§ Order for Second Reading read.1881
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Mr. Arthur Balfour.)
§ MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)
, in rising to move—That, inasmuch as the proposed scheme of drainage is essentially local in character, and tends principally to the benefit of the landlords owning the land in the districts affected, this House is of opinion that all such works should be undertaken by and at the expense of an Irish local administration, properly representative of, and responsible to, the Irish nation, and declines to sanction the increase of the burdens already unduly pressing upon the taxpayers of Great Britain, in consequence of the policy of coercion in Ireland, by making further free grants of public money for any such purpose,said, that, as it was not 12 o'clock, he could not object to the Bill being taken then, and he would not appeal to the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary to postpone it. The right hon. Gentleman the other night was rather hasty in his assumption that there would be no opposition to these Bills, and it was quite true that the Irish Members did not care to go the length of offering any substantial opposition to the schemes. He declared that his Motion of opposition was placed upon the Paper entirely on his own initiative, against the wishes of those who had pressed him on the subject, and was based upon what he considered to be a sound objection to the principles of the Government proposals. In the first place, the schemes were of an essentially local character, and intended for the benefit of the landlords, rather than of the tenants. It was said that these Bills were intended to promote goodwill towards the people of Ireland; and some ill-natured critics even went so far as to say that, in proposing the expenditure of such large sums of money, the Government were anxious to buy at such a price the goodwill of the Irish people, which they knew they could never obtain by the coercive policy which they were now enforcing towards them. From the statements that had been placed before the House, and from the facts perfectly well known, the Irish tenants would have to submit to an increase of taxation for these works, which would improve the value of the soil, for which the landlords would by-and-bye demand a large rent. In England, he thought, they had no right to mix themselves up 1882 with matters of purely Irish administration. He thought it was a monstrous and crying shame that they should be called upon to spend large sums of money out of the pockets of the taxpayers, and he objected to the principles embodied in the scheme.
§ MR. LEA (Londonderry, S.)
rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put;" but Mr. Speaker withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question.
§ Debate resumed.
§ MR. CONYBEARE
said, the Bill proposed to constitute a Commission for the purpose of carrying out the scheme of drainage proposed by the Government. That Commission was to be constituted of four Members of the Royal Commission of 1886, and included Sir James Allport. What did he know about Ireland?
§ MR. MACARTNEY (Antrim, S.)
rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 194; Noes 106: Majority 88.—(Div. List, No. 227.)
§ Question put accordingly, "That the Bill be now read a second time."
§ MR. CONYBEARE
rose amid cries of "Order." He said: I rise to a point of Order. The Question should be the Amendment which I have moved. [Cries of "Hear, hear!" and "Order!"]
§ MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! No Amendment was moved to the Motion for the second reading of the Bill. [Cries of "Hear, hear!" and dissent.]
§ MR. SPEAKER
No Amendment was moved. Before the hon. Member could move his Amendment, he was intercepted by the Motion for closing the debate.
§ Question again put.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR (Donegal, E.)
(speaking seated and with head covered): May I ask you, Sir, on a point of Order, if the second reading of the Bill is to be taken without a single Irish Member being allowed to say one 1883 word upon it? [Cheers from Opposition Members.]
An hon. MEMBER
It is a question of Order and decency of debate. [Cries of "Order!" and interruption, amid which Irish Members from below the Gangway rose and left the House.]
§ The House divided:—Ayes 189; Noes 64: Majority 125.—(Div. List, No. 228.)
§ Bill read a second time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be committed to a Select Committee of Seven Members, Four to be nominated by the House, and Three by the Committee of Selection."—(Mr. Arthur Balfour.)
§ Objection being taken to further Proceeding, the Debate stood adjourned.
§ Debate to be resumed To-morrow.