Order for Consideration of Lords Amendments read.
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Lords Amendments be now considered.
§ 4.13 p.m.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
May I ask your guidance, Mr. Speaker, as to what scope and latitude you will allow in the Debate upon the Question which has now been put? We have before us a very bulky pamphlet of Amendments, representing a great mass of business which, apparently, is to be examined by the House, and I submit that it might be for the greater convenience of the House, and that it certainly would involve no loss of Parliamentary time, if a general Debate were permitted on the Question which has now been put. The discussion of the various Amendments of substance could be abridged as much as possible thereafter. I should like to take your Ruling upon that suggestion.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I am as fully aware as the right hon. Gentleman of the bulky nature of this document, but the question as to what we discuss on this Motion is rather a matter for the convenience of the House. Strictly speaking, on a Motion as to whether the Lords Amendments be now considered, the discussion should be confined to reasons for and against consideration of the Lords Amendments—but that may be rather widely interpreted. If it is for the convenience of the House, I have no objection to a much wider discussion on this Motion, on the understanding that when the Amendments are reached they will not be discussed all over again. Of course the Amendments will be put separately, and if necessary a Division will be taken on every one of them.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
I see no particular purpose in having a general discussion ranging over the whole of this large number of Amendments, nor do I see how any Second Reading speech could possibly cover the whole of this body of Amendments. On the other hand, there are many points on which we on this side of the House disagree very strongly 2504 with the Lords Amendments which we wish to discuss.
§ Viscount WOLMER
Surely there is no incompatability between having a discussion now on the radical change that has been introduced into the Bill in another place and dealing with those issues, to which the right hon. Member for Limehouse (Mr. Attlee) has referred, when they come up on the several Amendments. Some of the Amendments made in another place have radically transformed the Bill and they might properly be discussed on this Motion. The detailed points to which the right hon. Member for Limehouse has referred could certainly be discussed when they come up.
§ 4.17 p.m.
§ Mr. ISAAC FOOT
On the point raised by the right hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill), I think it would be a pity if in the general discussion that he suggested such an important matter as the alteration of the method of election to the Council of State were taken. Reference has been made to radical alteration. That is a most substantial alteration made in another place. Before it can be discussed I am very anxious—and no doubt others share my view—to hear the alteration fully explained by the Minister in charge of the Bill, and if we have a general discussion now upon what has been done in another place, shall we not be shut out from that very real advantage? The change, when we come to discuss it, can only be debated by the House after its full effect has been explained by the Minister. Does the right hon. Member for Epping suggest that in the earlier and general discussion we should take that alteration within our purview?
§ 4.18 p.m.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
On the point of Order and procedure I would ask whether, on the Question "That the Lords Amendments be now considered," the House is not entitled to take a view of the Amendments collectively and of the general effect upon the Bill of this great series of Amendments. Each Amendment, it is true, has its separate significance, but the whole series of Amendments taken together raise the question whether in fact the Bill is substantially modified in this direction or that, and, whether the objections of this or that class are met by the whole set of Amendments together. 2505 I ask whether this Motion is not for the purpose of raising that general issue rather than that the House should embark upon detailed discussion of the Amend-merits without having had any chance of reviewing them as a whole?
§ Mr. CHARLES WILLIAMS
If we now have a general discussion which limits the discussion of points as they come up later, it will mean that we shall have a few long three-decker speeches and that certain people will have an advantage, but that when we come to discuss details the hon. Member who may be interested in a particular point raised by an Amendment will find himself ruled out entirely by the previous discussion. I put that point of view of the Private Member and ask that it may be considered.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I hope I can relieve the mind of my hon. Friend the Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams), by stating that as far as I am concerned I have no intention of speaking for more than 10 or 12 minutes at the outside.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I do not think the right hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) is quite accurate when he says that a general discussion on the Amendments is appropriate to a Motion "That the Lords Amendments be now considered." As a rule such a Motion is dealt with in a formal way and is agreed to without any discussion, and I should not like to make any alteration in that practice unless it were for the convenience of the House and by the general agreement of the House. From what I have heard on the point of Order it seems to me that there is not that general agreement in the House. Therefore, I do not think we can proceed with a general discussion. We had better take the Motion formally and proceed with the Amendments.
§ Viscount WOLMER
The whole House is grateful to the Under-Secretary of State for having circulated a Memorandum on the Amendments. It is very difficult to follow the Amendments as they are put from the Chair. Will he be so kind, before each Amendment is put from the Chair, to say whether it is a drafting Amendment or one of the 2506 Amendments of substance referred to in the Memorandum?
§ 4.22 p.m.
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for INDIA (Mr. Butler)
I shall certainly explain any Amendment which is other than a drafting or consequential Amendment. In the case of the drafting or consequential Amendments I shall merely say, "drafting," or "consequential" before the particular Amendment is put. I hope the House will find that the Memorandum is of use and value.
§ Lords Amendments considered accordingly.