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Business Of The House

Volume 155: debated on Tuesday 27 June 1922

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I would ask the Prime Minister a question with regard to the business of to-day. He will notice on the Order Paper not only the large number, but also the importance of the new Clauses to the Finance Bill. No doubt the Patronage Secretary to the Treasury will have informed him of the very late hours which the House has sat on this Bill in Committee. In these circumstances, will he not recognise that it would not be fair to press the Committee to finish the whole of the Clauses to-night, and that another day should be given for their consideration?

My right hon. Friend the Leader of the House is unfortunately confined to his room owing to a chill. I understand that there was, I will not say an arrangement, but some understanding that the Amendments would be disposed of in three and a half or four days. [HON. MEMBERS: "No!"] The Government are very pressed for time, and, having regard to the programme in front of us, I am afraid that we shall be forced to sit later into August than we had hoped, and there is always the prospect of having an Autumn Session to deal with Ireland, and we are anxious, naturally, to save every day. At the same time, if it is found impossible to get through these Amendments without unduly taxing the time and the energies of the Committee, then I am afraid that another day must be found, in which case I understand that the Bill will be put on the Order Paper for to-morrow. But I earnestly trust that we may get through to-night, because it is for the convenience of Members that we should save time as far as possible.

I regret very much to hear of the indisposition of the Leader of the House, and I hope that he will soon be quite well again. I would press the request that the House should not sit after 12 o'clock to-night. The Chancellor of the Exchequer will agree with me that the discussions, except on one occasion for an hour or two, were directed to serious points, and he is aware that he need not anticipate anything other than the discussion of really serious points to-day.

Before the Chancellor of the Exchequer answers, might I suggest that there is a desire on the part of everybody not to obstruct, but merely to conduct the business in the ordinary way. It is to the advantage of the country that these Clauses should be discussed more or less in the night and not at 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning when Members are asleep and the reporters are asleep also.

I agree with what the right hon. Member for Peebles has said as to the way in which the discussion has been conducted up to now. I cannot complain at all of the way in which the Clauses have been discussed, and I hope that to-day there will be at least equal expedition. At the same time, I think it possible that we may get through a very large amount, if not all, that is on the Order Paper to-day, and I should not myself at this stage be willing to say that we should conclude at 12 o'clock. It is possible that, with a little extension of time, we may be able to conclude all the business to-night.