§ Bill considered in Committee.
§ (In the Committee.)
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Chairman do report Progress, and ask leave to sit again.—(Mr. Sydney Gedge.)
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR,) Manchester, E.
I think it is expedient that Progress should be reported. We have no objection to the Bill running concurrently, as it were, with the Government proposal; but the substance of it is down on the Paper as an Amendment to the Licensing Bill.
§ (5.36.) MR. T. M. HEALY
Faith has been entirely broken by the Government with us in this matter. The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury distinctly promised that he would recommit the Licensing Bill in order to insert Irish clauses. Like every other pledge made about Ireland, that promise was broken. The right hon. Gentleman has himself put down on the Paper clauses which he says meets the case. Of course, it would be out of order for me now to discuss those clauses further than by saying that they do not meet the case. Whoever drafted them—whether it was the learned Attorney General for Ireland himself, which I do not believe, or the officials of the Irish Office—they are a scandal of draftsmanship, and are entirely unsuited to the case, and, in my opinion, utterly confuse the law in Ireland with regard to licences. I think they are most discreditable to anyone who had anything to do with putting them on the Paper, or with drawing them up. Then we do not know yet when the Government propose to take their Local Taxation Bill. The Conservative meeting to-morrow may, for all we know, lead to the dropping of that Bill; and, as far as we can understand the intentions of the Government, the measure will be postponed until next Session. If so, how can the Bill proceed pari passu with the Government Bill? I came over from Ireland purposely to get a stage of this Bill. We are continually told that this House is always ready to deal with Irish subjects. Here is an admirable specimen of the way in which the House is prepared to deal with Irish matters. You have a clause suitable to England; but I defy anybody, except after argument, to say what is the meaning of the clause the Government propose to put on the Table in regard to Ireland. A more scandalous way of meeting a matter has never been resorted to in my experience, even under the administration of the right hon. Gentleman. If it is possible to divide against the Motion I shall do so. What is now happening shows how unwise I was to allow the Orchard Rating Bill to go through. Of course, the Unionist Gentlemen whose Bill I allowed to go through has now disappeared.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)
I hope the hon. Gentleman will not press the; Motion to report Progress. The substance of this Bill ought to have been included in the Local Taxation Bill. The hon. and learned Member for Longford introduced this Bill to make good the deficiency. Why not pass this Bill now, rather than risk a wrangle over the question on the Local Taxation Bill?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I do not wish to prolong the discussion, though I must protest against the tone adopted by the hon. and learned Member for Longford. The hon. and learned Gentleman has thought fit to lodge the most unfounded accusations against the First Lord of the Treasury. He has accused my right hon. Friend of having broken faith, and goodness knows how many other crimes and misdemeanours. He must know perfectly well that clauses including the licensing proposals of the Government are upon the Table of the House. They fully carry out the intention of the Government. The hon. and learned Gentleman has denounced the drafting of the; clauses; but I imagine that when the clauses come to be discussed it will be time enough to consider which of the two high legal authorities—the Attorney General for Ireland and the hon. and learned Gentleman—is the better. There is great inconvenience in adopting so unusual a course as that the hon. and learned Gentleman suggests. When the Government have a Bill on the Table of the House carrying out a general scheme of licensing in England, Scotland, and Ireland, it would be extremely inconvenient to consider a separate measure referring to Ireland alone.
§ MR. T. M. HEALY
The right hon. Gentleman talks of a general scheme of licensing, but the proposal as to Ireland only appeared on the Paper to day. It was because of the omission to deal with Ireland in any way that I drafted my Bill.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again to-morrow.