HC Deb 12 March 1891 vol 351 cc768-71

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether, for the convenience of Members, he will now indicate the date and duration of the Adjournment at Easter?

MR. HOWORTH (Salford, S.)

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether, in view of the continual counts which have taken place on Private-Members' nights recently, and of the general anxiety that the Session should not be prolonged beyond July, Her Majesty's Government will favourably consider the widespread wish that the nights thus wasted should be appropriated to Government business?

MR. JOHNSTON (Belfast, S.)

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether, in consideration of the fact that the Census of the United Kingdom, is to be taken on Sunday, 5th April, he-will include that date in the Easter Holidays in order that Members may be enumerated in their own houses?

MR. W. E. GLADSTONE (Edinburgh, Mid Lothian)

May I ask whether, in view of the fact that the "counts out" during the present Session have almost wholly, and certainly by far the larger number, taken place on Friday nights, and also of the fact that Friday night is, a night on which the Government, by long-established and well-understood usage, have always been under the obligation of keeping a House, the right hon. Gentleman will take increased I means for the fulfilment of that obligation?


I am obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for enforcing upon, me the duties of Her Majesty's Government. No one is better able than the right hon. Gentleman to recall to the consideration of any Government the duties which devolve upon it. I think, however, that, if the right hon. Gentleman will make a careful investigation of the circumstances relating to the "counts out" to which he refers, he will find that Her Majesty's Government have not been very deficient in the discharge of their duties. ["Oh, oh!"] Hon. Members opposite have shown so little interest in the question that was being discussed at the time that they gave no assistance to Her Majesty's Government in their endeavours to keep a House. The hon. Member for the Rushcliffe Division (Mr. J. E. Ellis) asks a question which is of interest to hon. Members generally, and I should have been extremely glad had I been able at the moment to give some definite information with respect to it. ["Oh, oh!"] The hon. Member will, I am sure, acknowledge that the ground on which I am not able to give definite information is a sufficiently reasonable one, and that is before the date of the holidays can be fixed Supply must be obtained and Ways and Means advanced. [Mr. LABOUCHERE: Vote on Account.] The Vote on Account is, of course, included in Supply, and this must be taken by the 16th of March in order to enable the House to rise for the Easter holidays. The intention was to move the Adjournment on Thursday, the 26th March, but I recognise the fact that representations have been made to the effect that there is a strong desire that the ancient practice should be observed and the House rise on Tuesday. In these circumstances I shall ask the House on Monday to give the Government Morning Sittings for the transaction of Public Business on Tuesdays and Fridays. The House has now been sitting for a considerable period, and there remains a large amount of public work to be got through. A review of the conditions under which Tuesday and Friday Sittings have been used by hon. Members leads me to believe that a Sitting of four hours, from 9 o'clock to 1 o'clock, would afford them all the time that they really desire for Debate. I am sure that the view which the hon. Member for Salford (Mr. Howorth) presses on the consideration of the Government is entertained largely on this side of the House—a desire that there should be an early Prorogation this year at all events, having regard to the fact that the business of the House began at a much earlier period than usual. I have referred to Supply in order to ask the House to recognise the necessity of agreeing to the Supplementary Estimates before it in the course of this evening, and the Vote on Account not later than Monday. In order that the House may rise on Tuesday, the 24th of March, I have laid the circumstances before it, and I have no doubt that it will take the subject into consideration and give assistance to the Government to carry on the business. As to-the duration of the holiday, the hon. Member for Belfast (Mr. Johnston) has urged a new ground for its extension. I do not know whether that view will be entertained generally by hon. Members; but, having regard to the circumstances of the case, if the Government were able to obtain the assistance of the House in the matter of Morning Sittings, and if they were able to complete Supply on the day I have named, I shall propose-that the Adjournment be from Tuesday, the 24th, until Monday, the 6th of April.


What business will be taken at the Morning Sittings of Tuesday and Friday, and what constitutes the special reasons for having Morning Sittings on those days?


The state of public business constitutes the reasons for having Morning Sittings on those days. There are also several measures-which the Government are anxious to send to the Standing Committees, among them being the Public Health Bill and the Savings Banks Bill, and we also-wish to make progress with the Public Trustee Bill. The Government desire to deal with those measures in order as soon as possible to enter on the consideration of the Irish Land Purchase Bill.

MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)

Will the Civil Service Estimates be taken this side of Easter?


I think it improbable that we shall be able to take them. There is the Tithe Bill, which will come down from the House of Lords, and we shall desire, if possible, to take the judgment of the House on the Amendments which the House of Lords-have introduced.

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

Will the Irish Land Bill be the first business after Easter?


I hope so.


May I ask, with reference to the "counts out," whether the right hon. Gentleman is aware that on Tuesday last there were several Members of Her Majesty's Government in the Lobby while the House was being counted, including the Civil Lord of the Admiralty and several junior Lords of the Treasury?


No, Sir.


It is a fact.

MR. H. GARDNER (Essex, Saffron Walden)

Will the Tithe Bill be taken before the Adjournment?


I hope we shall be able to do so, as it is desirable that we should part with that subject before Easter.


Will the Inflammable Liquids Bill be taken before Easter?


It will not be taken.

In reply to Colonel WARING (Down, N.),


said: On the first day after the holidays, Supply will be taken. That has always been the practice.


Will the right hon. Gentleman give us notice when the Tithe Bill Amendments will be taken?


Certainly, Sir.