THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
The subject, or rather the two subjects, to which I propose to call the attention of the House this evening has been brought on more than one occasion before its notice within a recent date; but the House has not considered it necessary to take any action in relation to the matter, probably for the reason that no great or serious practical inconvenience was found to have resulted from the existing state of things, and from the circumstance that this House is always unwilling to alter any of its Rules or Orders merely to meet a theoretical grievance as opposed to a practical grievance. During the present Session, however, incidents have occurred which have caused the House to be of opinion that both the subjects to which I propose to call attention are in a position which requires the further consideration of the House. The Resolutions which I have 49 placed upon the Paper deal, as the House will observe, with two points. The first Resolution deals with the question of the publication of the reports of our debates, and the last two Resolutions deal with the question of the exclusion of Strangers. As to the publication of our debates, the House has always entertained—or appears to have entertained—very considerable jealousy on the subject of the publication of any reports of its debates. The reason for that seems to have been that in the time of Charles I. and his Successors, very unpleasant consequences frequently ensued in consequence of words which were spoken by Members of this House. I do not think I could give a better account of the reasons which appear to have prompted this jealousy on the part of the House with regard to the publication of its debates than by reading a short extract from a speech which was made by Lord Campbell—a much greater authority than I can pretend to be—on the occasion of the introduction of a Bill which dealt, among other things, with the present subject. Lord Campbell, on the second reading of the Bill, said—The reason why the Orders prohibiting the publication of the debates had been passed by both Houses was this:—During the progress of the struggle between the Crown and the two Houses of Parliament every effort was made by the two Houses to prevent the Crown from exercising the illegal power which it had usurped of punishing Members for what they spoke in Parliament, and it was then that these Orders were made. Secrecy was then of great importance, because when the Crown heard that proceedings which it disapproved were going on in the House of Commons next morning, the Black Rod would knock at the door and summon the Commons to the Upper House, and Parliament was dissolved. Sometimes matters went further than this. Members were summoned before the Privy Council and examined as to their speeches, and if they could not give a satisfactory explanation they were sent to the Tower, there to pass their time until the prorogation. It was to prevent the Crown from getting notice of what was going on in Parliament that these Orders were made, and they were chiefly directed against the publication by Members of their own speeches. On the 13th of July, 1640—not to go further back—the Commons ordered that 'No Member shall either give a copy or publish in print anything that he shall speak here, without leave of the House;' and on the 22nd of March of the same year—' That all Members of the House are enjoined to deliver out no copy or notes of anything that is brought into the House, propounded or agitated in the House.' On the 28th of March, 1642, the Commons resolved that 'What person soever shall print or sell any Act or passages of 50 this House under the name of a diurnal or otherwise, without the particular licence of this House, shall be reputed a high contemner and breaker of the privilege of Parliament, and punished accordingly."—[3 Hansard, cxlix. 953.]Lord Campbell further stated—Until the year 1771 both Houses set their faces stedfastly against any publication of any part of their proceedings; but the Rule was violated by reports under fictitious names. There were reports, for instance, of the proceedings of the Parliaments of Lilliput and Utopia, in which the speeches of Bolingbroke and other great speakers of the reigns of Anne and the first two Georges were given under fictitious names. But there was great apprehension that the publisher of these might at any time be sent to prison. Since 1771, however, the Rules against the publication of reports had been relaxed, in consequence of a memorable crisis that then occurred, and of which an excellent account was given in Lord Mahon's history, when the House of Commons tried to enforce their order to prevent the publication of debates, and sent a messenger to arrest the publisher. But the messenger himself was arrested and sent to Giltspur Street Compter; and although the House of Commons sent the Lord Mayor and an Alderman to the Tower for contempt, the House was finally baffled, and from that time any person who pleased had published the debates in Parliament without fear."—[Ibid., 955.]I might enlarge on this subject. I might remind the House that the debates as to what took place during that protracted conflict of which Lord Campbell reports merely the conclusion are now only known to us through the agency of an hon. Member who happens to have been a relative of my own. Since the House entered into that memorable conflict with the printer of a newspaper and with Mr. Wilkes, these Orders that still remain have practically fallen into disuse. We have retained on our Journals Resolutions which declare it to be a breach of the Privileges of the House for any person to report our debates; yet we have in the construction of the House in which we now sit provided accommodation especially for the use of reporters, and the House unanimously considers at this day that the publication of our debates in the public journals is of great advantage not only to the public but also to themselves. It is a convenience to ourselves to be able at all times to refer to the admirable reports of our proceedings which are given in some of the papers; and I am sure we all agree in thinking that it is of the greatest possible public importance to have the proceedings of this House faithfully reported to the public out-of-doors, that the constituent- 51 cies may know what their Representatives are doing; and I believe we all concur in the opinion that the best polical education which the people of this country can have is to read accurate reports of the debates conducted within these walls. Well, if the House has retained those Orders on its Books, I conceive that it has done so with the object of retaining the power, if it should think necessary to use it, of punishing the publisher of any newspaper that should maliciously misrepresent the debates in Parliament, or commit any other offence with reference to the publication of Parliamentary proceedings. Since the conclusion of the contest to which I have referred, it has happened on more than one occasion that printers and publishers of newspapers have been summoned, or that a Motion has been made that they should be summoned, to the Bar of the House, nominally on account of Breach of Privilege committed by publishing debates, but really on account of wilful and malicious misrepresentation of what has passed here. Well, if this is the present position of affairs, it may be asked what practical object there is in proposing any alteration. Reporters are admitted within our walls, and the House is glad that its debates should be published, and only retains this power for exercise in the case of misrepresentation. Well, the practical object appears to me to be this. In the first place, the House, by its present Rules, may be placed at any time in a false position. It is in the power of any Member to call attention to the publication of our debates; and, as happened a very short time ago, the House being, perhaps, somewhat taken by surprise, may have no alternative but to affirm the principle that the publication of the debates, which the House at all times considers to be a useful and salutary proceeding, is a breach of its Privileges. There is another practical object that can be attained. In case of it being necessary to take proceedings against the publisher of a newspaper for wilful misrepresentation, it seems to me to be of the highest importance that in a case where a conflict may occur between this House and the Press or as has occurred before now with Courts of Law—that this House should occupy a perfectly clear and logical position, and should not be placed in the condition of assuming to prosecute 52 the printer or the publisher for a Breach of Privilege, when what the House really complains of is not the publication but a misrepresentation of its proceedings. A further question may then be asked why, if any alteration is to be made, I do not repeal the Orders referred to in Lord Campbell's speech, and change our definition of the word Privilege? Well, my answer to that is this. I am perfectly well aware the House would regard with very great jealousy any proposal to modify in any respect the Privileges which have been maintained by its predecessors, and which it still maintains itself; and, further, that this being a question which we desire to keep in our own hands, and to deal with as a matter of Privilege, and not as a matter of law, it is impossible for the House to create new Privileges. It will be far easier for us to deal with questions which may possibly arise, and which we cannot altogether foresee, upon the Privileges obtained for us by our predecessors, and which we still assert, than to abandon them and attempt to create new Privileges. The Resolution, therefore, which I have to propose does not, in the least, trench on the Privilege which the House has asserted for such a length of time, and which we still maintain. It is rather a rule for the guidance of the House than an alteration of the law as affecting the relations between Parliament and the Press. The Resolution which I have to propose amply preserves the power of the House to deal with any misrepresentation, or other offence against the Privileges of the House. When I placed the Notice on the Paper, I had some doubt that the terms of the Resolution were almost wider than the occasion requires. The Resolution is to the effect—That this House will not entertain any complaint, in respect of the publication of the Debates or Proceedings of the House, or of any Committee thereof, except when any such Debates or Proceedings shall have been conducted with closed doors, or when such publication shall have been expressly prohibited by the House, or by any Committee, or in case of wilful misrepresentation, or other offence in relation to such publication.Well, these words are certainly wide; but I must say I have seen with some satisfaction that they have generally been accepted by the Press as affording a reasonable and satisfactory solution of the difficulties which have occurred, or 53 which might occur; and I do not think, on consideration, the House will be of opinion that they are wider than the occasion requires. It is impossible to foresee all the cases that may arise; but if the form which the reports of our proceedings have assumed be persevered in it is quite possible the House might wish to interpose some check on the mode of reporting adopted by some of the public papers. Unfortunately, as I think, several newspapers of the day have recently greatly restricted their formal reports of the debates in Parliament, but indulged to a very considerable extent in a somewhat sensational description of the proceedings of the House. I have never, however, seen any account of those proceedings to which I could for a moment suppose the House would desire to take exception; but still it is possible that this system might be developed to such an extent as might tend to bring the House into contempt, when it would be necessary for the House to take notice of them; and, therefore, I think that the words I have proposed, if the House is willing to restrict the Privilege by Resolution, are not too wide to meet the occasion. I have said my Resolution is rather a rule to guide our own proceedings than to establish a different law in relation to the papers. The benefit I think the House would derive from such a rule would be that it would be saved being placed in a false position, such as I think it occupied the other day on the Motion of the hon. and learned Member for Londonderry (Mr. C. Lewis), when it passed a Resolution that the printers of two newspapers had committed a breach of Privilege in reporting the proceedings of a Committee, the proceedings of that Committee having been held with open doors, and it being perfectly well known to the Members of the Committee and the House, that the proceedings were being reported by the Press. The House, it appears to me, has shown somewhat greater jealousy about the publication of the proceedings of Committees since 1771 than in regard to the publication of its own proceedings. Within recent years the House passed a Resolution that the publication of the proceedings or the Report of a Committee before it was presented to the House was a breach of Privilege; and it is perfectly conceivable that such a proceeding might be, on the ground of public convenience, 54 extremely objectionable, and I think that the Resolution I propose will meet this case also. It cannot be expected that the proceedings of Committees will be kept out of the newspapers, unless the Committees determine to sit with closed doors, or unless it is determined in particular cases that particular answers given by the witnesses shall not be reported. This case is entirely met by the Resolution I propose, and I think Committees and the House will retain all the authority over the publication of their proceedings which may seem necessary. The second point to which my Resolutions refer is the exclusion of Strangers. Up to a very recent date the Orders of the House have been as peremptory in relation to the exclusion of Strangers as they have been in relation to the publication of its debates. In the speech of Lord Campbell, to which I have referred, he gives an account of our proceedings in that respect. He says—Until 1845 there were positive orders of the House of Commons against the admission of strangers:—'Ordered, that the Serjeant-at-Arms attending this House do from time to time take into his custody any stranger whom he may see, or who may be reported to him to be, in any part of the House or galleries.' It was forbidden to any stranger to come into any part of the House or gallery belonging to the House. It was also ordered 'that no Member of this House do presume to bring any stranger into any part of the House or galleries.' "—[3 Hansard, cxlix. 955–6.]In 1844 a Motion was made by Mr. Christie for a Committee to inquire into the matters to which I have now called the attention of the House. That Motion was negatived; but the discussion which took place was not without some result, because in the next year both Orders to which I have referred were modified by the House, and they now stand in this shape—That the Serjeant-at-Arms attending this House do from time to time take into his custody any stranger whom he may see, or who may be reported to him to be in any part of the House or gallery appropriated to the Members of this House.That no Member of this House do presume to bring any stranger into any part of the House or gallery appropriated to the Members of this House while the House or a Committee of the Whole House is sitting."—[Ibid. 956.]By that Order, and by the accommodation which has been provided for reporters, we practically recognize the presence of Strangers during our de- 55 bates; but though practically recognizing the presence of Strangers during our debates, we have, as the House is aware, retained without alteration the former usage—for I believe it is a usage, and not a Rule of the House—under which the Speaker is obliged to order that Strangers shall be excluded as soon as any single Member takes notice of their presence. This is a power which has been used and inconveniently exercised on several occasions in recent times. In the year 1849 Mr. John O'Connell more than once made use of the power of excluding Strangers—on account, I believe, of the opinion which he entertained that his speeches were inadequately reported. That led to the appointment of a Committee. That Committee does not appear to have taken evidence; at all events, no report of evidence is preserved; but it came to the conclusion that there was no adequate necessity for the alteration of the Rule, and nothing was done in consequence. I presume they came to that conclusion believing that no other Member of the House was likely to exercise the Privilege of the House in the inconvenient manner in which Mr. John O'Connell had done. I am not aware that the power was exercised again for a considerable number of years; but in 1870 it was used for a different purpose by the hon. and learned Member for Ayr (Mr. Craufurd). A debate of a particular character came on in the House, and the hon. and learned Member for Ayr—not capriciously, but for an object—proposed that Strangers should be excluded from the Gallery. That poposition, owing to the peculiar nature of the regulations of the House, could not be debated, and what may have been the opinion of the majority of the House I do not know; but having taken notice of the presence of Strangers, it was in the power of the hon. and learned Member for Ayr to exclude, and he did exclude, Strangers from that particular debate. The subject was then brought to the notice of the House by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley.) He particularly objected to the occasion on which the power was used, and called on the Government of the day to appoint a Committee, or take other steps, by means of which the question might be placed on a more satisfactory footing. My right hon. Friend 56 the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Gladstone), then at the head of the Government, stated that, if it were the wish of the House that a Committee should be appointed, he had no objection to the appointment of such a Committee; but he did not seem then to consider that it would be necessary that any steps should be taken. A Committee was subsequently appointed to consider several questions affecting the business of the House, of which my right hon. Friend the Member for the University of London (Mr. Lowe) was Chairman. That Committee passed a Resolution—I believe only by a narrow majority—to the effect that the existing rule ought to be altered, and that Strangers should not be excluded, except on the Question put and agreed to without Amendment or debate. My right hon. Friend, as Chairman of that Committee, moved a Resolution to that effect in this House. Two objections appear to have been taken to that proposal. In the first place, it was necessary in cases of disorder or disturbance of any kind, the House should retain its power of summarily excluding Strangers. It was argued that every other Assembly except our own had, at some time or other, more or less been disturbed in its proceedings by strangers in the galleries, and that, as it was impossible to know what might occur in our own House, it was essential that some summary mode of removing strangers should be retained in case of necessity. The second objection was that the power of exclusion, as proposed by the Committee, might be used for the purpose of delaying a debate. I admit there is considerable weight in both objections, and I venture to think the proposals I have placed on the Table have some advantages over those moved by my right hon. Friend. In the first place, I think that the power of excluding strangers in cases of disturbance and disorder may very advantageously be left in the hands of the right hon. Gentleman who does now, and we must assume in all cases will, possess the complete and entire confidence of the House—that it might be left in the hands of the Speaker to give directions to the Serjeant-at-Arms, in case of disturbance of any kind whatever, to take what measures may appear to him necessary to preserve the order, tranquillity, and quiet of our proceedings. The only objection I can conceive to my Resolu- 57 tion is that already the right hon. Gentleman has the power to take what measures may be necessary for that purpose. But, the power of excluding Strangers being in the hands of any single Member, there could be only very rare occasions for the exercise of that power by the Speaker. I therefore do not think it superfluous when the circumstances are somewhat altered, that the right hon. Gentleman should have the power to direct the officers of this House to take such steps as may be necessary for the preservation of order. As for the objection that the employment of this power may be used for purposes of delay, I cannot think there is much in it. Our Forms already give ample opportunity of delay if a Member or a minority of Members are disposed to take advantage of them for that purpose, and we therefore rely more on the good sense and good feeling of hon. Members than upon positive enactment to prevent our proceedings from being unnecessarily delayed. Nevertheless, if the House should be of opinion that the Resolutions which I propose might be abused, I should be perfectly willing to defer to the opinion of the House; and if it thinks fit to adopt the Amendment of the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Mr. Beresford Hope), that this power should be used only once in the course of a Sitting, I shall not be disposed very seriously to object. It seems to me, however, that to restrict the use of this power to one occasion during a Sitting of this House might possibly lead to inconvenience. I would suggest to the hon. Member it might be better to propose that the Motion to exclude Strangers should not be made more than once during the progress of the same debate. [Mr. BERESFORD HOPE intimated that that was his proposal.] If the hon. Member should think that proposition an improvement, I would make no objection. There is another point in which I have somewhat departed from the recommendation of the Committee. The Committee recommended that in all cases when it was proposed that Strangers should be excluded the question should be decided without Amendment or debate. That does not seem to me altogether a proper Resolution. If the necessity for the exclusion of Strangers can be seen beforehand it appears unreasonable that the Member who proposes it 58 should not have an opportunity of stating his reasons, and that the House should not have an opportunity of debating it. I need refer only to the occasion to which I have before alluded, when the late Member for Ayr (Mr. Craufurd) proposed to exclude Strangers. It seems to me that the House would consider it perfectly reasonable that any Member who thought it for the public interest or for the interest of morality and decency that Strangers should be excluded should have an opportunity of stating his reasons, and that there should be debate upon it. But if, on the contrary, the question arises suddenly, then I should think it would be unreasonable that the Business before the House should be delayed by discussions. I have now, before I sit down, only to refer to the Amendments of these Resolutions which have been put on the Paper. As to the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Galway (Mr. Mitchell Henry), I can see no reason why the House should delay its decision upon the two questions referred to until another Committee has been appointed. As I have already shown, this question has been already considered by two Committees, and the results arrived at from their deliberations have not been so encouraging, I think, as to induce the House to consent to the appointment of another Committee. I understand the object of my hon. Friend to be that a Committee should consider the question of what are known as official reports. That, no doubt, is a question which may very well receive the attention of the House; but it is not directly or immediately connected with the subject I have brought before it. There are certain inconveniences to be removed, with which the Resolutions I have placed on the Paper deal, and I do not see that it is in the least necessary to mix these questions with the consideration of the very different one of official reporting. I have a very strong opinion myself upon the subject, and when the occasion arises I shall ask leave to state why I am strongly opposed to a system of official reporting. However, that is a subject which it is perfectly competent for my hon. Friend to bring before the House whenever he pleases, and to move for a Committee; but the question which I submit ought not to be delayed until a Committee be appointed to report on an entirely dif- 59 ferent subject. Then as to the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Salford (Mr. Charley). I do not see that it any way differs in principle from what I propose. I naturally prefer the form adopted in my Resolutions; but if the hon. and learned Member can show there is any advantage in the form which he has chosen, I should of course submit to the judgment of the House. I think the first of his Resolutions is objectionable for a reason I have already stated. I do not think it desirable that we should rescind any of our Rules which relate to Privilege. The Privileges which we possess have been established by the unbroken practice of centuries; and though it is easy to get rid of a Privilege, it is impossible for us to restore it when once it is given up. There is, however, one suggestion in the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Salford, which I shall be glad to adopt in the Resolutions I propose. The Chairman of Committee of the Whole House for the time being ought to have the same power as to the preservation of order and the exclusion of Strangers as the Speaker when the House is out of Committee. I have already stated that if the House should consider it necessary, I should not resist the adoption of a part of the Amendment to be proposed by the hon. Member for the University of Cambridge. I will not trouble the House any further. Hoping that the House will excuse me for the lengthened time I have occupied in the consideration of this important subject, and convinced of the extreme desirability of setting these somewhat troublesome and vexatious questions at rest, I humbly submit the Resolutions which I have placed on the Paper. The noble Marquess concluded by moving the first Resolution.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That this House will not entertain any complaint, in respect of the publication of the Debates or Proceedings of the House, or of any Committee thereof, except when any such Debates or Proceedings shall have been conducted with closed doors, or when such publication shall have been expressly prohibited by the House, or by any Committee, or in case of wilful misrepresentation, or other offence in relation to such publication."—(The Marquess of Hartington.)
§ MR. MITCHELL HENRY
said, the Amendment he had placed on the Paper 60 indicated the view which he thought ought to be carefully pressed on the House before it altered those fundamental privileges which had belonged to it from time immemorial. It indicated that they ought not to do in haste that which they might have to repent at leisure. There was a saying that hard cases made bad law, and this House itself had had experience of the fact that legislation under circumstances of temporary excitement sometimes led to inconvenient results. He would not refer at length to what had occurred in the present Session; but he thought there were few Members of the House who did not believe that if more time had been given for consideration, some of the Re-solutions of the House this Session would not have been taken—he referred especially to the Motion of the hon. and learned Member for Londonderry (Mr. C. Lewis). It surely was essential that the House should not legislate on an important subject of this kind under the influence of panic. All he now asked the House to do was to pause for a moment, and consider if it had before it all the information which it ought to have in its possession in reference to those two important subjects—the Exclusion of Strangers and the reporting of the Debates. These two subjects were not necessarily connected with each other; but in the practice of the House they had a most intimate connection. The fact was that the power to exclude Strangers had necessarily excluded the reports of debates for many years. Gradually there had been a relaxation in the practice, so far as the presence of Strangers was concerned, and there was now a quasi-legal sanction of the reports of the proceedings of the House. But the right to exclude Strangers had done more to preserve the liberties of the subject in this country than any other measure. Without, therefore, offering any opinion at that moment as to whether the rule ought to be relaxed or altogether abrogated—on which subject possibly he had an opinion in accordance with that of the noble Marquess—he held that it would not be becoming in the House, suddenly and in consequence of what had taken place of late years, without adequate consideration, to make fundamental alterations in the laws of Parliament. What had occurred? His hon. and learned Friend the Member 61 for Londonderry, in the exercise of his undoubted right, brought under the notice of the House certain circumstances that occurred in a Committee upstairs, and called upon the House to come to an immediate decision upon the question. The House did so; and the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister supported the Motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman to call the printers of certain newspapers to the Bar of the House. A little reflection, however, showed the right hon. Gentleman that it would be much better to take another course, and the result was that the printers in question were not called to the Bar of the House. This induced his hon. Friend the Member for Louth (Mr. Sullivan) to exercise the privilege which pertained to every Member of the House, and for the purpose in reality not of excluding Strangers, but of securing protection to those who reported the proceedings of the House, he directed attention to the presence of Strangers, and Mr. Speaker, having no option in the matter, Strangers were ordered to withdraw accordingly. The noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition then showed a desire to take up the subject, which had been in the minds of hon. Members for years past, but which no one had ever taken up in a serious spirit on account of the great difficulties attending it; and his hon. Friend the Member for Louth said at once that he would cease from putting his privilege in force in any manner that might be considered vexatious by the House. His hon. Friend the Member for Cavan (Mr. Biggar) next, thinking that the threat—if he might use the term—of his hon. Friend the Member for Louth to repeat his Motion constantly had been dropped without adequate consideration, made a Motion for the exclusion of Strangers. The Motion was made at an inconvenient time, and very much against the feeling and spirit of the House. His hon. Friend the Member for Cavan had not repeated the Motion, and he (Mr. Mitchell Henry) thought he was able to say that, if this subject were really considered by the House, it was not his intention to do so. What did this show? It showed that for the preservation of the liberty of debate, and of the other privileges which were greater in the English House of Commons than in any other Assembly in the world, they 62 must depend upon the good feeling of Members. The hon. Member for Cavan came from the North of Ireland. He belonged to that body of Protestants who were rightly considered to have a share of the virtue of persistency amounting, perhaps, sometimes to a suspicion of a shade of obstinacy; but the privileges of Englishmen had repeatedly been preserved by the exhibition of those very qualities of which they now complained. Nobody could deny that in Parliament, as elsewhere, individuals did sometimes trench upon the privileges with which they were entrusted as Members of that Assembly to an extent which a wider experience would not justify; but he doubted very much whether there was a single example in the history of Parliament of an individual entering the House of Commons, with no matter what prejudices against the House, who did not in the course of a very short time conform himself to the manners and customs of the House; and he did not believe that any hon. Gentleman would deny that a spirit of fair play governed their proceedings. It was that circumstance which had enabled them to preserve the liberties they enjoyed. Repeatedly Motions were made for the purpose of delay, both by individual Members and by Parties, and when the position of the two Parties in the House was reversed, he had frequently been in the division lobby until daylight was streaming through the windows. Under what circumstances? Because hon. Gentlemen opposite thought it their duty to offer all the opposition in their power to such questions as the abolition of Army Purchase. A few years ago, also, the right hon. Gentleman lately at the head of the Government, feeling very strongly in reference to the Divorce and Matrimonial Causes Bill, thought it right, in the discharge of his duty—as might be seen, on reference to Hansard—to make up wards of 70 speeches, many of them long ones, in the course of the few weeks which elapsed during the progress of that measure. Were there any complaints of factious opposition at that time? Why, the very life of Parliament depended on factious opposition. It was repeatedly asked that they should adopt the practice which was followed in the French Assembly for limiting the time of debate by voting 63 the clôture; but the House had had the good sense not to adopt any such restrictions, and he appealed to the House whether that liberty had been so abused as to become license;—whether, indeed, it had not preserved the life of Parliament, and in reality been used in conformity with the institutions and genius of the English people? In the American Congress they had adopted a rule, which was called the Five Minutes Rule. There, no Member was permitted to speak longer than one hour in introducing a measure, nor more than five minutes when the House was in Committee. This limitation was the result of not putting confidence in the good sense and good feeling of the Members, and he should strongly deprecate its adoption in this country. ["Question!"] All these limitations on the privileges of the House had been advocated on former occasions, in consequence of the privileges having been put into inconvenient action on particular questions. ["Question!"] He was about to show that although the exclusion of Strangers might be productive of inconvenience, other limitations on Parliamentary liberty elsewhere had resulted in great inconvenience, and he was asking the House to pause before consenting to limit its own privileges. He submitted, therefore, that what he was saying now was perfectly in Order. He contended, then, that it was not advisable, under the circumstances which had been brought before them suddenly, to alter the Rules of the House in reference to anything that had recently occurred in the House. Why was it that strangers were originally excluded from the House? He was not going to detain the House by reading extracts from constitutional histories on the subject; but everybody knew, or ought to know, that the jealousy which Parliament had shown at the presence of strangers was in consequence of the constitutional battle which the House of Commons fought against the Stuart Kings. They knew that at that time the King used to limit the subjects on which Parliament was to be allowed to speak its mind; and if anything was said that was disagreeable to the King, strong measures were the result. James I tore out pages from the Journals of the House, and Charles I went so far as to endeavour to seize five of its Members. 64 No wonder, then, that the House of Commons, which required to deliberate without fear as to what the Crown might do, should have been extremely jealous of its power to prevent the publication of its debates, and consequently of the presence of Strangers. But the battle had been fought out many years ago; they were not now afraid of the interference of the Crown, and did not maintain the privilege which their ancestors had handed down to them on any such ground as that. There were other reasons, however, why they ought to preserve their privileges; but before going into that, he would say that there was this objection to the Resolutions of the noble Marquess—that the privilege to exclude Strangers did not belong to the House of Commons alone. It was a privilege of Parliament, and all their privileges were privileges dependent upon the action of Parliament—that was, both Houses of Parliament, confirmed by the Sovereign; and he held that it would not be a seemly thing to make a fundamental alteration in that privilege without some conference with the other House of Parliament. The other House had a right to know something of the proceedings of the House of Commons in this matter. He did not deny, indeed, that this House possessed the right of deciding how it would exercise its privilege; but it could not create a new privilege, and it did not possess one which was not equally shared by the other House of Parliament. That view of the question might or might not commend itself to the approval of hon. Gentlemen; but, at any rate, it commended itself to considerable constitutional authorities, and that was another reason why the House should pause.
He now came to another matter which was intimately mixed up with this—that was, the reports of their debates. If he excepted Mr. Craufurd's Motion two or three Sessions ago, the privilege of excluding Strangers had not been exercised in modern times save for the purpose of insuring adequate and correct reports of the debates. In every instance in which it was proposed to exclude Strangers, including, of course, the reporters, it had been made because individual Members thought they had a right to complain of the reports of their speeches. Was there any foundation for that? In former times, there was nothing for which the 65 public had so great an appetite as the reports of the proceedings of Parliament. Those were the days when questions of Constitutional Law or great reforms in the customs of this country were under consideration. At the close of the last century the greatest efforts were made, in spite of perils, to give the public reports of the proceedings of the House of Commons. The Times, The Morning Chronicle, The Morning Herald, and other newspapers, established their reputations in very great measure by the fullness and accuracy with which they reported Parliamentary debates. Lord Campbell, Charles Dickens, and a great many other distinguished men had been Parliamentary reporters, and though he did not mean for a moment to say that there were not equally distinguished persons now engaged in that occupation, yet he certainly must state that, as a general rule, the reports of the debates had entirely changed in their character. The leading journal, The Times, gave very full reports, and so did one other morning paper. The other papers, however, rightly considering that they ought not to occupy space, which to them was money, with matter which would not be generally interesting to the public, cut down the debates to the very smallest dimensions. Moreover, there had crept into the House of Commons the practice of sensational reporting. Sketches of what occurred, or of what was supposed to have occurred, were given to the public. The appearance of Members and their manners were described, although, God knew! Gentlemen who worked till 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning might be excused if sometimes they were a little ungainly in their manners. These matters were, however, made the subjects of sensational sketches. [An hon. MEMBER: Caricatures.] Yes, caricatures, as his right hon. Friend observed. He did not object to this for a moment; but he asked the House of Commons to consider the position in which it was placed. When the Corn Laws were in debate, one of the strongest complaints made by Mr. Cobden was that the arguments of those who spoke on his side of the question were never fairly put before the public, and he complained as much of The Times as of any other newspaper. He said that the arguments of those who opposed Free Trade were put fully before the public, 66 whilst those which were in its favour were condensed to the utmost. It was even in contemplation to try to prevent such things as summaries of the debates in which the arguments were placed so much on one side, whilst the reply was almost suppressed. This was one of the strongest arguments for the "freedom of literature" as it was called, and the repeal of the duty on paper. It was then said—"If you establish a cheap Press, you will have full and accurate reports of the debates in Parliament. Those reports will be diffused throughout the length and breadth of the land, and people who read the arguments on one side will then have an opportunity of reading those on the other." The very reverse had happened. Owing to the great extension of telegraphic enterprize; to the rapidity with which everything was done now-a-days; to the short time people had at their disposal; and to the appetite which of late years had been created for sensational writing, the reports of the debates in Parliament were, with very few exceptions, most farcical, and, as he thought, not altogether creditable to the taste of the people of England. The newspapers, which were multiplying everywhere, and doing so much good, gave condensed reports of what took place in Parliament; not in the shape of reports, however, but as sensational sketches. People in the country received these reports in the morning in their local newspapers, through the medium of the telegraph. Those paragraphs satisfied their appetite for political information; the consequence was, that they never referred to the debates which took place in this House, never read the other side of the question, and thus their views were altogether warped on great public questions. Perhaps some hon. Members might say this was an evil which corrected itself, and might ask—"Do you mean to assert that we ought to publish our reports in order to educate the people?" Well, he meant to say that the expectations of those who instituted the cheap Press in the hope of widely diffusing political information, founded on the debates of this House, had been disappointed. He meant to say that the cheap Press of this country did not give to the people those full reports of the debates in Parliament which it was expected they would do when the 67 Press laws were reformed. He had made this matter the subject of very-careful inquiry, because he regarded it in a serious light, and he had not made these observations in any spirit of hostility to the Press; but the House of Commons ought to know what it was going to do before it proceeded to legislate on the question, and he thought the statements which he had made, and which, if the House would bear with him, he would yet make, were worthy of being inquired into by a Select Committee of the House. Of late years there had sprung up a system of Telegraphic Press Agencies. Two of these agencies had seats among the reporters of the proceedings of this House: one was the Central Press; the other the Press Association. "What happened?—and here he begged the attention of the House to what he was going to say. Both these extensive organizations had their own reporters, who wrote out in manifold, and telegraphed to different provincial newspapers the reports of the debates of the House. The Central News—another association—had a list of hon. Members whose speeches were to be carefully and accurately reported. [Sir HENRY JAMES: Name!] The lists of the Associations extended to upwards of 200 Members of the House, whose speeches were to be telegraphed at full length to various provincial newspapers; and he did not complain of that; but he would observe that a speech made by an hon. Member would appear at full length in the local paper which was the organ of his views, and with which he was en rapport, whilst the speech of the Prime Minister on the same subject would be compressed into the smallest possible space. Thus the people of England got very imperfect political information. Some surprising things had occurred of late in connection with the return of a particular Member to this House; and he verily believed that the working men of Stoke, and others who had petitioned the House in a certain notorious case, were influenced in the conduct they had pursued by the fact of their political information upon many subjects being altogether one-sided. He had no doubt, however, that hon. Members had read the articles which had appeared in the newspapers—and especially in The Spectator—upon the subject, or could imagine for themselves 68 what was the constitutional argument respecting it. But he came now to another point. The Reporters' Gallery was occupied exclusively by the representatives of the London Press, and the London Press had changed its views with regard to the debates of the House. Two or three of the London daily newspapers gave very full and accurate reports of the debates; the others found it was better for their own interest—and no doubt they thought conscientiously that it was for the interest of the public also—to compress their reports into the very smallest dimensions, and to substitute personal sketches for full reports of the arguments which were used. But he contended that as long as the dimensions of the Reporters' Gallery were restricted, and as long as the Provincial Press was prevented from coming into that Gallery, a responsibility was imposed upon those who enjoyed the privilege of entrance into the Gallery which carried with it a very sacred obligation. If the House of Commons adopted the principle that reports of the debates were to be carried on in the interest of newspapers, he would not object in the smallest degree, because he thought it was the only true principle; but if that principle were adopted, it would necessitate something else—namely, an authentic record of what occurred in that House for the information of its Members. Theirs was perhaps the only Assembly in the world which had not something in the shape of an official record of its debates and proceedings; and it was a matter of pride and boast with them that the Parliament of England had, with the aid of the Press, for so many years achieved that which other countries had only been able to accomplish through the assistance of their Governments. A great many persons believed that Hansard's Debates were a kind of official record of the proceedings of that House. He was quite certain that that was the impression out-of-doors, and he believed it to be the impression of a great number of Members of that House. Now, Hansard's Debates originated in the year 1803, and through the enterprize of a son of the late Mr. Luke Hansard, who had been so long connected with the printing of the House, these Debates had supplied Parliament with a very accurate record of its proceedings. They were cited continually in the House, and so great 69 was their reputation that even in Prussia they had a Preussiches Hansard; there was also a Hansard's Debates both in Canada and Australia. But was the House aware that the private enterprize in this country known as Hansard's Debates had not a single reporter in the Gallery of the House? Hansard's Debates were made up in this way:—The best report that could be obtained from a newspaper of a Member's speech was taken by the able proprietor. He carefully collated it with the reports in other newspapers, printed it, and sent it to the Member who delivered the speech for correction. Hon. Members who valued what they said—and every body ought to speak with deliberation in that House—having given thought beforehand to the subject under discussion, would take the pains to correct those reports, where necessary, and return them to the proprietor of Hansard, who would then publish them. But it was well known that these Debates were carried on for many years at an actual loss to the proprietor, and at the present moment he understood—and he was stating nothing that he was not entitled to state—the remuneration derived from them was not such as would induce anybody to continue Hansard's Debates unless he were imbued with that esprit which was so characteristic of Englishmen—the desire of a man who had inherited a reputation for a great work from his father and grandfather to carry on that work, though almost at a loss. Now, the House of Commons subscribed for 120 copies of Hansard's Parliamentary Debates; and that was all the assistance which it gave to that publication. Suppose, then, that these Debates came to an end to-morrow; suppose the present proprietor, who derived so little pecuniary emolument from them, but certainly in the opinion of this and foreign countries a great amount of honour for his laborious and patriotic enterprize; suppose that honourable gentleman were to discontinue the publication of the Debates, or if he paid the debt of nature, and they were not continued by some one else, in what position would the House of Commons then be placed? Where would they have any authentic record of the proceedings of the House so far as debate and argument were concerned? They could not bring in and cite 70 the reports of newspapers, because there was a Standing Order against it. True, they might suspend the Standing Order; but the newspapers would not supply them with the materials which were now contained in Hansard. It was impossible that the newspapers could report the proceedings of the House at sufficient length. ["Divide!"] He presumed that the Gentlemen who cried "Divide!" subscribed to the Press Associations, and he commended them for it; but he was stating facts which he had laboriously and carefully collected, and he thought it was hardly becoming in hon. Members to endeavour to silence him at that early hour. Well, if these Debates came to an end, the question would be brought to a crisis, and they would be obliged to find a substitute. He had referred to various points which he thought might with propriety be inquired into by a Committee. He did not offer a complete plan to the House; but he would briefly indicate what he considered might be very fairly done. He was of opinion that private enterprize should be left exactly where it was, and that the debates and proceedings of the House ought to be free to the newspapers to report at as great length or as shortly as they pleased; but he thought they ought also to have—and that the time had come when it was essential that they should have—a distinct official record of their proceedings. The House might be deterred from entering into that question from a fear of the expense which it would involve. Now, in the United States of America they had a Congressional Record which cost an enormous sum. Congress distributed not less than 13,000 copies amongst its own Members, and the expense was very recently upwards of £50,000 a-year. But if the House of Commons desired to have official and authentic reports of the debates for itself, it would be quite feasible to obtain them in this simple manner:—One reporter, sitting somewhere in the House, could take down everything that occurred in the course of debate, just as fully and accurately as the proceedings before Committees were taken down. The shorthand notes would be taken away and transcribed by assistants, as was now done in Committees, and next morning there might be placed on the Table of the House an exact record, in manuscript, of everything that had taken** 71 place of a public nature, exactly as the Journals of the House were now placed on the Table; or, if it were thought desirable to have it in print, it might be printed at a small expense. He had made inquiries on the subject, and believed he was within the mark when he said that £8,000 or £9,000 a-year would be sufficient for supplying accurate records of the debates and proceedings of the House, and giving every Member of the House a volume of the Debates at the end of each Session; and that record might be sent to every hon. Member just as early as were the reports published by the newspapers. If that were done, he believed that the newspapers themselves would take their reports from that accurate official record, and would subscribe to the expense of it; for the House must know that the newspapers did not value the privilege of reporting its debates. ["Oh!"] He repeated, and he had it upon the highest authority, that the newspapers themselves did not value the privilege of reporting the debates of that House. ["Oh!" and "Divide!"] They said that it did not pay; that the public desired to have some other kind of information, and that they must find what the public wished to have. Therefore, it was quite possible, it had even been threatened by newspaper proprietors, that they might agree to cease reporting the debates. The House must not then go on upon the supposition that the liberty of reporting its debates was a privilege that was greatly valued by the newspapers on account of any pecuniary advantage which it gave them; and he thought that the public were greatly indebted to those public-spirited proprietors who did in some instances continue the publication of accurate reports. That remark, however, applied to two or three of the leading journals only: it did not apply to the cheap Press generally, and the cheap Press did not desire that it should apply to them. They did not think it their duty to give full and accurate reports; they did not profess to do so, because it did not pay. He had shown clearly—["No, no!"]—he had shown clearly—["No!"]—well, he had endeavoured to show clearly, that the whole conditions of reporting had changed; and if the conditions of reporting had changed, he was of opinion that the House of Commons ought to inquire carefully into the matter. 72 With that object, what harm could the appointment of a Select Committee do? Such a Committee, if it made careful inquiries, would collect information that would guide the House in arriving at accurate conclusions. If they considered that no change was necessary, the House could but allow the thing to go on as it did at present. If, on the contrary, they recommended that a change should be made, the House would at any rate be in a position to decide with full information before it. ["Divide!"] Of course, the 200 Gentlemen who were certain of having their speeches reported in their local newspapers were quite entitled to cry "Divide!" when this important subject was under consideration; but there was something more concerned than placing the reports of those hon. Members before their constituents, and that was the supplying of political information to the country, the diffusion of which had hitherto tended so much to the prosperity of this Kingdom. He had shown, at least, that the conditions of reporting had changed, and he contended that until the reports of the debates and proceedings of the House were placed on some definite footing, it was absolutely essential that the power should be left in the hands of individual Members of exercising some control over the reports that appeared of their speeches. The only control that could be exercised was that old constitutional one of excluding Strangers, which had only been enforced on rare occasions and that for a few moments of time. They might abrogate that privilege if they liked, and afterwards discover that they had done so without adequate information, and he thought that they were now asked to do it without that adequate information before them. The privilege relating to the exclusion of Strangers, and that which concerned the reporting of their debates, were mixed up with each other, and there were circumstances which affected each that the House ought to be thoroughly acquainted with before it came to what might otherwise be a premature decision on the subject. He therefore begged to move the Amendment of which he had given Notice.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words
"it is not expedient to make any permanent alteration in the Rules relative to the Reports of the Debates or Proceedings of the House, or of any Committee thereof, or as to the presence of strangers in the House, until the House has more fully considered the present system of reporting its proceedings with the aid of information to he obtained by the appointment of a Select Committee,"—(Mr. Mitchell Henry,)
§ —instead thereof.
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
Mr. Speaker, I am not disposed to differ from the opinion expressed by the hon. Member for Galway—that this House ought to consider maturely before parting with a Privilege which has been declared by your immediate Predecessor in the Chair to be an inherent Privilege of Parliament not dependent upon a Rule of this House. It is this Privilege so declared to be inherent in Parliament we are now asked to modify, if not to abrogate. I cannot think that the circumstances on which the noble Lord (the Marquess of Hartington) rests his proposal adequate to the occasion. What has happened in the present Session to render the proposal necessary, except that there has been an abrupt disregard of the Rules and customs of Parliament not confined to this ancient Privilege? At the beginning of the Session, in order to admit the hon. Member for Stoke (Dr. Kenealy) to a seat in this House, the House was induced to suspend a Rule as to a new Member appearing with sponsors, which has existed for 200 years, and that Rule was suspended without Notice. I was a Member of this House when a great question arose with regard to altering the oaths which were taken, first, in the case of persons belonging to the Jewish persuasion, and afterwards in the case of Roman Catholic Members. I have seen the Rules of this House and the Privilege of Parliament tested over and over again, and wherever a question of this sort arose, which seemed to threaten the abrogation of a Standing Order or to involve a question of law, it was the custom of the House to adjourn the consideration of such question in order to search for precedents, so that the House might not be led to adopt a hasty decision. That was done when Baron Rothschild presented himself at the Table to be sworn. 74 It was also done in the case of the late Sir David Salomons. Again, we have had a question of Privilege raised, and this House found itself in a difficulty owing to having arrived at a premature decision. Had the ancient custom of the House been observed, and the question of Privilege arising out of the publication of a scandalous letter, which was tendered to one of our Committees, been adjourned, the painful fact of this House having to reverse its decision could not have occurred. Again, in the case of the hon. Member for Cavan (Mr. Biggar), when he called attention to the presence of Strangers in the House, if he had been permitted to assign his reasons for doing so in the first instance, it would have been found that his reasons were inadequate, and the Speaker would have been desired to recall the Strangers. Instead of which the House was asked, without Notice, and on the spur of the moment, to suspend its Standing Orders so far as this Privilege was concerned, because it was presumed that the hon. Member for Cavan was about to behave himself in a contumacious manner. I then rose in my place and suggested to the hon. Member that when any hon. Member exercised his privilege of calling your attention, Sir, to the fact that Strangers were present, it was always customary for that hon. Member to assign his reasons for doing so. The hon. Member for Cavan immediately complied, and, in complying, showed that there was no adequate occasion for his having used his privilege, and that the usual practice would have been amply sufficient, for that hon. Member's reasons were deemed inadequate, and you, Sir, would have been requested to direct the Serjeant-at-Arms to open the Galleries and re-admit Strangers. The whole of these difficulties have arisen from abrupt and premature action on the part of this House, and would not have occurred had the former practice of the House been observed, and the House had taken time to consider the question which had arisen. I am not inclined, therefore, to be hasty in adopting the Resolutions of the noble Lord, though in saying this I do not mean to imply that he is acting without having received advice. But, in my opinion, the recurrences of these abrupt proceedings, endangering at once the privilege of hon. Members and the Rules and 75 Standing Orders of the House, demands the grave consideration of a Committee chosen from among the leading Members of the House. The Privilege of causing the exclusion of Strangers has, it is true, on some few occasions been abused. It was so by the late Mr. John O'Connell was a Member of this House. But the case in which the hon. and learned Member for Ayrshire (Mr. Craufurd) used that Privilege was very different. The consideration of the Contagious Diseases Act was to come before the House. The hon. and learned Member for Ayrshire used his privilege; but he assigned, as a reason, his belief that the debate which was about to arise, must be of a nature detrimental to public morality, and dangerous to the character of the House. There might be, and there was, a difference of opinion upon this; but no one could pretend to believe that there was no ground for that opinion. I cannot consider that the hon. and learned Member for Ayrshire abused his privilege, nor can I think ground sufficient for abrogating that Privilege exists. I must say that the reasons given by the hon. Member for advocating the modern abuse of this Privilege are to my mind very unsatisfactory. It would be the establishment of a vicious practice if the House were to countenance such an idea as that any hon. Member who deemed that his speeches were not sufficiently reported would be justified in using his privilege of calling attention to the presence of Strangers, and thus excluding all reporters from the Gallery. That would be a manifest abuse of the Privilege. But, then, we have our remedy; and if a Member were to assign such a reason as that for the exercise of his privilege, the House has an ample remedy. If a Member acted against the sense of the House and in abuse of this Privilege, the first remedy would be that you, Sir, should be instructed to reprimand that Member by name. Then, if he proved contumacious, the next process would be that you should be instructed to order the Member to be taken into custody. And the third remedy, in the event of his continued contumacy, is that the House, after due deliberation, might expel him from the House. Having such ample remedies in our hands, I am unwilling, without calm deliberation, to part with a Privilege which has been declared by one of 76 the highest authorities that ever adorned the Chair of this House to be an inherent Privilege of Parliament, anterior and superior to any Standing Orders, and even to any Privileges conferred by Statute. But the hon. Member for Galway has touched upon another question—the manner in which the debates of this House are reported. Well, Sir, a great change has taken place in the reports of our debates. I hold in my hand the declaration made only yesterday on this subject by one of the leading newspapers of this country—I mean The Daily News. I quote from this article in order to show that the conductors of the public Press no longer intend to report our debates so fully as formerly. The Daily News has now for some time ceased to report our debates in extenso; and thus writes in explanation of the purpose of its conductors—Mr. Mitchell Henry intends, we take it for granted, to call attention to the necessity of providing full reports of the debates of the House of Commons. This, we need hardly say, the daily newspapers do not do, do not pretend to accomplish, and could not possibly accomplish consistently with their general purposes as purveyors of news and representatives of opinion. The speeches of the leading statesmen on both sides of the House are reported, and what we may call fully reported, on almost all occasions when the lateness of the hour does not render such a report impossible in morning papers which are almost immediately about to go to press. But all ordinary Members of Parliament find that, except on very remarkable occasions, their speeches are compressed into mere summaries. Debates of great interest to localities, and even to kingdoms, are often summarized in a few lines of a London paper. This is simply unavoidable. No London paper could exist which inflicted upon its readers a full report every morning of the proceedings of Parliament to the exclusion of other matter. Take, for example, the debates on the Irish Peace Preservation Bill.Here, then, is a clear declaration; and I am informed that with the exception of two leading newspapers, it is highly probable that the system of summarizing our debates will be carried still further. The writer goes on to say—At all events, it is certain that this habit of commenting is growing into fuller development day by day, and in all free countries.…. The idea that the Press Gallery is only or even especially a gallery where persons are to sit who are to report the debates ought to be frankly given up in our days. Such was the case really at one time, but such certainly is not the case now.This, Sir, is information which comes to 77 us from no doubtful source. It is information which I find contained in a leading article in one of the most talented papers in the country, and it brings before the House the fact that the system of reporting our debates as heretofore practised so greatly to the advantage of Parliament, and the country is, in the case of several newspapers, if not in all, to be given up. I am fully sensible of the fact myself; and who can be surprised at it? True, we may hope to have still the speeches of the Prime Minister and of the Leader of the Opposition, also of other right hon. and hon. Gentlemen who are or may have been in office, well reported; but The Daily News states the plain truth, when it says that Parliament must not look forward to the continuance of the system of reporting its debates which has heretofore prevailed. The reports of our debates have to compete with the acceleration of intelligence by means of the railways, through which news from the most distant countries reaches London in one-third of the time it formerly did; whilst the system of telegraphing, if it has not annihilated space, has positively annihilated time in the transmission of intelligence. Each daily paper, therefore, if it is to compete with its fellows, must furnish news from every quarter of the globe. Telegrams giving information as to the policy and diplomacy of foreign countries, as to the prospect of war or the hope of peace, as to the transmission of bullion, as to the state of the markets for various products, as to the whereabouts of ships on different parts of the ocean, and even as to the circulation of storms. These are all subjects of the deepest interest to various classes of the community, and this is additional matter which competes for space in the columns of newspapers with the debates of this House. This House owes an enormous debt to the gentlemen who have occupied that Gallery. Amongst them has sat one who was afterwards Lord Chancellor of England—the late Lord Campbell—and I might enumerate the names of many gentlemen who once occupied seats in the Gallery, but who have risen to the greatest eminence in literature, and other pursuits. I believe that they would willingly do us justice; but whatever their talents, they cannot overcome the commercial necessities of the newspapers, while competing with each other, 78 which forbid their reporting the debates in Parliament so fully as is desirable, and as was formerly done. I would, therefore, urge upon this House that the time has come when, warned as we have been by Mr. Hansard that his valuable publication has ceased to be remunerative, the House should consider how it can hereafter preserve an adequate record of its debates. I do not desire that the House should follow the example of the Legislative Assembly in France, where a most elaborate system of reporting the debates is carried on, nor even adopt the system of Austria, nor the system of Italy, nor the system of the United States, which, having formerly been conducted by contract, has within the last few months been vested in an executive appointed by the House of Assembly. All the House ought to consider is this—whether it will not appoint a staff of qualified reporters, who should be at liberty to assist the Press; but, at the same time, should be bound to preserve for Parliament—not for this House only, but for both Houses—a reliable record of their debates, and so supply, if necessary, the place which Hansard has so long and so ably filled. I do not for one moment lend myself to the idea that these reports are to be used merely for the gratification of the constituents of hon. Members. But I say that the value which is attached to Hansard both in England and in our Colonies, proves that a record of the debates, opinions, and proceedings of the Imperial Legislature is essential to the preservation of free institutions, as well as a valuable work of reference. My belief is that we can have no better security against speeches made in this House for the mere purpose of delay or obstruction than the preservation of a reliable record of what is said on such occasions by hon. Members, who seek to interrupt or delay our proceedings. It is thus, and thus only, I believe, that public opinion can be brought in support of the order and the dignity of this House.
§ MR. DISRAELI
Mr. Speaker, the House is indebted to the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition for having introduced this question to its notice. I view the course he has taken with no envy, although I was appealed to in the first instance to undertake the task. Having served upon one or two Committees of the House, by whom this sub- 79 ject has been investigated, and having had the advantage of doing that in the days and under the auspices of very eminent men, some of the most learned Members of Parliament with regard to the great subject of Parliamentary law and privilege who have hitherto adorned this Assembly—in the days of Lord Eversley and Lord Ossington, and I might say in the days of men still living, whom we greatly respect, and deplore that they are not Members of this House at present—I mean such men as Sir George Grey and Mr. Bouverie—I confess I declined the task from a conviction of my inability to meet the difficulties which have baffled spirits of so much higher temper than myself, and not having that confidence in the easy solution of this question which the noble Lord has recommended to our attention to-night. Having examined these Resolutions, I find that they deal with two subjects, one being the publication of our proceedings, and the other our recognition of the presence of Strangers. These are the two subjects to which the noble Lord has given his particular attention, and it is upon these he asks to-night not only for the deliberation, but for the determination of the House. With regard to the first—the publication of our proceedings—I observe that in the first Resolution the noble Lord, while he calls upon the House "not to entertain any complaint in respect of the publication of the debates or proceedings of the House," makes so many exceptions and so many conditions that, when practically considered, I think the House may be induced to believe that the carrying of the first Resolution of the noble Lord would not debar any Member from the Privileges to which it refers, and which are by some deemed inconvenient, while at the same time it might add fresh obstacles to the freedom of our conduct in respect to the management of our debates. The noble Lord asks us to determine—That this House will not entertain any complaint, in respect of the publication of the Debates or Proceedings of the House, or of any Committee thereof, except when any such debates or proceedings shall have been conducted with closed doors, or when such publication shall have been expressly prohibited by the House, or by any Committee, or in case of wilful misrepresentation, or other offence in relation to such publication.Surely under such an enactment as that 80 there is scarcely a publication made under those circumstances which an hon. Gentleman might not challenge. For instance, who is to decide as to what is wilful misrepresentation? Any hon. Gentleman who would bring forward a complaint of that sort would himself be convinced that the misrepresentation was wilful; and therefore no Resolution of this kind would debar him from seeking the justice which he demanded. Who is to annex any definite idea to the words "or other offence in relation to such publication?" If any Member is to have the right of bringing up this question of Privilege, he may have no great difficulty in asserting it. Then, again, under this first Resolution, although it seems to me no Member would be debarred from taking that course which has excited so much attention, and which was exercised by an hon. Member the other night, the House would be fettered by language such as that "this House will not entertain any complaint in respect of the publication of the Debates or Proceedings of the House." Is it wise under a Resolution which seems to leave untouched the power which each Member has of standing on his privilege that we should seek to fetter the general authority of the House, and agree, by this limiting language, that we will not entertain any complaint with respect to the publication of our debates and proceedings? I think myself the House should pause before assenting to a proposal which would add to our restrictions, while at the same time it would not save us from any of the inconvenience of which some hon. Members had occasion recently to complain. So much for the first Resolution; and now I come to the second, which relates to the presence of Strangers, the exercise of the Privilege of excluding whom has within the last few days excited some disquiet in the House. In the first place, with respect to a recent instance, I cannot altogether admit that the inconvenience caused by that exercise of Privilege was very great, or that the House was taken by surprise. So far as I am concerned, I had not much time to consider the particular case to which I refer; but I had received an intimation that the difficulty connected with it would be promptly and easily removed by some Member of the Committee making a communication to the House, without 81 violating any of the Rules with reference to not making public what had occurred in the Committee beyond that which related to the document in question. In consequence, however, of a misconception on my part, and on the part of many others, we were landed in a momentary inconvenience. But how did we rescue ourselves from that? By asserting the power which rests in the House—by passing a Resolution which removed the difficulty just as in the case of the notice of the presence of Strangers, which is the subject of the second Resolution, we extricated ourselves from difficulty by appealing to the power which we have of suspending the Standing Orders. In both these cases, therefore—the publication of reports of our proceedings or the presence of Strangers—it seems the House has a power in its hands which will extricate it from any difficulty. With regard to the presence of Strangers, I may say, in case the House should decide to mate any alteration with respect to the exercise of Privilege, I should be most anxious that the power of the Speaker and the Chairman of Committees should be asserted and established in no ambiguous manner. On this subject I must refer to what occurred in the Committee of 1871. That question was discussed and the Committee divided in equal numbers. I would refer the House to the names of those of the Committee who were in favour of retaining the present system. Among those names were those of Sir George Grey and Mr. Bouverie, men of considerable station in the House, and both of them voted for the maintenance of the present system. Now, it is Highly important that the House should have a clear conception of what they are going to decide upon. When you come to analyze what we have to decide upon, the House will find that there really are only two points—one as to the restrictions with regard to the publication of debates; and the other as regards the presence of Strangers in the Galleries. Now in neither of these cases—and these are practically all we are called upon to decide—does it appear to me that it is necessary to interfere with the present state of things. I say this with great diffidence, because this is a question on which we ought, undoubtedly, to endeavour to obtain the opinion of the House, and to draw from the expe- 82 rience of its Members some results which will carry universal concurrence. But if you come to either of these two points, I think the House must feel that they have the power of redress in their own hands if there is any abuse of Privilege; and it is extremely desirable that when we are dealing with subjects of this kind we should not take any rash step. We should remember that these are Privileges which we have possessed long—which we have often exercised, which may have been sometimes exercised with some inconvenience and not always with sufficient reason, but that the general result has been favourable to the order and decorum of the House of Commons. Now, there is another question connected with this matter which has been developed at considerable length, and with great variety of illustration, by the hon. Member for Galway (Mr. Mitchell Henry), and the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate), appears to sympathize with his observations. It concerns the mode by which an ample and correct report of all speeches in this House shall be secured. What those hon. Members want, I presume, is a Speech Preservation Act. I know from experience in these matters that it is an extremely difficult subject to deal with, and that it would take so much time in carrying that the probability would be, as has happened in other matters, that we might not be successful in carrying any other measure during the Session. I am not prepared at present to support a Speech Preservation Act to meet the difficulty experienced by the hon. Member for Galway and re-echoed by the hon. Member for Warwickshire. The real point which the House ought to consider at the present moment is this—Will you do that which I hold is one of the un wisest things you could do in legislation? Will you attempt to codify the common law of Parliament? As a general rule it is most unwise to attempt to codify common law. These privileges belong to the common law of Parliament. They are the result of the experience of many generations—I might say of many centuries. There is wisdom embalmed in them which may not be at the moment evident, but which we find out sooner or later in practice. It is by the observance of these Rules—it is by the jealousy with which all the most eminent 83 Members of this House for a long period have watched any attempt to tamper with those Privileges, that we have a common law of Parliament so powerful and beneficial as the present. I do not mean to say that it may not be a question some day for the House to consider whether it may or may not be in the power of an individual to notice the presence of Strangers, or whether we should not, under the circumstances, make some restrictions in the exercise of that Privilege; but, so far as I can judge, the remedy being ready and prompt, if the House chooses to exercise it, I should hesitate, for a doubtful benefit, to make any change. There is one point which I wish to put before the House on this subject, and that is that this House should perfectly recollect that with regard to the presence of Strangers you could not have a debate as to whether Strangers should withdraw without entering at the same time into a discussion upon the subject upon which Strangers were requested to withdraw, and I do not think anything would be more inconvenient than an occurrence of that kind. Upon the whole, therefore, I hope the House will not agree to the Resolutions which have been laid before it. I give credit to the noble Lord for the effort he has made to meet the difficulties of the case. He has come forward to assist us, and if he has not solved the Gordian knot he has failed only where men equal to him in station and ability have failed before him. Remembering the labours of the great Committees which during the last quarter of a century have been nominated by the House to consider this subject, I confess myself that on both points—as to the publication of our proceedings and the presence of Strangers—it would be wise for us, without greater experience of inconvenience than we have yet seen, not to assent to any change of the common law of Parliament.
§ MR. LOWE
The right hon. Gentleman has made a very clear and definite deliverance on this subject, and I am happy to say it is impossible to misunderstand or misrepresent it. He is clearly of opinion that the state of the law of Parliament is so satisfactory that no alteration of it is required. The question is, whether the law is in that satisfactory state? If the objections taken to the law be vexatious, frivolous, and unsuited to the 84 dignity of the House, of course the right hon. Gentleman's opinion will prevail; if, on the other hand, they are founded upon grounds so commanding and convincing that it is hardly possible to state them without bringing conviction to the mind, then, notwithstanding the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman, I cannot help hoping there is patriotism enough in Parliament to make them succeed. What is the first proposition of the right hon. Gentleman?—that there is no necessity for alteration of the law of Parliament as regards the publication of our debates. He says this is a common law of Parliament, and it has been framed with great wisdom and judgment by the great men who have gone before us. It is quite true it was so framed, but with what object? Why did they declare it a breach of Privilege to report the debates of Parliament? Because it enabled the King, or the men who surrounded him, to send the great and able men who took part in those debates to prison and leave them to perish there. It was to protect Members of the House from the fate of Sir John Eliot, for instance, who, for defending the liberties of the country, was thrown into prison in 1628, and kept there until he died. For that purpose nothing could be better than saying that a publication which would produce a peril to the liberty of Members was a breach of the Privileges of the House. But the times have changed. So far from wishing our proceedings to be kept secret; so far from fearing any overbearing power to call us to account for what we say, the House has no greater desire than that its proceedings should have the greatest possible publicity. It is not from any feeling of vanity on the part of hon. Gentlemen in reading the reports of their speeches; it is because we have here a power by which we can influence the country, by which we can propagate those beliefs which we regard as being calculated to advance the common good. What was to our predecessors a fear and a dread has become to us a delight and an honour, that which they used all their efforts to repress and control we use all our efforts to extend; and, therefore, though they were wise in using every effort to keep the proceedings in Parliament secret, it does not follow that we are not equally wise in a diametrically opposite position in 85 seeking to make them public. That, I think, disposes, without any degree of irreverence, of the arguments of the right hon. Gentleman. Let us go a little further. What is the present state of the case? It is actually this—that while our most earnest desire is that our proceedings should be published to the British nation and to the whole world, and while we are conscious of deriving from it a power perfectly astonishing even to ourselves, the law and wisdom of Parliament are that the very doing of that which we all desire is a crime, for the doing of which a man can be dragged as a criminal to the Bar of this House, for which he can be interrogated as he can be interrogated in no other Court in this Kingdom, and can be cast into prison. That is the system under which we agree to promote that which we all agree in desiring. We take these persons; we call them before us; we take them away from the jurisdiction of the Common Law, and we submit them to this interrogation, admitting all the while that they have done nothing wrong at all. I am not going to allude to anything that was said in this House with respect to the Committee of which I am Chairman. But look at what was done. It was wished to extract some information which could not be got from me, for they could not send me to prison. And so a happy device was hit upon. Something was published, and we all admit for the benefit of the whole country, and without the slightest discredit or blame to the persons who merely did their duties in publishing it. Therefore, one person being guilty and another quite innocent, it occurred to an hon. Member that this rule, which the right hon. Gentleman says ought on no account to be altered, could be applied with some effect. That is to say, we were to treat persons who were perfectly innocent as if they were criminals, drag them here from their business, and obtain evidence from them by a process unknown to any other Court, which evidence was to be used for some other purpose. Then we are told that there is nothing in all this which needs amendment, and that this is the way in which the dignity and the character of Parliament are to be preserved. Now, the people of this country have no great respect for legal fiction, and I think they will understand clearly that if it is true that it is a great benefit 86 to us all that these things should be published, it cannot be a crime to publish them. If we build Galleries to enable our proceedings to be published, if we give facilities for doing so, if you, Mr. Speaker, allow quotations from the newspaper reports of Parliament to be made, how can we maintain any sort of dignity or character before the eyes of the people of this country if we allow any gentleman who wants to extract any information to be used against any one, to drag these people to the Bar and extract it from them upon pain of imprisonment when they have committed no crime whatever. This, I think, is an answer to the statement of the right hon. Gentleman as to there being no necessity for change in respect of the laws relating to the breach of Privilege. Since the right hon. Gentleman objects it is quite useless for me to go into detail, because he is content with things as they are. The only thing, therefore, that I have to do is to put it to the House whether it agrees with the right hon. Gentleman on the subject. Then comes the second case. The right hon. Gentleman sees no occasion to alter the law, which says that any Member of Parliament may desire Strangers to withdraw, and that they should withdraw accordingly. I venture to say that the way in which the law has been acted upon has not been creditable to the dignity of Parliament. The Strangers who have been turned out have immediately been allowed to come back again—and that is not a dignified connivance on the part of this House. If this is a rule to be insisted upon by Parliament it ought not to be evaded in this manner. Now, this law is traceable to the same source, to prevent the report of proceedings in Parliament lest Parliament should be prejudiced. But the whole nature of things has been changed, and it is not conceivable that human wisdom can be such that framing certain measures to meet one evil, they can be applied to meet an evil exactly contrary. But what has happened? An hon. Gentleman takes it into his head that he will exercise this Privilege. From that moment he is our master; he brings every one of us on his knees. Whatever the Member may be, whether important or otherwise, matters nothing; he becomes our King for the time being, and everyone begs and entreats that he will not exer- 87 cise his power. But who gave him that power? What induces us now to place ourselves at the feet of any man who chooses to exert his mastery over us? If the whole of this House wishes that its proceedings should be open except one man, what sense or reason is it that one man should be able to prevent it? There is nothing that I am aware of in our Constitution or history which should induce us to give to one single man the power to do what was done the other day—on the approach of a most interesting and harmless discussion to stop our proceedings and absolutely to turn out the Heir Apparent. We have been told that we were gentlemen first and Members of Parliament afterwards; but if every Member has the right properly vested in him of excluding Strangers, what business has the right hon. Gentleman or anyone else to challenge him for the exercise of it? That one single Member should be allowed to overrule 650 Members of a contrary opinion, and to put upon the House this injury and degradation is to me utterly inconceivable. The right hon. Gentleman has given us no reasons except the wisdom of our ancestors, and that was exercised in reference to a state of facts entirely different from those which exist at the present moment; therefore, it seems to me most desirable that the House should, if it be possible to do so—for this is no Party question—take the matter into their own hands, and consider whether they will tolerate what, probably, will happen to-morrow, when another hon. Gentleman will again stop our proceedings. How many days will it take to convince you that you cannot go on in this way? The right hon. Gentleman is Leader of the Conservative Party, and is he prepared to go on from day to day suspending the Standing Orders without Notice? Does he not think that by so doing he is making a greater breach in the Privileges of Parliament than would be made by abrogating the rule? The rule of exclusion had a most excellent and obvious purpose when made; but change of time and circumstance has made it in the present day one of the most ridiculous and galling fetters and insults ever imposed upon a free people. The right hon. Gentleman commands many legions, and he may on the present occasion be able to overpower us; but I hope the House will consider that 88 we are not here engaged in fighting a Party question—["Oh, oh!"]—but that we are considering a matter in which the honour of Parliament is involved. I disclaim all Party feeling in the matter, and the right hon. Gentleman is too firmly rooted for a storm of this kind to disturb him. This power of exclusion has been used once in the present Session; it may be used again and again, and it is equally certain to be abused. I therefore ask the House to say whether it is prepared deliberately to show itself to the country as willing to maintain a rule which no other Assembly in the world ever has maintained, and to be governed by one man rather than by a majority, or whether it will awake to a little common sense on the subject, and say that the House will once for all take into its own hands the government and management of its own proceedings. I therefore hope that the House will not give way on this subject, but will exercise its own impartial and clear judgment as to whether it is desirable that these things should again and again occur and the Standing Orders should be suspended, or whether it does not think we have done enough of that kind of thing. My noble Friend does not ask the House to sacrifice any of its Privileges, but merely to forbear from abusing them, and to free itself from the trammels which can do nothing except involve us in unseemly contentions among ourselves, and lower the House of Commons in the estimation of the country.
§ MR. SPEAKER
Notice having been taken of the presence of Strangers, I have no alternative but to call upon them to withdraw.
It is believed that the following is a substantially accurate report of what took place during the Exclusion of Strangers:—
MR. GATHORNE HARDY
said, that in consequence of the disposition of one hon. Member to interrupt the proceedings he would move the adjournment of the debate.
§ Moved, "That the debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. Gathorne Hardy.)
, who spoke amid great disorder, said: I have been at nominations. I intend to show my admiration of the Prime Minister by putting the Rule in force to-night. I am a journalist, and feel on this question. I dare, though unreported, to speak for my profession—we will not submit to ignominious sufferance in that Gallery. The sun has set upon the last day of Press slavery. Either we wield a beneficial power, or the day has come when you must say Yea or Nay. I am not afraid of being called "no gentleman." I and my fellow journalists—the Members for Newcastle and Glasgow—held our peace. I am incapable of mistaking a fact. I am not speaking for out-door purposes. No reporter is here. The rule which the Prime Minister says shall not be reformed must be reformed. [Much disorder.]
It would be better to abrogate the Rule quietly than to allow this disturbance to occur again. I am in favour of Lord Hartington's Resolutions; but I think the hon. Member for Louth has some reason for his conduct. The hon. Member for Galway is aggrieved because his speeches have been from time to time delivered against the feeling of the House.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
The hon. Member for Louth has taken an extreme course which has excited great indignation in the minds of the majority. His course is not unprecedented. [The noble Lord quoted a speech of Mr. Henley, in which he threatened to take the same course, and "to make himself a nuisance," until the House took some action in the matter.] He believed that he did afterwards, on one occasion, put his threat in execution. The grievance complained of by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. G. Hardy) is the very evil of which we complain. I do not defend the hon. Member for Louth; but there is no cause for a burst of indignation. He has done what the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Henley) formerly proposed. I am in favour of adjournment; but I hope the Government will consider the matter, for the question must now be settled.
MR. GATHORNE HARDY
I beg to make a personal explanation. I was taken by surprise. I took what I thought was a proper course—["Order!"]—I was going to say, had I been allowed to speak, that if the grievance rose to such a height that it was necessary to interfere the Government would interfere.
§ MR. MITCHELL HENRY
accused the hon. Member for Louth of a breach of faith with the House; because when the noble Lord (the Marquess of Hartington) took up the question he promised not to clear the House. The hon. Member had now exercised his privilege while the House was debating the question. The hon. Member for Louth had forgotten his promise, and had been guilty of a coup d'etat.
§ MR. MITCHELL HENRY
said, he was not actuated by any private feelings in the course he had taken, in consequence of his speeches not being fully reported. He had never complained of any report of his speeches except during the last Parliament. He thought that Irish feelings were denied a proper representation.
§ LORD ESLINGTON
said, that the worst mistake a Member of Parliament could make had been made by the hon. Member for Louth, who had attempted to overawe an intelligent Assembly by a threat. The hon. Member for Louth might become a very eminent Member—he had given proofs of his capacity to become such—but he wanted discretion. The House would never submit to a threat, and would not be overawed. Hon. Members would maintain their privileges in spite of the hon. Member's threats. He suggested that the House had better now adjourn. "A wise man sleepeth upon his wrath." The House had better let twenty-four hours elapse to think over the hon. Member for Louth's threats.
rose to make a personal explanation, but being met by cries of "Order" and "Spoke" sat down.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
The hon. Member for Louth says he is a member of the Press. He forgets that he is also a Member of this House. He uses his privilege to coerce the majority of hon. Members in obedience to the demands of the Press. This is a distinct abuse of his privilege. I shall invite 91 the House to express its opinion on his conduct. We cannot submit to individuals attempting to coerce a majority.
wished to correct a statement of the hon. Member for Galway, whose narrative was taken from one of those imperfect reports of which he had complained.
I do not recollect anything of the kind. I will state my reasons. ["Order!"] I gave Notice of my intention to enforce the Rule. I was waited upon and asked not to enforce the Rule on that night, because it would be said to be "a Jesuit conspiracy;" but when I was told that the noble Marquess would make a Motion, I said if such an assurance would be given we would not shut out the Press on the Tichborne debate; but I always reserved my right to take this course. There is no reason why the debate should not proceed.
§ SIR RAINALD KNIGHTLEY
thought that something must be done. He approved of the appointment of a Committee, and thought that the Rule should be suspended meanwhile.
§ MR. CALLAN
said, that the Home Rule Party repudiated the conduct of the Member for Cavan (Mr. Biggar); but the action of the hon. Member for Louth was taken without concert with that Party, which was in no way responsible for it. The hon. Member added—I was asked three years ago by Mr. Sullivan in the lobby to "espy Strangers." He said I should immortalize myself; I think the hon. Member for Louth has immortalized himself. I do not think any reporters in the Gallery have authorized Mr. Sullivan to act on their behalf.
§ SIR GEORGE BOWYER
said, the hon. Member for Louth had exercised his right, but without judgment or discretion. There was no privilege that could not be so abused as to be a nuisance—it was so in private life. If gentlemen exercised their rights without regard to other people the world would be uninhabitable. The hon. Member for Louth had used a practical argument; but such an argument was fallacious. He (Sir George Bowyer) did not care for the historical arguments of the right 92 hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of London. The privilege might some day be extremely useful; but the privilege must be used with discretion. The hon. Member for Louth had exercised it for a very bad reason. He exercised it to make it a nuisance, and in order to enforce his views as to the rights of the Press. The reporters had told him they repudiated Mr. Sullivan's assistance.
§ MR. DODSON
said, the House would derive no benefit by the continuance of this debate. He recommended the adoption of the Motion for adjournment.
§ MR. HORSMAN
The hon. Member for Louth, from inexperience as a young Member, has placed us in a false position. He says the feelings of the House and the Press are antagonistic, and says that, as a member of the Press, he will coerce the House to make a change. The feeling of the House is manifestly in favour of giving the Press every facility. We are dependent on the Press. Every Ministry has wished to deal with this question; but there are difficulties not apparent to the hon. Member for Louth. The whole House repudiates the ground on which the hon. Member for Louth has put the matter. He dislikes coercion in Ireland. We dislike coercion in the House of Commons.
§ MR. DISRAELI
I regret that the debate was interfered with. I think the House would have arrived at valuable results. My right hon. Friend (Mr. Hardy) has devoted great attention to the subject, and had opinions I did not altogether agree with. I wish he could have brought them before the House. I am not favourable to any further Committees. It is the duty of the Government to put a Motion on the Table of the House. The hon. Member for Louth has got hold of a privilege of which he thinks he can avail himself; but these privileges may be abused. There is not a privilege of the House that may not be so abused as to produce disorder, for even Motions for the adjournment of the House or a debate may be brought forward by any two Members who, proud of their privilege, might bring the House into disgrace. I thought the hon. Member had made an engagement not to disturb the debate. He may settle that with the hon. Member for Galway. I must fix a day for the resumption of this debate. I think the 25th of May 93 will be the best day to continue it, as that is the day for which the hon. Member for Swansea (Mr. Dillwyn) has a Motion on the subject. Hon. Members will find Parliamentary Privilege a delicate thing to deal with.
§ MAJOR O'GORMAN
For the last week we have been under Coercion Acts. How long are we to be—morning, noon, and night—under Coercion Acts? Our observations—mine and the Prime Minister's—are unheard, and that is a great loss. I move that the Press be re-admitted.
said, that the hon. Member for Louth represented the profession to which he (Mr. Cowen) belonged. The Press had no wish to come into the House against the wishes of hon. Members. The vestry-like proceedings of that Chamber were not remunerative to report. The Press would not be subjected to ignominy if they did come. He took upon himself a full share of the odium.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
claimed the right to say something as to the day of adjournment. As an Order of the Day, it would come on too late on May 25.
§ Motion for the adjournment of the debate agreed to.
§ Debate adjourned till Thursday.
§ Upon Strangers being re-admitted, it was found that the House, after transacting other Business on the Paper, had adjourned.
§ House adjourned at half after One o'clock.