HC Deb 03 June 1886 vol 306 cc981-5

Further Proceeding on Consideration, as amended, resumed.

MR. CHANCE (Kilkenny, S.)

I regret it is my duty at such a late hour—or, rather, at such an early hour (3.30 A.M.)—to ask the House to proceed with the consideration of this Bill. I think the course that has been taken was not quite unexpected by hon. Gentlemen who sit below the Gangway on this side of the House. This Order would have been reached an hour ago but for the plainly obstructive tactics of hon. Gentlemen above the Gangway. I do not wish to imitate their tactics there; I merely content myself with moving the following clause as to the First Schedule:— The First Schedule to the principal Act is hereby repealed, and the Schedule to this Act substituted therefor.

A Clause (Revised Schedule of returning officers' charges,)—(Mr. Chance,)—brought up, and read the first time.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the said Clause be now read a second time."


I have never before been charged in this House with anything like obstruction, and I am quite sure there is no hon. Gentleman who sat with me in the House years ago who can contradict me. I would, however, ask the House whether it is at all consistent with its usual practice to approach the consideration of such questions as are down on the Notice Paper at this hour of the morning? I shall have to put it to you, Sir, when we come to some of the Amendments on the Paper, whether it is competent at this stage of the Bill to widen the scope of the measure in the manner proposed? There are Amendments coming on of a perfectly novel character—I am not going to discuss them—but I maintain that, consistently with our usual practice, it is improper for us at this stage to add clauses foreign to the objects of the Bill. I say it is impossible for us to consider the Bill at all at this time in the morning. The state of the Front Benches shows that it has not been contemplated that this Bill would be gone on with. The Amendments are important and novel, and have only been presented to-day. Up to 2 o'clock this morning I had no idea that this Bill was to be brought on. It must have taken hon. Members entirely by surprise. I bog to move the adjournment of the debate.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Sir James Fergusson.)

MR. T. M. HEALY (Londonderry, S.)

I trust hon. Gentlemen will approach this question with unprejudiced minds. It is very late—it will not be unnatural if some hon. Members think it too late to go on with these Amendments—but I would point out that the first Amendment which has been moved by the hon. Gentleman the Member for South Kilkenny is one which has been on the Paper several days. It is only fair to deal with the Amendments as they come up. If the right hon. Baronet objects to some of them, he can object at a later stage, and can then move the adjournment of the debate. The first Amendment merely asserts the principle that the Revising Officers' charges require to be amended. If hon. Gentlemen are opposed to subsequent new clauses, such as that throwing the expenses on the rates, they can offer opposition to them when the proper time arrives, but that is no reason why we should not dispose of this Amendment now before us. I do trust that we shall be allowed to dispose of this matter. The passing of this clause will not commit the House to the Schedule down in the name of my hon. Friend. It will, as I say, only assert the principle that it is desirable to revise the Schedule of the principal Act. I trust, therefore, that the opposition will not be continued.

MR. PLUNKET (Dublin University)

I think there is a great deal in what the hon. and learned Gentleman who has just sat down has said as to the first Amendment which stands in the name of the hon. Gentleman the Member for South Kilkenny (Mr. Chance]. Though I concur in what has fallen from the right hon. Baronet behind me as to the possibility of our going on with subsequent Amendments, I think that so far as this particular proposal is concerned we might go on with it. I should not advise my right hon. Friend to press his Motion for the adjournment of the debate on this particular clause. On the next clause, if he makes a similar proposal, I shall certainly support him and appeal to the Government to support him also.


If the hon. and learned Gentleman in charge of the Bill (Mr. T. M. Healy) will agree to report Progress after this Amendment, I will withdraw my Motion.

MR. CHANCE (Kilkenny, S.)

The question of reporting Progress must be wholly in the hands of the House.


Does the right hon. Baronet withdraw the Motion?


If the hon. and learned Member will not give the promise I ask for, I must persist in my Motion.

MR. T. M. HEALY (Londonderry, S.)

With the indulgence of the House, I may say that after this first Amendment is disposed of I will not ask the House to inflict upon itself a longer Sitting. Of course, the question of reporting is one for the feeling of the House.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Original Question put, and agreed to.

Clause read a second time, and added to the Bill.

MR. MARK STEWART (Kirkcudbright)

I wish to make one remark. When I moved that Progress be reported on another Bill, two hours ago, I did not know that this Bill was coming on; therefore, the insinuations cast on us from those Benches were not deserved. I beg to move that the House do now adjourn.

Motion made, and Question proposed) "That this House do now adjourn."—(Mr. Mark Stewart.)

MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)

I really do not see why we should adjourn. This new Parliament has got into the very bad habit of wishing to go home early. It seems to me that we frequently sit as late as this. The clause I have to move is of some importance. Hon. Gentlemen have remained here until now in order to express their opinions, or vote on the clause; therefore, I certainly shall oppose the Motion for the adjournment of the House.

MR. PLUNKET (Dublin University)

I venture now to appeal to the Government on this question. This Notice Paper has only been circulated this morning. It bears date "Thursday, 3rd June" and it professes to contain new clauses to this Bill. But really the clauses it contains—and I am not going to discuss them on this Motion for Adjournment—have nothing to do with the Bill. They are not of little importance, they are of extreme importance. Each one of these clauses is a Bill in itself, and I do not think that even the hon. Gentlemen who propose them can seriously urge us to discuss them at the present time. No decision arrived at under such circumstances could be of the least value; and I would further point out that every decision, no matter how arrived at, must be final, because this is the last stage of the Bill at which an Amendment can be moved. It is not as if we were in Committee, when anything we do can be revised on Report. I do not know whether it is of use to appeal to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) not to resist the Motion for Adjournment; but I would, at any rate, appeal to the Government in the present state of the House not to allow the Sitting to be further extended.


I understood the hon. and learned Member opposite (Mr. Healy) to express the opinion, in which his Friends about him were agreed, that it would be reasonable to adjourn the debate after the passing of the last clause. ["No, no!"] Well, I understood that. I confess it does appear to me that no good purpose would be served by the House endeavouring to go on with the Bill. It is quite true that we have a considerable number of Members present, and it is also true that a considerable proportion of those Members are in favour of the further discussion of this Bill; but, on the other hand, I would ask hon. Members whether persistence in the attempt to make further progress can result in anything but a succession of divisions on Motions for Adjournment, and whether it is not practically impossible to make further progress with the Bill to-night? I think I may say that if I had the entire responsibility of representing the Government, I should not be ready to advise the House, or any portion of it, at this moment to enter upon this controversy which can, it seems to me, only end in one way, and which may prejudice discussion on a future occasion. I do not think I should have been able to take this view as strongly as I do had it not been for, as I venture to think, the very reasonable remarks of the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for South Londonderry (Mr. Healy). After the remarks of the hon. and learned Gentleman, and the evidence we have had that they indicated the sense of the House, I think it is impossible to resist the Motion made.

MR. T. M. HEALY (Londonderry, S.)

Perhaps I may be allowed to say a word, as the 1st clause was passed on the faith of an understanding with me to the effect that no further Amendment would be taken. I thank hon. Friends on the opposite side for having sat up so long, and, as I carried a point on the understanding referred to, I shall have to vote for the adjournment.

Question put, and agreed to.

House adjourned at a quarter before Four o'clock in the morning.