§ MR. T. M. HEALY (Longford, N.)
asked the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether his attention had been called to the fact that in "another place" the House of Lords had required three weeks between the first and second reading of the Land Bill—not a very intricate measure—and, whether, under these circumstances, he proposed to allow not a single Parliamentary day of interval between the first and second reading of the Criminal Law Amendment (Ireland) Bill?
§ THE FIRST LORD (Mr. W. H. SMITH) (Strand, Westminster)
I am aware, Sir, that an interval will elapse between the first and second reading of the Land Bill in "another place." I am aware also that the Bill, when it is taken in hand in the other House, will proceed with much greater rapidity than we have any reason to anticipate with regard to measures in this House; and, as I have stated, there is no doubt whatever that the Bill will be down here before we can hope to dispose of the Criminal Law Amendment Bill in this House. I may, perhaps, be permitted now to refer to the progress of Public Business in relation to the allusion of the right hon. Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt) last evening on the subject. He appealed to me, as well as the right hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. John Morley), to allow an interval to elapse between the first reading and the second reading of this Bill; and the right hon. Gentleman founded his appeal on the ground that it was essential the country should have an opportunity of becoming acquainted with the details of the measure before the second reading was moved. He (Sir William Harcourt) referred to the fact that he had introduced a Crimes Prevention Bill on the 11th of May, 1882, and that he did not move the second reading until the 18th of May. I wish to remind the right hon. Gentleman that that Bill was introduced when it was only in a state of draft; and when he was asked when it would be printed and circulated, on the night of its introduction, he intimated that he could hardly fix a date. It was actually only circulated on Tuesday, May 16.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
I am now speaking of the actual facts of the case. An interval, therefore, of only two days occurred between the actual circulation of the Bill to Members in London and the second reading. I would also remind him that the first reading was taken in one night. Taking those facts into consideration, the Government propose, if the first reading is taken tonight, to give a longer time than was given in the case of the right hon. Gentleman's Bill, and to propose that the debate on the second reading shall be begun on Tuesday. This will give an interval of three days, instead of the two which were allowed in 1882. It is also proposed that there shall be an interval of a week after the second reading before the House is asked to go into Committee on the Bill. It is necessary that my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer should introduce his Budget, and some other necessary Business will be taken; but I trust I shall have satisfied right hon. Gentlemen opposite that the Government are, as far as it is possible for them to do so, anxious to meet any reasonable demands that can be made for time for the consideration of this measure. We feel, however, that it is our imperative duty, as we have stated from time to time, to ask the House to come to a decision on the principle of the measure. It is not necessary for me to repeat what I have said on this question; but we rely on the judgment and the approval of the great majority of this House.