§ MR. O'DONNELL
, in rising to call attention to the proceedings in Committee on the Peace Preservation (Ireland) Bill, on Tuesday March 8th, with regard to Order; and to move—That Mr. Chairman of Committees was under an erroneous impression in informing the Committee that the Member for Dungarvan was disregarding the authority of the Chair;said, that he understood that an hon. Member in his absence had taken occasion to reflect upon the course he had taken in leaving the Motion of which he had given Notice standing so long upon the Notice Paper. He desired, in the first place, therefore, to explain that he had postponed his Motion from time to time purely out of respect for the convenience of the House; and that he should greatly regret if the fact of his having kept his Motion so long upon the Notice Paper were to be interpreted into an act of discourtesy to the Chairman of Committees. He also desired to say that in placing that Notice upon the Paper he had carefully avoided language which could, in any sense, be regarded as conveying an imputation upon the justice or the righteous intentions of the Chairman of Committees. Under the stimulus and spur of the exasperation which he had felt at the most unprovoked and undeserved indignity which was put upon him, he admitted that he did use towards the Chairman of Committees words implying that that right hon. Gentleman had made an unjust and unfair use of the power which was intrusted to him. He now wished that it should be clearly understood that he by no means persisted in that statement, and that he was convinced that the conduct of the Chairman of Committees was not actuated by a desire to act unfairly or unjustly, but that it arose entirely out of an erroneous impression as to the course he was about to take on the occasion. Having regard to the importance 1516 of the question, and to the necessity of having it answered fairly, he would state, in as few words as possible, the part he took in the proceedings in Committee on the Peace Preservation (Ireland) Bill on Tuesday, the 8th of March. So far from taking any active part in the discussion of the 8th instant, he only spoke once during the whole evening, and that was for five minutes, in support of a suggestion of an hon. Member to make an Amendment in the clause before the Committee, and which was substantially accepted by the Home Secretary, who had charge of the Bill. Therefore, upon whatever ground his persistent action against the Coercion Bills might have led to the supposition that he was engaging in obstructive tactics, or disregarding the authority of the Chair, on this particular occasion, at all events, there was no ground for any such supposition. It was in support of the Amendment he had previously spoken to, and in the absence of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary—who had, he believed, been most constant in his attendance and most conciliatory in his demeanour to the Irish Members—it was in the temporary absence of the right hon. Gentleman that the hon. Member for Ennis (Mr. Finigan) rose, and it was in connection with the speech of that hon. Member that he (Mr. O'Donnell) came in conflict with the Chair. Directly the hon. Member rose he was received with persistent cries of "Oh, oh!" "Divide!" and other clamorous expressions from hon. Members on the other side of the House. He did not intend in any way to justify the words then used by the hon. Member for Ennis, neither did he intend to contravene the ruling of the Chairman of Committees. He merely rose to a point of Order, nod he believed he would have been able to place some valuable evidence before the Chairman of Committees. He rose, according to the report in the Standard, to speak to a point of Order, and said that—Mr. O'Connell, in this House, applied to Members of the Tory Party (cries of Order). I am speaking to Order. Mr. Chairman said, 'I have already given my ruling that the hon. Member (Mr. Finigan) must withdraw the two words which he has used.'He (Mr. O'Donnell) instantly sat down, although he considered that he had important evidence to give upon the very 1517 language which was used by the hon. Member for Ennis, and evidence which would have prevented any serious misconception afterwards. He, however, sat down, and consequently there could be no blame resting on him with regard to his rising on a point of Order. He accepted the ruling of the Chair; but he was still under the impression that if he had been allowed by a cessation of clamour to state his point, the Chairman would have seen the appropriateness of his remarks. The hon. Member for Ennis then sought to offer some explanation of his conduct, and he was under the impression that the right hon. Gentleman would gladly have listened to his explanation; because he believed that when an hon. Member was accused of making certain statements, the Chairman of Committees always pushed indulgence towards the accused to the extreme, and allowed him every opportunity of explaining his conduct. The Speaker would recollect that upon a recent occasion he (Mr. O'Donnell) rose to Order with regard to the words applied by the Solicitor General for Ireland to the Irish Members. That hon. and learned Gentlemen had said that some expressions used by Irish Gentlemen were insolent. The Speaker, however, declined to act upon his (Mr. O'Donnell's) statement that such words were used. He asked the hon. and learned Gentleman when he had used the words. It was only on the admission of the Solicitor General that he ruled that the phrase "insolent" was out of Order, and must be withdrawn. In the same way, he was quite sure that the hon. Member for Ennis, if he had succeeded in causing his words to reach the Chair, would have had most courteous indulgence on that occasion. The hon. Member, however, was received, as he, (Mr. O'Donnell) was received a few moments before, by a continuous clamour from a body of hon. Members below the Gangway on the opposite side of the House. Since the adoption of the Urgency Rules, hon. Gentlemen opposite had adopted a new phase in which to express disapproval of the observations of an hon. Member; whenever an hon. Member on the Irish Benches rose they now shouted, "Name him, name him, name him!" Now, that was not only most distracting and confusing to an hon. Member seeking to address the House, but it 1518 was most disrespectful and discourteous to the hon. Gentleman who was speaking and to the presiding authority; for it should be left to this authority alone to decide at which moment the penal powers placed in his hands by the judgment of the House should be exercised; and cries of "Name him, name him!" proceeding from every quarter of the House had the appearance of dictation to the Chair. He had, therefore, on that occasion sought to point out to the presiding authority that, however disrespectful and discourteous the language of the hon. Member for Ennis might have been, it had been provoked by the discourtesy and disrespect of hon. Members opposite; and it struck him (Mr. O'Donnell) that hon. Members sitting in their seats ought to be reminded of their duties to the House quite as fully and quite as clearly as any hon. Members who happened to be standing up to address the Chair. On this point, he desired to call the attention of the House to the very clear Rule on this subject, which was dated the 22nd of January, 1693, which was to this effect—To the end that all the debates in this House should be grave and orderly as becomes so great an assembly and that all interruptions should be prevented, be it ordered and declared that no member of this House do presume to make any noise or disturbance whilst any member shall be orderly debating, or whilst any Bill, order, or other matter shall be in reading or opening; and in case of such noise or disturbance that Mr. Speaker do call upon the member by name making such disturbance, and that every such person shall incur the displeasure and censure of the House.He thought that those who made uproarious noises while Irish Members were orderly debating questions before the House ought to be reminded that they were themselves at least equally liable to their favourite punishment of being named. When the incident raised by the hon. Member for Ennis had been closed, he rose to call attention to the persistent interruptions as being most discourteous to the Chair and most obstructive to order in the House. In his very first words, on rising to a point of Order, he took care to say he was not in any way going to contest the authority of the Chair. On the contrary, he was going to appeal to the Chair, and was not going to discuss in any way the question which had been raised by the hon. Member 1519 for Ennis. His very first words, according to the report in The Standard, were, "Now that that question is settled, I rise to Order." He could quote reports which were even more favourable to his point of view than The Standard report. For instance, The Standard report stated that the Chairman of Committees actually named him; whereas other reports, as well as the recollection of several hon. Members, bore out the statement that in the hurry of the moment the right hon. Gentleman in the Chair forgot the formality of absolutely naming him. However, he was by no means desirous of resting any portion of his case on technicalities. His complaint was that he was never allowed to state any portion of his point of Order. He could not even finish a quarter of a sentence before he was violently interrupted by a continuation of the outcries and uproar which had proceeded from the portion of the House he had before referred to. He was greeted with the loudest uproar, and ceaseless cries of "Name him, name him!" This disorderly shouting accompanied him from the very first moment he rose until he finished speaking. He had gone no further than to call attention to the words "beastly bellowing," admid loud cries of "Order!" when the Chairman said he had already decided as to those words. He (Mr. O'Donnell) then said—Precisely. ('Order.') I am not objecting to your ruling. (Loud cries of 'Order,' and great confusion.) I am speaking to a point of Order. (Uproar.) The Chairman.—The point of order is already settled.But that, he contended, was said by the Chairman when it was impossible for him to have caught what was stated, though, of course, the point of Order as to the words "beastly bellowing," had been already settled as long ago as Mr. O'Connell's time. Then the report in The Times continued—Mr. O'Donnell.—I have a new point. (Irish cheers and cries of 'Name.') I am speaking to a new point of Order, and I will conclude in the fewest number of words. I shall be entirely guided by your ruling, but until I state my point no ruling can be given. As to the use of discourteous expressions, Mr. O'Connell in this House—The Chairmen.—That point has been already settled.What he wished to do at the time was to call attention to the persistent and most disorderly and discourteous inter- 1520 ruptions to which he was subjected, and he, therefore, replied to the Chairman that he rose to a new point of Order—a statement that was followed, according to The Times and The Standard, by violent interruptions and cries of "Name!" From first to last he was hounded down at every syllable by shouts that were contrary, not only to the Order of the House, but to the common courtesy of less august Assemblies; and then, without a single word of warning, without telling him to sit down, and without giving the slightest hint that he was doing anything but what had been done by thousands of Members of the House during all the centuries of its existence, the Chairman said—" I now name the Member for Dungarvan as disobeying the ruling of the Chair." And yet there was no ruling of the Chair at the time, and there could be none, as he had not been allowed to complete his first sentence. If the time of the House had at all costs to be saved, it would have been better for the Chairman to have heard him, and then, if proper, to have decided against him; but, as things were, two divisions, one of the Committee and one of the House, were rendered necessary. The fact was that the Chairman misunderstood him, and he had no opportunity of explaining his point of Order, while hundreds of clamorous deputy chairmen named him unofficially. He had been treated with very great injustice; but he attributed no such intention to the Chairman, who, he was sure, found himself in a very difficult position. He was tempted by the fact that the Home Secretary had moved his suspension for the crime of not being able to finish a sentence to remind the House that that right hon. and learned Gentleman had on a former occasion expatiated on the danger of preventing a speaker from finishing at least one sentence. In the last Parliament, under the courteous leadership of the present Leader of the Opposition, a dispute arose in Committee in the course of the debates on flogging in the Army. It was on the memorable night when the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Chamberlain) deposed from his leadership the noble Lord who then sat for the Radnor Boroughs (the Marquess of Hartington), and who held unpopular views on the flogging question. On that occasion, while warmly advocating the 1521 abolition of the cat, he had spoken of the assembling of 500,000 men in Hyde Park; whereupon there were cries of "Order!" and a Motion was made to take down his words. The right hon. and learned Gentleman, however, with all the chivalry that was always at their service until his Party came into Office, interposed, and by an anecdote of George III. illustrated the possibility of finishing sentences in a manner not expected. In the end the Motion was withdrawn, on the assurance that no un-Parliamentary language was intended. Now, however, it seemed that the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Home Secretary, being in Office, had forgotten his former prudence and wisdom. In repeating the complaint he had to make, and with respect to which he wished it to be clearly understood that he brought no personal charge against the Chairman of Committees, he had only to say that he had risen to a point of Order; that he had distinctly stated that he regarded the previous point of Order as settled; that he was rising to a new point of Order; and that he had professed himself ready to submit to the decision of the Chair. Instead of being allowed to state his point of Order, he was instantly interrupted by a storm of shouts of "Order!" and "Name!" which went on unceasingly until he was named. He thought he might fairly complain, as a Member of the House and as representing an Irish constituency, that in a debate on a Bill specially affecting Ireland, he had been turned out of the House with the most undeserved stigma of having disregarded the ruling of the Chair. If reference were made to his conduct on other occasions, he was sure it would not be in the spirit of the Kerry juryman, who procured a verdict of guilty against an obviously innocent man, who was being tried for murder, and justified his conduct on the ground that the prisoner, though innocent of murder, had stolen his horse at Christmas. He regretted no part of his conduct in opposing the Coercion Bills; he was only doing his duty to his constituents. He was not prepared to make any apology or to lie under the stigma imposed upon him. He had asked one of the most respected Members of the House whether the House would vote fairly, though it was only the Member for Dungarvan who appealed to it, and 1522 he was told that it would. In the confidence, then, that that House would act towards him exactly as it would in similar circumstances towards the Leader of Her Majesty's Opposition or the Leader of Her Majesty's Government, he would leave his case in its hands.
To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "Mr. Chairman of Committees, in the proceedings in Committee on the Peace Preservation (Ireland) Bill, on Tuesday March 8th, was under an erroneous impression in informing the Committee that the Member for Dungarvan was disregarding the authority of the Chair,"—(Mr.
§ —instead thereof.
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ MR. LYON PLAYFAIR
I have no remark to make except approval for the hon. Member having delayed this Motion, on account of the urgency of Public Business, although it is obvious that a Motion of this character should not be allowed to weaken the authority of the Chair by remaining undetermined. The hon. Member has given to the House his impression of the proceedings on Tuesday, 8th March. This impression is, however, largely formed from the inner consciousness of his intention, and is not that which the Committee or the Chairman received by any audible expression of them. I ask now the House to go back and consider the actual facts of the proceedings, instead of the hypothetical representation derived from the inner consciousness of the hon. Member for Dungarvan. During the discussion an hon. Member used an expression which the Chair deemed to be discourteous to Members sitting opposite to him, and his attention was called to the fact, and to the necessity of using courteous language. The hon. Member did not act upon the advice of the Chair, but increased the strength of his expression, and said that the noise opposite to him resembled "beastly bellowing." That was not the first time those words had been used in the House. They had been applied by Mr. Daniel O'Connell on a well-known occasion, and had then been ruled out of Order. Acting upon that well-known ruling, the Chairman desired the hon. Member for Ennis (Mr. Finigan) to withdraw the expression. 1523 Upon that, the hon. Member for Dungarvan (Mr. O'Donnell) intervened before the withdrawal of the words, and said—Mr. O'Donnell: There is a point of Order, and I wish to speak to it. (Cries of 'Order' and 'Name him.') Mr. O'Connell in this House, replying to Members of the Tory Party—(Cries of 'Order, order.') I am speaking to Order. (Cries of 'Name him') The Chairman: I have already given my ruling that the hon. Member must withdraw the two words which he used.After a little resistance the hon. Member for Ennis did withdraw the words objected to, and he was then called upon by the Chair to continue his speech. The hon. Member for Ennis rose to resume the debate; but the hon. Member for Dungarvan for the second time intervened between him and the Chair, and spoke as follows:—Mr. O'Donnell: I rise to Order, now that question is settled. I rise to Order—(Cries of 'Order, order.') On the point of Order—(uproar.) I must remind the Committee that the words 'beastly bellowing'—(uproar.) The Chairman: I have already decided upon those words.Again the hon. Member for Ennis (Mr. Finigan) was called upon by the Chair to resume the debate. Upon this the hon. Member for Dungarvan intervened, and said—Mr. O'Donnell (amid cries of 'Name him'): Decidedly. I am not objecting to your ruling. I am speaking to a point of Order. (Cries of 'Order, order.') The Chairman: The point of Order on that subject is already settled.Again the Chair called upon the hon. Member for Ennis to continue his speech, but the hon. Member for Dungarvan, spoke a third time—Mr. O'Donnell: A new point is raised. (Cries of 'Order.') I am speaking to a point of Order, and I will in the fewest possible words state the point. I will be guided entirely by your ruling; but until I have stated my point of Order there is no point for the Chairman to decide. With regard to the use of discourteous language, Mr. O'Connell in this House—(uproar.) The Chairman: That point of Order is already settled. Mr. O'Donnell: No, Sir. The Chairman: I now name the hon. Member for Dungarvan, Mr. O'Donnell, as having disregarded the authority of the Chair. Mr. O'Donnell remained on his feet, saying something which was inaudible in the Gallery owing to the din.These are the facts of the case, and the report which I have quoted from the Scotsman is, I believe, verbally accurate. I would draw the attention of the House 1524 to this circumstance—first, that the hon. Member for Dungarvan intervened between the Chairman's direction for the withdrawal of the objectionable words, and the hon. Member who was called upon to withdraw them. When these words were withdrawn, the debate ought to have been immediately resumed, and accordingly the Chairman twice called upon the hon. Member in possession of the debate to continue his speech; but each time that he did so the hon. Member for Dungarvan intervened between the direction of the Chairman for the resumption of the debate and the hon. Member for Ennis, who rose to continue it. On both these occasions he referred to the expression "beastly bellowing," which had been withdrawn, and was no longer under discussion. The hon. Member for Dungarvan says that he intended to have drawn the attention of the Chair to the unruly conduct on the other side of the House, which had exasperated the hon. Member speaking, and brought forth the expression "beastly bellowing." At an earlier stage of the debate this would have been quite in Order. When, in the first instance, the hon. Member for Ennis was disturbed by exclamations from the other side of the House, it would have been quite competent for him to direct attention to them, and ask the protection of the Chair. And at that time it would have been equally competent for the hon. Member for Dungarvan to direct the attention of the Chair to the alleged disorder, and ask whether it could not be subdued by the action of the Chair. But when the hon. Member for Ennis took the rebuke into his own hands by the use of un-Parliamentary expressions, the Case became entirely altered. When he was called upon to withdraw the words "beastly bellowing," the intervention of the hon. Member for Dungarvan between the Chair and the hon. Member for Ennis became irregular and out of Order, because it prevented that Member from at once conforming to the ruling of the Chair. It was also irregular and out of Order, when the Chair called upon the Member in possession of the House to resume the debate, for the hon. Member for Dungarvan twice to intervene between the Chair and the resumption of the debate, while on both these occasions he spoke with reference to the 1525 words "beastly bellowing," which had been withdrawn, and were no longer before the House. There is nothing of which the House is more properly jealous than when Members intervene between the Chairman and a Member who has called forth the censure of the Chair. Such interruptions almost invariably lead, as they did in the present case, to renewed disorder. On several occasions you, Mr. Speaker, have intimated that you would treat such interruptions as disorderly; and on the occasion under discussion, when the hon. Member for Dungarvan not only intervened between the ruling of the Chair for the ultimate withdrawal of the expression "beastly bellowing," but again twice after the Chairman had called upon the hon. Member for Ennis to resume the debate, he appeared both to the Committee and to the Chairman as having the deliberate intention of obstructing the course of the debate. The strong impression upon my own mind, as Chairman, was that the hon. Member for Dungarvan desired to prevent the resumption of the debate, in order that he might have an opportunity of discussing the words "beastly bellowing," to which he referred in all his three speeches. As these words had been declared to be out of Order, and were withdrawn, it would have been a direct defiance of the Chair to permit their further discussion. I had, therefore, with this conviction on my mind, no other course than to inform the Committee that the hon. Member for Dungarvan was disregarding the authority of the Chair. The protection of that authority then devolved upon the House. The House has not given to the Chair any power even to make a Motion for the suspension of a Member when a Member has been named to the Committee. It is for the House to determine whether it considers the case as one requiring the grave punishment of suspension; and it is only upon Motion made that the House is called upon to decide whether the Member named by the Chairman should be suspended or not. The Motion made for suspension in Committee was carried by 127 Ayes to 27 Noes. It was then confirmed by the House itself by 143 Ayes to 32 Noes. The Committee and the House which had heard the original un-Parliamentary language, and listened to the interruptions, thus confirmed the opinion of the 1526 Chairman that the authority of the Chair had been disregarded. I may remind the House that on the suspension in Committee beigh reported, the hon. Member for Cork City (Mr. Parnell) took exception to the suspension, not upon the ground now taken, that a new point of Order had not been listened to, but upon the mere technical point that he had not heard the Chairman call the hon. Member for Dungarvan by the name of Mr. O'Donnell. That was an altogether insignificant and unimportant issue, even if it had been true; but it is important to observe that the challenge of the action of the Chair was not that it had refused to listen to a complaint of the disorderly conduct of certain Members; but that the Chairman had failed in a mere point of technicality. In this the hon. Member for Cork City was entirely mistaken, for the words used by myself were—" I name the hon. Member for Dungarvan, Mr. O'Donnell, as disregarding the authority of the Chair." I now have stated the facts of the case as they appeared to myself, and to the great majority of the Committee and the House itself, on the 8th of March. After the statement made to-day by the hon. Member for Dungarvan, I am bound to believe that he intended to draw my attention to disorderly conduct on the other side of the House. He was unfortunate in his mode of doing so, and was out of Order all the three times which he selected for the purpose; and he was additionally unfortunate that he gave to the Committee no hint even of his intention, for in each of his three short speeches he put in the forefront an apparent intention of discussing the words "beastly bellowing," upon which a distinct ruling had been given, and final action had been taken. I have read carefully every report of the speeches which I could find, to see whether any other intention had been expressed that might have escaped my ear in the noise and confusion of the scene; but I have found no such indication. I contend, therefore, that with the evidence before him, the Chairman was bound to use the Rule of the House against the apparent obstruction to the resumption of the debate; and that the Committee, and subsequently the House, which had heard the whole proceedings, were justified in the vote which they gave upon the Motion for suspension.
§ MR. BENTINCK
, having been present on the occasion in question, must express his conviction that the whole case arose from a misunderstanding between the Member for Dungarvan and the Chairman of Ways and Means. What had just fallen from the right hon. Gentleman showed distinctly that he was under the impression that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Dungarvan meant to refer to a subject which had been already under discussion, and upon which he had, from the Chair, already given his decision. If, however, his own impression of what occurred was correct, that was not the object of the hon. Gentleman, who rose to a fresh point of Order entirely apart from the subject which had been discussed; and if he understood anything of the Rules of that House, the hon. Gentleman was perfectly justified in rising to Order. It seemed to him, with all due deference to the House, that the time of the House ought not to be employed in discussing a case which arose entirely through a misunderstanding. He would further express his opinion that, as a matter of justice to the hon. Member for Dungarvan, the decision which was come to under a misapprehension ought to be rescinded.
§ MR. BIGGAR
said, he was not disposed very much to blame the Chairman of Ways and Means, if at all, because he knew very well that very great coercion was brought to bear upon him by the Ministerialists to get him to give a decision different from what he probably would be inclined himself to give; but seeing that the right hon. Gentleman had, in point of fact, given up the whole case, he thought the House would do well to give its decision unanimously in favour of his hon. Friend the Member for Dungarvan.
§ MR. ONSLOW
thought this was a very serious matter, as the hon. Member for Dungarvan had been a second time suspended, and the House well knew the severity of the penalty should the hon. Member at some future time commit another offence. Hon. Members ought to support the ruling of the Chairman on 1528 every occasion; but the right hon. Gentleman's observations that evening showed that he misunderstood the purport of the remarks of the hon. Member for Dungarvan. There was very good reason why he should misunderstand them. The noise in the House was so dreadful at the time that he defied any Chairman of Ways and Means rightly to have understood what the hon. Member said unless, in the first place, he called the hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway to Order. Although it would be a strong point for them to vote against the right hon. Gentleman the Chairman of Committees, yet, as a severe penalty attached to the vote they gave somewhat under a misapprehension the other night, he would appeal to the Prime Minister as to whether they had not better, in all the circumstances of the case, agree to rescind that vote? This would not be casting any stigma on the conduct of the right hon. Gentleman who was in the Chair, for they all knew the difficult position he was placed in—a position at all times one of some difficulty, but which had become this Session still more difficult. He thought it would be desirable not to come to a vote on the present occasion. If the hon. Member for Dungarvan would accept the suggestion of the hon. Member for West Norfolk (Mr. Bentinck), matters would be very much simplified.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
I stand rather in a different position from the hon. Member who has just addressed the House. I was present on the occasion, and I think he was not. I wish to speak of this matter with good feeling, and in the temperate tone with which it has been treated on both sides. As the hon. Member for Dungarvan has correctly stated, when the circumstances to which he referred unfortunately arose, I was not in the House. When I reentered the House, which I had left very quiet, I found it had got into a rather lively condition. I understood that the words "beastly bellowing" gave rise to a great deal of strong feeling in the House. Thereupon, the Chairman of Committees called upon the Member who had used these words to withdraw them; and then, according to my recollection, the hon. Member for Dungarvan interposed. Now, as I understood the hon. Member, he most distinctly rose to point out to the Chairman 1529 of Committees that these words were not objectionable, and that he ought not to call upon the hon. Member to withdraw them. I do not think the hon. Member will dispute that.
§ MR. O'DONNELL
I am sure the right hon. Gentleman would not wish to misrepresent me; but I thought I stated clearly in my opening observations that I rose to offer evidence upon a point of Order, and sought by no means to in any way justify the use of the words "beastly bellowing."
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
What I conceive is, and I believe I am right in that view of the matter, that if a Member uses words which are objectionable, and the Chairman calls upon that Member to withdraw those words, it would be irregular for anybody to interpose between the Chair and the Member addressing the House, to discuss whether or not the Chairman was right in asking that the words should be withdrawn, and to raise a debate on that subject. The first irregularity I observed was the attempt on the part of the lion. Member (Mr. O'Donnell) to interpose between the Chair and the Member who had used those objectionable words. It was upon that first occasion, as I understood it, that the hon. Member for Dungarvan made his first reference to Mr. O'Connell. I had the impression, and I think every Member in the House had the impression, that the reference of the hon. Member for Dungarvan to Mr. O'Connell's case was to point out, and to lead the Chairman and the House to believe, that these words ought not to be objectionable and not withdrawn. That was the impression produced upon my mind at that time. What took place was this. After the Chairman, having called upon the hon. Member for Ennis to withdraw these words, they were, after all these interruptions, ultimately withdrawn, and there was again that question of Order. Now, mark, the hon. Member for Dungarvan says that he rose to a new question of Order; but there could be no new question of Order, because nothing had occurred. [Mr. O'DONNELL: Yes.] No doubt, the hon. Member for Dungarvan now thinks that there was a point of Order.
§ MR. O'DONNELL
I rise to a point of Order. I must respectfully request the Home Secretary not to use the word "now" as implying any insinuation against me.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
I beg the hon. Member for Dungarvan to observe that I made no insinuation at all in the words I used. I pointed out that the words used now are in opposition to what was acted upon by the Chairman of Committees, and that was what the hon. Member then said. What he then said was not an objection to anything taking place below the Gangway on this side of the House. After the Chairman had said "I have already decided on these words," the hon. Member then rose. Remember, nothing had occurred except what came from the other side of the House. If the hon. Member had said there was a clamour on the other side, and called upon the Chairman to put it down, that would have been very intelligible; but he proceeded to call the attention of the House to the use of discourteous language by Mr. O'Connell. Could any man in this House believe, could the Chairman of Committees believe, anything else than that that was a distinct reference to the previous words of "beastly bellowing" which had been used by Mr. O'Connell? What was the meaning of the reference to Mr. O'Connell? It was quite plain, therefore, to everybody, that the words Mr. O'Connell used, and which the hon. Member wished to call attention to, were a going back again upon the old story of "beastly bellowing," and that he wished to invite the consideration of the Committee to something which had been decided. That was the impression produced upon my mind and that of the Chairman of Committees; and I do not very well see how on that occasion the right hon. Gentleman could have interpreted the use of discourteous language, and the reference to Mr. O'Connell, as having anything to do with a new point of Order. It is for the House, however, to determine what it will do under these circumstances.
§ MR. PLUNKET
Mr. Speaker, perhaps the House will allow me to say a very few words, which will not, I think, tend to excite any acrimony, as I believe I was the only Member on this Bench on this occasion. I must say that my recollection agrees in every respect with what has fallen from the Chairman of Committees. There was certainly at the time a considerable amount of confusion in the House; and no one need impute any want of good faith to those con- 1531 cerned, for it was really difficult to catch anything at all. As to the point whether the hon. Member for Dungarvan was named, such was the noise in the House throughout that, although I distinctly heard the Chairman say "Mr. O'Donnell," hon. Members sitting just behind me did not catch those words. The impression produced on my mind at the time the hon. Member for Dungarvan was speaking was exactly that described by the Chairman of Committees as the impression produced on his mind; and I certainly did believe that the hon. Member was persisting in referring to the term "beastly bellowing," upon which the Chairman had already ruled. He has told us now that was not his intention; and as to that it is not for me to say a word; but at the time no other construction could be placed upon his words. I submit to the House it was impossible for the Chairman of Committees or myself to suppose that, instead of referring to that point, he was about to allude to an interesting Parliamentary incident 200 years old; and believing that the hon. Member was persisting in resisting the authority of the Chair, I, for one, thought it my duty to support the Chair; and if this Motion goes to a division, I shall still be prepared to support it. If I might be allowed to make a suggestion it is, that the hon. Member for Dungarvan, having addressed the House in a way which will commend itself to us all, and having given an explanation of what he intended to do—under all the circumstances, if the Leader of the House can make any proposal to settle this matter, it will be received with general satisfaction.
I feel indebted, not only to the right hon. Gentleman near me (Sir William Harcourt), but to hon. Gentlemen opposite, who have kindly, and, I think, usefully and as impartially as I could wish, related to us who were not in the House at the time when the circumstances occurred, exactly their impressions and belief of what took place; and I think that their statements will carry, and justly carry, the greatest weight with the House. The right hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Mr. Plunket) has asked me if I am able to offer any suggestion; and he is quite justified in making that appeal. Unfortunately, as I need hardly state, for 1532 myself, I was not in the House at the time when the circumstances occurred, and, therefore, I have been anxiously waiting to gather the most exact impression at which I could arrive as to the nature of these circumstances. I think we have got considerable light, if we can make use of it, in the case before us. The Motion of the hon. Gentleman has led to a speech from him, couched in the most becoming terms, which I do not hesitate to say must carry to all of your minds the full conviction that the hon. Gentleman had not the least intention of disregarding the authority of the Chair. I make that acknowledgment, not as a matter of favour; but that the hon. Gentleman is entitled to it there can be no doubt. But that is very far from disposing of the case now before us. We have now before us a Motion; and we must look at the position of that Motion, and the construction which the adoption of the Motion would naturally carry. I was very glad to hear that the hon. Gentleman who rose to make the suggestion in relief, if I may so say, of the hon. Member for Dungarvan, did not recommend the adoption of his Motion, but recommended its withdrawal. Now, I think that is the course which ought to be followed, and I will give my reason. If we are called upon, as I hope we shall not be called upon, to vote upon the Question before us, I feel no difficulty, because the Motion is that you do leave the Chair for the purpose of going into Committee of Supply, and that the words shall stand part of the Question. Consequently, our first question will not be the pronunciation of any judgment at all upon the Motion made by the hon. Member for Dungarvan. I feel, therefore, that those who might be, perhaps, more prepared than I am to adopt that Motion, may very justly vote for the previous Motion, that the words "that you do leave the Chair," should stand part of the Question. I am bound to say that, with the feeling I have expressed in regard to the hon. Member for Dungarvan—and by no means precluding myself from considering hereafter whether there is any manner by which he can be relieved from the consequences of the position in which he has been placed—I cannot possibly vote for his Motion. I must ask myself what would be the effect of it. He invites us to vote that the 1533 Chairman of Committees was under an erroneous impression in informing the Committee that the Member for Dungarvan was disregarding the authority of the Chair. If we rule that the Chairman of Committees was under an erroneous impression, no person can mistake the fact that we should be, although not in actual terms, pronouncing a condemnation upon the conduct of the Chairman of Committees. I am not prepared to pronounce that condemnation. I give my distinct opinion that the adoption of those words is in itself a condemnation of the conduct of the Chairman of Committees. I do not mean to say it is a severe condemnation; but it is an imputation that he acted erroneously. The Chairman of Committees did not, in my opinion, act erroneously, because he acted upon, I think, the just and necessary inference from the words which were again and again placed before him by the hon. Member for Dungarvan. Will the hon. Member for Dungarvan allow me to say that the Chairman of Committees was misled by the hon. Member himself, and that, under those circumstances, it would not be fair or just to record these words? My right hon. Friend near me contends, and the right hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Mr. Plunket) has stated, that the Chairman of Committees pronounced the only judgment at the moment he could pronounce. If that is so, we ought most carefully to avoid any words which, by the remotest implication, would go to assert that, in the opinion of the House, the Chairman of Committees erred in judgment, when it was the hon. Gentleman himself who supplied him with sufficient evidence, on which he acted. ["No, no!"] That is my opinion, and it was evidence which warranted his action. What the hon. Gentleman now says with regard to his intention is a totally different matter. ["No, no!"] It appears to me that the hon. Gentleman used words again and again which left no option to the Chairman of Committees. I say that as frankly as I say that the hon. Gentleman has convinced me that he unfortunately used these words; and if he had had the opportunity, rightly withheld from him, he would have given an ultimate turn to the matter contrary to all natural and reasonable expectation, and would have showed that he had no intention of dis- 1534 regarding the authority of the Chair. It has been suggested that we should rescind the Motion affecting the hon. Member; but I shall be careful about giving an opinion on that subject at the present moment. It is not the proposal before us, and it is one which appears to me to involve difficult points of procedure. Whether it is a matter which can be considered or not—whether there are modes in which the hon. Member can have authentically asserted, what we all believe, that he did not intend to disregard the authority of the Chair—I do not now say; but it is a question to which I should be prepared to give dispassionate and favourable consideration hereafter. I cannot follow the hon. Gentleman in the terms of the Motion, which go to imply a censure on the Chairman of Committees, which was evidently not warranted.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
I am, in one respect, in the same position as the Leader of the House. I was not present when this matter took place; but, speaking from what I have gathered in the course of this discussion, I may say that the impression left on my mind is the same as appears to have been left on that of the right hon. Gentleman—that is to say, that the explanation which has been given in the course of this debate by the hon. Member for Dungarvan, and which has been given in so excellent a tone, and with so much moderation, is fully sufficient to satisfy us that he had not in his mind the intention of disregarding the authority of the Chair. It is one reason why I should hope we may not have to come to any decision on this question that might seem to imply on the part of those who were not able to vote with the hon. Member that they were not satisfied with his explanation. I, for my part—and I believe I speak the general sense of the House—feel satisfied that the explanation he has given is the true explanation of his intentions, and that, so taken, it is undoubtedly one which acquits him of any intention to disregard the authority of the Chair. But, on the other hand, I feel strongly with the Prime Minister that if we were to pass a Resolution of this kind, it could not but be taken as so far as a reflection on the conduct of the Chairman of Committees as materially to weaken, if not, perhaps, even to destroy, his authority upon future 1535 occasions. In these matters, indirectly, we have had too much experience of what takes place. There is a great deal of confusion in the House, a great deal of heat, and a great deal of noise, so that it is extremely difficult for anyone to form an accurate judgment as to what may be in the mind of anyone who may wish to address the House. I am satisfied, however, that the Chairman of Committees on this occasion, as I have seen him do on so many other occasions, did his very best to preserve his authority with strict regard to the rights and feelings of Members. Nothing can be more difficult than the position of the Chairman on such occasions; and from my own experience I would say that it is the duty of the House to support, as far as possible, the authority of its Chairman as of the Speaker. I hope, as the result of this discussion, that hon. Members in all parts of the House will bear in mind that the kind of support they can best give to the Speaker and the Chairman is a quiet support, and a support afforded consistently with the feelings and rights of other Members. I think that occasionally there have been instances of impatience shown to hon. Members on this side of the House which has rendered the matter very difficult. I hope the hon. Member for Dungarvan and those who act with him will bear in mind that if he has been a little harshly treated on this occasion, there have been other occasions when he and his Friends have, perhaps, been more deserving. What I hope may be the upshot of the matter is that, even if the hon. Member for Dungarvan should be made a martyr for it, there will be a diminution of those scenes, and less frequent occasions for them. Meantime, I trust we may not be put to the pain of a division. To me it would be a very painful vote, because it would cast a reflection I have no intention of doing. Whether it may be possible, as has been suggested by the Prime Minister, to find some other way of relieving the hon. Member for Dungarvan from the painful position in which he feels himself to be, and set him at liberty to exercise greater freedom, I cannot say; but I do hope that the matter may close in the same spirit and the same good nature with which it has been conducted till now; that the hon. Member for Dungarvan will be satisfied with the favourable impression that has evidently 1536 been made by his speech; and that the Chairman of Committees will rest assured that he has the support of the House in the very difficult position he has to fill.
§ MR. JUSTIN M'CARTHY
said, he was in the House at the time the incident in question occurred, and although there was a good deal of clamour on the Benches opposite, he was able to follow the whole course of the proceedings which then took place. His hon. Friend the Member for Dungarvan, he recollected, rose in his place several times, and each time began by saying that he did not do so to dispute the ruling of the Chairman, but to a new point of Order. He made also some reference to the words "beastly bellowing," but not, as he understood, to explain or justify the use of those words, but to point out that words of the kind were provoked by the noise and clamour which prevailed on the other side of the House. If his hon. Friend had been allowed to finish his sentence, he would have explained in a moment what the point of Order was which he desired to raise, and the whole thing would have been at an end. He did not blame the Chairman of Committees in the matter, for he could very well understand the difficulties with which he had to contend; but he was convinced his hon. Friend had no intention of challenging the authority of the Chair. His hon. Friend, however, had been suspended a second time from the Sittings of the House, and there ought to be some way out of the difficulty by which he would be relieved from a most unjust censure, while the authority of the House would be at the same time preserved.
§ SIR JOHN LUBBOCK
said, that he quite accepted the explanation of the hon. Member for Dungarvan as to what he intended to say; but the House had to consider, not what he intended to do, but what he actually did. Now, the hon. Member admitted that he persisted in referring more than once to the words already withdrawn in deference to the ruling of the Chair. Under these circumstances, while fully accepting the assurance given by the hon. Member, he did not think that the Chairman of Committees could have taken any other course than that which he actually adopted; and he could not, therefore, concur in any Resolution which in any 1537 way would seem to imply any censure of the right hon. Gentleman.
§ MR. CALLAN
said, that having been present on the occasion in question, he believed both the Chairman of Committees and the hon. Member for Dungarvan laboured under a mutual misunderstanding. The latter repeated more than once that he rose to a new point of Order; and the only doubt he himself had was whether the hon. Gentleman was about to refer by name—there having been a most unbecoming noise on the Radical Benches opposite—to the hon. Member for Exeter, or the hon. Baronet the Member for Lambeth (Sir James C. Lawrence). He trusted the hon. Member would withdraw his Motion without receiving any fresh assurance from the Treasury Bench.
§ MR. PARNELL
did not rise to prolong the debate. He did not think it would be profitable to inquire whether the Chairman of Committees was right or wrong in supposing that the hon. Member for Dungarvan was going to return to the old point of Order. If it were desirable to do so, he might express the opinion that it would have been better if his hon. Friend had been allowed to finish the sentence in which he proposed to introduce the new point of Order. To-day was the first opportunity the hon. Member had had of making his explanation to the House in reference to his intentions on the occasion in question. It would be unreasonable that the Prime Minister should be asked for an immediate declaration as to what steps, if any, he proposed to take. He would advise his hon. Friend to withdraw his Motion, and leave the question as to how he might be rehabilitated in his right to the consideration of the Prime Minister.
§ MR. O'DONNELL
said, he had not asked the House to do anything for him on the ground of what he intended to say, as he might rest his whole case entirely on the fact that he had been misinterpreted. He felt that he had condescended too far in making that explanation. The point of his whole case was that he was interrupted through the misconception of the Chairman, owing to the clamour which prevailed in the House at the time, and was prevented from availing himself of his right and stating fully his new point of Order for the consideration of the Chair. He was 1538 happy, however, to accept the suggestion of his hon. Friend the Member for Cork (Mr. Parnell), and to ask leave to withdraw his Motion, leaving to the Government any discretion which they might choose to exercise on the subject. Although he thought a fuller acknowledgment of his position might be given, he wished to thank right hon. and hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House for the generous kindness and courtesy of their references to him.
Perhaps I ought to say that I will do my best—and no man can do more—in connection with the appeal made. This is a very novel and difficult case; and I am bound to state frankly that I certainly could do nothing in it which could disparage the proceedings of my right hon. Friend the Chairman of Committees. Beyond that, I should be very glad to consult with those who are most competent to enter into the matter, and if we can tender any suggestion it shall be tendered.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Main Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," put, and agreed to.