§ Order read, for resuming Further Consideration of the New Rules of Procedure.
said, he had now to propose the 10th Resolution. It had no connection with the length nor the interruption of debate, nor would it prevent any Gentleman from making any speech on the subject of reporting Progress or moving the Chairman out of the Chair in Committee which he could otherwise regularly make. But it enabled the Presiding Officer to save the House trouble if he chose to take upon himself the responsibility of determining that the Question should be put, which he would only do if strongly convinced that the Motion was made with the view of obstructing the Business of the House.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That if Mr. Speaker, or the Chairman of a Committee of the whole House, shall he of opinion that a Motion for the Adjournment of a Debate, or of the House, during any Debate, or that the Chairman do report Progress, or do leave the Chair, is made for the purpose of obstruction, he may forthwith put the Question thereupon from the Chair."—(Mr. Gladstone.)
§ MR. CHAPLIN
said, that they had been told upon an Amendment moved by his noble Friend the Member for Middlesex (Lord George Hamilton), on the 1st Resolution, that it was not possible, or at all events desirable, to cast upon the Speaker or Chairman the duty of diving into the motives of hon. Gentlemen. That was exactly what it was now proposed to do, and they were entitled to ask from the Government some explanation of the inconsistency.
remarked that he was not in a position to answer the hon. Gentleman's question unless he proposed an Amendment.
said, he did not propose to move the first Amendment which stood in the name of his noble Friend (Lord Randolph Churchill), because he understood that the Government intended to propose some change in the status of the Chairman of Committees. But he wished to move in line 2, after the word "opinion," the following words, "that it is the evident sense of the House at large." The effect of the Amendment would be to make the action of the Speaker or Chairman depend not upon his own view, but upon the evident sense of the House at large. This was one of the most severe Resolutions the Government had proposed. Every Motion for reporting Progress or for Adjournment was in a certain sense obstructive; but it would occur to every hon. Member that such Motions were often not only justified, but also even demanded, by the circumstances of the case. He begged to move the Amendment on the Paper.
In line 2, after the word "opinion," to insert the words "that it is the evident sense of the House at large."—(Mr. Gorst.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
said, he must oppose the Amendment. The power which it would confer on the Presiding Officer was not, in his opinion, excessive; and, according to several of the earlier Resolutions, the Presiding Officer already possessed summary powers without reference to the evident sense of the House. In the present case, if the Speaker or Chairman put the Question to the House immediately, the House would have an opportunity of dealing with the ques- 1993 tion by the vote it would give. If the House thought the Motion was reasonable, it would vote accordingly.
said, he thought that this was one of the most objectionable of all the Resolutions. Nothing was more likely to bring into disrepute the Offices of the Speaker and the Chairman of Ways and Means than the arbitrary power which the Presiding Officer would possess under this Rule of deciding on his mere ipse dixit whether or not a Member was guilty of Obstruction. He should, therefore, oppose the Resolution.
§ MR. CAVENDISH BENTINCK,
in supporting the Amendment, urged that the Speaker or the Chairman could hardly be justified in enforcing this Rule in the small hours of the morning, or against a small knot of Members who desired to prevent the passing of a Bill like the Cornwall Sunday Closing Bill at an unreasonable hour, and at the fag end of the Session. There was no proper definition of Obstruction, and the Presiding Officer was left to exercise an arbitrary power in the dark. He, therefore, thought that some such instruction as that proposed in the Amendment should be given for his guidance.
§ MR. SCLATER - BOOTH
said, it seemed to him that not only was there a great objection to this Resolution, but it was also quite unnecessary; because all that was aimed at was already provided for by Resolution 4, which provided that a Motion for Adjournment might be met by the Speaker calling upon hon. Members to stand up in their places. When, not long ago, he had proposed to place some limitation upon this power, by providing that it should be put in force when Obstruction was evident, the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister objected to such a course, because he said it would be offensive to require the Chair to say that a Motion submitted by an hon. Member was obstructive. Now, it seemed to him still more objectionable in this case, because there was no definition at all in regard to what was to happen when the Speaker ex cathedra put the Resolution into force. When was the Speaker to put the Question? That was left entirely undecided by the language of the Resolution. The general objection he had to it was that it was proposed, by a second process, to give the Speaker two lines of action in 1994 precisely similar circumstances. He hoped the Government would see fit to withdraw the Resolution. In the meanwhile, he would be disposed to vote for the Amendment of his hon. and learned Friend, because he thought it was unfair to cast the responsibility on the Chair of saying that a Motion was made for the purpose of Obstruction. His chief objection to the Resolution was that it proposed an alternative line of action and would lead to confusion.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
said, it was scarcely convenient to discuss the whole matter of the Resolution upon a single Amendment. The right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had not, until his concluding sentence, said one word about the Amendment moved by the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Gorst). He did not propose to follow the example of the right hon. Gentleman; but he wished to point out that Resolution 3, to which the right hon. Gentleman had referred—
§ MR. WARTON
It was the 4th Resolution, not the 3rd.
THE MARQUESS OF HARTINGTON
Well, then, Resolution 4 did not apply to this matter, because Resolution 4 provided that after the House had entered into the Orders of the Day or Notices of Motion, and the House had been cleared for a division, when a Motion for the adjournment of a debate or of the House should have been made, the Speaker might call upon the Members challenging his decision to rise in their places. The Resolution they were now discussing enabled the Speaker, if he was of opinion that a Motion for the adjournment of a debate, or of the House during any debate, or that the Chairman should report Progress or leave the Chair, was made for the purpose of Obstruction, he might forthwith put the Question from the Chair. The Speaker in such a case could put a stop to the debate and insist upon a division being taken at once. He failed to see what relevancy the remarks of the right hon. and learned Member for Whitehaven (Mr. Cavendish Bentinck) had to the Resolution at all. The Speaker or Chairman, in the exercise of his powers, could only put to the House at once the Question whether the debate was to be adjourned or not, or whether the Chairman should report Progress; and if a majority of the House did not support 1995 him, it would be evident to the Speaker or the Chairman that he had misinterpreted the opinion of the House. That was a penalty which would not be lightly incurred. It was said that the Resolution was an insult to the House; but hon. Members who made that assertion seemed to forget that the Resolution was one of those which were framed by the Speaker for Urgency; and he thought that when hon. Members recalled that fact, they would hardly be of opinion that it was intended by the Government as an insult to the House. When they came to discuss the Resolution as a whole, ample reason could be given why it should be adopted. In the meantime, no substantial reason had been given for the insertion of these words, and it was undesirable at that stage that they should discuss the whole of the Resolution. It would be far better to confine themselves to the Amendment before the House.
said, the House was now getting familiar with the argument which had just been used by the noble Marquess. On the first occasion when the principle of a Resolution was challenged, they were told to wait until all the Amendments were disposed of, when it would be regular to discuss the Resolution as a whole. But, on the other hand, when all the Amendments to a Resolution were disposed of, they were told that the time was past for discussing the Resolution as a whole, and that they were altogether too late. Therefore, the Government must excuse hon. Members on that side of the House if they took the present opportunity of moving and discussing such Amendments as they found necessary. [Ironical Liberal cheers.] Hon. Members cheered that. He was glad to hear that they assented to the proposal. The fault which had been found with this Resolution was, that it appeared to hon. Members on that side of the House to be in conflict with the Resolution which had already been passed—namely, the 4th Resolution, to which the noble Marquess had just referred. The noble Marquess, in the slight reference he made to it, said that it concerned a matter of Procedure. That was quite true; but this Resolution dealt with a question of adjournment also, and having defined upon the question of Procedure in the 4th Resolution what they were to do, it ap- 1996 peared to him that this Resolution conflicted in a great measure with the Procedure which was laid down in Resolution number 4. As regarded the immediate Amendment before the House, which imported into the Resolution "the evident sense of the House at large," it appeared to him, whether these precise words were chosen or not—and there was good reason why they should be—that it was most desirable that the opinion of the House should be clearly and distinctly ascertained in reference to the question. The Speaker or Chairman had placed in his hands—granting always that there was the appeal, of which the noble Marquess had spoken—a very arbitrary power, and the remedy which the noble Marquess suggested was one which he took leave to remind the House was extremely deprecated by the Government in the early part of their discussions. The noble Marquess said that if, after all, the Speaker or the Chairman found that the opinion of the House differed from his own, then there would be an end of the matter. But the House was told in the early part of the debates that no Speaker or Chairman could bear having his decision challenged, and that it would be fatal to him to find that his view of the "evident sense of the House" was not sustained on a division. He hoped before the discussion on the Amendment closed that the House would have some further explanation from the Government than they had yet received. There was another thing which he should hardly have thought it necessary to call attention to, except for the purpose of elucidation. He thought that the "Question" referred to in the last line of the Resolution should be made perfectly clear. He trusted that the House would accept some Amendment in the sense of that which had been moved by his hon. and learned Friend.
§ MR. SYNAN
said, it appeared to him that the Amendment was altogether inconsistent, not with the 4th, but with the 2nd Resolution. The Amendment; as he understood it, required that the Speaker or Chairman should be of opinion that it was "the evident sense of the House" the Motion for Adjournment was made for the purpose of Obstruction; but, by the 2nd Resolution, 40 Members rising in their places to support a Motion for Adjournment would 1997 be sufficient to warrant such a Motion being proceeded with. Now, 40 Members rising in their places might not represent the "evident sense of the House;" and the Amendment, therefore, was inconsistent with, the 2nd Resolution. Then the question arose upon the Resolution itself whether the Speaker or Chairman should have power to put a stop to debate or to discussion, and order the House to divide at once, although there should be 40 Members prepared to support the Motion for Adjournment, and although a decision should be called on the 4th Rule. The Amendment would make the Resolution substantially an exception from the 2nd and 4th Rules, and the proposal of the hon. and learned Gentleman was altogether at variance with what had been decided by the 2nd Resolution.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
said, he could not see how any hon. Member could argue that this Resolution was in conflict with the 4th Resolution. The 4th Resolution said that after the House had been cleared for a division such and such, a course should be taken. How was it possible that this Resolution, which referred to the putting of the Question, could be in conflict with the Resolution, which applied only to the exercise of power when the House was cleared for a division. It appeared to him that that objection must fall to the ground, and that it could not be urged for a moment. This was a Resolution which was to be put in force, not when the House had been cleared for a division, but at a different stage of the proceedings. With regard to the remarks of the hon. Member for the County of Limerick (Mr. Synan), it did not seem to him that the Resolution was in conflict with Resolution No. 2, and for this reason—Resolution No. 2 spoke of a Motion for the adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance, and leave for the Motion to be proceeded with was only to be given on 40 Members rising in their places to support the Motion. Was it conceivable that in such a case the Speaker would, under the present Rule, declare that the Motion was made for the purpose of Obstruction? It appeared to him to be a totally different case, and this Resolution was not in any way in conflict with Resolution No. 2. In regard to the ob- 1998 jection that the House would be overruled by the Speaker in the matter, the observations of the Prime Minister showed that all the Speaker would do would be to refer the matter to the judgment of the House. All that was to take place was this. There was to be no debate until the House itself had voted whether the Motion was made for the purposes of Obstruction or not.
§ SIR R. ASSHETON CROSS
said, he did not think the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down had thrown much light upon the matter. There was one particular point upon which the House was anxious to hear some explanation from the Government. The Resolution proposed—That if Mr. Speaker, or the Chairman of a Committee of the whale House, shall he of opinion that a Motion for the Adjournment of a Debate, or of the House, during any Debate, or that the Chairman do report Progress, or do leave the Chair, is made for the purpose of obstruction, he may forthwith put the Question thereupon from the Chair.Now, the words that were proposed to be inserted in the Resolution were to the effect that Mr. Speaker should come to the conclusion that it was the "evident sense of the House at large" that the Motion was made for the purpose of Obstruction. The question he wanted to put to the Government and to the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down was this. Was the Speaker to put the Question unless he was convinced that it was the "evident sense of the House at large" that the Motion was made for the purpose of Obstruction, or was he not? Was the Speaker, before he put the Question forthwith, to be of opinion that the House at large had come to the conclusion that the Motion was made for the purpose of Obstruction. He concluded that Mr. Speaker, in acting upon these Rules, only represented the feeling of the House, and that his whole action was to be guided by the feeling of the House. The Amendment proposed exactly what he thought ought to guide the Speaker in his action—namely, that when he had come to the conclusion that it was the "evident sense of the House" that the Motion was made for the purpose of Obstruction, he would then act upon the Resolution, but not otherwise. If that were so, and the Speaker was really only to put the Rule in force when the 1999 House had come to a conclusion, and he was expressing the "evident sense of the House at large" that it was a Motion intended for purposes of Obstruction, what harm could be done by the insertion of these words? They could not expect the Speaker, if he was convinced that the Motion was not made for purposes of Obstruction, as the organ of the House, would ever put the Rule in force. He would only act because he was convinced that the House itself was of opinion that the Motion was made for purposes of Obstruction; and, therefore, he would never act under the Rule unless he thought that he was giving effect to the "evident sense of the House at large." He (Sir R. Assheton Cross) hoped that he had made himself clear upon that point. If he were correct, and that was the only case in which the Speaker could act, what possible harm could arise from adopting the Amendment? He would ask this plain question of the House—Did they believe that the Speaker would ever act on the Rule unless it was the "evident sense of the House at large?" The Speaker was the organ of the House. He only acted in this way as the Minister of the House, and unless he had arrived at a clear conclusion that it was the opinion of the House, he would never attempt to put the Resolution in force. Then, what objection could there be against putting these words into the Rule? The Question was to be decided without debate, and that made it all the more reasonable that the Speaker should only act when he thought it was the sense of the House that he should act; and if he could only act when it was the sense of the House that he ought to act, and the sense of the House meant that the Motion was made for the purposes of Obstruction, he could not imagine what harm the insertion of these words in the Resolution could do. If the House rejected these words, they must mean something by which the Rules were to be put in force without consulting the House in any form or shape, and without any kind of debate. If the "evident sense of the House" could only be shown by a vote, and if that vote was against the Speaker, it would be a great pity that the Speaker should have been drawn into a position in which he was liable to make a mistake.
§ MR. BRYCE
said, the right hon. Gentleman had asked what harm could be done by putting in these words. He (Mr. Bryce) would ask, on the other hand, what good would their insertion do? He could only conceive one object that could be gained, and that was that as soon as these words were inserted in the Resolution, the right hon. Gentleman, or the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Gorst), would be able to rise and say that if the Speaker were the exponent of the "evident sense of the House," there ought to be an appeal to the House to express its evident sense. The result of that would be another Motion. That would be the natural corollary of adopting the Amendment of the hon. and learned Gentleman. He, therefore, submitted that there were good reasons why the House should not adopt the Amendment. The reason why, in the 1st Resolution, it was provided that the Speaker or Chairman should act only when he believed it was the "evident sense of the House" was because they ascribed to the Speaker or Chairman, and to the House at large, the possession of the same common sense, and it was believed that naturally and necessarily the opinion of the House would coincide with that of the Speaker and Chairman. In regard to the remarks which had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ripon (Mr. Goschen), having reference to the 2nd Resolution, this Resolution applied only to what took place during a debate; whereas the 2nd Resolution referred to what took place immediately after the Questions on the Notice Paper had been disposed of, and before the Orders of the Day were reached, so that there was no possibility of a collision between the two.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
remarked that Amendments moved by right hon. Gentlemen opposite were seldom moved without having some elements of harm in them; and he thought it was very clear that there was something more than met the eye in the Amendment of the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Mr. Gorst). He (Mr. Labouchere) disliked very much the words "at large." They had already had an explanation of what they meant from the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Whitehaven (Mr. Cavendish Bentinck). 2001 The right hon. and learned Gentleman explained to them that if there 40 Members in the House, and 33 were against a Motion for Adjournment and seven in its favour, by this Amendment the Speaker would not be able to say that the Motion, although supported only by seven Members, was intended for purposes of Obstruction. That was to say that the "evident sense of the House at large" did not mean 33Members against seven. That was the outcome of the right hon. and learned Gentleman's speech, and according to the "evident sense of the House at large" the seven were to set aside the wishes of the 33. Now, as he understood the Resolution, it was the majority who were to decide whether a small minority were to go on moving adjournments. Hon. Gentlemen opposite seemed to complain that the "evident sense of the House" did not mean the sense of the majority of the House, but of a very small minority. He hoped, therefore, that the Government would distinctly say that they did not intend to consent to the insertion of these pernicious Amendments.
§ MR. WARTON
said, the Prime Minister had criticized the language of the Amendment and wished to excise there-from the words "at large." No doubt those words were very disagreeable to the Prime Minister, because when a declaration was made by the Speaker the other day as to the light in which he regarded them, that declaration came like a thunderclap upon the Liberal Party opposite, who had put a far more illiberal construction upon the term "evident sense of the House." The Speaker, however, had ruled upon the 1st Resolution that, in his opinion, the "evident sense of the House" meant the "evident sense of the House at large," and he regretted very much that those words had not been incorporated in the 1st Resolution. But taking it upon the ruling of the Speaker that the "evident sense of the House" was the "evident sense of the House at large," there could be no objection to including in the Resolution the words in the Amendment. Let them consider what the actual position of the House was now according to the Resolutions they had already passed. There were two Rules before the present one which contained words exactly similar—namely, the Rule in regard to Mo- 2002 tions on adjournment of debate and upon divisions. By putting those two Resolutions together the House might get some kind of notion as to how completely the liberties of the House were to be abridged by these Resolutions. He would give an instance. Suppose a minority of that House had a very good case indeed—suppose that they had a case about which they felt as conscientious as the Prime Minister felt when he opposed the Divorce Bill—and that they were anxious to bring their views before the House, what could they do? First of all, if they moved the adjournment of the debate, they could say little or nothing upon it; because their mouths were almost shut by the language of the 3rd Resolution, and they had had an example before them only a few days ago, when the hon. Member for Swansea (Mr. Dillwyn) ventured to sit upon the right hon. and learned Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Gibson), when the right hon. and learned Gentleman was trying, as well as he could, within the terms of the Resolution, to give a reason why the debate should be adjourned. Upon that occasion the right hon. and learned Gentleman felt himself completely suppressed by the Rule, and he found himself unable to give adequate reasons in support of the proposal on account of the stringency of that Rule and the tightness with which it was tied round his neck. Therefore, in future, an hon. Member would not be allowed to say what his reasons were, and the Government now refused to accept even the moderate Amendment to the Resolution proposed by the hon. and learned Member for Chatham (Mr. Gorst). The Prime Minister clearly laid it down that in future nothing should be said in support of Motions for Adjournment. Then, what was the next step? The next step was supplied by the present Resolution, which declared that if the Speaker or Chairman was of opinion that a Motion was made for the purpose of Obstruction, not wilful or persistent Obstruction, but simple Obstruction, then he was authorized to put the Question at once. Now, he (Mr. Warton) thought there was not much chance of the Speaker coming to this conclusion; but, on the other hand, he thought there was a very great chance of the Chairman of Committees doing so—a very great chance indeed. ["Oh!"] 2003 He (Mr. Warton) intended to speak the truth, and to speak his mind while he could; and he firmly believed that the Chairman of Committees was not a fit and proper person to determine the question of Obstruction. He did not think it would be well to leave to the Chairman of Committees the determination whether a Motion was made for the purpose of Obstruction or not. That was the second point. In the next place, when the Question was put the 4th Resolution would come in, and they were not to have a division upon it unless 20 Members of a House of 40 Members or upwards happened to rise in support of it. Those three steps were established. The Prime Minister said it would depend upon the vote of the majority, and that the House would know whether a Motion was made for the purpose of Obstruction or not. Let them see how that would act. The House would pardon him if he referred to an important incident which occurred during the present Parliament. He should never forget, and he thought the Tory Party would never forget, what happened on that very Bill which they had been discussing that evening—the Arrears of Rent Bill. It was read for the first time on a Friday, and only distributed amongst Members on the Saturday morning. It was then hurried on to a second reading on the Monday, and they were told that the matter had been adequately discussed, and that they ought to come to a decision upon it; and when they repeated one Motion for Adjournment after another they were characterized as Obstructives. One Member no less respectable than the hon. Member for Bedford (Mr. Whit-bread) said it was their duty to yield to the overwhelming majority of about 200 against 140. He was perfectly certain that with such a precedent the Chairman of Committees would put the Rule in force against any minority, if its action was calculated in the slightest degree to interfere with the views of the Government. It appeared perfectly clear to him that the Government, having already obtained the 3rd and 4th Resolutions—for the 2nd had really nothing to do with the question—they had obtained power enough, and it was not necessary that they should obtain more. Already they had placed hon. Members in this position—that they were unable to give any reason at all for moving a Motion for Adjournment; and 2004 it was now proposed to give additional powers to the Chairman of Committees to put the Question at once from the Chair, without even requiring him to ascertain if it was the "evident sense of the House" that a Motion was made for purposes of Obstruction.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
said, he had no wish to follow up the arguments of the hon. and learned Member who had just spoken (Mr. Warton). He only wished to say that as the Speaker had declared that he would only act upon the opinion of the House at large, the right hon. Gentleman's reading of his duty should be recorded for the guidance of future occupants of the Chair. The Prime Minister was present at the time the Speaker gave that memorable assurance to the House as to his interpretation of the Rule, and he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would take some steps to have it duly recorded. It must be remembered that they were not legislating for the present Speaker only. They had perfect confidence in his discretion and in the manner in which he had ever conducted the Business of the House; but they were legislating for others, and, by urging the introduction of the Speaker's declarations into the Records of the House, they hoped to secure in his Successors the equity which he had always manifested. What they had most to avoid in these matters was the abuse of Party feeling. The First Lord of the Treasury had expressed a wish that these Resolutions might be considered apart from Party feeling. He (Mr. Newdegate) had from the first be considered them; and he said that the great security for the just and sound action of the House lay in this—that its Procedure should not be determined by the will of one Party, but by the decision of both Parties—by men on both sides of the House expressing the determination of that House of Parliament.
§ MR. GREGORY
said, he wished to point out that there must evidently be an alteration of the Amendment proposed by his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Chatham (Mr. Gorst), because it would not apply as it stood at present to the Chairman of Committees. Probably it had been framed with a view to the Chairman of Committees being omitted from the Resolution altogether. It said, "the evident sense of the House at large," and it would not, 2005 therefore, apply to Committees; and it would be necessary to amend the Amendment by inserting after the word "House," "or of the Committee, as the case may be." He thought it would be better to omit the words "at large" altogether, and to say, "the evident sense of the House or of the Committee, as the case may be." He thought the House should have a voice in the matter, and the only question was, how that voice should be ascertained. It was considered, on the other hand, that, on a Question being put from the Chair, there would be an occasion for expressing the sense of the House. He confessed that he thought there ought to be some indication of the sense of the House before the Question was put from the Chair; but, personally, he should prefer an Amendment to be proposed subsequently by the hon. and learned Member for Chatham (Mr. Gorst), which contemplated that the sense of the House should be taken by a division before the Question was put for stopping the Motion for Adjournment. That would be a more proper way of proceeding than leaving the decision of the Question to the opinion of the Speaker or Chairman, as the case might be. In his view that would not carry the matter very much further than the Resolution itself. The point to decide was, whether the Motion was made for purposes of Obstruction, or whether, in the "evident sense of the House," it was made for purposes of Obstruction; and, by taking a division as to whether it was obstructive or not, they would practically ascertain the feeling of the House. That would be the proper way of meeting the question. As regarded the Amendment itself, he would venture to move the omission of the words "at large," and the insertion of the words "or of the Committee, as the case may be."
§ MR. SPEAKER
Do I understand that the hon. Member moves that as an Amendment to the Amendment?
§ MR. GREGORY
Yes; I will move that Amendment.
Amendment proposed to the said proposed Amendment,
To leave out the words "at large," and insert the words "or of the Committee, as the case may be,"—(Mr. Gregory,)
§ Question proposed, "That the words 'at large' stand part of the said proposed Amendment."
§ MR. J. LOWTHER
said, he thought that the proposal of his hon. Friend the Member for East Sussex (Mr. Gregory) was an improvement on the original Amendment. It supplied an obvious omission. That the Amendment which stood in the name of the noble Lord the Member for Woodstock (Lord Randolph Churchill) did not refer to the Chairman of Committees was attributable, he assumed, to the fact that the noble Lord proposed to eliminate that official altogether from the operation of the Rule; but he presumed that, as the House had decided otherwise, there would be no objection to the insertion of the words proposed by the hon. Member. Although he quite sympathized with the J object of his hon. and learned Friend the Member for Chatham (Mr. Gorst) in inserting in his Amendment the words "at large," yet, having regard to the fact that the House, at the invitation of the Government, omitted them in the 1st Rule, it would, to some extent, militate against the Rule they on that side of the House took with regard to that far more important Rule to insert them now. He thought the decision of the Speaker, which carried with it, he thought he might venture to say, the feeling of the great mass of the House of Commons, would be, to a great extent, undermined if words were put into the present Amendment which ran counter to the declaration which the right hon. Gentleman had already made.
said, he should be happy to accept the Amendment moved by his hon. Friend the Member for East Sussex (Mr. Gregory). The Amendment he (Mr. Gorst) had moved was based on the idea that the Chairman of Committees would be eliminated from the Resolution, and it had not been included in the Amendment from mere inadvertence.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ Words added.
§ Question proposed, "That the words 'that it is the evident sense of the House and the Committee, as the case may be,' be there inserted."
§ MR. WARTON
objected to the words "as the case may be." They were not 2007 inserted anywhere else, and did not agree with the 1st Resolution, which said, "the evident sense of the House or of the Committee." He would therefore suggest that the Amendment to the Amendment should be amended by omitting the words "as the case may be."
§ MR. DODSON
said, he only wished to explain to the House that the Government still remained of opinion that it would be better to keep the Rule in the form in which it stood, and which was the form in which it was framed by Mr. Speaker himself as part of the Urgency Procedure.
§ LORD JOHN MANNERS
said, the remark which had been made by the President of the Local Government Board was an additional reason why they ought to accept the Amendment. Were the House to understand that they were to be permanently under the Rules of Urgency? He did not think the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman that the Amendment should be rejected because it was not to be found in the Rules of Urgency was entitled to much weight.
§ MR. DODSON
said, he hoped the noble Lord would allow him to explain. When he spoke of leaving the Rule in the form of words as it stood in the Urgency Procedure, he was speaking strictly to the Amendment before the House, and not to the Resolution as a whole.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 37; Noes 103: Majority 66.—(Div. List, No. 394.)
said, he hoped the Government would consent to some modification of the words "for the purpose of obstruction;" and with the object of effecting this he would move the Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for Portsmouth (Sir H. Drummond Wolff).
In line 4, to leave out the words "made for the purpose of obstruction," and insert the words "an abuse of the Rules of the House."—(Mr. Gorst.)
§ Amendment agreed to.
said, the Amendment he was about to move had been, to a 2008 great extent, discussed in connection with former Amendments. The proposal was, although the House had decided that the Presiding Officer should take the initiative, that he should not put the Question without having first obtained the sanction of the House or of the Committee. This was quite in accordance with the 1st Resolution, under which, although the Speaker or Chairman might come to the conclusion that the debate ought to terminate, he did not put an end to it before getting the sanction of the Committee or of the House to the conclusion at which he had arrived. It seemed an entirely new principle to introduce into the Procedure of the House that the Presiding Officer should interfere with the proceedings of the House on his own mere motion. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister had referred, in the course of a discussion which took place some time ago, to the power given to the Presiding Officer under Rule 5, where action was taken without the concurrence or support of the House. But it must be remembered that, under the Resolution referred to, the Presiding Officer only silenced a Member—he did not take the proceedings of the House out of the hands of the House itself—whereas in the present Resolution it was proposed that the Presiding Officer should have the strange power of controlling the Business of the House or the Committee, without obtaining the sanction of either. The right hon. Gentleman's argument with reference to Resolution 5 was, therefore, inapplicable to the present proposal; and for the reasons given he begged to move the Amendment standing in his name, with the object of providing that when the Speaker or the Chairman had come to the conclusion that a Motion was made in abuse of the Rules of the House he should then ask for the sanction of the House or Committee before taking upon himself to stop the debate.
At the end of the foregoing Amendment, to insert the words "he may so inform the House, and if a Motion be made 'That the Question be now put,' he shall forthwith put such Question, and if the same be decided in the affirmative."—(Mr. Gorst.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."2009
said, the House had already decided against the principle of the Amendment as applicable to that part of the Resolution which had been passed; the hon. and learned Gentleman, however, held with tenacity to the remainder. He had truly said, referring to Resolution 5, that there the interference of the Speaker or Chairman was for the purpose of silencing an individual Member without asking the sanction of the House or the Committee; but here the contention of the Government was that the intervention of the Presiding Officers of the House would be finally decided upon by the division which followed. Again, the adoption of the Amendment now proposed would have the effect of exposing the House to the delay of two divisions instead of one. For these reasons Her Majesty's Government could not adopt the Amendment.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ MR. CAVENDISH BENTINCK
said, he was about to move that the Rule should not apply to any Motion for Adjournment made after half-past 12 o'clock. His proposal would only take effect when a considerable number of Members deemed themselves entitled to avail themselves of the Forms of the House to prevent any Motions or Bills being passed at an hour when the House was not in a position to discuss them properly. He trusted the right hon. Gentleman would accept the principle of the Amendment, even if he substituted another hour for that specified.
At the end of the Question, to add the words "Provided, That this Rule shall not apply to any Motion of Adjournment which may he made after half-past Twelve at night."—(Mr. Cavendish Bentinck.)
§ Question, "That those words be there added," put, and negatived.
§ Main Question, as amended, again proposed.
said, he rose to move the rejection of the Resolution, which he regarded as the most unsatisfactory of all the Government proposals in connection with the Procedure of the House, inasmuch as it placed the character of every Member of the House, so to speak, in the hands of the occupant of the Chair. He considered it 2010 very objectionable that the Gentleman who happened to be presiding in Committee of the Whole House, for instance, should, on his own Motion, decide that an hon. Member was an Obstructionist, and that without hearing an explanation of the views or motives of the Member in question. In the other Resolutions it was laid down that the Speaker or the Chairman should do no more than Name a Member, and call the attention of the House to the question as to whether he had been guilty or not of obstructing the Business of the House; but here the Presiding Officer, who after all was but a Member of the House, was to decide at once, in so many words, that a Member was abusing the Rules; and this, he contended, was too large a power to place in his hands. As long as he was a Member of that House he should strongly object to any other Member being placed in a position to rule him an Obstructionist against his knowledge to the contrary. Yet that was what the Resolution meant, and he was sure that if the same attention were given to it as had been bestowed upon the previous Resolutions, hon. Members would agree that this view was correct.
§ MR. WARTON
said, he was rather surprised that hon. Members did not perceive what was the real force of this Resolution. After having been discussing the question of clôture for two or three weeks—clôture by the "evident sense of the House"—they were now passing a clôture of the worst description—a elôture without the "evident sense of the House."
§ MR. SCLATER-BOOTH
said, at the risk of incurring the censure of the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Hartington), he must repeat his opinion that the Government, in this Resolution, seemed to be adopting an unnecessary second process for arriving at the result already achieved by Resolution 4. Anyone who had witnessed the scenes which had occurred when alternative Motions for the adjournment of the House and of the debate had been made knew that they would have been stopped absolutely by the power now given to the Speaker of calling upon Members to rise in their places. The Government having adopted that mode of procedure, there was no need for this much more 2011 offensive process. It seemed to him to be entirely inconsistent with what had taken place in former debates; but he should say no more than that if his hon. and gallant Friend went to a division he should vote with him.
§ Main Question, as amended, put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 82; Noes 26: Majority 56.—(Div. List, No. 395.)
§ (10.) Resolved, That if Mr. Speaker, or the Chairman of a Committee of the whole House, 2012 shall be of opinion that a Motion for the Adjournment of a Debate, or of the House, during any Debate, or that the Chairman do report Progress, or do leave the Chair, is an abuse of the Rules of the House, he may forthwith put the Question thereupon from the Chair.
§ Further Consideration of the New Rules of Procedure deferred till To-morrow.
§ House adjourned at a quarter before One o'clock.