§ Considered in Committee [THIRTEENTH DAY—Progress, 27 th March],
§ [Sir DENNIS HERBERT in the Chair.]
May I suggest to the Committee that they should endeavour to get to the end of Part VII to-night? If we can do that we shall, I think, practically have saved one of the extra days that we have used. Consideration of the Amendments lead me to suppose that that is not an impracticable suggestion, in view of the fact that there are one or two important points, possibly three, arising on the Amendments on the Order Paper dealing with Part VII where I think I shall have to suggest to the Committee that the discussion might be more conveniently taken at some later stage of the Bill. If that be the case there is all the more reason for trying to save time on what I described yesterday as minor Amendments which do not raise great questions of principle.
§ 3.41 p.m.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
Subject to your observations to the Committee, surely it is asking too much of the Committee to go so far as the end of Part VII to-night. That would take us up to Clause 174. It means an enormous hurrying through the necessary business, and in view of the way in which the Government are forcing this matter from day to day and departing from the spirit and principle on which this matter should have been conducted—[HON. MEMBERS: "No!"]—I say yes; I do not think you will really be well advised in counting on our making that amount of progress to-night, although we shall no doubt try our best to do so. The attempt to carry Clauses in great batches, in long hops, when ten to fifteen Clauses are taken or may be taken in a single bound, presupposes that ample opportunity will be given to those Members who are participating in this arrangement to consider the effect of skipping so many Clauses. When a number of Clauses are passed by a single Motion from the Chair, by general consent, those hon. Members who are responsible for seeing that the Bill is adequately discussed must have an opportunity of considering not only what is discussed but, still more, what is withheld from discussion. Otherwise 2096 we may find some very serious hiatus arising in the procedure on, the Bill. Therefore, I do not think that we can reach anything like the end of Part VII to-night. It may be that our business may lag if we are supposed to watch with special care what we are doing on account of the way in which the matter has been forced upon us.
§ 3.43 p.m.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for INDIA (Sir Samuel Hoare)
I am sorry that my right hon. Friend has made the suggestion that we have been guilty of a breach of faith. I can assure him that there is no breach of faith.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I never said anything about a breach of faith. The right hon. Gentleman is always using this sort of method. You make a modest criticism, and up he gets and says: "You accuse us of a breach of faith." I said that what was being done was not in harmony with the spirit of the arrangement.
§ Sir S. HOARE
I will take my right hon. Friend's words, that it is not in harmony with the spirit of the arrangement. It is in full harmony with the spirit of the arrangement. In the discussions that took place in the business committee upstairs there never was any suggestion that the Government might not be compelled from time to time to take an extra number of days in one or other week. There was no suggestion to the contrary. Apart from that, the Government have not pushed this Bill through without adequate discussion. All that was said from the Chair was an appeal to the Committee to expedite the procedure as far as possible. That is what the Government wish to do. That is the spirit in which the Government approach the discussion to-day and will approach subsequent discussions.
May I remind the right hon. Member for Epping (Mr. Churchill) that, with regard to the putting of Clauses in blocks, that is only done where there is neither an Amendment to be called nor any notice of opposition to the Clauses. I have been careful hitherto in putting Clauses in blocks to make certain that there has not been any Member of the Committee who wished to discuss a particular Clause. I am sorry that the right hon. 2097 Gentleman apparently differs so strongly from my view as to what is possible for to-day, but I still venture to hold the view that the intensive examination which I have given to the Amendments during the last 24 hours may perhaps turn out to justify my opinion.
§ 3.46 p.m.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
Far be it from me not to pay every tribute to the manner in which you have facilitated the working of this difficult and very important arrangement, but the fact that on a large block of Clauses there are no Amendments—an Amendment could be put down in a few minutes—is a proof of the desire of hon. Members, after careful consideration, to facilitate the procedure on the Bill as much as possible. The mere fact that no Amendment has appeared to any of these Clauses which are put in a group in no way means that there has not been heart-searching about it. It means that with a view to trying to make a success of the arrangement for getting the Bill through hon. Members have been willing not to press Amendments. If, however, we are to go through the process of endeavouring to help forward the actual progress of a Bill which we consider so disastrous to the country, we must do it within limits, and it is all the more necessary that we should not be hustled by sitting de die in diem. It is not possible in those circumstances to exercise a proper study of the Bill both from the point of view of what must be raised, and from the point of view of what may be done and what may be dismissed without debate. I venture very respectfully to make these observations in consequence of the statement which you have made with a view to helping the Committee.
§ 3.48 p.m.
When I gave way to the right hon. Gentleman, I had only one further sentence I desired to say and that is to express recognition of the way in which the carrying on, of business has been helped in all quarters of the Committee, and I would now express the hope that after—shall I call it—this little conversation we shall get on with as much good temper as possible and as little obstruction as hitherto and also with no more hustling than is proper and that we shall try to get as far as we can to-night.
§ Lieut.-Colonel ACLAND-TROYTE
May I ask a question with regard to business? I believe that under the guillotine Friday counts only as a half-day. Does this apply to the arrangement under which we are now working?