HC Deb 11 April 1889 vol 335 cc245-6

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether he is aware that on the 3rd April, 1882, the Leader of the House stated that the Government would "continue to do their best to carry out what is an understanding, namely, that on Friday night the Government shall do its best to keep a House"; and whether any modification of this understanding has been subsequently made with the consent of the House?


I am not aware of the opinion expressed by the right hon. Member for Mid Lothian in 1882. I should hesitate very greatly indeed to depart from any tradition which belongs to the House, or from any Rule laid down by a Minister who held the office of First Lord of the Treasury. But the circumstances to which the right hon. Gentleman refers were explained in answer to a question which he put the other night. I do not think that I could depart from the answer then given, which was to the effect that the circumstances in which the Count was moved on Friday last, and on the previous Friday, were such as not to appear to me to make it imperative on the part of the Government to endeavour to keep a House against what was apparently the wish of the great majority of hon. Members.


I should like to know whether the right hon. Gentleman has referred to what Lord Palmerston said when he obtained from the House the concession of Friday nights in lieu of the former procedure of moving the Adjournment of the House on Friday night, and for which the Government were bound to keep a House in order that the Motion might be carried?


I have not referred to what Lord Palmerston said. I have sought, as far as I could, to consult the convenience of the House, remembering always its traditions and its usages; and I am not aware that it is imperative on the part of the Government to keep a House for the discussion of Motions against the apparent wish of the great majority of the House.

MR. W. E. GLADSTONE (Edinburgh, Mid Lothian)

Will the right hon. Gentleman have the goodness to refer to the declaration of Lord Palmerston, and then consider how far, on reflection, that declaration bears on the Case? I would by no means undertake to set aside what the right hon. Gentleman has just said with respect to a case which I take to be quite exceptional—namely, when there is a general desire on the part of the House that it should not continue to sit. But apart from that case, I must say that there is no matter connected with the usages of the House, the unwritten rules of the House, more clear than the general obligation of the Government, inconvenient as I know it is to them, to keep a House on Friday night.


I will certainly refer to the statement of Lord Palmerston, and recur to the subject at a future time.