§ Order of the Day for the Third Reading read.
§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE COLONIES (LORD PASSFIELD)
My Lords, in moving that this Bill be read a third time, I want to state for the convenience of your Lordships that I do not propose to move the Amendment which stands in my name. It is a small technical one to the effect that the provisions of Clause 4 "shall have effect as from the dissolution of Parliament next after the commencement of this Act."
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 3a.—(Lord Passfield.)
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
My Lords, as the noble Lord has told us, he put down an Amendment which he does not propose to move. He has given us no explanation of that course, and I cannot help thinking that the happenings upon the later stages of this Bill are a little remarkable. On the Report stage your Lordships will remember that the noble Lord came to this House and with a fine display of virtuous indignation declared that the Government would not accept the Amendments which had been inserted in Committee, that they declined altogether to move any further Amendments or, indeed, to take any further interest in the Bill as it appeared on the Report stage. Your Lordships were duly impressed, no doubt, by that declaration of the Government's intentions—no doubt given after mature and careful deliberation in the Cabinet—and we proceeded to carry out the Report stage without that assistance which we should have liked to have had from the Government, whose Bill, after all, it was.
The next thing that happened was that we all received Notice that on Third 980 Reading the noble Lord was going to move—presumably on behalf of the Government—an Amendment after all. So that, apparently, second thoughts had seemed to him best, and that magnificent gesture was somewhat shorn of its grandeur by the hasty retreat which the Government found itself compelled to beat within two days. That was last week. To-day, we get a third edition of the Government's intentions. We find now that having declared that they would not move any Amendment, having then put down in writing an Amendment they proposed to move, they come and tell the House—"for the convenience of your Lordships"—that they do not propose to move it. On that, I would venture to say, first, that this is one illustration of the extreme inconvenience of making these summary declarations as to what the Government are going to do in the hereafter when the Bill reaches another place, and, secondly, that perhaps it would be a wiser course if the Government would really make up their mind first and then act consistently instead of changing their minds three times in four days, without any explanation of any of the changes. As an exhibition of a quick-change artist, the noble Lord stands unrivalled in this House, but as a serious contribution to the legislative expedition and efficiency of your Lordships' House, I cannot think that these rapid changes or these melodramatic gestures are of very great assistance.
§ On Question, Bill read 3a, with the Amendments.
§ Bill passed, and returned to the Commons.