HC Deb 21 July 1873 vol 217 cc663-9

In reply to Mr. BOURKE,


said, that having regard to the recent discussion on the Bill introduced by the hon. Member for North -Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate), he did not intend to proceed with his Motion on Friday next, for the appointment of a Committee to inquire into the state of the law respecting Conventual and Monastic Institutions or Societies in Great Britain.


said, he understood it would not be in his power to bring forward as an independent Motion the Motion of which he had given Notice, respecting the Reports of the Select Committee of Public Accounts as to the conduct of the Post Office. He, therefore, wished to know whether the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government would put down Supply for an earlier clay than Monday, or else allow the Standing Order to be dispensed with, so that the subject might be discussed?


said, he wished to know whether the Real Estate (Intestacy) Bill, which was set clown for the morning sitting to-morrow, was intended by the Government to be discussed?


said, it was his intention to give his hon. Friend the Member for East Surrey (Mr. Locke King) a day for his Bill; but not without considering the prior claims of Government business. He hoped, on Thursday, to make arrangements for that purpose. It would not be in the power of the Government to give a day to the hon. Member (Mr. Assheton Cross) for his Motion on Telegraph Accounts before Monday. It would be necessary for the House to give its undivided attention and to use considerable exertion during this week in order to pass many important Bills through the remaining stages. The evidence taken before the Committee of Public Accounts was only printed that clay, and it had not yet been read by the Government. There would, however, be no difficulty in finding an opportunity for the Motion of the hon. Member. He was afraid it could not be done on going into Committee of Supply; but it would be necessary to bring in a Bill for a further allocation of money for the purpose of supplying the deficiency in the Telegraph Capital Accounts, and therefore the hon. Member would have a better opportunity to bring forward his Motion than if it were brought on on a Supply night.

In reply to Mr. WHEELHOUSE,


stated that it was not the intention of the Government to proceed with the Registration of Births and Deaths Bill that Session.

In reply to Questions from Mr. Dixox and Mr. DILLWYN,


said, he proposed to take the Elementary Education Act (1870) Amendment Bill to-morrow at 2 o'clock. He should also proceed with the Endowed Schools Commission Bill to-morrow, if he could not make progress with it that evening.


said, that since he had given Notice of a Motion respecting Government Orders of the Day having preference during the remaining Tuesdays of the Session, he had received from his hon. Friend the Member for Brighton (Mr. Fawcett) a protest against that Motion. It was his (Mr. Gladstone's) duty to inform him that, as far as the Government were concerned, they could under no circumstances assent to his proposal, which stood for Tuesday evening, to refer to a Royal Commission the question of electoral power. That was a matter entirely for the House to decide. He, therefore, thought it would be for the convenience of the House that Tuesday evenings for the remainder of the Session should be devoted to Government Business. He should, therefore, conclude by moving the Resolution of which he had given Notice.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That To-morrow, and upon every succeeding Tuesday during the remainder of the Session, Orders of the Day have precedence of Notices of Motion, Government Orders of the Day having the priority."—(Mr. Gladstone.)


said, he was sure that the House would be glad to assist the Government at that period of the Session, and to facilitate in every way the progress of Public Business; but, in granting that addition to the considerable concessions already made, the House had a right to expect that the confidence placed in the Government should be used with discretion and in a satisfactory manner. On Friday night, when it was generally expected that the Government influence would be exercised to prevent it, the House was unfortunately counted out; at a period of the Session, too, when time was precious. Next he must say that the remarks made by the right hon. Gentleman on the course of Public Business were not altogether satisfactory. He understood that the next morning sitting was to be appropriated to a private Member. [Mr. GLADSTONE: No.] Then it was for another morning sitting; but however that might be, he did not understand that it was absolutely appropriated to the Real Estate (Intestacy) Bill, although it was put down on the Paper for that day; and it might appear on the Paper for a subsequent day. He wished to call the attention of the House to the fact that the Bill of the hon. Gentleman the Member for East Surrey (Mr. Locke King), which was favoured by the Government, was of a very speculative and controversial character, which under any circumstances could not be brought to a conclusion that year, and it appeared to him, therefore, that it was not expedient that the time of the House should be occupied in discussing it, and especially that the time of private Members, given up to the Government, should be applied to the purpose. It did seem very hard upon those hon. Gentlemen, who by the Motion would forfeit any chance of bringing on their Resolutions, that the first use the Government should make of their privilege should be to secure a favour for a private Member which was quite unnecessary. Then there was another question, and one of a most eminently practical character, in which the whole House took an interest—namely, that with reference to those strange proceedings that had taken place with respect to the telegraphs. He thought some arrangement should be made to facilitate and advance the discussion of that important subject, which had been brought forward by the hon. Member for South-west Lancashire. The right hon. Gentleman had said that a Bill on the subject would probably be introduced, and that the hon. Member might then raise the discussion on his Resolution, which appeared to be very moderately expressed, in the form of an Amendment. But the Bill to be brought in by Her Majesty's Government was a Bill which he (Mr. Disraeli), so far as he knew, should deem it his duty to support, and the hon. Member for Southwest Lancashire also; and it would be unprecedented to ask his hon. Friend to put himself in a hostile position towards a Bill which he believed to be advantageous to the public interest, in order that he might ask the opinion of the House on another subject. In agreeing to the Motion of the Prime Minister, therefore, he thought there should be an understanding that the privilege thus cheerfully accorded should be used for no other purpose than the advancement of Public Business.


said, that there never was any intention on the part of the Government to apply any of the time that had been asked from the House for the purpose of giving a preference to his hon. Friend the Member for East Surrey over his hon. Friend the Member for Brighton. The Order of the Day for the Second Reading of of his hon. Friend's Bill, no doubt, stood for to-morrow, but it was never promised that it should come on his hon. Friend had, perhaps, some reason to complain, and the Government, he was afraid, had drawn largely upon his patience, seeing that his hon. Friend's Bill had been on the Order Book during the entire Session. Still, he quite acceded to what the right hon. Gentleman had said as to the duty of the Government to apply the additional time for which they now asked to those subjects which were recognized by the House generally as most important with reference to the close of the Session. He would give the hon. Member for South- west Lancashire (Mr. Cross) an assurance that, come what might, he should have an opportunity of bringing forward his Motion independently of Supply. But he would not stop there. As he had stated, the evidence given before the Committee of Public Accounts had only been published that morning, and the hon. Gentleman would no doubt think it proper that it should have some days to circulate before it was brought on; but if he could find an occasion for bringing on his Resolution as an independent Motion, the Government would have every reason to forward his views. He did not think that the Government could give him an opportunity this week, unless the progress of legislative business should be very rapid; but the Government would give him every assistance in bringing on his Motion.


said, he had a Motion down on the Paper for tomorrow night, and as it in some degree involved the question of Privilege, he should like, before withdrawing it, to put a question to the Government with regard to it. About that time last year the Postmaster General, in reply to a Question, expressed himself favourable to his (Mr. Hughes's) proposal to give facilities to small investors for obtaining Government securities through the machinery of the Post Office. He, therefore, introduced a Bill to that effect in the present Session. When he came to place that Bill on the Paper for a Second Reading, he was informed that it was necessary first to obtain the consent of the Treasury. For that consent he applied to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. For some time, he received no answer, and ultimately the right hon. Gentleman refused him the consent he required. It so happened, too, that the copy of the Bill which he forwarded to the right hon. Gentleman was the only one he had, and when he came to inquire for it he found that it had been lost by the Treasury. What he desired to learn was, whether the Treasury possessed this power of prohibiting the Second Reading of a Bill proposed in the ordinary way. If such a power existed, he could not help feeling that it was a great infringement of the rights of private Members.


referring to the count-out on Friday evening last, complained of the unsatisfactory working of the present arrangement, and said it was calculated to have a damaging effect on the character of the House. Hon. Members after the morning sitting were exhausted, and did not get clown to the House in time for the evening meeting, the result being that there was constantly a count-out, and much business of importance was neglected. He would suggest that as a remedy for that state of things, the present plan should be reversed, and the Tuesday and Friday mornings be given to private Members, the evenings being appropriated to Government Business. In that case, the Government would be sure to take care to keep a House.


reminded the House that he at the commencement of the Session made a similar suggestion, without receiving any support. If he could anticipate any encouragement for it, he would with pleasure renew it at the commencement of next Session.


as one of the victims of last Fridays' count, had not noticed the presence of either of the two last right hon. Gentlemen on that occasion. He felt bound to testify to the fact that, while there were only three hon. Members on the Opposition side of the House, the Treasury bench was unusually full.


hoped the Government would allow all the Motions of private Members now on the Paper to be disposed of, before the Government took all the time of the House. He also trusted that under no arrangement would undue preference be given to one Member over another.


said, that he would reply to the Question of the hon. Member for Frome (Mr. T. Hughes) to-morrow.


said, he had, in common with other hon. Members, protested against the Two o'clock sittings when introduced by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckinghamshire (Mr. Disraeli) as tending to the utter destruction of the rights of private Members. Under the arrangement that was made it was not merely a matter of courtesy for the Government to keep a House, but it was their duty—a duty, moreover, which could be performed by no one else. The fact, however, was, that the sittings were so late that hon. Members could not come down again after adjourning at 7 o'clock. He hoped that before long Parliament would abrogate the Standing Order, and restore the constitutional right of redressing grievances before voting Supplies.


thought the Government ought to fix a day for the Indian Budget, before they gave one for the Bill of the hon. Member for East Surrey.

Question put, and agreed to.