HC Deb 02 April 1901 vol 92 cc555-75

Standing Order 50 read:—"That all Bills which shall have been committed to one of the said Standing Committees shall, when reported to the House, be proceeded with as if they had been reported from a Committee of the whole House: Provided that the, provisions of the Standing Order 'Consideration of a Sill as amended' shall not apply to a Bill reported to the House by a Standing Committee."


said that if any apology were needed from him for introducing this very important subject of the Amendment of Standing Orders, he begged to make it at once. He had for many years taken a deep interest in the work of the Standing Committee, and was familiar with the time in the history of Parliament when the new system was inaugurated by Mr. Gladstone, which, as he thought, wisely embodied the principle of delegation. He hoped the House would remember the circumstances under which that principle was adopted. He believed that the result of the experiment had been highly successful. The duties of Standing Committees had been confined to problems of administrative detail, and he, for his part, would strengthen those Committees; as he was quite sure that the business of the House was now becoming so heavy and covered so wide a range that the principle of delegation had become absolutely necessary to the successful issue of Parliamentary proceedings. The feeling of the Parliament elected in 1895 was less satisfactory on this point than the system which prevailed in the preceding Parliament. He had observed with great regret in the Parliament which had recently expired that the decisions of Standing Committees had not been received with the same respect as in the preceding Parliament; and he trusted that the Parliament now commencing its duties would, under the guidance of Mr. Speaker, follow the precedent of earlier Parliaments rather than that of the later. Parliament had certainly shown confidence in these Committees, because it had delegated to them subjects of the most gigantic importance. Not many years ago it was the rule of the House when a Bill had been amended in Committee of the Whole House to put the Report stage from the Chair in these words, "That the Bill be now considered." That proceeding involved considerable delay; for it often gave rise to a Second Reading debate, and constituted a great impediment to the advancement of wholesome legislation. When the Standing Committees were first inaugurated, no Amendment was introduced to effect the abolition of that stage, and one part of his present proposal was to secure that when a Standing Committee had carefully considered a Bill and amended it, the Report stage should be taken without question put, and that the House be enabled to proceed immediately with the Report. There was one point in the procedure of the Standing Committees and of Committees of the Whole House which was, as he thought, unfortunately identical. If a Committee of the whole House had passed a Bill without amendment there was no Report stage. He did not regret that condition of things, because the whole House had had an opportunity of considering the whole question, and every clause of the Bill had passed in review before it. But in the case of Standing Committees which had passed a Bill without amendment the same rule applied, and he did not think that that was desirable; because in that case the House as a whole had had no opportunity of examining the Bill in detail, and was granted none except by the cumbrous and oftentimes impossible procedure; of moving that the Bill be, recommitted. They all knew the great difficulty of adopting that course and the impediment which it interposed to the progress of a Bill. The proposal which he made, therefore, was, that in cases where a comparatively thinly attended Committee had passed a Bill without amendment, an opportunity should be given for the measure to be considered by the whole House, and for every clause to be submitted to investigation.

The system of delegation had been carried out successfully as a whole, but he thought that the Amendments which he had ventured to indicate ought to be made. The House had committed to Standing Committees subjects of the greatest importance, one or two of which he would enumerate in order to illustrate his point. First there was the question of vaccination, a subject of very great importance indeed, and yet the number of Members who took part in the deliberations of the Standing Committee on that was most unsatisfactory. He found that the highest number who voted in any one division was not more than twenty-two, and yet they knew how the public mind was stirred upon that question, and how great was the magnitude of the issue involved. Then they had in 1899 the Act which, for the first time, gave this country free elementary education. That again was most important, and yet the highest number of Members who voted on that Standing Committee was twenty-one. In 1900 there was another Education Bill, in charge of his right hon. friend the Member for Cambridge University, and in the Standing Committee to which that was referred the highest number of votes recorded was twenty-six. He might recall to their minds the Corrupt Practices Bill of 1895—a Bill of very great importance, which gave new powers with regard to the conduct of elections and exposed many persons to the severest penalties. That was passed through a Standing Committee in which the highest number of votes recorded was twenty-two. Did not those figures constitute sufficient proof that the action of Standing Committees in considering proposed changes in a Bill was not altogether satisfactory? He was quite aware that his right hon. friend would say not many Bills had passed the Standing Committees without amendment. But still there were some, and some, too, of considerable importance. There was at least one each year, and last year there were two—one of them a Government Bill of very great moment, dealing with education. It was greatly to be regretted that no opportunity was afforded for submitting that Bill to the House clause by clause and word by word. His desire was to strengthen the existing Standing Committees and to bring them back to the position which they occupied in the Parliament elected in 1893 rather than to their inferior position in the succeeding Parliament. He believed that the proposals which he made would tend in that direction, and would give greater vigour to the proceedings of those Committees. They would render possible legislation which was now difficult by reason of rules tending to impede legislative progress. He begged to move.


seconded the motion. He said the whole question could be put in a nutshell. Under the present system if a Bill happened to pass through the Standing Committee without amendment the House had no power over it except on a proposal to re-commit, or on the motion for Third Reading. His contention was that a Bill referred to a Standing Committee should under no circumstances be withdrawn from the action or cognisance of the House, and the effect of his hon. friend's proposal would be to enable any Member to put down Amendments on the Report stage of any Bill which had so passed through the Standing Committee.

Motion made, and Question proposed. "That Standing Order 50 be amended by leaving out from the word 'Provided,' to the end, in order to add the words. 'only that all Bills reported from a Standing Committee, whether amended or not, shall be considered on Report by the House without question put, unless the Member in charge thereof desire to postpone its consideration or a motion be made to re-commit the Bill.'"—(Sir Francis Sharp Powell.)

* COLONEL MILWARD (Warwickshire, Stratford-upon-Avon)

supported the motion. They knew that if a Bill passed through Committee and if no alteration were made in it it did not again come before the House by way of the Report stage. There was a very important Government Bill to which that happened—the Agricultural Rating Act. It was considered in Committee of the whole House, not a comma was allowed to be altered in it, and the consequence was that it did not come before the House again. But on that occasion the House had an opportunity again and again of considering and voting upon the details. But in the case of a Bill sent to Grand Committee it was most unfortunate, when details had to be settled, that it should be withdrawn entirely from the cognisance of the House. They all knew the difficulty of securing a good attendance at these Standing Committees. They often had to wait some time before a quorum could be constituted, and it had occurred that a Committee had had to disperse without obtaining a quorum. The other night a Crematorium Bill was passed through the House after very hurried consideration, and was sent to a Committee upstairs. If no alteration was made in it by that Committee the Bill, which embodied a principle of the greatest importance to the whole community, would come back to the House and have to be either accepted or rejected on the motion for the Third Reading. Many hon. Members might wish to make important alterations in it, and yet be unwilling to take upon themselves the responsibility of moving its rejection on the Third Reading. It might be suggested that if an hon. Member took particular interest in a Bill he could get his name added to the Standing Committee dealing with it; but recent experience had shown that that was not always possible, and the result was that many Members might be deprived of an opportunity of dealing with questions in which they were deeply interested. He had himself endeavoured, without success, to get his name added to a Standing Committee. It might further be suggested that one result of the abolition of the Report stage was to do away with obstruction. His reply to that was that Parliament had always proved itself strong enough to deal with obstruction, and had carried through legislation when determined so to do.


also supported the motion. He was glad to think that this was not a question of party. It was a question affecting the Grand Committees which were experimentally created some years ago. He was quite sure that the general opinion of Members of the House was that the work of the Grand Committees had on the whole been very successful, and he was afraid that the only danger likely to arise from them was that they might be used, not for party purposes, but for the promotion of certain Bills by certain Members who did not desire that the House should have an opportunity of giving due consideration to them. At the present moment, if a Bill passed through the Grand Committee without amendment, then those Members of the House who were not Members of the Grand Committee had no opportunity at all of placing their views before the House, or of amending the Bill. He thought the House would agree that that was not a proper position in which such Bills should be placed, and that the effect of the Grand Committee ought not to be to relieve the House of Commons of all responsibility in regard to those Bills. He was quite sure that when the system of Grand Committees was originally introduced there was no desire on the part of the promoters of it to withdraw from the House effective control over the work done by the Committees. No doubt many Bills were sent to such Committees with the general assent of the House, with the object of being improved and passed through the Committee. There might be cases in which for some reason or other, possibly from apathy, there was a bad attendance of the Members of the Committee, with the result that the Bill was not properly considered. In such cases the motion of the hon. Member would effect a very desirable improvement of procedure. If, on the other hand, a Bill had been properly considered by the Committee, then the proposal would have no effect, and the House would be wiling to pass on to the Third Reading. There had been some flagrant cases in which efforts had been made to avoid a Report stage. The Government Education Bill was one on which, above all others. Members on both sides of the House should have had an opportunity, if they so desired, of discussing and amending if necessary the work done in Committee. But in consequence of that Bill having been forced by the majority through the Committee without any amendment at all, the only opportunity afforded them of discussing the matter in which they were interested was on the motion for the Third Reading, which, of course, was perfectly futile, so far as Amendments were concerned. He was sure the general view of the House would be in favour of maintaining the integrity, power, and usefulness of Grand Committees, and, as he believed the motion would tend in that direction, he cordially supported it.


If there had been any indication of any opposition on the part of the House to the motion. I would have delayed troubling the House; but as there seems to be general assent, the time has, perhaps, come for me to state the views of the Government. This is really a House of Commons' matter, I think that the Standing Order referred to by the hon. Gentleman is a curious instance of how a provision sometimes works exactly in the opposite direction from that intended. Under the old common law of Parliament, in the case of every Bill which came to the Report stage, the question was submitted. "That this Bill be now considered." This practice was found to be so irksome and to lend itself to undue discussion that the House passed Standing Order No. 40— That when the Order of the Day for the consideration of a Bill, as amended in Committee of the Whole House, has been read, the House do proceed to consider the same without question put, unless the Member in charge thereof shall desire to postpone its consideration, or a motion shall be made to recommit the Bill. The date of that Standing Order was 1882. When Standing Committees were inaugurated it was intended that the House should have proper control over the Bills referred to these Committees, and accordingly Standing Order No. 50 was framed, which provides— That all Bills which shall have been committed to one of the said Standing Committees shall, when reported to the House, be proceeded with as if they had been reported from a Committee of the Whole House; provided than the provisions of the Standing Order, 'Consideration of the Bill as amended,' shall not apply to a Bill reported to the House by a Standing Committee. The intention was to prevent the whole Committee stage being gone over again on Report, but the old practice was still retained that the question should be put, with debate ensuing thereon, "That this Bill be now considered." That was a laudable thing, but what was the practical working of it? If the Bill was not amended, then it came under the common law practice and escaped the Report stage. I venture to think that that was quite outside the obvious view of the framers of Standing Order No. 50, and I think that my lion, friend behind me is acting in accordance with the intention and true spirit of the framers of Standing Order No. 50 in bringing his Amendment before the House. You must always look at this Standing Order from the point of view of the use as well as the abuse of procedure; both are equally deserving of attention. The use of procedure is undoubtedly that when a Bill has been carefully considered upstairs, there is no reason for an extra debate on the question, "That the Bill be now considered." The abuse of procedure is that, inasmuch as under the present Standing Order, if the Bill is not amended and comes to the Report stage, it puts before the Standing Committees the temptation to commit—I do not say their besetting sin, but what is liable to become their besetting sin—that is, to refuse Amendments in order to avoid the Report stage. There may be also, possibly, the opposite abuse—Amendments may be put in upstairs which are not necessary, in order that it may be open to discuss the Bill on the Report stage in the House. During the ten years I have been in the House I have had as much experience as any one of the Grand Committees. I have been a Member of the Standing Committee on Law during the whole of that time: I have had the conduct of several very long Bills in Committee, and I have no hesitation in saying that I have never observed any controversial spirit in a purely party sense introduced into the discussions on these Committees. But it is possible that there may be a controversial spirit in another than a party sense of the word, and where there are many Members who are anxious to discuss certain subjects but cannot find an opportunity of doing so in the Grand Committee, I think they ought to have that opportunity when the Bill comes back to the House. The Amendment of my hon. friend affords that, and at the same time does away with the possible abuse of a rule which takes a Bill out of the cognisance of the House. The Government would be very glad if the Amendment were passed.


I have only too much reason to fear that the adoption of this Amendment of the Standing Order will be a serious blow at the few remaining opportunities which private Members have to pass legislation. The only chance which a private Member has of getting his Bill passed after the Second Beading is by referring it to a Grand Committee, and if a Bill which has passed the Grand Committee stage can be discussed as a whole on the Report stage the chance of having it passed into law will almost entirely disappear. A Bill cannot get to the Grand Committee unless its principle has been adopted by the House itself on the Second Reading. The Report stage, when the Bill comes back, cannot disappear unless it has passed through Grand Committee without amendment. It has been said that a Bill often passes through Grand Committee on account of apathy or want of interest in the Bill on the part of the Members. For my part, I do not believe that any Bill, raising any question of any substance, could possibly pass through Grand Committee without full discussion. I have had some experience of the Grand Committee on Law, and have seen Bills discussed by fifty or sixty hon. Members who had been appointed to that Committee with special reference to these Bills, and it seems to me an absurdity to state that Bills can pass through Grand Committees without discussion.

MR. GEORGE WHITELEY (Yorkshire, W.R.,) Pudsey

I congratulate the hon. Member for Wigan and the hon. Member for Preston on having placed this resolution before the House. It seems to me deserving of more attention than can be given to it in the absence of a very large number of the right hon. Gentlemen who represent the Ministry. The change suggested by the hon. Baronet is one which vitally affects the procedure of this House, and goes to the root of Parliamentary government. It changes in a very material degree the practice of Parliament in the discussion of Bills that have been referred to Standing Committees; and, in my humble judgment, in a matter of such great gravity and such vital importance we might fairly expect the presence of the right hon. Gentleman who leads the House, in order to have from him an expression of his views based on his ripe experience on all matters that affect the honour and dignity of the House of Commons. I regret very much that we should have had a statement only from the Lord Advocate, who, after all is said and done, is not of Cabinet rank. On a matter of this importance we ought to have had from a Cabinet Minister an expression of the opinion and feelings of the Government.

I am entirely at one with the Lord Advocate, and also with the hon. Member on the Front Opposition Bench, that we ought to deliberate this question as removed from party politics. No questions of tactics or party differences should be dragged into this discussion, as it is a matter which will be of importance when parties are altered, and when Members on this side of the House shall have crossed to the other side. The fact that this resolution has been introduced by two old Members of the standing and position of the hon. Member for Wigan and the hon. Member for Preston ought to have some weight with the House of Commons. This House is largely composed at the present time of new Members. Now, new Members enter with a desire to gain, as rapidly as they can, a full appreciation and knowledge of all the forms and ceremonies of the House; and they are apt, and rightly so, to look to the guidance of old Members in arriving at the decision which they may take. I do not think that the House could take, on a question similar to this, better guides than the hon, Members for Wigan and Preston. The very fact that they are detached in matters of this kind, that they have no political are to grind, and have no desire to further officialism in Parliamentary procedure, should have considerable weight with young Members. The Leader of the House we are all acquainted with. A Bill comes on for Second Reading, and hon. Members rise to debate questions which are perhaps of vital importance to their constituents and their friends, but the House knows too well that the pressure is such that many Members are debarred from speaking, and that when the debate is dragging its weary length the First Lord drops into the Chamber and moves the closure, thus preventing many Members who have fresh, original ideas, and who wish to place them before the House, from doing so. This does not assist or add to the dignity of debate, or the due consideration of measures brought before the House. When a proposal is made that such and such a Bill should be referred to the Grand Committee on haw or on Trade, very little discussion is possible, as the debate is rightly confined to the substantive motion, so that hon. Members who possess encyclopædic knowledge and fertility of ideas, like the hon. Members for King's Lynn and West Islington, are not able to prolong the debate and deal with the very pith and marrow of the Bill. The motion is put, and the Bill is sent to the Grand Committee. For a very long time I have been a member of the Grand Committee on Trade. I have very great respect for that Committee, and fully recognise the ability of its members in dealing with matters of trade; but, after all is said and done, even a Grand Committee, which is specially struck, and is representative of every view in this House, cannot possibly possess the expert and technical knowledge which is shared and enjoyed by the House as a whole. It is possible that upon a Grand Committee there may be a number of members who have strong opinions on any Bill referred to it, and the Grand Committee is debarred from finally considering and elaborating the details of the Bill. I do not desire to generalise altogether on these matters, but I will give one specific instance, namely, the Bill on Beer. What chance has this House, when the motion is made that this Bill should be referred to a Grand Committee, of objecting to it in detail? All chance is lost. If a Bill goes to a Grand Committee, hon. Gentlemen who are supporters of the Bill are in a majority, and all Amendments, even though they may be beneficial, are defeated, even if they have right on their side, not because the Amendments are wrong, but simply for the reason that if one word in the Bill is altered it is impossible to return the Bill un-amended to the House. That is carrying matters to extremes. The Grand Committee occupies a position of greater importance than the House itself, and I think in matters of such importance, of such magnitude, affecting a great article of consumption, the House as a whole ought to have power to deal with the details. If a Bill is returned un-amended by the Grand Committee, it is impossible to deal with it in the House except upon Third Heading. It is possible to move to recommit the Bill, but all hon. Members know that the House has a strong objection to any motion for the recommittal of a Bill, and very naturally so, after the Committee have worked upon it. It is looked upon as a waste of labour to recommit it, and therefore the power of recommitting a Bill is very seldom used. Therefore, so far as the recommittal of the Bill is concerned, it is almost impossible to obtain it, and even if it were obtained, the result, after the Committee's labours, would possibly be the same. Then comes the Third Reading, but it is a very responsible thing for an hon. Gentleman to move the rejection on the Third Reading of a Bill which is in the main an unobjectionable and a good Bill. No one likes to take such a responsibility upon himself, and if he did, and the measure was a popular one, the man who took that responsibility knows very well he would have an angry body of constituents to meet, and would receive from all parts of the country letters and postcards, anonymous and otherwise, innumerable. There is nothing down on the Notice Paper to-day which is of such vital importance to our debates, discussions, and procedure as this matter, and therefore I say it is the last weapon in the armoury of an objecting Member. A motion for the adjournment of the House is a broken reed, which would pierce the hand of any hon. Member who used it.

In the face of all these facts I venture to ask the House, notwithstanding the objection of the hon. Member for Waterford, whether it is not a desirable change in the rules of procedure of the House which has been moved by the hon. Baronet. I do not think that any hon. Gentleman who has carefully watched the discussions on Bills in this House can rise in his place, without he has some motive, and object to this resolution. I regret that the motion has not been on the Paper for a longer time. I venture to say that it ought to have been considered for a week or two, and possibly referred to a Select Committee, but above all, when a matter of such great moment is brought before the House we ought to have the direct advice, knowledge, and experience of the First Lord of the Treasury at the service of the House. It is to be deplored that when a matter affecting the well-being of Parliament as this does comes up for discussion the right hon. Gentleman should not be in his place. I hope that notwithstanding any opposition my hon. friend will go to a division.

MR. CALDWELL (Lanarkshire, Mid)

said he did not rise for the purpose of prolonging the debate. He approached this subject with a perfectly open mind, and he admitted that it might be looked at from two points of view. There were two classes of Bills which were sent to Grand Committees. So far as the Bills of private Members were concerned he was in complete agreement with the hon. Member for Waterford, that if it was desired to carry through a Bill to which there was the least opposition in the House, the only way to do so was to send it to a Standing Committee. But if private Members' Bills were to be considered on Report, very few Bills would be passed. In regard, however, to the other class of Bills—Government Bills—he welcomed the clause. Everybody knew that the Government, if they had a very contentious Bill, referred it to a Standing Committee, with the result that it was nicely got through the House. While he admitted that it would be disadvantageous to private Members, he welcomed the clause because in contentious Government Bills Amendments could be put down on the Report stage, and dealt with by the House. That was a great lever against the Government, and he should vote for the clause.

MR. BANBURY (Camberwell, Peckham)

said he had listened to the remarks of the hon. Member for Mid-Lanark with great astonishment. During the nine years he had sat in the House he had always thought the hon. Gentleman had exercised all his remarkable ingenuity in order to try and prevent private Members passing Bills through the House.


said he never put down Amendments to any Bills when they had been properly discussed either in Committee or in the House,; he only did so when proper discussion had not taken place.


said all he knew was that he once undertook to pilot a private Bill through the House, and the only objection to the Bill came from the hon. Member for Mid-Lanark. There was no doubt that when Standing Committees were first introduced, the idea was to relieve the House of a certain amount of work which it could not undertake, but it was not contemplated to withdraw all power of supervision from the House on these matters. His experience was that twice out of three times the only Members who attended Committees were those who were interested in passing the Bills with which they were dealing into law. It was impossible to get other Members to attend, and the result was that if a Bill passed its Second Reading and was sent to a Committee, there was every possibility of its being passed into law.


said he had always regarded the House as an extremely conservative assembly so far as its rules and procedure were concerned, but here was an attempt being made at ten o'clock at night to alter one of the most important Standing Orders without notice having been given to Members.


I beg the hon. Gentleman's pardon, but my notice has been on the Paper in one form or another during two or three years.


admitted; that that was so, but it could not be denied that the opinion held by most Members was that the idea was that there was to be a morning sitting for taking the discussion on the adjournment of the House, and that the adjournment would be taken at seven o'clock, and that there was practically no possibility of sitting at nine. It would be conceded that if the House sat at nine it was not because of any burning desire to alter the Standing Orders, but to discuss the question of pure beer. The House of Commons had no right under these circumstances to set itself to alter in the slightest degree the Standing Orders of the House. He was of opinion that the proper course would be to adjourn the debate until such time as a purely representative attendance of Members should be present. It was not a party question, but a question for the House generally to decide. If the motion was passed, the logical inference would be that Standing Committees ought to be abolished, because if a Bill, after it had passed through a Standing Committee, could be discussed in the House, the investigations by the Standing Committee would be a pure waste of time. The Members who attended the Standing Committees for the purpose of passing the Bills in which they were interested, as was alleged by the hon. Member for Peckham, were not permanent Members of the Committee, but were imported on various occasions. Of course, if it was alleged that the permanent Members neglected their duty, that would be an argument in favour of the rule, and if that were so, he would say, do not alter the rule, but abolish the Standing Committee altogether. He urged the House not to alter the rule upon such comparatively short notice as had been given, and he begged leave to move, "That the Debate be now adjourned."


I cannot accept the motion. The motion of the hon. Baronet has been down on the Paper for several days; there is no surprise.


On a point of order, do I understand, Sir, that you refuse the motion made because you consider it to be an abuse of the privileges of the House?



MR. RICHARDS (Finsbury, E.)

After your ruling, Sir, I cannot do what I was about to do, namely, second the motion of the hon. Member for East Clare. I heartily concur with what has been said by the hon. Member for Peckham as to the attendance on Grand Committees. In my own experience, a large number of hon. Gentlemen are put on the Grand Committee to discuss a particular measure, and what happens? A large number of those gentlemen are always absent, and are fetched in to take part in the division without their having heard one word of the arguments. But it seems an extraordinary thing that at this period of the session, and on this particular evening, we should be asked to discuss a motion of a somewhat revolutionary character, and I cannot help thinking that we should not proceed further upon this motion without some advice and guidance from the Government.

MR. HARWOOD (Bolton)

said the motion practically rang the knell of the Standing Committees, and he should vote for it on that account. He had been for some time a Member of the Standing Committee on Law, and his experience was that there was the greatest difficulty in getting a quorum. The thing was simply reduced to a farce time after time. They had had to suspend the proceedings in order that those who were in favour of something in a Bill might run about to get other Members to support them. The sending of a Bill to a Standing Committee meant avoiding the Report stage and getting it through by a back door. He thought, therefore, they shoud, understand exactly what they were doing.

MR. JOHN BURNS (Battersea)

said he was a member of the Grand Committee on Law. His experience was that the Grand Committee on Trade had done its work exceedingly well, and had materially lightened the duties of the House. It was true that the attendance at the sittings of the Grand Committee on Law had not been quite so numerous as in the other case, but that was probably due to the fact that the number of lawyers on the Committee was disproportionately large, and they all knew very well that the House of Commons and the British Constitution had to adapt themselves absolutely and entirely to the exigencies of their legal work. He was not disposed to surrender these Standing Committees simply because a few lawyers did not attend so often as they ought. The point should not be raised in the way his hon, friend had raised it. If they were to consider whether the Grand Committees should be abolished, let them have a separate and distinct motion, and all the facts placed before the House. The hon. Member pointed out that by having Bills considered in the Grand Committees the time of the House was economised. They could have too much discussion in the House of Commons. He thought the Government would not force Bills through Committee by using their majority unduly.

MR. CREMER (Shoreditch, Haggerston)

said his experience as a member of the Grand Committee on Law was that on some occasions, not many, they found difficulty in getting a quorum. On one occasion when the County Councils Consolidation Bill was before the Committee he had a private interview with respect to some Amendments he had on the Paper with the then Attorney General, who had charge of the measure. The learned Gentleman told him that the Amendments were very good, and two or three of them excellent. He said he would be glad to assist him in passing them in the Grand Committee, but that there was no chance whatever of doing it, because there were too many lawyers on it. If the House pressed him he would state who expressed that opinion [Cries of "Name."] It was the present Lord Chief Justice. He moved his Amendments, and not one of them was

Allen, Charles P (Glouc., Stroud Godson, Sir Augustus Fredk. Redmond, John (Waterford)
Ashton, Thomas Gair Grant, Corrie Redmond, William (Clare)
Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire) Groves, James Grimble Remnant, James Farquharson
Bell, Richard Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale- Richards, Henry Charles
Bignold, Arthur Horniman, Frederick John Rolleston, Sir John F. L.
Boland, John Joues, William (Carnarvonsh. Shipman, Dr. John G.
Bolton, Thomas Dolling Joyce, Michael Sullivan, Donal
Boscawen, Arthur Griffith- Lay land-Barratt, Francis Trevelyan, Charles Philips
Burns, John Levy, Maurice Warde, Col. C. E.
Campbell, John (Armagh, S.) Lloyd-George, David Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.
Condon, Thomas Joseph MacDonnell, Dr. Mark A. Wodehouse, Hn. Armine (Ess'x
Cremer, William Randal More, Robert J. (Shropshire) Young, Commander (Berks, E.)
Culliman, J. Morris, Hon. Martin Henry F.
Doogan, P. C. Murphy, J. TELLERS FOR THE AYES—
Emmott, Olfred Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South) Mr. Patrick O'Brien and Mr. Haviland-Burke.
Ffrench, Peter O'Malley, William
Garfit, William Reckitt, Harold James

passed by the, Grand Committee on Law. He believed the occasional difficulty in getting a quorum was not owing to any disinclination on the part of Members to attend, but because they found it practically impossible to do so. First of all, the Selection Committee made the mistake of giving Members too much to do by making them members of too many Committees. That was the real cause of the difficulty which was found in getting a quorum. He merely rose to controvert the statement made by the hon. Member for Peckham that it was very frequently found exceedingly difficult to get a quorum on the Committees. He ventured to say that some of the best Bills passed by the House owed their existence on the Statute-book to the efforts made by the Grand Committees on Law and Trade.


said he agreed with the hon. and learned Member for East Clare that the majority of the Members of the House had not expected to be called upon that night to consider the constitutional change proposed by the hon. Baronet opposite. The Leader of the House and the Leader of the Opposition were both absent, and he thought the hon. Baronet would only be acting fairly if he withdrew the motion now and brought it forward at a more suitable, time. He would vote against the motion if it went to a division.

Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Standing Order."

The House divided:—Ayes, 46; Noes, 82. (Division List No. 124.)

Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir Alex, F. Greene, Henry D. (Shrewsbury) Philipps, John Wynford
Anstruther, H. T. Grenfell, William Henry Platt-Higgins, Frederick-
Ashmead-Bartlett, Sir Ellis Gretton, John Purvis, Robert
Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manch'r) Greville, Hon. Ronald Quilter, Sir Cuthbert
Balfour, Rt Hn Gerald W (Leeds Hanbury, Rt. Hn. Robt. Wm. Ratcliffe, R. F.
Banbury, Frederick George Harmsworth, R. Leicester Rigg, Richard
Beach, Rt Hn. Sir M. H. (Bristol) Harwood, George Robertson, Herbt. (Hackney)
Bill, Charles Houldsworth, Sir Wm. Henry Round, James
Boulnois, Edward Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick Royds, Clement Molyneux
Bullard, Sir Harry Kenyon-Slaney, Col. W. (Salop Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse)
Buxton, Sydney Charles Lawrence, William F. Seely, Charles H. (Lincoln)
Caldwell, James Lawson, John Grant Skewes-Cox, Thomas
Carlile, William Walter Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage Soames, Arthur Wellesley
Causton, Richard Knight Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie Spear, John Ward
Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derliysh.) Llewellyn, Evan Henry Spencer, Rt. Hn. C R (Northants
Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor) Lowe, Francis William Strachey, Edward
Chamberlain, J. A. (Worc'r) Loyd, Archie Kirkman Sturt, Hon. Humphry Napier
Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry Lucas, Reginald J. (Portsmouth Valentia, Viscount
Colomb, Sir John Charles K. Macartney, Rt Hn W. G. Ellison Vincent, Col. Sir C E H (Sheffield
Corbett, T. L. (Down, North) Macdona, John Cumming Welby, Lt.-Col. A C E (Taunton
Cranborne, Viscount Majendie, James A. H. Whiteley, George (York, W. R.)
Dickson, Charles Scott Massey-Mainwairing. Hn W. F. Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)
Duke, Henry Edward Milward, Colonel Victor Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-
Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edw. Morgan, D. J. (Walthamstow Yerburgh, Robert Armstrong
Fisher, William Hayes Murray, Rt. Hn. A. G. (Bute)
Fitz Gerald, Sir R. Penrose- Newdigate, Francis Alexander TELLERS FOR THE NOES—
Flower, Ernest Nicol, Donald Ninian Sir Francis Powell and Mr. Tomlinson.
Fuller, J. M. F. Norton, Capt. Cecil William
Gordon, Hn. J. E. (Elgin & Nairn Peel, Hon. Wm. Robert W.

Question put, "That those words be there added to the Standing Order."

Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir Alex. F. Fuller, J. M. F. Pilkinngton, Richard
Anstruther, H. T. Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert J. Purvis, Robert
Ashmead-Bartlett, Sir Ellis Gordon, Hn J. E. (Elgin & Nairn) Quilter, Sir Cuthbert
Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (Manch'r Greene, Henry D. (Shrewsbury) Ratcliffe, R. F.
Balfour, Rt Hn Gerald W (Leeds Grenfell, William Henry Richards, Henry Charles
Banbury, Frederick George Gretton, John Robertson, Herbert (Hackney
Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H. (Bristol Greville, Hon. Ronald Rolleston, Sir John F. L.
Bill, Charles Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robert Wm. Round, James
Boulnois, Edmund Harwood, George Royds, Clement Molyneux
Bullard, Sir Harry Horniman, Frederick John Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse)
Buxton, Sydney Charles Houldsworth, Sir Wm. Henry Seely, Charles Hilton (Lincoln)
Caldwell, James Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick Shipman, Dr. John G.
Carlile, William Walter Kenyon-Slaney, Col. W. (Salop. Skewes-Cox, Thomas
Causton, Richard Knight Lawrence, William F. Soames, Arthur Wellesley
Cavendish, V. C. W (Derbyshire Lawson, John Grant Spear, John Ward
Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor) Legge, Col. Hon. Haneage Spencer, Rt Hn. C. R. (North'nts
Chamberlain, J. Austen (Wore. Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie Strachey, Edward
Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry Llewellyn, Evan Henry Sturt, Hon. Humphry Napier
Colomb, Sir John Charles Ready Lowe, Francis William Valentia, Viscount
Corbett, T. L. (Down, North) Lucas, Reginald J. (Portsmo'th) Vincent, Col. Sir C E H. (Sheffield
Cranborne, Viscount Macartney, Rt. Hn. W G Ellison Welby, Lt.-Col. A C E. (Taunton
Cremer, William Randal Macdona, John Cumming Whiteley, George (York, W. R.)
Dickson, Charles Scott Massey-Mainwaring, Hn. W. F. Williams, Osmond (Merioneth
Duke, Henry Edward Milward, Colonol Victor Wortley, Rt. Hn. C. B. Stuart-
Dunn, Sir William Murray, Rt Hn A Graham (Bute Yerburgh, Robert Armstrong
Evans, Sir V. H. (Maidstone) Newdigate, Francis Alexander
Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edw. Nicol, Donald Ninian TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Sir Francis Powell and Mr. Tomlinson.
Fisher, William Hayes Norton, Capt. Cecil William
Fitz Gerald, Sir Robert Penrose- Peel, Hn. Wm. Robt. Wellesley
Flower, Ernest Philipps, John Wynford
Allen, Chas. P. (Glouc., Stroud Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire) Boland, Arthur
Ashton, Thomas Gair Bignold, Arthur Bolton, Thomas Dolling

The House divided:—Ayes, 85; Noes 41. (Division List No. 125.)

Boscawen, Arthur Griffith- Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seal- Redmond, William (Clare)
Burke, E. Haviland Jones, William (Carnarvonsh. Remnant, James Farquharson
Campbell, John (Armagh, S.) Joyce, Michael Rigg, Richard
Condon, Thomas Levy, Maurice Sullivan, Donal
Cullinan, J. Lloyd-George, David Trevelyan, Charles Philips
Doogan, P. C. MacDonnell, Dr. Mark A. Warde, Col. C. E.
Emmott, Alfred More, Robt. Jasper (Shropshire Warner, Thomas C. T.
Ffrench, Peter Morris, Hon. Martin Henry F. Wodehouse, Hon. A. (Essex)
Garfit, William Murphy, J. Young, Commander (Berks, E.)
Godson, Sir Augustus Frederick Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)
Grant, Corrie O'Malley, William TELLERS FOR THE NOES—
Groves, James Grimble Reckitt, Harold James Mr. Patrick O'Brien and Mr. John Burns.
Harmsworth, R. Leicester Redmond, J. E. (Waterford)

Ordered, That all Bills which shall have been committed to one of the said Standing Committees shall, when reported to the House, be proceeded with as if they had been reported from a Committee of the Whole House: Provided only, that all Bills reported from a Standing Committee, whether amended or not, shall be considered on report by the House without question put, unless the Member in charge thereof desire to postpone its consideration or a motion be made to re-commit the Bill.