HL Deb 24 August 1939 vol 114 cc892-4

4.34 p.m.


My Lords, I beg to move the Motion which stands on the Paper in my name in order that the House may have the opportunity of passing the Emergency Powers (Defence) Bill through all its stages this evening.

Moved, That in the event of a Message being received from the Commons that they have passed the Emergency Powers (Defence) Bill, Standing Order No. XXXIX be considered in order to its being dispensed with for the purpose of passing the Bill through all its stages.—(Earl Stanhope.)


My Lords, I should like to ask the noble Earl the Leader of the House if he can at this stage give us any information about the future sittings of the House. Your Lordships generally, I think, will be interested to know. We on these Benches think that the House should in some form or other be kept in being, and that no prolonged adjournment such as to this day week should be thought of in present circumstances. If it is decided to adjourn for a week I hope the Government will take power to call the House together on Friday or Saturday or Sunday, if it is necessary that Parliament should do its work on those occasions. If the noble Earl can give us any information on that point I am sure your Lordships will be grateful to him.


My Lords, I am much obliged to the noble Lord opposite. I was going to say that of course it is very difficult to know at what hour we shall get the Emergency Powers (Defence) Bill from another place. I understand, however, that if we adjourn till seven o'clock that will give us reasonable opportunity of going ahead at that hour. In a moment I shall propose that the House adjourn till seven o'clock. As regards future sittings, I understand that it is going to be suggested in another place that that House should adjourn till this day week, Your Lordships, I imagine, would desire to adjourn until the same day. I would, however, remind your Lordships that on May 25 I obtained approval to a proposition that the House might be called together again if it had adjourned for a period of more than two days. Your Lordships may feel, as I do, that that period may perhaps be too long, and therefore I suggest that when we adjourn this evening a similar Resolution should be agreed to leaving out the words "for more than two days." The effect of that will be that if His Majesty's Government feel that your Lordships should be called together at any earlier time, either on Saturday or on Sunday, the Lord Chairman should be entitled to send a summons to each noble Lord so that we can meet again under the same conditions as to-day.


My Lords, I must add to the protest which my noble friend has made. We do not think that the House should adjourn for so long a period as one week, even with power to call the House together earlier. When to-day's sitting was announced I was in Scotland and I can assure your Lordships that the summoning of Parliament caused people very considerable alarm. Your Lordships may remember that our suggestion was that Parliament should only adjourn until August 21, and that proposal was very fully debated in another place. We thought that the decision of the Government to adjourn Parliament till the beginning of October was too long. We make the same protest again to-day. We think it is better to keep Parliament in Session than to call it together suddenly because that may create unnecessary alarm among the public.


My Lords, may I by leave of the House say that if it is thought necessary that we should be called together again before Thursday that could be done? I think that if we only adjourned until Tuesday the country might take exactly the kind of view which it is suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Strabolgi, opposite: that things are so serious that we cannot adjourn for more than that time. On the whole, therefore, I suggest that the House agree with the Motion I propose to make this evening: that we should adjourn until Thursday unless events should show that we ought to meet sooner.

On Question, Motion agreed to, and ordered accordingly.

House adjourned during pleasure.

House resumed.