HC Deb 16 March 1888 vol 323 cc1438-9
MR. HENRY H. FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)

I desire, Mr. Speaker, to ask you a Question, not so much on a point of Privilege, or of Order, or of Practice, but with reference to what may be called a Breach of the Usages of the House. This morning I received—and I have no doubt other hon. Members also received—a Circular from the hon. and gallant Member for Woolwich (Colonel Hughes), asking me to vote for some Notice of Motion which is to be brought forward on Tuesday night. The hon. and gallant Member for Woolwich says in the Circular that his Conservative Friends will undoubtedly go to a Division, and vote against the Government; and he asks for our votes. But what I want to call attention to is the fact that enclosed in the document was a post-card, and on the back of it was a letter printed— Dear Sir,—I shall vote for (or against) inquiry into the alleged grievances of certain workmen at Enfield and Woolwich Arsenal. Now, Sir, I wish to ask whether this is a practice in accordance with the Usages of the House of Commons? Is it right for one Member to send this kind of notice to another? If the practice is once allowed to begin, it will, I think, lead to very unfortunate results; and it is on that, ground, Sir, that I ask your opinion upon it.


May I be allowed to explain that I caught the idea of sending out a postcard for reply from, the right hon. Gentleman's Colleague at Wolverhampton? I received a letter signed "W. Plowden "—and I presume that the hon. Member for Wolverhampton (Sir William Plowden) was meant—inclosing postcard for my reply. It appeared to me, therefore, to be a course which would also enable me to obtain information which otherwise I could not get. I think that all who know me will feel satisfied that I would not willingly infringe any Rule, nor wilfully disobey any Order, which you, Sir, may think right to be observed.


In reply to the right hon. Gentleman, I have to state that a few minutes ago he showed me the Circular and the post-card to which he has referred; and I must say that, taking together the Circular and the postcard, the proceeding appears to me to be contrary to the best Usages and traditions of this House; and if the practice were to become prevalent, I am afraid it would tend to lower the character of this House.

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