§ MR. T. DUNCOMBE
Will the Chancellor of the Exchequer allow me to ask a question on a subject of great interest,— namely, when he will be likely to make his financial statement to the House, and whether he can name a day for so doing?
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
I am very much obliged to the hon. Gentleman for giving me the opportunity of referring to this subject, since it is one in which the public convenience is very much involved, and my answer to which will depend upon what I may term the forbearance and self-denial of hon. Members, rather than upon the will of the Government. It is the salutary, judicious, and almost invariable rule of the House not to enter upon questions of Ways and Means until the House has passed its judgment upon those items of the expenditure of the year which are at once the greatest and most variable—namely, the Naval and Military Estimates; and my answer to the first question is that it is my intention to submit the financial statement to the House as soon as the Naval and Military Estimates have passed through Committee. If the hon. Member asks when that will be, I must reply by asking another question—how much time will be taken up by those hon. Members who have Motions of their own before going into Committee of Supply. The time might be readily calculated if it depended solely upon the statements made in bringing forward the Naval and Military Estimates, but that calculation might be fatally disturbed if upon successive evenings discussions should be interposed which occupy the greater part of the night. Without in the least wishing to interfere with the discretion of hon. Gentlemen, I must be allowed to point out that the period of the year is now very late, and that very great anxiety is felt by those engaged in the commerce of the country to know what arrangements may be proposed by the Government and adopted by the House with respect to the duty of providing means for meeting the demands of the year. Upon the other hand, I may remind hon. Members that upon the Miscellaneous Estimates, which must occupy many nights of the time of the House after the financial statement is made, there will be many opportunities of bringing forward any questions which they may have to urge as an Amendment to 867 the Speaker leaving the chair. I am quite sure it will be for the convenience of the House if hon. Members will waive, so far as they can, those questions until the Military and Naval Estimates have been voted in Committee of Supply, so that the financial statement may he submitted to the House. I can only say the financial statement will be submitted immediately after these Estimates have been agreed to.