HC Deb 29 March 1860 vol 157 cc1579-83

Order for Consideration, as amended, read; Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill, as amended in the Committee, be now taken into consideration."


said, it was hardly fair at that hour (ten minutes to 1 o'clock) to ask him to proceed with his Amendment. The statement which he had to make might lead to a discussion. This was an important measure, and it had not been sufficiently debated in that House, for it was brought in without much discussion, and it had been so hurried through the House that only one Irish Member had had an opportunity of speaking upon it. He thought the right hon. Gentleman ought not to force the Bill on at that hour. He should move the adjournment of the House.


said, he was sorry to put the gallant Gentleman to any inconvenience, but he thought he bad done everything in his power to afford facilities for a discussion of the Bill. With that view he had proposed a morning sitting, and in the early part of the evening he had vainly sought permission to bring the measure under consideration. A great part of the evening had been spent in discussing unopposed Motions, and much time also in discussing Motions in which the hon. and gallant Gentleman, as an Irish Member, must feel an interest. It was quite a mistake to suppose that money bills of that kind were usually required to be brought on at 5 o'clock; on the contrary, it was extremely unusual to raise so many discussions upon them in their later stages. But this was not the last stage of the Bill; it would be read a third time next day (Friday) as the first order of the day, and perhaps the hon. and gallant Gentleman would make his statement on that occasion.


On the third reading I could propose no Amendment.


The hon. and gallant Gentleman will be perfectly free to move the re-committal of the Bill when I propose the third reading.


said, he thought the time had come when there should be some definite understanding as to what the House had to do before it separated, for they were getting into great embarrassment. He felt the difficulties in which the Chancellor of the Exchequer was placed. In the Budget most important changes in every department of finance were propounded, and the subsequent discussions had not been commensurate with the principles at stake. While recognizing the duty of the House to give the Chancellor of the Exchequer every assistance for a full discussion of his measures, in order, if ap- proved, that they might be passed at the earliest possible period, he could not help observing that the right hon. Gentleman's course of proceeding had been embarrassed by the kindly competition for public approbation which was being waged by him and the noble Lord the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, the one pressing forward measures relating to the finances of the country; the other, a Bill for a reform of its constitution. It was impossible the House could go on discussing those questions and others in the way they were now doing, passing in one day from serious drama to light farce and back again. It was desirable that the House should resume the discussion of what some called the unimportant question of the Reform Bill. He did not think it was unimportant, though the more it was discussed the less it seemed to be liked. But the noble Lord was not more fortunate than the late Government in that respect. He had produced a Bill which seemed rather to excite ridicule than serious discussion. Shortly after the India BH1 of the late Government was brought forward the noble Lord suggested that, instead of continuing a useless discussion of a measure which gave satisfaction to no one, the Government should withdraw it, and that the House should then proceed to deal with the subject by way of Resolution. If that was thought to be an excellent mode of framing a constitution for India, the House might proceed in the same way in framing one for England. He hoped hon. Gentlemen opposite would allow the Chancellor of the Exchequer to advance his Bill a stage pro formâ, on the condition that a day should be set apart for the discussion of the whole question.


said, he hoped to hear from the Government a distinct statement as to what was to be done that day (Friday). The right hon. the Chancellor of the Exchequer had just told them that the first business would be the income tax, and the noble Lord the Secretary for Foreign Affairs had previously stated that the first business would be the Reform Bill. It was desirable that they should know which version was correct.


said, he wished to know whether, on the third reading of the Bill, they would be permitted to move Amendments? ["No, no ! "] Then he begged to move the adjournment of the debate.


said, he did not see what the Chancellor of the Exchequer would gain by pressing on his Bill at that hour, if it was to be recommitted in the evening.


said, he would not agree to the recommittal.


said, the House now knew the nature of the proposal made to them. He thought, on the whole, it would be best to take a division at once on the Amendment of his hon. and gallant Friend (Colonel Dunne).


remarked that the Chancellor of the Exchequer said the hon. and gallant Gentleman might move the recommittal of the Bill; but he never said he would agree to it. The hon. and gallant Gentleman would have an equally good opportunity of taking the sense of the House on his Amendment that evening at 5 o'clock, if he consented to the proposal of his right hon. Friend, as he would have if he brought it on at that moment. Of course they were quite ready to take up the Amendment of the hon. and gallant Member at once, if he desired it.


said, he thought that, considering the concessions the House had already made in regard to this Bill, and also the growing feeling in the country that the possible decision on the Paper duty, and the alterations in the Army Estimates, might affect the question of the income tax, it was not right to press the Bill upon them then. He hoped that if Government did not give way, the House would divide on the Motion for adjournment.


said, his noble Friend (Lord John Manners) appeared to think he was so entirely blind to the duties of his office, that, after making a step forward that morning, he would be quite willing to take a step backward in the evening. All he said was, that the hon. and gallant Gentleman might test the feeling of the House as well on the Motion for rocommital as at that moment.


said, so much confusion had crept into the conduct of business in the House, that he hoped the Motion for Adjournment would be adhered to.


observed, he was surprised the noble Viscount at the head of the Government had sat down without answering the question addressed to him, whether they were that evening to go on first with the Income tax or the Reform Bill.


said, the Chancellor of the Exchequer had stated clearly that the income tax would be taken as the first Order of the Day that evening.


asked whether, after the Income tax was disposed of, they were to go on with the Reform Bill?


urged the noble Lord to postpone the Reform Bill.


said, unquestionably it was the intention of the Government to go on with the Reform Bill that night, if the other business should be disposed of in proper time to allow it.


said, he wished to know what the noble Viscount meant by proper time?


said, he wished to state that he only pressed this Bill as a matter of public convenience—


said, he rose to order. The right hon. Gentleman had already spoken on the question before the House.


said, it was not unusual to allow a Minister to explain under similar circumstances.

Debate adjourned till To-morrow.