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Parliament — Business Of The House—The New Rules Of Procedure—Eleventh Rule (Consideration Of A Bill, As Amended)
24 November 1882
Volume 275

[TWENTY-NINTH NIGHT.]

Order read, for resuming Further Consideration of the New Rules of Procedure.

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, in rising to move the 11th Resolution as follows: —

"That, on reading the Order of the Day for the Consideration of a Bill, as amended, the House do proceed to consider the same without Question put, unless the Member in charge thereof shall desire to postpone its consideration, or notice has been given to recommit the Bill,"
said, the object of the Resolution was to bring the details of the Bill immediately before the House, and to do away with the intermediate stage between Committee and the consideration of the Bill, as amended.

Motion made, and Question proposed,

"That, on reading the Order of the Day for the Consideration of a Bill, as amended, the House do proceed to consider the same without Question put, unless the Member in charge thereof shall desire to postpone its consideration, or notice has been given to re-commit the Bill." —(Mr. Gladstone.)

Amendment made, in line 1, by leaving out the words "on reading," and inserting the word "when," instead thereof.—( Mr. Gorst.)

Amendment made, in line 2, by inserting, after the word "amended," "in Committee of the whole House has been read."—( Mr. Beresford Hope.)

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, in rising to move, in line 2, after the words "as amended"—

"Unless in the opinion of the Speaker the scope of such Bill has been materially altered or enlarged in Committee,"
said, that the object of the Amendment was to enable a debate to be raised upon a Bill where it had undergone considerable alteration in Committee. For instance, in the case of the Arrears Bill, provisions were inserted in Committee, relating to the purchase of small tenements, of which there was no trace in the Bill on the second reading. In such, cases it was very convenient that there should be a discussion on the whole Bill as amended.

Amendment proposed,

At the end of the foregoing Amendment, to insert the words "unless in the opinion of the Speaker the scope of such Bill has been materially altered or enlarged in Committee." —(Mr. Gorst.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."

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said, the objection to the Amendment was that it would refer that matter to the opinion of the Speaker and impose on him without necessity an additional burden—a thing which was undesirable. If a Bill had been seriously and vitally altered in Committee, it would be perfectly competent for any Member to move that it be re-committed, in order to raise a discussion and call attention to the changes it had undergone, even although he might not intend to persist in his Motion. Again, in Committee, after the Bill had been gone through, the Chairman must put the Question, "That I report the Bill, as amended, to the House;" and then there would be a full opportunity for discussing the whole of the Amendments which had been made in it. Thus there were actually two occasions for raising such a discussion as the hon. and learned Member for Chatham (Mr. Gorst) contemplated; and his Amendment was, therefore, unnecessary.

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said, he thought they ought to be careful how they allowed Members to be ousted from their opportunities of opposing the further progress of a Bill which had been materially altered in Committee. Although it might not be right to require the Speaker to give an opinion as to the extent to which a Bill had been altered, it would, on the other hand, be rather hard if Members objecting to the measure so altered could only take the course of moving its re-committal, which might be highly inconvenient, and not what they desired.

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said, that they had often found Bills so greatly and materially altered in Committee that it was necessary that the House should afterwards consider them on coming up for Report. If the right to discuss Bills at that stage was abolished, the House would lose all opportunity of criticizing the details of a measure after it had passed through Committee. The House should remember that it was hampering itself by new Rules and Regulations in every way; and from what they had seen already, it was clear that the Government would not be slow to put them in force. There was little doubt that, next Session, the Government would have two or three first-class Bills passing through the House at the same time, and that was a further reason why the discussion on the Report stage should not be done away with. Experience would show in the future, as it had demonstrated in the past, that Bills would be materially altered in going through Committee; and if the present Rule, as proposed by the Government, should pass, there would be no opportunity of considering the changes made in any measure. The reason why the legislation of that House had been so successful and so satisfactory was because it had been carefully considered at every stage. This would not be the case if they got into the habit of driving measures hastily through the House. That was not the wish of the country, although he knew that several right hon. Gentlemen on the Treasury Bench were most anxious that certain measures of their own should be driven through the House. The noble Marquess the Secretary of State for India had declared that this was the reason why he was desirous of seeing the clôture passed, and the President of the Board of Trade had frankly admitted that his object in supporting the Rule was to get certain measures passed by Parliament. That being so, he (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) viewed with reluctance every proposal made to abridge the liberties of Members; and if the hon. and learned Member for Chatham (Mr. Gorst) went to a division with his Amendment he should vote for it.

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said, that the present Government once brought in a Bill professedly for the philanthropic and harmless object of relieving distress in Ireland; but during the progress of the measure through Committee they attempted to introduce into it wholly different and highly contentious matter, to which serious exception was taken by Members sitting in various parts of the House, and which related to what was called compensation for disturbance. That was an illustration of the great abuse which might occur under the system which the Government desired to establish. In future, those who had been somewhat disrespectfully referred to as private-Bill-mongers might have a strong temptation presented to them to introduce apparently harmless Bills which might afterwards be converted into substantially different measures, and would have virtually to be swallowed by the House without the discussion of their principle. The House ought, therefore, to have an opportunity of debating, at the stage of Report, the principle of a Bill, which might, perhaps, have assumed an entirely new aspect during its progress through Committee.

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said, that if a Bill had been altered and come out of Committee a different measure, or materially changed, a second opportunity of considering it was necessary. The Chairman or the Speaker might safely be trusted to determine whether any serious alteration had been made, and might be allowed to shape its future course, having regard to that fact.

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said, he agreed that Bills had sometimes gone up into Committee and had come back again materially altered. It had always struck him that there ought to be some provision for considering Bills passed through Committee for the purpose of pointing out what was the effect of the Amendments made there. That might be an inconvenient rule if invariably followed; but where considerable Amendments were adopted it would be found of the greatest utility. In that way the inconsistency so often complained of by Judges, and difficulties of interpretation, would be largely avoided.

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said, he might remind the House that they had already accepted a modification of the Half-past Twelve Rule; and they must carefully bear in mind the fact that certain Bills not formerly affected by that Rule would, in future, come within its operation.

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said, that the Amendment then before the House would not meet the wishes of the right hon. Member for South-West Lancashire; but if such a step were to be taken at all, it would come more usefully when the House had decided finally upon the form the Bill was to take.

Amendment proposed, at the end of the foregoing Amendment, to insert the words "the Question shall be put forthwith that."—( Mr. Gorst.)

Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."

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said, he distinctly objected to the Amendment, as it would remove the chief benefit of the Rule.

Amendment, by leave, Withdrawn.

Amendment proposed, in line 4, after "or," leave out "notice has been given." —( Mr. Monk.)

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Resolution."

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said, he would accept the Amendment, substituting the words "or a Motion shall be made."

Amendment, as amended, agreed to.

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said, he wished to move an Amendment which would have the effect of preventing a Bill, as amended, being proceeded with where a Motion should be made to oppose or re-commit the Bill.

Amendment proposed, in line 4, after the word "to," to insert the words "oppose or."—( Mr. Sclater-Booth.)

Question proposed, "That the words 'oppose or' be there inserted."

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said, he must oppose the Amendment, as it would strike at the whole principle of the Rule.

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maintained that if this Rule were amended in the direction proposed, they might as well have no such Standing Order.

Amendment, by leave, Withdrawn.

Main Question, as amended, put.

The House divided:—Ayes 57; Noes 27: Majority 30.—(Div. List, No. 396.)

(11.) Resolved, That when the Order of the Day for the Consideration of a Bill, as amended, in the Committee of the whole House, has been read, the House do proceed to consider the same without Question put, unless the Member in charge thereof shall desire to postpone its consideration, or a Motion shall he made to recommit the Bill.