HC Deb 21 May 1896 vol 41 cc86-90

moved:—"That this House do meet To-morrow at Twelve of the Clock."

MR. LLOYD-GEORGE (Carnarvon Boroughs),

said, that if he was not in order in moving an Amendment he should challenge a Division against the Motion. The course pursued by the Government in calling upon the House to meet at noon on the day of the adjournment for the Whitsuntide Recess was certainly an exceptional one; indeed, he believed it to be absolutely without precedent, except in the case of great congestion of business. He failed to see what necessity there was for pressing the particular Bills named by the First Lord of the Treasury, for not one of which was there any urgency claimed. There was the Conciliation Bill. That was a very important Bill, surely, which ought to be discussed when Members, especially those representing labour interests, were present. It was unfair to put pressure on the House of Commons in this way. The First Lord of the Treasury had stated that they were in for a period of rest; that they were going to have a Parliament where the wicked Radicals would cease from troubling and the weary legislator would be at rest. Instead of that they had been legislating at high pressure, almost in a panic. They had had Motions, once a week or once a fortnight, for the suspension of the Twelve o'clock Rule; they had had Motions to meet at 12 instead of Three; and they had had exceptional Standing Orders brought into force. It was, he thought, high time the House of Commons entered a most emphatic protest against this course of conduct. What it really meant was that the First Lord wanted to screw this Rating Bill through. But what was the urgency for it, even assuming it to be a good Bill? There was plenty of time before August. It was really unfair to visit on the Opposition what was really the fault of the Government themselves in not calling Parliament together earlier and in their mismanagement of public business. He moved to insert "Twelve" instead of "Three."


That is quite unnecessary, because the effect of negativing the Motion will be that the House will meet at Three.


said, that he regarded the proposal made by the Government as entirely unnecessary. There was on great demand for the Bills which were to be put down for to-morrow, and the Motion was quite unusual and unnecessary. He agreed that they were legislating under very great pressure, and the Twelve o'clock Rule bade fairly to become a Standing Order, which was passed simply to be suspended.


The question before the House is not the question of the Twelve o'clock Rule.


said, he was complaining of the business being pressed on by the suspension of the Twelve o'clock Rule, and then for the First Lord to ask them to meet again at Twelve o'clock the same day was a demand on the physical resources of Members which was altogether unreasonable. The Government made no apology and gave no explanation or reason for the course they were taking, and yet the First Lord expected that side to be as complacent as his followers on the other side. The Conciliation Bill, he agreed, was one which ought to be thoroughly discussed, and he would warn the Leader of the House that if he was not careful in this matter there was a possibility of his doing more injury to the Conciliation cause by legislating in haste than the Bill could ever possibly do good. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would make some more reasonable and agreeable arrangement with regard to the business for to-morrow.

SIR JOHN LUBBOCK (London University)

said, he should not have intervened but for the reference of the hon. Members to the Conciliation Bill. It was quite true that this was a Bill that deserved discussion, but he would remind the hon. Members that it had been discussed at considerable length in the House. They had a whole Wednesday's discussion at the beginning of the Session on the Bill, which was introduced by the London Chamber of Commerce, and practically the Bill of the Government only differed in certain minor details from that Bill, which was passed by an unanimous vote of the House. It was very important that the Bill should be got through as soon as possible, in order that it might become law this year, and if they could get the Second Reading to-morrow, they might be able to go into Committee and make progress with it immediately after the House re-assembled.


rose for the purpose of moving, as an Amendment, to leave out all the words after "House" and to insert "at its rising do adjourn until Monday the 1st of June."


The hon. Member will not be in order in moving that. It is not relevant to the Motion before the House.


said, he was sorry he would not be able to move it. He entirely objected to the Motion of the First Lord of the Treasury, largely on the ground of the nature of the business put down for to-morrow. It seemed now to have become a settled custom of the right hon. Gentleman to place all Irish business after 12 o'clock at night. If he had put down for to-morrow the Irish Light Railways Bill or the Irish Labourers' Bill, or had given the Irish Members some bait to induce them to come here at 12 o'clock to-morrow, they might have been disposed to have agreed to the Motion, but he would not give them even an hour or two in daylight. He entered his protest, in the only shape in which he could do it, against the arrangement of business which had been indicated by the right hon. Gentleman.


observed that the hon. Member for East Mayo began by offering the suggestion that they should take no business to-morrow, and then proceeded to complain that the Government had not put down Irish business. [Laughter.] He felt quite sure that had they done so they would have been told that nothing was so inconvenient as putting down Irish business the day before or the day after the holidays, because Irish Members had long distances to travel. Mr. DILLON: "I spoke of non-contentious business."] The hon. Gentleman who opened this Debate appeared to think there was some dark design at the bottom of the scheme of the Government. There was no design at all, except to allow the House to get through stages of Bills the general utility of which was admitted by both sides, and enable hon. Members to get away at a reasonable hour. It was surely no conspiracy against the comfort of hon. Members, or against the liberties of the House as a whole, that he should ask them on the day the holidays commenced to meet at 12 o'clock, so that hon. Members who had a distance to travel might catch the afternoon trains. ["Hear, hear!"] If they were to meet at Three o'clock, the time of an ordinary sitting, many hon. Members would not be able to get away until Saturday. This Motion was put down for the convenience of the House; he believed it was for the convenience of the House, and it was no violation of precedent. ["Hear, hear!"] Everybody must admit there was an immense advantage in having a day devoted to those small matters which were not allowed to come on after midnight because one individual objected, which, nevertheless, were non-party Measures that both sides of the House desired to see passed, but which had little chance of passing at the extreme end of a Session, unless such opportunities were taken of passing them as would be afforded by the sitting to-morrow. ["Hear, hear!"]


asked the First Lord of the Treasury whether it was his intention, having secured the suspension of the Twelve o'clock Rule, to continue the Debate on the Agricultural Rating Bill until the small hours of the morning with a view to getting it passed, or did he mean that the Debate was to terminate at midnight? The right hon. Gentleman had himself admitted that there was no urgency for the Rating Bill, because he had told them that he did not intend to take the Report Stage until after the Committee Stage of the Education Bill.


begged to ask the right hon. Gentleman not to include the Land Tax Commissioners' Names Bill among the Measures to be taken to-morrow, as, so far from being non-contentious, it contained some very controversial propositions.

MR. HERBERT LEWIS (Flint Boroughs)

supported the appeal of the hon. Member for Eye, pointing out that the Land Tax Commissioners' Names Bill was a strongly contentious Measure, which was opposed on the Second Reading.

Question put, "That this House do meet To-morrow at Twelve of the clock."

The House divided:—Ayes, 232; Noes, 90.—(Division List, No. 165.)