§ [THIRD READING.]
§ Order for Third Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time."
§ *MR. MENDL (Plymouth)
I beg to move that this Bill be recommitted in respect of Clauses 1 and 2. This is a, measure which passed through the Committee stage without amendment of any kind, verbal, technical, or otherwise. It has always seemed to me manifestly impossible for a Bill to be drafted in such a perfect manner as to need no amend- 185 ment of any kind, and, therefore, the forcing of Bills through Committee without alteration appears to me to be a violation of the spirit of the procedure of this House—a violation in respect of which the present Government has attained an unenviable notoriety. If this practice of avoiding the Report stage is to be encouraged, we may as well do away with the Committee stage also, for all the good effect the discussions have. This particular Bill is a very bad instance of this kind of treatment, because on reference to the debate on the Second Reading, which took place on the 21st June, *I find that the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Committee of Council on Education promised he would consider any Amendment which was made in Committee, and that the House should have a further opportunity of considering Clause 2 in particular. The right hon. Gentleman went on to say that if the House read the Bill a second time he would propose to refer it to the Standing Committee on Law, where the details of the technical clauses could be discussed, and the House, on Report, would have an opportunity of re-considering any matter of principle and giving its final decision. But where is that opportunity? I do not want to refer to the proceedings of the Grand Committee, of which I was not a member, but I understand that the right hon. Gentleman opposed every Amendment that was moved, with the result that the Bill again comes before us in exactly the form in which it was when it was read a second time. I know that on that occasion objection was taken by a large section of the Members to Clauses 1 and 2. The objection to Clause 1, as stated by my hon. friend the Member for the Morley Division of Yorkshire, was that it appeared to be a derogation from the statutory right to free education conferred by the Act of 1891, and made it a matter dependent upon the annual Code. I am told that the effect of passing the Bill in its present shape will be that 60,000 children will be excluded from the right to free education, and that there is a danger that the age up to which the fee grant will be paid will be lowered from fifteen to fourteen. Now, I prefer that if any such changes are to be made they shall be done by Act of Parliament, and not merely be dependent upon the annual*See The Parliamentary Debates [Fourth Series], Vol. lxxxiv., page 667.186 Code. So far as Clause 2 is concerned, it confers on boards of guardians the right, which they may interpret as a duty, of giving fresh building grants to denominational schools without conferring on them more control over them than they have at present. I know the right hon. Gentleman will say that the object is to enable children who are under the poor law to attend public elementary schools. No doubt that is a very desirable object to achieve, but it ought to be done without placing on boards of guardians the duty of providing further accommodation, where a deficiency exists at the expense of the poor-law ratepayers. That duty ought to be left to the school board, for it might quite well be that the question whether or not a grant should be made to a particular school within the jurisdiction of the poor-law union might become a test question at the election of the board of guardians, and I can conceive nothing more undesirable than that. The effect of this clause is to introduce rate aid in an indirect form, and that is a matter with regard to which the House ought to be very careful. I beg to move.
§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucestershire, Forest of Dean)
I will second the motion, because of what occurred in the Grand Committee. There the right hon. Gentleman the Vice-President of the Board of Education made a statement to the effect that if any amendment was made in Grand Committee there would be a Report stage to the Bill, and if there was a Report stage the Bill would be lost. I called attention to that statement at the time; it was reported in The Times, and I do not think the right hon. Gentleman will deny it. On former occasions violent attacks have been made by hon. Members opposite and the Leader of the House on the Grand Committee system, and particularly in regard to a Bill promoted by Irish Members to reform the municipal institutions of Ireland, which passed through Grand Committee without any Amendments. In the case of that Bill, however, an overwhelming majority of the Committee were opinion that no Amendments were necessary. In the case of this Bill, however, not only was the Committee almost exactly equally divided, but the right hon. Gentleman himself admitted that at least one Amendment was necessary, and he pledged 187 himself that if it was not made there and then it should be made later on. It seems to me to be a mere fraud on the House of Commons to avoid the report stage by the steps which were taken on that occasion.
To leave out the words 'now read the third time,' and add the words ' re-committed in respect of Clauses 1 and 2."—(Mr. Mendl.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words 'now read the third time' stand part of the Question."
MR. CHANGING (Northamptonshire, E.)
As a member of the Standing Committee, I wish to endorse what has fallen from the right hon. Baronet with regard to the conduct of the business in the Committee. I am in hearty sympathy with the motion made by the hon. Member for Plymouth. It is amply justified on the grounds which have been stated by both the mover and seconder. There is no doubt that these two clauses do raise highly controversial issues. There is no doubt, also, that several suggestions were made in the course of the debate in Committee which were, I may say, airily ignored to a great extent, and certainly were dealt with in a very superficial manner by the right hon. Gentleman. It is not desirable that the right hon. Gentleman should by a side wind effect a change in the law of the land with regard to the right of children to free education, which, in practice at any rate, would restrict that right, or as regards the rights of the community not to have the rates applied in this indirect way to the purposes of denominational education. Upon both of these points many suggestions were made in Committee; and eight or nine divisions were taken. Many of the discussions, indeed, were not pressed to a division. Although I was not present at the moment, I am given to understand that the Vice-President of the Committee of Council did distinctly indicate that there was not to be a Report stage, and that he resisted Amendments on that specific ground.
§ MR. CHANNING
Yes; and by so doing he reduced the Committee to a position of absolute Parliamentary impotence which I for one resent, and would have resented had I been present on the occasion. This is not the first time such a policy has been pursued. The same course was adopted with regard to the Voluntary Schools Bill of 1897, in the face of repeated protests. I therefore say I think my hon. friend is amply justified in the course he is now adopting. I hold that this House is entitled to have the Bill re-committed, in order that hon. Members who are interested in it may be afforded an opportunity of discussing several points, and of improving the scope and character of the Bill by the introduction of reasonable Amendments which the tactics of the right hon. Gentleman upstairs prevented the insertion of. This is a typical instance of the way in which this sort of legislation is deliberately forced through Parliament. I hope my hon. friend will press his motion to a division, and thereby enable us to express our condemnation of the policy which has been adopted.
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON (Tower Hamlets, Poplar)
I am not able to speak from personal observation of what occurred in the Grand Committee. But I must say it is a matter of notoriety that in that Committee every Amendment was refused on the ground that it was desired to avoid the Report stage.
§ SIR J. GORST
That is not the case. I must contradict the statement. No Amendment was refused on that ground, except one.
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON
I have never heard a Member of this House give a denial which was more in concurrence with the statement it was intended to refute. The right hon. Gentleman says that he only refused one Amendment on the ground that its acceptance would make the Report stage necessary. No doubt he did not give the same reason for refusing the other Amendments, but it is perfectly obvious that that was the real reason why all Amendments were rejected. There was the Amendment, for instance, of the hon. Member for Derby.
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON
The right hon. Gentleman has admitted quite enough for my purposes. He has admitted that an Amendment was refused because its acceptance would have necessitated a Report stage. I remember that in the course of the debate on the motion for the Second Reading of the Bill my hon. friend the Member for the Morley Division withdrew an Amendment on the understanding that an opportunity would be afforded of discussing the matter at a later stage. The Bill consequently was allowed to pass without a division. But, in consequence of the tactics which were adopted in the Committee, it has been impossible to deal with the subject of my hon. friend's Amendment, and now the Bill cannot be brought into conformity with the general views of the House. It is scandalous that a non-controversial Bill of this sort should be rushed through in the way it has been done, and if this practice is continued, I venture to assert that the system of Grand Committees of the House will become ineffective for the purpose for which it was created.
§ SIR J. GORST
Perhaps the House will excuse me for rising so early in the debate, but I do so in order to put before it the real facts, which have been entirely misrepresented by the hon. Member. This Bill was introduced by the Government with the idea that it was entirely non-controversial, but, very much to their surprise, exception was taken to Clauses 1 and 2. The rest of the Bill was comparatively, I might almost say entirely, acceptable. It was practically unopposed. Now what happened in the Grand Committee? It is wholly incorrect to say that Amendments were refused to these two clauses in order that the Report stage might be avoided. A discussion took place upon the clauses, and it was carried on without any pressure being put upon the Committee either by myself or by any other member of the Committee. Amendments were brought forward and the debate lasted a considerable time, and the Amendments were rejected by very large majorities. We then passed to the unopposed clauses, and it was upon one of these that what is known 190 as a drafting Amendment was proposed. As to that I was extremely frank with the Committee. I said plainly that the Amendment ought to be introduced, and I undertook that it should be introduced in another place. The matter was discussed, and by a bare majority the Committee resolved not to put in this technical Amendment at that stage. I certainly did tell it that if the Amendment were inserted there would have to be a Report stage, and that then possibly the Bill might not be passed this session. I also pointed out that this Bill was a very important one from an educational point of view, and I added that it would be a great misfortune if it were to be sacrificed simply with the idea of introducing a drafting Amendment. But I repeat that Clauses 1 and 2 were practically under discussion a whole day. No doubt there is a principle involved in them, but the House has an opportunity now of discussing that question of principle, and I am quite prepared to discuss it with them again. What is the object of Clause 1? Grants to elementary schools are now given for average attendance. This is calculated according to the Code for Parliamentary grant, and also for fee grant. The actual experience of the Department has convinced everybody that it is inconvenient to have the Parliamentary grant calculated in two different ways. I will give the Committee an illustration of how the necessity for this amending clause has arisen. Rural schools applied to Parliament to be allowed to calculate average attendance upon the best 400 openings in the year—200 in the morning and 200 in the evening. A snowstorm, or thunderstorm, or some other accidental cause, might prevent a considerable proportion of the children attending, and that would seriously affect the managers by reducing their grant. The only alternative was to send home the few children who did put in an appearance. Hence the application that they should be allowed to open the school without necessarily counting it as a school day. The Department found that by the Act of 1891 they were estopped from granting the wish of the rural schools, and they put Clause 1 into this Bill to carry it out. The hon. Member says that the payment of the fee grant according to the Code in existence in 1891 will deprive a number of children of the statutory right of free education. It will do nothing 191 of the kind. There has been no change whatever made in the Code which will deprive any child of any right, and I do not think it likely any Minister for Education will ever attempt such a thing. Clause 2 is to enable boards of guardians to make arrangements for children under their control, instead of being taught separately in workhouse schools, to attend the ordinary elementary schools of the country, and to pay for them such an amount as is reasonable, having regard to the amount of instruction given. Some hon. Member has discovered that this provision will enable Voluntary schools to be assisted out of the rates, but that can only be if the guardians pervert the powers given them under the clause to purposes to which they are not intended to apply. Having regard, therefore, to the great benefits which this provision will undoubtedly bestow on poor-law children, I hope the clause to which objection has been discovered in such an ingenious manner will be accepted, and that the House will consent to give this Bill a Third Reading, because it is a measure which, on the whole, will be a very great advantage to the education of the country.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE (Carnarvon Boroughs)
I do not propose to enter into the controversy as to what happened in Committee. One thing seems to be perfectly clear, and that is that the right hon. Gentleman did use the argument about the Report stage. I have been looking at the official report of the proceedings in Committee, and I find that the right hon. Gentleman used the argument just before the very first division in which the position of the Government was imperilled. The Ayes in that division were 9 and the Noes 10. My hon. friend the Member for West Nottingham voted with the Government in that division in response to an appeal from the right hon. Gentleman. Then the right hon. Gentleman says that he only used his argument about the Report stage on one Amendment; but he used it on the very first opportunity in which it was useful to him, and he got the Bill through by that device. Unfortunately this is not the only Education Bill that has been passed through this House in a similar manner. We have another Bill, regarding which it was admitted that it could be strengthened on several points; but it was carried through with all its 192 imperfections on its head, simply because the First Lord of the Treasury wanted to save a few days of Parliamentary time, and I think he is primarily responsible for the position in which the Vice-President now finds himself. There are several clauses in this Bill which are exceedingly useful, and that is why my hon. friend did not move the rejection of the Bill, but confined his opposition to the two first clauses. On the whole it is an admirable Bill, but the two first clauses introduce principles of a very pernicious character. I think the House ought to protest against the growing practice of withdrawing Bills from its cognisance, because that is what it really means. I do not really remember a Parliament in which the power of the Cabinet has grown so enormously as in the present Parliament. We have Bills drafted by Committees of the Cabinet, and then the House of Commons is asked to reject or to accept them in order to save time, and little or no opportunity is given for their consideration. The Party system is brought into requisition, and all opposition is squashed. I think the House of Commons, in the interests of its own dignity and usefulness, ought to put an end to this system. With regard to the merits of my hon. friend's Amendment, I shall only say that I think the Vice-President has rather minimised the effect of the second clause. Will the House kindly consider for a moment what is proposed to be done. A principle is to be introduced in connection with the elementary education of this country which has never been introduced before. It is proposed that boards of guardians shall, if necessary, contribute the bulk of the expense of building and maintaining schools which may belong to one denomination, and may be under the management of the minister of that denomination, without any provision whatever for any control proportionate to the amount of the rate aid. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman what would be the position, supposing the guardians, having contributed the bulk of the money towards building a school, found that afterwards, for some reason or other, the children had to be withdrawn from it, because, perhaps, the position of the workhouse had to be altered? That happens frequently, and the result will be that, as far as the guardians are concerned, that school will be of no further use to them 193 although money out of the rates was invested in it. I would ask what provision there is in this Bill to enable boards of guardians to withdraw their money in such a case. The guardians would have no vestige of interest in the property, and the result would be that the whole of their money would be handed over to the funds of one religious denomination. I think we have a right to protest against that. The right hon. Gentleman has gone further than even the advocates of the Voluntary schools. The hon. Member for Stroud and the noble Lord the Member for Greenwich have admitted that if rate aid were given to Voluntary schools there would then be a case for local control; but in this Bill the right hon. Gentleman proposes to give rate aid without a vestige of local control. I think we ought to protest against the introduction of that principle; it is an unfair one, and therefore I am glad that my hon. friend has given us an opportunity of protesting against it. The right hon. Gentleman said that this matter had already been threshed out, but this is the first opportunity the House has had of pronouncing on this particular point as to whether we are going to give local aid to these schools without local control.
§ MR. SYDNEY GEDGE (Walsall)
The rule by which when a Bill has passed through Committee without alteration it need not be considered on the Report stage is one which seems to me to act very well if the Committee to which a Bill is referred is a Committee of the whole House, but when that rule is extended to the Standing Committees on Law and Trade it works this injustice—it prevents over 600 Members of this House from being in a position to move any Amendment to such a Bill. I therefore sincerely hope that next session the Standing Order may be modified so far as to remove that injustice. I go further and say that if we were more remote from the end of the session, although I heartily approve of the Bill, yet, as I feel that a hardship is being committed, I would vote with the hon. Member opposite in favour of committing this Bill, as a protest against the injustice of the Standing Order of the House; but, having regard to what seems to me to be the great merit of the Bill—namely, the enormous advantage of taking away 194 from children that brand with which they are now labelled when educated in workhouse schools, and for enabling them to receive education equally with other children in public elementary schools—I feel that the game is not worth the candle, and as we are told that if any step is taken at this period of the session to delay the progress of the Bill it may have to be thrown over, I do not feel able to fight against the Standing Order on this occasion.
§ MR. ASQUITH (Fifeshire, E.)
Like the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, I think the Bill contains more useful than mischievous provisions, and, personally, I should be very sorry if those useful provisions were not carried, because I think they will effect a very desirable amendment in the law. But the motion of my hon. friend does not in the least involve that result. All he asks is that the Bill should be re-committed in respect to the first and second clauses. I myself attended the meetings of the Standing Committee, and I must say I entirely concur with the motion, and I think it is one which the House ought to accept. A very important principle in connection with our procedure is involved. On the Second Reading the discussion ranged very largely over details, and what was certainly understood then was that the right hon. Gentleman would take steps to satisfy the objections that had been raised. When the Bill came before the Committee, what happened? Amendments were moved with the effect of trying to obtain from the right hon. Gentleman the fulfilment of that assurance, but those Amendments were steadily voted down by the representatives of the Government, with the effect of avoiding the necessity for a Report stage. I am not altogether prepared to agree with the hon. Member who has just sat down, because I think that even when a Bill has passed through Committee of the whole House, such a course as was taken in connection with this Bill is neither justifiable nor necessary. Let me give one illustration. On the second clause an Amendment was moved the object of which was to secure some kind of representation, when the board of guardians made a contribution, in the management of the schools. This Amendment was defeated by 10 to 9. The result is that the vote of a single 195 Member of this House out of 670 defeated the Amendment, and even that hon. Member was in favour of the principle of the Amendment.
§ MR. ASQUITH
It does not matter. The illustration stands quite as good, for the fact remains that, as regards an important Amendment, the vote of a single Member prevented the alteration of the Bill in Committee and precluded any part of the Bill being discussed when it came here at a subsequent stage. It is really upon that point, raising as it does a most important question of Parliamentary procedure, that I hope the hon. Gentleman will press his Amendment to a division.
§ *MR. YOXALL (Nottingham, W.)
On the day when the Committee discussed the Amendment on Clause 2, the First Lord of the Treasury made his statement as to the progress of business for the rest of the session, and that statement involved a rather ominous reference to the Elementary Education Bill. Following that, the right hon. Gentleman the Vice-President told the Committee, with great and refreshing frankness, that if that Amendment was carried it would mean probably the loss of the Bill. Now, that particular Amendment was of very slight importance in itself. It was to insert a few words that ought to have been inserted by the draughtsman, to extend to the bye-laws under the Education Act the same improvement as to the increase of age as the Bill was about to make in regard to the Act itself, and it was promised that the alteration should be made during Committee stage in another place. He supported the motion now before the House to recommit the Bill as regarded Clauses 1 and 2. Both at the Second Beading of the Bill and in the Standing Committee he took the view that Clauses 1 and 2 required amendment and that safeguards should be provided, and he could not accept the statement the right hon. Gentleman had given that afternoon in regard to Clause 2. If Clause 1 passed it would be possible for a foolish President of the Board of Education to place on the Table for thirty days a Minute reducing the maximum age in respect to elementary education in the schools; and a lax House 196 and a lethargic public opinion outside might allow it to pass, though that was a conjunction of circumstances not likely to occur. But in regard to Clause 2, for the first time in the history of the country it would be possible to apply money levied upon the ratepayers to an elementary school not the property of the ratepayers and not under their management. It came to this, as he had ventured to say in the Standing Committee, that it was their old friend the thin edge of the wedge, of rate aid in favour of Voluntary schools. It would have been proper if in the Standing Committee the Amendment had been carried as it was discussed. He voted for it then, and he could not do other than vote that afternoon that the Bill be recommitted in respect of that clause. The remainder of the Bill was of great value, but he felt that they ought to have their consciences clear on the application, without safeguards, of the ratepayers' funds to schools not the property of the public.
§ *MR. TALBOT (Oxford University)
did not think that the issue raised by the hon. Gentleman was very important. A more important point had been raised by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Fife. The management of Voluntary schools seemed to haunt the mind of the hon. Gentleman the Member for West Nottingham, and he appeared to wish to put the ratepayers to the necessity of providing other schools for the education of pauper children. A larger portion of the wedge had already been inserted, because they had allowed boards of guardians to send children to industrial schools and other schools which were conducted on strictly denominational lines, and on the management of which the ratepayers had no representation. They should trust to the common sense of the managers of the Voluntary schools. If there was suspicion of proselytising, it was quite right to introduce safeguards; but if the management of those schools as it really existed was looked at, the hon. Gentleman need not be afraid of the danger which he professed to express. His experience was, that this danger of religious teaching was one of the bugbears which existed in the House of Commons, but which disappeared altogether in the air outside. He passed from that to the rather more important 197 matter referred to—the procedure on Bills referred to Standing Committees. He did not believe in the practice of hustling Bills through towards the end of the session. It was not a very dignified or decorous procedure. But it must be admitted, on the other hand, that sometimes the opponents of a Bill had almost forced the practice—undignified though it was—upon the Members of the Government who were not dealing with measures of first rate importance, but were very anxious, from the Departmental point of view, to get their Bills through at the end of the session. For what had happened? When Bills had been discussed at moderate length both in the House and upstairs, and Amendments had been moved by the opponents of the Bill, all these matters were raised again on the Report stage. The result was a double dose of opposition. Now a double dose of opposition might be all right on matters of cardinal importance, and if there was time, but when they came to a Bill of only Departmental importance—a Bill like this that was going to do a great deal of good to the elementary education of some of the most neglected children in the country, and therefore the most deserving of our attention—and the choice was presented of letting the Bill get through Parliament with tolerable facility at the end of the session, or to run the guantlet of a double dose of opposition, and therefore the chance of being lost—he thought his right hon, friend would have been almost more than human not to resist the Report stage if he could help it. One word more. The Amendment of his hon. friend the Member for Derby, referred to by the hon. Gentleman, was one of importance, and with that he cordially sympathised. It was an Amendment which raised large and most important questions. But it was better to wait some other chance of carrying it than imperil the Bill which they all desired. The subject of the Amendment should be taken up by the Education Board, and not left in the hands of a private Member. He trusted, as he had said in the Standing Committee, that it would now be considered a matter of honourable obligation by both political parties, to rescue little children who were attending school from the burden of hard work outside school, to which too many of them were now subject.
§ SIR HENRY FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)
said he did not rise for the purpose of prolonging the debate, but he wished to emphasise the remarks of the hon. Member for Walsall. The procedure adopted had deprived the House of an opportunity of moving any Amendments at any stage of the Bill. What had taken place on this, and on one or two previous occasions, was never contemplated and never discussed before the House when the Standing Committees were appointed. The House was always very careful how it parted with its authority, and what had happened in Grand Committee was that Amendments had been made, and consequently there had been no Report stage. There were circumstances, no doubt, which would justify the Government and a weary House in assenting to anything which would get a Bill out of the way, and bring the session to a close, but they should apply never to private Members' Bills, and only occasionally to Government measures; but the House having seen fit to extend this powerful weapon to private Members' Bills it should at all events reserve to itself the power of supervising the decisions of the Standing Committees. In this instance it was by one vote that the House of Commons had been deprived of the opportunity of fully discussing and considering the Bill. Standing Committees were very good so far as they went, but he was satisfied that their operation could not be much longer continued without drastic changes, both in reference to quorum divisions and the subsequent submitting of the decisions to the House.
§ MR. DRAGE
said reference had been made more than once to his Amendment, but the Amendment upon which the discussion had arisen he was not responsible for. He was, however, pleased the discussion had been raised, because it had afforded them the opportunity of obtaining from the Government on the floor of the House a repetition of the pledge that the abuses in regard to wage-earning children would be the subject of an inquiry by an Inter-departmental Committe, and that legislation on the matter would be introduced at the commencement of next session.
§ MR. ELLIS J. GRIFFITH (Anglesey)
The right hon. Gentleman gave us an assurance that these words should be introduced in another place. Will he now say whether he intends that the Amend-
§ ment shall be introduced in the House of Lords?
§ Question put.
§ The House divided: —Ayes, 137; Noes, 90. (Division List No. 252.)201
§ MR. ELLIS J. GRIFFITH
I have now to repeat my question to the right hon. Gentleman as to whether he intends to fulfil the pledge he gave to the Committee as to the Amendment moved by the hon. Member for Derby. He, I understand, gave a pledge that the words would be inserted when the Bill goes to another place.
§ SIR J. GORST
I do not think the hon. and learned Gentleman is justified in asking a question of that kind with the implication that I am not going to fulfil the pledge which I have given. [Mr. GRIFFITH: Oh, no.] The manner and tone in which the hon. Member asked the question certainly bore that construction. I can only say that I am generally in the habit of fulfilling such pledges as I give, and in regard to this pledge it is the intention of my noble friend the Lord President to introduce an Amendment in another place.
§ MR. HERBERT LEWIS (Flint Boroughs)
I think this Bill ought not to be allowed to pass without one final word being said as to the way the House of Commons has been treated throughout in regard to those Bills relating to elementary education. We all remember that a previous Bill dealing with an important subject was introduced, and this House was absolutely denied the right of discussing the Bill on its Report stage. Now we have another Elementary Education Bill, and we have heard the way in which it has been treated upstairs. Hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House have admitted that the practice that has arisen is constitutionally a most dangerous one. I am glad to see the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House in his 202 place. I wish he could have heard from beginning to end—and that is my chief reason for rising—the discussion that took place on the motion to re-commit the Bill. I wish he could have heard the expressions of opinion from those on both sides of the House as to the manner in which the House of Commons is being treated in regard to this Bill. Here are 600 Members who have absolutely no right whatever to discuss the details of the Bill and move necessary Amendments to it. I may venture to remind the right hon. Gentleman that the Government had plenty of time to carry this Bill through the House in a proper way. We have had our holidays extended, and there never has been in this century such a lazy Parliament as the one now drawing to its close. The right hon. Gentlemen who sit on the Treasury Bench have had comparatively little opposition, and I think it is extremely hard that in the case of a Bill of this kind, in which a large number of people are interested, their representatives should not have the right to move the necessary Amendments in this House. When Amendments are moved they are rejected upon the ground that this House must be prevented at all cost from expressing its opinion on the Bill in detail. This is a most dangerous practice, and therefore at the eleventh hour I venture to say one word of protest against it. We admit that there is much in the Bill that is valuable and useful, but we also assert that there are the potentialities of mischief in the Bill, which ought to be guarded against. We have had no opportunity whatever of guarding against these possibilities of mischief, and I can only deplore the course the Government have seen fit to pursue in this matter.