§ MR. HUNTER (Aberdeen, N.)
asked the First Lord of the Treasury, At what hour he proposed to report Progress that evening on the Civil Service Estimates; and whether he would do so at an early hour in order that the Technical Schools (Scotland) Bill and the Secretary for Scotland Act (1885) Amendment Bill, both of which would involve considerable discussion, might be proceeded with?
§ THE FIRST LORD (Mr. W. H. SMITH) (Strand, Westminster)
said, that he was under the impression, from the information which had reached him, that the Technical Schools Bill would not occasion any very long discussion that evening. He was informed that it was generally accepted by hon. Members from Scotland—["No ! "]—and that 277 they were desirous of passing it. He might say at once that it would be impossible to report Progress at an early hour. They ought to continue in Committee as long as hon. Members could be fairly asked to do so. Looking at the period of the Session, and the amount of Business to be got through, they ought to continue up to half-past 1 o'clock. If, therefore, it was desired by Scotch Members that the Technical Schools (Scotland) Bill should not be taken that night. [Cries of" Yes!" and "No! "] Judging from those expressions, he thought that they had better proceed with the Bill.
§ R. E. ROBERTSON Dundee)
asked the First Lord of the Treasury, whether, as the Technical Schools (Scotland; Bill and the Secretary for Scotland Act(1885) Amendment Bill would involve considerable discussion, and as a large section of Scotch Members objected to Scotch Bills being brought on for discussion at 1 or 2 o'clock in the morning, and as other Members would come to the House at that hour mainly for the purpose of preventing any attempt to carry on discussion, he would postpone those two Orders until the Irish Estimates had been got rid of or abandoned altogether for the Session, which would be the most convenient course to take?
§ R. W. H. SMITH
said, that he had great difficulty in ascertaining what the views of Scotch Members really were. Representations had been made to him that it would be for the convenience of Members from Scotland that the Bills should be taken that evening. [Mr. E, ROBERTSON: No.] He thought, under the circumstances, that the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Robertson) must bow to the views of his Colleagues. He did not wish to force the Committee to proceed with the Technical Schools Bill at a late hour; but if it was the wish of Scotch Members that it should be taken he should not be justified in withdrawing it from their consideration.
§ MR. ANDERSON (Elgin and Nairn)
asked, whether the Government proposed to proceed with the Local Government Boundaries Bill that night; and what object the Government had in not extending the provisions of the Bill to Scotland?
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
said, he had already stated that it would require a separate Bill for Scotland; and, looking 278 to the late period of the Session, he thought it would not be deemed advisable to bring in a Bill for Scotland this year. The provisions for Scotland were different to those required for England. It was intended to bring the Bill in early next Session, and this would enable the Government to get the Report of the Commission before they dealt with local government for Scotland. The English Bill would take precedence of the Scotch measure.
§ MR. ANDERSON
asked, whether it was the intention of the Government to bring in a Local Government Bill for Scotland next Session?
§ MR. COGHILL (Newcastle-under-Lyme)
asked, whether the Report stage of the Coal Mines, &c. Regulation Bill would be taken on Thursday or Friday this week?
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
said, that he was under an engagement not to take it this week. He could not take it until Supply was much further advanced.
§ MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)
asked the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, whether he had yet made up his mind as to what course the Irish Government intended to take with regard to the Distressed Unions (Ireland) Bill. The right hon. Gentleman had now been fully informed for three weeks as to the course the Irish Members intended to pursue; and it was necessary they should have some intimation as to what action the Government proposed to take?
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR) (Manchester, E.)
said, he was not prepared to deny that this was a matter of urgent importance, and if it were so it would be the best thing for the hon. Member to withdraw his block and opposition. He had already stated that he regarded the Bill as one of importance. It was impossible at that period of the Session to carry that or any other Bill if there was a prolonged opposition, and the responsibility must rest with those who desired to oppose it.
§ MR. DILLON
said, the matter with which the Bill proposed to deal was one of urgent importance; but he had been urged to block the Bill by all the Unions interested in the matter; therefore he had no option. The question he wished to ask the Chief Secretary was this— 279 under these circumstances, regarding the Bill as a dead Bill, what did the Irish Government propose to do?
§ MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W.)
wished to know what arrangement the Government intended to make to proceed with Order No. 6, the Municipal Regulation (Constabulary, &c.) (Belfast) Bill, the urgency for which was declared by the Chief Secretary last March?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I am afraid I must give a similar answer to this Question as I have already given to that of the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) with reference to the Distressed Unions (Ireland) Bill. As I have before said, I regard both these Bills as important. Neither of them, however, can be passed through in face of strong or persistent opposition in the House.
§ MR. SEXTON
wished to obtain definitely from the right hon. Gentleman what he intended to do in the matter. Did he intend to allow the Session to expire without an attempt to defeat the block; or would he consent to report Progress on some other Bill at half-past 12 o'clock in order that this Bill could be passed into law?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, if it were deemed advisable to stop any of the Business at half-past 12 o'clock in order to pass any Irish Bill, he should give the preference to the Distressed Unions (Ireland) Bill.
§ MR. SEXTON
I shall take the earliest opportunity I can of calling attention to the conduct of the Government on this question, and I shall take that opportunity to-night on the Police Vote, so far as concerns Belfast.