§ Order of the Day for the House again to be put into Committee read.
§ Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(The Earl of Munster.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.
§ House in Committee accordingly:3
§ THE LORD PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL (VISCOUNT HALIFAX)
My Lords, I beg to move that my noble friend Lord Lucan take the Chair.
§ Moved, That the Earl of Lucan take the Chair.—(Viscount Halifax.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.
§ [The EARL OF LUCAN in the Chair.]
§ Second Schedule [Property and rights associated with coal and matters to which coal is subject, as to which particulars are to be registrable]:
§ Debate resumed on the Amendment, moved by Lord Hastings last Thursday, to leave out the Second Schedule.
§ VISCOUNT HALIFAX
Before my noble friend speaks, it might perhaps be of service to your Lordships and have the effect of shortening our proceedings if I said a word as to the position in which we now stand on the discussion of this Amendment to leave out the Second Schedule. Your Lordships will recall that we had this Amendment under discussion on Thursday and that in the course of that debate, which was adjourned, my noble friend drew attention, among other matters, to one point where he claimed with, I think, justification that the provisions of the Schedule went beyond what had been the professed intention of His Majesty's Government. In so far as that point was concerned I undertook to endeavour to meet the legitimate apprehension of my noble friend by introducing an Amendment. It was for the purpose of considering that Amendment and of seeing it before us that, your Lordships will remember, it was decided to adjourn further discussion of the Amendment on that occasion in order to resume it to-day. In a very few hours I had such an Amendment to meet my noble friend's point in draft, and it had been my intention to put it down.
On further examination of the situation as disclosed in the debate, however, I became conscious, as did my right honourable friend the President of the Board of Trade and the Minister of Mines, that there was another aspect from which this question had to be judged—namely, the feeling that was implicit in the speeches of some of those who took part in the debate on that occasion, that this Second Schedule might have the effect and, perhaps, in the view of some, did have the effect of prejudicing the position of the royalty owners and possibly to a less 4 degree of Parliament in regard to the main Bill that is at present not before Parliament. I felt bound, having regard to what I myself had said on behalf of the Government on the Second Reading of this Bill, to give great weight to the feeling I found to be implicit in what had passed during the debate. In a matter of this kind so vitally important to so many interests, it is imperative for the Government, as for Caesar's wife, to be above suspicion. Accordingly, although I myself could not agree that the ground for that suspicion was well-founded, none the less, so important do the Government deem it to be that no ground, even in appearance, should exist for it, that your Lordships will observe that there is an Amendment in the name of my noble friend in charge of the Bill, Lord Munster, in the same terms as the Amendment we are now discussing, to delete the Second Schedule.
I do not conceal from your Lordships that I should have preferred to have seen the Second Schedule remain in the Bill with such Amendment as it was necessary to make to it. But in view of what my noble friend Lord Hastings said on the last occasion that he, and presumably those on behalf of whom he speaks, wanted to see the effective operation of this Bill in the least possible time, I thought it right to advise my right honourable friend and the Minister of Mines that in all these circumstances the Second Schedule should be deleted. That is the explanation of the further Amendment in similar terms that stands in the name of my noble friend Lord Munster, and I hope, having made that explanation, it may possibly facilitate our further proceedings on it.
§ LORD HASTINGS
I am very much obliged to my noble friend the Leader of the House for the words that have fallen from him. As the matter was fully debated last Thursday, there is clearly no occasion for me to repeat what was then said. Accordingly I gratefully accept the decision of the Government on the advice of my noble friend and formally proceed to move to leave out the Second Schedule.
§ On Question, Amendment agreed to.
§ Third Schedule: