§ MR. ANDERSON
said, he wished to call the attention of the Speaker to what he considered an irregularity on the part of two hon. Members in the proceedings on Friday, and in order to give hon. Members an opportunity of explaining their action, he would conclude with a Motion if necessary. Early in the Session it would be remembered that the Speaker's attention was called to the fact that Irish Members had succeeded, 12 by a peculiar expedient, in appropriating most of the Wednesdays—namely, by putting down the names of several Members for each Bill they wanted to introduce. The Speaker declared that was an irregularity which, if persisted in, would make it necessary for the House to pass a Resolution on the subject, to the effect that no Member should be allowed to ballot without first putting his Notice of Motion on the Paper. He (Mr. Anderson) supposed that that rule applied equally to balloting for places on Tuesdays and Fridays. The hon. Member for Canterbury (Mr. Butler-Johnstone) and the hon. Member for West Cumberland (Mr. Percy Wyndham) were the two Members to whose conduct he wished to call attention. The hon. Member for Canterbury had had a Motion on the Paper for a long time on the subject of the Treaty of Paris; lately he balloted, and got the fourth place on the list for the 7th of July, so that his Motion had very little chance of coming on. Wishing to improve his position, he put his name on the ballot Paper on Friday, and balloted again. He was not successful, but the hon. Member for West Cumberland, who previously had no Notice whatever on the Papers of the House, was successful, and as a consequence the Resolution which formerly stood in the name of the former Gentleman for the 7th July now stood in the name of the latter for the 4th. He did not wish to allege that anything absolutely unfair had been done, for certainly each Member had a right to put his name on the balloting paper, but by exercising their right in this peculiar manner clearly these hon. Members had two chances of success, while other Members had only one, and therefore he wished to ask if this was regular; and, if it was not, whether the hon. Member for West Cumberland ought to be asked to resign the place he had gained by that expedient?
§ MR. PERCY WYNDHAM
submitted, with all deference to the Speaker, that there had been in the case in question no violation either of the Rules or the Forms of the House. The facts of it were that nine or ten Members of the House—he hoped a greater number—took an interest in the Declaration of Paris, and wished to bring the subject on for discussion. It was to them, he 13 might add, a matter of perfect indifference who brought it forward so long as it was brought on, although the hon. Member for Glasgow (Mr. Anderson) seemed to have some confused sort of notion that he (Mr. Percy Wyndham) had inherited some advantage which properly belonged to his hon. Friend the Member for Canterbury. Such, however, was not the case; the only thing for which he was indebted to his hon. Friend being the drafting of the terms of the Resolution that was placed upon the Paper, the Motion itself being original.
§ MR. BUTLER-JOHNSTONE
said, the fact was, that there was such a competition with respect to submitting to the House the question of the Declaration of Paris, that as soon as he had put down his name with that view five or six hon. Members came to him and said that they were anxious to bring it forward. His reply was, that he had been balloting unsuccessfully for some time, and that if they were willing to put down their names and come off better than he did, he should be only too glad. It was not right, he thought, that hon. Members should put down their names for a particular Motion, and then shift the onus of bringing it on on to somebody else's shoulders. But when, as in the present instance, several hon. Members were perfectly ready to get up a question, he could not see how the spirit of any of the Rules or Regulations of the House had been violated by what had been done. The hon. Gentleman the Member for Glasgow, he might add, seemed to know so little about the subject that he talked of the Treaty, instead of the Declaration of Paris. It was not at all that the Motion related to, but to the Declaration of Paris.
§ MR. RITCHIE
thought that if the spirit of the Regulations of the House had been violated in the case of the Irish Members, to which the hon. Member for Glasgow (Mr. Anderson) had alluded, it had also been broken in the present instance, and he contended that it would be highly detrimental to the due progress of Public Business if all those hon. Members who held similar views on any particular subject were to put down their names for the purpose of securing a better place for it on the list. When he raised the question in the early 14 part of the Session, he did not make any special reference to the Irish Members, he simply desired to prevent the practice of which the hon. Member complained.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
, as one who had been a victim of the pre-occupation of the Order Book, wished to offer a few remarks on the matter under discussion—
§ MR. SPEAKER
I wish to point out that there is no Motion before the House. The hon. Member for Glasgow (Mr. Anderson) has addressed to me a question on a point of Order. The point is one which was brought under my notice at an early period of the Session, and I then stated my opinion upon it. It appeared to me then, as it appears to me now, that if two or more Members of the House, holding the same opinions on some specific Motion, combined together to ballot for precedency, with the view of giving undue precedence to that Motion, such a practice is an evasion of the Rules of the House. I think it right also to observe, as was stated by the hon. Gentleman who spoke last (Mr. Ritchie), that when this proceeding was brought under my notice at the early part of this Session no special reference was made to the conduct of hon. Members from Ireland, but the question was raised with respect to Members of the House generally. I then expressed a hope that, notice having been taken of the irregularity of the practice, it would be sufficient to prevent a repetition of it; but I regret to find from what has been stated that the practice has again been made use of.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
, who rose amid cries of "Order," said he thought the subject ought to be considered by a Committee of the House, for while such a thing might be done inadvertently, he believed that it had also been done designedly, and that he and other hon. Members had in consequence suffered. The remedy, in his opinion, was to require hon. Members when putting down their names to state the subject of their Notice. He would conclude by moving the Adjournment of the House.
§ MR. MITCHELL HENRY
, in seconding the Motion, admitted that the practice to which reference had been made had undoubtedly originated with Irish Members, but contended that they had been driven to have recourse to it 15 as a matter of self-defence. He was sure that there was no hon. Gentleman in the House who would not be unwilling to do anything against the spirit of the Rules; but the remedy proposed by the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Newdegate) would not meet the difficulties of the case, for nothing would be easier than to alter slightly the terms of any Motion which was about to be brought forward, and, unless greater, facilities were given to private Members, expedients such as that under discussion must be resorted to, or the business of that part of the United Kingdom which he and those around him represented must come to a standstill. If it had not been for the course they had taken, subjects which were of vital importance to Irishmen would not have been brought under the notice of the House, as the systematic policy of the Government appeared to be to put off Irish business till as late an hour of the morning as possible. He, for one, was glad to find that there were some 59 Irish Members greatly interested in that business, who, instead of trying to deal with it as in former Sessions at 2 o'clock in the morning, had at last hit upon a mode of bringing it forward at a reasonable time, and he was not surprised that other hon. Members had taken a leaf out of their book.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—(Mr. Newdegate.)
§ MR. ANDERSON
said, the second part of his question—whether the Motion ought not to be withdrawn from the position it now occupied—had not been answered.
§ Motion, by leave, withdrawn.