HC Deb 13 July 1882 vol 272 cc280-1

asked the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether he has agreed to any modification of the proposed First Rule of Procedure, or whether he can give an assurance that the House will at least have an opportunity of expressing its opinion in favour of the principle laid down in the Rule as originally proposed, viz. the right of the majority to control debate?


wished to ask a counter Question—namely, Whether it would not be possible to have the opinion of the House as to the compromise that seemed to be alluded to, because if the House were in favour of it, it might do away with the necessity for an Autumn Session?


It is a little difficult, upon a matter which does not stand for practical consideration, to make an answer between a Question and a counter Question, in such a way as not to run the risk of raising a discussion. That is my desire, and, in truth, I do not think the time has yet come when I could with convenience enter upon this subject. It might come on before the adjournment of the House, and, without doubt, the House should have more particular information and further light as to the intentions of the Government; but I do not think that I am yet in the position to make any statement on that point. I am, however, bound to say, lest I should seem to give encouragement to hopes that I do not think can be realized, that the opinion generally promulgated by the Government has been that the larger and more important part of the question of Procedure is not that which relates to restriction and abridgment of liberty, but is that which relates to the multiplication of the working power of the House by means of delegation. That is a question so considerable that I am by no means prepared to express the opinion that we could escape the necessity of an Autumn Session merely by settling a question of the character indicated by the hon. Gentleman.


inquired whether the reason why the Government were unable to make a statement was because they had not yet made up their minds?


It is not that they have not made up their minds upon a matter under deliberation, but because no occasion has arisen for the further consideration of a question upon which, when it appeared to be a practicable one, they had made up their minds.