HC Deb 17 June 1890 vol 345 cc1157-73

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury if to can now say whether the Government intend to ask the House to pass the Land Purchase Bill this year; and what proposal, if any, they will make in regard to the business of the House? I should also like to ask when the Government intend to introduce the Local Government Bill for Ireland, which was promised in Her Majesty's speech at the opening of the Session?


Perhaps it will be convenient that I should now make the statement which has been promised as to the course of public business. With reference to the last question asked, I am afraid I can make no engagement, so far as the present Session is concerned, and I think the hon. Member will see himself that the work which we have in hand would not justify the Government in asking the House to consider a question of such very great magnitude and complexity as that.


You might print the Bill.


I am myself of opinion that that course would be very undesirable. I have been under an engagement to the House to refer to the course of public business and the recommendations of the Government to facilitate the further progress of business. I must ask the House to cast its recollection back to the Debate which took place in March last on the Motion made by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Bridgeton, in which he endeavoured to bring us to the conclusion that it was most desirable that our sittings should tie terminated earlier than has hitherto been customary, and also to bring about an earlier meeting of Parliament. I have from time to time been asked by hon. Gentlemen opposite as to the measures which the Government would propose with a view to effect what we understand to be the general wish of the House. Although that wish was not expressed by a decided majority of the House, it was the duty of the Go- vernment to give its serious consideration to the arguments used and the vote by which those arguments were supported. We were sensible of the fact that hon. Gentlemen who voted with us, in opposition to the Motion of the right hon. Baronet, did so although desiring that the Session might, as a rule, be brought to a conclusion at an earlier period. The Government have very carefully considered the measures necessary to accomplish that wish. One of those measures certainly would be an earlier assembly of Parliament, than has hitherto been customary. Another would be, I hope, and I say so with great respect, some curtailment of the Debate on the Address in reply to the Speech from the Throne. A more important measure which we desire to propose for the consideration of the House is that a Standing Order should be passed under which it would be possible to suspend a Bill of great complexity, great detail, and considerable minutiæ which has been frequently in the possession of the House, but as to which when the month of June or July is reached insufficient time remains for its careful consideration in Committee. I refer to Bills of the character of the Land Purchase Bill, which ought not to be pushed through the House at any great or accelerated speed, on account of the varied and important interests involved.

An hon. MEMBER: you pushed the Coercion Act through the House.


I am endeavouring to avoid any question which will occasion any controversy. I am endeavouring to avoid questions of controversy now. I am endeavouring to propose to the House regulations for the conduct of the business of the House, in the belief, and with a desire, that they will improve the procedure of the House, and enable it, whatever Government may be in power, to dispose of its business in a more satisfactory manner. The proposal we desire to make to the House is one by which it will be possible to suspend a Bill which has reached the Committee stage, by a Motion made in the then Session of Parliament, to carry it over to the next Session of Parliament, it being always understood that that Session is a Session of the existing Parliament. It will not be proposed that any suspended Bills should be taken up in a new Parliament, but that Parliament should be at liberty to take the suspended Bill up in a Session of the same Parliament, and to take it up on nearly the same footing as if it were an adjournment of the Session. The proposal we shall make is that a Standing Order should be passed, the terms of which will be placed on the Table either to-morrow or on Thursday. I will read the general terms of that Standing Order, without binding myself absolutely to the exact words. I am sure no hon. Member would desire that I should be bound absolutely to every word I will now give to the House. I shall move— That, in future Sessions after July 15, and in the present Session, after a day to be hereafter appointed, no public Bills (except money Bills, Continuance Bills, and tills returned from the Lords, with Amendments) shall be further proceeded with, provided that, in respect of any public Bill which is in progress in Committee of the whole House, or in a Standing Committee, or which has been reported there from, a Motion may be made, after notice given, that further proceedings on such Bill be suspended until the next Session. If such Motion be carried, then in the ensuing Session (being a Session of the same Parliament) any Member whose name was on the suspended Bill may claim 'that the Resolution of the previous Session be read.' Thereupon the Speaker shall direct the Clerk to read the Resolution, and shall proceed to call on the Member to present the Bill in the form in which it stood when the proceedings thereon were suspended; and the questions on the First and Second Readings thereof shall be successively put forthwith. If both these questions be carried, the Bill shall be ordered to be printed, and if it had been partly considered in Committee in the previous Session, it shall stand committed to a similar Committee, and it shall be an Instruction to such Committee to begin, their consideration of the Bill at the clause on which Progress was reported in the previous Session; but if it had been reported from Committee in the previous Session, the consideration of the Bill as reported shall be appointed for that day week. We have sought, in framing this proposed Standing Order, to preserve to members all the rights and duties which belong to them in respect of the progress of any measure as far as the future progress of the measure is concerned, so that it will be taken up, after the formal first and second reading has been approved by the House, precisely at the point at which it was left in the previous Session, and any Amendments and any notices regarding the Bill will have to be dealt with according to the ordinary Rules and Regulations of the House. I think the best explanation I can give of the measure is that, consistently with the Rules of the House and consistently with the fact that in every Session a Bill must be read the first and second time, it will be simply an adjournment of the proceedings on a Bill, analogous in all respects to the adjournment which may take place with regard to a Bill in Committee from one day to another, from one week to another, and from one month to another. It will, perhaps, save-time if I refrain from going into any argument in support of the proposal which I shall make on a later day seeing that that will probably be the best time for the consideration of any objection that might possibly be urged. Presuming—which I hope may not be a rash presumption—that the House will be willing to adopt the Standing Order, which, I believe, will tend greatly to facilitate our business, I should ask the House to adjourn certainly the consideration of the Land Purchase (Ireland) Bill in Committee until next Session. I shall ask the House to continue and to pass the Local Taxation Bill which I believe is the only seriously contentious business, apart from the Irish Land Bill, which remains for the consideration of the House. I hope it may be possible to pass the Tithe Bill without very serious contention. I believe that the House generally does not desire that that question—a very thorny and difficult one—should remain undisposed of, and that we shall, if possible, arrive at a settlement which, shall be fair and reasonable to all concerned, and which shall preserve a property which certainly neither the land lord, nor the farmer, nor the occupier-in any sense has any claim or right to? I regard with apprehension the continuance of a condition of things which renders it possible that such a property may be in any degree damaged or lost. There, is another Bill of very considerable importance which arises out of the proposals of Her Majesty's Government, and which is now in possession of the House, although it has not yet been read a second time, and that is the Police Bill. That, I hope is a Bill which is to be regarded as not a contentious measure or a Party measure, and, having regard to the im- portance of the claims of a most deserving body of men throughout the country, I hope I may regard that Bill as one which will not be met by what I should call Party opposition; and in case of that Bill being read a second time within a reasonable time, I think it may well go to a Standing Committee, in order that all the clauses and the schedules may be most carefully examined in the manner in which Standing Committee of this House do discharge their duties to the House. The Government will be prepared to accept the work of that Committee—I will not say absolutely, because it would be dangerous to say beforehand what the Government may feel it their duty to do—but the Standing Committee will, I am sure, deal with a Bill of this character in such a manner that the Government will, I hope, be able to accept their conclusions. There are two other Bills which have been frequently referred to, one by my hon. Friend behind me, and one by the junior Member for Northampton. I refer to the Western Australia Bill and to the Indian Councils Bill. These Bills must be passed. I say that with due respect to the House; but we feel that they must be passed in the course of the present Session, and we shall certainly put them in a front place at the earliest possible period, and shall ask the House to consider them as soon as we are relieved from Committee on the Local Taxation Bill. The Barracks Bill is also a measure of very great importance. It is not a large measure. It is one on which some difference of opinion prevails, and it is right that that difference of opinion should be fairly and fully discussed, but I hope it will pass without much delay. There is a Bill which has not been introduced, and as to which I hope little difficulty will arise. That is the Census Bill, which must also be passed this year. There remain two or three other measures, which, I think, are not contentious measures—one is the Housing of the Working Classes Amendment and Consolidation Bill—as to which I believe hon. Members on both sides of the House are in agreement that it is desirable that these measures should be passed into law this Session. The course we shall take with regard to these measures is to read them a second time, as quickly as possible, and send them to a Standing Committee. There is the Savings Banks Bill, to which I hope there will be very little opposition. There is a Bill which we should have been very glad to have pased into law this year, if time had permitted, but hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House have given notice of opposition, and have informed me privately, in the most frank manner, that they would feel it their duty to raise considerable discussion upon it. I refer to the Employers' Liability Bill. Under these circumstances, I do not think it would be possible for us to persevere with that Bill this Session. There is also another Bill with which we should wish to proceed, if possible, and I hope that an arrangement may be made with Scotch Members which will enable progress to be made with that measure. I refer to the Private Bill Procedure (Scotland) Bill, but if it should meet with anything like persistent opposition, it is not one in regard to which we should ask the House to prolong its sitting. I have not referred to all the Bills on the Paper, but I have referred to all the Bills of an important character, or rather of a character that would be likely to cause considerable discussion. There is also the Electoral Disabilities Removal Bill, which is a measure of some importance, and we shall endeavour to find time for it, but it is obvious that we cannot ask the House to sit for a prolonged period in order to pass that Bill. With regard to the Friendly Societies Bill, I am afraid it is not possible to pass that Bill this Session. The question is one of importance, but it is again one of those measures which, although not of a Party character, still deserves to be fully discussed, and, looking at the period of the Session and the desire of the House for an earlier adjournment than we have been accustomed to of late years, I am afraid it will be necessary to postpone its consideration for another Session. I am not aware whether there is any other point to which I need refer on the present occasion. It is obvious that we shall be desirous of proceeding with Supply at the earliest possible moment. We have no wish but to wind up the business of the Session as soon as possible. Probably there are few persons in this House on whom public business presses with so much severity as those who sit on these Benches, and there can be no desire on our part to prolong the Session.


May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he intends going through this enormous legislative programme before he comes to the financial business of the Session?


The hon. Gentleman will find, when he considers the various measures I have referred to, that the legislative programme is not so enormous as he supposes. We desire to proceed with the Local Taxation Bill, but my impression is that a very few days will be sufficient to dispose of the other business to which I have referred. Almost the whole of them are practically of a non-contentious character. The Government do not intend to take up Supply until the Local Taxation Bill has been disposed of. There is the question of the Police Vote. With reference to all the circumstances of the case, the Government think it desirable that this should be considered as early as possible. We propose, therefore, to take the Vote on Friday—[An hon. MEMBER: What Vote?]—the Metropolitan Police—and the Standing Order on Monday. I shall endeavour to place the Standing Order in the hands of Members on Thursday, and not later than Friday.

MR. A. O'CONNOR (Donegal, E.)

Do the Government propose to take a Vote on Account?


I hope not, Sir.

MR. W. E. GLADSTONE (Edinburgh, Mid Lothian)

I rise for a very narrow and specific purpose, because I draw a broad distinction between the important statement which the right hon. Gentleman has just made with respect to the arrangement of the business for the present Session, and the notice he has given for the introduction of a new mea sure with respect to the business both now and hereafter. I presume the statement of the arrangements for the present Session may require some discussion, but into that I do not intend to go. I rise merely for the purpose of giving a notice and putting a question. We have heard the right hon. Gentleman's draft of the Standing Order, and I quite concur that he ought not to be held bound to the particular expressions of his Standing Order, particularly after the doctrine laid down to-night as to the explanation of a very important letter which appeared in the Times. The right hon. Gentleman is entitled to that after what we have heard as to the licences of construction and amendment. But that is not the matter in hand. The right hon. Gentleman seems to have given his notice, and I wish to give another notice on the same subject and in the same sense. I do not give the precise terms, but I wish to state that a Motion will be made, when the right hon. Gentleman proposes his Standing Order, from this side of the House, to the effect that so grave a change in the usage of Parliament and the practice of the Constitution ought not to be made without our having, agreeably to former precedents, previous examination by a carefully-selected Committee. That is the notice I have to give; but I wish also to put a question in the nature of a suggestion to the right hon. Gentleman, and I hope this further proposal will be acceptable to the right hon. Gentleman. It is in the nature of a suggestion—it is that, inasmuch as the subject has been on previous occasions before the House, all Bills which would now be extremely difficult of access—those Bills representing the positive action of the other branch of the Legislature, or representing proposals which that portion of the Legislature has entertained; I would ask whether the right hon. Gentleman will give directions for the re-printing of those Bills, and that they be circulated so that hon. Members may have the benefit of knowing the contents of those Bills?


I shall endeavour to comply with the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman, and the Bills shall be printed and circulated.


I have no doubt there will be included the Report of the Committee of this House upon a Bill sent down in 1848.


I shall take care that the fullest information, as far as possible, shall be communicated to the House.

MR. J. MORLEY (Newcastle-upon-Tyne)

I wish to ask a question of the Chief Secretary for Ireland, after the announcement which we have just heard as to the Land Purchase Bill. As the right hon. Gentleman is aware, with regard to the Ashbourne Act of 1888, it is not in the power of the Commissioners to receive applications after the funds placed at their disposal are exhausted. I have reason to believe that the funds will be exhausted certainly before the end of this year. The announcement that the Land Bill is to be abandoned for this year puts us in this position—the Bill can hardly become law for another 12 months, so that for a period of six months the Ashbourne Act will be suspended. I want to know whether the right hon. Gentleman is prepared for that suspension.


I think the right hon. Gentleman is unduly depressed both as to the amount of money and with regard to the time that it will take for the Land Bill to pass into law. He anticipates that the surplus money under the Ashbourne Act will all have been exhausted. I hope both prophecies are below the mark. I trust the money will last longer than he thinks, and I have every expectation that the Bill will have passed into law long before another year has passed by. If lie asks me whether I should regret that any interval should elapse between the final conclusion of the Ashbourne Act and the inception of the policy of the Land Bill, I reply I should greatly regret it; and if it should arise it will be from other causes than those over which I have control. I shall not be responsible for it.


The right hon. Gentleman says that he should regret if there should be any suspension, and yet he says that the applications will not be sufficiently numerous to exhaust the funds. Those statements are opposed to each other.


Surely not.

MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)

I hope, now that the Land Purchase Bill has been abandoned till next Session, and in view of what took place in the Second Reading Debate, the Local Government Bill will be laid before the House and printed and circulated before we are called on to proceed further with the Land Bill.


I should require notice of that.


I shall repeat it tomorrow.


I ask as to the India Councils Bill. I hope we shall have full notice when it will be taken. We ought to have at least two days' notice, and that should be possible under the new arrangement.

MR. CHILDERS (Edinburgh, S.)

I shall be glad if the First Lord will inform us when we shall have an opportunity of discussing the Report of the Royal Commission presided over by the noble Lord the Member for Rossendale?


I beg to give notice that when the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House moves his Standing Order, I shall move that it be extended to Bills passed by this House and rejected by the House of Lords.

SIR U. KAY-SHUTTLEWORTH (Lancashire, Clitheroe)

What will be done with regard to the Industrial Schools Bill and the Reformatories Bill, which have lately come from the House of Lords?

MR. J. E. ELLIS (Nottingham, Rushcliffe)

Are we to understand that when Bills are suspended by the Standing Order the Amendments will also be carried over?

MR. POWELL WILLIAMS (Birmingham, S.)

Will there be an earlier meeting of Parliament than usual next year?


I should like to remind the Government that two years ago the light hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury gave a definite and personal pledge to introduce a District Councils Bill in the Session next ensuing.


Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will be good enough to state whether, in arranging the programme, he has made any estimate of the day in December this Session will come to a close?


Do we understand that the right hon. Gentleman intends to sacrifice the Employers' Liability Bill to this Compensation Bill? I want a definite answer. If that Bill is not proceeded with very great objection will be taken to the Compensation Bill. Does the right hon. Gentleman mean to employ the time of the House on the Local Taxation Bill, to the exclusion of the Employers' Liability Bill?


Will the Tithes Bill be taken after the Local Taxation Bill?

MR. BADMANN (Camberwell, Peckham)

Will the Leader of the House consider the propriety of taking Wednesdays?


The right hon. Gentleman has overlooked the Corrupt Practices (Municipal Elections) Bill. It has been returned by the Grand Committee.

MR. HUNTER (Aberdeen, N.)

There is the Police Superannuation Bill for Scotland. Is it intended to pass that during the present Session; and, if so, will it come into operation during the current year?


May I ask whether it is intended to take any action on the Report of the Sweating Committee?

(5.30.) MR. T. M. HEALY

I would ask why, when the Government pledged themselves to introduce a measure of Local Government for Ireland, nothing has been heard of it, while the Licensing Bill, of which no mention was made in the Queen's Speech, has been thrust to the front. As the Land Purchase Bill has been dropped, when may the House expect to see signs of the great Government policy for Ireland which was promised as far back as 1886?

(5.31.) MR. SEXTON

I would inquire whether the right hon. Gentleman's plans are sufficiently far advanced to enable him to indicate on what day he will move his Resolution?

(5.31.) MR. W. H. SMITH

I will endeavour to reply to the numerous questions which have been addressed to me in the order in which they were asked; but in reply to the hon. Member for West Belfast, I may say that I proposed to move the Resolution on Monday next. In view of the request of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, that the House should be furnished with copies of certain Bills and that every effort should be made to place them in the hands of Members at once, I shall have to see whether it is possible to adhere to Monday. As to the Indian Councils Bill, the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Bradlaugh) must see that at present I cannot hold myself bound to any particular date. Notice will be given before the Bill is taken. The Government hope that the Employers' Liability Bill will be received with consideration and without occupying much of the time of the House. The hon. Member opposite (Mr. Broadhurst) shakes his head, and if he implies by that that much time will be occupied in dealing with the measure, I am afraid it will be impossible to take it. This, and the Reformatory and Industrial Schools Bill, are non-contentious Bills—if they are contentious, there will be difficulties in the way of proceeding with them. But we shall place the Bills before the House, and it will be for the House to say whether they are to become law. As to the Report of the Royal Commission, the understanding is that any observations which hon. Gentlemen may think it right to make on that Report will be properly taken on the War Office Vote, which we shall put forward as soon as possible. An hon. Member asked whether the Amendments on the Paper to the Land Purchase (Ireland) Bill, which is to be suspended, can be carried ever to next Session. My impression is that it will be possible to do that; but under any circumstances, the Amendments can remain on the Paper, and it will be for hon. Members to direct the clerk at the Table to put them back again as they are next Session. It certainly is the intention of the Government to recommend an earlier meeting of Parliament next year, with a view to securing an earlier adjournment. [An hon. MEMBER: When will the Session commence?] I am afraid I can hardly say that. Perhaps all that is desired by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bridgeton will not be attained, but a great deal of it will be, we hope. I can only say that we hope and desire to pass the Tithe Bill, and as to the District Councils Bill, we have a great desire to bring it in; but the prolonged discussion on other Bills has made it impossible to do so. It is suggested that, with reference to the Votes in Supply, Wednesdays should be taken by the Government. No doubt it will be the duty of the Government to ask the House for Wednesdays later in the Session. [An hon. MEMBER: What about Sundays?] But there are still some Bills which private Members have in hand, and I think it would be hardly fair to them to ask the House to give the Government Wednesdays, at any rate, not for two or three more Wednesdays. The Scotch Police Superannuation Bill, I am informed by the Lord Advocate, is in a forward state of preparation, and I hope it will be accepted by Scotch Members, and will not meet with opposition. The Corrupt Practices (Scotland) Bill is practically, I believe, accepted by Scotch Members. It has been passed by the Standing Committee and is now for consideration on Report, and I take it for granted that it will pass without much delay. In regard to the Local Government (Ireland) Bill, I cannot enter into an argument with the hon. Member for Longford about the precedence due to this Bill. We are anxious to introduce such a measure, but we must introduce measures in the order we think best; and we cannot undertake to introduce this Bill until the Land Purchase Bill has, at all events, attained considerable progress in this House.

(5.39). MR. W. E. GLADSTONE

I do not wish to extend the remarks I have made, but I think it is impossible that I should allow the statement of the right hon. Gentleman to remain without one or two observations. It appears to me that the upshot of what we have beard is this: that everything in the House in which the Government are interested, or in which anybody else is interested, is to be sacrificed for the Licensing Bill. It is the Licensing Bill obviously, and it is the Licensing Bill alone, which blocks the way. If it remains in the position in which it now stands, the statement of the right hon. Gentleman, to which we had all fondly looked forward as the harbinger of shortened labours is, on the contrary, a distinct intimidation to us of a Session of indefinite length. The right hon. Gentleman has been very laudably anxious to pass the Tithe Bill, because, whether all its principles are right or not, the object of the Government is to save a property which is recognised as national property. But whenever the right hon. Gentleman is asked about the Licensing Bill, the answer always is that the Government are determined to pass it. Yet to-day, in reference to the Tithe Bill, he can only say that he desires and hopes to pass it. Desires are uncertain and hopes are shadowy and unsubstantial affairs. The determinations of the Government are confined, as it appears—except in regard to an Indian Bill and the Western Australia Bill—to the Licensing Bill, which was never mentioned in the Queen's Speech or even heard of before the middle of the Session. Therefore, I am justified in pointing out the extraordinary position in which we stand. Even as to the Indian Councils Bill, the right hon. Gentleman cannot say when the discussion will be taken on that Bill and on the Western Australia Bill. Then the Reformatory and Industrial Schools Bill is of the greatest importance; but that is to be sacrificed for the sake of the Licensing Bill, if any difficulty should arise, and some time, it appears, must be required in disposing of it. For the Barracks Bill, one of the important measures of the Government, which they think to be essential to the well-being and comfort of the Army, no-time can be mentioned, although we have now passed a half of the month of June. The Employers' Liability Bill is a Bill directly touching the welfare of the mass of the labourers of this country, and this Bill is, if need be, to be sacrificed—for it is virtually given up this evening—in order to prosecute a measure which the working classes of this country, from one end of this country to the other, absolutely detest.

(5.44.) SIR C. LEWIS (Antrim, N.)

Is it in order, Sir, that any hon. Member disagreeing with the right hon. Gentleman should enter into this controversy?

(5.44.) MR. SPEAKER

Although there is no question directly before the House, it is usual on such special occasions as this to allow some latitude.

(5.44.) MR. W. H. SMITH

Perhaps my hon. Friend will, for the convenience of the House, allow this very limited discussion to take place.

(5.45.) MR. W. E. GLADSTONE

The only alternative to the latitude which it is usual to grant on such a special and peculiar occasion as this is to make a Motion for the adjournment on the ground that the right hon. Gentleman's statement raises questions of pressing urgency for the House. I do not desire to take that course. What I want to ask is, partly in the tone of a question and inquiry and partly in the tone, if I may so say, of expostulation and even of entreaty, whether we are still to see in this Licensing Bill, not only the measure to which, on its merits, we so fundamentally object, but also the instrument by which this Session is to be indefinitely prolonged and other valuable measures, which we are anxious to welcome and discuss fairly, and to pass, are to be placed in the extremest danger or are at once to be sacrificed? Is it the intention of the Government still to press forward this Licensing Bill and to pass it into law?

(5.46.) MR. W. H. SMITH

Perhaps the House will allow me to reply very shortly to the observations of the right hon. Gentleman. He asks me in a tone of expostulation and entreaty whether it is the intention of the Government to press forward the Licensing Bill; and he attributes to the Government the whole of the delay and responsibility for the whole of the delay in public business which has been caused by the Bill to which he refers. The right hon. Gentleman has a very long experience of this House, and I think he must admit that the Government are at liberty and are bound to press forward measures which they believe to be necessary in the interests of the country at large, even although a minority of the House may entertain very strong views as to those measures. I think I should be inclined to address to the right hon. Gentleman, and to those who are acting with him, an entreaty that they will permit a measure, after reasonable discussion, to be passed by a majority of this House. There are times and seasons in which opposition may fairly and properly be developed, and it is right that those who differ from any measure should put their reasons and statements frankly before the country and the House. After that has been done, I venture to ask whether the Government is responsible for the repetition of Motions, of statements, and of arguments which unduly occupy the time of the House? Is it to be laid down by the right hon. Gentleman as a canon of Parliamentary law that if the Opposition take a strong view as to a particular measure they are at liberty to demand from the Government that that measure shall not be pressed? Those who are responsible for the business of the House are at least bound to take the course which they believe to be right, and we are at liberty to appeal to the House not indefinitely and unreasonably—if I may use the word without offence—to prolong Debates upon questions which have been already decided by the House. With ordinary discussion it may yet be possible, without asking for any sacrifice on the part of Members, to pass many of those Bills which the right hon. Gentleman has mentioned. I should be glad to avail myself of the opportunity of passing those measures, and I am therefore unwilling to be responsible for discharging them from the Orders. If the right hon. Gentleman and his Friends can assist the House in discharging its duty I shall heartily welcome their aid.

(5.50.) MR. W. E. GLADSTONE

Are we to understand that the Government intend to proceed with the Local Taxation Bill until it has gone through Committee, and that until that is done they will postpone the consideration of all other measures?


I am afraid that we must take that course.


I beg to give notice that when the Census Bill is introduced, I shall move clauses in it to enable the Irish people to express their views as to the government of their country, so that we may be able to ascertain the exact strength of the contented minority.


Do the Government seriously mean to postpone their proposals as to Irish Local Government until the Land Purchase Bill has been disposed of, next year, or the year after?


I have already stated that the Local Government Bill for Ireland will not be introduced in the present Session. It would be contrary to all precedent for me to state the course which the Government may take in the next Session of Parliament.


Can the right hon. Gentleman tell us whether he has formed any estimate as to when we are likely to finish the Session?


I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he has any evidence, through the usual channels of Party information, that the majority of the people in this country prefer the Compensation Bill to the Irish Local Government Bill?


I have no evidence whatever as to any agreement in the country about the Irish Local Government Bill.


I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he will not re-consider this question with regard to Irish Government, which was referred to in the Queen's Speech this year, or whether he will remain satisfied with his present lucrative position of public executioner?


I beg to ask the President of the Local Government Board whether, following the precedent of the Local Government Bill of 1888, he will lay on the Table a Paper showing the probable amount which will be given to each county under the three heads of the provisions of the Local Taxation Bill?


I will endeavour to meet the right hon. Gentleman's views. I may say, however, it will be impossible to give with any accuracy the amount which will be received by counties and county boroughs in those counties in which there are county boroughs.