HC Deb 30 June 1884 vol 289 cc1689-702

I beg to move that the Orders of the Day be postponed until after the Notice of Motion with reference to Egypt has been disposed of.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That the Orders of the Day be postponed until after the Notice of Motion on Egypt (Terms of the Agreement with France)."—(Mr. Gladstone.)


Sir, I do not rise for the purpose of disputing the Motion of my right hon. Friend. At the same time, I wish to Say that I myself and many hon. Members on this side of the House are of opinion that the discussion likely to arise from it is one which is inopportune and inconvenient. And we think so still more now that we have heard from the Prime Minister within the last few minutes that the Government intend to submit an affirmative Motion to the House approving of all that they have done, both as regards their Agreement with France and their proceedings at the Conference.


I did not mean necessarily a Motion setting forth everything we have done, but one that will make the whole matter contingent on the vote of the House.


That statement does not alter my view of the matter, since it makes it certain that an opportunity will arise for the discussion of the question. But we have collected together for a great Party fight, and I suppose that anybody trying to prevent it from coming off will be in the position of a person trying to prevent a prize fight. I shall not trouble the House with any remarks, except to make an appeal to the hon. Member for Salford (Mr. Arthur Arnold). There are some of us who, perhaps, may not altogether hold the same views with regard to the Agreement, but who still are strongly of opinion that it is undesirable at this moment to give an opinion upon it, especially considering the course taken in France and all other contingencies. The way in which we can best show that opinion is by the usual Motion of the Previous Question. My hon. Friend the Member for Salford has put on the Paper a Motion which has precedence of, or would come before, that of the hon. Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Cartwright), and which he considers the same as the Previous Question. It is not quite so; in fact, there is a considerable difference, the difference being— This House withholds its opinion upon the result of negotiations with France until it has been placed in possession of the proposals submitted to the Conference of the rowers of Europe. Now, that is not the view of many of us who wish the Previous Question shall be submitted to the House. We want not merely to know what are the proposals to the Conference, but also what is the final decision of the Conference on which it is understood the Agreement depends. Many Gentlemen who are in favour of the Previous Question would like to record their votes in favour of it before being compelled to vote either for or against the Motion of the hon. Member for Portsmouth. I think there would be many advantages in our being able to do so. Upon these grounds, I venture to appeal to my hon. Friend—and I am speaking on behalf of many who agree with the proposal—that he will either himself consent to move the Previous Question, or withdraw his Amendment so as to allow some other Gentleman to move it.


I was not in the House when the Prime Minister made the statement as to the intentions of the Government with reference to Some affirmative proposal; but, in reply to my right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster), I have only to say that, while acknowledging the similarity which exists between my Amendment and the Previous Question, I regard the Motion which I have put upon the Paper as being-somewhat more intelligible, and as better expressing what I hope and believe will be the feeling of my right hon. Friend and those who act with him. With reference to the remark of my right hon. Friend as to the desire of himself and those who feel with him to know the result of what takes place in the Conference, I have no difficulty on that point, because I have absolute confidence is the pledge -which the Prime Minister gave to us on the subject. On the present occasion, while I deeply regret to differ, even in the smallest point —and it is a small one—from my right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, I am bound to say that I feel it my duty to persevere with the Amendment which stands in my name.


I should like to appeal to the Government somewhat in the same sense as my right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford. I do not suppose that he and I agree very much on this particular question; but still I do think the Previous Question would be the course which, as far as I know, would secure almost the whole support of hon. Members on this side of the House. I have no authority to speak for anyone; but I think it quite possible that some Members on this side would not wish to vote, under these circumstances, for a direct negative, or even for the Amendment of which Notice has been given. I beg to second the appeal of my right hon. Friend. I think he has proposed a more satisfactory mode of considering the circumstances in which we are placed. If the object is to have a good Party fight, we could not have a better one than on the Previous Question.


I do not quite gather what the Government are going-to do upon this question. Do they meet the Motion with a direct negative, or do they intend to support the first Question put on the Amendment of the hon. Member for Salford (Mr. Arthur Arnold)— "That all the words after the word 'that' be left out?" If so, we shall have the word "that" left alone.


With respect to what has fallen from my right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, I wish him to understand that I am a most reluctant party. I have to say, on the part of the Government, that, so far from coming down here in the glee with which we may very often contemplate Party conflicts when we feel that we are in the right, on this occasion I come down here with a very deep sense that I am, under the pressure of circumstances, and as the choice of evils, giving facilities for bringing forward a Motion which we feel to be most inopportune, and most injurious to the public interests. I. therefore, am under pressure; but, with regard to the Question which has been put by the two hon. Gentlemen following my right hon. Friend, what I have to say is this. It is absolutely impossible, as, I think, must be well known to the Mover of the Resolution, for us, in the position in which we stand, to enter at large upon an explanation or a defence of our policy in regard to the complicated Egyptian Question; and if I address the House after the hon. Member for Portsmouth (Mr. Bruce), the chief part of my duty really will be to endeavour to describe accurately the Parliamentary situation, and to explain and justify the course that we propose to take in view of that situation. I am afraid I should be clearly deviating from the common order, at any rate, of the proceedings of this House, if I were to enter upon that subject on the preliminary Motion for postponing the Orders of the day.


What has fallen from my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister confirms me in an opinion which I have held during the last two or three days, and to which I should have wished to have given more formal expression if it had been possible to have given Notice, and to take the opinions of others since Friday evening. My own opinion is that, after the speech of my right hon. Friend, and chiefly looking to the circumstances of the case, the House would best do its duty if it were to refuse to postpone the Orders of the Day, with the view of giving: an opportunity of bringing on a Vote of Gen-sure which is most inopportune. I freely admit that the Government were bound to give a day for discussion when they were challenged by the Opposition, and I also admit that the Leaders of the Opposition may have found themselves in this difficulty, that if they did not propose a Vote of Censure at this moment some uncontrollable Member opposite might have done so. But I claim this, that the House of Commons at large is entitled to disregard these considerations, and that we have simply to look at what is most for the interests of the country and that which will best preserve our liberty of action and our independence of judgment which my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has distinctly promised us. For, whatever may be said, this debate if it proceeds, and the Division following it, will be looked upon by Europe and by the country as decisive of the questions which are at issue. It will be wrong; but we know perfectly well how difficult it is to make these distinctions, and it will be considered decisive. Meanwhile, what has been the attitude of the French Chambers? They have said that they refuse to discuss this question; and are we, the House of Commons, to bind ourselves in advance and to commit ourselves to principles of great political and international importance while the rest of Europe refuses to commit or to pledge itself? I say, therefore, the argument is overwhelming that this debate ought not to be allowed to proceed. I dissent entirely from the argument which might be put forward by right hon. Gentlemen opposite, that if this debate and Division do not take place before the Conference then it will be impossible to upset the results of the Conference. I say that that is a position which is derogatory to this country. We are not going to be bound either as regards the neutralization of Egypt or its evacuation by a Conference assembled simply to deal with the financial question. We shall remain, and we ought to remain, entirely masters of our position and masters of our political action. For my part, I think that this House ought not to be driven into the Division Lobbies upon an incomplete case and at an inopportune time; and therefore for my part, if I have any support, I shall be perfectly ready to say "No" to the Motion.


This preliminary debate is one of rather an unusual character; but it appears to me to be absolutely necessary that I should say a few words in reply to the observations which have been made, and especially to those of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ripon (Mr. Goschen). When it was announced by Her Majesty's Government, some time ago, that it was intended to hold a Conference of the Powers of Europe on the Egyptian Question, very careful and very jealous inquiries were made by Members on this side of the House, and I think by Members on the other side also, as to what were to be the limits and the functions of that Conference. We were assured, over and over again, that the object of the Conference was purely financial—for the purpose of settling the Law of Liquidation. If any intimation had been given to the House at that time that it was intended to hold a Conference for the purpose of considering the question of the limitation of our occupation of Egypt, or the question of the neutralization of Egypt, or any questions of a similar character, I think there can be no doubt that this House would have desired, at the earliest possible moment, to express its opinion on these questions, and would have insisted upon doing so. What has taken place? The Conference is called together, it is true, for the single purpose, as we are informed, and as we believe, of deciding and settling financial questions, and that they are very difficult and im- portant questions we do not for a moment doubt; but we find that, as a preliminary measure, in order to enable the Conference to be brought forward, there has been a correspondence going on between this country and one of the Powers of Europe, and that an Agreement has been made between Her Majesty's Government and the Government of France touching and laying down principles of the very greatest importance as to the time during which we are to occupy Egypt. What is the position of the House with regard to that? We do not take this haphazard or on hearsay. We have had Papers laid before us by Her Majesty's Government, and we have had ample time to consider them. The question is not as to what is proposed to be done, or even a part of what is proposed to be done; it is what has been done? It is a question whether that agreement ought to be accepted as a basis of any further proceedings. Serious principles are involved in that correspondence; and we have felt it our duty at the very earliest opportunity to call the attention of the House to them, and to challenge the opinion of the House as to the propriety of these principles. Of course, it is for the House to say whether they will accede to the proposal of the Prime Minister, that the Orders of the Day be postponed, for the purpose of going on with that discussion. It is a matter with which the majority must deal; but I say that our course is, in our own minds, perfectly clear. There is no question as to whether anyone would anticipate us. The question is whether, having this fact before us, we should approve it or not; and we cannot put ourselves off to consider this after the Conference has been held. Other questions may be raised then which the House and the country may have opinions upon one way or the other; but that is no reason why we should now allow this proposal to go forward without challenge.


The right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken has not been altogether accurate, for he has said, or implied, with respect to the work of the Conference, that there has been some change since the Government stated to Parliament that it would be summoned and why it would be summoned. Sir, there has been no change whatever. What has happened is simply this. Her Majesty's Government have summoned a Conference for the precise purpose set out in the original Papers presented to Parliament. But before going into the Conference Her Majesty's Government have been in communication with the Government of France, and the result of those communications has been faithfully and frankly stated to Parliament. If after we go into Conference the result is an inability to bring about an agreement with the Powers, all that has been done in communication with France will come to an end. If, on the other hand, we agree in the Conference, then this House will have the fullest opportunity of discussing, not only the proceedings of the Conference, but the previous understanding with Franco; and, therefore, Sir, I claim that the Government have not departed one jot or one tittle from the promise they gave to Parliament; and I am bound to say that, although in accordance with the demand of the Leader of the Opposition, the Government agreed that a day should be set aside for the Motion of the hon. Member for Portsmouth (Mr. Bruce)—a demand that the Government could refuse—yet they think that a debate on this occasion is certain to be most mischievous.


I think the House will be somewhat astonished at the observations of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ripon (Mr. Goschen). It appears to me that there is somewhat of communication between those observations and the refusal of the hon. Member for Salford (Mr. Arthur Arnold) to give way to the right hon. Member for Bradford (Mr. W. F. Forster), and allow the Previous Question to be moved. The Previous Question is one of those vague things for which hon. Gentlemen ran vote without affecting their political consciences. The announcement of the Prime Minister, that he intended to meet the Motion of the hon. Member for Portsmouth (Mr. T. C. Bruce) with the direct negative, has evidently caused great perturbation and dismay in the minds of hon. Members both above and below the Gangway. If they had been able to afford an opportunity for the hon. Member to withdraw his Amendment, and to prevent the Prime Minister from directly negativing the Resolution of the hon. Member for Portsmouth; and if he had done that without absolutely endorsing the policy of the Government, of which only a portion had been presented to the House, we should have heard but little of the candid and impartial suggestion of the right hon. Members for Bradford and Ripon. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ripon suggests that this debate should not take place; but the Party representation of this House leads to a different conclusion. It will be in the recollection of the House that on the 27th of May the Prime Minister said— We can undertake and engage, in the event of any common understanding with France, of consultation with the Powers, and of any plan resulting from those communications, that those results and the whole conclusion which is arrived at shall be presented to Parliament before the Conference meets."—(3 Hansard, [288] 1474.) I should be glad that the Prime Minister's attention should be called to the words which he has uttered, and to the whole consequences of that which his own words represent. Now, for what purpose was the whole conclusion to be presented to Parliament previous to the meeting of the Conference? Surely, no mere matter of general information could be submitted as a matter of fact. But I venture to think that no general observation would produce any substantial effect amongst the Members of a Party of which I have the honour to be a Member.


said, that, whilst he should be willing to vote cither for the Previous Question or the direct negative should the hon. Member for Portsmouth (Mr. Bruce) move his Resolution, he considered the Motion inconvenient and mischievous; and he hoped his right hon. Friend the Member for Ripon (Mr. Goschen) would take a Division against the Motion before the House, in order to protest against the most ill-timed and unpatriotic Motion he had ever seen proposed in his Parliamentary experience.


We on this side of the House, supported by the great majority out-of-doors, regard the Motion of the hon. Member for Portsmouth (Mr. Bruce) as not only inopportune, but as most mischievous. The Government had no option save to answer the challenge of the Party opposite. But I hope that the entire Party on this side of the House will take the simple and straightforward course of saying "No" to the proposal before the House, to enter into a discussion from which nothing but mischief can result.


I put it to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ripon (Mr. Goschen) to reflect what will-be the immediate effect if the course which he has recommended were adopted by the House. Will the public out-of-doors believe that the Motion of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ripon was not in any way prompted by the Government? Will it not be thought, and will it not be said, and not merely in this House and throughout this country, but throughout Europe generally, that the one point with regard to this question upon which the great Liberal Party was united was that they were afraid to face a discussion? I think the Parliamentary course of my right hon. Friend (Sir Stafford Northcote), if it needed vindication, has been most fully vindicated by the way in which events have shaped themselves, and has received ample justification this afternoon. When we hear hon. Gentlemen talk about a Motion being inopportune, we know very well that it is inopportune to Her Majesty's Government. I recommend the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ripon, whom we all so greatly respect, to consider whether, by the observations which he has just made, he has not given a blow to Her Majesty's Government from which it will be extremely difficult for them to recover.


I will answer the question of the right hon. Gentleman, and I will answer it in this way. I say there is no man outside this House who will believe, and I believe there is no man inside this House who would have made that suggestion except the right hon. Gentleman, who would have made a suggestion which would have been equally dishonourable to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Ripon (Mr. Goschen) and to Her Majesty's Government. I will leave to the right hon. Gentleman opposite the sole monopoly of his insinuations. That, Sir, is the only answer which I think the right hon. Gentleman's suggestions and insinuations require or deserve.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 148; Noes 190: Majority 42.

Alexander, Major-Gen. Hamilton, Lord C. J.
Asher, A. Harcourt, rt. hn. Sir W. G. V. V.
Ashley, hon. M.
Ashmead-Bartlett, E. Hartington, Marq. of
Balfour, rt. hon. J. B. Hay, rt. hon. Admiral Sir J. C. D.
Balfour, A. J.
Barttelot, Sir W. B. Hayter, Sir A. D.
Bateson, Sir T. Hibbert, J. T.
Beach, right hon. Sir M. E. Hicks- Hicks, E.
Hildyard, T. B. T.
Biggar, J. G. Hill, Lord A. W.
Birkbeck, E. Holland, Sir H. T.
Blackburne, Col. J. I. Houldsworth, W. H.
Boord, T. W. Hubbard, right hon. J. G.
Bourke, right hon. R.
Brand, hon. H. R. Jackson, W. L.
Brodrick, hon. W. St. J. F. Kennard. C. J.
Kennaway, Sir J. H.
Bruce, Sir H. H. Knight, F. W.
Bruce, hon. T. Knightley, Sir R.
Burghley, Lord Lawrence, Sir T.
Cameron, D. Lechmere, Sir E. A. H.
Campbell, J. A. Lefevre, rt. hn. G. J. S.
Campbell -Bannerman, H. Legh, W. J.
Leigh, R.
Carden, Sir R. W. Leighton, Sir B.
Cecil, Lord E. H. B. G. Leighton, S.
Childers, rt. hn. H. C. E. Lennox, right hn. Lord
Christie, W. L. H. G. G. G.
Clive, Col. hon. G. W. Lowther, hon. W.
Collins, T. Lowther, J. W.
Coope, O. E. Mackintosh, G. F.
Cotes, C. C. Makins, Colonel W. T.
Courtney, L. H. Manners, rt. hon. Lord J. J. R,
Crichton, Viscount
Cross, rt. hon. Sir R. A. Marriott, W. T.
Cubitt, right hon. G. Master, T. W. C.
Curzon, Major hon. M. Maxwell, Sir H. E.
Dalrymple, C. Mills, Sir G. H.
Dawnay, hon. G. C. Milner, Sir F.
De Worms, Baron H. Morgan, rt, hon. G. O.
Dilke, rt. hn. Sir C. W. Newport, Viscount
Dodson, rt. hon. J. G. Nicholson, W. N.
Donaldson-Hudson, C. North, Colonel J. S.
Douglas, A. Akers- Northcote, rt. hon. Sir S. H.
Duff, R. W.
Eckersley, N. Northcote, H. S.
Egerton, hon. A. F. Otway, Sir A. J.
Elliot, Sir G. Patrick, R. W. Cochran-
Ellis, Sir J. W. Peel, rt. hon. Sir R.
Elton, C. I. Percy, Lord A. M.
Ewart, W. Phipps, C. N. P.
Ewing, A. O. Plunket, rt. hon. D. R.
Fawcett, rt. hon. H. Power, J. O' C.
Feilden, Lieut. -General Price, Captain G. E.
Finch-Hatton, hon. M. E. G. Raikes, rt. hon. H. C.
Repton, G. W.
Fitzmaurice, Lord E. Ridley, Sir M. W.
Folkestone, Viscount Ritchie, C. T.
Fowler, rt hon. R. N. Rolls, J. A.
Fremantle, hon. T. F. Ross, A. H.
Freshfield, C. K. Russell, G. W. E.
Gardner, R. Richardson- Salt, T.
Gathorne -Hardy, hon. J. S. Sclater-Booth, rt. hn. G.
Scott, M. D.
Giles, A. Selwin - Ibbetson, Sir H. J
Gladstone, rt. hn. W. E.
Gorst, J. E. Smith, rt. hon. W. H.
Greene, E. Stanhope, hon. E.
Greer, T. Stanley, rt. hon. Col. F.
Halsey, T. F Stanley, E. J.
Storey, S. Watney, J.
Summers, W. Whitley, E.
Sykes, C. Willyams, E. W. B.
Talbot, J. G. Winn, R.
Thornhill, T. Wolff, Sir H. D.
Tollemache, hn. W. F. Yorke, J. R.
Tottenham, A. L.
Trevelyan, rt. hn. G.O. TELLERS.
Walker, S. Grosvenor, right hon.
Wallace, Sir R. Lord R.
Warburton, P. E. Kensington, rt. hn. Lord
Warton, C. N.
Agnew, W. Fairbairn, Sir A.
Allman, R. L. Farquharson, Dr. R.
Anderson, G. Ferguson, R.
Armitage, B. Findlater, W.
Armitstead, G Flower, G.
Arnold, A. Foljambe, C. G. S.
Balfour, Sir G. Forster, Sir C.
Barclay, J. W. Forster, rt. hn. W. E.
Baring, Viscount Fowler, H. H.
Barran, J. Fowler, W.
Baxter, rt. hon. W. E. Fry, L.
Beaumont, W. B. Fry, T.
Bolton, J. C. Gladstone, W. H.
Borlase, W. C. Gordon, Sir A.
Brassey, H. A. Gourley, E. T.
Brett, R. B. Gower, hon. E. F. L.
Briggs, W. E. Grafton, F. W.
Bright, right hon. J. Grant, Sir G. M.
Bright, J. Grant, A.
Brinton, J. Grey, A. H. G.
Broadhurst, H. Guest, M. J.
Brogden, A. Hamilton, J. G. C.
Brown, A. H. Hardcastle, J. A.
Bruce, hon. R. P. Healy, T. M.
Bryce, J. Heneage, E.
Buchanan, T. R. Henry, M.
Buszard, M. C. Hill, T. R.
Caine, W. S. Holden, I.
Cameron, C. Holland, S.
Campbell, Lord G. Hollond. J. R.
Campbell, Sir G. Hopwood, C. H.
Campbell, R. F. F. Howard, G. J.
Cartwright, W. C. Inderwick, F. A.
Causton, R. K. James, C.
Clark, S. Jenkins, Sir J. J.
Clarke, J. C. Jenkins, D. J.
Clifford, C. C. Jerningham, H. E. H.
Cohen, A. Kenny, M. J.
Colebrooke, Sir T. E. Kingscote, Col. R. N.F.
Collings, J.
Collins, E. Kinnear, J.
Colman, J. J. Labouchere, H.
Colthurst, Colonel Lambton, hon. F. W.
Courtauld, G. Lawrence, Sir J, C.
Crum, A. Lawrence, W.
Currie, Sir D. Lawson, Sir W.
Davey, H. Leatham, E. A.
Davies, R. Leatham, W. H.
Davies, W. Lee, H.
Dickson, T. A. Lloyd, M.
Dillwyn, L. L. Lusk, Sir A.
Dodds, J. Lymington, Viscount
Earp, T. Lyons," R. D.
Ebrington, Viscount Macfarlane, D. H.
Edwards, P Mackie, R. B.
Egerton, Admiral hon. F Macliver, P. S.
M'Arthur, Sir W.
Elliot, hon. A, R. D M'Carthy, J.
M'Carthy, J. H. Reed, Sir E. J.
M'Clure, Sir T. Richard, H.
M'Intyre, Æneas J. Roundell, C. S.
M'Kenna, Sir J. N. Russell, Lord A.
M'Lagan, P. Russell, C.
M'Laren, C. B. B. Ruston, J.
Mappin, F. T. Rylands, P.
Maskelyne, M. H. N. Story - St. Aubyn, Sir J.
Samuelson, H.
Mason, H. Seely, C. (Lincoln)
Milbank, Sir F. A. Shaw, T.
Molloy, B. C. Sheil, E.
Moore, A. Shield, H.
Moreton, Lord Simon, Serjeant J.
Morley, J. Small,. J. F.
Muntz, P. H. Smith, E.
Noel, E. Smith, S.
Norwood, C. M. Smyth, P. J.
O'Brien, Sir P. Spencer, hon. C. R.
O'Brien, W. Stanley, hon. E. L.
O'Connor, A. Stewart, J.
O'Connor, T. P. Stuart, H. V.
O'Shea, W. H. Sullivan, T. D.
Paget, T. T. Tennant, C.
Palmer, C. M. Torrens, W. T. M.
Palmer, G. Waddy, S. D.
Parker, C. S. Waugh, E.
Pease, Sir J. W. Webster, J.
Pease, A. West, H. W.
Peddie, J. D. Whitworth, B.
Pender, J. Williams, S. C. E.
Philips, R. N. Williamson, S.
Picton, J. A. Willis, W.
Potter, T. B. Wills, W. H.
Powell, W. R. H. Wilson, Sir M.
Pulley, J. Wodehouse, E. R.
Ralli, P.
Ramsay, J. TELLERS.
Rathbone, W. Goschen, rt. hon. G. J.
Redmond, J. E. Illingworth, A.
Redmond, W. H. K.

Bill read a second time, and committed for Thursday.


Sir, there is one observation which, with the indulgence of the House, I hope I may be allowed to make. It is an observation of great surprise that the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister on Thursday last, upon the challenge of my hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth (Mr. Bruce), should have named this day for the discussion, without intimating, in the slightest degree, that he considered it would be injurious to the public interest, and that to-day he should come forward to announce for the first time that, in his opinion, it would have that injurious effect. [Cries of "Question!" and 'Order" from the Ministerial side, and 'Move the Adjournment!" from the Opposition Benches.] I am anxious not to move the adjournment, or in any way to interfere with the Business of the House. I think we occupy a more dignified position by merely calling attention to the fact, which I think one that will be under- stood in the country, and making this protest.


Sir, I do not think that when the right hon. Gentleman asked for the indulgence of the House, the House was perfectly aware of the use he intended to make of it. ["Oh!"] I am so accustomed-to this kind of interruption that I consider it is not to be taken notice of. But I mean to keep my remarks within the same, or even shorter, limits than those of the right hon. Gentleman, and I hope I may claim the same indulgence. When the right hon. Gentleman inquired of me on Thursday as to whether we would give a day, the question had been the subject of much consideration in my mind, and in the mind of my Colleagues; because, on the one hand, we felt that it was not the business of the Government to deprecate discussion, and that, on the other, it was our business, as long as we could, to adhere to the rule which has of late been made use of to such an extraordinary extent, of giving a day when a Vote of Censure is threatened. When I answered the right hon. Gentleman, I certainly felt that, having arrived at the conclusion that a day ought to be given, I ought to give it without grudging, or giving expression to any adverse opinion, or seeming in any way to deprecate debate. But when my right hon. Friend the Member for Bradford (Mr. W. E. Forster), in the exercise of his discretion, and hon. Gentlemen who followed him especially, in the exercise of their discretion, made a direct appeal to me on the subject, and I found myself saddled with the responsibility of bringing on this Motion, then it was absolutely necessary for me to give nay opinion on its bearing on the public interests, with respect to which I have never entertained a doubt.


The Clerk will now proceed to read the Orders of the Day.

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