HL Deb 28 February 1966 vol 273 cc517-20

5.45 p.m.


My Lords, I wish to make a Business statement. In view of the announcement made by my right honourable friend the Prime. Minister earlier this evening, the Business for the remainder of this Session has been rearranged through the usual channels as follows. The Business for Tuesday and Wednesday of this week will be as planned, and as appears on the Order Paper. On Thursday, March 3, we intend to take the Committee and remaining stages of the National Insurance Bill, and the Second Reading of the Rating Bill, and then the debate on the development of Oxford, on the Motion in the name of my noble friend Lord Segal, will be held as arranged. On Friday, March 4, the House will meet at 11 a.m. in order to consider the Farmers' Machinery Syndicates Grants (Extension of Period) Order 1966; the Payments in Aid of Agricultural Schemes (Extension) Order 1966; the Universities (Scotland) Bill, Committee and remaining stages; the Local Government (Pecuniary Interests) (Scotland) Bill, Committee and remaining stages, and then we intend to take the Committee and remaining stages of the National Health Bill and the Committee and remaining stages of the Rating Bill.

On Monday, March 7, the House will he asked to consider the Draft Police Pensions (Amendment) Regulations Order, and to give a Third Reading to the Air Corporations Bill. It is intended to follow this with the Committee and remaining stages of the Post Office Savings Bank Bill, and the Third Reading of the Abortion Bill. On Tuesday and Wednesday, March 8 and 9, the House will debate the Defence White Paper on a Government Motion. On Thursday, March 10, it is intended to hold a Royal Commission for the approval of Bills, followed by the Prorogation of Parliament. On that day the House will meet at 2 p.m. That is the end of the Statement.


My Lords, I am obliged to the noble Lord the Chief Whip. Your Lordships will observe that the announcement of the date of the Election came almost as much as a surprise to him as it did to every one of your Lordships, judging by the detail which he had worked out. I think the programme looks all right, although perhaps I ought to say that the passage of these Bills must obviously be conditional upon the attitude which the Government take to any suggestions that we may have to make during the course of the remaining stages of those Bills.


My Lords, may I say that we on these Benches agree with what the noble Lord has said and are very willing indeed to adopt the proposed programme.


My Lords, may I ask the noble Lord one question: whether it is possible to take the Report stage of the Abortion Bill, as there has to be a Report stage before the Third Reading. The noble Lord has not mentioned the Report stage, and we are now back in Committee again. We shall have to have a Report stage. When are we to take that—on Friday?


My Lords, I am most grateful for the welcome which the noble Lord, Lord Carrington, and the noble Lord, Lord Rea, have given to this Statement. I must admit that the cause of this came as much as a surprise to me as it did to the noble Lord, Lord Carrington. In regard to the Abortion Bill, I note that the Third Reading is down for next Monday. As the noble Viscount will know, Standing Orders will have been suspended. It will be for my noble friend Lord Silkin and the House to decide whether to take the Report and the Third Reading on that day. I think we could leave any further arrangements to the usual channels and to my noble friend Lord Silkin.

I had a whispered complaint from my noble friend Lady Summerskill, in regard to the Matrimonial Homes Bill. This Bill has not yet received a Second Reading, and even with the greatest good will of noble Lords opposite and their friends in another place, with Prorogation next week I do not think it will be possible to get that Bill through this House and the other place for the Royal Assent next Thursday. But perhaps my noble friend will see that such a Bill is put down for a First Reading at the first moment of the next Session, when we, on this side of the House, will certainly support her in it.


The noble Lords will then be on this side of the House.


My Lords, I am not as simple as my noble friend thinks. Before I whispered in his ear, I had made other enquiries, and if he likes to pursue his enquiries further he may find that we shall have time on Tuesday. I am sorry to appear to be a little enigmatic, but that is a woman's privilege.


My Lords, I should not have the courage to suggest that the noble Lady is simple, but the fact is that there would not be much point in proceeding with that Bill at this stage, particularly with the heavy weight of business. However, as I have said, in not so many days' time the noble Lady will have the opportunity of moving that Bill.