HC Deb 08 September 1887 vol 320 cc1843-8

(Mr. Haldane.)

COMMITTEE. [Progress 1st September.]

Bill considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

Clause 1 agreed to.

Clause 2 (All may be admitted by attorney.)

MR. CLANCY) (Dublin Co., N.

I submit that this is no hour to go on with this Bill, especially considering that the Municipal Regulation (Constabulary, &c) (Belfast) Bill has been postponed for another Session, because there is no time to consider it. It is ridiculous to proceed with a Bill like this, to which there may be great opposition. I beg leave to move that the Chairman report Progress, and ask leave to sit again.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Mr. Clancy.)

MR. ELTON (Somerset, Wellington)

I hope the hon. Gentleman the Member for North Dublin will remember that this Bill is a Bill which has been through Committee and through the House for the last four or five years. There is hardly a word in it which has not been settled by the Land Commissioners, who have contributed every necessary Amendment. The measure does not affect Ireland in any way; but in some of the most populated parts of this country it will produce the removal of a great grievance which has been felt for a great many years. It is not a compulsory Bill, as hon. Members are aware, but a permissive one, and its effect will be to alleviate the condition of Lancashire copyholds and to make the enfranchisement of other copyholds easier.

MR. SEXTON) (Belfast, W.

My hon. Friend the Member for North Dublin has pointed out that on the Motion of the Government this morning a very important Bill urgently required concerning the public peace of a part of the United Kingdom has been withdrawn, and the order for it discharged, because there is not time to deal with it this Session, and that in spite of the fact that it was not opposed. That is a strong argument for the same course being taken here. This may be a simple Bill; but, Sir, I notice that you called out the names of several Gentlemen who have Amendments on the Paper, and that no one responded. These hon. Members are not present, and to take the Bill in their absence will probably be to risk passing the measure in an imperfect form.


I have the authority of the hon. Members for the withdrawal of their Amendments.


To proceed with a Bill of this kind, in the absence of hon. Gentleman who have Amendments on the Paper, certainly does not seem to me like legislation. I hope my hon. Friend will press his Motion.

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

I would point out that this Bill has come from the other House. In the case of the Belfast Bill, to which hon. Members opposite refer, it was a measure which originated in this House, and which, therefore, would have to be sent to the other House after it passes through all its stages here. Obviously there would not have been time to pass the measure through both Houses.


The fact of a Bill having come down from the other House is no argument with me in favour of such a Bill, and the fact that a Bill is approved of by the Land Commissioners is likewise no argument with me in its support. I remember making an inquiry last year with regard to those Land Commissioners, and the result of the inquiry was to make me distrust everything which comes down from them. It is ridiculous to be proceeding with such a question as this at 4 o'clock in the morning.

MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)

I should not desire to oppose this Bill under ordinary circumstances. It is in charge of an hon. and learned Friend of mine on the opposite Benches (Mr. Elton). He is now responsible for the measure; but I believe it is much more the legislative offspring of the hon. and learned Member for Haddington (Mr. Haldane) who sits on the other side of the House—I know, at any rate, that that hon. Member takes great interest in the matter. I should be the last person myself to oppose the Bill under ordinary circumstances; but considering the hour of the morning, I think the Motion my hon. Friend the Member for North Dublin has made is only a reasonable one, and I support his proposal that the Chairman report Progress and ask leave to sit again. I think it would be a higher principle than going on with this Bill to refuse to deal with such a proposal at this unseemly hour. I think it would be a higher principle to take that course than to support a Bill merely because it is introduced by a personal Friend of one's own. I think the argument advanced by my hon. Friends on these Benches is strictly pertinent. If there is no time to go on with an important Bill, such as the Belfast Constabulary Bill, I do not see that we have any call to go on with this measure at this hour. As to what has fallen from the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House the right hon. Gentleman knew perfectly well that the Government were pledged to carrying the Belfast Bill.


Order, order!


The argument that the two Bills are not on a parity is not a matter deserving of consideration. The right hon. Gentleman would have found it perfectly possible to have got rid of the opposition to the Belfast Bill if he had wished to do so. Under the circumstances I shall support my hon. Friend.

Question put.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 104; Noes 85: Majority 75.— (Div. List, No. 468.) [4.5 A.M.]

Clause agreed to.

Clause 3 agreed to.

Clause 4 (Lord to retain his right in case of escheat).

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Clause stand part of the Bill."

MR. HALLEY STEWART (Lincolnshire, Spalding)

I beg to move, Sir, that you do now leave the Chair. I protest against legislating on a matter of this kind at 10 minutes past 4 o'clock in the morning.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do now leave the Chair."—(Mr. Halley Stewart.)


May I ask the Government if they really intend to go on with this Bill of 19 pages at this hour of the morning? I ask the hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill does he really expect the Committee to have any intelligent knowledge of what it is doing?


If the hon. Gentleman will allow the Bill to go on until there is opposition to the clauses, I shall be content then to move that Progress be reported. Most of the Amendments on he Paper are withdrawn.

The Committee proceeded to a Division, and the CHAIRMAN stated he thought the Noes had it, and his decision being challenged, he directed the Ayes to stand up in their places, and thirteen Members only having stood up, the CHAIRMAN declared the Noes had it.

Original Question again proposed.


Before the clause passes I think it is desirable to make some observations upon it. This is a Bill which extends over something like 20 pages. There is a separate Paper containing a large number of Amendments. It is most ridiculous to ask us to proceed with such a Bill at this hour (4.15) of the morning. Some of the Amendments—


The hon. Member must speak to the clause.


All I have to say about this particular clause is that I have a very strong objection to it standing part of the Bill. If it is pressed we shall divide against it.


I notice there is an Amendment upon the Paper in the name of the hon. Gentleman the Member for the Penrith Division of Cumberland (Mr. J. W. Lowther) to the effect that the clause should be omitted from the Bill. I think the onus lies with the promoters of the Bill to prove why the clause should remain.


I have great pleasure in answering what the hon. Member has asked me. At first sight it looks as if some privilege were going to be given to the lord of the manor; but this clause is really designed to prevent compensation being given to the lord of the manor under the name of compensation for right to escheat. It was considered that this compensation might very properly be abolished for this reason, that notwithstanding that the landlord was compensated for the right to escheat when the land was turned into freehold, the right to escheat remained. Under these circumstances, it was considered by the persons who introduced this clause that it would be a distinct benefit, and facilitate the enfranchisement of copyhold, to do away with the right to compensation.

Original Question put.

The Committee divided:—Ayes 82; Noes 12: Majority 70.—(Div. List, No. 469).

Clause 5 agreed to.

Clause 6 (Restraint on the creation of new copyholds).

MR. SEXTON) (Belfast, W.

I notice there are two Amendments to this clause, one in the name of an hon. Member on the opposite side of the House—the Member for the Penrith Division of Cumberland (Mr. J. W. Lowther)—and the other in the name of an hon. and learned Gentleman on this side of the House—the Member for Haddington (Mr. Haldane). The Amendments are identical with each other, for they are to leave out all the words after the word "lands," in line 20, to end of the clause. I think an Amendment proposed on both sides of the House must be a very good one. I therefore beg to move it.

Amendment proposed, in page 2, line 20, after "lands," leave out to end of Clause.— (Mr. Sexton.)

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."


The hon. and learned Member for Haddington (Mr. Haldane), whose Amendment stands first on the Paper, wishes to withdraw it.


Is that all the hon. and learned Gentleman wishes to vouchsafe to the Committee?


It is proposed that the new copyholds in future shall not be created without the previous consent of the Land Commissioners.


That is very satisfactory.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause agreed to.

Clauses 7 to 10, inclusive, severally agreed to.

Clause 11 (Amendment of Section 6 of 21 & 22 Vict. c. 94).

Committee report Progress; to sit again To-morrow.