§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be read a second time upon Saturday."—(Mr. Fawcett.)
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH
said, he begged to renew his appeal to the Government not to put down these Bills for Saturday. This Government Annuities and Assurance Bill was a most important measure, and one which had been carefully considered by the Select Committee to which the subject of it had been referred, although he ventured to say that that Committee had only heard one side of the question. If they were on Saturday to have a' long debate on the Electric Lighting Bill, with a probability of another on the Educational Endowments (Scotland) Bill, it was ridiculous to suppose that they could discuss the Annuities Bill. He would move the adjournment of the debate.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Sir Michael Hicks-Beach.)
§ MR. FAWCETT
said, the right hon. Baronet said that only one side of the question had been heard by the Committee. As Chairman of the Committee, he (Mr. Fawcett) had taken every possible pains to obtain evidence on both 422 sides. The evidence given before the Committee had been published in the newspapers, and the Insurance Societies and the banks had been well represented. The Bill carried out the unanimous recommendations of the Royal Commission; and although the Report consisted of 31 paragraphs, in considering it not a single division had taken place. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Hants (Mr. Sclater-Booth) was on the Committee, and the Bill was not so much his (Mr. Fawcett's) as that the Select Committee had recommended. There were only two serious points to be discussed in Committee—namely, the limits of insurance and annuities. He would do everything in his power to insure the full discussion of these points in Committee.
§ SIR JOHN LUBBOCK
said, the objection to this Bill was not so much a question of evidence as a question of principle—whether or not the Government should undertake business for the sake of profit. He would put it to the House how was it possible that they could have a good opportunity of discussing the measure on a Saturday Sitting after disposing of two important Bills? They did not know how long Her Majesty's Government proposed to sit; and he really would appeal to them, under the circumstances, to accede to the suggestion of the right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach).
§ MR. R. N. FOWLER
wished to know how long the Government proposed to sit on Saturday? There was nothing, he believed, to prevent their sitting until 12 o'clock at night or until Sunday morning if they chose; and, under these circumstances, it would be most undesirable that the important question alluded to should be debated and divided on at a late hour, say 11 o'clock at night.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
said, that nothing could be more unfortunate than to fix a time at which a debate should cease, as it led to some hon. Members keeping away until that time. He would venture to submit that if there were a Saturday Sitting it should be utilized. An hon. and gallant Member (Colonel Makins) had just given Notice that he intended to withdraw or postpone to another occasion some Amendments he was prepared to move to the Electric Lighting Bill. The dis- 423 cussion on that Bill, therefore, would occupy a very short time, and it was probable, after what they had heard this evening. that the Educational Endowments (Scotland) Bill would not be brought on on Saturday. It was desirable, therefore, if they put the House to the trouble of meeting at all, that there should be some Business before it. The House would think that, if the Electric Lighting Bill did not last three hours, it would be a favourable opportunity for raising a discussion on the other Bills which would be put down on the Paper.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
said, that to take this particular Bill was an unfortunate thing. An important principle was involved in the measure, and it might possibly happen that hon. Members who were much opposed to it might come down in large numbers to oppose it, whilst the great mass of Members, having made other arrangements, would not come down at all. There was a danger of a very hostile discussion. It appeared to him that the discussion on Saturday was almost sure to be a complete waste of time.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ Original Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 101; Noes 84: Majority 17.—(Div. List, No. 258.)
§ Second Reading upon Saturday.