§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE DUCHY OF LANCASTER (THE EARL OF CRAWFORD) moved that Standing Order No. XXXIX be considered in order to its being suspended until the House adjourn for the Recess at Whitsuntide. The noble Earl said: On Thursday last I informed your Lordships that it would be necessary to take steps to expedite the passage of three Government Bills. In the absence of my noble friend Lord Curzon, who is detained at a conference and who desires me to apologise to your Lordships for his not being present, I beg to make the Motion standing in his name. Your Lordships will observe that it is framed to apply for the rest of the sittings before Whitsuntide. I think that on the whole this is the most convenient course; otherwise it would be necessary both to-morrow and on Wednesday (which we expect to be the last effective day of the sittings) to put down a similar Motion. This Motion therefore covers to-day, to-morrow, and Wednesday.333
§ I gave your Lordships notice of the Bills to which I suggested that this Motion should apply, but with your permission I will repeat them. To-day we suggest taking the First and Second Readings of the First and Second Readings of the National Health Insurance Bill and the Ejection (Suspensory Provisions) (Scotland) Bill. With regard to the first of these, my noble friend Lord Astor will explain to your Lordships how urgent it is that this measure, which applies to something like sixteen million persons, should be passed at the earliest moment in order that the immense Departmental machinery involved in bringing the Act into effective force may be started as soon as Possible, and thus avoid the very real danger that there might be of serious postponement of the additional benefits for several months were it impossible to pass the Bill shortly with a view to its coming into operation in the first week of July. Of that Bill it is suggested that we take the Second Reading to-day. The other Bill, the Ejection (Suspensory Provisions) (Scotland) Bill, is introduced in order to carry out suggestions made by a Committee of which I think my noble friend Lord Salisbury was Chairman. It is clearly impossibly to pass the Bill so far as England is concerned, but as the removal term in Scotland takes place in a very few days' time it is desirable that a measure should be passed into law in order to avoid any period of suspension.
§ The Second Reading of the Profiteering (Amendment) Bill it is proposed should be taken to-morrow. To-day we have already taken the First Reading of that measure. Here again I regret that a Bill of this great importance should only reach our House at this late stage of the session. If I remember right the original measure, to which this is an amending proposal, reached us in somewhat similar circumstances last Christmas. However, we have to face the fact that the principal Act comes to an end in three or four days, and although Parliament has inserted in Clause 10 provisions whereby the principal Act shall be deemed to be in force until the passage of this amending Act, nevertheless in order to avoid confusion in administration it is clearly desirable that that clause should not be relied upon—in other words, that the amending Bill should be passed at the earliest possible moment. For that reason it is most desirable that this Bill should receive the Royal Assent before the adjournment for the Whit- 334 suntide Recess. To-morrow, therefore, we suggest that the Second Reading should be taken, with the remaining stages on the following day.
§ I am informed that, there is a minor Departmental measure which the Treasury are also very anxious to pass through before Whitsuntide, relating to the Savings Banks. It is not a contentious measure in any way, but from the Treasury point of view it would be a great convenience if the change of the law could be made at the earliest possible moment. No notice has been given to your Lordships of any suggestion that this Bill should be passed through, but I will arrange with my noble friend Lord Hylton to have the text circulated at the earliest possible moment. I trust that your Lordships will also allow this, the fourth measure, to be passed before we rise. I beg to move.
§ Moved, That Standing Order No. XXXIX. be considered in order to its being suspended until the House adjourn for the Recess at Whitsuntide.—(The Earl of Crawford.)
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, your Lordships have heard the speech of my noble friend Lord Crawford. He has in some respects made out a strong case for the abbrevited procedure, and notably so in the case of a Bill for the suspension of legislation which His Majesty's Government promise. No doubt my noble friend Lord Astor will be able to tell us something as to the exact tenor of this Suspensory Bill in a few moments; but as regards the other Bill I do not know that there is much to be said. There is no excuse whatever for their being brought to your Lordships' House at such a period, but we are quite used to that, and what we have to consider is whether the Public Service is better studied by allowing our procedure to be shortened in respect of them or whether we ought to resist. Personally I am not prepared to suggest to your Lordships that you should resist although I say so without prejudice (if I may use such a phrase), because we do not know what is in any of these Bills. It may appear, when we come to read the text of them to-morrow morning, that we are not able to——
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
That is a Bill we have to take entirely on trust, on the personal assurance of my noble friend that no mischief is being done. At any rate, we shall look at it with great interest to-morrow morning and see. We cannot, of course, pledge ourselves to what we shall do with the actual text of the Bill when it is submitted. The only question now before us is whether we shall allow our procedure to be shortened. I cannot say I approve the method in which the House of Commons treats us on these occasions, but I am not prepared to suggest to your Lordships that you should resist it.
THE EARL OF CRAWFORD
I should like to say that the Savings Bank Bill, about which we are not informed, will be circulated and in your Lordships' hands to-morrow, when we propose to take the Second Reading.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.