HC Deb 18 June 1868 vol 192 cc1758-62

I have now to move the revival of the Standing Order recently agreed to on the subject of Morning Sittings, and which regulates our Sittings when we meet at two o'clock and adjourn at seven. This Standing Order does not, however, interfere with our Sittings when for any reason the House shall prefer to meet at the usual hour of twelve and to adjourn at four.


said, he was disposed to submit to the authority of the right hon. Gentleman as to the course of Public Business. The Prime Minister a few days ago made a definite declaration that he intended to take the Irish Reform Bill, the Scotch Reform Bill, and the Boundary Bill before any other measures. He understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that he would put those Bills down on Government nights, so that they might arrive at the House of Lords with the least possible delay. It was now intended, as he understood, to interpose other business before those Bills were gone on with. He therefore wished to have some definite declaration from the right hon. Gentleman on the subject; for with all respect for the hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. Horsfall), who had asked a Question of the noble Lord the Vice President of the Council (Lord Robert Montagu), that Minister was not the person to interrogate as to the Business of the House; he expressed hopes that something would come on—for instance, the Metropolitan Cattle Market Bill—when probably there was no chance of its doing so, causing great inconvenience to hon. Gentlemen who stayed there with the idea that the measure could be taken when it really could not. He desired also to remind the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Disraeli) that in speaking of the Electric Telegraphs Bill and the Metropolitan Cattle Market Bill he used these words, "they are not formally withdrawn from the Paper." What was the meaning of that, except that substantially the Government did not really expect to pass them into law this Session, but desired to have them discussed, and perhaps made the foundation of legislation in some future year?


thought that the matter more immediately before them was the making of arrangements for meetings of the House at two o'clock exactly conformable to the meetings at twelve, only that, instead of their sitting till four and re-assembling at six, they should, when the Minister chose, meet at two and continue to sit till seven. He understood the Prime Minister to say that the two fashions of holding Morning Sittings were still to go on together. Now that, he thought, would be a very inconvenient practice, and they would never know the day before a Morning Sitting whether it would be the pleasure of the Minister that they should meet at twelve and sit till four, or meet at two and sit till seven. He believed that the arrangement for meeting at two and sitting till seven, unless where there was important Business fixed for the Evening Sitting, had worked very satisfactorily; but then they ought not to have the two systems together. It should be understood—without any formal Motion on the subject—that if the House now agreed to the proposal to meet at two whenever the right hon. Gentleman thought it necessary to have Morning Sittings, they should really meet at two, and not hark back to the twelve o'clock arrangement.


In answer to the Question of the right hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Bouverie) I would observe that the Standing Order which I am now moving is precisely that which the House adopted last year. There is no change in it whatever. Last year we had the double system of two and twelve o'clock sittings, as might suit the convenience of the House, and no inconvenience was felt from that arrangement. Indeed, many Gentlemen thought it was better, on the whole, to have that alternative arrangement. For myself, if I am obliged, in the conduct of Government Business, to have recourse to a Morning Sitting—which always, of course, do with regret—I am in favour of two o'clock, as the hour of meeting. But last year there were Gentlemen who objected to be deprived of the opportunity of meeting at twelve, if the House wished to do so; and I therefore thought that in reviving, as we probably should have to revive, the plan of Morning Sittings, it would be most prudent to follow exactly the precedent of last year, which worked sucessfully, and to adopt the Standing Order of last Session without any change whatever. With respect to the Question of the right hon. Member for Ashton (Mr. Milner Gibson) as to the general course of Public Business, I may say that I am not at all aware that I have deviated from the general view I laid before the House some time ago. I then stated that the wish of the Government—of course, speaking generally, as one must always do upon the conduct of Business which touches so many measures of importance—was, that we should proceed with what I call the Supplementary Reform Bills, with as much despatch as possible. And I must say that we have proceeded with considerable despatch; that we have made very great advances with those Bills; and I do not anticipate that any great delay is now pos- sible with respect to any of them. But I said, at the same time, that there were two measures before the House—namely, I the Metropolitan Cattle Market Bill and; the Electric Telegraphs Bill—upon which, for particular reasons, we wished to take the opinion of the House. Unfortunately, we have not had that opportunity, owing to the debate the other day terminating in an unexpected manner. And therefore I think the course that I have adopted to night is one more conducive than any other to a satisfactory result in the general despatch of Business in this House. Originally, I had placed the Electric Telegraphs Bill and the Metropolitan Cattle Market Bill as the first two Orders of the Day; but, in consequence of the strongly expressed opinion of the House that we should lose no time whatever in coming to a virtual conclusion on the Irish Reform Bill, we changed the Orders in deference to the wish of the House, and placed the Representation of the People (Ireland) Bill first on the Paper, I am not disposed myself to think that Bill will take any considerable time. We shall then proceed with the Electric Telegraphs Bill; and I have an idea, from all that readies me, that that measure also will not take any considerable time, but yet that the House will arrive at a result which will be satisfactory to those who are greatly interested in that subject. The other measure is one in which Gentlemen take a very deep interest, and I feel bound to give them an opportunity of expressing their opinions upon it. But I have no doubt they will adopt that concinnity of expression and condensation of thought which becomes them. Therefore, I will not take that gloomy view of the state of Public Business which the right hon. Member for Ashton does; but I regard it as being on the whole very satisfactory, and I think we shall be able to send the three Supplementary Reform Bills up to the other House with considerable promptitude. I therefore hope the House will not change the arrangement I have this evening proposed, which I believe is one that will much advance the course of Public Business.


asked, what course was to be taken with respect to the Corrupt Practices at Elections Bill?


I have already said that when the three Supplementary Reform Bills have passed this House I should then consider what are the most efficacious means we can adopt to carry the Corrupt Practices Bill; and I think we had better clear the Paper a little before we commence with that Bill.

Motion agreed to.

Resolved, That, unless the House shall otherwise order, whenever the House shall meet at Two o'clock, the House will proceed with Private Business, Petitions, Motions for unopposed Returns, and leave of absence to Members, giving Notices of Motions, Questions to Ministers, and such Orders of the Day as shall have been appointed for the Morning Sitting.

Resolved, That on such days, if the business be not sooner disposed of, the House will suspend its sitting at Seven o'clock; and at Ten minutes before Seven o'clock, unless the House shall otherwise order, Mr. Speaker shall adjourn the Debate on any business then under discussion, or the Chairman shall report Progress, as the case may be, and no opposed business shall then be proceeded with.

Resolved, That when such business has not been disposed of at Seven o'clock, unless the House shall otherwise order, Mr. Speaker (or the Chairman, in case the House shall be in Committee) do leave the Chair, and the House will resume its sitting at Nine o'clock, when the Orders of the Day not disposed of at the Morning Sitting, and any Motion which was under discussion at Ten minutes to Seven o'clock, shall beset down in the Order Book after the other Orders of the Day.

Resolved, That whenever the House shall be in Committee at Seven o'clock, the Chairman do report Progress when the House resumes its sitting.