HC Deb 15 December 1919 vol 123 cc41-2
83. Lieut.-Colonel W. GUINNESS

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he is aware that the County Courts Bill passed through four stages between midnight and 1 a.m. on the 9th December, and that the Scottish Nursing Bill passed through four stages at the following sitting; whether it has been usual in former Sessions to pass measures through all their stages at one sitting except in cases of extreme urgency; and whether, in order that Members may have reasonable opportunity of giving notice of Amendments, he will in future arrange to mark Bills specially upon the Order Paper in all cases where the Government propose to take more than one stage at a single sitting?


The answer to the first part of the question is in the affirmative. It frequently happens towards the end of a Session that for the general convenience of the House it is necessary to hasten legislation in order to ensure the Adjournment or Prorogation. It would be very difficult in practice to carry out the suggestion in the last part of the question, but I fully recognise it is not desirable to pass measures through all stages at one sitting when it can be avoided.

Lieut.-Colonel GUINNESS

Could we not have notice given at Question-time of such an unusual course being adopted, so that hon. Members having Amendments to propose could put them down?


I will consider that. I am sure my hon. and gallant Friend will find that the practice has been universal at the end of a Session when there was no strong disagreement.


Is it not a fact that prior to the War this practice was unknown—I know that during the War it was resorted to occasionally—and was not this practice persisted in on Thursday night in a House of perhaps not more than fifty Members; and is it not desirable that legislation, if necessary, should be conducted in a proper way, and, if there is not time for it, that it should be postponed till another Session?


I am not quite sure, for I have not examined the question, whether it was never done before the War. I have already said that I recognise that it is not desirable, and I shall consider whether the suggestion of my hon. and gallant Friend can be adopted. I should like to point out to the House that we are doing this, not to suit the convenience of the Government, because it does not matter to us whether or not the Adjournment is later. We are doing it because we believe it is the desire of the House as a whole.


Why should a Scottish Bill be sacrificed? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this Bill was not in the hands of some hon. Members until a few minutes ago, yet all the stages of the Bill were passed in the early hours of the morning?


I thought there was general agreement about that.


You never asked.


I do not see that the interests of Scotland are sacrificed because a Scottish Bill is allowed to go through.


Will the right hon. Gentleman give Scotland to-morrow, and drop the Education Bill which nobody in Ireland wants?


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that some people consider that some of these Bills are really detrimental; and will he not secure in future that Bills which are to be taken should have a double asterisk or a red ink mark placed against them, to warn hon. Members that they are going to be taken?