HC Deb 05 June 1882 vol 270 cc81-2

I wish to ask the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether any special significance is to be attached to the absence of eight Members of Her Majesty's Government from the division of last Friday night, on the question whether the words "treason or treason-felony" were or were not to be included in the Prevention of Crime Bill—namely, the President of the Board of Trade, the Vice President of the Council, the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, the Secretary to the Treasury, and the Secretary of State for War. I do not know that I need enumerate further. [Cries of "Go on!"] I do not know that the list is complete.


Before the right hon. Gentleman answers the Question, I should like to ask him whether he attaches any special significance to the fact that the majority in favour of the insertion of these two words, "treason or treason-felony," consisted almost as largely of Conservatives as Liberals?


It was my hope that both these questions would have conveyed interesting and detailed information to the House; but I am sorry to find that the statements of fact are rather vague. The hon. Member for Birkenhead has not been able to give us a complete list; and the hon. Gentleman who has last spoken is, I believe, very imperfectly informed indeed, for, if I am not much mistaken, considerably more than a moiety of the majority was composed of Liberals. With respect to the Members of the Government who were not present at the division, I have not attached special significance to the instances, of which, indeed, owing to the failure of the hon. Member in the latter part of his list, I am not yet fully informed. There is no exemption to any Member of Her Majesty's Government from voting in the divisions of the House of Commons in which the Government is concerned; but I should be very sorry if it were a uniform rule to take to task Members who were not present at any division, as I am afraid very severe censure would frequently be bestowed upon me.


I am informed that the Secretary to the Admiralty was one of the absentees.


I am afraid the hon. Gentleman has been misinformed, so far as I am concerned.