Sir, I have to ask the attention of the House for a few moments while I bring before it a question of Privilege. I have to mention that, undeterred by the proceedings of this House on Friday, certain public journals of this country, not having the fear of punishment by Resolution before their eyes, have committed several Breaches of Privilege, some of which it will be my duty to bring before you. I have, however, first to deal with a much graver question, and one of a much rarer character with regard to the Privileges of the House. On the first day of the Session it has been customary, I suppose for 200 years, to pass a Resolution declaring it to be a high infringement of the liberties and Privileges of the Commons for any Lord or other Peer, not being a Peer of Ireland, to concern himself in the election of Members of Parliament, or for any Lord Lieutenant to 1199 avail himself of any authority derived from his commission to influence electors. At all times the House of Commons has been exceedingly jealous of the interference of Peers in this matter, and with very good reason, too. Peers of the Realm have their own Chamber, whore they can sit and enjoy Privileges not granted to us. We are only descended from a second Adam; but upon them, by a miraculous interposition of Divine Providence, hereditary wisdom has descended. Now I find that the annual general meeting of the Borough of Chelsea Conservative Association was held this day week at 25, Gloucester-road, South Kensington, and the right hon. Earl Cadogan occupied the chair. The noble Earl is not only a Peer of the Realm, who might content himself with the privileges he enjoys, but, if I mistake not, he is an Official Member of the Government, and I trust the Leader of this House will show to-night that he is as anxious to defend this Assembly from the interference of Members of his own Party as from that of any Commoner who may happen to sit on this side of the House. Now I will read to the House some of the remarks, of Lord Cadogan; and I think I shall be able to show not only that his Lordship interfered, but interfered in the strongest manner, with the electoral proceedings of the borough in which he and his family have potential influence—["Oh!"]—well, then, in the borough in which he and his family have very slight influence. His Lordship is reported in the public newspapers to have said that—One of the largest and most Radical boroughs in this country had just elected a second Conservative candidate.[Cheers.] It was just at that point that the applause, it appears, had commenced at that meeting. The noble Earl went on to say that he had every hope that the efforts which the Association were making on the evening in question in Chelsea would have the same success. Now, that is the way in which a Member of the Government, who is also a Member of the other House of Parliament, thinks fit to occupy his time in working for the election of a Conservative candidate. The noble Lord further impressed upon his audience the expediency of doing all that they could to make their organization as perfect as possible, so that Lord Inverurie and Mr. Browne 1200 might be returned at the head of the poll. I know it may be said that Lord Cadogan had not been using his influence with the electors after the writ had been issued, or while the election was proceeding; but, to borrow an analogy from recent occurrences at St. Petersburg, I cannot see how it can be fairly contended that a man who is preparing the electoral mine is not interfering with election matters in the borough of Chelsea. [Cries of"Rosebery!"] In answer to the challenge of hon. Gentlemen opposite, I can only say that I am perfectly ready to tackle any Peer of the Realm who may be offending against the Privileges of this House. But to return to Earl Cadogan. After that noble Lord had set at defiance the Rule of the House which I have just read, the Hon. Major Jocelyn appeared upon the scene, and I have to ask that he shall be brought to the Bar in company with the noble Lord and some newspaper publishers whom I shall name presently. The newspaper report of Major Jocelyn's speech was not very full; but, assuming the House to grant me a Committee, as is usual, I shall be able to satisfy them that the unreported portions of his speech even more grievously offend against the Privileges of Parliament than those I am about to read. He made reference to the vote which the hon. Baronet the Member for Chelsea (Sir Charles W. Dilke) gave on the Amendment proposed by the hon. Member for Cork (Mr. Shaw) to the Address, and he denounced—for that is the word—the action of the hon. Baronet in joining in an unholy alliance and giving his vote to a "despicable lot of Irish rebels." Where, now, is the placard of the hon. Member for Derby (Mr. Plimsoll)? Where is the indignation of the hon. Member for Guildford (Mr. Onslow)? I now invite the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who glowed with righteous indignation because two of his own supporters had been called "inhuman," and their conduct in one sense "degrading," to show us to-night—if perfect freedom be allowed to his own sense of justice—that he can rise above considerations of Party and vindicate the character and reputation of Members against language so vile and scandalous as that attributed to the Hon. Major Jocelyn at this Conservative meeting. I think it will be admitted that this is a gross Breach of 1201 Privilege, and therefore I move that Earl Cadogan and the Hon. Major Jocelyn be summoned to appear at the Bar of this House this day week, when, having heard what they may have to say, it may or may not be the duty of this House to appoint a Committee. Before the Committee I now publicly undertake to lay all necessary evidence of the utterance of the speech of Major Jocelyn applying to the hon. Member for Chelsea. I apologise to the House for having taken up its time, but if we have drawn the sword of Privilege, let it be held with a firm hand. Let it not be used against one political Party only, but let it descend upon Commoner and Peer, Liberal and Tory alike. I beg to move that the language I have read constitutes a breach of the Privileges of this House, and that Earl Cadogan and the Hon. Major Jocelyn be summoned to the bar of this House to offer such explanation as they may be able.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That the language of Major Jocelyn complained of to this House is a Breach of Privilege, and that the conduct of the Earl Cadogan as complained of to the House is also a Breach of the Privileges of this House."—(Mr. Sullivan.)
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
I do not know, Sir, whether I have any right to defend my noble Friend Lord Cadogan against the attacks of the hon. and learned Member for Louth (Mr. Sullivan); but if I may be permitted to do so, I may point out that the term during which Peers may not interfere at elections is always held to commence with the issuing of the writ; and I certainly do not complain of the noble Lord taking any part in political matters in my borough up till that time, and I have no doubt that he knows his duty too well as a Peer of this Realm to take any part after that time. With regard to the language of Major Jocelyn, on which my hon. and learned Friend has moved that it is a Breach of the Privilege, I perhaps may be allowed to say that I have nothing to do with this Motion. At the same time, it is perfectly clear that the language used was a Breach of Privilege in accordance with the ruling of the Chancellor of the Exchequer two days ago. I look upon the speech in question as being rather a vulgar speech, and as one which may be passed over without any notice on the part of the House, or, in- 1202 deed, from myself. The vote which I gave on the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Cork (Mr. Shaw) to the Address was a vote in favour of the reform of the Irish Land Laws—a reform urgently needed—and I shall be prepared to defend my vote at the proper time and place. I consider that this matter is entirely undeserving of the attention of the House; but the Chancellor of the Exchequer appears to me to be responsible for the present proceedings, because the right hon. Gentleman, by the course he took on Friday night over the Privilege debate of the hon Member for Derby (Mr. Plimsoll) undoubtedly paved the way for Motions of this kind being made whenever vulgar or objectionable language may be used in any part of the country with regard to Members of the House. If the question goes to a division, I shall vote in the same way in which I voted on Friday night. The language that has been quoted may be technically a Breach of Privilege, but I shall vote that it was not—so strongly am I of the opinion that no such question should be taken up by the House.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
Sir, I do not know that I entirely follow the hon. Baronet the Member for Chelsea (Sir Charles W. Dilke) when he says that certain language is shown to be a Breach of Privilege by my ruling on Friday night. I am not aware of having made any ruling on the subject. It is true there was a Motion before the House in accordance with Rules long laid down, and which, I believe, have been almost universally admitted in debate, certainly by the highest authorities. No question has been seriously raised, so far as I am aware, as to its being a Breach of Privilege for any person outside the House to comment on proceedings inside this House. We all know that such comments are made every day. We also know that for a number of years the House has not exercised its undoubted Privilege by complaining of frequent breaches of it. It is also true that, on Friday last, I thought it right to call upon the House to affirm that the particular conduct to which attention had been called by two of its Members amounted to a Breach of Privilege, and also was an interference with the discharge of their duties by hon. Members. I wish to remind the House 1203 that on that occasion two hon. Members appealed to the House to say whether certain conduct pursued by a Member who was in his place, and who avowed that he had pursued that conduct, and who justified his pursuing it, was or was not a Breach of Privilege; and it seemed to me impossible to allow a question like that to pass without the House giving some judgment on what had taken place. The appeal of the hon. Member for Derby (Mr. Plimsoll) was one of a very peculiar character—it was an appeal made by a Member of this House with reference to Business which was proceeding in the House—and I think that is as widely distinct from the question that is raised now as any two cases can possibly be. With regard to this particular case, in the first place, we have nobody complaining. The hon. Baronet the Member for Chelsea has not complained of interference with his actions, and we have no evidence before us precisely as to what took place. As to the case of Lord Cadogan, it has been already pointed out that it is not held to be an interference of a Peer with an election I if he takes part in political questions before a writ has been issued. I have not been exactly informed, but I believe that the meeting in question was not held with special reference to the candidature of any particular person for the borough of Chelsea, but was the ordinary annual meeting of a Conservative Association in Chelsea for the purpose of transacting its regular business and electing officers. Lord Rosebery [Cheers and laughter]—I really beg pardon of the House, but, talking of the interference of Peers with elections, Lord Rosebery's name slipped out entirely by accident. Lord Cadogan, I mean, was not taking any part in the coming election for the borough of Chelsea, and I think, under the circumstances, the House will see that we have no evidence before us to proceed in this case, and as for calling a Peer to the Bar of this House, it would be an extraordinary proceeding, and rather in excess of the powers of this House.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
Sir, I think that the Chancellor of the Exchequer has nobody but himself to thank for what has occurred. It was perfectly obvious that when the Government chose the other night to revive the question of Privilege, it would not end where it did. 1204 I am entirely against this Motion as I was against that of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and before I sit down I shall move exactly the same Motion which moved on that occasion—namely, the Previous Question, and for exactly the same reasons. I should like the House to consider the grounds on which the Chancellor of the Exchequer endeavours to distinguish this case from the other. He says the distinction rests, first of all, in the fact of certain Members having complained of offence and injury to themselves. I say that is no Parliamentary distinction. A Breach of Privilege is an offence against no individual, but against the House. Then the Chancellor of the Exchequer's excuse for not taking the same course as on Friday is equally untenable. The hon. Members who made the complaint withdrew it—and said that it was no longer a question between them and the hon. Member for Derby, that all offence against themselves was purged, and they left the question solely as one between the hon. Member and the House. The prosecutor on Friday night was not the hon. and gallant Member for Westminster (Sir Charles Russell) nor the hon. Member for Guildford (Mr. Onslow), but he was the Leader of the House—who came forward when they had abandoned all complaint, and brought forward the question of Privilege on his own responsibility and in his own name. Then the Chancellor of the Exchequer says this case is to be distinguished because the hon. Member for Derby justified what he had stated. But the Motion of the Chancellor of the Exchequer was made after the justification had been withdrawn—after the most honourableamendehad been made. And I say that for the Government to have proceeded after that, was vindictive and shabby. Well, I say there is no distinction between the two cases except that you, the majority, desire to proceed against a Member of the minority. ["Oh, oh!"] Ah, it is the fact; if not, are you prepared to vindicate the Breach of Privilege now? The Chancellor of the Exchequer tells you it is a Breach of Privilege, and I should like to ask the Attorney General the Question he put to me on Friday night. Is this a Breach of Privilege or is it not? If it is a Breach of Privilege then why are you not going to proceed against it? Does not this come within the terms of your Mo- 1205 tion the other night, except that the language now in question is not put on a placard, but is printed in such a way that it may be read by millions instead of hundreds? "It is a proceeding denouncing the part taken by an hon. Member of the House; it is, therefore, calculated to interfere with the due discharge of the duty of a Member of this House, and is a Breach of Privilege." The Chancellor of the Exchequer told us the other night that when a circumstance of this kind is brought before the House, the House cannot escape from the duty of taking notice of it, and of recording its judgment. Now, I want to know what is the difference between a placard and a thing printed on a piece of paper and not stuck on a wall? There is no difference whatever; they are both denunciations of the vote of a Member of this House in connection with the current proceedings of this House. Cannot any man of common sense see that what has happened to-night is the necessary consequence of the proceedings of the Government the other night? Do not hon. Members know that there is not a day in which there are not Breaches of Privilege that may be brought forward every night, and that nobody ever took a course that was more calculated to be obstructive to Public Business than that adopted by the right hon. Gentleman on Friday night? I venture to say it was a Party Motion, and that it was voted on as such, and it was perfectly obvious that it would lead to recriminations of this description. The proceedings of Friday night wore unwise and impolitic, and I ventured to invite the House not to entertain it. I have not changed my opinion. I think these Motions of Breach of Privilege apply to matters which you cannot restrain, and which, in my opinion, you ought not to wish to restrain, without serious injury to the character of the Parliament of this country. Therefore, for exactly the same reason that I moved the Previous Question on Friday night, I beg to move it on the present occasion.
§ Previous Questionproposed, "That that Question be now put."—(Sir William Harcourt.)
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
heartily concurred in the Motion of the hon. and learned Member for Oxford (Sir William Harcourt), regarding as frivolous the 1206 Motion of the hon. and learned Member for Louth (Mr. Sullivan), and as being widely distinct from that for which he had voted on Friday night. The House would permit him to point out what he conceived to be the difference between the two cases to which he referred. In the previous instance, the House had been appealed to by two hon. Members against a third hon. Member, who had equal opportunity of urging whatever he thought fit with respect to the particular Bill upon which the difference of opinion existed between himself and those two hon. Members. The hon. Member for Derby (Mr. Plimsoll) thought fit to issue placards reflecting upon the conduct of those hon. Members, and to have them posted almost within the precincts of that House; and he (Mr. Newdegate) would remind the House that at Washington, around the Legislative Assembly of the United States, there was a precinct within which the Rules were far stricter than were the Rules of the English House of Commons, for they forbade the slightest comment upon the conduct of Members of Congress. He would remind the House also of another fact, that the Senate and Assembly of France had only lately returned to Paris, from which they had removed the seat of their deliberations, because their proceedings were interrupted and their persons menaced by the populace outside. There was yet another difference; inasmuch as the hon. Member for Derby, much to his (Mr. Newdegate's) regret, not only posted those libels almost within the precincts of this House, but afterwards justified the substance of those libels in the House itself. ["No!"] Could it be alleged that the conduct of Lord Cadogan or Major Jocelyn was analogous to that? What, then, was the hon. and learned Member for Louth doing on the present occasion, but assailing those who were merely guilty of a minor and secondary offence, which, if a libel at all, should be dealt with through the publisher of the newspaper? It seemed to him that throughout the debate the other night hon. Members lost sight of the distinction that existed between libel and slander. The worst that could be charged against Lord Cadogan and Major Jocelyn was, that they had been guilty of slander, and yet the hon. and learned Member for Louth, in order to carry into effect the decision of the House on Friday, now 1207 mixed up the two offences, and appeared to be incapable of perceiving the distinction between slander and libel. He (Mr. Newdegate) opposed the "Previous Question" on Friday. And why? Because he knew it was impossible that the House should ignore the antecedent circumstances in the case of the hon. Member for Derby, seeing that those antecedent circumstances were recorded in the Votes and Proceedings of the House. If it had not been for those circumstances, he might have yielded to his feelings towards the hon. Member for Derby, whom he greatly respected for his benevolent character; but he felt that the hon. Member had so stamped his proceedings as libel before the House that, waiving all ideas of inflicting penalties on an hon. Member who had expressed his regret for what he had done, it was impossible that the House could ignore the circumstances that had occurred.
§ MR. ANDERSON
remarked, that when the interference of Peers at elections was referred to, hon. Members on the other side shouted the name of "Rosebery!" and the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself had said that whenever anybody spoke of such interference the name of Lord Rosebery naturally rose up. The noble Lord could defend himself well enough in the House of Lords; but when he was attacked here, there was no one to defend him, though so many to attack. He wished to point out that Lord Rosebery did not attend meetings in the county of Midlothian with reference to the coming election there. The City of Edinburgh was no part of the county of Midlothian. The City formed a county of itself, and Lord Rosebery carefully abstained from attending meetings in the county of Midlothian. But the meeting referred to by the hon. and learned Member for Louth was held within the borough of Chelsea, and with a view of influencing the coming election there. The present Motion was the first fruits of the folly of the Resolution proposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on Friday. The right hon. Gentleman had been driven on by influences behind him. Common report said that a round-robin had been sent from the Carlton Club. The Chancellor of the Exchequer was in the position of a huntsman whose hounds ran riot and wanted blood; his followers were anxious to punish somebody, and they determined 1208 that the hon. Member for Derby should be the sufferer. They were not able to get all they wanted. The Chancellor of the Exchequer refused to give them the full measure of vindictive punishment by a Motion of Censure; but consented to a vote, which implied censure without saying it. That was the position which the Chancellor of the Exchequer had put the House in by the Resolution of Friday night. He could not support the present Motion, because he agreed that such Motions were absurd. The House, he thought, was sufficiently dignified to pass over all these things in perfect silence. They should not be taken notice of at all, and therefore he concurred in the Amendment for the Previous Question.
§ MR. E. JENKINS
wished to know how they would stand if they were to say it was not allowable to speak of the conduct of an hon. Member as degrading and inhuman, and yet it was allowable to refer to an hon. Member who was discharging, as he believed, his duty to his country as being connected with a despicable lot of Irish rebels? It was all very well for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to get up and try to minimize the effect of what had been done; but it was a fact that if this matter was passed over to-night, it would be perfectly free for any Member to get up and repeat that another hon. Member, in voting with 40 or 50 other Members, was allying himself to a despicable lot of Irish rebels; whereas, if the conduct of a single Member was called inhuman and degrading, he rendered himself liable to the effects of a Breach of Privilege. He did not think it was necessary to do more than point out the ridiculous position in which the House had been brought by the conduct of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He should vote for the Previous Question.
§ MR. CHARLES LEWIS
denied that there was an analogy between the present case and that of the hon. Member for Derby. The hon. Member went down to another Member's constituency to denounce him, whilst Major Jocelyn was only exercising his constitutional right as an elector of Chelsea in criticizing the conduct of his Representative. There was also a great difference between what fell from a man's mouth, and a statement written and printed in a deliberate manner. It should also be re- 1209 membered that Major Jocelyn was not responsible for what appeared in the newspapers. The hon. and learned Gentleman (Sir William Harcourt) spoke about the vote of Friday being a Party vote, but he should like to know who made it so? The Chancellor of the Exchequer was not responsible for that. He (Mr. Charles Lewis) thought that this matter should not be passed over by voting the Previous Question, but that the House ought to negative the Motion itself. "With regard to Lord Cadogan, the interpretation of the Rule for half a century had been that Peers might speak at political meetings which were not directly connected with elections. It would, as he had said, be hardly fair to allow this subject to be disposed of by the Previous Question. The Resolution itself ought to be negatived.
§ MR. CHAMBERLAIN
could not but think that hon. Members opposite were somewhat unfortunate in the attempt they had made to create a distinction between the two cases which had been brought before the House. Each hon. Gentleman who had spoken had given a new distinction generally quite different from, and sometimes quite inconsistent with, that which had preceded it. The hon. Member for Londonderry (Mr. Charles Lewis) said the distinction lay in the fact that Major Jocelyn was a constituent of the hon. Baronet the Member for Chelsea (Sir Charles W. Dilke); but he forgot to state that the hon. Member for Derby (Mr. Plimsoll) was a constitutent of the hon. and gallant Baronet the Member for Westminster (Sir Charles Russell). Then it was said that the criticism of the hon. Member for Derby was that of a Member by a Member; but in the present case the criticism by Lord Cadogan was that of a Member of one part of the Legislature by a Member of another part of it. He (Mr. Chamberlain) confessed that he could see no distinction whatever in the present case and in that complained of on Friday last. He did not see why this House should protect Gentlemen on one side from offensive statements, and decline to protect Members sitting opposite. It was said that the hon. Member had justified what he had printed, but he (Mr. Chamberlain) was not aware that he did anything of the sort. The truth was that the hon. Member for Derby made a full and ample apology; but 1210 how did hon. Members opposite know that Lord Cadogan and Major Jocelyn would not justify what they had said if they were called to the Bar of the House? Then, the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate) told them that the placard written by the hon. Member for Derby was posted within the precints of the House; but he also published the placard within the borough of Guildford, and hon. Members on both sides knew that the Resolution passed on Friday last was passed as much owing to what had been done in Guildford as what had been done in Westminster. After this, he (Mr. Chamberlain) thought that the House should have a distinct and sufficient explanation of the law upon the subject. He believed the House would agree with him in saying that the Attorney General who had laid down the law so satisfactorily on the previous occasion, should once more be called upon to give hon. Members the benefit of his knowledge, so that they might be in a position to judge—seeing that questions of Privilege were becoming frequent—in what cases hon. Members would be justified in asking the House to interfere.
§ MR. A. MILLS
remarked, that the same considerations which prevented him from voting for the Motion of the Chancellor of the Exchequer on Friday last would induce him to vote for the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Oxford (Sir William Harcourt). He earnestly hoped that the House would waste no more time on the discussion of the matter. There was a very important Bill relating to the distress in Ireland among the Orders of the Day, and he hoped they would be allowed to proceed with that Bill.
MR. O'CONNOR POWER
retorted, that if the Motion of Friday night was of sufficient importance to occupy seven or eight hours in discussion, the stigmatizing of 60 Members of that House as a despicable lot of rebels could scarcely be considered so frivolous a matter. Other people might be as sensitive when their public character was concerned as were the Friends of the hon. Member for Exeter (Mr. A. Mills). He should like some Friend of the hon. Member for Londonderry to explain by what connection Major Jocelyn's position as a constituent of the hon. Baronet the Member for Chelsea (Sir Charles W. 1211 Dilke) justified him in branding 60 Members of that House as rebels. He (Mr. O'Connor Power) regretted that any hon. Member should think that this was a matter simply between the hon. Baronet the Member for Chelsea and his gallant but vituperative constituent. That, it seemed to him, was not the question at all. The hon. Member for Glasgow (Mr. Anderson) had rendered some service to Liberal politicians by the very successful way in which he had vindicated the political action of Lord Rosebery. But he (Mr. O'Connor Power) wished to point out that Lord Rosebery had not the fear of the House of Commons before his mind. The noble Lord was not aware that the rusty weapon of Privilege was to be furbished up to do service for the Tory Party in the coming General Election. He (Mr. O'Connor Power) believed that most people would be inclined to think that neither the Motion of his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Louth nor the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Oxford could be regarded as satisfactory. He was sorry that his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Louth had not contented himself with a Motion to the effect that Lord Cadogan and Major Jocelyn should be summoned to the Bar of the House, and be called upon to give an explanation of their extraordinary conduct. It was possible that this noble Lord and this gentleman might repudiate the expressions attributed to them in the newspaper report; but if not, the House would at least have an explanation, and if that explanation were followed by an ample and explicit apology, his countrymen who sat in that House would never think of pursuing the matter further. He was at a loss to see how the dignity of Parliament was vindicated by their following in the wake of the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER,
said, he thought the House had been sufficiently long amused with this matter, and he hoped that the suggestion just made by the hon. Member for Exeter (Mr. A. Mills) would be acted upon. He should himself vote for the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Oxford (Sir William Harcourt), though he was of opinion that the Motion now introduced by the hon. and learned Member for Louth (Mr. Sullivan) would have the result of placing on the Records of the House a 1212 good, instead of a bad precedent, and he hoped that the effect of an almost unanimous vote would be to destroy the precedent made on Friday evening last. It seemed to him perfectly vain to attempt to draw such a distinction between the Motion before the House and that of Friday night as would justify the House in voting for the latter, and yet to refuse to vote for the present Motion by a large and almost unanimous vote. The present Motion showed how mischievous was that which had been passed on Friday evening. What did the House do then? It laid down this principle—that anything said or done calculated to coerce and intimidate Members in discharge of their duty deserved to be taken notice of by the House. There was no doubt that, according to that Resolution, Major Jocelyn had been guilty of a Breach of Privilege calculated to coerce and intimidate the hon. Member for Chelsea in the execution of his duty. Certainly, he had not done so by writing a placard, but there was no doubt Major Jocelyn intended to speak for publication, as there were reporters present when he spoke. No doubt the speaker thought that what he had said would have the effect of damaging at the General Election the prospects of the hon. Baronet the Member for Chelsea. He charged the hon. Baronet with allying himself with a set of Irish rebels. [Mr. O'CONNOR POWER: A despicable set of Irish rebels.] A despicable set of Irish rebels. Of course, nothing could be more in the nature of a Breach of Privilege than words of that character applied to Members of this House, and he could not help remarking on the fact that the Chancellor of the Exchequer had made no reference whatever to Major Jocelyn's words in his remarks. Indeed, the Chancellor of the Exchequer passed over the objectionable words. He (Mr. W. E. Forster) hoped that after they had taken the present vote, that they would proceed with the important Business on the Paper.
§ MR. BIGGAR
thought it would be a mistake to be in too great a hurry to vote on this question. For himself, he did not feel in the slightest degree in a hurry. The Chancellor of the Exchequer was in no hurry last Friday night, when he involved the House in a controversy which lasted from 5 o'clock until half-past 12. He admitted that 1213 there was a difference between the two cases; but the difference was this—that Major Jocelyn's conduct was more vicious than the conduct of the hon. Member for Derby, and that while in the one case the attack had been made on hon. Members whose support was useful to the Government, in the other a section of the Opposition had been attacked to whom the protection of the Chancellor of the Exchequer did not extend. The fact was, the Chancellor of the Exchequer on Friday last allowed himself to get into a thoroughly untenable position, so that his action on the present occasion exposed him to the charge of not holding the scales of justice equally as Leader of the House, and that his vindication of the Privileges of Parliament was made in the interest of his own Party.
said, he should take a Division, in order to afford the Government and their supporters an opportunity of effacing themselves, and also to put on record the fact that, in the face of 60 of its Representatives being publicly branded as a despicable band of Irish rebels, the Leader of the House took no steps to vindicate the character of the House, while only a few days previously, because one of his own supporters was described as having been guilty of inhuman conduct, he came forward as the champion of the Privileges of the House. The lesson would be studied in Ireland. He would exhort his countrymen to study this spectacle of the partiality of the present Government, which allowed them to be traduced in the vilest and foulest language, with a view to the General Election. The Government were endeavouring to hound on every man to denounce and defame the Irish Members on that side of the House, in order to deter hon. Gentlemen from extending to them that consideration and support which the justice of their cause might occasionally attract to their side. It was a foul attempt to check the growing sympathy of the public, at which the Government trembled every day. If the Ministerial votes decided that it was not a Breach of Privilege to describe 60 Members of the House as a "despicable lot of Irish rebels," it would have an effect upon the future conduct of those Members in that House. He should go to a Division, even if he had only two Members with him.
§ SIR JOSEPH M'KENNA
said, he could not understand how any vote the House could come to would have the effect of stigmatizing 60 of its Members as despicable and as rebels. For his part, knowing something about Major Jocelyn, he should rather regard anything which he might say about him in the way of censure as great praise. Nobody who knew Major Jocelyn's political temper paid the slightest respect to what he said or did. He believed his present opposition to be one of the most effective means of returning his hon. Friend the Member for Chelsea almost without opposition at the approaching General Election. He should decline to give Major Jocelyn the dignity of a vote either on the one side or the other.
§ Previous Questionput.
§ The Housedivided:—Ayes 15; Noes 229: Majority 214.—(Div. List, No. 18.)