§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ MR. HORSMAN
suggested to the Chancellor of the Exchequer the propriety of discharging the Order for the second reading. The House had come to a general understanding to proceed by Resolution on the subject of the future government of India. ["No, no!"] At any rate the Government had undertaken to propose Resolutions with the view of afterwards founding a Bill on those Resolutions. He believed no precedent could be cited for proceeding by Resolutions upon a Bill already before the House. If the House were to proceed by Resolutions, and then to found a new Bill thereon, that, as it appeared to him, would be a perfectly regular course; but the Chancellor of the Exchequer had probably consulted the authorities on the subject, and would be able to state how that was; but, in his opinion, the House would come to the consideration of those Resolutions less embarrassed than if a Bill on the same subject lay upon the table. He (Mr. Horsman) threw out the suggestion to the right hon. Gentleman whether it would not be worth while to simplify their course of procedure in this matter by discharging the Order for the Bill under consideration, and then to proceed upon the Resolutions and found a new Bill on them.
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
This appears to be rather a technical than a material suggestion. Speaking with great deference, so far as I am informed, it is perfectly consistent to introduce those Resolutions, and afterwards to 1349 modify or change any Bill that is introduced, in deference to the opinion of the House as expressed in those Resolutions. The right hon. Gentleman will recollect there are two Bills before us on this subject; and, if there were a general concurrence in the proposition to withdraw both Bills, the course he points out might be a convenient one; but it appears to me, upon the whole, although I am perfectly willing to consider the question, that the objection of the right hon. Gentleman is altogether technical; and unless there were a general concurrence in the withdrawal of both Bills for the government of India, so that the House might start afresh in the discussion of those Resolutions, it would be highly inconvenient to adopt the suggestion. I am informed that, in taking the course I propose to take this evening, I am acting in strict accordance with precedents. No doubt it would have been much more convenient if the Resolutions had preceded the introduction of the Bill; but that is not the position in which either myself or those who are interested in the other Bill find ourselves. What is best to do under these circumstances? We have agreed that on Monday we will enter on the discussion of those Resolutions, and I do not see that we shall at all facilitate the progress of public business by assenting to the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman. I think that, upon the whole, it would be better that both Bills should be suspended, and that the solemn decision of the House should be taken on the Resolutions as to the principle on which the future legislation for the government of India shall be based.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
NO doubt those who bring in a Bill are entitled, with the concurrence of the House, to postpone it to any other day from that which may have been fixed by the Orders. I only wish to say that, in concurring with the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman for postponing this Bill, I hope I shall not be understood as expressing an opinion one way or the other with regard to the suggestion of my right hon. Friend, who appears to assume that the House has agreed to proceed by Resolution. Now, that I conceive to be a question which the House will have to discuss on a future day, and I cannot accept the offer of the right hon. Gentleman that Bill No. I should be withdrawn, accompanied by Bill No. 2. Even though the Bill No. 2 be withdrawn, we have not proposed to alter our course and 1350 move Resolutions. Whatever, therefore may be the value of the argument of my right hon. Friend that Bill No. 2 should be withdrawn, because its authors mean to propose Resolutions, the authors of No. I not having altered their course the regular Parliamentary proceedings will continue.
§ MR. AYRTON
said, he could not conceive what had induced the right hon. Member for Stroud (Mr. Horsman) to suggest that there was any understanding on the part of the House to proceed by Resolution. Looking at the Resolutions on the table, and seeing that they wore different from the Bill of the Government, he would recommend, as the more convenient course, that the Government should withdraw their Bill.
§ Second Reading deferred till Friday.
§ House adjourned at half after Twelve o'clock