§ Order read for consideration of Lords Amendments.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Lords Amendments be now considered.—[Mr. P. Thorneycroft.]
§ 4.2 p.m.
§ Sir Lynn Ungoed-Thomas (Leicester, North-East)
It is unusual to address oneself to this Motion, but, as I have a grouse, I propose to do so very briefly.
There are nearly 60 Lords Amendments set down for consideration. The first time they appeared on the Order Paper was on Friday morning. That was the first time that we had had the Amendments laid out in a way in which they were capable of convenient consideration by the Opposition. It is true that, by going through everything done in another place, it has been possible, with great labour and the expenditure of considerable time, to work out what the Amendments are, but that is not the way to treat the House. We have also had the advantage of notes upon the Amendments which have very kindly been provided by the President of the Board of Trade. I must say that it would have saved a little time if he had sent them direct to those of us who are concerned instead of sending them through the usual channels.
This has meant very considerable inconvenience to us in considering the Amendments. There is a great number of them. I agree at once that many of them are drafting, but they all have to be worked through. My hon. Friends and I cannot simply accept the ipse dixit of even the helpful memorandum from the President of the Board of Trade; we have to work through the Amendments and see how they fit in. We have to consider each one of them, even the drafting ones. Not having the Lords Amendments in a convenient form until such a late time as Friday morning, when a considerable number of hon. Members have engagements in the country and have to leave Westminster, it has been impossible to give adequate consideration to a Bill of the complexity of this one, with this number of Amendments, in the time which has been available. It is not treating the House with consideration or even with 931 courtesy. I am not charging that against the President himself—certainly not, because I know he has to work to a timetable which is set down for him by his rather more powerful right hon. Friend—but it is not right that we should have to deal with the Lords Amendments in this way.
My hon. Friends and I, as the President knows perfectly well, have co-operated on this Bill the whole way through in order to enable us to have proper consideration of complexities which affect nearly all our industry, and it is important that all these matters should continue to receive proper consideration, not only from the Government but also from the Opposition. Such consideration cannot be given to the Amendments, and has not been given to them, except at the very greatest inconvenience. It is scant courtesy and complete lack of consideration to produce Amendments like this for the first time on Friday morning and expect us to meet on Monday and do our best upon them—which we shall, of course, endeavour to do.
I warn the President that it will now take more time to have the Amendments explained at this stage than it would have done if my right hon. and hon. Friends and I had had adequate time to consider them. If we had had time to do so, doubtless we could have taken a great many of the Amendments on the nod. As it is, on going through the Amendments there have been matters which we have queried and to which we have not had time to work out the full answer, and we shall expect answers as we go through the Amendments today.
§ The President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Peter Thorneycroft)
I do not for a moment say that there is no substance in the point put by the hon. and learned Member for Leicester, North-East (Sir L. Ungoed-Thomas.) These are complicated matters. I myself find them complicated. I fully appreciate that it is not easy to take a mass of Amendments over a very wide field and study them at short notice. I hoped that the short memorandum which we made available as an ordinary courtesy of debate to the hon. and learned Gentleman might be of some assistance.
All quarters of the House have cooperated very well in the passage of the Bill, with the result that the Measure has 932 been greatly improved. We are in a sense, as the hon. and learned Gentleman said, rather the prisoners of our position at this stage in the Session. I can assure him that there was no conscious discourtesy on my part. I myself should have preferred a little more time. All I can say is that I will do my very best in this complicated matter, as I have done throughout our discussions, to make such knowledge as we have on these matters available to the House.
§ Question put and agreed to.
§ Lords Amendments considered accordingly.