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Business Of The House

Volume 92: debated on Tuesday 23 April 1901

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I beg to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will postpone the discussion on the Report of the coal tax resolution until next week. On Thursday there is to be a meeting of the Federation of Miners from all parts of the kingdom. The right hon. Gentleman will see that the miners are not able at once to place their views before him as the coalowners and merchants can do; and yet it is highly desirable that they should have an opportunity of placing their objections to the tax before the Government. That cannot be done if the Report is taken on Thursday.

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Of course I shall be very happy to receive and consider any views which the minors may present to me on this subject. I may say that I have already undertaken to receive deputations from other interests affected; and of course I shall consider anything which may be said. But I confess I do not quite see why the Report of the resolution should be postponed. The invariable course has been—and both I and the right hon. Gentleman remember the opposed Budget of 1885—to allow the Report of the resolution to be adopted by the House and to be embodied in the Finance Bill, before the House is really asked to express a decision on the subject. There will be ample time before the Second Reading of the Finance Bill for any representations to be made and considered; and therefore I hope I shall not be pressed to postpone the Report of the resolution, which is treated invariably as a formal stage binding the House to nothing. The postponement would make a very inconvenient delay in the introduction of the Bill.

It is quite true that there have been occasions on which this resolution has been passed without discussion; but that has not been the usual course. There are very special reasons in this case why the right hon. Gentleman should have an opportunity of knowing the feelings of the miners on this subject, and that there should be a full discussion on the resolution. That being so. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will be able to make arrangements for postponing the resolution, because the opportunity of which he speaks may not occur for a considerable time.

Of course I will consider the suggestion, and I will communicate with the right hon. Gentleman on the subject; but I may add that I am not convinced by what he has said.

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury, who no doubt is aware of the communication which you, Mr. Speaker, read to the Mouse at the commencement of business, whether he will put down Irish Supply and the Attorney General's Vote on the earliest possible day, to give to Irish Members an opportunity of discussing the prosecution of the lion. Member for North Leitrim.

I will do my best to meet the views of hon. Gentlemen; but though I cannot at present give an absolute pledge without consultation, as at present advised, I see no obstacle to putting down the Vote on Friday week. As I understand, hon. Members will not be able to discuss in Committee of Supply the sentence passed on a Member of this House or the action of the judge in passing it. The only subject of discussion would be the conduct of the Irish Executive in ordering the prosecution.

As to the point of order, that may be dealt with when it arises. All we ask is that the Vote for the Attorney General's salary shall be put down at the earliest possible day. I understand the right hon. Gentleman to say be cannot put it down before Friday week.

I have already announced that Votes in Class III. will be put down on Friday next, and there is considerable objection to upsetting an arrangement already made.

Inasmuch as we have had Irish debates during almost the whole time of the session, could not the right hon. Gentleman allow Friday week to be given to something connected with England?

I do not quite see the point of that request. Next Friday will be devoted to English questions, and there must be a certain number of days in the session devoted to Irish Supply. I do not know that it is more inconvenient to discuss Irish Supply on Friday week than on any other Friday If any special inconvenience could be shown either for English or Irish Members, alterations might be made.

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I am anxious to bring them on as soon as possible, for it is inconvenient to the War Office that the final decision should not be quickly taken. But progress must be made with the Budget and the Civil List proposals before those resolutions can be brought on.

Will the right hon. Gentleman consider the advisability of providing English Members with a Parliament for themselves?