HL Deb 13 May 1886 vol 305 cc877-9

said, he did not see in his place the right rev. Prelate (the Bishop of Durham) who had charge of the Durham Sunday Closing Bill; but he would venture to urge whether, in putting down for to-day the Committee on a Bill the second reading of which was taken on Tuesday last, the right rev. Prelate had not gone beyond the Order of the House? The proposal to take the Committee stage that day hardly gave sufficient time to their Lordships to put down Amendments, or to consult with those persons in the country who might be interested in the measure and ought to have time to make suggestions as to modifications, and who must have been surprised at their Lordships' decision on Tuesday. He would suggest that if the Committee stage on the Bill were put down for that day week, it would be more in accordance with the ordinary practice. There was another Bill to which he wished to refer, and that was the Crofters Bill, which was put down for second reading on Monday. That Bill was one containing principles of a somewhat novel character, full of detail and of unusual complication. He did not wish to express any opinion either hostile or in favour of the Bill; but he thought it was rather making an undue demand on the rapidity with which their Lordships could proceed with the Bill, and make themselves acquainted with, its provisions, to ask them to read it a second time on Monday. He did not see the Secretary for Scotland in his place, but he should suggest that the time for the consideration of the measure should be extended from Monday to Monday week. He was sure that this arrangement would be much more satisfactory to the people of Scotland. He had not taken upon himself to make these few observations without communicating with some of those Peers who understood the subject.


said, be heartily agreed with what had fallen from the noble Marquess with respect to the Crofters Bill, which was a measure new in principle and details. He hoped the noble Earl the Secretary for Scotland (the Earl of Dalhousie) would agree to defer the second reading of the Crofters Bill till Monday week. With respect to the Durham Sunday Closing Bill, he hoped the right rev. Prelate would defer to the wish of the noble Marquess. If the Bill came on that evening no opportunity would have been given for putting Amendments on the Paper; and he hoped that two Amendments would be put down, one exempting the City of Durham, and the other limiting the time. He would ask their Lordships to reject the Bill on the third reading. Another reason why the Bill should be postponed was that the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack implied that a great number of the signatures to the Petition, containing 60,000 of the inhabitants of the county of Durham, which was presented by his noble and learned Friend (Lord Bramwell), were not really valid; that it was a bogus Petition, or contained sham signatures. He himself had been informed that the Petitions in favour of the measure had been largely signed by school children. That was an important matter, and he thought that the signatures to that and to the other Petitions ought to be inquired into by the Examiners of the House before the Bill was proceeded with.


said, he could have no possible objection to the Petitions being examined into. The noble Earl who had just spoken had misunderstood him if he thought that he had asserted that the Petition presented by the noble and learned Lord (Lord Bramwell) who moved the rejection of the Bill was a bogus Petition. All he said was that he never attached great weight to Petitions signed by individuals, whether on the one side or the other.


said, that he had consulted the Clerk of the House before fixing the day, and had no desire to proceed with undue haste. He was quite willing to postpone the Committee stage of his Bill to a future day if there were a feeling in that direction, though he could not at that moment name the day.


asked the Lord Chancellor whether there was any objection to the Petitions he had alluded to being examined into by the officers of the House?


said, he was afraid he was as yet hardly in a position to say what was the usual practice of the House in such cases.


said, he thought the noble Earl ought to give Notice of his intention to move that the Petitions be examined into.


said, he would do so, and gave Notice that he would to-morrow move that the Petitions in reference to the Durham Sunday Closing Bill should be referred to the officers of the House for examination into the signatures.


said, that he would put down the second reading of the Crofters Bill for Thursday next, subject to alterations.


, in assenting, said, that he was anxious the second reading should be taken when the Scottish Peers were in their places.