HC Deb 04 April 1876 vol 228 cc1181-5

With the permission of the House I will put a Question to the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury as to the arrangement of Public Business. The right hon. Gentleman stated yesterday that, subject to the progress of Business, he proposed that the House should rise at the conclusion of the Sitting on Monday next. I think it will be convenient to the House if the right hon. Gentleman can state what Business it is proposed to proceed with during the week, and upon the progress of what Business the arrangement he contemplates will depend. There is also another matter upon which I should like to put a Question. Hon. Members will have observed upon the Paper a Notice, which stands for Thursday, of a Motion by my hon. Friend the Member for Hackney (Mr. Fawcett) for an Address to the Crown on the subject of the Royal Titles. I may take this opportunity of mentioning that my hon. Friend placed this Notice on the Paper without any communication whatever either with me or, so far as I am aware, with any of my hon. Friends who sit near me. At the same time the House will, I am sure, observe that this is a Motion relating to a very important matter; and they will be anxious to know whether it is probable that this Motion will be brought on either before or shortly after the Easter holidays. I understand it is not the wish of my hon. Friend to bring forward the Motion before Easter, unless by not doing so he will lose the opportunity of taking the sense of the House upon the question which he has raised before the issue of the Proclamation contingent upon the passing of the Royal Titles Bill. I should therefore like to ask the the right hon. Gentleman, Whether he can give to the House any information as to the course the Government propose to take with regard to the Royal Proclamation in the event of the Royal Titles Bill becoming law?


I sketched to the House a day or two ago, what I thought would be the probable course of Public Business, and I mentioned how many days were at the command of the Go- vernment. At present we have only two days at our command—Thursday and Monday—that is, provided the House adjourns on Monday night. The business of the Government on those two nights is exceedingly pressing. On Thursday we have to deal with the Budget Resolutions, and on Monday we have to take one of the most important Votes in the Navy Estimates, the nature of which, as the House is aware, will admit of no delay. In that case, even if there were no other considerations, the probable time that we have at our command is very limited, provided we adjourn on Monday. But the noble Lord has introduced another element into consideration, on which I am disposed myself not to favour delay. If the policy of the Government is challenged I think it is much better that we should at once encounter such opposition. And although it is a course extremely inconvenient, and at first sight seems almost impossible, consistently with the plan I have suggested as to the adjournment, to secure a day for the discussion of the Motion of the hon. Member for Hackney, still perhaps we might arrange it if the House assist us. We shall have three days at our command if we can induce those hon. Members who have Motions for Friday to come to our aid. There are eight Motions for Friday, equally divided between the two great Parties in the State. Four of them are Motions by Followers of the noble Lord, and four by Gentlemen who favour the Government with their confidence. I think, under these circumstances, we may possibly, by making an united appeal, induce hon. Gentlemen to assist us. The Motions are all interesting, I admit; but they are not very urgent, and I have no doubt that in the course of the Session, hon. Members will be able to obtain other and favourable opportunities for their discussion. Now, if the eight Members equally divided between the two sides of the House would assist the noble Lord and myself in our common wish to secure a discussion of the Motion of the hon. Member for Hackney, what I would propose would be this—that we should proceed on Thursday with the Budget Resolutions of which I have given Notice; that on Friday, if it is clear, we will take the Motion respecting the Royal Title; and on Monday proceed with the Navy Estimates. If that ar- rangement should be made, the House could adjourn on Monday evening. The Votes must, indeed, be reported on Tuesday, but that is a mere form, and virtually on Monday our sittings will close. We are, however, in the hands of hon. Members; but if the Friends of the noble Lord will assist us in this plan I have no doubt that the great object can be attained of securing a discussion of the Motion of the hon. Member for Hackney, and of adjourning the House at the period I have named.


Mr. Speaker, there is one question which I should like to put to you with respect to the statement just made by the right hon. Gentleman. I understood that you had expressed an opinion that it would not be in Order for my hon. Friend the Member for Hackney to bring forward the Motion of which he has given Notice as long as there is any possibility of the Royal Titles Bill being returned for the consideration of this House. I understand that the Bill will not pass its final stage in "another place" until Friday. Therefore, I should be glad to know, in the event of hon. Members complying with the request of the right Gentleman, whether it would be competent for my hon. Friend to bring forward his Motion on that day?


It is contrary to the practice of this House to consider any Resolution bearing upon a Bill before the other House of Parliament until that Bill has been read in the other House a third time. The Bill in question is ordered to be read a third time in the other House on Friday next, and if the Motion of the hon. Member for Hackney were to come on that day before the Bill had been read a third time, the whole proceeding would be contrary to the practice of this House. The Motion of the hon. Member for Hackney could not properly be entertained until the Bill had been read a third time. I may be permitted to point out to the House that as on Friday the House has, by Standing Order, fixed the Committee of Supply as the First Order of the Day, the Navy Estimates might, for the convenience of the House, be taken on that day, and the Motion of the hon. Member for Hackney on the following Monday.


I have no objection to substitute Monday for Friday for the Motion of the hon. Member for Hackney. From what I have heard I imagine that the Bill might arrive in time for the hon. Member for Hackney's Motion; but I shall have great pleasure, as I have said, in substituting Monday for Friday, provided the Government have the same assistance from the Friends of the noble Lord which I count on from Gentlemen on this side. Otherwise, it will not be in our power to do it.


expressed his acknowledgments to the Prime Minister for enabling him to bring forward his Motion on Monday.


asked whether it was the understanding that hon. Members should have an opportunity of bringing forward their Motions on the Navy Estimates?


said, he had a Motion on the Paper for Friday with regard to the Suez Canal, and he postponed that with the greatest possible reluctance, and only on the understanding that the Government would give him an opportunity of bringing on his Motion before the negotiations which had taken place between Colonel Stokes and M. de Lesseps were brought to the knowledge of the general meeting of the shareholders in Paris.


My hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch will, as far as I can judge, have an opportunity of raising a discussion on the Suez Canal. I would express a hope that if the Motion of the hon. Member for Hackney is to be brought forward on Monday it will be concluded that night. I may remind the House that the subject is one on which many hon. Members have expressed their opinions.


asked whether the Navy Votes would be reported on Monday or Tuesday?


said, on Monday.


To prevent any possibility of misunderstanding I will just point out that there are one or two Members not present for whom it is impossible for me or any one else to speak positively until we have communicated with them about their Motions on Friday. Of course, I will do what lies in my power to facilitate what appears to be the wish of the House on this subject. But what I principally rose for was to point out what I understood to be our position, in order that there may be no misconception about it. I understand that on Friday the Navy Estimates will be taken, and that we shall be in exactly the same position as if those Estimates were to be taken on Monday; that is to say, any Motion relative to naval affairs which might have been moved on the Speaker's leaving the Chair on Monday would be equally entitled to be moved on the Speaker's leaving the Chair on Friday.


Our object is, at all events, to obtain the necessary Vote.