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(3) Third Reading

Volume 269: debated on Friday 28 October 1932

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

One allotted day shall be given to the Third Reading of the Bill, and the proceedings thereon shall, if not previously brought to a conclusion, be brought to a conclusion at 7.30 p.m. on that day.

On the conclusion of the Committee stage of the Bill, the Chairman shall report the Bill to the House without Question put.

Any day (including the day on which this Order is passed) on which the Bill is put down as the first Order of the Day, shall be considered An allotted day for the purposes of this Order, and the Bill may be put down as the first Order of the Day on any Thursday, notwithstanding anything in the Standing Orders of the House relating to the Business of Supply.

Provided that where an allotted day is a Friday, this Order shall have effect as if for references to 7.30 p.m. and 11 p.m., respectively, there were substituted references to 1.30 p.m. and 3.30 p.m.

For the purpose of bringing to a conclusion any proceedings which are to be brought to a conclusion on an allotted day, and which have not previously been brought to a conclusion, the Chairman or Mr. Speaker shall, at the time appointed under this Order for the conclusion of those proceedings, put forthwith the Question on any Amendment or Motion already proposed from the Chair, and, in the case of a new Clause which has been read a Second time, also the Question that the Clause be added to the Bill and shall next proceed to put forthwith the Question on any Amendments, new Clauses, or Schedules moved by the Government of which notice has been given (but no other Amendments, new Clauses, or Schedules), and any Question necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded and, in the case of Government Amendments, or Government new Clauses or Schedules, he shall put only the Question that the Amendment be made, or that the Clauses or Schedules be added to the Bill, as the case may be.

Any Private Business which is set down for consideration at 7.30 p.m., and any Motion for Adjournment under Standing Order No. 10, on an allotted day shall, on that day, instead of being taken as provided by the Standing Orders, be taken on the conclusion of the proceedings on the Bill or under this Order for that day, and any Private Business or Motion for Adjournment so taken may be proceeded with, though opposed, notwithstanding any Standing, Order relating to the Sittings of the House.

On a day on which any proceedings are to, be brought to a conclusion under this Order proceedings for that purpose shall not be interrupted under the provisions of any Standing Order relating to the sitting of the House.

On a day on which any proceedings are to he brought to a conclusion under this Order no dilatory Motion with respect to proceedings on the Bill or under this Order, nor Motion that the Chairman do report Progress or do leave the Chair, nor Motion to postpone a Clause or to recommit the Bill, shall be received unless moved by the Government, and the Question on such Motion, if moved by the Government, shall be put forthwith without any Debate.

Nothing in this Order shall—

  • (a) prevent any proceedings which under this Order are to be concluded on any particular day being concluded on any other day, or necessitate any particular day or part of a particular clay being given to any such proceedings if those proceedings have been otherwise disposed of; or
  • (b) prevent any other business being proceeded with on any particular day, or part of a particular day, in accordance with the Standing Orders of the House, if any proceedings to be concluded under this Order on that particular day, or part of a particular day, have been disposed of.
  • This Order shall have effect notwithstanding the practice of the House relating to the intervals between the stages of any Bill.—[ The Prime Minister.]

    I think on this occasion I can move this Resolution almost pro forma. The House will notice that the intention is, beginning with this as the first allotted day, to finish on Tuesday, 8th November, the Third Reading of the Bill. If hon. Members put the days of the week opposite the allotted clays in the Motion, they will find that, assuming that there is no break in the run of the business, it brings the House up to and including Tuesday, 8th November, at 7.30 p.m. There is at present, I ought to explain, an attempt on foot to make some arrangement by which the Third Reading of the Bill will be obtained before the date provided for, in order to give the House some time for the discussion of unemployment. As I announced yesterday, the Government are perfectly willing to co-operate in carrying out a reasonable arrangement on those lines.

    There are some Clauses of the Bill which have not yet been explained and the case for which has not yet been made out, and, encouraged by this week's Debates, the Government are naturally very anxious that debate on those Clauses should take place. But there is really no difficulty at all, taking that into account and making due provision for it, in coming to some agreement by which opportunity will be found, within the time allowed by the Guillotine for those Debates. Let me assure those who are not perhaps familiar with the conduct of business under agreement that if this Resolution is passed to-day, it does not mean that we are committed to go on until Tuesday, 8th November. It is not necessary to make any amendment in the Guillotine Resolution for that purpose, and I understand that no Amendment is necessary on this Time Table, for the purpose of providing time for a Debate or Debates on unemployment, provided that there is a voluntary arrangement made on both sides of the House. We must get this Bill by the 8th November, and in order that that may be made certain, I beg to move this Motion.

    When the discussions took place in the usual manner in reference to time and the time table, we on these benches thought that the time would be sufficient, and more than sufficient, and we decided that in voting against the time table, I should make it clear that we were voting because it was a time table for this specific object. I want to say, on behalf of my friends, that we shall always, on occasions like this, make it quite clear that it is not the principle of the time table that we shall be voting against, but the time table for a specific object. We do not intend, if we can help it, to give food for speeches in the future, when a Socialist Government is there and will be using the same method. We think the House of Commons has had, or ought to have had, sufficient of that sort of discussion. All Governments do this, and I remember Liberal Governments doing it a long, long time ago; but, then, it is a long time since there was one. [Interruption]. I should not prophesy if I were the hon. Gentleman. Liberal Governments have done it, and then, when in Opposition, they have virtuously protested against robbing the House of Commons of its rights and so on. I do not propose to do anything of the kind to-day, and I want to make it quite clear that we think that this method of getting business through will in all probability be used more extensively in the future than it has been in the past.

    On the particular question of the eight days—I ask the House to give me two or three minutes—we think, quite definitely and without reservation, that the House might very severely curtail that length of time, seeing the very serious condition of affairs outside this House. No one can deny that the principle of the Ottawa Agreements has been exhaustively discussed during the last few days, and we want the House clearly to understand that it is not that we are unable to put down Amendments, as the Order Paper shows. We have abundance of Amendments, and can put down treble that number and stand by them, and talk about them, and waste time with the best or the worst of you; but it is not that at all. The point is that when we have had all the discussions, we know beforehand quite definitely that we are not going to win a single concession.

    I can quite understand the hon. Member, who thinks that we should go on talking for ever.

    Well, we might talk about something of very great importance. It is all very well for the right hon. and gallant Gentleman to say, "What else can we do?" We might at least try to discover whether the collective brains of this House can do anything at the moment to help the condition of affairs outside—[Interruption.] It may be a matter for the right hon. and gallant Gentleman to jeer about.

    The right hon. and gallant Gentleman is doing nothing else but jeer. He knows that we should discuss the unemployment question rather than go on with discussing this Motion. That is the only issue before us at this moment, namely, whether it is worth our while to continue these discussions about something that may do good to-morrow or may do harm to-morrow, instead of concentrating some part of the time on this terrible problem with which we all say we have great sympathy. I want to make it clear that we desire the House to finish these discussions at the latest on Wednesday—and if it is considered necessary to take Friday, we are quite willing—but to start oar discussions on unemployment on Thursday and continue them on Monday and Tuesday. That is oar proposition to the House, and believe that all sections of the House are agreeable to that, with the exception of the Members on the benches opposite led by the right hon. Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel). We are powerless to compel the House or to compel hon. and right hon. Members opposite to concede that, but we do not mind the jeers that we are not able to discuss this Bill right through to the end. Whether we are or are not, the one thing that we are prepared to do is to pool whatever ideas we have with the ideas of the mass of the Members of this House, and see whether something cannot be done to ameliorate the conditions of the people outside.

    With regard to the Motion which is now before the House, we raise no objection to it. The principle of a time-table for Parliamentary business on matters that may involve very prolonged Debate is, in my view, a sound principle, and I think that it must become the normal procedure of Parliament. There are only two conditions that ought to be attached to it—first, that the time allowed is really adequate for the serious and necessary discussion of all points of substance arising out of the Measure in question, and, secondly, I think that the terms of the Guillotine Motion ought to be generally agreed in the House. Indeed, it would be, in my submission, a useful form of procedure if there were a Committee of the House consisting, say, of some of the Chairmen of the principal Standing Committees, which should decide upon the nature of any time-table far the limitation of discussion, instead of it being left entirely to the Government and the Government majority to determine what the terms should be. In this case, however, I do not think that in any quarter of the House complaint is made that the time to he allowed in this Resolution is inadequate. It is, in our view, fully adequate. Therefore, we shall not oppose this Motion, but I suppose the House, since we are in definite opposition to the Bill for which this is the time-table, will not expect us by our votes to support a Motion which is intended to facilitate its passage.

    I quite agree with the Prime Minister when he said that there are many Clauses of this Bill which have not yet been explained and of which the House will require an explanation. Certainly they very much need explanation, and I am glad that the Debates so far have elicited a good deal of information which otherwise had not been forthcoming; and so it will be in the discussion of the future stages of the Bill. We on our part have no desire to engage in any unduly prolonged discussions. We have not done so hitherto. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] I do not think that anyone can say that any of my hon. Friends or myself have spoken on any occasion with a view simply to prolong debate or to occupy the time of the House or to delay the progress of the Bill, strongly opposed to it though we are All our speeches have been serious speeches devoted to particular points which we thought should be discussed for the enlightenment of the House and the country. For our part, we have no objection whatever to the debates being terminated at an earlier date than the time-table envisages if the adequate discussion of the Bill can be completed at an earlier time than the days that are mentioned. I and my hon. Friends think that it is most probable that we shall be able to concentrate the debates within a less time than the maximum allowed by the time-table. We raise no objection. The Leader of the Opposition is entirely wrong in saying that we have raised any objection to the Debates occupying a smaller number of days—

    My right hon. Friend said that the whole House was unanimous, except those on these benches, in favour of shortening the Debates and enabling time to be given for a discussion on unemployment. That is not so. We have at no time raised any objection to a smaller number of days than that included in the time-table being devoted to this Bill and the time so saved being devoted to a serious discussion on unemployment. The right hon. Gentleman is entirely unjust in making that assertion, and I therefore invite him to withdraw it.

    The statement that was made to me last night by one of the Whips of the Liberal party was that we might finish by Friday—only "might" finish—and that then we could have the two remaining days. That was the end of it. When I am told that I may have something and there is no surety that I may have anything at all, I do not call that agreeing to anything. It is agreeing to nothing.

    The right hon. Gentleman made a definite statement that we had objected.

    So you did. I discussed this with another Whip, and he thought that it was very foolish and asked me what I expected to gain out of it for the unemployed.

    Probably what my hon. Friend said was that if the debate was to be so vague and futile as the proposals made from the benches opposite on the occasion of the Censure Debate, the time of the House would be wasted with a repetition of the kind of speeches we had last week, which were of no concrete value and would prove of no assistance. On the particular point to which I am referring, the right hon. Gentleman declared in specific terms—and I believe that he is supported by the newspaper of his party—that we had raised definite objections and had blocked and vetoed the suggestion that the debates on the Ottawa Agreements Bill should be concentrated, leaving two days for unemployment. That is not the case. The right hon. Gentleman merely bases his assertion on the statement of some of my friends that we might be able to finish by Friday, and that, if the speeches were of the same character as those of last week, it would be a waste of time to give two days further to a debate on unemployment.

    The right hon. Gentleman cannot be allowed to get out of it in that way. The Whip who spoke to me did not say "if the speeches were to be the same as last week." The right hon. Gentleman himself took part in that Debate, so that he is in the pool as well as other people. I was told deliberately that it was a foolish thing, even if the House had any ideas of the matter at all.

    —to conform to what is the general desire of the House. Subject, of course, to adequate discussion taking place on all the Clauses—and that can be arranged—we can end the Ottawa debates two days earlier than is suggested, and those days can be devoted to a discussion on unemployment. I only hope that hon. Members opposite, before that discussion takes place, will prepare something definite and concrete in order to give the House the advantage of their co-operation.

    11.30 a.m.

    The right hon. Gentleman cannot get out of the position by indulging in abuse. He knows, or should know quite well, that the position is this. Unless some definite arrangements can be come to as regards the conduct of these things within a shorter space of time than is laid down by the Guillotine, inevitably, if both the Official Opposition and the right hon. Gentleman's party discussed all the Amendments that are down in full, the Debates would not be finished before the time allotted by the Guillotine. The attempt last night was to come to an arrangement by which the time should be so allotted that both parties, or the right hon. Gentleman's party alone, should have full time to discuss the Amendments which they wished to discuss, and thereby to ensure, not as a matter of chance or as a possibility, but to ensure for a certainty, that the Debates should end so as to leave time for discussion on unemployment. The right hon. Gentleman's party was unwilling to enter into any such arrangement. They were willing to give a vague statement that possibly the Debates might be concluded two days earlier. It is impossible, if we are to go through the discussions without any definite arrangements, to ensure that result. What we were anxious to do was to get an arrangement by which that result could be assured so that the House should definitely have the time available. It is that which the right hon. Gentleman's party refused to do last night. He now, apparently, having thought it over, is in a better frame of mind. He thinks that it could be arranged. If he and his party are prepared definitely to arrange the matter, the discussion on the Committee Stage of the Ottawa Bill can be so conducted as to give his party full opportunity to put forward their views. If no arrangement can be made, the Official Opposition will proceed with their Amendments, taking such time as they think fit to discuss them without any regard to the right hon. Gentleman's party and their Amendments. The whole object of an agreement is to ensure that that shall not happen. Unless an agree- ment can be made, obviously there can be no certainty of the time being saved.

    Question put, and agreed to.