The CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES (The EARL OF DONOUGHMORE)
My Lords, I have on the Paper a very long Notice, but I hope to be able to explain to your Lordships what I am moving in fewer minutes than the number of pages that are occupied by the Notice. Your Lordships are aware, of course, that it has been customary occasionally to make Amendments in the 133 Standing Orders relating to Private Bills in order to keep them up to date, but I do not think it has been done for several years now. We have, therefore, had an opportunity of going into the matter very thoroughly. The Amendments have been discussed with those responsible in another place, and I need not assure your Lordships that I am in complete agreement with those authorities. I think it would be most convenient if, instead of going through all the Amendments to Standing Orders one by one, we take them, in accordance with our usual custom, en bloc. If any particular Amendment has caught the eye of any one of your Lordships and he wishes to have some explanation, I will do my best to supply it.
The Amendments, I think, can be summed up under seven or eight headings. A number of the Amendments are either drafting or, if I may use a non-legal term, lubricating. There are a number which arise because the matters dealt with are redundant or because they are obsolete. Some of them arise from the passing of certain Acts of Parliament. One of them, I am sorry to have to inform your Lordships, arises because of the passing of the Local Government Act, 1888. I do not know why it has not been noticed before. There are others which arise because of the passing of the Railways Act, 1921, the Raking and Valuation Act, 1925, the Ministry of Transport Act and the Read Traffic Code, and the Local Government Act, 1929. Provisions in those Acts require what are really little more than drafting Amendments in the Standing Orders. Other Acts which are referred to in the Standing Orders have been repealed, and therefore we no longer need refer to chem. Again, Amendments are necessary because of the separation of the Dominions Office and the Colonial Office. Those are only questions of wording. Other Amendments arise out of the Scottish Private Bills Procedure Code, and another point arises from the fact that we no longer have a Secretary for Scotland; we now have a Secretary of State for Scotland.
Again, my Lords, points are dealt with under the Standing Orders dealing with Estate Bills. I do not think I need go into them in detail. We are slightly amending the Standing Orders in order 134 to bring them more into accord with our practice as opposed to our Standing Orders. There are also provisions as to Divorce Bills. Divorce Bills used to come from Ireland or from India. The Parliament of Northern Ireland now deals with Divorce Bills in that area, and if there were any Divorce Bills in Southern Ireland they would be dealt with by the Parliament of the Irish Free State. understand that the Indian Courts now have certain powers which make the promotion of Divorce Bills relating to that country much more unlikely. If one is promoted it will be dealt with as an ordinary Estate Bill, but we do not know of any in prospect.
Lastly, I should say that these Amendments are due to a point which I mentioned to your Lordships before we adjourned last July. In harmony with the authorities of the House of Commons we are bringing forward dates of deposits of Private Bills and consequential Amendments roughly a fortnight—ten days in some cases and a little more in others. I gave Notice then that I would make that Motion, and I accordingly make it. I should like to add that there is one important point on which I am not yet in agreement with the House of Commons authorities. It concerns the method of giving Notice of Private Bills. The House of Commons have passed certain alterations in that matter, but I am not vet convinced that it can be done by your Lordships in the public interest, and therefore I am shortly going to ask your Lordships—I am not making that alteration this year—to appoint a small Select Committee. I shall perhaps ask several of your Lordships to sit with me and we will enquire into the matter and see what view we take. I think that this covers all the points that I ought to mention, but I repeat once more that, if there is any particular point on which any of your Lordships would like further elucidation, I will do my best to supply it.
I ought to say that, in moving that these Amendments be made in the Standing Orders, I would ask your Lordships first to take those that stand upon the Order Paper down to the middle of page 9, where we deal with Standing Order 189a. I want to make a slight alteration in the next Amendment as it appears on the Paper and I will, there- 135 fore, move that Amendment separately, as the most convenient course. I therefore beg to move that the alterations in the Standing Orders up to the end of Standing Order 189a be agreed to.
§ Moved, That the Standing Orders relative to Private Bills be amended as follows—