§ MR. SAMUELSON
said, he would beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether it is true that a Mr. Conolly, who watched the proceedings before the Trades Union Commission on behalf of certain trades, has been forbidden by the Commissioners to continue his attendance; whether he committed any offence against the Commission; and, if so, what was the offence; and whether it is true that permission was offered to Conolly to continue his attendance on condition of his signing a document which had no reference to the business of the Commission?
§ MR. GATHORNE HARDY
said, the Commission had the absolute power of regulating the proceedings of their own tribunal, and of admitting or excluding what persons they pleased. They laid down that rule at the beginning of their sittings. He understood that the Commission had decided to exclude the person named in the Question from their sittings, on account of his having made a 1438 statement which they regarded as injurious to the character of the Commission.
I rise to Order, and I ask, Whether the hon. and learned Gentleman has a right to enter into personal explanations as to these proceedings?
§ MR. ROEBUCK
I was going, Sir, to throw myself on the indulgence of the House; and I believe from long experience of this House, it will not refuse to a Member, whose conduct has been called in question, permission to make a personal explanation, provided it be confined within those bounds of discretion which I hope I shall not overstep. I wish first of all to say that I feel very deeply the disgrace which has been brought upon my countrymen by the late exposures at Sheffield, and that my constituents also feel deeply hurt at what has occurred. This being so, I read a statement to this effect—A meeting of trades union delegates was held in the metropolis to declare their abhorrence of, and indignation at, the outrages which had taken place at Sheffield. During the discussion at that meeting a Mr. Conolly declared in indignant terms his utter abhorrence of what had taken place at Sheffield; but he went on to say—"But what can you expect from a town that returns Mr. Roebuck to Parliament?" [Laughter from the Opposition.] That, Sir, may be a thing to be laughed at; but I have lived a long life of honour, and have also lived too long to regard such manifestations. I felt that by an imputation of this sort this was said of my constituents: that if within their precincts murder, perjury, and robbery should take place, it was a thing naturally to be expected, seeing that they had given their confidence to a person who was so worthy to represent murder, perjury, and robbery as Mr. Roebuck. ["Oh!" and "Hear, hear!"] That, Sir, is the real meaning of this assertion. Well, what happened was this, I stated to the Commission what had occurred, and I said to them I was the judge of my own honour and of what was due to my self-respect; that they might declare and decide that this was no imputation upon me, and that Mr. Conolly was a person so important that he should be there; but that if they did I begged to take up my hat and withdraw from the Commission: for I never 1439 could sit in a room again with a man of that sort. It was partly with my sanction that he was there. Resenting this imputation and not wishing to slur over anything connected with these horrors, and desiring that there should be no extenuation of them, I determined not to sit in the same room with the man who accused me of being a fit representative of those who commit such deeds. I left the Commission to decide between two things—whether they would exclude Mr. Conolly, or whether I should withdraw. They excluded Mr. Conolly and I remained there.