HC Deb 02 April 1900 vol 81 cc955-8
SIR HENRY FOWLER (Wolverhampton)

Will the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House now fulfil his promise to state what is the actual business to be taken before the House adjourns for the Easter recess, and on what days it will be taken?


The enumeration of the Bills and the times at which I hope to deal with them are as follows:—The Bills the stages of which are practically completed are the Finance Bill, Army (Annual) Bill, and Electoral Disabilities (Military Service) Bill. The Second Readings that have to be taken are the Ecclesiastical Assessments (Scotland) Bill, the Railways (Prevention of Accidents) Bill, and the Agricultural Holdings Bill. We shall, I hope, also finish the small remains of the debate relating to municipal trading; and I should like to get the Police Reservists (Allowances) Bill and the Naval Reserve (Mobilisation) Bill. As to these I do not think hon. Members will wish to say much. As regards the actual distribution of the programme, I do not pro- pose to interfere with the rights of private Members on Tuesday, except so far as it may be necessary for the Finance Bill. I was under the impression that we should have to take a new clause in Committee of Ways and Means, but I now hope that that necessity may be avoided. My idea will be to take the Railways Bill first on Thursday, and the Agricultural Holdings Bill first on Monday. The Finance Bill will be taken on Friday, which will not be a day to be counted. The debate on municipal trading must be disposed of before the holidays, but I do not wish to see the House sitting on Tuesday for that purpose, and if Members will meet the plan half-way and enable the Government to get the Municipal Trading Resolution after the Railways Bill on Thursday, I should like to move first on Friday that the House at the end of the sitting on Monday do adjourn for the holidays. In that case the House would gain half a day, and for the purposes of many Members a whole day's additional holiday. As regarded the Education Code, I am not sure whether it would not be more convenient to postpone the discussion till after Easter, but I cannot make a definite statement on that subject until to-morrow, when I have to answer a question addressed to me by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Dartford Division of Kent. The House will see, therefore, that as at present advised I suggest that for Tuesday the business shall be the Finance Bill, if the stage is necessary, otherwise private Members' business; Wednesday, private Members' business: Thursday—(1) Railways (Prevention of Accidents) Bill, (2) Municipal Trading Resolution; Friday—(1) Motion for the Holidays, (2) Finance Bill, Third Reading. Monday, the Agricultural Holidays Bill, and possibly the one or two non-contentious Bills I have named.

MR. BUCHANAN (Aberdeenshire, E.)

As the Agricultural Holdings Bill applies to Scotland as well as to England, and as the debate is hardly likely to be concluded in one sitting, will not the right hon. Gentleman reconsider his proposal to take it on Monday?


The question is rather an unfair one. I want to give the House as long a holiday as I can, and the hon. Member's complaint would have no foundation if I put the holidays off till Thursday.

MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)

I suppose we may take it that the Australian Federation Bill will not be taken before the holidays?


It will not.


Assuming that the debate on it is not taken before Easter, I take it that although the Code will come in force, the House will have an opportunity of discussing it apart from the Education Estimates.


If the discussion on the new Education Code does not take place on Thursday, I shall give a pledge that the new Code shall not come into operation until the House has had an opportunity of discussing it. That opportunity will be given, apart altogether from the Education Estimates, at a very early date after Easter.

MR. FLOWER (Bradford, W.)

How, in view of the fact that the time for the discussion of the Code runs out on the 14th instant, does the Leader of the House propose to deal with the new Code? Does he propose to withdraw it entirely from the Table of the House, which I presume is the only course open to him?


I think the hon. Member is under a misapprehension as to the exact legal position. Anyhow, as soon as the month during which the Code lays on the Table comes to an end, the Education Department has the right to put the Code into force, but the right of Parliament to deal with the Code does not lapse with the month, and at any time during the year the House may give any verdict which it likes upon the propriety of the Code. It is quite true, therefore, that unless this is discussed before the holidays there will be a certain period—a very short period—in which technically the Education Department will have the right to put the Code in force without the House having had an opportunity of discussing it, but I propose to get over that difficulty by giving a pledge to the House that the Education Department will not put the Code in force during that period.


But a certain number of managers have arranged——


Order, order! There is no question before the House.

MR. BROADHURST (Leicester)

May I appeal to the Leader of the House to postpone the debate on municipal trading till after Easter? There is a good deal to be said upon it, and we only had an hour and a half to discuss it last Thursday, and I do not think it is unreasonable to ask for more time.


May we take it that the Charitable Loans (Ireland) Bill will not be taken before Easter?


Yes, Sir.


May I again appeal to the right hon. Gentleman with regard to the Agriculcultural Holdings Bill. I should be the last to wish to curtail the holidays of the House, but many Members want to take part in the debate on this Bill. Is it the right hon. Gentleman's intention, if the debate is not finished on Monday, to move the closure——


Order, order!


I do not wish to put the question in an irregular form, but does the right hon. Gentleman intend to terminate discussion on Monday under any circumstances?


That is a matter for the House.


Then, does the right hon. Gentleman hope that the discussion will be concluded that night?


My hope certainly is that the Bill will be finished, and I say it must be before we separate for the holidays.