§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH,) Strand, Westminster
In rising to move the Motion which stands on the Paper in my name, I am performing a duty which is expected from me by both sides of the House. I believe that a strong desire exists that the Session should not be unduly prolonged, and that every effort should be made, consistent with a due regard to the public interests, to bring it to a comparatively early close. It is always expected that the Member of the Government whose duty it is to move a Motion of this kind will indicate the measures deemed to be urgent and important enough to warrant them in requiring that they should be passed before the Session terminates. I need hardly say that those measures include the Local Governmet (Scotland) Bill and the Universities Bill for Scotland, which have been already far advanced, and as to which no very serious 136 matter of controversy remains to be disposed of, although undoubtedly there is a mass of details to be considered in Committee or on the Report stage, and those details will require a certain amount of public time, and the importance of the subject will justify the House in devoting to those measures the amount of time they may require. There are also Bills which have passed through Grand Committees of this House which may be regarded as measures of great social importance, rather than as measures of serious, political import involving questions on, which differences between, the two sides of the House are likely to arise. I should deeply regret if it were necessary to sacrifice any one of those Bills, and from the progress which has been made with them I entertain the strongest, hope, which I trust will be shared by hon. Members on all sides, that those Bills may be passed without making serious demands on the time of the House. A measure on which considerable difference of opinion may arise is the Tithe Rent-Charge Bill. I hope it may be possible to ask the House to give it a Second Reading early next week. There is another measure which is not in the hands of the Government but as to which pledges have been given, and that is the Irish Sunday Closing Bill. I hold myself bound to ask the judgment of the House on this measure, I have repeatedly stated that I would endeavour to obtain a decision of the House upon its proposals, and I will do that because I cannot but remember that the question has been exhaustively considered by a Select Committee of the House; and I think the House is bound to take some action on the opinions of an majority of such an important Select Committee. I will not go through the list of all the measures of the Government. I think most of them are of secondary importance compared with those to which I have referred, and I think they are measures which may well be received by the House without serious or prolonged discussion. The Council of India Bill is an important measure, but I trust, even if it is necessary to have a discussion upon the Second Reading, that the House will pass it in the course of the present Session, as it will effect an economy of £6,000 a year in the expenditure of the Indian Government, 137 at home, with, the result of increasing rather than diminishing the efficiency of administration. The Notification of Diseases Bill, I observe, is opposed by hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House. It is a matter of considerable importance from a sanitary point of view, and I trust the objections which are entertained to it will not detain the House any length of time, having regard to the fact that the Bill is intended to diminish the danger to the public which results from the concealment of the existence of disease, and that the principle of which has been adopted in local legislation in many parts of the country. I come next to consider the matters as to which we are not able to calculate with certainty that the House will be disposed to entertain them. I refer first of all to the New Education Code which has now been before Parliament for some time, and I am unable to shut my eyes to the fact that an amount of criticism and a difference of opinon have been raised in regard to this Code in different parts of the House, which leaves us little hope that there will be anything like time enough in the remaining part of the Session for the adequate consideration of proposals of the character of those involved in this Code. I regret, therefore, that it appears to be necessary to withdraw the Code from the consideration of the House, so far as the present year is concerned, but I do not despair that the fuller study and examination which will be given in the autumn and winter to the proposals contained in it may perhaps make them more palatable and acceptable to the hon. Gentlemen who now differ seriously from them. However that might be, I think the House will feel that by following the example set by a right hon. Gentleman opposite some years ago in postponing the discussion of considerable alterations in the Code for a year, we shall not be acting unwisely in the great interests of education itself. Therefore we shall not ask the House to consider the new Code this year; and, meanwhile, we shall adhere to the Code of 1888, which is now in operation, and under which grants are now being made. I must refer again to the Irish Drainage Bills. There has been considerable opposition to these Bills on the part of hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway opposite. I admit 138 that they have a perfect right to oppose them; but looking to the character of the Bills, if that opposition is persevered with, it would be unreasonable to expect the House to sit long enough to dispose of those Bills, and I fear that I must leave on those hon. Gentlemen the full responsibility, if they think fit to exercise their right, of delaying the passing of those measures. We do, however, intend to proceed with the Bann Drainage Bill, which has already been referred to a Select Committee. Allusion has been made by the hon. and gallant Member for Gal way (Colonel Nolan) to the Light Railways Bill. We think that that is a measure which ought to be passed by the House. It meets generally with favour from all parts of the House; and I believe that no measure would tend better to develop the resources of the distressed districts of Ireland than that Bill. I trust, Sir, that, the proposals which I have now made will meet the acceptance of the House generally. I have no doubt that I shall be met with the suggestion that, although it is exceedingly desirable that the House should proceed with the consideration of the remaining Government business as soon as possible, yet exceptions ought to be made in regard to particular Motions and particular measures of hon. Members. I hope I shall not be deemed unreasonable if, after a long experience, I say I could not accept any suggestions of that character. Hon. Gentlemen who have charge of Motions or Bills must see that if concessions were made to them there are others who would be placed in a disadvantageous position, and who would certainly also claim the indulgence of the Government. I am afraid, Sir, the time has come when I must make this demand on the House, not in the interest of the Government alone, but in the interest of Members of the House and of the service of the country. I shall be glad to answer any questions that may be addressed to me, but I think I have stated generally with sufficient clearness what the Government propose.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That, for the remainder of the Session, Government business have priority on Wednesday; that, unless the House otherwise order, the House shall meet on Friday at 3 of the clock; and that Standing Order 11 he suspended, and the provisions of Standing Order 56 he extended to the other days of the week."—(Mr. W. S. Smith.)
§ * MR. J. STUART (Shoreditch, Hoxton)
I rise, Sir, to move an Amendment the effect of which, if carried, will be to exempt from the operation of the Resolution Fridays, the 12th and 19th of July. The Bills with which the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury proposes to occupy the remainder of the Session are smaller and more limited in number than have been the measures on which in recent times Governments have been accustomed to base a demand for the whole time of the House, and I cannot but feel that private Bills and Motions are to be sacrificed to the question of Royal doweries. All my Amendment asks for is the grant of eight hours for private Members—namely, four hours on each of the two successive Fridays. Now, Sir, with respect to Friday, the 19th of July, I shall leave my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow (Dr. Cameron) to plead his own cause with reference to the important Resolution he has on the Paper for that day. I shall only give very briefly the reasons why I urge that I may have an opportunity of bringing forward the Resolution which stands in my name for to-morrow. That Resolution has reference to local taxation in the Metropolis, and there is scarcely any subject at the present time which may more fairly demand the attention of the House. We have had the Standing Orders of the House suspended twice during the present Session, and within the last few weeks, in order to saddle the ratepayers of the Metropolis with a payment which is equivalent to a rata of 2d. for the City of London, and, therefore, the pressure of the question I ask the House to consider has been increased by the action of the Government themselves. There is an important reason why this question ought to come immediately before the House. The County Council of London have passed several resolutions which imply a feeling on their part that it is inadvisable to enter upon further extended permanent improvements in London until it is settled upon whose shoulders the burdens of them are to come. There is another point which makes the question both grave and immediate. The constant habit of owners or holders of ground rents to contract themselves out of their obligations to the rates is a matter upon which a resolution was passed only the 140 day before yesterday by the County Council. I do not say, Sir, that within the limits of any resolution I should desire to deal with, or be justified in dealing with, all these various questions; but I have put down on the Paper a Resolution referring to the taxation of ground rents and to the cost of permanent improvements, the decision of which at the present time is exceedingly important and desirable for the progress of business in the Metropolis. I put it on these somewhat narrow grounds, although I might put it on the far broader grounds of the great issue of the incidence of taxation involved in the Resolution of which I have given Notice. I would point out to the House the magnitude of the question to which I am drawing attention, a magnitude which makes it in no way inferor to those questions, or at any rate to some of them, which the right hon. Gentleman has enumerated as desirable to be solved in the present Session. One-fifth part of the whole rateable value of England is situate in the Metropolis, and no less than 7½ millions sterling are raised at present in the Metropolis by local taxation. One-third of that is in our Representatives' control, one third is partly within that control, and the other third is altogether beyond the control of any representative body in the Metropolis. Under these circumstances, taking into account both the magnitude of the matter and the magnitude of the interests involved, and the urgent and pressing character of the question, I think I have made out temperately and fairly a real case for requesting some of the time of the House to-morrow for the consideration of the important Resolution which stands in my name. On these grounds I beg leave to move the addition of a Proviso to the Resolution to the following effect:—"That this Resolution shall not apply to Fridays until after Friday the 19th of July."
I rise for the purpose of seconding the Amendment. Why have the discussions upon the Scotch Bills taken so long? It is because the right hon. Gentleman and his Colleagues have insisted on thrusting down the throats of Scotch Members proposals to which they were almost unanimously opposed. We have had a great number of Divisions in Committee, 141 but whenever even the semblance of a concession has been made, the Scotch Members have abstained from pressing the Government further. Whenever a Division has been taken, the Scotch Members have voted four or five to one against the Government. Notwithstanding that fact, the Government have persisted in carrying their views against that of the majority of the Scotch Members, and under such circumstances how is it possible for progress to be made? Far more time would be saved during the remainder of the Session by reasonable concessions to Scotch demands than the eight hours involved in the Amendment. I wish to know whether the Government intend to proceed with the Parochial Boards Bill and the Private Bill Procedure Bill, about which the right hon. Gentleman has said nothing, and to the former of which determined opposition will be offered.
Amendment proposed, at the end of the Question, to add the words—
Provided always, that this Resolution shall not apply to Fridays until after Friday the 19th of July."—(Mr. James Stuart.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there added."
§ MR. S. BUXTON (Tower Hamlets, Poplar)
I shall support the Amendment. I think that we who represent London have some reason to complain that the promise made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that the Session should contain some legislation for London has not been fulfilled. So far, all the legislation we have had has been the continued imposition of the Coal Tax. I think there has been a great desire to give a vote, not only on the question of Metropolitan taxation, but also upon Scotch disestablishment and Sunday closing in Ireland. I wish to express the very great regret which is felt by some hon. Members that the Government have decided to drop their new Education Code, which was in many respects an excellent improvement. The pressure, however, which has been brought to bear by hon. Gentlemen sitting on their own side of the House has been too great to enable the Government to carry the Code.
§ * MR SPEAKER
The question now before the House is whether words shall be added to the Resolution to exempt two Fridays from the operation of the 142 Resolution. Anything in regard to the business for those two days will be in order, but the Amendment must be disposed of before the general question can be entered into.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
No; not the general question, only the proposal to exempt two Fridays, the Amendment being not to omit, but to add words as a proviso.
§ MR. BUXTON
Then I will content myself with joining in the protest against the Government's proposal.
§ MR. GLADSTONE (Edinburgh, Mid Lothian)
I wish to speak in no spirit of hostility to the Motion which has been made by the right hon. Gentleman, and I appreciate the spirit in which he has made his statement. But with regard to the question addressed by the hon. Member for Glasgow (Dr. Cameron) as to the intention of the Government to proceed with certain Scotch Bills to which the right hon. Gentleman did not refer, I take it for granted that the Government do not intend to proceed with those measures. In speaking of this Amendment, the whole subject in discussion only amounts to seven or eight hours, and we ought not to consume any appreciable amount of that time in disposing of the Amendment. The whole question comes to a proposal on the part of two hon. Gentlemen to take one day from the demands of the Government. That proposal ought to be judged with reference to the importance and urgency of their Motions. I feel bound to support that proposal. It is a reasonable one in my opinion, and as regards the question of the taxation of London, it is, I think, one of the most urgent cases that we have before us in the whole circle of our business. As to the other Motion, the hon. Member for Glasgow refers to an important question of principle upon which the Scotch Members, by a very large majority, have already declared their judgment in this House; and my hon. Friend is entitled, I think, to the demands which he makes for a reasonable time in which to discuss it. I admit that, so far, I am deducting from the time for which the right hon. Gentleman asks. But I am going to make a suggestion, not in a hostile spirit, which, in my opinion, 143 would save exactly the same amount of time, and certainly not less than that which I ask the right hon. Gentleman to forego. He says it is not the intention of the Government to proceed with the Tithe Bill through the House, but to take the judgment of the House on the Second Reading of the Bill.
§ MR. GLADSTONE
Then I do not make my suggestion; but to take the Second Reading without proceeding with the Bill would certainly be a waste of time. But as to whether the right hon. Gentleman will be able to carry the Bill onwards, as he declares he hopes to do, I entertain shrewd doubts, not because I am hostile to a settlement of the question—on the contrary, I think it desirable and even urgent—but because the right hon. Gentleman will find that the passage of the Bill will demand a great deal of his energy and the time of the House. But, as I have said, this Amendment constitutes a fair case of appeal to the House, and I shall support it.
§ * MR. W. H. SMITH
I think that the very courteous observations of the right hon. Gentleman require some reply. The right hon. Gentleman has anticipated what I thought had been understood by the House—namely, that if there is material opposition to the measures to which the hon. Member for Glasgow referred, it would not be possible for the Government to press them in the present Session. In mentioning the measures which the Government intend to press, I think the House understands that no other Bills of importance will be pressed if determined opposition is raised. I would remind the House that all the Votes in Supply, beginning with Class 3, have to be disposed of, and this is a consideration which hon. Members must take into account. With regard to the Motion standing in the name of the hon. Member for Hackney (Mr. Stuart) that Motion stands purely as an abstract Resolution. In this most important question for the ratepayers of London, the hon. Member has not, as he should have done, shown, in the form of a Bill, how he intends to apply the principles which he advocates. The question is one which ought only to be entered upon by the House in the form of a practical working measure. If the hon. Member 144 for Glasgow looks at the Papers which record the business of the House, he will find that more time has been afforded to private Members by the Government during the present Session than in past years, but whether that is so or not, the Government have a duty to perform, and I must ask the House to say whether the arrangements I have proposed will not, on the whole, tend to the advancement of public business. On these grounds I must adhere to the proposal I have made.
§ MR. J. ROWLANDS (Finsbury, E.)
The right hon. Gentleman has failed to make out a case against the Amendment of my hon. Friend. I think that a very strong case has been made out for asking time for the consideration of the question of taxation in London. The only reason given by the right hon. Gentleman why the Resolution of my hon. Friend should not be proceeded with is that it is an abstract Resolution, but it appears to me that the more discussion we can have on these complex questions, and the more opinions are concentrated, the better in the end will be the Bill which will be formulated. I can promise the right hon. Gentleman that the Liberal Members will bring in a Bill next year, and we hope he will, be prepared to consider and assist in passing it. So far we have had to deal with the question of taxation in London under extraordinary circumstances; twice with the Standing Orders suspended. I think the Government ought to make us the small recompense of permitting the full discussion of the incidence of taxation in London. People outside this House will, I am certain, look for something on the subject much more definite than the statement of the right hon. Gentleman. We are told by the London County Council that the ratepayers of London are so overburdened with taxation that it is impossible to carry out many much needed improvements.
§ * MR. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)
As a Metropolitan Member I am exceedingly sorry that owing to the pressure of business we cannot debate the question of Metropolitan taxation. It is quite a mistake to believe that the handful of Members representing London constituencies on the other side of the House are the only persons who feel an interest in the question. The 145 50 Members who sit on this side have quite as great an interest in it. I hope that the Government will next year bring forward some practical resolution on the subject.
§ * MR. PICKERSGILL (Bethnal Green, S.W.)
The responsibility for the postponement of the discussion rests with the Metropolitan Conservative Members, who can, if they choose, put such pressure on the Government as would compel them to give the time asked for. The hon. Member has sneered at the paucity of the number of the Liberal Members for London. He may be entitled to do that; but I desire to point out that the greater the number of the Conservative Members, the greater is their responsibility. I have no doubt that the people of London will not be slow to observe that the most conspicuous result of the present ascendancy of Conservatism is a gross neglect of the interest of London.
§ MAJOR RASCH (Essex, S.E.)
On the part of the agricultural interest I protect against the Motion of the First Lord of the Treasury on the ground that it takes away my opportunity of moving the Resolution of which I have given notice. At this moment, in the county of Essex, we are subjected to great hardship owing to the payment of compensation for animals suffering from pleuro-pneumonia which are compulsorily slaughtered.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! Is the Motion referred to by the hon. Member down for either of the Fridays included in the Amendment?
§ The House divided:—Ayes 145; Noes 234.—(Div. List, No. 196.)
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)
I make complaint, not unnaturally, that the Government should take away the time of private Members entirely, but I make complaint especially as to a matter to which the right hon. Gentleman himself drew attention. The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury drew attention to the Indian Council Bill, but put it that an economy of £6,000 a year would be effected if the Bill were not opposed. It would have been a fairer way to treat the 146 matter to say that, the Government has twice taken away from myself the time for the consideration of the larger proposal for Indian Reform, to which this Indian Council Bill is only the smallest fringe. I will tell the right hon. Gentleman at once that as the measure will produce an economy of £6,000 a year, I shall withdraw the Notice of opposition which stands in my name to the Indian Council Bill; but I have a right to complain, not only that the opportunity of calling attention to the scheme of Indian reform has been taken away from me by the Government, but that even at the end of the Session there is no intimation as to when the Indian Budget statement will be made, or whether, under the operation of the new rule, I shall, on the Motion that the Speaker do leave the Chair, be permitted to raise the very important matters which are covered by the Motion which stands in my name. This is a matter affecting considerably over 200,000,000 of people—probably, as near as possible, 210,000,000—without counting the population of the Native States, and we are to be thrown again, not simply to the end of the. Session when the Benches are empty, but, by the operation of the new rules, we are to be precluded from really discusssing, even on that occasion, Indian grievances. When I drew the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to the new rule last Session, I had to refer to the fact that it could never have been intended to shut out the great mass of the Indian subjects of Her Majesty. When are they to come to Parliament with any statement of their grievances? When are they to be able to lay before the High Court of Parliament what they consider to be their just claims for redress? I would ask the Leaders on both sides of the House to consider the gravity of making India dumb Session after Session. When are the people of India to have the opportunity of making a Constitutional and temperate statement of their grievances? It is no use telling them that they ought to be peaceful and patient, and keep themselves within constitutional lines, if the Government take care that within the limits of the Constitution no opportunity is given them to submit their claims. I am in favour of a measure which will have the effect of getting rid of some 147 of the Members of the Secretary of State's Indian Council, for I am one of those who consider the whole of the Council useless, and desire to see it got rid of. I see no reason why the Indian Secretary any more than the Colonial Secretary should have a Council here, and I shall be glad to give whatever assistance I can to the Government in their endeavour to reduce the number of that Council, but the complaint is that with a very large matter to submit to the House, we are denied the opportunity which we have fairly gained, according to the Rules of the House; but, as I will not allow a Motion of mine to stand in the way of even a small economy, with these few words I will strike it off the Paper.
§ MR. BAUMANN (Camberwell, Peckham)
I desire to ask whether the Government intend to proceed with the Superannuation Bill, and to lay the Treasury Minute on the Table of the House? The right hon. Gentleman has made no allusion to them, though a large number of people are interested in the subject.
§ * MR. S. RENDEL (Montgomeryshire)
The First Lord of the Treasury made no allusion to a measure in which he has often expressed an interest—namely, the Intermediate Education (Wales) Bill. The Bill was read a second time in May, and the Government then asked for time to prepare certain Amendments. They took seven weeks to prepare the Amendments, and though I do not desire to take this or any other opportunity for indulging in reproaches, must say I think that Welsh Members are justified in asking that some special arrangement shall be made to proceed with the Bill. There is practical unanimity among the Welsh Members save in regard to a few points which can be satisfactorily settled in a spirit of mutual compromise, and having regard to this fact I hope that if next Wednesday, when the Bill stands first on the Paper, is taken by the Government, some other opportunity of proceeding with it will be afforded. Wales has for a long time had held out to it by the Leaders of both Parties promises of intermediate education legislation. We very naturally expected this Session that at last something was going to be done. It would, however, seem that all the Government propose to do for Wales in the way of 148 legislation is to give it a Tithe Bill. That measure has not been read a second time, still the Government think they should include it in the vital measures to be passed this Session, while they shut out an Education Bill already in a very forward stage. Surely this giving a Tithe measure, and refusing an Intermediate Education Bill will be a most unhappy coincidence.
§ MAJOR RASCH
I would remind the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury that he did not refer to the matter upon which I ventured to trouble the House just now, namely, the system of compensating for the slaughter of animals under the Contagious Diseases (Animals) Acts. If the right hon. Gentleman will only give us an assurance that the matter will be seriously considered by the Government during the Recess, we shall be quite satisfied.
§ MR. STOREY (Sunderland)
The right hon. Gentleman just now in announcing the withdrawal of the Irish Drainage Bills, referred in almost pathetic tones to the action which had been taken on these Benches. He spoke like the good fairy who is supposed to scatter all sorts of blessings on Ireland, and we, I suppose, are the black magicians who are standing in the way of his beneficent operations. Well, we are quite prepared to take the responsibility. We have acted in the interest of the English and Scotch taxpayers, and not only that, but the Irish people also approve of our action. I wonder whether the right hon. Gentleman has had placed before him the deliverances of the important bodies of public opinion in the districts affected by these Bills. He seems to talk as if the Barrow and the Shannon Bills are blessings which the Government desire to bestow on Ireland. Well, I am sorry that the Chief Secretary is not in his place, for I should have liked to ask him a question. In his absence I will ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether he is aware that the Clare County Grand Jury, the Limerick Board of Fishery Conservators, the Limerick County Grand Jury, and the King's County Grand Jury, have pronounced in the most emphatic manner against these particular Bills? I will read to the House the deliverance of the King's County Grand Jury. It cannot be sup- 149 posed that it is a Nationalist Grand Jury. They say:—That having heard the Report of the Committee appointed to consider the Shannon and Barrow Drainage Bills now before Parliament, we, the Grand Jury of the King's County, feel unable to recommend the said Bills to the favourable consideration of the cess-payers, seeing that those provisions will entail greatly increased taxation for what are, in our opinion, very doubtful and inadequate benefits; moreover, the proposed works have been adopted in opposition to the opinion of nearly all the experts examined by the Royal Commission on Irish Works.I want nothing more than that to justify the opposition I have taken to these Bills.
§ * SIR ROPER LETHBRIDGE (Kensington, N.)
I desire to emphasize, in the strongest terms I can command, an appeal to the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury and to Her Majesty's Government, to afford some opportunity, during what little remains to us of the present Session, for a fuller and more general discussion of the affairs of India and its general administration than has hitherto been possible this year. Some, probably most, of the opposition that has been threatened to the India Council Bill of the Under Secretary of State has, I believe, really been due to a strong feeling on the part of a good many hon. Members that the affairs of India at large have not received from the House of Commons the attention they deserve. The effect of the new rule, that was passed last year in our amended rules of procedure, in regard to the yearly Debates on the Indian Budget, has been to preclude all general discussion of Indian affairs, and to admit therein nothing but Indian Finance. It is true that the chances of the ballot have occasionally afforded to individual Members the opportunity of raising Debates on some specific point relating to India, and those opportunities have been utilized by myself and other hon. Members to the utmost extent possible for us. But this opportunity is, of course, confined to those Members who are successful in this ballot, and it must be clear to the House that, in present circumstances, the possibility of discussing any important Indian question is of exceedingly rare occurrence, and is left absolutely to chance. What is wanted is, not these discussions on isolated topics, 150 but the opportunity for such a general discussion as that which formerly took place on the introduction of the Indian Budget. Similiar opportunities in regard to Home, and even Colonial affairs, are afforded in abundance in the Debates on the Estimates. But the House should remember that we have no discussion of Indian Estimates other than the Debate on the Indian Budget; and the solitary little opportunity we used to possess of raising such a discussion has been taken away by this new rule. Sir, I believe that the House at large is not at all aware of this remarkable, and, as I think, disastrous effect of the new rule. I know for certain that many hon. Members have not realized it, and I believe that the country would not approve of it. That effect is, however, very generally and very bitterly resented in India; it is attributed to the apathy of the House by those who are not aware that it is due to our rules of procedure. I would, therefore, most earnestly appeal to my right hon. Friend the First Lord, to consider whether some opportunity cannot be given us this year for such a discussion as we desire, and further, whether Her Majesty's Government cannot propose to this House some alteration of a rule which has produced results that are, in the opinion of the people of India, so objectionable in their character.
SIR H.VIVIAN (Swansea District)
I desire to add my earnest appeal to the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House, that he will in some way enable the Intermediate Education (Wales) Bill to be carried this Session. We are in so close an agreement with regard to the measure that a discussion of two hours will possibly fettle the question, and will give to Wales the great blessing of intermediate education.
§ * MR. SWETENHAM (Carnarvon, &c.)
I join with the last speaker in making an appeal to the Government on this subject. In consequence of the concessions that either have been made or are about to be made by the Government to the introducer of the Bill, the way has been paved to a concession on both sides, and I cannot help thinking that if an hour or two were given to us in this House we should be able to pass a Bill which would have a most bene- 151 ficial effect upon the prospective education of Wales.
§ MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)
I desire not only to support what has been said by the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, but also what has fallen from the hon. Member opposite (Sir R. Lethbridge) and the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh) with regard to Indian questions. The grievance of which hon. Members complain arises from the practice of this House, and the only real remedy is to give such power of bringing forward measures according to the interest which is taken in them by hon. Members. I do not know whether the House realises the complete change which has taken place with reference to the legislation passed by private Members. Formerly the most useful legislation of this House was embodied in measures passed by private Members. This diminished under the operation of the half-past twelve o'clock rule. In the Parliament of 1880 to 1885 they passed a considerable number of these useful measures, among them being the Married Women's Property Bill. But under the present rules such measures could not possibly be passed. Such a Bill as the London Parochial Charities Bill, which was opposed by a small but active section of this House, could not be passed under the present rules. I brought forward a Resolution that hon. Members should be allowed to put their names to the Bills which they regarded as of most importance. The matter was discussed at some length, and the Government opposing the Motion, then made promises to consider whether or not it would be possible to introduce some rules in regard to private Members Bills, so that they might be brought on in the order of their importance, and to precede those measures in which a small number of Members were interested. The House will bear in mind that of private Members' legislation this Session there is hardly any, except the Intermediate Education (Wales) Bill, and the Technical Education Bill. These were Bills which, could they have been brought on at the proper time, that is, early in the Session, would certainly have been passed into law. Under the present system these Bills have little or no chance. I hope this question of the rules with 152 regard to private Members' Bills will be taken into serious consideration, and that a reform will be insisted upon.
§ MR. J. C. STEVENSON (S. Shields)
I cannot refrain from expressing the deep sense of disappointment felt by many people in the country, that their hopes with regard to a measure in which they are greatly interested should be extinguished—I refer to the Sunday Closing Bill. The Second Reading of that measure awakened hopes which are not to be realized. I have been unfortunate in not having found an opportunity to get the Bill into Committee. I appealed to the right hon. Gentleman for facilities, even suggesting Saturday sittings, but have not been able to obtain them. The people of this country attach the greatest importance to the Sunday Closing Bill, and they will be unable to understand how it is that the House cannot spare the small amount of time necessary to come to a decision upon it. Petitions have been presented in favour of the Bill from 117 Town Councils throughout the kingdom, including towns of from 20,000 to 50,000 population—Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Blackburn, and a number of others. Upwards of 400 Boards of Guardians have petitioned in favour of this Bill, besides which there have been numerous petitions from School Boards. I say the people of this country will not be able to understand how the House can disregard such an expression of opinion, or how they can pass the Second Reading and then disappoint the expectations which have been raised. If the Government take all the time of private Members in the middle of July, how can we possibly hope to carry these measures of private Members to the stage of full maturity at which they must be passed after a few hours' discussion? I really protest on behalf of private Members against this practice of taking private Members' Wednesdays in the middle of July, all the more because hon. Members who have a difficult public and private duty to discharge, should not be debarred from taking the opinion of the House upon the measures of which they have charge.
§ MR. A. H. D. ACLAND (Rotherham)
I am sure I may say a few words on the Technical Education Bill, the more especially as it is a quasi 153 Government Measure. This Bill was brought in in 1887, and read a second time on the 9th August. At that time the First Lord of the Treasury said it was a most urgent question for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to give grants to agricultural education in relief of the rates. Five thousand pounds have been given to agricultural education, but the question of technical education in the industrial districts still remains urgent. In 1888 the subject was mentioned in the Queen's Speech; in 1889 it was not mentioned at all. There have been conferences between Members on this and Members on the other side of the House with the view to coming to an agreement, and if they succeeded we might fairly hope to make progress with the Bill. I hope the First Lord of the Treasury will see his way to giving us some kind of encouragement that progress will be made with the Bill, and that it will even become law this Session. What we ask is that the Government's Amendments should be carefully considered, and we should rather take a part of what we want if we cannot manage to get the whole. Let us take what in principle was urged in 1887 for the great industrial districts—secondary education; let us take that if we can get nothing more. If we can get nothing for England in this matter, the Government will be placed in the position of having done nothing whatever for education in England during three years. They will have given Scotland technical education, and wholly or partially free education, and they will have given to Wales intermediate education and technical education; and if you cannot give this measure to England you will have left her untouched in regard to education for three years. That makes a fair consideration, and certainly if progress is made with this measure, we shall do our best not to make difficulties in Committee. The charge of obstruction made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in 1887 will not lie on this side of the House on the present occasion. We will remember that after all the Bill is only a Permissive Bill, and that there are great industrial centres of England earnestly waiting for it, and we will do the best we can to pass it.
§ MR. DIXON (Edgbaston, Birmingham)
I rise for the purpose of ex- 154 pressing the great regret which I feel at the withdrawal of the Code—a regret which I know is shared by a great many Members in this House, and also by a great number of educationists in the country. I also wish to draw the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to the articles in the new Education Code which promote the institution of day training colleges. In the Amendments placed on the Paper I do not see any objection to these articles which have been accepted, I think I may say, universally. The suggestion I have to make is that the right hon. Gentleman should consult with hon. Members behind him on the subject, and afterwards that he should allow these minutes of the Education Department to be placed upon the Table of the House. I ask that not only because these articles form an extremely important part of the new Code, but also because it is one of those developments which would be of very slow growth. At Birmingham we are perfectly willing to take upon ourselves the burden of establishing a day training college, and in that way we shall afford the country the value of our experience. My impression is that it would be a wise thing on the part of the Government to make an experiment in this direction.
§ SIR H. ROSCOE (Manchester)
I join in the appeal to the right hon. Gentleman. The Technical Education Bill has been read a Second Time. We are now in Committee, and we believe that a very few hours would bring this matter to a successful issue. The question has been before the country for no less than three years; it is not a Party question, it is a matter which we all desire to see dealt with this Session. It is a subject in which great interest is taken in Manchester, and the Department has been memorialized in favour of the Bill as it stands. We have in Manchester a noble benefaction by the late Sir Joseph Whitworth; but it is standing idle because we cannot get power to apply the rates to the purposes of technical education. I do trust that the right hon. Gentleman will give us some hope that we shall be able to come to terms as regards the Amendments proposed by the Government, and that we shall be able to bring this matter to a successful issue in the course of the present Session.
§ * MR. ESSLEMONT (Aberdeen)
Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will allow me to join in the appeal made on the other side of the House with regard to the Cattle Diseases Act. I wish the right hon. Gentleman to understand that the Scotch counties are very much interested in this, and we shall be very grateful to Her Majesty's Government if they will give the matter their careful consideration during the Recess.
§ MR. T. E. ELLIS (Merionethshire)
I hope the Government will be able to meet the requests of Gentlemen on both sides of the House with regard to these three educational questions—the New Code, Intermediate Education in Wales, and Technical Education. It would be a thousand pities if the clause to which the hon. Member for Birmingham has called attention were dropped because there are certain other parts of the Code to which hon. Members object; and I trust there may be some means of making that part of the Code on which there is absolute unanimity become law this Session. The right hon. Gentleman has referred to the Tithe Rent Charge Bill, which will be opposed by hon. Members on both sides of the House, and therefore it will be practically impossible to carry it this Session. Why, then, waste the time of the House upon it? Here are three questions on which there is something like unanimity, and which a few hours' each would dispose of? May I ask the right hon. Gentleman not to waste time on the Tithes Bill, and to allow these three educational measures to be passed this Session?
§ * MR. JAMES ELLIS (Leicestershire, Bosworth)
I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether it is intended to proceed with the Industrial Schools Bill?
§ * MR. W.H. SMITH
Mr. Speaker, I desire to answer the numerous questions which have been put to me, and I shall be exceedingly sorry if I am unable to satisfy every hon. Member. The hon. Member for Northampton and my hon. Friend behind me called attention to the affairs of India, but, if my memory has not deceived me, there have been Indian discussions this Session of very considerable importance. As to the objection which the hon. Member takes to the Standing Order which prevents a discussion on questions of the latitude he raises on the Indian subject, I have 156 to point out that there is another side to the question. The Resolutions regarding the finances of India are intended to give an opportunity of expressing an opinion upon very grave questions of finance in India; and if it were the pleasure of the House to entertain a substantial Motion before the House goes into Committee upon the Indian Budget, the effect of such a proposal would be to postpone the supervision of the finances of India to an indefinite period of the evening, and probably prevent the discussion for which it was the intention of the Standing Order to provide. I must thank the hon. Member for withdrawing his opposition to the Bill, which, though a small, is a useful measure, and accept the intimation from; him as a contribution to the passing of the Bill. Sir, the Member for Peckham has asked our intention with regard to the recommendations of the Royal Commissioners on Civil Service superannuations. It is the intention of the Government to bring in a Bill to give effect to these recommendations this Session. The Bill is already drafted and will shortly be laid before the House. With regard to the Intermediate Education (Wales) Bill, I think I have given evidence that I am most desirous that it should be passed into law this Session. If the Government had not displayed a desire to pass the Bill, it would have been obviously impossible that hon. Gentlemen could have advanced the Bill to its present stage. But we must meet each other fairly if the Bill is to be passed. We have indicated proposals which we considered to be necessary, and I trust hon. Gentlemen will confer with my right hon. Friend the Vice President of the County Council out of the House, as I think some hon. Gentlemen propose to do, with a view to arriving at a complete understanding on the matter, I believe it is possible, and if we arrive at an understanding, there would be no difficulty in passing the Bill after 12 o'clock. With regard to the Technical Education Bill, the Government are most desirous that a measure of that kind shall be passed. I think it is possible that the Amendments might be considered out of the House, and that we might find time to pass the measure. My hon. Friend (Major Rasch) has mentioned a question which the Government will certainly consider during the Recess. 157 But we are bound to take into consideration any circumstances such as the imposition of fresh burdens upon the Exchequer, however important the question may be. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Aberdeen raised a question into which I do not think it desirable that I should follow him. We are not now discussing the rules and regulations of public business. The hon. Member might give the subject his consideration during the Recess, and when he returns, he would find to what extent hon. Members generally are disposed to give adhesion to the practical suggestions he may be able to make. The hon. Member for Shields referred to the Sunday Closing Bill. It is a measure around which rages a war which will certainly be prolonged and bitter, and I am afraid that it would take more than two Wednesdays to get the Bill into Committee. And as to Saturdays I very much doubt whether even the supporters of the measure would care to endeavour to pass on a Saturday a measure which would certainly be talked out. I hope the hon. Member will be more fortunate in getting an early position in next Session, but it is impossible for the House to pass it this Session. The hon. Member for Birmingham referred to the New Code, which we have abandoned for this Session. I am afraid, though I will not be positive, that it would hardly be possible to take one clause of the Code. I do not think there is any other subject with which it is necessary for me to deal.
MR. JOHN MORLEY (Newcastle)
I think we are agreed that the right hon. Gentleman has made a good choice, considering the circumstances, in fixing upon the Technical Education Bill and the Intermediate Education Bill as the two measures with which progress shall be made. But I must be allowed to make one remark, and raise one word of protest as to the method in which it is proposed by the right hon. Gentleman to advance these two Bills. The House cannot have failed to notice that these two Bills are in fact to be settled outside this House, and it will be apparent that a process of that kind places the Members in charge of the Bill practically at the mercy of the Government. I hope that the Government will not abuse their advantage. 158 Still the advantage exists, and I should like to give the House an illustration of it in connection with the Welsh Intermediate Education Bill. All of us who are interested in that Bill will remember that several hours were consumed, and, as the result proved, were wasted, in consequence of the attitude of the Government themselves. It was on account of the unfortunate Amendment which the right hon. Gentleman has since, at discretion, withdrawn. I am not using the term "at discretion" in an ill-natured sense, but he was compelled to withdraw it by the discussion which took place, and the expression of opinion which came from Members sitting on his own side of the House. I want to point out to the House that if that Amendment had been brought forward by him in a private conference, he would not have been able to find out how strong the general opposition to it was. And there are other points in connection with Welsh Intermediate Eduction on which it is most desirable he should have the fullest opportunity of knowing the views held by the Welsh Members. If we cannot have a proper and legitimate opportunity—and the only legitimate opportunity of discussing measures of this kind is in the whole House—I have no doubt that my hon. Friends the Members for Wales will accept this arrangement as second best. I hope, however, that they will only accept it on the understanding that the Government do not use the opportunities they have got of preventing my hon. Friends from opening their mouths afterwards upon this most important subject.
§ * THE VICE-PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL FOR EDUCATION (SIR W. HART DYKE,) Kent, Dartford
I think it is only fair I should say one word, and offer a very mild protest against the attitude taken up by the right hon. Gentleman opposite. He rather led the House to infer that in consequence of the attitude of the Government, expressed through me, there was some delay in the passing of this Bill through the House. I venture to say that that is not so. We had a very short discussion indeed with reference to the question of the inclusion of Monmouth, but this is a far more important matter than the right hon. Gentleman thinks. However, the result of that discussion has been that I have 159 been able carefully to discuss the matter with my Colleagues, and to make what we consider to be large and considerable concessions, not only in the interests of this measure, but also in the interests of Welsh education. I should also like to make one statement of an explanatory character. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the House has suggested that some discussion should take place outside the walls of the House. I think it is always best to be open and above-board on these matters, and I believe the remark of my right hon. Friend merely results from this, that I have received an invitation to meet all the hon. Members for Wales on both sides of the House, and to discuss this matter. I will only say further that I shall do my utmost to urge my right hon. Friend to give as much time as is at the disposal of the Government to pass this measure into law, and I would also observe that if the Welsh Members could meet and come to some agreement as to the future of the measure, it might easily be passed through this House even at a late hour of the night.
§ * MR. CHANNING (Northampton)
said: He had heard with satisfaction the announcement of the President of the Board of Trade that he would bring in early next week the Bill he had promised to enable the Board of Trade to enforce the adoption of automatic brakes, and other appliances and arrangements indispensable for the safety of railway working. He hoped that Her Majesty's Government would not only bring in but pass the Bill into law this Session. After the recent ghastly demonstration of its necessity he could not imagine that it would meet with any opposition in any quarter of the House, or that any of those specially interested in railways would raise objections to a reasonably drawn Bill such as was indispensable to make the Board of Trade effective as the guardian of public safety.
Main Question put, and agreed to.
Resolved, "That, for the remainder of the Session, Government Business have priority on Wednesday; that, unless the House otherwise order, the House shall meet on Friday, at Three of the clock; and that Standing Order 11 be suspended, and the provisions of Standing Order 56 be extended to the other days of the week.