§ MR. DISRAELI
, in rising to move a Resolution with respect to Supply as the First Order of the Day, said, the result of the Resolution would be to put an end to the numerous and well-founded complaints which had been made by hon. Members on both sides of the House 470 that they never knew when the great Estimates—more particularly those relating to the Army and Navy—were coming on for discussion. Amendments on miscellaneous subjects frequently occupied the whole evening; and hon. Members, after having attended several times, watching for an opportunity of revising or checking the great sources of public expenditure, for those services whose condition was a subject of universal interest, found the opportunity had been lost, and got weary of the disappointment and the uncertainty of the Estimates being discussed. Practically the effect of the Resolution would be that on Monday, and on Monday only, when the Committee of Supply was moved, the Speaker would leave the Chair as a matter of course, and the only Amendments which could be discussed would be those on the subject before the House respecting the Army or Navy. The Resolution had originated with the Committee on Public Business which sat in 1871, and of which he and, he believed, the noble Lord opposite were Members. It was introduced into the House modified, at the suggestion of Mr. Bouverie, a great authority on the Business of the House, who altered the last three lines. It was adopted by the then existing Government as an Order which considerably and beneficially affected the conduct of Business during the remaining years of the last Parliament. The year before last, when the present Government had the responsibility of managing the Business of the House, he did not think it necessary to make a Motion of this kind. This year, however, he wished to adopt the course which was sanctioned by the last Parliament. He was prepared for the complaints that this was an attempt to diminish the privileges of private Members. Generally speaking, he agreed that those privileges ought not to be curtailed, and he had given many instances, not only on that, but also on the other side of the House, of his sympathy with their views in this respect. At the same time the passing of the Estimates was one of the highest duties—if not the highest duty—of Parliament, and it was therefore desirable that they should be passed in a full House. He wished to put an end to that state of things, and he therefore asked the House to revert to the course which 471 their Predecessors had adopted by accepting the Resolution. The right hon. Gentleman concluded by moving the Resolution.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That whenever notice has been given that Estimates will be moved in Committee of Supply, and the Committee stands as the first Order of the Day upon any day except Thursday and Friday, on which Government Orders have precedence, the Speaker shall, when the Order for the Committee has been read, forthwith leave the Chair without putting any Question, and the House shall thereupon resolve itself into such Committee, unless on first going into Committee on the Army, Navy, or Civil Service Estimates respectively an Amendment be moved relating to the division of Estimates proposed to be considered on that day."—(Mr. Disraeli.)
§ MR. BERESFORD HOPE
represented to the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government, that, granting the truth of a great deal of what he had said, it would not be agreeable to the great body of the House to find that a Motion of this sort, which very materially altered the relations of the Government to the House, had been carried at so late an hour at night, under these circumstances, which characterized the original introduction of the innovation in the former Parliament, when 13 Members of the present Government, including some Cabinet Ministers, voted in the minority against it, and the Tellers were the Judge Advocate General and the Under Secretary for Home Affairs. The House during the two last Sessions learned with much satisfaction that the right hon. Gentleman would not persist in the demand, and the disappointment would be proportionately great at so precipitate and high-handed a resumption of the claim. He begged to move the Adjournment of the Debate.
§ MR. GOLDNEY
supported the Motion, on the ground that it would be very convenient for hon. Members to know with certainty when Supply was to be taken.
could not see that there was any such necessity for the House making this sacrifice as the right hon. Gentleman had stated. He hoped the Government proposal would be postponed; if not, he should feel it his duty to support the Amendment.
§ MR. SANDFORD
said, that the effect of the Resolution would be to prevent grievances being brought before that House.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
said, that the Order, convenient as it was to the Government and to independent Members, was not perfect. Neither the late nor, he believed, the present Government wished to hinder Motions on going into Committee of Supply. But, under that Order, only one division could be taken on going into Committee, and thus Members would be precluded from bringing forward their views respecting the various services of the country. He thought the general feeling of the House would be consulted if the Government would undertake that Estimates should not be put down for Mondays, until an opportuuity had been afforded to hon. Members who had given Notice of Motions to bring forward the subjects in which they were interested.
§ MR. BENTINCK
was opposed to an infringement of the rights of private Members, and supported the Amendment.
SIR WALTER BARTIELOT
said, they were all anxious to advance the Business of the House; but as a Member of the Committee which sat on the subject in 1871, he must say that the present proposal of the Government was exactly that made by Mr. Bouverie, and was opposed by many of the Committee, but eventually carried. He had the same objection to it now as he had then, and he thought a fair compromise would be—which he hoped his right hon. Friend the Prime Minister would accept—that only matters relating to the Estimates set down for discussion should be brought forward.
§ MR. DISRAELI
thought the difficulty that had been suggested would be obviated by omitting the word "first," before "Order of the Day."
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. Beresford Hope.)
§ The House divided:—Ayes 44; Noes 136: Majority 92.
§ Question again proposed.
§ SIR GEORGE BOWYER
, speaking seated, said, he was informed that the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Beresford Hope) had brought forward a Motion and had himself voted against it. He appealed to the Speaker to say whether that was in Order?
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, that if, when the Question was put, the hon. Member for Cambridge University gave his vote as he gave his voice, he was in Order.
§ Amendment proposed, in line 7, to leave out the word "first."—(Mr. Secretary Hardy.)
§ MR. BERESFORD HOPE
explained that, a suggestion having been made from the Treasury Bench before the division, which considerably modified the Resolution, he had acted on the principle that half a loaf was better than no bread. The omission of the word "first" made it a very different state of things from that which had been forced on the House by the late Government. Their plan only enabled three Motions to be made on Supply Mondays through the entire Session. As it was proposed now, on every Monday of the Session, when Supply was brought forward, opportunity was also given for a grievance being brought forward germane to the particular Supply which stood on the Paper. By a little management, and by reserving military, naval, and Civil Service questions for these days, and allowing other matters to be brought on upon Tuesdays and Fridays, private Members would find themselves very fairly provided with legitimate opportunities for raising needful questions.
§ MR. DISRAELI
said, that the effect of the Resolution, if agreed to, would be to prevent morning sittings as much as possible; and it was at the beginning of the Session that its true value could be best appreciated.
§ Question, "That the word 'first' stand part of the Question," put, and negatived.
Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.
Ordered, That whenever notice has been given that Estimates will he moved in Committee of Supply, and the Committee stands as the first Order of the Day upon any day except Thursday and Friday, on which Government Orders have precedence, the Speaker shall, when the Order for the Committee has been read, forth with leave the Chair without putting any Question, and the House shall thereupon resolve itself into such Committee, unless on going into Committee on the Army, Navy, or Civil Service
Estimates respectively an Amendment he moved relating to the division of Estimates proposed to he considered on that day.