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FRIDAY, JULY 5, 1872. '---'----,-


FRIDAY, JULY 5, 1872. THE time is very near at hand when the session of Parliament must be brought to a close. A month at the most remains to conclude the fulfilment of the ministerial programme, even if the prorogation be postponed till somewhat beyond the usual time. Mr. GLADSTONE has,experienced the impracticability of prolonging the session far into August. Jaded legislators cannot stand this extension of what are really arduous labours in those cases where they are rigidly and conscientiously performed. So this year, as in years before, what business cannot be concluded within the next three or four weeks will have to be postponed,, and go to swell existing arrears. In looking at what has been accomplished, and what' remains to be done, at the time devoted to party discussions, and what has been and remains to be devoted to practical and much- needed social legislation, we confess to experi- encing a feeling of disappointment, and to realis- ing vividly a truth which has been enunciated, that the time of the session, according to the present way of conducting business, is really not sufficient for the requirements of the country. Of course there have been extra- ordinary impediments to business this ses- sion but then there nearly always are, such impediments of some kind or other. A foreign war breaks out and distracts the attention of legislators a critical negotiation with some great power provokes ''endless discussions a Ministerial crisis oceurs a Budget breaks down and has to be ^reconstructed; special legislation has to be undertaken for Ireland or Scotland a measure of a party nature occupies an unexpectedly long time in its progress a dead lock occurs between the I-louses-it is always something that prevents the realisation of the anticipations signified in the Ministerial programme. This jear the American difficulty has been the great impediment to busi- ness. It is not only, the vast amount of time that lias been expended in questions and answers, criticisms and explanations,. statements and dis- • curious upon this question, tlij distraction of attention and the disturbing of men's minds, indisposing them for ordinary work, which is, to be regretted by the country. Pro- bably, besides a great deal in other ways, these annoying find now happily 'defunct claims will have cost us two or three good laws, for which the country, or large sections of it, are anxiously await- ing. Then there has been the Ballot Bill, taking up the time and provoking disagreement between the two Houses of Parliament. It would have been better perhaps if this question had not been dealt with in the way of practical legislation until the Liberal party had gone, to on the subject. A verdict of the constituencies in favour of the principle would have saved much discussion in the Lower House, and have mollified opposition in the Upper. When the Bill was under dis-' cussion by their lordships, one of their number re- marked that the loss of time over this measure was deplorable, considering how many much more practically important and beneficial measures were awaiting consideration and he instanced the Mines Bill, Public Health Bill, and the Licensing Bill. Although we do not altogther agree with the noble lord, it is nevertheless to be regretted that so much delay hos taken place. As, however, the Peers are themselves mainly responsible for it, and have done more to irritate and vex the country than could have been expected after the warning they received last year, the objection contains an implied reproof to the Upper House which may have a beneficial effect, coming as it did from one of themselves. The important measures alluded to doubtless occasion very considerable anxiety to the Government. It is these measures which now form the difficulty of the Cabinet and of Parliament. If they are dropped and Ministers or ordinary members of the Lower House plead as an excuse the time occupied in the discussion of the American difficulty and the Ballot Bill, they will be told, in effect, by the press and by their constituents that they have failed to do what was absolutely necessary in the interest of the country. Without' these Bills being turned into statutes, we shall have complaints again of a barren Session and yet so little disposable time remains that it is most likely they will be passed, if passed at all, without due consideration and will netid amendment next year. If they are left over, so much will be added to those arrears of Par- liamentary workwhich are now continually accumu- lating, and our legislators, when they re-assemble, will again have forced upon them a task, to which many by this time must be habituated, of imitating SYSIPHUS in rolling the stone of legislation labori- ously up the hill of impracticability, only to find it at the bottom when exhausted by the effort. It is assuredly one of the great defects of our Parlia- mentary system, that it wastes a large amount of time quite unnecessarily. If our legislators cannot in any Session finish off their work on any parti- cular question, they have to begin afresh and do all over again the next year. Thus it was with the Ballot Bill, which has occupied so much of their time. If measures were taken up at the beginning of a Session where they were left at the end of a pre- ceding one, more would be done to forward business than by morning sittings and debates prolonged long after midnight, to the disgust of members, the ruin of health, the discomfort of families, and the misery "of every one connected with the daily press. Possibly we shall have an alteration for the better by the close of the present century. It is too much to expect a change before. Mr. SPEAKER still wears his robes, and wig the "bauble" still lies on the table in front of the chair the officials of the House continue to appear in what is absurdly called court dress reporters are supposed" to be non-existent and the shallow farce of a "count out" is still tolerated. Indeed, almost the only Tory of the old school left in the country is the House of Commons in its collec- tive and corporate capacity, and the sooner it is converted from the error of its ways of formal procedure the better for individual members and the people at large.







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