§ MR. LABOUCHERE
I wish, respectfully, to ask you a Question, Sir, with regard to an occurrence which took place 8 at an early hour this morning when many of the Members of this House were asleep in their beds. I wish to ask you, Sir, Whether, in bringing the debate upon the Question which was then before the House to a sudden close, you acted under any Standing Order of the House, and, if so, which?
§ MR. PARNELL
Mr. Speaker; Sir, I believe it is one of the customs of this House that a question of Privilege should be taken notice of immediately upon its occurrence. I venture, therefore, to assume it will be proper for me, in consequence of the reply which you have just vouchsafed to the Question of the hon. Member for Northampton, at once to bring before the attention of the House a Resolution which I propose to submit to the House, which reads as follows: —That the action of Mr. Speaker in refusing to permit further debate on the Motion for leave to introduce the Preservation of Life and Property (Ireland) Bill is a breach of the Privileges of this House.
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Member having stated the Resolution he proposes to submit to the House, I have to inform the hon. Member that the Resolution he so proposes relates, not to a question of Privilege, but to a question of Order. If he thinks proper to bring the matter under the notice of the House in the regular way he is entitled to do so by Notice of Motion, but not at the present time and as a question of Privilege.
§ MR. PARNELL
Sir, I respectfully submit for your further consideration that there is, at least, one precedent in favour of the course I propose to take.
§ MR. SPEAKER
I have ruled that the course the hon. Member proposes to take is out of Order. If he wishes to challenge that ruling he is entitled to do so by Motion.
I would venture, respectfully, to ask what opportunity will be afforded my hon. Friend for raising the question? That is an important consideration.
§ MR. A. M. SULLIVAN
Do I understand you, Sir, to rule that my hon. Friend cannot as a matter of Privilege challenge the course which, without precedent, you took this morning? In that case, I rise to move that this House do disagree with Mr. Speaker in that ruling. ["Chair!"]
§ MR. SPEAKER
In taking that course the hon. Member will be disregarding the authority of the Chair, and I must caution the hon. Member that the course he proposes to take will involve him in the consequences of that proceeding.
§ MR. A. M. SULLIVAN
Mr. Speaker, I very respectfully ask for your direction upon one point. I suppose that, at all events, you will be ready to give to the House and to Members the assistance of your wisdom, experience, and direction, and that the authority, wisely committed to you, Sir, will be exercised as much in the assistance of Members desirous of acting in Order, as in the silencing of Members accidentally transgressing Order. I therefore ask you, Sir, whether I shall be within precedent and the Rules of the House in moving a Resolution—which I shall not move unless I am—I ask whether it is not a fact that, on the Journals and Records of our House, there stand Motions that the House disagree with a particular ruling of Mr. Speaker on the point of Order? If there be not, there is not among the Members of this House one who will further shrink than I from infringing any legitimate Order of the House, just as there is no one in this House who so totally disregards consequences in the discharge of conscientious duties. I, therefore, with all respect to you personally and to your position, ask you kindly to inform the House and myself, if there be not on the Records of Parliament precedents for the Motion that this House do disagree with Mr. Speaker on any ruling he may have made?
§ MR. SPEAKER
I can quite understand that there may have been Motions of that kind made in this House, and it may be that the hon. Member can make such a Motion, but not as a matter of Privilege.
§ MR. A. M. SULLIVAN
I did not rise to make it as a matter of Privilege, but to ask your advice as to the-course proper to take.
§ MR. SPEAKER
If the hon. Member admits that it is not a question of Privilege, his course is quite clear— he is bound to give Notice.
§ MR. A. M. SULLIVAN
I thank you, Mr. Speaker—and I think your kind answer has helped to extricate us from a difficulty—but you would confer a further favour upon the House if you would inform us whether on any previous occasion Notice was given, and whether it is not a fact that the ruling of the Chair has been challenged on the instant?
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Member asks me a Question which at the present moment I am not able to answer without searching for precedents.
§ MR. A. M. SULLIVAN
Then, in order that there may be time to search for precedents, I shall conclude with a Motion.
§ MR. SPEAKER
I caution the hon. Member, that if he proposes to move the adjournment of the House with the view of calling in question what was done this morning, he will be entirely out of Order.
§ MR. A. M. SULLIVAN
I am about to move the adjournment of the House, and I trust, Sir, that I shall do so within the strict Rules and Privileges of the House and not beyond them. I shall take care, so far as it may now be possible for a Member to maintain his independence in this House, to keep myself within the ancient Privileges of the House, let who so will narrow them. It has been from time immemorial the custom of this House to accord to hon. Members the privilege of moving the adjournment. As I stated, often ere now, such Motions have been made, even by Prime Ministers, for the purpose of calling attention to the affairs of Greece, to the affairs of Turkey, and to various foreign questions. Moving the adjournment of the House is one of our ancient rights, and has been largely availed of from time immemorial. It is one of our ancient rights and forms, which has been made use of by private and by official Members alike, and I believe I could put my hand upon precedents where Motions for the adjournment of the House have been made by leading Members of this House for the purpose of referring to something that had taken place on the previous day. Whether I shall do so or not will be a matter for my judg- 11 ment, in view of what you, Mr. Speaker, have said—["Oh!"]—a matter for my judgment, because I hope no Member of the House thinks so meanly of me as to suppose I would shrink from any course which I really believed to be for the public interest and for the protection of the Rules of the House from any fear of any consequences whatsoever. I am proud of having a seat in this House for the sake of the good it may enable me to do for my constituents and for my country, and for the sake of the harm and mischief it may at least enable me to thwart and prevent. I am aware there have been times in the history of this House where Members in a minority have, by moving the adjournment, protected to no inconsiderable extent the privileges of debate, personal freedom, and public liberty. In moving the adjournment of the House on this occasion—and I shall be within the recollection of the House and within the cognizance of the country at large—never did a Member rise to make a Motion of this kind under graver circumstances of peril to the liberties of this House. Encountered as I have been from the very threshold of my remarks by a monition highly calculated—however it might be intended—to embarrass me with all the power of a menace of personal consequences, I declare before this House and before my country that I feel at this moment I am defending liberties that used to be dear to the Commons of England. On the floor of this House once rose, under circumstances not half so provocative as mine, a man who declared that Mr. Speaker was not" a master of that House, nor a master's mate." No such language shall fall from me—not that I should fear to say so—not that I, any more than that English Member, would be afraid, if I honestly believed it necessary, to say what I thought about any Speaker in the Chair, within the limits of fair courtesy and of personal respect—under these fair limits I will say everything a man may dare to say without offence. I think, Sir, there are circumstances which render the adjournment of the House extremely necessary. Whatever was done this morning may have been right or may have been wrong. I wish to make no reflection upon it beyond what is Parliamentary—but it is a most remarkable fact that a league should be established between Her Majesty's Government and 12 their deadly foes. There is a great anxiety to call for the clÔture. But, say the friends of Her Majesty's Government on the Opposition Bench, "Give us such a clÔture as may not hurt us. Let it be for a minority, but not a minority as large as we are."
§ MR. SPEAKER
I wish to point out to the hon. Member that he will not be in Order in discussing the Resolutions of which Notice has been given to-day. He will have the opportunity of discussing them when they are proposed.
§ MR. A. M. SULLIVAN
I thank you, Mr. Speaker; I did not hear the Resolutions. I understood something was about to be done, or I would not have referred to it. However, a time will come for discussing the merits of the Resolutions. I adjure the House to assent to my Motion for adjournment, and to pause. Much has happened to rouse the temper, if not the anger, of the great majority of the House. All strong majorities are roused to anger by the resistance of minorities to their will. It is only the tendency of human nature that two hundred or three hundred men, fully persuaded that their course is right or necessary, if they find a minority resisting them as stoutly as they assert their own will — I say it is only human nature that they should avail themselves of their strength. Nevertheless, majorities as great and as strong discover in time that their sense of anger has impelled them a little too far. Majorities in this House resisting Motions like the present one have ere now discovered in the end that the minority after all was right. Need I refer to precedents within your memory, when the public opinion of England in one short month came round and sanctioned the desperate resistance which a few offered to the flogging clauses. Over and over again the House, by vast majorities, refused to adjourn. Why, then, was it wise to adjourn? I do not set myself up as more pure, independent, or wise than the average of Members; but this I will say—that when we engage in these combats a spirit is roused within us in the end that we will not be put down, and you — that is, the majorities — lose sight of far-reaching views of consequences and of established precedents. You may be laying the foundation of precedents fatal to the liberties of Englishmen in the years after. It was in that spirit that in 1620 and in 1626 13 minorities in this House stood up for precedents. I do not want to compare with men so illustrious the humble individual who dares to stand up this day against the will of the majority to plead for liberty—but I appeal to hon. Members, by consenting to the adjournment, to give time to see whether the minority may not be within the full rights and Parliamentary Privileges which their forefathers defended, not merely by votes of this House, but by cutting off the head of a King when he tried to violate them. ["Oh, oh!"] They warned, too, a Member of this House when he was carrying his will too far that they would have his head. We are not now going to menace individuals in that way; but we hope we may be allowed to fight out this great contest fairly—for it has grown to be a great Constitutional issue. It is no longer about a Peace Preservation Bill we are contending; it is for the liberties of this House. ["Hear, hear!"] I know what hon. Gentlemen mean by that cheer; I interpret the feeling to be this —that the liberties of the House mean what the majority of the House think to be its liberties. There have been Speakers in the Chair who, before this; have defended the liberties of the House. ["Order!"] When hon. Members call "Order!" I should like to know whether I am to understand them to mean that I am out of Order in referring to the fact that the liberties of this House have been defended by the occupants of the Chair? Are hon. Members such tyros in politics as never to have heard of Mr. Speaker Lenthall? Are they not aware that when it was sought to have one of its Members taken to the Tower this House defied the King himself? In the present day there has grown up in this House a practice and a habit of expression, which is apart from and in disagreement with its ancient Privileges and practice. ["Hear, hear !"] I am glad of that cheer by anticipation. The practice to which I refer is that, owing to the high personal virtues of the right hon. Gentleman who now occupies the Chair, and because of the unfeigned respect which is entertained for him by Members of the House for his urbanity and kindliness, it has become the custom to treat as an outrage on the Chair any reference to the fact that the ruling of the Speaker might be wrong.
With reference to the observations of the hon. Gentleman, commenting on the fallibility of the Chair, I rise to ask you, Sir, whether those observations are not themselves out of Order? ["No!"] I do not rise to ask the opinion upon the point of hon. Gentlemen who cry "No!" I ask the opinion of the Chair. It appears to me the hon. Member was calling in question the recent decision of the Chair, which the hon. Member has already been informed he was not at liberty to call in question at the present Sitting of the House.
§ MR. SPEAKER
I have already distinctly ruled that this is a matter of Order and not of Privilege. I have ruled before in the same sense when the hon. Member for Dungarvan (Mr. O'Donnell) proposed a Vote of Censure on the Chair; and when Dr. Kenealy, in the last Parliament, took a similar course, I ruled in the same sense, and I shall continue to rule in the same sense. I must, therefore, ask the hon. Member for Meath to confine himself strictly within the rules of debate, which forbid his calling in question any ruling of the Chair without specific Notice of Motion.
§ MR. A. M. SULLIVAN
I thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I thank God, that the rulings with regard to proceedings in this House are in your hands, and not in those of the right hon. Gentleman. The House ought, I contend, to adjourn, because every incident which has occurred this day shows that there is need for time for a little deliberation. The highest in position among Members of the House, as well as the humblest, seems to have lost somewhat his equanimity. We all need time to allow our tempers to calm down, so that we may be in a position to consider the grave issues now affecting the country and the House in a befitting mood. I ask for an adjournment for the sake of the Parliamentary institutions of the country, and in order that, after due deliberation, the House may take whatever step may really seem to be wise and necessary. I ask that time should be given in order that the rights of minorities may be duly protected. ["Order!"] One of the greatest provocations to disorder in this House is when observations strictly [in Order are challenged by Members of 15 the House, and I hope hon. Gentlemen opposite will not suppose I mean to treat them with disrespect if I decline to notice any interruptions in which they may think fit to indulge, for I feel it incumbent upon me on this occasion to keep rigidly within the limits of Order. The Prime Minister is well aware that a Member, in moving the adjournment of the House, is allowed considerable latitude, and I trust that, occupying the high position which he does, the right hon. Gentleman will not attempt to do that which is fortunately impossible—to overawe the Chair by the intimation of his will. We have had two nights of continuous debate, and which side in the discussion was right and which was wrong I will not attempt to say.
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Member must be quite aware that his observations are not in Order, and I must request him to keep to the Question. I understand he means to conclude with a Motion; but he has not addressed himself to the ground on which he bases his Motion, or stated what it is he intends to propose. I am as yet at a loss to understand what is the course he proposes to take.
§ MR. A. M. SULLIVAN
I am under the impression that I have frequently intimated that I intend to move the adjournment of the House, and that I am adducing the strongest reasons for taking that course. I am, I think, entitled to have the Motion assented to, for there never has been one brought forward on graver grounds. The Motion for adjournment has frequently been made when the Member who made it did not desire that the House should adjourn at all; but wished for an opportunity to speak about the affairs of Greece or Spain, or some other subject. I plant myself upon the Records of the House; and, knowing that my Motion is meant in good faith, I will point out that Lord Palmerston has more than once spoken 20 or SO minutes on a similar Motion on foreign affairs, without once alluding to the reasons on which he proposed to ask the House to adjourn. The House has adjourned in order that a handful of Members might enjoy horse-racing. I now ask the House to adjourn for a higher purpose than that of going to Epsom Downs. They could adjourn over Wednesday, and I now ask them to exercise that privilege to-day for neces- 16 sary rest, and also that time may be allowed for the necessary research for information which may be useful to the House. Mr. Speaker has stated that without investigation he could not undertake to answer a Question which had been put to him. Mr. Speaker did not decide against me; he wisely avoided doing that lest, on the examination of precedents, he should find himself in error. The utterance from the Chair itself constitutes a justification for an adjournment in order that Mr. Speaker may have time to make the investigation necessary to fortify him in his desire to maintain the liberties of the House and of minorities. Never was a Motion for adjournment made on stronger grounds. I appeal to hon. Members to discharge their duty in the eyes of the country. ["Question!"] I have never in this House intentionally occupied a minute of its time for the purpose of hindering Public Business; but I have often spoken in this House, greatly to its displeasure, longer than they thought I ought to have done. This is too serious a matter to be taken up and dropped in a moment. This is not an ordinary Motion for adjournment; but one of an exceptionally grave character, and in making it I incur a grave responsibility. In taking this step, I know what the mind of the House is; but I believe that within a few years there will come forth a justification of my motive to-day, and that it will be believed, under the protection of the liberties of this House, it was within my right in moving, as I now do, that this House do now adjourn.
§ MR. SPEAKER
Before calling upon any hon. Member to second the Motion, I wish to remove an impression upon the mind of the hon. Member for Meath that I used language of menace. I used language, not of menace, but of caution.
§ MR. GRAY,
in seconding the Motion, said, that inasmuch as the course of procedure which had been adopted was one which would destroy many ancient precedents and privileges, at least some deliberation should be shown in adopting it. This was a matter which had come upon most Members of the House by surprise. If the House continued to sit and proceed with the ordinary Business, it would, in fact and essence, be coming to a conclusion upon the subject 17 raised by the Motion for adjournment, and that conclusion would bind their future action, although they had not had any opportunity of making themselves acquainted with what they were doing. Even hon. Members who wished to endorse what had been done might very reasonably support the demand for adjournment. Before hon. Members sacrificed rights and privileges, let them at least know what they were doing, and they did not profess to know at present.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—(Mr. A. M. Sullivan.)
Sir, the hon. Member for Meath invites us—and I am glad he does—to a discussion of the reasons for adjournment; but he introduced, I must say, into his speech many matters that might have been dispensed with. The reference to the conduct of former Speakers appeared to me to have nothing to do with the question of adjournment. The hon. Gentleman assures us of the rectitude of his motives. No one who has observed his conduct, either here or elsewhere, could for a moment doubt the rectitude of his motives. He assures us of his courage and willingness to face all the consequences of performing what he thinks his duty. Well, I believe, as well as hope, he will have no occasion for the exercise of that; nothing is more unlikely, and I see no prospect of it whatever. But I will put that aside, as he has put it aside himself. Another consideration has been offered by the hon. Member. He has stated that on various occasions Motions of adjournment have been moved, and speeches have been made upon those Motions having no relevancy to the subject of adjournment. I will not contest that allegation; but it is well known that while these Motions for adjournment have never been ruled to be absolutely disorderly, yet that such Motions are stigmatized by the universal opinion of this House as public nuisances. But the hon. Member has not himself abused this license, and I am not obliged to dwell upon it. What arguments has the hon. Gentlemen advanced in favour of adjournment? He professes to believe that twelve months hence the opinion of the public will be that the Motion for adjournment was perfectly 18 right. It is not to be expected that the House can be materially governed in its conduct of to-day by the prophecy of what will be public opinion on the proceeding of to-day twelve months hence. What other reason does he give us? The hon. Member spoke of the temper of the House, and alleged the tendency of a majority to domineer; and he asserts that the minority with which he acts has been suffering under this domineering tendency. But, so far as I know, the history of the last four weeks is that the minority has been master of the proceedings of the House, and the majority, until half-past 9 o'clock this morning—when it did not do anything for itself, but was helped from another quarter—lay helpless and hopeless in the hands of the minority. Whatever may be the temper of the majority of the House, the hon. Member clearly is not in a position to ascertain it. The majority has had no opportunity of doing any act, and has not done any act, by which its temper can be gathered. [Mr. PARNELL: Or its will.] It is easy, and it is a fashion growing in that quarter of the House to which I have just referred, to meet, by interruptions of this kind, expressions of opinion not only not Parliamentary but offensive, and by interjections that tend to create a divergence from the matter of debate. It is a great pity, I think, and I doubt if any benefit will arise to those who fall into the habit from its indulgence. I have simply to say, in reference to the observations of the hon. Member for Meath, that there is nothing to prove that the majority is unfit for the performance of its present duty. Throwing over or dispensing with the argument as to the temper of the majority, the hon. Member went on to contend that it was desirable to search for precedents in that matter, and that, in order to do so, the House ought to adjourn until to-morrow, or the day after, or some future day. Well, the argument for adjournment might be strong if it were proposed by a majority of the House, and if the precedents to be searched for related to the immediate Business in hand. But there are no circumstances of that kind to be considered. Because this is a question standing for a future day, and he thinks we are to make search for precedents, in order to be ready for that future day, why should he offer that as a conclusive 19 argument that we should do no Business in the interval? Our plea is, by all moans let precedents be searched for on important questions of Order, which should not be debated until the House and the Chair are prepared with information ready for their guidance. But why lose the intermediate time, and not go on with the ordinary Business? Such, I submit, is my view, looking at the argument used by the hon. Member. He spoke at length; but I think I have disposed of his argument with the few sentences I have ventured to put forward.
MR. J. COWEN
said, he did not rise for the purpose of unnecessarily prolonging the discussion; but he wished to state at once—whatever other Members did—that it was his intention to vote for the Resolution of his hon. Friend the Member for Meath (Mr. A. M. Sullivan). He (Mr. Cowen) had not moved a single Amendment, nor had he made one speech during all the prolonged Sittings of the House. Indeed, what was commonly called obstruction was to him extremely repulsive. There were circumstances when hon. Members were compelled to resort to such procedure, and he condemned no one who conceived it to be their duty to do so. But, still, his objection to such displays was very strong. Unless a rigid sense of duty pressed him into it, he never engaged in such physical encounters. He had a reverence for the British Parliament. It was the Temple of history and eloquence, of law and liberty. For 1,000 years it bad been the political and legislative sanctuary of a free people, and the cradle of the liberties of the modern world. It was much more worthy of admiration than the Pynx at Athens, or the Forum at Rome. Anything that detracted from its influence or weakened its reputation was to be deplored. He never could take part in any proceedings that brought the authority of the House into disrepute, and he regretted, therefore, sincerely that the Ministry had not seen their way to accept the compromise that the Irish Members had, at the early part of this long discussion, offered to them. But that opportunity having been allowed to pass, and the House having sat continuously for such a number of hours, he thought it was reasonable for them to ask for some respite before they re-commenced a serious debate. Their 20 tempers had been taxed; their strength had been strained; the whole atmosphere of the place had been excited, if not angered; and a few hours of rest would be of physical and mental service to all of them. It was unreasonable to suppose that men whose bodies and minds had been stretched for such a lengthened period could bring their faculties to bear upon an eventful controversy. Without entering into debatable questions, he appealed to his countrymen to remember that the Irish Members were in a very small minority —that they were fighting a battle which was to them one of life and death—and some allowance ought to be made for the very serious and difficult position in which they were placed. ["Oh, oh!"and "No, no !"] Hon. Gentlemen who uttered those exclamations surely did not want to drive the Irish people to desperation; and he was perfectly satisfied that, upon further consideration, and when removed from present excitement, they would admit the wisdom of the course he was suggesting. It was never the part of men of good sense, and certainly ought not to be that of professing legislators, to act in a passion. If they proceeded with their work in the temper they were then in, the result could not be satisfactory. A few hours' delay would enable them to come to the task before them with refreshed bodies and cooler heads, and he therefore urged the Government to yield to the demand that had been made to them by the hon. Member for Meath. But, whatever course the Ministers pursued, he, at least, was resolved to support the Motion before the House.
§ LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL
supported the Motion for the adjournment of the House. He did so with great reluctance; but he was obliged to confess that he thought the whole character of the situation had been changed by the Notice which had been given by the Prime Minister. The occurrences of the last 24 hours were unprecedented for two centuries of their Parliamentary history. The House, under the influence of those occurrences, was really hardly in a position to settle down to the calm and careful consideration of the measures of the Chief Secretary for Ireland. There was a section of the House which was greatly irritated, there was another considerable section of the House which 21 was greatly fatigued, and for his own part he believed there was a section of the House which was greatly alarmed. It was necessary that they should have some interval to recover from the excitement under which they had naturally been labouring before setting themselves to consider the remarkable proposal which the Prime Minister had announced for to-morrow, and in which the country was deeply concerned. It seemed to him that an adjournment would be highly advantageous, both as regarded the comfort of the House and the despatch of Business.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
said: I think it necessary to say a very few words with special reference to what has fallen from my noble Friend (Lord Randolph Churchill), in order that we may clearly understand the position in which we are placed. I quite understand the difficulties which have suggested themselves to my noble Friend; but I think the House must bear in mind the governing consideration of the situation. There can be no doubt the Government, in the course they have pursued, have proceeded with the assent and support of the House. Ever since the introduction of the Bill with regard to the Protection of Person and Property in Ireland, the Government have stated, and the House has accepted the statement, that the matter was one of urgency and importance; and on this ground we have given the Government possession of days which ordinarily are given to other Business. On that ground we stood by them in the debate which has taken place over the extraordinary period of three days, in order that they might proceed with this Bill; and it is on that ground we have supported the proceeding which has been adopted with regard to bringing this debate to a close. Looking at the matter as one of a singularly exceptional character, I do not dispute the right of the hon. Member for Meath and others taking the earliest opportunity open to them of discussing the question—the very important question—suggested by your action, Mr. Speaker, this morning. I do not dispute the propriety of that at all; yet I think we are in a position when we should, to a certain extent, stultify ourselves and bring about a false impression abroad if we were to suspend our proceedings with the Bill on which we are engaged. As we can- 22 not discuss other matters to-day, the question is, whether we should make use of the few hours remaining of Wednesday's Sitting for consideration of the second reading. I must say that I think the wise course — though I recognize fully the spirit of the objection—the wise course is to negative the Motion for. adjournment, and proceed to the discussion.
§ MR. SHAW
I do not wish in any way to criticize the action of my hon. Friends opposite, who have now occupied the attention of the House for so many days—they have all arrived at years of discretion, and are capable of judging for themselves. I think, looking at the whole case, the wise thing to do would be not to be frightened by the ugly words the right hon. Gentleman has just used—"stultify ourselves." Let us stultify ourselves, if it is right to stultify ourselves. In the present case it is certain that no practical advantage, but, on the contrary, evil, would result from the discussion being continued, as it no doubt will be, up to the usual hour of adjournment. I wish to impress upon the Government that I do not think they will effect any good purpose by forcing on the second reading of this Bill to-day. It will be with very great reluctance that I shall feel myself forced to vote for the adjournment of the House, because it is not for the credit of the House—it is not ultimately for the good of the Irish people—that we should do anything to turn the minds and feelings of the English people against the interests of Ireland. But I believe, as a matter of common sense and common tactics, the Government would be doing a wise thing in agreeing with the Motion for adjournment.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, he had not joined the hon. Gentlemen opposite in their obstructive tactics, and he had not voted on any Motions for the adjournment of the House; but he confessed that on the present occasion he intended to do so. It seemed to him that the House had before it two courses —either to "stultify" itself, or to "stupefy" itself. Although opposed to the Bill, he was open to conviction, and might possibly be converted by the speech which the Chief Secretary would, no doubt, make. But, owing to recent fatigue, he did not feel himself quite 23 equal to listening' with due attention to the observations of the right hon. Gentleman, and he had no doubt other hon. Members were in the same position. He hoped, therefore, the debate would be adjourned—especially as the House was to be asked to-morrow to consider a very remarkable occurrence—an occurrence, he believed, unparalleled since 1642. He did not believe the passing of the Bill would be at all hastened by the prolongation of the Sitting that afternoon.
§ MR. GIVAN
said, he had sat there during the entire of last night, and he found that when many hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House were exhausted, hon. Members opposite were ready to listen to reason and come to terms which, he thought, would be for the convenience of this House. He could assure hon. Members that what occurred in the House this morning would not be understood in Ireland save as a menace, and a disposition on the part of this House to crush the liberties of the Representatives of the Irish people. He entreated the House to let the Irish people see that, while it was determined to preserve Order, it would not in so doing sacrifice the interests of the Irish people to Party passions.
§ MR. A. MOORE
said, that those Irish Members who supported the present Government did so because they believed it to be the only Government that could and would settle the Irish Land Question, and they hoped the Government would accede to the Motion of the hon. Member for Meath for the adjournment. They could not avoid feeling that, after the painful scenes they had witnessed, the House was not in a fit condition immediately to proceed with the Business before it. He submitted that a very large number of hon. Members were not in a condition to continue the debate. It must not be forgotten that on this occasion the House was on its trial quite as much as hon. Members opposite were on theirs; and, therefore, he appealed to hon. Members to adopt a manly, English course, and not to exasperate the Irish Representatives by forcing on the second reading of this Bill.
§ MR. RITCHIE
said, the hon. Members who rose to support the Motion for the adjournment had advanced no arguments which had not been advanced by the hon. Member who made it. It 24 was well known that this Motion was not brought forward on account of any feeling of exhaustion on the part of hon. Members. The suggestion of the hon. Member for Meath, that hon. Members were too exhausted to continue the debate, was clearly an afterthought after he had been ruled out of Order in several ineffectual attempts to introduce all kinds of irrelevant matters; and the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouehore), who supported the Motion for the adjournment on the ground that hon. Members were exhausted, had inadvertently admitted that he was in bed at 9 o'clock that morning, and, therefore, he could not be very much exhausted. He recommended the hon. Member to listen for a little while longer, or else to go home, and he could then return refreshed to listen to the continuance of the debate on the second reading. The House was not asked to come to a decision on the second reading of the Bill to-day, and surely there was nothing to prevent the Minister in charge of the Bill from laying before that House his reasons for introducing the measure and from describing its provisions.
§ MR. DAWSON
said, he had pointed out on a previous occasion that the question that was involved by the proceedings which Her Majesty's Government had thought fit to take was one which related to the liberty of speech of hon. Members of that House. He should support the Motion now before the House, for he considered the question one of a most momentous character. [The hon. Member proceeded to cite at length the proceedings in the case of Sir John Eliot, at the commencement of the troubles of the reign of Charles I., as narrated by Hallam in his Constitutional History, chap. 8, by which the freedom of speech in Parliament had been successfully vindicated.] Upon that occasion the first decision of the House of Commons had been reversed—he trusted the proceedings of this House upon the present occasion would not be subjected to a similar reversal. Some considerable amount of courage was now required on the part of hon. Members before they dared express their opinions, and he could only hope that he could state his views to the House on this question with safety.
§ MR. SPEAKER
reminded the hon. Member that any attempt to call in ques- 25 tion the proceedings of that House was out of Order.
§ MR. DAWSON
said, he had no desire to call in question any decision of the Speaker—all he desired was to address the House on a great Constitutional question—that of the right of hon. Members to freedom of speech. He earnestly appealed to the House to take warning, by the occurrences to which he had sought to direct its attention, not to pass in a time of passion a Resolution which, in its calmer moments, it would desire to rescind.
§ MR. ONSLOW
said, that, having been witness of the unfortunate scenes which had taken place within the last two days, he wished to record his protest against the remarks of the noble Lord below the Gangway (Lord Randolph Churchill). He looked on this question as entirely out of the range of Party politics; it was a very grave national question. Therefore, he and others near him had put themselves to great inconvenience, and gave the warmest support to Her Majesty's Government in the course they had adopted. Although he was considered a Tory, he believed that, in doing so, they would carry the country with them, and that there was no way out of that difficulty unless there was united action of both the great Parties in that House. It was a frivolous excuse to say they ought to adjourn because hon. Members were exhausted, for he had seen them night after night carrying on the discussion, notwithstanding their exhaustion—as a matter of fact, no Member had ever seen so many Members present at Prayers on a Wednesday as were seen present in the House that Wednesday morning. It might seem ludicrous to say that it was the duty of the Conservatives to support the Government and to cheer the remarks of the right hon. Gentle-tleman the Member for Birmingham (Mr. John Bright). The hon. Member who had just addressed them had talked much about asserting the freedom of discussion; but he (Mr. Onslow) asserted that there had been plenty of freedom of discussion, and that hon. Members below the Gangway had abused that privilege and strained the patience of the House. In conclusion, he put it to the Prime Minister whether, as the House had ruled that precedence should be given to these Bills over all other 26 Business, it would not be necessary temporarily to rescind that decision before the right hon. Gentleman brought forward the Resolution which he intended to move to-morrow respecting the Business of the House? He hoped that all Members on that side of the House would unite in supporting the Government, not alone in the interest of this country but of that of Ireland itself.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said, he proposed on that occasion to vote with the Government and to follow the lead of the late Chancellor of the Exchequer. He wished, however, to notice a remark of the last speaker, who appeared to think that his noble Friend (Lord Randolph Churchill) was a less strenuous supporter of the Government in regard to the measures proposed to be taken than he was himself. There was no truth in that supposition. His noble Friend, he could state, had hitherto steadily supported the Government on all occasions on that Bill, and intended to do so in the future. If his noble Friend supported an adjournment now, it was because he thought they were hardly in a position to go on with the discussion of the second reading of a Coercion Bill, seeing that that discussion was to be interrupted to-morrow by a debate with respect to the Rules of the House. There could be no doubt that this was an argument of great weight; and though he was prepared to assist the Government in managing the Business of the House in their own way, he could not anticipate that much time would be gained by beginning a debate on a Wednesday which was to be interrupted on the Thursday.
§ MR. HEALY
said, the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister had referred to hon. Gentlemen who moved the adjournments on occasions like this as "public nuisances." It might be that he and his hon. Friends near him were "public nuisances;" but, if so, they were "public nuisances" in conjunction with the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, who, on a former occasion, took the very course they were now taking by moving the adjournment of the House in connection with the question of capital punishment; and he should like to know whether the right hon. Gentleman was, in the opinion of the Prime Minister, a "public nuisance?" 27 He maintained that it was not a greater offence against Order to interrupt a Cabinet Minister than to interrupt any other Member of the House; and before the Prime Minister attempted to address lectures to that side of the House, he ought to lecture the hon. Gentlemen who were under his own control. ["Question!"] They had gone through a continuous Sitting of 48 hours—ho had himself been in the House the whole of those 48 hours, with the exception of five hours for necessary sleep— and, therefore, on the ground of cruelty to animals alone, they were entitled to demand an adjournment.
§ MR. MORGAN LLOYD
said, that though the last speaker and other hon. Members complained of fatigue, they were quite prepared to go on with the debate on the question of adjournment, and the Mover of the adjournment, and also the hon. Member for Cork City, were ready to discuss the Question of Privilege at any length, notwithstanding their fatigue. The reason given for not proceeding with the debate on the Bill was not the real one. The object of the Motion was to protest against the action of the Speaker, and, indirectly, to raise the Question of Privilege which had been declared out of Order. The hon. and learned Member for Meath (Mr. A. M. Sullivan) had risen to question the ruling of the Speaker, and expressed his intention to go as far in that direction on the present Motion as the Rules of the House would allow. He, therefore, looked upon the Motion as a protest against the action of the Speaker, and, as such, he would resist it.
§ MR. MITCHELL HENRY
said, there was a reason which had not yet been given for an adjournment, and which he hoped would commend itself to Her Majesty's Ministers—it was that the hon. Gentlemen whose sense of duty had brought the House to this pass might have time to reflect on the consequences of their conduct. For the first time in the history of the House they had insured such a limitation of the rights of minorities, and therefore such an assault on the privileges of the country which they represented, as no future services could possibly atone for. They had chosen as the battle-ground of this fight a totally untenable position, in which nobody could support them who was prepared to admit that 28 in a deliberative Assembly the will of the majority must ultimately prevail. Instead of reserving their exertions for the substance of the Bill—which he disliked as much as they did—they had taken the most serious issue on mere questions for adjournment, and they never spoke to the Amendment of the hon. Member for Dublin (Dr. Lyons), that remedial measures ought to precede coercion. They had entirely misapprehended the spirit of Parliamentary institutions, which he conceived to mean that every Member was free to express his own mind, and that, having done so, the minority should yield to the majority. The hon. Member for Cork City announced that what he asked for was that the debate should be adjourned for a particular length of time. [Mr. PAR-NELL dissented.] The hon. Member was constantly in the habit of denying in that House what every hon. Member could be called as a witness to.
§ MR. CALLAN
rose to Order. He wished to know whether the hon. Member for Galway was in Order in imputing direct falsehood to the hon. Member for the City of Cork?
§ MR. SPEAKER
This interposition is highly illustrative of the value of the Pule which prescribes that no reference shall be made to former debates. The hon. Member for Galway was referring to a past debate, and, therefore, he was not in Order.
§ MR. MITCHELL HENRY
said, he had not referred to a former debate; he referred to the whole course of events preceding the introduction of the Bill, and did not think that by doing so he was contravening any of the Rules of the House. He had given as a reason for the adjournment, that hon. Members opposite required time to consider the consequences of their conduct, and the way in which they had sacrificed the rights of their country. What had now happened had been prophesied by the late Mr. Butt, who had said that in time obstruction would exhaust the patience of Parliament, and would bring about the introduction of some such Notice as that now on the Paper. As the debate could occupy only three hours more, he appealed to the Government to allow an adjournment, especially as the remainder of the Sitting could easily be spent in dilatory speaking. As for the Notice on the Paper, 29 he should jealously watch all attempts to abridge the liberties of debate; but he could not forget the ill-considered— and, he might add, ill-tempered—action that had rendered the Government proposals necessary. They only impeded the course which he and others wished to adopt in fighting for the real interests and liberties of Ireland.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
presumed that the hon. Member for Galway was thinking of England when he suggested that patience would be exhausted by obstruction. The patience of the Irish people would never be exhausted by hon. Members who truly represented them. But did the hon. Member truly represent any part of the Irish people? That was a question for the people themselves. He could only say that if the hon. Member would accept the Chiltern Hundreds he would do the same, and the men of Galway should choose which of them they pleased. He would then find out what kind of Members the people of Ireland wanted. The hon. Member knew that he misrepresented the feelings of his constituency. ["Order!" "Question!"]
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
rose to Order, and asked whether the remarks of the hon. Member had anything to do with the Question of adjournment?
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, that the hon. Member was travelling wide of the Question before the House, which was the Motion for adjournment, and he must call upon him to confine himself to it more closely.
§ MR T. P. O'CONNOR
said, that if he had travelled wide of the Question, he had done so under considerable temptation; but he could not resist the temptation of answering the hon. Member for Galway County. But why had the Chief Secretary for Ireland sat silent whilst the Member for Galway himself travelled from the Question before the House? The Chief Secretary would not stop remarks out of Order that he was in favour of, although he would attempt to stop remarks he was hostile to. It had been said that the action of the Home Rule Party would curtail the liberties of the Irish people. He had no fear of any such result; but believed, on the other hand, that the verdict of history would be given against those who had taken the high-handed proceedings of that morning. The object of his hon. Friend 30 was to provide safeguards for the liberty of free discussion. ["Order!"]
§ MR. SPEAKER
I have again to inform the hon. Member that the Motion before the House is simply for the adjournment of the House, and the hon. Member is going very wide of that Question.
§ MR T. P. O'CONNOR
said, in that case, he would pass to another phase of the question. The hon. Member also made another extraordinary statement—that all the proceedings on those Benches on which he sat had been confined to Motions for adjournment. He did not know whether he was in Order in referring to the debate, even in this cursory form; but he would probably be allowed the same latitude as that accorded to hon. Members on the other side. For his part, in reply to that allegation, he would say that he never proposed or seconded a Motion for adjournment since he had been in that House. ["Oh, oh!"] He stated the fact, and the Records of the House would show whether it was true or not Even the right hon. Gentleman himself could not wisely support the Motion before the House. ["Oh, oh !"] He would certainly be able to do more justice to whatever Business he might have to bring in if he had an opportunity of recovering that equanimity he had lost in the course of the discussion just passed. It would be greatly to the advantage of the just and temperate conduct and of the curtailment of debates, if, in his remarks in proposing any Business Motion he might bring forward, he would do so in a somewhat better temper and in somewhat better taste than such as he thought fit to indulge in on the last occasion. Nothing was more calculated to cause exasperation and to prolong debates than ill-tempered and indiscreet observations on the part of the responsible Ministers entrusted with the conduct of the Business of that House. If he (Mr. O'Connor) thought that he had any chance of a just or fair hearing from hon. Members in that House, he would be quite willing to proceed with the consideration of the Bill then, as he felt quite able to demolish any case the right hon. Gentleman would bring forward in support of any proposal on the subject. However, a certain proportion of hon. Members were in a state of exhaustion and irritation, and the Business could not be properly 31 conducted under such circumstances; so that it was better on all hands that an adjournment should be granted.
§ MR. J. W. PEASE
said, he was at a loss to know what argument had been used in favour of adjournment since the Prime Minister answered most effecttively the arguments of the hon. and learned Member for Meath (Mr. A. M, Sullivan). History repeated itself in the most extraordinary way. The progress made in Public Business since the meeting of the House reminded him of a letter by Charles I. Charles, writing to the Duke of Buckingham in 1626, said—As to newes, I can say but litell yet, Yrland being the onlie egg we have yet sitten upon, and, having a thike shell, wee have not yet hached it.It would seem, indeed, that Ireland had a very thick shell. Irish Members did not seem to see that they were standing in the way of the Land Bill. The House had witnessed a curious combination. They had seen the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill) unite with the hon. Member for Cork City, who had also been joined by the hon. Member for Newcastle-on-Tyne. That was a strange combination; and such combinations never lasted—their only effect was to delay Public Business. The duty of the Government was to restore order in Ireland, and until that was done no progress could be made with other legislation.
§ MR. O'DONNELL
said, the hon. Member who had just spoken had commented on a curious combination presented to the House. What did the hon. Member, Liberal as he was, say to the strange combination of the Liberal and Conservative Parties for the sole purpose of destroying the freedom of the Irish people? It was not merely or principally owing to the exhaustion of the Irish Members that he asked for an adjournment; he asked for it generally in fulfilment of the pledge of the Government, that, at any rate on this proposed stage of the Coercion Bill, the Irish Members would have the fullest opportunity of considering the proposals of the Government. So far as regarded the facts of the case, the Irish Members were in the same disadvantageous position as when the Ministerial proposal was first brought forward. No additional statistics had been placed in their 32 hands. Even those relating to the alleged outrages in November and December, on which the Government rested their entire case, were not yet forth-coming. It was unfair—it was a violation of Ministerial pledges—to proceed with the Coercion Bill without placing in the hands of the Irish Members the means of checking any statement which the Chief Secretary might be instructed by the permanent staff of Dublin Castle to make to the House. If hon. Members filled up the time to a quarter to 6, the right hon. Gentleman's statements, however inflammatory and denouncing the condition of Ireland, would go forth entirely unanswered, the Irish Members being without the opportunity of correcting or controlling the exaggerations of the Chief Secretary. The Government ought not to snap such an unfair advantage. Further, he asked for a reasonable delay in order that facilities might be given for a reference to precedents, which had become necessary by the Speaker's recent ruling, and by the Notice of Resolution which had recently been given. It was necessary that the Government should give full facilities for the discussion of that Motion. Moreover, there were grave doubts whether the first reading had been validly taken. They were determined to test the validity of the important proceedings which had taken place; and, with that grave Constitutional doubt hanging over their proceedings, it was neceesary that the Government should proceed with great caution, for if the House should decide that the ruling was invalid, it might become the duty of a great Constitutional authority, when the Bill reached "another place," to inquire whether the Bill had regularly passed through the House.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
said, he had boon considering, since his right hon. Friend's speech, what additional reasons might be given for the adjournment; and the hon. Member who had just sat down had certainly given one reason—that time was required in order to question the decision which the Speaker had given. But the ruling from the Chair had already disposed of the argument that the House ought to postpone its Business until the question of what had happened that morning had been disposed of. The hon. Member seemed to think that if they were now to go on with the 33 second reading of the Protection Bill, he (Mr. Forster) might occupy the remainder of the Sitting by making a statement which the Irish Members would have no opportunity of replying to. Now, he might inform the hon. Member that he did not wish to trespass on the attention of the House. He might at once say that he considered it to be desirable for the convenience of the House and of the country that he should have the opportunity of making that explanation which was generally given on the second reading of an important Bill, even after the discussion on the first reading. He thought it desirable that he should explain the provisions of the Bill, and answer some of the objections which had been made to it; but he certainly did not think it would be necessary for him to occupy any great length of time. [Several MEMBERS: The Bill is not printed yet.] If hon. Gentlemen opposite had applied at the office in the Lobby, they would have had no difficulty in procuring copies of the Bill. They were very well acquainted with the provisions of the Bill. If hon. Members would take a short turn into the Lobby, they would find the Bill almost word for word as he had stated on the first reading. Of the arguments used in favour of adjournment there was one on which he would wish good-humouredly to say a word. Hon. Members alleged that he was in such a bad temper that he could not make a statement without saying something that would affront their feelings and violate the courtesies of the House. That reminded him of the old story of the Wolf and the Lamb —the Wolf telling the Lamb what a ferocious individual he was, and that he must fight him and put an end to his existence. Well, he had made no remarks for some time, except in a very brief reply to the hon. Member for Dungarvan (Mr. O'Donnell), and it was rather gratuitous for hon. Members to say he was in such a state of irritation that he could not make a short statement without losing his temper. He did not know whether he was in a good temper or not, but he never felt in a better temper. Neither was the House in an electrical state; it seemed very calm, and capable of giving due consideration to any question that might be brought before it. And as to the signs of exhaustion, he saw none—certainly none in hon. Mem- 34 bers opposite. But the chief argument for adjournment was that they had been debating the question so long that they ought not to debate it any longer. That meant that the matter having been under debate since the beginning of the Session, and it being acknowledged and believed by a majority of the House that the Bill was of a very urgent character, and ought to be at once proceeded with, and hon. Members having thought fit to attempt to delay its passage, and succeeded in their attempt so long that it was only that morning the first stage was obtained—all that was an argument for still further delay. If the Government were to assent to such an argument, it would be like acknowledging before the House and the country that they did not consider the Bill urgent. They did consider it urgent; and if they did not, their course that Session would be most unjustifiable. That being the case, he must appeal to the House to allow them to proceed with the Bill without further delay.
§ MR. PARNELL
said, that the attempt of the Chief Secretary to present himself in the new character of a Lamb had not been very successful; for though his speech that day was very lamblike, the Bill for which the right hon. Gentleman claimed urgency was certainly not of a lamblike character, and Irish Members had no desire to intrust themselves and their constituencies to the lamblike tenderness of the right hon. Gentleman. Appeals of the most piteous kind had been made to the Government by that unfortunate part of the Irish Party which followed the Government—the Ulster Members and those who followed them—to consent to the adjournment of the debate. He could not help thinking it was heaping insult on injury on the heads of that small, unhappy, and devoted Party that the Government should not assent to their proposal. But every appeal of the hon. Member for the County of Cork (Mr. Shaw) and his Friends from the North of Ireland had been rejected without the slightest consideration. They had asked that concession should precede coercion, and the reply was that coercion should precede concession. They had asked that, at least, the Government should introduce their Land Bill before taking the second reading of the measure of coercion, and the reply to that had been that the 35 measure for coercion should pass to its second reading before any indication of the lines of the Land Bill would be given to the House. Finally, it asked the Government, in return for all its self-sacrifice, that this debate should be adjourned, and the reply to this request was first by silence on the part of the Government, and afterwards by a decided refusal. It might have been supposed that they had done something to entitle them to some little consideration to their requests. But, no; the hon. Member for Cork County and those other Members from the North of Ireland who had attached themselves to the skirts of the Government found themselves without having obtained one single concession, even the most trivial one of all—the time of the House for a period of four hours. He thought that this should be a warning—this refusal to adjourn — coming, as it did, upon many of their refusals, it should be a warning to those hon. Members who forgot their Election pledges, that although they might attempt to destroy the integrity of the Irish Party, they would get no concessions from the Government. He would ask the Government to consider whether, after all, there was anything to be gained by refusing the very reasonable Motion for the adjournment of the House? They had come to the end of a Sitting which some Members considered exhausting, others did not. They had had a great deal of discussion as to whether the Sitting-should be prolonged or not, and a great deal of angry feeling had been excited on both sides. They had had one or two intensely painful scenes, which nobody regretted more than the Irish Members, though he felt they were not in any way attributable to them. They did not desire to excite bad feeling, stir up passion, or utter a word which would lead to recrimination or angry discussion, and he was happy to say that all these long hours of day and night had elapsed, and that no excuse was given by Irish Members for angry feeling. The Government, having at last obtained the first reading of their Bill, might have rested for a few hours, and given Members time to consider the situation and the Bill, which had not even been printed. He ventured to think the course of the Government entirely unprecedented, if not disorderly. In times past, when Members attempted to 36 obtain the second reading of their Bills, the Speaker gave his ruling that to take the second reading before the Bills were printed was entirely irregular, if not disorderly. What was the history connected with the printing and circulation of the Bill? On Saturday morning last they found that a Bill had been issued pur-porting to be a Bill for the Protection of Life and Property in Ireland; but immediately after its issue a notice was circulated by the Queen's Printers that this Bill had been cancelled, and from the speeches of the Prime Minister and of the Chief Secretary they were led to believe that the course of the debate had changed the mind of the Government in respect to certain important particulars in that Bill, and that the Bill would be altered in those particulars. They, consequently, to that day were loft entirely without any guide as to what the nature of the Bill was. They certainly could not take the Bill which was followed by a notice from the Queen's Printers that it had been cancelled as the one which the Government now wished to press to a second reading.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
The text is exactly the same. What I said on the occasion referred to by the hon. Member was that the Bill issued was almost word for word, if not precisely the same, as what I read out in my opening speech on Monday week. There is no difference in it, only I did not read quite the whole of it.
§ MR. PARNELL
said, they knew now, then, that the Bill which they were asked to take the second reading of and the Bill issued on Saturday morning and afterwards stated to be cancelled were the same. That was the first intimation they had had of the fact; and was it fair to ask them to proceed with the discussion of a measure which they had not seen, and which only now they knew to be the same as the Bill issued on Saturday morning? It had always been the custom of the House to allow a few days' interval before the second reading of a Bill was taken; and certainly a Bill of this character ought to form no exception to that general and most salutary rule. Therefore it was that they were now asking the House to follow its ancient custom and to adjourn for that purpose. He felt that the House were wasting every hour of the time which they devoted to the consi- 37 deration of that Coercion Bill, and throwing fresh obstacles in the way of the restoration of law and order in Ireland, so far as it required restoring. The Prime Minister said that Motions for adjournment were "public nuisances." Further, there was another old-established precedent, that Members speaking to a Motion for the adjournment of the House were allowed considerable latitude. He recollected the time when the noble Marquess opposite (the Marquess of Hartington) came down to the House prepared to move its adjournment, not with a bonâ fide intention of adjourning, but in order to raise a debate on a matter affecting Lord Lytton's policy. If the noble Marquess had carried out that intention, he would have been one of the "public nuissances" described by the Prime Minister. The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster had himself moved the adjournment of the House when he was dissatisfied with the answer he had received to a Question. He denied that the majority of the House had been at the mercy of the minority. The things which the minority had done within the last few days had the express sanction of the Speaker and the late Chairman of Committees (Mr. Raikes) in the evidence they gave before the Select Committee on Public Business, which sat in 1877, and of which he was himself a Member. That Select Committee went into the question of Obstruction, and it was distinctly laid down by both of the high authorities to whom he had referred that minorities were perfectly entitled to use all the Forms of the House in order to oppose, prevent, and obstruct the passage of particular measures; that that was not an obstruction which was an offence against the common law of Parliament, but that the obstruction which was such an offence was obstruction offered to the general Business of the House—obstruction to a great number of measures. Minorities were justified in using or straining all the Forms of the House against particular measures, and the right of a minority to use all the Forms of the House against the particular measures to which they were opposed was not intended to be assailed by the Rules which had been adopted. He did not say that the House was not perfectly entitled, if it pleased, to adopt new Rules to limit the opposition offered 38 by minorities to a particular measure; but it was not fair to make charges against a minority of obstructing a particular measure as long as they acted in accordance with the Rules of the House as laid down by the highest authorities in that or probably any other country. He and his hon. Friends had always been desirous of acting within the Rules of the House; and if the House desired to pass more stringent Regulations, if it desired to limit minorities in their obstruction to particular measures, then he invited the Government to bring forward Rules and Regulations for the purpose, and subject them to full and fair debate. If, after such debate, their proposals were accepted by the House, he would be willing to observe them; but it was extremely unfair for right hon. Gentlemen to get up and charge the members of the minority with an offence against the common law of Parliament when they were conforming both to the spirit and to the letter of the Rules. Let them limit minorities if they chose, but limit them by rule, and not by one-sided, partial, and unfair attacks against a minority who were desirous of acting according to the Rules on every occasion, but, above all, desirous of protecting the liberties of their constituents and their country. He had been charged by the hon. Member for County Galway (Mr. Mitchell Henry) with having said the other night that the debate ought to have been adjourned at a particular time, and should have been closed the following night; and the hon. Gentleman had also accused him of denying everything that he had said on every occasion. Now, what he had actually said on Monday night was, that probably it would be possible to come to a division on the Motion on Tuesday night. He had merely expressed an opinion which any Member of the House might express, that it would be possible to come to a division on the question on Tuesday night—after one more Sitting— and he still thought it would have been possible to have done so on Tuesday, and to have taken the first reading of the Bill, if the Government had agreed to it; in which case they would now have been engaged in discussing the second reading with calm minds and equable tempers. He regretted that other counsels had prevailed. He regretted 39 the scenes which had occurred in the House last night and that morning. He could conceive that English Members might have been almost exasperated with the Irish Members, thinking that they were indirectly the cause of those scenes. All he could say was that he was exceedingly sorry that some Members of the House should have misbehaved themselves last night; but they were not Irish Members. The Irish Members had always endeavoured to conduct the debates of the House with calmness and with a judicial—["Question!"]—
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, that the hon. Gentleman must surely be aware that he was now discussing a former debate.
§ MR. PARNELL,
in conclusion, trusted that the Government, in response to the appeals which had been made to them from all sides of the House, would, even at the eleventh hour, consent to adjourn that debate in order that they might to-morrow discuss the now Pules of which the Prime Minister had given Notice.
§ MR. WARTON
said, he had no intention to make a speech like the Irish Members He had not at command the materials which they possessed—he had neither a pile of papers in his hands nor a quart of water. The Irish Members had a motive for wishing to adjourn the House which their native modesty prevented them from stating. They had engagements which were even more interesting than their attendance in the House, because he learnt from The Times that today a vigorous anti-coercion agitation was to be commenced out-of-doors, and that the campaign was to begin with the holding of eight public meetings in various parts of London. The Gentlemen announced to speak at those meetings included Mr. A. M. Sullivan the Mover of the adjournment, Mr. Biggar—
§ MR. DALY
appealed to the common sense and good feeling of the Government to allow the adjournment to take place now. No satisfactory discussion could take place on the second reading of the Bill now that the Sitting was so near its close. He held that the Chief Secretary for Ireland had inflamed public opinion 40 against them, and so prevented the Irish Question from taking the fair place it should in the public estimation He further complained that the manner in which the debate had been managed had precluded the possibility of the utterances of Irish Members going forth to the public, these prolonged Night Sittings giving them no opportunity of being reported. The hon. Member was proceeding to refer to reasons which, to his mind, called for the adjournment of the debate, when—
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, the hon. Member was going beyond the Question immediately before the House, which was the adjournment of the debate.
§ MR. FINIGAN
said, he was surprised that the Chief Secretary for Ireland, after making a somewhat peaceable response to the speech of the hon. Member for the City of Cork, should not have assented to his proposition. But he found that the Government was actuated by the same spirit at the end of this debate as it had been in the beginning. He had heard no arguments yet why the House should not adjourn; but he had heard many why it should. It was well known that the Bill had neither been printed nor placed in the hands of Members; then how could they be asked to judge of any Bill they had not seen? Until the Coercion Bill was printed, and until Returns of agrarian crime in Ireland for November and December last were laid upon the Table, the Chief Secretary had, he contended, no right to ask the House to surrender the rights and liberties of a large portion of Her Majesty's subjects.
§ SIR JOSEPH M'KENNA
would not say that a great number of people had anything to fear from this Bill being passed into law; but it was put forward on the part of the Government that it was a Bill for striking terror into a certain class of people. If that were the case, the House would not suffer much if the Bill was allowed to pass through all its stages in something like the period given to Bills of so important a character. Whatever might have been the 41 motives which originated the distribution of the Bill which was not now be-fore the House, but which was cast with the same objects in view as the one now proposed, the fact certainly afforded a sufficient reason to him why he should not be asked now to give his assent to the second reading of this other Bill which bad only now been placed in his hands. The present state of the House was suggestive. All the Chiefs of the Opposition were absent—he supposed those right hon. Gentlemen had washed their hands of the whole affair. Few Members of the Government were present— there were only the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Mr. John Bright), the Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Richard Grosvenor), the Lord Advocate, and the Solicitor General for Ireland on the Treasury Bench. That, he thought, was an insufficient representation of the Government on an occasion such as the present. He freely admitted that his wish was to talk out the second reading of the Bill; but he was suffering from cold, and was afraid his physical ability would not last up to a quarter to 6. However, he had no doubt some of his hon. Friends would second his endeavours to gain time for consideration. He certainly would not vote to-day on the second reading of the Bill, inasmuch as a proper opportunity had not been allowed for discussion. He admitted that he had not even read the Bill a first time yet; but he had heard that it was to have retrospective action, and, therefore, it cast a very black shadow before it.
I rise to a point of Order. I ask you, Sir, whether it is competent to discuss the Bill under cover of a Motion for adjournment?
§ MR. SPEAKER
The remarks of the hon. Member, so far as they go in that direction, are quite out of Order.
§ SIR JOSEPH M'KENNA
did not consider he was discussing the Bill in a sense to justify the hon. Member rising to Order. It was impossible to adduce reasons for adjournment without referring, in a general way, to the nature and character of the measure, to show that the second reading should not be hurried through the House. [The hon. Member, having addressed some further remarks to the House, was called to Order by Mr. SPEAKER, and sat down.]
thought it would be impossible for anyone who went into the Library of the House and perused the records of debates during times of great excitement, and saw the details of encounters between political opponents sitting on the different sides of that House, not to come to the conclusion that there was a tendency now to limit the freedom of discussion growing up in the House. Nothing was more common than for an hon. Member to rise to a point of Order, and when he had obtained audience he had no point of Order to submit; but still he gained his object by interrupting the speaker before the House—
having continued his address for a few minutes amid continued interruption, concluded by stating his conviction that unanswerable reasons had been declared in favour of the adjournment of the debate, as it was proposed to enter at once upon a discussion vitally affecting the liberty of the people of Ireland.
§ MR. DILLON
said, the Prime Minister had himself stated that he expected on the second reading of the Bill a discussion which would extend over several nights. He, therefore, could not see what object he had in refusing the adjournment of the debate.
§ MR. LEAMY
said, he had obtained a copy of the Coercion Bill from the Bill Office, but found it was dated the 31st January. This, then, was the same Bill they had been informed had been cancelled. Under all the circumstances, he thought the Government would be acting rightly if they consented to the adjournment.
§ MR. O'SULLIVAN
thought that the Government should be satisfied with having got the first reading of the Bill that day, and not to try to force it any further.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR,
in sup-porting the Motion for adjournment, said, the whole situation of the House and the authority of the Chair would be discussed at the next Sitting, and he, for one, felt that the liberty of speech, for which the House had so long struggled, was not as secure as it used to be. When, in the time of Charles I., Sir John Eliot and Sir Dudley Digges were committed to 43 the Tower, the House resolved not to proceed with any Business until their liberties were vindicated. That was the precedent that ought to be followed on the present occasion.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 44; Noes 278: Majority 234.—(Div. List, No. 20.)
§ House adjourned at Six o'clock.