HL Deb 11 April 1918 vol 29 cc659-60

My Lords, I wish to ask the noble Earl the Leader of the House a Question of which I have given him private notice. The adjourned debate on the principle of a League of Nations is on the Paper for next Wednesday. I do not wish to keep it there if any inconvenience would arise, and I should like to ask the noble Earl whether he thinks it would be desirable to postpone it until a later date.


My Lords, the Question of the noble Lord enables me at the same time to make a statement, which in any case I should have desired to do, about the probable course of business in this House with regard to the Military Service Bill. A Motion is now being discussed in another place which, if it is carried, will ensure that the measure leaves the House of Commons on the evening of Tuesday next. If that be so, I propose to ask your Lordships, at a formal sitting for the purpose, to give it a First Reading that evening. Then I should hope, in view of the great urgency of the matter and the desirability of having no delay, that your Lordships may be willing to take the Second Reading on Wednesday. You will all be familiar with the general character and provisions of the Bill, and will, I think, be in a position to take the Second Reading on that day. If your Lordships are willing to do that, for the same reasons I should be disposed to ask you to pass the Bill through its remaining stages on the next day—that is, on Thursday. However, that is a matter about which I do not think we need arrive at a final decision at this moment. Should this programme be pursued, it is clear that Wednesday next—the day for which the adjourned debate on Lord Parmoor's Motion is fixed—will be otherwise occupied; and therefore I think it will be in accord with the general convenience of the House that there should be a postponement of the discussion to which the noble Lord referred. In these circumstances I should be very glad to fall in with his suggestion, and to take the adjourned debate on the question of a League of Nations at a later day—say a fortnight from that date—as proposed by the noble Lord in the remarks that he has just made.


I propose, having regard to what the noble Earl has said, to take my Motion off the Paper for Wednesday next, and to postpone it for a fortnight.