§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, after what passed on Tuesday perhaps the noble and learned Lord the Leader of the House would be good enough to inform your Lordships of the proposals which the Government have to make for the remainder of the sittings before the Recess.
§ THE LORD PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL (LORD PARMOOR)
My Lords, I think I can make now a full statement on that point, although the other point which the noble Marquess raised, as to when we should come back after the adjournment, will have to stand over. Of course notice of that will be given before we separate. When I answered the noble Marquess the other day I said that I thought it was rather optimistic to hope that we should get away at the end of next week, but I am told that if we can get through our business it is hoped, as far as the other place is concerned, that the adjournment may take place on Friday of next week. I shall have to ask assistance, I think, from the noble Marquess opposite and from the noble Earl, Lord Beauchamp, but I hope that we shall be able to get away on Friday of next week. Probably there will have to be a sitting for the Royal Assent to be given to Bills, but as far as work is concerned we hope it will be finished before Friday of next week.
I will tell the noble Marquess what arrangements are proposed. Although the Bills we have to deal with are numerous having regard to the time, yet I think their character is such that they can be readily discussed within the period which I have stated. Some of them are Money Bills and others are of the character of the Arbitration (Foreign Awards) Bill which I moved the other day—Bills of procedure on which, I think, we shall not have much discussion. We shall want a formal sitting to-morrow morning for which I can arrange. I do not ask any noble Lords to come down for that. It will be a sitting to receive 124 two Bills from the Commons. There is no judicial business here to-morrow and I find that quarter past eleven would be a convenient time for the sitting to give a First Reading to the Unemployment Insurance Bill and the Irish Free State (Confirmation of Agreement) Bill. As they cannot reach here until a late hour to-night that is the most convenient arrangement.
Then I shall have to ask your Lordships to meet on Monday at the ordinary time. We propose to take on that day the Second Readings of the Unemployment Insurance Bill and the Irish Free State (Confirmation of Agreement) Bill. The first is chiefly a Money Bill and the other a Bill to confirm an agreement, a matter well within your Lordships' cognisance. There will also be the First Reading of the Colonial Development Bill—of course that will be a formal stage—and the First Reading of the Housing (Revision of Contributions) Bill. We may have to take the First Reading of the Housing Bill rather late because it is not likely to come from the other House early in the day, but as soon as it comes from the other House we will take it.
On Tuesday I propose that we shall take the remaining stages of the Arbitration (Foreign Awards) Bill. As was indicated by the noble and learned Viscount, Lord Hailsham, I think there is not likely to be any Amendment from the Front Opposition Bench. I have been in communication with the noble and learned Lord, Lord Atkin, and I hope the point to which he drew your Lordships' attention will be settled amicably before that time so that if an Amendment is necessary we may introduce an agreed Amendment. There will also be the remaining stages of the Unemployment Insurance Bill and the Irish Free State (Confirmation of Agreement) Bill, the Second Readings of the Colonial Development Bill and the Housing Bill and the First Reading, which may be late, of the Development (Loan Guarantees and Grants) Bill. It is an important Bill which deals with the question of unemployment, but it is substantially a Money Bill. The necessary Money Resolution will, of course, have been passed in another place.
On Wednesday, July 24, the Motion of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Darling, stands first and I do not propose 125 in any way to interfere with it. Then we shall take the remaining stages of the Colonial Development Bill and the Housing (Revision of Contributions) Bill. On Thursday, July 25, I have ascertained from the Lord Chancellor, there will not be a judicial sitting of this House and, although he may have a difficulty in being present owing to Privy Council business, the noble Earl, Lord Donoughmore, will be prepared to take his place on that day, when it is proposed to take the Development (Loan Guarantees and Grants) Bill through all its stages. We know that His Majesty's Garden Party will take place in the afternoon of that day, and accordingly I propose that, since there is no judicial business, we should meet at twelve o'clock, if that will suit your Lordships' convenience. That would enable us, subject to the Royal Assent being given to Bills on Friday, to adjourn on Friday. I have information from the other House that they will be prepared to adjourn on the same day and will be able to get through their business by that time. I trust that this is a convenient programme. I hope to have the assistance of the noble Marquess opposite and of the noble Earl, Lord Beauchamp, and, if any improvement in detail is suggested by them, I say at once that we shall be ready to meet them. We hope that with their assistance we shall adjourn on Friday week. That is all that I have to say about the future course of business, and I hope it is satisfactory.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, your Lordships will, of course, realise that these proposals have been explained to the House this evening for the first time. The noble and learned Lord has spoken of a great deal of business. I should like him to realise that it is not quite sufficient to say that a Bill is a Money Bill or that it is not a contentious Bill, for your Lordships may wish to discuss it notwithstanding those two circumstances. I think it would be a great pity if it became an accepted idea that, whenever a Bill is a Money Bill, no time should be given to its discussion or that, if it is held to be non-contentious, your Lordships may not, within the limits of that very general phrase, be able to amend it and make it very much better. I should like very respectfully to protest against any assumption of that kind being made.
126 When I turn to the list of material that is to be submitted to us, I confess to feeling a little astonished. Most of these Bills are important Bills—I do not say that they are contentious—and they are to be put through in a very limited number of days, if the Government persist in their view and your Lordships agree to it. I see no objection whatever, of course, to a formal meeting to-morrow to receive certain Bills and read them a first time, and I think that the Government are well within their rights and all the precedents in having a Monday sitting. All this is perfectly reasonable. But I should not like to be held to have agreed, without time for consideration, to the programme which the noble and learned Lord has outlined as to next week's business. We shall have to look into these Bills rather carefully. We have not even seen them, they are still in the House of Commons, and I must frankly admit that personally I am not acquainted with many of their provisions. They may be merely formal or they may be very important. I cannot help thinking, for example, that the Housing (Revision of Contributions) Bill is a Bill of some considerable importance, but that is a matter on which I should not like to pronounce until I have had an opportunity of studying its provisions.
Accordingly, although we are very grateful to the noble and learned Lord for his statement and I can assure him that we shall do our utmost to help the Government to get the business through, yet I should not like to commit myself now, in so far as I speak for noble Lords on this side of the House, to falling in completely with the views that he has put forward until we have had a little time for consideration. I do not know that I need say more, but I should like to ask the noble and learned Lord a question as to what has happened to the Local Government (Scotland) Act Amendment Bill. It was foreshadowed to us that a Bill amending an important Act which your Lordships' House joined in passing a few months ago was going to be dealt with. I should be glad to know what has to be said on behalf of the Government in respect of that Bill.
§ LORD PARMOOR
Perhaps I had better reply to the observations of the noble Marquess, and then the noble Earl, 127 Lord Beauchamp, will, no doubt, express his view. Of course, I never intended to lay down any principle as regards Bills which are non-contentious or Money Bills in opposition in any way to what the noble Marquess has said. This House retains, always has retained and, I hope, always will retain full power of discussion and consideration. The question in my mind was whether, in the circumstances of the present case, any of these Bills were such that we could not possibly deal with them somewhat in accord with the programme that I have sketched out. If that cannot be done, of course, we shall not be able to adjourn quite so soon, but I think that when we come to business no great difficulty will arise. The noble Marquess asked me about the Local Government (Scotland) Act Amendment Bill. That Bill is not going to be proceeded with, and therefore your Lordships will not be troubled with the matter.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
Does the noble and learned Lord mean that it will not be proceeded with at all, or that it will not be proceeded with in the present sittings?
§ LORD PARMOOR
If it were not proceeded with in the present sittings, it could not be proceeded with later, so far as I am aware, because it is a question of suspending the date upon which certain provisions are to come into force.
§ LORD PARMOOR
I think it is, but, when the noble Viscount—whom I congratulate upon having been made an Earl—cross examines me too closely, I can only tell him what I understand the proposal to be—namely, that the Bill will be dropped, because it would be of no use to go on with it unless we did so at this stage. The time would be past. I am much obliged to the noble Marquess for what he has said. I really think that with his help we shall get through our programme and shall be able to meet the other House and have an adjournment on Friday week.
§ EARL BEAUCHAMP
My Lords, the Lord President was good enough to ask me my opinion. I do not hesitate to say that the programme that he adumbrates seems to me quite reasonable in the circumstances. 128 I do not know that I should be prepared to say this on another occasion, but the fact that the Government has only lately been formed and that there is to be an adjournment very soon makes it quite evident that there are peculiar circumstances at the present moment, and in those circumstances I am quite prepared to do all that in me lies to help His Majesty's Government to get these Bills through before we adjourn.
§ LORD PARMOOR
I am much obliged to the noble Earl for what he has said. He can obviously be of very great assistance to us in getting these Bills through in the period that I propose.