§ MR. CHAPLIN
gave Notice that on Monday next he would ask the Prime Minister, Whether he was correctly reported in The Times of the 28th of February last to have made the following statement with regard to the Royal Commission now sitting on Agriculture— 1618There never was a greater delusion—he was going to have said imposture—than the appointment of the Commission to inquire into all manner of things connected with agriculture—an inquiry which embraced within its scope whether it would be right to replace duties upon the food of the people. There never was a greater delusion. The farmer had been taken in, not for the 09th time, hut for the 199th time…This Commission to inquire into the whole of the commercial system, the fruit of 30 years' legislation, was as gross a delusion as was ever practised on the mind of man.And, if so, whether he acquainted Lord Carlingford and Mr. Stansfeld, when he sought and obtained their consent to sit on the Commission, with the fact that he was asking them to serve on a Commission which, in his opinion, was "as gross a delusion as was ever practised on the mind of man?"
I do not know whether it would be convenient to hon. Members that I should answer the Question now; but I have no difficulty in saving the printer the trouble of printing it. It appears to me that the speech from which the hon. Gentleman the Member for Mid Lincolnshire has quoted was reported with remarkable accuracy. The only error I can detect in what the hon. Member read is this. I am supposed to have said that the farmers had been taken in not 99 times but 199 times. I think I must have said that they had been deluded not 99, but 999 times. The hon. Member will observe that in so far as the Commission was a Commission to obtain information I did not denounce it in that particular. I spoke of the Commission as a delusion, because it was to inquire into all manner of things with reference to agriculture. It is with reference to this subject, and it is also because the Commission has been appointed, and is in progress, that Her Majesty's Government have thought it right to ask two distinguished Gentlemen to replace upon the Commission two other Gentlemen who had consented to act upon it.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he acquainted these two Gentlemen with the fact that he was asking them to sit on a Commission which he had said was as gross a delusion as was ever practiced on the mind of man?
MR. MAC IVER
I wish, also, to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, when addressing the farmers of Mid Lothian, he is reported to have said that the case of the farmers would be so much the worse? ["Order!"]
§ MR. SPEAKER
I doubt whether the Question which the hon. Member proposes to put is in Order. I have to suggest to him that if he intends to put a Question he should give Notice of it.
MR. MAC IVER
I beg to give Notice that on Monday I shall ask the Prime Minister whether he is correctly reported to have said, when addressing the farmers of Mid Lothian, that, in his judgment, their case would be very much worse, as regards competition with America, if the United States were to adopt the principles of Free Trade.