§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I think that it was, almost to a day, this time last year when I asked the House to grant the privileges with regard to business which I ask for again in the Resolution which I propose to move. Last year it had the result that we finished our work without difficulty and without friction at a reasonable period of August; and I think I may hope that the same privileges, granted at the same time of the year, would have a like result now. The House would naturally desire to know what business we hope to get through before August 12th—or before the date of the prorogation. I mention August 12th because it happens to be the last day of a week, and, I may parenthetically say, that it is convenient for other interests and avocations. I will tell the House briefly exactly how Government business stands. I begin with a certain number of Bills which cannot pass if they are opposed and to which, if my information be accurate, no opposition need be feared. In this list are the Congested Districts Board (Ireland) Bill—a Bill introduced the other day by the Chief Secretary, with the approval of the Irish Members; the Congested Districts Board (Scotland) Bill, the Bodies Corporate Bill, the Law Charges Bill, the University of London Act Amendment Bill—a small measure pressed upon the Government by the Commissioners under the London University Act, the sole object of which is to include Holloway College within the University of London; the Inebriates Act (1898) Amendment Bill—which is simply to correct an error in drafting; an Elementary Education Bill, dealing with defective and epileptic children; and a Bill of which I know nothing, but which has come from the Lords and deals with oysters. Then there are two Bills which I should like to believe were in this category, but of which I confess I have some doubts. One is the Lunacy Bill, which also comes from the Lords, and in regard to which I may be permitted to say that I believe part of it is intended 1016 to remedy an administrative inconvenience. The Government are quite prepared to drop any portions of the measure which prove controversial if they could hope without discussion to get this administrative portion of the Bill. Then there is the Charitable Loans (Ireland) Bill, about which questions have been asked we from time to time by the Irish Members, but which I fear may necessitate an amount of discussion which will render its chance of passing rather faint. Then in the next category of Bills come what I may describe as the two annual Bills—the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill and the Public Works Loans Bill. They have not yet been introduced, and it is not usual to introduce them until the end of the session, but I have no reason to believe that they will lead to more controversy in the course of the present year than they have done on previous occasions. Then I come to certain departmental Bills which I do not believe require any lengthened discussion—the Durham Palatine Court Bill, the Telegraph (Channel Islands) Bill, Electric Lighting Provisional Orders, the Lands Improvement Bill—which I think has passed the Grand Committee, and to which not much objection is taken. The Metropolitan Police (Salaries) Bill is also a small departmental measure. This list of Bills may sound a rather long catalogue, but I think it is felt on all sides that they are not Bills which will occupy any material portion of the time of Parliament. In the next class are Bills of greater importance, and involving greater controversy, which I may call administrative Bills, to distinguish them from the projects of legislation of a somewhat different character. These Bills are the Niger Company Bill, the Naval Works Bill, the Military Works Bill, and the Colonial Loans Bill. They are all important Bills, and some of them, no doubt, will require a certain amount of discussion; but I should hope that they will pass without any serious difficulty. The House will remember that under the Colonial Loans Bill, power is taken empowering other Bills to be introduced. I think it possible that another Colonial Loans Bill, a daughter Bill, if I may so describe it, may be necessary. Then there is the Khartoum College Bill, which I do not think will take any time. Its only object is to enable the trustees of 1017 the fund contributing to the Khartoum College to invest the money in Egyptian securities, which they cannot do with personal safety under the law as it at present stands. I should add that negotiations are now pending about the conversion of the Turkish Guarantee Loan of 1855. I do not know whether those negotiations will be brought to a satisfactory conclusion before the end of the session. If they are, as I have reason to believe, a Bill will be founded on them, and in the absence of opposition we shall deal with it also. But I recognise that it cannot be carried through without leading to some debate. There remain Bills dealing with general legislation. Of these, the Government propose only to pass those which have reached the Report stage, or those which are on the verge of it, and likely to pass, such as the Agriculture and Technical Instruction (Ireland) Bill. Among those Bills are the Telephones Bill, the Tithe Rent-charge Bill, the Agriculture and Technical Instruction (Ireland) Bill, the Sale of Food and Drugs Bill, the Private Legislation Procedure (Scotland) Bill, and the Board of Education Bill. There are a good many other measures of general legislation which are not so fortunate as to have reached the Report stage or to have made any serious advance through Committee. Such, I am afraid, it will be impossible to deal with in the present year. Some of them I drop with particular regret, like the Money-lending Bill, the Parish Churches (Scotland) Bill, and the Irish Tithe Rent-charge Bill. Of these measures I will only say that I hope they may be introduced at an early period next session and that they may have a better fate than that which we have been able to accord to them in the present year. In addition to these there is the Companies Bill, which I do not think has yet reached us from the Lords, the Undersized Fish Bill, the Metropolitan Streets Act (Amendment) Bill, the Trout Fishing Annual Close Time (Scotland) Bill, the Licensing Exemption (Houses of Parliament) Bill of my right hon. friend near me, the President of the Board of Trade; the Universities (Scotland) Bill, and the Land Tax Commissioners Bill. That, I think, really completes the account I have to give of the legislation which we hope to pass and the legislation which we recognise cannot be passed; and I do not think that if the Bills be attentively 1018 examined they will throw any necessary or undue strain upon the time or the labours of the House. In order to avoid any misunderstanding for the future, I ought to explain that it is, of, course, conceivable that some administrative necesssity may arise for bringing in some short measure in connection with one or other of the departments of the State. I do not consider myself precluded from that should the exigencies of the public service render it absolutely necessary, but I hope that no such necessity will arise. I do not think I can add anything to this statement, which, if brief, is at all events, I hope, clear and not unsatisfactory in its character. I forgot, however, to add the Resolution brought in dealing with the new judge about which I have spoken. I need only conclude by saying that, while asking the House to give up its cherished privileges as regards the Twelve o'clock rule, I am only adopting an expedient found necessary at the close of every session. The House need not be afraid that the Government will abuse the privileges so granted to them, and I hope we may regard ourselves as being now within a measurable distance of a not ill-earned holiday. I beg to move.
§ Motion made and Question proposed, "That for the remainder of the session Government business be not interrupted under the provisions of any Standing Order regulating the sittings of the House, and may be entered upon at any hour though opposed; and that at the conclusion of the Government business each day Mr. Speaker do adjourn the House without Question put."—(Mr. A. J. Balfour.)
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
I think the House will be generally disposed to get over as early as possible the melancholy part of our proceedings, and to bid an affectionate farewell to those Bills which the right hon. Gentleman has told us he is not going to proceed with. I can only say in regard to those which he has condemned to that category, I think some of the Bills are measures of great importance in which the public took a great interest, like the Money-Lending Bill and others which could be named. I think the general public would have been better pleased if one or other of those Bills had been proceeded with and that 1019 the Bill which recently occupied a considerable portion of the attention of the House had been left alone. With that remark I dismiss the melancholy part of the subject. I understand that what the right hon. Gentleman meant with regard to the first list of Bills which he estimates as unopposed is that the prosecuting of those Bills will be subject to the fact of their being unopposed, but that if in the course of things serious opposition is disclosed their fate will be necessarily endangered. I have very few observations to make on the statement of the First Lord. The right hon. Gentleman mentioned one or two administrative Bills. I am afraid that a good deal of time may he spent over them, as for example the Niger Company's Bill and the Naval Works Bill—a measure which was promised at the beginning of the session and which really was part of the elementary and fundamental business of the session. It ought to have been in our hands long ago. The same remark applies to the Military Works Bill. These Bills should have been under our consideration together with the Estimates of the year. Instead of that we are still in the middle of the discussion on the Military Works Bill, and the Naval Works Bill has not yet been presented to the House. I think that is a circumstance which is so remarkable that it ought to he referred to in order to invoke some degree of condemnation on the part of the House, because the sums of money involved are large. The expenditure involved is an expenditure which runs into the ordinary expenditure dealt with in the Estimates, and the House of Commons is placed at a disadvantage when so important a matter is not even before us at the end of July. However, we admit the importance of the Bill, and I can only hope that when it is introduced it will be of such a nature as not to provoke prolonged discussion or serious opposition. I understand that the programme which the right hon Gentleman has put before us is a reasonable one from his point of view; but, of course, it is distinctly understood that it excludes the possibility of the Government taking up any other Bills. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of some possible contingency, some administrative Bills, the necessity of which may become apparent. That we quite understand, but the motion which the right hon. Gentleman has made involves, of course, that the House 1020 will be adjourned as soon as Government business is concluded each night, and that there will be no "starring" of private Members' Bills, and no taking advantage of the motion to take up some Bill which at present is not within their list. I hope also the Twelve o'clock rule which governs our business will not be transgressed, except when occasion really arises for it. I understood from the right hon. Gentleman that the Twelve o'clock rule was not to be overridden day by day continually. At any rate, I ask the right hon. Gentleman to use the liberty conceded to him in a lenient manner agreeably to the wishes of the House. On those conditions, the exclusion of what I may call the Uitlanders alien Parliamentary Bills which have not yet been admitted to the full franchise, and the promise of a lenient use of the powers that are given to him, I do not think there is anything in the proposals of the right hon. Gentleman which is inconsistent with the ordinary practice of the House at this period of the session.
§ * SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucestershire, Forest of Dean)
The promise which the Leader of the Opposition has asked for with regard to Private Members' Bills not being starred is made the more necessary this year, because last week a sort of half promise was given in another place to push forward in the course of the present session a Bill introduced by Lord Burghclere—the Commons Bill. Had that Bill remained in the form in which it was introduced, it would not have been opposed! on this side, but it has been altered, and the Lords' veto inserted, and I am afraid it will meet with severe opposition. It is notorious, too, that there is another Private Member's Bill which is fiercely opposed, and that is the Service Franchise Bill. I can tell the right hon. Gentleman that there will be very fierce opposition if he attempts to pass those Bills with the assistance of the present motion. Some reason ought to be given also for the dropping of the Land Tax Commissioners Bill, a most necessary Bill, because the Land Tax Commissioners appoint the Income Tax Commissioners, and, unless new names are put in, the whole appointments fall into the hands of the county magistrates, and urban interests are not represented in the collection of income-tax. This Bill has always been passed in the first session of a new 1021 Parliament, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Monmouthshire when he was Leader of the Opposition pointed out that this was a measure for which the House was responsible, and with which the Government had nothing to do. Last year the Leader of the House told us he could not give the time necessary for passing it, because the Radical Members had seized the opportunity to raise the question of the qualification of magistrates. We did not think that a sufficient reason, but at any rate no such motion is down this year, and that being so we surely ought to have some explanation of the reasons which have induced the Government to drop this most necessary Bill, as to which, too, we ought to have a distinct promise for next session. There is a motion on the Paper for to-night in the name of the hon. Member for Leominster (employment of women over-time in the jam industry), and, in order to allow that motion to be brought on, I intend to move to amend the right hon. Gentleman's motion by providing that it shall take effect "on and after To-morrow." The motion is a statutory one, and relates to one of those matters that for forty days are laid on the Table in order that the House may have an opportunity of expressing its dissent from administrative action. If this Amendment is carried the right hon. Gentleman will have exactly the same time left to him as was granted last year for winding up the business of the session. I would further point out the importance to the House of having this opportunity of discussing this matter. You, Mr. Speaker, in correcting last year a malpractice which had grown up in these matters, stated that the House should be able freely to exercise the privilege which the Statute gives it, and inasmuch as this motion was put down for to-day out of courtesy to the Government, instead of being taken, as it could have been, at the close of the Home Office Debate, I hope the Government will assent to my Amendment.
§ * SIR JAMES RANKIN (Herefordshire, Leominster)
I hope the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House will accept the Amendment, for there is a great deal of interest felt in this matter. The discussion will not take long, and we hope to be able to bring it on before One o'clock. I think the House has a right to have an opportunity of giving an opinion 1022 upon such an Order as that made by the Home Secretary, as by Statute the Order must lie on the Table of the House of Commons for forty days, so that a Motion disagreeing with the Order may be raised if the House so desire. I trust, therefore, the Leader of the House will afford facilities for this Debate.
After the word 'That,' to insert the word; `on and after To-morrow.'"—(Sir Charles Dar. )
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR,
I entirely agree that nothing should be done materially to interfere with the statutory rights of Parliament. After all, if the House was given by Statute the right to consider certain matters it would be like an evasion of the Statute by a side wind to take the course I propose without any mitigating provision. The best. plan to meet the case would, I think, be that I should enter into an engagement with the House that any motion brought forward under statutory authority shall be "starred" by the Government, and shall therefore share the privileges accorded by the motion of the Government If that be acceptable I shall adopt that course.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
It occurs to me it might be maintained, if the course suggested is followed, that "starred" motions are in the nature of Government business. This is a Government Order in Council which has to be submitted for the opinion of the House, and I therefore think the right hon. Gentleman will be justified in taking the course he mentions.
§ * SIR CHARLES DILKE
When is it proposed to take the motion about the overtime of women? I do not think anything would be lost by taking it Tonight.
§ DR. CLARK (Caithness)
One of the inconveniences of the Government's motion is that it prevents questions being put on the adjournment of the House. These powers have not been used for obstructive purposes in the past, and I would suggest that you are gratuitously limiting the very small amount of power which Parliament now possesses by preventing the discussion of motions of which the statutory forty 1023 days' notice has been given, and by disallowing questions on the motion for adjournment.
§ MR. COGHILL (Stoke-upon-Trent)
It seems to me that the Leader of the Opposition must be a singularly innocent man if he supposes the First Lord is going to make a lenient use of his powers. We have had experience of the way the First Lord uses his powers. The right hon. Gentleman has sketched out enough work to last a whole session.
§ CAPTAIN NORTON (Newington, W.)
Will the Leader of the House answer the question of the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Although technically these motions are not Government business, yet practically they have to be starred if they are to be taken at all after the rule is passed; therefore, I will propose to "star" my hon. friend's motion and take it To-morrow.
§ * SIR CHARLES DILKE
I should have preferred it to be taken to-night, but, of course, we are in the hands of the Government. Under the circumstances I ask leave to withdraw my Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Main Question again proposed.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT (Monmouthshire, W.)
I simply wish to enforce the appeal of the right hon. Member for the Forest of Dean with regard to the Land Tax Commissioners Bill. According to my recollection it was formerly the universal practice to pass the Bill in the first session of a new Parliament, and now we are in the fourth session. The passing of this Bill ought to be no longer delayed.
§ SIR WILLIAM HOULDSWORTH (Manchester, N.W.)
I quite understand the objection to bringing Private Members' Bills under this motion, but I submit it is very hard indeed that even at this stage of the session opportunity should not be given of discussing Bills to which there is practically no objection on either side. In the case of non-contentious Bills I think it is very little to ask that if it can 1024 be shown that they are really non-contentious, and that they are supported on both sides of the House, they proceeded with.
§ MR. BROADHURST (Leicester)
Might I ask the right hon. Gentleman to be a little more specific in his statement with regard to the Lunacy Bill—I mean the Lords Lunacy Bill. Do I understand that he expressed an intention to drop it. Will he drop it if some portion of the Bill is dropped?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
If I thought that dropping all the administrative clauses would secure its general acceptance from the House I should be happy to take that course.
§ MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)
I congratulate the right hon. Gentleman on dropping the Tithe Rent-charge (Ireland) Bill, which was one of the most iniquitous measures which have ever been brought before this House, and I trust that in the interval between this and next session he will come to see that it would be nothing less than an outrage to reintroduce it. With regard to the Charitable Loans Bill, that is a Bill which I think ought to pass, because the present state of things is nothing less than a scandal. It cannot pass, however, this year, because in its present shape it will inflict greater injury than benefit. I notice that in his statement the right hon. Gentleman said not a word upon the question of Supply. There are only two free days left for discussing Supply, in spite of the fact that three extra days have been voted, and I think we might fairly ask the right hon. Gentleman to inform us now what Votes he proposes to take on the two days at our disposal. I can hardly believe that the Government intend to allow this session to pass without affording the House an opportunity for discussing the Colonial Office Vote, and I shall 1025 listen with confidence to the right hon. Gentleman's statement as to the day on which he will take that Vote this session. I contend that one day is not enough fur the discussion of that Vote, and for the Government to give us no opportunity to discuss the present state of South Africa, which would come upon that Vote, is nothing short of an outrage.
§ MR. E. J. C. MORTON (Devonport)
I also think that as the days are limited it becomes a matter of extreme importance that we should know what Supply is going to be put down. I was given to understand that Vote 8 and Vote 12 of the Navy Estimates would be taken on Friday next, and a number of hon. Members interested in those particular Votes have made arrangements under the belief that these particular Votes would be taken. Now I understand that the Army Votes are put down, and, as I presume, no other Votes. I wish to ask whether it is possible to take Votes 8 and 12 of the Navy Estimates at such time as will permit a discussion upon them.
§ MR. E. J. C. MORTON
Might I ask when the Third Reading of the Tithe Rent-charge Bill will be taken?
§ SIR J. FERGUSSON (Manchester, N.E.)
I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that the War Office Vote has not been discussed, and I cannot understand why that Vote has been passed by, seeing that it is one of the earliest Votes in the Army Estimates. I think some opportunity ought to be given for its discussion.
§ MR. LOUGH (Islington, W.)
There is one point which I consider of the greatest importance, and that is the point raised as to the selection of Private Members' Bills. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will not pick out any of those Bills to be taken this session as against others. I have been told since that the statement which the right hon. Gentle-man has made will not preclude his selecting some of them. I believe that such a course would considerably prolong dis- 1026 cussion and be otherwise unsatisfactory. If any Private Members' Bills are to be selected they ought to be mentioned in the statement he has made. I would ask hint to add to the list which he has given, however, one important measure, the Shop Assistants' Seats as I understand an important Amendment has been made in the Lords which we shall have to consider, and therefore I hope the right hon. Gentleman will give us an opportunity of considering it.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES (Lynn Regis)
With regard to the demand of the Government for the time of the House, I might point out that the Naval Works Bill has not yet been introduced, and I should like some information as to what the Government are going to do about it. It is a similar Bill to the Military Works Bill, and I think ought to be introduced before Friday next, when the Works Vote of the Navy Estimates comes on, and not at a time when the Government are put to such straits as to be compelled to ask for further facilities with respect to time.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
There is another important measure which I should like to call attention to, and which I should regret to see the Government give up. That is the Metropolitan Streets Bill. It is a measure of very pressing importance; the traffic of the metropolis is daily growing to an alarming extent, and it is of great importance that the police should have requisite power to deal with it, and it will he a matter of great regret if that is postponed until next year. The Oysters Bill is in another position. I know enough of these matters to know that every Bill concerning fisheries is a Bill of prohibition and the imposition of penalties, and this is probably one of that character. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will not attempt to pass that this session. I am glad that the Undersized Fish Bill is not to be passed. There is another Bill for the Conversion of the Turkish Loan, 1855. I do not see why a Bill is necessary for the purpose of converting that, but perhaps that will be explained. The right hon. Gentleman also sins he may have to ask this House for administrative 1027 measures. Does that mean a Vote of Credit? I sincerely hope not.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
If I might interrupt the hon. Gentleman here, I may say I certainly was not thinking of a Vote of Credit; but if such a Vote became necessary I should not regard the Government as being precluded from introducing it.
§ SIR J. JOICEY (Durham, Chester-le-Street)
Can the right hon. Gentleman tell me when the Telephone Bill is likely to be taken?
§ MR. ARNOLD-FORSTER (Belfast, W.)
The right hon. Gentleman has created same alarm by saying that no further discussion is to be allowed on the War Office Vote. I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that the War Office has made a Report upon itself and has had ample time to act upon that Report, and it seems to me it will be an extraordinary state of things if that Report is not allowed to be discussed. There has been absolutely no discussion on the War Office Vote this session. Then, within the last few days the Secretary of State for War has made a statement of the most alarming character with regard to the results of the Government's policy in the matter of the recruiting of the troops. I hope the right hon. Gentleman does not desire to withhold from the House of Commons at least one opportunity of discussing these two very important aspects of the policy of the War Office—namely, its own Report upon its own procedure, and its success in carrying out its own policy.
§ MR. LAMBERT (Devonshire, South Holton)
I think the right hon. Gentleman has forgotten the Bill to give tenant farmers greater compensation for their improvements. Notice of the introduction of that Bill was given on the first day of the session of 1896, and it has figured in every Queen's Speech since, but we have 1028 not seen the Bill yet. The right hon. Gentleman has stated that he intends to proceed with the Lands Improvement Bill. May I suggest that it would be better to give tenant farmers compensation for improvements already made than to extend the provisions of a Bill which purposes to give money to landlords to make further improvements.
§ MR. COGHILL
The list of measures we are to be asked to pass into law is such a very long one that it seems to me there will be no work left for the remaining two sessions of this Parliament, and some of the Bills mentioned might very well be left over. As far as Supply alone is concerned, there are a number of questions which must inevitably crop up which would fully occupy the time at our disposal this session. I am extremely sorry the English Moneylenders Bill is not to be proceeded with. We were told at the General Election that the period of Irish legislation was over, and that the time of Parliament would be taken up in discussing English and Scotch measures. Instead of that we have had another instance this session of English Bills being put out of the way in order that Bills affecting Ireland may be dealt with. The right hon. Gentleman has told us that, in addition to the Bills which he enumerated, be intends to proceed with the appointment of a new judge, and that in face of a Report of the Bar Committee pointing out the great waste of time under the present system. May I ask whether it is intended to bring forward that resolution at a time when most Members are present, and when there may he a full opportunity of discussing the question, or whether an attempt will be made to smuggle it through in the early hours of the morning?
§ MR. TENNANT (Berwickshire)
On the last occasion when the right hon. Gentleman made a statement of this character allusion was made to the Factory Bill. That Bill has never yet been introduced. The Home Secretary, when asked to introduce the Bill so that its provisions could be discussed throughout the country during the recess, said he was unable to do so without the consent of his colleagues. I therefore venture to ask the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury whether he will give an assurance that that shall be done.
AN HON. MEMBER
I should like to ask whether the Leader of the House can give us any information by which we may judge whether or not the Conversion of Turkish Loans Bill will be opposed.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE (Carnarvon Boroughs)
I wish to ask a question with regard to two Bills. The first is the Land Tax Commissioners Bill. That Bill ought really to be passed. It is the first time it has ever been postponed, and as it affects an important question of administration, the delay is rather upsetting the arrangements of the Income Tax Commissioners in the country. There is no desire in this part of the House to obstruct, but every wish to assist the passage of the Bill, which cannot possibly take much time. The interests of the towns have been neglected sufficiently by this Government, and they might recognise the necessity of passing this Bill this session. The second measure I desire to refer to is the Service Franchise Bill. The right hon. Gentleman has declined to state that he is not going to press any Private Members' Bills this session. I should like to know whether that reluctance is due to the fact that he has given a pledge with respect to the Service Franchise Bill, because if so, it may alter the whole course of conduct on this side of the House, not only in regard to tins Bill, but in regard to other measures.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I think I may now answer the various questions which have been put to me from different parts of the House. Perhaps the most important it points raised were those mentioned by the hon. Member who has just sat down, by the right hon. Baronet who sits near him, by my hon. friend the Member for North-West Manchester, and others, with regard to Private Members' Bills. I think the practice has been that Private Members' Bills which are either far advanced or not opposed should not necessarily be destroyed by such a motion as that which I am now making. Particular reference has been made by the hon. Member who has just sat down to a Private Member's Bill which is in the hands of my hon. friend the Member for Dulwich. No pledge has been given with regard to the Service Franchise Bill by 1030 the Government to my hon. friend. I am told that this Bill is very far advanced.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I quite agree that no Bill which is likely to occupy any large time of the House ought to be dealt with at this period of the session. Perhaps I may point out the happy inconsistency which afflicts some hon. Gentlemen opposite. The hon. Member for West Islington, while taking up what has been said and reproaching me as to Private Members' Bills, said,—"After all, there is one Bill which you must deal with, and that is the Shop Assistants Bill." It does not seem to have occurred to him that the Shop Assistants Bill is a Private Member's Bill. I hope that that reflection will mitigate the judgment which is passed on this point on the course which we propose to pursue or shall pursue with regard to Private Members' Bills. Then I have been asked as to the Land Tax Commissioners Bill. I was glad to hear the chorus of approval which the mention of that Bill now appears to call forth on the other side of the House. We shall be extremely glad to pass it, and if the speeches which have been delivered are any sample of the opinions which are held on the other side of the House, I see no reason why that Bill should not be taken out of the category of Bills that are condemned, and elevated to the happier list of Bills that may become law in the present session. An hon. Member has asked me about the Tenants' Improvement Bill, and other questions have been asked me about Bills which have not been introduced. As to the latter point, the statement I have made to-day is with regard to Bills which have been introduced. I think that if we were to discuss questions as to Bills which have not been introduced, we should be travelling far out of our proper course. My hon. friend the Member for King's Lynn and another hon. friend of mine asked questions about the conversion of the Turkish Loan. What I said to the House on that subject was that negotiations were pending, that those negotiations had not arrived at any conclusion, that if they did arrive at any conclusion, and it was desirable de to deal with them, we should be glad to do so if a Bill on that subject was likely to pass 1031 without controversy. I cannot now put it differently from that. The negotiations have not been completed, and no Bill has yet been drawn up on the subject. Another hon. Member has asked about the Resolution as to the appointment of a new judge. I do not know whether I have correctly interpreted his remarks as indicating that such a Resolution will raise much controversy. I should hope that it would not. I believe that sufficient grounds can be adduced in the interests of suitors for the appointment of a new judge which are of such an over-whelming character that the House will readily agree to the motion. I can promise my hon. friend that in any case the motion shall not be brought on after twelve o'clock at night. The hon. Member for Berwickshire asked whether it would be possible not to pass, but for my right hon. friend the Home Secretary to introduce a Bill for discussion in the country dealing with factories. I will consult my right hon. friend the Home Secretary as to whether such a course would be desirable; but I am not sure that anything would be gained by bringing in such a Bill without any chance of passing it into law during the session. I think that meets all the points raised.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The Member for East Mayo and other hon. Members have asked me questions as to Supply. A statement of the kind I am now making usually, I think, deals with the legislative work of the session, but I make no complaint, I need not say, with regard to the questions which have been put to me. The hon. Member asks me, there only being a few days left for Supply, that we should devote one of those days as suggested, and whether we contemplate the possibility of Parliament being prorogued without a discussion on colonial policy. I can assure the hon. Gentleman that we feel that it is absolutely necessary that there should be an adequate discussion on the Colonial Vote before the House adjourns. We feel that, in the present condition of South African affairs, it would not be treating the House of Commons fairly or rightly if they did not have an opportunity of hearing our views and of expressing their own in return. Whether the Debate which I have in my 1032 mind can best take place on the Colonial Vote or not is a matter which is open to controversy. I will consider the question, but, whatever the decision may be, I promise the hon. Gentleman and the House that they shall have an opportunity of fully discussing the colonial policy before we separate for the holidays. A. question has been asked by my right hon. friend behind me about the War Office Vote. I indicated at Question time that the Volunteer Vote, which stands first on the Paper, should be taken first, but, considering that the amount of time we can give to the War Office Vote next Friday must necessarily be limited, I think it would be more in accordance with precedent and more convenient that I should follow the views expressed by my right hon. friend the Member for West Belfast, and put the Vote for the salary of the Secretary of State first among the War Office Votes. I think that is a complete answer to all the questions. To-morrow we shall continue the Food and Drugs Bill. I propose to take the Second Reading of the Niger Company's Bill on Wednesday, and the Third Reading of the Tithe Rent-Charge Bill on Thursday.
§ MR. SAMUEL EVANS (Glamorganshire, Mid)
The right hon. Gentleman when he moved his motion did not mention a word about the special privilege of the House in respect of the half-past five o'clock rule on Wednesdays, in fact he did not say anything at all about Wednesdays. On previous occasions Wednesday has been excepted. With regard to Wednesdays it is very important to know whether we can rely upon having one evening at least free so that we can fulfil our engagements. When the rule was suspended towards the close of the session last year I think it was found that the House never sat later than half-past five on Wednesdays, and I think, therefore, it would be well to exclude Wednesday from this rule. In order that there shall be no uncertainty in this matter I beg to move to insert after the word "session" the words "except on Wednesdays."
§ MR. WARNER (Staffordshire, Lichfield)
I beg leave to second this Amendment, and in so doing I desire to impress upon the Government the necessity of taking the Naval Works Bills as soon as 1033 possible, so that this measure may be properly discussed by the whole House.
After the word 'session,' to insert the words 'except on Wednesdays.'"—(Mr. Samuel Evans.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Sir M. HICKS-BEACH,) Bristol, W.
I have not spoken to my right hon. friend the First Lord of the Treasury on this subject, but I apprehend that his intention is to include Wednesday in the operation of this rule. I apprehend that on the earlier Wednesdays there is no intention of pressing the sitting to the inconvenience of hon. members, but certainly towards the end of the session it may be necessary to prolong our sittings beyond half-past five on Wednesdays. I may say that this rule worked well last year.
§ MR. SAMUEL EVANS
If that is the decision of the Government I will not put the House to the trouble of a Division, and I will ask permission to withdraw my Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Main Question again proposed.
§ SIR J. BRUNNER (Cheshire, Northwich)
I think it is only reasonable that we should have an undertaking that nothing but the Sale of Food and Drugs Bill shall be taken to-night.
§ SIR M. HICKS-BEACH
I can assure the hon. Member that if the Bill is completed to-night nothing else will be taken.
§ MR. DALZIEL (Kirkcaldy Burghs)
We have had a very satisfactory statement that the War Office Vote will receive full discussion, but in reference to the Colonial Vote it is not quite certain whether it will take place in Committee of Supply or not. There are remaining at this moment only two clear days for Supply, and I wish to get a promise that the Colonial Office Vote will not be taken an either of the subsequent two days, because to limit the discussion of such an 1034 important question as the Colonial Office Vote, which might come on at a very late hour of the evening, would be grossly unfair, and it would be impossible to adequately discuss the Vote under such circumstances. If we are to have this Vote fully discussed it is obvious that we must take it on Friday week. There is only one other free day, and that is Friday week, and it would simplify matters very much if the Government would take the Vote on that day. With regard to Supply generally, I think the attention of the House ought to be called to the Paper which we received this morning. We have already got to pass seventy-seven Votes. It is true that as regards one or two of the Votes we have already had a few hours' debate upon them, but there are a number of very important Votes which have not yet been passed, and which it is reasonable to assume that some hon. Members desire to discuss. There is the Foreign and Colonial Service Vote, and the Votes for the Stationery Office, House of Lords, House of Commons, the Treasury, the Local Government Board, the Home Office, the Foreign Office, and the Colonial Office. These are only a few out of the seventy-seven Votes which we have to pass in the two clear days before us. With regard to Private Members' Bills I think we should have some declaration at once as to what the intention of the Government is. It is quite reasonable to suppose that the Government will be assisted by the Opposition in passing some of these measures through the I House. I think the measures mentioned by the First Lord of the Treasury constitute the most modest programme from a non-contentious point of view that we have yet had. We may be able to assist in passing this programme if the Government will declare what Private Bills they intend to "star," if they intend to "star" any. With regard to late sittings I think we ought to have a promise that unless there is some very substantial reason the House shall not sit after one o'clock. It is not fair to keep Members sitting here without knowing how long they are going to be kept, and it is not right for important legislation to come on before a small House.
§ CAPTAIN NORTON
I only desire to support what my hon. friend has said in regard to Private Bills. There is he Service Franchise Bill, to which 1035 we are going to offer the greatest possible amount of opposition. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House gave us no pledge in reference to that question, and we wish to know whether that Bill is to be brought forward. There is also the Metropolitan Streets Bill. I should like to know whether both
§ these Bills have been definitely abandoned.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 286; Noes, 93. (Division List, No. 272.)1037
|Aird, John||Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Greene, W. R.-(Cambs.)|
|Allsopp, Hon. George||Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Gretton, John|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Colomb, Sir John C. Ready||Greville, Hon. Ronald|
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Colston, Charles E. H. Athole||Gull, Sir Cameron|
|Arnold, Alfred||Compton, Lord Alwyne||Gunter, Colonel|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Cooke, C. W. Radcliffe (Heref'd)||Haldane, Richard Burdon|
|Arrol, Sir William||Courtney, Rt. Hon. Leonard H.||Hall, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles.|
|Asher, Alexander||Cox, Irwin Edward Bainbridge||Hanbury, Rt. Hon. R. W.|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Cranborne, Viscount||Hanson, Sir Reginald|
|Bagot, Capt Josceline FitzRoy||Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)||Hardy, Laurence|
|Bailey, James(Walmorth)||Cross, Herbert S. (Bolton)||Hare, Thomas Leigh|
|Baird, John George Alexander||Cruddas, William Donaldson||Batch, Ernest Frederick Geo,|
|Balcarres, Lord||Curzon, Viscount||Hayne, Rt. Hn. Charles Seale-|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J.(Manc'r)||Dalbiac, Colonel Philip Hugh||Hedderwick, Thos, Charles H.|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. G. W.(Leeds)||Dalkeith, Earl of||Helder, Augustus|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Hemphill, Rt. Hn. Charles H.|
|Barnes, Frederic Gorell||Davies, Sir H D. (Chatham)||Hill, Rt. Hn. A. Staveley (Staffs.|
|Barry, Rt. Hn. A. H. S-(Hunts.)||Dewar, Arthur||Hoare, Samuel (Norwich)|
|Bartley, George C. T.||Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.||Hobhouse, Henry|
|Barton, Dunbar Plunket||Digby, John K D. Wingfield-||Holland, Hon. Lionel R. (Bow)|
|Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benjamin||Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph||Hornby, Sir William Henry|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H. (Bristol||Dixon-Hartland, Sir F. Dixon||Houldsworth, Sir Wm. Henry|
|Beaumont, Went worth C. B.||Doughty, George||Houston, R. P.|
|Beckett, Ernest William||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Howard, Joseph|
|Begg, Ferdinand Faithfull||Douglas-Pennant, Hon. E. S.||Howell, William Tudor|
|Bemrose, Sir Henry Howe||Drage, Geoffrey||Hozier, Hon. J. Henry Cecil|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry C.||Duck worth, James||Hudson, George Bickersteth|
|Beresford, Lord Charles||Duncombe, Hon. Hubert V.||Jebb, Richard Claverhouse|
|Bethell, Commander||Dyke, Rt. Hon. Sir William H.||Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick|
|Bhownaggree, Sir M. M.||Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas||Jenkins, Sir John Jones|
|Biddulph, Michael||Evershed, Sydney||Johnson-Ferguson, Jabez Edw.|
|Bill, Charles||Fardell, Sir T. George||Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edw.||Jolliffe, Hon. H. George|
|Bond, Edward||Ferguson, R. C. Munro (Leith)||Kay-Shuttleworth, Rt Hn Sir U|
|Boscawen, Author Griffith-||Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Mncr.||Kemp, George|
|Boulnois, Edmund||Finch, George H.||Kenyon, James|
|Bowles, Capt. H. F. (Middlesex)||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Kimber, Henry|
|Brassey, Albert||Fisher, William Hayes||King, Sir Henry Seymour|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Fison, Frederick William||Kinloch, Sir John George S.|
|Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson||Fitz Gerald, Sir Robert Penrose-||Kitson, Sir James|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond||Lafone, Alfred|
|Bullard, Sir Harry||FitzWygram, General Sir F.||Laurie, Lieut.-General|
|Burt. Thomas||Flannery, Sir Fortescue||Lawrence, W. F. (Liverpool)|
|Butcher, John George||Flower, Ernest||Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.)|
|Buxton, Sydney Charles||Foster, Colonel (Lancaster)||Lecky, Rt. Hn. William E. H.|
|Campbell, Rt. Hn. J. A (Glasgow)||Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Leighton, Stanley|
|Carlile, William Walter||Fry, Lewis||Leng, Sir John|
|Carmichael, Sir T. D. Gibson-||Galloway, William Johnson||Llewellyn, E. H. (Somerset)|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Edward||Garfit, William||Llewelyn, Sir Dillwyn- (Sw'ns'a|
|Causton, Richard Knight||Gibbs, Hon. A. G. H. (C. of Lond.)||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R.|
|Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lancs.)||Gibbs, Hon. Vicary (St. Albans)||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles William||Giles, Charles Tyrrell||Long, Rt. Hn Walter (Liverpool|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Hertford, East)||Godson, Sir Augustus Fred.||Lopes, Henry Yarde Buller|
|Chaloner, Captain R. G. W.||Goldsworthy, Major-General||Lorne, Marquess of|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. (Birm.)||Gordon, Hon. John Edward||Loyd, Archie Kirkman|
|Chamberlain, J. Aust'n (Worc'r||Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon||Lucas-Shadwell, William|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Goschen, Rt Hn G J (St. George's||Macartney, W. G. Ellison|
|Charrington, Spencer||Goschen, George J. (Sussex)||Macdona, John Cumming|
|Chelsea Viscount||Goulding, Edward Alfred||MacIver, David (Liverpool)|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Graham, Henry Robert||Maclean, James Mackenzie|
|Coddington, Sir William||Green, W. D. (Wednesbury)||Maclure, Sir John William|
|M'Crae, George||Purvis, Robert||Stock, James Henry|
|M'Ewan, William||Pym, C. Guy||Strauss, Arthur|
|Malcolm, Ian||Rankin, Sir James||Sturt, Hon. Humphrey Napier|
|Maple, Sir John Blundell||Rasch, Major Frederick Carne||Sutherland, Sir Thomas|
|Maxwell, Rt. Hon. Sir H. E.||Rentoul, James Alexander||Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G. (Oxf. Univ.|
|Mellor, Colonel (Lancashire)||Richardson, J (Durham, S. E.)||Tennant, Harold John|
|Middlemore, J. Throgmorton||Ridley, Rt. Hn. Sir Matthew W.||Thorburn, Walter|
|Milbank, Sir Powlett Chas. J.||Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)||Tollemache, Henry James|
|Milner, Sir Frederick George||Rothschild, Hon. Lionel Walter||Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. Murray|
|Milward, Colonel Victor||Round, James||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Monk, Charles James||Royds, Clement Molyneux||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Moon, Edward Robert Pacy||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)||Ure, Alexander|
|More, Robt. Jasper (Shropshire||Rutherford, John||Usborne, Thomas|
|Morgan, Hn. F.(Monmouthsh.)||Ryder, John Herbert Dudley|
|Morton, Arthur H. A (Deptford||Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse)||Valentia, Viscount|
|Murray, Rt. Hn. A. G. (Bute)||Sandys, Lt.-Col. Thos. Myles||Vincent, Col. Sir C. E. H.|
|Murray, C. J. (Coventry)||Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert||Warde, Lieut.-Col. C. E. (Kent)|
|Myers, William Henry||Saunderson, Rt. Hon. Col E.J.||Welby, Lieut.-Col. A. C. E.|
|Newark, Viscount||Savory, Sir Joseph||Wharton, Rt. Hon. John Lloyd.|
|Nicholson, William Graham||Seely, Charles Hilton||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Nicol, Donald Ninian||Seton-Karr, Henry||Williams, Colonel R (Dorset)|
|Northcote, Hon. Sir H. Stafford||Sharpe, William Edward T.||Williams, Jos. Powell-(Birm.)|
|O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens||Sidehottom, T. Harrop (Stalybr.||Wills, Sir William Henry|
|Palmter, George W. (Reading)||Sidebottom, William (Derbys.)||Wilson-Todd, W. H. (Yorks.)|
|Parkes, Ebenezer||Simeon, Sir Barrington||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Paulton, James Mellor||Sinclair, Capt. John (Forfarsh.||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Pease, Herbert P.(Darlington)||Smith, James P. (Lanarks.)||Wrightson, Thomas|
|Pender, Sir James||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)||Wyndham, George|
|Percy, Earl||Soames, Arthur Wellesley||Wyndham-Quin, Major W. H.|
|Pickersgill, Edward Hare||Spencer, Ernest||Wyvill, Marmaduke D'Arcy|
|Pierpoint, Robert||Stanley, Hon. A. (Ormskirk)|
|Platt-Higgins, Frederick||Stanley, Edw. Jas. (Somerset)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)||Sir William Walrond and|
|Priestley, Sir W Overend (Edin.||Stanley, Sir H. M. (Lambeth)||Mr. Anstruther.|
|Abraham, Wm. (Cork, N.E.)||Humphreys-Owen, Arthur C.||Perks, Robert William|
|Allan, William (Gateshead||Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley)||Pickard, Benjamin|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Jacoby, James Alfred||Pilkington, Sir G. A. (Lancs SW|
|Austin, M. (Limerick, W.)||Joicey, Sir James||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Bainbridge, Emerson||Jones, D. Brynmor (Swansea)||Provand, Andrew Dryburgh|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Jones, William (Carnarvonsh.||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)|
|Billson, Alfred||Kearley, Hudson E.||Runciman, Walter|
|Broadhurst, Henry||Kilbride, Denis||Schwann, Charles E.|
|Caldwell, James||Labouchere, Henry||Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford)|
|Cameron, Sir Chas. (Glasgow)||Lambert George||Souttar, Robinson|
|Cameron, Robert (Durham)||Langley, Batty||Spicer, Albert|
|Carvill, Patrick Geo. Hamilton||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumberland)||Stanhope, Hon. Phillip J.|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Lough, Thomas||Steadman, William Charles|
|Clark, Dr. G. B. (Caithness-sh.)||Lowther, Rt. Hon. J. (Kent)||Stratchey, Edward|
|Clough, Walter Owen||Lyell, Sir Leonard||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Macaleese, Daniel||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)|
|Colville, John||MacDonnell, Dr. M. A. (Qu'ns C)||Wallace, Robert|
|Crombie, John William||NacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Warner, Thos. Courtenay T.|
|Curran, Thomas (Sligo, S.)||M'Ghee, Richard||Wedderburn, Sir William|
|Davitt, Michael||M'Laren, Charles Benjamin||Weir, James Galloway|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||M'Leod, John||Whiteley, George (Stockport)|
|Dillon, John||Mappin, Sir Frederick Thorpe||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Doogan, P. C.||Mendl, Sigismund Ferdinand||Williams, J. Carvell (Notts.)|
|Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||Morgan, W. P. (Merthyr)||Wilson, H. J. (York, W. R.)|
|Dunn, Sir William||Morton, Edw. J. C. (Devonport)||Wilson, John (Govan)|
|Emmott, Alfred||Moulton, John Fletcher||Woods, Samuel|
|Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorgan)|
|Farquharson, Dr. Robert||O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)||Young, Samuel (Cavan, East)|
|Fenwick Charles||O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Fenwick, Charles||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Flynn, James Christopher||Oldroyd, Mark|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Holland, W. H. (York, W. R.)||Palmer, Sir C. M. (Durham)||Mr. Dalziel and Captain Norton.|
|Horniman, Frederick John||Pease, Joseph A. (Northumb.|
Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ Ordered, That for the remainder of the session Government business be not interrupted under the provisions of any Standing Order regulating the sittings of the House, and may be entered upon at any hour, though opposed; and that at the conclusion of Government business each day Mr. Speaker do adjourn the House without Question put.