HC Deb 13 March 1891 vol 351 cc928-33

Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Reports of the Committees of Supply and Ways and Means may he entered upon at any hour, though opposed; and the Proceedings thereon shall not be interrupted under the provisions of any Standing Order regulating the Sittings of the House except of Standing Order No, 5."—(Mr. William Henry Smith.)

MR. H. GARDNER (Essex, Saffron Walden)

I would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether it was not understood when the 12 o'Clock Rule was passed that it should not be suspended save for the purpose of enabling important discussions to be concluded for the convenience of the House; and whether the proposition he makes tonight is for that purpose or merely to enable the Government to continue discussions on Report of Supply to any hour of the morning?


The Motion is not for the purpose of enabling discussions to be extended to unreasonable hours, but the object is merely to enable Reports of Supply and Ways and Means to be taken after 12 o'clock at night. If the Motion is not carried a Money Bill might be delayed, and that delay would be fatal to the object we all have in view, I believe—that is to say, a seasonable adjournment at Easter.

MR. J. MORLEY (Newcastle-upon-Tyne)

May I ask whether it is to be distinctly understood that the Motion will not be used for allowing Votes to be taken after midnight when discussions on those Votes have, by arrangement, been postponed until the Report stage; and also whether it will be understood that, as soon as the Reportstages of Supply and Ways and Means are disposed of, the business of the House will conclude?


Certainly. The Motion does not extend to other business, and I think the experience of the past year will satisfy the right hon. Gentleman that whenever an arrangement is made between the Government Benches and right hon. Gentlemen opposite that an opportunity shall be afforded for discussion on Report staess of Supply, that Report will be taken at a time to allow of such discussion. That has been the practice on both sides.


Will the Motion apply to the whole of the present Session?




Then I shall oppose it.

DR. CLARK (Caithness)

May I ask why the right hon. Gentleman has put down this Motion? Is it necessary? Up to now have we not taken Report of Supply after 12 o'clock?


If to-night any hon. Member were to object to our proceeding with Report of Supply or Committee of Ways and Means, those Orders would have to stand over until Monday, and the holidays would be deferred certainly till Thursday, and perhaps until Saturday week.

MR. H. H. FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)

I would ask whether we are to understand that in the event of a Debate on Report of Supply or of Ways and Means being protracted until 1 o'clock, the ordinary limit of time for the Sitting of the House, and the business of the Report being at an end, some Member of the Government will move the Adjournment of the House?


That would be contrary to the Standing Orders, which provide that, after any business exempted from the operation of the Resolution is disposed of, the remainder of the business will be dealt with in accordance with the Rules relating to business after 12 o'clock. No doubt it is inconvenient to proceed with business after 1 o'clock, but it is necessary that the Orders should be gone through in order that hon. Members may make arrangements as to the days on which their Bills are to be again set down.


I am not asking the Government to alter the Standing Orders at all, but to give an undertaking that, in the circumstances I have referred to, they will move the Adjournment of the House, which would override any Standing Order.


I shall certainly use any influence I possess in the direction of preventing the transacting of any business after 1 o'clock. My desire is to meet the convenience of the House as far as I possibly can. I will consult with the Speaker and the Officers of the House; but from my own experience, I would strongly urge that there should be no change on the present system. It is, no doubt, inconvenient that opportunity should be taken after 1 o'clock to get a stage of a measure. As far as my influence goes, I will certainly discourage anything of that kind in every possible way; but I do not think it will be desirable to alter the Standing Order.


Will the Government undertake not to allow a stage of a Bill to be taken after 1 o'clock?

*(5.1.) MR. W. H. SMITH

There may possibly be some cases in which an exception should be made, but I have no hesitation in saying that that will be the practical result unless there is any such exception. I am anxious not to enter into any pledge from which at a future day I might be charged with having departed. There may be cases which would fully justify an exception, and I undertake that if I do depart from the understanding I will justify the departure. For instance, there may be a measure like the Seed Potatoes Bill, which it is most desirable to pass through, but with such an understanding my hands would be absolutely tied.

(5.2.) SIR W. HARCOURT (Derby)

It is more with reference to Private than to Government Bills that the Govern- ment are asked to give an undertaking, and I ask for an assurance that the Government will not allow Private Bills to be advanced a stage after 1 o'clock.


I will undertake that that shall be done.


What are we about to do? Is this a proposal for a limited period or for the remainder of the Session?


The course I propose is that which the House has taken in the five past Sessions.

MR. J. E. ELLIS (Nottingham, Rushcliffe)

The right hon. Gentleman says that this Motion has been made for five years, but I think if he will look into the matter he will find it has never been made so early in the Session. I shall, therefore, move as an Amendment words providing that the Motion shall only remain in force until Easter. Let us try it for the next 10 days, and see how it works. The present state of public business is not backward, and there can be no necessity for thus setting aside the Standing Orders in such a sweeping fashion.

Amendment proposed, after the word "That," to insert the words "until the House adjourns for Easter."—(Mr. J. E. Ellis.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."

(5.5.) The House divided:—Ayes 89; Noes 197.—(Div. List, No. 87.)

Main Question again proposed.


What will be the business taken at the Morning Sitting on Tuesday?

SIR G. CAMPBELL (Kirkcaldy, &c.)

Have we now an absolute pledge that no Public Bills will be taken after the hour when, in ordinary circumstances, they cannot be taken if objected to? Will the opponents of Public Bills be able to go home to bed at night without fear that the Bills will be slipped through in their absence on the plea that the Government suddenly came to the conclusion it was an exceptional Bill?


I had hoped that the House had understood the statement which I made. I cannot go beyond it. On Tuesday, at the Morning Sitting, the Government propose to take the Ways and Means Bill, the Savings Banks-Bill, and the Public Health Bills.

MR. G. OSBORNE MORGAN (Denbighshire, E.)

Will the Lords Amendments to the Tithes Bill be taken before Easter?


I hope the Lords Amendments to the Tithes Bill will be considered before Easter. When the Bill comes down from the other House I shall be able to speak more positively.

DR. CLARK (Caithness)

I do not intend to oppose the adoption of the right hon. Gentleman's Resolution, but I should like to express the opinion that, by the unwise course which the First Lord of the Treasury proposes to take, he will lessen his opportunities of expediting public business rather than increase them. The Government would have done better to have waited until there had been factious opposition to Report of Supply. It is well the Government should now understand that if we adopt this Motion it will not do for them to attempt to shorten Debate in Committee of Supply on a promise that the discussion shall be renewed on Report.

*SIR WALTER FOSTER (Derbyshire, Ilkeston)

I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, considering that the Public Health Bills are so voluminous, and that they were only issued this morning, it would be right to take them, into consideration on Tuesday? We have seldom had an opportunity of discussing important Sanitary Bills at any length, and, therefore, I appeal to the Government not to force them on so soon.

*MR. LAWSON (St. Pancras, W.)

The Bills must be referred to various Local Authorities for report thereon; and before we discuss them, it is very desirable that Metropolitan Members should be placed in possession of the views of those bodies.


There are two Bills relating to the subject of Public Health; and as it is very desirable that the law on the subject should be amended, I hope that the Bills will, as soon as possible, be sent before the Standing Committee. One of these Bills contains a great many provisions for the consolidation and amendment of the law; and if a strong disinclination to proceed with that Bill on Tuesday should be manifested, the Government will not bring it forward. I hope, however, that we shall be allowed to take it.

Question put, and agreed to. Resolved, That the Reports of the Committees of Supply and Ways and Means may be entered upon at any hour, though opposed; and the Proceedings thereon shall not be interrupted under the provisions of any Standing Order regulating the Sittings of the House, except of Standing Order No. V.

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