HC Deb 25 June 1936 vol 313 cc2106-12

I beg to move, in page 49, line 21, column 3, after "six," to insert "sub-section (2) of section eight."

This Amendment is consequential upon the insertion in the Bill of a new Clause relating to the carrying on of subsidiary businesses.

Amendment agreed to.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."


May I ask the Leader of the House whether he can make any statement with regard to the further business to-night?


We have asked the House to give us the Third Reading of this Bill to-night and I understand the agreement to be that in that case we would not ask that the Cattle Order should be taken to-night.

10.46 p.m.

Captain GUEST

I beg to move, "That the Debate be now adjourned."

The matters involved in the Third Reading of this Bill are important and cannot easily be dealt with in the time now at our disposal. I suggest that it is unwise to begin the discussion on the Third Reading of a Bill of this character at this hour, and I move this Motion in order to make my protest. I cannot say from what quarter support for it may come.

10.47 p.m.


I wish to make my protest against the practice which has now become almost universal of taking the Third Reading of a Bill immediately after the Report stage. We have made many alterations in the Bill and I suggest that we should have an opportunity of considering it in its amended form before giving it a Third Reading. The Bill has still to be considered in another place and we have a right to suppose that the Members in another place sometimes read our speeches.


At any rate it is better than reading their own.


We have the right to hope, in any case, that the reflections which may occur to us on Third Reading will have some influence upon the Amendments that will be put down in another place. If that is not a reasonable conclusion, one is driven to ask why is there another place. With every respect to the Leader of the House I submit to him that, having spent the whole evening on the details of this Bill, our minds are changing upon it and that we ought to have an opportunity of considering afresh the whole scheme of the Measure. If we discuss it now, it will be impossible to see the wood for the trees. Our minds are still preoccupied with the details and it will be impossible for us to have that wide survey of the principles of the Bill which is appropriate to a Third Reading discussion. I respectfully submit that the right hon. Gentleman would be meeting the wishes of the House if he postponed the Third Reading to a more suitable time, when justice could be done to the important matters involved.

10.49 p.m.


I also appeal to the Government to postpone the Third Reading. I do so from no desire on the part of the Opposition to hold up Government business. The Measure, although it has many controversial aspects, has been generally supported in all sections of the House. I do not think that the Solicitor-General or the Under-Secretary can complain about the progress made on the Report stage. The other point raised by my hon. Friend seems to be important. It is a growing practice to take the Third Reading of a Measure immediately after the Report stage. The purpose, it seems to me, of the various stages is that after the alteration of Bills and the reporting of those alterations to the House there ought to be time for consideration in the minds of Members of the Bill in its new form, and that cannot be done without some time in between the Report stage and the Third Reading. For those reasons I urge on behalf of the Labour party that this reasonable Motion be accepted.

10.51 p.m.


When the Leader of the Opposition was asking the Prime Minister about business a few days ago and raised this very point of the Third Reading following the Report stage the Prime Minister told us that he would review the situation as it arose and that if the Report stage slipped through he would ask us to have the Third Reading. I do not think that anybody can say that the Report stage has been unduly delayed, and here we are at 11 o'clock, and I am certain that if the Prime Minister were here he would not consider this a reasonable hour to start the Third Reading. It is true that Members on the Government Front Bench think that this is a Measure like others, and that the only thing to do is to get it through, but there are many people who look on this as something of tremendous importance to this country. I know that aviation is a nuisance, but for the first time we are considering civil aviation. This is not an armament but some great influence for the peace of the world, and after a gruelling day to be faced suddenly with the Third Reading is unfair on those who are interested in this Bill.

10.53 p.m.


May I join hon. Members and ask the leader of the House whether we cannot postpone the Third Reading to some other opportunity? We want to study all these Amendments which we have passed and go into them carefully.


I hope that the Home Secretary will agree to the appeal that has been made to him. I am sure that Members who, like myself, have sat through the Debate will agree that no one can suggest that there has been the slightest obstruction. There has been quite as much speaking from the Government side of the House as from the Opposition, in a friendly endeavour to make this Bill the best possible Bill in the interests of the country, and in his opening remarks to-day the Under-Secretary thanked Members in all parts of the House for the way suggestions had been made in Committee and had enabled him to put these various Amendments on the Paper to-day, and it is hardly fair to expect Members, many of whom would desire to speak on the Third Reading, to start such a discussion flow. I sincerely hope that the Home Secretary will recognise the spirit in which he is being met by Members in all parties.

10.54 p.m.


I admit at once, as far as I have followed the earlier stages of this Debate—and I have been following them both inside and outside the House—that our discussion has been carried on in a perfectly reasonable way, and I quite admit that important changes have been made in the Bill in the course of the Report stage. The object we all have—and certainly the object which the Patronage Secretary and I have, in the absence of the Prime Minister—is to get the business of the House properly dealt with, and at the same time to realise what is the programme we have to fulfil. When I was asked by the Leader of the Opposition just now what proposals we had regarding the rest of the business to-night I understood from him that he was of the view that we might perhaps take the Third Reading on receiving an assurance that nothing else would be taken. It was on the assumption that that was the foundation of his intervention at that moment that I gave the answer that I did. I perhaps should have been more prudent and have first got from him a specific statement. But that is neither here nor there.

This is a matter for the House as a whole, and, of course, hon. Members interested in this most important subject in several parts of the House would prefer that the Third Reading were taken on another occasion. Very well, but I must make it quite plain to the House that while we will certainly meet what I think is the real wish of the House to-night, it is quite impossible to undertake that there shall be time given for the Third Reading such as might have been, I think, taken now, and it may be that we shall have to take the Third Reading by making some special arrangement. I hope not, but the Cattle Order down for to-night, which would have been taken if we had had any idea that this was the view of Members of the House, cannot very well be taken now to-night. Therefore, though, of course, we will do everything possible to meet the general wishes of the House with regard to this Third Reading stage, I am sure hon. Members in all parts of the House will realise that we must get through the business to which we are potentially committed, and that it means a further loading of the programme for some future date. That is a matter which will be discussed, I am sure, through the usual channels with every desire to meet the general convenience. Having given that warning to the House, I am prepared to agree that we shall not ask for the Third Reading tonight, and at the same time, of course, I shall not seek to retract the assurance which I gave across the Floor, apparently under a misapprehension, namely, that we would not to-night endeavour to take the Cattle Order.

10.57 p.m.


It is a very difficult thing in an overloaded programme to see how everything can be fitted in, but we warned the Government at the time that they had a very heavy programme in trying to take both stages of this Bill and also the Cattle Order to-night. The Cattle Order is a very important Order, and it is a matter which raises debate on all sides of the House. So does the Third Reading of this Bill, and the right hon. Gentleman will remember that I specifically pointed out that it would be difficult to take the Third Reading immediately after the Report stage, I think it is clear that it is the general view that we should take the Third Reading on another day. At the same time it is not the Opposition's fault that the programme is overloaded. There have been many hours lost this Session, not in any way owing to the fault of the Opposition, but because of the way in which the Government business has been handled. I think both these matters are very important, both the Third Reading of the Air Navigation Bill and the Cattle Order, and we must try to get them taken at a proper time.

10.49 p.m.

Captain GUEST

May I thank the Government and the Patronage Secretary for having given way to the feeling of the House? It is not so much that one is disinclined to talk on the Third Reading late at night, but it is hard to do so after a prolonged Debate on the Report stage. I would like to register my thanks to the Leader of the House and the Patronage Secretary for the action they have taken.

Debate to be resumed Tomorrow.

Bill, as amended (on re-committal and on Consideration) to be printed. [Bill 141.]

The remaining Orders were read, and postponed.

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