HC Deb 20 November 1950 vol 481 cc111-2

Standing Order 39 (Notices of Amendments, etc.) read.

7.20 p.m.

The Lord President of the Council (Mr. Herbert Morrison)

I beg to move, as an Amendment to Standing Order No. 39, in line 11, to leave out paragraph (2).

I do not think that this Amendment is controversial. The effect of it is to prevent the tabling of Amendments to Bills before the Second Reading has taken place—that is to say, in the case of Amendments which would be taken in Committee to prevent them being tabled before the Second Reading has taken place. This merely re-establishes prewar practice. During the war there was a great need for expedition in legislation. Moreover, there were always possibilities of material delays in printing. For those reasons a practice was introduced whereby Amendments could be tabled before the Second Reading, so that the House had better notice of them. We varied the practice from Session to Session by the inclusion of the provision in Standing Orders on 4th November, 1947.

Experience has indicated that the admission of Committee Amendments before Second Reading has a slight tendency to divert discussion on the occasion of the Second Reading to Committee points rather than to Second Reading points. We think that, on the whole, it is best to revert to the pre-war practice. I understand that that is also Mr. Speaker's view as the result of his observations on our proceedings. I gather that this is not regarded as controversial, and I hope the House will be so good as to accept it.

Mr. Assheton (Blackburn, West)

This is one of the pre-war practices which we are very glad to see restored. I think the point which the Lord President made was a very sound one and one with which I know that you, Mr. Speaker, are also in sympathy. On this side of the House we have, therefore, great pleasure in supporting the Amendment.

Mr. David Renton (Huntingdon)

I wonder whether the Lord President, with the leave of the House, would reply to a question I should like to ask. I have, of course, a comparatively recent membership of the House—only for the last five years—and I do not remember the pre-war practice. In his brief introduction of the Amendment the Lord President mentioned only Committee Amendments. We have also what are called reasoned Amendments which are put down against Second Reading. If there is a technical distinction between Committee Amendments and reasoned Amendments, perhaps this would be an occasion for clarifying the point and making it clear that reasoned Amendments are not in any way affected by this proposal.

Mr. Morrison

If I have permission to address the House again, I would explain that the Amendments to which I referred, are Amendments to a Bill on the Committee stage. Reasoned Amendments, of course, are Amendments to the Motion for Second Reading and they are not in the least affected. The only Amendments which are affected by this proposal are those taken in Committee on a Bill on the Committee stage.

Question put, and agreed to.