§ Order for Committee read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."—(Mr. Mundella.)
§ MR. A. GRANT
said, before the Speaker left the Chair, he would appeal to the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council upon the subject of bringing on a Bill of this character and importance at that late hour. He thought that it was rather a strong thing to take the Bill, seeing that so many Members who were interested in it were not present. There was a material principle involved in the measure, which he thought deserved fuller discussion than it could receive at that hour; and he was bound to say that unless the right hon. Gentleman could agree to the postponement of the Committee stage he should feel it his duty to move the adjournment of the debate.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. A. Grant.)
§ MR. MUNDELLA
said, he was greatly surprised at the course taken by the hon. Member who had just spoken, inasmuch as the Bill, as it stood, was substantially agreed to by Scotch Members when the question came before the 209 House on the Motion of the hon. Member for Wigtonshire (Sir Herbert Maxwell). There had been no change whatever in the Bill, every line of which had been shadowed out and agreed to on the occasion referred to. The hon. Member for Cavan (Mr. Biggar) had placed a block upon the Bill, which he was glad to see had since been withdrawn; and he certainly felt some degree of surprise that Scotch Members should now object to proceeding with the consideration of the Bill in Committee. The hon. Member himself had an Amendment on the Paper, which, he presumed, he would wish to be considered without unnecessary delay. The Bill was a short one, and consisted of only four clauses, upon which there was a practical agreement. Under the circumstances, he trusted the hon. Member would withdraw his objection to the Motion before the House.
§ MR. BUCHANAN
said, there had evidently been some slight misunderstanding. A great number of Scotch Members, who felt a strong interest in this question, were absent from the House, amongst them the hon. Member for Wigtonshire (Sir Herbert Maxwell), and the hon. Member for Forfarshire (Mr. J. W. Barclay). Under those circumstances, he thought they ought not to discuss an important question of principle at that late hour.
§ MR. BIGGAR
said, he thought it would be best to adjourn the debate. He had taken off the block against the Bill, and had given Notice of an Amendment which was not yet upon the Paper. As he desired this might be properly discussed in Committee, he hoped the debate would be adjourned.
§ MR. WARTON
said, he was quite sure that both the hon. Members opposite who had just spoken were not likely to oppose the progress of this Bill without good and sufficient reason. They were undoubtedly men of business, and knew what was right and what was wrong in a matter of this kind. The question involved in the Bill was one undoubtedly of great importance; and at that late hour, after their attention had been taken up for such a length of time by the important measure which had been so long before the House, hon. Members 210 were clearly not in a position satisfactorily to proceed with it. Moreover, he thought that it was wrong on the part of the Government to pick and choose, out of the large number of measures before them, one or two particular Bills, for the purpose of forcing them through the House. He was not acquainted with the details of this question; but he joined in the belief that it was too late to discuss such a measure after the reasons put forward by the hon. Members for Leith (Mr. A. Grant) and Edinburgh (Mr. Buchanan). While, no doubt, the Government had their reasons for pushing the Bill on, he was quite sure that hon. Members for Scotland who had spoken had equally good reasons for adjourning the debate.
§ MR. MUNDELLA
said, the Bill had been brought on that evening on the understanding that it was the unanimous wish of Scotch Members that it should proceed. If, however, he were permitted to get the Chairman into the Chair, he should be willing to move to report Progress, in order to give an opportunity for the consideration of Amendments which hon. Members might wish to propose.
§ MR. A. GRANT
said, under those circumstances, he would ask permission of the House to withdraw his Motion for the adjournment of the debate.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Mr. Mundella.)
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.