HC Deb 22 July 1964 vol 699 cc482-3
Mr. M. Foot

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Would it be in order for me to ask, through you, whether the Leader of the House will be making a statement today on business, in view of the rearrangement of the business of the House for the Malta Independence Bill and of the questions which were asked yesterday about the possibility of postponing the Committee stage of the Bill?

I raise the point partly because it was said by the Leader of the House yesterday that this was a short Bill. As I understand, it is a quite considerable Bill. I should have thought that an important question arises for the House, namely, whether it is possible for the Committee stage to be held later. I would, therefore, ask whether the Leader of the House would make a statement on this matter today, because if it were to be left till tomorrow it would be very difficult for the House to alter its proceedings if it felt that they were being unwisely taken.

Mr. Speaker

I have had no intimation of any intention to make a statement on business.

The Lord Privy Sea! (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd)

May I be permitted to respond, in view of the fact that this is a question which has been asked by some other hon Members? It will be the intention to move the suspension of the rule for the later stages of the Bill.

Mr. Foot

Would the right hon. and learned Gentleman answer the House on this point? I referred to this earlier in my point of order, but now that the right hon. and learned Gentleman has made that statement I would put it directly to him. Yesterday he told the House that this was a short Bill. I have not seen the Bill. I do not think anybody officially has seen it, but I understand that it consists of two or three pages. It is, therefore, not really a short Bill.

Is it not unprecedented to pass a Bill of this importance, not merely speedily, but by taking all its stages immediately one after another at the same sitting? Would the Leader of the House not seriously consider whether the later stages of the Bill should be taken, say, next week? Will it not be possible for the House to sit another day if necessary? This is not, after all, an insignificant matter. It affects the future of a British territory.

Mr. Lloyd

I am aware of the hon. Gentleman's point of view. I think that we shall have to see how we get on.