§ Standing Order No. 20, appointing the Committee of Supply, to be the First Order on Friday, read.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. E. GLADSTONE) (Edinburgh, Mid Lothian)
Yesterday I understood that the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) wished to know what we proposed to do with regard to the debate on the scheme which has been recently laid before the House. I understand that that debate will not be closed to-night, and therefore I propose that we should take it on Monday, with the hope that it may be brought to a close on that evening. If it were not, some inconvenience to the House might possibly result. Then the question arises—What is to be done with the Budget? If it were brought forward on Thursday it would cause the postponement of the statement as to the Irish Land Question, which nobody would desire. I understand that the hon. Member for Birmingham, who has given Notice of an important Motion for Tuesday in connection with free education and voluntary schools—a Motion the discussion of which would occupy the night—is not unwilling that it should stand over. That being so, if he would give up the night of which he is virtually in possession, I do not think that other Members who stand behind him on the Paper would insist on their right, as they would have no chance of coming on if the hon. Member for Birmingham were to proceed with his Motion. We think, therefore, that it would be for the convenience of the House if the Chancellor of the Exchequer should propose the Budget on Tuesday, and in that way we should be able to go on with the statement with regard to the land on Thursday. I do not think that statement would lead to a very lengthened debate, as far as I can judge. If so, the debate should be resumed after the Easter Recess. Great forbearance has been shown by hon. Gentlemen as to asking Questions about the adjournment over the Recess; but that does not imply that they are indifferent on the subject. When we consider the time we have already sat, and the early day when Parliament was 1180 summoned and most Members were brought to town, we think there should be a full measure of Easter holidays, according to the practice of the House. One small economy in favour of the holidays we should be disposed to make, if it should be agreeable to the House. The practice has been to sit on Monday in Passion Week, and that we should be disposed to do; it may be necessary. But it has also been the practice to have a Morning Sitting on Tuesday, and to make that Morning Sitting a sort of repetition of Friday's Business by a Motion at the commencement of the Sitting that the House at its rising do adjourn to a certain day, which has the effect of devoting the Sitting to a miscellaneous class of subjects. In these circumstances, the House might not be indisposed to agree to adjourn from that Monday, and the proposal would be to adjourn from that Monday to the Monday following Easter Monday.
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH (Bristol, W.)
I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman can tell us; but, suppose the debate on the Land Purchase Bill be concluded on Thursday, what further Business will then be taken before the Recess?
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
The Business we are most anxious about is, undoubtedly, the Crofters Bill and that which is immediately pending, apart from these questions relating to Ireland. The three questions which would come before us are the Crofters Bill, Supply, and the Railway Rates Bill. I do not think that anything else is likely to be taken; but I could not very well speak positively until next Monday.
§ MR. MITCHELL HENRY (Glasgow, Blackfriars)
said, he had a Motion down for Tuesday relating to the inadequate accommodation of the House. He would be quite willing to postpone that Motion, and, indeed, to remove it from the Paper altogether, if the Prime Minister would assent to what he believed to be the almost universal sentiment of the House, and grant a Committee to consider the question of the accommodation of Members. He was perfectly willing that the Government should nominate the Committee, having no desire to do more than to carry out the wishes, so far as he could, of a numerous body of Members who were constantly inconvenienced by the inadequacy of the present arrangements.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I am obliged to the hon. Gentleman for the statement he has made, and if I had been aware that the point would arise to-night, I would certainly have put myself in a position to give a positive answer; but I am not in a position at this moment to do so, in consequence of not being aware the point would be raised. I will conider the question carefully, and shall be ready to give him an answer on Monday.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the said Standing Order be suspended."—(Mr. W. E. Gladstone.)
§ MR. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)
said, he had the first Motion on the Paper for that day, which related to the Income Tax; but, under the circumstances, he did not intend to proceed with it then. He, however, desired to suggest that the Government might facilitate inquiry by appointing a Committee to consider the subject.
§ Motion agreed to.