HL Deb 06 May 1931 vol 80 cc1020-35

LORD NEWTON moved, That in accordance with the recommendations of the Home Office Committee appointed in 1919 to report upon the advisability of adopting, for official and other purposes, the twenty-four-hour method of expressing time, the Ministry of Transport should invite the railway companies to adopt this system from a certain date, and that it should be simultaneously introduced into the Post Office. The noble Lord said: My Lords, in bringing forward this Motion, I presume that I can assume that everybody here is well acquainted with the fact that when we entered upon hostilities in the Great War, our present system of computing time was shown to be thoroughly impracticable, and we were obliged to resort to the system that is advocated in my Motion—namely, what is called the twenty-four-hour system. That system proved to be so satisfactory that it has since been permanently adopted by the Navy, partially adopted, if I am not mistaken, by the Army, and almost completely adopted by the Air Force. The results were so satisfactory that, apparently at the instigation of the Navy, the Government in 1919 appointed a Joint Committee for the purpose of considering whether this new system should be adopted for what were termed "official and public purposes generally."

The Committee, which was presided over by my noble friend Lord Stonehaven, examined a large number of witnesses of all kinds, scientific, commercial, persons interested in the shipping trade, military and naval authorities, and railway authorities. They reported—I will not read their recommendations in full—that this system had been found completely satisfactory wherever it had been tried, and that it caused no inconvenience because the old and the new systems were quite easily worked together. They recommended that the railways should be invited to put the new system into effect, and that at the same time the Post Office should give the railways the necessary lead by introducing it into their services. They further pointed out—and this is of importance to note—that no legislation was required for the purpose and that, in effect, no public expenditure was required because the railways were prepared to make such expenditure as was necessary in view of the greater convenience that would result. The sole expenditure of public money related to the Post Office, and this would only involve the alteration of date stamps and of the hours on pillar boxes. I might add that as the pillar boxes have to be repainted at regular intervals, no additional expenditure would be involved and it might even turn out in the long run to be an economy, because they would be able to do away with the word "midnight" after twelve o'clock, which is at present added.

In view of those recommendations, and of the facts that no legislation is required, that there would practically be no public expenditure, and that it did not violate any principles of Magna Carta, which is the usual objection brought forward when any sensible proposal is made, it seems surprising that they did not take the opportunity of introducing this measure. But so far from anything being done, the recommendations of the Committee were completely ignored. To use a phrase which is common with regard to this Assembly, "the subject dropped," and it dropped to such an extent that it was not revived for eight years. At the end of the year 1928 the Astronomer Royal, assisted by other scientific authorities, wrote a letter to The Times in which he strongly advocated this proposal. That letter produced much correspondence in the columns of The Times, which lasted for a long time. I will not enter into the details of that correspondence, but the significant fact about it was that, whereas opinion largely preponderated in favour of the change, those who were in favour were those who had had experience of the system, either during the War or in India or elsewhere. Opposition to the change proceeded solely from persons of what I might venture to call a more insular character—such persons, for instance, if I may say so without offence, as my noble friend Lord Banbury, who, I believe, has never ventured further from this country than Boulogne, and who quite conceivably, I should think, has never undertaken a night journey in the course of his life.

The result of this correspondence was that the question was raised in this House by my noble friend Lord Lamington in March, 1929. At that period a Conservative Government was in office and he was answered by my noble friend Lord Londonderry, who was then Postmaster-General. Lord Londonderry, while expressing himself as personally in favour of the proposal, thought that action ought in the first place to be taken by the railway companies. The railway companies naturally thought that the example ought to be set them by the Post Office, and there the matter rested. In the following year my noble friend Lord Lamington raised the question again. On that occasion the Party opposite was in power and he was replied to by the late Earl Russell, who opposed the proposal on two grounds. The first ground was the somewhat remarkable one that he was a strong Conservative and deprecated any change of this nature—a curious argument to come from a Labour Minister. His second objection lay in the fact that there had been no public demand for any change of this character.

I should like to ask when the public ever does demand anything of the kind. When does the public signify its desire for any legislation? I can hardly remember any instance in which the public has expressed a burning desire for legislation of any kind. On the other hand, I can recall many instances in which legislation has been introduced in which the public has showed no interest whatever. I might instance the vote for "flappers." Nobody pretends that there was any demand for that. On the other hand, I can say with great confidence that there is no large body of public opinion in the country passionately distressed at the fact that the late Education Bill has been lost. I am inclined to think myself that the public is only deeply agitated when its own pleasures are threatened, and if noble Lords opposite were rash enough, for instance, to shut up cinemas on Sundays or to suppress the betting intelligence in the daily newspapers, I think they would very soon find out that the public would become violently excited.

In order to convince the House, if it be necessary, that I am not a kind of solitary crank urging your Lordships to accept an impracticable proposal, I should like to quote certain witnesses in my favour. Perhaps noble Lords will have noticed that recently there have appeared letters in The Times from various eminent people strongly urging the adoption of this proposal. The first correspondent whom I desire to quote is again the Astronomer Royal. The Astronomer Royal, in a letter addressed to The Times only last Saturday, I believe, pointed out that the 24-hour notation is universally vised by scientific bodies, the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, for meteorological warnings, by the B.B.C. and all the Continental railway and Continental Post Offices as well as by the most valuable book of reference in this country, Whitaker's Almanack. He goes on to point out that:— Most people have to think twice before they are quite sure what 12.30 p.m. means. I imagine that many letters have been wrongly posted and many trains lost by a mistake of 12 hours arising from the a.m. and p.m. nomenclature. I had an experience of this myself only a few days ago. I was directed to take a train at 9.30 in the morning. As my letter came from a lady and I have not complete confidence in the accuracy of the sex, I made inquiries and found there was no such train, but that there was a train which left at 9.30 in the evening. That is an experience which might happen to anybody, but which could not happen if you had the sensible 24-hour system.

Among the other witnesses I adduce are Mr. Harold Cox, well known as an economist in this country, and Mr. Pick, Manager of the Underground Railway. I think it will be generally admitted that no more efficient organisation exists in this country than the Underground, and that is possibly the reason why the Government are anxious to obtain control over it sooner or later. Mr. Pick may be taken as representing the railway view and, although the Underground is naturally less concerned in this particular question than any of the main lines, nevertheless it is quite ready to spend the small sum of money involved in view of the resulting convenience. We know perfectly well, not only from evidence before the Committee but from what has been said in this House, that the railway companies are only waiting for a lead, and are perfectly prepared to act and to incur the necessary expense provided the Post Office will give them a lead.

To turn for a moment from the railways, it seems to me a singularly ludicrous circumstance that at the present moment when we are hysterically imploring foreign tourists to come to Britain, when they come they should find a perfectly unintelligible labyrinth, representing the British railway time-tables, which even natives find it difficult to explain, in place of their own sensible and easily understandable time-tables. In view of what I have stated, and in view of the fact that no expense or legislation is necessary, it really does not seem as if much reason existed for opposition; but nevertheless there is opposition. When you reflect upon the millions and millions which we spend upon education it is extraordinary to find that this proposal is opposed on the ground that the task of transposing a.m. and p.m. into the figures proposed in this scheme is too baffling for the ordinary citizen.

That seems to me a remarkable assertion to make. I had an instance of it this afternoon, because my noble friend Lord Banbury asked me, when we were about to begin the proceedings, whether it was then 14 o'clock. There is some sort of warrant for this scepticism as to the ability of the ordinary individual to count, because one of the most eminent British writers that ever lived, in the Bab Ballads, with which some noble Lords must be acquainted, presents a picture of a practical-joking London police constable, who, when asked the time of day by Kindly Bumpkin Green, would not infrequently reply, a quarter past thirteen. This presumably too baffling reply to the ordinary rustic is simple to answer. I can give the clue to it myself. If Lord Banbury finds it difficult to answer the conundrum let him substitute in his imagination a shilling—


I have not any imagination.


Nor have I very much, but let him substitute a shilling for the figure 12, and add a penny for every hour after twelve. He will then have no difficulty in arriving at a complete solution. If the figure is 1s. 3d. he will know that it is 3 p.m., and if it is 1s. 6d., then the time will be 6 o'clock in the afternoon, and so forth. There really is no trouble about it at all. But I do not want to set anyone these intellectual problems. There is no occasion to be worried over the answer to questions of this kind, because they never would arise. I am not dealing with the spoken word, but really with the written or rather printed word, and as far as I know it is not the practice of the nations which have adopted this system to make any use of the 24-hour system in ordinary conversation. Therefore, in the family circle or elsewhere people will still be at liberty to talk about a.m. and p.m. In fact, if I am not mistaken, the French—possibly in order to pay us a compliment—have actually invented the word fivoclocquer, which is intended to comprehend all the different forms of social amusement which take place at five o'clock in the afternoon.

This request which I am putting forward is one of a very modest—one might almost say of a very insignificant—character. At all events, it is of an insignificant character when you compare it with the much greater reform of summer time—the greatest boon, perhaps, which this generation has ever experienced, and which caused a greater revolution in our habits than anything in this Motion is likely to do. But, at the same time, if the change is adopted, it will remove certain minor inconveniences. We shall, at all events, know when we ought to start, and when we shall arrive, which it is difficult to ascertain at the present moment; and we shall also know, when letters arrive at their destination, when they were sent off. Also, there will be much less doubt than there is now about the date upon which telegrams are sent off and received. As I have shown that no trouble is incurred, and that a certain amount of general convenience will ensue, I cannot help hoping that I shall receive on the whole a favourable response from the Government. I beg to move.

Moved, That in accordance with the recommendations of the Home Office Committee appointed in 1919 to report upon the advisability of adopting, for official and other purposes, the 24-hour method of expressing time, the Ministry of Transport should invite the railway companies to adopt this system from a certain date, and that it should be simultaneously introduced into the Post Office.—(Lord Newton.)


My Lords, my noble friend has stated the case in favour of this change so clearly that very little remains to be said. I am hopeful that we may be more fortunate in getting this reform adopted than we have been before, because, though it is not one of those things for which there is a strong demand, I have never noticed that noble Lords opposite and their friends wait for a strong demand in order to carry out what they, in their greater wisdom, know would be good for the country. My friends, like myself, are rather apt to say "Let well alone," but noble Lords opposite will forgive me if I say the impression one gets is that they do not want to let anything alone; they are prepared to improve almost anything, and I have some hope, therefore, that this change, which did not commend itself to my noble friends in the past, may be looked upon more favourably by noble Lords opposite to-day. The real substance of the change is to eliminate the letters a.m. and p.m. and to come into line in that respect with the other countries of the world that have adopted this change—France, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy and India; while among ourselves, as my noble friend has stated, the change has been adopted by the Navy, the Army, and the Air Force.

It was interesting when the Committee sat and examined this question—and my only excuse for troubling your Lordships at all is that I happened to be Chairman of that Committee—that there were no wild enthusiasts for this change, but those who had experience of it were all in favour of it. In addition to the railway companies which had direct connection with the Continent, we received from people who had lived in India or on the Continent encouraging letters expressing the hope that we should succeed in getting this change adopted here. It does not appear that it is going to involve any expenditure. Certainly it does not involve any legislation; and indeed the recommendation that we made with a view to getting this change adopted was that the Ministry of Transport should be asked to call on the railway companies to adopt the 24-hour system from a certain date. That was all that was necessary. The Post Office would automatically come into line. The change is not a very big one, but it would prevent my noble friend from suffering the inconvenience, which he described to your Lordships, of trying to catch a train at 9.30 a.m. which did not start till 9.30 p.m. That could not occur if this change were made. We should also come into line with our friends on the Continent.

I was in favour of the change in the year 1919, when we sat and examined this question, and nothing that has occurred since has led me to think we were wrong in submitting, as we did, that it was an advantage and an improvement. It did not find favour on that occasion. and I believe it has not found favour on subsequent occasions, but, as we now have in office a Government which is not opposed to changing anything—indeed rather likes change—I hope we shall have a favourable response this afternoon.


My Lords, I hope the Government will adhere to their former decision. I can see no object in changing what we have been accustomed to all our lives, nor in asking the railway companies to spend money in altering their time-tables, clocks, and various other things. I see a noble Viscount who is connected with the railways (Lord Churchill) coming into the House, and I think he would tell your Lordships that it would be far better for the railway companies to employ their money in paying a small dividend to their shareholders than to mess about altering the hours of the clock.


My noble friend who introduced the Motion said that I have on two occasions addressed your Lordships on this matter; therefore I have little to say to-day. Our present system is distinctly an artificial system. Primitive man no doubt took his day from the midday sun to the following midday sun—twenty-four hours. The system that we follow now is purely artificial, and the reasons given for the change to a much simpler system are, I think, overwhelming. It is bound to come. In these days, when inter-communication from one part of the world to another is so rapidly developing, it is impossible to conceive that the various air services could work on any other system than the 24-hour table.

The future will show the necessity of this change and as the noble Lord, Lord Newton, has mentioned, it involves no expense to the Government except in altering the stamps for letters and telegrams. Already the 24-hour system is in use for cablegrams. Why should it not be generally extended to all the services? Noble Lords might oppose it on the ground of economy because the pillar boxes would have to have alterations made, but, of course, it would only be necessary to put up slips of paper showing when the next collection would take place. Far from there being any public expense, I believe it would be a great economy. I am sure that few people go long journeys, to Scotland for example, without being often troubled in trying to find out whether the train arrives or starts a.m. or p.m. It is very easy to make a mistake. You work out an itinerary, you think your train starts at a certain hour a.m. and you find you are at p.m. As to those who offer objection to the change, I think they are chiefly ladies who pretend that they are lacking in mathematical knowledge.


My Lords, as civilisation, of which we are all so proud, proceeds, it occasionally throws off some quite good ideas. One of those good ideas seems to be the time notation which my noble friend is advocating to-day. For a long time something simple and convenient of that kind has been a crying necessity both with regard to timetables and any other matter upon which doubt may arise as to which side of midday is intended. Nothing is more likely to lead to difficulty than conventional signs. All kinds of dodges have been tried and have only served to make confusion worse confounded. It is possible, for instance, to underline the minutes between 6 p.m. and 5.59 a.m. or between 12.1 p.m. and midnight, or to use dark type for the midnight hours, or italics, subject to rules that have to be carefully consulted in an appendix. The whole thing is complicated and unsatisfactory. The 24-hour day does away with all difficulties which apply, and there is clearly no reasonable cause why it should not be adopted both by the railways and the Post Office.

But there is officialdom. Such of your Lordships as have been present on the occasions, I am afraid rather numerous, on which I have ventured to criticise our railway companies, will be aware that I have had special opportunities for observing the habits and manners of railway officials at close quarters. I have also been a civil servant and, though the Department in which I served does not happen to have been the Post Office, I imagine the mentality of the chiefs of the Post Office does not differ in any material degree from the mentality of the chiefs of the Foreign Office. This is the conclusion to which I have been led after a close study of officialdom both on the railways and in the Civil Service: If there is one thing above all others that no true blue official will tolerate for an instant, it is any suggestion coming from an outside source, and it is impossible to find words too strong to describe his indifference to anything intended to benefit the public.

Confronted by criticism, he has a regular modus operandi, consisting of a number of well thought out steps intended to defeat all criticism. The first step is to ignore criticism altogether, and just to sit still and say nothing. If for any reason he is unable to persist in this attitude, the next step is to assume that his critic has said something quite different from what he actually has said and to argue at great length that this is impossible. The third step, as has already been pointed out, is to say that no public demand has made itself felt. This is often true enough, because officials have taken excellent care, as my noble friend has pointed out, that the public should not be in a position to express an opinion. If even this fails, the next step is to say that if patience is exercised it is probable that something still better will be evolved and, there- fore, it is best to wait. In those circumstances, it is only the most persistent critic that cares to go on. For all practical purposes, strongly entrenched officialdom can snap its fingers at all criticism. Something of this kind appears to be happening in this case. I hope that we shall hear to-day from the representatives of the Post Office and of the railways that they will abandon an attitude which is really little more than obstruction and will accept a reasonable reform with a good grace.


My Lords, I would like to support the Motion of the noble Lord, Lord Newton, though I do not altogether agree with the statement of the noble Lord, Lord Monkswell, that Government Departments never initiate anything, when already we know that three Government Departments have adopted the 24-hour system. From a time point of view, I think it is most essential that we should keep as far as possible to the twenty-four hours. It is a development that has been found necessary in connection with flying and I hope it will be adopted universally.


My Lords, I venture to hope that the Government will not listen to the request of the noble Lord, Lord Newton. I think that no greater mistake can be made than to suppose that the people of this country desire to live under good laws. They desire only to live under laws which they make themselves, and the law which divides the day into two periods of twelve hours seems to me so consonant with the wishes of the people of this country that there is no desire whatever on their part for any change to take place. The period of twelve hours counted twice in the twenty-four is that which we all feel distinctly to be a proper and very necessary division of the day. The grievance that has been chiefly insisted upon by the noble Lord, Lord Newton, is concerned with the time-tables. I think I may make the claim—I hope it is not an arrogant one—that in my very brief life I have travelled more upon the railways than any other noble Lord who is present. I am not accustomed to consult my lady friends with regard to the times of arrival or departure of my trains, and I have never yet been in a position to confuse a.m. with p.m., nor do I think it is in the least likely that I shall ever make so grave a, mistake.

If we are to have a 24-hour day, I would ask your Lordships to consider what the more numerous divisions of the clock face may mean. Even if you took so large a clock as that attached to Big Ben, I think you would find great difficulty in distinguishing exactly to what hour the hour hand pointed, the figures would lie so close together. I think we should be replacing what is an unsubstantial grievance by a real difficulty in distinguishing the time. It is true that very high, perhaps the highest, scientific authority in this country, the Astronomer Royal, has on two occasions forcibly expressed himself as in agreement with the noble Lord, Lord Newton. I have every consideration for the opinion of my old friend Sir Frank Dyson, but I would like to point out that the language of the laboratory is not the language of the every day common room. We do not speak ordinarily in the language of the laboratory. We speak of the daisy and the primrose. We do not speak of ranunculus, which is qualified by some hideous epithet or another. And I think it would be a pity if we allowed the language of science to step in and replace the common every-day and much more attractive words that are in use.

I do not know whether your Lordships have recently been so happy as to consult your physicians. If you have, you will find on the prescription you received some sort of hieroglyph which looks as though a fly had dropped into the ink bottle, had managed to escape and deposit itself on the top left-hand corner of the prescription paper and there had suffered many seizures of epilepsy. That hieroglyph is really an invocation to the god Jupiter that he will bless the various ingredients of the prescription, which are written in Latin. I would remind your Lordships, if you are not familiar with the fact, that the names of drugs are written in Latin in order that your Lordships may not in the least understand what drugs you are taking and that psycho-therapy may be added to the benefit which you derive from the prescription.

But there is really a very profound physiological reason why the day should be divided into two parts. All nature consists of cycles. There is death and resurrection; there is ascent and decline; there is adolescence and the climacteric. And St. Paul expressed a profound truth when he said, "I die daily." In all matters of this kind there is a sort of rhythm in life. Whether it has to do with your pulse beats or the regularity of your heart or the frequency of respiration or whatnot I cannot say, but there is a feeling that there is a division of your day into two parts, one of increasing activity as the morning goes on reaching an altitude, and from then suffering a decline when a period of repose is due.

I feel myself that this division of the day into two parts is not only in consonance with the wishes of the people of this country but is a recognition of a profound biological truth that there are these two periods in each 24-hour day, a period of what should be activity and a period of what should be repose. I think it is the common sense of the people of this country as against the lack of common sense in the people of other countries which keeps them wishing to have the double cycle in the 24-hour day. I hope very much that the Government will stand firm upon this. We are told that we are in isolation so far as the nations are concerned. I hope we are. I hope that neither for the first time nor yet for the last time shall we have stubborn, infrangible British common sense opposed to the freakishness and vapourishness of some other nations on the Continent.


My Lords, I did not intend to intervene in this debate, and should not have done so but for a word that fell from my noble friend, the noble Lord on my left (Lord Monks-well), who so often treats us to his views on railways. He did us the honour of coupling us, the railway officials, with the permanent officials in the Government Departments. In other words, we were pig-headed mug-wumps, or words to that effect. I must assure the noble Lord that he made one grave error when he said we were opposed to anything new. I happen to have, amongst the few things that under various Chancellors of the Exchequer have been left to me, two most treasured possessions in two grandfather clocks of about the year 1747. Both of those clocks have the dials numbered to 24 o'clock, which shows we are not discussing any newly-discovered suggestion. But to keep to my point—namely, what the main line railway companies feel about this proposal. Undoubtedly, as my noble friend Lord Ban-bury has said, it would cost a certain amount of money, and involve alteration, which of courses is nothing in itself, and if the Government, the Post Office, and the country generally adopt the 24-hour system the railways will naturally fall into line, and, I hope, do all that they generally try to do to accommodate themselves to the convenience of the public who are their patrons. But until that is a fait accompli we naturally are not in a hurry to spend money and alter our time-tables, preferring to wait until the suggestion, if it is adopted, is in universal use.


My Lords, I have to thank the noble Lord, Lord Newton, for his courtesy in writing to me beforehand to indicate the line he proposed to take in this debate. The discussion has produced a number of interesting speeches. In particular we have had speeches from all three members sitting on the Cross Benches at the present moment, and the particularly brilliant speech from the noble Lord, Lord Moynihan, must have delighted your Lordships. I do not suppose that the rhythm of life would cease even if there were an alteration in the numbering of the hours after mid-day, and although he rather deprecates the use of Latin in prescriptions, I would remind him that he is using it every day when he uses a.m. and p.m. as applied to the hours.

It is interesting that the noble Lord, Lord Newton, should be taking a point of view rather different from that which he took in a debate in your Lordships' House in 1929. Then he said that he did not understand why the Government should be dragged into this question at all. He went on to say that it seemed to him a question which might very well be decided by the authorities themselves without dragging His Majesty's Government into the discussion. The Times, in a leader to-day, calls the noble Lord a robust optimist because he now believes that with an alteration in the Govern- ment he may be able to get something carried out which he was unable to obtain from the previous Administration. He evidently thinks that he is likely to get more help from the Socialist Government than he could get from the previous Government. It is true that the more advanced Departments do use the 24-hour system. The War Office, which is always in the van of progress, uses and has used for many years, the 24-hour system, and its younger sister, the Air Force, has had to come into line, and in civil aviation it is bound to be universal.

It is doubtful whether there is any real public demand for the change. The suggestion, however, that there was no public demand for what the noble Lord termed votes for "flappers" does not seem to have been founded on fact, for votes were very much used by "flappers" at the last General Election, and it may possibly be due to the use of that vote by the young and progressive women of this country that some help may be given to the noble Lord in his suggestion in connection with 24-hour time notation. I think perhaps he was unfortunate in his friends who were unable to quote the hour correctly in connection with the railway journeys which we have heard about. There is the point that perhaps this change would be less valuable in Great Britain than it is on the Continent. Nevertheless, there has been a widespread expression of opinion in your Lordships' House that some examination of this question ought to take place, and that the Government should in some way assist in the consideration of the problem. There have been, as has been pointed out by those who have taken part in this debate, some influential letters in The Times, and the leader in to-day's Times is one of great thoughtfulness, and must carry conviction to many that there is at least a case for inquiry. I am authorised to say on behalf of His Majesty's Government that careful and sympathetic consideration will be given by them to the whole question raised by the noble Lord, Lord Newton.


My Lords, my first impulse is to congratulate my noble friend Lord Banbury upon the stalwart auxiliary whom he has secured upon the Cross Benches, but at the same time I confess I was quite unable to follow the argument of the noble Lord. I may be very dense, but I can see no more reason why it is advisable to divide a day of twenty-four hours into two periods than it is to divide an hour into two half-hours. With regard to what he said about the prescriptions which he and his fraternity prescribe for us, it seems to me that there is a strong resemblance between them and the English railway time-tables, which I find quite impossible on occasions to decipher myself.

What is more important perhaps is the statement made by the noble Lord, Lord Marley. He mentioned an inconsistency on my part, and I am quite ready to make the confession that when I first made a speech upon this particular subject I had not read the Report of the Committee of my noble friend Lord Stonehaven. After reading that Report I have come round to the opinion which I expressed this afternoon. The noble Lord, Lord Marley, has given me some sort of vague encouragement. He says it will be put forward for favourable consideration. I do not know that it matters much whether we divide in this House or not because nobody pays any attention to us, but at all events it is an indication of opinion. If the noble Lord would give me some sort of assurance that the Government will tell me, say "after a given day," to use the words of the Resolution, what the Government are prepared to do, I would not put the House to the trouble of a Division, but unless the Government do make some definite statement I think I should prefer to take the opinion of the House.


My Lords, I can say that the Government are prepared to examine this question with sympathy.


Yes, but how long are you going to take over it?


Perhaps the noble Lord will put down a Question in six weeks' time if there has been no Report before then.


On the understanding that I am at liberty to question the Government again on the subject I will not insist on a Division now. I ask leave to withdraw the Motion.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.