§ 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 Government Business each day Mr. Speaker do adjourn the House without Question put." — (Mr. A. J. Balfour.)
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
I do not think that we have any reason to complain of the statement made by the right hon. Gentleman, but there is one point on which I think the House expected to hear a little more. It is the point which governs to a large extent the whole of his statement—and that is, when does the right hon. Gentleman expect that the House will be relieved from its duties? It is clear that if the House is going to sit well on into August it will be able to transact a larger amount of business than it can undertake if it is interrupted at an earlier period, and, therefore, though the right hon. Gentleman's statement is satisfactory so far as it goes, he has not told us what his views are on that question. Those views affect not only the Bills, but also the important question of Supply. There are certain Votes which must be taken, and on which it is only right that the House should have a full opportunity of discussion. I would name, for example, in such a year as this, the Colonial Office Vote. It embraces not only the whole of the South African question, but the question of Ashanti and other questions. Then there is the Foreign Office Vote, upon which the whole situation in China has to be considered. These two Votes appear to me to require a day for the discussion of each of them. Then the right hon. Gentleman passed somewhat lightly over the War Office Vote. There was force in the inquiry of the hon. Member for West Belfast, when he asked whether a day would be granted for a discussion of it. Although it is true that the War Office Vote can be suspended, as it wore, and put 96 off until an advanced period of the session in order that we may have an opportunity of considering the military questions generally, yet there are this year in the minds of hon. Members many topics connected with that Vote and the conduct and disposition of business by the Secretary of State himself, which will surely require a considerable time for the discussion which may be needed on that important subject. There are fifteen Bills which are more or less non-contentious, but a non-contentious Bill, I need hardly say, is not a definition which always maintains itself. Even in the course of half an hour since the right hon. Gentleman made his statement, one of those Bills apparently has transferred itself to the category of being a contentious measure, because notice of an Amendment has now been given to it, which transfers it from one list to the other. On the whole, however, I see no reason to dispute in the main the classification of the right hon. Gentleman. But then we come to one or two Bills which come from the House of Lords, mostly military Bills. With regard to these, I say at once that I think the House may very well be called upon to consider and to pass the Reserve Forces Bill and the Military Lands Bill, which, as the right hon. Gentleman says, carry out the intentions which are already expressed in the regulations in regard to the organisation of the Army. It can hardly be denied that the Volunteers Bill involves or may involve a serious alteration in the character of the Volunteer force. It accepts as a permanent condition of service for Volunteers a kind of service which has never-been contemplated hitherto. But I would appeal to the Government on broader grounds. I think it is most undesirable at the end of the session to make a material difference in the constitution of the Volunteer force, or indeed I may say in any other branch of our military forces. We are all impressed with the necessity of doing everything we can to strengthen the defences of the Empire and to increase military efficiency, but that is not a thing to be done in a hurry. Many of those who are best qualified to advise the Government on. such a matter are at present engaged in South Africa, and surely it would be better to defer the matter. What is to be gained by forcing the Bill through the 97 House under pressure? The Bill ought to be reserved for fuller and wider consideration on the part of those who are responsible for advising Parliament on the subject. On all these grounds I hope the right hon. Gentleman will not persist in the Volunteers Bill. If he does, I am afraid that there will be a considerable amount of time spent on it, and that it will evoke a considerable amount of opposition also, although it is not so much on the ground of that opposition as on the broader grounds I have mentioned that I would appeal to him. Then the right hon. Gentleman recalled the fact that I had last year personally expressed some regret that the Money-lending Bill was lost, but I would point out that an expression of regret at the way the Government have arranged their business is quite consistent with a perfectly good disposition towards the Bill itself, and when I expressed some doubt a few days ago, it was on the ground that the Bill had become so pushed towards the end of the session that it was almost hopeless to get it through its stages now. There are one or two other Bills not mentioned by the right hon. Gentleman and which, I suppose, from the fact that the right hon. Gentleman has taken no notice of them, are also to be regarded as lost.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
I am not speaking of Government Bills. Is there no hope for other than Government Bills? Is not this a strange arrangement, that we have had Bills examined with the greatest care by Standing Committees, considered, amended, and thrown into better shape, and then dropped without a word of regret, and without any possibility of making use of the pains, find labour, and time lavished upon them? There are two Bills not affecting this House which I have in my mind, and surely it is most desirable that some corner should be found for them. They are both Bills which would be extremely well received in the colonies, and now we are all speaking of a closer connection with the colonies and our desire to show a better feeling towards them. One is the Copyright Bill, which has passed the House of Lords, and which I believe has a clause embodying an arrangement which Canada has been 98 struggling for years and years, and which has now been licked into such a shape as to give perfect satisfaction to the Canadian people. I hope there may be means found of passing that Bill. Then there is the Colonial Marriages Bill, which has had a chequered career. It has now gone triumphantly through the House of Lords, and I believe it is unanimously desired by the colonies. Yet the Government, who are prating every day about their desire to consider the views. of our colonial fellow-subjects in every way, now propose calmly to give the cold shoulder to this important Bill and proceed with those comparatively unimportant measures of which the right hon. Gentleman has given a list. I hope the right hon. Gentleman may be able to modify in some measure what he has promised; but I think what above all others would facilitate Government business and would be likely to put the House in a sympathetic mood, would be if the right hon. Gentleman could state now when, according to his estimate, the remaining business can be finally disposed of.
§ MR. LEIGHTON (Shropshire, Oswestry)
I hope my right hon. friend will adhere to his statement regarding the Bills by which he intends to lighten the ship; but he referred to a certain Bill which he said would not be proceeded with if it were opposed. I mean the Diocesan Records Bill, which is opposed by at least two hon. Members on this side of the House. There are two notices of motion against, and so far as it has been discussed it has been by no means favourably received. I was very much surprised to hear my right hon. friend say that he proposed to push it through. I feel sure it will be opposed very seriously, and I hope my right hon. friend will not force: it through the House of Commons at one o'clock or two o'clock in the morning.
§ MR. PICKERSGILL (Bethnal Green, S. W.)
I have heard with great regret that it is proposed once more to abandon the Lunacy Bill, because it is urgently required, alike for the insane as well as for the protection of the public. We have been told on no less an authority than that of the Lord Chancellor that grave abuses have taken place. This Bill would provide safeguards against those abuses, and it also contains provisions which are 99 absolutely necessary for the proper execution of the principal Act. The Bill was originally introduced into Parliament in 1897. From that time it has been regularly introduced at the beginning of every session, and having passed through all its stages in another place, has been regularly abandoned in this House at the end of every session. I think that is very much to be regretted. The Government have treated this question, which is one of great social importance, with contemptuous indifference, and I think it is a public scandal that a Bill of this kind should be abandoned year after year, especially when we know that lunacy is unhappily increasing by leaps and bounds. There is an additional and very strong reason why this Bill should fee proceeded with during the present session. We have been startled recently by revelations as to a practice which has been proved to exist in two metropolitan unions, and which I believe to be widely prevalent, under which poor law officers—
§ MR. PICKERSGILL
I will, of course, submit to your ruling, Sir; but I think that I can show that my observations are strictly in order, and for this reason: The other day the Lord Chancellor gave a pledge that a clause to deal with this particular matter should be introduced into this Bill, and therefore, if this Bill is abandoned,† the special mode of dealing with the public scandal to which I have referred, which was indicated by the Lord Chancellor, will fall through. I think, under the circumstances, we are justified in asking the right hon. Gentleman, if this Bill is to be abandoned, what steps he proposes to take to give effect to the pledge of the Lord Chancellor? I hope this important matter will receive the attention which I think I may fairly claim for it, and that the right hon. Gentleman will be able to reconsider the decision he has just given.
§ MR. DILLON
This motion was never made with less justification than on the present occasion. It is a recognised custom, when the Government asks the† See The Parliamentary Debates [Fourth Series], Vol. lxxxiv., page 1064.100 House of Commons to make what is really a very great sacrifice, for the House to examine into the use which the Government have made of their facilities during the session. During the many years I have been in close attendance in this House no Government have made such a bad use of the time at their disposal, and have been less entitled to ask the House to make this sacrifice than the present Government. We have had many organised counts-out by the Government during the session. We had to adjourn for a garden party—a thing unheard of in the history of this House. In fact throughout the session there has been displayed—
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The hon. Gentleman is entirely mistaken. The debate on the particular Bill he refers to was adjourned, but Government business was proceeded with.
§ MR. DILLON
Important Government business on that occasion was interrupted for the purpose of the garden party. The Government then put forward a non-contentious Bill, and afterwards organised a count-out, which was successful. I believe it would have been more honest had the Government made the motion for the adjournment of the House. I allude to this matter as an illustration of the way the Government have used the time of the House at their disposal during the session. An impression has been created on my mind and on that of others on this side of the House, that the Government were in the same chronic position as the Irish judges who tried to persuade the public that they had something to do—a task of enormous difficulty. The Government have had little or nothing to do, and what they had to do they did not do, Instead of devoting time to discussing the misdeeds of the great public Departments, to the scandals at and mismanagement of the War Office, and matters of real public interest—such matters as are concerned with the proceedings of the Executive Government itself—they have frittered away the time of the House in very uninteresting business. And now, at this period of the session, they come down, as if they had been a hardworking and industrious Government, and put us in the position of being at their mercy to keep us every night to three or four in the morning. In my opinion they have 101 established no claim, by their conduct during the session, to that indulgence at the hands of the House. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House told us that it was the intention of the Government to pass the Companies Bill and the Money-lending Bill, besides a number of other small Bills, including some Irish Bills, which he said were non-contentious. Some of these non-contentious Bills, I am afraid, he will find out are contentious when we come to deal with them; and I presume they will be dropped. But I do not believe that there is any prospect of passing the two important Bills the right hon. Gentleman mentioned—the Companies Bill and the Money-lending Bill. Having the misfortune of being on the Standing Committee on Law, I protest against the Government doing now what they have done before—introducing Bills at this stage of the session they have no real intention of passing, and at the same time retaining Members locked up in the Committee rooms upstairs, where the atmosphere is atrocious, when there is no reasonable prospect of the Bills on which so much labour is expended being passed into law. I repeat it is most unreasonable to ask us to sit after twelve o'clock on the pretence that the Companies Bill and the Money-lending Bill are to be passed into law, when at a later stage the Government know they will be thrown overboard. But there is another ground on which I am entitled to oppose this motion, and that is the abuse of the time at the disposal of the Government in connection with Irish questions. Irish business, this year and last year, was chiefly concerned—as it generally is, except when some great Irish measure is brought forward—with the administration of the Executive in Ireland, and I protest against the custom of the Government in limiting and narrowing the opportunities for discussion of the conduct of the Executive Government in Ireland. What has been done this year? The Government have deliberately offered us only two nights for the discussion of the Executive Government in Ireland, while they have occupied nearly five nights of Government time in endeavouring to drive through the House one of the most iniquitous and scandalous Bills ever submitted to the House of Commons. I ask, is that a just or a reasonable way to deal with Ireland? We are told now that of the time which still remains to us we are to have only one 102 further night to discuss Irish Supply, making three in all—a number utterly inadequate and insufficient. The result will be that this, as last year, more than half of the most important of the Irish Votes—not to speak of the minor details of Irish expenditure—will be closured or passed without any discussion. I think that is one of the greatest invasions on the true province and rights of the House ever attempted in the history of Parliament. For these reasons I am, for my part, entirely opposed to the motion before the House. I think this indulgence ought not to be given to the Government as a matter of course. It only ought to be granted when the House is convinced on examination that the Government have fairly and properly conducted the business of the session and put the time placed at their disposal to a fair and proper use. Finally, I think that the Government on the present occasion, when they are asking for greater facilities for sitting so late, ought to have told us at all events the proximate date at which they intend to bring the session to a close.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
said that the most important matter announced by the Front Bench was that of the now Estimates. He called them new Estimates because they were practically now and raised new matters of policy. He would call attention to the provision of an order in the Business Paper which stated that any additional Estimates for any new service or matter not included in the original Estimates of the year should be submitted for the consideration of the Committee of Supply on any date not later than two days before the Committee closed. He was very anxious that that order should be observed, for there could be no question that in fact these wore new Estimates, and would raise very serious questions which might even become more serious before the Committee discussed them. He congratulated Her Majesty's Government on having abandoned several Bills to which he himself had given his most determined opposition, including the Dogs Bill, the Savings Bank Amendment Bill, and the Undersized Fish Bill, his opposition to which had become historical. That Bill, which was the invention of the opposite side, had been introduced in different forms on six different occasions, and 103 had been too lightly adopted by the present Government. He congratulated the Government on having, for the sixth time, abandoned an attempt to prevent the people from getting cheap food, and he hoped the attempt would never be renewed. He thought the motion of the Leader of the House was a very reasonable one. The First Lord of the Treasury had mentioned thirty Bills which might conceivably be passed, and which the right hon. Gentleman hoped might be passed before the end of the session; but he had sacrificed half a dozen of them, and more certainly would have to go. He believed that both the Companies Bill and the Money-lending Bill would also have to go. In the meantime the right hon. Gentleman had sacrificed three Bills in which he was particularly interested, and he expressed his gratitude to and admiration of the right hon. Gentleman for his sound discretion.
§ MR. LAWSON WALTON (Leeds, S.)
said that one of the measures which the First Lord of the Treasury proposed to proceed with was the Companies Bill. He would ask why a measure of such great gravity was not introduced at an earlier period of the session. The Bill was still being discussed upstairs, and it was most unreasonable to ask the House, when the measure came down there, to consider Amendments which involved very important variations of the permanent law of the country in regard to one of the most important branches of jurisprudence, in the small hours of the morning. If this measure was to receive adequate discussion it should be debated at an early period of the evening.
§ * MR. CHANNING
protested against the motion. The fact that it had to be moved was a condemnation of the conduct of business by Her Majesty's Government. The right hon. Gentleman had to put to his credit a very important reform in the conduct of the business of the House— namely, the allocation of certain days for the discussion of Supply. He desired to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether in the present state of business the fact that he asked the House to sit up to any hour of the morning to discuss Bills of great importance was an indication that he and those who worked 104 with him had not given sufficient consideration to the essential point that these Bills ought to have been introduced and discussed in the earlier part of the session. In recent years the earlier days of the session had been wasted in desultory discussions on Supply, which it would have been advantageous to have brought to an earlier conclusion. He hoped that the hon. Member for East Mayo would divide the House against he motion. he thought that instead of the House being asked at this time of the year to sit up to all hours to attempt to clear up important points and deal with important measures, as had been the case of late years, they ought to be taken earlier in the session. The right hon. Gentleman would remember that during the present session he had given members—and no doubt he had gained popularity in consequence—a much longer recess both at Easter and Whitsuntide. That was an altogether wrong principle, and it would have been much better if the House met earlier and forced important business through at an earlier date, and this portion of the session given over to lighter and more uncontroversial work. He wished to support the hon. Member for South Leeds with regard to the Companies Bill. It would be a very grave error of policy if that Bill were not proceeded with and passed into law during the present session. Both he and other Members of the House would be quite willing to form part of a quorum in order to help to carry such Bills forward, and they would deeply regret it if the Companies Bill was not passed. As an illustration of the way in which very important measures were rushed through, he drew attention to the fact that the discussion on the Third Reading of the Housing of the Working Classes Bill was curtailed and shortened in a manner which was very prejudicial to the interest of the great towns of this country. It was quite time that the way of ordering the business of the House, and the almost indecent manner in which it was conducted, was altered. All the labours of the Grand Committees with regard to the Companies Bill, and other important Bills, might now have to be thrown aside, and all the arrangements of the Government showed lack of consideration. It would be discreditable to the House if they did not clear up a creditable amount of work before they separated. He expressed a hope that in the future the work of the 105 session would be so rearranged as to enable the House to discuss the most important business in the earlier part of the session. With regard to Supply, he noticed the provision to take an extra day in order to consider the questions raised by the Supplementary Estimate. That was a reasonable concession to the interest of the public and the House; but he hoped they would have some assurance that the two most important Votes which had to be considered before the session closed—the Colonial Vote, which involved the conduct of affairs in Cape Colony and South Africa, which was of vital importance, and the Foreign Office Vote, for which two full days ought to be assigned—would be brought on at the earliest possible moment; and that the earliest possible day would be given to the Colonial Vote. It would be most unsatisfactory to the country and to the House if that course was not pursued.
§ LORD BALCARRES (Chorley, Lancashire)
I am in charge of a Bill which has gone through this House, and also the House of Lords, which has made a few trifling amendments in it, and it now awaits the consideration of this House. The amendments are of a purely formal character, but as the motion now stands the chances of the Bill passing are nil. I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he could meet such a case as this, and other measures which are un-contentious, by allowing us to try and get them through after the Government business is concluded. By this motion the Government appropriate the whole of our time, and I wish to ask, on the conclusion of public business, that we private Members should be allowed to push forward our Bills. I suggest that we should be allowed fifteen minutes each day, otherwise, by the operation of the two words "I object," we shall lose some very useful measures.
§ MR. LLOYD - GEORGE (Carnarvon Boroughs)
I cannot help thinking that the Government are dealing rather harshly with the Bills of private Members. I refer particularly to the Temperance Bills, one of which has passed first and second reading, and through Committee as well, and will now be sacrificed. All these Bills are based on recommendations of Royal Commissions appointed by the Government and two 106 of which were appointed by the present Government. Those Commissions, after sitting several years and after grave consideration, came to unanimous conclusions upon certain topics. The Government not being prepared to legislate upon them, private Members have brought in Bills dealing with one or two of the minor points, and the Government give them no facilities whatever. I hope temperance people will take into consideration that the Government now want to take all the remaining time, and they cannot find time for temperance legislation for the reason that there are six Military Bills, and the whole time of the House has been used for the discussion of military measures. Not a single hour can they find for temperance legislation, which would be carried through without a division. Then, with regard to the Companies Bill, I cannot understand why this Bill has not passed into law. I cannot conceive a greater insult to the House of Commons. A Grand Committee has been sitting for days, considering this Bill very carefully, and I do not believe that there has been any waste of time. The President of the Board of Trade does not suggest that the discussion has been unduly prolonged. The Government then go through the farce—for it is a farce unless it is proposed that we should carry it through—to suspend the Standing Orders to extend the time so that we may have an opportunity to carry it through. Is it to be expected that the Grand Committee should consider this very important Bill, sitting for an extra hour each day, when they know perfectly well that it is not proposed to give a Third Reading to the Bill? If that is so, it inflicts considerable humiliation upon the Grand Committee. The right hon. Gentleman ought not to have asked them to consider it unless he proposed to pass it. Here is the most important Bill of the session, when one takes into account the interests with which it deals, and the changes it proposes to make in the existing law; and when one considers the complicated character of its provisions, it is a Bill that should be considered very carefully. As the right hon. Gentleman has said, it is a Bill as to the principle of which there is no difference of opinion, but that is exactly the kind of Bill that requires the most consideration. When a Bill is introduced, and there is a contention as to the principle, Amendments 107 are very often moved for the purpose of weakening it; but where the principle is agreed, Members join together in moving Amendments to strengthen the Bill, and this is the Bill which the Government cannot find time before twelve o'clock to consider. For this the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury is responsible. He has managed matters in such a way that the most important Bill is introduced at the end of the session. It is then taken upstairs, where it cannot be disposed of until the end of this week, and it cannot be before this House until next week, when other Bills will prevent its being taken until after twelve. I support the appeal of my hon. and learned friend, that the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury shall give us a pledge not only that the Bill shall be carried through, but that it shall be considered at a time when Members are able to apply their energies to it without distraction.
§ MR. GALLOWAY (Manchester, S. W.)
, who was several times called upon to speak up, was understood to say that he would like to ask a question with regard to the Government proposals as to the widows and children of those who fell in the war. The right hon. Gentleman had said in answer to a question that it was the intention of the Government to deal with that matter. What he now wished to know was whether, before the House separated, the Government would announce to the country the proposals they had in view, and whether the right hon. Gentleman would undertake that the Patriotic Commissioners would not be allowed to pursue their old tactics of accumulating the funds, which they had already begun to do. If the right hon. Gentleman could give an assurance on that point it would be of considerable importance to the country. He also desired to join in the appeal to the right hon. Gentleman not to take the Companies Bill after twelve o'clock, for a reason which had not been put to the House. The Bill had come down from the House of Lords, and a great many points had been deferred for consideration, and if those important points were going to be raised at two or three o'clock in the morning a great deal of harm might he done to a very useful measure. He therefore appealed to the right hon. Gentleman not 108 to ask the House to discuss these matters in the early hours of the morning.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
I am much afraid if the right hon. Gentleman takes the advice of the hon. Gentleman behind him he will not pass the Companies Bill this session. It is a very important Bill, but we know that some hon. Gentlemen are not very desirous that the Bill should become law; but if it is to be passed I hope the right hon. Gentleman will not listen to the appeal that has just been made. There is another Bill which has been sent down from the House of Lords, the Bill for the prevention of corruption, a most admirable Bill, which may be said to be a Governmental if not a Government Bill. It was brought in by the Lord Chief Justice. Now we know perfectly well that in the House of Lords there are a great many judicial Gentlemen of the very highest ability and reputation, and when a Bill has found favour with them we may regard its being sent here as an appeal by the Lord Chief Justice and the judicial bench of the House of Lords to the House of Commons to carry it through. This is a Bill which makes certain things frauds which are not frauds at the present time. I have before now expressed a not very high opinion of the House of Lords; but I always wish to be fair, and I think when the House of Lords does practical work we ought to give them encouragement by passing the Bills they send to us. Now, I should like to ask one or two questions as to Supply. It has been suggested that we shall have five days allotted to ordinary Supply and one day given to the Colonial Office Vote, and one each to the Foreign Office and War Office Votes; but I very much doubt whether one day will be sufficient for the Colonial Office Vote, because we have to deal not only with South Africa but several other matters—Ashanti, and so forth. With regard to the Foreign Office it is very desirable that some important discussion should take place before the House breaks up in regard to China. The right hon. Gentleman may say that we have the opportunity on the Supplementary Vote, and he also tells us that that is to cover money which is required for both China and South Africa. Such a discussion I do not think ought to be prolonged beyond twelve o'clock. The matter 109 is a large and important one, and we know very well that after twelve o'clock speeches are not reported, and the debate is somewhat perfunctory. If it goes over twelve o'clock, I hope the right hon. Gentleman will consent to give it another day. There is one other question. I do not ask him to give the precise figure of the Estimate, but I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman to tell the House what his idea is with regard to the future, about what the amount is of the Vote that he intends to ask for, together with the amount that the Government has in hand, so that we might form an opinion as to whether we are going to have an autumn session, as is suggested in the press, or whether we going to have no further session of this Parliament. This is a very interesting question, and we should like to have all the light which the right hon. Gentleman can throw upon it. We do not wish him to tell us whether he is going to advise Her Majesty to dissolve the Parliament in the autumn; but if he will tell us about the amount of the Estimate and what the amount of the borrowing powers of the Government are we should be very interested, and it might help us to reason the matter out.
§ * COLONEL MILWARD (Warwickshire, Stratford-on-Avon)
said he required no information on the point just mentioned, because whether the dissolution came early or late he hoped that Ministers would be prepared to face the consequences. He desired to support the appeal of the hon. Member for South Leeds with reference to the Companies Bill, that it should not be brought on for Report unless there was time to consider it seriously. He quite appreciated the fact that the members of the Grand Committee, who had spent so much time upon it, would feel disappointed if it did not pass, and there were a great many others who would be equally disappointed. The hon. Member for Northampton suggested that there were certain Members who did not desire to see it pass. He was not one of those. He wished to see it pass, but after consideration and in such a shape that it would not be at once rendered a dead letter by the legal gentlemen outside Parliament, who were even now preparing to drive a four-horse coach through it. It was a Bill of enormous importance, even to the working classes of the Midlands, who at the time of the cycle boom, when 110 many bogus companies were promoted, put their earnings into various companies. The Bill was only introduced on the 26th of June, and it was impossible in so short a time to consider it as it ought to be considered, and to form such a Bill as ought to pass. The labours of the Grand Committee had not been wasted, and the Government would, after consideration, be advised to take up certain points, and he thought that another year, by taking up the Bill earlier in the session, a more complete and valuable measure would result from their efforts.
§ Mr. BUCHANAN (Aberdeenshire, E.)
drew attention to the fact that on other occasions when this motion had been moved the right hon. Gentleman had stated that it was not the intention of Her Majesty's Government to keep the House late every night. Although the right hon. Gentleman had given no such intimation on the present occasion he trusted that the House might assume that that was the case now. He understood that the House was to have Supplementary Estimates brought before them during the present session; but if that was the case, he apprehended they would be in a difficulty with regard to the Colonial Vote, because, as he understood the programme, three extra days had been given for Supply, The Irish Estimates were to be given one day, and if the Colonial Vote and the Foreign Office Vote took another day each, there would be no time left to discuss the War Office or any other Vote. Having regard to the importance of the foreign affairs all over the world, he hoped further time would be given.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Several questions have been asked and many pledges have been demanded from me, and while I cannot say that I shall be able to gratify all those who have made remarks, I shall endeavour as well as I can to go seriatim through the list of questions. The hon. Member who has just sat down says he hopes the sittings will not be unduly prolonged. I am very reluctant to put undue strain upon the House, but, although I hope there will be no formidable amount of business of Supply or of late sittings, I am not able to give any specific promise to the House on the subject. As regards Supply, I have said that I would so arrange that there would be one additional day outside the twenty-three allotted days. I hope to do that. May 111 I point out to the hon. Gentleman, as far as the Foreign and Colonial Offices are concerned, that there will not only be an opportunity of discussing them on the ordinary Votes, but there will be an opportunity of discussing, at any rate, very large and important sections of these questions upon the Supplementary War Estimates which concern the granting of money for South Africa and money for China. In addition to these opportunities there is, of course, always the opportunity given by the different stages of the Appropriation Bill; and I am bound to say that that seems to me sufficient, even in view of the exceptional circumstances in which the House finds itself. I think the Leader of the Opposition was a little unjust when he suggested that an inadequate time had been already given to the discussions of the War Office Estimates. The immense amount of time given to those discussions this session must have escaped his attention. It has not been an undue amount, I agree. Undoubtedly the War Office has been the office above all others before the public, and on which discussion may seem most legitimate. But I have done my best to add up roughly the number of nights given to War Office discussions, and I cannot make them out to be less than seventeen. To give seventeen days in one session to the discussion of one Department is surely not an fair even in the eyes of those most greedy of discussion and most anxious to probe the War Office questions to the bottom. In this annual debate the Leader of the House finds himself a sort of target to be shot at from many different quarters. There are the gentlemen who say that all the Bills which have been passed are trumpery and trifling measures, and that it is the Bills about which there is any doubt which are the important measures, and measures which it would be monstrous to drop. Then there are those who say, "Though the Government's Bills may be all very well, look at the private Bills abandoned by the Government! Let the Government press on with those and the House will be satisfied." Then there is a third and the commonest class of all, who say, "Above all do not sit after twelve o'clock." And there are others who say, "However important it may be to pass this Bill or that, it is most important of all to give us an early holiday." All these appeals excite my sympathy, but they cannot all be grati- 112 fied, if hon. Members will go to bed when the clock strikes twelve, if they will be up on the 1st of August, and if they will pass these great measures; these aspirations are evidently mutually contradictory and cannot all be satisfied even by the most ingenious arrangements of public business. And if they are contradictory aspirations and cannot all be satisfied, as manifestly they cannot, I do hope the Leader of the House may not be supposed to be in fault because he cannot make such arrangements as will enable hon. Gentlemen both to eat their cake and have it also. The hon. Member for Northampton wanted to know what the amount of the Supplementary Estimate was. My hon. friend the Under Secretary for War is not in the House, but the Estimate will be soon in the hands of hon. Members. I am afraid, however, that a disappointment is in store for the hon. Member for Northampton. The amount, even if I could give it down to the minutest fraction, would throw no light on the problem which interests him. The amount would be the same if the House of Commons were scattered to the winds in the next fortnight, or if it were to drag out a lingering existence to the last day allowed by the law. The Estimate has been framed wholly apart from those Parliamentary considerations which are so interesting to the hon. Member; and I am afraid that no light will be thrown upon them by the publication of the details for which the hon. Member is desirous. My noble friend the Member for the Ghorley Division has made an appeal in favour of a Bill in which he is interested, and which has passed this House and the other House with only two or three trifling Amendments. Another Bill which has passed this House and in which only very small Amendments have been introduced in another place is the Bill giving compensation for accidents to agricultural labourers. It is evident that Bills of that character ought not to be sacrified, and I think it is quite usual and invariable, when the Government has asked for these special privileges, that such non-controversial private Bills should be starred and therefore escape from the drastic and destructive effects of the resolution which I now ask the House to pass. I notice that there are two Bills in the list which I road, which I hoped were non-controversial in their character, but with regard to which strong opposition has been an- 113 nounced in the course of the debate. One is the Diocesan Records Bill and another is an Irish Bill with respect to which the leader of the Nationalist party has declared his intention of moving an Amendment. [Mr. DILLON: The four Irish Bills are controversial.] Then I suppose the four Irish Bills will have to be dropped. The hon. Member for South-west Bethnal Green reproached the Government with having dropped the Lunacy Bill. I greatly regret that it has boon dropped: and I quite recognise that there are important provisions which it is really most desirable to pass into law without delay. But the Bill is a long one. It contains a large number of miscellaneous administrative reforms which it is impossible to pass through the House without considerable discussion; and therefore it is with the greatest reluctance that I feel bound to adhere to the decision already come to not to press the measure on the attention of the House. I think I have dealt with almost every point which was raised, except the Companies Bill. I stated at the beginning of the debate that that is a Bill which I hope will be allowed to pass; and I see no reason why it should not pass. The right hon. Gentleman said that I had missed the most important element in my statement, because I refrained from giving any date for the probable adjournment of the House. That date can never be given with assurance, and it could be given with less assurance than ever this year, because there are not only the Bills which I have mentioned, but the financial proposals which have to be made, to be taken into account. I do not like to say within a day or hour—or even within several days—when the session will come to an end; but I shall be greatly disappointed if it does not end during the week beginning 5th August. I hope it will not be later than the ordinary time; it may be even earlier. I do not see why it should not, if the House sets to work in a businesslike fashion. It is true that the hon. Member for East Northamptonshire, who is peculiarly violent in his criticisms of the conduct of public business, said that it was outrageous
§ that we should have had such long holidays at Easter and Whitsuntide; and he desired that we should get up on 1st August. When the hon. Member is Leader of the House he will find that ideal, though a delightful one, is not easy to realise. It is possible to induce the House to take fairly long holidays at Easter and Whitsuntide, and especially when they meet, as this year they have done, in January; but it is not possible to induce the House to get up on 1st August.
§ * MR. CHANNING
On the contrary, I offered to stop longer, to help pass Bills like the Companies Bill. I thought the House ought to stop longer. My suggestion was that the great Hills should be taken earlier in the session.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I demur from the hon. Gentleman on that point. The Bills we have taken earlier in the session are very important Bills—quite as important as any that remain, so that the only difference between us is that the hon. Member would have taken the Companies Bill before the Housing of the Working Classes Bill. It is a matter on which the hon. Member and myself are hardly likely to agree.
§ MR. KEARLEY (Devonport)
What about the point raised by the hon. Member for South-west Manchester, with respect to the funds of the Patriotic Commissioners?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
With all deference to my honourable friend, I do not think that it is very relevant to this discussion; but I think it is extremely likely that we shall be able to inform the House what our proposals are before the end of the session. But on that point I make no pledge. On the whole, I think the motion has not been unkindly received, even by the severest of our critics, and I hope that without a division we may now proceed to the ordinary business of the day.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 240; Noes, 114. (Division List No. 219.)117
|Acland-Hood. Capt. Sir Alex. F.||Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Banbury, Frederick George|
|Aird, John||Bailey, James (Walworth)||Barry, Rt. Hn. A.H.S.(Hunts)|
|Allsopp, Hon. George||Baird, John George Alexander||Bartley, George C. T.|
|Arnold, Alfred||Balcarres, Lord||Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H.(Bristol)|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J.(Manch'r)||Beaumont, Wentworth, C. B.|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert H.||Balfour, Rt. Hn. G. W. (Leeds)||Bethell, Commander|
|Bigwood, James||Greene, Henry D. (Shrewsbury)||Pearson, Sir Weetman D.|
|Bill, Charles||Greville, Hon. Ronald||Pease, Herbert P. (Darlington)|
|Blakiston-Houston, John||Gull, Sir Cameron||Percy, Earl|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Gunter, Colonel||Phillpotts, Captain Arthur|
|Boulnois, Edmund||Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord George||Pierpoint, Robert|
|Bowles, T. Gibson (King's Lynn)||Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robert Wm.||Pilkington, R. (Lancs., Newton)|
|Brassey, Albert||Hanson, Sir Reginald||Platt-Higgins, Frederick|
|Brodriek, Rt. Hon. St. John||Hardy, Laurence||Pollock, Harry Frederick|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Haslett, Sir James Horner||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Bullard, Sir Harry||Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale-||Purvis, Robert|
|Burt, Thomas||Heaton, John Henniker||Pym, C. Guy|
|Butcher, John George||Helder, Augustus||Rasch, Major Frederic Carne|
|Button, Sydney Charles||Henderson, Alexander||Reid, Sir Robert Threshie|
|Campbell, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Glasgow)||Hermon-Hodge, Robt. Trotter||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Hickman, Sir Alfred||Ridley, Rt. Hn. Sir Matthew W.|
|Carlile, William Walter||Hoare, E. Brodie (Hampstead)||Robertson, Edmund (Dundee),|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Hoare, Sir Samuel (Norwich)||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)|
|Causton, Richard Knight||Hornby, Sir William Henry-||Robinson, Brooke|
|Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbys.)||Houldsworth, Sir Wm. Henry||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Hertford, E.)||Houston, R. P.||Russell, Gen. F. S. (Cheltenham)|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Howard, Joseph||Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. (Birm)||Howell, William Tudor||Samuel. Harry S. (Limehouse)|
|Chamberlain, J. Austen (Worc'r)||Howorth, Sir Henry Hoyle||Sandys, Lieut.-Col. Thos. Myles|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Hozier, Hon. J. H. C.||Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert|
|Charrington, Spencer||Hughes, Colonel Edwin||Saunderson, Rt. Hn. Col. E. J.|
|Chelsea, Viscount||Hutton, John (Yorks, N. R.)||Savory, Sir Joseph|
|Coddington, Sir William||Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick||Scoble, Sir Andrew Richard|
|Codings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Jessel, Captain Herbert M.||Seely, Charles Hilton|
|Colomb, Sir John Chas. Ready||Johnstone, Heywood (Sussex)||Seton-Karr, Henry|
|Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole||Kay-Shuttleworth, Rt. Hn. Sir U.||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. William||Shaw-Stewart, M. H. (Renfrew)|
|Cornwallis, Fiennes Stanley W.||Keswick, William||Sidebotham, J. W. (Cheshire).|
|Courtney, Rt. Hon. Leonard H.||Kimber, Henry||Sidebottom, T. H. (Stalybr.)|
|Cox, Irwin Edward Bainbridge||King, Sir Henry Seymour||Sidebottom, William (Derbysh)|
|Cripps, Charles Alfred||Knowles, Lees||Simeon, Sir Barrington|
|Crombie, John William||Lafone, Alfred||Sinclair, Capt. J. (Forfarshire)|
|Cross, Herb. Shepherd (Bolton)||Lawrence, Sir E. Durning-(Corn)||Sinclair, Louis (Romford)|
|Curzon, Viscount||Lawson, John Grant (Yorks.)||Skewes-Cox, Thomas|
|Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Lea, Sir Thomas (Londonderry)||Smith, Abel H. (Christchurch)|
|Davies, M. Vaughan-(Cardigan)||Leeky, Rt. Hon. William Edw. H.||Smith, J. Parker (Lanarks)|
|Digby, John K. D. Wingfield-||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Smith, Hon. W. F. D.(Strand).|
|Donkin, Richard Sim||Leighton, Stanley||Spencer, Ernest|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Llewe'yn, Sir Dillwyn-(Sw'ns'a)||Stanley, Hon. A. (Ormskirk)|
|Douglas-Pennant, Hon. E. S.||Lockwood, Lt. Col. A. R.||Stanley, Edward Jas. (Somerset)|
|Dyke, Rt. Hon. Sir William Hart||Long, Col. Chas. W.(Evesham)||Stanley, Sir H. M. (Lambeth)|
|Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Stewart, Sir M. J. M. Taggart|
|Evershed, Sydney||Lowe, Francis William||Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M.|
|Faber, George Denison||Lowles, John||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Farquharson, Dr. Robert||Lyttleton, Hon. Alfred||Strauss, Arthur|
|Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn E.||Macartney, W. G. Ellison||Sturt, Hon. Humphry Napier|
|Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Manch'r)||Macdona, John Cumming||Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G. (Oxf'd Univ)|
|Finch, George H.||M'Arthur, William (Cornwall)||Tennant, Harold John|
|Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||M'Ewan. William||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Fisher, William Hayes||Maple, Sir John Blundell||Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. Murray|
|FitzGerald, Sir Robert Penrose-||Marks, Henry Hananel||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond||Martin, Richard Biddulph||Vincent, Sir Edgar (Exeter)|
|Fitz Wygram, General Sir F.||Massey-Mainwaring, Hn. W. F.||Wanklyn, James Leslie|
|Flower, Ernest||Mellor, Colonel (Lancashire)||Warde, Lt.-Col. C. E. (Kent)|
|Foster, Colonel (Lancaster)||Melville, Beresford Valentine||Warr, Augustus Frederick|
|Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Mendl, Sigismund Ferdinand||Welby, Lt.-Col. A. C. E.(T'nt'n)|
|Galloway, William Johnson||Mesey-Thompson, Sir H. M.||Wharton, Rt. Hon. J. Lloyd|
|Garfit, William||Milward, Colonel Victor||Whiteley, H. (Ashton-under-L.)|
|Gedge, Sydney||Monckton, Edward Philip||Whitmore Charles Algernon|
|Gibbs, Hn. A. G.'H. (City of Lond.)||Monk, Charles James||Williams, Jos. Powell- (Birm.)|
|Gibbs, Hon. Vicary (St. Albans)||More, Robt. Jasper (Shropshire)||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Giles, Charles Tyrrell||Morgan, Hon. F. (Mon.)||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh, N.)|
|Goldsworthy, Major-General||Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford)||Wilson-Todd, Wm. H. (Yorks.)|
|Gordon, Hon. John Edward||Mount, William George||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath)|
|Gorst, Rt. Hon Sir John Eldon||Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Goschen, Rt. Hn. G. J. (St George's)||Muntz, Philip A.||Wylie, Alexander|
|Goulding, Edward Alfred||Murray, Rt. Hn. A. G. (Bute)||Wyndham, George|
|Gourley, Sir Ed. Temperley||Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)||Wyvill, Marmaduke D'Arcy|
|Graham, Henry Robert||Nicholson, William Graham||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Nicol, Donald Ninian||Sir William Walrond and|
|Green, Walford D. (Wed'sbury)||Paulton, James Mellor||Mr. Anstruther.|
|Abraham, William (Cork N. E.)||Hedderwick, Thomas Chas. H.||Pickersgill, Edward Hare|
|Allan, William (Gateshead)||Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Charles H.||Pilkington, Sir G.A.(Lancs S. W.)|
|Allison, Robert Andrew||Hogan, James Francis||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Ambrose, Robert||Holland, William Henry||Provand, Andrew Dry burgh|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Horniman, Frederick John||Redmond, John E.(Waterford)|
|Austin, M. (Limerick, W.)||Humphreys-Owen, Arthur C.||Roberts,.John H. (Denbighs.)|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Jameson, Major J. Eustace||Robson, William Snowdon|
|Bailey, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Joicey, Sir James||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Billson, Alfred||Jones, David Brynmor (Swans')||Scott, Chas. Prestwich (Leigh|
|Birrell, Augustine||Jones, William (Carnarvonsh.)||Shaw, Charles E. (Stafford)|
|Blake, Edward||Kearley, Hudson E.||Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)|
|Broadhurst, Henry||Kitson, Sir James||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Labouchere, Henry||Spicer, Albert|
|Burns, John||Langley, Batty||Stanhope, Hon. Philip J.|
|Caldwell, James||Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cumb'l'nd)||Strachey, Edward|
|Carvill, Patrick G. Hamilton||Lewis John Herbert||Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Lloyd-George, David||Sullivan. T. D. (Donegal, W.)|
|Clark, Dr. G. B.||Lough, Thomas||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)|
|Colville, John||Macaleese, Daniel||Thomas, Alfred (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Commins, Andrew||MacDonnell, Dr. M. A.(Qn'sC.)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Crean, Eugene||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Ure, Alexander|
|Crilly, Daniel||M'Dermott, Patrick||Wallace, Robert|
|Curran, Thomas B. (Donegal)||M'Ghee, Richard||Walton, John L. (Leeds, S.)|
|Curran, Thomas (Sligo, S.)||M'Laren, Charles Benjamin||Wedderburn, Sir William|
|Dalziel, James Henry||M'Leod, John||Weir, James Galloway|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Maddison, Fred||Whiteley, George (Stockport)|
|Dillon, John||Mappin, Sir Frederick Thorpe||Whittaker, Thames Palmer|
|Doogan, P. C.||Mather, William||Williams, John Carvell(Notts.),|
|Duckworth, James||Moulton, John Fletcher||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)|
|Dunn, Sir William||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Emmott, Alfred||Nussey, Thomas Willans||Wilson, John (Govan).|
|Evans, Samuel T. (Glamorgan)||O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)||Wilson, Jos. H (Middlesbrough|
|Fenwick, Charles||O'Connor, Arthur (Donegal)||Woodhouse, Sir J. T. (Huddersf'd)|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||0'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.)||Woods, Samuel|
|Flynn, James Christopher||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Young, Samuel (Cavan, East)|
|Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co)||O'Kelly, James||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||O'Malley, William||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Griffith, Ellis J.||Palmer, George W. (Reading)||Captain Donelan and|
|Harwood, George||Pickard, Benjamin||Mr. Patrick O'Brien.|
§ 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.