HL Deb 15 June 1926 vol 64 cc402-4

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, in deference to a request of the noble Marquess the Leader of the House, I propose to postpone the Second Reading of this Bill until Tuesday, July 20, but I hope that before that date the Government will have introduced legislation to effect something like the same object as my Bill. I think it is clearly necessary, if only one sees what happened to a firm who gave their experience in a letter to The Times, signing it in their name, to the effect that having taken on during the strike three volunteers, the trade unions attended and informed them that if they did not dismiss these three volunteers and take in their place three trade unionists no Government Department, no corporation and no county council would ever give them any more business. That that sort of thing is permitted in a civilised country shows that there is need for legislation of this sort. I observe that it is stated in The Times this morn- ing—I do not know with what truth—that the Government intend to consider whether or not it will not be possible to bring in some legislation to deal with this subject in the Autumn Session. I hope they will not postpone the matter till so late a date. The longer a thing is postponed the less chance there is of anything being done. I am sorry also to see that an Autumn Session is contemplated, because the longer the House of Commons sits after passing the Consolidated Fund Bill and the Finance Bill the more mischief it does.


My Lords, I gather that my noble friend does not move the Second Reading, but I should like to ask the leave of your Lordships to express my thanks to my noble friend for having been good enough at my request, as representing His Majesty's Government, to postpone his Bill. I asked him for the very same reason which I gave to your Lordships on a previous occasion—namely, that the subject appears to be one which, if it is to be dealt with at all, should only be dealt with by His Majesty's Government. My noble friend expressed a hope that the Government would deal with this subject. I only desire to say on that head that he must not think that there is any understanding of that kind. That is not the case. We remain absolutely uncommitted upon that point.


My Lords, I understand that if this Bill is postponed it will have to be postponed with the consent of the House, and I have a right therefore to say one or two words in reference to what has fallen from the noble Lord.


I have not moved.


I know, but the Question of the postponement will have to be put. I entirely agree with what the noble Marquess has said. I think everyone must agree that a question of this extreme importance could only be approached through a scheme brought forward by the Government itself. The idea of dealing with a matter of this kind by legislation promoted by an individual member is unthinkable and quite impossible. I see present a noble Earl who, in 1906, expressed his approval of the Trade Disputes Act, going to the length of saying that he could not understand, after the explanation then given in the House of Commons, any one taking objection to it, or words to that effect. Of course, we know that the Act itself was based upon the Report of a Royal Commission.


I wonder whether the noble Lord would allow me to interrupt him for a moment? I think that, as Lord Banbury has expressed his wish to postpone the Bill, it would be inconvenient for us to go into the merits of this subject. I cannot help thinking that most of your Lordships would agree.


I entirely agree with the noble Marquess; I am not suggesting going into the merits of the subject. I wish, however, that the noble Lord had said nothing on the subject. I have said all that I desired to say—namely, that when the matter comes to be discussed it will require very serious consideration.

Second Reading of the Bill put off till Tuesday, July 20.