Motion made, and Question proposed,
That all Petitions against the Bill, presented not less than three clear days before the sitting of the Committee, be referred to the Committee, and that swell of the Petitioners as pray to be heard by themselves, their Counsel, Agents, or Witnesses, be heard upon their Petitions, if they think fit, and Counsel heard in favour of the Bill against such Petitions." — (Mr. Halsey.)
§ THE ATTORNEY GENERAL (Sir HENRY JAMES)
said, it, was impossible for the Government to agree to the Motion. Where were the counsel to be heard in favour of the Bill against such Petitions" to come from? Who was to employ them? The Bill was one introduced for public reasons; those who supported it were Members of Parliament; and he must protest against Members being called on to argue against, it might be, scores and hundreds of counsel representing Petitioners. The Motion was one entirely without precedent.
§ MR. HALSEY
said, he would not press the Motion against the view of the 1115 hon, and learned Gentleman. He (Mr. Halsey) bad been asked to bring it forward in connection with a Petition he presented to the House a short time ago. If it was contrary to the general wish of the House, however, he would not press it.
§ Motion, by leave, Withdrawn.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed. "That the Committee do consist of Thirteen Members."—(Mr.: Waugh.)
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. George Howard be a Member of the said Committee."
§ SIR HERBERT MAXWELL
said, he had to object to the name which stood first on the list, not because of any doubts in his mind as to the capacity of the hon. Member to serve on the Committee, but simply because the name was the first on the list. Amongst the names proposed he did not find that of a single Scotch Member. True, there were no copyholds in Scotland; but that was no reason why there should not be a Scotch Member on the Committee. This was a Committee to deal with a public question, and however English that question was in its character, it was only right that Members of all sections should take part in the inquiry.
§ MR. BUCHANAN
said, he did not wish to oppose the appointment of the Members of the Committee, or to insist that Scotch Representatives should be put upon it; but he considered that a distinct omission had been made in nominating the Members. It might be said that Scotch Members would not be able to throw much light on the subject, as they did not possess copyholds in their country; but, no doubt, men like the hon. Member for Roxburghshire (Mr. A. Elliot), an English barrister, well versed in English law, would be able to do good service, particularly as the Bill was almost exclusively a Cumberland measure.
§ MR. SEXTON
said, the hon. Baronet (Sir Herbert Maxwell) and the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Buchanan) had done good service by calling attention to this question. Both those hon. Members had put forward very reasonable claims. This question of copyholds, though it concerned England more than 1116 any other part of the United Kingdom, was also a subject in which Members from Scotland and Ireland might be supposed to take an intelligent interest. The Committee, as proposed, consisted of 13 Members, 12 of whom were English and one Irish—the hon. Member for Monaghan (Mr. Healy). He would suggest that one of the English names should be struck out and a Scotch name substituted, or that the number of the Committee should be increased by the addition of a Scotch Member.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, there could be no objection to taking advantage of the desire of Scotch Members to serve on the Committee. As a rule, especially since the introduction of the Grand Committees, great difficulty had been experienced in manning ordinary Committees. They often heard Scotch Members say their desire was to have a separate Scotch Administration. [Sir HERBERT MAXWELL: No, no.] He knew that it was not the hon. Baronet's desire; but that, certainly, was the wish of many Scotch Members. There, however, could not be the smallest objection to putting on the Committee hon. Members for Scotland who desired to servo on it, and who were likely to have an interest in the subject to be considered and to understand it. It might be asked why Scotch Members desired to be on the Committee, seeing that they had no copyholds in Scotland, and the hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Buchanan) had no answer to give to the question; at any rate, he was reduced to speaking of the hon. Member for Roxburghshire, not as a Scotch Member, but as an English barrister. But if that hon. Member were present to-night in the capacity of an English barrister, one of the last things he would desire would be to have his time taken from him in the mornings when, under ordinary circumstances, he would be practising his profession; and the hon. Member for Edinburgh would not be likely to receive very warm thanks for his interposition. But if Scotch Members did desire to serve on the Committee, notwithstanding that they had no special, if, indeed, any, knowledge of the subject to be considered, he did not see that it was anyone's business to prevent them. If the hon. Baronet opposite (Sir Herbert Maxwell) was anxious to serve on I the Committee, and would get someone 1117 to propose him, the Government would accept his name; or, if the hon. Baronet opposite would propose the hon. Member for Edinburgh, and the hon. Member for Edinburgh would propose the hon. Baronet, both names would be accepted. In the meantime, he hoped hon. Members from Scotland would not carry their patriotism to the extent of excluding all English Members from the Committee and composing it exclusively of Scotchmen. He hoped the first name on the list would he now agreed to.
§ MR. WARTON
said, he sympathized with the hon. Baronet and the hon. Member for Edinburgh, and held that the adoption of the proposed names, almost entirely English, would be the adoption of the first principle of Home Rule, and there was no knowing how far it might not be carried.
§ SIR HERBERT MAXWELL
said, he should be most happy, after the right hon. Gentleman's recognition of his protest, to withdraw his objection to the first name. At the same time, he must say he had always thought that Members were appointed on Committees not only to give information, but also to acquire it.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
MR. ELTON, Mr. CHARLES JAMES, Mr. JAMKS W. LOWTHER, Mr. SOLICITOR GENERAL, Mr, GREGORY, Mr. MELLOR, Mr. PELL, Mr. CHEETHAM, Mr. COLLINS, Mr. WAUGH, Mr. HASTINGS, and Mr. HEALY, nominated other Members of the Committee:—Three to be the quorum.