§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS - BEACH
said, that as Chairman of the Select Committee to which this Bill had been referred, he felt it to be his duty to make a proposal in regard to the further proceedings with respect to it, which had been rendered necessary by the fact that the Select Committee had exceeded their powers in introducing into the Bill two clauses which were held not be covered by the Preamble. In addition to other Amendments in the Bill, they had inserted Clauses 4 and 5, the first of which gave power to the police to supervise refreshment-houses; and the second of which imposed increased penalties for keeping houses open for the sale of intoxicating liquors without a licence. Those provisions seemed to the Committee to be necessary, in order that the Bill, if it were passed into law, might be properly carried into effect. It was, however, obviously difficult to make such alterations as affecting Sunday without extending their operation to the other days of the week, and it appeared to him as Chairman of the Committee that this extension might be made. He had, however, been informed by the highest authority that the Committee had no power to do so, and he wished, therefore, to move formally that the Order for the Consideration of the Bill in Committee of the Whole House on Wednesday next should be discharged, and that it be re-committed to the former Committee upstairs. He was glad to say that the hon. Members for Derry and Dublin, as well as other Irish Members whom he had consulted, were not disposed to offer any objection to the Motion.
Motion agreed to.
1950 Order for a Committee of the whole House on the Sale of Intoxicating Liquors on Sunday (Ireland) (re-committed) Bill, upon Wednesday next, read, and discharged.
Ordered, That the Bill be re-committed to the former Committee, in respect of Clauses 4 and 5 of the said Bill, as amended in Committee.
§ SIR WILFRID LAWSON
said, he could not agree to the proposal made a few days ago by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that the 27th, the day he (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) had secured for the Permissive Bill, should be handed over to the hon. Member for Londonderry (Mr. Smyth) for his Irish Sunday Closing Bill. Since that proposal was made, the situation had materially changed, the Chief Secretary for Ireland having stated that the Sunday Closing Bill was to go again before a Select Committee. It was impossible for anyone to know when the Bill would come back to the House from the Select Committee, and therefore the situation was totally different from what it was when the Leader of the House spoke on Friday. ["Order, order!"] The House wanted to know the position in which the Bill at present stood, and he thought the best thing to do in the circumstances was to move the Adjournment of the House. It was rather a strong thing, he thought, to be asked, in the circumstances in which the matter stood, to give up his Wednesday. The subject of his Bill, like the Irish Sunday Closing Bill, was one which excited a great deal of interest out-of-doors; and he objected to the arrangement in the interests of a large number of hon. Members who had arranged to come down to support, of a large number who were coming to oppose him, and of hon. Gentlemen from the country who were coming up to hear the eloquence of the hon. and learned Member for Leeds (Mr. Wheelhouse). Besides, an Amendment involving important questions had been moved to his Bill, and if he gave up his Wednesday there would be no chance of that Amendment being brought forward. He did not see, therefore, that he was called upon in the circumstances to act on the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman. Originally, he offered to give up his day, if the Government would take up the Sunday Closing Bill, and make efforts to pass it into law this year. He still 1951 stuck to his offer, and would make no other. The Chief Secretary for Ireland was in favour of the Bill, and so was the Chairman of Committees, he believed. It was practically a Government Bill, and supported by Ireland. ["No, no!"] Certainly a majority of six to one of the Irish Members supported it. ["No, no!"] The Government had better make a free breast of it, and say that they did support the Bill, and put an end to all these disputes. There never was such a strong case for a Government to support. The interest taken in the question was shown by the fact that the noble Lord the Member for Enniskillen (Viscount Crichton), when he went down to be re-elected, on taking office under the Government, was told that one great reason for his taking a position in the Government was that he should be able to carry the Irish Sunday Closing Bill. ["Oh, oh!"]
§ MR. SPEAKER
suggested that the hon. Baronet was going beyond the limits of discussion on the question before the House in dealing with matters connected with the merits of the Bill.
§ SIR WILFRID LAWSON,
while bowing to the decision of the Chair, observed that he thought he was discussing, not the merits of the Bill, but the merits of the noble Viscount. However, all he wished to say was, that he could not accept the proposal of the Government, and give up his Wednesday. [Cries of "Order!"] To put himself in Order, he would move the Adjournment of the House.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—(Sir Wilfrid Lawson.)
§ MR. M. BROOKS
desired to correct a statement of the hon. Baronet which was calculated to mislead the House—namely, that there was a majority of six to one of the Irish Members in favour of the Sunday Closing Bill. He denied that there was anything like that proportion in favour of the Bill. He also wished to point out that the Bill had been referred to a Select Committee for the purpose of considering the claims of several large towns; but when the Bill got into Committee the exemptions claimed never received any consideration.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
remarked that while the House 1952 always listened with pleasure to the observations of the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle, the speech which he had just made on the Motion for Adjournment seemed rather an abuse of the Forms of the House. The position in which the matter stood was this. He (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) was asked the other night by the hon. Member for Londonderry (Mr. R. Smyth) whether the Government would afford any facilities for proceeding with the Bill. He then stated that in consequence of the difficulties which the Government experienced in transacting their Business they were unable to make any offer on the subject. But he suggested that if, as he believed, the hon. Gentleman had the support and sympathy of a large proportion of the House, he might find it possible to get a day on which he would be able to make some progress with the Bill. Therefore he suggested at the moment, not seriously, but rather throwing it out as a suggestion to be taken for what it was worth, that perhaps the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle might give up his own Wednesday to the hon. Member for Londonderry. Since then the position had so far altered that considerable progress had been made with the Government Business—as in the case of the Universities Bill and the Prisons Bill—the Government consequently finding themselves in a better position than they were before. The Government, therefore, considered what would be a fair and reasonable proposal to make, and the proposal was, that if a day could be found for the discussion of the measure, and the discussion was not finished, they would give another day at a Morning Sitting. They did not think they were called upon, and they were not inclined, to go further. The referring of the Bill back to the Select Committee would not alter the possibility of proceeding with the Bill. All the proceedings of the Select Committee were somewhat beyond the powers which the Committee had had entrusted to them by the House, and it was necessary therefore, if the alterations in the Bill were to be maintained, that the Committee should receive fresh instructions. The arrangement which the Government proposed was one which they thought fair, and they adhered to it in spirit; and, no doubt, if the hon. Member for Londonderry could not make an arrangement 1953 with the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle, he would be able to make an arrangement with somebody else.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
agreed to a certain extent with his hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson). He did not altogether understand the position of the Government with respect to the Bill—whether they meant to support it, oppose it, or take up a neutral position; but the action of the Government in the matter would probably be more conveniently discussed when the House came to deal with the Bill itself. He had only risen to appeal to his hon. Friend not at once to press his point, but to give a little more time for consideration. He quite admitted that the hon. Baronet was not subject to any contract whatever to give up his Wednesday, but still he hoped that he would not persist in his Motion and refuse to give way.
§ MR. RICHARD SMYTH
said, he had understood the arrangement to be that if he failed to make a private Member's day effective for the purpose of his Bill the Government undertook to find him a day for that purpose; but a Morning Sitting, for obvious reasons, was not equivalent to a Government day. He trusted that while he should exert himself to get the hon. Baronet to give way, the Government would supplement their statement by saying that they would endeavour to find a Government day for proceeding with the Bill.
§ MR. O'SULLIVAN
protested against the statement of the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle that a large majority of the Irish Members were in favour of the Bill, and maintained that three-fourths of the people of Ireland opposed it. He did not see any use in the Government giving a day for the Bill, because he alone had 10 Amendments on the Paper, which would occupy at least a day; and then there were six or seven other Irish Members whose Amendments would take up another day.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.