§ THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (VISCOUNT HAILSHAM)rose to move, That leave be given for the Earl of Ilchester's Notice (now standing for Wednesday the 5th of April next) to be advanced to Wednesday next. The noble Viscount said: The Notice which stands in the name of my noble friend Lord Ilchester—calling attention to the pollution of the sea by waste oil discharged from steamers—would undoubtedly be interfered with by the debate on Indian policy if it remained on the Paper for April 5. Therefore I am moving that leave be given to advance the date to to-morrow, which, I understand, is convenient to the noble Earl.
§ Moved, That leave be given to the Earl of Ilchester to advance his Notice (now standing for Wednesday the 5th of April next) to Wednesday next.—(Viscount Hailsham.)
§ LORD LAMINGTON
My Lords, in connection with this change in the business of the House, I wish to ask the 95 Leader of the House whether he will not consider the advisability of sitting after dinner on the evenings of the Indian debate. I know that the reason given against such a course is that some will not attend and others do not want to speak because there is a very poor attendance, but I think it is a far greater inconvenience for members who live far away from London and who do not know whether the debate will occupy two or three days. Speaking for myself, I think it was two years ago, on the occasion of the Agricultural Organisation Bill, all my arrangements got thrown out because we sat an extra day, four days instead of three. As regards the objection that members do not come down after dinner, I should have thought that nowadays, when there are so many young members in your Lordships' House and so many new members, they would be only too glad to show their earnestness and desire to take part in this debate by coming down and speaking on a particular occasion when the House is thin. They will have the knowledge that their speeches are on record, and they will be able to point out to their sons and grandsons what they achieved when they were very youthful.
I think it is a grave reflection on the earnestness of your Lordships' House if your Lordships cannot take the trouble to come down for a couple of hours after dinner on the occasion of a very momentous debate in which the whole future of the Empire is at stake. I am sure it is not a great deal to ask that on this very rare occasion your Lordships should be put to this trouble and inconvenience. The inconvenience is far greater in the case of those living out of London who do not know what arrangements to make in respect of their own engagements made long before the date was fixed for this debate. I hope, therefore, the noble Viscount will consider the possibility of seeing whether members will not come down after dinner, and curtail thereby the number of days devoted to the debate.
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
My Lords, I only heard just now from my noble friend Lord Lamington that he was going to raise this point. Quite obviously it is a matter which is entirely one for the 96 convenience of the greatest number of your Lordships. I am only anxious to make, or concur in making, such arrangements as may best suit the convenience of the majority of the House. So far as the Indian debate is concerned, I do not yet know whether there is likely to be a Division upon the Motion which I expect will be submitted to the House, and if there is to be no Division then it will not be so important for noble Lords to be present right up to the end of the debate. Probably the best course would be for my noble friend Lord Lucan to communicate with the Whips on the other side and at the same time make some inquiries among such of your Lordships as are here to-day and to-morrow, and a little later on report the result of those inquiries. I shall be very happy then to do whatever the majority of your Lordships' House seem to desire.
I do not even know yet how many members are anxious to take part in the debate, although I hope and anticipate that there will be a good number; and I should be very glad to do anything which would encourage those young members, whose enthusiasm for attending your Lordships' House my noble friend Lord Lamington is more sanguine about than I am, to take an interest and to make a contribution which, I am sure, all your Lordships would welcome. For the moment, I think it much better to leave the matter over so that inquiries can be made as far as possible to ascertain what would be to the convenience of the majority of the House, and then perhaps I can report those inquiries a little later on.
§ LORD PONSONBY OF SHULBREDE
My Lords, I should like to say that the suggestion made by the noble Lord, Lord Lamington, is one that is worthy of consideration, but I think, on the whole, it would be preferable to allow the debate, if necessary, to extend over three days. The fact that there is not going to be a Division does not mean that it is not a very important debate, and I think that noble Lords should be allowed full time to express themselves on it. So far as the Opposition are concerned, we have no intention of dividing against the Motion, and I think that not more than three speeches from our side may be expected. I believe, however, that a great many noble Lords will desire to take part 97 in the debate, and I do not think the idea of coming back after dinner is one that very many of them will smile upon.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to, and leave given to advance the Notice accordingly.