HC Deb 07 June 1883 vol 279 cc1919-22

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether, having regard to his statement in the House of Commons of 24th August 1881, and to the recent resignation of Lord Rosebery, he can now state to the House the nature of the re-arrangements contemplated in the administration of Scotch Business, and when they are likely to be given effect to?


asked, with reference to Lord Rosebery's connection with the management of Scotch affairs, If the arrangement was described at the time as giving additional assistance at the Home Office; and whether the right hon. and learned Gentleman was correctly reported to have stated that the arrangement never was intended to be permanent, and was only intended to propitiate Scotch Members; and whether that statement had anything to do with Lord Rosebery's resignation'?


Sir, I am very glad indeed to answer the latter Question before that of the hon. Member for Roxburghshire. I intended to ask the House to be allowed to make a personal statement on the subject. Statements have been made and apparently received with credence by the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Dalrymple) that something I had said or done had been taken amiss by Lord Rosebery, and had conduced, in some manner, to his resignation. All I have to say on my part— and I am desired to say it also on behalf of Lord Rosebery—is that there is not a word of foundation for it. It is an entirely untrue statement, which has not a colour of foundation of any kind or sort. As to the relations between Lord Rosebery and myself, they have been for many years, and, I am happy to say, are still, those of the closest political friendship and personal affection, which has never been disturbed for a single moment. I do not know for what purpose statements of this character are made. I suppose they are intended to give pain. If so, they have succeeded in their object; but I am happy to have the opportunity of saying that they are entirely without foundation. Lord Rosebery wrote to me this morning— I know what you must be feeling under so undeserved an innuendo; but I am quite as indignant as you are. I do not think I need say anything more on the personal part of the question. As regards the other matter about which my hon. Friend (Mr. A. Elliot) asks, and to which the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Dalrymple) alludes, what I said the other night I said in, perhaps, too light a manner; but I had hoped that the language I had used would have been understood in the sense in which it was employed. It is perfectly accurate. When Lord Rosebery was good enough to consent to take the Office of Under Secretary of State to the Home Department he took it as a temporary arrangement, and it was so understood by the Government, and so understood by Lord Rosebery and myself, for the purpose of facilitating the conduct of Scotch Business, and it was understood that it was at the desire of a large number of Scotch Members. That arrangement was made in order to meet these views. I explained in the Answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Roxburghshire, to which lie refers in this Question, exactly what had passed, and stated that it was in order to give greater assistance in what I may call the lay as distinguished from the professional Business of Scotland. It was never intended that the arrangement, which had. obvious inconveniences, should be permanently established, nor was it the desire or the view of Lord Rosebery that it should be so. On the contrary, he always desired that there should be a different and more permanent arrangement with reference to Scotch Business. It was prolonged beyond our expectations, though not beyond my wishes, because I think it was my personal urgency to Lord Rosebery which induced him to continue to perform those functions, which he did with so much ability and advantage to Scotland, longer than was originally intended. Lord Rosebery has always had very much at heart some permanent and regular arrangement with reference to Scotch Business. In that the Government have concurred, and they have already announced that a plan of that kind will be introduced. My hon. Friend has asked me to state the details of that arrangement. Being necessarily considerable, they are being worked out, with the assistance of the Lord Advocate, Lord Rosebery, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and I hope we shall have an early opportunity of presenting it to the House. I do not think it would be of any advantage to anticipate the presentation of that scheme as a whole by making any more detailed statement in the meantime.


I beg to ask to whom the Scottish Members are to look in the meantime, with respect to the conduct of Business described as of a lay character in Scotland?


I am afraid they will have to look to the Secretary of State, until we have another and better arrangement.



asked the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether the statement which appears in the public journals that Lord Rosebery has resigned his appointment at the Home Office is correct; and, whether he will undertake that the Bill which the Government promised to introduce relating to the conduct of Scottish business will be brought in without further delay?


Certainly, Sir; it is part of the engagement into which we have entered, that that Bill should be introduced and placed in the hands of Members at an early period, so that the Members who represent Scotland should have a full opportunity of considering it.