§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
My Lords, I beg to move that this House do now 409 adjourn. I understand that the noble Viscount, Lord Cecil, wishes to raise a point.
§ Moved, That the House do now adjourn.—(Viscount Hailisham.)
§ VISCOUNT CECIL OF CHELWOOD
My Lords, it is a small point and I do not think it will take more than two or three minutes to explain. A trifling incident occurred in the course of the discussions to-day which led me to consider the Rules of the House. I had moved an Amendment, the Minister had replied, I saw no one rising to continue the debate, and I rose to reply, and replied. My noble friend Lord Howe, in perfect exercise of his rights, continued the debate. When I desired to answer the arguments, which seemed to me interesting and powerful, that my noble friend had used, I was informed that I was out of Order on the ground that I had exhausted my right to reply. I accept that because I am told that is the custom of the House. I am bound to admit on reading the Standing Order that I should not have thought it was quite clear. What it says is:No Lord is to speak twice to any Bill, at one time of reading it, or to any other proposition, except the mover in reply …I should have thought the intention of that was to give the mover the right of answering any new arguments raised, otherwise it would be possible for a very perfunctory observation to be made from the Front Bench or elsewhere, the mover to reply, and then the real argument against, his case could be produced and he would have no answer. I venture to submit that in circumstances there ought to be some kind of understanding among your Lordships that as far as possible at any rate no new argument should be advanced after the mover has replied, otherwise he really is put in a position which is, according to his rights under the Standing Order, not quite a fair one.
§ VISCOUNT HAILSHAM
My Lords, I suppose it is my duty perhaps to say a word in answer to the observations of my noble friend. I think that the practice of the House agrees with what he informs your Lordships is the understanding which has prevailed, and which to my mind is in fact the meaning of the 410 Rule, that no Lord shall speak twice except the mover in reply. I think that means that one person may speak twice and no one else may speak more than once. I think that is the understanding which has always prevailed, but it is perfectly true that if that Rule be strictly adhered to then it seems to follow that any one who has a desire to speak upon a Motion ought to speak before the mover exercises his right of reply, otherwise his right of reply in fact is taken from him so far as relates to any fresh matter introduced after he has spoken a second time. Again, I think that I am right in stating that the understanding in your Lordships' House has been that that Rule shall be observed. I know there have been exceptions. I myself have sometimes suffered under them, and I have been conscious of the disadvantage to which the noble Viscount refers. I think it ought to be understood that if any one wants to speak on a Motion he should exercise his right to say whatever he desires to say before the mover replies, the mover of course giving a sufficient opportunity to any noble Lord to rise before he gets up for the second time. In this House we are never too strict, and if fresh matter is raised we have a habit of granting a certain latitude when it is asked for.
On the particular occasion this evening I think we had raised no objection to my noble friend's further speech until he began to make some observations about the Ministry of Transport which did not seem to me to have any direct relation to the observations which he was seeking an opportunity of dealing with. It was only then that one or two of us ventured to suggest that he was transgressing the order of the House. I think it is very useful that the matter should have been raised because it is desirable that the practice which has prevailed should be adhered to and that noble Lords who desire to take part in a discussion on any Motion should take part in such a way as to enable the mover of the Motion to deal with the arguments at the end of the debate.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.
§ House adjourned at ten minutes before seven o'clock.