MR. R. DUFF moved that a Select Committee be appointed—
To inquire into the expediency of continuing the present system of branding herrings, and into the appropriation of the revenue raised from the brand fee.
The hon. Gentleman said, that he did not propose that night to nominate the Committee; but if the House would consent to the appointment of the Committee, he would postpone the nomination of it until a future day. He believed that his hon. Friend opposite (Mr. A. J. Balfour) had given Notice of opposition to the names of the Committee, and it was for that reason he would not proceed with the nomination now.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, he had given Notice early in the evening that he would oppose the nomination of this Committee, not because he objected to the Select Committee itself, or because he thought the names put down for 533 the constitution of the Committee were those of hon. Members who were not qualified to sit upon it; his objection had a different origin. He found on looking over the names that eight of them were Liberals, six Conservatives, and that one belonged to the Third Party. Some attempt was made last Session to alter the old proportions in which the different Parties were placed on Committees; and it seemed to him, on looking over this list, that that attempt had been renewed. He believed that some communications had passed between those who managed these matters on the other side of the House and the leading Whip of the Conservative Party, and that an agreement had been come to of which he was ignorant. Now, he thought that whatever agreement was arrived at should be made public, and that there should be no chance of a precedent being established for the future which would be made to apply to Committees in which political considerations might possibly enter. He felt satisfied that the minority of the House, of whichever Party it happened to be composed, must be careful not to allow any alteration of the traditional proportions of Committees. He would not oppose the appointment of the Committee, because the discussion he was anxious to raise would more properly come on when the names were put to the House.
§ MAJOR NOLAN
would like to say a word as to to the composition of this Committee. It was a question that was of some importance to Ireland, and it was only right that there should be an Irish Member upon it. He was reminded of the picture in Punch last week depicting a young lady trespassing upon a farmer's land. The farmer asked why she was trespassing over his ground, and the young lady's answer was—"I have no ground of my own, and I must be on somebody's ground." It was quite impossible that the old proportions of Committees could be observed if the Irish Members were to serve upon them as representatives of the Third Party.
§ MR. R. N. FOWLER
wished to ask the hon. and gallant Member for Galway (Major Nolan), who always sat on the Liberal side of the House and persistently supported Her Majesty's Government, if he considered that he was to be placed on a Committee as a Liberal or as a Conservative?
§ MR. SPEAKER
The House is now considering the Question of the appointment of a Select Committee. This discussion is quite irregular now, but might, with propriety, be brought on later, when the nomination of the Committee is under the consideration of the House. The Question now is simply whether a Select Committee should be appointed.
Motion agreed to.
Select Committee appointed, "to inquire into the expediency of continuing the present system of branding herrings, and into the appropriation of the revenue raised from the brand fee."—(Mr. Robert Duff)