§ *(4.10.) THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH,) Strand, Westminster
I rise to make the Motion which stands in my name with a view of giving the House an opportunity of winding up the Business of the Session within a reasonable time. On such an occasion as this it is usual to state the measures which the Government propose to proceed with, and which they propose to abandon. There is always a necessity imposed upon a Minister who stands in my place to announce the abandonment of certain measures, in themselves useful and most desirable, which yet cannot be prosecuted with any hope of being passed in a reasonable time. The Government have felt that the House has a right to expect that the Session shall close early, having regard to the fact that Parliament was called together at a much earlier period than usual. We have, therefore, a stronger reason for abandoning some measures which we deeply regret, and most of which we hope will be introduced at an earlier period next Session. The House has passed through a period of labour extremely severe and prolonged. Thirty-one days passed in the Committee and on the Report of the Land Purchase Bill account for a large portion of the time which the Government had at their disposal. But the measure is one of such great importance that I do not think the House itself will regret the labour and the time which have been bestowed in bringing it to its present stage. The course I propose to take on this occasion is to indicate the measures which the Government propose to persevere with. In the first place, there is the Education Bill, which the House is inclined to accept, and which I believe both sides of the House desire to pass into law. I will now proceed to invite the attention of the House to the Bills dealt with by the Standing Committees, or almost dealt with, which we desire to pass—the Factories and Workshops Bill, the Public Health Bill, the Penal Servitude Bill, and one or two measures of a similar character. 413 I apologise to the House for connecting' penal servitude with measures dealt with by the Standing Committees, but I think it will be admitted that the labours of the Standing Committees of this House are of a very onerous character, and if not penal servitude itself they are of such severity as to deserve acknowledgment. There are important measures, measures which have been accepted by both sides of the House and are wholly desirable in the public interest—I refer to Bills like the Factories Bill, which, although difference of opinion may exist with regard to particular provisions, or to the absence of particular provisions, the public would desire to see passed, and the Stamp Consolidation Bill—a measure for consolidating the law of stamps. It is not yet reported and is not now on the Order Paper, but the Chairman of the Committee will confirm me when I say that it is a Bill to simplify and explain the law of stamps with accuracy and intelligence, and that it is a measure which is very much desired by all persons having transactions in which stamps are used, as at present, I believe, there is great difficulty in ascertaining what the law is. [An hon. MEMBER: What about the Industrial Assurance Bill?] That is a measure accepted generally by the House. It is one of those economical and interesting measures which we should wish to pass, but which we could not press at the expense of the consumption of public time. I have referred now to the principal measures which the Government think it necessary to pass in the course of the present Session. There is one Bill not yet introduced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer—a Bill to authorise the expenditure of a sum of money provided in the Budget for the re-habilitation of the coinage. That is not a contentious measure, and will probably be accepted by the House. There is also a Bill which the Chief Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant has undertaken to introduce with regard to leaseholders. That also is a measure which may be carried through after 12 o'clock at night. There are also the Local Registration of Title (Ireland) Bill and a Bill to be introduced to-day by my right hon. Friend the Postmaster General with reference to the Post Office. It is a measure simply to repeal some restrictions on the Post 414 Office, such as the power of re-addressing letters without charge, which at the present moment inconvenience the public, and which I hope may be accepted generally. But it is not a measure which we shall press against the feeling of the House. I will now refer to measures as to which any doubt or difficulty may exist. I regret to have to admit that it is no longer possible to pass the Private Bill Procedure (Scotland) Bill. That measure stands for consideration in Committee with 10 pages of Amendments against it. We have done our best to meet the views of hon. Members opposite, and we had hoped that this was a measure which would have been accepted by the House as being strongly desired, and which ought to be passed into law; but we have failed to obtain the assistance which we had hoped from hon. Members on the other side, and, therefore, having regard to the determined opposition which is given to that measure, we do not feel that we can ask the House to expend the time at this period of the Session necessary to its being passed into law. We do regard it, however, as a measure which ought to be accepted by the House and the country, and we shall reintroduce it as early as possible next year. I am afraid also that the Fishery Board (Scotland) Bill cannot be proceeded with on the present occasion, because I find that there are indications of objection to it from different parts of the House. The next Bill is the Public Trustee Bill. We have no doubt whatever that a great necessity exists for a measure of this kind, that it is a measure which the House in principle ought to accept without hesitation. I find that it is blocked by five or six hon. Members on both sides of the House, and there is thus an indication of opposition, which will require some time to dispose of. It is a measure which undoubtedly ought to be re-introduced at the earliest possible period and passed into law. The next Bill on the Paper which we propose to abandon is the Indian Councils Act Amendment Bill, which undoubtedly requires time for consideration. I am afraid, however, that there is no chance of obtaining sufficient time in the course of the present Session, and we must therefore abandon it. There are some other measures, like the Regimental 415 Debts Consolidation Bill, a useful Bill, which may be postponed. The right hon. Member for Wolverhampton has placed a notice of opposition to the Statute Law Revision Bill. Measures of this kind have hitherto been proceeded with as Bills which stand apart from the arena of Party politics, and I believe that the right hon. Gentleman himself has recognised that fact. I cannot doubt, therefore, that he has some strong reason for opposing the measure which he will probably state to the House in order to justify our abandonment of that Bill. It is clear, I think, that we cannot debate in this House such a Bill with advantage, and in these circumstances I shall wait to hear what the right hon. Gentleman has to say before stating the ultimate decision of the Government, and in order to justify the House in abandoning what generally appears to be a great improvement in the simplification and codification of our law. There is another Bill as to which also I regret to hear that a considerable amount of opposition exists—that is, the Evidence Bill. I am informed with reference to that measure that lawyers of all classes, opinions, and ranks believe that this measure is a most desirable one. On the other hand, I am told that it is strenuously opposed, and if that is the case at this period of the Session the responsibility for delay in effecting a great improvement in the law—an improvement greatly desired by all who wish to exercise judicial duties and to perfect judicial functions—must rest with those who are postponing a great public improvement. I have now practically exhausted the Order Paper as it stands; but there is another Bill which I desire to hold in reserve—the Clergy Discipline Bill. It is a measure in which the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian (Mr. W. E. Gladstone) takes a great personal interest. I have been in comumnication with him on the subject, and until he has returned to the House, which I hope may be on an early date, I should not be justified in making any arrangement with regard to it; but I entertain the opinion that it is a measure which ought to be passed without any delay. We propose to abandon this Session the Summary Jurisdiction (Youthful Offenders) Bill. I have heard it stated that opposition will be offered and remonstrance made with reference to 416 the proposal I now make as to Wednesdays. I draw the attention of the House to the fact that in the present state of the Order Paper there is not, in my judgment, the most remote chance of any one of the Bills which now stand for Wednesday being passed into law. They are of such a character, standing one behind the other, that it is almost impossible for any one of them to be passed. It, therefore, comes to this—that, if at the request of hon. Gentlemen I were to sacrifice Wednesdays for Private Business, no Bill belonging to a private Member could be advanced so as to pass through all its stages. I make this statement in order to anticipate some of the objections which I have no doubt will be made; but hon. Members and right hon. Members are capable of consulting the Order Paper for themselves.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That, for the remainder of the Session, Government Business, whether Orders of the Day or Notices of Motion, have precedence on Tuesday and Wednesday; and that the House do meet at Three o'clock on Tuesday and Friday. That Standing Order No. 11 be suspended, and that the provisions of Standing Order No. 56 be extended to the other days of the week."—(Mr. William Henry Smith.)
§ *(4.27.) MR. HENEAGE (Great Grimsby)
I beg to move as an Amendment to omit Wednesdays from the Motion. My reason for doing so is that I consider it a direct violation of the understanding entered into with the Government before Whitsuntide for forwarding the Land Purchase Bill. It will be in the recollection of the House that on the 30th of April the First Lord of the Treasury moved a Resolution asking for the whole of the time of the House before Whitsuntide with the exception of one Wednesday, and he was granted the whole time of the House, including all the Wednesdays, on the distinct understanding that he recognised the rights of private Mem- 417 bers' Bills in progress after Whitsuntide. In the first speech made on that occasion by the First Lord of the Treasury the right hon. Gentlman said—After Whitsuntide there are Bills of private Members which would be in Progress, and under Standing Order 12, these Bills would be entitled to precedence before any other Orders: but it would be a strong measure on my part to deprive those Bills of the position they have obtained until absolute necessity compels me to do so; it would be held to be exercising the rights of the majority rather severely upon hon. Gentlemen who had charge of other Bills; and, therefore,"—I call special attention to these words—it is not the intention of the Government to take the first three or four Wednesdays after Whitsuntide so far as Bills in Progress are concerned. … The first three or four Wednesdays after Whitsuntide will not be given until fair progress has been made with the Bills which are in Committee.This was not the only declaration made upon that occasion. The right hon. Chairman of Committees also said—With regard to Bills which have been considered before Whitsuntide, which have passed a Second Heading and which are set down for Progress after Whitsuntide, if the opportunity of further progress is taken away, we shall put a stop to all legislation by private Members and make such legislation before Whitsuntide a farce.My right hon. Friend the Member for Bury (Sir H. James) followed, and referring to the Marriage with a Deceased Wife's Sister and Hitting of Machinery Bills, my right hon. Friend said—Those Bills having been read a second time, have vested interests, and ought to be dealt with practically by the House.Practically, before Whitsuntide the Government took the whole of the time of private Members, and now, after only two Wednesdays since Whitsuntide, they proposed to take the whole of the remaining time. I entirely agree with the Chairman of Committees that it is a farce for hon. Members to take the trouble to come down here and ballot for Bills; and having been successful and got Members to support them, and having secured the Second Reading of their Bills, to be told that the Committee stages cannot be taken because the Goverment want the whole time of the House. I have moved this Amendment because I object in principle to the Government taking Wednesdays. I object, moreover, to their taking Wednesdays after the distinct statement of the leader 418 of the House. But I wish to deal with perfect fairness with the right hon. Gentleman. I have looked at the Order Book, and I find there are only two Private Bills which have made any progress since Whitsuntide, and both these measures are almost through Committee. There is the Rating of Machinery Bill, which will not take more than another hour [Ministerial Cries of "Oh"], and there is the Deceased Wife's Sister Bill, which I am quite sure will not take more than half an hour if it has fair play. [Cries of"Oh."] If precedence was given for these Bills, it would not be in the interest of half a dozen obstructionists to pursue dilatory tactics, for they would know that the measures would pass in spite of their opposition; and it would be to the interest of the Government to facilitate Progress in order that they might have more time for themselves. Under such circumstances, it would be expected that the House would not see, as was seen last Wednesday, one Minister suggesting to report Progress after he had been in the House nine minutes, and another Minister making two speeches on one Amendment, one in contradiction of the other. These two Bills would for all their stages only require some five hours in the three Wednesdays up to the 1st of July, and the Government would have the remainder of the time on those days for their own business—from 10 to 12 working hours. If they can get that time, and at the same time, by making a concession, avoid creating sore feeling, the work of the Session will proceed much more smoothly. I appeal to the Government to make some exception in favour of the two Bills I have mentioned; and if they will consent to do so, I shall be glad to withdraw the Amendment which I now move.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out the words "and Wednesday."—(Mr. Heneage.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words and Wednesday' stand part of the Question."
§ *(4.35.) MR. T. H. BOLTON (St. Pancras, N.)
I do not suppose anything I can say by way of appeal to the right hon. Gentleman will have any effect on him, for he has evidently made up his mind that it is necessary that he should 419 have Wednesdays for Government Business during the remainder of the Session. I cannot, however, help protesting against the course he is pursuing. I cordially echo the observations of the right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken, that the proposal of the First Lord of the Treasury involves a breach of faith to private Members. The right hon. Gentleman certainly did promise private Members three or four Wednesdays after the Whitsuntide holidays. One of those Wednesdays has been sacrificed by the hon. Members who prefer horse-racing to legislating. It is true the right hon. Gentleman did not vote in the Division, which resulted in that Wednesday being sacrificed, but those who brought forward the Motion on that occasion were supported by nearly all the Members of the Government. I think, therefore, that the right hon. Gentleman who has moved the Amendment on the present occasion was perfectly justified in excluding that Wednesday from the "three or four" which were promised to private Members by the First Lord of the Treasury. Of the "three" Wednesdays there is still one to come, namely, next Wednesday; and I had even hoped that we should get a fourth, so that all important private Members' business might have been disposed of. I am in charge of the Conveyancing and Law of Property Amendment Bill, a measure which is supported on both sides of the House, and which has practically the first place next Wednesday. I am in a position to state that those hon. Members who have put down Amendments have no desire to defeat the Bill. It is quite possible, therefore, to pass this Bill, which is, in reality, a Bill to give additional security to leaseholds, and which affects many millions of pounds' worth of property in London, and, therefore, the statement of the right hon. Gentleman that if any more Wednesdays were left to private Members it would be impossible for them to pass their Bills does not apply in this case. And there is no reason why the Rating of Machinery Bill, and possibly the Marriage with a Deceased Wife's Sister Bill, should not be passed. But there is a much larger question behind this. If Wednesdays after Whitsuntide are always to be taken by Government, private 420 Members' legislation becomes a farce, and one of the greatest inducements to practical men to enter the House is removed. Some come here with the idea of being able to do a little practical legislation. [Laughter.] Yes; and before the 12 o'clock Rule was adopted it was possible to do it. I myself succeeded one year in passing a Bill dealing with the difficult subject of tithes owing to there being no 12 o'clock Rule. Under the existing Rules, however, it seems impossible for a private Member to do anything in the shape of legislation. Well, if it is to be understood that there is to be no legislation proceeding from private Members, a very serious injury will be inflicted on the ability of Parliament to attend to the requirements of the people. It is a matter of great importance to private Members that their right to Wednesdays shall be preserved to them, and I therefore hope the Amendment will be pressed to a Division.
§ (4.44.) MR. CUNNINGHAME GRAHAM (Lanark, N.W.)
I desire to say a few words in support of the Amendment; but not because I am in any way interested in these two Bills. I am a supporter of the Marriage with a Deceased Wife's Sister Bill, and a violent opponent of the other measure, which, in my opinion, has been introduced to exempt machinery from rating. The reason I rise is to make my protest—I know it will be a vain one, but the House will admit that much of the legislation which has been passed in this House has been pushed on by private Members, whom I may describe as Quixotes—against the time of the House being taken before there has been an opportunity of considering the one great question which occupies the minds of the working classes to-day. While all Parties profess a desire to relieve labour of some of its burdens, it remains that such important Bills as that referring to an eight hours' day in mines and that promoted by the Trade Union Congress are not to be discussed at all. Having regard to the demonstrations in favour of an eight hours' day which have been held in every civilised country, it is monstrous that it is impossible to obtain a discussion in the House of Commons on the only question which interests the working classes in the smallest degree. How 421 can the Tithes Bill, the Deceased Wife's Sister Bill, and the thousand and one petty measures referred to by the right hon. Gentleman interest men who have to bring up wives and families on "sixteen bob" a week? I hope some of the Labour Representatives in the House will support me in protesting against the Session being brought to a close without a discussion on the Eight Hours' Bill. The working classes will have the idea that we interest ourselves here with matters above their comprehension, ane do not care to deal with questions of interest to them. In France, in Germany, and even in reactionary Spain, there has been legislation in favour of the working classes, and yet there is not a single item in the programme of the Government which will lighten the lot of the working man. The Government have even neglected to push forward their Employers' Liability Bill.
§ (4.52.) MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
Whenever this Motion is made—as it generally is made towards the end of the Session—every Member desires that his own pet lamb shall be spared. I am aware that private Members do not get a sufficient number of days, but I do not see why an exception should be made in favour of one private Member more than another. The last speaker suggested that the Government have failed in their duty because they have not brought forward measures with respect to labour. No doubt the Government have failed in their duty, but Members on this side of the House are in a minority, and although they may propose Resolutions they will certainly be voted down. While I agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Great Grimsby that it is desirable to pass the Deceased Wife's Sister Bill this year, I doubt very much whether we could do so, as many hon. Gentlemen opposite are as fanatically opposed to that measure as they are to Home Rule. ["Hear, hear!"] There is a proof of it. The First Lord of the Treasury has made an appeal ad misericordiam. The right hon. Gentleman recognises that he has made a great muddle of Public Business, and now he implores the House to get him out of the mess. Now, if this were the right hon. Gentleman's first fault I should take a friendly view of the 422 matter; but this has occurred every single Session the right hon. Gentleman has been leader of the House. Every Session we have had the Estimates put off until the end of the Session, although a promise has always been made to the House at the beginning of the Session that full time would be given for the discussion of the Estimates. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to imply that it was to a certain extent our fault—our having been 31 days in Committee and Report on the Land Bill. But the right hon. Gentleman surely remembers that 54 days were expended on the part of the Conservative Party when in Opposition on the Land Bill of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian. What has occurred during the present Session? We met in November and passed the Second Reading of the Tithes Bill and the Land Bill. We were under the impression that the Land Bill was the important Bill, and that the Tithes Bill stood second to it, yet we were first called upon to deal with the Tithes Bill, and it was not until the 14th April that any real attempt was made to deal with the principal Bill of the Session. I cannot help thinking that the right hon. Gentleman is not sufficiently firm with his Colleagues, and does not put his foot down enough in the Cabinet. There seems to be no one in the Cabinet who can stop any Minister of the Crown who wants to push forward his own particular Bill. That is at the bottom of the difficulty which the right hon. Gentleman has got into. There is, however, something more than mere stupidity and muddling. As Dr. Johnson once said, "This sort of stupidity is not natural." My own opinion is that Ministers are determined that, as far as they can prevent it, the House shall have no control over the public Estimates. And the reason for that is not so much that they know a large number of questions may be raised on the Estimates, as the tenderness they feel for their Liberal-Unionist friends, who might be compelled to vote against them if the questions were raised. For three years the Estimates have been put off; for three years the House has had no control over the public Expenditure. Hence my first impulse is to oppose the Motion of the right hen. Gentleman. But I cannot help thinking that the right hon 423 Gentleman and his friends want a loophole through which to escape from passing the Education Bill this Session. They want to put it off till next Session, for many among them hope that then it would never re-appear. I do not think we ought to help them. We ought rather to make sacrifices in order not to give them the slightest chance of delaying the measure. No doubt it is bitter enough to many supporters of the Government to have to swallow their election pledges, especially when they find from the recent bye - elections that they have gained no votes by their sacrifice of principle. Members on the Opposition side have always desired free education, and have always urged it. Now we have forced it upon the Government. And I think we ought not to let the opportunity go. Although I feel I am making a great sacrifice, I personally shall not oppose the proposal of the First Lord of the Treasury, on the understanding that the Education Bill is to be pushed forward de die in diem, and that, come what may, Parliament shall not be prorogued till the Bill has passed through this House. Under these circumstances I shall vote for the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman.
§ *(455.) MR. W. BOWEN ROWLANDS (Cardiganshire)
I think I am one of the Members who have a special right to complain that the measure of which I was in charge will be prevented from passing during this Session. The fault certainly has not been mine. That Bill was the Local Veto Bill for Wales, a most important measure for Wales, ardently desired by the people of that country. It was to have boon taken first on Wednesday after Whitsuntide, and if a large majority of the supporters and Members of the Government had not voted for the unnecessary adjournment over the Derby Day, I believe that Bill would have passed successfully through Committee. The present proposal comes with a bad grace from the Government, many Members of which went into the Lobby in favour of the Derby Day adjournment, and although I fear that my protest will be unavailing, I desire to make it as distinct and as emphatic as possible.
§ *MR. H. S. WRIGHT (Nottingham, S.)
I wish to draw the atten-424 tion of the Government to the Rating of Machinery Bill. I admit it would be quite impossible to pass the Rating of Machinery Bill this Session unless the Government take it in hand. In that event, I think it might be got through in about an hour, because our opponents constitute a very small minority. The Government, by taking the course I suggest, would earn the gratitude of a large body of the electors.
(4.58.) MR. R. T. REID&c.) (Dumfries,
I shall certainly support the Amendment of my right hon. Friend. I do not share the apprehension of my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton as to the passing of the Free Education Bill, because the First Lord has put it in the foremost position, and if there were the utmost desire to delay it, I think it would be absolutely impossible for the Government to avoid passing it this Session. But I want to point out that, if the Government take all the Wednesdays after Whitsuntide, there will' be and absolute end to private Members' enterprise in regard to legislation. The Deceased Wife's Sister Bill is a perfectly exceptional case. The majorities were enormously large on Wednesday last, and the Amendments proposed were frivolous in the extreme, and supported by arguments equally frivolous and self-contradictory. Moreover, a Debate was got up among the opponents of the measure, while its supporters remained comparatively silent.
MR. A. STAVELEY HILL (Staffordshire, Kingswinford)
With regard to the Rating of Machinery Bill I wish to remind ray hon. Friend the Member for South Nottingham that the second reading was only obtained by stealing a march upon the House. The consideration of the Bill will, I fear, take a very considerable time—much more than the half-hour he suggests.
§ (5.1.) SIR W. HARCOURT (Derby)
I suppose that what the House has now to consider is what are we to do under existing circumstances. If we inquire into the cause of the present state of things there will be a good deal to be said. No doubt as things stand at present a great sacrifice is required, not only of Government measures, but also of many valuable measures that are in the hands of private Members. I cannot recollect a Session in which there were 425 more valuable measures in the bands of private Members. For instance, the consideration of labour questions like the Eight Hours Bill is shut out by the demand of the Government. In my opinion the Session has been wrecked by the Tithes Bill. That measure was put forward and everything was sacrificed to it at the commencement of the Session. I think the Local Veto Bill of my hon. Friend the Member for Cardiganshire would have been a more valuable gift to Wales, but that has been sacrificed to the Tithes Bill and the Derby Bay. These are things very much to be regretted. But in the situation in which we are placed we have to determine what we are to do, and the first thing we are determined, I think, not to do, is ever again to have a November Session. We are also determined not to extend the present Session inordinately. The Government propose to take all the time of private Members, and I suppose that cannot now be helped, however much it may be regretted. The Government have also mentioned what they intend to do. First and foremost, there is the Education Bill. There again, I think, the House has been placed in a position in which it ought not to have been placed. We ought not to have been called upon in the middle of June for the first time to consider that important measure. Why was not the question of free education given at least as good a position as tithe in Wales? Why was it not introduced earlier in the Session? If it had been there might have been no need to demand these sacrifices from private Members. The measure might already have been passed, and the House would not have been called upon to postpone Supply. It does not seem as if we shall get into Supply before July, and that is a situation which nobody can defend. I have never looked upon Supply as having for its principal object the cutting down of the figures of the Estimates, but the great importance of Supply is that it affords the only opportunity the House of Commons has of exercising its control over the Executive Government of the country. That is the legitimate and proper object of Supply, and to delay the period at which discussion can take place upon it is to withdraw from the House of Commons one of its principal functions; yet we are forced into this 426 position by the propounding of the Education Bill in the middle of June. There is not time now to deal both with Supply and with a measure like the Education Bill, and in the circumstances I do not see that we can do otherwise than comply with the demand made upon us. In order that there may be no misunderstanding, I wish just to mention what I gather to be the declaration of the right hon. Gentleman. I understand him to say that he will proceed only with the Customs and Inland Revenue Bill, and the Public Health (London) Bill, the Penal Servitude Bill, the County Councils Bill, the Factory and Workshops Bill, the Local Registration (Ireland) Bill, the Consolidated Stamps Bill, the Industrial Assurances Bill, the Gold Coinage Bill, and, of course, the Education Bill. I wish to understand whether that is a correct catalogue, and that no other Bills, originating either in this House or in the House of Lords, can be added to it.
§ *(5.10.) MR. W. H. SMITH
I reply to the appeal made to me. I may say that the right hon. Gentleman has given a correct catalogue, with this reservation—that, as I have previously stated, there is a Clergy Discipline Bill, in regard to which I have been in communication with the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lothian, who takes a great interest in it. I will, however, refer to that on a later clay. The right hon. Gentleman will also be aware that occasionally there are purely departmental Bills which it may be necessary to pass, but there is no intention whatever on the part of the Government of pressing any measure to which objection is taken beyond the Bills stated by the right hon. Gentleman. The right hon. Gentleman has just made a speech which seems to me an accurate review of the course taken by the late Government in 1883–84–85. I quite agree that Supply is a very important function, and one to which serious attention ought to be given. Already a considerable amount of time has been given to Supply. I think we have given about 30 days to it. I do not mean to say that that is a sufficient appropriation of time, but it is the best arrangement I can make. Even now I believe that Supply will be dealt with at a much earlier period in this Session than in any Session during the 427 last 10 years. The right hon. Gentleman has referred to the sacrifice of the valuable measures in charge of private Members. No doubt there are many valuable measures in the hands of private Members that will have to be sacrificed, but there are also valuable measures of the Government that will have to go. It would be a singular mistake to say that no private Members' Bills have been passed in the present Session. Many have been passed with the assistance of the Government, quite as many as in any Session of the present Parliament, and that is saying a good deal.
§ *MR. W. H. SMITH
Not exactly unopposed Bills, but Bills which the Government thought right to assist, and which I hope will not on that account be considered less valuable. As the right hon. Gentleman has fairly stated, there is an objection to the inclusion of Wednesdays in the Motion. On the Paper for next Wednesday the Possession of Game Bill stands first. Probably, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby will take as much interest in that Bill as he did in the Hares Bill, on which Bill he spoke for nearly three-quarters of an hour. I am quite sure that neither the Possession of Game Bill nor the Conveyance and Law of Property Bill, which stands second on the Paper, nor the Bating of Machinery Bill, which stands third, will have any chance of getting through Committee next Wednesday; and that unfortunate bantling which is opposed by the Member for Labouchere—I beg pardon if I am out of order, although, perhaps, I have correctly described the hon. Member—is in the same position. I refer to the measure permitting men to marry the sisters of deceased wives. I ask the House whether, in these circumstances, there is the least chance of that Bill being reached on Wednesday? On June 24 there is the Hares Bill, in which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Derby takes so much interest. I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will be equal to the task he performed last year, and, therefore, that Bill will probably not pass through Committee. If that is so, what will become of the Deceased Wife's Sister Bill, which will stand fifth in order? There is no chance that any 428 of these Bills will pass, and it would simply be a waste of public time to attempt to deal with them. The proper duty of the House is to devote the time which remains to the consideration of Supply and to the Government measures to which I have alluded. I hope the House will consider that in making these proposals the Government have no desire to do any violence to the interests of private Members. I have shown that those interests are not affected by the Motion, and that it is to the advantage of the House that public business shall be discharged. I therefore invite the House to accept the proposal.
§ *(5.20.) MR. H. H. FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)
As the right hon. Gentleman made a personal allusion to my action on one particular measure, I wish to assure him and the House that there is nothing of a Party or an obstructive character in my opposition to the Statute Law Revision Bill. So long as these Bills were confined to Statutes which are obsolete no one in the House more cordially supported such legislation than I did; but the Statute Law Revision Committee are now embarking upon a new branch of procedure, and are proposing to repeal portions of living law which they think to be unnecessary. Before a measure of that sort is passed, the House should have an opportunity of knowing, in the course of a Second Reading Debate, what it proposes, and my object in putting down an Amendment is to explain why I object to this class of legislation. A great deal of admirable work has been done by the Committee, but some of its work is not admirable, for they have ventured to repeal portions of the Act of Settlement, the Reform, and other historic Acts, which if the House had known what they were doing would have objected to. In support of my attitude, I may quote the words of the Prime Minister in a recent speech referring to the unfortunate difficulty between this country and the Newfoundland Legislature. Lord Salisbury, in that speech, said—I do not know what the noble Lord (Lord Thring) has been told, bat, as far as report reaches us, it goes to support the law, in which the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack agrees, that Treaty obligation, old or new, is no part of the municipal law of the land. That is the difficulty under which we are, and under 429 which we have been for a long time, placed, There were two Acts in existence giving that power; one of them, unfortunately, was dropped—the Act of 1834; and the other was swept away in one of those Statutes of revision of the law which the noble and learned Lord himself (Lord Thring) has showered upon parliament; and it is largely owing to that that the difficulty into which we have fallen has arisen.That is my justification for opposing the Second Reading' of this Bill.
§ *(5.22.) MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)
The speech just delivered by my right hon. Friend makes it necessary for me to reply, as I am the only member of the Statute Law Revision Committee who sits in this House. I wish to correct the statement repeated by him from Lord Salisbury. It was made in complete ignorance of the facts, and was corrected by Lord Thring in a letter to the Times a day or two after Lord Salisbury's speech was delivered. The Statutes, or parts of Statutes, with which this Statute Law Revision Bill deals are wholly obsolete; that is to say, they are enactments which under no circumstances can now take effect. They are not portions of the living law. The Bill has come from the House of Lords, where it has been approved by all our highest legal authorities. In this House, in accordance with an arrangement which was arrived at last year, with the approval of my right hon. Friend, it would have been referred to a Select Committee, which was to include, besides the hon. Member for one of the divisions of London, at whose instance the enterprise of re-publishing the Statutes in a cheap form has been entered upon, such eminent lawyers as the hon. Member for East Fife, the hon. Member for North Longford, and the hon. and learned Members for Harrow and Somerset, while the chair was to be taken by the Solicitor General. That Committee last year examined a similar Bill with the most minute care, and the House unanimously adopted its recommendations. My right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton might have been put on this Select Committee, but, as he has not chosen to accept a place on it, he ought not to come here and express distrust of what the Committee has done. It is very much to be regretted that a Member, however eminent, who stands alone, having, 430 so far as I know, no support in any quarter of the House, should take the course of stopping the whole progress of a most important and useful scheme of legal reform, which has been going on for a number of years with general approval. I assume that my right hon. Friend, with his very great ability and high conscientiousness, has good reason for his conduct, but I have failed to discover what the reason is.
§ (5.25.) MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN (Birmingham, W.)
I do not rise to take part in the interesting discussion which has arisen on this Bench. I rise to say that after the very clear statement of the First Lord of the Treasury, I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that I cannot support the Amendment. My right hon. Friend's purpose has been sufficiently answered by the discussion, and he might withdraw the Amendment. At the same time, I want to point out that the position of the Government is really a triumph for obstruction, and a stimulus to the obstruction of private Members' Bills. If this is to be done without protest, private Members may take it for granted that in future they will not have the least chance of getting a contested Bill through the House. I thought it was the intention of the House, in giving precedence to private Members' Bills in the order of the stages at which they had arrived, that the opinion of the House should be taken upon those Bills. That is exactly what the promoters of the Deceased Wife's Sister Bill have been unable to get. There is a large majority in favour of the Bill, while those who oppose it are a very small minority. The opposition to the Bill is undoubtedly obstruction of a most flagrant kind, and I am afraid we must confess it has been triumphant. I hope, however, that some means will be devised for carrying out the intentions of the House, and giving some advantage to those private Members who get Bills through Second Reading in the early part of the Session.
§ *(5.28.) COLONEL MAKINS (Essex, S.E.)
I should like to occupy a moment in describing why I support the Motion of the First Lord of the Treasury. I do so because I have no sympathy with the ambitious private Member, and especially one who attacks a 431 great social and religious question, and by making it the subject of a Private Bill reduces it to the level of an Ancient Monuments Bill, a Hares and Rabbits, or even an Artificial Manures Bill. I hold that if the question of marriage with a deceased wife's sister is to be considered at all, it ought to be dealt with as part of a general marriage law in a Bill introduced by the Government, and not in a fragmentary Bill brought forward by a private Member. Such a Bill ought certainly not to be forced through by an unwarrantable use of the Closure, such as was witnessed last Wednesday.
§ MR. BARRAN (York, W.R., Otley)
I rise to order, Sir. I wish to ask whether the language of the hon. Member is in order?
§ *MR. SPEAKER
To speak of the unwarrantable use of the Closure is, I think, out of order. The hon. Member must recollect that the Closure is applied by the action of the House.
§ *COLONEL MAKINS
I intended, Sir, to refer only to the act of moving the Closure, but I beg to withdraw the expression, which was not meant to be disrespectful. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Great Grimbsy is only one of many who have been disappointed in connection with this question; many others have taken it up, found public feeling so strong that they have been compelled reluctantly to abandon their efforts to pass the Bill.
§ *(5.30.) MR. MORTON (Peterborough)
I do not think hon. Gentlemen opposite ought to complain about the Closure considering how it has been used by his side during the last two years. I did not, however, rise to speak about the Closure. My object is to protest against the attempt to take away our Wednesdays. I am very anxious to see the Education Bill passed this Session, and I am quite willing to stop here as long as may be necessary for the purpose of passing it. At the same time, as a protest against depriving the private Members of their rights and privileges, I shall vote for the Amendment. I quite agree with the hon. Member for Lanarkshire that the eight hours question ought to be considered, because that question can never be properly settled until it is debated, inside as well as outside this House. I have to complain of 432 the way in which the Government have conducted business during the present Session. I say distinctly that if they had conducted their own business properly there would have been no occasion to take Wednesdays away from private Members. It will be remembered that one of the Irish Members (Mr. Sexton) proposed that there should be no Whitsuntide Holidays, and that the House should sit on the four days devoted to those holidays, in order to finish the Irish Bill. The Government refused to accept that proposal, although Members on this side of the House were willing to continue at work. Then the Government connived at taking away the Derby Day from those who wished to work. I do not say they wanted to go to the Derby, and I do not think they went—or more than one or two of them—but they did not want the Temperance Question to be considered, although they knew the people of this country wished to have it considered. The right hon. Gentleman has told us that the Land Bill up to the present time has taken 31 days. Three of those days were wasted by the Government on an Amendment brought in by a private Member and adopted by the Government, but afterwards so altered as to make it useless for years to come. I say that a Government that has so wasted the time ought not to take away our Wednesdays. It has been rumoured that the Government has been doing this purposely, first, because they do not want to have the Education Bill passed, and next, because they want to put off Supply till the last moment for the purpose of delaying discussion. I read last week a paragraph in one of the Government papers stating that the Government wished to put off Supply till the last moment to prevent Mr. Morton and others discussing it. I tell the right hon. Gentleman that we shall consider Supply whether he likes it or not. This is one of our first and most important duties as Representatives. He cannot use the Closure in Committee of Supply as he does on other occasions. He will do so at his peril if he endeavours by, that means to prevent us considering those questions which ought to be considered. [Cries of "Divide!"] I desire to ask the right hon. Gentleman if he will be good enough to tell us when he proposes to take Supply— 433 ["Divide!"]—and especially when he proposes to take the remainder of the Army Votes. ["Divide!"] I regret that on an important question like this—["Divide!"]—when the proposal is to deprive us of the remainder of our rights as private Members during this Session, there should be this disturbance. How it is occasioned I do not know; but I can say this, that it would not be allowed in the smallest Vestry in the country.
§ (5.37.) Question put, "That 'and Wednesday' stand part of the Resolution."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 214; Noes 143.—(Div. List, No. 294.)
§ Main Question again proposed.
§ (5.49.) MR. CUNNINGHAME GRAHAM
I beg to move to insert, after "Wednesday," in line 3, the words "except the Wednesday for which the Eight Hours Bill is down, and for that Wednesday only."
§ MR. CUNNINGHAME GRAHAM
I am sorry that is so; I put it down for Wednesday. Am I, then, out of order, Sir?
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there added."
§ *MR. W. H. SMITH
That is a very impracticable way of endeavouring to deal with the questions. The two Bills stand for Monday, the 22nd of June. The Government have possession of Monday, the 22nd of June, without any Order of the House. There will, however, be an opportunity at the end of the Session of discussing the matter.
§ MR. CUNNINGHAME GRAHAM
I have several times in the course of the Session asked for time to discuss this question, and it is only now at the eleventh hour that the right hon. Gentleman has held out any hope that we shall be enabled to discuss it. Had he held out that hope earlier I should not have pushed this proviso to a Division; but I intend to do so now.
§ (5.52.) The House divided:—Ayes 88; Noes 233.—(Div. List, No. 295.)
§ Main Question again proposed.
§ (6.7.) MR. PICTON (Leicester)
I should be glad if the First Lord could add to the information he has already given us in regard to the Clergy Discipline Bill by informing us whether it is intended to proceed with the Lichfield Cathedral Bill and the Archdeaconry of Cornwall Bill? If it is intended to push them forward I should really like to know on what principle it is proposed to afford them facilities.
§ *MR. T. H. BOLTON
I rather doubt whether the Bill which stands first for next Wednesday will be proceeded with, and, therefore, substantially the Bill of which I have charge will be the only business for that day. I refer to the Conveyance and Law of Property (Amendment) Bill, in which a largo number of people take a very great interest. I beg to move that, after the word "Wednesday "——
§ *MR. T. H. BOLTON
Then, Sir, I will adopt the course you suggested to my hon. Friend (Mr. Graham), and move a proviso that the Bill be excepted from the Motion.
§ *MR. SPEAKER
As the Bill is down for Wednesday, and the Resolution has been agreed to with regard to that day, the hon. Member is stopped from moving the proviso.
§ MR. MACNEILL (Donegal, S.)
I would make a further appeal to the right hon. Gentleman not to drop the Indian Councils Bill. I am sure the First Lord will remember that he gave pledge after pledge to the late Mr. Bradlaugh that the Bill should be discussed at the earliest possible moment, and he defended the late introduction of the Indian Budget Bill on the ground that it would give the promoters of the Indian Councils 435 Bill a full opportunity for discussion. That Bill was unfortunately dropped last Session, but it was introduced at the earliest possible moment in the next Session in the House of Lords. I certainly consider, and I think my view is shared by every person interested in the matter, that the Government are under an absolute pledge to give us an opportunity for discussing our Bill. It is the first attempt to touch the Government of India, and it is sad to think that there are 250,000,000 of people who are attentively watching the action of this House.
§ *(6.14.) MR. THORBURN (Peebles and Selkirk)
As a Scotch Member I rise to express my deep regret that the Government have decided to withdraw the "Private Bill Procedure Bill." The people in Scotland will receive the announcement not only with regret and disappointment, but with a considerable amount of resentment. In a speech delivered by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in Dundee, in October last, he gave great prominence to this Bill, and certainly led the people of Scotland to believe that the Government meant to pass it this Session. If I mistake not, this is the third time this Bill has been before the House during this Parliament. And this Session it has been exhaustively considered by a Select Committee of this House. I do not profess to like the Bill as amended in Committee, but I would rather see it passed as it is than not at all, for in another Session it could be improved. Mr. Speaker, I desire to make my most emphatic protest, not only against the withdrawal of this Bill, but against the general treatment which Scotch business receives in this House.
§ MR. E. ROBERTSON (Dundee)
The effect of my hon. Friend's protest is destroyed by the admission he has made that he does not like the Bill in its present form. He and the Lord Advocate must know that what has really wrecked this Bill is simply the proposal of the Government to place the management of the business to be done under it in the hands of the Court of Session. If the Lord Advocate, or the Government, merely want a local inquiry in regard to Scotch private legislation, they know that they can get that in this House in half a day; but if they insist on intruding into the management of the business 436 under the Bill the officials of the Court of Session, they know they will not be able to accomplish their object until much time has been spent over the measure. I am glad my hon. Friend (Mr. Thorburn) has taken a position on this subject which will enable us to include him among the opponents of the Bill in its present form.
§ (6.20.) MR. A. O'CONNOR (Donegal, E.)
There is one aspect of this question which I think; should be borne in mind, namely, that the system of procedure adopted by the Government, not only during this Session, but during the whole of the present Parliament, is very different from what prevailed 20 or 30 years ago, when private Members, having obtained the opportunity of discussing the measures they introduced, were enabled to mature the questions with which they dealt until the Government found they were fit to be taken up and dealt with in Government Bills. Although not many private Members' Bills have passed into law as such, the system formerly adopted enabled better legislation to be carried than we have seen of late years. But in recent years the Government have taken most of the time of private Members, and I would urge that if they insist on usurping the whole time of the House—and this Session they have taken more time than was ever taken in any previous Session by any other Government—they are bound to bring in measures dealing with the questions which they deprive private Members of the opportunity of discussing. This, however, is what the Government have not done. Take the question of the Employers' Liability Bill. That matter was dealt with years ago by a Committee, which reported at considerable length, with recommendations which they thought ought to be embodied in the law. What happened? The Government adopted the Committee's Report, and based a Bill upon it, with this result: that while private Members were thereby deterred from bringing in Bills of their own on the subject, and hon. Members who are here to represent the working classes have on the Paper this Session measures intended to deal with the matter, those hon. Members have not proceeded with their proposals because the Home Secretary has told them the Government in- 437 tend to bring forward the question. I, for one, think it would be well worth the time they are taking away if the Government would introduce and press forward their measure on this subject; but, as it is, it seems to me that hon. Members have been misled and the working classes betrayed by the action of the Government, who neglect to bring in a measure which they have declared to be necessary as dealing with questions affecting the lives and the labour of enormous masses of the people. Nevertheless, they can find time to pass a Bill about the Archdeaconry of Cornwall. Who knows, or who cares, anything about the Archdeaconry of Cornwall? Surely it is monstrous to place in the Government list of Orders of the Day measures such as these, and at the same time for the Government to declare their inability to promote important measures that have been practically agreed upon years ago. I ask any candid friend of the Government whether the fact that in dealing with 24 of their own Bills on the 15th June, the Government find they have to dispose of half of them by withdrawal, is not a proof of the absurdity of the system under which the Business of the Government is administered in this House? If the Government would be content with bringing forward three or four well-considered measures on important questions that are ripe for settlement they might make the House of Commons a really useful legislative machine; but if they persist in introducing 20 or 30 Bills, each crushing for space and rendering the rest more difficult to pass, we shall have to witness very often what we have seen this afternoon. The House has certainly not gained by departing from the old practice, and what has just happened is a convincing illustration of that fact.
§ *(6.25.) SIR J. PEASE (Durham, Barnard Castle)
An hon. Member on this side of the House has made an appeal to Her Majesty's Government with respect to the Indian Councils Bill. I think that anyone looking at the Orders of the Day will at once see that if Parliament is only to sit for the usual period, they can have no chance of passing that Bill; but that being so, I would appeal to the Government whether they will not endeavour 438 to bring forward their Indian Budget Statement a little earlier than usual this Session?
MR. SINCLAIRetc.) (Falkirk,
I should like to remind the Government that amongst bankers and merchants in Ireland there is much opposition to the Registration of Assurances (Ireland) Bill, and they would be glad to know that the Bill is not to be proceeded with during the present Session.
§ MR. S. T. EVANS (Glamorgan, Mid)
Although I think it would obviously be an abuse of the time of the House for private Members to move exceptions to all the Private Bills in which they are interested, I must, at the same time, enter my protest against the refusal to proceed with a Bill such as that which I introduced for the purpose of enfranchising Nonconformist places of worship, and which was read a second time not long ago in this House by a majority of something like two to one. It can hardly be said to be impossible to carry through a Bill of that kind this Session when so strong a desire was evinced for its passage from all parts of the House. If private Members are to be allowed to introduce Bills they ought to have the right to see them through at proper opportunities until the end of the Session. It is evident that the House will grant the Government the time they ask for, and all the private Members who protest against their action can do is to hope they will use the period at their disposal for the passage of useful measures such as are demanded by the country. In the list of measures given by the First Lord of the Treasury as those that will be proceeded with are the Penal Servitude Bill, the Stamp Consolidation Bill, the Gold Coinage Bill, and BE forth, and I think the Representatives of working men's constituencies have a right to ask the Government not to trifle with them by passing such measures and refusing to pass the Employers' Liability Bill. That is a Bill dealing with the lives of the colliers and other working men, and I hope the First Lord of the Treasury will yet see his way to proceeding with it. On another point, it seems to me utterly absurd that we should be asked to pass the Clergy Discipline Bill, and that the Employers' Liability Bill should be neglected.
§ *MR. MORTON
Will the right hon. Gentleman say what business is proposed to be taken on Wednesday, and will he say when it is intended to go on with Supply, and especially the remainder of the Army Votes?
§ (6.30.) MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W.)
I desire to ask some information from the Chief Secretary in regard to matters in which Irish Members feel an interest, and which were not dealt with in the speech of the First Lord of the Treasury. First of all, in regard to Irish Supply, some of which has especial importance this year, from reasons the right hon. Gentleman will appreciate; will Irish Supply be taken in its order, or will it be put off until other Votes are finished? Then, as regards the Education grant, we are left in considerable doubt as to the course the right hon. Gentleman proposes to follow in regard to the Irish share. The English Bill is before the House, but the Irish question has not been put into any Parliamentary form. The right hon. Gentleman dropped a hint or suggestion that the money should be devoted this year to creating a nucleus of the Reserve Fund for purposes of Land Purchase, but when and in what form does he propose to put his proposal before the House? There is considerable anxiety felt in Ireland among teachers and others, and I beg the right hon. Gentleman to make his purpose known. We have heard, and are thankful for, the information that the Long Leaseholders' Bill is to be introduced and proceeded with, and we should like to know how soon it will be introduced. I had hoped we should have seen the Bill before now; the clauses, we know, are in type. There is another Bill as to which we have continually sought information—the Bill dealing with Training Colleges in Ireland. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will now say if that Bill is to be introduced and proceeded with. There are three other Bills I have to mention. First, the Parks Regulation Bill for Ireland, of which I may say it is a sort of minor Coercion Bill directed against the right of public meeting, and I have to inform the right hon. Gentleman that, on the part of my friends, this Bill will meet with stern resistance. The Registration of Assurances (Ireland) Bill is strongly objected to in the commercial com- 440 munity in Ireland. Perhaps the Chief Secretary might be able to inform us that the Bill will not be proceeded with. Then there is an important Bill on the Order Book commonly referred to as the Sunday Closing Bill, but which extends Sunday closing for Ireland, and restricts the hours of sale of intoxicating liquors on Saturday. This Bill is a highly contentious measure; it was supported and opposed in about equal numbers by Irish Members on the Second Reading. I understand we are now giving the Government time to proceed with Public Bills; but if the Government have any intention to devote any of the time to this Bill, I have to inform the Government that any such attempt will be resisted. I shall be thankful for information on the points I have mentioned.
§ (6.35.) MR. H. T. KNATCHBULL-HUGESSEN (Kent, Faversham)
I hope the right hon. Gentleman will not postpone the Navy Estimates, as was done last year, to the last days of the Session.
§ *MR. LEA (Londonderry, S.)
There was one remark of the hon. Member for West Belfast to which I must take exception. The hon. Member said that the Irish Sunday Closing Bill is a highly contentious measure, opposed by nearly half the Irish Members, but I may mention that usually the Bill has had double the number of Irish Members in its support.
§ MR. LEA
The lowest number voting for the Bill on the last Debate was 28, and usually the number of Irish Members supporting the Bill has been as two to one, while something like nine-tenths of the people of Ireland are in its favour. The Government have said on former occasions that it is a Bill which ought to be passed, and, though it is in the hands of a private Member, it is really a public measure, which the Government have assisted, and it finds its place in the Annual Continuance Bill. Its failure to pass this year will cause deep disappointment. If Wednesdays are taken from us now, I think we shall have to consider whether it really is worth while for private Members to introduce Bills at all. It is a most absurd thing that for six months in the year we 441 should be introducing Bills and endeavouring to get them through the Second Reading only to find that those Bills which pass Second Reading cannot proceed further if opposed by a dozen Members. We might just as well give up the farce of our Second Reading Debates on private Members' Bills on Wednesdays. I hope the House will allow the Bill to go before the Committee on Law, and see whether it can be put into a shape which can be accepted. No reasonable Amendment will be refused, rather than have the question hung up for another year.
§ MR. JOHNSTON (Belfast, S.)
I join the Member for South Derry in pressing on the Government in the strongest possible manner the necessity of dealing with this question. The Chief Secretary will remember the influential deputation he received on this subject, and the almost absolute promise given that the Government would themselves introduce such a Bill, or give facilities for its passage. I know the right hon. Gentleman does not require to be appealed to; I know he is thoroughly in accord with us, and I trust the exertions used on behalf of the Bill will not now be thrown away.
§ (6.38.) THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR,) Manchester, E.
I will answer the questions raised as to Irish matters before my right hon. Friend makes his general reply. In the first place, I may say that the Irish Votes in Supply will be taken in their regular place. Of course, I am unable to say when that period will be reached, but there will be no attempt to defer Irish Votes unreasonably or bring them on prematurely. With regard to Ireland's share of the £2,000,000 for education, I am in consultation with the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the matter, so far as regards this year, should be dealt with by vote of the House or by Bill. I will let the hon. Gentleman know the conclusion at which we arrive as soon as possible. The Long Leaseholders' Bill is in print, and will be introduced almost immediately, and the same remark applies to the Bill dealing with Training Colleges. The Registration of Assurances Bill will not be proceeded with this year against the resistance it meets with on the part of certain important 442 interests. The Parks Regulation Bill will not be proceeded with. It is not, as the right hon. Gentleman suggests, introduced in the interest of stopping public meetings, but in the interest of the public, whose enjoyment of Phoenix Park is now interfered with. I would like to see the Bill passed, but it will be withdrawn for this year. I do not know that I have anything to add to what I have said already as to the Sunday Closing Bill. The present position of the question is discreditable in the highest degree, and I wish that something were done to settle the question finally in the direction in the main of the Bill before the House. My hon. Friend has pointed out that it is almost impossible for private Members to carry Bills of this kind. If it had been in the Government programme, it would have had to be sacrificed for precisely the same reasons, and share the fate of very important measures which we have had reluctantly to drop. I earnestly trust that the Bill will meet with better fortune next year.
§ *(6.43.) MR. W. H. SMITH
I will shortly reply to the various questions addressed to me. The hon. Gentleman opposite desires that we should take a discussion upon the Second Reading of the Indian Councils Bill, but, under the circumstances, we cannot alter the determination we have come to. The hon. Baronet opposite (Sir J. Pease) has mentioned the Indian Budget, and I can only say I hope it will be possible to deal with it somewhat earlier this Session. The business next Wednesday will be some of the minor Bills and the Navy Estimates.
§ *MR. W. H. SMITH
I had forgotten for the moment the importance the hon. Gentleman attaches to these. As the Archdeaconry of Cornwall Bill and other Ecclesiastical Bills are threatened with such violent opposition, they will be withdrawn for the present Session.
§ *MR. W. H. SMITH
As has been already stated by my right hon. Friend, they will be taken in regular order.
443 (6.46.) The House divided:—Ayes 232; Noes 76.—(Div. List, No. 296.)Resolved, That, for the remainder of the Session, Government Business, whether Orders of the Day or Notices of Motion, have precedence on Tuesday and "Wednesday; and that the House do meet at Three o'clock on Tuesday and Friday. That Standing Order No. 11 be suspended, and that the provisions of Standing Order No. 56 be extended to the other days of the week.—(Mr. William Henry Smith.)