HC Deb 28 May 1895 vol 34 cc470-5
MR. J. W. MACLURE (Lancashire, S.E., Stretford),

on rising to move that the House at its rising do adjourn until Thursday, was received with cheers and ironical cheers. He said that, in making this Motion, he was most desirous of doing that which the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer had expressed his wish to do, namely, to please everybody. He believed that if his Motion were carried it would please everybody except the hon. Gentleman who had given notice of an Amendment to it. He did not believe that the Government wished to take away from hon. Members the opportunity of going to the Derby. All he could say was that many hon. Members intended to go, and that they hoped to see many Members of the Government there, because they knew that several of them were going. To deprive hon. Members of the opportunity of going would be to show great disrespect to the Government, seeing that at the head of the Administration was one of the most noble patrons of sport, a nobleman who had won the blue riband of the turf with as great honour as he had won the blue riband he wore over his breast. He did not wish to waste the time of the House, and he would therefore be extremely short. If they had one Member one vote he believed that only one man would vote against the Motion for the Adjournment over to-morrow. Why should they disestablish all our national undertakings? It was quite bad enough to disestablish the Welsh Church and to take away their plurality voting, but let them not take away the pleasure of going to the Derby, which was one of those national institutions which the whole House sympathised with. It was true there were objections made to it on account of betting, but there was as much betting on the Oxford and Cambridge boat-race, or on the various cricket matches as on the Derby. He had never made a bet in his life, and he did not go down to the Derby to bet, but he did think they ought to maintain that national institution, identified as it was with one of the most honoured names this country ever knew, and connected, as it had been, with the present Prime Minister. He sincerely trusted the House would consider the very mild and short way in which he had proposed this Motion, and would agree to it.

MR. G. T. KENYON (Denbigh District) rose to second the Motion of his hon. Friend, but not for the same reason. He rose in the interest of Wales. To-morrow was a very important day in Wales; there were, he believed, no fewer than 15 important meetings announced for different hours in different parts of Wales, at all of which he hoped to put in an appearance. The Welsh were not a horse-racing people, but they were extremely fond of meetings. Amongst other meetings to-morrow was an Eisteddfod; another was a meeting of the Church Defence Association, at which the whole position of the Welsh Church was to be considered, and at which would be some singing. At Two o'clock in the afternoon there was to be a meeting of the Liberation Society, at which several Bishops had already promised to put in an appearance. There was a meeting, also, to protest against the Amendment of the junior Member for Preston. [Cries of "Order!"]


said, the hon. Member was not adhering to the question before the House.


said, there was also a meeting to protest against the degradation caused by the vicious practice of horse-racing, and two or three Earls were announced to be present. He did not see how he could attend all these meetings, and so do his duty to his constituents, unless the Motion were carried. He concluded by seconding the Motion. [Cries of "Divide!"]

* SIR JOHN LENG (Dundee)

said, the hon. Member for the Stretford Division of Lancashire had tempted him to accompany him to the Derby by assuring him that he had got the correct card, and could give him a sure tip as to the winner. When he did not succumb to that temptation, the hon. Member had endeavoured to terrify him by blocking a Bill in which he was interested. What, he asked, were hon. Members sent to the House for—for business or pleasure; work or play? The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition recently said, "Let us play;" but he spoke of playing within the walls of the House, and he was quite sure the right hon. Gentleman would never move or support a Motion for the Adjournment of the, House in. order that he might take part in the game in which he delighted either at Tooting or St. Andrews. If they were to turn their work into play, and were now and again to shut up the House, he was very much afraid that their constituents would begin to think that they might as well shut up the House altogether. The hon. Member had expressed great apprehension that he would be prevented from going to the Derby, but why should not he and other Members go? Hon. Members on that side of the House did not wish to hinder them, and were quite tolerant of their pleasures and recreations. Some of them had been to the Derby, but they had no desire to go again. No one wished to prevent hon. Members from taking a day at Epsom, Newmarket, or Doncaster, but why should those who did so wish to hinder others from going on with the business of the House? He pointed out that the Whitsuntide holidays would begin on Friday. The right hon. Gentleman who formerly led the House had said that the time of Parliament was the treasure of the people, but he was very much afraid that many hon. Members thought the time of Parliament was merely the pastime of its Members. They attempted many, but he was afraid they accomplished too few tings there, and the waste of time and effort was most deplorable, but after some experience of it they all became reconciled to it as a part of the political game. The inevitable result, if this continued, however, would be that the House would seriously suffer in the estimation of the people. The first Order of the Day to-morrow was a Bill for extending County Councils to Ireland, which would give to Members of the great Unionist Party on both sides of the House, an opportunity of showing whether they were really willing to give to Ireland what had been given to England, Scotland, and Wales. He had given notice of an Amendment to the Motion to leave out all after "House," and insert— having been summoned for the despatch of important business, declines to surrender a sitting for the personal enjoyment of such of its Members as desire to attend the Derby. But he should be content to vote directly against the Motion, as a protest against these continual efforts to fritter away the valuable time of the House.

MR. POWELL WILLIAMS (Birmingham, S.)

said, he proposed, on this occasion, for the first time, to vote in favour of the Resolution, because he thought the House could quite as profitably plough the sands upon Epsom Downs as in the House itself.

MR. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)

said, he had voted against this Resolution hitherto, but as he thought the House might as well be closed as open to-morrow, he intended to vote for the Motion. If the Irish Bill which was to be considered to-morrow had been a practicable Bill, and one likely to be passed, he should have been willing to work there; but, because the House would not be profitably occupying its time, he supported the Motion.


said, he was not aware of any public or business body which had ever dreamed of adjourning its business for a horse-race. Near the town of Hull, at Beverley, a racecourse had unfortunately been provided in the last few years, and the officials connected with the company to which he had referred stated that it had proved utterly demoralising to the men and unsatisfactory in every way. Now the town of Hull, like every other large town, had been protesting against the practice of betting and gambling in consequence of horse-racing, and he could not help saying that he felt a certain amount of surprise—he might almost say of horror—at the fact that his hon. Friend opposite, who had always told him that he was a prominent member of the Church, should not have seen that this practice of horse-racing was seriously tending to the commercial injury of the nation. In presence of the keen competition with which we had to deal, the absence of men from their work, not for one day only, but for many days together, was bound to have a demoralising effect on them and to seriously interfere with business. In fact the practice of horse-racing was becoming a national calamity, and he certainly thought the time of the House ought not to be wasted year after year in discussing the question of these Adjournments. If they had no business to deal with to-morrow, they had better adjourn the House for the rest of the week. One argument which had been used with regard to the officials of the House, namely, that they required a holiday, was absurd. It was notorious that the officials of the House were not hard worked. The House adjourned for one half of the year, and comparing the work of the House with that of any other establishment there certainly was no reason for advancing this as an argument for the Adjournment. Personally, he thought the increase of horse-racing, promoted and encouraged as it was by half the newspapers being filled with sporting intelligence, was not tending to improve the nation from a moral and commercial point of view.

MR. ALPHEUS C. MORTON (Peterborough)

said, he should like to ask, whether, if the Motion were defeated on that occasion it would put an end to the custom of moving the Adjournment of the House over Derby Day? He trusted that the time would arrive when the House would do away with the custom altogether.


said, the question under discussion was the Adjournment of the House until Thursday, and not the practice of the House in permitting private Members to make the Motion.


said, surely if this Motion were negatived for the fourth time it should put an end to the custom. He hoped, at all events, that the House would have the good sense to again negative the Motion to-day. He did not agree with the reasons given for the Adjournment by his Friend the Member for South Tyrone. The hon. Member had said that he objected to the Bill put down for the first Order to-morrow, because it was impracticable; but that hon. Member, if he went to the Derby to-morrow instead of coming down to the House, might be jumping out of the frying-pan into the fire. He thought the time had arrived when the House should fully determine that it was not the duty of hon. Members to come there to vote for Adjournments for the purpose of attending a horse-race, which after all was not a national event, and was hardly decent. [Laughter.] Hon. Members might laugh, but if they wanted to know what his own real opinion of the matter was, he would say it was not decent at all. The hon. Member who moved the Motion had told them that several Members of Her Majesty's Government were going to the race. He could hardly believe that, unless the names of those Members of the Government were given. The Government knew better. At any rate, he thought it was the duty of Members of the House not to allow such a temptation to be put in their way.

The House divided:—Ayes, 174; Noes, 221.—(Division List, No. 113.)