§ MR. DODD (Essex, Maldon)
I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury if he will consider the propriety of asking the House to suspend the Rule putting an end to contested Business at 12 p.m. during the present Session, and also that putting an end to contested Business on Wednesdays at 5.30, and to pass a Resolution to commence Business on four days in a week at an earlier hour?
§ The following questions relating to the same matter also appeared on the Paper:—
§ MR. CHANNING (Northamptonshire, E.)
To ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether, to expedite the Business of the present Sittings, he will consider the advisability of asking the House to sit on Saturday next and the following Saturday, if necessary, and also of asking the House to apply the Wednesday Rule, as to the commencement of Business, to two or more days in the week besides Wednesday and Saturday?
§ MR. BARROW (Southwark, Bermondsey)
To ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether, having regard to the present condition of Public Business and the general desire of Members to bring the work of the Session to a termination, he will move the suspension of the Twelve o'Clock Rule, and also take Saturdays during the remainder of the Session?
§ MR. STANLEY LEIGHTON (Shropshire, Oswestry)
Before the right hon. Gentleman answers, may I ask him if he is aware that an unprecedented number of Members are invalided in consequence of overwork, and will he take such steps as may be necessary to shorten the hours of attendance in the House, and to put a reasonable restriction upon the length of the Session?
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
In answer to the hon. Gentleman opposite, I have to say that we do desire to put a reasonable restriction upon the length of the Session. At the same time, we feel that the paramount consideration in determining the length of the Session, so far as our conviction and advice go, is the transaction of the necessary Business. The question is, how far the transaction of that necessary Business, which we have endeavoured to keep within bounds by severely discouraging, as far as we have been able, the intrusion and invasion of extraneous matter—the question is how soon the necessary Business can be brought to a termination. I will answer the other questions—those of my hon. Friends—by saying that to-morrow the Cabinet will meet, and they will consider the state of Business, and whether it is their duty to make any proposal to the House with a view to greater expedition. But with regard to the immediate future of the Bill now before the House, what we venture to hope is that to-night and to-morrow night may be distinguished by more effectual despatch than has been the case on one or two recent occasions. If that should be so, we will not make any immediate proposal; but undoubtedly if the progress of Business to-night and to-morrow night should be very tardy, we shall feel it our duty to propose to sit on Saturday.
§ MR. GOSCHEN (St. George's, Hanover Square)
I should be out of Order if I made any comments, in the absence 109 of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, on what has fallen from the right hon. Gentleman. Perhaps I may be permitted to say that we have already passed 206 lines of the Bill, of which 76 are new lines. Although the despatch may not have been rapid, at the same time the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill will, I think, acknowledge that there has been every desire on the part of the House—[Cries of "Order!"] I know I am only speaking by the indulgence of the House. At the same time, both sides of the House will be anxious that this matter should be conducted without any heat, and that no measures should be necessary which would rouse that feeling of controversy seen on several other occasions. I only thought it right to indicate that up to this time, I think, no complaint can be made, nor do I understand the right hon. Gentleman to make any complaint of the conduct of the Opposition. Now, I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman a question with regard to the East India Loan Bill, which stands as the second Order of the Day on the Notice Paper, to which I hope I may be permitted to refer. I quite understand that it is one of those Bills which the Government are entitled to bring forward under the reserve made by the Prime Minister. I wish to ask when we are to have an opportunity of discussing this very large measure. It will be quite impossible to pass it sub silentio. I would remind the Prime Minister that when similar Bills have been introduced on previous occasions they have been made the first Order of the Day, when important matters connected with them have had to be discussed; and on one occasion three days were occupied in the discussion of the East India Loan Bill. There are many extremely important matters connected with this Bill which we have to discuss, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman will give the matter his consideration. A march was stolen upon us last night. These Bills are usually best discussed at length in Committee before the Resolution is passed. I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he can give the House an assurance that ample opportunity shall be given for the discussion of this Bill.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE
I rather demur to the opinion of my right hon. Friend opposite that the preliminary 110 Committee is the opportunity usually taken for the discussion of a Bill of the nature of the East India Loan Bill, and certainly I do not agree that a march was stolen on the House last evening. We thought it our duty to get through this preliminary proceeding. We quite agree that an opportunity should be given for the purpose of the discussion of the measure, and we shall bear it in mind when we come to propose the Second Reading of the Bill.