5 JUNE 1880, Page 3

A very curious discussion arose in the COMMOIIII on Tuesday

on the appointment of the Committee on Merchant Shipping. The Committee nominated contained 23 members, of whom 12 were Liberals, 9 Conservatives, and 2 Home-rulers. Mr. A. Balfour, who is taking up the position of leader of Opposi- tion when the business is badgering, objected to this arrange- ment as a breach of the old understanding that the members on a Committee should be equal, plus one taken from the Minis- terial side. Mr. Gladstone, however, showed that there was now a third party in the House,—the Home-rulers,—the num- bers being, as subsequently explained by Mr. Chamberlain, 350 Liberals, 240 Tories, and 60 or so who made tip the third party. It was therefore, the Premier contended, only fair to allot to Government as many Members as both Tories and Parnellites contributed, plus one. The discussion was not finished, Mr. Gladstone promising that it should be reopened on the next occasion; but an admission by Mr. Parnell probably settles the ultimate decision. He observed that he should prefer a sugges- tion made by Sir S. Northcote,—namely, that the Government should nominate, say, ten, and the Opposition nine, and the Third Party two, because that would leave the Home-rulers always in possession of the balance of power. The effect of that artless remark was to remind the House that after the new formation of parties, Mr. Gladstone's proposal was inevitable, unless the Parnellites were to govern the Committees.