HC Deb 01 August 1887 vol 318 cc723-9
THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH) (Strand, Westminster)

Sir, I entered into an engagement with the House on Thursday last to make a statement in regard to Public Business this evening, and to intimate at least some of the Bills which, the Government thought it right to introduce which cannot be proceeded with during the course of the present Session. We abandon those Bills with great regret, because we are conscious that they are looked upon with great interest and importance by all parties in the House. First of all, Sir, I shall refer to the Railway and Canal Traffic Bill, for which it is clear sufficient time cannot be afforded, and also to the Land Transfer Bill, which has been received generally with great interest in the country, and which we had certainly hoped to have passed into law this Session. There is another Bill which is opposed, and which, we fear, we shall not be able to proceed with—the Lunacy Acts Amendment Bill. I also knew that Bill to be exceedingly valuable; but it would appear that sufficient time is not to be allowed its to pass it into law. The measures with which we propose to persevere are the Mines Regulation Bill, the Irish Land Bill, the Allotments Bill, and the Technical Instruction Bill. There will be some minor measures which will not. I hope, occupy much time; they are very necessary although they are subsidiary measures. I speak of some Consolidation Bills—the Sheriffs Consolidation Bill for Scotland and the County Courts Consolidation Bill for England. But if hon. Gentlemen discuss these measures at any great length it is obvious that it will be impossible for us to persevere with them. They contain, no controversial matter; but are simply Bills to codify the law as it exists in order to make it more accessible to those who have to deal with it. I come next to the Questions which have been asked by the hon. Member for Shropshire and the hon. Member for Denbighshire with regard to the Tithe Rent-Charge Bill. I venture even yet to express a hope that the House will consent to consider that measure during the present Session. I am aware that it is strenuously opposed by some hon. Gentlemen opposite and by others who sit behind me; but when regard is had to the extremely critical condition of the public peace in some parts of the country, I think the House would do well to give a short amount of time to the consideration of a measure which has regard to the maintenance of public order more than to the maintenance of any particular faith or church. We desire to assert that the tithe rent-charge is the first charge upon the land; and, therefore, all parties in the House ought to endeavour to maintain that charge and to place it in such a position that it may be collected without difficulty or danger to the public peace. But, Sir, we are in the hands of the House in this matter, and the responsibility, if disturbances continue, must rest very largely with those who feel it to be their duty, at all risks, to resist the consideration of this measure. I entertain the hope that Committee on the Irish Land Bill may be concluded in the course of tomorrow. I hope I am not too sanguine in that expectation. There is the strongest desire on the part of the Government to pass that Bill with as little delay as possible, and there are reasons which are known to hon. Gentlemen in all parts of the House which render it most desirable that that wish on the part of the Government should be satisfied. If we succeed in passing the Land Bill through Committee on Tuesday, we shall proceed with the Civil Service Estimates on Wednesday and with the Army Estimates on Thursday. It is absolutely necessary for the Public Service that we should obtain Votes for the Army on Thursday. We shall proceed either with the Land Bill on Report on Friday and Saturday or with the Civil Service Estimates. I shall have to ask the House to sit on Saturdays for the remainder of the Session.

MR. JOTIN MORLEY, (Newcastle-upon-Tyne)

I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether the Government will not consider the possibility of taking only the fourth part of the Land Transfer Bill, and whether we may assume, as I suppose we may, that the Government do not intend to bring in the measure familiarly known as Coercion Bill No. 2?


The right hon. Gentleman must draw no inference from the absence of any statement of what he is pleased to term Coercion Bill No. 2. I will consult my Colleagues with reference to the fourth part of the Land Transfer Bill; but hon. Gentlemen will understand that this measure has been produced as a complete measure, and we hold that it would lose most of its efficacy if it was shorn of any portion of its enactments.

MR. A. H. BROWN (Shropshire Wellington)

asked for further information as to when the Coal Mines Regulation Bill would be proceeded with?


As soon as I can see progress made with the Land Bill, I shall make a further statement as to the Coal Mines Regulation Bill, the importance of which we recognize.

MR. T. H. SIDEBOTTOM (Stalybridge)

said, he must express great regret and disappointment at the fact that the Government had not seen their way to carrying a Bill dealing with the limited liability law. There was a deep and widespread fooling throughout the manufacturing districts that an amendment of this law was urgently needed, and ought not to be delayed.

MR. BROADHURST (Nottingham, W.)

asked if the Government had given up all idea of bringing in an Employers' Liability Bill?


Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman can say what has become of two Scotch Bills—one dealing with University Education, and the other with the duties of the Secretary for Scotland, which was mentioned in the Queen's Speech. Also what Vote of the Army Estimates is to be taken first?


said, that, bearing in mind the great importance of securing the passage of the Coal Mines Regulation Bill, a measure in which many hon. Members on that side of the House were very much interested, he would no everything he could to secure the passing of the Land Bill through the Committee by to-morrow evening, or certainly by Wednesday afternoon.

MR. BRYN ROBERTS (Carnarvonshire, Eifion)

asked whether no attempt would be made to pass the Tithes Bill?

MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)

asked whether they were to have two or three days' notice before the introduction of the Indian Budget?

MR. SYDNEY BUXTON (Tower Hamlets, Poplar)

asked whether the Bill respecting the maintenance of the Public Parks was to be proceeded with?

MR. WOODALL (Hanley)

reminded the right hon. Gentleman that among the Bills which were to be proceeded with he had not included the one for the appointment of Boundary Commissioners.


I did not refer to that particular Bill, because it is obviously one that is not likely to receive any opposition from any part of the House. As to limited liability, that question has received the careful attention of the Government. But it is a question so intricate and requiring so much care that we have not felt ourselves prepared to introduce the Bill which has been drafted. It would be a very serious matter to introduce a measure which would entail more evil than it is sought to cure, and there is great danger in attempting to deal with questions of credit, liability, and responsibility rashly or carelessly. I am asked as to the Secretary for Scotland Bill. It was introduced in the House of Lords on Friday last.


Will it be proceeded with?


Oh, certainly, unless hon. Gentlemen delay the Session very seriously. I am asked by the Member for Nottingham as to the Employers' Liability Bill. We have not been able to present a Bill, but the existing Act will be included in the Expiring Acts Continuance Bill. As there is no provision in the Estimates for the management of the Public Parks beyond this year, it is absolutely essential that the Public Parks Bill should be passed into law this Session. With regard to the Votes on the Army Estimates, an opportunity will be given during their discussion for the hon. Member for Preston (Mr. Hanbury) to raise the question of which he has given Notice for dealing with the salaries and pensions of officers who are said to be responsible for the admission of defective sword bayonets into the Navy. The Votes will be taken on Thursday, so as to enable my hon. Friend to bring forward his Motion. I will take care that ample Notice is given of the introduction of the Indian Budget.

MR. MUNDELLA (Sheffield, Brightside)

asked when the second reading of the Technical Education Bill would be taken.


I cannot say. That depends on the progress made, but I hope to break off Supply some night about 10 or 11 and proceed with the Allotments Bill and Technical Education Bill.

MR. R. T. REID&c.) (Dumfries,

reminded the right hon. Gentleman of the objections often taken to delaying the Indian Budget.


inquired whether there was any chance this Session of the introduction of a Bill dealing with the Friendly Societies Act?


There is every hope that we shall be able to introduce a Bill on that subject. It is a small matter, but I believe importance is attached to it by the Friendly Societies, and I see no difficulty in passing it.

MR. R. PRESTON BRUCE (Fifeshire, W.)

said, he wanted to know whether the Government intend to introduce a Universities (Scotland) Bill, and whether the right hon. Gentleman really thought there was any chance of passing this Session a measure of that character? He understood the right hon. Gentleman to say it was intended to go on with the Secretary for Scotland Bill. Was the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Bill had only been published to-day for the first time? That was all the time the Government had thought fit to allow the Scottish Members to examine this measure. Why had a measure mentioned in Her Majesty's Speech, and which, he supposed, had been in the pigeon-holes of the Government for the last six months,; only been produced in the closing weeks of the Session, when there was no time properly to consider it?

MR. HANBURY (Preston)

asked if the Vote on which he was to raise his question would be taken first on Thursday? He was under the distinct impression that he had been promised an opportunity of bringing forward his Resolution on the first Vote.


I will confer with the Secretary of State for War and make arrangements satisfactory to my hon. Friend.


asked whether the Government would drop the Lunacy Districts (Scotland) Bill?


No, Sir. We understand that serious consequences will arise in some parts of Scotland if that Bill is dropped. As to the Secretary for Scotland Bill, it contains only two or three clauses, and I apprehend, hon. Gentlemen will not have much difficulty in informing themselves as to its contents and all that it involves. The Universities (Scotland) Bill will be introduced, and I am informed by the Lord Advocate that it will not excite any opposition whatever, but will be received with approval by hon. Gentlemen from Scotland. Therefore, Her Majesty's Government will endeavour to pass it; but of course it is in the power of hon. Members for Scotland to prevent it being passed.

MR. E. W. DUFF (Banffshire)

asked when the main Votes on the Navy Estimates would be taken?


I am not able to say.

DR. CAMERON (Glasgow, College)

asked if the right hon. Gentleman really intended at this period of the Session to commence operations with three important Scotch Bills? The Sheriffs Consolidation Bill, which the light hon. Gentleman disposed of as of no importance, was unknown to Scotch Members, and must involve many technical points, and could not be considered at this time of the Session. Was the right hon. Gentleman aware that the Universities Bill, which he said he would persevere with, had been postponed Session after Session in consequence of the an- tagonistic interests involved? These measures were mentioned in the Queen's Speech, and the public of Scotland had a right to know beforehand what the Government intended.


I have already said that they will be proceeded with unless hon. Gentlemen from Scotland object in such a manner as to render it impossible to pass them. The whole responsibility will rest on hon. Gentlemen if that were the case. If hon. Gentlemen seriously object to those measures, then the Government will be unable to persevere with them.


asked whether the public were to be given no opportunity of expressing their opinion upon these Bills?


asked, how it was proposed to deal with technical education for Scotland?


By a separate Bill.


Yet another?

MR. ESSLEMONT (Aberdeen, E.)

asked if he was correct in supposing that the First Lord of the Treasury said in effect that they should have no Scottish measures passed this Session unless the Scottish Members accepted them without discussion?


No, sir; I said nothing of the kind. It is an entire misrepresentation of what I have said.

MR. BUCHANAN (Edinburgh, W.)

said, neither he, nor, did he think, many hon. Members knew what Bill the right hon. Gentleman meant when he referred to the Consolidation Bill for Scotland.


I meant the Sheriff Courts Consolidation Bill—a Bill for consolidating the law with regard to Sheriffs in Scotland.