§ Order for consideration road.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill, as amended, be now considered."140
§ MR. MACVEAGH (Down, S.)
thought it would be the general opinion of the House that this was a most inconvenient hour to start a discussion on a private Bill. He believed that never in the history of Parliament had it been proposed to commence private Bill business at this hour of the night. A great many hon. Members were at the House at three this morning, and it would be unreasonable to ask them to consider two highly contentious private Bills. So far as this Bill was concerned, if they started upon its discussion they were likely to be here until three o'clock the next day. He therefore moved the adjournment of the debate.
§ MR. KEIR HARDIE
seconded the Motion. It was eminently desirable that the House should come to the consideration of the Bills fresher than most hon. Members were at the present moment, after practically an all-night sitting.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the debate be adjournod." — (Mr. MacVeagh.)
§ SIR FREDERICK BANBURY (City of London)
said no sufficient reason had been given for the postponement of the Bill, which he understood involved an expenditure of a million of money. If the Bill were rejected that money would not be spent, which might or might not be an advantage, but he had not heard any reason for it.
§ MR. DALZIEL (Kirealdy Burghs)
hoped the Government would accept the Motion for the adjournment. The Question for them to consider was not whether a million of money was going to be spent or not as a result of the passing of this Bill, but whether the House ought to discuss it at the present time or consider it on some other more convenient occasion. If the hon. Baronet had been a Member of the House when this measure was considered before, he would have known that there were several matters of considerable importance, and they wore adjourned on the understanding that they would have an opportunity when the Bill came back to the House of considering them, and of hearing what explanations would be given by the representatives of the railway company in the House. The hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London had asked them to consider this Bill to-night, and he welcomed him in his new position of asking them to pass legislation. One of the qualifications of the hon. Baronet was said to be that he could speak at any time, and at any length, upon any subject without any preparation. He hoped the Government would lend the 142 weight of their authority in the direction of postponing this Bill. As one who was opposed to the suspension of a rule which the House had solemnly adopted, under which they adjourned at eleven o'clock, he objected to entering upon the consideration of private Bills at this late hour of the night. He hoped the supporters of the Bill would recognise, in the interests of the Bill itself, that it was the obvious desire of the House that the discussion should be adjourned.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
invited an expression of opinion from the Government on this encroachment upon the rule which made 11 o'clock the natural limit of their proceedings. Rightly or wrongly, the House bad laid down that 11 o'clock was the natural limit of their proceedings, and he saw a certain objection to relegating private business to be considered after that hour. He thought they ought to have a clear statement from the Government as to what line they intended to take in connection with the general Private Bill legislation which still remained to be disposed of.
§ MR. ASQUITH
said that by a Resolution passed yesterday the House had deliberately determined that the Private Bills should be taken, and it would lie a bad precedent for a new House, in deference to a feeling of exaggerated uxoriousness, to suspend proceedings before 11 o'clock after passing such a Resolution. Of the merits of the Bill he knew nothing, and probably the discussion would be brief.
§ MR. CLAUDE HAY (Shoreditch, Hoxton)
protested against contentious Private Bills being taken after 11 o'clock. He regretted that he could not on this occasion join in the appeal which had been made by the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London that this Bill should be proceeded with now.
§ MR. EMMOTT
said that perhaps, as Chairman of Ways and Means, he was responsible for putting those Bills down on the Paper and he ought to say a word upon this question. He did not speak either as a supporter or an opponent of the Bill; therefore, anything he said had no reference to the point of merits. Two reasons for adjournment had been urged. First of all, there had been a general claim made that private business must not be taken after eleven o'clock, and in the second place it had been stated in regard to this particular night that the fact that the House was kept late last night was a reason for adjourning the private business put down. These were two separate and distinct questions. He thought it would be presumptuous for him to attempt to advise the House as to what it should do in regard to the adjournment to-night, but, as Chairman of Ways and Means, he would ask the House not to come to the general conclusion that they would not take Private Bill business after eleven o'clock. The House agreed to a Motion last night which stated that private business was to be taken after eleven o'clock on nights when the Education Bill was under discussion, though opposed, and in these circumstances it would be wrong, if he might be permitted to say so, to enter into an engagement against the taking of private business after eleven o'clock. Let him point out what might take place. Any Member could block any Bill because he disliked one clause, and he thought the result would be to introduce dire confusion into Private Bill legislation. He expressed no opinion on the question whether it would not be a good thing to adjourn the business put down for to-night, but he did beg the House not to come to any general conclusion against discussing these Bills after eleven.
§ MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)
said he desired to make an appeal to the Chancellor of the Exchequer as to what he thought would be the result of taking the Great Northern Railway (Ireland) Bill at this hour. It was a contested Bill. His hon. friends opposite meant to fight it, and he meant to help them. Hon. Members got home about three o'clock this morning, and some came back early to attend committees upstairs. He hoped the Bill would not be proceeded with now, and he appealed to the Chancellor of the Exchequer not to prolong this controversy.
§ MR. MACVEAGH
said he objected to the principle of taking contested private business after 11 o'clock.
§ MR. ASQUITH
said they were sitting on a somewhat exceptional night, and he thought they might assent to the Motion for adjournment, but entirely without prejudice to the general question of private business being taken after 11 o'clock.
§ Debate to be resumed to-morrow.
§ Adjourned at a quarter after Eleven o'clock.