of order. May I venture respectfully to refresh your memory, Mr. Deputy-Speaker?

Perhaps I might be allowed to answer one thing at a time. On the point raised by the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget), I imagine that the hon. and learned Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) is in the course of moving his Amendment. If he does not move it, he will have exhausted his right to speak again and will not be able to move it later on.

I rose to intervene in the course of the speech of my hon. nad learned Friend the Member for Horn-church (Mr. Bing) and I said, I hope audibly, "On a point of order." You, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, called my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) who had not, in fact, at that stage announced his intention to rise on a point of order.

I cannot allow that to be said. The hon. and learned Member for Northamtpon did indicate a point of order, and I called him on that account. I hope the hon. Member will withdraw that remark. It is not true.

If you say that, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, then, of course. I do withdraw it. But my impression is that my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton said it only after I had used the words. The second point is a more important one. We had a debate on 6th December last on a Motion tabled by my right hon. Friends to vary the date of the Christmas Adjournment. On that occasion, Mr. Speaker was in the Chair. The terms of that Motion were to antedate the proposed date of the Adjournment by seven days, that is, to substitute 22nd January for 29th January, and, therefore, I apprehend that the same rules as applied to that particular Motion will apply to this one.

I understood the hon. Member was raising a point of order. What he is saying is rather confusing, and if he put it more simply I might understand it.

I am trying to call your attention, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, to a precedent on this matter which happened only a few months ago and about which, I suggest, it would not be improper for me to refresh your memory. As recently as 6th December a similar Motion was moved and Mr. Speaker ruled that the discussion could be a wide one. My hon. Friend the Member for Malden (Mr. Driberg) spoke on Korea on this Motion and, furthermore, immediately before hearing a Motion on the Christmas Adjournment, my hon. Friend the Member for Eton and Slough (Mr. Fenner Brockway) sought to move the Adjournment under Standing Order No. 9 on a matter of public importance.

I think I follow the point of order quite clearly, but on that occasion I do not think there was an Amendment as narrowly drafted as this, which is to leave out Monday, 21st April, and insert Tuesday, 22nd April.

I am sure my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Horn-church has many things to say which would fall within even the narrowest of Rulings, and therefore may I respectfully refresh your memory, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, on the Ruling, because I have the volume of the OFFICIAL REPORT before me? The Amendment then was to insert 22nd January instead of 29th January. That was what was being discussed, and a large number of hon. Members spoke and a great many matters were raised, which I suggest were general matters, under the principle stated in Erskine May that this is a Motion for the Adjournment of the House and it is an opportunity on which we can very specially review the progress of Government Business.

I can only repeat what I said before. The general Motion is for the Adjournment for Easter, but this Amendment which it is sought to move is very narrow.

On a point of order. The Amendment has not yet been moved and my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hornchurch is speaking on the main Question. I submit that it is only when he moves the Amendment and it is seconded that this debate becomes narrow.

I am quite aware of the position, but I pointed out to the hon. and learned Member for Hornchurch that if he does not move his Amendment he will forfeit his right to move it.

I was giving way to hon. Friends who wish to raise points of order, and I was merely emphasising, by means of the Amendment I intend to move when I have finished the remarks I have to make on the Motion, that this departure from precedent crystallises the position we are in. No doubt at some stage we shall be able to obtain some reply as to why this period has been chosen at all.

If I may resume where I left off the argument when some of my hon. Friends came to my assistance, we are now entering upon a period—and I do not think the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Health sufficiently appreciates the fact—which is governed by Rule and Standing Order No. 16 and the Gibson-Bowles Act. [Interruption.] No, not named after the present distinguished Parliamentarians bearing those names. In this period, which ends on 5th August, the average amount of time for legislation other than financial business has been until now 25 days. I do not know whether the Finance Bill will not take rather longer this time than is the average. I say that because I know that a great number of hon. Gentlemen opposite are anxious to raise questions on the Excess Profits Tax, the Purchase Tax and matters of that sort which may result in the Finance Bill debate going on rather longer.

Let us suppose that the financial business only goes on for the average period of 25 days. In that case there are standing on the Order Paper now 10 Bills which have not yet received a Second Reading. There are the Committee stages of one very contentious Measure, the Licensed Premises in New Towns Bill and another Measure that will take a day or so at any rate in Committee—the Post Office Bill. Naturally, this whole matter arises out of and is one of the difficulties which is inherent in the working of our democracy. If hon. Members opposite only poll a minority of the votes in the country, our democratic system works in such a way that they only have a small majority of the seats in this House. That being so, it is really quite impossible for them to put through legislation, and for them to attempt to do so would only run the House into all sorts of difficulties. There are two possible methods. The first is to have no Recess at all. I do not think we should attempt that because we should not achieve anything by it.

It is worth while looking at the actual figures of the possible time. I should like to quote to the House what is said by the two authorities to which hon. Members instinctively turn when they desire guidance on procedure. The first is Erskine May and the second the observations made from time to time by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House. The 14th Chapter of Erskine May, the classic chapter which deals with the arrangement of Sessional Business, ends with these words, which I think the whole House should consider before it assents to this Motion, because they really go to the root of our constitutional practice:
"The conclusion which emerges from the facts, collected in this chapter from the whole range of procedure, is that, while a Government is placed by standing order in effective control of the time of the House, and while it can and sometimes does use its influence over the majority of the House to remove any and every impediment to the full exercise of this control, yet reasonably adequate safeguards exist for the rights of the minority and of private Members as individuals; for these rights are inextricably embedded in the procedure by which Ministers secure the passage of indispensible portions of national business, and no Government could go far in withholding these rights without bringing the machinery of Parliament to a standstill."
That is what we are facing—the possibility that by attempting to adjourn and give the usual holidays and yet force through contentious legislation we shall have the whole business of Parliament brought to a standstill. Before we lightly go away we should make quite certain that there will not be some constitutional crisis through the failure of hon. Gentlemen opposite to get through legislation that is absolutely necessary to the national interest.

There is another point to which I should like to allude in passing. One of the most unfortunate things that could possibly occur in this House would be some large dispute between the Chair or the Chairman of Committees and the House or the Committee as a whole. Without going into the question of merits such a conflict is bound to arise when a Government attempts to force its business through the House. It has been long the tradition of the House to appoint as Chairman of Committees, and Deputy-Chairman, a Member of the Government Party. That dates from the idea that the Chairman should be used to assist in getting Government business through.

I will not allow that to be said. I occupied that position when the party to which I do not belong was in power. I do Pot think it is fair to say that.

I was making no reflection on you whatsoever, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, and with great respect if you had just waited until my next sentence you would have seen that the impression, which perhaps I have erroneously created, was the exact opposite of what I was about to explain to the House.

That has been the old tradition and in those circumstances the occupants of the Chair, who have a very difficult task to do, are placed in the appallingly difficult position that at some time they have to exercise a judicial discretion when dealing with a Motion which is moved by the party which they support, because of the tradition of the House in alternating the Chairman of Ways and Means in accordance with party. That may be a reason for departing from the usual procedure, and I do not suggest that there has ever been anything that was not fair and proper with regard to the conduct of a Deputy-Speaker and yourself, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, in dealing with the problems that arise. But it is one of the difficulties.

We do not want to bring our Parliamentary system into disrepute by allowing a situation to arise where this problem is always coming forward. There is no Member who, when he has not delivered a speech, and the Closure has been moved, does not feel in those circumstances that the Closure has been moved unfairly. Therefore, we want, if possible, to avoid a political situation where Government business can only be got by the continual movement of the Closure.

I suggest therefore, that the House ought to approach this problem and, subject to what the right hon. Gentleman says, it ought to have not only this Recess that he is proposing, but the rather longer one which is proposed in my Amendment which I hope to move later on. If we do that, it will involve an alteration in Government business, and we ought to know from the right hon. Gentleman whether he intends to alter Government business.

When this matter was being discussed on a previous occasion the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Health expressed his view of what should be the proper conduct of the House. I should like to read to the House what he then said, so that he can tell us whether he now considers that this is the right course for us to pursue. The right hon. Gentleman said:
"My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and his colleagues propose to move when we are sure of the ground, to make the necessary preparations and not to take false steps. They do not propose to rush into every kind of fantastic legislation, if that is the complaint. The post-war Parliaments have, I think we can all agree in retrospect, legislated ad nauseam, and my hon. Friend the Member for Stratford (Mr. Profumo) was right. We ought not really to give the old Mother of Parliament legislative indigestion."
That is exactly what is happening at the moment. Then the right hon. Gentleman added these pregnant words:
"It is not necessary. We have got to digest the legislation we have already passed."
I congratulate hon. Members opposite on their digestive system.
"Legislation, after all, is only one of the most important functions of Parliament. Careful administration and control of finance are equally important, and this House really should be, and is and has been in the past, the great forum of debate for the nation."—[OFFICIAL. REPORT, 13th November, 1951; Vol. 493, c. 940.]
If we are going to be the great forum of debate for the nation and we are going to pass all this legislation and digest it, we shall need every moment of time that we can secure.

Let us see whether, in fact, that is physically possible, because we on this side of the House have all been puzzled as to what are the right hon. Gentleman's plans. I think he can take it from me that the latest possible date for prorogation is 27th February, 1953, and it would be impossible under financial arrangements to carry Parliament on any further than that if the necessary votes were got before 31st March. In those circumstances, if we take after 5th August and we sit every day, according to my calculations we have got 143 sitting days in which to carry through legislation; that is after Supply is finished on 5th August.

But we must have some regard for another place. They, too, have to pass legislation and so, in fact, the number of effective sitting days which we possess are somewhere in the neighbourhood of 120. That would involve what some hon. Members may consider undesirable—not rising for Christmas before Christmas Day itself. That would mean sitting absolutely continuously. Supposing the right hon. Gentleman proposes to have a few days break at Christmas and a few days break in August, that will reduce his total number of days to somewhere around 110. If one looks at the average number of days which are taken in various other matters one will see that about 10 to 15 of those days must go, so that he will have rather less than 100 days in which to get his business through.

There is an important Motion on the Order Paper signed by 40 or more hon. Members opposite.

[That this House is gravely concerned at the absence of effective public control over the nationalised industries, in that these are not, in practice, accountable either to Parliament or to the consumers whether on questions of policy or administration or for the standards and prices of the goods and services which they provide; and urges Her Majesty's Ministers, pending the Report of the Select Committee on the Nationalised Industries, to reply to Parliamentary Questions relating to those industries for which they are, respectively, responsible by statute; to introduce, without further delay, legislation to denationalise those industries which it is intended to restore to private enterprise; and to undertake an early review of the best means whereby, in the cases of those industries which are to remain nationalised, the inevitable evils of monopoly may be mitigated or controlled in the public interest.]

That calls for the immediate introduction of three Measures which were mentioned in the Gracious Speech of His late Majesty from the Throne. When can we get those three Measures dealing with iron and steel, the reorganisation of transport and the third matter to which we on this side of the House attach great importance—the further control of monopolies?

When can we get those Measures? Suppose the right hon. Gentleman imposes the Guillotine. Suppose he is determined to force it through at all costs. I have done a little research into previous experiences of that sort, and I do not think any of these Bills could be carried with the use of the Guillotine under 15 days from the Second Reading onwards. In those circumstances, the right hon. Gentleman will have 45 days. He has only got a few days until 5th August. He is in this position: I reckon that he will have to give another 20 days to complete the legislation which he has already brought before us.

Assuming that the right hon. Gentleman is prepared to sit with only a break of two days at Christmas and a break for the actual Bank Holiday itself, he will still be left with some 20 to 30 days spare. But I think he is forgetting the fourth matter.

I respectfully ask the hon. and learned Gentleman to try to keep nearer to the Amendment.

On a point of order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. We are in a little difficulty here. I can quite understand that you might find it necessary to curtail the discussion on the Amendment, although in fact the Amendment has not yet been moved, but I should have thought, with all respect, that a discussion on a substantive Motion itself can be as wide as to embrace easily everything that my hon. and learned Friend has been saying. Some of us want to intervene, if we are lucky enough to catch your eye, on similar matters.

The point is that we are not discussing a substantive Motion. We are discussing an Amendment which is being moved.

With great respect, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I am using my right to speak to the main Motion. The fact that the Prime Minister did not see fit to explain, and the Minister of Health was, we suspect, unable to explain to the House, the course of business, is no reason why I should not speak to the Motion which they have seen fit to put before the House. I am asking whether or not we ought to have an Easter Recess at all, whether this Motion should be moved at all, because if the right hon. Gentleman withdraws it we could sit right through.

There are two Measures which the right hon. Gentleman has forgotten—the Supplies and Services Act and the Emergency Laws (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act. Those Measures expire on 10th December. I hope I have the right hon. Gentleman's attention, because these are serious points. We want to know how business is going to be arranged. If he looks in the Gracious Speech, which he may recall merely from a nostalgic point of view, he will see that in that there is a definite pledge with regard to this legislation expiring on 10th December. The Gracious Speech says—

Notice taken that 40 Members were not present;

House counted, and 40 Members being present

5.10 p.m.

I can well understand why hon. Gentlemen opposite should immediately leave the Chamber when I was proposing to refer to the Gracious Speech from the Throne. It is sad reading for them because it catalogues a series of promises which they failed to carry out. I do not want to go into the whole matter. I merely ask what the right hon. Gentleman intends to do on one issue, because whether or not we adjourn for Easter will depend upon what his legislative intentions are about the Supplies and Services Act and the Emergency Laws (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1947.

In the Gracious Speech the policy of the Government was outlined as follows:
"You will be asked to authorise for a period the continuation in force of certain emergency enactments and defence regulations which are due to expire next month. My Ministers will, however, review the whole subject with the aim of reducing the number of these controls and regulations and, wherever possible, embodying those which must be kept in legislation requiring annual renewal by Parliament"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 19th November, 1951; Vol. 493, c. 53.]
When the right hon. Gentleman replies, he will no doubt tell us how many Acts he thinks must be passed before 10th December, because he should realise that, while we on this side were prepared to give an easy passage last year to this Measure, we shall not be so inclined this coming year, and it will mean that there will probably mean two or three weeks discussion on the great number of emergency regulations which otherwise the right hon. Gentleman will have to renew one by one.

Even supposing we do not have any Recesses at all, as far as I can work it out there is not much prospect of carrying out the right hon. Gentleman's programme, and we want to know is which items are to be dropped. Perhaps I might make a suggestion. As hon. and right hon. Members opposite have lost the confidence of the country, this Parliament should, for so long as it continues, be concerned largely with the problem of amending legislation. If I may say so, my hon. Friends gave an admirable example of how that could be done over the Army Act. We did not choose to take advantage of the constitutional difficulties in which the right hon. Gentleman found himself. We agreed to have a Select Committee to examine the matter.

All other matters of that sort could perhaps be dealt with in that way, but that would mean removing contentious legislation from the programme. If we do not do that, what is the alternative? The constitutional machinery of the country comes to a standstill. In discussing these matters, hon. Members on this side of the House are only exercising the constitutional rights for which they were sent here. Because the right hon. Gentleman cannot send business upstairs and give enough time to discuss these matters is no reason why we should abrogate our rights, which were enjoyed by hon. Gentlemen opposite throughout the 1945–50 Parliament. We should not abrogate our rights entirely in order to facilitate contentious legislation for which the right hon. Gentleman has no mandate. That would be a complete betrayal of the reasons for which we were elected, and we are not prepared so to do.

We are determined, for example, on a Bill like that to increase the poundage on the Post Office, to put down a reasoned Amendment, in order to consider for a day whether or not the provisions that make the Post Office self-accounting should not be reimposed. That is a perfectly proper exercise of Parliamentary time. But if we do this, the right hon. Gentleman must see that there is no time for his contentious legislation. He must know what is to happen to the business of the week. We do not want to arrive at a position in which the Finance Bill is not passed, and in which there is no authority for the collection of taxes. But that is the position into which the right hon. Gentleman is leading the House by his failure to make proper provision for time to discuss these matters.

Those are the issues before the House at the moment. I am in this difficulty, that if I move the Amendment which stands in my name I may so restrict the area of debate as to prevent the right hon. Gentleman replying. I am sure that is the last thing he wants. I am sorry that the Patronage Secretary is not here, because I wanted to make one last appeal to him not to move the Closure on his right hon. Friend. We all appreciate the motives from which he does it: party loyalty. Obviously, if he permitted the Leader of the House to speak there would be some damage done to the party cause; and nobody would criticise the Chair for accepting the Closure moved on the right hon. Gentleman, because I think it is understood in the House that he never has anything to contribute.

I fail to relate this argument to the difference between Monday, 21st April, and Tuesday, 22nd April.

That is the difficulty I am in, Mr. Speaker, and that is why I hesitate to move the Amendment. At the moment I am speaking on the Motion, but if I move the Amendment the right hon. Gentleman may be in the difficulty of not being able to reply, and it would be very unfair to take a Parliamentary advantage of him. We do not want to take advantage of the right hon. Gentleman's lack of knowledge of the rules of the House. We all suffer equally under it and we ought to try to help him. I wanted to appeal to the Patronage Secretary to appreciate that, after all, the right hon. Gentleman is Leader of the House and we are entitled to hear him, and to hear him with respect and in silence. He is entitled to speak, and it would be rather unfortunate if the Closure were moved on him to prevent him from so doing.

I am subject to any guidance you may give us, Mr. Speaker, because I do not want it to be felt, as my name appears at the head of the Amendment, that I have taken advantage of your calling me when somebody else might wish to speak, but I think that the best course would be for me not to move my Amendment at the moment, because that might prevent a discussion on business. If it suits the convenience of the House, as I think it will, one of my hon. Friends whose names also appear to the Amendment could move it at a later stage in order that we can have a full discussion of the matter. I think that would be the best course. We felt that we ought to put the Amendment down, because it gave some indication to hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite that we intended to raise the matter. It is unfair not to make use of the Order Paper in order to give notice of what is intended.

Those of us who wish to raise the whole issue of the Business of the House have tried to do it in a way which is most convenient for the House as a whole. If I now resume my seat without moving the Amendment, it is not that I have lost interest in it. It is merely that I wish to be fair to the right hon. Gentleman and to give him a chance to deal now in a serious way with what is to be the business of the House for the remainder of this Session. We can see that he cannot get it all, and it is only fair to hon. Members who are working on Amendments to let them know which Measures he intends to drop. That is the only question: What will be left out?

In those circumstances, I hope that for once we shall have a serious speech from the right hon. Gentleman, and that he will tell the House what is the business before us. I do not seek to move my Amendment at this stage, for the convenience of the House, but I hope that my hon. Friends will do so at a later stage.

5.19 p.m.

It is rather unfortunate that, owing to other pre-occupations, Members of the Government Bench are unable to be present during the course of this debate. It is particularly unfortunate that the Chief Patronage Secretary is not here. He is the instrument which frequently brings the Chairman of Ways and Means into collision with Members of the Committee. Indeed, in the small hours of this morning the collision aroused quite considerable heat.

This is a very serious matter indeed, because we recently had an instance of where the Opposition had to facilitate the passage of the amendment of the Army (Annual) Act by a proposal which ultimately will have the effect of improving that Act and bringing it up to date. That was a by-product of the emergency which arose when it was apparent to the Government, as it was to the House, that they could not get the Army Act in time unless a Select Committee were appointed.

In other words, the House of Commons had to defer its rights of discussion, had to abandon the discussion of very important Amendments and new Clauses, not because we had no interest in them but because they could not be pressed and, at the same time, the Army Act passed in time. There we have a classic illustration of a collision between the rights of Members to debate Bills before the House and the constitutional necessities of the Government. On that occasion, the Opposition deferred to constitutional necessities and we now await what the Select Committee will decide.

This situation will arise again. As my hon. and learned Friend has pointed out—and I would urge hon. Members to realise that this is a very grave case indeed—when we come to the consideration of the Supplies and Services Bill, the Government will find themselves in a similar emergency. If they do not get that Act through in time, the vast array of powers will end and the economic structure of the country will be gravely impaired if the Measure is not carried.

I can imagine that we shall have exhortations from the Prime Minister who, towards the end of the year, will be able to point out that if these powers lapse the re-armament programme will collapse with them, because the powers of direction and the controls which are now being exercised over raw materials and in various other ways are absolutely essential to canalising the economy in the direction of the re-armament programme. Unless we are careful we shall find ourselves bullied into facilitating the passage of that Measure because the Government will have abused their position, gone on with contentious legislation and faced us with a need to put the nation's interest first, whereas the Government are putting their party interests first.

It is essential that the country as a whole should understand what is happening. When other Governments found themselves in a minority or with a very small majority, as has happened quite recently, the practice has always been either to abandon contentious legislation and confine the legislation to what is required by the Constitution and by the first requirements of the nation, or to divide their Bills into two classes—Bills which are required absolutely essentially and Bills which are not so essential.

Those which are not so essential are sent upstairs, and if they are murdered upstairs because they cannot be passed in a way which is congenial to the Government, then past Governments have always accepted their demise. In fact, I sat on Committees with the present Leader of the House, who was very dexterous in legislative assassination.

In the Parliament of 1929–31, when the Government of the day had not an absolute majority in the House of Commons, they did not seek to keep all their legislation on the Floor of the House. On the contrary, they sent the legislation upstairs, even at a time when the Chairmen of Committees were armed with far less power than they possess today, and Bill after Bill fell. Indeed, the right hon. Gentleman—

Would the right hon. Gentleman assist me and tell me whether he is speaking in favour of the Motion or against it, and how he relates his remarks in general to the Motion before the House?

Certainly. I understand that the Amendment has not been moved, and my contention is that if the Government want to send us away for Easter, they must face the repercussions of that decision on the legislative programme. If, however, they want to carry out the programme which they have indicated to the House and which is on the Notice Paper, they will have to abandon all holidays or—and this is a more serious contention—later in the year must face us with the necessity of coming to their rescue.

I was about to say that I remember the time when Committees upstairs were used in order to prevent certain Bills ever coming on and, indeed, at the end of every Session there was a slaughter of Bills which had failed to pass through the various stages in the House, and the Government of the day had to accept their slaughter because the legislative programme had become so congested that all the Bills could not be carried.

We are, therefore, entitled to ask the Government—and this is an exceedingly serious matter—why they have cluttered up the House with legislation and not sent certain legislation upstairs. If the Government want to ventilate certain issues and to move the Second Reading of them, in my respectful submission they ought to accept the logic of the Parliamentary situation and the logic of the electoral situation, and ought not to seek to force through the House of Commons legislation repugnant to the vast majority of the people of Great Britain.

That is the issue. It is not merely a question of the constitutional procedure of the House of Commons. It is a fact— and we must face this fact—as my hon. and learned Friend has pointed out, that the Chairman of Committees will find themselves in increasingly embarrassing situations, having to accept Closures on discussions in Committee when quite often large numbers of hon. Members have not been able to speak. In fact, it has become so serious that it is almost as difficult to be heard in Committee now as in the House itself. That point has not been covered at all.

Last night and this morning we had one or two illustrations of it, and it is a most serious matter if the impartiality of the Chair and the objectivity of its decisions are called in question as a result of the Government seeking to avoid their own embarrassments.

That is the reason I beg and plead with the right hon. Gentleman to tell us what the Government have in mind. The National Health Service Bill is in Committee. We are to discuss it some time, I hope, tonight, and we are to discuss it again when we come back after Easter; but why does the right hon. Gentleman not face the realities of the situation? Why does he not abandon the Bill? I am quite sure that if he had the moral courage to do so, his action would be received with acclamation on both sides of the House and certainly in the country as a whole.

But we warn the Government that if they do not do it, if they insist upon forcing this legislation through the House, we cannot guarantee them any facilities whatsoever, either on the Finance Bill or the Supplies and Services Bill, despite whatever constitutional embarrassments may follow. We must not allow ourselves to be driven in this way.

We are told that we are to have two more exceedingly contentious Bills—those dealing with steel and transport. Does the right hon. Gentleman seriously believe that he will get those Bills? We shall not abandon our Parliamentary rights in order to facilitate them. We shall exercise our rights to the full and seek, in the exercise of them, to avoid coming into collision with the Chair.

I seriously suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that the Government ought to reconsider the whole of their legislative programme. They ought to abandon certain Bills uncongenial to the Opposition. I know that it is difficult for the Government, but actually the Opposition are in charge of the situation and not the Government. The Opposition are in possession of the support of the country. Bedford, I understand, has just been won. There is nothing that can do more damage to Parliament than for a Government which is in a minority in the country at the Election—which is now a heavy minority—to force legislation through for which they not only have no mandate but which is directly the opposite of what they told the country at the Election.

If Parliament is so much out of tune with what the country wants, if the Government of the day force through legislation so demonstrably against the wishes of the vast majority of the electorate, how is it possible for us continually to advise the industrial masses that they ought not to use industrial action in order to prevent legislation they do not like?

The only weapon in our armoury when we go to meetings in our constituencies and in other parts of the country, the only way to influence the trade union masses not to exercise their power to influence legislation, is when there is reciprocity between what happens here and what happens outside. Where there is no reciprocity, the Government dig a chasm between Parliament and the people, and it does Parliament a grave injustice.

5.32 p.m.

My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) and myself are grateful for the intervention of my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan). It was our earnest desire that we should take this opportunity of discussing seriously the state of business in the House and of trying to face up to the implications of the situation. I deplore that on a discussion of this importance so few Members of the Government have thought fit to be here. At one stage there were fewer than 10 and they had to be recalled by a Count to reconsider the whole state of Parliamentary business on this Motion.

I say bluntly, and at once, that in the main the Government have been given every possible assistance by the Opposi- tion since this Session started. If anyone wishes to challenge that, I am prepared to give chapter and verse to substantiate my suggestion. We may have come here with some bitter feelings after the events of the last Parliament, when some of our Members were sent to the grave by the deliberate policy of collective obstruction which was advertised by the hon. Member for Aberdeenshire, East (Mr. Boothby), at a deliberate attempt to harass people to death or illness.

The casualties which they can count were three dead, about six permanently broken and a good many people ruined in their business. We tried to dismiss that bitterness from our hearts, and tried to remember that Parliament must go on, that a Government must govern and that the necessary measures must be taken. I should like to quote some observations made by the present Minister of Housing and Local Government in a debate on the Address, when the question of Christmas Adjournment was under discussion. Personally, I completely approve of them. The right hon. Gentleman said:
"Many people seem to believe that a well thought-out and constructive policy means a large number of complicated Bills to be passed into law. … Parliament has, of course, three main purposes: first, to vote supplies; second, to deal with legislation, mainly that put forward by the Government of the day; but third, and of equal importance, what Mr. Asquith used to call 'the Grand request of the Nation.' The right hon. Gentleman calls it 'advice and counsel,' and I think all of us know what it means. It means chivvying the Minister."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 13th November, 1951; Vol. 493, c. 839–40.]
I do not agree with the last sentence, and we have not tried to do that. But I agree that this is one of the occasions when we are partaking in part of the Grand inquest of the Nation," when we are considering means and methods and the general position.

Hon. Members are being put under a very great strain by the Leader of the House, but very little reference has been made to the strain that is being caused to the staff of the House, perhaps the most severe of all being that caused to the limited staff upstairs who have to record the long hours of debate and transcribe them as the business proceeds. I say quite seriously that the Leader of the House has treated the House with constant discourtesy over the last three or four months.

I can quote as an appropriate example the business announced for the first day after the resumption, assuming that this Motion is carried. Let us consider the business as it has been announced for that one day which, after all, is the one day that will be under discussion if the Amendment is moved. The right hon. Gentleman said that he proposes to take the Second Reading of the Empire Settlement Bill. That Bill introduces matters of profound importance. Not only is it an important Bill, but it is one in connection with which an Amendment for rejection was tabled some days ago by hon. Members on both sides of the House. It is an almost unprecedented occurrence that, although I think the initiative came from hon. Members supporting the Government, they have on the Order Paper the support of my hon. Friend the Member for Lincoln (Mr. de Freitas) and my hon. Friend the Member for Bilston (Mr. Nally).

The Leader of the House says that he hopes to get that business through by seven o'clock. That means that there will be approximately three hours' debate, after allowing for the possibility of Private Notice Questions, and so on, to discuss a Bill and an Amendment for its rejection. That is treating the House with contempt. When one says anything like that to the right hon. Gentleman he says, "I am only expressing the hope." Also, he proposes to take the Committee stage of the Money Resolution, and he expects to get that by seven o'clock.

Then he proposes to take the Committee and remaining stages of the Customs and Excise Bill. I take a lot of notice of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hornchurch, who, I am sure, takes just as much notice of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition who will make the principal decision. But I am by no means certain that he is in a position to give an undertaking about this exceedingly important Bill.

Perhaps I was discourteous to the House. I wanted to intimate that, having read the Report of the Select Committee which advocates that the changes we have suggested would be better made in the Finance Bill, it might be more convenient for everyone concerned to choose the occasion of the Finance Bill rather than this Bill. This would facilitate the putting down of Amendments if we are to allow the Bill to go through. Of course, it is a matter for the Leader of the Opposition and not for me.

It is a matter for all of us to consider very carefully. It is a matter for consideration and discussion, possibly through the usual channels. Certainly, so far as we know, no such intimation has been given to the Leader of the House about this Bill of 300 pages which is the second item on the first day after the resumption. Then there is the Second Reading of the New Towns Bill, which is to be taken on the same day. Surely we are entitled to say that this is treating the House with absolute contempt. There is a programme here which could not conveniently be put through in fewer than three days.

Then there is a Scottish Motion and, to conclude, there is also on this one day the Report and Third Reading of the Electricity Supply (Meters) Bill. That has aroused considerable comment, and it may well be the subject of more comment because of the public indignation about the general position with regard to electricity meters. That is the programme for the first day after the proposed Adjournment.

I should like to refer to what happened last week and on a previous occasion. I was in the House yesterday for 15 hours waiting for the discussion on the draft Fertilisers Order which was exempted business which could be taken after the Motion to report Progress on the Health Service Bill. I observed the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Agriculture sitting here through the many hours, anticipating that something would happen, perhaps a little tremulous, looking like a middleweight boxer being thrust into the ring for the first time in a heavyweight bout.

But what happened? Without any explanation to the House, the Adjournment was moved at the end of 15 hours' waiting and the other business was put off to some future date. It has happened before. I have complained about it. There was a Bill before the House for Second Reading—the Marine and Aviation Insurance Bill—a Bill of great importance and fascination, with its questions of bottomry and barratry, in which my hon. Friends have constantly shown an interest.

I think the hon. Member is going beyond the scope of a Motion about the Easter Adjournment when he introduces questions of bottomry and barratry.

Then I will not pursue that, Sir.

The point I was making was that that Second Reading was down for debate some days ago, during the progress on the Army and Air Force (Annual) Bill. At the end of the discussion of that Bill, the Patronage Secretary rose and suddenly moved the Adjournment of the House without any explanation. The other Bill was never called and has never been called to this day.

We are in a state of muddle, muddle, muddle, in which there seems to be a complete lack of purpose from day to day, with hon. Members who try to take a serious part in the affairs of the House being completely and constantly deprived of a reasonable opportunity of doing so. The Marine and Aviation Insurance Bill will inevitably involve consideration of the whole question of National Insurance in which we, on this side of the House, have taken a very profound interest. Obviously, it is matter of very great importance and it may be that with the Government's programme in this congested state the right hon. Gentleman thought it right to put that Bill back until after the discussion of the Finance Bill.

It may be right to do that, but I suggest that he should tell us what he is going to put back. The very first Bill on the Order Paper in this Session was the British Museum Bill. That Bill appeared on the Order Paper for something like 50 consecutive Parliamentary days. A Motion for the rejection of that Bill appeared on the Order Paper for the same number of days, in the names of three hon. Members opposite. We have sought, with questions about business on Thursdays, to find out what was the Government's intention with regard to that Measure; but there has been no information.

There have been many similar examples. There is the very important Currency and Banknotes Bill which seeks to fix the fiduciary issue at a normal figure of £1,400 million; but before it is brought to the House for Second Reading, the Treasury have increased that figure to £1,450 million. Nemesis has overtaken that Bill before it has had a Parliamentary birth.

One could go on quoting examples, but I do not want to weary the House. My learned Friend has made out what I think is a very profound case in this matter, and my right hon. Friend, the Member for Ebbw Vale has emphasised it. Everyone who values the traditions of the House and the freedom of debate and discussion must be facing the present Parliamentary situation with a genuine apprehension for the liberties, decencies and virtues of political life.

We have never been vouchsafed a single word from the right hon. Gentleman as to what he proposes to do to try to ease this situation. I know that I am speaking only for myself, but I feel certain that my hon. and right hon. Friends would agree that we should always be prepared to co-operate if we could have an early assurance that this minority Government, lacking the support of the country—and day by day receiving less support—would not try to introduce the Steel Bill, which will destroy a great industry and which is to be introduced by a right hon. Gentleman who pleaded, two years ago, that the uncertainty hanging over the steel industry would affect production, prosperity and our national well being.

If we could have an assurance that these controversial Measures for which the Government have no mandate, because they never pooled the majority of votes of the people—would be dropped, we should be most happy to spend the time of the House as it can usefully be spent in the intelligent discussion of small Measures and the passing of the necessary legislation, and keep the Government in office until the vengeance of the country descends upon them.

Earlier, I said that we have not tried to obstruct the Government. I think that something like 500 Statutory Instruments have been introduced during the life of this Government. Only in a few cases have we tabled a Prayer and only once have we taken it to a vote. We have normally taken two or three together, to facilitate business. The discussions that have taken place late into the evening appear recently to have been terminated by the right hon. Gentleman moving the adjournment of the debate when the last bus has gone, in a desire to cause the maximum amount of inconvenience to hon. Members on this side of the House. I wish he would face up to it and say whether that is his intention and purpose, because it is difficult to interpret it in any other way.

There was a proposal to extend the vacation on the Adjournment for the Christmas Recess; we now have a proposal on the Adjournment for the Easter Recess which seeks to restrict the vacation. When it was suggested that we should adjourn for seven and a half weeks at Christmas, and when one hon. Member after another got up and warned the Government that they were wasting Parliamentary time at a most difficult time of the year, a General Election having just taken place, and when we pleaded with them not to waste all this time, the only argument they put forward was, "We must have time to think."

Is the right hon. Gentleman now saying that they have no more to think about now than they had then? Is there not as much need for thought at the moment, with crisis after crisis; with the Government's lack of support in the country; with unemployment and distress growing in Lancashire; with announcement after announcement that menaces our security, including the further New Zealand cut in British car imports announced today? Have they not something to think about, and would it not be wise for them to start thinking? I have tried not to be discourteous to anybody, but the House will remember that the original intention was that the right hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Eden) should be Leader of the House. But it was found that his greater pre-occupation and responsibility as Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs would make it difficult for him to discharge this exacting duty at that time.

I think the time has come to say that the present Leader of the House cannot carry out both his jobs with justice to the House. With respect, he has not done it with justice to the House. In the last few days it has become the leadership of the Gadarene swine, and it may have some of the same results. I plead with him to consider the situation, because all those who are interested in the maintenance of the decencies of Parliamentary life deplore the fact that we are getting into this situation.

I do not want to prolong this discussion, because I know that many of my hon. Friends wish to make contributions to this important debate; but I hope that, as a result of this discussion, both parties will consider the Parliamentary programme and what action can be taken to deal with it. It is abundantly clear that the Steel Bill must go. It is abundantly clear that the Transport Bill must go. I plead that this foolish and controversial National Health Service Bill, with its penalties on the crippled, on the halt and the maimed and on the blind should go, too.

I ask the Government to consider it in that light. I am perfectly certain, knowing the point of view of my hon. and right hon. Friends, that if that were done every effort would be made to try to facilitate the reasonably necessary business of the House so that we would have a chance of considering the vital measures that need fair and profound consideration.

5.50 p.m.

I only rise because up to this stage in the debate we have not had any word from the Leader of the House. I suspect that he does not realise that he, with other of his right hon. Friends, are on their knees before us in the House this evening. They are totally incapable of passing the legislation which they promised during the General Election, and they are incapable of passing the legislation which they promised their own back benchers in the Gracious Speech from the Throne.

It has taken only six months for the people of this country to give their verdict on the present Government in the county council elections, and it has taken about as long for back benchers opposite to give their opinion on the promises made by their Front Bench in the Gracious Speech. It is not without significance that they should have put down Motions seeking to force early de-nationalisation on the Government Front Bench.

The only thing that surprises me is that hon. Members opposite, who were parties to one of the greatest frauds in political history in the General Election, should have retained a touching confidence in their own Front Bench when it comes to putting forward legislation promised by that Front Bench, because it is now true that nothing of that kind can be introduced in the present situation.

The hon. and learned Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) has done a careful calculation of the time it would take to pass the legislation at present before the House, and I have in my hand all the outstanding Government Bills which have already been introduced this Session. There are 24 such Bills, and they amount to 575 Clauses. Allowing for progress to be no faster than that we are making on the National Health Service Bill, and allowing for 100 sitting days for legislation in the year, it could take 23 years to pass them—23 years at the present rate, but if the hon. and learned Member for Hornchurch were to decide to filibuster it might be a great deal longer.

The Leader of the House would be 82. His Parliamentary-Secretary would be 61. The Prime Minister would be 101. He might be dreaming of forming a new Government, but I suspect that he would be dealing with "the whips" in another place. I have no reason to object. I shall be only 50, the youngest Member of this House, and perfectly willing to devote the next 23 years to its business.

Of course, the Government can use the Closure. They have used the Closure in the past, but if they wish to use the Closure, I suggest they appoint as Patronage Secretary a man with St. Vitus's dance in the hope that it will get through on the nod. I am making no reflection on the Chair for accepting the Closure because, as hon. and right hon. Gentlemen have said, the Chairman and Deputy-Chairman are in a very difficult situation when business has to be pressed through.

I would say in conclusion that, in effect, the power of promoting legislation no longer lies with the Government Front Bench. We are willing to co-operate with them in introducing Measures which are beneficial for the general administration of the country. Indeed, in the case of the Army and Air Force (Annual) Bill we did a very constructive piece of work by putting down Amendments and by forcing a Select Committee on a reluctant Front Bench, and we are quite willing to do that sort of work in the future, because hon. Members on this side of the House will not tolerate class measures imposed by a party which has no majority in the country.

The right hon. Gentleman is in a very difficult position. If he gets up now and tells us that a lot of the Measures he is piloting through are to be dropped, so much the better; if he does not, the pilot who is piloting them through will be dropped—which will be so much the worse for him—because the Front Bench opposite and the Leader of the House cannot get their business through. We are discussing this Motion for the Adjournment of the House for Easter to get an assurance from the Government as to what are their intentions.

I beg to move the Amendment that stands—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I bow to the wishes of hon. Members on this side of the House, and I hope that other hon. Members will rise in the course of this debate to try to elicit from the Leader of the House some assurance as to what are his intentions.

5.56 p.m.

I hesitate to believe that arguments which have been put forward from this side of the House took the Leader of the Government and hon Members opposite by surprise. I think we may begin by assuming that hon. Members opposite have had many anxious hours trying to decide their duty to their party, their duty to their Government and how they can conduct the business of this place in the next month.

The decision is probably being made at this moment not here but in a room upstairs. It is common knowledge that there are considerable differences of opinion inside the ranks of the Tory Party. I should be the last person to chide them on that score. There are also marked differences in the ranks of my party, and neither side I hope will ever apologise for that situation. We are not living in a dictatorship country. We do not admire machine politics, and we think that the rights of the individual Member of Parliament must be respected within parties as well as within this House.

I repeat that the future of this country is probably being decided in a Committee Room upstairs—No. 10, I am informed—and I say that for these reasons: the party opposite is now in a dilemma. It cannot run away from the knowledge that it has opposition in the country and, therefore, in this House is much weaker than it was at the time of the General Election. It also cannot run away from the knowledge that opinion in the country and in this House is moving in a progressive direction.

This is part of the dilemma of hon. Members opposite. Some of us can not only sympathise, we can understand, because we have had the experience between 1945 and 1950 of a Labour Government with sufficient authority both within Parliament and in the country to go ahead with great vigour in carrying out our own Socialist policy. We had to live through a Parliamentary situation following the Election of 1950 in which our majority in this House was gravely curtailed and in which support in the country for hon. Members opposite had grown, and we were faced with the dilemma of how we could conduct the business of Parliament?

There were some of us who wanted in that difficult Parliamentary situation for us to go ahead as vigorously as between 1945 and 1950 with our own Socialist policy and our promises to the electors. That was our wish, and we faced the logic of that wish. We impressed upon the leaders of our own party that they must quickly go to the country once again to strengthen their majority. It was never our case that we should force through an unwilling House of Commons, against an unprepared public opinion, legislation which it did not wish to have.

The leader of my party decided that it was better to carry on a bit longer with, what has already been suggested the Government should now do, in the main, standstill legislation and amending legislation rather than seeking to go further ahead, as our mandate entitled us to do.

That was the decision our party made. It was a perfectly proper and legitimate one. Inside our own ranks we had our say. The Left lost and the Right won. We had to postpone for a time the occasions when we could sustain Measures like an entirely new Health Service and the further expansion of national ownership and control which is essential if we are to safeguard our people's interests.

I suggest to the Leader of the House that his party is now in exactly the same dilemma as we were, the only trouble being that they are going in the opposite direction. Some of us wanted to go a bit further and faster Left but the balance within our party and within this House did not at that time enable us to do so.

It is quite clear from the discussions now going on upstairs, of which we have a certain knowledge, that there are very anxious and very ardent extreme Right Wing elements in the party opposite who are pressing on the Government that it is their duty to de-nationalise steel and to make further raids on the Health Service. If they can attack the cripples, they can no doubt exert their ingenuity to find other classes to be attacked.

But if inside the Tory Party the Right wins, the logic of that is surely an immediate General Election. There was no mandate, even at the last General Election, for the Measures which are now being put forward by the Government, and there is less mandate for them now. On the other hand, if the right wing of the Tory Party, and those who are seeking not to go as fast in their retreat as the others who would compromise on issues like the Health Service, steel and others about which my hon. Friends and I care so particularly, lose upstairs, then the Government are entitled to have a longer life, for one can mark time on that basis.

But what is utterly intolerable is for the Government to fail to make up its mind about either of those two quite clear positions. I say to the Government: go to the country and ask for a mandate to retreat further, or attempt to stand still, and we will send you to the country soon enough. What we certainly cannot have day after day and year after year is the sort of thing that is happening now. An hon. Member apparently looked forward to another 23 years in which to carry out the Government's legislation. I do not accept that for obvious reasons.

We can mark time day after day, and then in a month or two's time we shall find every Tory newspaper in the country screaming that the Socialists are bringing Parliamentary Government into contempt. Therefore, let us be explicit, even to the point of repeating ourselves, so that there may be a hope that the substance of this point will be clear not only to Parliament but to the country.

If the Government continue with their Bill to impose further health charges they are doing it knowingly—we are telling them plainly enough—and they are using up Parliamentary time in such a way that it is deliberately creating a situation in which they cannot get the Finance Bill through in time. Is that the Government's intention? Are the Government seeking to work a fast trick by expanding the time taken up by legislation to which we cannot agree and on which we must express our point of view and then blackmailing us as they did in the case of the Army and Air Force (Annual) Act?

Fair and honourable warning has been given to the House of Commons. The respect that we all give to the Chair is very precious, and I believe that it is most precious to the poorest people in the country. There are elements on the benches opposite and among their supporters outside whom we must watch very carefully indeed. We see more than a sign of impatience on their part. This being a Parliamentary democracy, they must at least come and justify in daylight what they propose to do.

Therefore, let us be quite clear that if the Government go ahead with the health charges legislation and other such legislation they are deliberately and knowingly, with all the facts brought to their attention, creating a situation in which either they cannot get the Finance Bill and other essential legislation in time or they are blackmailing us to surrender our right to our own point of view and the point of view of our constituents in order to facilitate them in carrying out a reactionary programme which they have a diminishing right to do either in terms of the Parliamentary situation or the mood of the country.

6.5 p.m.

On a point of order. Before the Minister replies, Mr. Speaker, may I seek your guidance about the course of the debate? I wish to ask you if you would give the House an assurance that you will not accept a Motion for the Closure until my hon. Friends have had an opportunity to move their Amendment?

I have already given ample opportunity to speak to all hon. Members whose names were put to the Amendment, and I cannot go further.

Further to that point of order. With great respect, Mr. Speaker, by the accident of whom your eye happened to light upon, about which I make no complaint, you have called hon. Friends of mine who have ranged very widely over the general Motion, quite properly within the rules of order, and have initiated a very important and interesting general debate on the Government programme, and so on. That is the general debate to which, I take it, the Leader of the House is now about to reply. But there has so far been not one single speech addressed to the much more limited point raised in the Amendment proposing to change the actual date from Monday to Tuesday. I and, no doubt, other hon. Members had prepared speeches addressing ourselves to that limited point, and I feel that it would be unfortunate if the debate were to be artificially curtailed before that quite different aspect of it could be aired.

The fact that no reference has been made to the alternative date in the Amendment can hardly be blamed upon me, because I have called the three hon. Members whose names were put to the Amendment.

Further to that point of order. When you were not in the Chair, Mr. Speaker, a discussion took place while my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) was speaking about the effect that the moving of the Amendment would have in narrowing the breadth of the debate, and as a matter of courtesy and to provide the Leader of the House with an opportunity to reply on the broader question, my hon. and learned Friend deliberately did not move the Amendment—

—and said so; and said so for that reason. What he also did was to ask me to do that for him. I have risen on every occasion to try to catch the eye of the Chair when the Leader of the House did not take the opportunity of doing so, but I have been unsuccessful in catching the eye of the Chair. I should be very short if the opportunity should arise. I do ask that you should not accept a Closure Motion until we have moved this Amendment, which we regard as important and which was not moved in the first place merely as a matter of courtesy.

What I would accept would be a completely formal moving of the Amendment, if that were required, before a Closure.

Further to that point of order. I suggest that this would be the wrong moment to do that, because, as my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) has explained, it was to leave the Leader of the House free to range over the wider field that my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) deliberately refrained from moving the Amendment. Therefore, surely the Amendment would have to be moved and seconded after the Leader of the House has spoken, and surely a few brief remarks in support of it, and explainng its purpose, would be in order.

Might I respectfully suggest, Sir, that it would be most unusual to accept the Closure Motion on a debate of this kind and that it might be for the convenience of the House if, after the Leader of the House has spoken, the suggested Amendment should be moved and then voted on, after which we could return to the general debate on the Motion.

In support of the claim put forward by my hon. Friend, I should like to seek your guidance, Mr. Speaker, about the forthcoming reply of the Minister. If we do not elicit from him the date when the Steel Bill will be put before the House, could we have your guidance as to how we can know, because we are anxious to have the same time to prepare our defence as was given to the Iron and Steel Federation to prepare theirs.

That is not for me. I have no idea of the intention of Ministers and when they propose to introduce Bills. It would be quite wrong and improper for me to make any remarks on the Closure Motion when such a Motion is not before the House, but which I shall have to decide at the moment if and when it is moved. I am told that in my absence there has been some misunderstanding about this Motion, and I would not desire to take advantage of a technicality, which I could well do, and prevent a Division on the Amendment. If there has been some misunderstanding I will give every opportunity to hon. Members, if they desire to do so, to move the Amendment formally.

At some time I will accept it and put it to the House on the understanding that I do so in order not to risk a prolonged discussion or interfere with the due exercise of my authority as to the Closure if and when it is moved, but to put the matter in a proper and fair perspective. I hope that that solution is acceptable to the House. May I say that if the Amendment were moved now and I were to put the Question, "That 'Monday, the 21st April' stand part of the Question," in my judgment both the original Motion and the Amendment will be before the House. If that suggestion is taken advantage of it can be done in that way.

May I put this point to you, Mr. Speaker? Am I right in thinking that hon. Members who want to speak on the main Motion will have an opportunity of doing so before the Amendment is moved?

If the Amendment is now moved and I put the Question, "That 'Monday, 21st April,' stand part of the Question," any subsequent speech would be in order if it were on the main Motion or on the Amendment, as both would be before the House.

Do you propose, Sir, to call upon the Leader of the House to make a reply to the general debate, and subsequently at your convenience, Mr. Speaker, call for the Amendment to be moved and seconded, so that we can divide both on the Amendment and the substantive Motion?

If I have an understanding from hon. Members that they will propose and move the Amendment formally, I am prepared to accept it. Otherwise, I must abide by the rules of order.

6.14 p.m.

We have had a rather unusual debate and the Opposition have taken this opportunity, which was open to them, to range over a very wide field. Indeed, the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) specifically stated that the Amendment was not moved in order that there should be a free range over a very wide field. It falls to me briefly to answer one or two points which were made, and I do not intend to range over a wide field at all. It certainly would be very surprising if any Government of the day took the opportunity on this Motion to discourse at large about the Parliamentary programme which they had in mind in the ensuing months. Hon. Members opposite know that perfectly well and, for all the deep sincerity with which speeches have been made by those who have taken part in the debate, I do not suppose that they expect me to do anything of the kind.

The real point of the Motion and the Amendment is to decide for how long we should adjourn when we depart, as I hope we will, tomorrow and the Government have put down a Motion in a form which says we should return on Monday, 21st April, while others have on the Order Paper a suggestion that we should return on Tuesday on the grounds that, generally, Tuesday is the day on which the Recess ends. The hon. and learned Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) said that there was no precedent for what we are proposing, but there he did not conform to the facts. There have been innumerable precedents, both at the Easter and Whitsun Recesses, and, therefore, there is nothing strange about it.

Hon. Members opposite will realise that, through no fault of theirs—perhaps it was difficult for them to do otherwise—in the last two days the Parliamentary business has not been progressing with the speed which had been anticipated. Therefore, the Government came to the conclusion that a day earlier in the week after the Easter Recess was not asking the House as a whole to make any very great sacrifice of leisure to come back to resume the work which lies ahead. That is the only reason why this Motion has been put down in this form.

As I say, there are plenty of precedents for it, and it has been pointed out that we have to get the business of the Finance Bill through rather earlier this year owing to the fact that the Budget was introduced earlier than usual, which compresses our time rather more than in a normal year. So it is to suit the convenience of the House as a whole that we are asking hon. Members to come back a day earlier.

As for the general questions which were asked and the points which were raised about the affairs of the party on this side of the House, the internal arrangements of the party on that side, whether the local government elections were successful, whether we ought to go to the country now, and this, that and the other thing, these points, while all very interesting, do not constitute a strong argument for resisting the Government's Motion. Now that we have had a considerable discussion and there is other business to embark upon I hope the House will be ready to come to a decision, realising that there is nothing unprecedented in what we are being asked to do. We are merely adopting what I am sure a majority of the House will consider to be commonsense.

Does the right hon. Gentleman rise to move the Amendment in the name of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing)?

I was rising to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House a simple question before he sits down. While it is perfectly true that this is an ordinary Motion, I think he will agree that this is an extraordinary situation. Does he think that he has done himself and the House justice in his perfunctory answer to a debate which has gone on for some time? Does he not think that he has done himself less than justice? If he does, then the sooner he resigns his position the better it will be.

All I can say in reply to the right hon. Gentleman, whom I always try to answer, is that the length of the debate should not necessarily be the governing factor in the length of the reply. I am quite sure, from the way in which we carry on our discussions in this House, that it would be to the detriment of the House as a whole if speeches from the Government Front Bench were always governed by the length of time taken by the previous debate.

On a point of order. Mr. Speaker, may I seek your guidance? Hon. Members know that you are a jealous guardian of the privileges of hon. Members on both sides. We also know that the Leader of the House is the servant of the House while acting in that capacity. We also know that on another occasion you rightly said that you cannot compel a Minister to reply to any question that is put. That we understand, but as the Leader of the House is the servant of the House, and as his capacity is to lead the House, can you advise us as to what procedure we can adopt to maintain the privileges of hon. Members and to see that the Leader of the House treats the House with courtesy and deals with the questions raised when a debate of this importance takes place?

That is not a point of order. I have known many Leaders of the House give answers which did not seem satisfactory to Members of the Opposition. Does the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) rise to move the Amendment?

6.21 p.m.

I beg to second the Amendment.

May I make a few observations in doing so, Mr. Speaker? I will be quite brief but, after all, we have had no debate on the narrower point of whether the date should be a day later than the date suggested by the Government.

By moving the original Motion, I take it that the Prime Minister exhausted his right to speak in this debate, but I am sure that if he were to return to the House to give a fuller and perhaps more courteous reply to the debate than the Leader of the House has given, you, Mr. Speaker, would allow him to do so, by the leave of the House. It is a pity that the Prime Minister thought fit to remove himself immediately after moving what is, after all, his own Motion, which has led to quite an important debate. Now, however, we turn to the narrower issue of whether the date should be Tuesday, 22nd April, instead of Monday, 21st. I want to advance, briefly, two reasons why that later date should be accepted.

My hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale), referred to the hard work and the long hours that hon. Members—and not least the staff of the House—have put in, and of their need for a reasonable break at Easter. I would also refer to the great strain there must be on Members of the Government themselves, on the Ministers. As we can see, they are physically and mentally tired men. They are, one might say, punch-drunk—punch-drunk as a result of the county council election results and as a result of having had a taste of effective opposition from this side of the House.

On a somewhat similar occasion in 1944, in war-time, the then Leader of the House who was then, as he is now, the Foreign Secretary, referred to the very point I am making. He was pleading for an Adjournment until a Tuesday instead of coming back on a Monday. He said that Ministers:
"… are having quite as heavy burdens at this moment as at any time during the war. Monday is the one day which we have when we are able to concentrate upon our Ministerial duties."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 1st December, 1944: Vol. 406, c. 207.]
Although it may be thought in retrospect that those were very burdensome days, we all know that the duties of a Minister in an ordinary Department are somewhat heavier in peace-time and at a time of reconstruction than they are in war-time, when, necessarily, all the national effort is concentrated on the one purpose of winning the war: perhaps the Ministers in the Service Departments had exceptionally heavy responsibilities then, but other Ministers were not so busy.

Now I will turn to one other point, equally briefly, so as not to infringe the spirit of your appeal, Mr. Speaker. I object very much to the habit some of us have and, still more, which some newspapers have, of referring to Recesses of this House as holidays. As a matter of fact, my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) fell into this bad habit this afternoon, when he re- ferred to the coming Easter "holiday," and I must rebuke him for doing so. The hon. Member for Oldham, West, referred to it as a "vacation." This may be true of Recesses enjoyed by hon. Members who represent compact urban constituencies. It is certainly not true of hon. Members who represent rural county seats. If I may, I want to quote from an eloquent speech made on another similar occasion in 1944—

I hope my hon. Friend will let me make a personal explanation. I represent an industrial seat with 20,000 unemployed, which is a substantial responsibility, but I shall be opening a discussion on world development in the south of France on Easter Monday and shall be continuing it throughout Easter.

I appreciate that my hon. Friend is a veritable Atlas in having the weight of the whole world upon his shoulders and not only the serious constituency responsibilities to which he has referred. I was about to quote from a speech by the then hon. Member for The Wrekin, now the hon. Member for Burton (Mr. Colegate), who was lodging a similar objection to the use of the word "holiday." He said:

"… county Members—have very large areas to cover and very large numbers of people who wish to see them before we embark on this tremendous programme of legislation which is coming before this House. So far as I am concerned, and I know many other county Members who reside in their constituencies are in the same boat, the time allowed by our being recalled here on 16th January is quite insufficient for the purpose of familiarising ourselves with the numerous problems which our constituents wish to place before us. We are often told that this House … is out of touch with the electorate. Surely one of the few occasions when we can hope to remedy that is during the Parliamentary Recess—not the Parliamentary holiday—when we get an opportunity of meeting constituents who wish to see us and discuss a variety of problems with us."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 20th December, 1944; Vol. 406, c. 1815.]
That is a cogent expression of a real and valid argument for accepting the later rather than the earlier date. Even if it is only one day later, it compensates for Easter Monday which is, I suppose, a dies non for most hon. Members, so far as constituency work is concerned. It will give them one clear week in which to meet their constituents—a week in which hon. and right hon. Members opposite can learn how far, indeed, they are out of touch with the mood and opinion of the electors of the nation.

Finally, it is obviously highly desirable that they should be away from Westminster and in places where they can do somewhat less harm than they can do here. The sooner the feeble and obsolescent gang of nonentities and half-wits and City slickers who form Her Majesty's Government today—an alliance, indeed, of the sheep and the goats—go to the country for good and stay there, in the disgraceful limbo to which history will relegate them, the better for all of us.

Order. I have to propose the Question. The Question is, "That ' Monday, 21st' stand part of the Question."

rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."

Question put, "That the Question be now put."

The House proceeded to a Division

(seated and covered): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I desire to call attention to the fact that when you called, "Lock the doors," certain Members on the Government side interfered with the attendant who was on duty at the door.

I believe, Sir, that one or two hon. Members got through the door after your direction, "Lock the doors."

The Division must start again. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I think so. There appears to have been some irregularity about this Division.

(seated and covered): As I came out of the Division Lobby, Mr. Speaker, I witnessed some rather violent scenes. It may be on that account that it is suggested that you might inquire into what happened at the entrance to the Lobby. There was certainly a good deal of violent jostling and the attendant seemed to be in some danger of personal injury.

I did not observe anything myself. I shall find out about it. If there is any question of an irregularity in the Division, I shall have to put the Question again. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Yes.

(seated and covered): Further to that point of order. Surely, with respect, the only effect of your putting the Question again, Mr. Speaker, is to give advantage to those very Members who acted in an irregular manner by pushing into the Division Lobby after you had called, "Lock the doors." Surely, one should not give advantage to Members who were guilty of an irregularity.

The report I received from the Assistant-Serjeant at Arms was that certain Members moved into the Lobby—[An HON. MEMBER: "One Member."]—after the order to lock the doors was given. That is irregular. They have no business to go there after the order. I have to put the Question—

Division No. 79.]

AYES

[6.40 p.m.

Aitken, W. T.Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.
Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)Brooke, Henry (Hampstead)Donner, P. W.
Alport, C. J. M.Brooman-White, R. C.Drewe, C.
Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T.Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.
Amory, Heathcoat (Tiverton)Bullard, D. G.Duthie, W. S.
Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J.Bullock, Capt. M.Eccles, Rt. Hon. D. M.
Arbuthnot, JohnBullus, Wing Commander E. E.Eden, Rt. Hon. A.
Ashton, H. (Chelmsford)Burden, F. F. A.Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.
Assheton, Rt. Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.)Carr, Robert (Mitcham)Erroll, F. J.
Astor, Hon. J. J. (Plymouth, Sutton)Carson, Hon. E.Fell, A.
Baker, P. A. D.Cary, Sir RobertFinlay, Graeme
Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.Channon, H.Fisher, Nigel
Baldwin, A. E.Churchill, Rt. Hon. W. S.Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F.
Banks, Col. C.Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)Fletcher-Cooke, C.
Barber, A. P. L.Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W.)Fort, R.
Baxter, A. B.Cole, NormanFoster, John
Beach, Maj. HicksColegate, W. A.Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)
Beamish, Maj. TuftonConant, Maj. R. J. E.Fraser, Sir Ian (Morecambe & Lansdale)
Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. AlbertGage, C. H.
Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.)Cooper-Key, E. M.Galbraith, Cmdr T. D. (Pollok)
Bennett, Sir Peter (Edgbaston)Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)Cranborne, ViscountGammans, L. D.
Bennett, William (Woodside)Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.Garner-Evans, E. H.
Birch, NigelCrosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.George, Rt. Hon. Maj. G. Lloyd
Bishop, F. P.Crouch, R. F.Glyn, Sir Ralph
Black, C. W.Crowder, John E. (Finchley)Godber, J. B.
Boothby, R. J. G.Crowder, Petre (Ruislip—Northwood)Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.
Bossom, A. C.Cuthbert, W. N.Gough, C. F. H.
Bowen, E. R.Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh. S.)Gower, H. R.
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.Davidson, ViscountessGraham, Sir Fergus
Boyle, Sir EdwardDavies, Rt. Hn. Clement (Montgomery)Gridley, Sir Arnold
Braine, B. R.Deedes, W. F.Grimond, J.
Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)Digby, S. WingfieldGrimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)
Braithwaite, Lt.-Cdr. G. (Bristol, N.W.)Dodds-Parker, A. D.Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)

(seated and covered): Further to that point of order. Mr. Speaker would not the effect of giving the Division again be merely to count the numbers again? On that occasion, I saw one Member, at least, excluded from the Lobby, although he tried to get in, whereas to call the Division again would enable him to vote. Therefore, I submit, with respect, that it does not cure the position—it makes it worse, to have another Division.

The result in a Division is no concern of mine at all. It has been pointed out to me by an hon. Member that an irregularity has taken place in a Division. The consequences of the Division are no concern of mine.

(seated and covered): May I, with respect, suggest that it would be appropriate that the Members who thus disobeyed the customary procedure of the House should have their votes not counted?

As we have made a mess of that Division, we shall have to start again. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Yes.

Question put, "That the Question be now put."

The House divided: Ayes, 288; Noes, 260.

Harden, J. R. E.McKie, J. H. (Galloway)Salter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur
Hare, Hon. J. H.Maclean, FitzroySandys, Rt. Hon. D.
Harris, Reader (Heston)MacLeod, Iain (Enfield, W.)Schofield, Lt.-Col. W. (Rochdale)
Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)MacLeod, John (Ross and Cromarty)Scott, R. Donald
Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfield)Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.
Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)Macpherson, Maj. Niall (Dumfries)Shepherd, William
Harvie-Watt, Sir GeorgeMaitland, Cmdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir Walter
Hay, JohnMaitland, Patrick (Lanark)Smithers, Peter (Winchester)
Heald, Sir LionelMarkham, Major S. F.Smithers, Sir Waldron (Orpington)
Henderson, John (Cathcart)Marlowe, A. A. H.Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)
Higgs, J. M. C.Marples, A. E.Snadden, W. McN.
Hill, Dr. Charles (Luton)Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)Soames, Capt. C.
Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)Marshall, Sidney (Sutton)Spearman, A. C. M.
Hinchingbrooke, ViscountMaude, AngusSpier, R. M.
Hirst, GeoffreyMaudling, R.Spence, H. R. (Aberdeenshire, W.)
Holland-Martin, C. J.Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.Spens, Sir Patrick (Kensington, S.)
Hollis, M. C.Medlicott, Brig. F.Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard
Holmes, Sir Stanley (Harwich)Mellor, Sir JohnStevens, G. P.
Hope, Lord JohnMolson, A. H. E.Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)
Hopkinson, HenryMonckton, Rt. Hon. Sir WalterStewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)
Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.Morrison, John (Salisbury)Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.
Horobin, I. M.Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.Storey, S.
Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. FlorenceNabarro, G. D. N.Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)
Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)Nicholls, HarmarStuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)
Howard, Greville (St. Ives)Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)Studholme, H. G.
Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.)Summers, G. S.
Hurd, A. R.Nield, Basil (Chester)Sutcliffe, H.
Hutchinson, Sir Geoffrey (Ilford, N.)Noble, Cmdr. A. H. P.Taylor, Charles (Eastbourne)
Hutchison, Lt.-Com. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)Nugent, G. R. H.Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)
Hutchison, James (Scotstoun)Nutting, AnthonyTeeling, W.
Hylton-Foster, H. B. H.Oakshott, H. D.Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. P. L. (Hereford)
Jenkins, R. C. D. (Dulwich)Odey, G. W.Thomas, P. J. M. (Conway)
Jennings, R.O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Antrim, N.)Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)
Johnson, Eric (Blackley)Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.Thompson, Lt.-Cdr. R. (Croydon, W.)
Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)Orr, Capt. L. P. S.Thorneycroft, R. Hn. Peter (Monmouth)
Jones, A. (Hall Green)Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)Thornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.
Kaberry, D.Orr-Ewing, Ian L. (Weston-super-Mare)Tilney, John
Keeling, Sir EdwardOsborne, C.Touche, G. C.
Kerr, H. W. (Cambridge)Partridge, E.Turner, H. F. L.
Lambert, Hon. G.Peaks, Rt. Hon. O.Turton, R. H.
Lambton, ViscountPerkins, W. R. D.Tweedsmuir, Lady
Lancaster, Col. C. G.Pato, Brig. C. H. M.Vane, W. M. F.
Leather, E. H. C.Peyton, J. W. W.Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.
Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.Pilkington, Capt. R. A.Vosper, D. F.
Legh, P. R. (Petersfield)Pitman, I. J.Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T.Powell, J. EnochWalker-Smith, D. C.
Lindsay, MartinPrice, Henry (Lewisham, W.)Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)
Linstead, H. N.Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.
Llewellyn, D. T.Profumo, J. D.Watkinson, H. A.
Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)Raikes, H. V.Webbe, Sir H. (London & Westminster)
Lloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)Rayner, Brig. R.Wellwood, W.
Lockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.Redmayne, M.White, Baker, (Canterbury)
Longden, Gilbert (Herts, S.W.)Remnant, Hon. P.Williams, Rt. Hon. Charles (Torquay)
Low, A. R. W.Renton, D. L. M.Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)Roberts, Peter (Heeley)Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)
Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)Robertson, Sir DavidWilliams, R. Dudley (Exeter)
Lucas-Tooth, Sir HughRobinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)Wills, G.
Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O.Robson-Brown, W.Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
McAdden, S. J.Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)Wood, Hon. R.
McCallum, Major D.Roper, Sir Harold
McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.Ropner, Col. Sir LeonardTELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Macdonald, Sir Peter (I. of Wight)Russell, R. S.Mr. Butcher and Mr. Heath
Mackeson, Brig. H. R.Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.

NOES

Acland, Sir RichardBing, G. H. C.Carmichael, J.
Adams, RichardBlackburn, F.Castle, Mrs. B. A.
Albu, A. H.Blenkinsop, A.Champion, A. J.
Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)Blyton, W. R.Chapman, W. D.
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)Boardman, H.Chetwynd, G. R.
Anderson, Alexander (Motherwell)Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.Clunie, J.
Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven)Bowden, H. W.Cocks, F. S.
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.Bowles, F. G.Coldrick, W.
Awbery, S. S.Braddock, Mrs. ElizabethCollick, P. H.
Bacon, Miss AliceBrockway, A. F.Cook, T. F.
Baird, J.Brook, Dryden (Halifax)Corbet, Mrs. Freda
Balfour, A.Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.Cove, W. G.
Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)
Bence, C. R.Brown, Thomas (Ince)Crosland, C. A. R.
Benn, WedgwoodBurke, W. A.Crossman, R. H. S.
Benson, G.Burton, Miss F. E.Cullen, Mrs. A.
Beswick, F.Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.)Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.
Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)Callaghan, L. J.Darling, George (Hillsborough)

Davies, A. Edward (Stoke, N.)Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)Rhodes, H.
Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)Jones, David (Hartlepool)Richards, R.
Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S).Robens, Rt. Hon. A.
de Freitas, GeoffreyJones, Jack (Rotherham)Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Deer, G.Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)
Delargy, H. J.Keenan, W.Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)
Donnelly, D. L.Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.Ross, William
Driberg, T. E. N.King, Dr. H. M.Royle, C.
Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich)Lee, Frederick (Newton)Schofield, S. (Barnsley)
Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir Hartley
Edelman, M.Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.
Edwards, John (Brighouse)Lewis, ArthurShort, E. W.
Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.Shurmer, P. L. E.
Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)Logan, D. G.Silverman, Julius (Erdington)
Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)MacColl, J. E.Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)
Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)McGhee, H. G.Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)
Ewart, R.McInnes, J.Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)
Fernyhough, E.McKay, John (Wallsend)Snow, J. W.
Field, W. J.McLeavy, F.Sorensen, R. W.
Fienburgh, W.MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank
Finch, H. J.McNeil, Rt. Hon. H.Sparks, J. A.
Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.)MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)Steele, T.
Follick, M.Mainwaring, W. H.Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)
Foot, M. M.Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R.
Forman, J. C.Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.
Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)Mann, Mrs. JeanStrauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)
Gaiskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.Manuel, A. C.Stross, Dr. Barnett
Gibson, C. W.Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.
Glanville, JamesMayhew, C. P.Swingler, S. T.
Gooch, E. G.Mellish, R. J.Sylvester, G. O.
Gordon-Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.Messer, F.Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale)Mikardo, IanTaylor, John (West Lothian)
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur (Wakefield)Mitchison, G. R.Taylor, Rt. Hon. Robert (Morpeth)
Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.Monslow, W.Thomas, David (Aberdare)
Grey, C. F.Moody, A. S.Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)
Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)Morgan, Dr. H. B. W.Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)
Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)Morley, R.Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)
Griffiths, William (Exchange)Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)Thurtle, Ernest
Hale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.)Timmons, J.
Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)Mort, D. L.Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.
Hall, John (Gateshead, W.)Moyle, A.Tomney, F.
Hamilton, W. W.Mulley, F. W.Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn
Hannan, W.Nally, W.Viant, S. P.
Hardy, E. A.Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J.Watkins, T. E.
Hargreaves, A.O'Brien, T.Webb, Rt. Hon. M. (Bradford, C.)
Harrison, J. (Nottingham, E.)Oliver, G. H.Wells, Percy (Faversham)
Hastings, S.O'Neill, M. (Mid-Ulster)Wells, William (Walsall)
Hayman, F. H.Orbach, M.West, D. G.
Healey, Denis (Leeds, S.E.)Oswald, T.Wheatley, Rt. Hon. John
Henderson, Rt. Hon. A. (Rowley Regis)Padley, W. E.While, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)
Herbison, Miss M.Paget, R. T.White, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Hewitson, Capt. M.Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Hobson, C. R.Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.
Holman, P.Pannell, CharlesWilkins, W. A.
Houghton, DouglasPargiter, G. A.Willey, Frederick (Sunderland, N.)
Hoy, J. H.Parker, J.Willey, Octavius (Cleveland)
Hubbard, T. F.Paton, J.Williams, David (Neath)
Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)Pearson, A.Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)
Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)Peart, T. F.Williams, Ronald (Wigan)
Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)Plummer, Sir LeslieWilliams, W. R. (Droylsden)
Hynd, H, (Accrington)Popplewell, E.Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)
Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)Porter, G.Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)Price, Joseph T. (Westhoughton)Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)
Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)Proctor, W. T.Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.Pryde, D. J.Wyatt, W. L.
Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.Pursey, Cmdr. H.Yates, V. F.
Jeger, George (Goole)Rankin, John
Jeger, Dr. Santo (St. Pancras, S.)Reeves, J.TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Jenkins, R. H. (Stechford)Reid, Thomas (Swindon)Mr. Holmes and Mr. Wigg.
Johnson, James (Rugby)Reid, William (Camlachie)

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. On a previous occasion when an incident such as this happened, in which my right hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) was involved, your predecessor allowed the Division to count, but called upon the name of my right hon. Friend to be expunged from the record, and also demanded that he appear at the Table and apologise for his action. I would like to ask for your Ruling on this similar incident, Sir.

I remember the incident to which the hon. Member has referred quite clearly, but I think that this one was different. It was reported to me that there had been an irregularity in that certain hon. Members had forced their way into the Lobby after the attendants were ordered to lock the doors. I was unable to determine how that had happened, and in the circumstances I judged that the only course open to me was to declare the Division invalid and to have a new one.

My memory of the incident which I have related is that it was exactly similar to the incident today. The name of my right hon. Friend was obtained from the attendant at the door through which he passed. The same circumstances have occurred today, and I ask that you take into consideration the Ruling of your predecessor.

Further to that point of order. I personally witnessed a good deal of violent jostling, in which it was clear that the attendant was in danger of being injured. I saw one hon. Member who weighs at least 16 stone being thrown back some yards. That could not have happened in any ordinary decorous procedure in the Lobby. I think, therefore, with respect, that it would be desirable that you should at least inquire into the facts and deal with them when you find them.

I have every intention of inquiring into the facts. I certainly will do so. But at the moment when my attention was drawn to the matter I had no option but to act as I did. In answer to the hon. Member for Halifax (Mr. D. Brook), I would say that I well remember the incident to which he has referred, when the right hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Stokes) was involved. On that occasion the point was raised in the course of the Division. It was a point of order, and the right hon. Gentleman was named by the hon. Member who brought the incident to the notice of Mr. Speaker. On this occasion I had no such particularity afforded to me. All I had was a report of an irregularity. I shall certainly inquire into the matter and make sure that if there has been any roughness towards the attendant the hon. Members responsible for it incur my severe displeasure and that of the House.

On a point of clarity, Sir. May I say there was no roughness in my case? It was complete inadvertence. The door was half open, I pushed through the door, and, unfortunately, the attendant fell over.

Further to the point of order. I do not know how definitive your Ruling is, Mr. Speaker, but with great respect I would suggest that the proper course in a case of this kind is to institute an inquiry and if, as a result, it is found that some hon. Members have pushed their way into the Division Lobby quite wrongly, then, at that stage, their names should be expunged from the Division. The proper course, I suggest with great respect, is not to order another Division, the only result is that the hon. Members who pushed their way into the Lobby are counted and those who were excluded are counted.

On this occasion it was brought to your notice while the Division was in progress not only that some hon. Members had succeeded in pushing their way into the Lobby, but that some hon. Members had been successfully excluded from the Lobby. The result now is that those who were excluded are counted in the Division. I suggest, therefore, with respect, that the proper course was the course followed by Mr. Speaker on the previous occasion.

The incidents were quite different. If the hon. and learned Member wishes to criticise my Ruling, he must do it in the regular way.

I heard an hon. Member opposite refer to me as a "cheeky man." I ask you, Sir, that he be ordered to withdraw that remark, for this reason: that it is the right of hon. Members of the House—and their duty—to raise matters of this kind in order to have the position fully and adequately disposed of to the satisfaction of everyone.

Although I do not approve of the epithet, there is nothing un-Parliamentary about it.

With regard to the matter which I was responsible for raising, I wish to put it on record that I took the earliest available opportunity of calling your attention, Sir, not to what I thought was an irregularity with regard to the voting in the Division, but—I thought it was my duty as a Member of this House—to an assault made on one of the attendants. Therefore, whatever action is taken on the question of the voting, or the Division taken in its place, I shall be satisfied if the inquiry I want is made in regard to the assault on the attendant.

Division No. 80.]

AYES

[6.55 p.m.

Aitken, W. T.Cuthbert, W. N.Horsbrugh, Rt. Hon. Florence
Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)Darling, Sir William (Edinburgh, S.)Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)
Alport, C. J. M.Davidson, ViscountessHoward, Greville (St. Ives)
Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)Davies, Rt. Hn. Clement (Montgomery)Hudson, W. R. A. (Hull, N.)
Amory, Heathcoat (Tiverton)Deedes, W. F.Hurd, A. R.
Anstruther-Gray, Major W. J.Digby, S. WingfieldHutchinson, Sir Geoffrey (Ilford, N.)
Arbuthnot, JohnDodds-Parker, A. D.Hutchison, Lt.-Com. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)
Ashton, H. (Chelmsford)Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.Hutchison, James (Scotstoun)
Assheton, Rt, Hon. R. (Blackburn, W.)Donner, P. W.Hylton-Foster, H. B. H.
Astor, Hon. J. J. (Plymouth, Sutton)Duncan, Capt. J. A. L.Jenkins, R. C. D. (Dulwich)
Baker, P. A. D.Duthie, W. S.Jennings, R.
Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.Eccles, Rt. Hon. D. M.Johnson, Eric (Blackley)
Baldwin, A. E.Eden, Rt. Hon. A.Johnson, Howard (Kemptown)
Banks, Col. C.Elliot, Rt. Hon. W. E.Jones, A. (Hall Green)
Barber, A. P. L.Erroll, F. J.Kaberry, D.
Baxter, A. B.Fell, A.Keeling, Sir Edward
Beach, Maj. HicksFinlay, GraemeKerr, H. W. (Cambridge)
Beamish, Maj. TuftonFisher, NigelLambert, Hon. G.
Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)Fleetwood-Hesketh, R. F.Lambton, Viscount
Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)Fletcher-Cooke, C.Lancaster, Col. C. G.
Bennett, F. M. (Reading, N.)Fort, R.Leather, E. H. C.
Bennett, Sir Peter (Edgbaston)Foster, JohnLegge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.
Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gosport)Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)Legh, P. R. (Petersfield)
Bennett, William (Woodside)Gage, C. H.Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T.
Birch, NigelGalbraith, Cmdr. T. D. (Pollok)Lindsay, Martin
Bishop, F. P.Galbraith, T. G. D. (Hillhead)Linstead, H. N.
Black, C. W.Gammans, L. D.Llewellyn, D. T.
Boothby, R. J. G.Garner-Evans, E. H.Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)
Bossom, A. C.George, Rt. Hon. Maj. G. LloydLloyd, Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)
Bowen, E. R.Glyn, Sir RalphLockwood, Lt.-Col. J. C.
Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.Godber, J. B.Longden, Gilbert (Herts, S.W.)
Boyle, Sir EdwardGomme-Duncan, Col. A.Low, A. R. W.
Braine, B. R.Gough, C. F. H.Lucas, Sir Jocelyn (Portsmouth, S.)
Braithwaite, Sir Albert (Harrow, W.)Gower, H. R.Lucas, P. B. (Brentford)
Braithwaite, Lt.-Cdr. G. (Bristol, N.W.)Graham, Sir FergusLucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh
Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.Gridley, Sir ArnoldLyttelton, Rt. Hon. O.
Brooke, Henry (Hampstead)Grimond, J.McAdden, S. J.
Brooman-White, R. C.Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)McCallum, Major D.
Buchan-Hepburn, Rt. Hon. P. G. T.Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.
Bullard, D. G.Harden, J. R. E.Macdonald, Sir Peter (I. of Wight)
Bullock, Capt. M.Hare, Hon. J. H.Mackeson, Brig. H. R.
Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.Harris, Reader (Heston)McKie, J. H. (Galloway)
Burden, F. F. A.Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)Maclean, Fitzroy
Butcher, H. W.Harvey, Air Cdre. A. V. (Macclesfield)MacLeod, Iain (Enfield, W.)
Carr, Robert (Mitcham)Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)MacLeod, John (Rose and Cromarly)
Carson, Hon. E.Harvie-Watt, Sir GeorgeMacmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)
Cary, Sir RobertHay, JohnMacpherson, Maj. Niall (Dumfries)
Channon, H.Heald, Sir LionelMaitland, Cmdr. J. F. W. (Horncastle)
Churchill, Rt. Hon. W. S.Heath, EdwardMaitland, Patrick (Lanark)
Clarke, Col. Ralph (East Grinstead)Henderson, John (Cathcart)Markham, Major S. F.
Clarke, Brig. Terence (Portsmouth, W)Higgs, J. M. C.Marlowe, A. A. H.
Cole, NormanHill, Dr. Charles (Luton)Marples, A. E.
Colegate, W. A.Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)Marshall, Douglas (Bodmin)
Cooper, Sqn. Ldr. AlbertHinchingbrooke, ViscountMarshall, Sidney (Sutton)
Cooper-Key, E. M.Hirst, GeoffreyMaude, Angus
Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)Holland-Martin, C. J.Maudling, R.
Cranborne, ViscountHollis, M. C.Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.
Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.Holmes, Sir Stanley (Harwich)Medlicott, Brig. F.
Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.Hope, Lord JohnMellor, Sir John
Crouch, R. F.Hopkinson, HenryMolson, A. H. E.
Crowder, John E. (Finchley)Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.Monckton, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter
Crowder, Petra (Ruislip—Northwood)Horobin, I. M.Morrison, John (Salisbury)

I am obliged to the hon. Member. The House has ordered the Question to be put—

Question put accordingly.

The House divided: Ayes, 287; Noes, 257.

Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.Robinson, Roland (Blackpool, S.)Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)
Nabarro, G. D. N.Robson-Brown, W.Teeling, W.
Nicholls, HarmarRodgers, John (Sevenoaks)Thomas, Rt. Hon. J. P. L. (Hereford)
Nicholson, Godfrey (Farnham)Roper, Sir HaroldThomas, P. J. M. (Conway)
Nicolson, Nigel (Bournemouth, E.)Ropner, Col. Sir LeonardThompson, Kenneth (Walton)
Nield, Basil (Chester)Russell, R. S.Thompson, Lt.-Cdr R. (Croydon, W.)
Noble, Cmdr. A. H. P.Ryder, Capt. R. E. D.Thorneycroft, R. Hn. Peter (Monmouth)
Nugent, G. R. H.Salter, Rt. Hon. Sir ArthurThornton-Kemsley, Col. C. N.
Nutting, AnthonySandys, Rt. Hon. D.Tilney, John
Oakshott, H. D.Schofield, Lt.-Col. W. (Rochdale)Touche, G. C.
Odey, G. W.Scott, R. DonaldTurner, H. F. L.
O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Antrim, N.)Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.Turton, R. H.
Ormsby-Gore, Hon. W. D.Shepherd, WilliamTweedsmuir, Lady
Orr, Capt. L. P. S.Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir WalterVane, W. M. F.
Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)Smithers, Peter (Winchester)Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.
Orr-Ewing, Ian L. (Weston-super-Mare)Smithers, Sir Waldron (Orpington)Vosper, D. F.
Osborne, C.Smyth, Brig. J. G. (Norwood)Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)
Partridge, E.Snaddan, W. McN.Walker-Smith, D. C.
Peake, Rt. Hon. O.Soames, Capt. C.Ward, Miss I. (Tynemouth)
Perkins, W. R. D.Spearman, A. C. M.Waterhouse, Capt. Rt. Hon. C.
Peto, Brig. C. H. M.Speir, R. M.Watkinson, H. A.
Peyton, J. W. W.Spence, H. R. (Aberdeenshire, W.)Webbe, Sir H. (London & Westminster)
Pilkington, Capt. R. A.Spens, Sir Patrick (Kensington, S.)Wellwood, W.
Pitman, I. J.Stanley, Capt. Hon. RichardWhite, Baker (Canterbury)
Powell, J. EnochStevens, G. P.Williams, Rt. Hon. Charles (Torquay)
Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)Steward, W. A. (Woolwich, W.)Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)
Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.Stewart, Henderson (Fife, E.)Williams, Sir Herbert (Croydon, E.)
Profumo, J. D.Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)
Raikes, H. V.Storey, S.Wills, G.
Rayner, Brig. R.Strauss, Henry (Norwich, S.)Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)
Redmayne, E.Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)Wood, Hon. R.
Remnant, Hon. P.Studholme, H. G.
Renton, D. L. M.Summers, G. S.TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Roberts, Peter (Heeley)Sutcliffe, H.Mr. Drewe and Major Conant.
Robertson, Sir DavidTaylor, Charles (Eastbourne)

NOES

Acland, Sir RichardCorbet, Mrs. FredaHale, Leslie (Oldham, W.)
Adams, RichardCove, W. G.Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil (Colne Valley)
Albu, A. H.Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)Hall, John (Gateshead, W.)
Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)Crosland, C. A. R.Hamilton, W. W.
Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)Crossman, R. H. S.Hardy, E. A.
Anderson, Alexander (Motherwell)Cullen, Mrs. A.Hargreaves, A.
Anderson, Frank (Whitehaven)Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.Harrison, J. (Nottingham, E.)
Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R.Darling, George (Hillsborough)Hastings, S.
Awbery, S. S.Davies, A. Edward (Stoke, N.)Hayman, F. H.
Bacon, Miss AliceDavies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)Healey, Denis (Leeds, S.E.)
Baird, J.Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)Henderson, Rt. Hon. A (Rowley Regis)
Balfour, A.de Freitas, GeoffreyHerbison, Miss M.
Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.Deer, G.Hewitson, Capt. M.
Bence, C. R.Delargy, H. J.Hobson, C. R.
Benn, WedgwoodDonnelly, D. L.Holman, P.
Benson, G.Driberg, T. E. N.Holmes, Horace (Hemsworth)
Beswick, F.Dugdale, Rt. Hon. John (W. Bromwich)Hoy, J. H.
Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.Hubbard, T. F.
Bing, G. H. C.Edelman, M.Hudson, James (Ealing, N.)
Blackburn, F.Edwards, John (Brighouse)Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)
Blenkinsop, A.Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)
Blyton, W. R.Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)Hynd, H. (Accrington)
Boardman, H.Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)
Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.Evans, Stanley (Wednesbury)Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)
Bowden, H. W.Ewart, R.Irving, W. J. (Wood Green)
Bowles, F. G.Fernyhough, E.Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.
Braddock, Mrs. ElizabethField, W. J.Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.
Brockway, A. F.Fienburgh, W.Jeger, George (Goole)
Brook, Dryden (Halifax)Finch, H. J.Jeger, Dr. Santo (St. Pancras, S.)
Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.Fletcher, Eric (Islington, E.)Jenkins, R. H. (Stechford)
Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)Fonick, M.Johnson, James (Rugby)
Brown, Thomas (Ince)Foot, M. M.Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)
Burke, W. A.Forman, J. C.Jones, David (Hartlepool)
Burton, Miss F. E.Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)Jones, Frederick Elwyn (West Ham, S.)
Butler, Herbert (Hackney, S.)Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.Jones, Jack (Rotherham)
Callaghan, L. J.Gibson, C. W.Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)
Carmichael, J.Glanville, JamesKeenan, W.
Castle, Mrs. B. A.Gooch, E. G.Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.
Champion, A. J.Gordon-Walker, Rt. Hon. P. C.King, Dr. H. M.
Chapman, W. D.Greenwood, Anthony (Rossendale)Lee, Frederick (Newton)
Chetwynd, G. R.Greenwood, Rt. Hon. Arthur (Wakefield)Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)
Clunie, J.Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.Lever, Leslie (Ardwick)
Cocks, F. S.Grey, C. F.Lewis, Arthur
Coldrick, W.Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.
Collick, P. H.Griffiths, Rt. Hon. James (Llanelly)Logan, D. G.
Cook, T. F.Griffiths, William (Exchange)MacColl, J. E.

McGhee, H. G.Peart, T. F.Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)
McInnes, J.Plummer, Sir LeslieTaylor, John (West Lothian)
McKay, John (Wallsend)Popplewell, E.Taylor, Rt. Hon. Robert (Morpeth)
McLeavy, F.Porter, G.Thomas, David (Aberdare)
MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)Price, Joseph T. (Westhoughton)Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)
McNeil, Rt. Hon. H.Proctor, W. T.Thomas, Ivor Owen (Wrekin)
MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)Pryde, D. J.Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)
Mainwaring, W. H.Pursey, Cmdr. H.Thurtle, Ernest
Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)Rankin, JohnTimmons, J.
Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield, E.)Reeves, J.Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.
Mann, Mrs. JeanReid, Thomas (Swindon)Tomney, F.
Manuel, A. C.Reid, William (Camlachie)Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn
Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.Rhodes, H.Viant, S. P.
Mayhew, C. P.Richards, R.Watkins, T. E.
Mellish, R. J.Robens, Rt. Hon. A.Webb, Rt. Hon. M. (Bradford, C)
Messer, F.Roberts, Albert (Normanton)Wells, Percy (Faversham)
Mikardo, IanRoberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)Wells, William (Walsall)
Mitchison, G. R.Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)West, D. G.
Monslow, W.Ross, WilliamWheatley, Rt. Hon. John
Moody, A. S.Schofield, S. (Barnsley)White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)
Morgan, Dr. H. B. W.Shawcross, Rt. Hon. Sir HartleyWhite, Henry (Derbyshire, N.E.)
Morley, R.Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.
Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)Short, E. W.Wigg, George
Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, S.)Shurmer, P. L. E.Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.
Mort, D. L.Silverman, Julius (Erdington)Wilkins, W. A.
Moyle, A.Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)Willey, Frederick (Sunderland, N.)
Mulley, F. W.Smith, Ellis (Stoke, S.)Willey, Octavius (Cleveland)
Nally, W.Smith, Norman (Nottingham, S.)Williams, David (Neath)
Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon. P. J.Snow, J. W.Williams, Rev. Llywelyn (Abertillery)
O'Brien, T.Sorensen, R. W.Williams, Ronald (Wigan)
Oliver, G. H.Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir FrankWilliams, W. R. (Droyleden)
Oswald, T.Sparks, J. A.Williams, W. T. (Hammersmith, S.)
Padley, W. E.Steele, T.Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)
Paget, N. T.Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)Winterbottom, Richard (Brightside)
Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Demme Valley)Stokes, Rt. Hon. R. R.Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.
Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.Wyatt, W. L.
Pannell, CharlesStrauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)Yates, V. F.
Pargiter, G. A.Stross, Dr. Barnett
Parker, J.Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Paton, J.Swingler, S. T.Mr. Hannan and Mr. Royle.
Pearson, A.Sylvester, G. O.

Main Question again proposed.

rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Main Question be now put."

On a point of order. I submit, Mr. Speaker, that you, having put that Question to the House, decided that further debate was necessary and, therefore, you called me when I stood on my feet. I had just made a start upon my contribution to this debate when the Chief Whip interrupted in a way that I have never seen before in this House.

The hon. Member has got the sequence of events wrong. I called the hon. Member to speak, but, a moment or two after he had started to speak, the main Question was claimed by the Patronage Secretary, and I accepted it. [Interruption.] Order. I must put the Question.

On a point of order. May I ask your guidance on this matter, Mr. Speaker? Many of us, who cannot claim the wide and specialised knowledge of Standing Orders that belongs to some hon. Members, believed it to be the practice of the Chair to grant the Closure Motion if, in the opinion of the Chair, the matter under consideration has been sufficiently discussed.

You called my hon. Friend the Member for Wandsworth, Central (Mr. Adams), and I took it that, in calling him, it was in your mind that there was still something which you believed he could usefully add to our consideration of this question. At that time, therefore, I think it is doubtful whether you could have thought that the matter had been sufficiently discussed, but about half a minute later, the Closure was moved.

Are we to understand that my hon. Friend, in the course of 30 seconds, had added all that could be added to the consideration of this matter? My hon. Friend has a gift for pithy and pregnant utterance, but I cannot think that, if you were of the opinion before he rose that the matter had not been fully discussed—and if you were not of that opinion, you would not have called him—30 seconds later, you were—apparently—of the opinion that the matter had been sufficiently discussed, by your acceptance of the Motion for the Closure. Will you please explain that, Mr. Speaker?

I will explain it. When there is a Question before the House, and an hon. Member rises to address the House, I must call him, unless there is a Motion before me "That the Question be now put." There being no Motion before me claiming the main Question, when the hon. Member rose, I called him, and, when he had been speaking for a while—I do not know the exact period, but it was not long—the main Question was claimed, I have accepted it, and now I must put it. It is not a question whether I think the hon. Member has something to contribute to the debate or not; that has nothing to do with me. The main Question has been claimed, I have accepted the Motion, and now I must put the Question.

The Question is, "That this House, at its rising To-morrow, do adjourn till Monday, 21st April."

If the hon. and learned Gentleman will look at Standing Order 29, he will find that it is all arranged for there.

Main Question put accordingly, and agreed to.

Resolved,

That this House, at its rising To-morrow, do adjourn till Monday, 21st April.