HC Deb 29 April 1881 vol 260 cc1527-9

wished to ask the hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General a Question. The Prime Minis- ter had stated that he proposed on Monday to ask for leave to introduce a Bill on Affirmations, and that if the Bill was not opposed at that stage he should take the second reading on Tuesday; but that if it was opposed he proposed to have a Morning Sitting on Friday for its discussion. From a communication which he (Mr. Onslow) had received he understood that the Bill would be opposed on its introduction. He did not at that time say that he, personally, would oppose the introduction of the Bill. At all events, he thought it would be well that the country should have an opportunity of seeing the Bill, and that it should be printed for that purpose at some time or other; but he wished to point out that if the Bill was opposed, and there was a Morning Sitting on Tuesday for the discussion of its introduction, the Bill could not be printed before Wednesday, and, if the second reading was to be taken on Friday, the country would barely have two days for considering the effects of the Bill. The measure would create a good deal of feeling, no doubt, on both sides of the House; and surely such a measure ought to be before the country at least a week before the House was asked to take the second reading. If he was incorrect as to the intentions of the Government, he, as well as many Members on both sides of the House, would be glad to know what the intentions of the Government really were.


reminded the House that on Wednesday he had stated it to be his intention to oppose such a Bill as that proposed, and on every occasion, if he could get anyone to tell with him, to take a division. The Bill was one of which he thought the House understood the character. He did not intend to block it, because he thought that it should be brought in at any time which was most convenient, and he did not wish to place the Government in any difficulty in that respect; but, feeling very strongly on the subject, he should consider it to be his duty at every stage of the Bill to take a division against its progress.


observed that, in his opinion, some hon. Members opposite did not represent the anxiety of the country to know what the Bill was, because they seemed to understand already what its object was. The hon. Member for the City of London (Mr. R. N. Fowler) had expressed his intention to oppose the measure at every stage; and if everybody was as well informed as the hon. Member was there would be no necessity for delaying the second reading. He thought the appeal of the hon. Member for Guildford (Mr. Onslow) was somewhat unreasonable. The Prime Minister had stated distinctly what was his intention; and although there might be circumstances that would compel the House to take a hostile attitude, what the Prime Minister had said was that he should ask to be allowed to introduce the Bill on Monday. He also stated that he would take the second reading of the Bill at the Morning Sitting on Tuesday, unless there was considerable opposition, and that if there was opposition he would defer that stage till Friday. He would suggest to the hon. Member (Mr. Onslow) that the time to take objection to the course proposed would be on Monday, when the Prime Minister would endeavour to introduce the Bill. It was not for him (the Attorney General) to determine upon the action of the Government; but he was sure that the Prime Minister, if appealed to, would do all he could to afford every opportunity to Members of expressing their views.


wished to know whether the Government proposed to introduce the Bill after the adjournment of the debate on the second reading of the Land Law (Ireland) Bill?


replied that, as he understood, the Government would move to postpone the Orders of the Day after the Land Law (Ireland) Bill in order to introduce this Bill.


wished to know whether the House was to expect a Morning Sitting on Tuesday if the introduction of the Bill was opposed on Monday?


replied, that the noble Earl had heard the statement of the Prime Minister, and he himself had really very little information on the subject; but he was sure that if, on the Motion to be made by the Prime Minister, the noble Earl, or any other hon. Member, wished to express his views in regard to the proper conduct of this measure, he would receive every consideration.

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