§ [The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are now sensible of a general support for the proposal that, in the interests of Parliament and of the country, the Parliamentary Summer Recess should start and end some weeks earlier than at present; and that consideration should simultaneously be given to altering the financial year so that it shall coincide with the calendar year.]
§ THE MINISTER WITHOUT PORT-FOLIO (THE EARL OF DUNDEE)
No, my Lords, I am not aware that there is any widespread support for this proposal.
899 When we discussed a similar question on July 7, 1959, the noble Lord stated that there was considerable support throughout the country for his suggestions. I am bound to say that we have very little evidence of that. As regards the question of the financial year, as my noble friend the Lord President of the Council, as I think he has been since this morning, explained last year, the present arrangements have served us well for more than a century, and we should want to be sure that there were substantial advantages to be gained before changing them.
My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Earl for his Answer, which really repeats what was said last year. I interpreted that reply as meaning that the Government would be willing to find out whether there was this desire. I would ask the noble Earl whether they would consider asking the 1,500-odd Members of both Houses of Parliament what their views are. I would ask the noble Earl to bear in mind that this is a serious question; otherwise I should have stopped my Question at the word "sensible" in the first line.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
My Lords, what my noble friend said last year was that the Government would consider any argument which might be put forward in favour of any particular change; he did not say that he would incite people to give their views. I think that there may be some arguments, particularly from Scottish Members, against the change suggested. September is a month when there is less rain in Scotland, and I should think that Scottish Members of both Houses would oppose this violently and protest at being brought back at that time.
VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH
My Lords, of course noble Lords on this side have not felt incited to make further representations. What we should like is a little reform, sometimes, in the progress of Parliamentary Business, so that we are not crowded at the end of the Session with Amendments which we cannot adequately consider.
My Lords, are we to gather that the Sittings of Parliament are to be governed by whether it rains in Scotland?
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
My Lords, I can imagine very much worse reasons by which they could be governed.
§ LORD FRASER OF LONSDALE
My Lords, if the financial year were changed, would it not mean that we should have to pay our owners' taxes three months earlier than we do now?