HC Deb 01 June 1891 vol 353 cc1392-9

Perhaps the First Lord of the Treasury would now find it convenient to make a statement as to the general course of business?


I am not in a position to make a statement as to the general course of business, but I think I can satisfy the House as to what the business will be during the next 10 days or fortnight. As the House is aware, the Government are not under any immediate necessity to ask the House for further facilities, because the House has already ordered that the Land Purchase Bill shall have precedence of all other business on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. It is not the intention of the Government to ask for Wednesdays at present. Having regard to the fact that there are certain Bills promoted by hon. Gentlemen which are in various stages of progress, it would be perhaps a little hard upon them that we should take the one, two, or possibly three Wednesdays which would give them an opportunity of passing those Bills into law. There is one statement which I think I must renew, and that is that the Government feel that they are still bound by the engagement they made early in the Session to make every effort to bring about the Prorogation at the end of the month of July. In those efforts I am certain we shall have the assistance of the House to carry out that engagement, for it is one which concerns hon. Members in all parts of the House quite as much as it concerns the Government. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer stated the other day, in answer to the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, that I should to-day name the day on which we propose to take the First Reading of the new Education Bill. I had hoped that it might have been possible to get through the Report stage of the Land Purchase Bill before it became necessary to take up any other business, and I still remain of opinion that we should part substantially with that measure before we enter upon another important subject; but I recognise the just and legitimate desire on the part of the House to know definitely when the Education Bill is to be introduced, and the Government, therefore, propose to take the First Reading of that measure on Monday next. There is one other matter for which the right hon. Member for Derby has desired a day, and that is the Motion on the Manipur occurrences. I observe he has not renewed the notice of his Motion on the Paper.


That was pending your statement on the course of business.


I concluded that was so, but I think it would be convenient that it should appear on the Paper. Although I am not able to name a precise day, I think it should follow on the next day after the Report stage of the Land Purchase Bill has been disposed of, if that arrangement is satisfactory to him. I may simply mention that, as soon as it is necessary, I shall ask the House to continue the appropriation of the whole of the Tuesday and Friday Sittings for Government business. I think it will be felt that Tuesday and Friday evenings are no longer necessary for private Members' business, and, on the other hand, it will greatly facilitate the progress of the business of the House if we are able to enter upon Government Business at 3 o'clock and continue until 12 without interruption. Taking into account the Bills that have passed through the Standing Committees, and including the Scotch Private Bill Procedure Bill, and the Clergy Discipline Bill, which has come down from the House of Lords, and in which the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian has expressed a strong interest, I still retain the opinion that the measures before the House may be disposed of, that ample time for the consideration of Supply may be given, and yet we may secure the Prorogation before the end of July.

MR. F. S. POWELL (Wigan)

Is the First Lord of the Treasury able to make any announcement respecting the Factories Bill?


I cannot say anything with regard to that until the Motion as to Manipur is disposed of.

MR. ROBY (Lancashire, S.E., Eccles)

May I ask if the First Lord of the Treasury will kindly consider the possibility of not taking to-morrow week. I have succeeded in getting the first place on that day for a question of very great interest to hon. Members on both sides —i.e., the Mines (Eight Hours) Bill?


I have the greatest sympathy with the hon. Gentleman. I greatly desire that the eight hours mining question should be considered; but I am afraid that under the arrangements of the House, as they at present stand, next Tuesday will not be open to the hon. Member. If he will mention the matter again I will see what can be done.


When may we expect to have information regarding the manner in which the Government propose to allocate Scotland's share of the money, the English portion of which is to be given to free education? At present we know nothing.


I am not surprised that the hon. Member has no information with regard to a measure which is not to be introduced till Monday next.


Are we to understand that the Bill will provide for the allocation of Scotland's portion of the money?


There will be no provisions in the Education Bill itself as to Ireland and Scotland, but an indication of the intentions of the Government with respect to those countries will be given when the Bill is introduced.

MR. CAUSTON (Southwark, W.)

Will the Education Bill be circulated amongst Members the day after its introduction?


Yes, Sir.

MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)

When do the Government propose to deal with the Registration of Assurances Bill? Will they consent to refer it to a Select Committee?


Before that question is answered may I say that the arrangements the right hon. Gentleman has proposed seem to be satisfactory. I understand that as soon as the Report stage of the Land Bill is concluded he will give a day for the Manipur Debate. Will the right hon. Gentleman tell us what will be the business for the next fortnight? He said nothing as to beyond next Monday, and I suppose we may take it for granted that the rest of the week will be principally devoted to Supply. I also gathered from the right hon. Gentleman that if the Irish Land Bill Report is concluded this week, as I hope it may be, he would not stand in the way of the Motion of my hon. Friend the Member for Eccles. [Ministerial cries of "No."] I would rather take the answer from the right hon. Gentleman than from hon. Gentlemen who sit on the third Bench opposite. I understood that he would entertain a proposal not to take Tuesday away with reference to the Eight Hours Mining Bill, which, of course, is a question of great importance, and which interests everybody in and out of the House. At all events, I hope he will tell us what he expects to occupy the main part of next week.


I am very glad to hear from the right hon. Gentleman that he has reason to hope that the Land Purchase Bill will be through Report this week. That is a very satisfactory intimation from him, because I know it is an intimation in the fulfilment of which he has very considerable power. In the event of the Manipur Debate being taken at 3 o'clock on Friday, which is the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman—I can hardly suppose that the Land Purchase Bill will be through Report before Thursday—we should proceed with the Education Bill on Monday, and then with the Bills from the Standing Committees that have to go before the House of Lords, beginning with the Public Health Bill, followed by the Factories Bill. In answer to the question of the hon. Member for Eccles, I think I stated that if he would renew his request I would take care to give it consideration. I could not come to any engagement. I recognise that the matter is one of very great importance, and I have always said I should be exceedingly glad to have it discussed.


What about Supply? The right hon. Gentleman did not say a word about that.


I referred to it in my first statement. It is, however, a matter of great importance that we should get on with the Bills I have mentioned before we proceed with Supply. Any opportunity we may find to proceed with Supply will be availed of.


Perhaps the Attorney General for Ireland can now reply to my question?


I think that, having regard to the important questions which are raised by the Bill, the course my hon. Friend suggests would, perhaps, be a desirable one, but I cannot make any definite statement without consulting my right hon. Friends the First Lord of the Treasury and the Chief Secretary.


I am sorry the Chief Secretary has just left the House, because I wish to put to him two questions of some importance. In the absence of the right hon. Gentleman I will put the questions to the Attorney General for Ireland, who may, perhaps, be able to give me an answer. The first question has an important bearing on the time likely to be occupied by the Land Purchase Bill: it is, whether the Government intend to accept the Amendment which has gone through Committee, and now stands in the name of the hon. Member for South Derry (Mr. Lea)—an Amendment which revolutionises the constitution of the Land Commission and separates that subject from the Land Department Bill, because if that Amendment is accepted, I calculate it will add a week to the time occupied by the Report stage of the Bill. The second question relates to the long leaseholders clause of the Land Department (Ireland) Bill. I presume that after the statement of the First Lord of the Treasury I may conclude that the Land Department Bill is abandoned for the present Session. The Chief Secretary stated on Friday that if there were a general desire that the long leaseholders clause should be introduced as a separate measure he would consider the point. I have made inquiry, and I find that the introduction of the long leaseholders clause, as a separate Bill, would be favourably regarded by Irish Members on this side of the House. Under these circumstances, I beg to ask if the Government will introduce that clause as an independent Bill.


May I ask whether the First Lord of the Treasury is aware that in proposing a 3 o'clock Sitting for Tuesday he is virtually taking away all opportunity of discussing the system under which illiterate voters vote under the Ballot Act?


The hon. Member has overlooked the fact that the House has ordered a 3 o'clock Sitting for the consideration of the Land Purchase Bill, and, therefore, it is not my act. The question the hon. Gentleman desires to raise is an important one, and he will doubtless find an opportunity of raising it.

Mr. A. J.

BALFOUR having returned, Mr. SEXTON repeated his former question.


With regard to the second question put to me, if I find, from inquiries I am able to make from gentlemen in other parts of the House, that the proposed Bill which the hon. Member for South Belfast has suggested will meet with equal favour from them as the hon. Member assures me it will meet with from his friends, I, of course, would be glad to introduce it and carry out the pledge I have often given to the hon. Member for South Derry, that I would do what I could to settle this question. With regard to the first question raised by the hon. Gentleman, that again merely has reference to an Amendment on the Paper in the name of the hon. Member for South Derry. Of course, it is rather premature, until I have heard the Debate, to state positively the course the Government are going to pursue; but as the hon. Member has pointed out, the Amendment is substantially identical with a provision contained in my own Land Department Bill. I look upon it with favour, and, as at present advised, I think its addition to the present Bill would be a great improvement.


Considering the time of the Session, will the right hon. Gentleman consult with his Colleagues and see whether it is desirable to separate from the Land Department a provision which has nothing to do with the Land Purchase Bill?


I do not agree with the observations of the hon. Gentleman. I think it has a great deal to do with land purchase, and that it will greatly improve the working of the machinery by which land purchase is to be carried out.


Will the right hon. Gentleman consider the fact that the Amendment standing in the name of the Member for South Derry practically incorporates the first ten sections of the Land Department Bill?


Of course, it is perfectly true that the Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for South Derry does not cover the whole of the ground covered in the Land Department Bill; but it does embody a portion of those provisions, and, I think, a very valuable and important portion. It would not be possible for us to introduce the whole of the provisions on this subject contained in the Land Department Bill, but that portion of it that is embodied in the Amendment may with advantage be incorporated in the Land Purchase Bill.


Will the right hon. Gentleman, in dealing with this subject, be good enough to bear in mind that the hon. Member for South Derry, by withdrawing his Amendment from the consideration of the Committee, has deprived Members of the House of their constitutional right to discuss the matter in Committee?

MR. HENEAGE (Great Grimsby)

Will the Home Secretary state what course he intends to take with regard to the Juvenile Offenders Bill? Does he still propose to refer it to the Standing Committee on Law?


I think that would be the best and most convenient course, and if I have an opportunity I shall move to take it.

SIR G. CAMPBELL (Kirkcaldy, &c)

I should like to ask the Under Secretary for India whether the State trials in Manipur are likely to be terminated and reported on within the next few days, and in time for the Debate?


I must ask for notice of the question.