HC Deb 21 June 1880 vol 253 cc433-4

, who had given Notice of a Question on this subject, wished to state that copies of the Bill had not been delivered on Saturday as promised. Something in the shape of a Bill, but without the name of any sponsor on the back, had been delivered; but there was nothing from which he could suppose that it was a Government Bill. It seemed rather a Bill of some irresponsible private Member. He begged to ask the Chief Secretary of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Whether he intends, during the operation of the measure which he proposes, to introduce on the same principle as the Clause which he put on the Paper for insertion into the Relief of Distress (Ireland) Bill, any Clause protecting landlords affected thereby from the penalties of foreclosure of any mortgage by reason of non-payment of interest, or from any other local consequences which might result from their inability to pay charges on their estates so long as the rent remains unpaid?


Sir, I am sorry the Bill has not been circulated, as I fully expected, on Saturday morning, and as I had received assurances that it would be. It was, however, circulated on the afternoon of Saturday. The Question the hon. Baronet asks relates, not to what the Bill will be, but what will be done during the operation of the measure. I must most respectfully decline to answer this Question, and also the three Questions which stand in the names of the hon. Member for Portarlington (Mr. Fitzpatrick), the hon. Member for Leitrim (Mr. Tottenham), and the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill). I wish to show the utmost courtesy with regard to Questions; I never declined to answer one before, and I should not do so now if I did not think I was consulting the general convenience and interest of the House in this course. I understand the object of Questions is to gain information, and to know facts with regard to administration and the intentions of the Government. Those hon. Members are perfectly aware of the intentions of the Government, which were declared in the clause for which this Bill is a substitution. They have also been informed by the Bill that was sent round. Every one of these Questions is really an argumentative Question, and would require a speech in reply to each. I am perfectly ready to answer arguments in discussion on the Bill, which I hope will be taken to-morrow; but I think I should be unduly taking up the time of the House, and establishing a precedent which would be inconvenient, if I replied now.