HL Deb 13 March 1873 vol 214 cc1868-70

My Lords, before we proceed to the Orders of the Day, I think it right to state to your Lordships that Her Majesty's Government, in consequence of the vote of the House of Commons yesterday morning, felt it their duty respectfully to tender their resignations to Her Majesty. These resignations Her Majesty has been graciously pleased to accept. Under these circumstances, I only follow the usual course when I propose to your Lordships to adjourn for a few days. I therefore propose that the House on its rising do adjourn till Monday.


My Lords, I venture to remind your Lordships that there is a precedent for going on in the midst of a Ministerial crisis with the Deceased Wife's Sister Bill—for it so happens that this Bill always does turn up on these occasions—which stands for second reading tonight. In the year 1851, when the Government of Lord Russell resigned—resigned for a few days and then took office again—Lord St. Germans, who then had charge of the Bill, appealed to the House as to whether, the measure being one of merely social interest and not connected with party politics, the House might not proceed with it oven after the announcement of the resignation of Ministers; and the House—I think very wisely—resolved that there was no connection between the two events, and went on with the Deceased Wife's Sister Bill. I trust your Lordships will on this occasion follow that precedent.


As your Lordships are aware, I am strongly in favour of the Bill referred to by the noble Marquess, and therefore I do not object to the House discussing it, and I by no means wish to stand in the way. The question of going on with it is entirely one for your Lordships, but I must say that it does not appear to me to stand exactly on all-fours with the precedent raised in 1851. If, however, your Lordships think that was a precedent, you may think it well to proceed; but the course I have proposed is the usual one, because, as a rule, it is not convenient to proceed with legislation when there is no Executive Government.


My Lords, I think there would be no precedent violated by our proceeding to discuss the Bill, which is entirely apart from party politics; and I believe it would be convenient to do so, as a great many Peers on both sides have come from the country to take part in the debate.


I quite concur with the noble Earl—it is not a question that need be at all interfered with by the resignation of Ministers. I believe it would be for the convenience of your Lordships generally that the Order of the Day in respect of this Bill should be proceeded with.


I am quite in the hands of your Lordships; but if I am to go on with the Bill I should like to have the sanction of the noble Duke opposite, the Leader of the Opposition, or perhaps I should now say of the Government, in this House.


I assure the noble Lord that I have heard very little of what he has just said, but I did catch his last remark, and I beg to say we do not acknowledge anything of the kind on this side of the House. As to the question of proceeding with an Order of the Day after the announcement made by the Government, if there were no precedent for it I should have thought it unwise, but as there is a precedent for it I shall offer no objection.


My Lords, I think there can be no doubt of the feeling of the House, and certainly I have no objection whatever to the House proceeding to the second reading of the Bill.