HC Deb 12 February 1896 vol 37 cc166-8

THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR, Manchester, E.): moved— That no Bills, other than Government Bills, be introduced in anticipation of the ballot, and that all Members who desire to ballot, whether for Bills, or Motions, for the first four Tuesdays of the Session, do hand in their names at the Table during the sitting of the House on the first or second day of the Session, and that a copy of such Notices be handed in at the latest during the sitting of the House on the third day of the Session. That the ballot for the precedence of the said Bills and Motions be taken on the third day of the Session at a convenient time and place to be appointed by Mr. Speaker. He said that if it should commend itself to the House at large it would probably be advisable that he should propose that his Resolution should be made a Standing Order.

MR. T. M. HEALY (Louth, N.)

said that he would not oppose a Motion that was put down for the general convenience of private Members, but it must be clear to everyone that at present legislation by private Members was an impossibility. ["Hear, hear!"] What he would suggest was that, instead of making the Motion a Standing Order, precedence should be given on Wednesdays to any private Member's Bill which had passed a Second Reading. He should in this view suggest the adoption of some such words as these at the end of the right hon. Gentleman's Motion— That, all Bills which have passed a Second Reading shall have precedence all through the Session on Wednesdays over Bills at less advanced stages. He did not suppose that the House would assent to this proposal at once, but the whole Wednesday's proceedings at present were a mere performance, and nothing came out of them. He would ask the right hon. Gentleman not to move that the Resolution should be made a Standing Order of the House. ["Hear, hear!"]

SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucester, Forest of Dean)

, as the Mover of the Resolution as to Rills after Whitsuntide, just alluded to by the hon. and learned Member, on Sir Stafford Northcote's Committee in the 1874 Parliament, strongly supported the suggestion which had just been made by the hon. and learned Member behind him. It would carry out what was the real intention of the House in accepting the Resolution of Sir Stafford Northcote's Committee.

SIR THOMAS LEA (Londonderry, S.)

also asked the Government to give the House some promise that they would not appropriate Wednesdays immediately after Whitsuntide, because, unless such undertaking were to be given, it would be utterly useless for private Members to introduce Bills at all. Bills which had been read a second time, sometimes unanimously and sometimes by large majorities, and which were even adopted by the Government, were practically lost by the Government taking Wednesdays immediately after Whitsuntide. ["Hear, hear!"]


said, that after what had fallen from hon. Members he would not ask the House to make his Resolution a Standing Order. He would only say that if they were going to alter the rule with regard to Wednesdays they must also alter the whole method of procedure to which private Members were subjected on those days. It was perfectly true that controversial Bills brought in by private Members had but small chance of passing, and that their second reading amounted to very little more than a Resolution by the House in favour of their principle. If the proposed alteration were made it would be necessary to alter the practice of the Closure at half-past Five on Wednesdays.

MR. JAMES LOWTHER (Kent, Thanet)

pointed out that the Closure at half-past Five o'clock on Wednesdays had not been applied invariably in the past. Mr. Speaker Peel gave it as his opinion that Measures of great magnitude should not be disposed of in a single sitting. He mentioned that lest a Measure should be introduced for the abolition of what remained of the British Constitution [laughter], and disposed of in a single afternoon. He thought the suggestion of the hon. Member opposite would carry the privilege given by the fortunes of the ballot very much too far. What was intended by the recommendation was, he imagined, that Bills which had no chance of becoming law should at an advanced period of the Session give place to Bills Which there was some prospect of passing into law.


said that at present there was an ordinary procedure which gave a natural precedence to those Bills which had gained the attention of the House, and he thought the present system was the best.

Motion put and agreed to.


appointed the Standing Committee Rooms for Trade, Nos. 10 and 11, for the Ballot of Bills and Notices of Motion, to be taken on Thursday, 13th February, at Noon.