§ MR. PARNELL
wished to ask, Whether there would be any objection to take the Registration of Voters (Ireland) Bill first to-morrow, on the understanding that on the Motion for the Speaker leaving the Chair on going into a fresh Committee the question of the payment of registration expenses should be raised by an Amendment, and that the result of the debate and division on that Amendment should be held to decide the question of the payment of such expenses with regard both to Ireland and England?
said, when he was informed yesterday that the question which had been decided on Tuesday by a small majority was about to be raised again in Committee on the Registration of Voters (England) Bill, he felt it necessary, especially in the absence of many Members of the Government, to reserve the matter for consideration. With re- 1866 gard to the course of Business, on reflecting on it, it appeared quite evident upon the face of it that when it was desired and intended to raise again a question which had been settled in a House of nearly 500 Members that that was rather what might be called a serious intention. It was an intention to challenge the House at large, and the Government were of opinion that there ought to be sufficient Notice to Members of the de-bare and division which would take place. That being so, the Government could not propose to take that debate to-morrow. The hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) has proposed that the Irish Bill should be taken first. There was no very great question of convenience in point of time as between the two Bills. Both were admitted to be urgent; but as the English question was much the larger, and was that upon which the House had already been called upon to give its opinion, the view of the Government was that they ought to proceed with the English Bill first. That was the appropriate method to give hon. Members the means of again raising the point. They had before them the Registration Bills, the Parliamentary Elections (Redistribution) Bill, and the arrangement made with regard to the Vote of Credit. What the Government proposed was this—that they should make an effort to finish what remained of the Parliamentary Elections (Redistribution) Bill to-morrow; and he thought —considering the importance of that question, and the relations of different portions of the House to one another with regard to it, and the general desire there was to close it without associating it with contested questions—what he hoped was that if it should be found that it could not be finished to-morrow, the House would not, for once, grudge meeting on Saturday for that purpose. There was no reason to suppose that there would be any large residue of Business after tomorrow. He sincerely hoped it would be finished to-morrow; but if a small residue were left, he gave Notice, without asking any pledge from the House, that the Government would think it their duty to propose that course. With regard to the Registration Bills, which were undoubtedly urgent, what the Government thought was that they should take those Registration Bills on Monday, 1867 if hon. Gentlemen opposite were disposed to allow the debate on the Vote of Credit, which had been fixed for that day, to stand over until Tuesday. He should, however, have no power to secure Tuesday for that purpose by any right of the Government; but he thought he could undertake to try it if the arrangement were agreeable to hon. Gentlemen oppposite. If, however, hon. Gentlemen opposite attached importance to keeping their hold on Monday for the Vote of Credit, the Government would take Tuesday for the Registration Bills.
asked whether, if the Parliamentary Elections (Redistribution') Bill was finished to-morrow or Saturday, the Prime Minister would on Monday make his promised Statement as to the legislation contemplated for the remainder of the Session?
said, the pressure upon the Government had been so great that he was not certain that he could make that Statement fully; but he would make a Statement sufficient for the convenience of the House, and consider what might remain. If the Business proceeded as was expected, he should make the whole announcement in the course of next week.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
said, it had been thought convenient to have the question on the Registration Bills decided before the end of the week; but if the right hon. Gentleman thought the other course more convenient, the Opposition were, he believed, disposed to take the arrangement he proposed. But what was more important than the question of redistribution, or registration, or anything else, was that they should have, as early as possible, a fair opportunity of hearing, and as soon as possible afterwards of discussing, the statement promised by the Secretary of State for War, because they felt it was becoming urgent—namely, an explanation of the policy of Her Majesty's Government with regard to the Soudan. He should be extremely sorry to consent to any arrangement for putting off the debate on Monday, which would deprive them of that opportunity. Were they to understand that in the event of the Parliamentary Elections (Redistribution) Bill being finished this week and the Registration Bill put down for Monday, that the latter would be preceded by a state- 1868 ment of the character they had reason to expect from the noble Marquess the Secretary of State for War?
said, his noble Friend had given the engagement with respect to Monday with every disposition to keep it; and he hoped his noble Friend would be in a position to keep it in the letter and the spirit. But it was really in the discretion of hon. Gentlemen opposite to determine what the course of Business should be on Monday and Tuesday as between the Registration Bills and the debate on the Vote of Credit. What he thought would be an inconvenient arrangement would be that they should nominally fix the Registration Bills for Monday, and then spend it on a debate on the statement of his noble Friend.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
thought that the arrangement proposed by the right hon. Gentleman would be satisfactory. They understood that they were to have the statement of the noble Marquess on Monday, and that the right hon. Gentleman would undertake to get Tuesday for the discussion of the Vote of Credit. [Mr. GLADSTONE: Yes.] There seemed to be some misunderstanding, if they had the statement of the noble Marquess on Monday, whether they would not run the risk of losing the opportunity of discussing the Registration Bill.
replied that the Government had the arrangement of the Orders, and, that being so, they could provide against that.
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS - BEACH
asked the right hon. Gentleman whether, as the matter in controversy was raised first on the Registration of Voters (Ireland) Bill, and as it was proposed by the Government to insert a clause in that Bill which they did not propose to insert in the Registration of Voters (England) Bill, it would not be more convenient that the question should be discussed on the Irish rather than on the English Bill? Gentlemen on his side had no desire to raise the same question twice, and they would be content to take the vote of the House on the Registration of Voters (Ireland) Bill.
said, that as the House, with a very large attendance and upon good Notice, had previously decided the point in reference to the English Bill, he hoped that they would proceed on that footing.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, that Members in. his part of the House did not understand how any assurance could be given that there would be no debate upon the statement of the noble Marquess the Secretary of State for War on Monday, even if right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite raised none.
said, that if he might be allowed to state his opinion, the best and the clearest course would be if his noble Friend made his statement on Tuesday.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, he hoped that favourable consideration would be given to the suggestion that the noble Marquess would make his statement to-morrow.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
said, he could not give an undertaking to the House, because the communications that were going on might not be complete. He might not be able to give a full statement to-morrow.
§ MR. PARNELL
put it to the Prime Minister whether it would be fair to allow the question as to registration expenses to be decided, and the discussion taken on the Irish Bill, in view of the fact that, practically, there had been no debate on the merits of the question so far as the Irish Bill was concerned. When the question was raised and decided the other night, it was done in a very thin House, and almost without debate.
said, that the argument of the case, as he was at present advised, was quite the opposite to that indicated by the hon. Member.