§ VISCOUNT HALDANE
My Lords, I rise to ask the noble Marquess the Leader of the House a question of which I have given him private notice—namely, whether he can make any statement as to the course of business in the next few days.
§ THE LORD PRIVY SEAL (THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY)
My Lords, I am very glad indeed to respond to the question of the noble and learned Viscount. He has been extremely considerate in not pressing me on these matters earlier. The answer which I give cannot in all respects be regarded as conclusive because there are certain doubtful elements still remaining. I shall have to ask his indulgence and the indulgence of your Lordships because, owing to an engagement of official importance, I shall not be present on the closing days of the Session. But to begin with, on Thursday next, I am given to understand, there is a social event of considerable importance of a semi-official character, and it might be convenient to your Lordships in those circumstances, as the business on the Paper is not very heavy, if we met at three o'clock instead of at the usual hour. With your Lordships' consent I shall take steps accordingly.
With regard to the Finance Bill, that will reach us, I believe, in time to take the First Reading on Thursday. It is usual to take the other stages in one discussion, as your Lordships are aware, and with the consent of the House I propose to put the Second Reading and the other stages down for Monday. I hope that will be convenient. Then we come to the principal Bill which remains to be dealt with before the adjournment—the Mining Industry Bill. I had hoped that that would reach your Lordships on Friday and I was going to pro- 56 pose that there should be a formal sitting of the House on that day to receive it, and had I been lucky enough to be right in that respect that would have been the course I should have suggested to your Lordships. But I have been given to understand within the last few minutes that it is not likely the Bill will reach us before Monday and in that case, of course, we cannot read it a first time until that day. I hope, nevertheless, that your Lordships will be willing to take the Second Reading on Tuesday.
Of course, if the Bill were received on Friday that would not be out of the question, but undoubtedly, if we receive the Bill only on Monday, to read it a second time on Tuesday is a strong measure. At the same time, the interval between the First and Second Readings of a Bill coming from the Commons is not so important as the subsequent intervals in the passage of the Bill because, although we are not officially seised of the Bill until it reaches us, yet most of us know what the Bill contains and I should think many of your Lordships who take an interest in the subject, which is one of deep importance, have already read the Bill, possibly several times. Therefore it does not amount exactly to the same invasion of your Lordships' privileges to take a short interval between the First and Second Readings as would be the case in the subsequent stages. Supposing I carry the House with me to that extent I should suggest that the Second Reading of the Bill should take place on Tuesday the 27th. I understand that it would be convenient for the Opposition to defer the Committee stage until the following Monday, August 2. I am afraid your Lordships must take your Bank Holiday a little later. But it is usual for us to sit on August Bank Holiday and, therefore, there is no innovation in that respect. I wonder whether I might ask your Lordships to take that course? The subsequent stages it is a little early to anticipate, but I believe it is hoped that the adjournment for the Recess will take place at the end of that week, and your Lordships will of course decide whether you are able to conform to that intention. That is as far as I can go but, even so far, I hope your Lordships will understand that I do not pledge myself. All these arrange- 57 ments may have to be modified in order to suit the proceedings in another place. We are familiar with that difficulty. It remains the case on this occasion as on others.
§ VISCOUNT HALDANE
My Lords, at the end of the Session we are always crowded as regards events. The Mining Industry Bill, as the noble Marquess has said, has been read by most of us during its passage through the Commons. We know what it is likely to consist of. Therefore I make no objection to taking it upon Tuesday assuming that it be read a first time not later than Monday. Then the Committee stage can be taken on Bank Holiday. We will see later about subsequent arrangements.