HC Deb 10 November 1882 vol 274 cc1206-87

Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Main Question [20th February], as amended, That when it shall appear to Mr. Speaker, or to the Chairman of Ways and Means in a Committee of the whole House, during any Debate, that the subject has been adequately discussed, and that it is the evident sense of the House, or of the Committee, that the Question be now put, he may so inform the House or the Committee; and, if a Motion be made 'That the Question be now put,' Mr. Speaker, or the Chairman, shall forthwith put such Question; and, if the same be decided in the affirmative, the Question under discussion shall be put forthwith: Provided that the Question, 'That the Question be now put,' shall not be decided in the affirmative, if a Division be taken, unless it shall appear to have been supported by more than two hundred Members, or unless it shall appear to have been opposed by less than forty Members and supported by more than one hundred Members."—(Mr. Gladstone.) Main. Question, as amended, again proposed.

Debate resumed.


said, that hon. Members from Ireland had, in his opinion, been very unjustly assailed for voting lately with the Government on the question of the Amendment of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Gibson); but in his (Mr. O'Shea's) opinion, they had acted quite rightly in doing so, though it had been denounced in some quarters as a Government revelling in coercion. He would ask hon. Members to contrast the state of affairs which existed at the time this Resolution was first brought forward, when Ireland was still in the "ursine embrace" of the right hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster) with what it Was now under the right hon. Gentleman the present Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. Trevelyan), when every complaint was investigated with care, and for every grievance that was proved some means of redress were adopted. The fears of the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell) that, under the new Coercion Act, all Constitutional action would cease, and that the country would be thrown into the hands of the secret societies had proved groundless. He considered the proposals of the Government both wise and prudent; and in an issue which, he thought, virtually amounted to one of Confidence or No Confidence in the Government, the moderation of the Government in the execution of a law which might have been used, which was expected to have been used, for the purpose of destroying an opposing Party, was a factor worthy of consideration by the Irish Members. He gave all due praise to the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary, but held that it was high time for the Lord Lieutenant to raise the proclamation of at least some districts of the country. The question, however, that the Irish Members had to consider was, whether the resort to coercion was an adequate reason for an adverse Vote on the present occasion. He wondered whether hon. Members who intended to vote against the Government had studied the letter written to The Times by the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill). Had anything more cynical ever been meted out to hon. Members? The noble Lord requested the votes of the Irish Members for the Amendment, apparently for no particular reason, but as a personal favour. The noble Lord, whether he badgered the Prime Minister, or chevyed and egged on his own Leader, was always a person of consideration. He was fluent almost to eloquence, bold almost to rashness, and aggressive almost to audacity; he possessed comparative youth, and, having also other advantages, and being not too tightly bound by the ties of political Parties, had, no doubt, arrived within a measurable distance of a seat in some Cabinet of the future; but whether as Tory or Liberal he (Mr. O'Shea) would not profess to say. It might safely be said, in words once applied to another considerable statesman, "We are all proud of him." Such was one side of the shield. Turn to the other, and what did they find? "Brass, Sir; sounding brass." No orator could with more ingenuity pervert the meaning of an opponent, or disfigure his reputation. His language was sometimes as reprehensible as that of the army which, under his great ancestor, swore terribly in Flanders. The noble Lord had been endeavouring to enlist Irish recruits to vote against the Resolution, and what did he whisper to them? [An hon. MEMBER: Kilmainham Treaty.] Yes; the noble Lord, when he asked Irish Members to vote against the Government, whispered, "Kilmainham;" but what after nil was that Treaty, as it was called? What was it but a collection of certain ascertained facts, the submission of those facts to a proper quarter, the candid examination of those facts by the Government, and their application, courageously and with foresight, to the circumstances of the case; and that candour, courage, and foresight met with an ample reward in the passage of the Arrears Bill. The noble Lord had whispered to the Irish Representatives that the hon. Member for the City of Cork was a deep politician. Well, he (Mr. O'Shea) could have told them that. The noble Lord had also said that he had always had a certain amount of admiration for Irish Obstruction. [Lord RANDOLPH CHURCHILL: I never said anything of the kind.] Well, at any rate, the noble Lord, with his usual cleverness, had given everyone the idea that he had some sympathy with it; but Irish Obstruction was a corpse, and no one knew better than the hon. Member for the City of Cork that by last June, it was as dead as Julius Cæsesar. When the question was one whether Irish Members should vote for or against Government, he did not think the Irish Members would be attracted by the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock's ribbons, or enlisted by his bad shilling. In conclusion, he could only say that the Prime Minister had declared that these Rules were necessary in order to carry out certain reforms. Hon. Members were well aware that reforms in the past had not applied merely to England and Scotland; and all who heard the speech of the right hon. Gentleman on Wednesday afternoon, would agree that, in the reforms shadowed forth, Ireland was not to be forgotten. Even if that speech had not been delivered, the Minister who disestablished the Irish Church and carried the Land Act would not shrink from further reform in Ireland. There were certain burning questions connected with the Land Act. Those the Premier had promised to take up. If Irish Members turned him out of power, from whom would they expect to get the desired reforms? Not from the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock, nor from the present Leader of the Opposition. Under these circumstances, he (Mr. O'Shea) hoped that Irish Representatives would do nothing which would weaken the power of the Prime Minister to pass reforms that they were all looking for in Ireland, and which must be passed, if peace and contentment were to reign in that country.


Sir, the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Clare (Mr. O'Shea), that the House has just heard, is not an argument either for or against the clôture, but a friendly appeal to his countrymen to vote for the Government. No one has a higher regard for the good intentions of the hon. Gentleman than I have; but it is to be hoped they will not be successful on this occasion. I do something more than hope; indeed, I feel sure they will not. Memories of coercion have not yet died out in this House nor in the country, and it will require more cogent reasons than have yet been adduced to induce the sufferers from coercion to vote for the coercionists. The ropes and irons of the Party stage are too clearly seen through my hon. Friend's appeal. It is a supplement to that of the Prime Minister the other day; but both supplement and original, I am confident, will fail in their purpose. The 1st Rule has now been under consideration for 17 nights. I am not foolish enough to fancy that I can find any fresh arguments in a field of debate that has been so well trodden by so many experienced speakers. But, as I am one of that section of Members that the Rule was designed to put to silence, I wish to record my reasons for resisting it. We want a full and free, but exact and temperate, investigation of all questions by which the different angles and the diversified tints in this political kaleidoscope will be fairly presented. The work of Parliament has been increased, and is increasing. The character of the work and the composition of the House have both changed. These changes necessitate a revision of the Rules. We recognize this as clearly as the Government do, and are as desirous as they are for rubbing off the rust and adapting our forms to the ever-shifting conditions of the country and the times. But we seek to change for the better. It is to be feared the Government are about to change for the worse. Complaints have been made of the prolixity and irrelevance of much of the speaking that takes place. We are told in effect, if not in words, that the faculty of Parliament has run to talk, and that a good deal of the talk has degenerated into drivel. Desire is expressed for greater condensation and clearness. It is a consummation devoutly to be wished. But I suspect we are all offenders in that respect—some of us unconscious offenders. We mistake bulk for strength. We draw out the thread of our verbosity finer than the staple of our arguments. If the Government could secure—either by Rule, by precept, or, better still, by example—more simplicity in statement, greater compression of argument, and perspicuity of language, they would confer a blessing, not only on the House, but upon the nation. But will their plan do this? They can call for brevity, but will it come when they do call? The clôture will impede the general action. Of that there can be no doubt. But if it is to act impartially, it will have to be imposed on individuals as well as on the House. If it be not so imposed, some speakers—Ministers, for example—will get a profusion of the time, and others will get none. Yet you cannot compel different minds to limit their treatment of the same subject to a Procrustean standard of a given number of minutes or hours. Some speakers are ornate and elaborate, others sententious and brief, others didactic, and others declamatory; yet all may be equally effective, and equally natural. Such a Rule would not be equitably inforced. It would be relaxed for Members possessing other advantages. Ministers would be allowed to transgress it with impunity, and favourites with the House would be indulged. But the habit of relaxation once admitted, the exceptional practice will be frequently resorted to, and used by majorities to serve Party ends; while obscure or obnoxious Members, defending unpopular but useful causes, will have it inforced against them with literal exactitude. A general clôture, therefore, will act unequally, and an individual clôture will act unfairly. The purpose of the Rule is to secure greater speed in legislation. The delay that now occurs is a weariness of the flesh—of Ministerial flesh especially. I am not sure whether this artificial craving for legislation is a healthy sign. We are being legislated out of our liberty. The whole population is being dragooned and driven out of all sense of self-respect and self-reliance. That laws have profoundly affected national character no one denies. I am willing to admit, too, that many of the measures the Government have in contemplation are necessary, and that some of them are urgent. But they are not everything— How small, of all that human hearts endure, The part which Laws or Kings can cause or cure. The difference between a physician and a quack is this—a physician knows and admits that his powers are limited. He can aid Nature. He can help her to remove obstruction, and clear away abnormal growths. But he cannot re-create a broken constitution, or make a perforated lung do the work of a sound one. But a quack with his pills, and his plasters, and his potions, will undertake to cure all the ills that flesh is heir to. In like manner, the genuine reformer knows that the living law is the thought of the people, and that all Par- liament can do is to fit that thought to the life of the nation. Political empirics, on the other hand, will engage to cut out a social cancer by the ballot-box. With them a Bill is a Bill, although there is nothing in it. It is not so much speed in legislation that is wanted as skill. It is not quantity, but quality that is required. The highest interests of the State would often be better served by the wise and liberal administration of old laws than by the high pressure production of new and imperfect ones. A great part of the time of this House is spent in correcting previous mistakes. Like tilers, when mending one hole, legislators usually make another. The Government hold in one hand a batch of Bills, and in the other a bundle of fetters. Give us these gags, they say, and we will give you these Bills. I would rather want the Bills than purchase them at such a price. Obstruction or no Obstruction, necessary legislation will come in due time if people want it. Free speech is more precious than all the measures in the Ministerial portfolio. Error of opinion may be tolerated as long as there is left the right to combat it. Discussion is a bulwark against oppression, and the sheet anchor of liberty. Obstruction is of two kinds—purposeless and patriotic. The first is conceived in mischief, sustained by faction, and by whomsoever practised is indefensible. Futile and tautological talk, whether originated in malice, in vanity, or in ignorance, designed to obstruct necessary Public Business, is intolerable. But patriotic Obstruction is the protest of the minority against the arrogance of Office and the intolerance of power. It is often useful, and sometimes essential. It is the reserve power—the last Parliamentary defence against the encroachments of Ministers or majorities. If the House parts with it, they part with a weapon that has secured its liberties in the past, and may be required to defend them in the future. The Prime Minister said, in introducing the Resolutions, and he has repeated the remark often since, that Obstruction in an aggravated form first showed itself last Session. I wish to speak with all deference of any statement respecting the Business of the House made by one with such varied and extensive knowledge; still I venture to contest the historical accuracy of that assertion. The existence of Obstruction as a Parliamentary practice must not be reckoned by Sessions, or decades, or generations, but by centuries. It is certainly older than the Reformation. Henry VIII. pleaded its existence in his day as a reason why certain changes promised to the Pope had not been made. He explained that unfettered discussion was the inalienable right of the British Parliament, which neither Crown nor Chancellor could restrain. Ministers might copy with advantage so unpromising an exemplar as the illiberal Tudor King. Queen Elizabeth, in whose Reign the foundation of our present Parliamentary government was laid, and in in which some of the Rules they were now about to destroy were adopted, chided a Speaker of the House with having spent a whole Session in mere talk. But let me cite a later and more striking instance. After the Stuart Rising in 1715, the House of Commons, by an unwarrantable stretch of authority, lengthened its life from three years to seven. The Bill for doing this was strenuously opposed by some of the Peers. In the quaint language of the historian of the day, the Duke of Buckingham, the Earl of Nottingham, Lord Trevor, Lord Aylesford, and other Noblemen, made repeated Motions for Adjournment, and numerous and long speeches, with a view of putting off the passage of the Bill to another Session. Here we have, as far gone as 167 years ago, Obstruction of the exact character complained of—talking to produce delay in the hope that delay would insure defeat. During the French War the Whigs persistently and wilfully obstructed the Government of Mr. Pitt. Mr. Fox, who will be accepted as an authority on this side at least, boasted that, for over a period of 20 years, he never entered the House without speaking once and sometimes six times in a sitting. Similar instances could be multiplied indefinitely. But I put these cases rapidly before you to show that Obstruction was coeval with the existence of Parliament. It is incidental to, and an invariable accompaniment of, government by discussion. It has been resorted in times very different from the present, by all Parties, and by men of the greatest eminence in the State. It is not, as the Prime Minister Contended, a recent Irish invention. The work of last Session has been emphasized. But, according to the Government's own showing, that was a hard and exception Session. And hard and exceptional cases make bad laws. Last Session one Bill—the hateful and humiliating Bill under whose arbitrary powers 1,000 men were imprisoned without trial, without accusation, and without opportunity of defence or explanation—was obstructed. Yes, obstructed; justifiably obstructed! Looking back upon that measure, the dishonouring memories of which will be burnt into the reputation of its authors, the surprise is that it was not met with much more desperate resistance than mere Parliamentary Obstruction. If 1,000 men had been imprisoned in Turkey, or Austria, or Italy, we would have had unctuous appeals to the sacred right of insurrection, and covert incentives to rebellion, from our Liberal coercionists. If ever there was a measure which warranted resort to every form of resistance that the House supplied to defeat it, it was that infamous Coercion Bill—a Bill, too, that the Government, six months after its passage, had to admit was a hideous failure. But while we hear a good deal of the Obstruction of last Session, we hear little of the Obstruction of last Parliament. The Obstruction of last Parliament was very different from the Obstruction of last Session. Last Session there was Obstruction to one measure; but last Parliament there was Obstruction to all measures. It was not a specific policy that was obstructed, but the entire administrative and legislative action of the Government of the day. Liberals had reasoned themselves into the belief that the foreign policy of Lord Beaconsfield was not only injurious, but that it was immoral. They regarded him as an international mischief-maker, who, in the plentitude of his power, went roving round the world in search of opportunities for aggression and occasions for display. They believed it to be their duty, not only to their country, but to their consciences, to resist him. The Prime Minister declared, on a well-known occasion, that the set purpose of his life was to counter-work his rival's designs; and that to such end he laboured day by day and hour by hour. The opposition to his domestic policy was as determined, although less displayed. The Government Bills were described as either bad or useless. If bad, they ought not to pass; if useless, they need not pass. A barricade was thus drawn across the Parliamentary passage, and little allowed to pass, except necessary measures, and these only after exhausting rebuffs. The Irish Members were blamed. Yes, they got the blame, but others got the benefit. They pulled the chestnuts out of the fire. Others ate them. Some of the Irish Members who were in the last Parliament, might, if they were so minded, a tale unfold that would disturb the equanimity of their cantankerous critics. If the hon. Member for Cavan (Mr. Biggar) would recount a few passages from his Parliamentary autobiography, they would be more interesting and instructive. My hon. Friend may probably remember a summer Wednesday, three years ago, when he was invited to give, by one of those processes in which he is an adept, the quietus to a Bankruptcy Bill. How he acceded to the request and fulfilled it! This was set down to Irish Obstruction. The finger points on the dial were Irish truly; but the mechanism that moved them was of another nationality. The Bill was defeated, and no like measure had since reached so advanced a stage. Now mark the Nemesis. Bankruptcy is one of the questions that the Government are specially anxious to legislate upon, and Grand Committees are one of their remedies for Parliamentary congestion. Here was a Bankruptcy Bill drawn by Sir John Holker and Lord Cairns—two men who, whatever may be said of them as politicians, are of uncontested authority as lawyers—and the late Ministry, with a view of hastening its passage, proposed to try experimentally the scheme of Grand Committees that the Government are now initiating. Yet the Bill and the project for the Grand Committees were defeated at the instance and suggestion of Liberal Clôturists, who are now clamouring for both. When I listen to the daily diatribes against Irish Obstructives; when I hear them described as men beyond the pale of decent politics, and recall how often Obstruction has been made a ladder upon which aspiring partizans have climbed to Office, any lingering respect I ever had for Party ethics expires. It is needless to speculate on the arrival of America political practices. We have them already in operation amongst us. The remedy is said to be a Radical one. But it is radically wrong. It strikes at the system, and not at the offenders. It punishes the whole, for the peccadilloes of a part. A man is talkative and troublesome; therefore they punish his neighbour, who is quiet and silent. That is the logic of the Government Resolution. If a man voluntarily enters a society, he must work within its rules. It is folly for anyone to join a body they intend to defy. If any man intentionally and deliberately breaks the rules, let them silence him, suspend him, or expel him. Do any, do all of these thing, if the circumstances warrant. But because one man, or a section of men, are guilty of offences, it is neither wise nor fair to impose galling restrictions upon those who fight fairly within the lists. Why is the majority to close a debate, and when is it to do so? Why, because the arguments of the Opposition are too strong to be answered. When? When the majority want to go to bed, or to dinner, or to some more agreeable occupation. Then they will close it. Ministers are taking powers not merely to regulate, but to annihilate discussion—not to curtail debate, but to strangle it. They would reduce the right of the minority to a nullity. If a discussion could be closed at any time the majority wished, it could be closed after two speeches had been delivered as easily as after ten. What is to prevent them thus closing it? Nothing, save their weak sense of justice towards troublesome opponents. And the sense of justice in an angry, impatient, and irritated majority, whether Liberal or Conservative, would be weak indeed. But it is said they will not use their power tyrannically. Will not they? I, for one, will not trust them. It is not good for their health—their mental or moral health—to have such powers. The bare possession of such will tempt them into excesses. Men do, as a body, things that, as individuals, they would shrink from and feel ashamed of. They have a convenient way of throwing the responsibility upon a Party when that responsibility is inconvenient. They may speak fair, and, for the moment, mean fair; but when their passions are roused, their tempers ruffled, and their interests assailed—when the honours and emoluments of Office are in the balance—it would be dangerous to trust the best intentioned majority. Englishmen, whatever other differences divide them, are proud of their Parliament. It is bound by a thousand bands to their interests and affections. Through the darkening centuries it has been a temple of law and liberty, of eloquence and history. In it the rights and dignities of the people have victoriously struggled against the absolute powers and omnipotence of any one man. Here we have torn in tatters, we have trampled underfoot the humiliating theory of an Autocracy, while it had found a lodgment and taken root in nearly every other country of Europe. We are now about to change its character—to degrade it from a deliberative Assembly into a registry office, where the commands of the Caucuses, and the fulminations of the Party Pres3, may be chronicled. The doctrine of the advocates of the clôdture, when stripped of all surplusage, is this. They argue that, in recent years, the position of public affairs has greatly altered. Information that was once the exclusive possession of a favoured few is now the common property of all. News of events that transpire at the other side of the Globe and in our most distant Dependencies is flashed here in a few hours. The world has become a vast whispering gallery. Reports of the Business transacted in this House reach Cromarty and Cornwall, Dover and Donegal, almost as soon as they do the City. This rapidity of communication, and this multiplication of the means of publicity, have quickened public life and intensified discussion. Opinion, as a consequence, ripens more rapidly. The sentiments prevailing this year may not be entertained next. They wish to bring Parliament into closer contact with the constituencies. They would have it reflect not merely the convictions, but the caprices of the House. They would make it as sensitive to every passing breeze as the leaves of the aspen. That is their argument. I hope I have stated it fairly. But public opinion is a variable and fluctuating force. What is public opinion in one district is not public opinion in another. And which opinion is to guide us? Is it to be the public opinion of the smug and cowardly respectability of Islington or Clapham, or of the Lothians, or the public opinion of the pinched and perishing peasantry of the "West of Ireland? Is it to be the opinion of the political lotus-eaters, who doze away their days in sleepy Pall Mall Clubs, or the opinion of the militant Democracy in the North of England? Which—the opinion of "society," as they call it, or of the "masses"—is to rule? In the vocabulary of genuine Democracy the people means not a majority, but the entire body of the citizens. It means not merely the landless, but the landed—not only the leisured, but the labouring classes. How are their opinions to be reached, and where can they find utterance? How—but by the verdict of the constituent body, solemnly and deliberately given; and where—but in this Assembly? If the machinery is faulty, mend it. If the electorate is too contracted, widen it. But, with all its defects, this House is the only place where the measured views of all classes and creeds, of all Parties and interests, find legitimate expression. If Parliament drifts out of harmony with the electorate, dissolve it. Let elections be more frequent if you like; but, while a Parliament lasts, it is the organized expression of popular will; and to supersede it or override it by the desultory decisions of the platform, the club, or the market place, is contrary to the spirit, if not to the letter, of the law. Legislation is a matter of reason and judgment. But how can there be reason, where determination precedes discussion; when, as Mr. Burke worded it, one set of men deliberates, and another set decides? If we are merely to vote as we are told—which is the motto of the Caucus—why are we sent here? It is a great waste of power, of health, of time, and of temper. Instead of 600, 60, or, indeed, 6 would suffice. All that is wanted is a body of experts to whom the decisions taken in the different constituencies might be sent. They might be tabulated, and formulated, and summarized—handed first to a draftsman to embody in Bills, and then to an Executive to put in operation. The Prime Minister desires to lessen the amount of speaking. This is an easy plan of doing it. The work of legislation might be greatly simplified by such a course of procedure. Government shrinks from such a result; but it is the logical, inevitable, and irresistible outcome of their course of action. They may shut their eyes to it as they like; but it is to that end we are drifting steadily. Public opinion, if genuine and spontaneously expressed, I will defer to, although differing from it; but public opinion, when it is manufactured, I disregard. I say "manufactured," for it is manufactured—cast, as they cast railway chairs, according to pattern. We are all familiar with the process. We know how resolutions are drawn by the head centre and sent to the branches for adoption—how a dozen or a score of self-appointed and irresponsible officials, with little discussion and less knowledge, adopt them, and re-transmit them in Petitions to Parliament or Memorials to Ministers. The Prime Minister has received 180 of these deceptive documents in support of the clôture. They are paraded as the decisions of the constituencies but the constituencies knew nothing either of the meetings, the men who called them, or the measures their support was pledged to. We have heard of an organized hypocrisy; but this certainly is an organized imposition. A further argument for the proposed change is the alteration that has come over another department of public life. The floor of the House of Commons, in the estimation of some, has ceased to be the exclusive, or even the most effective, platform from which to address the nation. In the great Council of the State, which holds its debates in the columns of the Press, public questions are sifted and settled; and all that this Assembly is required to do, or, indeed, can do, is to give force and form to the decisions thus arrived at. Now, I have no wish to disparage the Press, nor undervalue its influence; but I object to assign to it attributes it does not aspire to, or power it does not possess. The Press is, primarily, a record in which is outlined the salient features of our restless, diffuse, and fragmentary life. It is a panorama on which are photographed the swiftly moving incidents of a busy existence. It is an expositor through whose agency confused and complicated reports are sifted, facts discovered, and then disseminated. It is, too, an educator whose influence reaches through all the ramifications of society—from the palace to the prison. But it is vested with no representative function, and only in a limited degree can it be called an organ of public opi- nion. Newspapers express, often in a discursive and cursory way, the opinion of their conductors; but it is gross exaggeration to assume that they express the opinion of the public. Men derive from newspapers the material for discussion; but it is ignorance on the part of politicians, and vanity on the part of journalists, to pretend that the opinion of the newspapers and the opinion of the public are always synonymous. More than once during these debates, what is termed the un business like character of the proceedings has been referred to, and a hope has been expressed that the arrangements of the House should be assimilated to those of a Board of Directors. I have little respect for, and no sympathy with, such suggested perversion. To contemplate the lowering to the level of a mercantile Company an historical Assembly which has been the cradle of the liberties of modern Europe, and the political and legislative sanctuary of a great and free people, proves how the spirit and faith of a country, through a long course of prosperity and a sordid worship of success, can become un aspiring and materialistic; how the motives of nationality and patriotism, of reverence and courtesy, lose their force, and cease to be springs of action and guides of life. Never, I trust, will the British House of Commons degenerate into a shop or a counting-housel nor legislation, which, in its loftiest purposes, is the most solemn duty that man can discharge for his fellow-men which builds up the character and influences the destinies of a nation; which secures the rights, the liberties, and the property of the people, become a trade. We may cut away a mouldering branch from our Parliamentary system; but we should remember that the trophies of the past are essential to elucidate and confirm the wisdom of the present. Idolatry of the immediate dwarfs and deforms national character. Let us recast our Rules, brush the dust off them, adapt them to modern requirements, but preserve the spirit and continuity of our proudly treasured historical traditions. I would not touch one of our old customs that does not stand in the way of necessary and urgent change. A breath blows the glory of ages away. The quaint call of "Who goes home?" when the House is up—what a vista of social vicissitude it summons to the memory! The grating on the doorway—what stalwart conflicts between the Representative and the Regal power it recalls! Some of the Regulations we are now asked to rescind have historical significance which kindle generous emotions when we reflect on the efforts made to win them. Change we must have, but that now sought is excessive and bewildering. It involves momentous innovations amounting to a revolution of Parliamentary Procedure, and is contrary to the temper and inimical to the interests of the Legislature.


said, that he felt some diffidence in rising to speak, for he thought the House could scarcely have recovered from the effects of the address which had just been delivered by his hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle (Mr. Joseph Cowen). While he thoroughly agreed with many of the noble sentiments which his hon. Friend had so eloquently addressed to the House, he found a difficulty in seeing the immediate connection they had with the question before them. There had been some reference to history, and a great deal of abuse of the Liberal Party in the last Parliament; but these were not matters which affected that issue. The speech of his hon. Friend assumed the question which was really to be discussed. His hon. Friend showed the importance of freedom of speech, and denounced interference with it; but he (Mr. Charles Russell) failed to see how his hon. Friend had shown that the Resolution was intrinsically wrong, or that the probable operation of it would be to interfere with the freedom of speech in any real sense. As an Irish Liberal Member, the third who had spoken, he desired particularly to explain his views upon this question, because he believed many of his hon. Friends opposite of the Irish Party intended to take a different course to his on this subject to-night. Well he (Mr. Charles Russell) would say, without affectation, that he desired to act, as far as in his judgment he thought right, in unison with those hon. Gentlemen. He recognized their efforts, and he wished, as far as possible, consistently with his sense of duty, to act with them. He therefore regretted that, after a fair and impartial consideration of the subject, he felt himself obliged to separate from them on this occasion. The House had already affirmed the Resolution, by voting against the Amendment proposed by the hon. and learned Member for Brighton (Mr. Marriott) and the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Gibson), and it was, therefore, idle to argue it at length. To his mind, there was nothing unjust or contrary to good sense or to reason in the proposal contained in this Resolution. If he believed that the Resolution involved, in any real sense, a curtailment of fair debate, he should certainly vote against it; but his conviction was that it would have the opposite effect. With reference to the Resolution, it must be obvious to all that the question before them had already been decided in one form or another. There, he maintained, was an inherent right in every deliberative Assembly to determine when a subject had been sufficiently discussed; and there was nothing unreasonable in a proposal that the House of Commons should exercise that power when, in the opinion of the Speaker, there had been adequate debate, and that it was the general sense of the House that a division should be taken without further delay. In former times a sort of informal but very effective form of clôture had been put into force in that House, when a subject had been deemed to have been sufficiently discussed, by means of a turbulent and disorderly expression of opinion, and a refusal to hear any more speeches. What was that but the surrender of the minority to the expressed wish of the majority. He (Mr. Charles Russell) said that the clôture had existed in some shape or other in every deliberative Assembly, just as Obstruction had existed in some shape or form. But the real ground of opposition to this power of clôture was because of the use which it was predicted would be made of it; and it had been said by Irish Members that it would act injuriously upon them, by curtailing their rights in the exercise of the duty which they owed to their country; but he maintained that such was not the case. What had been the experience of other countries on the point? He did not mean to dispute the proposition of the noble Viscount the Member for Liverpool (Viscount Sandon) that it might be possible to point to more than one deliberative Assembly in which, in times of great excitement or under certain exceptional circumstances, the power of clôture had been abused; but, on the whole, the experience of foreign countries showed that endeavours to smother and check fair debate by an abuse of the power were of very rare occurrence. Hon. Gentlemen opposite had conjured up to themselves pictures of an infuriate and solid majority acting upon a partizan Speaker, and applying the clôture under those circumstances. What was the real protection against this? Were minorities left altogether unprotected where the clôture was in force? It must be remembered that all experience had shown that there was a power which was greater than the power of a Government, and which was greater than that of even Parliament itself, because it made and unmade Governments and made and reconstituted Parliaments. It was that of the healthy, vigorous, and living force of public opinion, which would sweep away any Government which ventured to abuse the power of clôture by endeavouring to put down freedom of speech. He, therefore, thought that the fears which hon. Members opposite expressed on this subject were greatly and grossly exaggerated. Exaggeration on this subject, however, had not been confined to one side of the House. There was great exaggeration in the view that was put forward by some hon. Members near him that the clôture would save an enormous consumption of time. That it would save considerable time he hoped; but there was no warrant for supposing that it would effect the great change that some hon. Members appeared to anticipate it would. And here he would remark that the real relief to the Business of the House was to be found, not be much by alteration of the Procedure in that Chamber, but in the redistribution of the power of the House, such as would suit the circumstances in which they now found themselves. The hon. and learned Member for Mayo (Mr. O'Connor Power) in his able speech, had said that as regarded Irish Business, at least, the real relief to the Business of that House would be found in the re-establishment of an Irish Parliament. For his own part, he (Mr. Charles Russell) could not but think that this question of Home Rule for Ireland was fast ripening, so that it must early come up for consideration before the House in some shape or other; but he would say to his hon. Friends that surely a practical politician would take the wise course before that event; and the course which the great body of the people of Ireland would desire would be to use the Parliamentary machinery they had to turn out the best legislation for the good of Ireland that they could get. In the course of the debate he had been speculating upon what would be the course of the future action of the great Conservative Party with reference to the clôture. They had been told that this Resolution was the application of the gag to Parliament, that it throttled freedom of speech, and that it wrested from its sacred resting-place the great palladium of the House of Commons. If that were go, it would be wrong to use such a power at any time. He should, however, like to know whether, when the Conservative Party again came into Office, they would propose a repeal of this Resolution? [Mr. RITCHIE: Yes.] The hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets cried out "Yes;" but he (Mr. Charles Russell) strongly suspected that the Conservative Party, when they came into power, would accept the weapon which was placed in their hands, fie believed it would only be another instance in which they would be found to oppose measure after measure which Liberal politicians felt the needs of the country required, but which when in Office they cheerfully accepted. But leaving that he would address himself to a branch of the question which, he confessed, had more attraction for him—he meant in reference to the Irish Members, and in what way it was suggested this clôture power would act injuriously upon them, in the exercise of those duties they owed to their constituencies and their country. He would examine calmly and quietly that question, and he thought that it would not be denied that the position of the Irish Members in the House of Commons was peculiar. They represented a cause which was, to a great extent, unpopular—they represented interests which, as his hon. Friend the Member for Aylesbury (Mr. George Russell) had said on the previous evening—and he was sorry to be compelled to confess the truth of the statement—the English people had to be educated in; and in these circumstances, and, above all, in the fact that they were not backed up by the force of the great public opinion of England, and had not access to the organs of public opinion in England, made the position of Irish Representatives peculiar, and should make the House of Commons careful how they dealt with them. Because he claimed for the Irish Members that they were entitled to special consideration, and that it would, be a bad thing for the Government of the country—the most awful reproach that could be levelled at the efficiency of Parliament—to legislate for Ireland, if it could be truly said that the Irish Representatives were not allowed to address and develop their arguments fully to the ear of the House. In that consideration was the real protection and strength of the Irish minority in the House of Commons; because he could not doubt that considerations of that kind must be present to the minds of the great majority of the House when discussing these Resolutions. If an Irish Member was particularly anxious to show that the House of Commons was unequal to deal with the legislative needs of Ireland, and he (Mr. Charles Russell) were that Irish Member, there was nothing that he would rejoice at more than the existence and the application of the clôture when it could be said that it had been unfairly applied. In that consideration resided the real protection of the minority. But he (Mr. Charles Russell) would ask—What was the country that had suffered most from the inefficiency of Parliament, to devote sufficient time to the legislation necessary for the good of the people? Ireland unquestionably. They admitted that, within recent years, attention had been given in Parliament to great remedial measures for Ireland; but compare the length of time devoted to those measures with the measures of every kind that had been passed for the other portions of the United Kingdom. Why Ireland suffered most was clear—it was because the interest represented by the greatest number, backed up by the greatest public opinion, must have precedence. And what he particularly wished to accentuate in that debate was, that one of the vices of Irish legislation was that it was always too long delayed. Most of the Irish measures, if they had become law five or ten years before they were passed, would have done twice the amount of good for the people they had effected. For that reason he thought it would be for the good of Ireland that legislation in that House should be expedited. He said, therefore, that an Irish minority, anxious to have good legislation for their country, would benefit by the change. Let him call the attention of his hon. Friends opposite (the Irish Members) to the present position. Did they prefer to the Rules before the House, which proposed a regular, Constitutional, and well-formulated mode in which the power of clôture was to be used, the Rules of Urgency, which no man, reading and calmly considering, could do otherwise than denounce as unjust; and could such powers for the protection of minorities as they gave be compared to the protection which was given by the Chair and by the necessity of the vote which was specified in the Resolution? He had endeavoured to show that in the Resolution there was nothing unreasonable, and to show that there was no good ground for apprehension. He understood that the reason for opposing the Resolution which had been given by some hon. Members opposite was that by doing so they were striking a blow at the Government of Coercion. He was as much opposed to coercion as any of his hon. Friends opposite; and he would say he was as strenuous in his opposition to the coercive measures of the Government as any of his hon. Friends; but was he to understand that the blow which they were going to give to a coercive Government was to help a Government which was not coercive? He failed to see how Ireland could benefit by substituting a Conservative for a Liberal Government. What part of the policy of the present Government had received a more cordial support from the Opposition than the measures of coercion? Why, the Opposition had only one fault to find with the measures of coercion, and that was that they did not go far enough. They had made two complaints, indeed; first of all, before they were passed, that they were not sufficiently stringent; and, next, after they had been passed, that they were not put into action often enough. He would look a little further into the question, if only for a moment. The Irish Party wanted several measures, and wanted them early. They wanted the amendment of the Land Act, in order to give effect to the intentions of the Legislature; they wanted an amend- ment of the Arrears Bill; they wanted a change of the Grand Jury system, they wanted a measure of Local Government, they wanted an assimilation of the franchise and decentralization. Were they going to give a blow to the Government of Coercion in order to help a Government that was opposed to all these measures, and in order to put out a Government which had certainly, with no uncertain voice, spoken in regard to some of them at least, and promised to help them forward? Would the position of the Irish people be bettered by putting into power men who had uniformly resisted every measure which the people of Ireland desired? He would take leave to say that Ireland needed these measures. She needed them promptly; and he hoped and desired to say, in the presence of the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Government, that he hoped that mistake, which had so often been made in past times, of delaying these measures until they were robbed of their efficacy by the delay would be avoided. He would touch, lastly, upon one measure, of which the Prime Minister had spoken, and spoken clearly—he meant the question of local self-government for Ireland. He (Mr. Charles Russell) regarded that as one of the most important measures that could be passed for Ireland; and he thought it would minimize the great evil of Ireland—the centralization of government. He hoped, too, it would bring home to the Irish people the thing which, in his judgment, above all other things they wanted, a sense of responsibility in the conduct and the management of their own affairs, which sense of responsibility could never exist until they had at least power of self-government. These were the grounds upon which he could not see the justification for the course his hon. Friends opposite were going to take, and he had thought it respectful to them and to the House to state them.


supported the Resolution; and, as one who was often in a minority on certain questions, was convinced that the rights of small minorities were protected. While listening to the speech of his hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle (Mr. Joseph Cowen), he could not help reflecting upon what he must regard as cross-grained and twisted, as far as his hon. Friend's remarks dealt with his old Associates and Friends. If they were going to war, his hon. Friend opposed war; but under the late Government he was clamorous for war. If they were proposing any measure of reform, he fell foul of it, and received counsel from the other side. Was he going to obliterate the impress of his life, in order to cast taunts at his Brethren on that side of the House? It seemed to him (Mr. Hopwood) that his hon. Friend had entirely overshot the mark; and he (Mr. Hopwood) must be pardoned if he thought it was due to the fact of its having been composed by the aid of the "midnight oil," and with a view to elicit the cheers of the Opposition. To do that, and to write down passages consisting of maxims on the subject of who was, a quack and who was a wise physician, and to repeat them in the House for the gratification of the opposing patriots, was not the mid-zenith of a career which he (Mr. Hopwood) should imagine for himself, but was one which his hon. Friend seemed to have achieved for himself. Of what use was it to tell them that Mr. Fox sometimes obstructed? Undoubtedly he did; and what harm was there in that sort of Obstruction? And who was there amongst the Liberal Party that objected to Obstruction of that kind, or who, if that were the sole matter to be cured, would call even for the present mild form of cure? It was a specious argument to employ; but it was easily seen through. The hon. Member for Newcastle had no objection to the clôture, if only it was to be employed for the silencing of an unpopular Member. There was nothing in the Rule that would be applied with excessive danger when the time came; and the hon. Member, who talked a great deal about the boasted liberties and ancient memories of the House, was really animated by secret exasperations and a hatred of the Party amid whose Representatives he sat. The hon. Member, however, need not have any apprehensions as to the operation of the Rule, for it was much more likely to be applied in the case of a Member who was unpopular, or who was the object of popular rancour, than in any other case, and it was most unlikely that he would ever find himself driven into silence by it. In his (Mr. Hopwood's) opinion, this mild Resolution, which, while it gave the initiative in closing debate to the Chair, left the decision to the majority, constituted the best and the wisest method, and that most consistent with the Forms of the House for meeting the great difficulty with which they had to deal. He would not further dwell upon the matter, but only express a hope that under its operation the hon. Member for Newcastle might long exercise his great oratorical powers, receiving the respectful attention of the House. At the same time, he could not help thinking that the speech the hon. Member had just delivered was based upon exaggeration, and entirely unworthy of the speaker.


also thought the speech they had just listened to from the hon. and learned Member for Dundalk (Mr. Charles Russell) might pass for good bunkum; but it revealed a very poor idea of eloquence in the hon. and learned Gentleman who had delivered it. He (Mr. Daly) had always entertained Liberal opinions, and should find it very much against his grain to vote with the Tories on that occasion; but he wished it to be understood that the vote would be given less from any sympathy he had with the Tories than from antagonism to the Government that had introduced the clôture. The hon. and learned Member for Dundalk had spoken of the deterrent action of popular opinion being strongly called into play against any Minister who applied the clôture rashly; but the hon. and learned Member was surely aware that the clôture would be applied by the preponderating votes of hon. Members sitting behind the Treasury Benches—Members of the Whig Party, who had only been second to the Tories in their oppression of Ireland. Beyond that, past experience had shown the uselessness of Irish Members appealing to public opinion in England. He believed that if the Government had had the courage to carry out the Land Act in the form in which they had conceived it, instead of allowing it to be maimed and mutilated by Whig landlords in the House, they would have by that time nearly a clean sheet in Ireland, so far as regarded agrarian crime. He admitted that the Party with whom he acted had offered great provocation; but he believed that the historian of the future would be able to point out how the objects desired by hon. Members opposite could have been attained by some other way than by the introduction of the clôture. His opinion was that, if it was to be adopted, the initiative of the clôture ought to be thrown upon the Premier for the time being; for he believed that, if this system once came into operation, it would be almost impossible to find a Speaker possessing the same independence as the present respected occupant of the Chair. He thought that the clôture would only be another name for despotism, and that what in the Resolution was called "the evident sense of the House" would, of necessity, in the future be merely the strength of the clamour of the majority, which it would be in the power of the Leader of the House at any moment to obtain from the Smoking Room and Library of the House, for the purpose of pushing forward official legislation. It was his intention to vote against the Government on the broad principle of the application of the clôture, which he thought a most objectionable and dangerous innovation; and he thought the very men who were now responsible for the measure would, in after years, come to regret having tampered with liberty of speech in that House. As to the appeal of the hon. and learned Member for Dundalk to him (Mr. Daly) and his Friends to support the Government on account of their promised Irish legislation, he was one of those who, for the future, intended to be guided solely by what he regarded as Irish interests, without reference either to the Liberal or the Tory Party.


said, that at a comparatively early stage of the discussion the matter had been worn so threadbare, that new argument was out of the question; and it was only owing to the fact that certain changes of recent occurrence had very much complicated the position of many Irish Members who, like himself, found themselves compelled to support the Resolution, that he felt himself reluctantly obliged to forego the pleasure he always appreciated highly of being allowed to give a silent vote. The subject had been represented to the Irish people as a gag aimed directly and exclusively against the Irish Members, and that by its means Ireland would be deprived of the small shred of Constitutional liberty still left to her. That, he maintained, was a mistaken idea; and, if he were not fully convinced of its futility, he should certainly have gone into the Lobby with his hon. Friends opposite (the Irish Party). The legislative machine had become unwieldy long before the hon. Member for Cork City (Mr. Parnell) and his Friends took the action in the House which had been so much animadverted upon; and although the course which those hon. Gentlemen had thought it right to pursue might have aggravated the state of matters, it would be quite an error to assume that the block of Business was due entirely to the conduct of Irish Members, or that the remedy now proposed for correcting it was solely aimed against the Representatives of the Sister Country. At an early period of the debate, a remarkable and salutary change had come over the attitude of the hon. Member for the City of Cork and his Friends. He (Mr. Errington) gave the hon. Member credit for being actuated by fair and honourable motives, and he would never do anything to increase the difficulties which lay in the hon. Gentleman's path; but he would appeal to the hon. Gentleman and his Friends to accept facts as they were. He regarded the clôture as the only means by which the great objects of Irish policy could be carried out, and he appealed to the extreme Home Rule section of the House to invest the Government with the means of giving effect to these objects. Some comprehensive and stringent measures were imperatively required to render the legislative machine strong and effective for its work; and no part of the United Kingdom was so much interested in the attainment of that end as Ireland, because, in the matter of legislation, that country, owing to a variety of circumstances, had been backward indeed as compared with England and Scotland. The whole foundation on which Irish policy had been built for a very long period was that many reforms were urgently needed in Ireland; but as long as the legislative inefficiency of the House continued, it was absolutely impossible that those measures could be satisfactorily dealt with and passed into law. In an article in The Fortnightly Review, the hon. Member for Wexford Borough (Mr. Healy) said that what the Irish Party wanted for Ireland was not, after all, very extravagant—namely, Parliamentary, municipal, Poor Law, Grand Jury, and registration reforms, the development of the Land Act, and some species of self-government. He (Mr. Errington) concurred generally with the hon. Member as to the necessity of those measures, though he did not, perhaps, go so far as the hon. Member did in regard to some of them; and he might even add to the catalogue Educational Reform, with which the welfare and prosperity of the Irish people were intimately associated. It was hopeless, however, to expect those great questions to be effectually taken up and settled in the present state of the legislative machine; while it was equally wild and chimerical to look for the practical solution by what was sometimes called "the policy of exasperation." That feeling, which he hoped was not very widespread, was that it was more important for Ireland to keep the power of putting into force a policy of exasperation than to make legislation possible, and thus secure for Ireland measures of reform. He regarded that policy as consistent neither with the honour nor the true interests of Ireland.


I wish, Sir, to congratulate hon. Gentlemen opposite on the manner in which, one after another, they are breaking their long silence on the question before the House. I have lately seen politics defined as the art of speaking and writing incorrectly till a man becomes a Member of Parliament—then it consists in being silent. Of course, Sir, after their recent speeches this definition only partially applies to hon. Members opposite. Now, I think it quite possible that, in the division to which we shall come to-night, the opponents of this Resolution will find themselves in a minority; because it is by no means contrary to my experience of the present Parliament that the weight of argument should be on one side of the question, and the preponderance of votes upon the other. But I should like to ask of the majority who will follow the Prime Minister into the Lobby, is there one that does not know beforehand that he is engaged upon a hopeless enterprize, when he seeks to promote the despatch of Public Business by the application of a Standing Order, which enlists against it the open hostility, or the secret dislike, of more than half the House of Commons. This Rule, in my view, as I have stated on a former occasion to this House, will be a fruit- ful source of Obstruction and disorder; and I think we shall signally fail of our duty as an Opposition if we do not bring about its repeal upon an early day. I know, indeed, that hon. Gentlemen opposite are under the impression that Her Majesty's Opposition were routed at Tel-el-Kebir, and the sooner we undeceive them on that point the better it will be. I believe, then, Sir, that the first effect of this Rule will be to subject to the fiercest criticism the style and length of every speech addressed to us from the Treasury Bench. There are already many of us sitting on these Benches who have long been of opinion that it does not contribute to the despatch of Public Business that a Minister should habitually come down to this House to say, to unsay, and then say again; to make a statement, to explain it, and then explain the explanation; but while debate is free for all, we have never felt a sense of personal wrong from this display of "amplitude," as the Prime Minister calls it, or, as a better judge pronounced it, of "exuberant verbosity." But, Sir, under the New Rule our first thought will be that a debate may be "unduly prolonged" at its beginning or middle quite as much as towards its end; and we shall be irresistibly reminded, of the Irishman's blanket, which, being too short at the bottom, was lengthened by cutting a piece off the top. In other words, the offending Minister will be informed in a manner which it will be impossible for him to mistake that he is trespassing, not as now, upon our patience, but on a reserve of time which we shall then regard as ours, and that he will do well to bring his remarks to a close. I do not see, therefore, Sir, that the 1st Rule is likely to promote order at the commencement or middle of a debate. "Well, then, how about the close? The "evident sense of the House" in the future is to be manifested, not only by clamour, but by competitive clamour; so that the question will not be whose arguments, but whose lungs are the strongest. Now, there is nothing in which men differ more than in the power of their lungs. Surely the Prime Minister has not forgotten Stentor— Stentor the strong, endued with brazen lungs, Whose throat surpassed the force of fifty tongues. Well, Sir, I commonly sit in this House near an hon. and gallant Gentleman whose voice is said to be able to reach his constituents in South Ayrshire from his place in the House of Commons; and, directly this Rule takes effect, I shall expect to see my hon. and gallant Friend exercise a commanding influence on the course of affairs in this House and in the country. Seriously, Sir, I foresee that under the operation of this Rule the House of Commons will too often resemble a great public meeting held early in the Christian era, at which "one cried one thing, and one another, for the Assembly was confused;" only that you, Sir, less fortunate than the Town Clerk of Ephesus, will not be able to "dismiss the Assembly." So much for the practical wisdom of this Resolution in its effect upon the order of our debates; while, as to its influence on the despatch of Public Business, it begins by alienating those without whose loyal co-operation it is impossible to move a single inch in that direction. This is a branch of the question which was exhaustively dealt with in the singularly able speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Mid Kent (Sir William Hart Dyke), a speech which has hitherto remained unanswered, and the effect of which I will not weaken by the attempt to add anything to what he said. And now, Sir, I should like to say a few words on the injustice of this Rule as affecting the present and all future Oppositions. I want to know, then, who accuses the present Opposition of "Obstruction," or the "needless prolongation" of debate. Well, I believe I have heard the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) do so; but, as we know, that hon. Member has peculiar views as to the function of a free Parliament; and, besides, he must never be taken too seriously—not even when he proposes to abolish the House of Lords! Now, the "statistics of talk" are not complete for the present Session, because the Session itself is not yet ended; but for the Sessions of 1880 and 1881, the noble Viscount the Member for Liverpool (Viscount Sandon) was quite correct in stating that the volume of speech, as measured by the columns of Hansard, was twice as great upon those Benches as on these of the regular Opposition. And, let me add, I think it somewhat hard that this Rule should be set in motion by a Minister who, in the last Session of Parliament, rose to his feet the prodigious number of 1,153 times, and to whose example we are so largely indebted for the flood of talk which has gone over the country and this House. But, Sir, I go a great deal further, and I utterly deny that an Opposition, as such, can be said, in any true sense of the word, to "obstruct." Oppositions, Mr. Speaker, oppose and do not obstruct; and if their opposition is so protracted as to delay or to defeat a Government measure, to the country and not to the Ministerial majority are they responsible. It is impossible, therefore, to lay it down too plainly that the present claim of the Prime Minister is an usurpation, to which it is our duty to offer an unyielding resistance on behalf of all Oppositions that are to follow. Let me take an example. I see that the hon. Baronet the Member for Chelsea (Sir Charles W. Dilke), not content with having introduced confusion into the annual revision of our borough registers, is anxious to try his "prentice hand" at a Reform Bill, and a Reform Bill in its most objectionable shape. I mean a Bill for the reduction of the franchise, unaccompanied by any redistribution of seats. Now, Sir, as I, perhaps, have had more experience of Reform Bills than the hon. Baronet, he must allow me to assure him that no such revolutionary proposal will be allowed to pass without our forcing an appeal to the constituencies; and there is no extremity of resistance which we, as an Opposition, could offer to such a measure that could by possibility deserve the name of "Obstruction." I wish, therefore, finally to enter my emphatic protest against the act of usurpation, meditated under cover of this Resolution. Such, then, Mr. Speaker, being the invincible repugnance of Her Majesty's Opposition and of many others to this Rule, is it even now too late for the Prime Minister to ask himself what, under the circumstances, would have been the course of the great men who have preceded him in the Leadership of this House and of the Liberal Party? Certainly, in the case of Lord Palmerston, he had studied, and he knew their methods well. One of the first speeches that I ever heard the present Prime Minister deliver in this House was a panegyric on Lord Palmerston, then recently deceased. On that occasion—the 22nd of February, 1866—having said, as no one else could say it, much that was graceful and eloquent and true of that great man, the right hon. Gentleman proceeded thus— All who knew Lord Palmerston knew his genial temper and the courage with which he entered into the debates in this House; his incomparable tact and ingenuity—his command of fence—his delight—his old English delight—in a fair stand-up fight. Yet, notwithstanding the possession of these powers, I must say I think there was no man whose inclination and whose habit were more fixed, so far as our discussions were concerned, in avoiding whatever tended to exasperate, and in having recourse to those means by which animosity might be calmed down. He had the power to stir up angry passions, but he chose, like the sea god in the Æneid, rather to pacify. Quos ego—sed motos præstat componere fluctus."—[3 Hansard, clxxxi. 913–14.] How, then, Sir, has it come to pass that a Minister who could pronounce this just and splendid eulogy on a great Leader of the House of Commons should, when his own turn arrived, have been so seldom the Neptune, so often the Æolus, of our debates; so seldom the Sea God, so often the Wind God, in the Æneid? He, too, has the "power to stir up angry passions;" why, on this vital question, has he chosen not to pacify? Be that as it may, let the right hon. Gentleman know that this is a case in which "force will be no remedy;" and if he has at heart the credit of this House, the good order of our debates, and the despatch of Public Business, I would say to him—"Even now, at the eleventh hour, take back your Rule; for be assured that the Minister is not yet born from whom an English House of Commons will hold its liberty of speech—on sufferance."


considered that their experience during the past three or four years called for a measure of this kind. That necessity was illustrated, among other instances, by the fate of a Bill which proposed in a broad and generous spirit to deal with parochial charities in the City of London, bringing in an income of £120,000 a-year. That Bill came on for second reading on a Wednesday, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South-West Lancashire (Sir B. Assheton Cross) and others appealed to the opponents of the Bill to waive their opposition, so that the measure might be read a second time, and referred to a Select Committee. Shortly after 5 o'clock, however, at the instigation of one of the Representatives of the City, who was allowed to frequent the Lobby of the House, one Member rose and talked until a quarter to 6, so that the second reading could not be taken. That was done against the decided wish of the Leaders on both sides. He did not see that any Rule, except the one now before the House, would meet a case of that kind. This debate had not been carried on according to the principles of which they had heard so much from the other side. It had not been carried on for the purpose of conviction. The Members of the Opposition in the House, at the present moment, could be counted on one hand. Was it carried on for the purpose of instructing the constituencies? If the latter, he submitted that that was not the purpose of debate in that House. If it were, they ought to adopt the custom of the United States, and send their speeches to some Congressional Globe in this country. Even with a two-thirds' majority, he doubted the efficiency of any control over such a method of conducting opposition. The legislation before them could not be satisfactorily accomplished unless some such Resolution was adopted; and, therefore, he should have great pleasure in supporting Her Majesty's Government.


regretted that this should have been made a Party question. He would admit that the House had abused its liberties to such an extent that reform of the Rules was absolutely necessary, because when he went to his constituents they always asked—"When is all this talk to cease? When are you going to do any business?" But he could not agree with the method in which it was proposed to effect this object—namely, at a certain stage by a bare majority to close the debate. He contended that it ought to be directed towards the punishment of the individual offender, and not to Members generally. The result of the Rule would be that the lesser lights of the House would be debarred from speaking, in which case he, for one, should often like to give his vote by proxy. He hoped it would be understood that many of those who opposed the Resolution were not of opinion that no change was necessary. Reform was obviously desirable; but the clôture, as proposed by the Government, would do far more harm than good. The right improvement would be to punish the offender, and not a whole mass of innocent persons for the fault of an individual. He should have preferred the Resolution if it had given the Speaker authority to say, after a division on the clôture, whether the debate should go on or not. He was also inclined to favour a time limit for Members' speeches, though, if it were practicable, such a limit might be extended, or the Rule relaxed on particular occasions. He would have been sorry, for instance, to lose by the operation of a time restriction such a speech as they had heard that evening from the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. Joseph Cowen). He regretted the Party spirit which had been introduced into this debate; and, whatever might be the result arrived at, he hoped that hon. Members generally would see the desirability of making shorter speeches and of thus increasing the despatch of Business. He did not however, think the state of affairs demanded such a remedy as that provided by the Resolution of the Prime Minister.


said, it was with extreme regret that he found the British House of Commons reduced to a position which required such a stringent regulation as that under discussion; and was, like his hon. Friend opposite (Mr. Biddell), especially sorry that the question had been made exclusively a Party one. He thought the very fact of the length to which the present discussion had extended, concerning a Rule of 12 lines only, and which certainly might have been disposed of in less than 19 nights, would satisfy the nation that the House required some power of control over its debates. The House had a great-deal of work, which ought to be done. Three Sessions had been occupied with Ireland, and there was still legislation needed for that country. But meanwhile, under the present system, English occupiers had their wants—County Government Boards of a representative character, the re-arrangement of Local Taxation, reforms relating to Highways, the Valuation of Property, the Law of Distress, and other matters. Without a thorough reform of the Procedure of the House, such measures could never be passed, and he was sure the constituencies took a deep interest in the question, and supported the Government proposal.


said, that on that Resolution the future of free and unfettered speech depended, but not the future possibilities or impossibilities of Obstruction. If the House rejected this Rule, the other Resolutions would be amply sufficient to deal with Obstruction, for without the 1st Resolution there were ample means provided for expediting the Business of the House. The House had rejected the proposal to hedge in the Resolution with a safeguard, which, though an evil in itself, was still a lesser evil than the Resolution itself, and they had now come to a final and clear issue of clôture or no clôture. All Members desired to case the legislative machine of the House, and to lay down Rules of reform for dealing with Obstruction. But that clôture Rule was not only the first and the worst, but might prove the weakest as against Obstruction. It had been pointed out by the Conservatives, and allowed by the Liberals, that it was aimed directly or indirectly against Parliamentary Opposition, and not against individual Obstruction. The true remedy was to deal with Obstruction individually, and there were adequate means for repressing such Obstruction in the subsequent Rules. The Rules of the House also provided for wilful disregard of the authority of the Chair, and those were the only powers which could with safety or propriety be entrusted to the House. Would not some such apportionment of individual punishment to individual offence satisfy the Prime Minister? While on the subject of useless delay, he could not help thinking of the Prime Minister's speech two days ago, when, admirable as was his eloquence, he took up a large portion of his valuable time in compiling statistics about the number of Members on the Opposition Benches during these debates, and proving that five Members below the Gangway and 21 above made 26. He (Mr. Guy Dawnay) asserted that Conservative Members absented themselves from the debate because, being thoroughly convinced of the soundness of their own arguments, they had no need to crowd the Benches in order to be fortified with each other's speeches. They simply spoke in the hope that there might still be some Ministerialists open to conviction. He contended that if the Resolution were negatived, as he hoped it would be, there would be less danger of Obstruction, and less fear of waste of time in future, than if the Resolution were accepted. Minorities might feel tempted, in the latter case, to give occasion for the Rule to be put in force, in order to fasten on the majority the odium that must attach to the forcible silencing of the voice of an Opposition. They would be no parties to forging chains either for themselves or their Successors.


said, that, under existing circumstances, when the discussion on the Resolution had already extended to so great a length, perhaps the best course for Members on this side of the House to follow was to maintain silence; but he felt called on to ask the leave of the House to say a few words as to the proceedings of the Party opposite in this matter. In the face of a series of crushing defeats in regard to all the Amendments which they had brought forward, and in spite of the clearest proof that a majority of the House was in favour of the Government Resolutions, the Tory Party were persisting in maintaining a hopeless and factious opposition to what was manifestly the will of the House. They were also persisting in attributing to the Government the most sinister designs, when one Member of the Government after another had repudiated them, and protested against the charges as having no foundation whatever; and, further, some of them were openly avowing their intention to make use of every means within their power to render impossible the carrying out of the wish of the majority of the House. He asked, was that a creditable position for the great Tory Party to be in? They on the Ministerial side of the House had cordially supported the Government, because they agreed with them as to the absolute necessity of some steps being taken whereby the intolerable abuse of the liberties of the House, in the way of protracting debates for the purpose of delaying or rendering impossible the progress of Public Business, should be prevented; and, indeed, in that necessity he believed there were many Members opposite who also concurred. Now, already, they had had long discussions, beginning from the Amendment which was proposed by the hon. and learned Member for Brighton (Mr. Marriott), down through all the other Amendments which they had afterwards dealt with; and with regard to all of them a large majority had declared in favour of the Government, and the position of the Government had never been shaken in the smallest degree. An Amendment had been proposed by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Dublin University (Mr. Gibson) providing that a two-thirds' majority should be required to put the Rule in force. Well, that was a proposal for which something might be said. At all events, it was one worthy of ample discussion; but the right hon. and learned Member had been beaten by a large majority, mainly owing to the fact, which became apparent in the discussion, that the object of the proposal was not so much to amend the Procedure under the Rule, as to cripple, and if possible to destroy, the Government Resolution, by rendering the Rules unworkable. Of course, under these circumstances, those who had satisfied themselves that the clôture in some form was a necessity could give no countenance to the Amendment, especially after the declaration of the Prime Minister, that in his view the Amendment would render the Rule impotent, and that rather than accept it he would prefer to have no clôture at all; and, as he (Mr. Grant) had said, the Amendment was negatived by a large majority. Now, seeing that the Tory Party had been defeated on all hands by large majorities, it might be of some interest to inquire what object the Party opposite hoped to accomplish by their protracted resistance. In casting about for a possible reason for their action, one could not help referring to a tour in the North recently undertaken by the Leader of the Opposition, for the laudable purpose of opening the eyes of benighted Scotchmen as to the real meaning of Toryism and the blessings of Tory rule. The other evening the hon. Member for Greenwich (Baron Henry de Worms) told them that he had discovered that the unfurling of the old time-honoured banner of Liberalism in Mid Lothian in 1880 might have had something to do with the originating of these Government Resolutions. But more recently they had had in Scotland the unfurling of another banner by the Leader of the Opposition. It was not like the other old banner—a war-stained emblem, which had been borne in triumph through a hundred fights; but it was a new banner—a brand new banner, with a motto which, so far as he (Mr. Grant) knew, had never been even thought of before. It was a banner with a strange device, in the hands of the right hon. Gentleman certainly, for the device was "The Tories and Liberty." This new flag did not seem to have kindled much of a flame of enthusiasm where it was first unfurled, possibly because the admiring people who saw it may have been taken too much aback by the strange conjunction which the motto displayed. But he could not help thinking that what they were seeing now taking place in the House of Commons was owing to the desire of the Tory Party to allow the public outside to see it figuring in its new colours; but it appeared to him that it was but a stagey exhibition at the best. The idea of the Tory Party posing as the special champions of liberty was too grotesque, too unreal; the fly was too gaudy; it was too manifestly artificial for the public out-of-doors to be taken in by it, or to rise to the lure that was being so industriously dangled before them. It seemed to him that this was a most extraordinary and ungenerous act, that the Tory Party should seek to manufacture a little political capital in the country by holding up the Liberal Party as enemies of liberty, when the Government had felt themselves compelled to undertake the most disagreeable duty of curtailing, to a certain extent, the present rights of Members—a duty which was absolutely necessary, in order to the rehabilitation of the House, and to the restoring to it of its efficiency, its character, and its credit. The people of this country were not likely to be cajoled by such tactics. They had made up their minds that it was absolutely necessary that some power should be created whereby the time of the House should be saved, discussions shortened, and Obstruction dealt with by a firm hand; and the people were perfectly satisfied that, safeguarded as it was, the proposal of the Government was not in the slightest danger of being used in a tyrannical manner for the suppression of free discussion within legitimate and moderate bounds. Hon. Members opposite were never tired of instancing the possibility of conspiracy between the Speaker and the Treasury Bench for the suppression of free discussion; but they on that (the Liberal) side of the House had no fear of that dreadful combination that seemed so terrible to the minds of hon. Gentlemen opposite—at least as long as they had a Liberal majority. And if the protestations of hon. Gentlemen opposite in regard to the sacred right of unlimited licence of speech were true protestations, they need have no fear of any improper use of the Rule when the Conservatives came to take their place on the Government side of the House. Indeed, if they practised what they preached, the first act of a Conservative Government would be to altogether abrogate the Rules proposed. If it was any comfort to hon. Gentlemen opposite to know it, he could tell them that in the event of any such combination, there were numbers of Members on his side of the House, both above and below the Gangway, who would be prompt to repudiate such an unholy alliance on the part of their Leaders, in spite of the claims of Party discipline. He could assure them the Liberals would show by their vote, in the event of any improper use being made of the Rule, that they interpreted the Resolution of the Government to mean, not a suppression of free discussion, not a triumph over respectable and well-intentioned minorities, but the giving of a power to the House to put down, with no unsparing hand, that unprincipled and unwarrantable and wanton and mischievous Obstruction and licence which had lately prevailed.


said, the hon. Member who had just addressed the House (Mr. Grant) had made a frank confession, for he had regarded with equanimity the operation of the gag so long as it remained in the hands of the Liberal Party. He was of such a generous mind that the prospect did not allow his imagination to wander into that horrible future when others might use the gag against himself. He (Mr. Sexton) had no doubt that even those who most detested the clôture would not be sorry that they were approaching the end of the discussion. It had been a long, a tedious, and a dreary operation; and perhaps the only incident which had relieved its tedium had been the noble and thrilling speech which had been delivered by the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. Cowen) that evening. It had been such a speech as he (Mr. Sexton) would have expected from an independent Liberal, whose mind was undebauched by political servility. In that speech he had put forward freedom as the greatest good, and had refused to part with liberty for any specious promises of advantage. He would have thought that such a speech, delivered by an Englishman to Englishmen in their historic House, appealing to those memories which must thrill English hearts—appealing to the memory of the long chequered, but in the end successful contest which the House had waged against Kings and Lord Protectors and Peers, would have been irresistible. But it appeared that the majority of the House, which would hereafter constitute the "evident sense," had closed their hearts against national feeling, and their minds against argument, by an exaggerated and evil devotion to the principles and interests of their Party. He thanked the hon. Member for Newcastle for having made it particularly plain that Obstruction, instead of being a novelty, had long been a familiar historical fact in the Housel and he also thanked him as an Irishman for bringing into such bold relief the fact that so long as Obstruction had been only English, no English Ministry had dared to advance it as a pretext for overturning the liberties of Parliament. It had only been when the Liberal cry of "Irish Obstruction" had been raised that the Prime Minister, who was an ingenious manipulator of inconvenient facts, had used that cry to overturn the liberties of the House of Commons. Various comments had been made during the debate upon the silence of the general body of the Representatives from Ireland. When he considered the lassitude which had prevailed in the House since it had assembled for the Winter Session—a lassitude which had been brought into prominence by the remarks of the Prime Minister—he was not surprised that English Gentlemen had found it difficult unassisted to continue the course of debate, and had been anxious for some Hibernian assistance. Hon. Members did not appear to be delighted when Members from Ireland spoke, and did not appear to be satisfied when they were silent. There were reasons for their silence during the pre- sent debate. The question had not been to them so large or so interesting a one as it had been to English hon. Members. For example, Irish Members had not been able to feel an interest in the patriotic dissertations upon the future of British Parties under the operation of the clôture which had been indulged in by the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill) and other accomplished speakers. The future of the British Parties was a matter of indifference to Irish Members. Neither had they been able to feel that interest in the history and traditions of the House which was natural for an Englishman to experience. What they knew of the House in Ireland was that for the past eighty years it had been responsible for all the misgovernment, for most of the misfortune, and nearly all the crime, of that country. It would be, therefore, impossible for them to regard the question from the point of view of men who were interested in the dignity and traditions of the House. The issue put before them was simple—they were in the House as strangers and sojourners. They were in the House as the Representatives of a people ruled over by the will of another people, and not by their own. Their right of free speech was the only right in any degree effective which Irish Members possessed in that Housel and the policy with which they would meet any proposal to destroy, limit, or fetter that right must consist of one single article—namely, determination to oppose it with what force they might in any and every shape in which it presented itself. One proposal had been that debates should be closed by the votes of a two-thirds' majority. Obviously the Irish Party could alone suffer by such a proposal. It had been said that in the recent great division they went into the Lobby with the Government. He preferred to say that they voted against the Opposition. The proposal for clôture by a majority of two-thirds was simply a proposal that there should be a gag which would effectually silence the Irish Party; while it would leave the Tory Party free to speak, which would prevent the Irish Party from resisting a Coercion Bill for Ireland, while it would leave the Tory Party free to obstruct any and every Bill. Now, a different proposal was before them—namely, that a bare majority of the House should have the power to silence opposition. That was a proposal which hit all round with impartiality. If it were agreed to, no Members would be free from its operation except the thick-and-thin supporters of the Prime Minister. Under the clôture the will of the Prime Minister would be absolutely dominant. The Whigs who might want to apply the brake to the Ministerial Car, and the Radicals who might wish that the Car should accelerate its speed, would alike find themselves subjected to the compulsory silence imposed by the gag. Much had been said about securities; but, in reality, there were none. They had been told that if less than 40 Members should oppose the clôture there must be 100 Members willing to enforce it; and that if more than 40 Gentlemen should desire to continue a debate there must be 200 Members anxious to impose silence. These so-called securities, however, were mere trivial questions of Party organization. If the Whips of the Liberal Party, by neglecting to provide a sufficient majority, were ever to subject the Speaker to contradiction after a declaration of the "evident sense of the House," they would receive from the Prime Minister such censure as would prevent the recurrence of the event. They had been told that they would be protected by the fact that the clôture could not be imposed except in accordance with the "evident sense of the House." The Speaker had lately said that he should hold the "evident sense of the House" to be the evident sense of the House at large. The declaration, unfortunately, would not be binding on those who should come after the present occupant of the Chair; and the fact that the right hon. Gentleman had made that declaration seemed to many acute observers to be a confirmation of the rumours that his official life would soon come to a close. In fact, one of the evening papers had wittily referred to it as the "Swan Song" of the Speaker. The boast of the House of Commons had always been that it was the mother of Parliaments, and the freest of them all. This, in fact, had been their boast, that here whether— Girt about by friends or foes, A man may speak the thing he will. Yet now they found the Prime Minister forcing the gag upon the House and appealing to the case of those foreign Legislatures which Englishmen had so despised. Unlike those foreign Chambers, it could not be claimed for this House to rule over a people equal before the law. In one of these Islands the Constitution existed in the spirit and the letter, in the other it had been violated and suppressed. Irish Members in that House had a claim to liberty of free speech that no body of men in any foreign Chamber could advance, for they could revert to the transaction—unparalleled in history for its mixture of force and cunning—by which 80 years ago the Parliamentary liberties of the Irish were filched away. On account of the misgovernment of their people, if they gave them nothing else, they should give them the right of free speech. He thought the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition had good reason to complain. In the last Parliament he endured, in regard to Obstruction, the heat and burden of the day. Not only in regard to special Bills of the Government, but in respect to ordinary Bills and the Business of Supply, the fundamental functions of the State met with a resistance unequalled before and since. He remained sensible of the fact that through the efforts of the Irish Members the disgraceful and brutal practice of flogging in the Army and Navy had been swept away; but he was bound to confess that the right hon. Gentleman encountered in the last Parliament a determined and persistent opposition to which nothing in the least degree comparable had happened in the present Parliament. The right hon. Gentleman met it by levelling Rules against individual offenders; and he administered those Rules, whatever might have been thought of it at the time, it must now be admitted in a Constitutional spirit. He administered those Rules fairly and strictly against individual offenders. Since then the right hon. Gentleman had seen the Rules which he intended to be applied against individual Members used unconstitutionally and arbitrarily against whole bodies of men. The right hon. Gentleman had found the Rules which he intended to apply to Obstruction committed by individuals, and to offences immediately arising out of it, applied against whole bodies of men in their absence, and in regard to transactions extending over several weeks. In the course of the debate, he had observed a significant oscillation in the arguments of Ministers and their supporters. Before the division on the Amendment of the right hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Gibson), expecting to have the Irish votes in their Lobby, they were careful enough to make it appear that the argument for the Resolution was the necessity for finding time to meet the needs of legislation. Since that Amendment had been defeated the logical pendulum of the Government had swung back, and the argument was the Obstruction of the Irish Party. [Mr. GLADSTONE: No, no!] He excepted the Prime Minister from the charge; but he said that the veterans of the Liberal Party, as well as the babes and sucklings of the Party, had since the division on that Amendment returned to the charge against the Irish Members. The Prime Minister in his speech on Wednesday was supposed to be gracious to Irish Members, and said that their political position in that House entitled them to be treated with peculiar indulgence; and he made certain references to local self-government for Ireland which might have been intended to excite certain hopes in the minds of Irish Members. But the right hon. Gentleman was careful to oscillate, for in his speech last night at the Guildhall he commented upon the fact that the Irish people entertained extravagant expectations, and cherished desires which could not be realized.


I did not say that. I said it might be there, as elsewhere.


said, that he was aware of the difficulty of quoting any observations of the right hon. Gentleman in such a manner as to command his assent. The right hon. Gentleman presented one line of thought which appeared to have an obvious interpretation, and seemed to have a faculty of holding in reserve a second line of thought for future use. Every sentence had a broad archway of thought in front which everybody could see; but everybody could not see at the moment of the speaking of the sentence that it had half-a-dozen avenues of escape behind it. He maintained that, during this Parliament, Irish Members had strictly limited themselves to oppo- sition to Coercion Acts for Ireland, and to Votes arising out of the administration of Coercion Acts; and yet after the Liberals, while in Opposition, had made themselves conspicuous by their Obstruction, the present was the time when the Liberals charged the Irish Members with Obstruction, and told the country that it was necessary to abolish free speech, in order to gag them. What was the use of Irish Representatives in that House unless, when they found the liberties of their people swept away in a breath, they used their Parliamentary force, not only to call the attention of the public and of the House to their arguments, but also to convince them of the rash recklessness of these arbitrary enactments? The Prime Minister had spoken of the congestion of Public Business, and, in various skilful phrases, had led the country to suppose that it was caused by Irish Members. But it was the fact that from December, 1877, to 1880, during the last three years of the late Administration, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Devon (Sir Stafford Northcote) lost 18 to 24 nights devoted to Supply, but on which it could not be taken, owing to the number of Amendments on the Paper. In 1877 he lost 24 nights; in 1878, 18 nights; and in 1879, 24 nights by Amendments being persisted in. How many nights had the Prime Minister lost this year? He had lost five nights only, yet it was in the presence of that state of facts that the Prime Minister availed himself of the cry of "Irish Obstruction" to overturn the liberties of Parliament. The Tory Party had shown a good deal of simplicity in expecting the Prime Minister to accept the two-thirds' Amendment. He had a cry, and he was expert in the use of a political cry. The cry of "Irish Obstruction" would reach what he called the British mind, and it would cover and conceal any political scheme, however ambitious. By means of his cry of Obstruction, the Prime Minister would obtain the clôture, by which he hoped to pass such a list of measures as would retain Office for himself and his Party for a prolonged period. It had been revealed by the Secretary of State for India (the Marquess of Hartington) and the Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs (Sir Charles W. Dilke) that there was to be an attack all along the line upon the country Party. Feudalism was to be attacked, the relations of landlord and tenant to be revised, and the franchise was to be extended in such a sense and in such a direction as it was hoped would consolidate and perpetuate the power of the Liberal Party. He did not say that he was out of sympathy with any part of these proposals, and if he then had the honour of a seat in the House he might support them; but he mentioned them to show the complicity of the Tory Party in supposing that the Prime Minister would accept the two-thirds' Amendment. This was the gag to enable such measures of legislation to be pressed on as would give the Liberal Party an indefinite lease of power. Only three speeches in support of the Government had been delivered by Irish Members. One was by the hon. Member for Longford (Mr. Errington), who might be very good as an ecclesiastical envoy, but not as a politician. That by the hon. Member for Clare (Mr. O'Shea) was a pleasant little exercise, and it was not necessary for him to deal with it. He would, however, say a word upon the speech of the hon. Member for the City of Limerick (Mr. O'Shaughnessy). He suggested that the penal Rules which were already in force against individuals would be found to be more severe than the clôture. He could not, however, see the force of the hon. Gentleman's logic. If the Irish Members were to be suppressed at all they would prefer being taken in detail, and not to be suppressed altogether en masse. But he suggested that the clôture enforced by the House would be preferable to the clôture enforced by the arbitrary will of the Speaker, and he referred to the time when the Irish Party were summarily put to silence by the Speaker. But it was extremely improbable that such a coup d'état would be witnessed again in England as was witnessed when the Irish Party made a bold stand against the Coercion Act. He would much prefer the exercise of arbitrary power by the Speaker to the more easy and convenient exercise of power by the majority. With regard to the argument of the hon. Member that this Rule was necessary in order to give time to the House for dealing with Irish questions, he replied that in the past time had not been wanting for that purpose. The hon. Gentleman was a Member of the Party led by the late Mr. Isaac Butt, his Colleague in the representation of the City of Limerick. That Party proceeded on lines of moderation and conciliation. That Party, during a period of seven years, presented to Parliament no less than 100 Bills dealing with every part of the national life. That Party was satisfied with brief and moderate debates. It accepted the defeats inflicted on it by the House with meekness and resignation; yet the dispiriting record remained that not one of the 100 Bills was passed. Even in what were called the good old times, Ireland was neglected. They knew what sort of men the Irish Members then were. The Prime Minister, not more than 30 years ago, had sitting beside him as Colleagues two Irish Members and two others, who sat beside him as his supporters; and what became of those Irish Members to whom the tone of the House was the supreme law, and the convenience of the House the first consideration? One of them, a forger and a swindler, committed suicide; another, a forger and a swindler, was expelled from the House of Commons; the third was made a Commissioner of Income Tax, and he plundered the Public Exchequer, and fled, to America—[An hon. MEMBER: He was never in Parliament.]—while the fourth, a worthy companion of the other three, was made a Judge, and entrusted with the administration of justice in Ireland, and after an attempt upon his own life, died insane, leaving an odious name behind him. These were the men who sold to the Government the liberty of their people, and who made the name of Irish Member a byword in the country. During the 80 years that had passed since William Pitt handed over the Parliamentary liberties of Ireland to the British House of Commons, had it ever, from a mere sense of justice, passed a Reform Bill for Ireland? Both Parties combined together against justice being done to Ireland. During that period they passed no less than 60 Coercion Bills for Ireland. The Irish people had been 20 years labouring for Catholic Emancipation, and they had not a shadow of a prospect of success until the Duke of Wellington went to George IV. and said, "Unless you pass the Emancipation Bill Ireland will be plunged into civil war." Forty years passed away without a single Reform Bill for Ireland until in 1869 and 1870 the Government passed two important Acts, which remained connected with the name of the Prime Minister. But why were those Acts passed? The Prime Minister had himself stated that what had led to the introduction of those measures were the Ballycohey tragedy and the Clerkenwell explosion. It was not any sense of justice that had led to their introduction. Then what induced the right hon. Gentleman to pass the Land Act of last year? Was it not necessary for the Irish people, struggling with famine and distress, to cast themselves into the seething cauldron of agitation for three years, and to bring that country within what the right hon. Gentleman had himself declared to be "a measurable distance of civil war" before he passed that Act? The lesson to be learned from the past was simply this—that the British Parliament had never passed a single beneficial Act for Ireland out of a sense of justice, but because of pressure, Parliamentary or otherwise; because, in other words, it became more convenient for them to grant justice to the Irish people than to withhold it. It was in Committee that it would be found most effectual to apply the clôture. In the conflicts of passion between the two great English Parties the operation of the clôture would produce a constant resistance and friction. The hour of frank and friendly union between those English Parties was always an evil hour for Ireland. He did not think the clôture would affect the Irish Members very much. The Representatives of the Irish people would have courage and resource enough to make themselves felt and heard in that House, in spite of any gag; but a Rule which would place the two great English Parties in keener antagonism would work well for Ireland. The operation of the clôture would be to generate hereafter between English politicians, who, in spite of their Party differences, had hitherto been personal friends, hatreds and rancours which would eat their corroding way even into private life. Therefore it was that he had great hopes for the future of his country, believing that out of the chronic feuds and bitter contentions of hostile English Parties the hope of Irish regeneration would arise. There were, he thought, two lessons to be gathered from the present situation. If the Tory Party, taught by adversity, were willing to learn anything, they would see that they had lent themselves, in an evil hour, to tyranny against the weakest Party in the House. They had gladly and freely given their votes to a Ministry strong in themselves to suppress the Representatives of a people who had nothing left to them but their voices in that House. And now the Tory Party, with a swiftness of retribution seldom equalled in political life, found that the scourge which they had placed in the hand of the master they were themselves now fated to feel. The other lesson was one for the House itself; and he commended it to them in words the justice of which he was willing to leave to be tested by the course of future events—namely, that 80 years ago, by sheer force and fraudulent cunning, they robbed the people of Ireland of Parliamentary liberty; and now, after eight years of a free Irish vote and three years of an independent Irish Party, by the slow but silent working of Irish discontent they had undermined and brought to a crushing downfall the Parliamentary liberties of England.


said, he should not have interposed at that time, and availed himself of the privilege which, by the courtesy of the House, was usually afforded to its youngest Member, and which he believed he was entitled to claim, unless he had wanted to make one observation, which he should endeavour to make in the shortest possible time, in order that he might make room for some Member of the Irish Party, who might possibly have something to say in answer to the eloquence of the hon. Member who had just sat down. He did not propose to follow the speech of that hon. Member. He certainly did not propose to answer all that the hon. Member had said about William Pitt, and the Clerkenwell explosion, and 80 years ago, and other matters of that kind which had nothing to do with the subject under discussion. They had heard much about the rights of various people; but there was one right which had never yet been mentioned on the Opposition side of the House, and which seemed to be entirely forgotten. They had heard from various parts of the House of the rights and privileges of the Party of Government, of the rights of the Party of Opposition, of the wrongs of the Party of Ireland, and of the small Quadrilateral Party; but they had not heard much of the right of the nation, which, he ventured to think, was the one thing that seemed to be very much forgotten. The nation had a right which swallowed up all those other rights, and included them all. The nation sent them there in order to do the work of the nation, and not merely to talk about it; and the great right that the nation had to look to that House to be doing something was just the one right that seemed to be entirely forgotten. That was the right that he wished for a moment to impress upon the House. A right hon. Gentleman, who sat on the Front Opposition Bench, had informed them that the duty and the object of the House was to reflect the mind of the nation in its various moods and passions; but when they had reflected it, what were they to do with it then? It struck him that there was something to be done possibly beyond that. He did not mean, at that late hour of the night, to interpose long; and, therefore, he would satisfy himself with saying this—that the energetic and vigorous oratory of his hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle (Mr. Cowen)—very brilliant, but not altogether consequent—had, he thought, missed this one point. He seemed to be of opinion that there was too much legislation. [Mr. WARTON: Hear, hear!] If there was, the conscience of the hon. and learned Gentleman who interrupted was quite clear from being responsible for it. There had been no more legislation than that hon. and learned Gentleman and some other hon. Gentlemen could help. But he wanted to know whether the hon. Member, who had made the brilliant speech to which he referred, would deliberately say that the legislation which he himself had approved for years past in the House, and which had been the outcome of the work of the Liberal Party that was now being obstructed in its work—whether he believed that legislation was for good or for evil? If it had been for good, what was the meaning of that energetic oratory which they had heard that night, inveighing bitterly against legislation, when no legislation could take place? He had come to give this message from the country—that the one thing the country wanted from that House now was not to be so desperately anxious to preserve the rights of this Party or the other, but that it looked for a great deal more work and a great deal less talk.


said, he desired to make one observation before the House went to a division, because he found it difficult, as regarded that Resolution, to know exactly how they stood. Gentlemen on his side of the House had been pleading for a variety of safeguards against what appeared to them to be the dangers of a tyrannical majority; and they had contended throughout these discussions that there ought to be no doubt or uncertainty whatever, if the "evident sense of the House" was to be a condition of the clôture, as to the true and correct interpretation of that phrase. Accordingly, they had moved various Amendments at different periods in the debate on that Resolution with the object of attaining that end. First, they had moved to substitute "the general sense of the House;" then it had been proposed that the words should be "evidently the general sense of the House;" and, finally, the right hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Gibson) had tried to accomplish the same object by moving that the majority should be two-thirds of the House. During the whole time the Government had taken an opposite view, had rejected every Amendment, and had offered hostile arguments to the reasons adduced by the Opposition. At last the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Hartington) went so far as to say that the only interpretation of the words "the evident sense of the House" was that they meant the evident sense of the majority on that (the Ministerial) side of the House. A fruitless contention on that point was proceeding, when Mr. Speaker came to the rescue of an anxious, an irritated, and an embarrassed House of Commons, by placing on those words a construction which he ventured to say would add fresh lustre even to the dignity and the impartiality which had marked his tenure of his high Office. The interpretation he placed upon the "evident sense of the House" connected it, not with the sense of one side Of the House, but with that of the House at large. On that declaration he desired to put a question to the Chairman of Committees and to the Prime Minister, or some other Member of the Cabinet. He wanted to ask the Chairman of Committees whether, and how far, he endorsed the declaration made from the Chair? It was important to the House of Commons that they should know whether it was the opinion of the Chairman of Committees that the "evident sense of the House" meant the evident sense of the House "at large?" He would like to have an answer to that question from some Member of the Government—say, from the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Chamberlain).

[At this point an interruption occurred through the entrance to the Distinguished Strangers' Gallery of the Native officers of the Indian Contingent deputed to visit this country.]


, resuming, said, the House, and he felt satisfied also the distinguished visitors who had just honoured the House with their presence, would be delighted with the answer which, no doubt, would be given to the question he had a moment before put to the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Chamberlain). Did he, or did he not, accept the declaration of Mr. Speaker with regard to the interpretation placed upon the words the "evident sense of the House;" and did they intend to give effect to them? That was a question to which they were entitled to an answer, and both sides would agree that before they went to a division they ought to know. If they did, then, so far as he was concerned, although he should vote against the Resolution, he should not feel so much apprehension; but if they did not, then he must reserve to himself the right of taking whatever course with regard to it he thought fit in the future. They had always from the first condemned it as a clumsy and ineffective weapon. The Prime Minister himself confessed that the loss by the House of control over individual Members was the root of the evil which had overtaken the House; and, accepting that statement, they had endeavoured to introduce Amendments aimed at individual Obstruction. To their dismay, those Amendments had been ruled out of Order. In the course of his speech on Wednesday last, which was delivered at an unusual hour, the Premier said he rose on that occasion in order that there might be no suspicion even that in the mind of the Govern- ment there was any reason whatever for continuing this debate, or that there was anything further of importance to be said. Had the Premier, or any of his Colleagues in the Cabinet, been in the House shortly before the dinner hour, they would have heard a speech from the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. Cowen), which appeared to him to be a masterpiece of eloquence, of argument, of reasoning, and of passionate oratory in vindication of liberty and freedom, which had seldom been surpassed even by the Prime Minister himself. But what did they see instead? It was rumoured in the Lobbies that the hon. Member was about to speak and make a vehement attack upon the policy of the Government, and Minister after Minister slunk out of the House. Attacks, more or less direct, were made upon Members of the Government and their supporters; but it was not until almost the close of that oration that the President of the Board of Trade condescended to enter the House, and even to listen to the arguments which were advanced in the ablest and most powerful manner against the Resolutions which the Government had submitted to the House. It was as a Radical of Radicals that the hon. Member for Newcastle had often been described. [Cries of "No!" and "Conservative!"] It might be that the description of a "Tory of the Tories" applied to himself; but on that occasion the hon. Member for Newcastle and himself were thoroughly united. The hon. Member for Newcastle, whom he was proud to speak of as his Friend, and himself were thoroughly united to-night, because they had the same fears that there were dangers in these Resolutions to the future of the Parliament of England. They were united because they believed, in common with many Members on both sides of the House, and with thousands, even millions, of persons outside, that upon the liberty and freedom of her Parliament the freedom and the liberties of England and of her people would depend.


said, that he was not one of those who repeated their Colleagues' speeches almost ipsissimis verbis, and who had managed to get themselves reported in the papers, though they were rarely listened to in the House. But though indisposed at first to speak on this subject, his indisposition to do so became still greater after hearing the speech of the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. Cowen), of which he would say that, since he heard the right hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. John Bright) speak on the Indian Question, he had rarely listened in that House to a greater rhetorical effort. If ever there was a time when bygones ought to be bygones, and when persons should not be abused for the course which they chose to take, it was the present. But what did the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton) dare to say? The hon. Member dared to Bay that Irish Gentlemen who had represented Irish constituencies in that House for years ought to be classed with forgers and men of that description. He was not skilled in the Parliamentary language that he ought to address to that hon. Gentleman, and the only excuse he could give for him was that he had been for years a trading politician—that for years he kept a book of good and evil for every public man, aye, even in his own country; because whenever they got a man with a true, real, thoroughly evil disposition, they might be sure that he would attempt to make capital in that House by platitudes in abusing his own countrymen. [Laughter.] This was no laughing matter, for hon. Gentlemen on his side of the House were proud of their political honour and of the traditions of their Party. He knew the hon. Member did not like them, because their ears were not tickled by his attacks upon the Irish magistracy. They did not belong to the proletariat, whilst he, with Hyperion curls and the attitude of a Roman warrior, sought to trample upon everybody who would not submit to mob despotism. For his own part, he cared not what the hon. Gentleman might say; but there were people out-of-doors who, knowing that he had got that happy knack of declamation after study, might imagine that he was a great power in the House. He did not like to retail Irish gossip in the House, though it might be useful to the hon. Member. But, he would ask, was the hon. Gentleman the Irish patriot who accompanied the Whig Judge Barry to fight the National Party at an election contest, and did he come there to tell those who differed from him that they were dishonest men and forgers, like the Sadleirs? He (Sir Patrick O'Brien) thought that the Kilmainham Treaty would have made things quiet that night. He believed if the hon. Member for the City of Cork (Mr. Parnell), who often put away an unpleasant question with a sickly smile, had been present at the time, the statements to which he had referred would not have been made by the hon. Member for Sligo. The hon. Member had spoken of the county Longford. Was it by arrangement he did so? Was he giving a friend a little political help at the coming election? He spoke of the Pope. He supposed the hon. Member for Sligo was opposed to the Pope. Well, he might have referred to the Colleague of that hon. Gentleman, who had spoken in that debate in a much more guarded manner than the hon. Member for Sligo. It was what he expected from a man with a knowledge of "our own times." They had heard of oscillation. There were many who did not oscillate. The hon. Member for Carlow (Mr. Dawson) was one of these, for he was in perpetual motion. The intervention of his hon. Friend (Mr. O'Shea), who, after all he had done for them, got scant courtesy from the hon. Member for Sligo, did not appear to have made everything as smooth as ordinary treaties ought to have made them. But he (Sir Patrick O'Brien) never imputed to hon. Gentlemen opposite, with the exception, perhaps, of the hon. Member for Dungarvan (Mr. O'Donnell), a knowledge of anything except what they called "Irish politics" gathered from reading American papers. They had never read any book upon Treaties—he was excepting, of course, the hon. Member for the City of Cork, who, having completed his education, was anxious to leave Kilmainham. Irish Members on that (the Ministerial) side had been accused of having done nothing in their time. Let him mention one thing that they had never done—they never appealed to a foreign country for money to pay them and keep them. For many years past the Irishmen in the House had supported emancipation and everything connected with municipal reform; and, as everyone knew, their object in doing away with the Established Church in Ireland was to bring peace to their country. They had sought place and pension from no man. For those Gentlemen, therefore, with whom he had the honour to be associated, he repudiated, trampled upon, and pulverized the Irish Party opposite.


said, that he would endeavour to bear in mind the long duration of the debate; but he wished, as briefly as possible, to reply to some of the speeches that had been made against the Resolution. Much had been said of the weariness of the House, and he might venture to account for it by the great similarity of many of the speeches of hon. Members opposite. If the notes of the speeches which had been made against the Resolution could have been seen he believed the stock portions of those compositions would have been found to be something like the following:—"Refer to the traditions of the House; refer to its honour and the desire to maintain it; refer from time to time to the Caucus; give a Party flavour to the composition by frequent allusion to the Prime Minister, or, for choice, the President of the Board of Trade; then cover all with a gloomy prophecy served up to the knell of the British Constitution." Such had been the majority of the speeches of hon. Members opposite, though there had also been others, some irrelevant and some relevant, of a less ordinary character. The former he need not notice; but of the latter he wished to say a word or two. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Mid Kent (Sir William Hart Dyke), speaking from his experience of the Business of the House as Secretary to the Treasury, had thought it right to say that the Resolutions were unnecessary, because the evils they were intended to meet were temporary, and existed only as long as the present Government remained in Office. These evils, according to the right hon. Baronet, were caused by the mismanagement of the Government, and by its want of control over the House, and when the Government disappeared they would disappear likewise. That was very much a matter of opinion, as to which it was not worth while to argue; but he might ask the House whether such a contention was consistent with the declaration made in the House on February 26, 1880. The right hon. Baronet was then Secretary to the Treasury, and took part in the management of the Business of the House; and on that day the Leader of the House told hon. Members that it was impossible to carry on the Public Business. The evil of Obstruction "had grown, was growing, and would continue to grow." He might observe, parenthetically, that he did not suggest that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for North Devon, who used those words, was guilty of any inconsistency in opposing the present Resolution, because he had carefully guarded himself at the time against any acceptance of the clôture as a satisfactory remedy; but, after saying that the evil of Obstruction must be met, the right hon. Gentleman frankly told the House that, in his opinion, the Resolution which he was then proposing would not be sufficient to meet the difficulty that existed, and that— There is only one alteration of our Rules which would be of a character that really could prevent Obstruction, and that is one for which we have no English name, but which is known to us all under the name of the clôture."—[3 Hansard, ccl. 1457.] [Cries of "Read on!"] He repeated that he did not charge the right hon. Gentleman with inconsistency; because the right hon. Gentleman had proceeded to say in effect— That is a method on which I venture to think that this House will pause very long before they adopt it."—[Ibid.] But that was not the question. The question was whether the right hon. Baronet the Member for Mid Kent (Sir William Hart Dyke) was justified, in the face of that declaration, with charging the present Government with being the cause of all this Obstruction; whether the evil in question did not exist in February, 1880; whether the then Leader of the House did not warn the House of its probable continued growth; and whether the right hon. Gentleman did not fear that it could be met by only one remedy? One of the other variations of the common Opposition form had proceeded last night from the noble Viscount the Member for Liverpool (Viscount Sandon). The noble Viscount had repudiated all ideas of political animosity in his opposition to the proposed Rules, and doubtless entertained no such feelings of animosity. But, while he fully reciprocated the pleasant spirit which the noble Viscount had endeavoured to import into the debate, he might assure him that the supporters of the Resolu- tion were perfectly well able to settle the matter with their constituents, and would certainly not be regarded by them, to use the noble Viscount's phrase, as "tainted candidates." Let him remind the House of the position which they occupied. This question had received the consideration of the constituents perhaps more than any question that was ever introduced and passed in one Session. Hon. Members opposite had used their best endeavours to place this matter before their constituents. They had stated their views in language which he thought he might say was not quite so discreet or so accurate as that which they had used in that House; and after all that had been done, what was the result? The hon. Member for Greenwich, who had great practical knowledge of the action of the Conservative Party, had said on Wednesday last that in the May of this year the present Administration was an unpopular one, but that now they were intensely popular in the country.


I merely stated the fact that in May you were extremely unpopular; I did not say you are popular now.


contended that the statement was, in effect, comparative, although the hon. Member might not have made an explicit comparison; and, such being the case, the Opposition were confronted with this as the result of their active agitation in respect of this Resolution. It had been said that an attempt had been made to burke this debate; but what was the fact? 126 independent Members had spoken during the discussion, and of these 66 were Conservatives, and 60 Liberals. So much for burking the debate. But in addition to that, up to Tuesday last of the Amendments which had been put on the Paper, the majority had been placed there by Liberal Members. It had also been said that there had been a determination on the part of the Government to refuse all Amendments to the Resolution. Those who brought that charge should make their account with the right hon. Gentleman (Sir Stafford Northcote), who, when the Government accepted the Amendments of the hon. Member for Sunderland (Mr. Storey), and that moved by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Preston (Mr. Raikes), turned to his supporters and said—"What do you think of this Government? They do not know their own minds for a single moment. Look at their weakness and vacillation." After that warning, after that lecture, after that example, 17 Members had complained that the Government did not vacillate more, and give more evidence of their instability by accepting more Amendments. There had been one variation upon the usual stock attack on the Government, and that had been the speech of the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. Cowen). However much he (the Attorney General) differed from the statements in the speech, and from its tone and result, it was impossible for anyone who had heard it not to acknowledge the pleasure with which it was bound to be listened to as a literary composition. In one other sense he had listened to it with pleasure also, because it had marked more definitely and more completely the line which existed between the hon. Gentleman and the Liberal Party for the future. He hoped the hon. Member would not think he (the Attorney General) was wanting in courtesy if he said that the time was come if the hon. Member for Newcastle had such serious charges as he had made that night to bring against the Liberal Party, that he should look that Party in the face, that he should sit amongst those with whom he acted, on whose behalf he spoke, and with whom he invariably voted, and that he should not go through the form of sitting on one side of the House and acting with the other. He had declared himself to be a Democrat, and one who spoke on behalf of Democracy. He had invoked the Liberalism of the past, and had declared himself an enemy of the Liberalism of the present. He sneered at those whom he termed the idolators of the immediate, and he had refused to recognize the necessity of legislation upon any subject, and for the redress of any grievance; and that all he wanted was past legislation well administered. The hon. Gentleman might have made the same declaration with equal theoretical correctness 50 years ago. What would have been the result of such a doctrine 50 years ago? Men would have been reminded of the great traditions of that House, and would have been told that in desiring reforms they were only idolators of Utopian schemes. What would the hon. Member have said to the emancipation of the Roman Catholics, to taxed bread, and to those who, in consequence of that tax, were steeped in poverty, and to those other reforms which had been carried by the Liberal Party? The hon. Member must settle those questions in the present time with those with whom he had to deal. The hon. Member had made a violent attack upon what he chose to call the Caucus. That was one of the stock ingredients of the charges against the Government which he had hoped to pass lightly by. And his labours had been lightened by the hon. and learned Member for Plymouth (Mr. Edward Clarke), who, knowing how many Conservative Associations there were in the country, said he would not join in the attack upon the Caucus.


I used no such expression.


said, the contradiction or correction of the hon. and learned Member was so broad that he felt he must be quoting the statement of someone else.


I do not want the contradiction to be broader than the case warrants. What I said was that I was not afraid of the Caucus, but that, so far as it was useful in its operations, we had Associations on the Tory side, which had been discharging the same functions. And I said, with regard to the peculiar action of the Caucus, that I believed it would alienate from the Liberal side independent thinkers, and would so do more harm than any mechanical operation would do good.


said, he did not think the denial of his hon. and learned Friend had gone beyond the necessities of the case. The explanation would be perfectly satisfactory to both parties. During the Royal Titles Bill, upwards of 200 Petitions were brought from Conservative Associations directing Conservative Members how to vote. While the hon. Member for Newcastle was denouncing the Caucus, he should have liked to have heard from him whether there was not a Democratic Federation of which he was the President. That Democratic Federation bore a name. It would be hardly respectful to the hon. Gentleman to state what it was; but it was said that the noun substantive was "Caucus," and that the prefix had a special reference to his Christian name. It was a society asking for legislation from that House, and that was the federation he was using for political purposes in the North. It had even been admitted by the noble Lord opposite (Lord Randolph Churchill) that it was inevitable that there should be new legislation, and that the Conservatives ought not to allow the opportunity of dealing with certain questions to slip from their grasp. Let the hon. Member for Newcastle return to his constituency; let him tell them that legislation was not a question that ought to be dealt with in that House; let him tell those colliers in the North, who had not yet forgotten the sound of that terrible colliery explosion, that there was to be no legislation on their behalf—["Question! "]—hon. Gentlemen who cried "Question! heard that the speech of the hon. Member for Newcastle was to be made, and they gathered in the House to cheer every word of attack upon the Government. Was no reply to be made to that speech? In continuation of his reply to that speech he would say—Let the hon. Member for Newcastle go and tell the agricultural labourers in the North that no advance in their position was required; let him tell every interest he met in Newcastle that no change was required. Let him tell those he met on Change that laws such as the Patent Laws and the Bankruptcy Laws were all one could wish, and say that those who wished to remedy defects in the law were "the idolators of the immediate." He could understand that whilst the hon. Gentleman was making these attacks amidst the cheers of hon. Gentlemen opposite, the wheels of his rhetoric grew so warm that there might be some sparks of inaccuracy thrown off in his progress; but the hon. Member had no right to deal with the characters of public men who denied certain of the statements he made. It had been admitted by the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire that the charge the hon. Member for Newcastle made was a direct charge against the present Government of having formed an alliance with Members of the Irish Party. He charged one Member of the Government—the President of the Board of Trade—with having formed an alliance with the hon. Member for Cavan (Mr. Biggar) to oppose one Bankruptcy Bill while he was now appealing for the closure to carry another. The hon. Member had been misinformed on that subject. On the 16th July, 1879, the last year of the late Government, a Bankruptcy Bill was under discussion which had been introduced at the termination of the Session. Towards the end of the evening the hon. Member for Carnarvonshire (Mr. Rathbone) made a suggestion to restore the system of Grand Committees, a system that had not been carried on for 150 years. Time was required for the consideration of that proposition, and the hon. Member for Cavan having moved the adjournment, the President of the Board of Trade seconded the Motion, and that was the only foundation for the statement of the hon. Member for Newcastle. He would ask the hon. Member if he made such charges against Parties and against men that he should test the accuracy of the statements before he made them. There had been the appeal over and over again to the traditions of the House. He believed that every Member was proud of those traditions; but how was it possible to appeal to traditions when the circumstances which surrounded them had entirely changed? It was not merely the Obstruction of individual Members with which they had to deal, but the enormous increase in the Business of the House. In 1841 not more than 231 Members took part in the Business of the House; but in the year 1881 the number had increased to 441, and they might be sure that the speeches were no shorter than they used to be. They had but a certain portion of time to dispose of from the beginning of February to the middle of August. That time could not be increased without the risk of driving out of the House the men whom it was most desirable to keep in it, and who could not afford to give up more than seven months of the year to Parliamentary life. The real question was—were they going to maintain the present system and spend the whole Session upon one or two Bills, or would they be willing to make necessary changes for the passage of Business through the House? It was undoubtedly the practice for Members in that House to expend all their time upon discussing certain measures, and thus to leave no opportunity of discussing others of equal, if not of greater, importance. The noble Viscount the Member for Liverpool (Viscount Sandon) had disputed the accuracy of the Prime Minister's statement that last Session was a barren one, and had instanced certain measures which he praised the Liberal Party for having passed. The fact, however, was that every one of the Acts to which the noble Viscount had pointed so triumphantly had been passed without a single word of discussion. The Settled Land Act itself, which affected every settled estate throughout the Kingdom, and the credit for which was due to one man alone—its author, Lord Cairns—was only passed through that House in consequence of the hon. Member for Salford (Mr. Arnold), who thought that it did not go far enough, yielding to a personal appeal made to him to remove the block which he had placed against it; and that measure also, important as it was, had been passed without a single word of discussion, because the time of the House had been wasted in the unnecessary discussion of other measures. It had been well said the other day by a gentleman, who, if ever he entered Parliament, would adorn the other side of the House, that business to be business must be brief. That was the view that the House was about to adopt. The right hon. Member for Westminster (Mr. W. H. Smith) had said that if they passed this Resolution, they should be making a mockery of the prayer for freedom of speech, which the Speaker uttered at the commencement of each Parliament. But that prayer related, not to permission to repeat the same arguments 20 times over, but for leave to state those arguments once. It was the quality, and not the quantity, of the debate that had to be looked to. The hon. Member for Wilton (Mr. Herbert) had told the House a tale about the Obstruction which the Liberal Party, when in Opposition, had offered to the Army Discipline Bill. He did not wish to recriminate, otherwise he could refer to the course taken by hon. Members opposite to the Clerical Disabilities Bill, to the Army Purchase Bill, to the Ballot Bill, and to many other measures. As far as related to the Army Discipline Bill, however, it had been supported by the present Secretary of State for the Home Department, and by the noble Marquess the Secretary of State for India; and if, in the face of the combined action of the two Front Benches, it was so difficult to pass the measure, that was a convincing proof of the necessity for this Resolution. Different remedies had been suggested as alternatives to the Resolution. The noble Viscount the Member for Liverpool (Viscount Sandon) suggested Urgency, with increased powers of suspension. Did the House wish to see an increased number of suspensions, which must inevitably result in conflicts between individuals and the Speaker, which the right hon. Gentleman and the House would sincerely regret. There was one other matter to which he wished to refer before sitting down. On Wednesday last, in answer to an appeal made by the hon. Member for Mayo (Mr. O'Connor Power), the Prime Minister stated that he still kept in view the question of local self-government in Ireland. As soon as the right hon. Gentleman had concluded his speech, the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. E. Stanhope) suggested that the Government were contemplating a new departure in favour of the Irish people in the hope of influencing the votes of their Representatives; but the Prime Minister's declarations were simply statements with regard to a promise already given. In the Speech from the Throne in January, 1881, Her Majesty said— A measure will be submitted to you for the establishment of County Government in Ireland, founded upon representative principles, and framed with the double aim of confirming popular control over expenditure, and of supplying a yet more serious want by extending the formation of habits of local self-government. That promise was given in 1881, and it remained unfulfilled because there was not freedom of discussion in that House. Sharing the view of the Leader of the Opposition, that the worst fate which could befall the House of Commons was that it should "die through contempt," he (the Attorney General) believed that the only way to avert that fate would be to restore to that House the full exercise of its powers, and that this object would be most effectually attained by passing the Resolution now under consideration.


said, it would be a pain to a great many people both in England and Ireland, and a disappointment to a great many others, to learn from the dry, legal, interpretation given by the First Law Officer of the Crown, that the ambiguous statement of the Prime Minister on Wednesday last meant nothing, after all, but a County Government Bill—a County Government Bill such as he supposed every hon. Member who had ever occupied the position of Chief Secretary for Ireland except himself had at one time or other of his career had the pleasure of introducing to the House of Cmmons—a County Government Bill which, forsooth, was postponed last Session, simply because Her Majesty's Government preferred to introduce other measures in its place. He was not surprised that the Government had considered that the clôture—the voluntary clôture—which was suggested by the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister on Wednesday to his Colleagues, was no sufficient answer to that noble speech which had been delivered earlier this evening—a speech which, whatever they might think of the sentiments contained in it, was, in its eloquence, worthy of the best days of the House of Commons, and was deserving a better reply than that which had been vouchsafed to it. For what had the hon. and learned Member the Attorney General done? He had denounced the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. Cowen), who was a truer and purer Radical than himself. He had misrepresented the hon. Gentleman's statements, and had explained the charges the hon. Member had made by an admission of their truth; but there was one thing which the hon. and learned Member had omitted to do, and that was to reply to the arguments contained in the hon. Member's speech. He (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) had hoped, when the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, in introducing this Resolution at a very early period of the Session, asked the House to consider it as a matter affecting its duties and its dignity, and, indeed, its future welfare, and ability to perform its duty to the satisfaction of the country, that the House would treat it as other than a Party question. He had, in fact, understood the Prime Minister to entreat the House not to treat this as a Party question. Well, it had been reserved this evening for the First Law Officer of the Crown—for the Attorney General—to treat this as, above all others, a Party question; for what had he done to the hon. Member for Newcastle in response to his speech? Why, he had solemnly read the hon. Member out of the Liberal Party. It would be interesting to know whether a similar pressure was exercised upon those more yielding Members of the Party opposite, who were content with speaking out-of-doors against this Resolution, and with placing Amendments on the Paper which they never moved, and the withdrawal of which they never explained. He should like to know—to borrow a word from the hon. and learned Gentleman—whether the efforts of those hon. Members had been "burked" in the same way as it had been attempted to "burke" those of the hon. Member for Newcastle? The hon. and learned Gentleman had proceeded to misrepresent one of the most important statements and arguments in the speech of the hon. Member for Newcastle. He had asserted that the hon. Member was opposed to those very measures of which all his political life, so far as he (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) knew, he had represented himself to be the friend, and in favour of which he had voted whenever an opportunity had presented itself. The hon. Member for Newcastle said in his speech, not that he was opposed to these measures, but that they were asking him to buy them at too dear a price. A similar statement was made the other day by no less an independent Member of the Party opposite than the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. P. A. Taylor); but the hon. Gentleman—why, he (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach), knew not—had not yet been read out of the Liberal Party. Then the hon. and learned Gentleman had gone on to tell them that the charges made against the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade (Mr. Chamberlain) were "without foundation." He (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) did not know what a charge without foundation meant; but the hon. and learned Member had admitted that the hon. Member for Cavan (Mr. Biggar)—it was to be supposed at somebody's instigation, for he had never yet found that hon. Member taking an interest of his own free will in legislation apper- taning to England—had blocked the further proceeding on the Bankruptcy Bill. He (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) himself on that occasion saw, as the hon. and learned Gentleman had admitted, the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade take off his hat and second that Motion. If that was not an admission of the charge made by the hon. Member for Newcastle, he (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) did not know what was. He had something more to say than this. This was not the only action of the kind undertaken by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade. He (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) could remember well, and his Colleagues could also recollect, how on the 11th and 12th of August, 1879, that right hon. Gentleman kept up the House of Commons all night long by dilatory Motions in opposition to that Bill—a Bill the purpose and object of which was to save the money of the people. But it was not necessary to dwell further on the remarks of the hon. and learned Member in reference to the hon. Member for Newcastle; indeed, if the hon. Member for Newcastle had been in his place, he should not have ventured to interfere between him and the hon. and learned Member. He would proceed to deal with what he understood to be the arguments of the hon. and learned Member in favour of the proposition which they were now considering. The hon. and learned Gentleman's great text seemed to be this—if Members of the House would discuss some measures at too great length, other measures equally or more important could not be discussed at all. Let thorn deal with the discussion of certain measures at too great length first. What the hon. and learned Member, he supposed, meant was this—that trivial discussions had been initiated and carried on in the House in order to prevent other measures coming on. Well, if that were so, that practice, he ventured to say, would be entirely put down by some such Proviso as was contained in the 5th Rule placed on the Table by Her Majesty's Government, preventing unnecessary repetitions, and compelling Members—as, indeed, they might be compelled under the existing Rules—to adhere to the Question before the House, and empowering the Chair, if they did not do their duty in that re- spect, to compel them to cease their speeches. Then the hon. and learned Gentleman went on to say that the Estimates at present were not sufficiently discussed, that opportunities could not be found for approaching them, and that, in fact, they were impeded by waste of time. But Her Majesty's Government appeared to have forgotten that they had placed on the Paper a Rule—the 12th of these Resolutions—which went much further than was necessary to cure any defect that existed in their practice in that respect. If that Resolution were carried in anything like its present form, far more time would be given to the Government for the transaction of the Business of Supply than any Government had hitherto possessed in that House, and the particular objection of the hon. and learned Gentleman would certainly be met. But then the hon. and learned Gentleman had said—"Oh, then there is the Indian Budget, which cannot be properly discussed." Why, he (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) thought they understood from the Prime Minister the other day that when hon. Gentlemen did not choose to attend the House debates ought to cease and discussion was useless; and if ever there was an occasion when hon. Members were not present in the House, surely it was when the Indian Budget was before it. Then the hon. and learned Member referred to private legislation, and made a bitter complaint that the Settled Land Bill of the present Session had been passed without public debate in the House. Well, but if that was a good measure, as he understood from the Attorney General it was, what would have been the use of discussion?


Hear, hear!


said, he did not know what the right hon. Gentleman meant. His statement was this—here was an Act admitted by every Member of the House to be a good measure—


Not at all.


Not admitted by the right hon. Gentleman to be a good measure?


Not admitted by every Member of the House.


Why, then, did the Government consent to its passing? Here was an Act ad- mitted, if not by every Member, at all events by 99 out of 100 Members to be a good one, and because there was not a discussion on it—which would have been perfectly useless in the face of universal assent—they were told, forsooth, that the clôture was required. The hon. and learned Member said that the present state of things must be amended; but that was no argument whatever in favour of the particular proposal before the House. It was all very well for hon. Members to repeat—as hon. Members opposite had, day after day, repeated—that the present state of things was intolerable, that there was great waste of time, and that some steps must be taken to deal with the evil. If the Prime Minister had come down to the House and moved a general Resolution of that kind, these arguments would have been perfectly appropriate, and he (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach), for one, would not have been voting or speaking in opposition to him; but what they had to consider that night was whether this particular Resolution now before the House was the right way of dealing with the evil of which they complained. He, for his part, ventured to say that it was not. In the first place, it was directly contrary to the principle which the late Government invariably followed in all their proceedings on this question. That principle was that in attempting to restrict the waste of time in the House—call it by what name they pleased—they must attempt to deal with those persons who were guilty of that waste, and must not, for their fault, take away privileges from Members who did not abuse them. That was the principle of the late Government, and it was directly violated by the proposal before the House. But, again, he believed—and, if time permitted, he believed he could show to the satisfaction of the House—that all the evils of which they had cause to complain, in connection with waste of time in the House, would be covered by one or other of the Resolutions on the Paper, without any necessity at all for this Resolution. If that were so, he would ask, why was this Resolution pressed upon them with an urgency quite unparalleled in the history of similar measures? Was it because of its intrinsic merits? Why, no one defended it on that ground. Was it because it was in accordance with the "evident sense of the House at large?" The division would show that it was nothing of that kind. Was it on account of Foreign or Colonial experience? That argument had been tried, but had failed. Was it because it, and it alone, could satisfactorily relieve any particular evil? No one had shown that to be the case. Was it because anyone believed that within the next year or so it was likely to have any very great effect if applied as Her Majesty's Government professed they intended to apply it, and in the only way in which Mr. Speaker would permit it to be applied? Why, they had heard the hon. Baronet the Member for South Durham (Sir Joseph Pease), whose views, he believed, were shared by many who sat in that quarter of the House, say that if he thought it would be employed as a Party weapon, he, for one, would vote against it. No doubt, that was the hon. Baronet's view. He (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) wished to speak with every respect of the intentions of Her Majesty's Government on that matter; but what he feared was that they were not masters of their intentions in the future. The real masters of this matter in the future, if they sat anywhere at all in that House, sat below the Gangway on the Ministerial side; and what had they said with reference to their intentions as to the working and application of this Rule? He did not know what view the President of the Board of Trade might take on this point; but it was a singular fact that throughout the whole course of these debates the right hon. Gentleman had never favoured the House with his views as to this matter. The noble Marquess the Secretary of State for India (the Marquess of Hartington) the other night shrank with something like horror from the doctrines of the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere); but he feared that the active Members of the noble Marquess's Party would really, in the end, control its policy, and would be too strong for the noble Marquess in this matter, as they had been this and last year on the great question of Irish land legislation—he feared that the noble Marquess would be hurried away by his Party into sanctioning an application of this Rule which, no doubt, at the present moment, the noble Marquess did not in the least degree intend. There was, then, this fact to guide them as to the future; and there was this other fact—that with these threats as to the application of the Rule before their eyes, Her Majesty's Government had steadfastly declined to insert any words in these Rules that would prevent these threats from being carried into effect. He did not know whether they would be told that, after all, these fears were groundless, and that the safeguard was the initiative of the Chair. If the House would bear with him, he should like to ask hon. Members to test by practical experience the value of this safeguard of the initiative of the Chair. He did not now refer to the action of the Speaker. They all knew that they were safe in the right hon. Gentleman's hands; and as to the future, he (Sir Michel Hicks-Beach) was not going to deal in prophecy. What he referred to was a part of this question which was very remarkably avoided by the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister in his reply to the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Gibson), and that was the position of the Chairman of Committees, to whom they had unfortunately intrusted the working of this Rule. He should like to recall the attention of the House to what had actually, within a very recent time, taken place in that House with regard to a Rule—namely, the 12th Standing Order of the 28th of February, under which the initiative rested as fully and completely with the Chair as it was proposed it should do under the Rule now under consideration. The House would remember that on the 1st of July last the Committee of the House had been for many hours engaged in the discussion of the Protection of Person and Property (Ireland) Bill. Motions for reporting Progress and for Adjournment had been made. The hon. Member for Queen's County (Mr. A. O'Connor) rose and made another of those Motions, and the hon. and gallant Member for West Gloucestershire (Colonel Kingscote) asked if the hon. Member for Queen's County was in Order. He said— It was trifling with the Committee to make such Motions continually."—[3 Hansard, cclxxi. 1201.] The Chairman of Ways and Means, with whom the initiative rested, said— The Chairman is only the exponent of the wishes of the Committee, and I have waited to see whether the Committee entertain the same view that I do."—[Ibid.] He then put the Question, which, on a division, was negatived; and a Motion was thereupon made by the hon. Member for Roscommon (Mr. O'Kelly), "That the Chairman do now leave the Chair." The hon. Baronet the Member for Glamorganshire (Sir Hussey Vivian) then rose and said— I think that the Committee must feel that the time has fully come when this, which I would almost call a farce, should be Drought to a close.…It will not he denied that the Motion of the hon. Member comes within the Standing Order of this House. I therefore most earnestly appeal to the Leader of the House not to allow this state of things to continue in absolute opposition to, and disregard of, the Standing Order, and that he will take such measures as are necessary to re-establish the dignity and Order of the House."—[Ibid.] His right hon. Friend the Member for South-West Lancashire (Sir E. Assheton Cross) at once rose and said— According to the Standing Orders of this House, the responsibility of taking action does not rest with the Leader of the House, but with the Speaker or the Chairman of Committees."—[Ibid.] And what did the Leader of the House say? He said that the right hon. Member for South-West Lancashire had stated the law of the House on the subject with perfect accuracy, and continued thus— At the same time, as an appeal has been made to me, although I have no duty of taking the initiative in the matter, I think that it is my duty to answer the appeal, and at least give my opinion. I am bound to say that I cannot for a moment entertain a doubt as to the application of the Standing Order to the case before us."—[Ibid. 1203.] And then the right hon. Gentleman showed why it applied. Immediately on the Leader of the House resuming his seat, the Chairman, who had taken no action up to that time, said— I think it now my duty to Name certain Members as having abused the Rules of the House by persistent and wilful Obstruction of the Business of the Committee."—[Ibid.] The House would observe that the Rule placed the initiative in the Chairman of Committees; he was unwilling to exercise it; he permitted an appeal to be made to the Leader of the House, and the Leader of the House expressed his opinion on the subject—an opinion expressed in terms which he (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) ventured to say few if any Chairmen of Committees could, by any possibility, resist; and the Chairman, on the authority of the Leader of the House, accordingly Named certain Members as having been guilty of Obstruction. Far be it from him to say it was done wrongly; but the Rule, at least, was put in force under circumstances that could not for a moment have been expected by the House when it was passed. Did not this argument pulverize and destroy all that had been said as to the value of the intentions of the Government with regard to the working of the Rule? He trusted the House would understand that he had not quoted this page of Parliamentary history with the idea of casting any blame upon the Chairman of Ways and Means—an honourable Gentleman, actuated with a sincere desire to be impartial in the discharge of the duties of his Office. Nor did he say that the right hon. Gentleman acted on the occasion referred to in accordance with what was generally known as Party purposes. But here was an honourable and impartial Chairman of Committees, and a Leader of the House anxious, above all things, to maintain the authority of the Chair; and yet the House would see that the initiative which belonged to the former was virtually taken by the Leader of the House. He would now put a more recent case. Hon. Members would recollect the impatience which, in speech and action, the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister exhibited at the prolongation of the debate on Wednesday last, an impatience somewhat hard upon the House, when it was borne in mind that the debate was prolonged for the convenience of both sides, and especially in order that Her Majesty's Ministers might yesterday be enabled to attend elsewhere. He would suppose, then, that on Wednesday afternoon, the Prime Minister entertaining those feelings, an hon. Member of great weight and authority, a perfect monument of impartiality, had risen from his place and said, as did the hon. Baronet the Member for Glamorganshire (Sir Hussey Vivian) in July last, that "the time had fully come when that which he would almost call a farce should be brought to a close;" that the Prime Minister said—"We do not think the prolongation of this dilatory debate expedient, or a useful expenditure of pub- lic time; that those Benches were crowded with independent supporters of Her Majesty's Government, and that the 'evident sense of the House' had been manifested by unmistakable cheers." Did hon. Members suppose that, under those circumstances, the Chairman of Ways and Means would have been sufficiently independent to assert his own view of the adequacy of the discussion against the authority of the Leader of the House, supported, as it would certainly be next morning, by every Party organ in the United Kingdom? He thought not. If, then, what he had stated were likely to re-occur, surely they were not very far from the time when, to use the words spoken by the right hon. Gentleman the other day, it would not be long before the closing power was contaminated by bringing the action of Party and Party influence into connection with the Chair, and affecting its traditions, to be in their turn followed by a violation of the traditions of the House. He was aware they were told that there would be another safeguard; and he referred to the fact that he had already mentioned this, because the right hon. Gentleman had done him the honour to quote, on two occasions, words he had used with reference to the subject in the spring of the year. On that occasion he said— He thought the Government, under the conditions of the present day, and under the present conditions of political life, would be deterred from an unfair application of this Rule simply by fear of the consequences. And that— If they attempted any such course, their opponents and critics would have a much pleasanter time in the ensuing autumn than they would. The right hon. Gentleman had not, however, quoted the whole of what he said on this subject. He (Sir Michael Hicks-Beach) went on to say— Although I believe that to be the true outcome of the position under present circumstances, I very much fear, looking at the way in which day by day the expression of individual political opinion becomes more difficult in this country; how day by day political action is being more strictly confined within the limits of Party organization, that the time will surely come when the Government of the day, taught by the clôture and the Caucuses, may with impunity use this weapon to put down political independence in the House and in the country, without that fear of appeal to the country, which fortunately, under present circumstances, would preserve us from harm. In conclusion, the House had before it a Resolution untouched, as he believed, in its worst and vital points by any Amendments to which Her Majesty's Government had assented. From their public speeches, from the Amendments they had placed upon the Paper, they knew that hon. Members opposite were as strongly opposed to this Resolution as were those on that side of the Housel and he ventured to express the hope that even yet, in the division about to take place, they might be permitted to believe they were dealing with the issue on its intrinsic merits, uncomplicated with any question of confidence, or want of confidence, in Her Majesty's Government. In his speech on the Amendment of the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Gibson), the Prime Minister said that it would be trespassing on the just jurisdiction of the House for the Government to try to enforce the rejection of that Motion by a threat of resignation. He went on to say that the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman was not an Amendment, but actually a deterioration of the present Procedure, adding that he would rather have no clôture at all. He hoped and believed that the right hon. Gentleman, who felt so strongly the injustice of using Party pressure in reference to that Amendment, would at least free hon. Members from this pressure in the vote they were about to give upon a Resolution, the rejection of which, as he had stated, would be less disagreeable to the Government than would have been the affirmation of the Motion of his right hon. and learned Friend. Hon. Members who opposed the Resolution had been told, in the course of the discussions which had taken place, that they were contending for the right to veto the measures of the majority by interminable and useless discussion. They contended for no such right; they had never exercised it; and, moreover, they believed that its exercise would render Parliamentary government not only difficult, but impossible. What they contended for was that, in the alterations of the Procedure of the House, the measures adopted should be such as were required to restrict the licence of those offenders of whom they had cause to complain, without depriving the great majority of Members of liberties which they had never abused; and in aid of that contention, on its intrinsic merits alone, they asked for the support of all, of whatever Party, who wished to preserve the rights and privileges of the House of Commons.


, who rose amid cries of "Divide!" said, he should not detain the House at any length; but he had one word to say, and, notwithstanding the cries of hon. Members opposite, as an old Member of the House, he intended to say it. He wished to enter his strongest protest, on behalf of a great constituency (North Warwickshire) and of the silent Members, against this Resolution. The whole question lay in a nutshell. If the object was the repression of Obstruction, a two-thirds' majority would secure it; but if it was something else, then he said that the Minister who brought forward this Resolution was deserving of great blame. He would call to mind what occurred in 1648, when a Resolution was passed by, as he supposed, the Prime Minister of that period, to the effect that the best means to obtain the end in view was to have soldiers in Westminster Hall, the Court of Bequests, and in the Lobby, so that they might be in readiness to pass into the House. Colonel Pride was in command of the doors on that occasion to prevent those Members who were excluded from entering the House. They were about to enter upon a similar state of things; and he would add, with reference to the Speaker's Office, that, in his opinion, if the Resolution now before the House were passed, the dignity and sanctity of that Office would be gone.


said, he rose to ask a question arising out of the speech of the Attorney General. The Prime Minister, in the course of these debates, had told them that the clôture was not for the purpose of dealing with Obstruction, but to facilitate legislation which the Government might deem desirable. Now, in the course of his speech, the hon. and learned Attorney General had stated that legislation was wanted for the miners of Northumberland and the labourers of Newcastle. To what legislation did this refer? Either it meant something or nothing. If it meant something, and if the Attorney General referred to some specific measures which he had in con- templation, or which the Government intended to introduce, it was essential, before the House passed a Rule to facilitate legislation, that they should know what those measures were. He would distinctly ask the Attorney General to state what the measures were that were necessary for the miners of Northumberland and for the labourers of Newcastle. If, on the other hand, the Attorney General meant nothing by the statement, it appeared to him (Lord Elcho) to be unwise on the part of a Minister to encourage expectations which the Government had no intention of realizing, and to do that in the interest of a political Party.


said, he had no intention of trespassing more than a few minutes upon the time of the House. Attention had been called to the most able speech of the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. Cowen). The hon. Member for Newcastle was a Radical, and he spoke as he (Mr. Newdegate) had heard Radicals speak in days of old. The hon. Member was a happy exception to the ultra-Liberals of the present day. But he wished to call the attention of the House to another speech—to the speech of the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton). That hon. Member gave a full account of the origin of the Party to which he belonged. He said that his Party had separated itself from all other Parties in Ireland, and that the object of the Party was the disorganization of the House of Commons. He (Mr. Newdegate) sat behind the hon. Member for Sligo; and those were the sentiments, if not the exact words, with which his speech concluded. Now, he did not hear the speech of the Prime Minister on Wednesday—he did not expect the right hon. Gentleman would speak on that day—but he claimed the attention of the right hon. Gentleman when he said that he (the Prime Minister) was not the author of this measure. The author of the measure sat beside the Prime Minister—namely, the noble Marquess the Secretary of State for India (the Marquess of Hartington). He served with the noble Marquess upon the Committee on Public Business which satin 1878. The noble Marquess did not make his intention perfectly clear to that Committee—he would not venture to do so there; but he owned his intention in his speech in this debate. In the spring of the year he cited a speech of the noble Marquess showing that he was the author of this measure, and he cited a speech of the Prime Minister in answer to his Colleague; and, with the permission of the House, he would read the Prime Minister's speech. The Prime Ministersaid—["Oh!"]—well, he would not quote; but he would say that in answering and condemning his Colleague the right hon. Gentleman said that the clôture, instead of punishing the offending Members, would punish the House itself. He had taken the trouble to copy the particular passage from the speech, and if the right hon. Gentleman wished, he would read it to the House. ["Read!"] On the 27th of February, 1880, the Prime Minister said— Reference has been made to the practice abroad of what is termed the clôture; but let us observe and bear in mind that, "whatever the clôture may be as a means of saving the time of a deliberative Assembly, it is, I think—and so I presume Her Majesty's Government have thought—inapplicable to the present discussion, because, as a penal measure, it would surely be altogether inappropriate. The clôture is not the stoppage of a particular Member who is supposed to have offended, it is the stoppage of the debate; and, therefore, to bring in the clôture for the purposes which this Resolution contemplates would be simply to enact that the House would punish itself, and the great interests with which it is charged, in consequence of the offence of a particular Member."—[3 Hansard, ccl. 1593.] Now, he (Mr. Newdegate) begged to recall attention to the speech of the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton). The hon. Gentleman boasted that he had been a party to the protraction of debates. He (Mr. Newdegate) claimed the deliberate opinion of the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister that this measure would not check abuse on the part of Members themselves, but that it would punish the House of Commons. In conclusion, he trusted that the right hon. Gentleman would persevere with the principle of his 9th Resolution, which was in accordance with the ancient discipline of the House, which had always proved effectual whenever it had been applied—namely, of calling to the Bar or of suspending for an indefinite period a Member who, like the hon. Member for Sligo, had disorganized the debates in the House. He lamented this measure because it was a measure in which the minority would not only dispute the Speaker's decision, but must appear, at all events, to controvert his authority, and thereby to contribute to the dishonour of the Office the right hon. Gentleman the Speaker had so worthily filled.

Main Question, as amended, put.

The House divided:—Ayes 304; Noes 260: Majority 44.

Acland, C. T. D. Chambers, Sir T.
Acland, Sir T. D. Cheetham, J. F.
Agnew, W. Childers, rt. hn. H.C.E.
Ainsworth, D. Clarke, J. C.
Allen, H. G. Clifford, C. C.
Allen, W. S. Cohen, A.
Armitage, B. Colebrooke, Sir T. E.
Armitstead, G. Collings, J.
Arnold, A. Collins, E.
Asher, A. Colman, J. J.
Ashley, hon. E. M. Colthurst, Col. D. La T.
Baldwin, E. Corbett, J.
Balfour, Sir G. Cotes, C. C.
Balfour, J. B. Courtney, L. H.
Balfour, J. S. Cowper, hon. H. F.
Barclay, J. W. Craig, W. Y.
Baring, Viscount Creyke, R.
Barran, J. Cropper, J.
Bass, Sir A. Cross, J. K.
Bass, H. Cunliffe, Sir R. A.
Bass, M. T. Currie, Sir D.
Baxter, rt. hon. W. E. Davey, H.
Beaumont, W. B. Davies, D.
Biddulph, M. Davies, R.
Blennerhassett, Sir R. Davies, W.
Bolton, J. C. De Ferrieres, Baron
Borlase, W. C. Dickson, J.
Brand, H. R. Dickson, T. A.
Brassey, H. A. Dilke, Sir C. W.
Brassey, Sir T. Dilke, A. W.
Brett, R. B. Dillwyn, L. L.
Briggs, W. E. Dodds, J.
Bright, rt. hon. J. Dodson, rt. hon. J. G.
Bright, J. (Manchester) Duckham, T.
Brinton, J. Duff, R. W.
Broadhurst, H. Dundas, hon. J. C.
Brogden, A. Earp, T.
Brooks, M. Ebrington, Viscount
Brown, A. H. Edwards, H.
Bruce, rt. hon. Lord C. Edwards, P.
Bruce, hon. R. P. Egerton, Adm. hon. F.
Bryce, J. Elliot, hon. A. R. D.
Buchanan, T. R. Errington, G.
Burt, T. Evans, T. W.
Buszard, M. C. Fairbairn, Sir A.
Butt, C. P. Farquharson, Dr. R.
Buxton, F. W. Fawcett, rt. hon. H.
Caine, W. S. Fay, C. J.
Cameron, C. Ferguson, R.
Campbell, Sir G. Ffolkes, Sir W. H. B.
Campbell, R. F. F. Findlater, W.
Campbell-Bannerman, H. Firth, J. F. B.
Fitzmaurice, Lord E.
Carbutt, E. H. Fitzwilliam, hon. C. W. W.
Carington, hon. R.
Cartwright, W. C. Flower, C.
Causton, R. K. Foljambe, C. G. S.
Cavendish, Lord E. Foljambe, F. J. S.
Chamberlain, rt. hn. J. Forster, rt. hon. W. E.
Forster, Sir C. M'Arthur, W.
Fort, R. M'Clure, Sir T.
Fowler, H. H. M'Intyre, Æueas J.
Fowler, W. Mackie, R. B.
Fry, L. Mackintosh, C. F.
Fry, T. M'Lagan, P.
Givan, J. M'Laren, C. B. B.
Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E. Macliver, P. S.
Gladstone, H. J. M'Minnies, J. G.
Gladstone, W. H. Maitland, W. F.
Glyn, hon. S. C. Mappin, F. T.
Gordon, Sir A. Marjoribanks, E.
Goschen, rt. hon. G. J. Martin, R. B.
Gourley, E. T. Maskelyne, M. H. Story-
Gower, hon. E. F. L. Matheson, Sir A.
Grafton, F. W. Maxwell-Heron, J.
Grant, A. Meldon, C. H.
Grant, D. Mellor, J. W.
Grant, Sir G. M. Monk, C. J.
Grenfell, W. H. Moreton, Lord
Grey, A. H. G. Morgan, rt. hon. G. O.
Guest, M. J. Morley, A.
Gurdon, R. T. Morley, S.
Harcourt, rt. hon. Sir W. G. V. V. Mundella, rt. hon. A. J.
Nicholson, W.
Hardcastle, J. A. Noel, E.
Hartington, Marq. Of O'Beirne, Colonel F.
Hastings, G. W. O'Brien, Sir P.
Hayter, Sir A. D. O'Donoghue, The
Heneage, E. O'Shaughnessy, R.
Herschell, Sir F. O'Shea, W. H.
Hibbert, J. T. Otway, Sir A.
Hill, T. R. Paget, T. T.
Holden, I. Palmer, C. M.
Holland, S. Palmer, G.
Hollond, J. R. Palmer, J. H.
Holms, J. Parker, C. S.
Holms, W. Pease, A.
Hopwood, C. H. Pease, Sir J. W.
Howard, E. S. Peddie, J. D.
Howard, G. J. Peel, A. W.
Howard, J. Pender, J.
Illingworth, A. Pennington, F.
Inderwick, F. A. Philips, R. N.
James, C. Playfair, rt. hon. L.
James, Sir H. Porter, A. M.
James, W. H. Potter, T. B.
Jardine, R. Powell, W. R. H.
Jenkins, Sir J. J. Price, Sir R. G.
Jenkins, D. J. Pulley, J.
Jerningham, H. E. H. Ralli, P.
Johnson, rt. hon. W. M. Ramsay, J.
Johnson, E. Rathbone, W.
Jones-Parry, L. Reed, Sir E. J.
Kinnear, J. Reid, R. T.
Labouchere, H. Rendel, S.
Laing, S. Richard, H.
Lambton, hon. F. W. Richardson, J. N.
Lawrence, Sir J. C. Richardson, T.
Lawrence, W. Roberts, J.
Lawson, Sir W. Robertson, H.
Lea, T. Rogers, J. E. T.
Leake, R. Rothschild, Sir N. M. de
Leatham, E. A. Roundell, C. S.
Leatham, W. H. Russell, Lord A.
Lee, H. Russell, C.
Leeman, J. J. Russell, G. W. E.
Lefevre, rt. hn. G. J. S. Samuelson, B.
Leigh, hon. G. H. C. Samuelson, H.
Lloyd, M. Seely, C. (Nottingham)
Lusk, Sir A. Sellar, A. C.
Lymington, Viscount Shaw, T.
M'Arthur, A. Sheridan, H. B.
Shield, H. Vivian, A. P.
Simon, Serjeant J. Vivian, Sir H. H.
Sinclair, Sir J. G. T. Waddy, S. D.
Slagg, J. Waterlow, Sir S. H.
Smith, E. Waugh, E.
Spencer, hon. C. R. Webster, J.
Stanley, hon. E. L. Whalley, G. H.
Stansfeld, rt. hon. J. Whitbread, S.
Stanton, W. J. Whitworth, B.
Stevenson, J. C. Wiggin, H.
Stewart, J. Williams, S. C. E.
Storey, S. Williamson, S.
Stuart, H. V. Willis, W.
Summers, W. Wills, W. H.
Talbot, C. R. M. Willyams, E. W. B.
Tavistock, Marquess of Wilson, C. H.
Tennant, C. Wilson, Sir M.
Thomasson, J. P. Wodehouse, E. R.
Thompson, T. C. Woodall, W.
Tillett, J. H. Woolf, S.
Tracy, hon. F. S. A. Hanbury-
Trevelyan, rt. hn. G. O. Grosvenor, Lord R.
Verney, Sir H. Kensington, Lord
Alexander, Colonel Churchill, Lord R.
Allsopp, C. Clarke, E.
Amherst, W. A. T. Clive, Col. hon. G. W.
Archdale, W. H. Coddington, W.
Ashmead-Bartlett, E. Cole, Viscount
Aylmer, J. E. F. Collins, T.
Bailey, Sir J. R. Commins, A.
Balfour, A. J. Compton, F.
Barne, F. St. J. N. Coope, O. E.
Barry, J. Corbet, W. J.
Barttelot, Sir W. B. Corry, J. P.
Bateson, Sir T. Cotton, W. J. R.
Beach, rt. hon. Sir M. H. Courtauld, G.
Beach, W. W. B. Cowen, J.
Bective, Earl of Cross, rt. hon. Sir R. A.
Bellingham, A. H. Cubitt, rt. hon. G.
Bentinck, rt. hon. G. C. Dalrymple, C.
Biddell, W. Daly, J.
Biggar, J. G. Davenport, H. T.
Birkbeck, E. Davenport, W. B.
Blackburne, Col. J. I. Dawnay, Col. hn. L. P.
Blake, J. A. Dawnay, hon. G. C.
Boord, T. W. Dawson, C.
Bourke, rt. hon. R. De Worms, Baron H.
Brise, Colonel R. Dickson, Major A. G.
Broadley, W. H. H. Digby, Col. hon. E.
Brodrick, hon. W. St. J. F. Dixon-Hartland, F. D.
Donaldson-Hudson, C.
Brooke, Lord Douglas, A. Akers-
Brooks, W. C. Dyke, rt. hn. Sir W. H.
Bruce, Sir H. H. Eaton, H. W.
Bruce, hon. T. Ecroyd, W. F.
Bulwer, J. R. Egerton, hon. W.
Burghley, Lord Elcho, Lord
Burnaby, General E. S. Elliot, G. W.
Burrell, Sir W. W. Elliot, Sir G.
Buxton, Sir R. J. Emlyn, Viscount
Byrne, G. M. Ennis, Sir J.
Callan, P. Estcourt, G. S.
Cameron, D. Feilden, Major-General R. J.
Campbell, J. A.
Carden, Sir R. W. Fellowes, W. H.
Cecil, Lord E. H. B. G. Fenwick-Bisset, M.
Chaine, J. Filmer, Sir E.
Chaplin, H. Finch, G. H.
Christie, W. L. Fitzpatrick, hn. B.E.B
Fletcher, Sir H. M'Garel-Hogg, Sir J.
Floyer, J. Makins, Colonel W. T.
Folkestone, Viscount Manners, rt. hn. Lord J.
Forester, C. T. W. March, Earl of
Foster, W. H. Marriott, W. T.
Fowler, R. N. Master, T. W. C.
Fremantle, hon. T. F. Maxwell, Sir H. E.
Freshfield, C. K. Miles, C. W.
Galway, Viscount Miles, Sir P. J. W.
Gardner, R. Richardson- Mills, Sir C. H.
Molloy, B. C.
Garnier, J. C. Monckton, F.
Gibson, rt. hon. E. Moore, A.
Giffard, Sir H. S. Morgan, hon. F.
Goldney, Sir G. Moss, R.
Gooch, Sir D. Mowbray, rt. hon. Sir J. R.
Gore-Langton, W. S.
Gorst, J. E. Mulholland, J.
Grantham, W. Murray, C. J.
Gray, E. D. Newdegate, C. N.
Greer, T. Newport, Viscount
Gregory, G. B. Nicholson, W. N.
Halsey, T. F. Noel, rt. hon. G. J.
Hamilton, Lord C. J. Nolan, Colonel J. P.
Hamilton, I. T. North, Colonel J. S.
Hamilton, right hon. Lord G. Northcote, H. S.
Northcote, rt. hon. Sir S. H.
Harcourt, E. W.
Harvey, Sir R. B. O'Connor, A.
Hay, rt. hon. Admiral Sir J. C. D. O'Connor, T. P.
O'Donnell, F. H.
Herbert, hon. S. O'Gorman Mahon, Col. The
Hicks, E.
Hildyard, T. B. T. O'Kelly, J.
Hill, Lord A. W. Onslow, D.
Hinchingbrook, Visc. O'Sullivan, W. H.
Holland, Sir H. T. Paget, R. H.
Home, Lt.-Col. D. M. Parnell, C. S.
Hope, rt. hn. A. J. B. B. Patrick, E. W. Cochran-
Hubbard, rt. hon. J. G.
Jackson, W. L. Peek, Sir H.
Johnstone, Sir F. Pell, A.
Kennard, Col. E. H. Pemberton, E. L.
Kennaway, Sir J. H. Percy, Earl
Knight, F. W. Percy, Lord A.
Knightley, Sir R. Phipps, C. N. P.
Knowles, T. Phipps, P.
Lacon, Sir E. H. K. Plunket, rt. hon. D. R.
Lalor, R. Power, J. O'C.
Lawrance, J. C. Power, R.
Lawrence, Sir T. Price, Captain G. E.
Leamy, E. Puleston, J. H.
Lechmere, Sir E. A. H. Raikes, rt. hon. H. C.
Legh, W. J. Rankin, J.
Leigh, R. Rendlesham, Lord
Leighton, Sir B. Repton, G. W.
Leighton, S. Ridley, Sir M. W.
Lever, J. O. Ritchie, C. T.
Levett, T. J. Rolls, J. A.
Lewis, C. E. Ross, A. H.
Lewisham, Viscount Ross, C. C.
Lindsay, Sir R. L. Round, J.
Loder, R. St. Aubyn, W. M.
Long, W. H. Salt, T.
Lopes, Sir M. Sandon, Viscount
Lowther, rt. hon. J. Schreiber, C.
Lowther, hon. W. Sclater-Booth, rt. hn. G.
Macartney, J. W. E. Scott, Lord H.
Macfarlane, D. H. Scott, M. D.
MacIver, D. Selwin-Ibbetson, Sir H. J.
Macnaghten, E.
M'Carthy, J. Severne, J. E.
M'Coan, J. C. Sexton, T.
Shaw, W. Walpole, rt. hon. S.
Sheil, E. Walrond, Col. W. H.
Smith, A. Warhurton, P. E.
Smith, rt. hon. W. H. Warton, C. N.
Smithwick, J. F. Welby-Gregory, Sir W.
Stanhope, hon. E. Whitley, E.
Stanley, rt. hon. Col. F. A. Williams, Colonel O.
Wilmot, Sir H.
Stanley, E. J. Wolff, Sir H. D.
Synan, E. J. Wortley, C. B. Stuart-
Talbot, J. G. Wroughton, P.
Taylor, P. A. Wyndham, hon. P.
Thomson, H. Wynn, Sir W. W.
Thornhill, T. Yorke, J. R.
Tollemache, H. J.
Tollemache, hon. W. F. TELLERS.
Tottenham, A. L. Crichton, Viscount
Tyler, Sir H. W. Winn, R.
Wallace, Sir R.

Further Consideration of New Rules of Procedure deferred till Monday next.

House adjourned at a quarter after One o'clock till Monday next.