§ (The Marquess of Hartihgton, Lord Richard Grosvenor.)
§ SECOND READING.
§ Order for Second Reading read.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON,
in moving the second reading of this Bill, said, he did not wish to take any advantage of the hon. Member for Queen's County (Mr. Arthur O'Connor) or the hon. Member for Louth (Mr. Callan), who opposed this Bill; but he thought it right to state that, in the opinion of the authorities of the House, this Bill was a Money Bill, to which the Half-past 12 Rule did not apply. He did not wish to take any unfair advantage of the hon. Members, and if they really wished to discuss the Bill he would not press it to-night; but he should, on a future occasion, press the second reading. If the hon. Members who objected to the Bill would give some reason for their objection he would endeavour to meet it; but at present he had not the slightest idea of the grounds of their objections. He hoped that they would not object to the second reading, on the understanding that he would give as fair an opportunity as he could for discussing the Bill on the next stage.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(The Marquess of Hartington.)
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR
said, he hoped the noble Lord would not imagine that his objection was placed on the Paper simply for the purpose of blocking the Bill in the sense in which that term was often understood. He wished to prevent the Bill from being taken when there could be no decision upon its merits. He wished to secure a discussion before the Bill passed, and he opposed the Bill because he had received two letters from gentlemen who were interested in the Fund, who had served in India, and who had assured him that they had ground for believing that their interests would be compromised, and that the Civil Service in India, which had contributed largely to the funds, and every Presidency, would suffer to an extent which astonished him. He had moved for certain Returns of despatches sent by the noble Lord to India with regard to this matter, and he had not yet got through them. 148 It was a very difficult matter to understand, and at present he did not understand altogether the way in which these funds had been worked in the past, or how the interest of the beneficiaries would be affected by the transfer. One of his objections to the Bill was that it appeared that though the Government would gain by the transfer of the Bengal Civil Fund, in all probability the Revenues of India would be saddled with unfair liabilities in connection with the funds of the other two Presidencies. He believed that would be the case, although he was not now in a position to prove it by figures. He doubted very much whether this Bill could be considered a Bill which came under the designation of a Money Bill pure and simple. It was not a question of raising funds or imposing burdens; but it was a question of altering altogether the relations in which the beneficiaries stood to those who had the management of the Fund. It was proposed to transfer to the Government all the funds which they at present had not got. That seemed to him to be something altogether different from the provisions of an ordinary Money Bill. But he did not want to block the Bill merely for obstructive purposes; and if the noble Lord would state that it was a matter of importance that the second reading should be taken, and that he would make arrangements that before a further stage was passed an opportunity would be given for the discussion of the Bill, he should be willing to withdraw his Notice tonight.
§ MR. CALLAN
wished to ask formally whether this was a Money Bill which was excluded from the operation of the Rule. The Government were the parties who had set the example of blocking Notices. He always understood that it was the duty of the Whips to keep a House and to cheer a Minister. He did not at all allude to the superior Whips, but to one of the inferior Whips. Formerly the Whips were to make a House and to keep a majority, and not to prevent a House from discussing any Motion made for a Return; but since the present Government came into Office, either from laziaess or incompetency on their part, the unprecedented and irregular proceeding of blocking Notices had been introduced. He had a Notice with reference to a Return of offences 149 which would raise a Constitutional question, and also a question of the faithfulness and bona fides of the pledges of the Government when they obtained the Prevention of Crime Bill; but he found that Notice blocked. He had asked for a reason, and was told it was not desirable to have a discussion after half-past 12.
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Member is not speaking to the Question.
§ MR. CALLAN
said, that Notice was the reason why, in self-defence, he had wished Government Business not to be discussed after half-past 12.
§ MR. SPEAKER
As to whether this is a Money Bill, I see that it was introduced by a Resolution of the House. Having regard to that Resolution, I cannot hesitate in considering that it is a Money Bill.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
said, he thought it would be out of Order for him to follow the hon. Member for Louth (Mr. Callan) on the subject of blocking Notices; but he desired to acknowledge the very fair manner in which the suggestions he had made had been met by the hon. Member for Queen's County (Mr. Arthur O'Connor). He had no desire to unduly hurry this Bill through the House. The terms offered by the Secretary of State in Council had been accepted by a large majority of those interested, and there were only three opposed to the arrangement suggested. As the hon. Member had not had an opportunity of fully considering the matter, he would agree not to take the further stage of the Bill until Thursday next.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Bill read a second time, and committed for Thursday next.
§ House adjourned at Two o'clock till Monday next.