§ Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question [20th June], "That the Lords' Amendments be now taken into Consideration."
§ Question again proposed.
§ Debate resumed.
§ MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)
I regret very much that I am compelled by the circumstances of the case to ask the House to adjourn for another week the consideration of this Bill. ["Oh !"] Perhaps hon. Gentlemen, before they express their disapprobation, will listen to my explanations. It will be in the recollection of the House that this Bill has for a long period been postponed from time to time, for one object, and for one object only—namely, to secure the passing of another Bill which relates to the subject, in order to provide that something should be done to secure for the ratepayers of Belfast the full control over the expenditure of the money which is involved in the passing of this Bill. At this very moment, I understand that the House of Lords is engaged in con- 32 sidering the Report and Amendments of the Security Bill, and we are absolutely in the dark as to what shape that Bill will ultimately take. That has been the sole object with which these repeated adjournments have been assented to by the House, and that object has not yet been achieved. I cannot conceive anything more absurd than that this House, having consented to repeated postponements for a certain object, should now allow this Bill to be passed before that object has been attained. No doubt, it will be urged by the promoters of the Bill that they have been subjected to great inconvenience by those repeated adjournments; but, in reply to that argument, I say that they have to thank "another place," where the progress of Public Business is extremely slow. That is not our fault. If the Irish Members had any control over the matter, the Security Bill would have been passed long ago, in order that the questions it involved might receive full discussion here. I feel bound, under the circumstances of the case, to move that the further consideration of the Lords' Amendments be adjourned until this day week.
§ MR. SPEAKER
May I suggest to the hon. Member that the proper course is to move the adjournment of the debate?
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. Dillon.)
§ SIR JAMES CORRY (Armagh, Mid)
It is absolutely impossible that we can consent to this Motion. We have repeatedly consented to adjournments, and on the last occasion when the Bill was before the House the debate was adjourned, at the suggestion of the Chairman of Ways and Means, until to-day, on the distinct understanding that the Lords' Amendments should be then considered. I think it is very unfair to ask for a further postponement. The hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon) has referred to a Bill which is in "another place;" but my hon. Friend the Member for North Belfast (Mr. Ewart) has given Notice of a clause which he proposes to add to the Main Drainage Bill which will give to the ratepayers of Belfast the most complete control over the drainage works and the expenditure which they will involve. This clause has 33 been very carefully drafted, and I know that it meets with the approval of the Chairman of Ways and Means. I believe that it will give to the ratepayers of Belfast even more complete control over the expenditure of money than the clause which has been inserted in the Franchise Bill in "another place." It is not possible for me to discuss the Franchise Bill at the present moment; but I feel bound to resist the Motion for Adjournment.
§ MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W.)
The hon. Baronet has informed the House that it is not possible for him to consent to the further adjournment asked for by my hon. Friend the Member for East Mayo. I think I shall be able to show in a very few words that it is utterly impossible for the House to proceed with this measure at the present moment. The hon. Baronet referred to an understanding which was come to in my absence on Monday last. I very much regret that, in consequence of certain important business in Ireland, I was prevented from being present on that occasion. My hon. Friend the Member for Mid Tyrone (Mr. M. J. Kenny) said on that occasion that he believed there would he a prospect to the Lords' Amendments being considered to-day; but he was then under the impression that what my hon. Friend the Member for East Mayo has rightly called the "Security Bill" would be in our hands to-day. Unfortunately, that is not the case. The Security Bill is still in the House of Lords, and that House is engaged at the present moment considering the Report of the Amendments upon it. We have now a demand made upon us, which I can only characterize as unprecedented, to allow this Bill to go out of our hands without having the Franchise Bill before us, and without being able to arrive at any notion of the form which the security is to take. No doubt, there have been repeated postponements; but why has the Bill been postponed? It has been postponed in order to obtain an object which has not yet been achieved. This House has passed a Bill to extend the municipal franchise in Belfast, and this House has declared not only that the franchise shall be extended, but that the extended franchise shall be applied to the Register of the present year; in other words, that the present Town Council 34 are to go out of office this year, and, until the new Council are elected, no steps shall be taken to fix upon the borough of Belfast the liability involved in carrying out this scheme—a liability of the expenditure of £500,000, imposed upon a town which is already burdened with a debt of £750,000. Then, how can we proceed with the Lords' Amendments to this Bill to-day? The very first Amendment of importance is a new provision which has been inserted in the Bill by the House of Lords. The Lords have struck out the clause inserted here which extends the municipal franchise in Belfast. It was in view of the Amendment that this House passed the Municipal Franchise Bill. The Lords have allowed an extension of the franchise; but they have struck out the provision which applied the new franchise to the Register of the present year, and they have struck out a further provision which forbade the Town Council of Belfast from proceeding with their scheme until the new Council shall have been elected. Noble Lords, acting on behalf of the Town Council of Belfast, have struck out every vestige of security without being in possession of any absolute knowledge of the merits of the question. I understand that it is intended to move the restoration of those clauses, and we may know the result in the course of an hour or two. At present, however, we do not know the result, and yet we are, nevertheless, asked to give up the last security we have in regard to the question. I will ask you, Sir, how, in such a case, I am to proceed? How am I to decide whether or not I ought to ask the House to disagree with the Lords' Amendments, which have so materially altered the character of the Franchise Clause? When the Bill comes down from the House of Lords we shall know the final shape the Amendments have assumed. If I knew now that the new Town Council will be elected upon the extended franchise this year I could make up my mind; but until we are able to make up our minds on that point it is impossible to say what course we ought to take. No doubt, before this day week, we shall know what has been done by the House of Lords, and whether we ought to accept these Amendments or not. If the House refuses the reasonable request of my hon. Friend the Member for East Mayo, 35 I shall have no alternative but to move that the House disagree with the Amendments of the Lords; and, to begin with, it will be necessary to discuss at length the most important one—namely, that which relates to the extension of the municipal franchise. I will only ask the House if it is necessary or desirable that a long debate should take place upon that point, which subsequent events may render altogether unnecessary? Under the circumstances, Mr. Speaker, I will ask you for a moment to give your kind attention to the question, especially in reference to the clause which the hon. Member for North Belfast proposes to introduce. As the House is aware, we are now in the stage of considering the Lords' Amendments, and I ask you, Sir, if it will be in Order to discuss any Amendment which does not deal strictly with the Amendments which have been introduced by the House of Lords? I take it that the only Constitutional right which this House now possesses is to consider the Amendments which the House of Lords have made in the Bill. The hon. Member for North Belfast proposes to introduce an Amendment which does not deal with any matter that has been touched upon by the Lords' Amendments. The Bill proposes that the franchise shall be exercised in a certain manner, but the hon. Member proposes that it shall be dealt with in another manner. There is nothing in this Bill which deals with Schedule 3 of the Public Health Act, and I would submit to you, Sir, that it is not competent for the House to consider, or for the hon. Member to move, any clause of this kind. The protection which the clause offers to the ratepayers of Belfast is altogether illusory. I regard it as a breach of faith, and as one of the Representatives of the people of Belfast, who are the persons most concerned in the Bill, I protest against it, and shall resist it to the utmost—in the first place, because it is out of Order; and, secondly, because it stultifies the action of the people of Belfast. The House has passed a clause declaring that the powers of the Bill shall be exercised after a public election of the Town Council under a certain franchise, and the hon. Member who proposes this clause is clearly asking the House to stultify itself in deciding the question before it can possibly know 36 what course has been taken in "another place" in reference to the Franchise Bill. I am astonished that the hon. Gentleman should have the audacity to come here, while the matter is in suspense, to ask us to traverse and overcome the settlement which has already been arrived at by admitting an absurd and fantastic clause which it is altogether out of Order to introduce into a Private Bill. Under these circumstances, I maintain that it is impossible to proceed with the Bill to-day; and I ask you, Sir, if it is in Order for the hon. Gentleman to propose the clause he has placed upon the Paper, and to represent it as a proper question to discuss on the consideration of Amendments of the House of Lords which have no reference whatever to the subject?
§ MR. SPEAKER
In reference to the point of Order I will read Clause 33a, which has been inserted in the Bill by the House of Lords in substitution of Clause 34—The Corporation shall, within seven years from the passing of this Act, make and complete such low level sewers and works as may be necessary for intercepting and diverting into the outfall works by this Act authorized all the sewage flowing into the River Lagan and the Victoria Channel through the sewers of the Corporation which shall not be intercepted by the high level sewers by this Act authorized, and the Corporation shall commence such low level sewers and works as soon as the other works by this Act authorized shall he so far advanced that they can conveniently do so.The new clause proposed by the hon. Gentleman the Member for North Belfast (Mr. Ewart) proposes to restrict the action to be taken, or the expenditure to be incurred under the Act, until the execution of the works has received the consent of the owners and ratepayers of the borough. I cannot say that such a proposal is out of Order. It appears to be consequential upon the new clause introduced by the House of Lords to restrict the liability which may be incurred under the Act, and it is certainly not irrelevant to that clause.
§ MR. SEXTON
May I, Sir, respectfully explain that as the Main Drainage Bill stood in the House of Commons it was optional with the Corporation of Belfast to proceed with the second part of the Bill? It was compulsory upon them to proceed with the first part; but the Committee of the House of Lords made a material change in the measure by inserting a clause which obliges the 37 Corporation of Belfast to proceed with certain works within a limited number of years after the passing of the Act. That is the point which I raised as a question of Order.
§ MR. SPEAKER
I do not think I can rule in any other way than that in which I have already ruled. As I have said before, I do not think it is out of Order, or that it would be improper, to restrict the action of the Corporation in reference to the incurring of any liability in respect of the drainage works until the execution of the works itself has received the sanction of the owners and ratepayers of the borough.
§ THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES (Mr. COURTNEY) (Cornwall, Bodmin)
On the point of Order, Sir, I think your ruling is conclusive. With regard to the question of adjournment, I would remind the House that this Bill was exactly in the same position on Monday as it is now. The plea then raised for an adjournment was solely that it was undesirable to consider the Bill in the absence of the hon. Member for West Belfast (Mr. Sexton). ["No !"] There was no other ground assigned. I beg the hon. Gentleman's pardon who says "No!" I was present myself on the occasion, and I know that that was the only objection which was raised to proceeding with the Bill. Indeed, it was said that if the hon. Gentleman had been present no objection would have been raised to go on with the consideration of the Lords' Amendments, and it was solely in consequence of the absence of the hon. Member that the debate was adjourned until to-day upon the distinct understanding that however unavoidable his absence might be, whether he was here to-day or not, the Bill would go on. The matter having been decided in that way, I confess I think that the House would scarcely be acting consistently with what was done last Monday if it were to consent now to a further adjournment.
§ MR. NORRIS (Tower Hamlets, Limehouse)
The Question before the House is whether the debate should be again adjourned, and I wish to say a few words in order to explain the reason which induces me to support the Motion of the hon. Member for East Mayo. I entirely concur in every word that has been stated by the hon. Member for West Belfast (Mr. Sexton). I think we 38 are not only justified, but bound, to hang up a final decision upon the Drainage Bill until we are in a position to know whether, in the interests of local self-government, there is to be a satisfactory extension of the municipal franchise in the borough of Belfast or not. A great deal has been said about local self-government; and what does local self-government mean in this case but the extension of the municipal franchise? Therefore, I think it is perfectly consistent with the principles I hold and our advocacy of this Bill that in the absence of the measure now in the House of Lords for the extension of the municipal franchise further time should be given for the consideration of the Lords' Amendments in the Drainage Bill. The hon. Member for West Belfast has pointed out that the Lords' Bill is not now before us; and, therefore, we are unable to consider the principle upon which the extension of the municipal franchise in Ireland is to be carried out, and whether the local self-government which we are continually advocating for this country is to be extended to Ireland or not. I therefore hope that hon. Members on this side of the House will join with me in supporting the Motion for the adjournment of this debate. I would remind hon. Members that on a former occasion, when a local question connected with West London was before the House, many Members gave way in deference to the opinion and feeling of the people who were principally interested. I regard the present circumstances as of a similar character; and with these few words I beg to say that I, on my part, shall support the Motion of the hon. Member for East Mayo.
§ MR. JOHNSTON (Belfast, S.)
I hope, Sir, that the House will refuse to listen to any proposition for the further postponement of this important question. As one of those Members whose constituents are deeply interested in the passing of the Bill, I am almost ashamed of the number of times hon. Members have been required to come down to support the measure, with the only result of finding the Bill postponed, from time to time, in order to meet the convenience of hon. Gentlemen opposite. If any pledge was ever given in this House that was of a positive character, it was the pledge given on Mon- 39 day last by the hon. Member for Mid Tyrone (Mr. M. J. Kenny), on behalf of the hon. Member for West Belfast, that the Lords' Amendments should be taken into consideration to-day. The ratepayers of Belfast will be afforded a full opportunity of considering the measure and of controlling the execution of the works, as will be evident to every man who will read the new clause which is proposed to be inserted by my hon. Friend the Member for North Belfast (Mr. Ewart). I know that it would be out of Order to discuss that clause now, and, therefore, I will not attempt to do so; but hon. Gentlemen who have urged so strongly that the ratepayers should be given full control over the expenditure before the works are carried into execution must be aware that the delay in proceeding with the Municipal Franchise Bill in "another place" is not attributable to any action on the part of my hon. Friend the Member for North Belfast, or of the promoters of the Drainage Bill, but, on the contrary, that the postponement of that measure until to-day was resolved upon at the instance of a noble Lord who supports the views of the hon. Member for West Belfast. I think that we, who are deeply interested in the matter, on behalf of the citizens of Belfast, should be no longer trifled with, but that the House should proceed at once to take the Lords' Amendments into consideration.
§ MR. M. J. KENNY (Tyrone, Mid)
As I moved the Amendment on Monday I desire to say one or two words. When the House adjourned the debate upon the Bill on Monday last, it was not solely on the ground of the absence of my hon. Friend the Member for West Belfast, but equally on the ground that we expected, on this day, that the House would be in possession of the Bill which is now under consideration in "another place," and which was down for consideration on Monday last, but which, instead of being considered and disposed of on Tuesday, as we had every reason then to believe and expect, has been adjourned for consideration until this day. The result is that both Bills have been set down for consideration on the same day—one in the other House and one in this House. Now, I think it is absolutely impossible for this House to proceed with the consideration of the present Bill, with any degree of satisfaction, until it is in possession of the 40 final shape which the Municipal Franchise Bill is to take in "another place." It was on these grounds that I moved the adjournment of the debate on Monday, and since then the second of those grounds has become of considerable importance.
§ MR. DE COBAIN (Belfast, E.)
As one of the Members for Belfast, I wish to state the feeling which I entertain upon this matter. I am perfectly ready to say that, as far as I can understand the conclusion which the House arrived at in regard to this question on a previous occasion, it was that, in the mind of the House, it was our duty to give the people of Belfast popular control over the public expenditure. It appears to me that the action taken by the House of Lords in reference to the Franchise Bill, which would enable the ratepaying class of Belfast to give full expression to their opinion in regard to the merits of this measure, has practically rescinded the decision arrived at in this House. If there was any undertaking in regard to the course to be taken in reference to the Main Drainage Bill, it was accompanied by an undertaking, on behalf of the promoters of the measure, that the Franchise Bill, which is now in the House of Lords, should be before this House before any final decision was arrived at. There was a clear understanding that if the Franchise Bill was passed in an unobjectionable form, we in this House were quite ready to allow the Main Drainage Bill to pass. But the promoters of the Main Drainage Bill in the House of Lords, who are the friends of the Corporation of Belfast, have endeavoured to defer the operation of the Franchise Bill until November, 1888; and our view is that if the Franchise Bill cannot be brought into immediate operation, and the whole of the ratepaying classes cannot have the power of dealing with the question on the 25th of next November, all the objections we have expressed to the passing of the Drainage Bill, in the absence of a complete control over the execution of the works by the inhabitants, will be defeated. If, on the contrary, it is provided that the opinions of the ratepayers shall be clearly expressed on the 25th of November next, all our objections to the immediate passing of the present measure will be removed, and I should then be disposed strongly to advise the House to pass the Bill. I 41 received a copy of a resolution passed I unanimously by the Corporation of Belfast, in which they asked the Members for the borough of Belfast to support the immediate passing of the "Franchise Act," which was to extend the municipal register of that borough. After passing this resolution to meet the eye of the people of Belfast, the representatives of the Corporation went to the House of Lords, to get that House to delay the operation of the Franchise Act, so that the Main Drainage Bill might have a start of it by nearly a year and a half. I consider that to be a most perfidious breach of faith with the working classes of Belfast, but perfectly in harmony with the course the promoters of both measures have pursued from the first. I think the House ought to he able to trust the people of Belfast; and I respectfully submit that the inhabitants of that borough have quite as strong a claim upon the consideration of both Houses of Parliament as the Corporation—a privileged class who are the promoters of this main drainage scheme. If a guarantee is given by the promoters of the Bill that the expenditure involved in carrying out the drainage scheme will be placed immediately under the control of the ratepayers, then I am prepared to consent to the passing of the present Bill; but if no such guarantee is given, I trust the House will agree to the Motion for adjourning the debate.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)
Having voted in favour of the previous adjournment of the consideration of this Bill, I desire now to express a hope that the House will not consent to a further adjournment, and I will state, in a few words, why I take that ground. A great many Members consented to the adjournment of the Bill on account of the state of the borough franchise in Belfast. A measure to remedy that state of the franchise has passed through this House, and is now before the other House of Parliament. It is quite true that in "another place" Amendments have been made of which I and others do not approve; but those Amendments will have to come back here for the sanction of this House before they can become law, and the promoters of the Bill have done everything in their power to meet the wishes and aims of the hon. Member for West Belfast. Indeed, they have consented to insert in the Bill a clause which will enable and entitle 42 every ratepayer in Belfast to vote "Aye" or "No" whether one farthing shall be expended in carrying out the provisions of the Franchise Bill or not. Under these circumstances, I earnestly hope that the House will not consent to postpone the Bill one day longer. The measure is earnestly needed in Belfast, and it ought to be allowed to pass at once.
§ MR. EWART (Belfast, N.)
I will not detain the House for more than a moment. I only wish to say that the hon. Member for West Belfast (Mr. Sexton) has entirely failed to meet the arguments which have been brought forward in favour of going on with the Bill. On the last occasion when the Bill was under discussion, I pointed to the fact that it was impossible to get the new Burgess Roll ready in time for the next election in November, and that the risk would be run of bringing the town affairs of Belfast to a deadlock. I pass over the abusive observations of the hon. Member for West Belfast; but, in reply to the remarks of the hon. Member for East Mayo (Mr. Dillon), I wish to say that the promoters of the Bill are not responsible for the delay which has occurred in the House of Lords. Some allusion has been made to a noble Lord having been employed by the Town Council of Belfast to take charge of the matter in the House of Lords; but I think I might retort on hon. Members opposite and say that the noble Lord who has been employed by the opponents to take charge of their interests was the very person who moved the adjournment of the consideration of the Franchise Bill from Monday last until to-day. Consequently, the promoters of the Bill are in no way responsible for the delay which has occurred. If the House of Lords make any Amendments in the Franchise Bill which are not palatable to this House, the House will have an opportunity of dealing with them when the Bill comes down here. I believe that the clause which I propose will meet all the objections of the hon. Member behind me (Mr. De Cobain). It places the entire power in the hands of the constituency, who will be able to say when and how the Bill is to be brought into operation.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 164; Noes 178: Majority 14,—(Div. List, No. 288.)43
§ Original Question again proposed, "That the Lords' Amendments be now taken into Consideration."—(Mr. Ewart.)
§ THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES (Mr. COURTNEY) (Cornwall, Bodmin)
On the question of the consideration of the Lords' Amendments, it may, perhaps, save a little time if I am allowed to make a short statement. The House will remember that when this Bill was originally before us clauses were inserted in it dealing with the municipal franchise of Belfast—a matter which, at the time, I thought was foreign to the subject-matter of the Bill, and I opposed their insertion. Nevertheless, the House agreed to those clauses, and the Bill went up to the House of Lords, where they were struck out. Substantially, therefore, a great change was made in the Bill, and the matter came back to this House for reconsideration. It was then argued with great force, and I thought with great substantiality, that it was improper that the important works which were to be undertaken under the provisions of the Bill should be conducted under the auspices of a Town Council elected by a very restricted franchise. It was suggested, in order to avoid what was conceived to be the impropriety of entrusting the execution of the works to a Corporate Body elected upon the basis of a narrow franchise, that another Bill should be brought in dealing with the municipal franchise in Ireland, and that the existing municipal franchise should be reduced throughout the whole of the boroughs of Ireland. On the understanding that a Bill of that character should be promoted as rapidly as possible the consideration of the Lords' Amendments to the present Bill was suspended, and this House ultimately arrived at conditions under which the main drainage scheme might be set going, with a proper control of the expenditure on the part of the ratepayers of Belfast. The Franchise Bill, however, was cut down, in the first instance, from a measure which dealt with the boroughs of Ireland generally to one which dealt with the borough of Belfast alone. Such a measure, however, would secure that the popular control should still be exercised in regard to these works; and, therefore, it was considered that the Bill might be allowed to go on, and the Lords' Amendments be accepted. The Bill 44 which deals with the municipal franchise of Belfast was introduced into this House by the promoters of the Drainage Bill, and it passed this House with a clause in it making the first election of the full Town Council of Belfast come into operation during the present year. In that form the Franchise Bill went up to the other House of Parliament. What hon. Members below the Gangway on this side of the House objected to was that the Town Council of Belfast, in an unreformed and unregenerate condition, should be allowed to exercise control over these drainage works. But objection has now been taken that it is impossible to complete a new Burgess Roll this year, so as to secure the election of a Town Council in November next upon the proposed new and extended municipal franchise. Therefore, as I understand, an alteration has been made in the provisions of the Bill in "another place" delaying for one year the election of the Town Council upon the new and extended franchise. Of course, if that stood alone without any further change, and the Lords' Amendments to this Bill were accepted, we should again lose what has been substantially aimed at throughout the consideration of this measure; we should entrust the existing Town Council of Belfast with the power of carrying out this great scheme, although it may not possess the confidence of the ratepayers, and although it may not act for the public good of the city. There may be great force in the allegation which is made as to the difficulty of making up the Burgess Roll this year, and there may be good ground for an Amendment, in consequence, postponing the election of the new Town Council until next year. This question, however, arises—namely, what is to be done with this Bill? Can we assent to the Lords' Amendments in this Bill and give the existing Town Council unrestricted control over these drainage works? That is the substantial question we have to consider. A clause is now about to be submitted to the House for consideration which you, Sir, have admitted to be in Order, and I have no doubt that it is in Order, because it is consequential in substance, if not altogether in form, with, the provisions of the Bill so far as the Lords' Amendments are concerned. That clause is intended, and I conceive that it would secure, the complete control of the 45 ratepayers of Belfast over the execution of these works. The clause provides that—No action shall be taken for liability incurred in respect of the works by this Act authorized unless or until the execution of such works has the consent of the owners and ratepayers of the borough to he expressed by resolution in the manner directed by Schedule 3 of the Public Health Act, 1875, which, for the purpose of such resolution, shall be read and have effect as applicable to the borough and as if the expression 'ratepayers' meant all persons liable to the payment of the general purposes rate or the borough rate.If this clause is adopted it will have the effect of bringing into operation what is commonly known as the Borough Funds Act, and nothing can be done under the Bill until there has been a poll, and the wishes of the ratepayers have been consulted—not a restricted body of ratepayers, but ratepayers under the largest and widest possible franchise getting rid altogether of questions which relate to compounding and quasi-compounding for the rates, which, I believe, is largely the custom in the borough of Belfast. Therefore, what is aimed at by those who are in favour of the decision, in regard to the execution of the drainage works, being given to the ratepayers at large will be secured by the adoption of this clause, although it may be found that the reconstitution of the Town Council of Belfast, according to the Franchise Bill as it may come back from the House of Lords, will be postponed for a year on the ground of the technical difficulty of getting a new Burgess Roll completed before November. If the Franchise Bill conies back to this House in that form, surely there will be secured to the ratepayers of Belfast complete control over the execution of these works, because it is provided by the clause which the hon. Member for North Belfast intends to propose that nothing shall be done and no liability incurred unless there shall have been a meeting of the ratepayers held previously under the Borough Funds Act. I am quite aware that hon. Members who think that the subject dealt with by the Drainage Bill ought not to be settled by an unreformed Town Council are, in consequence, disinclined to part with thy measure, believing that if they do so part with it the powers conferred under it may be exercised before the salutary changes to be effected by the Municipal Franchise Bill can be introduced. I quite understand the position of hon. 46 Gentlemen who hold those views; but I think that their objection is met by the amending clause which stands on the Paper.
§ MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W.)
The hon. Gentleman the Chairman of Committees may be able to read these things better than I do; but I do not think he is quite as well acquainted with the character of the Corporation of Belfast and their furtive methods of proceeding as I am, or he would not consider that the clause proposed by the hon. Member for North Belfast is any security whatever. By the simple method of calling a meeting, which the Corporation of Belfast are quite capable of doing, to consider the proposed execution of these drainage works at an hour when it would be impossible for large numbers of the owners and ratepayers of the borough to be present, the object and intention of the clause might be altogether defeated.
§ MR. SEXTON
But the poll, also, may be taken at a most inconvenient hour. Nothing would be easier than, by a device of that kind, to defeat the intentions of this Bill. I am most unwilling, therefore, to part with the security of an extended Burgess Roll for any other security whatever. Let me point out how this clause, which the Chairman of Ways and Means admires so much, is likely to be carried out. The Lagan Pollution Committee is composed of certain Orangemen who follow the lead of hon. Gentlemen opposite, and they held a meeting on the 1st of July, at which they passed a Resolution requesting the Town Council not to study the convenience of the ratepayers, but to act, in regard to this measure, in. direct opposition to the declared wishes of the people of Belfast. The action of the Town Council is not only unfair, but inconsistent, seeing that they are creating a difficulty as to the point of time where none really exists. There is a fear on the part of the people of Belfast that in reference to the proposed adoption of Schedule 3 of the Public Health Act efforts are still being made to place in the hands of the existing Town Council the power of spending the money involved in the execution of the drainage works. That is the whole secret of the matter. The Town Council has endea- 47 voured throughout, in a stealthy manner, to obtain complete control over the spending of this money, and I protest against their being able to secure what they desire by having recourse to any mean and underhand device. There can be no two opinions that the interests of the Town Council are directly adverse to those of the ratepayers, and I shall certainly resist the Lords' Amendments in this Bill to the utmost. The real objection of the Town Council to the adoption of an extended and revised franchise is not an objection which applies to this year, but to every year. Let me call attention to the extraordinary conduct of the promoters of the Bill in this House last year, although they have always contended that the measure is urgently required in order to preserve the health of the borough. They declared last year that rather than allow the franchise to be reformed they were prepared to lose the Drainage Bill altogether. Bather than allow the people of Belfast to have the control of their own affairs they preferred to allow 200,000 people to be poisoned every year. By an Amendment inserted at their own instance in the Belfast Municipal Franchise Bill, the time of qualification for a vote is changed from the last day of August to the first day of January in each year. The notices in reference to a Parliamentary vote are similar to those for municipal purposes, and the Parliamentary list will afford a general basis for the municipal list, because the qualifications are almost identical. The number of inhabitants included in each is from 25,000 to 30,000, and one list is quite sufficient for the two qualifications. Lord Erne, in the House of Peers, inserted an Amendment which ought to put an end to any difficulty, seeing that it provides that the Mayor shall appoint revising barristers to carry out the work of preparing the Burgess Roll on the 20th of July. The Burgess Roll, consequently, ought to be completed in adequate time to allow the election of the Town Council, on the new list, to take place on the 25th of November, a period of four months. Why should there be more difficulty in revising the municipal list than in revising the Parliamentary list? The Mayor's assessors can appoint revising barristers at once; they will have ample time to do so. I would myself undertake to go to Belfast 48 and revise the Municipal Bill in three weeks, without assistance, and under the Franchise Bill four months are left in which the work can be done. It is an attempt to give new life to a condemned body of men—a moribund Town Council—so as to enable them, by an effete vote, to control the expenditure of £500,000. I leave it to the majority which has just opposed the Motion I made for the adjournment of the debate to consider whether it is worth while to force me to proceed to-day with the opposition I propose to offer to the Lords' Amendments, in regard to which opposition I am unable to say, at the present moment, whether I am right or not. The Franchise Bill may leave the Lords in such a shape as may render it unnecessary for me to move Amendments, or it may leave it in such a shape as to compel me to do so. At the present moment the Government are not in a position to apply the clôture to this discussion. I warn them that they had better make arrangements to increase their 174 supporters to 200, for they will certainly not succeed in carrying the Lords' Amendments to this Bill, unless they take some effectual steps to close the discussion upon them.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT (Derby)
I would ask if it is possible to discuss this Main Drainage Bill in the absence of the Franchise Bill? As I understand the case, it is this. This Main Drainage Bill was made dependent, to a very great extent, upon the Franchise Bill. But we are now told that when the Franchise Bill comes down from the House of Lords it will contain a clause postponing its operation until next year. That, on the face of it, may not appear unreasonable; but I cannot say so until we have the Bill before us, together with the Amendments which have been made in it, and hear the grounds upon which those Amendments are supported. Hon. Members who are in favour of this Bill, and opposed to further adjournment, say that we can deal with the Lords' Amendments to the Franchise Bill when that Bill comes down. That is all very well; but who is to deal with the Lords' Amendments, supposing that we have given up our control over this Bill, and we send back the Franchise Bill with an intimation that we have disagreed with the Lords' Amendments? In that case, it would only be for the House of Lords 49 to insist on their Amendments to secure that the opponents of the Franchise Bill should obtain all they want. If we once pass this Drainage Bill before the Franchise Bill reaches the House of Commons, we can have no security that we should be able to secure local self-government for the town of Belfast in time to give the ratepayers control over the large expenditure of public money which is involved in the present Bill. I maintain that it is only a reasonable proposal to give to the ratepayers of Belfast, and to remove out of the hands of the present Local Authorities, the full control over the execution of the franchise works and the cost which will be incurred in connection with them. Surely it is not intended to treat a question of this kind as a Party question. We are dealing with what is purely a local demand, and what in any English borough is granted as a matter of course. You are going to give a now and extended franchise to the inhabitants of Belfast, and the existing Corporation of that town object to it, and, perhaps, not unnaturally. Therefore, it is desirable that this House should not part with the Drainage Bill altogether, leaving ourselves helpless in reference to the Franchise Bill. It has been pointed out that the argument adduced on the other side in favour of postponing the operation of the Franchise Bill—namely, the difficulty of preparing a now Burgess List, is altogether without foundation. I have shown that you cannot deal with the Lords' Amendments now. In the first place, you might find it necessary to disagree with them. If you do so, the Bill must go back to the House of Lords, and the Lords might insist upon their Amendments, in which case the Bill would be abandoned. I think we ought to have some absolute security that the Amendments postponing the operation of the Franchise Bill are unreasonable and ought not to appear in it. Until we have that security we ought not to part with the present Bill. I believe there are Gentlemen in this House who can answer for the Corporation of Belfast. Then let them get up and give an assurance that they will offer no objection to the Franchise Bill coming into operation at once, so that the next municipal election in November may be taken an the new franchise. If they can do that, we shall be able to get on with our 50 business. If they decline to do so, then we must form our own conclusions, and take our own securities. I have thought it necessary to make these remarks in connection with this matter. As the House is aware, I am not accustomed to take part in the discussion of Private Bills; but in this case the discussion is mixed up with the consideration of an important public question, and I think, in the interests of local self-government; in Ireland, we ought not to refuse the reasonable demand which is made by the hon. Member for West Belfast.
§ COLONEL SAUNDERSON Armagh, N.)
Some time ago I myself brought in a Bill for the purpose of extending the franchise in order to include a larger number of the ratepayers of Belfast; and I, for one, am entirely opposed to parting with this Bill until we have an absolute certainty that the Franchise Bill will come down from the House of Lords in such a shape as to be entirely satisfactory to the ratepayers of Belfast, who, I believe, are naturally opposed to the expenditure of this large sum of money without having a distinct voice in the matter. For my own part, I cannot see that the delay of a few days I can have any serious effect upon the passing of the Bill. At the same time I am indisposed to get rid, out of our own hands, of that leverage which we at present possess, of forcing the Lords to send down to us the Franchise Bill in such a form as will render it acceptable to the people of Belfast. Therefore, I, for one, am ready to support the hon. Member for West Belfast (Mr. Sexton) in opposing the Motion for the consideration of the Amendments in the Drainage Bill until we have the Municipal Franchise Bill fully before us.
§ MR. CHANCE (Kilkenny, S.)
The hon. Gentleman the Chairman of Ways and Means has warned us that under the Belfast Franchise Bill, as reconstructed in the House of Lords, no election can take place on the extended franchise during the present year. He has further said that the ground on which that somewhat peculiar reconstruction of the franchise has taken place is that it is found impossible to prepare a new Burgess Boll this year. I was very much surprised to hear that statement, but I am not surprised to find that an attempt has been made to delay the operation of the Bill for 51 another year. Now, as a matter of fact, no step whatever, whether preliminary or otherwise, can be taken towards the formation of a new Burgess Roll until after the expiration of a particular date; and, therefore, the lateness of the time at which the Bill is passed is absolutely immaterial. I have had personal experience in this matter, and I say that the statement that there will exist any difficulty in preparing the Burgess Roll is utterly and completely unfounded. A more unfounded statement I never heard in my life, and I hope the hon. Gentleman the Chairman of Ways and Means, who made it, will tell us upon what authority he made it, and give us at least one reason, however paltry, in support of it. The hon. Gentleman went on to make a still more extraordinary statement. He told us that we have repeatedly postponed the consideration of the Drainage Bill for one object, and one object alone—namely, that the ratepayers of Belfast should have effective control over the expenditure of this £500,000. He then went on to say that effective control would be given to the ratepayers for the expenditure by the new clause which the hon. Member for North Belfast proposes to insert in the Drainage Bill. Now, that is a clause which directs the Corporation of Belfast to take a sort of mock plébiscite under the Public Health Act of 1875, and there are two observations which I desire to make upon that clause. The first is, that under the clause the nonresident ratepayers, who do not earn their money in Belfast, will be able to swamp the votes of the resident ratepayers of the borough. Let me point out another objection. What will be the question put to the people when the plebiscite is taken? It will be simply a question of "Yes" or "No," and having voted ''Yes" or "No" the ratepayers will lose every particle of control over the expenditure of the money. That is very different from the control which the people of Belfast will obtain if they get an extended franchise, and are able to send their own representatives to the Town Council, retaining in their own hands that control over their representatives which the knowledge that further elections will be brought about usually secures. Secondly, the ratepayers of Belfast would, under the extended franchise, have by right a substantial con- 52 trol which would enable them to govern the expenditure of this £500,000 at every stage. The last observation I have to make is this. We are asked now to part with this Bill—we are asked to part with our sole guarantee for the passing of any franchise whatever? We are not in reality dealing with the question whether the people of Belfast are to have an extended franchise now or next year. That is a pure technicality and fiction. The question is whether they are to have a real franchise or none at all; and if this Bill is allowed to pass now, I venture to predict that the Lords will disagree with any Amendments of this House in which we may be compelled to express our disagreement with their Amendments. In that case, the result would inevitably be that the Bill would be thrown out, and the solo opportunity which the people of Belfast have of getting an extended franchise would be defeated. The effect would practically be that the repeated votes we have given in this House, from a sense of justice, towards the people of Belfast will have been absolutely thrown away, and a long series of years may elapse before we may be in a position again to compel the other House to act fairly towards a class of people who deserve consideration and fair treatment quite as much as the other class which the House of Lords have taken under their protection. The course which this House takes on the drainage question means franchise or no franchise in Belfast; and I hope the House will not be led away by any ingenious technicalities. If the question is treated by hon. Members in a spirit of fair play, and not as a Party question, I am sure we shall be successful in doing for the people of Belfast what Her Majesty's Government ought to have done long ago of their own motion.
§ MR. JOHNSTON (Belfast, S.)
I think the right hon. Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt) and my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for North Armagh (Colonel Saunderson) cannot have read the clause which has been placed on the Paper by my hon. Friend the Member for North Belfast (Mr. Ewart), which gives the entire control over the expenditure which is to be incurred under this Bill to the ratepayers of the borough. It will be 53 necessary to insert an advertisement in all the local newspapers, and notices will have to be posted up on all the churches and chapels convening a meeting of the ratepayers. It will, therefore, be impossible to hold a hole-and-corner meeting; and it will be competent for anyone to demand a poll, when every ratepayer of Belfast will be able to record his vote as to whether this expenditure shall be incurred under the drainage scheme or not. It has already been pointed out that a noble Lord in "another place," who was formerly Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, was the cause of the postponement of the Municipal Franchise Bill, and that the postponement was not the consequence of any action taken by the promoters of the main drainage scheme. In my opinion, the citizens of Belfast have been made to suffer in their health in order that hon. Gentlemen opposite may be able to pose as the advocates of an extended franchise. I am as sincere a supporter of an extended franchise as any hon. Gentleman below the Gangway on the opposite side; and, therefore, I hope the House will not accept the suggestion of the right hon. Member for Derby and the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh. I do not believe in the infallible leadership of anyone; and on this occasion I cannot follow the hon. and gallant Member for North Armagh. I hope the House will not consent to any further postponement of the question, especially when the Town Council of Belfast have declared their full intention of acting in a bonâ fide manner, and of giving the ratepayers every practical control over the expenditure. Indeed, I am prepared to pledge myself, on their behalf, that if the clause which has been placed upon the Paper by the hon. Member for North Belfast is inserted in the Bill, it will be acted upon by the Town Council of Belfast in that spirit of perfect good faith which has always characterized their action.
§ MR. M. J. KENNY (Tyrone, Mid)
The only manner in which the Belfast Town Council can act with fairness upon the question is to give the ratepayers of the borough an opportunity of deciding by their vote. Originally, in the Municipal Franchise Bill, very excellent machinery was provided for the election of the Town Council. But the friends of the Belfast Town Council, in 54 "another place," struck out the whole of that machinery; and now the hon. Member for North Belfast proposes to insert a new clause, which is of an entirely illusory character. I will show the House how that is so. An extended franchise for Belfast will cover something like 30,000 ratepayers. It is proposed to have a plébiscite under the 3rd Schedule of the Public Health Act, which provides for the calling of a general aggregate meeting of ratepayers. Now, if the whole of the population of Belfast were to meet in order to decide the question of controlling the expenditure of this £500,000 under the 3rd Schedule of the Public Health Act, there would be 30,000 persons present; and I should like to know how it would be possible to pack them in the Town Hall of Belfast, which is not capable of holding more than 1,000? All that ex-Mayor Harland would have to do would be to bring down 600 men from his own works and pack the meeting, when the question would at once be decided against the interests of the majority of the ratepayers; and, therefore, the proposal of the hon. Member, seeing that the original machinery provided by the Bill has been struck out by his friends in "another place," is totally misleading, and would leave the people of Belfast in an infinitely worse position than that which they occupy at present. Therefore I ask the House not to part with the sole security they now have that the people of Belfast will be allowed a fair control in regard to the question.
§ MR. DE COBAIN (Belfast, E.)
I cannot help feeling that the Chairman of Ways and Means, for whose fairness, fearlessness, and sense of right in the discharge of his duty, I entertain the highest respect, is mistaken upon this particular question. In the first instance, the adoption of the Lords' Amendments in the Franchise Bill will delay the election of a new Town Council in Belfast under an extended franchise, not for 12 months, but for 18 months, seeing that the new election cannot take place until the 25th of November next year. Therefore this important scheme, with the large expenditure of money it involves, would have the start of a year and a quarter of those popular privileges which ought fairly to control the expenditure of the money. I confess that I do not often find a com 55 mon ground of agreement with, the observations which fell from the right hon. Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt); but certainly I think the remark he made, that this ought not to be considered a Party question, is one which we ought all to agree with. I have been reproached for the attitude I have taken in acting in concert with the hon. Member for West Belfast (Mr. Sexton). I wish to say honestly, plainly, and frankly, that because I differ from the hon. Member and others who sit below the Gangway on the other side of the House in regard to questions affecting the well-being of the Empire, nevertheless, so far as they advocate just and wise measures affecting their own country, I am altogether in concert with them. I must say that I consider this argument a most mean and contemptible one. Why, because the hon. Member for West Belfast happens to differ from me upon the question of the unity of the Empire, ought I to oppose him upon some other question which, we view from a common standpoint and a common platform, and why should we be debarred from acting together for the promotion of the public good? Such an argument is entirely unworthy of the good sense and intelligence of the House of Commons. As far as I am concerned, I have never allowed my public position to descend into that of a mere partizan. I shall always advocate public questions on public grounds, and. I shall, as far as I can, decide the merits of such questions on the abstract principle of justice, altogether apart from the consideration of the persons by whom they are advocated or opposed. It appears to me that if the suggestion thrown out by the right hon. Member for Derby is acted upon, we might bring these long controversies to a final conclusion. The suggestion he made was one that was characterized by equity and fairness—namely, that we should relegate to the ratepaying class of Belfast, to whom we extend, for the first time, the municipal privileges they have hitherto been exceptionally deprived of, the duty of re-electing the Corporation upon an extended basis, and of allowing them to deal with the question of the public expenditure to be incurred under this measure. I think it would be unfair and unjust that a moribund Corporation, elected on the basis of a narrow franchise, should deal with a 56 question which involves the expenditure of money to the extent of £500,000 and an augmentation of taxation to the extent of 20 per cent. I hope, therefore, the House will see that, as an act of fair play and justice to the ratepayers of Belfast, it is desirable to defer the final consideration of the present Bill until the ratepayers are invested with their full municipal rights. I think the hon. Member for West Belfast has fairly stated the case. We are not fighting this Bill. On the contrary, we sympathize with the object which, the promoters of it have in view. So far as the hon. Member himself is concerned, I believe that throe out of every four of the people of Belfast who will be benefited by the extension of municipal privileges are opposed to him in politics, and also in religion; hence the ground which he has taken is a chivalrous ground, and I cannot understand why the promoters of the Bill, who profess to be in touch with the majority of the people of Belfast, and who hold identical religious and political sentiments, should desire to bar that door, which the hon. Member for West Belfast and myself desire to throw wide open, in order that they may enjoy their full municipal rights and privileges.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)
I only desire to point out that the silence of hon. Members representing the Town Council of Belfast with regard to the appeal made to them by the right hon. Member for Derby (Sir William Harcourt) is a conclusive reason why the Lords' Amendments should not now be considered. It is no unreasonable pledge to give, if the Corporation of Belfast have no arrière pensée in the matter, and mean to carry out, bonâ fide, what has been suggested.
§ SIR JAMES CORRY (Armagh, Mid)
The hon. Member for West Belfast has threatened the House that if it will not consent to a postponement he will keep hon. Members here all night discussing the Lords' Amendments.
§ SIR JAMES CORRY
I am as earnest in desiring an extension of the franchise to the ratepayers of Belfast as the hon. Member, and I promoted the Municipal Franchise Bill, and carried it through, this House. No doubt, Amendments were introduced into it while it was 57 passing through this House, which I knew would render it unworkable, and the consequence is that there is no possibility whatever of the Burgess Roll being revised in time for the election which will take place on the 25th of November next. In Belfast, on property rated at £8 and under, the rates are paid by the owner, and not by the occupier; and, therefore, the names of the occupiers do not appear in any rate-book now in existence. That is a reason which renders it perfectly impossible to carry the Franchise Extension Bill into operation this year. The rates are struck on the 1st of January in each year; and, therefore, the present rate-books cannot contain the names of the new burgesses. But when the Bill comes down from the House of Lords containing a clause to postpone the election until next year, I would propose, as a compromise, although, seeing the urgency of this measure, the Town Council might not feel disposed to do so themselves, that a clause should be inserted in the Bill to provide that the main drainage scheme shall not come into operation until the new election has taken place next year. If such a clause is proposed, then, on behalf of the Corporation of Belfast, I shall not offer any opposition to it, and in that way I hope the whole question may be settled. It is perfectly impossible for the Burgess Roll to be revised in a satisfactory way, so as to enable the new Town Council to be elected upon it in the present year. But, as I have said, I am quite prepared, on my part, to give every assistance I can to the postponement of the drainage scheme until next year, although I am of opinion that it is urgently necessary to carry it out as speedily as possible. If this suggestion is adopted, I believe the ratepayers will get all the control they can desire in regard to the expenditure of the money.
§ MR. MAURICE HEALY (Cork)
I wish to give the most absolute contradiction to the assertion that there would be any difficulty created by a provision in the Franchise Bill requiring the preparation of the Burgess List for Belfast to be completed in time for the next municipal election. I claim to speak with some knowledge and authority upon the point, as I have myself been largely concerned in the conduct of municipal matters in Ireland. So far from making the preparation of the Bur- 58 gess Roll more difficult, the Bill which is now in "another place" would render it more simple, and would afford to the local officials facilities for the preparation of the Roll which have not been enjoyed hitherto. Let me point out to the House what goes on. The ordinary period at which the qualification for the municipal franchise is gained is the year ending on the 31st of August. The Bill which is now in "another place," in consequence of an Amendment introduced into it by my hon. Friend the Member for West Belfast (Mr. Sexton), provides that the period of qualification, so far as the borough of Belfast is concerned, shall be the year ending on the 20th of July. "What is the effect of that? It is impossible for the authorities to commence the preparation of the Burgess List until the period of qualification has closed; consequently, although under the existing law it would be impossible for the Municipal Authorities to commence the preparation of the Burgess Roll before the 31st of August, yet, owing to the Amendment of my hon. Friend, they will be able to commence it after the 20th of July, so that they have five or six weeks more to commence the preparation under the provision of my hon. Friend than under the ordinary law. Perhaps the House will allow me to call attention to another fact. Every difficulty that can exist in regard to the preparation of the Burgess List, under the Bill as it now stands, will equally exist next year, and in every subsequent year. The reason is, that the dates which the authorities are to observe in preparing the list of voters are fixed by Act of Parliament, and those dates will be enforced, and will be the law next year just as they are now. The period for commencing the preparation of the Burgess List will be exactly the same next year as this. If the Amendment of my hon. Friend is allowed to remain as it does, changing the day of qualification from the 31st of August until the 20th of July, it may be possible to commence the preparation of the list after the 20th of this month. The present authorities will not get a day longer if the preparation of the list is postponed until next year, because the day of qualification will still be the 20th of July, and they cannot set about the preparation of the list a single day earlier than they could set about pre- 59 paring it now. More than that, the period within which, the work must be done would be exactly the same. Only the same number of days will be allowed next year as will be allowed in this. So much for the argument founded upon the difficulty of preparing the Burgess Roll, which I assert to be the most impudent of all the pretences which have been set up by the Corporation of Belfast, not as bonâ fide grounds of delay, but as a mere pretext for staving off the evil day when the mass of the people of Belfast are to acquire control over their local affairs. There is only one other observation I desire to make, and it is this—that the course of procedure which is provided by the proposed new clause is a course of procedure which hitherto has not existed in Ireland as far as I am aware, but which it is proposed to import into that country from an English Act, the terms of which do not apply to Ireland at all. The Schedule of the Public Health Act of 1875 makes this provision—
§ MR. SPEAKER
I feel obliged to interrupt the hon. Member. I must remind him that it will not be in Order to discuss any particular clause in the Public Health Act. What the House has now to consider are the Lords' Amendments to the Main Drainage Bill.
§ MR. MAURICE HEALY
I quite appreciate the point you make, Sir, and I shall not further address the House on that subject. The hon. Baronet who has just sat down (Sir James Corry) has told us he would offer no objection to an alteration of the Bill now in "another place" when it comes back to us, so as to allow the municipal franchise to come into operation before the drainage works are commenced next year. My reply to that proposal is, that the offer will not adequately meet the exigencies of the case. It is not a question of what the hon. Baronet likes or dislikes, or what he is willing to do or is not willing to do. The question is—Will he pledge himself to use his influence with his friends in "another place" to induce them to take the same line of action? The offer he has made is one which only binds himself, and his friends in ''another place" would have very little difficulty in disregarding it when the result of our action here is brought before them again for review.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH) (Strand, Westminster)
I understand that there is a common understanding between both sides of the House that the Franchise Bill should come down to this House from "another place" before the House parts with this Bill. That being the case—and having paid careful attention to the matter I understand that to be the arrangement—I would strongly advise my hon. Friend to postpone the further consideration of this Bill until we get the Franchise Bill from the other House. It will then be possible for us to carry out any understanding that may be arrived at as between the two sides of the House. Such a course would, in my opinion, be fair and reasonable, and it would save the time of the House. I hope my hon. Friends will accept that suggestion.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
Yes; I will move that the consideration of the Lords' Amendments be further postponed until Tuesday next.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and add the words "upon Tuesday next."—(Mr. W. H. Smith.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ MR. EWART (Belfast, N.)
rose amid cries of "Agreed !" The hon. Member said: I cannot agree with the statement that an engagement was entered into that the Franchise Bill should come down to this House before the Drainage Bill was passed. ["Oh!"] The engagement was that progress should have been made with the Franchise Bill. However, in deference to the appeal which has been made by the Leader of the House, I will cheerfully acquiesce in his suggestion.
§ MR. SEXTON
May I respectfully ask that "Thursday" should be substituted for "Tuesday?" Although the Franchise Bill may be reported, it may not be read a third time to-morrow or Monday; and, therefore, we have no security that it will have come down here by Tuesday.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
There would be no objection to a further postponement if the Franchise Bill does not come down by Tuesday.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ Words "upon Tuesday next" added.
§ Main Question, as amended, put.
§ Ordered, That the Lords' Amendments be taken into Consideration upon Tuesday next.