HC Deb 14 February 1893 vol 8 cc1397-8

I rise to make the second Motion which stands on the Paper in my name—namely, "That this House do meet To-morrow at Two of the clock." I am aware that there are Members of this House, and hon. Friends of my own, who do not altogether concur with me in regard to this Motion. I will only say that I understand the position to be as follows. It was, I think, not until 1853 that the House began to meet on Wednesdays at 12 o'clock. As soon as it did so begin this Motion was introduced, under a Liberal Government I may observe, and it continued to be annually introduced without interruption from that time to the present. It would be absurd and most unwarrantable on my part to appeal to my hon. Friends on this side of the House, in virtue of their general sympathies on political questions, to extend those sympathies to a Motion of this character, but I have thought it right to make this Motion, because I think it one which is not only fortified by custom, but is rational.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do meet To-morrow at Two of the clock."—(Mr. W. E. Gladstone.)

MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)

During the last Parliament I invariably voted for this Motion. My reason was that there was a Conservative majority, and I felt it would be far better to go to Church than to waste our time here in fruitless discussion. I am happy to say that we have now got a Liberal majority, and we can hope to be able to pass any Liberal Bills that are brought forward on Wednesdays. To-morrow there is a most important Bill down with regard to the election of, and qualification for, Local Authorities. If we do not meet until 2 o'clock I think it is very possible that we shall not be able to get a Division by 6 o'clock, because the question is of great interest, and a very large number of Members will probably wish to take part in the discussion. Under these circumstances I really do feel it my duty to oppose this Motion, and to go to a Division against it. The right hon. Gentleman has said it is an old custom, but to my mind it is one of those customs which are "more honoured in the breach than the observance."

MR. CONYBEARE (Cornwall, Camborne)

I concur with my hon. Friend in the position he has taken up in regard to this Motion, and I wish to join with him in his protest against what I cannot but regard as something like a waste of time in view of the vast amount of serious and important work we have before us. I was going to offer a suggestion which I thought. would probably meet the difficulty, and I am not at all desirous of opposing the wish of hon. Members to attend Divine Service on Ash Wednesday if they desire to do so; but it appears to me that the views of such hon. Gentlemen might be reasonably met if we were to put the Crypt to some use. I would ask whether it would not be possible to have a service at 11 o'clock in the Chapel under St. Stephen's Hall to accommodate those hon. Members who desire to attend? We have a Chaplain, and I do not think he would object to officiate at such a service. We should then be able to meet at 12 o'clock, and so avoid interference with important work.

Question put.

The house divided: — Ayes 307; Noes 161.—(Division List, No. 10.)