HC Deb 16 June 1910 vol 17 cc1527-9

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—[Mr. J. W. Gulland.]


Am I in order before the Motion is put in endeavouring to elicit information as to whether it will be possible to secure the advancement of some non-controversial Bills when the Government business is got through at an early hour? During the last few days a good deal of the time of the House has passed without discussion, and there has been a feeling expressed by a number of Members, especially on this side, that the time might have been advantageously used for the purpose of securing a number of important although entirely non-controversial Bills which are of such a character as would elicit the interest of Members on all sides of the House without giving rise to criticism or in any sense causing party divisions.


I feel strong sympathy with the short statement which my hon. Friend has made. We quite understand it may be difficult to pass controversial Bills, but there are on the Order Paper a very great number of Bills of what may be called a minor but certainly an important character which are not controversial. Many of them are supported by Members on the other side of the House, as well as by Members on our side, and it is very difficult to persuade people outside that certain Bills cannot be dealt with when one day we rise at six o'clock, another day at ten o'clock, and on other days at intermediate hours between six and ten. I do not say there is no explanation; but those of us who sympathise with the hon. Member would like to know what it is, so that we may be able to convey it to others outside this House. It may be that the reasons given for the early rising would be merely the veil for some kind of obscure jugglery which takes place between the two Front Benches, which it will, at any rate, be of interest to us to understand. I will not suggest the various measures which I should like to see dealt with, but in order to show I am not talking in the air I will mention as examples the Bills dealing with Street Trading for Boys and with Physical Training in Schools as measures which might be dealt with in the spare hours apparently at our disposal. It may be presumptuous of a new Member to deal with a question such as this, as it takes a long period in this House, no doubt, properly to understand its procedure; but, on the other hand, there may be an advantage in attention being drawn to the matter by one who comes to it with a fresh mind. I trust we may obtain some explanation from the Patronage Secretary or from whoever can enlighten us on the subject.


It is not much use objecting to what is being done when the two Front Benches have come to a bargain; but I should like to express the hope that the Government will allow private Members who have Bills down which their constituents think of some value, to use the time they do not want for their own business. I am quite aware Government business must take precedence, but I do think the time has arrived when the Government might endeavour, when they do not want the time themselves, to give private Members an opportunity of taking the opinion of the House upon their Bills. I have two Bills down—the Railway Tickets Bill and the Sea Fisheries Regulation (Scotland) Bill. Both of them are of great interest to the people of this country, and the latter is of immense importance to the Highlands of Scotland. The Government have generally opposed these Bills, but I hope some day we shall have an enlightened Government in power which will at least give us an opportunity of taking the opinion of the House upon them. I hope, in the interests of the country generally, the Government will listen to my hon. Friends, and endeavour to improve themselves and their behaviour in the future.


I will bear in mind the views expressed by my hon. Friend. No one is more familiar with the practice of this House than my hon. Friend the Member for Sutherland (Mr. Morton). Perhaps I can explain in a word that the business we anticipated would be taken in the House this afternoon has come to an end much earlier than we expected, and consequently, in accordance with the usual practice—no new departure has been made, nor is there any mystery, as some of my hon. Friends seem to suspect—we moved the adjournment of the House.

Question, "That this House do now adjourn," put, and agreed to.

Adjourned accordingly at Thirty-seven minutes after Seven o'clock.