HC Deb 08 August 1881 vol 264 cc1207-9

wished to ask the Prime Minister a Question with regard to the position of Mr. Bradlaugh. For himself, he might explain that he had a Resolution on going into Committee of Supply, which practically was to rescind the Resolution come to in April last. He believed that that Resolution precluded Mr. Bradlaugh from taking the Oath, together with a subsequent Resolution passed precluding Mr. Bradlaugh from coming within this House, were both Sessional Orders, and that they would lapse at the end of this Session. The result, of course, would be that at the commencement of next Session Mr. Bradlaugh would present himself at the Table of the House and endeavour to take the Oath and his seat, as he believed he had a right to do. Now, what he would ask was this—whether, when Mr. Bradlaugh took that course, he might hope that he would be supported by the Government, in what he believed, and some in this House believed, to be his Constitutional rights? In that case, as it was near the close of the Session, and he had no wish to inconvenience hon. Gentlemen opposite—for it was quite possible his Motion might inconvenience them, as they did not know when it might be brought on—he would withdraw his Motion and leave the matter in the hands of Her Majesty's Government for next Session.


Sir, I understand from my hon. Friend two things—that he has investigated the matter, and ascertained that the Resolution which forbids Mr. Bradlaugh taking the Oath at the Table—I do not mean the Resolution debarring him from access—is a Sessional Resolution which expires with the Session. I understand, that being so, it is possible, according to my hon. Friend's view, that Mr. Bradlaugh may again present himself and claim to take the Oath at the commencement of next Session. I take these two propositions simply as given by my hon. Friend, and I assume them to be correct. If he should so present himself, and so claim to take the Oath, and should opposition thereupon arise, undoubtedly Her Majesty's Government would deem it their duty to consider the question with a view to the termination of the controversy.


asked the Speaker whether it was the fact that the Order forbidding Mr. Bradlaugh to take the Oath did expire at the end of the Session, and would require to be renewed at the beginning of the next?


I understand the right hon. and learned Member to refer to the Resolution of 10th May. That is not a Standing Order, and would terminate at the end of the Session.


asked the right hon. Gentleman in the Chair whether the Resolution of the 20th of April, which precluded Mr. Bradlaugh from taking the Oath, would lapse at the end of the Session?


The Resolution to which the hon. Gentleman refers was not made a Standing Order, and therefore would expire with the Session.


asked the Prime Minister, in reference to the answer he had given to the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere), whether, when he brought in a measure dealing with Mr. Bradlaugh, he would take means to secure the attendance and the vote in its favour of the Liberal Members of the Liberal majority by whose defection Mr. Bradlaugh had been excluded?


Sir, I do not know if I have gone too far in answering the Question of my hon. Friend (Mr. Labouchere); but I did it simply on the ground that everyone must feel desirous, at a time when we are beginning to hope we may very soon disperse, to know whether they are likely to be called upon again to vote on a subject of Mr. Bradlaugh during the present Session. But as the Question of the hon. Member for Galway (Mr. T. P. O'Connor) has a reference to a future Session, and a contingency only supposed to arise then, I hope he will kindly exercise his patience until the future Session arrives.


asked the hon. Member for Northampton whether, after the statement of the Prime Minister, he would go on with his Resolution?


Certainly not, Sir.