§ Order read for resuming Adjourned Debate on Question [29th July], "That Standing Order 243 be suspended, and that the Bill be now read the third time."—(Mr. Caldwell.)
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Queen's Consent signified.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the third time."
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day three months."—(Mr. Henry J. Wilson.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ (3.10) MR. CHILDERS (Edinburgh, S.)
I hope the Amendment will not be pressed, as it is a somewhat unusual coarse to move the rejection of a Bill without assigning any reasons for the Motion. Perhaps, under the circumstances, I had better say a word as to what the Bill does, and why it is considered to be necessary. It is a Bill which after having received discussion in the House was referred to a Select Committee of five members—three selected in the usual way and two nominated by the Committee of Selection. I was one of the two nominated by the Committee of Selection, and I can safely say that both of us entered the Committee with perfectly open minds. Neither of us took part in the Division upon the second reading, and neither of us had the slightest bias either one way or the other. The fact of the matter is, that the existing Church has come to be altogether unsuited to the wants of the parish, and it has been thought desirable to dispose of the site and erect another Church in the centre of the parish where it will better meet the necessities of the locality. I may add that the Bill is unanimously 747 supported by the inhabitants of the parish.
§ MR. CUNNINGHAME GRAHAM (Lanark, N.W.)
I rise to protest against debating so small a question at so late a period of the Session. The whole question has already been fully discussed. I do not deny that the right hon. Gentleman has put all the facts clearly and cogently before the House, but we have heard them already and there is nothing more to be said upon the matter. Certainly nothing has occurred to-day to remove from the minds of hon. Members that a complete job is being perpetrated.
§ (3.14.) VISCOUNT CRANBORNE (Lancashire, N.E., Darwen)
The hon. Member who moved the rejection of the Bill refrained from giving any reasons why a measure, which was fully discussed upon the Second Reading and has passed the ordeal of a Committee, should be rejected at the eleventh hour. When the Bill was before the House for Second Reading we were told that the measure was very much opposed by the parish, and it was pointed out that there was a petition against it from the Vestry. It appeared, however, when the Committee met upstairs that the Vestry had withdrawn their petition and that the Bill was altogether unopposed except by a certain charitable Trust. One of the great points on the Second Reading was that it was proposed to destroy an artistic monument, but no architects for artistic purposes appeared before the Committee at all. The Institute of Architects did petition, but no appearance was put in in support of the petition. The hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. Picton) cross-examined the witnesses in order to prove his contention, but he completely failed; and it was shown that the removal of the church will be of material advantage to the inhabitants of the parish. I am afraid that the Motion to reject the Bill is to be attributed to that bitter opposition to improvements in the Church of England of which we had a signal instance yesterday afternoon. I hope that all fair-minded Members of the House will combine to resist the opposition offered to this Bill.
§ (3.20.) MR. WOOTTON ISAACSON (Tower Hamlets, Stepney)
I hope that the Amendment will be withdrawn. 748 As a resident of the parish, I can assure hon. Members that the removal of this church is very much needed by an increasing and populous district, and it would be a great loss-to the neighbourhood if the Bill were rejected. It is simply an exchange of one site for another, and if the removal takes place there will be an excellent church, with a parsonage as well. The population to be served is a working class population, who will be placed at a great disadvantage if the Bill is rejected.
§ MR. W. H. CROSS (Liverpool, West Derby)
The Bill was referred to a hybrid Committee at the special request of the opponents. The Committee went very fully into every matter, and the hon. Member for St. Pancras (Mr. T. H. Bolton), although invited to place his views before the Committee, did not appear, and no real opposition was offered to the Bill. I do not think the Committee could have done more than they did to satisfy the reasonable wishes of the opponents of the measure, and it does seem to me unreasonable that the hon. Member for Holmfirth (Mr. H. J. Wilson) should now, without a word of explanation, move the rejection of the Bill.
§ (3.25.) MR. COURTNEY (Cornwall, Bodmin)
I do not object to the protest of the hon. Member for Lanarkshire (Mr. C. Graham) against a waste of time, but it is somewhat singular that the hon. Member who moved the rejection of the Bill did not utter a word of explanation in doing so. He did not even state that he thought all the arguments on the subject had been exhausted, and that a further speech was unnecessary. That being so, it appears to me as if the hon. Member's motive in the action he had taken was not to save the time of the House, but the hope that if the House proceeded to a Division at once the Bill would be rejected. That appears to me to have been the motive that actuated the hon. Member, but, if it was not so, perhaps he will rise in his place and clear himself of it. I have laid it down over and over again that if a Bill has been read a second time, referred to a Committee and passed by that Committee after being examined in all its details, and if, too, the Bill is defended by the Chairman of the Committee on the Third Reading stage 749 before the House, it would be a destruction of our method of procedure and an abuse of power if the House insisted for some private reason on ruining the Bill against the well-considered decision of the majority on the Second Reading and against the views of the Committee. There is a word often used in the House, the meaning of which I think is rarely strictly examined—I refer to the word "obstruction." Cries of obstruction are often raised, and, in my opinion, frequently without justice. In connection with this word, I think I may refer to a speech which I made in this House 10 years ago, in which I attempted to define what obstruction is. I then laid down that obstruction is not prolonging a Debate in order to secure greater objection or fresh discussion in the House or in the country. That may be justifiable. What I consider to be obstruction is the use of the power given by the forms of the House by a few persons to defeat what is the desire of the majority, after the question has been thoroughly examined, after every argument has been stated, and after the House and the country know exactly what is in issue. If the House, on the chance position it was then in, at five minutes past 3 o'clock, had used the power which the Members then had to defeat the Bill, although the Members then present might have been in the majority, their action would have been, in my opinion, open to the charge of obstruction such, as I have attempted to define.
§ MR. CUNNINGHAME GRAHAM
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, we have just heard from a very responsible Member of the House an ex parte definition of "obstruction," which I do not wish to go forth as the correct definition. I therefore ask you whether we are to accept that definition or not.
§ *MR. SPEAKER
The right hon. Gentleman is so good a judge of order that I can add nothing to what he has said.
§ (3.30.) SIR H. JAMES (Bury, Lancashire)
Like many other Members present, all I know of the Bill is that it has passed the Second Reading, and that a very strong Committee has reported in its favour. I admit that on some occasions the House might properly and rightly overrule the 750 decisions of a Committee; but it is altogether unusual to ask the House to do so without a single reason being given why it should be done. My mind is quite open on the matter, and I ask those who dissent from the Report of the Committee on this Bill to state the reasons why the Bill should not be passed. If hon. Gentlemen who are against the Bill do not think it worth their while to give one reason why the decision of the Committee should be upset, I shall certainly think it right to vote in favour of the decision of the Committee.
§ (3.33.) The House divided:—Ayes 85; Noes 55.—(Div. List, No. 400.)
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read the third time, and passed, with Amendments.