HC Deb 25 June 1855 vol 139 cc75-8

; Sir, I rise to fulfil the promise which I made on Friday last, that I would to-day state, as far as I was able, the intentions of Her Majesty's Government with regard to the various Bills now in progress through the House. Their number is certainly very considerable, but any one who looks at them with a view to classification will see that a great proportion of those children whose fate is to be decided are the offspring of private members, and that the Bills in regard to which Government can claim the responsibility are a comparatively small proportion of the whole. It is, however, with the latter only that we can deal, for we do not presume to take upon ourselves to dispose of Bills brought in by private Members, and with regard to which, private Members being responsible, it is for them to judge how far they have a fair chance of being carried through the two Houses. Of Government measures there are thirty-three in different stages of progress, independent of Continuance Bills and Bills which have been sent down from the House of Lords. I should only occupy the time of the House unnecessarily by reading through a list of them. Some are measures of comparatively small interest, and cannot give rise to much discussion, and there are others of considerable importance which I think it will be essential to pass, whatever discussion may take place upon them. Among these I may mention the Bills relating to limited liability and partnership, those of my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Health with regard to the government of the metropolis, the removal of nuisances, and the preservation of the public health, and, of course the Bill which provides for transferring the property in the Ordnance lands from that Board, which has now ceased to exist, and vesting it in the Secretary for the War Department. These measures are essential, and we must of course endeavour to pass them. It would be better, perhaps, now to mention those which we think it would not be desirable to press on the attention of the House during the present Session. First, there is the Jurors and Juries (Ireland) Bill, which now stands for a second reading, but which my right hon. Friend the Secretary for Ireland thinks may stand over till another Session. On the same principle the Grand Jury Assessments (Ireland) Bill will not be pressed during the present Session. It is generally understood that all the Bills connected with the subject of education, which stand for a second reading, will, if the House should agree to read them a second time, be referred to a Select Committee, not with a view of being passed this Session, but of obtaining the opinion of the Committee with regard to their individual and aggregate merits. These Bills, including that of the right hon. Baronet (Sir J. Pakington) and that of the right hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. M. Gibson), would not, of course, be pressed further than a second reading, with a view of being referred to a Select Committee. Next comes the Testamentary Jurisdiction Bill. It is clearly understood, and it was stated by the Lord Chancellor in the other House, that this Bill should be coupled with a Bill for the Amendment of Church discipline. Various circumstances have hitherto prevented the Government from presenting to Parliament a sufficiently satisfactory Bill upon the latter subject; and, at this advanced period of the Session it is hopeless to suppose that the two Bills would receive sufficient discussion to justify their being passed into law. We therefore do not mean to press the Testamentary Jurisdiction Bill. Then there is the Court of Session (Scotland) Bill, which, although it has reached a very advanced stage, we know has given rise to very considerable differences of opinion, and, in deference to those differences of opinion, it is our intention not to press this Bill in the present Session. So much for the Government Bills in different stages of progress. The Continuance Bills mostly relate to matters of temporary importance; but there is one for the continuation of Metropolitan Commissions of Sewers, which of course, would drop if the Bill of my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Health should pass, as I hope it will, for the present Commission of Sewers would then be superseded, and the Continuance Bill be rendered unnecessary. Then there are seven Bills from the House of Lords, which I hope the House will seriously consider and dispose of. These Bills, therefore, we shall not withdraw. Then there are thirty-five Bills of private Members, among which, however, is one which, although brought in by a private Member, the Government have undertaken to support—that is, the Landlord and Tenant (Ireland) Bill. That Bill is, I hope, in such a condition that the House will be disposed to pass it with such Amendments and improvements as may be suggested. That, so far as I can at present state, is the view which Her Majesty's Government take of the business before the House. I hope there is yet sufficient time this Session to carry into law those Bills which I have mentioned. At the same time I must say that at this period of the Session, and considering the importance of the Government measures under consideration, it is utterly impossible to yield to the applications which are sometimes made by private Members to the Government to give up Government days for the purpose of considering their Bills; and, therefore, those Gentlemen who have Bills before the House must take their chance and proceed with their Bills in the ordinary course.


said, that when he made an inquiry of the noble Lord on this subject, the noble Lord conveyed in his answer that he had made an unnecessary request for this information, and that the House were indebted to the labours of private Members for the pressure of business. The noble Lord had repeated the statement to-night, that the Orders of the Day and the Bills in progress were chiefly those of private Members, to whom were to be attributed so many calls upon the labours and exertions of the House. But he did not find that the noble Lord was justified either in the tone he had adopted the other night, or in the observations he had just made. Of Bills not yet read a second time there were twenty-eight Government Bills and seventeen Bills of private Members; of Bills in Committee there were twenty-two Government Bills and twelve Bills of private Members; of Bills, as amended, to be considered, there were four Bills of private Members, and no Government Bills; of Bills not yet read a second time there were three on each side. There were, therefore, fifty-three Government Bills upon the paper, while there were only thirty-six Bills of private Members, making in all eighty-nine Bills for the House to discuss. Since he had called attention to this subject there were more Orders of the Day put down, so that, instead of seventy-six, there were now eighty-nine to which must be added the two adjourned debates now upon the paper. If the noble Lord deducted the Continuance Bills, that would not give a majority to the labours of private Members. He should like to know whether the Government intended to proceed with the Roman Catholic Chapels Bill? [Viscount PALMERSTON: "That is a Lord's Bill."] The noble Lord would of course proceed with all the other Government Bills in Committee, of which there were twenty-two. The noble Lord had given up one of the Bills now fixed for a third reading, but as time was so precious, it was to be regretted that this Bill had been proceeded with. He merely rose to show that, when there were seventy-six Orders of the Day, he had made no unreasonable appeal to the Government to say how they intended to deal with them.


said, he meant to take the sense of the House on his Motion, which was on the paper, that the debate on the second reading of the Education (No. 2) Bill be further adjourned until that day three months.


said, the noble Lord said he would not give a Government day to any private Member. Did he intend to give a Government day to the Education Bill of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Droitwich (Sir J. Pakington), that being the Bill of a private Member? He (Lord R. Cecil) protested against a subject of that importance being referred to a Select Committee.


said, that seeing the strong feeling which existed on the subject, he thought that it would be best to withdraw the Bills.


said, the noble Lord (Lord R. Cecil) had asked whether a Government day would be given to the Education Bills. The noble Lord forgot that one of those measures on which the others depended, was first introduced by his (Lord Palmerston's) noble Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies.