Mr. Speaker, I have to inform the House that last evening, while passing Sunday in the country, I received a communication from Her Majesty to an effect which led me finally to abandon any expectation I may have had that, upon the present occasion, the party in Opposition would construct a Government to carry on the affairs of the country. At the same time, in reply to an inquiry from Her Majesty, I at once stated that I placed any services I could render at Her Majesty's disposal, and that I would take steps forthwith to proceed to consider, together with those who have been my Colleagues in the Cabinet, how far they were disposed to resume their offices, and at the same time to consider the state of public affairs and the business of this House after the events of last week. In the performance of this service I am at present engaged, and I trust the House will be disposed, therefore, to grant a short further adjournment. I propose that this adjournment shall be until Thursday next, in order that I may have time to acquit myself of the duty I have undertaken. I shall, therefore, with permission, move that the House at its rising do adjourn till Thursday next. With reference to the state of business immediately impending, I may say that there are several measures now upon the list for Thursday which are not of a political but are rather of a practical character, and with which, in case 1917 the Government should be successfully reconstituted at that time, it would probably be the desire of the House to proceed in order to avoid any unnecessary loss of time. These measures will stand upon the Paper, and hon. Members will have an opportunity of judging for themselves. I am sanguine in the belief that they will agree with me that they are such as the House will be disposed to facilitate in the events to which I refer. The first of them would be the Register for Parliamentary and Municipal Electors Bill, and the second would be the Railways and Canal Traffic Bill. Then there is an engagement into which I entered at the commencement of last week with several hon. Members, particularly with the hon. Member for Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate) and the hon. Member for West Norfolk (Mr. Bentinck), with regard to Motions of theirs which would, in the regular course, have stood on the Paper for discussion, together with the Motion of my hon. Friend the Member for London (Mr. Crawford), on Thursday last. The Motion of my hon. Friend is out of the question for the moment on account of the lapse of time within which he could make it; but we have a Bill coming before the House to enlarge the time and restore my lion. Friend to his original position and capacity for making that Motion. With regard to the two other lion. Members, if they are desirous to proceed with their Motions, and will communicate with us, we will endeavour to make a reasonable and convenient arrangement for that purpose. I now beg to move, Sir, that this House at its rising do adjourn till Thursday.
§ MR. DISRAELI
Mr. Speaker, after the statement of the right hon. Gentleman, though it might naturally be supposed that it would be agreeable to me to enter on explanations of my conduct with reference to recent events, I feel it my duty to sacrifice immediately any personal wish of this kind to what I believe is for the public advantage. Therefore I shall be silent. But I desire to make one remark upon an observation which has fallen from the right hon. Gentleman which might otherwise be liable to misconstruction. As I understood, the right hon. Gentleman referred to negotiations which were carried on with the Conservative party, as having terminated only 1918 yesterday. Now, I beg to state in a distinct manner that on Thursday last, when about to enter this House, I received Her Majesty's commands to attend upon Her Majesty. Having immediately obeyed, Her Majesty did me the honour of consulting me upon the subject of the Ministerial difficulty which had arisen. Her Majesty inquired of me whether I was prepared to form a Government. I then informed Her Majesty distinctly and decidedly, that I was quite prepared to form an Administration, which I believed would conduct Her Majesty's affairs efficiently and in a manner entitled to Her Majesty's confidence; but that I could not undertake to conduct the Government of the country in the present House of Commons. That was the information I gave distinctly and clearly to Her Majesty, and from the position I then took up, I have never for a moment faltered.
I wish to make no comment upon the statement of the right hon. Gentleman, but simply to say that in the few words I have just uttered I made reference to the proceedings that took place between Thursday last—the day of our resignation—and Sunday, simply for the purpose of stating that it was on Sunday last I received a communication from Her Majesty which led me to abandon the expectation that a Government would be formed by the right hon. Gentleman or his Friends opposite.
§ MR. CRAWFORD
asked the Vice President of the Council, whether he was prepared to take immediate steps to place him (Mr. Crawford) in a favourable position with regard to his Motion on the subject of Emanuel Hospital?
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
In answer to my hon. Friend, I beg to assure him that Her Majesty's Government will certainly adhere to the understanding they have arrived at in respect to my hon. Friend's Motion—namely, that he will be placed in the position in which he was last Tuesday, so far as that he will be enabled to take the opinion of the House in regard to the Emanuel Hospital scheme, and the schemes connected therewith. I intended to bring in the Bill this evening to enlarge the time from 40 days to four months. I find, however, I shall be unable to do so on account of the Adjournment of the House; but I shall be able to do so on 1919 Thursday next, and no step will be taken by the Government to prevent my hon. Friend doing so.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ House at rising to adjourn till Thursday.
I now move, Sir, that the Committees have leave to sit notwithstanding the adjournment of the House.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ Ordered, That all Committees have leave to sit, notwithstanding the adjournment of the House.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ House adjourned at a quarter before Five o'clock till Thursday.