§ SIR MASSEY LOPES
asked, Whether, in view of the numerous Notices of opposition to the National Debt Bill, that important measure will be brought forward at so late a period of the Session; if so, when?
Sir, the Government adhere to the intention which was explained by me on a former day, not very long ago, that, although this Bill is certainly an important Bill, and although it is true that several hon. Members have given Notice of their intention to oppose it, yet, in our view, the question raised in the Bill is a simple one. We do not look upon it as a Bill in relation to which it is likely that a great number of questions of detail will arise; and, therefore, conceiving it to be very closely connected with the efficiency and healthiness of, our financial system, we feel it our duty to take the judgment of the House upon it. I should hope that the Bill will be submitted for second reading on Tuesday next, placing it absolutely or substantially as the first Order. I may state that on Thursday we propose to proceed with Supply, taking the remaining English and Scotch Votes in Class II. and the Votes in Class III. on Law and Police; and likewise, if we can, taking the Scotch Education 1153 Vote. We shall also propose to proceed with Supply on Monday and Thursday next week. We shall give sufficient Notice of the Votes then to be taken. To-night, we expect to dispose of the Report of the Agricultural Holdings (England) Bill, and of what remains to be done in Committee on the Scotch Bill. In that case, I come to deal with the Business for to-morrow (Wednesday). At present, that Business is menaced by the barrier of a discussion, which would undoubtedly be one of great importance, upon a Motion of the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. B. Samuelson) in relation to a new Standing Order affecting rates on railways. That opens a subject so wide that it is quite evident that it will excite a lively interest on the part of the numerous Gentlemen in the House connected with the various railways of the country, and I own I think that, if it came to be launched, it would be impossible, in the limited number of hours assigned, to make practical progress, or to obtain a judgment of the House upon the Standing Order. Taking that fact into view, and likewise the urgency of proceeding with Legislative Business, I am disposed to make an appeal to my hon. Friend, and to express the hope that he will feel himself justified in not pressing that subject to-morrow, but in waiting for a more convenient season for bringing it under the consideration of the House. I would also make a similar appeal to the hon. Member for Preston opposite (Mr. Tomlinson), that he would likewise be inclined to combine with my hon. Friend in allowing the House to deal with Legislative Business. If that should be the case, and if the two Agricultural Holdings Bills pass their present stage to-night, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department (Sir William Harcourt) will to-morrow proceed to submit, for second reading, the Local Government (Scotland) Bill, and take the judgment of the House on that subject. It will be followed, in case it should not occupy the whole day, by the Parliamentary Registration (Ireland) Bill.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
said, he hoped that the Prime Minister would invert the order announced yesterday, and take the Report on the Parliamentary Elections (Corrupt and Illegal Practices) Bill before the Report on the Bankruptcy Bill. It was important that the former 1154 measure should be proceeded with while the House was still full.
said, that the Government would consider the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman to the best of their ability, and he would announce, on an early day, the conclusion at which they might arrive.
§ SIR R. ASSHETON CROSS
said, he would remind the Prime Minister that the hon. and learned Attorney General had promised a great many Amendments on the Parliamentary Elections (Corrupt and Illegal Practices) Bill to meet the views of hon. Members in all parts of the House, and it was desirable that these should be considered while the attendance was full.
§ SIR JOHN HAY
said, he wished to ask the Prime Minister, with reference to the Local Government (Scotland) Bill, whether, under no circumstances, it would be taken that night?
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, he would ask the right hon. and gallant Gentleman riot to assume that, supposing they were fortunate enough to dispose of the two Agricultural Holdings Bills in sufficient time that night, the Government should not take the Local Government (Scotland) Bill.
in reply, said, he could not state absolutely now; but the Government had the matter in view for an early day.
§ MR. RAIKES
asked, what Business would be taken on Friday; and, whether there was to be a Morning Sitting on that day?
in reply, said, there were Votes relating to the Transvaal and to Egypt, which must have precedence of further Votes for the Army. He thought the time had come when the Government might ask the House for the whole of Friday, and, possibly, for Saturday Sittings; but he would refer to that matter again in a day or two, when it might be necessary to include Saturdays in their calculations. He was reluctant to include next Friday, simply on the ground that the first Notice on the Paper for that 1155 day was one impugning the conduct and policy of his noble Friend the Viceroy of India (the Marquess of Ripon), and he would not like to make any request to the House which would seem to imply, on the part of the Government, any unwillingness that a subject of that kind should come under the notice of the House.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
said, he would beg to remind the right hon. Gentleman that a strong protest was entered against Saturday Sittings, at the time when the House was asked to give greater facilities to the Government for the despatch of Business, and the right hon. Gentleman, recognizing the great inconvenience of such Sittings, intimated that there would come a time, with the end of the Session plainly in view, when it might be expedient to have Saturday Sittings, rather than add a few days to the length of the Session. He understood the right hon. Gentleman would not ask for Saturday Sittings until he was in a position to tell the House when he expected the Session would end. In the spirit of the understanding then come to, the right hon. Gentleman ought to tell the House now what was the earliest possible day when he expected the Session to close?
said, he did not absolutely admit the perfect accuracy of the statement of the right hon. Gentleman; still, it was not very far from correct. It was quite true he was desirous to postpone, as long as possible, the date for making an application so disagreeable as that of Saturday Sittings. He had not, in fact, yet made the application. It was only what was said by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Raikes) that made him refer to the subject; but, when he did make the application, he would state all that appeared to him to bear on the case.
§ In reply to Mr. PEMBERTON,
MR. B. S A MUELSON
said, that after the appeal which had been made to him by the Prime Minister, he would not bring forward the Standing Order which stood in his name to-morrow; but he begged to give Notice that he would do so early next Session.
§ MR. TOMLINSON
said, that, under the circumstances, he would not to-morrow propose the Standing Order of which he had given Notice.