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THE GOVERNAIENT PROPOSALS. Whatever may be thought of the Govern- ment proposals for the economy of time in Parliament, there can be no question that a reform in the procedure of that body is absolutely necessary, unless the business of the country is to remain at the mercy of a band of obstructionists. The evident disgust of these gentlemen at Mr W. H. Smith's proposal is a sufficient guarantee for its necessity and for its efficacy. Mr Gladstone, who apparently is aware of the impossibility of conducting business without some such reform, merely desires to refer the matter to a select com- mittee to report upon. It is from the irresponsible members of his party that opposition is to be apprehended. It seems unreasonable that the labour expended upon the early stages of a Bill should be labour lost if it does not pass into law during the session, and that the weary debate upon principles should be repeated at the next meeting of Parliament. Under the present system it is almost impossible that the details of any intricate Bill can receive sufficient at- tention, so much time is wasted in wrangling over the early stages that the arrangement of details in committee is left to so late a period of the session, that they cannot be carefully considered, with the result that further amendments are necessary. The Govern- ment seek to obviate this growing evil, fivstly, by preventing any Bill, except money Bills, continuance Bills, or Bills returned from the House of Lords with amendments, from being proceeded with after the 15th of July. Further, that any Public Bill that has reached the committee stage, or has been reported by a standing committee, may by resolution of the House be suspended and resumed at the same stage during the following session of the same Parliament. If the Government proposal is accepted, as it undoubtedly will be, the leader of the House will recommend that the committee on the Irish Land Purchase Bill be adjourned to next session, and that the energies of the House be devoted to the pass- ing of the Local Taxation, Tithes, Western Australia Constitution, Indian Councils, Barracks and Census Bills, while the Police, Houses of the Working Classes, and Savings Banks Bills will after the second reading be referred to the standing committee. Mr Sexton calls this an enormous legislative pro- gramme, but as Mr Smith pointed out the Local Taxation Bill with its licensing clauses forms the only contentious matter, and the re- maining Bills may be expected to pass into law without lengthy debate. If so much useful legislation elii be carried out during the session, the public will have no cause of com- plaint, and Mr Smith seems both confident and sanguine.


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