§ 2.37 p.m.
§ THE PAYMASTER GENERAL (LORD SHACKLETON)
My Lords, With your Lordships' permission, perhaps I may make a short statement regarding business. Were it not for the occasion, I should have liked to say how pleased I am to see so many of your Lordships here looking so healthy. But, on business, the present intention, or the intention which we had agreed as a result of consultations, is that we should if possible complete our debate on the Czechoslovakian situation before we rise this evening. I am still not unhopeful that we may be able to manage this without going to too late an hour, if, as I expect, a number of noble Lords will not necessarily wish to make lengthy speeches.
There is, of course, a case for finishing by about 10 o'clock, if only to make sure that we have a complete Hansard. But if the debate looks like going on until a very late hour—say, much after ten o'clock—we can then consider adjourning and starting again to-morrow before the debate on Nigeria, although I think that most noble Lords, many of whom have come here for only the day hope that we shall be able to finish today. None the less, we should not want anyone to feel constrained, and we shall just have to see how we get on. I hope that the very high attendance will also be reflected for those noble Lords who have to undertake the winding up.
May I also say that I should like to express the appreciation of your Lord 514 ships' House to the large number of officials and others who serve us—the Hansard writers and so on—who have answered the call to duty.
§ LORD SHACKLETON
I am sure that they do not grudge their presence here, in the light of the present situation. In a moment my noble friend Lord Beswick would like to say a word on the subject of refreshments.
My Lords, in the unavoidable absence of my noble friend Lord Carrington, I should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Shackleton, for his statement and to thank him also for his congratulations on our good health. I should also like to say that I share his hope that all 38 wickets will in fact fall before stumps are drawn this evening.
§ LORD BESWICK
My Lords, there are obviously some difficulties in the logistics of this operation, and I hope that noble Lords generally will be tolerant if there are any shortcomings. I think we ought to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Strang, and the members of the staff of the Refreshment Department, on the excellent lunch which they laid on. I am afraid that it has not been possible to arrange for dinners to be available, but light refreshments will be served in the Guest Room later this evening.