HC Deb 18 August 1892 vol 7 cc450-2
MR. KEIR HARDIE (West Ham, S.)

Mr. Speaker, I rise to put a question of which I have given you private notice. Perhaps you will allow me to offer one word of explanation as to why I put the question. On Thursday last week I gave notice of an Amendment to the Address; but when the Amendment then before the House was disposed of there was so much noise and confusion that I did not even hear the Main Question put; and I anticipated that to-day there would be an opportunity of discussing the point embodied in my Amendment. I find, however, that under the ordinary Rules of the House there will be no such opportunity. The question which I desire to put now, Sir, is whether, in view of the interest that has been awakened on the question of holding an Autumn Session for the consideration of measures designed to improve the condition of the people, there is any way by which the sense of the House can now be taken for the guidance of the Ministry now in process of formation?


In reference to the first part of the hon. Gentleman's question, I have to say that I was aware that the hon. Member handed in his Amendment, and it was owing, no doubt, to a want of knowledge of the Forms of the House on the part of the hon. Member that he did not rise to move his Amendment. I put the Main Question, as hon. Gentlemen are aware, and though there was, no doubt, considerable noise in the House, and the hon. Gentleman possibly did not hear the Question put, I was not responsible for that. The Question was put, and no other Amendment was put. With reference to the question which the hon. Gentleman now asks me—whether an opportunity can be given for discussing the question—I have to say that it is not in accordance with Constitutional usage or precedent when the House meets under circumstances such as the present that there should be any discussion at all; least of all any vote come to on any question. There is a deficiency in our Parliamentary system at this moment. A Ministry has gone out and the new Ministry has not yet come in. The Members of that Ministry are not yet qualified to take their seats or to answer any questions. It is, I repeat, in accordance with Parliamentary usage and Constitutional custom that nothing can be done on the present occasion, but with one purpose, and that purpose, for which the House meets to-day, is to supply that deficiency by moving the Writs to enable the incoming Ministry to become duly qualified Members of the House. Under these circumstances I am sorry to have to inform the hon. Member that there is nothing else before the House at present.


In the event of the House being unanimous now, I wish to ask you further, Sir, is it possible to have the question raised?


There is no responsible Ministry of the Crown to give a definite answer to the question, and it is quite beyond the ordinary usage and custom of Parliament for the House to discuss questions in the absence of the responsible advisers of the Crown.

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