HC Deb 10 June 1886 vol 306 cc1307-22

Sir, there was an omission of so remarkable a character from the statement of the right hon. Gentleman that I am anxious to address some observations to the House upon it. And as these observations may give rise to debate, I think I may as well take the ordinary course of asking the leave of the House to move the adjournment of the House in order to call attention to a definite subject of urgent public importance—namely, the statement of the First Lord of the Treasury as to the course proposed by Her Majesty's Government in consequence of the vote of the House on Monday last.


The right hon. Gentleman proposes to ask the leave of the House to move the adjournment of the House, in order to call attention to a definite subject of urgent public importance—namely, the statement of the First Lord of the Treasury as to the course proposed by Her Majesty's Goverment in consequence of the vote of the House on Monday last. The Question I have to put is that the leave of the House be so given.

The pleasure of the House not having been signified,


called on those Members of the House who supported the Motion to rise in their places, and not less than 40 Members having accordingly risen in their places:—


I call upon Sir Michael Hicks-Beach.


Sir, I am rather surprised that any hon. Member should have thought it necessary to object to grant me leave for this purpose. But, perhaps, it was to some extent my own fault for not having previously explained that the observations I desire to address to the House are rather in the nature of an inquiry than of a controversial character. The right hon. Gentleman has informed the House of the advice which, on their responsibility, Her Majesty's Ministers have addressed to the Queen. That, Sir, I do not propose to discuss, even it were right to do so. The responsibility rests with them; and I will merely say that we, at any rate, do not shrink from the appeal to the country which the right hon. Gentleman proposes to make. But, Sir, having given that advice, it is perfectly clear, I think, that, in the first place, it should be acted upon without unnecessary delay. I understand from the statement of the right hon. Gentleman that, so far as Her Majesty's Government are concerned, no action on their part will be spared to effect that object. But the right hon. Gentleman did not state the exact date on which he anticipated that Parliament will be dissolved, and possibly he may be able to supplement his statement on that point. With regard to legislation, Sir, of course, I imagine it will be universally admitted that in a Parliament whose days are numbered nothing like opposed legislation could be properly dealt with, and the only Bill of importance, so far as I understand the statement of the right hon. Gentleman, which Her Majesty's Government intend to ask the House to prosecute is the Medical Acts Amendment Bill. I am not prepared at the present moment to say how far that may be considered to be of a controversial character or not; but I understand, at least, the right hon. Gentleman fully admits this, that if it be controversial, or any other Bill on the Paper be controversial, those Bills will not be attempted to be prosecuted by Her Majesty's Government. We are asked to give to the Government certain necessary Votes in the Army, Navy, and Education Estimates, and also a Vote on Account for the Miscellaneous Services, which will place the Government in funds up to October 31st next. Now, I wish to draw the attention of the House to the precedents in this matter. I have no fault whatever to find with the proposal that Votes of this nature should be passed, and that a Vote on Account should be given so far as may be necessary for the Public Service during the time required, in order to bring about, in the first place, a Dissolution of Parliament, and, secondly, the election of a new Parliament. But, Sir, when we are asked to pass a Vote on Account for a period ex- tending very far beyond that necessity, I think a question arises which deserves the very grave consideration of the House of Commons. Now, when Lord Melbourne's Government was defeated in the House of Commons in 1841 by a majority of one only, instead of 30, the Ministers of the day advised Her Majesty to dissolve. Lord John Russell, who represented that Government in this House, informed the House of Commons that it was the intention of the Government, in giving that advice to the Queen, to ask the House for a Vote on Account for six months from April the 1st, sufficient to supply the immediate wants of the Budget and prevent inconvenience to individuals and to the Public Offices. The Vote having been given early in June—the 7th of June, I think—that practically was a Vote on Account only for four months. Now, what was Sir Robert Peel's reply? Sir Robert Peel said—and I wish specially to ask the attention of the House to his words, because all will admit his high authority, including, I am sure, the right hon. Gentleman himself—Sir Robert Peel said— His opinion was simply this, that, leaving the responsibility exclusively with the Advisers of the Crown—if they were determined to assume that responsibility, and to advise the exercise of the unquestioned prerogative of dissolving the Parliament, that responsibility ought to be assumed, and that prerogative ought to be exercised, with the least possible delay."—(3 Hansard, [58] 1269.) He dwelt on the reasons for the second most important requirement—the necessity for quieting the public mind, which, surely, if it existed then, exists to the full now, when, as we know, the urgent and imperative necessity of restoring social order in Ireland has induced Her Majesty's Government to adopt a great policy, which has been rejected by the House of Commons, and when we have evidences—I am sorry to say very painful evidences—of the embittered state of feeling in the country, and know the risks that it is running from the utter absence of security and certainty as to the future, until the day arrives when not only the result of the General Election is known, but also the policy of the Government that may be maintained by the House in power after that Election. Well, Sir, I have quoted the opinion expressed by Sir Robert Peel. Sir Robert Peel stated that he had no desire whatever, as I have no desire, to interfere with or decline anything necessary for the proper conduct of the Public Service. But he went on to ask this most important question. He asked Lord John Russell "to declare his intention that the new Parliament should be called together with the least possible delay after the elections were over." He stated—I quote his words— According to all analogy, and according to precedent under all former circumstances, when Parliaments had been so dissolved, the succeeding Parliament had been at once summoned. The noble Lord (Lord John Russell) would, no doubt, recollect that in the year 1784, after Mr. Pitt dissolved the Parliament, as short an interval as possible was permitted to elapse before the succeeding Parliament was summoned. In 1807, after the Parliament of the day was dissolved, the succeeding Parliament was also called as soon possible, and in 1831. … the Dissolution was immediate, and the convocation of a new Parliament was also immediate."—(Ibid. 1271.) He went on to say— These were the three instances most analogous to the present in which that course was pursued. He thought, therefore, the House had a fair right to expect from Her Majesty's Ministers that the new Parliament, if a new Parliament was to be called, should be assembled at as early a period as possible."—(Ibid.) Sir Robert Peel added— If the noble Lord should think it consistent with his duty to make, on the part of Her Majesty's Government, a public declaration that that was the advice which would be given by Her Majesty's servants to the Crown, he would say that a declaration of that description from the noble Lord would be satisfactory to him."—(Ibid.) He went on to say— The noble Lord would find there was no Constitutional objection to his making such a declaration; because.… in 1807 the Crown distinctly notified to the Parliament that was about to be dissolved that its successor would be immediately called.…. In 1820, on the demise of King George III., the same course was pursued.… and in 1831, the last instance.… in the Speech from the Throne, it was announced in these terms—'I have observed with satisfaction your desire to introduce strict economy into every branch of the Public Service. I trust the efforts of the new Parliament, which I shall forthwith direct to be called, will be applied to the prosecution of the same object.'"—(Ibid. 1272.) Sir Robert Peel concluded thus— He hoped he had now shown first, that on four occasions—namely, on the occasion of 1784, and on the occasions of 1807, of 1820, and of 1831, the Crown did not object formally to notify to the Parliament, then sitting, that its successor would be immediately assembled."—(Ibid.) Therefore, Sir, he pressed Lord John Russell as to his intentions in this matter; and immediately he had sat down, Lord John Russell rose, and said— I cannot have any hesitation in saying that the advice which we shall give to the Crown will be that no time should be lost in dissolving the present Parliament and in summoning a new one."—(Ibid. 1274.) Now, Sir, that is the question, which I address to the right hon. Gentleman. Will he give us the pledge that was asked for, on the reasons I have quoted, by Sir Robert Peel in 1841, which was supported by him, with all his Constitutional authority, by arguments which I do not believe can possibly be refuted, which applies, to my mind, more strongly now than then, and which I will venture to say is a pledge that ought to be insisted upon by the House of Commons? Sir Robert Peel, immediately on receiving the reply, which I have quoted, from Lord John Russell, accepted it as satisfying him fully in the matter. The application of the Government of the day for a Vote on Account was complied with, and Parliament was summoned to meet on August the 19th, the events I have related having taken place early in June. Well, Sir, that pledge would perfectly satisfy me now. Some people may say that the House of Commons has no right to vote sufficient sums on account to make the Government of the day, who are obliged to appeal from the verdict of the House of Commons to the country, independent of Parliament. But I am quite content, if the right hon. Gentleman will give the pledge I have quoted—I am quite content to accept that as fully satisfying anything I desire to ask. But I am bound to say that I think nothing less than that ought to satisfy us; and for myself, and I believe for my Friends near me, I fully adopt and endorse the statement of Sir Robert Peel, that if Lord John Russell could not give the pledges asked for, he (Sir Robert Peel) Could not be a party to a vote which would imply an opinion on his part that the Parliament might be dissolved, and its successor not be immediately assembled."—(Ibid. 1273.) Sir, I think I have kept my promise to the House that what I would say would be in the nature rather of a friendly inquiry than of a controversial charac- ter. I cannot but believe that the right hon. Gentleman, having before him the precedents I have quoted, seeing the grave Constitutional objections which exist to any other course, will comply with my request, and that we shall be informed not only that the Dissolution will take place at as early a date as possible, but also that the new Parliament will be summoned together without any delay in order that it may be able to pronounce an opinion on the conduct of the Government which sits on that Bench. I beg to move that the House do now adjourn.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—(Sir Michael Hicks-Beach.)


Mr. Speaker, the right hon. Gentleman has asked me whether I can give distinct information to the House with regard to the date of the Dissolution of Parliament? I cannot give any positive information to the House, because there is a portion of the proceedings necessary to bring about a Dissolution requiring the intervention of the other branches of the Legislature, and which is not so much within our control as we hope the proceedings to be taken in this House will usually be found to be. Still, I can say to the right hon. Gentleman that I hope, undoubtedly, that the Dissolution may take place before the close of the month, and that if we are fortunate in the steps we are about to take, it may be effected within the week that ends, I think, upon Saturday, the 26th. The next Question of the right hon. Gentleman is in respect to the Bills now before the House. Let me say, in the first place, that I have not deemed it any part of my duty to make any intimation on the part of the Government with respect to Bills not under our control. But that must be by the mode of persuasion, and not by the direct method of proceeding which may be exercised in regard to our own Bills. With regard to our own Bills, I said I was not in a position to give a pledge; but with regard to two of them, I could give an intimation of our intention on account of their importance, and that our rule would be not to prosecute legislation that is generally held and understood to be of a controversial character—what we call contested legislation. But now I do not want to put myself exactly in this position—that because some Gentleman rises in his place and says he objects to a Bill, that Bill is thereupon and thereby to be put down as a contested Bill. I think there is among us a sufficient amount of understanding as to what is meant by contested legislation to exempt me from all unnecessary or serious danger in laying down that general rule, and the particular application of it. I think I may say that possibly, as to some Bills, to-day, but certainly not later than to-morrow, we shall be able to give pretty definite answers. We have gone over the list of Government Bills, and I do not think there will be much difficulty in the matter. The right hon. Gentleman put a question of considerable interest and importance. He commenced by intimating that he had been taken by surprise that I had not made an intimation on the subject of the date when the new Parliament will be called together. Now, Sir, I am very reluctant indeed to say at the outset, although I intend to comment fairly on what the right hon. Gentleman has said—I am very reluctant to make this a subject of contest between the two sides of the House. I think it would not be expedient; and I should greatly desire to take some course, upon consideration, which would obviate any risk of that kind. But I must say that the statement of the right hon. Gentleman by no means exhausts the case. It is a matter of course that one vital element is the period of the Session at which Dissolution takes place. The right hon. Gentleman has quoted, for example, the Dissolution advised by Lord Grey in the year 1831. Yes, Sir; but that Dissolution occurred at the very commencement of the Session; and it was a matter of course that Parliament should be convened at once to resume its ordinary labours in the consideration of Public Business. The right hon. Gentleman did not mention the precise date in 1817, nor do I recollect the date in 1821; but it was not at a late period; still it was a somewhat advanced period. But this I wish to point out to the right hon. Gentleman. He has stated with perfect accuracy what took place in 1841. But I am not prepared to admit that this is a parallel case. That was not a case where the Government, upon its own independent action, found it necessary upon a great question of policy to appeal from the House to the country. That was a case where the House had taken the matter into its own hands, and lad pronounced sentence of condemnation upon the Government. [A laugh.] Well, Sir, from that part and quarter of the House the standard of knowledge and the regard for history are of a character that I would rather not take any notice of; and I pass by what is intimated or suggested in that peculiar latitude. This is the fact—that after a long and arduous series of conflicts, with gradually diminishing majorities on the part of the Liberal Government of the day, in 1841 a Resolution was moved by Sir Robert Peel to the effect that the Government ought to quit Office. But the House of Commons, as I have said, took the matter into its own hands, and the Government had no option at all in the case. The case where the Government appeals to the country from the House of Commons is a totally different case, and I am not ready to admit that the same considerations apply to it. I believe I am correct in saying, and here again I beg that no inference may be drawn from what I am about to state, because I do not wish, if it can be avoided, that this matter should become a contest between the two sides of the House—I believe I am correct in stating that in no case since the Dissolution of 1841 has any Government been dismissed, in the first place, by a Vote of Confidence. I believe I am also correct in saying that at no Dissolution since that year has the Government been called upon before the Dissolution to make a declaration with regard to the immediate calling together of Parliament after the Election. There are two cases which I may mention, and which the noble Lord who sits opposite (Lord John Manners) will recollect, seeing that the noble Lord was himself a party to the advising of a Dissolution. I am aware that in 1859 there was a pledge given by the Government which advised the Dissolution, and the Dissolution was early in the Session; and I then it was a matter of course that Parliament should meet immediately. In 1852 the Government of which the noble Lord (Lord John Manners) was a Member advised a Dissolution of Parliament, admitting itself distinctly to be in a minority; but the Government claimed the right of appeal to the country, and advised a Dissolution, which took place, I think, in the latter part of July. No pledge was asked as to the date at which the new Parliament should re-assemble, and if I am not mistaken it re-assembled in the middle of November. Such was the case in 1852, regulated and conducted by the Party opposite, one of whose distinguished Members—the noble Lord—I rejoice to see, after a long career, still exists to assist and guide the Councils of the House, and long may he. Then comes the case of 1868, which was likewise a remarkable one. The right hon. Gentleman seems to think that a majority of 30 is very remarkable and magnificent, and that anybody ought to be happy to form one of that majority in whatever way that majority was composed, however much it may resemble what in popular geology is called plum-pudding rock. If the right hon. Gentleman will go back to 1868 he will find that the Government of the day was defeated not upon a proposal which was defined by those who made it to save the essence of the Legislative Union, but on a proposal which they admitted destroyed the only Article of the Legislative Union that in the Act of Union itself is stated to be vital and fundamental. That decision was arrived at, not by a majority of 30, for there was a majority of more than 60; but, nevertheless, that Government remained in Office for about six months, and it retired from Office at a time, the date of which I happen to recollect, for I was called upon to give advice on the 2nd of December following the vote of the House of Commons, which was given in the month of March. No pledge with regard to the assembling of the new Parliament was either obtained or even asked for; and it is rather a curious fact, considering the high Constitutional knowledge the right hon. Gentleman has exhibited on this occasion and of which I do not complain, that he has omitted all reference to the remarkable cases which occurred in 1852 and 1868, in both of which cases unnecessary delay was interposed by the Party of which the right hon. Gentleman is a Member. All I have said shows how imperfect the Constitutional researches of the right hon. Gentleman have been; but I have other matters to consider. I must observe, first, that I am not quite sure what is the meaning of the right hon. Gentleman when he asks that Parliament should be forthwith called together. I am desirous to know that meaning with exactitude, because there is a distinction which I think it material to draw. I do not think it would be reasonable on more grounds than one, supposing the new Parliament, which I hope will contain a very large proportion of the Members of this Parliament, although not quite the whole of them—I do not think it would be reasonable to ask a great body of Gentlemen, the bulk of whom will have been engaged from November last down to the end of July, either in the agreeable occupations of the Session, or the still more agreeable diversion of two hotly-contested General Elections—to ask Parliament to recommence the labours of the Session, involving the further treatment of measures based upon the measures of the present Government with respect to their Irish policy. That, you may say, is begging the question of the results of the General Election; but I do not mean to beg it at all. Whatever the labours of the coming Session may be, I am by no means sure that if another Government came in with another policy they would not find them still more arduous. Whatever they may be, I do not think that the months of August and September ought to be devoted to those labours, and I must ask that those labours should not be resumed without some reasonable intermission. I assume that the right hon. Gentleman is not thinking of that. I see that the right hon. Gentleman assents to what I say. Then I understand his question to mean—"Will you undertake that Parliament will be called together at as early a day as possible for the purpose of determining who are to be the Government and what is to be the policy?" I have shown that that has not been the course pursued on the occasions which have occurred of a defeat of the Ministry since 1841. But, at the same time, I am disposed to think that there is a good deal of weight in some of the suggestions of the right hon. Gentleman. It may be that Dissolution may have results so unequivocal that they may speak for themselves. It may be, on the other hand, that they are of a more equivocal character. I am disposed to make this admission on my own responsibility. It is highly probable that it may be the proper course that Parliament should meet for the purpose of determining this great question of policy at the very earliest moment. I think it quite certain it ought to meet at an early period. About that I have no doubt whatever. The state of Ireland and the Irish Question, whatever view we take of them, undoubtedly require so much as that; and I feel, although I have had no opportunity of consulting my Colleagues on the point—I feel to that extent that I am perfectly safe, and that I shall be borne out by them. If the right hon. Gentleman wishes to go further than that, and to require from me, under the existing circumstances, a more positive pledge than that, I do not think I can give it without the authority of my Colleagues; but in that case I would undoubtedly undertake to consult them, and to place myself in a position to inform him by to-morrow. This I may point out—the proposal made is to fix October the 31st as the date down to which we should take Votes on Account. The right hon. Gentleman quotes the term of six months given in 1841. The period now proposed would be about four months; and in the other case, the promise having been given and Parliament dissolved, I think it was a period of three months. I refer to that contested matter very reluctantly. I have stated what I feel very strongly—that the country ought not to be allowed to remain in uncertainty after the General Election as to the policy likely to be pursued with respect to Ireland. That, I think, is a question of principle, and that pledge I can give in the most distinct and positive manner. If the right hon. Gentleman finds it necessary to press me further, then I must ask him to allow me to consult my Colleagues before giving an answer, and I must ask that he will put his Question down in writing for to-morrow, so as to enable me to reply exactly.


I cannot precisely answer the question of the right hon. Gentleman, without an opportunity for the consideration of what he has said, and of consulting with others; but much of what he has said has given me great satisfaction, and I therefore ask the leave of the House to withdraw the Motion for Adjournment.

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

As Her Majesty's Government have now determined to dissolve, may I ask whether the ordinary protection afforded to Members by a Resolution of the House may be relied on? That Resolution affirms it to be a high contempt of the Privileges of this House for any Peer of the Upper House to intermeddle in the election of any Member of this House. That Resolution, up to the present moment, has remained a mere formal matter. Year after year the House of Commons has assented to its passing without having taken the slightest steps whatever to enforce it, although we all know that the most gross contempt of the terms and spirit of the Resolution has been perpetrated again and again by a large expenditure of money, by interference on platforms, and in a thousand other ways, on the part of persons belonging to the Upper House of the Legislature. Indeed, the intermeddling of the Peers in the election of Members of the House of Commons has been carried to such an extent as to become a public scandal. I, therefore, ask the Government to make provision that the ordinary protection afforded by this Resolution shall be fully enforced in the coming General Election.


I should be glad to learn from the Prime Minister whether the Government propose to take any steps with regard to Bills which have passed this House, and are now before the other House? I put this question in the interest of persons who have a special concern in certain measures which have not yet been dealt with in "another place."


I am not aware of any particular difficulty as regards the Bills now before the House of Lords. Of course, we shall do all that we can to secure, as far as possible, that the fruits and labours of the Session shall not be lost.

MR. W. H. SMITH (Strand, Westminster)

I wish to ask a Question of the Chancellor of the Exchequer in regard to a particular Vote in Supply—namely, whether the Vote for the build- ing of the new Admiralty and War Office will be pressed forward? There is also another question upon which I am anxious to have some statement from the right hon. Gentleman—namely, whether his attention and the attention of the Secretary of State for the Home Department have been called to the very serious condition of Westminster Abbey, and to the fact that there exists no fund whatever which can be used for the purpose of preserving the Abbey? Communications have, I believe, been taking place between the right hon. Gentleman and the Dean and Chapter of Westminster, with the view of bringing forward some measure to provide funds for the preservation of this important building; and I wish to know, in regard to the power at present proposed by the Government, what steps may be necessary to prevent, for a time at least, any disaster arising to Westminster Abbey from the absence of any fund sufficient to effect the object desired?


With regard to the question of the hon. and learned Member for South Londonderry (Mr. T. M. Healy), he will be aware that the Resolution passed by the House of Commons is a Resolution in the hands of the House, and is not a matter of which the Government have any special cognizance. I have not the smallest doubt that Members of the House of Lords will pay that attention to the Resolution which it ought to receive. That is the only answer I can give to the hon. and learned Gentleman on that point. As to the question of the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. W. H. Smith), as Chancellor of the Exchequer, I have, as the right hon. Gentleman knows, no cognizance of any matter relating to Westminster Abbey. No doubt, we are all extremely anxious that measures should be taken at once for the preservation of that edifice. The intention has been, and still is, to enable the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, as I understand, to advance any funds that may be required for the purpose; and my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, who has the matter in hand, is considering what can be done, and if it is not possible to do something even within what remains of the Session. It would not be desirable for the Treasury to interfere in the matter, as it is not in any way a public Vote; but, pending the action of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, they will consider what is to be done in the interval. As regards the Admiralty and War Office building, nothing will be done until Parliament has been consulted.

MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)

If the Government propose to take any Vote for Westminster Abbey, it will certainly be treated as a controversial matter. There are four Canons of Westminster with £1,000 a-year each, representing a capital of something like £100,000, and many hon. Members think that the expenses should be met out of those funds.


I think the hon. Member has misunderstood the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who said that no Vote would be asked for, but that it was desirable to make some arrangement with the Ecclesiastical Commissioners by which they will be induced to advance something in order to prevent the Abbey from tumbling down.

MR. HENEAGE (Great Grimsby)

I wish to ask the Secretary to the Board of Trade if it is the intention of the Government to go forward with a short Bill to amend the provisions of the Merchant Shipping (Fishing Boats) Act of 1883? ["No!"] It is a very short Act, and one which is not likely to raise any controversial matter.


I am obliged to the hon. Member for putting the Question. I have not yet had an opportunity of consulting the Board of Trade on the matter; but I had intended to ask the House to allow me to introduce this Bill, and I have already given Notice of it this evening. The measure is simply intended to effect a small reform in reference to fishing boats, and I do not expect any opposition to it.

MR. BUCHANAN (Edinburgh, W.)

I would like to put a Question to my right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Advocate as to the course of procedure this evening. There are no less than six or eight Bills on the Paper relating to Scotland; and I wish to know which of them the right hon. and learned Gentleman proposes to go on with to-night, which of them he contemplates abandoning altogether, and the order in which he proposes to proceed with those which are to be prosecuted?


I trust the Government will make some general statement as to the course of procedure to-night. I should be glad to learn what will be taken to-night if Supply is disposed of before half-past 12?


The Medical Acts Amendment Bill.

MR. GREGORY (Sussex, East Grinstead)

Is the Secretary to the Treasury able to say when the Customs Bill will be introduced?

MR. MARK STEWART (Kirkcudbright)

Is it intended to go on with the Burgh Police and Health (Scotland) Bill?

THE LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. J. B. BALFOUR)&c.) (Clackmannan,

I think it is quite plain that the Burgh Police and Health (Scotland) Bill must be dropped. That is perfectly clear. There are one or two smaller Bills, to which I do not expect any opposition, which may be proceeded with. I propose to introduce into the Returning Officers Charges Bill certain Amendments which are intended to give effect to the resolutions arrived at at a meeting of Scotch Members a few days ago.


May I ask my hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General when he proposes to proceed with the Revising Barristers Appointment Bill?


That is a Bill which must be proceeded with; but it has not yet been printed. I propose, however, to take the second reading on Thursday next.

MR. PULESTON (Devonport)

It will be convenient to a good many Members of the House if the Prime Minister will state whether Members whose names have been drawn to sit on Private Bill Committees the week after next will have to remain in town?


Certainly not.


Do the Government propose to proceed with the Parks Transfer Bill?


The Customs Bill will be introduced this evening, so far as it relates to the Wine Duties, as that is a non-contentious matter. The other parts of the Bill, which may give rise to controversy, will stand over until the Autumn Session. With regard to the Parks Transfer Bill, I am afraid that that must be considered as a controversial matter.


I wish to put a Question to the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary in reference to his intentions in regard to the Coal Mines Regulation Act Amendment Bill. Two Bills upon the same subject were introduced early in the Session, one of them by the right hon. Gentleman the late Home Secretary (Sir R. Assheton Cross). Both of them were deferred in order to enable the Government to bring in the Bill which is now on the Table. I presume, after what the Prime Minister has said, that the Government have abandoned all idea of proceeding with that measure. Therefore, I would ask the right hon. Gentleman if he will afford facilities for proceeding with the two minor Bills which have been withheld in order that the Government might be enabled to bring in their measure?


The Coal Mines Regulation Bill contains, I am afraid, a good deal of contentious matter; and, therefore, we cannot undertake to go on with it. Under the circumstances, I think the best course would be to withdraw all three Bills.


Is it intended to go on with the National Teachers Bill?

[No reply.]

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.