§ Moved, That the House do now adjourn.—(The Marquess of Salisbury.)
§ LORD MUIR MACKENZIE
My Lords, on the Motion for the Adjournment, hope the noble Marquess the Leader of the House will forgive me if I comment on what has happened this evening. Throughout the discussion upon the Criminal Justice Bill your Lordships' House has not been in the position in which I think it ought to be when considering important Bills, especially those introduced by the Government. Between now and the close of the Session we know that other important Bills will come before us. We cannot tell that they may not come up later even than tea-time. Something ought to be done to ensure that the House may be in sufficient force to deal adequately with, important measures. There is an Order of your Lordships' House which renders the position particularly difficult and critical. That has been illustrated once or twice this evening. It provides that unless there are not less than thirty members present a noble Lord cannot proceed to a Division upon a question about which he feels very strongly—as was the case in 1311 regard to my noble friend Lord Parmoor this evening—without running the risk of throwing the whole of the business into confusion. I do not like to make a suggestion about members being present, but I should have thought that out of the innumerable company at his command the noble Marquess the Leader of the House might contrive to keep a House. I cannot offer to give him any assistance as a Whip on this side save in regard to the very limited number of nine in an extreme case; but we certainly will do our share on this side of the House when there is important business to be considered. I cannot help appealing to the noble Marquess to do something to prevent a recurrence of what we have seen this evening
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, I am not at all surprised that the noble Lord has called attention to what has passed this evening. I can assure him that it was with the greatest personal regret that I was aware that the Opposition were placed in a difficulty. May I say that I thought they showed great consideration in the circumstances in not using the power which was undoubtedly in their hands to arrest the course of public business? I have already had an opportunity of pointing out to your Lordships how difficult the situation was this evening in consequence of circumstances over which we had practically no control. The very late period of the Session makes 1312 it of great importance to get on with business
There are two other matters to be thought of. In the first place, noble Lords, although the number is very few, sometimes attend on a particular night because certain business is set down for that night, and if that business is postponed the effort they have made is entirely thrown away. That was actually the case to-night. Two noble Lords, men of considerable position and of great occupation, came up specially to move an Amendment in Committee. They moved that Amendment and your Lordships agreed to it; but had they gone away earlier their time would have been thrown away. The other consideration is that though noble Lords, through their own kindness, may have lost an opportunity of moving Amendments in Committee, they always have the Report stage and the Third Reading stage in which to do so. Therefore, their opportunities are not altogether gone. The noble Lord has made an appeal to me which certainly has not fallen upon deaf ears, and I will do my utmost to prevent a recurrence of what has happened to-night by trying to keep a House adequate to enable noble Lords to divide against the Government if they wish
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.
§ House adjourned at ten minutes past eight o'clock.