Before the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill moves the Second Reading, may I ask him whether, seeing it is now half-past five, and the Debate will have to be interrupted at a quarter-past eight, he thinks it advisable now to embark on this very important discussion? There are several other very useful Orders on the Paper which might be disposed of between now and a quarter-past eight.
On that point the general understanding which I arrived at with my right hon. Friend, and in order to meet the convenience of the House, was that if the discussion on the Financial Resolution just concluded was over by half-past five we might begin this Debate. We know how very important this matter is, and if it is the desire of the House, and convenient to it, I shall be willing to go on with it now. But in view of the fact that the discussion must necessarily close at a quarter-past eight, perhaps it might be convenient to take instead of it the smaller Bills on the Order Papers both to-day and to-morrow, and to take this Bill on Monday and Tuesday next.
I think, in view of the importance of this Bill, and realising how important it is the country should know what my right hon. Friend has to say with regard to it, and it being quite obvious that any statement he makes at this hour will not have the same chances of appearing in the public Press throughout the provinces as it would have if he started making it at four o'clock, it would be as well to adopt this suggestion. I have no desire—on the contrary, I want to help in every way I can, but I do suggest that the House will not have really adequate time to consider the matter if we start on it now.
This Bill is very important, and as the right hon. Gentleman has come here with his material, I think it would be very much better to proceed with the Second Reading now and to continue the Debate until 8.15. I take it the Government will give Monday for the discussion on the Second Reading, and I think that would be just as convenient as giving Monday and Tuesday. We want very much to get on with the business. We want to show the country what is going to be done in this matter. Everybody knows the country is waiting for this Bill very anxiously.
I am entirely in the hands of the House. I think myself, in view of the fact that the discussion would have to close at a quarter-past eight, it would be better in all the circumstances to take the Bill on Monday and Tuesday. I do not think that the short delay will make any difference in the real progress of the measure, and I gather from what I hear that that is the general sense of the House.
It would be most unfortunate if this very important discussion were taken in a comparatively thin House and with very little chance of being fully reported in the public Press. I hope, indeed, the Government will give us two clear days for it. They will do so if they realise what the country thinks about this Bill.