MR. JOSEPH COWEN
asked the First Lord of the Treasury, If there are any of the Amendments on the Notice Paper to the first of the proposed new Rules that the Government will accept, or if they remain resolved to insist on obtaining the power to close a debate by a bare majority?
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
asked the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether his attention has been called to the following statement in the "Times" of June 21st:We know as a matter of fact that, immediately before the assassination in the Phœnix Park had thrown Parliamentary business into confusion, the Government had come to acknowledge the expediency of making a concession to those who have distrusted the absolute power of a bare majority. The Prime Minister and his colleagues were then prepared to adopt Mr. Gibson's amendment, or rather addition to the 67 Resolution, leaving its arithmetical refinements untouched, but providing that in no case should clôture he carried by a majority of less than two to one;and, whether it is a fact that he and his colleagues either ever have acknowledged, or do now acknowledge, or contemplate acknowledging, the expediency of making a concession to the Junior Member for the University of Dublin, and those who like him have distrusted the absolute power of a bare majority in regard to clôture, the effect of which would be to provide that in no case clôture would be carried by a majority of less than two to one?
§ MR. BAXTER
wished to ask another Question on the same subject—namely, Whether, with a view to arriving at an early settlement of this vexed question, Her Majesty's Government would consent to omit Part II. relating to Standing Committees, seeing that it was likely to be strongly opposed, and to alter the 1st Resolution by accepting the Amendment of the hon. Baronet the Member for the University of London (Sir John Lubbock), or the Amendment which stood in the name of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Gibson)?
§ MR. ARTHUR ARNOLD
wished to know, also, whether, in the opinion of the Government, the interruptions which took place by Motions for the adjournment of the House—[Cries of "Order!"]
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Gentleman proposes to ask a Question as to the opinion of the Government. That is an irregular form for a Question.
Sir, I understand these Questions to be as follows:—The hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. Joseph Cowen) refers to a supposed intention of the Government to accept an Amendment which stands upon the Paper, and recommends its acceptance. The hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) refers to the same subject, and deprecates that acceptance; and my right hon. Friend behind me refers both to this question and also to the dropping of what is called the second part of the entire subject—namely, what is known as the delegation or devolution. The time for entering into these details will be when we come nearer to the discussion of Procedure. There can be no advantage in entering into details at present. About six weeks ago I made a communi- 68 cation to the right hon. Gentleman opposite in anticipation of a statement which I was about to make in this House to the effect that in view of a rapid and early settlement of the entire matter, the Government were prepared to accede, by way of trial, without compromising their opinions, to the Notice of Motion given by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Gibson). That, I am bound to say, was in reference to the then state of things, and it is a matter with regard to which the Government feel themselves perfectly at liberty to reconsider their position if the public interest should seem to require it under a different state of things. I think that I should mislead my right hon. Friend and the House if I were not to state that Her Majesty's Government have never entertained the idea of dropping what is called Part II. of these Resolutions—the part which relates to devolution or delegation. Whether the particular proposals we have made are right or wrong, sufficient or insufficient, too narrow or too wide, my own personal conviction is, that unless the House is prepared to deal with the subject of devolution or delegation in some effective manner, it is idle to go to work on measures merely penal and restrictive. No penal and respective measures could ever restore this House its capacity to deal efficiently with the Business of the country. I will enter into no details at present; but I will promise the House that it shall not be taken by surprise, but that, when we see our way, we will give full Notice to the House of whatever course we think right to recommend.
MR. JOSEPH COWEN
begged to give Notice that in the event of the clôture being accepted on the French system, he should move that the selection of Speaker in the discussion be also conducted according to the French system.