HL Deb 10 December 1908 vol 198 cc673-5

My Lords, I should like to ask the Leader of the House a Question of which, I understand, he has received private notice—namely, whether, in view of the statement made by the Prime Minister that we are face to face with the prorogation next week, he considers that this House will be prepared to get through the very large amount of contentious business indicated by the Government so as to enable the prorogation to take place at that date.


My Lords, I am happy to reply to the Question of the noble Lord, of which I have received a kind of vicarious notice. The noble Lord, I think, will see that it is very difficult to reply with any certainty to his question. Until we know what Amendments are put down to the two important Bills which the House will have under consideration next week, what the character of those Amendments is, and how long the discussion is likely to take upon them, it is very difficult to say whether the Prime Minister's forecast is likely to be fulfilled. My right hon. friend used these words, that the House might be face to face with the prorogation; but, of course, it is possible to be face to face with a thing and not to be in absolutely close approximation to it. We cannot, I think, altogether disregard the possibility of the House having to sit into the following week if it should turn out that Amendments are made in this House of a far-reaching character to either of the important Bills to which I have referred. More than that I cannot say at present.


My Lords, I think it is fortunate that the noble Earl has qualified the some what optimistic statement made in the House of Commons by the Prime Minister. The noble Earl has said, with great force, that it is quite impossible to predict with any approach to certainty that our business will be completed next week. I am afraid that even that, unless I greatly misapprehend the amount of work which lies before us, is a some what sanguine estimate. The noble Earl last night assumed that we would take the Second Reading of the Port of London Bill on Monday and the Second Reading of the Coal Mines (Eight Hours) Bill on Tuesday. That would leave us four days for the whole of the remaining stages of those two important measures, in which many of your Lordships take a great interest, for two or three other Bills which have yet to be disposed of, and, last but not least, for the discussion of Amendments which your Lordships have made in Bills that have already gone to the House of Commons and of Amendments which your Lordships may make in the Bills that have yet to come before us. To suppose that that amount of business could be forced through your Lordships' House in the compass of four days seems to me to be a really extravagant anticipation. I really rose because I think it is for the convenience of the House that noble Lords should be aware that, in our opinion, it will be absolutely necessary, unless some entirely new development takes place, that the House should sit on at least two days of the week following.