§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
Perhaps, Sir, the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer will allow me to ask him on this occasion whether he has yet made up his mind as to the day on which he proposes to make a statement as to the position of Foreign Affairs. He promised that either to day or to-morrow he would mention the precise time when he should be ready to do so. I may, perhaps, also take the liberty of asking if the Government have seen their way more clearly as to the precise time at which the dissolution of Parliament will take place, and whether prorogation and the dissolution will take place on the same day, or whether the dissolution will take place the day after the prorogation, and if not, whether a considerable interval, and what interval, will be suffered to elapse between the prorogation and the dissolution?
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
I propose to make a statement respecting the position of Foreign Affairs on Friday, as I think it will be most convenient that that day should be fixed for the discussion. With respect to the dissolution, and that "considerable period" which the noble Lord seems to apprehend that I said should take place, I beg to say 1610 that there never was any intention that a "considerable period" should take place between the prorogation and the dissolution. I anticipate that the prorogation may take place upon the Tuesday in next week; the dissolution certainly will not take place the same night, but as soon afterwards as we think consistent with that decorum which should be observed with regard to the period at which the prorogation will take place.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
I rise in consequence of the enigmatical answer of the right hon. Gentleman. For the convenience of hon. Members on both sides of the House, I must ask the right hon. Gentleman to be more explicit, and to state whether, assuming that the prorogation should take place on the Tuesday, it is the intention of the Government to advise that the dissolution should take place before Good Friday, to which day, no doubt, the right hon. Gentleman's allusion to decorum has reference. No person of course could wish the dissolution to take place on Good Friday, but I would wish to know whether there is any reason why it should not take place before that day, say on Wednesday or Thursday.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
I must say, in explanation, that the right hon. Gentleman is labouring under a misconception in supposing that there is any wish on the part of the Government for the dissolution not to take place as soon as possible. As far as I can form an opinion from the accounts which reach us as to the results of the coming dissolution, I see no cause for that rabid heat which animates the right hon. Gentleman. ["Oh, oh?"] I think it was a proper observation. I must decline doing that which no person in my position has been called on to do—to fix the very day on which the dissolution should take place; but it will take place as soon as seems proper after the prorogation, and probably, as we are at present advised, in the course of Passion Week. No one in my position has been called on to name the day in such a case, and I think no person holding my position ought to take upon himself the responsibility of mentioning the precise day. There is no wish, however, on the part of the Government to delay the dissolution beyond the times which on the whole they recognize as a proper interval after the prorogation.
§ Resolutions agreed to.