§ MR. H. HOBHOUSE (Somerset, E.)
I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury if he can now see his way to making arrangements for economising the time of this House at the commencement of next Session by taking the ballot for Notices of Private Members' Bills and (if possible) the formal presentation of such Bills in some other manner than that hitherto customary?
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. E. GLADSTONE,) Edinburgh, Midlothian
I regard the object of my hon. Friend's question with very great sympathy, and I hope that some- 1043 thing may be done. But I need hardly point out that the authority in this matter does not rest with me. On seeing the question on the Paper I thought it my duty immediately to communicate with the Chair, and I believe I am permitted to appeal to you, Mr. Speaker, upon this occasion, and to request you to state how far you may think it possible for the House, without any inconvenience, to go in the direction indicated in the inquiry.
§ *MR. SPEAKER
I was not aware that it would fall to me to answer the question directly, but of course I have considered it, and the right hon. Gentleman was good enough to communicate with me upon the subject. I think there will be no difficulty in the first stage, that of the ballot, for the introduction of Bills. The ballot might take place outside this House, whereby from one to two hours of the time of the House will be saved. With reference to the further question, as to whether it would he possible to extend the same arrangement to the Motion for Leave and the First Reading of Bills when the date is named for Second Reading, I think the fixing the date of Second Reading should take place in the open House. The proceedings on the Order of Leave and on the First Reading are each the act of the House, and I am bound by the Standing Orders. It is obviously very important for hon. Members who wish to choose a clear day to know what date has been fixed for the Second Reading of Bills appointed before their own is called on, and the utmost publicity should be given to that fact. Subject, therefore, to the approval of the House, I propose to carry out the first part of the arrangement, which may be done in the Committee Rooms upstairs, where a sufficient number of clerks might attend for the purpose of duly carrying out what I understand to be the wish of the House.