§ Motion made, and. Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."
§ 11.46 p.m.
§ Mr. HOLDSWORTH
On a point of Order. Is it possible for us to give more intelligent application to the Bill than we can do when the Clauses are being put through at so rapid a pace?
§ Mr. HOLDSWORTH
I beg to move, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again".
I move to report Progress, not to cause trouble but to protest against Acts of Parliament going through at this terrific rate, and at a time when everybody wants to go home. Hon. Members are saying "Aye," when they do not even know what is being read. It seems to me to be an obsolutely wrong principle. I should like to assist the Patronage Secretary at any time, but seeing that there is another day when this business could be done, I think we ought to give adequate time to it.
§ 11.47 p.m.
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the TREASURY (Captain Margesson)
I think the Under-Secretary has answered any questions that have been put to him. If 113n. Members are in any doubt as to what is being done, and they will put their questions, he will do his best to explain. On a good many of these Clauses there are no Amendments and the Deputy Chairman has put the Clauses in the usual course. If any hon. Member rises in his place on the putting of the question, "That the Clause stand part," the Under-Secretary will again do his bust to explain. The majority of the Amendments set down are purely of a crafting nature and therefore it should not take us very long to dispose of the remaining Clauses.
§ 11.48 p.m.
§ Mr. GARRO JONES
I have no wish to prolong the proceedings unduly, but I think the Patronage Secretary was 2365 overstating the case when he suggested that it was the duty of the Opposition to inaugurate discussion on important Clauses. As I understand the procedure, in matters of routine, Consequential Amendments and so on, the Chair puts the Question, without any explanation being offered from the Government Front Bench, but where any matter of substance has to be put before the House it is the common. Practice for the Minister to tell us what it is all about. We have here Clauses which have been passed at a rate which is rapid even considering the subject we are discussing. We are dealing with a considerable number of important matters which ought not to be passed at the speed at which we have passed the last six Clauses. May I call the attention of the Committee to those Clauses? Hon. Members will find them, for convenience of reference, in the arrangement of Clauses. Can anybody tell me what Clause we are on?
The hon. Gentleman cannot raise Clauses which have already been passed by the Committee.
§ Mr. GARRO JONES
I am not raising them; I am only endeavouring to find out which clause we are on. We are going to pass in about five minutes eight clauses, every one of which is important. Clause 22 (Management and disposal of land vested in Secretary of State for purposes of Civil Aviation) —surely that should be carefully considered by the Committee. Clause 23 is important. Then there are Clauses 24 to 31, eight clauses which I believe the Government wish to get to-night. How far are the Government proposing to go? At this hour it would be a good thing if we were to postpone any further discussion until we have time to go into the matter thoroughly. I do not wish to embarrass the Government, because we on these benches are gateful for an extremely unusual happening in this Parliament. We have been able to secure a promise from the Government that they will consider the views of the 2366 people who are supposed to be passing this legislation. Therefore, I am extremely gratified with the action of the Government, but I think that they should agree not to press this Bill any further to-night. It is an extremely unpopular Bill. It has an enormous amount of opposition in this country. [HON. MEMBERS: "No !"] There is a great amount of opposition in quarters which understand what the Bill is going to do. I know hon. Members voted in favour of the Bill, but the voting, I regret to say, was not a true criterion of the views of hon. Members opposite. I say that quite inoffensively, but it is beyond dispute that time and again in this Parliament hon. Members have made speeches expressing their greatest doubts about some proposals and even their convinced opposition, but when it comes to voting they have faded away into thin air. I ask only for reasonable treatment of this Bill.
§ 11.54 p.m.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Sir John Simon)
I would assure my hon. Friend that we want to do what is reasonable. If the Clauses we are now approaching were Clauses which raised, as the Order Paper might show, matters of controversy, there would be great force in what the hon. Gentleman says, but one is entitled to judge this by looking at the Order Paper as well as at the Clauses themselves. The Bill has been before the House for some time, and we all know the proper care which hon. Gentlemen have exercised in examining it. I do not dispute that there are points for elaborate discussion, The discussion has been very helpful. As far as the printed clauses are concerned we are reaching Clauses which are of a supplementary character. The best proof that they are not regarded as raising points which require elaborate discussion is that there is not a single comment upon them on the Order Paper. When we come to the new Clauses, that is a serious matter, and it is not proposed to enter upon them to-night. If we can get to the end of the Clauses in the Bill it will be a. piece of work which by cooperation of hon. Members opposite we can fairly well do, and I do not think it is asking too much. Time must be provided after the holiday for dealing with the new Clauses.
§ Mr. HOLDSWORTH
I am much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman. I could not see how we could possibly get through the Order Paper to-night. I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Motion.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.