§ Motion made, and Question proposed,. "That this House will, upon Wednesday next, resolve itself into a Committee to take into consideration Her Majesty's Most Gracious Messages of 2nd July."—(Mr. William Henry Smith.)
§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
Of course I have no wish to go into the merits of the question at present, but I propose, when the right hon. Gentleman does move that you, Sir, leave the Chair, to oppose that Motion. At the same time I do think that Wednesday is a little too early. We have only reported today, and, perhaps, with great pushing it may be possible to get the Report and Appendices in the hands of Members on Wednesday morning, but not before, I apprehend. [Mr. W. H. SMITH dissented.]Well, if in the hands of 995 Members, they will not be in the newspapers and before the country before Wednesday. [Cries of "Oh!"] What am I to understand by the attitude of hon. Members opposite? Do they wish to push this matter on before the country has had an opportunity of understanding it? I was in hopes that the right hon. Gentleman was going to make this Resolution on a later day than Wednesday. But, as he does not appear to intend doing so, I beg to move that Monday next be substituted for Wednesday.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "Wednesday," and insert the words "Monday next,"—(Mr. Labou-chere,)—instead thereof.
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'Wednesday' stand part of the Question."
§ * MR. W. H. SMITH
In naming Wednesday I thought I had endeavoured to meet the views of the hon. Gentleman and his friends. It must be understood that this is but the initial stage of a measure which will have to pass through, first of all, a Committee of this House, a Report of this House, Second Reading, Committee stage, and Third Reading in this House. Therefore, opportunities will be afforded to hon. Gentlemen on several days for the consideration of this proposal. I therefore hope that hon. Gentlemen will see that the general convenience of the House is advanced by considering the matter as soon as reasonably can be arranged. The Papers will be circulated to-morrow, and every exertion will be made to furnish them to Members at the earliest possible moment. I hope hon. Gentlemen will be as well able to discuss the principles involved in the report on Wednesday as on a later day. I certainly could not accept postponement of the discussion until Monday.
§ MR. GLADSTONE (Edinburgh, Mid Lothian)
I am very glad to hear from the right hon. Gentleman that he has a confident expectation that the Papers, including the Report of the Committee, and the Papers handed in as Appendices, will be in the hands of hon. Members tomorrow. It would be hardly well to invite the House to consider on Wednesday at 12 o'clock Papers only received at 10 o'clock. But, assuming that they are circulated to-morrow, I hope the House will be disposed to take 996 the Motion on Wednesday. Partly from the nature of the subject, partly from the character of the reference which has been made to the House, and which has now been before the public for ten days or more, and partly from the date at which we have arrived in the Session, it is very desirable that we should proceed with this matter at the earliest possible moment, even if it were only that hon. Members might be sure that they would have every reasonable and fair opportunity of discussing the question. It is not like a matter where the information is very occult. It is easily brought into view; and I do not think that it has ever been a practice of the House to require in questions of this kind the intervention of any long interval before proceeding. On the assumption that we have the Papers tomorrow, I hope that the House may be disposed to agree to the Motion.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH
Of course, I do not know what the contents of the Report may be, but, assuming that the Reportcontains some reference to matters which have been already raised in debate as, for example, the savings on the Civil List clauses, it will require some few hours for Members who have not had the advantage of the discussion in Committee to inquire into the various precedents. And, of course, if we get the Papers even the first thing to-morrow morning that will not be easy. Hon. Members opposite have evidently not followed the precedents in these matters as closely as I have. To carelessly go through the Papers will only prolong the Debate, and, perhaps, raise questions which might be avoided. Unless the right hon. Gentleman is perfectly sure that the Report and Appendices will be in the hands of Hon. Members tomorrow, I hope he will postpone the date.
§ MR. STOREY (Sunderland)
The right hon. Gentleman has been far from trying to meet the views of the hon. Member for Northampton, who suggested Thursday. [Cries of "Monday."] I am quite accurate; I am quite aware that my hon. Friend named Monday, but I am referring to what passed in the Committee, when the hon. Gentleman proposed Thursday.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
I wish to explain. I cannot refer to what passed in the Committee because it is not official. 997 My hon. Friend asked me when I should like to take this discussion, and I then stated that I was in hopes, from what had fallen unofficially from the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury, that he would assent to take the discussion on Thursday. If he will agree to Thursday then I think that in this part of the House we are perfectly ready to accept the motion.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Question amended, by leaving out the word "Wednesday," and inserting the word "Thursday."
§ Resolved, That this House will, upon Thursday next, resolve itself into a Committee to take into consideration Her Majesty's Most Gracious Messages of 2nd July.