§ EARL BEAUCHAMP
My Lords, there is a question on our future business which should like to be allowed to address to the noble Marquess the Leader of the House. A number of members of your Lordships' House are anxious to speak on the Motion relating to national expenditure which stands in my name for March 16, and as there is an important Bill [Education (Employment of Children and Young Persons) Bill] down for March 17, I understand it would probably meet the general convenience of your Lordships if the discussion on my Motion were continued on March 22 and if my noble friend Lord Oxford and Asquith moved the adjournment of the debate on Wednesday the 16th, so that he should speak at the beginning of the resumed debate on March 22. I should be very much obliged if the noble Marquess would let me know if he thinks that that would meet with his approval and that of the members of your Lordships' House.
§ LORD PARMOOR
My Lords, perhaps before the noble Marquess replies I might be allowed to say that it would quite suit the convenience of noble Lords on this Bench if the debate were adjourned from the first day until March 22.
§ THE LORD PRIVY SEAL (THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY)
My Lords, it appears to be the general wish that if the debate which begins on March 16 is adjourned it should be continued on the 22nd. I understand that my noble friend Lord Astor, who has a Bill down on that day, has been extremely courteous in this matter and has been willing to alter the day for the Bastardy Bill. He is going to ask your Lordships, as will be observed by the Orders which are before us, to allow him to anticipate the date upon which he had put it down, and in that way to free the 22nd entirely so far as he is concerned. I hope, I must say, 370 that your Lordships will be willing to let him do that, and we have only to express our thanks to my noble friend for his courtesy in the matter. But, of course, it is open to any of your Lordships to put down another Bill on that day.
So far as the Government is concerned, I will promise at once to the noble Earl that no Government Order shall be allowed to interfere with his Motion on the 22nd. I have no control, of course, over the freedom of your Lordships, but perhaps I may be allowed to express the hope that as so distinguished a member of our House as Lord Oxford and Asquith desires to speak first on that day perhaps your Lordships would co-operate with the Government in trying to avoid the interposition of any Order of the Day which would take precedence of the noble Earl's Motion. I cannot help thinking that your Lordships will be willing to agree to that, and in that case the matter would work exactly upon the lines which the noble Earl has foreshadowed.
THE EARL OF CRAWFORD
My Lords, I am entirely in favour of the measure of sacrosanctity for the 22nd proposed in the interests of Lord Oxford and Asquith, but Lord Astor's Bill excites much controversy, and it is a contentious proposal to bring it forward by five days. This Bill has for weeks been down for March 22, and now, unexpectedly, we are told it is to be taken on the 17th instead of on the 22nd. I should prefer that the Bill were postponed to a later date than the 22nd rather than brought forward.
§ EARL BEAUCHAMP
Lord Astor, unfortunately, is going abroad, and therefore cannot take a date subsequently to that day. I am very much obliged to the noble Marquess the Leader of the House for what he has been good enough to say in meeting our wishes with regard to the debate and we will promise not to try to take a snap Division on Wednesday the 16th.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, as my noble friend Lord Crawford has indicated, it is a strong measure to bring this Bill forward. There is no question about that, but when I was approached on the subject I said: "If you are going to do anything of that kind, for goodness sake give as long a notice as possible to the House of Lords." It was 371 under my direction that the Motion anticipating this was put down so as to give your Lordships full notice. I hope, therefore, that the inconvenience of noble Lords will be minimised.