HC Deb 05 March 1888 vol 323 cc188-9
MR. SYDNEY BUXTON (Tower Hamlets, Poplar)

I beg to ask the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury a Question of which I have given him private Notice—namely, Whether it is not a fact that more than half of the whole time allotted to the Trafalgar Square debate was occupied by five Members, three of whom made two speeches each; whether he is aware that a large number of hon. Members who desired to address the House were prevented from doing so through lack of time; and whether, seeing that how the hours allotted to debate are limited, he will make an earnest appeal to right hon. and hon. Gentlemen to put what they have to say as concisely as possible, in order to give more opportunities to a larger number of hon. Members to take part in the debates of this House? I wish to explain that I have no personal feeling in this matter, as I was not one of those who desired to take part in the debate of last week.

THE FIRST LORD (Mr. W. H. SMITH) (Strand, Westminster)

I have not made any careful calculation of the time occupied by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen in the debate on Thursday and Friday last; but it undoubtedly was the case that some of the speeches were lengthy ones. As regards one or two of the speakers, it was almost unavoidable that they should be so, for when an indictment is brought against the Government the indictment must be answered; and both those who bring the indictment and those who answer it must, I am afraid, speak at great length. But if I have influence in the House, I will certainly use it in the direction to which the hon. Gentleman refers. I believe it would be more acceptable to the House that, as a rule, speeches should be concise and terse, and should be generally condensed, and that hon. Members who desire reasonably to take part in. The debate should be able to do so; and I will use any influence which I may possess to attain the object of the hon. Member.

MR. CAINE (Barrow-in-Furness)

asked whether, after the sympathetic reply of the right hon. Gentleman to the Question of the hon. Member, he would consider the desirability of the Government bringing forward the Rule which stood in his (Mr. Caine's) name limiting the duration of speeches to 20 minutes?


We should have great reluctance in imposing on the House any restrictions which can by any possibility be avoided; or to impose on the House by Rule anything which we can attain by appealing to the good sense of the House. I venture to hope that the suggestions which have been made in the direction of shortening the speeches in this House will have the effect desired by hon. Members, and that it will not be necessary to lay down positive and absolute Rules as to the length of time which should be occupied.