HC Deb 23 June 1898 vol 59 cc1287-96

formally moved the adjournment of the House.

MR. BROADHURST (Leicester)

I beg to protest against this Motion. We have a long list of questions on the Paper, and among them a specially important Bill, with regard to the abolition of common employment. In the earlier part of the evening the House gave the right honourable Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury all he asked for, in order to get his own Measures through. The House has done its work exceedingly quickly, and I hope, as we have behaved ourselves so well, the right honourable Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury will allow us three or four hours for the discussion of this Bill, even if it is only by way of reciprocity. If the right honourable Gentleman persists in his Motion for the adjournment I shall divide the House against it, if anyone will support me.


As I moved the adjournment without any remark, I think I should make some explanation of the circumstances under which I made the Motion. The honourable Member for Leicester, I think, must be aware that the events of to-night have, to a certain extent, been a matter of surprise to all. The course taken in regard to private business was a matter of arrangement between the two sides of the House. A large number of Members on the other side of the House had been communicated with, and when the honourable Member says that all the Government business has been got through he is entirely mistaken, because, by the arrangement of which I have spoken, a good many Government Bills were, for the convenience of honourable Members opposite, not dealt with. As far as the Government are concerned, it intends to take that course, and if we had decided to have dealt with those Bills it would not have given the honourable Gentleman any chance of discussing the Measure which he had mentioned. Therefore, there is really no blame attached to the Government on that point, but there would have been great inconvenience if the House had followed the advice which the honourable Gentleman has given. No human being could have anticipated that these private Members' Bills would have come on to-night. So little was it expected that the business would be disposed of so rapidly that, as the House is aware, I moved the suspension of the 12 o'clock rule early in the evening, and I do not think it is improbable that the honourable Gentleman was one of those who voted against me on that occasion. If the honourable Member says he divided against the Motion because he thought it was unnecessary, and that he expected that the consideration of the Benefices Bill would be over by half-past seven, then I will accept his assurance. Well, now, Sir, I think he will agree with me that to take private Members' Bills on a Government night, dealing with subjects of enormous importance, when nobody could have anticipated that those Bills would have come on, would have been a most inconvenient process. I think I should not be consulting the wishes of honourable Gentlemen sitting on this side of the House, or fulfilling the deliberately expressed wishes of honourable Gentlemen on the other side, if I did not proceed with this Motion. I hope, therefore, that the honourable Gentleman will not press the House to a Division.

SIR A. B. FORWOOD (Lancashire, Ormskirk)

I beg to make an appeal to the Leader of the House to allow the Common Employment Abolition Bill to be taken. I do not think that the consideration of this Measure will take more than five minutes. All the clauses have been agreed upon with the exception of two. One of these, I think, will be ruled out of order, and the other one I have not the slightest objection to. Now, I make this appeal to the right honourable Gentleman on these grounds. It is a Measure affecting large bodies of the working classes of this country. It was the second private Bill introduced this Session, and it is one with which we might have reasonably expected that some progress would be made. But, in consequence of the Government at an early date taking all the remaining Wednesdays of the Session, there has been no proper opportunity of taking the Committee stage of the Hill. If my right honourable Friend would hold out some hope, or give us some satisfactory assurance, that at no distant date he will give an opportunity of taking the Committee stage, I certainly should not oppose the adjournment of the House. But if he still maintains that he cannot see his way to give some reasonable assurance, as this is a Bill which affects large numbers of the working classes, as a protest I shall have to join in this Division in opposition to the Motion.

MR. MORTON (Devonport)

I know that on this side of the House, and also on the other side of the House, many honourable Members representing working class constituencies feel very strongly upon this Measure, and I think, in order to meet their wishes, the right honourable Gentleman might allow this Bill to be taken to-night. I cannot understand the principle upon which honourable Members make agreements with certain sections of the House to the exclusion of other sections, and I take this opportunity of protesting against it.

MR. FLOWER (Bradford, W.)

This is a Bill in which I am interested, and which has the support of both sides of the House. Under these circumstances, I should like to take the greatest possible advantage of this opportunity, if the right honourable Gentleman can see his way to allow this Measure to be brought forward.

MR. CHANNING (Northampton, E.)

I should like to join in the protest made by the honourable Member for Leicester, and the honourable Baronet opposite, against this Motion, on the ground that there is a very wide interest taken in the Bill. What is the situation? The First Lord of the Treasury rinds the Measures set down disposed of, and he has evidently been met in a conciliatory spirit, and he is in the position of having really the evening before him. I think we ought to be able to rely upon the Government to see that private Members have some reasonable chance of carrying such Measures as commend themselves to the general interest, and which are in accord with the general feeling of the House and of the country. I also wish to protest against this habit of making agreements with certain sections of this House without the authority of the Leader of the Opposition. I was not present at the time, but I understand that no questions were put to the right honourable Gentleman, and that no intimation was given by him at that time that the adjournment would be moved at the close of the Government Measures. I think it is absolutely unreasonable to insist upon the adjournment of the House, and not allow questions to be disposed of, which, as has been shown in this discussion, it is quite clear from the statement of the right honourable Baronet, and others who have spoken, could be disposed of in a short time and in a conciliatory spirit.

MR. NUSSEY (Pontefract)

I should like to know if it is quite true what the right honourable Gentleman has said about an agreement being entered into on this side of the House. I do not agree with the Gentlemen on this side of the House who say that such agreements are for the benefit of public business in this House. I really think that when the right honourable Gentleman made this agreement he might also have arranged for some Member of the Front Opposition Bench, to be present. We are on this side of the House like sheep without a shepherd. But, Sir, I do not think this agreement applied to this particular Bill, for I understand that it relates entirely to Government Measures, and, therefore, I ask the right honourable Gentleman if that is not the case, and whether he will not reconsider his decision and allow us to take a Measure in which a large amount of interest is taken in this House.


I think I can answer that question, as my right honourable Friend cannot under the Rules of the House speak again. Members on both sides of the House made an arrangement—


No, no! We never heard of it on this side.


My honourable Friend the Secretary to the Treasury, who was naturally concerned in this matter, came to me in the absence of my right honourable Friend the First Lord of the Treasury and said that he understood that there was a desire that the adjournment of the House should be moved directly the Government business was finished. Hearing that, I at once said that I was sure that my right honourable Friend the Leader of the House would agree to that course, as he has often done before, and, consequently, I authorised my honourable Friend to give a promise that the adjournment should be moved when the Government business had been disposed of. I have no doubt that many honourable Members have left the House under the impression that that promise will be fulfilled.

MR. ROBSON (South Shields)

The observation just made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer does not add much to our information or enlightenment. He has told us of a coversation which took place between himself and one of his own colleagues, and he has told us that this conversation, judging from the tone in which he replied, is to be treated as something which is binding upon us. What we are entitled to know is, was any such arrangement made with the Leader of the Opposition, or with any Gentleman on the Front Opposition Bench? Then, when we know with whom the agreement was made, we are entitled to ask what the agreement was. Was there any agreement between the First Lord of the Treasury and anybody on this side of the House to tell us that this Bill should not be taken to-night? We have not been told so yet.


This being a Government night, the arrangement was that at the end of the Government business the adjournment of the House should be moved.


That, no doubt, is sufficiently explicit. But was there an agreement made excluding this Bill? If so, we have yet to learn with whom that agreement was made, and we are also entitled to ask further why was it made? Why was this Bill put down on the Paper to-night except in view of the very contingency which has happened? It is impossible to suppose that it was put down except in the hope that the Government business might unexpectedly cease. Having been put on the Paper for that purpose, we are entitled to ask that this Bill shall be taken.

* MR. J. A. PEASE (Northumberland, Tyneside)

I think I can throw some light upon the character of the arrangement, as I was personally aware of an arrangement being made between, certain Members of the House and the Government officials, but no reference was made in my presence to any question of the adjournment of the House. At the same time I do not say that the subject was not mentioned, but before these front benches became in such a vacated state, I asked some of the leaders of the Liberal Party sitting on the Front Bench at the time whether any communications had been made to them in reference to the procedure to-night, and I understood from them that no represensations had ben made with regard to the procedure this evening. I think every individual Member on this side of the House must feel that he is not bound at all in honour to keep to an arrangement which has been made between representatives of the Government and one or two casual, irresponsible Members sitting below the Gangway.

MR. BURNS (Battersea)

I am not particularly concerned about the agreement or the rule which has been made, but the Government, having a big majority at its back, can, if they so choose, kill this Bill for the Session, or, if it alters its mind, can pass it within five minutes. If the First Lord of the Treasury cannot see his way to allow this Bill to go through the House to-night, at any rate he might promise

to grant sufficient time or facilities so as to get it through the House this Session, because it is strongly backed from all quarters of the House.

* MR. CARVELL WILLIAMS (Notts, Mansfield)

I wish to state that I have been no party to any agreement, and I oppose the Motion for adjournment because a considerable number of very valuable Bills will of necessity have to be sacrificed. It seems to me to be almost criminal not to take advantage of the opportunity we now have of passing this Bill.

Question put— That the House do now adjourn.

The House divided:—Ayes 124; Noes 54.—(Division list No. 166.)

Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John Cubitt, Hon. Henry Lea, Sir T. (Londonderry)
Bagot, Capt. J. FitzRoy Curzon, Viscount (Bucks) Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie
Balcarres, Lord Donkin, Richard Sim Llewellyn, E. H. (Somerset)
Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (Manc'r) Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers- Llewelyn, Sir Dillwyn- (Sw'ns'a)
Barnes, Frederic Gorell Duncombe, Hon. Hubert V. Loder, G. W. Erskine
Barry, Rt Hn A H Smith- (Hunts) Fardell, Sir T. George Long, Rt. Hon. W. (Liverp'l)
Barton, Dunbar Plunket Fellowes. Hon. A. Edward Loyd, Archie Kirkman
Bathurst, Hon. A. Benjamin Field, Admiral (Eastbourne) Macartney, W. G. Ellison
Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H. (Brist'l) Finlay, Sir R. Bannatyne McArthur, C. (Liverpool)
Beresford, Lord Charles Fisher, William Hayes Malcolm, Ian
Bethell, Commander Flannery, Fortescue Milton, Viscount
Bhownaggree, Sir M. M. Flower, Ernest Monckton, Edward Philip
Biddulph, Michael Folkestone, Viscount More, Robert Jasper
Bigwood, James Forster, Henry William Morrell, George Herbert
Blundell, Colonel Henry Galloway, William Johnson Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford)
Boulnois, Edmund Garfit, William Murray, Rt. Hn. A. G. (Bute)
Bowles, T. G. (King's Lynn) Gibbons, J. Lloyd Murray, Col. W. (Bath)
Brookfield, A. Montagu Gibbs, Hon. V. (St. Albans) Nicholson, William Graham
Bucknill, Thomas Townsend Giles, Charles Tyrell Nicol, Donald Ninian
Bullard, Sir Harry Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir J. E. Phillpotts, Captain Arthur
Cayzer, Sir Charles William Gray, Ernest (West Ham) Pierpoint, Robert
Chaloner, Captain R. G. W. Gretton, John Pollock, Hurry Frederick
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. (Birm.) Hanbury, Rt. Hon. R. W. Purvis, Robert
Chamberlain, J. A. (Worc'r) Hanson, Sir Reginald Quilter, Sir Cuthbert
Charrington, Spencer Helder, Augustus Rankin, James
Clare, Octavius Leigh Hill, Rt. Hn. Lord A. (Down) Redmond, William (Clare)
Clough, Walter Owen Howard, Joseph Richardson, Sir T. (Hartlep'l)
Cochrane, Hon. T. H. A. E. Howell, William Tudor Ritchie, Rt. Hon. C. T.
Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse Jebb, Richard Claverhouse Russell, T. W. (Tyrone)
Colston, C. E. H. Athole Johnston, William (Belfast) Sandys, Lieut.-Col. T. Myles
Cook, Fred. Lucas (Lambeth) Kemp, George Sharpe, William Edward T.
Corbett. A C. (Glasgow) Kennaway, Rt. Hn. Sir J. H. Sidebotham, J. W. (Cheshire)
Cornwallis, F. Stanley W. Kenrick. William Sidebottom, W. (Derbyshire)
Cross, A. (Glasgow) King, Sir Henry Seymour Sinclair, Capt. J. (Forfarsh.)
Cross, H. Shepherd (Bolton) Lawson J. Grant (Yorks) Skewes-Cox, Thomas
Spencer, Ernest Verney, Hon. Richard G. Wortley, Rt. Hn. C. B. Stuart-
Stanley, Lord (Lancs) Warr, Augustus Frederick Wylie, Alexander
Stirling-Maxwell, Sir J. M. Webster, Sir R. E. (I. of W.) Young, Commander (Berks, E.)
Stone, Sir Benjamin Williams, J. Powell (Birm.)
Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley Willoughby de Eresby, Lord TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.
Talbot, Rt Hn. J. G. (Oxf'dUny.) Willox, Sir J. Archibald
Tritton, Charles Ernest Wilson, John (Falkirk)
Valentia, Viscount Wodehouse, E. R. (Bath)
Abraham, William (Rhondda) Healy, Maurice (Cork) Randell, David
Allan, William (Gateshead) Holburn, J. G. Roberts, J. Bryn (Eifion)
Austin, Sir J. (Yorkshire) Horniman, Frederick John Robson, William Snowdon
Barlow, John Emmott Humphreys-Owen, Arthur C. Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)
Bayley, T. (Derbyshire) Jameson, Major J. Eustace Spicer, Albert
Billson, Alfred Jones, W. (Carnarvonshire) Sullivan, Donal (Westmeath)
Brigg, John Kenyon, James Thomas, A. (Glamorgan, E.)
Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson Leng, Sir John Thomas, David A. (Merthyr)
Burns, John Leuty, Thomas Richmond
Caldwell, James Lewis, John Herbert Tully, Jasper
Charming, Francis Allston Lowles, John Wallace, R. (Edinburgh)
Colville, John Macaleese, Daniel Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)
Daly, James McLaren, Charles Benjamin Wedderburn, Sir William
Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan) Maddison, Fred. Whittaker, Thomas Palmer
Doogan, P. C Mendl, Sigismund Ferdinand Williams, John C. (Notts)
Duckworth, James Morton, E. J. C. (Devonport)
Dunn, Sir William Pease, J. A. (Northumberland) TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. Broadhurst and Sir Arthur Forwood.
Goddard, Daniel Ford Philipps, John Wynford
Gourley, Sir E. Temperley Pirie, Duncan V.
Harwood, George Priestley, Briggs (Yorks)

House adjourned at 8.55.