§ Sir R. Peel
said, be would take the opportunity of moving, that the Order of the Day for the second reading of the Irish Registration of Electors Bill be now read to explain, as far as it was in his power to do so, the course which Her Majesty's Government proposed to pursue with respect to those Bills which had been already submitted to Parliament, and were now waiting the sanction of the House. Upon looking at the Orders of the Day which stood for Thursday, Wednesday, and today, he believed that they included all the Bills which were at present awaiting the decision of the House. There were, however, some Bills which were not yet introduced, but which he had reason to hope would cause very little trouble or debate. 138 He was sorry to say, however, that a vast mass of business still remained to be transacted, there being a great number of Bills which the Government thought it necessary to proceed with. With regard to the majority of these, however, he hoped that there would not be found to exist any great difference of opinion. He would, however, go to the paper for Thursday. There was, first of all, the Poor Law Amendment Bill. It was the intention of the Government to proceed with that Bill. There were also two other Bills, of a most salutary nature, having reference to the Duchy of Cornwall, which it was most desirable should become law as soon as possible. These Bills he believed met with general approval, the object of them being to facilitate the settlement of long pending suits in the Duchy of Cornwall. With regard to the Metropolitan Buildings Bill, his noble Friend the First Commissioner of Woods and Forests proposed to proceed with that. On Wednesday there were two Bills under the charge of the Government, and with those also it was the wish and intention of Her Majesty's Government to proceed. These were the Bill for the regulation of Joint-Stock Companies, and the Joint-Stock Companies Remedies at Law and Equity Bill. Then, with regard to the business on the paper for the day—there was first the Registration of Electors (Ireland) Bill. He had already given notice that it was not the intention of the Government to proceed beyond the second reading of this Bill, as it would be quite impossible that it could pass into a law to become operative during the present year. There was next the Municipal Corporation (Ireland) Bill; he was surprised to hear that any objections was entertained to it, as the object of the Bill was to extend the provisions of the English Municipal Corporations Act to Ireland. But as it was so connected with the Registration of Voters Bill, that in the opinions of many persons connected with Ireland they should be both proceeded with simultaneously, he would not press the Municipal Corporations Bill during the present Session, though he regretted the necessity for delay. With respect to the Railways Bill, which was a very important measure, he was sorry to say that it was likely to meet considerable opposition from parties connected with existing railway companies. The Government felt, however, that it was 139 of importance, with regard to railway Bills now before the House, and those which would come before it next Session, that the intentions of Parliament should be known with respect to their future legislation on railways. With regard to the Savings Banks Bill and the Land Tax Commissioner Bill, his right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer would proceed with these Bills. With regard to the County Courts Bill, he would rather postpone making any final announcement upon it till this day week, by which time he expected that the opinion of the House of Lords would be made known with regard to two Bills now before them, particularly in regard to the subject of imprisonment for debt. The Superior Courts Common Law Bill and the Small Debts Bill were not Bills of which Her Majesty's Government had charge, but which the hon. and learned Member for Chester had under his care. The Chaplains to Hospitals (Ireland) Bill, and the Courts of Common Law Process (Ireland) Bill, were Bills under the charge of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the city of Cork, and which he, therefore, could not be responsible for. With regard to the Ecclesiastical Courts Bill, he had to announce on the part of Her Majesty's Government that it was not their intention to proceed with this Bill, as from the mass of business before the House, and the opposition which the Bill was likely to receive, seeing they had not yet passed the first Clause through Committee, it was not likely that they could pass it during the present Session. As had been announced by his right hon. Friend, it was the intention of Her Majesty's Government to proceed with the Unlawful Oaths (Ireland) Bill, and also with the Copyholds Enfranchisement Bill, which had come down from the Lords. The next five Bills on the list it was the intention of Her Majesty's Government to proceed with. The Customs Duties Bill it was intended to proceed with. With respect to the Bank of England Charter Bill, he hoped that the Report would be received to-morrow, and that no further opposition of any importance would be made to it. He must say that he was very sensible that no factious or vexatious opposition had been made to this Bill. It had been very fully discussed, and, from his experience of the manner in which the opposition to the Bill had been conducted, 140 he had every reason to hope the future stages of the Bill would be allowed to pass without opposition. Her Majesty's Government proposed to proceed with the Education Bill, the Linen Manufactures (Ireland) Bill, and the Charitable Loan Societies (Ireland) Bill. The Aliens Bill he believed was under the charge of the hon. Member for Hull. Her Majesty's Government proposed to proceed with the Protection of Purchasers (Ireland) Bill, and also with the Colonial Postage Bill. [An hon. Member: The New South Wales Bill.] That Bill was not included in the list for either of the three days he had taken up; but he could state that it was intended to proceed with it. The number of these Bills was large, but still he hoped that they were not likely to lead to any serious opposition. There was one Bill ready to be introduced which was of importance as a corollary to the Bank Charter Bill, and which it was the intention of Her Majesty's Government to proceed with—that was a Bill to establish new regulations for such Joint-stock Banks as might hereafter be established. It would not apply to existing companies, but would be merely prospective in its operation. There was also a Bill of considerable importance, which was not as yet under the consideration of the House, and which it was the intention of the Government to introduce, and that was a Bill founded on the Report of the Select Committee appointed to consider the manner in which the House exercised its jurisdiction with regard to contested elections. That Committee had consisted of Gentlemen who had been appointed on account of their extensive acquaintance with the subject, and in the Report it had suggested certain alterations in the existing law. Therefore, the principle of the Bill had already been for some time before the House. It was the intention of the Government to introduce a Bill founded on the recommendations of that Committee and his noble Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, who had been a Member of the Committee, would propose a Bill to carry the recommendations of the Committee into effect. He had now gone through the various Bills, and had stated the intentions of the Government with respect to each Bill. At the same time, he must reserve to himself the power of modifying the declaration which he had just made, according to the 141 progress which the respective Bills with which the Government was determined to proceed might make in the House.
§ Colonel Rawdon
would be glad to know the intentions of the Government with respect to the Presbyterian Marriages Bill.
§ Sir Robert Peel
said, it was the intention of the Government to persevere with the measure; which he thought would give entire satisfaction to the parties concerned; and he hoped another Session would not pass without that measure becoming the law of the land.
§ Mr. J. Bright
wished to know if the House was to understand that no Bill of any importance, other than those which had been mentioned to-night, would be introduced this Session? He recollected that last year a most important Bill, the Chelsea Pensioners Bill, had been introduced at the close of the Session when very few Members were in town.
§ Sir R. Peel
replied, that if he were to answer the question literally, he should answer that there were other Bills which were intended to be introduced—for instance, the Appropriation Bill—the introduction of which, he thought, would give general satisfaction, as indicative of the approach of the close of the Session; but if the hon. Gentleman asked if the Government contemplated the introduction of any other measure of public importance, he would reply that they did not. Yet still he would not pledge himself not to introduce any measure of importance if circumstances should arise to render it necessary.