HC Deb 16 February 1883 vol 276 cc176-7

Mr. Speaker, I wish, with all respect to you, to put a Question to you as to the position in which this House is placed by the recent Prorogation—with respect to the contingency which may again come before the House in a manner which the House on a former ocasion condemned. I beg to ask you, Sir, whether there remains any Rule or Order of this House whereby Mr. Bradlaugh is precluded from presenting himself at the Table of the House and claiming to have the Oath of Allegiance, or equivalent Affirmation, administered to him by the officers of the House, on any day on which the House may sit?


In answer to the hon. Member, I may say that I have repeatedly stated that the Resolutions which have from time to time been passed by this House on the claim of Mr. Bradlaugh to take his seat have been valid only during the currency of the Session in which they were passed. They have no validity now.


I thank you, Sir, for the answer you have given, and I beg now to put the following Question, which arises out of the information you have given to the House, to the noble Lord the Secretary of State for War, as the Representative of Her Majesty's Government:—Whether, on the part of Her Majesty's Ministers, the noble Lord can and will undertake to prevent Mr. Bradlaugh presenting himself at the Table of this House, and having the Oath of Allegiance, or equivalent Affirmation, administered to him while his case is still pending before the Courts of Law, and pending the decision of Parliament on the Affirmation Bill of which Notice has been given?


A copy of the Question which the hon. Gentleman has just put to me was placed in my hands only when I came to the House this evening, and, therefore, I might decline to answer it without Notice. It appears to me, however, that I can have no difficulty whatever in stating that any steps which may be necessary to prevent Mr. Bradlaugh from presenting himself at the Table, and having the Oath of Allegiance, or the equivalent Affirmation, administered to him, do not seem to fall within the province of Her Majesty's Government. The question of the manner in which Mr. Bradlaugh should be dealt with appears to me to be a matter for the consideration of the House, and not for the consideration of Her Majesty's Government.