HC Deb 20 September 1909 vol 11 cc18-20
Captain CRAIG

asked the Prime Minister whether he will take steps to secure that the Committee stage of the Development Bill will not be taken on days when the Finance Bill is under discussion in the House?


The question of dates when Committees sit is, by the practice of the House, one for the Committee itself to arrange, and I do not think. I should be justified in taking the step suggested by the hon. Member.

Captain CRAIG

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that he promised in the House to communicate with the Chairman of Standing Committee C, so that the Committee would not sit on days on which the Finance Bill was down?


That is not so. I will read the exact terms of my reply:—

"We shall be glad to communicate to the Chairman of the Standing Committee so far as we can in advance the days on which the Finance Bill will be taken, so as to enable him to consult the convenience of Members as to the days on which the Committee will sit."

That is all I said.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, although he may have no technical right to dictate to the Chairman of the Committee, an indication of the views of the Government upon such a point would carry great weight; whether the general impression was not conveyed to the House that arrangements could and would be made which would prevent the Committee sitting when the Finance Bill was down; whether he bears in mind that, according to statements made, there is to be an exceptional pressure put upon the House this week, in the shape of late sittings, to deal with what remains of the Finance Bill, and whether in these circumcumstances the right hon. Gentleman does not think the pressure put upon Committee is out of all proportion to that which hon. Members can bear, and whether better methods than depriving them of food cannot be discovered?


So far as I know, the Committee were certainly not deprived of food, and I assume that if any Member was disposed to somnolence he was able to indulge his inclination. With regard to the question put to me by the right hon. Gentleman, I have to say that when I gave the answer already referred to I was sanguine enough to hope that the three days we had assigned for the sittings of that Committee would be sufficient to dispose of the Committee stage of the Development Bill. That has turned out not to be the case. I was careful to say nothing as regards the future. This week on every effective Parliamentary day the Finance Bill will be taken. It is just possible that something of the same kind may happen in the early days of next week, unless all progress with the Development Bill is to be stayed. It seems to be necessary that the Committee should sit at any rate on part of some of the days on which the Finance Bill will also be taken, but I am told that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer does not intend to ask the Committee to sit after half-past three unless some special emergency should arise.

Captain CRAIG

May I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman is aware that this Committee meets at half-past eleven, and that the House does not rise sometimes until five or six in the morning, and whether he thinks that legislation can be carried on under such conditions?


That is a speculative question, and much could be said both ways.


May I ask whether, if we have to sit all day and all night, the right hon. Gentleman will compel the Chancellor of the Exchequer to be present also?


May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he can give us some precise information as to what he regards as an exceptional emergency?


In general terms, if reasonable progress is made, an exceptional emergency will not arise.


If a Member of the Committee dies in the course of the proceedings, will he be accorded a public funeral?