HC Deb 15 June 1885 vol 298 cc1583-5

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—(Mr. Gladstone.)


I ask the indulgence of the House one minute in order to express a wish that the adjournment of the House will not be agreed to until one other item of Business, which will probably take only five or ten minutes, has been disposed of. The Business of to-night has been of an unusual character. All the Business has been postponed except the Seats Bill and the Princess Beatrice's Annuity Bill. The item I propose to proceed with is germane to the Seats Bill—almost a part of it, and it is a matter which thousands in this country look upon as very important. What I propose is that the remaining Orders be run through until we come to the Motion for what is practically the first reading of the Bill, which provides that no person shall be disqualified from voting at Parliamentary elections by the receipt of medical relief for himself or for his family. If it is the will of the House that this Bill should be proceeded with, it will only take about 10 minutes; and, seeing the shortness of the time at our disposal, it is of importance that the Bill should be introduced at once. The first reading is a stage of the Bill that does not usually raise contentious matter, and no harm could be done by agreeing to my proposal.


said, he would add his earnest appeal to that of the hon. Member for Ipswich. Since the decision in regard to medical relief was agreed to, evidence had come to hand from all parts of the country showing that the measure of enfranchisement which both Houses had passed would in many cases be a perfect mockery unless this disqualification were removed. He hoped the House would not refuse a request which was intended to do justice to a vast body of the electorate.


said, he originally supported the Motion of the hon. and learned Member for Christchurch (Mr. Horace Davey), as there was something real about it; but this resuscitation of the question was made for the purpose of getting up an electioneering cry. It was perfectly impossible to pass the Bill through the House of Lords this Session. Hon. Gentlemen could not seriously expect to pass the Bill.


was of opinion that the Bill could not be considered by the House, as the subject of it had already been disposed of.


repudiated the charge of the hon. Member for Cavan (Mr. Biggar) that this was an electioneering trick, though, no doubt, the hon. Member knew as much about tricks as anybody. If Radical Members had simply an electioneering object in view, they would allow the grievance to remain unredressed, for the grievance would be much more beneficial than the remedy. It would be a cruel thing, seeing the period of the Session, to refuse to allow the first stage of the Bill to be taken, especially as he had reason to believe that the coming Conservative Administration would not oppose it.


said, he thought that the subject ought not to be introduced at the present time.


pointed out that, as to the idea that it was sought to introduce this Bill for the purpose of an electioneering cry, the best electioneering cry the most advanced Liberal could have was that the House had refused to take any trouble to pass a measure of justice such as this was. By passing the measure they were rather depriving themselves of an electioneering cry. On behalf of the most helpless portion of the community, he supported the request of the hon. Member for Ipswich.


said, he also should support the proposal. He regretted that the Attorney General and other Members of the Government were not present to explain the course they took on a former occasion.


said, he was glad one Irish Member had risen to sup- port the proposal. They were all agreed that medical relief in Ireland should not be a disqualification; and it was astonishing that two Irish Members could be found to prevent the same privilege being applied to the rest of the country. From one point of view, he was very anxious about this. It was possible—he hoped it was not probable—we should have a visitation of cholera; for we saw cholera coming over different parts of Europe at the present moment. Now, the most important measure to prevent the spread of cholera was immediate isolation in a public or parish hospital of infected patients, and we ought to offer the greatest facilities for producing that isolation in the case of any epidemic visiting this country. But if medical relief were to be a disqualification, one of our greatest sanitary measures would be rendered inoperative. He was sure the other side would not have made this alteration in the House of Lords had they known it to be of the importance it was. What his hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. Jesse Collings) asked the House was not to decide upon the merits of the Bill, but that he should have permission to introduce it, in order that in the limited time of the Session they might have a chance, if what had been done was considered a mistake, of rectifying it.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 32; Noes 55: Majority 23.—(Div. List, No. 206.)


explained that, under the circumstances, it was, of course, not the intention of the Government to take any Government Orders that night, and he appealed to private Members not to take their Orders. The Government had, of course, no power to prevent private Members from taking their Orders; but the only effect of taking any of the Orders would be to keep the House sitting to a late hour, without producing any good result.