HC Deb 11 May 1883 vol 279 cc533-5

asked whether the Irish Votes would be taken in Supply on the days immediately following the Recess, or whether the Government would postpone them?


said, he believed there would be no difficulty about the postponement of the Votes referred to.


Will the right hon. Gentleman kindly tell us what the course of Business after the Recess will be; what class of Supplies will be taken; and what will be done in the case of the Corrupt Practices Bill?


Sir, the Corrupt Practices Bill is a Bill of primary importance; and with probably a fortnight's work in Supply before us after the Recess, I must reserve any further statement with regard to that measure until the House meets after the Holidays. Among Bills which cannot be called primary Bills, but which are of importance, we are very anxious to get forward with the Police Pay and Pensions Bill (Ireland), and we must endeavour to make progress with it during the first fortnight after the Recess. With regard to the branches of Supply which will be taken, I have to say that we shall take Civil Service Estimates other than Irish on the first day (Monday), and on the Thursday my noble Friend will proceed with the Army Estimates. On the following Monday we shall again consider the Civil Service Estimates. I ought to Bay one word in explanation of a matter referred to last night. With regard to the question of the Transvaal and the Chiefs of Bechuanaland, I should wish the exact position of the Government to be understood. The Government do not themselves perceive any public advantage to be derived at the present moment from the discussion of the Convention relating to the Transvaal, because, in their opinion, the facts are not sufficiently clear for that purpose. But we cannot say that a discussion would entail a distinct public mischief; and, therefore, being willing to meet the wishes of hon. Gentlemen opposite, I have gone so far as to say that, for the purpose of discussing this question, we must endeavour to find a Government night as soon as the state of Public Business would permit. But, with regard to the question of the Chiefs of Bechuanaland, my opinion is—although I have not the least disposition to deprecate any opinion of the House on the question—that we should not be justified in appropriating any further portion of the Government time for its discussion, it having been already debated through one whole Evening Sitting and on two Morning Sittings. In the information which has indirectly or casually reached us since the debate took place, there is nothing, in our view, to justify us in appropriating more Government time for the discussion. I believe there is no other matter of Public Business on which I have anything to state at the present moment.


Perhaps, Sir, I may be allowed to read the words of the Prime Minister in his speech in the debate on the Motion of the hon. and learned Member for Chatham (Mr. Gorst). Referring to the Bechuanaland question, the right hon. Gentleman said— We do not think that the House should leave the question without some expression of opinion. The right hon. Gentleman also placed a Notice of Motion upon the Paper; and I am bound to say that I can scarcely reconcile the statement which I have read with the view expressed by the right hon. Gentleman on the present occasion.


I think, Sir, I can reconcile the two statements very easily, and also remove the difficulty which the right hon. Gentleman appears to feel. I placed a Motion upon the Paper on the subject now under consideration; but it was not at all intended as an original Motion. We had no intention or desire to put forward an original Motion on the subject; but, after the debate that had taken place, it did appear to us that it was the general wish that some opinion should be recorded. I have no disposition to object to taking the sense of the House upon that Motion. If it is thought fit to take it, by all means let it be done. What I do object to is the appropriation of the Government time for the further discussion of a subject which appears to me to have been discussed, I will not say excessively, but certainly on a scale which is very ample, relatively to the pressure of other matters awaiting consideration.


asked whether the Government intended to give precedence to the Corrupt Practices Bill or the Agricultural Holdings Bill after Whitsuntide?


said, he must ask a little time to consider that matter.