I have to submit to the House two Motions which are, in point of form, divided, but which are virtually one. The first of these is a Motion conveying, Sir, to yourself the thanks of this House for your services 1880 in the Chair; and, with respect to that Motion, I will say at once that I am convinced, Sir, it will proceed to you direct from the heart, as well as the understanding, of the House of Commons. The second Motion is a Motion for an Address to the Crown, praying the Crown to confer upon Mr. Speaker some signal mark of honour. That Motion, I believe, Sir, will be adopted, and will pass through from this House winged, if I may say so, with the anticipation of Her Majesty's ready and cheerful concurrence in its purport. The House has had the opportunity of examining the terms in which these Motions are couched; and especially the first of the two, which indicates, at least, if it does not describe, the services upon which it is founded. Perhaps hon. Gentlemen may have been led to compare the terms of this Motion with the terms used in preceding Motions upon similar occasions. There is no great difference between them. This Motion recites the zeal, the ability, the judgment, and the fairness with which the Speaker has discharged his functions; his unremitting attention to the constantly increasing Business; and his uniform urbanity to Members of the House. But these recitals, and these terms of description, not very different from those that have been used before, acquire, I must say, additional emphasis and significance from the circumstances under which they are applied. It is truly stated in this Motion that the Business of the House is increasing. It is not stated in the Motion; but it is in some degree indicated by the terms "unusual labour," "difficulty," and "anxiety" which it mentions—it is in some degree indicated; and it is a matter of intimate and familiar knowledge to us all that the high functions which you have been called upon to exercise have been exercised in a period of difficulty unknown to prior experience. I may, Sir, speak as a witness to the labours of five Speakers during more than half-a-century in this House; and I do not hesitate to say that the functions, always arduous, always grave, which are entrusted to the hands of Mr. Speaker, have risen, Sir, during the period of your occupation of the Chair, to a point, both of gravity and of difficulty, entirely beyond what your Predecessors have had to deal with. I will not go back beyond that period; 1881 because I believe it may be taken for granted that the Speakers who sat in that Chair before the Reform Act had no greater difficulties—perhaps not such great difficulties—to encounter as the Speaker who sat in that Chair immediately after the Reform Act. Sir, this is no merely formal or ceremonial occasion. The Speaker of the House of Commons is united with the House of Commons by ties so intimate and confidential, that his Office may be said, perhaps, to be without example in any part of the civilized world. I do not believe that the President of any other deliberative Assembly, however important it may be, rises to the height of the Speaker of the House of Commons. On that account, at all times, it has been felt to be a matter of serious importance when we have either chosen or parted with a Speaker; but on this occasion, Sir, the considerations brought to our minds are of greater weight and of new significance. There can be no doubt, Sir that the functions of the Chair are now, at the close of your period of occupancy, much greater than at its commencement; and I believe I may add to that, that probably, but for your skill and tact, for your courage and firmness, for the admirable understanding which you have applied to the solution of the multitude of questions presented to you, those functions, and the difficulties they present, would have been graver still. Sir, our thanks, therefore, to you are not to be measured by the mere formal purport of the words in which they are couched. Every one of those words has, in our view, a meaning and a force proportionate to the growth of the circumstances, and by no means to be limited within the bounds of dry and customary precedent. We, Sir, are deeply grateful for the work you have done on behalf of the House and of the country. We wish that it were in our power better and more fully to convey to you the nature and reality of that gratitude. It lives, it burns, I might almost say in every breast. It expresses not the partial, but the pervading, sense of the mind and heart of the House of Commons. Sir, it is not desirable on this occasion to use many words. I will only say further, in submitting to the House this Vote of Thanks, that, as we look backward with gratitude, so we look forward with a warm desire that 1882 there may still remain to you many years of public service and of private happiness, and that the valuable life which you have given so freely to the service of the House and of the country, cheerfully facing the cares incident thereto, may be greatly prolonged by the diminution of those cares. I beg to move the Resolution of which I have given Notice.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
Mr. Speaker, after the eloquent words to which we have just listened, and knowing, as I do, how completely those words represent the feeling and sentiment of the great body of the House on both sides, I feel that it is hardly necessary for me to add anything in support of the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman opposite the Prime Minister. But it is for our satisfaction that we desire to take part in expressing, on the part of those who sit on this side of the House, our entire concurrence in the sentiments which have been so ably and so beautifully expressed by the right hon. Gentleman, and to join in thanking you, Sir, for the manner in which, during 12 anxious and laborious years, you have filled the high Office which you hold. We desire to express our great regret that you should find it necessary to leave the Chair which you have so ably filled, and to leave us deprived of the counsels and advice which we have so long received from you; and, at the same time, we wish to express our cordial hope that during the remainder of your, as I trust it may be, long prolonged life, you may enjoy the comparative repose which you have so well earned. I say the comparative repose, because I feel assured that, if it pleases Heaven to grant you that measure of health and strength to which you may fairly look forward, you will spend much of the remainder of your life, as you have spent so much of that which has gone, in the service of your country. Sir, I need not say anything more in the sense of which I have spoken; but I hope I may be allowed, without presumption or offence, to express my own individual feeling towards yourself of your conduct in the Chair. During the greater part of the time that you have filled that Chair, it has been my lot, either on that side of the House or on this, to take part in the conduct of Public Business; and I am able to bear, and desire to bear, my 1883 strongest testimony to the urbanity and kindness, as well as to the ability and strength of character, with which you gave advice, and with which you applied yourself to the maintenance of the high duties of the Office which you filled. Many and many a time, both when I sat on that side and on this, have I resorted to your counsels, and they were always given with readiness and urbanity, and always to the advantage of those who consulted you. I trust, though we shall no longer have the privilege of seeing you among us in that Chair, that those who have enjoyed your friendship here may be allowed to continue it under other circumstances. I most cordially join in seconding the Motion.
Motion made, and Question proposed,
That the Thanks of this House he given to Mr. Speaker for his distinguished services in the Chair for more than twelve years; that he be assured that this House fully appreciates the zeal and ability with which he has discharged the duties of his high office, through a period of unusual labour, difficulty, and anxiety, and the judgment and firmness with which he has maintained its privileges and dignity; and that this House feels the strongest sense of his unremitting attention to the constantly increasing business of Parliament, and of his uniform urbanity, which have secured for him the respect and esteem of this House."—(Mr. Gladstone.)
§ MR. PARNELL
Mr. Speaker, personally I extremely regret that it does not fall to my lot on the present occasion to acquiesce, at all events tacitly, in the Resolution so ably proposed by the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, and so ably seconded by the right hon. Baronet the Member for North Devon (Sir Stafford Northcote). But while acknowledging, and being most desirous to acknowledge to the fullest extent, both for my hon. Friends and myself, the great personal courtesy, kindness, and consideration which you, Sir, have always extended towards us in your individual capacity, I feel bound, and they feel bound, though with great regret and pain, to remember that certain of your official actions have, in our judgment, ended in producing grievous misfortune and wrong to our country, and in inflicting much injustice and hardship upon many individuals in Ireland. Believing, with all humility, that those actions were in excess of the authority conferred upon you by the Rules of the House, and contrary to the privileges of its Members, we feel that we should 1884 stultify ourselves if we tacitly agreed to this Resolution. But, while we propose to say "No" to the Question, we do not intend to trouble the harmony of the House by taking a Division.
§ MR. O'DONNELL
I had great pleasure, on the occasion of your re-election at the beginning of the present Parliament, in expressing my hearty acquiescence in everything that was then said of your merits as Speaker, and of the manner in which you discharged your high functions in the preceding Parliament; and I reiterate now all that has been stated as to the personal urbanity, courtesy, and undeviating consideration in all relations you have shown to individual Members of this House. But, Sir, the Prime Minister, the introducer of coercive legislation for Ireland, has reminded us that this is no merely formal and ceremonious occurrence. So, Sir, while heartily re-echoing all that has been said of your urbanity and courtesy, I am bound to take exception to a Vote which too clearly conveys a repeated sanction of your acts in reference to the Irish Representatives and the cause of Ireland in this House of Parliament. I cannot forget that legal coercion in Ireland was first rendered possible by what I am obliged to consider illegal and unprecedented coercion in this House. I am convinced that, in your action, you conducted yourself entirely according to your idea of duty to the House of Commons, and to your native land. But, Sir, I cannot forget that when a Member of this House was in possession of the House, and was interrupted by the Premier, who had made an archaeological discovery which he found among the relics of Tudorism, by a Motion that the Member be no longer heard, the Chair sanctioned the act of the Premier. Of that I do not complain; but I also remember that at a most critical time in the history of the relations of my country with the governing Power, a large number of the Representatives of that country, after making precisely the same Motion as the Premier, were "Named" in this House, and were duly suspended by the vote of a dutiful, though inconsistent majority. Sir, I cannot but remember that even when, on a later occasion, you intervened to enforce and discountenance the discussion of that first and fatal Coercion Bill, which, by the admission of its authors, has pro- 1885 duced so many evils in Ireland—I cannot but remember that your action prevented a large body of the opponents of the Bill from even having an opportunity of expressing, by their votes, the mandate of their constituents. It cannot but be within the recollection of hon. Members of this House, without distinction of Party, that repeated applications were made to the Chair as to the legality of the action of the Irish Members, and that, day after day, that action remained uncontested by the highest authority in the House. And, Sir, besides my objection to interference with free discussion in this Assembly, I take exception specially to the fact that that interference took place without warning, under circumstances of complete surprise, at an hour when a vast majority of the Members from Ireland had, and could be expected to have, no knowledge that a sudden intervention of the authority of the Chair was about to take place. Sir, as I said before, I am certain that you acted according to your sense of duty to the House; but I must also maintain that your action facilitated the unjust purpose of the Government of postponing reform to coercion; and that, but for the interference of the Chair, the necessity of legislating for admitted evils might yet have proved victorious over the pretended necessity for coercive legislation. Sir, finally, I would say that, on the present occasion, I cannot forget that, under your auspices, the character of the House of Commons has changed in a sense advantageous to the Government of the day, whatever that Government may be in the future; and, as I consider, in a manner disastrously detrimental to the interests of private Members, and of freedom inside and outside the House. You found this House of Commons and all its private Members in possession of the largest measure of liberty ever enjoyed by the Members of a Legislature of a free people. Sir, you leave this House of Commons—I trust for a long and honoured career, but you leave this House of Commons disastrously cramped, mutilated, and truncated in most of the vital privileges which have been handed down from successive generations. It is with no disrespect to you, Sir, but with all respect to you in every personal and individual regard, that I must protest against the Vote moved by the Prime Minister, con- 1886 sidering you, as I am bound to do, as one who was, in his time, the last Speaker of the last free House of Commons, and that your successor will be "Monsieur le Presidént" of a Continentalized Corps Législatif. During your Speakership the House has changed into a faint copy of a Continental Legislature.
LORD HENRY LENNOX
I have no intention of prolonging the discussion upon a subject in regard to which the feeling of the House appears to me to be almost unanimous; but I do think, considering I have sat uninterruptedly in this House for 38 years, during a part of which I used to fight with you, Sir, in the Lobbies in this House, and during the other part I have been accustomed to sit under your genial guidance, that I may be allowed to ask you to forget the amiable and eccentric criticism which has been passed on your conduct in the Chair by a certain section of Members. I have known you in actual warfare outside the House, and I have known you as Speaker of the House of Commons; and whether inside or outside the House, I have always felt, and knew, that you were actuated by the most genial manners and the most courteous consideration.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
The noble Lord the Member for Chichester (Lord Henry Lennox) states that he has been a Member of this House for 38 years; I have been here, Sir, for more than 40 years, and I have sat under the auspices of two of your Predecessors. I am happy to know that the unanimity with which we tender to you the expressions of our well-earned gratitude is not to be interrupted by a Division; and, whatever verbal reservations may be made, they only illustrate the old maxim that the exception proves the rule. The hon. Member for Dungarvan (Mr. O'Donnell) has referred to what occurred in this House on the 21st January and the 1st and 2nd of February, 1881. Why should such painful reminiscences be now revived? But I must be allowed to say, with regard to the transactions of which the hon. Member seemed to complain, that I never before, in all my long experience, witnessed a more determined and organized attempt at revolution in in this House. You, therefore, deserve our thanks for having met exceptional circumstances by an exceptional exercise of authority.
§ MR. GREGORY
I will trouble the House but for a few minutes, but I stand in the position of having for 15 years had the honour of representing the division of the county in which you, Sir, reside; of having learnt how you are known, and, I need not add, appreciated there. I think it, therefore, my duty, on behalf of your friends—and they are all your friends there—to say how warmly they all sympathize with, and how warmly they will reciprocate, everything that has been said of you by the right hon. Gentleman on the other side of the House. Sir, they will remember with pride the position which you have occupied, and the manner in which you have discharged the functions of it. They will regard with pleasure the honours which are to be conferred upon you, and they will look forward with hope to your long continuance among them, and to the pursuit by you of those honourable and useful occupations in which you have been engaged, and by which they have so much benefited in the development of the agricultural resources of the country and the cultivation of the social relations of all classes in it.
Question put, and agreed to.
Resolved, That the Thanks of this House he given to Mr. Speaker for his distinguished services in the Chair for more than twelve years; that he be assured that this House fully appreciates the zeal and ability with which he has discharged the duties of his high office, through a period of unusual labour, difficulty, and anxiety, and the judgment and firmness with which he has maintained its privileges and dignity; and that this House feels the strongest sense of his unremitting attention to the constantly increasing business of Parliament, and of his uniform urbanity, which have secured for him the respect and esteem of this House.
§ Before I proceed to address the House upon this Resolution, I am anxious to say a few words in regard to the criticisms which have fallen from the honourable Member for the City of Cork, and the honourable Member for Dungarvan. I do not doubt that both those honourable Members have, in the course which they have thought fit to take, been actuated by a sense of duty to their constituents; and I am quite sure 1888 they will give me credit for having, in my position as Speaker, acted upon all the occasions to which they have referred, from a sense of duty to the Country, and to this great Assembly.
§ I scarcely know how to address myself to the Resolution to which the House has now agreed. It has been moved and seconded, and received generally by the House, in a manner far above my deserts.
§ I am very sensible of my own shortcomings; and it has often been a subject of wonder, on my part, how it is, that I have been lifted up to this high position.
§ I believe that my elevation to this Chair is mainly due to the simple fact, that, ever since I entered this House, nearly thirty-two years ago, I have been animated and guided by a constant and abiding faith in this House, as an instrument of good government, and have loyally worked for the maintenance of its high character.
§ If, in my tenure of this Chair, during a somewhat eventful period, I have helped to sustain the power and authority of this House, I shall feel that I have not lived in vain.
§ The rest of my life will be cheered by pleasant memories of my career in this Chair; and, among those pleasant memories, the scene, which is now passing before us, will hold a prominent place.
§ I am unwilling to say Farewell, for my heart will always live with this House, to which I owe so much.
§ I thank you heartily for the crowning act of this day, in recognition of my services.
§ Before I conclude, I beg the House to allow me to take this opportunity of thanking the officers of this House, for the zealous and efficient support which I have received from them.
§ From the Clerks at the Table of this House, I have derived, day by day, constant and intelligent assistance.
§ To the Clerk of this House my thanks are especially due. He enjoys, deservedly, a world-wide reputation, as an authority on 1889 Parliamentary Procedure, and I have largely availed myself of his long experience, and, sound judgment, in the conduct of the business of this House,
§ Let me conclude with my best wishes to one and all of those many Members who have been introduced to me, in this Chair.
§ May the blessing of God rest upon this House for ever.
I beg to move—That the thanks of this House be given to Mr. Speaker for what he has said this day to the House, and that the same be printed in the Votes of this day, and entered in the Journals of this House.
Motion agreed to.
Resolved, That the Thanks of this House be given to Mr. Speaker for what he has said this day to the House, and that the same be printed in the Votes of this day, and entered in the Journals of this House.
I have now to move the second Resolution of which I have given Notice, and which is in the hands of Members—That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying Her Majesty that She will he most graciously pleased to confer some signal mark of Her Royal Favour upon the Right Honourable Sir Henry Bouverie William Brand, G.C.B., Speaker of this House, for his eminent services during the important period in which he has with such distinguished ability and dignity presided in the Chair of this House; and to assure Her Majesty that whatever expense Her Majesty shall think proper to be incurred upon that account, this House will make good the same.
Motion agreed to.
Resolved, That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, praying Her Majesty that She will be most graciously pleased to confer some signal mark of Her Royal Favour upon the Right Honourable Sir Henry Bouverie William Brand, G.C.B., Speaker of this House, for his eminent services during the important period in which he has with such distinguished ability and dignity presided in the Chair of this House; and to assure Her Majesty that whatever expense Her Majesty shall think proper to be incurred upon that account, this House will make good the same.
§ To be presented by Privy Councillors.