§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON (Tower Hamlets, Poplar)
said he wished to ask a question of the First Lord of the Treasury with reference to the Supplementary Estimates. It seemed to him that these Estimates, in the form in which they were to-day presented to the House for the first time, would be put in one sum from the Chair. This would enable the whole of the amount to be taken at once if the Government in their necessity thought it expedient to do so. Formerly, each Supplementary Estimate was put separately from the Chair. He wished to ask why had this innovation been introduced without notice, and what† See page 102 of this Volume.258 opportunity would be given to the House to discuss it.
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND (Waterford)
said that this was a matter of the greatest importance affecting the procedure of the House, and in a few short sentences he would try and make the position quite clear. The Government in the usual course introduced the Supplementary Estimates under thirty-five different heads. Fourteen of these were discussed and disposed of. The fifteenth, the Vote for the Stationery Office, was at present under discussion. Now the Government were withdrawing the whole of the Supplementary Estimates, including the Vote under discussion, and were substituting a new Supplementary Estimate, not for a series of sums, each sum affecting a separate Department, but for one sum of nearly £1,000,000 covering the whole of the Departments. As far as the Civil Service Estimates were concerned, was this course not without precedent? Did the right, hon. Gentleman propose to inaugurate this new practice without any discussion whatever? Under the old practice each sum was voted for a particular Department, and no portion of one sum voted for one Department could be spent on another Department. If the whole amount was voted in one sum, however, would it not be competent to spend the whole of it on one Department or on two or three Departments? This being quite a new innovation in practice, did not the right hon. Gentleman think it right that the House should have a full opportunity of discussing it?
§ THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR, Manchester, E.)
The hon. Gentleman has with great clearness put several questions, and I will endeavour to answer them. One was whether the form now adopted of presenting the Estimate would enable one Department to spend money intended by the House for another Department— whether, in fact, the control over the allocation of the money would not be lost. In my opinion, no such consequence will follow from the change. The allocation of the money will be as strictly limited by law as if the ordinary form of the Estimates had been main- 259 tained. The hon. Member has also asked whether there is any precedent for such a procedure in the Civil Service Estimates. I do not know whether the hon. Member will call it a precedent, but there is the precedent of Excess Votes. The analogy between the two cases is close; Votes belonging to different Departments and dealt with by different Ministers are put together from the Chair as one sum.
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND
J asked the right hon. Gentleman not whether there was any analogous case, but whether there was any precedent in Civil Service Supplementary Estimates.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
There is no precedent. The change has been made broadly in the interests of the discussion of the Estimates. The whole of the Estimates must be obtained in order to introduce the Appropriation Bill on this day week. I propose that the whole of the Parliamentary time between now and Monday, except Wednesday, shall be devoted to the discussion of the Estimates. Is it not better that the House should devote this time to the best purposes of debate, rather than that it should be engaged in voting time after time upon matters of relatively small importance, as we have, I regret to say, been doing? Undoubtedly the effect of the change will be to enable the whole question to be put as one from the Chair; but this will not preclude Amendments from being moved, nor will it curtail debate on any item in the Estimates. I think that if he will reflect for one moment, the hon. Member will see that the change is very much in the interests of full discussion in the House. In addition to the fundamental and important change about which questions have been asked, there have been two or three subsidiary and minor changes. The first is that I have omitted a Vote which might legitimately have given rise to some debate—the subsidy for the Viceroy of Wu-sung. It is not technically necessary to take that Vote on the Supplementary Estimates. Then there has been introduced the Estimate for the Queen's funeral, and I have altered the order of the Estimates so that the Votes 260 which I believe excite most interest will not be put off by debates on minor matters.
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON
But the right hon. Gentleman has not answered my question as to what opportunity will be afforded the House for discussing this innovation.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I should hope that after my explanation there will not be any great desire on the part of the House to discuss the innovation. The circumstances are altogether special, and special means must be taken to meet them. The circumstances are well known to the House, and I hope that without further discussion the reasonableness of the course adopted will commend itself to all hon. Members.
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON (Dundee)
said it appeared to him that this was simply a new kind of closure, invented to meet the temporary and passing exigencies of the present session, owing entirely to the late date at which Parliament was called together. He appealed to the right hon. Gentleman whether, having invented it, be could not carry his ingenuity a little further and give the House an opportunity of saying whether or not it approved his action. Surely they were entitled to such an opportunity.
§ SIR JOHN BRUNNER (Cheshire, Northwich)
If an Amendment were moved to an item low down on the list, would that preclude any discussion on items preceding it?
§ MR. BLAKE (Longford, S.)
said the effect of the change would be to concentrate discussion on one particular topic, and it would do away with the system of one Amendment one Vote.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I have been asked whether my ingenuity cannot find time for the discussion of this change. I am glad the hon. Member for Dundee refers to it as ingenuity, but I must remind him that the most ingenious man cannot turn one hour into two 261 or find time where it does not exist. It is no doubt in the power of the House to take time to discuss this change out of the available time for the discussion of the Estimates. If it is not in order to move the adjournment of the House, no doubt the question might be raised on the Estimates.
§ *MR. SPEAKER
There is some analogy in what occurred in 1890, when the late Mr. Smith laid Estimates on the Table of the House, and the number of Votes was reduced from, I think, 157 to 10G, without any previous notice, by consolidating a number of the Votes. I remember that on that occasion an hon. Member asked whether he might move the adjournment of the House, and Mr. Speaker Peel informed him that the proper course would be to move to report Progress when the House went into Committee, and to raise the question in that way.
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND
The case which you have put before the House is not an exact precedent. It was a case where the number of Votes was reduced from 137 to something less, and a few of them were consolidated. This is a case where the remainder of the Supplementary Votes have been withdrawn, including one actually under discussion, and they have been consolidated in one sum which covers them all. In those circumstances I would ask permission to move the adjournment of the House in order to call attention to a definite matter of urgent public importance—namely,"the substitution for the Civil Service Estimates previously presented of a Supplementary Estimate for one sum covering all the various Departments, contrary to the uniform practice of the House.
I shall not prevent the hon. Member from discussing the change. On the occasion to which I have referred, Mr. Speaker Peel recommended the hon. Member to deal with the matter in Committee, but I did not understand him to rule that it could not be done by moving the adjournment of the House. Has the hon. Member the leave of the House?
*SIR: E. ASHMEAD-BARTLETT (Sheffield, Ecclesall)
Before the hon. Gentle- 262 man moves his motion I wish to ask a question with regard to the answer just made by the First Lord of the Treasury. I understood him to say that under the Vote in its new form if a reduction was moved regarding one of the subjects which come towards the end of the Vote under discussion, that would cut out an Amendment upon an earlier item. I wish to ask whether it is not a fact that any Amendment moved must be an Amendment upon the whole sum, and whether it will not be entirely in the hands of the Speaker or Chairman to decide as to who speaks and in what order.
§ *MR. SPEAKER
I cannot anticipate the ruling of the Chair, and the ruling of the Chairman of Committees on the subject is a matter entirely for him. Has the hon. Member for Waterford the leave of the House?
The pleasure of the House having been signified—
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND
The first complaint which I have to make with reference to the action of the Government in this matter is that they are endeavouring to initiate an entirely new practice of far-reaching importance, almost, I would say, by stealth, but certainly without any notice whatever to anybody. I venture to say that in the whole House of Commons on both sides of the House there were probably not a dozen men who came down here this afternoon, who knew that this change was to be attempted to-day. These revised Supplementary Estimates were, it is true, circulated on Saturday, but, without any notice of any sort or kind which hon. Members would have been able to take cognisance of, this new rule has been sprung upon the House. I do not know what view the Liberal Members of this House take upon this matter, but it seems to me that the right hon. Gentleman and the Government are going steadily step by step along the road at the end of which absolute suppression of independent criticisms of the Estimates is the goal. If the right hon. Gentleman is allowed now with regard to Supplementary Estimates covering all the branches of the service to introduce it as one sum so that only one divi- 263 sion can be taken upon it, discussion upon the different items will be destroyed, because although the right hon. Gentleman pointed out to us that we might move Amendments upon, each item, the next moment he had to admit that if an Amendment was moved upon some item low down in the list, that would preclude the possibility of moving any Amendment upon an item higher up in the list. If the right hon. Gentleman is permitted by the House of Commons to do this against the protest of a little group of hon. Members on the Irish benches—and I say that all the independent Members of this House, who desire to safeguard their rights and liberties should join in this protest—the next thing that will happen will be that on some future day you will find a Minister coming down to this House, and, not in a Supplementary Estimate, but in the original Estimate, proposing one sum to cover the whole series of services. This question affects the right of discussion in this House and the right of individual criticism by independent Members, and I respectfully submit that it ought to be considered solely and, indeed, entirely apart from the immediate needs or circumstances of the moment. The House of Commons, by authorising a practice like this, is establishing a precedent for all time. There may be Members of this House—probably there is a majority of Members of this House—who have such confidence in the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury, and in his having control of the financial concerns of the Empire, that they do not fear putting enormous powers into his bands. But they ought to think of the future, and it is impossible for them to foretell when the time may come when there may be in office a Government that they do not trust, and when there may be upon the Treasury Bench English statesmen controlling the financial affairs of the Empire, into whose bands they do not desire to have those enormous powers put. What would be the position of this House of Commons in the future if on the original Estimates for the year a procedure of this kind happened to be followed? It is no use for the right hon. Gentleman to say that this would never be done. I say that by sanctioning this new procedure on 264 Supplementary Estimates you are creating something that will be quoted some day as a precedent for going further, ft is a fatal practice from the point of view of the House of Commons itself, and from the point of view of independent Members. It is fatal to acquiesce without a protest in this continual encroachment upon our rights and liberties. So far as the Irish Members are concerned, we who come here from Ireland are bound to protest in the strongest and most effective way against this continual deprivation of those rights which we enjoy of discussing the government of our country. One effect of this new rule will be to abolish the possibility of divisions. On the Supplementary Estimates under the old practice every individual Vote is put separately from the Chair, and the discussion on that Vote is confined to that subject; and if there happen to be any Members of the House who are dissatisfied with the undertakings and explanations given by the Government they are entitled to register their disapproval by voting against the item in the lobby. That is all to be changed now, and these thirty-five different heads of Supply are all to be grouped together. There will be a general discussion on the whole Vote, and when one Member gets up and discusses one Department, the Member who immediately follows him will raise the discussion on another Department, and thus destroy any possibility of effective debate on any Department. Some hon. Member who is lucky enough to be called upon early in the discussion may move an Amendment dealing with some particular Department in which he happens to be interested, and will raise, perhaps, a question of £10, £20, or perhaps £70. If such a case happened, and the Member called upon by the Chairman moves an Amendment, that would preclude any single opportunity of discussion on any of the items that appeared on the list before it, although the subject tinder discussion might be the very last one of the thirty-five items. I think it is discreditable that a change of this magnitude should be brought on in this way without notice. It is conduct similar to what I characterised on a former occasion as Parliamentary sharp practice, and I do not believe any Government has anything to gain by it. If an 265 alteration in the procedure of the House of Commons, so vast and far-reaching in its importance, is to be, proposed by the Government, it ought to be done openly and aboveboard, after due notice has been given to the House of Commons, and after adequate discussion. This is an attempt to sneak through unobserved, and to smuggle this new practice into the orders and rules of this House, and to cheat the great bulk of hon. Members of their rights and privileges of debate.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I ought, perhaps, to tell the hon. Member that I took care on Saturday to inform the Leader of the Opposition of what was going to be done.
§ MR. A.J. BALFOUR
No: but still it can hardly be said that I tried to sneak it through, if I told the Leader of the Opposition.
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND
I do not believe in the efficacy of hard words. If the right hon. Gentleman objects to the words I have used I will withdraw them.
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND
The Leader of the Opposition is not in the House, but his colleagues are there, and two of them have expressed dissent from what is proposed by the light hon. Gentleman.
§ MR. A.J. BALFOUR
I am sorry to interrupt the hon. Member. I never suggested for a moment that the Leader of the Opposition concurred. I was only dealing with the question of informing him.
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND
I would like very much to ask some of the hon. members of the Opposition upon that Front Bench, whether the notice conveyed to the Leader of the Opposition went any further, and whether it was conveyed to all the gentlemen upon that bench or to their followers. I venture to say, without fear of being contradicted, that 266 so far as the bulk of the Liberal Members of this House are concerned, they never heard of this thing until now. [Opposition cheers.] Those cheers justify me in saying that so far as the bulk of the Liberal party is concerned it is true to say that an attempt has been made to smuggle this new rule unobserved into the Orders of this House. I do not understand the right hon. Gentleman's idea of notice. No one will contend that for this most important change, this most far-reaching change, in the rules of the House it is sufficient notice to give on a Saturday afternoon a private intimation to the Leader of the Opposition that it is intended to raise this question on the following Monday. Does the right hon. Gentleman not know that according to the rules of fairness and courtesy in this House notices of changes of this kind are always given publicly in the House, and that sufficient time is always allowed to elapse to enable hon. Members to consider what action they will take? With reference to the Leader of the Opposition this may have been done, but so far as the Irish party are concerned they got no notice at all. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman thought we were so simple and ignorant of the forms of this House that this innovation would slip through without our notice. If so, he underrated our vigilance. I confess for myself quite candidly that I knew nothing about this till I came down to the blouse this afternoon, because I had been away in the country, and did not receive my Parliamentary Papers, but if I had received them I should not quite have appreciated what had occurred. I find that my own countrymen were more vigilant than myself, and they were quite alive to the importance of the step about to be taken. I protest about an effort being made to put this new practice into operation without any notice at all to the Irish party. The right hon. Gentleman will gain nothing now. or at any time in the session, by this effort to smuggle in this new practice and this new rule to suppress freedom of discussion upon the Estimates. I do not know how far the protest I desire to make will be supported by independent Members of the House generally. It will be supported, at any rate, by the entire body of the Irish Members, and 267 so far as we are concerned, if it will be any comfort to the right hon. Gentleman, I may say to him that this new practice which he is trying to smuggle into the rules of the House will be a renewed incentive to us to scrutinise every item of Supply whether it affects Ireland or not, and to use every form and every rule and power we possess to prevent the possibility of the most important work of this House being stifled. One advantage the right hon. Gentleman has gained is that we must naturally speak here without looking into the precedents and without preparation. That probably has saved me some trouble and the House of Commons some time, because hon. Members might have had to listen to a much longer speech from me if proper notice had been given. What right has the Government to propose a change of this kind without giving us sufficient opportunities to look up the precedents and to come down here armed with the knowledge of what the House has done in similar cases in the past? I asked the right hon. Gentleman if there was any precedent for such a course, and ho had to admit that there was not. No precedent for this vast and far-reaching change ! Yet he comes down and absolutely endeavours to put it into operation without a word of explanation or apology, and without fortifying himself by oven the precedents of analogous cases. There never was a case in my experience of this House when the adjournment of a question was more necessary. I do not want the House to be adjourned; I want this question to be adjourned, so that we may have a proper opportunity of looking into the precedents and practice of the past in order intelligently to discuss the matter. I make the motion "That this House do now adjourn," because that is the only form in which I can make my protest. My desire is to call the attention of the House of Commons to what is being done, and to ask that in fairness to the House the consideration of this new Supplementary Estimate should be adjourned. If this is not done this new Estimate will come before us to-night, because I am told that, again in violation of the practice of the House as far as I know it, on the Navy Estimates the Secretary to the Admiralty will make his statement with 268 the Speaker in the Chair, and that the consideration of these Estimates will then be immediately adjourned. That is a violation perpetrated with the sole object of turning one of the recent ballots into a farce. We had a ballot for places for moving an Amendment on the question of the Speaker leaving the Chair on the Navy Estimates, and the first place happened to be won by an Irish Member, but in order to prevent him having the advantage of his good fortune this violation of ordinary practice is to be committed. The whole proceeding is most discreditable, and if for nothing else but the attempt which has been made to rush and smuggle this thing through, and to hoodwink Members of the House, I think a most determined protest should be made. With that object in view, I beg to move the adjournment of the House.
§ MR. LOUGH (Islington, W.)
I rise to second the motion. I cannot but think that if the Leader of the House will give this matter a little thought he will, before the debate goes too far, reconsider the course he has taken. I do not suppose it will be too late to omit these new figures at the beginning of the Estimate, and then proceed in the ordinary way. There could not be a moment in our proceedings when a violent change of this kind was more inopportune. On Friday last we granted quite twenty millions of Supply. An arrangement—most Members thought a harmonious arrangement —to facilitate the Government was agreed to by general consent, and I understand the right hon. Gentleman got all the Supply he required for the Army until the end of the financial year. I. should have thought, after such an arrangement, that no other step of this kind could be necessary. The right hon. Gentleman has stated that he has arranged these Estimates in the way he thought the House desired to discuss them. I admit there is in the arrangement an attempt to meet the views of the House, in putting, first the Vote for which we have been looking for weeks past. But there is. this difficulty: the right hon. Gentleman cannot secure that the discussion should actually take place on that particular item. The right hon. Gentleman has admitted that. Any Vote may be 269 taken, and a trifling point may cut out all the discussion on the most important Estimates. I would ask the House to look at these Estimates. The first three items are for three separate wars in three important dependencies of this country. There has been no discussion in the House with regard to any one of those three wars, and by the adoption of the change now made all discussion may be prevented. In the first war thousands of lives have been sacrificed. We have no particulars about the war in Somali-land. There is also the war in Uganda. There could not be an occasion upon which a violent innovation of this kind? could be more out of place, and I do hope the right hon. Gentleman will reconsider the matter. I admit the difficulty is very great, as the Government must get their money this week, but I really think there are other steps open to the Leader of the House to secure his end. The discussions last week were not carried on in any unreasonable spirit, and it is a bad reward to take such a big step as is now contemplated.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."— (Mr. John Redmond.)
§ THE FINANCIAL SECRETARY TO THE TREASURY (Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN, Worcestershire, E.)
The hon. Members who have spoken have taken rather different ground in addressing themselves to the change which has been made in the form of this Supplementary Estimate. The hon. Member for Waterford took exception to it in the main because it was introduced, as he said, by stealth, because it was an attempt to smuggle through a great change without bringing it to the notice of Members of the House, and because it would form a dangerous precedent for the future. My right hon. friend the First Lord of the Treasury interrupted the hon. Member, and pointed out that he had himself taken the trouble to call the attention of the Leader of the Opposition to the change which was to be made, and I do not think any followers of the right hon. Gentleman have a right to take exception.
§ MR. HERBERT GLADSTONE (Leeds, W.)
May I point out to the hon. 270 Gentleman that the letter only reached the Leader of the Opposition on Saturday, and, so far as I am concerned, I learned of it only this morning.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
The Estimates were circulated on Saturday, and on the same day my right hon. friend went out of his way to call the attention of the Leader of the Opposition to the change. I do not criticise the action of the right hon. Gentleman in the least, and I do not wish to imply that he or his colleagues accepted the change. My right hon. friend has said that the right hon. Gentleman did not accept it, but the fact that notice was given is incompatible with the charge of the hon. Member for Waterford. But the hon. Member says, "Oh, but there was no notice to the Irish party."
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND
To the House generally. My charge was that the universal practice of giving notice— namely, public notice, which would in the ordinary way reach every Member of the House—was broken.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
That practice was not broken. I do not wish to contradict the hon. Member rudely, but notice was given by the circulation of the Estimates. Those Estimates were in the hands of Members or at their addresses, comparatively early on Saturday morning. The hon. Member has himself answered his complaint. He says there was no notice, that he was out of town, and that he was not aware of the change, but in the next breath he told us. with some pride, that his colleagues around him had been more alert than he, and that they were perfectly well aware of the change. If they were perfectly aware of the change, what is the use of complaining that notice was not given? The hon. Gentleman went on to say that this would form a very dangerous precedent, which some day might be, extended to other matters and seriously cripple the control of the House over expenditure. I confess I am somewhat surprised to hear from that quarter of the House the kind of argument known as the "thin edge of the wedge," which is so often the object of the denunciation of hon. Members opposite. 271 They complain sometimes that hon. Members on this side of the House object to a change for fear of the consequences which may follow; they then ridicule that fear, and we are adjured never to hesitate to do what is right in itself, because some unreasonable person may ask us to do something which is wrong in consequence. Both hon. Members who have spoken have very much overrated the importance of the change we have made, and have misunderstood its exact effect. The question of the form in which the Estimates should be presented has in past years, on more than one occasion, been before the House and before the Public Accounts Committee. If hon. Members will consult the Reports of the Public Accounts Committee they will find that what they lay stress upon is the right of the House to see that the money voted for particular purposes is applied to those purposes, that the appropriation of the money voted by the House is complete, and that the control exercised by the Treasury in the first place, and by the Public Accounts Committee and Parliament in the second place, is not lessened by any change in the form of the accounts. We have taken care in presenting this Estimate that the appropriation of the money should not be affected, and that the responsibility of the individual accounting officers should not be affected by anything we have done. Against every sum in this schedule the House has before it the name of the office and an indication of the accounting officer who will be responsible for the administration of the Vote, and no greater power to transfer money from one object to another, or from one subject to another, is given either to the Treasury or to any other Government Department than it at present possesses. If that is realised, hon. Members will see that there is no principle at stake in regard to the control of this House over finance, and that the question resolves itself into one merely of convenience—of the way in. which the time at our disposal can best be disposed of and allocated to the business we have to perform. The hon. Member for West Islington alluded to the first two Votes, and said they raised very important questions in connection with wars which had not yet been discussed, and which the House was entitled to discuss. It is exactly 272 in order to meet that that the Government have made this change. Those Votes are in Class 5. and as printed, and as they would have been taken under the first Supplementary Estimates they would come more than half-way down the list of Votes yet to be gone through. Therefore, with the very limited time at our disposal which can be allocated to the discussion of these Supplementary Estimates—[An HON. MEMBER: Why?] Because, as the Leader of the House has already explained, the Committee of Supply must be confined to this week, and Report taken on Monday next, if the law is to be complied with. Therefore, with the very limited time at our disposal, it was not only possible, but probable, if we continued to take the discussion, of the Votes in the order in which they stood on the Paper, that these particular Votes would not have been discussed at all, but we should have continued to spend our time on far less important matters.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
The hon. Member is mistaken; a reduction can be moved in respect of any item which stands in the Vote, and we have given, to the House full information as to all the items and all the details of the items included in this lump sum of £893,000. Let me call the attention of the House to what has happened. In Committee of Supply up till to-day on the Supplementary Estimates we have already spent three days; and the portion of time we have still to spend upon them in their new form is the greater part of to-day and to-morrow. We shall have another day on Report, making not less than five or five and a half days in all for their discussion this year. I believe that on no single occasion during the last ten years have the corresponding Votes, together with their Report, taken four days, and only on four occasions have they taken as much as three days. [An HON. MEMBER: They were never so large.] I find that in 1899–1900 there were seventeen Civil Service Votes, in 1898–99 twenty-four Votes, and in 1897–98 fifteen Votes.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I have not the references with me for that year, but for the last three years there were respectively seventeen, twenty-four, and fifteen Civil Service Votes, and in not one of those years did they occupy more than three days. Nor can it be said that the subjects in those years were less important than this year. I find that in 1899–1900 there came on the question of the purchase of the Niger Company, and in 1897–8 the special grants both for Uganda and East Africa in respect to the disturbed condition of those two countries, and especially the payment of compensation to the French missionaries in Uganda—a subject which excited, very properly, great public interest. I point out that the Mouse is having this year more time for the discussion of the Civil Service Estimates than we have had in any of the ten preceding years. I would also call the attention of the House to the manner in which the time that has already been allocated to the purpose is being used. The Supplementary Navy Vote of three millions took part of a day. and the Supplementary Army Estimate—the importance of which nobody will deny—took half a day. But we have given two whole days to the consideration of the Supplementary Civil Service Estimates, and I will say that not a single Vote discussed on these days was of any special importance— |HON. MEMBER'S on the Irish benches: Oh !]—or raised any question of real novelty or interest to the community at large.
§ MR. SYDNEY BUXTON
was understood to ask why the Government had not foreseen that these questions would be raised.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
The hon. Member thinks that we ought to have been able to foretell last November or October twelve months what the price of coal would be during the past twelve months, or that we should have foreseen that there would he an opening of Parliament in state which required special provision to be made. I say nobody can pretend that two days were required to discuss these Votes, or that it was in the interest of the House itself, or of hon. Members who take an interest 274 in important questions still to be discussed, to go on as we have done to-day. We have put down the Estimate in a new form, it is true, but we have put in the forefront the Votes which, from the notices on the Paper and the information which has reached us in the usual way, appeared to be the ones which hon. Members most wished to be discussed, and I had hoped that this arrangement would give fair opportunities for discussion. The hon. Member for Water-ford complained that he had not had more notice of this change in order that he might have searched for precedents. This was unnecessary, because he has already been told by the First Lord of the Treasury that there are no precedents for bringing forward the Supplementary Estimates in this particular form, and therefore I think the time he might have given to research and discussion afterwards would have been fruitless. But there is a very close analogy—that of the Army and Navy Supplementary Estimates, which are invariably introduced in this form, under which there is nothing to prevent questions of even less importance than are involved in the Civil Service Votes being raised. A second analogy is the Excess Civil Service Votes, which are taken by one resolution: and there is also the analogy of the Vote on Account, where exactly the same form is employed. I beg to call attention again to the fact that, while the form in which these Estimates are put to the House is altered, the responsibility of the officials in charge of the administration is not abated, 'and that no greater latitude of appropriation is given to the Government than they already enjoy and use under the existing rules. When that fact is really understood, the House will see that the change is one that raises no great principle, but that it indeed offers the best chance of reasonable discussion on those Votes on which debate is wished. I trust the House will now hasten to close this not very profitable discussion, and that hon. Members will reserve all remarks that might be made for serious consideration until we reach Committee of Supply.
§ SIR ROBERT REID (Dumfries Burghs)
The step which has been 275 taken in altering the form of these Estimates is admittedly without precedent. It is, to my mind, still more significant that the practice which is now to be applied to the Civil Service Estimates has hitherto been, as the hon. Gentleman has said, applied to the Army and Navy Supplementary Estimates. Now, objection was most properly taken both to the manner and the matter of the change. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House told us that the Leader of the Opposition had received on Saturday a communication of the intention of the Government on this matter. I am very sorry that my right hon. friend the Leader of the Opposition is confined to his house and unable to be here this afternoon; but I am able to inform the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House, if he was not aware of it before, that the Leader of the Opposition strongly disapproves of this attempt to alter the practice of the House.
§ SIR ROBERT REID
The right hon. Gentleman is particularly emphatic. I listened to every word he said, and what I have to complain of is that he did not profess that disapproval had been expressed by my right hon. friend. I say that there have been expressions of strong disapproval. I am not at liberty to speak for my right hon. friend, but I am certain that he would not have been prepared to say that notice of the change given to himself was sufficient in a matter of this kind, of which there ought to have been public notice. I myself cannot help thinking that this is a matter in which public notice should have been given. The only public notice given, so to speak, was by a mere circular sent out on Saturday morning. I do not know whether the Leader of the House is in the habit of staying in London from Saturday to Monday and studying the Parliamentary Papers issued on Saturday, on Saturday and Sunday; but a good many of us are not in that habit. And I maintain that notice on Saturday is somewhat tardy and inadequate. I come now to the question of the matter of the change. One result has been disclaimed by the hon. Gentleman opposite. He says he 276 has informed himself that it will not enable the money to be applied in any different manner to what it would have been under the former form. Very well, suppose that is so; but the result remains that the whole thing can be ended by one closure instead of by twenty or more. A second result is, that instead of there being a regular and orderly discussion Vote by Vote, a detached and very often a confused discussion will be raised. The Chairman may think it proper to call one Member or another without being informed as to what subject that Member is going to speak about; and further, if a reduction is moved in regard to one of the later Votes, and accepted by the Chairman, that would preclude any subsequent reduction being moved on a prior Vote.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
The hon. and learned Gentleman is aware that that objection applies pro tanto to any individual Vote in the present form, and that it is the of habit the Chairman, bearing that in mind, to give an opportunity to hon. Members before accepting an Amendment on a late Vote to move an Amendment on an earlier one.
§ SIR ROBERT REID
Within the limited range of the Army and Navy Votes the rule does not apply, and now it is to be applied to Civil Service Votes, which travel over a vast array of subjects —some of great importance, and some of which have never before appeared on the Estimates. In my humble opinion, this House is gradually becoming a Ministerial chamber, and not the House of Commons. Step by step the old privileges and facilities enjoyed by Members of the House of Commons, in their character as Members of the House of Commons representing their constituencies, are being curtailed and diminished in every direction. This is only OIK; of the many changes which have taken place within the last four or five years. I think it is a serious one, and it shocks persons like myself who may claim to be old Parliamentarians. For my part, if the motion goes to a division I shall have great pleasure in recording my vote against the change.
*MR. JAMES LOWTHER (Kent, Thanet)
I hope this proposed arrange- 277 ment will not be persevered with, and that my right hon. friend, seeing the very general feeling of the House, will ! reconsider the determination he has come to. My hon. friend the Secretary to the Treasury fails to appreciate the objections to the change proposed, of which only one individual—no doubt a distinguished Member of the House— received intimation.
*MR. JAMES LOWTHER
At any rate, no public notice whatever was given, and only the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition received a private notice. I was indebted solely to the private information given me by one of the Opposition whips. When I came down this afternoon I said to him, "I suppose this will be a quiet evening," when he told me that he understood that an important question would be raised on the new form in which the Supplementary Estimates were to be presented to the House. I went to the Vote Office for details, and with the practical object of searching for precedents. I venture to say that there is absolutely no precedent for so materially altering the practice of Parliament behind the backs of hon. Members of this House. What does this amount to I We have already had every opportunity and facility taken away from individual and non-official Members for bringing on questions in which they are interested. Tuesdays are practically gone. Fridays are devoted to Supply; and now we are told: "Oh, never mind; you have forfeited your Tuesdays and lost your Fridays, but we have given you favourable opportunities for discussing in Supply anything which you have reason to complain of. And in addition to that, the debates on the Supplementary Estimates are not to be counted in the twenty-three days devoted to Supply," but now we find that so far from our being enabled to discuss the details of the Votes the whole lot may be put in a lump from the Chair without a syllable of discussion. Usually when a change of importance has been made in our procedure, it has formed the subject, not only of debate, 278 but on most occasions the investigation of a Committee of some strength; but in this case we suddenly find we have no voice whatever in so vital an alteration of our procedure, and must sit down without expressing ourselves upon the passage of a rule which strikes in the direction of limiting the criticism of a number of Estimates which may all be put to the House in one Vote. Under this rule one subject may be started upon which nine-tenths of the House of Commons are in no way interested, some dull matter, such as education, which bores nearly everyone to death. In fact it is notorious that the personages who were somewhat irreverently spoken of by Sir Stafford Northcote as "the bonnets'' are instigated to introduce such topics, and when that subject has drawn to an end the rest of the Vote may be closured. It seems to me that if we pass this rule we abandon one of the great functions of the House of Commons. This is not a small change, but a vast interference with the privileges of the Members of this House, and I strongly protest against it.
§ *SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucestershire, Forest of Dean)
pointed out that the evil of this rule, if passed, would be that very important matters might be dealt with without any attention having been directed to them, and without anyone being the wiser. Such a rule ought not to be brought forward in this manner, but only after due and proper notice had been given to the whole House. He regretted that, owing to the illness of the Leader of the Opposition, that question had not been raised on behalf of the whole House. He complained that it was almost impossible to tie the Government down to any promise with regard to this not being made a precedent. Why were a certain number of days to be allotted to the discussion of the Estimates, if the House was not to be allowed to discuss them? There was no real knowledge on the part of Members of the House of the change which this rule implied. It was perfectly true that a revised Estimate came on the previous Saturday, but there was nothing in the revised Estimate to attract the attention of the House to the change, 279 and the overwhelming majority of the Members of the House would not notice from that revised Estimate that any change was being made in the procedure. One great difficulty presented by this change taking place in the discussion of the Estimates was that it allowed any inconvenient Estimate to be absolutely withdrawn from discussion. If the rule passed it could be closured upon the Committee stage, and again upon Report without any discussion being raised. If the suggestion thrown out on a former occasion by the Leader of the House that he would be willing to agree to a Committee being appointed to consider the order in which the Estimates were to be presented—a Committee in which all sections of this House should be represented—it would not remove the difficulty of the operation of the closure, but it would limit the difficulties experienced. It was not a matter to be decided by the Members on the two Front Benches alone, but by the entire House, and if the matter was carried through now, there was a danger that the House of Commons would lose all control over Supply.
§ MR. HENRY HOBHOUSE (Somersetshire, E.)
said perhaps the Leader of the House did not imagine that there was a strong feeling with regard to this surprising innovation on that side of the House. It would be some alleviation if his right hon. friend could give them an assurance that this proposal was only made in view of the exceptional circumstances of the present occasion and was not intended to be made a precedent. He could not conceive, if it were intended to be a precedent, that it should be done in this manner.
§ MR. HENRY HOBHOUSE
said he understood, then, that it was not intended to be a precedent, but was only made in view of the very exceptional circumstances. But even if that were the 280 object, he thought it might have been done in a somewhat different manner, and he appealed to the right hon. Gentleman that some proper consideration might be given to the subject by a Committee selected from all sections of the House. A Select Committee was the only means by which they might come to anything like an agreement as to the procedure on important questions of Supply.
§ SIR THOMAS ESMONDE (Wexford. N.)
The Leader of the House evidently shares the opinion of his distinguished relative, that Parliamentary administration is rather a nuisance. The right hon. Gentleman has done more this session to revolutionise Parliamentary methods by side winds than has ever been done before. To-day we have brought before us the most extraordinary arrangement for the discussion of the Estimates the House has ever seen, an arrangement which, would never have been tolerated by the House in years gone by. The Secretary to the Treasury told us that this arrangement was conceived for the convenience of debate, and that the form in which this Estimate was brought up would enable hon. Members to discuss any matter in which they were interested much more easily than would have been possible under the old system. Here is a long list of nineteen Votes, the last of which is for a sum of £f0, while the entire list totals up to nearly £1,000,000. As I understand, it would be possible for me to move to reduce that last Vote by anything up to £10, and to prevent any other Member discussing either of the eighteen more important matters which come before it. That shows that instead of facilitating debate, this arrangement is only the closure in another form. The hon. Member for Waterford has taken the lead in the protest he has made on behalf of the rights of private Members, and he spoke naturally as the representative of Members from Ireland. There is a point of very great importance to us in this arrangement of Votes. If this precedent is established, what is there to prevent the Irish Government coming down with the whole of the Irish Estimates in this form, with some little ridiculous Vote at the end, so that we should be allowed only one division and practically one discussion? My hon. 281 friend has performed a most important public service in calling attention to this matter, and as far as we are concerned we shall oppose the proposal by every means in our power, because we foresee the extraordinary inroads it may make upon the rights of private Members, and the dangerous precedent it will set for future action.
§ LORD HUGH CECIL (Greenwich)
I rise to say a few words in protest against the suggestion that the feeling on this side of the House is entirely adverse to the action of the Government in this matter. I admit that there are warm feelings on this side as to the way in which the business of the House is conducted, but they do not point in the direction indicated by my hon. friend the Member for East Somerset. The feeling is that a very great deal too much consideration is shown to hon. Gentlemen opposite, and certainly we should not throw obstacles in the way of the Government when they are doing something, at any rate, to ensure that the views of the majority should prevail in the House. It is said that sufficient notice was not given. But these Estimates are not the first Order on the Paper: therefore the time occupied with the Navy Estimate will be available for hon. Members to acquaint themselves with the particulars of the Estimates affected by this arrangement. I can understand that Members want to know when a subject is coming forward in order that they may look up their facts and prepare the speeches they intend to deliver, but everybody knew that Civil Service Estimates might be discussed to-night, and, for the purposes of their speeches, it makes no difference whether the subjects are in one or main Estimates. Therefore, for all purposes of debate, the notice was ample. I cannot myself see why the question of notice is so important. Reference has been made to Uganda. Hon. Members will, of course, spend the same time in getting up their speeches with regard to Uganda, whether the subject is discussed on a separate Vote or as an item of the whole Vote.
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND
That is not the kind of notice to which we were referring. We were referring to the 282 notice which, in our opinion, ought to have been given of a fundamental change in the procedure of the House.
§ LORD HUGH CECIL
However much notice was given, could hon. Members, have made a more effective protest than, they have done?
§ LORD HUGH CECIL
This is. in fact, a great innovation in the true interests of legitimate debate. What are the peculiar circumstances of the moment? The most peculiar circumstance is that the Government are not bringing forward any legislation whatever. The most factious Opposition desires only, I should have thought, to impede the Government in doing that of which they disapprove. The object of obstruction, as far as it is legitimate at all, is to put off the Government s proposals, to drive them back, and make them more or less impossible of achievement. That question does not arise on this occasion at all. These Estimates must, in accordance with the law. be agreed to by the 31st March. Therefore, obstruct as much as we please, we cannot possibly prevent the Government doing anything they choose after Easter. This arrangement cannot form any precedent for innovations in procedure for facilitating legislation which, in the opinion of any section of the House, is of a dangerous or revolutionary character. In 1893, as far as I can learn from a study of the newspapers, the object of the long discussions on the Supplementary Estimates was to postpone the second reading of the Home Rule Bill. That is a case utterly remote and different from the present case. It would, indeed, be a very serious matter if the Government were to take special facilities, not merely to comply with the law as regards financial business, but to facilitate their own legislative proposals. That would be a very dangerous and serious innovation, but this is nothing of the kind. This is merely an emergency measure which must be adopted unless the law is to be disobeyed. If this alteration were not made, the only alternative would be putting all the Votes from the Chair at a given 283 hour, or to have all-night sittings. Is it I suggested that the present method gives less facilities for discussion? The whole matter is as plain as a pikestaff. If there is only a certain amount of time to be given to the subject, you must take measures to get the subject disposed of in the time, and this measure is the least offensive and oppressive that could be devised. The truth is that the House of Commons is in the position of wanting— I was going to say to eat its cake and have it; but really the position is that of wishing to have a cake which the Irish Members have already devoured. I feel the warmest commiseration for hon. Members on either side of the House whose only desire is for legitimate discussion of the Supplementary Estimates, but the violence of their denunciations should be directed against, not the Government, but the hon. Gentlemen from Ireland who have abused the opportunities of debate. If hon. Gentlemen above the gangway opposite wish to see the business of the House conducted in such a way that all that they desire to say should have a proper opportunity for utterance, their best course is to co-operate with the Government to the utmost in suppressing the exuberant verbosity of hon. Members below the gangway.
§ SIR BRAMPTON GURDON (Norfolk, N.)
As I was engaged for many years in the preparation of these Estimates, I have some experience of the manner in which they are put together and the object for which they are framed. I am perfectly ready to admit that it would not be possible to transfer money from one Vote to another, or even from one sub-head to another, without the approval of the Treasury, but I cannot imagine what advantage the Government think they will gain by this new method which they have introduced. It will be productive of very great inconvenience, especially to the Chair. The Treasury have always tried, by the arrangement of the Estimates into classes, Votes, and subheads, to afford the clearest possible information as to the subjects referred to; they have endeavoured to put those subjects together so as not to be too large or too small, and to present completely one subject in a compact form, so that the House might deal with and dispose of one 284 subject before it passed on to another. All that is done away with by this new plan. Under this arrangement one hon. Member may discuss the Colonial Office; if he does not move an Amendment by which the House is precluded from passing to another subject, the next speaker may deal with the Postal Service, and a third may speak about the Diplomatic and Consular Services, and so on. We should get into a most unbusiness-like discussion, without, as far as I can see, any compensation whatsoever. It is said we should get one closure motion instead of twenty. I do not believe we should get even that advantage, because it will be open to a Member to move a reduction of the Vote by £1, £2, £3, or £10, and the closure may be necessary on each. The Secretary to the Treasury says we had full notice of this change. I must confess that when I received this Paper on Saturday morning I looked through it very carefully, but with all my twenty-two years' experience at the Treasury I did not observe these few words at the beginning. I noticed the new arrangement of Votes. and I thought it a most excellent plan to put these important items in the forefront, but all that advantage is done away with by these few words at the beginning, which practically put all the items on the same line, so that there is no reason why we should discuss OTIC before another. I earnestly hope the Government will withdraw their scheme, and consent to introduce the Estimates in the old-fashioned and constitutional manner.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Warm protests have been made by various Members of the House in regard to the policy pursued by the Government in this matter, and so well defended by my hon. friend the Secretary to the Treasury. But almost every speaker—I think I might say every speaker except one—has carefully refrained from making the slightest allusion to the governing consideration in the matter—namely, the position in which we find ourselves when we are face to face with Supplementary Estimates and the close of the financial year. The hon. Member who has just spoken based his appeal on his great experience at the Treasury, and he told us that in all that experience he had never known this course to be pursued. No, 285 Sir; it never has been pursued with regard to Supplementary Estimates, though it has with regard to Estimates of the other kind. But has my hon. friend, in the course of his experience at the Treasury, ever known the House apparently driving the Government—or driving itself, because I suppose it is particeps criminis —into a deliberate breach of the rules laid down by itself with regard to its financial business? My hon. friend has never known such a case, and therefore his experience gives no weight to his objection to a remedy proposed to meet so novel and serious a proceeding.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The hon. Gentleman by his interruption has brought us back, not for the first, second, or third time, to the excuse habitually urged by those who have nothing else to sac. The meeting on the 14th February was determined before it was possible for anyone to know the amount of the Supplementary Estimates, and, even if the amount had been known, would that date have been an improper one for us to have fixed? In other words, is the House really incapable of getting through the King's Speech and the necessary Estimates in the interval between 14th February and 31st March? I really cannot believe that that is the case. If such a scale of time is to be applied to all Parliamentary action. I can only say the sessions will have to be prolonged—a course, in my opinion, not to the advantage of either the comfort or the efficiency of the House. I have always been anxious to keep the session—I will not say within the limits of six months, but somewhere approaching that period, and I believe a six months session is quite enough considering the pressure at which we do our work; moreover, we had an autumn session, and, under all the circumstances. I do not think the 14th February was too late a date to fix for the opening of Parliament. But let us turn aside for a moment from the action of the Government in opening Parliament on the 14th February. and whether they were right or wrong in so doing. Does the House 286 really mean to affirm that between the 14th February and the 25th March we ought not to be able to get through all our financial business, provided the Government does not bring forward any substantial controversial legislation?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
What does that vague assertion, which is so commonly hurled across the floor, mean? The hon. Member complains of my management of the business of the House. My management of the business of the House has consisted simply in putting down Supply night after night since 14th February.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I see. It is the number of times I have moved the closure, is it? I will ask two questions on that. In the first place, where should we have been with regard to the Estimates if I had not moved the closure;. and, in the second place, where should we be on the 31st March if I had, as I should have had, to move the closure on every Vote before we could get the Supplementary Estimates?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
How on earth we were to get the Supplementary Estimates within the limit of the law without the use of the closure I do not know. So much for this, if I may say so, thread-hare and absurd accusation with regard to meeting so late as 14th February. If we had met previously to that the hon. Gentlemen who now complain would have been the first to grumble because we met so early.
I now leave that, and come to the substance of this question. Are we guilty of an innovation which is, in the first place, dangerous, and, in the second 287 place, unnecessary, in the procedure of the House? Those are the two points to consider. If it is necessary, it really does not matter whether it is dangerous or not; that which is necessary is that which has to be done. But is it dangerous? I have been spoken of to-night, as I have been spoken of in previous debates, as if I was hostile to the full and free discussion of the Estimates. I venture to say that nobody in his heart believes that. No one has more anxiously shown his desire than I have both that there should be an adequate, time given to the discussion of the Estimates, and that the Estimates to be discussed should be as far as possible taken in the order of their importance, and I have passed a great many innovations in our rules having those two great ends in view. If I have—as I think I may claim that I have—shown my desire that the Estimates should be fully discussed, have I in this case been driven, whether under stress of real necessity or not, to a course which is in itself dangerous? It will be observed that hon. Members' imaginations reach forward to some future period when there shall be some unscrupulous Minister in power who will use this weapon for the suppression of the House at, large and for the throttling of discussion. But this weapon has always been, for what it is worth, in the possession of the Government of the day. I cannot believe that any unscrupulous Minister would be in the least degree influenced by the fact that, in the face of what I have shown to be a real necessity, who have, done with the Civil Service Estimates that which we have done with criticism, comment, or inconvenience in the case of the Army Estimates, the Navy Estimates, and Excess Votes. We have been told that one inconvenience of this method is that Members will jump from Vote to Vote, and that we shall have a miscellaneous and inconsequential, discussion. I hope that will not be the case. This Vote is framed exactly on the model of the Vote on Account, and I do not think the discussions on Votes on Account have gone on in an inconsequent way from one subject to another. In fact. I have known a whole evening to be devoted to the very first item. [ Hear, hear.] Hon. Members say "Hear, hear," but you cannot have it both ways.
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND
By arrangement the whole night was spent on the first item, but the rest were closured.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The hon. Member is mistaken. The, only arrangement was as to the order in which the first two items of the Vote on Account should be put down. The House chose to discuss the Education Vote for the whole of the evening. That is the affair of the House, and the House will be able in a similar manner if it choose—as I hope it will not choose—to spend its time on the first one, or two items in the Vote now presented. There is no danger in the course we have adopted, because it, is a course obviously and avowedly adopted in an emergency. The hon. Member for East Somersetshire wished to get a specific pledge or declaration from me. I thought I gave a specific pledge or declaration in reply to a question earlier in the evening. But if the hon. Member desires such a pledge—I should have thought it unnecessary—I will give it in the most unreserved fashion The only reason this course has been adopted is that we found ourselves driven off from day to day by the length of the discussion on the Civil Service and other Estimates until it was perfectly obvious that if we were to fulfil the law it would be only by the goodwill of those who have not shown up to the present any great anxiety that we should be able to fulfil it.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
Will the right hon. Gentleman kindly say what is the pledge he has unreservedly given?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The statement I made was that this is an emergency operation, and an. emergency operation alone. The House in dealing with a practical question ought to show itself a practical assembly. Everybody knows the situation in which we are placed and the methods by which it has been brought about. We need not bandy hard words as to what has taken place. Let us describe it as an intelligent interest in Estimates. That "intelligent interest in Estimates" has, for example, been shown with regard to a Vote of £5,000 caused entirely by the rise in the price of coal. That "intelligent 289 interest in Estimates" has been carried to such a point that that £5.000 was discussed for at least an hour or two in Committee, and, as if that left hon. Gentlemen unsatisfied, they discussed it for another hour and a half on Report.
§ MR. A.J. BALFOUR
The hon. Gentleman is quite right from his own point of view to be proud of the achievement. Yes, but you cannot have "intelligence'' carried to that point without clogging the whole machinery of Parliament. I am attacked because I do not find more opportunities for private Members. It is the" intelligence of private Members that puts me in the difficulty. It is this "intelligent interest," carried to the excess we have recently seen, which makes it impossible for me to leave Tuesdays for the discussion of abstract resolutions, and which makes the proposed arrangement of this Estimate absolutely necessary. What other course could I have taken? I assume we are all agreed that Supply must be concluded this week. That is the basis on which I start. Nobody will, at all events openly, say that they desire us to violate the statute and regulations laid down for our financial business. Very well. We have got before us— I am very unwilling to take Wednesday, because that day happens to be allocated to a Bill which excites a very great deal of interest: therefore, we have Monday Tuesday. Thursday, and Friday, with possibly Saturday, in which to dispose of Supply. In those days we have got to get the Speaker out of the Chair on Navy Estimates; we have got to get Vote A and Vote 1 of the Navy Estimates; we have in addition to get nineteen further Votes of Supply. We have already got ten Votes, but they were of an utterly trivial and unimportant character, and raised no questions of real interest whatever. We have already obtained ten Votes, but. although they were of little interest, they occupied two long days. We have nineteen more Votes before us which are of far greater importance, and, in addition, the Navy Estimates, and for the consideration of these we have only four days, or, 290 with a Saturday sitting, five days. I do not believe that would be enough. If I do not misread the signs of "intelligent interest ', that has been shown in these Votes, there will be an Amendment moved to every one. Someone has suggested that we should manage by closure, but three divisions on each of these nineteen Votes would mean fifty-seven divisions, and I do not think it would be possible to get through those, divisions in less than twenty hours, or two normal Parliamentary days out of the five possible days at our disposal. I am not talking of debate, but only of walking through the lobbies. Am I to be told that, having submitted respectfully that calculation to the House, our existing rules of closure are sufficient to enable us to finish Supply satisfactorily with reasonable discussion even by Saturday evening? I am quite sure that any candid man will see that I have not over-estimated the difficulties I have endeavoured to describe. What other course remains besides the one we have adopted? I might have come down on Tuesday or Thursday and moved a rule similar to the rule made with regard to general Supply, declaring that at a given hour on Friday night or Saturday afternoon the Committee of Supply should be closed and all the various Votes taken in their order, and that a similar operation should apply to the Report of Supply. But I suppose we would have occupied a night in discussing such a proposal -[An HON. MEMBER: I hope so.]—and when we had discussed it I suppose it would have been necessary to bring forward a rule for shortening the divisions. These are two plans. Can anybody suggest a third except the one, I have adopted? There is no third.
§ MR. A.J. BALFOUR
I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman supposes that he has suggested a plan for getting Committee of Supply finished this week. The House will see therefore, that the course we have adopted is one that has been absolutely forced upon us by the necessities of the situation. It is one 291 which I hope will prevent undue strain, but whether it causes undue strain or not it is the one that holds out more hope than any other plan that -we shall be able to finish Committee of Supply within the time contemplated. I hope that I have used no undue strength of language. I have stated the motives which have influenced our action, and I have justified to the best of my ability the course which, by the force of circumstances, we have taken. Do not let anybody suppose that I watch these proceedings, or their result, with satisfaction or with equanimity. I regard them as most serious. It was long ago pointed out—I think it was by Mr. Gladstone, but I am not sure—that one or two ingenious men devoting themselves to the consideration of the Estimates could keep the House occupied during the whole of the six months. You could not work these nineteen Votes by the closure. [An HON. MEMBER signified that they could. In order to meet the interruption just made let me change the form of my proposition. One or two ingenious gentlemen taking an intelligent interest in the Estimates would be in a position to compel the closure upon every Vote that was brought before the House, without the smallest difficulty and without any undue taxing of the rules. I think there were more than two ingenious gentlemen in the House who engaged in the intelligent discussion of the Estimates. The result was, of course, necessarily that, before the new rule came into force, Supply had become a perfect scandal, and no Government could allow it to in to fare in that way with the business of the House. We sat up night after night discussing Votes like the £5,000 Vote I have already mentioned. I hope that I the Supply rule has done something to cure this with regard to the main Estimates of the year. We have left the Supplementary Estimates exactly where they always stood, and hon. Members who have not been in the House before will have a very accurate idea of what used to go on in connection with the ordinary Estimates by seeing what has gone on during the last few days in connection with the Supplementary Estimates. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Forest of Dean has referred to the suggestion to appoint a Committee to consider the sequence of Votes to be taken in 292 ordinary Supply. That is a little outside the motion now before the House, but allow me to say that I think it would be of great advantage that there should be a Committee of this House to settle in the first place what proportion of our general time should be given to the discussion of Supply. That cannot now be left to the discretion of the House itself; it must be laid down by rule. Let a Committee suggest rules for the purpose; let them suggest whether the present twenty-three days given for Supply are enough, whether they ought to be augmented, how the time between them should be distributed, and how the Supplementary-Estimates should be dealt with. I have not the slightest objection to that. If anybody can suggest a plan by which the liberty of discussion shall be freely used and not unduly abused, no one will rejoice so much as I will. The question before us now is, how are we to deal with an emergency? I do venture to think that, whether the House regards the Government as to blame or not for having met on the 14th of February, we are all agreed that there is but one way to get our Votes through by the legal day, and that is the way the Government has adopted. If the House take that view, as I think they must, they must defer to a more convenient season the broad question of the procedure in Supply, and if they desire that it should be considered by a Committee upstairs or elsewhere, I shall give any such desire my hearty support.
§ SIR HENRY FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)
The right hon. Gentleman complains that upon this side of the House we have not shown any appreciation of the difficulty in which he is placed. We do appreciate the position in which the right hon. Gentleman finds himself, and I think that we on this side of the House have shown a desire that that should be met. What we do object to is the course which the right hon. Gentleman proposes to take. We recognise the difficulty, but we are not satisfied with the remedy. The proposal is dangerous,, but is it necessary? Without touching on the question of necessity for a moment, I venture to say that it is a very dangerous proposal—dangerous from the mode in which it has been initiated, and dangerous 293 from the precedent it will set up, and which—I will not say in all probability—will with absolute certainty be followed hereafter whenever a Ministry with a majority finds itself in a difficulty. There is no analogy, as the right hon. Gentleman puts it, between this case and the ease of a Vote on Account. The justification for bringing a Vote on Account—
§ SIR HENRY FOWLER
The justification for abbreviating the discussion of a Vote on Account is that every item will come up for consideration on Report. These, I think, will never come up again. I think the House of Commons ought to have the power of criticism, and we have a right to claim that there should be fair criticism of the large sum of the additional Votes. These Supplementary Estimates are almost without precedent. I think the right hon. Gentleman will have to go back many years before he finds Supplementary Estimates of between £1,000,000 and £2,000,000. I think' it was the boast of the right hon. Gentleman himself—it certainly took place (luring an Administration of which he was a member—that there were no Supplementary Estimates at all. Without claiming any special knowledge in the present case, I think I may venture to assure the right hon. Gentleman that when the meeting of Parliament was fixed he knew there would be Supplementary Votes of large amount, and I do not think he was taken by surprise to such an extent as he seemed to indicate. The right hon. Gentleman puts the case on the ground that the Opposition show no disposition to meet him in dealing with the present difficulty. Well, I venture to say that the Opposition showed in all directions considerable desire to meet him on Friday night.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I am most unwilling to interrupt the right hon. Gentleman, but I never said anything of the Opposition as a whole. I said that no speaker to-night has shown any appreciation of the difficulties of the Government.
§ SIR HENRY FOWLER
I was putting it perhaps clumsily, but I understood 294 him to say that there was no indication of any desire to meet the difficulties of the Government.
§ SIR HENRY FOWLER
I withdraw that remark at once. When the right hon. Gentleman was in difficulty on Friday night he was met, and £21,000,000 was voted almost without discussion. I fully appreciate the difficulty which the right hon. Gentleman has at the present moment. I do not think he has exhausted all the resources of negotiation. I am sure that there was a mode of meeting the difficulty without any violation of the law, which would not have involved this new and dangerous innovation in the previous practice of the House. The right hon. Gentleman says it is necessary. May J have his attention for one moment as to the necessity of the case so far as these Votes are concerned? He says it is absolutely necessary that Supply should be finished on Saturday. May I put to him that Monday could be taken for Supply, and that the Report could be taken on Tuesday? The Appropriation Bill could be brought in on Tuesday, and the Second Reading of the Bill could be taken on Wednesday.
§ SIR HENRY FOWLER
Somebody must suffer. It is not the private Members' day this week that I propose should be taken. I am talking of the following week. I am proposing that the Second Reading should be taken on Wednesday next week, the Committee stage on Thursday, and the Third Reading in this House and the stages through the House of Lords on Friday. Therefore it is not absolutely necessary that Supply should be closed on Saturday this week. I would put it to the right hon. Gentleman before he finally announces his decision in this matter that by the introduction of this new rule I do not believe he will save any time. I should advise the right hon. Gentleman to close the discussion next Monday. Under these circumstances he will have the opportunity of getting the Speaker out 295 of the Chair on the Navy Estimates, and getting the two Votes with the same rapidity as he got his two Votes in Supply upon the Army. He would thus, I think, give a fair opportunity for moderate discussion upon these Estimates. Let me strip it of all the circumstances which have aroused the right hon. Gentleman's apprehension. There are some very important questions in these Supplementary Estimates—questions which will require a considerable amount of discussion. There are questions in the Supplementary Estimates which ought to he discussed more than a few minutes. I think the right hon. Gentleman should come to some understanding with the House that Supply should close on Saturday, and that the two Navy Votes should be obtained on the understanding that the full discussion of the naval programme should be taken after Easter. There would then remain simply these Supplementary Estimates and the Report stage upon those Votes which have already been before the House. I would submit to him that it would be far better to come to some arrangement of that sort than, if I may say so, declare war on the procedure of the House, which some hon. Members consider an invaluable safeguard of the control of the House over Votes in Supply. I am quite satisfied that the right hon. Gentleman is right in saying that there must be an entire reconsideration of the mode in which Supply is voted, and the time devoted to it, and the carrying out of the rule which the right hon. Gentleman himself introduced. I think that can be put on its own merits. The Government is in an impasse at the present moment. Do not let the remedy be dangerous and disastrous.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The right hon. Gentleman has made a proposal to me. I think he will feel that he is placing me in an impossible position when he asks me to take one Wednesday and not another. That would scarcely be fair. Nothing would give me more pleasure than that Committee of Supply should finish on Saturday afternoon, that the Report stage should be taken on Monday, that we should then be able to reserve Wednesday for private Members, and 296 that we should be able to finish Supply in time to comply with the law. I do not know whether the modified proposal of the right him. Gentleman would be accepted in all parts of the House, but if so, I would be delighted to fall in with it. I know that some arrangements when acceded are never broken. Therefore, if a pledge is given, I shall be happy to accept it.
§ SIR HENRY FOWLER
I was not aware that the private Members' Bill set down for Wednesday is a very important one. I understand that it is the Pure Beer Bill. I do not wish to immolate that Bill unnecessarily. If you get your Report on Monday it would not be necessary to sacrifice the Bill.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Wolverhampton has just made a proposal to the Government, and I hope it will not be unbecoming if I say that his action is, to say the least of it, rather curious in this matter. He says first of all that the proposition of the Government is a dangerous proposition, and he objects to it. He then winds up his speech on the dangerous proposition by proposing to enter into an agreement with the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury. I think the proposition made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Wolverhampton is, so far as I can understand, very little better than the proposition of the First Lord of the Treasury, and I think it would be more satisfactory, if I may say so, to a great many gentlemen of the Liberal party who resent innovations of this kind if, instead of coining down at the last moment to ' patch up an agreement to make easy the path of the Government, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Wolverhampton had been in his place early in the evening to oppose this latest attempt on the part of the Government to muzzle the House of Commons. The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury can hardly be surprised, I think, if he does not find the Irish Members enthusiastic to enter into a fresh agreement with them. What took place last Friday.' An agreement was made with the Govern- 297 ment, under which they were allowed to get in one sitting the whole of the Army Estimates, amounting to the sum of £21,000,000. That sum was voted on Friday night in the space of about twenty minutes, and now what return do the Irish Members get for the enormous concession they made thru.' Our reward is, that when the House meets on Monday the right hon. Gentleman gets up and proposes to curtail in a new way the privileges and the rights of private Members in connection with the discussion of the Estimates. I say that as long as the Government reward agreements entered into with their opponents in that way they can hardly be surprised if there is no desire to make further agreements with them. The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury in the last speech he made referred in a somewhat pointed way to the discussion which took place on the Estimates last week, He said that two hours were taken discussing an item of £5,000. and even from the lofty position which the right hon. Gentleman occupies, he, did not hesitate to speak in a disparaging way of what he called the intelligent criticism of hon. Gentlemen from Ireland. The right hon. Gentleman may imagine that Members from Ireland ought to discuss the Estimates in a way that ought to commend itself to his way of thinking and to his satisfaction. If he expects that hon. Members from Ireland are in these matters always to imitate the example of his noble relative the Member for Greenwich, and to get up on every conceivable occasion and say that what the Government has done is perfectly right, he is greatly mistaken. I pass from that by saying that what I know of the methods with respect to the "intelligent discussion" of items in the Estimates I learned, not yesterday, or the day before, but years ago, from the action of a certain party in this House which was called the Fourth party, of which the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury has probably heard.
What is the answer to the appeal made by the First Lord that this must be done, as the Estimates must begot through by the end of the month? The answer is obviously that the Government should have called Parliament together in proper 298 time to give Members full opportunity for discussing the Estimates as they considered necessary. The right hon. Gentleman, if the House allows him to have his way. is simply setting up a precedent whereby probably next year he will call Parliament together not on the 14th of February, but probably the 1st of March or the 14th of March, and then if any attempt is made to criticise or discuss the Estimates he will have the same story as he has now, that discussion must he curtailed because by the end of the month the Estimates according to law must be carried through. He is setting up a precedent which will make it easy for any Government in future to curtail discussion and to stifle all criticism by the simple expedient of not calling Parliament together until it is too late to say anything upon the Estimates. The right hon. Gentleman in reply to the Member for East Somerset said he was prepared to give the pledge that this proposition was simply an emergency proposition. I tried to get some understanding as to the nature of the pledge the right hon. Gentleman gave, but I think it is clear that he gave no pledge whatever. Is he prepared to get up now and say that no such proposition will be made by the Government next year, or at any future time? If this proposition is ratified by the House of Commons, nothing is more certain than that it will form a precedent for the future. The right hon. Gentleman knows perfectly well that it is only necessary for the rule to be established and acted upon in this House to make it absolutely certain that time after time in future it will be quoted as a precedent. The First Lord of the Treasury indignantly repudiated the idea that this innovation was sprung upon the House of Commons without any notice. He said, "Why, I gave notice of this to the Leader of the Opposition." I have the pleasure and the distinguished honour of meeting the Leader of the Opposition sometimes in the lobbies of this House, but I never meet him on Saturdays or Sundays at all, and the fact that the First Lord of the Treasury late on Friday night or early on Saturday morning sent word to the Leader of the Opposition that be was going to do this is not the slightest guarantee that I or my friends ever heard 299 anything at all about it. I say we have a right to expect in future that when an absolutely unprecedented change is about to be made the Government should at least give several full days; notice, not merely to the Leader of the Opposition, but to every Member of the House. Every Member of this House is supposed to be equal, and if that is true I maintain that in this matter full notice should be given to every Member of the House, and that notice given to the Leader of the Opposition is not sufficient. Then we are told that we had a statement on Saturday from, which we could have ascertained what change had been made. There are not twenty Members opposite who realised that this change was being made until this afternoon, and it is monstrous to say that we should realise the change which has been made in the presentation of the Estimates when an hon. Gentleman with twenty years experience of the Treasury s methods was unable to realise that any change had been made at all. If the Government intend to proceed with the interference with private Members in this manner it ought to cease to make new rules here and new rules there, it ought to issue a new rule that nobody has a right to say a word upon financial matters. That is the recommendation I make if the Government wishes to do this properly, and the Estimates would then go through the House in good time, like clockwork. Let them take my advice and without further delay bring at once into the Government and place upon the Treasury Bench the Member for Greenwich, when everything would go on smoothly.
§ MR. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)
There is no doubt that we all appreciate the fact that the Government is in considerable difficulty, but what we cannot understand is why this difficulty should have become chronic this session. Everything seems to have been done that should be done, and yet we get into greater trouble. Something else seems to be wrong besides the House of Commons. Nowthat the hon. Member for King's Lynn has gone—has left the House—I may say one of the last things he said to me was that he hesitated whether he should go because he was afraid that if he did the Government 300 would get into trouble. I am afraid that rather suggests that if he knew what is happening to-day it would disturb him to think that this revolutionary measure was sprung upon us in the way it has been. I study the Parliamentary Papers very carefully, but I had no idea that such a change was coining about. These Supplementary Estimates are of great importance, and surely the Government, which has so large a majority, might let the House have all reasonable time for discussion upon them. The noble Lord the Member for Greenwich,. with great vigour, seemed to suggest that when he rules us we shall be managed with extreme rigour; but surely if we are to pass these Estimates-at all we ought to consider each subject carefully. Nobody could possibly say that these Estimates are normal; nobody could suggest that a Supplementary Estimate of £1,000,000 was a matter that should pass without criticism. Now, Sir. in order to expedite matters we have another revolutionary change proposed to the House; and what is the result? That we have had another debate. It is now past seven o'clock, and we have done nothing. This is not the way in which the House of Commons should be ruled. We saw on Friday the result of such management, and it seems to me that this system of riding roughshod over us is a method to turn this House into a mere machine to record the decisions of the Government. It seems to me that we ought not to be asked to have a Vote of a million upon all sorts of subjects in bulk, because we know that when one subject has been discussed for a short time the whole may be closured. We had better face the matter at once and say this cannot be done in this way, and if it is to be done at all it cannot he done without the fullest consideration being given to it.
§ MR. VICARY GIBBS (Hertfordshire. St. Albans)
said that the hon. Member who had just sat down had clearly shown that the House was face to face with a difficulty. He disliked quite as much as the hon. Member for North Islington anything like an attack being made upon the freedom of private Members; yet if the rule was not carried the Votes could not be got in time to, conform with, the law. 301 The hon. Member had said that the House must not be ridden over roughshod by anybody, but anyone who had listened to the discussion knew perfectly well there was no desire on the part of anybody to ride roughshod over them. Everybody was aware that had it been only an English Opposition a reasonable arrangement would have been made long since. This matter had been forced on by the hon. Member for East Clare. It was absolutely impossible for the Government to get through the business unless some measure of tin's kind was introduced. The suggestion that Parliament should have met earlier in the session was idle because the same tactics would have answered equally well if the session had commenced on the 7th February. The pledge given by the First Lord of the Treasury only amounted to the fact that he would not be guilty of such an innovation again until he was compelled. He desired that more definite assurance should be given that such a thing should not recur until its non-recurrence would constitute a breach of the law. He believed in no other way could the business be carried through, and therefore he should vote for the Government.
§ MR. FLYNN (Cork, N.)
said the whole difficulty had arisen owing to the monstrous mismanagement of public business on the part of the Government. When making the suggestion that had the House met on an earlier date the same action would have been adopted as had been adopted during the past fortnight, the hon. Member who had just sat down had quite overlooked the fact that the reason for the right hon. Gentleman's appeal was that, owing to the shortness of the time when Parliament met to get through the financial business of the country, he was compelled to adopt this proceeding. He thought, if the pressure was so great, that the House should meet at eleven or twelve o'clock instead of three. He regarded the innovation as dangerous in itself, but the manner in which it was introduced he considered more dangerous still. The House could not accept a private intimation conveyed to the Leader of the Opposition as being notice to the House generally. He challenged the Government to say there were six Members of the House 302 who were aware that the Vote was to be taken in this way. He read his Parliamentary Papers with as much care as anybody, and he had had no idea that such sharp practice was going to be practised on an unwary House of Commons. He challenged the Government to say that there were six Members of the House who knew that the Government were going to bulk nineteen Votes altogether and take them in one Vote, and practically closure all discussion. The more honest course would have been to have followed the advice outlined with almost brutal frankness by the noble Lord the Member for Greenwich. The Government were responsible for the position in which they found themselves, and it did not lie in their mouths to complain of the time which the House had taken to discuss the Estimates. If the Treasury brought down these Votes in a proper manner and paid a fair amount of attention to the criticisms made upon them the Government would get the Votes in a much shorter time. Discussion of an ample and satisfactory character could not be considered obstructive. The Government had got themselves into this mess, and had attempted to get out of it by a stealthy stratagem which was not worthy of either the House or the Ministry. The shabby manner in which it was sought to sneak this new rule through the House without observation and without discussion was unworthy of even the present Government.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE (Carnarvon Boroughs)
The, Leader of the House is endeavouring to set up a very dangerous precedent which I do not think should be set up. He proposes to withdraw a number of Votes from discussion. That is what it amounts to. Here we have got nineteen Votes yet undiscussed, and what does the right hon. Gentleman propose? He says, "I propose that we should discuss the few Votes which may be considered important, and that the remaining Votes should not be discussed or divided on.'' Let the House understand clearly what this means. It is a new rule, not incorporated in the Standing Orders and canvassed by discussion before it passes, but brought in by the First Lord of the Treasury without affording any opportunity except such 303 discussion as we are able to get without moving the adjournment of the House. The operation of the new' rule is this. The right hon. Gentleman says. "If you discuss all these Votes I shall not get the Estimates," so he proposes that only a certain number of Votes shall be discussed and that the remainder shall then be voted upon. That is not merely an innovation, but it is what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Wolverhampton calls a singularly dangerous one. The hon. Member opposite has made a singularly ungenerous attack upon the hon. Members for Ireland, for he has stated that if it had been left to the English Opposition all this matter would have been arranged. He apparently forgets that on Friday they were quite as amenable to an arrangement to facilitate the business as the Opposition, and to level that taunt at them now is exceedingly unfair and uncalled for. What is the defence of this new rule? Although the First Lord of the Treasury says it is called for by an emergency, he cannot prevent its becoming a precedent. I would call the attention of the House to the terms in which the right hon. Gentleman has given a pledge to the House. In answer to the hon. Member for East Somerset he said that he was prepared to give in the most unreserved manner a pledge that he would not use this power only under exceptional circumstances. But what good is a pledge like that? This is his opinion upon the present situation. A pledge is generally given with regard to something which ought to be done. Is the right hon. Gentleman prepared to say," "I pledge myself that this precedent shall not be followed." Why are the circumstances exceptional now? Simply because of circumstances for which the House of Commons has no responsibility, and for which no one has any responsibility but the Government itself. What are the exceptional circumstances? They are two. according to the Leader of the House. The first is that there is a large number of Votes which have not yet been discussed. But whose fault is it that there are so many Supplementary Estimates? Certainly it is not the fault of the House of Commons. The second circumstance is that the Government call Parliament together late, and 304 who is responsible for that? The House of Commons was not consulted upon this matter, nor the Opposition. The convenience of the Opposition was not even consulted, for the Government simply consulted their own convenience in the matter. They knew perfectly well that all these Supplementary Votes had to be passed, and in spite of all this they call Parliament together late and insist now upon passing these Votes under all this pressure. And so it happens that for the lâches of the Government the rules of the House are to suffer. Opportunities of discussing Estimates and administration are to be limited not for this present session only, but practically for ail time. What are these Supplementary Estimates? The right hon. Gentleman talks as if they were of no importance at all. If hon. Members will look at these Estimates they will find that they afford the first opportunity which has been given to the House of Commons for discussing three wars, quite apart from the South African War and affairs in China— namely, the war in Somaliland, the war in Uganda, and the military operations in Ashanti. Here are three wars discussed under Supplementary Estimates, and the right hon. Gentleman proposes that we should discuss-all these matters in the course of a day or two. We have also got to discuss the Hospitals Commission, and this is the only opportunity we shall get to discuss the whole of the arrangements with regard to the hospitals, which affect the comfort and lives of thousands of our soldiers, because the war is not yet over, and there are tens of thousands of our troops still fighting under unhealthy conditions. It is only the House of Commons which can bring pressure to bear to make the War Office do what is right, and now we are not allowed to discuss it. Then, this Vote will afford practically the only opportunity we shall get to discuss the Transvaal Concessions Commission. We have to discuss the Report of that Commission, which I think has had an important influence in protracting the war, and we have also to consider the methods adopted by the Treasury for raising funds for the Transvaal and Chinese wars, the Queen's funeral, and other matters, and the right hon. Gentleman 305 proposes that we shall do all this in one or two sittings. This is a perfectly unprecedented state of things. The Government is responsible for all these Estimates. The noble Lord the Member for Greenwich said that this rule might have been justifiable as applied to the Home Rule, Bill of 1893, and the proposition he laid down is that it depends on the character of the legislation which is to follow, He says this rule is to be a precedent in certain cases only. It is to be a precedent when the Tory Government is in power, but no precedent when the Liberal Government is in office. We know what that means. We have all kinds of precedents set up by the Leader of the House, which I venture to say will be resisted more vigorously than the present Opposition resists them if a Liberal Government attempts to put them into operation. It depends entirely upon the view which hon. Members opposite take with regard to the particular proposals which are to be considered at the time. We really ought to consider these things on their merits. It is not a question of what you are examining or what particular expenditure you are passing, but it is a question of the rules of the House and the facilities offered for criticism. When these new rules are passed one after the other the House of Commons is depriving the Opposition of what is, after all, a legitimate weapon of criticism. Time is one of the weapons of the Opposition, and it is a perfectly fair one. I have seen discussions repeatedly where a good case did not attract any attention from the Minister concerned until he saw the discussion was consuming too much of the time of the Government. Then very often a second Minister would get up and examine the question, and say that there was something in the matter after all, and he would promise either inquiry or redress. Time is one of the oldest weapons of an Opposition, and one of the most effective weapons. So far as the Liberal Opposition is concerned, it is a particularly serious matter for a Liberal Opposition to support any rules of this kind, which do not give facilities for adequate discussion, and which deprive the Opposition of facilities which they have possessed from time immemorial. 306 This is not a matter for arrangement across the floor of the House. It is a very vital question of constitutional liberty. We have had too many of these arrangements across the floor of the House. We had an arrangement of this kind on Friday, and what was the result? The Leader of the House, knowing, practically, at that time that he was going to make this arrangement, never informed the Opposition that he meant to do this. I do not charge the First Lord of the Treasury with bad faith in this matter, but I do say that there was a lack of straightforwardness about it. The right hon. Gentleman knew that if the Opposition and the hon. Members from Ireland and below the gangway-had known when they made that arrangement last week that the First Lord of the Treasury intended to introduce this new rule, which is a complete subversion of every method of discussion we have had on Supplementary Estimates, the arrangement come to with regard to the Army would never have been agreed to. This is our reward. The right hon. Gentleman talks now about the ten unimportant Votes which took ten nights, and he refers to the debate on the price of coal. I should like to remind Members who were present during that debate— and I do not believe the First Lord of the Treasury was present, although he came in just in time to put the closure—that the prolongation of that debate was due to the failure of the Minister in charge to explain a discrepancy between the excessive amount called for in one Vote as compared with the amount in another Vote. Repeatedly explanations were asked for, and yet none was afforded. Why should the First Lord of the Treasury complain of these discussions? I remember that when the First Lord of the Treasury was the Leader of the Opposition upon one occasion almost a whole Parliamentary sitting was taken up in discussing an item of £100 spent upon pencils. One, if not two of the gentlemen who occupied the time of the House upon that occasion are now sitting on the Treasury7 Bench opposite. The President of the Board of Agriculture was one of them. But at that time did the Member for Midlothian come down and say that there had been a scandalous waste of time in the House? He did not come 307 down to this House and on his own initiative, without giving any notice, change the whole rules of the House. No; the right hon. Gentleman the late Member for Midlothian had too great a regard for the dignity and usefulness of the House. We are gradually being deprived of opportunities not of debate, but of legitimate criticism of the administration of the country. The result of this new rule will be that possibly two or three matters will be discussed, but I venture to say that many matters of considerable importance will receive no discussion at all. Twice, if not three times, in the course of a few weeks since the opening of the present session the right hon. Gentleman has already introduced innovations into the rules of this House which have considerably curtailed
§ its liberty and freedom of discussion, and I think it is a great misfortune that the Liberal Opposition, who certainly ought to have the freedom and liberty of speech primarily under their charge instead of making an arrangement across the floor of this House, are not throwing the whole of their weight into the very serious development of the right hon. Gentleman's tactics.
§ Question put. "That the Question be now put."
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 208; Noes. 121. (Division List No. 68.)309
|Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir Alex. E.||Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Heath, Arthur H. (Hanley)|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Cripps, Charles Alfred||Heaton, John Henniker|
|Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel||Cross, Herb. Shepherd (Bolton)||Helder, Augustus|
|Allhusen, Augustus Henry E.||Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Hoare, Edward B.(Hampstead|
|Allsopp, Hon. George||Cust, Henry John C.||Hogg, Lindsay|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Dalkeith, Earl of||Hope, J. F. (Sheffield, Brightsde|
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Houldsworth, Sir Wm. Henry|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Davies, Sir Horatio D (Chatham||Howard, Capt J (Kent, Faversh.|
|Arrol, Sir William||Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph||Howard, J.(Midx., Tottenh'm)|
|Ashmead-Bartlett, Sir Ellis||Dixon-Hartland, Sir F. Dixon||Jessel, Captain H. Merton|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Johnston, William (Belfast)|
|Austin, Sir John||Duke, Henry Edward||Kenyon-Slaney, Col. W. (Salop.|
|Bagot, Capt. Josceline FitzRoy||Dyke, Rt. Hon Sir William Hart||Keswick, William|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Faber, George Denison||Kimber, Henry|
|Bain, Col. James Robert||Fardell, Sir T. Gorge||King, Sir Henry Seymour|
|Balcarres, Lord||Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edw.||Lambton, Hon. Frederick W.|
|Baldwin, Alfred||Fergusson, Rt Hn Sir T. (Manc'r)||Laurie, Lieut.-General|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manch'r||Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||Lawrence, William F.|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Lawson, John Grant|
|Beach, Rt. Hn Sir M. H. (Bristol)||Firbank, Joseph Thomas||Lecky, Rt. Hon. Wm. E. H.|
|Bhownaggree, Sir M. M.||Fisher, William Hayes||Lee, Capt. A. H. (Hants., Fare'm|
|Bignold, Arthur||FitzGerald, Sir Robt. Penrose-||Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage|
|Bigwood, James||Flannery, Sir Fortescue||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie|
|Bill, Charles||Fletcher, Sir Henry||Leveson-Gower, Fred. N. S.|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Foster, Sir M. (London Univ.||Long, Rt. Hn. W. (Bristol, S.)|
|Bowles, Capt. H. F. (Middlesex)||Garfit, William||Lowe, Francis William|
|Brookfield, Colonel Montagu||Gibbs, Hn. A.G.H (CityofLond.||Lowther, C. (Cumb., Eskdale)|
|Brown, Alex. H. (Shropshire)||Gibbs, Hon. Vicary (St. Albans)||Loyd, Archie Kirkman|
|Butcher, John George||Gordon, Hn. J. E. (Elgin & Nairn||Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Gordon, Maj. Evans-(TrH'mlts||Lucas, Reginald J. (Portsmouth|
|Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lancs.)||Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon||Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred|
|Cavendish, V. C. W (Derbyshire||Gosehen, Hon. G. Joachim||Macartney, RtHn. W.G. Ellis'n|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Macdona, John Camming|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J (Birm.||Greene, Sir EW (B'rySEdm'nds||M'Iver, Sir Lewis (Edinbu'ghW|
|Chamberlain, J. Austen (Worc.||Greene, Henry D. (Shrewsbury)||Majendie, James A. H.|
|Chapman, Edward||Greene, W. Raymond-(Cambs.)||Malcolm, Ian|
|Churchill, Winston Spencer||Gretton, John||Manners, Lord Cecil|
|Clare, Octavius Leigh||Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton||Maxwell, W.J.H. (Dumfriessh.|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Hain, Edward||Melville, Beresford Valentine|
|Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Halsey, Thomas Frederick||Mildmay, Francis Bingham|
|Colomb, Sir John Chas. Ready||Hamilton, Rt. Hn Lord G (Mid'x||Milward, Colonel Victor|
|Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole||Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robert W.||Molesworth, Sir Lewis|
|Compton, Lord Alwyne||Harris, F. Leverton (Tynem'th)||Montagu, G. (Huntingdon)|
|Cook, Frederick Lucas||Haslett, Sir James Horner||Moon, Edward Robert Pacy|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow||Hay, Hon. Claude George||More, Robt. Jasper (Shropshire|
|Morgan, David J (Walth'mstow||Rentoul, James Alexander||Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley|
|Morrell, George Herbert||Ridley, Hon. M. W. (Stalybridg||Sturt, Hon. Humphry Napier|
|Morris, Hon. Martin Henry F.||Ridley, S Forde (Bethnal Green||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Morton, A. H. A. (Deptford)||Ritchie, Rt Hon Chas. Thomson||Thorburn, Sir Walter|
|Mount, William Arthur||Rolleston, Sir John F. L.||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Muntz, Philip A.||Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye||Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. Murray|
|Murray, Rt. Hon A. G. (Bute)||Ropner, Colonel Robert||Valentia, Viscount|
|Murray, Chas. J. (Coventry)||Round, James||Walker, Col. William Hall|
|Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)||Royds, Clement Molyneux||Wanklyn, James Leslie|
|Myers, William Henry||Russell, T.W.||Warr, Augustus Frederick|
|Nicol, Donald Ninian||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford-||Mason, John C. (Orkney)|
|O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens||Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse||Welby, Lt-Col. A. C. E (Taunt'n|
|Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay||Seely, Chas. Hilton (Lincoln||Welby, Sir C. G. E. (Notts)|
|Palmer, Walter (Salisbury)||Seton Karr, Henry||Wharton, Rt. Hon. John L.|
|Peel, Hn. Wm. Robt. Wellesley||Sharpe, William Edward T.||Whiteley, H. (Ashton-under-L)|
|Penn, John||Shaw-Stewart, M. H. (Renfrew)||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E.R.)|
|Pierpoint, Robert||Simeon, Sir Barrington||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Platt-Higgins, Frederick||Skewes-Cox, Thomas||Wilson, John (Glasgow)|
|Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, E.)||Wilson-Todd, Wm. H. (Yorks.)|
|Pretyman, Ernest George||Smith, James P. (Lanarks.)||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Purvis, Robert||Spear, John Ward|
|Pym C. Guy||Stanley, Lord (Lanes.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.|
|Rasch, Major Frederic Carne||Stock, James Henry|
|Reid, James (Greenock)||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Remnant, James Farquharson||Stroyan, John|
|Abraham, William (Cork, N.E.||Grant, Corrie||O'Malley, William|
|Allan, William (Gateshead)||Haldane, Richard Burdon||O'Mara, James|
|Allen, Charles P (Glouc., Stroud||Hammond, John||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Ambrose, Robert||Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil||O'Shee, James John|
|Asquith, Rt. Hn Herbert Henry||Harmsworth, R. Leicester||Price Robert John|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Hayden, John Patrick||Priestley, Arthur|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Hayne, Rt. Hn. Charles Seale-||Reckitt, Harold James|
|Bell, Richard||Hemphill, Rt. Hn. Charles H.||Reddy, M.|
|Blake, Edward||Holland, William Henry||Redmond, John E.(Waterford)|
|Brand, Hon. Arthur G.||Humphreys-Owen, Arthur C.||Redmond, William (Clare)|
|Brigg, John||Jacoby, James Alfred||Reid, Sir R. Threshie (Dumfries|
|Brown, George M.(Edinburgh)||Joicey, Sir James||Rickett, J. Compton|
|Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson||Jones, William (Carnarvonsh.)||Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Jordan, Jeremiah||Robson, William Snowdon|
|Burns, John||Kearley, Hudson E.||Roche, John|
|Burt, Thomas||Kennedy, Patrick James||Schwann, Charles E.|
|Buxton, Sydney Charles||Kinloch, Sir John Geo. Smyth||Scott, Chas. Prestwich (Leigh)|
|Caine, William Sproston||Lambert, George||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Caldwell, James||Layland-Barratt, Francis||Sinclair, Capt. J. (Forfarshire|
|Campbell, John (Armagh, S.)||Leamy, Edmund||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Carew, James Laurence||Leng, Sir John||Stevenson, Francis S.|
|Causton, Richard Knight||Lloyd-George, David||Strachey, Edward|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Lough, Thomas||Sullivan, Donal|
|Colville, John||Lowther, Rt. Hon. Jas.(Kent)||Taylor, Theodore Cooke|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Lundon, W.||Thompson, E. C. (Monaghan, N.|
|Crean, Eugene||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Cremer, William Randal||M'Arthur, William (Cornwall)||Tully, Jasper|
|Crombie, John William||M'Cann, James||Wallace, Robert|
|Dalziel, James Henry||M'Dermott, Patrick||Walton, John L. (Leeds, S.)|
|Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen)||M'Killop, W. (Sligo, North)||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Doogan, P. C.||Markham, Arthur Basil||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Duncan, James H.||Mooney, John J.||Weir, James Galloway|
|Elibank, Master of||Morton, Edw. J. C. (Devonport)||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Fenwiek, Charles||Moss, Samuel||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|Ffrench, Peter||Nolan, Col. J. P. (Galway, N.)||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Field, William||Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)||Young, Samuel (Cavan, East|
|Flynn, James Christopher||O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)||O'Brien, Kendal (Tipp'raryM'd|
|Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||O'Connor, Jas. (Wicklow, W.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Captain Donelan and Mr. Patrick O'Brien.|
|Fuller, J. M. F.||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Gladstone, Rt. Hon. Herbt. J.||O'Dowd, John|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon N.|
§ Question put accordingly, "That this House do now adjourn."310
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 119; Noes, 205. (Division List No. 69.)313
|Abraham, William (Cork, N.E.||Goddard, Daniel Ford||O'Malley, William|
|Allan, William (Gateshead)||Grant, Corrie||O'Mara, James|
|Allen, Charles P (Glouc.,Stroud||Gurdon, Sir William Brampton||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Ambrose, Robert||Haldane, Richard Burdon||O'Shee, James John|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert H.||Hammond, John||Price, Robert John|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil||Priestley, Arthur|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Harmsworth, R. Leicester||Reckitt, Harold James|
|Bell, Richard||Hayden, John Patrick||Reddy, M.|
|Blake, Edward||Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale-||Redmond, John E.(Waterford)|
|Brand, Hon. Arthur G.||Hemphill,Bt. Hon. Charles H.||Reid, Sir R. Threshie (Dumfries)|
|Brigg, John||Holland, William Henry||Rickett, J. Compton|
|Brown, G. M. (Edinburgh)||Jacoby, James Alfred||Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)|
|Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson||Joicey, Sir James||Robson, William Snowdon|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Jones, William (Carnarvonsh.||Roche, John|
|Burns, John||Jordan, Jeremiah||Schwann, Charles E.|
|Burt, Thomas||Kennedy, Patrick James||Scott, Chas. Prestwich (Leigh)|
|Buxton, Sydney Charles||Kinloch, Sir John Geo. Smyth||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Caine, William Sproston||Lambert, George||Sinclair, Capt. J. (Forfarshire)|
|Caldwell, James||Layland-Barratt, Francis||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Campbell, John (Armagh, S.)||Leamy, Edmund||Stevenson, Francis S.|
|Carew, James Laurence||Leng, Sir John||Strachey, Edward|
|Causton, Richard Knight||Lloyd-George, David||Sullivan, Donal|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Lowther, Rt. Hn. James (Kent)||Taylor, Theodore Cooke|
|Colville, John||Lundon, W.||Thompson, E.C. (Monaghan, N.|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Crean, Eugene||M'Arthur, William (Cornwall||Tully, Jasper|
|Cremer, William Randal||M'Cann, James||Wallace, Robert|
|Crombie, John William||M'Dermott, Patrick||Walton, John L. (Leeds, S.)|
|Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen)||M'Killop, W. (Sligo, North)||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Markham, Arthur Basil||Warner, Thos. Courtenay T.|
|Doogan, P. C.||Morton, Edw. J. C. (Devonport||Weir, James Galloway|
|Duncan, James H.||Moss, Samuel||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Elibank, Master of||Nolan, Col. J. P. (Galway, N.)||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|Fenwick, Charles||Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Ffrench, Peter||O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)||Wilson, F. W. (Norfolk, Mid.)|
|Field, William||O'Brien, K. (Tipperary, Mid)||Young, Samuel (Cavan, East)|
|Flynn, James Christopher||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.||O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.|
|Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr. Lough and Mr. Wm. Redmond.|
|Fuller, J. M. F.||O'Dowd, John|
|Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert J.||O'Kelly, J. (Roscommon, N.|
|Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir Alex. F.||Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lancs.)||Faber, George Denison|
|Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel||Cavendish, V.C.W (Derbyshire||Fardell, Sir T. George|
|Allhusen, Augustus Hy. Fden||Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edw.|
|Allsopp, Hon. George||Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Fergusson, Rt. Hn Sir. J (Manc'r)|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. (Birm.)||Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst|
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Chamberlain, J. A. (Worc'r)||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Chapman, Edward||Firbank, Joseph Thomas|
|Arrol, Sir William||Churchill, Winston Spencer||Fisher, William Hayes|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Clare, Octavius Leigh||FitzGerald, Sir Robert Penrose-|
|Austin, Sir John||Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H.A.E.||Flannery, Sir Fortescue|
|Bagot Capt. Josceline FitzRoy||Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Fletcher, Sir Henry|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Colomb, Sir John Charles Ready||Foster Sir M. (Lond. Univ.)|
|Bain, Colonel James Robert||Colston, Chas. E. H. Athole||Garfit, William|
|Balcarres, Lord||Compton, Lord Alwyne||Gibbs, Hn. A.G.H. (City of Lond|
|Baldwin, Alfred||Cook, Frederick Lucas||Gibbs, Hn. Vicary (St. Albans|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (Manch'r||Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Gordon, Hn. J E. (Elgin&Nairn)|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Gordon, Maj Evans-(Tr Hamlts|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir M. H (Bristol)||Cripps, Charles Alfred||Gorst, Rt. Hn. Sir John Eldon|
|Bhownaggree, Sir M. M.||Cross, Herb. Shepherd (Bolton)||Goschen, Hon. George Joachim|
|Bignold, Arthur||Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Goulding, Edward Alfred|
|Bigwood, James||Cust, Henry John C.||Gray, Ernest (West Ham)|
|Bill, Charles||Dalkieth, Earl of||Greene, Sir E. W. (Bury St. Ed.|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Greene, H. D. (Shrewsbury)|
|Bowles, Capt. H. F. (Middlesex||Davies, Sir H. D. (Chatham)||Greene, W. Raymond-(Cambs)|
|Brookfield, Col. Montagu||Dixon-Hartland, Sir Fred D.||Gretton, John|
|Brown, Alexander H. (Shropsh.||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Hain, Edward|
|Butcher, John George||Duke, Henry Edward||Halsey, Thomas Frederick|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Dyke, Rt. Hon, Sir Wm. H.||Hamilton, Rt Hn Lord G (Mid'x.|
|Hanbury, Rt. Hn. Rbt. Wm.||Manners, Lord Cecil||Round, James|
|Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashf'rd||Maxwell, W. J.H. (Dumfriessh.||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Harris, F. Leverton (Tynem'th.||Melville, Beresford Valentine||Russel, T. W.|
|Haslett, Sir James Horner||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Sackville, Col. S.G. Stopford-|
|Hay, Hon. Claude George||Mil ward, Colonel Victor||Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse)|
|Heath, Arthur H. (Hanley)||Molesworth, Sir Lewis||Seton Karr, Henry|
|Heaton, John Henniker||Montagu, G (Huntingdon)||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Helder, Augustus||Moon, Edward Robert Pacy||Shaw-Stewart, M. H. (Renfrew)|
|Hoare, E. Brodie (Hampstead)||More, Robt. Jasper(Shropshire)||Simeon, Sir Barrington|
|Hogg, Lindsay||Morgan, D. J. (Walthamstow)||Skewes-Cox, Thomas|
|Hope, J. F.(Sheffi'ld,Brightside||Morrell, George Herbert||Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, East)|
|Houldsworth, Sir Wm.Henry||Morris, Hon. Martin Henry F.||Smith,. James Parker(Lanarks.)|
|Howard, Capt. J.(Faversham)||Morton, ArthurH. A. (Deptford||Spear, John Ward|
|Howard,J.(Midd., Tottenham||Mount, William Arthur||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)|
|Jessel, CaptainHerbertMerton||Muntz, Philip A.||Stock, James Henry|
|Johnston, William (Belfast)||Murray, Rt Hn A Graham(Bute||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Kenyon-Slaney, Col.W.(Salop||Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)||Stroyan, John|
|Keswick, William||Murray, Col.Wyndham (Bath)||Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley|
|Kimher, Henry||Myers, William Henry||Sturt, Hon. Humphry Napier|
|King, Sir Henry Seymour||Nicol, Donald Ninian||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Lambton, Hon. Fredk. Wm.||O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens||Thorburn, Sir Walter|
|Laurie, Lieut.-General||Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Lawrence, William F.||Palmer, Walter (Salisbury)||Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. Murray|
|Lawson, John Grant||Peel, Hn. Wm. Rbt. Wellesley||Valentia, Viscount|
|Lecky, Rt. Hn. William Edwill.||Penn, John||Walker, Col. William Hall|
|Lee, Capt. A. H. (Hants, Fare'm||Pierpoint, Robert||Wanklyn, James Leslie|
|Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage||Platt-Higgins, Frederick||Warr, Augustus Frederick|
|Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Wason, J. Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Leveson-Gower, Frederick M.S.||Pretyman, Ernest George||Welby, Lt-Col. A.C. E. (Tauntn|
|Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Bristol, S)||Purvis, Robert||Welby, Sir C. G. E. (Notts.)|
|Lowe, Francis William||Pym, C. Guy||Wharton, Rt. Hon. John Lloyd|
|Lowther, C. (Cumb., Eskdale)||Rasch, Major Frederic Carne||Whiteley, H. (Ashton-u.-Lyne)|
|Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Reid, James (Greenock)||Wilson, A. S. (York. E. R.)|
|Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft)||Remnant, James Farquharson||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Lucas, Reginald J. (Portsmouth||Rentoul, James Alexander||Wilson, John (Glasgow)|
|Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred||Ridley, Hn. M. W. (Stalybridge||Wilson-Todd, Wm. H.(Yorks)|
|Macartney, Rt Hn W. G. Ellison||Ridley, S Forde (Bethnal Green||Wolff, Gustily Wilhelm|
|Macdona, John Cummining||Ritchie, Rt Hon. Chas. Thomson|
|M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Rolleston, Sir John F. L.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.|
|M'Iver, Sir Lewis (Edinburrgh W||Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye|
|Majendie, James A. H.||Ropner, Colonel Robert|
|Malcolm, Ian||Rothschild, Hn. Lionel Walter|