§ LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL
I wish to ask the Prime Minister a Question, of which I have given him private Notice, Whether it is the intention of the Government to proceed with the Resolutions relating to the alteration of 6 the Rules of the House, of which the Prime Minister gave Notice this morning, on the conduct of debate, without first proposing that the Orders of the Day be postponed in order to bring on such Resolutions; whether such a Motion is not absolutely necessary in view of the recent precedents, notably those of July 27, 1877; January 24, 1878; and February 17, 1879, when the course indicated above was followed; and, whether, if such a Motion for the postponement of the Orders of the Day be made, it is not necessary to rescind the Resolution arrived at by the House on the 26th of January last, giving the Protection of Person and Property (Ireland) Bill and the Arms Bill precedence over all Orders of the Day and Notices of Motion until the House shall otherwise order?
Let me, in the first instance, dispose of the first branch of the Question, which is a matter I can answer distinctly from the terms of the Resolution recently arrived at. The Re-solution which we arrived at last week was not an absolute Resolution that on all occasions and without Notice the stages of certain Bills should take precedence of the Orders of the Day and Notices of Motion, but that it should be so unless the House should otherwise order. There is, therefore, a distinct reference to a case of this kind; but the main part of the Question is whether, in conformity with the precedents, it is my intention to move the postponement of the Orders in order to bring on the Motion at the commencement of Public Business to-morrow, of which I gave Notice to-day? I have no intention of making any such Motion for the postponement of the Orders. This is a question of procedure, in which my opinion, or the opinion of my Colleagues, is not of any weight compared with that of the authorities of the House. The question of procedure is referred to them, and it is our duty to defer to them. I am advised by those who are competent to inform me—and I remain of the opinion I was when I gave the Notice, as I believed, on high authority—that there is no necessity for moving to postpone the Orders of the Day, and that the proper place for this Motion is at the commencement of the Public Business.
§ LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL
I desire to ask you, Mr. Speaker, for the information of the House, Whether the 7 intention of the Government to proceed in the manner indicated by the Prime Minister with their Resolution is in accordance with the Rules and practice of the House; or whether it is not in direct contradiction to the course which was taken by the right hon. Baronet the Member for North Devon (Sir Stafford Northcote), when he introduced new Rules for the conduct of the debates of the House, and when he on three separate occasions in similar circumstances made a Motion for postponing the Orders of the Day?
§ MR. SPEAKER
In the cases cited by the noble Lord, it is true the Orders of the Day were postponed; but if the noble Lord will refer to what was done in 1877, he will find that on that occasion several Resolutions relating to the Business of the House were brought forward by the Chancellor of the Exchequer at half-past 4 o'clock, in pursuance of Notice, in the ordinary way. If the right hon. Baronet the Member for North Devon thought proper to postpone the Orders of the Day he was at liberty to do so. He was not obliged to proceed with the Resolutions in the manner now proposed to be taken unless he thought proper. When Motions are brought forward by Ministers of the Crown relating to the Business of the House it has been the constant and uniform practice, so far as my experience goes, with the exception of the cases cited by the noble Lord, to bring forward such Resolutions before the Orders of the Day and the Notices of Motion set down for that day.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
I desire, Sir, to offer a word of personal explanation, with no desire to challenge the decision you have given. But I wish to say that on the occasions referred to I did not take the course of moving that the Orders of the Day be postponed upon my own wish or Motion —far from it—but on being informed that that was the course I was bound to take.