§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Mr. JACKSON) (Leeds, N.)
said, it might be for the convenience of the House, if he stated that at the next Sitting it would be proposed to take the Colonial Vote as the first Order.
§ THE LORD MAYOR OF DUBLIN (Mr. SEXTON) (Belfast, W.)
asked was it intended to proceed with the Bann Drainage Bill?
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR) (Manchester, E.)
said, it was his intention if there was no general wish to the contrary.
§ MR. SEXTON
said, then he gave Notice that upon the Order for further proceeding with the Bill, he would move, that inasmuch as the second reading had been taken without opportunity being given to any Irish Member to address the House thereon, the House declined to proceed further with the Bill.
§ MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)
asked the right hon. Gentleman when he proposed to proceed with the Barrow Drainage Bill, and would he put it down for a convenient time, that he (Mr. Conybeare) might have an opportunity of continuing and concluding his speech, which was directed against the principle of that group of Drainage Bills, without fear of interruption by the application of the closure—which he had no hesitation in saying was, under the circumstances, simply a public scandal? [Cries of "Order!"]
§ MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! The remark the hon. Member has just now made must be withdrawn. ["Oh, oh!"]
§ After a pause,
§ MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! I have asked the hon. Member to withdraw that expression; does he do so?
§ MR. BRUNNER (Cheshire, Northwich)
May I be allowed, Mr. Speaker, to say that I understood the hon. Member did withdraw the expression?
§ Several other Members rose, including Dr. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid).
§ MR. SPEAKER
I hope the hon. Member for Mid Cork will observe common courtesy. It is quite sufficient if the hon. Member for Camborne says he did withdraw. I did not so understand him; but I accept his word most unreservedly.
§ MR. MUNDELLA (Sheffield, Brightside)
asked the Secretary to the Treasury, what Business would follow the Colonial Vote on the morrow?
§ MR. CONYBEARE
asked the Chief Secretary for Ireland, to have the courtesy to reply to his question in reference to the Drainage Bill?
§ MR. CONYBEARE
asked the right hon. Gentleman for an assurance that there should be some discussion without fear of the closure being applied, as it had been that night by instructions conveyed from the right hon. Gentleman to one of his followers?
§ MR. MUNDELLA
said, he simply rose to appeal to the right hon. Gentleman with respect to these Bills, to give opportunity for discussion. He had been informed that as regards the first Bill, at least a dozen Irish Members desired to address the House. If the Bill was taken only a few minutes before 12, it was impossible there could be a discussion.
§ MR. MACARTNEY (Antrim, S.)
said, that after the remark of the hon. Member for Camborne, he hoped he might be allowed to say that he moved the closure without any instigation or in- 1901 struction from the Government. He also desired to say that he was the only Member of the House representing a constituency that would be affected by the Bann Drainage Bill, and his constituents were extremely desirous that the Bill should be proceeded with with the least possible delay. If he had any idea that any hon. Member representing a constituency interested, or who was entitled to speak on the subject, desired to discuss the Bill, he certainly would have hesitated to take the course he did take. He was actuated by the desire to do justice to his constituents and those who had suffered from floods in the district.
§ Mr. A. J. BALFOUR
said, as he had also been attacked, perhaps he might be allowed to say a few words. He did not wish, in any way, to add heat to the discussion, and regretted that any should have been introduced. He was not aware that he had dropped a single word to give any hon. Member the idea that he desired to close the debate. He never suggested the closure, as his hon. Friend (Mr. Macartney) had said; but he might say that he had more than once appealed to hon. Members from Ireland, and explained to them that he was extremely desirous of passing those Bills, and he had received what he thought was authentic information from Gentlemen sitting in that quarter of the House, that they also were anxious that the Bills should pass; while receiving this intimation, he was also obliged to say that the present state of Business prevented a very long time being given to the discussion. At this period of the session delay would be fatal, and his proposal was to refer the Bills to a hybrid Committee, and, after they had been threshed out by that Committee, then hon. Gentlemen would have the opportunity of discussing the Bills in, possibly, an amended form, and of rejecting them if they thought fit. He thought, and he still believed, that he would be carrying out the wishes of hon. Members by proposing that course. It was impossible to put aside great measures of Imperial interest to discuss measures of this kind; but if hon. Members would agree to his suggestion, it was possible that these Bills, which they acknowledged would be for the benefit of Ireland, would be passed in the resent Session.
§ MR. FLYNN (Cork, N.)
, in answer to what had been said—that a large number of Irish Members were anxious to see the Bill carried through—said, there were many questions in relation to the Bann, the Barrow, and the Shannon, that Members desired to raise, but not to discuss at unreasonable length. The opportunity for that had been refused, and it was most unreasonable to closure the second reading debate, before any Irish Member had had the opportunity of expressing his view.
§ MR. HUNTER (Aberdeen, N.)
protested against the doctrine laid down by the hon. Member for South Antrim (Mr. Macartney), that he was most interested in the Bill as representing a constituency that would receive the money. That hon. Member claimed to have the greatest interest; but he Mr. Hunter) represented one of the constituencies that would be called upon to pay the money, and he claimed, on the part of Scotch Members as well as English Members, the right to discuss the question. He could not imagine a worse use of public money than that attempt to bribe the Irish people.
§ MR. SEXTON
said, he could assure the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. A. J. Balfour) that he was under a complete illusion as to the views of Irish Members. There was not an Irish Member who did not feel the strongest resentment at the extraordinary and unprecedented course that had been taken that night. It was a most unpromising course in the interest of the Bill. He should persevere in opposition to the Bill, unless the Irish Members were placed in an equally good position for discussing the Bill as they should have had on the second reading.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, by the indulgence of the House, he might be allowed to say that he had neither the wish or the desire to prevent discussion, and Members were not deprived of that opportunity. He could not prevent discussion; he should only regret it, if it made passing the Bill impossible.
§ MR. ILLINGWORTH (Bradford, W.)
said, English Members had equal reason to complain of the Bill being forced through a second reading. He was glad to have the assurance that the right hon. Gentleman had no share in bringing the debate to a premature close. It was impossible that the Government 1903 could have ascertained the general feeling in regard to the policy of these measures. The arguments the Chancellor of the Exchequer used on a former occasion against the expediency of committing the British taxpayer to this outlay in Ireland were still in force. The policy was dangerous and mischievous, and it was impossible that any such measure could go through without at least taxpayers having time to urge their grave objections.
§ MR. BIGGAR (Cavan, W.)
expressed his personal opinion that, had the management of the Bills been conducted in a different manner, there would have 1904 been reasonable prospect of their passing. But the course taken had spoiled that chance. If the Government had not instigated the Motion of the hon. Member for South Antrim, they had played into his hands, and they had voted in favour of the closure. Probably the wiser course now would be to withdraw the Bills; for he was satisfied that, though the bribe was a large one, there was no chance of the Bills passing that Session.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ House adjourned at five minutes before Two o'clock.