HC Deb 29 February 1876 vol 227 cc1124-6

moved, "That this House do meet To-morrow at Two of the clock."


said, he ventured very respectfully to express a hope that the Motion would not be pressed. Wednesday was always a very short business day, and was much more convenient than the days when the House sat till a late hour; and to-morrow a very important Irish Bill, in which he was sure the Government would take much interest, was on the Paper. He would not interfere between the Government and the Order of Business, were it not that he thought that the First Lord of the Treasury felt himself compelled by long-established custom and his love of precedents to make the Motion; but really there would be no person better pleased than himself if independent Members would support him, and show that there was no necessity for wasting two hours on Wednesday. It was time that they left off coming down with solemn faces and virtuous airs to cut off two hours from business on a Wednesday afternoon, while they knew very well that hon. Members could not speak on the subject to each other in the Lobby without putting on the attitude that was assumed by Roman Augurs towards the decline of the Roman Empire. If they were right in keeping from work for two hours, it was clearly wrong for them to meet at all, and therefore he thought that if there was to be any interruption at all they should get a whole holiday.


said, he hoped before this Motion was put that they might be informed what was the intention of the Government with regard to the Business on Thursday. He understood that the Army Estimates would be the First Order on that day; but, as he saw that the Commons Bill stood first upon the Orders at present, he wished to ask whether it was intended to proceed with the Committee upon the Bill on that day? As the debate upon the second reading was taken at rather a late hour at night, and there was not then a very full discussion, as he understood that there were a very considerable number of Amendments to be moved in Committee, and as the matter was looked upon with great interest both in Parliament and in the country, he hoped that the Committee would be taken at a time when the subject could be fully discussed. He also wished to know when the second reading of the Royal Titles Bill would be taken?


said, his hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor General for Ireland had already postponed the second reading of an important Irish Bill to the 23rd. Between this and the 23rd of March many Irish Members would be obliged to be absent, and what he wished to ask was that the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government would not allow any Irish business to be taken for the next fortnight or three weeks. [Laugher.] He could not understand the laughter of hon. Members opposite, who might think it unreasonable if Irish Members asked them to come over to Ireland during the English Assizes, and who never seemed to consider any Irish subject except in the light of a bore.


The Army Estimates will come on on Thursday, and I thought it was clearly understood by the House that such had been decided upon. In case the Estimates occupied the whole evening, we should not ordinarily think of going on with the Commons Inclosure Bill. However, we feel there has not been sufficient time for the House to put down Amendments, and therefore we will not proceed on Thursday with it. With regard to the Royal Titles Bill, I propose to take that on Thursday week. As to the appeal just made to me by the hon. and learned Member, of course it would be very agreeable to me to meet his wishes and prevent the prosecution of any Irish business at this moment; but I do not think my duty to the country would justify that course. I should always be happy to meet the convenience of individual Members; but, at the same time, we must proceed with Business according to the regular routine. I hope we shall have the pleasure of the presence of the hon. and learned Member and his Friends when the Irish Votes are before the House, and I shall be sorry if we have not. In regard to the observations of the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. P. A. Taylor), what he says as to the decline of the Roman Empire does not agree with my memory. I thought the Augurs who made the observation lived before the commencement of the Roman Empire. Cicero was one of those Augurs. I assure the hon. Member for Leicester that he only does me justice when he thinks it is gratifying to me to respect and reverence old-established customs. I cannot agree with him in this instance, that in reducing the hours of our attendance here to-morrow, we should be acting logically in not coming at all. The reason why we do not meet to-morrow till 2 o'clock is in order that we should attend Divine service; and after having fulfilled that solemn duty, there is no reason at all why we should not give our renovated energies to the transaction of Public Business.


asked the Secretary to the Treasury, what Business would be taken on Thursday next after the Army Estimates?


said, that if time permitted the Civil Service Estimates would be taken after the Army Estimates.

Motion agreed to.


said, that several hon. Members near him challenged the Motion when it was put in the usual way.


said, that no negative voice reached his ears.