§ SIR FORTESCUE FLANNERY (Yorkshire, Shipley)
I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury whether, in view of the great anxiety throughout the country, and the loss of time resulting from the present debate, he can see his way to state at once what steps the Government are taking, and what additional adequate reinforcements they are preparing to forward to South Africa.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I entirely recognise with my hon. friend the very great importance of this question in itself, and also the great public interest which it naturally and properly excites. But my hon. friend, who is an old member of the House, and the House generally, will recognise that it will be not only most irregular, but most inconvenient, to interpolate important business of this kind, which must lead to discussion, into 258 the middle of the Queen's Speech. We, certainly, who sit on this side of the House and on this bench, are most anxious for every reason that the debate on the Address should be brought to a rapid conclusion. The House is aware that it does not rest with us, and, if blame there be, it is not my business to suggest that that blame should be placed on the right shoulders.
§ MR. SWIFT MACNEILL
The right hon. Gentleman is always very fair, so I will ask him whether he recollects the pledge he gave us last session, when the Address was hurried through, that ample time would be given for the discussion of Amendments to the Address this session.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I do not know what the terms of my answer then may have been; all I have to say to-day is that we are most anxious, on public grounds, not for the purpose of our own convenience, that a discussion in which, I believe, the public take no interest whatever should be brought to a speedy conclusion. I never suggested that any undue curtailment of the debate should take place.
MR. T. M. HEALY
Why do you not call in one of the generals to "take away that bauble," and abolish the House of Commons?