The Week in Parliament S IR DOUGLAS HOGG introduced the Trade
Unions Bill on Monday with a speech which cannot by any stretch of the imagination be described as a good one. It was delivered with slow and heavy emphasis, and it lasted for well over two hours. As sentence after sentence moved ponderously towards the inevitable " cliché," a tremendous weariness swept over the House. For a moment the squalid cat-calls which continued uninterruptedly on the Labour benches attracted atten- tion. Then came a great shuffling, and the stealthy tramp of feet. Unionist members of the present Parlia- ment have many admirable qualities, but they have from the outset exhibited a steadfast determination not to be bored. Regarding it as axiomatic that they will bore each other, they have consistently maintained chamber in a half-empty condition except when the Prime Minister or Mr. Churchill has been " up." On Monday, however, it was felt that a special effort had to be made. This Bill is of vital importance, and upon it the fortunes of Conservatism at the next election must very largely hinge. Therefore, with a grim and admirable determination the Unionists fought and conquered boredom, and many stayed out to the end.
The difficulties which confronted the Attorney-General ought not to be minimized. The task with which he has been entrusted, in itself no mean one, was not rendered easier by the fatuous interjections of the Labour Party.
The interruptions of the " intellectuals," such as Mr. Beckett, who kept up a running fire of comment from a semi-concealed position and with his hand over his mouth, were even more pitiable than those of the bucolic section of the Party. At one moment the proceedings were temporarily suspended to admit of the departure of Mr. Jack Jones, who paused at intervals in his otherwise stately progress towards the exit, once again, to inform the Unionists that they were " dirty dogs." Through this sort of confusion, and in an atmosphere reminiscent of Whitechapel on a Saturday night, Sir Douglas Hogg sought to tread his way.
The Labour party has done much of late to contribute to the degradation of Parliament, and never more than on Monday last. Mr. Churchill has, however, frequently proved that they can be amused, interested, and even gripped. It may take a consummate artist to do it. But one felt that if the Attorney-General had succeeded for one moment in capturing the imagination, tickling the humour, or arousing the interest of the House, he would have had an easier—and briefer—passage. When Mr. Clynes rose the tramp of feet ceased to be stealthy and became general. Thereafter the debate pursued a comparatively normal, if somewhat painful, course until—late at night—Mr. George Spencer rose to deliver his Apologia pro Vita Sua. This profoundly moved the House. Here was intimidation revealed by a man who had fought it at first hand—intimidation naked, brutal, and unashamed. Mr. Spencer continued his exposure on Tuesday. He spoke with transparent sincerity and great emotional force. The expressions on the faces of the Labour party were comic—one watched their efforts to portray an attitude of contemptuous indifference break down as the case for the Bill was remorselessly unfolded. The reverberations of Mr. Spencer's speech will long be felt. It reminded one of Mr.- Rosslyn Mitchell's appeal for steel houses, despite his party. The effect of Mr. Spencer's speech was -enormously increased by Mr. Henderson who, combining, as he can do so well, intellectual density with pomposity, announced that he would leave it to be dealt with by " responsible officials " (Mr. Cook ?) and then turned with a sigh of