HC Deb 18 July 1898 vol 62 cc226-8

Considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)

"Resolved: That it is expedient to authorise the payment, out of moneys to be provided by Parliament, of remuneration to any persons employed by the Commissioners who may be appointed under any Act of the present Session to make further provision with respect to the University of London, and of all expenses incurred in the execution of such Act."—(Sir John Gorst.)


Mr. Speaker, there is a point on which I should like to ask your ruling, as to the matter of order which is involved, and also as to the consequences of departing from the ordinary custom of the House, and taking the Committee Stage on the money part of a Bill after it has been for some time before the Standing Committee. Now, Sir, this Bill, which is to establish a commission for the University of London, contains a main clause, and a portion of that clause, and a portion only, is in italics. It was outside the competence of the House of Lords to put in the money portion of the clause, and it came down to this House in italics, and is supposed by the custom of the House not to be in the Bill at all. The whole of the clause, of course, turns on the words in italics, the ether portion of the clause giving power to the Commissioners to employ, with the consent of the Treasury, any person they may think it necessary to employ. I believe it is contrary to the unbroken custom of the House, so far as I can discover, to consider any portion of a clause in Committee until the money Resolution is obtained and reported to the House; but the Standing Order is vague on the point, and not sufficiently definite. My contention is that the whole of the first clause, which is really the main portion of the Bill, is substantially of a financial nature. I have heard that it is the intention of the Government, after the Bill is reported, to recommit it, not for the purpose of introducing these words at present in italics, as a portion of clause 1, but for the purpose of re-introducing them as a new clause. I do not know to what extent an irregularity has been committed, but I should be glad of your direction.

*SIR J. FERGUSSON (Manchester, N.E.)

As Chairman of the Grand Committee which considered this Bill I should like to say that in my opinion the money provision in the subsection underlined is not exactly on all fours with a Bill which goes up from this House containing a clause in italics. The money provision is not an integra; portion of the clause. The clause was complete in itself, and it came from the Lords without having any money provision. It would not be necessary, I apprehend, that a Commission set up by Act of Parliament should necessarily foe paid out of public money. There is no provision for the Scotch University Commission being paid. Accordingly, when this Bill came before the Grand Committee, and the point was taken by the right honourable Gentleman that, it being a money clause, it was not competent for the Committee to pass it, it appeared to me that the clause having been passed by the Lords, that it was competent for the Committee to pass it without inserting the money provision. I thought it best, Sir, that I should put that view of the case before you as chairman of the Grand Committee, and I may add, that it is well known to the House that the money clause was not moved in the House. The point was without exact precedent, and I ruled it to the best of my judgment.


I should have waited before answering the right honourable Gentleman until the Report came up, but as the Committee have already allowed the clause as amended by them and their proceedings on the clause to be printed, I thought after that it was unnecessary that. I should delay answering. No breach of order has been committed, as it appears to me, in what has been done. The only Standing Order which relates to the matter is that Standing Order which says that no charge shall be made upon the public Exchequer except by Resolution in Committee of the House made on the Motion of the Minister of the Crown. That Standing Order has not been broken, and it is not too late for the necessary Resolution to be passed before the clause as to salaries is inserted in the Bill. As regards the other question as to whether there is any settled practice of the House which would prevent a Committee from acting as this Committee has done, I am not aware of any such settled practice or rule. That must be a matter of convenience depending upon, the particular clause. Whether, when a Bill goes before a Standing Committee, containing a blank, it would be better as a general rule to pass the necessary Resolution before sending it there may be worth consideration, but I am of opinion that there has been no breach of order here.

Resolution to be reported.

The House went into Committee [Mr. J. W. LOWTHER in the Chair].

House resumed.