HC Deb 24 October 1884 vol 293 cc161-2

I should like to be permitted to ask the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether he can give any assistance or advice to private Members who on the previous day gave Notice of the introduction of Bills? We are in considerable doubt as to whether we should fix a Wednesday on this side of Christmas or not. If the Prime Minister can give us any assistance or advice in the circumstances, it will be very gratefully accepted.


What I venture to recommend to the hon. Gentleman would be a postponement of the Question—I hope a short postponement—until the Government can in some degree see their way in regard to the stages of the Representation of the People Bill. I may say that I believe it is pretty well understood by the House that we propose, for the convenience of the House—in pursuance of what we take to be the convenience of the House and the intentions expressed in the Speech from the Throne—we propose to ask the House to consider that Bill from day to day. I hope to obtain leave to introduce that Bill to-night. I do not know absolutely whether the debate on the Address is likely to terminate to-night, or terminate, as some think, on Monday; but I think it right to take this opportunity of stating that, although I may put down the second reading of the Bill for Monday, in order to be prepared for the case of having Monday as a vacant day, yet I should not think of moving the second reading of the Bill on Monday unless it came on at a very early hour, because there is the Report of the Address, which may be more than a merely formal proceeding.


I wish to ask the First Lord of the Treasury, whether he intends, in introducing the Representation of the People Bill to-night, to make to the House any general explanatory statement; and, having regard to the possibility of discussion arising, whether he will name any hour after which he would not propose to introduce the Bill?


No, Sir; I will not say that I will introduce the Bill absolutely without a word; but certainly I do not think that more than two minutes would be occupied in anything I have to say. I wish to inform the House that, from communications I have received from the authorities of the House, I believe the state of Public Business will allow, and that it would be advisable, to commence Public Business at a quarter past 4 o'clock.


I wish to ask the Prime Minister, whether he will undertake, after the Papers referred to in the Speech are in the possession of Members of the House, an opportunity will be given to the House for discussing the affairs of South Africa?


I think, Sir, it is most proper that there should be some such opportunity; but I do not know exactly when the Papers will be in the hands of the Members of the House. I do not understand the hon. and learned Member to say immediately, but within a reasonable time; and I hope to be able to make an arrangement to that effect.