HC Deb 29 March 1906 vol 154 cc1558-61
MR. PAUL (Northampton)

said he wished to put to the Prime Minister a Question with regard to public business. When the Army Annual Bill was read a third time that morning, before the Third Reading was agreed to, the right hon. Gentleman, the Secretary of State for War, in the absence of the Prime Minister, gave him a distinct and positive pledge that he should have an early opportunity of raising in Committee of Supply, on the Vote for his own salary, an important constitutional question about the appoint ment and functions of the Judge-Advocate-General. He would like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he would implement his colleague's undertaking and state what was the earliest opportunity on which he could put down the Vote for the Secretary of State for War's salary.


said that as his hon. friend had implied, he could not speak from his. own hearing what promise was actually made. He had only received notice of the Question since he came into the House, and he had not had an opportunity of consulting his right hon. friend. He understood, however, that his hon. friend rather exaggerated the promise so far as it involved the use of the word "early." It had been suggested', to him by the hon. Gentleman that the opportunity he desired could be afforded on the Vote for the salary of the Secretary of State for War, but he thought it would be very inconvenient to the House to put that down early, because it might preclude the possibility that ought to be retained of keeping the discussion of the Vote alive. It ought not to be taken prematurely in the public interest, as it was desirable to keep it open until near the end of the session, in view of any further desire to discuss Army questions.

MR. AKERS-DOUGLAS (Kent, St. Augustine's)

asked as to the business for the following week.


replied that Monday would be devoted to the consideration of the Report on Procedure, and, in order to prevent inconvenience at the end, he thought it would be desirable to suspend the twelve o'clock rule—not with any cruel purpose at any rate. On Tuesday they would take the Second Reading of the Workmen's Compensation Bill, and on Wednesday other Bills on the Paper would be introduced.


said with regard to the debate on the Rules it might tend to the simplification of the discussion if the right hon. Gentleman would follow the precedent set on a former occasion, and allow them to have some latitude in the shape of a Second Reading debate in which they could deal with the application of the Rules generally. It would be rather difficult to discuss the whole question upon the various Amendments.


said he quite appreciated the point raised by the right hon. Gentleman. As this was a question affecting the hours of sitting it was obvious that the debate should take a general course before they proceeded to discuss the individual questions involved.


said he would not press the right hon. Gentleman further, but he was sure it would tend to a shortening of the discussion if hon. Members on both sides of the House were placed in the position he suggested. It was clear that the question raised would include that of the limitation of speeches to which reference had been made by the hon. and gallant Member for Chelmsford Division of Essex.


No, we shall confine it to the question of hours.


said he only asked that there should be some latitude allowed.


said there would be a Paper circulated shewing the general effect of the Amendments on the Paper. They appeared of a rather formidable character, but when they were examined it would be found that there were only one or two Amendments of main importance, the others are rather drafting Amendments.


suggested that the Paper would be made more valuable if it included copies of the existing Standing Orders with the proposed Amendments marked upon them. He also asked whether the decision of the House with regard to the time of meeting and so forth would be taken without that pressure which was implied by the appointment of Government Whips. They would then be able to get the genuine feeling of the majority.


I think that as the Government are responsible for the business in a measure which is not shared by the rest of the House it would not be possible to do what the hon. Gentleman suggests, except in regard to the subject of Wednesday and Friday sittings, on which there is so much difference of opinion. On that point the House will be left free.


asked when the Workmen's Compensation Bill would be circulated.


I hope it will be in the hands of hon. Members this evening. At the latest it will be circulated tomorrow.


That is very short time.


said he had no desire to place any obstacle in the -way of taking the Bill before Easter, but he would point out that this very late delivery was most inconvenient.


There is no new principle so far as the Second Reading is concerned.


said he wished to reiterate his statement that the Secretary of State for War distinctly promised him an early opportunity of raising this question with regard to the Judge Advocate-General. It was on that understanding that he withdrew his opposition to the Third Reading of the Bill and he would be very glad to know that on an early day he would be placed in a position to discuss the matter.


said he wished to point out to the Home Secretary that the Workmen's Compensation Bill did introduce a new principle, because it included seamen for the first time. He therefore hoped the Second Reading would be deferred until after Easter.


replying to Mr. Paul, said he was careful to avoid using the word "early" or to give any pledge at the time. All he did state was that his hon. friend would have an opportunity of raising the point on the Vote for his salary, and he would be glad if he did so raise it.