HC Deb 23 March 1887 vol 312 cc1277-9
THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH) (Strand, Westminster)

On the Motion for Adjournment, I wish to express a hope that there will be no undue delay, and that the House will come to a speedy con-elusion on the preliminary debate on the Motion before it. the Government, as I stated, attach great importance to the measure which they propose to introduce. It is one upon which the existence of the Government is at stake; and, therefore, an early decision on so grave a question is one which we invite the House to take in the interests of the country at large. I have observed with regret that hon. Gentlemen representing, in a more prominent measure, the views of a large section of the Representatives of Ireland have not yet taken part in the debate. I hope they will not refrain from doing so, if it is a question in which they take an interest. I am sure my hon. Friends on this side of the House will refrain, if it be needful for them to do so, so as to afford an opportunity for hon. Members from Ireland taking their full share in the discussion which is now proceeding. At the same time, I am sure the House will admit that this preliminary discussion should be brought to an end without undue and protracted debate; and I believe it will be for the convenience of the House that that course should be taken. I had hoped, from the communication which had passed, it would be possible to have arrived at that conclusion tomorrow evening; but I understand that is not now the view at present held by right hon. Gentlemen opposite. I am most anxious to consult the convenience of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen, and the House generally; but the interests of the country are at stake. [Laughter.] Yes, I say the interests of the country are at stake, and, under the circumstances which I have stated to the House, I trust there will be no undue delay in arriving at a decision.

MR. W. E. GLADSTONE (Edinburgh, Mid Lothian)

I cannot complain of the spirit in which the right hon. Gentleman has addressed the House; but I am sorry that he has thought it necessary to complain that many Gentlemen from Ireland——


I did not complain, but regret——


Well, regret that they have not spoken in this debate. I must confess I think it would have been an unfortunate circumstance if the conduct of the debate had been mainly left in the hands of those who do not represent that country; and I also think there would be a great advantage in the intervention of Representatives from Ireland in the discussion. I certainly should have been very glad to see this debate brought to a close at an early period. But I do not feel that I can go now, without irregularity, into an explanation of the circumstances which, in my opinion, have led to its prolongation. I shall endeavour to do that in the course of the debate. I am afraid it is not possible to come to any understanding that the debate shall close to-morrow. While I hope there will be no disposition on this side of the House to undue prolongation of the debate; on the other hand, I hope right hon. Gentlemen will recollect that the Bill is important, and the fate of the Government is staked upon it; these are reasons why the discussion should not be unduly restricted, and why sufficient intervals should be allowed for the consideration of the Bill before the House is called upon to pronounce a definitive judgment upon it.


The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. II. Smith) has noticed that none of the more prominent Members from Ireland have spoken in the debate. They have not done so for three reasons. In the first place, my hon. Friends have been kept up all the night before the introduction of the Motion in order that money should be voted for the Government. They cannot be expected, therefore, to have spoken yesterday in the discussion after an All-night Sitting. Another reason is that with regard to this day it is not usual for prominent Members of any Party to speak on a Wednesday, unless a private Member's Bill is before the House. We do not desire, many of us, to speak on this Motion; but there are five or six of my hon. Friends, including myself, who desire to have something to say before the Question is put from the Chair. I make this statement on behalf of the Party.

Forward to