§ Order for Committee read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."—(Mr. Courtney.)
§ MR. HOPWOOD
hoped the Government would not press the measure on at that hour of the morning. It only came down from the Lords a short time ago, and it was hurried through a second reading last night. He had opposed it that day at the Morning Sitting, and he had good grounds for doing so. If he was in Order, he would say that he had a solid objection to more than one of the clauses of the measure. He would move the adjournment of the debate.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. Hopwood.)
§ MR. COURTNEY
hoped the hon. and learned Member for Stockport would not persist in his Motion. The Bill was a very simple one, and, no doubt, if they were allowed to proceed with it, when the hon. and learned Member showed that he had a really serious objection to one of its provisions, Progress would be arrested in due time. He (Mr. Courtney), however, did not apprehend that his hon. and learned Friend had anything to object to but a point of detail which might very well be considered now. If they found that they had not sufficient time to consider it, they could report Progress, and resume the discussion of the clauses on another occasion. At this time of the year, it was not wise to postpone mea- 1967 sures unnecessarily. He thought hon. Members would agree with him that the Government were justified in pressing on the Bill.
§ MR. DILLWYN
said his hon. and learned Friend's objection was not a matter of detail. The Government were seeking to take power to modify and rescind and alter regulations with regard to the sale of petroleum. Clause 3 said that one of the principal Secretaries of State might, from time to time, alter, repeal, and add to the regulations contained in the Act; so that, in point of fact, the clause gave power to the Government to alter the law which they were establishing in the other provisions of the Bill. He could not, therefore, think that any objection taken to the clause could well be called a matter of detail.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, the point raised was obviously a single point upon a single clause, and at that time of the Session he hoped the hon. and learned Gentleman would allow the Bill to proceed.
§ MR. R. N. FOWLER
suggested that Mr. Speaker should leave the Chair, and that the hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill (Mr. Courtney) should then consent to report Progress.
§ SIR JAMES M'GAREL-HOGG
urged that the Bill should, at that time of the Session, be allowed to proceed.
§ MR. WHITLEY
said, he looked with considerable alarm upon the notion that men should be allowed to go about the streets with petroleum in carts; and he thought it would be well to report Progress now, because of the great importance of the Bill. The principle of the Bill was a very dangerous one, and he considered that such a Bill ought not to be discussed at 1 o'clock in the morning.
§ MR. R. H. PAGET
also thought it unreasonable to go on with the Bill at such an hour. The House had not had an opportunity of considering the Bill in order to see whether it in any way affected the amending Act passed a few years ago with regard to petroleum. He did not for a moment desire to obstruct the passing of Bills; but this was a Bill of such importance, that it would be unreasonable to ask the House to discuss 1968 it without knowing beforehand that it was coming on.
§ MR. WARTON
supported the proposal to defer the consideration of the Bill, observing that the point to which the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for the Home Department had referred, and which the hon. Member for Swansea (Mr. Dillwyn) had raised, was one of the most important points the House could have to consider. It was legislation by Secretaries of State. The House ought to regard that as a Constitutional question. The hawking of petroleum was a very objectionable practice altogether. Petroleum was a favourite engine of the ultra-Radical Party, and the House did not know for what purpose it might be used. They might have dynamite hawked about in small quantities. Who were the people who were expected to keep the stringent rules proposed? Common pedlars, who were not to be trusted. They knew how reckless men were with gunpowder; these pedlars would not understand, or, if they understood, would disregard and despise the rules. They, no doubt, smoked, and they would care much more for their smoke than for the public safety.
§ MR. DUCKHAM
complained that the Bill had been sprung upon the House. He had never seen or heard of it till tonight, and he thought an opportunity of reading a Bill of such an important character should be given to the House before any decision was taken upon it. He should, therefore, support the Motion for Adjournment.
§ MR. COURTNEY
said, there was every disposition on the part of the Government to give ample consideration to the Bill; but the Government were obliged, at that time of the year, to be guided by a common-sense view, and if the Speaker were not allowed to leave the Chair the House might be precluded from considering the Bill. If the Motion to go into Committee was agreed to, the Government would be ready to stop at any moment after the Speaker had left the Chair. Petroleum was at present hawked under licence, and this Bill only proposed to allow people to hawk it from one county into another.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.1969
§ Original Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," put, and agreed to.
§ Bill considered in Committee.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Thursday.