HC Deb 18 July 1898 vol 62 cc105-41

At the commencement of public business, on the Motion— That for the remainder of the Session Government business be not interrupted under the provisions of any Standing Order regulating the Sittings of the House, and may be entered upon at any hour, though opposed; and that at the conclusion of Government business each day Mr. Speaker do adjourn the House without Question put."—(Mr. Balfour.)


I beg to move the Motion standing in my name upon the Paper on 15th July last year. I made a general statement about business and moved a similar Motion at the same time, and the House may recollect that on that occasion the right honourable Gentleman opposite recommended that the date named was, perhaps, rather too early to abrogate for the remainder of the Session the Twelve o'clock Rule. We are now three days later than the period at which a similar Motion was carried last year, and I hope the House will assent to it. I have, of course, no general statement to make about business; I made that statement last week, and, so far as I know, since then nothing has occurred in our proceedings, calling for any modification or change in that statement. I hope, therefore, the House will consent, with as brief delay as possible, to assent to the Motion as put down upon the Paper, which is entirely for the general convenience of the House, and in order to enable us at a reasonable hour to adjourn with a good conscience for our holidays.

SIR W. HARCOURT (Monmouthshire, W.)

The right honourable Gentleman has taken credit to himself for the exact date at which he has fixed this Motion being three days later than that on which the Motion was made last year. I do not know whether that has any connection with the heading on the Notice Paper, representing that this is the 19th of July, an alteration of the calendar by antedating it 24 hours, but I do not suppose that the House will be disposed to take advantage of that curious technical error to insist that this Motion should not be brought on until the 19th. I know very well by experience on both benches that to oppose this Motion at this period of the Session is not possible, but I hope we shall receive from the right honourable Gentleman an assurance that the powers to be given to him under this Motion will be exercised with moderation and discretion—


Hear, hear!


And that it is not intended in important Debates to compel the House at this time of the year to discuss them at very late hours. There are still remaining some very important matters to be discussed. For instance, there is a question I wish to ask the right honourable Gentleman, and that is with reference to the Navy Estimates. There is no doubt that that is a very important matter, and one which the House would desire very fully to discuss. But it has become more important by a statement on the part of the Government that they are intending to introduce a Supplementary Estimate. Questions have been asked of the First Lord of the Admiralty as to what was the intention of the Government as to the nature of this Supplementary Estimate. I understood, and I think the House understood, that when the regular Estimates came on on Friday we were only then to be informed with regard to' the Supplementary Estimate. When is it intended to ask the opinion of the House on this Supplementary Estimate? It is clear that the decision of the House on the Supplementary Estimate cannot be had until we have had the statement of the Government and the full particulars of the Supplementary Estimate; indeed, we ought not to be asked to come to a decision upon it until then, and I hope the House will have a definite statement on that matter. There are other matters which certainly require a full and adequate discussion—questions connected with the Home Office Vote, for example—and as the House takes a deep interest in them I hope there will be no desire and no attempt made to compress discussion into an inadequate period of time. I presume we may take it for granted, after a Motion of this kind has been made, that no new Bills which have not been already mentioned are to be brought in; that is an essential condition of a Motion of this kind. I do not mean, of course, that this remark should apply to the case of what we may call unexpected emergency which might arise, but rather to the general assurance that no now Measures shall be introduced this Session, but only those mentioned in the right honourable Gentleman's statement. The Government have given a long list of Measures which they hope in this period to pass. Those are Measures which have, more or less, come to birth and some of them are in their infancy, but the right honourable Gentleman has never referred to Measures of great importance which appeared in the Queen's Speech, and which have not come to birth at all. One of the earliest Measures hat appeared in the catalogue of the Queen's Speech was the London Municipalities Bill. That was to be a Bill for "the creation of municipalities for the administrative county of London," and he reference was contained in an early paragraph of the Queen's Speech. It was not only an early paragraph of the Queen's Speech, but it had the unusual distinction of being the principal subject of a speech by the Prime Minister before the opening of the Session. We were old that was one of the main objects of the legislation of the Government during the present Session, and the population of London was invited in the month of March to pronounce definitely in support of the scheme, in order that the Government scheme may be carried into effect. What has become of the Bill to facilitate the creation of municipalities in the administrative City of London? The County of London has pronounced its opinion on that subject, and I suppose, in consequence of that pronounced opinion, we have heard, and I hope I may anticipate we shall hear, no more of the Bill. There is another Bill we are considering now in the very short time at our disposal. We have seen how the Session has passed, and we have seen that the London Municipalities Bill has gone. But there is another Bill of far greater importance than the Municipalities Bill promised in the Queen's Speech—namely, a Bill for secondary education. We have been pressing throughout the Session that, even if it were not carried into effect, at all events, the House and the country should be placed in possession of the views of Her Majesty's Government upon secondary education, and if they did not desire that a Bill of that kind should be introduced by the Vice-President of the Committee of Education, the head of the Education Department is in another place, and it would have been possible to introduce a Measure of this transcendent importance in the House of Lords. Nothing has been done, however, up to this time. There is another Measure which I should refer to which was promised, and that is the Bill for the better ascertainment of the rights of landlord and tenant. In hot haste, and on an interim Report, we were to be called upon to vote a million and a half of money, which has gone in a direction which I think the country has fully appreciated for agricultural interest, in the hope that at least justice was to be done to the tenant farmers of England, before whose eyes this Bill was dangled so long. We have, therefore, a right to ask whether the tenants of England are to receive this Measure of equity and justice embodied in the recommendations laid down in the final Report of the Agricultural Commission. What has become of that Bill, and why have the House and the country not been put in possession of the views of the Government as to whether they are prepared to carry into effect the recommendations of the Agricultural Commission? I see before me the right honourable Gentleman, who may be called the motive power of that Commission, and I think it would be very satisfactory if we could learn the views of the Government, not only on an interim Report, which the right honourable Gentleman was so successful in carrying into effect, but on the well-considered Report which deals with other and more important interests which were recommended by the Commission. There is another question which I am desired to ask, and that has reference to Scotch business. Is it possible for the right honourable Gentleman to mention a day on which the Local Taxation Account Equivalent Grant will be taken and the Government Bill for the attendance of children at school? I do not know whether the right honourable Gentleman will give any further attention to the subject. Though I am not in a position to oppose the Motion of the right honourable Gentleman, I must say that I think the time of the House in the past might have been well spent upon some of the Bills which have not been introduced, and to which I have referred, in preference to some of those to which the Government has devoted the time of the House.

*MR. J. LOWTHER (Kent, Isle of Thanet)

The right honourable Gentleman says at this time of the Session it is impossible to oppose a Motion of this character. Now, I venture to ask for some assistance from both sides of the House in attempting to do the impossible. I do not follow the right honourable Gentleman into the résumé of the Session with which he has indulged the House. I would rather prefer to show the effect of the Motion now before the House. The Motion proposes, as I understand, for the remainder of the Session to allow business to be conducted without any regulations whatever as to our hours. My right honourable Friend takes credit to himself for his extreme moderation in not making this Motion upon Tuesday last. He, however, omitted to remind the House that the interval of relaxation and leisure which was thereby secured to us was used in such a manner that my right honourable Friend kept the House sitting upon one of the days in question until five o'clock in the morning. It is necessary that it should be borne in mind what led to the adoption of the Standing Order which we are now asked to abrogate. The sittings of this House had become a public scandal. They were so described by no less an authority than the late Mr. W. H. Smith, who was himself, unfortunately, a victim to the system, which he too late brought to an end. Mr. W. H. Smith said, in February, 1888— The prolonged Sittings of the House during the last two or three years had had a serious effect not only on the health of honourable Members, but on the mode in which the business of the House had been conducted. … There must have been many honourable Members (probably a large majority of the House) who had duties to perform before coming to the House in the afternoon. In these circumstances, it was clearly impossible for an ordinary human being to continue to devote his powers of mind and body to the discharge of his duties in the House. Honourable Members were practically too exhausted to do so.….It was, however, highly desirable that Ministers should be in a condition to devote the best of their intellect and physical powers to the discharge of their onerous duties. At present, owing to the prolonged Sittings of the House, it was practically impossible for Ministers of the Crown to be in that condition; and therefore, the Government had framed these Rules with the object of meeting earlier in the day and rising earlier at night. Therefore we have it upon the high authority I have quoted that it is a question not only of the health of Members, but of the credit of the House. After quoting these telling sentences, which were generally assented to by all sides of the House while experiences were fresh in their recollections, I will not trouble the House with any opinion of my own as to whether this system of unlimited hours had resulted in discrediting the deliberations of this House, and in serious injury to the health of honourable Members themselves, and in impairing the efficiency of Parliament, as well as of the Executive Government of the country. If, however, it has been so, I think I may be allowed to ask why we are to recur to a system which was unanimously discarded ten years ago. I am told it is only for a short time—only for the most, I would say the least, four weeks of Parliamentary time. I would also ask whether in principle any distinction can be drawn between one month and two, and whether if a similar Motion was in a future year to be made in June, or even earlier, there is any solid principle upon which it could be resisted? We may now be told that the Motion only involves our sitting late to the early days of August, but we have known Parliament to sit much longer than that, and if we suspend the Twelve o'clock Rule now we may be establishing a principle binding ourselves for longer than four weeks of Parliamentary time, and thus this safeguard for the credit of Parliament, as well as the health of the Members, is set aside. But my right honourable Friend may say there is no business of universal importance, there is no great question remaining to be discussed, and it really does not matter whether it is debated at seven o'clock at night or seven o'clock in the morning. There may be times, and I would remind my honourable Friends around me of this, when circumstances may convert them into opponents of endless hours of legislation, and then they may find their hands tied with those of my right honourable Friend by the precedent it is now proposed to establish. It may be further said that as when there was no particular business the House did not hesitate to suspend this Twelve o'clock Rule, of course when there is important business to be transacted, it stands to reason you must do so. The argument of there being no particular business is an argument rather against, than for the suspension of the Twelve o'clock Rule. I regret to say the House has, no doubt, been in the habit of granting certain facilities in respect to matters urgent and Measures which have reached their final stage; but what we are asked to do now is not to afford extra time for any urgent Measure or any particular business which has to be done, but to sanction a wholesale suspension for at least one month of Parliamentary time. The right honourable Gentleman opposite expresses dissent. I hope he may be right, but the estimate formed in well-informed quarters, so far as my information goes, is that it will take about four weeks of Parliamentary time before the Session comes to an end. One word I would desire to add from a personal point of view—namely, that I am not urging anything with a view to affording relief to myself individually, as I will at once say that I have no intention whatever of assisting at any of the discreditable orgies which my right honourable Friend proposes to institute. I would also venture to remind the House that after a certain hour our proceedings, are not reported, and it might some time or other be of very great importance that the country has an opportunity of making itself acquainted with the legislation of this House. A suspension of the Twelve o'clock Rule of the House practically means sitting in camera. Bills have before now been forced through Parliament under such conditions as are now sought to be imposed upon us, which the authors themselves had subsequently reason to regret; measures passed through a jaded House when Members were not in a condition to give proper attention to what was going on. I would, as an example, remind the Government of the Irish Land Act, for which they were responsible, which was, so far as a great portion of it was concerned, passed at a very late hour, and which has not added to the contentment of their minds or the popularity of the Conservative Party in the country. It was, if I remember rightly, under similar conditions that my right honourable Friend the President of the Board of Trade saddled himself with the so-called Conciliation Provisions which had landed him in so much difficulty in connection with labour disputes. That was also passed when the House was jaded and unable properly to discuss the matter. Now, I do hope that the House will, at at any rate, enter a protest against this departure from the established rules. We were told that when what was called the gagging process was introduced it would obviate the necessity of late sittings if the Minister had power to enable the House to come to an immediate decision at any time, and that we should have reasonable hours for our Debates. Now, however, we find ourselves with the gag but without the reasonable hours we were promised. I hope the House will enter a very strong protest against a departure from a rule which has been found to work exceedingly well, and against establishing a precedent under which for weeks at a time the House of Commons may sit to these late hours and re-establish the monstrous system which we hoped we had brought, to an end 19 years ago, and which I hope will not be reintroduced.

*SIR C. DILKE (Gloucester, Forest of Dean)

When the Leader of the Opposition appealed to the Leader of the House that he would not make a destructive use of the power which would be given to him, and that he would consider the health of the Members, the Leader of the House, of course, gave the assurance for which he was asked very readily; but last year, although he volunteered that assurance, the House will remember, in spite of that assurance being given, the House for some 15 days sat for extra ordinarily long hours, and the very first evening after the Standing Order had been suspended the House sat to an hour which was a positive scandal; and therefore I cannot look upon the right honourable Gentleman's assurance as being worth very much. The Government have, of course, a number of Bills before the House which must take a large amount of public time. There is one Bill we have not yet seen which I understand is to be passed this Session. It is a Bill which will meet with general approval from both sides of the House, a very important Bill—I allude to the Teachers' Superannuation Bill. It is a Bill which will involve a very large sum, of public money, and although, as I say, it will meet with the general approval of the House, it will require a great deal of supervision and discussion. Then, again, within the last day or two, the Government have introduced a highly contentious Measure in the shape of the Customs and Inland Revenue Bill. That is a Bill which bristles with contentious matter, and certainly will require to be discussed at length in the presence of the reporters. Then there are some Bills which are coming down from the House of Lords which I know are to be dropped if they are likely to be fought; but some of those are Measures which if not fought will take some considerable time if they are to be adequately discussed. I believe it is still the intention of the Government to go forward with the Companies Bill, which will certainly require considerable discussion before it can pass. Now, among the Bills that are actually before the House at the present time, and which will press upon the time, are the rest of the Prisons Bill, the Merchant Shipping (Mercantile Marine Fund) Bill, which has been kept back for months in its last stage, the Vaccination Bill, which must take a considerable amount of time, if one may judge from the amount of time it was before the Committee, and the Evidence in Criminal Cases Bill, a Bill to which I personally am favourably disposed, but which is fought by a powerful minority. I am also told the Government are going to assist in the Nonconformists' Marriages Bill, which has been recommitted at the request of the Roman Catholic Members of the House. There is one other Bill which the Government have announced their intention of going forward with which will take no time—I mean the Lodgers' Declaration (Ireland) Bill, as it is a wholly useless Bill which they must drop. The other Bills are all of considerable importance, and are Bills which must take up a good deal of Parliamentary time, and I would urge the Government not to make this demand upon the House to pass all these Measures. I would urge them not to bring forward all these Bills. They ought to make a selection from among them, and decide what they think necessary to ask the House to pass. There are at least nine Bills to which the Government is still pledged which will take time, and I urge the Government to drop some of them and say it is not their intention to force them through the House in this manner and under these conditions. To do so would be cruelty.


When we entered this House a new Parliament, behind the Government was a large and increasing majority of 140 Members, and we all expected that the business of this House would be conducted in such a way as to obviate the necessity of such an appeal as that which the right honourable Gentleman has made being made at the end of the Session to a jaded House by jaded Ministers. We expected that they would bring forward a considerable number of Measures and do their business in a reasonable time. These Ministers come down with 27 Bills remaining on their list, 27 monuments of their ambition, which will very soon be 27 monuments of their incapacity. [Government cries of "Withdraw!"] I used the wrong word. I should have said inability to pass those Bills within the time allotted by Parliament. We are now face to face with a demand that the Twelve o'clock Rule shall be suspended. My honourable Friend below me has reminded the House how this Rule came to be instituted. It was introduced to enable the House to perform its work and enable Ministers to do their share of the work of the country under the best conditions possible. With regard to the Twelve o'clock Rule, Mr. W. H. Smith said that if this Twelve o'clock Rule were not instituted it would prevent Ministers from giving the best of their intellectual and physical capacity to the work of the House. Notwithstanding that fact, we are now asked to suspend this Rule and assist the Government to pass 27 Measures, and, what is worse, to keep the House at work until they are passed. Let me remind the House of the arrangement which was made in 1888. The late Mr. W. H. Smith said that the arrangement was that the House should rise at 12 o'clock, and that the House should agree to meet an hour earlier; in other words, it was to meet at three o'clock instead of four. The Government now comes down in the last month, when we are all hoping to get away—having taken its share of the cake, it proposes to take ours away, and to withdraw the privilege which we have had of rising at twelve o'clock. There are several other Bills among the 27 he has alluded to that will bring about serious discussion. I only mention one—the Evidence in Criminal Cases Bill. On the last stage the Bill was discussed inadequately; it was put down on a Wednesday, when the Government knew the lawyers could not be here. There are a certain number of Members who are determined to resist as much as they can what they believe to be a most dangerous revolution in the criminal law of the country. I want to point out specially the state of Supply. Perhaps the most important subject with regard to Supply this year is the Navy. It is recognised to be so important that the Government have tardily come to the conclusion that they will bring in a Supplementary Estimate. There have been two-and-a-half days in discussing the Navy Vote, and we have still to discuss the Supplementary Estimate. There are a number of subsidiary subjects with regard to the Navy that will certainly require discussion. It is to be expected that every Member of the Front Bench, whatever objections he had before, should feel himself bound to do what he can to save the wrecks of the Government proposals at the end of the Session. But we private Members are, nevertheless, bound to do what we can to protest against the proceeding—to protest, above all, against making it a precedent. That is the one point I wish to make, and on that point I wish to end. We allow that the Government should have the right of having, on special occasions, a suspension of the Twelve o'clock Rule; but we feel bound to protest against such a wholesale suspension of the Twelve o'clock Rule. If it passes without protest it will become a regular precedent.


I heartily support the views put forward by the honourable Member for the Isle of Thanet. The Ministry comes to the House at the end of the Session and asks for a universal suspension of the Twelve o'clock Rule until the end. I hold that, in common courtesy, they ought to place before the House a reasonable programme to justify such action; and I do say that on the present occasion the Leader of the House has not placed before the House a reasonable or rational programme for the remainder of the Session. I venture to say that, even if we did sit up till three o'clock in the morning until the 13th August—which is, I understand, the date fixed for the end of the Session—it would be impossible to carry out the programme. I think, therefore, the right honourable Gentleman has not taken the first step necessary to justify the statement he has made to the House. Allusion has been made by the honourable Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean and others to the Bills that are expected to pass. Two or three have not been mentioned in this long list. There is the London University Bill; there is the Irish Charity Loans Bill, which I understand the Government desire to press on, and which will undoubtedly take up a long discussion, for it is a very contentious and complicated Measure. There is, furthermore, the Criminal Evidence Bill, which, in its future stages, will, from the experience we have had already, lead to a very prolonged discussion indeed. I say, therefore, that until the Ministry show that their programme is a fair and reasonable demand on the resources of the House, they have no right to ask us to trust them with a suspension of the Twelve o'clock Rule until the end of the Session. My opinion is that the original idea of the Twelve o'clock Rule was that it should govern the proceedings of the House, excepting when the Government, desiring to carry through a specific Measure, asked for a suspension of the Rule. But this system of suspending the Twelve o'clock Rule for an indefinite period at the end of the Session is a growing evil, and tends, unquestionably, as the honourable Member for the Isle of Thanet contends, to abolish the Rule altogether; and if it is to become a precedent, what is to prevent them going back into the Session, until we find the Rule suspended in March, or at a very early date? I would ask any honourable Member who remembers the history of the last 10 years whether I am right in saying that there has not been a Session during that time in which the Government work has been so light, in which the Government have not had, practically, one single great contentious Measure to pass through the House of Commons. If the Government find it necessary to suspend the Twelve o'clock Rule in the middle of July, a Government with a great and contentious Measure might be reasonably justified in suspending it in April, or March. As the question of Supply has been touched upon, I desire to say a word with regard to the date of Irish Supply. Last year four days were allotted to Irish Supply, and the Irish Members thought they had very good grounds for complaining that the time allotted was very insufficient. The First Lord of the Treasury distinctly told us that he would use every exertion in his power to see that adequate time was given to the discussion of Irish Supply. I need not go into the fact that the need of discussing Irish Supply is greater than it was. We have only been given three days, and from what I hear as to the future disposition of the remainder of the Session, it would appear as if it was contemplated to give no more time during the Session to Irish Supply. If that be so, I say that the Irish Parity will certainly have a great grievance to complain of. There are two questions, not to mention many others. First of all, there is the question of the Queen's College Vote. After the Debates which took place on the Address, it would be nothing short of an outrage to deny us the opportunity of discussing university education in Ireland this year. The second of these matters is the discussion of the intentions of the Government as regards some Measure of permanent relief to the west of Ireland. That is undoubtedly a question for which time ought to be found, and I would press upon the right honourable Gentleman that he should take these two questions.

*MR. GEDGE (Walsall)

The Motion which stands in my name is not affected by the Twelve o'clock Rule. My constituents attach great importance to it. It is for an address to Her Majesty praying her to withhold her assent to the scheme of the Charity Commissioners with regard to the principal schools in my constituency. If the Twelve o'clock Rule be suspended, that Motion, which, in the ordinary course, would come on after twelve, will probably be postponed till three or four o'clock in the morning. Some years ago a similar fate befell my Motion for an address against the Charity Commissioners' scheme respecting Christ's Hospital, and my failure to upset it is now almost universally deplored. I shall be glad if the First Lord of the Treasury will so arrange matters that this Motion shall be taken at a reasonable hour. We are indebted to the honourable Member for King's Lynn for once more impressing on the House the very great loss the Government have sustained in intellectual power, capacity, and ability, by not offering him a seat on the Front Bench. The Twelve o'clock Rule is answerable for much waste of time and obstruction. Notwithstanding the remarks about it which have been quoted of the late Mr. W. H. Smith, whose memory we all hold in honour, I should like to see it rescinded and always vote for its suspension. It was passed in a fit of fright after the terrible experiences of 1887, but they were brought about by abnormal causes, and are not likely to occur again. The House did without the Rule admirably until that year. By it every day is made like Wednesday: Bills are obstructed and talked out. Business, which would be finished before one if there were no such Rule, is stopped at midnight, and lasts another evening. Therefore, hoping that the Government will give fair time for discussing my Motion, I heartily support the proposal of my right honourable Friend.

MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)

There are two Votes for which I hope the right honourable Gentleman will find time for a short discussion. In the first instance I trust he will find time for a short discussion on the Board of Trade Vote. There are two or three questions arising on that Vote which it is desirable to have discussed, and it would be a slur on the right honourable Gentleman's plan of taking the Estimates if these questions were allowed to be passed without discussion. There is an important question arising also on the Science and Art Vote. I do not, however, think the discussion in this case would take more than an hour, but it is a question of so much importance that I hope the right honourable Gentleman will find time for its discussion.

COLONEL MILWARD (Warwick, Stratford-on-Avon)

There is one matter which has not been mentioned this afternoon, and it is the question of giving time for the discussion of a Measure for the relief of the West Indies, and also an opportunity for discussing the Papers relating to the Sugar Conference. I trust the House will give time for the discussion of these matters, because there is a great deal of interest taken in them, not only in this House, but outside.

MR. S. EVANS (Glamorgan, Mid)

I rise for the purpose of moving the Amendment I proposed two years ago. I beg to move the insertion, after the word "Session" in the second line of the Motion, of the words "except on Wednesdays." Two years ago, if not last year, he accepted such an Amendment, and if he makes it the exception in favour of Wednesdays there still remain four days a week for the suspension of the Twelve o'clock Rule. Moreover, with Wednesdays free, the tension and the strain of the work can be relieved; it is in the middle of the week, and everybody, I am sure, would be delighted. I do not think you would find any difficulty at all in carrying what programme you desire for the remainder of the Session. The work done after half-past five on Wednesdays is practically valueless, and I think we ought to have Wednesday evenings, for I have had no intimation from the Government on the present occasion, but in 1896 the right honourable Gentleman the Leader of the House said in response to my Amendment— He was quite willing to recognise the force of what the honourable Gentleman had said"; and he went on to say— But it was never the intention of the Government to take the time of the House-after half-past five on Wednesdays. I therefore hope I shall have the support of honourable Members opposite in the very reasonable proposition I beg to make.


The honourable Member who has just moved the Amendment quoted, as he was perfectly justified in doing, the precedent of 1896. But, Sir, as he, of course, is perfectly well aware, this question was discussed in 1897, and the House, by a large majority, agreed to the Rule in the form in which I now propose it. We have had the experience of 1897, and the House, therefore, has had some means of testing the use which the Government make of their privilege in this respect. As a matter of fact I find that on no occasion were honourable Gentlemen deprived of Wednesday evening by the operation of this Rule. It enables business to be done at a most inconvenient hour, and, on the other hand, it prevents one single evil-disposed person from stopping the progress of a particular Measure. The actual hours of rising were:—July 21st, 6.45 p.m.; July 28th, 7 p.m.; August 4th, 6.15 p.m. That is, no doubt, a slight increase on the ordinary hours, but it is not an increase of which the House need be afraid. Now, Sir, I come to the criticisms which have been passed on the Resolution.

MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)

I rise to order. Can the right honourable Gentleman on the particular Amendment before the House answer the general objections that have been raised to his Motion?


The right honourable Gentleman can only do so with the general consent of the House.

The House divided:—Ayes 114; Noes 222.—(Division List No. 225).

Allan, William (Gateshead) Hemphill, Rt. Hon. C. H. Pirie, Duncan V.
Allen, W. (Newc.-under-L.) Hogan, James Francis Power, Patrick Joseph
Allison, Robert Andrew Holburn, J. G. Price, Robert John
Ascroft, Robert Holden, Sir Angus Provand, Andrew Dryburgh
Asher, Alexander Horniman, Frederick John Reckitt, Harold James
Atherley-Jones, L. Humphreys-Owen, Arthur C. Richardson, J. (Durham)
Austin, M. (Limerick, W.) Joicey, Sir James Roberts, J. H. (Denbighs)
Bainbridge, Emerson Jones, David B. (Swansea) Robson, William Snowdon
Bayley, T. (Derbyshire) Jones, W. (Carnarvonshire) Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-T.)
Beaumont, Wentworth C. B. Kitson, Sir James Schwann, Charles E.
Billson, Alfred Knox, Edmund Francis V. Sinclair, Capt. J. (Forfarsh.)
Bowles, T. G. (King's Lynn) Labouchere, Henry Souttar, Robinson
Broadhurst, Henry Lambert, George Spicer, Albert
Brunner, Sir John T. Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'land) Stanhope, Hon. Philip J.
Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn Lewis, John Herbert Steadman, William Charles
Burt, Thomas Lloyd-George, David Stevenson, Francis S.
Caldwell, James Lough, Thomas Strachey, Edward
Cameron, Sir C. (Glasgow) Lowther, Rt. Hon. J. (Kent) Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)
Clark, Dr.G.B. (Caithness-sh.) Luttrell, Hugh Fownes Sullivan, T. D. (Donegal, W.)
Clough, Walter Owen MacDonnell,Dr.M.A.(Qu's C.) Tanner, Charles Kearns
Colville, John MacNeill, John Gordon S. Thomas, A. (Carmarthen, E.)
Condon, Thomas Joseph McCartan, Michael Thomas, A. (Glamorgan, E.)
Crilly, Daniel McEwan, William Wallace, Robert (Edinburgh)
Daly, James M'Hugh, E. (Armagh, S.) Wallace, Robert (Perth)
Dalziel, James Henry Mandeville, J. Francis Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)
Davies,M. Vaughan-(Cardigan) Mappin, Sir Frederick T. Warner, Thomas C. T.
Davitt, Michael Mendl, Sigismund F. Vhittaker, Thomas Palmer
Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles Montagu, Sir S. (Whitech'l) Williams, John C. (Notts)
Dillon, John Morgan, J. L. (Carmarthen) Wills, Sir William Henry
Donelan, Captain A. Morley, C. (Breconshire) Wilson, Charles H. (Hull)
Doogan, P. C. Norton, Captain Cecil W. Wilson, H. J. (York, W.R.)
Duckworth, James O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary) Wilson, John (Govan)
Evans, Sir F. H. (South'ton) O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool) Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbro')
Farquharson, Dr. Robert Oldroyd, Mark Young, Samuel (Cavan, E.)
Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond Palmer, Sir Charles M.
Goddard, Daniel Ford Paulton, James Mellor TELLERS FOR THE AYES—
Gold, Charles Pease, A. E. (Cleveland) Mr. Samuel Evans and Mr.Channing.
Gourley, Sir Edward T. Perks, Robert William
Hayne, Rt. Hon. C. Seale- Philipps, John Wynford
Hedderwick, T. C. H. Pickersgill, Edward Hare
Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir A. F. Balcarres, Lord Bathurst, Hon. Allen B.
Allhusen, Augustus Henry E. Baldwin, Alfred Beach,Rt. Hn. SirM. H. (Brist'l)
Allsopp, Hon. George Balfour,Rt.Hon.A.J. (Manc'r) Bethell, Commander
Arnold, Alfred Balfour, Rt. Hn. G.W. (Leeds) Bhownaggree, Sir M. M.
Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John Banbury. Frederick George Biddulph, Michael
Bagot, Capt. J. FitzRoy Barnes, Frederic Gorell Bigwood, James
Bailey, James (Walworth) Bartley, George C. T. Blundell, Colonel Henry
Baillie, J. E. B. (Inverness) Barton, Dunbar Plunket Bonsor, Henry Cosmo Orme
Boscawen, Arthur Griffith- Goulding, Edward Alfred Nicholson, William Graham
Boulnois, Edmund Graham, Henry Robert Nicol, Donald Ninian
Bowles,Capt.H.F. (Middlesex) Gray, Ernest (W. Ham) Northcote, Hon. Sir H. S.
Brassey, Albert Greene, W.Raymond- (Cambs) O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)
Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John Gull, Sir Cameron O'Kelly, James
Brown, Alexander H. Gunter, Colonel Pender, Sir James
Bryce, Rt. Hon. James Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord G. Phillpotts, Captain Arthur
Butcher, John George Hanbury, Rt. Hon. R. W. Pierpoint, Robert
Carew, James Laurence Hanson, Sir Reginald Powell, Sir Francis Sharp
Carlile, William Walter Hare, Thomas Leigh Pretyman, Ernest George
Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lancs) Haslett, Sir James Horner Priestley, Sir W. O. (Edin.)
Cecil, Evelyn (Hertford, E.) Hayden, John Patrick Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward
Cecil, Lord H. (Greenwich) Helder, Augustus Purvis, Robert
Chaloner, Capt. R. G. W. Hickman, Sir Alfred Pym, C. Guy
Chamberlain,Rt.Hn.J. (Birm.) Hill, Rt. Hn. A. S. (Staffs) Rasch, Major Frederic C.
Chamberlain, J. A. (Worc'r) Hoare, Samuel (Norwich) Richardson, Sir T. (Hartlep'l)
Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry Howard, Joseph Ridley, Rt. Hon. Sir M. W.
Charrington, Spencer Howell, William Tudor Ritchie, Rt. Hon. C. T.
Chelsea, Viscount Hozier, Hon. James H. C. Roche, Hon. J. (E. Kerry)
Coddington, Sir William Jackson, Rt. Hon. W. L. Royds, Clement Molyneux
Coghill, Douglas Harry Johnston, William (Belfast) Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)
Cohen, Benjamin Louis Johnstone, J. H. (Sussex) Ryder, John Herbert D.
Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse Kay-Shuttleworth,RtHnSirU. Samuel, H. S. (Limehouse)
Colomb, Sir John C. R. Kemp, George Saunderson, Col. E. J.
Colston, C. E. H. Athole Kennaway, Rt. Hn. Sir J. H. Savory, Sir Joseph
Compton, Lord Alwyne Lafone, Alfred Scoble, Sir Andrew Richard
Cox, Robert Laurie, Lieut.-General Scott, Sir S. (Mary'bone, W.)
Cranborne, Viscount Lawrence, W. F. (Liverpool) Sharpe, William Edward T.
Cripps, Charles Alfred Lawson, John Grant (Yorks) Sidebottom, W. (Derbyshire)
Cross, Alexander (Glasgow) Lecky, Rt. Hon. W. E. H. Simeon, Sir Barrington
Cross, H. S. (Bolton) Lees, Sir E. (Birkenhead) Sinclair, Louis (Romford)
Cruddas, William Donaldson Legh, Hon. T. W. (Lancs) Smith, James P. (Lanarks)
Cubitt, Hon. Henry Llewellyn, E. H. (Somerset) Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)
Curran, T. B. (Donegal) Llewelyn, SirDillwyn- (Sw'ns'a) Stanley, Lord (Lancs)
Curzon, Viscount (Bucks) Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R. Stanley, E. J. (Somerset)
Dalbiac, Colonel Philip H. Loder, Gerald Walter E. Stanley, H. M. (Lambeth)
Dalkeith, Earl of Long, Col. C. W. (Evesham) Stephens, Henry Charles
Dalrymple, Sir Charles Long, Rt. Hon. W. (Liverp'l) Stirling-Maxwell, Sir J. M.
Davenport, W. Bromley- Lopes, Henry Yarde Buller Sturt, Hon. Humphry N.
Donkin, Richard Sim Lorne, Marquess of Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)
Dorington, Sir John Edward Lowe, Francis William Talbot,RtHn.J.G.(Oxf'dUny.)
Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers- Lucas-Shadwell, William Thorburn, Walter
Douglas-Pennant, Hon. E. S. Macaleese, Daniel Thornton, Percy M.
Doxford, William Theodore Macartney, W. G. Ellison Tritton, Charles Ernest
Drage, Geoffrey McArthur, C. (Liverpool) Usborne, Thomas
Drucker, A. McCalmont, H. L. B. (Cambs) Verney, Hon. Richard G.
Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph D. McCalmont, M j.-Gn. (Ant' mN.) Vincent, Colonel Sir C. E. H.
Esmonde, Sir Thomas McIver, Sir Lewis Warde, Lt.-Col. C. E. (Kent)
Fardell, Sir T. George Malcolm, Ian Waring, Colonel Thomas
Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn E. Manners, Lord E. W. J. Warr, Augustus Frederick
Fergusson,Rt.Hn. Sir J (Manc.) Maxwell, Rt. Hon. Sir H. E. Webster, Sir R. E. (I. of W.)
Finch, George H. Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M. Welby, Lieut.-Col. A. C. E.
Finlay, Sir Robert B. Milbank, Sir Powlett C. J. Wharton, Rt. Hon. John L.
Fisher, William Hayes Mildmay, Francis Bingham Whitmore, Charles Algernon
FitzGerald, Sir R. Penrose- Milner, Sir Frederick G. Williams, J. Powell (Birm.)
Flannery, Fortescue Milward, Colonel Victor Wilson, John (Falkirk)
Folkestone, Viscount Monckton, Edward Philip Wilson, J. W. (Worc'sh., N.)
Foster, Sir W. (Derby Co.) Monk, Charles James Wilson-Todd, W. H. (Yorks)
Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry Moon, Edward Robert P. Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm
Fry, Lewis More, Robert Jasper Wortley, Rt. Hn. C.B. Stuart-
Garfit, William Morgan, Hn. F. (Monm'thsh.) Wyndham-Quin, Major W. H.
Gedge, Sydney Morrell, George Herbert Wyvill, Marmaduke D'Arcy
Gibbs, Hn. A.G.H. (City of L.) Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford) Young, Comm. (Berks, E.)
Giles, Charles Tyrrell Murray, Rt. Hn. A. G. (Bute)
Gordon, Hon. John Edward Murray, C. J. (Coventry) TELLERS FOR THE NOES—
Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John E. Murray, Col. W. (Bath) Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.
Goschen, George J. (Sussex) Newdigate, Francis A.

As the Amendment has now been disposed of, the House will turn its attention to the main question, which, I frankly admit, is one of those questions upon which, from my experience and observation, honourable Members take views according to the side of the House upon which they happen to be sitting at the moment. I notice that two honourable Gentlemen on the opposite side of the House, who have spoken against this Motion—the honourable Member for East Mayo and the right honourable Member for the Forest of Dean—both voted for a Motion almost identically similar in its terms in 1894. I am not complaining of that; I only use that as an illustration of the difference of view we may be expected to take, according to the situation in which we happen to find ourselves. Three honourable Members have complained of the insufficiency of the time allowed to Supply. All these gentlemen ought consistently to vote for this Motion. The number of days allowed to Supply cannot be increased at the will of the Government, but the amount of time given to Supply can be increased to some extent by suspending the Twelve o'clock Rule. Therefore every honourable Member who thinks the remaining days of the Session not sufficient for the discussion of Supply ought to support the Motion to increase the amount of time. The right honourable Gentleman the Member for Aberdeen [Mr. Bryce] asked that time should be given to the Vote for the Board of Trade and the Science and Art Vote. I believe we shall be able to allot time to the Board of Trade Vote, but I should not like to pledge the Government as to the Science and Art Vote. With regard to the Irish Votes, I stated on Friday night that I would do my best to find time for a discussion on the means to meet the distress in the west of Ireland. The honourable Member for King's Lynn intends, I gather from his speech, to employ against us all the obstruction which the forms of the House will allow on the Criminal Evidences Bill. I hope my honourable Friend will not stretch that term unduly, and that his undoubtedly conscientious objection to that Bill will be kept within strict limits, or strictly limited at least in its expression. My right honourable Friend the Member for the Isle of Thanet always comes forward upon these occasions, and opposes any modification of our Standing Orders. I have always admired, not only his consistency, but his disinterestedness in these matters. The right honourable Member comes forward as the apostle of short hours and easy conditions of work in this House. My right honourable Friend certainly has no personal object to gain in this, for, so far as I have observed, he has never felt it his duty to sacrifice his health by any undue labours in regard to legislation. I believe my right honourable Friend has, in the course of the present Session, divided 25 times out of a possible 224 Divisions. That is not an excessive amount, and will not tend permanently to sap the health or the vitality of my right honourable Friend. After all, for what object are we asking the House to sit up a little later during the last three or four weeks of the Session? It is in the interest of the early rising of this House. Again, my right honourable Friend is quite disinterested in this matter, for I am convinced that if it were found, unfortunately, necessary to sit beyond the 12th, 13th, or 14th of August, my right honourable Friend would survey our proceedings from a convenient distance, and would regret that his friends were subjected to so inconvenient a prolongation of the labours of the Session. My right honourable Friend has, I think, some reason on his side in his objection to this Motion which cannot be urged for the objection taken by the Leader of the Opposition. My right honourable Friend has a conscientious objection to legislation in all its forms. He not only dislikes, as he is bound to dislike, the legislation of honourable Gentlemen who sit opposite, but he dislikes, with a hatred scarcely less pronounced, some of the legislation proposed by the Party to which he belongs.


Hear, hear!


In these circumstances, my right honourable Friend appears to be absolutely disinterested and consistent and reasonable in the course he has taken to-night. But I cannot understand why the Leader of the Opposition objects to the suspension of the Twelve o'clock Rule. What is the great gravamen of his speech against the Government? The right honourable Gentleman's complaint—

SIR H. H. FOWLER (Wolverhampton E.)

He supported it.


Did he support it? I was for a moment betrayed into thinking that the right honourable Gentleman had joined honourable Members opposite in opposing the Resolution. I had forgotten that there were divisions among honourable Gentlemen opposite; but I am glad we have among our supporters the right honourable Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, and, that being so, I will not accuse him of inconsistency in complaining of the fact that there are certain Measures of the Government mentioned in the Queen's Speech which are not passed into law, and which are not likely to be passed into law in the course of the present Session. But let me say that I do not think there ever has been a Session in which the general programme of legislation foreshadowed in the Queen's Speech has been so completely carried out as we may expect it to be in the course of the Session. I do not say that that implies merit in myself, or in the Government of which I am a member. The House, I think, has done its best to help us to pass legislation which it thinks is, in the main, not of a party character, but believes to be generally useful to the country. But the result obtained, however—and I make no boast of it—is one which is eminently satisfactory, and one on which the House may well take some credit to itself for achieving. I think, Sir, that the right honourable Gentleman opposite particularly complained that he had not seen the Secondary Education Bill. He did not, however, complain that we were not going to pass it, because he exacted a pledge from us that no Bill not yet introduced should be passed this Session. But the right honourable Gentleman desired to see the Bill, and I believe that his desire will be gratified, because I understand that my noble Friend the President of the Council is, at an early day, going to introduce the Measure in the House of Lords this Session, in order that it may be laid before the House and before the country. The right honour- able Gentleman asked for a pledge from the Government that we were not going to introduce any further Bills. That pledge I cannot give in a precise form, because there are certain annual Bills, such as the Expiring Laws Continuance Bill and the Public Works Loan Bill, which will, of course, have to be dealt with before we separate for the holidays. But the right honourable Gentleman alluded to Bills of quite a different character, and as regards those Bills which do not come within the category of the ordinary annual Measures I can give him the pledge for which he asks, and I am prepared to say that I do not propose to introduce any Bills which have not been already announced. But, Sir, as I informed the House last Tuesday, there are two Irish Measures which, of course, must be dealt with in the course of the present Session. But the spirit of the pledge which I have given to the House I think will be understood by the House, and honourable Members will not desire to press it technically in one direction, just as I should not wish to abuse it in the other direction. The right honourable Gentleman complained that we had not introduced the London Municipalities Bill, but he has apparently forgotten the statement which I made to the House to the effect that the Government pledged themselves to introduce it early next Session, and that if we are not ready to introduce it at this late period of the Session it is because it could not possibly be passed.


What about the Navy Estimates?


As to the Supplementary Naval Estimate I think there has been some error. My right honourable Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty said that he was going to announce a supplementary programme on Friday next and make a general statement as to the naval policy of the Government. But there will be no Supplementary Estimate, certainly not in the course of the present Session; and when my right honourable Friend makes his statement as to the supplementary programme of the Government, it will be felt that he is perfectly right in not introducing a Supplementary Esti- mate. But that is hardly a point which we can discuss now, and it must wait until next Friday to be dealt with. I think that about completes my statement.


There is the Scotch Bill.


As to the Scotch Equivalent Grant Bill, I am afraid that I cannot mention a time for its discussion, but it will not be in the course of the present week. I hope the Scotch Bill will be reached to-night. As to the Habitual Inebriates Bill—[Laughter]. I have now endeavoured to answer all the objections which have been urged against the Motion and all the questions which have been asked with regard to it, and I hope the House will now consent to come to a decision on the Motion.


I always admire the right honourable Gentleman when he is in a tight fix, and he has my special admiration to-day, for his reply was simply magnificent. But he has appealed to the House to do an unconscientious thing. Now, he says, "For conscience sake let us begin early with business after 12 o'clock," when we are tired out, body and mind. However, I am not going to support this proposal, for it is an outrageous attack upon the liberty of Parliament, and also upon our right of discussion of matters of the greatest importance in this House. The right honourable Gentleman said that in all probability we should have plenty of opportunities for discussion, but we do not care to discuss matters after 12 o'clock at night, because then our proceedings are not reported. The right honourable Gentleman himself is well informed about the wrong-doings of Dublin Castle, but we also want to know something about them, and the public will not know anything about them if we discuss the matter at one or two o'clock in the morning, when the proceedings will not be reported. I also on high moral grounds object to the discharge of very serious business in the small hours of the morning. We should not discharge our own private business at that hour, and why does the right honourable Gentleman desire to discharge public business at such a late hour? Now, why should the business of this House be accommodated by the right honourable Gentleman to the tune of the old song, "We won't go home till morning"? I do not see why the important business of the House should be conducted at a late hour of the night, which has been a long scandal. Will the right honourable Gentleman make, after 12 years' experience, a compromise with me? He says that this is done in order to have an early rising, but why not let us have an earlier sitting of the House? Why should we not meet at nine o'clock in the morning? Parliament used to meet earlier in times gone by, when financial shocks were unknown. The House always then met at eight o'clock. In 1641 there was a rule— That the House shall sit at seven o'clock in the morning. In 1642 there was a rule, which will appeal to the charitable, to the effect that— Whosoever cannot be here at eight a.m. every morning shall pay one shilling to the poor. Now, I do ask the right honourable Gentleman to make a compromise with me. Everyone knows that with these prolonged sittings it is impossible for a man to distinguish between one day and another, for it is utterly impossible. We go home, and we have no real rest, and the Order Paper is even dated wrong as the result. Perhaps the right honourable Gentleman wishes the business to go topsy-turvy. He has a majority of 150, by which power he can force anything he likes through the House. Now, the only corrective we have got to that majority is independent discussion in Parliament, whereby we can affect public opinion. When the Debate rolls on between two and three o'clock in the morning, nothing is reported of the proceedings of the House of Commons during these discussions. Of course, when the Division bell is rung, honourable Gentlemen rush in, and most of them very often do not know what they are voting for. Very often I have seen honourable Gentlemen come in and ask which are the Ayes and which are the Noes, because they know nothing about the matter. That is a very queer way to discharge our Parliamentary duty and our trust to our constituency; and for all these reasons I will plead to the right honourable Gentleman to make some compromise, and have early sittings of the House, instead of late sittings. We have heard a good deal about Church disestablishment by law lately. All I can say is that I happened to be in a country church last Sunday, and the whole of the service was against the 12 o'clock Rule, and by the dispensation of that 12 o'clock Rule, it had a lamentable effect, for someone fell out of the window. Now, I am not sure that someone may fall over the embankment from the Terrace into the Thames if we have these late sittings. On all these points I would submit that there should be in Parliamentary life some slight appearance of decency in matters involving great interests, and business should not be transacted in such a way as to cause scandal to the public, as they would undoubtedly do, by transacting business after 12 o'clock. It is all very well, even with a majority of 150, to endeavour to spring these things upon us. The right honourable Gentleman knows perfectly well what is right and what is wrong, and he is acting unconscientiously for conscience sake.


Mr. Speaker, I object to sitting up all night, and I object equally to coming down here at seven o'clock in the morning. Whatever the House may decide, I certainly shall do neither. There is a great deal more than meets the eye in the proposal of the right honourable Gentleman. It seems a harmless little proposal, but it is part and parcel of an insidious attempt on the part of officialdom to bring this House of Commons absolutely and entirely under the control of the Executive, instead of the Executive being under the control of the House of Commons. Sir, this Session commenced later than last year. Now, the right honourable Gentleman said that last year he had proposed on the 15th July the same Motion that he has proposed this day; but then we had sat longer, and the Session commenced sooner than in the present year. Therefore, it seems to me that that parallel does not hold. Sir, what is the right honourable Gentleman doing? The right honourable Gentleman has, we on our side of the House say, somewhat wasted the time of the House on small and unimportant Bills; but be that as it may—and the right honourable Gentleman has not passed any great controversial Measure this Session—the right honourable Gentleman, a few days before he proposes this scheme to make us either sit up all night or let things pass without discussion, informed us that he was going to introduce a new Bill into the House in regard to colonial matters—the Colonial Loan Bill. I cannot go into the Bill at present, but I gather from the right honourable Gentleman that it is a Bill that will require to be opposed, and very strongly opposed, by everyone on this side of the House. The right honourable Gentleman has no right to come down at this time of the Session and say, "We want to get through the business of the Session"; and suddenly to propose a Bill of this importance, and then, after having proposed it, to make us sit till two, three, or four o'clock in the morning in order that the public outside may not have an opportunity of learning from the newspapers next morning really what takes place in regard to the discussions. The right honourable Gentleman told us that the only way we could get more discussion on the Estimates was by sitting up later, because there is a limit of days. But I would point out to the right honourable Gentleman, with all respect, that he is entirely wrong, and he has shown by his own action that he is wrong. What did the right honourable Gentleman tell us the other day? He told us that there was some additional Estimate to be proposed for the West Indies, and that this was to be an extra day. How is this to be done? It is done simply by putting down a Bill nominally before the Committee, and not taking it, and so not counting it in the days given to Estimates. If the right honourable Gentleman can do that for his own good pleasure, in order to introduce an additional Estimate, surely he can do it equally well in regard to Irish or English Estimates. The reason why we oppose this Vote at the present moment is because the right honourable Gentleman is pushing forward too many Bills at the present time. If he did not put forward all these Bills it would not be necessary for him to ask for this additional time. If he goes on with these Bills—and he told us he intends to do so—either we shall have to sit up till a late hour of the night, or the discussion of them will be of a very perfunctory character. The right honourable Gentleman opposite me cited nine important Bills which the right honourable Gentleman said he is going to push through, on which there will be a good deal of discussion. But there is another Bill. I see in another place a great many changes have been made in the Benefices Bill, and, judging from what took place at the previous stages of the Bill before this House, it seems that the Benefices Bill, when it comes back, will require a great deal of time for discussion. Sir, the right honourable Gentleman said he did this in order that he might go away with a good conscience at an early day in August. I do not want to interfere between the right honourable Gentleman and his conscience—with any of the quarrels that may take place between them, but if he will give up this Measure and accept me as his conscience, I shall be glad to give him a certificate that he has done his duty. Then the right honourable Gentleman spoke of exercising the power with moderation. But what is his idea of moderation in exercising this power going to be? People differ on this essential. I do know this, that last year there was no moderation in practice by the right honourable Gentleman. And I doubt very much whether the right honourable Gentleman will act this year with more moderation; whether his view of moderation will be precisely in accordance with our view on these matters. The right honourable Gentleman complained of the right honourable Gentleman the Member for Thanet because he has not taken part in all the Divisions that have taken place in this House. He has taken part, as I gather, in very few, and the right honourable Gentleman seemed to imply that the right honourable Gentleman the Member for Thanet has scarcely the right to speak on this matter, because he did not come down to the House to vote. I can only tell the House what happens to myself. I never waste my time in voting in a lot of twaddling Divisions that take place with a great number on one side and a few on the other. I know people publish in the newspapers the number of Divisions that Members have taken part in. I remember once telling my constituents when a Member goes to the House, like a sheep, he votes with one side or the other; but a man who represents intelligent men, like you, does not act in that manner. It may be he pauses—he hesitates, he abstains. And that is what I have done. Then, Sir, the right honourable Gentleman the Leader of the House was surprised when he found that people sometimes voted in and out in regard to these Measures. He finds the Opposition always vote against a Measure like this, and directly they come into office they vote for it. There is nothing surprising in this, for when one's party is in office one is ready to make a sacrifice of one's time and health to assist the Government. But when one's party is in opposition one does not consider that the Government passing Bills is an adequate cause for sitting up at night; on the contrary, you think the fewer Bills they pass the better. When your own side is in, when they bring forward Bills, when you have come to the conclusion that a Bill is a reasonable and legitimate one, then the Member is ready to give the Government all the time they need. I, and I daresay many others, may have been open to the charge of voting in and out on this matter. I always vote against it when it is brought forward by the Conservative or Unionist Government, and occasionally for it when it is brought forward by the Liberal side, and that I intend to do. Mr. Speaker, my views on this matter are perfectly clear. I assure you I have not the remotest intention to sit up to a late hour, whatever happens in this House. My conscience will allow me to go to bed. Equally, I have not the remotest intention of stopping here during the whole of the month of August. There will come a day when with a good conscience and the habit of a body given to gout I shall go to drink some nauseous waters. Therefore it is perfectly indifferent to me, speaking for myself, whether the House chooses to sit till October or whether the House chooses to sit till seven o'clock in the morning. It will not have me; and I think many other Members will take the same course. But, Sir, I do say that the right honourable Gentleman should not introduce fresh business into the House; he should not come forward with a programme of a kind which, having regard to the lateness of the Session, if it is carried out, necessitates that these Bills must be inadequately discussed. If the right honourable Gentleman, had come forward and said early in August, "We come for ward with a modest programme; we do not think it will be necessary that these Bills should be discussed longer than perhaps one o'clock one night, or two o'clock another," one would, perhaps, not have objected; but when he comes forward with this programme, and will not sacrifice one—


I said nothing in my speech on the subject one way or the other.


The right honourable Gentleman shook his head. That conveys very often a good deal more than a speech. I do hope the right honourable Gentleman, whatever his views at the present time, will look thoroughly into these Bills, and will not try to force down a programme that he cannot carry out properly, if he is going to bring the Session to an end at the beginning of August. Then those who, like myself, are unable, through their health, to sit up till an early hour in the morning, and are unable to stop very long in August, may go away with a feeling that they have conscientiously, adequately, and fully performed their duty.


I have always been opposed to the Twelve o'clock Rule, and would heartily support the Government in abolishing it for the remainder of the Session, if they only proposed to abolish the Twelve o'clock Rule. But they propose to go very much further, and I want to get a promise from the right honourable Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury, otherwise I will move an Amendment to leave out the last clause of the Motion. We say the Twelve o'clock Rule has been tried for the past 10 years, and it has been a failure. Our Session has, as a rule, only five working months; now they are proposing to abolish it for one-fifth of the time. What I want to point out is what you are doing if you carry the Resolution. The House, year after year, because of the limitation of its time, instead of doing work itself and passing Bills, hands over to Departments like the Board of Trade, and the Local Government Board, and a number of Statutory Commissioners, the power to make laws, and our only control is that the laws made by these Commissioners and by those Departments lie on the Table for 40 days. Now, if 30 out of the 40 are to be taken away, I want to point out to the right honourable Gentleman the danger of his Motion as it stands at the present time. You will not always have a Conservative Government in power; by and bye there will be a Radical Government in power. The democracy is not very consistent; it swings first to one side and then to another very frequently. If a Radical Government come into power they, through their Departments and their Commissions, will make very important changes in the legislation, and you will be prevented, by Resolutions of this kind being passed in the House, from having any voice at all in regard to them, though perhaps you may be able to say something in another House. As far as the House of Commons is concerned, there will be very important Resolutions which will be practically Acts of Parliament, and there will be no means of making the House or the country aware of the character of the legislation before it. I want to get a pledge from the First Lord of the Treasury on the subject. I would like to get it, because the last portion of the Motion seems to me valuable in one way and bad in another. It is valuable, as you will be able to adjourn the House without the mere mechanical trouble of running over the Bills and giving a day for them; but you are also taking away the old right which never, during my experience, has been misused, the right of raising a question on a Motion for the adjournment, and asking for information—the right that has enabled us to know and control the legislation of Departments and Commissions. I want to know if during the next 30 days any of these Bills—like the one the honourable Member for Walsall intends to bring on—come before the House from his own side, if a Member does bring opposition to legislation by Commission or Department, that the Government will star that, and make it Government business, and give the House an opportunity of expressing its views regarding it. Otherwise it will be necessary to move the rejection of the last clause, in order that that right of the control of legislation by Departments and Commissions may not be abrogated as is done by a side wind in this Motion.

MR. LLOYD-GEORGE (Carnarvon, etc.)

The honourable Member below me [Sir C. Dilke] referred to the Nonconformist Marriages Bill, and rather assumed that it would take up some time in discussion. I do not think that is so. I do not think it will take up any time. My honourable Friend the Member for Louth has assured me that he does not intend to discuss the matter at all, and the Amendments are such as I think commend themselves to the bulk of the honourable Members; at any rate, they will not occupy much time. For my part, I rely absolutely upon the understanding of the Government upon the subject. There is, however, one question which I should like to ask the right honourable Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury. I was not present when a question was put by the right honourable Member for Aberdeen [Mr. Bryce] with regard to the Board of Trade Vote, but I think it is a very important subject, and should be fully discussed. With regard to the abrogation of the Twelve o'clock Rule, my objection is that time is to be devoted to the discussion of matters which appear to me to be rather trivial. There is a subject about which everyone is talking, and for the discussion of which the Government should certainly find time—I mean the Report of the Old Age Pension Committee. If honourable Members will look at the number of Bills which the Government have starved, they will find in the list the Parish Fire Engines Bill and the Circuit Clerks of Justiciary (Scotland) Bill. Surely a discussion upon the Report of the Old Age Pensions Committee is much more important than a discussion upon either of these two Measures. The honourable Member for King's Lynn has referred to the fact that the Government has a majority of 150, but if there is one question more than another which is responsible for the existence of that majority, and for bringing the Government into power with so great a preponderance over the Opposition, it was this question of old age pensions. In view of the extraordinary Report of the Committee, practically throwing over the scheme, time should be allowed for discussion.

MR. BROADHURST (Leicester)

As I am partly responsible for inducing the Government to introduce the Parish Fire Engines Bill, I desire to say a word or two in its defence. I admit that it is a subject that does not loom very large upon the political horizon, but it is, nevertheless, a question of some importance, and the absence of such powers as are proposed in the Bill has led to disaster, and often to great destruction of property. For some two or three years I have been endeavouring to induce the Government to take up the question, and I think it my duty to defend their action in this matter. I desire also to join my honourable Friend the Member for the Carnarvon Boroughs in asking the right honourable Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury if he can allow two or three hours for the discussion of the Report of the Committee on Old Age Pensions. That is a subject that has occupied a great deal of attention in the country, and feeling has been running very strongly in favour of some scheme or other. It would be advised on the part of the Government to adjourn this Session without some Debate upon this question. I trust the right honourable Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury will see his way to give us that opportunity, without neglecting, of course, the passing of the Parish. Fire Engines Bill.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes 237; Noes 127.—(Division List No. 226.)

Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir A. F. Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph D. Macartney, W. G. Ellison
Allhusen, Augustus Henry E. Fardell, Sir T. George McArthur, C. (Liverpool)
Allsopp, Hon. George Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn E. McCalmont, H. L. B. (Cambs)
Arnold, Alfred Fergusson,Rt.Hn.SirJ (Manc.) McCalmont,Mj.-Gn. (Ant'm N)
Asquith, Rt. Hon. H. H. Finch, George H. McIver, Sir Lewis
Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John Finlay, Sir Robert B. Malcolm, Ian
Bagot Capt J FitzRoy Fisher, William Hayes Manners, Lord E. W. J.
Balcarres, Lord FitzGerald, Sir R. Penrose- Maple, Sir John Blundell
Baldwin, Alfred FitzWygram, General Sir F. Mellor, Colonel (Lancashire)
Balfour,Rt.Hon.A.J. (Manc'r) Flannery, Fortescue Melville, Beresford Valentine
Balfour, Rt.Hon.G.W. (Leeds) Flower, Ernest Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M.
Banbury, Frederick George Folkestone, Viscount Milbank, Sir Powlett C. J.
Barnes, Frederic Gorell Foster, Sir W. (Derby Co.) Mildmay, Francis Bingham
Bartley, George C. T. Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry Milward, Colonel Victor
Barton, Dunbar Plunket Fry, Lewis Monckton, Edward Philip
Bathurst, Hon. Allen B. Garfit, William Monk, Charles James
Beach,Rt.Hn.SirM.H.(Brist'l) Gedge, Sydney Montagu, Hon. J. S. (Hants)
Beresford, Lord Charles Gibbs,Hn.A.G.H.(C. of Lond.) Moon, Edward Robert Pacy
Bhownaggree, Sir M. M. Gibbs, Hon. V. (St. Albans) More, Robert Jasper
Biddulph, Michael Giles, Charles Tyrrell Morgan, Hn. F. (Monm'thsh)
Bigwood, James Gordon, Hon. John Edward Morrell, George Herbert
Bill, Charles Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John E. Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford)
Blundell, Colonel Henry Goschen, George J. (Sussex) Murray, Rt. Hn. A. G. (Bute)
Bond, Edward Goulding, Edward Alfred Murray, C. J. (Coventry)
Boscawen, Arthur Griffith- Graham, Henry Robert Murray, Col. W. (Bath)
Boulnois, Edmund Gray, Ernest (W. Ham) Newdigate, Francis Alexander
Brassey, Albert Greene, W. Raymond- (Cambs) Nicholson, William Graham
Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John Gull, Sir Cameron Nicol, Donald Ninian
Brown, Alexander H. Gunter, Colonel Northcote, Hon. Sir H. S.
Bucknill, Thomas Townsend Haldane, Richard Burdon O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)
Butcher, John George Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord G. O'Connor, Arthur (Donegal)
Carew, James Laurence Hanbury, Rt. Hon. R. W. O'Kelly, James
Carlile, William Walter Hanson, Sir Reginald Pender, Sir James
Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lancs) Hare, Thomas Leigh Phillpotts, Captain Arthur
Cecil, Evelyn (Hertford, E. Haslett, Sir James H. Pierpoint, Robert
Cecil, Lord H. (Greenwich) Hayden, John Patrick Powell, Sir Francis Sharp
Chaloner, Capt. R. G. W. Helder, Augustus Pretyman, Ernest George
Chamberlain,Rt.Hn.J. (Birm.) Hill, Rt. Hon. A. S. (Staffs) Priestley, Sir W. O. (Edin.)
Chamberlain, J. A. (Worc'r) Hoare, Samuel (Norwich) Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward
Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry Houston, R. P. Purvis, Robert
Charrington, Spencer Howard, Joseph Pym, C. Guy
Chelsea, Viscount Howell, William Tudor Rasch, Major Frederic Carne
Clarke, Sir E. (Plymouth) Hozier, Hon. James H. C. Richardson, Sir T. (Hartlep'l)
Coddington, Sir William Hubbard, Hon. Evelyn Ridley, Rt. Hon. Sir M. W.
Coghill, Douglas Harry Jackson, Rt. Hon. W. L. Ritchie, Rt. Hon. C. T.
Cohen, Benjamin Louis Johnston, William (Belfast) Roche, Hon. J. (E. Kerry)
Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse Johnstone, J. H. (Sussex) Royds, Clement Molyneux
Colomb, Sir John C. R. Kemp, George Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)
Colston, C. E. H. Athole Kennaway, Rt. Hn. Sir J. H. Ryder, John Herbert Dudley
Compton, Lord Alwyne Kenyon-Slaney, Col. William Samuel, H. S. (Limehouse)
Cox, Robert Lafone, Alfred Savory, Sir Joseph
Cranborne, Viscount Laurie, Lieut. -General Scoble, Sir Andrew Richard
Cripps, Charles Alfred LawrenceSirEDurning-(Corn.) Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)
Cross, H. S. (Bolton) Lawrence, W. F. (Liverpool) Seton-Karr, Henry
Cruddas, William Donaldson Lawson, John Grant (Yorks) Sharpe, William Edward T.
Cubitt, Hon. Henry Lecky, Rt. Hon. W. E. H. Sidebottom, W. (Derbyshire)
Curran, T. B. (Donegal) Lees, Sir E. (Birkenhead) Simeon, Sir Barrington
Curzon, Viscount (Bucks) Legh, Hon. T. W. (Lancs) Sinclair, Louis (Romford)
Dalbiac, Colonel Philip H. Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie Smith, A. H. (Christchurch)
Dalkeith, Earl of Llewellyn. E. H. (Somerset) Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)
Dalrymple, Sir Charles Llewelyn, SirDillwyn-(Sw'ns'a) Stanley, Lord (Lancs)
Davenport, W. Bromley- Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R. Stanley, E. J. (Somerset)
Dixon-Hartland, Sir F. D. Loder, Gerald Walter E. Stanley, H. M. (Lambeth)
Donkin, Richard Sim Long, Col. C. W. (Evesham) Stephens, Henry Charles
Dorington, Sir John Edward Lopes, Henry Yarde Buller Stirling-Maxwell, Sir J. M.
Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers- Lorne, Marquess of Strauss, Arthur
Douglas-Pennant, Hon. E. S Lowe, Francis William Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley
Doxford, William Theodore Lowles, John Sturt, Hon. Humphry N.
Drage, Geoffrey Lucas-Shadwell, William Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)
Drucker, A. Macaleese, Daniel Talbot.RtHn. J.G. (Oxf'dUny.)
Thorburn, Walter Webster, Sir R. E. (I. of W.) Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm
Thornton, Percy M. Welby, Lieut.-Col. A. C. E. Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. S.
Tomlinson, W. E. Murray Wharton, Rt. Hon. J. L. Wyndham George
Tritton, Charles Ernest Whitmore, Charles Algernon Wyndham-Quin, Major W. H.
Usborne, Thomas Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset) Wyvill Marmaduke D'Arcy
Verney, Hon. R. Greville Williams, J. Powell (Birm.) Young, Commander (Berks,E.)
Vincent, Col. Sir C. E. H. Wilson, John (Falkirk)
Warde, Lt.-Col. C. E. (Kent) Wilson, J. W. (Worc'sh., N.) TELLERS FOR THE AYES—
Waring, Col. Thomas Wilson-Todd, W. H. (Yorks) Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.
Warr, Augustus Frederick Wodehouse, E. R. (Bath)
Allan, William (Gateshead) Gourley, Sir, E. Temperley Philipps, John Wynford
Allen,W. (Newc.-under-Lyme) Hayne, Rt. Hon. C. Seale- Pickersgill, Edward Hare
Allison, Robert Andrew Hedderwick, T. C. H. Pirie, Duncan V.
Ambrose, R. (Mayo, W.) Hemphill, Rt. Hon. C. H. Power, Patrick Joseph
Ascroft, Robert Hogan, James Francis Price, Robert John
Asher, Alexander Holburn, J. G. Provand, Andrew Dryburgh
Atherley-Jones, L. Holden, Sir Angus Reckitt, Harold James
Austin, M. (Limerick, W.) Horniman, Frederick John Reid, Sir Robert T.
Baker, Sir John Humphreys-Owen, A. C. Richardson, J. (Durham)
Bayley, T. (Derbyshire) Joicey, Sir James Rickett, J. Compton
Beaumont, Wentworth C. B. Jones, D. B. (Swansea) Roberts, J. H. (Denbighsh.)
Billson, Alfred Jones, W. (Carnarvonshire) Robson, William Snowdon
Birrell, Augustine Kay-Shuttleworth.RtHnSirU. Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)
Bowles, T. G. (King's Lynn) Kearley, Hudson E. Schwann, Charles E.
Broadhurst, Henry Kilbride, Denis Shaw, Charles E. (Stafford)
Brunner, Sir J. Tomlinson Kitson, Sir James Sinclair, Capt. J. (Forfarsh.)
Bryce, Rt. Hon. James Knox, E. F. V. Smith, Samuel (Flint)
Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn Labouchere, Henry Souttar, Robinson
Bunt, Thomas Lambert, George Spicer, Albert
Buxton, Sydney Charles Langley, Batty Steadman, William Charles
Caldwell, James Lawson, Sir W. (Cumberland) Stevenson, Francis S.
Cameron, Sir C. (Glasgow) Lewis, John Herbert Strachey, Edward
Causton, Richard Knight Lloyd-George, David Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)
Channing, Francis Allston Lough, Thomas Sullivan, T. D. (Donegal, W.)
Clark, Dr.G.B. (Caithness-sh.) Luttrell, Hugh Fownes Tanner, Charles Kearns
Clough, Walter Owen MacDonnell,Dr.M.A. (Qn'sC.) Thomas, A. (Carmarthen, E.)
Colville, John MacNeill, John Gordon S. Thomas, A. (Glamorgan, E.)
Condon, Thomas Joseph McCartan, Michael Wallace, R. (Edinburgh)
Crilly, Daniel McDermott, Patrick Wallace, Robert (Perth)
Cross, Alexander (Glasgow) McEwan, William Warner, Thomas C. T.
Daly, James M'Hugh, E. (Armagh, S.) Whittaker, Thomas Palmer
Daziel, James Henry Mandeville, J. Francis, Williams, John C. (Notts)
Davies,M. Vaughan-(Cardigan) Mappin, Sir Frederick Thorpe Wills, Sir William Henry
Davitt, Michael Mendl, Sigismund Ferdinand Wilson, H. J. (York, W.R.)
Dillon, John Montagu, Sir S. (Whitechapel) Wilson, J. (Durham, Mid)
Donelan, Captain A. Morgan, J. L. (Carmarthen) Wilson, John (Govan)
Doogan, P. C. Morley, Charles (Breconshire) Wilson, J. H. (Middlesbro')
Duckworth, James Norton, Capt. Cecil William Young, Samuel (Cavan, E.)
Evans, S. T. (Glamorgan) O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary) Yoxall, James Henry
Evans, Sir F. H. (South'ton) O'Connor, J. (Wicklow, W.)
Farquharson, Dr. Robert Oldroyd, Mark TELLERS FOR THE NOES—
Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond Palmer, Sir Charles M. Mr. James Lowther and Sir Charles Dilke.
Goddard, Daniel Ford Paulton, James Mellor
Gold, Charles Pease, Alfred E. (Cleveland)