§ Considered in Committee. [Progress, 11th February.]
§ [MR. DUNNICO in the chair.]
§ The PRESIDENT of the BOARD of TRADE (Mr. William Graham)
I venture to make a few suggestions which, I think, will be for the general convenience in debate. There are three long Clauses dealing with amalgamations—" Constitution of Coal Mines Reorganisation Commission," "General functions of Coal Mines Reorganisation Commission " and" Amendments of Part I of 16… 17 Geo. V, c. 28 "—and one short Clause dealing with the basis of valuation. With the permission of the Committee, I would suggest that we have a Second Reading Debate on the first Clause which will cover the three long Clauses and the short Clause regarding amalgamation and then the Committee in all probability will take a Division on the first Clause on the Amendment Paper. Then, afterwards, it might be convenient to proceed to discuss the Amendments to each Clause in turn, but the Second Reading discussion would cover all the material points in the three long Clauses and the Clause which follows.
§ Sir PHILIP CUNLIFFE-LISTER
I think that what the right hon. Gentleman has said is obviously reasonable, because there are three new Clauses, all of which deal with amalgamations, the constitution of the Commission, the functions of the Commission and certain consequential matters. I agree that it would be impossible to take a Second Reading Debate effectively on any one of these Clauses without overlapping on the others, and, therefore, it is reasonable that the Second Reading Debate on any one of these Clauses should cover all the matters which are involved. Rut-there are a very large number of Amendments down to these Clauses, and while I might agree that we can take a general discussion now, it may well happen that, after the first of the Clauses is passed, assuming it has been passed, certain questions may arise thereupon which would really affect the principle of later 654 Clauses. Obviously, if something happens in the debate on an Amendment to the first of these Clauses which really affects subsequent Clauses, and we have not had the opportunity of debate, then the ordinary right of reasonable debate ought not to be curtailed on the Second Reading of the further Clauses.
That is one inquiry I want to make. The other is one to which I am quite sure the right hon. Gentleman will assent. There are, as I say, a very large number of Amendments down. I do not know how many are going to be accepted, or how they will affect these Clauses. It may very well be that a Clause to which a Second Reading is obtained to-day, or on another day, may emerge from its consideration in Committee in a very different form from that in which it is proposed by the right hon. Gentleman; but I am sure he would not suggest that, if we agree to his proposal to take a general discussion on the three Clauses first, we should not have a reasonable opportunity of raising new points on a further Clause which we could not possibly raise in this general discussion. Therefore, we should have, obviously, a proper opportunity of debating those Clauses in detail upon the Motion that the Clause stand part. To that I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will agree as being perfectly fair and reasonable, and upon that understanding I should be very glad to fall in with the suggestion he has made.
§ Mr. W. GRAHAM
I do not think, as far as I followed the statement of my right hon. Friend, that there is any difficulty about the point he has put. As I understand it, it is that hon. Members opposite reserve their rights of discussion on later Clauses being put on Second Reading, but on the distinct understanding that no material points already covered will be discussed again.
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
And of course, as to the second point, naturally we reserve our rights to the discussion of each Clause on the Motion that the Clause stand part.
I agree to that proposal but I must make it perfectly clear that we cannot have two other Second Reading Debates on each subsequent Clause. That must he distinctly understood. While I quite agree to the 655 suggestion on the lines indicated, there must not be any needless repetition when the subsequent Clauses are put to the Committee.
§ Sir P. CUNLIFFE-LISTER
With great respect, I entirely agree. I only safeguard myself by saying that it may be that when we have further knowledge of these Clauses, circumstances will have arisen which were not within the knowledge of the Committee when taking the general discussion. I would certainly not ask to have a debate on No. 2 Clause as a repetition of No.?