All Night Commons Sitting Shows Passions over Means Test

Thursday 23rd July 1936

MPs enjoyed the longest continuous sitting of the House of Commons since 1881, when the new unemployment assistance regulations were debated. Little of any substance was discussed - government victory was anyway never in doubt - but there was an orgy of posturing, chiefly concentrated amongst members of the left wing Independent Labour Party.

Two ILP MPs were suspended for calling the Home Secretary a liar in breach  of Parliamentary rules. It was unsure exactly what he was supposed to have lied about, but what counted was the unparliamentary insult. A third ILP MP made the same accusation, and was annoyed to be treated merely as an irritation. he was obliged to repeat it several times until he, too, was suspended. The newish Labour leader, Clem Attlee, could be observed attempting to restrain his MPs from joining in. Eventually the opposition benches contented themselves with singing the Red Flag. The opposition Liberals backed away from their earlier pledge to vote against the measures and voted with the government.


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