§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. E. GLADSTONE) (Edinburgh, Mid Lothian)
Sir, I think the House will expect to hear from me what steps the Government have taken, or propose to take, in consequence of the division which occurred on Monday night, involving the defeat of the Bill for the Better Government of Ireland. Her Majesty's servants met on Tuesday and humbly advised Her Majesty to dissolve the present Parliament without delay. Her Majesty was pleased graciously to assent to that advice, and we shall accordingly ask the House to wind up the Business of the Session with all practicable despatch. Perhaps it will be for the convenience of the House that I should refer to the particular proceedings that will, as is usual on such occasions, be necessary in order to give proper effect to the resolution that I have stated on the part of the Crown. In the first place, Sir, with respect to Private Business, it will be requisite, in conformity with precedent, to pass a Resolution for the purpose of putting Private Bills in the new Parliament upon the footing of the stage which they may have reached in the present Parliament before its Dissolution. Next, I will give to-day Notice of a Motion to be made to-morrow that the Government shall have precedence upon all days for Financial Business, and Financial Business alone. Then, Sir, there is the question—not a very large one, but still one which will have to be considered—of the Recess of a few days at Whitsuntide, which it is difficult altogether to dispense with, particularly on account of the fact that Whit Monday, which would be the most convenient day for the purpose of putting forward the Business of the Government, is a Bank Holiday, and a day of general relaxation for the population. What we propose 1305 is that we should sit to-morrow, and at the close of to-morrow's Business that we should move the adjournment of the House until Wednesday in next week, thus giving Monday and Tuesday as Whitsun Holidays. With regard to legislation, our disposition and intention generally will be to drop Bills that are in our own charge, and can be considered of a contentious character. I am not able to-day to state with regard to every Bill in the hands of my hon. and right hon. Friends near me what will be done; but with respect to the more important Bills, and especially in regard to two of them, perhaps I may at once state that the Railway and Canal Traffic Bill is of a magnitude which renders it impossible for us to prosecute it compatibly with the intention of winding up rapidly the Business of the Session. On the other hand, with respect to the Medical Acts Amendment Bill, that Bill has been before Parliament for a number of times, almost countless, and has now reached a most favourable position, as I understand. There is hardly any point remaining for settlement, and no point of a seriously contested character. Therefore, we do not at all abandon, but we confidently cherish, the hope that that Bill, not being the subject of contest between Parties in this House, may pass into law. So much for legislation. Then with respect to Supply, what we propose is that to-night we should go forward with the Votes in the Navy Estimates precisely as had been intended, having reference to the amount of money that these Votes will produce and place at the disposal of the Government. There is, of course, another method of procedure, and that is, to take a Vote on Account for the Navy and Army Estimates, as is commonly done with the Civil Service Estimates. But that has not been the usual practice. It has been generally deemed objectionable to proceed by Votes on Account in connection with the Navy and Army Estimates; but I am not now speaking of it as a matter of great certainty. A great deal may depend on the amount of importance attached to the rule; but it may be more conveniently discussed on another occasion, if necessary, when the Votes are proposed. In determining to follow the usual course, the Government to-morrow propose to take the 1306 Votes for the Army on the same principle as those for the Navy will be taken to-day.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
Yes, that applies only to the Army and Navy Estimates. We shall then propose a Vote on Account for the Civil Services, which we think might conveniently be taken so as to enable the Departments to proceed, if necessary, as late as October the 31st. Then, Sir, that proceeding will enable us to take the Report of Supply, and to bring forward the Appropriation Bill for a first reading on Wednesday next. That, the House will observe, is the most expeditious mode of proceeding that it is in our power and duty to adopt. Then, Sir, there are just two other subjects which I ought to notice. We have considered the case of the Education Vote. It is evident that it would not be convenient, or advantageous, or according to precedent, to pursue a special and separate course with regard to the Vote of money for the purpose of education. So far, therefore, as the voting of money is concerned, we propose to include the Education Vote simply in the general Vote on Account. On the other hand, as it has been the custom of the House, and I think the invariable custom of the House, to make the Education Vote an occasion for an annual Statement reviewing the subject of education, I think it will be convenient that that course should not be departed from. Our proposal, therefore, is that if we are able to take the second reading of the Appropriation Bill on Thursday next, that it should be made the occasion of the usual Education Statement. That I think would be a regular proceeding, and we think it would be for the convenience of the House. And then, Sir, further, there is the Indian Budget, which will enjoy this year the advantage of being proposed at a considerably earlier period of the year than usual; though I am afraid it will be late if we reckon it by the probable expiration of the Session. We have arranged to take the Indian Budget on Monday week. I am not aware that there is any other matter which it is necessary for me, at this time, to mention. I may add that to-morrow I shall 1307 make a Motion asking for precedence for Financial Bills, and we shall likewise ask for a Vote on Account. I shall be glad to give any further explanation which the House may deem it necessary to require.