27 APRIL 1951, Page 16

.Six Years' Prayers

SIIL—Mr. Watkins now seeks to abandon a merely bad position and to adopt instead a wholly untenable one. He now says that he never adopted the attitude that he objected to our " praying" now because we had not done so since 1945. Of course, I take it from him that that is what he meant by his letter printed in your issue of April 6th. But I am bound to remind him that what he said was, " I would be more credulous (sic!) about Opposition motives in discussing them until early each morning if they lad consistently done the same thing since 1945."

His new ground is that he objects to " praying until early in the morn- ing (and inconsistently).". 1 note with amusement, Sir, that he calls you in aid of him on this issue. That is very odd since you, Sir, and I know, though Mr. Watkins apparently does not, that the hour at which prayers arc taken is not the responsibility of those who put them down. Under the rules Of the House they are taken when Government business is finished for the day. If, therefore, the Government 'seeks to get through a lot of Government business during the day, then the prayers have to be taken late at night if at all. If, on the other hand, as has happened in the list fortnight, the Government moderate their appetite for the transaction of legislative business, prayers are taken much earlier.

What Mr. Watkins means by "inconsistently" I have not the faintest idea. Nor I think has he. But what I beg of him to understand is that many of us have been wholly "consistent" in seeking to combat the abuse and excessive use of powers of delegated legislation during these last six years. Faced with an output of some 3,000 Staiutory Instruments a year, some of them dealing with matters of high importance, I fail to see how any conscientious Parliamentarian could do otherwise.—I am. Sift sour obedient servant,