§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR (City of London)
asked as to the course of business. Referring to the Prime Minister's interpretation that the debate commencing that day could be concluded by dinnertime on Tuesday, the right hon. Gentleman recalled the fact that in 1902, 1903, and 1904, three days were devoted to the Second Reading of the Finance Bill, and in 1905, when the Budget was admittedly uncontroversial, two full days. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would bear that in mind. He also asked when it was proposed to discuss the Royal visit to Russia, and if that were taken on Wednesday, what Supply would be set down for Thursday?
§ MR. ASQUITH
said he had expressly stated in answer to a Question a few days ago what the views of the Government were with regard to the debate on the Second Reading of the Finance Bill. He was still of opinion that, in view of the discussion that had already taken place and of the automatic suspension of the eleven o'clock rule, adequate opportunity would be given for discussion by concluding the debate at dinner-time tomorrow. With regard to precedents, what distinguished this year from any in 1574 recent experience was that they had actually got two Bills before them. They were obliged to put their old-age pensions scheme into a separate Bill, and the result was that both Bills gave the opportunity for discussion which as a rule was only afforded upon the Finance Bill. That seemed to make his suggestion for concluding the debate by eight o'clock to-morrow reasonable. The remaining time to-morrow would be occupied with two or three small but important Bills, in order that they might be got to a Standing Committee. With regard to the raising of the question of the King's visit to Russia, he gathered that the intention was to raise the matter in Supply. In that case, it would not be a topic of discussion on the Motion for adjournment, and the Foreign Office Vote would be put down for Thursday.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
further asked the Prime Minister whether he had noticed the large number of Amendments on the Paper with regard to local taxation, and whether he had observed that that subject formed part of the Amendment which might be regarded as the official Opposition Amendment. The question of old-age pensions, therefore, did not come in quite so much as the Prime Minister supposed. With regard to Thursday, he asked whether any other topics would be discussed beyond the Russian visit or raised at some other time in Supply.
§ MR. ASQUITH
said that with regard to the debate on the Russian visit, it might be convenient to ask the House to meet earlier on Thursday, at twelve o'clock as on Fridays, and to discuss the Foreign Office Vote then. He would give a definite answer to-morrow.
§ MR. CHIOZZA MONEY (Paddington, N.)
asked if it was not the case that on the Old-age Pensions Bill they would be confined to a discussion of the principle of that Bill and that on the Finance Bill alone could they discuss the ways and means to pay for pensions.
§ MR. ASQUITH
said that the Old-age Pensions Bill was in the hands of the printers. It would be circulated either to-morrow or the next day at the latest.
§ MR. HAROLD COX
asked the Prime Minister whether, as the Opposition Amendment to the Finance Bill indicated a change in the fiscal policy, he would not have the Opposition full opportunity of explaining what that policy was.
§ [No Answer was returned.]