§ MR. HEYGATE
, in rising to move—That, except for a Money Bill, no Order of the Day or Notice of Motion be taken after half-past twelve of the clock at night, with respect to which Order or Notice of Motion a Notice of Opposition or Amendment shall have been printed on the Notice Paper, or if such Notice of Motion shall only have been given the next previous day of sitting, and objection shall he taken when such Notice is called,expressed his regret at the absence from the present House of Commons of Colonel Wilson Patten, Sir George Grey, Mr. Bouverie, and Mr. Collins, who were so conversant with the business of that Chamber and had boon accustomed to take so active a part in its proceedings. There was, he added, nothing of a party character in his Motion, as it merely sought to provide that important measures of legislation should not be passed at inordinately late hours. A Resolution to secure that object had been unanimously agreed to by the Committee which sat to consider the question in 1872, and were the present only another Session of the late Parliament he should hardly deem it necessary to trouble the House at any length in support of his proposal. But, as there were now in the House of Commons over 200 new Members, it might be desirable that he should state the reasons which had led to the adoption of the Rule with regard to the hour after which Opposed Business could not be taken, which prevailed last Session. Previous to 1870, great and increasing difficulty had arisen owing to the uncertainty as to what business would come on for discussion on a particular night, and the number of Orders—sometimes 30 or 40—which stood on the Notice Paper without the slightest probability that they would be proceeded with. The late nights to which the House had become accustomed were attended with a variety of inconveniences. Among these was the practice of hon. Members obstructing the business by moving alternate Motions for the adjournment of the House and for the 271 adjournment of the debate into an advanced hour in the morning, giving rise to exhibitions which had been commented on out-of-doors in terms by no means favourable to the character of the House. At those late hours the business was very badly got through, and Bills had to be introduced in the subsequent Sessions to remedy the defects of such perfunctory legislation. Among other disadvantages attending those late hours was the fact that all the speeches delivered then were entirely smothered. There was no need to complain of the conduct of the gentlemen in the Gallery in the matter, as the morning newspapers were published at an early hour, and it was impossible that speeches delivered at advanced hours could be reported at any length, so that Members in speaking at these late hours were simply wasting their eloquence. With regard to the practice of moving alternately the adjournment of the House and the adjournment of the debate, Members who had sat in the last Parliament would recollect one sitting at which there were 11 divisions after midnight, and another when there were no fewer than 14 divisions on Motions of that sort, and that on one occasion the House sat until 4 o'clock in the morning, while on another occasion it sat until a quarter past 5 o'clock in the morning. The result was that a Select Committee was appointed to consider the question, which came to an unanimous decision in favour of a Resolution which he had taken on the foundation of that which he was now about to submit to the House. The late Speaker of the House of Commons (Viscount Ossington) and the Chief Clerk of the House (Sir Erskine May) were examined before that Committee, and the former gave it as his opinion that nine hours' consecutive work—from 4, the hour at which the House met, till 1 o'clock next morning—were as much as any deliberative Assembly ought to be called upon to perform. It should also be borne in mind that a large proportion of hon. Members sat on Committees upstairs from 11 till 4, nor must the fact be forgotten that morning sittings were held for a considerable part of the Session. The late Speaker added that the protracted Sittings of the House till late in the morning resulted in turning what ought to be a most honourable service into an almost intolerable slavery, 272 and that, in his opinion, the practice was highly reprehensible; nor did he think such self-sacrifice on the part of the House received the approbation of the country. He would appeal to the House to say whether there had not been a vast improvement wrought by the Resolution which he now proposed to have renewed. An exception had been made in regard to Money Bills, which it might be necessary, in the interests of the public service, to have immediately attended to; and it had also been determined that opposition should, for the purposes of the Resolution, not be counted as such when it sprang up at the moment and without Notice, as in that case anyone might have it in his power to stop the progress of a Bill. In this form, which had the approval of the late Prime Minister, the Resolution was unanimously approved by the House in 1872. Last year, when the question was again debated, there was an almost unanimous approval of the new arrangement; the late Prime Minister gave important testimony in favour of it saying that "on the whole, and in spite of certain disadvantages, it had worked to the comfort and relief of a really overt asked House;" and by 191 votes against 37 the Resolution was again passed. He had been urged by hon. Friends on both sides of the House not to be contented with the Resolution as it stood, but to propose the adoption of it in the form recommended by the Select Committee, which would have carried the restriction very much further; but it seemed to him he was adopting a prudent course which deserved to meet with support when he confined himself to asking hon. Members merely to re-affirm the Resolution, which had received the approval of the late Prime Minister, and which had tended greatly to diminish both scandals and discomfort attending the proceedings of the House. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving his Resolution.
, in seconding the Motion, repeated what he had ventured to assert on former occasions, that there was no Legislative Assembly in the world which kept such disreputable hours as the House of Commons. If they looked at the Assemblies of France, Prussia, Austria, and Italy, they found them finishing their legislative work at some hour between 6 and 10, except when there was a prolonged debate on 273 some important Ministerial question. Such early hours conduced to the sustained and zealous attendance of Members, and consequently he believed to the general benefit of the country. On this principle he regarded the Rule now proposed as one which tended to the advantage of the country as well as to the comfort of hon. Members: because he was convinced that the measures which had in years past been carried through the House at very late hours had been in nearly all cases slovenly, and in many very unsatisfactory, the result having been, as pointed out by the hon. Member, that many Amendment Bills had been rendered necessary. If hon. Members would think for a moment, they would see that the time which would be devoted to the Business of the House under the Rule now submitted would still be amply sufficient to meet the largest demands for legislative employment. An hon. Member would have to come to the House at 12, and sit on a Committee till 4, keeping his attention concentrated upon the business before him; and then from half-past-1 till half-past 12 he would have eight more hours for the consideration of important public business. If any hon. Member found this demand upon his energies insufficient, he must be a very uncommon man. The majority of hon. Members did not belong to such a class, and, as a general rule, the power of attending to business had disappeared by so late an hour as half-past 12. He had constantly been told, out of the House, that legislation carried late at night was bad, and that it was the duty of Members to their constituents to oppose as strongly as they could such a way of doing business. This Resolution was an instalment of reform in the right direction, and was framed in a reasonable spirit, which ought to commend it to all hon. Members. There was another important consideration to be urged in favour of the proposition. It often happened that hon. Members, when they took part in the debates, desired to speak to their constituents as well as to the House; but no speech that he could remember on a fresh subject of importance commenced after midnight, was ever reported, the gentlemen in the reporters' Gallery, who did their work so well, being precluded from doing so by the 274 obvious reason, among others, that it would be impossible to publish at 6 o'clock speeches delivered at 2 or 3 o'clock. The considerations he had urged were, he thought, sufficient to recommend the Motion, and he trusted that the House would not be misled by the dulcet tones of the hon. and learned Member who was expected to oppose it.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That, except for a Money Bill, no Order of the Bay or Notice of Motion be taken after half-past Twelve of the clock at night, with respect to which Order or Notice of Motion a Notice of Opposition or Amendment shall have been printed on the Notice Paper, or if such Notice of Motion shall only have been given the next previous day of sitting, and objection shall be taken when such Notice is called."—(Mr. Heggate.)
MR. OSBORNE MORGAN
, in rising to move as an Amendment—That, in the opinion of this House, the time allotted by the rides of the House to the consideration of the Bills introduced by private Members is already insufficient for the due discussion of the same, and ought not to be further restricted,complained that he was an old victim of the system now sought to be re-established. In fact, he had always understood that one of the objects for which it was originally introduced was to shelve a Bill (the Burials Bill) which in happier days he had the honour of submitting to the House. Fortunately or unfortunately, the House would not be called upon to consider that Bill this Session, and he might, therefore, be regarded as approaching the present subject with disinterested, he hoped oven with patriotic feelings. The short ground on which he opposed the Motion was that it seemed to him to aim a deathblow at the rights of private Members to legislate at all, and he could only regard the fact that the Motion had been carried in the last two Sessions by the votes of private Members as either a high tribute to the eloquence of its supporters or as a proof of the extreme complacency of those whose rights were so prejudicially affected. On the first working night of the present Session Notice was given by private Members of the introduction of no less than 25 Bills. Many of them were of great importance, ranging over the whole area of human interest, from married women to ancient monuments. Sixteen more, he thought, had been added to the number, 275 and the cry was "Still they come." He was sure that before the Easter Vacation they would have as many as between 30 and 60 private Members' Bills. Now, for these Bills how much time had they? Tuesdays and Fridays were in a sense private Members' nights; but they were devoted to the airing of grievances and to matters not directly connected with legislation. As a matter of fact, the Orders of the Day had rarely been reached on these nights by half-past 12. Whether this would continue to be the case now that the hon. Member for Whitehaven (Mr. Cavendish Bentinck) had crossed the gangway and taken a seat in the seclusion and silence of the Treasury Bench he did not know, but there was reason to fear that it would. The only other day left to private Members was Wednesday, when it was imperative that discussions should be brought to a close before 6 o'clock; and he calculated that, after deducting holidays—sporting and ecclesiastical—there would be just 10 Wednesdays left during the remainder of the Session for the second reading, Committee stage, and third reading of private Members' Bills. He found that until the 15th of July every Wednesday had already been disposed of; therefore it would be impossible for any private Member to carry a Bill which was opposed by a single other Member. Such a state of things never existed in that House until within the last two years, or, he believed, in any other House except the Polish Diet before the disintegration of that unfortunate kingdom. In 1872, he brought in a Bill to afford further facilities for the conveyance of Land for Sites for Places of Worship, &c. That Bill met with, he was going to say, universal approbation; but the hon. Gentleman the Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate) thought he discovered in it a scheme to undermine the Protestant religion, and that he (Mr. Osborne Morgan) was playing unconsciously into the hands of the Jesuits. The hon. Member refused to allow him to go on with his Bill unless he consented to the insertion of a clause—namely,And such trust deeds, together with the names of the trustees for the time being, shall be enrolled in the High Court of Chancery.Knowing that deeds could not be enrolled without expense, and that even if they were enrolled their enrolment would 276 prove no protection to the Protestant interest, he opposed the clause; but the hon. Member said—" Take the Bill with my clause or not at all; I have the power of preventing the passing of the Bill, which I will exercise." [Mr. NEWDEGATE dissented.] The hon. Member intimated dissent; but when he (Mr. Osborne Morgan) came down to the House, he found that the hon. Member had given Notice that on the Motion for going into Committee on the Bill he would move the postponement of the Committee for six months. The Bill could not have been passed if he had not allowed the clause of the hon. Member to be inserted, and the Bill passed with that clause in it. "When the Bill reached the other house one noble and learned Lord said he never saw anything more ridiculous than that clause in his life; and another said he could not conceive how any man of common sense, much loss a lawyer, could have inserted such a clause. In the end the Bill was thrown out with expressions of contumely. The next year he brought in the Bill without the clause of the hon. Member. When the Bill reached Committee he shook in his shoes at the thought of the hon. Member; but fortunately he had been so much engaged on his Monastic and Conventual Institutions Bill that he fell asleep, and while he was in that condition he (Mr. Osborne Morgan) carried his Bill through Committee. And yet, notwithstanding, the Queen was still on the Throne, the Jesuits were where they were, and he had the satisfaction of knowing that he was the the only man in England who had ever caught the hon. Member for North Warwickshire asleep. Mr. Hibbert, who, he hoped, would soon return to the House, had told him more than once that he could not have carried his Clerical Disabilities Bill—that most useful measure, which had been found to work so well—if this Rule had been in operation. Bather than allow matters to remain as they were by reason of the existence of the Rule he would prefer having a veto put on private Members legislating at all, and thus throw upon the Executive in every case the initiative of legislation. He agreed that many Acts of Parliament were drawn in a slovenly manner; but he agreed that a great number were spoiled in their passage through the House by the process of "squaring" opposition, which this 277 Rule encouraged. The Bill which the hon. and learned Member for Sal-ford (Mr. Charley) carried for amending the law of bastardy was spoilt through his consenting to the insertion of a clause which repealed the old law six months before the new came into operation, and the result of which was that for six months the unfortunate victims for whose protection the Bill was introduced were loft without any remedy. The arguments in favour of the Rule turned upon the supposition that under this regulation the House did not sit so late as in former years; but that was an entire mistake. During 1870 and 1871, when this Rule was not in operation in the House, the hours of sitting after midnight were respectively 130 and 143. During 1872, when the Rule came into operation, the House sat 142 hours after midnight, or only one hour less than in the previous year, and 12 hours more than in 1870. These statistics were sufficient to deprive of all force the argument of his hon. Friend. The Rule tended to make the Sittings later by inducing Members to talk against time, and it acted as a direct premium on loquacity. That had happened twenty times within his own knowledge. For all these reasons he would give a determined opposition to the Motion of his hon. Friend. The labours of the Session were not likely to be very arduous, and he did not see why the Prime Minister should not consent to give to private Members portions of Mondays and Thursdays. They had been told that the mission of the present Government was to protect the just rights of all Her Majesty's subjects, and surely legislators had a right to legislate. The hon. and learned Gentleman concluded by moving his Amendment.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, the hon. and learned Member for Denbighshire (Mr. Osborne Morgan) seemed determined that he should not agree with him. Unfortunately for the hon. and learned Member, he did not agree with him in the substance of his Amendmont; but as he (Mr. Newdegate) also agreed with the Motion before the House he could not vote for the Amendment in supercession of the original Motion.
§ MR. DILLWYN
then rose to second 278 the Amendment, though not on the grounds set forth by the hon. and learned Member for Denbighshire (Mr. Osborne Morgan) in proposing it. He objected to the Rule, in the interest, not of private Members, but of legislation generally, and because it tended to produce "lobby legislation," instead of proper discussion and legislation in that House. The meaning of that was, that when Private Bills were opposed, the parties interested retired into the lobby, and, having arranged their differences, the objectionable clauses in them were amended and agreed to, and the Bills passed without any further opposition. Now, to that mode of proceeding he had a decided objection. He did not find fault with the system of throwing out many Bills brought forward by private Members, because sometimes the Government took up the questions, and it was for the public interest necessary that they should do so. For his own part, he had no great reason to complain of the Rule; for although it had given him a good deal of trouble, he had succeeded in passing an important measure in spite of it; but he objected to the Rule on behalf of business in the hands of Government. The Government were at all times anxious to get their Bills through the House before the end of July, and on account of this Rule had to compromise with private Members who had Amendments on them. They had to go into the lobby and square up with those private Members, and clauses were thus passed which were objectionable, and would not have been passed had they been discussed in the House. That, he believed, was a bad habit. The existing Rule of the House was clearly insufficient, and he should therefore vote for its repeal to prevent this "lobby legislation." He thought it would be well to add to the original Motion words providing that the Resolution should not apply to money Bills or those which had passed through Committee.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "in the opinion of this House, the time allotted by the Rules of the House to the consideration of Bills introduced by private Members is already insufficient for the due discussion of the same and ought not to be further restricted,"—(Mr. Osborne Morgan,)
§ —instead thereof,279
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, that having taken a very active part in the deliberations of the Committee on Public Business last appointed by the House, it was not likely that he should now oppose the Rule. He thought, however, it was doubtful whether it ought to be brought into operation very early in the Session. So sensible was he of the evil which the Rule was originally intended to obviate, that he should not oppose his hon. Friend the Member for Leicestershire (Mr. Heygate) on the present occasion; but he thought the subject-matter of the Amendment ought to be treated separately. The hon. and learned Member (Mr. Osborne Morgan) had cited the instance of a Bill he himself introduced. It was a measure for the purchase of sites for religious worship. He (Mr. Newdegate) moved a clause providing for the enrolment of the deeds, and the House sanctioned it; the House of Lords threw out the clause for enrolment, and the hon. and learned Member accused him of being asleep the next Session when the Bill was re-introduced, because he did not insist on the insertion of the same clause. The hon. and learned Member gave him no credit, however, for having yielded to the decision of the House of Lords. He was by no means asleep; but he thought the subject of enrolment ought to be dealt with by another Bill. Certainly it could not be said of the hon. and learned Member himself, aliquando dormitat, for at that moment he was prepared to prevent the Souse from ever going to bed. The opportunities given to private Members for bringing forward their measures were not sufficient. Within a week of the opening of the business of the Session, every Wednesday was filled up to the 15th of July. Some limit should be placed on this reaching forward of hon. Members to seize Wednesdays for the second reading of their Bills. The Rule preventing Members from choosing a day for Notices of Motion beyond a fortnight, might be advantageously applied to second readings of Bills on Wednesdays. He should support the Motion.
§ MR. DODSON
said, he would not discuss the practices of foreign assemblies. He would only say that if the majority were going to follow the precedent of the Polish Diet, and kill the minority, he hoped they would, at least, 280 allow the hon. Member (Mr. Osborne Morgan) to pass his Burials Bill first. He was not originally in favour of the Resolution. He was a Member of the Committee of 21, to which the Mover of the Resolution alluded; but he was not present when its recommendation was agreed to, nor had he voted in support of the Rule adopted in the House. His own feeling had always been that, as a general rule, these matters were best left to the good sense of Parliament, and that liberty ought not to be too much restricted. This particular Rule was open to several objections. It did not allow any particular measure to be talked out, as on Wednesdays, but it enabled anyone to shelve a measure successfully by talking on the preceding Bill till half-past 12 o'clock. It was a sound maxim that vigilentibus non dormientibus leges subveniunt; but this Rule reversed the maxim, because any somnolent Member had only to place on the Paper a Notice of objection to a measure, and provided he made sure that the discussion on the preceding Bill would be proceeded with beyond half-past 12, he might go home early to bed. It was not, therefore, a Rule the stringency of which he should like to see increased. As regarded the Motion which had now been made, he was not prepared to offer any opposition to it. A Rule of this kind had been approved by a Committee of the House—this Rule was unanimously agreed to by the House itself in 1872—and was confirmed by a large majority, after experience of its operation, in 1873. Thus a new Parliament might well give it a trial, but it should be adopted as a Sessional Order, not a Standing Order, so that it would call for re-consideration at the commencement of next Session. The statement that this Rule had occasioned the defects in the Bill of the hon. and learned Member for Salford (Mr. Charley) seemed a post hoc propter hoc argument; for his part he could not connect the two things. Be this as it might, the House could hardly go far wrong in adopting the Rule experimentally.
§ MR. DISRAELI
said, that, generally speaking, he was very little disposed to curtail the privileges of private Members. This question had been considered by Committees, and often by the House. In the Committee of 1871, of which he 281 was a Member, the principle of limiting the privileges of Members in this respect to a certain part of the night, was brought forward by Mr. Bouverie—a name always to be mentioned with respect in that House—and as to the conduct of its business a high authority, to whom he had no doubt they should often appeal. Mr. Bonverie's proposal was that the Rule should take effect at 1 o'clock. The hon. Member (Mr. Newdegate) submitted, as an Amendment, that it should take effect at half-past 12. The question was discussed by a strong Committee, and a large majority—if he remembered rightly, 15 to 4—decided in favour of the proposal of the hon. Member for North Warwickshire, which he himself had the honour of supporting. On the whole, experience had shown the Rule to be satisfactory. No doubt some instances might be quoted in which its exercise had been not exactly vexatious, but disappointing, to some Members; but, on the whole, the feeling of the last House had been favourable to the Rule, though he quite agreed that it would be prudent to pass it only as a Sessional Order. At the same time, a suggestion had been made by the hon. Member (Mr. Dillwyn) which seemed worthy of consideration—namely, that this Rule should not apply to the third reading of Bills. He thought such a modification would not interfere with the general spirit of the Rule, while it would prevent the vexatious exercise of it in the case of third readings, and remove some of the objections urged against it. The same feeling which induced him to support-in the Select Committee the proposal of the hon. Member for Warwickshire would now induce him to support the Motion before the House; but he wished his hon. Friend (Mr. Heygate) would alter the Motion, excepting from the operation of the Rule Money Bills or Bills which had passed through Committee.
§ MR. BERESFORD HOPE
said, he thought it would be better to adopt the Rule as it had come down from the last Parliament, leaving for future consideration the question whether the modification just suggested should be adopted next year. The result of the modification would simply be that the good nature of Members would end at an earlier period than it did now, and Bills would not be allowed to go through Committee. The Rule seemed to him to work very 282 well as it was, and he hoped it would pass without alteration.
§ SIR FRANCIS GOLDSMID
remarked that no private Member could pass a Bill which was opposed with anything like strength. They had tried the operations of the Act as it stood, and had been made aware of its stringency, and if they tried a modification they would be better able to form a judgment upon the matter.
§ MR. HENLEY
said, he thought the simple question was, not whether the time for private legislation should be restricted, but whether the little time available for business after half-past 12 should be used or wasted. Those who had to do with the little hours knew that half a dozen Members might move the adjournment, and that one or two hours might be pleasantly spent in walking through the lobbies. Any man could always get three or four men, as wicked as himself, to act with him. That was sheer waste of time; whereas under this Rule what was done after half-past 12 really advanced business. He thought it would make little difference whether the question was to be settled by a Standing Order or a Sessional Order. What they wanted was to save time, and he believed the mode proposed would have that effect,
§ MR. MUNDELLA
said, he hoped the hon. and learned Member for Denbighshire (Mr. Osborne Morgan) would withdraw his Amendment and accept the suggestion made by the hon. Member for Swansea (Mr. Dillwyn), and approved by the Prime Minister. He knew many cases in which the Rule in question had worked very injuriously, and "squaring" led to bad legislation. In one instance an Irish Member introduced a Bill which would enable money to be borrowed at 3A per cent to build mansions in Ireland. He put a Notice on the Paper of his intention to move that the Bill be read a second time in three months. What did the hon. Member do? He gave Notice of an Amendment to a Bill of his (Mr. Mundella's), and then went off to Ireland for three weeks. In another case a Bill of his for the protection of children was treated in the same way; an hon. Member gave Notice of an Amendment, and then went off to Wales. The maintenance of the Rule as it stood would cause great inconvenience and irritation to hon. Members; it would 283 work still harder on the hardworking Members, whilst it would allow the indolent to go comfortably home to bed.
§ MR. MOWBRAY
said, he hoped the hon. Member for Leicestershire (Mr. Heygate) would take the sense of the House upon the proposition, because he (Mr. Mowbray) believed that great evil and much injury to health were consequent upon transacting business at such very late hours. The Rule was one on which all who were Members of the last Parliament had abundant experience. They had been recommended by the hon. Member for Chester (Mr. Dodson) to trust to the good sense of Members. Some years ago, when they had Mr. Brotherton in the House, and he endeavoured to enforce a 12 o'clock rule, they were also told not to tie their hands, but to trust to the good sense of the House. But when Mr. Brotherton was gone, and they came to rely on that vague thing, the good sense of the House, it broke down. They had experience of late hours in 1869 and 1870, and found how prejudicial those prolonged sittings were to the health of Members; while, on the other hand, the Rule now proposed had been sanctioned by a large majority of the Committee in 1871, and found to work satisfactorily in 1872 and 1873. He would point out to his right hon. Friend at the head of the Government that the modification which he approved would have a very sensible effect in limiting the operation of the Rule; and it should be remembered that the interpretation put on the Rule by the authorities of the House had already very considerably restricted its operation. It was at first very generally understood that the Rule would operate against Amendments in Committee; but it was decided that once the Speaker left the Chair, it would not apply to such Amendments. And now, if hon. Members were not allowed to take an objection to the Report or to the third reading, the Rule would be efficacious only in two instances—the second reading and the Motion for going into Committee. He hoped, therefore, the House would affirm a Rule which had been found to be efficacious, which had contributed to the health and convenience of Members, and had been tried and worked satisfactorily for the two past years.
§ SIR GEORGE BOWYER
said, it seemed to be assumed that all the bad 284 legislation was after 12 o'clock; but there was a great deal of bad legislation at the dinner hour, and after dinner. There was of late years a growing tendency to limit the opportunities of private Members for carrying Bills through the House; and if that limitation were carried much further hon. Members would cease to have any independent power of legislation, and they would become simply an Assembly to decide upon the measures which were brought forward by the Government. The question was realty one of constitutional importance. Some years ago he passed through Parliament a Bill which now regulated all Roman Catholic charities in this country. This measure was bitterly opposed by the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate), and if the limit as to half-past 12 had been then in force, the Bill, with such opposition, could never have been carried at all. That showed the inconvenience that might arise from giving to any one Member a power absolutely to stop the proceedings of another.
§ MR. HEYGATE
said, he felt it impossible to accept the suggestion approved by the high authority of the Prime Minister. It would entirely emasculate a Resolution which had been approved by the Committee of 1871, which had worked well for two years, and which had found acceptance on both sides of the House. The fact was, instead of limiting the operation of the Rule, he had been pressed to go in a very different direction.
§ MR. KNATCHBULL-HUGESSEN
believed, as far as he could ascertain the sentiments of hon. Gentlemen in his immediate neighbourhood, that they were inclined to support the modification recommended by the Prime Minister; but he hoped the hon. and learned Member for Denbighshire (Mr. Osborne Morgan) would first withdraw his Amendment. As far as he could judge, the Prime Minister was making a concession to private Members which ought to be accepted. With respect to the general question, he thought a great deal too much had been made of the interests of private Members; because, as a matter of fact, they had arrived at a state of things in this country when the Government must reflect the public opinion, and the measures introduced by the Government were those measures upon which the 285 public opinion most demanded legislation. And, moreover, as soon as the Government launched a measure in the House—he did not say whether the measure was right or wrong—it became the property of the House, and any private Member had as much right to speak upon it as the Government. Any measure backed by a strong force of public opinion was sure to obtain a hearing, and the late hours which prevailed prior to the Rule were detrimental to the health of Members. Some of the best men in the country always occupied the Treasury Bench, whatever party was in power, and he had often seen them detained to a very late hour of night, to the waste of their time and energies, by Gentlemen who, though estimable, proposed measures backed by no force of public opinion. The real truth was, that it was impossible to do business in an Assembly of 650 persons except by the exercise of great self-restraint and mutual forbearance. The proposed restriction was, he thought, wise and salutary, and he would support it with the Prime Minister's modification. He would suggest the withdrawal of the Amendment. ["No, no!"]
§ MR. HORSMAN
said, he saw no difficulty in arriving at the conclusion evidently favoured by the general feeling of the House. His hon. Friend (Mr. Dillwyn) had suggested a modification which the Prime Minister had very judiciously accepted, and his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Osborne Morgan) proposed to withdraw his Amendment in its favour. There appeared to be an objection to such withdrawal; but, if so, it could be negatived, and then, on the Main Question being put, his hon. Friend could propose the proviso as an addendum.
MR. OSBORNE MORGAN
said, that if the House would permit him he would withdraw his Amendment. ["No."]
§ Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question," put, and agreed to.
§ Main Question proposed.
To add, at the end thereof, the words, "Provided, that this Rule shall not apply to any Bill which has passed through Committee of the House."—(Mr. Dillwyn.)
§ MR. GOLDSMID
asked whether such a proviso was in Order? The House had 286 already resolved that the Resolution as it stood should be the Question put, and the proviso was in contradiction to the the words, "except for a Money Bill."
§ MR. ROEBUCK
said, he thought that there was no doubt whatever that the words could be added. All that had been determined by the House was that the original Resolution should stand part of the Question before the House. It need not be the whole Question, and though he acknowledged the proviso was rather awkwardly framed, this had resulted from leave to withdraw the original Amendment having been refused.
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, the House had declared that the words proposed by the hon. Member for Leicestershire (Mr. Heygate) should stand part of the Question. It was quite open to any hon. Member to propose the addition of words to the Resolution.
§ Question put, "That those words be there added."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 275; Noes 113: Majority 162.
Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.
Resolved, That, except for a Money Bill, no Order of the Day or Notice of Motion he taken after half-past Twelve of the clock at night, with respect to which Order or Notice of Motion a Notice of Opposition or Amendment shall have been printed on the Notice Paper, or if such Notice of Motion shall only have been given the next previous day of sitting, and objection shall be taken when such Notice is called: Provided, that this Utile shall not apply to any Bill which has passed through Committee of the House.