HC Deb 19 October 1908 vol 194 cc765-6
MR. A. J. BALFOUR (City of London)

said he wished to ask the Prime Minister two questions having reference to the arrangement of business under the Closure Resolution. The right hon. Gentleman intended on Wednesday to make a statement of some length on the serious question of unemployment, and, as he understood, he had promised, if that statement was not satisfactory, to give an opportunity for its discussion. A lengthy statement, made in time taken out of their rather slender resources on the Licensing Bill, was of itself a rather serious interference with the rules which the right hon. Gentleman had himself laid down. He thought it might be taken as a matter of absolute certainty that the right hon. Gentleman's statement, whether satisfactory or not, would require commentary and discussion. The second question had reference to the Amendment put down on Friday in the name of the First Commissioner of Works in connection with off-licences, about which not a single word either had been or could be said. The first opportunity of discussing it must be on the Report stage, and he would ask whether the right hon. Gentleman did not think this fact necessitated some reconstruction of the compartment resolution when they reached the Report stage. The interests involved were very large.


said he hoped his statement would not be at all a long one. It would be longer than an answer to a Question, and that was why he said what he did. But it would be as short as he could make it, and he did not think it would substantially encroach on the time allotted to the Licensing Bill. He thought it was almost impossible that any statement on this particular matter could be made without giving rise to a legitimate demand for discussion in some quarter, and he would see how that demand could best be met. With regard to the second question of the right hon. Gentleman, he would point out that the Amendment was carried without a division, without even a challenge. That, according to ordinary experience and use, would seem to show that it had the unanimous support of the House. He had never known a proposition to which exception was taken carried without a division, or even without a challenge. But he agreed that it was a matter of importance, and he would consider, between now and the Report stage whether it would not be possible, by remoulding, if necessary, the compartment procedure, to afford the House some opportunity of discussing it if there was a general disposition to do so.