HL Deb 02 December 1942 vol 125 cc369-72

LORD ADDISON had given Notice also that he would move to resolve, That the question of giving priority to starred questions over other Notices and Orders of the Day be referred back to the Select Committee on Procedure to consider and report to the House. The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name, which I believe will enable friendly consideration to be given to the matter referred to.

Moved to resolve, That the question of giving priority to starred questions over other Notices and Orders of the Day be referred back to the Select Committee on Procedure to consider and report to the House. (Lord Addison.)


My Lords, I do not think that this Motion needs any words from me. The question has come before your Lordships on a previous occasion. It is a very interesting suggestion which has many supporters, although some of your Lordships do not feel quite so much impressed by the idea. However, the supporters of the proposal return periodically to the attack and have done so on this occasion. The suggestion of the noble Lord, Lord Addison, is that the correct thing would be to submit the matter to the Committee on Procedure and then any discussion of it would be taken on the Report of the Committee to the House. I think your Lordships will agree that that is the right procedure and I suggest that it should be adopted.


My Lords, I think it would be unfair to your Lordships if I did not remind you that this matter was very carefully gone into last Session. I, like the noble Viscount, the Leader of the House, pay a tribute to the noble Lord opposite who returns to the charge, but he will, of course, remember that he did not get a majority of the Committee to support him last time.


I did not propose it.


It was certainly discussed.


It was discussed, but not on my initiative.


I beg the noble Lord's pardon. I did not know that. The proposal certainly had supporters, but there were many more opponents, among whom I was one. Therefore the noble Lord will not expect, if we consent to rediscuss the matter, that we shall change our minds about this being an undesirable proposal.


My Lords, may I venture to support my noble friend the Leader of the Opposition, and to express the hope that this Motion will be repeated until counsels of wisdom prevail?


My Lords, lest it should be thought that this is simply a proposal by both Oppositions, I would say that the view of the noble Earl, Lord Donoughmore, is not shared by some of the heartiest supporters of the Government on this side of the House.


My Lords, I should just like to say that, while there is no reason in the world why the procedure suggested by the noble Lord, the Leader of the Opposition, should not be adopted and the matter again referred to the Committee on Procedure, of course it is not a very usual thing when a Committee have been entrusted with a particular task and have performed it, to ask the Committee to reverse their decision. I should have thought, if I may be allowed to make the very faintest criticism of the action of the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition, that it would have been more satisfactory if the noble Lord could have indicated some reason why the Committee were likely to change their minds it the matter were returned to them. If he could have brought forward matters which we had not considered before that would have been very material. But not at all. He gave us no reason; he simply said: "I and my noble friends who are with me do not happen to agree with the decision which the Committee adopted, therefore we think that the Committee had better consider the matter again." Well, we are perfectly willing to consider it again, but I think it would be more satisfactory if the noble Lord could have given us a reason why we should do so.


My Lords, I hope the noble Marquess will not think that there was any lack of respect on my part in not taking the line which he has suggested. As a matter of fact, like the noble Lord opposite, I was present at the meeting of the Committee, and I know the matter was discussed. I believe I gave it—shall I say—tepid support, but nothing more. So I hope the noble Marquess will not think that there is any suggestion of Party in this. There is no question of Party in it at all. I was informed that there was considerable support for the view that the matter might be reconsidered, and, in order to secure its reconsideration, I was advised that this was the right procedure to adopt.


It is right.


I have no doubt that we shall have an opportunity thoroughly to debate this when it gets to the Committee, and I think, therefore, it will be wise for me to withhold any further observations until then.


My Lords, I think I ought to say, in justice to my noble friend Lord Addison, that he did consult me on this question before he put down his Motion, and for reasons which have just been stated I thought this was the proper procedure. It seemed to me that it would give another opportunity to supporters of Lord Addison's proposal to state their views. For all I knew there might be some new arguments which they had not used before. I think it is only fair to Lord Addison that I should make that clear to the House.

On Question, Motion agreed to, and ordered accordingly.

House adjourned.