§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON (Tower Hamlets, Poplar)
I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether, seeing that Morning Sittings have now become habitual, he will, if the sense of the House appears to be in favour of the proposal, move a new Standing Order, under which the House should rise not later than half-past 12 o'clock on days on which Morning Sittings are taken? I may say that all the Members with whom I have communicated are in favour of the suggestion in my question, except those who are in favour of rising at 12 o'clock.
§ MR. LENG (Dundee)
also had notice of the following question:—To ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether, in view of the growing feeling in favour of the curtailment of Debates and earlier closing of the Sittings of the House, he will consider the expediency of the Twelve o'clock Rule, now applied on Mondays and Thursdays, being extended to Tuesdays and Fridays, so that discussions may be terminated not later than midnight?
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
I observe with very considerable satisfaction, so far as I am individually concerned, the expression of a desire in all parts of the House for an earlier conclusion of our Debates on Tuesday and Friday evenings; but it will be obvious to the House that I could not make any proposal of the character suggested unless I was satisfied that it would receive almost unanimous support. I shall endeavour to satisfy myself on that point; and if I am assured that any proposal of (he kind will be cordially accepted by the House, I propose to put down a Motion, after 12 o'clock on some evening, because I could not devote important time at the disposal of the Government for the discussion of a question of that kind. If the House be disposed to entertain a Motion of that kind, I will make a proposal shortly after 12 o'clock; and I should rather be disposed to accept the suggestion of the hon. Member for Poplar, that we should fix half-past 12 o'clock as the time for the closing of Debate.[Loud cries of " Twelve!"] I will endeavour, with the 691 assistance of hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House, to satisfy myself as to the prevailing feeling in the House.
§ MR. DE LISLE (Leicestershire, Mid)
The right hon. Gentleman will, perhaps, answer my question: whether he will more a new Standing Order maintaining the Midnight Rule on days on which Morning Sittings are taken, limiting speeches at such Evening Sittings to the space of half-an-hour?
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
I have always been disinclined, and I remain disinclined, to put a limit on the speeches of hon. Gentlemen. I do not know how I could do so successfully; and I am satisfied that such a limitation, unless it was imposed by the sense of the House itself, would be one which would be absolutely futile, and would not be attended with satisfactory results.