§ Considered in Committee.
§ [Mr. WHITLEY in the Chair.]
§ The FIRST LORD of the ADMIRALTY (Mr. Long)
I wish to raise a point of Order. In accordance with recent practice in introducing the Navy Estimates, a general discussion has been rendered possible before Vote A is put from the Chair. But this year Vote A was put when the original Vote on Account was agreed to on the 14th March, and as the Committee see these Estimates to-day for the first time, I venture to suggest that the usual practice might be followed, even although Vote A has been granted. It would, I think, be for the general convenience of the Committee, as otherwise the discussion would, of course, be limited.
§ Sir D. MACLEAN
No doubt the proper method of raising this general dismission would have been to put Vote 8, or the salary of the right hon. Gentleman, first in order on the Paper. The request which my right hon. Friend makes is, of course, one which certainly will meet the general convenience of the Committee, if it has your assent. But there is one saving point I would like, with much respect, to put before you, and it is this: The function of Committees is, after all to deal with details, and a large part of the power of the House of Commons in Committee on these very important matters of Supply would be lost if what it is proposed to do to-day became in any degree in the nature of a precedent. I am sure my right hon. Friend, who is a true son of the House of Commons, if he will allow me to say so, is as anxious as we all of us are that this should not take place, and if you grant the request put forward by the right hon. Gentleman, and respectfully supported by myself, I would like, if I may ask it, that you should save the future prooedure of the House in any reply which you give.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Peebles (Sir D. Maclean) has correctly stated the prac- 1368 tice and the Rules of this Committee. I regard them as of such importance in the interests of private Members and of this Assembly that they should remain intact, so that anything that is done on the present occasion must be regarded as quite exceptional and as not setting a precedent. I recognise that the circumstances of this year in the presentation of revised Estimates are special, and I propose, with the assent of the Committee, to allow the general discussion, which in other years has taken place on Vote 12—the Admiralty Vote —the second discussion of the year on naval affairs, to be taken on Vote 1, but it will be on the understanding that it will not be repeated on subsequent Votes, and any discussion there may be on subsequent Votes will be confined, to the details of those Votes If the Committee agree to that understanding I shall permit on Vote I the discussion which usually pertains to Vote A.