§ (12.12.) DR. CLARK
I wish to ask if the Government have really any intention to move the appointment of the Committe on the financial relations of the three countries? The Motion stands on the Paper for to-night, and for three years this Motion has been in suspense and has been brought before us at such times when it has been impossible for us to consider it. Is the Committee really to be appointed? We have been told in reference to Bills in which these financial relations are concerned, that if there is anything wrong in the proportion of grant for Scotland, then this shall be set right by and by when the Committee have 455 reported, but the Report of the Committee will never get us back our arrears for these years. Scotch Members feel that they are being defrauded by the course the Government are pursuing, and it is time for the First Lord to say if the Government really mean that the Committee shall be appointed. The Welsh Members insist that the position of Wales shall also be discussed by the Committee and I think they are quite right. The only way to secure the appointment of the Committee is to make the Motion some night at eleven o'clock. I believe the discussion would be concluded in an hour, but it is not the slightest use putting down the Motion night after night when it cannot possibly be taken.
§ (12.14.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I quite agree with the hon. Member that there is a certain amount of inconvenience in having the Motion down day after day, and Session after Session. But the Government are not to blame for that. If we are unable to get the Second Reading of a Bill to which on principle there is no opposition after eight long hours of Debate and after a long discussion on the First Reading, it is not likely that we can find time to discuss at length an intricate and controversial question connected with the financial relations of the various parts of the United Kingdom. The hon. Member suggests closing another Debate at eleven o'clock, but we have no certainty that a Debate on this subject commenced at that hour would conclude at twelve o'clock, and the result would probably be that we should waste an hour and get no nearer to the appointment of the Committee. Under the circumstances, I am afraid, seeing how Government Business is in arrear, that I cannot give such a pledge as the hon. Member asks for.
§ (12.16.) MR. SEXTON (Belfast, W.)
The appointment of this Committee was promised in the course of the Budget Debate in 1890, and part of the grievance is ours. I must say on behalf of the Irish Members, that the blame for the non-appointment of the Committee is with the Government alone. The right hon. Gentleman 456 speaks of the subject being intricate and controversial, but the Motion is for the appointment of a Committee and surely there is nothing intricate about that whatever may be case with the labours of the Committee when appointed. The point of controversy left is the inclusion of Wales, and this may be determined after a comparatively brief Debate. Three Sessions have been allowed to pass, and no reasonable attempt has been made by the Government to settle the question. I am bound to say I think the Government are trifling with the House, and this is a mockery of the Irish and Scotch Members whose interests are primarily concerned. If the Government do not intend to take any definite action in this matter it would be better that they should withdraw the Motion altogether.
§ MR. S. T. EVANS (Glamorgan, Mid)
That is not a reasonable proposition, seeing that the right hon. Gentleman has himself said it will require more than an hour.
§ MR. S. T. EVANS
I will not attempt to define the distinction. We desire that Wales shall be included in the Investigation, and it is only a pedantic objection of the Chancellor of the Exchequer stands in the way. The right hon. Gentleman argues that Wales has no claim to be considered a separate entity.
§ MR. S. T. EVANS
I was endeavouring to induce the right hon. Gentleman to accept the Amendment standing in my name. If he will not do that, then let him take the discussion at a reasonable hour in the evening, but he may be assured that there is not the slightest intention on the part of Welsh Members to withdraw that Amendment.
§ House adjourned at a quarter after Twelve o'clock.