HC Deb 18 December 1919 vol 123 cc671-3

I wish to ask the Leader of the House whether he can give any information as to the course of business until the end of the Session, and also on what date it is intended that Parliament shall resume duty next year?

Mr. BONAR LAW (Leader of the House)

The business is practically what is on the Paper, with, of course, the Lords Amendments. To-morrow, time will be taken up in dealing with Lords Amendments, which we hope will be received by that time. As to the time of meeting next Session, we have not actually fixed the date, but it will be as near as we can arrange to 10th February.


May I ask whether, in connection with business, steps will be taken by the Leader of the House to ascertain the views of hon. Members on the question of permitting the measure dealing with old age pensions to go through without opposition?


After we had discussed the question in the Cabinet the Prime Minister left it to me to decide, as Leader of the House, whether or not I could ask the House to pass this Bill practically without examination. I had some interviews through my right hon. Friend with the Gentlemen opposite, and I believe I could rely on their giving their assistance, but I had to consider what was likely to happen if anyone took the view that, as the House of Commons was responsible for expenditure, the Government would not be justified in asking them to pass without discussion a Bill which involved a permanent increase of something like £10,000,000. If I could at all be assured that it would pass by agreement, I should be quite ready to put down a Resolution to-morrow and to carry it through all its stages to-morrow. I am bound to say that the reason I decided against that was that I did not expect that. unanimity, but I think there. would be no harm in my putting it down, and if there is any opposition we shall not proceed tomorrow.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, as far as all those who are sitting on this side representing the Opposition are concerned, we would raise no difficulty at all in regard to any measure of the kind?


I see no objection to the course I have indicated of putting it down on the Paper to-morrow. The point I had to consider was this: We are all agreed that the House of Commons is responsible for expenditure; would I have been justified, unless I had some preliminary indication of the feeling of the House, in even asking the House to grant an expenditure of £10,000,000, practically without examination? That is the question. I will put down the Motion on the distinct understanding that unless it is practically unanimous we shall go no further.


Which Orders does the right hon. Gentleman intend to take to-night, and is it seriously intended to take the Report of the War Emergency Laws (Continuance) Bill?


We shall take the first three Orders and the fifth. We shall not ask the House to proceed with the War Emergency Laws (Continuance) Bill, as it is impossible to carry it through all its stages.


When is it proposed to take the honourable remnant of the Electricity Bill?


As soon as it comes from the Lords we shall take the Electricity Bill.

Colonel GREIG

When is it proposed to take the Land Settlement (Scotland) Bill?


The moment we get it; I hope to-morrow.

Ordered, That the Proceedings on Government Business be exempted at this day's Sitting from the provisions of the Standing Order (Sittings of the House)."—[Mr. Bonar Law.]