HC Deb 05 March 1897 vol 47 cc64-5
MR. HUBERT DUNCOMBE (Cumberland, Egremont)

I desire to ask the First Lord of the Treasury a question of which I have given him private notice—namely, whether his attention has been called to the publication of a telegraphed letter alleged to have been signed by several hon. Members of this House—[Opposition cheer]—conveying an expression of their opinion to the ruler of a Power with whom the continuation of our friendly relations is of the first importance? [Ministerial cheers.]


In answer to my hon. Friend I have to say that my attention has been called to the letter to which he refers. Without expressing any opinion upon the action of the gentlemen who signed the letter, I may say I do not anticipate any serious consequences from it. [Loud Ministerial cheers] It was signed by less than one-sixth of the Members of the House immediately after a Debate had occurred on the foreign policy of the Government, and on which no division was challenged. [Renewed Ministerial cheers.]

MR. R. PIERPOINT (Warrington)

Mr. Speaker, I desire very respectfully to ask you whether it is consonant with the spirit of the conditions under which strangers are admitted to the Members' Lobby of this House that a representative of a journal should use this privilege for the purpose of securing the signatures of Members to a document bearing upon a political question? [Ministerial cheers.]


It is obvious that the question of the hon. Member has reference to the same matter which was the subject of the last Question. I must not be taken as expressing any opinion about the facts of that case, for I do not know what the facts are; but in answer to the general question I may say that I certainly consider that it would be an abuse of the privilege—[Ministerial cheers]—granted to any gentleman representing the Press in the Lobby if he were to use that opportunity for the purpose of soliciting from Members signatures to public petitions or addresses of any kind. [Ministerial cheers.] Unless I am otherwise instructed by the House, I should deem it my duty to prevent anything of the sort taking place if it were brought to my notice. [Cheers.]

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