I rise, Sir, to move the Resolution standing in my name—That the Resolution of the 3rd February 1881, relating to Urgency in the Business of the House, be revived.I said just now that in making this Motion I should give the reasons on which it is founded; but I shall feel it to be consistent with my duty, and, indeed, imposed upon me by my duty, to state them with the greatest brevity. If hon. Members will have the kindness to follow the few words I am about to say, I think that they will say that our reasons do not stand in need of any explanation. The points which I ask the House fairly to consider are these:—In the first place, the great importance and the character of the Bill for the Prevention of Crime in Ireland; secondly, the fact that the Bill has been for 23 days in Committee of this House; thirdly, the extreme necessity, even were it not in relation to Ireland alone, of proceeding with the consideration of other Business, and especially with the important measure with regard to arrears in Ireland; and in the fourth place, the terrible state of the country, which must fill with horror the mind of every man who can feel himself responsible for interposing one hour's delay in the way of legislation with regard to it. I only add this statement—that I propose this Motion at the present time with respect to Urgency in view of one Bill only, because in re- 1306 spect of one Bill only have I had any proof afforded me that it is necessary. We have already delayed long before making this Motion; and now that it is made, bearing in mind the circumstances and the character of the Motion, I am content, Sir, without length and development of statement, to place my Resolution simply in your hands.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That the Resolution of the 3rd February 1881, relating to Urgency in the Business of the House, be revived."—(Mr. Gladstone.)
§ MR. CHAPLIN
said, he would have been content to suffer the Motion to pass without remark if he had clearly understood from the Prime Minister that the Resolution was to be distinctly limited to the Bill for the Prevention of Crime. He thought that they ought to have a distinct understanding from the Government that the Resolution was not to be applied to the Arrears Bill. He considered that the expressions used by the Prime Minister were a distinct menace that under certain circumstances he would admit the plea of Urgency to the Arrears Bill. The right hon. Gentleman said, "At present I only propose to ask Urgency for the Crime Prevention Bill." What was he (Mr. Chaplin) to infer from that? That when the time came for discussing the Arrears Bill, Urgency would be asked in order to pass it at once. That was exactly the ground of his opposition at the present moment. The right hon. Gentleman might wish to apply Urgency not only to the case of the Crime Prevention Bill, but to that of any Bill.
said, Urgency would only be asked in case of necessity connected with the Business of the House.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
But what the right hon. Gentleman might regard as a necessity in connection with the Business of the House might be regarded very differently by hon. Members. He certainly, for one, would not consent to a Motion for the Urgency that was demanded now until they had a distinct assurance that it was not demanded on this occasion for the purpose of being applied to a Bill such as the Arrears Bill.
§ MR. PARNELL
said, he begged to move the addition of the following words at the end of the Resolution:— 1307Provided, That so much of the Resolution, as requires that the Question be resolved in the affirmative by a majority of not less than three to one, be dispensed with.The Prime Minister had stated just now that if he found that the Arrears Bill required Urgency, he would make a proposal to extend the Resolution to that Bill, but that at present the Resolution of Urgency was confined to the Prevention of Crime Bill. He begged to remind the Prime Minister that it would not be in his power unless this Proviso were adopted to extend Urgency to the Arrears Bill, because his supporters were not numerous enough to secure a majority of 51 in a House of 300 Members. He proposed to leave the provision, with regard to 300 Members, intact; but he asked the Government to agree to the addition of this Proviso. If the Prime Minister's declaration in reference to the passing of the Arrears Bill were made bonâ fide, the right hon. Gentleman would show it by now securing the power to apply Urgency to that measure.
At the end of the Question, to add the words "Provided, That so much of the Resolution, as requires that the Question be resolved in the affirmative by a majority of not less than three to one, be dispensed with."—(Mr. Parnell.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there added."
§ MR. PLUNKET
said, that it was a little inconvenient that this process, which would alter this provision, which would altogether alter the character of the Prime Minister's Resolution, should be proposed without any Minister of the Crown being present.
§ Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members being found present,
§ MR. PLUNKET
, resuming, said, he did not suppose that the Government were going to assent to that Proviso, and he merely rose to elicit some information from them on that subject.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, that nothing could have been more distinct than the Prime Minister's statement that he proposed to revive Urgency in the same form as that in which it was introduced last year. The views of the Government on the subject generally were well known. They did not propose 1308 to apply this Rule except on the particular occasion in question.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
said, he could not reconcile the statement of the Prime Minister with regard to applying Urgency to the Arrears Bill with the attitude the Government were taking now. With regard to this statement, he would be very much obliged to the Home Secretary if he would inform him how they proposed to carry out this Motion of Urgency? In order to obtain Urgency they would require to have a majority of 3 to 1 in a House of not less than 300 Members; and if the Arrears Bill were put down for Urgency, the House would certainly contain more than 100 Members of the Conservative Party, and, accordingly, they would defeat any attempt on the part of the Government to declare Urgency with regard to the Arrears Bill. It should not be forgotten that last year a proposal to vote Urgency in connection with Supply was defeated by the Opposition. Any attempt to obtain a vote of Urgency for the Arrears Bill would be destined to fail unless a proposal such as that made by the hon. Member for the City of Cork, should be agreed to. He thought that the Government were acting inconsistently with their own professions, and that they would be acting more wisely for themselves, and more in accordance with their promises, if they accepted the Resolution of his hon. Friend that it should be carried by a simple majority.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, he was the only Conservative Member who voted for Urgency for Supply last year; but he must decline to vote for the Amendment of the hon. Member for Cork City, out of regard to the freedom of the House. In dealing with the rights of minorities they ought to act with the greatest caution.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
Sir, no doubt this proposal has been made by the Government in the sense stated by the Home Secretary, and as was stated by the Prime Minister—that is to say, it is a revival of the Rule which, after a good deal of discussion, was adopted in the last Session. It would, of course, be quite unfair to the House if any course were adopted without Notice for a change in that Rule, and I presume the Government and the majority of the House will adhere to the Rule as it was passed. I wish to point 1309 out to the House, with reference to what has been said by the hon. Member for Galway (Mr. T. P. O'Connor), that he observed that last year, after Urgency had been voted in the case of one Bill, it was asked for again by the Government for the purpose of facilitating certain Votes in Supply, and it was refused—that is to say, it was not acceded to by a sufficient proportion of the House. I must remind him that the consequence was, not that the measures which were important, and held to be important by the Government, failed; but, on the contrary, we were able to do without what is necessarily inconvenient and altogether abnormal—a condition of Urgency,; and I feel perfectly sure that the same will be the case in this House on all occasions—namely, when a Resolution for Urgency stands on the Paper; and if an attempt is made to apply it to a measure in which it does not appear to the House to be required, they will resist an infraction on the liberty of debate. It would be a very great misfortune if it were otherwise—and certainly it is one which we ought not to incur without our attention being specially drawn to it—to hand over to the majority for the time being, which may happen to be a very small majority, the power of shutting up the whole freedom of debate in the House. When you have before you a measure which in itself appears to the great majority of the House to be urgent, we are prepared, as we were last Session, and as we should be prepared again, to sacrifice something for the freedom of debate, in order to promote that important measure. This is what is now proposed to be done, and will be done, I understand, with reference to the Prevention of Crime Bill. Of course, the other measures to which reference has been made are not included in this Resolution; but it would be possible, if the House should be convinced at any future time, and the Government were to make the demand upon us for Urgency in regard to any other measure, and if a majority of three-fourths were convinced that that course was necessary, it would be applicable. But we do not anticipate, and I do not understand that the Government anticipate, that anything of that kind is likely to be required, though, if the Government take that course, it would be for the House to say whether or not 1310 they would assent to it. I do not understand that we at all sacrifice our liberty, and I myself protest in advance against any Motion that might be made on the part of the Government to apply Urgency where it was not manifestly clear it was necessary. But, in the present circumstances, you have a case of very pressing necessity. The case has been stated shortly by the Prime Minister, and with it everybody is familiar. You have before you a Bill for the prevention of crime and outrages upon Her Majesty's subjects in Ireland; and considering how long that measure has been under discussion, and how long it is still possible, under the ordinary Rules of debate, to keep it from the decision of the House, I do not think that the Government do an unreasonable thing in asking for Urgency for the purposes of that Bill. I feel quite satisfied that the other measures will be advantaged in one respect by the passing of this Motion for Urgency. The Prevention of Crime Bill will be got out of the way sooner than it would be otherwise, and there will be more time for the discussion of other measures; but when we come to discuss those measures, we hold ourselves entirely free to exercise our discretion with regard to the circumstances to be presented to us as calling for Urgency. The Prime Minister is not in his place, or I should have been very glad to take the opportunity of asking him to give us a little more light than he has yet done with regard to the other Business of the House which he is asking us to facilitate. I think, when we are adopting the Rule of Urgency, and acting on Rules for the maintenance of discipline amongst Members, we are in a position to call on the Government, and ask whether it is their intention to proceed with those Rules, and especially one of those Rules which they have laid before us with regard to Procedure? I wish the Government to take notice that we are giving every facility for the conduct of important Business. We are quite sure they are making this demand in thorough good faith, and not intending to make a demand for anything beyond it. But, at the same time, they will observe that we most clearly hold them responsible for making provision in the remainder of the Session for the bringing forward of such measures as it may be necessary still to discuss, and allowing 1311 us to discuss them under fair and unrestricted regulations. In proposing that Urgency should be granted, we make a very considerable surrender, not only with regard to the proceedings upon the Bill in respect of which Urgency is asked, but we make a surrender in respect of the powers which we gave to the Speaker to deal with other Business, in order, while Urgency continues, to facilitate the progress of the particular measure in question. For instance, last year, in the Rules the Speaker laid down there was a provision that, so long as Urgency continued, the Motion for adjournment during Question time should be absolutely prohibited unless the House should give assent. We cannot help feeling that at the present time there are circumstances, and there may be other circumstances, which from time to time may render it very necessary for us to introduce, on short Notice, perhaps without any Notice at all, questions for discussion upon matters of the very highest importance; and I think we ought not to be placed in a position in which it would be impossible for us, under the Rules of Urgency, to bring forward questions such as may arise. And I venture respectfully to submit to you, Sir, the importance of making some provision, in any Rules you may lay down, which would prevent the absolute exclusion of matters of prime importance, of pressing and sudden gravity, which may arise during the period that Urgency is still in existence.
§ MR. DILLWYN
said, he would be very glad to see the Amendment of the hon. Member for the City of Cork carried, because he believed no measure was so deserving of Urgency as the Arrears Bill. At the same time, he hoped the Amendment would not be pressed, as it might look like sharp practice if, as no Notice had been given of it, the House were thus taken by surprise.
MR. O'CONNOR POWER
said, he regretted that he could not agree with the hon. Member for Swansea (Mr. Dillwyn). In the opinion of the Government, both the Prevention of Crime Bill and the Arrears Bill were urgent, though not in an equal degree. The attitude taken by the Leader of the Opposition meant that while the Conservatives were willing to concede Urgency for any amount of repressive legislation, they did not hold out a shadow of hope that in any 1312 remedial Bill laid on the Table by the Government they would recognize a measure which was urgently called for by the present condition of Ireland. It had been observed by his hon. Friend who last addressed the House that the hon. Member for the City of Cork had given no Notice of his Amendment. He would remind the hon. Member that the House had been engaged during the last two or three days in doing a great many serious things without any Notice. The real point of the matter was this—was it necessary that the House should declare the Arrears Bill of the Government equally urgent with the Prevention of Crime Bill? He believed, for his own part, that both these Bills were equally urgent, and he felt persuaded that if the Amendment of the hon. Member for the City of Cork afforded the only means of securing Urgency for the Arrears Bill, the Government would let slip an opportunity that would not occur again. He wished to know why the Government were so anxious to shut the stable-door now that the steed had been stolen? If Urgency was necessary to-night, it was necessary on Thursday last; and why did not the Government then ask for it, and avoid the suspension of 25 Members of the House? He thought he was justified in calling attention to that peculiar mode of conducting the Business of the House. As a matter of fact, the Prime Minister had frequently been invited to ask for Urgency, but had steadily refused to do so; and it was not too much to say that up to a certain point the discussion had been encouraged rather than curtailed, and then, without any Notice, the Chairman, who had been watching the proceedings, thought it his duty to suspend 25 Members of the House. It would have been more statesmanlike on the part of the Government if they had shown a little foresight. They were always behind time in asking for repressive measures, and they always hurriedly put the padlock on the door when the steed was 20 miles off. He confessed that, seeing the extraordinary power which the Chairman of Committees and the Speaker were permitted to exercise, he did not see the necessity of Urgency at all. If they had taken measures at the proper time they would have averted the discredit of suspending 25 Members, for it must be a discredit 1313 to any Legislature to disfranchise 25 constituencies to obtain several important clauses of a Bill. Now, he could not be accused of assailing the forbearance of the Government. His complaint was that the Government had waited too long, and had then acted hastily and suddenly.
§ MR. JOHN BRIGHT
Sir, the hon. and learned Member for Mayo (Mr. O'Connor Power) speaks of the word "urgent" as if it had only one meaning. There is no doubt whatever that the Arrears Bill is a Bill, in a certain sense, as respects the permanent interests of Ireland—in fact, probably more urgent than the Prevention of Crime Bill. But as respects the mode of action in the House it is not nearly so urgent; and the urgency with regard to its effect upon Ireland being admitted, I should deny altogether any proved necessity for the claim for Urgency in respect of that Bill in this House. The hon. and learned Member for Mayo, the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell), and the hon. Member for Galway (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) know the Government is pledged to the course they now ask the House to adopt. The Government could not accept the Amendment, and it would not be fair to hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House and to the House in general. Will anybody deny that Urgency is required for this particular Bill? The hon. and learned Member for Mayo has spent several minutes in chastising the Government because they did not ask for Urgency at a much earlier period, and he said he should be told the Government were forbearing. But does he, as an Irishman, blame the Government for its forbearance? Surely, it is not a creditable thing in the House of Commons that its ordinary Rules should be suspended, and that Urgency should be required for the passing of a Bill which—what can I say—more than nine-tenths of the House are favourable to. That is not a thing which is creditable; and yet the Government is to be blamed, because it hoped that Irish Members sitting in that part of the House, knowing the condition of their country, would not oppose a Bill that many of them have admitted to be necessary. ["No, no!"] I do not say they admitted that every clause was necessary; but they admitted, many of them—I do not know how many admitted in private—but they did admit in public, that some measure 1314 was necessary, with the view of repressing the terrible crimes by which Ireland has literally been disgraced. Surely, Irish Members are not to blame the Prime Minister because he hoped they might take a reasonable view of this question. They have not taken a reasonable view of it. They have, by a most ingenious system, apparently without violating any law of the House, by a small minority, made it impossible to pass this Bill through the House; and, finally, after the scenes of the last few days, it has become necessary to ask for Urgency, and I believe, except that small handful of Members, the House is ready to grant that to the Government. The Arrears Bill consists of very few clauses. If the Government supposed, as well, that that Bill would be received by Members in that quarter of the House with the pertinacious hostility with which they received the Prevention of Crime Bill, then they might find it necessary to ask for Urgency in regard to it. [Mr. T. P. O'CONNOR: But could they carry it?"] That is a matter I make no prophecy about. If they would not be able to carry it, it may be an additional reason why they should not ask for it. But let that pass. I judge from the discussion which took place on the second reading of that Bill that there can be no kind of opposition made to it, such as Irish Members have made to the Prevention of Crime Bill. The only difference between hon. Members and ourselves, so far as I remember, was that they objected to public money being handed over to pay arrears, as a gift, and proposed instead that money should be advanced as a loan. But, as we understood, they proposed that the loan should be of such a character that it would require a microscope to discover between a loan and a gift. [Mr. GIBSON: No, no!"] The right hon. and learned Gentleman speaks as if he thought I had exaggerated the case, or rather diminished too much the difference between us. However, it is not a matter like this great Bill that we have been discussing. It is a very different question. We have the authority of a laborious Committee in another House, and the authority of Members on this Front Bench, that, in regard to this question, and some matters connected with the land in Ireland, other proceedings and other legislation may before 1315 long be necessary. I have, therefore, great confidence myself, much more than I had, in hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway with regard to the Crime Bill. I have considerable confidence with regard to hon. Gentlemen that in the Arrears Bill they will make a fair and a manly opposition to that which they disapprove of, and that they will bow, as we all ought to bow, to the expression of the will of the majority of the House, and that they will offer no factious opposition to the measure. If that be so, and if the Government are of that opinion, they are surely justified in not asking for Urgency. I venture to say that if hon. Members below, who are so anxious for the Bill now, but do not appear to have been the least anxious during the last five weeks—I venture to say that if they will give as steady a support to the Bill as they have given opposition to the Bill now before the House, I am quite sure that, whatever may be the eloquence, or the combination, or the confidence of hon. Gentlemen opposite, the Arrears Bill will not be long in passing through this House, and going to another House, where I hope it may meet with the fortune which we expect for it here. I think the hon. and learned Member for Mayo may be satisfied, from the explanation I have given, that it is impossible for the Government to accept the Amendment of the hon. Member for the City of Cork. It would be breaking off from pledges, and there is no kind of necessity shown to the House, nothing in the conduct of hon. Gentlemen opposite, or in the nature of the Bill, which would justify the Government in departing from the course which they have laid down.
§ VISCOUNT NEWPORT
said, that, in separating himself from his Party on the question before the House, he hoped he would not be suspected of a wish to delay the progress of the Bill; but he did not think, judging from the experience of last year, that the Urgency Rules would really expedite the passage of the Bill through the House, and he thought they were dangerous in principle, as involving the principle of the clôture, to which he was strongly opposed. In his opinion, it was unnecessary to enforce such Rules until it became clearly apparent that every existing means for dealing with Obstruction had been exhausted.
said, it was quite evident that the Government came down with that Motion to the House because they were ashamed of the scene in which they had been engaged. He was sure that an all-night Sitting must have been singularly distasteful to many Members of the Government, and especially to the hon. Member for Liskeard (Mr. Courtney) in his capacity of Secretary to the Treasury, in which he had to arrange the Business of the House. He said that because when an all-night Sitting was proposed by the late Government, the proposal to bring Members in relays was stigmatized by the hon. Gentleman as "rowdyism." The hon. Member for Liskeard was thus obliged to have recourse to a method which he formerly styled rowdyism. Then the Postmaster General, whose general fairness and honour was recognized by all, had in the same Parliament said that the plan of bringing relays of Members was perfectly unconstitutional, and that if the Government introduced relays it would not be only three or four Members whom they would have to meet. Yet the right hon. Gentleman had been driven to sanction what he had formerly called an unconstitutional proceeding. It appeared to him that, although a Liberal Administration had been in Office nearly three years and commanded a large majority in the House of Commons, there had been more infringement of the ordinary Rules of Procedure of the House, and more recourse to methods which they had themselves stigmatized as rowdyism, than during all the previous time that he had been a Member of that House. The Government had come to the conclusion that they could not get their measures through without recourse to the Rules of Urgency, which had before been tried and abandoned. Urgency would not be required if there had been an honest attempt to carry out the Resolutions of his right hon. Friend the Member for North Devon of the 28th of February, 1880. Last year appeals had been made by Members on his side of the House, both above and below the Gangway, to the Chairman of Ways and Means to apply that Order of the 28th of February. But the Chairman persistently denied that he had power to put that Resolution in force for the purpose of putting down Obstruction. Why? Because the Government wished to discredit his right hon. Friend's Resolu- 1317 tion as useless and inoperative. Yet they had an all-night Sitting, and a terrible power had been exercised, which the Chairman, and, he believed, the Speaker, believed themselves to possess. If the Chairman and the Speaker had the power of suspending 25 Members in a batch, what necessity could there be for Urgency? The right hon. Baronet's Rule was declared to be feeble, and Urgency was introduced. But now an immense weapon was placed in the hands of the authorities of the House, and he could not understand what the Rules of Urgency were wanted for. Let the measure proceed to a third reading, and if there were any wilful Obstruction, let the obstructing Members be suspended. It appeared, however, from the speech of the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, that the Government had pledged themselves to the adoption of Urgency for the Prevention of Crime Bill.
said, he demurred to the right hon. and learned Gentleman's interruption, as he was not in the House at the time the speech was made.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
I understood the hon. and learned Gentleman to state that the Prime Minister had said so. ["No!"] I heard the Prime Minister make a statement on the subject.
asked the Home Secretary to do him the honour to listen to what he was saying. He referred to the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. He hoped it would be distinctly understood that if Urgency were now conceded, it would be for the purpose of expediting the Prevention of Crime Bill and for that only. Then the Bill would go on smoothly.
§ MR. R. N. FOWLER
said, he joined with the' right hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin in congratulating the Home Secretary upon the patience which he had exhibited in the Parliamentary fight of Friday. Indeed, he might quote the line of Juvenal—"Si rixa est, ubi tu puisas, ego vapulo tantum" He thought there was necessity for the adoption of Rules of Urgency; but if adopted they ought to have a clear understanding that they should only be put in force during the remaining stages of the Prevention of Crime Bill. After the scenes of Friday and Saturday the Government 1318 were justified in their demand as far as the Crime Bill was concerned, because it was the duty of the House to give the exceptional power the Government asked for, in order to carry out the government of Ireland; but that was not the case with regard to the Arrears Bill, which hon. Members on that side of the House would strongly oppose, although that opposition would be strictly fair. [Cries of "Divide!"] He had not taken up much of their time on this question, and trusted he should be allowed to hope they would have the opportunity of expressing their strong objection to the Arrears Bill when it came on without being hampered with Rules of Urgency.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL
said, he rose to make an appeal to the Government, and it was that they would not pledge themselves to confine Urgency to the Bill before the House, but would, apply it to other Bills for which Urgency might be requisite. The hon. Member who had just sat down thought that they should meet the opposition to the Crime Bill with Urgency, but, at the same time, thought that any Bill to which he was opposed Urgency was not applicable. Looking at the declarations that had been made by some of the Colleagues of the hon. Gentleman sitting below the Gangway, it seemed to him that it was not improbable that opposition to the Arrears Bill might be carried to a point, he would not say of Obstruction, but to the point of persistent opposition, and that it might he most necessary that Urgency should be applied to that Bill also. He had no hesitation in applying Urgency to the Crime Bill, and as he thought it necessary that the remedial measure which the Government proposed to couple with it should be passed in a reasonable time, he hoped that the Rule of Urgency would be applied to the Arrears Bill also.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 41; Noes 184: Majority 143.—(Div. List, No. 234.)
§ Original Question again proposed.
said, that there appeared to be great doubt in the minds of many Members of the House as to the purposes for which the Government required Urgency. The Prime Minister and the Chancellor of the Duchy of 1319 Lancaster had given one version of the limits within which this power of Urgency was to be used, from which the Home Secretary could not refrain from expressing his dissent. It was, therefore, most important that the House should have a clear and distinct understanding upon this point. He had hitherto voted in favour of measures to put an end to that which they all deplored—Obstruction in its worst and most violent form—and he was by no means disposed now to refuse to give the Government the power they asked for under the Urgency Rules. It was, however, important that the House should not drift into a position of continual Urgency. He could not forget that last year, no sooner had the House voted Urgency for one purpose than the Prime Minister came down and asked that it might be granted for another. In these circumstances, he thought that the House ought to limit the Motion for Urgency precisely to the measure to which they meant it to apply. He begged to move to add at the end of the Resolution before the House the words, "in reference to the Prevention of Crime (Ireland) Bill."
§ Amendment proposed, at the end of the Question, to add the words "with reference to the Prevention of Crime (Ireland) Bill."—(Earl Percy.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there added."
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, he did not know that the noble Lord was in the House when the Prime Minister spoke, or when the Leader of the Opposition spoke. The right hon. Gentleman opposite, the Head of the Opposition, though he was bound to say he did not always seem to be so regarded by the noble Lord—
What right has the right hon. and learned Gentleman to make such a statement? I must ask him to explain.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
It is my opinion, and I am entitled to express it.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, that if the noble Lord had been present he would have known the Leader of the Opposition understood the Prime Minister exactly in the same sense as that 1320 which he (Sir William Harcourt) had expressed, and that the Leader of the Opposition had declared himslf satisfied with the Prime Minister's statement. All who had spoken from that Bench had asked the House to agree to a Resolution couched in precisely the same terms as the one which had been agreed to last year. True it was that this declaration of Urgency was asked for generally; but Her Majesty's Government had stated that they, on the present occasion, intended only to apply it to this Bill, because they did not contemplate that obstruction would be offered in respect to any other Bill. In asking for this power exactly as it was granted last year, it was only intended at present to apply it to the Prevention of Crime (Ireland) Bill. That was the statement made by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and by himself, and he understood that was perfectly comprehended by the Leader of the Opposition, and that the right hon. Gentleman was satisfied.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
I think, Sir, there ought to be a distinct understanding on this point. When the question was originally referred to by the Prime Minister—I think last week—it was understood that the object in renewing the Motion was to enable the Prevention of Crime Bill to be proceeded with. He proposed to renew the Resolution of last year. What was that Resolution? It was one framed with considerable care, and after a good deal of discussion on Amendments moved by myself and others on this side, so that there might be proper safeguards to the application of Urgency to any particular measure. We understood the object of the Prime Minister, when he introduced Urgency this year, was to get that power which he had last year—that was, the Rule that Urgency might be declared by a separate vote, which would require, not only a vote of three-fourths majority, but also one in a House of 300 Members. We also had a clear understanding from the Government in making this proposal that it was their intention to ask that the Rule should be granted for this particular Bill only. Of course, we were aware that if we gave the Rule in the same terms as that of last year it would be competent to the Government, if occasion arose, to propose it for anything else; but then they would have to run the gauntlet, and take their chance of se- 1321 curing a three-fourths majority. The Government did commit the gross indiscretion last year to ask for this power in respect to Supply, and the House did not assent to it; and I feel sure that if they were to ask for it in regard to a measure in reference to which we thought there would be no necessity for it the same result would follow. My noble Friend (Earl Percy) wishes to limit the Resolution to the present Bill. We must bear in mind that the Government this evening loyally stood by the proposal to limit the Resolution to the form which it took last year by rejecting the Amendment of the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell). We must remember that if that objection had been accepted we should have been placed in an extremely difficult and humiliating position. We should then have found that the great safeguard of three-fourths majority was struck off, and that we were at the mercy of the House whenever it chose, by a majority of 1, to adopt the Resolution. I think, therefore, that on this side we are bound by the fairness of what the Government has done. We called upon the Government to adhere to the Resolution of last year, and I think we should have had a right to complain if they had not done so. As regards the particular question of the Arrears Bill, I can only reserve my opinion; but I may say that I do not think the Government will be able to make out a case for the adoption of the Resolution in regard to it. But upon this particular measure we must feel that there is a real necessity for it, and that there is no other way available by which we can so expeditiously pass that Bill. I trust that the House will abide by the form of the Resolution as it was passed last year, so that its scope may be confined to the particular measure now before the House.
§ MR. DILLON
said, he should oppose the vote for Urgency. It should be remembered that that day a Petition had been presented to the House by an influential body elected by the people, praying the House not to expedite the passage of the Prevention of Crime Bill through the House, as it was calculated to create serious danger, not only to Ireland, but to the Empire at large. The House should bear in mind that that Bill was of a more complicated character than the Land Bill of last year, and that 1322 the Land Bill had been met with quite as much opposition as the Crime Bill, if not with more opposition. In view of the gravity of the measure, then, before the House, he did not think it was just to take note of the number of speeches and Amendments that had been made, and to propose Urgency on that account.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
said, it was all very well for the Secretary of State for the Home Department to sneer at his noble Friend who proposed this Amendment for not following his Leader, but he would venture to say that that sneer was utterly undeserved. There was not a more loyal supporter of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Devon than the noble Lord. He (Mr. Chaplin) was surprised at the expression of the Secretary of State, for, if he remembered rightly, there was no one more singularly deficient in loyalty to his own Leader than was the right hon. and learned Gentleman some few years ago. The right hon. and learned Gentleman had referred to the statement of the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister in moving the Resolution. He was present at the time, and the effect produced on his mind was totally different from that stated by the right hon. and learned Gentleman. So much was that the case that he felt bound to rise and ask for some explanation. He understood that the Prime Minister desired Urgency also for the Arrears Bill. If that were so, the Amendment of his noble Friend became doubly necessary; and he could not understand what objection there could be to adopting it. The effect of the Prime Minister's Motion, if it were carried, would be to enable the Government to ask for Urgency on any measure they pleased, while the effect of the Amendment was to limit that application. It was not proposed to alter the form of the Resolution, but to limit that form, so that it should apply only to the Irish Crime Bill, and not to the Arrears of Rent Bill. One supporter of the Government after another had got up and expressed delight at the prospect of getting Urgency for the Arrears Bill. From past experience, he knew how amenable to pressure the Government was; but he hoped that the Rules of Urgency would be strictly limited to the Crime Bill. If, however, the noble Lord went to a division, he 1323 should record his vote in favour of the Amendment.
§ MR. RATHBONE
said, he thought it would be better if the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down would leave the leadership of the Conservative Party in the hands of the recognized Leader. He would remind hon. Members that each fresh application of the Rule would have to be made in a House of 300 Members, and supported by a three-quarter majority; and it was impossible for the Government to get a three-quarter majority without the support of the Opposition.
§ MR. R. H. PAGET
said, that the Home Secretary had stated that Urgency was asked for generally with a view of applying it to the present occasion. He wished to ask the Speaker if it would be necessary again to obtain a three-quarters majority in a House of 300 Members before the Rule could be applied to any other Bill?
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, the same Forms would have to be gone through for the purpose of obtaining Urgency for another Bill as were gone through for the first.
MR. LYULPH STANLEY
hoped the noble Lord would press his Amendment to a division, in order to show how many loyal supporters there were opposite of the right hon. Baronet.
said, that on certain occasions some degree of independence of action was perfectly compatible with loyalty to the Leader of a Party. He asked the permission of the House to withdraw his Amendment. [Cries of "No, no!"]
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ Original Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 259; Noes 31: Majority 228.—(Div. List, No. 235.)
§ Resolved, That the Resolution of the 3rd of February 1881, relating to Urgency in the Business of the House, be revived.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
I beg to give Notice, on behalf of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, that he will move the second Resolution, "That the state of Public Business is urgent," to-morrow, at 2 o'clock.
§ MR. PARNELL
I rise to Order. I wish, Sir, to ask you, whether, as the 1324 House has by Resolution given precedence to the Notice of Motion relating to the Business of the House, and has carried the first part of the Motion reviving the Resolution of 1881 as to Urgency, the other Orders of the Day can be proceeded with before the second part of the Motion is moved, as it is part of the Motion to which the House has expressly given precedence?
§ MR. SPEAKER
The House has considered the Motion of the Prime Minister, and has disposed of it. It is proposed that the second Resolution should be taken to-morrow at 2 o'clock. That is, therefore, disposed of; and I have now, in ordinary course, to call upon the Clerk to read the Orders of the Day.
§ MR. PARNELL
I believe, Sir, you do not apprehend my point. ["Oh!"] It is entirely my fault. The Resolution agreed upon by the House is one giving precedence to the Notice of Motion "relating to the Business of the House (Urgency)." I find that the Motion which stands in the name of the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister is headed in this way:—"Business of the House (Urgency);" and, secondly, that that Notice of Motion is divided into two heads—namely, under the first head the revival of the Resolution of the 3rd February, 1881, and, under the second head, "That the state of Public Business is urgent." These are the Notices of Motion to which precedence has been given by the Motion which we have already adopted; and the point I wish to raise is whether, in the event of the right hon. Gentleman postponing the second part of the Resolution, "That the state of Public Business is urgent," the other Orders of the Day can be proceeded with at this Sitting?
§ MR. SPEAKER
I have no hesitation in saying that it is quite open to the House to proceed with the Orders of the Day in the usual course. Nothing has occurred to prevent that course being taken.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
rose amid loud cheers and cries of "Order!"
§ MR. SPEAKER
I can only hear the hon. Member on a new point.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
It is a new point. It is whether I would be in Order at this stage in moving the adjournment of the House?
§ MR. SPEAKER