§ Bill considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Clause 1.
§ (2.0.) MR. T. M. HEALY (Longford, N.)
We have not had an opportunity of examining this Bill. It was only delivered to Members last evening, and the House will excuse us if we have been unable to put Amendments on the Paper. The object of the measure is to expedite the construction of light railways in Ireland. Now, I desire that the construction of these railways should be expedited, and I, therefore, propose that the notices which the Government wish to have bandied about amongst landlords should be dispensed with. My Motion will test the sincerity and bona fides of the Government. The Government passed a Light Railways Bill last year, for 12 months they have slept upon it doing absolutely nothing, and now an expedition 1081 rash has broken out upon them. They desire to dispense with the dates in the original Act, and substitute those in the Schedule of the Bill. Well, I think it would be fair on their part to throw the cards down on the table. At present they have given us little or no information. I have just been reading the speech of the Secretary to the Treasury, and I see that he has succeeded, practically, in keeping us uninformed on a great many vital points. It is said that the Bill is to meet impending distress in Ireland, but I deny that, and believe that it will do no more to avert impending distress than the Anglo-German or the Anglo-French Treaty. I therefore propose to leave out the last four lines of the clause, or all the words after the word "Acts." The landlords can have no interest in the sales under the Bill. What interest have they so long as they get their rent? Formerly they had a reversionary interest, but now they have not, and, seeing that the rents will run on as of yore, what compensation are they entitled to? The tenants, however, will be entitled to compensation, as their land will be taken from them. The country has run wild on the question of compensating the owners of land in regard to the construction of these railways, but, as a matter of fact, except in the towns, the land is worth extremely little. According to statements we see in this morning's papers, a tax of £30,000 will be levied on the people of Galway—the people whom the Government declare themselves anxious to save from distress. A large part of this money will go to Mr. Berridge, who, as a matter of fact, is entitled to nothing, as his land is worth nothing, and who, so long as he gets his rents, cannot be injured in any way. I admit that where a railway goes through a gentleman's demesne, the owner ought to get compensation, just as a peasant should get it if his hut is to be taken away, but I submit that no demesne land should be touched. We know that the railways are constructed so as to dodge ruins which it is desired to preserve for reasons of sentiment, therefore it is all nonsense to say that it is necessary to go through demesne lands. When we consented to the Second Reading of this Bill we did not know that a charge of £30,000 would fall on the County of Galway. The Government 1082 have £1,000,000 to give away. They say that the people are starving, and yet they declare that these starving people should pay £30,000. Why do they not give the whole amount, or, at any rate, why do they not require the landlords to find half? I should prefer that the poor tenants should have the chance of selling their land. The more of bog and mountain land is bought from the tenants the more will the tenants be pleased. The Irish people do not care anything about legislation on what are called British principles, and therefore I move the omission of that part of the clause which provides for the giving of notices to landowners.
§ Amendment proposed, in page 1, line 11, to leave out from the word "Acts," to the end of the clause, in order to add the words "are hereby dispensed with."—(Mr. T. M. Healy.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ (2.10.) COLONEL NOLAN (Galway, N.)
I would say only one word on this Amendment. Our great desire is to get the Bill through. I should like to see the Amendment of my hon. and learned Friend accepted, for I do not think these notices are necessary, certainly between Galway and Clifden. I do not know whether the Chief Secretary is willing to accept the Amendment. I should be glad if an agreement can be come to with regard to it, but under any circumstances I think both sides should remember that the real object is to pass the Bill through.
§ (2.11.) THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOE IRELAND (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR, Manchester, E.)
I earnestly trust the Bill will not be discussed, I will not say in the spirit the hon. and learned Gentleman has shown, but in the spirit which I fear is portended by the speech he has delivered. As the hon. and gallant Gentleman opposite (Colonel Nolan) says, this Bill has been brought in in the last days of the Session, with a view of giving much needed relief to the people of the West of Ireland. It will be in the power of hon. Members opposite to defeat the measure if they desire to do so; but I hope they will not desire to do 1083 so. Because the Government are anxious to pass a Bill, which I believe nearly all the Members from Ireland regard as a great boon, I hope no attempt will be made to compel them to introduce principles into it which ought not to be introduced into it, and which could not be accepted without discussion here and in another place. The hon. and learned Member for Longford asks that power shall be given to take land compulsorily, without giving notice to the owners and occupiers. I think the House will see that that is an unreasonable request. The hon. Gentleman says he and his friends do not care at all for British principles, but I think that when the hon. Gentleman considers that they are to be applied to the use of British money, some consideration should be given to them. It is clear that if all the Amendments are discussed they will take some time, and as the House has already been sitting about 12 hours, it would be impossible to ask Members or the officials of the House to continue sitting. The Government have done their best to bring in a Bill which will meet the views of Irish Members, and it seems to me that it would be turning the anticipated distress to very bad ends to attempt to make it a lever to induce the House to carry out the principle suggested by the hon. Member for Longford.
§ *(2.15.) MR. MURPHY (Dublin, St. Patrick's)
The right hon. Gentleman says he has done his best to introduce a Bill which will be acceptable to Members on this side of the House. I would ask whom he has consulted on this side of the House with regard to its form or details? It would be well that the country should know that the companies which are supposed to be aided by the Treasury under the Bill are in a position to carry out the works in a short space of time if the Treasury will only act within their existing powers. The Bill in its present shape is more calculated to delay than expedite, if not the whole, certainly some of these schemes. The right hon. Gentleman, in introducing the measure last night, did not vouchsafe any reasons as to why it was brought in so late. I have put down some Amendments, but I may say that their object is not to embarrass the Bill or hinder its progress, but to help the Government 1084 to pass it as a workable measure. The right hon. Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland was good enough to say that I gave him help in carrying the Bill of last year, and I am ready and willing to assist him in carrying this, but I must point out to him that the measure in its present shape will not produce any results for months to come—probably not before next summer. I think we ought to have from the Financial Secretary to the Treasury a statement as to what is going to be done with regard to all these railways. The estimated amount of expenditure required to complete them is well known, and the amount of money at the disposal of the Treasury under the Act of last year will be enough to enable them to carry out the whole of the undertakings which were passed by the Grand Juries last March.
§ (2.20) MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
I was rather surprised when it was agreed across the Table one evening that this Bill, involving a large expenditure, would be brought in at the close of the Session. I then understood, however, that there was a great deal of distress actually existing in certain parts of Ireland, and that this measure was to be brought in immediately in order to meet that distress. It certainly appeared to me that the most sensible mode of meeting the distress would be to vote a certain sum of money to be spent in charity. So strongly did I feel that, that I intimated to the hon. Member for Longford that I intended to oppose the Bill. I saw that, as I understood, if there was any opposition to the Bill it would not be pressed. I ventured to constitute myself that opposition. The hon. and learned Gentleman expressed a hope that I would not do that, and said that even if the Bill was not a good one it might be improved by the Amendments by the Irish Members. Well, we hear to-night that the Bill will impose a tax of £30,000 on the County of Galway, and it, therefore, seems to me doubtful whether we ought to go on with it, especially as the Chief Secretary say she must decline to receive any Amendments. The right hon. Gentleman says that unless the Bill can be passed in a few minutes it cannot pass the House of Lords. We know who is master in the 1085 House of Lords, and the right hon. Gentleman comes down here and says, if you do not pass the Bill at once I have a very powerful uncle who has a majority at his back——
Order, order! A great deal of latitude has been allowed in the discussion of the Amendment, but I think the hon. Member is going too far.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
I was about to conclude with a Motion. I beg to move that you do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, " That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Mr. Labouchere.)
§ (2.23) COLONEL NOLAN
I hope the hon. Member will withdraw the Motion. ["No, no !"] The Government are acting for the best. They may have been to blame for putting off the Bill to such a late period, but it is clear that if we do not pass the measure now we shall get no light railways, even in Galway, out of this fund. Indeed, it is possible that we may not get them at all. I am not sure that we shall have distress, or that the potatoes will fail, but if there should be distress this measure will form a means of alleviating it without demoralising the people.
§ (2.25) MR. FOLEY (Galway, Conne-mara)
As a Member representing one of the districts which will be affected by the Bill, I would appeal to the hon. Member for Northampton to withdraw his Motion. Though we may disagree with the Government who have introduced the measure in some of their proceedings, still I think it would be wrong to prevent the Bill passing, particularly as there are signs of distress in parts of Ireland.
§ (2.26) MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The hon. Member for St. Patrick's Division of Dublin is mistaken as to the time at which relief will be given under the Bill. I can assure the Committee that if the Bill passes works will be undertaken in Mayo and Galway in time to meet any distress likely to occur, and if it is not passed there is no chance of a sod being turned till next summer. Therefore, those who obstruct the Bill take upon themselves a great responsibility.
§ (2.27) MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)
; I doubt whether the Bill will be of much use by next spring, when the pinch, will come. I doubt if there is a chance of many sods being turned in November or December, but if the Chief Secretary is of a contrary opinion I should be sorry to oppose the Bill.
§ (2.28) MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I have taken every pains to acquaint myself with the facts, and I believe that if there be a pinch it will come in the early spring, and I believe that by that time work will be in full swing. This has been described as a Midland Great Western Railway Bill, and no doubt we have come to an arrangement with those who govern that line. However, I hope that, by this Bill, we shall be able to carry out our present intention, and that of the original Act.
§ (2.29) MR. T. M. HEALY
I would test the sincerity of the Government in this matter. I do not complain of the Midland Great Western Railway Company having this money for the construction of railways. I would rather that they should have it than the ordinary gang who promote these light railways. Will it be believed that until they got the Freeman's Journal this morning the Irish Members had no idea it was proposed to go in the country for this money.
§ (2.31.) THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Mr. JACKSON, Leeds, N.)
The Grand Jury passed a resolution to the effect that they would prefer to have an arrangement made with the Midland Great Western, and they were quite prepared to make a grant of £30,000.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
It is surprising the right hon. Gentleman should make that statement, considering what Sir R. Cusack has stated. From his statement we are to assume that the Government would insist on the Grand Jury of Galway taxing the ratepayers to the tune of £30,000. It is said the people of Galway are starving.
§ (2.33.) MR. T. M. HEALY
I may be some time, but I am coming to that. I would recommend the hon. Member for Northampton to withdraw his Motion if the Government will say, "We will not make two bites at a cherry. We give 1087 away £250,000; let us give away the £30,000 too." If you will not do that, make the landlords do something.
§ (2.34.) MR. J. O'CONNOR (Tipperary, S.)
On the Motion to report Progress, let me say it appears to me there are two matters in dispute: first of all there is the question of delay, and, secondly, the question of the £30,000. The hon. Member for South Tyrone (Mr. T. W. Russell) asked a very pertinent question, namely, as to when the pinch of hunger will arrive. The Chief Secretary says he believes that the pinch will not arrive until late in the year, or perhaps in the early spring. That might be quite correct if we were dealing with districts where the ordinary conditions of agriculture prevail, where the small farmers have their agricultural produce from which to obtain subsistence, but it is a well-known fact that the people in the districts we are now speaking of live on potatoes from one season to another, and that the old stock is generally used up when the new stock comes in. Therefore, the pinch will arrive long before the Chief Secretary seems to anticipate. I, therefore, hold there is absolute necessity for the immediate setting on foot of these works. Why should the Government make two bites at the cherry? Why not throw in this £30,000? I maintain that it is the duty of the Government to expedite these works, and to give the £30,000 as well as the rest. At the same time, as an Irish Representative, I am not willing to take upon myself the responsibility of supporting the hon. Member for Northampton in his Motion to report Progress.
§ *(2.40) MR. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)
I think that we on this side of the House are long-suffering people. This Bill was brought in at the express request of hon. Members opposite. We have to sit here night after night to debate Irish Bills while our Bills concerning England, such as the Savings Banks Bill, are thrown over because they are opposed by Gentlemen opposite. We are compelled to sit here—[An hon. MEMBER: Serve you right]—to pass such Bills as this, though obstructed by the very people for whom they are brought in. If hon. Members opposite will not accept the Bill at once the Government would do well to report Progress, and to drop the Bill.
§ (2.41.) MR. CONYBEARE (Corn-wall, Camborne)
It is not often I find myself in harmony with an hon. Member opposite, bat on this occasion I do. I quite agree with the hon. Member for North Islington in condemning the action of the Government.
§ MR. CONYBEARE
I was about to answer the remarks of the hon. Member opposite, but I will postpone that, and give the reasons why I think we should report Progress. The Government must see that this Bill is not regarded as a particularly useful measure, even by those it is intended to benefit, and I sympathise greatly with hon Members opposite in being kept out of bed to hear it discussed. I sincerely trust the Government will not press the matter. It must be evident to them that to do so will not lead to any fruitful result so far as their business is concerned. Indeed, the sooner they retire gracefully from the scene, and withdraw to the congenial presence of their constituents, the better it will be for their constituents.
§ (2.45) MR. T. M. HEALY
The hon. Member for North Islington has complained that he and his friends have to sit here night after night. He has only to take a shilling hansom to get to his house, but we have to travel 300 miles to get" home. Under these circumstances, we treat his suggestions with absolute contempt. I was very glad to support this Bill on the assumption that it was a Bill to quicken procedure, but I now find it is a Bill to enable rates to be thrown on our people. All we asked is, that you should add to your £250,000 the £30,000 you say is necessary. You might, if you choose, split the rate between the rich and the poor. If you do that, you can have your Bill without further ado. I shall cordially support the Motion to report Progress.
§ (2.47.) MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W.)
I hope the hon. Member for Northampton will withdraw his Motion to report Progress, because if Progress 1089 is reported, I do not think we shall hear of the Bill again this year. It is notorious there is great danger of famine in Ireland, and the Chief Secretary has stated upon authority that the Bill, if passed, will enable him to meet the pinch of hunger. On the other hand, if the Bill is delayed, and the delay can be attributed to any action of ours, we shall be told we have prevented relief being given. I, for one, would not accept that responsibility. I would rather throw on the Chief Secretary the responsibility of passing a faulty Bill. My hon. and learned Friend (Mr. T. M. Healy) has made two suggestions. With regard to one of them, namely, the proposal to divide the rate between owner and occupier, I admit there is great force. I allow that the Chief Secretary is confronted with difficulty, but I urge him to do what is within his power, and the jurisdiction of the Treasury, and that is to make the whole amount a grant on the part of the Treasury.
§ (2.51.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The total amount at the disposal of the Government is restricted by the Act of last year, and Galway cannot be relieved except at the expense of some other county, such as Kerry, which has arranged to expend the amount apportioned to it.
§ (2.55.) MR. LABOUCHERE
I can quite understand the position of hon. Members from Ireland. They are told by the Chief Secretary that if famine takes place it is impossible that any aid can be given unless this Bill is passed, but I ask them to consider how much of the money will be spent in labour. If there be famine, it will not take place until January. The Government tell us they intend to meet in November, and if a famine is threatened in November, they could easily bring in a small Bill by which a sum of money could be distributed in actual charity. [Colonel NOLAN: No!] It is perfectly ridiculous that we should be called upon now to pass a Bill agreeing to spend a large sum of money, only 40 per cent. of which will go in labour. In view of the fact that the Chief Secretary absolutely declines 1090 to accept the view of the Irish Members in regard to this Bill—
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
That is not the opinion of the Representatives of Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman not only says he objects to these Amendments, but objects to any discussion of them. Under these circumstances, I shall certainly persevere in my Motion, and I am sure the Irish Members will divide with me.
§ (2.59.) MR. SEXTON
I think that if my hon. Friend will look at the Irish papers he will see that the Board of Governors in the distressed districts are of opinion that if only a small proportion of the money is spent in labour the expenditure will be invaluable.
§ (3.0.) The Committee divided:— Ayes 14; Noes76.—(Div. List, No.254.)
§ Original Question put.
§ (3.9.) The Committee divided:— Ayes 64; Noes 28.—(Div. List, No. 255.)
§ Question proposed, "That Clause 1 stand part of the Bill."
§ Motion made, and Question put," That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again. —(Mr. T. M. Healy.)
§ (3.15.) The Committee divided:— Ayes 14; Noes 77. —(Div. List, No. 256.)
§ Question again proposed, "That Clause 1 stand part of the Bill."
§ (3.22.) MR. CONYBEARE
Before we decide upon this clause I think, late as the hour is, we might have a little explanation from the Government, and make some reasonable attempt to under stand what we are voting about, and not simply vote nonsense. It appears to me that the clause as it stands is unmitigated nonsense. We are entitled to some explanation, considering the importance of the interest of the British taxpayer involved—
§ MR. CONYBEARE
It is intended to expedite the expenditure of the money already voted, which is practically the same thing. The clause is loosely, carelessly drafted, and it is an outrage on our intelligence to ask us to vote it. We have unsuccessfully attempted to amend it, but it appears to be no use expostulating with the Government, and perhaps the best thing we can do is to pass the Bill en bloc. I am content with the protest we have made.
§ *(3.24.) CAPTAIN VERNEY
I understand the Bill to contain a proposal to take money from the poor ratepayers and not from the rich. That is the statement made, and I have heard no answer to it.
§ CAPTAIN VERNEY
I understand the right hon. Gentleman has stated it is in the power of any hon. Member to wreck the Bill, and there are a good many Members Who understand the Bill better than I do, who do not shrink from that responsibility. Does the right hon. Gentleman intend to press the Bill through by the strength of his majority in the face of the assertions made?
The Committee is not now concerned with the 1st Schedule; the Question is that the 1st Clause be agreed to.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
On a point of order, Sir. Is it not in order to ask a question in reference to the Schedule, considering the relation of the Schedule and the clause?
I reminded the hon. Member of the Question before the Committee. If the hon. Member will put his question, I shall know if it is in order.
§ MR. DALTON
I was not quite sure if I should be in order in saying a few words upon this clause, or whether I should adopt the course of moving an Amendment to the Schedule. I would refer to the Stranorlar and Glenties 1092 line. There is no question that it connects with a congested district of Donegal, and the merits of the scheme are unanswerable.
§ (3.28.) DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)
It is not my desire to trespass on the time of the Committee to any extent, and it is not my intention to wreck the Bill. My intention is something very different. In relation to this Bill the Government have assumed their usual stubborn, dogmatic attitude——
§ MR. KIMBER (Wandsworth)
I rise to order, Sir. I ask you whether the observations of the hon. Member are in any way pertinent to Clause 1?
The hon. Member has not yet spoken to the clause. I hope he will do so immediately if he has the intention.
§ DR. TANNER
The hon. Member's impatience interrupted the usual respectful prelude to the observations I am about to make. The hon. Gentleman's idea of order——
I beg the hon. Member will not comment upon the ruling upon a point of order. The Question he should confine himself to is, that Clause 1 stand part of the Bill.
§ DR. TANNER
I will refrain from commenting on the ruling from the Chair, and have no idea of making it matter of controversy. I am going first to deal with the matter of public advertisements under the clause. I really should like to have some sort of answer to my question.
Order, order! The hon. Member's remarks are quite irrelevant to this clause. The advertisements spoken of are those by the promoters, and the Government have nothing to do with issuing them.
§ DR. TANNER
I shall divide the Committee when we come to the clause 1093 to which my remarks do properly apply. I object to these dogmatic assertions by the Government. I think it will be a great mistake to pass this Bill, and as I am precluded from offering observations which I think are pertinent, I shall vote steadily against every clause of the measure.
§ *(3.32.) MR. MURPHY
Before we pass this clause I hope the Government will say why they have fixed on these particular dates; also, why certain lines are included in this provision, and others excluded? Again, why cannot they accept the suggestion of the hon. and learned Member for North Longford, and dispense with the notices altogether?
§ (3.33.) MR. T. M. HEALY
The Government show no disposition to answer my hon. Friend, although they admit that he is most competent to discuss these questions.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
We have not replied, because we think the question should properly be raised on the Schedule, and not on the 1st clause.
§ (3.34.) MR. SEXTON
The question is one which ought to be answered, for my hon. Friend asserts that there are lines which could be begun in two or three months, whereas if the Bill is passed in its present form the work cannot be commenced for at least nine months. Is that the case?
§ (3.35.) MR. JACKSON
It places the Government in rather an awkward position to discuss the details of negotiations "which are pending, and to call upon them to state their reasons for adopting a course which they are taking, as they believe, in the interests of the counties concerned. With regard to the lines referred to by the hon. Member, I suppose it is open to the Government to negotiate with the Great Southern and Western Railway Company for the construction of one or other of these lines as they have already done with the Midland Great Western Railway Company. All the Bill does is to provide that, if satisfactory terms can be concluded for the construction of these lines they shall be approved. But it leaves the hands of the Government free, while strengthening our position in the negotiations. 1094 As to the notices, I may remind the hon. Member that no step can be taken in regard to these lines until the Grand Juries have made the proper presentments, and this Bill will enable the Grand Juries to be called together earlier than usual.
§ MR. JACKSON
It has been represented to us it may be desirable, and that it would answer the purposes of the locality, if a steam tramway or light railway were made, instead of a broad gauge line. All we want is liberty to make the best arrangements we can.
§ *(3.39.) MR. MURPHY
Does the right hon. Gentleman think, with regard to the time for serving the notices, that this Bill will really expedite matters? As a matter of fact, the Grand Juries will not meet till nearly Christmas, and we know that the negotiations between the Treasury and the Railway Companies are not likely to be very rapid.
§ *(3.40.) MR. T. M. HEALY
I do not believe it will be possible to get the Grand Juries together much before Christmas if the Bill is passed as it stands. Cannot the right hon. Gentleman expedite the meeting of the Grand Juries?
§ (3.42.) The Committee divided:— Ayes 76; Noes 17.—(Div. List, 257.)
§ Clause 2.
§ *(3.49.) MR. KNOX (Cavan, W.)
I beg to propose, in page 1, line 17, to substitute October for November. Of course, if I am assured that in no case is it possible to call the Grand Juries together earlier than the date named in the Bill, I will not press this Amendment, for I did not move it with the view to obstruction. But if, as I understand from the hon. and gallant Member for Galway, sufficient surveys have already been made, I do not see why the Grand Juries should not meet in October.
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'November' stand part of the Clause."
§ (3.50.) THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR IRELAND (Mr. MADDEN, Dublin University)
Of course we desire to expedite matters as much as possible, but I fear the necessary steps cannot be taken before the date named in the Bill.
§ *(3.51.) MR. MURPHY
In my opinion, this Bill if it is passed will delay the commencement of these railways instead of expediting it, as it will only give an excuse for requiring steps to be gone all over again which have been already done in regard to several of the lines scheduled to the Bill. I do not think, however, that much importance attaches to these dates, as certain preliminary steps must be taken if the Government insist upon all those notices being served and plans being lodged. If the lines are promoted by Railway Companies, they will probably consider that fresh surveys will have to be made; and as all this work would take a considerable time, I do not think the alteration from November to October would be desirable, as, in the case of the Clifden line, 50 miles long, it may not be possible to complete all the preliminaries at earlier dates than those named in the Bill.
§ *(3.52.) CAPTAIN VERNEY (Bucks, N.)
The hon. Member who has just spoken has been alluded to as a high authority on this question. He says that the Bill will delay rather than accelerate the works. I, therefore, beg to move to report Progress.
I decline altogether to put that Motion. Does the hon. Member for West Cavan persist in his Amendment?
§ *(3.53.) MR. KNOX
The only reply I have received is that from the hon. Member for Dublin, St. Patrick's, and I think I am entitled to an answer from 1096 the Government. On this point right hon. Gentlemen opposite are anxious to accept my hon. Friend's opinion, but on all other questions in connection with this Bill they have repudiated his authority and advice.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
This Bill has practically been in hand 12 months. It will be Christmas before the Grand Juries can be called together, so that 18 months will have elapsed before a single one of these light railways can be commenced. Yet when we propose to expedite matters by one month only, we are met with a refusal. The Treasury in this are simply acting in the interests of Messrs. Barton & Price. I, for one, have been misled into assenting to this Bill on the understanding that there was a real intention on the part of the Government to press these railways forward in the interests of the people of Ireland, but their refusal at the beginning of August to call the Grand Juries together before December shows that they have no genuine desire to get on with these works. If you insist upon this proposal it will be Christmas Day before you get a Grand Jury together, and I cannot too strongly deprecate the action of the Government in pressing a Bill forward of this kind at this hour of the morning and at this period of the Session, especially when we have been told by the First Lord of the Treasury that only non-contentious business was to be taken. The conduct of the Government, under these circumstances, is certainly unusual. They say they want this Bill to avert the consequences of the threatened famine. For my part, I do not believe it. I certainly, although against the advice of my deceased Friend Mr. Biggar and some other Members of the Irish Party, supported this Bill. I ask why, in pressing forward this measure, you cannot omit the dates? Why put in any date at all? Why not call the Grand Jury together whenever most convenient? This proposal shows that the Treasury are not in earnest in the matter. Why should you not provide that it should be left to the 1097 Lord Lieutenant, with the advice of his counsel, to direct the summoning of the Grand Jury? I think the action of the Government all through has been unsatisfactory, and I suggest that their present attitude is unfair to the Committee. If they meant to be fair in this matter they would consent to some other arrangement.
§ (4.3.) MR. LABOUCHERE
The Government seem to be unable to accept a single Amendment. If they did accept Amendments that would involve the Report stage to-morrow and the Third Reading on Saturday, so that the House of Lords would not have time to pass the measure.
§ COLONEL NOLAN
I think there is something in what has just been said by the hon. Member for Northampton, there being only Friday, Saturday, and Monday to get the Bill through. But it does not matter how we get it through so long as we do get it through. I would, however, put it to my hon. Friend whether it is desirable to risk the postponement of the Bill for another eight months, especially after we have been waiting a whole year for it to be brought in.
§ MR. J. O'CONNOR
In matters of this kind as affecting Ireland we frequently Buffer, not only from the "law's delays," but also from "the insolence of office." To-night, for example, we have suffered the "insolence of office," and been placed in a very cold corner by the statement of the Chief Secretary, that we had only a few minutes in which to pass the Bill, and some of us have been placed in the unfortunate position that we have been obliged to go into the same Lobby with the Government, which, to say the least of it, is a painful operation for many of us to undergo. They are now about to impose upon us in addition to this "insolence of office"——
§ MR. J. O'CONNOR
I was only saying that we in Ireland are suffering from the law's delay, and the Amendment of my hon. Friend goes to obviate this necessity. He proposes that the Grand Juries 1098 should meet in October instead of November, and it is an Amendment which we can conscientiously support, because, first, we want the Bill and, secondly, we want to amend it. Not only I am anxious to get the Bill, but I am anxious to get it as soon as possible. As my hon. Friend proposes to put the measure into operation a month sooner than is proposed by the Government, I give my hearty support to his Amendment.
§ *(4.12.) MR. KNOX
I wish to point out that the effect of my Amendment would be to hasten the proceedings under the Bill by a month. I should not wish to persist if I thought it clearly impossible to do this; but, at any rate, I may ask the Government whether it would be impossible to make the Bill workable by another Amendment, giving power to the Lord Lieutenant to omit the inquiry by the Board of Works in certain cases. That would save more than a month. The Government are trusting the Midland Great Western Railway in many things; they might as well trust them a little more. It is they who must work the line, and their engineers will be responsible. Considering the relations existing between Sir Ralph Cusack and the Board of Works, the inquiry may cause considerable delay. Why should not the Government dispense with the inquiry?
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
I would ask the Secretary to the Treasury whether it is not a fact that, in the case of the Galway and Clifton line, the Government held inquiries into four different schemes? Is there an Inspector under the Board of Works who does not know every stone on that railway, and have not Grand Juries pocketed some 50 guineas on each of the four different schemes? Why should this inquiry be made when it will delay action for another month?
§ (4.15.) The Committee divided:— Ayes 66; Noes 26.—(Div. List, No. 258.)
§ (4.22.) MR. CONYBEARE
I think, as it is now 20 minutes past 4 o'clock, you, Sir, ought to report Progress. I am anxious to get on with business, but there are limits to human endurance. We have been going on from the early part of the week in a manner 1099 wholly unprecedented. I do not think that in the whole of my recollection we have had a week like it, or at any rate when we have sat until 11 o'clock on Wednesday night and till 4 o'clock on the Tuesday and Wednesday mornings. If the Government are not inclined to consider the convenience of Members, they ought, at least, to consider that of the officials of this House. I, therefore, move, Sir, that you do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again.
I put that Question at once. The Question is that I report Progress, and ask leave to sit again. Hon. Members supporting this Motion will please to rise in their places. The clerks will take the names of hon. Members supporting the Motion, and hon. Members will please to keep their places standing while the names are taken.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
Are we to be subject to insult? Are we to be impounded? This is supposed to be a non-contentious Bill. You will find that you will not get it through.
§ MR. CONYBEARE
May I ask that the names may be read, otherwise how are we to ascertain whether the names have been correctly taken?
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Clause 2 stand part of the Bill."
* The following is the entry in the Votes:—
Mr. Conybeare moved, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again;" but the Chairman, being of opinion that the Motion was an abuse of the Rules of the House, put the Question thereupon forthwith.
The Committee proceeded to a Division, and the Chairman stated that he thought the Noes had it, but his decision was challenged: and, it appearing to the Chairman that the Division was vexatiously claimed, he directed the Ayes to stand up in their places, and Sixteen Members having stood up, the Chairman declared the Noes had it.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
Last night, when this Bill came under our notice, we were informed by the First Lord of the Treasury that no non-contentious business would be proceeded with. The suggestion of the Government that they are promoting this Bill for the benefit of Ireland I reject with contempt. They never accept a suggestion which we make in the interests of our countrymen; and now, at half-past 4 in the morning, we are compelled to continue the discussion of this Bill of nine clauses, in addition to which there are a great many new clauses. Let me inform the Government that a great number of Amendments have yet to be moved and considered.
Is the hon. and learned Gentleman going to move an Amendment? If so, he must speak to that Amendment.
§ (4.28.) MR. T. M. HEALY
I propose to amend the clause by omitting the words "20th of December." I renew my protest against the farce the Government are carrying on in pretending that this is a Bill to expedite arrangements for the mitigation of threatened distress. It is evident from the suggestions we have already heard that the Government might have completely turned our flank by omitting the dates in the Bill, and leaving it to the Lord Lieutenant to call Grand Juries at such times as might be most fitting; the Government did not think it desirable to do this, because they had come here in the same spirit evinced by Mr. Forster in his Coercion Bill, namely, not to receive an Amendment because it would necessitate the Report stage. They will not alter a single comma, in order to evade that stage. This is certainly singular, when I recollect that only yesterday the Secretary to the Treasury invited suggestions and Amendments from this side of the House. The Amendment I propose would simply leave the matter in the hands of the Lord Lieutenant, who might select any date he chose. Why, I ask, should the Government bind the Lord Lieutenant to give a date? As far as my knowledge goes, there is nothing in the world to prevent 1101 the Grand Jury being assembled immediately. By your arrangement, you are absolutely putting a fetter on His Excellency which you have no right and no duty to impose. I say to the Government, "omit these words altogether. The omission will do no harm, and it will be a proof that you are open in the future to accept suggestions from this side of the House. If only to test the spirit of Her Majesty's Government on this point, I beg to move the omission of the 'words "or later than the twentieth day of December."
§ Amendment proposed, in page 1, lines 22 and 23, to leave out the words "or later than the twentieth day of December.—(Mr. T. M. Healy.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause."
§ (4.32.) MR. SEXTON
I would call attention to the fact that, in the earlier part of the clause, power is given to the Lord Lieutenant to direct the Sheriff on or before the 18th of November. If the Lord Lieutenant is given discretion to issue his order any time before November, why should not the discretion of the Grand Jury be exercised before a certain day? I think it would be wise if you were to amend the clause, so as to provide that the meeting of the Grand Jury should be "not later" than a certain day.
§ (4.33.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I think the Committee will feel that the Amendment we are now discussing has nothing to do with the observation made by the hon. Member who has just sat down. I would point out that if the Amendment is carried, the result will be to postpone and not to accelerate the action of the juries. I certainly can most sincerely say that I approached the consideration of this Bill with the desire to meet the views of hon. Gentlemen opposite, but it has been made perfectly obvious within the last few hours that the intention of hon. Gentlemen opposite is not to amend but to kill the Bill. I am not going to lend my hand to that work of murder by admitting Amendments which, as the hon. Member for Northampton has said, 1102 would have the result of killing the Bill Under these circumstances, I would earnestly urge every Member who desires the Bill to pass to let it go through in its present shape.
§ (4.35.) SIR W. LAWSON (Cumberland, Cockermouth)
The right hon. Gentleman's speech amounts to this: that rather than spend another day on the business of the Motion he declines to listen to the wishes of the Irish Members.
§ *(4.36.) MR. KNOX
I think we Members from Ireland have just reason to complain of the conduct of the Chief Secretary. If it is impossible for any Amendment to be assented to, why were we not told that two hours and a half ago? We thought we could put forward some reasonable Amendments which would improve the Bill.
§ (4.37.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR
If this Bill had been met in a reasonable spirit, an Amendment might have been accepted. The Report stage would have been taken to-morrow, and the Third Reading at the same time, by consent. It is quite clear now that Members opposite intend to discuss the Committee stage as long as they can; they will have ample opportunity to put down Amendments on the Report stage, and the result will be, if any hon. Member objects to the Third Reading on the same day, the Bill cannot pass this Session.
§ MR. KNOX
I admit that the Debate has been marked by some asperity, but we have been met by taunts and sneers. I never heard the right hon. Gentleman make a speech in this House during my short experience of it without making use of taunts. The Bill is barely intelligible in its present form, but the Government must take the responsibility of its failure.
§ (4.39.) MR.MURPHY (who was indistinctly heard)
There was no desire on my part to unduly oppose this Bill. I do not think, however, in its present 1103 shape it will be effective, and the Amendments I have moved and any remarks that I have made have certainly been ad rem. With reference to the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Longford (Mr. T. M. Healy), I do not see why there should be any objection to it.
§ (4.40.) MR. CONYBEARE
I would point out that it would be better not only to leave out "not later than 20th December," but to substitute an earlier date than December. The object we have in view is to expedite matters, and it seems to me that to leave a month for the summoning of the Grand Jury by the Sheriff is a very long period. I cannot conceive that there would be any difficulty in the Sheriff summoning the Grand Jury on a much earlier day than December. If we were to make the period within which the summoning of the Grand Jury is to be made shorter, we should be acting strictly on the lines of this Bill. I would suggest, that instead of moving to leave out 20th December, we should substitute an earlier day—say the 1st November. I do not see that it is consistent with the dignity of the House or any useful purpose that we should continue to consider this Bill at all, as we are told that whatever Amendments we propose will not be considered by the Government, the intention being to force the Bill through without amendment. I think, however, we should be guilty of a gross dereliction of our duty if we yielded to those tactics. We are presented with the Bill one day, and——
§ MR. TOMLINSON (Preston)
I rise to order. I wish to know if the argument of the hon. Member is relevant to the Amendment under discussion?
§ The CHAIRMAN declined to notice the interruption.
§ MR. CONYBEARE
The right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland says we must either take the Bill as it is or leave it, and I say that that is not treating the House of Commons with proper respect. The Committee stage of the Bill is the one on which we have a right to bring Amendments forward, and to discuss them, and if we are told by the Government "there is a Bill which you may take or leave, but in 1104 which we cannot accept a single Amendment," I say that to such tactics we must refuse to lend ourselves. I say that it reduces the discussion of the Bill to a perfect farce.
§ (4.46.) The Committee divided:— Ayes 65; Noes 22.—(Div. List, No. 260.)
§ (4.56.) MR. T. M. HEALY
The sub-section provides that the Sheriff shall call the Grand Jury together. The Irish Secretary says he is unable to split the rate between the owner and occupier, as it would be too great a change in the law, but there is no reason why, on the Grand Jury, the people should not have some representation, and I cannot see why the Sheriff of a county should select entirely from persons of the landlord class. The people have to pay the rates, and the landlords hitherto have had the privilege of voting them. Well, with regard to the Special Grand Jury which will have to be called for the purposes of this Bill, it seems to me that the Government can have no objection to giving the body a shadow or a show of a representative character. The right hon. Gentleman may say that at this hour of the morning he is unable to decide in what way the Grand Jury should be constituted. I would suggest a simple mode in an Amendment. The Sheriff may select for the Grand Jury 23 of the worst rack-renters of the county. I would suggest that there is no necessity for landlords to be summoned on the Grand Jury, and as Catholics have to pay the rates, I would suggest that there is no necessity for the Sheriff to call on 23 Protestants, as he is likely to do, seeing that he is almost always a Tory. The people will have to pay this £30,000 odd, and I think they should have a voice in the method of allocating the money. I would, therefore, move to add the following:—Provided that the Grand Jury, for the purposes of this section, shall consist of 10 persons to be elected by the Sheriff and 13 persons to be nominated by the Boards of Guardians in such Unions in the county, and in such proportions and in such manner as the Local Government Board shall determine.I do not think that is an unreasonable Amendment, if the Government are disposed to meet us in any way. 1 would make them this offer: If 1105 they will accept the Amendment I will withdraw my opposition to the Bill. So far as we are concerned, we can give no greater proof of bona fides than that. There need be no fear of delaying the Bill, as both Report stage and Third Reading could be taken tomorrow.
I cannot allow the hon. Member to proceed any further on this Amendment. I must point out to him that it is not one which could be received in Committee without an Instruction.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
The section provides that the Sheriff may summon the Grand Jury of the county. The clause says that the expression "The Grand Jury Acts" means the Acts of King William IV., and all the other words are defined by the Tramways Acts. Consequently, it seems that, either now or when we come to the amending Schedule, it will be competent to omit the definition in the 6th clause, and move other words. Would it not be competent to insert in this measure different words to those in the Tramways Act?
It is clear that this could not be done, either in the present clauses or in the 6th clause.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
If that is your view, Sir, I must accept it; but I would ask you to say whether it would not be possible, without defining the Grand Jury, to provide that persons should be added to it, or associated with it, for the purposes of the Act?
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
Under the circumstances, and considering that we have not had an opportunity of considering how best to amend the Bill, I would at this stage ask leave to move that the Chairman report Progress, and ask leave to sit again. Of course, I quite follow the ruling of the Chair, that it might be irregular without an Instruction, to alter this Bill, but it is reasonable we should have an opportunity of making some change with regard to the body that has to set this measure in force. It is utterly unfair to expect us to go on with a Bill of this 1106 kind. We learnt for the first time from the papers this morning what Sir Ralph Cusack had said. The Government had concealed from us the fact he revealed, and it is most unfair and unreasonable of the Government at this stage of the Session to expect us to go on. If the Government insist on going on, I will go on as long as my physical endurance lasts. I beg, Sir, to move that you report Progress and ask leave to sit again.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again."—(Mr. T. M. Healy.)
§ (5.2.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I hope the hon. Gentleman will neither persist in his Motion, nor carry out his threat.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I referred to the announcement he made that he means to oppose the Bill as long as his physical strength endures. The hon. Member appears to speak under a sense of grievance, for which, I assure him, there is no foundation. All Sir Ralph Cusack said was that in order to carry out the Bill a charge of £30,000 would be required. That will be borrowed at 4 per cent., and the total interest will be £1,200 a year, of which about £600 a year will be paid by the Treasury under the Tramways Act. The net result will be that the inhabitants of Galway will have to pay a rate of a¼d. in the £1. For this ¼d. in the £1 the people will get a railway 50 miles long, which they have been most anxious for years; they will get the expenditure of some £30,000 or £40,000 and a free grant, without paying 6d. for it, of a portion of the £1,000,000.
§ (5.6.) COLONEL NOLAN
I would point out to my hon. Friend (Mr. T. M. Healy) that really these terms are very good. I did not know they were so good. The rate can only be ¼d in the £1, because the valuation is only £600,000 for the whole county. The fact that there will be a ¼d. in the £1 to pay is really owing to my hon. Friend (Mr. T. M. Healy) himself. I was always content with the proposed narrow gauge line, but the hon. Member for Longford insisted on having a broad gauge line, 1107 and it is the broad gauge that has cost the extra ¼d. I earnestly hope my hon. Friend will now allow the Bill to pass.
§ *(5.8.) MR. MURPHY
The right hon Gentleman seems to think my hon. and learned Friend is labouring under some sense of grievance. Whether he is or not, I am labouring under some anxiety to amend and improve the Bill. I submit that 5 o'clock in the morning is not a proper time to discuss a measure of this kind, and that we ought now to report Progress.
§ *(5.9) MR. T. M. HEALY
I cannot fail to be struck with the observation of my hon. and gallant Friend (Colonel Nolan). I conceived that the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary to the Treasury dealt unfairly with the House when Sir Ralph Cusack was allowed to make the statement he did about throwing £30,000 on the county, when the Secretary to the Treasury stated previously that no charge would come on the localities. It may be that when he so promised that it was then not intended to give a heavy broad gauge to the county. It may be that it is the difference between light broad and heavy broad gauge which has thrown the charge on the county. If that be so, I feel I shall not be justified in taking the course I proposed to take, and I will not persist in it.
§ *(5.10.) MR. MURPHY
I hope that Progress will be reported, in order that the Bill will be properly discussed.
§ (5.11.) DR. TANNER
I hope we shall have some expression of opinion from the Secretary to the Treasury as to the works of the Great Southern and Western Railway. In Cork we have suffered greatly from the incompetence of that Railway Company.
§ (5.13.) MR. SEXTON
There is no chance whatever of carrying any Amendment to this Bill, and I think there must be a general agreement. The measure cannot do any harm, and I hope it may do some good. I hope my hon. Friend (Mr. Murphy) will conceive it to be his duty to support my hon. and learned Friend (Mr. T. M. Healy).
§ (5.14.) MR.CONYBEARE
I desire it to be distinctly understood that in waiving our right to insist on Progress we are not going back upon our observations as to the highly unconstitutional conduct of the Government in refusing to consider or accept any Amendments. Such a course simply destroys the whole usefulness of the Committee stage.
§ (5.15.) DR. TANNER
I would point out that in Cork the line of the Great Southern and Western Railway Company is a complete failure, whilst another line, which is worked independently, is a great success. The reason is that the Great Southern and Western. Company want to get the line they are working into their own hands. However, if hon. Members on this side think that this philanthropic measure— I cannot help laughing at the idea of anything philanthropic coming from the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary—is worth having I will not stand in the way of its acceptance.
§ *(5.18.) MR. T. M. HEALY
It is only fair to myself to say that I think I was right in opposing this Bill as long as I conceived that an unfair obligation was being thrown on the people. I adhere to the opinion that the Bill in the absence of our Amendments will not work. Inasmuch, however, as the Government are giving the Galway people a better line than I supposed—that is to say, a heavy broad-gauge line— I shall not persist in my opposition, but will leave the Government the responsibility of rejecting our advice.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Clause agreed to.
§ Clauses 3 and 4 agreed to.
§ Clause 5.
§ *(5.20.) MR. MURPHY
(who was-indistinctly heard): I have an Amendment to move to this clause. The clause was evidently intended to remove the restriction imposed by the Light Railways Act limiting the weight which can be placed on any pair of wheels to eight tons, no matter how substantially the railway may have been built. I would point out, however, that the clause in the Bill only applies where a Railway Company makes an agreement directly with the Treasury, and I would remind 1109 the Financial Secretary of the case of the Baltimore Railway now in negotiation with him, where the agreement to work the line by the Cork and Bandon Railway Company is made not directly with the Treasury, but with a Constructing Company who in turn agree with the Treasury. My Amendment is intended to meet this and similar cases.
Amendment proposed, in Clause 5, page 2, line 38, after "railway" to insert—
Or where the promoters have made an agreement approved by the Treasury for the maintenance and working of the light railway by such a railway company."—(Mr. Murphy.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ (5.23.) MR. JACKSON
The clause is intended to meet the case the hon. Member puts. There would be an agreement, to which the Treasury must be a party, for the working of the line.
§ (5.24.) MR. SEXTON
Surely the effect of inserting the Amendment would only be to make the clause more clear. We will be prepared to give every facility for the passage of the Bill.
§ An hon. MEMBER: There will be no Report stage if no Amendments are carried.
§ (5.25.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I am afraid there are some Members who are not as favourably disposed to the Bill as are the Representatives of Ireland, and I think it will be safer not to press the Amendment.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ Remaining clauses added to the Bill.
§ (5.27.) Mr. COURTNEY withdrew from the House, and was succeeded in the Chair by Mr. J. W. LOWTHER.
§ MR. MURPHY
I beg to move the omission of the words "Westport to Mulraney," in line 2 of the Schedule. I submit there is no necessity for scheduling this line. It has already passed the Grand Jury, and can be proceeded with at once if the Treasury wish.
§ Amendment proposed, Schedule, line 2, to omit "Westport to Mulraney."—1110
§ Question proposed, "That those words, stand part of the Schedule."
§ (5.28.) MR. JACKSON
I would point out that the inclusion of these words with the Schedule does not tie the hands of the Treasury, and force them to adopt either one course or the other. I cannot accept the Amendment.
§ (5.30.) DR. TANNER
I do not think the people will make these payments, nor do I see why they should. If I have the opportunity, I shall tell the ratepayers as much. Let the Chief Secretary be responsible for the loss that will fall upon the British taxpayers. We have offered every remonstrance, we have done our duty, and may be content to let the English people——
THE DEPUTY CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member is rather wandering from the Amendment, which is, that West-port to Mulraney stand part of the Schedule.
§ DR. TANNER
I had finished, Sir; I was about to add that we may accept the Bill, for we have done our duty to our constituents.
§ (5.32.) MR. LABOUCHERE
The hon. Member has the satisfaction of thinking he has done his duty to his constituents, but there is a duty also incumbent upon us to English taxpayers. There has been a remarkable expression of Irish opinion, and the reason why I oppose the Bill——
THE DEPUTY CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member must not go into his reasons for opposing the Bill. The Question is that Westport to Mulraney stand part of the Schedule.
§ (5.34.) MR. LABOUCHERE
I want it to be clearly understood what our position is. The Chief secretary has stated with pleasing candour —["Unpleasing"]—no, pleasing candour—
THE DEPUTY CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member must not go back upon past discussion. The Question is that Westport to Mulraney stand part of the Schedule.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
Really, I think we might have some information about these places, and perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will tell us something about them.
§ (5.34.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I Relieve information has already been given, but we are ready to answer any Specific question.
§ (5.36.) DR. TANNER
In relation to this particular point—this Mulraney line —I should like to have some assurance from the right hon. Gentleman opposite that the Government will consider the expediency of continuing the line, so that it may serve the Island of Achill—one of the most congested districts on the West Coast, and where the population, unlike the population in other districts, is increasing. The men eke out their existence by harvesting in England, and in harvest time they emigrate in large numbers. The line would be most useful, and its continuation to A chill Sound would lead to other works, which would tend to encourage the industry of the district. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will encourage the hope that the line may be continued.
§ (5.39.) MR. JACKSON
In answer to the hon. Member for Cork I can only say that I am inclined to think that at some future time it may be possible to carry on the line to A chill.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ Schedules agreed to.
§ (5.48.) Bill reported without Amendment.
§ (5.48.) COLONEL NOLAN
I think the House will agree that we might finish the Bill now, and read it a third time. [Cries of "No."]
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time."
§ (5:49.) MR. J. O'CONNOR
I would support the suggestion of my hon. and gallant Friend, and I would remind my hon. Friends who have carried on a useful Debate for some time that this is not a Coercion Bill, although it is promoted by the Government, and that it is designed for the benefit of the most distressed districts in Ireland.
§ (5.50.) SIR W. LAWSON
Is it not sufficient to prevent the Third Reading being taken now if objection is made?
THE DEPUTY CHAIRMAN
It is not a case in which a single objection is sufficient to prevent the Motion. If there is a general desire the Third Reading may be taken.
§ (5.50.) MR. CONYBEARE
Considering the opposition the Bill has met with I think there is obviously an objection to the unusual course of taking the two stages of the Bill at one sitting.
§ (5.50.) MR.ROWNTREE (Scarborough)
As the Bill makes no demand upon the English taxpayer, and the details concern Ireland solely, I trust English Members will not interpose, but that the wish of the bulk of the Irish Members will be accepted.
§ (5.50.) SIR W. LAWSON
When reference is made to the general opinion, I may observe that in the last Division the minority was considerable. I think it is a most extraordinary step, after the Bill has been so hotly opposed, to propose to take the Third Reading at once.
§ (5.51.) MR. T. M. HEALY
Our Amendments were refused by the Government on the ground that the Bill must be lost because two stages of the Bill could not be taken on the same day. To read the Bill a third time now will show the insincerity of the Government excuse. So far as I am concerned, I offer no objection to the Third Reading.
§ (5.51.) DR. TANNER
If the British taxpayer is to be robbed, it need not be done violently; let matters proceed decently and in order. Undoubtedly there is a strong objection to the Third Reading stage being taken now.
§ (5.52.) SIR W. LAWSON
Can we put our objection into the form of proposing an Amendment to the Motion for the Third Reading?
§ (5.55.) The House divided:—Ayes 73; Noes 12.—(Div. List, No. 261.)
§ Bill passed.