HC Deb 08 March 1881 vol 259 cc546-7

asked the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether the Government will give any facilities for the discussion of the Motion relative to the withdrawal of Troops from Southern Afghanistan, of which the Member for Mid-Lincolnshire has given Notice?


Sir, I am most anxious to meet the suggestion conveyed in the Question of my right hon. Friend, both on account of the weight of authority with which it is put and the subject-matter of the Motion to which it relates; and, therefore, I have no difficulty in saying that the very first time that is at our disposal, and in regard to which we can exercise a free choice, shall be given for the purpose indicated. But, having said that, I am sorry I must add that the present condition of Business in the House places us under most severe limitations unconnected with any matter of policy or discretion. As the House is aware, we are desirous to introduce the Irish Land Bill on the first opportunity. That is a question of policy, and, so far, a matter of choice. The other matters to which I must refer are matters of law of a very severe and inflexible character. There are various numerous and important Votes to be taken in Supply, and the very latest day on which the last of those Votes can be taken is next Monday week, the 21st of March. That is the latest day, and, although it is not easy to say how many days the subjects of the Votes will occupy in discussion, yet, making the best calculation we can, we cannot expect to get through them in less than five or six days. Then comes the Ways and Means Act, which must, in order to comply with the provisions of the law, pass the House at the latest not later than March 28, even if that be not too late. There is then the Mutiny Act, upon which it is possible that legitimate discussion may arise, and with regard to which it is necessary that it should pass through this House a considerable time before Easter. These are matters that are perfectly inflexible, to which we must pay the first regard; but, subject to the demands of this particular Business, I will engage to give the right hon. Gentleman and my hon. Friend who has given Notice of Motion the very first day that shall be at our disposal.