§ House in Committee (according to Order): Bill reported without amendment.
§ Then, Standing Order No. XXXIX having been suspended (pursuant to the Resolution of October 21):
THE EARL OF HOME
My Lords, I beg to move that this Bill be read a third time. On the Second Reading we had a fairly full discussion of this Bill, which I then said was a Bill with limited objectives. The noble Lord, Lord Morrison, was kind enough to widen the horizon a little and make certain suggestions to the effect that in regard to the vexed question of housing finances there might be a higher degree of Party co-operation and 1043 discussion, to which suggestion I gave a sympathetic response so far as was in my power. But I would ask your Lordships to excuse me from making any further speech on this Bill which I think we dealt with adequately on Second Reading.
§ Moved, That the Bill be now read 3a.—(The Earl of Home.)
§ LORD MORRISON
My Lords, before this Bill, which has been with us for a very short time, leaves us for good, I should like to say briefly that I have no intention of returning to the topic just referred to by the noble Earl which I ventured to put before the House last week, but I should like to tell the House quite plainly why I brought it forward last week. I did so because the discussion on this Bill in another place extended over several months. Apparently the Government thought that that was quite enough and that by no stretch of the imagination could there be much interest in your Lordships' House. So the Bill which had been for several months under discussion in another place, arrived here just a day or two before the present Session ends. If I or any other member interested in Scottish affairs had tried to apply our minds seriously to improving this Bill, it would have been futile, because there would not have been enough time. Even a small Amendment would have necessitated the Bill going back to another place and then coming back here again. So we get to the state where there are no Amendments because, within two days of the end of the Session, there is no point in putting any down; it would be quite impossible to deal with them in the time available.
I wonder whether it ever occurred to the Government that any useful alteration could be made. Perhaps I ought to put it in this way: did it occur to the Government that members of this House might have some useful points to put forward in regard to this legislation, or are we to be regarded just as people of no consequence at all, who come here because we have nothing better to do, no better way that we can think of in which to spend our time? We have been invited to put down Amendments, but we know perfectly well that whatever Amendments are put forward will not receive any attention from the Government. I am not going to 1044 detain the House on this matter. The only point I wish to make is that it has been impossible to alter this Bill under the conditions in which it came to us. When I came to your Lordships' House, it was with the idea that this Chamber had a useful function to perform. I still think so. But I am beginning to be a little doubtful whether that function is so useful when there is in power a Government such as we have at present, which treats the House in this way and apparently does not expect us to make any constructive suggestions at all. It seems that it would be quite suitable to the present Government if noble Lords on this side of the House who were optimistic enough to believe that they could make some constructive suggestions and improvements in regard to legislation, were to take a long vacation and return here after the next General Election.
My Lords, whilst I have great sympathy with what my noble friend Lord Morrison has said, I would remind him that it is not so long ago that we had another Government which adopted the same system, particularly with regard to Scottish affairs.
§ LORD MORRISON
The noble Lord will also remember that when noble Lords on that side of the House were sitting on this side of the House and I was responsible for Scottish affairs, they were not quite so docile as we are now expected to be.
THE EARL OF HOME
My Lords, I hardly like to enter into this matter. The noble Lord, Lord Morrison, has lately been very fertile in suggestions, and, of course, anything which he says we shall certainly take into account very seriously. I was a little taken aback (perhaps I misunderstood him) to hear him urge that the Conservative Government should increase the powers and functions of the House of Lords. If and when we do reach such a point, perhaps we shall consult him.
§ LORD MORRISON
At any rate, I have always believed that the House of Lords has a useful function to perform, but apparently the present Government has not yet discovered any such thing, except, as my noble friend said yesterday, for us to act as a rubber stamp.
§ On Question, Bill read 3a, and passed.