HC Deb 27 August 1887 vol 320 cc163-6
THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH) (Strand, Westminster)

moved— That the Sitting of the House this day be held subject to the Standing Orders that regulate the Sitting of the House on Wednesdays.

MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)

said, he had given Notice that he would oppose this Motion. He really put it to the First Lord of the Treasury whether they were to learn nothing by experience in that House? They were brought down there last Saturday and absolutely no Business was done, the proposition before the House being talked out deliberately till a quarter to 6 o'clock; and they might all just as well have been at home or in the country. He objected to the House being made a plaything in that way, and he had known no previous Session when this regulation was in force on Saturdays. As a matter of fact, at the close of the Session a great deal of Business had to be done on Saturdays; and he said that this Motion was putting a premium on Obstruction, and he would oppose it.

THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH) (Strand, Westminster)

I, Sir, endeavour, as far as I possibly can, to consider the convenience of the great majority of the House; and I desire to act on the presumption that, although there may be

some Members who may be disposed to obstruct the Business of the House, I should not be justified in supposing that they would receive sufficient support to entitle or require me to make provision against deliberate Obstruction, carried on with a view of preventing the proper conduct of the Business of the House. I will not say more in regard to the proceedings of last Saturday than that after there had been a considerable amount of debate an hon. Gentleman did prevent the putting of the Question when the majority of the House were, as I believe, ready to come to a decision upon it. But we must not surrender altogether the reliance which we desire to place on the good sense, the moderation, and the wish, I believe, of the great majority of the Members of this House, both to forward the Public Business, and to consider the convenience and advantage of the Members of the House generally. I hope, therefore, that the hon. Member for South Tyrone will not think it right to press his opposition to this Motion; because, as I am informed, it would be greatly for the convenience of hon. Members generally to get away at 6 o'clock. If we should fail altogether to obtain that concurrence in forwarding the Public Business which I am sure will conduce to the credit of every hon. Member, on whatever side he may sit, then I shall abandon all hope of being able to conduct the Business of the House with reference to the convenience of the greater number of its Members, and we shall be obliged to rely on what may be called the brute force of a majority. But I would earnestly appeal to hon. Gentlemen here to-day, having due regard to the very important position which Members of this great Assembly hold in the country, or should hold, irrespective of the particular Party to which they may belong, to facilitate the transaction of Public Business rather than to hinder or in any way delay it. At this period of the Session, the very exhausting labours which have fallen on those who have attended regularly, and, still more, the heavy demand made on the officers of this House and on the Chairman of Committees, justify, I think, the appeal which I make that there should be some consideration for the strength that is allotted to man—some consideration given to those who have great and im- portant and responsible duties to discharge. I therefore hope that we shall get through the Business of the day with that amount of rapidity, consistently with the proper consideration of the matters before us, which will enable us to adjourn not later than 6 o'clock.


wished to be allowed to correct the view put before the House by the hon. Member for South Tyrone, or, at any rate, to state a different aspect of the question. No doubt, the experience of last Saturday was not entirely satisfactory; but it stood alone. The hon. Member said that the day was wasted, and referred to an undoubted fact that at a quarter to 6 o'clock a somewhat irresponsible Member got up and talked, obviously with the view of preventing any action being taken on the Vote. But the time was not wasted, because an extremely important subject—the question of Egypt—had been discussed and practically exhausted; and even if the hon. Member had not done as he did, it did not follow that the Vote would have been taken on that day. There was still the important question of our relations with France with regard to the New Hebrides, which, undoubtedly, would have had to be discussed, and he was not quite sure that they would have got the Vote under any circumstances. He hoped that the Members of the House would work together to get through the Business before them, and would proceed to do so at once.

SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL (Kirkcaldy, &c.)

suggested that it would be better to drop the technical Motion, and act on the understanding, and close the Sitting about 6 o'clock. The Committee would then have a protection against talking out. As to the allusion to brute force, the right hon. Gentleman should not say too much, for the Government might find themselves like toothless lions, not having a 200 majority. He wished to ask whether it had been correctly stated last night that no other Business besides the Allotments Bill would be taken to-day?


said, that with the view of stopping the discussion, he would say that the Government had no desire to take any opposed Business whatever that day after the Allotments Bill had been disposed of. He endea- voured on the previous night to ascertain the general feeling as to the adjournment, and he found that it was in favour of the 6 o'clock Rule being enforced.

MR. CHANNING (Northampton, E.)

said, that the county Members on the Opposition side of the House would do their utmost to bring the discussion on the Allotments Bill in Committee to a close before 6 o'clock that evening. All they asked was that their Amendments should be met in a conciliatory spirit.

MR.BIGGAR (Cavan, W.)

expressed his dissent from the theory of the hon. Member for South Tyrone as to last Saturday having been lost by the talk-out on that occasion. The subject was one which had to be discussed, and the discussion was taken.

Motion agreed to.

Back to
Forward to