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Business Of The House

Volume 496: debated on Tuesday 26 February 1952

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May I ask the Leader of the House whether he has any statement to make on business?

Yes, Sir. In addition to the business already announced for consideration tomorrow, Wednesday, we shall ask the House to take the following business which was postponed last night; that is to say, the Committee and remaining stages of the Agriculture (Fertilisers) Bill, the adjourned debate on Second Reading of the Exports Guarantees Bill, and the Committee stage of the necessary Money Resolution.

If essential business is to be taken after the announced business, is there to be a suspension of the Rule?

Yes, Sir. After the buiness which has been announced, if we take the Licensed Premises in New Towns Bill, and the Money Resolution in Committee, that will involve asking the House to suspend the Rule

May I ask the Leader of the House, seeing that there was no serious opposition to the general principle of Second Reading of the Agriculture (Fertilisers) Bill, whether he thinks it is decent to ask the Opposition to sit after 10 o'clock to deal with the Bill tomorrow night?

We all agreed to take it last night, and it was only out of consideration for the convenience of the House that we did not carry on the debate in the early hours of this morning.

Is there any reason, since the Committee stage, Report stage and Third Reading were put down yesterday for 7 p.m., why they could not be put down for 7 p.m. at a later date?

I have already explained to the right hon. Gentleman that we intended and hoped to get these yesterday, as they were agreed business. Unfortunately, other events intervened over which I had no control. Instead of continuing in the early hours of the morning, we thought that it would be more convenient for everybody concerned to take the business tomorrow. That is all

Is not the Leader of the House aware that this is a Bill covering an expenditure of something above £50 million if all the powers are used, and that there were several pages of Amendments on the Paper? Does he think it is proper that they should be taken after ten o'clock. Is that treating the taxpayer, the agricultural industry or this House with the courtesy they ought to have?

It is treating everybody quite fairly. Not only is the Bill vitally important to the agricultural industry, but it is vitally important to get the Bill through and on to the Statute Book as soon as possible in this financial year.

The Budget has already been put back for one week. Why is it necessary to force this Bill through after 10 p.m. on Wednesday? Why could it not have been discussed during the week which was to have been occupied with Budget discussions?

The right hon. Gentleman has held office in the Ministry of Agriculture and he realises the urgency of the Bill. I think he has been long enough in the House to realise also that in March a great deal of necessary financial business has to be got through, by statute, before the end of the financial year.

In view of the statement by the President of the Board of Trade about the Export Guarantees Bill, which affects the whole trade of this country, will not the Leader of the House follow the precedent set by the late Government of always putting down the Export Guarantee Bill as the first Order of the Day, to give the House a real opportunity of discussing the serious issues which are raised by it?

We did have a very good opportunity the other day, but the hon. and learned Gentleman spoke towards the end of the debate and did not enable us to get the Bill on that afternoon.

Does not the right hon. Gentleman realise that not one of his hon. Friends, who always make a point of speaking on that Measure, was called on that occasion, from lack of time? Is he not going to give them another opportunity? Does he not realise that by taking the Bill as proposed he will only postpone the inevitable debate to the Committee stage of the Measure? Will he undertake to give us a day for the Committee stage?