§ Order for Second Reading road.
THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
, in moving the second reading of this Bill, said, he would take that opportunity of stating the course which he should 1445 propose to pursue in reference to the observations made on the other side of the House on the subject of the liability of contractors under this Bill. Individually, he entertained no doubt as to the rectitude of the decision arrived at by the Committee of last Session, and he should be very sorry, if the matter rested merely on his own judgment, to take any step which could be construed in any way as throwing a doubt upon that decision. Nevertheless he could not shut his eyes to the fact that some gentlemen of great weight and authority thought that the law on the question was open to great doubts. He therefore thought it desirable that some course should be taken to clear away those doubts by legislation or otherwise. He was unwilling to press the House to a decision upon the question of the liability of those contractors to incur penalties for sitting in that House. He fully admitted the force of the arguments of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley), although he did not think that they fell within the meaning of the Act relating to Government contractors. The course, then, which he proposed to take was, to introduce in Committee upon the Bill an indemnity clause for the subscribers to the existing loan—a clause simply declaring that subscribers to the loan should not be liable to any penalties under the Contractors Act. Such a clause would, of course, have the effect of exonerating all those subscribers, and, at the same time, it could not be held to throw any reasonable doubt upon the decision of the Committee. It could not, therefore, reopen the question. If the House should agree to the suggestion, he would undertake to introduce a clause to the effect he had described.
§ Bill read 2°.
§ The House adjourned at Two o'clock.