§ Order read for consideration of Lords Amendments.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Lords Amendments be now considered."—[Mr. Sandys.]
§ 3.53 p.m.
§ Mr. Herbert Morrison (Lewisham, South)
It is a matter of some satisfaction that on this Bill, which is just as controversial as was the Transport Bill, the area or acreage, so to speak, of the Amendments which have come back to this House from their Lordships' House is extraordinarily small as compared with those which came back on the Transport Bill. Here we have Lords Amendments which occupy only a page and a half of an octavo sheet, as compared with about 15 pages on the Transport Bill.
Moreover, I am advised by my right hon. Friend the Member for Vauxhall (Mr. G. R. Strauss) that only five of these Amendments are of any real significance and that the others are mainly drafting or consequential Amendments. One may be described as a hybrid—partly a concession to us and partly to meet the convenience of the Minister—and two are complete concessions to the point of view of the Opposition in this House. In those circumstances I have no doubt that my right hon. Friend and his colleagues, together with the Government and their supporters, will be able to deal with these Amendments with reasonable expedition.
There is an explanation for this situation which has arisen. I have indicated that this Bill is a major Bill of the Government who, unhappily, are proceeding to denationalise the iron and steel industry, just as the Transport Bill was a Bill to denationalise road commercial transport and to do certain other things to which we were bitterly opposed. I cannot refrain from drawing comparisons on the proceedings which have taken place on the two Bills. Though we are bitterly opposed to this Bill, I congratulate the Minister of Supply, up to a point, at any rate, on the way in which he has handled it, as compared with the way in which the Minister of Transport handled the Transport Bill. I would 1258 suggest that in their spare time, when these two Measures are finished with, the two Ministers might get together. The Minister of Supply might give the Minister of Transport a lesson in Parliamentary methods and the handling of Bills, and also in good manners.
In this Bill no Guillotine was clamped down—as it was in the case of the Transport Bill—without any consultation. There might have been a Guillotine here, but the right hon. Gentleman consulted my right hon. Friend the Member for Vauxhall and they arrived at a fair agreement whereby reasonable time was given to the Committee stage. The result was that adequate discussions took place in Committee and on Report, and the master of the situation and the legislative business was the House of Commons. That is always to be desired.
Consequently, when the Bill reached the other place there was much less to be undertaken in the way of Amendments, because the House of Commons had been enabled to do its job. The Bill comes back with merely one and a half pages of Amendments, as compared with 15 or more pages on the Transport Bill. We shall therefore not have to go through the shocking and disgraceful experience of the House of Commons, on consideration of the Lords Amendments, being forced to consider Amendments of substance and to do its best to go through Committee and Report stages which ought to have been taken in this House.
We can handle these Amendments in the way that Lords Amendments ought to be handled—as modest and restricted Amendments limited in number, apart from drafting Amendments, and limited in substance. That is the way legislation should be done. To that extent, and only to that extent, I congratulate the Minister of Supply. I would urge him, in a quiet moment, to take the Minister of Transport out to dinner one night, when they can have a private room, and the Minister of Supply can give the Minister of Transport a lecture or an address on how to handle Parliamentary business in a democratic and Parliamentary way, instead of the way in which the Transport Bill was handled in this House.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Lords Amendments considered accordingly.