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Local Government (Adjustments)-(Scotland) Bill

Volume 66: debated on Wednesday 26 August 1914

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Order for Second Reading read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."

Where is the urgency about this Bill? What connection has it with the emergency Bills which are being taken at the present moment?

I cannot say that this Bill has anything to do with the War, but it is a Bill which carries out the same object as was achieved by an English Bill of last Session. At that time the hon. Baronet (Sir G. Younger) asked me if I would introduce a Bill for Scotland. I replied that I would do so if I could obtain agreement between the counties and boroughs of Scotland. The matter has been considered by representatives of these authorities, and they have come to an absolute agreement. I believe this is approved by all Members for Scotland on both sides. It is an agreed Bill.

I, of course, do not wish to hinder the progress of a Scottish Bill, but this is the opening of the fates which may lead to a great deal of legislation. One or two things went through yesterday and it was only by a stretch of the imagination that one could think they were justified in the present situation. The House is meeting under an exceptionally heavy strain, and the bulk of the Members did not expect to come to-day, even for non-controversial legislation which is apart from the subject which is absorbing our thoughts. I do not object to this, but if the idea gets abroad that while the understanding is that we are dealing with our one great and gigantic problem, the Government Department are going to slip through things they think are non-controversial, I feel sure that the harmony of the House will be disturbed.

There is no question of slipping through anything here. This is a perfectly well-known Bill dealing with a very important matter. I am certain that no controversial Bill will be allowed to pass on this side in connection with Scotland.

I do not wish to raise any objection to a particular Bill, but I rather make an appeal to the Government at a time when they are necessarily making great demands upon the House to pass with urgency and almost in silence measures which are specially required to deal with the emergency not to extend the practice of dealing with Bills of this kind just because, I fear, it will give rise to suspicion in the House, that the Government, or interests behind the Government, are not merely dealing with the emergency, but are using it for other purposes, and because it may disturb the harmony which it is very desirable that we should observe.

Question put, and agreed to.

Ordered, "That the Bill be committed to Committee of the Whole House for Tomorrow."—[ Mr. McKinnon Wood.]