Volume 10 (1929) / Pages 577 - 578
The PRIME MINISTER: I beg to move "That the House at its rising this day do adjourn until Tuesday next."
Question put and agreed to.
Mr. BEATTIE: What about the private Member's Motion that is on the Paper?
Mr. SPEAKER: That will come up on Tuesday.
Mr. BEATTIE: It will come up automatically on Tuesday. We are not binding ourselves to anything to-day. If we find after consultation that we have the right to deal with administration on the Agreement we may go through that course.
Mr. SPEAKER: The point is that the Motion is carried, and the House must adjourn until Tuesday.
ORDERS OF THE DAY. House of Commons (Method of Voting and Redistribution of Seats) Bill.
Order read for resuming adjourned debate on Amendment to Question (6th March), "That the Bill be now read a Second time."â??(The Prime Minister).
Which Amendment was, to leave out the word "now", and at the end of the Question to add the words, "upon this day six months."â??(Mr. Devlin). .
Question again proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the question."
Mr. BEATTIE: In resuming this debate on P.R. I think the time of the House will be well spent in considering the case put forward by the Prime Minister in the House this week and also the case placed before the House in 1927. I would like before proceeding to ask where the demand for the abolition of P.R. came from? What organization or organizations made a demand to the Government for the abolition of P.R.? I have been a constant reader of the Press, and I have never yet found any such demand coming from any democratic body. Therefore, I say that the Government in the absence of that demand had no right to pursue a different course from public opinion.
We have been referred to the 1920 Act which sets out that after a period of three years the Northern Government have the right to change the system of P.R., but there are two words following which should be considered. I am not a lawyer, and therefore cannot follow the exact meaning of the words. Any layman, however, would interpret those words as meaning that if a change in the system took place the minority have the right to say it is in violation of the 1920 Act. I leave that point to my hon. Friends who are legal men. We are also told that this change of system is likely to assist the poor man, that it will take away the power of the caucuses, and that it is going to give more independence. Let us see how the change will affect the working candidate. As my colleague (Mr. Wm. McMullen) said yesterdayâ??I am not ashamed to say itâ??when I headed the poll at the last election under P.R. in East Belfast I had not £1 let alone £150. We got the £150, we contested the election, we won that election by an overwhelming majority, and the working-class representative was able to take his seat against the wealthy man who spent thousands in that election under P.R. But let us take the same contest under a straight vote. Let the Chief Whip and myself fight on a straight vote in East Belfast.
Mr. GORDON: He would beat you.
Mr. BEATTIE: His money would beat me.
Mr. GORDON: No, his personal popularity.
Mr. BEATTIE: I am not taking the personal point of view. The value of the gold possessed by the Unionist candidate would defeat the value of the gold possessed by the Labour candidate.
Captain DIXON: I protest against this insult to the working men and women of East Belfast. They cannot be bought by goldâ??any of them.
Mr. BEATTIE: I will prove that just in a moment. I am going to say quite candidly that there was somewhere between £7,000 and £8,000 spent at the last election under Proportional Representation to beat me. My election cost £152. I am quite satisfied that your £8,000 did