§ MR. NEWDEGATE
, who had on the Paper the following Notice:—To move, as an Amendment to whatever Order may be entered upon the Notice Paper as to be taken first at the Two o'clock Sitting of the House on the fifth July next, that the Order for the Adjourned Debate upon the Second Reading of the Monastic and Conventual Institutions Bill be then taken,said: Sir, that I may be in Order when I put the Question which I intend, I beg now to move the Adjournment of the House. I had intended to propose that the Order for the Second Reading of the Monastic and Conventual Institutions Bill should be taken first, in preference to any other Order that might have been entered upon the Notice Paper. You are aware, Sir, that I gave Notice of that intention in order that I might raise the question whether the Government has, or has not, the exclusive right of precedence at the Morning Sittings of the House. I waited last night until the conclusion of the Business of the 705 evening, in the hope of ascertaining what Order the First Lord of the Treasury would set down first on the list—because it would have been more regular that I should have given Notice in reference to that Order. But I found that the Government intended to take shelter behind a Standing Order. The right hon. Gentleman placed the following Orders on the Paper:—First, "the Mines (Coal) Regulation Bill—Committee." Then the "Metalliferous Mines Regulation Bill—Committee;" "Local Government Board (Ireland) Salaries Bill—Committee;" and fourth, the Committee on another Irish Bill. Now, by the Standing Orders of the House, no Question can be put upon the Motion for you, Sir, leaving the Chair, that the House may proceed with the Committee on a Bill; and therefore by this arrangement of the Government—by their having put down no less than four Bills for progress in Committee—they have brought a Standing Order across the path that I intended to pursue. That is the action of the Government on the matter. Sir, in answer to a previous Question that I put to you, you were good enough to state to the House that the precedence of Government Orders of the Day at Morning Sittings does not rest upon any Standing Order, or upon any Resolution of the House, but had been determined in accordance with the practice of the House—by the decisions given by your predecessor in the Chair in 1851. I have looked at that ruling. It appears that it was given in reply to a Question of Mr. Frewen's, and that at that time the House did not meet at 2 o'clock, but that when there were Morning Sittings it met at 12 o'clock. It met at 12 o'clock, and sat till 4 o'clock. The Sitting was then suspended till 6 o'clock, when Business was resumed. Well, the difference between those hours of meeting makes a vast difference in regard to the opportunities available to non-official Members for bringing for ward their Bills and Motions. Under the former arrangement, when the House met at noon, rose at 4 o'clock, and resumed at 6, they would have six hours and a-half—from 6 o'clock till half-past 12 o'clock. But now that the Morning Sittings begin at 2 o'clock, and last till 7 o'clock, and that the House does not resume its Sitting till 9 o'clock, there are only three hours and a-half—until 706 half-past 12 o'clock—of which non-official Members can make use; because, by the recent Resolution of the House, measures of which Notice of Opposition has been given, cannot be taken after half-past 12 o'clock at night. I may also remind you, Sir, that, in answer to me, you decided that if an Opposed Order comes on after half-past 12 o'clock, and if any objection be taken to the day, to which the hon. Member in charge of it proposes to postpone it, the objection will be valid, and the Order must be adjourned to the next day, or become a dropped Order. The Bill, in fact, would stand in the position of a dropped Order. Well, Sir, it is obvious that this process of objecting to postponements may go on ad infinitum, and that any single Member of the House, if an Opposed Bill comes on after half-past 12 o'clock, can, by merely objecting, adjourn that Order as often as it comes on. It certainly seems to me that the continuation of these Standing Orders, Rules, and Practice of the House, as at present applied and interpreted, inflict practical incapacity upon the great body of the House—upon the great body of the non-official Members; because, if any one of them is in charge of an Opposed Bill at this period of the Session—crowded as the Notice Paper is—it becomes practically impossible for him to secure an opportunity of submitting it to the House. Thus, the reason for the course I propose to adopt—namely, to dispute the right of precedence hitherto given Government Orders of the Day at our Morning Sittings, is because the ruling according to which you, Sir, have decided—and, I know, decided correctly—was a ruling given under a totally different state of the Orders of the House, and at a time when the Morning Sittings began two hours sooner than now, and when the Evening Sitting extended from 6 o'clock until the rising of the House. I am anxious that this curtailment of the hours at the disposal of private Members should be brought clearly to the apprehension of the House; because if you, Sir, inform me that there will be nothing irregular in my moving the second reading of one Bill—in substitution for the second reading of another Bill or in substitution of the third reading of another Bill—at the 2 o'clock Sittings of the House, it is my intention to renew my Notice, and, if ever 707 the Government should put down an Order for the second or third reading of a Bill at one of these 2 o'clock Sittings, I will, upon that Order, raise the issue as to whether the great body of the non-official Members of the House are to continue to labour under that practical incapacity, that disqualification which is inflicted on them by the present Standing Orders, Resolutions, and Practice of the House. I wish to ask you, Sir, Whether I shall be out of Order, if, at a Morning Sitting, I propose the second reading of a Bill which I may have in charge, in substitution of an Order indicating that the Government intend to take the second or third reading of another Bill first at that Sitting?
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Member proposed to move the adjournment of the House to put himself in Order in asking the Question which he has put to me, but he has not moved the adjournment of the House. I am, however, willing to answer the Question which he has put to me. I am bound to tell the hon. Member that the Amendment he has placed on the Paper is one that I cannot submit to this House. When the Orders of the Day are called on, any hon. Member in charge of a Bill which is the subject of the Orders of the Day may make such Motion as he thinks proper with regard to that Bill, and, having made that Motion, no Amendment can be moved, except an Amendment relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill before the House. If an hon. Member thinks proper to move an Amendment relevant to the Bill before the House he will be in Order in doing so. With reference to the conduct of Business in this House, in giving precedence at Morning Sittings to Government Orders of the Day, I have to inform the hon. Member—as I informed him some time ago—that the practice is one which has been uniformly followed since the adoption of Morning Sittings, and that this practice cannot be departed from without the express authority of this House.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
Am I to understand, Sir, that no change in the present arrangements of the House can be made except by Resolution of the House?
§ MR. SPEAKER
The Business of the House is carried on in accordance with its Practice and Resolutions, and no change can be made in the conduct of its Business without the authority of the 708 House, signified by a direct Resolution on the subject.