§ MR. AGLIONBY
hoped that for the convenience, not only of the House, but of the public, some other plan would be adopted next Session; for the manner in which the business had been conducted for the last month was not at all satisfactory. There was no business for the first three or four months of the sitting—there was nothing but talk. There was a morning sitting at the time Members were attending to the duties which were imposed upon them in Committees. He was certain that for the last month a great number of valuable Members had been unable to attend on a single Bill in a morning. It was putting a dangerous power in the hands of Government to have the business carried on in the morning.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
Sir, the evil complained of by my hon. Friend arises, in a great measure, from the manner in which the business is conducted in this House. In the early period of the Session so many notices of Motion are given and discussed, and so many Amendments are moved on 1077 going into Committees of Supply, that the time of the House is nearly wholly occupied with them, and it is quite impossible to bring on Bills at a late hour. After Twelve o'clock a very natural objection arises to their consideration. The consequence is, that the Members of the Government, unless in the case of Bills of very great importance, such as the Corn Law or the Navigation Bill, are obliged to postpone the introduction of the Bills belonging to their departments, until a late period of the Session. I entirely agree with my hon. Friend, that it would be better that all Bills should have a full consideration; but had I not taken the course I did adopt—had I consented to a further postponement of our various measures, and not have asked the House to sit at Twelve o'clock, the House would have been sitting late into September, when we could not have expected a more numerous attendance of Members than we have usually had at the early sitting. It is an advantage, and it is so far satisfactory, that we shall not be sitting here in the mornings in August. True, in order to attain so desirable an end, I have been obliged to give up several Bills, some of them of considerable importance; for, although we might have been enabled to pass them by considerable majorities, still, it would not be with that full and satisfactory discussion to which they were entitled. I do not think we could have fairly pressed them at the end of the Session, when not only many Members of the House, but also many of the Members of the other House, were not in attendance; and more so, when I had been informed that many hon. Members were opposed to them. I can only say that, while we have done all in our power as a Government to bring on the business as early as possible, I believe the only and best recipe or specific for early legislation—for legislation at an early period of the Session—is for Members to content themselves with fewer Motions, and allow the Government of a large empire like ours more opportunities of proceeding with the real business of the country. I hope this House will not fulfil the prediction which an old lady made to Horace, that he would not die of poison, nor of fever, nor of gout, nor of many other diseases—(I forget the words of the original)—but that at last he would die of garrulity.
§ MR. DISRAELI
Sir, the noble Lord seems to plead guilty to the charge of his being the cause of the very unsatisfactory 1078 manner in which the business of the Session has been conducted; but at the same time, as he has done upon former occasions, he attempts to affix the greater share of the blame upon the House. Last Session I analysed the state of things which then existed, and then I showed clearly that the whole blame lay with the Government, and not with the House. I believe the accuracy of that statement has never been questioned. But, says the noble Lord, in consequence of the number of notices of Motion given and discussed in the beginning of the Session, and the number of Amendments moved on the Motion for going into Committee of Supply, the public business and the progress of legislation had been necessarily retarded. Now, Sir, I speak only from memory, but I believe I am correct in saying that we had no Committee of Supply moved during the first three months of the Session; and in no former Session have I seen such a general disposition to accelerate the public business—such a general desire to restrict the latitude of debate which the noble Lord seems so much to disapprove of. But the noble Lord must remember that this is a Parliament—that the business of the House is carried on by public discussion—and although it may be inconvenient to the Govermnent, or to any Government, to have discussion, unnecessary discussion it may be according to their ideas, yet I do not suppose that the House or the country would be satisfied with that which the noble Lord evidently wishes on every occasion to recommend. But, Sir, the noble Lord, speaking of this Session, has no case against the House, for during the whole of it he has received as much assistance from Members generally as they could possibly give him. Again I say, speaking only from memory, for I have not looked at the dates, that you had no Amendment moved because you had no Committee of Supply for the first three months of the Session. The fact is, Sir, Bills are not introduced early because they are not prepared—they are never thought of during the recess. If they will only carefully prepare their measures during the recess—if they will bring in some important measures early in the Session, I feel certain that the House will facilitate their progress as much as possible. The House will remember that I called attention to the state of public business on the 1st of July. Since that period the Government have introduced no less than twenty-two Bills, some of them 1079 of great importance, and at the same time they introduced systematically the morning sittings. We have sat day and night. I say if you have these morning sittings for the purpose of facilitating the business of the House, the Government are estopped from properly carrying on the business of their departments. Sir, I only rose to vindicate the House from what I believe to be the unjust accusations of the noble Lord—unjust always, but this Session particularly unmerited.
§ LORD J. RUSSELL
had not meant to cast any imputation on the House. On the contrary, he had said on more than one occasion the Government had been assisted by the manner in which the House had acted.
§ MR. ROEBUCK
suggested to the noble Lord, that he should bring in one Bill at a time, and carry it through steadily, and adhere to that measure, and finish it. Now, according to the present practice, at the end of every Session, there was what was called "the sacrifice of the innocents," when more than half the measures of the Government were thrown over-hoard, and all previous labours were rendered futile.
§ The CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
observed, that the hon. Member for Buckinghamshire was incorrect in stating that there was no Committee of Supply for the first three months of the Session. There was one at the end of February.
§ Motion agreed to.