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Volume 229: debated on Thursday 25 May 1876

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It would be convenient to the House if the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government would be good enough to state after what hour it is not proposed to go on with the Commons Bill this evening, and also whether, in any circumstances, it is intended to proceed with the third reading of the Merchant Shipping Bill to-night? The right hon. Gentleman, of course, will not be prepared to answer the question immediately; but it would be convenient, I think, that the House should know shortly what are the intentions of the Government with regard to the Oxford University Bill. I therefore give Notice that I will tomorrow ask whether he can name any day for proceeding with that Bill.

We do not intend to take the Commons Bill to-night after half-past 10, or, perhaps, 11 o'clock, nor to proceed with it to an unreasonable hour to-night. I do not see that I shall be able to-morrow to give the noble Lord a more satisfactory answer with regard to the Oxford University Bill than I can to-night, and therefore I may as well answer his Question at once. It is quite clear that we cannot proceed with that Bill at present. It must be taken after the holidays, and then I shall be able to give a more satisfactory answer to the noble Lord. The Appellate Jurisdiction Bill must be proceeded with before the Oxford University Bill can be taken.

said, that the answer given by the Prime Minister to the Question of the noble Lord was so unusual that he must, most reluctantly, take the course of moving the adjournment of the House. The other night the Chancellor of the Exchequer said he could not tell whether the Commons Bill would be brought on at 10 o'clock or at half-past 10, and, therefore, Members did not know whether it would be brought on at 10 or at half-past 10. And now the First Minister said it might be brought on at 11 o'clock. That was not a reasonable hour for bringing on that very important Bill, and, if it were brought on at 11 o'clock, he (Mr. Fawcett) would move an adjournment. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving the adjournment of the House.

Moved, "That the House do now adjourn."—( Mr. Fawcett.)

said, the Government attached great importance to the Commons Bill, as was manifest by the mention of it in the Queen's Speech. They were perfectly aware that the Bill when it came on at the next stage must give rise to a good deal of debate, and they had no wish to bring it on at a time inconvenient to the House. But it was very inconvenient to be asked questions with regard to precise hours and half hours, especially when such questions might lead to discussions which might, perhaps, take up a quarter or half-an-hour. The object of the Government was to get on with business and to bring forward their measures at a proper time. The Commons Bill had originally been put down as the first business of the day; but it was quite obvious that no time should be lost in proceeding with the financial measure of the Government, and there- fore the Customs and Inland Revenue Bill was put down for progress in Committee as the First Order of the Day. He hoped the House would get through that Bill at a time which would enable them to proceed with the discussion on the Commons Bill. If the Customs and Inland Revenue Bill should occupy the House till a time when it would be too late to proceed with the Commons Bill, of course the Government would not wish to press it against the wish of the House. But suppose the Customs and Inland Revenue Bill should be disposed of at 10 or half-past 10, he did not think they ought to be precluded from proceeding with the Commons Bill by anything that was said in the beginning of the evening. With regard to the Question of the noble Lord as to the Merchant Shipping Bill, that Bill stood for a third reading. He did not know whether it was likely that there would be much discussion on the third reading; but if it were not reached by half-past 11 it would not be proceeded with to-night, unless there was a general desire on the part of the House that it should be read a third time.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.