§ THE CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES (The Duke of BUCKINGHAM and CHANDOS)
, in rising to move that that "Bill be not further inserted in the list of Bills in progress," said, that he made the Motion, not with any desire to oppose the Bill, or to deprive the noble Lord who introduced it (Lord Denman) of any legitimate opportunity of bringing the question forward, but solely with the view of preserving the regularity of proceedings in their Lordships' House. Formerly, a Bill could be entered in the Minutes as rejected; but for the last half century the practice had prevailed of moving that a measure be postponed for three, or six months. That was considered a more courteous way of dismissing a Bill from consideration than a direct Motion for its rejection. It was, in fact, laid down by the authorities that this postponement of a measure was equivalent to its rejection, and hitherto such postponement had invariably been viewed as the dismissal of the measure from further consideration for the Session. Now, the Women's Suffrage Bill was rejected in the early part of the Session in the usual way — namely, by a Motion postponing it for six months. That period of time having elapsed, and the Session not having ended, the Bill was again put down for second reading; but their Lordships, having regard to the circumstances of the ease, determined that the Question should not be put. If Bills which had been rejected by Motions of postponement were to be resuscitated, as that Bill had been, in the same Session of Parliament, it would be necessary to consider whether the practice of the House ought not to be changed. But as the practice that a postponement for three or six months was equivalent to the rejection of a measure had been universally recognized up to the present, it would, he thought, be well to adhere to the practice as it existed now. The special difficulty in connection with the Bill before their Lordships would be got rid of by the Resolution which he had 1636 placed on the Paper, and which he now begged to move.
§ Moved, "That the Bill be not further inserted in the list of Bills in progress printed with the Minutes of this House." —(The Duke of Buckingham and Chandos.)
said, he must be allowed to express his regret that the Bill could not be favourably entertained. There had been no real objection offered to the principle of the Bill when he introduced it, and there was no valid reason for not proceeding with it. The Prime Minister simply asked their Lordships to postpone it entirely out of deference to the other House, which had a Women's Suffrage Bill before it. He considered that the municipal franchise having been given to women in Ireland, it followed that the Parliamentary franchise ought to be given to women possessing the necessary legal qualifications. He was an old man, and was more indebted than most people to sensible women, and he should like to know that after his death his widow would have a vote. He hoped he would be allowed to put the Bill down for a second reading to-morrow.
THE LORD CHANCELLOR (Lord HALSBURT)
said, he did not think that the Bill was likely to engage much of their attention during the remainder of the Session; but the question of precedent in connection with procedure in such cases might be important hero-after. He could not help thinking that the noble Lord (Lord Denman) had successfully disposed of his own argument. He said that it was a lunar month, and that the month brought the date on a Sunday. If that were so, the Bill was postponed to a period when the House was not sitting, and it fell under the recognized practice when the Session had expired. He believed that the calendar month was the proper construction of the month in that House; but if it was a lunar month, the noble Lord did not on the proper day move the Bill when it came on, therefore it was a lapsed Order, and the Bill, according to Parliamentary practice, ought not to be proceeded with. If, under such circumstances, the Bill was to be revived, it must be done by a Motion made in the House, and could not be done by a noble Lord going to the Clerk at the Table and making a private communi- 1637 cation. He thought that if their Lordships assented to the noble Lord's proposal they would establish a precedent of the greatest possible inconvenience. If Bills disposed of as this had been disposed of were to be revived, and the understanding which now existed was departed from, it would be necessary to move the rejection of Bills, and this would be obviously inconvenient. The old form of moving the rejection of a Bill, of course, killed it for ever; but he rather thought the more courteous form of postponement for six months was adopted on the understanding that the Bill should not be brought forward again in the same Session. As to the Motion of the noble Duke the Chairman of Committees, he was not sure that that was strictly in order; but he hoped their Lordships would not be troubled again by questions of this kind.
§ Motionagreed to.