HC Deb 13 July 1882 vol 272 cc417-21

Order for Committee read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House will resolve itself into the said Committee upon Saturday."—(Mr. Courtney.)


said, he thought he had a right to complain of the intention of the Government to take this Bill at a Morning Sitting on Saturday. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Chamberlain) had stated earlier in the day that there was no intention to oppose the Bill as a Bill, and that the only intention was to raise certain questions upon one or two principles which had been for the first time introduced by this Bill. He understood the right hon. Gentleman to have given him an assurance that there would be a proper opportunity of discussing this measure in a full House, and he hardly thought the right hon. Gentleman would be carrying that pledge out by putting the Bill down for a Saturday Sitting, when there was certain to be so few Members present that a full discussion would be impossible. He did not want to throw any obstruction in the way of progress; but one of the points involved by this Bill was so novel and so important that it ought to be discussed in a full House, and, therefore, he should move that the Bill be taken on Monday.

Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "Saturday," in order to insert the words "Monday next,"—(Colonel Makins,)—instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the word 'Saturday' stand part of the Question."


said, if the hon. and gallant Member opposite divided on this question he should support him, not on the Electric Lighting Bill, but on another Bill. Subsequently to the Electric Lighting Bill one or two other Bills would be taken which would lead to opposition, and one of these was the Educational Endowments (Scotland) Bill, to which no less than 11 Notices of opposition had been given. That was the only Bill relating to Scotland brought in by the Government this Session, and when it was introduced there was no opportunity for a discussion upon it. The Bill was read a first time on the 1st of May, and now the Government proposed to make it the second Order of the Day for to-morrow. He did not think that was the proper way to treat Scotch measures in that House; and, therefore, he should support the Amendment of the hon. and gallant Member.


said, he certainly thought when the Prime Minister stated, a few days ago, what Bills were, and what were not, to be proceeded with, he said that the Government would not proceed with any measures mentioned in the Speech from the Throne. Among those measures was, not the Electric Lighting Bill, but the Educational Endowments (Scotland) Bill. That was the intention stated, and he thought that to devote a Saturday Sitting to Bills of this kind at that period of the Session was trifling with the time of the House. There was plenty to do in voting Supplies, and it seemed to him that all the time the Government could spare ought to be devoted to the financial interests of the country.


I cannot but think that the difficulty raised by the hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Buchanan) is a little premature, because the proposal is that the Electric Lighting Bill be taken on Saturday. The question whether the Scotch Bill shall be taken on Saturday also is a question which I mentioned for the consideration of the House earlier on; but it is not now before the House. With regard to that question, the Government were under the impression that a great majority of the Scotch Members were really interested in the progress of this Bill, and desired to see its stages taken whenever there was an opportunity for its discussion, and that they would be glad of any opportunity for its discussion. The Government are under the belief that the Electric Lighting Bill, although it will raise some great points, will probably not extend over any lengthened period, and that will afford an opportunity for taking the Scotch Bill such as the Scotch Members would desire; but if the Scotch Members would rather take their chance of a better place at a later time—if, in consideration of the present state of Business, they would rather postpone the measure—certainly the Government will not offer any opposition when that point comes to be discussed; and there will be an opportunity to raise that question to- morrow when the Educational Endowments (Scotland) Bill has been put on the Paper. Going back to the proposal as to the Electric Lighting Bill, I am sure the hon. and gallant Member would not wish to misrepresent me, but I must disclaim having given any pledge.


I did not say pledge; I said I understood that intention from what you said.


I will explain what I understood from our conversation. I asked the hon. and gallant Member and other Members having blocks to remove them, as I thought their blocks applied to matters which were properly for Committee, and I said if they would remove their blocks I would consult them as to when the Committee should he taken, with a view to an adequate discussion; but the hon. and gallant Member and other hon. Members were unable to comply with my suggestion; and my only chance was to take the Bill at a time when it could be discussed. Such an opportunity is given by putting it down as the first Order for a Saturday Sitting. In addition to what I said at an earlier period, as the Bill went before a Select Committee of this House, it is probable that it will have to go before a Select Committee in "another place," and I think that is an additional reason for taking it at an early opportunity.


said, he was opposed to the Electric Lighting Bill being taken on Saturday, because hanging upon that was the Educational Endowments (Scotland) Bill. No pledge was given by the Government that this Bill would even be taken as the second measure. Scotch Members would be perfectly contented if the Scotch measure was taken first, as they regarded it as a measure of great importance.


said, the right hon. Gentleman said the Scotch Members would have an opportunity to-morrow of discussing the Scotch Bill. It was put down for 2 o'clock to-morrow, hut it could not possibly be reached until 10 minutes to 7, when, of course, no discussion could take place.


said, he had put down the Bill for Saturday, and that would give an opportunity to Scotch Members to make any statements they wished.


said, he thought some hon. Members would agree to a Saturday's Sitting if they knew what would be taken. He understood the Government were going to take the Government Annuities and Assurance Bill. That raised a question of considerable importance, and he thought Saturday would not be a favourable opportunity of discussing it. He wished, therefore, to know whether the Government did intend to take it on Saturday?


said, this Bill proposed to carry out very important administrative changes, which he would explain to the House.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 130; Noes 109: Majority 21.—(Div. List, No. 257.)


said, he hoped that, considering the evident distaste of the House to sitting on a Saturday, Her Majesty's Government would, at any rate, not take more than the Electric Lighting Bill on that day. The right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council (Mr. Mundella) had said that at 2 o'clock to-morrow he proposed to ask the House to consider the desirability of taking the Educational Endowments (Scotland) Bill on Saturday; and what he (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) wished to know was, whether there would be an opportunity of discussing that proposal? What he feared would happen would be this—that when the Arrears of Rent Bill came to an end at 10 minutes to 7, the right hon. Gentleman would make his statement, and ask for the decision of the House, and there would be no opportunity for discussion.


said, that, when at a few minutes before 7 to-day it was proposed that the Bill should be taken on Saturday, any hon. Member might object, and then the Motion would have to be adjourned to the Evening Sitting, when it might be discussed. Thirty-five Scotch Members had intimated to him, in the course of the evening, their desire that the Bill should be taken.


said, he had some Amendments to the Electric Lighting Bill; but he would not bring them forward on Saturday. Ho would defer them to the third reading.


Can we object to the Saturday Sitting to-morrow?


The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Mundella) has stated the case correctly. If the Motion is opposed at the Morning Sitting to-morrow, it will go over until the Evening Sitting, when it can be discussed and a vote taken.


said, he would ask the Prime Minister at 2 o'clock today whether it was still his intention to take the Educational Endowments (Scotland) Bill on Saturday'; and, if so, as it was the only measure of first-rate importance relating to Scotland introduced this Session, whether the Bill would be made the first Order of the Day?

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Committee upon Saturday.