SIR DAVID WEDDERBURN*
Sir, the subject which I venture to lay before the attention of the House is a limited branch of one which must ere long attract the attention of Parliament—namely, whether it is possible in any way to relieve Parliament in some measure of the accumulated weight of legislative work, which almost threatens to overwhelm it. So many difficult points in connection with our procedure, and also so many points concerning the different members of this Empire are mixed up in the question, that I should not 1854 have ventured to take upon myself to meddle with the subject had I not intended strictly to confine myself to one branch of the inquiry with which I happen to be particularly familiar. No doubt the case of Scotland is a peculiarly favourable one to take up on first commencing this inquiry, because it is uncomplicated at present with any popular excitement or political feeling. No doubt there are other very important questions in immediate connection with the subject. I might instance among these all private legislation—that is to say, all personal and local legislation, which seems to be now ripe, and is in very able hands. There is also the case of Irish business, which has many points in common with the case of Scotland, but at the same time has also many important differences of its own, so much so, that I cannot help somewhat regretting that the discussion to-night should be complicated by the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Dublin (Mr. Pim). At the same time, I cannot be surprised that he should have placed his Amendment on the Paper, for I know he takes a great interest in the question, and that his own view of the subject coincides to a great extent with my own. I know that in bringing this subject forward I may be told that I am attempting Home Rule for Scotland. Before either admitting or denying the truth of the assertion, I would ask exactly what is implied in the term "Home Rule?" If by the demand for Home Rule is meant any disaffection or discontent, or any desire to break up the connection which at present unites the different members of this kingdom, I need hardly say that no such demand either has been, or is likely to be, made by the people of Scotland—and I certainly am not here to advocate any such proposition. On the contrary, it is because the very centralization of our present system seems to menace in various parts of the Empire the integrity of our Empire that I now would call the attention of the House to its evil effects in a part of the country where no such danger can be at all apprehended. The people of Scotland are sufficiently well educated and sufficiently self-reliant to know that the prosperity of their country depends rather upon their own ability and industry than upon any legislative advan-vantages which can be conferred upon them either by the Government or by 1855 this House. They also appreciate fully the enormous advantages which they have derived from their union with England, and they appreciate those advantages far too well to wish to dissolve or even to relax the bonds of that union. Since 1707, Scotland has risen from a state of comparative poverty to be one of the most flourishing and prosperous communities in Europe, and it is not in times of material prosperity we generally hear much of political discontent. And while I think there are many reforms on which the people of Scotland have set their mind, it would be exaggeration to assert that the delay of those reforms has as yet produced any deep-seated or wide-spread discontent. What might be the effect of any serious check to the prosperity which exists I cannot say. It is not for me to predict what would be the results of events which might render silent the looms of the eastern counties or the steam hammers of the west. I will only say that there do exist serious obstacles in the way of Scotch legislation, and if I succeed in proving this to the satisfaction of the House, it will be for those of greater knowledge and experience than myself to indicate the method by which these obstacles may be obviated or removed. I think the bonds which unite the various members of the United Kingdom may be strong, and at the same time sufficiently elastic to admit of very considerable development on the part of the individual members who compose the kingdom. Decentralization has not been found to tend in any way to disintegration, and of this there have been recent examples not only in many European countries, but in our own colonies, and at the present time in India also. In the case of Scotland, we have a distinct system of laws and customs, and of traditions; and it appears to me that if those laws and customs are to be re-formed and re-modelled, so as to suit the growing wants of the community, this will be best done by the people themselves, through their Representatives, with as little interference as may be on the part of those who are not familiar with the particular laws, customs, and institutions. I might place the impediments which at present exist to Scotch legislation under four heads, of which the last is certainly the most important, and the one for which it seems the most difficult to find a remedy. 1856 The first of these is, that Scotland is at present without any official representation either in the Cabinet or in the House of Lords; the second is, that there exists, and has existed since the Union, no efficient machinery for giving Scotland the benefit of the United Kingdom legislation; the third impediment is, that the Representatives of Scotland, a mere handful in this House, are liable to be outvoted when tolerably unanimous among themselves, by English and Irish Members; and the last is, that it is impossible for Parliament to give sufficient time and attention to discuss in detail the measures which affect Scotland only. The first of these difficulties is perhaps one of minor importance, and no doubt if the Government were disposed to consider it worth while to do so, they could easily remove it. In order to see how we stand, we may compare our case with that of Ireland. All Government measures affecting Ireland are introduced in this House by a Member of the Cabinet, and enjoy the prestige of his support; while, in "another place," there are noble Lords officially connected with Ireland—the Lord Lieutenant and the Lord Chancellor of Ireland—who are able, both officially and by the weight of their personal knowledge, to advocate and promote Irish measures. The Scotch people, on the other hand, have no official Representative in the House of Lords, and in this House we have only the Lord Advocate, who seems in his own person to combine the functions of Home Secretary, Attorney General, Patronage Secretary, and Public Prosecutor for Scotland. It is impossible for any one man, however able and energetic, to efficiently discharge such multifarious and difficult duties. Then with regard to the absence of machinery for extending to Scotland such measures as embrace the whole of the United Kingdom, I would say that there was hardly to be found in any early Act of Parliament passed subsequently to the Union any mention of Scotland, although most of the Acts then passed seemed to be intended to apply to the whole of Great Britain. The result of this was the greatest difficulty and doubt as to what was really the law of Scotland, and 50 years after Acts of Parliament had been passed, it was only upon a consultation of the whole Court of Session, and then only by a bare majority, 1857 that it was decided in certain cases whether these acts did or did not apply to Scotland. In more recent times—20 years ago—attempts were made by special clauses to apply certain measures to Scotland; but the Bills were drawn by English lawyers, unfamiliar with the technical phraseology of the Scotch law, and the result was that there was still much of difficulty and uncertainty. After a time, in fact, it came to be found that the simplest method of dealing with the matter was to exclude Scotland from the operation of all United Kingdom Bills. So much was that the case that for years the clause, "this Act shall not apply to Scotland," was almost the only legislation which included her at all, except such Bills as were exclusively applicable to Scotland. The effect of this system was that a great many small Bills had to be introduced in Parliament in order that Scotland might not be left in a worse position from the reforms and amendments which had been introduced into the law of England. A striking instance of this is to be found in the Bill which was introduced last Session, but failed to become law, whose object was to extend to Scotland the operation of the Betting Houses Act of 1853. The Act of 1853 did not apply to Scotland, and the result was a transference to that country of the headquarters of betting, with its concomitant disadvantages and inconveniences. The simple object of last year's Bill was therefore to place Scotland in the position which she occupied previously. In the same way I might mention the Habitual Criminals Act of 1869, and even the Dogs Bill of last year—the result being in every case a great waste of time and power, and a considerable demand upon the public purse. With regard to the third difficulty, I must plainly confess that the instances in which the wishes of the Scotch people and votes of the Scotch Members have been overridden by the majority of this House are comparatively rare. It is only when a question or a Bill, intended to apply to Scotland exclusively, appears prospectively to affect the law of England that we find English Members—the bulk of this House—voting against the clearly-expressed wishes of the Scotch Representatives. On such subjects as the Game Laws, or, to be more special, the Law of Hypothec, 1858 it will be admitted that this has been the case. The unfamiliarity with our technical phraseology, which is elsewhere a difficulty, has been to us somewhat of an assistance. The last point is, as I said before, the most difficult of all, for the want of time in Parliament is by no means peculiar to Scotland, but is felt by all sections of the community. The only difference, so far as Scotland is concerned, seems to be that she of all the three kingdoms suffers most severely from the want of time to which I am referring. Time is what we want in order to discuss the details of our measures, and that is precisely what Parliament will not give us. At the beginning of Parliament it seemed as if this was only an acute evil, caused by the special necessities of Ireland, and not likely to be chronic; but last year showed that it was a difficulty which would increase rather than diminish. The fact is, that to legislate for a country of 3,000,000 of people involves very nearly as many difficulties as to legislate for 30,000,000. When great questions—such as that of education—are being discussed there will be quite as important principles involved, and quite as much controversy and difference of opinion, if the population were counted by millions as if it were counted by tens of millions. If Scotland were in the position of Wales or Lancashire, or any portion of England, this would not hold true, because in England Members would be familiar with the forms of the measures to be discussed, and any peculiarly local wants would be fairly enough represented by the number of votes which Scotland would command in this House. The real difficulty lies in the distinctive institutions—the legal phraseology of Scotland. The problem before us is that we have to legislate separately for an independent Province in our Imperial Assembly, and the solution of the problem as at present worked out, is that it is impossible to obtain from this Imperial Assembly time to discuss details which are unfamiliar to the great bulk of the Assembly, in which they feel no direct interest, and for which they have no direct responsibility. It is a question whether it is not desirable that the legal system of England and Scotland should be assimilated. In many points the Scotch system has much to recommend it, and no doubt it may be also 1859 said to be inferior to the English; but so great are the disadvantages to the smaller country under the existing system of legislation, that I, for one, could almost wish we had identically the same laws. On the other hand, we must recognize fairly the fact that the two systems are different and distinct in spirit and in form, and that although recent legislation has done much to assimilate them in spirit, it has done little or nothing to assimilate them in form, and so long as these formal distinctions exist, all these difficulties in legislation must exist also. One of the grievances, though perhaps a mild one, of which we have to complain, is that, while Scotland may be included in a Government measure, she does not derive anything like her share of advantage from the legislative labours of independent Members. Any measure for Scotland, introduced by an independent Member, and meeting with any serious opposition, is certain to be lost, and few independent Members would like to weight a measure intended to apply to England by adding such clauses to it as would make it workable in Scotland. The result is seen in the circumstance that we have introduced in this Parliament by Scotch Representatives measures which do not extend to Scotland. Yet, Sir, after all, the case is simple enough. Scotland is a prosperous and contented country, and supports with somewhat remarkable unanimity the present Administration. All that she asks from the Administration and from this House is sufficient time to discuss the details of certain reforms upon the principles of which she has pretty well made up her mind. If the question had been left entirely to the Representatives which Scotland sends to this Parliament, I hardly think that three Sessions would have passed without some efforts having been made to pass those measures in order to promote which some of us were sent here three or four years ago. There are, for instance, popular education, feudal tenure, road reform, the game jaws, hypothec, and a number of others that I might mention, and they are all questions which have been practically left as yet untouched during these three Sessions by a Government which numbers 51 out of 60 Scotch Representatives among its supporters. It almost seems as if we must rest satisfied with giving a powerful casting vote on 1860 Imperial measures, and with interfering now and then, perhaps not always with advantage, in English and Irish measures; but we are never to have a fair opportunity of settling our own domestic affairs. To some people the position of the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands might almost appear more enviable, for they have no Imperial cares or responsibilities, but are left to reform their institutions in conformity with their growing wants, and in harmony with their local conditions, customs, and habits. There is no doubt that at present an uneasy feeling is beginning to arise in Scotland that her affairs are being neglected by Parliament. There is also very considerable difference of opinion as to where the blame for this defect actually lies. Some are inclined to throw the responsibility upon the Cabinet, others upon the Lord Advocate; while others, again, seem to think it is pretty equally distributed among the Scotch Members generally. I do not wish to attempt to determine whether each or any of these suppositions may be correct, or how the blame, if any, should be distributed. For my part, I am not disposed to throw the blame upon individuals at all; the difficulty seems to be owing to the defects of the system rather than to any of the officials at present concerned with the administration of these matters. Of this I am quite certain—that even with the best intentions on the part of the Government, and with the greatest energy and devotion possible on the part of the Lord Advocate and of Scotch Members, it would be impossible for us under the present arrangements to obtain as much time as we ought to have for discussing the numerous important measures which have to come before us. It is not at all surprising, Sir, that the Government should give precedence to such Bills as the Parks Bill, or the Thames Embankment Bill, because those interested in such Bills form the great bulk of the House, and perhaps some Members of the House or the Government may themselves feel an interest in them as citizens of London. I have heard it said by hon. Gentlemen near me—"Who cares about your Scotch Education Bill? Is not England, Ireland, and Scotland of more concern, and are they not all calling for the Ballot—which is an Imperial measure." It seems to me that this cannot be denied, and if 1861 we are to pass this Education Bill into law, we shall have no proper opportunity of discussing the details in Committee of the Whole House, but we shall have to settle it in the Lobbies or in private meetings as is customary amongst Scotch Members. That custom of settling Scotch Business by what is known in America as caucus has, I fancy, recently fallen into disrepute. These meetings are entirely of a private character. Their discussions are private, and whatever the decisions arrived at, the minority do not feel themselves bound by them. They protest against the decision of the majority of such a meeting being accepted in any degree as representing them, and the result is that the time is lost, and the whole thing has to be gone over again within the walls of this House. At the same time, there is no doubt that these private gatherings do exercise a certain influence; but the great misfortune of the business is that it gives a certain hole-and-corner character to Scotch legislation, which tends to diminish the legitimate influence of the Scotch Representatives. Well, Sir, I mean to say this—and I say it not in any sense of hostility to the English or Irish Members, or with a fear that they are hostile to Scotch reforms—all that I fear is the indifference of the bulk of the Members to those matters affecting ourselves only; and it is in that direction that I must look for some change which will enable us to obtain sufficient time to discuss such matters as we consider necessary. I may instance the cases of many Bills and measures which have failed to become law, not because Parliament disapproved of their general principles, but for this simple reason—that they never came on in this House until such a late hour that it was absolutely impossible to deal with them. Of course, there is not one amongst them to be compared in importance with the Education Bill, and I think the history of that Bill during the present Parliament is somewhat instructive. It was a matter affecting the very highest interests of the whole nation of Scotland, and it might fairly have been expected that the Bill would have obtained a considerable share of the time and the attention of this House. But its history, until the last few weeks, has been this: It was introduced from year to year by the Government, first in "another place," sub- 1862 sequently in this House. It was never fairly debated to a second reading. A short discussion did take place on it, and then it went into Committee pro formâ, to re-appear in a shape in which it was almost unrecognizable. It then went into Committee for regular discussion, and almost the whole of its clauses were debated and settled between the hours of 12 and 4 on the August mornings. Subsequently its fate has been very little better, until within the last few days, and here, I take it, the exception proves the rule, for we have at lest during three Sessions had one full Government night for the discussion of a Government measure. We have settled almost unanimously by vote in this House the principles of this Bill; but there is an immense number of details on which very great difference of opinion exists, and upon which there will be much discussion, I have no doubt. The Government have given us one full night; but when they can give us another, I think the right hon. Gentleman below me would be puzzled to state. I fear the matter will have a somewhat similar fate to that which has befallen similar Bills in previous years, and that there will be no opportunity of going into intricate details. It seems to me that so long as the House of Commons takes upon its shoulders to settle all the details of private legislation, as well as all the details of public measures, affecting only portions of the United Kingdom, we shall fail in finding any remedy for the evils of which we complain. Being still an inexperienced junior Member of this House, I feel great diffidence in hinting at any supposed remedy. At the same time, I would suggest that if we could obtain an entire relief from all details of private legislation, and if we could bring ourselves to treat public measures, affecting portions only of the United Kingdom, in somewhat the same manner in which mere personal and local Bills are treated now, a great deal of relief would be afforded. When any measure has received the sanction of this House as not being contrary to the policy or the constitution of the Empire, why should not the details of that measure be referred to a Committee—a Public Committee—those who are acquainted with the details, who are interested directly in them, and who are directly responsible to their constituents for the pro- 1863 per management and carrying out of those details. It seems to me by some such change as that there would not only be economy of time and labour, but an enhanced sense of responsibility in those concerned. It is sometimes said now that the legislative machinery is choked with the raw material, and requires relief. If this be true, the wants of Scotland deserve special consideration, as having been specially a sufferer, partially owing, no doubt, to the patience and good temper that the Scotch people have displayed. I only ask, Sir, for inquiry. It would be very presumptuous to dictate in what way that inquiry should be conducted. As it now seems to me, a Select Committee of this House would be the best means, and it is with this view that I gave Notice of the Motion which appears on the Paper tonight. Thanking the House for the kind attention they have given me while I have ventured to explain what is necessarily a dry subject, I would venture to move that a Select Committee be appointed to inquire and report upon the Best means of promoting the despatch of Scotch Parliamentary Business.
§ SIR ROBERT ANSTRUTHER
, in seconding the Motion, said, that the able and interesting way in which his hon. Friend had brought the subject before the House, and the ample manner in which he had entered into the question, left him (Sir Robert Anstruther) little to say. But he would bear his testimony in confirmation of the statement of his hon. Friend, and state that there was a very deep feeling in Scotland that in the present Parliament, at all events, Scotch Business had been neglected. The fact that many measures that had been promised had not been introduced at all, and that many of those that had been introduced had failed, was a matter of serious dissatisfaction in Scotland. It was true that there had not been much excitement in Scotland, for the Scotch people were not of an excitable nature—they were a patient and long-enduring people, and, though they felt much, it took long before they did anything in a hasty, rash, or, as he might say, Irish manner. One great hindrance to the progress of Scotch business was, as his hon. Friend had stated, that the House was so encumbered with a mass of details, which made it impossible to get through properly all the business it took 1864 in hand; and it appeared unaccountable to him that it should be insisted on that every clause in every Bill and every word in every clause should be discussed in a full House of over 600 Members. He regretted that the Government did not deal with this subject in a more comprehensive and efficient manner. The scheme laid before the Committee of last year by Sir Erskine May was well worthy of consideration. If adopted it would relieve the House of a great amount of detail, which encumbered the progress of business, and remove one obstacle to good Imperial legislation. There was another hindrance to Scotch legislation—and perhaps the main one—and that was the method in which Scotch business was done by the Government. He did not desire to say one word in disparagement of his right hon. Friends, the Home Secretary or the Lord Advocate. The Home Secretary was nominally responsible for all Scotch business—for doing it or not doing it. He had to lay it before the Cabinet; he had to find time for bringing it before Parliament, and he had to urge it on through the Legislature. Let them ask, was it possible for him to do this in a satisfactory manner? They all knew the difficulties which the Home Secretary had in bringing on his own business—business on which he had set his heart. Perhaps if he were a little more hard-hearted in the Cabinet, more time would be allowed for the consideration of his measures. Knowing what they knew of the business of the Home Office, was it possible that the Home Secretary could find time for Scotch business? The right hon. Gentleman could not do it—he could not find time for his own Home Office business. He occupied a very anomalous, and, as he thought, a very unfortunate position. The Lord Advocate was at the head of his profession in Scotland, and was obliged to give up a large portion of his practice in order to attend to the duties of his office, the emoluments of which were not sufficient to compensate him for the sacrifices he made. He was obliged to come to London to draw Scotch Bills, and had the mortification to see that they were not proceeded with. He had not power to bring them before the Cabinet or to force them through the House. Such a state of things was most unsatisfactory. In Scotland the Lord Advocate was held responsible for 1865 it; but they did not know that he was practically powerless in the matter, and that he could not press Scotch business forward as it ought to be. It was not for him to suggest what would be a successful remedy. His hon. Friend the Member for Dublin (Mr. Pim) had a Motion on the Paper to send Irish Bills to "Grand Committees," consisting of Irish Members; but if that was done, must not Scotch Bills be also sent to Committees consisting only of Scotch Members, and English Bills to English Committees? He certainly should not like to see those Committees composed only of Irish, Scotch, or English Members. He thought that even Irish Committees would not be the worse for some infusion of the quiet, canny, Scotch element; and, on the other hand, a slight admixture of the Irish element in a Grand Scotch Committee would, at any rate, make its proceedings more amusing. One thing, however, was clear—as matters now stood no Scotch business was done at all. Formerly the question was whether it was well done or ill done. They had now simplified the matter—it was not done at all. It was necessary that a change should be made. What that change should be he would not presume to say. It was not fair that Scotch business should be pushed into a corner of the Home Office. He believed it would be impossible to have Scotch business properly attended to until it was placed in the hands of a Scottish Secretary of State, with a seat in the Cabinet, who should be distinctly responsible for its performance. It might be said that was too much to ask. He did not think it was. He hoped the Government would give their best consideration to the whole of this matter, and he had great pleasure in seconding the Motion of his hon. Friend.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That a Select Committee be appointed to inquire and report upon the best means of promoting the despatch of Scotch Parliamentary Business."—(Sir David Wedderburn.)
§ MR. PIM
rose to move, by way of Amendment, to add the words—that the Committee shall also inquire as to the best mode of remedying the inconveniences now existing as respects the transaction of Irish Business.He said, that the arguments advanced in support of the Motion of the hon. 1866 Member for Ayrshire, in respect of the business of Scotland, strengthened his own position as much as anything he could say. With respect to Private Bill legislation, he trusted that any further efforts on the part of private Members to provide a remedy for existing grievances would be rendered unnecessary by the scheme which was to be submitted to the House by the Chairman of Ways and Means. It was generally admitted that some means must be found by which the expense of private business could be reduced; and that applied as much to Scotland and England as to Ireland. But Irish Members, in proposing legislation on the subject, had not considered that they were justified in attempting to do more than to provide for the case of Ireland. During the last three years a large amount of time had been devoted to Irish subjects, and certainly Irish questions, when they became Cabinet or party questions, obtained full consideration; but unless they assumed this prominence, however important they were to Ireland, it was impossible to get them fairly considered; and that remark applied equally to similar measures relating to Scotland. For years past but little attention had been paid to Irish matters until they had been forced on the consideration of Parliament by the prevalence of crime, or by agitation of such a character as to verge upon sedition. The truth had been stated in a speech made at Liverpool in January by the Earl of Derby, in which he said that the shooting of landlords and agents caused Parliament to listen to the demands of the peasantry, and that if Ireland had remained quiet we should have heard nothing of the Irish Church and the Irish Land Acts. This was a painful avowal of a state of things which certainly ought not to exist. He (Mr. Pim) would admit that the neglect of legislative measures for Ireland was not due to the unwillingness of the Government to forward them; the Government was sincerely anxious for improvement; but the House had not time to devote to the proper consideration of the subjects brought before it. Last Session the House would have devoted any amount of time to the Bill for putting down the unlawful combinations in Westmeath; but there were also 14 other Irish measures before Parliament, and all could not receive proper con- 1867 sideration. Very few of these Bills were opposed on the second reading—the principles of them were admitted, though no doubt they required amendment in details. Only five of them got into Committee before the end of June, three in July, and seven in August—one of them as late as the 17th of that month, and the Parliament was prorogued on the 21st. The majority of these Bills were considered after 1, and in many cases after 2 o'clock in the morning, when, of course, it was impossible that due consideration could be given to their details. In the case of the Local Government Act certain towns were exempted from its operation solely to avoid opposition, which, by delaying the Bill, might have occasioned its loss. It was impossible that there could be judicious legislation for Ireland and Scotland under such circumstances. The Government habitually consented to alterations of Bills which were suggested in private, and that was a most improper way of conducting Public Business, because the reasons for such alterations ought to be stated in public. On the whole, Irish Members felt that they had little control and influence over the legislation for their country; and it was not surprising if, feeling their want of power, they became indifferent to their responsibilities and negligent of their duties, and absented themselves from discussions which appeared unpractical and useless. The remedy he proposed for these grievances was that all public Bills relating to Ireland alone, or to Scotland alone, should be referred, after passing the second reading, not to a Committee of the Whole House, as at present, but to a Grand Committee of the Irish or Scotch Members, as the case might require. The result of such an arrangement would be a much better attention to the details of all such measures, and great saving of the time of the House, and a good security that the legislation would really meet the wants and satisfy the wishes of the people in whose interest it was passed. It was well known that few English Members had any real acquaintance with Irish subjects; and as to Scotch business, whether it were owing to the Roman law or not, neither Irish nor English Members understood anything about Scotch law; and it was, therefore, absurd to suppose that they were competent to revise Scotch Bills. If the proposed ar- 1868 rangement were adopted, the general control of the House over Irish and Scotch Bills would be exercised upon the second reading, while the details would be considered, by those Members whose local knowledge qualified them for it, and who would feel their responsibility to their constituents more keenly when thus acting in a Committee apart from the rest of the House. Another advantage of his proposal would be that greater publicity would be obtained for the discussions on those Bills. At present, reports of the debates on Irish Bills rarely appeared in the London papers, and much inconvenience was thus occasioned. But if his plan were adopted, these Grand Committees would no doubt meet in the daytime, thus giving greater facilities for reporting the debates. Day sittings would be a great improvement, for however clever a man might be, his head was much clearer at 2 o'clock in the afternoon than at 2 o'clock in the morning. It had been objected that, if this scheme were adopted, it might be impossible to get Irish Members to pass measures that might be required for the government of that country; but, in his opinion, it would be better that such measures, however good in themselves, should not become law, than that they should be passed in opposition to the wishes of the Irish people, as expressed by their Representatives in that House; and, so far from it being impossible to pass measures for the preservation of the peace in Ireland, he thought that Irish Members would be the first to take the responsibility of proposing them if they believed them to be necessary and for the good of their country. Another urgent plea for the adoption of the scheme was that it would effect a great saving in the time of the House. The House undertook more work than any other Assembly undertook, and more than any Assembly in the world could properly discharge. It undertook to legislate for three nations distinct in religion, manners, social condition, and state of civilization; besides which it busied itself with the concerns of an enormous Empire scattered all over the globe, and it also superintended the multifarious business of the Executive Government down to the most minute details. In fact, the British Parliament attempted to do the work of the Senate and of the House of Representatives of 1869 the United States, and to legislate for the interests of the Empire besides. The block of legislation had been likened to the attempt to drive two or three omnibuses abreast of each other through Temple Bar; but in truth they now had three separate trains of omnibuses trying at the same time to get through one opening, and what they had to do was to make three openings for them. He had made an analysis of the work of legislation for the last six years. It appeared that the average of Bills passed each Session was 124; and of these, 33 related only to England and Wales, 19 to Ireland, and 10 to Scotland—the rest being General Acts. It needed no argument to show how much time would be saved if the details of these English, Scotch, and Irish Bills could be considered by separate Committees sitting at the same time. They must increase the number as well as the width of the roads. Legislation to work well in any country must not only be just in itself, but it must be made clear to the people affected by it that it was so. To make Irishmen see that the laws passed for their country are not imposed on them by an adverse majority of English and Scotch Members, Irish Bills ought to be submitted to an Irish Grand Committee. That would give Irishmen a direct control over the legislation adopted for their country, and would convince them that no Act would henceforth be passed for Ireland which did not receive the assent of a majority of their Representatives. He admitted that at present very few Acts were passed for Ireland which did not receive the assent of a majority of the Irish Members—indeed, he was not prepared to say that there were any. He was very far from believing—and had certainly never said—that English and Scotch Members tyrannized over Ireland; but what he did say was, that it ought to be made clear to the Irish people by indubitable proofs that they were not legislated for by a hostile majority of English and Scotch Members. He had often been told that there was no knowing what the Irish people wanted, and that their Representatives were constantly at variance. But English and Scotch Members were also greatly divided in their feelings and their views on many subjects; and the proper way to find out what was public opinion in Ireland was exactly 1870 the same as in the case of England and Scotland—namely, by taking the opinion of the majority. Notwithstanding their differences, Irishmen managed their local boards, their town councils, and Poor Law matters as well, he believed, as Englishmen managed theirs. He should not be doing his duty to his constituents and his country if he did not on that occasion express all that he had in his mind. The condition of Ireland at the present time was a very critical one. The country was agitated by a movement in which he took no part, and which had, he considered, many elements of danger connected with it. But whatever might be their own individual views regarding it, it was impossible for them to shut their eyes to the fact that a strong national feeling existed in Ireland which could not be got rid of by being merely ignored; and he believed that a proposal for letting the Irish people know indubitably that the legislation adopted for their country was the work of Irishmen, would have an important bearing on that national feeling. He was thoroughly convinced that there was no hope of attaching Ireland to England, and no means of maintaining the Union other than by force, unless the nationality of Ireland was recognized, as the nationality of Scotland had been practically recognized. On that subject he would quote an extract from a writer of European reputation—Mr. Lecky—who said that in the history of no other country could they investigate more fully than in that of Ireland the evil consequences which must ensue from disregarding that sentiment of nationality, which, whether wise or foolish, desirable or the reverse, was at least one of the strongest and most enduring of human passions; and the conceived that it lay at the root of Irish discontent. That he (Mr. Pim) accepted as a fact. Even that hard-headed political economist, the late Mr. Nassau Senior, admitted the force of the sentiment of nationality; and in 1837 Lord Russell quoted and endorsed an expression of opinion by Mr. Fox 40 years before, to the effect that he would have the Irish Government regulated by Irish notions and Irish prejudices, and that he firmly believed that the more Ireland was under Irish Government, the more she would be bound to English interests. He (Mr. Pim) had no hesitation in saying that had nationality not 1871 been recognized in Scotland she would have been a worse thorn in the side of England than ever Ireland had been. The only objection he had heard raised in Ireland against the present scheme was that it would hand over all Irish business to whichever of the two great parties had the majority of the Irish representation. He had little fear of this unanimity on either side; but in any case, the House would still possess the initiative and the final decision, and could always prevent injustice, if any such thing were attempted. It might also be right that Bills on questions of Imperial importance, such as the Irish Church Act, should be considered by the whole House, which in such cases could be done by a Motion to change the ordinary course of procedure. Some had cast discredit on his Amendment, by saying that this Grand Committee was a step towards Home Rule. He (Mr. Pim) proposed it with no such intention. It left the question of Home Rule entirely untouched; but the plan which he proposed, if adopted, might lessen the demand which existed in Ireland for local self-government. This plan was wholly within the limits of the Constitution. It would refer the subject to a Committee composed of those Members who had most interest in it, and who knew most about it; they must make their Report to the House, and the House would possess power to consider the subject afterwards. It was said that the agitation for Home Rule would disappear as the agitation for repeal had disappeared. That was not his opinion. The agitation for repeal was O'Connell's work. He was its author, its guide, and its supporter, and it fell with him. But the present agitation came from below, and the men who were at its head, although they might guide and control it, were not necessary to its support and continued existence. The adoption of the plan which he proposed would prove that Parliament was willing to attend to Irish affairs; it would increase the responsibility of Irish Members; it would facilitate the discharge of Public Business; it would procure a more careful consideration of the details of Irish Bills; and it would insure to Irish Members an effective control over the legislation specially affecting their country. The hon. Member concluded by moving his Amendment.
§ MR. SERJEANT SHERLOCK
seconded the Amendment. Sooner or later the question of both Public and Private Business must seriously occupy attention. It was almost impossible that any private Member could carry a Bill, as was illustrated by the Paper that night, where the Marriage with a Deceased Wife's Sister Bill, which was passing through Committee, was menaced by an Amendment by which it was proposed to postpone the Committee for six months. Every part of the United Kingdom had a common interest in facilitating the progress of business, in preventing local discontent, and in showing that the delays incurred did not arise out of prejudice. He would suggest that this subject, so far as related to Ireland, should be referred to a separate Committee.
To add, at the end of the Question, the words "and that the Committee shall also inquire as to the best mode of remedying the inconveniences now existing as respects the transaction of Irish Business."—(Mr. Pim.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there added."
§ MR. VANCE
said, the fact was that it was impossible for the Business of the House to be properly conducted, with a due regard for all interests concerned by its legislation, if Members of the Government persisted in getting up one after the other and displaying so marvellous a legislative fecundity. By yielding to the propensity they had last year brought matters to a pass from which it was impossible to extricate themselves, and wherein private Members had no fair chance. With respect to the proposals before the House, he was not inclined to believe that their adoption would be followed by the desired result. The panacea which the hon. Members for Ayrshire (Sir David Wedderburn) and Dublin (Mr. Pim) proposed for remedying the grievances of their respective countries was an infinitesimal dose of "Home Rule." Now, he (Mr. Vance) had represented Dublin for some years, and he could assure the House that the persons who voted for him did not want Home Rule, and the persons who had voted for the supporters of the Resolution before the House would not be satisfied with that. The system they advocated was the appointment of "Grand Committees," 1873 who should superintend the legislation appropriate to each kingdom separately. He himself preferred the existing system, and had never heard of any difficulty in the passing of Irish Bills. He had been a Member of the House for 40 years, and he was sure they would not be able to improve the machinery of legislation which had been handed down to them by their forefathers. The principle of the legislation of the House was that each Bill should be considered by every Member; that all objections raised should be heard by the entire House; and that, no matter what might be done upstairs, the final decision should rest with the House of Commons. He had sat upon the Committee appointed last year to consider the mode of conducting the Business of the House. The suggestion for a "Grand Committee" was broached before them, but it fell stillborn; so little was thought of it that it was not even mentioned throughout the whole of the Committee's deliberations, and yet it was now revived in the form of Home Rule. If the "Grand Committee" were to settle the details of Bills which came before it they would merely be performing the legislation of the House. He trusted that the House would not part with its old principle of legislation, and that the Government would give them the opportunity of adhering to it by henceforth refusing to entertain on their own part such an innumerable quantity of measures for introduction from the Treasury bench. One proposition that came before the Select Committee appointed last year was that no opposed Business should be taken after 12 or 1 o'clock. After discussing the matter, the Committee agreed to recommend half-past 12 as the hour from which the prohibition should date, and he very much regretted that the Government had entirely ignored that portion of the Committee's Report. He was confident that by its adoption the Business of the House would be better done, long speeches thereby being necessarily curtailed, and a succinct mode of introducing measures encouraged.
§ SIR EDWARD COLEBROOKE
said, he trusted that the full and clear speech of his hon. Friend the Member for Ayrshire would meet with the attention it deserved; and that the inconveniences experienced in regard to Scotch legislation would not be smothered by a flood 1874 of Irish grievances. He did not, of course, deny that there was much in the case of Ireland which corresponded with that of Scotland, and equally required the attention of the House; but he could not find in the statements of the hon. Members from Ireland who had addressed the House much that was not experienced by all Members of the House in common—namely, that they could not find time for carrying through their business. It did seem to him that Scotland stood at a great disadvantage as compared with the rest of the United Kingdom. His hon. Friend the Member for Ayrshire had summed up the four points on which he considered the Scotch grievances laid'—namely, that they had no official representation in the Cabinet; that they had no efficient machinery; that they were liable to be out-voted; and that Parliament could not give sufficient time for the discussion of Scotch business. In regard to the first point, he had never concealed his opinion on the subject. He thought it would be a calamity to Scotland to follow the advice of some hon. Members to create a Scotch sinecure in the shape of a Secretary of State for Scotland. If there had existed such a sinecure, it would not have altered legislation during the last few years in the least perceptible degree, or placed them at any advance compared with the position in which they stood at the present moment. On the contrary, there would probably have been an attempt at some little fussy legislation upon a subject, perhaps, which would be best left until reached by some largo legislation. But great as was the interest the Scotch took in merely local affairs, the whole nation took the strongest interest in Imperial matters, and were always ready to support the Imperial Government in Imperial measures; but as regarded mere official representation, he thought that all the desires of Scotland might be met by the machinery already at work, but by giving a proper representation of Scotch interests in the Cabinet. He, for one, did not think that the special legislation of Scotland had been unduly neglected in that House. During the 25 years that he had had the honour of a seat in the House, he thought they could take credit for large and important measures, specially affecting the interests of Scotland, which had been fairly considered in spite of the disadvantages complained of. 1875 Nay, more—he had had compliments paid personally to himself as one of the body of the Scotch Members for the admirable way in which they had conducted the business of Scotland. He thought he might venture to say that such compliments had been deserved; and he thought it probable that it was owing to their being few in number and well known to each other that that result had been obtained; because their discussions in the Lobby and out-of-doors had materially facilitated the transaction of business. But with regard to the last point, he cordially agreed with preceding speakers, that this was a matter not merely affecting the Imperial Parliament, but affecting the interests of Scotland, which strongly demanded the attention of the House. His hon. Friend the Member for Ayrshire had very carefully refrained from saying anything personal, or making any reproaches against the Lord Advocate for the part which he had taken in the conduct of Scotch business. No one could complain that his right hon. and learned Friend had been wanting in his attempts at legislation, for during his first year of office he flooded the House with Bills, many of which were of considerable value and interest, and it only required a little resolution among themselves, and a little pressure to be made upon Her Majesty's Government, to enable them to bring some of those measures to a successful issue. He said this the more strongly because he thought his hon. Friend the Member for Ayrshire was rather unhappy in his selection of subjects on which he reproached the Lord Advocate for not having succeeded in legislating upon. Among others he mentioned the game laws, road reform, education, and the law of hypothec. Now, the House had had some little experience of the game laws, and it was not very encouraging either to the Government or to private Members to attempt to bring such questions to a solution. The question had come to so complete a dead-lock that it had had to be referred to a Committee upstairs; but that was no fault of the Government, who had attempted to legislate upon it, and as he (Sir Edward Colebrooke) thought had proposed a very fair settlement of the question. And so with regard to road reform, which underwent considerable investigation upstairs. The difficulties experienced on that subject 1876 in various parts of Scotland had contributed largely and very naturally to discourage the Government from taking up the question. No doubt the question of education was a very serious and important one; but it was a question on which no reflection could be made upon the Government for not giving the House a favourable opportunity to bring it to a full discussion and settlement. No doubt the Bill introduced by the Government two years since was incomplete and unsatisfactory, inasmuch as it contained no conscience clause, and it gave an immense power to a dominant majority. He did not, however, regret the delay. The question had really been forwarded for settlement by the delay; for they had now an immense flood of light upon subjects which were before unknown or uncertain from the experience of the working of the English Education Act. Last year the question of Scotch Education had to give way to the Ballot, and he regretted most strongly that Her Majesty's Government should have postponed such a question in order to bring forward one, however great its interest might be, which was not one in which there was any prospect of a settlement. At the same time, the Scotch Members could not complain, because he (Sir Edward Colebrooke) stood almost alone on this side of the House in opposing it. But he wished to address to the House a few words on a subject which had been suggested by the Resolution of his hon. Friend the Member for Ayrshire. His hon. Friend had lightly touched upon it, but it had been dealt with at large by the hon. Gentleman who followed him (Sir Robert Anstruther). He (Sir Edward Colebrooke) thought it a matter which fairly deserved the consideration of the House—namely, whether questions which affected Scotch or Irish matters, but which did not command an Imperial interest, could not fairly be relegated to the consideration of a Grand Committee, and well sifted there. It would be, in fact, an extension of the principle which was now applied to a certain class of Bills; but it would be done on a larger scale, and a larger number of Members would be required to form the Committee. There might be, he admitted, difficulties in the way, and it might happen that a single Member might canvass friends in a particular way, and thus give a false colour to the decision 1877 of the Committee; but they could not stand in so good a position as the Government, which always had a great number of faithful supporters, whom they could bring in to overpower a decision. He thought it would have this advantage—that they would have a fair opinion given on questions which affected Scotland or Ireland by Members who really took an interest in the question. He was rather surprised to hear the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Vance) say he supposed it did not deserve consideration, because it was passed over without a thought by the Committee on the Business of the House. He (Sir Edward Colebrooke), on the contrary, thought that a very good reason for the appointment of another Committee to consider the subject; and if he were to offer a suggestion to his hon. Friend, it would be to put his Motion in a general form, and leave out the word "Scotch," and then he (Sir Edward Colebrooke) would support the Motion cordially. It was clear that the Government thought the proposal one of some importance; for, if he remembered rightly, the Home Secretary proposed something like a Grand Committee for the Mines Regulation Bill, and thought that it would be a proper mode of dealing with it. He thought the House would agree with him that the Motion which had been brought forward by the hon. Member for Ayrshire was one well deserving the attention of the House.
said, he did not wish to check the discussion, but he thought it had reached a stage at which it might be desirable for something to be said on the part of the Government. In the first place, he joined with those who complimented the hon. Baronet the Member for Ayrshire (Sir David Wedderburn) upon the manner in which he had introduced the subject to the notice of the House; and in the second, he did not question the motives of the hon. Member for Dublin (Mr. Pim), who had opened a subject of very great importance with respect to Ireland but not unimportant with respect to Scotland or even England. He would, however, venture to observe that the discussion he had raised did not assort very well with the Motion of his hon. Friend the Member for Ayrshire. His hon. Friend asked for the appointment of a Committee to consider the subject, and had sought 1878 only to make out a case for inquiry; while the hon. Member for Dublin seemed rather to assume there was no ground for the appointment of a Committee, for he had a plan of his own completely ready, and nearly the whole of his speech was employed in unfolding the details of that plan, and defending it by argument. Without entering into minute details, he would say it appeared to him (Mr. Gladstone) that the difficulties in this case were very real ones—and he regarded the Motion of the hon. Member for Ayrshire and the speech of the hon. Member for Dublin, not so much as suggestions of a remedy as confessions that the House of Commons was in a serious dilemma with regard to the transaction of its business, and that the gravity of that dilemma was felt with a pressure which appeared to increase from year to year. In one respect he approached this subject under a disadvantage, as compared with other hon. Members. Some hon. Gentlemen solved the difficulty in a perfectly easy way, by casting the whole blame on Her Majesty's Government. For instance, the hon. Member for Armagh (Mr. Vance) applied his powerful mind to the discussion of the subject, and found this was the real solution—according to him, it was owing to the number of measures introduced last year by the Government that independent Members were prevented from carrying forward their Bills. In other words, the injudicious use made by the Government of the two days in the week appertaining to them had the extraordinary effect of rendering it absolutely impossible for the independent Members to make any use whatever of the three days at their disposal. He thought they must endeavour to find a solution of a more practical kind. For his own part he believed the roots of the evil lay much deeper. It had grown, it was growing, and he feared it would continue to grow. His hon. Friend (Sir Edward Colebrooke) had expressed his surprise that more attention had not been given by the Committee of last year to the suggestion with respect to the formation of a Grand Committee. Without attempting to explain that matter more thoroughly, he would venture to say that even the time which had elapsed since the commencement of last Session had very materially added to the difficulties under which the House laboured. 1879 The mind of the House was, he feared, not yet ripe for any vigorous and comprehensive effort for the solution of those difficulties. In this country it commonly happened that people groaned a good deal over the inconveniences which oppressed them before they could see their way to any mode of escape. It might be that they might find a remedy for the great evil they laboured under. But he wished to remind Scotch and Irish Members of that part of the United Kingdom which had hardly been mentioned in the debate to-night—namely, that portion called England, whose inhabitants numbered about three-fourths of the entire population of the United Kingdom. Now, he had not a word to say against the bringing forward the grievances of Scotland—but the grievances of Scotland were not more real to Scotch Members than the grievances of England were real to English Members. Admitting that the grievances of Scotland were real, and that Scotch business had been in arrear, he should have been glad to admit the justice of the censure pronounced by the Member for Lanarkshire (Sir Edward Colebrooke) in regard to the Scotch Education Bill, if that hon. Member had pointed out how it could have been brought forward at the time he mentioned without a sacrifice of business still more essential. He would say a word with regard to a misconception that existed with regard to the business of last year. It was supposed that last year the portion of the time of the House which was under the control of the Government was occupied to a great extent with the discussion of measures which proved to be abortive; but in reality this was not the case. The measures which the Government failed to pass last year—particularly the Licensing Bill, the measure on Local Taxation, and the Mines Bill—did not, he believed, occupy two evenings altogether; so that it was a mistake to suppose that these measures made any serious invasion on the time of the House. The question really was whether it was possible to increase the divisible fund of time. His hon. Friend the Member for Ayrshire (Sir David Wedderburn) seemed to suggest that the only remedy for the difficulties in regard to Scotch legislation was the appointment of a Scotch Secretary of State, who would make himself sufficiently disagreeable in the Cabinet, 1880 and so secure the desired end. But this would not add a single day or hour to the divisible fund of time which the Members of the Government might squabble for among themselves, but which by such squabbling was not in the slightest degree increased. It was the shortness of time that was the real difficulty. In answer to those hon. Members who have said so much on behalf of Scotland and Ireland, let him say a word in behalf of England. With regard to the position of England, there were six important English subjects which had been long awaiting legislation—namely, the questions of Licensing, of Local Taxation, of the Municipal Reform of the City of London, of Courts of Judicature, of the Succession of Land, and of the mode of dealing with the Chancery Funds. Those great subjects stood in front and at the head of the arrears of legislation. This was, in truth, but a very small portion of a very large subject, and he must say he should regard with considerable jealousy suggestions which tended to a division of the interests of the three kingdoms. He was not at all shocked at the proposal of an alteration in the mere machinery of the House; but, although this pressure was in some degree of a temporary nature, it might prove to be, to a considerable extent, permanent in its character, and might require very considerable measures for its relief. But he hoped that those measures would not, under any circumstances, tend in the remotest degree towards a separation of interest as between the three countries. He said this only with reference to that portion of the speech of the hon. Member for Dublin (Mr. Pim) in which he proposed that the handling of Irish matters of mere detail should be confined to Irish Members exclusively. He was quite sure his hon. Friend did not intend to claim for Ireland what he would not give to Scotland or to England; but he (Mr. Gladstone) owned that he should object to the handing over under any circumstances to the representatives of one country exclusively the manipulation of measures brought before the House having reference to the interests of that country. He thought that one effect of such a course must present itself to the mind on a very brief reflection, and it was this—that, supposing one of the three countries could, by the creation of 1881 a separate machinery, obtain special facilities for the despatch of particular business, yet the country would somewhat suffer in point of dignity and credit by detaching itself from the general action of Parliament. He held that what was done ought to be done for all three countries in common. He did not mean to say that there should be no distinction. There was a distinction now. When a Scotch Bill was referred to a Committee, the composition of the Committee was marked by a Scotch complexion and proportion. But anything like an attempt to transact Scotch business exclusively by Scotch Members, or Irish business exclusively by Irish Members, would, he was certain—quite independently of political objections to such an arrangement—have the effect of lowering, in comparison with the rest of the Empire, the country on behalf of which a measure of that kind had been devised. Probably the hon. Movers of the Resolution and of the Amendment had made their proposals with a view rather to discussion than to any attempt to elicit the sense of the House by a vote. If he (Mr. Gladstone) was right in the general proposition, that this sense of burden, and difficulty, and embarrassment was common to that business of the three countries, then it followed that the business could not be satisfactorily dealt with exclusively by Members for only one or two of those countries; and thus this question became part of the important subject of the mode in which the Business of this House was to be disposed of. When this question was referred to a Committee last year, the inquiry was obviously limited, and it was perhaps on that account that that Committee did not think it necessary to deal so broadly as some desired with some of the questions which were brought before it. Now, in entering upon a discussion in the House on a matter connected with the conduct of its Business, all knew the great danger there was of running into details, and how much time it might possibly be the means of absorbing in comparison with the results to be attained. His own belief was, that if anything considerable was to be attempted in that way, and, especially, if there was to be any careful and thorough investigation of the plans an outline of which was laid before the Committee of last year by Sir Erskine 1882 May, that must be done in the first instance by means of a Committee of the House. He confessed it was a matter of very great regret to him that the proposal made by the Government at the commencement of last Session, of appointing a Committee, did not at the moment appear to obtain general favour in the House. His hon. Friend who had proposed the Motion would, he hoped, be disposed to agree that this was a subject which, if it was to be dealt with in a fitting manner, must be considered by a Committee duly authorized to deal with it, to give weight to any change that might be recommended; and he sincerely and conscientiously thanked him, not merely for the mode in which he had dealt with the subject, but for having raised the question, and assisted in bringing home to the mind of Parliament, and to the minds of many persons out of Parliament, a deep sense of the difficulties involved in the question. He hoped his hon. Friend would not now think it necessary to seek a formal expression of opinion in the shape of a vote; but, undoubtedly, the time might come when the House would be so generally impressed with the gravity of the work which it undertook—a work far beyond that which any other legislative Assembly attempted to cope with—that it would seriously apply itself to the making of such alterations and improvements in the rules and methods of proceeding, and to the securing such increased elasticity in the machinery, that it would be able to discharge its duties to the country more fully; and likewise to diminish somewhat the immense and really excessive burden which was imposed on the physical and mental energies of those Members who really devoted themselves to the discharge of their duties. He trusted, therefore, that his hon. Friend would consent to withdraw his Motion.
§ MR. M'LAREN
said, the people of Scotland were likely to be much dissatisfied if they found that a debate relating to the management of Scotch Business was to terminate with the speeches of three Scotch Members and three Irish Members, one of whom had taken up more time than all the three Scotch Members together. All over Scotland complaints were made as to the injustice done to Scotch legislation. As to the Motion brought forward by the 1883 hon. Member for Ayrshire, he thought they had cause to complain that while the Motion was simply one for inquiry by the appointment of a Committee into the management of Scotch Business, and while the Amendment of the hon. Member for Dublin (Mr. Pim) was merely to the effect that the inquiry should extend to Ireland, the hon. Member had not contented himself with moving the Amendment, and suggested that the question of the management of Irish Business should be referred to the Committee; but, on the contrary, had gone into a long discussion in regard to one of his own pet projects. No doubt everyone had his hobby, and a Grand Committee might be one of the grandest things in creation; but he could not see the use of appointing a Committee to inquire into the general question of Public Business if the House itself were to discuss the subject before the Committee had come to any decision. Now, as to the question actually before the House. He cordially concurred with his hon. Friend the Member for Fifeshire (Sir Robert Anstruther) that the real remedy lay in the appointment of some additional officer of the Executive Government for Scotland: without that they might mitigate the evil but would never cure it. The real question was—could anything be done to improve the conduct of the legislation for Scotland? Now, as to Committees of Scotch Members, he detested the idea. Although he had been a close reader of political meetings in Scotland, and had attended a great number himself, and had spoken, he was afraid, too often, he had not been able to collect any instance in which any body connected with Scotland had ever proposed that Scotch Business should be transacted by Scotch Committees. Those Members, therefore, who complained of the manner in which business was now managed should state the case with accuracy, and if it was an Irish want, state it as an Irish want, and not as a Scotch and Irish want; for as far as he knew there was no such want, and no such demand made in Scotland. He thought, however, that there were practical ways of saving time in the matter of legislation, and he would take the liberty of referring to two or three of them. He thought that if to Bills introduced into this House, mainly intended for Eng- 1884 land, a clause were added that they should apply to Scotland or to Ireland, as the case might be, and interpretation words were inserted—for example, that the Courts of Westminster should mean the Court of Session in Scotland, and that the County Court Judge should mean the sheriff, and so on going through all the interpretations—then with these explanations the Acts might be applied to Scotland. He did not see why an Act should not be passed applying equivalent terms, so that when the Court of Queen's Bench was required or permitted to do a thing it should be held to mean the Court of Session in Scotland, and the corresponding Court in Ireland. He thought that if a well-digested schedule of equivalent terms was once passed into a law, it would save a great deal of trouble in the framing of Acts of Parliament. The thing had been successfully tried in the case of the Corrupt Practices Act. There were other eases to which the system might be most beneficially applied. For instance, the law against gambling in Scotland was very stringent, but the mode of enforcing it was obsolete, cumbrous, and impracticable; and the consequence was that in the city he had the honour to represent there was the greatest demoralization, owing to the betting transactions successfully suppressed in London having been transferred to Edinburgh. A few words added to the English Act extending its operation to Scotland would have done all that was needed in the matter. Then, again, an Act had been introduced this Session by the Home Secretary for the repeal of the Contagious Diseases Act, which contained many excellent regulations; but there was a line saying this part of the Bill should not apply to Scotland. Surely it would be possible to provide that those offences which were to be put down in England and Ireland by this Contagious Diseases Act should equally be put down in Scotland. The same spirit prevailed with regard to Bills brought in by private Members. Again, take such a case as the Scotch Education Bill, as an example of the interposition of other Members in business relating to Scotland. The other night the hon. Member for Nottingham (Mr. A. Herbert) brought forward an Amendment before a single Scotch Member had been heard to say one word 1885 upon the subject of the second reading of the Bill; yet if the Amendment had been carried, it would have extinguished the Bill altogether. As a practical conclusion, he said that no Bill ought ever to pass this House which did not apply to the United Kingdom. He detested to see the word "Scotland" mentioned in an Act of Parliament. He could wish never to see it again. When Scotland was united to England, it was intended that while it had its own laws, it should form part and parcel of the United Kingdom, and that all the legislation that was agreed upon should be held to apply to Scotland: and he believed that for many years there was no distinction made about England and Scotland. But he was sorry to say that the distinction was growing year by year, and any man looking over recent Acts of Parliament would find more and more instances every year of the addition of the words, "This Act shall not apply to Scotland." He would therefore suggest that in the preparation of Bills there should always be a specification directing the application of the appropriate portions of each to Scotland, or Ireland, as the case might require. He thought that if the Lord Advocate were to devote his mind to such suggestions as he had endeavoured to make, he would confer a great benefit upon this country, and very much save the time of this House in all matters of legislation appertaining to Scotland and England.
§ VISCOUNT ST. LAWRENCE
thought the Scotch Members had reason to be satisfied with the very little interference on the part of English and Irish Members with Bills relating exclusively to Scotland. He regretted the determined tone in which the Prime Minister had spoken against the suggestion that Ireland should manage her local affairs separately from the rest of the United Kingdom. The speech of the Prime Minister held out no hope to the people of Ireland of their having the management of their own affairs in the slightest degree separately from those of the United Kingdom. He felt certain that the determined spirit in which the Prime Minister had spoken on that subject would cause great regret in Ireland.
§ Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members not being present.
§ House adjourned at a quarter after eight o'clock.