HC Deb 08 April 1881 vol 260 cc1030-2

There is another Question, Sir, which I wish to put to the Prime Minister, of which I have also given him private Notice, which is, Whether he will consent to put off the second reading of the Land Law (Ireland) Bill to a somewhat later day than that which has been mentioned? ["No!"] I, of course, am only speaking on behalf of a number of Gentlemen who are anxious to take sufficient time to consider so very important a measure, and who are strongly of opinion that it would be more convenient and fair to allow a longer time for consideration before the second reading than the first day of the re-assembling of the House after Easter. MR. GLADSTONE: Sir, I am very sorry indeed, in the case of the Question put to me by the right hon. Baronet, to be unable to reply in the sense which he indicates and desires, because I know he is really desirous to expedite the Business of the House, and that the Question he asks is put in entire good faith. At the same time I will appeal, in the circumstances, to his good feeling, and I will ask him to consider a little two or three matters as the ground of the intention of the Government. I am sure, first of all, that no one can be taken by surprise in this matter; because when I first intimated the day of the Budget, and the day of the introduction of the Land Law (Ireland) Bill, I said we should propose to take the second reading on the first day after the Recess. I know it may be said it is not a usual step, as in ordinary years the first day after the Easter Recess is generally given to subjects on which it is not necessary for the whole House to be in attendance. But the present Easter Recess is a little longer than the usual Recess. That, however, will not of itself govern us in the course that we propose; and I ant bound to say that the Gentlemen whom I felt most bound to consider were the Irish Members, who might claim a few days after the Easter Recess, having to come a considerable distance, but that claim they have not made in this case. "What, then, were the motives that urged us to take the second reading on the first day after Easter? We have submitted to the House a Bill with regard to which I am of opinion that it contains as much matter for discussion, and that it requires as much discussion in order to its full elucidation and satisfactory settlement in the different quarters of the House, and that it may be expected to take as much time, probably, as any measure that has been laid before the House during the last 10 or 15 years, We introduced it on the very first day in our power; but that day was, unfortunately, only the 7th of April, though the House has sat for more than three months. The time given before the second reading is, undoubtedly, quite equal to that which is ordinarily given, even on most important questions—namely, from the 7th to the 25th of April. But that which we dwell upon is this—that we are under the conviction that it is our duty to omit no step, within our legitimate competence, to secure the disposal of this great subject in the present Session. Looking at the time of the year which we have reached, and desirous as we are not to hurry the House unduly in the discussion of the several stages of the Bill, we feel, to state the matter frankly, that we cannot lose a day, and that we are bound to go forward with the second reading at once. Of course, I have no expectation of obtaining the second reading on the night of the 25th. I anticipate a debate of more than one night, and generally I should say our desire would be that ample time should be afforded for the discussion. But, that being so, and looking forward to the ordinary period of the termination of Session, which, in this year, when we met so early, we ought not to pass if we can help it; looking also to the stock of strength, mental and physical, that Gentlemen bring to the discharge of their labours in this House, I feel it is absolutely necessary for us to omit no opportunity of asking the House to carry forward that great work consistently with other necessary demands, and limited by the necessities of Public Business. On these grounds, I am sorry to say it is a matter of absolute duty for us to adhere to the course we propose.


would venture to make one further appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to re-consider his decision during the Recess. He quite admitted the difficult situation in which the right hon. Gentleman was placed; but he put to him whether, with a view to facilitate the progress of this measure, it was wise to insist on pressing forward the second reading of a Bill of this exceedingly complex and difficult character at a time manifestly most inconvenient to a very largo section of the House? ["Order!"]


I must point out to the hon. Member that the Question which has been put to the right hon. Gentleman has been answered. If the hon. Member desires to raise any further question, he will have the opportunity of doing so when the Motion is made for the adjournment of the House.


said, he would take advantage of that opportunity.