§ The Chancellor of the Exchequer
then 961 moved the Order of the Day for the House resolving itself into Committee on the Customs' Duties Acts.
§ Sir Walter James
wished to ask his hon. Friend the Member for Somersetshire to be good enough to postpone the very important Notice that he had on the Paper for that evening, until after Easter. He begged to say that he made the request entirely on his responsibility, and at his own suggestion, and not having spoken one word to any Member of the Government on the subject. He certainly had asked the opinion of his hon. Friend the senior Member for the City of London. As there were four Members for London, it was rather difficult to distinguish them; but he had only mentioned the matter to his hon. Friend in consequence of the high character which he bore in that House. Of course he did not mean anything personal, but merely to allude to the excellence of the opinions of his hon. Friend on commercial subjects. His hon. Friend had assured him that if the settlement of the Tariff was postponed, it would prove most injurious to the commerce of the country, and would materially affect several branches of trade. After what fell from the right hon. Baronet the other night, he thought that nearly every one would be satisfied that the Motion of the hon. Member for Somersetshire could not have any immediate effect. If his hon. Friend wished to make a protest against the course pursued by the Government, he could do so equally well after Easter as at the present moment, although he (Sir W. James) would not say that he thought any such proceeding either prudent or politic; for 99 out of every 100 men who possessed common sense, must see that it could make no difference to the county Members whether they brought forward their Motion before or after Easter. Under these circumstances, he put the question to his hon. Friend in the most amicable spirit. He respected his hon. Friend's character and station as a county Member; but he thought if he brought forward his Motion at the present time, the country would be of opinion that on his hon. Friend and those who supported him alone rested the onus of delaying this important measure, and thus clogging the course of trade for a time, and so causing considerable national inconvenience.
§ Mr. Masterman
observed that as he was the old Gentleman to whom allusion had 962 been made, he had no hesitation in rising to confirm the statement of his hon. Friend, that the delay which would arise in the progress of this measure, from proceeding with the Motion of the hon. Member for Somerset at that moment, would be attended with great inconvenience to the commerce of the country. He, therefore, would join in pressing his hon. Friend not to proceed with his Motion on that occasion.
said, that in answer to the request made by his hon. Friends, he must observe that he hoped and trusted that the House would give him credit for always being anxious not to interfere with the progress of public business. He had considered it to be his duty not to pursue a course calculated to clog or embarrass the Government; but in that House at present it might be supposed that the agricultural interest never had an existence, and that there was nothing to be regarded but the mercantile and commercial interests. If he assented to the proposition of his hon. Friend the Member for Hull, he should be throwing away the interests of agriculture, and should be claiming that from the Government which, after the disposal of the Tariff, could not possibly be conceded.