§ Moved, That Standing Order No. XXXIX be considered in order to its being dispensed with for this day's sitting, for the purpose of passing the Government of India (Aden) Bill and the Land Drainage Bill [H.L.] through their remaining stages.—(Lord Parmoor.)
LORD STRACHIE moved, after the first "Bill," to leave out "and the Land Drainage Bill [H.L.]." The noble Lord said: My Lords, to put myself in order in taking objection to the passing of this Motion, I move to leave out the reference to the Land Drainage Bill, and I do so for this reason. Only this morning there was circulated a very big Amendment to that Bill in the name of the noble Earl, Lord De La Warr. That Amendment seems to have the object of carrying out what the Bill as originally introduced ought to have done. As introduced, the Bill was impossible to understand. I have taken the opportunity of consulting members of another place who are experts in this matter and they have said that they could not understand the Bill at all. But as the Amendment now stands it would be quite right. It really only carries out what the noble Earl said in reply to myself. He said—
This Bill concerns itself purely with the qualifications for voting, and it has no relation whatever to the basis on which drainage rates are to be levied.
May I ask why the noble Earl did not introduce his Bill in that form? It seems to me that it is not treating this House with respect to say that we are at once to swallow an Amendment which apparently alters the whole Bill. I venture to suggest to the Lord President that he will greatly assist the passage of the Bill in another place if he agrees to put off the Committee stage of the Bill until next Monday or Tuesday in order that there may be some communication between the noble Earl and myself regarding this matter. I do not think he will be wasting any time in doing so. I assure him that very strong objection is taken in another place, and that it will not facilitate the Bill if he insists upon his Motion as it stands. I beg to move.
§ Amendment moved—
§ LORD PARMOOR
My Lords, I am sorry that I am unable to assent to the 136 suggestion of the noble Lord, Lord Strachie. I hope he will not insist upon his Amendment and trouble your Lordships with a Division at this stage. As the noble Lord knows, the noble Earl, Lord De La Warr, is in charge of the Bill. I have read the Amendment to which the noble Lord referred and it does not appear to me to be either mysterious or difficult. It is necessary to have it in the Bill in order that the Bill may be effective for the purposes for which it is being brought forward. I leave any discussion of the Amendment now, because I think once will be sufficient. As I say, I cannot assent to the noble Lord's proposal and I hope he will withdraw it.
§ LORD STRACHIE
My Lords, as I apparently seem to have no support on this side of the House upon this question—
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, perhaps the noble Lord will forgive me. I was waiting because I was not sure whether some other noble Lord wished to take part. I am not disposed, of course, to support the noble Lord in his Amendment. After what has passed I do not think it would be quite fair to ask the Government not to include this Bill in the Motion they are making. On the other hand, I think I am entitled to make this appeal to the noble and learned Lord. I understand that if we pass this Motion in the form in which it is moved, he intends to take the Land Drainage Bill through its remaining stages this evening. As exception has been taken to a very long and, for all I know, a very important Amendment standing in the name of the noble Earl in charge of the Bill, it would be a little hard on your Lordships to ask the House to part with the Bill completely to-night without time really to consider at ail the form which it will have assumed in the event of the noble Earl's Amendment being carried. I am not going to discuss the merits of the noble Earl's Amendment at this moment. That would be more disorderly even than anything else which might be done in your Lordships' House; but I suggest to the noble Earl that it would be going a very long way to force the Bill through all its stages to-night when it is clear that the Government themselves are not satisfied with the form in which it stands at present.
137 I think we might very legitimately ask the noble Earl, if we do not agree with the noble Lord, Lord Strachie, in his Amendment, that he would not take more than the Committee stage to-night and would let the other stages stand over, so that we should have some opportunity of seeing how the Bill stands and be able to confer with people interested in the matter outside your Lordships' House as to whether anything further ought to be done. It is a rather strong measure to carry through all its stages a Bill which can no longer be looked upon as purely non-controversial and may be a matter of importance. I think I might very respectfully put that question to the Government
§ LORD PARMOOR
My Lords, I agree with the noble Marquess that it would be out of order to go into the Amendment now. It will be dealt with subsequently by my noble friend But if it does turn out to be in any form controversial or contentious and anything but a pure Amendment, as I believe it is, to make the matter work easily having regard to the purpose for which this small Bill is designed, and that is the general opinion of the House, we can, of course, withdraw the Amendment if they think that is the right thing to do. But I think that would be a great misfortune as we do want to get this Bill through to-night.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I do not think the noble and learned Lord ought to refuse, I must say, and I make a respectful protest. We are helping the Government as much as we can, and all we ask is that they shall not take the Bill through all its stages to-night. Let the noble Lord put the other stages off; it will not interfere with his programme.
§ EARL BEAUCHAMP
My Lords, we have already had two disorderly speeches, one from the noble and learned Lord who leads the House and the other from the noble Marquess the Leader of the Opposition, who, not many minutes ago, was deprecating the practice of making several speeches upon one Motion. The noble and learned Lord was so anxious to speak that he prevented me making a suggestion which will possibly meet the case. On the question whether the Amendment on the Paper is important or 138 not, it is rather long, but I never think that if a speech is long it is necessarily important, nor do I think if an Amendment is long it necessarily follows that it is important either. It is perfectly possible, therefore, when we come to discuss this Amendment that we shall find it is not of very great importance, and I venture to suggest that we should wait until we have had this discussion upon the Amendment. When we have had that discussion we shall be able to find cut from what takes place whether the Amendment is really of such a character that it ought to delay the passage of the Bill. As I am very anxious to keep within the rules of order, I join with other noble Lords in not discussing the merits of the Amendment. When we see what the merits are we can make up our minds whether this Bill should go through all its stages this evening or not. I think it is just as well that we should not make up our minds now that it should not go through all its stages.
§ LORD BLEDISLOE
My Lords, as I know something of the subject with which this Bill deals I should like to support the appeal which has been made by the noble Earl. I cannot help thinking that when the time comes it will be found really that the very long and, it seems to me, quite unnecessarily meticulously worded Amendment really deals with a matter of pure machinery of a very simple character. Possibly then no opposition will be made to the passage of this Bill through all its stages to-day.
§ LORD STRACHIE
I think the noble Lord was mistaken. What I said was, that if this Amendment was right the rest of the Bill was wrong, and that what you ought to do was to strike out the rest of the Bill and have this Amendment. It would be necessary to consider the whole question. I hope the noble Marquess is going to insist that we shall not have this Bill forced through all its stages without further consideration. After what has been said I will not persist in my Amendment, but I hope that we shall not have this Bill rushed through to-night.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to, and ordered accordingly.