HL Deb 27 October 1920 vol 42 cc55-6

My Lords, a Motion* stands on the Paper in the name of my noble friend Earl Curzon relative to the Emergency Powers Bill. That Bill will not reach your Lordships to-day, as had been anticipated, and the Motion, therefore, will not now be moved. But if the Bill passes through the House of Commons to-day Lord Curzon will submit the Motion to-morrow in the terms as set down on the Paper.


I should like to ask the noble Earl whether the Government are not prepared to consider the necessity of making any such Motion to-morrow at all. I do not wish now to discuss the merits of such a Motion, but it is obviously based on the view that a Bill of this importance can pass through this House in all its stages at one sitting, and that our deliberations upon it are merely nominal. A moment of very great national emergency might justify such a course, but I trust that the noble Earl will consult with those for whom he acts in this matter and consider whether it is desirable that the House should be asked to take such a step or should be subjected to the necessity of challenging a Motion for the purpose in the circumstances as they exist to-day.


My noble and learned friend is aware that one does not know at the moment exactly how matters stand in relation to industrial disputes or may stand in twenty-four hours time. I am sure that what Lord Buckmaster has said is very relevant to the discussion. All I now inform your Lordships of is the *The Motion on the Paper was as follows:—In the event of a Message from the Commons being received that they have passed the Emergency Powers Bill, The Lord President (Earl Curzon of Kedleston) to move that Standing Orders Nos. XXI and XXXIX be considered in order to their being suspended for this day's sitting so that the said Bill have precedence of the other Notices and Orders of the Day, and that it may be passed through all its stages. proposal of the Government to put this down for discussion to-morrow, when that point, of course, will be one of the most relevant matters of debate.


As my noble friend opposite is well aware, speaking for myself and a good many other noble Lords, we do not desire to interfere for a moment with any course which the Government think it necessary to take in the public safety, and we should be prepared to advise your Lordships to assent to a Government Motion such as this if it be really absolutely necessary. We shall put it, as it were, upon the honour of the Government not to ask us to pass any such measure without proper consideration unless they can assure your Lordships that it is absolutely necessary in the public safety. No mere question of hurrying business through ought to be a good reason for suspending the usual operation of your Lordships' deliberations in a matter of this importance. As far as I am concerned, I am not aware that I wish to be responsible for any Amendment to the Bill. I have never seen it, and do not know what form it takes at the present time. But I think the perpetual suspension of the Standing Orders of this House is a great mistake, and should be avoided if possible. Therefore we shall have to rely upon the word of the Government to assure us that the thing is vitally necessary.

Back to