Motion made, and Question proposed,
That the Notices of Motion be postponed until after the Order of the Day for the Committee on the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge Bill."—(Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer.)
§ MR. GOSCHEN
asked the Secretary of State for War whether, as the Universities Bill was to be proceeded with that evening in Committee, it would not be for the convenience of hon. Members generally that the discussion of the Amendments relating to Clerical Fellowships should be deferred?
MR. GATHORNE HARDY
said, by the kindness of his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Marylebone (Mr. Forsyth) his Amendments to Clause 17 would not be brought forward till after Whitsuntide, and he proposed to postpone Clause 18, so that both could be discussed at the same time.
§ SIR COLMAN O'LOGHLEN
wished to enter his protest against the encroachments that were being made on the rights of private Members by the postponement of their Motions in favour of Government Business. He did not see why the time occupied in the important discussion of the Eastern Question, on the Resolutions of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich, should be made a ground for asking private Members to give up their time to compensate the Government, who ought to be very glad that it afforded them an opportunity for securing by a large majority the Vote of Confidence they had so long wished for. He would willingly concede the present day if Her Majesty's Government proposed to take any important Business of a pressing character; but the Bill which it was proposed to take was, in his opinion, not one of such a character as to justify the Government in asking private Members to give up their rights in order to make way for it. It had already occupied a considerable time and could not be disposed of to-night. He also objected to the form in which the thing was now done. Formerly it used to be a matter of private conference with the Members concerned—now it was done by a Motion of the Chancellor of the Exchequer postponing the Notices.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, the present proposal was not made in consequence of Monday having been taken up in the discussion of the Resolutions of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich. What he had stated with regard to Monday was that in the event of the Government giving it up, they would be driven to propose either to take to- 995 day for the Universities Bill or to propose an abridgment of the Whitsuntide Recess. The right hon. and learned Gentleman was, he understood, willing to respond to the appeal of the Government; and as he had not given Notice of the Motion he intended to move, he could not have moved it to-night, whatever the Government Bill brought forward might be.
§ SIR COLMAN O'LOGHLEN
said, he told the Secretary of the Treasury that he would be willing to give way if the Government wanted the night for any pressing Public Business. He did not regard the Universities Bill in that light.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, he would not dispute with the right hon. and learned Gentleman whether the Universities Bill was a measure of more or less importance. At all events, it was one of the Government measures of the Session, and until it was got out of the way they could not proceed with the Business which the right hon. and learned Gentleman wished to see expedited. The Government must take one thing at a time; and it was not from indifference to the claims of Irish or Scotch Business that they had thought it better first to finish the Committee on the Universities Bill.
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
could not forget that in the last Parliament there was a combination on the part of Members opposite to prevent the Government from taking private Members' nights. A debate of five nights was by no means without precedent. The second reading of the Army Purchase Bill was discussed for five Government nights, and occupied three weeks of Government time without any attempt to appropriate the nights of private Members. It was impossible that this Bill should get through Committee before Whitsuntide, and he denied that it was of so pressing a nature as to justify the claim now set up.
§ MR. MARK STEWART,
although he did not think that the situation with regard to private Members was sufficiently recognized by the Government, expressed his readiness to postpone the Motion which stood on the Paper in his name with reference to the Cattle Plague, although at the present time he held it to be very important to call attention to that question. He reserved his rights, however, in the event of other Members 996 who had Motions on the Paper not giving way.
§ MR. ANDERSON
said, he had already privately informed the Chancellor of the Exchequer that he was willing to give way with his Motion relating to the Dunkeld Bridge accounts, and he took that course because the Government so willingly consented to the adjournment of the debate on the Resolutions of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Greenwich from Friday to Monday; but he must remind the right hon. Gentleman that postponing a Motion at this period meant relegating it to the time of Morning Sittings, and Morning Sittings too often meant evening counts, and therefore he trusted that when private Members' Motions, that had been given up in this way, came on the Government would keep a House for them.
§ MR. WHALLEY
hoped that the Chancellor of the Exchequer would consider the propriety of clearing away the Tichborne case from the Paper. He had both an Order of the Day and a Notice of Motion on the Paper for that evening, and both would be sacrificed by giving precedence to the Government. The rights of private Members were being destroyed by the deliberate and arbitrary attacks that were being made upon them.
§ MR. LYON PLAYFAIR
called attention to an irregularity which might furnish a very inconvenient precedent. The first Notice of Motion, that of the noble Lord the Member for Morayshire (Viscount Macduff) for a Commission to consider and report as to the present unsatisfactory state of the Herring Fishery on the East Coast of Scotland, the Government had got rid of by consenting to the appointment of a Commission before the opinion of the House had been expressed. There were many Members who would have objected to the Motion on the ground that the subject had been already investigated by two Royal Commissions, and there was no necessity for the appointment of another. They had no power to prevent the appointment of another Commission; but it would have been very desirable that they should know exactly how the matter stood, ,and with what motives and for what purposes it was to be formed. A great industry like that of fisheries should not be disturbed, unless grave causes were shown for prospective legislative changes.
§ LORD ESLINGTON
did so too, while admitting that the rights of private Members should be jealously watched, and that this occasion should not be regarded as a precedent.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
protested against another inquiry being granted as to the Scotch Fisheries. Two Commissions had sat already.
§ MR. C. B. DENISON
said, that when the arrangement was proposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer the Leader of the Opposition said it was a fair one, and he hoped that a division would not be pressed.
§ MR. RYLANDS
said, that if the rights of independent Members were to be bartered away between the two front benches, those rights would rapidly disappear. He complained that the right hon. Gentleman seemed to think that private Members ought to give time because the Government did. But it was part of the duty of the Government to find time for important discussions like that on the Eastern Question.
MR. GRANT DUFF
said, that he thought the Government was not going to appoint a Royal Commission on the Scotch Fisheries, but to hold a separate inquiry.
§ MR. H. B. SAMUELSON
said, that some of the Notices on the Paper were of much greater importance than the Universities Bill.
§ MR. P. A. TAYLOR
protested against the invasion of the rights of private Members. He suggested that when they came to Morning Sittings, the Government should take the Evening Sitting, leaving the Morning Sitting to private Members. This would involve very little loss to the Government, and be highly advantageous to private Members.
The House divided:—Ayes 219; Noes 52: Majority 167.—(Div. List, No. 122.)