§ MR. HOWELL (Bethnal Green, N.E.)
I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether the Bill which stands No. 17 on the Orders of the Day—the Merchant Shipping Acts Amendment Bill—does not come within that description the right hon. Gentleman gave of Bills in charge of private Members, which, with the general assent of the House, might be adopted as Government measures to be passed this Session? If this Bill does not come within that description, I am bound to say I do not see that the promise of the right hon. Gentleman has any force, for I do not know of any other Bill standing in that position. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will say that the Bill shall be included in the list of measures to be proceeded with.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I do not say that Order No. 17 is outside the purview of the statement I made yesterday, but I would advise the hon. Member to come to an arrangement by which the Bill may be taken; and, if he is unsuccessful, I will confer with my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade on the subject.
§ MR. HOWELL
But how is it possible for me to attempt to get the Bill through if the right hon. Gentleman moves the adjournment immediately after Government Business is disposed of?
§ MR. BALFOUR
The hon. Member refers to proceedings after twelve o'clock. He may be fortunate enough to get it on before twelve, and I shall be only too glad if he succeeds in passing it.
§ MR. JOHN ELLIS (Nottingham, Rushcliffe)
Are we to take it that the right hon. Gentleman will move the adjournment after Government Business is done?
§ MR. BALFOUR
The pledge given was distinct—that Bills of private Members should be objected to by the Government after twelve o'clock. I do not promise to move the adjournment, but that is merely a matter of procedure. Practically, it comes to the same thing if the Bills are objected to.
§ SIR JOHN LUBBOCK (London University)
I observe that in the notice for the nomination of the Committee on the Telegraphs Bill the usual Instruction that the Committee have power to send for persons, papers, and records is omitted, but it appears to me that those persons interested should have the opportunity of being heard.
§ SIR JAMES FERGUSSON
The Government hope that the Committee may not find it necessary to take evidence, and it is not contemplated that they will do so. I believe the Telephone Companies do not desire to be heard. The matter has undergone very full investigation, and has been debated in the House on a Motion with 699 the fulness of a Second Reading Debate. I hope the Committee may hot think it necessary to call for persons, papers, and records; but if they should find it necessary, of course they can come to the House for the further power.
§ MR. H. H. FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)
But surely that is a cumbrous mode of procedure, involving loss of time. Would it not be better to give the Committee the power, so that they may acquire further information if they desire it; while if they do not require it, they need not use the power?
§ MR. PICTON (Leicester)
Will the First Lord of the Treasury say is it the intention to take Order No. 11—the Archdeaconry of Cornwall Bill—after midnight?
§ MR. SEXTON
The right hon. Gentleman will observe that I have notice of a question in reference to the Irish Education Bill. That question, in consequence of the absence of the Chief Secretary for Ireland, remains unanswered, and I will repeat it on Monday; but inasmuch as upon the answer to that question may depend the urgent necessity of requesting the attendance of Irish Members, I now ask the First Lord of the Treasury if he will give an undertaking that the Bill shall not be taken earlier than Wednesday next?
§ MR. BALFOUR
I appreciate the difficulty in which the hon. Gentleman finds himself through the unavoidable absence of my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary, and, under the circumstances, I undertake that the Bill shall not be brought on before Wednesday next.
§ MR. MORTON (Peterborough)
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman if he will be good enough to say that the Report of Supply shall be taken on Monday instead of to-night?
§ MR. BALFOUR
I think I had better not give an undertaking of the kind until we see what progress may be made with business to-night. My right hon. Friend at the head of the Education Department proposes to make his statement if possible on the Report, but he will not do so at a late hour of the night.