§ (2.35)THE PRIME MINISTER AND FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. A. J. BAlFOUR,) Manchester, E.
I do not propose to make any additional statement about these Rules which I now propose shall be made Standing Orders, they having been discussed already at great length. All I shall ask the House to do is to take such measures as to prevent the discussion we have already had of these new proposals from being wholly wasted and dropped at the end of the Session. I beg to move—
Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Resolutions dealing with the Power of the Speaker to Adjourn the House or Suspend Sitting, Priority of Business, Business in Supply, Private Business, and Quorum of the House, be Standing Orders of the House, and that Standing Orders 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10 and 11 be repealed."—(Mr. A. J. Balfour.)
*MR. GIBSON BOWLES (Lynn Regis)
thought that the treatment extended to the House by the right hon. Gentleman was somewhat cavalier. It was true that some of the Resoultions had been disscussed under the pressure of the Closure, but it was not true to say that there had been any discussion of the important points as to whether the experience by the House of the Sessional Orders warranted it at this moment in taking this step. He therefore regretted that the right hon. Gentleman had thought fit to move this Motion formally without giving any reasons for the course he asked the House to take. The Resolution was entirely different from that which had stood on the paper in the name of the right hon. Gentleman for some time. It proposed to make five Sessional Orders into Standing Orders, and to repeal Standing Orders 10 and 1l—action which was, 857 no doubt, consequentially necessary on the conversion of the Sessional Orders into Standing Orders. But it also imported entirely new and original matter. It proposed to repeal Standing Orders 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8, which had nothing whatever to do with the Sessional Orders under consideration. He did not know on what principle the right hon. Gentleman could put all these things into one and the same Resolution, but they being there he would have liked to have had some explanation. That, however, was not forth-coming, and he must deal with the Resolution as it stood.
First, he would remark that the Standing Orders which it was proposed to repeal raised some serious questions. They dealt with the morning sittings, with the priority of the Orders of the day, and with Supply on Friday, two of them raising the whole question as between Wednesday and Friday, and the others the dinner-hour interval. But he did not propose to deal with those at all. His proposition was two-fold. First, he held that at this peroid of the Session, and in the present exceptional circumstances, the House ought not to be asked to take the very serious decision which was involved in making these provisions Standing Orders; next, that the House had nothing like the adequate experience of the Sessional Orders to warrant it taking this serious step. The sittings in which they were now engaged were entirely exceptional—they were undertaken for the purpose of considering the Education Bill; they were held after the Appropriation Act had been passed, and they should have been confined to the consideration of the Education Bill. But that had not been so. There had been the consideration of the Brussels Convention; new Supply had been set up, and another Appropriation Act had been passed. Thses matters had taken up much of the time of the House. The present sittings of the House had, moreover, undoubtedly caused a great stress to be put on Members, and at the end of the sittings on the Education Bill there was still a great deal of work to do. The Education Bill had still to be read a third time, and it was possible when it came back from the other House they would have a great deal more work to do. There was, too, the London Water Bill to be passed, and in consequence of the stress put 858 upon them, especially by the Education Bill Members had not had time to prepare themselves for the debates on the proposal now before them. He thought that the Government were making a very unwise proposal. They had had practically no experience of the Sessional Orders now proposed to be made Standing Orders.
The least contentious of them was that which gave the Speaker the power to adjourn the House at his discretion. That was passed on the 17th February; others were passed on 11th and 28th April, and two not later than the 1st May, so that of these latter ones they had only had sixty-five days ordinary session experience. These Sessional Orders were more or less revolutionary, and the experience of them had been so short that it was not sufficient to warrant the House in making them binding on its proceedings for ever. The Order which gave the Speaker power to adjourn the House without Question put, in case of grave disorder, or to suspend the sitting was a most portentous provision. It contemplated a state of things in which had never yet occurred, and a kind of Speaker who had never sat in that Chair. It contemplated a state of things in which Members were in a state of riot and violence, and the Speaker so distracted that he could think of nothing but flight. What a picture! He did not believe that any necessity of that kind would ever arise in the House. It never had arisen. He did not believe that in the lifetime of any of them they would ever see both the Speaker and House lose their heads together. Yet the Government manifestly contemplated such scenes of violence, and he was inclined to think that the sort of attitude they were adopting, and the sort of system they were inaugurating, were such as might conceivably lead to the scenes they were providing for by the Sessional Order. The Kind of autocracy that was beginning to be shown, the militarism, the processionalism, the medallism, and the whole mach nery by which it seemed to be sought to substitute an autotcracy for free Government were in such full swing that he knew not what might befal them, and what might be the effect on the people and, through them, on the House. It might be that the 859 Government was providing for the danger which it contemplated as likely to arise in the immediate future. He could only remind the House that on the last occasion on which a Speaker tried to adjourn the House without Question put he was held down in the chair by two Members, and scenes of the greatest possible violence ensued. Instead, therefore, of being calculated to assuage violence, this Order might add to the difficulties of legislation and violence of the scenes. He need not deal further with that, however, as he did not think the Order would ever be brought into action, unless, indeed, the Government contemplated a course which he should be sorry to see them adopt. This was however, the Standing Order to which he had the least objection.
The next Order as to priority of business was an important one, because it divided the time between the Government and the private Members. During many centuries the rule of the House had been that the principal persons to be considered were not the placemen who sat on the Front Bench, but the free representatives of the country, who sat on the other Benches, and the House gave effect to this view of the relative importance of the two sets by allocating three-fifths of the time to private Members and two-fifths to the placemen who formed the Government. Under this Sessional Order this had been very much changed. There were now nine sittings a week, and the House sat forty hours weekly. Before Easter the private Member was to have eleven and a half out of the forty hours, after Easter eight and a half, after Whitsuntide nothing, and after Michaelmas eight and a half again. That was laid down by the Order. Thus before Easter the private Member was to get from one- third to one-fourth, before Whitsuntide something between one-fourth and one-fifth, and after Whitsuntide nothing. But the Government this year had arranged matters very differently. The Government began taking priority for its Procedure Rules on the 30th January on every day except Wednesday, and no sooner had the House met on the 16th October than it took the whole time for Government business. As a matter of fact, what had the private 860 Member had this year? The House met on 16th January; it had sat 166 days, but 28 of those had consisted of two sittings. Adding the 28 to the 166, the House had had 194 sittings. Now, if private Members had had what was given to them by the Sessional Order, they would have had 40 sittings out of 194. As a matter of fact, they had only had 18, or about one-tenth of the whole. On the introduction of the Rule the First Lord of the Treasury admitted that he was going to deprive the private Member to a large extent of most of his privileges, but said the consolation would be that what was left to the private Member would really be left to him as it never had been before. But it was not so. The one consolation left to him had been withdrawn.
*MR. GIBSON BOWLES
I am afraid the right hon. Gentleman does not pay that attention which he would if my speeches did not bore him so much. As I have said, there have been 194 sittings, and under this Sessional Order the private member would have been entitled to 40.
*MR. GIBSON BOWLES
said he was showing what the effect on the whole session had been of the action of the Government in conjunction with the Standing Order, but since 5th May, when this particular Sessional Order came into force—
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Is there a single evening sitting subsequent to this Order coming into force which the private Members had and of which they have been deprived?
*MR. GIBSON BOWLES
They have only had Wednesday, the 7th, and Friday, 9th May, Wednesday, 14th May, and Fridays, the 6th and the 13th June, and Friday, the 25th July, when the financial relations with Ireland were considered. After Whitsuntide the private Member had had three evenings, and three alone, since this Sessional Order came into force, and has been deprived of all others. After Michaelmas he has had none. Now he hoped the right hon. Gentleman was answered.
*MR. GIBSON BOWLES
If I do not understand the Sessional Order, how are other Members of the House to understand it? He repeated that since the Order came into force private Members had not had the share of time which it gave them, while since October 16th private Members had not had a single evening, although under it they were supposed to have all the Tuesday and Wednesday evening sittings and all Fridays. Therefore, it was perfectly ludicrous to ask the House to pretend to believe that nothing had been taken from them. Everything had been taken from them, except the sittings he had just cited. The Sesional Order which they were told had been arranged so as to make more certain the few remaining privileges the Government had been pleased to leave them, had in operation given them not more, but far less, certainty. The Sessional Order relating to Private Bill legislation was also of very great importance, having regard to the tremendous interests which were involved. The Secretary of State for the Colonies said the subject was surrounded with so much difficulty that it would have to be considered by a Committee, and as a matter of fact the Prime Minister himself, on May 28th, came to the conclusion that it was best to appoint a Select Committee to inquire into the whole subject. That Committee had not yet reported.
*MR. GIBSON BOWELS
asked what was the good of telling them it had been laid on the Table, when not a single Member of the House, except those who signed it, knew its contents. For all effectual purposes the Committee had not yet reported. The House was absolutely ignorant of the nature of the Report, and it might indeed be such as to render it absolutely necessary for them to reconsider this Sessional Order. They could not read into the mind of the hon. Member what his Report was. It was a mockery to come to the House and ask them to adopt this as a Standing Order, and fasten upon the House for all time an Order of so doubtful a character, and so questionable in its effect. It was indecent of the Government not to await the Report of their own Committee before asking them to make that most important Sessional Order, dealing with most tremendous interests, into a Standing Order.
Then he came to the Sessional Order relating to a quorum of the House and its adjournment. To him this was one of the most obnoxious of them all. In all the ninety-eight existing Standing Orders of the House there was no mention whatever of a quorum. A quorum of forty for the House had never been so much as suggested until now. The true quorum was not the forty which was first initiated by the Long Parliament, and which was now considered an adequate representation of this great Assembly. It was a quorum, to use old phrase, of "all or most" of the House, or of one-half the House, plus one, which all the civilised nations had taken from us, and which had been adopted by the United States, France, Belgium, Italy, and Spain. Hatsell told us that in 1607 on the 20th April "no Bill was read this day, and the House arose at ten o'clock, being not above three score." That House consisted of 470 Members, so that one-eighth was not considered enough to read a Bill in those days, whereas one-sixteenth was considered sufficient now. The evil precedent set by the Long Parliament was one of which the House was so ashamed that it had never put it into its Standing Orders. But this Sessional Order 863 in reality abolished the quorum altogether from nine to ten o'clock. Without this Order, if the House were counted and there were not forty Members present, it would at once be adjourned, and the Bill under discussion would become a dropped Order. But, according to this Order, they might count as much as they liked, but the House did not adjourn. They went on, quorum or no quorum. It was a quorum which was no quorum, and a House which was no House. There was a division; the figures showed that there were not forty Members present; and then, forsooth! they who were not good enough for the immediate business were to be good enough for the next. If on the next Bill another division took place and still forty Members were not present, the House at once proceeded to the third Bill. Was there anything out of comic opera equal to that? His right hon. friend, in introducing this extraordinary proposal, gave this reason—It will be remembered that the controversial Private Bill procedure comes on at nine o'clock. It will be hard on promoters if it is in the power of any hon. Member to call attention to the fact that forty Members are not present; and the plan we have suggested is that no 'count' shall be allowed before ten o'clock.According to the right hon. Gentleman the reason for this Sessional Order was that it was to preserve the rights of those interested in Private Bill business. The suggestion was that if a Private Bill involving great interests to the public and the promoters came on at nine o'clock, and someone suddenly counted out the House, the Bill would disappear, and that it could be heard of no more. That was not so. The Private Bill would become a dropped Order, but it could be set up again next day. The promoters had only to go to the Private Bill Office to have that done. He did not know but that the Chairman of Committee of Ways and Means could do it. The Bill would be no worse off with out this Order than with it. Therefore the only reason, or rather pretence of a reason, assigned by the right hon. Gentleman entirely disappeared, and the Sessional Order stood in all its naked absurdity and repulsive nonsense. That clearly was not the real reason. What was the real reason? The real reason manifestly was that when they had made a dinner interval and turned Members out of the House at half-past seven, they could not expect them to come 864 back before ten o'clock—or that if this was expected they would not come. Of course the making of such a Sessional Order as this was an encouragement not to come back before ten o'clock. An hon. Member would say, "They can't ruin the Empire until ten o'clock, and therefore at ten o'clock I shall go back, but not before." It had so acted. This Government, which had a majority of 130—or, rather he understood that on account of recent events it was now 128—had had its majority reduced to 17 when a division was taken soon after nine o'clock.
Let the Government consider the whole effect of their Sessional Orders. Were they adopted merely for the humour of the moment and the occasional convenience of the present Government, or were they considered with respect to the probable general future of the House? Surely they must know that under an Order such as this no Government would ever be safe between nine and ten that had a majority of under 100. For that reason he should have expected that the Whips of the Government would have thought that this Order should receive reconsideration from the point of view of the Government themselves. Surely it was not one which should be passed in a hurry, and with so small an experience of it as that which they had had.
The whole of the Standing Orders, Sessional Orders and Rules embodied in the Book laid on the Table of the House were contradictory, inconsistent and confused. They were altered from time to time with nobody knowing of the alteration. They were really in a state of absolute chaos. It was necessary for the credit of the House, and for the information of Members who desired to know under what sort of law they were living, that the whole of the Orders and Rules should be reconsidered, that they should be co-ordinated so as to be made consistent with one another, and that they should be put in such a form that they could be understood by the newest of new Members. That could only be done with a little leisure. He would suggest—if indeed it were of any use to suggest anything—that they should pass the repeal of Standing Orders 4 to 8, which were consequential to the Standing Orders already adopted, and that, as to the rest of the 865 Sessional Orders these should be re-introduced next session. They had never yet had a whole session's experience of these Orders. They ought to have a session's experience as to how they did work, and then at the end of the session they could be proposed as Standing Orders. That, it appeared to him, would have been a reasonable course to take.
In regard to the Supply Rule, the hon. Member said it was a remarkable instance of the careless and inconsiderate way in which the Rules altogether were drawn, and of the contradiction and chaos he had mentioned. It said—On a day so allotted [of Supply] no other business than the Business of Supply shall be taken.On the other hand the Order relating to "Private Business" said—All private business which is set down for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, and is not disposed of by fifteen minutes after Two of the clock shall, without Question put, be postponed until such time as the Chairman of Ways and Means may determine.The two rules were inconsistent. If the Chairman of Waysand Means determined that private business should stand over to the evening sitting on an allotted Supply might it was inconsistent with the Supply Rule, which said that on a day allotted for Supply "no business other than the business of Supply shall be taken before midnight." Yet it had happened twice or three times that private business had been taken on the evening of a day allotted for Supply, and that had been done in direct contradiction, of this Sessional Order. He did not think his right hon. friend the First Lord of the Treasury could have contemplated this because he made a great point of the fact that nothing but Supply should be taken on a Supply day, and that Supply should be all over by twelve o'clock. He thought he had shown that the intention of the Standing Order had been defeated—he did not say improperly—and that business other than that of Supply had been taken on an allotted day. Moreover, there was another point in the Supply Order to which he desired to direct attention. It said—Any additional Estimate for any new 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.866 Well, in Committee of Supply during these very sittings they had had additional matter which was not included in the original Estimates, nor submitted two days before, but more then two months after the Committee had been closed. He was not saying that it was out of order. Heaven forbid that he should suggest a construction of the Rule which would be difficult for His Majesty's Government, but he did say that what had been done was absolutely contrary to the direct meaning of the Rule as he understood it. Surely if ever a Rule required a little reconsideration it was this. Then the seventh paragraph of this Sessional Order which provided for the guillotine, not merely of Votes but of whole classes of Votes at once, was entirely new and wholly revolutionary, because it denied the House of Commons the power of saying "Aye" on one Vote , and "No" on another. It had never been suggested or proposed before. That also was a matter for reconsideration.
As the House would have seen he had avoided raising any questions of formality. The matters he had dealt with were matters of substance. They affected the credit of the House, and the character of its work. The forms and traditions of this House, and above all then these secured adequate debate, and even lengthy discussion, were the very guarantee of the character of the work the House did. It was because it was felt that, at any rate, matters had been thoroughly thrashed out, and well debated, that it had had its distinguishing character of finality. No doubt it was tempting for a Minister to say: "I want to pass the Bill rapidly, and therefore, I will closure, closure, closure the Clauses—the whole of them from beginning to end." But if they adopted that system the result would be that the same confidence would not be felt in the finality of their legislation, and a Bill thus easily passed in one year would be as easily repealed in the next. He was not content to see this House become the slave of any Government, not even of the present Government. He was not content to see it become the pliant and powerless instrument either of the dangerous dreams of anarchist adventurers, or of the sickly rapacity of decadent reactionaries. The central principle of our Constitution was that the proposals of 867 Ministers should be subjected to the free voice and criticism of the people. It was in this House alone that voice and that criticism could be heard. This House was the central citadel of the Constitution, and if they allowed their outworks to be undermined, then the citadel which had withstood the assaults of a race of giants might be demolished by the feeble efforts of a race of pigmies, and they themselves be stoned with the ruins of their own defences.
§ (3.15.) MR. LOUGH () Islington, W.
said that he should have expected that before the House was asked to adopt such a sweeping suggestion the right hon. Gentleman would have given some argument in its favour. The few words which the right hon. Gentleman let fall were of a most disheartening character to hon. Members who had been working for 195 sittings. The right hon. Gentleman said that if his Resolutions were not passed all their labours would be wholly wasted. He really thought that that was a preposterous statement. Why did the right hon. Gentleman make the new Rules Sessional Orders if he did not intend to give the House an opportunity of trying them?
§ MR. LOUGH
said that the proposal to make the Rules Standing Orders might be made at any time; and he would urge that it would be a most drastic proceeding to make them Standing Orders without having given the House and opportunity of testing them. The Supply Rule was invented by the right hon. Gentleman about seven years ago, and he thought it was a most disastrous invention; but for four years, in order to give it a full trial, it remained a Sessional Order. Surely, if the right hon. Gentleman thought it right to allow that interval in the case of the Supply Rule, the House should be given an opportunity of testing the Rules now before the House, before they were made Standing Orders. The right hon. Gentleman asked the House, without any explanation, to do away with six Standing 868 Orders, two of which had been in existence for forty years, and the others from ten to fourteen years. He thought that was a case of throwing away the dirty water before getting in the clean. At least they might keep the old Orders until they were quite sure that they had got something better in their place. The hon. Gentleman who had just spoken made a most excellent suggestion—viz., that the matter should be referred to a Committee. He would ask the Prime Minister whether he would consider that suggestion, which was a most moderate one, and which would not give the right hon. Gentleman a fall. He had no doubt that the House would receive from such a deliberative body Resolutions which would be far better than those now proposed. The point he wished to take was that in the present state of the House and at the present time of the session, it was monstrous that they should be asked to establish new Standing Orders. The House today was one of the thinnest they had had during the session; one important section, namely, the Irish Members, who were deeply interested in all the Standing Orders, was absent. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why?"] It did not matter why. Why were not the supporters of the Government present? It was because they were worn out and exhausted by their prolonged labours. Very few possessed the iron constitutions that would enable them to attend nearly 200 sittings in one year. Although one important section of the House was absent, it was proposed to make these crude and far-reaching experiments Standing Orders. It seemed to him that that would be an improper thing to do, and that more time should be allowed for the new Rules to be tried. The Prime Minister interrupted the hon. Gentleman opposite when he said that there had been no opportunity for examining the new Rules. The right hon. Gentleman said that they were adopted in May; but the session was an extraordinary session, and nothing had been normal in it. Therefore, the trial given to the new Rules was practically worthless. What really ought to be done was to postpone the consideration of the matter until March, 1904; and if the new Rules worked well during the next session, 869 the Prime Minister would have a case for making them Standing Orders. The session was interrupted by the Coronation, by the business the Government proposed, and by the pressure they applied. Moreover, one of the Rules—that relating to private business—was adopted when the pressure of private business was over, and the House had had no experience of how it would work. Then, in reference to the Supply Rule, on every occasion on which the right hon. Gentleman brought it forward, he had opposed it, as he believed that its adoption destroyed the efficiency of the control of the House over Supply. He had no objection to the Closure, controlled by the Minister responsible or by the Chair. He believed that the Closure was absolutely necessary for the successful conduct of debate; but the setting up of the guillotine was an entirely different thing. He believed that no business transacted in the House under the shadow of the guillotine was well transacted. For the past fortnight the House had been working under the guillotine; and would any hon. Memberargue that good work had been done during that period? It was said in reference to the Supply Rule, that after all the House had twenty-one days, even with the guillotine at the end, and that no harm resulted. He held an entirely different opinion. Since the Rule came into operation the debates in Supply had been perfectly worthless. Ministers did not trouble to make replies to the points which were raised, as they knew that the guillotine remained. It would not be in order for him to refer to the inordinate growth in the national expenditure, but he believed it was closely connected with the working of the Supply Rule. He would ask the Prime Minister whether the House should not be afforded a further opportunity of testing the Rule before such a drastic change was made a Standing Order. He imagined that it was because the right hon. Gentleman was not quite clear as to the business to be brought on that he submitted his Motion; and he would ask whether the right hon. Gentleman would not consent to the appointment of a Committee to consider the whole subject.
To leave out all the words after the word 'that.' to the end of the Question, and add the
words, 'it is inexpedient at this period of the session, and without further experience of the Resolutions agreed to as Sessional Orders on 17th February, 11th April, 28th April, and 1st May, to consider a proposal that such Resolutions be Standing Orders of the House."'—(Mr. Gibson Bowles.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words 'that the Resolutions dealing with' stand part of the Question."—(Mr. Gibson Bowles.)
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said he had been reproached by the hon. Member who moved the Amendment for not having introduced his Motion with an elaborate statement of the reasons which had induced him to make it. The reason he did not adopt the course suggested by the hon. Gentleman was that he had made a very large number of speeches of the Sessional Rules before. They had been fully discussed by the House, and he was not aware of any argument which he desired to urge which he had not had an opportunity of urging. He had not the same affection for his own speeches which the hon. Gentleman had for his; therefore, he did not see why he should weary either the House or himself by repeating a twice-told tale; and he thought it more respectful to his hon. friend and to the House to wait until he had heard the character of the attack about to be developed against the procedure the House was asked to adopt. Candidly he confessed he had heard no argument which the House had not previously heard fully developed during the many days the Sessional Rules were discussed; and, consequently, it was hardly possible for him to impart any novelty into the debate that afternoon. He wished to correct before he went further, one extraordinary Mistake into which the hon. Gentleman who had just spoken seemed to have fallen. The hon. Gentleman regarded—he was about to say he affected to tegard—the procedure of turning Sessional into Standing Orders as an exception to the general practice of the House. The hon. Gentleman said: "We have had six months experience; cannot you give us a little more time?" The constant practice of the House where they had passed an Order which they desired to be a Standing Order, had 871 been to make it a Sessional Order, and then pass the consequent Resolution turning it into a Standing Order.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
asked if, because in that particular case he adopted that plan, the whole of the preceding practice of the House was to be thrown on one side, and an entirely novel procedure adopted. The great revolution of the Closure which Mr. Gladstone introduced into their procedure in 1883, was passed on November 24th, in an Autumn session, and Mr. Gladstone moved that it be made into a Standing Order three days later, on the 27th. A series of new Rules, passed by Mr. W. H. Smith, were finished on March 7th, and they were finished on March 7th and they were made Standing Orders on the same day without division. That was the practice of the House, and he could not understand how, on the ground of precedent, any objection could be taken to the course the Government now proposed. Coming to the criticisms of the hon. Member for King's Lynn, his bitter complaint of broken pledges on the part of the Government with regard to rights of private Members—
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
said he had not intended to suggest that the pledge had been broken. He had intended to show, and thought he had shown, that the Rules had not worked out according to the expectations of the right hon. Gentleman.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
accepted the hon. Gentleman's statement, and said his suggestion as to the operation of the Rules on the rights of private Members was wholly mistaken. The Rules, as regarded the rights of private Members, had had little time to work, because of the late date at which they had come into operation. The Rule was intended to secure for private Members two nights a week before Easter, one night between Easter and Whitsuntide, all Fridays to Whitsuntide, and two Fridays after that date. That was the plan of the Rule. As it only came into operation on May 5th, it was obvious that even if the Government had wished to rob private 872 Members they could not do so. So far as the Rule had been tried, it had worked out as intended; and private Members had had their right preserved, as he hoped they would have in the future. Nothing that had yet occurred had shaken his conviction that the Government had, in this Rule, as regards private Members rights replaced illusory privileges by rights which were smaller nominally in extent, but were much more likely to be preserved. As to the suggestion that private Members' rights should revive after Michaelmas, such a plan never occurred to anybody out of an asylum. The necessity of an Autumn session was a cruel and hard one; it was a necessity which no Government would be coerced into except by special circumstances, and when a Government did ask the House to come together in the Autumn it was not for the purpose of hearing abstract Resolutions discussed by private Members two nights in a week, but for the purpose of absolutely necessary Government business. He thought it plausible that the Government should be required to say what they were going to do, and to give some general idea as to the general necessity on which they justified imposing additional labour upon the House after Michaelmas, and therefore the word had been introduced when it was proposed as an Amendment; but he absolutely denied that it was ever contemplated that the plan in operation before Easter should revive in an Autumn session, so as to have two nights then for abstract discussions and Fridays for private Members' Bills. Then the hon. Member for King's Lynn objected to the Rule dealing with Private Bill legislation, and said how shocking it was to be asked to make this Rule permanent before the Committee appointed to consider Private Bill legislation had reported. But he did not remind the House that the Rule was deliberately excluded from the consideration of the Committee.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES
said the Prime Minister was overlooking an Amendment to the Resolution appointing the Committee—an Amendment the right hon. Gentleman had himself accepted.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
maintained that even in the amended form no difference 873 was made to his contention. The Committee were to consider the method of dealing with Private Bill Legislation subject to this change. The next Rule to which his hon. friend objected was the Rule dealing with a quorum, and there he was on ground where he always enjoyed himself. He was discussing the long Parliament, and what he regarded as the true constitutional doctrine by which this House ought to regulate its behaviour; and one of his objections, he understood, was that the Rule embodied in a concrete form the old practice of the Houses that forty was a quorum, so that if there were not forty present the Houses could not vote. Surely a precedent that went back 262 years to the Long Parliament ought to satisfy his hon. friend and other opponents on the ground of ancient usage. His hon. friend insisted on having an absolute majority. That would be a change indeed, and if seriously desired would amply justify the wish of any hon. Member that not too much business should be accomplished. In arguing that the Rule did not encourage attendance before ten, the hon. Member made a great point of one division in which the Government was only in a majority of seventeen. The average of Members voting in divisions, taken in the three-quarters of an hour after nine o'clock during the Autumn session, was 200, therefore there was experimental proof that the Rule did not empty the House between nine and ten o'clock and there was no reason why an excellent Rule should not become part of the machinery of debate. No doubt it was perfectly true, as the hon. Gentleman pointed out, that the practice of amending Rules bit by bit as necessity arose led to a collection of dicta extremely difficult to comprehend, and, with advantage, the Rules might be redrafted, and the task of redrafting them might with advantage be left to a Committee. But he went much further than his hon. friend proposed to go, because one of the new Rules which he had proposed, when passed, would greatly consolidate the power of the House. He thought the redrafting of the Rules might very well be referred to a Committee, on much the same conditions as he had proposed in the new Rule for 874 Consolidation Bills. It was no use sending the Rules to a Committee if they were to be considered Clause by Clause as they came back to the House. The various Rules must be run into a coherent mould and the House must deliberately abstain from redrafting the details or discussing the principles of its own Standing Orders. He understood his hon. friend to object to that. All he could say was that as long as he objected he would never see the end attained that he desired. No Government were going to occupy the whole session, not in altering the substance or improving the details of the Rules, but merely in redrafting them. If they were going to send ,the Rules to a Committee, and then, when the Rules came back, have the right to discuss the principle and language of every Rule they would have to spend not merely an ordinary session, but also an Autumn session over the business.
§ MR. BRYCE () Aberdeen, S.
asked whether, if it was found necessary to make some minute change which did not affect the general consolidation, the right hon. Gentleman would allow the Committee to report that matter separately, so that it could be discussed.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said the right hon. Gentleman had probably missed what he said, Viz., that the kind of machinery that he had proposed for Consolidation Bills might with advantage be used for redrafting the Rules of the House.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN () Stirling Burghs
asked whether the right hon. Gentleman would explain than machinery.
§ *MR. SPEAKER
I must say that this is opening up an entirely new question, and it would offer a wide field of argument, which is not covered by the present Motion.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said he had been betrayed into mentioning the point, with out in the least intending to develop it, by some observations of his hon. friend. He gladly dropped the subject, and was 875 sorry he had gone so far. In conclusion, he would make one practical observation. The House could not avoid passing these Rules without plunging its whole system of Standing Orders for the next session into hopeless confusion, and the session would have to be spent in trying to clean up the mess. That was neither business nor commonsense. His hon. friend was anxious for the right of private Members. But if these Rules were dropped, the House would have to meet early next year and spend next session as it had spent this, during which time private Members would have no rights whatever except on Wednesdays. He really did not think the matter required argument. The House had spent a very large amount of important Parliamentary time in discussing and rediscussing with, as he thought, unnecessary minuteness, these provisions. He asked the House not to let all that trouble be absolutely wasted, but to embody the changes in the constitution of the House. In his opinion the changes had worked extremely well. Heavy as had been the labour thrown on the House, it would have been much heavier without these Rules. He would not say a word as to the general merits of the whole scheme of the Government, but he did say that not to pass these five new Standing Orders would be to throw upon Parliament next session an absolutely unnecessary burden of new work, or rather, of old work revived and to be re-done—a proceeding which would be utterly unworthy of the traditions of a business-like Assembly.
§ (3.50.) MR. VICARY GIBBS () Hertfordshire, St. Albans
contended that the complaint that the House had not had sufficient experience of the working of the new Rules was a legitimate criticism now to make. The order with regard to opposed private business admittedly dealt with a most important matter. If the Committee, about the reference to which the Prime Minister and the hon. Member for King's Lynn had a slight controversy, was to consider the condition of private business, subject to this change, it could not very well help considering the change itself. It could not report that the change was a bad one, but it could find that private business worked extremely badly subject to the 876 change, which came to much the same thing. During the autumn sittings, with the exception of the question of the "Tubes," the House had had no opposed private business of importance to deal with. That was partly due to the fact that the time fixed for private business was an inconvenient one to Parliamentary agents and others. He agrees that the House ought not to be controlled by those agents, but it would be a serious matter if private business were driven upstairs outside the purview of the House and conducted entirely in Committee, without the House having the opportunity of reviewing questions which, though private in form were public in character. Railway and Country Council Bills dealt with questions of great public importance, which ought to be carefully considered by the House itself, but he believed that this new Rule would end to discourage that sort of business from coming before the House at all. At any rate, sufficient time had not yet elapsed to show whether or not that would be its effect. He based his claim not on precedent, but on commonsense. Then as to the quorum. he thought the Rule regarding that matter ought not yet to be made a Standing Order. The quorum was an extremely low one. He did not advocate the foreign quorums, but other Assemblies certainly had in their high quorums a check against rash and reckless legislation, which the House of Commons did not possess. The whole of this quorum question really turned on the dinner-hour interval, and that had not yet been properly tested.
§ *MR. SPEAKER
reminded the hon. Member that the question of the dinner hour interval did not arise on the Resolution before the House.
MR. BRYNMOR JONES () Swansea, District
asked whether, inasmuch as the Motion proposed to repeal Standing Orders 4 to 8, the hon. Member would not be in order in arguing in favour of those Standing Orders as against the new Proposals.
§ *MR. SPEAKER
No. The Motion proposes to repeal certain Standing.
877 Orders on the ground that they are inconsistent with the Standing Orders which the House has voted. It is the same as with the repeal schedules in a Bill, upon which you may discuss whether or not the enactments proposed to be repealed are really inconsistent with the new Bill, but you cannot again discuss the merits of the Bill itself.
§ MR. VICARY GIBBS
said he had no intention of developing the point; he desired to confine himself to saying that the quorum rule was framed in order to give Members a dinner interval, and the two questions really stood or fell together as far as the work of the House was concerned. He looked upon this Rule as the least considered, worst drafted, and most undesirable of all, and therefore strongly hoped the Prime Minister would see his way to except it from the Motion. Where there was not a sufficient quorum present, then there could be no discussion. because the numbers present were insufficient and did not fairly represent the House. What were they going to do with these Rules? They might commence with a Bill like the Wild Birds Preservation Bill, discuss it for twenty minutes, and then have a division. Then they might turn to another Bill, discuss it for twenty minutes, and again find that they had not enough Members present to deal with it. Then they might fly to the Home Rule Bill and discuss it at their leisure. This was no distortion or twisting of the words of this Standing Order. Then there was the Business in Supply Rule, which he protested against when it was introduced. He regretted that at the end of one of the most punishing sessions which they had ever gone through a proposal of this kind should be introduced.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
said his right hon. friend had given them his reasons for choosing this day—which he admitted was probably the only available day this session—for inviting the House to turn these Sessional Orders into Standing Orders. Some hon. Members might have it in their recollection that when the First Lord of the Treasury brought foward his scheme for the 878 revision of the Rules he moved an Amendment that the whole matter should be referred to a Select Committee. They would then have had an opportunity of discussing all these points which in themselves might apparently be trivial, yet when considered in the mass were quite necessary for the good working of the business of the House of Commons and the maintenance of the rights of hon. Members of the House. At that time he contended that before the House proceeded to alter the Rules it should have the advantage of the experience of some of the most important Members of the House. His Amendment was attacked and derided as being entirely out of the question, but he thought events had shown that not much time would have been lost, and a good deal of heat and misunderstanding would have been saved if that particular course had been followed. They had already spent a great many days over these Rules, and he sympathised and also associated himself with the right hon. Gentleman in the wish that the House should not be called upon again unnecessarily to go over exactly the same ground in regard to these particular Rules as they went over before, but he did not imagine that that would be likely to occur in any case. He would quote as a reason this long and complicated Sessional Order with regard to Supply, which was very much opposed by some hon. Members, and, no doubt, approved of by others. It had been renewed session after session to the best of his recollection, and no very long time had been required by the House in discussing it. Speeches were made and perhaps a division might have been taken, but no great amount of time had been wasted in the renewal of this Standing Order. How did they stand? These Rules, the merits of which he was not now going to discuss, were really vital in their effect upon the rights of private Members, and in regard to the rights of hon. Members at large. He should have thought that it would at least have been of great advantage and assistance to the House if they could have had a much longer experience of the working of these Rules than they had had. This had been altogether an exceptional session. These Rules were not passed until that portion of the session, which was particularly the private Members' part, 879 had gone, and now they were asked to bind themselves by these Rules for all time. He should have thought that there were two alternatives, one of which might have been adopted—one was that they should trust the House to renew these Rules at the beginning of the next session; and the other alternative was to give the House an easy opportunity of reviewing the step it was now asked to take. Would it not be possible to pass these Rules for a period of one or two years for the express purpose of giving the House an opportunity of judging as to their effect. As regarded the disposition of the time of private Members, they had practically had no experience at all of the Rule. The apportionment of the time for the real discussion of private Bills was now, in certain cases, left to the Chairman of Committees. They did not know yet how that arrangement would work, for the Rule had very seldom come into operation. If he might say so, with all due respect to the Chairman, he thought it was rather a risky Rule. The additional fact had been disclosed in the course of this short debate that there was a Committee sitting not upon this Rule itself, because it was unnecessary to make the Rule the basis of the inquiry, but that Committee might throw a great deal of light upon the question which might induce the House to alter or modify the Rule itself. They had not received the report of the Committee yet, and it was no answer to say that the Committee was appointed to consider the question subject to the provisions of that Rule, because the result of their inquiry must serve to guide the House with regard to the propriety of the Rule. As for the quorum, no one could say that the hour between nine and ten o'clock was a satisfactory element in their day's work just now. He had seen Members talking with great prolixity during that time with some object which was left for them to discover. He had seen even the Chancellor of the Exchequer engaged in this operation of making a very much more lengthy speech than was usually expected from him, with a strange habit of always casting his eye up to the clock. The picture which had been drawn by some hon. Members of the series of divisions which might be taken, and the rapid passing in consequence of the smallness of the numbers to some fresh subject, did not redound either to the credit or to the practical efficiency of 880 the House. He was not going to enter into the question of the dinner hour, but undoubtedly the main object of this new arrangement as to a quorum was to provide sufficient elbow room and elasticity for those who dined. It was one of his great objections to many of these Rules that they regarded the convenience and comfort of Members rather than the public services. This Rule might be one of those instances. He would now pass on to the Rule in regard to Supply. He admitted that in regard of this Rule they had had a good deal of experience, but yet, for his own part, he shrank from making it a permanent Order. His great objection to the Rule as it stood was not so much the guillotine, or its ludicrous closing of Supply, but it was the effect of the Rule upon the whole proceedings of Supply. From the beginning to the end of the session, the Government of the day—he did not say the present Government in particular but any Government—did not care two straws what the time of the House was occupied upon, for each Minister knew that when his vote was put down he had only to sit on the Bench opposite, look wise, and stand the racket as well, because he knew the thing would come to an end at some fixed time or other. Whether the discussion was upon one point in his administration or another, if the day was given to the discussion, whether it was the Board of Trade or the Home Office Vote, at the end of the discussion the Minister could shut up his box with satisfaction and go away, knowing that for the next twelve months he had a clean sheet. He did not think that such a Rule conduced to the efficient working of the Committee of Supply. The Government was considered to be entitled to say "Here are your 23 or 25 days for Supply and do what you like with them. What does it matter to us? Some hon. Members wish to talk about one thing and some about another—settle it amongst yourselves. What does it matter to the Government? We are here to answer your questions and to make speeches in reply. That is our function and you may do what you like." But that was not the proper way to conduct the Supply business of the House of Commons, and it was fatal to any effective 881 criticism on the part of hon. Members of the House. That was the main objection he had to the scheme of the right hon. Gentleman. Under the old practice, which he admitted was open to the objection that nobody ever knew what business was coming on, at all events the Government knew that if there was an awkward question in connection with a certain Department sooner or later they must face it. But under the new system they might never face it, because when the vote for that Department came on the time might be taken up—possibly by some of the supporters of the Government—discussing some other item, and the real thing of which they were afraid never came before the House. But the two days had been spent, and away went the Minister singing, not coram latrone, but singing because he was free from the ordeal which, under the order of procedure, he would have to pass through. That was a very serious objection to the whole system, and it was on that ground mainly that he was averse from making this a permanent Standing Order. He agreed with the criticisms of the hon. Member for King's Lynn, but the substantial point was that there had not been experience sufficient to justify the making of these Orders permanent. It was desirable that the House should have some further opportunity, either by a Committee, after further experience, or by renewing the Rules for one or two sessions experimentally, of knowing better what it was doing before they were permanently adopted.
MR. JAMES LOWTHER () Kent, Thanet
approved of the suggestion that a limited time should be assigned, say during next session, for the House to have an opportunity of testing the merits or demerits of these new proposals, instead of establishing them as Standing Orders now. There could be no doubt that the present position of the House with regard to these Rules was highly inconvenient and anomalous. Many hon. Members did not know what Rules were in force and what were not. If they were asked now to terminate the suspense and finally close the chapter, he could understand it, but they were told that some of the Rules dealing with most important parts of the subject were to stand over sine die, and not even an attempt made to discuss or 882 consider them during the present session of Parliament. It was desirable that the House should retain an open mind with regard to the Rules as a whole, before those now under consideration were established as Standing Orders. Some of the Rules were in what might be called a mutilated condition, being partly in operation and partly in suspense. There were several of the Rules which could only be said to be of a tentative character until they were completed by the entire passage of the whole scheme. It appeared to be much more reasonable that the House should have an opportunity of seeing how the Rules worked, and that it should not be called upon to convert into Standing Orders experimental suggestions which even the authors of them were doubtful how they would work. He trusted that the House would not be in a hurry in respect of this question.
MR. BRYNMOR JONES
said he agreed with most of the criticisms made by the hon. Member for King's Lynn in the peech in which he moved the Amendment. The real question which the House had now to consider was whether these Sessional Orders ought or ought not to be made Standing Orders. He contended that the burden of proof of that proposition lay upon the Government, and he should like to know whether any member of the Government could quote any precedent for converting Sessional Orders of this character, passed under the circumstances in which these became Orders, into Standing Orders at the end of a session. The earliest of these orders came into operation on 11th April, and the latest on 1st May, and it appeared to him to be quite against the ordinary course of business in this House to attempt to convert the Sessional Orders, passed after the crucial stage of the session had passed, into Standing Orders, especially when they related to what might be called the fundamental Rules of Procedure of the House. He asked the House to consider the arguments which might well be urged against the present proposition were not sufficient either to induce the Government to withdraw the motion, or, at any rate, to limit the application of the Motion to one other session, and take the course of appointing a Committee to consider the whole matter. The first argument on which he based his support of the 883 Amendment was their want of experience of the new Orders. The first of these Sessional Orders gave Mr. Speaker power, if he thought necessary, to adjourn the House without Question put, or to suspend a sitting for a time to be named by him. He was not indisposed to enlarge the powers of Mr. Speaker in case of disturbance arising in the House, but he should like to remind hon. Members that there had been times in the history of the House when Mr. Speaker attempted to leave the Chair against its will, and in obedience to higher orders. He did not wish to go back to the times when the constitutional relations between the Crown and the Houses of Parliament were different from what they were now, but still he thought they ought to be very wary before they parted with their time-honoured privileges by giving, notwithstanding the confidence they might have in any occupant of the Chair, undue power to Mr. Speaker to adjourn the House. He pointed out that the power of adjourning an ordinary sitting was a very different power from that of adjourning the House. He did not believe this Sessional Order had had any adequate discussion. Certainly there had been no experience of its application, and in the interest of the privileges of this House he protested against so grave an alteration as would be involved in making this Order a Standing Order. He would not enlarge upon their want of experience. It was practically admitted by the Prime Minister that these five Orders, passed in what would be mid-session in an ordinary session, had not really been tested from day to day and from week to week. His second argument against making these Sessional Orders Standing Orders was that they would add gravely to the uncertainty of their Rules in regard to the conduct of Parliamentary business. If these were made Standing Orders in the present condition in which the Standing Orders were left as the result of the Resolutions passed in the earlier part of the session, it would be impossible for any Member to ascertain what was the law in regard to the conduct of Parliamentary business. Referring to the rule on "Priority of Business," he said that as it at present stood it might deprive private Members 884 of the time which, he understood form the declarations of the Prime Minister, it was intended they should have. The Rule said—That unless the House otherwise direct—Government Business shall have precedence at every Sitting except the Evening Sittings on Tuesday and Wednesday, and the Sitting on Friday. At the Evening Sittings of Tuesday and Wednesday Notices of Motion and Public Bills, other than Government Bills, shall have precedence of Government Business.He understood from the declaration made by the Prime Minister that the evening Sittings on Tuesday and Wednesday were not to be interfered with in any way.
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT BOARD (Mr. GRANT LAWSON,) Yorkshire, N. R., Thirsk
said this was an arrangement come to and embodied in the Rule.
MR. BRYNMOR JONES
said it was an arrangement forced upon the House. He submitted that these Sessional Orders should not at the present time be converted into Standing Orders. The difficulty of carrying on the business of the House could not be efficiently met by merely reducing the rights of private Members. More drastic measures were necessary. He was not referring to the desirability of devolving private business by some such system as that which applied to Scotland, or the devolving of other business on local bodies in a county or groups of counties; but he did not think the Government in the course they were taking were going the right way to meet what might be called the breakdown of Parliamentary business. In dealing with questions of Supply, why should not the principle of Grand Committees be applied? Why should not the Navy and Army Estimates be sent to a Grand Committee upstairs, and only the Report stage dealt with on the floor of the House? He could not properly go into these matters at present, but in view of all the circumstances he could not vote for making the Sessional Orders Standing Orders.
§ (4.35.) MR. DISRAELI () Cheshire, Altrincham
said he quite agreed with the Prime Minister that there was very little novelty about this discussion, so much time having been devoted to the 885 subject in the early part of the session. No wonder they were here on the 1st of December, looking to the amount of time that had been spent in the discussion of these Rules. There was work enough for a session if only the Rules and one small Bill had been taken. The Prime Minister told them that the House should not waste all the time it had spent by discussing the Rules again next Session. But it was not on the Rules they were discussing today that so much time had been spent. It was on the Rules which they could not discuss and which were not on the Paper that time was spent. He ventured to think the House would find out that there were Rules passed hurriedly which would have to be changed. There were gentlemen on the Treasury Bench who took part in passing the new Rules who were not quite so comfortable now when they came to the working of them. He did not wish to go through the objections he took on a former occasion to the Rules. He thought the House must logically turn these Rules into Standing Orders, although personally he should vote against them. The power given to Mr. Speaker to adjourn the House had rather a foreign flavour. In this House Mr. Speaker had the almost entire confidence of Members, whereas in certain foreign Assemblies the Chairman was the one party who was not considered at all. This Rules was also dangerous, because, as had been pointed our before, an arrangement could be made to create scenes of disorder with the view of avoiding a division which would not be satisfactory to those in possession of the House at the time. He thought the Rule as to "Priority of Business" was most satisfactory. The axis on which the whole of the Rule rotated was the word "Easter." Easter was a movable feast, and therefore it was not a proper time on which to base the working of the Rule from year to year. Some years it might be advantageous to private Members, and other years it would not be. When the question of the Rules relating to private business was under discussion, they were told that the whole matter would be referred to a Committee, and certainly it was understood that the House would have an opportunity of reviewing the Report of the Committee before any steps were taken to make 886 the Sessional Orders Standing Orders of the House. They had not a Report from that Committee, and yet they were ask to make these Rules Standing Orders. What they asked to do now might or might not be satisfactory, but at the present moment they had not got information on the subject. He objected very strongly to the collective closure of Supply. In his opinion it was not so much the old Rules that were at fault as the men who Used them. Let Ministers adapt themselves and the business of the House to the Rules, as many better men had done before them. He should vote against the Motion as a Conservative who wished to see the honour and dignity of the House maintained. This was not to be done by meddling and tinkering with the Rules.
§ MR. HEMPHILL () Tyrone, N.
said that it was an important question which had been raised today, and as he was the only Member from Ireland on either side of the House who had taken part in the debate, he felt it was his bounden duty to enter his protest in behalf of that portion of the United Kingdom against these rules being made Standing Orders, and so stereotyped. The Motion had been sprung upon the House because in the exigencies of the Education Bill, which did not affect Ireland or Scotland, there happened to be a dies non, and it was convenient to the Government to bring forward this important question. He doubted very much whether there were now forty Members present, but he was not going to make a point of that. He would not discuss the different Rules in detail, but he was rather astonished at what appeared to him to be the only argument advanced by the First Lord of the Treasury in justification of his position, namely, that he ought to have moved to make these new Rules Standing Orders in April and May last when they became Sessional Orders. That was no answer to the very able arguments of the hon. Member for King's Lynn. He could understand the right hon. Gentleman's argument if the proposal to make the Rules Standing Orders had been made when the whole discussion was fresh in the minds of Members, but the arguments which were formerly stated had probably escaped their recollection. The very first of the Sessional Orders struck at the root 887 of the independence of the House of Commons. It was repugnant to one's preconceived notions of the independence of the House of Commons that the power of adjourning the House in the way proposed should be conferred on the Speaker, no matter how eminent he might be, and no matter how fully, as in the present case, he might enjoy the confidence of both sides of the House. That should not be made a Standing Order without the utmost deliberation. One of the Rules to which he wished particularly to call their attention was that about Supply. Ireland had just ground to complain of the way she had been treated by this country with regard to financial relations. A Committee of this House had found that Ireland had been overtaxed to the extent of between two and a half and three millions a year. Every new tax that was imposed created a new injustice. Having regard to the finding of that Committee, this new Order for closuring Supply would operate most unjustly to Ireland. This session only three days were allotted to the Irish Estimates. The result was that the guillotine fell upon a large number of Irish Votes without Ireland being able to raise her voice in protest against the injustices inflicted upon her. He objected to that Rule being made a Standing Order in the absence of every Irish Member but himself. If the Irish Members were present, they would oppose it. He strongly deprecated this attempt on the part of the Government to snatch the passage of those Standing Orders in an almost deserted House.
§ COLONEL SANDYS () Lancashire, Bootle
said he considered the Government perfectly justified in bringing forward this proposal. With regard to the grievances of private Members, complaints were frequently made of the time of private Members being taken by the Government. But it seemed to him that the question of Government should be regarded as a whole, and he thought that the parochial questions which were brought forward by private Members would be more appropriately discussed in such a tribunal as the Grand Committee, leaving the time of the House entirely for the consideration of great Imperial matters. With regard to the first of the Rules proposed to be stereotyped as 888 Standing Orders the power of the Speaker to adjourn the House, on appropriate occasion—although it was adopted from the practice of foreign Parliaments, it was a very necessary power, and he heartily supported it as he should the whole of them with one exception. The one Rule to which he objected was the Supply Rule, and although he was going to support the Government on the whole measure, he hoped this point would receive their particular attention at some other time. Supply ought not to be allowed to drag on to the end of the session and then be voted en bloc. The constitutional function of the House was to provide Supplies for the carrying on of the business of the country. It was its duty to discuss every one of these Votes, to inquire how it was proposed to spend the money, and to reject it if necessary; but that duty it could not discharge if numbers of the Votes were carried en bloc at the end of the session. Apart from that, he thought the new Rules were wise and salutary.
§ MR. BRYCE
admitted the difficulty of keeping the Rules as they now were, but he thought that it was far better to continue the temporary arrangement for some time longer that for the House to commit themselves irrevocably to the Rules. He therefore hoped that they would be carried over to next session, in order to give hon. Members an opportunity of reconsidering their merits. There was one group of Rules in which the House certainly required more experience—namely, those affecting the sittings of the House. He believed the Rule fixing the sitting of the House at 2 o'clock was disapproved of on both sides of the House. Many Members were debarred from attending before 4 o'clock, and it was impossible for a Minister to attend to his Departmental work properly when he had to be in the House at 2 o'clock. He protested against its being supposed that the House generally acquiesced in that arrangement, and he hoped the House would take the earliest opportunity of reconsidering it.
§ MR. LAMBERT (Devonshire,) South Molton
said this was a very unsatisfactory method of dealing with the Rules, 889 as was shown by the fact that for some hours less that thirty Members had been present, and four out of every five who had spoken upon them form the Unionist side were against making them Standing Orders. He supposed, however, it was useless to make any further appeal to the Government upon the subject. He protested against the Rules being made permanent, and would suggest that the Government should adopt the plan of the Leader of the Opposition, and continue them as temporary Rules until January, 1904, and so give the House a further opportunity of reconsidering them.
§ said by the Leader of the Opposition. His desire that more time should be given for the consideration of these Rules was very much strengthened by arguing by analogy from the new Rules which had already been made Standing Orders, which had in many respects proved inconvenient. He could not but think that the only Conservative in this matter sitting on the Front Benches was the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition.
§ (5.12.) Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 144; Noes, 60. (Division List No. 601.)891
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Flower, Ernest||Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)|
|Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel||Forster, Henry William||Nicholson, William Graham|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Foster, PhilipS.(Warwick, S. W||Palmer, Walter (Salisbury)|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Gardner, Ernest||Parker, Sir Gilbert|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Garfit, William||Percy, Earl|
|Bagot, Capt. Josceline FitzRoy||Godson, Sir Augustus Frederick||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Gordon, MajEvans-(T"rH'ml'ts||Purvis, Robert|
|Baird, John Geroge Alexander||Gore, Hn G. R. C. Ormsby-(Salop||Pym, C. Guy|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (Manch'r||Gore, Hn. S. F. Ormsby-(Linc.||Rasch, Major Frederic Carne|
|Balfour, Rt. HnGerald W. (Leeds)||Goschen, Hon. George Joachim||Rattigan, Sir William Henry|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Renshaw, Sir Charles Bine|
|Barry, Sir Francis T. (Windsor)||Graham, Henry Robert||Ridley, Hn. M. W.(Stalybridge|
|Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benjamin||Greene, Sir EW(B'ryS Edm'nds||Ridley, S. Forde(Bethnal Green|
|Beresford, Lord Chas. William||Greene, W. Raymond-(Cambs.||Ritchie, Rt. Hon. Chas. Thomson|
|Bignold, Arthur||Gretton, John||Ropner, Colonel Sir Robert|
|Bigwood, James||Greville, Hon. Ronald||Rothschild, Hon. Lionel Walter|
|Bond, Edward||Halsey, Rt. Hon. Thomas F.||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Hamilton RtHnLordG.(Midd'x||Rutherford, John|
|Brookfield, Colonel Montagu||Hay, Hon. Claude George||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford-|
|Brymer, William Ernest||Heath, Arthur Howard(Hanley||Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse)|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Heaton, John Henniker||Sandys, Lieut,-Col. Thos. Myles|
|Cavendish, V. C. W (Derbyshire||Hobhouse, RtHnH(Somerset, E||Seely, Charles Hilton(Lincoln)|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Hogg, Lindsay||Sharpe. William Edward T.|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Howard, John(Kent, Faversh'm||Simeon, Sir Barrington|
|Chamberlain, RtHn. JA (Wore.||Johnstone, Heywood||Sinclair, Louis (Romford)|
|Chapman, Edward||Kenyon, Hon. Geo. T. (Denbigh)||Smith, JamesParker (Lanarks.)|
|Clive, Captain Percy A.||Kimber, Henry||Spear, John Ward|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Knowles, Lees||Spencer, Sir E.(W. Bromwich)|
|Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm.||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)|
|Corbett, T. L.(Down, North)||Lawson, John Grant||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Cox, Irwin Edward Bainbridge||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley|
|Cranborne, Viscount||Leveson-Gower, Frederick N. S.||Sturt, Hon. Humphry Napier|
|Cripps, Charles Alfred||Llewellyn, Even Henry||Talbot, Lord E.(Chichester)|
|Crossley, Sir Savile||Lockwood, Lieut-Col. A. R.||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Tomlinson, Sir Wm. Edw. M.|
|Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter(Bristol, S.||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Davenport, William Bromley-||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Tufnell, Lieut.-Col. Edward|
|Denny, Colonel||Lowe, Francis William||Valentia, Viscount|
|Dickson, Charles Scott||Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Walrond, Rt Hn. Sir William H.|
|Dixon-Hartland, Sir FredDix'n||Lucas, Reginald J.(Portsmouth||Whiteley, H.(Ashton Und. Lyne|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin||Macdona, John Cumming||Wilson, A. Stanley(York, E. R.)|
|Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton||Maconochie, A. W.||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas||Milvain, Thomas||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward||More, Robt. Jasper(Shrophire)|
|Fergusson, Rt. Hn. SirJ.(Mane'r)||Morgan, David J (Walth'mastow)|
|Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Morton, Arthur H. Aylmer||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Sir Alexander Acland-Hood and Mr. Anstruther.|
|Firbank, Sir Joseph Thomas||Mount, William Arthur|
|Fisher, William Hayes||Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.|
|Flannery, Sir Fortescue||Murray, Rt HnA. Graham (Bute|
|Allan, Sir William (Gateshead||Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale-||Samuel, Herbert L.(Cleveland)|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Hayter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur D.||Shackleton, David James|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Charles H.||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Balck, Alexander William||Horniman, Frederick John||Sinclair, John (Forfarshire)|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Jacoby, James Alfred||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Buxton, Sydney Charles||Jones, David Brynmor (Sw'nsea)||Spencer, Rt. HnC. R.(Northants|
|Caldwell, James||Kearley, Hudson E.||Thomson, F. W. (York, W. R.)|
|Cameron, Robert||Labouchere, Henry||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Lambert, George||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Carew, James Laurence||Lloyd-George, David||Wason, Eugene(Clackmannan|
|Cromble, John William||Lowther, Rt. Hon. James(Kent||Weir, James Galloway|
|Dewar, John A. (Inverness-sh.||Mappin, Sir Frederick Thorpe||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen||Whiteley, George (York, W. R.)|
|Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph||Moss, Samuel||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Douglas, Charles M.(Lanark)||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Wilson, Chas, Henry (Hull, W.|
|Duncan, J. Hastings||Paulton. James Mellor||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Dunn, Sir William||Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)|
|Emmott, Alfred||Pierpoint, Robert|
|Gibbs, Hon. Vicary (St. Albans)||Price, Robert John||TELLERS FOR THE NOES— Mr. Gibson Bowles and Mr. Lough.|
|Gladstone, Rt. Hn Herbert John||Rigg, Richard|
|Harcourt. Rt. Hon. Sir William||Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)|
|Harmsworth, R. Leicester||Runciman, Walter|
§ (5.23.) MR. YOXALL () Nottingham, W.
, in moving to omit from the Motion the proposed new Standing Order giving Mr. Speaker power to adjourn the House or suspend the sitting, if in the interests of order he thinks it desirable so to do, said he approached the question with the most profound respect for the dignity of the Chair, and with an utter lack of sympathy with any disorder, grave or trivial, that might occur in the House. The House of Commons was not only a Chamber of Legislature, it was also the forum of national and public debate; and, if order were Heaven's first law, it was certainly the first condition of the existence of the House of Commons. It was unfortunately true that in the past scenes of disorder had arisen, and might arise in future, and he concurred in the view that Mr. Speaker's responsibility in the matter ought not to be made greater unless at the same time his powers were increased. But it was none the less necessary for the House to be careful lest it went too far. He had a general as well as a particular objection to the proposal to make this Rule a Standing Order. The general objection was that since this Sessional Order was passed there had happily been no occasion on which it had been necessary to put it into operation, so that it had not been put to the test of experiment. The particular objection was not so much to the whole of the Sessional Order as a part, but by the Rules of the House he was compelled to move the omission of the whole. He took no exception to the proposal that Mr. 892 Speaker should be permanently empowered to suspend the sitting on grave disorder arising. That was a power which resided in all Presidents or Chairmen of foreign Assemblies, and which ought to reside in the Speaker of the House of Commons. He drew a distinction, however, between suspending the sitting and adjourning the House. For Mr. Speaker to suspend the sitting and thus give heated passions an opportunity to cool was one thing, but for Mr. Speaker to have within his own power the prerogative of adjourning the House was one of much wider import. At present the one power which could adjourn the House was the House itself, and he hesitated to agree to the proposal now made. A further objection was that the power, if given, would under certain circumstances devolve also upon not only the Chairman of Committees but also the Deputy Chairman, and hitherto a notable distinction had always been drawn between the occupant of the Chair and the Chairman of Committees. For these reasons he asked the House to hesitate before it yielded up its historic right and privilege of determining when its sittings should come to an end. He submitted that the power to suspend the sitting would be sufficient for all occasions that were likely to arise, and therefore moved the Amendment standing in his name.
§ DR. FARQUHARSON () Aberdeenshire, W.
, in seconding the Amendment, said that this was another illustration of the extreme inconvenience of the rapidity 893 with which these Rules had been rushed through the House without due inquiry. On a former occasion the Leader of the Opposition made out a strong case for a Committee to inquire as to the probable effect of these and other proposals. Before that Committee, Mr. Speaker and his illustrious predecessor, some of the most experienced Members of the House and the Clerks at the Table, would have placed their views, and it would have been interesting to see what defence the Government made for this proposal. It was rather extraordinary that when this, one of the most important of the proposed changes, was under consideration, the Prime Minister should not be present to reply to arguments which had been advanced. But it was all on a piece with the light-hearted and irresponsible way in which the Government had entered upon this path of change. To tamper with the ancient Rules and privileges of the House was a most serious matter; they had had far too short a period for discussion, and now, with all respect to the hon. Gentleman on the Treasury Bench, they were to have an entirely unauthoritative reply. To give Mr. Speaker—for whom he had the greatest respect—the right to initiate anything in the House was a grave constitutional change. Hitherto Mr. Speaker had been the servant of the House, having simply to interpret the wish of the House, but now he was to be put in the invidious position of having to initiate or regulate the business of the House himself. That was a power which might eventually lead to a grave infringement of the rights and privileges of the House of Commons, and therefore he earnestly supported the Amendment of his hon. friend.
To leave out the words, 'the power of the Speaker to adjourn the House or suspend the Sitting.' "—(Mr. Yoxall.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ MR. GRANT LAWSON
said he hoped it would be a long time before they had any experience of the working of this Rule. There had been, however, experience of 894 disorder arising in Committee, and those who recollected the incident in 1893 would recognise the advantage of a brief interval, such as the sending for the Speaker then afforded, for the calming of excited tempers. The hon. Member who moved the Amendment admitted this, his objection being mainly directed to the power of adjournment. But supposing a scene of disorder arose late at night, it would be most unnatural for the Speaker to suspend the sitting, resuming it in the early morning. As a Sessional Order the question had been debated at considerable length, and the Order was adopted by a large majority of this House and by a majority of hon. Members opposite, and the whole of the Front Opposition Bench voted in favour of this proposal as a Sessional Order. It was now proposed as the permanent addition to the Orders of this House, and the question had been discussed not as a temporary expedient but as a permanent institution.
MR. BRYNMOR JONES
said that the hon. Gentleman opposite, who had spoken on behalf of the Government, after admitting that these scenes were not likely to take place, proceeded to argue that it was necessary to give these great powers to Mr. Speaker, and allow him to have the power to decide what was grave disorder and what would justify him in adjourning the House. Before a great constitutional innovation of this kind was imposed some convincing reason ought to be given by the Government. He thought it was convenient, having regard to the position of those who presided over modern representative assemblies, that Mr. Speaker should have some power, as in Continental Parliaments, of suspending a sitting. But there was a great difference between adjourning the House without Question put and allowing the Speaker to suspend the sitting to a time named by him. The hon. Gentleman opposite had referred to a case in which the Chairman of Committees called in Mr. Speaker Peel, with the result that the excitement and disorder on that occasion was put an end to. The House was in a stage of great excitement while the Chairman was in the Chair, but when Mr. Speaker 895 Peel came back the House was as quiet and orderly as possible. He did not wish to prolong the discussion, but he submitted that there was a great distinction between the power of adjourning the House without Question put and the power of suspending the sitting to a time to be named by Mr. Speaker.
MR. JAMES LOWTHER
thought the reasons given by the hon. Member for Thirsk appeared to tell exactly against his argument. The hon. Member had spoken of the disorder which occurred in 1893, but that disturbance was stopped by the appearance of Mr. Speaker Peel
§ in the House. It seemed to him that if tumult did arise, the influence and the great position of Mr. Speaker was the best way of stopping a disturbance that could be imagined. The precedent quoted of Mr. Speaker Peel confirmed him in his view that the very last thing they ought to invite their presiding officer to do was to abdicate his position and run away when his presence and authority was most needed.
§ (5.48.) Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 149; Noes, 49. (Division List No. 602.)897
|Agg-Gardener, James Tynte||Fisher, William Hayes||M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)|
|Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel||Fison, Frederick William||More, Robt. Jasper(Shropshire)|
|Allhusen, AugustusH'nryEden||Flannery, Sir Fortescue||Morgan, DavidJ. Walthamst'w|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Flower, Ernest||Morton, Arthur H. Aylmer|
|Arnold-Forester, Hugh O.||Forster, Henry William||Mount, William Arthur|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Gardner, Ernest||Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Garfit, William||Murray, RtHnA. Graham(Bute)|
|Austin, Sir John||Gibbs, Hon. Vicary(St. Albans)||Murray, Col. Wyndham(Bath)|
|Bagot, Capt. Josceline FitzRoy||Godson, SirAugustusFrederick||Nicholson, William Graham|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Gordon, MajEvans(T'rH'mlets)||Palmer, Walter (Salisbury)|
|Baird, John George Alexander||Gore, HnG. R. C. Ormsby-(Salop)||Parker, Sir Gilbert|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J.(Manch'r)||Gore, HnG. R. C. Ormsby-(Linc.)||Paulton, James Mellor|
|Balfour, RtHnGeraldW(Leeds)||Goschen, Hon. George Joachim||Percy, Earl|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Barry, Sir Francis T.(Windsor)||Graham, Henry Robert||Purvis, Robert|
|Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benjamin||Greene, SirEW(B'rySEdm'nds)||Pym, C. Guy|
|Beresford, Lord Chas. William||Greene, W. Raymond(Cambs.)||Rasch, Major Frederic Carne|
|Bigwood, James||Gretton, John||Renshaw, Sir Charles Bine|
|Brookfield, Colonel Montagu||Greville, Hon. Ronald||Ridley, Hn. M. W.(Stalybridge)|
|Brymer, William Ernest||Hay, Hon. Claude George||Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson|
|Butcher, John George||Heath, ArthurHoward(Hanley)||Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield)|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Heaton, John Henniker||Ropner, Colonel Robert|
|Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbysh.)||Hobhouse, RtHnH(Somerset, E)||Rothschild, Hon. LionelWalter|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Hogg, Lindsay||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Howard, John(Kent, Faversh'm)||Rutherford, John|
|Chamberlain, RtHn. J. A.(Worc)||Howard, J.(Midd.,Tottennam)||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford-|
|Champman, Edward||Johnstone, Heywood||Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse)|
|Charrington, Spencer||Kearley, Hudson E.||Samuel, Herbert L.(Cleveland)|
|Clive, Captain Percy A.||Kenyon, Hon. Geo. T.(Denbigh||Sandys, Lieut.-Col. Thos. Myles|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Kimber, Henry||Seely, Charles Hilton (Lincoln)|
|Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Knowles, Lees||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Cox, Irwin Edward Bainbridge||Labouchere, Henry||Simeon, Sir Barrington|
|Cripps, Charles Alfred||Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm.||Sinclair, Louis (Romford)|
|Crossley, Sir Savile||Lawrence, Sir Joseph(Monm'th)||Smith, JamesParker(Lanarks.)|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Lawson, John Grant||Spear, John Ward|
|Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Spencer, Sir E. (W. Bromwich)|
|Davenport, William Bromley-||Leveson-Gower, FrederickN. S.||Stanley, EdwardJas.(Somerset)|
|Denny, Colonel||Llewellyn, Evan Henry||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)|
|Dickson, Charles Scott||Lockwood, Lt.-Col. A. R.||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Dixon-Hartland, SirFredDixon||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Sturt, Hon. Humphry Napier|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Long, RtHn. Walter (Bristol, S)||Talbot, Lord E.` (Chichester)|
|Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G.(Oxf'dUniv.)|
|Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin||Lowe, Francis William||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton||Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Tomlinson, Sir Wm. Edw. M.|
|Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas||Lucas, ReginaldJ.(Portsmouth)||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edw.||Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred||Tufnell, Lieut.-Col. Edward|
|Fergusson, RtHn. SirJ.(Manc'r)||Macdona, John Cumming||Valentia, Viscount|
|Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Maconochie, A. W.||Walrond, RtHn. Sir WilliamH.|
|Whiteley, H.(Ashton und. Lyne)||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Sir Alexander Acland-Hood and Mr. Anstruther.|
|Whitmore, Charles Algernon||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George||Wison, A. Stanley (York, E. R.)|
|Allan, Sir William (Gateshead)||Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Charles H. Sinclair, John (Forfarshire)|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Horniman, Frederick John||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Black, Alexander William||Jacoby, James Alfred||Spencer, Rt HnC. R. (Northants)|
|Buxton, Sydney Charles||Lambert, George||Thomson, F. W. (York, W. R.)|
|Caldwell, James||Lough, Thomas||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Cameron, Robert||Lowther, Rt. Hon. James(Kent)||Tully, Jasper|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Mappin, Sir Frederick Thorpe||Warner, Thomas CourtenayT.|
|Carew, James Laurence||Morogan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||Wason, Eugene|
|Craig, Robert Hunter||Moss, Samuel||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Cremer, William Randal||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Whiteley, George(York, W. R.)|
|Crombie, John William||Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Dewar, JohnA.(Inverness-shire)||Price, Robert John||Wilson, Chas. Henry(Hull, W.)|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Priestley, Arthur||Woodhouse, SirJT.(Huddersf'd)|
|Duncan, J. Hastings||Rigg, Richard|
|Dunn, Sir William||Robson, William Snowdon|
|Harmsworth, R. Leicester||Runciman, Walter||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. Yoxall and Mr. Brynmor Jones.|
|Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale-||Shackleton, David James|
|Hayter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur D.||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
MR. BRYNMOR JONES
said the reason which induced him to move the Amendment standing in his name was perfectly obvious after the discussion that had taken place on the words of the general Resolution proposed by the right hon. Gentleman. The Rule of the House with regard to the time of private Members as it had existed was too well known to render it necessary for him to explain in detail what the rights of unofficial Members were, and the Sessional Order now under discussion indirectly was also well known. His objection to its being made a Standing Order was that the Rule itself did not add to, but diminished, the rights of private Members. He did not think the proposal to give private Members two evening sittings was at all equivalent to the whole day which they had under the old Rule of the House. If a Member was successful in the ballot, and desired to raise a question of great public interest, it was clear it would be much more to the advantage of everybody that he should be able to raise it at an early hour rather than at nine o'clock. At nine o'clock it was difficult to get a quorum, but it was quite easy to do so at the commencement of the business of the House. But even if he had no difficulty in obtaining a quorum at nine o'clock, there was only three hours in which to discuss a matter of great public interest, which might be a 898 matter of great interest to the House, even though the Government were not prepared at that moment to take it up. It was for these reasons that he desired to move the Amendment standing in his name. He begged to move.
§ MR. COURTENAY WARNER (Staffordhire,) Lichfield
said it was most important, before private Members gave up the power they possessed in the House, that they should hesitate and consider whether the Rule had been tried sufficiently to warrant them in making it permanent instead of temporary. They should wait until it had been tried sufficiently in practice. For these reasons, and because he considered this Sessional Order had not been sufficiently tried, he supported the Amendment of his hon. friend.
To leave out the words 'Priority of Business.'"—(Mr. Brynmor Jones.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ MR. GRANT LAWSON
said with regard to the House hesitating before making this a Standing Order, they had hesitated a long time before making it a Sessional Order. It took two and a half days and fourteen divisions to decide the 899 matter. It had been thoroughly threshed out earlier in the session. With regard to what had been said as to the whole of Tuesday, the Tuesday Rule only applied to the nominal opportunities of private Members. It had been a very long time since private Members had had the whole of Tuesday; the Government took the morning sittings and when they did not, hon. Members' friends took the opportunity of counting out the House on the Tuesday night. He hoped after the way in which this House discussed the Rule in April hon. Members would not think it necessary to go to a division.
SIR H. CAMPBELL BANNERMAN
said that, if this was so complicated, difficult, and risky a step to take as to need several days discussion, there was all the more reason why the House should have ample experience of the working of the Rule before it was made permanent.
§ of force robbed the privated Members of Tuesdays they used to have; upon that petty larceny they had based a Sessional Order which was resisted by the House for no less than two and a half days discussion and fourteen divisions, and upon that doubly unfortunate basis it was proposed to build a permanent Order which should bind the House for all time, or at least for many years. He protested against it. There could be no doubt the centre of gravity for legislation was shifting from the private Member to the Government; possibly it was shifting from the Government itself to outside opinions in the Press. The private Members, because they had consented to lose their privileges for one session is this way, were now asked to consent to their being lost altogether. He should strongly support the Amendment.
§ (6.10.) Question put.
§ The Hose divided:—Ayes, 147; Noes, 61. (Division List No. 603.)901
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Dalkeith, Earl of||Heath, Arthur Howard(Hanley|
|Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel||Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Heason, John Henniker|
|Allhusen. AugustusH'nryEden||Davenport, William Bromley-||Hobhouse, Rt Hn H(Somers't, E)|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Denny, Colonel||Hogg, Lindsay|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Dickson, Charles Scott||Howard, John(Kent, Faversh'm)|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Dixon-Hartland, SirFr'd Dixon||Howard, J.(Midd.,Tottenham)|
|Austin, Sir John||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Kenyon, Hon. Geo. T.(Denbigh)|
|Bagot, Capt. Josceline FitzRoy||Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin||Kimber, Henry|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton||Knowles, Lees|
|Baird, John George Alexander||Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas||Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm.|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J.(Manch'r)||Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward||Lawrence, Sir Joseph(Monm'th)|
|Balfour, RtHn. GeraldW.(Leeds)||Fergusson, RtHnSirJ.(Manch'r)||Lawson, John Grant|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Finch, Rt. Hon. George H.||Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie|
|Barry, Sir Francis T. (Windsor)||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne||Leveson-Gower, FrederickN. S.|
|Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benjamin||Firbank, Sir Joseph Thomas||Llewellyn, Evan Henry|
|Beresford, Lord Chas. William||Fisher, William Hayes||Lock wood, Lt.-Col. A. R.|
|Bigwood, James||Fison, Frederick William||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Flannery, Sir Fortescue||Long, Rt. Hon Walter(Bristol, S)|
|Brookfield, Colonel Montagu||Flower, Ernest||Lonsdale, John Brownlee|
|Brymer, William Ernest||Forster, Henry William||Lowe, Francis William|
|Butcher, John George||Gardner, Ernest||Loyd, Archie Kirkman|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Garfit, William||Lucas, Reginald J.(Portsmouth)|
|Cavendish, V. C. W.(Derbyshire)||Gibbs, Hon. Vicary (St. Albans)||Lyttelton, Hon. Alfred|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Godson, Sir Augustus Frederick||Maconochie, A. W.|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Gordon, MajEvans-(T'rH'ml'ts)||M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)|
|Chamberlain, RtHn. J. A(Worc.)||Gore, HnG. R. COrmsby(-Salop.)||Moon, Edward Robert Pacy|
|Chapman, Edward||Gore, Hon, S. F. Ormsby-(Linc.)||More, Robt, Jasper (Shropshire)|
|Charrington, Spencer||Goschen, Hon. George Joachim||Morton, Arthur H. Aylmer|
|Clive, Captain Percy A.||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Mount, William Arthur|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Graham, Henry Robert||Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.|
|Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Greene, SirEW(B'ryS. Edm'nds)||Murray, RtHnA. Graham(Bute)|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Greene, W. Raymond-(Cambs.)||Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)|
|Cook, Sir Frederick Lucas||Gretton, John||Nicholson, William Graham|
|Cox, Irwin Edward Bainbridge||Greville, Hon. Ronald||Palmer, Walter (Salisbury)|
|Crossley, Sir Savile||Halsey, Rt. Hon. Thomas F.||Parker, Sir Gilbert|
|Percy, Earl||Sandys, Lieut.-Col. Thos. Myles||Tufnell, Lieut.-Col. Edward|
|Platt-Higgins, Frederick||Seely, Charles Hilton (Lincoln)||Valentia, Viscount|
|Pretyman, Ernest George||Sharpe, William Edward T.||Walrond, Rt. Hn. Sir WiliamH.|
|Purvis, Robert||Simeon, Sir Barrington||Welby, Lt.-Col. A. C. E(Taunton|
|Pym, C. Guy||Sinclair, Louis (Romford)||Wharton, Rt. Hon. John Lloyd|
|Rasch, Major Frederic Carne||Smith, James Parker (Lanarks)||Whiteley, H.(Ashton und. Lyne|
|Renshaw, Sir Charles Bine||Spencer, Sir E. (W. Bromwich)||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Ridley, Hon. M. W.(Staly bridge)||Stanley, Edward Jas.(Somerset)||Wilson, A. Stanley (York. E. R.)|
|Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson||Stanley, Lord (Lanes.)||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield)||Stone, Sir Benjamin||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Ropner, Colonel Sir Robert||Sturt, Hon Humphrey Napier|
|Rothschild, Hon. Lionel Walter||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Royds, Clement Molyneux||Talbot, RtHn. J. G.(Oxf'dUniv.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Sir Alexander AclandHood and Mr. Anstruther.|
|Rutherford, John||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford-||Tomlinson, Sir Wm. Edw. M.|
|Samuel, Harry S. (Limehouse)||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Allan, Sir William (Gateshead)||Harmsworth, R. Leicester`||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)|
|Asquith, RtHon HerbertHenry||Hayne, Rt. Hon. Charles Seale-||Shackleton, David James|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Hayter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur D.||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Hemphill. Rt. Hon Charles H.||Sinclair, John (Forfarshire)|
|Black, Alexander William||Horniman, Frederick John||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Jacoby, James Alfred||Spencer, RtHnC. R.(Northants)|
|Burnes, John||Kearley, Hudson E.||Thomson, F. W. (York, W. R.)|
|Buxton, Sydney Charles||Lambert, George||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Calldwell, James||Lough, Thomas||Tully, Jasper|
|Cameron, Robert||M 'Arthur, William (Cornwall)||Ure, Alexander|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Mappin, Sir Frederick Thorpe||Wason, Eugene(Clackmannan)|
|Carew, James Laurence||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Craig, Robert Hunter||Moss, Samuel||Whiteley, George (York, W. R.)|
|Cremer, William Randal||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Crombie, John William||Paulton, James Mellor||Wilson, Chas, Henry (Hull, W.)|
|Dewar, John A. (Inverness-sh.)||Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)||Woodhouse, SirJ. T(Huddersf'd)|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Price, Robert John||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||Reid, Sir R. Threshie(Dumfries)|
|Duncan, J. Hastings||Rigg, Richard|
|Dunn, Sir William||Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. Brynmor Jones and Mr. Warren.|
|Emmott, Alfred||Robson, William Snowdon|
|Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Sir William||Runciman, Walter|
§ (6.23.) Main Question put.902
§ The House divided:—Ayes. 155; Noes 61. (Division List No. 604.)903
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Bull, William James||Denny, Colonel|
|Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel||Butcher, John George||Dickson, Charles Scott|
|Allhusen, AugustusH'nry Eden||Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Dixon-Hartland, SirFred Dixon|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Cavendish, V. C. W (Derbyshire)||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-|
|Arnold-Forster, Hugh O.||Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Duke, Henry Edward|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)||Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin|
|Austin, Sir John||Chamberlain, Rt HnJ. A(Wore.)||Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton|
|Bagot, Capt. Josceline FitzRoy||Chapman, Edward||Elliot, Hon. A. Ralph Douglas|
|Badey, James (Walworth)||Charrington, Spencer||Fellowes, Hon. Ailwyn Edward|
|Baird, John George Alexander||Clive, Captain Percy A.||Fergusson, RtHn. SirJ.(Mane'r)|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (Manch'r)||Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Finch, Rt. Hon. George H.|
|Balfour, RtHnGerald W(Leeds)||Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Firbank, Sir Joseph Thomas|
|Barry, SirFrancis T. (Windsor)||Colomb, SirJohnCharlesReady||Fisher, William Hayes|
|Bathurst, Hon. Allen Benjamin||Cook, Sir Frederick Lucas||Fison, Frederick William|
|Beresford, Lord Chas. William||Cox, Irwin, Edward Bainbridge||Flannery, Sir Fortescue|
|Bigwood, James||Cripps, Charles Alfred||Flower, Ernest|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Crossley, Sir Savile||Forster, Henry William|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Dalkeith, Earl of||Galloway, William Johnson|
|Brookfield, Colonel Montagu||Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Gardner. Ernest|
|Brymer, William Ernest||Davenport, William Bromley-||Garfit, William|
|Godson, Sir AugustusFrederick||Lowe, Francis William||Sameul, Harry S. (Limehouse)|
|Gordon, MajEvans-(T'rH'ml'ts)||Lord, Archie Kirkman||Sandys, Lieut,-Col. Thos. Myles|
|Gore, HnG. R. C. Ormsby-(Salop)||Lucas, ReginaldJ. (Portsmouth)||Seely, Charles Hilton (Lincoln)|
|Gore, Hon. S. F. Ormsby-(Linc.)||Macdona, John Cumming||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Goschen, Hon. George Joachim||Maconochie. A. W.||Simeon, Sir Barrington|
|Goulding, Edward Alfred||M 'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Sinclair, Louis (Romford)|
|Graham, Henry Robert||Moon. Edward Robert Pacy||Smith, James Parker(Lanarks.)|
|Greene, SirEW(B'ryS. Edm'nds)||More, Robt. Jasper (Shropshire)||Spencer, Sir E. (W. Bromwich)|
|Gretton, John||Morton, Arthur H. Aylmer||Stanley, EdwardJas.(Somerset)|
|Greville, Hon. Ronald||Mount, William Arthur||Stanley, Lord (Lancs.)|
|Halsey, Rt. Hon. Thomas F.||Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Hay, Hon. Claude George||Muntz, Sir Philip A.||Sturt, Hon. Humphry Napier|
|Heath, Arthur Howard(Hanley)||Murray, RtHnA. Graham(Bute)||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Heaton, John Henniker||Murrray, Col. Wyndham(Bath)||Talbot, RtHn. J. G.(Oxf'dUniv.)|
|Hobhouse, RtHnH(Somerset, E)||Nicholson, William Graham||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Hogg, Lindsay||Palmer, Walter (Salisbury)||Tomlinson, Sir Wm. Edw. M.|
|Howard, John(Kent. Fav'rsh'm)||Parker, Sir Gilbert||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Howard, J.(Midd., Tottenham)||Percy, Earl||Tufnell, Lieut,-Col. Edward|
|Kenyon, Hon. Geo. T.(Denbigh)||Platt-Higgins, Frederick||Valentia, Viscount|
|Kimber, Henry||Pretyman, Ernest George||Walrond, Rt. HnSir WilliamH.|
|Knowles, Lees||Purvis, Robert||Welby, Lt-Col. A. C. E(Taunton)|
|Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm.||Pym, C. Guy||Wharton, Rt. Hon. John Lloyd|
|Lawrence, Sir Joseph(Monm'th)||Rasche, Major Frederic Carne||Whiteley, H(Ashton-und. Lyne)|
|Lawson, John Grant||Ranshaw, Sir Charles Bine||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage||Ridley, Hn. M. W.(Stalybridge)||Wilson, A. Stanley(York, E. R.)|
|Leigh-Bennett, Henry Currie||Ritchie, Rt. Hn. Chas. Thomson||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Leveson-Gower, FrederickN. S.||Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield)||Wylie, Alexander|
|Llewellyn, Evan Henry||Ropner, Colonel Sir Robert||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Lockwood, Lt-Col. A. R.||Rothschild, Hon. LionelWalter|
|Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Royds, Clement Molyneux||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Sir Alexander AclandHood and Mr. Anstruther.|
|Long. Rt. Hn. Walter (Bristol, S)||Rutherford, John|
|Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford-|
|Allan, Sir William (Gateshead)||Hayne, Rt. Hn. Charles Seale-||Shackleton, David James|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Hayter, Rt. Hon. Sir ArthurD.||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Barlos, John Emmott||Hemphill, Rt. Hon, Charles H.||Sinclair, John (Forfarshire)|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Horniman, Frederick John||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Burns, John||Jacoby, James Alfred||Spencer, RtHnC. R. (Northansts)|
|Buxton, Sydney Charles||Jones, David Brynmor(Swarnsea)||Thomson, F. W. (York, W. R.)|
|Caldwell, James||Kearley, Hudson E.||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Cameron, Robert||Lambert, George||Tully, Jasper|
|Campbell, Bannerman, Sir H.||M'Arthur. William (Cornwall)||Ure, Alexander|
|Carew, James Laurence||Mappin, Sir Frederick Thorpe||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Craig, Robert Hunter||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||Wason, Eugene(Clackmannan)|
|Cremer, William Randal||Moss, Samuel||White, Luke(York, E. R.)|
|Crombie, John William||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Whiteley, George(York, W. R.)|
|Dewar, John A. (Imverness-sh.)||Paulton, James Mellor||Whitttaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)||Wilson, Chas. Henry(Hull, W.)|
|Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||Price, Robert John||Woodhouse, SirJT.(Huddersi'd)|
|Duncan, J. Hastings||Reid, Sir R. Threshie(Dumfries)||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Dunn, Sir William||Rigg, Richard|
|Emmott, Alfred||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)|
|Gibbs, Hon. Vicary(st. Albans)||Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—:Mr. Lough and Mr. Black.|
|Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Sir William||Robson, William Snowdon|
|Harmsworth, R. Leicester||Samuel, Herbert L. Cleveland|
Bill read a second time, and committed for Tomorrow.
§ Resolved, "That the Resolutions dealing with the Power of the Speaker to adjourn the House or Suspend Sitting, Priority of Business, Business in Supply. Private Business, and Quorum of the House, be Standing Orders of the House, and that Standing Orders 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, and 11 be repealed."—(Mr. A. J, Balfour.)
§ Ordered, That the Standing Orders, as amended, be printed. [No. 385.]