HL Deb 03 April 1963 vol 248 cc598-600

Order of the Day for the House to be again in Committee read.


My Lords, in view of the fact that we are to have another debate, which was due to start at six o'clock, I think it would probably be for the convenience of your Lordships if we continued the Committee stage to-morrow.


My Lords, we on this side of the House agree with the proposal that has been made by the noble Lord, Lord Carrington. But, in the circumstances, may I ask the Government Chief Whip whether he can give us any statement on the Government's intentions as to the progress of this Bill?


My Lords, it has been agreed through the usual channels that we should continue with the Committee stage of this Bill to-morrow after the Second Reading of the Protection of Depositors Bill; and that there should be a Dinner Adjournment and the Committee stage should be continued after Dinner. It will almost certainly be necessary to continue further on Monday, April 8, after the Second Reading of the Weights and Measures Bill; and, again, it will almost certainly be necessary to have a Dinner Adjournment and to continue after Dinner. I do not feel that it is desirable that I should go beyond those two dates at the present time. But I would impress upon your Lordships that it is important that we should make progress with this Bill and conclude this stage of it before Easter.


My Lords, it is true that the proposals made by the Government Chief Whip have been agreed through the usual channels. I think it is also true, however—and perhaps I should say this on behalf of my friends who are going to take part in the remaining stages—that we agree under protest. For many of us—I am speaking for those who are taking part and who are not included in "the usual channels" —this is an onerous job. It is a very technical Bill, and to be called upon to sit late night after night, as we are going to be called upon to do, imposes severe hardship on those taking part. I would ask the Government when they make their programmes of business in future to consider the position not only of Ministers but also of those who come here voluntarily to give service to this House. There is a limit to the length we can go. Some of us sometimes think we are near the limit. But I would ask the noble Earl to consider that position carefully.


My Lords, I appreciate a great deal of what the noble Lord has said. I think it would be not unfair to say that the Government have done their best to meet the Opposition on various stages of practically every Bill that has been through this House for a good many years now. I think the noble Lord would agree that, when the programme was discussed with the Opposition at an earlier stage, it was anticipated on both sides that the Committee stage would be a comparatively short one. It has become a long one through the desire of the Opposition to see that certain points are discussed—and it is very right and proper that they should be. But, with due respect, they must realise that if they wish to discuss them it does take time, and they really must be prepared to use the time that is available.


My Lords, I wish to add to the protest of my noble friend. The Government Chief Whip has quite rightly said that if we as an Opposition want to discuss this, then we should be prepared to take the necessary time to do it. But, after all, we have to make arrangements. Some of us have made arrangements—I speak personally—especially to travel some considerable distance to-day in order to be here for the Committee stage of the Bill. Now we are not going to have it. That is no fault of the Opposition: that is the fault of the Government in organising their Business. I am very glad to see a little revolt on the Government side of the House. I am all for this "fun and games" and for making it a little difficult for Ministers occasionally, whether it comes from that side or this; but, after all, the Opposition should not suffer because there has been a revolt on the Government side in regard to a preceding measure. The timetable ought to have been prepared a little better than it has been.


My Lords, did I understand the noble Earl to say in his original statement that the Government are very anxious to "make good progress" with this Committee stage before Easter? I think he did not go further than to say "make good progress".


My Lords, with respect to the noble Lord, I said "to conclude".

Order of the Day discharged.