HL Deb 01 May 1956 vol 197 cc39-40

4.29 p.m.


My Lords, before the House adjourns I should like to make a statement on Business for this and next week. As your Lordships will know, the noble Lord, Lord Pethick-Lawrence, has down for tomorrow a Motion on the economic situation. All of us had hoped that the debate on that Motion could be concluded tomorrow, but unfortunately it has proved such a popular topic that there are now no fewer than sixteen names on the list of speakers—and economics is not a subject with which any noble Lord can deal in the course of a brief speech. Therefore, I have come to the conclusion (and after consultation with the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, I understand that he shares my view) that we must make up our minds to divide the debate into two days. The first day would be tomorrow, and I have suggested to the noble Viscount—and again I understand that he agrees—that the second day should be postponed until the following Tuesday.

We had considered the possibility of Thursday, but there is already on the Paper an important Motion in the name of the noble Lord, Lord Rochdale, which it would be unfortunate to postpone. On the following Tuesday there are two Bills, the Clean Air Bill and one other, which I think will not take a great time. Therefore I would suggest, for your Lordships' approval, that we should get as far as we can to-morrow, say possibly up to half past six, or something of that kind, and that the remainder of the debate should be continued after the two Bills on the following Tuesday. I hope that will be for the convenience of the House.


My Lords, I am obliged to the noble Marquess for making that statement. Of course, what we are a little anxious about is that if, by half past six to-morrow, we have quite a number of speakers still left, we do not want to deal with the main part of what we consider to be an important Motion late in the evening of Tuesday. If there is not much in the two Bills which is likely to cause a great deal of controversy it would not matter a great deal. But if they are going to take a little time we should prefer, if the noble Marquess the Leader of the House could see his way to get the House to agree, to finish the economic debate and take these small Bills afterwards.


My Lords, that is, of course, a possibility. It is contrary to the usual practice of the House; on a Tuesday, Bills usually come first. I quite realise the importance of what the noble Viscount has said, and perhaps it would be possible to go on a little longer tomorrow, say, seven o'clock. That would give us four and a half hours, which should dispose of the greater part of the debate. I agree with the noble Viscount that it is important that we should not have to sit too late on Tuesday.


I am obliged. Perhaps the extra half-hour will conclude the debate.


My Lords, although all are not present now who will be speaking from these Benches, I am quite sure that they will agree with the noble Marquess the Leader of the House.


I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Rea. I owe him an apology, because I did not have an opportunity of consulting him. This issue has arisen only in the last few minutes.