HC Deb 13 March 1873 vol 214 cc1909-13

I have to announce, Sir, to the House that, in consequence of the division which took place at an early hour yesterday morning, Her Majesty's Ministers have thought it their duty respectfully to tender to Her Majesty the resignation of the offices which they hold. Her Majesty has been graciously pleased to accept those resignations. Under those circumstances, the House will, I think, feel, in conformity with its usual practice, that my duty will best be discharged by proposing to the House that they should adjourn for a few days to give time for the necessary arrangements. I will therefore, Sir, submit a Motion, that this House at its rising do adjourn till Monday next; but if when Monday shall have arrived it should appear that the public interests require it, I shall not at all scruple to trespass upon its patience by then asking for a further adjournment.


The House is aware that I have a Notice of Motion standing for to-day, in which great interest is taken—namely, the Motion relating to Emanuel Hospital; and it is also aware that if that Motion is not submitted this evening I shall lose the opportunity of taking the opinion of the House upon the scheme of the Endowed Schools Commissioners for the management of Emanuel Hospital, within the time prescribed by law. Under these circumstances I expect my right hon. Friend below me, when he moves the adjournment of the House at its rising, to inform the House whether it is his intention to submit any proposal for the purpose of relieving me and others from the dilemma in which we shall be placed if the Motion with regard to Emanuel Hospital be not proceeded with this evening. My right hon. Friend gave me a distinct assurance on Tuesday afternoon, when I waived my opportunity of then submitting my Motion to the House, that if any circumstances should arise to prevent my bringing forward that Motion this evening he would take care that the position of the question was in no way damnified. I have come down to the House fully prepared to submit my Motion to the consideration of the House. It will be, I think, for the House itself to determine whether they will be pleased to entertain my Motion and come to a decision upon it, unless my right hon. Friend should be prepared on the part of the Government to announce any other mode of relieving me from the difficulty in which I am placed.


My hon. Friend is perfectly right in saying that my right hon. Friend informed him that, in consideration of his kindly waiving his right to bring forward his Motion with regard to Emanuel Hospital last Tuesday, we would undertake, even if it were difficult or inexpedient for that Motion to come on to-day, that he should not thereby be put in a worse position. It is quite true that the 40 days contemplated by the Act for an Address by either House of Parliament expire next Monday; and therefore it would be incumbent upon us either to proceed with the consideration of the question this evening, or to take steps by which it could fairly be brought before the House in time for its opinion to be expressed before Her Majesty was asked to give Her gracious consent. I think it would be unadvisable, both on account of previous precedents, and perhaps from the disposition of both sides of the House, to enter into the question to-day, and I am prepared at once to give Notice of a Bill to enlarge the 40 days to four months, which would give plenty of time to bring forward the Motion. The hon. Member for Suffolk (Mr. Corrance) has also given Notice of an Address with regard to a very small endowment of a school at Barking—but not on that account an unimportant one, and I should propose to include that endowment also in the Schedule of this short Bill. I therefore beg to give Notice, that I shall on Monday ask for leave to introduce this Bill, and as it will be of a formal nature, I think I may rely upon the House supporting me in carrying it quickly through.


I would suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that, perhaps, it might be convenient to include all the schemes.


said, the Bill would apply to those schemes with respect to which Notice of Motion for an Address had been given—that was to say, not only Emanuel Hospital, but two or three charities, and the School at Barking.


I believe, Sir, I am in order in speaking to the Motion for Adjournment; and at so interesting a crisis as this, I do not propose to enter into any question of Emanuel College. But, Sir, I cannot help thinking that the few words of information which have been afforded to the House by the right hon. Gentleman—I suppose I may say "late at the head of Her Majesty's Government"—are so scant, that I think the House would be inclined to hear—the resignation having been received, as we understand, by Her Majesty—whom the right hon. Gentleman has recommended Her Majesty to entrust with the formation of a new Government. Now, Sir, we are, according to my Parliamentary experience, in an unexampled situation. We have heard that the Ministry have resigned, and I must say that I think they have run the ship aground from a most disastrous and wanton want of seamanlike knowledge; and I should like to know to whom the destinies of this country are now to be consigned—whether this is to be a question of real resignation, or whether we are to hear on Monday the old words again, "As you were." In my opinion, the right hon. Gentleman is bound to tell the House and the country whom he has recommended to Her Majesty.


I wish to call back the attention of the House to Emanuel Hospital—I hold the course now proposed to be taken in regard to that endowment to be unconstitutional. Either House of Parliament has the power, by means of an Address to the Crown, of disallowing the scheme of the Commissioners, but if you proceed by Bill in the matter we have no knowledge that the other House will pass that Bill, and we shall be placing the House of Commons in a worse position than it was in before. The question will then require the assent of both Houses, and we are asked to make concessions upon this question which would be an unconstitutional proceeding, because by it the other House might prevent any action being taken by ourselves.


I should not like, Sir, to pass by the Question of my hon. Friend the Member for Waterford (Mr. Osborne), with any appearance of failure in respect to him or any hon. Member of the House who may sympathize with him; but I beg to point out that I have given an account of an important transaction in which we, the existing Government, have, as a Government, been concerned, and my account, brief as it was, has been a complete account. That transaction is accomplished, and if there be further inquiries made, or further questions raised, those inquiries and questions will appertain to a new chapter of Parliamentary history—namely, the chapter of the arrangements which follow upon the resignation of the Government that has held office since 1868.

Motion agreed to.

House at rising to adjourn till Monday next.

Motion made, and Question proposed,

"That this House do now adjourn."—(Mr. Gladstone.)


Sir, before the announcement which we have all heard was made from the Treasury bench by the right hon. Gentleman, I had placed a Notice upon the Table of the House which would appear now to be somewhat out of place; but, in speaking to the Motion for Adjournment, as a supporter of the Government, I think it right to say that that Notice of Motion has received the assent of a large number of Gentlemen on this side of the House; and I shall take the liberty of reading it to the House as the Motion which I may yet submit— That the Vote of the House of Wednesday morning rejecting the Irish University Bill was not, and was not intended to be, a declaration or expression by the House of Want of Confidence in Her Majesty's Government, and that this House takes the earliest opportunity of expressing its confidence in the general policy of Her Majesty's Government.


I hope I may be allowed to intervene for one moment for the purpose of calling the attention of the House to the question of the Committees now sitting upon Private Bills. One of those Committees, of which I have the honour to be Chairman, is engaged in an inquiry as to the merits of a Bill respecting Scotland. It is important to all parties concerned that this Committee should continue sitting without interruption. Under such circumstances, I shall now move that the Committees have leave to sit, notwithstanding the adjournment of the House until Monday, if the right hon. Gentleman will afford me the opportunity of doing so, by withdrawing his Motion for the present.


Then I withdraw say Motion.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.


I now, Sir, move that the Committees on Private Bills have leave to sit, notwithstanding the adjournment of the House until Monday.


In reference to the Motion that the Committees have leave to sit, I rather think—I may, however, be wrong—that, except as regards Private Bills, it is not in accordance with usage. I am in the Chair of two Committees, and I can, with certainty, speak of one of them, that we shall be consulting the convenience of the Members generally if we do not ask them to sit during the adjournment—although, no doubt, it would be a convenience to all those persons immediately concerned who have to come from a long distance if the Committees were to continue sitting.


apprehended that many of the Committees which had sat that day would require to sit on Friday.

Ordered, That all Committees have leave to sit, notwithstanding the adjournment of the House.—(Mr. Gladstone.)


I beg to move that this House do now adjourn.


said, he should like to commit, pro formâ, the Salmon Fisheries Bill, in which some interest was taken, for the purpose of inserting certain Amendments. He moved that the Bill be committed pro formâ


The question before the House is "That the House do now adjourn." The hon. Member cannot interfere with his Motion.

Motion agreed to.

House adjourned at a quarter before Five o'clock, 'till Monday next.