§ As amended (in the Standing Committee) considered.
§ Mr. CHARLES WILLIAMS
May I ask for your guidance, Sir, on. a point of Order. I have always been given to understand that the object of sending Bills to Standing Committee was to relieve the House of work. We are now faced on the Report stage of a Bill with a large number of new Clauses, new Schedules and Amendments. May I ask whether the Standing Committees are really for the purpose of relieving the House of a vast amount of work, and what is the position if we are to go on having an immense amount of work put on to our shoulders on the Report stage in this way.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. Member is quite right. The Committee stage of a Bill is a stage in which Amendments are put into the Bill. The Order Paper would lead me to think that some of them, at least were not considered in Committee, but were left over to the Report stage. For my own sake, I should be very glad if it were otherwise; it is undesirable that so much should be put on to the Report stage, and is a practice that we ought not to encourage.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
May I take it that it is clear that there should be a general endeavour on the part of Standing Committees upstairs to get as much of the amending of the Bill done as is humanly possible. Am I correct in thinking that that is right?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The Report stage should be one on which we should do what has been left over from the Committee.
§ The MINISTER of HEALTH (Sir Hilton Young)
Perhaps I may offer a 1478 word of explanation. It is recognised, of course, that in normal cases the maximum of work that can be done should be completed on the Committee stage. In the case of this Bill, as the hon. Member knows—we had the advantage of his attendance in a Committee of which he was not a member—there were very exceptional circumstances. This Bill was introduced in conditions which made it seem right to me—I certainly do not in the least apologise for it—to take the fullest possible advantage of the discussions in order to obtain the best possible Bill. The reason why so much is left for final formulation at the Report stage is simply this. This is a new sphere of legislation in which there is very little precedent. It is a matter of the greatest possible intricacy and difficulty to find a satisfactory and correct draft. I believe it would not have been in the interest of good legislation, and it would not really have saved the time of the House, to rush matters rapidly in Committee, and I believe we have saved the time of the House in the long run, in addition to making for better legislation, by taking a little longer time to consider the actual words and putting them down on Report.
§ Mr. WILLIAMS
Of course, I do not impute blame to anyone, and I fully accept the right hon. Gentleman's explanation in all its details. It is essential that the House should give careful consideration particularly where there are no precedents.