From 26th FEBRUARY to 7th APRIL, 1925.895
The Committee consists of the following Members:
Cobb, Sir Cyril (Chairman)
Adamson, Mr. William (Fife, Western)
*Advocate, The Lord [Mr. William Watson]
Alexander, Sir William (Glasgow Central)
Atholl, Duchess of (Perth and Kinross, Kinross and Western)
Baird, Sir John (Ayr District of Burghs)
*Balniel, Lord (Lancaster, Lonsdale)
Barr, Mr. (Lanark, Motherwell)
Benn, Captain Wedgwood (Leith)
Berry Sir George (Scottish Universities)
*Bethell, Mr. (Eccles)
Boothby, Mr. (Aberdeen and Kincardine, Eastern)
Broun - Lindsay, Major (Glasgow, Partick)
Brown, Mr. James (Ayr and Bute, South Ayrshire)
Buchanan, Mr. (Glasgow, Gorbals)
*Campbell, Mr. (Camberwell, North-West)
Chapman, Sir Samuel (Edinburgh, South)
*Charleton, Mr. (Leeds, South)
Charteris, Brigadier-General J. (Dumfries)
Cochran, Commander A. D. (Fife, Eastern)
Collins, Sir Godfrey (Greenock)
Couper, Mr. (Glasgow, Maryhill)
*Cove, Mr. (Northampton, Wellingborough)
Cowan, Mr. (Scottish Universities)
Craik, Sir Henry (Scottish Universities)
*Crawfurd, Major (Walthamstow, West)
Crookshank, Colonel (Berwick and Haddington)
Dalkeith, Earl of (Roxburgh and Selkirk)
*Dunnico, Mr. (Durham, Consett)
Elliot, Captain (Glasgow, Kelvingrove)
Fanshawe, Commander (Stirling and Clackmannan, Western)
The Solicitor-General for Scotland, [Fleming, Mr.]
Ford, Mr. (Edinburgh, North)
Gilmour, Sir John (Glasgow, Pollok)
Graham, Mr. D. (Lanark, Hamilton)
Graham, Mr. William (Edinburgh, Central)
Hamilton, Sir Robert (Orkney and Zetland)
Hardie, Mr. (Glasgow, Springburn)
Harvey, Mr. Barclay- (Aberdeen and Kincardine, Kincardine and Western)
Henderson, Mr. T. (Glasgow, Tradeston)
Henniker-Hughan, Vice-Admiral Sir A. (Galloway)
Hope, Sir Harry (Forfar)
Horne, Sir Robert (Glasgow, Hillhead)
*Howard, Captain D. (Cumberland, Northern)
Hunter-Weston, General Sir Aylmer (Ayr and Bute, Bute and Northern)
Hutchison, Mr. Clark (Midlothian and Peebles)
Hutchison, Sir Robert (Montrose)
Johnston, Mr. (Dundee)
Kennedy, Mr. Thomas (Kircaldy District of Burghs)
Kidd, Mr. (Linlithgow)
Kirkwood, Mr. (Dumbarton District of Burghs)
Livingstone, Mr. MacKenzie (Inverness and Ross and Cromarty, Western Isles)
MacAndrew, Mr. (Ayr and Bute, Kilmarnock)
Macdonald, Sir Murdoch (Inverness, Inverness)
Macdonald, Mr. Robert (Glasgow, Cathcart)
MacIntyre, Mr. (Edinburgh, West)
Maclean, Mr. Neil (Glasgow, Govan)
Macpherson, Mr. (Inverness, Ross and Cromarty)
Macquisten, Mr. (Argyll)
MacRobert, Mr. (Renfrew, Eastern)
Maxton, Mr. (Glasgow, Bridgeton)
Mitchell, Mr. Rosslyn (Paisley)
Mitchell, Mr. Stephen (Lanark, Lanark)
*Mitchell, Sir William Lane (Wandsworth, Streatham)896 897
Murnin, Mr. (Stirling and Falkirk District, of Burghs)
Robertson, Mr. John (Lanark, Bothwell)
Rose, Mr. (Aberdeen, North)
*Russell, Mr. (Tynemouth)
Scrymgeour, Mr. (Dundee)
Shaw, Lieut.-Colonel McInnes (Renfrew, Western)
Shiels, Dr. (Edinburgh, East)
*Simms, Mr. (Down)
Sinclair, Major Sir A. (Caithness and Sutherland)
Skelton, Mr. (Perth and Kinross, Perth)
Smith, Mr. Robert (Aberdeen and Kincardine, Central)
*Snell, Mr. (Woolwich, East)
Sprot, Sir Alexander (Lanark, Northern)
*Steel, Major Strang (Kent, Ashford)
Stephen, Mr. (Glasgow, Camlachie)
Stewart, Mr. James (Glasgow, St. Rollox)
Stuart, Mr. James (Moray and Nairn)
Templeton, Mr. (Banff)
Thomson, Mr. F. C. (Aberdeen, South)
*Wallace, Captain (Hornsey)
Watson, Mr. McLean (Dunfermline District of Burghs)
Weir, Mr. (Stirling and Clackmannan,. Clackmannan and Kinross)
Welsh, Mr. (Lanark, Coatbridge)
Westwood, Mr. (Midlothian and Peebles, Peebles and Southern)
Wheatley, Mr. (Glasgow, Shettleston)
Wright, Mr. (Lanark, Rutherglen)
* Added in respect of the Church of Scotland (Property and Endowments) Bill.
MR. COLOMB, Committee Clerks.
MR. EDENBOROUGH, Committee Clerks.898 899 STANDING COMMITTEE ON SCOTTISH BILLS. Thursday, 26th February, 1925.
[Sir CYRIL COBB in the Chair.]
Mr. DUNCAN GRAHAM:! beg to move, "That the Committee do now adjourn." I want to move, at the beginning of this sitting, that the Committee adjourn until a meeting is summoned, and held, of the Chairmen's Panel for the purpose of making a selection of a new Chairman. I want it to be clearly understood by you, Sir, that I am not moving the Adjournment of the Committee because of any personal dislike towards yourself. The personal matter does not arise, and, in other circumstances, for certainty, speaking as a Scottish Member, and, I believe, for the Scottish Members as a whole, we would not have taken any exception to your appointment, but, as the Government are aware, the subject that is to be discusesd by this Committee to-day is a matter in which there is very considerable difference of opinion, not merely in the theological sense, but in the historical sense, and when the Bill was before the House for Second Reading a very strong protest was made by at least a section of the Scottish representatives against the Bill being considered by this Committee. We were divided on that at the time, and we accepted the position, being, as I hope we all are, constitutionalists in the real and true sense. We, naturally, expected, however, that when the Bill came to be considered by the Standing Committee on Scottish Bills, at least no selection would be made of a Chairman that would be, with all respect to you Sir, held as somewhat in the 900 nature of an insult to the feelings of the Scottish people on this particular question. I am not going to enter into the historical aspects of the matter, or raise the question of the Treaty of Union now. That does not arise here, but I do want to put to you that this is properly a Scottish Committee dealing with a purely Scottish question, a matter in which it is absolutely impossible for an Englishman to act in the capacity of arbiter, as certainly the duty of the Chairman must necessarily be on a subject such as this. Consequently, I think the proper course for the Committee to take this morning is to adjourn, so that you may have an opportunity of reporting the matter to the Chairmen's Panel, and get yourself relieved from what, I believe, is a very difficult position. The Government, I think, have made a great mistake in this matter, in that they ought to have drawn the attention of the Chairmen's Panel to the fact that it would be better to appoint somebody who, at least, could have acted with some show of knowledge with respect to the subject that is being discussed. It so happens that there are two Scotsmen on the Panel, and at least one of those two hon. Members could have been chosen. I do not wish to introduce anything of a captious or disagreeable character, but I am bound to say, taking everything into consideration—the fact that this Committee has been set up, and that the Government have boasted about being willing to set it up, largely because they have a majority—and, I believe, speaking the view of a large number of the Scottish Members, that this looks as if it were a deliberate affront to the feelings of the Scottish Members. I hope I have said nothing that would cause you, Sir, to feel in any way uncomfortable, or more uncomfortable than, naturally, a man does who finds himself in the position in which you happen to be this morning. I can assure you that I am not moving this motion with any feeling of personal dislike, and I am sure none of my Friends have any feelings of personal dislike towards yourself, but we think this is a matter of principle, that if there is to be fair and reasonable discussion of the very many knotty questions that will be bound to arise in the consideration of this Bill, at least it would be in a more equitable atmosphere than if it were taken with 901 the feeling that we have had thrust upon us, to act as Chairman, one who, we consider, no matter what other qualifications he may happen to possess, cannot possibly understand, as we believe, the Scottish point of view on this particular subject. In view of the attitude we were bound to adopt when the Bill was before the House, I have no choice but to ask that the Committee be adjourned until an opportunity is given to the Chairmen's Panel to consider the whole matter.
The SECRETARY for SCOTLAND (Sir John Gilmour): I only rise at this point, because I am sure that this is a matter upon which, if there is to be a difference of opinion, it ought to be settled at once. No good purpose, I am sure, will be served by entering into a lengthy or a wrangling discussion on a point of this kind. May I say, at the outset, that I am satisfied that there was no intention, certainly on the part of the Government, to adopt any tactics which might appear in any measure to take undue advantage of any opposition. Indeed, I am satisfied that that is not the case, and, when one comes to consider the circumstances in which we find the Chairman of the Standing Committee on Scottish Bills not actually being a Scotsman, I am quite satisfied also that that is no new matter, and that there are many precedents for this Committee being presided over by a Chairman from the Panel other than a Scotsman. May I add, if indeed any weight is to be placed on the argument of the hon. Member that there is a strong feeling among Scotsmen upon this matter, that surely it is, therefore, all the more desirable that all Scottish Members should be free to take a part in the discussion? As I understand the duties of a Chairman, it is on points of Order, and to see that there may be the fullest and most extensive discussion within those points of Order, and I cannot see why this point should have been raised.
The CHAIRMAN: I am much obliged to the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. D. Graham) for raising the question in the way that he did. We on the Chairmen's Panel naturally anticipated that this might occur. The question was, therefore, before the Chairmen's Panel at the time when the Chairman was chosen for this Committee, and I may say at 902 once that there is no kind of doubt that, as has already been said, there is no precedent, or rule, or Regulation for it being necessary to have a Scotsman as the Chairman of this Committee. It is, therefore, entirely within the discretion of the Chairmen's Panel, under the authority of the House, to appoint such Chairman as they choose. At the Chairmen's Panel on that particular occasion, I was asked to take the Chair at this Committee, with the knowledge before me of what might happen to-day. I shall accept the Motion for Adjournment, which I shall put now, so that the matter can be here and now settled. I have discovered that I have the discretion to do that.
Mr. JOHNSTON: On a point of Order.
The CHAIRMAN: I shall now put the Motion for Adjournment. The Question is, "That the Committee do now adjourn."
Mr. JOHNSTON: On a point of Order. May I submit that there are reasons which can be adduced in favour of the Motion which has been moved, which are not, perhaps, within the knowledge of the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. D. Graham), and which have not been stated this morning. The Motion has not been duly seconded, and I submit that we are entitled to second the Motion.
The CHAIRMAN: There is no reason for the Motion to be seconded. The hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. D. Graham) has given absolutely sufficient reasons, in my estimation, why the Motion should be moved, and, therefore, I am going to put it.
Mr. HARDIE: I object to your putting the Motion to the vote before taking the mind of the Committee. If you have had experience as Chairman of meetings you must be aware that you cannot do this. [HON. MEMBERS: "Order!"] Order yourself. You from Ayr Burghs had better shut up, you galoot. The Chairman is not going to get the feeling of this Committee by trying to rush a vote upon those who do not understand the position.
The CHAIRMAN: This is a perfectly clear issue. No issue could be clearer. [Interruption.]903
Mr. MACLEAN: On a point of Order.
The CHAIRMAN: I have not finished what I was saying on the other hon. Member's point of Order.
Mr. KIRKWOOD: We did the same last year. I raised the matter here last year, and we turned out a Labour man, because he was an Englishman. It is not because you are a Tory, or anything of that kind.
The CHAIRMAN: That is not a point of Order.
Mr. KIRKWOOD: We turned out a Labour man, and we will turn you out. [HON. MEMBERS: "Order!"]
The CHAIRMAN: The question is: "That the Committee do now adjourn."
Mr. SCRYMGEOUR: Might I suggest that it is somewhat injudicious to deal with the proposition in the way you are doing. Ought we not to have some expression of opinion? Is it not mistaken policy you are pursuing?
The CHAIRMAN: The issue is so plain that there is no occasion for any further argument. The question is simply whether there should or should not be a Scotsman as Chairman of this Committee. I am not a Scotsman. Therefore, the issue is perfectly plain. The question is. "That the Committee do now adjourn."
Mr. MACLEAN: On a point of Order!
The CHAIRMAN: There is no point of Order.
Mr. MACLEAN: You have not heard me.
Mr. KIRKWOOD: There is a point of Order!
Mr. MACLEAN: On a point of Order. May I point out to you that you have ruled me out already on the ground that the matter had been made plain on the previous point of Order raised by the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. D. Graham). I take it, therefore, you have given your ruling on the previous point of Order, and that you can now accept another point of Order.
The CHAIRMAN: There is no other point of Order of which I can take notice. The issue is perfectly plain.
Mr. MACLEAN: Pardon me; it—904
The CHAIRMAN: Will you tell me the Standing Order under which you raise your point of Order?
Mr. MACLEAN: The Speaker of the House of Commons never questions the Standing Order on which a Member raises a point of Order. He always hears the point of Order. This is a case which follows upon a point of Order raised by the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. D. Graham). I think, Sir, you are introducing into this Committee a precedent that has never been introduced into the House.
The CHAIRMAN: I myself doubt whether any point of Order arises.
Mr. MACLEAN: I think it does.
The CHAIRMAN: What I am trying to do is to get a decision upon a preliminary point, which is not a point of Order on this Bill at all; it is a preliminary point as to whether the Committee should now adjourn on the ground put forward by the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. D. Graham.)
Mr. MACLEAN: And the Motion put forward by the hon. Member was a particularly precise and explicit Motion. You stated that you were going to put it immediately. You have not given this Committee, or the Members of this Committee who are of the same mind as the hon. Member for Hamilton, the opportunity of expressing their point of view.
The CHAIRMAN: Because the hon. Member for Hamilton expressed the whole matter.
Mr. HARDIE: How do you know?
Mr. JOHNSTON: No, he did not.
The CHAIRMAN: It is a very simple issue. [Interruption.]
Mr. MACLEAN: That, Sir, is an indication that you do not understand the Scottish point of view.
The CHAIRMAN: I consider that the hon. Member for Hamilton has stated this point of view quite enough for the Question to be put; not in the opinion of the hon. Member, perhaps, but in the opinion of other hon. Members sitting on this Committee.905
Mr. MACLEAN: There might be other reasons than those stated by the hon. Member for Hamilton?
The CHAIRMAN: There might be a hundred other reasons—
Mr. MACLEAN: Exactly! There are a hundred other reasons—[Interruption.]
The CHAIRMAN: I must have order, please.
Mr. MACLEAN: I am not going to sit down. I am not going to accept this dictatorial attitude from any Chairman of Committees.
The CHAIRMAN: The question is, "That the Committee do now adjourn."
Mr. MACLEAN: On a point of Order.
The CHAIRMAN: No point of Order arises.
Mr. MACLEAN: I submit that there is a point of Order.
The CHAIRMAN: You must resume your seat.
Mr. MACLEAN: Are you prepared to take a point of Order?
The CHAIRMAN: No.
Mr. MACLEAN: What step are you going to take? I refuse to resume my seat until you have taken this point of Order. Are you going on with this Bill before this point of Order is settled?
The CHAIRMAN: Will the hon. Member resume his seat?
Mr. MACLEAN: I refuse absolutely to resume my seat.
The CHAIRMAN: Then the hon. Member had better leave the room.
Mr. MACLEAN: I shall not leave the room.
The CHAIRMAN: Lock the doors.
Mr. MACLEAN: Very well. I am not going to allow this to go further until I have the point of Order stated, and until this matter is properly thrashed out here. I for one absolutely decline to accept your ruling in this matter. There is going to be trouble on this Committee if this is the attitude which is going to be adopted by you.906
Mr. HARDIE: You are proving that you are unfitted by your prejudices to deal fairly with this matter.
Mr. MACLEAN: Are you going to take this point of Order?
The CHAIRMAN: No, I cannot take any further point of Order.
Mr. MACLEAN: I am going to state the point of Order, with a lot of other things, and you can take whatever steps you like to put me out of the room, or do whatever you like. Are you going to take my point of Order?
The CHAIRMAN: You have not got a point of Order.
Mr. MACLEAN: How do you know?
The CHAIRMAN: There cannot be a point of Order.
Mr. MACLEAN: I want to tell it to you, but you will not allow me the opportunity.
The CHAIRMAN: Will you tell me your point of Order without all this absurd talk.
Mr. MACLEAN: You will not allow me. I am going to have you withdraw that word "absurd." You yourself refused to allow me to state my point of Order. You cannot decide upon the matter unless I state it.
The CHAIRMAN: Why do you not make your point of Order without all this preamble?
Mr. MACLEAN: You refused to allow me
The CHAIRMAN: What is your point of Order?
Mr. HARDIE: You do not know how to take the Chair.
Mr. MACLEAN: You agree then to take my point of Order?
The CHAIRMAN: I will not take the Division now if you have a point of Order that you really want to raise, but it must be a substantial point of Order.
Mr. MACLEAN: As a Scotsman, I think it is substantial enough, but an Englishman may not think so.
The CHAIRMAN: Then state your point of order.907
Mr. MACLEAN: I am going to ask you to consider whether you can give any precedent to the Committee where a Motion for the Adjournment, upon a very substantial point such has been raised here this morning, has been immediately put to the vote without Members desirous of putting their point of view being able to have any further discussion? I am asking you, as Chairman, for a precedent where that has taken place?
The CHAIRMAN: Frequently that has been done—[HON. MEMBERS: "Where, and when?"] Not on this particular preliminary point, because this particular preliminary point is one which affects the Standing Committee on Scottish Bills only. It has never yet been taken, and that only shows that I am right in my decision. It would have been taken before were there any substance in the objection raised to an Englishman taking the Chair of this Committee. It has never been raised before, because there has been no cause to raise it. The question, therefore, of the Adjournment has never been raised.
Mr. MACLEAN: Is it not the case that last year, or the year before last, an English Member who was appointed by the Chairmen's Panel to sit as Chairman of the Scottish Committee was taken off the panel because the Scottish Members objected?
The CHAIRMAN: That is not your point of Order; that is another point of Order.
Mr. MACLEAN: Yes, it is. My point of Order is that that precedent has a direct bearing upon your position in the Chair. I am quite certain—
The CHAIRMAN: That is the point of Order of the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. D. Graham).
Mr. MACLEAN: He made no point of Order. He moved a Motion.
The CHAIRMAN: The point of Order was that an Englishman should not sit as Chairman of this Committee. Your point of Order is whether a Motion for the Adjournment has ever been moved on a similar occasion to this. I say it never has.
Mr. MACLEAN: No; my point of Order was whether there was any precedent for 908 a Motion for the Adjournment being put directly to the vote without any statement having been called from hon. Members who were willing to make a statement, and desirous of making it. I leave out of account the challenge to the Chairman on this matter of the Motion for the Adjournment. I ask you to quote a precedent where the Motion has been moved and immediately put to the vote while a Member or other Members are anxious to speak upon it?
The CHAIRMAN: Yes, on the Deceased Wife's Sister's Bill, the Motion for the Adjournment was accepted.
Mr. MACLEAN: Without discussion?
The CHAIRMAN: Yes.
Mr. MACLEAN: The circumstances are not parallel. Members were not upon their feet wanting to discuss it. That is a point you have to bear in mind.
Mr. D. GRAHAM: But you did not take the vote immediately I had finished. You allowed the Secretary for Scotland to make a statement. Therefore, a situation arose that is bound to meet with opposition from hon. Members of this Committee. I submit to you, Sir, that the business would be expedited a great deal if you allowed a reasonable amount of discussion in this matter.
The CHAIRMAN: I am quite willing to take this matter to the Chairmen's Panel this afternoon when the Panel sits. The matter can be reconsidered there if that be any satisfaction to hon. Members.
Mr. GRAHAM: If you allowed some little discussion, it would meet with the approval of all of us.
The CHAIRMAN: No. I am quite ready to report what has happened here to the Panel this afternoon. I should in any case report what has happened.
Mr. SCRYMGEOUR: I appreciate what you say and the concession that you have made; but would it not be well before adjourning to have a little discussion to amplify the matter, so as to bring it forward fully?
The CHAIRMAN: No, I cannot allow that, because I do not consider—
Mr. KIRKWOOD: Well, we will adjourn.909
The CHAIRMAN: No, we will take a Division.
Mr. KIRKWOOD: We want to hear other members of the Committee.
The CHAIRMAN: I cannot allow the Committee to adjourn upon this Motion without taking a vote. The Committee must decide.
Mr. JOHNSTON: Are you aware that on the Order Paper of the House this morning there is a Motion dealing with this matter signed by twenty Scottish Members who are present now, and that others have signified their agreement with that Motion?— "That this House regrets the action of the Chairmen's Panel in selecting one of their number who is not representative of a Scottish constituency to act as Chairman of the Scottish Standing Committee set up for the purpose of considering the Scottish Church (Property and Endowments) Bill."—[Mr. Duncan Graham.] Are you aware further that there are another dozen facts which the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. D. Graham) did not at all mention? The hon. Member for Hamilton did not intend to do more than open the discussion. Do you think, Sir, that under the circumstances it will conduce to the harmonious discussion of the details of this Bill to have this dragooning right at the start upon a matter which is considered a sore point by at least twenty Scottish Members, who are prepared to put on the Order Paper a notice of Motion and ask for an early date in the House to discuss it?
The CHAIRMAN: I was not aware of that notice of Motion.
Mr. JOHNSTON: It is a fact.
The CHAIRMAN: This matter, as I have said, will come up before the Chairmen's Panel at 4.15 this afternoon. The whole question can then be put before the Panel.
Mr. JAMES BROWN: It is not a question of any statement. I do not see any good purpose that will be served this afternoon by bringing the matter up before the Panel. There are only two Scottish Members on the Chairmen's Panel, the Member for Orkney and Shetland (Sir R. Hamilton) and myself. I certainly am not going into the Chair. I want to be here to discuss this matter, and I believe the hon. Member whom I 910 have mentioned is in the same position, so that I do not see that any purpose can be served in the way suggested.
The CHAIRMAN: All I said was that I would report to the Chairmen's Panel. I do not think that Panel will reconsider its decision in the matter. The Panel considers it has a right, which has been delegated to it by the House, to appoint the Chairman for each of these Committees. Therefore, I do not think I can do more than what I said just now, and report the whole matter to the Panel, which I undertake to do.
Mr. MACLEAN: In that case, seeing that you have said you are going to report the matter which has arisen this morning to the Chairmen's Panel, do you not think it would be advisable to take the views of the other Members of this Committee?
The CHAIRMAN: No, there is nothing more to be said upon it.
Mr. MACLEAN: How do you know that there is nothing more to be said?
The CHAIRMAN: You cannot put anything more, because the issue is a plain one—a Scotsman or an Englishman, or a non-Scotsman.
Mr. MACLEAN: There is no use in your brushing the matter aside with a wave of your hand like that. You are not going to wipe Scotland out in that way. A number of Englishmen tried to do that in the past, and a number of them are still remaining in Scotland unable to leave. One of the objections I have to my forefathers is that they did not work half an hour's overtime, and keep the rest there. I suggest that if you are going to report this matter to the Chairmen's Panel, and the Chairmen's Panel is going to consider the matter—there is no use in your shaking your head—
The CHAIRMAN: It is my duty to report to the Committee.
Mr. MACLEAN: And it is the duty of the Panel to consider your report. How can they consider a report that is put before them by you merely as a question of an Englishman or a Scotsman as Chairman of the Committee? There are reasons which we can adduce why you should not be in the Chair. I submit that 911 it is absolutely impossible for you to report the matter in its thoroughness to the Chairmen's Panel, so that due consideration of all the circumstances can be given to it, unless you are prepared to allow a discussion and hear arguments as to why certain members of the Standing Committee on Scottish Bills do not wish you to be Chairman. I submit that you should allow the discussion on the Motion for the Adjournment to continue.
Sir MURDOCH MACDONALD: Would it meet the situation if you took a Division on the case put by the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. D. Graham)? If anybody had a case to put which was different from that already put, subsequent discussion could take place on the new suggestions?
Mr. D. GRAHAM: Have you the power as Chairman to adjourn this Committee yourself without taking a Division?
The CHAIRMAN: No.
Mr. GRAHAM: You have told the Committee that you propose to report what has occurred this forenoon, and you expect, notwithstanding what may be said, that the Panel will consider your report, and they probably will come to some decision on the matter. We have no right to anticipate what that decision is going to be. I would suggest in all reasonableness that this Committee should adjourn until you have put the matter before the Panel, and the report from the Panel can be given to the Committee. I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman who is in charge of the Bill that that compromise might be accepted. Then, when we do begin the consideration of the Bill itself, we will consider it in a much more favourable — a much more pleasant atmosphere.
The CHAIRMAN: I have no power to adjourn the Committee in that way, and, moreover, I must take the opinion of the Committee on the adjournment, in order that I may have the full facts to lay before the Chairmen's Panel.
The LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. William Watson): It might clear up matters a little if we knew whether the hon. Members who are supporting this Motion, or who have spoken for it, are prepared 912 to accept the decision of the Chairmen's Panel, if there be a reference to it, because otherwise we are merely wasting time. It would affect the vote, I think, of a good many Members in the division which is now to take place, if necessary. As to what the hon. Member who has just spoken has said about compromise, we all want to get to work on the Bill as soon as possible.
Mr. JOHNSTON: I speak for the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. D. Graham) and for many others who are associated with this protest, and I can answer the question put by the Lord Advocate. We will accept the decision of the Chairmen's Panel, subject to this, that the discussion which will take place, we hope, on the Floor of the House of Commons will not thereby be prejudiced. We intend to go on with this protest on the Floor of the House of Commons, but we will accept for the purposes of this Committee the decision of the Panel.
The LORD ADVOCATE: I have not seen the terms of that Motion.
Mr. SCRYMGEOUR: I consider that if there is to be consideration by the Panel, there should be not merely proof of the protesting opinion of the meeting to-day, but an extended consideration of the matter—
The CHAIRMAN: There are two Scotsmen on the Panel, and they will represent the Scottish view. I quite agree with what has been said by the Lord Advocate and what has been said by the hon. Member for Hamilton (Mr. D. Graham). This will not prejudice the Motion in the House. The House must ultimately decide this matter. The Chairmen's Panel gets its authority from the House, and from the House only, and the House must eventually decide.
Mr. HARDIE: You say there are two Scotsmen on the Panel.
The CHAIRMAN: I understood there were.
Mr. HARDIE: They do not know the opinion of this meeting, and neither you nor they can take the opinion of this meeting until you give a right to each Member to express his views.
The CHAIRMAN: The opinion will be expressed by the vote.913
Mr. HARDIE: You cannot express an opinion by a vote. You only express a decision by a vote, not an opinion.
The CHAIRMAN: Is the Committee willing now to go to a vote? [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] The question is, "That the Committee do now adjourn."
Mr. MACLEAN: May I put this to you, Sir?
The CHAIRMAN: We must take the vote. [Interruption.] Is it a short question?
Mr. MACLEAN: It is a short question. You state that you are going to report to the Chairmen's Panel, and we understand that your report will be considered. Will you be prepared to ask the Chairmen's Panel to accept as a delegation before them this afternoon two representatives who are associated with the protest that is down upon the Order Paper, and thereby hear the point of view that has been expressed.
The CHAIRMAN: I do not think there is any precedent for that at all, at least, so far as I know.
Mr. MACLEAN: If the Panel are not prepared to accept the deputation coming from those who are anxious to have their views expressed, then I submit that this—
The CHAIRMAN: I could put that view to them, but it is for the Chairmen's Panel to say whether they would accept the deputation. It is not for me to say that they would, but I could put the point of view to them as part of what I shall report.
Mr. MACLEAN: That is what I am asking.
Mr. BARR: I wish to express my regret, if the vote goes forward now, that we have not had an opportunity of stating in one or two short sentences—it need not have taken more—the one or two additional words that would have put in a reasonable light before this Committee, and before the people of Scotland, the circumstances and considerations which lead us to desire that there should be a Scotsman presiding.
The LORD ADVOCATE: I am very anxious that we should get to this Bill, 914 and get to it in a friendly attitude, which will allow us to consider it on its merits. I want to make quite clear what my proposal was, particularly with reference to what the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. Johnston) suggested. My suggestion was, at least I so intended it to mean, that we should adjourn by agreement now, that the matter should be reported by the Chairman to the Chairmen's Panel, that the decision of the Chairmen's Panel should be reported and accepted when we meet again; and that, of course, would not in any way either prejudice or be prejudiced by the Motion which stands on the Order Paper. That is my reason for getting up to make fully clear what I meant. If that were accepted by everybody, we should know the decision when we next met, and should then be able to get straight to the Bill, without further discussion. My suggestion is that it should be an agreed adjournment, and done now.
Mr. MACLEAN: May I say that I think we would all be quite agreeable to meet the Lord Advocate in that matter if he would include in that not merely the report by you, Mr. Chairman, but also that you should ask the Chairmen's Panel if they are prepared to receive a deputation.
The LORD ADVOCATE: That may well be left to the Chairman of the Chairmen's Panel.
Mr. MACLEAN: If the Chairman report it.
The CHAIRMAN: I shall certainly report as part of my report that that was desired.
Sir W. LANE MITCHELL: It must not be taken that the rest of us agree to adjourn because there is an Englishman in the Chair.
The LORD ADVOCATE: Of course not.
Sir W. LANE MITCHELL: The point is that Members have challenged the appointment by the Chairmen's Panel of an Englishman to this Chair, and if you agree to the Adjournment you are, in effect, agreeing with the protest that has been made. [Interruption.] I want, as a Member of the Committee, to have it shown definitely, here and now, whether 915 we are going to have trouble over this Bill. [Interruption.] The information I have is that none of the Scotsmen on the Chairmen's Panel would take the job. Bear that in mind. It is not an agreeable job for any man. He is taking his life in his hand—so much so, that neither of the two Scotsmen on the Panel would take it. You get a volunteer to come into a den like this, and you are throwing him to the wolves right away. That is what it means. It must not be taken that the sense of this Committee is that we cannot get justice from the Chair if there is an Englishman in it, and I do not agree to a voluntary Adjournment. I should press the Adjournment to a Division, because it prejudices the case, making it appear that the Gentlemen who have raised the point are right. Let us have a Division, and finish it.
Mr. D. GRAHAM: I am pleased that the Lord Advocate has taken the view that he indicated, and has made it perfectly clear to the Members of the Committee what was really meant by his suggestion. I hope the Committee as a whole will accept that suggestion. The statement made by the hon. Gentleman who spoke last is one of the very things that creates trouble, because he makes a statement which we know is unfounded. It is not accurate to say that the Chairmen's Panel were agreed. We happen to know some other things in connection with this matter, and there is no use in our attempting to go on in the present atmosphere when opinions so contrary are held and expressed. I think the statement made by the Lord Advocate is one that all of us can accept. I, at least, can accept it for those who are acting with me, and I hope the Committee as a whole will agree to it.
Mr. MACQUISTEN: In a perplexing question like this, when the controversy is so keen, cannot we take an example from the Irish Boundary Commission? I would not accept the Lord Advocate's suggestion for a moment. So let us go to a Division, and have done with it.
Sir ROBERT HORNE: I am not going to say anything on the merits of this question, because that is out of discussion, but I wish to say a single word upon the Lord Advocate's proposal. I 916 am quite in favour of that proposal, provided that this reference to the Chairmen's Panel does not go accompanied by an inference that, because a protest has been made, the majority of the Committee are of that view. I am perfectly certain the majority is the other way.
Mr. BARR: I do not wish to go further or to state our case, but again to emphasise that we have not had an opportunity of stating counter opinions which would rebut what the hon. Member for Argyll (Mr. Macquisten) brought forward just now.
Mr. MACLEAN: I think the Lord Advocate has made a suggestion which is acceptable to many hon. Members of the Committee. May I suggest, in order to relieve the minds of some hon. Members here, that no such idea as that which has been imputed about reflecting on the Chairman is in the minds of anyone. If the Lord Advocate moves the Adjournment on the line suggested, and it is accepted, it will remove the inference that any odium was being thrown upon the present Chairman.
Sir GODFREY COLLINS: I think the suggestion made by the Lord Advocate is a very happy one. Although I share some of the views expressed with regard to the appointment of the Chairman of this Committee, I do not think the course suggested is any reflection on the present Chairman. I hope some hon. Member will be nominated who will be acceptable to all sides.
Sir R. HORNE: If that is to be the interpretation of the suggestion of the Lord Advocate, then I shall certainly withdraw my support.
The LORD ADVOCATE: That was not my suggestion at all. My proposal made it quite clear, but I understand now that the point raised by the other side is one of competency. My suggestion leaves it absolutely open to the Chairmen's Panel. Doubtless, our Chairman will report what has taken place, but I never suggested that there should be any change from the present Chairman.
Mr. D. GRAHAM: This point was raised by the hon. Member for Govan (Mr. Maclean), and the Chairman stated 917 that there was no precedent for anyone meeting the Chairmen's Panel to present the reasons which have been put forward, make clear the fact that it is not to a personal question at all, and that there is no reflection being cast upon the present Chairman. You, Mr. Chairman, stated that you were quite willing to leave the matter to the Chairmen's Panel, and you stated that if they allowed representations to be made to them, you would have no objection. That view might be taken by the Committee, and we might choose someone who would represent that view. I am quite willing to withdraw my Motion on the lines suggested by the hon. Member for Govan, provided that the Lord Advocate is prepared to move his Motion in substitution.
The CHAIRMAN: I cannot possibly do more than represent to the Chairmen's Panel the desire expressed that there should be two representatives from the Scottish Members to present their views, but it must rest entirely with the Chairmen's Panel whether they take any action or not.
Sir HENRY CRAIK: Who are to be the representatives of the Committee to go before the Chairmen's Panel? I presume they should represent the majority of this Committee. I am not prepared, as a member of this Committee, to be represented by some of those who have already expressed their views. If there are any representations to be made, they should be decided by the majority of this Committee, and not by a minority. I saw this danger the moment the Lord Advocate made his suggestion, which virtually means that this Committee asks for the adjournment for reasons arising out of the selection of the Chairman. If the Committee be willing to adjourn upon that ground, then we indicate quite clearly that we are dissatisfied with the choice of the Chairmen's Panel. That is not the view, I am convinced, of the majority of this Committee, and, therefore, I shall oppose the proposal of the Lord Advocate.
Mr. BARR: If there be a majority opposed to the view we have stated, the Committee is in no way committed to our 918 opinion. We are not desirous of committing the whole Committee to our view, but, in the awkward circumstances which have arisen, we consider it wise that there should be such an adjournment as I think the Lord Advocate has quite generously suggested. I would go further in following that to its logical conclusion. Supposing that two members of this Committee were to appear before the Chairmen's Panel, they would not be taken as representing the whole Committee, but as representing those who have raised this question, and have a certain point of view to state before the Chairmen's Panel. To ease the situation, I suggest that we should accept the suggestion of the Lord Advocate.
Mr. MACQUISTEN: I suggest that we get on with the business.
Mr. KIDD: Do I understand that the question which is to be put is whether there is any rule against an Englishman presiding over a Scottish Committee?
The LORD ADVOCATE: Yes.
Mr. KIDD: We want to make it quite clear that there is no reflection upon the present Chairman.
Sir W. LANE MITCHELL: If the Panel sends back to this Committee the present Chairman, what is to be the position?
Mr. D. GRAHAM: If the Panel decides to appoint the present Chairman again, then we accept that position.
Mr. CAMPBELL: Quite a number of hon. Members seem to be against the Motion of the Lord Advocate.
The LORD ADVOCATE: I have made no Motion.
Mr. CAMPBELL: Owing to the fact that a Scottish mist has arisen this morning, I think it would be advisable to adjourn until there is a little more sunshine.
Question, "That the Committee do now adjourn," put, and agreed to.
Committee adjourned accordingly at Five Minutes before Twelve o'Clock until Tuesday, 3rd March, at Eleven o'Clock.919
THE FOLLOWING MEMBERS ATTENDED THE COMMITTEE:—
Cobb, Sir Cyril, Chairman.
Adamson, Mr. William
Advocate, The Lord
Baird, Sir John
Berry, Sir George
Brown, Mr. James
Collins, Sir Godfrey
Couper, Mr. J. B.
Craik, Sir Henry
Dalkeith, Earl of
Gilmour, Sir John
Graham, Mr. Duncan
Harvey, Mr. Charles Barclay-
Henderson, Mr. Thomas
Henniker-Hughan, Vice-Admiral Sir A.
Hope, Sir Harry
Horne, Sir Robert
Hunter-Weston, Lieut.-General Sir A.
Hutchison, Mr. Clark
Kennedy, Mr. Thomas
Livingstone, Mr. MacKenzie
Macdonald, Sir Murdoch
Maclean, Mr. Neil
Mitchell, Mr. Rosslyn
Mitchell, Mr. Stephen
Mitchell, Sir William Lane
Robertson, Mr. John
Smith, Mr. R. W.
Solicitor-General for Scotland, The
Sprot, Sir Alexander
Stewart, Mr. James
Thomson, Mr. Frederick
Watson, Mr. Maclean