§ Standing Order No. XXXIV. considered (according to Order).
§ LORD HOBHOUSE
, in rising to move—That Standing Order No. XXXIV. be considered in order to its being dispensed with,said, the reason why he asked their Lordships to suspend the Order was that it provided that when a Bill came up from the House of Commons it should be struck off the Minutes if Notice of second reading were not given within 12 days. The object of the Bill which he desired to submit for second reading was to accelerate the enfranchisement of copyholds. The greater part of the Bill consisted of Amendments, suggested by the Copyhold Commissioners, to the 991 present procedure; and it would be for their Lordships to consider whether they would send it to a Select Committee. It was generally admitted that this was a desirable object, although they might differ as to the steps that ought to be taken in order to obtain it. When the Bill came up from the House of Commons he was asked to take charge of it, and, finding that there was a great quantity of detail in it, he was desirous of corresponding with several stewards of manors, who had a good deal to say upon the subject. About a week ago he came down to the House for the purpose of giving Notice of the second reading, and found that the Order which he now asked their Lordships to suspend, and the existence of which he was unaware of, had killed the Bill. He, therefore, asked their Lordships, under these circumstances, to enable him to give Notice of the second reading by suspending the Order in question. If their Lordships suspended the Order he proposed to notify the second reading for the earliest possible day after Whitsuntide; but, should it not be suspended, the Bill would have to take the more circuitous and troublesome course of being introduced again. He understood that the noble Duke the Chairman of Committees (the Duke of Buckingham) had stated that there was a precedent for remedying an oversight such as that which had occurred in the case of this Bill.
§ Moved, "That the said Order be dispensed with in respect of the said Bill."—(The Lord Hobhouse.)
§ EARL BEAUCHAMP
said, he desired to point out that the Standing Order provided that a Bill which remained on the Table of the House without Notice of second reading being given within the time stated should not be proceeded with in the same Session. The object of the Order was to prevent a surprise being sprung upon the House; and, considering the importance of this Bill, and the uncertainty as to whether it would be brought on or not, he called the attention of the officers of the House a few days ago to the fact that Notice of second reading had not been given within the required time. The noble and learned Lord (Lord Hobhouse), he submitted, had taken a very inconvenient course. The Motion should have been made by a responsible Minister of the Crown, 992 and not by a private Member, and full Notice of at least a week ought to have been given of it.
THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR INDIA (The Earl of KIMBERLEY)
said, he hoped that their Lordships would take into consideration the fact that the noble and learned Lord (Lord Hobhouse) was not aware of the existence of the Standing Order, and that they would allow the Bill to proceed.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
said, that a few days ago he was not able to induce the House to suspend a Standing Order to provide work for 7,000 people; and yet they were now asked to suspend a Standing Order to provide work for a single Peer. He did not say that the Standing Order should not be suspended; what he said was that if it were to be suspended some reason should be given for doing so, and the noble and learned Lord (Lord Hobhouse) had not given a sufficient reason for suspending it. He (the Marquess of Salisbury) should like to hear better reasons for this proposal than that the noble Lord did not know the Standing Order. He did not express an opinion on the Bill beyond saying that it was a very complicated measure. It had passed the House of Commons through the pertinacity of particular Members, and as it affected great interests it could hardly be adopted by their Lordships without being thoroughly inquired into by a competent Committee and to hear evidence. They were now on the eve of the Whitsuntide Holidays, the Bill could not be read until about the end of June, and even supposing that everything went on normally, and that the Session lived the length of life of other Sessions, he did not think there was much chance for the Bill. But this Session was not in good condition, and there were signs of an attack of illness, which might or might not prove fatal, so that he did not see what advantage might or might not be got by suspending the Standing Order and reading the Bill a second time. He was afraid that this was only another instance of the strange desire to read Bills a second time and then drop them. He wanted the Bill thoroughly inquired into by a Select Committee, and if the Committee could devise a mode of reducing these heterogeneous tenures into a more simple system he should be very glad. He could not say that any cause had been given for suspending the 993 Standing Order, and he should vote against it.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR (Lord HERSCHELL)
said, he thought the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Salisbury) was proposing that the House should mete out a very hard measure to the noble Lord in charge of the Bill (Lord Hobhouse), and to the great number of persons who were interested in the question. The Bill had been fully discussed in that House, and had passed through the House of Commons with great care, and been dealt with by a Select Committee. The subject was one in which a large number of persons were deeply interested; and if the noble Marquess inquired into the state of opinion in Lancashire, he would find that the Bill excited the greatest interest there. Would anyone suffer from this Bill being allowed to proceed? It would have a most unfortunate appearance if the noble Marquess prevented the suspension of the Standing Order when the noble and learned Lord (Lord Hobhouse), a Member of the minority of that House, had explained the reason why this unfortunate mistake had occurred. The other day the noble Marquess was for suspending a Standing Order to get a Private Bill passed, and he was opposed to doing so now on a question which was of great importance to a numerous class. There was a precedent for what their Lordships were asked to do. On a former occasion, when a Bill was in a similar position, a noble Earl (the Earl of Carnarvon) took the matter up, and the Motion to suspend the Standing Order was agreed to. Both the noble Earl (Earl Beauchamp) and the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Salisbury) were opposed to the Bill, and had voted against a similar measure.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I did not vote against the principle of the Bill, but I voted against it only on account of the time. I never expressed any opinion with regard to the Bill.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
said, he could not know that the noble Marquess only voted against the Bill on account of time if he never opened his lips.
THE DUKE OF RICHMOND AND GORDON
said, he would remind the noble and learned Lord that the last occasion that Bill was before the House, and to which he had referred, was 13 years ago. He must enter his protest against the assertion of the noble and learned Lord that it was because the Motion for the suspension of the Standing Order was moved from the Ministerial side of the House it was opposed on that side.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
said, he never intended to make such an assertion. What he meant was that it would appear that an indulgence which had been accorded to a noble Lord on the Opposition side would not be allowed to a noble Lord on the Ministerial side.
THE DUKE OF RICHMOND AND GORDON
said, of course he accepted the disclaimer; but if the noble and learned Lord wished to make a precedent out of what had been done, he might remind him what had occurred, not 13 years ago, but only three or four days ago. A Motion was made to suspend the Standing Orders by the noble Earl (Earl Cadogan), and it was supported by the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Salisbury), but was refused. Therefore, the noble and learned Lord was not justified in his statement.
§ On Question? Their Lordships divided:—Contents 39; Not-Contents 63: Majority 24.
§ Resolved in the negative.