HC Deb 01 August 1889 vol 339 cc123-33

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Standing Committee on Trade, &c, do sit and proceed with the Light Railways (Ireland) Bill To-morrow, at One of the o'clock."—(Mr. Salt.)

MR. STOREY (Sunderland)

I object to that, Sir. It was understood that the Committee of Selection was to nominate a number of Members to be added to the Grand Committee in respect of this Bill. Being absent from the House on account of ill-health at the commencement of the Session, I was not placed on any Grand Committee. I have taken a special interest in this Bill; and the least the Government could have done would have been to have given me, or some other Member for me, the opportunity of laying my views before the Committee. When a Bill comes from a Grand Committee it does not pass through Committee of the whole House, and on the Report stage the privileges of Members are circumscribed. I, therefore, appeal to the Government, and especially to the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, who, I think, gave us if not an absolute promise at all events a tacit understanding that a certain number of gentlemen should be added to the Committee.


The Committee of Selection reported the day before yesterday that they had added 15 Members to the Grand Committee. The 15 names are in the Votes.


Might I ask what the names are?


I will read them. Mr. Biggar, Mr. Blane, Mr. Crilly, Mr. Edward Harrington, Mr. Maurice Healy, Mr. Macartney, Mr. Madden, Mr. Marum, Sir Joseph M'Kenna, Mr. Molloy, Colonel Nolan, Mr. O'Hea, Mr. Parnell, Mr. T. W. Russell, and Colonel Saunderson.


Well, Sir, I suppose it is too late to object to the names, but I can, at least, resist this Motion, and I shall do so because the names added are those of Irish Members who, with one or two exceptions, act on the principle of getting as much English money as they can. I do not think the Government have treated us quite fairly in this matter.

Mr. TOMLINSON (Preston)

I ask you, Sir, whether it is in order for the hon. Member to accuse the Government of having had any share in the nomination of these Members, it being, according to the Standing Orders of this House, the duty of the Committee of Selection to put the names in?


called on Mr. Storey to proceed.


Well, Sir, I do not see what point of order that is. I say it is notorious that a number of English Members have in season and out of season resisted this Bill in the interest of the taxpayers, and the least that could have been done in fairness was that some of these Gentlemen should have been put upon the Committee, so that they might be able there to state their views in regard to the measure. The Bill is of an extremely complicated character. The details are of the essence of it. In its present form it does not lay down any distinct plan upon which the money is to be spent. It may under the Bill be spent in Antrim, where they do not need it, or in Galway where they do. I think we could in the room upstairs give ample reasons why a considerable alteration should be made in the conditions and terms of the measure. I think that in the seclusion of that roots we could convince the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary that before he took the money of his constituents in Manchester and agreed to spend it in Ireland, he should define in the Bill how and where he was going to spend it and to what extent as between province and province.


The hon. Member is now discussing the Amendments. That is not in order.


Let me appeal to the hon. Gentleman. I do not think it is in order that this Question should now be debated. The Motion is merely an intimation to the House that an arrangement has been made for the Committee to meet to-morrow. The Committee will meet without an order of the House.


I will not compete in knowledge or experience with the right hon. Gentleman, but I know that when Mr. Speaker puts a question from the Chair it is possible to debate it. I heard the question put, and I think I can urge reasons against the Motion. I want to appeal to the First Lord of the Treasury and the Chief Secretary. The opponents of that Bill have not been fairly treated. They have not had an opportunity of presenting their views in a quiet and calm Committee upstairs. I wish the Chief Secretary to come to some reasonable arrangement by which there shall be put on the Committee the hon. Member for Bristol, the hon. Member for Lanark, the hon. Member for Spalding, or myself. (Ironical Cheers.) There is no reason for cheering when I ask for a little work. I believe that legally I can move that this Debate be now adjourned, and I beg to do so.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned." —(Mr. Storey.)


Of course we are anxious that the discussion in the Grand Committee should take place as soon as possible, but if the hon. Member is strongly of opinion that it should be delayed, I shall be ready to postpone the first meeting till next Tuesday. As to the constitution of the Committee, that is not merely technically but substantially outside the control of the Government. It would be a serious and a disastrous thing if the Government were to attempt to interfere with the discretion of the Committee of Selection. I have had no communication with that Committee, and am not a Member of the Grand Committee. If the hon. Gentleman will approach the Committee of Selection and lay his grievance before them, it is possible that some arrangement may be come to by which his demands will be met.

* MR. OSBORNE MORGAN (Denbighshire, E.)

As I happen to have some experience in this matter, having acted as Chairman of one of these Grand Committees for the last two years, I may be allowed to support what has fallen from the right hon. Gentleman. The constitution of these Committees rests entirely with the Committee of Selection, and the Government has nothing to do with it.

* COLONEL NOLAN (Galway, N.)

When it was proposed to send this Bill to a Grand Committee I objected, on the ground that every opportunity would be taken to cause delay. The Chairman of the Committee was away a day or two, and, therefore, we did not sit yesterday or to-day, and now here is another proposal for delay. I object to the whole tactics of the hon. Member for Sunderland, which are tactics of delay. He has said he believes greatly in the power of talk in Committee. I do not object to his threatening to give us in Committee one long flow of wishy-washy talk, but I do object to his delaying the progress of this Bill. The Committee of Selection have added fifteen Members to the Grand Com- mittee. They are all Irish Members, and the hon. Member for Storey— [Laughter] —I beg pardon, the hon. Member for Sunderland, could not be better represented. My hon. Friend the Member for Cavan objects to all railway locomotion in Ireland, and has gone into the highways and byways to find another Member to support him.


All this is not relevant to the Motion for adjournment.


Well, Sir, I will drop all this, although it was gone into by the hon. Member for Sunderland.


The hon. and gallant Member forgets that the hon. Member for Sunderland spoke before the Motion was made.


On the question that the Debate be adjourned I strongly beseech the Government not to give way to this Motion. The hon. Member for Sunderland can effect his object in another way. To-morrow I will move the Committee of Selection to put him on at once, but I want the Committee to meet to-morrow, but if we adjourn the Debate the meeting will be put off until Tuesday. I beg the Government will reconsider their determination and not consent to an adjournment. I for one, as an advocate of the Bill, will use any influence I can with the Committee of Selection and the Trade Committee, to induce them to add the hon. Member for Sunderland to the Committee. I hope there will be no delay. I think the course I propose is the most practical. We are at the end of the Session, and can count our remaining time by days, and I know from my Parliamentary experience that if the Bill is put off for six or seven days it is gone. I think my proposal is the most feasible.


rose in his place and claimed to move "That the question be now put," but Mr. Deputy Speaker declined then to put that question.


I would like to ask, as a question of order, is it necessary to have any order of the House at all on this matter?


I confess I am not aware that it is, but the Motion has been put from the Chair.


I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Motion.


I object to the Motion being withdrawn.


I beg leave to withdraw the Motion altogether from the consideration of the House.


The question is that the Debate be now adjourned. This was moved by the hon. Member for Sunderland, and he must ask leave to withdraw first.

MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W.)

Before that Motion is withdrawn I feel it my duty to say that I differ from my hon. and gallant Friend on the immediate question. The Chief Secretary quite correctly said that the Government are in no way responsible for the action of the Committee of Selection, who exercise in this regard wholly independent functions. I take an impartial position in regard to the Bill. I am not anxious for it, and I do not oppose it, but I think the hon. Member for Sunderland has made out a good case. He is a strong opponent of the Bill, on the merits of which strong differences of opinion exist, and I think he is entitled to be on this Committee, which if the Committee is to meet to-morrow he cannot be. The Bill contains complicated details that demand careful study. I have a number of Amendments of a somewhat technical character, which I should be glad to give more consideration to. If the hon. Member would withdraw his Motion for adjournment, and the First Lord would amend his Motion and order the Committee to meet on Tuesday instead of tomorrow, that would give opportunity to consider what representation the hon. Member for Sunderland should have on the Committee.


I think that is a very reasonable suggestion.


As a member of the Committee of Selection, I should just like to point out that the Committee have no power to make alterations in the Standing Committee except to fill up vacancies that occur from resignation.


It appears to me that the interval between this and Tuesday will allow of communications passing, and lead, I hope, to an understanding being arrived at. It is not possible for the Government to interfere in the matter; we have no authority to do so. I trust the House will accept the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Belfast.


I think it is a very reasonable course. In asking leave to withdraw my Motion, I will only say I hope the Government will use their moral influence in favour of some representation of the opposition to the Bill being on the Committee.

Motion for adjournment, by leave, withdrawn.

Original Question again proposed.


I beg to move that Tuesday be substituted for to-morrow.

Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "to-morrow" in order to insert the words "upon Tuesday next." —(Mr. Sexton.)

Question proposed, "That the word to-morrow' stand part of the Question."


No; I think that is not the way of meeting the point. I think the Motion should be withdrawn altogether, because——


I will withdraw the Motion altogether.


What I was going to point out is this: If the Resolution is passed and the Committee of Selection do not see their way to making any change in the Committee, then the Committee will meet in its present form on Tuesday. This I object to, and I desire that the Motion should now be withdrawn.


I wish to point out that the hon. Member for Sunderland has not exactly risen at the proper time. He advocated one course, and I advocated one in a diametrically opposite direction. I am sorry to find myself in opposition to the hon. Member, but on this question of Light Railways we must agree to differ, except that I quite agree with him that these Light Railways should be constructed in Galway. My right hon. Friend the Member for West Belfast suggested that the hon. Member for Sunderland should withdraw his Motion, and that the Motion of the First Lord should be put in a modified form. We allowed the hon. Member for Sunderland to withdraw his Motion, we challenged no Division, but he now gets up and objects to the other part of the proposition of my right lion. Friend, which was to balance the other. Certainly I think the hon. Member for Sunderland, having been allowed to withdraw his Motion, ought now to accept the other part of the advice of the right hon. Member for Belfast. We will use any influence we have to get his name added to the Committee; more we cannot do. The only pledge the Members of the Government could give would be as individual Members; but I can see there is an awkwardness about that.

* MR. OSBORNE MORGAN (Denbighshire, E.)

This is a very important matter, as bearing upon future action. I feel certain that when once a Bill is referred to the Standing Committee no further order is necessary. Over and over again I, as Chairman of the Committee, have acted on that understanding, and I think it is introducing what may be a dangerous precedent to say it is necessary there should be a further order as to when the Committee should meet. I would suggest, therefore, that the proper course is for the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. W. H. Smith) to withdraw his Motion. As to the constitution of the Committee that is an entirely distinct matter.

* MR. BARING (London)

It seems to me some Resolution of the House is necessary, because ever since the Committee on Trade has existed it has sat on Mondays and Thursdays, and a Resolution to the same effect was passed this year.


Of course the Committee having power proprio motu to fix, can also change, the day; there is no difficulty about that.

MR. COSSHAM (Bristol, E.)

I have prepared a number of Amendments which I hoped to urge in Committee of the whole House, and which cannot be discussed if the Bill is referred to a Committee upstairs. I think it is unfair that those who have given notice of their objection to details of the measure should be precluded from the opportunity of ventilating their objections.


Every Amendment of which any hon. Member has given notice on the Paper will be referred to the Committee. I desire to withdraw my Motion.

DR. CLARK (Caithness)

This Order is not upon the Paper at all, and I do not know whether it is regular, whether it is convenient or necessary, but I wish to ask if the Motion is withdrawn will the Government take any steps to have the Committee meet on Tuesday? Otherwise the Committee may meet on Monday and proceed with the Bill before any change is made in the constitution of the Committee. Now there are some Members of: the Committee who have paired for the Session, and it can easily be arranged that the Committee shall be supplemented by some of my hon. Friends who are prepared to wait until the end of the Session.

MR. CRAIG (Newcastle-upon-Tyne)

There was an agreement at the last meeting of the Committee that Members should only be called together after ample notice, both to allow of time being given to a fair and judicious examination of the Bill and Amendments as well as to allow of Members making their own arrangements. I hope this understanding will be carried out.

MR. CRILLY (Mayo, N.)

I hope the Government will resist these attempts at delay. Those hon. Members who have objections to the Bill have had ample time to prepare their Amendments. This Light Railways Bill has been before the House for a considerable period. An attempt is now being made by the hon. Member for Sunderland and his colleagues to defeat the Bill by delays, and I hope the Government will resist such an attempt. If I had my way I would have insisted as one of the new members added to the Committee on Trade on the observance of the notice on the card handed to me to-night in the Post Office, that a meeting of the Committee should be held to - morrow at 1, because the Session is drawing to a close, and if there is any merit in the Bill at all that can only be secured by the Committee proceeding with the Bill strenuously at once. I entirely agree with my right hon. Friend the Lord Mayor of Dublin that as the friends of the Bill have not, perhaps, had time to well consider their Amendments, it is desirable to meet on Tuesday, but I do trust that the Government will resolutely carry the Bill through, disregarding the efforts of my hon. Friends the Members for Sunderland and Cavan, who, I believe, want to kill the Bill for the Session. My desire, and the desire of North Mayo, is that the Bill should pass into law, and little as I like making such appeals, I do make the appeal to the Chief Secretary and the Solicitor General for Ireland to show the strength of their good intentions by using their influence to secure the meeting of the Committee on Tuesday to proceed with the Bill, irrespective of whether my hon. Friends the Members for Sunderland and Cavan have or have not sufficient representation on the Committee, because, so far as I can analyse the disposition of the 15 additional members placed on the Committee, I think they are pretty evenly divided for and against the measure.

MR. PHILIPPS (Lanark, Mid)

Is it too late to reconsider the question whether the Bill should be referred to the Committee on Trade at all?

MR. MACARTNEY (Antrim, S.)

If the Motion is withdrawn do the Government intend that the Committee should proceed with the Bill on Tuesday or not?


The day for which these Committees are summoned depends not on the Government, but on the Chairman of the Committee. Notices have been given for the Committee to meet tomorrow, but obviously that cannot take place now. If this Motion is withdrawn the result will be, that as the days originally fixed for the meeting of the Committee were Mondays and Thursdays, the Committee would meet pro formâ on Monday, and then decide to go on with the consideration of the Bill on Tuesday.

MR. BIGGAR (Cavan, W.)

The thing is practically settled in a sensible manner. I understand that the Committee of Selection will try to place upon the Grand Committee a certain number of English Members who are specially interested in the subject, and these will be reasonably prepared to go on with business on Tuesday.


I have not troubled the House for some time, and may be allowed a few words. I wish to put myself right in the position I take. I intend to support the measure, but certainly I do not think that the Radical Members who oppose it are under any animus towards us, and if I were an English Member——


Order, order! The Question is that "to-morrow" stand part of the Question.


rose in his place and claimed to move "That the Question be now put."

MR. A. O'CONNOR (Donegal, E.)

May I ask you, Sir, on a point of procedure, whether this is not the first time any such Question has been put from the Chair; and, whether if that is so, it may not be a precedent to rule all subsequent proceedings in regard to these matters?


Similar questions have repeatedly been put from the Chair.

Question put, "That the Question be now put."

The House divided:—Ayes 145; Noes 58.—(Div. List, No. 269.)

Question, "That the word 'tomorrow' stand part of the Question," put, and negatived.

Words "upon Tuesday next" inserted.

Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.

Ordered— That the Standing Committee upon Trade &c, do sit and proceed with the Light Railways (Ireland) Bill upon Tuesday next, at One of the clock.