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AFTIR a second campaign of organised obstruction, the'Govemment have pushed their Agricultural Rating Bill through its various stages in the House of Commons. The proceedings on reporting the Bill out of Committee to the House were quite exceptional and unprecedented. The first clause uf the Bill, which established the principle of the exemption of agricultural land from half the rates to which the Bill applies, had been discussed for no less than five days in Committee. Some idea of the inordinate length of such a discussion may be gathered from the fact that in the debate on the Home Rule Bill, after the first clause had been debated in Committee for five days, Mr. MOKLEY came down and moved the closure. And yet the Home Rule Bill attempted to separate Ireland from England and to give Irishmen a Parliament of two chambers, together with right to send members to Westminster. Five nights, in lr. MORLEY'S opinion, were enough to discuss such a momentous event and yet the Opposition grumbled terribly when, after five days' discussion in Committee, Mr. BALFOUR closured the first clause of the Rating Bill, after it had been again dis- cussed on Report for three days. The public should try and grasp these facts, for they are really important. The first section of the Agricultural Rating Bill consisted of fourteen lines, the principle of which had been discussed on the first reading for one niffht, on the second reading for three nightr-C and in Committee, practically for eight nights. And yet Sir W. HARCOURT, with his group of half-a-dozen Welsh members, declares that he must appeal unto CVsar from the majority of the House." Such an appeal is mere bombast. The constituencies understand the policy of brag, which the leader of the Opposition is now carrying on, and estimates it at its true value. The question which is really coming up for discussiou is how Parliament can be made an effective legislative instru- ment. The action of a minority in the House, determined to oppose all legislation, good, bad, and indifferent, has had a very good illustration during he present session. Take the Education Bill, which the Government were obliged to drop from sheer want of time in the face of organised obstruction, and examine how time would have been wasted under the present condi- tions of Parliamentary warfare. Mr. BALFOUR'S own description should be re- membered. Announcing the withdrawal of the Bill, he said:—" There are now on the paper ninety-six pages of amendments. Excluding duplicates, there are one thou- sand two hundred and thirty-eight—or one thousand two hundred amendments. Allow- ing twenty per cent. for friendly amend- ments, which might possibly be withdrawn or accepted-a not illiberal allowance- that leaves nine hundred and sixty amend- ments to be disposed of. That number we cannot regard as final, for one of the pecu- liarities of the last four nights' debate has. been that for every amendment of which we dispose, two at least appear on the'paper next day. Let us take it at nine hundred and sixty—that no further amendment is put down on the paper, and these nine hundred and sixty hostile amendments have to be disposed of. I see, or I think I see, plain indications on the part of those responsible for the conduct of the Opposi- tion to this Bill, that no amendment shall be disposed of except after resort to the closure. Assuming that it takes ten min- utes to divide-which is a low estimate- and on those amendments we had to divide twice, it would take up-without any dis- cussion whatever, without a single word being said for or against those amendments on their merits—it would take, by the mere operation of walking round and round the lobbies, no less than forty eight-hour days to dispose of the amendments. on the paper —forty days of eight hours continuously occupied, not in debate, not in discussion or argument, but in the healthy, but some- what barren process of walking round and round the lobbies. I think it will be admitted after what I have said that the idea, in the face of such opposition, of finish- ing this Bill before a new session had to begin was chimerical and one which no rational man could possibly entertain, however much justification there may have been before." Such a calm statement of the absurbity of the whole situation will do a great deal to clear the atmosphere of cant with respect to the disposal of public busi- ness by the Government. The logical result of such opposition, as the Radical party with Sir WILLIAM HARCOURT'S con sent has inaugnrated, can only be a further reform of Parliamentary procedure.

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