HL Deb 22 July 1909 vol 2 cc684-5

My Lords, I have given private notice to the noble Earl that I would ask him this evening whether he could give any information as to the course of business in this House during the next few weeks. I think with that limitation as to time the question is not an unreasonable one. Of course, if I were to interrogate the noble Earl as to remoter possibilities he would probably meet me with a non possumus; but there are certain measures in which the House takes an interest as to which I think he will probably be able to give us at any rate some information. He has announced the date upon which he will take the Union of South Africa Bill. Upon that point, therefore, we are informed. But there are one or two Bills of importance, such as the Labour Exchanges Bill and the London Elections Bill, which, I fancy, are pretty well advanced in another place. Besides that, there are two Bills of really first-rate importance which in ordinary sessions would be regarded as the main measures of the year —the Housing and Town Planning Bill and the Irish Land Bill. It would be most convenient, I am sure, to the whole House if we could form any idea whether these Bills are likely to come to us in what I may describe as the near future.


I am much obliged to the noble Marquess for having given me notice of this Question. It is quite true that as far as regards what we may call the ultimate course of the session, I am not in a position to say anything definite. Indeed, if the noble Marquess had put a question to me on that subject I should have been almost disposed to reply not perhaps with a non possumus so much as by asking him in turn whether he could give me any information on that subject, because he knows at any rate as much about it as I do. With regard to more immediate business, assuming the South Africa Bill takes only one evening, it is proposed to take the Second Reading of the Trade Boards Bill on the following evening, the 28th. It is hoped that this Bill and the Assurance Companies Bill will have passed through all their stages by August 5. Then there is the Appropriation Bill, which ought, I think, to reach this House by August 10. That, of course, is a somewhat formal matter, unless your Lordships desire to raise any discussion upon it, and therefore that, perhaps, need not be taken into special consideration. The Labour Exchanges Bill ought to reach this House by July 30, and it might, I think, be possible to take at any rate the Second Reading of that Bill before August 5, which is the date on which it seems possible that we might adjourn for a short time. I should propose that we should adjourn on the 5th until the 12th, for the Appropriation Bill, and that from that time onwards, in the absence of any business coming from another place, we should adjourn for a week at a time. I do not think it would be advisable to attempt any long formal adjournment because, as your Lordships know, once the House is adjourned there is no possibility, however urgent business may be, of causing it to meet. Therefore I suggest that we should formally adjourn for a week at a time. As regards the Housing and Town Planning Bill and the Irish Land Bill, I think there is no prospect of either of those measures appearing here before August 23. Therefore I think we may safely assume that no business of importance at any rate will reach this House before that date.