§ SIR JOHN HAY
said, he would not detain the House for any length of time in supporting the Motion he had placed on the Paper, to which, however, he trusted the House would unanimously agree. It would be in the recollection of hon. Members that a week ago there had been a very prolonged Sitting, in the course of which several hon. Members were suspended from the service of the House. Now, he should be the very last person at any time to call in question, or to differ from, any decision of Mr. Speaker, or of the Chairman of Committees, with reference to the Business of the House. Upon the occasion he had referred to, the Chairman of Committees was at one period taking the rest which he undoubtedly required, and on his resuming the Chair it was found necessary—and he did not for one moment dispute that necessity—to suspend 16 Members from the service of the House for wilful and persistent Obstruction. But neither at the time that proposal was made by the Chairman of Committees, nor when the suspension was moved by the Secretary of State for War, were reasons given for the collective suspension of those hon. Members. The names were proposed by the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for War, and during the time that the proposal was under the consideration of the Committee he (Sir John Hay) thought it his duty to proceed to the Chairman of Committees and state to him certain facts within his (Sir John Hay's) knowledge, and which were not within the Chairman's knowledge. It so happened that during the prolonged Sitting he had been in his place, he might almost say continuously, and the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Kilkenny (Mr. Marum) spoke to him (Sir John Hay) early in the evening with reference to his withdrawal from the House as he (Mr. Marum) was leaving it. A Motion had been made by the right hon. and learned Gentleman in charge of the Bill, the Secretary of State for the Home Department, and that Amendment was opposed by two hon. Gentlemen, the hon. Member for Roscommon (Dr. Com- 1867 mins) and the hon. Member for the County of Limerick (Mr. Synan). A few words were addressed to the Committee on the Amendment by the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny (Mr. Marum), but those words were in favour of the Amendment of the Home Secretary. The hon. and learned Member then left the House, and in passing him (Sir John Hay) said he did not intend to take any further part in the debate. The hon. and learned Gentleman returned to the House about 9 o'clock in the morning and became a victim to suspension. It did seem to him rather hard that the hon. and learned Member, who had not addressed the Committee for some hours, and then only in a short speech, and in favour of an Amendment proposed by the right hon. and learned Gentleman in charge of the Bill, should be included in the number of those who were suspended. He went to his right hon. Friend the Chairman of Committees at the time the Division Bell was ringing and mentioned it to him; but the right hon. Gentleman very properly said that with the Business then before the Committee he could not attend to the matter. He objected to the suspension of the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny (Mr. Marum), and he said to the Chairman—"I trust you will mention my objection to the Speaker when he takes the Chair." He also said to the Chairman—"I am anxious to support the ruling of the Chairman, and therefore I will vote on this occasion; but I will make the objection when Mr. Speaker takes the Chair." He therefore voted for the suspension of the 16 Members; but trusted that afterwards the name of the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny might be erased from the list of suspended Members. The right hon. Gentleman the Chairman of Committees said it was not solely for the Obstruction of that particular night that the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny was suspended; but it was for previous and constant Obstruction of the Business of the Committee. He (Sir John Hay), therefore, thought it right to make some examination of the matter. He found that the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny was a magistrate in two Irish counties, one of which he represented in that House, and in which he had property. He also ascertained that three of the Amendments which the hon. Member proposed in the Bill 1868 were Amendments which were accepted by the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill. It therefore seemed to him (Sir John Hay) that it could hardly be said that the opposition offered by the hon. and learned Gentleman was not legitimate opposition. It seemed to him that the Bill was one in which the hon. and learned Gentleman might fairly take the deepest interest, and in the course of his inquiry he ascertained that the hon. and learned Member had always addressed the Committee in the most respectful manner; and, although he might have spoken at a time when the Home Secretary might have wished the Business could proceed quicker, the action, of the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny could not fairly be said to be obstructive. That being so, so soon as the Speaker took the Chair after the 16 Members had been Named, he (Sir John Hay) proceeded to the Chair and mentioned, respectfully he trusted, that which had come under his own observation. He mentioned to the Speaker that the Chairman of Committees had not been present throughout the night, and that he had been. The Speaker said it was not possible for him to make the change which he (Sir John Hay) desired to be made, and therefore he voted against the Motion, in order that he might record his protest against one or two names being included in the list. Certainly, against the inclusion of the name of the hon. Member for Kilkenny he was bound to protest, and he felt it was his duty to record his vote in the hope of obviating this particular suspension. The stigma which rested upon an hon. Gentleman for suspension from that House was very considerable. It might be said that the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Kilkenny was only suspended for one day, and that he was now able to take part in the debates in that House, and vote as any other hon. Member. He would point out that if the Resolution of Saturday, the 1st of July, were rescinded in respect to the hon. and learned Gentleman a fresh start would be given to the hon. and learned Gentleman, and he would not be so near that condition of things which was still more disgraceful to those who suffered from it. If, as there was, a doubt as to the fairness of the suspension of the hon. and learned Gentleman, he appealed to the House whether the 1869 proposition which he now made would not be a kind and courteous offer to an Irish Member, and would not show that it was not because the hon. and learned Gentleman was an Irish Member that he had been suspended? He trusted that the fairness which always prevailed in an Assembly like the House of Commons would concede what he now asked. He trusted the Chairman of Committees would see the matter in the light in which he (Sir John Hay) ventured to put it before the House. He would move the Resolution which stood in his name.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That so much of the Resolution of this House as referred to the suspension of Mr. Marum from the service of the House on Saturday 1st July, be rescinded."—(Sir John Hay.)
§ MR. R. N. FOWLER
said, that, like his right hon. and gallant Friend (Sir John Hay), with whom he was sorry to differ, he was in the House on the occasion referred to, having been present since 11 o'clock on the previous night. He wished to point out that it was the duty of the House to support the decision of its Speaker, and the decision of the Gentleman who presided over the deliberations of the House in Committee. It was even more important to support the decision of the Chairman of Committees than the decision of the Speaker. The Speaker of the House filled a very high and. honourable position by the sanction of the Sovereign. The Chairman of Committees was, to a certain extent, in a different position. In Committee of the House the Chairman presided over their deliberations; but when the House resumed, he subsided into the position of an ordinary Member; he was, therefore, not placed in a precisely similar position to the Speaker. He (Mr. R. N. Fowler), therefore, felt it was most important that whatever decision the Chairman of Committees arrived at it should be supported in the same way in which the decision of the Speaker was respected by the House. The right hon. Gentleman the Chairman of Committees, in the exercise of his discretion, arrived at a certain decision on Saturday morning, the 1st instant, and it was right that the House should respect that decision. No doubt, some hon. Gentlemen might feel injustice was done to some hon. Members in being included in the list of sus- 1870 pended Members. He believed, for instance, that the Motion of his right hon. and gallant Friend (Sir John Hay) originally included the name of the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny (Mr. Marum) and the name of the hon. Member for Louth (Mr. Callan). The latter name, however, had been omitted from the Motion, on what ground he (Mr. R. N. Fowler) did not know, for he believed that his right hon. and gallant Friend was originally under the belief that the hon. Member for Louth, like the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny, had taken no part in the proceedings of the night. But the decision of the right hon. Gentleman the Chairman of Committees had reference not merely to the Obstruction of that particular night, but to the course of regular Obstruction which had been observed by the hon. Members Named during the Committee on the Prevention of Crime Bill. In the proposition his right hon. and gallant Friend now made he was perfectly consistent, because, although he voted for the Resolution originally in Committee in the House, he voted in the minority as a protest against the inclusion of certain names in the list of suspended Members. He (Mr. R. N. Fowler), having on both occasions voted in the majority, did not see why he should stultify himself by supporting the proposition of his right hon. and gallant Friend. It seemed to him important that they should support the decision of the Chairman, and on that ground he should vote against the Motion.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, the House ought to consider very carefully how they were going to deal with this Motion. He knew it was the favourite doctrine of Gentlemen on the opposite Benches that the proper manner of dealing with Obstruction was to deal with individuals. He never concurred in that view, mainly for this reason, that he foresaw that that form of proceeding would lead to exactly such Motions as the present, which were calculated to absolutely defeat the efforts against Obstruction. Whenever a Member was suspended, he would invariably, by subsequent Motions, challenge the decision of the House and create a protracted debate. Now, he need not say it was quite impossible that his right hon. Friend the Chairman of Committees should get up and contend with the right 1871 hon. and gallant Member (Sir John Hay) as to whether the Chairman was right or wrong in the action he took on the 1st of July; it would be absolutely improper for a Gentleman occupying the position of Chairman of Committees to do that. It could not be expected that the Chairman of Ways and Means should say a single word on this occasion. ["Oh, oh!"] Hon. Gentlemen might cry "Oh, oh!" but they might just as well have the Speaker down from the Chair and challenge every decision he arrived at on points of Order. There were, no doubt, some Gentlemen who were disposed to do that; but he could not agree with them. It would be most indecent and improper that the right hon. Gentleman the Chairman of Committees should plead to a Motion of this description, and he hoped his right hon. Friend would do nothing of the kind. If they were to entertain Motions of this kind, they must give up for ever afterwards the right of the Speaker or the Chairman to act against individuals. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman who had moved this Motion had said that as there was a doubt as to the fairness and justice of the suspension of the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny (Mr. Marum), that hon. and learned Gentleman ought to receive the benefit of the doubt. If such an argument were admitted it would be possible for every exercise of jurisdiction in that House to be followed by Motions of this description. No doubt, there were Members of the House who had the same opinion as to the suspension of each of the 16 Members as the right hon. and gallant Gentleman had with regard to the suspension of the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny. The operation of the principle of individual action would lead to ten times more Obstruction than the Obstruction which it was intended to put down; a more self-stultifying proceeding it was utterly impossible to imagine. It would be a very invidious task on his part to enter upon a controversy as to the conduct of individual Members, especially on account of the part they happened to play during the progress of the Prevention of Crime Bill through the House. There was one phrase which fell from the right hon. and gallant Gentleman (Sir John Hay) which rather surprised him. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman said the hon. Member for Kilkenny appealed to 1872 the House to reverse its decision. He (Sir William Harcourt) was very much surprised to hear that the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny had made any such an appeal.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
Is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman authorized to say that by the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny?
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, he rather suspected the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny would consider the right hon. and learned Gentleman had been performing an act of cruel kindness if he separated him from the other Irish Members who were suspended. They had had to-night a very frank statement from the hon. Gentleman the Member for Newcastle (Mr. Joseph Cowen), who had said that the object of himself and the Irish Members had been, first, to defeat the Bill if they could—no doubt a very legitimate object—secondly, to amend it, which was also a perfectly fair and reasonable object; but thirdly, if they could not defeat or amend the Bill, to delay it.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, that was what the hon. Member for Newcastle had said was the object of himself and those with whom he had acted. When the hon. Member made this statement, those Gentlemen in whose behalf he was speaking were not present; nevertheless, he was, no doubt, accurately expressing their views.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT
said, he did not wish to say anything personally invidious or offensive to anyone; but it was, no doubt, clear that the Committee had been bound ultimately to take some measures to defend itself from a policy which had for its object to 1873 defeat the Bill, to amend it, or, failing this, to indefinitely delay it. It had been laid down by the Chairman that the suspension was not in consequence of any action of the moment; and he (Sir William Harcourt), who had been present during the debates on the Prevention of Crime Bill more, perhaps, than any other Member, could say that the right hon. Gentleman's decision was not a wrong one. It was absolutely necessary that some such action as that which had been taken by the Chairman should be adopted if they were ever to make progress with a Bill which a section of hon. Members had made up their minds to delay, being unable to defeat it. It was for the House to say whether or not such a power as had been exercised by the Chairman should vest in the person who presided over the House of Commons—whether it were Mr. Speaker or the Chairman of Ways and Means. If there was to be no such power, the House would be absolutely powerless. They had seen what had happened in the case of a Bill which the great majority of the House considered of urgent necessity and essential in the best interests of the State. They had seen how helpless the House was under the present Forms of Procedure to get through Bills of first importance and of great public interest, and they had seen how necessary it was to alter those Forms, unless the House meant to allow all Public Business helplessly to drift. Hon. Gentlemen opposite were not in favour of the clôture; but unless some such measure as that were adopted the House of Commons must remain helpless, and in a position to command neither respect from its Members nor from the constituencies outside. He hoped they would not go on further with the discussion, but would be satisfied with simply supporting the authority of the Chair.
said, it seemed to him that the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Home Secretary was thoroughly ashamed of the speech he had just had to deliver. The greater part of it had had nothing whatever to do with the Motion of the right hon. and gallant Member (Sir John Hay), and it was lucky for the Home Secretary that they were no longer under the Rules of Urgency, because, if they had been, he (Mr. Gorst) was by no means sure that it would not have been Mr. Speaker's 1874 duty to have stopped the right hon. and learned Gentleman. It had struck him (Mr. Gorst) that the right hon. and learned Gentleman had been speaking against time—that he had prolonged his speech owing to the extreme thinness of the Benches behind him; but, whether that were so or not, one thing which must have struck everyone who had listened to this short debate was this—that those who had opposed the Motion of his right hon. and gallant Friend had most carefully avoided saying one word as to the justice of the suspension of the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny (Mr. Marum). The worthy Alderman (Mr. R. N. Fowler) considered it his duty to support Mr. Speaker and the Chairman of Ways and Means in their decisions, whether those decisions were right or wrong. But if the hon. Member had himself been one of those who had been suspended from the service of the House, no doubt his feelings would have been altered, and he would have been of opinion, when injustice was done to himself, that that injustice should not have been done. The right hon. and learned Gentleman said there should be no review of these proceedings, because, if they reviewed them in one case, they should review them in all. The best answer to that was that during the past two years there had been scores of hon. Members suspended, and this was only the second case in which the House had been asked to review its decision. There was one case last year in which an appeal to the House to review its decision was made by the right hon. and learned Gentleman (Sir William Harcourt) himself—the House would recollect that the hon. Member for Dungarvan (Mr. O'Donnell) was suspended in consequence of a misapprehension by the Chairman of Committees as to the action that the hon. Member had been taking in Committee, and the person who came forward to ask the House to review its decision was the right hon. and learned Gentleman himself. Though they were accustomed to the right hon. and learned Gentleman's effrontery, he (Mr. Gorst) had been astonished that he should have got up in the House and coolly object to the very course that he himself had taken last year. If the right hon. and learned Gentleman had been right in asking the House to review its decision when a mistake had been made in the case of the 1875 hon. Member for Dungarvan, how could the right hon. and learned Gentleman have had the face to find fault with the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for the Wigton Burghs (Sir John Hay) in asking the House to review its decision when a mistake had been made in the case of the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny? He (Mr. Gorst) stated, without fear of contradiction, that the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny had been included, by mistake, in the list of hon. Members who had obstructed; and in spite of the fact that the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Lyon Playfair) had been advised not to speak on this occasion, he (Mr. Gorst) would challenge him to get up and say that it was not by mistake that the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny had been included on the list. The case stood thus—they had, on the one hand, the testimony of the right hon. and gallant Baronet, who was in the House the whole night of the suspension, and who was no particular friend of the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny. He told them, on his own authority, what was the conduct of the hon. and learned Member on the occasion in question. What had they on the other hand? Why, simply evasion on the part of the Home Secretary, and reticence on the part of the Chairman of Ways and Means; or rather silence, for he would not come forward and speak. Under such circumstances, it appeared to him (Mr. Gorst) that it would be only an act of common justice if the House were to adopt the Motion of his right hon. and gallant Friend, that so much of the Resolution of the House as referred to the suspension of Mr. Marum from the service of the House should be rescinded. He had great hopes that the House would do that, because, in the first place, he saw that the Home Secretary, having delivered himself, had left the House; and, in the second place, because, in his speech, the right hon. and learned Gentleman had not threatened his own personal resignation in case the recommendation he made to the House was not adopted. The fact that the right hon. and learned Gentleman had abstained from such threat might be taken by hon. Members on the Ministerial side of the House as an indication that they might vote according to their con- 1876 sciences—that they were not under the lash of the Treasury Whips, but might act as men who wished fair play. Under these circumstances, he had not much doubt as to what the judgment of the House would be.
§ MR. R. POWER
said, it appeared to him that the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Home Secretary had acted a wise part in not remaining in the House during this debate. The right hon. and learned Gentleman, seemingly, had remembered the lines that—He who fights and runs away,May live to fight another day;and he (Mr. R. Power) congratulated the Leader of Her Majesty's Government upon also being absent on this occasion. The Home Secretary, before taking his departure, however, had given very good advice to the right hon. Gentleman the Chairman of Committees, telling him to remain silent. If that advice were not followed, how would the Chairman of Committees be able to meet this statement—namely, that hon. Members were suspended who had not taken nearly so active a part in the exhaustive discussion of the Coercion Bill as some hon. Members who were not suspended? Those to whom he alluded as having taken an active part in the discussion, without being suspended, were English Members. He alluded to the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. Joseph Cowen), to the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere, and to the hon. Member for Sunderland (Mr. Storey). He was quite prepared to prove that these hon. Gentlemen, who were not suspended, had made more speeches and recorded more votes than some of the hon. Members who were suspended. He could not see why the right hon. and gallant Gentleman the Member for the Wigton Burghs (Sir John Hay) had selected the hon. Member for Kilkenny as the object of his Motion, for hon. Gentlemen had been suspended who had not made as many speeches as the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny, who had not given as many votes, and who had not in any way obstructed the progress of the Prevention of Crime Bill. The difficulty about the matter was this—and he would take his own case—that he found that hon. Gentlemen who had made a far greater number of speeches, and recorded a far greater number of votes, were not 1877 suspended at the time he was suspended. He should like to ask the Home Secretary to explain why that was? They found that the right hon. Gentleman the Chairman of Committees had come down and suspended men who were not in the House at all—men who were, and had been for some hours, in bed. He had suspended Gentlemen who had only spoken once in the debate, and who had only recorded 10 votes during the whole of the discussions on the Bill. It came to this—that he (Mr. R. Power) found he was suspended for actually doing nothing at all. He had given—he was sorry to say—very few votes on the Bill, and had spoken very seldom upon it up to a certain period. After that period, however, he did something—according to English ideas he obstructed the Bill, yet he was not suspended for it. The result of it all was this—the Government turned the Irish Members out of the House, the Irish Members resolved thereafter to take no part in the discussion of the Bill, and through the loss of their votes on an important principle the Government sustained a serious defeat.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, he was not present when the suspensions took place; but he would point out that those suspensions were not merely on the authority of the Chairman of Ways and Means, but by the vote of the House, and on his suggestion. He (Mr. Newdegate) could not believe that that suggestion was made but on grounds that were adequate, although, as the hon. Member (Mr. R. Power) had said, some of those who were suspended might have been less active in persistent Obstruction than others. Above all things, he (Mr. Newdegate) feared the consequences of invalidating the authority of the House. He considered that a most unfortunate precedent was set by the blundering of the House with reference to what had been done in the case of Wilkes. That was the first great precedent upon which some hon. Members were now asking the House to act. Every Parliamentary authority condemned this precedent to which he referred. The Parliamentary authorities said that what had been done in that case had been done for purely Party motives. There was no earthly doubt that the House was right in proceeding against Wilkes, and that their action at that time tended 1878 largely to the prevention of the extension of the French Revolution in this country, and secured our peace and safety. Perhaps the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) was not acquainted with the precedent with which he was dealing, and, therefore, did not understand his citation. If the hon. Member was acquainted with the precedent, he was probably aware that it was considered a most unfortunate one, and that until the proposal before the House was made, it had never been attempted to be followed by the House of Commons. If they were to be suspenders of hon. Members by a vote of the House, and were, within a week, to condemn the action they had taken in so suspending, where, he would ask, would be the authority of the House? Besides, he was not at all clear that there had been a mistake in this case. If there had been, it was too late to correct it—they could not place the hon. Member for Kilkenny in the position of having voted on the questions which had come before the House during the time of his suspension. The House ought to be warned by the evil estimation in which its action in having expunged its proceedings in the case of Wilkes had been held.
§ MR. STOREY
said, that if the House had made a mistake, they ought to acknowledge it, and put the matter right. He was in the North of England at the time the occurrence took place; but he read all about it in the newspapers. When he read about the suspensions he was amazed, particularly in regard to the hon. Gentleman who was mentioned in the present Motion. He (Mr. Storey) knew—and he spoke with no small amount of knowledge on this point—that the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny never had obstructed, had never practised, encouraged, nor advised it. On the contrary, the hon. and learned Member had never done anything more than seek honestly and fairly to amend the provisions of the Bill. He (Mr. Storey) felt bound, moreover, when the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate) spoke about invalidating the authority of the House, to say that by no process could they more discredit themselves or their Chairman of Committees than by insisting on an error when an error had been committed. He was amazed that when 1879 the Chairman was dealing with this matter he did not deal with some Members on this side. If any Member deserved to be suspended, the hon. Member for Northampton did; so did he himself. They and the hon. Member for Newcastle, and the hon. Member for Durham (Mr. T. C. Thompson), did all they could—not in malice, but all in honour—to prevent this Bill from passing. They had endeavoured to have every line and every word of it fully and completely examined, and had protested against it all through; and he must say that some of the Irish Members, having perfect right and justice on their side, would do well when they returned to Ireland to say that there had been hon. Members for English constituencies who voted against this Bill as they had, but had not fallen under this consure. He did not want to go into history; but if he did so he could cite against some of the right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench acts as obstructive, as persistent, as determined as, and much more plainly expressed than, any acts of hon. Members opposite. The right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade on one occasion declared that he had obstructed a measure, and meant to obstruct it; and he (Mr. Storey) thought it would invalidate the authority of the Chair when Irish Members were able to say, and with justice, that one measure was dealt out to Irish Members and another to English Members, although the latter might just as much deserve censure, if any censure was deserved at all. He denied that any censure was deserved, and he felt that great injustice had been perpetrated against the hon. and learned Member for Kilkenny (Mr. Marum), and that the House ought to relieve that Gentleman from the most unpleasant consequences of his being suspended.
§ MR. WARTON
said, he wished on this occasion to act in accordance with his usual principle, and to support the authority of the Chair. It was an unseemly proceeding for the House to be discussing the action of the Chair. It was very well for the hon. Member for Sunderland (Mr. Storey) to say that hon. Members had in past times obstructed Business; but that was in times of unscientific Obstruction; now they had scientific Obstruction; and he should certainly vote against the Motion.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 29; Noes 61: Majority 32.—(Div. List, No. 243.)