§ MR. CHAPLIN () Lincolnshire, Sleaford
I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury a question of which I have given him private notice, namely, if he is aware that by the ruling of Mr. Speaker on the question of adjournment for the holidays, and by the moving of the closure, a number of Members on both sides of the House were prevented from expressing their regret that no facilities had been offered for discussing a proposal to refer the Beer Bill to the Standing Committee on Trade, in accordance with the memorial addressed to the 1131 right hon. Gentleman some weeks ago; secondly, whether the right hon. Gentleman is aware that, as there was no other business before that Committee, by the concession asked for the Bill might have passed through the Committee by this time; and whether, in making his promised announcement upon business after the Whitsuntide holidays, the right hon. Gentleman will take into consideration the representations made in the memorial referred to.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I am very well aware that, owing to the course of the debate last night, my right hon. friend and other Members who take great interest in the Bill were prevented from laying their views before the House and the Government. It is also quite true that no facilities have been given for the discussion of a proposal to send the Bill to Grand Committee. But I am sure the House will feel that it was practically impossible for the Government to take time from such matters as the Finance Bill and the Civil List for the debate my right hon. friend naturally wishes to see brought to a conclusion. Nor would it have been possible, without singling out this Bill for special privilege, giving it advantage over other Bills which will come on for discussion after Whitsuntide. I hope that under the circumstances my right hon. friend will see that the course pursued was the only course open to the Government. I am perfectly well aware of the great interest taken in the subject by my right hon. friend and other Members in different parts of the House, and I will bear this in mind when making my statement after Whitsuntide, and asking facilities for the conduct of business.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
Arising out of that answer, may I ask my right hon. friend if he is aware that there was no other Bill in a position to be referred to the Standing Committee on Trade before Whitsuntide, and that all that was asked for in the memorial was the sacrifice of a single hour of the time at the disposal of the Government?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Yes, I am aware of that, but that request, modest as it seemed in its character, would have 1132 been extremely difficult to comply with in a time of great pressure such as always exists at this time of the session in regard to first-class measures.