§ Motion made and Question proposed,
§ "As soon as the Committee of Supply has been appointed and Esimates have been presented, the business of Supply shall, until disposed of, be the first order of the day on Thursday, unless the House otherwise order on the Motion of a Minister of the Crown, moved at the commencement of public business, to be decided without Amendment or Debate.
§ "Not more than twenty days, being days before the 5th of August, shall be allotted for the consideration of the annual Estimates for the Army, Navy, and Civil Services, including Votes on Account. The days allotted shall not 72 include any day on which the Question has to be put that the Speaker do leave the Chair, or any day on which the business of Supply does not stand as first Order.
§ "Provided that the days occupied by the consideration of Estimates supplementary to those of a previous session or of any Vote of Credit, or of Votes for Supplementary or Additional Estimates presented by the Government for War Expenditure, shall not be included in the computation of the twenty days aforesaid.
§ "Provided also that on Motion made after Notice by a Minister of the Crown, to be decided without Amendment or Debate, additional time, not exceeding three days, may be allotted for the purposes aforesaid, either before or after the 5th of August.
§ "On a day so allotted, no business other than business of Supply shall, except on the last two of the allotted days, be taken before midnight unless it is unopposed, and no business in Committee or proceedings on Report of Supply shall be taken after midnight, whether a general Order for; the suspension of the Twelve o'clock Rule is in force or not, unless the House otherwise order on the Motion of a Minister of the Crown, moved at the commencement of Public Business, to be decided without Amendment or Debate.
§ "Of the days so allotted, not more than one day in Committee shall be allotted to any Vote on Account, and not more than one Sitting to the Report of that Vote. At midnight on the close of the day on which the Committee on that Vote is taken, and at the close of the Sitting on which the Report of that Vote is taken, the Chairman of Committees or the Speaker, as the case may be, shall forthwith put every Question necessary to dispose of the Vote or the Report.
§ "At Ten of the clock on the last day but one of the days so allotted, the Chairman shall forthwith put every Question necessary to dispose of the Vote then under consideration, and shall then forthwith 73 put the Question with respect to each class of the Civil Service Estimates that the total amount of the Votes outstanding in that class be granted for the services defined in the class, and shall in like manner put severally the Questions that the total amounts of the Votes outstanding in the Estimates for the Navy, the Army, and the Revenue Departments be granted for the services defined in those Estimates.
§ "At Ten of the clock on the last allotted day, the Speaker shall forthwith put every question necessary to dispose of the report of the Resolution then under consideration, and shall then forthwith put, with respect to each class of the Civil Service Estimates, the Question: That the House doth agree with the Committee in all the outstanding Resolutions reported in respect of that class, and shall then put a like Question with respect to all the Resolutions outstanding in the Estimates for the Navy, the Army, the Revenue Departments, and other outstanding Resolutions severally.
§ "On the days appointed for concluding the business of Supply, the consideration of that business shall not be anticipated by a Motion of Adjournment, and no dilatory Motion shall be moved on proceedings for that business.
§ "Any additional Estimate for any new service or matter not included in the original Estimates for the year, shall be submitted for consideration in the Committee of Supply on some day not later than two days before the Committee is closed.
§ "For the purposes of this Order, two Fridays shall be deemed equivalent to a single day of two Sittings."—(Mr. A. J. Balfour.)
§ (8.7.) MR. WHITLEY (Halifax)
moved an Amendment on the first paragraph of the proposed Standing Order substituting "Monday" for "Thursday" as the day on which Supply should be taken. By putting Supply at the end of the week instead of at the beginning, the Government were contributing to the leisure of those hon. Members who were disposed to be satisfied with three days attendance in the week to their Parliamentary duties, and in fact it would lead to what people in the North of England would call Parliamentary half-timers. The examination of Supply was one of the most important duties of 74 Parliament, and he contended that it ought not to be relegated to the end of the week in the way proposed. He should have preferred Tuesday or Wednesday for the consideration of Supply, but these days had already been allocated for other purposes, and Monday was the only other day available. He admitted that Monday was open to some extent to the same objection as Thursday, but it would have the great advantage of putting Supply in the first place at the beginning of the week, thus giving far greater importance to the work than if it was left to Thursday, which, as many hon. Members had said, would be treated as an additional half day. The First Lord of the Treasury about a year ago said that there was no longer in this House any party of economy.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR indicated dissent.
§ MR. WHITLEY
said that was his recollection. That was largely due to the way in which the Estimates had come to be considered. The large bulk of Members felt that when the Estimates were being considered they could go away and enjoy themselves elsewhere. Anything they could do to increase the attendance of Members when the Estimates were being discussed would be for the good of the House and the country. Those who criticised the financial proposals of the Government were called unpatriotic, for they objected to large expenditure, and they were called niggardly if they objected to small items of expenditure. He was persuaded that if the Estimates were discussed on Thursday, as proposed by this Rule, at least half the Members would not be in attendance.
In line 3, to leave out the word 'Thursday,' and insert the word 'Monday.' "—(Mr. Whitley.)
§ Question proposed, "That the word 'Thursday' stand part of the Question."
§ (8.12.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said the hon. Member had almost entirely put his Amendment on the ground that as the result of the change he proposed Members 75 would be more ready to attend to their duties on Monday than on Thursday. He could understand the hon. Member's point of view more clearly if he had proposed Tuesday or Wednesday as the day on which Supply should be taken. But Monday was even worse for the purposes of the hon. Member's argument than the Government proposal of Thursday. Thursday came in the middle of the week, while Monday came at the beginning and immediately after what would become the Parliamentary holiday. The inevitable result would be that, if, as the hon. Member suggested, hon. Members would be slack in their attendance on Thursday, they would clearly not be in their places until Tuesday, and therefore the object which the hon. Member sought to attain would be defeated by the Amendment. He hoped that under the circumstances the hon. Member would see the propriety of not pressing the Amendment, as nothing could be gained by the change proposed. (8.15.)
§ (8.51.) MR. O'MARA (Kilkenny, S.)
said he regretted he could not agree with the reasons given by the First Lord of the Admiralty for not accepting the Amendment now before the House.
Attention called to the fact that forty Members were not present. House counted, and forty Members being found present—
§ MR. O'MARA
said he thought that the right hon. Gentleman was a little hasty in rejecting the Amendment, and could not quite have understood the grounds upon which it was moved. The hon. Gentleman who moved the Amendment laid great stress upon the fact that he considered Thursday was given to Supply in order to facilitate the arrangements of Members who wished to get away at the week end; that they would look upon Friday as a slack day, and therefore be able to leave on the Thursday night. The First Lord of the Treasury had a perfect answer to the Amendment substituting Monday for Thursday fur Supply, because, Monday being the first day of the week, hon. Members would remain away, and their holiday would be just as long; but the right hon. Gentleman must be aware that the House could not 76 approach the consideration of Supply with the same amount of efficiency on a Thursday, after three long nights, as they could upon a Monday. Human nature was the same all the world over, and it would be impossible for the House to approach Supply with any efficiency on Thursday, after being in attendance in the House up till midnight on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. The inclination of the House would be not to approach matters of Supply with the energy which was necessary in the ordinary course; but when, later in the session, the Twelve o'clock Rule was suspended, the position would become simply intolerable, and the business of voting the supplies would become an absolute farce. The country could be very well run upon the legislation already passed, if it were only properly administered; it was the process of raising the revenue which required the energy of the House. Each Member desired money to be spent on matters in which he was interested—some desired it spent on education, some upon the Army and the Navy.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
Order, order! The Question is whether the House shall take Supply on Monday or Thursday.
§ MR. O'MARA
said he was only trying to illustrate the importance of Supply, and the advantage of dealing with it when Members were fresh from the week end holiday, rather than on Thursday, when they were jaded. In his opinion, the particular Rule they were discussing was part of a well-defined policy for giving Members of the House an extra holiday. It was a curious fact that those who were out of the House desired to get in, and those who were in always desired to get away as often as possible; and the result of this Rule, if it passed, would be that they would get away on Wednesday night. He hoped the Amendment would be pressed to a division, in which case it would have his hearty support.
§ MR. SPEAR (Devonshire, Tavistock)
said his constituents were anxious for a more speedy and expeditious dealing with the business of the House, and 77 the alterations in the Rules which the Government had submitted to the House were for that purpose. To those alterations he gave his most hearty support, the more so as he noticed that those who, by their prolonged speeches, last session obstructed and prevented legislation, were on this occasion against the alterations in the Rules. It was most important that the finances of the great spending Departments of this country should be submitted to close examination. During the early days of Supply last session,
§ considerable discussion was given to unimportant Votes, with the result that to wards the end of the session large sums had to be voted without any discussion, whatever. It was because he believed that the right hon. Gentleman desired to secure for Supply more business-like and adequate discussion, that he gave his thorough support to the proposal before the House.
§ (9.5.) Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 137; Noes, 93. (Division List No. 105.)79
|Ackland-Hood, Capt, Sir Alex F.||Forster, Henry William||Moore, William (Antrim, N.)|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Fuller, J. M. F.||More, Robert. Jasper (Shropshire)|
|Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel||Gardner, Ernest||Morgan, David. J. (Walthamstow|
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Garfit, William||Morrison, James Archibald|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Gibbs, Hn. A. G. H. (Cityof Lond.||Morton, Arthur H. A. (Deptford|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Gibbs, Hon. Vicary (St. Albans)||Mowbray, Sir Robt. Gray, C.|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Godson, Sir Augutusus Frederick||Murray, Rt Hn A. Graham (Bute|
|Bagot, Capt. Josceline Fitzroy||Gordon, Hn. J. E. (Elgin&Nairn||Nicol, Donald Ninian|
|Bain, Colonel James Robert||Gordon, J. (Londonderry, S.)||Palmer, Walter (Salisbury)|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manch'r||Gore, Hn. G. R. C. Ormsby-(Salop||Parker, Gilbert|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn Gerald W. (Leeds||Gore, Hn. S. F. Ormsby (Line)||Percy, Earl|
|Barry, Sir Francis T. (Windsor)||Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon;||Platt-Higgins, Frederick|
|Bartley, George C. T.||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward|
|Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benjamin||Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Purvis, Robert|
|Bhownaggree, Sir M. M.||Green, Walford D. (Wednesbury||Randles, John S.|
|Bignold, Arthur||Greene, W. Raymond (Cambs.)||Rasch, Major Frederick Carne|
|Bill, Charles||Hamilton, Rt Hn Lord G (Midd'x||Ratcliff, R. F.|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Harris, Frederick Leverton||Reid, James (Greenock.)|
|Bond, Edward||Haslett, Sir James Horner||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Bowles, T. Gibson (King's Lynn)||Heath, Arthur Howard (Hanley||Renwick, George|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Holder, Augustus||Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas, Thompson|
|Brookfield, Colonel Montagu||Henderson, Alexander||Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield)|
|Brotherton, Edward Allen||Hermon-Hodge, Robert Trotter||Ropner, Colonel Robert|
|Bull, William James||Hogg, Lindsay||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford-|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Hope, J. F. (Sheffield, Brightside||Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander|
|Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbyshire||Houldsworth, Sir Wm. Henry||Sandys, Lieut.-Col. Thos. Myles|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles William||Houston, Robert Paterson||Seely, Maj, J. E. B. (Isle of Wight|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich.)||Hudson, George Bickersteth||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Chamberlain, J. Austen (Worc'r||Johnston, William (Belfast)||Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, East)|
|Chapman, Edward||Law, Andrew Bonar||Smith, James Parker (Lanarkes)|
|Charrington, Spencer||Lawson, John Grant||Spear, John Ward|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Stanley, Lord (Lanes.)|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Stewart, Sir Mark J. M'Taggart|
|Cross, Herb. Shepherd (Bolton)||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Bristol, S.||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Denny, Colonel||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Dewar, T. R. (T'r H'mlets, S. Geo.||Lowe, Francis William||Valentia, Viscount|
|Dickson, Charles Scott||Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Vincent, Sir Edgar (Exeter)|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin||Lucas, Reginald (Portsmouth)||Webb, Colonel William George|
|Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas||Macdona, John dimming||Willox, Sir John Archibald|
|Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward||M'Iver, Sir Lewis (Edinburgh W||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath|
|Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||M'Killop, James (Stirlingshire)||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Finch, George H.||Majendie, James A. H.||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Malcolm, Ian|
|Fisher, William Hayes||Middlemore, John Throgmorton||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.|
|FitzGerald, Sir Robt. Penrose H||Mildmay, Francis Bingham|
|Flower, Ernest||Mitchell, William|
|Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.||Atherley-Jones, L.||Bell, Richard|
|Allan, William (Gateshead)||Austin, Sir John||Black, Alexander William|
|Allen, Charles P. (Glouc., Stroud)||Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Blake, Edward|
|Brigg, John||Layland-Barratt, Francis||Partington, Oswald|
|Caldwell, James||Lloyd-George, David||Pickard, Benjamin|
|Campbell, John (Armagh, S.)||Lough, Thomas||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Causton, Richard Knight||Lundon, W.||Rea, Russell|
|Channing, Francis Allston||MacDonnell, Dr. Mark A.||Reddy, M.|
|Cogan, Denis J.||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Redmond, John E. (Waterford|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Reid, Sir R. Threshie (Dumfries)|
|Crean, Eugene||M'Crae, George||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)|
|Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen)||M'Govern, T.||Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)|
|Delany, William||M'Kean, John||Roche, John|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Mansfield, Horace Rendall||Schwann, Charles, E.|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Markham, Arthur Basil||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Doogan, P. C.||Mooney, John J.||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Duke, Henry Edward||Murphy, John||Sinclair, John (Forfarshire)|
|Farquharson, Dr. Robert||Nannetti, Joseph P.||Stevenson, Francis S.|
|Fenwick, Charles||Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South.)||Sullivan, Donal|
|Ffrench, Peter||Norman, Henry||Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr)|
|Flynn, James Christopher||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Wallace, Robert|
|Furness, Sir Christopher||O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)||Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan|
|Gilhooly, James||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Weir, James Galloway|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||O'Brion, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Hammond, John||O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Harmsworth, R. Leicester||O'Dowd, John||Woodhouse, Sir. J. T. (Hud'ersf'd|
|Hayden, John Patrick||O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)|
|Hope, John Deans (Fife, West)||O'Keily James (Roscommon. N.|
|Jameson, Major J. Eustace||O'Malley, William||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. Broadhurst and Mr. Whitley.|
|Jordan, Jeremiah||O'Mara, James|
|Joyce, Michael||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Kinloch, Sir John George Smyth||O'Shee, James John|
§ (9.15.) MR. O'SHEE (Waterford, W.)
said his desire was that at the most important period of the session, when the Government were anxious to get through their business with dispatch, Friday should not be a dies non for a good many hon. Members. His object was to enable the Government to induce a number of hon. Members who otherwise would go away on their holidays to stay in London and attend to the business of the country which arose in Committee of Supply. It ought to be the desire of the Government to do their business thoroughly and efficiently, and no more important business was transacted in the House than the business of Supply. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would consider that his request that hon. Members should be asked to attend on Fridays was a reasonable one. He begged to move.
In line 3, after the word 'Thursday,' to insert the words 'except after Whitsuntide until Michaelmas, when it shall be first Order of the Day on all Friday sittings except the sittings on the third and fourth Fridays after Whit Sunday.'"—(Mr. O'Shee.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted"80
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I am not quite sure as to what the object of this Amendment is, but its effect would be to diminish the amount of time given to Supply and give more time for Government business. I hope the hon. Member will not press his Amendment.
§ Amendment negatived.
§ (9.20.) MR. SWIFT MACNEILL
said he again wished to ask the right hon. Gentleman to recollect that Ministers of the Crown were not privileged persons, but simply paid and salaried servants of the House. The right hon. Gentleman would very soon be taking a leading part at the Coronation. [Ministerial cries of "Question, Question."] Hon. Members would see if they would wait that it was the question, if they had enough intelligence to understand it. The right hon. Gentleman, as he said before, would be taking a leading part in the Coronation, and he wished to remind the First Lord of the Treasury that under the statute—
§ MR. SWIFT MACNEILL
said he was quite serious, and he was trying to show that there ought to be no privileges 81 allowed to Ministers of the Crown unless there was a very good reason for it. He was simply giving an illustration of a constitutional principle from the Act of Parliament, and he assured Mr. Speaker that he was perfectly serious.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Member is not entitled to enter into a general discussion as to what are the privileges of Ministers of the Crown.
§ MR. SWIFT MACNEILL
said this was a new system of introducing, under the Rules of the House, certain Motions which could only be moved by Ministers of the Crown, and that brought Ministers into a position which they ought not to occupy as servants of the House. Ministers ought not to have any exceptional privileges in the Orders of the House which were not accorded to the humblest private Member. Hon. Members were selected for the House of Commons by the people at large, exactly in the same way as Ministers of the Crown, and he was utterly averse to allowing any Minister to have the slightest privilege which did not belong to the humblest private Member. His whole contention was that these Rules were unconstitutional, and that the right hon. Gentleman was acting in an unconstitutional manner in this matter. He begged to move his Amendment.
In line 3, to leave out the words, 'the Motion of a Minister of the Crown,' and insert the words 'a Motion.' "—(Mr. Swift Macneill.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said he could hardly think that the hon. Member was serious in this Amendment. If it were passed it would be inoperative, because, as Motions standing in the name of private Members stood at the end of business and not at the beginning, the matter would never come on for discussion. He did not think that that was a proposition for serious debate, and he hoped his hon. friend would not press his Amendment to a division.
§ (9.27.) MR. FLYNN
said that the First Lord of the Treasury, by his argument, certainly seemed to be putting a great strain upon their common sense. The Amendment of his hon. friend simply meant that Ministers of the Crown ought not to practically usurp the business of Supply, and introduce it just when the convenience of the Government might require it.
§ MR. FLYNN
asked why should a Minister of the Crown alone be entitled to make such a Motion, when the same privilege was denied even to the Leader of the Opposition and to the Leader of any other section of the House? The more days they could get for Supply, the better they would be pleased, and the ordinary Member of the House would not, unless under great pressure, desire to have other business taken upon the days allotted to Supply.
§ MR. BARTLEY (Islington, N.)
said he hoped that Ministers would put a step to the absolute waste of time that was now going on. There was not a single Member present on the front Opposition Bench; there were hardly any M embers in the House, and they had been debating this subject day after day, in order, he supposed, that they might have an autumn session. He appealed to the Government to exert a little pressure to get these Rules through.
§ MR. O'SHEE
supported the Amendment, because he considered that a great many of the rights of private Members had been taken away, not only during this session, but in previous sessions. What was now proposed by the hon. Member for South Donegal would give unofficial Members an opportunity of expressing their views. By passing the Amendment, they would, to some extent, restore the rights of private Members.
§ MR. O'MARA
asked whether the expression of the hon. Member for North Islington, that this discussion was a waste of time, was in order.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
If the hon. Member; thought it was out of order, he should have appealed to me at the time.
§ MR. O'MARA
I do not think myself it was in order, but perhaps hon. Members on the other side have privileges which are not accorded to those on this side.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
I must ask the hon. Member to withdraw that expression, which is both unfounded and improper.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
I did not hear any, expression of that kind, and as the expression did not reach my ears, I decline to take any notice of it.
§ MR. O'MARA
said he shared the opinion of the hon. Member for South Donegal that a Minister of the Crown, in the matter under consideration, should not have greater privileges than an ordinary private Member. Ministers of the Crown did not necessarily represent the largest constituencies. As a matter of fact, they might sit for the smallest constituencies. If the Rule was amended in the way proposed, the House would decide upon a Motion made at the commencement of public business without debate.
(9.37.) SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNER-MAN
said this was not an Amendment which he could support. On the contrary, he took the very opposite view 'from his hon. friend the Member for South Donegal, who seemed to regard it as a great privilege to be able to perform the function referred to in the proposed Standing Order. The reason for giving to a Minister of the Crown alone the right of making the Motion was that the Ministers of the Crown were responsible to the House, for its business, and he was one of those who took the view that, in regard to 84 the submission of Votes in Committee of Supply, and the modes in which they were to be dealt with, the House ought not to divest the Government of the day of the responsibility properly attaching to them. For that reason he had always had an objection to the kindly proposal the Leader of the House had often made, that the selection of the particular Votes to be taken on particular days should be left to a Committee, and even a Committee of those opposed to him in politics. He objected to this, because he thought it was peculiarly the function of the Government and the Leader of the House not only to guide the House in this matter, but to undertake the duty of determining what should be done. Therefore, when he found the usual phrase was here inserted which occurred in many other cases that a certain thing should happen,Unless the House otherwise order on the Motion of a Minister of the Crown,he confessed that he thought that was a perfectly proper stipulation, and in this particular case it was more eminently proper than in many to which it might be applied.
said he rose to remind the hon. Member for North Islington that if time had been wasted in the discussion of the new Rules, as much of that time had been occupied by hon. Members opposite as by Gentlemen on this side of the House. He thought his hon. friends were right in opposing the new Rules because their rights were being taken away, and so far from blaming them, he rather complimented them. They could not forget that last year at Blenheim the right hon. Gentleman declared that most of these Rules were directed against the Irish Members and Irish representation, and certainly they made no apology for taking whatever steps they thought right against them.
§ (9.42.) Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 185; Noes, 60. (Division List No. 106.)87
|Acland-Hood, Capt, Sir Alex, F.||Forster, Henry William||Moore, William (Antrim, N.)|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)||More, Robert. Jasper (Shropshire)|
|Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel||Fuller, J. M. F.||Morgan, D'vid J(Walthamstow|
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Gardner, Ernest||Morrison, James Archibald|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Garfit, William||Morton, Arthur H. A. (Deptford|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Gibbs, Hn. A. G. H. (City of Lond.||Mount, William Arthur|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Gibbs, Hon. Vicary (St. Albans)||Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.|
|Austin, Sir John||Goddard, Daniel Ford||Murray, Rt Hn A. Graham (Bute|
|Bagot, Capt. Josceline FitzRoy||Godson Sir Augustus Frederick||Myers, William Henry|
|Bain, Colonel James Robert||Gordon, Hn. J. E. (Elgin & Nairn||Nicol, Donald Ninian|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (Manch'r||Gordon, J. (Londonderry, S.)||Norton, Capt. Cecil William|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. Gerald W (Leeds||Gore, Hn G. R. C. Ormsby-'(Salop||Palmer, Walter (Salisbury)|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Gore, Hn. S. F. Ormsby-(Line)||Parker, Gilbert|
|Barry, Sir Francis T. (Windsor)||Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon||Partington, Oswald|
|Bartley, George C. T.||Goschen, Hon. George Joachim||Percy, Earl|
|Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benjamin||Gouldmg, Edward Alfred||Platt-Higgins, Frederick|
|Bhownaggree, Sir M. M.||Grant, Corrie||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward|
|Biginold, Arthur||Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Purvis, Robert|
|Bill, Charles||Green, Walford D (Wednesbury||Randles, John S.|
|Black, Alexander William||Greene, W. Raymond-(Cambs.)||Rasch, Major Frederic Carne|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton||Ratcliff, R. F.|
|Bond, Edward||Halsey, Rt. Hon. Thomas F.||Rea, Russell|
|Bowles, T. Gibson (King's Lynn)||Hamilton, Rt Hn Lord G (Midd'x||Reid, James (Greenock)|
|Brigg, John||Han bury, Rt. Hon. Robert Wm.||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Broadhurst, Henry||Hare, Thomas Leigh||Renwick, George|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Harris, Frederick Leverton||Ridley, Hon. M. W. (Stalybridge|
|Brookfield, Colonel Montagu||Haslett, Sir James Horner||Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas, Thomson|
|Brotherton, Edward Allen||Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale-||Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield)|
|Bull, William James||Heath, Arthur Howard (Hanley||Ropner, Colonel Robert|
|Butcher, John George||Helder, Augustus||Russell, T. W.|
|Caldwell, James||Henderson, Alexander||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford-|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Hermon-Hodge, Robert Trotter||Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Hogg, Lindsay||Sandys, Lieut.-Col. Thos. Myles|
|Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbyshire||Hope, J. F. (Sheffield, Brightside||Seely, Maj, J. E. B. (Isle of Wight|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles William||Honldsworth, Sir Win. Henry||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Houston, Robert Paterson||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Chamberlain, J. Austen (Worc'r||Hudson, George Bickersteth||Sinclair, John (Forfarshire)|
|Chapman, Edward||Johnston, William (Belfast)||Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, East)|
|Charrington, Spencer||Kinloch, Sir John George Smyth||Smith, James Parker (Lanarks.|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Law, Andrew Bonar||Spear, John Ward|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Lawson, John Grant||Stanley, Lord (Lanes.)|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Layland-Barratt, Francis||Stevenson, Francis S.|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Carrie||Stewart, Sir Mark, J. M'Taggart|
|Cross, Herb. Shepherd (Bolton)||Lock wood, Lt.-Col. A. R.||Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr|
|Crossley, Sir Savile||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen)||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter, (Bristol, S)||Valentia, Viscount|
|Davies, M. Vaughan-(Cardigan||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Vincent, Sir Edgar (Exeter)|
|Denny, Colonel||Lowe, Francis William||Wallace, Robert|
|Dewar, T. R. (T'r H'mlets, S. Geo.||Lowther, Rt. Hon. James (Kent)||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Dickson, Charles Scott||Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan)|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Lucas, Reginald J (Portsmouth||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Macartney, Rt Hn W. G. Ellison||Webb, Colonel William George|
|Durning-Lawrence. Sir Edwin||Macdona, John Cumming||While, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas||M'Calmont, Col. H. L. B. (Camts.||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Farquharson, Dr. Robert||M'Crae, George||Willox, Sir John Archibald|
|Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward||M'Iver, Sir Lewds (Edinburgh W||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R,(Bath|
|Fenwick, Charles||M'Killop, James (Stirlingshire)||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||Majendie, James A. H.||Woodhouse, Sir. J. T. (Hudd'rsfi'd|
|Finch, George H.||Malcolm, Ian||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Mansfield, Horace Kendall|
|Fisher, Wm. Hayes||Markham, Arthur Basil||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.|
|FitzGerald, Sir Robert Penrose-||Middlemore, Jno. Throgmortcn|
|Flower, Ernest||Mildmay, Francis Bingham|
|Abarham, William (Cork, N. E.)||Cogan, Denis J.||Hammond, John|
|Allan, William (Gateshead)||Condon, Thomas Joseph||Harmsworth, R. Leicester|
|Allen, Charles P. (Glouc., Stroud)||Crean, Eugene||Hayden, John Patrick|
|Atherley-Jones. L.||Delany, William||Hope, John Deans (Fife, West).|
|Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Doogan, P. C.||Jameson, Major J. Eustace|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Ffrench, Peter||Jordan, Jeremiah|
|Bell, Richard||Flyun, James Christopher||Joyce, Michael|
|Campbell, John (Armagh, S.)||Furness, Sir Christopher||Lough, Thomas|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Gilhooly, James||Lundon, W.|
|MacDonncll, Dr. Mark A.||O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)||Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)|
|MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||O'Dowd, John||Roche, John|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah||O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)||Schwann, Charles P.|
|M'Grovern, T.||O' Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|M'Kean, John||O'Malley, William||Sullivan, Donal|
|Mooney, John J.||O'Mara, James||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Murphy, John||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|Nannetti, Joseph P.||O'Shee, James John|
|Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)||Pickard, Benjamin|
|Norman, Henry||Power, Patrick Joseph||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Captain Donelan and Mr. Patrick O'Brien.|
|O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)||Reddy, M.|
|O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)|
§ (9.55.) MAJOR RASCH (Essex, Chelmsford)
said that he did not propose for a moment to elaborate the arguments in favour of the Amendment on the Paper, arguments which the House had heard with so much patience and forbearance during the last two or three years. He would remind the House, however, that sixty years ago there was a lucid interval, when a distinguished Member of the House, Mr. Milner Gibson, moved an Amendment limiting the duration of speeches to an hour, If he had proposed half-an-hour he would have done even better. He was supported by two Gentlemen who were experts in public speaking—Mr. Cobden and Mr. Bright—and was only beaten by a majority of twenty votes. He himself had moved a Resolution in a similar sense, and had carried it by a majority of three to one in a fairly large House. In every deliberate Assembly in the Metropolis, at any rate, from the Church House at Westminster to the august assembly which met in Spring Gardens, there was a similar practice, and in almost every Colony in the Empire a time limit was the rule, and worked with the greatest possible success. When it was objected that the House of Commons had lasted for some 600 years, and that what was good enough for their predecessors was good enough for them, his answer was that things were by no means what they were. Formerly, Members came there to vote and not to speak. They used to sit in rows on each side of the House and applaud everything that was said by the wise, great, and eminent occupants of the front Benches; and sometimes they had their reward in an apotheosis in the House of Lords. A proposal like what he submitted required no special pleading; it spoke for itself. The man who in those days could not deliver his soul in a quarter of an 88 hour, or twenty minutes, did not know his trade, and was not fit to be a Member of Parliament.
In line five, after the word 'Debate,' to insert the words 'and no Member shall, in Committee of Supply, speak more than once to the same Question or for longer than twenty minutes'"—(Major Rasch.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
I rise at once in the character of one of the members of that section of the House which, in this matter, is led by the hon. and gallant Gentleman. I am a supporter and an advocate of a time limit for speeches, and I have both spoken in favour of that and voted with the hon. and gallant Gentleman on previous occasions. But I am bound to say I cannot do so on the present occasion, because he has mixed the matter of a time limit up with single speeches in Committee of Supply, which is another question altogether. If there is any part of the business of the House for which a restriction is less required, it seems to me to be Committee of Supply. The hon. and gallant Gentleman appears to have forgotten the fact that a Minister has to defend the Vote under discussion, and that even on individual points in it very serious and complicated questions may arise. I do not know any part of the business of the House in which there is less of an attempt to make a display or to advertise themselves on the part of Members than in Committee of Supply. If the hon. and gallant Gentleman were to direct his attack against the long and tiresome speeches on the Second Reading of Bills, I could see very much more reason in what he proposed, and I should be disposed myself, with 89 due conditions and modifications, to support his ideal. But the business of Supply is the very time when we ought to give power to a Member to get up again and again, and to a Minister to get up again and again, and to explain more fully some difficult point which had been brought forward in the discussion. Supply, as I have said, is the most important part of the business of the House, and I do not think we ought to begin with it as the particular portion of our duties to which this experiment should be applied. I make this declaration against the Amendment of the hon. and gallant Gentleman as one who has supported him on the general principle of short speeches, to which I adhere strongly.
§ (10.5.) MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I am one of those who think that in all probability the time will come when the House will be compelled to adopt not the Amendment now before us but some limitation on the duration of speeches. I should not myself in the least object to that time coming quickly, if I could see my way to a particular plan which would carry my hon. friend's intention out without really injuring the efficiency of the House. I am in entire sympathy with the general object of my hon. friend, but as regards the subject of Supply, which is the only thing now before us, I do not see how we are to get over two difficulties. The first is that in; Supply we very often have debates of the first magnitude on policy. The Colonial Secretary is, for instance, attacked, and he makes a great statement upon South African policy. Is it possible to confine him to twenty minutes? Surely the thing is absurd on the face of it, and we must abandon any notion of the kind. That difficulty seems to me to be insuperable, but there is another difficulty which has been alluded to by the right hon. Gentleman opposite, with whom I am in entire accord in this matter, and that is that on the Estimates, as a rule, a Minister is on his defence. He can defend himself, but no one else can defend him. No one else knows the case. It is very; easy to say, "Let a colleague get up"; but the colleague does not know the details, and the Minister must stand or 90 fall by his own policy; and unless you give him a chance of replying more than once, you hand him over bound hand and foot. Even in the discussion of these Rules I found great difficulty in not being able to speak more than once, and it has been only by the extreme kindness and consideration of the House that I have been able to put the case at all, no one can tell in what way an attack may develop. An Amendment is started, in which the mover does not seem to have very much interest. NO one else seems to have very much interest in it, and a Minister gets up, who is perhaps equally perfunctory, and then gradually the skirmish develops into a first class battle, in which the Minister must be allowed to have his chance. For these two reasons, which I do not wish to develop further, I think my hon. friend's Amendment will not do in the form in which it-stands. If by his ingenuity, which is very great, and by his power of compressing observations, which I think is unrivalled, my hon. friend could bring forward some plan for the limitation of speeches. I am sure he would have no more enthusiastic disciple than myself; and I gather also from the speech of the right Hon. Gentleman opposite that he will have the unusual advantage for an independent Member of having two Front Bench men in his favour.
§ (10.10.) SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucestershire, Forest of Dean)
thought that the hon. and gallant Gentleman would not, on consideration, be able to vote for his own Amendment. He agreed that the practice which had sprung up from the time of Mr. Goschen of making a statement on the Army and Navy before the Speaker left the Chair was a most unfortunate one, and he had often heard the hon. and gallant Gentleman attack the present system for its inconvenience. Surely the hon. and gallant Gentleman would not suggest that in a year when great military changes were being made the Secretary of State for War should be confined to twenty minutes.
§ * MR. RENWICK (Newcastle-on-Tyne)
said he would have the greatest pleasure in seconding the Amendment. Both the 91 Leader of the House and the Leader of the Opposition had given expression to the opinion that they were in favour of short speeches. If they really were in favour of short speeches, he hoped the Leader of the House would take advantage of the alteration of the Rules to give effect to that opinion. He wished to point out that neither his hon. and gallant friend nor himself wished to deny, in any way, to Ministers or to Members of the Front Opposition Bench an extended time to develop their arguments. He was quite aware that it was necessary that they should have an extension of time, and he was quite ready to give it to them. During the course of the debate they had heard a great deal of the experience of hon. Gentlemen who had been in the House for many years. His hon. and gallant friend had been in the House for seventeen years. He himself had only been in the House seventeen months, but during that period he had been an observer, and the observations he had made led him to the conclusion that the Amendment which had been moved, or something like it, was very necessary. He wished to carry hon. Members back to August of last year. After the expiration of the twenty days which had been allotted to Supply, what happened? On August 7th, the last of the days allotted, there remained some sixty millions or eighty millions of money to be voted. The discussion was commenced at half-past five, and one hon. Member of the Irish Party spoke for an hour and a half on a Vote for some £46,000 for local government in Ireland. He was followed by other hon. Members on the Irish Benches, and between them they occupied all the available time on the discussion of that Vote, and from ten o'clock at night until six o'clock in the morning the closure was being moved, and hon. Members walked through the division lobbies twenty-six times, and sixty millions or eighty millions of money was passed without a word of discussion. Although the Leader of the Irish Party was largely responsible for what had taken place, he rose about two o'clock in the morning and said that in his experience of Parliament he had never known such a scandalous state of things. Would any hon. Member, remembering what had 92 taken place, say there was no necessity for the Amendment before the House? As long as it was possible—and it would be possible under the new Rules—for a repetition of such a state of affairs, there would be a necessity for limiting speeches in the direction indicated. He challenged the Leader of the House, or any other supporter of the proposed alteration of the Rules, to say how such a state of affairs could be avoided in the future if it was open to Members to obstruct business in the same way as they did last year. During the recess a great deal was heard as to the necessity of altering the Rules of Procedure, in order that the dignity and traditions of the House of Commons might be upheld. Whenever the matter was mentioned to the electors, and it was pointed out that £80,000,000 of their money could be voted without a single word of discussion, an unanimous desire was expressed that the Rules should be altered. New Members had been told that they were going to be destroyed, extinguished, or crushed, while one prominent Member had stated that the proposed new Rules set the seal upon the final humiliation of private Members. They might be killed, but when they were buried it would be very appropriate to write on their tombstones that they had been killed by long speeches. It might be that they were going to be crushed or extinguished, but, at any rate, the new Members would feel it less than the older Members because they had had no other experience. During the seventeen months he had been a Member of the House he had many times gone very reluctantly into the Lobby in support of the Minister, of the Crown who had moved the closure, but he ventured to tell the Government that if, as the result of these new Rules, in August next the House were again called upon to vote a similar amount of money without discussion as was the case last year, then even more reluctantly, if at all, would he record his vote for the closure. There was now a golden opportunity to deal effectively with this great scandal, and he sincerely hoped the Government would not let that opportunity be lost.
§ MR. EUGENE WASON (Clackmannan and Kinross)
said there was a general 93 consensus of opinion on both sides of the House that speeches ought, if possible, to be curtailed. In order to get rid, once for all, of the difficulty suggested by the Leader of the House, he moved, as an Amendment to the Amendment, after the word "Member," to insert "other than a Minister of the Crown." That would give a Minister, if attacked, power to reply at length. As to other Members, if they could not say all they had to say-in twenty minutes, there were twenty of the colleagues who could follow, and between them have plenty of time to say all that was desired.
Amendment proposed to the proposed Amendment—
After the word 'Member,' to insert the words 'other than a Minister of the Crown.'"—(Mr. Eugene Wason.)—
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted in the proposed Amendment."
§ (10.21.) MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
thought the Amendment just moved did not improve the original proposal. It introduced a principle which the House of Commons had never yet accepted and he hoped never would accept, viz., that there should not be absolute and perfect equality between all Members. Then, too, it would probably be admitted by all official and ex-official Members of the House that a Member who made an attack on the policy of a Minister might have just as much right to a longer time for the development of his attack as the Minister for his reply. The Leader of the House was a very important Member, so also were the Leader of the official Opposition and the Leader of the Irish Opposition. Sometimes he thought the latter was the most important of all. If they were to have any first-class debates upon the policy of a Minister, it would be as absurd to limit the duration of the speech of the Member who opened the attack as to limit that of the Minister who replied. The hon. Member for Newcastle had delivered a remarkable, interesting, and significant speech, with almost the whole of which he found himself able to agree. Unfortunately, however, the premisses of the hon. Member, which he adopted, led him to a different conclusion. The hon. Member 94 had complained that after spending many hours in discussing a Vote of £46,000 for Irish Local Government, the House proceeded to vote £60,000,000 for the services of the year without any debate whatever—a state of things which he described as scandalous. To that he (the speaker) said "ditto" from the bottom of his heart. It was a scandal that Irishmen should have to discuss Irish Local Government in this House at all. He did not, however, rise for the purpose of developing an argument in favour of Irish Home Rule, although all discussion led to Ireland; but he wished, in passing, to point out that the speech of the hon. Member, taken with that of the First Lord of the Treasury earlier in the evening, formed an admirable and irresistible plea for that which was the complement of Homo Rule for Ireland, viz., Home Rule for England, and for the British Empire.
As to the proposal of the hon. and gallant Member for the Chelmsford Division, the First Lord had conclusively pointed out that a Minister could not be expected to limit to twenty minutes his defence of a great question of public policy. The hon. Member for Newcastle had met that difficulty by complaining of the length of the speeches of Irish Members. It, therefore, appeared that the proposal ought really to read that Ministers of the Crown and English Members were to have as much time as they liked, but that all Irish Members should be limited to twenty minutes. [" No."] His hon. friend did not support that, but that was the difficulty of starting upon the inclined pack of ice—you never knew where you would get to. If the undemocratic and unworthy principle of making distinctions and grades between different Members were adopted, there would also have to be distinctions, not merely between ministerial and private Members, but also between Members of different nationalities. The hon. and gallant Member had made two proposals. First he suggested that in Committee of Supply no Member should address the House for a longer period than twenty minutes in one speech. That was grotesquely absurd, as under such a Rule it would be possible for a Member to make three or four or more speeches of twenty minutes each. The hon. and gallant Member saw the absurdity of that proposal, and amended it by limiting 95 Members to one speech of not more than twenty minutes. But that destroyed the whole foundation of, and reason for, debates in Committee. It was not for the purpose of encouraging talk that the House made a distinction between speeches delivered on Second Readings and those delivered in Committee. It was because in Committee details were discussed, and in order to discuss details properly it was necessary that a Member should be able to speak more than once.
As to the limit of twenty minutes, he agreed that speeches should be curtailed. But the usage of the House in regard to the length of speeches had changed in a remarkable degree within the last twenty-two year. As the House had been told, when the First Lord entered the House it was a common practice for private Members' Bills to be talked out; but now, as a result of the closure, nobody attempted to talk out a Bill on a Wednesday afternoon. The closure, like every other political cause, had had many effects which nobody had contemplated or foreseen, and it had undoubtedly completely transformed the character of debates in the House. The hon. and gallant Member thought that speeches were very long and the debates of great duration. If he had been a Member when he (the speaker) was about to deliver—until closured by a coup d'état on the part of the Speaker of the day—a two hours speech in the course of a forty-one hours sitting, he would know what really prolonged debates were. To the old stagers in the House the debates in the present piping times of peace were; a model of compression—almost of undue and artificial compression. These things should be left to natural causes. What would happen if such artificial limits were imposed? If it were laid down that no Member should speak for more than twenty minutes, the result would be that every Member who; spoke at all would speak for twenty, minutes ["No."] If debate were artificially shortened in one direction it would be lengthened in another. Take the case of an Irish Coercion Bill being introduced with such a rule in existence. Could it be supposed that every Irish Member would not consider it his duty to exercise his right to the fullest extent? The result of the Rule 96 in that case would be that, instead of having one or two speeches of thirty, forty, or fifty minutes duration, the House would have to listen to twenty or thirty—[" eighty "]—of twenty minutes each, and the last state of the House would be worse than the first. He had seen a similar arrangement tried in the House of Representatives in the United States. He had great respect for the constitution of the United States, but in no sense of the word could it be said that the debates in the House of Representatives were as real or relevant as those in the House of Commons. What happened there? If a Member did not want the whole of the time allotted to him, he delegated a portion to some other Member, with the result that the debates were more like a dress rehearsal at a theatre than the relevant and pertinent discussions of the House of Commons. He might illustrate by an experience how the system worked. The question under discussion was whether or not a certain apartment should have a tesselated pavement. The Speaker left the Chair for a time, and when he returned he found an honourable gentleman from a division of the State of Tennessee ending his speech with the words—And now, Sir, I think I have sufficiently vindicated my own conduct and that of my State in the late Civil War.These artificial rules had brought the House of Representatives to a discussion not of the actual issues of the day, but of the history of parties and the history of the country. He hoped the House would reject the Amendment as being destructive of one of the best virtues of the House of Commons, viz., the naturalness, actuality, and relevance of its debates
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said he did not intend to discuss the Amendment, as he had already sufficiently expressed his views on the subject. The debate had been extremely interesting, but it was really resolving itself into a general discussion of the management of debates as a whole. He hoped, therefore, it would not be thought unreasonable if he asked them to come to a decision on the Amendment, so as to make some progress with the question before the House.
§ Amendment to the proposed Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ (10.38.) Question put, "That the words 'and no Member shall, in Committee of "Supply, speak more than once to the98
§ Same question or for longer than twenty minuties be there Insterted:—
§ The house divided:—Ayes 24; Noes 68. (division List No 107.)99
|Allen, Chas. P. (Glouc, Stroud||Hope, John Deans (Fife, West)||Stevenson, Francis S.|
|Broadhurst, Henry||Jones, Wm. (Carnarvonshire)||Thomas, David Alf. (Merthyr)|
|Brookfield, Colonel Montagu||Kinloch, Sir John Geo. Smyth||Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Lough, Thomas||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|Elibank, Master of||M'Kenna, Reginald|
|Farquharson, Dr. Robert||Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)|
|Grant, Corrie||Priestley, Arthur||TELLERS FOR THE AYES, Mr. Robert Wallace and Mr. Fuller.|
|Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton||Rasch, Major Frederic Carne|
|Harris, Frederick Leverton||Renwick, George|
|Hobhouse, C. E. H. (Bristol, E.)||Schwann, Charles E.|
|Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.||Churchill, Winston Spencer||Gore, Hn G. R C. Ormsby-(Salop|
|Acland-Hood, Capt. Sir Alex. F.||Cogan, Denis J.||Gore, Hn. S. F. Ormsby-(Line.)|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Gorst, Rt. Hn. Sir John Eldon|
|Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel||Compton, Lord Alwyne||Goschen, Hon. George Joachim|
|Allan, William (Gateshead)||Condon, Thomas Joseph||Goulding, Edward Alfred|
|Archdale, Edward Mervyn||Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Gray, Ernest (West Ham)|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Green, Walford D (Wed'esbury|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugo. O||Cox, Irwin Edward Bainbridge||Greene, W. Raymond-(Cambs.|
|Ashton, Thamas Gair||Cranborne, Viscount||Grenfell, William Henry|
|Atherley-Jones. L.||Crean, Eugene||Guest, Hon. Ivor Churchill|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Cripps, Charles Alfred||Hatmilton, Rt Hn Lord G. (Mid'x|
|Austin, Sir John||Cross, Herb. Shepherd (Bolton)||Hammond, John|
|Bagot, Capt. Joscelinc FitzRoy||Crossley, Sir Savile||Han bury, Rt. Hon. Robert Wm.|
|Bam, Colonel James Robert||Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen)||Hardy, Laure'ce (Kent, Ashford|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manch'r||Delany, William||Hare, Thomas Leigh|
|Balfour, Rt Hn Gerald W. (Leeds||Denny, Colonel||Harmsworth, R. (Leicester)|
|Banbury, Frederick George||Dewar, T. R. (TH' ml' ts. S. Geo.||Haslett, Sir James Horner|
|Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Dickinson, Robert Edmond||Hayden, John Patrick|
|Barry, Sir Francis T. (Windsor)||Dickson, Charles Scott||Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale-|
|Bartley, George C. T.||Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Hayter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur D.|
|Bathurst, Hn. Allen Benjamin||Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph||Heath, Arthur Howard (Hanley|
|Bayley, Thomas (Derbyshire)||Donelan, Capt. A.||Helder, Augustus|
|Bell, Richard||Doogan, P. C.||Henderson, Alexander|
|Bhownaggree, Sir M. M.||Douglas, Rt. Hn. A. Akers-||Herman-Hodge, Robt. Trotter|
|Bignold, Arthur||Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin||Hogg, Lindsay|
|Bigwood, James||Dyke, Rt. Hn. Sir William Hart||Hope, J. F. (Sheffield, Brightside|
|Black, Alexander William||Edwards, Frank||Houldsworth, Sir Wm. Henry|
|Blake, Edward||Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas||Houston, Robert Paterson|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward||Hudson, George Bickersteth|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Fenwick, Charles||Jameson, Major J. Eustace|
|Bond, Edward||Fergusson, Rt Hn Sir J. (Mane'r||Jessel, Captain Herbert Merton|
|Brigg, John||Ffrench, Peter||Johnston, William (Belfast)|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst||Jordan, Jeremiah|
|Brotherton, Edward Alien||Finch, George H.||Joyce, Michael|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Keswick, William|
|Brymer, William Ernest||Fisher, William Hayes||Lambert, George|
|Bull, William James||FitzGerald, Sir Robt. Penrose-||Law, Andrew Bonar|
|Butcher, John George||Flower, Ernest||Lawrence, Joseph (Monmouth|
|Caldwell, James||Flynn, James Christopher||Lawson, John Grant|
|Campbell, John (Armagh, S.)||Forster, Henry William||Layland-Barratt, Francis|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)||Lee, A. H. (Hant-., Fareham)|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Furness, Sir Christopher||Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage|
|Causton, Richard Knight||Gardner, Ernest||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Carrie|
|Cavendish, R. F. (N. Lanes.)||Garfit, William||Leveson-Gower, Fred. N. S.|
|Cavendish, V. C. W (Derbyshire||Gibbs, Hn. A. G. H. (City of Lon.||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R.|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Gibbs, Hon. Vicary (St. Albans)||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Gilhooly, James||Long, Rt Hn. Walter (Bristol, S)|
|Chamberlain, J Austen (Worc'r||Goddard, Daniel Ford||Lonsdale, John Brownlee|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Godson, Sir Augustus Frederick||Lowe, Francis William|
|Chapman, Edward||Gordon, Hn J. E (Elgin & Nairn||Lowther, Rt. Hn. James (Kent)|
|Charrington, Spencer||Gordon, J. (Londonderry, South||Loyd, Archie Kirkman|
|Lucas, Reginald J. (Portsmouth||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Lnndon, W.||O'Doanell, T. (Kerry. W.)||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Macartney, Rt Hn W. G. Ellison||O'Dowd, John||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Macdona, John Cumming||O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)||Simeon, Sir Barring ton|
|MacDonnell, Dr. Mark A.||O'Kelly, Jas. (Roscommon, N.)||Sinclair, John (Forfarshire)|
|MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||O'Malley, William||Skewes-Cox, Thomas|
|Maconochie, A. W.||O'Mara, James||Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, East|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Orr-Ewing, Charles Lindsay||Smith, Jas. Parker (Lanarks.)|
|M'Calmont, Col. H. L. H. (Cambs||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Spear, John Ward|
|M'Crae, George||O'Shee, James John||Stanley, Lord (Lanes.)|
|M'Govern, T.||Palmer, George Wm. (Reading)||Stewart, Sir Mark J. M'Taggart|
|M'Kean, John||Palmer, Walter (Salisbury)||Sullivan, Donal|
|Majendie, James A. H.||Parker, Gilbert||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Malcolm, Ian||Partington, Oswald||Thomas, F. Freeman-(Hastings|
|Mansfield, Horace. Rendall||Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)||Thomson, V. W. (York, W. R)|
|Markham, Arthur Basil||Penn, John||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Martin, Richard Biddulph||Pickard, Benjamin||Valentia, Viscount|
|Middlemore, Jn. Throgmorton||Platt-Higgins, Frederick||Vincent, Sir Edgar (Exeter)|
|Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Power, Patrick Joseph||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Mooney, John J.||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward||Wason, Jn. Catcheart (Orkney)|
|Moore, William (Antrim, N.)||Purvis, Robert||Webb, Coloncl William George|
|More, Robert, Jasper (Shropshire)||Randles, John S.||Welby, Lt. Col. A. C. E (Taunton|
|Morgan, D. J. (Walthamstow)||Ratcliff, R. F.||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Morgan, Hn. Fred. (Monm'ths.||Rea, Russell||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Morrison, James Archibald||Reddy, M.||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Morton, Arthur H. A. (Deptford||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Moulton, John Fletcher||Reid, James (Greenock)||Willox, Sir John Archibald|
|Mount, William Arthur||Remnant, James Farquharson||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E. R.|
|Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.||Ridley, Hn. M. W. (Stalybridge||Wilson, John (Glasgow)|
|Murphy, John||Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson||Wilson-Todd, Wm. H. (Yorks.)|
|Murray, Rt. Hn. A. Graham (Bute||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath.|
|Myers, William Henry||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Nannetti, Joseph P.||Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield)||Woodhouse, Sir. J. T. (Hudd'rsfi'd|
|Nicholson, William Graham||Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Nicol, Donald Ninian||Roche, John||Younger, William|
|Nolan, Joseph (Lough, South)||Ropner, Colonel Robert|
|Norman, Henry||Russell, T. W.|
|Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford-||TELLERS FOR THE NOES, Sir William Walrond and Mr. Anstruther.|
|O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander|
|O'Brien, P. T. (Tipperary, N.)||Seely, Maj. J. E. B. (Isle of Wight|
§ (10.54.) MR. LOUGH (Islington, W.)
said he would respond to the appeal made by the First Lord of the Treasury to leave the details and approach the heart of the question. He rose to move the omission of the second paragraph, which proposed that not more than twenty days should be allotted for the consideration of Supply. This second paragraph in the new Procedure Rule was the very heart and centre of the whole Rule. It provided that—Not more than twenty days, being days before the fifth of August, shall be allotted for the consideration of the annual Estimates for the Army, Navy, and Civil Services, including Votes on Account.The whole Rule was simply an amplification of this paragraph. All the new Members elected to this Parliament and the last Parliament had had no experience in Committee of Supply different to that which they had had under the existing Rule. He was addressing a large body of hon. Members who had had some experience upon this question before this extraordinary Rule was adopted. This Rule, of which they had had six years 100 experience, had been a gigantic failure, and they ought to take this opportunity of modifying it in the interests of the House. The questions raised in the other amended Rules were mostly theoretic questions, but of this Rule they had had considerable experience, and it had reduced the business of Supply to a farce, and the House would never get control of the Estimates until this Rule was seriously modified. What was the object of the Rule? What was the business of the Supply Committee which this Rule was intended to facilitate? The first object of the business of Committee of Supply was to bring the national expenditure under the control of the House. In this respect the Rule had entirely failed, because it had not brought the national expenditure under the control of Parliament.
Upon this point he would give a few figures. The present Supply Rule had been in existence for six years, and he had taken out the amount of Supply which had not been discussed at all. The amount of Supply which did not 101 come under the control or consideration of the House at all was as follows:—In 1897 £52,000,000, in 1898 £43,000,000, in 1899 £56,000,000, in 1900 £75,000,000,; and in 1901 £88,000,000. Therefore during those five years a large proportion of the Supply of this House was not considered by the House of Commons at all, consequently he was justified in saying that this Rule had failed in what ought to be its first object, A most remarkable statement had been made by the hon. Member for Newcastle, who said that he had been in the habit of addressing meetings on this point in the country, and when he asserted on the platform that in the House of Commons they passed £60,000,000 of Supply without a single remark, every person in the meeting agreed that this was a state of things which ought to be altered. If the House maintained this Supply Rule as it now stood, a vast and increasing body of the expenditure must pass every year without any examination whatever. The second object of Supply was to secure the State against extravagance and waste in the financial expenditure, and the Rule had lamentably failed in that respect, for there had sprung up the grossest extravagance in many departments. In the year when this rule was first adopted the expenditure was £105,000,000, but the total expenditure of the country this year would be no less than £210,000,000. It might be said that the war was responsible for this. Not only had war, like expenditure, increased, but civil ser-vice and every branch of expenditure had developed in a very extraordinary way. In fact it was a byword that there was no party in the House that stood up for economy. There were some Members who had maintained the principles of economy as well as they could, but they had not been quite successful. There had been in every branch of expenditure in the State the most gross extravagance during the last six years. In every part of the Empire there had been the greatest extravagance. Our warlike expenditure had increased to £2 10s. per head of the population and that was most extravagant. Millions had been spent on railways leading to no one knew where in Africa.
§ * MR. SPEAKER
The hon. Member is not entitled to go into details of the expenditure. He may generally state his opinion as to the tendency of expenditure.
§ MR. LOUGH
said he accepted that ruling. He only meant to give an instance. He had said enough to make his point good. They wished to secure efficiency for the vast sums which were expended. It had become a byword that we were not very efficient in this country at the present time. There was a Party, to which many of them must wish all success in their endeavours, who had made "efficiency" their watchword. When debating the Rules they ought to keep in view the question of administration. What, after all, was the meaning of examining Votes in Committee of Supply? The meaning of it was that this House should obtain an affective control over the administrative Departments of the country. Was there any man who would say that the House had secured proper control over the departments during the last six years? He ventured to say that the House had lost any control of the Departments which it formerly had. He believed that the great Departments were without control. There were two controls which ought to be exercised—one was that of the Minister in charge of a Department, and the other was the possesser by this House. He did not rely on the Minister if he was not stimulated in his action by this House. If this House had sufficient control the country would have some security that the business of the Departments was properly carried on. The First Lord of the Treasury had said that he was always willing to bring forward any Vote which the House wished to discuss. Nothing could he more conciliatory, but when they got a discussion it was desultory and came to nothing whatever. The Ministry knew that under the Rules which settled the time allowed for voting Supply the votes must inevitably be got through. But Ministers could not shake off their responsibility like that. It was the business of Ministers to secure fair and adequate discussion of all those great questions which arose in Committee of Supply. A Return had been issued within the last few days showing that 103 proposals to reduce Estimates in Committee of Supply had only been carried three or four times in the last ten years. He had heard the Leader of the House argue that reductions were carried so seldom that the discussions were not of much practical use. The discussions might bear fruit in future years. If discussion was well conducted in the House in regard to any estimate it could not be entirely fruitless. They must not judge on the utility of discussion by the number of times a Motion for reduction was carried. He remembered an instance where discussion tended to economy. About eighteen months ago it was proposed to expend £30,000 on the terrace of the Houses of Parliament. He protested and received the support of the others, with the result that the proposal was abandoned and the money was saved. He could give many illustrations to show that criticism in the House had very much reduced expenditure. He thought it would be very easy to find a more effective way of dealing with Supply than that provided by this Rule. He suggested that Committees might be appointed to deal with the Navy, Army, and Civil Service Estimates, and that there should then be a Report stage of not more than twenty days in the House. The twenty days which had been allotted year after year were wasted. Ministers were not anxious to get Supply through, because all their motive to do so had been removed. He wanted to get rid of the automatic closure of Supply. They should take away the present element of compulsion, and give elasticity to the Committee, allowing Members to criticise the votes in an honest and fair spirit. The matter had become one of gigantic importance in which the taxpayers of the country were deeply interested.
In line 6, to leave out the words from the words 'Not more than,' to the words 'as first Order,' in line 11, both inclusive"—(Mr. Lough.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words 'Not more than twenty days, being days before the 5th of August, shall be allotted for the consideration of the annual Estimates for the Army, Navy, and Civil Services, including Votes on Account, stand part of the Question"104
§ (11.20.) Mr. A. J. BALFOUR
said it was true that, if the Amendment were adopted, the Supply Rule which had existed for some years would virtually disappear, and the House would revert to the status quo ante and to a method of discussing Supply which, for some reason, appeared to find favour with the hon. Member. He would not claim that the Supply Rule was in every point of view an improvement on the ancient system. He did not say the House had lost absolutely nothing by the change. But he did claim that by it the House had been able to discuss Supply, and had escaped the torture of an absolutely obstructive style of debate. The old system conduced to no economy of expenditure. Under it, even the oldest Member could recollect nothing in the way of criticism of Estimates, or condemnation of expenditure, such as took place in the time of Joseph Hume. The Government at long intervals brought in Votes of Account, on which there; were miscellaneous and usually not very profitable discussions, ranging over the whole realm of political knowledge, and leading to no conclusive result. Supply got piled up, and at the very end of the session, a jaded House, diminished and shorn of its Members, went through the Votes till two, three, four, or five o'clock in the morning, getting through its task in physical exhaustion. The hon. Member appeared to think that there was now no adequate opportunity of criticising the administration of the departments. This, at all events, was secured—that week after week, from the beginning of the session to the end, there was opportunity for any hon. Member to make any criticism he chose. How could a Minister be perfunctory in his defence when the attack was made at an hour convenient to the House and when the debates were reported and he could be judged by his speeches in the Press and the country? In the old days he was on his defence at three in the morning, half-asleep himself, and his critics half asleep, and no reporting possible. What they should aim at was to try to divide the session equitably between the various claims, not of the Government, but of the country and the House. His opinion was that not too little time but too much time was given to Supply. Lender the existing system, thirty-five days were devoted to Supply. More days could not possibly be 105 allotted to it without restricting the time to be given to legislation. He believed it was Mr. Gladstone's opinion, and it certainly was his, that it was not desirable to ask the House to sit, broadly speaking, for more than six months of the year. It was inevitable that the House should sit more than six months this year. But he thought that as a general rule a six months session ought to be adopted. Was it conceivable that in a six months session they could carry on the business of the House if they were to give more than thirty-five days to Supply?
§ (11.27.) MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON (Dundee)
said that the question to be decided was whether this Rule was to be stereotyped instead of being subject to the approval of the House each session. He appealed to hon. Members on both sides of the House as to whether it could be said, in the face of the closing scenes of last session, that the Rule was a success. On the last day allotted to Supply, Votes amounting to £67,000,000 of public money were passed without discussion, and on the last day for Report of Supply £86,000,000 were passed under the same conditions. He for one could not admit that the Rule as it stood, without modification or alteration, had been a practical success. He would state to the House why, in his opinion, that result had been reached. It was not the fault of the Rule alone. There were concurrent circumstances which had led to the result he had described. The right hon. Gentleman alluded to two causes which produced that result, without being aware of the significance of the allusion he was making. He spoke of Votes of credit and alluded to the old practice by which two or three Votes on account were taken in the course of a session, and the right hon. Gentleman deprecated that practice. It appeared to him, however, that it was the abandonment of that very practice which had led to the result he had described. Twenty years ago, when a Vote on account for the Civil Service was asked for, for more than two months the House refused to grant it. The old practice was to limit a Vote on account to two months Supply. "What had they had during the present session? A Vote on account for £19,000,000 106 out of the total of £44,000,000 for the Civil Service had been granted. That represented provision for fully five months expenditure. It was not one Vote on account, but the only Vote on account. At the beginning of the session the Government got all the supply they needed for the session, and with the certainty that they would get the rest on a certain day towards the end of the session, all temptation was removed to exercise any control over Supply. He had not been as long in the House as the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the House, but he thought he had sat through more debates in Supply than the right hon. Gentleman, and in his opinion there was only one thing which could save the House of Commons from the deplorable state of things which had arisen, and that was to have an orderly and equally divided discussion over all the Estimates. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would not think he was making a personal attack on him, but what was wanted was constant, vigilant, and intelligent leadership of the House all through Committee of Supply. That was no reflection on the Leader of the House, because he was not present during most of the debates in Committee of Supply. It was not usual for the Leader of the House to lead on such occasions. During last session the right hon. Gentleman was present during the whole of the debates on one Department, viz., the Navy Department, and he kept an almost incessant control over the Navy Estimates. But he did not attempt to control the whole course of Supply. He was not making a reflection on the right hon. Gentleman, but he was showing what he thought was a self-evident proposition—that where the Government got all its money by an automatic process, unless the debates were evenly distributed over the whole financial year, it would be impossible not to have £70,000,00 or £80,000,000 guillotined without debate at all at the end of the session.
The right hon. Gentleman had been criticised more than once for his statement as to the principle on which he said the new Rules were based. The principle put forward was that the Rules of the House should be brought into 107 conformity with the practice of the House. If that were applied to Estimates, the Government would get all their Supply in two Votes. Then the right hon. Gentleman said again tonight, as he had said often before, that it was for the Opposition to select the subject for debates. It was not for the Opposition, but for the responsible leaders of the House. It was for the responsible leaders, by all the means under their control, including closure, and not excluding the gentler arts in which the right hon. Gentleman was proficient, to have an even distribution of Supply over the session. That might be making too great a demand on any one Minister, but without it he did not see that with a large, solitary Vote on account at the beginning of the session, and automatic closure at the end, they would have any other but the discreditable and deplorable result he had described. Could nothing else be done? The hon. Member for Islington pointed to an increase in the number of days. He would not argue that now, but there was an Amendment on the Paper, which he regretted was out of order, which would have raised the alternative, and the only alternative, and; that was that the Estimates should be referred to a Select Committee. That would save the situation, and would give to the new Rules a character which at the present moment they did not possess. What was the great blot in the new Rules? It was that they contained no proposal whatever for increasing the control of the House over expenditure. That was what was wanted. The Amendment to which he had referred proposed that the Estimates should be referred to the Committee before they came before the House. He would earnestly press that on the right hon. Gentleman. If the new system of closure at both ends of the session was to prevail, then devolution, in the sense of a reference to a Committee, became absolutely necessary. For his own part, he would go further, and would suggest not only that the Estimates should be referred to a Select Committee at the beginning of the session, and that they should come before the House with the criticisms and the Report of the Committee, but that afterwards, when the Estimates were executed, when the 108 House had given its mandate, a Select Committee should enquire how that mandate had been executed. In other words, he would like to see a new Committee, on the lines of the Public Accounts Committee, formed for the purpose of examining into the manner in which the Estimates were executed. That might be done by adding administrative criticism to the functions of the Public Accounts Committee. At present no Minister was bound to pay the slightest attention to the Public Accounts Committee when its criticism dealt with administration. There was the case of the Royal yacht last year. What was the use of the recommendation of the Public Accounts Committee with reference to that? The Department concerned could snap its fingers at the Committee and say it was a matter of administration. His suggestion was that the Public Accounts Committee should be empowered to look into the Estimates and see whether the money had been properly expended. Allusion had been made to a party in this House and in the country which was pledged to efficiency in matters of administration. He would point out that the two proposals he was now making—and he was speaking entirely for himself—had been formulated by a Committee with reference to public administration, of which, his noble friend Lord Rosebery was chairman and of which he himself was a member. He hoped the right hon. I Gentleman would receive what, he had said in the spirit in which it was offered, and he thought the hon. Member who moved the Amendment had rendered an important service to the House and the country by calling attention to what had been well described as the heart of the new Rules.
§ (11.46.) MR. DISRAELI (Cheshire, Altrincham)
said that if hon. Gentlemen opposite would practice efficiency when in office and talk less about it when out of office, it would be better for all parties. The hon. Member charged the Leader of the House with being absent, but they all knew that the Leader of the House was almost always at his post. He did not intend to criticise the Rule; it was an old friend. It was, however, 109 now proposed to make it a permanent, instead of a sessional, Standing Order, He thought it would be a very dangerous thing to draw a hard and-fast limit of twenty days for all time, it was as if a railway company every day ran a train of the same size to a certain place, whether there were many passengers or few. It would be better if a more elastic principle could be adopted. Reference had been made to the manner in which the United States carried on its business. He believed the custom was that the two Leaders of the House of Representatives met and valued the time of a debate, and agreed, for instance, that such and such a debate was worth eight hours and another debate only worth six hours, but they had no hard and-fast Rule. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would allow the Rule to remain a sessional order and not make it a permanent order.
§ MR. CHARLES HOBHOUSE
said that the Amendment was one of the most important proposals that had yet been submitted to the House. [HON. MEMBERS: Divide, Divide!] Ought such an important debate to be brought to a conclusion when it had occupied only fifty minutes? Only four speeches had been delivered, and he could assure hon. Members that he did not rise for the purpose of unduly prolonging the discussion. Supply afforded private Members the only opportunity they had of discussing internal or external questions, such as foreign politics, the war in South Africa or the situation in China, and, therefore, he would make no apology whatever for continuing the discussion. Under the Rule, twenty days were given for the discussion of Supply, plus three extra days, which, however, would only be provided in case a Minister of the Crown chose to put them at the disposal of the House. As a matter of fact, however, no less than thirty-five days were habitually occupied in discussing various items of supply, and why, therefore, should there be a pretence that only twenty days would be occupied. It would be much better to get rid of what was no doubt an automatic Rule, but which, more or less, was nothing less than a sham, and allot 110 from time to time so much of the time of the House as the Government could afford for the adequate discussion of Supply. Something like £10,000,000 of Supply was on an average taken on each day, and various subjects came up for discussion. If the first item happened to be interesting, it occupied the attention of Members on both sides, and the whole of the rest of the Tote remained undiscussed. Surely that was not a very desirable state of things. It had been truly pointed out that reductions were moved in Supply, not for the purpose of reducing expenditure, but in order to call attention to the policy which entailed the expenditure. If the present proposal were compared with the proposal of last session, it would be seen that it gave some better protection to the private Member, but at the same time it was quite certain that a great number of votes and very large sums of money would have to be passed without any adequate discussion by the House by means of the guillotine. That might or might not be a desirable policy, but he maintained that there ought to be no pretence whatever about it.
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND (Waterford)
said that the Rule under discussion was of such a far-reaching and important character that it was absolutely necessary that every section of the House, and certainly the section he had the honour to represent, should be heard in regard to it. No section in the House had suffered more from the operation of the old Rule, when it was a sessional order, than the section which represented Ireland. He believed it was absolutely true that during the past five years all the most important votes dealing with the administration of Ireland had been closured without any discussion whatever. While listening to the speech of the hon. Member who introduced the Amendment, he thought the House must be impressed by the fact that during the past five years Estimates of the United Kingdom to the extent of £340,000,000 had been closured without any discussion.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
The discussion will be adjourned until Monday next, and I only do so on the remote chance that the Budget may not come on. Hon. Members will not interpret the fact, if the Rules stand first on the Order Paper for Monday, that the Budget will not come on on that day I believe it will.
It being midnight, the debate stood adjourned.
Debate to be resumed upon Monday next.