HC Deb 02 April 1868 vol 191 cc706-8

desired some information from the Foreign Secretary touching the issue to be submitted to the House, he believed, before its adjournment. In common, he presumed, with other supporters of the Government, he had that morning received through the usual channel a request to attend in his place; but the request was accompanied by a printed paper which he believed he might read without committing a breach of confidence, as it had been already published. It ran as follows:— That there may be no misunderstanding, it is greatly desired that Members will bear in mind that the first division will be taken not on Lord Stanley's Amendment, but directly either to affirm or negative Mr. Gladstone's Motion to go into Committee. That document had puzzled him (Mr. Yorke) a great deal. His first impression was that the noble Lord the Foreign Secretary had withdrawn his Amendment; but on looking at the Orders of the Day he found the Question to be debated set forth in the following terms:— Motion made, and Question proposed, 'That this House will immediately resolve itself into a a Committee to consider the said Acts':—(Mr. Gladstone.)—Amendment proposed, to leave out from the word 'House' to the end of the Question, in order to add the words 'while admitting that considerable modifications in the temporalities of the United Church in Ireland may, after the pending inquiry, appear to be expedient, is of opinion that any proposition tending to the disestablishment or disendowment of that Church ought to be reserved for the decision of a new Parliament'—(Lord Stanley), instead thereof:—Question proposed, 'That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question.' It was obvious that if the Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question," were decided in the affirmative, the noble Lord would be precluded from putting his Amendment; and therefore it might be true in the letter, that the noble Lord's Amendment was not involved in the Question to be submitted to the House, but virtually his Amendment was precluded from being submitted to the House in case the Question first submitted was decided in the affirmative. If it were decided in the negative, then the Amendment would be put; but he did not see in what sense it could be said that the division would be taken on the Main Question, when, if it were decided in the affirmative, the noble Lord's Amendment would be precluded from being put. He therefore begged to ask the noble Lord whether it was his intention to withdraw the Amendment; and, if not, in what sense the House was to understand the Notice that had been circulated among the Government supporters that morning.


Sir, in answer to the Question of my hon. Friend, I may say it is not my intention to withdraw the Amendment which I have moved, nor will any change or modification whatever be made in the course of our proceedings as arranged at the commencement of this debate. I am not the author of the document to which my hon. Friend refers; but I apprehend it is simply intended as an explanation of the manner in which, according to the forms of the House, supposing we divide, the division will be taken.


Sir, the Answer given by the noble Lord to the Question just put has, I think, a very material bearing upon the proceedings of the House, and raises difficulties which I should like to apply to you, Sir (Mr. Speaker), authoritatively to solve. I desire then to ask you whether the first division, if it be taken on the Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question," is to be considered as a division on the Main Question, "That the House do now resolve itself into a Committee;" because if it be so, of course those who vote with the right hon. Gentleman are voting in the sense of his Resolution; and if it be not so, those who do not vote with the Government abstain from voting for the Amendment of the noble Lord. I desire, therefore, to know from you, Sir, the precise purport of the Question which you are to put from the Chair.


The Original Motion before the House is, "That the House resolve itself into Committee." To that an Amendment had been proposed, and the House has, up to this time, been mainly engaged on the Amendment. If the House should affirm "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question." that will be decisive of the Amendment, and then will come the Main Question, which will stand disembarrassed from all other words.