§ MR. LABOUCHERE
I beg to give Notice that I shall move on Tuesday next that the Resolution passed by the House in regard to Mr. Bradlaugh on Tuesday, the 22nd of June, be read and rescinded. I will take this opportunity of asking the Prime Minister, Whether the Government will afford me on that day facilities for bringing the matter before the House?
Sir, I have not had any opportunity of consulting my Colleagues on this important question. Therefore, I wish to reserve my answer in a certain degree—that is to say, as to the particular form of proceeding it may be right to adopt—but as to that which I take to be the essential part of the Question which has just been put to me, I will say that I certainly am of opinion —I can undertake to say on the part of my Colleagues that we are distinctly of opinion—after the proceedings of yesterday, that it is requisite and necessary the subject of Mr. Bradlaugh's right should be effectually re-considered, and we will consider at the sitting of the Cabinet tomorrow what may be the best method of proceeding. I may also say at once to the hon. Member that I think the day for such consideration should not be later than Tuesday next.
§ LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL
I wish to ask the hon. Member for 835 Northampton (Mr. Labouchere), Whether, in accordance with the declaration that he made yesterday, it is Mr. Brad-laugh's intention to continue his attempts to disturb the peace of the House? ["Order!"]
§ MR. SPEAKER
I cannot allow the noble Lord to put a Question with regard to the intentions of Mr. Bradlaugh. I am bound to say that such a Question is irregular, and is not a question relating to any Bill or Motion before the House, and therefore cannot be put.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
Sir, with reference to the answer the Prime Minister has given to the sitting Member for Northampton, which I understand to convey his decision to announce to the House what conclusion the Government may come to on the suggestion for rescinding the Resolution of Tuesday last, I beg to ask the right hon. Gentleman, for the convenience of hon. Members, and for your convenience, Mr. Speaker, Whether, until he has made the announcement of the Government, he will resist any attempt to use the privilege given by the Standing Order of 1866 of raising the question at any time, or to renew past scenes, which may be attempted on the part of Mr. Bradlaugh or his Friends?
I am not quite sure that I caught the meaning of the hon. Gentleman. What is the privilege that he refers to?
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
I will put the matter very shortly. The right hon. Gentleman, as Leader of this House, has announced that he will communicate to this House the opinion of the Government with respect to the present position of the person who claims to represent Northampton. ["Oh, oh !"] May I not be allowed to answer the right hon. Gentleman? I want to know, Whether, as Leader of the House, until he has made that announcement, he will resist any attempt to renew the scene which occurred on Wednesday in this House.
§ MR. BERESFORD HOPE
Before my right hon. Friend answers that Question, perhaps he will also inform the House, Whether, supposing the case is taken on Tuesday, it will be at a Morning Sitting or at 4 o'clock.
Sir, as I understand the matter, the Question would be 836 raised at the Morning Sitting on Tuesday, and what I have said was on that assumption. It is quite possible, however, that it may be the subject of re-consideration on Monday. I am at present under the impression that if the Motion is made, it will not be desirable for those who make it, or for those who resist it, to enter upon a revival or renewal of the lengthened arguments we lately had on the occasion of the former debate. If the meaning of the Question is what course I shall take in the event of the occurrence of anything calculated to disturb the Order of the House before the interval for further discussion has elapsed, then it appears to me to be quite impossible to give an answer until I know what the occurrence is. I should then, of course, endeavour to discharge my duty in maintaining Order.
§ MR. SPEAKER
It is right that I should point out to the House that at a Morning Sitting it has usually been the practice to proceed with the Orders of the Day, the Sitting being suspended from 7 to 9. I would, therefore, submit that if this matter is to be considered on Tuesday, it would be for the convenience of the House if the House met at the usual time.
Probably, in the present state of matters, it will be better to allow the question to stand over until Monday. I say this with due deference to your opinion, Sir.
§ MR. COURTNEY
I wish to ask the right hon. Gentleman, Whether, considering the probability—I may say the certainty—of legal proceedings following the admission of Mr. Bradlaugh on Affirmation, he will take into consideration the expediency of introducing a Bill to extend to all persons elected to serve in Parliament as Members of the House of Commons, who may be unable or unwilling to take or subscribe the Oath, the liberty of making an Affirmation instead of taking the Oath, such as has been conceded to Quakers and other persons, so as to remove all doubts as to what persons are at liberty to make an Affirmation?
I am unwilling at this moment to add anything to the general views I expressed in the recent debate. What I have stated is, that tomorrow, when the Cabinet will meet, we shall feel it our duty to take the whole question into consideration.
Did the right hon. Gentleman mean to convey that there would be a Sitting of the House on Saturday?