§ MR. PARNELL (Cork City)
, who had given the following Notice:—'O'Donnell v. Walter' (Authenticity of Letters),—Select Committee, with power to send for persons, papers, and records, and to examine witnesses on oath, to inquire and report as to the authenticity of the letters affecting Members of this House read by the Attorney General at the trial O'Donnell v. Walter and another.'said: I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether he will afford facilities for enabling the judgment of the House to be taken on the Motion for a Select Committee standing in the name of the hon. Member for Cork City in the list of Notices of Motion for to-day?
§ THE FIRST LORD (Mr. W. H. SMITH) (Strand, Westminster)
Mr. Speaker, the Government retain the opinion which they have expressed, in which the House concurred by a large 1102 majority last year, that the proposed tribunal is altogether unfit to deal with the question—limited as it is in scope and character—which the hon. Member proposes to refer to it; but they are willing to propose to Parliament to pass an Act appointing a Commission, which should consist wholly or mainly of Judges, with full powers, as in the case of other Statutory Commissions, to inquire into the allegations and charges made against Members of Parliament by the defendants in the recent action of "O'Donnell v. Walter and another." It has always appeared to the Government that the proper course for hon. Members concerned was to appeal to the Courts of Law for a complete examination of those charges. But if, for reasons of their own, they are unwilling to avail themselves of their right to do so, the Government are prepared to offer the alternative which I have proposed; but they are not, under these circumstances, willing to give a day for the consideration of the Motion of the hon. Member.
§ MR. PARNELL
Does the right hon. Gentleman propose to place on the Notice Paper the terms of his Motion with regard to the Bill which will be necessary for the Act of Parliament to which he has referred?
§ MR. W. H. SMITH
If hon. Gentlemen are prepared to accept the offer which has been made, I am prepared to put on the Notice Paper a Motion for leave to bring in a Bill with a reference to the Judges.
§ MR. W. E. GLADSTONE (Edinburgh, Mid Lothian)
As the precise terms of the Notice will probably go far to determine the character of the Bill, I think that they should be placed on the Paper, so that we may have them in an absolutely authentic form.