HC Deb 17 February 1879 vol 243 cc1318-37

Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Orders of the Day be postponed until after the Notice of Motion relating to the Business of the House."—(Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer.)


said, that sufficient Notice had not been given of the Resolutions which the Chancellor of the Exchequer proposed to submit to the House with reference to the Business of the House to enable hon. Members to deal satisfactorily with the subject that night. An opportunity had not been given for placing Amendments on the Paper; and, therefore, if they went on with the debate that evening, they would have to discuss proposals of the greatest importance which they had not seen until they were suddenly sprung upon them. It was desirable that more time should be given for their consideration. On Committees of this kind the Government of the day was always very largely represented. There were originally five right hon. Gentlemen on a Committee of 15; and when the Committee was increased to 17, it included only three independent Members of the Opposition sitting below the Gangway. All of these latter differed from the Report, which, therefore, did not come before the House with the weight which it would possess had it been unanimously adopted. There were other reasons for postponing the consideration of these Resolutions of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Many hon. Members were of opinion that they ought to be discussed in a Committee of the Whole House rather than in the House itself, with the Speaker in the Chair. No doubt the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who was Chairman of the Select Committee, and whose own Resolutions many of these were, must take the leading part in the discussions; and the right hon. Gentleman would be able to speak as often as he pleased in Committee of the Whole House. Besides, it would be more in accordance with precedent that Notice should be given of Amendments; and for this reason, also, it was desirable that the consideration of the question should be postponed. The original proposals laid before the Select Committee had not been published with the evidence, and were not in the possession of the House. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition, and the Members for Chester, Sandwich, North Warwickshire, Glasgow, and Cambridge University all submitted schemes, which, if the Resolutions were proceeded with to-night, would probably be proposed in the shape of Amendments. Sufficient time ought, therefore, to be given to enable those Gentlemen to place their Amendments on the Paper.


I must second the appeal made by the hon. Baronet the Member for Chelsea (Sir Charles W. Dilke). A discussion of this sort is a delicate and difficult one; it is far more wide-reaching than, perhaps, any of us imagine. Therefore, it ought to be entered upon not only with calmness, but without any possible feeling of grievance. This first proposal of the Chancellor of the Exchequer goes much further than those who have not studied this subject can have any idea of, for it indirectly affects our proceedings on all days. There were various proposals submitted to the Select Committee for altering our Rule of Monday Supply. Some restricted the liberties of hon. Members more than others. For reasons that may be perfectly right, the Chancellor of the Exchequer selected, and induced the Committee to adopt, an extreme proposal — that one which limited the independence of hon. Members the most. This extreme proposal the right hon. Gentleman has embodied in his first Resolution. I think, therefore, we have a claim for ample time. I was one of the few Members present before Christmas, when an interlocutory debate on the question was unexpectedly started by the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate). On that occasion, the Chancellor of the Exchequer gave the ordinary stereotyped intimation that Resolutions upon the Business of the House would be brought forward during the Session; but certainly it did not occur to me, or to anyone else, that that promise would be redeemed by taking the very earliest possible opportunity of doing so. As my hon. Friend (Sir Charles W. Dilke) says, the Notice of these Resolutions is so short that hon. Members have not had a fair chance of placing Amendments on the Paper, for they had only Friday. Three or four hon. Members, myself amongst the number, have put Amendments down; but the House generally has not had an opportunity of studying these Resolutions and considering Amendments. For my own part, I confess that, instead of reading more pious books on Sunday, my attention during much of yesterday was bestowed upon the Blue Book. It is idle to say that that Blue Book appeared before the close of last Session. Practically, Members are not expected to take up a past Session's Blue Book till the consideration of the matters contained in it approaches; while our duty has lately led us rather to study those relating to Afghanistan, to Turkey, and, unhappily, to South Africa. Under these circumstances, would it not be only fair, as a matter of equity, to give us a little more than from Friday morning to Monday evening to study these Resolutions, and not so long as that for the Amendments upon them? I trust that the Chancellor of the Exchequer will assent to the suggestion of my hon. Friend (Sir Charles W. Dilke), and not send us into the discussion with a sense of something like irritation.


said, he was very anxious to support his hon. Friend the Member for Chelsea (Sir Charles W. Dilke). They were now in probably the last Session of the present Parliament; at any rate, it could be hardly denied that they were approaching the period when the present Parliament would expire by lapse of time. It must be remembered that this Committee was appointed chiefly in consequence of some occurrences which took place during the last Session, and in which some of his hon. Colleagues were supposed to be concerned. The changes which had been made of late years in the procedure of the House had been all in one direction—that of curtailing the rights of discussion. One by one the opportunities for free discussion had been cut away. It was not many years ago that hon. Members in presenting a Petition had an opportunity of debate upon that Petition. That was one of their most valuable privileges. It was, however, abolished in consequence of the pressure of time. Of course, it was natural that the Government in power and those who were on the front Opposition Bench should support the present proposal; but if there were sufficient reasons why the Rules should be altered, he submitted that those reasons ought to be laid before the Members of the House. What was the ease? The Chancellor of the Exchequer made his statement on Thursday last, and he prefaced it by saying that he was going to lay on the Table some Resolutions in regard to the Business of the House. He believed most hon. Members were disappointed in the statement of the legislative measures proposed, and on the Friday another statement—most important to the people of Ireland, whose liberties were at stake—was made; but these Resolutions did not appear before the House until last Friday. Was it fair to expect hon. Members to have posted themselves on this subject in that short time? It was not like an ordinary Blue Book placed on the Table of the House. The whole of the evidence and the whole of this Report was of an entirely technical character, to form an opinion upon which required a thorough acquaintance with the Rules of the House and the Rules which formerly governed the House. He had no hesitation in saying that if these Resolutions were passed they would strike a blow at the liberties of the people of this country, and that therefore they ought to have a discussion on the general principles governing the case. The Resolutions ought to be taken as a whole, and read in connection with the other Resolutions submitted to the Committee, and the kind of questions which had been asked in Committee, and they ought to be considered carefully in order to know what was the direction of the mind of those who asked questions in the Committee. He did not understand, also, why evidence given before the Committee should be struck out. It was occasionally done, he believed; but not in matters of this kind. He strongly objected to the postponement of the Orders of the Day in order that the Government might get an advantage in Supply. Everybody must know that these Resolutions would take a very long time to consider; that they would be opposed by some hon. Members; and that additional Amendments to those on the Paper would be added to by others; and he therefore suggested that it would be better for the Government to give a week's Notice of what they desired to do. It would be conducive to the good feeling existing between the Government and the House if they would agree to a postponement. If these Resolutions were carried as they stood, hon. Members would be more and more deprived of the opportunities of vindicating the privileges of the people—the chief object for which they were sent there. The principal Business of that House was not to pass Bills and to vote money to the Government; but that they should speak out what was in their minds as the Representatives of the people. He hoped these attempts to fetter discussion and to restrict the liberties of private Members would not receive the sanction of the House.


said, however specious and plausible the reasons for delay urged by hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway on both sides, he hoped the Government would not be prevailed upon to set aside the Business which the House was called upon to discuss. For two or three years past, the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate) had repeatedly pressed on the Government that the time had come for appointing a Committee to sit on the Business of the House. In 1877 the Chancellor of the Exchequer said the time had come for the appointment of a Committee, and last year it was appointed. On the 24th of January last year his right hon. Friend moved for the appointment of a Committee, and the House agreed to it without a dissentient voice. A good deal of consideration was given as to the Gentlemen who should be selected, and on the 25th of February his right hon. Friend nominated the Members of the Committee. They sat from the 5th of April to the 5th of July, on the 6th they agreed to their Report, and the Report was presented to the House on the 8th of July. Seven months had since then elapsed, during which hon. Members had had plenty of opportunities for considering the Report; and if they were not now prepared to make up their minds with reference to the subject, he would be glad to know when they would be ready to give an opinion upon it? It appeared to him one of the most unreasonable requests that could be made to ask for further time for consideration. He urged the House, if it intended to do any Business this Session, to consider the Resolutions which the Chancellor of the Exchequer called on them to take in hand. It was not now the first week of February, but the third. On Thursday next the Government would introduce the new Military Code, which must be passed by the 25th of April. He would ask, therefore, whether there was any time to be lost?


said, the hon. Member for Chelsea had attributed to him the remark that when both front Benches above the Gangway agreed upon anything they were sure to be wrong. That was a somewhat sweeping remark, and he did not recollect having made it. But if, on the present occasion, the two front Benches concurred in approving the Resolutions that were about to be submitted to the House by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, he was quite prepared to accept the responsibility of the observation which the hon. Baronet the Member for Chelsea had attributed to him. The objections to proceeding with the discussion of the Resolutions were so strong that he hoped the Chancellor of the Exchequer would yield to the appeal which had been made to him.


said, there was no complaint against the Chancellor of the Exchequer for putting his Resolutions on the Paper at the very beginning of the Session. The complaint was that so extremely brief an interval was allowed between their appearance on the Paper and their proposed discussion, and that so little time was given for the preparation of Amendments. If they were driven to discuss the Chancellor of the Exchequer's propositions now, many Amendments would have to be considered which were not in print, and the scope of which they could not, therefore, fairly appreciate. What the Chancellor of the Exchequer had done had the appearance of taking the House by surprise, although he acquitted him of the intention of doing so. To allow time for Amendments, he urged there should be delay.


Sir, I would humbly represent to hon. Members that there is no real foundation for the allegation that the proposals made by the Government have taken the House by surprise. At the commencement of the Session before Christmas, I immediately put it to the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer that if the House believed with its Committee that it had not the time for its Business, that it lacked means for facilitating the Business of the House, it was most desirable that the alteration of its Rules should be considered, and, if approved, adopted at the commencement of the Session. This is no new subject. Having heard from the then Leader of the House, in 1875, that he was unwilling to sanction the appointment of a Committee on the Public Business of the House, I proposed a Resolution upon this subject, on the 19th of February, 1875, now four years ago. Hon. Members will admit that this subject has been before them ever since. The circumstances, the history of the Sessions of 1876 and 1877, or of that of the early part of last Session, cannot have passed from their recollection; and though I admit, with the hon. Member for Galway (Mr. Mitchell Henry), that one duty of the House is to represent the feelings of the people, I ask the House to remember that the progress of Public Business has been impeded during the last three Sessions. By proposing these Resolutions, the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer is only redeeming the pledge he gave when the House met before Christmas; and he has fulfilled his promise at a time when it must be obvious to every hon. Member—who can recollect, as I do, former discussions and the adoption of Amendments in the Rules of the House—that it is essential to discuss and, if approved of, to adopt the Amendments of these Rules, for the proper conduct of Public Business, early in the Session. I am perfectly aware that some of these proposals appear to fetter the action of the non-official Members of the House. There is no hon. Member of the House who has shown greater dislike to coercion of this kind than I have; but I cannot conceal from myself that the course of legislation has been to centralize local administration largely in the hands of Her Majesty's Ministers. The control of almost every branch of that which was formerly considered local administration—such as that of Prisons and Education—has been placed in the hands of the Government. Upon this Her Majesty's Ministers found a claim for more of the time of this House. I think it is politic to give Her Majesty's Ministers more of our time, because otherwise the House could exercise no control over these spheres of administration which have been recently placed in the hands of the Government. No one would regret more than I do that any hon. Member should be taken by surprise; but I do humbly submit that there are strong grounds for proceeding in this matter early in the Session.


suggested that the Chancellor of the Exchequer might meet many of the difficulties which wore felt by several hon. Members on both sides of the House if he would consent to have the Resolutions considered in Committee of the Whole House. It would otherwise, he believed, be impossible to discuss them with that freedom which was necessary in dealing with proposals of such a nature. He made the suggestion, he might add, with less hesitation, because his experience in that House led him to arrive at a conclusion somewhat different from some of his hon. Friends who sat on the Benches opposite with regard to the merits of the Resolutions. He was one of those who was disposed to think that the facilities which at present existed for occasioning delay and obstructing the passing not only of Government measures, but Bills of every description, were greater than was at all expedient. He was, therefore, inclined to look favourably, on the whole, on proposals which would impose some restrictions on those facilities; although when the Resolutions were brought forward he might have occasion to say a few words as to one or two points ill which, in his opinion, they stood in need of amendment. But ho, at all events, thought that in discussing Resolutions of such importance the utmost latitude and freedom should be allowed to every hon. Member; while the object which the Chancellor of the Exchequer had in view would, he believed, be facilitated by bringing them forward in Committee of the Whole House.


said, that if the object of the hon. Member for Chelsea and those by whom he was supported was to put off altogether the discussion of the Resolutions, the course which they had taken was perfectly intelligible, and one upon which it would be desirable to test the feeling of the House. If, however, they and the great majority of the House were of opinion that some alteration was required in the mode of conducting its Business, then the only question was whether the present was a convenient time for taking the discussion? Now, for his own part, he ventured to think that the House would lose all chance of being able definitely to discuss the Resolutions if it allowed the opportunity which offered itself that evening to pass. The House had hardly begun—had hardly yet got into the full play of its legislative work; and there was, therefore, an opportunity that evening of discussing a question which was of great interest and of importance in relation to the transaction of the whole Business of the House. He ventured to say that Members were quite as competent to proceed with the consideration of the question at the present time as they would be a fortnight hence. The Resolutions were not of a startling character. If they had not been considered before there would have been some reason in saying that time was required for the purpose of studying and mastering them; but when Members observed what the Resolutions really were, they would find that there was only one that could be said to be at all of a novel character. And with regard to that particular Resolution, there would be no wish on the part of the Government to press it forward unduly; but with respect to the first, second, and third Resolutions, if they had not been before them in precisely the same words, they had, at all events, been several times before the in in an analogous form. They had, therefore, not only had a knowledge of their character and bearing, but they had had a certain amount of experience of how proposals of the kind before them were worked. The question had been considered time after time; so that it was inconsistent with the recollection of the House for any Member to say that the House was taken by surprise by their introduction now. He altogether disclaimed the sort of idea which seemed to be entertained by several Members to the effect that there was an antagonism between the Government and the House in the matter, and that the Government were the natural enemies of the Opposition and wished to gain an advantage over them. That was not a fair suggestion to make against the Government. They were interested—as the whole House were interested—in getting the Business of the House properly conducted with economy of time, and in a manner most convenient to the Members. It was with the view of getting the Business so conducted that the Resolutions before them had been brought forward, containing, as they did, the best suggestions they could think of with that view; but, of course, it was open to any Member to make suggestions by way of Amendment upon them. They were perfectly able to discuss them as they stood; and he could see no advantage in going into Committee of the Whole House upon them.


said, he was not sure, after the opinion which had been expressed as to the result of the concurrence of those who sat on the two front Benches, that he would do much service in rising to support the course proposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He must, however, say that, ingenious though the arguments of the hon. Member for Chelsea and others might be, they seemed to him to be outweighed by one or two practical considerations. The first was that the House had absolutely nothing else to do that evening, and a large number of Members were prepared to enter into the discussion of the subject; and the second that if hon. Members were prepared to take into consideration any alteration in the Rules and Forms of procedure it was desirable that that should be done at the earliest possible moment, so that the Resolutions might be dealt with on their own merits, and should not be introduced in the middle of the Session, when it might be urged that they had been brought forward with reference to some particular circumstances. The first, he might add, and the most important of the Resolutions, related to Committee of Supply, and as Notice had been given that Committee of Supply would be taken on Monday next—and it was impossible to blame the Government for seeking to enter on that important portion of the Business before them as soon as possible—it was, in his opinion, most desirable that any alteration made in that respect should be made before next week. These practical considerations appeared to him to be of greater importance than the arguments which had been urged in favour of delay.


urged the advantages of having the Resolutions discussed in Committee, since it was determined to proceed at once with the consideration of them. In a discussion such as that which now engaged the House, where verbal Amendments constituted the chief Business, it would be almost impossible to understand the reasons for using particular words, if one were not to have the latitude of inquiry and explanation consistent with the Rules of a Committee, but not so with the Rules of Debate in the House.


urged the same point, as otherwise it would be a case of Hob-son's choice. The House must either accept the new Rules or rest content with those already in force.


complained that the course taken by the Government would deprive the House of the opportunity of considering Amendments on these Resolutions, and hoped the Government would yet agree to consider them in Committee. In a week's time they would be better able to give their opinion on the points raised by them.


reminded the House that the Report of the Select Committee on Public Business was dated July 8, and that the Resolutions now before the House were a portion of those recom- mended by the Committee. He was not himself in favour of the Resolutions; but he could not contend that the House had been taken by surprise. He should oppose every one of them except the 5th and 6th. For himself, he thought that they required no further facilities for legislation; and that if the Government passed a Mutiny Bill and a Criminal Code Bill, besides the discussions that would take place on financial subjects, they would have done very well. He thought the Resolutions should be considered in Committee.


said, he must confess he was somewhat disappointed at the remarks of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He could quite understand that the Government was determined to pass these Resolutions in their entirety; but if the Government were inclined to give the House a full and sufficient opportunity of considering the Resolutions—not with the alternative of accepting or rejecting them, but with the opportunity, it might be, of making improvements in them—then he must say he was disappointed that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had not fallen in with the suggestion of his hon. Friend the Member for Chelsea (Sir Charles W. Dilke), that the House should resolve itself into a Committee upon the Resolutions. He rose for the purpose of submitting a formal Notice to the House, as an Amendment to the proposition of the Chancellor of the Exchequer— That this House will forthwith resolve itself into a Committee to consider the Resolutions of Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer on the Business of the House. He even yet entertained the hope that the right hon. Gentleman would favourably consider the Amendment. Of course, it was quite true that the hon. Member for Chelsea would be willing to throw the Resolutions over entirely, and he dared say there were other hon. Gentlemen who were of the same opinion. He hoped that those hon. Gentlemen would not hesitate to vote for going into Committee; because it would be quite open to them—or to others who thought that due time had not been given for the consideration of the Resolutions—to move at once to report Progress. But the point which struck him as one of considerable difficulty in reading the Blue Book, which they all seemed to have been doing yesterday was this—He found himself placed in considerable difficulty from the fact that throughout the Blue Book references were made to important suggestions which were put before the Committee, but with which he was entirely unfamiliar. The hon. Member for Cain-bridge University (Mr. Beresford Hope) was fully alive to the whole question, having sat upon the Committee; and he (Mr. Rylands) was quite sure that no man could sit upon a Committee of that kind with greater advantage. Well, that hon. Gentleman was, of course, fully acquainted with the recommendations which were made by the noble Lord (the Marquess of Hartington) and other influential Members of the Committee, and which were printed for the use of Members, and which were referred to continually in the examination of witnesses, but which were not in the possession of the House. Now, he ventured to submit to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the other Members of the Committee that it would hardly be fair to ask those outside the Committee, who were anxious to come to a deliberate and reasonable conclusion upon these recommendations, to decide without placing them in the position of having the full information which was in the hands of the Committee. He said, further, that he believed it would be most unfortunate if the House were to proceed with this Business to-night, unless they went into Committee, because otherwise they would not have a full opportunity of discussing the points which might be brought before them. He was not very sure whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer, having moved the postponement of the Orders of the Day, might not be called to Order for subsequently making a speech, on the technical objection that he ought not to speak twice. [Cries of "No!"] He observed that the right hon. Gentleman shook his head, intimating that he was not out of Order; but, nevertheless, there was no Amendment before the House when he made his speech. Of course, they would none of them object to a speech from the right hon. Gentleman. They were only too happy to hear him on the question, and the very arguments in favour of a Committee was that, while first one suggestion and then another might be made, the Chancellor of the Exchequer would be able to guide the House, by speaking as often as might be found necessary. He hoped the Chancellor of the Exchequer would not further oppose the Amendment. He would certainly carry it to a division; because he thought it only right that the House, by resolving itself into Committee, should deal with the Resolutions in a manner which was likely to secure their full and proper discussion. The hon. Member concluded by formally moving his Amendment.


seconded the Amendment. He observed that the House should be very careful how it voted these proposals of the Government, which tampered with the rights of private Members, and which they had had no time to consider.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "this House will forthwith resolve itself into a Committee to consider the Resolutions of Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer on the Business of the House,"—{Mr. Rylands,) —instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."


pointed out that they would be merely wasting time by proceeding with the discussion of the preliminary question. The very fact that four Amendments to the Resolutions had been put upon the Notice Paper was a proof that the matter was no surprise, but had been well considered by the Members of the House.


observed, that Notice had been given of these Resolutions on Thursday. The Notice appeared on the Paper on Friday, and there had been ample time for considering what Amendments should be proposed. The proposals of the Government, moreover, were not absolutely new. The principal one had been discussed several times before. During more than one Session they had had actual experience of the operation of this Rule, or of one closely resembling it. The difficulty of so proposing the first Amendment as not to exclude others was imaginary. As to the question whether the matter should be considered in the House or in Committee, he pointed out that if it were considered in Committee there would be this advantage—that hon. Members could speak more than once to the same question, and that the Mover could speak in defence of his own Resolution as often as he pleased. On the other hand, there would be no great difficulty in conducting the discussion in the House; because it would be open to every hon. Member to speak upon each proposition and upon each Amendment to each proposition. At the same time, if it would be more agreeable to hon. Members to take the discussion in Committee, he thought it would be worth while for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to make this concession.


thought that owing to the form of the Resolutions it would be better to postpone the discussion upon them.


remarked that there was no real difficulty in the form of the Resolution, and it was a mistake to suppose that no Amendments could be introduced if the Amendment of his hon. Friend (Mr. Rylands) was negatived. The Speaker could put the Question that the word "whenever" in the Chancellor of the Exchequer's Resolutions stand part of the Question, and if that was carried, any Amendments could be subsequently moved. If the House would only now consent to discuss the Amendment actually before it, it would at least be decided whether or not the House was willing to make any alteration at all. That would be at least one step gained.


explained that the Amendment was not so inconsistent as it might seem, because his hon. Friend was obliged by the Forms of the House to insert in it the word "forthwith." That, however, could be remedied by the mode of putting the Question, and on that ground he should support the Amendment; but he gave Notice that he should move to report Progress, not in any factious sense, but with a view to testing the opinion of the House as to whether they should go on with the matter to-night or not.


asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer to explain what the law of the matter was, because many hon. Members were puzzled by the conflicting explanations they had heard.


thought it would be a great waste of time to discuss the Resolutions in Committee of the Whole House, if they had afterwards to discuss them over again on the Report. The hon. Member for Exeter (Mr. A. Mills) observed that the fact that Notice of four Amendments had been given was proof that there had been time for putting Amendments on the Paper; but those Amendments related entirely to negative points.


said, it appeared to him, from the discussion which had taken place, that nobody was prepared to deal satisfactorily with these Resolutions who had not had the advantage of sitting on the Select Committee. Even two Members of the Committee had pleaded for more time. What, then, was to be said for those who had not sat on the Committee at all? The hon. Baronet the Member for Chelsea (Sir Charles W. Dilke) had pleaded for more time, and so had the hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Cambridge (Mr. Beresford Hope), who was a gentleman of undoubted piety, and he had told them that he had been obliged to put aside his piety yesterday, in order to have a little time to read the Blue Book on this subject. These were features of the discussion which had impressed themselves very much upon him. If he looked down the list of those who wanted immediate discussion, he found that it contained such Members as the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Leader of the Opposition—no doubt two most distinguished Members of the House; but it should be remembered that they were Members of the Select Committee, and knew all that had taken place there, while other Members had not yet had an opportunity to master what took place before that Committee. The Resolutions which the Chancellor of the Exchequer intended to move were said to be for the purpose of facilitating Public Business; but, in his opinion, they ought to be called Resolutions for the purpose of fettering public discussion. If their object was to get rid of Public Business and simply shelve and evade it, then he, for one, must say these Resolutions would accomplish the object. If an adjournment took place, there would be an opportunity for hon. Members to put other Amendments on the Paper; and when the discussion took place on some future day, they would have an oppor- tunity of ascertaining what was the collective wisdom of the House in reference to the subject.


said, he should have been in favour, under ordinary circumstances, of taking the discussion on those Resolutions in Committee of the Whole House, but there would be no use in doing that to-night; because, as already had been pointed out, many hon. Gentlemen had not yet had an opportunity of considering the details of the subject, and therefore would not be prepared to go into those minute particulars which would be raised in Committee. If they went into Committee now, there would, in his humble opinion, be a waste of time of the most stupendous character. He by no means wished to impute to the Government any deliberate intention to surprise the House. No doubt it was perfectly true that they had been generally acquainted with this neglect for a long time past; but they were not acquainted with these particular Rules which the Government were to propose, and it was a surprise that they should be taken on this particular day. It was said the House had had sufficient time to consider the proposals of the Government because they were put on the Paper on Friday. But, as far as Friday was concerned, the Irish Members had to consider a matter of the weightiest importance to their own country, and they had not time on that day to consider these Resolutions; and, therefore, he thought these were the strongest reasons for not going on with the discussion to-night.


thought that the subject-matter of the Resolutions was so old that they might proceed to the discussion of them at once, and he should invite the House to endeavour to do something to amend its procedure.


said, that the Resolutions could not be considered in Committee without a great waste of time. He concurred, also, in urging on the House the fact that there had really been no time for giving Notice of Amendments.


said, the course proposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer was an attempt to curtail the opportunities of discussing grievances before going into Committee of Supply. The right hon. Gentleman had taken care not to suggest anything in lieu of lost opportunities.


said, he did not fear to state that the hurried discussion of the proposed Resolutions would excite feelings of indignation in the public mind throughout Ireland. It could not be disguised that those Resolutions were aimed directly at the curtailment of the privileges of the Irish Representatives. In taking this course, the Government was following out the policy of hostility to Ireland with which it initiated the present Session. On the first night the Government contemptuously abandoned the measure of University Education, with which it had excited the hopes of the Irish people for mouths previously. The Borough Franchise Bill—a measure of vast importance to Ireland—was overwhelmed by the sheer force of numbers summoned from all parts of the country by the Conservative Whips. But not content with this, that very occasion, while the Irish Members were engaged in supporting the Franchise Bill, and were, in consequence, practically precluded from giving Notice of Amendments, the Chancellor of the Exchequer seized to fix to-night for his first attempt to stifle free speech in that House. And, accordingly, in pursuance of this policy of hostility, these Resolutions were to be forced upon them. He was sure every Irish Representative present would deem it his duty to give the proposals of the Government the most determined and sustained resistance.


said, he would advert to one or two points which had been raised by hon. Members. He would not say anything about the point as to whether he was out of Order in speaking a second time, for he had not spoken a first time. He would assume that it was the usual practice on making a Motion for the Mover to refrain from making a speech at the beginning, and to reserve any observations he wished to make until afterwards. But, setting aside that, he wished to point out that two or three of his hon. Friends had been under a false impression as to the mode in which it would be necessary that the decision of the House should be taken upon the Resolutions as they were presented. His hon. and learned Friend the Member for Chatham (Mr. Gorst) thought it would be necessary for the Speaker to put the Amendment of the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Rylands) in such a form that if that Amendment should be rejected the first Resolution that he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) had put upon the Paper must be accepted without any alteration; and he suggested that that difficulty could be got over if that question were raised in Committee instead of the Whole House. He (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) apprehended it could be raised either in Committee or in the Whole House. He apprehended it would be in the power of the Speaker or of the Chairman of Committees to put a Question in such a way as to leave it open to any Member to move an Amendment upon it. If he was wrong in that opinion, the Speaker could correct him. It must be borne in mind, as pointed out by the hon. Member for Clitheroe (Mr. Assheton), that Resolutions of this kind had to be reported; that there must be a second discussion on the Report; and that any number of Amendments could be moved over again on the Report. There was only one observation more which he wished to make, and that was that on the present occasion they were proceeding in the ordinary way, or at least in the spirit of the ordinary way of conducting the Business of the House. Monday was a day on which the Government had precedence for their Business. The particular Business which the Government proposed to-day was the discussion of these Orders; and he thought it was rather hard that a question should be raised as to the propriety of their putting down Business in the order which seemed to them most convenient to the House. If these Resolutions were not taken into consideration, of course he had done his duty in bringing them forward, and he must leave the responsibility of such a proceeding on the House itself. He must ask the House to pass judgment on the Resolutions in the form which he had submitted them.


As there seems to be some doubt as to the course to be taken in putting this Question, perhaps the House will allow me to explain. As the matter stands at present, there is one Amendment only on the Paper to the first Resolution of the Chancellor of the Exchequer to be moved by the hon. Member for Burnley. If that was the only Amendment before the House, it would be my duty, according to the ordinary practice, to put the Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question." But should it come to my knowledge that other Amendments are about to be proposed, and that the House desires that these other Amendments should be entertained, it would become my duty so to put the Question that those Amendments should be open to discussion.


urged that there had not been sufficient opportunity for considering those Resolutions, and that the discussion should be adjourned till Thursday.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 192; Noes 75: Majority 117.—(Div. List, No. 8.)

Main Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 185; Noes 53: Majority 132.—(Div. List, No. 9.) Resolved, That the Orders of the Day be postponed until after the Notice of Motion relating to the Business of the House.

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