§ Order for Committee read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Order be deferred till To-morrow."
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
I rise to a point of Order, Sir. I should like to receive your interpretation of the Rule "Sittings of the House" passed on the 24th of February, 1888? Let me, however, 1485 respectfully remind you of what took place after 12 o'clock on a former occasion, when a Motion was made by the hon. Gentleman the Member for West Nottingham (Mr. Broadhurst). The hon. Gentleman had a Motion for which he was entitled to take the Evening Sitting, provided that the Government took the Morning Sitting. Objection was raised to the Government taking a Morning Sitting, and the Government were obliged to take the entire day in consequence of the objection having been taken after 12 o'clock. I submit that pretty much, the same state of circumstances exist at the present moment. It is now after 12 o'clock. I do not intend to raise any objection to the Saturday Sitting. I have no objection whatever to a Saturday Sitting, but I want this Rule to be clearly understood, because I think it is for the convenience of the House that it should be understood. There is an arrangement, I believe, that non-contentious Irish Votes shall be taken to-morrow; but, at the same time, it is desirable we should know whether it is not open for any Member, if he chooses, to object to a Sitting of the House being held tomorrow. The House usually sits on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. On Saturdays and Sundays the House does not, as a rule, sit. The Rule, the interpretation of which I desire, is that—That at Midnight on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, except as aforesaid, and at half-past Five of the clock on Wednesdays, the proceedings on any Business then under consideration shall be interrupted; and, if the House be in Committee, the Chairman shall leave the Chair, and make his report to the House; and if a Motion has been proposed for the Adjournment of the House, or of the Debate, or in Committee, That the Chairman do report Progress, or do leave the Chair, every such dilatory Motion shall lapse without Question put; and the business then under consideration, and any business subsequently appointed, shall be appointed for the next day on which the House shall sit, unless the Speaker ascertains by the preponderance of voices that a Majority of the House desires that such business should be deferred until a later day.I shall, no doubt, be told that there is a preponderance of voices; but I submit that if the ordinary practice of the House governs this Rule, we shall be driven on a Saturday, if there be objection raised, to a Sunday Sitting—that the Motion will have to go down for the next day, because of the operation 1486 of this Rule. If objection be taken on Saturday to any particular Order, it must go down for the next day, which would be Sunday, and a Sitting on Sunday would certainly be wholly contrary to the Rules and Practice of the House. My submission is that the Government cannot fix a 12 o'clock Sitting on Saturday except by a special Order of the House, and I take note of the fact that when the Government named Saturday they did not name 12 o'clock on Saturday, for there is no Rule as to Sittings on Saturday. The Government have thought fit to apply the Wednesday Rule to Saturdays; but I want to know, Sir, under what Rule you will take the Chair at 12 o'clock tomorrow?
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. and learned Member is quite right in his interpretation of the Rule. Saturday being an exceptional day on which the House does not usually sit, it would be proper that a distinct opportunity should be offered for the House to express an opinion on the point. In this case the course was announced some days ago, and it is not for me to lay down what is for the general convenience of the House; but, as a matter of Order, I could not say that the mere fact of a Minister saying "to-morrow (being Saturday) at twelve" would preclude any hon. Gentleman objecting, and so preventing a Sitting being taken on Saturday.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
I am much obliged to you, Sir, for your ruling. I hope, however, that none of my hon. Friends will raise any objection to the House sitting to-morrow.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
said, that it would not be the first Order on Monday, but Supply would occupy the first place.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Committee deferred till to-morrow.