§ LORD CAIRNS
My Lords, had the noble Earl opposite (Earl Granville) moved the first Order of the Day for the consideration of the Royal Message, I should have postponed the few observations I have to make, and the Questions I have to put with regard to the course of Public Business; but as I understand that it is the intention of the noble Earl to postpone that Order, perhaps your Lordships will now permit me to make some observations upon the former subject. The matter to which I am anxious to draw your Lordships' attention for a few moments is the state of Public Business in Parliament—a condition of business which so far as my perhaps somewhat limited recollection extends, is perfectly without example. I do not refer to the condition of business in this House. We have to-night a certain number of Orders of the Day which I have no doubt will not occasion much delay or difficulty, and on looking over those Orders of the Day which are filed for future consideration, there do not appear to be any which can occupy much time in this House. We have a discussion fixed for Monday which, perhaps, we may anticipate will be concluded on Monday evening; and we have the Committee on the Bill which will then be moved, if the second reading should be carried, which possibly may not occupy more than until the following evening. Beyond that, there are only about eight public Bills in progress on our Paper, and none of those appear to involve any question of importance, with the exception of the Norwich Voters' Disfranchisement 361 Bill, and the House of Commons Witnesses Bill. I do not know whether I am quite right in supposing those to be public Bills, but I am told they came to this House as long ago as the middle of the month of June, and no effort has been made, although there has been ample opportunity, to move the second reading of either of them. I therefore think I may assume that there is no intention of pressing those Bills this Session. With regard to the Norwich Voters' Disfranchisement Bill I have nothing to say, I know nothing of its merits or demerits. As to the Bill which proposes to give power to examine on oath witnesses in the House of Commons, that is a Bill which certainly appears to me to raise questions of very great interest, and without expressing any opinion upon it at this moment, I may say that it appears to be one which would well deserve the full and careful consideration of your Lordships, at the same time when that consideration could be given without embarrassment. But it is rather too much to expect that a Bill, which has been waiting since the middle of June for second reading, should be brought forward at this period of the Session for discussion. That is the state of Public Business in this House, and I think it must be pronounced to be satisfactory. I come now to the state of business in the other House of Parliament; so far as I can gain information from it, and from the authentic records of the other House, I find that although a very considerable number of public measures have already been withdrawn from the other House of Parliament, yet that, taking the Order Book on Monday last, and looking at the Bills which were filed in various stages for last Monday and the days following, there are no less than 55 Bills—not Bills sent from this House, but 55 House of Commons' Bills standing for various stages, from second reading up to third reading, which have to be disposed of in some way or other. Of course, some of these Bills have been originated by private Members, but I believe the greater number are Government measures. In addition to that, your Lordships have sent down from this House for consideration in the House of Commons 18 public Bills; and besides those that remain in the other House, these Bills may again occupy your Lordships' attention, in consequence 362 of Amendments which may be made in them. We therefore have of Bills in the two Houses of Parliament, which, require more or less consideration, and which have to be disposed of in the present Session, a grand total of 73 public measures. On the eve of the 1st of August I doubt whether such a statement could ever have been made in any former year, and I think it is a condition of things absolutely without parallel. But that is not all. I find, in addition to these 73 public measures, that the three great classes of Estimates have virtually to be disposed of as a whole after this time. I mean the Army Estimates, the Navy Estimates, and the Education Estimates. Now, of course, your Lordships have nothing to say to those Estimates, so far as they propose to deal with the appropriation of the Supply of the country; but, on the other hand, your Lordships do not, I am sure, overlook the fact that upon the discussion of those Estimates—and upon their discussion alone—can some of the most important questions connected both with the Army and the Navy, and with Education be considered. And the discussion of those questions is of interest, not only to the House of Commons, which imposes taxation, but to your Lordships, and the public individually, for in disposing of them there arise a fair opportunity of revising several most important and interesting questions. That being the bill of fare which has to be dealt with by Parliament in the present Session, the attention of anyone reflecting on that state of affairs must naturally be given to the one measure which, at present, seems to occupy the greatest share of the public consideration, for the purpose of ascertaining what are the prospects of that measure. Tour Lordships will readily understand that I refer to the Ballot Bill. Upon the merits of that Bill your Lordships will not expect to hear from me, nor shall I say one word on this occasion. But, without glancing at its merits, I may say that it is difficult to imagine in what way it can be regarded as a Bill of urgency. There is no General Election, so far as we know, likely to take place within any limited time, and I think Her Majesty's Government themselves can hardly contend that the measure is one which is to be treated in any peculiar or exceptional manner on 363 account of its urgency. I had the honour of a seat in the other House of Parliament for a great number of years, and during the greater part of those years a Liberal Government was in office, and I think I am right in saying that almost all the noble Lords I see opposite, who form part of the present Government, were in office in those former Governments. Yet all those Liberal Governments invariably opposed every proposition made in the House of Commons for the introduction of the Ballot. It is a question that has only of late been taken up by the Government, and I must assume that they have become converted of late to the Ballot from their former opinions. Not only is that so, but it is impossible, moreover, not to recollect that only last year the present Government, although at that time their conversion to the Ballot had probably taken place, were in favour of a form of Ballot altogether different in most material respects from the system which is proposed in the present measure. That being so, I would ask your Lordships to consider—and I am sure your Lordships will be glad of any assistance that the noble Earl opposite can render to us in doing so—witnin what time there is any prospect of that Bill coming up to this House, and what will be the capacity of this House for entertaining it. We find from the records of the other House that the Bill is in Committee. Being a Bill of considerable length, it has reached a certain stage in Committee; but there are still a great number of clauses to be disposed of, and further clauses to be introduced. Without going into any detail as to the length of time that will be occupied by it, I think any person would be undoubtedly sanguine who could imagine that the Bill could leave the House of Commons and come up to this House in less than a fortnight from this time. Well, a fortnight will bring us nearly to the middle of August. Now, I ask, is there any reasonable ground for believing that a measure of that kind, abounding in details, as well as involving a great general principle, can be considered by this House with that care and attention which such a measure ought to receive? I do not speak for one moment of what may be the convenience or inconvenience of particular Members of your Lordships' House, but I speak simply of that which is perfectly 364 well known and well recognized in the physical impossibility of any grave and great public measure being carefully considered after this time of the year, having regard to the fact that the arrangements which are made not by Members of this House alone, but throughout the whole of our social system, are founded upon the almost invariable practice of Parliament concluding its business about this period of the year. We cannot have better testimony on this subject than the testimony of the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government himself; and this was the view of the right hon. Gentleman on the 10th of the present month. Speaking of the Scotch Education Bill, and assigning reasons on behalf of the Government for not proceeding with the Bill this Session, he said that—"The measure was one of national importance, and it appeared impossible to proceed with it during the present Session with any prospect of obtaining such a general attendance as would ensure its proper consideration." The attendance there spoken of was in the other House of Parliament. Again, on the same day, I am informed that the right hon. Gentleman, speaking of a proposition with regard to a Royal residence in Ireland, said—At the present period of the Session, and in the present condition of Public Business, when the House was necessarily beginning to feel the sense of exhaustion, caused by debates on questions of great public interest, the Government did not think that it would be possible with advantage to bring the matter before Parliament.Now, I ask your Lordships to observe that in both those opinions, so well expressed by the right hon. Gentleman, the reason for postponing the measures of which he was speaking was, not the pressure of Public Business, but the physical incapacity of the House and of Parliament to give that degree of attention and attendance at this period of the year which measures of great public importance require. If any more evidence of the impossibility of proceeding further were necessary, it would be found in the course which the Government have taken with regard to measures which I venture to say will be, in the opinion of your Lordships' House and in the opinion of the public, quite of as great importance as the Ballot Bill. What has been done with other public 365 measures? The Scotch Education Bill, which the right hon. Gentleman said was of great and Imperial importance, has been abandoned. The measures of law reform, promised in the Most Gracious Speech of Her Majesty, have never been introduced. Those measures of sanitary regulation which have been urgently called for by the Report of the Committee which sat upon that subject, and which I venture to think are still more urgently called for by that fearful pestilence which there is too much reason to suppose is making advances in its progress to these shores, have been entirely laid aside. With regard to measures for the supply of pure water, which perhaps may be classed under the same head, there is no prospect whatever of dealing with them. Then, again, we have got the Report of a Royal Commission dealing with a subject of great delicacy, which excites certainly as much interest, and, perhaps, I might say as much agitation in the country as any public measure of the present time—I mean the question of the Contagious Diseases Acts. But at this advanced period of the Session, we find that the Government are unable to deal with any legislation upon that subject. Measures for the regulation of mines are also urgently called for; but they, too, have been set aside. Here we have a catalogue of public measures, every one of which is as important as the Ballot Bill, which have been put aside because the period of the Session is such that no attention can be expected to be bestowed upon them, such as they would demand in the other House of Parliament. My Lords, it would be a great mistake, in reference to the Bill of which I more particularly speak, to suppose that the only consideration is, whether there would be opportunity and leisure in this House to discuss and deal with the question of the second reading of the Bill? I am perfectly unable to speculate as to what the fate of the Bill might be on the Motion for the second reading, if it should come to this House. Of course, if it were not read a second time, there would be a close to any question with regard to it. But, on the other hand, if it should be read, it is a Bill bristling with details; and those details, which have occupied a considerable time in the other House, might occupy a considerable time in your Lordships' House. 366 Not only that, but Amendments might be made in the Bill, and those Amendments would have to go down to the other House of Parliament. They ought to be considered there; but I ask what prospect there would be in the end of August, or the beginning of September, of those Amendments finding in the other House of Parliament Members ready and willing to consider them? In point of fact, it would be a perfect farce, for it would be utterly impossible for the Amendments of your Lordships to be considered by the other House of Parliament, and I ask Her Majesty's Government whether it is their grave opinion that, under the circumstances I have endeavoured to describe, at this period of the Session there could be any fair or proper discussion of a measure like the Ballot Bill? Moreover, if the measure were brought up to this House, I should be very sorry to suppose that there would be any justification for the feeling which certainly seems to be entertained out-of-doors. I am informed that a right hon. Gentleman, a very distinguished Member of the Government (Mr. W. E. Forster), who has taken a very important part in regard to the Ballot Bill, expressed himself to the effect that the wish of the Government was to pass the Bill in the House of Commons, send it up to this House, and leave the responsibility of rejecting it to your Lordships, if you should be disposed to exercise your right in that form. I should be very sorry to believe that those words were intended to convey the meaning they obviously bear—namely, that the Government felt themselves committed to pass the Ballot Bill in the other House of Parliament, and feeling themselves unable to recede from their engagement, thought their only chance of deliverance from the stringency of their pledge was to send the Bill to this House not to be discussed, not to be considered, not to be received, but to be rejected by your Lordships, thus removing their responsibility. I ask the noble Earl opposite whether he considers that this Bill could at this period be discussed in this House? Then, I am told there might be an adjournment of the Houses; and this has been said as if the adjournment of this or the other branch of the Legislature rested with Her Majesty's Government, than which there could be no greater mistake. 367 One of the first privileges of the Houses of Parliament is, that they regulate their own adjournments, and are themselves the judges of when they should rise and meet. Of course, I do not forget that in the earlier periods of our Parliamentary history, it was the practice for the head of the State to regulate this matter by the exercise of the Royal Prerogative. But an excellent authority on Parliamentary practice (Sir Erskine May) tells us that the last occasion this power was used was in the year 1814, adding, that the results were such that in all probability it would never be used again. He did not, however, anticipate the use that would be made of the Royal Prerogative by a truly Liberal Administration; and putting aside that violent stretch of the Prerogative, it will be for your Lordships to say, and not for the Government—if the Session is not brought to an end by Prorogation—to what period this House shall stand adjourned. I do not forget that there is the power by statute of summoning Parliament at a notice of 14 days, notwithstanding the lengthened adjournment. But that is a power given to the Government in order to meet some sudden emergency, such as the Crown wishing to recur to the advice of Parliament, and not a power conferred in order by a side wind to overrule the Motion of either House for Adjournment. Now, I have no doubt that, if it were put to your Lordships that the interests of the public service demanded a meeting of Parliament earlier than the usual time, and that this could only be accomplished by means of adjournment to the autumn months, your Lordships would be guided by considerations derived from public advantage rather than from private convenience. But I apprehend the first inquiry would be into the supposed necessity of departing from the usual custom, and into the pressure said to exist; and your Lordships would require to be satisfied of the existence of that necessity and that pressure, before consenting to such an adjournment. Of course, it would be competent for your Lordships, if the Session were not closed by a Prorogation, to adjourn as usual until the month of February next year, and your Lordships might think it right to take that course. At present, however, I have to ask, what are the public measures which the Government anticipate 368 they will be able to bring up to this House; at what time they expect they will come before your Lordships; and, whether it is the intention of the Government to make any proposal to this House upon the subject of the re-assembling of your Lordships before the period at which the Prorogation usually takes place?
§ EARL GRANVILLE
I cannot at present give a categorical answer to the Questions involved in the noble and learned Lord's (Lord Cairns') speech, but I trust to be able to do so at an early period next week. The noble and learned Lord passed in review the state of business both in this and the other House of Parliament, and I was glad to hear that he deemed the state of business here satisfactory. He put a question with respect to two Government Bills. I have communicated with my noble and learned Friend on the Woolsack, who will lose no time in making inquiry of the persons who were in charge of them in the other House. The noble and learned Lord stated that within his memory, the condition of business in the House of Commons was unprecedented, and gave same details of the number of Bills and other work remaining to be disposed of. The chief point, however, of his remarks was a desire to know when the Ballot Bill was likely to come up to your Lordships; how Her Majesty's Government intended to deal with it; and whether they meant to ask your Lordships to consider it during the course of next month, or to give effect to a suggestion — much pressed upon the Government by several Members in "another place" — namely, to adjourn both Houses for a certain time in order that the consideration of that measure might be resumed. Now, the noble and learned Lord is quite right in remarking that business is not in its usual state in the House of Commons. It is far from my wish to say a word, either in praise or blame of any parties or individuals in that House; but I think your Lordships will admit, as a matter of fact, that the mode of treatment of some of the business which has been before the House of Commons has also been unusual. With regard to the Ballot Bill, there is no doubt that the privilege of debate has been very freely used; while, with regard to the Army Bill, nobody, I think, will deny that the forms of the House 369 were much strained in the way in which it passed through the House of Commons. Nobody cognizant of what has passed can doubt that Amendments to the same effect were proposed one after another; that the same questions were raised over and over again; and that on a great portion of those numerous Amendments the debates on the second reading were begun over again. That has been done to such a degree that Her Majesty's Government, who have been subjected to all sorts of attacks for incapacity and want of knowing how to conduct the business of the House, have thought it necessary to refrain even from defending themselves, lest they should give fresh opportunity of beginning debates upon utterly irrelevant matters. The state of things has been such that two or three months ago the Government declared in the other House that there were two Bills which they thought it their duty to press to a result. Of those, one, the Army Bill, has reached this House; as to the other, the Ballot Bill, it is impossible for me to say definitely when it will come up, for your Lordships are as well acquainted with the circumstances as I am. It is a Bill in which the country takes the greatest possible interest; a Bill which a great majority of the House of Commons approve, as there cannot be the slightest doubt, from their steady, unvarying, and undiminishing majorities; and a Bill of such importance that I think Her Majesty's Government have given a pledge, from which they could not release themselves without the full consent of the House of Commons, to whom the declaration was made. The noble and learned Lord referred to a declaration by the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council (Mr. W. E. Forster) on the subject. I might have stopped him, exactly as he stopped a noble and gallant Lord when referring to a declaration of the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government, which the other side apparently wished to prevent him from quoting.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
All I can say is, I never heard such shouts of "Order!" as proceeded from the front Opposition bench on the occasion. Noble Lords opposite had a perfect right to do so, but it is important that any declaration of a Minister should, in a peculiar case, be 370 commented upon; and I did not, therefore, interrupt the noble and learned Lord. However, passing from that matter, I must say that he showed a little want of that fairness which generally characterizes him, in putting a certain construction on the right hon. Gentleman's words, without the slightest allusion to the explanation which the right hon. Gentleman subsequently gave. The right hon. Gentleman said—The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Greene), however, stated that he found an excuse for not voting for the present clause, in some remarks of mine made on a previous evening; but it is clear that the hon. Gentleman has misunderstood those remarks. He said that he understood I was pushing forward this Bill in defiance of the other branch of the Legislature; and I am surprised that he or any hon. Member should have such a notion. What occurred was this—The right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich (Sir John Pakington) asked what was the use of the Government going on with this Bill, when they could not hope to pass it this Session; and to that my reply was, that we were passing the Bill through the House, because the majority of our constituencies desired it, and therefore we thought that the responsibility of its rejection, if rejected it was to be, should rest with the other House. There was nothing unconstitutional and nothing like defiance in that statement. I then went on to state, what I cannot think the hon. Gentleman (Mr. R. N. Fowler) could have heard—that, judging from their past history, I believed that the House of Lords would, at some sacrifice to their own convenience, spend the time necessary in considering this measure, desired by the majority of the constituencies, and relating to the mode of electing the Members of this House by ballot. How the hon. Gentleman could suppose that in stating my belief that the House of Lords would give time to the consideration of such a measure as this, and in basing that expectation on their past history, I was offering a defiance to the other branch of the Legislature, it puzzles me to imagine."—[3 Hansard, ccviii. 185.]I must say that the noble and learned Lord, in commenting on what he believed to be a declaration of the right hon. Gentleman's, should have made some allusion to this explanation. I cannot conceive that there is any defiance to this House in the words used by the right hon. Gentleman, and I am rather surprised at so much sensitiveness being exhibited, when I recollect that in a recent debate I heard an allusion made to the other House of graver import than, anything the right hon. Gentleman said, when it was said by the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Salisbury), that it was a House which could not pass any measure, except under the influence of the hatred of class against class, and creed 371 against creed—and no explanation has been given in regard to that very serious attack on the other House of Parliament. The noble and learned Lord referred to the question of the adjournment of both Houses until the autumn. What happened was this—The matter was suggested in the other House, but the Government have, as yet, expressed no intention whatever. Being asked by several hon. Members to take that course they answered that was one worthy of consideration; that a desultory conversation like that did not indicate what was the opinion of the House of Commons; and that it would be desirable to obtain the opinion of the House of Lords on the subject. I alluded to the question of adjourning till the autumn or prolonging the Session in a private conversation with the noble and learned Lord, who I am sure will forgive me for referring to it, and who stated that he could not conceive how the consent of either House could be obtained, and I did not understand whether he implied that one course would be more agreeable than another. Now, in the statement he has just made, he rather condemned both the courses which seemed to have found favour with the House of Commons, and intimated that one course would, not be more agreeable to your Lordships than the other; but one thing I understood him, there was no doubt about, and that was, that the proposed adjournment to the autumn was unconstitutional. As to the course which he condemned as unconstitutional, I believe there are precedents for it, and that if the case arose we should be able to show good grounds why it is not unconstitutional. It may be a necessary act to adjourn both Houses, and I cannot see, therefore, why it should be unconstitutional. I am not at this moment prepared to yield that extreme deference to the noble and learned Lord's dicta as to the practice of Parliament which I should have paid a few days ago. Your Lordships will remember that the Duke of Richmond gave Notice last week of a rider to the second reading of the Army Bill, which struck us as of an extraordinary and un-Parliamentary character. I asked the noble Lord the Chairman of Committees what he thought of it? and for the first time in his life he refused to give me an answer on a point of form. I have, therefore, no right to quote him, 372 but I drew my own conclusion as to what his opinion was. We all know now what the universal opinion of that Resolution has been. The noble and learned Lord said last night it was not altogether without precedent; but we can find no precedent whatever, and the noble Viscount (Viscount Eversley), whose long experience of the other House, and attention to the forms of this House, entitle him to so much authority, declared it to be a dangerous precedent, which the House of Commons would never allow. After taking six days to consider it, the noble and learned Lord, who, I am sure, must have been consulted in the first instance, came down and substituted a Resolution which I admit to be perfectly regular in point of form. I am, therefore, disposed to question his assertion upon matters of this kind at this particular moment. As to the invariable practice of not considering Bills of any importance after the 6th or 7th of August, I find that the East India Charter Act and the Bank Charter Act were considered at a later date, and that the Irish Municipal Corporations Act was not passed till September. So that the noble and learned Lord was not justified in making the statement to which I have referred, although strengthening it as he did with the high authority of the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government, for the noble and learned Lord quoted the right hon. Gentleman's remarks as to the exhausted state of the other House, and concluded by appealing to me whether I thought that, in the present state of business, the Ballot Bill could meet a due consideration at the hands of the House of Commons, and, above all, could it be fully considered by your Lordships. But does he mean to say that, whatever good work we have done this year, we are so exhausted as to be unable to consider anything fresh likely to require a few nights' attention? I have always protested, and shall continue to protest, against this House, which very naturally clamours for work at a time when the experience of nearly a hundred years has shown that it is almost impossible to get it, refusing at a fixed season of the year when even they are not nearly so heavily taxed as the Commons, to give its attention to important measures that may be brought before it. I am sure it is un- 373 desirable for this House to hold that language, and I trust your Lordships will not continue to do so. Do your Lordships suppose that the Members of the Government are personally averse from holidays? We were told the other night that the vote of censure on us should be posponed for ten days because noble Lords had made engagements for this week. Now, to tell the honest truth, I would have given the world for the opportunity of making and keeping some of those engagements. There are heads of public Departments who are subject to such a strain of work that I cannot understand how they can bear it; and even though the work is so much lighter here, most of us, after the work and anxiety of last year, would personally be glad of a little holiday, but we think we ought to sacrifice those feelings where the public interest is concerned. I trust that feeling is shared by your Lordships, who have the opportunity of absenting yourselves and returning when you like, and that you will not think it a great hardship to be asked to consider a subject immensely ventilated by the House of Commons for weeks, and to give a few nights' attention to it. I hardly know any case in which your Lordships have given more than three or four or five days to the consideration of important Bills, on the ground that the whole matter has been thoroughly sifted elsewhere, and comes up here chiefly for the purpose of revision, whereas another House has to ascertain facts and make examinations which we have ready to our hands, and, consequently, those Bills reach your Lordships' hands in such a state of completeness as they did not possess before when they were first placed in their crude form before the other House. I assure your Lordships that the Government are desirous in every way of consulting your personal convenience, and where a great public object does not interfere, it is our duty to do so; but I trust you will not think it disrespectful if, when public objects intervene, we urge you to make some sacrifice, in order to settle a subject in which the House of Commons takes the greatest interest, and on which their constituents feel so strongly, that the Conservative Member for Stockport has said it is the one subject which the thousands of workmen, added by noble Lords opposite to his constituency, of 374 every shade of opinion, all desire to see settled.
§ LORD CAIRNS
The noble Earl has, no doubt unintentionally, misrepresented me on some points. As to the Resolution to be proposed on Monday, I am glad that he likes its present form, and I hope we shall have no difficulty in persuading him to accept it; but I must say the noble Earl's remarks on that matter rather appeared like trailing a herring across the scent in order to avoid answering my Question as to the intentions of the Government.
§ LORD CAIRNS
The points in which the noble Earl misrepresented me are these—In the first place, I never stated that it was the invariable practice of your Lordships not to entertain any public measures after a certain time. I simply reasoned from the analogy of the past the difficulties likely to arise out of the present period of the Session. Then, as the noble Earl has been good enough to refer to a private conversation with which he was kind enough to favour me, I may be allowed to state what he has probably forgotten. He said I had probably seen what had passed in "another place," and asked me whether I would prefer the House to continue to sit and discuss the Ballot Bill, or have an autumn Session to consider it in. He added—"I suppose you will tell me you don't like either." I said that was exactly what I felt; and that I should like both plans so little that it was difficult to tell which I should like least. The noble Earl then said it was very desirable to obtain the sense of the House generally. I told him I dared say it was, but I could not see how it was to be arrived at. That was the whole of the conversation. If he supposed I meant to say, or did say, that it was unconstitutional for the Houses of Parliament to adjourn either to a month in autumn or until next February, I can only assure him that I said nothing of the kind. What I did say was unconstitutional was the idea that the Government or the Crown could dictate to either House of Parliament as to the period to which it was to adjourn. I said that that might be a proposal coming from the Government; but with regard to your Lordships, it was for you to say to what 375 period you would adjourn; and I said expressly that if your Lordships were of opinion that you should adjourn until February in next year, there being no Prorogation, I saw nothing whatever to prevent your taking that course. Let me now correct another matter of somewhat greater importance, because it involves a statement made by a Gentleman for whom I have the greatest respect, and of whom I would not say one word in disparagement—I mean the right hon. Gentleman the Vice President of the Council (Mr. W. E. Forster). The noble Earl seemed to think that I had accused the right hon. Gentleman of defying the House of Lords. I said nothing of the kind. I said that he—so far from defying this House—begged and prayed for its assistance. But that was what I objected to—that the Government, in order to keep a pledge made to the other House of Parliament, should insist on passing a Bill and sending it up to the House, in order that the responsibility of rejecting it might rest on us. So far from misrepresenting the right hon. Gentleman, I have here in my hand an explanation much better than that given by the noble Earl, for it was the explanation given by the right hon. Gentleman himself, at the moment when he was challenged on the spot as to his observations. He said, in the first place, that—Hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House feel they are fulfilling the wishes of the country in supporting the Bill, and in doing their utmost to obtain the sense of the House of Commons with respect to it, leaving the responsibility of rejecting it on the other House of Parliament, if they desire to exercise the right to do so.That remark was challenged, and here is Mr. Forster's explanation—He did not say that the Bill would be rejected in 'another place.' He spoke of the responsibility of its rejection, if it were passed by the House of Commons, being thrown on the other House of Parliament.Now that is what I said. The Government take up this position—"We are unable to pass this Bill; let us pass it here, and throw the responsibility of rejecting it on the House of Lords; it will be for them to deliver us from the difficulty in which we find ourselves." And now let me say one word more. The noble Earl has accused me of interrupting a noble and gallant Lord, and calling him to Order on a previous occasion. 376 I beg to say that I did not interrupt him; but the question raised then was different from the one before us now, when a statement is made by the Government calling for an explanation which we have a perfect right to give. On the previous occasion referred to the noble and gallant Lord was reading a speech which had been delivered in the other House for the purpose of adopting it, and enforcing his own speech by arguments founded upon it.