HC Deb 02 April 1925 vol 182 cc1693-4

Considered in Committee.

[Captain FITZROY in the Chair.]

Clauses 1 to 19 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Clauses 20 to 40 stand part of the Bill."

Captain BENN

I beg to move, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."

It is customary upon Bills of this character for the Minister in charge of the Department concerned to be present to answer any question, but I do not observe amongst the galaxy of talent on the Treasury Bench any Minister except the hon. and gallant Gentleman representing Scotland who is concerned with this Bill. [An HON. MEMBER: "The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health is present."] I think we ought to be shown the usual courtesy in these matters. It is usual on these occasions for the Minister in charge of the Bill to be present and it is customary for the Chairman on such occasions to accept a motion to report Progress.

11.0 P.M.

Captain ELLIOT (Parliamentary Secretary for Health, Scotland)

If I am in order in making the Minister's apology to the hon. and gallant Gentleman, he may be willing to accept it After all, this is a Consolidation Bill. The Parliamentary Secretary has had to go away in pursuance of his official duties, and he asked me to answer any questions which the Committee might desire to put in connection with this Bill. I have to apologise deeply for my, no doubt, total inability to fill the shoes either of the Minister of Health or of the Parliamentary Secretary, but the Committee will, I think, realise that there is no intention of discourtesy. The Minister and the Parliamentary Secretary are carrying on their official duties, and, as Under-Secretary, I have been asked to answer for the English as well as for the Scottish Housing Bill on what, after all, are technical points.

Captain BENN

If the Committee is content to let Measures pass without the attendance of the Minister, I accept is but I do point out, although I may be in a very small minority, that the House of Commons has its own self-respect, and that this is a precedent the like of which I cannot remember. In these circumstances I propose to let the question be put and negatived, and not put the Committee to the trouble of a Division, but it is an entirely new feature unheard of in the House of Commons before.

Question, "That the Chairman Jo report Progress, and ask leave to sit again," put, and negatived.

Remaining Clauses ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Schedules agreed to.

Bill reported, without Amendment; read the Third time, and passed, without Amendment.