HC Deb 04 March 1886 vol 302 cc1875-7

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether his attention has been called to a letter published in The Brighton Gazette, dated 11th February, to the following effect: — To the Editor: Sir,—That Henry Broadhurst should now be Under Secretary of State for the Home Department seems almost the irony of fate. About fourteen years ago he was a ringleader in a great strike of the building and other trades, and under the strict surveillance of the police: It could hardly be expected that he should give the necessary orders to prevent riot last Monday, but, in default of not getting such order, the police allowed the plunder and riot to go on; and, will he ascertain if this be true; and, if not, will he take steps to direct a prosecution for a gross and scandalous libel?


Mr. Speaker, in reply to the hon. Member, I have to say that, if his Question is according to the letter of the Standing Orders, and if it had not been that you, Sir, have allowed it to be put upon the Paper, I would have ventured to have said that it is certainly not in accordance with the spirit of the Rules which govern our proceedings. The hon. Member has taken advantage of an anonymous letter written to a Provincial journal; and, under cover of a professed desire that the editor of a Conservative newspaper, serving the Party to which he himself belongs, should be prosecuted under my directions, he shelters himself behind that anonymous letter to make an attack on my hon. Friend the Under Secretary of State for the Home Department, which, if the hon. Member had had the courage of his opinions, he would have made directly. The hon. Member knows, or, if he does not, any Member sitting opposite, who has had Parliamentary experience, would tell him, that the Under Secretary of State has nothing to do with, and never gives orders to, the police on those occasions. I hope, therefore, that the House will resent this in direct and un-Parliamentary attack on one of its Members undercover, as I have said, of an anonymous letter, and I decline to take any further notice of the hon. Member's Question.


May I crave the indulgence of the House for one or two moments with regard to this Question? I should have been pleased to answer it, if the hon. Gentleman had addressed it to me direct. I now beg to say that there was no strike in the building trade at the time referred to; but there was a lock-out—that is, a strike by the employers against the workmen. At that time, the workmen asked me to take charge of their case, which I did, and the difference was very speedily settled to the mutual satisfaction and interests of both parties to the dispute. With regard to the innuendo about the police, I can assure the lion. Gentleman that there was nothing at all of the kind. I do not suppose the police knew of the existence of the dispute, or anyone else not directly interested in it, as during the dispute there was no police case, nor any cause for the interference of those charged with the duty of the maintenance of peace and order. That is the last time that I have been personally responsible in any trade dispute between workmen and employers. I should like to add one word more, and that is that the hon. Member will find that the work of advertising obscure country newspapers will not bring him any very desirable Parliamentary distinction.


Sir, might I, with your permission, resent the insinuation—[Cries of "No!"]


Sir George Campbell.