HC Deb 04 March 1890 vol 341 cc1779-82

Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Order for resuming the Adjourned Debate on the Special Commission (1888) Report have precedence, on every day for which it is set down, of all other Orders of the Day and Notices of Motion."—(Mr. William Henry Smith.)

(3.55.) MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W.)

The Irish Members had the good fortune to secure the second place for to-morrow for a Bill in reference to the salaries and pensions of National school teachers in Ireland. They had every hope that the Bill would be brought on, and that they would be able to discuss a question which has been hung up for very many years. The repeated promises which have been made to the teachers of Ireland have never been fulfilled, and the consequence is that these important public servants feel that they have been grievously ill-treated. We therefore feel that we are entitled on their behalf to press their claims this Session, and we shall undoubtedly be obliged to find an opportunity for ourselves, unless the right hon. Gentleman can find one for us. We are disposed to assent to the proposal he has now made; but, at the same time, we ask him to allow us a day for considering this important question, which, by a fortunate ballot, we had an opportunity of discussing.

(3.57.) MR. W. M'LAREN (Cheshire, Crewe)

My claim is, I think, even stronger than that of the hon. Member for West Belfast (Mr. Sexton). Great as is the grievance of the Irish National teachers, I think the political enfranchisement of women is a question of even greater importance. [Alaugh.] Some hon. Members may laugh; but it is to women a subject of the very highest importance. I had much rather that the Motion which stands first on the Paper to-night was not in my name, because I should have greater freedom in speaking upon the subject. I do not complain because it is my opportunity that is taken away, but because I feel the importance of the subject. I had intended to move an Amendment to the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman to except the Motion in reference to the extension of the Parliamentary franchise to women; but I have no wish to divide the House, and will not press it. But considering the increasing interest which is growing in the country upon this question, I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to promise that if I or any other Member again obtain a day for this Motion he will not take it from us a second time.

(4.0.) MR. WOODALL (Hanley)

I must commend my hon. Friend the Member for Crewe (Mr. M'Laren) for the discretion he has exercised in not pressing the Amendment; and I hope that his request for facilities for the discussion of the question on a future day will be conceded by the First Lord of the Treasury.

(4.1.) MR. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)

I wish to utter a feeble protest against the taking away of private Members' rights. As we have been accused of following the right hon. Gentleman's lead like sheep, it is only reasonable that we should say a word upon the subject. The House has now been in Session for 15 days, and six-and-a-half of those days have been devoted to Irish business. The English Members have not had their fair share of the time of the House. And what are the private Members asked to sacrifice their rights for to-night? Simply to hear long speeches from Queen's Counsel who have already addressed the Commission. If the question before the House was whether those Members who have been found guilty of offences should be punished or expelled from the House, then I could understand that the discussion might be a lengthened one; but at present the whole thing appears to me to be a sham fight, and I protest against the time of private Members being taken in order to carry it on.

(4.5.) SIR R. TEMPLE (Worcester, Evesham)

On this side of the House I wish to commend the appeal of the hon. Gentlemen opposite, namely, the hon. Members for Crewe and Hanley (Mr. M'Laren and Mr. Woodall) to the favourable consideration of the House.

(4.6.) MR. W. H. SMITH

I admit that there is a hardship in the case of the Motion of the hon. Member for Crewe (Mr. M'Laren); but I am afraid that the circumstances under which the House is placed by the length of the speeches to which my hon. Friend has referred form a difficulty which it is not in the power of any leader of the House to remedy. The circumstances of the case are known to the House, and I believe that the House desires to continue this Debate until it is concluded, as is the usual practice in Debates of this character. Therefore I am obliged to pass by what are called the rights of private Members, in order that this Debate may be taken up and finished as speedily as is consistent with the gravity of the question. With regard to the request of the hon. Member for Crewe for an undertaking that if he is fortunate enough to secure another day it would not be taken away from him, I do not think that any Minister would be justified in making an absolute promise of that kind, because he could not tell what might be the circumstances of the case at the time. I can only say that I am most anxious that the hon. Member should have his opportunity, and I may add that I will not wilfully or mischievously, so to speak, deprive him of it. With regard to what has fallen from the hon. Member for West Belfast (Mr. Sexton), I can only express my regret that I cannot give a positive undertaking in the absence of the Chief Secretary; but I admit that the question put to me by the hon. Member is a reasonable one. The hon. Member will have his opportunity of calling attention to the question on the Estimates, and if that is not satisfactory the Government will consider the matter.

(4.10.) MR. SEXTON

By the indulgence of the House, perhaps I may be allowed to say that one of my hon. Friends did propose to move an Amendment exempting the Irish National Teachers Bill from the operation of the Resolution. But we are unwilling to put the House to the trouble of a Division if the right hon. Gentleman will give us any hope that he will be able to give a day for the discussion of the Bill without compelling us to take it upon the Estimates

(4.12.) MR. W. H. SMITH

I am afraid that I am not in a position to add anything to what I have already said. I hope, however, that it may be possible to afford the hon. Member the opportunity he desires.

Question put, and agreed to.

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