§ Brought from the Commons, read la, and to be printed.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, I should like to ask His Majesty's Government, if this is a convenient moment, on which day they propose to take the Second Reading of this Bill.
§ THE PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY OF THE MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE AND FISHERIES (THE EARL OF ANCASTER)
My Lords, I should per- 4 sonally have liked to take the Second Reading next Thursday. I should have thought, that that would be a convenient date, because if the Second Reading were taken then, there would be a whole week between the Second Reading, if your Lordships are good enough to agree to it, and Committee, for the consideration by the different interests concerned of any Amendments they might wish to make, and it would also allow them to give notice of the same. I am informed in private conversation that a certain number of noble Lords are very interested in this subject, and that they would prefer that both the Second Reading and the Committee stage should be taken in the same week; that is to say, the Second Reading on Tuesday and the Committee stage on Thursday.
I do not know whether your Lordships consider that to be a convenient course to adopt, but I might point out that it places myself and the Ministry in rather a difficult position, because it will give us very little time in which to consider any Amendments appearing on the Paper between Tuesday and Thursday. It would mean, probably, that I should be unaware until the Wednesday afternoon of what Amendments your Lordships proposed to put down, and there would be only Wednesday night and Thursday morning for the consideration of those Amendments. I have no idea whether the Amendments are to be very complicated and lengthy, but I should have preferred, if possible, to have the Second Reading next Thursday. On that question, however, I must place myself in the hands of your Lordships. Although I should have preferred the Second Reading on Thursday of this week and the Committee stage on the following Thursday, if noble Lords think that the other course is more suitable, and that the Second Reading should be taken on Tuesday next, I shall have to give way, to meet the express desire of the House.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I quite understand the noble Earl's point of view, and I should like to thank him very much for the kind way in which he has received my Question. I think, from the opportunities I have had of consulting noble Lords interested in agriculture, that they think it would be altogether too soon to take the Second Reading the day after to-morrow, inasmuch as the Bill is not only not yet printed in this House, but has 5 not yet been printed in the other House, because, as your Lordships are probably aware, it underwent an important modification only last night in the House of Commons. In those circumstances, noble Lords will not have had an opportunity of seeing the Bill until to-morrow, and there would hardly be time in. which to consider what course they ought to take in respect of the Second Reading, which would then follow almost immediately. If the Government: see to allow the Second Reading to stand over until Tuesday, I think that would improve the case for not having a long interval between the Second Reading and the Committee stage. I do not anticipate that the points which will be raised will be large in number, though they may be of very considerable importance; that, however, is quite another matter. I should not have thought, with the consideration which the House will be able to give to the Bill between now and the Second Reading, that they would want more than two days in order to frame their amendments for the Committee stage. I rather hope, therefore, that the Government will adopt that course.
§ THE EARL OF ANCASTER
In those circumstances, I shall fail in with the noble Marquess's suggestion, if he thinks it will be for the convenience of the House. I can only say that, for my own part, I hope that noble Lords who intend to raise questions of great importance will give me notice of them as early as possible after the Second Reading, because my chief fear is that I shall be rather rushed between notice of Amendments and the Committee stage.
§ LORD STRACHIE
My Lords, I beg to give notice that on the Motion for the Second Reading of the Bill, I shall move to leave out all words after "That" in order to insert "this House refuses its assent to a partial and lop-sided repeal of the Agriculture Act, 1920."