§ THE PRIME MINISTER AND FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. ASQUITH,) Fifeshire, E.
I beg to move that the proceedings on any private business set down for consideration at 8.15 this evening, by direction of the Chairman of Ways and Means, may be entered upon at any hour, and be not interrupted under any Standing Order regulating the sittings of the House. I may say that the only object of this Motion is to enable the three private Bills down on the Paper to get through, and that we may, I was going to say, not be troubled with them any more during this session, but so that they may have a fair chance of not being put an end to at 9.30 this evening. I do not regard this Motion as in any sense a precedent. If it were, I should not take such action, as I think it would be undesirable for the ordinary private business of the House. I make the 1284 Motion simply in view of the exigencies in which we are placed at this moment and of the importance of the great time and labour expended on these Bills not being wholly wasted. Under these circumstances, I hope the Motion will meet with general agreement.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Proceedings on any Private Business set down for consideration at 8.15 this evening, by direction of the Chairman of Ways and Means, may be entered upon at any hour, and be not interrupted under any Standing Order regulating the Sittings of the House."—(Mr. Asquith.)
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR (City of London)
I do not rise to raise any objection to the Motion. This may be a very proper proceeding. I understand that the right hon. Gentleman does not propose, except in similar difficulties perhaps, that this should be made a precedent. But what does he propose should be the course of business before and after the private Bills?
§ MR. ASQUITH
Before, until 8.15 p.m., we propose to take the Third Reading of the Coal Mines (Eight Hours) Bill. As regards the business subsequent to the consideration of the private Bills, that depends on the length of time which they take. Our second Order to-day is the consideration of the Lords' Amendments to the Children Bill, and if the Private Bills were disposed of at a comparatively reasonable hour—I suppose I might say ten o'clock—I think we might take the consideration of the Lords' Amendments to the Children Bill; but if it turns out that the private Bills occupy a longer time we will defer the consideration of what is really a very important question, viz., the Lords' Amendments to the Children Bill, till to-morrow. There are two other Bills, neither of which raises any question of serious controversy, which I hope we might take to-night, first the. Committee Stage of the Crofters' Commons Grazings Regulation Bill, and the other the Second Reading of a Bill which has already passed Revision Bill. The important question, of course, is the Children Bill, and I will undertake that we shall not proceed 1285 with that except at a reasonably early hour.
§ MR. KEIR HARDIE (Merthyr Tydvil)
asked if it was not possible to take the Children Bill before entering upon the consideration of the private Bills.
§ MR. KEIR HARDIE
asked whether if the Motion of the Prime Minister were agreed to, the private Bills could not be taken at any hour of the evening.
§ MR. KEIR HARDIE
pointed out that the Motion said they might be entered upon at any hour. Could not the Children Bill, therefore, be taken before them?
§ * MR. SPEAKER
It would not be possible to take the private business before 8.15; it has been fixed for that time by the Chairman of Ways and Means.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
As I understand the hon. Gentleman's suggestion, it was that the private Bills might be entered upon after 8.15 p.m. I do not believe that is the intention of the Government, but the prima facie reading of the Resolution seems to support the contention of the hon. Gentleman.
§ MR. ASQUITH
The object of the Motion is this. Under the Standing Orders we cannot enter on the consideration of a private Bill after 9.30, and it is to provide for that contingency that I move the Resolution.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Ordered accordingly.