HL Deb 21 May 1968 vol 292 cc595-7

3.2 p.m.


My Lords, in moving the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper to suspend Standing Orders Nos. 35 and 41, I am aware that we do not always do this before the Whitsun Recess, though it has been done on three occasions since 1960. We managed this Session without the usual Easter suspension of Standing Orders, and we certainly do not envisage that it will be necessary to make any considerable use of the powers for which we are asking. If any noble Lord wishes to know in more detail why we are doing it, I shall be happy to answer, but the proposal I am making is not an unusual one. I beg to move.

Moved, That, until the Recess at Whit-sun, Standing Orders No. 35 (Arrangement of the Order Paper) and 41 (No two stages of a Bill to be taken on one day) be suspended and Government business do have, except with the consent of the Government, precedence over other business.—(Lord Shackleton.)


My Lords, I am glad to respond to the invitation which the noble Lord the Leader of the House has just given me. I agree that there are precedents for suspending Standing Orders before the Whitsun Recess, and the noble Lord has reminded us that this has occurred on three occasions since 1960. Nevertheless, it is something which on the whole we wish to avoid, particularly when we know that we shall have to embark on a particularly heavy schedule. I would ask the noble Lord what is the reason which makes it particularly necessary for us to suspend Standing Orders on this occasion.


My Lords, it was because I knew the noble Earl wanted to say something that I gave him that invitation. I should say that I do not see the connection between the suspension of Standing Orders and the fact that we are going to have a heavy session. This Motion is put down simply in order to enable certain Bills which can conveniently go through more than one stage on a particular day, to go through. Not only have Standing Orders been suspended three times since 1960, but there are probably about 15 other occasions when this was done in the four years before this Government came into office. Following our earlier discussion, I should like to make it clear that there is nothing sinister in this. The only items we have in mind are the possibility of the Industrial Expansion Bill, if there are no Amendments tabled on Report—a matter which naturally I would want to discuss with the noble Lords concerned—and the deep regard which we have for the Maintenance Orders Bill, which I know the noble Baroness, Lady Emmet of Amberley, is anxious to get through before Whitsun.


My Lords, the noble Lord said that all that is effected by this Motion is that more than one stage of a Bill can be taken in one day, but does it not mean also that Government business will have precedence over any other business, which presumably means the removal of the right of private Members of your Lordships' House to put down business which takes precedence of any other business not put down before it on the day in question? In those circumstances it is removing a right, and some reason should be given by the noble Lord the Leader of the House why it is necessary to do this abnormally early. Many of us who have an interest in putting down Questions and taking part in the business of the House on an independent basis are thus deprived of any opportunity we should have for carrying out that role.


My Lords, in these matters, as I think the noble Lord will agree, my noble friend makes the best efforts he can, but it is quite customary to move this Motion. It may be unlikely that we shall want to do this with regard to Government business, but there are certain Bills that come to a climax at a certain stage and we might have to fit in with the timetable of another place. Without this power we should find ourselves in an inflexible situation. This gives the Government the flexibility which previous Governments have asked for in these circumstances. The noble Lord is perfectly right to draw your Lordships' attention to the point, but I must admit that I had the noble Baroness more in mind than the Government's interest.

On Question, Motion agreed to.