HC Deb 24 October 1882 vol 274 cc45-69

Sir, the Motion which I am now about to make has been in the possession of the House during the whole period since we last assem- bled; and I think that when the plan of the Government was generally glanced at in connection with the question whether it would be best to proceed by Prorogation or by Adjournment, it was felt that if we were to have a meeting in the Autumn at all, that meeting ought, generally speaking and apart from exceptions which might be absolutely necessary and altogether of a peculiar character, to be devoted to the purpose of Procedure alone. The position of the House would be perfectly intolerable if they were to be asked now, at the close of October, to enter upon a general renewal of the Session with the chance of giving two days a-week—the portion of time at the command of the Government—to Procedure, and of debating all other subjects on the other three days of the week. The House, I think, will not expect me to enter on a general argument in support of that proposition. We shall support it if it is contested; but I think it is not too much to say that the House has gathered together to-day with the full understanding and the full intention that this Autumn Session shall be devoted to the consideration of the subject of Procedure, to the exclusion of general Business. That being so, I do not know that it is necessary for me to say more than to remind the House, in the first instance, of the general position in which the Government stand in regard to this subject, and then to state how we propose to proceed on one or two points that were left open at the time when we were last in Session. A complaint has been made that Government Business was going to be proceeded with in the House, and it is quite true that this Business has come to be Government Business. But I think it is not too much to say that it has not come to be Government Business by the arbitrary will and pleasure of the Government, but by the absolute and clear necessity of the case, and with the view simply to the advantage of the House in the discharge of its duties. If even now it were possible for the House to adjust a machinery by which the whole subject and responsibility of Procedure should be taken from the shoulders of the Government and resumed by the House itself, such a proceeding would be in the highest degree advantageous to the Government, and, as far as one at least of the Government is concerned, it would be profoundly acceptable to him who now acts on the part of the Government. But it was generally admitted last year that the efforts of the House to adjust this matter by a conference of Members themselves in a long series of Committees had been futile and ineffectual, and that it remained to be considered whether, by putting into operation that degree of influence which the House is always inclined for the public interest to accord to the Government of the day, it might be possible to put the question into a channel which would be more likely to lead to a successful issue. That is the way in which this has come to be the Business of the Government; but although it is the Business of the Government in this sense, that it is their duty to prosecute it with all their power, it was originally the Business of the House; and it is the House itself, for its own honour and on its own responsibility in the face of the nation, which must finally decide this matter. We shall press our propositions, and, having done what we can to bring them into the best form, we shall press them by every argument we can use upon the House. But we recognize that the authority of the House, and that the responsibility, the honour, and the character of the House are the things which are principally involved in this matter, even more than the responsibility or the honour and character of the Government. That being the position in which we stand in regard to this subject, and with the intention to devote ourselves, to the best of our ability, towards prosecuting it, I will refer now to one or two matters which fall within the scope of the Question put to me a few minutes ago by the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. Joseph Cowen). The House is engaged in the discussion of the 1st Resolution, and to that 1st Re-solution in its main proposition we undoubtedly intend to adhere. That was the declaration with which we bade farewell to the subject in the last Sitting, and it is the declaration which I repeat, without dwelling on it any further at the present moment, as the ground of our proceedings. I mention it now simply to give information, and not to recommend this or that mode of proceeding. But there may arise some points of the Resolution as to which we may reserve our liberty. We have con- sidered the whole matter with, care; we do not see how it can be improved; and to its main propositions we undoubtedly intend to adhere. With regard to the 2nd Resolution, it is a question of importance, and, in one sense, of delicacy. The Resolution runs thus— That no Motion for the Adjournment of the House shall he made, except by leave of the House, before the Orders of the Day, or Notices of Motions have been entered upon. And, speaking generally, I think it is admitted that this is not merely a question of the removal of an evil, but I should not use language too strong for the occasion if I said it was the abatement of a nuisance. However, it is to be borne in mind that there may be particular occasions when such a Motion for Adjournment, in general so unacceptable, would be reasonable and proper; and though it may fairly be said that it is not wise to leave it to every single Member of the House in the exercise of his own discretion, yet it would not be wise to exclude the consideration of those occasions. What, therefore, we are disposed to admit is this—that it may be right on certain occasions to provide a machinery which shall have the effect of referring it to the judgment of the House whether there shall be an Adjournment or not. But we think that it ought to be subject to these several conditions:—It ought not to be done until the Questions have been brought to a close; it ought not to be done excepting upon the desire of an adequate number of Members; it ought not to rest with every Member to give the House the trouble of a division on such a subject. And I am inclined to hope that if the words which we shall propose are found to be adequate to give effect to the ideas that I have just expressed, the matter of this Resolution may be rather readily disposed of. I would just read the words as we intend to propose them in lieu of the words which have until to-day stood on the Notice Paper. Our No. 2 Rule would run thus— That no Motion for the Adjournment of the House shall be made before the Orders of the Day, or Notices of Motions have been entered upon, except by leave of the House. That substantially agrees with the Resolution as it stands at present. Then I go on with these words— The granting of such leave, if disputed, being determined upon Question put forthwith; but no decision shall be taken thereupon unless demanded by forty Members rising in their places, nor until after the Questions on the Notice Paper have been disposed of. One thing I ought to have mentioned at the outset, and that is an Amendment which we propose to introduce into the 1st Resolution. It is substantially the Amendment proposed by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Sunderland (Mr. Storey); but we make an alteration in the terms of that Amendment, the reasons for which I will explain in a moment. The hon. Member proposes to leave out, in line 2, the words "to be," and to insert "until the subject has been fully discussed." It is meant to lay down the principle, to which we entirely accede, that the power given by the Resolution shall never be put into operation till after adequate discussion; but we propose to alter the word "fully" to the word "adequately." Our reason is that a Motion may be made which contains extremely important matter, but which is totally irrelevant to the subject before the House, and ought, therefore, to be put aside without "full" discussion. I remember a case which confirms us in this view. It was in the days of Mr. Feilden, the Member for Oldham. Mr. Feilden, I recollect, had benevolent but somewhat obstinate sentiments with respect to the Poor Laws, and he once made a Motion on that subject, and introduced most important matter; but he made it on a question in which Lord John Russell was concerned, and Lord John Russell vigorously protested against the discussion of Mr. Feilden's Motion; and, indeed, there could be no reason at the time why the matter of that Motion should be fully discussed. With that view, and believing that the word "adequately" is quite capable of conveying the sentiment in which the House will generally concur, we propose, with the alteration I have mentioned, to adopt the Amendment of the hon. Member for Sunderland. It has been felt very generally in the House that, while restrictive Rules are in many cases required for the better regulation of our proceedings, there is a great want of liberal and relaxing Rules, especially in relation to what is known as the Half-past 12 o'clock Rule, which at present operates with extreme stringency, and that at the discretion of every and any Member of the House. Now, there are various questions that may be raised with regard to this Rule. An hon. Baronet on the opposite side of the House has given Notice of important Amendments to our Resolution, some of which may deserve the consideration of the House; but as regards the substance of the Rule itself, we propose to introduce an Amendment which will have the effect of exempting from the operation of the Rule two very important classes of Business—Motions for leave to bring in Bills; and, in the second, Bills that have passed through Committee. Therefore, the 8th Resolution, according to the proposal we make, will stand thus— To amend the Standing Order of the 18th February, 1879, and 9th May, 1882, by inserting, after 'Standing Order,' in line 10, the following words:—'Motions for leave to bring in Bills, and Bills which have passed through Committee.' The House is aware that before the Sittings of August ceased I temporarily withdrew the Resolution relating to Committee of Supply. We have always contended that it was impossible to bring about any great change in the Procedure of the House by penal and restrictive Rules; and that if the House was to bring itself to the level of the demands made upon it, it must be by changes of another character, such as the revival of the Monday Rule about Supply, and the delegation of the powers of the House in Committee to what are called Standing Committees. As regards that delegation of the powers of the House, we think it is impossible at the present time to do more than to make an experiment of it in matters which will be quite safe, but which will enable the House to judge how far the experiment is satisfactory, and what progress can be made in that direction. As regards Supply, I withdrew the Resolution originally on the Paper, and intimated that we would endeavour to devise something of a more effective character. We have considered with much pains various methods by which this end might be gained. There have been plans suggested at times for divesting the House of the whole detail of Supply; but we are anxious that, while our proposal should have the promise of being effective, it should not innovate more than cannot be avoided upon the established usages of the House. Under these established usages, Friday, which was originally a Government night, has become a Members' night. It has become a Members' night with very few and insignificant exceptions; but it is desirable the House should bear in mind that Friday used, in the regular course of the House of Commons, when Business was far less urgent than it is now, and when less Business was initiated by Ministers, to belong to the Government. And when the present Regulation was made that Friday should be a night of Committee of Supply, it was contemplated and expected and intended that a large portion of that night should be available for Government Business. In the year 1866 we had great difficulties, as the Government of that day, in finding time enough for the discussion of the Reform Bill, and by that time Friday was threatening to slip out of the hands of the Government altogether. I was at that time the Leader of the Government in the House, and I argued that the Government was then almost reduced to two nights a-week; and Lord Derby, who replied on the part of the Opposition, pointed out that Friday was intended, subject to deductions in consequence of Motions on going into Committee of Supply, for the Government service; and he protested against my saying that we had only two nights a-week, because then the Government kept a sensible, if not a very large, portion of Friday night, which it has since entirely lost. Now, we do not propose to make any change as regards Friday, or Wednesday, or Tuesday, though we reserve it to ourselves, if necessary, to ask the House to consider whether, at an earlier period than has sometimes been chosen for the purpose, it shall begin 2 o'clock Sittings on Tuesdays specially, and perhaps only, in order to obtain Supply. Subject, then, to the conditions I have stated, we shall ask the House to enlarge the Monday Rule, and to extend it to other days on which Government Orders have precedence, providing, however, that Members shall have power to bring forward relevant Motions upon the three great classes of the Estimates. The enlargement we propose to make in that power of Members is, that it shall apply, not only to the three classes of the Estimates, but likewise to Votes of Credit, specified as such. It is quite plain that there is no description of proposal which a Government can make to the House which more usually involves large questions of policy than those Votes of Credit. In 1860 we proposed a Vote of £3,500,000 for the China War, which involved some considerable questions of policy. In 1870 we proposed a Vote of Credit of £2,000,000, which involved much larger questions of policy with regard to Treaties which Her Majesty had been advised to make with Germany and France for the security of Belgium. In 1878 a Vote of Credit was proposed by the late Government, which likewise involved very large questions of policy; and, undoubtedly, the Vote of Credit we ourselves proposed this year with regard to Egypt was the most natural occasion that could possibly be desired or suggested for raising, not only questions relating to the conduct of the Government in the Egyptian proceedings, but questions vitally affecting them in regard to the measures they might have taken. Therefore, we propose to give Members the power to raise discussions upon Votes of Credit as well as on the three great branches of the ordinary Service. Our proposal will, therefore, stand thus— That, whenever the Committee of Supply stands as the first Order of the Day on any day, except Friday evening, on which Government Orders have precedence, Mr. Speaker shall leave the Chair without putting any Question, unless on first going into Supply on the Army, Navy, or Civil Service Estimates respectively, or on any Vote of Credit, an Amendment be moved, or Question raised, relating to the Estimates proposed to be taken in Supply. If we were about to proceed to the discussion of these Resolutions to-night, it would be proper to go into them more fully; but as the House will see them in print to-morrow, and will have ample time for their consideration before coming to a vote, I will not detain the House any longer.


What about the Rules with regard to General Committees?


They stand as at present. I beg to move the Resolution of which I have given Notice.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Consideration of the New Rules of Procedure have precedence of all Orders of the Day and Notices of Motions on every day for which they may be set down."—(Mr. Gladstone.)


Sir, as far as regards the statement just made to the House, we have to thank the right hon. Gentleman for having placed very clearly before us the view which the Government take, generally speaking, with respect to these Resolutions. But, while I regret that the right hon. Gentleman has not thought it right to propose any modification in the 1st Rule, which is now under discussion, and which is the one upon which there is a great deal of feeling, I take some comfort from what I thought I heard fall from the right hon. Gentleman in the opening part of his observations, when I understood him to say that, although, the Government would not make any alteration in the Rule as they proposed it, and were prepared to support it in the form in which it stands on the Paper, yet they considered the matter as one on which the House would have to pronounce its opinion; and I gathered from the right hon. Gentleman that it would be free to all Members, of whatever Party or section of the House, to exercise an independent judgment upon the Amendments which might be brought before them on the Rule. My feeling with regard to clôture is, I must honestly confess, the same as it has always been. I object to it on principle as an unnecessary and inconvenient Rule. But if the majority of the House be determined to adopt that principle, at all events it will be a matter for consideration what limitations should be accepted; and I trust we shall be allowed to obtain the free opinion of the House upon the Amendments which shall be submitted, and especially upon the Amendment of my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for the University of Dublin (Mr. Gibson). With regard to some of the other Resolutions, the right hon. Gentleman says very fairly that he cannot expect the House to pronounce an opinion upon them without seeing them in print. I would, therefore, urge upon the House that it is quite necessary that it should not commit itself, in one way or another, until we have had time for considering the Resolutions very carefully. No doubt, the words must be scrutinized, and I quite understand that that is the spirit in which they are pro- posed. But I must raise a question which I think the House is bound to ask. It is perfectly true that we have been called together on the present occasion for the purpose of considering the Resolutions and doing a particular class of Business. But it is impossible for us not to see, now that we are assembled, and have upon us the general conduct of Parliamentary Business, that it must be our duty to question the Government upon some very important matters which I do not desire to force inconveniently upon the notice of the House, but which I am obliged to mention now, because we are asked to vote upon Resolutions the effect of which would be to give the Government the entire command of the time of the House during the Session—the Government putting down their Resolutions every day they pleased, and, therefore, obtaining the absolute right of shutting out every other question whatever. If that be not done so strictly as to shut out the Government themselves from proposing a Vote of Thanks to the Army for its conduct in Egypt, so much the better. The House will receive with pleasure any Motion which Her Majesty's Government may make on that subject in a few days. But, if what I have said be the case, it is our duty to consider whether there are not other questions which it will be our duty to discuss. Without raising prematurely a discussion on controversial matters, I am now about to ask the Government, and to press them to give us a satisfactory answer to the question, whether they do intend, before the House rises for the Prorogation, to give us an opportunity of discussing the questions connected with the recent Expedition to Egypt? Of course, the Government may say that there are some questions which, of course, we cannot discuss; but we want to know—first, whether there are Papers to be presented, and, if so, to what date they will come down? Next, we are anxious to be informed as to the general character of the policy which Her Majesty's Government are now pursuing, because that is a matter upon which we are very greatly in the dark—we want to know what is the policy which they think this country should adopt with regard to Egypt—whether we are to continue our armed occupation of that country, and, if so, what is to be the nature of that occupation, and what responsibilities we assume with regard to it? We want to know, also, how far these questions have been made a subject of discussion with other Governments, and what, in the judgment of Her Majesty's Government, is likely to be the outcome of the operations into which we have entered. There is another class of questions upon which we have a more intimate right to demand information from the Government, and not only information, but something still more definite—I mean with regard to the expense. There can be no reason for reticence upon such a matter. Whatever questions may arise with regard to foreign relations, there can be no doubt that much expense has been incurred. We want to know whether it is covered by the Vote of Credit taken a few months ago; and, if it is not, whether it is the intention of the Government to submit further Estimates, and, if so, whether that will be done in the course of the present Session? Looking at this matter from the point of view from which we have been taught to look at it by the right hon. Gentleman, we must feel that this is one of those cases in which the expense of the war, so far as it can be estimated, ought to be provided for within the current financial year. We want to know whether that expenditure is to be defrayed by Vote of Parliament, or wholly or in part in any other manner. All sorts of rumours have been spread abroad on that matter. We know that to some extent the cost of the Expedition is to be charged upon the finances of India. But we do not know to what extent. It is now time for us to get some information on that point. A statement was made by the noble Marquess opposite (the Marquess of Hartington) before we adjourned with regard to the sum which, somewhat to his surprise and dismay, he found was likely to be required. But I am misinformed if the amount then spoken of has not been largely exceeded. I wish to know whether it is intended to increase the charge upon the Indian Exchequer; and, if so, whether the House will be consulted upon the point before it rises? Again, with regard to other rumours which are afloat, I think we ought to have some assurance as to the idea which has been put forward that a portion, perhaps a large portion, of the expenditure is to be thrown upon Egypt itself. That is a matter of a very serious character, as to which we have a right to ask for information. Now, I mention these questions, not in any captious spirit, or with a view of interposing delay in the way of proceeding with the Business; but I put them because we are now asked to give up the whole of our time at the demand of the Government. If we give that to the Government, and if they do not give us an opportunity of discussing these matters, we shall be absolutely powerless, and absolutely at their mercy. I think, therefore, we not only have a right, but it is our duty, to put these questions to them, and press for an answer before we come to vote on the proposals which the right hon. Gentleman has now submitted.


Sir, I cannot complain of what has been stated by the right hon. Gentleman, and I will give him the best answers in my power; but one part of the subject to which he alludes involves questions of great delicacy and difficulty. That is the part which refers to the details of the policy to be pursued in Egypt. The first question of the right hon. Gentleman referred to the presentation of Papers. Well, Papers are to be presented tomorrow coming down to the close of the Sitting in August, and in the course of four or five days further Papers will be distributed coming down to a late date in September, so that the information in the possession of the House will be very much enlarged. Even if it were possible to overcome the formal difficulties which attend the presentation of Papers, I am not aware that we could go much further than that, viewing the nature of the subject-matter of the documents. The next question is that of the policy to be pursued in Egypt. Of course, that subject raises a group of most complex and intricate considerations. We have again before us questions relating to all the parties whose number and whose varied positions with regard to one another rendered the earlier stages of this subject so exceedingly difficult. No doubt, the position is now changed in the very important respect that the matter lies more in the hands of this country, and that the Government of the Queen is not fettered in the extreme degree and manner in which it was fettered six months ago by the engagements which it found existing, and by the relations in which the various parties stood to the question in Egypt. Still they are matters of very great delicacy and difficulty, and upon this part of the subject I cannot hold out any expectation that it is likely that we can lay down systematically any scheme for the approval of the House during the few weeks that are likely to fall within the scope of the questions which have brought us together. Our declarations must be very reserved. But the right hon. Gentleman may say—"It is quite possible, from the course which matters appear to be taking, that there may be a disposition to attack the Egyptian policy of the Government." Now, I say at once, should that be the case, that would constitute an exception, and we should think it right to make arrangements which would enable any matter of that kind to be brought to an issue. The time during which these questions have been under consideration is, after all, a very limited time, and the intrinsic difficulty of some of them is extreme. Notwithstanding that, I am not prepared to shut out that view of the case to which I have alluded, if it is taken by the right hon. Gentleman. He may reply to me—"Yes; your declarations must, undoubtedly, be bounded by your sense of public duty; but do not, therefore, require the whole House to be silent." I would reply that that is a contention which we should desire to consider in a spirit of equity. I can give the right hon. Gentleman one assurance, which, perhaps, he may think of more practical value than attaches to anything which I have yet said. The right hon. Gentleman adverted to the shape which matters might assume—that we might apply ourselves resolutely, as I trust we shall, to deal with the question of Procedure, and that after Procedure would come the Prorogation; and the right hon. Gentleman said—"Are you prepared to say that no time is to be allowed before the Prorogation for discussing a subject of this kind?" Now, undoubtedly, nothing that we have said with regard to our general desire to proceed effectively with Procedure, or to confine these Sittings to Procedure, would preclude any reasonable proposal for discussion after we have got through the bulk of our work with Procedure, and before the actual Prorogation. Therefore, I certainly hope that practical in- convenience will not be experienced upon this subject by Gentlemen who take a natural and great interest in it. We must endeavour to proceed in consonance with the general sense of the House. Undoubtedly, we are not disposed to view the expression of opinion on a subject of that kind in the light of Party only, and equity should govern the proceedings to be taken. Another point has been raised by the right hon. Gentleman, and with regard to it my answer is of a quite different kind. That is with regard to the question of expense. There can be no reason whatever for secrecy in this matter. There may be a reason for silence, but the only reason can be want of knowledge. Secrecy with respect to expenditure certainly there shall not be. As soon as we are able to convey any valuable information to the House about the expenditure on the war, we will do so. I will now venture only to say three things. First of all, I by no means desire to convey the opinion that it will be necessary for the House to enter further into the consideration of Votes of money. I do not speak positively, but, as far as we are able to judge, I do not see that it is likely that we shall have to ask the House for any further Vote during the remainder of the present Session. Secondly, with respect to the Indian expenditure. It is quite true that my noble Friend spoke under some sense of dismay—a feeling which, I must say, I most fully shared—of the scale of expenditure connected with the limited contingent that it was proposed that India should furnish to the Expedition. But my noble Friend has had no reason to anticipate that that large estimate will be largely exceeded, no information on the subject of excess of expenditure over the estimates having yet come within our view. That the Vote of Credit will absolutely suffice for all that has been done is more than I will venture to say. But this I will say—that I think, when we look back to the expense of other wars, to the magnitude of the objects in view, and to the mode and time in which they have been accomplished—though I cannot speak of any particular figure—yet I do cherish the hope that the House will be of opinion that the expense that has been incurred on the present occasion has not been out of proportion to the magnitude of the interests involved. The question of contribution from Egypt, either prospectively or otherwise, is a question which I conceive to enter rather into the question of policy than into that of expense; and I would say, in conclusion, that I think there is good hope, with regard to the subject of expense, that before long information will be supplied more worthy of being submitted to the House than any which we now have. I think I have now gone over all the points raised by the right hon. Gentleman, and I trust he will think I have spoken in a spirit not dissimilar to that in which he has brought them forward.


said, he hoped there would be no proposal for Saturday Sittings.


said, that House had been called together at a most unusual time, and in a most unprecedented manner, to consider the proposed Rules of Procedure. It was not likely that this would be the only question discussed, for other matters had been referred to by his right hon. Friend (Sir Stafford Northcote) which would have to be considered; but at the present moment he did not wish to enter into them. He, however, wished to have an explicit answer with regard to what the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister intended to do with respect to the first of his proposed Rules. The right hon. Gentleman, it would be remembered, had made a proposal earlier in the Session to his right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, consenting to a modification of this 1st Rule; but at the end of the Session the right hon. Gentleman said circumstances had occurred that had altered the whole situation. But there were many of them in the House who could not see how that situation had been in any way altered. [Laughter.] Well, if for the convenience and the necessity of the Government it was right that that Rule should in its main provision be altered—namely, that a bare majority should not be able to carry closure, then he, for the life of him, could not see what bad occurred since to exclude any alteration in that proposition. He, for one, had been absolutely against closure at all. As a humble individual, he should vote against closure in any of its forms; but it would be a very different thing if the proposition was that there should be a certain majority—and that no inconsiderable majority—which was to carry that closure. If, however, by a bare majority of 1 it was intended that closure was to be carried, he hoped there were many men spirited enough, not only on his side of the House, but also upon the other side, to oppose such a proposition, for he had met men of the other side of the House in other places who stated distinctly that they had been coerced into voting for the Rule as it then stood, and that had they been able they would vote against it, because they believed conscientiously it would be a most mischievous Rule—that it was absolutely fatal to freedom of debate, and that it would tend to lower the constitution of Parliament more than anything else that could be done. He ventured to ask the great Conservative Party sitting on his side of the House at any price not to allow such a Rule as that to pass, but to fight against it to the bitter end. He saw the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Home Secretary laughing. He was glad when he saw the Home Secretary laugh that peculiar laugh of his, because he then knew that that right hon. and learned Gentleman thought and believed the Conservatives would do what they said. The noble Lord the Secretary of State for India had told the House the great object of closure was that men's mouths should be shut on certain occasions, and that irrelevant discussion should be stopped. But he showed by what he said that he was alluding to the Opposition and not to his own Party. He (Sir Walter B. Barttelot), therefore, ventured to say that if that Resolution were put in the form and shape which the right hon. Gentleman had strongly intimated—and of which intimation he was sorry his right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition did not take more notice—for he believed that it was the intention of the Government that that Resolution should be carried as it stood, he ventured to say, standing there in his place, that, so far as he was concerned, he would do everything that he honourably could, so long as the Forms of the House would permit, to prevent the carrying of a Rule which would abolish that freedom of speech which he believed had placed the right hon. Gentleman who was at the head of the Go- vernment in that proud position which he occupied, not only in that House, but before the whole of the country.


said, the Prime Minister had observed that the Egyptian War would compare favourably with other wars; but he (Mr. Ashmead-Bartlett) should like to know to which of the other wars the right hon. Gentleman referred. Did he refer to the Crimean War, which was the work of a Liberal Cabinet, and whose fruits the Liberal Party wholly wasted in after years, or to the Afghan War, which had an infinitely greater object than this Egyptian Campaign in view—namely, to keep 250,000,000 of our fellow-subjects in India free from Russian tyranny and oppression? He thought the House had a right to know what were the ends the Government had in view with regard to Egypt to which the right hon. Gentleman referred. He believed that British influence and orderly government might have been maintained in Egypt without any war at all. But this country was determined that, whether or not those ends might have been obtained without war, this war should not be fruitless—that what had been so gallantly won in the field should not be lost in the Cabinet, and that the predominance of England over Egypt in future should be secured. And he thought it would be the duty of the Government to furnish information with regard to their Egyptian policy before the House rose for its Prorogation. With regard to the 1st Rule of Procedure, he hoped there would be a most determined resistance on the part of Members on both sides of the House to clôture by a bare majority. There could be no valid argument for such a clôture. No reason had been given why the offer made to the Leader of the Opposition by the Prime Minister last June should not have been recommended by him this Session to the judgment of the House.


asked whether the Prime Minister's remarks as to an attack being made on the Government policy applied only to the Opposition, or whether, if that policy were attacked by other Parties in the House, facilities would be given for discussion? It was to secure such an opportunity that he had given Notice that he would move the Previous Question when the Vote of Thanks to the Army was moved on Thursday. He did not intend to go into the whole policy of the Egyptian War. He would take an independent ground. He hoped the Prime Minister would state whether he would give to the House an opportunity, before this Session broke up, of discussing the whole of the Egyptian Question.


said, he was not insensible to the necessity of some alteration of the Rules of the House. He believed there was a very general desire on the part of Gentlemen sitting on the Conservative Benches to restore the efficiency of the House. That being so, he was sorry to hear the statement of the right hon. Gentleman. He (Mr. Chaplin) should have liked a more distinct answer from the Leaders of the Opposition as to whether they intended to oppose the Motion the right hon. Gentleman had submitted. He gathered from the right hon. Gentleman's opening speech that he and his Colleagues, and, he presumed, his Party behind him, saw something to induce them to adhere to the formal and essential proposition of the 1st Resolution. That was what he (Mr. Chaplin) called a declaration of war. And, that being so, all the Conservative Members and all Members who valued liberty and cherished freedom should consider what course they would pursue on this occasion. By accepting that proposition, they put it entirely out of their power to raise any question whatever, however important, except by the permission of the Government. He need not now enter into a variety of questions which were raised before the country which were most important, and to many of which his right hon. Friend referred. In passing, he might say that there was one question before all others which, he thought, demanded the immediate attention of the House, and he was sorry it had not been already raised—namely, the terrible suffering of our wounded soldiers in Egypt, and on their return from Egypt. The second effect of the acceptance of this Motion was that the House would be taking the first step forward in the direction of this clôture Resolution. It was perfectly idle for the Prime Minister to expect the Party who were determined to oppose the 1st Rule of Procedure to agree to a course which would do nothing less than entirely suppress debate. Under these circumstances, he would move the adjournment of the debate, and he thought there were good reasons for agreeing to that Motion. The Prime Minister had announced a variety of changes in this Rule; and it was not unreasonable to ask that Members should see those changes on Paper before they were invited to discuss them.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. Chaplin.)


said, he would support the Motion for Adjournment. He objected to this French clôture. Yes; and he objected to other French customs which were being introduced into the government of this country, and regretted that the compromise proposed in May last had not been accepted and held to. If that were again taken up he would vote for it, as he did not wish to see this contest continued. It had, however, been withdrawn without any conceivable reason except the extraordinary power of the Prime Minister. He thought that the House had a right to know what the Amendments to the Resolutions were that they were to be called upon to consider before they gave the Government the great power they asked. They ought to know whether there was to be any concession upon the 1st Rule; and they should have an assurance from the Prime Minister that he would not use the influence of his Government to coerce the votes of those who sat behind him before they proceeded any further.


said, he thought it only right to observe that, in his opinion, the House had been rather taken by surprise by the course which had been adopted by the Prime Minister that evening. Hon. Members came there expecting, no doubt, to be invited to adopt the Resolutions now before them on the Paper. No doubt, they also had every reason to expect that they would have the Resolutions put before them in substantially the same form; but he (Mr. Raikes) did not think that anyone in the House expected that they would have been met with the very considerable modification that had been made in them, coupled, as it was, with a demand for their instant consideration. It seemed to him that the Prime Minister had hardly treated them so fairly as they might have expected in asking them to pass a Resolution, pledging themselves to postpone all other questions that might come before them, in order to consider Resolutions not yet actually upon the Paper. It was one thing to give Notice of important changes in important proposals, and another thing to ask them to pledge themselves to consider those proposals before they could judge what they would be. For his part, he very much regretted that no hint had fallen from the Prime Minister as to his intention to accept any modification in Rule No. 1. The Prime Minister had offered no explanation of the causes which had led him to change his position with regard to these proposals, and hon. Members had certainly not expected to find the right hon. Gentleman so perfectly obdurate upon the subject, for when the House separated they had fair reason to believe that the right hon. Gentleman was of the same opinion as he was in May as to the necessity for a modification in Rule 1. They were now told that there was to be an alteration in Rule 1, conceived in the spirit of the Amendment of the hon. Member for Sunderland (Mr. Storey). Ho (Mr. Raikes) did not know whether that alteration was likely to tempt the hon. Member into the right Lobby; but it did not seem to him that the proposed Amendment was a substantial alteration, or that it would make much difference in the Resolution. They were also informed that there was to be an alteration in No. 2. So far as he could gather, the change proposed to be made was to make it necessary for 40 Members to express, by rising, their wish that a Motion for the Adjournment of the House should be made, in order to enable it to be entertained. Something of that sort might be advantageous, although he would prefer that the assent of 21, and not 40, Members should be required, as he thought that number would be sufficient, it being practically the majority of a quorum of the House. Then there was an alteration in the phraseology of the Half-past 12 Rule. He did not think that that had any effect upon the Motions on the Paper. But there was one other alteration of the greatest importance, and that was an alteration in dealing with Committee of Supply. They were asked, practically, to enforce and establish the renunciation of the ancient practice of discussing grievance before Supply, and to leave the old practice existing only in certain restricted and circumscribed limits, upon the occasion of the introduction of the three great classes of Estimates. They were asked to give up absolutely, for Government Business, not only Mondays, but every night in the week except Fridays, and also to enable the Government to take Tuesday Morning Sittings throughout the Session for the discussion of Supply. A result of that would be that when Tuesday Morning Sittings were held, it would be very difficult to make a House in the evening; and thus, practically, Fridays would be the only days that hon. Members would have for bringing forward questions distasteful to the Government. It was, however, only possible to take one division on the Motion for Supply; and, therefore, by inducing their followers to put down Motions for the few available open days throughout the Session, the Government could practically prevent the expression of any hostile opinion on their acts. No doubt, the proposal had certain administrative merits, and they must sympathize with a Government in desiring to get its Supply through; but it required a certain amount of courage on the part of a Government to come forward with a proposal of this kind. He ventured to think that he had made out a case for not pressing these proposals upon the House as if they were familiar with them. Hon. Members ought to have an opportunity of familiarizing themselves with the proposals of the Government, which was not possible if their discussion was commenced at 12 o'clock to-morrow. It was also a most important question to consider how far they were to surrender the whole of their liberty of discussion during the present Session by giving priority to these Resolutions. The Prime Minister had, it was true, expressed his willingness to give up some time to the discussion of anything like a formal Vote of Censure or hostility; but he had declined to offer a few days' grace for a discussion of the affairs of Egypt. That discussion might have taken place that day, if the issue of the Papers on the subject had not been so conveniently postponed till the day after the meeting of Parliament. He (Mr. Raikes) hoped that, on that side of the House, consideration would always be shown in circumstances of difficulty; but, at the same time, they owed something to their constituents; and how could Members face them if they had to go back and say they allowed a state of things to exist by which the mouths of Members were absolutely closed on matters of such vital importance as the Egyptian Expedition and Egyptian policy? Personally, with the opportunity of opposing this Resolution, he should have a clear conscience in the matter; but he did not envy hon. Members opposite representing large Northern constituencies if they should have to face them at such a juncture. He trusted the House would pause before passing the Resolution in its present form; and he trusted that, if it was ultimately passed, it would be with a modification which would except Notices of Motions, so that by saving Tuesdays for private Members, they might do something to maintain the credit of Parliament and vindicate the duty they owed to their constituents.


in reply to the question put by the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson), said, there was an established tradition in the House that, whenever a large number of Members desired to raise a question touching the existence or policy of the Government, an opportunity should be given them for that purpose. With regard to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down (Mr. Raikes), he objected to going forward with this Resolution, upon grounds which appeared to be fatal to one another; he objected to going forward with the 1st Resolution because it was not altered, and he objected to going on with the other Resolutions because they were altered. It was very difficult to meet these objections, so as to make them hang upon the same thread. This was essentially a preliminary Motion, intended to be disposed of at the very commencement of the Sitting; and, therefore, as a matter of course, the hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin) did not require to be told that the Government could not possibly agree to his Motion for Adjournment. So far as there was any reason, or colour of reason, in it, it appeared to turn upon the fact that two Resolutions were proposed to be altered, and that the alterations were not yet upon the Paper. In order to meet that objection, he (Mr. Gladstone) would undertake that those two Resolutions should be laid on the Table that night; and, if the House wished to have the opportunity of seeing the Resolutions as a whole upon the Paper, he was willing to go further, and say that he would postpone the consideration of them until to-morrow. It was quite certain, from the discussion there would be, that no important change could be made until the House had had the most ample opportunity of considering it. That, he thought, was a fair offer; and, under the circumstances, he hoped the hon. Gentleman opposite would not persevere with his Motion for Adjournment.


said, that, on the understanding just stated by the Prime Minister, that none of the Resolutions should be taken that night, after the preliminary Motion had been disposed of, he could not help thinking it would be well for his hon. Friend (Mr. Chaplin) to accept that offer, and not to persist with the Motion for the Adjournment.

Question put, and negatived.

Original Question again proposed.


said, he would venture again to ask whether nothing could be done with regard to Tuesdays? If these were excepted from the Resolution, the Business of Parliament might go on in the usual fashion. He would move the omission of the words "and Notices of Motions" from the Resolution—an Amendment which would leave precedence to the Government for the Resolution on every day except Tuesday.

Amendment proposed, to leave out the words "and Notices of Motions."—(Mr. Raikes.)

Question proposed, "That the words 'and Notices of Motions' stand part of the Question."


in supporting the Amendment, said, that, without much chance of success, he ventured to hope that the right hon Gentleman the Prime Minister would agree to this proposal. There were many reasons why he should so agree. Only that night the hon. Baronet the Member for Carlisle (Sir Wilfrid Lawson) had stated his intention of moving the Previous Question when a Vote of Thanks was to be moved, and which he (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) had hoped would be given unanimously to the Army and Navy of the country, who had so distinguished themselves in the late war in Egypt. But, supposing the proposal which had been put forward by his right hon. Friend (Mr. Raikes) was rejected, then the House might have, on the occasion of the Motion for the Vote of Thanks, all sorts of side questions and side issues raised on a Motion that ought to be unanimously voted. They would most likely be raised then, because it would be the only opportunity afforded for raising a discussion upon the Expedition to Egypt. Probably such subjects as the Transport, the Commissariat, and the Medical Department of the Army would be raised; and, he would ask, with what dignity could the House give a Vote of Thanks after a discussion of questions of such magnitude? The Secretary of State for War would not deny that these were questions deserving immediate attention—questions that ought to be discussed during the present Session of Parliament; but if the House was precluded from bringing such forward in a regular manner, then they would be introduced at inconvenient times and in irregular ways, and in a manner not for the best interests of the country. When, on a Motion for a Vote of Thanks, the Previous Question was raised, no one could foretell how far the discussion would be carried on a Vote that ought to be an unanimous Vote of the House. He ventured to hope that the Prime Minister would take into consideration that these points he had mentioned were questions that ought to be discussed in the interests of the Army, but not on a Vote of Thanks.


said, that, of all ways of relaxing the stringency of the Resolution, that proposed by the right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Raikes) appeared to be the worst. The hon. and gallant Baronet opposite (Sir Walter B. Barttelot) spoke as if he could determine what should be discussed on Tuesdays if they were excepted; whereas the fact was, that private Members, like the hon. and gallant Baronet, had no power of determining what should be discussed if they obtained the Tuesday. All a private Member could do was to take his chance at the ballot with 600 other Members of the House. They had determined that a great effort should be made; and, by a great deviation from usage, they had called upon Members, at great sacrifice, to meet the Government for a great purpose. Were they then to renew what was one of the most farcical of the proceedings of the House—namely, the system by which the House met at 4 o'clock, and after two or three hours of work before dinner, nine times out of ten was "counted out?" He hardly thought, in view of those facts, the right hon. Gentleman would persevere with the Amendment.


said, the history of Parliamentary Procedure showed that, compared with the former arrangement, the Government had gained one day in the week, which they had taken away from private Members. Formerly Thursday was a private Member's night, and though Supply used not to be set down for Friday, yet the Motion for the Adjournment till Monday, which was then necessary to prevent the House from sitting on Saturday, gave the same opportunity to Members for the miscellaneous discussion of all questions as the present Motion for Supply. Lord Palmerston introduced the present system, and thereby gained a day. Therefore, so benefited as they were, Ministers had no cause to complain.


said, he would remind the House that, when a "count out" had occurred on a Tuesday, it had generally happened after an unusually late Sitting the previous night.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 96; Noes 46: Majority 50.—(Div. List, No. 342.)

Main Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 98; Noes 47: Majority 51.—(Div. List, No. 343.) Ordered, That the Consideration of the New Rules of Procedure have precedence of all Orders of the Day and Notices of Motions on every day for which they may be set down.