§ Order for Committee read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."—(Mr. Mundella.)
expressed a hope that the measure would be postponed, on the ground that it had been sprung upon the House that night by surprise. He trusted that if the right hon. Gentleman succeeded in getting the Speaker out of the Chair, he would give some promise that the provisions of the Bill would not be discussed at a late hour of the night. The right hon. Gentleman must be well aware that the Bill was of great interest to medical men throughout the country, and also that there was strong opposition to some of the details of it. He therefore hoped that the consideration of the clauses would not be allowed to come on, except at such a time as would allow of the discussion being reported in the newspapers.
§ COLONEL KING-HARMAN
concurred with the hon. Member that the Bill had been sprung upon the House—as almost every Bill had been in the course of the evening—entirely by surprise. The best proof he could give of that was that hon. Gentlemen who were most interested in the Bill with regard 1748 to Ireland were absent. For instance, the two right hon. and learned Gentlemen who were Members for the University of Dublin (Mr. Gibson and Mr. Plunket), who were seriously interested in the Bill, inasmuch as that University would be greatly affected by it, and both of whom had placed Amendments upon the Paper, were absent. The hon. Member for Carlow, who also entertained very strong opinions upon the Bill, was not in his place; and the hon. Member for the City of Dublin (Dr. Lyons), who was himself a medical gentleman, was another absentee.
§ COLONEL KING-HARMAN
said, he was glad to see the hon. Member present; but there were a great number of Irish Members who were not in their places, but who certainly would have been present if they had had the slightest idea that the measure was intended to be brought on. Many hon. Gentlemen would have put down Amendments if they had imagined the Bill was coming on. [Mr. MUNDELLA dissented.] The right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill shook his head; but he might inform the right hon. Gentleman that he himself had a number of Amendments to put down; but, knowing that the Vote of Censure was to come on, he had not thought it of the least use to put those Amendments down. Many Amendments had been carefully considered, and would be placed upon the Paper; and it was only right that hon. Members should have an opportunity of seeing them before the clauses came on for discussion. The Government would certainly not have been able to reach the Bill in the ordinary course of events, and the result of the collapse of the Vote of Censure was that they had been engaged all the evening in running through the Orders. He was sorry that Bills should have been run through the House without any discussion at all, and that they should have been forced, as it were, down the throats of the House by four or five of the subordinate Members of the Government sitting on the Front Bench, who, sic volo sic jubeo, had thrust Order after Order down the throats of hon. Members. They had now disposed of four or five Orders, although, at the early part of the Sitting, it was not supposed that there 1749 would be the slightest chance of getting rid of the ordinary Business, or even of reaching them. In the ordinary conduct of Parliamentary work, the Government knew very well that they could not have got this measure on, and the measure itself was of such importance that he did not think it should be advanced a stage under such circumstances. He knew very well that all the right hon. Gentleman wanted was to move the Speaker out of the Chair, and that he did not propose to go further that night; but that simply meant that he would be able to take up the measure on any subsequent day up to the end of July at 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning, when hon. Members from Ireland and Scotland were away, and when the Government could fill up the Benches with their own immediate supporters and force any Bill they liked through the House. He did not himself think that hon. Gentlemen on the Treasury Bench could feel proud of the way they were endeavouring to push forward a measure like this. He was quite sure that if they were proud of the way in which the Business had been conducted that night, the rest of the House were not; and when the public knew what had taken place, they would not be very proud of the right hon. Gentleman who had charge of the Bill. In order to show that the House had had enough of this system of shoving Bills through without discussion, simply by making use of the Government majority, he would move the adjournment of the debate.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned." —(Colonel King-Harman.)
§ MR. MUNDELLA
said, that when the Prime Minister, at the early part of the evening, gave a list of the number of Bills it was proposed to reach that night, he (Mr. Mundella) himself had stated that he had no intention of making progress with this Bill beyond moving the Speaker out of the Chair. That he should have done, and intended to do under any circumstances, totally irrespective of what had happened in the early part of the evening. He had not the least intention of taking the House by surprise. There had been no lack of debate on the second reading of the Bill. ["Oh!"] He was astonished to hear that cry, because, on two occasions, 1750 it had already been under discussion; on the first occasion for two hours, and again on Friday evening, when it was debated exhaustively, and the debate was not completed until 11 o'clock. It, therefore, could not be said that the debate on the second reading had not worn itself out. All he proposed to do now was to move the Speaker out of the Chair. He should then give ample time for hon. Members to put down Amendments, and he would promise the House that the Bill should not be brought on at an unreasonable hour, but at an hour when it could be fairly discussed.
§ MR. BUCHANAN
reminded the right hon. Gentleman that, in the previous debate, several speeches were made and numerous Amendments suggested, especially by his right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Edinburgh (Sir Lyon Playfair). He thought the Vice President of the Council at that time made a promise to the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Bryce) that, on the Motion for going into Committee, an ample opportunity should be given for discussing the Bill. [Cries of "Go on now!"] One sufficient reason why he could not do so was that he would be out of Order. All he wished was to have some assurance from the right hon. Gentleman himself as to what Amendments he was willing, on behalf of the Government, to adopt. He should like to have that assurance before they got the Speaker out of the Chair.
§ SIR LYON PLAYFAIR
asked the hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Buchanan) to recollect the conditions under which the Vice President of the Council made the promise to him (Sir Lyon Playfair), as to affording an opportunity for discussion on the Motion for going into Committee. It was upon the first debate on the second reading, and the promise was conditional upon the debate being concluded on that day. It did not conclude on that day, however, but came on again on Thursday, when the Bill was discussed again. Therefore, the motive of the Government in offering a discussion on the Motion for going into Committee had already gone. He understood his right hon. Friend the Vice President of the Council to say that he did not intend to go on with the Committee until next week, so that there would be ample time for putting down Amendments. He was 1751 quite ready to accept the promise of the right hon. Gentleman that Members would not be taken by surprise, but f that ample time would be given for putting down Amendments, and that some time would elapse before the House would be called upon to discuss them.
wished to point out the position they would be in if the proposal now made were accepted by the House. It would only be possible, after the House had gone into Committee, for hon. Members to discuss the particular clause which was proposed to them; because, according to the strict Rules of the House, they could not go through the general proposals of the Bill. Now, this was a most important Bill. Its object was to regulate the future status and education of the Medical Profession, and to make it uniform throughout the Three Kingdoms. If the Medical Profession were once made to believe that the matter had not been fairly discussed in the House it would create great discontent throughout the country. It was patent to everyone present that a great number of persons who were interested in the measure could not have expected it to be reached. It had come on by surprise, and the Government were really endeavouring to steal a march upon the House by making a proposal of this kind. He did not think the Government were entitled to do anything of the kind; and, under the circumstances, it would be much more satisfactory, and would lead to the more calm and dispassionate consideration of the clauses of the Bill hereafter in Committee, if a discussion were allowed to take place on going into Committee.
§ MR. WARTON
said, with regard to the observations of the right hon. Member for the University of Edinburgh (Sir Lyon Playfair) as to the promise made by the Vice President of the Committee of Council, whatever promise was made by the right hon. Gentleman, it ought not to affect the course pursued by the House. Personally, he (Mr. Warton) protested against any such promise being made at all, because the House had an absolute right to discuss every Bill on the Motion for going into Committee. He, therefore, did not want a matter to be put as a favour with regard to which they had a positive right. 1752 No doubt Ministers thought they were conferring a great favour upon the House, and some of them seemed to think that the House had no rights at all. The right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council had moved the Speaker out of the Chair; but the House had a right to a full discussion, not only upon the second reading of the Bill, but also upon the Motion for going into Committee.
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. and learned Member is going away from the Question, which is that the debate be now adjourned.
wished to say a word in reference to what had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Edinburgh (Sir Lyon Playfair), and from the hon. Gentleman the Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Buchanan). His hon. Friend said they had been promised a full opportunity of discussing the measure on the Motion for going into Committee; but his right hon. Friend said that promise had fallen to the ground, because the debate upon the second reading had extended into a second day. But it must be remembered that on that second day it was only in consequence of the collapse of the Sale of Intoxicating Liquors on Sunday (Ireland) Bill that the Medical Bill was brought on, and that it came on when Members wore unprepared for it. He trusted that the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite (Colonel King-Harman) would press his Motion for the adjournment of the debate, and he (Mr. Dick-Peddie) should certainly support him.
§ MR. BIGGAR
said, he thought the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for the County of Dublin (Colonel King-Harman) was justified in moving the adjournment of the debate, and for this reason—it was all very well for the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council to tell them on that occasion that he would not ask them to go further that night than to get the Speaker out of the Chair. The right hon. Gentleman also said that he would not bring forward the clauses of the Bill in Committee, except at a reasonable hour. If the right hon. Gentleman had said that he would not bring the Bill forward after 10 o'clock at night he could understand his promise; but a simple promise only to bring it forward at a reasonable hour was not suffi- 1753 cient, according to his idea, of affording sufficient time for the discussion of a Bill about which, upon the details, there was ample room for a considerable amount of difference of opinion. There were a great number of Members from Ireland who were interested in the Bill, and also a great number of Members from Scotland, and, he presumed, from England too. For that reason he thought it was a Bill of sufficient importance to be made a first Order. The Bill was one which attracted the attention, not only of the rising generation of doctors, but also of medical men who were actually engaged in medical work, and the Colleges which had been endowed for the purpose of providing medical education. The vested interests of the Professors were also largely involved in the question; and he thought hon. Members ought to use every exertion in order to secure the proper discussion of the Bill. It certainly was a measure which would require a great deal more attention than the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council seemed inclined to devote to it. It ought to be one of the great measures of the Session. Indeed, he was inclined to think that if it were passed into law, which he presumed it would be, it would be the most important of the measures which would be passed that Session. It was, therefore, only reasonable that sufficient time should be given to the House for the consideration of the details of the Bill, and that it should not be brought forward at a time when proper discussion would be out of the question.
§ COLONEL MAKINS
said, he quite agreed with the hon. Member for Cavan (Mr. Biggar) that this was the most important Bill the Government had brought forward that Session. It was so important and valuable a measure that it certainly ought not to be rushed through the House after midnight. It was one of the Bills which ought to have the most prominent place on the Paper, and he would suggest to the Vice President of the Council that he should make arrangements with his Colleagues to have it put down on Thursday next instead of the London Government Bill. It was a Bill which dealt with the interests of the existing generation in a much more important manner than the London Government Bill was ever likely 1754 to do. Many hon. Members were anxious to take part in the debate upon the Motion for going into Committee upon the Bill; and it was unfair to them, to the House, and to the Bill itself to make progress with the Bill in the way now proposed. He, therefore, hoped his hon. and gallant Friend the Member for the County of Dublin (Colonel King-Harman) would press the Motion for Adjournment to a Division.
§ DR. LYONS
appealed to the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill to name some day for the Committee that should be at a little distance off, so that ample time might be given to the numerous persons connected with the great Medical Corporations who desired to have a discussion [upon a question so vitally affecting their personal interests. Many of these Corporations had written to him, expressing their belief that their interests were about to be compromised in a very serious way. The propositions which were made the other day by his right hon. Friend near him the Member for the University of Edinburgh (Sir Lyon Playfair) had met with very general acceptance; and hopes were entertained that, if they were adopted, the measure would not have the destructive tendency, in regard to the Medical Corporations, which was now feared. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would listen to the, representations which had been made to him.
§ MR. BIGGAR
said, he rose to a point of Order. He thought it was desirable that the hon. Member should address himself to the Chair, instead of to the Vice President of the Council, and that he should not deliver his remarks in a conversational tone which the general body of hon. Members were unable to hear.
§ DR. LYONS
said, the principal object with which he had risen was to request the Vice President of the Council to give ample Notice to the House before proceeding to consider the details of the Bill in Committee; and, further, to suggest that if it was found necessary to take a second night for the Committee, he would take it upon the next day, for this important reason. A great number of persons were coming over from various parts of Scotland and Ireland, in order to watch the discussion; and he knew, as a fact, that a large number of persons representing Medical 1755 Corporations would, desire to be present. They were all men of high influence and importance in connection with their Profession; and there were, as the House could see, special reasons why they should know how long they were likely to be detained here. He trusted the right hon. Gentleman would bear that circumstance in mind, and would give the House some hope that the proceedings in Committee would be continued from day to day.
§ MR. MUNDELLA
said, he had no light to speak again, except by the leave of the House; but perhaps he might be permitted to say that he had not the least intention of taking the Bill in Committee for at least a week to come. He would put it down for that day week, not with the intention of taking it then, but with a view of fixing a day when it would be taken, because it was impossible for any Member of the Government off-hand to fix the precise time when a Bill might be taken in Committee. He would promise to bring it on at some reasonable hour after next Monday week.
§ MR. TOMLINSON
said, that, considering the nature of the Bill, and the vast importance of the principles it involved, they would hardly lie justified in allowing the House to go into Committee next week, and for this reason—that the Bill which passed the House would not be the Bill now before it, but the Bill very greatly amended. Many hon. Members were anxious to put down Amendments; and his own opinion was that it was desirable to have a complete discussion on going into Committee, and before considering the Amendments. The Bill was of considerable importance to all medical men, and it was highly desirable that before going into Committee they should have before them the Amendments which it was proposed to introduce. For these reasons he would give his support to the Amendment of his hon. and gallant Friend.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
remarked that he did not often find himself supporting the hon. and gallant Member for the County of Dublin (Colonel King-Harman); but if the hon. and gallant Member went to a Division, he should be most happy to support the Motion for Adjournment. Whether the hon. and gallant Member went to a Division or not, he (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) and his 1756 hon. Friends around him were determined that a Division should be taken on the question. The right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council certainly appeared to think that Members of Parliament were very innocent when he supposed they did not understand the extraordinary effect which the acceptance of the proposal to go into Committee would have. Everybody knew that the moment the Speaker was got out of the Chair the time for discussion on the part of the House would be practically gone. What would take place would be this—that the right hon. Gentleman would be at liberty to go on with the Bill in Committee on any day or at any hour of the night he might choose. Therefore, the House were asked by the right hon. Gentleman to surrender their control over the Bill. He must say that he thought, to use no harsher word, that it required a considerable amount of courage on the part of the right hon. Gentleman, or of any Member of the Government, to propose to go forward with any Bill of importance that day. It was perfectly notorious that not a single Bill on the whole list of 26 Government Orders was really down for discussion. No Member, even with the most audacious imagination, could, at the commencement of the evening, have contemplated a discussion on any one of them. He quite coincided with the observations of his hon. Friend the Member for Cavan (Mr. Biggar) in regard to the Bill which they were now asked to discuss at that hour of the night. He thought it was, with the exception of the Bill which had now passed a way from that House to "another place," the most important Bill of the Session which the Government had any chance of passing into law. In the course of three or four days they would be told that it would be necessary to abandon a number of Government measures; but this would not be included among thorn. Nevertheless, it was a Bill in regard to which hon. Members from Scotland and Ireland were justified in demanding a complete discussion at a proper time of the evening, and after due and fair Notice. What would have been said if a course like this had been proposed to be taken in regard to the Sale of Intoxicating Liquors on Sunday (Ireland) Bill which dealt with the 1757 interests of a large trade and community? What would have been said if a proposition of this sort in regard to that Bill had been sprung upon the House by surprise? It would have been resisted in the most strenuous manner. But here was a Bill which absolutely revolutionized the whole system of conferring medical degrees.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
said, he quite understood the object with which the right hon. Gentleman had risen. He was afraid that he was travelling somewhat beyond the Question before the House; but he did not intend to enter into the general merits of the question. He was arguing in favour of the adjournment of the debate on account of the fact that a large number of persons in whose welfare they were interested had not received due Notice that the Bill was intended to be brought on that night, and were, therefore, not there in order to organize an opposition to the measure, or, at any rate, to take steps to secure the amendment of some of its provisions. If it had been anticipated that the Bill would have come on for discussion, he imagined that the hon. Member for the City of Dublin (Dr. Lyons) would have had influential deputations from the important Medical Corporations of Dublin waiting upon him in the Lobby to advise with him; and he was also sure that the right hon. Member for the University of Edinburgh (Sir Lyon Playfair) and the hon. Member for the City of Edinburgh (Mr. Buchanan) would have had their medical forces organized outside, in order to bring pressure to bear upon the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council in securing the amendment of the Bill. Under these circumstances, he thought the facts he had put forward, in conjunction with those which had been brought forward by other hon. Members, established an unanswerable case against the Bill being further proceeded with that night. He would only add that he and his hon. Friends around him were determined, in the event of the right hon. Gentleman persisting in his present irrational course, to offer the Bill all the legitimate opposition the Rules of the House would permit him to do.
§ MR. WEBSTER
said, he felt bound to support the Motion for the Adjournment of the debate. He exceedingly 1758 disliked the idea of passing any stage of an important Bill by what might appear to be taking the House by surprise. After the unexpected collapse of the Vote of Censure that evening the House had become so disorganized that no one expected any important Bill would be likely to be brought on. It was impossible, he thought, to proceed with the discussion of the Medical Bill, especially at so unreasonable an hour (12.30).
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
said, he felt bound to support the Motion of the hon. and gallant Member for the County of Dublin (Colonel King-Harman), and he did so because he was of opinion that it was not at all fair to those Gentlemen who were deeply interested in the provisions of the Bill, and who formed a very numerous class, that it should be sprung upon the House unexpectedly at that hour of the night. He certainly did not think that the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council was acting in regard to the measure in a manner which could be regarded as satisfactory by those hon. Members who were interested in the details of the Bill, many of whom were at that moment absent from the House under the impression that there was no prospect of the measure being brought on. The Government would be setting an extremely bad precedent if they insisted upon the House entering upon so important a Bill at that late hour of the night; and he did not think hon. Members would be doing their duty if they did not rise in their places to protest against the action of the right hon. Gentleman in attempting to force the House under the circumstances to go into Committee upon the Bill. Not only was it the fact that Members of the House generally who were interested in the measure were absent, but many Members of the Irish Party, to which he had the honour to belong, were absent who, from the personal interest they took in the provisions of the Bill, would assuredly have been in their places, if they could have had the slightest idea that it was the intention of the right hon. Gentleman to force the Bill on. Indeed, he could name one hon. Member who was interested in a special degree in the details of the Bill who was not in his place, owing to the unexpected manner in which the Orders of the Day had been reached. He therefore 1759 joined in the general appeal which had been made to the Government not to go further with the measure that night; but to consent to the Motion of the hon, and gallant Member for the County of Dublin (Colonel King-Harman). He protested against the action of the right hon. Gentleman in endeavouring to force the measure on the House. The next thing they would have, he supposed, would be a proposal to force on the House at a late hour of night some measure of vast importance to Ireland. Such a thing, at any rate, might be expected if the Government went on in the way proposed by the right hon. Gentleman.
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Member is now travelling beyond the subject before the House, which is a Motion for Adjournment.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
said, he was about to show why he supported the Motion of the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for County Dublin (Colonel King-Harman). He supported it because he did not at all believe in the principle which had actuated the right hon. Gentleman in endeavouring to bring the Bill into Committee at that time of night. Though many hon. Members might not be interested in the measure, yet they knew that if they allowed an important Bill to get into Committee at such an hour a precedent would be set, and the time might come when some important measure relating to Ireland would be brought in and forced on the attention of Parliament by some Minister who took notice of the fact that there were not many Irish Members in their places. It was for that reason that he had occupied the time of the House in protesting against the action of the Government in attempting to force this most important measure into Committee now, and in endeavouring to deal in a manner that was not satisfactory or fair with so many Gentlemen who were deeply interested in the Bill, but were not now in their places. He had much pleasure in supporting the Motion for Adjournment.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, he had no wish to interfere unduly with the Business of the House; but he was most anxious that the Rules should be observed with a view to the regular progress of Business through the House, as it used to be formerly conducted. He, 1760 in common with a certain number of Members, had not the good fortune to be present during the short debates which had occurred upon the principle of the Bill. He, as the House knew, entertained what he considered a due deference for the House of Lords; but, at the same time, he thought it was asking the House too much to ask them to accept the principle of a Bill merely because it had passed the House of Lords. There had been protests from Scotchmen and Irishmen. Well, he was a Member representing a district in the centre of England. He was fully conscious, no one more so, of the enormous social importance of the Medical Profession. he believed there was no Profession which exorcised so important a social influence; and he, therefore, hoped the Government would allow the House, under the circumstances, to adjourn the debate, with a view to the full observance of their Rules, by securing to themselves an opportunity of questioning the principle of the Bill before being asked to go into Committee upon it.
§ MR. HARRINGTON
said, he hoped the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council would see that the demand for the postponement of the debate was not a very unreasonable one. On reflection, no doubt, the right hon. Gentleman would admit that, during the past few days, the Bill had made more progress than the Government had expected. There was a strong feeling, indeed, that the measure had been brought on unexpectedly, and to the surprise of the House. They all remembered that, according to the calculations of the majority of hon. Members in the House, a long debate was expected on the third reading of the Representation of the People Bill. That debate, however, suddenly fell through, and afforded the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council an opportunity to take up the discussion on this Bill. If the right hon. Gentleman would consider the temper in which he had been met by hon. Members on all sides of the House—hon. Members who wished to amend and improve the Bill — he would see that considerable change in the expressions of opinion, at any rate, had taken place since Thursday evening. On Thursday, all who took part in the discussion were anxious to further the Bill a stage, on the under- 1761 standing that due time would be given to amend it, and for consultation with the different Bodies in the country, who were deeply interested in the principles contained in the Bill. He (Mr. Harrington) was sure the right hon. Gentleman would admit himself when he came down to the House that evening he had no expectation that he would be able to advance the Bill one stage. It was not unreasonable, considering that they had had a fair discussion on Thursday, that hon. Members differing widely from the Government with regard to some of the details of the Bill should desire to have further time for consideration before the next stage was taken. Certainly there was no desire on the part of these Gentlemen, or on the part of those they represented, to obstruct or delay the progress of the Bill in any undue manner. Considering all these circumstances, and the peculiar position they were placed in that evening through having the Bill sprung upon them by surprise, he did not think the right hon. Gentleman would, on reflection, regard the demand now made for the adjournment of the debate an unreasonable one. Reference had been made to the absence of the hon. Member for Queen's County (Mr. A. O'Conner); and he must confess that until he (Mr. Harrington) had heard that hon. Gentleman's speech on Thursday, he had not given much attention to the principles of the Bill. It had struck him then, however, that the hon. Member had convinced the House that he would be able to give a very valuable contribution to the discussion of the Bill on the present stage. Taking into consideration the views which the hon. Member had put forward, and the spirit in which he had met the right hon. Gentleman, even if there were no other matter to be taken into account, the right hon. Gentleman might well see that there was good ground for an adjournment. An hon. Member like the Member for Queen's County, who showed that he had studied the principles of the Bill, and who showed that he was determined to contribute largely to the improvement of the measure in Committee, had a right to expect some consideration at the hands of the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill. It was not reasonable to press the present stage on that day.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 55; Noes 87: Majority 32.—(Div. List, No. 145.)
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ MR. BIGGAR
said, he thought he was now justified in moving the adjournment of the House. The old theory always was, that if there was a substantial minority in favour of adjournment the Government should give way. If the Government did not wish to deprive the House of the advantage of the half-past 12 Rule, they should not persist in taking the Committee stage of a Bill at that hour. At the same time, the minority had certain rights; and as no solid argument had been offered on the part of the majority, he thought he was justified in moving, as he now did, that the House do now adjourn.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That this House do now adjourn." — (Mr. Biggar.)
§ The House divided:—Ayes 45; Noes 86: Majority 41.—(Div. List, No. 146.)
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned." ——(Mr. Macartney.)
§ MR. MUNDELLA
assured the House that he had no desire to take any undue advantage. In asking that the Speaker should now leave the Chair, he was only asking what it was originally intended to ask. All he wished to obtain was the removal of the block against the Bill, and surely that was not an extravagant wish. Hon. Members on both sides of the House must admit that nothing could be more ample or exhaustive than the debate which took place on the second reading. In order to assure the House that he would not take them by surprise, he had already engaged that the Committee stage should not come on for at least a week, so that ample time would be given in which Amendments could be placed on the Paper. He would go further, and say that the Committee stage should not come on later than 11 o'clock at night, 1763 so that it should not be taken at the end of a late Sitting. He was persuaded he had done all he possibly could, and all he ought to do, to satisfy hon. Members. If the House would assent to the present Motion, he would immediately move to report Progress. He had already received a Scotch deputation in respect of the Bill, and to-morrow he was to receive a deputation of the constituents of the hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for Dublin County (Colonel King-Harman). He would take care that everybody interested in the Bill should receive proper consideration; but now that they had reached the 30th of June they could not go on wasting nights.
§ COLONEL KING-HARMAN
said, that the medical portion of his constituents would not be with the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Mundella) to-morrow. They wrote to him a few days ago to know when the Bill was likely to come on. He, of course, concluded that to-day, tomorrow, and probably Wednesday would be occupied by the debate on the Vote of Censure; therefore, he told his correspondents not to waste their time and abandon their professional pursuits by coming over to-morrow. Only that day he had received a letter from one of the medical gentlemen concerned, asking that he and his colleagues should have ample notice of the Bill being brought forward. How could he (Colonel King-Harman) give ample notice when the Bill was brought on so unexpectedly, and at such a time of night? The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Mundella) had said that there was an exhaustive discussion on the second reading. As a matter of fact, he (Colonel King-Harman) curtailed his remarks on the second reading, because he had no wish whatever to talk out the Bill; but he thought that the future stages would be taken at a reasonable time, and when everybody could be present. What was the state of the Front Opposition Bench? ["Hear, hear!"] Right hon. Gentlemen opposite cried "hear, hear!" It seemed to him that those right hon. Gentlemen knew very well that the proceedings that had taken place that day would cause the Opposition Benches to be empty. The cheers which had just been given were the best proof that some of the hon. Gentlemen opposite knew that the debate on the Vote of Censure would 1764 not go on. [Mr. WARTON: It was all arranged.] He would not go as far as the hon. and learned Gentleman; but he thought they had a right to complain of the way in which it had been attempted that night to hurry this and other Bills through the House.
§ DR. FARQUHARSON
said, he could not pretend to imitate the fire and fury of the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Colonel King-Harman.). All he wished to do was to appeal to the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Macartney) to withdraw his Motion and allow the Bill to proceed. The House had had fair and ample time for the discussion of the Bill. To adapt their business to the convenience of Members who did not happen to be present on certain occasions would be a rather curious attitude to assume. Such a proceeding would bring the work of the House to a speedy collapse. He was persuaded that the Medical Profession of the Three Kingdoms were satisfied with the discussion which had already taken place. ["No!"] He did not speak without special knowledge of the subject. The Medical Profession were looking forward with considerable interest to the Committee stage of the Bill; because they were aware that many Amendments would be proposed which would tend to improve the Bill and make it acceptable to them. He protested against the unreasonable attitude which had been taken up towards the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council, who had told them in the most straight-forward manner that he had not the slightest intention of taking the Bill at an unsuitable time; but that, on the contrary, his desire was to afford to hon. Members ample time to consult their constituents. He (Dr. Farquharson) hoped they would be permitted to carry the Bill up to the Committee stage that night.
§ MR. BIGGAR
said, it was rather unusual, for a Minister to expect to make progress with the 13th Order of the Day. Of course, it was very proper that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Mundella) should be as plausible as he could; but, at the same time, he should endeavour to act in a manner which would not outrage the intelligence of his hearers. Seeing that when the House met at 4 o'clock there was not the slightest probability of this Order being reached, the Government ought certainly to give way.
§ MR. R. N. FOWLER (LORD MAYOR)
thought the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Mundella) made a very fair offer, when he said he would not bring the Bill on after 11 o'clock at night. Considering that they had now reached the 1st of July, and that the Government had a great deal of business which must occupy considerable time in the transaction, the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman was very fair and reasonable. Under the circumstances, he (Mr. R. N. Fowler) suggested to his hon. Friend (Mr. Macartney) that he might well allow this stage of the Bill to be taken.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
called the attention of the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Macartney) to the fact that the right hon. Gentleman the Lord Mayor (Mr. R. N. Fowler), who invited him to withdraw his Motion for adjournment, was one of the Members who had given no support to any of the previous Motions for Adjournment. The right hon. Gentleman had voted consistently with the Government in favour of the policy of rushing this important Bill through the House at a time when no one could possibly expect it to come on. He would be curious to observe whether the same moderate temper would be displayed by the Lord Mayor when another important Government measure came before the House, especially if that measure should come on on a day on which it was not expected, and at an hour when it could not undergo anything like rational or proper consideration. With regard to what had been said by the hon. Gentleman (Dr. Farquharson), he would like to ask what means the hon. Member had of discovering that the Medical Profession in the country generally were of opinion that the Bill had been sufficiently discussed? He invited the attention of the hon. Gentleman to the fact that in all the Divisions in favour of adjourning the present stage of the Bill the Members who represented constituencies where doctors largely abounded had gone into the Lobby with the Members who were in favour of postponement. The Vice President of the Council had that night reached a climax he should not have expected the right hon. Gentleman to reach in reference to a Bill in progress. For what had he done? It was almost unprecedented to find a Minister resisting three Motions for Ad- 1766 journment, backed up by considerable minorities, especially when those minorities were made up of Members of all sections of the House, including several hon. Gentlemen representing Liberal constituencies, and who were consistent supporters of the Government in season and out of season. The right hon. Gentleman was treating the House with scant courtesy in pursuing this course. What did the right hon. Gentleman propose as a compromise? He promised not to bring on this Bill after 11 o'clock at night, and, in a moment of candour, he said what he wished to do was to get rid of this blocking system. Exactly; he wished to remove from this Bill the safeguard which was considered necessary by those who wished to see it properly managed, and to have their Amendments duly and adequately considered. He thought that statement of the right hon. Gentleman, and his attempt to ride rough-shod over two-thirds of the House, was a confession which ought to make Members persevere in seeing that this Bill was brought on after due Notice, and when those who wished to have it amended would be able to do so. He hoped the hon. Member would rise superior to even the blandishments of the Lord Mayor, and proceed to a Division.
§ MR. HARRINGTON
wished to put it to the right hon. Gentleman whether he thought he was improving the prospects of the Bill by this proceeding? Some hon. Members had displayed hostility to the Bill which, a few days ago, they were not inclined to display when the right hon. Gentleman took them into his confidence and was more conciliatory. There was another matter the right hon. Gentleman would do well to consider. He had to deal not only with Members who were now present, but with a large number who were absent that night, and who, when they found that the Bill had been taken in their absence, would be disposed to keep it a pretty long time under discussion. Considering the very calm manner in which this discussion proceeded a few evenings ago, and the desire that was shown on all sides to give it fair play, he thought it would be well for the right hon. Gentleman to consider whether he was advancing the interests of the Bill by this action. He had proclaimed it as his 1767 desire to remove the Bill beyond the control of those who wished to delay its fair discussion. He thought they were entitled to pin the right hon. Gentleman to that statement; but he believed that on reflection the right hon. Gentleman would see that that statement was by no means calculated to win the favour of Members who were now absent. The best attitude the right hon. Gentleman could assume with regard to the Bill, if he really wished to facilitate its progress, would be, not to spring a surprise of this kind upon Members who were now absent, but to give them a fair opportunity of consulting those who were deeply interested in the Bill. As the other stage of the Bill was taken at such a time that the discussion upon it was not reported, he thought the House was not making an unreasonable demand in asking the right hon. Gentleman not to press it now. What the right hon. Gentleman had said was all very well, and he had no doubt as to the bona fides of the right hon. Gentleman; but it was not unreasonable to ask that a week's consideration should be allowed before the Bill was again taken. The right hon. Gentleman would greatly facilitate the progress of the Bill, and disarm the opposition of hon. Members, by giving them that fair and free discussion.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 33; Noes 75: Majority 42.—(Div. List, No. 147.)
§ Original Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 78; Noes 29: Majority 49.—(Div. List, No. 148.)
§ Bill considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Monday next.