HC Deb 24 June 1890 vol 345 cc1863-80

Order for Committee read.

(10.36.) MR. WHITMORE (Chelsea)

I beg to move the Instruction which stands in my name. The Bill seeks to remove disabilities in the case of certain classes only. My Instruction would extend the principle of the Bill to its logical conclusion, and if it is adopted, the Committee will be enabled to afford relief in the case of railway servants, merchant sailors, artisans, and others, who are at the present time in many cases disqualified.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That it be an Instruction to the Committee that they have power to insert clauses in the Bill to remove the disabilities attaching to voters who have been absent from their qualifying premises under any contract of service or in the execution of a public duty.—(Mr. Whit-more.)

(10.37.) MR. CHANCE

I should have thought that on a Bill of this importance the right hon. and learned Gentleman in charge of the measure would have vouchsafed some explanation. Personally, I do not think the Instruction goes far enough or meets the whole difficulty. I object to the entire framing of the Bill The difficulty which exists under the present franchise is that any householder must, to qualify himself for a vote, be in occupation of the premises for the whole of the qualifying period. While voluntary absence for six, seven, or eight months does not disqualify a man, absence on duty—the absence of a policeman or a sailor who has signed articles, even for one day—disqualifies a man for a whole year. The simplest way of dealing with the question would have been to make it an amendment of the general law, and get rid of this absurd doctrine that compulsory absence for 24 hours is a bar to the franchise. A great many people are subjected to disability, and I fail to see why only some men should be singled out for exceptional favour. Some explanation is necessary before the House can wisely permit the Second Reading to be taken.


This is not the Second Reading. The question is, whether this Instruction should be given to the Committee.


I desire to know why the Irish Police, for instance, should receive this favourable treatment, while other persons with far greater interest in the locality should be omitted from consideration. The Irish policeman is liable to be shifted from one end of the country to the other, and under this Bill it would be possible for one to qualify in a county where the election was pretty close—one of the divisions of Tyrone, for example. All that is necessary is that he should be there on the 20th of July, 1890, and the 20th of July, 1891. Why are seamen omitted from consideration by the Bill? Everyone knows that seamen are compelled to sign articles in the Merchant Service, and that they commit an offence if they absent themselves from service. It is held, however, that absence for a single week in a coasting steamer would be a disqualification. It seems to me absurd to bring in a Bill dealing with policemen and military, and to leave out of consideration seamen who are absent under articles.


I must ask the hon. and learned Gentleman to speak to the Instruction before the House.


May I point out that I am showing that certain classes of men have been omitted from consideration?


I accept the Instruction.


Yes; but you will allow discussion. There is another question which I do not think the Instruction raises, and that is the question of the right of a voter to vote at a polling booth which is not in his own polling district. That right is reasonably given by the Bill to two classes of people, and I suggest to the Mover of the Instruction that his Instruction ought to be widened so as to give the right to other classes of persons, such as engine drivers and railway servants, who may find it difficult to be in their own polling district on the polling day. There is a third class of persons whom the Instruction ought to include, and they are the persons who have renewed——


I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Gentleman, but I must point out to him that the Instruction only refers to persons who are absent under any contract of service or in the execution of their duty.


I am arguing that the Instruction ought to be widened. I think the Instruction ought not only to remove the bar to the right to vote, but should give facilities to vote, such as the Bill affords to two classes of individuals. Other persons ought to be afforded quite as great facilities for voting as policemen and soldiers. I submit that, under the Instruction, it would not be open for the Committee to make that alteration, and I hope the hon. Member (Mr. Whit-more) will re-consider his Instruction or will at least inform the House he is not adverse to an Amendment of the Instruction which would make the matter clearer and enable persons to get not only one advantage, but all the advantages which the Bill proposes to give.

(10.49.) SIR R. WEBSTER

If the hon. Member for Kilkenny had been present at the Debate on the Second Reading he would know that this Bill has been introduced at the request of the Revising Barristers in various parts of the country, who think it very hard that persons away on duty for four months should lose their vote. On the Second Reading the hon. Member for Chelsea suggested that the Bill should be extended to all contracts of service, and, on behalf of the Government, acquiescence with that view was given. Amendments have been put upon the Paper to carry out that intention. If seamen come within the words I have put down, namely, "in the performance of any duty of his office, employment, or service," they will be included in the Bill. It has been suggested that railway servants ought to have some special privileges. So far as railway servants have to be absent from their homes for the qualifying period, they will be included in the Bill. Then it is suggested that, in addition, there should be facilities for these men to vote at places other than their own polling districts. I have made some inquiry, and I have found there is no practical grievance. It is not desirable to extend the power of voting at other polling places more than is absolutely necessary, and I am informed that railway men will, as a rule, be able to vote some time between the hours of 8 and 8.

(10.51.) MR. T. H. BOLTON (St. Pancras, N.)

The hon. and learned Gentleman says there is no practical grievance as regards railway men. He is mistaken. Numbers of railway servants are unable to vote in consequence of being sent away before the day of election, and being unable to return to their homes until after the day of polling. I see great practical difficulty in dealing with the matter: but it ought to be possible: and might, if we could provide that all elections should take place on the same day. In that case there would be no difficulty in enabling railway servants to poll in constituencies in which they happened to be at the time of the election; their ballot papers being transmitted to their own constituencies.

(10.53.) MR. T. M. HEALY

I consider the Bill is a very useful one, and therefore it is one to which I should not like to see any strenuous opposition made. As far as it goes, it accomplishes a very desirable object, but, at the same time, it is necessary to point out that the measure would never have been necessary but for the decision of the Queen's Bench in England in the case of "King against Mitchell." That decision as regards soldiers and sailors was distinctly dissented from in Ireland by the Irish Court of Appeal; but, in order to promote uniformity in the franchise in the three countries, the Irish Court were with great reluctance bound to follow the English case. The result has been a state of things in Ireland which even the Instruction of the hon. Member for Chelsea does not meet. In a recent case in Ireland, as regards sailors, there was the most unnatural construction of the law that perhaps any Court ever gave. The Irish Judges have declared that if a sailor takes passage on the night mail from. Belfast to Barrow-in-Furness, or from one little coasting station in Ireland to another little coasting station in Scotland or England, under articles by which he can be compelled to go on board under the Merchant Shipping Act, he is disqualified.


That is dealt with in the Bill.


Yes, under the Bill he may be absent for not more than four months from his home.


The four months applies to all persons. It is not thought right to give a greater extension to one class of men than to another.


A pure fallacy. If a man lets his house furnished during the summer, and occupies it during the rest of the year it is considered a very hard thing that he should lose the franchise. That man, however, puts another family into his house. The sailor, on the other hand, continues to pay his rates and taxes, and his wife and children remain in possession of the premises. The two cases are wholly different, and I suggest that the four months' analogy which has been imported into the law, is an entirely false one. Why should the man who returns home with in the four months retain the franchise, whilst the man who is absent for five or six months loses it? The real test ought to be constructive occupation of the premises. If a man, through his wife and family, remain in occupation of the house, he ought not to lose his vote. This is a seafaring nation. The English people owe their greatness and potentiality to their seafaring-character. I hope the Government will recognise that four months is a pernicious limit and will re-consider their decision. I welcome the change in this Bill, although I believe that from a Party point of view it may injure us in Derry, whore the Militiamen, who are mostly Nationalists, are generally shipped to some place in the South of England when the day of election comes. Let us try to come to an agreement on the Bill by providing that where a man remains in constructive occupation of his premises, and is, as Gilbert would say, "a pure and blameless ratepayer," he shall not lose his vote by reason of absence from homo. I therefore propose to add to the words of the hon. Member for Chelsea— Or in other cases where the voter, notwithstanding his personal absence, has been in constructive occupation of the qualifying premises. You have not in England that keen watch kept upon the register—that attack upon it which obtains in Ulster. In Derry and Belfast you may find men watching the Police Courts with the sole object of discovering those persons who, being charged with drunkenness, are imprisoned because they cannot pay the fine. One consequence attaching to this imprisonment is the loss of the franchise. It may be that the House may take up a hoity-toity, virtuous attitude, as the House sometimes does, and say there should be no sympathy with drunkards; but it should be observed this depriving a man of the franchise is not because he happened to be drunk, but because he has not 5s. to pay the fine and prevent imprisonment. The rich drunkard goes about his business, and enjoys his franchise; but the poor man must go to prison until his friends raise the money to pay his fine, and for this he loses his electoral right. This is one of the cases the Bill does not cover. If we are going to deprive a man of the franchise for little lapses of this kind, that is reducing the franchise to an absurdity. It is an odious state of things, and not to be tolerated. In England the view of the Revising Barristers is to extend the franchise so far as possible within the law; but in Ireland the case is wholly different, and the object of the Revising-Barrister is to cut the throat of the franchise. The Revising Barristers in Ireland are nominated by the Lord Lieutenant, and of the 20 appointed last October 18 were Tories. These men make a shambles of their Judgment Seat; you can see them with the chopping block at hand looking out for the head of every Nationalist in Ulster. You may tell from the name of a man whether he is a Nationalist. The O'Mahoneys, the Murphys, the Donovans, and such like, you may rely are Nationalists. But when you light upon a man with the name of Blenkinsop or something of that kind in the North of Ireland, then you may safely put him down as a Tory. Any man with knowledge of the country knows the polities of a man as he comes up in these narrow divisions, and the partisan action of these Revising Barristers has become a scandal in Ireland. The Amendment I propose is to add at the end of the Instruction— Or in other cases where a voter, not with standing his personal absence, has been in constructive occupation of the qualifying premises.

(11.5.) MR. SPEAKER

I do not think that would be in order. The Bill is to exempt from disqualification to be on the register those persons of three classes who are disqualified by reason of absence, namely, the Military, Naval, and Police Forces, acting under authority, and to provide that absence under such circumstances should not be a disqualification. The Instruction now proposes to extend this to other persons who might be acting under contract of service; but I do not think it would be in order to attach to that provisions as to occupation, the lodgers' franchise registration, or other matters connected with the franchise, but apart from the purpose of the Bill.

(11.6.) MR. T. M. HEALY

It is perfectly true, Sir, that the Bill deals only with the Naval, Military, and Police Forces; but the Amendment which the Government have accepted proposes to remove the disability also in the case of those absent from the qualifying premises under any contract of service; and my suggestion is that the disqualification should be removed where persons have been absent generally, provided they have had a constructive occupancy through their wives and families.

(11.7.) MR. SPEAKER

I apprehend from that no Instruction would be required. I think that an Amendment providing that a contract of service—compulsory service, compelling absence from qualifying premises should not be held to disqualify—would come within the scope of the Bill, and if within the scope of the Bill, would be in order.

(11.7.) MR. T. M. HEALY

Of course, Sir, if you rule that I should be in order in moving my Amendment in Committee, that will quite satisfy me.

(11.8.) MR. COURTMEY (Cornwall, Bodmin)

I do not understand from your views, Sir, that this Amendment would be in order, but, that on the contrary, it would be altogether outside the scope of the Bill, and so could not be taken into consideration in Committee, In respect to the Amendment, I submit as a point of order that it is really a new Instruction, and not an addition to the Motion we have now before us, and so, in any case, notice of it should appear on the Paper.

(11.8.) MR. STANSFELD (Halifax)

On the question of order, Sir, I presume we are entitled to alter the title of the Bill and its contents?

(11.9.) SIR R. WEBSTER

May I point out that the Bill does not in any way affect or alter the law as to the qualifying occupation, but simply proposes that where there is a qualifying occupation absence under a contract of service shall not disqualify.

(11.9.) MR. CAUSTON (Southwark, W.)

May I ask whether commercial travellers and coachmen would come under the exemption from disqualification?


Yes, if under a contract of service.


That is the whole point, absence from qualifying premises under contract of service.

(11.10.) MR. WADDY (Lincolnshire, Brigg)

The Government have agreed to accept the Instruction by which the scope of the Bill will be largely extended beyond the original intention, and I wish to extend it so as to meet such cases as that of railway servants in the locomotive service. Those men—and the number is large—leave home on long railway journeys before the poll opens and return after the poll has closed. I would ask the Attorney General if he can see his way to introducing in the Bill a provision to meet such cases as these, where, by the requirements of their occupation, men are prevented from the exercise of the franchise because they cannot attend the poll. Then there is another class on whose behalf I make an appeal, Nonconformist ministers. They are under contracts of service of a very important character, which practically disqualify them from the exercise of the franchise. I speak more particularly of the Wesleyan Body, though my remarks may apply to other Nonconformist ministers. The rule in the Wesleyan Church is that the minister shall stay three years in the district to which he is appointed, and then he is transferred, perhaps, to the other end of the Kingdom. Those changes of residence disqualify, and I would ask is it not possible to arrive at some arrangement by which these men, who may be counted by the thousand—men of education such as it is desirable to have on the register—may exercise the franchise under their terms of service?

(11.12.) MR. STOREY (Sunderland)

There is another class of men for whom I desire to say a word. The Bill provides that a policeman absent on duty may record his vote in a booth other than the one to which, as an ordinary voter, he should go. Now, in boroughs such as Sunderland, there may be 60 or 70 polling booths, and as many Returning Officers and clerks. These officials, as a matter of fact, have no means of voting, because they cannot leave the booth where they are employed. Unless the Mayor is in sympathy with a Returning Officer, and appoints him to a booth where he can register his vote, these electors are deprived of the opportunity of exercising the franchise at all, unless, indeed, by a hurried drive in a cab, they can contrive to do this.


I rise to order, Sir. The Bill, I submit, does not affect the right to vote, but the right to be on the register.


The point is that members of the Naval, Military, and Police Service are not to be disqualified by reason of enforced absence under contract of service, and the argument is that other classes absent under authority should not be precluded from voting, and the question is whether some means may be devised enabling such persons to vote.


I am obliged to you, Sir, for making my meaning clear to the hon. Member. By way of bringing the matter to an issue, I propose to add, when the present Amendment is disposed of, the words— Or are unable to vote at their polling place, owing to the execution of a public duty.


The Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Longford is not in order; docs the hon. Member move now?



Amendment proposed, to add to the proposed Instruction, the words— Or are unable to vote at their polling places, owing to the execution of a public duty in connection with the election.

(11.18.) SIR. R WEBSTER

I think if the hon. Member had had an opportunity of looking over the Bill, he would have seen that, without the necessity of any Instruction, he could move his Amendment to Clause 3. The Instruction has reference to Clause 2, and this clause provides that the Revising Barrister shall not strike off the register soldiers and sailors who happen to be absent on the Public Service, and the Instruction is to extend that provision to other kinds of Service referred to in the Debate on the Second Reading. What the hon. Member for Sunderland desires is that there should be means to enable persons other than constables, who may be absent on the polling day, to record their votes in other than their own district. I believe that this would be in order on Clause 3, but, in any case, it is clear that it does not apply to this Instruction, which has reference to removing disqualifications to being on the register, not to prevention from voting.

(11.20.) MR. STOREY

That is just what I cannot understand. [Cries of "Spoken."] I ask permission of the House to point out that this is a Bill to remove the disabilities of persons in the Naval, Military and Police Forces, and this is dealt with in Clause 2.


As to the register.


But suppose they are registered, how does Clause 3 deal with any other persons than those dealt with in Clause 2?


It is another subject.


Do I understand that, notwithstanding that Clause 2 deals with naval, military and police duties, it is the opinion of the Attorney General, which I hope may be fortified by the ruling of the Chair, that I shall be enabled to move, on Clause 3, that the ability to vote in other booths than their own shall also be allowed to civil persons or others than those in the Naval, Military and Police Services persons engaged in the conduct of elections?

(11.23.) SIR R. WEBSTER

It is not for me to express an opinion, but I should have thought, subject to the ruling of the Chair, that it would be open to the hon. Member when we are dealing with Clause 3 to put down such an Amendment. At any rate, it has nothing to do with the present Instruction.

(11.23.) MR. STOREY

On a point of order, Sir, I would ask whether I should be in order, on Clause 3, in moving the Amendment I have put into your hands?

(11.24.) MR. SPEAKER

The former part of the Bill deals with qualification for the register. Clause 3 will confer the ability to vote to men so qualified under the Bill if, in the execution of duty, they are in other polling places than their own. Under the circumstances, I think it might be competent for the hon. Member to raise the point on Clause 3.

(11.25.) MR. COURTNEY

With great respect, I submit it is a point upon which I do not find myself able to agree with the Attorney General.


I daresay I am wrong; I only stated my own opinion.


Clause 3 enables a constable who is sent on duty to a particular booth to vote at that booth, although it is not his polling place; but he does so being sent by superior authority he cannot resist, and he is unable to record his vote except under the permission this Bill gives him. Returning Officers and clerks voluntarily accept their duties; they are not under a, contract of service which requires them to undertake particular duties. Clause 2 effects the removal of the disability which rests upon a man through absence from qualifying premises through duties under his contract of service, and ensures his being placed upon the register. Clause 3 deals with the special position of constables who, when on duty, are permitted to vote at the nearest polling place. Without enlightenment I do not now possess, I do not see how the Amendment connects itself with this clause, or how in Committee it could be extended in this way. An Instruction would be necessary to effect this, and it should be a new Instruction, not an Amendment to the present one. It is new matter entirely, to be dealt with at the proper time and after notice.

(11.26.) MR. SPEAKER

Then arises this difficulty: There will be no opportunity of putting down notice of an Instruction. The other Instructions are out of order; the hon. Member cannot move an Instruction now without notice, and the present Instruction being disposed of, I leave the Chair, and the hon. Member will be shut out from his opportunity of moving.

(11.28.) MR. WINTERBOTHAM (Gloucester, Cirencester)

To give an opportunity for clearing up the matter, I beg to move the adjournment of the Debate. We have, as Liberals, no objection to this increase of voting power to soldiers, seamen, and police, but we insist that whatever increased ability you give to these classes shall be extended to all, and with this I understand the Attorney General agrees, from the words of an Amendment he has given notice of to Clause 2, for he proposes to introduce the words "performance of any duty of his office or employment," striking out words which restrict and limit. That, no doubt, enlarges the scope of the Bill in the direction we desire on this side. The other Instructions are out of order, but it is important that uncertainties should be cleared up, so that when we get into Committee we shall meet with no difficulty in moving Amendments that shall give to all other persons equal facilities to those that are to be extended to soldiers, seamen, and police, or others under "contract of service." There is no mention of "contract of service" in the Amendment of the Attorney General to Clause 2; he says, "performance of any duty of his office or employment." If these words are embodied in the Bill it is only reasonable that facilities for ability to record the vote should be as much included as facilities to get on the Register. Our contention is that Wesleyan ministers, commercial travellers, railway guards, engineers, and others should have equal facilities for voting with the Army, Navy, and Police.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. Winterbotham.)

(11.30.) MR. CAUSTON

I second het Motion of my hon. Friend. I do it because I think this is a tinkering bit of piecemeal legislation, and I hold that the Government ought to have a further opportunity of considering this Bill. I can quite understand its being brought in by a private Member for private purposes; but I cannot understand the Government introducing this incomplete Bill, after the speech of the Solicitor General at Westminster a short time since, when he said— He hoped it might be in the power of the present Government to deal with the subject of registration. He had always said in the House of Commons and on the platform that when Parliament had made up its mind as to the particular class of persons who should enjoy the franchise, it was their duty to see that it was rendered as easy as possible for every individual belonging to that class to obtain and keep the privileges. I well know that on the question of registration the Government are divided. The Solicitor General speaks one way at Westminster, and almost at the same time, at Hull, the Chancellor of the Exchequer is saying that a Registration Bill "would mean a new distribution of political power once more tinkering with the Constitution," and "attempting once more to pick our Constitution to pieces." I repeat that this Bill is only tinkering with the subject, and I hope we shall be supported in the Motion for adjournment.

(11.33.) SIR R. WEBSTER

I hope my hon. Friend will not persist in that Motion. The hon. Member who has just spoken has not heard this Debate——


I have heard every word.


There have been from all sides of the House speeches in support of this Bill. I brought it in at the request of Revising Barristers from many parts of the country.


Not from the North.


I expressed my willingness to accept this Instruction, in consequence of a pledge given during the Debate on the Second Reading, and I hoped that it would meet the wishes of hon. Members.

(11.34.) MR. J. ROWLANDS (Finsbury, E.)

I support the Motion for adjournment. I differ from the statement of the Attorney General, that the Government are fulfilling the promise made on the Second Reading Debate. If my memory serves me aright, during that Debate the Government promised to allow the Bill to be so extended as to meet the case of all classes of society, and not merely those originally mentioned in it. Now, we are in somewhat of a difficulty. The Chairman of Committees has frankly told us that he should, in Committee, consider himself bound to the original clauses, and that he would not be able to admit the Amendments we desire to have accepted. If the Government agree to the adjournment they will be able to bring up an Instruction of their own, which will apply to persons who are at present debarred from voting by their calling on the day of polling, and who are in identically the same position as the soldier, the sailor, and the policeman.

(11.36.) MR. CONYBEARE

I am in favour of the Bill and of the Instruction, on the broad principle that I am in favour of universal suffrage. If it be extended to women, I shall be the better pleased. There seems, however, to be a considerable amount of doubt as to where we now stand in respect of this particular Instruction; and I think that, under the circumstances, the Attorney General can hardly resist the Motion for Adjournment. There is a great question as to how far we are committed, and as to whether it will be possible in Committee to introduce Amendments for the purpose of carrying into effect an Instruction which the Government have declared themselves to be in favour of accepting. If the Government accept the Motion for Adjournment, they will have time to consider the very reasonable protest which has been made on this side of the House. Of course, we know that the Tories would be the last Party in the world to do injustice to any class of people, and, therefore, I am not without hope that the Attorney General will accept this Motion. I am rather fogged about this business. I have listened attentively to what has gone on, especially with reference to one class of persons, I mean the Wesleyan ministers.


Order, order! The question before the House is the Motion for Adjournment.


I did not intend to travel beyond the limits of that Motion. I can only say that if the Government accept this Motion for Adjournment, they will be able to give consideration to the case of the special hardship on Wesleyan ministers. Wesleyans form a not inconsiderable portion of my constituents, and I do, in their interests, urge the Attorney General to accept this Motion. I should like the Attorney General to tell us frankly upon what reasonable ground this Resolution for Adjournment can possibly be resisted. Can the Solicitor General, with all his deepness, get up and pose as an arbitrator between the Chairman of Committees and yourself, Sir?


Order, order! The hon. Member is travelling beyond the scope of the Debate. The Question is that the Debate be now adjourned.

(11.42.) MR. WADDY

We are distinctly told—and we have to thank the Chairman of Committees for this information—that the particular class of persons whom we are desirous of bringing under the operation of this clause cannot be so dealt with by means of this Instruction, and that it will be necessary to alter the Instruction I, therefore, submit that it is desirable that the Debate should be adjourned. I have no desire to obstruct this Bill. ["Oh, oh!"] Hon. Members opposite cry, "Oh, oh!" Possibly they know a good deal more of my mind than I do myself, and certainly if one may judge from their votes they know more of it than they do of their own mind. We are anxious to accept this Bill, but we want to extend its scope, and that cannot be done unless this Motion for adjournment is agreed to. Its acceptance would enable the Government to formulate such an Instruction as would ensure to all classes the right which we wish them to have. I earnestly hope that my hon. Friend will press his Motion, if necessary, to a Division; and if the Government refuse to agree to it I warn them that it will make the subsequent progress of the Bill a great deal more difficult.

(11.45.) SIR E. CLARKE

It has been asked why the Government object to this Motion for an adjournment. It is because the Government are anxious that a practical step should be taken in the direction of pressing forward a Bill, with regard to which both sides of the House are united. No one can object to the Instruction which is now under discussion, and which has been brought in in consonance with the promises made during the Second Reading of the Debate.

(11.46.) MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN (Stirling, &c.)

I cannot altogether agree with what has fallen from, the hon. and learned Gentleman as to what occurred in the course of the Debate on the Motion for the Second Reading of this Bill. I do not remember that any desire was then expressed that the widening of the scope of this Bill should be confined to any particular class, as is done in this Instruction, which undoubtedly confines its operation to persons in particular circumstances, and persons who are absent from home under orders from other people.


Those are the only people who under the law can be disqualified.


That is a satisfactory definition if, as I understand the hon. and learned Member, no one is deprived of the opportunity of having his name placed on the Register in consequence of absence from home except those who are under orders from other people. Then I think we shall be satisfied, and if that is the legal decision no more is to be said on the matter. I am anxious that this matter should be clearly defined, and that all the persons whose cases have been referred to by my hon. Friend should be covered in this Instruction.

(11.50.) MR. T. H. BOLTON

I think an adjournment would afford the Government an opportunity of considering whether the scope of Clause 3 could not be enlarged, so as to give facilities to other classes of persons to vote. If the Government will bring in a clause of enlarged scope I am sure that it will receive full support from this side of the House. I appeal to the Government to give us this opportunity of enlarging the operation of the Bill. I am as anxious as anyone that the Bill should pass.

(11.52.) MR. STOREY

The Solicitor General seems to think that this Bill is supported by Members in all parts of the House. I can tell him frankly that, for my part, I do not agree with the Bill, at all. To use a northern vernacular, I think it is a silly little Bill.


Order, order! That is not the Question before the House.


I beg your pardon, Sir. I did not understand——


The Debate has been considerably strained. The Question really before the House is the Motion for adjournment.


Very well, Sir; I will address myself to that. We ask for an adjournment because Clause 3 does not enable us to secure for others than soldiers, sailors, and policemen these voting facilities. The Chairman of Committees insinuated, in a delicate manner, that if in Committee we propose this Amendment he would have to rule it out of order. That leads me to say we are placed between the devil and the deep sea. I do not use the word offensively. Of course, we may get rid of the former individual, but we cannot get rid of the deep sea, and I submit that this adjournment is necessary to enable us to get the Instruction amended. I do not stand so much upon the casa of Dissenting ministers, nor do I rest my argument upon the case of the railway guards. I ask the Attorney General whether, under his Instruction, a policeman at the door of the polling booth will be able——


Order, order! I have already told the hon. Gentleman that he is not in order. The Question before the House is the adjournment of the Debate.


I will not trouble the House further. I do not think it would be possible to amend the Instruction at this minute, and, therefore, I support the Motion for the Adjournment, so that the Government may itself draw up an amended Instruction which will cover the case of soldiers, sailors, and policemen, as well as the other classes to whom reference has been made.

(11.59.) DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)

I hope it will not be necessary to force this to a Division. Seeing that it is now just upon 12 o'clock, I think the Government might agree to this Motion.


Order, order! It is only one minute to 12, and as the Debate must stand adjourned at midnight, I think possibly it will be agreed on all sides that there is no necessity to divide upon this Question.

Question put, and agreed to.

Debate adjourned till Thursday.