§ Order for Second Heading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be read a second time To-morrow, at Two of the clock."—(Mr. Attorney General.)
§ MR. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT
said, before the Motion was agreed to, he wished to protest against the way in which the interests of private Members had been trampled upon by the Government. There was not, he believed, any precedent in recent years for the appointment of Morning Sittings before Easter, a practice to which the Government had recently resorted. There was no valid ground for the deprivation from which private Members were suffering at the hands of the Government.
asked if the hon. Member for Eye was in Order in making these remarks, the Morning Sitting having been fixed?
§ MR. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT
said, the observation of the hon. Member for Glasgow showed a deplorable want of acquaintance with the Rules of the House. The Government could not be surprised at Motions for Adjournment and discussions at inconvenient times, if they deprived hon. Members of their opportunities of bringing forward their Motions. He had himself been a serious sufferer from that cause. He ventured to say that the Government would not be gainers by the practice, because at times most convenient to himself, and perhaps inconvenient to the Government, he should now feel it his duty to call attention to subjects which he had not, owing to the action of the Government, been able to bring forward at the appointed time. That day every expedient had been resorted to for putting off the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London (Mr. J. G. Hubbard), and that of the hon. and gallant Member for Devon-port (Captain Price.) Those two important Motions had been pushed about in a manner which caused great incon- 587 venience to the House generally, and to the hon. Members in whose names they stood. [Sir CHAKLES W. DILKE dissented.] He must ask the protection of Mr. Speaker against the incoherent mumblings of the President of the Local Government Board. This was a very serious question. The Government complained of Obstruction; but he ventured to say that if they paid more respect to the rights of private Members, and if they had made up their minds as to their policy, there would have been none of the debates, or certainly but one quarter of the debates, which had taken place, and to which Ministers so much objected, on the Egyptian Question. There would also have been much saving of time in regard to the raising of other questions and inconvenient Motions. He rose, however, for the purpose of moving, as an Amendment to the Motion before the House, that the Bill be put down for Monday at 4 o'clock, instead of for that day at 2 o'clock. He doubted if Her Majesty's Government would gain anything by the Morning Sitting to-morrow; they would probably waste time, while they injured private Members. He felt it his duty to make this protest in behalf of independent Members, whose rights were infringed; and he should repeat it on every future occasion, when the Government pursued their present course of treating private Members unfairly, while, at the same time, they failed to advance Business in any way.
§ MR. WARTON
said, he begged to second the Amendment of the hon. Member for Eye. The Government persisted in treating the House with scant courtesy; hon. Members had been trifled with in the most ridiculous manner with regard to the Sitting of to-morrow morning. On Tuesday they were told there would not be a Morning Sitting on Friday; on "Wednesday they were told there might be; and to-day they were told there would be a Morning Sitting on Friday. In that way the Government, of their own sweet will, trifled with the convenience of Members and the public time. He joined in the protest of the hon. Member for Eye against a Morning Sitting to-morrow. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade said— "It is already fixed;" it was in that way the House was irritated so much, although the Go- 588 vernment had not sense enough to see it. If it were otherwise, he was convinced that a great deal more Business would be gone through in the House. He had put down a Notice of Motion that Morning Sittings should not be fixed except by Motion made in the ordinary way.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out the words "To-morrow, at Two of the clock," in order to insert the words "upon Monday next,"—(Mr. Ashmead-Bartlett,) —instead thereof.
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
said, the Motion of the hon. Member for Eye, if carried, would have the effect of wasting the time of the House.
§ MR. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT
said, that would not be so. Private Members would proceed with their Motions.
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
repeated that there would be a waste of time. He presumed that Orders of the Day would be taken before Notices of Motion. However, the hon. Member, in his opinion, had lost his opportunity by not making his Motion at an earlier stage. The House had certainly agreed to a Morning Sitting for to-morrow.
§ MR. HICKS
said, he would appeal strongly to the Government to reconsider the course they were taking. There had been more Morning Sittings up to that early period of the Session than had been known in the history of the House. And what had resulted from them? Almost every one of them had been wasted, and that, too, by the Government themselves. At one Morning Sitting the House was called together to take into consideration the Contagious Diseases (Animals) Bill; but instead of proceeding with it the Government took another Bill, the consequence being, as he stated, that the Sitting was wasted. The Bill was then put down for another Morning Sitting, which was likewise nearly wasted. Then, again, they had insisted on a Morning Sitting last Tuesday, and Her Majesty's Government were well aware of the result. They were now asked for another Morning Sitting tomorrow; but he thought, judging from the feeling shown by the House, that the Government were not likely to derive any benefit from this 589 tyrannical treatment of hon. Members. On the contrary, they would probably discover that "force was no remedy." They might get Members into their places at 2 o'clock; but it by no means followed that their Bills would be passed. He hoped, therefore, they would reconsider their line of conduct with, regard to these irregular demands upon the convenience and rights of private Members, and allow the Business of the House to proceed in the ordinary way.
§ MR. BIGGAR
said, if the Government were determined to have a Morning Sitting to-morrow the time could be very pleasantly occupied in discussing the Stockton Carrs Rail way Bill, which was down for second reading.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 59; Noes 21: Majority 38.—(Div. List, No. 69.)
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill to be read a second time Tomorrow, at Two of the clock.