§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
rose to propose the nomination of the Select Committee upon Education (Inspectors' Reports), The composition of the Committee would not be so satisfactory as he had hoped to make it, as his right hon. Friend the Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe) had declined to serve upon it. He proposed that the Committee should be constituted of the following Members:—Mr. Bruce, Sir John Pakington, Mr. W. E. Forster, Mr. G. Hardy, Mr. Dodson, Mr. Adderley, Viscount Enfield, Lord Robert Cecil, Mr. Walter, Mr. E. Egerton, Mr. Clay, Mr. Hennessy, Mr. Baxter, Mr. A. Mills, and Mr. Buxton.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Bruce be nominated one of the Members of the Select Committee on Education (Inspectors' Reports)."—(Viscount Palmerston.)983
§ MR. CLAY
said, he regretted that the right hon. Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe) would not serve on the Committee. He believed the right hon. Gentleman made it a point of honour not to be a judge in his own case. Every one's honour was in his own keeping, and there was no man whose honour was in safer keeping than that of the right hon. Gentleman. But it appeared to him (Mr. Clay) to be very difficult to divest this Committee of a character more than usually personal, and whenever that had been the case, and when the functions of the Committee had been of a judicial character, it had been very much the practice that the Committee should be named by the General Committee of Elections. That was the proposal which he should venture to make on the present occasion, and he should make it avowedly, but he hoped without offence, which it was far from his intention to give, with the view of excluding from the Committee alike the accused and the accusers. He knew it had been said that the character of the right hon. Gentleman had been sufficiently vindicated by the statement which he had made in that House, and that there was no longer any intention of making a personal attack upon him; but it was not the less true that one of the ablest Members of the Government had been driven from the position which he had occupied and from the duties which he had discharged greatly to the benefit of the schools and to the economical administration of the funds of his Department. He had not the honour of being one of the right hon. Gentleman's friends; nor had he the regret of having been one of his assailants; but if he had been one of the former, and still more assuredly if he had been one of the latter, he should not have been satisfied until he had done all in his power to rescind the Resolution which that House had undoubtedly arrived at upon a misconception of the facts. Even in the humble position which he had the honour to hold in the House, he did not sit easy under that degree of blame which attached to each and every one of them for the decision they had come to, and which he could not but consider very unfortunate. If that were so, it was impossible to divest the proposed inquiry of a personal character, not only as regarded the right hon. Gentleman, but also as regarded some of the subordinates in office, who seemed to have forgotten those sentiments of loyalty and honour which happily distinguished our public service; and per- 984 sonal also, inasmuch as it was an attack on one of our public Departments through the heads of its administration. Now, under such circumstances, it was the usual, he might say the invariable course, that the Committees should be named by the General Committee of Elections. If it was argued that the General Committee of Elections was not the proper body, and that exclusion was wrong in principle, all he had to say was that, as far as his memory went back, the principle of exclusion had been frequently adopted. He recollected that when the conduct of Sir James Graham, then Secretary for the Home Department, was called in question, the Committee was proposed by Sir Robert Peel on the principle of exclusion—exclusion both of the accuser and of the accused. Sir Robert Peel even said that he would have every lawyer also excluded, lest by squabbling about the meaning of some Act of Parliament, they should prevent a plain decision upon the merits of the case being arrived at; and he would also exclude all persons who had been in office or who were supposed to be expectants of office. In the case of the charge brought against the Marquess of Exeter for interference in an election in 1848, a Committee of five was named by the General Committee of Elections. In 1852 there was another case— it would be fresh in the recollection of hon. Members without further mention. In 1853 there was another; and in 1854 there was the case of Mr. Stonor, which was quite in point, inasmuch as it involved a personal question between that gentleman and the Duke of Newcastle, then Secretary for the Colonies; and more recently in the case of Signer Bertolacci and Earl Granville a similar course was pursued. The Committee of Elections named a Committee of five, with two assessors to conduct the case, but without power to vote. There was a very great number of similar cases, and it would be in the recollection of the House, that what he now was about to propose was the usual course. He had consulted some gentlemen who were specially acquainted with the usages of the House, and they told him he was not wrong in the view he had taken. It might be said that he himself had shown that he had opinions which disqualified him from sitting upon this Committee; and whilst he had full confidence in his own impartiality, he could assure the House that it was far from his desire to be named upon the Committee.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "the said Select Committee do consist of five Members, to be nominated by the General Committee of Elections."—(Mr. Clay.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ LORD ROBERT CECIL
said, his objection to the Amendment which the hon. Member had just moved was, in the first place, that he believed the course proposed to be entirely unprecedented; and, in the second place, that it would make an inquiry absolutely futile, and would not get at the truth which the House desired to obtain. It was unprecedented, because the instances cited by the hon. Member were wholly beside the point. The practice of the House he believed to have teen this, where a personal charge of corruption had been made against any Member of that or the other House of Parliament, or where there had been a charge connected with the electoral law of the country, in such cases, and such only, it had been assigned to the General Committee of Elections to select a Committee of five to inquire and judge. But there was another class of cases to which the present case belonged —a class with which the House had commonly to deal where great neglect or misconduct was imputed to a Department of the State, where Members sitting on both sides of the House were necessarily concerned; and he maintained if they searched the annals of the House they would scarcely find a single instance—certainly not a majority of instances—where a Committee of fifteen had been abandoned and a Committee of five substituted. Was the case of the Dover contract, where great misconduct was imputed to a Department, and in which the character of individuals was deeply concerned, sent to the General Committee of Elections? No, it was sent to a Committee of fifteen selected without any particular regard to the absence of partisanship on the part of its Members. Take the Crimean Committee, which had to investigate the alleged misconduct of a great public Department — that was nominated by the House. So they had had Committees on the Ecclesiastical Commission, on the Board of Trade, on the Admiralty, on the Foreign Office, in which charges more or less distinct had been brought against officers of the State, and the House 986 had never renounced the practice of nominating those Members whom it thought best qualified to conduct the inquiry; and it seemed to him that the House had acted most wisely in pursuing that course. The hon. Member wanted five Gentlemen who were absolutely impartial. Well, on questions that were keenly discussed, impartiality implied that the persons of whom it was predicated had not taken any very lively interest in the subject. They would go into Committee free from any bias. Yes, but free also from any knowledge; and when they set themselves down in the chair to examine into the case, they had nothing to guide them, they did not know what witnesses to call, what evidence to look for, what places they were sent to probe. And, therefore, it seemed to him that the practice which the House had invariably pursued up to this time, of appointing a few of those who attacked and of those who defended, with a majority of those who were impartial, was the best and surest way of attaining truth in the examination, after a fair discussion had taken place. He would frankly confess, if the Committee were appointed by the Committee of Selection, he should have confidence in its fairness but not in its competence. No confidence could be attached to the decision to which it would come. They would be satisfied with the mere assertion of the officers of the Department; but the abuses which prevailed in it would not be thoroughly probed, as the House and the country had a right to expect. He should support the Motion of the noble Lord at the head of the Government.
§ MR. DENMAN
said, that the objections; taken by the noble Lord (Lord Robert Cecil) were really worth nothing, looking to the way in which this question had arisen. The noble Lord's first objection was that the course which his hon. Friend the Member for Hull (Mr. Clay) recommended would be unprecedented. But they were driven to take an unprecedented course where the case was in itself unprecedented; and he apprehended there was no precedent whatever for the case which had rendered it necessary to appoint this Committee. He had sat night after night, and heard all that had taken place with reference to this subject. He had heard it with great regret, because it appeared to him that the character of the House was greatly compromised by what had taken place. He had the misfortune to be pre- 987 sent at the division which had ended in the retirement of his right hon. Friend the Memher for Calne (Mr. Lowe) and he observed with grief the character of the attack. His right hon. Friend was defending himself against a charge of mutilating Reports, and was stating that upon his honour he had never mutilated Reports. While his right hon. Friend was on his legs making that statement, the noble Lord, unknown to his right hon. Friend and unseen by him, was showing first to one Member and then to another a paper which he held in his hand. He had in his hearing asked a question of his right hon. Friend, whether Reports had not been sent back marked in the margin; and that being denied, the noble Lord handed about a paper to half a dozen Members, pointing to it, the implication of course being this, "You see that what he is stating is not according to the proof I am presenting to you." That was the noble Lord's mode of proceeding. Had it occurred in a Nisi Prius Court, had it been resorted to in the Old Bailey by any member of the profession to which he belonged, some of whom were capable occasionally of acts not altogether defensible, he could only say there was not a member of that profession whose opinion was worth a farthing who would not repudiate it as unworthy of the profession. He was obliged to say this because he thought it did show that the attack was made in a spirit and manner which was not fair; and any one who could make such an attack in that way could not be a fair and impartial judge. On this Committee he saw the name of the very noble Lord who took that course. Did he mean to intimate that the Committee would be inefficient if his name was not on it? He rather gathered that the noble Lord wished to remain on the Committee in order to make out his own case. He repeated that the way in which this case had originated being unprecedented, it was desirable that they should not be altogether fettered by precedent. But if they went to precedent, surely the precedent of the Post Office, to which his hon. Friend the Member for Hull had referred, was more close than any stated by the noble Lord. But the noble Lord stated this inquiry would be insufficient if those were not on the Committee who had already taken a strong view of the question. He apprehended that was utterly fallacious. A Committee of five Members would start with unbiassed 988 minds—that was a great thing; and they would have quite as much intelligence as any one who had applied his mind to the question before. There would also be this great advantage—that they would not run the risk of being led astray by the noble Lord, coming with his own story and hearsay evidence, obliging them to listen to what had been told him. They would compel the attendance of those who had instructed him; these would be subjected to cross-examination, and it would be possible then to ascertain whether the statements they made were fallacious and erroneous, as some of those they had supplied to the noble Lord had turned out to be. Of course all the House wanted was the truth in this matter, and by far the most likely way to arrive at it would be to have the Committee formed of Members of unbiassed judgment, who would listen in an impartial and judicial manner to anything that might be said on either side. The noble Lord adduced cases in which grave misconduct had been imputed; and had not grave misconduct been imputed in this case? Nothing could be more strong than the implication that his right hon. Friend the Member for Calne had been guilty of falsehood in denying that he had mutilated these Reports. It did appear to him that this was just one of those cases in which the ordinary course ought to be departed from, and there would be a much greater feeling of satisfaction on the part of the House, and much more reliance might be placed on the Committee, if it were appointed in the manner recommended by his hon. Friend the Member for Hull. He should certainly vote with him if he should divide the House on his Amendment.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
thought the House was in some danger of forgetting the question which was really before it. It was not a personal question. The personal question, as affecting the character of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe) had, in the opinion of all the Members of the House, been closed by the statement which that right hon. Gentleman had made. The question affected the past conduct of the Education Department with reference to the Inspectors' Reports and the future mode in which they were to be treated. How stood the facts of the case? Some time ago, certain Reports were not forthcoming, and he asked why they were not produced. The explanation made by the right hon. Gentleman was not deemed satisfactory. A 989 Motion was made by the noble Lord, expressing the opinion of the House that such was not the mode in which the Department of Education should manage this important branch of their business. That Motion was carried. The hon. Member for Hull (Mr. Clay) supposed that the vote on that Motion was entirely governed by what he would venture to call a most subordinate part of the question, as affecting some two or three Reports, but he did not believe that affected the votes of the large majority. The Resolution was passed. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Lowe) thought it his duty, considering that a vote of censure on his Department had been passed, to resign his office—a step which occasioned the general regret of both sides of the House. But the Government thought fit to ask for a Committee to inquire into the grounds on which the House came to that conclusion. If the decision of the Committee was very much to affect the policy of the Department in future, it was clearly a public, not a private question. If it were merely for the purpose, which was altogether unnecessary, of inquiring into the truth of the statement of the right hon. Gentleman, the terms of the appointment ought to have been different. The terms were that the Committee should inquire "into the practice of the Committee of Council on Education with respect to the Reports of Her Majesty's Inspectors of Schools." Surely, if the Committee had been for such a purpose as the hon. Member for Hull supposed, the Motion would have been for a Committee to inquire into the statement of the right hon. Member for Calne, and not for a Committee of Inquiry on a public question. The practical difficulty of leaving the nomination of the Committee to the Committee of Selection, was that the Committee of Selection acted on the principle of appointing Gentlemen having little previous experience of the subject to be inquired into, in order that they might have no possible bias. But if all who had a bias were excluded from the Committee, then all those who took an interest in and had studied the question submitted to the Committee would be excluded. If there should be no person representing the Educational Department on the Committee, then it would be a dangerous thing for the office that its future conduct should depend on the Report of a Committee in which it was not represented by any Member; or, if there should be included in the Committee some one 990 representing the office, then there would be the unfairness of including in it a person having an official feeling with respect to education, and excluding others who took an active, independent, and unofficial view of the subject. This Committee was moved for in the usual way by the Government, for the purpose of making what they considered the amende to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Calne, and it was to be presumed that the Government considered that the Committee was a fit one for the purpose. He joined in the regret which had been expressed, that the right hon. Member for Calne had not thought fit to allow his name to remain in the list of members for the Committee; because, on a public object, his assistance would have been most valuable, and any private object did not properly enter into the consideration of the Committee. The present Amendment, if made at all, should have been made when a full discussion took place on the appointment of a Committee. At that time an Amendment was proposed by the right hon. Member for Droitwich (Sir John Pakington) to extend the scope of the Committee very considerably, and no one then disputed that this Committee was for a public object, and that its Report would very much affect the public conduct of the Department. He could not conceive a clearer case than that this Committee was for a public object, and therefore it should be chosen as Committees for public objects generally were.
said, he entirely agreed with the hon. Member who had just sat down, that the speech of the right hon. Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe) was so clear and convincing as necessarily to satisfy the mind of every hon. Gentleman. Nevertheless it must be remembered that the Resolution of the 12th of April still remained on the records of that House, and the question to be determined was, what was the fittest manner in which the House should prepare itself to decide whether that Resolution should remain or be rescinded. He was one of those who thought that the moment the right hon. Member for Calne concluded his speech, the House was placed in a situation which enabled it without the slightest hesitation to rescind the Resolution. However, that was not the course taken by the Government. The noble Lord the Prime Minister had given notice of his intention to move for this Committee before the speech of the right hon. Member for Calne was delivered; but his belief was that 991 if the noble Lord had heard the speech of the right hon. Member for Calne before giving his notice, he would have come down and moved to rescind the Vote without taking the preparatory step of asking for a Committee. As the object in view in moving the appointment of the Committee was to know whether or not the Resolution of the 12th of April was to be retained or rescinded, the question was of what materials should the Committee, who were to advise the House on this judicial question, consist? He ventured to think that the noble Lord the Member for Stamford (Lord Robert Cecil) gave an answer to the hon. Member for Hull (Mr. Clay) which confirmed the views of that hon. Member, for the noble Lord said that those who formed the Committee should enter on the inquiry with such a knowledge of the subject as would be sufficient to guide their judgment. [Lord ROBERT CECIL: Some of them.] Well, the previous knowledge which was to guide the judgment of men who were to form an opinion on a subject of this kind was that which in the English language was called prejudice, and unless it was desired that the Members of the Committee should be guided by prejudice, the House could not refuse to accede to the Amendment of the hon. Member for Hull.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
said, that this was not a question of rescinding a Resolution of the House. If any Member thought that the Resolution of the 12th of April ought to be rescinded, it was competent for him to-bring the subject before the House; but that would be a grave proceeding, and ought to be done in a frank, open, and straightforward manner. He thought that the Amendment of the hon. Member for Hull (Mr. Clay), and the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Tiverton (Mr. Denman), were founded on a complete misapprehension of the nature of this Committee. The hon. Member for Hull said that when a Committee was appointed to investigate a charge of personal misconduct, it was the practice of the House to refer the appointment of the Committee to the Committee of Selection. The cases of Lord Exeter and Sir James Graham were personal charges; but was that the case now? He denied it altogether. He did not understand that the Government proposed, or that the House adopted, the appointment of this Committee with any intention of discussing a personal charge against the right hon. Member for Calne. He agreed in the opinion which 992 has been expressed, that the explanation given by the right hon. Member for Calne removed from the minds of hon. Members any idea that a Committee was necessary to investigate his conduct, even if any such idea had been previously entertained. This was perfectly clear, that if the noble Lord at the head of the Government had supposed that a Committee was necessary to investigate a personal charge, he would have in the outset moved for the Committee in a different form. It was a Committee to inquire not into the conduct of the right hon. Member for Calne, but into the practice of the Committee of Council on Education with respect to the Reports of Her Majesty's Inspectors of Schools, and he challenged the hon. Member for Hull to show that a Committee to inquire into the practice of a public Department on a particular point was ever appointed in any other way than by the House itself. The noble Lord at the head of the Government expressed regret that the names in the list of members for the Committee had been changed, and he shared the noble Lord's regret, so far as the right hon. Member for Calne was concerned. He knew no reason why that right hon. Gentleman should not be a member of the Committee; but no satisfactory reason had been given why the usual practice of the House in appointing a Committee to inquire respecting a public Department on a particular branch of their duty should not be adhered to. This was a subject which every friend of education ought to attend to with the greatest jealousy. It was his firm belief that the cause of public education had been retrograding under the present Administration, and that, under an imperfect system of administering the grants of that House, the system had become so costly that the Government were desirous of diminishing the expense. Under these circumstances, as Government had proposed no better plan or substitute, the House should view with particular jealousy any change on the part of the Educational Department which tended to diminish the valuable information which that House had hitherto received from the Reports of the Education Inspectors. He was very desirous of seeing the practice of the Department on that question fairly investigated. He believed it might be much amended. Valuable as the Inspectors' Reports had been, the House ought to know the principle on which they were hereafter to be made. This was 993 essentially an inquiry into a question of public policy, and no sufficient reason had been assigned for their departing from the usual practice. He therefore trusted that the noble Lord would adhere to the Motion he had made, and that the House would not sanction the innovation proposed by the Amendment.
§ MR. MASSEY
said, he was not present either at the debate or the division winch had given rise to that discussion, and therefore the only information he possessed on the subject was derived from the records of their proceedings. It had been stated both by the hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. W. B. Forster) and the right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir John Pakington) that no personal question was involved in that matter. Now, the Resolution adopted by the House on the 12th of April was in these terms —That, in the opinion of this House, the mutilation of the Reports of Her Majesty's Inspectors of Schools, and the exclusion from them of statements and opinions adverse to the educational views entertained by the Committee of Council, while matter favourable to them is admitted, are violations of the understanding under which the appointment of the Inspectors was originally sanctioned by Parliament, and tend entirely to destroy the value of their Reports.Well, if mutilations had been made they must have been made by somebody, and if the heads of the Department had made them they deserved the censure that had been cast upon them. If, on the other hand, the subordinates of the office were responsible, it was highly desirable that their conduct should be inquired into. But he could not understand how it could be said that no personal question was involved. The hon. Member for Bradford had read the order of reference as if it stood alone; but when that order of reference was made it was connected with the Resolution of the 12th of April, and therefore the two must be read together. It had been the general and the better practice of the House, though not its invariable practice, to discriminate between Committees appointed to consider particular questions of policy, and Committees appointed to inquire into personal matters, In the former case the Committees were chosen from the representatives of various opinions entertained in the House and out of doors, and proceeded to collect the materials of a report on which future legislation might be based. In the latter case, the investigation being of a judicial na- 994 ture, the Members consisted not of persons who went into it with political predilections, but of those who were fitted for the task intrusted to them by their experience and impartiality. They had to inquire, not into opinions, but into specific facts, which were to determine the status of an individual or the character of some particular transaction. To the latter category the present investigation properly belonged. It was said there was no precedent for the proposal of the hon. Member for Hull. Now, soon after he entered that House there occurred the inquiry into the alleged abuse of the patronage of the Admiralty Board in connection with a general election, and that inquiry was referred to a Committee, not of fifteen, but of five members. On a more recent occasion, when the conduct of a Member of that House was involved, a Committee of seven was appointed. It had been the practice sometimes, when it was necessary to investigate matters inculpating an hon. Member or the officials of a Department, to include in the Committee both the Member who wan impugned and his accuser, as assessors, but not to vote; and if the present Amendment were adopted, it would be for the House, after the Committee of Selection had nominated five members, to follow that course in this instance should it think fit, and to add two members as assessors. Gross misconduct was imputed by the Resolution of the 12th of April to some person or persons connected with the Board of Education; and he hoped that the House for its own credit, as well as from a sense of what was due to the incriminated Department, would lake care that the Committee should assume a judicial and not a political character.
§ MR. WALTER,
said, that it was at all times anything but an agreeable task to have to defend one's own appointment on a Committee, or to express any opinion as to one's fitness to serve on an inquiry. Certainly, as far as he was personally concerned, he would have preferred that this matter should have been permitted to drop altogether, without being referred to a Committee at all, as it was true wisdom in many cases to allow things to pass into oblivion, mid not pursue them ad infinitum. But he had felt all along that if a Committee were to be appointed, and he were nominated to serve upon it, it would be his duty to accept that nomination, as being one of those who had taken an interest and borne some part in the discussion which had led to the present Motion. 995 It appeared to him that the only question before the House was, what kind of a Committee was really likely to be the fairest and most impartial tribunal in this case. They knew that Election Committees did not receive credit for impartiality from the public at large. The endeavour, indeed, was made to make them impartial by nominating two members from either party, and a Chairman, with a casting vote, who was supposed to be specially qualified for the post assigned him; but it was, nevertheless, commonly believed out of doors that perfect confidence could not be placed in the impartiality of such a tribunal. He thought that a Committee of fifteen, consisting mainly of Gentlemen who were not supposed to have taken any active interest in the matter, and also of a minority of those on both sides who had taken an interest in it, was more likely to extract the greatest amount of information from the witnesses, and to decide upon it in a more impartial manner than a Committee of five, constituted upon the principle of Election Committees. And when the right hon. Baronet opposite (Sir John Pakington) a few weeks ago proposed to enlarge the scope of the inquiry, he declined to vote with him expressly on the ground that he conceived himself to be a very proper person, if the House so determined, to be nominated for such a Committee as that, but one who was by no means qualified to deal with that much larger question which the right hon. Baronet proposed to refer. It seemed to him that the great object of appointing fifteen members was to secure the services of the noble Lord (Lord Robert Cecil) and my hon. Friend who sits near me (Mr. W. E. Forster), and, perhaps, himself likewise, as having been the seconder of his noble Friend's Resolution. He could only say that if such a Committee as that now proposed would not command the confidence of the public, he did not know that they were likely to be satisfied with a small Committee; and he should suggest that it would be far better to let the subject drop altogether than refer it to such a tribunal. Some hon. Members appeared to think that an inevitable result of the inquiry would be to rescind his noble Friend's Resolution; but he (Mr. Walter) was by no means clear that such would be its effect. It was perfectly true that his right hon. Friend the late Vice President of the Education Department, as far as he was himself concerned, had satisfied every- 996 body who required satisfaction on that subject that he bad had no part in suppressing or mutilating the Inspectors' Reports. Nobody ever accused his right hon. Friend of doing so, as far as he had ever heard. ["Oh!"] Certainly it had been far from his intention to make any such accusation against him. But he had no doubt that the Reports had been — he hardly knew what word to use, or whether he should say "garbled" or "tampered with;" but, at all events, he was now as much persuaded as ever he was that they had been dealt with in such a manner that passages had been suppressed because they contained matter which was unpleasant to the Department. Very heavy charges had also been brought against those Inspectors who had supplied the noble Lord the Member for Stamford, himself, and others with information on this subject. They had been accused of baseness, disloyalty, and a great many other serious offences expressed in hard language. Probably those gentlemen had some right to claim that the Members to whom they furnished information should be present to watch over their interests, and see that they were fairly dealt with. That was one reason why he thought the noble Lord and himself should be members of the Committee. If the House was of a different opinion, he believed the public would be better satisfied to see the subject left where it stood, without any imputation upon his right hon. Friend the Member for Calne, than to have such a Committee as that proposed by the hon. Member for Hull.
§ MR. KINNAIRD
said, it was all very well for the hon. Member for Berkshire (Mr. Walter) to suggest that the matter should be dropped; but, in justice to the right hon. Member for Calne, it was only fair that there should be an inquiry by a Committee. For his own part, he was disposed to agree with the right hon. Baronet the Member for Droitwich on the public question; but the right hon. Member for Calne had been charged with an offence of which he was totally incapable, and hence the necessity for the Committee assuming a judicial form. He hoped the Government would assent to the Amendment of the hon. Member for Hull, for every precedent was in favour of the nomination of the Committee by the Committee of Selection.
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
thought there was a great deal of force in the arguments used by the hon. Members for Hull and Salford; and, as the House generally 997 seemed in favour of the Amendment, he was disposed to accept it.
§ MR. HENNESSY
submitted that, after what had occurred, it was the duty of the House to adjourn the debate. The noble Lord at the head of the Government had made a proposition to the House, and in doing so had made no reference to the Amendment of the hon. Member for Hull, though he must have seen it on the paper. No sooner had the noble Lord resumed his seat than several hon. Gentlemen sitting behind the Treasury Bench, and well known as strenuous supporters of the Government, got up and spoke against the Motion. The hon. Member for Perth (Mr. Kinnaird) had made his maiden Opposition speech. There was something very remarkable about the whole transaction. Besides, the subject itself was one of such importance, and it had assumed so entirely new an aspect, that he thought the debate should be adjourned till it could be proceeded with in a fuller House. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving the adjournment of the debate.
§ SIR GEORGE BOWYER
said, he seconded the Motion. There was strong reason to believe that some arrangement had been made between the Government and the hon. Gentlemen behind them, he suspected that the Government had thought it necessary to make the proposal submitted by the First Minister, but on the distinct understanding that some of their habitual supporters should feel the pulse of the House, and endeavour to obtain its consent to a different proceeding, with the view of getting a late Member of the Government out of a scrape. Nothing more astonishing had occurred for a long time than the speech of the hon. Member for Perth against the Government. The noble Lord might have said to the hon. Member "Et tu, Brute?" but he had not done so, and the reason probably was that the whole affair had been arranged before hand.
§ Motion made, mid Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned,"—! (Mr. Hennessy.)
§ SIR PATRICK O'BRIEN
said, there was another reason for the adjournment of the debate, and that was the absence of, the right hon. Member for North Stafford shire (Mr. Adderley), who had preceded the hon. Member for Calne (Mr. Lowe), in the; office which he recently held. The right hon. Member for North Staffordshire ought 998 to have been present, and to have acknowledged that he had pursued a course similar to that charged against the right hon. Member for Calne. Believing the Committee proposed by the noble Lord to be properly constituted, he should vote for the Motion.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
said, that the right hon. Member for Staffordshire bad frankly admitted on a previous occasion that, when he held the office of Vice-President, he commenced a practice very similar to that subsequently adopted by the right hon. Member for Calne. He had always regretted that his right hon. Friend took that course, and the fact that be did so strengthened his wish for an inquiry, not into the conduct of any individual, but into the system pursued in the Education Office.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
said, that the statement made by the right hon. Member for Staffordshire was that the practice originated by him went far beyond that which existed now. For his own part, he bad always thought that there was no personal question involved in the proposed inquiry; but the discussion of to-night had changed his opinion. The hon. Baronet the Member for Dundalk (Sir George Bowyer), bad distinctly asserted that Ministers were acting in concert with Gentlemen sitting behind them for the purpose of getting a late Member of the Government out of a scrape. It thus appeared that there was a personal question remaining, and, if suspicion still attached to the conduct of the right hon. Member for Calne, justice demanded that the Committee should be impartial. It could not be impartially constituted if, while his accusers were upon it, the right hon. Gentleman himself was excluded.
§ SIR GEORGE BOWYER
explained that he drew his inference as to the Government desiring to get one of their number out of a scrape entirely from their own conduct.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
trusted that the noble Lord would recognize the necessity of adjourning the debate. It was impossible to suppose that the noble Lord had put on the paper a Motion which he did not mean to press to a division; but if the matter were now pressed, many Members would feel tomorrow that a decision had been taken on the question rather by surprise. It was well known that hon. Members did not usually remain till so late an hour, when it was not expected that 999 any contested business would come on. It was understood that the arrangements as to the Committee had been settled between the Government and the Opposition, and that they would act together. Consequently, many hon. Members had gone away, believing that even if a division took place there would be a sufficient majority without them. It now appeared that the Government had changed their mind since the morning; and it was only fair that the House should have an opportunity of considering the matter under its new aspect.
§ Question put, "That the Debate be now adjourned."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 30; Noes 64: Majority 34.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."— (Colonel Dickson.)
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
I really think the course of proceeding on the other side of the House is not called for by the occasion. The most formal notice was given of the Amendment, and it is impossible to say that the House has been taken by surprise. This is not a new subject. It is one which every Member must have had in his mind; and I do not see what is to be gained by adjourning the debate. The question can be decided now as well as to-morrow or the next day, and there ought to be no unnecessary delay. The character and feelings of individuals are concerned, and the matter ought not, therefore, to be hung up from day to day, when the House is perfectly able to decide on it at once.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
I can retort on the noble Lord, that the proceedings on the other side of the House are such as very naturally to excite on this side the suspicion of a surprise. The noble Lord having given notice of a Motion, a Member not connected with the Government put an Amendment on the paper; but no one had any reason to suppose that, without any warning, the noble Lord would withdraw his own Motion in favour of the Amendment. To-night, also, we have seen the Tellers of the Government telling in a division against the Motion of the Ministers. A more remarkable deviation from the usual practice of the House, or a more decided case of surprise, I do not recollect. It is a case in which independent Members 1000 on this side have a right to protest and complain. I appeal to the noble Lord, under these circumstances, to consent to an adjournment.
§ SIR GEORGE GREY
I am sure the right hon. Baronet would not willingly state what is not correct, He is mistaken in saying that the Government Tellers have been telling against the Government. The division which has just taken place was on the adjournment of the debate, and in voting against the adjournment we cannot be said to have been voting against our own Motion. I must repeat that the change of intentions on the part of the Government arose out of the debate. Charges of a personal character have been made, and while they remain, is it fair that the Committee should be appointed with three of the chief accusers as members?
§ LORD ROBERT CECIL
Now it is the right hon. Gentleman's turn to misrepresent facts. ["Oh!"] The statement of the hon. Member for Dundalk (Sir George Bowyer), on which the right hon. Gentleman professes to ground the sudden change of opinion and conduct on the part of the Government, was not made until after the noble Lord had announced his intention of supporting the Amendment. Notice was given of the Motion for this Committee last night, but it was not moved. It was put off. [SIR GEORGE GREY: For a reason assigned.] And then secretly notice of an Amendment was given by the hon. Member for Hull (Mr. Clay), but no notice was given for that summons of forces necessary on such occasions. The summons, however, took place on the other side ["No!"], although not on this. If the noble Lord perseveres in taking so unjust a course, I, for one, will do my utmost to resist it.
§ MR. DENMAN
said that, so far from there having been a summoning of forces, he was accidentally present when the Motion came on. On the first night on the debate upon this subject he thought the character of the House was deeply compromised: and he believed it would be still more compromised if it consented to the Committee containing three avowed accusers of the right hon. Gentleman.
§ MR. CLAY
observed, that the noble Lord the Member for Stamford had accused the Home Secretary of a misrepresentation of facts without adopting the ordinary courtesy of giving credit to the right hon. Baronet of not intending to misrepresent. The right hon. Gentleman did not say the 1001 opinion of the Government was changed by the speech of the hon. Baronet the Member for Dundalk. What he said was that it had been changed by the tone of the debate, and he referred to the speech of the hon. Baronet in illustration of that tone.
§ Question put, "That this House do HOW adjourn."
§ The House divided:—Ayes 32; Noes 62: Majority 30.
§ Question again proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question,"
§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
As it is evident that hon. Gentlemen opposite wish to keep us here, and as I am sure the decision of a much fuller House will confirm the opinion which the majority has expressed to-night, I shall not object to the adjournment of the debate.
§ Debate adjourned till Thursday.