HC Deb 09 April 1889 vol 335 cc20-3
MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)

asked the First Lord of the Treasury whether before Tuesday next he would take into consideration the fact in regard to the Easter holidays that by bringing the holidays to a close on Thursday, the 25th, instead of the following Monday he would only gain one day for the Government; and whether he would not think that for that gain it was hardly worth while curtailing the holidays by four days?


I am very anxious to consult the convenience of the House. The suggestion of the hon. Member is that it would be convenient to the House to have four days' more holiday. But we are exceedingly backward with Supply, having regard to the number of days available. If, however, the interval between this and next Tuesday results in a very large amount of Supply being given, there may be a possibility of relieving the House and the Government from the necessity of coming down here on Thursday, the 25th. I am not able to give any other answer to the hon. Gentleman.


I will repeat my question on Tuesday.

SIR G. CAMPBELL (Kirkcaldy)

What business is to be taken before Easter?


I have already stated that the business on Thursday will be Supply and the introduction of the Bill for giving effect to the Sugar Convention. On Monday the Budget of the Chancellor of the Exchequer will be taken, and we hope also to get Supply. The Naval Defence Bill will not be taken on Monday.

MR. CHILDERS (Edinburgh, S.)

I beg to ask whether, when effective Supply is put down for Friday, the Government will take care to keep a House? We have lately had the House twice counted out on those occasions.


I should be very glad to give the right hon. Gentleman that assurance if there was the least hope that effective Supply would be obtained. The right hon. Gentleman is aware that there were several Notices of Motion to be discussed between the Motion that was disposed of on Friday and effective Supply; and by the ordinary method by which we obtain information the Government were assured that there was not the least chance of obtaining effective Supply last Friday or the Friday previous. Hon. Gentlemen who take an interest in the Motions that were put down were apparently not at all unwilling to be counted out when the privilege of calling the Speaker's attention to the fact that there were not 40 Members present was exercised. The Government were independent, but hon. Gentlemen who take an interest in these questions did not think it necessary to be in attendance themselves in sufficient numbers to maintain a House. The right hon. Gentleman is well aware of all the circumstances under which these events occur. If he and his Friends will assist us to get effective Supply on Fridays, we will certainly do our best to maintain a House; it is simply absurd to maintain a House in face of the fact that Gentlemen who have Motions on the Paper do not think it worth while to attend in sufficient numbers to keep a House, but give us friendly notice that we shall not be allowed to reach Supply.


The remarks of the right hon. Gentleman do not refer to me, because I came down. The question I wish to ask is this. If there is no opposition to Supply on any evening, is it wise to alter the old practice, which is not to put down effective Supply? On both the Fridays the right hon. Gentleman has mentioned there was no hope whatever of reaching effective Supply.


We were so informed at 8 o'clock.


The arrangements are made before 8 o'clock.

MR. H. H. FOWLER (Wolverhampton)

I should like to put it to the right hon. Gentleman whether it is not a well-established Rule of the House that while the Government takes upon itself no responsibility in respect to keeping a House on Tuesdays, it is responsible for keeping a House on Fridays?


No, I am not aware of that responsibility. We are responsible for making and keeping a House on Friday for Government business, but I am not aware that the Government are responsible for keeping a House on Friday after a reasonable time has elapsed, and there is no hope whatever of getting to Government business. I am informed by my hon. Friend the Secretary to the Treasury (Mr. Jackson) that six Notices of Motion were put down at midnight on Thursday, possibly with the desire of considering them, but with the result, at all events, of making it quite clear that Supply could not be reached.


Then are we to understand that when the Government put down effective Supply on Friday they will keep a House, but that when they do not they will not undertake to keep a House?


I cannot enter into any understanding of that character, because to do so would simply mean that having put down effective Supply, which was blocked by Motions put on the Paper very late the night preceding; we would have the great satisfaction of sitting here to listen to Motions which possibly were not to be voted upon. Very likely there would simply be a conversation lasting the whole evening, with probably no satisfactory result to anyone except to some a consumption of time. Under these circumstances, I could not undertake that the Government will keep a House.


Order, order This is now generating into a discussion.


Can the right hon. Gentleman state, for the information and convenience of Irish Members, that Irish Supply will not be taken on Thursday, the 25th, the day on which the House is to re-assemble?


Yes; I will undertake that no Irish Supply shall be taken on the day.