§ SIR R. ASSHETON CROSS (Lancashire, S.W., Newton)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what was the course Her Majesty's Government proposed to pursue with regard to the Coal Mines Bill which stood on the Paper for to-day?
THE SECRETARY OF STATE (Mr. CHILDERS) (Edinburgh, S.)
I have to apologize for not being in the House last night when the discussion took place in regard to the Bill; but I was absent through indisposition. In reply to the right hon. Gentleman, I may perhaps inform the House precisely how we stand as to this Bill. We agreed to its being read a second time on the understanding which I stated, that it should be placed in the same position as the Bill of the hon. Member for Donegal (Mr. Arthur O'Connor) on the same subject, which had been read a second time a few minutes before. To this, it is true, the right hon. Gentleman opposite would not agree, and set down the Committee, in spite of my protest, for an earlier day. The Committee stage was reached on Wednesday, the 10th, after a quarter to 6, and the right hon. Gentleman sucseeded in moving the Speaker out of the Chair. I objected immediately afterwards, and Progress was reported, yesterday being named by the right hon. Gentleman for the continuance of the debate in Committee. Shortly afterwards I saw the right hon. Gentleman on another subject, and he explained to me why, in his opinion, legislation was urgent. But I said in reply that I could make no change in the date when I thought that the Committee should be resumed—that is to say, the date for the Committee on the Bill of the hon. Member for Donegal—until I had read and considered the Report of the Mines Commission, which I daily expected to receive. I said that after reading and considering that Report I might have to make a statement to the House and to communicate with the right hon. Gentleman and the hon. Member for Donegal about their Bills. I received yesterday the Report; but I have not yet had time to study it completely, and at this moment I am not able to advise the House as to these two Bills. I have also received important suggestions from the Miners' Conference. My impression is that I shall be able to 981 introduce a Bill immediately founded on the Report, and that it will cover the whole ground and render any other Bill unnecessary. Under these circumstances, I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will postpone the Committee on the Bill for a few days.