[Mr. JAMES BROWN in the Chair.]
(1) The time for general purposes in Great Britain shall, during the period of summer time in each year, be one hour in advance of Greenwich mean time, and wherever any reference to a point of time occurs in any enactment, Order-in-Council, order, regulation, rule, byelaw, deed, notice or other document whatsoever, the time referred to shall, during the period of summer time, be deemed, subject as hereinafter provided, to be the time as fixed for general purposes by this Act:
Provided that nothing in this Act shall affect the use of Greenwich mean time for purposes of astronomy, meteorology, or navigation, or affect the construction of any document mentioning or referring to a point of time in connection with any of those purposes.
(2) For the purposes of this Act, the period of summer time shall be the period beginning at two o'clock, Greenwich mean time, in the morning of the day next following the first Saturday in April, or, if that day is Easter day, the day next following the last Saturday in March, and ending at two o'clock, Greenwich mean time, in the morning of the day next following the first Saturday in October.
The CHAIRMAN: Sir Victor Warrender.
Major COLFOX: I beg to move, "That the Committee do now adjourn." Before we deal with the first Amendment, I should like to ask what are the intentions with regard to the sittings of this Committee. It so happens, by a series of coincidences, that at the present moment there are three Bills under discussion in Committees, all of which are of vital importance and interest to the agricultural industry. Naturally, Members who are interested in agriculture are attending all those Committees. This morning there had been fixed a meeting 1676 of the Committee which is dealing with the Agricultural Wages Bill, and this one. At the last moment, however, the Wages Bill Committee was postponed, for reasons which have not been revealed to me, and, therefore, it is impossible for Members who are members of that Committee as well as this to be present here this morning. But if that Committee had not been postponed, we should have found ourselves at a very serious disadvantage, because the supporters of this Bill are Members who are interested neither in the greatest industry of the country, agriculture, nor in what is, perhaps, the next greatest thing, mining. I move my Motion as a matter of form, in order to get a decision as to this Committee's sittings in the future, and do not intend to press it to a Division. There are three Bills under discussion in Committee of vital interest to the industry of agriculture. Clearly, it is impossible for those Members who are interested in the industry of agriculture to be present at all three Committees at the same time. The Committee which is dealing with the Agricultural Wages Bill sits, as a rule, on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. The Committee which is dealing with the Merchandise Marks Bill sits, as a rule, on Wednesday mornings. Therefore, I submit that that state of affairs rules out for the purpose of this Committee Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday mornings. That leaves us with the alternative of sitting either on Monday morning, or on one of the afternoons of the week. Therefore, I ask you, in arranging the time for future meetings, to bear those facts in mind. It is immaterial to the supporters of the Bill when the Committee sits, because they do not take any interest in the two greatest industries of the country, but it is a matter of the greatest importance that the sittings of the Committee should not clash with the sittings of the other Committees.
Sir VICTOR WARRENDER: We are in a most extraordinary position. At the present moment there are three Standing Committees of this House—
The CHAIRMAN: I cannot allow a debate on a matter of this kind.
Sir V. WARRENDER: I am putting my point of view.
The CHAIRMAN: It has been put already by the hon. and gallant Member for West Dorset (Major Colfox).1677
Sir V. WARRENDER: He did not put this point. These Bills are before the Standing Committees, and do not appear to have a chance of getting through before the Recess. Therefore, I suggest that, in order that those Members of this Committee who are Members of the other Standing Committees also should have more time and liberty to pursue their duties on other Committees, as the Government are unlikely to get this Bill through before the Recess, we should adjourn this Committee.
The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. Rhys Davies) rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put," but the Chairman withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question.
Major COLFOX: I said that this Motion was moved merely as a matter of form, and would not be pressed to a Division, but I made that statement on the assumption that a full, free and frank discussion would be permitted. If that discussion is to be burked, I shall have to reconsider my decision.
Mr. G. OLIVER: Are we to understand that, in the event of the sittings of this Committee being satisfactory to the hon. and gallant Member and his friends, they will not stand outside the door and attempt to hold up the commencement of our meeting?
Mr. HOPE SIMPSON: I concur in the protest against the attempt to impose the Closure on the Committee. We are entitled to ventilate our views, and it is a monstrous thing that inside of ten minutes the representative of the Government should attempt to impose the Closure. If the Motion for adjournment be pressed, I am prepared to support it in a Division.
Duchess of ATHOLL: I support the views of the hon. and gallant Member for West Dorset (Major Colfox). Hon. Members who do not represent agricultural constituencies hardly realise the strength of feeling in those constituencies, particularly in Scotland, in regard to the proposed extension of Summer Time. I cannot think of any other question, short of the very important question of disease, from the results of which farmers are suffering, which has been discussed during 1678 the last six months which has aroused so much interest as this has among farmers in Scotland. I do not think that it will add to the respect in which the proceedings of Parliament are held in country districts in Scotland if it is impossible for the case of agriculturists to be put forward adequately in this Committee because so many Members representing agricultural constituencies are engaged in another Committee discussing a measure of vital importance to agriculture. As it does appear doubtful whether this Bill can be passed before we adjourn for the Recess, the fair and reasonable course would be to adjourn this Committee and allow us to consider the matter, with fairness to all the interests involved, when we reassemble after the Recess.
Mr. MILLS: This kind of protest is more a matter to be addressed to the Whips of each party. There are more Members representing agricultural constituencies than are to be found on both the Committees referred to. I am a Member for an agricultural constituency, and so are others who support this Bill, though the taunt has often been levelled against us that we are not. It has been suggested that, because we differ in our views from hon. Members, we are indifferent to agricultural interests. That kind of argument can be taken for what it is worth. If the people who are protesting had addressed their protests to the Whips, who are responsible for putting the representatives on a Committee, we should not have had time wasted this morning.
Duchess of ATHOLL: Is it the Whips who appoint representatives to these Committees?
Major COLFOX: It has nothing to do with the Whips. It is entirely a matter for the Committee of Selection. I wish to elicit some expression of opinion from the Government upon this extremely important matter. The Government were elected at the last General Election on a variety of promises, among others, that they would do a great deal of good to the industry of agriculture. So far they have done nothing for that industry.
The CHAIRMAN: I am afraid that the hon. and gallant Member is out of Order. We are not discussing that question here.1679
Mr. COOPER RAWSON: Is it in order for one Member to make three speeches on the same subject? There are hundreds of thousands of people all over the country who want this Act, and we have now had obstruction which has lasted 25 minutes. Our time is just as valuable as that of the hon. and gallant Member who moved the Motion.
Major COLFOX: May I point out that if the hon. Member would read the Standing Orders he would discover that, in the Committee stage of a Bill, there is no limit to the number of speeches which may be addressed by any individual Member to the Committee. This is a matter which vitally affects agriculture, and I would appeal earnestly to the Government to implement, at any rate, some of their promises, made at the recent Election, to do something for agriculture, which is very hard-pressed at present. Even if they reject this Bill it is not doing very much, but if the opposition to this Bill did nothing else, it would, at any rate, help them to save their faces, and show that they had some respect for the promises which they had given.
The CHAIRMAN: Does the hon. and gallant Member wish to withdraw his Motion, or to press it?
Major COLFOX: I shall be quite pleased to withdraw it.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
Sir V. WARRENDER: I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), to leave out the words "for general purposes."
Major COLFOX: The hon. Member for Frome (Mr. F. Gould) has given notice of an Amendment to insert, at the beginning of Sub-section (1), the words "Except as hereinafter in this Act provided." He is not a member of this Committee, but surely it is competent for a member of the Committee to move an Amendment put down in the name of another Member of the House.
The CHAIRMAN: Does the hon. and gallant Member wish to move the Amendment referred to?
Major COLFOX: Certainly. I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), at the beginning, to insert the words "Except as hereinafter in this Act provided.' 1680 It would be going beyond the bounds of Order, in moving this Amendment, to touch even lightly on later Amendments appearing on the Order Paper which this Amendment is intended to safeguard, but in a Bill of this sort, which deals with all the interests of the country, and affects some prejudicely and some beneficially, it is only fair that there should be certain exceptions permitted, under the operation of the Bill. It is not possible, owing to the rules of Order, for me to discuss the proposed exceptions which appear now on the Paper, or which will be put on the Paper before long by hon. Friends who think with me in this matter. Therefore I formally move this Amendment.
Sir V. WARRENDER: I support this Amendment because, as has already been said, one has got to provide for contingencies coming later on in the Bill. I am surprised that the Bill was not originally drafted with these words included, because there are certain provisions made by the Emergency Bill, as to which the provisions of this Bill shall not have effect, and, though I speak with great humility on the subject of drafting, this appears to be another case of loose drafting. It is a thoroughly bad Bill in every way, and the drafting is as bad as the subject matter.
Mr. RHYS DAVIES: The Amendment, I believe, is intended merely as a drafting Amendment, but I am advised that, if the words be carried, they will have no meaning. They are unnecessary and meaningless, and, therefore, I ask the Committee to reject the Amendment.
Sir V. WARRENDER: Although, as the Bill is at present drafted, they have no meaning, yet, as it will be subsequently amended, these words will then be necessary.
Mr. SIMPSON: If these words are not inserted, there will be a difficulty in proposing other Amendments later on.
Major COLFOX: I differ from the Under-Secretary. These words have a very definite meaning. The meaning is, that the insertion of these words makes possible the insertion later on of other words which would provide exceptions to the operations of the Bill. If the Government spokesman thinks that the words have no meaning one way or the other, 1681 surely he can have no objection to their insertion. The sanest and most just course to adopt is to please those on this side, who feel that this is a matter of importance, and at the same time not to do violence to the feelings of the Government.
Mr. FALCONER: I am interested in subsequent Amendments. It might leave more open the fixing of the dates from which summer time is to run, which is the big question, if we could have some such words as these inserted. But if the Government say that it would be open, whether the words are in or not, to deal with the question of date, I attach not the slightest importance to this Amendment.
Mr. R. DAVIES: If the Amendment be carried, Sub-section (1) will begin "Except as hereinafter in this Act provided." In lines 13 and 14 of the same Sub-section you have the words, "subject as hereinafter provided." I am advised that these words have exactly the same effect. If the Amendment be carried it will mean a repetition of words. Although I am a Welshman, I must have regard to the English language.
Mr. SIMPSON: What the Under-Secretary has said is correct. But there are Amendments which, if carried, would come between the words proposed in the present Amendment and the words which the Under-Secretary has quoted. We might meet the difficulty by inserting the words at the beginning of the Clause and deleting the similar words which occur in the Sub-section subsequently.
Major COLFOX: The fact which has been pointed out by the Under-Secretary did not escape the attention of those Members who colloborated in the drafting of Amendments. It must be clear to everyone, however, that it would be very much better drafting and more in accordance with the best precedents in legislation if the words of the Amendment came at the beginning and not in the middle of a sentence. I know that for some reason, which has never been clear to me, there are people who think it necessary to complicate the wording of Acts of Parliament to such an extent that they are often intelligible only to the expert legally trained mind. It would be very much better and more in the interests of the 1682 ordinary layman for the words of the Amendment to be inserted at the beginning of the Clause.
Mr. SIMPSON: The difficulty could be got round at once, if the words in lines 13 and 14, which were quoted by the Under-Secretary, were taken out and put at the beginning of the Sub-section.
Mr. R. DAVIES: I am advised that that would make no difference at all. If it pleases Members of the Committee to put the words at the beginning instead of in the middle of the Sub-section, I am quite agreeable.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment made: In Sub-section (1), at the beginning, insert the words "Subject as hereinafter in this Act provided."—[Major Colfox.]
Sir V. WARRENDER: I beg to move, after the words last inserted, to add the words, "after the first Saturday in May, nineteen hundred and twenty-five." This Amendment is a variation of that on the Paper, in that it substitutes the year 1925 for the year 1924, and it embodies the next Amendment on the Paper in the name of the hon. Member for Ormskirk (Mr. Blundell). The object of the Amendment is to get a little lighter treatment for those who are engaged in agriculture. The Under-Secretary met us most courteously on the last Amendment, and I hope he will do so on this and subsequent Amendments. If at any time he can suggest improvements in our Amendments, I hope he will do so, for we shall be delighted to accept any advice that he can offer in that respect. Many of us feel that it might be as well, in the first year of this Bill coming into force—I am assuming that the Bill will not be passed by the end of this Session, and, therefore, will not affect the closing of summer time this year—to start rather gradually with the extension of summer time. The Amendment would have the effect of tacking on a certain period at the end of the summer time and taking off some time at the beginning. Instead of having a large extension of summer time next year you will have a gradual extension. Summer time will not begin as early as is provided in the Bill, and, therefore, we shall be able to see how the Bill works and how it affects agriculture; we shall 1683 be able to watch agricultural prices, and if any startling results are seen next year no doubt we shall be able to show that to some extent they are attributable to the pernicious results of summer time. There is an impression among some people that agriculturists do not realise the benefit that summer time confers on the rest of the community. That is a mistaken idea. We thoroughly appreciate it. The agriculturist is by nature a very generous and large-hearted man, and is not in any way anxious to spoil the interests of his brothers whose misfortune it is to live in the great cities. Therefore, it would be as well to be fairly lenient to the agricultural section of the population and not to treat them too harshly, because human patience has its limits, and we cannot go on for ever, though we are in a minority and know it, giving in to the interests of the urban man, who, from a broad point of view, does not provide anything like the same high standard of physique and manhood which the man in the country provides. If my Amendment be rejected, I am of opinion it will only go further to enlarge the breach which is to-day growing, so far as feeling is concerned, between the town and the country. We must play into each others hands as much as we can, and be fair one to the other. I should like to see the townsman, for once, showing the countryman that he appreciates the countryman's difficulties just as much as the agriculturist appreciates the townsman's difficulties. I know the difficulties of the agricultural section of the population are harder to recognise, because agriculture is a highly technical industry, and a great many years of study are required before one can fully appreciate how highly skilled an industry it is. From that point of view, perhaps, the lack of consideration for the agriculturist which appears on the side of the townsman is not so surprising. I once more impress on the Under-Secretary the importance of not coming down in one fell swoop on the agriculturist with this extension of summer time. Let us see how a slight extension will work for next year, and, after that, we shall be able to form a judgment as to whether our views on the evils of summer time in the country are exaggerated or not, while those in favour of the Bill will be able 1684 to judge whether their belief in summer time is exaggerated or not. All round, I think the Amendment has many advantages, and that the Committee would be well advised to discuss it thoroughly, and go into all the avenues which it opens up before deciding whether summer time should be as provided in the Bill, or whether it should come in gradually.
Mr. SIMPSON: I should like to support the Amendment, but I fear I cannot do so. We all agree that summer time has come to stay, and my opposition to this Bill is due to the fact that the Government, having made an agreement with certain foreign countries, wish to compel us to commence our summer time earlier than is necessary, and finish it later than is necessary. That is the real grievance This arrangement is being imposed upon us by force, because the Government have made an agreement with the Belgian and French Governments—a procedure which seems utterly wrong. Though we are prepared to sacrifice agricultural interests to the interests of the sport and recreation of the general public for the five months from the middle of April to the middle of September, we are going to resist with all the devices at our disposal any attempt to impose summer time as from the 1st April to the 30th September—sometimes even from a date earlier than 1st April to a date later than the 30th September. The agricultural community always alleged that there was a grievance in summer time itself, but that grievance was accepted by them in the interests of the public. Now this grievance is to be made still more burdensome and infinitely more important, by compelling us to accept six months of summer time every year by statute, and the time has come when we must protest. I cannot support this Amendment, because it seems to me that a bigger issue is involved in the Bill, and that it is on the main issue we ought to fight.
Major COLFOX: Fight every point.
Mr. SIMPSON: Certain hon. Members are willing to fight every point, but I am not willing to do so. I am willing to fight a point which is of substance, and a point on which the Government might well meet us. We have already had experience of summer time, and as I say the hands of the clock cannot be turned back. We 1685 are not going to fight the Government over the question of summer time as such, but over the question of summer time in the first half of April and the last half of September. This Amendment is only a means of preventing that arrangement coming into force next year. Let us get at the main question, and fight it on general principles, not for next year but for every year. If this proposal be embodied in an Act of Parliament, there will be no opportunity of changing it from year to year, and I feel that we should sacrifice the smaller point and fight on the bigger point.
The CHAIRMAN: I should point out to the Committee that if we discuss and dispose of the question of date at this stage, it cannot be raised again on Sub-section (2). The Committee can have the Debate now if they care, or later on.
Mr. SIMPSON: On a point of Order. I submit this Amendment has nothing to do with the date of summer time. It only relates to the date on which the Act is to come into force. It does not relate to the principle of the Act, namely, that in all other years summer time shall commence, as from a certain date.
Major COLFOX: The date we are at present discussing is merely the date for next year when this Measure starts to operate, but, supposing the Bill goes through, that date will have nothing to do with any year except 1925, and all the years following will be governed by entirely different dates which are mentioned later in the Bill. Whether this date is inserted in the Bill or not, makes no difference whatever to the date when the Bill comes regularly into operation year by year.
The CHAIRMAN: Then hon. Members must not broaden out their arguments, but must confine themselves strictly to the Amendment.
Mr. SIMPSON: I apologise if I went outside the scope of the Amendment, but I was trying to explain my own position in the matter.
Major COLFOX: I support the Amendment, and congratulate the hon. Baronet who moved it on having combined two Amendments which appear on the Order Paper with the laudable object of economising time and shortening the duration 1686 of the sittings of this Committee. Whatever one may feel as to the advisability or otherwise of passing this Bill into law, we are all agreed that the time of a Member of Parliament is of some value—at any rate to himself, though possibly to nobody else. Therefore, it is better that he should not be detained indefinitely by arguments for and against a Bill not of vital import one way or the other. Years ago the proportion of the population who dealt directly with Nature in her various forms, to the number who dealt with artificial conditions, was very much greater than it is to-day. We have to-day in the hon. Member for West Woolwich (Sir K. Wood) a typical example, if I may say so without disrespect, of the middle-class section of the population which does not deal with elemental Nature, but lives perpetually under purely artificial conditions. I say so with no disrespect either to the hon. Member or to any other hon. Member, but we have to realise that to-day very few of us are pitted against Nature in her elemental forms, and I think it will be agreed that those engaged upon the task of extracting directly from the soil by agricultural means, by mining methods, or by other devices, the wealth which has been, or is being provided by Nature's hand, are in contact with the elemental facts of existence. They are not living under artificial man-made conditions as the vast majority of the people in our great centres of population are compelled, through no fault of their own, to live.
Mr. LEIF JONES: What has all this to do with the difference between 1st April and 1st May?
The CHAIRMAN: I am waiting to see. While on my feet I must warn the hon. and gallant Member that he is not to repeat himself.
Major COLFOX: I will do my utmost. Sir, to keep myself within the strict confines of your ruling. My point, put briefly, is that one section of the population is dealing directly with Nature, and the other is not. It is in the interests of those who are dealing directly with Nature that this artificial tampering with, the clock should not be permitted, whereas those living in urban centres, under artificial conditions, consider that their interest lies in the opposite direc- 1687 tion. They desire the maximum amount of so-called summer time, and, unfortunately, the town-dwellers numerically, though in no other way, preponderate over the countrymen. What has to be sought for is some middle way, something which is neither the maximum desired by the townsman nor the minimum desired by the countryman. I would suggest, also, that it is very advisable that this great change, this revolution in relativity, if I may say so—because, after all, it is nothing more or less than that; we are now altering merely the relative period of the day at which we perform our accustomed daily task—I say it is very desirable that this change should be made not irrevocably and at one fell swoop, but by gentle and comparatively easy stages. It is most important, therefore, that next spring, the first spring-time that this Act, if it becomes so, will be on the Statute Book, should have the date put, not the very earliest possible which would suit the hon. Member for West Woolwich and his friends, nor yet the latest possible, which would suit countrymen like myself, and the miners, the friends and colleagues of hon. Members across the room. Therefore I strongly support the insertion of the date of the early part of May for the one year, 1925. When we come later to discuss what shall be the permanent date for bringing summer time into operation year by year, no doubt hon. Gentlemen will have numerous ideas and remarks to put before the Committee. I confine myself strictly to the discussion as to whether or not for the year 1925, and that year only, it is advisable to begin summer time early in May. We all of us remember the well-known lines of the poet: "Oh to be in England now that April's here."
The CHAIRMAN: I am afraid we are not met to hear recitations.
Mr. JONES: Misquotations!
Major COLFOX: I shall confine myself—
Mr. KIRKWOOD: You are speaking of April; this is August!
The CHAIRMAN: The hon. and gallant Member was speaking poetically.1688
Mr. SIMPSON: Is an hon Member not allowed to quote poetry in Committee?
The CHAIRMAN: If it applies, yes; but I considered this out of place at the moment.
Major COLFOX: I will confine myself strictly to talking prose. I am only too delighted that the right hon. Gentleman opposite corrected the rather obvious mis-quotation of which I was guilty a moment ago. In conclusion, I should like very much to get the views of the spokesman of the Government on this particular matter, and of the hon. Member for West Woolwich (Sir K. Wood) who is, after all, the parent of this Bill. He appears, however, to have run away, for he is not at the moment in the room, to be burking discussion, and to be afraid of this or future Amendments.
Mr. WESTWOOD: I beg to move, "That the Committee do now adjourn." It is not a Government Bill so far as I understand, and the hon. Gentleman who is responsible for this Bill has disappeared. There is obviously nobody here in charge of the Bill.
The CHAIRMAN: This is a Government Bill.
Mr. WESTWOOD: On a point of Order. When was that decided? I have no knowledge of that, and should have, particularly in view of the fact that there are so many miners interested in this particular Bill for the purpose of destroying it.
The CHAIRMAN: The Bill, I understand, has been starred.
Mr. JONES: I hope the Committee will not accept this Amendment. Hon. Gentlemen opposite, who profess to speak on behalf of the agricultural industry, are really uttering the view that the agricultural interest in asking that the Measure shall be introduced again. The agriculture interest, like every other interest, will be glad to have the matter settled, and not for it to be left in the condition of the past few years. Replying to the hon. Baronet opposite, I suggest it is high time that the country should know what summer-time is; that it should know when it begins and ends. We should settle once for all what is to be the period of summer-time in this country. I sug- 1689 gest to the hon. Baronet that it would not be well to have a continuation of the uncertainty of the date. Hon. Members who have been speaking for agriculture have no right to assume that the whole rural community is opposed to summertime. That is not my view, and I have lived all my life in the country.
Sir V. WARRENDER: If I gave the impression that the agricultural community is entirely opposed to summer-time, I withdraw it. That was not my intention. All I meant to say was, it is very strongly opposed to any extension.
Mr. JONES: I am very glad to hear that, because the whole tenour of the discussion this morning has been to divide the discussion into town and country, and to suggest that there was an altercation between the two. The truth is that farmers have had more difficulty in adapting themselves to summer-time than any other class in the community, and also farmers are naturally conservative. They hate these changes merely because Parliament says so.
Mr. FALCONER: On a point of Order. I am a little afraid we are getting into a general discussion which may lead you, Mr. Brown, to preclude us later from really dealing with the Amendment which raises the question of the length of the period. I intervene for the purpose of saying that some of us are saying nothing at all upon this question which refers only to a date, and are reserving anything we may have to say till the main question is reached.
Mr. JONES: I am not speaking on that, I am only arguing against the first of May coming into operation next year, if there is to be a different date for it subsequently. I want to get the matter settled so that the farmers can adapt themselves to it. They will do so if they know what they have to adapt themselves to. I am perfectly opposed to this Amendment.
Mr. R. DAVIES: I sincerely trust the Committee will come to a decision on this very simple issue. The present Act provides that summer-time shall commence, generally speaking, on the day next following the third Saturday in April. This year it was the 20th April. The Bill now before the Committee provides that summer-time shall commence 1690 on the day next following the first Saturday in April, which is, of course, extending the period, as has already been pointed out. The Amendment breaks right through these provisions, and makes summer-time next year more contracted than in the present Act; consequently, the Government cannot possibly accept the Amendment. I am rather astonished to hear from the hon. Gentleman opposite that he was opposed to an international agreement in the connection. The Government, in fact, has made this international agreement to meet the difficulties of the boat and train services between this country and the Continent. Really, it is rather late in the day to try to disparage any international agreement of this kind. I trust we shall now come to a decision.
Sir V. WARRENDER: I quite agree with the hon. Gentleman who speaks for the Government that is a great convenience to those going to and from the Continent that there should be this agreement. But consider the proportion of the population of this country who actually do go to the Continent, and the proportion of people that this Bill affects. We appreciate the advantages of the Act, but what we maintain is that the interests of a large section of our population largely outweigh these Other considerations, and should be borne in mind in framing legislation of this kind.
Mr. WESTWOOD: I was rather amazed to hear the arguments of the Under-Secretary for the Home Department, that they desired to place this Bill on the Statute Book because of the boat and train services between this country and abroad. I was amazed, because he knows, as I do, the mining community, and the mining community are opposed to any further extension of so-called summer-time. The miners' organisations repeatedly have passed resolutions, I think unanimously, opposing any further extension of this particular Bill, and I am amazed that a member of a Government in which there are so many miners should be so desperately anxious not to do anything for the miners, but to do the miners in. I am certainly going—a rather strange combination—to combine with those who are using every piece of Parliamentary procedure that can be used for the purpose 1691 of destroying this Bill. We are opposed to it. We believe that it has not added to the health of our children. We believe that, so far as the miners are concerned, where they go to work at 3 o'clock in the morning, instead of 4 o'clock, and where you have to get up at 5 instead of 6, and so on, you do not really alter the time by tinkering with the clock. The children of the miners are losing that extra rest. The miners are losing their extra hours of sleep, and if I know the mining community aright, they want nothing whatever to do with this Bill.
The CHAIRMAN: The hon. Member is hardly discussing the Amendment.
Mr. WESTWOOD: I will try to keep to the Amendment so far as I can. We will fight this question as to how long summer time is to exist. The agricultural community are opposed to this Bill. I represent not entirely an agricultural community, but partly that, though mostly mining. So I say that this is of consequence to my constituents who, with the exception of the shop-keeping fraternity, are opposed to this Bill. The way for these to get an extra hour of summer time if they want it is to knock an hour off the hours of labour, and not to tinker with the clock.
|Division No. 1.]||AYES.|
|Colfox, Major||Makins, Brigadier-General||Stephen, Mr.|
|Kirkwood, Mr.||Martin, Mr. Frederick||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Alstead, Mr.||Gardner, Mr. Benjamin||Rawson, Mr. Cooper|
|Bourne, Captain||Hamilton, Sir Robert||Sandeman, Mr.|
|Bramsdon, Sir Thomas||Hastings, Mr. Somerville||Sassoon, Sir Philip|
|Bullock, Captain||Hoffmann, Mr.||Simpson, Mr. Hope|
|Chapple, Dr.||Jones, Mr. Leif||Stuart, Lord Colum Crichton-|
|Davies, Mr. Rhys||Millar, Mr. Duncan||Williams, Lieut.-Colonel T. S. B.|
|Falconer, Mr.||Mills, Mr.||Wilson, Mr. Robert|
|Wood, Sir Kingsley|
The CHAIRMAN: I do not propose to call the next Amendment—at the beginning of Sub-section (1) to insert the words "Provided that the Home Secretary, with the concurrence of the Secretary of State for Air, deems that the meteorological forecast is favourable, then."
Sir V. WARRENDER: Is that Amendment out of order?
The CHAIRMAN: It is a frivolous Amendment, as the hon. Member must know.1692
Major COLFOX: I am delighted to see that the parent of this Bill, the hon. Member for West Woolwich (Sir K. Wood), has returned to his place, and to the deliberations of this Committee. So far he has pat with a sphinx-like face, and has not given us the benefit of his undoubted great knowledge of the urban side of this problem, and since he is after all the originator, the founder, the archfiend, if I may say so with great respect, in connection with this Bill, I do feel that he is treating the Committee with very scant respect, and in a manner entirely foreign to his usual custom, by which he gives the Committee and the House the benefit of his views ad nauseam, in sitting absolutely silent in an attitude of sinister disrespect. The least he can do is to give us a reply.
Mr. KIRKWOOD: Do you think that I should be allowed to talk in that way?
The CHAIRMAN: I am afraid that the hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood) would not be allowed to talk in that way.
Question put, "That those words be there inserted."
The Committee divided: Ayes, 7; Noes, 22.
Major COLFOX: I presume, Sir, that the reason you deem it frivolous is because it talks about a meteorological forecast, but, if you look lower down the Sub-section, you will see a reference to the "purposes of astronomy, meteorology, or navigation," and, therefore, if this Amendment be frivolous, the Bill is frivolous, and should be ruled out of order.
The CHAIRMAN: The hon. Member has been trying to prove that all along.
Major COLFOX: Do you rule that the whole Bill is frivolous?1693
The CHAIRMAN: No, but I have said that the hon. and gallant Member has been trying to prove that it is.
Major COLFOX: I have been doing my best.
Sir V. WARRENDER: I beg to move, in Sub-section (1), to leave out the words "for general purposes." It seems to me that these words are unnecessary, because later on it is clearly defined already in the Bill—and if subsequent Amendments be carried there will be more instances of this kind—when and where this Act shall not be operative. As this Bill, if passed, will, presumably, establish summer time for ever, we should eliminate, as far as possible, everything that is likely to give rise to dispute. Therefore, I would suggest that, when it defines clearly to what purposes this Act is not to apply, it is sheer nonsense to put in the words "for general purposes." It is likely in future that there will be new forms of science, and new inventions, which it is impossible at present to envisage. We have seen that happen in our time. From that point of view alone, for the sake of clearness, we should leave out those words. I do not expect to get the support of the hon. Member for West Woolwich (Sir K. Wood), because lawyers make their living out of the want of clearness, and, as a member of the most expensive trade union of the country, he will not, in loyalty to his colleagues, support me in this Amendment, but possibly the hon. Member for Peebles (Mr. Westwood) may see the point of my remarks, and support me as vigorously in this Amendment as he did in the last one.
Mr. SIMPSON: I would like very much to know what "general purposes" are. It seems to me that these words in the Bill do not define anything. Are they intended to define certain purposes for which time, which is also not defined, is to be advanced one hour in summer? What are the purposes in the mind of the hon. Gentleman? Surely his real intention is that for all purposes, except certain purposes which are specifically mentioned in the Bill, time shall be advanced by one hour. I ask what is meant by these words, so that we may know whether we should or should not support the Amendment?1694
Mr. SANDEMAN: Does the expression "general purposes" include dying or being born? It appears to me that there is a great lot of mixture about this matter.
Mr. R. DAVIES: Though these words are included in the two previous Acts, this is the first time that any criticism has been made about them. But the real point is this: if hon. Members will look at the second paragraph of Sub-section (1), they will see the words, "Provided that nothing in this Act shall affect the use of Greenwich mean time," and so on. The "general purposes" would cover everything except that which is included in that exception. I am informed that these words are generally used in statute law.
Sir V. WARRENDER: It is possible that in days to come you will have some new form of science, involving exceptions which are not covered by this Bill. What is going to be the position then? We are not legislating for this year or next year. The Labour party, surely, would like to think that their work will live after them.
Mr. MILLS: This is not a Government Measure; it is a Tory Measure.
Major COLFOX: I feel strongly that we must get a definite answer from the one man who can answer questions of this sort. Why did the proud papa put these words into the mouth of his offspring? Why were the words "general purposes" made an integral portion of the Bill? Because it is clear that the words mean nothing, and unless the proud papa can give us some real reason for putting in these words, they ought to be omitted. The Under-Secretary has told us that the only reason, as far as he knows, for including these words is that they have been included in two previous enactments. That is a mere case of slavish copying. Surely the hon. Member for West Woolwich (Sir K. Wood) is above that sort of thing. We have grown accustomed to thinking of the hon. Member for West Woolwich as a sort of G. K. Chesterton in miniature, a man of great imagination and of great scope—
The CHAIRMAN: We are not discussing the hon. Member for West Woolwich. We are discussing this Amendment.1695
Major COLFOX: Yes, I realise that, tempting as is that subject for discussion, much as one would like to embark upon it, it is irrelevant on the present occasion, but I do feel that these words for which we have been given no reason, except that they have appeared in two previous enactments, should be eliminated, because they mean nothing. The fact that they have appeared time after time is not sufficient ground for cumbering a Statute of this sort. If the words had been "for all purposes," and then the excepting Clause later had excepted this thing, that thing and the other thing, there would have been something to be said for them. Unless the hon. Member for West Woolwich is prepared to relax for a moment of two that attitude of contempt for the Committee which he has adopted all through the proceedings, and to give us the benefit of his winged words, we shall have to oppose these words most strongly.
Mr. WESTWOOD: I am amazed to hear the last speech, because the hon. and gallant Member has suggested that the words mean nothing. I oppose these words, because I am satisfied that they may mean a great deal more than appears on the surface. I want to know what the words mean. I do not know what they mean, and I wish to know exactly what their purpose is. I propose to move further on an Amendment to exclude mining. Does "general purposes" include mining? Does the expression deal with the school life of the children? Does it deal with courting?
Mr. KIRKWOOD: You do not want to stop courting, do you?
Mr. WESTWOOD: No, I want to encourage courting, because if everyone was as satisfied with the results as I am, he would be happy.
The CHAIRMAN: That is all very interesting, but it is out of order.
Mr. WESTWOOD: I admit that I was drawn off the rails. I am anxious to know from the hon. Member for West Woolwich what "general purposes" means. The Committee are entitled to know. No one knows better than the hon. Member for West Woolwich how to explain the meaning of words. I have served on a Committee with the hon. Member before, and I remember that he took three or four hours to explain two 1696 or three words. Does the expression apply to a general in the Army? I feel sure that the hon. and gallant Member who spoke last would agree to the words if they had any reference to the Army.
The CHAIRMAN: I ruled out an Amendment because it was frivolous, and I cannot allow the hon. Member to go on with these statements.
Mr. WESTWOOD: There is no frivolity, as far as I am concerned.
Mr. STEPHEN: On a point of Order. The hon. Member is submitting that the word "general" is a frivolous word, and therefore he is entitled to use frivolous arguments against it.
The CHAIRMAN: The hon. Member was taking the opposite line.
Mr. WESTWOOD: I do not want to deal frivolously with this Bill; it is far too serious a Bill for that. I want the hon. Member for West Woolwich to explain what the words mean.
Mrs. PHILIPSON: I quite agree with the last speaker, and I am glad that the statement he made came from a Member of the Labour party. I also fail entirely to understand the meaning of "general purposes." Hon. Members are anxious from the farmers' point of view or from the shopkeepers' point of view. We want to get some settlement for this Bill. The hon. Member said he was speaking for the miners. He is wisely looking ahead. Everyone with any common sense knows that other countries have different climates from ours. We have produce coming from other countries much sooner than it can be grown here by our own farmers. "General purposes" may mean anything. It may mean that goods can come by air, and we would have those goods put upon our markets before our English farmers had a chance. We want to be fair to all sides. Let us have plain talking.
Mr. F. MARTIN: I think that the Minister has given his case away. If he cannot tell us what is in his mind and what he intends, he should agree to withdraw the words. I had an experience on a Committee last week, when a Minister quite frankly said he did not think his opinion as to the legal meaning of a Clause was worth much, but that he would give it for what it was worth. That was 1697 in relation to an agreed international Measure, and I and other members of the Committee felt that in a case like that the Minister responsible should be able to justify every word and line of his Bill; at all events, that he should more or less understand the meaning of the more important phrases in the Bill. This phrase "for general purposes" is a most dangerous phrase. I do not know that it is going to provide a rich harvest for the lawyers. I do not think their object is to increase their own harvest. Strange as it may seem, I have a great respect for lawyers. This phrase may lead to endless litigation. I submit that many of the speeches to-day have been made for the general purpose of obstructing this Bill. An hon. and gallant Gentleman, whose skill in this matter I have admired all the morning, told the Committee that he had been extracted originally from the soil. For the general purpose of obstructing he has actually reflected upon the social position and the personal appearance of his colleague and friend, and my hon. Friend the Member for West Woolwich. It shows the danger of the phrase "for general purpose." When you are using this phrase for the general purpose of obstructing a Bill, you may be actually assisting at the disruption of the Tory party. For the serious reason that the Minister has confessed that he does not realise the import of these words, I think they should be withdrawn.
Mr. R. DAVIES: I will make another attempt to clear up what is apparently a difficulty in the minds of some hon. Members, although I am not sure that anything I say will convince them. I trust we shall then get a decision. The word "general" used in this Clause is naturally opposed to the word "special." "General purposes" means all purposes other than the special purposes for which an exception is made later in the Bill. It is obvious to those who have sat on Committees of this House before that this is a term used in most Bills. I move that the Committee now take a decision on the point.
Mr. SIMPSON: The Minister has explained that "general purposes" means all purposes other than the three provided for in the proviso. Why should he not accept either the words "all purposes" 1698 or omit these words altogether? We talk about "general purposes." Take the sowing of corn. Is that a general purpose? Surely it is a very special purpose. The word "general" seems to want careful definition if it is to be used at all. The Minister should recognise the general sense of the Committee and withdraw the phrase.
Sir V. WARRENDER: On a point of Order. I asked the Under-Secretary a definite question as to what was his opinion in the event of a certain contingency arising. We have had no reply to that question. In view of that fact I beg to move the adjournment of the Committee, in order that we may meet again and consider what our position is to be.
Mr. MILLS: Was not the Closure already moved?
The CHAIRMAN: I understood that the hon. Member for Grantham (Sir V. Warrender) was putting a point of Order.
Sir V. WARRENDER: I want to move the Adjournment.
The CHAIRMAN: That is not a point of Order.
Sir V. WARRENDER: Then I formally move the Adjournment.
The CHAIRMAN: The Under-Secretary has moved the Closure.
Major COLFOX: On a point of Order. I suggest that there is no precedent in the procedure of the House for a Minister or any Member to move that a decision be now taken. If the Under-Secretary had wished to comply with the ordinary procedure of the House he would have moved, "That the Question be now put." He did not do so. He moved something which is quite unknown, something about a decision being taken, for which there is no precedent. Therefore, although he tried to move the Closure he did not do so. He was out of order, and the hon. Member for Grantham ought to be allowed to move the Adjournment of the Committee.
Mr. R. DAVIES rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."
The CHAIRMAN: The Question before the Committee is "That the Question be now put."1699
Major COLFOX: What about the Question "That the Committee do now adjourn"?
Mr. SIMPSON: What is the question to be put to the Committee?
The CHAIRMAN: The question I am now putting is, "That the Question be now put."
Major COLFOX: Which Question is that?
The CHAIRMAN: That is the Amendment moved by the hon. Baronet the Member for Grantham (Sir V. Warrender).
Major COLFOX: May I respectfully ask you, Sir, why you should rule out of order the Motion to adjourn the Committee, when the Closure had not then
|Division No. 2.]||AYES.|
|Alstead, Mr.||Falconer, Mr.||Rawson, Mr. Cooper|
|Bourne, Captain||Gardner, Mr. Benjamin||Sassoon, Sir Philip|
|Bramsdon, Sir Thomas||Jones, Mr. Leif||Stephen, Mr.|
|Bullock, Captain||Kirkwood, Mr.||Stuart, Lord Colum Crichton-|
|Chapple, Dr.||Millar, Mr. Duncan||Williams, Lieut.-Colonel T. S. B.|
|Davies, Mr. Rhys||Mills, Mr.||Wilson, Mr. Robert|
|Wood, Sir Kingsley|
|Atholl, Duchess of||Martin, Mr. Frederick||Simpson, Mr. Hope|
|Colfox, Major||Philipson, Mrs.||Warrender, Sir Victor|
|Hamilton, Sir Robert||Sandeman, Mr.||Westwood, Mr.|
The CHAIRMAN: In reference to the next Amendment standing in the name of the hon. and gallant Member for West Dorset (Major Colfox), to leave out the words "during the period of summer time in each year," and to insert instead thereof the words "from the date when this Act begins to operate in any year, until the day following the third Saturday of May"— I think it would be better if he moved to omit only the words down to the word "of".
Mr. FALCONER: According to the scheme on which this Bill is drafted, the definition of the period comes later in the Bill, and it would be for the convenience of the Committee if all questions bearing upon the duration of the period were taken at the point in the Bill where they naturally arise.
Major COLFOX: The hon. Member cannot have understood the meaning of the Amendment. There are really four Amendments, all of which hang together.1700
been moved? You then got the hon. Gentleman opposite to move the Closure, which, I suggest, is entirely out of order.
The CHAIRMAN: As I understand the English language, the hon. Gentleman the Under-Secretary had already moved the Closure, though not in the hon and gallant Member's words, and therefore the Question which I now put to the Committee is, "That the Question be now put."
Question, "That the Question be now put," put, and agreed to.
Question put accordingly, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
The Committee divided: Ayes, 19; Noes, 9.
There are three further Amendments relating to this point, and the effect of them is not to stop any discussion as to the date on which summer time begins or ends. That is not touched upon in any of these Amendments. If my Amendments are incorporated in the Bill, the effect will be that for a period at the beginning of summer time, as from the date when the Act begins—which has not yet been determined—until the day following the third Saturday of May, a short period of three or four weeks, the time shall be a half-hour instead of an hour in advance of Greenwich mean time. Then as from the day following the third Saturday in May until the day following the third Saturday in August, full summer time is to take effect, and after that for the remainder of the period it is to be what may be called half summer time, that is a half-hour in advance instead of an hour. The hon. Member need not be afraid that any discussion upon my Amendment will affect the discussion of other Amendments of substance and importance.1701
The CHAIRMAN: The Question before the Committee is—
Major COLFOX: On a point of Order. You, Mr. Chairman, have not yet ruled as to whether or not this Amendment will cut out the later Amendments. May I respectfully suggest it is for you to rule upon that point?
The CHAIRMAN: I am glad the hon. and gallant Gentleman says so. I was going to reply to the hon. Member for Forfar (Mr. Falconer) if the hon. and gallant Member had allowed me to do so, but he intervened. This Amendment will not cut out any of the other Amendments at all, but I suggest it should be moved in a different form, namely, to leave out the words from "shall" to the word "of" so as to protect a subsequent Amendment by the hon. Member for Grantham (Sir V. Warrender).
Mr. FALCONER: I am as anxious as anyone to get forward with the consideration of the Bill, but I am quite unable to understand how this Amendment will fail to interfere with the duration of the period. Will it not make the Clause read as follows: "The time for general purposes in Great Britain shall, from the date when this Act begins to operate in any year until the day following the third Saturday of May, … be deemed to be the time as fixed for general purposes by this Act"?
Major COLFOX: No, the effect of my Amendment will be to make the Clause read as follows: "The time for general purposes in Great Britain shall, from the date when this Act begins to operate in any year, until the day following the third Saturday in May, be one half-hour in advance of Greenwich mean time," etc.
Mr. FALCONER: I apologise. I had not read the Amendment with the Clause aright.
Major COLFOX: Before I formally move this Amendment, I suggest that it involves a point of considerable importance, the discussion on which must, obviously, occupy some time, and, as it is nearly one o'clock, I think it would be for the convenience of the Committee that we should now adjourn. I suggest we should meet again on Monday morning, at 11 o'clock, or else on next Tuesday afternoon at 4,30, to go on with the discussion. I consider it is necessary for 1702 the dignity of the Committee that we should now adjourn, owing to the fact that the prime mover in this Bill has not said a single word for or against any of the Amendments. Although I do not wish to hurt his feelings or to say anything unparliamentary, I feel that it is little short of disgraceful, and most disrespectful towards this Committee to have adopted this attitude.
Mr. R. DAVIES: May I appeal to the Committee to meet to-morrow morning, and proceed with this Bill? In support of that view, I should tell the Committee that, in spite of all the opposition and criticism which we have heard—and I appreciate the feeling there is about the Bill—the information in the Department where I am situated is definitely to the effect that, although there is considerable opposition, the overwhelming majority of the population desire that the Bill should become law. Consequently, we ought to proceed with the discussion of the Bill.
Mr. SIMPSON: The overwhelming majority of the population do not know what the Bill is. They think it is a Bill which is merely making summer time permanent, and not that an extra fortnight is being added at each end of the period, which is the sole purpose of the Bill. As regards the time of meeting, I myself have an engagement to-morrow and many other Members also have engagements.
Duchess of ATHOLL: Could not we meet on Friday morning? A meeting to-morrow morning would conflict with the meeting of Standing Committee A, which is dealing with the Merchandise Marks Bill. The agricultural interest is deeply concerned in that Bill, and many of us desire to be there. It has been very difficult to secure a quorum on that Bill, and I do not think we should do anything which would tend to prevent discussion of that Measure.
Major COLFOX: The point is that the supporters of this Bill do not care two-pence for the future of the agricultural industry. There are no fewer than three Bills which intimately concern the interests of agriculture going through the Committee stage at the present time. There is the Merchandise Marks Bill to-morrow morning, and the Agricultural 1703 Wages Bill on Thursday morning, leaving us only Friday morning or afternoon. Therefore, I strongly hope we shall not meet to-morrow.
The CHAIRMAN: The question is, "That the Committee do meet to-morrow at Eleven o'Clock." Would it be convenient to take a show of hands, instead of a Division?
Committee signified assent.
Motion put accordingly, and negatived.
Mr. WESTWOOD: I beg to move, "That the Committee do meet this day fortnight."
Mr. R. DAVIES: I beg to move, "That the Committee do meet on Tuesday, at Eleven o'Clock." We bow, of course, to the decision of the Committee, but I would ask, at any rate, that the Committee should meet next Tuesday morning. Whatever date we fix, I am afraid we shall collide with some other Committee.1704
Major COLFOX: Any morning—for reasons I have given—except Monday or Friday, is impossible. Therefore it should be the afternoon.
Duchess of ATHOLL: I should like to support the suggestion of the Under-secretary that we meet on Tuesday.
Mr. SIMPSON: I would suggest to the Under-Secretary that he will not get his quorum on Tuesday. The Agricultural Wages Bill is fixed for then, and a number of us are on that Committee.
Mr. RAWSON: I beg to second the Amendment of the hon. Member for Midlothian and Peebles (Mr. Westwood). Many of us cannot get here on Monday.
The CHAIRMAN: The question is, "That the Committee do meet on Tuesday at Eleven o'clock."
Show of hands taken: Ayes, 13; Noes, 6.
Committee adjourned accordingly at Four Minutes after One o'Clock until Tuesday, 29th July, at Eleven o'Clock.
THE FOLLOWING MEMBERS ATTENDED THE COMMITTEE:—
Brown, Mr. James (Chairman)
Atholl, Duchess of
Beckett, Sir Gervasse
Bramsdon, Sir Thomas
Davies, Mr. Rhys
Gardner, Mr. Benjamin
Hamilton, Sir Robert
Hastings, Mr. Somerville
Jones, Mr. Leif
Martin, Mr. Frederick
Millar, Mr. Duncan
Oliver, Mr. George
Rawson, Mr. Cooper
Sassoon, Sir Philip
Simpson, Mr. Hope
Stuart, Lord Colum Crichton-
Warrender, Sir Victor
Williams, Lieut.-Colonel T. S. B.
Wilson, Mr. Robert
Wood, Sir Kingsley