HC Deb 05 September 1887 vol 320 cc1328-32

Order for Committee read.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."—(Mr. Attorney General.)

MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)

I want to know how long the Government intend to go on with these things? An important question will arise in connection with this measure.


we only want to get the Speaker out of the Chair.


And we want to discuss the principles of this Bill, which is an exceedingly important one. I protest against your taking it at 4 o'clock in the morning. I shall therefore move the adjournment of the debate.

DR. CLARK (Caithness)

I will second this.

Motion made, and Question put, "That the Debate be now adjourned." — (Mr. Conybeare.)

The House divided:—Ayes 25; Noes 79: Majority 54.—(Div. List, No. 455.)

[4.5 A.M.]

Original Question again proposed.

MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W.)

I think it is time I interposed. My experience is that very frequently in this Session useful Bills of a non-contentious character have been defeated and delayed simply because the Government have not cared to use their influence with their own supporters to get the blocks removed. Now, I am not disposed to allow progress to be made with this Bill. Therefore I move the adjournment of the House.

MR. HUNTER (Aberdeen, E.)

I second that.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."— (Mr. Sexton.)


I can scarcely think that the hon. Member for West Belfast will not adhere to au arrangement which has been come to with reference to certain formal Bills. I made a distinct arrangement with the Representatives of his Party that, upon certain terms which I will strictly adhere to, those Bills which are purely formal should be allowed to pass. I hope the hon. Gentleman will allow it to proceed. I have already undertaken that we will do no more than get the formal step of moving the Speaker out of the Chair. I cannot think the hon. Member will be a party to breaking a bargain which I have made with another Member of his Party—


I am not aware of any such arrangement.


Although our Friends from Ireland may assent, they are not the only persons in this House to be considered. There are a good many of us on this side of the House know nothing of any such arrangement. I have a strong objection to going on with this Bill, and that objection applies still more strongly to the Coroners' Bill, which I suppose will follow—


Order, order ! The hon. Member cannot discuss another Bill.


I was only going to say that, as far as I have been able to examine these Bills, they are very imperfect attempts at codification. I am not going now to point out in what particulars; but I should prefer that these Bills should be thrown over to another Session in order that they may be properly considered.


I hope that the objection will not be persisted in. The hon. Member talked of this as a Codification Bill—it is not that.


No, it is a Consolidation Bill.


It is a Consolidation Bill which puts into one Statute 40 or 50 measures on the Statute Book, and it will enable the revised edition of the Statute to be issued in a cheaper and more convenient form. When I moved the second reading, I said that the Committee stage should be put off for a considerable time in order that it might be fully considered. It has been fully considered by those interested in the matter. There has not been one objection to any single clause. I do hope, therefore, that the hon. Member will withdraw his objection.

MR. CLANCY (Dublin Co., N.)

The hon. and learned Attorney General (Sir Richard Webster) alluded to an arrange- ment having been made with the Irish Members. I am an Irish Member and I heard nothing of it, and the Irish Members here present are prepared to make a similar statement. The hon. and learned Solicitor General says this Bill is of a non-contentious character. Well, practically, the Bill of my hon. Friend the Member for West Belfast (Mr. Sexton) is non-contentious. Is there any guarantee that that Bill will not be blocked in the future?


Order, order ! The hon. Member cannot discuss that.

DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)

I must join issue with the remarks which fell from the hon. and learned Gentle man the Attorney General for England. He stated that some agreement had been entered into. Why, Sir, in pursuit of my Parliamentary functions I tried to prevent this Bill making any further progress. I think we ought to have reciprocity—some proof of that mutual affection which should exist between both sides of this House, from the responsible Minister of the Crown down wards. But, unfortunately, we have failed in that. Mr. Speaker, in the course of last week I tried to impress upon the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury the fact that if he would only let our one little ewe lamb grow up and become—


Order, order ! The hon. Member is trifling with the House.


May I be permitted to say, in as few words as I can, that I tried to enter into some arrangement with the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury, and I succeeded for a time, for he did not try to get three or four stages of different Bills.


Order, order ! The hon. Member's remarks are irrelevent.

MR. FLYNN (Cork, N.)

It is now 20 minutes past 4 o'clock. We have been here since half-past 3 o'clock yesterday afternoon. It is time we went home to our beds. Sir, I entertain a constitutional objection and a rooted dislike to legislating at this hour of the morning. The hon. and learned Attorney General says that this Bill is a non-contentious one. So are our Bills non-contentious, and especially that of my hon. Friend the Member for West Belfast. I trust that he will persist in his Motion for the adjournment of the House. It is an intolerable condition of things, Sir, that hon. Members should be kept here till 3 o'clock or 4 o'clock in the morning, and have to go home at such disreputable hours — hours which do not add to the dignity of the House or of Parliament, and which jeopardize health and everything that makes life worth living for. My hon. Friend's Motion is one which should recommend itself to all sides of the House, to all hon. Members, whether Conservatives, Liberals, or Nationalists. I say, Sir, it is an intolerable state of things that, after endeavouring to do our duty to the best of our ability evening after evening we should be obliged by the perversity and mismanagement of hon. Members opposite to remain here so late.

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

I will ask to be allowed to intervene for one moment. It is perfectly impossible for anyone with a due regard for the character and reputation of this House to enter upon a contest of this character at this time of the morning. I deeply regret that hon. Gentlemen have thought it right to prevent this stage being taken. The Bill is not blocked, and it certainly was understood that it would be allowed to pass this stage without opposition. I will not refer to what has occurred; but I repeat it is undesirable to enter into a contest of this character, a contest which cannot add to the reputation of the House— deeply as that reputation has been lowered by hon. Members opposite.


I suppose the right hon. Gentleman does not object to the adjournment of the House?


No; I agree to the adjournment of the House.


I understand that the Motion before the House is that it now adjourn. Unless that is withdrawn we adjourn the House altogether. Does the right hon. Gentleman undertake not to take any more Business to-night?


I must appeal again to the House, I have said I am anxious to consult the feelings and wishes of hon. Members, especially those from Scotland. If it is not their desire to proceed with the Scotch measures on the Paper, it is not my wish to insist on taking them at this late hour. I will push no measure on the House at this period of the night.


I perceive that some hon. Members desire to proceed, so I withdraw my Motion. But I repeat that I have not heard a syllable of any arrangement with reference to these Bills,

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

Original Question again proposed.

Debate adjourned, till To-morrow.