§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE (Edinburgh, Midlothian)
I think it is anticipated from conversation which passed on a previous occasion, and I think the House will be anxious to know whether the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord is now in a position to make a final announcement as to the measures to be proceeded with, and also if he will give us some definite statement as to the day for the Dissolution of Parliament?
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR,) Manchester, E.
Everybody, I think, will admit that the request of the right hon. Gentleman is a very reasonable one. As I understand the position of Public Business it is this: There still remain on the Paper seventeen Orders of the Day. I understand from my right hon. Friend that No. 13—Public Authorities Protection Bill—is not one which the Irish Government desire to see pressed, and I propose, therefore, to omit that. The remaining Orders of the Day can probably be passed into law without any serious delay; and, so far as the House of Commons is concerned, I see no reason why we should not get through all the measures we have on the Paper by Wednesday next, unless, indeed, we pro- 1471 ceed with the British Columbia Bill, which, being a Money Bill, requires a separate day for each one of its stages, and which could not, therefore, be passed before Thursday. With that exception we can, I believe, get through all the business on the Paper by Wednesday. Nor is that general view of our prospects at all modified by the fact that I find there are four Government Bills coming down from another place, of which the following are the titles: Fisheries (Scotland) Bill, Colonial Stock Act, 1877, Amendment Bill, Forged Transfer Bill, and the Bills of Sale Act Amendment Bill. With regard to the Fisheries (Scotland) Bill, I have on more than one occasion pointed out to the House that this was a measure which I was led to understand has excited great interest in Scotland; but I do not believe it is likely to be opposed, as it is not of a controversial character. I hope that is still the view of the House, and that there will be no difficulty in passing that Bill into law before Wednesday. The Colonial Stock Act, 1877, Amendment Bill is a Bill dealing with a very small subject; it is only intended to rectify certain wrong or informal entries with regard to certain Colonial Stock in this country. The Forged Transfer Bill and the Bills of Sale Bill are Legal Bills, more or less important, which could pass if they were generally assented to; but which, of course, the Government could not and would not attempt to force down the throats even of a small minority if they were objected to. So much for the business that we have to get through in this House, and I may say, in passing, I think we owe a great deal to the efforts of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite, who have enabled us to transact so rapidly and so successfully a very large mass of important Public Business. The Session, however, cannot be brought to a close until the business of the other House is also brought to a termination, and, therefore, I see no prospect of being able to conclude our work at so early a date. We have sent up a very large number of very important Bills; and, so far I have been able to understand the procedure in another place, there is no probability, or even possibility, of these Public Bills being dealt with before the end of the week. There is, indeed, a further, and in some respects a more insuperable, difficulty in concluding the 1472 business of the Session arising out of certain very important Provisional Orders, which, as I am informed, must lie on the Table for a certain length of time—seven days—in order to give private interests which may be affected power to appeal. That time cannot be shortened without violating all the tenets of public equity, which both Houses have invariably observed; even if the Standing Orders of the House of Lords were suspended with regard to these Provisional Orders it would not, as I understand, be possible to get them through before the end of the week, and a very great deal of hardship would be inflicted on the various localities concerned, for if they were not passed these localities could not obtain the water supplies, and other matters with which the Orders deal, until another year has-elapsed. Under these circumstances, I should propose that we should adjourn House on Wednesday. Monday must be kept open in case we have to-deal with Lords' Amendments, and I should propose, as soon after that as possible, the Dissolution should take place: it cannot possibly be later than Wednesday or Thursday in next week.
§ MR. PICTON (Leicester)
I wish to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether he intends to insist on passing Order No. 17, the Archdeaconry of Cornwall Bill? He said he was unwilling to press a certain Bill down the throats of even a small minority. Does he regard this as a Bill that ought to be pressed down the throats of a small minority?