It may be convenient to the House that I should now say a few words as to the course of Business for next week. We hope to close the Committee on the Seats Bill tonight; but if that should not be the case, we propose to go on with that Bill on Monday. It will be my duty on Monday or Tuesday to lay the Vote of Credit on the Table; and probably it will be convenient to the House that in laying it on the Table I should make a short statement to enable the House to understand what the demand is and for what purpose the Vote is to be applied. I presume that no appreciable time will be occupied with the Vote of Credit on that occasion. We shall proceed on Monday with Supply, taking the Navy Estimates, provided that we finish the Committee on the Seats Bill. If the Committee on the Bill is not concluded to-night, then we shall go on with it on Monday. Then it will have to be considered whether the Seats Bill cannot be taken on Report on Tuesday. ["Oh!"] That, I say, is a matter for consideration, and in any case I do not think it need call forth any strong manifestation of emotion. On Thursday, of course, it is understood that, whatever may be the progress made with the Seats Bill, my 33 right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer will make his Financial Statement.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
The right hon. Gentleman has stated that the Vote of Credit will be taken on Monday or Tuesday. I would point out that, supposing the Seats Bill is not taken on Tuesday, the ordinary Rules of the House would give precedence to Notices of Motion, and the Vote of Credit could not come on until the Notices of Motion have been disposed of.
Yes; it could be presented and laid on the Table, accompanied by some such explanation as is necessary to make it intelligible to the House, but without entering into any argument.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
inquired whether, in the event of the Navy Estimates not being taken on Monday, they would be taken on Tuesday?
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
said, that of course the Parliamentary Elections (Redistribution) Bill must be reprinted before the Report stage, and there must be, at least, a day for putting down Amendments.
§ LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL
asked the Prime Minister whether the House was to understand that it would be competent for a Minister to make a statement on the Vote of Credit, but that it would not be competent for Members of the House to debate that statement?
said, it was a very common thing for Ministers, if it were required, to make an explanation for the convenience of the House in such cases. The statement would not, in the slightest degree, enter into argumentative matter, but would be confined to making the Vote intelligible.
§ LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL
asked the Speaker whether, when a Minister presented Papers to the House, and made a statement with reference to them, the Motion would not be made that the Papers lie on the Table?
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
said, that he proposed to take the first opportunity, but not that evening, of bringing on the second reading of the Telegraph Acts Amendment Bill at a reasonable hour.
§ MR. HEALY
said, he wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, with respect to his statement as to the course of Public Business, what facilities would be given by the Government for the Irish Registration Bill? There would be 700,000 new voters in Ireland who would be incapacitated from getting on the roll unless the Bill were passed. He also wished to know whether the Prime Minister was aware of what had taken place last night in the House, when an attempt had been made to bring on the Bill at 12 o'clock, and a number of Gentlemen, Privy Councillors and others, had wasted time in order to bring up the time to half-past 12 o'clook?
I cannot answer the contentious part of the Question of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Monaghan; but I think I had better confine myself to saying that I am not in a position at present to depart from the rule of doing one thing at a time; and I think it is best, as far as the Bill is concerned, for the interest of all parties and of legislation, that we should direct our attention steadily to the remaining important stages of the Parliamentary Elections (Redistribution) Bill. We deem it quite essential to proceed with the Irish Registration Bill, and we feel it to be our bounden duty to make provision at the earliest time we can for proceeding with it.
§ MR. HEALY
Then I give Notice that, in consequence of the way in which the Irish Party were treated last night, when the English Registration Bill comes down from Committee I shall block it.