20 DECEMBER 1930, Page 9

The Week in Parliament

-LF the public only realized what a glorious waste of 1 time " private members' motions " are, and how completely they fail to achieve any practical results, more leniency would have been accorded to those members of Parliament who absented themselves from the. Economy debate last week.

It has long been a recognized custom that upon Wednesday evenings, when the House transforms itself into a small academic debating society, members are free to fulfil engagements outside. On this occasion they missed a well-informed and thoughtful speech from Sir --John Davidson and some trenchant criticism of the Government by Mr. Bracken. But the assumption 'made in the Press that the presence of a quorum would or could have materially affected the financial policy of the present Chancellor of the Exchequer cannot, in fact; be justified.

Perhaps more nonsense is talked and written about economy than any other single issue.

It may be granted at once that the Labour Government has sanctioned an unnecessary increase of purely unpro- ductive expenditure amounting to rather over twenty millions a year. But then they don't profess to believe in economy, a fact which is invariably overlooked by the pundits-who descant upon this theme at such length from Outside Parliament. The remainder of the increased expenditure, apart from unemployment benefit, is due to the normal and -quite unavoidable growth of social and other servieespensions, education grants,. rating relief, beet-Sugar subsidy, and so forth. -

It is difficult to see how substantial reductions of taxa- tion can be achieved without successful conversion operation's on a large' scale. And it is certainly hopeless to ask the House of Commons to act as the instrument of eionorriy, which is genuinelY desired by so small a fraction Of the elettbmte represented by its menibers. The beSt • chance of the direct taxpayer would appear to' be' a Ch4nicalor of the Exchequer prepared tb act ruthlessly fOr fwb years and then retire froin politics. - The CoMmittee Stage of theucatton gave place on Tuesday to oae of the most deplorable debateS that have ever taken place upon the subject of unemploy- ment. Mr. Herbert Morrison read out interminable figures which meant little and proVed nothing. Mr. W. J. Brown eloquently expressed the despair which the Govern- ment's futility has evoked in the country, and pled for the drastic reorganization of existing Parliamentary machinery—a plea which was rather surprisingly endorsed by Mr. Churchill, who subsequentlY compared the Government to the inmates of Sing-Sing Prison under sentence of death receiving a visit from their attorney in the shape of Mr. Lloyd George. Mr. Kingsley Griffith made an effective contribution, but apart from this, the debate was undistinguished, and culminated in a speech from the Minister of Health so bad as to be almost incredible.

Mr. Maxton's parting shot was to advise Mr. Lloyd George not to risk another debate on uneniployment, and the House broke up in deep gloom—the only en- couraging feature of a depressing day.