HC Deb 29 May 1883 vol 279 cc1188-92

Order for Committee read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."—(Mr. George Russell.)


said, he thought that this Bill, which proposed so many material alterations of the Act now in force, and other fresh matter, should not be taken at that late hour of the night. He also entered his protest against proceeding with the Bill then, because the second reading, on Tuesday last, had been obtained by what he might call a snatch process. Several hon. Members who intended to oppose, and had given Notice of opposition to the Bill, having left the House, in the belief that the second reading of the Bill would not be taken. Further, the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. George Russell) having, as a new Member, not a great experience in these matters had given the House no explanation of the object and provisions of the Bill. Under these circumstances, he felt it his duty to move the Adjournment of the Debate.


said, he rose for the purpose of seconding the Motion for the Adjournment of the Debate. The question dealt with in the Bill was of very great importance; and he would only say, with reference to the second reading, that it was taken by an extraordinary accident. Under the peculiar circumstances of the case, he thought they should not then go into Committee on the Bill.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. Cavendish Bentinck.)


said, it had been erroneously stated that he had agreed to postpone the Bill; but, as a matter of fact, he said that if the Bill did not come forward on Tuesday evening he should proceed with it this day. So far as he was concerned, there was certainly no breach of faith in proceeding with it last Tuesday, although he himself was not personally a party to the proceeding. As he would not be in Order now in endeavouring to remedy the defect which, the right hon. and learned Gentleman who moved the Adjournment of the Debate had referred to, he would venture to submit that his present object was to advance the Bill a stage, without proceeding to any final issue with regard to the details of the measure; and he would respectfully point out that, if the House would consent to the Motion for going into Committee, no harm could possibly be done, while the promoters of the Bill would be much gratified.


said, he hoped his right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Whitehaven (Mr. Cavendish Bentinck) would not press his Motion. His right hon. and learned Friend had called the Bill hard names; but he (Mr. W. H. Smith) believed that, on the whole, it was one of the best of its kind that had been introduced into the House; and, therefore, he trusted that Mr. Speaker would be allowed to leave the Chair, on the assurance given by the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. George Russell) that no progress would be made that night in Committee, and on the understanding that, on a future occasion, there would be ample opportunity for discussion.


said, the House was aware that the second reading stage of the Bill was passed without any explanation being given by the hon. Member in charge of the measure. The Bill was by no means a simple one, and a casual examination of it showed that it took up a very obnoxious position. He could not then go into the principles of the Bill; but he contended that an opportunity should be given for that purpose, seeing that the last stage had been taken without any discussion at all. So far as the leading features of the measure were concerned; he believed that it would be found to be objectionable from almost every point of view. Amongst other things, it presented the extraordinary proposal that tests should be applied. He should never have expected that his hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury (Mr. George Russell) would have committed himself to any measure that subjected candidates in this country to new religious tests. Hon. Members would agree with him that a measure of that character ought to undergo a searching investigation in the House. As a matter of fact, the second reading had not been passed at all; the whole subject was in obscurity; and as long as that continued he should not shrink from what he regarded as his duty in opposing the progress of the Bill. Besides these grounds of objection, there was the strongest reason for opposing the Motion to advance a Bill of that character at such an untimely hour.


said, he was somewhat amused to notice that hon. Gentlemen who complained in one breath that they had not had any explanation of the Bill with the next took the very course to prevent any explanation being given.


said, he rose to point out that this was a very important Bill in the interest of the Church. No explanation had been given of its provisions on the second reading; and he understood that the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. George Russell) had now moved that Mr. Speaker do leave the Chair without tendering any explanation. The course which had been followed was most unusual, especially in the case of Bills of this character. Doubtless, the Bill was a good one; but that was no reason why they should depart from the ordinary practice of the House, to evade which so many attempts had been made of late.


said, they could not expect that the House would agree to go into Committee on the Bill without receiving an explanation, either on the second reading or on this stage. He understood, however, that the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. George Russell) would now be prepared to shortly state the objects of the Bill, if he were allowed to do so; therefore, it would not be unreasonable to withdraw the Motion for Adjournment. After hearing the hon. Gentleman's statement, the House would be in a better position to say whether the discussion should be taken to-night or not.

Question put.

The House divided;—Ayes 33; Noes 44: Majority 11.—(Div. List, No. 107.)

Original Question again proposed.


said, he begged now to move the Adjournment of the House. He could honestly tell his hon. Friend opposite (Mr. George Russell) that he knew very little indeed about the Bill; but he was adopting a course consistent to the practice he had always taken in the House—namely, of opposing Bills containing such clauses as the 7th clause in this Bill, when they were brought on without explanation. If he went through the Bill he might approve of it; but, whether it was a good measure or not, it was a monstrous thing, and utterly futile, to pass it without a single word of explanation. He was in the House when, amidst the cheers of its supporters, it was read a second time, without a word having been previously said in explanation of it. If the House was to pass Bills of this kind, they ought, at least, to have them discussed.


said, he was very grieved to hear the remarks of his hon. Friend (Mr. George Russell) on this subject. It was unusual to proceed with a Bill when there was so large a minority against its being proceeded with. It was unwise to force the Committee stage of a measure of this kind on the House without discussion. He begged to second the Motion for the Adjournment of the House.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—(Mr. Onslow.)


said, he had gathered the sense of hon. Gentlemen sitting around him; and from that, and what he understood to be the feeling of hon. Members on the other side of the House, it would seem that it was no use proceeding with the measure. He wished to repudiate the charge, which some hon. Members persisted in urging against him, that he had treated the House with disrespect. ["No, no!"] He was glad to hear that denial; but, no doubt, a great deal had been said about the manner in which the Bill had been pushed on. If he had been in the House when it was read a second time he should have explained its provisions. As he now saw a determination on the other side to prevent their going on any further with the Bill, he must reluctantly submit to a postponement. He should have been glad to have taken the Committee stage even formally; but as hon. Members would not consent to that, he would agree, if the Motion for the Adjournment of the House were with drawn, to move the Adjournment of the Debate.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Original Question again proposed.

Motion made, and Question, "That the Debate be now adjourned,"—(Mr. George Russell,)—put, and agreed to.

Debate adjourned till Tuesday next.