§ (12.19.) MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
I wish to ask the First Lord of the Treasury if he does not remember giving a pledge to the House that he would take the Foreign Office Vote first after all the legislation was disposed of? I see that the Scotch Estimates are put down as effective Supply for to-day. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to remember that there is such a place as England, and that it cannot submit to be trodden under foot in this way by Scotland and Ireland. I ask him to remember, further, when a Scotchman says that Scotland is a long way off that it signifies very little whether hon. Members have to travel five miles or 500, because if they have to go away at all they cannot be in the House. I beg to ask him, therefore, if he will not adhere to the arrangement originally made?
§ (12.20.) THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH, Strand, Westminster)
My recollection of what occurred is that I agreed to set aside a particular day for the discussion of the Foreign Office Vote in order that the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. Gladstone), who takes an interest in it, should have reasonable ground for knowing when it would come on. In putting down Supply to-day, the hon. Member must see that we have put it down after a number of Bills. We hope that those Bills may be passed to-day, but we can have no assurance that that will be so. If Supply is reached we hope to make progress with the Scotch Estimates, and we propose to put down the Foreign Office Vote for Friday. Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who take an interest in that Vote will have due notice, which they could not have now, and will be able to arrange for their attendance. I may add that Supply will be the first Order on Friday, and that the Foreign Office Vote will then, in any circumstances, be taken. I have every reason to hope that we shall practically conclude the discussion of 3 Bills to-morrow, and after the Foreign Office Vote we propose to take Class II. of the Civil Service Estimates in the order in which they stand.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
We propose to take the remainder of the Bills to-morrow, and then to proceed with the Scotch Estimates.
§ MR. CHILDERS (Edinburgh, S.)
Then it may be quite understood that the Foreign Office Vote will be the first business on Friday?
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
Yes, Sir; I think it is for the convenience of the House that a definite fixture should be made.
§ MR. CHILDERS
I am bound to say that the intimation which has just been given by the right hon. Gentleman is in precise accordance with the original understanding.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
I have no objection to the understanding that the Scotch Estimates, under the circumstances, shall be taken, if they are reached, and that the Foreign Office Vote shall be proceeded with on Friday.
§ MR. SHAW LEFEVRE (Bradford, Central)
Has any decision been arrived at in regard to the Savings Banks Bill? I think the Government exaggerate very greatly the character of the Opposition, and I am of opinion that three or four hours would dispose of the Bill.
§ (12.23.) MR. W. H. SMITH
We still entertain the hope that we may be able to come to an arrangement with the Opposition. But when we found 37 notices of opposition given by hon. Gentlemen on that side of the House, we were bound to re-consider our position.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
We are very desirous of passing the Bill, but at this period of the Session we can only do so with the general consent of the House; and if hon. Gentlemen, in sufficient number, refuse their consent, we have no alternative but to yield.
§ SIR G. CAMPBELL (Kirkcaldy, &c.)
I wish to make another appeal in the interests of the Scotch Members. We understood that the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian took an interest in the 4 Foreign Office Vote, and we were all willing to yield to him. But we think it is only justice to the Scotch Members that the Scotch Estimates should now be taken first, and continued until they are disposed of. I need scarcely tell the First Lord of the Treasury that he will not get rid of me by getting rid of the Scotch Votes; but I am aware that there are many of my Colleagues who desire to leave town to whom it would be inconvenient to be kept here on Friday. Surely it would be quite as convenient to take the Foreign Office Vote next week. I should like also to know whether the right hon. Gentleman proposes an all night sitting, because I see that other important Votes are put down after the Scotch Votes.
§ (12.24.) MR. HOWELL (Bethnal Green, N.E.)
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he does not think that the opposition which has been brought to bear against the Savings Bank Bill is a strong argument in favour of the passing of that measure?
§ DR. CLARK (Caithness)
The opposition to the Savings Bank Bill is centred on one point. The desire is that there should be an increase allowed in the amount deposited in a Savings Bank in one year, and also in the total amount. That is the only point we are fighting, and if the Government will give way upon that point the Bill will pass early.
§ (12.25.) MR. W. H. SMITH
I think that the observation of the right hon. Member for South Edinburgh (Mr. Childers) is a sufficient answer to the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir G. Campbell). It is impossible at this period of the Session to make an alteration in the business which has been arranged solely for the convenience of an individual Member, however important that Member may be. I have intimated that we intend to put the Foreign Office Vote on the Paper for Friday, and I shall ask the House to consider it on that day. With regard to the question of the hon. Member for Dundee (Mr. E. Robertson), it is impossible to say whether any purely Departmental Bill will or will not have to be introduced. The hon. Member is not acquainted with the exigencies of legislation, but it does occasionally 5 happen that a measure of as purely Departmental character has to be introduced at the last moment. I will promise, however, that the Government will not introduce any measure, or ask the House to consider any measure, which is not absolutely necessary. As to an all night sitting, all I can say is that I believe there is a general and a reasonable desire to proceed with public business.