§ Order for Second Reading read.
§ THE UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE FOR INDIA (Sir JOHN GORST) (Chatham),
in rising to move that the Bill be now read a second time, said, there were no less than five Notices of objection to it. The terms in which the objections were expressed were so short and concise that he was unable to gather from them the reasons which actuated the hon. Members in giving those Notices. The only one which condescended to reasons was that of the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. Picton). He (Sir John Gorst) would answer, as well as he could, such objections as he was able to find. He rather gathered, from a Question put to him by the hon. Member for Swansea, that there was in the hon. Member's mind—and he understood in the minds of some other hon. Members —a doubt as to whether such a Bill was necessary. It was rendered necessary by an old Statute, 53 Geo. III., which was repeated in the now operative Statute, the 3 and 4 Will. IV., c. 75, Clause 79 of which provides—That the return to Europe, or the departure from India with the intent to return to Europe, of any Governor General of India, Governor, Member of Council, or Commander-in-Chief, shall he deemed a resignation or voidance of his Office and employment.Therefore, if His Royal Highness the Duke of Connaught left Bombay for the purpose of coming to this country, he would ipso facto lose his appointment. If he had been allowed to leave his appointment, and had then been re-appointed on his return, it would have been regarded by many persons as an improper evasion of the Statute he had just read. There was another objection—that the condition of India might be such that it would not be expedient that the Commander-in-Chief of the Bombay Army should be absent. The Bill did not enact that His Royal Highness the Duke of Connaught was to come home. The Bill would be permissive; and only provided that the Viceroy of India—who was responsible for the safety of India—might, should he think the circumstances of the time admitted it, grant such leave for three months to enable him to return to this country. He had gathered also that there was a feeling on the part of hon. Members that the Revenues of India might be burdened by the salary of an official not attending to his duties there. That was a misconception, as the effect of the Bill, if enacted, would only be to enable 1696 His Royal Highness to return to this country without resigning his command, but would not enable him to draw his salary during his absence.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL (Kirkcaldy, &c.)
It is not in the Bill.
§ SIR JOHN GORST
said, it was not there because it was not necessary. The section of the Act of Parliament to, which he had already referred, said that—If any of the specified officials should leave the Presidency, &c, to which he belonged, the salary and allowances belonging to his Office should not be paid or payable to any agent or person to his use.The Act would not be disturbed by that Bill if passed; therefore, no part of His Royal Highness's pay or allowances would become payable to him.
§ GENERAL SIR GEORGE BALFOUR (Kincardine)
What about the pay as Member of the Council?
§ SIR JOHN GORST
said, he believed that His Royal Highness received no pay as a Member of the Council; but if he did, that would share the same fate under the Act. He did not think he need at that—or, indeed, at any—stage of the Bill argue the general question as to whether it was desirable that His Royal Highness should be present on such an occasion as the Queen's Jubilee. [Cheers.] He accepted that cheer as showing that the whole House agreed with him in what he had just indicated. He now came to another objection. He understood that the hon. Member for Leicester objected to the Bill as a measure specially relating to His Royal Highness the Duke of Connaught, and not a general Bill dealing with the clause in the Act of 1833. He admitted that there was a strong case for a general repeal of those provisions of the Act of 1833 which were referred to. When that Act was passed the only way a person could come to this country from India or return to India from this country was by sailing ship round the Cape of Good Hope; a passage which would occupy three or four, or even as much as nine months. It might be a very proper provision then; but now when the passage was made—or would be made under the new contract with the Peninsular and Oriental Company—in 16 or 17 days, and had actually been done in 15 days; when it was possible also by means of 1697 the electric telegraph to recall an officer to his post at a few hours' notice, the House would see that the reasons which might have influenced Parliament to pass that Act no longer existed, at any rate in anything like the same degree. The fact of the Duke of Connaught desiring to come home for the Queen's Jubilee had, no doubt, raised the question as to whether Parliament ought not now to be asked to repeal that section of the old Act altogether. It had occurred to his mind, however, that if Her Majesty's Government had proceeded in that fashion, hon. Members might have accused the Government of trying to alter the law under cover of a Bill for an apparently different purpose; and although the Government did not often get credit for frankness and candour in their proceedings—[laughter]—he was sure that hon. Members would say that on that occasion, at all events, its procedure had been candid and frank. Therefore, if the Government had proceeded by a general Bill it might have been made matter of objection. But there was a more serious objection to a General Bill than that, and it was that in Indian legislation it was the practice of the Government at home to proceed with extreme caution, and not to tamper with the laws of India without consulting the Indian Government itself. It was a matter which took some time. On such a question the Government of India itself would not proceed rashly; it would refer the question to the provincial Government, and hear the opinion of that Government before it would form or indicate its own opinion to the Secretary of State; and that also would take a considerable amount of time. The course which the Government had adopted, and which he hoped would commend itself to the good judgment of the House, was in this particular case to proceed by special legislation for the purpose of giving statutory authority to the Viceroy of India on his own responsibility to give leave of absence to the Duke of Connaught. Having so dealt with this special case, at more leisure and when the time of Parliament was better able to be devoted to such a question, the Government intended to bring this old Statute under the consideration of Parliament, with a view to ascertaining whether the present law might be altered or not. He hoped the House 1698 would consent to that course being adopted, and agree to the second reading of this Bill. He begged to move that the Bill be now road a second time.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."—(Sir John Gorst.)
§ MR. DILLWYN (Swansea, Town)
in rising to move that the Bill be read a second time that day six months, said, that he had understood from the hon. and learned Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for India (Sir John Gorst) that the Government might have given His Royal Highness the Duke of Connaught leave to come home without initiating any special legislation, but that the Government on the whole considered it desirable that this Bill should be passed.
§ SIR JOHN GORST
said, that he had said there was nothing to prevent His Royal Highness the Duke of Connaught coming home except the fact that by doing so he would have to resign his command, and that if he did so the Government might re-appoint him. The Government did not adopt that course, for the reason that it might be considered an evasion of the Statute.
§ MR. DILLWYN
said, he quite understood what the hon. and learned Gentleman had said. He was glad to hear that there was no intention at present to repeal the Statute, which he considered a very salutary one. For many reasons he was extremely unwilling to bring forward this Resolution, and he only did so from a sense of duty. [Cries of "Oh!"] He considered it was advisable that those who were opposed to this measure should express their opinions frankly and fairly. There was a very strong feeling outside the House on this point, that there were many exalted personages in this country who received high appointments over the heads of other officers in consequence of their connection with the Throne—appointments which they would not have received otherwise. That was believed to be so, not only in the case of his Royal Highness, but in the case of other personages who had chief commands entrusted to them in this country. That, however, was not the ground on which he now moved the rejection of the Bill. In doing so he wished emphatically to declare to the House that it was not 1699 from any want of loyalty to Her Majesty or respect for His Royal Highness, whom he believed to be an estimable person and an excellent officer; but he contended that if these appointments were given to exalted personages they ought to hold them upon the conditions on which other persons held them. His Royal Highness—or whoever else was entrusted with the command in India— enjoyed high pay, great power, a good position, and many great privileges. What he said was this—and he thought a very large proportion of the country agreed with him—that those who had this great power and these great privileges, on account of their relationship to the Throne—which he did not complain of—should take the rough with the smooth — that they should not have all the good things, but should take the disabilities and the inconveniences which attached to the positions with which they were entrusted. That was his chief reason for moving the rejection of this Bill. He was bound to say that the House were asked to grant these special privileges to His Royal Highness at a very unseasonable time. [An hon. MEMBER: The Jubilee.] Mr. Dillywn said he would say nothing about the year of Jubilee; but the political horizon of India was not so satisfactory that just now, of all other times, they should give to his Royal Highness leave to come home to see his respected mother. He almost doubted whether his Royal Highness himself would wish to leave India at this particular crisis. They had troops on the North-West Frontier, where they did not know what might turn up; and in Burmah, again, they had a considerable army. He had now stated, he hoped with all respect to Her Majesty and his Royal Highness, the reasons that had induced him to make this Motion. He repeated that it was a sense of duty only which impelled him to move the rejection of the Bill.
§ SIR JOHN SWINBURNE (Staffordshire, Lichfield),
in seconding the Amendment, said, that high places in the Army and the Navy were being filled by exalted personages. He would refer to a few examples. He hoped the House would acquit him of any want of respect or loyalty to the Queen in the course he was taking. In the first place, His Royal Highness the 1700 Duke of Cambridge—the Commander-in-Chief—had never served as ensign, lieutenant, captain, major, or lieutenant-colonel. [Cries of "Order!"]
§ MR. PULESTON (Devonport)
I rise to Order. I wish to submit to you, Sir, whether the hon. Baronet is in Order, and is speaking to the Question before the House, in referring to the names of these Royal personages, who hold appointments in the Army, as he is proceeding to do?
§ MR. SPEAKER
The specific point of this Bill is the question of leave to His Royal Highness the Duke of Con-naught. The hon. Member certainly appears to me to be travelling beyond the question before the House in discussing the position of the members of the Royal Family.
§ MR. E. ROBERTSON (Dundee)
I wish to know, Sir, whether, in discussing this Bill, we shall not be at liberty to consider the practice of appointing to high positions in the Army and the Navy members of the Royal Family?
§ MR. SPEAKER
That would certainly be out of Order.
§ MR. ARTHUR O'CONNOR (Donegal, E.)
On the question of Order, Mr. Speaker, I should like to ask you, whether you will be good enough to direct the Clerk at the Table to take down that ruling as a precedent?
§ MR. SPEAKER
I shall do nothing of the sort.
§ SIR JOHN SWINBURNE
said, he brought the other cases forward as an illustration of his argument; but, in accordance with the Speaker's ruling, he should try to avoid them. But there were in the Army and Navy three or four of the highest positions held by exalted persons, and the consequence was that officers of the Army and Navy had been precluded from obtaining these high appointments. [Cries of "No, no!"] He would give as an illustration the case of the hon. and gallant Member for Southampton (Admiral Sir John Commerell)—one of the most gallant Admirals in the Navy—who found that his prospects of hoisting his flag as Commander of the Mediterranean Squadron were very materially diminshed—
§ MR. SPEAKER
The clause of this Bill—and the only clause—relates to the return of His Royal Highness the Duke of Connaught without the resignation of 1701 his appointment, and the remarks of the hon. Baronet are not pertinent to that.
§ SIR JOHN SWINBURNE
said, that in seconding the Amendment of the hon. Member for Swansea, he merely wished to suggest that an opportunity had occurred when His Royal Highness-finding his Royal duties incompatible with his military duties—might gracefully retire from the post he filled and allow some distinguished military officer to take his place. He would only refer for a moment to the enormous amount of ineffective service both in the Army and Navy in consequence of these positions being held by persons of exalted social rank. Our Army and Navy Estimates now amounted to £31,000,000, and one-sixth of that was for pay, pensions, and retirements, because naval and military officers could see no chance of promotion, or of obtaining these high positions. There were now some 600 or 700 lieutenants in the Royal Navy—
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Member is palpably evading the ruling of the Chair.
§ As the hon. Baronet did not rise to continue his remarks,
§ MR. SPEAKER
Has the hon. Gentleman concluded by seconding the Motion?
§ SIR JOHN SWINBURNE
said: I have great pleasure in seconding the Amendment.
§ Amendment proposed, to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words "upon this day six months."—(Mr. Dillwyn.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)
said, he wished to state the reasons which had induced him to put an Amendment to the Bill upon the Paper. He had not done so in any spirit of disloyalty— [laughter]—though some persons might look upon it in that light. He—like the hon. Member for Swansea, Mr. Dillwyn—had acted merely in discharge of a public duty. He objected to the Bill on the ground that it was special legislation, for which there was no necessity, and which did not affect any large section of the community. Although the occasion might be interesting, it could not be contended that it was a public duty for His Royal High- 1702 ness to return to England; and he, therefore, protested against the proposed legislation. If the hon. and learned Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for India could say that such legislation would be undertaken with regard to Sir Frederick Roberts or Lord Wolseley, there might be some show of reason in proposing it. he thought the opportunity was a convenient one for protesting against His Royal Highness holding such an appointment as that in question. [Cries of "Question!"] He was arguing that if His Royal Highness had not been appointed at all the Bill would not be required, and now that he was appointed it was doubly unnecessary, he should like to know whether the Nation would be called upon to pay His Royal Highness's expenses home, for if the journey were undertaken the Nation, in the circumstances, certainly ought not to be called upon to pay the expense.
§ MR. BRADLAUGH (Northampton)
said, that, with all due respect to the opinion given by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Under Secretary of State for India (Sir John Gorst) he (Mr. Bradlaugh) was inclined to think that Section 79 of the Statute 3 & 4 Will. IV. c. 85 merely provided that the salary of the Commander-in-Chief should cease as a consequence of what the Act declared to be a resignation and avoidance of the office. This Bill said that the departure of His Royal Highness should not be a resignation or avoidance of the office, and he would respectfully submit that if the resignation and avoidance were cleared away ail the consequences attaching thereto would also be cleared away. He would suggest that Her Majesty's Government should distinctly state that there was no intention whatever to impose a burden. Even if his contention were not accepted by the Government, he thought it would be desirable to introduce words so as to clear up the legal doubt, and make the point quite clear.
§ MR. PICTON (Leicester),
who had placed on the Paper the following Amendment—That in the opinion of this House it is unadvisable to pass a Bill for the purpose of conferring special or exceptional privilege on any commanding officer of Her Majesty's Forces, unless when such a measure is required for the due recognition of extraordinary personal services to the nation,1703 said, he was as anxious as the most loyal subject of Her Majesty that His Royal Highness the Duke of Connaught should take his share in the rejoicings and ceremonies of this year; but he held that the Bill was unnecessary. His Royal Highness might have resigned and been re-appointed; or, he thought, power would have been found in the Government of India Act, which enabled Her Majesty, by Order in Council, to alter and regulate the terms and conditions of Service under which persons hold their Commissions. But the real point was whether or not it was desirable, for purposes of mere personal convenience, to set the whole legislative machinery of the Empire in motion. This Bill was an illustration of the saying that the British Parliament was like an elephant's trunk, which could pick up a pin or rend an oak. By an act of its omnipotent power it could unite nations or dissolve a marriage between an ill-matched couple; and it had been recently suggested by the editor of an evening paper that its power might be used to declare two persons to be man and wife who had never been legally married. But he maintained that, as a general rule, the Imperial power of the Legislature should only be invoked for purposes affecting the interests of the whole commonwealth. There were, of course, sometimes cases of extraordinary suffering, or gross personal wrong, which did indirectly affect the commonwealth, and create a scandal of sufficient magnitude and public interest to require a special Act of Parliament to deal with it. There was, for instance, a case in which a special Act had been passed for the purpose of securing to a particular family the possession and enjoyment of certain estates that had been wasted by a malignant pretender. And it was suggested by the newspaper previously mentioned that the power of Parliament would be well employed in passing an Act to relieve the misery of an individual caused by the special brutality and villiany of one man, on the ground that such unpunished villiany was a public shame and scandal. He had no doubt, however, that very many hon. Members would object, in such a case, to the power of Parliament being invoked for what would be considered private ends. But if they were right in that objection, how could they support the Bill before 1704 them for the mere private convenience of a Royal Prince, who wanted to be relieved of his public responsibilities in order that he might come to England to take a part in family rejoicings? He thought the legislative machinery should not be set in motion for a purely personal object. It would be said that an exception should be made, because this was the case of an illustrious Prince. The fact of His Royal Highness the Duke of Con-naught being a Prince was just the reason for not passing this particular Bill, and making an exception in his favour. Persons of such high station ought to set an example of uncomplaining obedience to the law. The people liked to see persons in exalted stations taking the rough with the smooth, and setting the example of uncomplaining obedience to the law; and nothing endeared exalted persons to the public affection more than such an obedience. It was singular what little sacrifices in persons of high station were looked upon as heroic; for them to face a shower of rain out of good nature was thought almost as much of as for a common soldier to face a shower of grape. This Bill was an abuse of Parliamentary omnipotence. Seeing that popularity could be so easily obtained, he thought that responsibilities ought to be fearlessly accepted, and that for the Government to bring forward a Bill of this kind was unwise in the interest of that loyalty which they desired should be always cherished towards the Throne of this Realm.
§ MR. CREMER (Shoreditch, Haggerston)
said, he regretted that the hon. Member for Swansea (Mr. Dillwyn) should have felt it his duty to oppose the Bill, because the time of the House would be wasted in a somewhat useless discussion. Nevertheless, he intended to vote with the hon. Member, because he could not but regard the Bill as a piece of class legislation, for which there was no justification. If "Tommy Atkins"—whose interest was quite as dear to him as that of His Royal Highness—with his body covered with wounds received in the service of his country, had desired to return homo to celebrate his father and mother's silver or golden wedding, or on the occasion of domestic affliction, the Government would not have undertaken to introduce such a Bill for 1705 his benefit. He was not aware of His Royal Highness having earned any special distinction, and he failed to see what the Duke of Connaught had done to justify such a measure. Had he not been fortunate enough to hare been born Duke of Connaught he would not have been accorded such a privilege. He objected to special legislation of this kind, even when the person concerned was a son of Her Majesty.
§ GENERAL GOLDSWORTHY (Hammersmith)
said, that the reason this Act was necessary for the Duke of Con-naught was that he was Commander-in-Chief, whereas a private soldier could get leave without an Act of Parliament; but with reference to the argument about "Tommy Atkins," he protested—as one who had been a regimental and staff officer for many years— against the suggestion that the interests of private soldiers were not taken into consideration. On all occasions when there were domestic circumstances in the case of private soldiers requiring leave of absence, the commanding officer strained a point to give them leave.
§ MR. CREMER
said, he should like to ask whether that privilege had ever been extended so far that private soldiers had been permitted to return from India for such purposes?
§ GENERAL GOLDSWORTHY
said, similar cases could not arise; but he happened to know there bad been cases where private soldiers had been allowed to return home from India. Of course there was the money difficulty for the passage; but commanding officers did consider the welfare of their men, and would strain a point, if a troop-ship were going home, and there was room for them, to obtain them a passage; whilst this Bill was necessary, because His Royal Highness the Duke of Connaught hold the position of Commander-in-Chief in Bombay. He admitted that the Government had made a tactical mistake in calling it the "Duke of Connaught's Leave Bill," and should be glad if it were extended to all Commanders-in-Chief, which would probably have mot the objections of hon. Members opposite. He (General Goldsworthy) had himself been Assistant Adjutant General of the District in the South of Ireland at the same time as His Royal Highness was serving there. It was a long time—[An hon. MEMBER: Six months.]—more than that. His Royal Highness was in 1706 command of a battalion and performed his duties to the full satisfaction of the General, and as well as any officer could do. He (General Goldsworthy) himself could also bear testimony to the efficient way in which His Royal Highness performed his duties as an officer, and to the fact that he was never in the habit of taking advantage of his position as a Member of the Royal Family to ask for any special privilege which any other officer might not have asked for. He should support the Bill.
§ MR. CHILDERS (Edinburgh, S.)
said, the state of the matter was this—that during the last century the voyage to and from India occupied not less than a year, or even a year and a-half. In 1833, when the voyage took nine months, or even a year, it was thought right by Parliament that there should be a distinct prohibition put upon a practice, in former days not very uncommon, under which officers appointed to very high positions in India spent a large amount of time in this country. The Act of Parliament provided that the officers holding certain high appointments in the Military and Civil Services in India—namely, the Governor General, the Governors of the Presidencies, the Commander-in-Chief, and the Commanders-in-Chief of the Presidencies, should not be permitted to leave their posts without ipso facto vacating them. But what was the present position of the matter with respect to persons holding high offices, whether civil or military, in distant parts of the world? When he held the Office of First Lord of the Admiralty and Secretary for War, it was in his power to give leave of absence to persons holding the highest military and naval positions at greater distances than India. During his tenure of Office at the Admiralty, leave had boon given to the Naval Commander-in-Chief in China, and to the Naval Commander-in-Chief in the Pacific. In the same way leave could be given by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs to Ambassadors, and by the Secretary for the Colonies to Colonial Governors. Only a few years ago it was proposed by a Royal Commission that the Commander-in-Chief of a Presidency should cease to be so designated, and should, for the future, be entitled, "the General commanding in the Presidency of Madras or Bombay." Now, if this proposal had been carried into effect, the officer holding the position filled by His 1707 Royal Highness the Duke of Can-naught could have obtained leave of absence from the Secretary of State for War. Under these circumstances, it would be altogether wrong to reject this measure, and for the House to lay down that an officer holding an appointment of that kind ought to be restrained from having leave, if the Governor General and the Secretary of State thought it right that he should have such leave; and more especially when officers holding similar appointments at a greater distance might obtain it. Then the question arose, was it reasonable to maintain a distinction by which one class of officers should be absolutely prohibited from leaving their commands, while others in similar or more important positions should be at liberty to do so. How should they deal with this particular Bill? It seemed to him that the clause in the Act of 1833 was altogether obsolete, and that it would be desirable, at the earliest possible moment, to bring in a Bill in order to repeal the restriction which he had pointed out and enable the Governor General and Secretary of State to grant leave to all the high officials whom he had already named. If the House was of that opinion, the next question they had to consider would be, whether they should pass the present Bill, or let it to be postponed with a view of passing within a short time a Bill repealing those restrictions. Considering the pressure of Business, he thought it would be inexpedient to substitute for this Bill a general measure; and if they received an assurance that the Government would, as soon as possible, bring in a Bill repealing altogether the clause in the Act of 1833, he could not see why the House, under all the circumstance?, should reject the present proposal.
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. W. H. SMITH) (Strand, Westminster)
I rise at once in response to the appeal of the right hon. Gentleman. The Government will certainly introduce the Bill which the right hon. Gentleman has suggested. We feel that there is not only no objection to the course indicated, but that very great advantage is to be derived from it in the public interest. There are occasions on which the public interest is greatly served by an opportunity of consulting with officers high in command and holding positions of great responsibility in different parts of the world. In the 1708 administration of Departments, I have found great advantage in being able to confer personally with officers who have come straight home from those commands, returning again to them. Therefore, the circumstances being so completely changed from what they were when the Act of 1833 was passed, render it advisable in the public interest that these officers in India should be in a position to be recalled home for a few weeks to confer with the Government, and to obtain that leave which every other officer subordinate to them is entitled to, and does obtain, at the present time. The hon. Member for Northampton has a doubt as to the application of the Act with regard to pay and allowances to His Royal Highness. I can give the hon. Gentleman the assurance that Her Majesty's Government are advised that the Act operates to prevent the pay and allowances being given; but, whether it does or not, I will undertake that His Royal Highness shall not draw either pay or allowances during the period of leave. It is hardly necessary that I should refer to the observations which have been made by hon. Gentlemen with regard to this measure. The Government have acted frankly in bringing it forward in the form in which it has been presented to the House; and we have not the slightest doubt that it will be accepted by the House as a reasonable and proper measure under the circumstances. The hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. Picton) referred to the fact that it was only reasonable to suppose that His Royal Highness should return to take part in an event which affords satisfaction to the whole of the United Kingdom. I think that any man who stands in the relation of parent to a family mu3t feel that it is not only reasonable, but most fitting and desirable, that the Family of the Queen should be around her upon an occasion which is one of rejoicing, of satisfaction, and of happiness to the whole of Her Majesty's subjects. With regard to the observations of the hon. Member for Shoreditch (Mr. Cremer), there is no officer serving Her Majesty under the rank of Commander-in-Chief in India who is entitled to leave under circumstances such. as these who does not get it with pay and allowances, and leave is given in every reasonable case if the exigencies of the Service permit. Reference has been made by the hon. Member for 1709 Swansea (Mr. Dillwyn) to the condition of India and the duties of the Commander-in-Chief. I can say, without any hesitation whatever, that neither His Royal Highness nor the Governor General of India will be any party to the neglect of any duty which falls upon His Royal Highness. If the circumstances of the day are such as to render it at all desirable or necessary that His Royal Highness should remain in India when the time comes for his departure, we may regret the circumstances, but certainly His Royal Highness will not come home. There is, however, no reason to believe, from the events which are happening, that the departure of His Royal Highness will have to be postponed, or that any of the sinister forebodings in which the hon. Member has indulged will be fulfilled. I trust the House will not be put to the trouble of a Division on a question of this kind; and that, although there may be some difference of opinion on the subject, hon. Members will allow a measure of this character to be accepted by the House with that unanimity which is usually extended to proposals of this kind, which in themselves are reasonable and justifiable, and which, I am sure, will be accepted by the country as graceful and fitting under all the circumstances.
§ SIR WILFRID LAWSON (Cumberland, Cockermouth)
said. he did not think this was so exciting a question as some of his hon. Friends around him seemed to think, nor did he consider it to be a matter of high Constitutional policy which need keep them there till 6 o'clock in the morning. The real point was whether the Bill was, on the whole, for the public good. Now, there were three parties to the Bill. First, there was the Duke of Connaught himself; secondly, there were the people of India; and thirdly, there were the people of England. With regard to the Duke of Connaught—[cries of "The Queen!" from the Ministerial Benches.] Some hon. Members opposite said "The Queen!" He begged to assure those hon. Members that it was a most unconstitutional practice to bring the name of the Sovereign into the debates of that House, and whatever might be done on the other side of the House he should scrupulously abstain from doing so. If the Duke of Connaught wanted to come home to the Jubilee, why should he not? It might be a pleasure to His Royal 1710 Highness, though, for his part, he should think it would be the greatest pleasure to keep away from such a performance. It appeared to him to be one of the most intolerable of nuisances. However, if His Royal Highness wished to come, and thought it a matter of duty, why should he not? Then there were the people of India. His hon. Friend below him seemed to be greatly alarmed at what might happen in India. But did his hon. Friend really think that the Duke of Connaught's presence in India would do anything to avert any danger which might be impending? That was a most extraordinary idea. There were plenty of officers who might be sent out to take his place. There was, for example, the hon. and gallant Member for Hammersmith (General Goldsworthy). The third party to be considered were the people of England. It had been solemnly declared from the Front Bench opposite that this step would not cost the people of this country one penny, and it would give them, the great pleasure of bringing the Royal Duke home to be stared at when the Jubilee celebrations took place, and that was an amusement which the English people liked better than any other people in the world. Under these circumstances, he did not see any great objection to this Bill, and so he would vote against his hon. Friend.
§ SIR GEORGE CAMPBELL (Kirkcaldy, &c.)
said, he did not so much object to the Bill as to the waste of the time of the House of Commons in introducing what he considered to be a totally unnecessary Bill, especially when there were many more important measures waiting to be discussed. He thought it would have been much less invidious if the Government had taken upon themselves the responsibility of saying that it was a reasonable thing that the Duke should be allowed to come away entirely without pay, and of re-appointing him. There were grave objections to the proposals of the right hon. Member for Edinburgh to introduce a general measure, which would lead to a still further waste of time.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
said, that they had seen the right hon. Member for Edinburgh (Mr. Childers) get up and propose some sort of transaction to the right hon. Gentlemen sitting opposite him. There was one sound rule in that House which he trusted 1711 would always be followed, at least in that part of the House where he sat. It was that whenever there was the slightest sign of a bargain or arrangement between the two Front Benches they ought invariably to upset it. He should not be surprised if the general Bill referred to by the right hon. Gentleman were blocked; a strong proof that the proposal was an improper one was that it was necessary to bring in a Bill to give effect to it. Whether it was desirable or undesirable that these great and lucrative places should be given to Royal Princes was open to question; but he thought when any of these places were given to a Royal Prince the holder of it should sink the Prince in the soldier. If any Governor General or Commander-in-Chief, who was not a Royal Prince, wished to come home to see his mother, or if his mother was anxious to see him, would anybody bring in a Bill to enable him to do so? He should say not. [Ministerial cries of "Divide!"] If there was any discussion on a Bill introduced by the Government, there was an immediate cry of Obstruction, and the Leader of the House began to lecture them. They were perpetually told by the right hon. Gentleman that they were obstructing the Coercion Bill—["Order, order! "and "Divide!"]—for which everything else was set aside. ["Divide!"] The action of the Government showed how hollow all their protests were against Obstruction, when they set aside important Business in order to bring forward this Bill. ["Divide!"] If hon. Members opposite persist in their interruptions, he would move the adjournment. He told them that he and his hon. Friends were not going to be crushed down by a Party who tried to break, destroy, and put an end to the debates in the House. ["Order, order!"]
§ MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Member is not speaking to the Question before the House.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE
said, that he was about to invoke the Speaker's protection. Important Business was being delayed, and the House was asked to occupy itself with a Bill which was an obsequious and servile Bill, brought in to suit the private convenience of a Royal Prince. He would leave it to the country to judge between the Opposition and hon. Gentlemen on the other side as to who were most anxious that the 1712 real and true Business of the country should be proceeded with.
§ SIR WILLIAM PLOWDEN (Wolverhampton, W.)
said, that the First Lord of the Treasury had given them an undertaking that the Duke of Connaught would not draw any pay and allowances during his absence from duty. He wished to ask whether there was any objection to insert the words ''without pay and allowances" in the Bill?
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
That is wholly unnecessary. Surely my undertaking is sufficient.
§ SIR WILLIAM PLOWDEN
I quite accept the right hon. Gentleman's undertaking. But this Bill is a precedent for the general measure now announced.
§ MR. SCHWANN (Manchester, N.)
wished to know whether it was clearly understood that the travelling expenses of the return of the Duke of Connaught to this country and back to India would be defrayed by His Royal Highness or by the Treasury?
§ No audible answer being given,
DR. TANNEE (Cork Co., Mid)
said, he must complain of the want of courtesy of the right hon. Gentleman. The question put by the Member for Manchester ought to be answered. He considered that no sufficient reasons had been advanced in support of the Bill. The Chief Secretary for India had drawn attention to the dangers and difficulties that beset India; and was this a time when the Commander-in-Chief should evacuate his post? He thought they had not received the assurances from the Government that they were entitled to receive, and if they obtained those assurances, the Irish Members would agree to the Bill without a Division.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:— Ayes 318; Noes 45: Majority 273.—(Div. List, No. 135.)
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill read a second time.
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
I think, Sir, I may now make an appeal to the House to pass this Bill through its remaining stages—[Cries of "No!" from the Opposition Benches]—if that is in accordance with the general sense of the House. [Renewed cries of "No!"] In dealing with a measure of this character, which is confined and limited, I think it is only reasonable and fitting that the House should expedite its passing, 1713 ["No!"] I beg to move, Sir, that you do now leave the Chair.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair."—(Mr. W. H. Smith.)
§ MR. DILLWYN
I appeal to you, Sir, whether it is in Order for the right hon. Gentleman to take the remaining stages of the Bill now?
§ MR. SPEAKER
It is perfectly in Order for the right hon. Gentleman to make the Motion, if it is done with the general assent of the House.
§ MR. MAURICE HEALY (Cork)
Can it be done without the unanimous assent of the House?
§ MR. SPEAKER
The general assent of the House is all that is necessary.
§ DR. TANNER (Cork Co., Mid)
Notice has been given of opposition to the Motion for going into Committee upon the Bill.
§ MR. SPEAKER
That is impossible, the period for receiving Notices on that stage not having yet arrived.
§ DR. TANNER
I have just handed the Notice in.
§ Question put. [No, no!"]
§ MR. SPEAKER
I do not think that sufficient general assent has been given. What day does the right hon. Gentleman propose to fix for the Committee?
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
As the general assent of the House has not been given to the Motion I will put the Committee down for to-morrow.
§ Bill committed for To-morrow.