§ Order of the Day for the Third Reading read.
THE EARL OF DALHOUSIE
I have, on behalf of the Government, to state that I do not propose to ask your Lordships to read this Bill the third time. Having regard to the statement with reference to Public Business which the Prime Minister is to make in the other House, it is obvious that this Bill cannot be passed into law this Session; and, therefore, the Government think that it would be more respectful to your Lordships not to put the House to the trouble of proceeding with it further.
§ Moved, "That the said Order be discharged."—(The Earl of Dalhousie.)
§ THE EARL OF MINTO
said, he had heard the announcement of the noble Earl with some concern, and he might also say with some surprise. He did not see why the result of the Division on the Representation of the People Bill should have the effect of excluding the consideration of such a simple measure as this was, one so unlikely to give rise to any difficulty in passing it. He greatly regretted that it should be given up so lightly, because it would be thought in Scotland that some Members of the Government were not over-zealous in pressing it through Parliament. If there were only this particular Bill to be abandoned, there would be nothing to be said in favour of that course being taken; but, looking at what had occurred, he was afraid that the course taken by the Government in the matter savoured somewhat of temper.
THE DUKE OF RICHMOND AND GORDON
I wish to ask the noble Earl opposite (Earl Granville) whether there is anything in the state of Public Business in the other House which necessitates the course that he now asks us to adopt, because, not more than a very days ago, it was understood that this measure was to be proceeded with? Has anything peculiar happened with regard to Public Business in the other House since then, which requires a different course of proceeding to be followed from that which we understood the other night was to be pursued? Possibly the noble Earl opposite may inform us as to that.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
My Lords, I do not know that anything of a peculiar character has happened this evening in the other House; but something has happened—if I may repeat the expression of the noble Duke—of a "peculiar" character in this House. Her Majesty's Government have very carefully considered their intentions in the matter; and Mr. Gladstone, in consequence of a Question from the Leader of the Opposition in the other House, as to the views of the Government with regard to the progress of Public Business, and the Bibs to be proceeded with, proposed to make a statement on this occasion; and the statement which he has made is, that Her Majesty's Government, after reviewing the circumstances which have occurred, have made up their minds to abandon this particular Bill—in favour of which I quite agree with the noble Earl (the Earl of Minto) that there is much to be said. I also agree with him that if this was the only Bill affected, such a course could not be defended; but they intend to abandon all the Government Bills of any importance, or such as would be likely to be contested, reserving, however, to themselves the right of going forward with Bills which have passed through a Grand Committee of the other House. At least nine measures, all of which they desire to pass, and some of which are of great importance, they do not mean to press, their object being to arrive at the stage of Prorogation as early as possible. With regard to the Question of the noble Duke opposite (the Duke of Richmond and Gordon), the object they have in view is that Parliament may be summoned in the Autumn to consider the 652 very important Bill which was rejected in this House the other night.
§ THE EARL OF REDESDALE (CHAIRMAN of COMMITTEES)
said, he hoped that, when Parliament re-assembled in the Autumn, after the Prorogation, if such was to be the case, Her Majesty's Government would then be prepared to propose a Bill for the Redistribution of Seats, as well as for extending the franchise.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Order discharged accordingly.
§ Moved, "That the Bill (by leave of the House) be withdrawn."—(The Earl of Dalhousie.)
THE EARL OF ROSEBERY
I should like to ask one question. At the Autumn Session will the Government be prepared to re-introduce this Scotch measure into Parliament, or not?
THE MARQUESS OF LOTHIAN
said, he protested against the withdrawal of that Bill at that stage. It might have been read a third time and passed, and sent down to the Commons, in order to show the people of Scotland that it was not owing to any action of the House of Lords respecting it that necessitated its withdrawal. He wished that the public should understand that, if a measure was withdrawn which the whole people of Scotland were anxious to sea passed this Session, it was not owing to any action of the Conservative Party. They had no idea whatever the other night that if the Representation of the People Bill were not allowed to proceed, the other measures of public interest would be abandoned, and that, in particular, this Bill, affecting Scotland, would be withdrawn. He knew that the people of Scotland would not approve of such a course of proceeding.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
I have to point out to the noble Marquess that this is not a matter in which disappointment is caused to Scotland alone. Certain measures connected with England and Ireland have also to be abandoned; and their abandonment, I have no doubt, will produce considerable disappointment.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
What appears to be the object of the 653 noble Earl opposite (Earl Granville) in the measure which he proposes to take is this. He wishes, if possible, to make his own vexation at what has taken place shared in by other people who have no interest in it, but who have an interest in the unfortunate "innocents" whom he announces it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government to massacre. It seems to me his mode of expressing his wrath seems to be something like that of the mediæval Popes who, when they could not get the thing they liked out of the King, interdicted all the religious services of the inhabitants of his Kingdom, thereby hoping to communicate their own feelings of disappointment to as large a circle as possible.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Bill (by leave of the House) withdrawn accordingly.