HC Deb 09 July 1883 vol 281 cc808-30



I rise, Sir, for the purpose of fulfilling an engagement I entered into with the House on the part of the Government, to the effect that we should this day make as comprehensive a statement as time and circumstances would justify with regard to the state and prospects of Business, and I will preface it by saying that I shall not mention the Bills of comparatively minor importance; but the number of those I shall mention is considerable, and the House will feel that we have redeemed the pledge we have given with regard to the work of the Session. I shall close my remarks by moving that certain Orders for the consideration of the further stages of Bills be discharged —the most convenient course to take, I think, if the Government have made up their minds that they must abandon them, so that they shall be at once removed from the Order Book, and the minds of Members relieved from all further care in respect of them. I am afraid the prospect I have to present is not at all a cheerful one with regard to the duration of the Session; because, even if the House consent to make considerable sacrifices the Session cannot, under the most favourable circumstances, reach any but a late termination. In the first place, I may say there are certain Bills with respect to which the House perfectly understands it is the intention of the Government to submit them to the judgment of the House definitively, and therefore I need not dwell upon any of them. These are the Bills which have been through the Grand Committees, and the three Bills that are before the House—the Corrupt Practices Bill, the Tenants' Compensation Bill for England, and the Tenants' Compensation Bill for Scotland. The other Bills which we propose to proceed with are as follows. We think it of great importance to take the sense of the House on the National Debt Bill. We believe that any differences of opinion on the Bill are not differences of detail, requiring time to dispose of, but that may be dealt with in a single and probably not very long discussion. Then there is a Bill which is of great importance to a profession which is itself of the utmost weight and importance—namely, the Medical Bill; and I am encouraged to hope with regard to that Bill the difference of opinion upon which is small, and we propose to proceed with it. With regard to Scotland, we propose to proceed with the Local Government Bill for Scotland, in the belief that it is generally acceptable to those whom it more immediately concerns, and, that being so, we do not anticipate any very great difficulty in its conduct through the House. I then come to Irish Bills. There is the Registration of Voters Bill; the Bill for pauper relief—which I have mentioned because, although it has not actually passed the House, it has gone through all its stages except the third reading, therefore may be considered as having all but passed; the Bill for the re-organization of the Police Service; and there is also a Bill which Her Majesty's Government are anxious to introduce, which they think may probably be received with favour by the House—I mean a Bill for the promotion of tramways in Ireland. That is an announcement which contains the answer which I promised some time ago to give to my hon. Friend the Member for County Galway (Mr. Mitchell Henry). Those are the Bills with respect to which we propose to proceed. With regard to the melancholy list of Bills that we will find it necessary, or at least that we think it our duty to the House at once to drop, the first of those is the Rivers Conservancy and Floods Prevention Bill, and, second, the Ballot Act Continuance and Amendment Bill, with regard to which, of course, we shall place the general law as it now subsists in the Continuance Bill; but we shall get rid of the question of the amendment of the law. The third is the Bill relating to Charitable Trusts, and the fourth the Bill relating to Scottish Universities. That is a Bill of very considerable importance, and its provisions are both weighty and beneficial; but it certainly touches some matters that are of a rather high nature, and which we should not think it justifiable to press on the House at a period of the Session when we could not have a reasonable chance of carrying it forward. Then there is a Bill which comes from the House of Lords, called the Representative Peers (Scotland) Bill, which I believe excited a good deal of difference of opinion, and we do not propose to proceed with it. There are two or three other Bills which we feel it necessary to drop, but, at the same time, which we drop with very great regret. One of them is the Bill for police superannuation, the second is the Bill relating to naval discipline, and the third is the Bill relating to Irish Sunday Closing, with respect to which, of course, we should place the present law in a general Continuance Act. With regard to these Bills, which are on different grounds, I must express a very earnest hope, on the part of the Government, or those who may be the Government, that it may be possible to bring them in at an early period next Session. Naval discipline ought not to continue in suspense, and the Irish Sunday Closing Bill is one which largely interests public opinion in Ireland, and it is very highly disagreeable to us to drop it. The Police Superannuation Bill is a Bill of very great local importance for the healthiness and efficiency of the force on which we are dependent for the maintenance of civil order; but there are questions which it raises in relation to the charges imposed under it, with which it will not he in our power to grapple in the present Session. Those are the eight Bills we propose at once to drop, and I shall move for the discharge of the Orders for the further stages upon these Bills. There are three other measures, one of them not yet introduced, and two others that have been introduced, but have not made progress, with regard to which we wish to suspend our judgment for a time, and to form that judgment according to circumstances as they may present themselves perhaps 10 days or a fortnight hence. There is, first, the Welsh Intermediate Education Bill, dealing with a subject of great interest with regard to the education of that country, and the others are the Detention in Hospitals Bill, and the Criminal Law Amendment Bill. In regard to these measures, we ask the House to allow us a little time before arriving at a final decision. I think that the list I have given will be found to include all of what would be commonly considered the important Bills of the Government. Such a Bill as my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has referred to to-night in regard to railway passengers will, as a matter of course, form part of the Budget, and Bills of that class I do not refer to in detail; but I have spoken of nearly a score of Bills, and these will, I think, dispose in the main of the subjects upon which, as far as the Government are concerned, the length of the Session may depend. But besides these Bills there are one or two points which I should wish to mention. It is necessary now to refer to the subject of the Grand Committees. I need not refer to the particular nature of the pledge we gave; but it was to this effect—that if we asked the House during the present Session to arrive at any new Resolutions with respect to these Committees, it should be done in the course of the present month, when the House will be in full attendance and competent to deal with such matters of importance and comparative novelty. Now, we stand thus. I will not undertake to an- ticipate at this moment what will take place with regard to the several Bills that have been before the Grand Committees; but it is our opinion, looking at the labours of these Committees, that they have proved to be in the present Session, and promise to be hereafter, a great success, and afford very material assistance to the House in the great work of maintaining, or perhaps I ought to say, with due respect, restoring its legislative efficiency, in enabling it to overtake the large and constantly increasing mass of work, which the necessities of the Empire require it to confront. There are two courses which might be taken with regard to the Grand Committees—one, to propose an experimental renewal of them for the next Session only; and another, to submit to the House some plan of a general and more comprehensive character. I do not wish at present to enter upon the question which of these two courses is the better; and it is quite plain that we could not submit at this time a plan of a permanent nature with regard to Grand Committees, without setting aside the Legislative Business which we have in hand. That, I think, we should not be justified for a moment in contemplating, and, consequently, we do not intend to make any extended proposal at the present time. If such a proposal is to be made at any time, it must stand over for the present year. Then the question arises whether it would be wise to advise the renewal of those Committees which we have had already. Now, Sir, undoubtedly, with the opinion we entertain about the working of the Grand Committees, it will be our duty to make proposals with that object. But proposals for a temporary and experimental renewal of the Grand Committees, if such should be the form in which we should ultimately think it wise to proceed, clearly ought not to be made until we come nearer to the time when we can know what Business the House will have to do. The circumstances of last autumn were very peculiar. It so happened that a large number of important and practical questions had to be thrown over for want of time, and we were able to see in the autumn what Grand Committees we should specially want and might make use of for the purpose of trying our experiment. As far as we can anticipate the legislation of next year, we do con- template the introduction of certain Bills; and in a country like this the renewal of the Grand Committee with respect to trade and such matters could hardly ever be out of place; but then, again, we may not be able to say, with respect to other matters, what measures it might be the duty of the Government to introduce next Session which might be found of such a nature as to fit them for the consideration of Grand Committees. In fact, the experimental question with respect to next Session ought not to be considered piecemeal, but as a whole. It would be more satisfactory to the House, and far better, that the subject should be reserved until we can see, if not upon a larger scale, yet, at all events, for the coming Session, what is the exact amount of the proposals we should wish to make with a view to the greater despatch of the Public Business. I hope, therefore, that it will be understood, as far as Her Majesty's Government are concerned, that they have been confirmed in their favourable views of the working of these Grand or Standing Committees as a means of expediting a large portion of the Business of the House by the experience which the present Session has afforded them, and they would consider it a breach of duty on their part were they to allow these Committees to drop. But they do not think that circumstances permit them at present to act either upon a large or upon a more contracted scale, either with a view to a permanent or great scheme, or with a view to another experimental trial; and whatever course they may think proper to adopt, they think that the proper time to propose it will be when Parliament has again been summoned together after the Recess. Then comes the question as to what ought to be the course of procedure. There are many Members, undoubtedly, who have expressed their readiness that we should ask for what is called the whole time of the House. As far as Tuesdays and Wednesday are concerned, that is a proposal which We intend to make for the residue of the present Session. Mondays and Thursdays are always in possession of the Government. Fridays are already in their possession as far as Morning Sittings are concerned, and we do not propose to ask the House for the Evening Sittings on Fridays, for several considerations, One is, that it is not usual for the Government to make that request to the House. We are asking the House for Tuesdays and Wednesdays somewhat earlier than usual; but it is not usual to ask for Friday evenings. We are very unwilling entirely to close the door, as far as the Rules of the House are concerned, against the introduction, at the option of independent Members, of subjects which they might deem of great practical and urgent importance. What we do earnestly hope is that, viewing the position in which the House is placed, independent Members will be disposed to waive for the remainder of the present Session—I make this appeal merely to their judgment and discretion—their right of pressing on the consideration of the House the discussion of subjects with regard to which they do not contemplate any immediate practical result. I do not moan subjects which contemplate legislation, because there may be subjects connected with the policy of the Government, for instance, which hon. Members may think it right to question, and they may find opportunities for doing so on these Friday evenings. On the other hand, if they do not take advantage of these Friday evenings, I hope the House will be inclined to allow those evenings to be turned to account by going into Committee of Supply. For the pre-sent, the only Motion I shall make will be a Motion for the discharge of certain Orders. With regard to obtaining a larger proportion of the time of the House, the form of proceeding which I propose is this. To-morrow it is quite understood that matters will stand as they are. But on Wednesday morning at 12 o'clock, if I find the proposal I now make is agreeable and suitable to the House in the circumstances, I shall propose that Government Orders on Tuesdays and Wednesdays have precedence during the remainder of the Session, and in that ease I believe it would be agreeable to the House if on Tuesdays the House were to meet at its usual hour, in lieu of meeting for a Morning Sitting, and then again for an Evening Sitting. With regard to the course of Business to be taken first, I would say one word on the state of the Civil Service Estimates. We are able to go on a little longer with Civil Service Estimates generally; but there are a very few Votes of a non-con- tentious character, with respect to which it so happens that more money is required, and on Thursday as the First Order of the Day—I believe it will constitute no material interruption to the present course of Business—we must ask for some money for these particular Votes. Further substantial progress with the Civil Service Estimates must be reserved for a future day. On Monday next we propose to take the Navy Estimates, and on Tuesday we propose to devote the first part of the evening to a Bill which I trust will then be in Committee—namely, the Tenants' Compensation Bill. On that point, however, it is not for me to say how much longer time the House may think it proper to take in discussing the remaining clauses of the Corrupt Practices Bill; but I am unwilling to contemplate the possibility that that Bill will not be out of Committee several days short of Tuesday week. Assuming that the Tenants' Compensation Bill will have got into Committee on Tuesday evening, we shall propose to break off the consideration of that Bill at about 10 or half past 10 oclock, in order to allow of the resumption of the adjourned debate on the Resolution of the hon. Member for Guildford (Mr. Onslow) on the subject of the payment of a certain amount of money as a contribution to the expenses of the warlike operations in Egypt. That, Sir, is as much as I can say at present with regard to the exact course of Business, it being understood that the Corrupt Practices Bill and the Tenants' Compensation Bills for England and Scotland form the substance of the engagement we are bound first to redeem, as far as carrying them through Committee is concerned. I have but a few words to add. With regard to the Bills of private Members, the Government have no choice but to say that it is impossible that they should be able to discharge the duties under which they themselves lie, and, at the same time, offer any accommodation to those Members who have Bills before the House. Those Bills, I am sorry to say, are generally in an extremely backward state; but, backward or forward, we are not able to depart from the arrangement I have now sketched out, for the purpose of allowing those Bills to be promoted, should the House be prepared to make to us the gift of time for which we ask. I said at the outset that this was not a brilliant prospect; and I think that if hon. Gentlemen will think well in their own minds and consider the number of days that the Corrupt Practices Bill has taken in Committee, and the probability that it may still require a few more days, and the work to be done on the Tenants' Compensation Bill and upon the Bills which have come back from the Grand Committees, and then the measures which I have stated it is our intention to proceed with, they will see that there is a good deal of legislative work in prospect. I speak on the 9th of July. And although the number of days allotted to Supply in the present Session down to the present date has been very considerable, yet the Business of Supply, like other Business, grows and extends. Then it so happens that there are one or two questions of public importance, involving our policy abroad, that will have to be discussed in Supply. It would, therefore, be sanguine to say that loss than eight or nine days would suffice to do what remains to be done. I do not like to enter into minute computations. To those who are experienced in the Business of the House, I think it is quite plain that we have much to do, and that we cannot, in circumstances the most favourable, hope for an early deliverence from our labours. I hope, however, that the House will think that we have made a reasonable contribution towards the attainment of that happy period by the eight measures which we now propose to abandon; and I would, in the first instance, move that the Order of the Day for the Rivers Conservancy Bill be discharged.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Order for the Second Reading of the Rivers Conservancy and Floods Prevention Bill be read and discharged."—(Mr. Gladstone.)


Sir, I cannot say that the speech of the right hon. Gentleman has been altogether comfortable as regards the prospects of Business. The right hon. Gentleman has frankly told us that there are eight Bills which he proposes at once to strike off the Order Book altogether. But, having taken that course, the right hon. Gentleman has accumulated no less than 14 measures which he hopes to proceed with. I must say it is hardly likely that we shall see our way, in an ordinary Session, to dispose of those measures. From my own experience of the conduct of the Business of this House, I am bound to say that Ministers rather fall into an error in trying to keep too much on the Order Book, and retaining it there too long. I have not the least doubt that the right hon. Gentleman will do his best to get the whole of the 14 measures through. But, looking to the character and magnitude of some of these Bills, I venture to think that he will find it a difficult task. However, with regard to those he proposes to drop, I suppose he will be altogether justified. I would venture, however, to say a word with regard to Saturday Sittings. We are now making the Government masters of the whole time of the House, excepting on Friday evenings, and I think we have a right to demand that they shall not impose upon us the burden of Saturday Sittings. I mean Saturday Sittings for the purpose of legislation and bonâ fide work, because sometimes, at the end of a Session, a Money Bill requires to be passed through, when the House will sit for an hour or two; but Saturday Sittings for the purpose of legislation are an intolerable burden, and I take this opportunity of entering a caveat against them. Then, with regard to the Estimates, I shall be glad to know what the Votes are which are non-contentious; but I must express some little doubt as to the prudence of beginning on Tuesday a discussion on the Agricultural Holdings Bill and breaking it off about half-past 10. I do not think that course will be conducive to the saving of time. The right hon. Gentleman has not committed himself to any date, but I hope he does not contemplate keeping us here till all these 14 measures are passed, and all the Estimates are voted; but if he does, I am afraid it will be very long indeed. What I would suggest is, that when we have made a little further progress in the course of another week or two, he should take courage and sacrifice a few more measures. I quite understand what the right hon. Gentleman has indicated with regard to the discussion of questions of policy in Committee of Supply. He contemplates that we shall have an opportunity of discussing questions in regard to Egypt, South Africa, India, and also the very important question in regard to education.


said, that if the Welsh Intermediate Education Bill should not be passed this Session there would be in Wales deep, general, and bitter disappointment. Last Monday the Prime Minister gave a positive assurance that the Government did not intend to abandon the Bill. Wales had given the present Government a very loyal and all but unanimous support. He much feared that if this Bill were abandoned the effect would be to produce general discontent, and a feeling that, for their loyalty, the Welsh people had been unworthily requited by very shabby treatment.


asked the Prime Minister to use his influence with the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) to induce him to withdraw his Resolution on the franchise, which no doubt was very interesting, but was of a purely abstract character, in order that he (Mr. Dawnay) might proceed with his Resolution with reference to the state of affairs in Zululand.


said, he did not propose to withdraw his excellent Resolution in favour of a Resolution referring to Zululand. He knew his Motion would not, after one evening's discussion, be accepted; but he meant to ask the House to project itself into the future. After the appeal of the Prime Minister he felt that he had only one thing to do, and that was to say that, so far as he was concerned, he would not interfere in any way with the course of Public Business by pressing the Resolution which stood in his name. He trusted the hon. Member for the North Riding (Mr. Guy Dawnay) would follow his (Mr. Labouchere's) excellent example, instead of bringing on some wild-cat Resolution about Zululand.


said, that the Secretary for War had promised an early opportunity to discuss the Reserves Vote and the Medical Vote, and he hoped the noble Lord would redeem his promise.


said, he concurred in the regret expressed by the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil (Mr. Richard) at the abandonment of the Welsh Education Bill, which might have been passed with a comparatively short discussion, and the abandonment of which would be received with great dis- appointment in Wales. Welsh Members would be very glad to sit on a Saturday to proceed with the Bill.


said, he hoped the Prime Minister would kindly consider the possibility of giving an opportunity for the discussion of his Motion on the subject of emigration from Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman would admit that under any circumstances this was a matter of paramount importance; but, after the recent action of the American Government, it might be considered to have acquired the character of urgency. He did not wish in any way to hamper the Prime Minister; but he trusted that an opportunity might be afforded of discussing the question, either upon the Estimates or in any other form in which it might be most convenient to the Government. If the right hon. Gentleman granted facilities for this discussion, He (Mr. J. Lowther) was quite ready to forego proceeding with his Resolution calling attention to the shortcomings of the Government.


, said, he would remind the House that the Arrears Act passed last year, gave a certain sum of money for Irish emigration. He imagined that the money was nearly all spent, and he wished to bring before his right hon. Friend the Prime Minister the fact that if nothing was done this Session all assisted emigration must cease—which, to his mind, would be a misfortune—because he believed much good had been done by it; and by no persons could such a decision be heard with so much regret and lamentation as the unfortunate people themselves. He understood his hon. Friend to say that Bills were to be brought forward for the extension of tramways in Ireland, and he was exceedingly glad to hear it; but he hoped they were not to suppose that nothing was to be done for emigration. As to South Africa, he would reiterate his conviction that the House would not be fulfilling its duty of taking its share in important Imperial questions without some discussion on that subject before the end of the Session. They were, of course, all aware that very little time remained; and on that ground he would avoid asking for a debate on a special Motion for South Africa, and would content himself with a discussion on the Vote. He hoped, however, that the Vote would be brought on at a sufficiently early hour to admit of a real discussion taking place.


said, he thought the House would agree with the right hon. Gentleman in postponing the question of reviving the Grand Committees. He trusted that on Friday evenings, after the Motions, operative Supply might be set down, and not Bills which had no chance of passing this Session. He should also like to know whether the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister intended to complete the Committee on the Tenants' Compensation Bill before He took the Report on the Corrupt Practices Bill?


reminded the House that the state of Supply at the present time was extremely unsatisfactory. The total number of Votes in the Army, Navy, and Civil Services Estimates was 193, and of these upwards of 140 had yet to to be passed. He thought Supply ought to have precedence over any Bill, except the Corrupt Practices and the Agricultural Holdings Bills, and those coming from the Grand Committees. If the Government still retained the idea of pressing forward some of the Bills of secondary importance which had been mentioned, the result must be either that those Bills would be very inadequately discussed, or Supply would be driven into a corner, or the convenience of Members would be seriously interfered with by the prolongation of the Session.


said, he hoped that the Scotch and English Agricultural Holdings Bills would be taken nearly together for the sake of facilitating the discussion.


said, it would be inconvenient for Members interested in the Agricultural Holdings Bill to return from the Royal Agricultural Society's show at York next Tuesday for the sake of a discussion which would be broken off so early as half-past 10 o'clock.


said, he was rather dissatisfied with the arrangement with regard to the Motion he had on the Paper, inasmuch as he had withdrawn it at a time when, if he had persisted with it, the Government would probably have been defeated. But he did so on the strict understanding that an opportunity for discussing it would be given before the 11th of July. He hoped, therefore, he was not to be put off with only the fragment of a night. As to the Congo, he trusted that if a Treaty were come to it would be laid on the Table during the Session, and that an opportunity would be given for its discussion.


said, he hoped that if the National Debt Bill were proceeded with it would be brought on at an early period. He was quite certain, from what he had heard, that that Bill would not pass through the House without great discussion and opposition. He wished also to refer to the question of emigration, and he hoped the Prime Minister would give no time to the discussion of that question in the direction of increasing it. At present he believed there were not at all too many people in Ireland, and a great deal of labour was wanted which could not be obtained. He hoped, however, the result of the Tramways Bill would be to secure employment for the people who were ready to work.


said, the Prime Minister seemed to be under the impression that the Local Government Board (Scotland) Bill would not be opposed. That was a mistake. It would receive the greatest opposition, not only from several of the Scotch Members, but from himself. He could also entirely confirm what had fallen from the hon. Member who spoke last with regard to the National Debt Bill. He had no doubt that that Bill would provoke much opposition; but he thought it would be very unwise to break off the discussion on the Agricultural Tenants' Compensation Bill in the middle of the night. Perhaps the Prime Minister would say what Votes he considered non-contentious? He thought it would also be advisable to fix a day for their consideration.


said, the Prime Minister had not said that it was determined to abandon the Bill dealing with education in Wales; and he very strongly appealed to him, in his reconsideration of the measure, that he would allow it to be one of the measures to be proceeded with.


said, he understood that in 10 days or a fortnight the Prime Minister would state whether he would proceed with the Bill referred to by the hon. Member who last spoke, and he suggested that it would be de- sirable to have the Bill introduced and circulated in the meantime.


It has been said, Sir, by my hon. Friend behind me, that Tuesday would be an inconvenient day for the discussion of the Tenants' Compensation Bill, and I think that we had better allow the arrangements for Tuesday week to stand over for further consideration, with the view to suit the convenience of hon. Members as far as possible. It may be found convenient to divide the day, and have a Morning Sitting. With respect to the demands of the hon. Member for Guildford (Mr. Onslow), I am obliged to contest entirely what he has said. It is really not reasonable to ask that an entire night should be voted to the further consideration of the question of Indian Finance, unless the hon. Gentleman is prepared to sit here until Christmas. With regard to Zululand, I understand the obstacle in the way of discussing the matter has been removed by the spontaneous action of the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere). The hon. and gallant Baronet the Member for Sussex (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) has asked me whether we can give opportunities for the discussion of the Recruiting and Medical Votes. As to that, we shall do the best we can. We are, however, committed to finish the Corrupt Practices Bill in Committee, and then it is proposed to carry through the two Tenants' Compensation Bills. When that part of our work is done we shall have every disposition to give time to bring on this important and interesting question in Supply. With regard to Welsh education, if the noble Lord (Viscount Emlyn) will communicate with my right hon. Friend about the production of the Bill, that will be the most convenient course. The Bill is, I believe, prepared and ready for introduction; but whether its introduction would be convenient at the present moment I will not undertake to say. I am bound to say, however, that I myself am extremely anxious for a Bill of that kind to pass; but this one contains very complicated provisions, involving a great deal of novelty, and I cannot think we ought to pass a Bill of that kind without sufficient discussion; and, therefore, the question will be how much time the House can give in that direction before it is completely exhausted. With re- gard to emigration, I quite feel that hon. Gentlemen ought to have an opportunity of testing the feeling of the House upon it, and the question of the Tramway Bill for Ireland will probably afford such an opportunity. If not, I shall be ready to revert to the subject on a future day. The Chief Secretary for Ireland has also something to say on that subject; but he does not intend to make a statement at the present moment. Then, I have been asked whether it is intended to have the Committee on the Tenants' Compensation Bill before the Report on the Corrupt Practices Bill, and I think that we should. I cannot give absolute pledges on the subject; but that is what we shall aim at. As to the question of the hon. Member for Guildford (Mr. Onslow) with regard to Congo, the hon. Member may depend upon it that if there be any Treaty—and I cannot throw any light on the probability of there being such a Treaty—we shall lose no time in bringing it under the notice of the House, so that the House may have an opportunity of pronouncing an opinion upon it. I have taken due note of what has been said about the Local Government (Scotland) Bill and the National Debt Bill; but I do not think it would become me to enter upon either of these subjects at the present time, when the question before us is the discharge of certain Orders. With regard to the non-contentious Votes, before the time comes my hon. Friend the Secretary to the Treasury will endeavour to make a statement with respect to them, and I have no doubt he will be able to do so.


asked when the text of the Italian Treaty would be laid on the Table?


said, there was one important Bill relating to Scotland which the Prime Minister did not mention in the list of measures which he said it was the intention of the Government to proceed with this Session. It was the Burgh Police and Health (Scotland) Bill, and he was sure the Scottish Members would be glad to hear from the Prime Minister whether it was the intention of the Government to pass that Bill during the present Session. There was another Bill which he should like the Government to go on with, and that was the Bill for the amendment of the Education Act of Scotland. With regard to the Local Go- vernment Board (Scotland) Bill, he could assure the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir E. Assheton Cross) that, so far from there being any opposition to that measure among Scottish Members on the Liberal side of the House, the more they considered it the better they liked it, and he was very glad that the Government had decided to proceed with it.


said, he agreed with the hon. Member for County Galway (Mr. Mitchell Henry) in the protest he made against any more time and money of the House being given to the helping of Irish emigration. He regretted, however, that the same hon. Member did not see his way to join the Irish Members on that side of the House when on three or four occasions they tried to reduce the money, the using of which he now thought was so injurious. He wished to ask the Prime Minister what had become of the Union Officers' (Ireland) Bill? Did he propose to massacre also the first legislative effort of the junior Member for Leeds (Mr. Herbert Gladstone)?


said, he wished to ask the Prime Minister whether he could not hold out some hopes that several important subjects which were not in the shape of Bills should receive attention before the Session closed? The first of these was the existing condition of India, and the proposed legislation in that part of the Empire. Her Majesty's Government had afforded the House no satisfactory information with respect to those matters, and all that had been ascertained was that India was gradually going from bad to worse. He thought, therefore, that it was very important that Government should give some early opportunity of discussing the disastrous results of their policy in that country. Another subject was the condition of South Africa, where a serious change of policy had recently taken place. The Government had abandoned their intention of sending out a High Commissioner, and had decided to receive Commissioners from the Boers instead. That, he thought, should be made the subject of discussion, as it doubtless had an important bearing upon affairs in the Transvaal. There were other questions of great importance to the trade and commerce of this country which were likely to be ex-eluded from Parliament—such as French aggression upon Madagascar, the Congo, the Indo-Chinese Peninsula, all of which, although the names might be strange and unfamiliar, affected our trade and commerce much more than any of the Bills before the House. Then there was the question of the annexation of New Guinea and the adjacent Islands, which was of the utmost importance to our Australian Colonies and the development of their trade. Yet nothing had, up to the present, been said about it. The home question of housing the poor was also of the greatest importance. That, owing to the influence of the Government over the hon. Member who was to have brought it forward, had been postponed; but he would urge upon the Government that the housing of the poor was a subject of much greater importance than the long, tedious, and impracticable scheme now before the House. He wished to make one very brief protest against the management of Business by Her Majesty's Government. He could not help thinking that it was very unfortunate that the Tenants' Compensation Bill had been made to yield to the Corrupt Practices Bill, as it was very necessary that the former Bill should be sent to the Upper House in ample time to allow of full discussion. He trusted that Her Majesty's Government would see their way to devote some attention to the subjects he had referred to before the Session closed.


regretted that the Government had also massacred another important Irish measure—the Sunday Closing Bill. That measure was looked forward to with pleasure by all classes in Ireland. [Mr. CALLAN: No, no.] He (Colonel King-Harman) insisted that it was a Bill called for loudly by all classes in Ireland. He hoped, therefore, that the Government would reconsider its decision regarding that Bill.


said, that he had not intended addressing the House until the Prime Minister actually moved that the Order for the Sunday Closing (Ireland) Bill be discharged. But as his hon. and gallant Friend opposite (Colonel King-Harman) had introduced the subject, he must not hesitate to supplement his remarks, and to enter as strong a protest as he possibly could against the conduct of the Government in respect to this Bill. In- deed, he felt so strongly about the conduct of the Government, that he should have to be careful lest his feelings caused him to say something which he might afterwards regret. This Sunday Closing Bill for Ireland had been taken up by the Government at the instance of deputations representing every class in the community, which waited upon the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland before the opening of Parliament, and his action was supported by the most unanimous expression of opinion from the districts affected which had ever proceeded from the inhabitants likely to be affected by a social measure. The Bill passed through the House of Lords without a Division very early in the Session, and this, coupled with the fact that the Irish Government pledged itself to pass the Bill, caused the mind of its supporters to be quite easy. They took no pains to get a private measure of a similar nature through the House, and here was the result. Why, the Government had placed the supporters of this measure in the position of the historical donkeys which were coaxed over their journey by carrots being judiciously held to their noses. ["No, no!"] Well he certainly felt himself in that position. The conduct of the Government was a direct breach of faith with the supporters of the Bill. On the 27th of April last, replying to a deputation of Irish Members, the Chief Secretary for Ireland used these words— The Irish Government could never acquiesce in the Sale of Liquors on Sunday (Ireland) Bill not being passed into law this Session. There could be no firmer pledge than that; and yet the Government came and announced the throwing over of the Bill. Now, he must state, in the most emphatic manner, that he acquitted his right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary for Ireland of any chage of mind on this subject. He was convinced that the right hon. Gentleman was of the same mind still. But other influences in the Government had prevailed. He must point out that, in this matter, the Government were teaching a very bad lesson to their Irish Supporters. He, himself, had hitherto been one of the firmest and closest supporters of Her Majesty's Government. Many of the strongest supporters of the Bill were among the supporters of the Government, and from the principal opponents of the measure the Government received nothing but opposition. The hon. and learned Member for Bridport (Mr. Warton) and the hon. Member for Louth (Mr. Callan) were opponents of the Government; but the Government now played into the hands of those hon. Gentlemen, and they were throwing their own followers overboard. He supposed it was too late to induce the Prime Minister to go on with the Bill; but, at any rate, he would supplement the appeal made by the hon. and gallant Member opposite.


explained that the existing Act would be continued.


said, he thought that the Government had adopted a very reasonable course in this matter, and hoped that the Government would not facilitate measures being brought forward on Saturdays by private Members.


hoped the Government would next Session take the matter of Sunday Closing entirely into their own hands. He was very glad to see that the Government intended to bring in a Bill to establish tramways in Ireland.


protested against Sunday Closing being described as the "fad" of a private Member. It was the demand of great numbers of the people of the country. If there was not any progress to be made with the Irish Bill this Session, he hoped they would give facilities to pass the cognate measure relating to this side of the Channel.


said, He could not be regarded as a consistent supporter of Her Majesty's Government; but he should say he heard with very much regret the announcement that the Irish Sunday Closing Bill was to be abandoned for this year, after the various representations made by the Chief Secretary that there was no chance of the Bill being dropped. That step would cause immense discontent and dissatisfaction among his constituents. He trusted, however, that the measure would be again brought in early next Session and passed into law.


wished to know the intentions of the Government with regard to the Bankruptcy Bill. He hoped that the House would have timely Notice when the Bill was to come before them.


said his hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Buchanan) had asked whether the Government intended to proceed with the Burgh Police and Health (Scotland) Bill, and he wished to repeat the question, although, as far as he was concerned, he hoped the Bill would be at once abandoned. It was a Bill of upwards of 600 clauses, many containing a great deal of contentious matter, and it would be utterly futile to endeavour to proceed with it at this late period of the Session. With regard to the Local Government Board (Scotland) Bill, however, that was a measure which the majority of the Scotch Members highly approved of; and he trusted the Government would endeavour to pass it this Session. It was down for second reading for next Monday, when he was afraid there was little chance of its being reached; and he would suggest that it should be set down for Tuesday, on which day there would be a very good chance for it.


, in the absence of his right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade, hoped that the hon. Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Mac Iver) would take an opportunity of consulting his right hon. Friend on the Bankruptcy Bill.


said, he rose to support the request of the hon. Member for Edinburgh that they might be favoured with some information with regard to the Education (Scotland) Bill as well as the Police Bill. The Education Bill was a small one, and he believed it was generally acceptable to Scotch Members, and also was a Bill that was anxiously looked forward to by many people in Scotland. Under these circumstances, he hoped Her Majesty's Government would state what their intentions were with regard to it.


said, that while the Government believed the Police Bill to be one of great importance, he feared that if many parts of it were made contentious, the measure could not be passed this year, and they should be obliged to drop it. The case of the Education Bill, however, was materially different. That was a comparatively small measure, and he could not think that it would be the subject of much argument. It was the intention of the Government to proceed with that Bill.


said, with regard to the remarks of his hon. and learned Friend the Lord Advocate, so far as he was concerned, his objection to the Police Bill only applied to a few clauses specially affecting his own constituency. If the Lord Advocate would withdraw those clauses, which had no necessary connection with the Bill itself, he did not see why the rest of the Bill, with the co-operation of the Scotch Members, should not go through this Session, even although its length was so extended, because the majority of the Amendments ought not to occupy much time.


said, the question ought to be how to press forward the legislation which was most desirable for the country and most beneficial to the majority. He would say a word as to the Irish measure. Let no one complain of him, an English Member, for mentioning an Irish Bill, for the greater part of their time for many years had been devoted to Irish measures. Anything which tended to the amelioration of Irish misery and distress must be matter of the highest importance. The House had heard a great deal about Irish landlords. But the amount of money taken by Irish landlords from the people of Ireland was small compared with that which had been swallowed by the Irish publicans. It was proved that the Bill passed by late Government had saved the Irish people £3,000,000.


said, that the hon. Baronet was not entitled to go into the merits of the question.


said, notwithstanding the interest which the hon. Baronet professed to take in Irish poverty, he (Mr. Callan) could not help remarking that the other night the hon. Baronet came down to the House and waited up until 4 o'clock in the morning to prevent the Irish Members doing something to relieve Irish poverty. The hon. and gallant Member (Colonel King-Harman) called the Registration Bill a Party Bill. He was not surprised at the hon. and gallant Member opposing the Bill, as it was well known a proper registration of voters would make his own seat for the county of Dublin exceedingly insecure. As to the speech of the hon. Member for Belfast (Mr. Corry), he wished to say that he spoke in the presence of the two Representatives of Dublin, the two Representatives of Limerick, the two Representatives of Waterford, and the two Representatives of Cork, and these four cities were all opposed to the extension of the Act to them. As to the Union Officers' Bill, he hoped it would pass, as it was a Bill for the benefit of a very well deserving class.


said, there was no doubt, that notwithstanding all that had been said, that there was in Dublin at least a very strong feeling against the extension of the Sunday Closing Act to that City.


said, he differed with the hon. Member (Mr. M. Brooks). In his opinion the feeling of the vast majority of the people of Dublin ran counter to what the hon. Gentleman had said, and in favour of the Bill.

Question put, and agreed to.

Order discharged; Bill withdrawn.