§ 4.35 P.m.
§ VISCOUNT ADDISON
My Lords, before the House adjourns, it might be convenient to add a word about tomorrow's sitting. I have not had an opportunity of consulting noble Lords opposite and hope, therefore, that I shall be forgiven for raising this matter. Just before I came into your Lordships.' House I found that there was already a list of twenty-one speakers—and it appeared to be growing almost every moment—on Lord Llewellin's Amendment to Clause 1 of the Criminal Justice Bill which is to be taken to-morrow. I am sure your Lordships will agree that it is eminently desirable, seeing that we have already had a long discussion on this matter, that we should dispose of the Amendment to-morrow; at any rate I sincerely hope so. In that case, I hope your Lordships will agree that, in order to dispose of the Amendment, we shall, if necessary, adjourn for dinner and then resume. As I have not had an opportunity of consulting noble Lords opposite, I think it is only fair, in view of the rather staggering intimation that has been given to me, that the fact should be communicated to your Lordships' House. I hope your Lordships will be willing to agree with my suggestion. I am quite sure we do not want this Amendment to drag on for more than one day.
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON
My Lords, I am bound to say that the proposal which the noble Viscount has just made—though I realise that he has had no opportunity of consultation—has staggered me as much as the list of speakers has staggered him. I do not know whether, without some further discussion, we on this side could agree to the proposal. It is not that we want to be unreasonable about sitting after dinner but, as the noble Viscount knows, large numbers of noble Lords do not live in London, and hitherto we have always had ample notice when it was proposed to sit after dinner. This is a clause of outstanding importance, and although I do not know how noble Lords are going to vote in the event of a Division, every noble Lord who takes part in the debate will wish to record his vote on one side or the other. That would be quite impossible if noble Lords were faced with a proposal that we should sit after dinner to-morrow. The speeches on this subject, judging by those which were made during the Second Reading (they could not, of course, have been shorter) will be lengthy. A great deal remains to be said on this Bill, and a decision may have to be taken very late. I hope the noble Viscount will not press this proposition. At any rate we cannot to-day consent to it. I think the noble Viscount knows that there is no question at all of obstruction. I am sure that we can so arrange business that the decision can, if necessary, be taken on another day.
§ VISCOUNT ADDISON
My Lords, the noble Viscount knows that I am always ready to enter into any arrangement which is most suitable to the convenience of your Lordships' House. I said in my previous remarks that I had not had an opportunity of consultation. I will, of course, consider what the noble Viscount says, and I have no doubt that between now and to-morrow we shall be able to have a conference on the subject and to arrive at some arrangement. I would point out, however, without any desire to curtail any speech, that the list I saw contained the names of a considerable number of noble Lords who spoke on the Second Reading. I have no doubt they will say the same thing again—their 12 convictions will not have altered in the meantime. Therefore, we have already had the advantage of their views. I will not press the matter any more now, and I hope we shall have a chance of arriving at some arrangement.
§ VISCOUNT SWINTON
My Lords, I have a suggestion to make, which seems a practicable one. There are other important clauses, which do not yet command the same attention as Clause 1. Would it not be possible for us, after a reasonable time to-morrow, to adjourn the debate on the first Amendment to Clause 1, and to proceed with the rest of the Bill, taking the other clauses and Amendments after dinner? That suggestion came to me from a very high quarter, but I now gather, from an equally high quarter, that it is not possible. I hope that we shall certainly not take the Division on this Amendment late to-morrow night, and that we shall, if necessary, take the Bill again on Wednesday and have a Division well before dinner on that day. We can then sit after dinner on Wednesday to deal with the other parts of the Bill. That would be giving the noble Viscount the Leader of the House, I will not say an all-night sitting but a night sitting. I think that would probably suit everybody's convenience.
§ LORD LLEWELLIN
My Lords, I have been through most of the proposed Amendments to the Criminal Justice Bill and, apart from those affecting the first two or three clauses, I do not think that much time need be taken by this House on most of the Amendments. Of course, there are some important Amendments but they are of the kind which I hope can be dealt with expeditiously by your Lordships' House. I ask the noble and learned Viscount the Leader of the House whether he would not be prepared to see how we progress. Even if we do not reach a Division at a reasonable hour to-morrow upon my Amendment to Clause 1, we should be able to get through the Committee stage within the four days allotted to the Bill.
§ VISCOUNT ADDISON
I shall be glad to have the opportunity of consulting with noble Lords opposite upon the suggestions that have been made.