HC Deb 05 August 1904 vol 139 cc1276-80

Order for the Second Reading read.

MR. McKENNA (Monmouthshire, N.)

expressed the hope that the right hon. Gentleman was not prepared to press on this Bill. It was a Bill that raised most controversial questions. It was a curious fact that for years and years the Isle of Man Customs had been almost identical, but this year they varied. This Bill raised a most important question in connection with the tobacco duties. He moved the adjournment of the debate.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. McKenna.)

MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)

hoped that in the interests of peace the Motion would be accepted.

MR. TREVELYAN (Yorkshire, W.R.' Elland)

pointed out that the hon. Member for North-West Lanark had a Motion down on the Paper that this Bill should be read a second time this day three months. Under these circumstances, as it raised most controversial matters, he hoped the right hon. Gentleman would not press the Bill.


said that if these Bills were not controversial they could slip through at any time. It was not the question of imperilling the fortunes of any particular Bill. The question was whether they ought to proceed further that day after the feelings of the House had been so stirred, and he warned the Prime Minister that after the way in which the feelings of the House had been outraged no Bill would be regarded as non-controversial. He appealed to the right hon. Gentleman not to take advantage of the feelings of the House after what had been so deeply felt and so deeply resented.

MR. J. H. LEWIS (Flint Boroughs)

said this Bill was as controversial a Bill as any that could be put before the House. The tobacco duties had been debated at considerable length in this House, and surely in the application of these duties to the Isle of Man this Muse had a right to express it views. However that might be, it was impossible, after what had occurred that afternoon, to go on with any legis- lation. The right hon. Gentleman had forced the Welsh Bill through in a very cowardly way and he should be content with that.

MR. RUNCIMAN (Dewsbury)

said this Bill raised matters of great controversy, re-opening, as it did, the whole of the discussion on the question of stripped and unstripped tobacco.

*MR. H. J. WILSON (Yorkshire, W.R., Holmfirth)

said he had been in the House for twenty years and had witnessed many of these scenes, and everybody who had any experience in these matters knew that no good ever came of any business that was attempted after such a scene. After the way in which the House had been treated by the Prime Minister during the last few weeks, culminating in the scandalous scene that day, it was ridiculous for the Prime Minister to adopt his dulcet tone and ask them to go on as if nothing had happened. To-day nothing could be regarded as uncontroversial. No prowess whatever would be made, as the right hon. Gentleman must know.


said he desired to join in the appeal that had been made to the Prime Minister. He was not naturally obstructive but he could not help feeling that after what had taken place no further business should be done that day. If the right hon. Gentleman realised the strength of feeling shown by those who had been always regarded as moderate men he would not proceed further. They had been treated in a manner in which they did not think they ought to the treated in the House of Commons, and feeling as they din they could give no facilities. It was with the bitterest pain and grief that they refused to the Postmaster-General the facilities which he desired, but they did so because they felt it was necessary to make the protest they now made.


said he did not think hon. Gentlemen were treating him in a very reasonable spirit. He did not desire to ask the House to proceed with controversial measures. [An HON. MEMBER: This is a controversial Bill.] Now it was alleged that the scene they had just passed through was of so irritating a description that it was impossible for the House to treat even the most uncontroversial Bill in an uncontroversial spirit. There was a certain amount of business to be got through before the end of the session. If these measures were to be treated as controversial, not only now but on every day, then they had better go on with them in daylight. But if it was understood that these formal Bills were to be treated as such on future occasions, he would be quite ready to come to an arrangement not to take them that afternoon. If, however, it was to be a fight always, then let them fight now. He could assure the House that such scenes as they had had were probably quite as painful to him as to hon. Gentlemen opposite.

MR. BLAKE (Longford, S.)

pointed out that the Prime Minister wanted something more to be done as if no scene had occurred. All that had been said by the Opposition was that the state of feeling was such that no further business could be taken that day.

MR. CROOKS (Woolwich)

asked the Prime Minister for one moment to consider the position. He had secured his Bill, although had it been discussed in the ordinary way he would not have got it until three or four o'clock the next morning. Then even his own supporters would have refused to do any more business. Surely the right hon. Gentleman ought to be satisfied with the victory he had gained in obtaining his Bill, though it was gained at the expense of an injury to a highly-strung nation. If the right hon. Gentleman went on with business they would oppose everything through pure cussedness. He admitted his vocabulary was limited, but he did not know any better word. Let the Prime Minister be content with what he had already secured.

MR. CALDWEL (Lanarkshire, Mid)

pointed out as an additional reason for not taking this particular Bill that it embodied a proposal with regard to the tobacco duty which differentiated it from the rest of the United Kingdom.

MR. EMMOTT (Oldham)

said it was clear from what had fallen from the hon. Member for Mid-Lanark that this could not be treated as an entirely uncontroversial measure. It was not the intention of the Opposition to obstruct night and day in order to prevent anything getting through. All they said was that their nerves and tempers were not in a state to transact business that evening and the Prime Minister must have sufficient knowledge of human nature to realise that that was the case.


admitted there was something in the contention of hon. Gentlemen opposite that the action of the Government looked like taking advantage of an accident which the Government regretted deeply, though it had had the corollary advantage of allowing the House to rise earlier than it could otherwise do. His object in pressing that business should go on was that he supposed the Opposition for the remainder of the session intended to regard every Bill in its most controversial form. But he understood from the remarks of hon. Gentlemen who had last spoken that he had been mistaken in his general diagnosis. If he might refer to the English of the hon. Member for Woolwich, he would say that his word was very appropriate. "Cussedness" exactly described the situation. He did not wish to press the matter further and in the circumstances he would agree to the adjournment of the debate.

Whereupon, in pursuance of the Order of the House of the 2nd day of August, Mr. Deputy Speaker adjourned the House without Question put.

Adjourned at twenty minutes before Six o'clock till Monday next.