Symud i'r prif gynnwys
Cuddio Rhestr Erthyglau

10 erthygl ar y dudalen hon



PARLIAMENTARY JOTTINGS. MEMBERS of Parliament often remind me of schoolboys; the majority of them rejoice in a holi- day as much as they did when under masters and tutors, and, indeed, the Government have worked the young members this Session, "pretty consider- ably," as the Yankee would say. Those above sixty years of age claim exemption from sitting on committees; consequently, when there is much business to be done of this kind, the younger mem- bers are sure to be im for it; and the number of election petitions, in addition to inquiries into private bills &c., this Session, have been more than usually numerous, and every committee- room has been occupied, day by day, from ten or eleven in the morning till four in the afternoon, employing the time of upwards of one hundred members. On the eve of the Whitsuntide holi- days the young representatives countenances seemed to brighten up, and as they left the House, after the announced adjournment, there was observable something like a cheer of de- light. Again, like schoolboys, they returned to their labours, and on the first day of re- assembling members just looked in at old faces and old benches and retired again; they did not seem prepared for work, and it took considerable o. whipping up" to make a House. The most notable matter on Thursday, previous to the set business of the day being introduced, was Mr. Disraeli rising to ask a question concern- ing the proposed European Congress. "What is it?" "What is he going to move?" was asked on all sides, as the manly form of the leader of the Opposition got upon his legs. There is an im- portance in every attitude of Mr. Disraeli, from the curl which invariably settles upon the same spot on his forehead which it has always occupied, never decreasing, never lessening even by a hair, to the long sui'tout which he seems always to have worn, and into the back pockets of which his hands must necessarily be plunged, as if he could not trust his colleagues behind him. Mr. Speaker, Sir," he commences with solemnity and then hesitates a little, that the House may know a man of importance is about to address them. On this occasion, as on several occasions lately, he put himself forward as the mouth-piece of his party and said, "I take this opportunity of insti- tuting some inquiry from her Majesty's Govern- ment on a subject of great importance. I should I like to know whether they have any communication to make to the House respecting the proposed or intended Conference in Paris. I wish to know whether it is a fact that her Majesty's Government have acceded to the invitation of one of the Great Powers and consentd to have a Conference respect- ing the affairs of various parts of Europe, and whether there is any truth in this announcement which I find in a foreign journal that is generally treated as a semi-official organ. The three Courts seek condi- tions of agreement in territorial compensations which would offer indemnities and satisfaction to the claims of Prussia, Austria, and Italy. The difficulty in the present st^te of affairs is in finding compensations suitable to each case. "Now," continued the right hon. gentleman, I want to know what these territorial compensations mean. Mr. Gladstone immediately rose; and asked Mr. Disraeli to be kind enough to let him see the paper, and having read the paragraph referred to, he confessed to a want of information on the subject, and said he would give the .best answer in his power—viz., that th.e G-oveirnnieBt had entertained with earnest desire though, perhaps, not with sanguine hope-the Congress about to be formed by the united efforts of England, France, and Russia. That the proposals to be made by this Congress had not been finally adjusted, but that territorial compensations would not be the basis on which it would be formed. A little amusement was caused by Mr. Darby Grriffith rising to point out that the Foreign-office was entirely unrepresented, and to ask when the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Lajard) would be present. Mr. Gladstone said he had no intimation of his honourable friend's absence, but he would doubtless be in his place when his services were needed. A young, member below the gangway said, I" lyho's Griffith?" a remark referable to an advertising term seen all over London, which made all who heard it titter. Lord Eliot, the eldest son of Earl St. Germans, a fine-looking person, with full flowing auburn beard, and Mr. M. Chambers, a quiet looking gentleman, with grey hair, walked up to the table, introduced by two members, and took their oaths and seats for Devonport. Lord Otho Fi'zgerald, who has been re-elected for the county of Kildare, on his taking office in the Queen's Household, followed suit. The noble lord is the third son of the Duke of Leinster, and Captain of the London Irish Volunteers. He looks every inch a soldier of the aristocratic stamp. The prime subject.of the evening, however, was the Customs and Inland Revenue Bill, that is to say, the Budget in another shape. When it was introduced, Mr. Hubbard, an ex-Governor of the Bank of England, introduced an amendment which advised the taking that part of the surplus revenue which was to be applied to the reduction of the National Debt and using it for the purpose of reducing the duties on fire and marine insurance. In an emphatic manner he proceeded to argue that nobody wanted such a convenient insti- tution as the National Debt to be paid off; and that it would a bad speculation to get rid of a mortgage on such light terms, when money was at ten per cent. Mr. Hub- bard is a very unpretending, yet somewhat dogmatic speaker; he is, however, parexcellence, a Bank of England man, and he rises into compara- tive importance when bank subjects are discussed. His amendment on this occasion was seconded by Mr. Marsh, "the Australian man," as he is called, because after having made a fortune in that colony he takes every opportunity of denouncing the system of Government carried on there. There is a good deal, that is clever about Mr. Marsh. He has a smart, confident way of speaking, and makes occasionally some clever points, which induces one to believe in- his originality, at least, if not in his depth of argument. He was not fortunate, how- ever, in taking up the. subject of the coal supply, and telling us that there was less fear of lack of coal than lack of water, and arguing tha.t if coal failed we could use water. Mr. Mill happened not to be in the House, otherwise the hon. gentleman's theory would probably have been torn to pieces by the great political economist. After several speeches had been made upon the subject it was found that Mr. Hubbard's amendment came at the wrong time, and was not in order, therefore Air. Gladstone had little to say in reply, and he only attempt to divide the House upon the subject was made by Mr. Hubbard, who alone cried "No" when the question "That the second reading do now pass was put from the chair. After this was disposed of, Mr. Gladstone intro- duced his Terminable Annuities Bill, which seemed likely to lead to an. interminable debate. The bill wa s an appendix, as it were, to the ^Chancellor of the Exchequer's Budget, and is, in a measure, a new way of paying old debts;" that is to s?y, that, without interfering with the prosperity of the country, Mr. Gladstone thinks that we can pay off the Nat ional Debt in less than a hundred years. _Mr. Hubbard. thought differently; so did Mr. Laing, Sir Fitzroy Keliy, and a host of other members; but, perhaps, no speech was more damaging to the Government than that of Mr. Fawcett, who, quoting from this autho- rity or the other, said he had recently read (although he is blind) such a remark, and argned that all -oppressive taxation should be reduced before we paid off old debts, which our ancestors, for the most part, had contracted. The second reading, however, passed, but with the dis- tinct understanding that it should be thoroughly sifted in committee. On Friday, as on Thursday, members were very slow in making their appearance, and, after prayers had been read, Mr. Speaker sat upon the Treasury Bench for a few minutes, to see if suffi- cient members were present; he then commenced counting, and only found thirty-four, himself making thirty-five; he, therefore, declared it no House," and retired. The next morning I noticed that the London papers all began in the usual phraseology, At four o'clock the Speaker took the chair." Now, he did not take it at all, as it is not etiquette for him to do so until forty members are present, without which it is no meeting."






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