Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment proposed to Question [2nd April]—
That, in addition to the two Standing Committees appointed under Standing Order No. 47. a Standing Committee shall be appointed for the consideration of all Bills relating exclusively to Scotland which may by Order of the House be committed to them, and that the provisions of Standing Order No. 17 shall apply to the said Standing Committee:
That the said Standing Committee do consist of all the Members representing Scottish constituencies, together with fifteen other Members to be nominated by the Committee of Selection, who shall have power from time to time to discharge the Members so nominated by them, and to appoint others in substitution for those discharged:
That Standing Orders Nos. 49 and 50 do apply to the said Standing Committee."—(Sir G. Trevelyan.)
And which Amendment was, to leave out from the word "That," to the end of the Question, in order to add the words—
This House declines to sanction, in regard to Bills relating to one portion only of the United Kingdom, any plan by which the ancient practice as to the constitution of Committees of this House shall be fundamentally altered until it has had an opportunity of pronouncing upon a general scheme which shall extend a like treatment to Bills relating to each of the other portions of the United Kingdom."—(Mr. A. J. Balfour.)
Question again proposed,
That the words' in addition to the two Standing Committees appointed under Standing-Order No. 47' stand part of the Question.
§ Debate resumed.1488
§ SIR E. CLARKE (Plymouth)
said, he had feared that the resumption of the Debate would be postponed so late that he should have to thank Her Majesty's Government for suspending the Twelve o'Clock Rule in order that his speech might not be interrupted a second time. He had pointed out that among the Scotch Members there were those who did not by education or training represent Scotland, but only the particular constituencies to which they had been elected; and therefore a Committee of Scotch Members would include some whose authority on Scotch affairs was inferior to that of others who were ex-eluded. For instance, there were the two distinguished English lawyers on the other side, the Home Secretary and the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Birrell), both born and educated in England, and both representing Scotch constituencies, If they anted to find real representatives of Scotland—representatives of the great Scotch names of Stuart and Macdonald—one must go to the Tower Hamlets and Shoreditch, and when they had discovered these gentlemen they would probably find them, as upon that night, very active in endeavouring to prevent the people of London from having a proper supply of water. To establish a system of Grand Committees on the principle that those who knew most of the subject to be dealt with should be included, the suggested arrangements would have to be altered. Then, what effect would the establishment of this Scotch Committee have on the composition of the other Grand Committees? No Scotch Member would be able to serve on the Grand Committee on Trade or the Grand Committee on Law, because the duties would clash. Moreover, he ought not to serve on those Committees, even if he were able. The principle laid down by the right hon. Member for East Denbighshire was a true principle, though it carried the right hon. Member further than he realised. The right hon. Member said that if Scotch Members sat on this Scotch Committee they ought not in reason to claim to be represented on other Committees; and the consequence would be that every Scotch Member's name must be struck off those Committees. Then there were Bills concerning the affairs of England 1489 only which were referred to Select Committees. It would be the absolute duty of English Members to take care, if this Scotch Committee were established, to resist every proposal to allow any Scotch Member to sit on any Committee to which an English Bill was referred. He did not look forward with satisfaction to any such innovation upon the Constitution of the Committees of that House, but he maintained that that would be the natural and necessary consequence of the separate proposals which the Government had put before them. If they were to have the Scotch Committee constituted in this way, and if they were to have these corresponding changes in the other Committees, he wished to ask the Government what was their reason for proposing these changes. Let it be supposed that this now Scotch Committee was constituted, and that there had been referred to it some measure exclusively relating to Scotland. If that measure were absolutely non-contentious and did not raise any of the political controversies which were to be found in Scotland as well as in this country, he admitted that such a Bill might pass through the Committee without difficulty. But such a Bill would pass through any of the ordinary Grand Committees of the House with equal facility. But if the Bill partook of another character and involved matter of political antagonism, what would be gained by referring such a measure to this Scotch Committee? If such a Bill were referred to an ordinary Grand Committee representing in a smaller area, but in due proportion, the different sections of the House, the House would, of course, accept the decision of the Committee. But supposing that the Bill were referred to the proposed Scotch Committee, which had not the advantage of representing all sections of the House, and supposing the views of the minority were overborne by the vote of the majority, was it to be supposed that the minority would not appeal to the House against the decision of the majority? Therefore, at the Report stage of the measure every controversial question would be raised again and discussed in the House, with the result that the whole time that had been occupied in considering the Bill in Committee would be entirely wasted. If that were 1490 the case he should like to ask Her Majesty's Government bow far their present proposal was a practical one, and how far it was likely to conduce to the forwarding of the business of the House? He, however, did not think that he could attribute to the Government any desire to increase the speed of general legislative work in that House, or to relieve the House from any of the difficulties which the present Rules of Procedure imposed upon it. It was only the other evening that the Government had used their influence and had employed their Whips to defeat a proposal to inquire what means could be devised for expediting the business of the House. It must therefore be assumed that the Government had no real desire to secure that object in making this proposal. What, then, could be the object of the Government in sacrificing one of the golden weeks of their Session in discussing this proposal? They would have to obtain from the House a specific sanction for the reference of that Bill to the Scottish Committee, so that they would not be at the end of their labours when they had succeeded in passing the Resolution through the House. But let him suggest this to them also, that on the question of the time it would take to get Scottish legislation through they had to take into account, first, the time it took to pass this Resolution: secondly, the time, in regard to the reference of any Bill to any Standing Committee, in discussing the question of the exclusion of the Scotch Members from the Committee, the time that would be taken up for referring Bills to the Scotch Committee, and, lastly, the time that would be occupied in the appeal that would be made from the Scotch Committee to the House. When these matters were considered the Government would find that from the point of view of business their proposal was extremely unwise. They would find that it would cost a great deal more time than it was likely to save them in dealing with Scottish business. But there was just one other matter he should like to refer to. This subject had been put before the House by the Secretary for Scotland in a modest speech in which he spoke of it as merely a means of dealing with the business of the House. But there had not only been that remarkable incident, 1491 but there had been a Debate on Scotch Home Rule, and the Secretary for Scot-laud, who on Monday proposed the present Motion as a "practical and workmanlike measure," on the following evening gave himself the pleasure of supporting an unpractical and unworkman like measure—in which he had not the support of his Chief in the House and, so far as they knew, had not the support of his Chief in the Government—for giving Home Rule to Scotland. The sequence of the incidents was very interesting and curious. In his speech on Home Rule the Secretary for Scotland changed the position of this question from one merely of an arrangement of business into one of the existence of the Government. For he said—The Government were determined to carry the Grand Committee through as far as they could by every means they could employ, and by staking everything upon it.It was a very curious situation that Parliament had been in during the present week. They all greatly regretted and sympathised with the cause which prevented the Leader of the House from being in his place to-night; but he hoped, in the right hon. Gentleman's absence, some one Member on the Treasury Bench would be good enough to supplement the speech which the Secretary for Scotland made on Monday evening, and tell them something in the way of explanation of the speech he made on Tuesday. It really looked as if there were two Parties on that Bench. They did not sit there at the same time, but some were in at one time and some at another. There was the Leader of the House, who did not vote in favour of Scottish Home Rule, and who, so far as they knew, was, like the head of the Government, not very enthusiastic about Home Rule at all. But there were two other Members who, having in their official capacity given their support to the "workmanlike, practical proposal" on the Monday, in a sort of unofficial capacity enjoying themselves in the absence of their Chief, on the Tuesday evening, took their share of the operation which he would not support, and voted in favour of Home Rule for Scotland. Surely they were entitled to know what it was that was the policy of the Government. Were they going in for Home Rule all round? (Cries of "Yes!"] There were some 1492 sponsors, it appeared, ready to answer for the Government, but the Government were not inclined to answer so promptly for themselves. Home Rule for Ireland they accepted long ago for various reasons. The question of Home Rule for Scotland was at present only a subject out of which to extract amusement on a Tuesday evening. Was it to be an integral part of the policy of the Party they represented?
§ SIR E. CLARKE
Somebody said "Yes"; he should think it was a Welshman. Gallant little Wales was only waiting its turn to claim a Parliament in some part of the Principality—after civil war, he should think, because it would require civil war to decide in what part of Wales that Parliament should be situated. Could they not know what it was the Government were proposing to do? If their policy was a policy of Home Rule all round; if they were gradually being led and pressed on to accept bit by bit that enormous policy, what possible excuse had they for occupying the time of the House of Commons by discussing proposals of the kind, and what excuse had they for not going with the Opposition to the masters of all of them—the people outside in the constituencies—and setting their proposals before them? They knew that to indulge in this policy of reticence and gradual acquiescence would be of no use. They knew that no scheme of Home Rule for either country could possibly pass into law until there had been a specific declaration of the people on the point. If that were so, it was right that they should make an appeal to the people. It was a pity for their own sake that they should waste time over the discussion of this proposal and over the solution of the many difficulties which its acceptance would bring upon them if they were meditating the adoption of a policy so much larger, and a policy that would absolutely swamp and obliterate the necessity for this. It might be that they had persuaded themselves that, while a Scottish Grand Committee would for certain purposes be a good thing, it would in their judgment be a better thing to have a Scottish Parliament in Scotland itself, and that the distinguished Scotchmen whom now 1493 they were so glad to see on the Treasury Bench should take themselves to the North of the Tweed and occupy positions in a less important and even in a provincial Parliament; that might be their wish, but he thought the House was entitled to know it; and until the Government gave the House their plan and their policy on that point he thought he was entitled to point out to them that the proposal they had made to the House was one which would alter the whole system of Committee representation, which would introduce an entirely new principle of voting and estimating the position of the Members of the House, which would give the Government no advantage in non-contentious Scottish business, which would be rather a hindrance than an advantage on contentious Scottish Bills, and which could only result in a serious expenditure of the time of which they had none too much to spare, and which had not been supported in the House by any argument which could justify its acceptance.
§ SIR C. CAMERON (Glasgow, College)
said, it might conduce to a saving of the time of the House if the discussion were brought back from the realms to which the imagination of gentlemen opposite had carried it into the business sphere embraced by the Resolution. They were not discussing Home Rule for Scotland, or anything that had anything to do with Home Rule. [Opposition laughter.] Of course, Members opposite laughed, but he thought they would probably admit that he knew more about the feeling of Home Rulers in Scotland than they did. He certainly said that if they (the Home Rulers) were offered this proposal as a substitute for what they intended to demand they would not take it. It had been said that some two or three years ago he described the proposal of a Scottish Grand Committee as a "peddling and pottering" proposal. He had only so described it as a substitute for Home Rule. He said it would be no substitute for Home Rule. It would be absolutely unworkable under certain circumstances, and it was put forward under present circumstances and in the present Session as a business proposal which would work perfectly well. It was more for the benefit of the House than of the Scotch Members, because certain business had to be got through, and whether 1494 it was done in the time of the House or in the time of a Committee made very little difference to the Scotch Members individually. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. A. J. Balfour) had said that the proposal of the Government was a plan by which the ancient practice as to the constitution of the Committees of the House would be fundamentally altered. There were, however, no traditions concerning Grand Committees which had not vet been 10 years in existence. The constitution of Committees had been for very many years back not at all antagonistic to the vast preponderance of those belonging to the nationality concerned in a Bill. In 1878 a very contentious measure, the Sunday Closing (Ireland) Bill, was referred to a Select Committee. That Committee consisted of 12 Irish Members, the Irish Secretary, one Scotch Member—himself—and one English Member. What was that but a miniature Irish Grand Committee? Of course, it might be said that as this Committee was constituted for the purpose of collecting evidence it had a different function from that possessed by Scotch Grand Committees. A Scotch Committee was constituted on similar lines to consider the Burgh Police and Health (Scotland) Bill. Only a single English Member had a seat upon that Committee. The House was now asked to sot up a Committee which would be in entire accord with its ancient practice, as far as it was illustrated by the Committees to which he had alluded. That Committee would be in accord with the political views of Her Majesty's Government and their supporters. It would work perfectly well under the circumstances. The hon. and learned Gentleman who had just sat down had said that if the Grand Committee were set up Scotch Members must necessarily be excluded from other Grand Committees. Why should they be? There was nothing of the sort in the Resolution. The Committee of Selection had their instructions as to the Grand Committees on Trade and Law, and he supposed they would continue to follow them. Of course, Members could not be on two Committees at the same time, but did anyone imagine that all the Members of any Grand Committee were always present at the meetings of that Committee? As a matter of fact, the difficulty in many 1495 cases was to get a quorum. It was said that if a Scotch Grand Committee were appointed, a Welsh Committee and an English Committee would also have to be set up. There was nothing about that in the Resolution. A Scotch Committee had been asked for repeatedly by the Scotch Members, but the Welsh Members had never asked for a Welsh Committee. The reason was obvious. The Welsh Members were going to occupy a large portion of the time of the Session by the discussion of a Bill which could not be referred to a Welsh Committee, inasmuch as it concerned England as well as Wales. As to the English Members there had never been beard a word of any possibility of such a demand being made by them until it was brought forward to prevent the Scotch Members getting what they wanted. It was said that the proposal would not effect any saving of time, because whenever a minority were beaten in the Grand Committee they would appeal to the judgment of the House. Did any Member who was not absolutely unsophisticated and unused to the wiles of the House not know that whenever there was a chance of a minority overturning the verdict of a majority they appealed to the whole House on the Report, but did anyone imagine that in the case of a contentious Bill which had gone before a Grand Committee anything would be gained by a long discussion on the Report? He thought that the adoption of the Grand Committee system would result in the saving of a very large amount of time that would otherwise be consumed in Committee of the whole House. No doubt under certain circumstances the system would not work. A national Committee of which the majority of Members were opposed to the Government of the day would certainly not work, inasmuch as the Government would be obliged to reverse the decisions come to in Committee. When he said the Resolution had nothing to do with Home Rule he was laughed at, but he asserted emphatically that it would never be considered as in any way removing a single ground on which the demand was made for Scottish Home Rule. Among the Scottish Members there was a large standing majority of Liberals, and when a Liberal Government was in power a Grand 1496 Committee of such Members would work. When, however, a Conservative Government was in power, it would be impossible for a Scottish Grand Committee to work, and under such circumstances no one would want to appoint one. The Resolution, he was informed, only amounted to a Sessional Order, and he presumed that gentlemen opposite did not intend to cross the floor during the present Session. If and when they did cross the floor it would be for them to manufacture their own Standing Committee in such a way that they would facilitate the work of Parliament, and be consistent with the existence of a Conservative Government. When Mr. J. H. A. Macdonald was Lord Advocate he called a meeting of the whole of the Scotch Members in order to ascertain their views on a certain Bill, thus practically constituting a Scotch Grand Committee. The result was a great saving of the time of the House, although the Scotch Members gained nothing by it, because in the Lords all the Government Amendments objected to by the majority of the Scotch Members were inserted. The Scotch Members now wished for a Grand Committee, because they believed it would enable their business to be done more satisfactorily, as it would do away with the necessity of being content with odds and ends of time for their measures. They were willing to inflict greater labour upon themselves, and he did not see how anyone could object to that. As to taking the control of Scotch matters out of the hands of the House, that was an absurdity, inasmuch as all Bills would first be dealt with in the House that would be sent back to the House for the Report stage and Third Reading. Under these circumstances, he could not conceive how any fair-minded or impartial man could object to a proposal so moderate in its character. As to taking Scottish matters in any way outside the House, that was an absurdity. The Bill had to be ordered to go to the Committee, it had to come back here on Report, it had to go through the Third Reading. As well might they accuse a previous Conservative Government in appointing a Select Committee to consider Bills of going on to a Separatist route as accuse this Government of now making a proposal which had any tendency in that direction. He trusted they would discuss this matter on its merits, and 1497 without reference to Scottish Home Rule. To show the spirit in which the Scottish Members had asked this scheme, be might mention he was the medium through which their resolution on this subject was conveyed to the head of the Government. The resolution ran thus—That pending the concession of Home Rule to Scotland we consider that it is hopeless to look for any Scottish business being got through, or that the hope is futile of any Scottish business being got through, unless we get such a Committee as it is proposed to appoint.There was one direction in which he thought the right hon. Gentleman's (Sir G. Trevelyan) Resolution could be improved. That was to do away with the part of it providing for a Motion of reference in the case of every separate Bill, for that gave only another stage in which obstruction could take place, not at the cost of the Scotch Members only, but of the time of the House. He suggested that the right hon. Gentleman might, therefore, as well take this opportunity to improve the Resolution by adopting the Amendment of which notice had been given by his hon. Friend the Member for Caithness.
§ * LORD G. HAMILTON (Middlesex, Ealing)
I rise to move the Adjournment of this Debate. I have sat for 20 years in this House, and I will undertake to say that the oldest Member of the House never can recollect an occasion upon which the House has been treated with such scant courtesy as they have been now. After what has occurred during the last three days, the conduct of the Government is an outrage upon all the decencies of Debate. On Monday the Scottish Secretary made a proposal which reversed the whole principle on which from time immemorial the Committee——
§ LORD G. HAMILTON
Then why do not the Government argue it? On Monday the Scottish Secretary asked the House to assent to the novel and, to our mind, dangerous principle as regarded the constitution of Committees—that is to say, to substitute the principle on which they have hitherto been nominated of reflecting the general opinion of the House for the principle of nationality, and yet, when we are told this evening that this was done in order to satisfy the "deep-rooted convictions of the Scottish people," the only hon. Member who has 1498 spoken to-night on behalf of this proposal says that the great merit of the proposal is that it is a Sessional Order, and that if a Unionist Government came into power he should not want this principle to continue. Then, on Tuesday we had the still more remarkable performance of the Scottish Secretary. He induced the House to accept the principle of Home Rule for Scotland—practically Home Rule all round. On the night preceding not one single Cabinet Minister attempted to take part in the discussion. My right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition made a speech which everybody must admit was worthy of reply. My right hon. Friend on Tuesday again followed the Scotch Secretary, and again he pointed out the utter absurdity and inconsistency of the position the Government have taken up with regard to Scotch business. To-night, again, my hon. and learned Friend the late Solicitor General has made a masterly speech, showing the inconsistency of the proposal, and how utterly unpractical and unworkable it would be; but in reply we have not had a single, solitary word from the Government. Her Majesty's Government either make this proposal seriously or they do not. Do they know their own mind? If they know their own mind, they are bound to communicate what is in their mind to the House. If they do not know their mind, then it is a farce and a sheer waste of time to go on with this Debate. We have a special right to insist on declining to go on with the discussion until the Government clearly tell us what they intend to do. It was by the courtesy of the Opposition that the Government were able to get through their business before Easter. They bring forward this proposal with the most inadequate explanation. The Minister who made that proposal changed his mind the next night. The Leader of the House had been absent on all occasions on Monday, Tuesday, and to-night. [Mr. J. MORLEY interpolated an explanation which did not reach the Reporters' Gallery.] I apologise. I was not aware until this moment of the cause of the right hon. Gentleman's absence to-night. No other Minister has attempted to take the right hon. Gentleman's place on any one of these occasions. Under these circumstances, what is the use of continuing the Debate? I therefore move the Adjournment, in the hope that when 1499 the House meets again we may have a clear indication of what the Government intend; and when we have got that indication I hope they will adhere to it.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Lord G. Hamilton?)
§ MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
The noble Lord has given us one evidence to-night that he is of Scotch ex-traction, because he has no occasion to call on Providence to give him a good conceit of himself. For what is the noble Lord's argument in favour of adjourning the Debate? It is that one or two speeches which his colleagues have made on the subject have been so conclusive and unanswerable, and have remained so entirely unanswered, that it is no use attempting to discuss the matter further. ["No!"] What has happened? My right hon. Friend the Secretary for Scotland made on Monday on the part of the Government an explanation of the reasons—[a laugh]—which may not have been satisfactory to the courteous gentleman who laughed—why the Government asked the House to agree to this Resolution. He was followed by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition. That was one speaker against one. In that evening's Debate the late Solicitor General for Scotland spoke and was answered by the Lord Advocate in a speech of great length. The next speech was that of the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite, who has concluded his remarks to-night. Therefore, the only complaint which the noble Lord can make is that no one has risen at once to reply to the late Solicitor General. I will admit the noble Lord into a secret. I intended to speak in this Debate, but I was anxious to know what certain other gentlemen had to say. From the beginning of the Debate it was understood on all hands that the right hon. Members for St. George's, West Birmingham, Bury, the University of London, and I do not know how many more illustrious Members of the Opposition, intended to take part in it. It was only right, therefore, that the Government should wait until some at least of that formidable artillery had been discharged before making any further interposition in the Debate. I deny the right of the noble Lord or any of his colleagues to dictate to Members 1500 of the Government the manner in which we shall conduct our business. Then the noble Lord said that on Tuesday another Debate had been interposed, which altered the character and position of the Resolution now before the House. It would not be within the proper Rules of Debate for me, speaking on the Question of Adjournment, to discuss that matter; but I agree with my hon. Friend who has just previously spoken that the question raised on Tuesday had nothing whatever to do with the question now before the House, which is a proposal to adopt a Sessional Order which we think would be of advantage in expediting and facilitating Scotch business, and would also obtain a better expression and give better weight to Scotch opinion in matters affecting Scotland alone. The Motion on Tuesday was not a Government Motion, but was one of those Motions of private Members on Friday and Tuesday nights, upon which Governments frequently do not think it necessary or right to express an opinion one way or the other. The proposition of the noble Lord is that we should forthwith adjourn the Debate. I am not aware that there is any force in the argument which the noble Lord has adduced which ought to lead the House to adopt that course. I frankly admit that after so large a portion of the time of the House has been to-night so unexpectedly taken up by a lengthened discussion on Private Bills, that the situation is somewhat altered.
§ MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
The Government have no control over the day on which Private Bills can be put down. Therefore, it is not the Government who fixed the day, but the supporters of the noble Lord, whose Bills they were.
§ MR. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
It is the supporters of the noble Lord who can choose the particular day for the discussion of these measures. I freely own that seeing that so large a part of the time of the House was taken up by Private Bills we can hardly expect—especially if all those important gentlemen to whom I have referred are going to favour the House with their views at great length—to conclude this Debate to-night. But the idea of cutting 1501 short the Debate before 12 o'clock—a Debate which has proceeded with perfect regularity and courtesy on the Ministerial side of the House—is a proposal to which the Government cannot possibly assent.
§ Qustion put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 232; Noes 250.—(Division List, No. 16.)
Original Question again proposed,
That the words 'in addition to the two Standing Committees appointed under Standing Order No. 47 stand part of the Question.
§ SIR F. DIXON-HARTLAND
After the Division which has just taken place, the Government must see how useless it is to attempt to continue the Debate. Therefore I beg to move the Adjournment of the House.
§ Motion made, and Qustion proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—(Sir F. Dixon-Hartland.)
MR. J. MORLEY
We are unable to assent to the Motion of the hon. Member. The noble Lord who moved the Motion before this said he had for a long; time been a Member of this House, and in the name of the decencies of Debate he moved the adjournment of it. I have not been so long in this House as the noble Lord, but I venture to say, when I review the circumstances of to-night, that so great an outrage on the usages and proprieties of Debate in this House has never been witnessed as the attempt, of hon. Gentlemen opposite at this moment under those circumstances to stop the Debate. [Laughter.] Let me remind hon. Gentlemen who laugh—perhaps they have not been in the House—of the circumstances. Owing to circumstances over which the Government had no control, it was impossible to renew the discussion of the Motion before the House until, I think, 25 minutes to 11. [Several hon. MEMBERS: A quarter to 11.] I was in the House all the night, and I think that is so. The hon. and learned Gentleman concluded his speech. He was followed by my hon. Friend the Member for the College Division of Glasgow; and then, at 25 minutes to 12, because no Member on this Bench gets up of equal Parliamentary rank, as my right hon. Friend the Secretary for War has shown, to reply, we are denounced for outraging the decencies of Debate by the noble Lord. I can only repeat what I have said, that 1502 if these tactics are to be persevered in they shall be persevered in, and persevered in long enough to mark them before the country.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
If I may judge from obvious signs the temperature of the House has risen to a very un-necessary pitch. I do not follow the reasoning of the right hon. Gentleman, whose anger is entirely thrown away upon the House at this late hour. I really would respectfully suggest that we should consider the situation in a spirit of calmness. What has happened is this: On Monday a Debate of very great importance, in the opinion of those on this side of the House, and one involving- very grave issues of Parliamentary practice, was commenced by the Secretary for Scotland, in a speech which had many merits, but which amongst its merits had not the merit of discussing the question from a broad and Imperial point of view. We on this side tried to lay before the House certain arguments, with the object of showing that you could not deal with this as a measure relating to the Scotch measures alone. Perhaps feebly, I myself sought on Monday to put this view forward, and not only has no reply been made, but no reply has even been attempted. [Ministerial cries of "The Lord Advocate."] I hear the Lord Advocate mentioned, and I have a profound respect for that right hon. and learned Gentleman. I have the honour also to belong to the same clan as he does. He is a lawyer of great experience, he is one of our old Parliamentary friends, and is equally respected by both sides of the House, but he would, I am sure, be the last one to get up in this House and contend that in his speech be had attempted to go beyond the purely Scotch aspect of this problem, or had endeavoured to touch the larger question which we have endeavoured to bring before the House. What the Lord Advocate has failed to do no other Member of the Government has even attempted to do. Nevertheless, my hon. and learned Friend (Sir E. Clarke), who began a speech on Monday which must have impressed everybody, concluded that speech to-night, and sat down at a time when it is usual and convenient that a Parliamentary authority of the first rank should reply, and yet no Minister rose to do so, and the hon. and learned Gentleman's speech is left abso- 1503 lutely unanswered by any responsible Member of the Government. The only endeavour to deal with that speech was made by an independent Scotch Member, who treated the subject from a purely Scotch point of view, and did not attempt to deal with the broad question. Have not the Opposition, therefore, even with some heat, the right to say that this is not the proper mode of treating a great question? That was the justification which my noble Friend had in moving the adjournment, and I suggest to the Government, even if they are disposed to take no further part in the Debate, even if they are anxious to rest their whole case on the speech of the Secretary for Scotland, that they should allow us to adjourn to-night until some other gentlemen may have an opportunity of laying their views before us. I hope before the resumption of the Debate the Government will have considered the subject, and will have discovered that it is not purely a Scottish question, but that it is of interest to England, Wales, and Ireland, and that some Minister will come forward and give us the views of the Government on the broader aspects which the question presents. We must all feel that we can hardly enter into one of these painful contests at this time of night, with Parties as evenly divided as they appear to be, with any prospect of bringing our discussion to a conclusion either creditable to the House or improving to the prospects of future legislation. Whether there was any heat before the late Division or not, that is all over now, and the time has come, I hope, when we may part with mutual goodwill, to meet again in a frame of mind suited to the discussion of what is, after all, a not unimportant Constitutional question.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 231; Noes 246.—(Division List, No. 17.)
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ MR. HANBURY (Preston)
said, the vote that had just taken place showed that the majority in favour of continuing the Debate was becoming smaller and smaller, and as it was admitted that the discussion must go over to another day, there was no object in carrying it further now. He therefore moved the adjournment of the Debate.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. Hanbury.)
MR. J. MORLEY
If the interruption which has just now come to an end had not taken place—that is to say, if the noble Lord had not made his Motion for the adjournment five minutes less than an hour ago—gentlemen opposite would by this time have had their desire fulfilled and would have heard a Cabinet Minister, and we should have at this hour willingly consented to the adjournment of the Debate, and we should have avoided all that rise of temperature which the right hon. Gentleman opposite deprecated. It is not our fault that these desirable results have been missed. But, having regard to the hour, the Government will now no longer resist the adjournment of the Debate.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Debate adjourned till To-morrow.