§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR AIR (THE MARQUESS OF LONDONDERRY)
My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend the Leader of the House, I beg to move that Standing Order No. XXXIX be considered in order to its being suspended for this day's sitting.
§ LORD PONSONBY OF SHULBREDE
My Lords, I should like to draw the attention of the noble Marquess to the wording of these Motions for the suspension of Standing Order No. XXXIX. As I said yesterday, we are not offering any objection at all to the suspension of the Standing Order, but, as the frequency with which this occurs is likely to be the subject of quotation in the future and reference will be made to the occasions on which the Standing Order is suspended, I would like to ask that there should be some uniformity with regard to the stage at which this Motion is made and the wording of the Motion itself. I do not refer to occasions where the Standing Order has to be suspended—as in the case of the Notice given on November 17—in the event of a Bill coming here from another place and having to be dealt with under this procedure. In those cases, naturally, the wording has to be different.
But I do not understand why, for instance, on February 29, the noble and learned Viscount the Leader of the House moved the suspension of Standing Order No. XXXIX for that day's sitting, which was with regard to the Import Duties Bill, but on March 16, which was precisely the same situation, no Motion was made for the suspension of Standing Order No. XXXIX, but in the Orders of the Day on the Second Reading of the Financial Emergency Enactments (Continuance) Bill the words were put "Second Reading and Standing Order No. XXXIX to be considered in order to its being dispensed with." It was on that occasion that I, thinking that the usual procedure was that the suspension of Standing Order No. XXXIX should precede the Second Reading, intervened in the debate at an early stage, and I think that my intervention was the cause really of the slight breeze that occurred upon that occasion. Certainly my noble friend Lord Marley was not responsible for that, but I think that upon that occasion I was under the impression that the suspension of the Standing Order preceded the Second Reading, and I do not quite understand why the wording on March 16 should have been different from that on February 29.
1045 To-day I understand that, the Consolidated Fund (No. 1) Bill only having just come up from another place, it was necessary that the suspension of the Standing Order should be moved in its present form. But again here I do not quite see why the wording is different from what it was on February 29. On February 29 the Leader of the House moved that Standing Order No. XXXIX "be suspended for this day's sitting." To-day it is to be "considered in order to its being suspended for this day's sitting." These are, perhaps, small matters, but as I say with the frequency of the suspension of Standing Order No. XXXIX and the possibility in future of somebody desiring to protest against this suspension, it is as well that there should be, if possible, uniformity. I am not asking the noble Marquess who is leading the House to-day to reply to these questions of mine. I only would ask him to see if possible that there is greater uniformity, not only in the wording of the Motion but in the occasions which are allowed for those who desire to protest against it.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LONDONDERRY
My Lords, I am sure no one can quarrel with the noble Lord for raising a matter of this importance and I will endeavour to give him the reply which he desires to hear. I am given to understand that when the suspension of Standing Order No. XXXIX deals, with one Bill the Notice is so given, and that it is taken not as the "Business of the House" when it applies to one Bill. But on other occasions, when there is more than one Bill and when there is a question of a Bill coming up, the suspension of Standing Order No. XXXIX then becomes the "Business of the House" and is open to discussion. On this occasion the noble Lord is aware that I gave Notice of the suspension of the Standing Order yesterday. That was to deal with the Tanganyika Bill which is coining up now and which it is desirable that we should be able to pass through all its stages. We were also aware that there was another Bill, the Consolidated Fund Bill, coming up. That Bill did not reach your Lordships' House until to-day, consequently the procedure adopted is the procedure which has been adopted before. In the book which I 1046 have before me I find that the Standing Order has been previously suspended to pass Bills through all their stages, in regard to the Consolidated Fund Bill once in March, 1899, in December, 1909, in June, 1906, and so on.
That is the answer to the question which the noble Lord has put to me. If he has any further desire for specific knowledge on this point and feels that uniformity has not been pursued, I shall be glad to go more fully into the matter and deal with it again on some future occasion after the Recess, when I may be able to deal with it in a more efficient manner than I am able to do to-day. The matter will be looked up for the purpose of giving the specific answer which the noble Lord desires. But if he goes into it himself I think he will be able to see that we shall be altering the practice of forty years.
§ LORD PONSONBY OF SHULBREDE
My Lords, I am very much obliged to the noble Marquess for the explanation he has given, which covers a large part of the questions I asked him. The question that does not seem to me to be covered is the procedure on February 29, when the suspension of Standing Order No. XXXIX was only on account of the Import Duties Bill and yet it was the "Business of the House." But, perhaps that is also capable of explanation and I will not press the matter at the moment.
§ THE MARQUESS OF LONDONDERRY
I think the answer to that is the answer I have already given to the noble Lord—that there was a possibility of another Bill coming up.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to: Standing Order No. XXXIX suspended accordingly.