HC Deb 01 March 1886 vol 302 cc1547-50

I wish to make an appeal to the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, with regard to a Notice of Motion which stands tenth on the Paper to-morrow, and which has been placed there by the hon. Member for Sligo (Mr. Sexton). It relates to certain speeches of my noble Friend near me (Lord Randolph Churchill). I was unable to be in my place, unfortunately, when the right ton. Gentleman on Friday, as I under- stand, declined to afford facilities to the hon. Member for Sligo for the purpose of the discussion of the Motion. Sir, on behalf, not only of my noble Friend, but of his Colleagues in the late Government, I venture to ask the right hon. Gentleman to reconsider that decision. The charge made against my noble Friend is a very grave one—that he has attempted to intimidate this House, and been inciting Her Majesty's subjects to civil war. The circumstances of the case show that it is not merely a charge made by one private Member of this House against another private Member; and, therefore, what I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to do is this—to exercise his influence with those hon. Members on his side of the House who have given Notices of Motion anterior to the Motion of the hon. Member for Sligo, in order that the Motion of the hon. Member for Sligo may be taken as the first Business of the evening tomorrow. Of course, Sir, I may say we would use a similar influence on our side. I think, on reconsideration, the right hon. Gentleman will see that it is a matter which ought to be discussed without loss of time.


This is a matter which it is rather difficult to deal with in a way of Question and Answer, because it is almost inevitable that the Question and the Answer should assume more or less of an argumentative character; and I am not sure that my memory serves mo with sufficient accuracy to enable me to give a positive reply to the right hon. Gentleman. There is much greater difficulty in the case, I think, than he appears to suppose. I am bound to say that, so far as I am aware, Notices of the kind have been given frequently by independent Members, but have not been permitted to cause any interference with the ordinary Business of the House, in order that they should take precedence. A Notice of this kind, charging my right hon. Friend the President of the Local Government Board (Mr. Chamberlain) with very grave offences indeed, was given by the noble Lord who himself is the subject of this present Notice. If I remember aright, my right hon. Friend was content to take his chance, and no attempt was made to obtain any alteration in the course of Business in this House. I may say, Sir, that in the last Parliament, stretching my memory a little bit further back, I was myself the object of a Notice of a similar character, given by a Member sitting upon the then Government side of the House. The terms of that Notice of Motion I am bound to say I have totally forgotten; but it was a Notice of a character which would have expelled me from this House if passed. At that time I had been a Member for more than 40 years, and for many years Prime Minister of this country; but I do not know that anyone attempted to interfere with the course of Business of the House in reference to that Notice. I should have thought it a great—well, I will not say what I should have thought it—because it would seem that I was finding fault with the right hon. Gentleman and those who have pursued a different course. I do not know whether anything else is to be said of this matter which would throw further light upon it. I admit that it is one matter to ask that a Government night should be given for the discussion of a subject, and another to ask for such kindly intervention as the right hon. Gentleman has now asked for. Out of respect to the right hon. Gentleman, I should be willing to forward the matter as he desires; but it seems to me that to do a thing of that sort would be establishing precedents which might be the means of causing inconvenience to the House. We will take two or throe hours to consider the matter, and I will inform the right hon. Gentleman as soon as I can. It is not, however, the plain and straightforward matter that it seems to be; for, of course, new cases of this sort may arise, differing from some that have occurred, and one must be cautious in establishing precedents.


said, that as one of those who had Notices on the Paper having priority over that of the hon. Member for Sligo, he would be very glad to waive his right, in order to afford the noble Lord the opportunity of making the explanation he desired in reply to those charges, which he felt to be affecting his character. So far as he was personally concerned, he should be willing to waive his right to oblige the noble Lord, feeling sure that the noble Lord would act in a similar way towards him (Sir Joseph Pease) if he wished to hasten on the discussion of a question affecting his public utterances.