HL Deb 06 December 1927 vol 69 cc514-7

My Lords, in accordance with a promise which I made yesterday I have furnished myself with a few notes as to the business which it is intended to ask your Lordships to transact before the Christmas Prorogation. I am afraid the bill of fare which it is my duty to offer to you does not err on the side of being too small, and I would only beg your Lordships to realise that I am not, nor is any member of your Lordships' House, responsible for the crowding of the business at this period of the Session to the extent to which I shall have to call your attention.

As the House is already aware, on Thursday and Friday of this week we intend to get through the Committee stage of the Landlord and Tenant (No. 2) Bill, and on Friday, I am afraid, I shall have to ask your Lordships also to take the Report stage of the Cinematograph Films Bill. Of course we shall be prepared to sit after dinner on Thursday, but that depends on what your Lordships wish. On Friday we shall meet earlier, namely, at the ordinary-morning sitting time of 11 o'clock, and we will continue as long as is necessary in order to finish the Committee stage of the Landlord and Tenant Bill and get through the Report stage of the Cinematograph Films Bill. That will finish this week. As to next week, the first three days, as the House is aware, have been allotted to the Prayer Book Measure—Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. On Thursday, we are able to assure your Lordships, we shall be able to present the Unemployment Insurance Bill for Second Reading and on the same day I shall try to get the Report of the Landlord and Tenant Bill. I put it in that tentative way because it is obviously possible that the discussion on the Unemployment Insurance Bill may take so long that it will be impossible to take the Report of the Landlord and Tenant Bill that day. In that case it will have to be put off till the following day—Friday of next week.

I come now to a number of other Bills, not of the first importance, yet matters of substance. There are the Audit (Local Authorities) Bill, the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill, the Public Works Loans Bill and the Sheriff Courts and Legal Officers (Scotland) Bill. Those Bills are not yet through the House of Commons and therefore one cannot say with certainly when they will be ready for consideration by your Lordships, but I hope that they will be ready by Friday in next week for Second Reading. In that case they will all be put down on the Order Paper so that, if possible, we shall be able to take them. Then on Monday, the 19th, we hope to take the Unemployment Insurance Bill in Committee. That, as your Lordships will see, will leave a considerable time between the two stages—not too much, but still the Second Reading will be on the Thursday and the Committee stage on the Monday. On Tuesday, the 20th, we propose to take the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill in Committee and other Bills, on the 21st, the Unemployment Insurance Bill on Report and other Bills and on the 22nd the Unemployment Insurance Bill on Third Reading. That will leave only one day, and I do not think that that is more than enough margin considering the very large amount of legislation which is presented to your Lordships. Of course it is always possible that your Lordships may amend these Bills. Indeed, in regard to many of them it is to be hoped that you will. I have no doubt you will do them good. Then they would have to go back to the House of Commons.


My Lords, one thing is obvious and that is that the Government began these autumn sittings much too late having regard to the very large programme of Bills with which they were loaded. Well, that is over and we say no more about it now, but it is a warning to us in future. The programme which the noble Marquess has put before us is certainly one which is likely to last up to the 23rd. If necessary we shall have to sit after Christmas or into Christmas to do it. For myself, lather than that these Bills should perish, I am quite prepared to come here on Christmas Day. But at any rate we have got to get through these Bills somehow, and I think it is no use trying to make forecasts just now of how things may stand. There were four Bills to which the noble Marquess alluded, four minor Bills which ought to go through very quickly. I have observed that the prospect of an impending vacation does accelerate the progress of Bills through this House more than any other consideration which I have experienced. Anyhow, we must hope for the best. We must use up the time. The Unemployment Insurance Bill is a very serious Bill, which may require a good deal of discussion on the Second Reading and in Committee, but except for that I do not think the estimate which the noble Marquess has made is an extravagant one. Anyhow, we of the Opposition will do our best to assist the general purpose.


My Lords, I agree with what the noble Viscount has said in regard to the minor Bills enumerated by the noble Marquess the Leader of the House. The real difficulty which I think may occur is in regard to the possibility of Government Amendments. I am very glad, if I may say so in passing, that the noble Marquess corrected what I thought at one moment was his intention, that there should be an after dinner sitting on Friday. An after dinner sitting on Thursday, yes, but an early sitting on Friday is the usual custom of the House. The real difficulty may be in regard to Amendments which the Government may desire themselves to introduce. On one or two of the Bills which have lately come before your Lordships' House—the Cinematograph Films Bill, for instance—there has been a long list of Amendments proposed by the Government. The Amendments may not necessarily be on points of importance, but there were a number of them.

I doubt a little bit whether in these circumstances we shall be able to get through the Committee stage of the Unemployment Insurance Bill in a single day. If the Second Reading is taken on the Thursday we only have the one sitting day in which we may put down Amendments in order to consider them before they come up for discussion in the House. The suggestion I would venture to make is that perhaps the Report and Third Reading stages of the Unemployment Insurance Bill might be taken on the same day. I do not think there would be very much objection made to that. The fact of the matter is—and it does case the situation—that we are living, as my noble friend Lord Carson pointed out, under a system of single chamber government at the present time and Amendments moved in this House are not generally accepted by the Government.


My Lords, I will gladly consider, if it is the wish of the House, whether it would be possible to save time by telescoping two stages of the Unemployment Insurance Bill together according to the suggestion of the noble Earl. If that is found possible I would certainly avail myself of it. I am encouraged by what has been said by the noble Earl and the noble Viscount as to the facility of getting through the smaller Bills, to mention what I hardly dared mention before, that there are one or two other smaller Bills which it will no doubt be in the interests of the country to get through if there is any possibility of doing so. I am sure your Lordships will realise that I speak of them in a very doubtful sense, but I may just give the titles of them. There are the Destructive Insects and Pests Bill, the Road Transport Lighting Bill—your Lordships are probably familiar with its main provisions, which are very simple—the Mental Deficiency Bill and the Nursing Homes (Registration) Bill. These Bills are not yet through the House of Commons of course and one cannot speak with any confidence about them, but supposing they were non-contentious in your Lordships' House perhaps the Government may ask you to agree to them.


I would ask in regard to that last list whether the noble Marquess has considered a Bill which has already, I think, passed this House, for adding two Indian Judges to the Judicial Committee? That would not delay us much. I hope that Bill will be passed this Session. It is very vital.

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