§ * MR. W. H. SMITH
I think that would be a convenient course. I beg to move the Resolution that stands in my name, namely— 1500That this House do sit to-morrow, and that such sitting be held subject to the Standing Orders which regulate the sitting of the House on Wednesdays.The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby will see, if he looks at the Paper, that there is practically no seriously opposed business to be dealt with, with the exception of the Intoxicating Liquors (Ireland) Bill.
Several hon. Members
§ * MR. W. H. SMITH
I believe there is a very strong desire on the part of hon. Gentlemen opposite to pass the Technical Instruction Bill, and we propose to accept the Amendment of the hon. Member for Gorton (Mr. Mather.) With regard to the Statute Law Revision Bill, there is a notice on the Paper in the name of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton (Mr. H. H. Fowler) against that measure. These Statute Law Revision Bills were prepared by a most impartial and able Commission, whose duties have always been exercised with great ability and with great advantage to the public; and I should be sorry if the Bill had to be postponed. If, however, serious objection be taken to it, I cannot say it has been before Parliament a sufficient time to justify us in pressing it. With regard to the Light Railways (Ireland) Bill, I understand that no new clause has been inserted in that measure; and it cannot be said that the Bill is in the slightest degree altered. The Standing Committee have, as they were fully entitled to do, struck out many of the clauses of the Bill; but the measure remains substantially as it was. Under these circumstances we think we are bound to proceed with the measure, and I believe it will be convenient to hon. Members to take it to-morrow. I am exceedingly anxious that the Intoxicating Liquors (Ireland) Bill should be passed, and we will endeavour to find an opportunity for the consideration of that measure. The business to-morrow will be* the Light Railways Bill, and Supply, if we can reach it. I think it would be convenient to hon. Members from Ireland if we took the Irish Estimates on Monday. We propose to take the Votes in Class II. in their regular order. As to the question put my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (Mr. Byron Reed), I 1501 can say nothing beyond what I have already stated to the House. I must remind the hon. Member and those who take an interest in the tithe question that notice is given of serious and protracted opposition to the measure as amended by my hon. and learned Friend the Attorney General, and, under the circumstances, I think the Government would, at this period of the Session, be incurring a very great responsibility in asking the House to take up the question, unless we received assurances from the Party opposite generally, such as have been given by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby (Sir W. Harcourt), that the Bill will be passed through its remaining stages with the adequate despatch which is necessary at this period of the Session.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That this House will sit to-morrow, and that such sitting be held subject to the Standing Orders which regulate the sittings of the House on Wednesdays."—(Mr. W. H. Smith.)
§ MR. W. REDMOND (Fermanagh, N.)
Might I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether it is the intention of the Government to ignore the exceedingly strong representations which have been made to them from Australia with reference to the Western Australia Constitution Bill?
§ MR. WINTERBOTHAM (Gloucester, Cirencester)
The First Lord of the Treasury stated on Thursday that no contentious business would be taken on Saturday. The Light Railways Bill is distinctly contentious business, and I, therefore, appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to fulfil the pledge he has given.
§ * MR. H. H. FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)
I venture to think that the House is entitled to a distinct assurrance from the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury as to what business the Government intend to take during the remainder of the Session. The right hon. Gentleman has now all the time of the House, and he intends to take all the days of the week as well. We are entitled to hear what Bills are to be proceeded with, whether any are coming from the Lords, and what attitude the Government will assume towards the private Bills which are on the Paper, and which 1502 subject hon. Members who oppose them to a great deal of trouble There are 26 Government Bills on the Paper, 21 private Members' Bills, and 80 Votes in Supply still to be taken, and this is the 16th of August. With regard to the Statute Law Revision Bills, I have had great pleasure in helping these measures forward during the last two or three years, and in order to enable the cheap edition of the Statutes to be published. But the cheap edition was no sooner published, bringing the Statute Law revision down to 1800, than a Bill is introduced to repeal some of the Acts which were reprinted as representing the Statute Law of the country. Without very considerable explanation, I cannot consent to that. It is proposed to go back to the reign of Edward III. in regard to the repeal of Acts. I am afraid that if the right hon. Gentleman finds himself in Committee dealing with the Acts of Edward III., we shall have something to say about one of them. This Bill deals with the Acts of the present reign, including the Tithes Commutation Bill, Lands Clauses Act, the Railway (Clauses Consolidation Act, and the Companies Clauses Consolidation Act. We cannot consent to deal with the statutory legislation of the present reign simply upon the allegation of a Government Department or Secretary of State that such legislation is unnecessary That is the sole reason why I object to the Government proceeding with the Statute Law Revision Bills during the present Session. I suggest that the Bill be postponed until next Session, and then that it should be referred to a Select Committee, on whose Report the House might act.
§ MR. E. ROBERTSON
The Light Railways Bill has been entirety altered in the Standing Committee, and I warn the right hon. Gentleman that unless he abandons his intention of proceeding with the Bill to-morrow, I shall certainly feel it necessary to vote against a Motion for a Saturday Sitting.
§ * MR. G. OSBORNE MORGAN
May I ask whether the Merchant Shipping (Pilotage) Bill will be proceeded with?
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
There are 26 Government Bills on the Paper for to-morrow and Monday. It the right hon. Gentleman will put his pencil through a large number of those we shall know 1503 better where we are. Without expressing any opinion of my own upon the Light Railways Bill, it is clear that it is a highly controversial measure, and I therefore hope the right hon. Gentleman will not take it to-morrow. I see in the Statute Law Revision Bill what is quite new to me—namely, the repeal of certain Statutes as "unnecessary," by omitting "the words 'and be it enacted' and all the words that follow."
SIR R. WEBSTER
It is in order to save printing, and the saving on the whole will amount to half a volume.
§ SIR W. HARCOURT
That is a very good reason. I hope the First Lord of the Treasury will be able to reduce the list of Bills.
§ * MR. S. SMITH (Flintshire)
I beg to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether it is not the fact that Lord Knutsford has promised several hon. Members that he will not proceed further than the Second Reading of the Western Australia Bill?
§ SIR J. PULESTON (Devonport)
It will be some consolation to a large number of Members of this House if the right hon. Gentleman will give the House an assurance that the Tithe Rent-Charge Bill will be one of the first measures introduced next Session.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
My right hon. Friend has said we all want to get away, and for my part I want to get away so much that I am going away, so that I can speak about what is going to happen after I have gone with more impartiality than hon. Members who are going to stay. At the present period of the Session the demand for a Saturday sitting is reasonable; but we are in a peculiar position. Ministers have taken the days of private Members, and have recklessly wasted them. I think we ought to take the first opportunity of expressing our disapproval of the reckless waste of public time on the part of the Government. I shall feel it my duty to register in a Division my opinion that Her Majesty's Ministers have scandalously wasted the public time.
§ MR. HOWELL
I have gone through the Statute Law Revision Bill, and find that 19–20ths of it consist of simple repeals of unnecessary words in existing Acts of Parliament, about which, I suppose, there can be no contention on the part of anybody except lawyers who 1504 want to make the law as complicated as possible. The Bill removes from the Statute Book a lot of rubbish which ought never to have encumbered it. I hope the Government will press the Bill through the House.
§ COLONEL NOLAN (Galway, N.)
I hope the right hon. Gentleman, who has an enormous majority, will give the House a chance of passing the Light Railways Bill to-morrow.
§ * MR. W. H. SMITH
I think it well to answer the questions which have been so far asked of me before they are entirely obliterated by a series of others. I believe the most important question put to me is that which has reference to the Light Railways Bill, and while I recognise the warmth of feeling which the hon. and gallant Member (Colonel Nolan) has shown in reference to that Bill, as I wish to pass the measure, and do not wish to waste a sitting, I think it would be desirable not to take the Bill to-morrow, after the opposition that has been shown, but to put it down as the first order on Monday. I hope I will then have the support of hon. Members in passing it through as quickly as possible.
§ * MR. W. H. SMITH
Yes, certainly. With reference to the Statute Law Revision Bill, I am desirous that the Statute Book should be purged of useless and unnecessary enactments, but I must admit that it is reasonable that the House should have an opportunity of examining and considering a measure of that kind. I recognise the fairness of the contention of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Fowler) with regard to a Bill which has only been in the hands of hon. Members for three days, and I cannot at this period of the Session press the House to consider it. Even although it may be all that the hon. Member for Bethnal Green (Mr. Howell) describes it, still it justifies and requires examination. I am asked to expunge certain Bills from the Order Paper. I think the right hon. Gentleman will find that there are remarkably few Bills which would in the ordinary course of things be considered at all contentious. The right hon. Member (Sir W. Harcourt) said there were 26 Government Bills on the Paper for to-morrow and Monday. As 1505 a matter of fact, there are about that number of Government Orders on the Paper, but the number of Bills is very much less. There is the Interpretation Bill, upon which a question is raised as to whether Wales should be included in England or not. I do not know that there need be much difficulty about that.
§ * MR. W. H. SMITH
I do not know that we shall make any difficulty about it. The Technical Instruction Bill, I believe, will not take an hour to consider in Committee. Then comes the consideration of the Lords' Amendments to the Local Government (Scotland) Bill, which I suppose will take a few minutes only. The Judicial Rents (Ireland) Bill follows, and it depends on hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway whether that Bill shall pass or not. [Cries of "No" from Irish Members.] Very well, then. The next is the Steam Trawling (Ireland) Bill, which was introduced at the instance of hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway opposite, and should not take long. The Infectious Diseases Notification Bill and the Preferential Payments in Bankruptcy (Ireland) Bill ought to go through without delay. The Council of India Bill ought not to take five minutes of the time of the House if hon. Members have any regard for economy of administration in India. The Merchant Shipping (Pilotage) Bill, I think, will be accepted without discussion. Then, as to the Western Australia Bill, I have been appealed to by the Member for Fermanagh. I am under an engagement to the House not to proceed beyond the SECOND READING of that Bill. I hope to take the Second Reading, but it will be at a late period of the Session, so as not to interfere with or impede other business. There are two Bills—the Registration of Assurance and the Local Registration of Titles Bill. Those Bills will not be proceeded with. The London County Council (Money) Bill is a necessary measure.
§ * MR. W. H. SMITH
The Suck Bill also will. The Merchant Shipping (Colours) Bill is a matter of little importance. With regard to private Members' Bills we have no control over tnem; and I can assure hon. Members that no effort will be lost to bring the Session to a close at the earliest moment.
§ MR. STUART (Shoreditch)
I wish to ask whether the County Council Bill will be taken on Monday or not, and, if Supply is to be the business tomorrow, what Supply will be taken?
§ MR. PICTON (Leicester)
I hope the right hon. Gentleman will exclude from to-morrow's business Class V. I really think this is a matter of very serious consideration. The House has been unable during this Session, on account of the exclusive possession of its time by the Government, to give attention to the most important affairs which naturally arise under that Vote. We have all the rest of the world outside Her Majesty's Dominions to consider under that Vote. I can understand that there are some questions of foreign policy that the Government would be very glad to exclude from consideration on this Vote, but is a course which no Government ought to take which respects itself. Apart from that there are many questions affecting poor uneducated natives in other parts of the world who cannot help themselves, and who look for help and defence and counsel to the representatives of the constituencies in this country. I think it a little unfair that a day like Saturday should be taken for questions of this kind. It was only last night that there was any intimation given that there would be a Saturday Sitting at all. There are large numbers of Members interested in these questions, who find it absolutely impossible to make arrangements to be present to-morrow. Of course, we are not excluded from bringing forward these questions on Report of Supply, and if the Diplomatic Votes are run through in a small House to-morrow, we shall be compelled to take the only remaining opportunity open to us on Report of Supply to bring forward our objections.
§ * SIR R. N. FOWLER (City of London)
The hon. Gentleman has been in several Parliaments. I appeal to him, and to the right hon. Member for Denbigh on the Front Bench (Mr. Osborne Morgan), 1507 whether it has not been the practice to hold Saturday Sittings at this period of the Session, and whether a similar Motion has not constantly been made by the right hon. Member for Mid-Lothian?
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
The Government have stated their intention of giving time for the consideration of the Intoxicating Liquors Sunday (Ireland) Bill, to which in the abstract I have no objection whatever. But I oppose it, because the licenses are entirely under the control of the Resident Magistrates, and so long as that is the case I will continue to oppose it. But there are other and more important questions affecting Ireland, among them the subject of appeals in criminal cases. The Chief Secretary some years ago said we should have an appeal in all cases, and the Bill I proposes carries out the intentions of the Government in that sense. I would ask the Government whether if they are going to support a private Member's Bill, with regard to the curtailment of the liquor traffic, I am not entitled to ask for some consideration of the subject of appeals in criminal cases, which is a question of far greater Constitutional importance than the Intoxicating Liquors Bill.
§ MR. T. E. ELLIS (Merionethshire)
I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether the Technical Education Bill will be taken to-morrow, and, if so, whether it will be put early among the Orders, that we may have time to discuss it and take the sense of the House?
§ MR. NOLAN (Louth N.)
I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman if, in giving facilities for the consideration of the Intoxicating Liquors (Ireland) Bill, he has considered the fact that one of the hon. Members who took a very great interest in this question, and who was the head of the opposition to it in Committee, is at present in custody through the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary and has been for the past four months?
§ * MR. W. H. SMITH
I omitted one Bill, the Bill to carry out the recommendations of the Royal Commission on the Civil Service with regard to Superannuation. That Bill is necessary. As to postponing Class V., we are scolded if we postpone Estimates, and now, when a quiet Saturday Sitting is offered, we are asked to postpone Votes. I shall, 1508 however, agree to postpone Class V. if not reached to-night. As to the hon. Member for Longford, no doubt he will find an opportunity for himself. I am ignorant of the merits of his measure, which possibly may be opposed. If it is an unopposed Bill, he is perfectly well aware that the measure will pass through the House without any difficulty and without any assistance of the Government.
§ * MR. CHANNING (Northamptonshire, E.)
Will the right hon. Gentleman reconsider his decision with regard to Class V.? There are a large number of Members present who are interested in the important subjects to be discussed under that Vote, and it would be inconvenient to postpone Class V. until a period of the Session when they, perhaps, cannot attend. The hon. Member for Leicester is quite alone in asking for the postponement of Class V.
§ * MR. W. H. SMITH
Really, Sir, I see no reason why, if we reach Class V. to-night, it should not be disposed of.
§ MR. STUART
As to the London County Council Bill, I wish to know when it will be put down, in order that Members may not attend unnecessarily.
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Mr. JACKSON, Leeds, N.)
I hope we may be able to take it on Monday.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH
Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the Indian Budget will not be taken to-morrow week?
§ MR. H. W. LAWSON (St. Pancras)
There is no opposition whatever to the London County Council Bill. A new clause is to be moved which can be taken after 12, and upon which a Division can be challenged. I can say on behalf of my Metropolitan colleagues on this side of the House that we have no wish to stop the progress of the Bill. All we desire is to express our opinions on the subject.
§ *MR. W. H. SMITH
The hon. Member asked me whether it would be convenient not to take the Indian Budget until Monday week. I hope it may be taken before then.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 162; Noes 83.—(Div. List, No. 312.)