§ Order for Committee read.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
asked the Government what were their real intentions with regard to this Bill? Did they really mean to proceed with it this Session? He was quite aware that, at an earlier part of the Sitting, the President of the Local Government Board said that was his intention; but after he made that statement the Government must have observed that great opposition was manifested towards the Bill—opposition coming from both sides of the House. When private Members consented to surrender their own days for the rest of the Session, they did so to facilitate the progress of the Irish Land Bill and all necessary measures—nothing else—and it was also on the distinct understanding that the Session should not be unduly prolonged by taking measures upon which any considerable controversy would arise. Now, he would ask the Government, after the manifestations displayed this evening, and seeing that there were 10 Notices of opposition to the measure on the Paper, whether this Bill did not come within the category of controversial matter; and if, under the circumstances, they really intended to proceed with it this Session? He asked this question for the information and on behalf of many Members not then present; and he might say for himself that the objection he entertained for the measure as originally introduced had been, to a great extent, removed by the changes that had been made in it. But, whatever might be his own view, that did not alter the fact that, having regard to the Notices on the Paper, the Bill was certainly of a controversial character; and he hoped that, under the 1229 circumstances, the Government would reconsider their decision, and not proceed with the Bill that Session.
§ MR. ARTHUR ARNOLD
said, the Government would do well to take very little notice of what the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire called "manifestations" in the House that evening. It was within his (Mr. Arthur Arnold's) knowledge that during the last 48 hours no fewer than 80 Members belonging to both sides of the House bad signed a letter to the Prime Minister, begging him to go on with the measure. With this expression of strong support he hoped the Government would proceed with the measure.
§ MR. BROADHURST
said, the opposition to the Bill came from a very small minority of Members, and he sincerely trusted the Government would not give way to it. Let them remember the enormous number of poor struggling tradesmen, labouring people, and tenant farmers who were suffering each year from the want of some such measure. He certainly looked upon it as a Bill so important that the House should remain in Session until it was passed, and as only second in importance to that Bill upon which the House had been so long engaged.
§ MR. LEEMAN
expressed his astonishment at the slur east upon the Government by the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire in regard to this measure.
§ Mr. CHAPLIN
said, he cast no slur upon the Government; he merely reminded them that they had undertaken not to proceed with measures of controversy.
§ MR. LEEMAN
said, this Bill was one which affected the whole of England very materially, and he trusted the Government would not be inclined for one moment to refrain from adhering to their intention.
§ MR. R. N. FOWLER
, referring to the remarks of the hon. Member for Stockton, mentioned that the Bill was blocked by four Members, who were usually supporters of the Government.
§ MR. HIBBERT
said, there was a very strong feeling in favour of the Bill being proceeded with; and if it was possible to carry the Bill through, his right hon. Friend and the Government would endeavour to pass it.
§ MR. DUCKHAM
said, that, whatever might be the feeling of the Government, there was a very strong feeling throughout the country against the Bill. It had been discussed very freely and fully at the Central Chamber of Agriculture a few months ago, and a unanimous opinion had been expressed in opposition to the measure.
§ EARL PERCY
said, that, after the speech just made, he should like to ask the Government, not whether any Members were in favour of the Bill, but whether there was a distinct expression of feeling against the Bill by a respectable section of the House, not animated by Obstruction, and whether the measure had not come, therefore, under the description of contentious matter? He was strongly in favour of Members using all the power they had to prevent a measure being proceeded with if they objected to it, after the promise which had been given by the Government.
§ Committee deferred till Thursday.