HC Deb 03 May 1923 vol 163 cc1618-20

I desire to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Member for New castle East (Mr. A. Henderson) a question of which I have given him private notice, namely, does he propose to move tomorrow the Second Reading of the Workmen's Compensation Bill, and whether, considering the importance of the Measure to all sections of the House, and that the Bill has only this afternoon been placed in the hands of hon. Members, he will postpone the Second Reading to some future date, in order to give an opportunity for perusal?


I regret that there has been some delay in the circulation of the Bill and it has only been available since noon to-day. I am afraid, although it is not a justification, that this is not the first time that has occurred. We cannot comply with the hon. Member's request to postpone the Second Reading Debate because that would be forfeiting what we have obtained by the ballot and the chance will not return until next Session.

Lieut.-Colonel Sir J. NORTON-GRIFFITHS

May I ask your ruling, Sir, in this matter. Here we have a Bill of 47 pages which is only available to-day, and we are asked to take the Second Reading to-morrow. The right hon. Gentleman will have other opportunities of introducing the Bill, and I submit that the hon. Member for Central Cardiff (Mr. Gould) and others who think as he does are entitled to press this to a Division as to whether it shall or shall not be taken.


Is it not a fact that Mr. Speaker Lowther always ruled that even if a Bill is not printed he could not rule it out of order on the Second Reading? It is very inconvenient, but he always ruled that it was not possible for him to rule it out of order, and on more than one occasion when I have raised the point he has said "if the hon. Member will go into the Vote Office, he will find that half an hour ago the Bill was printed, and under those circumstances nothing can be done." I think my hon. Friend's motive is not that he objects to the Bill, but because he is interested in the Bill that follows it.


This Bill was ordered to be printed on 16th February, nearly three months ago, and I submit to you that you should protect the Members of the House from what is a gross discourtesy, whether it is intentional or not, in keeping back the issue of this Bill and then asking us to have the Second Reading the very next day. If the Government had done this with any Bill they introduced, they would have been overwhelmed with protests.


I will deal with the point of Order. My answer has been anticipated, almost in words, by what has been said by the right hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury). It would not be out of order to move the Second Reading of the Bill to-morrow. The right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill has apologised for the inconvenience, and it may be that the late production of the Bill may affect my views when we come to the close of the proceedings to-morrow. A Bill should be in the hands of Members in sufficient time for them to consult the people interested.


May I say that I am not actuated in bringing this question forward by the second Bill. I am considerably concerned about this Bill, because we have had no opportunity whatever of considering it.


Is the hon. Member not aware that the Bill is based upon the Report of a Government Committee, which was submitted to the House two years ago?