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On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. May I ask your guidance on why we are being called upon to take the Second Reading of an important Bill at Ten o'clock at night on a day when no Motion for suspension of the Rule has been made or carried? I appreciate that under Standing Order No. 21 such a Motion can be made without notice, but it does not appear on the Order Paper, and I was behind your Chair at the time and did not hear it being moved. So far as I know, there is no record of it being moved, and, as this is not exempted business, clearly we are not entitled to embark after Ten o'clock at night on an important Bill without a suspension of the Rule.
The hon. Member is quite right. There is no suspension of the Rule and the Bill is not exempted. If he has any objection to the proceedings, the Bill must stand over.
I object, Mr. Speaker, and as a second point of order, as an act of courtesy to you, I wish very respectfully to suggest to you that you might reconsider the Ruling you gave in 1952–53, based not on Second Reading but on the Question, "That Clause 1 stand part of the Bill", which appeared to introduce a new principle on the Second Reading of the Bill, which we regard as one of very great importance.
It has always been my view—and the Ruling goes back a very long time before my time—that on the Second Reading of the Bill no discussion can properly take place. The merits of the various Acts which it is proposed to continue can be discussed by Amendment in Committee. I do not for the moment see what the relevance to the position on Second Reading is of a discussion of the Motion, "That Clause 1 stand part of the Bill." No doubt the hon. Member will have an opportunity of elucidating that point. I must ask the day for Second Reading.
As the one chiefly responsible for putting business before the House, may I say that the normal practice over the years has been for this business to be taken formally. I am not interfering with the wish of the hon. Member. We shall respect his wish, but normally the Second Reading is taken formally and discussion in the past has taken place in Committee. We had catered for a discussion on Committee stage to give full ventilation of subjects arising out of the Bill. The sole reason for not suspending the Rule and for taking this business formally was that of following precedent. The hon. Member has stated objection and, therefore, we shall have to find time for the Second Reading of the Bill.
I think I should say that we came to an agreement on this matter, which generally is taken formally, and that it is very difficult to raise anything on the Bill which is in order at this stage. We understand that there will be a full opportunity in Committee to raise all matters, and my right hon. Friends would want to hold to the agreement made that this stage of the Bill should be taken formally.