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Licensed Premises in New Towns Bill (Allocation of Time)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 21st July 1952.

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Photo of Mr David Maxwell Fyfe Mr David Maxwell Fyfe , Liverpool, West Derby 12:00 am, 21st July 1952

At the invitation of the hon. and learned Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing), I was explaining what had taken place in the Committee, and I had said that the Amendment described in the language I quoted—that it would destroy the whole purpose of the Bill—occupied nearly an hour of our second Sitting. The first hour of the third Sitting was occupied by a discussion as to whether we should sit that night. The hon. and learned Gentleman mentioned the fact that he had suggested that we should sit at 3.30 in the afternoon. He did not mention that before that several colleagues on his side of the Committee had protested vigorously against any moment of the time in the debate on Colonial affairs being intruded upon by this Committee.

After that matter was finished—as I say, after an hour—we then had an hour and 20 minutes upon the Amendment which, in the expression, if not the opinion, of an hon. Member, would destroy the whole purpose of the Bill, and we were able to divide on that Amendment after 2 hours and 20 minutes, just before the end of that Sitting. The whole of the fourth Sitting, was occupied entirely by a Motion for the Adjournment.

I have not the slightest reluctance in stating these facts, and when they are remembered against the background that I have already quoted—namely that it had taken four Sittings and had occupied 200 columns Of the OFFICIAL REPORT—it becomes manifestly clear that the Opposition had no intention of a reasonable or proper use of the time. One has only to compare their conduct on this Bill—as I say, a fraction of a Clause in four Sittings—with the rate of one Clause to a Sitting in the case of the Town and Country Planning Bill, when we on these benches were in Opposition, to show how demonstrable that part of my case is.

The right hon. Member for South Shields asked us to consider the matter against the time that had been taken on the Bill which he introduced in 1949 for nationalising the public houses in the new towns, and I have gone through very carefully, as I am sure he has, the OFFICIAL REPORT Of that Committee. I hope that he agrees with me as to the facts, and I am sure that he will put me right if I am wrong in any of them.

The whole of Part I of that Bill took 10 Sittings in Standing Committee, while the most comparable part of the Bill, namely Clauses 1, 2 and 3 as they then were—the right hon. and learned Gentleman will remember that Clause 2 disappeared at a later stage—took eight Sittings, the other two Sittings being occupied with a special problem which arose then on the acquisition of land. The whole Bill of 43 Clauses and four Schedules took 14 Sittings.

These are the facts as I have found them. Assume that it is fair to compare the whole of Part I of that Bill with this Bill, which repeals its essential part, and we have 10 Sittings occupied by it.