Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question [9th May]—
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 introduced by a Minister of the Crown relating exclusively to Scotland, which may, by Order of the House,
be committed to them; and that the provisions of Standing Order No. 47 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 regard in such appointment to the approximation of the balance of parties in the Committee to that of the whole House, and who shall have power from time to time to discharge the Members so nominated by them, and to appoint others in substitution of those discharged; that Standing Orders Nos. 49 and 50 do apply to the said Standing Committee."—(Sir George Trevelyan.)
§ Question again proposed:—Debate resumed.
§ DR. CLARK (Caithness)
said, he regretted very much, after the explanation given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that he should require to oppose as strongly as he could the setting up of this Grand Committee. He did so on two grounds—firstly, because it would be a reactionary measure; and secondly, because the course to be pursued would retard the progress of the Crofters' Bill, in which he was much interested. He should like to say a word about the position of Parties in relation to the Government. When in 1888 the late Government proposed to set up Grand Committees he and his friends agreed to the present Grand Committee, and they endeavoured to set up two Grand Committees on the principle of nationality. They proposed to have a Grand Committee for Scotland and one for Wales. They lost the Scotch Grand Committee by a fair majority, and the Welsh Committee by a majority of some half-a-dozen. Though the late Government objected to these Special Grand Committees, they recognised practically the principle of nationality in carrying out their business. The Burgh Police and Health (Scotland) Act in 1888 was referred to a Committee composed of 25 persons. Of these, 21 were Scotch Members, three were Scotchmen who had been Scotch Members, and one was an English Member, the hon. Baronet the Member for Wigan, who was nominated on the Committee as an expert, having great knowledge of municipal government. There was, therefore, a preponderance of 24 Scotchmen out of 25 on that Committee. In 1890 this doctrine of nationality made still further progress. A Bill was introduced to re-model the Scotch system of 172 police superannuation, and was sent before a special Committee. How was it proposed to constitute that Committee? Twenty-one Scotch Members were put down for nomination by the ex-Lord Advocate—not a single English, or Irish, or Welsh Member. That showed that the chief Scotch authorities of that day were in favour of devolution of the basis of nationality. One of the Scotch Members originally named for nomination was the Solicitor General for Scotland, but he was made a judge, and in his place the name of the hon. Member for Ipswich was proposed, he having been at one time a Scotch Member. That was the position as far as the late Government were concerned. What did the present Chancellor of the Exchequer and his colleagues do. Objecting on principle to the mode of constituting this Committee, an Amendment was moved in their behalf by the present Civil Lord of the Admiralty, proposing that there should be a Grand Scotch Committee, consisting of the 72 Members for Scotland. The present Chancellor of the Exchequer, the present Secretary for Scotland, the present Lord Advocate, the present Minister for Agriculture, and other right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Ministerial Bench, who were in the House at the time, all voted for the Amendment, which, however, was defeated by a small majority. But the Liberal Party pledged itself to the principle of that Amendment. A memorial, signed by the Scotch Liberal Members, had been sent to the Government this Session, asking that all Scotch Bills, after the First Reading, might be sent to a Scotch Grand Committee, and that the stages of Second Reading, Committee, and Report should be dealt with there. He did not sign the memorial himself, because he thought it would be as difficult for the Government to grant that demand as to grant Home Rule for Scotland, and if there was to be a contest he preferred to fight for the greater issue. After the memorial had been considered, a compromise was suggested, and the Government proposed to constitute a Scotch Grand Committee for the Committee Stages of Bills. That was objected to on the other side, and then the Chancellor of the Exchequer who voted, in 1890, for the Amendment of the Civil Lord of the Admiralty, 173 turned round and took up a different position, proposing that 15 English Members should be added to the Committee, which addition would be quite enough to take from it the element of nationality. But he understood that now a great many more English Members were to be added. The Committee was not to be a Scotch Committee at all, but what was called a microcosm of the House. The Committee was to be dominated by Englishmen. [At this point the result of the Warwick and Leamington Election was made known in the House, and received with Opposition cheers.] Hon. Gentlemen opposite wore cheering on account of news which they had heard. Results of the kind were only to be expected when their Leaders did not act with spirit. If the Ministerial Party were dispirited in that House their constituents would be dispirited also. If their Leaders would give way to the Opposition and allow the Opposition to dominate and master them, nothing else could be expected than results of the kind. How would the last plan of the Government with regard to the constitution of this Committee work out? At the present time there were 48 Liberal Members returned from Scotland and 24 Unionists, that was to say, the Liberals were as two to one. But if 20 English Members were added to the Committee, as proposed, there would he a Unionist strength of 44, and the Liberals would only have a majority of four. But would that be a real, effective majority? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Midlothian would be a Member of the Committee, but he had not attended the House for some months, so that it was not likely that he would attend the Committee. Then there were two Secretaries of State, the Attorney General, the President of the Board of Trade, and the Civil Lord of the Admiralty. Their official work would prevent them from attending. Last year they only attended the Committee once, and that was only when the Secretary for Scotland accepted the Amendment of a Unionist Member, and called them in to vote against the Liberal Members for Scotland. The Government were now going to set up a Unionist Grand Committee, and he for one, as a practical man, objected to any such Committee. If it had been even an 174 ordinary Grand Committee he would have objected just as much, because any Member might make the Motion to send the Bill to an ordinary Grand Committee; and in that respect again this was a retrograde proposal. The Government did not propose to set up a Committee similar to the Grand Committees on Law and Trade. Only a Minister of the Crown was to have the right of sending a Bill to this Committee, and if it were only on account of that limitation the Committee ought not to be appointed. Another reason against it was that they were told that only non-contentious Bills were to be sent to it. Non-contentious Bills were as a rule passed after Twelve o'clock, or after Half-past Five on Wednesdays, and did not require to be sent to such a Committee; and now, if the Chancellor of the Exchequer proposed to send a Bill to it, hon. Gentlemen opposite would say it was a contentious Bill, and so it could not be sent up. What was the character of the Bills it was proposed to send up? There was the Fatal Accidents Bill. In principle the Bill passed the House two years ago, and it passed the Committee Stage in the Grand Committee on Law. Therefore there was reason to start a new Committee for purposes of the Bill. Then they were told that the Local Government Bill would probably be sent to the Committee. That was another reason why he opposed the Motion; because if they set up the Committee that night, and the Local Government Bill were referred to it, the unfortunate Crofters' Bill, instead of occupying the first position, would be still further from being passed. But was the Local Government Bill a non-contentious Bill? A day would be required for the Second Heading, and another day for dealing with the Instructions to the Committee. The chances of carrying any Scotch business were being lessened and lessened by the course the Government were taking. There might be another Bill, the Fisheries Bill. The right hon. Gentleman was asked whether the Bill could be sent to the Committee, and he replied that now that the constitution of the Committee had been changed, now that the English element was to be so increased, Bills partly applying to England might be allowed to come before the Committee. 175 But the form of the Motion was the same as last year. The words "exclusively applying to Scotland" were still retained, and when the Fisheries Bill was introduced in the other House it did not exclusively apply to Scotland, though for all he knew it might do so now. He could see no ground why Scotch Members should permit a retrograde movement of this kind, why they should permit this Government to go back more and more every Session and allow what was practically of no use to them to be carried. He could not discuss the statement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer now, but he regretted very much to hear what he said. He regretted the course the right hon. Gentleman had adopted in taking instruction and in being willing to make deals behind the Speaker's Chair when he was Leader of the House. It was high time, he thought, that the right hon. Gentleman should recognise that the Leader of the House should be on the Treasury Bench, and not on the Opposition Bench. He used to accept the pledges of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He knew the right hon. Gentleman made them with the best possible intention, but they all knew of the Twelve o'Clock Rule, and at the end of the Session the right hon. Gentleman would say, "I have done my best, but I cannot help it." The right hon. Gentleman told them last year that this same Bill would be passed, but it was not passed. Two years ago the right hon. Gentleman told them that a Committee to consider the financial relations between England and Scotland would be appointed when the Budget was over, but no Committee was appointed. Last year a similar pledge was given in favour of a Committee on that important question, but the Budget was over and the Session was finished, yet no Committee was appointed. While the Chancellor of the Exchequer might do all he could to carry out his pledges, events were much more powerful than he was; and this unfortunate 176 measure, which might have been passed if it had been referred to the Grand Committee, would fail to pass this year as it did last. He warned the Members of the Cabinet, who are Members for Scotch constituencies, that they were taking note of their continued neglect of Scotch business, and they would hear of it if they did not put pressure upon the Chancellor of the Exchequer to show less contempt for Scotch Measures and Scotch Members.
§ MR. HENEAGE
said, the hon. Member below him admitted that the Scotch Grand Committee ought to be set up for exclusively Scotch business. It was well they should understand clearly what they were about to do. The essential principle of the Resolution was, that the Scotch Grand Committee should be set up for exclusively Scotch legislation, and that there should not be referred to it any Bill including any provisions that affected English trade or fishing. He had already pointed out that there was one Bill bearing a Scottish title which did not relate exclusively to Scotland. There were a number of English and of Irish constituencies that were interested in that Bill; and beyond that, having regard to the International Fisheries Convention, 1882, the questions involved were also British questions. The question was whether the Scotch Fisheries Bill came within the category of those to be referred to the Scotch Grand Committee. If this Resolution was carried in its present shape, he would ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether or not that Bill, which was not exclusively a Scotch Bill, would be sent to that Committee? Although nominally a Scotch Bill, it affected English and Irish interests, and, therefore, it ought not to be sent to the Committee.
§ *MR. BUCHANAN (Aberdeenshire, E.)
said, the last printed form of the Bill contained the statement in Cluse 2 that it should apply to Scotland only and to the parts of the sea adjoining Scotland, and he did not think that words could 177 more clearly indicate that it was an exclusively Scotch Bill. The explanation of the opposition of the hon. Member for Grimsby was accounted for by the fact that the Grimsby trawlers wanted to fish in Scotch waters. Their right to do so was fully recognised, but the Scotch Members maintained that Scotch fisheries should be under the administration of the Scotch Fishery Board, and that Scotch Fishery Bills should be referred to a Scotch Committee. He viewed with great regret the limitations placed upon the work of the Committee, which would have been much more valuable if the Crofters Bill could have been referred to it. There was only two points about it that were contentious—one being the proposed extension of the Measure to several other counties, and the other the question, as to leaseholders; and, if it were sent to the Grand Committee, these points could be discussed afterwards by the House. The details of the Bill could be considered better by the Committee than in Committee of the whole House. He recognised, with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, that, owing to the opposition raised, it was impracticable to refer the Bill to the Committee; and then the question arose whether it was worth while having the Committee or not. [Opposition cheers.] Of course the Opposition did not want any Scotch Bills passed at all. "Oh, oh!"] Although the limitation of the functions of the Committee was not satisfactory, still it was worth while to set it up, because it might be the means of passing two or three useful measures which were before the House. As regarded the Crofters Bill no part of Scotland took a greater interest in it than the constituency which he represented. They looked to obtain the reforms they wished for, but they could not expect to obtain the Bill without full discussion. Considering the attitude the Opposition had taken up the House must recognise that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had come to 178 the only conclusion he could—that it must be discussed in this House. It might be suggested that possibly the setting up of the Committee might indirectly postpone the consideration of the Crofters Bill. The Scotch Members wanted an assurance that at at an early date after Whitsuntide the Second Reading of the Crofters Bill would be taken so that it might be ready for the consideration of the Committee of the House the moment there was an opportunity, and that the Government would pass it this Session, and keep the Session going until they have done their best to pass the Bill through the House.
*MAJOR DARWIN (Lichfield) moved the following Amendment—
Line 7, leave out from 'of,' to 'and,' in line 11, mid insert 'Eighty-seven Members nominated by the Committee of Selection, who shall adjust the relative proportion of parties in the Committee so as to be as far as practicable the same as the relative proportion of parties in the House, and who shall nominate as many Members representing Scottish constituencies as is consistent with this condition.'
He said he was glad the Government had decided not to refer the Crofters Bill to the Committee, for from his experience, to refer contentious Bills to a Grand Committee would be to wreck it altogether. If the Government wished to make this a working reform which could apply to any other Session and form a precedent for future occasions they should accept some words such as those he had proposed. Last Session 15 Members were added to the Committee, and it was distinctly understood that these 15 were to be Unionists added for the sake of re-adjusting the balance of Parties on the Committee of Selection. Hon. Members from Ireland put forward the contention—and he did not dispute their right to do so—that they should be treated as a separate Party, and they demanded one representative, which was granted by the Committee of Selection. If the 15 were increased to 20, as was proposed
this year, what guarantee had they that the 5 additional Members would not be chosen from among the Nationalist Members. It would be a perfectly rational demand on the part of the Irish that those five Members should be Nationalist Members. He had mentioned 87 as the number, because it was the number proposed by the Government themselves. But it was not an essential part of his proposal. The essential part was that the Committee should, under all circumstances, be a reflex of Parties in the House. He had put down his Amendment in the belief that it offered a reasonable compromise to both sides of the House. He thought that the right hon. Gentleman, the Secretary for Scotland, was to be congratulated upon having brought through the Scotch Committee a Bill which placed the Local Government of Scotland upon a proper footing. That, however, did not remove his objection to the proposal of the Government. He contended that the element of nationality ought not to enter so largely into the formation of Committees even in the case of non-contentious Bills, and still less in the case of contentious Bills. He asked the House not to form a precedent in this matter by adopting the proposal of the Government, but he begged to move the Amendment which stood upon the Paper in his name as a reasonable compromise which might be accepted for this Session.
§ *THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Sir WILLIAM HARCOURT, Derby)
I should like to call the attention of the House to the manner in which this matter stands. The hon. and gallant Member who has just moved this Amendment says that it is his desire, by means of that Amendment, to lay down some general principle which shall govern the formation of these Committees hereafter. I do not say that that may not be a proper course to take at some future time, but I do not think that the House is ripe 180 with the experience it had already had to lay down any universal rule upon this matter. Let me remind the House how the question stood the last time we had it under discussion. The Government then proposed the Resolution which now stands for consideration, and undoubtedly the characteristic words of the Resolution were those which the hon. Member now proposes to omit—namely—That the Committee do consist of all the members representing Scotch constituencies.Those words embody the fundamental principle of the proposal of the Government. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham then got up and said that he did not object to the principle of the Resolution as long as it was modified by the Amendment which he proposed—namely, that the word "fifteen" was left out and the word "twenty" substituted for it. The Government accepted that Amendment, and it was understood on the part of the Government that in doing so they were meeting the views of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham. Then arose the question whether or not the Crofters Bill should be referred to that Committee. Objection was taken to that course being adopted on account of the contentious character of that Bill, and the right hon. Member for West Birmingham said—Only tell us that the Crofters Bill shall not he referred to the Committee and we shall be content.Therefore the motion of the Government, with the Amendment we are now prepared to move, was practically accepted on the terms that the Crofters Bill do not go to that Committee. I think that is a fair and correct statement. We admit that the Crofters Bill is of so contentious a character that it could not properly be referred to that Committee, a view confirmed by some of the advocates of the Bill, like my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeenshire. If we are really to carry out what I think has 181 been a fair and honourable understanding in this House, I think the House ought unanimously to agree to this Committee, with the Amendment, and with the understanding that has been come to on the subject of the Crofters Bill. I think that a departure from that would not tend to that reasonable and honourable agreement to an understanding come to, and I think the Government have entirely adhered to the declaration they have made. I cannot help thinking that that is a view which will commend itself to the right hon. Gentleman opposite and the right hon Member for West Birmingham. The Government have endeavoured to act in good faith, and I hope they will have the support of both sides.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN (Birmingham, W.)
Of course, I can only presume to speak for myself and my friends, but I do feel bound to substantially confirm what has fallen from the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer. We took, undoubtedly, two principal objections to the proposal of the Government. The first was that the Committee which he was going to set up was not a reflex of the position of parties in this House, and the second that he was not going to submit to it what he considered to be non-contentious business. I must recognise that the Government have met us with regard to both of those points, absolutely and completely as regards the withdrawing of the Crofters Bill from that Committee. We admit that that is a very great concession, and, as far as I am concerned, I should be ungrateful if I did not do my best under those circumstances to assist the Government in passing the Resolution in its amended form. As regards the first of the points I raised, I think there is a slight misunderstanding; I pointed out that in order that the Committee should be a reflex of the House in the present circumstances it would only be necessary to add five or more Members. My suggestion was not that 182 that should be the form of the Amendment. What I was anxious for was that some Amendment in the form now raised by my hon. Friend should be adopted which would insure that in all such cases these Committees should be a reflex of the House. If the Government do not think it desirable to enter upon the general question, no doubt their proposal will substantially meet this particular case, and, although I would greatly have preferred the Amendment of my hon and gallant Friend, still, considering the circumstances, I should feel disposed to advise him to withdraw it. Originally, no doubt, the idea of the Government was to establish a National Committee, but under existing circumstances the idea of nationality has disappeared. This will not be a national Committee, and if there were an Irish Committee of the same character, still less would it be a National Committee if it were a reflex of the opinion in this House. What, therefore, we are establishing is, I think, a principle of some considerable importance, which can be of advantage, not only to this Government, but to others who may succeed it, and that is the principle of a Committee of experts. We are going to take care that upon a Committee which is to deal with Scotch business there will be a larger proportion of Scotch Members than there would be on an ordinary Committee. That is a very reasonable proposal which does not raise this question of separate nationalities. The business referred to it will be some of it local, some special for one reason or another, and I cannot help thinking that in regard to non-contentious business there may be great advantages in setting up similar Committees. On the whole, therefore, I recommend my hon. and gallant Friend to withdraw his Amendment.
§ MR. ARTHUR J. BALFOUR
I only rise to make two observations. The sort of understanding that passed in the House at question time relative to this matter, referred rather to the time the discussion should take than 183 to whether or not we were obliged to accept the proposal. I believe some of my friends object to the claim of nationality which the amended proposal still embodied, and they are, so far as any arrangement is concerned, at perfect liberty to give expression to their views in the Division Lobby. I cannot help thinking the views of my hon. Friend who moved the Amendment and those of the Government could easily be reconciled by a form of words acceptable to both. The Government are anxious that every Scotch Member should be on the Committee; we are anxious that the Committee should reflect the sense of the House; and I would suggest that a less arbitrary way of arriving at that result would be attained if, after the word "that" in line 8, these words were inserted, "Such other number of Members as may be required to adjust the relative proportions of parties in the Committee so as to be, as far as practicable, the same as the proportion of Parties in the House." That would leave on the Committee every Scotch Member, and it would not have the artificial character of the suggestion of the Lord Advocate, and it would exhibit very clearly upon the proceedings of this House the exact principle which animated us in adding to the number of Scotch Members a number of Members to be chosen by the Committee of Selection.
§ *THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
pointed out that the Amendment of the right hon. Member for Partick to leave out "15" and insert "20" was the one suggested by the hon. Member for West Birmingham for the acceptance of the Government. That was the Amendment which they had agreed to accept. To say that there was to be an indefinite number of Members added would be to change the whole situation, and he therefore hoped the suggestion would not be pressed.
§ MR. CHAMBERLAIN
said, he did not suggest the acceptance of a definite 184 Amendment, but of a principle—namely, that the Committee should be a reflex of the House.
§ MR. BALFOUR
I need hardly say I make no charge against the Government, but I believe the form of words I have suggested is far more definite, and explains on the face of it what is to be done. There is no ambiguity as to the Parties to which Members belong, and the direction which I propose to give by my Amendment could be easily carried out. If, however, the Government insist on their particular form, I will not resist it.
§ *THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR WAR (Mr CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN, Stirling Burghs)
said, the vague form of words suggested by the right hon. Gentleman would undoubtedly be more suitable if this was a Standing Order of the House, because it would be varied from year to year according to the various circumstances of the constitution of the House. But when they were dealing with one individual year, the House was as good a judge as the Committee of Selection of what would most nearly carry out the intention of the House.
§ MR. J. CALDWELL (Mid Lanark)
observed, that the contention of the right hon. Member for West Birmingham and his Friends was that this Scotch Committee should be a reflex of the House and that contentious Bills should not be sent to it. But the reason contentious Measures were not sent to the Grand Committees on Law and Trade was simply because they were not a reflex of the House, but composed of experts in law and trade matters. It was not laid down as essential in the Resolutions appointing these Grand Committees that they should be a reflex of the House, and if the Scotch Committee, therefore, was to be a miniature of the House there would be no justification whatever for excluding any Measure whatever, contentious or otherwise, from such Committee.
§ MR. LEONARD COURTNEY (Cornwall, Bodmin)
pointed out, in reply to 185 the last speaker, that in the Standing Orders relating to the appointment of Grand Committees it was expressly provided that their composition should be a reflex of the division of Parties in the House, and should be a microcosm of the House. With respect to the main question, he was afraid the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in the pursuit of the economy of time, was really losing time. The right hon. Gentleman supposed this matter could be settled at once by assenting to a given number as being adequate, and he rejected the proposal of the hon. Member for Lichfield, which laid down a principle that could be applicable to all future occasions. By so insisting on saving five minutes of the time of the House, the right hon. Gentleman was inviting a recurrence of these Debates whenever in future Sessions they desired to set up a special Grand Committee. The adoption of the proposal of the hon. and gallant Member for Lichfield, would have avoided such discussions in future Or, if the Government had taken the simpler proposal suggested by the right hon. Gentleman opposite—namely, to add such a number as would make the balance of the Grand Committee correspond to the balance of the House, leaving that number to the Committee of Selection to ascertain—they would then have laid down a principle which would guide all future Grand Committees. He would point out that when this question was last under discussion the right hon. Member for West Birmingham insisted that the Grand Committee should be so constituted that it should be a reflex of the opinions of the House. The right hon. Gentleman committed himself to the general principle, the words he used being perfectly definite. He said:—He proposed, if they would accept the principle, that not 15 nor any fixed number of Members should be added to the Committee, but that such a number should be added as would redress the balance and cause the Committee to represent accurately the state of Parties in this House.It was perfectly clear that the right hon. Gentleman made no distinct reference to 186 a special number, but what he desired and insisted upon was the acceptance of the general principle. He regretted that the Motion of the hon. Member for Lichfield should be withdrawn. He thought if the Chancellor of the Exchequer had spent a little more time over it and accepted the proposal, or that of the hon. Member for Leeds, they should have set the principle once for all, and saved themselves from a recurrence of these Debates in future years.
§ *MAJOR DARWIN
said, that after what had fallen from his right hon. Friend, the Member for West Birmingham, he would withdraw the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ *THE LORD ADVOCATE moved the omission of the number "15" from line 8 of the Motion, Order to insert the number "20."
§ MR. BALFOUR
May I ask whether it is proposed to insert in the instruction to the Committee of Selection, in regard to the 20 the same direction as last year in regard to the 15.
§ DR. CLARK
thought that that was not the only matter to which the attention of the Committee of Selection ought to be directed. The Committee of Selection ought also to give their attention to the number of Ministers of the Crown representing Scotland who were Members of the Committee and who would not attend the meetings of the Committee. He had said last year and wished to say again that in a Committee of Scotch Members, if a question were decided by a majority he would be bound by it and would not raise it again in the House. There were three occasions last year when the majority of Scotch Members were overridden by English Members, and if the same thing occurred again this year, and it would occur when they increased the number of Members of other nationalities on the Committee by 25 per cent., the questions 187 in dispute would have to be debated over again in the House. He therefore opposed the Amendment on the ground that it would make the Committee a mongrel Committee, on which the views of the Scotch Members, being in a minority, would be overridden by the votes of Members of other nationalities. To fairly represent the working Scotch Members on the Committee they would have to strike out the Ministers of the Crown, who rarely attended the meetings of the Committee.
§ MR. PARKER SMITH (Lanark, Partick)
agreed with the hon. Member for Caithness that it was useless to keep on the Committee certain Members who could not and certain Members who would not attend the Meetings. He thought the fault of the Committee was that there were already too many Members on it.
§ *MR. WEIR
said, he was greatly disappointed by the weakness shown by occupants of the Treasury Bench. He supposed the right hon. Gentlemen were smarting under the fact that the Unionist majorities were increasing at every election. But they would probably have to taste still more defeat for their want of backbone. The additional five Members would mean that the Tory Party would have a majority on the Committee; inasmuch as the five right hon. Gentlemen on the Treasury Bench who were Members of the Committee, would never attend—although one might have expected them to stand to their guns. Some other gentlemen also who were engaged in the Law Courts, and who thought their fees of more importance than the attendance at the meetings of the Committee would likewise be absent. He thought those five right hon. Gentlemen should be struck off the Committee altogether, as their non-attendance would give a majority on the Committee to the Tory Party.
§ *MR. WEIR moved to add after "House," in line 11, "and the number of Members who sit for Scotland who are Ministers of the Crown." He proposed this Amendment in consequence of the non-attendance of Ministers. The Committee was simply a farce, a sham, and a delusion if right hon. Gentlemen failed to attend.
§ The Amendment was not seconded.
§ Main Question, as amended, put, and agreed to.
§ Ordered, 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 introduced by a Minister of the Crown relating exclusively to Scotland, which may, by Order of the House, be committed to them, and that the provisions of Standing Order No. 47 shall apply to the said Standing Committee; that the said Standing Committee do consist of all the Members representing Scottish constituencies, together with twenty other Members to be nominated by the Committee of Selection, who shall have regard in such appointment to the approximation of the balance of Parties in the Committee to that of the whole House, and who shall have power from time to time to discharge the Members so nominated by them, and to appoint others in substitution of those discharged; that Standing Orders Nos. 49 and 50 do apply to the said Standing Committee.