§ MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W.)
Can the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury now state the intention of the Government in regard to the Orders standing Nos. 4 and 5 for Monday—the Irish Local Government Bill and the Irish Education Bill?
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR,) Manchester, E.
The Irish Local Government Bill will not be taken on Monday; but as to the Irish Education Bill, I desire to consult with my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary before I make a definite statement. I do not propose to put it as first Order on Monday. I then propose to ask the House to take the remaining stage of the Scotch Equivalent Grant, and to proceed with the Scotch Burgh and Police Bill. It will, perhaps, be more convenient to the hon. Member and his friends if I set down the Irish Education Bill as first Order for a later day?
§ MR. SEXTON
Does the right hon. Gentleman propose to apply to that Bill the Resolution which is down in his name to be moved to-day? The Bill, if it is proceeded with in the form in which it is now before the House, will have to be carefully and fully debated on matters of principle raised by many important details, and I do not think it will be reasonable to insist upon proceeding with such a Debate when there are only a few Members present after midnight.
§ MR. BALFOUR
Certainly the Bill is proposed to be included in the operation of the proposal I shall presently have to make to the House, but I may say it is not intended to ask the House for any very prolonged Sitting, nor do I think it will be necessary in regard to any of the Government measures.
§ MR. JOHN MORLEY (Newcastle-upon-Tyne)
I think it was rather expected that the right hon. Gentleman, in making his Motion for taking the whole time of the House for Government Business, would tell us what are 583 the measures the Government intend to proceed with, and what they propose to abandon. Further, I think we should have an assurance that all private Members' Bills will be discontinued and will not have any advantage from the suspension of the Twelve o'Clock Rule.
§ MR. BALFOUR
It would not be right, I think, that under cover of this Motion additional facilities should be given for private Members' Bills, but, at the same time, it would be rather hard that a private Member having in charge an unopposed Bill—a Bill to which there is general assent—should be deprived of the opportunity of bringing on that Bill, which he would have if such a Motion were not passed. I draw a distinction between opposed and unopposed Bills, and will give an undertaking that, so far as the Government are concerned, we shall not allow opposed Private Bills to be taken after twelve o'clock. It would be hard to mete out the same measure to Bills which are not opposed.
§ MR. H. H. FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)
But if the question is raised as to which are the unopposed Bills it will be very difficult to answer it, because it may be that Members who have objections to urge may not be here. When the Government take the time of the House for their Bills, I have always understood it is usual for the Government to move the adjournment after their business is disposed of. If the Government are satisfied that there are Bills introduced by private Members which are of such importance that they should pass these remaining stages, and that they will do so without opposition, then the Government may adopt these Bills, marking them with the star; but if they are left open for opposition to be expressed, then we simply leave open the door for the difficulty we wish to avoid.
§ SIR ALBERT ROLLIT (Islington, S.)
May I say a word in reference to the Bills introduced by private Members? Some of these are entitled to more consideration than others, and I would suggest that those Bills which have arrived at the stage of progress in 584 Committee might be allowed to pass. I may illustrate what I mean by reference to a Bill to which I hope some regard will be had—
§ MR. ANGUS SUTHERLAND (Sutherland)
The Access to Mountains Bill is set down for Monday, but it will be for the convenience of Scotch Members if it is not taken until Tuesday or Thursday.
§ MR. BALFOUR
I will put it down for Thursday. As to the suggestion of my hon. Friend (Sir Albert Rollit), that we should regard as unopposed those Bills which have passed their Second Reading—such, I think, was his suggestion?—
§ MR. BALFOUR
It is an impracticable suggestion, inasmuch as it would include the Wednesday Bills. But I think it is well worthy of consideration whether, when Bills are really desired by the House, that they should be added to the Government list, and then we could carry out the proposal that progress with other Bills should be opposed by the Government after twelve o'clock.