§ MR. LEWIS
Sir, I wish, as a matter affecting the Privileges of the House, to call your attention to a paragraph which appears in all the papers this morning, in reference to Mr. Bradlaugh. It refers to the Resolution passed by the House last Friday, and it states—Mr. Bradlaugh's position is, that the Resolution is absolutely illegal, and he will disregard it and disobey it in the same manner as on February 21st last year. He will do this in such a way as may be most convenient to himself.Further on, the paragraph states—He is advised that he has a clear right to take and subscribe the Oath by himself. Mr. Bradlaugh will previously hold as many large meetings as possible, and these meetings will culminate in a large London meeting. In any contest that may arise with the House, he will be always ready to submit to an arrest, without questioning the grounds; but he is advised that the use of physical force by the House to prevent his obeying the law is unlawful: and, as it 237 appears, from Mr. Justice Field's decision in Bradlaugh v. Erskine, that he has no legal remedy for such unlawful physical force, he will take sufficient means to protect himself against what he terms the disgraceful force used against him outside the House on August 3,1881.I venture respectfully to ask you, Sir, Whether, having regard to the alleged threats of Mr. Bradlaugh to "disregard and disobey the Resolution of the House," and to "take sufficient means to protect himself against what he terms the disgraceful force used against him outside the House on the 3rd of August, 1881," you will communicate to the House whether you will take the necessary steps to protect the House and its Members from the consummation of the outrage threatened, and which may take place at any moment?
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
Before you answer that Question, Sir, will the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Lewis) allow me to ask him whether or not he is aware that the paragraph he has read emanates from Mr. Bradlaugh? The hon. Member states that it appears in this morning's papers; but I did not understand him to say that it is signed by Mr. Bradlaugh.
§ MR. LEWIS
I did not state positively that it came from Mr. Bradlaugh. I used the words "alleged threats." The copy I have read appears in The Times and all the morning papers. It has also appeared in the newspapers throughout the country. In Manchester, where I was this morning, it was published in exactly the same terms. My Question was carefully guarded by the use of the words "alleged threats."
§ MR. SPEAKER
The House has recently passed a Resolution bearing on the claims of Mr. Bradlaugh, and it will be my duty to see that the Resolution is observed. With regard to the contingency contemplated by the hon. Member for Londonderry (Mr. Lewis), I think the House will probably be of opinion that it is not for me to take notice of what appears to be an unauthorized report. If any further action on the part of the House should be necessary, I have no doubt the House will, in its wisdom, give me such instructions as may be required.
§ LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL
Is it in the power of Mr. Bradlaugh, as at present circumstanced, to repeat his action of last year, when he advanced to the Table without being called 238 on by you, Sir, went through the form of taking the Oath, and threw on the Table a piece of paper, signed by him, which circumstance led to a very unpleasant and disgraceful scene. I want to know, Sir, if it is possible for Mr. Bradlaugh, by so advancing to the Table, again to disturb the proceedings of the House, and to repeat the scene of last Session?
§ MR. SPEAKER
I should consider that Mr. Bradlaugh would be disobeying the Rules and practice of this House if he were to come to the Table to take the Oath without having been called upon to do so by the Chair.