HL Deb 16 December 1970 vol 313 cc1369-70

My Lords, as your Lordships will have seen, there is a long list of speakers for to-day's important debate. In another place there will be a Statement on the United Kingdom participation in the European Economic Community's financial arrangements. This is an important Statement and it is one which I think ought to be repeated in this House, but if we do so to-day it will seriously interrupt the debate. The usual channels have agreed that it may be in the best interests of the House as a whole if we take the unusual step of not repeating the Statement to-day but repeating it, probably in a slightly different form, tomorrow. I am entirely in the hands of the House in this matter. If your Lordships feel that we ought to have the Statement to-day, notwithstanding the business we are discussing, then arrangements will be made for the Statement to be made by my noble friend Lord Lothian at a convenient moment after 3.30 p.m.


My Lords, speaking on behalf of my noble friends, I would support the suggestion that has been made by the Government Chief Whip. We are in this dilemma. We have this important debate. We may have a Division, and we do not wish it to be at a late hour. On the other hand, we have this important Statement on the Common Market, and it may well be that we shall need to pursue it at some length. If we were to take it to-day, I think that both matters would suffer. If we adopt the suggestion of the noble Earl, it will mean that we can look at this Statement and pursue the matter at more leisure, and we should not be putting in jeopardy important business. I certainly suggest to the House that this is a most admirable way of dealing with two difficult problems.


My Lords, I should like to associate myself with those remarks. It seems to me that unless speeches are much briefer than they usually are in your Lordships' House, we are not going to get to a conclusion of to-day's debate until 11 o'clock in any case. We ought to have more time to discuss the Statement to-morrow rather than interfere with today's debate.


My Lords, I am grateful to both noble Lords for what they have said. I do not think we should look on this as the beginning of a new procedure but should regard it as one to be used only in exceptional circumstances. I should also like to associate myself with what was said by the noble Lord, Lord Byers, which suggested that noble Lords might confine their remarks to as few words as possible.