HC Deb 19 April 1875 vol 223 cc1210-2

asked the honourable Member for Gravesend, Whether he has taken the usual steps to secure a day for bringing forward the Motion which stands in his name in the Order Book, reflecting on the professional character of the honourable Member for Pembroke; and, if not, why he has omitted to do so?


In reply, Sir, to the hon. Member for Gloucester (Mr. Monk), I beg to disclaim any intention of reflecting upon the professional character of the hon. Member for Pembroke. I have selected the earliest day on which I could bring on my Motion—Tuesday, the 11th May. I am not acquainted with the hon. Member for Pembroke, and have never spoken to him in my life. If, however, he will put himself in communication with me, I shall be happy if I can meet his convenience in regard to the time of bringing the Motion before the House. I may add that I should have brought the matter before the House directly after Easter had not my time, as hon. Members are aware, been fully occupied.


Sir, perhaps the House will allow me, as one who is interested in this subject, to say a few words in regard to it. ["Hear, hear!" and "Order."] I will conclude with a Motion, as hon. Gentlemen opposite are disinclined to listen to a personal explanation.—["No, no!"] I would not presume to think that the Motion was an attack upon myself, but for the high authority of the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty, that it was to be so considered; and while thanking the right hon. Gentleman for the way in which he answered the Question put to him, and the hon. Member for Gloucester (Mr. Monk) for having, without any communication with me, put the present Question, I must say that I have not felt any serious desire to have this question brought forward, and that for two or three reasons. In the first place, it is much easier to put a Question reflecting by imputation and inuendo upon the character of a Member of this House than it is to substantiate an attack by a speech which will satisfy this House that the attack is justified; but I have been willing to make great allowances for the hon. Member who has found himself suddenly placed in the position of being called upon to justify the imputation which his Question conveyed. In the next place, many circumstances may arise, after a Notice of this kind is given, to divert the attention of the giver of the Notice from the attack which he contemplates upon another person to the defence of his own position, and I am willing to make great allowance for those circumstances. And thirdly, I wish to be allowed to say, that whatever this Motion may be in the nature of an attack upon myself, it is also a Motion in the nature of an attack upon Her Majesty's Navy; and if it has any force whatever, it is calculated to spread anxiety in reference to Her Majesty's ships. The national guardians of the character of the Royal Navy in this country sit opposite, and as they have not thought the Notice of Motion was worthy of their attention, and have not taken the trouble to remove the imputations which it made upon Her Majesty's Navy, I have felt that I might freely pass by the imputations it conveyed upon myself in a like spirit. I will add, however, that I doubt whether it is to the credit of this House, that it should give countenance to individual Members making attacks upon other Members by the Forms of the House, allowing those attacks to remain upon the Notice Paper day after day and week after week, merely for the purpose of imputing charges without, as far as I can understand, coming forward to substantiate them. I would, therefore, venture to suggest that it would be better if hon. Members would defer making attacks until they are ready to substantiate them. I now beg to move the adjournment of the House.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.