§ Order read, for resuming adjourned debate on proposed New Standing Order (Priority of Business) as amended [8th April]:—
§ Main Question, as amended, again proposed:—"That unless the House otherwise direct—
- (a) Government Business shall have precedence at every Sitting except the Evening Sittings on Tuesday and Wednesday, and the Sitting on Friday.
- (b) On the Evening Sittings of Tuesday and Wednesday Notices of Motion and Public Bills, other than Government Bills, shall have precedence of Government Business.
- (c) After Easter Government Business shall have precedence at the Evening Sittings of Tuesday.
- (d) After Whitsuntide Government Business shall have precedence at all Evening Sittings, and at all Friday Sittings except the Sittings on the third and fourth Fridays after Whit Sunday."—(Mr. A. J. Balfour.)
§ (4.10.) MR. CHANNING (Northamptonshire, E.) moved to leave out the word "Whitsuntide" and to insert "the 30th day of June." He suggested that this Amendment was much more important than the mere words would seem to indicate. He would like to draw attention to the fact that the other evening the Government accepted an Amendment proposed on his behalf giving precedence to Bills other than Government Bills. Anyone who had studied the duration of time between Whitsuntide and the end of June would know that during that period there would be two, three, and under certain circumstances four Wednesday evenings available for the purposes which he had in view in proposing this Amendment. If it were accepted it would still be in the power of the Government to ask the House to devote these particular evenings to public business should necessity arise. But he did submit that, in the absence of any such necessity, it was most desirable that further opportunities should be afforded to private Members to proceed with Bills which had already gained general acceptance at the hands of the House. They would all remember that, during the last few years, great scandals had arisen in regard to private Members' Bills which had been passed by large majorities, but which, owing to the short period allowed under Standing Orders for their consideration in Committee, had had to be dropped, because it had proved absolutely impossible to get them through. They had an instance of the difficulty only last session, when the Government felt it its duty to give special facilities for the passing of the Sale of Liquors to Children Bill, which had met with such general favour that it would have been a scandal had it not been placed on the Statute-book. He was not wedded to the particular words of this Amendment. If the Government so desired, they could alter them. All he wished was to secure the possibility of dealing with these Bills at Wednesday evening sittings up till the end of June. He did not think there was any necessity to discuss this proposal at any great length.
In line 9, to leave out the word 'Whitsuntide," and insert the words 'the thirtieth day of June.'"—(Mr. Channing.)
§ (4.20.) THE FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR, Manchester, E.)
I understand that the object of the hon. Gentleman's Amendment is to secure that certain evening sittings after Whitsuntide shall be set apart for the further discussion of Bills which, prior to Whitsuntide, have secured a Second Reading.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I am not at all sure that the Amendment, even if it were carried, would effect that object. I rather think it would not. The Government are not of opinion that it is desirable to set apart by Standing Orders a larger amount of time after Whitsuntide for dealing with private Members' Bills. I have never been one of those who think that our system of dealing with legislation proposed by non-official Members is entirely satisfactory; indeed, I think it is not. This, however, is not a matter which can be dealt with piecemeal. I do not suggest that the present practice of giving Wednesdays after Whitsuntide is one which should be perpetuated, but, undoubtedly, there are measures, as to which there is such a general consensus of opinion in all parts of the House in favour of passing them as to render it undesirable that they should be allowed to lapse from mere want of time, and such cases are provided for by the Government, which has power to give facilities to Bills of this nature. Such facilities are rarely given to Bills of a controversial character, and I do not think that anybody responsible for the business of this House would be likely to undertake to give facilities for Bills which are not generally supported and which are likely to meet with violent opposition. I see no reason why controversial Bills should have privileges which are not extended to measures brought in by responsible Members, and probably prepared by more expert draughtsmen. That is one of the reasons why I do not think we can deal with this subject in a fragmentary manner. Again, I would point out that the Amendment, if carried, would not effect the object which the hon. Member has in view, but would 1463 probably give further facilities to controversial measures, and I do suggest in conclusion that this is not a good method of making any alteration in our present system of dealing with legislation initiated by private Members of this House.
§ (4.25.) MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)
said he was sorry to hear the answer given by the right hon. Gentleman, and he hoped the House would take note of the admission he had made that the present system of introducing private Bills was extremely unsatisfactory. He accepted that as an admission that the system of the ballot was absurd, and that when any proposal was brought forward to change it for a better method it would have the right hon. Gentleman's support. His hon. friend had not possibly drawn his Amendment in such a shape as would secure the object which he had in view, but it could easily be altered. But the right hon. Gentleman went to the root of the matter when he said that he did not desire to give any further facilities for dealing after Whitsuntide with Bills which had obtained a Second Reading, and he alleged as a reason for that that Bills which were calculated to excite violent controversy ought not to have further advantages given them. But the right hon. Gentleman had omitted a very important class of Bills from his purview, a class of Bills with which he believed the House had considerable sympathy. The Bills he referred to were those which, though they did not pass their Second Readings unopposed, were yet opposed by only a small section of the House, which, under the present Rules, had the power to prevent any Bill passing as an unopposed measure, although it might meet with ready acceptance at the hands of an overwhelming majority. Now, that was a class of Bill which deserved consideration and indulgence at the hands of the Government, and it was, too, the class which he believed his hon. friend had in mind when he brought forward this Amendment. He was not contemplating those highly controversial questions which were evidently in the minds of some hon. Members, but he was thinking of that large class of business upon which there was a general feeling that the Bills should pass.
(4.30.) MR. JAMES LOWTHER (Kent, Thanet)
said he was afraid the right hon. Gentleman's experience was not of much use—
MR. JAMES LOWTHER
And very bad Bills they were, for they were hustled through the House of Commons practically in camera.
MR. JAMES LOWTHER
said he understood the right hon. Gentleman to refer to Bills in the earlier days of his Parliamentary career, which went through practically unnoticed.
MR. JAMES LOWTHER
said he was afraid the right hon. Gentleman's experience did not help them much. There appeared to be some doubt as to what was really the effect of an Amendment carried the other night. He understood that after the notices had been exhausted, Bills other than those put forward by the Government were to come next in their turn. He was not sure that there was any demand for this. Private Members had a right to call attention to matters of public importance, and to ventilate their grievances, but in nine cases out of ten, legislation was much better left in the hands of the responsible Ministers of the Crown. He did not think the House ought to accelerate and accentuate tinkering with legislation. A private Member's duty was to call attention to grievances and criticise the action of the Executive Government, and not to embark upon the discussion of fads of their own.
§ (4.35.) MR. CHARLES HOBHOUSE (Bristol, E.)
said that hitherto this time had been taken every session by a Sessional Order for the convenience of the Government. This Motion had been made session after session, but he desired to call attention to the difference between taking this time every session by such a Motion, and making it a permanent 1465 Order. Whitsuntide was exceedingly early this year, and Whit Sunday fell upon the 18th of May. In some years Whitsuntide fell almost at the end of May. Under the old system they knew beforehand what would be the date upon which Whitsuntide would fall. Now they were claiming this time irrespective of the date upon which the Government days began. What would they gain? Perhaps some five or six days to the advantage of the Government, and to the loss of private Members. Five or six days was not a great deal to add for the convenience of the Government, but it was a very great deal to take away from the time of private Members. It might be that that time would be occupied in discussing a Motion or a Bill, but, after all, this gave private Members opportunities for airing their views upon subjects which very often were of great importance. He wished to take exception to the statement of the First Lord of the Treasury that the Government were always ready to give facilities for private Bills. The Government were in the habit of putting down their business at such times as would prevent discussions by private Members. It was a fact that very useful legislation had been brought about by private Member's Bills. Two or three years ago a very useful Bill introduced by the hon. Member for North Shields was accepted by the House.
§ MR. CHARLES HOBHOUSE
contended that they would not be able to give time in the future unless they violated the permanent Rules of the House. He hoped his hon. friend would go to a division if the Government did not give way. He did not mind whether the date was the 30th of June or some other modification.
§ (4.40.) MR. COURTENAY WARNER (Staffordshire, Lichfield)
said the Members of the front Ministerial Bench were inclined to throw great discredit upon the work of private Members, and no doubt their work had been very futile in past years. That result, however, arose from the reason that work well begun had no chance of 1466 being finished, and if the Government persisted in trying to make the work of private Members less they would make their work in the future absolutely futile. With regard to what the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Thanet said, he objected to all legislation, and the right hon. Gentleman would no doubt like to see the House of Commons take a holiday for seven or eight years, and he would like to see a large duty put upon corn. That was not the view taken of the legislation which had been passed during the last few years. Bills passed by a large majority in the House of Commons ought to be given a chance of getting through their final stage, and if this Amendment did not meet the case absolutely a very few words might be added to make these later days absolutely for the finishing of Bills and not for Motions. But even as it was, this Motion would give enormous advantages in enabling them to finish legislation brought in which the House washed to have passed into law. He hoped the Government would give private Members a chance in this respect.
§ (4.43.) MR. CHARLES McARTHUR (Liverpool, Exchange)
hoped the Government would see their way to grant some further facilities for the Bills of private Members which had reached a certain stage. He wished to make a suggestion which he thought would meet the case, and he wished to show why it was necessary that such a proposal should be made. With regard to the observations which had fallen from some other hon. Members of greater experience than himself, it appeared that there was an impression that the tendency of the change from Wednesday to Friday for private Members' business would be to impart a certain air of unreality to the discussion. Moreover, the decisions arrived at would represent the sense not of the House as a whole, but of only that section of the House who were more or less interested in the measures. The First Lord had stated that the proposal embodied the usage of Parliament for a long time past. But usage was a very different thing from a fixed rule. It had also to be remembered that the necessity of the Government taking a large part of the time of private Members was based upon a 1467 condition of things existing before the Rules were prepared. The object of the Rules was to save the time of the House. If the object were secured, why should not private Members participate in the saving? If the Rule passed in its present form private Members would really have no chance whatever of passing their Bills if they were at all of a contentious character, and in his judgment, a Bill was of no good whatever unless it was contentious. He quite agreed that the Government should initiate the bulk of legislation, but many things had to be left to private Members, and he hoped the First Lord of the Treasury, who was the guardian of the privileges of all Members of the House, would pay some consideration to the just claims of private Members in this respect. The suggestion he desired to make was that on the first four Wednesdays after Whitsuntide priority should be given to private Members' Bills which had already passed their Second Reading.
§ MR. MCKENNA (Monmouthshire, N.)
said the position taken up by the First Lord was that in practice, although private Members had only two Wednesdays after Whitsuntide, if, in a special case, extra time was required to carry through a Bill, the Government always granted that time. That was perfectly true, but the time had been granted because under the old Standing Order Members had an opportunity of putting pressure upon the Government. That opportunity was now to be taken away. Instead of the First Lord having to come and ask the House to give him the time, he was now proposing to take it for evermore. The initiative previously possessed by private Members was being taken away from them; what compensation were they to have? The Rules were to save the time of the House. For whose benefit? For the benefit of the Government, and, of course, in that sense, for the benefit of the House. But there was being taken away from the unofficial Members one of the best opportunities they had of controlling the kind of legislation they would have. It was essential that in return for what they were losing private Members should have at least one more Friday. The Amendment was sound both in form and principle, and if carried, would mean that private Members would retain their 1468 Wednesday evening sittings until 30th June; that was to say, in an ordinary year they would have two more Wednesday evening sittings and either one or two more Friday sittings than the Rules would now give. That, as a compromise, seemed most reasonable, and he should heartily support it.
§ (4.50.) MR. CHAPLIN (Lincolnshire, Sleaford)
said it was perfectly clear from the statement of the First Lord that the Fridays given to private Members in the place of Wednesdays were in great peril of being absolutely useless. It would have been more candid of his right hon. friend if he had disclosed his intentions with regard to the future of private Member's privileges when he made his opening statement. But he did nothing of the kind. When the Rules were first laid before the House they contained a proposal with regard to the committal of Bills. That was a great concession to private Members, because it gave them an opportunity of getting their Bills referred to a Grand Committee. [Cheers.] Many hon. Members thought, that proposal a great mistake. He heard loud responses from eminent Members of the Church Party. That clause had entirely disappeared from the Paper, and he frankly admitted that its withdrawal was a great concession on the part of his right hon. friend to the Church Party, for it would render impossible the passage of the Deceased Wife's Sister Bill. But the House had some right to complain of that proceeding. As one of those who were anxious to see the rights of private Members maintained, he accepted that proposal with gladness, because as he had said, it made it possible for private Members to make progress with their Bills. He would not go so far as to charge his right hon. friend with committing a breach of faith; he would be sorry to do that, but the existence of that proposal on the Paper was undoubtedly one of the causes which induced him to vote in favour of the Motion "That the Rules be now considered." If he had been aware at that time that the proposal was going to be withdrawn without hon. Members having an opportunity of expressing their opinions with regard to it, his vote would have been given very differently. They now knew that private Bill legislation was to be relegated either 1469 to the evening sittings or to the private Members' sitting on Friday. What did that mean? Of course the promoters of private Bills would not come down to evening sittings, with all their array of council and legal paraphernalia.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
pointed out that it would not rest with the promoter to decide either the day or the hour for which private business should be put down; that would rest with the Chairman of Committees.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
said he was about to point out that if it did rest with the promoters they would naturally choose to come down on the Friday morning. As it seemed to be contemplated that the matter should rest with the Chairman of Committees.
§ MR. SPEAKER
intimated that the observations of the right hon. Gentleman on that point had better be reserved until the Rule to which he referred was before the House.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
said he would reserve his further remarks, but it was because he regarded the Amendment before the House as some mitigation of the severity proposed to be practised upon private Members that he for one should vote in its favour.
§ (4.49.) MR. BROADHURST (Leicester)
thought the Amendment was a very modest one, as, on an average, it would mean only two additional Wednesdays in the year. There was no doubt that, if these Rules were passed in their present form, legislation by private Members would be a thing of the past. The work of private Members of the House had in the past largely decided the fate of general elections. This was the case with the General Election of 1874, when the First Lord of the Treasury entered Parliament. The questions which brought about the result of the elections were questions which had been agitated by private Members ever since 1868, and those questions which had been discussed by private Members for so long compelled the Government, as their first work when they came into power, to appoint a Committee into these great and important social and labour questions. He himself in 1880, as a private Member, introduced 1470 a subject for discussion in the House, and, although his Bill did not pass into law, the result of the discussion that ensued was to revolutionise the whole system of leases in Cornwall and a large part of Devonshire and other parts. That was only one instance of the importance of work done by private Members, and the House was to be commended for fighting to the last ditch in defence of the rights of private Members. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury would, after the reasonable appeals that had been made to him, accept the Amendment.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES (Lynn Regis)
said this, no doubt, was a small matter compared with the larger changes proposed by these Rules. He shared the views of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Thanet, and thought the House existed rather for the purpose of debating measures than passing them. His opinion was that a private Members' Bill was really much less likely to be mischievous than a Government Bill. In the first place it was less likely to pass. In the second place it introduced subjects for discussion which were of an interesting character, very often of a far more interesting character than that which formed the subject of a Government Bill, which was often introduced less for the sake of the Government than for the sake of the Party it represented. This was no doubt a small thing, but nevertheless if the Amendment was passed it would save something from the wreck; because if these Rules were passed as they stood they would wreck the opportunities, the time, and the Bills of private Members. By the Standing Orders at present the Government were entitled to four-tenths of the time of the House and no more; the new Rules would give them nine-tenths, and in fact, unless this Amendment was carried, nearly ten-tenths of the time of the House. If the hon. Gentleman went to a division he should vote in favour of the Amendment.
§ MR. CLANCY (Dublin Co., N.)
thought that anybody who voted for the Amendment ought to go down at once to their constituents and apologise for so doing. Most Members had promised at 1471 the hustings to do their best to bring matters interesting to the notice of the House, and those who voted for this Amendment would, he thought, require to go to their constituents and say: "Remember, it is no use asking me to bring anything to the attention of the House because I have voted for the new Rules, and under those Rules there will be no opportunity given to me to to so." Their constituencies ought to know that those Members who were voting for the Amendment before the House were deliberately attempting to get out of their promises, for the Government was under this Amendment to take the whole time of the House after Whitsuntide. He did not say that the Government ought not to get proper facilities for bringing forward their Bills and Motions and administrative reforms, because, so far as England and Scotland were concerned, the Government was the expression of the will of the majority, but they were now asked to trample on the old traditions of Parliament and to give the Government the whole time of the House, and to deprive private Members of the time they had for bringing forward the grievances of their constituents. To deprive private Members of their time seemed to him to be a step towards making the Government absolutely independent of public opinion. If he made promises on the hustings that he would bring this, that, and the other matter of interest before the House of Commons, and if he now voted for a Rule to deprive himself deliberately of that opportunity, he would feel ashamed of himself.
§ (5.18.) MR. FLYNN (Cork Co., N.)
said it would be a dangerous thing to surrender the whole time of private Members after Whitsuntide to an arbitrary and unreasonable Government. The measures brought forward by the Government might not be dropped, but other useful legislative proposals, brought forward by private Members, would have no chance whatever. If the proposed Rule had been in operation last session the Child Messenger Bill would not have become law, because there would have been no chance of putting pressure on the Government to allow the Bill to be proceeded with. It was only when pressure was put on the Government from both sides of the House that the Bill, 1472 which was a private Members Bill, was allowed to go through all its stages and become law. That was a convincing argument why hon. Members should support the amendment.
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND (Waterford)
said he did not quite agree with the hon. Member for King's Lynn that this was a small and insignificant Amendment. In one sense it was small because it involved the difference between the Government taking the time of the House at Whitsuntide or at 30th June. In that respect it was small, but it was one of the last opportunities private Members would have to have the time at their disposal for their business at all. He confessed it was a matter of astonishment to him that, when the rights of private Members were at stake, the most strenuous supporters of the Amendment of the hon. Member for East Northamptonshire had come from the other side of the House, while hon. Members on the Opposition side above the gangway took no interest in the matter. He did not know why that was so. It appeared to him that the question now before them affected private Members in all parts of the House. By the ruling of the Speaker the debate must be confined to the particular Amendment under discussion, but the House would see the great difficulty they were in if the Rule was applied very strictly. He would be inclined to agree with the hon. Member for King's Lynn if all the opportunities for private Members' business were to be left, but on the contrary, they had good reason to believe that those occasions, which under the Rule were reserved for private Members, would not be left at all. As a matter of fact, it was almost certain that their value would be entirely destroyed by the Rule dealing with private business. The Leader of the House hail attempted to make a point by stating that the decision as to when private business would come on would rest with the Chairman of Committees. But that did not apply to Friday at all. The promoters of private Bills could put them down for Friday without the intervention of the Chairman at all. There was no provision that private business could not be put down for Friday. It would be put down on Friday by the promoters 1473 of private Bills, and therefore the whole of these sittings might be taken away from them.
§ THE SECRETARY OF THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. GRANT LAWSON, Yorkshire. N.R., Thirsk)
A single Member would say, "I object," and then it would go over.
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND
said he did not admit that at all. As he read the Rule as it stood that was not the ease. This was one of the last opportunities private Members would have of protecting their right to have any share of the time of the House, and he was sorry that the question had not been more seriously treated by Members on the Opposition side.
§ MR. JOHN ELLIS (Nottingham, Rushcliffe)
said they found themselves in an extremely difficult position in connection with the discussion of procedure. The Speaker was of course bound to take care that the discussions mainly if not wholly related to the particular amendment before the House. But at the same time, the whole question of the Standing Orders was of such an intricate and complicated nature that it was almost impossible to discuss one Standing Order without trenching on the others. They were placed in another difficulty—one which he very much regretted to have to allude to. When discussing procedure in the House of Commons procedure of the most vital importance—never had he seen a Leader of the House so comparatively careless as the right hon. Gentleman had been.
§ MR. JOHN ELLIS
I mean, for instance, that never have I seen an Under Secretary of State put up to explain the meaning of an Amendment. Mr. Gladstone and Mr. Smith—
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
If the right hon. Gentleman refers to me, I am always in a difficulty in dealing with these things, because, under the Rules, I can only speak once. I have sometimes asked a colleague to start the discussion, when I 1474 did not know to what extent it was going to proceed. I regret that in this case I did not ask a colleague to start the discussion, because I should have had the opportunity of replying.
§ MR. JOHN ELLIS
If the right hon. Gentleman thinks that I have been in any way personally discourteous, I will at once withdraw anything I have said. I still maintain my point that when procedure is before the House, the Leader of the House, in the days of Mr. Gladstone and Mr. Smith, made it his first business to be present, and to answer any question that arose.
§ MR. JOHN ELLIS
The right hon. Gentleman left a most difficult point to be answered by an Under Secretary. [Cries of "Order" and "Withdraw."] I will certainly withdraw anything supposed to be personally discourteous, but I maintain that the right hon. Gentleman has not shown, by his action, his sense of the extreme gravity of the proposal of the Government. The Amendment before the House was to save two or three Wednesdays in June for unofficial Members' Bills. Everyone with the slightest experience of these things knew perfectly well that the value of such days at that period of the Session could not be over-estimated. The Amendment, if carried, would be the means of saving the life of one if not two of these Bills each Session. Hon. Members who voted against an Amendment like this had better not talk to their constituents about the Bills they meant to promote. It was becoming a perfect farce for non-official Members to put their names on the back of Bills, and then to give up all their time to the Government.
§ (5.31.) MR. POWER (Waterford, E.)
said that his hon. friend the Member for the City of Waterford had expressed surprise that hon. Members above the Gangway had not very much interested themselves in regard to these Rules. To some extent he agreed with his hon. friend; but there was an explanation for that. The present Government were running away with private 1475 Members' rights in a manner which no Liberal Government would have dared to attempt. The Conservative or Constitutional Government—as they took pride in designating themselves—would henceforth have the credit of invading the rights of private Members and doing away with their privileges more than any other Government which had preceded them. Members on that side of the House hoped, to some extent, to reap the benefit of such legislation, and that at some future date Gentlemen opposite would have their backs scourged with the whip which they had prepared for their opponents. He had been in the House and some years, during which the Rules of Procedure had been changed in various respects, but he did not remember any occasion when they had been asked to make great changes, as now proposed, without the House of Commons being-placed in a better position than at present for their consideration. They had been told that the highest authorities and officials of the House approved of many of these Rules.
§ Mr. POWER
said he understood that the authorities in the House did approve of many of these Rules, and had been consulted about them. But on every previous occasion when it was proposed to change the rules of procedure a Committee of the House had been first appointed to consider the matter. [Hon. Members, "No" and "Yes."]
§ Mr. A. J. BALFOUR
The hon. Gentleman is mistaken in his facts. The greatest alteration made was not preceded by any Committee.
§ MR. SPEAKER
I must remind the hon. Gentleman that he is now departing from the question before the House. He cannot enter into a general discussion of the Rules.
§ MR. POWER
said that in his own recollection there was certainly one occasion when a proposed change was preceded by a Committee of Inquiry. 1476 As to the Motion before the House it might appear to be a small point, but at the same time a great principle was involved. The Government evidently wished to make the House of Commons a mere voting machine. He thought his hon. friend was doing a service by calling attention to the fact that they were asked to give up, at the end of the session, a few private Members' days which might be of great value. Knowing as they did that this Rule and every other Rule was directed against them, it was the duty of Irish Members to stand up and protest against it as far as they could.
§ SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucestershire, Forest of Dean)
said although it had been pointed out that the hon. Member who had just sat down was out of order, he had a great deal more to say for himself than those who contradicted him imagined; and he thought that the hon. Member's case had been proved. The particular matter which the House was now discussing had been repeatedly considered by Committees, and the opposition of these Committees had been very plainly displayed against proposals of the kind previously made. In the great Northcote Committee of 1878 this matter was very fully considered indeed, and on that occasion he had succeeded in carrying unanimously a Rule in favour of placing on all the Wednesday's after Whitsuntide the Bills which had previously made most progress. That Rule had, however, become a mere mockery now. This matter was considered again by a Committee in 1886, and the proposal was then carried that all private Members' Bills, without exception, which had been read a second time should go to a special Standing Committee, with the idea that those Bills would be sorted out which had the most general support, and that they should have a chance of being passed into law by Parliament. The generally unanimous opinion of the House, and in all cases the opinion of the Committee, had been, in favour of the view for which the minority were contented that day. The two Fridays left for private Members' Bills after Whit Sunday, by this cast-iron Rule, were totally inadequate. These 1477 Fridays would become an inferior sort of Tuesdays for bringing abstract questions before the House. He was not given to prophecy, but he ventured to predict that this Rule would be reversed before many years were over. He was perfectly convinced that the present set in favour of nothing but Government legislation would be reversed in a few years. But meantime hon. Members must let their constituents understand that the Wednesdays—or rather Fridays now—were becoming entirely useless for legislation, and merely a means of ventilation of Motions before the House. The Leader of the House in making those changes, and forcing them on the older and more experienced Members of the House, did so to support a case which in a year or two he would submit to the House; that private Members' days were entirely useless and ought therefore to be done away with.
§ (5.42.) MR. SWIFT MACNEILL (Donegal, S.)
said that his personal respect for the First Lord of the Treasury was extremely well known. He had never concealed in the slightest degree, either publicly or privately, his admiration for the right hon. Gentleman. But if he did not yield and accept this Amendment he would show himself as an enemy of the rights and privileges of private Members. The right hon. Gentleman had been for twenty-five years in the House; his intellect had been an ornament to the Chamber, but he had been ever robbing private Members of their rights and privileges. The right hon. Baronet the Member for Forest of Dean had said with perfect justice that in forcing his proposals on the House, and refusing all Amendments was acting against the general sense of the House, and if the right hon. Gentleman had not had amongst his followers between seventy and eighty Members who had never been in the House before, these Rules would not and could not have been carried. During the fifteen years he had been in the House he did not think he had occupied more than an hour and a half or two hours of the private Members' time. In defending the rights of private Members he wished 1478 to explain his position. An Irish Member's work was more or less, so far as he could, to control the Executive Government. As had been so often said, the House of Commons was the Grand Inquest of the nation, and hon. Members must criticise the actions of the Government—even if they were regarded, as the late Mr. Plimsoll was, as terrible faddists. He wanted to save, in however slight a degree, some salvage from the rights of private Members, and he implored the First Lord of the Treasury to make this small concession. Whit Sunday was a movable feast, and what they wanted was that up to 30th June private Members should have all the Fridays, in order that they might have a chance of carrying their Bills The career of every young man who entered Parliament with ambitions would be ruined if this Rule were carried as it stood. After making great sacrifices to secure a seat in the House the young Member would find no opportunity of distinguishing himself by making a speech, or of even being abused by the newspapers, but would be compelled to sit patiently and say "Hear, hear," or "No, no."
§ MR. SPEAKER
I must remind the hon. Gentleman that he is not confining himself to the question before the House.
§ MR. SWIFT MACNEILL
said that, as Mr. Speaker knew, some hon. Members had great difficulty in keeping order. It was almost impossible to keep order in the present case, because these Rules so interlaced each other that a general discussion on the effect of a single Rule was almost an impossibility. He supported the Amendment on the ground that it would increase the facilities of private Members—already small and poor—for making some progress with their Bills. It was no secret that there were certain great questions which affected both Liberals and Conservatives; but there were other questions, not yet ripe for settlement, which it was vital should be brought before the House as the great medium for instructing, the public. It would be utterly impossible, if the Rule were passed, for a Reform Bill to be brought before the 1479 House in the future by a private Member. The right hon. Gentleman was unconsciously establishing a system whereby the executive power would control Parliament, instead of Parliament controlling the executive power. It was utterly outrageous that a mere official set—he was not speaking with any disrespect—men wishful for place on one side as on the other, should have the management of the public business of the country. America would not be in it, for men came to the House and found themselves, gagged. There were hon. Members whose ambition was not to sit on the Treasury Bench, but to bring forward great questions of public importance. They ought not to be gagged by the Leader of the House or his successors. He was a in ember of a Party whose glory it was
§ always to be private Members. Not one of them would accept a place in the Treasury Bench if offered it, and from their position the Rules were absolutely vital. The conclusion which had governed his thoughts and his heart while listening to the debates on the Rules was that there never had been such an example of public debasement since the eve of the downfall of the Roman Empire as the House of Commons consulting the personal convenience of the Ministry, or where Members ought to dine, when their fellow countrymen were lying in misery and death in South Africa.
§ (5.48.) Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 216; Noes, 151. (Division List No. 96.)1483
|Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir Alex. F.||Coghill, Douglas Harry||Goulding, Edward Alfred|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Graham, Henry Robert|
|Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel||Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Gray, Ernest (West Ham)|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Colomb, Sir John Charles Ready||Greene, W. Raymond (Cambs.)|
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole||Guest, Hon. Ivor Churchill|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Compton, Lord Alwyne||Gunter, Sir Robert|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Halsey, Rt. Hon. Thomas F.|
|Arrol, Sir William||Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Hamilton, Rt. Hn. Lord G (Midd'x|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Cox, Irwin Edward Bainbridge||Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robert Wm.|
|Bagot, Capt. Josceline Fitzroy||Cranborne, Viscount||Harris, Frederick Leverton|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Cripps, Charles Alfred||Haslam, Sir Alfred S.|
|Bain, Colonel James Robert||Cross, Herb. Shepherd (Bolton)||Haslett, Sir James Horner|
|Baird, John George Alexander||Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Helder, Augustus|
|Baldwin, Alfred||Denny, Colonel||Hermon-Hodge, Robert Trotter|
|Bal four, Rt. Hon. A. J. (Manch'r||Dewar, T. R (T'rH'mlets, S. Geo.||Higginbottom, S. W.|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. Gerald W. (Leeds||Dickinson, Robert Edmond||Hoare, Sir Samuel|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Dickson, Charles Scott||Hobhouse, Henry (Somerset, E|
|Barry, Sir Francis T. (Windsor)||Dixon-Hartland, Sir Fr'd Dixon||Hope, J. F. (Sheffield, Brightside|
|Bartley, George C. T.||Dorington, Sir John Edward||Hornby, Sir William Henry|
|Bignold, Arthur||Doughty, George||Hoult, Joseph|
|Bill, Charles||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Howard, J.(Midd., Tottenham)|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Doxford, Sir William Theodore||Hozier, Hon. James Henry Cecil|
|Boscawen, Arthur Griffith-||Duke, Henry Edward||Hudson, George Bickersteth|
|Boulnois, Edmund||Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas||Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick|
|Bousfield, William Robert||Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward||Jessel, Captain Herbert Merton|
|Brotherton, Edward Allen||Fergusson, Rt Hn. Sir J. (Manc'r||Johnston, William Belfast|
|Brymer, William Ernest||Finch, George H.||Kennaway, Rt. Hon. Sir John H.|
|Bull, William James||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Knowles, Lees|
|Bullard, Sir Harry||Firbank, Joseph Thomas||Law, Andrew Bonar|
|Campbell, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Glasgow||Fisher, William Hayes||Lawson, John Grant|
|Carlile, William Walter||Fitz Gerald, Sir Robert penrose-||Lee, Arthur H. (Hants., F'reham|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Fitzroy, Hon. Ed ward Algernon||Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Flannery, Sir Fortescue||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie|
|Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lanes.)||Forster, Henry William||Leveson-Gower, Frederick N. S.|
|Cavendish, V. C. W. (D'rbyshire||Galloway, William Johnson||Llewellyn, Evan Henry|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Gardner, Ernest||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R.|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Gibbs, Hn A. G. H. (City of Lond.||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. (Birm.)||Gibbs, Hon. Vicary (St. Albans)||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter Bristol, S.|
|Chamberlain, J. Austen (Worc'r||Godson, Sir Augustus Frederick||Lonsdale, John Brownlee|
|Chamberlayne, T. (S'thampton)||Gordon, Hn. J. E. (Elgin&Nairn||Lowther, C. (Cumb., Eskdale)|
|Chapman, Edward||Gordon, J. (Londonderry, S.)||Lowther, Rt. Hn. James (Kent)|
|Churchill, Winston Spencer||Gore, Hn G. R. C. Ormsby-(Salop||Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft)|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Gorst, Rt. Hon Sir John Eldon||Lucas Reginald J. (Portsmouth|
|Coddington, Sir William||Goschen, Hon. George Joachim||Macdona, John Cumming|
|MacIver, David (Liverpool)||Purvis, Robert||Tollemache, Henry James|
|Maconochie, A. W.||Randles, John S.||Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. Murray|
|M'Calmont, Col. H L B (Cambs.)||Rasch, Major Frederick Carrie||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|M' Iver, Sir Lewis (Edinburgh W||Ratcliff, R. E.||Valentia, Viscount|
|M'Killop, James (Stirlingshire)||Rattigan, Sir William Henry||Vincent, Col. Sir C E H (Sheffield|
|Majendie, James A. H.||Reid, James (Greenock)||Vincent, Sir Edgar (Exeter)|
|Malcolm, Ian||Remnant, James Farquharson||Warr, Augustus Frederick|
|Maple, Sir John Blundell||Ridley, Hn. M. W. (Stalybridge)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Maxwell, Rt Hn. Sir H E (Wigt'n||Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson||Webb, Colonel William George|
|Middlemore, J'hn Throgmorton||Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield)||Welby, Lt.-Col. A. C. E (Taunt'n|
|Molesworth, Sir Lewis||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)||Whiteley, H. (Ashtonund, Lyne|
|Moon, Edward Robert Pacy||Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Moore, William (Antrim, N.)||Ropner, Colonel Robert||Williams, Rt Hn J Powell (Birm.|
|More, Robt. Jasper (Shropshire)||Round, James||Willox, Sir John Archibald|
|Morgan, David. J (W'lthamstow||Rutherford, John||Wilson, A. Stanley (York. E. R.)|
|Morgan, Hn. Fred. (Monm'thsh,||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford-||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Morrison, James Archibald||Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander||Wilson, John (Glasgow)|
|Morton, Arthur H. A. (Deptford||Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert||Wilson-Todd, Wm. H. (Yorks.)|
|Mount, William Arthur||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Muntz, Philip A.||Seely, Charles Hilton (Lincoln)||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Murray, Rt Hn A. Graham (Bute||Sharpe, William Edward T.||Wrightson, Sir Thomas|
|Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)||Smith, Abel H (Hertford, East)||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)||Smith,. James Parker (Lanarks.)||Wyndham-Quin, Major W. H.|
|Myers, William Henry||Spear, John Ward||Younger, William|
|Nicol, Donald Ninian||Spencer, Sir E. (W. Bromwich)|
|Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay||Stanley, Lord (Lanes.)|
|Parker, Gilbert||Stewart Sir Mark J. M'Taggart||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.|
|Penn, John||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Percy, Earl||Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley|
|Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.)||Emmott, Alfred||M'Kenna, Reginald|
|Allan, William (Gateshead)||Fenwick, Charles||M'Killop, W. (Sligo, North)|
|Allen, Charles P. (Glonc., Stroud||Ffrench, Peter||M'Laren, Charles Benjamin|
|Ambrose, Robert||Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond||Mansfield, Horace Rendall|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Flynn, James Christopher||Markham, Arthur Basil|
|Austin, Sir John||Poster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)||Mather, William|
|Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Mooney, John J.|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Fuller, J. M. F.||Morton, Edw. J. C. (Devonport)|
|Bell, Richard||Furness, Sir Christopher||Moulton, John Fletcher|
|Black, Alexander William||Gilhooly, James||Murphy, John|
|Blake, Edward||Goddard, Daniel Ford||Nannetti, Joseph P.|
|Bowles, T. Gibson (King's Lynn)||Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton||Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)|
|Brand, Hon. Arthur G.||Haldane, Richard Burdon||Norton, Capt. Cecil William|
|Brigg, John||Hammond, John||Nussey, Thomas Willans|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil||O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)|
|Burns, John||Harwood, George||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Came, William Sproston||Hayden, John Patrick||O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)|
|Caldwell, James||Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale-||O'Donnell, T. (Kerry. W.)|
|Campbell, John (Armagh, S.)||Hayter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur D.||O'Dowd, John|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Helme, Norval Watson||(Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)|
|Carvill, Patrick Geo. Hamilton||Hobhouse, C E. H. (Bristol, E.)||O' Kelly, James (Roscommon, N|
|Causton, Richard Knight||Holland, William Henry||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Hope, John Deans (Fife, West)||O'Shee, James John|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Horniman, Frederick John||Partington, Oswald|
|Cogan, Denis J.||Jacoby, James Alfred||Paulton, James Mellor|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Jones, David Brynmor (Sw'nsea||Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)|
|Craig, Robert Hunter||Jordan, Jeremiah||Pickard, Benjamin|
|Crean, Eugene||Joyce, Michael||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen)||Kearley, Hudson E.||Price, Robert John|
|Davies, M. Vaughan-(Cardigan||Kinloch, Sir John George Smyth||Priestley, Arthur|
|Delany, William||Lambert, George||Rea, Russell|
|Dilke Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Lay land-Barratt, Francis||Reddy, M.|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Lough, Thomas||Redmond, John E (Waterford)|
|Doogan, P. C.||Lundon, W.||Reid, Sir R. Threshie (Dumfries)|
|Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||MacDonnell, Dr. Mark A.||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)|
|Duncan, J. Hastings||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)|
|Dunn, Sir William||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Roche, John|
|Dyke, Rt. Hn. Sir William Hart||M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Edwards, Frank||M'Crae, George||Runciman, Walter|
|Elibank, Master of||M'Govern, T.||Russell, T. W.|
|Ellis, John Edward||M'Kean, John||Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford|
|Sheeham, Daniel Daniel||Thomas, F. Freeman (Hastings||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Shipman, Dr. John G.||Tomkinson, James||Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)|
|Sinclair, John (Forfarshire)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips||Wilson, Fred. W. (Norfolk, Mid.|
|Soames, Arthur Wellesley||Wallace, Robert||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)|
|Spencer, Rt Hn C. R. (Northants||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)|
|Stevenson, Francis S.||Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan)||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Strachey, Sir Edward||Weir, James Galloway|
|Sullivan, Donal||White, Luke (York. E. R.)|
|Tennant, Harold John||White, Patrick (Meath, North)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. Channing and Mr. Broadhurst.|
|Thomas, Alfred (Glamorgan, E.||Whiteley, George (York, W. R.)|
|Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
Question, "That the word 'Michaelmas' be there inserted," put, and agreed to.
§ (6.2.) MR. CLANCY
said the object of the Amendment which he now proposed to move was perfectly clear. As the Rule stood now, if a session was prolonged by an adjournment, or if there was an autumn session, the Rule as constituted would preclude the private Member from having any time whatever. As he understood it, under this Rule the private Members would have no time whatever after Whitsuntide; and that would, if the session were extended by adjournment or in the event of an autumn session, be a gross injustice. Having regard to the experience of the last few years, he thought that it was quite probable that the House might be called together for some trumpery, trifling matter which the Government could not finish within the limits of the ordinary session; and in that case not a single hour of the time of the House would be given to private Members for any private Bills. He hoped the eyes of hon. Members would be opened as to the true meaning of the Amendment which had just been carried and the necessity for the Amendment he now moved.
After the word 'Whitsuntide' to insert the words 'until the thirty-first day of August.'"—(Mr. Clancy).
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
MR. A. J. BALFOUE
said he did not imagine that the hon. Member expected the Government to accept this Amendment. [Opposition cries of "Why?"] The House only sat after the 31st of August, at great inconvenience to itself, for the purpose of passing certain necessary public business introduced by the Government, and he did not think unofficial Members themselves would tolerate any proposition so absurd as that they should be kept through 1484 September for the purpose of discussing, abstract Resolutions or private Members' Bills.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN (Stirling Burghs)
said the right hon. Gentleman appeared to him to have missed the point of the question which underlay each of these Amendments with which the House had to deal. What the House had to consider was not whether, in any previous year, Parliament had chosen to make this surrender in the circumstances of the moment, but whether Parliament now, for all time to come, was to exclude itself from the enjoyment of this privilege. What happened in ordinary years was that the Government, when the circumstances required it, and when they thought they could make out a good case for extending their time, came forward and submitted their case to the House, and the House, often willingly and sometimes joyfully, had given up their time to that demand. But that was quite a different thing to what the Home was now asked to do, which was to part with its power and to say that after a certain date in the middle of the summer they should dispose of the whole of their time. That, he thought, was too strong a demand to make, and for that reason he was prepared to vote for such an Amendment as this.
(6.12.) MR. JAMES LOWTHER
said he did not know whether this Amendment would apply to an Autumn session. He quite agreed that when it was a question of winding up the session it was only reasonable that the time of the House should be fully taken up by the Government, but he thought that should be the subject of a specific Motion rather than of a stereotyped Standing Order. But as he read the words of the Rule he drew the inference that if the House should be adjourned in August, to re-assemble some 1485 time in October, it would also enable the Government to dispose of the whole time of the House, it might be for a whole year. He was in favour of preventing private Members' Bills, as they were called, occupying time required to wind up the session, but that was quite different from interfering with notices of Motion. He thought the House should be informed as to how far this Rule reached.
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND
said he did not know why the right hon. Gentleman in his short speech had omitted all reference to the point of the Amendment before the House. No one would suggest that if a session were prolonged after the 31st of August, and went through September, all the rights of private Members should be preserved. The real point had not been touched by the right hon. Gentleman. The point was this: Suppose the session concluded, as it usually did, some time in August, but that the Government, for reasons which seemed sufficiently strong to them, called a new session in October, November, or December. Then in that new session they would be in absolute possession of the entire time of the House, without the House having the opportunity of saying whether they wished it or not. It was monstrous that that should be the case. It might be argued that an autumn session was never summoned except to transact some grave business of a particular character. But even under those circumstances, the House of Commons ought surely to have the right to decide for itself whether that business was so grave that private Members were not to have one single hour of time. But the case with regard to an adjournment was even stronger. The House might not be prorogued in August at all. There might be an adjournment until October, and the same session go on until Christmas, and then, after being again adjourned, revived in the year following. It was certainly open to question whether, under the present wording, the Rule would not apply to the whole of the remainder of the session in the following year, so that, if the session went on for a year and a half, the rights of private Members would still remain in abeyance. He did not know whether the right hon. Gentleman intended any such result, but certainly 1486 the House did not. Although, technically, the right hon. Gentleman was precluded from speaking twice on the same Amendment, as he had entirely misunderstood the point, the House would doubtless allow him to address himself to the question again.
§ (6.20.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said he was under the impression that he had dealt adequately with the argument of the hon. Member for North Dublin. The hon. Member for Water-ford, however, had put two distinct cases before the House, and asked what were the Government's views with regard to them. One case was that of the extension of an ordinary session by adjournments, and the other was that of the House being called together in the autumn after a prorogation. An autumn session following an adjournment was, both in name and in reality, an extension of the preceding session for the purpose of carrying through business commenced in that session. In his opinion, it would be utterly absurd, and altogether contrary to the practice and interests of Parliament, that in such an autumn session the rights of private Members should revive. They had never been allowed, and he thought they ought not, to revive. But, with regard to the other case, in which Parliament re-assembled for another session in the autumn, after a prorogation in August, it was certainly not the intention of the Government by this Rule to interfere with the customary rights of private Members. That was the last thing they either intended or desired.
§ SIR HENRY FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)
remarked that the Order could not apply to a subsequent session.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
agreed. His own view was that the Standing Order would not have any effect in the new session. He thought the Rule, as it stood, was quite sufficient to prevent the rights of private Members in a new session being affected by anything which had occurred in the old session. If, however, there was any ambiguity in that respect, he had not the least objection to introducing words to make it perfectly clear.
§ SIR CHARLES DILKE
contended that the Government must go further than they had offered to go, it was intolerable that, on the pretext of an adjournment of the session, the rights of Members to bring forward Motions for discussion—even votes of censure—should be put an end to by the whole of the time of the House being taken under this proposa.
§ SIR CHARLES DILKE
said that different people had different views as to what were votes of censure, and when on a previous occasion the House was kept sitting, with adjournments, until the month of March. Members experienced this difficulty in bringing forward what they thought were votes of censure on the Government. The result was that the business of the House was disturbed, and there was a total want of certainty as to its proceedings, because Motions for the adjournment of the House were constantly being brought forward. Surely the House of Commons with its eyes open could not accept the possibility, and even the probability of being thus arbitrarily, deprived of all opportunities of discussing any matters other than the Bill which might be before it, even though the session might be prolonged from the commencement of one year until the month of March in the following year. He did not think the Government could seriously propose that, but in any case the House ought to insist upon a reasonable compromise being made.
§ MR. STUART WORTLEY (Sheffield, Hallam)
said that the right hon. Baronet had based his appeal on one of the most mischievous and ill-omened precedents that could be found, and one which led its author into political disaster. The only Amendment needed, if any were required, was to add the words "until the end of the session." He hoped the Government would not give way.
§ MR. LOUGH (Islington, W.)
thought the Amendment of the hon. Member for North Dublin would meet the case better than any other words that could be suggested. No more discussion was needed as 1488 regarded the principle, as the First Lord had admitted that he did not in the first instance understand the case which had been made out. It was obvious that a finger had been laid on one defect in the Rule. The hon. Member for Waterford had somewhat too readily accepted the statement of the First Lord that when Parliament was called together in the autumn it was always for some urgent business. That was not the case. The proceedings in connection with the Local Government Bill in 1894 were sufficient to prove that. On that occasion the House met simply to press on ordinary business. If the business for which Parliament was called together was urgent and grave, the first proposal of the Government would be, to fake all the time of the House for the definite purpose announced by the Government. Such a Resolution would be passed in two or three hours. The words suggested by the hon. Member for the Hallam Division of Sheffield would hardly be sufficient, but if some better words could be suggested no doubt the hon. Member for North Dublin would withdraw his Amendment.
(6.30.) MR. GIBSON BOWLES
said that as the words now stood they really extended over the whole of the year after Whitsuntide and also into the next year. Evidently what the Government meant was that they should extend this to the end of the session. The argument put forward by the hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean showed that under certain circumstances there would, be very considerable danger of the powers being more than the Government themselves desired to have. He had risen to make a suggestion which might accommodate matters. He suggested that the Government should accept one of two-things. They might add the word. "Michaelmas," or perhaps the Government might be willing to accept the words "the end of the session." If it was not Michaelmas, it ought to be Christmas. No Government ever could want those extraordinary powers except for the purpose of winding up a session. Undoubtedly it was true that if the session had to be prolonged in an ordinary way beyond its ordinary limit, then they ought to continue to have 1489 these powers. If it was not necessary or desirable to prolong the session as in 1893–94 by adjournments to make it an inordinately long one, then he thought the Government was not, under those circumstances, entitled to carry on those powers over August or September. October, November, or December, and even over January. He did not know whether the right hon. Gentleman would accept the word "Michaelmas." If he would, he thought that would probably meet the objects of the Government and their intention. All this illustrated the difficulty of debating those Rules otherwise than in Committee. By the indulgence of the House, the right hon. Gentleman could speak twice, but other hon. Members could not. He did not know whether the First Lord of the Treasury would offer him any encouragement to move the word "Michaelmas" or "the current year." In order to ascertain the view of the right hon. Gentleman, he would move to omit "until the list of August," and insert "Michaelmas."
Amendment proposed to the proposed Amendment—
To leave out the words 'the thirty-first day of August,' and insert the word 'Michaelmas."—(Mr. Gibson Bowles.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words 'the thirty-first day of August' stand part of the proposed Amendment."
§ (6.35.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said he was perfectly ready to admit that this proposal ought not to carry over to next session. Autumn sessions, of which they had had so many examples, were always undertaken to fulfil certain business, and the House was generally very anxious not to spend any of that time dealing with any other business. He thought it would be contrary to the spirit of this Standing Order that at the beginning of that session they should go through a debate as to whether private Members' privileges should be revised or not. He was ready to meet his hon. friend by saying that they ought no to go over into the next year, and if that compromise would promote harmony, he should be glad to accept it.
§ SIR ROBERT REID (Dumfries Burghs)
said it seemed to him that the 1490 difference was simply between the 29th of September and the 25th of December. Was it really worth while for the House of Commons to spend all this time because the Government declined to consider the wishes of hon. Gentlemen upon so small a matter as this? The only contingency which the right hon. Gentleman now stood out for was that when the session should flow over to an autumn session, which did not happen more than once in four or five years. It would not take more than two or three hours to get the House to consent to give the time, and was it not really courting a waste of time for the Government upon a matter of that kind to refuse to consider the wishes of their opponents Was it worth while keeping on a debate of this kind upon so small and unimportant a matter?
§ MR. CHAPLIN
said that for the purpose of the interpretation of the Rule there must be some date fixed to limit its operation. The Rule contained the expression "after Whitsuntide." When would "after Whitsuntide" cease to have any meaning? And when would "before Whitsuntide" begin? Supposing the session was adjourned to the March of the following year, what would be the effect of the Rule then? "After Whitsuntide." in that case, would be a misleading term. If they took into consideration the possibility of a long adjournment, there must be some limit, if only for the purpose of making the Rule intelligible.
§ (6.40.) MR. JOHN REDMOND
said he was not quite sure how they stood, and he was afraid that the right hon. Gentleman had somewhat receded from the position which he took up. He understood him to concede the point that where a prorogation had taken place and a new session commenced in the autumn, these Rules ought not to apply. The suggestion about "the end of the year" would not meet the case. They agreed that in case a session ended in August or September by prorogation, and before Christmas another session commenced, they should not apply. If instead of proroguing Parliament in August or September the Government thought they could carry out the plans 1491 with less trouble by simply adjourning the session until October or November, then the Rules were to apply. That was a most unreasonable proposal. If on the 31st of August the Government made up their mind to spend November or December discussing their policy, and did not think it convenient to prorogue but easier to adjourn, he thought it was most unreasonable that those Rules should apply. That was the difference between them, and he agreed with the hon. and learned Gentleman on the front Opposition Bench that the point was not worth the time they were expending on it The right hon. Gentleman said that Parliament never met under those circumstances except to discuss some business which was so urgent that the whole House was anxious to discuss it and devote all their time to it. Suppose that was the case—why should the Government be afraid of having a discussion under those circumstances, which could not last more than a couple of hours, on the question as to whether the House really did wish to devote the whole of its time to this particular business? He urged the right hon. Gentleman, in the interest of rapid progress with the Rules, to make a further concession.
§ (6.45.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said his view of this Standing Order might be very briefly stated. When the universal experience of the House showed that a certain procedure with regard to private Members' Bills was a convenient procedure, it was time to embody it in the Standing Orders. The universal experience of the House had shown that when the House met for an autumn session after an adjournment it met to finish up Government Bills; and therefore it would simply be a waste of a few hours at the opening of such a session to discuss whether or not the rights of private Members should be revived. No Government would consent to the revival of these rights in such circumstances. Still, though he did not think the Amendment would be an improvement to the Rule, if it were the general impression that by its I adoption progress would be made with Rules, instead of time being wasted— 1492 if he might say so with all respect—by the repetition of arguments, he would willingly make the concession. He would agree to the insertion in the Rule of the words "until Michaelmas."
§ MR. CLANCY
said that, so far as he was concerned, he accepted the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman. He thought that Michaelmas would be a more suitable date. The observations that fell from the right hon. Gentleman would lead to the notion that this Motion had been made with the desire of obstructing he progress of the Rules. He had not spoken on the Rules until tonight.
§ MR. CLANCY
said he understood that these Rules should not apply to an autumn session. He made no particular imputation against the Government now in office. He had complete distrust of all Governments, no matter which Party they belonged to.
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON (Dundee)
said he would make a suggestion which would carry out the general understanding of the House. The right hon. Gentleman had expressed his willingness to insert some such words as "until the House be prorogued." [Cries of "No."] He urged him to make it clear that a new session would not be included in the scope of the Rule. He suggested that the words to be inserted after "Whitsuntide" should be "until the House be prorogued or adjourned more than a week."
§ Question put and negatived.
§ Amendment, as amended, agreed to.
(6.50.) MR. GIBSON BOWLES
said he had an Amendment to propose which was not on the Paper. The Amendment itself was not absolutely necessary, but it was necessary to move it in order to get an 1493 explanation. He pointed out that an Amendment which was accepted on Tuesday, and of which the Blue Paper took no account, and was, therefore, incorrect, had entirely altered the character of paragraph (b) of the Standing Order. That paragraph, to which the House had agreed, and, therefore, could not go back upon, laid it down that at the evening sitttings of Tuesday and Wednesday, Motions and Bills of private Members should have precedence of Government business. Paragraph (d), as it now stood, provided that—after Whitsuntide and up to Michaelmas, Government business shall have precedence at all evening sittings, and at all Friday sittings, except the sittings on the third and fourth Fridays after Whit Sunday.He proposed after the word Michaelmas to insert the words—subject to the provisions of paragraph (b.)
After the words last inserted, to insert the words, 'subject to the provisions of paragraph (b).'"—(Mr. Gibson Bowles.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
replied that the obvious intention of the whole Rule was that, whereas the session should
§ start with the evening sittings of Tuesday and Wednesday being devoted to private Members, after Easter the Government would take the Tuesday and after Whitsuntide the Wednesday evening sittings. He could not accept the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman.
§ MR. McKENNA
said the priority to be given to private Members' business over Government business depended on other Standing Orders. The House did not accept the proposal by which the Government's intention was to be carried out. The House made a new proposal, which was accepted by the Government. Now private Members' Motions and Bills were to have precedence at certain sittings over the whole session. [Cries of "No."] Hon. I Members might say "No," but he read the Rule in that form. That would have been reasonable, and in accordance with the original intention of the Government. It was ridiculous for the right hon. Gentleman to say that the proposal before the House was only I carrying out the original intention of the Government. He should certainly support the Motion of his hon. friend.
§ (7.0.) Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 142; Noes, 223. (Division List No. 97.)1497
|Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.||Donelan, Captain A.||Hayter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur D.|
|Allan, William (Gateshead)||Doogan, P. C.||Helme, Norval Watson|
|A Hen, Charles P (Glouc., Stroud||Duncan, J. Hastings||Hobhouse, C. E. H. (Bristol, E.)|
|Ambrose, Robert||Dunn, Sir William||Holland, William Henry|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Edwards, Frank||Hope, John Deans (Fife, West)|
|Austin, Sir. John||Elibank, Master of||Horniman, Frederick John|
|Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Ellis, John Edward||Jameson, Major J. Eustace|
|Black, Alexander William||Emmott, Alfred||Jones, D'vid Brynmor (Swansea|
|Blake, Edward||Farquharson, Dr. Robert||Jordan, Jeremiah|
|Bowles, T. Gibson (King's Lynn||Fenwick, Charles||Joyce, Michael|
|Brigg, John||Ffrench, Peter||Kearley, Hudson E.|
|Broadhurst, Henry||Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond||Kinloch, Sir John George Smyth|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Flynn, James Christopher||Lambert, George|
|Caine, William Sproston||Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)||Layland-Barratt, Francis|
|Caldwell, James||Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Lough, Thomas|
|Campbell, John (Armagh, S.)||Fuller, J. M. F.||Lundon, W.|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Furness, Sir Christopher||MacDonnell, Dr. Mark A.|
|Causton, Richard Knight||Gilhooly, James||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift|
|Charming, Francis Allston||Gladstone, Rt Hn Herbert John||MacVeagh, Jeremiah|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Goddard, Daniel Ford||M'Crae, George|
|Cogan, Denis J.||Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton||M'Govern, T.|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Hammond, John||M'Kean, John|
|Craig, Robert Hunter||Hardie, J. Keir (Morthyr Tydvil||M'Killop, W. (Sligo, North)|
|Crean, Eugene||Harmsworth, R. Leicester||M'Laren, Charles Benjamin|
|Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen)||Harwood, George||Mansfield, Horace Rendall|
|Delany, William||Hayden, John Patrick||Markham, Arthur Basil|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale-||Mooney, John J.|
|Multon, John Fletcher||Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)||Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr|
|Murphy, John||Pickard, Benjamin||Tomkinson, James|
|Nannetti, Joseph P.||Power, Patrick Joseph||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Newnes, Sir George||Price, Robert John||Wallace, Robert|
|Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)||Priestley, Arthur D.||Walton, John Lawson (Leeds, S.|
|Norman, Henry||Rea, Russell||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Reddy, M.||Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan)|
|Nussey, Thomas Willans||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Weir, James Galloway|
|O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)||Roche, John||Whiteley, George (York. W. R.)|
|O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Roe, Sir Thomas||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|O'Dowd, John||Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford)||Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)|
|(O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel||Wilson, Fred W. (Norfolk. Mid.)|
|O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)||Shipman, Dr. John G.||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)|
|O'Malley, William||Sinclair, John (Forfarshire)||Yoxall, James Henry|
|O'Mara, James||Spencer, Rt Hn C. R. (Northants|
|O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|O'Shee, James John||Sullivan, Donal||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—MR. Warner and Mr. M'Kenna.|
|Palmer, George Wm. (Reading)||Tennant, Harold John|
|Partington, Oswald||Thomas, Alfred (Glamorgan, E.|
|Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir Alex. F.||Cranborne, Viscount||Haslett, Sir James Horner|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Cripps, Charles Alfred||Hay, Hon. Claude George|
|Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel||Cross, Herb. Shepherd (Bolton)||Heath, Arthur Howard (Hanley|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Crossiey, Sir Savile||Helder, Augustus|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Cust, Henry John C.||Henderson, Alexander|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Hermon-Hodge, Robert Trotter|
|Arrol, Sir William||Denny, Colonel||Higginbottom, S. W.|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Dewar, T. R (T'rH'mlets, S. Geo.||Hoare, Sir Samuel|
|Bagot, Capt. Josceline Fitz Roy||Dickinson, Robert Edmond||Hobhouse, Henry (Somerset, E.|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Dickson, Charles Scott||Hope, J. F. (Sheffield, Brightside|
|Bain, Colonel James Robert||Dixon-Hartland, Sir Fr'd Dixon||Hornby, Sir William Hemy|
|Baird, John George Alexander||Dorington, Sir John Edward||Houldasworth, Sir Wm. Henry|
|Baldwin, Alfred||Doughty, George||Hoult, Joseph|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (Manch'r||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Houston, Robert Paterson|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn Gerald W (Leeds||Doxford, Sir William Theodore||Howard, J. (Midd., Tottenham)|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Duke, Henry Edward||Hozier, Hon. James Henry Cecil|
|Barry, Sir Francis T. (Windsor)||Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin||Hudson, George Bickersteth|
|Bartley, George C. T.||Dyke, Rt. H n. Sir William Hart||Jackson, Rt. Hon. Wm. Lawies|
|Bignold, Arthur||Elliot Hon. A. Ralph Douglas||Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick|
|Bigwood, James||Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward||Jessel, Captain Herbert Merton|
|Bill, Charles||Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J (Manc'r||Johnston, William (Belfast)|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Finch, George H.||Kennaway, Rt. Hon. Sir John H.|
|Bond, Edward||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Knowles, Lees|
|Boscawen, Arthur Griffith-||Firbank, Joseph Thomas||Law, Andrew Bonar|
|Bousfield, William Robert||Fisher, William Hayes||Lawrence, Joseph (Monmouth|
|Brotherton, Edward Allen||Fison, Frederick William||Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool)|
|Brymer, William Ernest||Fitzroy, Hon. Edward Algernon||Lawson, John Grant|
|Bull, William James||Flannery, Sir Fortescue||Lee, Arthur H (Hants., Fareham|
|Ballard, Sir Harry||Forster, Henry William||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Calloway, William Johnson||Leveson-Gower, Frederick N. S.|
|Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lanes.)||Gibbs, Hn. A. G. H (City of Lond.||Llewellyn, Evan Henry|
|Cavendish, V. C. W (Derbyshire||Gibbs, Hon. Vicary (St. Albans)||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Godson, Sir Augustus Frederick||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Bristol, S.|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Gordon, Hn. J. E (Elgin & Nairn||Lonsdale, John Brownlee|
|Chamberlain, J. Austen (Worc'r||Gordon, J. (Londonderry, S.)||Lowther, C. (Cumb., Eskdale)|
|Chamberlayne, T (S'thampton)||Gore, Hn G. R. C. Ormsby-(Salop||Lucas, Reginald J. (Portsmouth|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon||Macdona, John dimming|
|Chapman, Edward||Goschen, Hon. George Joachim||MacIver, David (Liverpool)|
|Charrington, Spencer||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Maconochie, A. W.|
|Churchill, Winston Spencer||Greene, W. Raymond-(Cambs.)||M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)|
|Clare, Octavius Leigh||Grenfell, William Henry||M'Calmont, Col. H. L. B (Cambs.|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Guest, Hon. Ivor Churchill||M'Iver, Sir Lewis (Edinburgh W|
|Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Gunter, Sir Robert||M'Killop, James (Stirlingshire)|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Hall, Edward Marshall||Majendie, James A. H.|
|Colomb, Sir John Charles Ready||Halsey, Rt. Hon. Thomas F.||Malcolm, Ian|
|Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole||Hamilton, Rt. Hn Lord G (Midd'x||Maple, Sir John Blundell|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Hanbury, Rt. Hon. Robert Wm.||Maxwell, Rt Hn Sir H. E (Wigt'n|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Harris, Frederick Leverton||Middlemore, Jno. Throgmorton|
|Cox, Irwin Edward Bainbridge||Haslam, Sir Alfred S.||Molesworth, Sir Lewis|
|Montagu, Hon. J. Scott (Hants.)||Remnant, James Farquharson||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Moon, Edward Robert Pacy||Renwick, George||Valentia, Viscount|
|Moore, William (Antrim, N.)||Ridley, Hon. M. W (Stalybridge||Vincent, Cl. Sir C. E. H (Sheffield|
|More, Robt. Jasper (Shropshire)||Ritchie, Rt. H n. Chas. Thomson||Vincent, Sir Edgar (Exeter)|
|Morgan, David J (Walthamst'w||Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield)||Warr, Augustus Frederick|
|Morgan, Hn. Fred (Monm'thsh.||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Morrison, James Archibald||Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye||Webb, Colonel William George|
|Morton, Arthur H. A. (Deptford||Ropner, Colonel Robert||Whiteley, H. (Ashton und, Lyne|
|Mount, William Arthur||Round, James||Williams, Rt Hn J Pow'll-(Birm.|
|Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.||Russell, T. W.||Willox, Sir John Archibald|
|Muntz, Philip A.||Rutherford, John||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E. R.)|
|Murray, Rt Hn. A. Grah'm (Bute||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford-||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)||Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander||Wilson, John (Glasgow)|
|Myers, William Henry||Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh, N.)|
|Nicol, Donal Ninian||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)||Wilson-Todd. Wm. H.(Yorks.)|
|O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens||Seely, Charles Hilton (Lincoln)||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R (Bath)|
|Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay||Sharpe, William Edward T.||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Parker, Gilbert||Smith, Abel H.(Hertford, East)||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Pemberton, John S. G.||Smith, James Parker (Lanarks.)||Wrightson, Sir Thomas|
|Penn, John||Spear, John Ward||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Percy, Earl||Spencer, Sir E. (W. Bromwich)||Wyndham-Quin, Major W. H.|
|Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Stanley, Lord (Lanes.)||Younger, William|
|Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward||Stewart, Sir Mark J. M'Taggart|
|Purvis, Robert||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Handles, John S.||Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.|
|Rasch, Major Frederic Carne||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Reid, James (Greenock)||Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. Murray|
(7.15.) MR. GIBSON BOWLES moved to except from the operation of the subsection—
Government Bills other than Money Bills, which do not then stand committed either to a Committee of the Whole House, to a Grand Committee, or to a Select Committee.
He expressed regret that he had not been able to put this Amendment on the Paper. Its object was clear. The right hon. Gentleman proposed to take after Whitsuntide the whole of the time for Government business, and that was quite reasonable when Government Bills had reached a certain stage. There were certain Bills, however, such as Money Bills and the Appropriation Bills, which came at the end of the session, which ought to be excepted, and the Government had no right to take away from Members of the House the whole of their time for all purposes except for Bills that had arrived at a certain stage. He contended that the Government ought not to have precedence after Whitsuntide for the purpose of introducing fresh legislation without special leave of the House.
In line 9, after the words 'Government Business,' to insert the words 'except Government Bills other than Money Bills, which do not then stand committed either to a Committee of the Whole House, to a Standing Committee, or to a Select Committee.'"—(Mr. Gibson Bowles.)
§ Question proposed. "That those words be there inserted."
§ (7.20.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said that, although the Government was not likely to come down with a vast new programme after Whitsuntide, the House ought not to be absolutely deprived of carrying forward any new legislation which might be agreeable to it. [An HON. MEMBER: The Government.] He said the House, for the contradistinction of House and Government in this connection was illusory. The Government were, after all, the organ of the majority. The Bills proposed in the exceptional case would represent the opinions of the House, and it ought not to be said that to introduce such legislation would be wrong without a special resolution of the House empowering the Government to do so. He hoped his hon. friend would not attempt to raise a barrier against a perfectly imaginary danger. He trusted his hon. friend would not press this Amendment.
MR. JAMES LOWTHER
said he remembered a good many highly controversial Bills brought in well on in July which led to an undue prolongation of the session. It had been said that the surest way of securing a late session was to have rapid progress of Bills in the early part of the session, because this tempted Ministers to bring forward other 1499 measures which otherwise would have remained pigeon-holed. His hon. friend introduced a highly controversial Irish Land Bill one year which made its appearance well on in July, and he made a Motion on the very first night to suspend the twelve o'clock rule in order to hurry it through. He knew the First Lord of the Treasury was reasonably inclined and always endeavoured to meet the feelings of the House and whatever his failings, he had, to do him justice, always set his face against long sessions; but he was not always going to devote the whole of his time to leading the House of Commons.
MR. JAMES LOWTHER
thought they might have Leaders of a very different disposition to the right hon. Gentleman, as they had had before, who might possess an insatiable desire for legislation of that kind, and who did not mind whether they sat the whole year round or not. He thought they ought not to provide any Minister with any proclivity to stifle the rights of private Members of the House of Commons.
§ (7.25.) MR CHANNING
said that ten or eleven years ago he put a Notice on the Paper to the effect that new Bills should not be introduced after a fixed date after the passing of the Technical Instruction Act in 1889. That Bill was introduced in the month of July, at a very late period of the session, when a very large number of hon. Members had left for various parts of the country, and was forced through Parliament, carrying with it as it did the germ of a complete revolution in education, under wholly improper and exceptional circumstances. It seemed to him that the hon. Member for King's Lynn had raised a point of first class importance. It was wholly unreasonable that any Government should take, without exceptional grounds, power to stifle the right of the House to challenge their introduction of controversial and important legislation late in the session. Hon. Members who could recall the prolonged session of 1893–94 would recognise that the danger of which he complained was not altogether to be feared by those who 1500 were sitting on the Opposition side. He should deprecate any Ministry prolonging the session to Michaelmas, which was now the date to which this Rule affecting priority of business would run, for extremely controversial measures which, by means of the majority they might be able to keep together when the rest of the House could not attend, they might be able to pass into law. This power should be limited, and if the Government introduced new legislation at a late period of the session the House should be given the right of fully expressing its opinion, and of challenging the course the Government proposed to take. Such an opportunity would enable independent Members to point out various considerations why any such proposal should be deferred to the succeeding session, which would allow the whole country to discuss the proposals in a reasonable way. Hon. Members must be perfectly aware that no more contentious proposal than the Technical Instruction Act could have been forced through the House in the month of July, and this was a striking illustration of the impropriety of allowing any Government to force through the House of Commons Bills of that kind without giving hon. Members a chance of challenging the right of the Government to introduce such legislation at that time.
§ SIR FRANCIS POWELL (Wigan)
opposed the Amendment, and made special reference to one Bill which was introduced every year, namely, the Expiring Laws Continuation Bill, which was a measure of greatest importance. He certainly felt that the Government were entitled to exercise full liberty upon this matter, for there was hardly a session in which important Departmental Bills had to be introduced at a late period of the session. He therefore hoped that the House would give the Government the power which they now sought to obtain.
§ (7.30.) MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)
supported the Amendment as a reasonable proposition. As the Rule now stood, after Whitsuntide the control of the House would be in the hands of the Government, and the privileges of private 1501 Members would cease. Under those circumstances private Members might not be so regular in their attendances after Whitsuntide as they had been before, and the position would be that on the one side there would be a thin and jaded House, and on the other an omnipotent Government. In the late months of the session, when Members were weary and the attendance small, there was grave danger that a measure brought forward by a powerful Government would be accepted in a hurry, and with less criticism than it ought to receive. If the Amendment of the hon. Member for King's Lynn were accepted, the power of a Government to introduce new legislation after Whitsuntide would not be destroyed because the first words of the Rule governed the whole, "unless the House otherwise direct." The simple effect of the Amendment would be that the Government could not introduce entirely new legislation without first getting permission to do so. Certainly it was but fair that a Government should set forth its legislative programme in the first half of the session. Governments were only human after all, and every Government wanted to get through its business with as little difficulty and discussion as possible, and unless this Amendment was passed the temptation to the Government would be not to introduce measures in the times of difficulty before Whitsuntide, when private Members practically controlled the House, but after Whitsuntide when all the time was their own. It had been suggested that the Government would not introduce great public measures in this way after Whitsuntide, but the House must remember that the great Reform Act, which revolutionised the franchise of this country, was what was known as a ten minutes Bill. And it might be that the Government might be forced by pressure from their own supporters, or even by the Opposition, to bring in a Bill, which they had postponed, after Whitsuntide.
§ MR. SWIFT MACNEILL
said that all the Amendment proposed was that no Bills should be introduced by the Government after Whitsuntide which had not arrived at their Second Reading stage before that date. After Whitsuntide the House grew limp 1502 and sappy, and the proposals of the Government, if carried, would have the effect of making the House a mere office of registration after that date. It was only by putting on Government tellers that the right hon. Gentleman was enabled to carry these Rules. If the ballot was in force in this matter not-one of them would be passed. The right hon. Gentleman was destroying the Parliamentary machine, and making the proceedings of this House a sorry farce.
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON
said it appeared to him that it did not matter one pin's head whether the Amendment was accepted or not, because all Bills which the Government were unable to bring in under Section "D" could be brought in under Section "A." Its acceptance would not inconvenience the Government in any way whatever, while it would probably shorten the debate on the Rule generally.
§ (7.45.) MR. CHARLES HOBHOUSE
pointed out that in 1894 the Chief Secretary for Ireland, at a very late period in the session, introduced an Evicted Tenants Bill. That was a most important Bill, involving a very large principle, and it was thrown out by the House of Lords on the ground that it was introduced so late in the session that it could not be thoroughly considered. Another case was the Tithes Bill, which introduced an entirely novel principle into the incidence of rating. There was also the Land Purchase Act of 1885, a measure the effects of which were very wide-reaching. If the Amendment of the hon. Member for King's Lynn were accepted, Bills of that character could not be introduced so late in the session. It was, therefore, a very important proposal, but the House had had only a few casual words from the First Lord in regard to it. If the Amendment were carried, the session would probably be curtailed. Earlier in the session the Government would make up their minds as to the measures it was worth their while to proceed with; those measures would be carried to Second Reading, and referred either to a Committee of the whole House or to a Select Committee, and they alone would be persevered with. Then later in the 1503 session there would not be the experience of measures mentioned in the King's Speech lying like a nightmare on the minds of the House, and Members would be inclined to deal more seriously with the measures before them, and the business would be expedited.
§ MR. GUEST (Plymouth)
said the hon. Member for Bristol was under a misconception as to the scope and nature of the Amendment. The hon. Gentleman had said that an important principle was involved, and that if carried it would greatly curtail the length of the session. As a matter of fact, so far as he could understand, there was nothing in the Amendment to prevent the Government introducing a Bill either on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday after Whitsuntide without coming to the House, and asking for leave to do so. The scope of the Amendment seemed to be somewhat limited, and to be confined to preventing the Government proceeding [with such Bills as were there described on Fridays only, without first obtaining leave. That could hardly be said to involve any very large or important principle. Moreover, it was clear that if the Government had a sufficient majority after Whitsuntide to introduce a Bill on either of the other days they would also have a sufficient majority to obtain the necessary leave to introduce a Bill on a Friday. It, therefore, seemed to resolve itself into this, that if the Amendment were carried it would merely lead to just that waste of time which it was the object of the Rules to avoid. He, therefore, hoped the right hon. Gentleman would resist the Amendment because it was entirely antagonistic to the whole principle of the new Rules.
§ MR. POWER
said that even the most bitter enemies of the First Lord of the Treasury would acknowledge that he was always anxious that Parliament should not sit late into the year, but that the House should rise in time for Members to enjoy at any rate a part of the summer. Members had to look, however, to the future, when possibly there would be Leaders of the House who were not so strongly animated by that proper spirit, and the Rules should be so framed that 1504 such Leaders were not able to avail themselves of the hard-and-fast provisions now proposed by the Amendment. Bills such as those referred to by the hon. Member for Wigan would be put in no worse position than they now occupied. For his part he objected to the system altogether. Ireland had suffered from it in the past and would perhaps suffer from it in the future. There could not be a healthier Rule than that Bills of first-class importance should be introduced at a time of the year when Members were comparatively fresh, and not at the fag-end of the session, when they were physically incapable of giving proper attention to the details of complicated measures. The Tithes Bill was a case in point. That measure was introduced considerably after Whitsuntide; it was full of contentious matter; and, although it involved very large principles, the House had not a fit opportunity of discussing it. If the Amendment were carried the Government would not be in a bad position, because, if they desired to introduce an important Bill at a late period of the session, they would merely have to ask the opinion of the House, and, if the House were favourable, there would be nothing to prevent the introduction of the measure. The right hon. Gentleman ought to show more confidence in the House; it would then be much easier, both in the present and in the future, to conduct properly the business of the country. As far as the Irish Members were concerned, they were bound to oppose a system under which they suffered such disadvantages, and he should support the Amendment.
§ MR. NUSSEY (Pontefract)
recognised that there was considerable weight in the contention of the hon. Member for Dundee that this Amendment referred only to the introduction of certain public Bills on a particular day, and he suggested that a better way of dealing with the point would be to raise the question again on another sub-clause, so that it would apply to the introduction of all Bills other than money Bills after Whitsuntide. There had been a universal protest against such belated legislation. When an Evicted Tenants Bill was introduced in July, so great was their indignation that certain hon. Gentlemen walked out of the House in a body, and refused to have any part or parcel in the discussion of the measure. It was very strange that those Gentlemen should 1505 now be so anxious to sacrifice their principles in the interests of progress as to he willing to give power to introduce Bills at any time up to Michaelmas in any session. There would come a time when the Party at present in Opposition would be in power, and what would now be open to the present Government to do under these Rules a Liberal Government would then be able to do. When that time came, he could well imagine how Members of the Unionist party would protest against the injustice of being compelled to sit in the House during the sultry dog-days of July and August, or up to Michaelmas, in order to pass measures dealing with ground values, the better housing of the working classes, or even old age pensions. He should have thought
§ that in their own interests they would have been anxious to accept some such Amendment as that now before the House. In the interests of fair and impartial consideration of measures of public importance, and in order to provide against panic legislation of any sort whatever, he urged upon the Government the desirability of accepting the Amendment.
(8.0.) MR. GIBSON BOWLES
asked the permission of the House to withdra his Amendment. [Cries of "No, no."]
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 115; Noes, 195. (Division List No. 98.)1507
|Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.)||Hammond, John||O'Donnell, T. (Kerry. W.)|
|Allan, William (Gateshead)||Harmsworth, R. Leicester||O'Dowd, John|
|Allen, Charles P. (Glouc., Stroud||Harwood, George||O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)|
|Ambrose, Robert||Hayden, John Patrick||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N|
|Austin, Sir John||Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale-||O'Malley, William|
|Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Helme, Norval Watson||O'Mara, James|
|Black, Alexander William||Holland, William Henry||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Blake, Edward||Hope, John Deans (Fife, West)||O'Shee, James John|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Jameson, Major J. Eustace||Partington, Oswald|
|Bowles, T. Gibson (King's Lynn||Jones, D'vid Brynmor (Swansea||Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)|
|Brigg, John||Jordan, Jeremiah||Pickard, Benjamin|
|Broadhurst, Henry||Joyce, Michael||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Burns, John||Kearley, Hudson E.||Rea, Russell|
|Caldwell, James||Kinloch, Sir John George Smyth||Reddy, M.|
|Campbell, John (Armagh, S.)||Lambert, George||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Layland-Barratt, Francis||Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)|
|Causton, Richard Knight||Lough, Thomas||Roche, John|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Lowther, Rt. Hon. James (Kent)||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)|
|Cogan, Denis J.||Lundon, W.||Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford)|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||MacDonnell, Dr. Mark A.||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Crean, Eugene||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Sinclair, John (Forfarshire)|
|Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen)||MaeVeagh, Jeremiah||Spencer, Rt Hn C. R. (Northants|
|Delany, William||M'Govern, T.||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||M'Kean, John||Sullivan, Donal|
|Donelan, Captain A.||M'Killop, W. (Sligo, North)||Thomas, Alfred (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Doogan, P. C.||M'Laren, Charles Benjamin||Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr|
|Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||Mansfield, Horace Rendall||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Duncan, J. Hastings||Markham, Arthur Basil||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Dunn, Sir William||Mooney, John J.||Weir, James Galloway|
|Emmott, Alfred||Murphy, John||White, Luke (York. E. R.)|
|Farquharson, Dr. Robert||Nannetti, Joseph P.||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Fenwiek, Charles||Newnes, Sir George||Whiteley, George (York, W. P.)|
|Ffrench, peter||Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|Flynn, James Christopher||Norman, Henry||Williams, Osmond (Merioneth|
|Fuller, J. M. F.||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)|
|Furness, Sir Christopher||Nussey, Thomas Willans|
|Gilhooly, James||O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES, Mr. Channing and Mr. Charles Hobhouse.|
|Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton||O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)|
|Haldane, Richard Burdon||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir Alex. F.||Arrol, Sir William||Bain, Colonel James Robert|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Baird, John George Alexander|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Bagot, Capt. Josceline FitzRoy||Baldwin, Alfred|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Bailey, James (Walworth)||Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (Manch'r|
|Balfour, Rt Hn Gerald W (Leeds||Gore, Hn G. R. C. Ormsby (Salop||Myers, William Henry|
|Barry, Sir Francis T. (Windsor)||Gorst, Kt. Hon. Sir John Eldon||Nicol, Donald Ninian|
|Bartley, George C. T.||Goschen, Hon. George Joachim||O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens|
|Beckett, Ernest William||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Pemberton, John S. G|
|Bignold, Arthur||Greene, Henry D. (Shrewsbury||Percy, Earl|
|Bigwood, James||Greene, W. Raymond-(Cambs.||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Bill, diaries||Grenfell, William Henry||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Guest, Hon. Ivor Churchill||Purvis, Robert|
|Bond, Edward||Hall, Edward Marshall||Randles, John S.|
|Bousfield, William Robert||Hamilton, Rt Hn Lord G. (Mid'x||Rasch, Major Frederic Carne|
|Brodrick, Kt. Hon. St. John||Hanbury, Rt. Hn. Robert Wm.||Reid, James (Greenock)|
|Brotherton, Edward Allen||Harris, Frederick Leverton||Renwick, George|
|Brymer, William Ernest||Haslam, Sir Alfred S.||Ridley, Hn. M. W. (Stalybridge|
|Bull, William James||Haslett, Sir James Horner||Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson|
|Bullard, Sir Harry||Hay, Hon. Claude George||Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield)|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Heath, Arthur Howard (Hanley||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney|
|Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbyshire||Helder, Augustus||Ropner, Colonel Robert|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles William||Henderson, Alexander||Round, James|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Hermon-Hodge, Robert Trotter||Rutherford, John|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Higgin bottom, S. W.||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford-|
|Chamberlain, J. Austen (Worc'r||Hoare, Sir Samuel||Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander|
|Chamberlayne, T. (S'thampton||Hobhouse, Henry (Somerset, E.||Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert|
|Chapman, Edward||Hope, J. E. (Sheffield, Bri'tside||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.|
|Charrington, Spencer||Hornby, Sir William Henry||Seeley, Charles Hilton (Lincoln|
|Churchill, Winston Spencer||Hoult, Joseph||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Houston, Robert Paterson||Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, East|
|Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Howard, J. (Midd., Tottenham||Smith, James Parker (Lanarks.|
|Collings, Kt. Hon. Jesse||Hudson, George Bickersteth||Spear, John Ward|
|Colomb, Sir John Charles Ready||Jackson, Kt. Hon. Wm. Lawies||Spencer, Sir E. (W. Bromwich|
|Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole||Johnson, William (Belfast)||Stanley, Hn Arthur, (Ormskirk|
|Corbett, A Cameron (Glasgow||Kennaway Rt. Hn. Sir John H.||Stanley, Lord (Lanes.)|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Knowles, Lees||Stewart, Sir Mark J. M'Taggart|
|Cox, Irwin Edward Bainbridge||Law, Andrew Bonar||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Lawrence, Joseph (Monmouth||Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley|
|Cross, Herb. Shepherd (Bolton||Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool)||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Lawson, John Grant||Tomlinson, Wm. Edw. Murray|
|Denny, Colonel||Lee, Arth'r H. (Hants., Fareh'm||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Dewa'r, T. R. (T'rH'mlets, S. Geo||Leveson-Gower, Fredk. N. S.||Valentia, Viscount|
|Dickinson, Robert Edmond||Llewellyn, Evan Henry||Vincent, Sir Edgar (Exeter)|
|Dickson, Charles Scott||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Warr, Augustus Frederick|
|Doughty, George||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Bristol, S.||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Webb, Col. William George|
|Doxford, Sir William Theodore||Lowther, C. (Cumb., Eskdale)||Whiteley, H.(Aston-und-Lyne|
|Duke, Henry Edward||Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Williams, Rt Hn J. Powell (Birm|
|Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin||Lucas, Reginald J. (Portsmouth||Willox, Sir John Archibald|
|Dyke, Rt. Hon. Sir Wm. Hart||Macdona, John Cumming||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E. R.|
|Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas||MacIver, David (Liverpool)||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward||M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Wilson, John (Glasgow)|
|Fergusson, Rt Hn. Sir J. (Manc'r||M'Iver, Sir Lewis (Edinburgh W||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh, N.|
|Finch, George H.||M'Killop, James (Stirlingshire||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath|
|Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Majendie, James A. H.||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Firbank, Joseph Thomas||Molesworth, Sir Lewis||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C B. Stuart-|
|Fisher, William Hayes||Montagu, Hn. J. Scott (Hants.||Wrightson, Sir Thomas|
|Fison, Frederick William||Moore, William (Antrim. N.)||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Fitzroy, Hon. Ed ward Algernon||More, Robt. Jasper (Shropshire)||Wyndham-Quin, Major W. H.|
|Flannery, Sir Fortescue||Morgan, David J. (Walt'mstow||Yerburgh, Robert Armstrong|
|Forster, Henry William||Morgan, Hn. Fred (Mon'mthsh.||Younger, William|
|Galloway, William Johnson||Morrison, James Archibald|
|Gibbs, H'n. A. G. H. (C. of Lond'n||Morton, Arthur H. A. (Deptford|
|Gibbs, Hon. Vicary (St. Albans||Mount, William Arthur|
|Godson, Sir Augustus Freder'k||Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES, Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.|
|Gordon, Hn. J. E. (Elgin & Nairn||Murray, Rt Hn A. Graham (Bute|
|Gordon, J. (Londonderry, S)||Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath|
(8.13.) MR. GIBSON BOWLES
said it was clear that the intention of the Government could not have been to take precedence even after Whitsuntide over Motions for adjournment. As they were now settling precedence by very severe cast-iron Rules he thought it was necessary 1508 to put in this saving clause. He begged to move his Amendment.
After the word "precedence" insert the words "of all business except Motions for the adjournment of the House."—(Mr. Gibson Bowles.)
§ Question proposed. "That those words be there inserted.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
May I ask your ruling on this point? My right hon. friend suggests that a Motion for the adjournment of the House is "business" within the meaning of this Rule, and that therefore we ought to provide for its precedence when the adjournment is moved over all other business at the evening sitting. I venture to submit to you that the universal practice of the House has been that a Motion for adjournment has not been regarded as "business." Quite apart from that argument the Amendment is really wholly unnecessary, and indeed has no meaning.
§ MR. SPEAKER
I think this is perfectly unnecessary, because it would not give precedence to Motions for the adjournment of the House, if there is an Order passed which deals with Motions for adjournment and specifies the time they are to be made. This would be an exceptional clause which could not be acted upon in view of the general Rule.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
May I ask whether my right hon. friend is right in saying that a Motion for adjournment is not business?
§ MR. SPEAKER
I am not proposing to give a precise definition of what comes under "business." But if there is a general Rule that Government business should have precedence, and there is another Standing Order passed by the House which says that at a certain time a certain Motion may be made, that would override any general Rule as to the precedence of Government business.
§ MR. SPEAKER
But there is already a Standing Order which says when a Motion for adjournment may be made, and that would stand although Government business has precedence.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
May I point out that that does not refer to the present Rule, because it states that a Motion for adjournment must follow Questions, and we are now dealing with evening sittings.
§ MR. SPEAKER
At present it appears, that this Rule would not interfere with that Standing Order, but when the House comes to deal with the Rule about Questions there may be something said as to whether Motions for adjournment are to come after Questions or not. At the present moment the Amendment proposed is quite unnecessary, and when any Standing Order is passed which deals with Motions for adjournment it would also be quite unnecessary, for that would override any general Rule as to the precedence of Government business.
§ MR. CHANNING
Sub-section (d) refers to the precedence to be given to Government business at all evening sittings, and at all Friday sittings after Whitsuntide, and if that is passed, it seems to me that Standing Order 17 does not apply.
§ MR. SPEAKER
I say that there is no right of Motion for adjournment except under Standing Order 17. If any new Standing Order is made, or if that Rule is amended so as to give another time for dealing with Motions for adjournment, that will override any general Rule made here.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
I am extremely anxious to know where we are. When this Rule giving precedence to Government business at all evening sittings after Whitsuntide has been passed, it will, nevertheless, be overridden by a specific Rule giving opportunities for Motions for adjournment.
§ MR. SPEAKER
That is so. It has continually been the case that when precedence has been given to Government business at certain times Motions for adjournment may still come on.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
I wish to ask whether the Government will undertake to introduce words which will carry out the view with which you have favoured the House.
§ MR. SPEAKER
It is enough to say, in regard to Motions for adjournment, that when the new Rule is made, it will override the general Rule.
§ The Amendment was ruled out of order. (8.22.)1511
§ (8.55.) MR. JOSEPH A. PEASE (Essex, Saffron Walden)
said that, instead of moving his Amendment exactly as it appeared on the Paper, he proposed merely to omit the following words in sub-section (d)—And at all Friday sittings, except the sitings on the third and fourth Fridays after Whit Sunday.Sub section (a) provided that Government business should have precedence at every sitting except the sitting on Friday, and if the words he proposed to omit were omitted, it would follow that private Members would be left, as heretofore, in possession of a morning sitting on one day in each week. Yesterday the House discussed whether private Members should be deprived of some of their privileges in regard to moving Motions, but he thought it was very much more important that unofficial Members should have the power of moving Bills in regard to various matters which required attention from the Legislature, and that they should not readily forfeit that power. He would give an illustration of what he meant. A session might be summoned towards the end of February, there might be very debatable matter in the King's Speech, and the debate on the Address might extend over three or four weeks, during which period private Members would be deprived of all possibility of using their morning sittings. Then the exigencies of Supply during the following month might be such as to deprive Members of Friday sittings. Easter and Whitsuntide might be early, and after Whitsuntide private Members would only have, at the most, the third and fourth Fridays in which to promote Bills, under the Rule devised by the Government. The First Lord of the Treasury said that his object in proposing the new Rules was to bring the Rules into sympathy with the practice of the House. Up to 1886 private Members had time at their disposal, on certain days of the week, almost to the very end of the session, and it was only in August that the Government ever thought of depriving Members of their privileges with regard to moving Bills. A large number of Bills had from time to time been passed through the House as the result of the action of private Members. A large number of Bills had been carried 1512 in this House, as the result of private Members, on a Wednesday afternoon, and it was well known that the Government often approved of private Members' Bills and desired to see them carried into law. Then why should private Members' privileges be taken away by such a Rule as this? It was true private Members had been deprived of their powers many times, but never at so early a period. In 1899 they were not deprived of their Wednesdays until July 17th, and in 1900 not until July 4th.
§ MR. JOSEPH A. PEASE
could not say what the date was for the moment. In 1901 the private Members were not deprived of their time until July 3rd, but this year they were to be cut out on June 11th or June 18th if this proposal were carried. It made no difference when Whitsuntide fell: his argument was equally forcible. If Whitsuntide fell early, it was all the harder that private Members should be deprived of their privileges; if Whitsuntide fell late, it was to their advantage. But whether it fell early or late, it did not justify the Government depriving them of their privileges without a resolution by the House. When the Leader of the House in the past had proposed to deprive private Members of their Wednesdays, it was not, as had been suggested, followed by a prolonged debate; there never had been a prolonged debate on any such proposals. Occasionally one or two members of the Opposition had made their protest, but in every case prolonged discussion had been absent. In the ordinary period of a Parliamentary session there were from twenty-three to twenty-six Wednesdays. In some years the private Members had as many as fourteen and the Government took eight; in 1893, when the Home Rule Bill was discussed, private Members had seven and the Government took thirty-five. When private Members were to be deprived of their privileges, some case ought to be shown for so depriving them of those privileges which they had had from time immemorial. It had been shown year after year that there was 1513 an increasing desire on the part of Members to ballot for a place on Wednesday to bring in private Bills. It was exceptional in earlier years for a private Member to ballot for a place to introduce a subject in which he was interested, but interest in private legislation was growing because the other privileges of private Members had been taken away. They could only now air their views on a subject upon which they desired legislation by introducing private Bills. Year after year Bills were introduced for the sole purpose of getting the subject matter of the Bill discussed. The present Government was not a permanent institution, and there might be a Government in power more capable than the present, who would manage to economise its time better than the present Government had done up to the present time. If that happened, the Government might be able by its business ability to secure the passage of such measures as it desired to pass into law without having any necessity to take any private Members' time, and in that case it would be deplorable for the Government to have to take time which they did not desire, simply because of the Standing Order. On the other hand, there might come a Government more incapable than the present, a Government which did not want to bring in any legislation; and in that case it would be unnecessary to deprive private Members of their time. It had been the practice from time immemorial for the Government to make a statement of the legislation they proposed, and no case, in his opinion, had been made out for any alteration in the Standing Order as it existed. He would not say, as a supporter of the Government had said, that the First Lord was callous and indifferent to unofficial Members' views, or yet, as another Member had said, showed irresolution, but he thought the First Lord of the Treasury was not upholding the best traditions of the House when he only had regard to the interests of the Ministers of the day, and did not look after the privileges of private Members. He thought it would be a deplorable thing if they were deprived of the powers they now possessed, and it behoved private Members to safeguard the interests of the time still left to the House not yet taken by the Government.
In line 10, to leave out the words 'and at all Friday sittings except the sittings on the third and fourth Fridays after Whit Sunday.'"(Mr. J. A. Pease.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words 'and all at Friday sittings except the sittings on the' stand part of the Question."
§ (9.10.) MR. GALLOWAY
supposed that at some time the House would pass the stage of discussing the privileges of private Members. He regarded this Amendment from an entirely different standpoint from that of the hon. Member who moved it. The hon. Member had said that over a hundred Bills were introdnced every session, and he regarded that as a most excellent crop of legislative efforts, which the Government only prevented becoming law. He trembled to think what the result would be if all these Bills found their way into the Statute-book. In the commencement of his speech the hon. Member had spoken of times when the Address in reply to the King's Speech might take three or four weeks and when the Government might come down after Easter and take the time of private Members for Supply. Unless his recollection failed him, he believed that a fortnight was the extent of time devoted to an Address to the Throne. It certainly never took four weeks. The whole argument of the hon. Member was that he wished the Government, whenever they desired to take the time of the House after Whitsuntide, to come down and ask permission to do so; that they ought not to take the time without showing cause for it. It was to obviate that that this practical Rule was proposed. No useful purpose was served by these discussions. Had anybody ever known an occasion when the Government had been refused these powers?
§ SIR CHARLES DILKE
No but important conditions have been obtained in exchange. Although the Government had the time, they had to bring in certain Bills.
§ MR. GALLOWAY
said that whether that was so or not he did not know, but there was no reason to suppose the Government would not star a Bill because they got the time without 1515 discussion. He hoped the Government would stand fast by the Rule, and not be influenced by the suggestions of hon. Members opposite. The position of private Members under the Rule would be affected by the period of the year in which Whitsuntide fell, but whenever it fell, nobody would suggest that the Bills which had first place on the two Wednesdays immediately preceding Whitsuntide had any chance of passing into law during the session. He had no desire to see ill-considered legislation pass through this House, but of all legislation, that which was likely to be most mischievous was the legislation of private Members, and there ore he hoped the Government would resist the Amendment.
§ MR. CHANNING
said that as the hon. Member who had just spoken only entered the House in 1895, he had not been placed in the unhappy position of sitting in opposition to the Government, and therefore hardly realised what it was to be disarmed and defenceless. It was not only necessary and des rable in the session of 1896 for the House to have a discussion with regard to giving up the private Members time to the Government, but he remembered that it was necessary to move the adjournment of the House in order to call attention to the incompetence of the Government to deal with the business of the session. The hon. Member appeared to think that a Government with a vast majority behind it would be happy to star every private Bill presented to it. The hon. Member's argument was that the Government, without agitation from any section of the House, was perfectly certain to star all measures which it was desired should pass. He differed from the hon. Gentleman. He thought these discussions were of considerable value. It was useless to contend that proposals of private Members were not of value, and that their measures were not repeatedly being passed into law. One of his most vivid recollections when he first entered the House was the great number of Bills passed last year by the hon. Member for South Islington. He thought this Amendment was a wise one, and he hoped the House would fight for it to the last 1516 The word private Member was a perfect I misnomer. The general body of the House was comprised of individual Members, but each individual Member represented in his own person the great body politic, which sent them all to the House. They were the voice of public opinion in their constituencies, and taking them altogether they were the collective voice of the community, expressing itself in favour of reform in the direction which it desired. He sincerely hoped his hon. friend would press this matter to the division.
§ (9.30.) MR. FLYNN
said the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down very properly said that the term "private Member" was a misnomer. If that was so, then the manner in which it had been used in the debate was a still greater misnomer. At present unofficial Members came together to consider measures in which they were largely interested, and they brought forward Bills which were backed by large sections of the House on both sides. That system had grown into favour very much, and the measures of private Members were not mere fads. The proposal of the Government would deprive the individual private Member of this right. If they studied these Rules they would be led to think that there had been a sort of super I natural inspiration about them, and hon. Members opposite seemed to think it was a kind of religious function on their part to support the Ministry in this matter. He did not know anything more remarkable in their procedure than the course he had alluded to. The generality of private Members wills represented the mature deliberation and opinion of very considerable sections in the House upon both sides, and he thought the First Lord of the Treasury ought to pay some attention to the Amendment before the House, and make some concession with regard to it. What the value of this so-called free day at the end of the week was to be he could not for the life of him see. He thought this ought to be made a Sessional Order.
(9.35.) MR. A. J. BALFOUE
said he hoped this debate would not be prolonged. He perfectly understood that in formulating their Rules, provision should be made to make it part of their settled practice to restrict the amount of time given to private Members after Whitsuntide. When they came to that point he was 1517 quite prepared to argue it, but the Amendment now before them went far beyond that, and far beyond what this House deliberately had shown itself over and over again anxious to accord. It was perfectly well known that for many years past the number of Wednesdays given to private Members' Bills after Whitsuntide had been limited, sometimes to three, but more commonly to two. It had never, within his Parliamentary experience, been the practice to give all Wednesdays after Whitsuntide to private Members' Bills, and the Standing Orders passed by Mr. Smith showed that that never was the intention of the Government. At least, that was his view. The right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean had quoted the recommendation of the Committee of 1878 which suggested that all Wednesdays after Whitsuntide should be left to private Members' Bills. There had, however, been a great change since then. The whole circumstances of the House had been altered since then by the establishment of the Closure Rules, and by the practice, initiated by Mr. Speaker Peel, that after four hours debate every private Bill passed its Second Reading. That was never thought of in 1878, and there was no method in operation then in the power of the majority to prevent that being carried out. It was evident that they could not legislate on private Members' Bill procedure under present circumstances. The whole of the circumstances of the House had been altered by the establishment of the Closure Rules and by the practice which had now become embodied in the general procedure of the House that, unless very exceptional circumstances occurred, closure was granted at the end of a complete afternoon's debate on a private Member's Bill. That altered the circumstances, and therefore he refused to accept the decision arrived at by the Committee of 1878 as carrying with it any useful lessons at the present time. It seemed to him, therefore, that when revising their Rules they should make their theory correspond with their practice. He suggested that the present discussion would be more appropriate on some other Amendment. He based his case upon the practice which all Governments, from whatever side of the House, 1518 had taken with regard to Wednesdays after Whitsuntide. Those Wednesdays in the whole of his Parliamentary experience had never been given to private Members, as was now proposed in the Amendment of his hon. friend.
§ (9.40.) MR. CHAPLIN
said he understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that never within his Parliamentary experience had all the Wednesdays after Whitsuntide been taken up by private Members.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said he had stated nothing like that. What he said was that this Amendment gave, prima facie at all events, to private Members every Wednesday after Whitsuntide. That had never been the custom of this House since either his right hon friend or himself had been a Member of it.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said that was what he was trying to say. Every Government, from whatever side of the House, whether his right hon. friend had been a Member of it or not, had taken away Wednesdays from private Members and that being so when they were revising their Rules they ought to make their practice correspond with their theory. This was a Rule which had been broken every year certainly for thirty or forty years without a single exception. Under those circumstances he ventured to suggest to the House that the proper occasion to discuss this question was not the present moment, because this Amendment gave every Wednesday and more Wednesdays than the Government were disposed to accord.
§ SIR CHARLES DILKE
said the recommendation of the Committee of 1878 was not adopted in the House itself until long after closure was adopted by the House, so that the right hon. Gentleman's argument on that head fell to the ground. The right hon. Gentleman spoke as though this practice of giving only two or three Wednesdays after Whitsuntide was a long-standing practice, but if he would look back he 1519 would find that for many years before he became Leader in 1895 there was only one occasion when five or six Wednesdays were not granted. It would be found that before the time when the right hon. Gentleman led the House five or six Wednesdays were always given after Whitsuntide to private Members' Bills, and that was the old practice. Therefore this argument which had been addressed to the House by the right hon. Gentleman ought not to have any weight. The Standing Committees were reduced to an absurdity by the present system. It had happened year after year for the last three or four rears that the Standing Committees, which were composed of hon. Members of great ability and experience, had given an enormous amount of labour to the slavish work of the House for which they got no sort of reward. They performed weighty work, and those hon. Members were expected to go upstairs and begin work upon Bills which might pass their Second Beading at a time when the first two Wednesdays after Whitsuntide were occupied by Bills which were certain to take up those two Wednesdays. That had been the case year after year. The Standing Committee on Law had before it last year no less than eight Bills at a time, when it was impossible that any of those Bills could have a chance of passing. That reduced the work of the Standing Committee to an absurdity, and it placed the Members of the Committee in the position that they had either to deal with those Bills carelessly, although they might come up again in future years, or else waste an enormous amount of time in considering them. The limitation proposed now was a hard-and-fast cast-iron limitation. The right hon. Gentleman said the Amendment went too far, but it left the House to decide by a majority. The House had that small remnant of its former power in its hands, and he greatly preferred this elasticity to the Rule, even if they were to be cut down to two Wednesdays.
§ (9.46.) MR. CHAPLIN
said the Leader of the House had appealed to hon. Members opposite not to prolong the discussion on this Amendment. The main ground on which he, made the appeal was that there was another Amendment to which the discussion would be more suited, and that all he was doing was to bring the Standing Orders into accordance with 1520 the practice which had prevailed in the House for years past. He differed altogether from his right hon. friend, both as to the character of his proposal and also as to the facts. The practice of taking all but two private Members' days after Whitsuntide was a new and a bad custom, which had been carried out mainly on the bad example and initiative of the right hon. Gentleman himself. The right hon. Gentleman said that since the year 1878 there had been a great change in the procedure of the House, because under Mr. Speaker Peel the closure was always given to private Bills on Wednesday afternoon. As the hon. Baronet had pointed out, that was not altogether correct; but if it were correct, his answer was that if that practice prevailed in those days there was no practice in 1878 of seeking to take all private Members' Wednesdays after Whitsuntide. He was sure his right hon. friend would not deny that. It had been said that when these Motions were made, these Wednesdays were always taken. The majorities of his right hon. friend had enabled him to do this, but not very often without giving a quid pro quo, owing to the pressure which Members interested in particular Bills could bring to bear. Unless the House supported the Amendment, that power would be taken away from them for ever, and it would be absolutely impossible for any contentious Bill in the hands of a private Member to go further that session.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
said the hon. Member for Manchester cheered that. There were two private Bills of immense interest to the country last session which bore on this point. One was the Children's Bill, which was carried by the largest majority he remembered. His hon. friend, unless he was much maligned, was one of the most active in endeavouring to prevent the passing of the Bill.
§ MR. GALLOWAY indicated dissent.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
stated that he only said, "unless his hon. friend was much maligned." The hon. Member had now confessed that he availed himself of the opportunity of prolonging the discussion of 1521 the first Bill in order to defeat the second. He earnestly appealed to the House to assist him in the endeavour he should make to preserve the little which remained of the rights and privileges of private Members. If the Rules were passed in their present shape, no Bill in the hands of a private Member, if opposed, however good, and however large the majority by which it was supported, would ever have the slightest chance after its Second Reading of passing into law in future. He admitted that some private Members' Bills were objectionable, but on the other hand it could not be denied that many most excellent measures which had been introduced by private Members had passed into law, and among them had been measures dealing with agricultural questions, in which he had always taken, and would continue to take, a special interest, in spite of all opposition on the part of the Government or anybody else. Some people would say that the Government might be left to deal with agricultural questions, but how many measures of substantial importance and advantage to the agricultural interests had been introduced and carried by any Government during the last thirty years? He declared that, with the exception of the Agricultural Rating Bill, for which he was himself responsible—
§ MR. SPEAKER
These references to the course of legislation for the agricultural class are somewhat out of order on this Amendment.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
said he simply made that statement in illustration of a previous assertion. It was difficult to call to mind any measure substantially affecting those interests which had boon introduced by Governments on either side for many years, and, therefore, the representatives of agriculturists had to look to private Members. Several of them had led him to under stand that had they been aware of what was going on on Tuesday night last, and of the way in which their interests had been affected, they would have given a very different vote than they had given that day. Now, this was the last opportunity they would have of pre serving any of the rights of private Members to make further progress with their Bills. If they neglected it, he 1522 could not imagine a greater disappointment than would be felt by agriculturists throughout the country when they knew that, in consequence of the passing of this new Rule, there would be an end to all possibility of passing measures in which they were interested. Those Regulations proposed by his right hon. friend were really calculated to stifle discussion. If the new Rules would stop obstruction and improve the position of the House in the eyes of the country, he, for one, would make great sacrifices to see them carried; but he was not prepared to make sacrifices for the new Regulations, which avowedly would not stop obstruction. While on this point, he must say that on the rights of private members there appeared to him to have been a great change in the minds of members of the Cabinet within the last few months. There were some striking contrasts between the speeches of different Ministers, He would not repeat the quotations he had made once before, although no mention of them had appeared in any Reports. But the public were ignorant of the fact that those new Rules were not brought forward for the purpose of stopping obstruction. That was stated by the First Lord of the Treasury, although it was in direct contradiction to a speech made by his right hon. friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies. He wished, however, to refer to a statement made by another Minister which bore directly on the question of the rights and privileges of private Members. The President of the Local Government Board, speaking on the 17th October on the question of procedure, made this statement—The present Rules do not in any way stop obstruction or unnecessary speech-making It was the duty of the Government so to deal with the Rules as to put an end to the present, disgraceful state of things and the waste of the time of the House. The object also of the Government would be to strengthen and improve the position of private Members.Strengthen and improve the position of private Members! How and in what way was that to be done? That process was to be carried out in four different; ways—first, by taking away the private Members' Tuesdays after Easter; 1523 second, by taking away private Members' Wednesdays after Whitsuntide; third, by taking Friday mornings after Whitsuntide with the exception of two; and fourth, by relegating, so far as he could understand from what he had heard, private Bill legislation to the Fridays which private Members would have at their disposal, and this is how it is proposed to strengthen and improve the position of private Members That might be right, or it might be wrong. He held his opinion, and the Government were entitled to hold theirs; but as far as the position of private Members was concerned, the effect of the new Rules would be to deliberately reduce private Members to the position, of mere ciphers, and nothing else. In his opinion, it would have been more honest on the part of the Government, and far more merciful to private Members, if the Government were to put private Members out of their misery at once. The right hon. Gentleman should make another addition to these Rules, providing that no private Members should be allowed to introduce a Bill or make a Motion of any description. That was the position to which private Members were rapidly approaching, and when the public realised what, the House of Commons was doing—when the great interests of the country, which would be affected by these Rules, and especially the agricultural interests, which would be more seriously affected than any other—when they realised what would be the effect of these proposals of His Majesty's Government, he, for one, should not envy the reception the Government were I kely to meet with at their hands when next they appealed to the country.
§ (10.8.) MR. BLAKE
said that the Leader of the House must see that when be alleged that the Amendment was practically not a debatable matter, and that the House should at once proceed to division, the statement was a little too broad. The appeal of the right hon. Gentleman had been followed by two very remarkable deliverances from opposite quarters—first, that of the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean, who had demolished the right hon. Gentleman's facts, and 1524 pointed out that the practice of appropriating private Members' time by the Government was not so old and venerable as the First Lord of the Treasury alleged. Up to the time the right hon. Gentleman began to lead the House, with an overwhelming majority, it seemed that, with only one exception, six Wednesdays were allowed to private Members after Whitsuntide, and that his own evil practice for the last few years, which had been allowed by a weak Opposition, was the only consecration of the plan which the right hon. Gentleman now proposed to the House, to abandon once for all these private Members' rights. The speech of the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean was followed by one from a right hon. Gentleman who had had a vast and varied experience of the House, and who had looked, all his life through, at political affairs from a diametrically opposite point of view from that of the right hon. Member for the Forest of Dean. The right hon. Member for Sleaford had had the very great advantage of looking, in this mature political period of his life, at the working of political affairs both from the inside and the outside of the Cabinet. He now occupied the freedom and independence of the position of a private Member, and the House generally rejoiced to witness the ardour and zeal that night displayed by the right hon. Gentleman for the rights of private Members. After two such weighty judgments delivered by the two previous speakers, it must be plain to the Government that there must be something serious in the Amendment. He thought there was a great deal in it, and that it was utterly repugnant to the duty of the House to part, as a House, with its power over so large a proportion of its time as the First Lord of the Treasury proposed by this new Rule. He believed that the present system had considerable advantages. He averred that it was an admirable security that the Government should have to apply to the House to take private Members' time. That kept the Government to their work, because, first of all, they had to satisfy the House that their proposal was necessary, and next, they had to undergo criticism as to why it was necessary. It was no small circumstance that it gave to the House an opportunity, not merely of a review of the way in 1525 which the Government had conducted I their business, but also of the condition of the business in the hands of private Members. It likewise afforded to the country an opportunity of considering what would result from the carrying out of the Motion proposed by the Government. The hon. Member for Manchester, who opposed the Amendment, said that the Government would be just as ready to star Bills after this as before. Nothing of the sort. The Government were much more likely to do the opposite, for their timidity was excessive. That was a ease in which it was not the tyranny of a majority over a minority; it was not even the tyranny of a respectable minority overbearing the majority. It was the tyranny exercised over the whole House by one or two cranks or faddists who had the gift of the gab, and who would thus be able at that stage of the session to persuade the Government that a measure was controversial, and the Government would then say that in face of the opposition of C or D, although they would be glad if the measure were passed, they could not star it. The reason was that there was a frantic apprehension of the loss of an hour or two at that period of the session. That was the difficulty. Private Members ought, however, to preserve the leverage they now had, so as to overcome that craven apprehension, which would prevent their measures getting starred at all. If private Members lost their leverage, their measures would not be starred. The House was largely divided into two sections with reference to the general features of the new Rules. They had been discussing a good deal the weekend feature, and many hon. Members—those whom he would call the working Members—were very anxious that the present meagre facilities in the hinds of official Members should not be diminished further. They had been most seriously diminished already by the change from Wednesday to Friday, but they wanted even the inferior day left to them until good cause was shown why they should be deprived of it. That was one side of the question. He would appeal to the other side, to the hon. Members whom his hon. friend the Member for South Donegal called the week-enders. He would ask them to 1526 consider the danger they were exposing themselves to if they did not support the Amendment. What would happen? The facility to absent themselves from Thursday night to Monday afternoon would be gone inevitably. By their own act they would lose the week-end for the remainder of the session, because once Government business came on, public duty, Party fealty, and the lash of the Whips would oblige them to attend. Therefore, alike from the point of view of those who were not afraid of such slow progress as legislation in the hands of unofficial Members could make, and from the point of view of the convenience of other hon. Members themselves, including the inestimable convenience of being absent, he thought the Motion ought to be accepted.
§ (10.18.) MR. HENRY HOBHOUSE
said that he supported the Government generally with reference to their proposals, but he felt they had now reached a point at which it was necessary for anyone who believed in the advantage of private Members' legislation to make a protest, if they desired to see any private Member's Bill which might meet with a certain amount of opposition passed. It was practically fatal to give only two Fridays after Whitsuntide for that purpose. It would be impossible for a Bill to which there was any opposition to get through all its stages in two days. They might have a Bill which had passed its Second Reading by a majority of two-thirds or even more. It would then be considered upstairs without much trouble to the Government, but with a great deal of trouble to the private Members interested in it it would then come back to the House and be treated in the well-known manner. First there would be a long debate on the Motion that the Bill be now considered. Then a number of Amendments would be moved by hon. Members who perhaps had a rooted objection to the measure, and a single Bill might occupy the entire of the two Fridays. When private Members were asked at the beginning of the session to ballot for fifty or a hundred Bills with only the chance of a single Bill getting through it was merely reducing private 1527 Members' legislation to a farce. The First Lord of the Treasury might think it improper that a Bill of first rate importance in the hands of a private member should have the closure applied to it at the end of four or five hours discussion, but the great majority of private Members' Bills were not of that description, and might be disposed of after three or four hours discussion. He attached considerable importance to private Members' legislation on the ground that there was a class of subjects not merely or principally agricultural subjects which were more likely to pass in the hands of a private Member than in the hands of the Government. He meant social measures of various kinds, temperance measures, and measures affecting the sex which was not represented in the House, and to whose interests, for that reason, they ought to have special regard. Many measures affecting women had been passed in former days under more favourable circumstances by private Members who were not likely to have been taken up by any Government. Governments are not formed to introduce measures of that description, and as a rule Ministers differed widely regarding them. If legislation on these subjects was to be passed in future a door should be left open to private Members. Were private Members to have the chance of legislating at all? [An HON. MEMBER: No.] That was the opinion apparently of certain hon. Members in this House; but were they to have a Rule laid down that in future no measure should be passed by a private Member. They all knew that a private Member had no opportunity after midnight. There was no proposal in the Government scheme to make it possible to advance a private Members' measure after twelve o'clock, although it might be opposed by only one Member. That, he thought, was a grave omission. He believed that private Members should not be discouraged from passing legislation. If they were, men who wished to make themselves useful in that respect would not remain in the House. He had been in the House for seventeen years, and he could vouch, from his own experience, that life on the back Benches was becoming more and more uninteresting to private Members. One of the chief reasons of that was that 1528 door after door to usefulness had been shut against the private Member. He hoped his light hon. friend would at the eleventh hour make soma concession. If not, private Members might give up once for all all hope of being able to pass effective legislation, because the proposal before the House, if carried, would make anything of the kind practically impossible.
§ (10.27.) MR. LAMBERT (Devonshire, South Molton)
said he was sure that the First Lord of the Treasury must have been impressed by the very weighty speeches which had been addressed to him by his own supporters, who could not in any way be said to be engaged in obstructing the business of the House. The hon. Gentleman who had just sat down was one of the most experienced Members in the House. He did not frequently intervene in debate, but he asked the right hon. Gentleman in tones of calm consideration to reconsider his proposal. He hoped sincerely that that appeal would not fall on deaf ears. They had now an opportunity of making their last protest. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to think that private Members were in the House merely to fulfil the behests of the Government; that they had only to support or oppose legislation, and ought not to have any opportunity of initiating legislation themselves. He protested most strongly against the idea that 650 hon. Members were in the House of Commons merely to obey the twenty wise and eminent Gentlemen on the Treasury Bench. He did not understand why hon. Members opposite should wish to deprive private Members of then-rights. Many of them had told him that if the House of Commons were shut up for ten years it would be very much to the benefit of the country. Why then did they not vote for the Amendment, so that the Government should not have so much time to pass legislation which they thought was pernicious for the country. He maintained that the House was in a much better position to decide on private Members' lulls than on Government Hills. On Government Bills it was practically a question of confidence as to whether a particular Amendment should be accepted or objected; but on private Members' Bills, Members did not vote on political grounds, but on the merits of the question. That appeared 1529 to him to be a reason why private I Members should be allowed to conduct legislation with some chance of success. The right hon. Gentleman had stated there was no selection with regard to private Members' Bills. That was so, but it was one of the defects of the present Rules that no improvement was made in that respect. The Rules, cast-iron as they were, would undoubtedly encourage obstruction. The hon. Member for South-West Manchester had admitted opposing a Bill, not because he objected to the merits of that particular proposal, but in order to obstruct a Bill standing next on the Paper.
§ MR. GALLOWAY
said the hon. Member was entirely misrepresenting him. He challenged the statement that he opposed the Bill at all.
§ MR. LAMBERT
said in that ease the hon. Member was a better Parliamentarian than he had given him credit for. Then he remembered an occasion on which the right hon. Gentleman it he Member for Thanet came down to the House, and appeared to be intensely interested in the Verminous Persons Bill. The discussion on that measure occupied about three hours on a Wednesday afternoon. But no interest was really taken in that measure; the debate was carried on merely for the purpose of obstructing the Bill next on the Paper. It was not consistent with the dignity of the House that Bills should be hung up year after year. Certain measures—such as the Deceased Wife's Sister Bill—came up for discussion in session after session, but the majority of the House had no chance of placing the proposals on the Statute-book, merely because the Government were divided on the matter. In the interests of the dignity and credit of the House, he appealed to the right hon. Gentleman to allow such Bills to be pronounced upon decisively, instead of being kept back year after year by the purely obstructive tactics of loitering in the lobbies, and delivering speeches having no practical bearing on the question at issue. Moreover, as had been stated, by this Rule the work of the Standing Committees would be turned into a mere farce, so far as private Members' 1530 Bills were concerned. He therefore hoped the right hon. Gentleman would reconsider his position, and give some elasticity to the proposal, so that the private Member should not become a mere nonentity in the House.
§ (10.34.) MR. RICHARDS (Finsbury, E.)
desired to support the proposal of the Government, and to protest against the attack made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Sleaford division. It seemed that the House was to be asked to stop all its deliberations because of certain grievances connected with agriculture which were alleged to have appeared on the scene since the right hon. Gentleman left the Treasury Bench. If there were any agricultural grievances unredressed, it was the fault of the right hon. Gentleman himself, who, for so many years, while in the Government, had agriculture under his charge. The Government had already done as much as they ought to do for distressed agriculture. ["Too much."] Perhaps they had done too much. Certainly, as a borough Member, he thought they had done a great deal, and they had not been unmindful of the right hon. Gentleman; amongst distressed agriculturists he had not been forgotten. A large number of Members representing urban constituencies were not likely to oppose the Government because of the fear that the claims of agriculture would not in future be able to monopolise Friday afternoons. He should certainly support the Government in curtailing, if necessary, the nights given to private Members at an advanced stage of the session. The statement of the hon. Member with regard to the work of Standing Committees was at variance with his experience. He had always found that when a Bill had passed through a Standing Committee there was very little difficulty in getting it through the remaining stages before the close of the session. As to the Verminous Persons Bill, the Gentleman who led the Opposition on that historic occasion was the hon. Member for East Northamptonshire. It was therefore unfair to suggest that the opposition came from the Unionist side of the House. It had also been said that there were Members on that side who believed too much legislation was passed. Some of His Majesty's Judges were certainly of that opinion. Over and over again he had heard a judge say 1531 that if Parliament would pass fewer measures and allow them time to study the statutes already on the book, the judges would be able to administer the law with greater satisfaction to the liege subjects of the Crown. He could not understand the remarks of the hon. Member who spoke of the miserable position of those Members who sat on the back Benches. That was a position which all who sat on those Benches felt. But they could not all sit on the Treasury Bench. A selection must be made either by family or by merit—principally, he believed, by merit. To base an appeal on the ground that Members on the back Benches found the proceedings very dull did not give it much weight. There were many other attractions in the House than sittings in the House itself. If Members found the House dull they could go to the library and other places, and there find greater information than could be obtained from many speeches. If the House were really in earnest in the desire to reform its procedure, it ought to support the Government in this matter.
§ (10.40.) SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
said they had had a, long discussion, turning mainly on the merits or demerits of private Members' legislation, and on the question of whether it was in the interests of the House and of the country that private Members' Bills should be encouraged or discouraged. On that point he entertained no very strong view. He had never been a partisan of the extreme rights sometimes urged by private Members, but, at the same time, the House should not forget the large number not only of useful, but of really memorable and conspicuous measures that had been passed within the last twenty or thirty years by Members of Parliament having no official position, sometimes even in the teeth of the opposition, or, at all events, notwithstanding the tacit opposition of the Government of the day. But the question before them really came to this—Whether, if the proposals of the Government as they stood were accepted, it was any use going on with the form of enabling private Members to introduce Bills at all. They had all seen of late years the lamentable results of the 1532 most persevering attempts on the part of Members to carry Bills which had commanded the assent and sympathy of the great majority of the House. He did not take controversial measures, Bills which excited strong feeling on one side or the other; he took the measures which, in the opinion of the great majority of the House, were undoubtedly calculated to do good, and which yet, with the best will in the world, it was quite impossible for the House, under existing Rules, to carry through the necessary stages. If they were to confine private Members to the limited opportunities, it was proposed to give to them under this Rule, he thought they had almost reduced to a farce the whole process of private Members' legislation. On that ground he should support the Amendment of his hon. friend. The Leader of the House and others had spoken as if this was some wonderful concession which was to be made to private Members, and which would pass beyond the power of the House once it was conceded. But that was not the proposal at all. All that was done in this Amendment was to reserve to the House the power of determining, on each occasion that the Government required more time than they had at the earlier part of the session, how much time should be allowed to private Members for their Bills. That went to the root of the question. It seemed to him that they were conducting a controversy which went very much deeper than this question of private Members' Bills. The controversy between the advocates and the critics of the Government proposal was who was to be the master of the House of Commons. Was it to be the House itself, or was it to be the Executive Government? That was what it came to. The right hon. Gentleman said he was merely proposing an arrangement which had existed in past years. Yes, but it had existed with the connivance, and on the express authority, and by the will of the House of Commons itself. The whole point lay in that. If they accepted the proposal of the Government as it now stood they would part with the control in this matter, and they would hand themselves over to the right hon. Gentleman and his successors 1533 without any power or expressing a voice in the matter. There was a great difference. Suppose a Member of the House was in a position of parental authority, with a son of an age when he ought to have a certain amount of liberty. He might give that son a latchkey for some special occasion when he could give good reason for requiring it, or he might give the son a latchkey and let him do as he liked with it. The proposal of the Government was to give them the latchkey of the time of the House, to give them the control of all the time after Whitsuntide. He preferred very much the old-fashioned way that the Government should come forward and make their claim. No Government had ever found the House of Commons unreasonable in that matter, and they generally had got what they had asked for. They had often had to accept what they had asked for on terms, but that maintained the control of the House of Commons over its own time and the disposal of that time, and that, he thought, was the principle they ought to assert.
(10.48.) MR. GIBSON BOWLES
said this debate had produced the usual one defender of the Government, and, as usual, the one defender came from the Inns of Court—the little legal ewe iamb which lay in the bosom of the Government, but did not as yet drink from its cup. The hon. and learned Gentleman was pleased to endeavour to make sport of the speech of his right hon. friend the Member for the Sleaford Division. ["No."] In so doing the hon. Gentleman did not show a proper appreciation of speeches. He had rarely heard so good a speech. In point of argument, of order, of delivery, and of feeling, it ought to have convinced every Member of the House in favour of voting, as he intended to vote, for the Amendment, and which, if it did not convince the Government, might have given them cause to ask themselves whether they did not regret the absence of the right hon. Gentleman from the Front Bench, and that he did not occupy some such post as that of President of the Board of Trade in the present Administration. The First Lord of the Treasury always 1534 told the House that these Rules were an attempt on the part of the Government to crystallise, as it were, the real practice of the House; and he pointed out with perfect truth that the practice of the House had so far departed from the Standing Orders that the Standing Orders had become a mockery and a delusion. But these Rules did not stereotype the practice of the House; what was contained in the Rules had never been the practice of the House. It was an entirely new proposal. It was a proposal unknown in the history of the House that all days after Whitsuntide should be taken by the Government in advance without any case being made, without any appeal, without leave of the House. That was where the right hon. Gentleman's analogy failed. It was true that every Government had taken the days after Whitsuntide, but they had always come to the House and asked for permission. [An HON. MEMBER: It is not true at all.] He was assuming for the purpose of the argument that every statement that came from the Front Bench was true. ["Divide."] These cries of "Divide" came from the bon. Members who wished to attend the House three days a week, from men like the noble Lord the Member for the Chorley Division, who were bored with the House and wished to escape from it. [Cries of "Order."] He could well understand that these hon. Members were prepared to follow the Government. [Renewed cries of "Order"] When the First Lord of the Treasury stated that every Government had always taken Wednesdays after Whitsuntide, the right hon. Gentleman stated what he (the hon. Member) believed to be true—for the purpose of his argument. But it was also true that the Government up to this time had always been compelled to come specially to the House and ask for permission, and to show a good case for taking those days. This fact took the comparison out of the category of the proposed Rules, which said that nothing of the kind should be done; and therefore, when the right hon. Gentleman used the analogy of the previous practice of the House, it was of no use to him in the discussion. When the hon. Member for Manchester said that no good result arose from the discussions which took 1535 place on these occasions, all he could say was that some of the best speeches he had heard in the House were then delivered. Then the right hon. Gentleman said that, while it was a proper subject of debate whether or not all Fridays after Whitsuntide should be taken by the Government, the proper Amendment on which to debate the point was one lower down on the Paper, in which fewer Wednesdays were proposed to be taken. But the right hon. Gentleman did not hold out any hope of a modification, and therefore there was no reason why the discussion should be held over. The Rules throughout, and especially this particular Rule, amounted to this: "We, the Government, know everything; nobody else knows anything. We are entitled to initiate everything that is initiated in the House; nobody else is entitled to initiate any Motion, Bill, or anything else. If we cannot pass a Bill, nobody else shall." This question had been raised as a fleeting the rights of private Members. But it was more than that. Those who were resisting the Rules were not fighting for the rights of private Members, nor for the fortunes of private Members' Bills. They were fighting for the very existence of the House. ["No."] That, and no less, was involved in the Rules, and what they had to decide upon was whether all intiative was to be taken from everyone except those in receipt of a public salary. If he did not feel so strongly as he did that the existence of the House was involved in the passage of these Rules, he should not have taken the active part he had taken, and which he should take to the end, in opposing them. He was fighting the battle of the unofficial Members of Parliament, who were the true representatives of the Commons of England; he was fighting the battle of the House—["Oh, oh!"]—not of a family or of sacerdotal cliques; and for the sake of the future of the House he would support the Amendment.
§ (10.59.) MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
said that up to the present they had had just one speech of any importance in favour of the proposal of the Government, and that was the speech of the First Lord of the Treasury. It 1536 appeared to him that anything that strangled private legislation was welcomed by the hon. Member for Manchester. With the exception of the perfunctory speech of the First Lord of the Treasury, all the speeches on this Amendment had been in opposition to the Government. This discussion would never have occupied such a length of time if the House had not thought that there was a very important issue underlying the Amendment. He wished to traverse the facts of the First Lord of the Treasury, who had made the statement that he was now only putting into the form of a Standing Order the time-honoured and invariable practice of the House. That statement was not true, for the hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean had pledged himself to the fact that up to the year 1885 it was quite common for four, five, or six Wednesdays to be given to private Members after Whitsuntide. Therefore it was rather cool for the right hon. Gentleman to put forward this proposal as the time-honoured practice of the House. The right hon. Gentleman was not at all justified in saying that this had been the practice of the House, but even if that statement was well founded it did not justify this Rule, for it ignored the fundamental issue that the House always did this of its own motion and not on the initiative of the Government. The First Lord of the Treasury said that the more opportune time to discuss this point would be later on, but it would be a fundamental error to substitute two, three, four, or even six Fridays for the present Rule, which placed the whole question at the disposal of the House. He regarded elasticity as the fundamental basis of such a Rule, but this proposal would paralyse efficiency. The point was that when the House I gave up the days of private Members to the Government, it gave them up of its own motion and not on compulsion. The Rule as it stood would be the death-knell of all private Members' legislation. The amendments in the Married Women's Property Law were passed, not on the initiative of any Government, but on that of private Members. When a private Member's Bill had passed the Second Reading by an overwhelming majority of the House, and had gone through the Committee stage, one day after Whitsuntide 1537 was sufficient for the discussion of that Bill on the report stage. A measure might have nearly the whole of the Members of the House, in its favour, and yet be killed by a small and unscrupulous minority. The Government only gave two days, but if they gave a certain definite length of time within which the life or death of a Bill was confined, they at once gave an irresistible temptation and an omnipotent power to the smallest section of opponents or obstructionists to destroy a measure. Some hon. Members had suggested three days instead of two, but he preferred one day, provided that the power was left to the House to give another day if it so pleased. Supposing a Bill like the Midwives Bill came before the House. If a small number of hon. Members were determined to kill the Bill, what would they do? Under the proposal of the Government they would have only two days, but that would enable a small number of opponents to occupy all the time that was left. It only needed four or five hours of Parliamentary time to be consumed in order to destroy a Bill. Private Bills supported by an overwhelming majority had quite as much right to protection as Government measures, but how were they going to protect such private Bills with only one day?
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
said that as a rule private Bills which came up after Whitsuntide had gone through the First and Second Beading and through the Grand Committee, and only the Report stage was left. If a Bill had stood that test, he thought that was a very strong reason why it should be accepted by the House, and one sitting ought to be quite sufficient to deal with the Report stage. Under the proposed Rule, the smallest minority of hon. Members, with the obstructive resources of hon. Gentlemen sitting on the opposite side of the House, would be sufficient to prevent such a measure passing into law. The only way to protect a private Bill was to let those who were opposing and obstructing it know that the House still had the right to defeat their obstruction by giving it another day. If it was known that only 1538 four or five hours debate would be sufficient to destroy a Bill, then it would be within the power of three or four hon. Members to destroy it. On the other hand, if the House retained the right of saying that it was determined that the will of the overwhelming majority of hon. Members should be respected, they would be able to deal with the small and unscrupulous Parliamentary minority, which would be rendered impotent for destroying the Bill.
§ (11.15.) SIR J. FERGUSSON (Manchester, N. E.)
said that the hon Member opposite had stated his argument with reason and moderation. He wished he could say that all the speeches made in support of the present Amendment had been of exactly the same character. His hon. friend who sat below had, not for the first or second time, thought it his duty to find fault with the proposals of the Government, and so popular and respected a Member of the House as his right hon. friend the Member for Sleaford had, on many occasions, and particularly in regard to these Resolutions, given the impression that he thought everything the Government did, now that he had left it, was not deserving of support.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
Will the right hon. Gentleman kindly state a single instance, with the exception of these Resolutions, which I have always maintained to be of a non-party character, in which he has found me opposing the Government? ["Hear, hear," and cries of "Withdraw."]
§ SIR J. FERGUSSON
said his impression certainly was that the right hon. Gentleman had been a severe critic of the Government; but if he had overstated the case he was very sorry. He thought they should look on these proposals in a broad spirit. They ought to recognise that there had been increasing difficulty of late years in passing important measures for which the country was anxious, owing to the length of their debates, and he thought the House should support the Government in taking such time as would enable them to carry their business through. He would not accuse anyone of prolonging these discussions in 1539 order to put off any important measures, but he would point out to his friends that that must be, the result. He would put it to his hon. friends that they ought to abstain, as far as possible, from criticising these proposals. Be was sure that the desire of his hon. friends was that the Government should get on with their work, and carry it through with success.
§ (11.20.) MR. BROADHURST
said that it was rather unusual for so many weighty appeals to be made to the Government without eliciting a reply. Those appeals were entitled to greater consideration than they had received from the Treasury Bench up to the present moment. They were fighting a very serious matter. They were fighting for the free expression of the voice of the people in this House. The hon. and learned Member for East Finsbury had attempted to reduce this great and important matter to the level of circus fun. That was bringing the House of Commons into disgrace and disrepute. He sincerely regretted that a man of his learning and position should have attempted to lower their debates and to bring discredit on the House, as he did by the speech he made. Why this attack upon the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Sleaford? Simply because he was using the knowledge he had acquired during nearly forty years experience of public life for the interest of the country and for the benefit of private Members. That was sufficient to bring down on his head the blind followers of the Government who were passing these Resolutions. He could enumerate many great measures that had benefited the country which had sprung front the action taken by private Members. He instanced the Redistribution Bill of 1884, and there were others which, owing to the industry of private Members, had given the people the liberties, they now enjoyed. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for North-East Manchester had spoken of the important Government measures for the passing of which the country was waiting. What had been the experience of the country during the last eight or ten years of the Tory Government? Their experience had been that they 1540 were measures paying off election debt—measures for class interests to please their supporters in the country.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The political merits of Government measures have nothing to do with the question before the House.
§ MR. BROADHURST
said he should not have been reduced into discussing I this phase of the question had it not been for the references made by several speakers on the other side to the great importance of, and the universal desire for, the measures the Government were now wishing to pass. He could under I stand that the Leader of the House got thoroughly tired and irritated by the debates on the new Rules, but there were hon. Gentlemen to his right and I left who could reply to the Leader of the Opposition, and others who had appealed to him to give consideration to the rights of private Members. Including the time Members were occupied on Grand Committees, their Parliamentary work sometimes involved sittings of fourteen and sixteen hours a day. Were these efforts of physical endurance to be utterly thrown away in future through the curtailment of the opportunities for passing the Bills which they had discussed? If that were to be the case, the Government could tell at the beginning of a session how many days the Grand Committees on Law and Trade were to be utterly futile and useless to the country. He trusted the Government I would listen to the universal appeal from both sides of the House, and give some hope of a rescue from the utter ruin of private Members' time which would ensue if the Rule was passed in its present form. He should certainly vote for the Amendment.
§ (11.31.) MR. GEORGE WHITELEY (Yorkshire, W.R., Pudsey)
said that he did not think any apology was necessary for a private Member prolonging the debate for a few minutes, because if they did not enter their protest now, they might for ever hold their peace. He thought that the House was indebted to the right hon. Member for Sleaford, and the hon. Member for East Somerset, for the eloquent protests which they had made on behalf of the rights of private Members. He could not agree, however, with the right 1541 hon. Member for Sleaford in his judgment that if the Rule were passed the rights of agricultural Members would be seriously interfered with. Was it too much to ask that out of forty-eight hours of Parliamentary time per week, six should be left to private Members in which to press their Bills and their Resolutions? In his humble judgment, indeed, that was too small a time. It was all very well to say that those Resolutions and Bills were atrocities, but they could not forget that debates initiated by private Members had had great educational results, and that legislation founded upon these discussions had been of the utmost value. If this Resolution were passed in the form proposed by the Leader of the House, private Members would be useless, and the necessary corollary would be that after Whitsuntide all the Members on the Government side would be able to vote by proxy, that those proxies would be issued by the Government Whips, and that their attendance would be unnecessary. As he looked down the Treasury Bench he saw many hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who had utilised the rights of private Members to secure the positions they now occupied, but who were now doing their best to knock away I the ladder by which they had climbed to their present position. Singly and collectively, he disliked the Rules submitted by the First Lord of the Treasury. He regarded them as wrong, useless, and iniquitous; although in one sense he regarded them with a kind of sneaking feeling of favour. He believed that the Ministers of the Conservative Government were forging a weapon which they, on that side of the House, would use against them without scruple in the future. The Conservative Party did not want legislation; they were quite con tent with administration. It was the Liberal party which had always been desirous to secure far-reaching measures, and he looked forward to the time when they would be able to utilise this monoply of the time of Parliament, given by a Conservative Government, to cram down their throats measures which, in their judgment, were exceedingly doubtful. He would press upon the supporters of the Government that in passing this Resolution they were doing themselves as individuals, and as non-official Members of the House, a serious injustice; jeopardising their rights in the future, and 1542 placing their claims for Parliamentary time wantonly in the hands of the Government. He asked the Government at the eleventh hour to reconsider this matter, and give their own supporters some loophole by which they could escape from such a disastrous position.
§ (11.42.) MAJOR JAMESON (Clare, W.)
said he had no desire to detain the House, but there were a few arguments in favour of the Amendment which had not been put forward in the course of the debate. It had been stated by the hon. Member for Finsbury that private Members' discussions were dull, but they were not so dull as a great many speeches delivered from the Front Treasury Bench. He would like to recall to the Members of the House the number of Wednesdays taken by the Government from private Members. In 1890 no Wednesdays were taken until 19th July, in 1900 till 4th July, in 1901 till 3rd July, and in 1902 from the 5th of May, except two. The root of the evil was that the Government took up the whole time of the House, and refused devolution of Irish business to an Irish Party Assembly. He hoped the few words he had addressed to the House might influence hon. Members who had not made up their minds on Party lines, and he thought that if the First Lord of the Treasury had made some small concessions and displayed a better spirit he would have got more business through than he had.
§ MR. REGINALD LUCAS (Portsmouth)
said that the hon. Member who had just sat down referred to the fact that in 1890 the time of private Members was not interfered with until the 17th of July. That was an act of grace to the credit of the Unionist Government of that day, but if the hon. Members looked at the figures for 1893 and 1894, when a Liberal Government was in office, he would find that only seven or eight Wednesdays were allowed to private Members. It seemed to him, whether the Rule was passed or not, the Government would take the time of the House for their measures, irrespective of the wishes or desires of private Members, and he for one would have no hesitation in supporting the Government on the present occasion.
§ (11.46.) Question put.1544
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 203; Noes, 139. (Division List No. 99.)1545
|Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir Alex. F.||Gardner, Ernest||Morton, Arthur H. A. (Deptfond|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Garfit, William||Mount, William Arthur|
|Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel||Gibbs, Hn. A. G. H (City of Lord.||Mowbray, Sir Robert Cray C.|
|Alison, Sir William Reynell||Gibbs, Hon. Vicary (St. Albans)||Muntz, Philip A.|
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Godson, Sir August us Frederick||Murray, Rt Hn A Graham (Bute|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Gordon, Hn. J. E. (Elgin & Nairn||Murray, Charles J. (Coventry.)|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Gordon, J. (Londonderry, S.)||Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath|
|Arrol, Sir William||Gore, Hn. G R C Ormsby-(Salop||Myers, William Henry|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Gorst, Rt. Hn. Sir John Eldon||Nicol, Donald Ninian|
|Bagot, Capt. Josceline Fitzroy||Goschen, Hon. George Joachim||O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens|
|Bain, Colonel James Robert||Green, Walford D. (Wednesbr'y||Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay|
|Baldwin, Alfred||Greene, W. Raymond-(Cambs.)||Percy, Earl|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manch'r||Guest, Hon. Ivor Churchill||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn Gerald W (Leeds||Hall, Edward Marshall||Purvis, Robert|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Halsey, Rt. Hon. Thomas F.||Randles, John S.|
|Barry, Sir Francis T. (Windsor||Hamilton, Rt Hn Lord G (Midd'x||Rasch, Major Frederick Carne|
|Beckett, Ernest William||Hanbury, Rt. Hn. Robert Wm.||Ratcliff, R. F.|
|Bignold, Arthur||Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashfo'd||Rattigan, Sir William Henry|
|Bigwood, James||Hare, Thomas Leigh||Reid, James (Greenock.)|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Harris, Frederick Leverton||Remnant, lames Farquharson|
|Bond, Edward||Haslett, Sir James Homer||Renwick, George|
|Boscawen, Arthur Griffith-||Heath, Arthur Howard (Hanley||Richards, Henry Charles|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Henderson, Alexander||Ridley, Hn. M. W. (Stalybridge|
|Brotherton, Edward Allen||Higginbottom, S. W.||Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson|
|Brymer, William Ernest||Hoare, Sir Samuel||Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield)|
|Bull, William James||Hope, J. F. (Sheffield, Brightside||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney.)|
|Carson, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward H.||Hoult, Joseph||Ropner, Colonel Robert|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Houston, Robert Paterson||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbyshire||Jeffreys, Arthur Frederick||Rutherford, John|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor.)||Jesses, Captain Herbert Merton||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford-|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Johnston, William (Belfast.)||Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander|
|Chamberlain, J. Austen (Worc'r||Kennaway, Rt. Hn. Sir John H.||Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert|
|Chapman, Edward||Keswick, William||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Charrington, Spencer||Knowles, Lees||Seeley, Charles Hilton (Lincoln|
|Churchill, Winston Spencer||Law, Andrew Bonar||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Clare, Octavius Leigh||Lawrence, Joseph (Monmouth)||Smith, Abel H. Hertford, East)|
|Coghill, Douglas Harry||Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool)||Smith, James Parker (Lanarks.|
|Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Lawson, John Grant||Spear, John Ward|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Lee, Arthur H. (Hants, Fareham||Stanley, Hn. Arthur (Ormskirk|
|Colomb, Sir John Charles Ready||Lees, Sir Elliot (Birkenhead.)||Stanley, Lord (Lanes.)|
|Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole||Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage||Stewart, Sir Mark J. M'Taggart|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North.)||Leveson-Gower, Frederick N. S||Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley|
|Cox, Irwin Edward Bainbridge||Llewellyn, Evan Henry||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester.)|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Cripps, Charles Alfred||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Bristol, S||Tollemache, Henry James|
|Cross, Herb. Shepherd (Bolton.||Lonsdale John Brownlee||Tomlinson, Wm Edw. Murray|
|Crossley, Sir Savile||Lowther, C. (Cumb., Eskdale)||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Valentia, Viscount|
|Dewar, T. R. (T'rH'mlets S. Geo.||Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowstoft)||Vincent, Sir Edgar (Exeter).|
|Dickson, Charles Scott||Lucas, Reginald J. (Portsmouth||Wason, John Carhcart (Orkney|
|Dixon-Hartland, Sir Fr'd Dixon||Macdona, John Cumming||Webb, Colonel William George|
|Doughty, George||MacIver, David (Liverpool.)||Welby, Lt,-Col. ACE (Taunton|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Maconochie, A. W.||Whiteley, H. (Ashtonund, Lyne|
|Duke, Henry Edward||M'Calmont, Col. H. L. B (Cambs||Willox, Sir John Archibald|
|Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin||M'Iver, Sir Lewis (Edinburgh W||Wilson, A. Stanley (York E. R.|
|Dyke, Rt. Hn. Sir William Hart||M'Killop, James (Stirlingshire||Wilson, John (Falkirk.)|
|Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas||Majendie, James A. H.||Wilson John (Glasgow.)|
|Fellowes, Hn. Ailwyn Edward||Malcolm, Ian||Wilson-Todd, Wm. H. (Yorks.)|
|Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J (Manc'r||Martin, Richard Biddulph||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath|
|Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||Middlemore, John Throgmort'n||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Finch, George H.||Molesworth, Sir Lewis||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Montagu, Hn. J. Scott (Hants)||Wrightson, Sir Thomas|
|Fisher, William Hayes||Moon, Edward Robert Pacy||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Fison, Frederick William||Moore, William (Antrim, N.)||Yerburgh, Robert Armstrong|
|Fitzroy, Hon. Ed ward Algernon||More, Robert Jasper (Shr'pshire|
|Flannery, Sir Fortescue||Morgan, David J. (Walth'mst'w||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Sir William walrond and Mr. Anstruther.|
|Forster, Henry William||Morgan, Hn. Fred.(Monm'thsh|
|Galloway, William Johnson||Morrison, James Archibald|
|Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.||Hammond, John||O'Malley, William|
|Allan, William (Gateshead.)||Harwood, George||O'Mara, James|
|Allen, Charles P (Glouc., Stroud||Hay, Hon. Claude George||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Ambrose, Robert||Hayden, John Patrick||O'Shee, James John|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale-||Palmer, George Wm. (Reading|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Hayter, Rt. Hn. Sir Arthur D.||Partington, Oswald|
|Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Helme, Norval Watson||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire.)||Hobhouse, C. E. H. (Bristol, E.||Price, Robert John|
|Black, Alexander William||Holland, William Henry||Priestley, Arthur|
|Blake, Edward||Hope, John Deans (Fife, West||Rea, Russell|
|Bowles, T. Gibson (King'sLynn||Jameson, Major J. Eustace||Reddy, M.|
|Brigg, John||Jones, David Brynmor (Swansea||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Broadhurst, Henry||Jordon, Jeremiah||Rickett, J. Compton|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Joyce, Michael||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)|
|Burdett-Coutts, W.||Kearley, Hudson E.||Roche, John|
|Caldwell, James||Kinloch, Sir John George Smyth||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Campbell, James (Armagh, S.)||Lambert, George||Round, James|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Layland-Barratt, Francis||Russell, T. W.|
|Causton, Richard Knight||Leigh, Sir Joseph||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel.)|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Lough, Thomas||Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford)|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Lundon, W.||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Cogan, Denis J.||MacDonnell, Dr. Mark A.||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Sinclair, John (Forfarshire.)|
|Crean, Eugene||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Spencer, Rt. Hn. C R (Northants|
|Cremer, William Randall||M'Arthur, William (Cornwall.||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen)||M'Crae, George||Sullivan, Donal|
|Delany, William||M'Govern, T.||Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||M'Kean, John||Thomas, F. Freeman-(Hastings|
|Donelan, Captain A.||M'Kenna, Reginald||Thompson, F. W. (York. W. R.)|
|Doogan, P. C||M'Killop, W. (Sligo, North.)||Tomkinson, James|
|Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark.)||M'Laren, Charles Benjamin||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Duncan, J. Hastings||Mansfield, Horace Rendall||Wallace, Robert|
|Edwards, Frank||Markham, Arthur Basil||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Elibank, Master of||Mooney, John J.||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Ellis, John Edward||Morton, Edw. J. C. (Devonport||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Emmott, Alfred||Moulton, John Fletcher||Whiteley, George (York. W. R.|
|Fenwick, Charles||Murphy, John||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|Ffrench, Peter||Nannetti, Joseph P.||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Flynn, James Christopher||Newnes, Sir George||Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)|
|Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)||Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South.)||Wilson, Fred W. (Norfolk Mid)|
|Fuller, J. M. F.||Norman, Henry||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)|
|Gilhooly, James||Nussey, Thomas Willans||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh, N.)|
|Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert John||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny.)|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)|
|Gore, Hn. S. F. Ormsby (Lincs.)||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. Joseph A. Pease and Mr. Henry Hobhouse.|
|Goulding, Edward Alfred||O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)|
|Gray, Ernest (West Ham.)||O'Dowd, John|
|Gordon, Sir W. Brampton||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.|
§ Main question again proposed.
§ Debate arising.1546
§ Debate adjourned till tomorrow.
§ Adjourned at five minutes after Twelve o'clock.