HC Deb 11 July 1873 vol 217 cc207-9

addressing SPEAKER, said: Sir, I call your attention to the circumstance that strangers are in the House. I am quite ready to give my reasons for taking this course if you think it necessary that I should do so, but I have no desire to do so at the present moment.


Strangers must withdraw.

Those parts of the House to which Strangers were admitted were accordingly cleared by the officers of the House.

On Strangers being again admitted (at about half-past Two of the clock), the House was proceeding with the "QUESTIONS."

The following, which was published by The Times journal the following morning, is believed to be an accurate memorandum of what took place during the exclusion of Strangers.


rose and said, he presumed that the hon. Member for Galway, who had called the attention of the Speaker to the presence of Strangers, did not intend that the House should go on until the end of the Session without reports of their proceedings. He did not know the exact circumstances which had induced the hon. Member to take the course which he had adopted; but he felt that the rule under which it was possible to adopt that course was one that could only be maintained if used reasonably and for just cause, and he hoped that the eyes of his hon. Friend would not continue to be so sharp if Strangers should again be found in the House.


said, that with the permission of the House, he would very briefly state the reasons which had induced him to take the course he had done. Far from wishing to exclude Strangers or to prevent reports of the proceedings of the House, his only desire was that fair and reasonably accurate reports of their proceedings should appear, and it was because he and other Irish members believed that they were systematically ill-treated in this matter, that he had been driven to call attention to the rule of the House excluding Strangers. He never spoke in that House without feeling as though he was undergoing a painful operation, for he was sensible how much the views of Irish Members were out of harmony with the mind of the House; but he also felt very strongly the duty that was cast upon Irish representatives to be faithful to their convictions. Yesterday he had very reluctantly interposed in the discussion raised by the Prime Minister on the Judicature Bill to state the views of some portion of the Irish people on a matters peculiarly affecting them, and although he rose amid noise and interruptions which were not unusual, he believed that the House itself admitted that there was force and weight in his arguments. It was essential to justify his interference on that important occasion that he should state some important facts, and in his brief statement he had done so. Very likely some hon. Members might blame him and think it presumptuous to complain; but he would not be so foolish as to deny that he wished those who sent him and other Irish Members to the House to know what on very important matters was said on their behalf. The privilege of sending reporters to the Gallery was not for the private advantage of the proprietors of newspapers, but it carried with it an implied moral obligation that reasonably full reports should be given of what Members had said in intelligible language, and not that any class should be very imperfectly reported or be nearly excluded. Of course, he well knew that the first consideration was due to eminent Members on both sides of the House, and he asked for nothing unreasonable, but only for fair play; not so much to himself, as to Irish constituencies. He did not know what changes had occurred, but he did believe that the arrangements for reports were not what they ought to be, and, unless something was clone, he believed, with many Members, that assistance towards reports would have to be given by the House itself. Having said this, he did not wish to persevere in any course that was disagreeable to the House.


said, that as his hon. Friend had had the opportunity of stating his views, and of complaining as he had done, of some reports of proceedings that were not what he thought they ought to be, he presumed that he would be ready to give way to the general feeling of the House, and, indeed, he hoped it would be so, for if often resorted to it would not be possible to maintain the rule as to the exclusion of Strangers.


I desire to avail myself of the question raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Galway by reminding the House that I have in my own way endeavoured to attract attention to the same subject, and there can be no doubt that, so far as informing the public of what passes here, the present system of reports is open to the charge that they are in a high degree deceptive and calculated to mislead. From 12 to 1, 2, 3, or 4 o'clock most important business is frequently done, and as to which the public, while under the general impression that they know what passes in this House, are completely ignorant; and it was as to the form of words in which The Times, in common with the other papers, slurs over this—giving the impression that it is a report of our proceedings, while, in fact, no report whatever is given—that I called attention under the form of breach of Privilege. I entirely concur with the hon. Member in his suggestion, that if any report is given it should be correct and sufficiently full as not to mislead. On those subjects in which I take an interest it so happens that the gentlemen in the Gallery have had it imputed to many of them that the reports which they give may be given under a bias. The Weekly Register some time since boasted that the Metropolitan Press was now almost wholly under the control of Roman Catholics, who fill their offices, and especially the Reporters' Gallery, a very large and undue proportion of whom—I have heard it stated at four-fifths—are of that faith.

An hon. MEMBER rose to Order, and the SPEAKER ruled that it was not open to the hon. Member for Peterborough to continue that line of observation.

MR. SPEAKER then said, that after what had passed he felt that he was consulting the general wish of the House in directing that strangers should now be re-admitted.

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