§ LORD KILLANIN
My Lords, before the House adjourns, I should like to ask, with the permission of the noble Earl in charge of business, what exactly is the position and prospects of the Irish Railway (Settlement of Claims) Bill. Last evening I tried to find out for myself, and so far as I could ascertain it had not reached this House, but I understand that this afternoon it has received a First Reading. A number of noble Lords from Ireland are interested in the matter, and would be glad if the Second Reading could be taken this afternoon, for the purpose of leaving an interval between the Second Reading and the Committee stage, so that criticisms offered on the Second Reading might be 972 considered by the Government in the interval.
THE EARL OF LYTTON
In the discussion that we have had on another subject, the most rev. Primate talked about startling propositions with regard to procedure, and I think it does require justification to the House that we should read a second time a Bill which has only to-day been read a first time, and has not appeared on the Order Paper. I think, however, that there is justification in this case, and if your Lordships, after hearing what I have to say, would agree to take the Second Reading this afternoon, the Government would be prepared to assent to the proposition, made by Lord Killanin. This Bill, I am glad to say, is a very different kind of Bill from that which we have recently been discussing. In principle, I do not think there is any matter upon which there is likely to be a Second Reading dispute.
It is primarily a Bill to settle with the railway companies in Ireland as to the allocation of a sum of money, which has been agreed between them. There is, however, one point in which Lord Killanin is interested, on Clause 3 of the Bill. If the Bill is read a second time, to-day, we can take the Committee stage to-morrow, and the noble Lord's Amendment can then appear on the Paper, and there would be time to discuss it, and to consider it beforehand. If the Bill is not read a second time to-day, we should have to take it through all its stages to-morrow. In the circumstances, although I frankly admit that it is an extreme proposition, I think it would be for the convenience of all those interested in this small, and I think generally speaking agreed, Bill, that we should do what is suggested and take the Second Reading now, and the subsequent stages to-morrow.
§ THE EARL OF MIDLETON
My Lords, am not quite sure that the proposal of the noble Earl is not very likely to lead to greater inconvenience, because after all what is done on this Bill might be urged as a precedent for another Bill, and as the noble Lord suggested when he rose, it is a very strong order that a Bill which has never been printed, or brought before us in any way, should be given a Second Reading on the first day. Would it not be practicable, on the Motion for the adjournment of the House, for the noble Lord to raise the point which he desires to 973 raise, and allow the discussion to be taken on the Motion for adjournment, as if it were on the Second. Reading That would have the advantage of enabling the Government to consider the point to-morrow, so that they may be ready to reply when the time comes. 1 would also like to ask the noble Earl at what hour it is proposed we should meet to-morrow. There is, I understand, an important discussion pending on the Motion of the noble Marquess (Lord Salisbury), and also a number of Bills are to be brought. up with Amendments from the Commons.
THE EARL OF MAYO
I feel very strongly that this is only a veil), small Bill, and I hope the House will agree to the Second Reading being taken to-day. Otherwise, we shall have to run through all its stages at once to-morrow. We in Ireland do not want that. We want the Amendment to be considered, and if it is put on the Paper the Government can consider it, and we can consider it, before, we meet, and the matter can then be arranged or disarranged as the case may be. I hope the House will agree to take the Second. Reading at once. A matter of £3,000,000 is to be divided between -the Irish railway companies, and we want the Bill to go through as speedily as possible. There is a time limit for this money, and we shou1d like the matter to be settled at once. I speak in this matter not only for myself hut, I am sure, for the directors of the railway companies and people interested in the Bill.
THE FIRST COMMISSIONER OF WORKS (THE EARL OF CRAWFORD)
My Lords, I should hope that it is possible to conciliate all views. I am very reluctant to take the Second Reading of a Bill which, although it has been circulated, is not on the Paper. Lord Killanin's Amendment, I understand, is merely to leave out Clause 3, and is not a long technical Amendment.
THE EARL OF CRAWFORD
That makes it all the more simple. If Lord Mayo and his friends can accept the proposal of Lord Midleton, that a general debate should take place on the Motion for adjournment, and that as early tomorrow as we can we should take the formal Second Reading stage, followed by the 974 subsequent stages, we should have the equivalent of a Second Reading debate to-day on the Motion for adjournment, and although the Amendment would not be on the Paper, it would be in the possession of your Lordships to-morrow. If that will suit your Lordships I think it would be better than taking the Second Reading now. It is possible, I think, that in those circumstances your Lordships will agree that, with a view to conversations upon the Motion for adjournment, the noble Lord might have permission to circulate his Amendment to omit Clause 3.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, as a mere matter of formal arrangement, I think it is quite unacceptable that we should take a Bill which is not on the Orders of the Day. It is a precedent unknown to your Lordships' house, and might lead to the very greatest abuse, because it means that business is to be taken of which Peers who are not present have no notice whatever. I think that is a thing which is quite unacceptable. To the other arrangement, although it is not very regular, if it be done with the leave of the House, I see no objection. Perhaps also the noble Earl will answer the Question about the hour of meeting to-morrow.
THE EARL OF CRAWFORD
Your Lordships are perfectly entitled to authorise a debate on the adjournment on any subject, actual or prospective, and I understand that two Peers desire to address the House on this limited point, and I think probably that would be the best course to adopt. I understand there is to be an Irish debate to-morrow, but there is no Notice on the Order Paper about it.
THE EARL OF CRAWFORD
None has been handed in at the Table, so I do not know what form the debate is likely to take—whether it is to be a Question, or whether it is to be in the form of a Motion of censure or not. But we have a considerable number of things to deal with to-morrow—the Safeguarding of Industries Bill, the Irish discussion, and the observations of the Commons on the Lords Amendments to the Railways Bill; and your Lordships will remember that an undertaking was given that, except by consent, the Irish discussion should have priority 975 to-morrow. Under those conditions I think it would probably be most convenient to invite your Lordships to meet at midday. It is a matter on which I offer no opinion myself.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
As regards the actual time of meeting of the House, that is a matter for your Lordships' convenience, and whatever view recommends itself to your Lordships, I should be glad to fall in with. I think I owe an explanation to the House why the terms of the Notice do not appear on the Order Paper. The reason is a. very simple one. Up till yesterday I was under the impression, as the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack knows, that the Government were going to start the discussion, and therefore it was not possible for me to put a Notice on the Paper, but it was intimated to me yesterday that that would no longer be the case, and that it was for me to draft a suitable Notice. I need not say I have not been idle. The Notice is almost ready, and it will be handed in directly, but I hope your Lordships will forgive me for my apparent neglect of your Lordships' convenience. It was not my fault, in any case. I was obliged to wait for the Government decision. I may say that my Notice will not take the form of a Motion, but of a Question, which will give rise, I imagine, to a prolonged debate.
THE MARQUESS OF CREWE
Perhaps I might make one suggestion to the noble Earl. He spoke of there being several questions which might take some little time to-morrow, and among them he mentioned the return of your Lordships' Amendments to the Safeguarding of Industries Bill. I understand that those are being considered as the first Order of the House of Commons to-day, and that the opinion of the House of Commons upon them could be returned probably in less than an hour from now. I would like to ask the noble Earl, as it is clear that the discussion of the House of Commons' decision cannot take very long, whether it would not be worth while to adjourn during pleasure now, and get that business over and done with before to-morrow, as I suppose that the Question which the noble Marquess (Lord Salisbury) is going to 976 ask will occupy some considerable time, and it is, I understand, to be taken as the first Order to-morrow.
THE EARL OF CRAWFORD
I hope Lord Crewe is well founded in his optimism that the debate in another place may only last an hour or so. For all I know, it may last two or three hours. But if your Lordships desire that we should adjourn during pleasure now. I am quite agreeable to do so. I should rather regret if it precluded the Irish Peers from speaking on the Irish Railways (Settlement of Claims) Bill. I suggest, therefore that I move the adjournment—and that that Motion should itself be adjourned subsequently—in order to let the Irish Peers speak. I move, therefore, that the House do now adjourn.
§ Moved, That the House do now adjourn. —(The Earl of Crauford.)
§ LORD KILLANIN
My Lords, I do not know whether it is for the convenience of the House that I should make a short speech on a Bill that has not been given a Second Reading, and which has not been described to the House. It would he natural for me to get up after the Bill has been introduced and described, but I am anxious, if possible, that something should be done to remedy a grievance which I want to lay before the House, and, if the House will bear with me while I make my point to the Government, I shall be very glad to do so now.
An Irish railway Bill, which has been described by the noble Earl just now as an agreed Rill, is going to come before this House. The expression"an agreed Bill"is becoming a very common one in this House, and it is rather an acceptable expression very often. It means that certain parties, and it may possibly mean the most important parties, have come to an agreement: but it very often also means that there are many other parties interested in the Bill, who haze not been consulted at all, and who do not agree with the Bill as it stands. The noble Earl has described this as an agreed Bill, and in so far as it is an agreed Bill, I should like to tell him that I do not propose in any way to criticise the Bill. I recognise the importance of the agreement that has been come to, and, as it is a very great thing to get agreement on anything in Ireland at present, I should be very sorry to do anything that would upset the agreement witch has been come to.
977 But there is one portion of this Bill on which there has been no agreement, and the most interested parties have not been consulted at all. I would direct the attention of the noble Earl to Clause 3 of the Bill. The history of that clause is this. About thirty years ago a small railway line was made in Ireland by a certain company, and was afterwards leased for fifty years to a big company, and became part of a large system of railways— the Midland arid Great Western Railway of Ireland—and there were certain conditions of that agreement. The large company, the working company, agreed to Walk this railway and to find all the expenses of working it and maintaining it, on condition that they retained 55 per cent. of the gross receipts from that small railway, while the remaining 45 per cent. of the gross receipts was to be paid to the company which had made the railway.
On the other hand, the local people who had been anxious to get this railway, in order to get it made had guaranteed that the shareholders were to receive 5 per cent. on the capital of the company. Therefore, if this 45 per cent. of the gross receipts that was handed over to the Owning company was not sufficient to meet the dividend if 3 per cent. on the capital of the company, a local body, consisting of a certain number of ratepayers in the district, guaranteed that they would meet the deficiency. They did that out of public spirit, and as patriotic people, for the purpose of developing that part of the country. Of course, it was only a guarantee, and they hoped they would never be called upon to meet this financial liability.
That was thirty years ago. For twenty five years this little railway was run. The 45 per cent. of the goes receipts was not sufficient, as a matter of fact, to meet the 5 per cent. dividend, and the local authority had to find what was necessary to make up the deficiency. This resulted in taxing the ratepayers to the extent of something over £1,000 a year for the last twenty-four years. That was the position. The ratepayers stood by their contract. They met this liability of £1,000 a year which they said they would pay and on the faith of which the line was made. They fulfilled all the conditions of their contract at great loss to themselves.
Then came the war and, with it, the period of control, and a very curious arrangement was made during that time. 978 As soon as the railways were taken over by the Government, the whole question of finding Wit what were the gross receipts of this particular little line was completely I overlooked for three or four years; money was asked for, and the whole thing was in a great muddle, as the noble Earl will remember. In 1919 we had great trouble in extricating it front the position it had got into and we came to an understanding —I represented the county council of Galway and those particular ratepayers by which the Treasury paid down the money which had not been collected from the local bodies because it had never been asked for and there were no figures on which it could be based. Therefore, the Treasury cleared up the matter by paying cash down. They also got us to agree that during the period of control we would lake a datum year, namely, 1913, and would agree as ratepayers to levy the amount of the deficit for that year in every year during the control.
Control has now come to an end and this Bill proposes that the datum year should be continued and that the ratepayers should pay, regardless of what the gross receipts of this line may be, what they had to pay in 1913. What have I lie ratepayers to say to that? They say that on account of the rise in fares and in freights the gross receipts will have gone up very much, that if the contract remains in force the 45 per cent. of the gross receipts will meet the dividend, and there will be no necessity to levy a rate on the district. They ask, therefore, that the contract should be adhered to. The whole clatter was rather speculative on the part of the railway company originally and the ratepayers.
The railway company said:"We will run the line. We will say nothing about-the working expenses, because we cannot differentiate. This is only a little bit of line, nine miles long, in a system of hundreds of miles, and we cannot possibly find out what are the working expenses over this little bit of line. We will speculate on the matter. If you give us 55 per cent. of the gross receipts we will give you 45 per cent, to meet the dividends." That was a speculation on their part, whether it paid them or not. The speculation on our side was that we hoped that the 45 per cent. of the gross receipts would meet the dividend that had to be paid and we speculated on the fact as to whether it 979 did or not. It did not pay for thirty years, and we suffered thereby, but we stood by our guarantee and paid whatever was necessary to meet the deficit. The gross The receipts have gone up and there will be no deficit; so why should we not get the benefit of the contract into which we entered? That is the main point of this matter.
The noble Earl may say: "You must take into account the fact that the expenses of the railway company have gone up." So have the receipts gone up. What the company said was: ''Give us 55 per cent. of the gross receipts and we will give you 45 per cent.'' In the past the company was run cheaply. The gross receipts were comparatively small, because fares were then comparatively cheap. The working expenses have now gone up; so have the company's receipts. Therefore, the position is exactly the same. What I want to do, therefore, is to delete Clause 3 (Continuance of provisions of agreement as to worked lines) which, to my mind, most unfairly and most unjustly to the ratepayers of this area, carries on the datum year arrangements under which there would be a deficit of some £1,600, and under which they would have no chance of benefiting from the fact that the 45 per cent. of the gross receipts which is handed over to the owning company would probably meet the dividend, and there would he no necessity to levy any rate on the people at all.
I think I have placed the Government and the House in possession of our case. I would only add that the Government themselves have recognised that this is an injustice, because the provision in Clause 3 is subject to a time limit for what, I suppose, they think is a short period. At any rate, they say that it shall last until the Council of Ireland decide otherwise. They, therefore, contemplate that it requires to be looked into and to be changed and are in agreement with me that as it stands in the Bill it is an unfair proposal and requires revision. What is the point of referring it to the Council of Ireland? Who is the Council of Ireland? Where is the Council of Ireland? When is the Council of Ireland to meet? It is a mythical body. Is it part of the old Home Rule Act? If so, it has been scrapped as regards a portion of the Government of Ireland Act, at any rate. Is it in Mr. Lloyd George's pro- 980 posals? I saw no reference to the Council of Ireland in those proposals. Is it in Mr. de Valera's proposals? I have seen nothing about the Council of Ireland in Mr. de Valera's speeches. Therefore, I think it is a monstrous thing to admit that there is a grievance here, a matter which should be looked into and decided, and then to leave it in an unjust position and to say that at some day or other it shall come into operation when the Council of Ireland comes into existence. That is too much a counsel of perfection for me to agree with.
There is another body referred to in the Bill called the Tribunal which is to deal immediately with some complicated matters in connection with this measure. It is possible that that would be the better body to which to refer this matter, because at least it will come into operation at once. But my object is to delete this clause entirely front the Bill, and to give the ratepayers who fulfilled then contract in the past, when it was to their disadvantage, whatever benefit might possibly arise from continuing the contract during the next fifteen years during which the lease lasts.
§ LORD SHANDON
My Lords, I was quite unaware of the particular question which the noble Lord has raised until the matter came up here. But speaking with a strong sense of what seems to me to be fair, I would press the Government, through the noble Earl in charge of the Bill, to consider very carefully the position of this little line. From a technical standpoint, this clause does not affect the vital principle of the Bill, but it is not quite fair. I am perfectly certain that in framing it there was no intention of doing anything unfair, but unfair it is, and I will show your Lordships in very few words how it is unfair. This mere trifle of a line is only about nine miles long. The ratepayers who are affected possibly do not extend over a very large area. That would seem to me to be the strongest reason in the world for having left the matter undealt with altogether.
I do not know whether there are any other lines in the same position as this small line of railway, which has been leased to the Midland. But certainly none of them seem to have been consulted; and it is not at all in accordance with the ordinary principle of fair play which, I think, still remains characteristic of our Legislature. 981 It is not considered right that you should extinguish a contract with a person who has never discussed with you what his position is, whether it is fair or unfair, and, simply because he has not got a loud voice, and because of his smallness, to treat him as if he was of no account. If this Amendment, which will be moved, affected to the slightest degree what has been an agreed arrangement with regard to a most important Bill. I should hesitate to press your Lordships to accept it. But it does Lot affect it, and it cannot affect it.
This is the position. In 1886, transport being in a shockingly backward condition in the small outlying districts of Ireland such as this, an effort was made by one of the Light Railway Acts to encourage local bodies, by guarantees to be given, to carry out the construction of these light railways. In some cases they assumed total responsibility. In other cases they leased tae lines to the larger railway companies upon guarantees such as we have here. As a result, I remember quite well that all over Ireland a great many of these lines were constructed. They did not turn out as profitable, as mere business propositions, as one would wish, but, beyond all question, they enormously assisted the development of these remote districts. The reason they came into existence was because there was Government sanction, contained in the Act of 1886, or the prior Act, to enter into certain contracts with the baronies, as they were then called, and the railway companies, and others, with regard to guarantees. The local people gave those guarantees, and entered into these agreements, honestly relying upon the law of the land, and, without their consent, I should say that it is only common sense and common justice that they should not now be deprived of the benefits of their contracts.
What is the exact position? The arrangement which was made in consequence of the war was that the year 1913 was taken as an artificial datum line, simply and solely because the Midland Railway Company had got their accounts into a shocking mess. That was a purely transitory arrangement, and any person, lawyer or layman, would assume that when the purposes for which that special arrangement was made had been fulfilled, the original contract would naturally continue to control the relations of the parties. I do not think that it would enter into the head of any living person, lawyer or layman, that anything else would happen. 982 It is quite true that the cost which is cast on the Midland Railway of working this nine miles of line has increased, but so have the traffic rates increased, and it is not because the Midland Railway in its mightiness cannot segregate what they receive from this particular line that you should deprive the original contracting parties of the benefit of their contract.
The peculiarity of these light railways was this. The people who guaranteed the light railway were those who used it for the transit of goods, and paid for it; for the essence of the idea was that people, by this arrangement, got a market in remote districts for their goods. Undoubtedly, expenses have gone up, but so also have freights gone up, and the guarantors will have to pay the increased freights. That is not fair. They are not to get the benefit which they conceive they would have got, and probably would have got, under their original contract. There is the whole position. I do very strongly urge the noble Earl who is in charge of the Bill to consider between now and to-morrow the common justice and the common fairness of the situation.
§ THE EARL OF MIDLETON
My Lords, T do not rise to add anything to the argument which my, noble and learned friend bag addressed to the noble Earl, but I would ask the noble Earl, if I may, to consider this matter, and, if possible, remove this grievance. No one knows better than the noble Earl how many questions there are pending between the Imperial Government and the local authorities of various counties in Ireland, and it is highly undesirable to add what seems to me to be a legitimate grievance in the case of the two counties of Mayo and Galway to the other difficulties, especially when the whole amount at issue is one which will not materially affect the prosperity of the guaranteeing railway. It will, however, be felt by the ratepayers, who already are extremely heavily burdened, and it would be a serious attack on their privileges if these words were inserted. I do not think that anybody can doubt that the guaranteeing railway from the first regarded the expense of working the line as infinitesimal. They would not even go into it. The ratepayers have a right to regard the share which they had of gross takings as being a permanent share. This discussion is altogether informal, and I am certain my noble friend will do his best to meet the difficulties.
THE EARL OF LYTTON
My Lords, I do not quite know what part I can take in this rather curious and, as the noble Earl has called it, informal discussion. I ventured a short time ago to suggest to your Lordships that it might be convenient to take the Second Reading discussion of this Bill to-day. The Bill, I still feel, raises no difference of opinion on matters of principle. I must point out to the noble Lord, Lord Killanin, that I did not speak of the Bill as an agreed Bill. He will remember that I specially referred to the point in regard to which he and those he represented did not agree with the clause of the Bill as it now stands. I did say, so far as the Second Reading was concerned, that I believed there was no one in this House, or outside this House, who wished to reject the Second Reading of the Bill. Therefore, for the purposes of Second Reading discussion, I thought I might claim that we were all agreed, and that it would be a convenience to take the Second Reading to-day, and go into Committee to-morrow, when the Amendment of the noble Lord would be on the Paper, and, therefore, Notice would be given to those who are not here to-day that the discussion will take place.
However, your Lordships have decided otherwise. You have decided instead to have a Committee stage discussion on one clause of the Bill, which has not yet been read a second time, and with which your Lordships, unless you have read it outside, are in no way familiar. I confess that have some difficulty in dealing with such a situation. I cannot enter into the arguments which have been raised by the noble Lord, because they are Committee paints which we will discuss when we get into Committee; but, as this informal discussion has taken place, there are two things that I would like to say with regard to the subject.
The noble Lord said that he took exception to Clause 3 of the Bill, and then he asked: "What is the history of this clause? ''He said," I will give your Lordships the history of Clause 3." Then he proceeded to give to your Lordships the history, not of Clause 3, but of the baronial kind of railways in which he is interested. He assumed that Clause 3 had been put into the Bill solely for the purpose of dealing with that particular railway company. There are many railways in Ireland to which this clause refers, and this is only one of the undertakings of that kind to which the clause would 984 apply. The noble and learned Lord, Lord Shandon, said he did not know if there were any other railways, but he did know that at any rate they had never been consulted. That seemed to me to be a very strange piece of knowledge, because he did know that parties, the existence of which he was unaware of, had not been consulted. But I can assure the noble and learned Lord that; there are other undertakings in Ireland to which this clause will apply, and I cannot hold out any hopes whatever of being willing, when we get into Committee, to agree to the excision of the clause.
Then the noble Lord, Lord Killanin, said that the Government had shown that they recognised this clause was an injustice, because they had referred the matter to the Council of Ireland. But we have done nothing of the kind. The Bill does not refer the matter to the Council of Ireland. The Bill makes a settlement, and it says the settlement shall continue until, through the operation of existing law, the Council of Ireland, acting on behalf of the people of Ireland, decides to discontinue it. It is not a question of referring the matter to any other body, still less an admission that it is an injustice. It is a safeguarding of the future rights of the people of Ireland under the Government of Ireland Act to whom the administration of the railways will be handed over if they so please to change the policy. The noble Lord said he could not find the Council of Ireland in the speeches of Mr. Lloyd George, or of Mr. de Valera. I would suggest to him he should not look for it there, but in the Statute. At the present moment it is the law that if and when the Government of Ireland Act comes into operation a body called the Council of Ireland will deal with this matter of the administration of railways, and, therefore, that provision is put into the Bill in order to safeguard the right: of the Irish legislative body, should it ever function. If it does not come into existence and does not, function, then the provisions of this Act will continue.
I will only say, in conclusions that I will do what the noble Earl who spoke last has asked me to do. I will consider very carefully, with those who advise me, the case which has been put forward by the two noble Lords from Ireland. May I say that, so far as I am concerned, this informal discussion has been of great assistance It is not usual that a Government has the 985 advantage of seeing not only the Amendment but the argument of those who put it down. in advance, before they have to prepare their reply. Owing to this unusual procedure I have that advantage, for which.I am thankful. I can assure the noble Earl that though I certainly will never agree to the excision of Clause 3, if I am unable to do anything to meet the case of this particular railway which the noble Lord has referred to, I will at least submit to your Lordships my answer to his case and make the best justification I can for the provision of the Bill.
THE EARL OF MAYO
I hope when the noble Earl deals with this question he will mention the other baronial railways that are affected by this clause, because that is a very important thing to have considered. I gather from the cause, and from what the noble Earl has said, that the subsidy goes on until the Home Rule Bill, and the Council mentioned in the Home Rule Bill comes into existence. Is that the case?
THE EARL OF MAYO
I agree with Lord Killanin when lie says that it is all in the air and he has not the slightest idea when t hose circumstances are to come about. A great many things have happened since we passed that Bill. As far as I can make out from what the noble Earl has just said, he refuses to allow the deletion of this clause in any way, and therefore I really do not see how he is going to meet us with regard to this particular railway, because he cannot possibly make an exception of one baronial railway and not deal with the others. Therefore I consider that so far as it has gone, the answer of the noble Earl to the request of my noble friend Lord Killanin, and my noble friend Lord Shandon, and my noble friend Lord Midleton, is not, as far as we have heard it, satisfactory.
§ THE EARL OF MIDLETON
I presume this Bill will be put down on the Paper before the discussion to be begun by Lord Salisbury to-morrow, because if any Amendment should be made it will certainly require to go back to the House of Commons, and it might be very inconvenient if it were done at a late hour.
THE EARL OF LITTON
As regards procedure. I understand the Bill will appear on the Order Paper for its Second Reading. I think it was understood, in an informal discussion that took place, that, contrary to our usual practice, although the Bill has not been read a second time, the Amendment of the noble Lord. Lord Killanin, in will also be circulated. If that is so, it will be known to all those who receive their Papers, who are not in the House to-day, that the Bill will be taken. It is also understood that the Government, the Standing Orders having been suspended, will ask your Lordships to take all the stages of the Bill to-morrow, and that will also appear in the OFFICIAL REPORTS of these proceedings to-day, which will be circulated with to-morrow's Papers.
THE MARQUESS OF CREWE
With regard to the special question raised by the noble Earl behind me, I thought that it was a. definite understanding that Lord Salisbury, on his Motion, should have precedence of ail others. It was for that reason that I suggested your Lordships continuing to sit this afternoon in order that the Safeguarding of Industries Bill, and the House of Commons' decision on our Amendments to that Bill, should be cleared away to-day. But if Lord Salisbury's Motion is not to be the first measure. I should be disposed to ask that at any rate the House of Commons' decision on the Safeguarding of Industries Bill should have at least an equal chance with the Amendment of my noble friend.
THE EARL OF CRAWFORD
There is no misunderstanding on that point. The undertaking with Lord Salisbury was that his Motion should be the first Order, subject to anything that was uncontroversial being put before his Motion, for mutual convenience. If the debate on Clause 3 to-morrow does not occupy more than five or ten minutes, Lord Salisbury, I imagine, would not object to its being taken in order that an Amendment, if any, should go down to the House of Commons. If, as is quite possible, the Irish Bill will only occupy a minute or two, it will be looked upon as a matter which could be taken in front of the Motion of the noble Marquess in order that if any Amendment is made in the Bill it could go to the other House.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
Of course, I have no objection to anything of that kind, but I take it that it would be nothing more than two or three minutes conversation.
§ LORD KILLANIN
The particular clause I wish to delete only applies to two lines, and I mention it now because it may simplify our procedure to-morrow.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
If your Lordships will forgive me for rising again, may I say that if the Irish Bill is to take an hour or so —
THE EARL OF CRAWFORD
That is out of the question. If it is to take anything like that time, it cannot come first. I think half-an-hour would be the outside limit, but I hope, in view of the undertaking I have given to the noble Marquess, that we shall not be pressed to take the Bill if it occupies more than a quarter of an hour.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ House adjourned during pleasure.
§ House resumed.