HC Deb 05 August 1904 vol 139 cc1269-74

As amended (by the Standing Committee) considered.


I wish to ask leave to move the adjournment of the House. I venture to think that after what has taken place it would be quite impossible to go on taking other business this afternoon. It is true that the measure now called on is one over which no very controversial feelings are entertained, but the scene we have just witnessed is one which renders it quite impossible for the House of Commons to proceed with the discussion. I would ask the Prime Minister whether he himself really desires that we should go on. Surely after a scene like this the right hon. Gentleman does not want to snatch the paltry advantage of getting a few Bills smuggled through. I am sure that it would not be a dignified thing for the right hon. Gentleman to do, and therefore I beg to move that the House do now adjourn.


I am afraid the Motion of the hon. Member is not in order, because it is not according to the Standing Order as there is no Motion now before the House. If the hon. Member will allow an Amendment to be moved, it will then be open to move the adjournment of the debate.

SIR FREDERICK BANBURY (Camberwell, Peckham)

I move the new clause standing in my name.

A clause (Exemption of Shopkeeper.)—(Sir Frederick. Banbury.) Brought up, and read the first time.

Motion made. and Question proposed, "That the clause be read a second time."


I will not repeat my arguments; but will simply move that the debate be now adjourned.

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


I do not quite follow the reasoning of the hon. Gentleman. The Shop Hours Bill is one which, I think, is generally desired by the House, and if it has critics at all those are to be found on this side of the House rather than on the other. In these circumstances I should have said that this occasion, however unfortunate in its inception—everyone knows what my views on that will naturally be—is an occasion or proceeding with the Bill.

MR. ASQUITH (Fifeshire, E.)

I should be very sorry myself if the Shop Hours Bill did not pass into law, and, although it does not go so far as some of us wish, it is no doubt a valuable measure. But of course we are placed in very unusual and unexpected circumstances, and I think, if the right hon. Gentleman assures us that when this Bill has been disposed of no other business. will be taken, we might come to a conclusion.

MR. HERBERT SAMUEL (Yorkshire, Cleveland)

An undertaking was given that this Bill should not be taken to-day. I am very anxious that the Bill should pass, but a relative of mine, a member of the House, as representing the Jewish community, had an Amendment which he was very anxious to move, and which he would be prevented from moving if the Bill were taken now. He understood from the Patronage Secretary that the Bill would not in any circumstances be taken to-day.

MR. LOUGH (Islington, W.)

I think we may be able to secure our object by giving the Government an effective promise, so far as the Opposition is concerned, that when the Bill is taken again we will facilitate its passage into law. But, as far as the present situation is concerned, it would be utterly beyond all precedent to ask the House to proceed with any business, however important. The House is not in any condition to do so now. If hon. Members opposite would try to put themselves into the position of the Opposition they would find that the most reasonable thing was to accept the Motion.

MR. J. H. LEWIS (Flint Boroughs)

I hope that the Government will accede to this Motion. We on this side have received repeated appeals from the Chair to take a certain course, and we have done our best, at any rate, to maintain the traditions of the House. I think that some hon. Gentlemen opposite, at all events, will accept my view in that respect. In the circumstances I would appeal to the Prime Minister to treat us in a manner more befitting the office he holds in the exceptional position which we occupy this afternoon. The debate on the Bill which we have just been discussing would in ordinary circumstances have undoubtedly lasted for the whole of the rest of the evening, and in these circumstances the Prime Minister might, I think, meet us by adjourning now.

MR. CHAPLIN (Lincolnshire, Sleaford)

How has the position in which we are placed arisen? It has arisen solely and entirely because a certain number of Members, after full warning, chose deliberately to set at defiance the ruling of the Chair. If they are placed in a position of difficulty in consequence, they have no one but themselves to blame.

MR. CALDWELL (Lanarkshire, Mid.)

Is the right hon. Gentleman in order in referring to a debate which has been closed?


I do not think the right hon. Gentleman is out of order for doing so, for the reason that the adjournment has been moved by reason of those circumstances. At the same time I am sure he will exercise great discretion in the way he treats the matter.


I hope that I have not in any way exceeded expressions which are courteous. If I have exceeded the limits of discretion I am quite willing to withdraw; but as an old Member of the House it is my opinion that to accede to a request of this kind would be to offer nothing but a premium on disorder.


I saw late last night a prominent Member of the Opposition, who asked me not to take this Bill to-day. I promised him that the Bill should not be taken. I think that the debate might now be adjourned, and that the House might go on with the next business.

MR. McKENNA (Monmouthshire, N.)

said he agreed with a great deal of what the right hon. Gentleman opposite had said, and if the right hon. Gentleman wished to discuss this Bill he was quite willing to stay as long as the right hon. Gentleman pleased. The only thing he would say with regard to the right hon. Gentlemen himself was that he was not at all sure that he had not procured an early pair, and that when he had made his protest he would not go off comfortably to his dinner and leave the House to discuss the measure without him. It was easy under those circumstances to come down and deliver Phillippics against the debate being adjourned. He did not think the suggestion made by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury ought to be accepted. If this Bill were put down first on the Paper it ought to be taken first. If they were going to take this Bill, and the discussion upon it was to be adjourned then he thought they should take no other business. They came down to the House prepared to discuss certain questions. They went through the Paper, and the Bills that stood first on the Paper were the Bills the House was ready to discuss. It was not for the Government to press the House for this and the other Bills, and offer to the House for discussion a measure which in ordinary course would not be taken. He, for one, was quite ready to discuss any measure, but he did not think it was right to ask the House to pass to this other business. If the Government insisted upon going on with the business, they ought to go on with this Bill, but having regard to what had taken place, and the feeling of irritation roused by the Prime Minister, he did not think it was desirable for the House to continue sitting.

MR. GUEST (Plymouth)

asked whether, in the event of this debate being adjourned, it was possible to go on with other business. They were now discussing the adjournment of the debate on the Shop Hours Bill, and in the event of the debate being adjourned he submitted other business could not be proceeded with.


said that the only possible course, if the House adjourned this debate, would be to proceed with the other orders.


said that, as one to whom the rights of the House were very dear and to whom the rights of every Member were equally dear, he might perhaps be allowed to say a few words. In the first place he regretted to see that a large number of Members of the House had left. They had taken the weakest course. When one had one horse killed under him he should at once get another and continue the fight.


We did not ask your opinion.


Possibly not, but I venture to give it. The hon. Member, continuing, said: The question before the House was the adjournment of the debate, and the Patronage Secretary to the Treasury had admitted that what had been alleged on the opposite side of the House was well founded and he stated that he had agreed not to take this particular Bill on this particular occasion. He had agreed with the other side to adjourn this debate. As the Chairman had ruled, that would not preclude the continuance of the debate on all other Government business until it was concluded. After this Question had been disposed of, and the debate adjourned on this particular Bill, all the rest of the Government business had to be taken, and when that was concluded Mr. Speaker would leave the Chair. But under the circumstances he would suggest to his right hon. friend the Prime Minister that, inasmuch as it was clearly only intended to deal with the Education Bill, and inasmuch as it had been completely and amply proved by the Patronage Secretary to the Treasury that he did not intend to take this Bill, the purpose of the Government had been fulfilled. They had got their first Bill, and inasmuch as they had not seriously intended to take the second, he suggested to the right hon. Gentleman that he might now agree to the adjournment of the House.

MR. BROADHURST (Leicester)

said that if the Shop Hours Bill were finally withdrawn for that day he was very sorry, because it would have gone through with very little debate. But if it was really withdrawn he appealed to the Prime Minister to adjourn the sitting. A feeling of a very undesirable nature had been roused in the House, and in the interest of Parliamentary proceedings it would be wise of the Prime Minister to allow the House now to adjourn.

Debate to be resumed on Monday next.