§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, I do not know whether the noble and learned Lord the Leader of the House can tell your Lordships anything as to the business of the House?
§ THE LORD PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL (LORD PARMOOR)
My Lords, I think I can give the noble Marquess the information which he desires. I assume it is information relating to the general course of business in the immediate future. Of course that is not like the laws of the Medes and Persians in that it cannot be altered; but this is what is proposed. The Coal Mines Bill will be read a first time this evening. After consideration, and with the desire that this House should have the very fullest opportunity of considering a Bill of that kind, we propose that the Second Reading should not be taken until Tuesday, April 29, the day on which the House reassembles after the Recess. I hope that in the subsequent stages, though I do not want to press your Lordships, consideration will be given to the fact that there has been a consider- 2 able interval for the study of the Bill by members of the House who take an interest in it. The First Reading of the Army and Air Force (Annual) Bill will be taken this evening, and I think probably the best time for the Second Reading will be this day week; but I will say a further word on that point presently. The Third Parties (Rights Against Insurers) Bill may be read a first time this evening, and it will not be necessary to press that Bill further forward until after Easter. There is no special hurry about it. I understand that it will reach us to-night, but, if it does not, it will not matter very much, because I do not propose to take the Second Reading until after Easter.
To-morrow we shall have the pleasure of hearing the noble Lord, Lord Trenchard, on the question of the Air Force. I propose that we should give the whole of to-morrow's sitting to that discussion, and I am told that several noble Lords desire to speak. We shall also take the First Reading of the Unemployment Insurance (No. 3) Bill. That Bill concerns the additional sum of £10,000,000, and there is nothing in it except the money question. On Thursday we shall consider the Commons Amendments to the Children (Employment Abroad) Bill, which your Lordships passed last November. I think the Amendments are fairly formal and concern the bringing in of Northern Ireland, which was not in the Bill before. The Second Reading of the Land Drainage 3 Bill will be moved by my noble friend Lord De La Warr on Thursday, and the Third Reading of the Land Drainage (Scotland) Bill will also be taken on that day.
Next Tuesday I propose, after giving Notice on Thursday, to move the suspension of Standing Order No. XXXIX in order that the Army and Air Force (Annual) Bill may go through its remaining stages. That Bill must be obtained before we adjourn for the Recess. We shall also take the Third Reading of the Unemployment Insurance Bill, leaving time for a Royal Commission. I will not give the exact hour at which the Royal Commission will take place, but half past six is the time suggested. I think I have mentioned all the work that we have to do before the Easter Recess.
§ EARL BEAUCHAMP
My Lords, I need not say that we shall offer no opposition to the course which the noble and learned Lord suggests, but I hope he will allow me to suggest one alteration in his programme—namely, that instead of meeting next week we should sit on Friday to consider the Army and Air Force (Annual) Bill. I think some changes have been made in that Bill in another place, and it is not unlikely, though I have no certain information, that there may be some discussion upon it. If there is, I cannot help thinking that it would be much more convenient to sit on Friday and not to be obliged to come back in the course of next week. We can dispose of the Bill quite well on Friday morning and deal with all its stages on that day, instead of on Tuesday. There are many noble Lords who are so fortunate as to live in or near London. To them it does not matter very much whether we sit again next week or not. On the other hand, there are a certain number of your Lordships who live some way from London and to whom it is a matter of considerable inconvenience to come up for one day. On their behalf, and on my own, I venture to suggest to your Lordships that it might be more convenient to us and to the House generally if we finished our discussions this week. I should not for a moment hesitate to have a purely formal meeting on Tuesday for the Royal Commission which is always necessary at this stage 4 of the Session. Subject to the views of the noble Marquess beside me (the Marquess of Salisbury) I will venture to submit that point for the consideration of the noble and learned Lord.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, let me in the first place say how well advised I think the noble and learned Lord and the Government have been in determining not to take the Second Reading of the Coal Mines Bill until after Easter. I think this shows a very proper regard on their part to the great importance of the Bill and the great interest which your Lordships' House is likely to take in it. I do not think that in the long run any time will be lost by the postponement of the Second Reading until after Easter. As regards the Land Drainage Bill, like the noble Earl, the Under-Secretary of State for War, I do not pretend to be an authority on land drainage, but I confess that I am a little appalled at the immense complexity of the measure, and I am bound to say that I very much doubt whether the noble Earl will be able to persuade your Lordships to give him the Second Reading on Thursday, and that being so I should have thought that part of the time on Thursday might have been profitably employed in reading the Army and Air Force (Annual) Bill a second time. I have, as I believe the learned and noble Lord has, great objection to suspending the Standing Order, except when it is really necessary, and when there is an abundant number of days before us before the adjournment for the Recess.
I should have thought that the Second Reading of the Army and Air Force (Annual) Bill, about which no doubt your Lordships will agree, could have been taken on Thursday. Then, when you come to the Committee stage, which is the important stage of the Bill, in the present state of things, we have the proposal made by the noble Earl above the gangway that the Committee stage of the Army and Air Force (Annual) Bill should be taken on Friday. I have great reluctance to differing from Lord Beauchamp on a matter of this kind, but I think that it would be quite as well to adhere to the Government's plan of taking the effective important stage of the Bill on Tuesday of next week. It is undoubtedly the greatest possible nuisance to have to come back when 5 you have started your holiday, but I can assure the noble Earl, Lord Beauchamp, that the number of miles you are from London does not make a great deal of difference. I have not found nearness to London an advantage in public life at all. On the contrary I find that you are asked more than if you were a little further off. At any rate I have no objection whatever to Tuesday for the effective stage of the Army and Air Force (Annual) Bill. I only make this very respectful suggestion to the Government, and conclude by thanking them for their courtesy in giving us the information they have done.
§ LORD PARMOOR
I sympathise very much with Lord Beauchamp's view. I do not live as far from London as he does, nor as near as the noble Marquess, but I think that on the whole we had better confirm the suggestion which I made that we meet on Tuesday of next week, and also accept the suggestion of the noble Marquess that it would be convenient on that day to take the Committee Stage of the Army and Air Force (Annual) Bill, which undoubtedly is the important stage of that particular Bill. I have discussed more than once with the noble Marquess the fate of the Land Drainage Bill. I admit that he has not satisfied me that we cannot go on with the Second Reading in the ordinary form. It is a long Bill, but not a mysterious Bill. I should have thought that land drainage was the least mysterious topic that we could have to deal with. However, we can wait till the time comes and see what is to be done.