HC Deb 21 March 1884 vol 286 cc498-501

Order for Committee read.

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


said, that he could not help expressing surprise at the course which had been taken with regard to this measure by the Chief Secretary for Ireland, who had not uttered one word with regard to the objects to be attained by it. The Bill simply pro- posed to transfer the powers of dealing with the registration of voters in the County of Dublin from the Recorder, who now discharged those powers, to some other person who was to be a barrister of 10 years' standing. So far as he had heard, there had not been the smallest objection taken to the fairness and efficiency with which these duties were at present discharged by his old friend the Recorder of Dublin. ["Oh!"] he would ask was there any allegation that sufficient time had not been given by the Recorder, or that he had ever shown any partiality? If there were any such grounds as those, why did not the Chief Secretary state them to the House? He could understand the Bill if it had been brought forward by hon. Members below the Gangway. The hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton) had said it was a Bill to enable voters to exercise their rights by being placed on the Register. If it could be shown that voters had been deprived of their rights, and that the appointment of this officer would give them their rights, he (Mr. Plunket) might be prepared to entertain the Bill; but, as a matter of fact, the second reading was carried by a remarkable stratagem. The hon. Member for Cavan (Mr. Biggar), acting as a decoy, had blocked the Bill, and other hon. Members who were real opponents of the Bill were deluded to withdraw their "blocks," and then the hon. Member for Cavan (Mr. Biggar), having silently taken off his Notice of opposition, the previous stages were got through without an opportunity for debate. Under those circumstances they ought to have some explanation of a Bill which created a fresh charge and proposed a new office; and with the view to enabling the Government fully to give that explanation, and the hon. Member for Cavan an opportunity of stating his objections to the Bill, he would move the adjournment of the debate.


seconded the Motion. He read in the morning papers that the Orders had been changed since last night; and they now found that by some extraordinary hocus-pocus, some legerdemain shifting of the cards, this Bill had taken precedence of the Hours of Polling Bill. Why was not the Solicitor General for Ireland present to give the reason which led to the bringing forward of this Bill? He did not believe this Bill was brought for- ward owing to any want being felt for the appointment of another officer for the County Dublin.


rose to Order, and asked whether the hon. and gallant Member was in Order in discussing the merits of the Bill?


said, the hon. and gallant Member must confine himself to the Question of Adjournment.


, speaking to the Question of Adjournment, said, they could hardly be expected to discuss the merits of a Bill at that late hour (half-past 6), especially as no one had given them the least explanation of what the Bill was or intended to do.

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


said, that the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Dublin University (Mr. Plunket) had spoken for some minutes in support of a complaint that no explanation had been given of the reasons for this Bill being placed among the Orders of the Day, and had concluded with a Motion which prevented those reasons being given.


There was not time.


said, if he had been allowed the time occupied by the right hon. and learned Gentleman, he should have been able to amply satisfy the House as to the reason for the course adopted by the Government with regard to this Bill. In reply to the hon. and gallant Member for the County of Dublin (Colonel King-Harman), he might say that Notice of the Bill was given on the previous evening.


I quote from the newspapers, Sir. ["Order, order!"]


said, it was preposterous to continue the discussion on the Bill at that time of the evening. It was idle to suppose that the Chief Secretary could possibly condense the explanation demanded into the brief space of 10 minutes, and he hoped the Government would not put the House to the trouble of a Division.


, in supporting the Motion for Adjournment, objected, as an independent Member, to the practice which, he said, had recently grown of pressing Bills through Parliament without such explanation of their provisions as the House had a right to expect. Without such an explanation from those in charge of a Bill, it was impossible for Members of that House to form any sound opinion on the merits or demerits of the measure. Unless, therefore, an explanation was made he should object to further progress.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 67; Noes 127: Majority 60.—(Div. List, No. 49.)

It being ten minutes before Seven of the clock, the Debate stood adjourned till To-morrow.

The House suspended its Sitting at five minutes to Seven of the clock.

The House resumed its Sitting at Nine of the clock.