HC Deb 20 February 1882 vol 266 cc1107-24

I beg to move— That the Orders of the Day be postponed until after the Resolutions relating to the Business of the House, of which Notice has been given.


said, he thought the House was entitled to demand some better reason than the right hon. Gentleman had given why he proposed on Monday next to interfere with the decision of the other House in reference to the administration of the Land Act. The House had a right to ask why the right hon. Gentleman should propose a hostile Motion of that character while it was engaged in Business the right hon. Gentleman had described as being of the utmost importance. He thought that was a fair and reasonable demand from the right hon. Gentleman. If Parliament was to be collared all round; if hon. Members were to be gagged in this House; and if the other House was to be threatened by the Prime Minister, then he, for one, as a very humble Member of this House, thought it was high time for them to learn what the intentions of the Government were in this House, and at that very moment.


Sir, nothing could be more irregular on my part than to follow the example of the hon. and gallant Baronet, by discussing the reasons which have led Her Majesty's Government to think that the Notice which I have laid on the Table ought to be given by me on the part of my Colleagues and myself. At the proper time, when I make that Motion, I shall be prepared to state the grave and strong reasons which have led us to believe that the Notice is a necessity, involving not reasons, I may say, as to the position in which this House stands to another House of Parliament, but reasons which have relation to the just necessities of society and of government in Ireland. I will not say one word further, or enter upon a subject which appears to me to be one which I am precluded from entering upon at the present time. At the proper time I shall be prepared to give the reasons of Her Majesty's Government for submitting this Resolution to the House.


, with great deference to the Prime Minister, thought the hon. and gallant Member for West Sussex perfectly in Order in asking the Government to declare their intentions. On the Order Book of the House that night were measures which Government had informed them were of first-rate importance—The Rivers Conservancy and Floods Prevention Bill, and the Corrupt Practices Bill; but the House was now asked to postpone these measures. And for what purpose? For the purpose of entering upon a discussion of the Rules of Procedure. There might be good reason for postponing the proper Business on the Order Book of the House in order to consider the Rules of Procedure of the House; but that was upon one condition only—namely, that the Government should proceed with the consideration of the Rules with all diligence on every Government night until the regulation of the Forms of Procedure was settled. But if the Government interrupted the Business on the Orders of the Day to embark on the consideration of the Rules of Procedure, it was only right that some reason should be given by the Government to let the House know what had influenced them in giving the Notice which had been given that night. At the very threshold, the discussion on the Rules was to be interrupted by a Resolution which, there was reason to know, would give rise to a long and acrimonious debate. He wished, with great deference to the First Lord of the Treasury, to suggest that as the right hon. Gentleman felt it necessary to begin on Monday next a discussion on the Resolution of which he had given Notice, he would allow the House to proceed with the Rivers Conservancy Bill and Corrupt Practices Bill that night, and on Thursday night the House would be able to find some useful Business to go on with, and then after the conclusion of the long and acrimonious debate which would begin on Monday next, perhaps before Easter, and perhaps not until after Easter, the House might in some business fashion commence Business.


said, it was impossible to overlook the importance of the proposal made by the First Lord of the Treasury. The House was asked to pronounce an opinion upon the proceedings of the other House of Parliament. During the few minutes which had been allowed him he had been taxing his memory, and he could remember no instance in which this House by Resolution had reflected on the conduct of the other House acting within its own province; and the synchronism was the more remarkable because the right hon. Gentleman had summoned hon. Members here to-night to consider his proposals for altering Standing Orders and the Rules of Procedure of the House of Commons. This double assault upon the conduct of Parliament could not be justified on the plea of emergency; whatever emergency might exist out of Parliament, there was no emergency either in that House or in the House of Lords. The proposals of the right hon. Gentleman in favour of the adoption of exceptional principles in the government of that House was founded upon a single instance—upon the fact that the Speaker had once, on his own sole authority, ventured to supersede the Standing Orders of the House. There was no other precedent, although the Speaker did himself honour by supplanting the Orders of the House when the House had allowed its action to be paralyzed for three days.


I beg to call the hon. Member's attention to the fact that he is going beyond the Question. The Question before the House is the postponement of the Orders of the Day until after the proposed Rules for the Procedure of the House.


begged pardon if he was out of Order; but it appeared to him that he was only following the line of debate pursued by three other Members. He had been in the House 39 years, and his memory did not serve him with any precedent for what was proposed to be done by the Prime Minister with reference to the House of Lords. He knew of no conduct, either in this House or in the other House of Parliament, that could justify the Prime Minister in declaring any emergency existed in either House of Parliament, or that could justify the course which he proposed.


apprehended that there could not be the slightest difference of opinion among Members as to the manner in which the Motion for postponing the Orders of the Day until after the consideration of the Rules should have been received; but since the Notice of Resolution by the Prime Minister the situation appeared to him to be entirely changed. The Notice for postponing the Orders of the Day in order to consider the Rules was for a purpose in which both sides of the House entirely agreed; because it had been generally considered desirable that some discussion on the Procedure of the House should take place; and for that purpose hon. Members on both sides were prepared to agree to a Motion which would secure that. But it must be apparent that the same importance could not be attached to it now in the mind of the Prime Minister; because the right hon. Gentleman had suddenly flashed upon the House a Motion which was absolutely unprecedented, in so far as it was nothing else than a Vote of Censure on the other House of Parliament. If that was not the meaning of the Prime Minister, some Member of the Government was bound to say what Parliamentary inquiry this Resolution was aimed at. He (Mr. Chaplin) was aware of no inquiry into the working of the Land Act except the inquiry by the other House of Parliament, of which this House had no right to take Parliamentary cognizance. Before this Motion was accepted the House ought to have some further explanation from the Government.


asserted that the reason why the Government objected to any discussion of the working of the Land Act was obvious, inasmuch as the Land Act of last Session had almost entirely broken down.


The hon. Member, I must point out, is going beyond the Question before the House.


submitted that the statement made by the Premier was an argument against the alleged urgency for proceeding to reform the Procedure of the House of Commons. They were told that the discussion now to be begun was to be broken in upon by a Resolution for gagging the House of Lords; and this seemed to show that the ambition of the right hon. Gentleman was to compass the gagging of every order in the State. The other House of Parliament had only done what was right and proper in resolving on an inquiry into the working of a most dubious measure. Looking at the Motions now before them, it seemed that the ideal of Procedure was now to be the gratification of the passing whim of the head of the Liberal Party. He hoped the House would divide against the Motion for the postponement of the Orders of the Day. For his part, he should not think of challenging the Motion before the House. The reform of the Procedure of the House was a matter eminently deserving of consideration. There were many reforms which might be introduced. For instance, they might inflict upon Ministers the duty of speaking in the dinner hour like ordinary Members. But the Prime Minister had suddenly changed the aspect of affairs. At the very time he asked them to consider the reform of the Procedure of the House as a matter of urgency, he gave an intimation of his own opinion that the matter was not so urgent. As he thought that some protest ought to be made against individual capriciousness, which probably would culminate in a few weeks in government by "black hole," he hoped some Members of the House would mark their sense of the arbitrary and contradictory conduct of the Premier by taking a division against his Motion.


said, that it was quite clear that the claim of urgency put forward for the New Rules had disappeared. There was one explanation of the conduct of the Government which must commend itself to hon. Members on the Conservative side of the House. It was that the clôture in its present form was beginning to lose its charm for hon. Members of the other side; and that if the Government intended to interpolate another important Motion into the discussion of the Rules, it was because they wished the clôture to die of inanition and delay. He was certain the House would divide.


said, he hoped that the suggestion of the hon. Member for Dungarvan (Mr. O'Donnell) would not be adopted. If a division were taken now it would be on a false issue, and would give the House of Commons the appearance of seeking to gag the House of Lords.


I think the conversation which is now going on is a very good illustration of the saying that ''Nothing happens except the unexpected." Nobody, I think, could have come down to this House tonight with the slightest idea of what has now taken place; and I must say that it throws a very considerable, and by no means an agreeable, light upon some of the circumstances of our position. It will be in the recollection of the House that for a considerable time before Parliament assembled we heard that the earliest Business which the House ought to proceed with was the reform of its own Rules and Procedure. We have had that statement, not only made publicly and repeatedly by Members of the Government, but we have been told that the first Business, after the ordinary Business of the Address on the Queen's Speech, was to be the Procedure of the House of Commons; and the other night, when this Notice was given, we asked the noble Lord (the Marquess of Hartington) whether it was intended to proceed with these Resolutions, with regard to the Procedure of the House, de die in diem. We were told it was. ["No!"] The expression used, I think, was "Yes;" but it was not proposed to appropriate private Members' nights, and that the discussion of these Rules would be proceeded with de die in diem on the nights appropriated to the Government. It must be obvious to anybody that on such a very important and difficult matter as the alteration of the Rules of Procedure of the House, time—and proper time—must be allowed for their discussion; and I think it must be felt that the Rules are so far connected with one another, and the arguments will be so much interlaced, that it would be exceedingly inconvenient to the House to begin the discussion of the Resolution, and then to find that it will be obliged to be postponed for the discussion of other matters. What had been said at the beginning would be forgotten, or at least it would pass out of our minds, before we came further to consider them. If we commenced with the intention of carrying through the discussion, and a subject arose unexpectedly which made it necessary to interrupt the debate, then I could understand it; but to begin in cold blood, with the knowledge that we shall not have more than two nights, and that it will then have to be suspended, not for a single night, in order, perhaps, to pass some important money Vote, or to take some particular Business, but to introduce a question which will raise the whole of the administration of the Land Act of Ireland, and probably Constitutional questions as to the relations between the two Houses, and other matters on which a large proportion of the House will be deeply interested, and in which many Members will be anxious, no doubt, to take part, appears to me to be a most unfortunate waste of time. As regards the necessity for an alteration of the Rules of the House, I have always felt that the greatest of all securities for the good management of the House, next to the good sense and forbearance of hon. Members themselves—for I put that first—was the good arrangement by the Government of its own Business. If we are to have our Rules of Procedure altered and set right, those who propose to do that for us ought themselves to set us an example of good management. I do not think the experience we have had this Session has added very much to their reputation. Certainly, the proceedings of this evening give us every reason to think that they are not the best economists of our time. But with regard to our position at the present moment, what I really would appeal to the Government to do is to-put off these Resolutions until we can take them up and go through with them; or, if they will not do that, let them, at all events, toll us that no other Business shall be allowed to interrupt these until we have fairly disposed of them, or, at least, the first part of them. With regard to anything beyond that, I should certainly not counsel any division on the present occasion; because it seems that we should be rather acting at the wrong moment, for the time at which we ought to take any division should rather be next Monday. If we have not finished this Business, and if we are invited to begin some other matter, I think we ought to give Notice, and I should be prepared to support any Motion on Monday, if we are asked to suspend one Business in order to take up new Business; but, under the present circumstances, I hope the Government will tell us before we begin our debate that we shall be allowed to continue it.


The right hon. Gentleman has been a severe and, I think, hardly a reasonable critic of the management of Business up to the present time by the Government in the House of Commons. The right hon. Gentleman says we have already not been very successful. So far as I am aware, the only Business the Government has yet proposed to the House has been the vote of an Address to Her Majesty. I understand the right hon. Gentleman to refer to what took place last Tuesday night; but there was no other Business then which the Government could possibly have brought on, because the House was engaged with the Business of private Members. The right hon. Gentleman says that what has taken place this evening is entirely unexpected; and the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin) says it has come upon the House without a word of warning. Now, Sir, what has been given now is the word of warning. When the Government has important Business to propose it is the usual course to give Notice, and that is what we have done this evening. What the right hon. Gentleman does not want is that we should give Notice this evening. Did he want that it should be published in the newspapers this morning that the Government were going to give Notice this evening? What would the right hon. Member or any hon. Member have said if we had proposed to discuss this Resolution now? That is what they seem to wish us to do instead of waiting till Monday next. It seems to me that to make a statement now on the Motion of which Notice has been given by my right hon. Friend would be unusual and contrary to the Rules of the House. The right hon. Gentleman says that this is unexpected, and he seems to complain that no announcement was made before. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman is unaware that unexpected occurrences have taken place. It is impossible that we could have stated to the House before what course we should take in the event of a contingency which had not arisen, and which we had hoped might not arise. It is said this makes a great difference in the matter of the urgency of the New Rules; but I would venture to point out to the House that there are different degrees of urgency. Urgent as is the question of the reform of the Procedure of this House, we consider—as has been stated by my right hon. Friend—the condition of Ireland, and questions affecting its government, and the administration of the Act which regulates the tenure of land in Ireland, is a question at this moment of even greater urgency than the Rules of the House of Commons. The right hon. Gentleman has also said he understood the discussion of the New Rules would be continued de die in diem on Government nights. No such intimation was given. On the contrary, when asked a Question on the subject, I said that no such proposal would be made. No doubt, it was our intention to proceed with that Business as far as lay in our power on Government nights; but no assurance to that effect was given, or could be given, because it will very probably be necessary for us, in a short time, as the right hon. Gentleman has suggested, to interrupt our debate upon the New Rules in order to obtain certain necessary Votes for the Committee of Supply. I am glad to hear that the right hon. Gentleman, although he has given some encouragement to a dilatory course, consents to vote for the postponement of the Orders of the Day. On this day week we shall be prepared to state the course which we think it necessary to take, and I think that it will be more convenient to discuss the question then than to discuss it now, when it is not before the House.


said, the noble Lord had just announced that there were degrees of urgency, and that the Irish Question was more urgent than the Procedure of Parliament. Of course, the Government knew their own business better than unofficial Members, and he accepted that statement without question. But if it was correct, he would like to suggest a way of dealing with the matter that would be more satisfactory to the House, and, he could not help thinking, more convenient to the House. They knew that the discussion about to be commenced on the Rules of the House could not terminate that night or that week. It would certainly run on for three or four nights, at least. To begin a discussion, continue it for two nights, and then shut it up, would be most unbusiness-like. And yet that would have to be the case if the Government proposal was adhered to. The Amendment of his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Brighton (Mr. Marriott) would certainly occupy tonight and Thursday night. It would not even close then. On Monday the discussion on the action of the House of Lords respecting the Land Act would have to be taken. That discussion might last for a considerable time. No one could say when it would finish. It would open the flood-gates of Irish and Conservative indignation; and they had an imperfect acquaintance with the House of Commons who thought that when Members were once started on such a controversy they would soon leave off. His proposal was that the Resolution which the Prime Minister had given Notice of should be taken on Thursday night instead of Monday, and that tonight the ordinary Business of the House should be proceeded with. There were Bills on the Paper of importance and interest, and they could be gone forward with. As the Procedure discussion could not close before the other question was begun, and as by interjecting one question into the other they would make confusion worse confounded, he would urge Ministers to abandon altogether the contemplated debate on the Resolutions until they could be taken consecutively and continuously. He did not enter into any discussion as to the wisdom of the course the House of Lords had thought it well to adopt, or as to the Resolution the Prime Minister intended to move. These were not points to debate then. All he wished to do was to suggest a way by which the House could get out of the confusion that would inevitably ensue with the mixing up of two subjects so very different. If they began the Procedure discussion to-night, and adjourned it indefinitely, they would have forgotten, when they began again, what had been said at starting. Altogether, the arrangement struck him as undesirable, and the changes he had suggested would be preferable.


asked the Speaker whether it was in the power of the House to discuss a Resolution passed by the other House of Parliament, which Resolution could not come before the House in the shape of a Bill or in any other official form?


In answer to the noble Lord's Question, all I can say at present is that the Notice of Motion of the right hon. Gentleman is regular, and that I can see no reason against dealing with the Resolution on technical grounds.


said, he hoped that some Member of the Government would answer the suggestion which had been made by the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. J. Cowen). Anything more awkward than the position in which the House would find itself next Monday could hardly be imagined. If the right hon. Gentleman really was of opinion that the debate on the 1st Resolution on Public Business would be finished this week, he could understand that there might be sufficient reason for postponing the Notice relating to the Motion with regard to Ireland until that Resolution might be made operative in that debate. He did not suppose, however, that the right hon. Gentleman or any other Member of this House was of opinion that the debate upon the 1st of the Business Resolutions was likely to be concluded in the course of the two days which the Government had at their disposal in the present week. That being so, they would be compelled to postpone the further consideration of the Resolutions till some almost indefinite period, or, at least, until they had been able to obtain from this House a declaration of opinion upon the Notice which had just been given by the First Lord of the Treasury. If on Thursday next they were to enter upon a discussion of that proposal, they would be going into a question for which the Government demanded special urgency, and they would be commencing the discussion three days earlier than the Government themselves proposed to commence it. They would, in that case, be able to take up that matter and discuss it fully from beginning to end, and would be able afterwards to treat the Business of the House as an entire question. He was desirous of consulting the convenience of the House at large, and was quite sure an economy of public time would be effected by that arrangement. He trusted it might be possible, before the House was called on to pronounce upon the Motion now before it, to have yet some further explanation from the Treasury Bench.


The right hon. Gentleman, who regretted that no Member of the Government was ready to speak after the hon. Member for Newcastle, himself prevented me from pointing out to him what I think he would at once see would have been a greater objection to the suggestion he has just made. I am not at all surprised at the suggestion coming from the hon. Member for Newcastle; but there are necessities of Public Business which it is the duty of the Government to take cognizance of, and which are not likely to be within the cognizance of private Members. Our view is, that all along, when we had the option, we would make the question of Procedure urgent; but when a phrase of the kind is used there is always the term "optional" reserved. No term "optional" would refer to a reserve—first, for legal and financial necessities; and, second, for political necessities. Now, there has arisen what we think to be a political necessity. ["Oh!"] I do not want to filch from the House any admission of that kind; but, on that account, we think we cannot name a later date than Monday for discussing that political necessity. The hon. Member for Newcastle, not unnaturally, says—"Why so late as Monday; why not take it on Thursday?" The state of the case is this. We do not so entirely despair of making a real progress in the discussion on Procedure as some right hon. Gentlemen opposite appear to do. We stand thus. We have to-night before us—at least, we hope so, for the hours are beginning to glide away. We cannot ask, and do not propose to ask, private Members to dislodge their Notices for to-morrow; but when their Motions are disposed of we hope to make some valuable progress in the discussion on Procedure. We shall then have Thursday for continuing it. But that is not the main question. The main objection which applies to the suggestion of the hon. Member is that, if we began the discussion on the Irish Motion on Thursday, we should not be able to continue it on Friday; and if we succeed, as I shall be very glad if we do succeed, in getting rid for the time of some preliminary Motions on going into Supply, we must go into Supply on Friday. It is an absolute necessity that we should ask the House to go into Supply on Friday, and, if necessary, to sit even on Saturday for the purpose. ["Oh!"] The law is a great deal stronger than even the reluctance of hon. Members opposite, which has found vent in exclamations from that Bench. I am not stating any choice on the part of Her Majesty's Government, but the legal necessity of the case, which would prevent us from taking Friday if we took Thursday for discussing the Irish Question. That, I apprehend, would really be the most inconvenient position in which to put the House. I am not prepared to throw away this evening; but I think the House will see that, in these circumstances, we have no option but to ask the House to continue, as we have suggested, to make what way we can between this time and Thursday night, and then to discharge the legal necessity there is upon us to take certain Irish Supplementary Votes in reference to the government in that country, and get these disposed of—I hope the House would dispose of them—they do not raise questions of principle—before Sunday; and then on Monday, when we shall no longer have any absolute bar, to continue this discussion, to deal with the subject of which I have given Notice to-night, and after that to revert to the consideration of the question of Procedure.


said, he thought the House would agree with him that the Prime Minister had given the strongest possible reason why they should not proceed with the debate on the Rules that night. In replying to the reasonable suggestion of the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. J. Cowen) the right hon. Gentleman had now informed the House of what they were ignorant of before, and they should not have known it now but for the interposition of the hon. Member for Newcastle—that it was intended to postpone the Business of the day to consider this Resolution, and they were told in the most unprecedented manner that it might be necessary to sit on Saturday, and not only so, but to take Supply necessarily on Friday, and then sit till this necessary Vote should be given. The course of the right hon. Gentleman was very clear; but he (Sir E. Assheton Cross) said at this time of the Session it was unprecedented to ask the House to sit on Saturday for Supply. If Supply were so necessary it ought to be put down for Thursday. The noble lord (the Marquess of Hartington) said that the Government were not responsible for the "count out" on Tuesday; but it was not a "count out" that prevented the Attorney General for Ireland, who was sitting on the Treasury Bench the whole time, from replying to a speech which undoubtedly required an answer. The consequence of that was that the whole of the time on a later day was wasted, during which the House had a three hours' speech from the Attorney General for Ireland, which should have been delivered on Tuesday. If any possible reason could have been given why the House should not enter upon the consideration of these Rules, it had been given by the Prime Minister. If the time was so urgent, the House should have been told before the speech made by the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. J. Cowen).


said, he had never heard anything more misleading than the assurances which Her Majesty's Government, through the Prime Minister, gave the private Members in the House that they did not intend to take then-days; because it now appeared that the Prime Minister, knowing that Supply was urgent, intended to take it on Friday, with the threat of a possible Morning Sitting on Saturday. Every hon. Member knew perfectly well what chance private Members had with their Motions on going into Committee of Supply when the Prime Minister informed private Members that the Government must have their Votes in Supply, or there would be a Saturday Sitting. It was not fair or ingenuous to assure the House that he would not take private Members' days, and then to come down and declare, first, that he intended to take other Government Business on Monday next, and then that he had intended all along to take urgent Supply on a private Members' night, thus breaking into private Members' time, and not allowing the House to have that leisure for its Business which it should have.


remarked that the time for discussing the proposed New Rules, which they had met to consider, was gliding away. And why? Because the Prime Minister had come down upon them like a thunder-clap with Notice of a Resolution which was likely to load to a proceeding which would be positively unconstitutional. The right hon. Gentleman was not satisfied with a conflict in Ireland and a conflict in that House, but now wished. them to engage in a conflict with the other House of Parliament. He (Sir Henry Tyler) hoped they would not continue to have this kind of Obstruction from the Prime Minister, who did more, he contended, to create and promote causes of Obstruction than any other Member of the House.


said, the announcement of the Prime Minister as to the necessity of taking Supply on Friday had entirely changed the aspect of affairs. It might be the case, as the Prime Minister stated, that the Votes to be asked in Supply would be Votes that would be given without question or without debate; but the Prime Minister was very well aware that Friday was already occupied by a Motion that would certainly take the whole of the evening. [Mr. GLADSTONE: I am not aware of that.] He was sorry to appear to differ from the right hon. Gentleman; but he should have thought that the right hon. Gentleman was aware of the Motion that was down for that evening. He (Mr. W. H. Smith) thought that the course the right hon. Gentleman proposed would not inconsiderably aggravate the hostility that was likely to be raised, and make it almost impossible for the House to approach a consideration of the question with that calmness and deliberation that it required. It would be a waste of time to consider the Rules of Procedure now and on Thursday, for it was quite clear that no real progress would be made in two days; and as it was perfectly open to the Government to proceed to the next Business on the Paper, he would propose that they should now do so. If such an arrangement were come to, they might make some real progress in important Business that night.


I should like to say that the object of the Government in proposing to take Supply on Friday, and not on Thursday, was purely for the convenience of the House to give it all the time possible for the consideration of the Rules of Procedure; but we have no objection to putting down Supply as the first Order on Thursday, if it is the wish of the House, with a view of going on with Procedure afterwards.


understood the Prime Minister was prepared to put down Supply as the first Order on Thursday, and that the right hon. Gentleman had given an assurance to that effect. It was, in the highest degree, important that that should be done, because the Votes which he understood would be asked for were the Supplemental Irish Votes, which raised the entire question of the extraordinary expenditure that had been going on in Ireland during the Excess—an expenditure which might lead to a very prolonged debate and to the closest and most clear examination. That being so, and the Prime Minister having in a very proper manner met the wishes expressed on that side of the House in that respect, might he be allowed to ask whether, if the House now agreed to the right hon. Gentleman's Motion, and proceeded to consider the Motion which he had made as to the Procedure of the House in debate, he would agree to an adjournment of the debate after he had made his statement on the 1st Resolution? It would be absolutely useless to begin the debate on the 1st Resolution after the speech of the Prime Minister, for such an important debate as that could not be carried on till Heaven knew how long. Supply was to be taken on Thursday, and the Irish Resolution on Monday; and the House could not, therefore, contemplate on the continuance of the debate for throe or four weeks, because the Prime Minister knew very well that he was not going to take from private Members—at least on that side of the House—the nights that were set apart for the discussion of private Members' affairs. He hoped the Prime Minister would be satisfied with putting the House in possession of his arguments in favour of his Motion, and allow the House to proceed with its other Business.


said, that although the Irish Members had the greatest interest in any inquiry that might be made into the working of the Land Act, they did not fear any such inquiry. He hoped, therefore, that the Government would not take the discussion on the matter on Monday next.


wished to know what course the Government really meant to pursue in regard to Public Business? The Prime Minister had so far taken the House into his confidence as to state that, under certain conditions, Supply might be taken on Thursday; and, in order to enable him to further explain his intentions, he begged to move the adjournment of the debate.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Sir John Hay.)


asked the Prime Minister whether the two first Orders of the Day—the Rivers Conservancy and Floods Prevention Bill and the Parliamentary Elections (Corrupt and Illegal Practices) Bill—had been printed?


was gratified at the conciliatory spirit in which the Prime Minister had agreed to fixing Supply for Thursday. Excellent as this arrangement was, however, how would it affect the proposals now before the House? To take up this immense subject of the reformation of the Orders of Procedure of the House upon one night, then having to stop on Thursday, and nobody knowing when they could again be proceeded with, seemed to him almost an absurdity. He therefore appealed to the Government to go one step further, and as they had given up taking these Resolutions on Thursday to state that the Prime Minister would not go on with his Resolutions that night. It would be much better that they should commence the great struggle as to Forms of Procedure at a time when it could be continued. With respect to the suggestion of his noble Friend the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill), whose suggestions he generally heard with respect and pleasure, he must say that it appeared to him a little unfortunate. If he understood his noble Friend aright, it was that the opening statement of the Prime Minister should go forth to the House and the country without any reply whatever, that the country might have the pleasure of reading it and deliberating upon it, without any reply whatever having been offered to it. That, he thought, was hardly consistent with a judicial discussion of the question in the House or in the country, and he could not support that suggestion, which he hoped would not be pressed.

Question put, and negatived.

Original Question put. Ordered That the Orders of the Day be postponed until after the Resolutions relating to the Business of the House, of which Notice has been given.—(Mr. Gladstone.)

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