HC Deb 12 April 1870 vol 200 cc1703-19

Moved, "That this House at its rising do adjourn till Monday the 25th of April."—(Mr. Gladstone.)


rose to call attention to the serious public injury caused by the delay in introducing the Government Licensing Bill, and to the imperative necessity for dealing with the question during the present Session. What he had to complain of was the great delay on the part of the Government in announcing their policy respecting a question which excited a very deep and very general interest in most parts of the country—a question which concerned the prosperity, the comfort, and even the lives of very many of our fellow-countrymen. More than 14 years ago a Committee sat on this subject, which recommended immediate legislation. Time went on, and no Government was disposed or was strong enough to deal with the question; consequently the matter fell more or less into the hands of private Members, and on two occasions he had introduced Bills which would have effected useful reforms. On the 12th of May last year he moved the second reading of the Bill he had intro- duced; but the Home Secretary opposed it, admitting the evils that existed; but promising that at the earliest opportunity the Government would introduce a measure of their own. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Bruce) then said that a Bill was ready, which had been approved by successive Secretaries of State, and which, with a few alterations, would effect a great improvement in the law relating to licences and the sale of intoxicating liquors; that the Government would deal with the subject in the next Session of Parliament, and that the result would be a great improvement upon the present state of the law. This declaration tended to secure a majority against the Bill; but Easter was now come, the promised measure was not before the House. It was necessary for many reasons that this question should be settled as early as possible—it ought not, in common fairness, to be kept dangling over the heads of those engaged in the trade. He knew that the Licensing Bill was not wanted by the trade, who said "Let us alone," as the slave-owners used to say; nor was it wanted by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, for the consumption of drink was most satisfactory as far as the finances of the country were concerned; but if hon. Members had reflected on the mass of misery which that consumption produced, they would not have listened with so much satisfaction as they did on the preceding night to the glowing account of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The Home Secretary could not allege as his excuse for not bringing in a Bill any sensible diminution of drunkenness; for they knew that pauperism was increasing, and it could not be said that crime was diminishing. Now this Bill was asked for, and it was admitted by the Government to be required for the purpose of checking pauperism and crime in the country. There was a time when this question was a "crotchet"—everything was a "crotchet" while it was held by a minority, but it ceased to be a "crotchet" when it was taken up by the Government; and by taking it up Government admitted the evil with which they were bound to deal. He would admit the plea, and sympathize with it, if it should be urged that the Government was overdone with work and with the number of important measures they were endeavouring to pass. But he complained that while they had introduced many important measures, they had neglected this, which was the most important of all—more important than the Irish Land Bill or the Education Bill, and certainly more important than the University Tests Bill. It was a Peace Preservation Bill and an Education Bill in one. He thought they were entitled at least to see the Bill of his right hon. Friend. After all the promises that had been made, the House was entitled to see the Bill of the Home Secretary, and if it were a good Bill it would receive out-of-doors an amount of support sufficient to carry it through the House; but the Government would regret trifling with the question and losing the opportunity to carry one of the greatest reforms that could be proposed for the benefit of the people.


said, that while he regretted as much as the hon. Baronet (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) that the Government Bill had not been laid on the Table with a chance of its being passed this Session, he could not join him in urging the Government to introduce it if they did not see a prospect of carrying it; for nothing could be so disastrous as that it should remain under discussion until next Session. He believed that he spoke the sentiments of a great number of persons who were acquainted with the state of Public Business when he exonerated the Home Secretary from any neglect in not bringing forward his measure. As much as anyone he wished to see a comprehensive measure passed; he regarded his own Bill of last year as touching only the outskirts of the question, but he believed it had done some good in preparing the public mind for a larger and consolidating measure. But he thought the hon. Baronet opposite was scarcely justified in attributing the fate of his measure to the promise of the Home Secretary, which would surely have operated quite as adversely to the Beerhouses Bill, which was carried; and the hon. Baronet opposite ought rather to see in the scope of his Bill a reason why it was not acceptable to the country. He could only express a hope that the Government would soon be able to deal with the whole question in a comprehensive spirit, and would introduce a measure which might become law.


said, he would be the last man to underrate the amiable exertions of the hon. Member for Carlisle (Sir W. Lawson), nor would he call his cause a "crotchet," because the sole aim of the hon. Baronet and of his supporters was the good of the public; but he would not join with him in finding fault with the Government for not bringing in a Licensing Bill—in his opinion their fault lay rather in having introduced more measures than they could deal with successfully in the course of the Session. What earthly use would there be in bringing in a Bill of this sort merely to lay it on the Table, and then let it be shot at by everyone throughout the country who was opposed to its provisions? It would be most unwise for Government to bring m any measure of the kind, without being able to deal with the subject effectually and carry the Bill in the course of the Session. He therefore trusted that the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, seeing the block of business already existing in the House, would not put another omnibus in the way to hinder the House driving on. His regret was, that the Goverment were straining and endeavouring to do so much. But it was not merely the fault of the Government that the business was in its present condition. The country had got a new House of Commons now, and he was amazed at the thirst for information manifested by it. Formerly there used to be three or four Questions put on the Paper by Gentlemen connected with large places; but now there was scarcely a Member for the most insignificant borough who did not ask two or three Questions on matters of all kinds—one had oven got up his enthusiasm on the subject of policemen's hats. An hour and a-half were taken up every night by this thirst for information, and then the Government were accused for not carrying their measures through. As he said before, they seldom got to the business fixed for consideration before an hour and a-half or two hours had been consumed in asking Questions. Therefore the Government wore not to blame on that score. But they were very much to blame for proposing to bring forward so many subjects. Let the House think of the questions now before it. First of all, there was the Irish Land Bill; and that was so important a measure that it was quite sufficient of itself for one Session —and particularly considering the way in which it was met. The open opposition on the Benches opposite was inconvenient enough; but it had the much greater inconvenience of the support of hon. Gentlemen on this side who had been Judge Advocates and that sort of thing. He repeated that the measure of itself was quite sufficient for the whole Session, and he did not see what they should be able to do with it if the Opposition went on as it had done. Then there was the Education Bill. Did anyone suppose, in the way in which things were proceeding, that the Education Bill would pass in the present Session? And next there was the Ballot. Now, he asked any hon. Gentleman if, in addition to those three measures, the Government were to be called on to bring in a Licensing Bill—which, he supposed, was the Permissive Bill in disguise—what chance would there be of any business being done at all, and who could name the day for the second reading of the Licensing Bill? He was satisfied there would be a murder of the innocents this year on a scale such as this House had never seen before; and he believed that if they got through the Irish Land Bill it was as much as they would be able to do. He saw signs of preparation to erect a tomb-stone over the Education Bill; its epitaph was being written; and it would not surprise him to see the Ballot also consigned to the grave. For his part, he should be content to see it decently interred this Session, on condition that the Irish Land Bill should be passed in a proper form. In the existing state of Ireland, the measure was of the utmost importance. He only hoped that the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government would shut his ears to the voice of the charmer, charm he ever so wisely, and not bring in too many Bills. That was the only way of conducting the business of the House satisfactorily.


said, that, knowing the deep interest felt by his hon. Friend, the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) in the question of licensing, he was not surprised that he should call attention to the matter; but he hardly thought his hon. Friend, candid in the speech he had made, because he could hardly suppose that a measure like the Licensing Bill, touching so many interests, could be passed very easily through Parliament, even with the whole weight of the Government exerted for the purpose. He desired that the Bill which he proposed to introduce should be a complete measure. He readily admitted that he had underrated the enormous difficulty of the subject—it had already caused months of labour to himself and to the able men employed in the preparation of the Bill. More than 40 Acts of Parliament were to be dealt with; and he had discovered many inequalities and injustices in the existing law requiring a large amount of time and of anxious consideration for their solution; and though he might be sanguine enough to believe that the measure of the Government, when he should be able to introduce it, would meet with the acceptance of the House, if there were time to consider it, yet he agreed with the hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. Osborne) that it would not be right to bring it before the country without a reasonable prospect of passing it. If, however, on other subjects than the Irish Land Bill the House were to practise total abstinence, or even a reasonable amount of temperance in the consumption of time, there might be a possibility of getting through the measure in this Session. He attached as much importance to the subject as did his hon. Friend; but there were two measures he must place before it—namely, the Irish Land Bill, and the other Bill affecting the welfare of the great body of the people in reference to education. He hoped that those two measures would be passed in reasonable time, not only on account of the benefits they would confer on the country, but also because then the way would be made more easy for the measure on the subject of licensing. He did not say that even now he had altogether given up the hope of introducing the Licensing Bill in the present Session, though he was not sanguine in the expectation; but, if disappointed in the hope, he would undertake to bring it in on the earliest day possible next Session, so that the period of two years, to which the Bill of the hon. Baronet opposite (Sir Henry Selwin-Ibbetson), was limited, would not have passed away before the introduction of the Government measure. He was glad to bear testimony to the good which the hon. Baronet's Bill, the Beerhouses Bill, had effected in getting rid of ill- conducted houses and in promoting morality. As he should not have the opportunity of speaking again, he would now inform the noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire (Lord Elcho) of the course intended to be pursued with respect to the Mines Regulation Bill. It stood on the Paper for the 25th of April, and it was his intention to move on that day that the Bill be committed pro formâfor the purpose of introducing several Amendments, and of embodying in the measure the clauses of a Bill introduced in the other House dealing with the subject of metalliferous mines, so that the whole subject of mines might be dealt with.


said, he was rejoiced to find that, whatever might be the glut of business, the Government were determined to proceed with the Education Bill. If they did not press it forward now the evils would be incalculable. The people of England were never better prepared for it than they were now, and he believed he spoke for all on his side the House when he said they would afford the right hon. Gentleman every assistance to pass a satisfactory measure on that important subject.


said, he had great satisfaction in hearing that Members on the Opposition side of the House would help to pass the Education Bill; but, if so, a very different course must be pursued in the future from that which had been taken in the past. They had had seven days' discussion on the Irish Land Bill in Committee, and they had only passed one clause and a-half. Up to Whitsuntide there would be only 12 Government nights available for the consideration of that Bill, in reference to which 320 Amendments were on the Paper; and the noble Lord the Member for Haddingtonshire (Lord Elcho) had distinctly promised that as long as five Members would join him he would go into the Lobby against anything affecting the freedom of contract. The House had a proof of the tactics of hon. Gentlemen opposite last Friday, when they wasted a whole afternoon in discussion, and when a noble Lord opposite (Lord Claud Hamilton) talked by the dock, with the evident object to kill time, and thereby kill the Bill. That policy, too, met with the applause of hon. Gentlemen sitting around the noble Lord—so that by the aid of weak-kneed Members on the Ministerial side and factious Members on the Opposition side the progress of the Bill was impeded. What hope, then, was there of passing, during the present Session, that beneficent legislation mentioned in the Queen's Speech? Why, the first night he entered that House he heard the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bucks reproach the Government for not bringing in an English Education Bill. They had such a measure now before them, this being the second Session since that time; and hon. Gentlemen around him talked with complacency of deferring it for another Session or two. The whole educational life of 1,500,000 English people was slighted in order that some hon. Members on either side of the House might ventilate their opinions on comparatively unimportant subjects. There were, as he had stated, only 12 Government nights available after Easter and before Whitsuntide for the Irish Land Bill, and the Estimates must also be discussed. What, then, would become of the Education Bill, the University Tests Bill, the Ballot, and the Trades Unions Bill? No honest man in that House who had watched the eagerness with which the Government had pushed forward their measures could complain of any want of sincerity and ardour on their part. The noble Lord opposite (Lord Elcho) was always ready to trot up and down that horse which Tennyson called "Proputty! proputty! proputty!" to the no small danger of cantering away with everything good and useful for the people of this country. With that chivalrous recklessness of consequences which distinguished him, the noble Lord, like the whole of his class, was quite prepared to oppose everything so long as he could trot on this horse of freedom of contract. But he must remind them that the responsibility was great, and the people of England would visit it heavily on those who were the cause of deferring the important measures to which he had alluded. The Session which opened so bright with promise he now feared would be comparatively barren and fruitless, and he trusted the Government would, during the Recess, endeavour to devise some means of pressing on their measures. They had come to some common agreement on the Education Bill, except his hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle (Mr. E. Potter), who would never get anyone to agree with him on the secular point. Yielding to imperious necessity, they had passed a Coercion Bill for Ireland; but when the people asked for bread, would they be content to give them a stone? He hoped by passing a Land Bill they would do something to satisfy the just expectations of the country; if not, they would bring Parliamentary government into contempt.


After the personal allusions which have been made to me, the House will, perhaps, allow me to follow the hon. Member who has just sat down (Mr. Mundella), although my Question has been answered by the Secretary of State relative to the Mines Regulation and Inspection Bill. The hon. Member appears to have great satisfaction in feeling that, after being so short a time a Member of this House, he has acquired a position that entitles him not only to lecture one who has sat here between 20 and 30 years, as having shown during that period an utter absence of thought for anything but selfish advantage—not only to lecture an humble individual like myself, but to lecture a great party on the course they have taken on an important public measure. Now, Sir, the fame of the hon. Member for Sheffield rests upon this—that he has, or rather claims to have, invented and patented a system of reconciliation between workmen and employers, which was shown in evidence before the Royal Commission which sat on Trades Unions, to have been in operation in agreement clauses in the Potteries for some 20 years before. That is his claim to fame and to a seat in this House—and we have to-day had in our collective capacity a taste of his quality of conciliation. The other night, after I left the House, I had some taste of it in my individual capacity. I was met with a threat. The hon. Member said to me that any person who took so factious a course ought to be turned out of Parliament. ["No, no!"] I say that is a matter which is quite legitimate to mention in this House. That is not the way in which an hon. Member ought to be treated by any other Member—least of all by one who has but recently come into Parliament. I have a right to assert my own independence in this House. I stand here entitled to express my own opinions. I confess the other night I did cheer the noble Lord who showed so much fluency and eloquence. I was carried away by his eloquence, and I urged him to continue by my cheers. Why? Simply on this ground—the question at issue was one of vital importance, not only affecting the Irish Land Bill, but the whole matter of that property which, when it takes any other form than a cotton loom, the hon. Member for Sheffield thinks unworthy of notice. The question arose on an Amendment moved by a right hon. Gentleman on the other side, that on the expiration of a lease the owner of the property should be able to resume the holding. That proposition was disputed by the Government. I say it is a monstrous proposition that a person holding by lease should be entitled on the expiration of the term to set up a claim to compensation for disturbance. I say, if it applied to the lease of a loom or a factory, the hon. Member for Sheffield would hardly venture to maintain so monstrous a proposition. Considering the bearing of such a proposition, and that if it was applied to Ireland, it must be applied to all leases whether in England or Scotland, I thought it very desirable that the Bill should be hung up till after Easter, in the hope that the House might regain its calm reason in reference to the subject. What a system of tyranny is attempted to be enforced when an hon. Gentleman gets up on the other side of the House—a Member who represents what?—not the Radical element of that great Liberal party, but the old Whig element, once the ruling and governing spirit of the party—one to whom the name of Lord Palmerston must still, I should think, be something more than an empty sound. If a Gentleman with some respectforproperty—which Government exists to protect, gets up on the other side of the House, and ventures to vindicate its rights, my hon. Friend the Member for Waterford (Mr. Osborne) talks of the Bill having to encounter open opposition on this side and inconvenient support on the other—and from whom? He sneered at my right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle (Mr. Headlam) as a Gentleman who had been Judge Advocate General, or something of that kind. And what does the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down say? He talks about the action of week-kneed Members on one side and of factious Members on the other. Now, I only hope the effect will be to rouse up more spirit among those inclined to be weak-kneed; for there are many who have not voted who yet sympathize with those who have voted on the other side of the House. To show how they are attempted to he dragooned on the other side, not only by the two Members to whom I have referred, but by the Press, here is the way they are talked of— Conservative strategy would have little success but for the support indirectly offered by not a few Liberal Members, who are airing their own crotchets. And why is this? Apparently to defend property from the aggressive attacks of the Government.— There must be an end of this (it is said); there must be union; there must be discipline; there must be obedience on the side of the Liberal party from front to rear. There must be silence in the ranks. That is the order that is gone out from one of the organs of the Press always most devoted to my right hon. Friend at the head of the Government. I maintain that those who sit on this side are justified not in throwing out a Bill of this kind, but in endeavouring by every means in their power to get such alterations and Amendments made in it as will render it a reasonable and safe measure. I voted for the second reading, because I agreed with those who spoke in its favour that it is desirable, if we can, to attach Ireland to us by ties stronger than those of force. I believe that this may be done, or at least that we may pass a measure with that object, which shall not contain provisions such as I object to in this Bill, but which, at the same time, will contain all that is right and just towards Ireland. Having passed such a measure, the Imperial Parliament will have done, upon its side, all that it can reasonably be expected to do, with the object of meeting the views of the Irish people. But what I complain of is not only that the Bill contains objectionable principles, but that every alteration which is attempted to be made in it should be viewed by the Government as striking at the root and principle of the Bill. The Government are in a chronic state of resignation on this question. ["Oh, oh!" "Hear, hear!"] I maintain that you might amend the Bill in the sense of the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle, and yet leave it a most just and reasonable measure, and one that Parliament will be perfectly justified in passing. But if, with a view of what is called carrying the Irish feeling along with us, we pass measures that are unsound in principle, they are certain to re-act upon this country and on Scotland; and we, who are opposed to such measures, are justified in doing—not factiously—what we can to get the country to look at the question in the same light that we, rightly or wrongly, see it in. And I hope that those who are sent here for the defence of property—I repeat the words without fear—will think it due to their position to endeavour to join us on this side in making this Bill reasonable in those points where they think that it is unreasonable.


After, I must say, one of the most thoroughly unprofitable discussions of five hours' duration to which it ever was my fate to listen in this House, on Friday last we reported progress on the Irish Land Bill, and adjourned the further consideration of the measure till the 28th of the month. I own I was in hope that we should have enjoyed an interval of repose, and I am extremely sorry that my noble Friend (Lord Elcho) has thought fit to found upon what, at any rate, was a very weak comment by my hon. Friend behind me (Mr. Mundella) a criticism upon the Bill, and the mode in which it is conducted. I will endeavour not to give ground to anybody for continuing such; a discussion; but I must simply say—which I hope will not be thought excessive—that when the noble Lord speaks of the "dragooning" of Members on this side of the House, he is resorting to an ancient and well-known method of exciting conflict and controversy among us—which, at any rate, to-day is, I think, out of place. And when my noble Friend says that we have, declined to admit Amendments, but have on all occasions resisted them as aimed at the principle and life of the Bill, I appeal from my noble Friend to the speech of one of those who has opposed this Bill most ably and most dangerously upon very important parts of the measure—I mean my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Richmond (Sir Roundell Palmer), who acknowledged in the warmest terms the efforts which the Government had made by Amendments to meet his views. And when my noble Friend tells us that we, by this Bill, have attacked property, I say we are just as well entitled to retort that charge as he is to make it. I have no doubt my noble Friend with perfect sincerity believes that we are attacking property; and we, with just as great sincerity, may reply that the manner in which my noble Friend defends property, and the principles which he asserts and acts on with regard to it, constitute a far more formidable attack upon property than any which is contained in the Bill. At the same time, far be it from me to make any charge upon my noble Friend; on the contrary, I give him every credit for sincerity in the course which he adopts for the championship of property, unfortunate and disastrous as I believe that course to be. With regard to this debate, my hon. Friend the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfred Lawson) must have been astonished at the wide field which he has opened. With the exception to which he kindly adverted I plead guilty to the criticisms of my hon. Friend the Member for Waterford (Mr. Osborne), for I acknowledge that, from our desire to meet what we believed to be the wishes of the House, we have fallen into the error of undertaking too much during the present Session. However, the error having been committed, the question is, how we can best make progress with the business; for I may be permitted to observe that the mere expression of a wish that a measure may proceed has no tendency whatever to promote its progress. Now, I see opposite a right hon. Baronet (Sir John Pakington) who, for many years, has laudably distinguished himself by his zeal with regard to the subject of education; and I take this opportunity of noticing that the right hon. Baronet refrained from exercising the privilege which he, beyond almost any man, was entitled to exercise of addressing the House upon the subject of education on the second reading of the Bill, in order that by his silence he might effectually promote the progress of the measure. I wish to make this acknowledgment, not only to him, but to others who pursued a similar course. It is said that we ought to consider the best means of pressing on the business. I see opposite the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Beresford Hope), who has expressed a great, and I have no doubt, a sincere desire for the progress of a measure of education. But, as I have said, the expression of a wish does not tend towards the attainment of the end; it is the course taken by hon. Gentlemen themselves which, after all, aids in pushing forward business. I am sorry to say that I do not think my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge has been altogether happy in his mode of forwarding the business.


I have held my tongue upon the Land Bill, and I intend to do so.


That is something certainly. But what did my hon. Friend do a short time ago? We made a request for four Morning Sittings, with a view of making progress with the Land Bill, and so of clearing the ground for the Education Bill; and never was I more disappointed than when my hon. Friend rose from his place and took a very prominent part in objecting to give us the time for which we had asked, although I had distinctly explained the object with which the request was made.


I simply made a protest in favour of private Members who had put off their Motions—as I had put off mine, which stood in a very favourable position.


That is no answer, because I had undertaken on the part of the Government that, if we were allowed so to arrange the business, private Members who had Motions in such a position as the hon. Member describes should not suffer. The real truth is this—I frankly admit that blame is assignable to its for having undertaken so much business; at the same time, the House is not altogether without responsibility; for not only were we urged to undertake what we did, but every effort was made by the House to induce us to undertake more. I would impress upon the House that not the Government only, but the House in its collective capacity, by the exhibition of its readiness and eagerness to enter upon those subjects, has given pledges to the country for the transaction of certain business during the present Session; and that in the redemption of those pledges, not only the public interests but our own character and credit are concerned. I may add that I do not agree with the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella) that this will be a barren Session. I admit that we have been disappointed with the progress made by the Irish Land Bill; yet such is the difficulty and novelty of the measure, and such is the sweep of many of its provisions, that much time must necessarily be occupied in discussion. We shall go forth, I hope, with patience, and with a desire to meet, as far as we can, the conflicting views which are entertained. We certainly shall not spare ourselves in the effort to pass the business which is before the House; and although we have now been speaking for a couple of hours without much apparent result, yet I trust that the general consequences of this debate may be to make each of us more disposed to exercise the utmost self-command and self-denial in refraining, as far as possible, from interposing unnecessary delays, thereby enabling us in some degree to fulfil the very important obligations which we have taken upon us with regard to the Public Business.


I so far agree with what has just fallen from the right hon. Gentleman the First Minister, that the House ought not to be drawn into a renewed discussion of the Land Bill. But, on the other hand, I must say that what fell from my noble Friend the Member for Haddingtonshire was most natural; and if he was drawn into a discussion of the Irish Land Bill, the blame must rest upon the hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. Mundella), who caused this temporary resumption of the debate by his unprovoked and unjust attack. And I cannot refrain from referring for a moment to what was said by the hon. Member for Sheffield. I agree with the hon. Gentleman that the position of Public Business, at this moment, is different from anything that, in the course of a somewhat long experience, I can recollect on the eve of the holidays. The Coercion Bill was evidently not contemplated by the Government at the beginning of the Session; that was an interlude forced upon us by the state of circumstances at the moment. But, putting aside that interlude, what is our position on the eve of the Easter holidays? The Budget has been brought forward, it is true, but we have scarcely made any progress with the Estimates; and all we have done has been to pass a clause and a-half of the most prominent Bill of the Session. And here I must deny emphatically that the party on this side of the House, with which I have long had the honour of acting—and in that respect I stand in a somewhat different position from my noble Friend—are to blame for the present situation. It has been the sincere desire of Gentlemen on this side of the House to act with perfect fairness, and with perfect freedom from anything like party bias, in reference to the Irish Land Bill, and I deny altogether that what occurred on Friday opens us to the charge of acting in a different spirit, or subjects us to the imputation cast by the hon. Member for Sheffield. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle himself distinctly stated that it would not be in the power of the House, in the brief space of time remaining upon that day, adequately to consider the important question which he was bringing forward. The fact is that the Bill is, in many respects, a most complicated, a most difficult, and, in many respects, in my opinion, a most objectionable measure. That its provisions are complicated and full of novelty, the right hon. Gentleman himself (Mr. Gladstone) has just admitted; and it is impossible to deal with such a measure without full and careful discussion. The delay, therefore, is a delay for which neither side of the House is responsible, but which is attributable to the character of the measure itself. I trust, Sir, that everything like vexatious delay will be avoided, and that when the House re-assembles after the holidays, the Bill will make as rapid progress as is consistent with its difficulties and with the attention which it, no doubt, requires from both sides of the House, and from men of all shades of opinion. My principal object, however, in rising is to express an earnest and anxious hope that nothing will be allowed to prevent the progress of the Education Bill. I must say that I consider we have received a distinct pledge from the Prime Minister, and something like a repetition of that pledge to-day by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State, that the Bill second in importance, second in time, and second in the consideration of the Government, shall be the Education Bill. I think, therefore, that the Government are bound not to allow any other subject but the Irish Land Bill to interfere with the progress of the Education Bill, and I believe the whole country—I, at all events, shall, for one, regard it as a great and serious misfortune if that Bill is not passed during the present Session.


asked what the country would think of the discussion that had taken place that day? Parliament, after six months' leisure, met only two months ago, and now it was about to waste a fortnight in a holiday, with a full knowledge that in three months' time—two holidays having intervened—however important the business might be which stood in the way, the Prorogation of Parliament would take place. What would the people of the country think of that? Why could not Parliament sit through Easter, or sit through August and September—unless, indeed, the House would not endure it? The other day he was refused permission to bring in a Bill which would have had the effect of making this a working assembly, and certainly some radical change was wanted.


believed that, after the House had been sitting till three and four o'clock morning after morning, the relaxation of hon. Members would not be begrudged by their constituencies, who would probably be pleased to welcome their representatives among them during the holidays. If Members were paid for their services he could understand hon. Members being anxious to continue their sittings for fear of losing their remuneration by their absence.

Motion agreed to.

House at rising to adjourn till Monday 25th April.