§ On the Motion for the Adjournment of the House:—
§ MR. DILLON (Mayo, E.)
I desire to ask the First Lord of the Treasury when he is going to take the Agriculture and Technical Instruction (Ireland) Bill, for which ire have waited so long. This Bill has received scurvy treatment, but it is a Bill of great importance. Although we accept its principle, I think we are en- 697 titled to get fair notice when the Bill is going to be taken, and we are also entitled to have a reasonable amount of time for its discussion. I mention this matter because I heard a rumour that it was the intention of the Chief Secretary for Ireland to introduce this Bill after 11 o'clock this evening. I have no hesitation in saying that to introduce it at any such hour as that would be nothing short of a public scandal. I was denounced the other day because I asked for a reasonable time for the discussion of Subjects which were not Irish questions. This, however, is an Irish measure, and we should have a reasonable time allowed for its discussion, and our convenience should also be considered in setting it down for discussion. I think I have a right to complain of the way we have been treated to-night, for this measure has been set down as the second Order, after a Bill which everyone knew must have taken up nearly the whole of the evening. We have waited very patiently for this Bill to come on, and I do say that this is not the way in which a Bill of such importance ought to be treated, and it is not the way in which the Irish Members ought to be treated. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to put this Bill down its the first Order.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The hon. Gentleman opposite complains of the treatment meted out by the Government to the Irish Members. I think he has very little ground indeed for that complaint. It is perfectly true that this is an important Bill; in fact, I think it is of the greatest possible importance. It does not, however, follow from that that it is a Bill that needs to have very great discussion. It may require very great discussion or it may not, but if it does it cannot be passed in the course of the present session. That will be obvious to all hon. Members who have followed the course of business this session, and who know the amount of time left at our disposal. Last session was mainly occupied by Irish business, for the great Bill of that session was an Irish measure. This Bill of the Chief Secretary for Ireland was received—and I think is still receiving—the general approval of the Irish Members, and, if that theoretical approval is accompanied by the practical advantage of a brief discussion of its details, it might be passed 698 in the course of the present session, and that would be an advantage to Ireland. It is quite manifest that this advantage can only be obtained on the conditions which I have stated, and if these days of discussion which hon. Members require are indeed necessary to carry it into law I greatly fear that Ireland must wait until next session for the advantages which this Bill is intended to give to her. I can only put this Bill down on occasions when I have some hope that it may come on. If, unfortunately, this measure should be discussed at length, the alternative I have suggested is the only one which is possible, and we shall have to defer until next session this Bill which is intended to confer so many advantages upon Ireland.
§ SIR T. ESMONDE (Kerry, W.)
I hope the right hon. Gentleman will not be under the impression that small interest is taken in this measure. I think it is a Bill of very great importance indeed, and possibly it might be for the convenience of Irish Members if the right hon. Gentleman could name some day on which he could take it.
§ SIR T. ESMONDE
All I wish to say is that if this Bill is not passed this session there will be great disappointment in Ireland. I hope that under the circumstances the measure will not be lost through any want of effort on the part of the Government.
§ MR. WILLIAM MOORE (Antrim, N.)
I agree that this is a very important measure, and the sooner the Government can make it convenient to put it down as the first Order the better will the Unionist Members he pleased. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will see his way at least to give us reasonable notice, so that we may attend,
§ CAPTAIN PIRIE (Aberdeen, N.)
Will the discussion on the Tithe Rent-charge (Rates) Bill, if unfinished to-morrow, go as the first Order on Wednesday?
§ MR. FLYNN (Cork, N.)
When an Order has been put down as the second or third Order we never can tell when the Bill is going to come on. I do hope the right hon. Gentleman will adopt a reasonable tone in regard to this measure, for it is practically the only Irish Bill this session. All we ask is that it shall be put down as the first Order, and that we shall have reasonable notice. It contains an enormous number of details dealing with large sums of money which is principally Irish money, and I claim my right to discuss this Bill at a proper length. I am not going to be a willing party to the modern practice of discussing business under the Ten-minutes Rule or 700 taking Irish measures at the tail end of English or Scotch business; I would prefer that it should go over to another session rather than have an incomplete Bill this session, for we never can get Irish business in a complete form. Surely it is not asking too much of the Government to give us a reasonable share of the time of the House for one day or a portion of a day with this Bill as the first Order, when Irish Members can have an adequate discussion of their own affairs. We are asking nothing unreasonable, but after the treatment we have received we shall not be content, and the Government will save more time by being reasonable than otherwise.
§ MR. MURNAGHAN (Tyrone, Mid.)
I should like the right hon. Gentleman to put this Bill down as the first Order on Thursday.
§ Adjourned at a quarter after Twelve of the clock.