§ Order of the Day for receiving the Report of Amendments, read.
§ Moved, That this Report be now received.—(Viscount Peel.)
THE MARQUESS OF CREWE
I understand from the statement which the noble Earl the Lord Privy Seal made last night that this Motion was placed upon the 1153 Paper not so much with a desire of proceeding with the Report stage, of the measure to-day as with the object of granting further discussion upon the points which were raised in the first instance by myself, and afterwards pressed more strongly by my noble friend Lord Salisbury, as to the days on which the further discussion should be taken. We pointed out that the day—Monday next—which was proposed by His Majesty's Government appeared to offer a somewhat brief interval for the consideration of the considerable changes which affect the Bill before it can be considered at its next stage. The noble Earl the Lord Privy Seal, in a powerful reply, combatted the arguments of the noble Marquess behind me, and endeavoured to prove that as a matter of fact the discussion would not be concerned with matters of great moment, but that, although certain comparatively important points had been allowed to stand over, there was no reason why the interval to Monday should not be quite adequate for the necessary preparation. I do not think that my noble friend Lord Salisbury was in any way convinced by the arguments of the noble Earl, and I should be glad to know what the intentions of His Majesty's Government are. No doubt the Lord President will inform us with regard to the general business of the House in the early days of next week. The only fact which I lake to be established was a definite statement by the noble Earl the Lord Privy Seal that the Non-ferrous Metals Bill would be taken on Tuesday.
THE MARQUESS OF CREWE
Put down for Tuesday. The remaining course of business was left in a somewhat fluid condition, and I have no doubt that the noble Earl the Lord President will be able to solidify it to some extent.
§ THE LORD PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL (EARL CURZON OF KEDLESTON)
My Lords, the noble Marquess who leads the Opposition has referred to what passed at the close of our proceedings last night. I had not myself the good fortune to be here, but I have no doubt that the summary he has given of what passed describes what then took place. My noble friend the Lord Privy Seal on that occasion proposed to 1154 your Lordships that you should take the Report stage of this Bill upon Monday, and to that serious objection was offered by more than one noble Lord who has taken an active part in this debate from that [the Opposition] side of the House. The matter has been under the careful consideration of my colleagues and myself this morning, and I will give to the House some further reasons for thinking my noble friend was justified in the line that he took.
In the first place, may I briefly summarise to your Lordships what have been the successive stages of this Bill, and the time that has been devoted to them. I do so, not because it directly affects the point of the day on which we take the Report stage, but because I think it will demonstrate to your Lordships and to the public that every desire has been shown to meet your wishes and your convenience in the matter, and that in no respect, and at no stage, have you been at all hurried in the discussion of this important Bill. The first Reading of the Bill was taken on December 11. I then, at the special request of several noble Lords, postponed the Second Heading for the best part of a week, until December 17. We discussed it on Second Reading for three days December 17, 18, and 19. Then, again at the request of noble Lords who wished for a sufficiently long interval in the period of the vacation to consider what Amendments they might move. I gave the best part of three weeks between Second Reading and Committee, which began on January 8. Your Lordships have devoted ten days in Committee to the consideration of this measure. I have not one word to say about, and still less against, the strictly business-like and fair-minded way in which you conducted the discussion of this measure at that stage. But I do not think it can be said that our proceedings have been characterised by any excessive speed. Indeed, your Lordships may perhaps be aware that comments, not altogether favourable, have been passed outside upon the rather leisurely way in which we are thought to have proceeded. I am not quite certain that there is not some slight foundation for that suspicion, because I find, on looking at the reports of our proceedings, that on several days in the earlier stages of the Committee we did not sit for much more than four hours in the afternoon, while later on, when we sat after dinner, I do not think that on any occasion your Lordships devoted more than six hours to the discussion of this measure.
1155 We now propose an interval of four days between the completion of the Committee stage last night and the taking of Report, if you are willing to agree to our proposals upon Monday. The question is whether that interval is enough. What are the subjects which remain to be considered in the interval, and which we shall be invited to take in hand on Monday afternoon? As I understand, they fall into the following categories. There are, first, a number of Amendments which my noble friend Lord Peel, who is in charge of the Bill, agreed himself to introduce on Report, in order to meet representations that were addressed to him from different quarters of the House. I do not imagine that there will either be any great trouble in preparing them, or time consumed at a later stage in discussing them. Then there were two points raised by the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Burleigh, yesterday evening relating to Scotland, which were postponed to the Report stage, and upon which, again, I am told by my noble friend that he does not think any prolonged discussion to be necessary. Then there was the Amendment of my noble and gallant friend Lord Beresford, proposing the exclusion of Ireland—a matter which he patriotically was willing to postpone, both because he did not want to have anything said on the matter here while the Irish Convention was still sitting, and because only a small number of Irish Peers were present. Fourthly, there was the Schedule promised by my noble friend Lord Selborne, I understand that that Schedule, which I have not myself seen, has already been handed in, and that it will be ready to be circulated to your Lordships with the Papers to-morrow. No more time, therefore, will be required for the preparation of that document. As regards its consideration upon Monday, I hardly think it will be necessary to have a long debate upon the matter, or indeed much debate at all. The Schedule seems to me to be consequential upon the Amendment of Lord Selborne to which your Lordships gave your adhesion. I am not aware that we shall desire to discuss it at all on this side of the House.
§ EARL CURZON OF KEDLESTON
I am obliged to the noble Earl for correcting 1156 me; but the whole, I understand, will be ready to be circulated to-morrow. I was saying that we on this side will have little, if anything at all, to say about the Schedule, and I do not imagine that he, after he gained his principal point the other day, will have very much to say on the matter himself. Lastly there is the Motion of which the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Burleigh, gave notice yesterday afternoon, and which will come up for discussion. That is already upon the Paper, and therefore, as regards that, there is ample time for your Lordships to consider it before the beginning of next week.
It appears to me, if my list is correct, and if, as I think, it is exhaustive, that really no prolonged preparation or consideration is required before your Lordships proceed to discuss upon Report all of these matters. I think Lord Crawford must have been quite right if he argued—as the noble Marquess said he did—that the big questions of principle have already been disposed of, and that there is no reason why your Lordships should not proceed with the remainder on Monday.
But there is a further, and, I think, a stronger reason for adhering to the proposed arrangement which I should like to put before you, which was not mentioned yesterday evening, and that arises out of the necessary stages of business in another place. I will endeavour as clearly as I can to put before you how matters there stand. It had been hoped, after a short interval for a holiday, to open the new session of Parliament on February 5, in order to give time for the necessary despatch of business, financial and other, before Easter. But I fear that the action which your Lordships have taken in the last few days of this Bill will in any case mean that next week will be devoted in both Houses of Parliament to a large extent to the consideration of this measure. There are the Report stage and Third Reading to be taken here; there will then be the discussion in another place upon the Amendments that you have thought fit, or that you propose, to introduce. It seems unlikely in these circumstances that even this session will be terminated at the date I named—namely, February 5.
I invite your Lordships to consider what will happen if the opening of the next session is thereby postponed until the Tuesday following—the date on which Parliament usually reopens—namely, Feb- 1157 ruary 12. The governing date in this matter is March 15. By that time, the Consolidated Fund Bill must become law, because the money at the disposal of the Government lasts out only until that day. Now, between February 12 and March 15 there are in the other House only nineteen Parliamentary days, exclusive of Fridays. If we allow in the House of Commons three days for the debate on the Address, and fifteen days for the Supply Services discussed in that House—and, as your Lordships know very well, the number of days allotted to that matter is fixed by rule and cannot be departed from—there will be one day only between February 12 and March 15, exclusive of Fridays, which it will be in the power of the House of Commons to devote to the discussion of any of those extraneous subjects, even of the highest importance, which are liable to be raised in connection with the war, or otherwise, at any moment.
If this time-table is to be imposed upon the House of Commons, I think the members of that House will feel that they are being driven very hard. I doubt whether they will altogether like it; and I am not clear that it will predispose them to a very favourable attitude towards the important proposals that are coming to them from your Lordships' House I hope, therefore, in connection both with this House and with the other House, that I have given your Lordships sufficient reasons for thinking that it would be wise on your part if you did not decide to interpose any further delay at this stage. I think it might be said, if we sought for a longer interval than four days between Committee and Report, that we were unduly solicitous about our own convenience, and that we paid an insufficient regard to the prosecution of public business. In these circumstances, I trust that your Lordships will agree to allow the Report Stage to be taken on Monday.
I ought to add to what I have said that there will be in all probability no sitting to-morrow. We had contemplated taking the Military Service Bill then, but I understand that it has not made sufficient progress in the House of Commons to enable us to do so. I assume that we shall put that Bill down for First Reading on Monday, and take the further stages during the course of that week.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, the noble Earl the Leader of the 1158 House has given a full account of the reasons why he presses upon your Lordships that we should take the Report stage of the Representation of the People Bill on Monday. He spoke of the leisurely proceedings of your Lordships' House. I cannot think that we are open to any animadversion which may be contained in that word. We have worked really very hard, and the fact that we have not sat very late every day is not the proper criterion. As your Lordships know, the debates in this House are of a much more substantial kind than the debates in the other House. A close attention to the subject in hand is perpetually practised in this House, and if is necessary to attend to every word that is said. This throws a very much heavier burden, not only upon the listeners, but upon those who are taking part in the debate.
But I must say this—I hope the Government will not think it unfair of me—a great deal of time might have been saved if it had not been thought to be the duty of the Government to take what they called a neutral attitude on a considerable number of clauses. I am not criticising them for taking a neutral attitude if that is their duty. Anybody who has the least familiarity with Parliamentary proceedings knows that, unless a Legislative Assembly has a lead in its debates, a great deal of unnecessary time is always consumed; and I think that any of your Lordships who watched the proceedings on the woman suffrage clause, on the conscientious objector clause, and on the proportional representation clause, must have been aware that, if the Government had thought it their duty to make up their minds, it would have shortened the proceedings.
Apart from all that, however, may I say to the Government that I think they underrated from the very beginning the importance with which the country and your Lordships' House regarded this Bill; because in the early stages of the Bill in this House I think it was at one time gravely proposed that we should begin the Committee stage before Christmas. In those days, noble Lords sitting on the Front Bench opposite thought this Bill was very much like one of the ordinary Bills we discuss, of the Second Reading of which you could dispose in a day, and on which it would not be unreasonable if the Committee stage lasted only three days. But if you take the constitution of the House of Commons to pieces, and the method 1159 by which it is elected, and roll two or three Bills into one, and then produce that Bill for discussion, that is a very considerable matter, and one which requires a great deal of discussion. I do not think that your Lordships have taken ten minutes too long over the discussion of this Bill. I am sure that I command the assent, of everybody, including my noble friend the Leader of the House, when I say that the discussion (except in the one particular to which I have referred) has been a strictly businesslike one all through, and we could not have been shorter than we have been.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
In those circumstances I do not think that there is any blame to be attached to your Lordships' House in regard to their conduct in connection with the Bill. The Government then say that we ought not to take more than four days between Committee and Report. My noble friend enumerated the sort of questions that we should have to discuss on Report, but I observed that he left out all mention of the soldiers' vote, which was the genesis of this Bill and the only tiling upon which it was really founded. That matter was not satisfactorily settled at the Committee stage but was left over for consideration on Report. There was also the very important question as to the Authority of your Lordships' House with reference to the approval or non-approval of the Orders in Council under the Bill. That also was left over until Report. I think there will be found to be many other questions to be dealt with. Then there are certain points as to the interval of days the days which are left between the nomination and the polling—which subject we did not discuss at all, because it would have been impossible to ask your Lordships to pay attention to it in the course of the voluminous matter which we had to discuss in Committee.
I should like to ask my noble friend the Leader of the House how long the House of Commons took between the Committee stage and the Report stage. I will venture to say that they took a great deal more than, four days. Why should we be considered, to be so very unfair if we want a little more time? What is there in the House of Lords that should lead my noble friend to think that we require less time to 1160 discuss a very difficult Bill than the House of Commons? Let us take the particular four days which my noble friend allots to us. He says that this important Schedule of my noble friend Lord Selborne will be handed in to-night. I believe it will, with a great deal of difficulty; but I am not sure whether it will be circulated to-morrow morning, and it has to reach noble Lords in the country. There is also the new print of the Bill. Your Lordships know the present condition of the post. I should think that it is doubtful whether most noble Lords will see the Amendments for Report stage until Monday morning. Are we to be asked to consider important Amendments in a few hours? I am sure my noble friend will agree that, if he could have arranged it otherwise, he would have done so. It is unreasonable on the face of it that your Lordships should be asked within the space of a few hours to go through a most complicated Bill, which has been immensely changed in the course of its passage through Committee, together with new Amendments. I think that the case for a little more time is very strong indeed; and I believe that my noble friend—who I know has at heart the dignity of your Lordships' House, and a desire to make its debates effective—will see that we are entitled to that for which we respectfully ask—namely, a little more time. I leave it confidently to his conscience
§ LORD BUCKMASTER
My Lords, this seems to me to be a question which must appeal to individual opinions in this House, and one upon which individual opinions may well vary: therefore I trust that your Lordships will forgive me if I intrude upon you what is nothing but my own personal opinion upon this question. I do not propose for a moment to investigate whether too much time was taken in the Committee Stage of this Bill or not. I agree with the noble Marquess that upon the whole the business was expeditiously, and, if you will forgive me for saying so, most efficiently conducted. Nor am I prepared to agree with the criticisms that the neutral attitude of the Government prolonged the debate. It might have done so, but it was a result inseparable from the conditions under which the Bill was introduced. It is idle for us to assume that this Bill comes before your Lordships for consideration in the ordinary form of a Government measure. It is indeed a Government Bill, but it is the Bill of a Government in which opinions 1161 must necessarily have been widely different upon many of its essential provisions and I think it would have been asking too much of the Government, and would have required of their members too great a sacrifice of individual opinion, to have asked them on every Amendment to throw the shield of their authority in front of the Bill and to say, By this Clause we stand, and we ask the House to follow us.
Therefore I do not think that for present purposes it is profitable to consider what it was that caused us to occupy the time already taken over this Bill. The real question is this, Is the time proposed by the noble Earl the Leader of the House as that which is to elapse between now and the date fixed for the Report Stage sufficient to enable people, who are anxious to see the Bill leave this House in the best possible form, to formulate their views and consider the arguments by which they are to be advanced? I am not for the moment saying that longer time might not be convenient. The noble Earl never suggested anything of the kind. I feel sure that were he unfettered by the exigencies of the case he would have been prepared to grant a far more abundant period; but in truth we are constrained by circumstances that we cannot control. It is obvious to any one, and becomes more obvious to a person like myself who has only recently had the honour of joining in your Lordships' debates, that the conditions under which Bills are brought before you for consideration are conditions that throw a very great strain upon your Lordships as a body. It may be impossible to avoid it, having regard to the ways in which the two Houses sit, but the fact is so, and we have to accommodate ourselves to it.
What has happened in the course of this Committee is this, that a most important Amendment has been introduced which cannot fail to impede the progress of the Bill. It must render the further progress of the Bill a more protracted and difficult thing than it would otherwise have been. It has been introduced by a very large majority of your Lordships' House, who are convinced that it is an important and essential condition; but even that action on the part of your Lordships is liable to misinterpretation, and the noble Earl, Lord Selborne, found it necessary to send a telegram to the Labour Conference to impress upon them the fact that the inclusion of this clause would not unduly 1162 impede, and certainly was not intended to impede, the further progress of this Bill. But the very fact that he found it necessary to explain his attitude to that large gathering of Labour people in those terms is a most convincing and cogent reason why nobody should be able to say that your Lordships have not made every sacrifice to expedite the remaining stages of the Bill. If it could be said that the time reserved was wholly insufficient, and that it was impossible for any who had attended to the progress of the Bill with the same unvarying diligence as the noble Earl (Lord Selborne) who sits behind me and the noble Marquess (Lord Salisbury) who has just spoken, to prepare their Amendments, then of course the time must be extended. Is it so?
Every single Amendment that comes up on Report may be assumed to deal with a subject that has already been, in part at least, considered. One or two things have been reserved for Report for more abundant consideration, but they are before the mind and eves of everybody who has followed the Bill. What is left? It may be the necessity of formulating in writing the actual Amendments which it is desired to move. Much of that has already been done; and for the rest I am quite satisfied—and on this I speak with some little experience that any one who has been engaged in the discussion of this Bill and who has taken the Bill home and examined it with the Amendments diligently could in the course of twenty-four hours produce in writing any Amendment which it is desired to submit. I do not say that there will not be some personal inconvenience and strain put upon noble Lords, but it is an inconvenience and a strain which in the circumstances in which we stand ought in my humble judgment to be accepted, and nothing should be done for which this House could possibly be accused of delaying by a single hour the passage of this measure.
LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH
My Lords, I want to say one word in reference to the speech of the noble Earl who leads the House; but so far as the date for taking the subsequent stage of the Bill is concerned, I am neutral. I am quite prepared to take the Report Stage on Monday, if necessary, and the noble Earl produced some very convincing dates and figures which show that we should press on as much as we can. I hope that the 1163 Government will understand that the action which I took in producing my Amendment last night was, although not altogether regular, due to a genuine desire to minimise the difficulty.
One comment I want to make upon the noble Earl's review of the dates, which did not seem to me to be quite fair to this House. He spoke rather as if he thought we had been unduly long in considering this Bill. The dates, of course, which he gave were perfectly correct—December 11 for the First Reading, December 17, 18, and 19 for the Second Reading, and then he said there was an interval of three weeks before we took Committee. But those were not three weeks of Parliamentary time, but were the three weeks of the whole year when, perhaps, it was most difficult to get any conference between those who were going to move Amendments. The period included the whole of the Christmas and New Year holidays, which took up from twelve to fourteen days. This Bill, of enormous importance—I need not magnify its importance—was introduced here on December 11, and we are now on the 24th of January, an interval of at the most about six weeks, with the Christmas holidays intervening. The other House of Parliament took eight months, because the Bill was first before them in April or May. As between the two Houses, one took eight months and the other six weeks, with the Christmas holidays intervening; and it does not seem altogether fair that we should be regarded as having taken too long over the passage of the Bill. I hope it will be understood that we are not responsible, but another place, for the length of time which has elapsed since the main provisions of the Bill were known. It does seem to me, even allowing the utmost consideration for the much greater concern of the other House in this Bill, that the treatment of the two Houses has been very different in regard to it.
§ LORD COURTNEY OF PENWITH
My Lords, I am reluctant even to add a single word to this debate, but I venture to put one or two considerations before the noble Earl which he may not have taken into account. In the first place, I think it very undesirable that any blame should be attempted to be thrown either upon this House or upon the Government for the time occupied by the discussion of this Bill. It appears to me, if I may venture to add to what has been already said, that 1164 the House has shown remarkable power and remarkable assiduity and compression in dealing with the several issues which have been raised in the course of the discussion at the different stages of the Bill, and that no blame whatever can be thrown upon this House for the way in which the conduct of the Bill has been undertaken and carried through. Indeed, I have not seen or heard, I must confess—it may be found in some pages or may have been heard from some lips—any comment critically of the time which has been taken by this House in consideration of the Bill.
I may say, with respect to the period that intervened between the Second Reading and the Committee, that that period, as my noble friend Lord Balfour of Burleigh has just said, was the Christmas time, when work was quite impossible. But the noble Earl who leads the House will bear me out when I say that, even in the midst of Christmas, I troubled him with a suggestion as to a step that I thought might be taken which would help forward the progress of the Bill after the House reassembled. I only point that out to show the way in which at all stages, I think, every attempt was made to facilitate the progress of the Bill.
I recognise the cogency of the time limit of March 15. I know all that must be done before that period pretty well; but it is not necessary that every day of that time, although nominally occupied by the different stages of the Consolidated Fund Bill and the first Votes necessary for embodiment in that Bill, shall be wholly occupied by financial business. On the contrary, I venture to think that some of the days will be only slightly occupied by financial business, and that there will be scope left in the remainder of the sitting for other business to be taken up and discussed in another place. The real question is that put by my noble friend Lord Buckmaster, as to whether the period between this and Monday is enough for the formulation and consideration of the Amendments which must be considered on the Report stage. I admit the help that has been given by printing the Bill as it has passed from time to time, but we shall not see the Bill reprinted in its entirety before to-morrow, if to-morrow; and, as Lord Salisbury has observed, members of the House going into the country—
§ LORD COURTNEY OF PENWITH
It has not been circulated, and it will not reach us under conditions fit for study and consideration until to-morrow, or Peers in the country before a later date. I confess I should have hoped that another day might have been given us, and that we should not he called upon on Monday to give a close consideration to the Report stage of the Bill. We, are necessarily in the hands of the Government, and we shall probably have to bow to their decision, but there are real points of consideration as to what will follow from the Amendments already formulated even, and already made known to your Lordships, which it is very difficult to take up until we have got them before us in print and in our own homes. I am unwilling to refer in present circumstances to any special difficulties which I have on my own part, but everybody knows what difficulties there must be besetting the consideration of the different Amendments, even limited as they may be in the opinion of the noble Earl who leads the House, in the course of Monday so as to be ready for discussion on Monday evening.
§ LORD ST. DAVIDS
My Lords, the noble Lord opposite said that the Bill had been before this House for only six weeks and was before the House of Commons for eight months, and he therefore rather argued that six weeks was too short a time for us; but I think we must all realise that the conditions are entirely different. When a Bill comes before the other House nobody knows anything about it. A Bill of this importance takes a long time to explain, and the public have to get to know about it. What have we been debating during the last week? Proportional representation. And why? Because that has been taken up by people outside, because it has been taken up by the agricultural classes, and because they have instigated noble Lords here to act for them and represent them. We have had the benefit of the eight months in which the House of Commons have been considering it. The Bill comes to us not as a new thing. We have read the debates in another place, we know all about the measure, and we are able to concentrate on some of the points which are highly debatable. I think it is not a fair proceeding to compare the six weeks in this House with the eight months in the House of Commons. The six weeks are not in substitution for the eight months, 1166 but are a sequel and addition to them. I hope the Government will stick to their resolution and go on.
§ VISCOUNT CHAPLIN
My Lords, I own that I am a little surprised to hear from the noble Lord who has just sat down that we have all read the debates in the House of Commons on the Representation of the People Bill. I own I have made it a practice to try and read something of those debates. In my long experience in the House of Commons, that was one of the habits I acquired; but I do not find, in trying to read those debates, or as much of them as I can give the time and labour to, that I acquire all the valuable information which the noble Lord seems to think must necessarily follow from perusing documents regarding the House of Commons.
I am amazed, I confess, remembering what happened always in the House of Commons all through my long experience there, that any one should think we are treating this subject in a leisurely manner, as the noble Earl seems to think, because we have occupied the time we have already taken in the consideration of this question. In the whole course of my political career, beyond all possible question this has been the gravest and most important subject that has ever been submitted to either House of Parliament, certainly in my time. If ever there was a Bill that demanded the most careful and thorough consideration that ever was given to any Parliamentary measure, I should say that this is the one.
I do not want to delay the House. I am still one of those who think that this Government had no business whatever, having regard to their statements on other occasions, to have introduced this Bill at all; but I am not going again into that. We should bear in mind, I think, that if they do find themselves in difficulties with regard to time they have no one else but themselves to blame. What I should like to do, and I shall limit myself to that, is to reinforce, if I can, the appeal that has been made. I cannot conceive why, in all these circumstances, we should not be permitted to have another day of consideration before we are asked to go on with the Report stage. We are told—I have not seen them myself—that the very important Amendments to be moved by my noble friend Lord Selborne will not in all probability be in our hands to-morrow, and that many 1167 noble Peers will not have the opportunity of seeing them until next week. I had been hoping for a long time to get a day or two's holiday, but owing to some unfortunate accident I have not had one, and I should be glad to get a quiet Sunday elsewhere. If I cannot get the concession suggested by my noble friend sitting on the Cross Benches, I shall not be satisfied unless I am content not to be acquainted with the various matters we shall have to discuss. I hope that I am not making what is in the least an extravagant demand when I say that the noble Earl might at least make this concession.
§ EARL CURZON OF KEDLESTON
My Lords, I do not propose further to prolong the discussion. Greatly as I should like to give to the noble Viscount who has just addressed us that period of repose for which he yearns. I am afraid I cannot on that ground depart from the attitude which I before took up. This question has, I think, been very fairly debated on both sides, and the only remark I would like to add is this, that in so far as I referred to comments that have been made from the outside as to what have been described as our rather leisurely proceedings—comments which I do not endorse myself in the smallest degree that charge related not to the manner in which your Lordships have dealt with the Bill, than which nothing could have been more businesslike, industrious, or capable; neither did it relate to the amount of time, be it large or small, which you have devoted to the Bill. It sprung merely from the fact, as has been known to the outside public, that we have devoted in the various debates in Committee not always a great many hours to the Bill itself. That is a criticism to which I do not think we need attach much importance, and upon which I certainly myself desire to lay no emphasis. My Lords, I hope, as a general result of the discussion, I am justified in concluding that your Lordships—a great majority of your Lordships—will not dissent if the Government carry out their desire to put down the, Report stage upon Monday next. May I say, in view of the great importance of the subjects that will come up for discussion then, on which so much stress has naturally been laid, that your Lordships will, I am sure, agree to sit after dinner on that day, the House meeting at the usual hour.
§ Moved accordingly, and on Question, Debate adjourned until Monday.