HC Deb 18 April 1917 vol 92 cc1794-6

Whereupon Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER, pursuant to the Order of the House of the 12th February, proposed the Question, "That this House do now adjourn."


I think we ought to have some explanation of the way in which the Government intend to carry on the business. Those of us who have been here a great many hours since the first Order of the Day were surprised to find, when that Order was completed, that those Orders which we expected were not to be taken and other Orders in which other Members were interested were taken against all previous arrangement. That is not the way to get on with business. I was very interested myself in the Venereal Disease Bill. We were told it was to he taken yesterday and again to-day. We were led to understand it would be taken to-day and would go to the Grand Committee and got through next week. At twenty minutes to eleven there was an opportunity for that Bill to be taken, but it was not moved. That is very unfortunate. I had a Motion down to reject the Bill, but I was quite ready to give way and not speak about it at all, in order that we might have the discussion upstairs in Grand Committee next week. That was quite contrary to what was arranged and hoped for on both sides of the House. We have had a Bill taken up for which nobody was prepared. The Minister of Pensions, whose name was on the back of it, was not able to answer questions, and, on being sent for, arrives in the House at one minute to eleven. The result is that time has been wasted simply by bad management of the Government, and those of us who have been here waiting for hours and wanting to get on with the business if we could only have had two minutes in which to say a word or two, have attended for no purpose at all. That business is not taken, and the Government do not get any further. I really must protest against the way in which we are treated. Time is wasted and the Government do not make progress with the business. If the Government would be a little more accessible to hon. Members who do attend here, and give an intimation as to what business they proposed to take and what they did not propose to take, they would get on with the business which is so congested. We are all really working under great strain and pressure, and nobody wishes to impose any further strain or pressure upon anybody, especially on Ministers. I do hope these few words will have some effect, at any rate, in getting the Government to take Members of the House who do attend a little more into their confidence, and thus ease and accelerate the course of public business.

Lord EDMUND TALBOT (Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury)

I am sorry that the hon. Member is dissatisfied with the arrangement of business, but I can assure him that what we did was for the convenience of the House, and, I should have thought, for his own convenience. I understood he has an interest in the Venereal Disease Bill, and the Minister in charge of that Bill assured me that he would not have time to make his speech on the Second Reading of the Bill. It therefore appeared to be a useless waste of time to start on that to-night. The same thing applies to the other Orders. The Minister in charge of the Munitions of War Bill informed me that, although be would have time to say all he had to say, he knew there were other Members who wanted to speak on it, and that there was no possible chance of completing that Bill. It appeared that the Bill which we did try to get through would give rise to very little discussion, and there was just a chance of getting it through, because there was no Amendment on the Paper. On that ground we took that Bill, thinking that we should suit the general convenience.

Adjourned accordingly at Seven minutes after Eleven o'clock.