§ Order for Committee read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—(Mr. Jackson.)
§ (7.10.) MR. CUNNINGHAME GRAHAM (Lanark, N.W.)
I wish to say a few words on the Motion for the Adjournment of the House. The greatest difficulty with regard to this question is to entertain anything like a sense of humour in relation to it, because, after a five years' struggle to deal with it, and at the end of a long Session, during which the House has sat for seven months, it would be in the highest degree ridiculous to regard it as a subject for humour. Although I have some sense of humour, I shall not endeavour to tax it now—
§ MR. JACKSON
I rise to order. If the House will allow me, I will withdraw my Motion for Adjournment.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
The right hon. Gentleman having moved the Adjournment of the House is desirous of withdrawing the Motion in order that this matter may be discussed.
§ MR. E. ROBERTSON (Dundee)
I object to the Motion being withdrawn. I have not objected to the last three private Members' Bills being taken, because all three of them were unopposed; but now we have got to a highly contentious Bill. I do not know whether the Chancellor of the Exchequer has read this Bill, but it bristles with disputed points; and if the consideration of that measure is to be entered into now, I do not know how much longer we may be detained in discussing it. I am extremely sorry to oppose the measure, but I would remind the House that there were a number of gentlemen kept here until very untimely hours this morning for the purpose of either supporting or opposing this Bill. We have now arrived at the close of the day, which was especially given to the transaction of the Government Business. None of us knew that Private Business was to be 1106 taken to-day at all, and some hon. Members have paired for to-day, not knowing that this Bill was to come on at all. For the right hon. Gentleman to introduce this highly-contentious Bill as a reason for not moving the adjournment of the House seems to me to be a very inconvenient course. I hope the Secretary to the Treasury will stand by the Motion he has made, and so far as I am personally concerned I shall do all I can to prevent the Motion being withdrawn. We have been doing all we could to afford facilities for the Government in getting through the measures that they have placed upon the Paper, and both last night and to-day I have used every effort in my power to induce hon. Members not to divide or even to speak, so that the Government Business might be transacted. Now, I think it is a most ungrateful return for the loyal assistance we have given to the Government that they at this stage of the Session, after having forced us to sit till after 4 o'clock this morning and after sitting all through to-day, should now, at the fag end of the business, call upon us to deal with this most contentious Bill. I say that that is about as tyrannical a course as the Government could possibly pursue. I have no objection whatever to the Motion being withdrawn; but if it is intended to be withdrawn merely for the sake of facilitating this Bill, I repeat that it is most unfair on the part of the Government.
§ (7.18.) THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. GOSCHEN,) St. George's, Hanover Square
I must remind the hon. Member that I reserved the right of private Members to bring forward their Bills, and I especially said that this was a Bill as to which some anxiety was felt on the part of the majority of Members in this House. The House will remember that although this is not our Bill, it is one in which the greatest interest is taken on both sides of the House. The hon. Member says it is a very contentious Bill. My own impression is that there are not ten persons in the House who are opposed to it, and that the number of its opponents is only two. It is a very small matter to withdraw the Motion for Adjournment in favour of the wish of the immense majority of Members, and on a question of great social interest. I appeal to the hon. Member to say whether he does not think he has 1107 sufficiently discharged his conscience in the protest he has made; but if he is inclined to persevere in the attitude he has taken, a Division on the Motion to adjourn would probably test the feeling of the House in reference to the Bill.
§ (7.22.) SIR H. DAVEY (Stockton)
I am somewhat surprised at the opposition offered to the consideration of this Bill in Committee, after the general acceptance it has met with in the House. I have been spoken to on the subject by many hon. Members from all quarters of the House, and I have found that there are only two hon. Members, namely, the Members for Dundee and Aberdeen, who are opposed to the Bill. There may be others, but if so I do not know who they are. I say, therefore, that this being a Bill which is accepted by the majority of Members in every quarter of the House, I must raise my voice in support of the request that we should not be put to the trouble of dividing on the Motion for Adjournment, but should allow that Motion to be withdrawn, and the Bill to be proceeded with. I may add that this Bill has been before the House for several weeks. Since it passed the Second Reading not a single Amendment has been put upon the Paper in opposition to it. I repeat, that from the communication I have had with hon. Members on both sides of the House the majority are satisfied with the Bill as it stands.
§ MR. CALDWELL (Glasgow, St. Rollox)
With regard to the merits of the Bill, I would remind the House that it passed its Second Reading as a Bill which met with the general approval of the House. I know nothing whatever about the Bill itself, but a Saturday's Sitting is altogether an exceptional circumstance, and it was only for the purpose of facilitating Government Business that this Sitting has been held. Indeed, there has never been any Saturday Sitting except for the transaction of Government Business; and when such a thing does take place, except for the convenience that it is held for the purpose of getting through Government measures, the Sitting is in the nature of a Wednesday Sitting, which generally deals with nothing but Private Business. If, therefore, we adhered to the Wednesday Rule, which is, that Opposed Business is closed at half-past 5, this Bill could not now be taken. The 1108 Chancellor of the Exchequer has stated that in dealing with Private Bills the Government would exercise no discretion whatever, and take no responsibility. They intimated that they would treat all Private Bills on the same footing, without reference to their merits. That being the case, no exception was made to what was done in the case of three Bills preceding this measure; but that was because those three Bills were unanimously agreed to; but when we come to this Bill, which was not discussed in this House on its Second Reading, but which is about to be forced through the Committee stage, the case is different; and when we find a Member of the Government moving the adjournment of the House immediately after the Government measures, and those unopposed Bills are got through, we are entitled to expect that the House would be adjourned. I do not think we ought to give any facilities for passing a Bill when it is being taken in violation of an understanding come to with the Government, and is being given preference over other Bills on the Paper. As the Government are breaking their bargain, I think the complaint of my hon. Friend is quite justified.
§ (7.31.) MR. KELLY (Camberwell, N.)
The Secretary to the Treasury has moved the adjournment of the House, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer is going to oppose him. I know many hon. Members, who are strongly opposed to the Bill, have left the House, not knowing that the matter was to be brought on. It is not a Bill to do away with gambling, for infants will continue to gamble whether it is passed or not. No Amendments have been put down to the measure, I admit, but that is because no one expected that any effort would be made to pass it. If it is pressed we shall discuss it clause by clause.
§ (7.33.) SIR W. LAWSON (Cumberland, Cockermouth)
I think the Bill ought to be discussed, and I hope my hon. Friend will withdraw his opposition to it.
Notice taken, that 40 Members were not present; House counted, and 40 Members not being present,
§ House adjourned at twenty-five minutes before Eight o'clock till Monday next.