HL Deb 25 July 1972 vol 333 cc1221-3

My Lords, may I ask a question on future business? I think it is intended to take the Second Reading of the Local Government Bill next Monday and Tuesday. The Bill was read a first time only yesterday and I am told that it is not yet printed and that the earliest we can have it before us is Thursday afternoon. Could this not be expedited, because we ought to have this important Bill well in advance.


My Lords, I understand it is hoped that copies of the Bill will be ready on Thursday. Of course it is a very big Bill and we are extremely busy at this time in the Session, but I hope that my noble friend will have time to study the Bill before the Second Reading.


My Lords, I understand that a great many Amend ments have been made in another place and it is very unsatisfactory if one cannot get the Bill. I tried to get a copy this morning and was told that the earliest that it will be available is Thursday. It is very difficult to prepare a speech if one does not have the Bill.


Or to consider Amendments.


My Lords, I agree that it is inconvenient and I can only apologise to your Lordships. At this time in the Session we are always very busy, but I think the noble Baroness will find that there will be two clear weekends between the First Reading of the Bill in this House and the Second Reading.


My Lords, I have great sympathy with the noble Lord in this awkward situation, but clearly if the Bill is not available when the time is already so short we may have to consider whether it is possible to take the Second Reading next week. I would not wish to complicate the Government's already impossible programme, but I think the House will have to give this matter further consideration. The last thing I want to do is to press the noble Lord, because the fact that the Bill is not printed is due to circumstances linked entirely with other great errors in Government policy.


My Lords, I am not rising to the noble Lord's trailing his coat, but I am rising to say, as I think I made it very clear to your Lordships about ten days ago, that Government business at present—as has happened to all Governments—is particularly acute. I acknowledge the fact there is a considerable log-jam of legislation waiting to be taken by your Lordships' House and that it includes some very important legislation. This is bound to cause serious inconvenience to your Lordships. What I am anxious to do, and what I think is desirable from the point of view of the administration of the House—and desirable also from the point of view of your Lordships, who have had considerable strain placed upon you; and it is going to be greater—is to do all I can to make certain that the House rises for the start of the Summer Recess not later than Friday, August 11. When I made my Statement ten days or so ago, I said the worst that was expected was a rising on August 17, but this would be placing the greatest possible strain on your Lordships' and therefore is something I want to avoid. I think this is a matter which might be pursued through the usual channels. It is with that in mind that I should like to ask your Lordships to await developments so far as the printing of this long Bill is concerned and, if need be, to discuss through the usual channels possible rearrangements of our programme. But it is with a desire to try to save the House, and the staff of the House, who have had a very heavy burden placed upon them, and your Lordships generally, that I am aiming to do all I can to ensure that the House rises by August 11.


My Lords, may I ask the Leader of the House whether it would help the Government were noble Lords to sit on August 12, or whether he thinks this would be inconvenient to Members of your Lordships' House?


My Lords, not being the possessor of many broad acres in Yorkshire or North of Yorkshire, I can plead perfect impartiality in this matter. But I suspect that these days August 12 is riot the significant date in your Lordships' House that it may once have been.