HC Deb 21 June 1910 vol 18 cc211-3

Order for Committee read.


The Instruction standing in the name of the hon. Member for Glasgow and Aberdeen Universities (Sir Henry Craik), giving the Committee power to divide the Bill into two Bills, one extending to England and the other to Scotland, is not in order. The Bill does not naturally fall into two portions, and it would be impossible to so divide it. If the hon. Member wishes to have two Bills, he can in Committee move to strike out the words "Great Britain" in the first Clause, and to introduce the words "England and Wales" as an Amendment of the Bill before the House. It will then be necessary to bring in a separate Bill for Scotland, and in that way he will accomplish his purpose.


May I point out, Sir, that a similar Motion was moved by Mr. Buchanan in 1900 to divide the Bill into two parts. The following appears in the "Parliamentary Debates" of that year:— Mr. Buchanan (Aberdeenshire, E.) said his object in submitting the Instruction standing on the Paper in his name was to get two separate Bills for England and Scotland, as was the case in previous Censuses. He then moved:— That it be an Instruction to the Committee that they have power to divide the Bill into two Bills, one extending to England and the other extending to Scotland. The House divided: —Ayes. 52; Noes, 125. (Division List No. 69). Here we have a Bill which I find is almost identical with that before the House, and Clause 12 of that Bill, which applies to Scotland, is absolutely word for word the same as the Clause applying to Scotland in this Bill.


What has happened during the last ten years with regard to Instructions has been to limit the opportunities upon which Instructions can be moved. The method which I have pointed out is really a much better method of arriving at the same result than that which the hon. Members seek, because really if they were successful in carrying their Instructions it would be totally impossible to divide the Bill into two parts. Where would you divide it? How many Clauses would be in the first part, and how many in the second? It would mean a complete reconstruction of the whole Bill. I have considered the matter and I have come deliberately to the conclusion that the position of the hon. Members will not be damnified in submitting their case to the House, but that it will really stand upon firmer ground if the course I have indicated is pursued, because the answer to the Instruction would at once be made, "You cannot divide this Bill, where are you drawing the line, on Clause 3, Clause 4, or Clause 5?" and so forth. It is a physical impossibility to divide this Bill into two parts, but, on the other hand, if the words "Great Britain" are struck out and the words "England and Wales" inserted, then it would be perfectly possible to bring in a Bill to deal with Scotland alone, and that would accomplish the purpose which the hon. Members wish. Therefore, I think in this case we are wise in rejecting the precedent which the hon. Member cites, because the same object may be achieved in a much better way. My ruling also applies to the similar notice given by the hon. Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury).

Bill considered in Committee.

[MR. WHITLEY (Deputy-Chairman) in the Chair.]

(In the Committee.)