§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE (Bradford, Central)
asked, Whether it was intended to proceed with the Amendment placed on the Paper by the hon. Baronet the Member for the Wells Division of Somerset (Sir Richard Paget)?
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH) (Strand, Westminster)
With reference to the Question which the right hon. Gentleman has addressed to my hon. Friend, I wish to make an appeal to him, and, at the same time, to my noble Friend the Member for Wilts (Lord Henry Bruce), who has also given Notice of an Amendment. Although the Government feel with him that the condition of agriculture is one which may well attract the attention of Parliament, it must be obvious to my hon. Friend, and to hon. Members on both sides of the House, that it is impossible for the Government to accept an Amendment; the circumstances of the present time render it quite impossible for them to do so, and at any time no Government could accept such an Amendment. I trust, therefore, that my hon. Friend and my noble Friend will, under the circumstances in which they are placed, consent to withdraw the Amendments of which they have given Notice, reserving to themselves the opportunities which will be afforded to them of raising discussions on the questions—questions which well deserve consideration at the hands of the Government and the House. It is a matter of the very highest importance that the debate on the Address should be concluded with the least possible delay. The House must feel that its time is taken away very rapidly by discussions which stand in the way of the 1413 progress of Public Business and in the way of questions in which hon. Members are interested. Therefore, I appeal to both sides of the House to conclude the discussion on the Address with the least possible delay, and enable the House to get to the Business of the Session.
§ SIR RICHARD PAGET (Somerset, Wells)
said, the decision of the right hon. Gentleman placed him in a position of considerable difficulty. He had received assurances from many hon. Members, as well as from persons outside the House, of their approval of his Amendment, as a very strong opinion prevailed that the question of English agriculture was quite as deserving of the attention of the House as that of other parts of the British Isles. While recognizing the force of the appeal of the Leader of the House, he hoped he would not be thought unreasonable or exacting if he asked an assurance that the Government would afford facilities, or, at any rate, give opportunities for the discussion of this important matter, either on Report of the Address or by the grant of a special day.
§ MR. CHAPLIN (Lincolnshire, Sleaford)
desired to know whether he should be right in supposing that the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury would raise no objection to a discussion of the question on the Report of the Address? He (Mr. Chaplin) did not see any necessity for any Amendment being moved; but if it were generally understood that the question could be discussed on the Report, he believed hon. Members representing agricultural constituencies would be satisfied, and he had no doubt that the hon. Member would be willing to abstain from moving his Amendment.
§ SIR HENRY SELWIN-IBBETSON (Essex, Epping),
speaking as the Representative of a constituency as strongly interested in this subject as any, joined in the request of the hon. Baronet (Sir Richard Paget) that facilities should be given for a discussion. It was one of the greatest importance and—
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT (Derby)
Mr. Speaker, I rise to Order. Might I ask what is the Question before the House, and whether we can debate this question?
§ MR. SPEAKER
Debate would certainly be out of Order. The course was that the First Lord of the Treasury made 1414 an appeal to the hon. Baronet (Sir Richard Paget); and the hon. Baronet and the right hon. Gentleman (Sir Henry Selwin-Ibbetson) were giving reasons for a counter-appeal. But the right hon. Gentleman (Sir William Harcourt) is right in thinking that no debate is permissible.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
Then, Sir, do we understand that on this side of the House we are at liberty to make observations?
§ LORD HENRY BRUCE (Wilts, Chippenham),
who had on the Paper an Amendment respecting the dwellings of the poor in large cities, said, he begged the indulgence of the House in reply to the right hon. Gentleman's appeal to him to withdraw his Amendment to the Address. He had no wish whatever to embarrass Her Majesty's Government; but he considered his Amendment a national one—a very grave one, too—and one which was in no sense of the word a Party question. If, however, Her Majesty's Government would give him an assurance that the Act which followed the Marquess of Salisbury's Commission would no longer remain a dead letter, he was willing to withdraw the Amendment standing in his name.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
It is not in my power to promise my hon. Friend (Sir Richard Paget) a particular day for the discussion of his Amendment; but, of course, he will have the opportunity of raising a discussion on the Report stage of the Address. It is not the desire of the Government to interfere with the discussion of a very important question not merely to England, but also to Scotland and Ireland; but I again appeal to the House to bring these discussions within reasonable bounds, so as to enable the House to get to the business that lays before it.
§ SIR RICHARD PAGET
said, that, as he understood it was not the desire of the Government to limit a reasonable discussion on this matter on the Report stage, he gave Notice that he withdrew the Amendment.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE
wished to know whether the hon. Member would move the Amendment on the Report? He himself had an Amendment to the hon. Member's Amendment; and if the hon. Member left the matter to a 1415 general discussion it was an open question whether he should not move his Amendment in a substantive form.