Motion made, and Question proposed,
That, until the Government Orders are disposed of, so much of the Standing Order No. 1, Sittings of the House, as relates to the interruption of Business at midnight, the right of objection after midnight, and the Adjournment of the House at One o'clock, be suspended this day and To-morrow."—(Mr. William Henry Smith.)
§ MR. HENRY H. FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)
said, he thought there should be a distinct understanding as to the arrangement. As he understood it, the right hon. Gentleman proposed to proceed that night with the first seven Orders on the Paper—namely, the Oaths Bill, the Indian Budget, the Metropolitan Board of Works (Money) Bill, the Public Works Loan Bill, the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill, the Imperial Defence Bill, and the National Defence Bill, and also with Orders 20, 21, and 23—namely, the Patents, Designs, and Trade Marks Bill, the Hawkers Bill, and the Municipal Funds (Ireland) Bill, and that then the right hon. Gentleman would move the Adjournment of the House. To-morrow (Friday) the Lords' Amendments to the Local Government Bill would be taken as the first Order, and after that the County Courts Consolidation Bill and the Mortmain and Charitable Uses Bill. Assuming that those Orders were gone through that night and to-morrow night, the right hon. Gentleman would not take any further Business, but on Saturday would move the Adjournment of the House.
§ In reply to Questions by Mr. MUNDELLA and Mr. MARJORIBANKS,
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH) (Strand, Westminster)
said, that with the exception that he would be obliged to re- 124 serve to himself the power of delaying the Motion for the Adjournment to a later day than Saturday, if it were necessary to do so, the statement of the right hon. Gentleman was correct. He could assure the right hon. Gentleman that he should be glad to make the Motion for the Adjournment on Saturday, if it was in his power.
§ COLONEL HUGHES (Woolwich)
said, he did not see why a private Member's Bill dealing with the question of Oaths was more urgent than a Bill for putting the London School Board in a proper condition as to its numbers and electoral areas. Because one or two Members said they had an objection to the Bill, why should they absolutely prevent it from coming on? He was appalled at his own audacity in pressing this matter so much upon the amiable Leader of the House; but he hoped the Government would give facilities for the School Board for London Election Bill, inasmuch as the Board spent £1,000,000 out of the rates every year, while the existing 55 members were not sufficient to conduct its business. Accidents happened from overwork in all departments, and financially something might happen if more help were not given to the School Board. The electoral districts were absurdly large. There were only 11 of them.
§ MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! The hon. Gentleman is now rather going into the details of the Bill than urging reasons why it should be proceeded with.
§ COLONEL HUGHES
said, he must protest against a matter of that great importance to the education of the young being put back; for if the Bill were not passed then, London would have to go on under the old régime for another three years. He should throw the responsibility of the delay with the measure upon the House itself, and begged to move that the School Board for London Election Bill be part of the specified Business to which the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman would apply.
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. HOWELL (Bethnal Green, N.E.)
said, he was in favour of the Bill, but 125 he objected to its being included in the list of Orders to be dealt with that night, many of which were of the utmost importance. If the Representatives of the School Beard were so anxious for the passing of this measure, why had they not introduced it two years ago? He objected to the measure being taken after 12 o'clock that night.
§ MR. BYRON REED (Bradford, E.)
said, he greatly objected to the Government giving special facilities to the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh) for carrying a Bill which was generally regarded as being most objectionable and unnecessary. He could not understand why many measures of general importance and interest should be set aside in order to enable the Oaths Bill to be read a third time. He should vote for the Amendment of the hon. and gallant Member for Woolwich as a protest against the action of the Government.
§ MR. ISAACS (Newington, Walworth)
, in supporting the Amendment, said, it was most unfair to call the School Board for London Election Bill a private measure. There was an urgent necessity for the Bill, and it would be a great mistake to allow the existing state of things with regard to the election areas of the School Board to remain as it was for another three years.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
said, that he wished to intervene at once to prevent an unnecessary prolongation of the debate. He entirely denied that the Government were giving undue facilities to the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh) for carrying his measure. The Government were simply keeping faith with the House and with hon. Members who had attained a certain position on the Paper for their measures on certain occasions, and who had surrendered their advantages at the request of the Government. It would have been a most serious breach of Parliamentary understanding if he had placed the hon. Member for Northampton at a disadvantage, after he had assured the House that it would be the duty of the Government to provide facilities for measures promoted by private Members which had reached a certain stage. He greatly regretted that the hon. and gallant Member for Woolwich had not been fortunate enough to 126 get his measure advanced to the necessary stage; but the Government could not undertake to distinguish between the importance of measures which were in the hands of private Members. He was sorry that the matter had not been brought under the notice of the Government sufficiently early to have permitted them to have introduced a measure in relation to it themselves, for it was one which should have emanated from them, rather than from a private Member. He trusted that the House would new proceed with the Business before it.
§ MR. MOLLOY (King's Co., Birr)
said, he could assure the hon. and gallant Member for Woolwich that, even if his measure had been placed upon the Paper as the first Order of the Day, it would not have been passed that night, as it was certain to meet with the most serious opposition from the Irish Members. There was not the least probability of the Bill being carried through before the Adjournment.
§ SIR JOHN COLOMB (Tower Hamlets, Bow, &c.)
said, he would support the appeal to the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. H. Smith) to modify his programme in favour of the Bill. In view of the fact that the School Board Bill concerned the welfare and the education of the young, representing one-seventh of the total population of the United Kingdom, he should support the Amendment of the hon. and gallant Member for Woolwich (Colonel Hughes).
§ MR. J. ROWLANDS (Finsbury, E.)
said, he would ask the Government for a distinct promise that they would deal with the question of the electoral areas for School Boards. He hoped they would take the matter up and deal with it themselves.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 27 Noes 201: Majority 174.—(Div. List, No. 270.)
§ Main Question again proposed.
§ THE LORD MAYOR OF DUBLIN (Mr. SEXTON) (Belfast, W.)
said, he found that, owing to the state of feeling amongst his constituents, he must press upon the Government the importance of taking the Local Bankruptcy (Ireland) Bill at the present Sitting. That really was a Government Bill. It had been brought in by a Member of the Cabinet, 127 the Irish Lord Chancellor, in the House of Lords, had passed through that House, and now awaited a second reading. It proposed to give the Lord Lieutenant power to establish certain Local Bankruptcy Courts, and the principle had been approved and accepted by all Parties. It was a principle that had long existed in England, and which it was desired to introduce into Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary had said a few evenings ago that the Bill was a Government Bill, and perhaps the right hon. Gentleman would explain how it was that it now appeared among the Private Bills? He (Mr. Sexton) himself introduced a Bill on the subject last year. He had it passed through a Select Committee, and it reached the Report stage. There, however, it stopped, and did not proceed further. In the North and South and also in various parts of the Provinces there was a very strong feeling against the system, which obliged cases of the smallest estates in bankruptcy to be brought to Dublin and to be swallowed up in law costs. It was a simple reform of the most obvious utility, and he did not think he was making an unreasonable claim when he simply asked that it should be properly distinguished upon the Paper as being a Government Bill, and that, if possible, it should be taken before the Recess.
§ MR. BIGGAR (Cavan, W.)
said, that there was a wide difference of opinion in different parts of Ireland, not only whether such a Bill should be passed, but as to the scope of the present measure. Not a single Member representing the City of Dublin, which he understood was very much opposed to the Bill, was present. Nothing material could be lost by allowing the Bill to stand until the November Sitting, and then if the Government were disposed to give facilities for the Bill, and not only facilities for it, but to give time for Amendments to be discussed, he had not the slightest objection to their doing so. But, as an old trader and an inhabitant of Belfast, he had formed very decided opinions regarding what the Bankruptcy Laws of Ireland ought to be, and he thought it unreasonable to press on the Bill in the last two days of the Session, when it could not be properly discussed.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
said, that the Bill would appear on the Paper to- 128 morrow with an asterisk attached, thereby intimating that it would be treated as a Government Bill. It might be possible to pass it in the course of the present Session; but, if not, it certainly would be passed during the Autumn Sitting.
§ MR. SEXTON
If I find I can be of no use to my constituents in relation to a Government Bill materially affecting them, I shall have no alternative but to resign my seat.
Main Question put.
Ordered, That until the Government Orders are disposed of, so much of the Standing Order No. 1, Sittings of the House, as relates to the interruption of Business at midnight, the right of objection after midnight, and the Adjournment of the House at One o'clock, be suspended this day and To-morrow.