HC Deb 05 November 1920 vol 134 cc785-7

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."


I said on Clause 1, and at the moment I was under correction, that this business had not been announced for this afternoon. My Noble Friend the Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Edmund Talbot) told me that it had been, and I said I did not think so. He has now just come over and told me that it had not been set down for to-day, so I simply rise to excuse my intervention, because I think it is quite fair, although I do not want to object to the Committee stage being token, that when a Bill which does con-corn an industry and changes the laws of that industry is brought forward the House of Commons should know that it is going to be taken.


I desire to associate myself with the protest of my hon. Friend. I am sure the Noble Lord (Lord E. Talbot) would not seek to take advantage of the House in any respect, but this habit of springing on the House Bills of which notice has not been given is a growing one. I have seen it done, night after night, and what is the utility of the Leader of the Opposition or any other Member of this House getting up and asking what the business is going to be for the remainder of the week if the answer that he gets is not going to be a correct answer? The Noble Lord knows that a Bill of this kind is of vast interest to all the Labour Members in the House, and he also knows that other Members would have felt it their duty to be here had they known that the Bill was to be proceeded with. I have no objection to the Committee stage of this Bill at all, but I object to Bills like this being sprung on the House. We were told distinctly that two Bills were to be taken to-day, and now we find a third sandwiched in between, and I do not think that is right. For the future we ought to have an assurance from the Noble Lord that this method will not be adopted. I cordially associate myself with the protest of my hon. Friend.

Lord EDMUND TALBOT (Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury)

The mistake is entirely mine. I was distinctly under the impression—it was the intention—that we had given notice on Wednesday that this Bill would be one of three taken to-day. I find, however, that we did not give notice. We are, of course, entitled to take the Bills on the Paper, but by courtesy it is always the custom to give notice. Personally, I should not press for any stage of the Bill if the House did not wish it.


Let mo say at once that we shall not object, for this reason, that there is no Member of the Government who adheres more closely to the arrangements that he makes than does the Noble Lord. I have acted with him not only in this Parliament, but in other Parliaments, and I have never known him make a bargain that he did not keep. I am certain this is an oversight, and now that we have established the point that we were right, I shall certainly not object to the Committee stage of this Bill being taken.


I only wish to say that I, for one, would have been intensely disappointed if this Bill had not come on to-day, and it is no use saying the Labour Members were taken unawares. The Labour Members fully expected it on to-day, and that on the day it was discussed it would be taken in all its stages. As there is no Amendment on the Paper, I do hope there will be no obstruction to this measure going through, because it is so vitally important to the persons employed in the industry.


I made it perfectly clear, I hope, even to my hon. Friend, that I had no objection to the Committee stage at all—no objection to any Clause, and no intention of offering any opposition. I also made it perfectly clear, I hope, that I did not suggest that the Noble Lord had done anything irregular or improper, but I think the Noble Lord himself will agree that we were perfectly entitled to enter a protest, and that being so, we are quite ready to allow the Bill to proceed.

Question put, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill," put, and agreed to.