§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY
On a point of Order. The Bill has not been printed. I have been to the Vote Office only two minutes ago, and it was not available there for Members. Is it in order to proceed with a Bill on Second Reading when it is not in the hands of Members or available to them?
The Bill itself is in common form and follows exactly the Bills of former Sessions. I see no objection to taking it.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
Do I understand that we are about to have a discussion on a Bill which has not been printed?
§ Mr. DEVLIN
Is it your ruling that the House of Commons is to be called upon to give its judgment upon a Bill that is not printed?
There is no objection to taking a Bill which is in common form. It is in the same form that has been followed for a great many years. There would be great objection to taking a Bill which was novel and which the House had not seen. The Appropriation Bill, however, is always in the same form; it is only a ease of altering the dates and figures from year to year.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
May I ask whether there is any precedent whatever for taking an Appropriation Bill without having it printed, because it is really not respectful to the House that we should be asked to pass a Bill without the Government having taken the trouble to have it printed?
At one time it was never the custom to print for circulation the Appropriation Bill at all. I remember that when I first came to the Table it was not the custom to circulate the Bill. Since then it has become customary to print and 458 circulate it. It is, however, exactly in the same form as the Bill which has been taken for many years, and I see no objection to taking it.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
As I want to vote against it, and as I do not want to vote against anything that I have not seen, may I respectfully point out, in order to guide hon. Members as to what they ought to do, that this Bill ought not to be taken until it is printed.
I should recommend the hon. Member to turn up the Appropriation Act of last year; by altering the date from 1918 to 1919 he will know exactly what the Bill is.
§ Mr. DEVLIN
We want to deal with the Bill for 1919, and I object to it, because I am sure it is all wrong. I have not seen it, and I would not like to vote against it unless I had seen it.
§ Lord R. CECIL
Is there anything to prevent the Government printing the Bill to-morrow in an entirely different form from anything that we have seen? What security has the house for knowing that this is the real Bill? It may not be a matter of great importance, but I do think that it is most scandalous and discourteous to the House to ask it to pass a Bill before it has been printed.
I really do not think that the Noble Lord's indignation is justified in any way. It was not customary for many years to print the Bill at all. It comes on as a matter of course at the end of the Session when time is valuable. If delay has to be interposed in order to print the Bill, it is not possible for the House to take it. Of late years, when printing has been accelerated, the Bill has been printed and circulated. I cannot say why it has not been printed to-day; I am not responsible.
§ Captain ORMSBY-GORE
Can the hon. Members see this Bill in manuscript at the Table? Are the Clerks at the Table in possession of the Bill in extenso?
§ Mr. MacVEAGH
Would it be in order now to move that the Debate be adjourned until the Bill can be produced I
I have called upon an hon. Member to address the House, and until another hon. Member rises there is no question of the Adjournment of the Debate.