§ On the Order of the Day for going into Committee upon this Bill,
§ * MR. SPEAKER
said: The Instruction standing upon the Paper in the name of the hon. Baronet the Member for North-East Manchester is not in Order. The Bill is one for giving greater protection to those employed in industrial employments involving risks, and to expand by instruction the operation of the Bill to all cases of sudden death without reference to risk of employment of any kind would be going quite outside anything relevant to the Bill.
§ * THE LORD ADVOCATE (Mr. J. B. BALFOUR, Clackmannan and Kinross)
in moving—That the Order be discharged, and that the Bill be committed to the Standing Committee on Scotch Bills,said that this was one of the Bills which was mentioned in the discussion on the 775 Motion for setting up a Standing Committee on Scotch Bills, as proposed to be referred to it, and he did not think that any objection would now be taken to the reference of the Bill to that Committee. He begged to move the Motion which stood on the Paper in his name.
§ * SIR CHARLES PEARSON (Edinburgh and St. Andrew's Universities)
said, that he did not rise to oppose the Motion. At the same time, he thought that the House was entitled to some further explanation from the Government than the reason given by the Lord Advocate. He wished to know why the procedure which was taken two years ago in reference to a similar Bill was now being departed from. The Bill to which he alluded was referred to the Standing Committee on Law, which was composed largely of lawyers versed in the law and practice of Scotland, England, and Ireland, and he should not have been averse to having the light of the experience of those hon. and learned Gentlemen thrown on a Bill of this kind. The Scotch Committee did not appear to him to be specially fitted for the consideration of this Bill. The Bill was to a certain extent a lawyer's Bill, because it affected legal procedure in Scotland, and the duties and procedure of the Crown Office in that part of the United Kingdom. He was afraid that the course which the Government were taking in this matter indicated some distrust of the Standing Committee on Law, which was, in his opinion, one of the strongest Committees of the House.
§ * THE LORD ADVOCATE
said, that the answer he had to give to the right hon. Gentleman was a very simple one. In 1893, when the reference of an analogous Bill was made to the Standing Committee on Law, the Standing Committee on Scotch Bills unfortunately did not exist, or else he had no doubt that that Bill would have been referred to it. The Government not being able to get what they regarded as the best tribunal, were obliged on that occasion to accept the second best, namely, the Standing Committee on Law. His right hon. Friend, in saying that the Standing Committee on Scotch Bills were not well versed in law was doing a great injustice to that Committee and also to himself as a Member of it, because there 776 were on that Committee a large number of distinguished members of the English as well as of the Scotch Bar, and therefore he did not think that the Committee would fail for want of legal talent and experience. He could scarcely imagine any Bill that could be more appropriately referred to the Standing Committee on Scotch Bills, than the present one, seeing that the promoters of the measure would have the advantage of the views of all the Scotch Members with regard to it, together with the very valuable assistance of the other hon. Members who had been added to the Committee.
§ MR. J. H. DALZIEL (Kirkcaldy Burghs)
said, that he could not allow the present Motion to pass without drawing attention to the state of affairs that existed with regard to the Bill of two years ago. When that Bill came back to the House no further progress was made with it in consequence of an Amendment being put down with regard to trial by jury, as the Government could not undertake to give time for the discussion of that Amendment. If the Government attached any importance to the question of trial by jury he thought that it was due to the Standing Committee on Law, and to the people of Scotland interested in the question that the few hours which were necessary for discussing the question should have been found for the consideration of the Amendment which was embodied in the present Bill in Committee of the whole House. He hoped that the present Bill would meet with the fate of its predecessor arising from the same cause.
§ MR. J. PARKER SMITH (Lanark, Partick)
said, that this Bill was of an extremely technical character, and there was not the slightest chance of a large number of the Members of the Standing Committee on Scotch Bills taking part in the discussion upon it. He thought that the Standing Committee on Law would have been a more satisfactory one to which to remit the measure, but as they now had the Scotch Committee, he supposed that they must send something to it.
§ MR. G. C. T. BARTLEY
remarked that when this Bill came back to the House he presumed that some discussion of its provisions would be required. He wished to know whether the Government really intended to provide 777 time for that discussion. He found that the Government had already got down 19 Bills of importance on the Paper for Second Reading.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! This hardly arises out of the question whether the Bill is to go to the Committee of the whole House or to the Scotch Grand Committee.
§ MR. BARTLEY
said, that the argument he was pressing was this, that if the Bill was to go to the Scotch Grand Committee on the understanding that when it came back it was to be discussed, time would be gained by allowing it to go before the Committee of the whole House at once rather than to send it to the Scotch Grand Committee.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
That argument applies equally whether it goes to the Scotch Grand Committee or to the Committee of the whole House.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ * THE LORD ADVOCATE
said, they hoped it would meet next week, but they must see the state of the Committee and the work going on there.