§ MR. JACOB BRIGHT
said, he rose to move that the House at its rising should adjourn till Monday. It was a hard thing that hon. Members who had spent their days and nights in the House for the last week should have to come down again on Saturday.
§ MR. GATHORNE HARDY
rose to Order. He believed that the Motion for Adjournment must be put before a Motion for fixing the adjournment to a particular day.
§ MR. SPEAKER
was understood to say that the hon. Member for Manchester was in Order, though the course mentioned by 1738 the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Hardy) was the one usually pursued.
§ MR. JACOB BRIGHT
said, that there was occasions when a Saturday Sitting was perfectly legitimate; but they were not in that position now, and he therefore objected to their having to assemble tomorrow.
§ MR. DISRAELI
I regret that the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Jacob Bright) should have found it necessary to commence the Business of this evening by such a Motion. There is no necessity for anticipating when the adjournment will occur. That depends on the progress which will be made this evening. The House may make a compensatory progress—one which will compensate for what occurred last night. But for what happened then—owing to too strict interpretation of the rules of the House—there would probably have been no necessity for anticipating a meeting tomorrow. Such a necessity may even now be prevented if the House is in the cue for making progress to night; but if not, then so far as the Government can influence the decision of the House, we shall certainly do everything to expedite the progress of the Bill that is now to be considered. I hope the hon. Gentleman will not ask the House to come yet to a decision with regard to the adjournment, because later in the evening we shall be able to form a better conclusion as to the course we ought to take. The hon. Gentleman has not been long in the House; but so far as I have observed, he has never taken any step that did not entitle him to the respect and consideration of the House. But I observe that the Motion has been seconded by a right hon. Gentleman who has great experience of the House, and I am surprised that a Gentleman, once a Minister of the Crown, knowing, as he must, how important is the discreet management of the time of the House with a view to the proper conduct of Public Business, should have advised the hon. Gentleman to take a course which I certainly do not think will recommend itself to the general opinion of the House.
§ MR. MILNER GIBSON
If the right hon. Gentleman had not referred to me, I should not have thought it necessary to remark that it is in consequence of hon. Gentlemen opposite who are interested in the Bill, not thinking it worth while to come here last evening to make a 1739 House that we are called upon to take the exceptional course we have taken in view of a probable Sitting on Saturday. Now, Sir, I contend that it is not the business of the Opposition to make the House. I contend that it is not fair to call upon Members of this House to address the House, and to propose Motions and important Amendments upon a Bill before the House, in the absence of a great proportion of hon. Members who could have been here, and who were absent. It is not fair to call upon them to address their arguments to some six or eight or ten Members. It may be very well for Gentlemen to dine, and enjoy themselves, and come down here at ten or eleven o'clock to interrupt Business. There was nobody here. There are a sufficient number of officials of the Government to make a House. ["No!"] Well, very nearly. And then where were the farmers' friends last night? There were no supporters of this extraordinary Bill here. We, who are opposed to the Bill, were not bound to come down in violent haste. However that is not now the question before the House. Now I will take leave to say that when a change was made in the Standing Orders of this House, by which hon. Members were deprived of the opportunity which they had enjoyed for years of bringing forward Motions upon the Adjournment on Friday, it was agreed that another opportunity should be substituted for it. I remember that when Lord Palmerston proposed the change, he said he would always put Supply on a Friday, and hon. Members should have the same opportunity of bringing forward their Motions and making statements upon a Motion to go into Supply as they formerly had upon a Motion for the Adjournment of the House from Friday until Monday. A Resolution was passed that during the time Supply was open and Committee of Supply could be moved, it should be moved always on a Friday; and that the House without a special Motion should, as a matter of course, stand adjourned from Friday until Monday; and I remember that Lord Palmerston said in that way hon. Members would have the opportunity of making Motions which they would otherwise have had, if the change had not been made; and that the Government, in case the propositions on Committee of Supply did not occupy the whole evening, should have the opportunity of moving some Vote in Supply. But now Supply is closed, and therefore I contend that the pledge cannot be 1740 kept with the House unless the Motion that the House at its rising be adjourned till Monday is made at the commencement of Business. In the hon. Clerk's (Sir Erskine May's) Work on Parliamentary Practice, it is stated that, inasmuch as it is not an ordinary thing to sit on Saturday, it is necessary that there should be a special Motion that the House at its rising on Friday should adjourn till Saturday, if it be so intended. The old Motion to adjourn till Monday was intended to avoid the possibility of an unnecessary meeting on Saturday, and when the House intends to sit on Saturday it is the invariable practice that there should be a special Motion for that purpose. Now, Sir, I object to sit on Saturday, and I therefore support the Motion of the hon. Member for Manchester. Private Members with Motions expect to bring them on on the Motion for Adjournment. I contend that there is a pledge to this House that they should have a right to bring forward these Motions. Lord Palmerston stated that this House was the mouthpiece of the nation, and that he would not deprive the Members of this House of this right of expressing their opinions. Last Friday the hon. Member for Honiton (Mr. Baillie Cochrane) made this Motion, and there was no objection then—and the Member for Manchester (Mr. Jacob Bright) has made this Motion on the grounds, first, that he objects to sit on Saturday, and, next, that he is unwilling that Members should lose the opportunity of a right which had been given them by a distinct pledge. I should be glad to know from some Member of the Government whether what I have stated is not correct. I know of no one since I have had a seat in this House who has shown a more earnest desire to preserve the privileges of independent Members of this House than the right hon. Gentleman now at the head of the Government. He has always raised his voice to preserve them, and he ought to do so now. I repeat it is not fair to ask the House to sit on Saturday because there was no House last night. That was the fault of hon. Gentlemen opposite. Only two Members of the Protectionist party were present last night, (the hon. Member for East Norfolk and the hon. Member for South Essex). Why were the rest not here? If the supporters of the Government had made a House they could have saved hon. Members the inconvenience of sitting on the Saturday. I have been informed by several 1741 hon. Members, Friends of this Bill, that they are very much averse to sitting tomorrow. To myself it would be most inconvenient. I am, of course, ready to sacrifice my own personal convenience; but I am not willing to see the privileges of independent Members violated, nor am I disposed to support the unusual course of meeting on Saturday when no sufficient ground exists for such a proceeding. I shall certainly support the course taken by my hon. Friend.
§ MR. GATHORNE HARDY
The: honesty and candour of the right hon. Gentleman are so well known in this House, and also the manner in which he has conducted the opposition to a Bill be fore the House, that of course everyone will appreciate the language he has now used. If the right hon. Gentleman, with the candour and honesty which are so conspicuous in him, will rise in his place and say it is for the sake of independent Members he has made the speech he has just addressed to us, and if he will tell us it has nothing to do with that factious opposition to the Bill—
§ MR. MILNER GIBSON
I deny that any Minister of the Crown has the right to say that any Member is offering a "factious opposition." I ask that the words be taken down. [Cries of "Order" and "Chair," provoked by the right hon. Gentleman rising several times after he had resumed his seat.]
§ MR. SPEAKER
I must ask the House, at the commencement of its sitting, to conduct itself with more moderation. The Motion which has been made is not an unusual one; on the contrary, it is a perfectly regular and justifiable Motion. The Standing Order is as follows:—That while the Committees of Supply and Ways and Menus are open, the House, when it meets on Friday, shall, at its rising, stand adjourned until the following Monday, without any question being put, unless the House shall otherwise resolve.This implies that the regular rule of the House during the continuance of Supply is that there should be an adjournment from Friday to Monday; but when Supply is over independent Members are provided with an opportunity to make Motions at the meeting of the House on Friday, on the Motion for Adjournment. Accordingly, last Friday the hon. Member for Honiton (Mr. Baillie Cochrane) moved that the House, at its rising, adjourn to Monday, and questions were raised upon the Motion. 1742 If, for the general convenience of the House, hon. Members choose to give way, they may do so; but I must certainly remind the House that the very strong expression of opinion that the course pursued by the hon. Member for Manchester (Mr. Jacob Bright) was an irregular course is not justified. He is acting quite in accordance with the Orders regulating the Business of the House.
§ MR. SPEAKER
Under the circumstances of the case I certainly think that the expression of the right hon. Gentleman was too strong a one.
§ MR. GATHORNE HARDY
I at once bow, Sir, to the decision you have given on that point, and I am quite willing to say I am very sorry I used any expression supposed to be irregular. I took no exception to the Motion for Adjournment from this day to Monday; but I beg to say it is not required, because this House would stand adjourned to Monday by the Order which you, Sir, have read, if no Motion was made.
§ MR. SPEAKER
Supply being at an end, that no longer avails, and the Motion for Adjournment is required.
§ MR. GATHORNE HARDY
I was remarking that if the right hon. Gentleman opposite would say he supported the Motion for the sake of independent Members—[Mr. MILNER GIBSON: I did say so.]—The right hon. Gentleman did not say he did it for the sake of independent Members, but he said they had Motions upon the Paper which they would be able to bring forward on the Motion for the Adjournment. But a noble Friend of mine opposite (Lord Elcho), whose name stands first on the Paper, is not here to bring on his Motion—I presume on the supposition that there would be no such Motion for Adjournment. It is notorious that at the end of a Session, when the right hon. Gentleman has been a Member of the Government, as well as while the present Government has been in Office, sittings have been held on a Saturday when Public Business required them; and it is notorious that there is now Public Business which may necessitate a Saturday Sitting. If this 1743 night be given up to comparatively unimportant subjects, then it may be necessary to sit to-morrow; but if the House proceeds with pressing Business the occasion may not arise. It was for that reason I said the right hon. Gentleman was not acting in the interests of independent Members.
§ MAJOR PARKER
I beg to apologize. When an ex-Minister resorts to the dubious and unjustifiable course of trying to damage a humble Member for the agricultural interest who endeavours, as far as lies in his power, faithfully and honestly to discharge his duty, by pointing out two hon. Members below the Gangway, and saying that they were the only Members for the agricultural interest that were present, I venture to say he is guilty of a most unjustifiable remark.
§ MR. BLAKE
said, he was one of those who had a Notice on the Paper to be discussed on the Motion for Adjournment, and for whom the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Gibson) had so much consideration. But as he considered that the Cattle Market Bill was of much greater importance than his Motion, he had great pleasure in withdrawing it for the sake of securing progress to a measure in which the interests of his own country, as well as England, were concerned.
§ SIR COLMAN O'LOGHLEN
said, he had a Motion on the Paper which he had not put down for the purpose of obstructing the Cattle Market Bill. He had had it down several times and had withdrawn it for the sake of Public Business; and he had put it down for this evening in anticipation of the Motion for Adjournment, and in the expectation that private Members would be able to avail themselves of their privileges. As regarded the Motion of which Notice had been given by a noble Lord who was not present (Lord Elcho), he had received a letter from the noble Lord, who said he had been obliged to go to Scotland, and, if he had not, he feared that had he brought on his Motion, he would have been counted out. Seeing the present excited state of the bucolic mind of the House, he should certainly withdraw the Motion of which he had given Notice.