HL Deb 06 June 1972 vol 331 cc269-71

8.26 p.m.


My Lords, before we go on to the next Business, I think we are entitled to some sort of explanation from Her Majesty's Government as to the course of Business for the rest of the evening. The understanding was—and the House gave its agreement to the proposition—that we should adjourn for about one hour in order to take certain other Business and we were then to go on to the Housing Finance Bill. I think it is fair to say that the majority of your Lordships in the House at the present time are here for the purpose of discussing the Housing Finance Bill. I think it would be quite wrong to proceed with other Business after the period of time which we set aside for discussing other matters has elapsed. The Amendment to the National Health Service (Family Planning) Amendment Bill was put down very late, and it changed the sort of understanding that had been reached that we should take it at seven o'clock because it was formal. In the circumstances, that understanding having gone, I should have thought that we should take these other items of Business either on another day or after we finish the discussion on the Housing Finance Bill.


My Lords, I appreciate what the noble Lord has said. I do not think we want to waste too much time in discussing our programme. I suggest that it would be rather difficult now, having got the next Bill on to the Order Paper, suddenly to change the order of Business. There are various other noble Lords who have come here for the National Health Service (Family Planning) Amendment Bill. I suggest that we should tackle this Bill now—I do not anticipate that it will take very long—and we can then return to the Housing Finance Bill.


My Lords, I should like to support what my noble friend has said. One of the undertakings in this House is that if there are understandings they are conformed with. Unless this happens, we can never make any real progress. If the National Health (Family Planning) Amendment Bill can be got through quite rapidly, then I think my noble friend might agree to its being taken now. But I think he would require an assurance from the Ministers responsible for Business that the House will not be placed in this situation again.


My Lords, I hope that we shall get through the Bill expeditiously. I would only say that, as I understand it, the sponsors of the two Private Members' Bills with which we are dealing had in fact agreed to put back their Business. They were entitled to come first place on the Order Paper to-day. They have tried to meet the convenience of the House by putting them back until seven o'clock. The last Business has taken rather long, but I hope that we can get on quite swiftly now and get through the proceedings on the National Health Service Bill.


My Lords, I do not know whether it has escaped the notice of the noble Lord that there is a third Bill down for consideration within this hour. A noble Lord has put his name down that the Order of Commitment should be discharged. That is something that should take only a matter of seconds. Could not that be disposed of rather more rapidly than the National Health Service (Family Planning) Amendment Bill?


My Lords, that is formal Business and it will take no time at all.