§ MR. ILLINGWORTH (Bradford, W.)
said, that as the Local Government Bill was fixed for a second reading to-morrow, he would ask the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether he would consent to take 1032 the debate on Government nights only? Such an arrangement would be the most convenient to Members and the country generally, as it would enable them to communicate with their constituents during the progress of the debate.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH) (Strand, Westminster)
I desire, of course, to consult, as far as possible, the convenience of hon. Members on both sides of the House in this matter; but when this subject was mentioned before the holidays, I stated, with the concurrence, as I understood, of the right hon. Gentleman the Loader of the Opposition, that as there appeared to be no opposition to the principle of the Bill, and that as its principle was received generally in the country with approval, that I thought it was desirable that we should lose as little time as possible in getting into Committee on the measure. I cannot, therefore, undertake to accept the suggestion of the hon. Member for West Bradford, because it would obviously delay the progress of the Bill for a fortnight and interfere with the progress of Public Business. I should be exceedingly sorry to put any undue limit on the discussion of a Bill of this importance; but, following the precedent adopted when a Bill of great importance is being considered by the House, it appears to me desirable that we should invite the House to consider the Bill from day to day on the second reading, until that stage is disposed of. After that there will be an interval before the House goes into Committee on the measure, and then I hope that the House will consider it in a fair and reasonable manner, there being every indication of a desire on both sides to treat it not as a Party measure.
§ MR. JOHN MORLEY (Newcastle-upon-Tyne)
As the right lion. Gentleman has referred either to a gesture or a sentence of my right hon. Friend the Member for MidLothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone), perhaps I may be allowed to say that, from what has since come to his knowledge as to the state of feeling and opinion on the subject, my right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Lothian no longer holds the opinion, or entertains the hope, that the debate on the second reading can possibly be concluded in the short space of two nights; and probably the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of 1033 the House himself feels that that would be an impossibility. I am sorry that the right hon. Gentleman does not see his way to accept the suggestion of my hon. Friend (Mr. Illingworth), and that he does not recognize that the discussion from day to day of so complex a Bill as this must be much less satisfactory than such a distribution of the debate as would allow of intervals between the daily discussion; but I would support my hon. Friend in what he said, and express the hope that the right hon. Gentleman may still see his way to agree to such an arrangement.
§ SIR WILFRID LAWSON (Cumberland, Cockermouth)
said, he thought that the suggestion of the hon. Member for West Bradford, if adopted, would tend to shorten the discussion on the second reading.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)
said, he supported the appeal made by the hon. Member for West Bradford to the First Lord of the Treasury.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
If the proposal made to us were acted upon, no ether Government Business, practically, could be taken for a week or a fortnight, and the result would be that the Budget proposals of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer must be delayed, and the interests of the Revenue would suffer a loss.
§ MR. HENRY H. FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)
asked, whether there would be a Morning Sitting on Friday?
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
My hon. Friend behind me, who has the only Motion down on the Paper for Friday evening, has offered to give way; and, therefore, there will be no necessity for a Morning Sitting on that day.