HC Deb 15 March 1880 vol 251 cc1071-3

Order for Committee read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Committee upon the said Bill be deferred till To-morrow."—(Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer.)


appealed to the right hon. Gentleman not to proceed with the Bill this Session. The present Act would not expire until December 31st; and, therefore, no legislation was necessary at this period. The right hon. Gentleman was aware of the number of Notices of opposition and Amendments which appeared on the Paper, and which pointed to the conclusion that such a measure ought not to be considered when there were not 100 Members of the House left in town. After the statement of the other night, that no Bills would be proceeded with which were not absolutely necessary, this might well be postponed; and he would again remind the Chancellor of the Exchequer that the few Liberal Members who remained were strongly opposed to the measure. He was sure they would offer no factious opposition if the Government were entirely determined to proceed with the Bill; hut, as one who had never offered any factious opposition to the Government, he put it to them whether the present was a time when an important Amendment of the law should be proceeded with?


would only remind the hon. Gentleman that when he announced the intention to dissolve he mentioned this Bill as one that it would be desirable to proceed with. He understood that it was the wish of a large number of Members that before the Dissolution the questions involved in the Bill should be settled one way or other. He hoped the House would be able to give the measure their attention.


did not intend to discuss the question now, but must take the opportunity of expressing a very earnest hope that the Government would, before to-morrow's Sitting, take into consideration the appeal which had been made to them by the hon. Member for Gloucester (Mr. Monk), and consider whether it was desirable, at this stage of the House, to press on the further consideration of this Bill. No doubt it was desirable that the point should have been settled before a General Election, and it could have been settled by the entire House; but the Government must be aware that there was a very wide difference of opinion on the subject, and it was hardly fitting—in fact, it was hardly decent—that a question of this importance should be settled in the state to which the House was now reduced.


said, the ground of complaint now was that the Bill could not be properly discussed. The number of Members now in London was not nearly equal to the number of those who took an interest in the Bill, and it would be only fair to withdraw it for the present. It should be re-introduced when it could be fully considered, because there was a strong feeling that instead of repealing the provision against payments for conveyance of voters in boroughs the provisions should be strengthened.


was quite aware that the Government could, if they chose, force the Bill through the House; but it would be unfair to do so. The Bill was only printed on Wednesday, the second reading was taken on Thursday, and the country knew nothing about it, although it was a most important Bill, affecting every borough throughout the country. The country had had no opportunity of saying a word about it; and it was a most uncalled-for thing, at this period, to introduce such a Bill. He appealed to the Government to follow, in this matter, the example of the Attorney General for Ireland just now. He had withdrawn an important Bill on the appeal of Irish Members, because so many were absent, and Government should withdraw this Bill also, as the Scotch Members, who were strongly interested in the Bill, were nearly all away; but those who remained were much opposed to it, and, whilst they knew they could not resist the mechanical majority of the Government, he appealed to the Leader of the House not to use it.

Question put, and agreed to.

Committee deferred till To-morrow.