§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ MR. PHINN
said, as he had taken a part in the discussions on measures of this description and akin to it, he wished, at the earliest opportunity, to ask the hon. and learned Gentleman what he considered the principle and what the details of his Bill. He approved of some of the objects, but not of the machinery of the Bill, and unless he could clearly ascertain that in voting for the second reading of the Bill he should not commit himself to the machinery by which it was proposed to carry out the object of it, he should be reluctantly obliged to vote against it. Last year considerable discussion was had on the subject of nunneries, and it appeared to be agreed that the object all ought to look to was to protect the inmates of convents and nunneries, first, with regard to their personal 471 liberty, and, secondly, with regard to the disposal of their property. He confessed his opinion in respect to the first part of the subject was very much modified by what transpired in the course of the debates; and he certainly thought, with regard to an undue control being exercised over persons in convents, an exaggerated case had been presented to the House; but, as respected the necessity of some measure for the protection of the property of those persons, he did not think that the case was exaggerated at all. Instances were introduced in the courts of law of undue control having been exercised in regard to the disposal of the property of professed nuns. However pure and proper their spiritual instructions might have been in the main, yet it did appear that those institutions afforded great opportunities to evil-disposed persons for obtaining undue advantage over persons inmates of those institutions with regard to their property. He thought, therefore, it would be very desirable, and would be the means of obviating some very acrimonious and rancorous discussions in that House, if a fair measure could be enacted with regard to the property of those persons. It appeared to him, as exceptional legislation was always offensive, that they might treat these persons very much in the same way as married women were dealt with who were supposed to be under the control and influence of their husbands. The safeguards that he would suggest were, that no alienation of property should be allowed to be made by a woman who had taken a religious vow without those precautions being taken that were placed around a married woman. No deed or disposition of any property should be executed within the walls of the convent; and the person should leave the convent and appear before some high functionary, such as a Judge, and be examined as to whether the disposal of her property was by her own free will. He had been told, in private, that if such a measure were proposed in a manner not calculated to wound the feelings or offend the opinions of the persons who would be so examined, very little opposition would be offered to it. When he formerly made this proposal to the House, he believed he had the concurrence of the hon. and learned Member for Enniskillen (Mr. Whiteside). He (Mr. Phinn) still adhered to the suggestion, with this addition to it, that every disposition made by these persons should be revocable during 472 their lives. Looking at the Bill before the House, it struck him that it went a great deal too far. The effect of it was this—it put the onus on parties who had property to prove a negative. Now, he did not think it was necessary to have any such provision in the Bill. It was a reversal not only of the ordinary course of justice, but of all the rules of natural justice and equity. It might be said, that it was very difficult to detect these things; but the very fact of a person being in a convent, and the notoriety that she was liable to those religious impressions and influences, were part of the elements upon which a Judge founded his ultimate decision. This plan of attaining the salutary object which he believed the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Whiteside) had in view, he considered, was preferable to the machinery of the present Bill. The preamble of the measure was very obnoxious to the feelings of Roman Catholics. Again, its enactments provided that any act, deed, or contract executed, or entered into, or performed by a nun, should be deemed and taken to have been done under the coercion of her vows, and at the dictation of those who claimed authority over her as her spiritual directors, and against her own free will and judgment, unless proved to the contrary in a court of law. This, he thought, was a most objectionable proposition, and would amount, in fact, to saying that no woman should transfer anything to a convent. If that was the object of the hon. and learned Gentleman, let it be openly avowed. Was this first clause the essence of the Bill? Was it the principle of the Bill? Or, did the hon. and learned Gentleman mean, if the House should agree to the second reading of the Bill, to take it only as an expression of a desire on their part that some provision should be made with reference to these persons? He could wish that they could all agree upon some measure which would allay the irritation existing out of doors upon this subject. Could that be accomplished, it would go far to prevent the necessity of the hon. and learned Member for Hertford (Mr. T. Chambers) proceeding with the appointment of his Committee, and would put a stop to a discussion which he confessed had been carried on in such a spirit as almost to make him come to a determination that he would never more take part in any discussion in that House.
§ MR. FAGAN
said, he objected entirely to the hon. and learned Gentleman pro- 473 ceeding with his Bill at present, because on its first reading a distinct understanding was entered into with the noble Lord the Secretary of State for the Home Department and with the hon. and learned Attorney General that the Bill would not be carried further than the first reading until the Committee on Conventual Establishments had reported. The hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Whiteside) had rested his proposition almost exclusively upon the celebrated case of the Blackrock Convent, and as the Misses M'Carthy were near relatives of his, he (Mr. Fagan) had paid considerable attention to the circumstances of that case, and would be able to show that the hon. and learned Gentleman was wholly in error in asserting that the deeds executed by these ladies had been executed by them at the dictation and importunity of their spiritual superiors, and in contravention of their own feelings and wishes. He hoped the House would forgive him if he felt it necessary to read some documents bearing on this case, which had been so often referred to, and which had been made the means of creating unjust impressions with regard to these communities. He had received a letter from Miss Catherine M'Carthy, his cousin, who was one of the ladies interested in the case he had referred to. It stated—As I have heard through a friend that our unfortunate lawsuit has again been brought forward to assist the prejudices of others, I beg of you to make use of this communication as a denial that at any time I have led others to suppose that the deed of assignment made by me, or my sister, was executed under the coercion of superiors, or through any intimidation whatsoever, but solely from the dictates of my conscience. It never was impugned by me. You may remember a conversation which I had with you after the decree of the Lord Chancellor, which partook of the same sentiments as above; by reference to my sworn evidence in the cross bill, you will find a clear statement of the case. I had written to John (my brother) at his marriage, assuring him that it was my wish that he would pay the money to the community, whom I consider entitled by law to it under the deed of trust, which, I again repeat, I was not influenced by my superiors, or any one else, in signing; the same I can assert on the behalf of Maria. As I have heard that you are on the Committee, I hope that by showing this note to the Gentlemen you may remove the slander from their minds, and obtain justice to be done to our convent, which has been so much maligned. I have been deeply pained by the manner we have been spoken of, and I am aware of your sympathy, for which may God reward you. The superiors do not know anything of my writing this note, therefore you may rely on its being my own sentiments.The affidavits alluded to in the letter were 474 not heard at the trial before the Lord Chancellor, the other side having objected to their reception on technical grounds, which they were legally entitled to do. Thus, the evidence which had been quoted by the hon. and learned Member in introducing this Bill had never been enabled to be contradicted. Then, again, there was the affidavit of Miss Catherine M'Carthy, in which she swore that she executed the deed of the 13th of March, 1844, of her own free will, and that the defendants never intimated to her that she would violate the vows if she refused to execute it. Now the hon. and learned Gentleman had said that the deed had been executed by the ladies under their vow of obedience to their superiors; but that was a total error. The vow of obedience had nothing to do with their property; it was under the vow of poverty that they gave their property to the community. In the affidavit of Miss Maria M'Carthy, which was to the same effect as that of her sister, she stated that the assertion of the bill filed by the plaintiff, that the deponent was not allowed to assign her share of the assets of her deceased father to her brother was untrue; that it was her own desire to assign it to the glory of God, and that she had executed the deed of the 29th of March, 1843, expressly for the benefit of the convent, free from all attempts at undue influence. He (Mr. Fagan) therefore believed that, if the whole of these documents had been admitted in evidence before the Lord Chancellor, the judgment upon the merits of the case would have been entirely different.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
said that he had two objections to offer to the second reading of this Bill. In the first place, undoubtedly there was an understanding that the Bill might be brought in and read a first time, but that its further progress should be suspended till the House had decided on the question of the appointment of the Select Committee on Conventual Establishments. It was felt that the House might decide one way or the other—either for or against the Committee—but the distinct understanding was that the Bill should be postponed till some step was taken with regard to the selection of the Committee. On that ground, therefore, he thought the hon. and learned Gentleman ought not to press the second reading at this time. But, he must own, that the Bill itself appeared to him objectionable. Everybody must admit that its preamble was a preamble that ought not to stand; 475 it was full of assertions which might be well or ill founded, but they were not necessary for the enactment that was to follow, and they were calculated to give offence to Roman Catholics, which that House ought to be desirous of avoiding. The preamble, therefore, he thought on that account ought to be struck out. Well, then, he considered that the enactment was objectionable too. it was either too much or too little, and did not provide the means of accomplishing the object which the hon. and learned Gentleman apparently had in view. He (Lord Palmerston) could quite understand a proposition that nuns should be considered (as was the case in some Catholic countries) as civilly dead, and therefore incapable of leaving property to anybody after taking their vows. That was an intelligible ground—some thought it right, and others thought it wrong; but it would accomplish its purpose, and be simple in its execution. Now, this Bill went to provide that an assignment on the part of a nun should be invalid unless it was proved that it was made with her own free will and consent. The very arguments of those who supported this Bill showed that this enactment would be a nullity, because the assumption made was that there was a moral power and influence exerted over the will and the voluntary efforts of mind of those nuns, which they were unable to resist, and that they were compelled by a moral coercion to transfer the property they had to the convents. But, as he (Lord Palmerston) had said when this Bill was first brought in, if the nun, acting under this moral coercion, desired to transfer her property, it would be impossible for anybody to prove afterwards that the deed was not executed of her own will. The very assumption that a nun believed her welfare in a future state to depend on her executing such a deed—the very assumption that that belief was impressed on her mind as the consequence of taking the vow of poverty—showed that, in ninety nine cases out of a hundred, the provision in this Bill would be a mere nullity. He therefore objected to the second reading of this Bill, because it was contrary to the understanding that it should not be proceeded with; next, because the preamble ought not to stand; and, lastly, because the enactment would not accomplish the object its author had in view.
§ MR. WHITESIDE
said, he could not refrain from expressing his surprise at the course taken by the Government on this 476 occasion. He had certainly understood the noble Lord to say, when the Bill was introduced, that, having taken the advice of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General, he was favourable to the principle of it. But the noble Lord took this objection to the Bill—and his speech was on record—that the Bill did not go far enough, and that it did not render absolutely void any will executed within the walls of a convent. [Lord PALMERSTON: Hear!] Just so. He understood the noble Lord then, and he thought he understood him now. If the Government intended to oppose the Bill, let the opposition be of an open and manly character, and let the House come to a decision on the question at once. The noble Lord must have spoken under misapprehension when he referred to some understanding which he supposed to have existed, to the effect that this Bill was not to be proceeded with until the House had appointed the Conventual Establishments Committee. To such an understanding he had been no party; and it was a mere mockery for the noble Lord to make the progress of the present Bill dependent on a Committee which, according to present appearances, would never be appointed. He found that the hon. and learned Member for Dundalk (Mr. Bowyer) had given notice of his intention to oppose the nomination of that Committee, and it was an intention which very likely would be fulfilled. In fact, the hon. and learned Member had announced his determination to oppose the nomination of every Member for that Committee. It was a perfect mockery, therefore, to say the least of it, for the noble Lord to hand him over to the appointment of a Committee which, in all human probability, never would be appointed. He was perfectly ready to refer the Bill to any Committee of impartial and unprejudiced men. With all his respect for the noble Lord, he must say that he had utterly failed in his argument against the Bill. Neither had the noble Lord correctly stated the principle of the law. First, the noble Lord said that the preamble of the Bill ought to be disposed of. That certainly was disposing of it very readily. Had the noble Lord proved the preamble to be untrue, or ill-founded? He was not bound by the words of the preamble; and if in Committee it could be shown that it was not sustained by facts, he would consent to its being rejected. But was it the real objection of the noble Lord that the language of the preamble 477 was objectionable? Had the noble Lord not resorted, for the purpose of defeating the Bill, to arguments which had been used against every Bill on the same subject? The noble Lord said that the Bill was all wrong in principle. In deference to certain Roman Catholic Members he wished to explain why he had attempted to frame the Bill in the mode in which it stood. When the subject of conventual establishments was first introduced, a good deal of excitement existed, and several members of his own profession, and also several lay members of the Roman Catholic persuasion, had said, if he could frame a Bill which would keep clear of visitation and intrusion into convents, and of everything offensive to them, but which, at the same time, dealt with property, that he should be considered as at perfect liberty to introduce such a measure to the House with the assurance of their support. Upon these occasions, he must frankly admit, his attention was directed to the analogy of married women. The noble Lord objected to the machinery of the Bill, but had not condescended to offer any argument in support of his objection. It was all wrong, the noble Lord said; but still he did not venture to assign reasons for his opinion. What was meant by such a course it was impossible for him to divine. There was no provision in the Bill calculated to give offence to Roman Catholics; all it did was to guard against the exercise of undue influence in the disposition of property. If a nun should bequeath any property—say 10,000l.—to a convent, the Bill gave the relatives of that lady—themselves Roman Catholics, remember—power to determine whether undue influence had been exercised upon the lady in regard to the testamentary act. Was there anything unjust in that? Let the people of England be appealed to, to declare whether there was anything harsh, oppressive, or insulting in saying that the Roman Catholic lay members of every nun's family should be the persons to decide whether their relative's will should stand or not? What chance would there be of ever getting any Bill on the subject if this moderate proposition should be rejected? Unless he greatly mistook the feeling of the people of England and Scotland, and of the whole empire, he thought Roman Catholic Members would act wisely in allowing this Bill to pass. It was framed with the fair and honest intention of preventing the alienation of property from Roman Catholic fa- 478 milies to conventual establishments, of which several instances had been brought under the notice of our courts of law. In addition to the cases which he referred to on a former occasion, he might notice another which he was then aware of. Mrs. Blake, a lady of high character, had published a pamphlet respecting the case of her sister, who was in a convent. In an interview with her sister, Mrs. Blake said, "Surely, you will not dispute your brother's will?" The reply was, "I cannot help it; if I do not I cannot stay in this house, and would scarcely be received in any other." Under such circumstances, could it be said that these ladies exercised their free will? Could this be called a free disposition of property? The Bill was founded on the principle of law, that a deed executed under undue influence must be set aside, because the law of England abhorred undue influence. In all the legitimate relations of life—by which he meant relations acknowledged by the law—such as parent and child, husband and wife, master and servant, trustee and cestuique trust, attorney and client, in the event of the weaker party executing a deed in favour of the stronger they required satisfactory proof that the transaction was fair and honest. You protect the child against the parent, the wife against the husband; will you not protect a helpless woman against the influence which can be brought to bear upon her in a nunnery? In the M'Carthy case, where the poor lady hesitated to sign the deed and was as a dead woman, so that it was necessary to place the pen in her hand, the bishop, standing near, uttered the words, "Madam, remember your vow!" Under such circumstances, was it not evident that the lady was prevented from exercising her free will? If the noble Lord should succeed in throwing out the Bill upon the second reading, that was an event which he had the satisfaction of knowing he could not control. But, be that as it might, he must say he much preferred submitting the Bill to the decision of that House, and to the still more important decision of the country, than to consent to the mockery of sending it up for the consideration of a Committee which might never be appointed.
said, he had listened upon several occasions to the speeches of the hon. and learned Gentleman who had just resumed his seat upon subjects similar to that which they were then employed in discussing, and he must say that the hon. 479 and learned Gentleman had not, by the observations which had just fallen from him, thrown any new light upon the question under their notice. In making those observations, the hon. and learned Member had, to a considerable extent, misrepresented the arguments to which the noble Lord the Secretary for the Home Department had given expression. The hon. and learned Gentleman had stated that the noble Lord had designated the assertions which were in the preamble of his Bill as untrue. Such, however, had not been the case. The noble Lord had merely stated that those allegations, whether true or not, were simply unnecessary for the promotion of the objects which the framer of the Bill professed to have in view, and were of a nature which was well calculated to give offence to the feelings of Roman Catholics both within that House and throughout the country. The hon. and learned Gentleman had also been guilty of another misrepresentation. He had stated that the noble Lord had, upon a former occasion, complained of the Bill as being one which did not go far enough, while the course which the noble Lord had in the present instance pursued had been highly inconsistent with that statement. Such, however, had not been the sentiments with reference to the Bill which the noble Lord had, upon the occasion to which the hon. and learned Gentlemen referred, given expression. The noble Lord had then merely observed, that the Bill did not propose to go far enough upon the principles—the hon. and learned Gentleman's own principles and his views in framing that measure being taken into consideration. Now what was it that the hon. and learned Gentleman proposed by his Bill to effect? He would ask the right hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Napier) whether the first clause in that Bill did not go so far as to make void a deed devising the property of a nun to any member of her family—her father, her sister, or her brother, or even a convent—unless she should prove to the satisfaction of a court of law that such deed had not been executed under the pressure of undue influence? If that were so, it would prove that the Bill had not been framed with all the accuracy in the world. The Bill made no provision against the exercise of undue influence by a medical man. There was a trial now going on, not far from the metropolis, which showed that a medical man could exercise important influence over a patient. In ad- 480 dition to the other arguments which he thought it right to put forward against the second reading of the Bill, was that which was founded upon the concurrence of the hon. and learned Gentleman in the proposition that the measure should not be pressed forward a single stage until the Committee to be nominated for the purpose of inquiring into the internal arrangements of conventual establishments had been appointed. Now, that Committee had not yet been nominated; but to-morrow the selection of Members to serve upon that Committee was to take place. Under these circumstances, he thought the hon. and learned Gentleman must be aware of some insuperable obstacle to the nomination of the Committee in question, when he observed that he was fairly entitled to assume that it would never be appointed. If the hon. and learned Gentleman knew that there was some insuperable obstacle to the appointment of the Committee, which he said could never be appointed, why had he and those who acted with him wasted the time of the House with vexatious debates upon that question? The hon. and learned Gentleman must not be disappointed if he was occasionally opposed in a manner less bland and courteous than that which the right hon. and learned Member for the Dublin University (Mr. Napier) had at his command; but if he made assertions which could not be borne out, he must be met by reminiscences, which, though they might be unpleasing to him—[Mr. WHITESIDE: Not in the least]—would convince the House that he had not correctly stated the facts of the case. The hon. and learned Gentleman said, that if he could frame a Bill which would not be offensive to the feelings of the Roman Catholic Gentlemen, some of them had promised to assist him in passing it into a law, but he must certainly acquit him of all appreciation of what was offensive to the feelings of his fellow countrymen, if, after he had read the preamble of this Bill, he could hope to leave an impression upon the mind of the House that he had complied with that requisition, and had introduced a Bill free from offence to the Roman Catholic part of the population.
§ MR. NAPIER
said, as he had been referred to by the hon. and learned Member who last addressed the House, he would trouble them with a few observations with regard to the principle of the Bill, without occupying its time with acrimonious personalities. The hon. and learned Gentle- 481 man had asked whether the effect of the first clause of the Bill would not be to nullify a gift from a nun to a brother or any other near relation; but a gift from a nun to her brother would be contrary to her vow of poverty, and that was the very thing of which he complained. It was clearly established in the Macarthy case that a nun had not the power of making a gift to a younger brother in consequence of the constraint of her vow. He was decidedly of opinion that those vows of poverty and obedience were contrary to the spirit of the constitution and to the English law. Before the Reformation the persons who took them were by the common law held to be civilly dead—mere ciphers in society—but the principle of our law now was, that every one was a unit in society, and yet it was said that a relation between two persons which had the effect of producing the civil death of one of them ought not to be treated in the same manner as a relation like that which existed between attorney and client. The preamble of the Bill was complained of as offensive, and, of course, everything must be offensive in a degree which conflicted with the religious sentiments of any party; but if the manner was not offensive—if the language employed was becoming and proper—it would be evident that insult was not intended. The point was whether or not the preamble was true? The other night the Government had introduced a Bill in order to prevent undue influence being exercised over voters at elections, but was it not the duty of the law to enable parties to dispose of their property as well as to give their votes freely? Did any one in that House believe that when a nun had taken the vows of obedience and poverty, which could not be dispensed with even by a Roman Catholic bishop without the sanction of the authorities at Rome, she was able to act of her own free will? The proposition was a monstrous one, inconsistent with reason and justice. He thought the preamble was necessary, because when the relation of a nun in all its incidents was referred to, we must go to the records of Courts of Justice to find what cases had arisen, in order to lay a foundation upon which to proceed. He believed that every portion of the preamble was strictly true, and he was of opinion that, according to all just analogy and right reason, this Bill did not go far enough, but that, as far as it went, it remedied a great evil.
§ MR. R. PHILLIMORE
said, that the 482 speech of the right hon. and learned Gentleman proved the truth of the statement of the noble Lord (Viscount Palmerston)—that the hon. and learned Member for Enniskillen (Mr. Whiteside) did not by this Bill carry out his own proposition. In his opinion the Bill did not go far enough, and he did not believe that the question would ever be set at rest until the Legislature had made up its mind to recognise de jure that which already existed de facto—namely, the existence of conventual institutions in this country—and had then revived the wise law which treated those who went into them as civilly dead. His objection to the Bill, however, went still further. It dealt with a particular class of cases in which undue influence could be exercised; but it left untouched an important class which ought also to be made the subject of legislation, for the influence which medical men exercised over their patients upon death-beds called more loudly for the interference of the House than any case which had ever been proved against a Roman Catholic priest. In proof of this he would state a case in which he had been engaged as counsel. A lady who had a large property at her private disposal being afflicted with a dreadful kind of disease, her husband sent for a medical gentleman, who attended her for six months, at the end of which she died, and soon afterwards her husband learnt, for the first time, that she had left the whole of her property to that medical gentleman. The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, before whom the case was argued, expressed their regret that, as two witnesses had sworn to the lady's sanity, they could not set aside the will, although they spoke in no moderate terms of the manner in which it had been acquired. He should wish legislation on this important subject to be undertaken in the spirit of the French code, which rendered it impossible for any woman to leave to a medical man or to a priest any property, except under certain restrictions; and the same restrictions ought to apply to the Presbyterian as well as to the Roman Catholic priest. This Bill most invidiously pointed to undue influences of a class which, he believed, were very rarely exercised, while it left untouched those of another class which be knew, from his own experience, were constantly exercised. Another objection that he felt to this Bill was, that if the Committee which had been referred to was to sit, its chief, if not its only duty, 483 would be to inquire into the whole state of the law on this subject, and, looking to the immense importance of the measure, both as it affected a direct recognition of the existence of nunneries in this country, and as it affected our testamentary jurisprudence, it ought, if it were passed at all, to be based upon larger and broader principles, and not to be assented to until the opinion of the law officers of the Crown had been distinctly expressed upon it, and it had been considered by the House with proper deliberation.
§ MR. MALINS
said, that the sentiments of the noble Lord the Home Secretary seemed to have undergone a considerable alteration with reference to the principle of the Bill which they were then employed in discussing. The noble Lord had upon a former occasion expressed himself as being favourable to that Bill, and yet he had stated, in the course of the observations which he had made but a short time previously, that to its principle he was altogether opposed. He (Mr. Malins) had always been of opinion that the noble Lord was one for whose support they might look with confidence in their endeavours to keep the power of clergymen of all religious denominations within due bounds. But it might be that the noble Lord, and the difficulties with which the course of the Government was at present surrounded, was unwilling to lose the support of those Members of the Roman Catholic Church who sat upon the other side of the House, by taking any step which would be at all calculated to give them offence. That was, perhaps, the consideration which weighed with the noble Lord in taking the course which he had that evening taken with reference to the Bill of the hon. and learned Member for Enniskillen; and if so, it was obvious that upon the co-operation or support of the noble Lord in resisting clerical aggression, they could no longer place much reliance. One of the noble Lord's objections to the Bill was that it did not, in his opinion, go far enough. But was the noble Lord, he would ask, prepared to lend his aid in passing into law a measure of a more extensive character? If he would but give them an assurance to that effect he thought that the objection of the noble Lord to the measure before them was one which could very easily be removed. Now, what in reality was the principle of the Bill which the noble Lord had not hesitated to condemn? It was a principle founded upon the laws of the country, 484 which stated that in those cases in which the disposition of property was proved to have taken place under the pressure of undue influence the instrument by which such disposition was made should not be looked upon as valid. The hon. and learned Member for Tavistock (Mr. R. Phillimore) seemed to misapprehend the principle of the present Bill. He had cited a case where a physician obtained a legacy from a patient. He did not know how these cases were settled in Doctors' Commons, but there was a case where a gentleman had agreed to give a surgeon 25,000l. as a remuneration for his services. This sum was a trifle to the gentleman's large fortune, but it was decided by Vice-Chancellor Sir Lancelot Shadwell, and the judgment was afterwards confirmed by Lord Cottenham, that it must be set aside as obtained under undue influence. In fact, the principle laid down by Lord Eldon was adhered to, that where a gift was made to a party who stood in a confidential relation to the giver, then the burden lay upon the receiver to prove that the gift was the free and deliberate act of the party, or else it was set aside. This was the principle that was sought to be adopted in this Bill.
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, he must inform the hon. Member that, according to a standing order of the House, which had been framed during the present Session, no debate upon a question under their consideration could be proceeded with beyond a quarter to six, but should stand adjourned to another day.
§ Debate adjourned till To-morrow.
§ The House adjourned at ten minutes before Six o' Clock.