HL Deb 08 March 1929 vol 73 cc324-5

My Lords, before business begins I should like to ask the noble Marquess the Leader of the House how long he proposes to keep the House sitting to-day, and whether he has in his mind any future arrangements if the Committee stage of the Local Government Bill is not finished to-day.


My Lords, this is a most reasonable question, only that I deprecate the form in which the noble and learned Lord has put it. It is not for me to keep the House sitting; the House keeps itself sitting; but, as far as my humble advice to your Lordships is concerned, I should suggest that we should make a really substantial effort to finish the Committee stage of the Bill to-day. I hope that would not require a very long sitting, because I think all of the points, except one, of real capital importance have been discussed—not discussed, may I say again, at any undue length. I hope the Opposition will not think for a moment I am criticising the methods they have pursued or that my noble friends behind me have pursued in this discussion. On the contrary, they have been extremely businesslike. I do not think there ought to be any great difficulty in finishing Committee to-day. I hope we shall not sit very late—not an evening sitting; an afternoon sitting, let us call it. And I hope to finish the Bill on this stage.

If, owing to circumstances which we are not envisaging for a moment, the Committee stage should not be finished in reasonable time to-day, whatever that adjective exactly imports, then no doubt we shall have to sit on Monday to finish the Committee stage. I should very much regret that decision of your Lordships, because it would upset the remainder of the time table which, by a common understanding, your Lordships proposed to follow in the succeeding stages of the Bill. We should have, of course, to postpone the Report stage to a rather later date than we had intended, and that would have further effects. If your Lordships ever play skittles you know that if you knock one pin down it knocks down several others, and that is what will happen here. Therefore, I hope that we shall be able to finish the Committee stage to-day. I am quite sure, after what has passed, that I may rely on noble Lords in all parts of the House to co-operate as far as possible to that end.


I am sorry if I exaggerated in my reference to the noble Marquess the Leader of the House, but I am sure our sittings depend on his view, assented to by the rest of the House as they would be because of his reasonableness. It seems to me doubtful whether we can finish the Committee stage to-day, though I feel very strongly that we ought to do our best. This Bill does, however, contain throughout such important matters that I doubt whether we can finish the Committee discussion to-day, but certainly we will do nothing to delay matters.

Back to