HC Deb 08 August 1878 vol 242 cc1617-20

Order for Third Reading read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be read the third time upon Saturday."—(The O' Conor Don.)


said, he was sorry to move an Amendment. It was quite unprecedented that the Government should give a Saturday Sitting to private Members; and from the answer of Mr. Speaker to a question put to him by me to-day, the House will have heard that the course now to be acquiesced in by the Government is most unusual. Surely it will be a bad precedent to set, when the Government of the day fixes on a Saturday in order further to facilitate the passing of a measure introduced by a private Member. In his opinion, Saturday should never be taken, except when the Government were very anxious that the Session should close, and then that Public Business only should be taken. He would move that the Bill be taken next Tuesday, when many Irish Members who would come over for the Intermediate Education Bill on Monday, might be present. For the last two or three days it had been rumoured that the supporters of the Bill were privately promised Saturday for the third reading. He hoped there was no truth in this, for the opponents of the Bill had no knowledge of it, and a mine had been sprung upon them.

Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "Saturday," in order to insert the words "Tuesday next." — (Mr. Onslow.)

Question proposed, "That the word 'Saturday' stand part of the Question."


It is perfectly true, as my hon. Friend has observed, that the course now taken is somewhat unusual; but the opposition to this Bill, and what happened with regard to it, is also unusual. I must briefly remind the House of the facts. When it was introduced at the beginning of the Session, it was stated by the Government that they would be prepared to facilitate the Bill passing its second reading, and that they would, in Committee, move certain Amendments. If those Amendments were accepted, they intimated that they would give facilities, such as a Government can give, for carrying the Bill through its further stages. The Government did what they could to redeem these promises. The Bill was opposed in a manner which must be fresh in the recollection of the House, and which certainly caused great inconvenience. On every possible occasion the Bill was discussed and divided upon; but it was carried through its different stages by large majorities. In these circumstances, it would be un-business-like to allow all the time so ex- pended to be entirely thrown away; and, perhaps, to make the House seem to stultify itself. Moreover, the time has now arrived when, if the Bill is to leave the House with any chance of passing the House of Lords at all, it is necessary that it should be read a third time this week; and, under these circumstances, the Government think it necessary to redeem the pledge given at the beginning of the Session, and acknowledged since from time to time, of giving facilities for passing the Bill. It has been impossible to take it in the last week or two; but the Government have decided, before the close of the Session, to give the House another opportunity of considering the Bill on the third reading. Saturday has been fixed between those interested in the Bill and myself. It was, however, absolutely impossible to fix, until the Sitting to-day, what should be done.


said, there could be no doubt that the Government had given a sort of pledge to facilitate the passing of the Bill, and there could be equally little doubt that they had honourably fulfilled that promise. But they had adopted a peculiar course in giving a private Member a Saturday at the end of the Session for passing a Bill such as this; and he hoped, remembering how much more than was necessary they had fulfilled their engagements, that the Government would abandon their intention, and not call the House together, not only for Saturday, but very probably for Sunday too. Besides, Monday would be a peculiarly fit day for the Bill to come on, as almost every Irish Member would be present that day, and a true criterion of the feeling of the Irish Members on the matter would thus be obtained.


thought the most extraordinary thing was that a Sunday Closing Bill should, for the first time in the history of the House of Commons, be the means of keeping that House open on a Sunday. Those most anxious for the closing of public-houses on Sunday were most anxious to keep the House of Commons open that day—atleast, he had heard it was intended to sit through it, if necessary, in order to pass the Bill. Would not such a course as that be Sunday opening? He should like to know, too, if the House sat on Sunday, whether the Members' refreshment bar would be kept open or not? Every fa- cility had been given by the Government for passing the Bill; but owing to the persistency of Irish Members who knew the opinions of the people, it had not yet got through all its stages.

Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members not being present,

House adjourned at a quarter before Four o'clock in the morning.