HL Deb 27 November 1917 vol 27 cc1-2

My Lords, I rise to ask your consent to the Motion which stands in my name for the suspension of Standing Order No. XXXIX for the purposes of this day's sitting. This Motion will apply to both of the Bills that are before your Lordships' House—the Air Force Bill, and the Parliament and Local Elections (No. 2) Bill. About the latter I need hardly say a word, because your Lordships are perfectly well aware of the considerations which render it indispensable that this Bill should receive the Royal Assent in the early part of the present week.

As regards the Air Force Bill, I hope that your Lordships will be willing to take the whole of the remaining stages this day—for three reasons. In the first place, the unification of the two Forces, the Royal Naval Air Service and the Royal Flying Corps, which has been the subject of close examination by Committees for some time past, is suspended until this Bill can be carried into law. It is extremely desirable that further delay should be avoided, and that the energies of the unified Forces should be directed to the great work that lies before them. The second reason is this. Since the Second Reading of the Bill was taken, as your Lordships are aware, my noble friend who sits upon my left (Lord Rothermere) has assumed the office of the first Air Minister; and, seeing him here, I am sure I may say on behalf of the whole House that we wish him every success in the extremely onerous and responsible duties which he is about to undertake. The first task that will devolve upon my noble friend will be that of selecting the members of the future Air Council provided for in this Bill. That is an essential step which ought to be taken without the slightest delay; and that consideration alone would, I am sure, induce your Lordships to agree to the Motion that I make. The third reason for which I press the point is this—that in another place the utmost stress was laid upon the urgency of this case, and the House of Commons passed the Bill through all its stages with exemplary rapidity. It then came to your Lordships' House, and, although you are the entire judges of your own procedure, I am sure your Lordships would not wish to be one whit behind the House of Commons in recognising the gravity of the case. For these reasons I hope that your Lordships will agree to this Motion, which I now make, in its application to both of these Bills.

Moved, That Standing Order No. XXXIX be considered in order to its being suspended for this day's sitting.—(Earl Curzon of Kedleston.)

On Question, Motion agreed to, and ordered accordingly.