HC Deb 13 June 1890 vol 345 cc860-3

Motion made, and Question proposed, That it is expedient to authorise an additional Special Grant, out of monies to he provided by Parliament, to certain Elementary Schools, in pursuance of any Act of the present Session for making operative certain Articles of the Education Code, 1890.

(4.32.) MR. T. M. HEALY (Long ford, N.)

I beg, Sir, to move that you do report Progress and ask leave to sit again, and I do so on the ground that we have had this notice put down as a first notice without any warning whatever. Yesterday the Government attached so little importance to the Resolution that it was put down 18th or 19th on the Notice Paper amongst the Government Orders of the Day; and Members who expected to be brought down here to day to discuss the three great Government Bills embodying the three great principles of their policy—I refer to the Irish Land Purchase Bill, the Publicans' Endowment Bill, and the Tithe Bill—find, much to their surprise, that an unimportant Order is put down first without a note of warning from the Government. If we are to have an Autumn Session let it be because the time of the House is taken up with important subjects. To-day is Friday; Fridays are ordinarily private Members' days, but the Government have taken those days for their business on the plea that there are several important Bills which they must pass. Well, private Members to-day are deprived of the right of bringing on Motions on the Order for going into Committee of Supply; and having taken the day them selves, the Government have put down this small matter as a first Order instead of going on with the Taxation Bill. I protest against such a course, and I submit that if anything were wanted to show the utter collapse of the Government, we should find it in their action in regard to this Order. If the Government are in a difficulty with regard to the progress of business, it is due entirely to their want of manage- ment. Let them come to business. The Government having obtained the time of private Members, let them use it in a businesslike way. I move to report Progress.


If the lion, and learned Gentleman had listened to the Resolution, he would have seen that it is a purely formal one. I must decline to put the Motion.

(4.35.) MR. W. H. SMITH

I appeal to the lion. Member not to persist in his Motion. The Code has been accepted by the House, the Bill has been read a second time without any opposition, and this is merely a necessary formal stage before the Committee on the Code Bill is taken. It is most unusual for observations to be made on such a stage as this, or for any discussion to take place. There are further stages on which discussion and opposition, if necessary, can take place, and I do hope and believe that, however opposed hon. Members may be to Her Majesty's Government, they will allow this formal stage to be taken.


I think the hon. and learned Member is under a misapprehension. I entirely sympathise with the hon. Member in his objection, and assert the absolute right of the House to discuss the financial Resolution under the Code if it thinks fit to do so. The House has on many former occasions asserted its right to discussion at such stages, and I hope it will maintain that right. At the same time, there should be exceptional circum stances to justify resistance upon a merely formal financial Resolution; and as I agree that this is only a formal stage, I hope, in the circumstances, that the hon. Member will not press his Motion. The Code has received the approbation of a majority of the House, and will probably prove to be a valuable measure.

(4.37.) MR. S. SMITH

I desire to ask the right hon. Baronet the Vice President of the Council a question. I have been informed by one of the largest School Boards of the Kingdom that a Circular has been issued by the Science and Art Department laying down the conditions of the grant for manual instruction; that those conditions are utterly impracticable; and that their effect will be to prevent the intentions of Parliament from being carried out. Amongst other things imposed, they lay down the absurd rule that manual training must be given altogether out of school hours.


No, no.


I have been told so, and that the Education Department and the Science and Art Department do not co-operate together, the consequence being a muddle which will prevent the intentions of Parliament from being carried out. It is to be hoped that, after the House has unanimously agreed that manual training shall be incorporated in the school instruction, no frivolous red tape regulation will be laid down which will defeat the intentions of Parliament. I wish to have a word of explanation on this subject from the right hon. Baronet.

(4.40.) SIR W. HART DYKE

The hon. Member will have ample opportunity and time to raise this point in Committee on the Code Bill. The question before us is merely formal, the object of the Resolution being merely to enable us to go into Committee. It seems that strange misconceptions have got abroad as to the operation of the Science and Art Department Minute. I am entirely at issue with the hon. Member as to the statements he has made, and in Committee on the Bill I shall be quite prepared to answer any points that may be raised.

(4.42.) MR. T. M. HEALY

I object to the term used that this is merely a formal stage. It has been the immemorial practice of Parliament to have legitimate discussion at this stage, and I would remind the Committee that it was on this stage that we smashed the Bill which was to confer an official post on Colonel King Harman. In deference, however, to the appeal made to me by the right hon. Member for Derby, I will not persist with my Motion to report Progress. I would point out that Members on this side of the House have been continually charged, by inuendo and by broad statements in the newspapers which support the Government, with obstruction, and now the Government themselves have put down as the first Order a comparatively unimportant matter, which might occupy the whole evening if hon. Members insisted on their rights, to the exclusion of the Local Taxation Bill. I repeat that hon. Members have been deprived of their rights to facilitate important measures. I myself have reason to complain of the way I have been treated with regard to a Bill of my own, and in such circum stances how can the Government expect indulgence from private Members? I believe the proper policy for the Opposition to pursue is to take every opportunity of exposing the unsatisfactory manner in which the Government are conducting public business.


I may explain that I am the person responsible for this matter running on now. It was brought on after 12 o'clock this morning, and I challenged. I did so because I protest, in common with a great many other hon. Members, against the revolutionary theory which is constantly being advanced by the Government, that these important stages should be regarded as merely formal. The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury has expressed the opinion that it is most unusual for opposition to be offered to a stage of this kind. For my part, however, I shall make it usual to oppose such stages, at any rate until we have sufficient explanation on the matters in regard to which we desire information. I do not desire to prolong this discussion, or to oppose this stage on the merits of the question, because I have expressed myself in favour of the new Code and of the manner in which it has been introduced. I did, however, insist last night upon this matter being taken at an hour at which it could be discussed if necessary.

Question put, and agreed to.

Resolution to be reported upon Monday next.