HC Deb 16 March 1891 vol 351 cc1072-4
MR. STOREY (Sunderland)

I desire, with the leave of the Speaker, to draw attention to a personal matter of some importance to me, though I am ill-disposed to intrude my personal affairs on the notice of the House. On Friday night the hon. Member for Ripon (Mr. Wharton), whom I have always regarded as a friend, asked a question relating to some private legal proceedings in which I have been engaged at Sunderland. Now, I believe it is unusual, and certainly it would be very inconvenient in many cases if it were the practice, to ask questions in the House concerning the private affairs of other hon. Members. But even if it were the practice, it is only fair that notice of the question should be given in accordance with the practice of the House, so that the Speaker, or the other officials of the House, might have an opportunity of pronouncing whether it was a proper question or not. Still more unusual is it that such a question should be asked without any notice whatever being given to the Member most concerned. But on Friday night the question I refer to was not on the Notice Paper, but was nevertheless put in such circumstances. It was put at the end of the list of questions, and the Home Secretary bad evidently rehearsed the little play, because he rose at once with an answer pat to the question and gave it. I think, therefore, I have a right to complain of the course taken by the hon. Member for Ripon, especially in not giving me notice. I have sent the hon. Member notice that I intend to bring the matter forward to-day—to all the addresses I could find—the Oxford and Cambridge Club, the Carlton Club, and the House of Commons—the only addresses which appear in the books to which I have access. The only excuse, if any, the hon. Member can offer for raising the question on Friday was that a few nights before I had drawn attention to the conduct of the police of the County of Durham in regard to the famous baton charge. That charge took place on the 25th of February, and the proceedings in which my name was introduced related to an affair on the 20th February, so that the hon. Member could not even plead that justification for bringing the matter before the House. I hope the House will permit me to say, first, that it is quite correct that the case was tried before a Bench packed with my political opponents, and that I failed to sustain a charge of assault against the police. ["Oh!" and cries of "Order!"] Hon. Members opposite say "Oh." I make no complaint of the Magistrates who adjudicated on that occasion, but I may tell the House that the Magistrate who was in the chair was a gentleman whom the miners of Silksworth rejected for the County Council in favour of their own secretary; that the Magistrate next to him was a gentleman whom I defeated for the Borough of Sunderland, and that the two other Magistrates on the Bench "were openly and notoriously my political and personal opponents. ["Order, order!" and a VOICE: "Monstrous!"] "Monstrous," says an hon. Member opposite. Well, I will still further earn the censure of that hon. Gentleman by making another statement—that I do not think, considering the weaknesses of ordinary human nature, that the conduct of the Magistrates is much to be condemned or complained of on the occasion; but I will say this, that the evidence before the Magistrates——


Order, order! The hon. Member is entitled to complain of a question concerning him being put to the House without proper notice having been given, but he certainly would not be in order in re-trying the case in this House.


I shall not, of course, seek to re-try the case; but I suppose I may be permitted to say that the evidence upon the case will be tested in another Court, composed of competent men of legal training—[Cries of "Order!"]—and, in these circumstances, I will venture to ask the hon. Member for Ripon to withhold his opinion until the facts—the real facts—have been placed before him and before the House.

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