§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Order for Committee be read and discharged; and that the Bill be committed to the Standing Committee on Law, etc."—(Mr. Secretary Akers-Douglas.)
§ MR. TREVELYAN (Yorkshire, W.R., Elland)
said it was curious that a Motion of that nature should be taken as a matter of course by the Government. The Standing Order by which Grand Committees were instituted contained these words—Two Standing Committees shall be appointed for the consideration of all Bills relating to law and Courts of justice and legal procedure, and to trade, shipping, and manufactures.If they looked at the character of this Bill they would find that there was absolutely nothing in it which brought it within either of the categories set forth in that Standing Older. It was first proposed, he believed, to send this Bill to the Committee on Trade. For what reason he did not know, but perhaps it was because of the injury it might be alleged to do to shipping. That idea, however, was abandoned, and then 1085 it was proposed to send it to the Committee on Law. When these Grand Committees were instituted Mr. Gladstone explained what was intended by them, and said there was a question as to what was a Law Bill, although every Bill was practically a Law Bill in one sense. He thought, however, that the House would agree—at any rate those who had read the Aliens Bill would agree—that there was absolutely nothing which brought it within the category of a Law Bill. It was a Bill which embodied a great alteration in the public policy of the country. It was a Bill which involved a wide breach of national traditions and in its character it had no more to do with law than had the Home Rule Bill, the Agricultural Rates Bill, or the Anglo-French Convention Bill. It was highly controversial in its character, and he could easily point out in it points of public policy which the House ought to discuss in Committee of the Whole House. He would take care not to say anything on the merits of those points of policy. He proposed only to mention three or four of the chief proposals of the Bill in order that the House might see that they were questions which vitally affected the policy and traditions of the country. First there was the question of the right of asylum; next there was the alleged danger of excluding under the cover of pauperism persons or classes who were, in fact, political refugees coming to this country. There had in the past been in that House hot contests, involving the fate of Governments, on questions relating I to political refugees. That was eminently? a question with which the House should deal, and at the present moment it was a matter of special importance because since the Second Reading of the Bill it had been stated that the Russian Government had been entering into relations with other countries, though, he believed, not with this country, with a view to taking measures to send back anarchists from one country to another when they tried to enter. Therefore, he suggested that this was one of the questions of public policy. The Bill also contained proposals for keeping people out of this country on the ground of pauperism, and pauperism alone. There again the traditional policy which this country had pursued for centuries of permitting people to enter 1086 without inquiring as to their means or position was being interfered with. There were also proposals to give discretionary power to the Secretary of State to order aliens to leave the Kingdom on the representation of a common informer. Was not that also a change of national policy? If it were not, he did not know what would be. Then there were extraordinary and novel proposals to limit the power of residence of aliens in certain districts in London and other towns, a method which was suggested to deal with the grave question of overcrowding. There was evidence of the general interest taken in this Bill to be found in the number of Amendments which had been placed upon the Paper. There were many pages of these Amendments, a large number of which dealt with questions of policy, and he would like to point out to the House the fact that many of those Amendments were put down by hon. Members who were not members of the Grand Committee on Law. As a matter of fact some twenty Members had got Amendments down who were not on that Committee. It might be said that it was open to the Committee of Selection to put some of those Gentlemen on the Committee, and possibly those Gentlemen might be placated by the adoption of that course, but his point was that the number of Amendments proved the general and wide interest felt throughout the House in that question.
There were, he believed, two reasons why the Government wished to send this Bill to the Committee on Law. The first was that the business of the House was becoming somewhat congested. He would, however, like to point out that the congestion of business at the present time was part y due to the fact that the Government were proposing to take in Committee of the Whole House what was practically a non-contentious Bill, namely, the Scotch Education Bill. That Bill was absolutely non-contentious in its main principles. Contention was only likely to arise on points of detail. It was, however, a Bill which would occupy a great deal of time, and which would involve an enormous amount of detailed discussion.
§ MR. TREVELYAN
said he did not wish to press the point, but he would like to state shortly what he was leading up to. It was that the Prime Minister had placed himself in this difficulty. He was sending to the Committee on Law a very contentious Bill when there was another Bill which could have been dealt with in a similar manner, and which would have made room for this Aliens Bill but for the fact that the Prime Minister had persistently taken up the line that there should not be a Scotch Committee for specially Scotch business.
§ MR. TREVELYAN
said he would not pursue the matter further. His point was that the chief reason why this Bill ought to be kept in the House of Commons was that it was one of a highly contentious character, and he thought that there could be no doubt whatever that the tradition of the House in regard to the question of Standing Committees was that no Bills of a contentious character should be sent to them. He would like to quote a passage from a speech by Sir Henry James on the night of the 17th April, 1894, describing the conditions under which these Grand Committees were instituted. In that speech it was laid down that the Bills remitted to these Grand Committees should be always of a non-contentious character. He would also like to refer to a speech made in 1882 by Mr. W. H. Smith, who laid down a similar doctrine. If he were not mistaken this Aliens Bill was referred to in the Speech from the Throne, and, therefore, it was presumably one of the leading Bills of the Government. He could not understand the action of the Government in this matter unless their desire was to get rid of opportunities for further discussion in that House. They were apparently afraid of more serious criticism. It must not be forgotten that during the Second Reading debate an uncomfortable discovery was made when it was found that the Home Secretary, who was in charge of the Bill, had exaggerated and had multiplied by ten the number of aliens coming into this country.
*THE SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. AKEKS-DOUGLAS,) Kent, St. Augustine's
said he explained and corrected that error at the time, and he quite understood that the hon. Member accepted his explanation.
§ MR. TREVELYAN
said that that was so, but his point was that the Government having once been convicted of an exaggerated statement, although they were delighted that the right hon. Gentleman had acknowledged his error, they felt that there was still danger that further debate might expose other exaggerations, and they believed that it was to avoid such exposure that this course was taken.
§ MR. LOUGH (Islington, W.)
said that i the proposal to send this Bill to a Grand Committee was one of the most outrageous he had ever heard, and he thought the very construction of the Motion which was in the hands of the Speaker would show the desirability of dealing in the House itself with a Bill of that kind. Undoubtedly it was the original intention of the Government to deal with this matter in the House. It could not be forgotten that the Bill was the first one mentioned in His Majesty's Speech, and, therefore, presumably, it was the most important measure in the programme of the Government for the present year. What, then, were the reasons for the extraordinary change of policy which the Government had adopted in regard to the Bill? It was almost an open secret that since the discussion upon the Second Reading difficulties had been, growing, and naturally the Government were desirous of hustling the Bill through by means of a Grand Committee so as to avoid discussion, because they feared that if it were dealt with in Committee of the Whole House it would be rejected almost instantaneously. Since the Second Reading debate a most distinguished representative of the Home Office, Sir Kenelm Digby, Permanent Secretary of the Home Office and an important member of the Royal Commission, upon whose Report the Bill was founded, had been writing letters upon the subject and when they had so distinguished an authority as Sir Kenelm Digby taking up the position he 1089 did, it was not desirable that the Bill should be hustled through by means of a Grand Committee. He believed it was because the Government had realised the increasing difficulty of dealing with this question that they had resolved to take a different course in regard to the Bill than that which was at first intended. It was generally admitted that Grand Committees were not well suited to deal with very contentious matters which raised new principles. He could assure the Government that every clause of this Bill would require very careful consideration, and that points of much greater importance were involved in it than the House at first realised. They had an attempt last year to deal with the subject on some trifling lines when they were dealing with criminal or destitute aliens.
§ MR. LOUGH
said he was, of course, prepared absolutely to obey the rulings of the Chair, but he was trying to suggest reasons why the Bill should not be sent to the Grand Committee, and he wanted to point out that it proposed to set up a system of passports in this a country which did not distinguish between foreigners and colonists. It was an extraordinary thing that the Government should attempt to send a Bill of such far-reaching importance to a Grand Committee. For instance, there was Clause 4, which set up what he might call congested districts, and which enabled the Local Government Board by Order in Council without the consent of Parliament to declare the number of people who should be allowed to live in a particular district. Surely that was very far-reaching.
§ MR. LOUGH
said he would not pursue the argument further, but he must say he thought it would be better if the Government would stick to their original intention and have the Bill discussed in Committee of the Whole House. He regretted that no attempt had been made by anyone representing the Government to explain the reasons why they had made this proposal.
§ MR. GALLOWAY (Manchester, S.W.)
said he entirely agreed with the principles in reference to Standing Committees laid down by the hon. Member for the Elland Division, but he did not find the hon. Gentleman always acted up to those principles, as, for instance, in reference to the Deceased Wife's Sister Bill. He wished to address himself to the point as to whether this was a proper Bill to go to a Grand Committee or not. It appeared to him that the? House must make a rule in these matters. They must either regularly refuse to send any contentious Bills to Grand Committees or not, because if they sent one they could not in reason refuse to send another. He had referred to the Deceased Wife's Sister Bill.
§ MR. GALLOWAY
asked if it were intended by that to be suggested that the principle to be observed was that the contentious bills introduced by private Members could be sent to a Grand Committee but if they were introduced by the Government they could not. That was, he was sure, a form of argument which the House would never accept. He thought the House would be very ill advised if it once began to draw such a distinction between private Members and members of the Government. All Members, so far as the House was concerned, had always been treated as having equal rights, and he should be sorry to see anything done which would detract from or minimise that custom. This Bill did not appear to him to be any more contentious than many other Bills which had already been sent to Grand Committees. He objected to Bills being sent to Grand Committees at all, because when he first came into the House his attention was drawn by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Isle of Thanet to the effect of this procedure, and he was convinced that the system was a pernicious one. If, however, objection was taken to the reference of this particular Bill to a Grand Committee because it was not a private Member's Bill, he would remind the House that in 1894 the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Fife moved that the Employers Liability Bill should be sent to a Grand Committee. The Employers 1091 Liability Bill was as contentious as this, Bill, and he failed to see on what principle I they should refuse to send the Bill to a Grand Committee.
§ MR. GALLOWAY
If the right hon. Gentleman will carry his memory back to the discussions he conducted with very great ability, I think he will admit that it was a contentious Bill.
§ MR. ASQUITH
It had one contentious clause, but the whole of the rest of the Bill was accepted by the House.
§ MR. GALLOWAY
said the right hon. Gentleman was in an illogical position if, having made that admission, he objected to contentious Bills being sent to Grand Committees. He expressed regret that the Government had changed their proposal. The Motion originally in the name of the Home Secretary was to refer this Bill to the Grand Committee on Trade, but the Motion on the Paper was to send it to the Grand Committee on Law. His right hon. friend the Member for North East Manchester said that one Committee was busy and the other was not. That might be true, but he did not admit the contention so far as the present state of business was concerned. They ought not to decide whether a Bill should go to one Committee or another according to the state of business in those Committees. The way they ought to decide it was clearly laid down in the Standing Orders, namely, that certain Bills should be sent to one Committee and certain Bills of another class should be sent to the other Committee. This did not appear to him to be a Bill to refer to the Grand Committee on Law. The other Bills relating to the same Department, namely, the Home Office, were before the Standing Committee on Trade, and if the Aliens Bill were sent to the Grand Committee on Law it would be difficult for the Home Secretary to attend both Committees.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN (Stirling Burghs)
I do not know that the question as between the Committee on Trade and the Committee on Law is one of great importance. I think they have 1092 become very much mixed in the course of our transactions for many years, and I suspect if the hon. Gentleman who has spoken just now had the advantage of consulting the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Isle of Thanet, from whom he originally derived his opinions on the subject, he would find that that right hon. Gentleman does not care a straw which of the two Committees you send the Bill to, he dislikes them both so much. I very much agree with my hon. friends behind me, and I see reasons why this Bill should not be sent to a Committee upstairs, but should be dealt with before the Committee of the Whole House. We have received from the Government as yet no reason whatever why this Bill should be dealt with in an exceptional way. My friends who have spoken in favour of keeping it in the House have dwelt especially upon the contentious nature of the measure. The words contentious and non-contentious are rather ambiguous. What do you mean by non-contentious in regard to a Bill? Such a thing does not exist. If you mean a Bill that nobody in any corner of the House has the slightest objection to, it must be a very remarkable Bill, a somewhat ingenious Bill, and probably it would be a very worthless Bill if some fault cannot be found with it by somebody or other. But that is not what is meant, as I understand. What is meant, and what we should call a non-contentious measure, is one which does not raise any great division of opinion in the House and which is accepted on its main stages by the great body of the House, and although there might be, as in the case of the Employers Liability Bill, here a clause and there a clause which creates controversy, the rest of the Bill being to the taste of the House, it may very well be treated as a non-contentious Bill. But this Bill is very much more than a contentious Bill. Not only is it very bitterly and keenly opposed and resented Ion practical, sentimental, and historical grounds by many of us, but it is also a Bill which introduces a new constitutional practice and principle. We are now going for the first time—it may be right to do it, or it may be wrong—to set up a great, elaborate, and deliberate system of keeping foreigners of a certain kind out of the country. Well, that is surely a 1093 departure from our ordinary practice, a departure from the traditions and from the general and historical attitude of this country, and on that ground, apart from the fact of the people being divided in opinion about it, it ought to be kept before the House, und the detailed provisions of it ought to be discussed before the people in the light of day and not in a room upstairs. That is the main ground on which I entirely agree with those who say that the ordinary course should be followed. Whether it will save time is another question altogether. There is no Bill before the House this session which has a more distinctly revolutionary principle in it than this Bill. None, And it is to be treated as if it were of no account at all and sent to be dealt with by a Grand Committee as if it were some little Bill about local government, or a trade bill about the general provisions of which opinion both in the House and out of it was agreed. That is the ground on which it seems to me it ought to be kept in the House, and I hope the Government will yet agree to do this, because from the very fact that they have shown reluctance hitherto to indicate any reason for taking another course, I fancy that they cannot have a very strong opinion on the subject themselves. If they put aside the mere question of the convenience of business, which may or may not be of force, on the merit of the question as to the nature of the Bill I would ask is this not distinctly out of the category of Bills which can be dealt with in that way, and is the country outside not entitled to have it discussed in all its details with the greatest publicity and in the fullest way so that every Member, whether he be a trade Member or a lawyer, shall have an opportunity of expressing his opinion upon it?
§ *MR. AKERS-DOUGLAS
The right hon. Gentleman who hag just addressed the House has described this Bill as one of great controversy and great contention. I confess that is rather news to me considering the tone which prevailed during the Second Reading discussion on the Bill. The right hon. Gentleman who moved the rejection of the Bill on the Second Reading in a most able and most 1094 moderate speech said that, while it was a measure to which he himself was opposed, he had little doubt that the assent of this House would be given to it—[OPPOSITION cries of "No"]—and I think it is too late to say that this Bill is one which is looked upon by the House or the country as a measure of very great contention. The Second Reading of the measure was carried by a very large majority in this House. The Bill was passed with the support of a number of hon. Members opposite, and of certain right hon. Gentlemen who sit on the Front Bench opposite. I quite agree with the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition that it is very difficult to define what is a contentious measure, but this Bill does not provoke anything like the unanimous opposition of hon. Gentlemen opposite, while it receives unanimous support on the Ministerial side of the House. The class of Bill especially suitable for consideration in Grand Committee is one which contains one important question of principle, and the rest of which is taken up with provisions for the application of that principle. The Aliens Bill is of that nature. Its principle is the exclusion from, or the regulation of, the admission to this country of undesirable aliens, and that has been accepted by a majority of 124. It now only remains to define what classes of undesirable aliens should be excluded, and to provide the machinery for that exclusion, or for the regulations if we are to admit them to this country.
Some allusion has been made by the hon. Member for Islington to Amendments on the Paper which, he says, are very largely against the principle of the Bill. But I am bound to say that in looking at these Amendments I cannot come to the same conclusion. None of the Amendments on the Paper are opposed to the principle of the Bill, and only one proposes the omission of a clause: that dealing with the congested districts. Bills of equal magnitude have before now been sent to the Grand Committees, among them the Employers Liability Bill, which was most contentious in one clause, involving an absolutely new principle; the Prisons Bill, the Habitual Inebriates Bill, both of these dealing with questions of personal liberty; and the Court of Criminal Appeal Bill. Really I can see very little difference between this Bill and those Bills 1095 The hon. Member opposite said that this Bill is extremely controversial both in this House and the country. Well, that is certainly not my impression from the resolutions which have reached me on this question. It is true there have been certain resolutions connected with two questions dealt with in the Bill, in both of which pointed out on the Second Reading there was a misunderstanding. There was first of all the question of political refugees, and I have already given assurances that there is no intention to exclude that class of aliens, and we will accept an Amendment to that effect.
§ *MR. AKERS-DOUGLAS
I venture to say that it is perfectly easy to so arrange an Amendment as to make our intention on that matter perfectly clear. Some hon. Members have said that the Government are sending this Bill to the Grand Committee more as a question of expediency because we find that the state of business in the House is such that a Bill of this character would not be likely to pass through Committee of the Whole House at so late a period of the session. Well, there is no doubt that this Bill will receive much better attention in Grand Committee. All points of detail will be there thoroughly thrashed out; and it will afterwards come before the House at a later stage, as amended, for further discussion. There has been no change in the intention of the Government. We have always believed that this Bill should and could properly be referred to a Grand Committee. The division on the Second Reading was not taken till midnight, and there was no opportunity of moving that it be remitted to the Grand Committee on Law.
§ *MR. AKERS-DOUGLAS
Yes, it was the Grand Committee on Trade, but at present I point out that the issue now before the House is not whether it should go to the Grand Committee on Trade or Law, but whether it should go upstairs. I trust that the House will agree to refer 1096 the Bill to the Committee on Law, and I am quite certain that those who wish to arrive at a satisfactory conclusion on this question will do far better to vote for its reference upstairs than to keep it for Committee of the Whole House, because it will be more thoroughly considered there than here.
§ MR. ASQUITH
It has been admitted that upon a Motion of this kind we cannot enter in any degree into the details of the measure. But at the same time there are always two questions to be borne in mind when it is proposed to withdraw a Bill from Committee of the Whole House to a Committee upstairs. These are: what is the nature of the measure itself, and what is the character of the precedent about to be set for those who come afterwards. Whether the one test or the other is applied, this is pre-eminently a Bill over which the House ought to retain its own complete and undelegated jurisdiction. If the controversial character of a measure were to be measured by the size of the majority in its favour, it is only necessary to have a Ministerial majority large and docile enough to remove every measure from the arena of controversy. Every argument that can be used in favour of referring this Bill to a Standing Committee might be used with equal plausibility in favour of referring the Licensing Bill to a Standing Committee, and even the Government has not advanced as far as that. The procedure on the Employers Liability Bill has been quoted as a precedent justifying the action of the Government, but the Second Reading of that Bill had been carried without a division. When the Motion was made for the reference of the Bill to the Standing Committee, the present Prime Minister made a very half-hearted protest, arguing that the Bill ought rather to go to a Select Committee. "We are all desirous that a Bill on this subject should pass," the right hon. Gentleman had said. The Motion of reference was carried without a division, yet so strong was the feeling against it that a large number of Gentleman on the opposite side refused to take any part in the proceedings of the Grand Committee, and insisted on re-discussing every point on Report. The case is therefore entirely different from that of the present Bill. The Home Secretary said 1097 that no one has put down an Amendment for the omission of a clause. I am sorry to hear it, and I shall immediately proceed to put down such Amendments. There is not a single clause of the Bill which does not bristle with contentious matter. It introduces not only an innovation, but a revolution of the traditions and precedents which have hitherto governed the legislation and administration of this country in regard to the admission of foreigners. It is an abuse of language to compare this Bill with any of the measures which the Home Secretary has mentioned.
MR. GIBSON BOWLES (Lynn Regis)
said that the onus for making out a case for the withdrawal of the Bill from the ordinary procedure of this House rested with the Government. He was not concerned to debate the respective merits of the Grand Committee on Law or the Grand Committee on Trade. To whichever Committee the Bill was referred it would constitute an undesirable precedent. Let the House consider the enormous advantage to be derived from a discussion in Committee of the Whole House. Every kind of question arose and was answered; questions were submitted from different aspects; and Members were allowed to make more than one speech. When a Bill was sent to a Grand Committee and brought down again to this House, a Member was only allowed to make one speech on Report. That was a very serious injury to the future of a Bill. Every hon. Member who had assisted in passing a Bill through the ordinary Committee of the House knew that from some unexpected quarter most valuable suggestions were often advanced, and were adopted by the Minister in charge of the Bill. When a Bill was sent to a Grand Committee, seven-eighths of the House were suppressed and withdrawn from the Committee on the Bill; and the consequence was that there was only one-eighth of the chance of good suggestions being offered for the improvement of the Bill. What justification did the Home Secretary give for this Motion? He said, first of all, that the principle of the Bill was accepted, and that it only remained to define the conditions under which aliens were to be admitted or excluded. That was exactly the kind of work in which the House of Commons did ten times as well as any 1098 Standing Committee. It was in Committee of the Whole House that the opportunity arose for making suggestions which often proceeded from hon. Members who were hardly expected to speak on the Bill at all. Then the Home Secretary said that the Bill would receive much better attention in the Grand Committee than in this House. On what did the right hon. Gentleman found that? He maintained it was entirely contrary to the experience of the House. He had some experience of the House; and he knew perfectly well that in Committee of the Whole House a Bill of this character would be certain to receive the most careful attention. The right hon. Gentleman, however, at last betrayed his real reason. He said that if they sent the Bill up to the Grand Committee it would have a greater chance of passing. But the great object of this House was debate. This was a Parliament House, and it was better that they should debate and discuss a Bill thoroughly and not pass it, than pass it without having debated it thoroughly. The great object of the Home Secretary was to get the Bill passed anyhow or somehow; and he had really the assurance to say that it was better that it should be considered upstairs than in this House.
This was undoubtedly a very important Bill. It would reverse the whole of the conditions of the country, and rescind and break through the laws of hospitality which they had always extended to the poor and oppressed of every country; and from the exercise of which they themselves had received benefit. Every oppressed man that came to this country brought something that had added to its security, its industry, and its reputation. It was something to know that this was the one land in all the world where the oppressed might find a refuge. Whether it was necessary or advisable to alter those laws he did not pretend to say. The Bill proposed the adoption of conditions which were known in Continental countries, and which were not perhaps a credit to them. It was a contentious measure; and the House should not allow it to be withdrawn from full discussion, in exchange for a miserable and inferior discussion upstairs where there would not be the facilities and convenient circumstances which attached to a 1099 Committee of the Whole House. He himself considered Standing Committees to be most improper bodies to have been set up in this Parliament at all. They were usurpations, and every Bill referred to them was a Bill really withdrawn from proper debate in Parliament, for which this House existed. Under these circumstances he would be bound to vote against the Motion.
§ MR. McKENNA (Monmouthshire, N.)
said that whatever decision the House might come to on this Motion, every hon. Member would agree that it was highly desirable that there should be some consistency in the principle on which Bills were sent to Grand Committees. He had endeavoured to form his opinion on this subject on the best models; and he naturally turned to the Prime Minister, and to the views expressed by him on previous occasions, in order to come to a judgment on this Motion. The Prime Minister had, in and out of office, declared himself upon this subject with the greatest consistency. In 1894, on the Motion to send the Employers Liability Bill to a Grand Committee the Prime Minister expressed himself with the greatest clearness. In dealing with the principle on which a Bill should be sent to a Grand Committee he said that if any large section of the House were not satisfied with the consideration of the Grand Committee, it was in their power to raise on Report all the questions which could be raised in Committee of the Whole House, and that, therefore, if reference to a Grand Committee did not meet with general assent, no real saving of time was effected in attempting to avoid the Committee stage. The Prime Minister did not, however, cover the whole ground. It was not only that there would be no saving of time in this House by sending contentious Bills to a Grand Committee, but also that the time of the Grand Committee would be wasted, months being perhaps occupied to the exclusion of other Bills which could be satisfactorily dealt with by a Grand Committee. When a contentious Bill was sent back to the House they would have to go through the whole business of debating it in detail, and nothing would have been saved. They had had recent experience of what might happen in a 1100 Grand Committee when there was determined opposition to the principle of a measure. The noble Lord the Member for Greenwich had shown that a Bill could be more effectively destroyed in Grand Committee where there was no closure, than it could be destroyed in Committee of the Whole House. He would refer the First Lord of the Treasury to the views he expressed in 1894; and, on that ground, he would suggest that the right hon. Gentleman was out of court in proposing to send this Bill to a Grand Committee. But that was not all. The First Lord of the Treasury again expressed his opinion on the subject, not, as on the former occasion, when he was in opposition, but when he was responsible for the conduct of business in this House. He would refer to an Answer given by the right hon. Gentleman to a Question on the 6th February, 1902. He was asked if he would provide facilities for the Deceased Wife's Sister Bill; and he replied—Grand Committees were intended for Bills of great detail and of no great controversial character.Then he went on to say that this was a Bill of no great detail but which excited very vehement feelings on both sides of the House and also in the country; feelings, however, which he did not share. Still the Prime Minister recognised that a Bill of great controversial character which excited feeling in the country, ought not to be sent to a Grand Committee. It could not be suggested that the Prime Minister would put forward such an argument as that because of the mere expediency of the moment, and without any real subtantial belief in the principle he was stating. He would suggest to the Prime Minister that in the view he then stated he was genuinely expressing his opinion as to the principle on which a controversial Bill should or should not be sent to a Grand Committee. That was the right hon. Gentleman's opinion: two years ago. Had he changed his opinion now; and, if so, would he give the House the reason why? He submitted that unless the right hon. Gentleman could give the House satisfactory reasons for his change of mind he ought not to press this Motion. If he did press the Motion, and did not give any satisfactory reasons, they would be forced to the conclusion that the Prime Minister, 1101 in the conduct of business in this House, was occasionally driven to use various arguments for the purposes of expediency, and not to express his genuine feelings as to what was desirable.
§ MR. EDMUND ROBERTSON (Dundee)
said he was glad the Prime Minister was present for two reasons. He thought, at this stage of the debate, they were entitled to the leadership of the Leader of the House. This was not a Departmental matter to be left to the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill. It was a question of the highest importance—namely, the principle on which the House should delegate its business to its own Committees. On a former occasion, the Prime Minister laid down what he believed to be the correct rule for the guidance of the House in such cases as this. No allusion had been made to the rule laid down by the Prime Minister in 1895, when this question was elaborately discussed in connection with the proposal to refer a certain class of business to the Scottish Standing Committee. The Scottish Standing Committee was treated as an ordinary Grand Committee, and the rule which the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury then laid down as Leader of the Opposition was in terms applied to all Grand Committees. The right hon. Gentleman then said—While I express general concurrence with the views of my right hon. friend the Member for Bodmin, I repeat that neither his plan nor any plan is possible, if once controversial Bills are to be referred to these Grand Committees. Would the Government dare to refer to an English Committee reflecting the value of opinion in this House the discussion of such a measure as the Local Veto Bill. I do not think so. It would knock the Committee to pieces and discredit the whole system of Grand Committees.The right hon. Gentleman went on to say—How are we to distinguish between controversial and non-controversial measures?and proceeded to give an example in the Crofters Bill, and asked whether that was a Bill that should be sent before a Grand Committee. Yet the Crofters BUI of 1895 passed its First Reading without opposition and almost without debate. It was between the First and Second Reading that the right hon. Gentleman took objection to its being sent to a 1102 Grand Committee. But that measure passed its Second Reading without a division. He invited the right hon. Gentleman to explain to the House now, how he could in the year 1904 propose to refer such a Bill as that now under discussion, approved as it had been, to a Grand Committee when he refused to allow a Bill which had passed through its intermediate stages to go to a Grand Committee in 1895. As this was the last occasion upon which the right hon. Gentleman laid down so elaborately this principle he would quote one more sentence. The right hon. Gentleman said:—I have no objection—…to the setting up of any number of Grand Committees provided you do not interfere with the general work of this House and no controversial business is submitted to them. Till those conditions are fulfilled I shall look with suspicion upon and I shall oppose any proposal for dealing in the manner suggested by the Government with this vast issue. I beg hon. Members who are interested in the work of this House and are anxious for its future success to watch with great suspicion the beginning of a movement which, unless safeguarded at every turn, may end in bringing the whole machinery of Grand Committees into hopeless disreputeIt was impossible to reconcile the speech of the right hon. Gentleman on that occasion with the line he now desired to pursue, and he respectfully asked him to explain what had taken place since, what difference had there been, to justify him in taking the action he proposed.
§ MR. RUNCIMAN (Dewsbury)
spoke of the Bill as a most important measure, in that it affected the interests of the largest seaports, interfered with the immigration regulations and plunged into matters of international policy of the very gravest kind. Although Clause 8 provided that the Home Secretary should have due regard to any obligations and treaties which already existed, the Bill would involve great risks. They had known international troubles to spring from smaller matters in the past. To his mind the measure was not one which ought to be referred to a Grand Committee; it should be dealt with in Committee of the Whole House. The Bill really covered such immense interests that he doubted whether the Grand Committee on Law was really equipped to deal with it. On a former occasion the right j hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister had 1103 argued that the reference of controversial Bills to Grand Committees would knock the whole system to pieces. How could he reconcile his declaration on that occasion to his present attitude? He (Mr. Runciman) was opposed to the Bill going to the Grand Committee on Law, for one reason, because it dealt with matters which ought only to be dealt with in Committee of the Whole House; and, for another, because he had so much respect for the work of the Grand Committees that he felt they should not have work cast upon them which was likely to bring them into disrepute.
§ *MR. JOHN ELLIS (Nottinghamshire, Rushcliffe)
expressed the opinion that they were entitled to the presence of the right hon. Gentleman on an occasion of this importance, and said it was very unusual, unless he was occupied with very high work outside, for the Leader of the House when his words had been quoted at such length to absent himself in this way. All who had listened to this interesting discussion with an open mind must come to two conclusions. First, that they must be very careful indeed as to what Bills were sent to the Committees upstairs, and second, that this Bill was a most unsuitable one to send to a Grand Committee. He had recently read the Bill again and all the Amendments, and he was aghast when he found it was intended to send it to a Grand Committee. This House ought to retain within its hands all Bills raising great issues of public policy. Although, as had been seen that afternoon, there were Members wholly opposed to the system of Grand Committees he held strongly that they were very useful portions of the machinery of the House. His opinion was that more useful portions of their machinery did not exist than these Committees if properly used, but that nothing that raised great political issues should go before them. Whether or not a Bill was contentious depended not upon the number of clauses it contained but upon the contents of those clauses. He remembered a few years ago a long and complicated measure dealing with railway rates being sent to a Grand Committee. There was no difference as to principle, but the Bill involved a great mass of detail. The Grand Committee was an admirable tribunal for dealing with such a measure; 1104 it was considered by gentlemen possessing technical knowledge and skill, and the proposals were satisfactorily threshed out. But too many Bills of a different nature—Bills short, it might be, but raising vital matters and warm controversy—had been sent to Grand Committees of recent I years. Further the Leader of the House was responsible, and the result was that the time of those Committees had been largely wasted. There had I been sometimes a difficulty even in securing a quorum, so certain was it that the Bill would go no further. I He mentioned that fact to show the injury that was being done to the most I efficient instrument in the procedure of Parliament for the promotion of legislation. Of Bills of a particular kind he desired to see more sent to Grand Committees, but he thought that the Home Secretary, if he bore in mind his own experience in Grand Committee and if he took to heart some of the statements which had been made or quoted in the course of the debate, would come to the conclusion that this Bill was not a suitable measure to be so dealt with.
§ LORD EDMUND FITZMAURICE (Wiltshire, Cricklade),
speaking as one who had for several years acted as one of the Chairmen of the Grand Committee on Law, said that, while he had no desire to discuss the details of the Bill, he was placed in a position of some difficulty by reason of the fact that the Home Secretary himself had made the exceedingly important and almost controversial announcement that he intended to introduce important Amendments into the Bill. He would have liked a clearer statement on that matter. The right hon. Gentleman had stated that he had already made such a statement, but certainly he personally had not the faintest recollection of it.
§ *MR. AKERS-DOUGLAS
What I said was in reply to the right hon. Baronet the Member for the Forest of Dean on the Second Reading, with regard to political refugees, that it would be a point for the Committee.
§ LORD EDMUND FITZMAURICE
said that was merely a generality of which the House would like to know the exact 1105 meaning. The proposal to refer this Bill to a Grand Committee was the last and the gravest step in a lengthy series of innovations which the present Government had been carrying out in the treatment of the Grand Committees. The ordinary course of business was that a Bill should be considered by a Committee of the Whole House, but the Standing Orders allowed an exception to be made under certain circumstances, and it was for those who proposed the exception to prove their case. The House had reason to complain of the shilly-shallying of the Government in having first of all led them to believe the Bill would be considered in Committee of the Whole House, and then in having delayed in making their choice between the Grand Committee on Law and the Grand Committee on Trade. As to the class of Bills that should be sent upstairs, having been a Member of the House in 1882 when these Committees were established, he knew perfectly well what were the intentions of Mr. Gladstone, of the framers of the Standing Orders, and of the authorities upon the business of the House. The original intention was that these Committees should consider measures connected with the improvement and consolidation of the law. The Statute Law Commissioners at that time were engaged in the great work of improving and consolidating large branches of the law, and it was supposed that that work would be facilitated by the establishment of these Committees, to whom would be sent Consolidation Bills involving much detail and requiring careful consideration, but arousing no controversy. That, however, was the one use to which the Government had never put these Committees. He was far from saying that none of the Bills which had been sent were proper Bills to go to the Grand Committee on Law, nor could he agree that no controversial Bills had ever gone to the Grand Committees. The present proposal was only an extension of bad precedent set when a most controversial liquor Bill was referred to a Grand Committee; the Bill consisted of seventeen lines, and there were seventeen pages of Amendments. The result of such a course of procedure was to discredit the Committee and to place in a most difficult position the Chairman, who naturally could not claim the high au- 1106 thority vested in Mr. Speaker. In the case of the Deceased Wife's Sister Bill, the closure had constantly to be applied and the atmosphere of the Committee Room closely resembled that of the House when a great controversial Bill was under consideration. The clauses of the Aliens Bill bristled with controversial matters; the measure, as a whole, struck a deadly blow at the great right of asylum by which men flying from persecution, political, civil, or religious, had been able to take refuge in this country unmolested; and for these reasons he protested against the Bill being smuggled out of the House by a dishonest use of a procedure intended for totally different purposes.
§ *MR. NORMAN (Wolverhampton, S.)
said it was admitted that the question of the propriety of the Bill going upstairs would be decided in each Member's mind by whether or not a Member desired the measure rapidly to pass into law, and that desire would naturally depend upon one's view of the Bill itself. Personally he had great sympathy with much that was in the Bill; but before he could do anything to expedite its passage he would require strong assurances with regard to the safeguarding of the right of political asylum, and that the reference should not be to an individual but to a Court of Summary Jurisdiction, as recommended by the Royal Commission, of the question of who should and who should not be admitted into the country. But the even more important matter of the time-honoured procedure of this House was involved, and after the speeches of the Leader of the Opposition and of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Fife, he felt that he could not for a moment contemplate voting for the Motion. If any further argument on that point were necessary, it would have been supplied by the absolutely conclusive extract from the speech of the Prime Minister read by the hon. Member for Dewsbury. The Bill was the Bill of the Government; the responsibility of finding adequate time for debate rested with them, and he could not assist them in laying aside responsibility for enabling the fullest and freest public discussion to take place.
§ MR. TENNANT (Berwickshire)
agreed with the Home Secretary that the question 1 under discussion was not as to which of 1107 the Grand Committees the Bill should be referred; the real question was whether or not this was a controversial measure. The Home Secretary had expressed his surprise that it should be so regarded. Apart altogether from the action of this House, officials representing the right hon. Gentleman's own Department had admitted that the matter was one of great, if not insurmountable, difficulty. Sir Kenelm Digby had stated that no more serious injury could be done to a public Department than to impose upon it duties it could not perform. The Bill contained provisions which the Home Office were to administer, and yet the man who knew more about that Department than probably any other human being had said that it was almost impossible for any public Department to administer those provisions. He desired to see the Grand Committees fostered and strengthened in every possible way; they had done excellent work in the past; but they would not be strengthened by having such Bills sent up to them. What constantly happened was that a minority of the Committee attended, members specially interested discussed the questions, and then when the mature judgment of the Committee had been expressed, a docile majority in the House of Commons was invoked, and the decisions of the Committee were reversed. If the Government would agree not to reverse any of the decisions of the Committee there might not be much to be said against the proposal, but they would not, and perhaps constitutionally could not, say anything of the kind. He submitted that the present occasion was one on which so great a responsibility should not be cast on the Grand Committee by withdrawing from the jurisdiction of the House so important and controversial a measure as the Aliens Bill.
§ *ME. STUART SAMUEL (Tower Hamlets, Whitechapel)
said whatever the decision of the House might be on the general question, it could not be denied that the balance of argument had been in favour of the opponents of the proposal to send this Bill to a Grand Committee. He was not surprised that the Prime Minister had fled on being bombarded with shot taken from his own arsenal; but it was a remarkable case that, with 1108 the exception of the hon. Member for South-West Manchester, not a single Member on the other side had supported the Home Secretary on the present occasion.
§ MR. GALLOWAY
I am sure the hon. Member does not wish to misrepresent me; I did not support the Home Secretary.
§ *MR. STUART SAMUEL
said that he would, of course, acquit the hon. Member of having done such a thing. The Home Secretary had argued that the Bill was non-contentious, but if so there was every chance of its passing in the House itself, while if it were contentious it had no business to be referred to the Grand Committee. But it was news to be told that the Bill was uncontroversial, as in previous discussions considerable difference of opinion had been evinced with regard to the revolutionary proposals contained in the Bill. If the measure were sent upstairs it would still farther curtail the opportunities afforded to Members of discussing measures affecting the interests of the people of the country, and he should vote against such a course being taken.
§ MR. WINSTON CHURCHILL (Oldham)
said he felt somewhat bewildered by the course the debate had taken. Last session considerable discussion took place on the proposal to send the Deceased Wife's Sister Bill to a Grand Committee. On that occasion, in common with the Prime Minister and many other Members on the Government side of the House, he felt very strongly that the Bill should not be so dealt with, and the Leader of the House laid it down very clearly that controversial Bills ought not to be sent upstairs so long as the procedure of this House and of the Grand Committees remained as at present. He could not remember that that view was shared by hon. Members on the Opposition side of the House, but he was glad to discover that right hon. Gentlemen had now apparently changed their opinion as to the functions of the Grand Committees and the class of measure that should be referred to them, and to recognise that the differences between the Opposition and himself were not so great as he had 1109 supposed. The Home Secretary was the only person he had heard, describe this Bill as non-contentious. What was meant by a non-contentious measure? Was it a Bill which could not be contended against, or to which no objection could lie taken? If so, surely it could not be said this Bill came within that category. It raised all kids of bitter and angry feelings in various arts of the country; it brought up questions of prejudice and passion. Many Royal supporters of the Government objected to the Bill, and Lord Rothschild himself had introduced to the right hon. Gentleman a deputation which complained of the Bill in moderate but powerful terms. It was an abuse of language to describe the Bill as non-contentious, and nobody, except for Party purposes, would have made such a statement. He would not argue the principle of sending the Bill upstairs, as it seemed to be admitted that those who desired the Bill to pass would favour its reference to a Grand Committee, while those who objected to the Bill would oppose such a reference. He should like to ask one question or the matter, not of principle, but of practice. Did the Home Secretary really imagine he was facilitating the passage of this Bill by sending it to a Grand Committee, the machinery of which was unfitted to the conduct of controversial subjects? The right hon. Member for Wiltshire had said the Deceased Wife's Sister Bill was frequently closured in Grand Committee, but that was done only on one occasion. He understood that it had been ruled that the power of closure did not properly reside in the Chairman of such a Committee.
§ LORD EDMUND FITZMAURICE
said it had been distinctly laid down that ii did; the Standing Order stated that the procedure of these Committees was to be the same as that of Select Committees.
§ MR. WINSTON CHURCHILL
said he understood, at any rate, that the practice had been much discouraged by the Chair men of Committees. They had objected last year to sending the Deceased Wife's Sister Bill to a Grand Committee, and had urged that it was not practical politics to do so; and the event showed that they were right. The present Bill 1110 bristled with questions of police, The liberty of the subject, race, and religion, and a multiplicity of detail, and, after all, detail was a matter of principle when a measure was wholly objected to. This Bill appeared to contain a sufficient number of clauses to make it an unpleasant, disagreeable, and ill-tempered operation in Grand. Committee, and moreover, if it passed the Grand Committee the whole business might be gone over again on Report. The thought the proposal showed that the Government were not in earnest. He had long suspected it because there were forces at work in the Government Party against the measure. If the Government intended to carry it they need not propose to send it to a Committee where the ordinary machinery for closure by compartments was not at their disposal. He thought this Bill was intended to deal with certain constituencies in the East End of London, at the next election. He did not believe the Government expected to carry the Bill or even desired that it should eventually take its place on the Statute-book.
§ *MR. MOULTON (Cornwall, Launceston)
said his view was not only that the Bill should not be sent to a Grand Committee, but further that the House had a right to call on the Home Secretary not to press the Motion. There was a vast difference between legislation and procedure. The minority had no right to complain of the legislation that the Government tried to pass; they were entitled to oppose it, but they could not complain of a Government using its majority for the purposes of supporting its legislative proposals. But the ease of procedure was wholly different. The Rules of Procedure existed mainly for the defence of the minority. They were settled in the interests of the House as a Legislative Body, so that whatever Party might be in power, the privileges of the House and all its Members in respect of debate and the examination and discussion of proposed legislation might be secure. If it was to be held that a vote of the House was sufficient to justify an abuse of procedure, then the Rules of Procedure were absolutely as though they were revoked, because a powerful Government could then just as much 1111 trample on the Rules of Procedure meant to protect the rights of the minority as they could pass a Bill to which their opponents; objected. The Rules of Procedure were agreed to by the House generally in view of the possibility that in future years the Party then in power might be the Party in Opposition There fore they were framed to secure rights and liberties to those who would not be strong enough at the moment to insist upon their views. He did not hesitate to say, therefore, that it should be a point of personal honour with the members of the Government never to abuse the Rules of Procedure. It was not a question of whether a docile majority would support them, it was a much higher issue. The Government could always get a docile majority to cover everything, but they should never call upon that majority to enable them to abuse the rights of those who were not strong enough to protect them. The present case was clearly one in which these principles should be applied. It was admitted by all that it was not the intention of the Rules that every Bill should be capable of being sent to a Grand Committee, but only a particular class of Bills. What, then, was the class of Bills which the Rules proposed to allow to go to Grand Committees? The Home Secretary himself acknowledged that such Bills must be substantially non-contentious. Supposing the Home Secretary when this debate began firmly believed in his view that this was a non-contentious Bill, could he say that it was a non-contentious Bill at this moment? The right hon. Gentleman had heard arguments which showed that the questions which would arise were questions of deep principle and not merely of detail. It was impossible for the Home Secretary now to believe that this Bill was non-contentious; this debate had proved the contrary, and the Home Secretary, therefore, ought not, as a matter of personal honour, to proceed with the Motion.
§ *MR. AKERS-DOUGLAS moved that the Question be now put.
§ The Motion was not accepted.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN (Birmingham, W.)
The question, of course, is whether 1112 a particular Bill ought to be submitted to a Grand Committee or discussed in. Committee of the Whole House. The hon. and learned Member who has just sat down edeavoured to make that question a matter of personal honour to the Ministers concerned. That, however, is quite imposible and unnecessary; we are really discussing a question of the convenience of the House and the progress of public business rather than a mater of personal honour of Ministers. If he hon. and learned Gentleman contends that for the present Government to send a Bill, which is clearly a contentious Bill, to a Grand Committee is a derogation of their evident duty, what has he to say of that Government, which a short time ago he supported, which sent to a Grand Committee the Employers. Liability Bill?
§ MR. MUNRO FERGUSON (Leith Burghs)
And the Motion to send it to a Grand Committee was passed without a division.
§ MR. J. CHAMBERLAIN
I will put my view before the House, and I think I have some grounds for it. The hon. and learned Gentleman, as I say, supported a Government which sent the Employers Liability Bill to a Grand Committee. That Bill was one of the most contentious Bills which, has ever been in this House during the time I have been here. We I differed in regard to the whole principle of that measure. The views which we held in opposition to that measure were afterwards carried into effect in the Compensation for Workmen Bill. I am not entering into the merits, but to pretend that a Bill of that character was not contentious is perfectly absurd, and to state that such a Bill was allowed to pass the Second Reading has really nothing to do with the contention I am laying before the House. The question is whether the Opposition of that day was opposed to the Bill or not. The hon. Member for Oldham said that 1113 really this was a question of opinion founded on the merits of the Bill. If you approve of the Bill you vote for sending it to a Grand Committee; if you do not approve of the Bill you endeavour to keep it in the House, where you resort to the process of obstruction in the hope of destroying it. Of course the hon. Member for Oldham is a little inconsistent, for while he made that statement, in which I entirely concur, at the same time he declared that the sending of a Bill to the Grand Committee was the act of a Government which did not desire to see it passed. That is all very well as a piece of debating-society oratory, but there is absolutely no Member of the House who has had any acquaintance with its practical procedure who does not know perfectly well that the object of sending any Bill to a Grand Committee is to promote its progress, and see it passed. That is why the Government are sending this Bill to the Grand Committee, and hon. Gentlemen opposite are, in the existing state of things, perfectly justified in opposing it, just as we in turn would do when hon. Gentlemen opposite proposed legislation to which we object. I approve of this Bill, and therefore shall vote for it going to a Grand Committee. [OPPOSITION ironical laughter.] I would hope that everybody on both sides of the House were equally frank. Every Bill, almost without exception, proposed by a Government is a contentious Bill.
It so happens that I have had a good deal of experience of Grand Committees in the early stages. I was in the Cabinet which proposed them, and to me was given the charge of the first great Bill that was brought before such a Committee, viz., the Bankruptcy Bill. Mr. Gladstone never contended that his proposal for delegation was to be confined to non-contentious Bills, for if he had he would have been unable to send the Bankruptcy Bill to a Grand Committee. But undoubtedly what Mr. Gladstone did say was that, in the first instance, in carrying out his great experiment, he proposed to send only those Bills which were not contentious in the most distinctly partisan sense, where the whole of the Government supporters were on one side and the whole of the Opposition Party was on the other. The Bankruptcy Bill was a contentious measure. Some hon. Members 1114 approved of it and some did not, and the; same thing might apply to this Bill. I think if this Bill goes to the Grand Committee it will be found that there are divisions of opinion on both sides of the House. But I wish to go back to those early days when Mr. Gladstone proposed his great scheme of Grand Committees. I assert, having been very intimately connected with the proposal, that Mr. Gladstone's object was to limit the operation of obstruction in regard to public measures, to quicken the progress of legislation, and that was to the advantage of every Party which was a progressive Party. I thought so then and I think so still. [Ironical OPPOSITION cheers.] We may dispute as to which side that title can now best be applied, but it appears to me that progress cannot be satisfactorily attained in legislation, in social reform, in all the work with which the House has to deal, unless we secure some measure of delegation. I am in favour, therefore, putting aside for a moment the question of the merits of this particular Bill, of a more general delegation to Committees of the House. We have worked the system experimentally, and as I think, successfully, and I would be glad to see more contentious Bills referred to Grand Committees. If Grand Committees are properly chosen they are, in fact, microcosms of the House. We can have two or three, or even more, sitting at the same time, and we can therefore double or treble the work which the House may perform, and that, as I have said, is to the advantage of the most progressive Party in the House. I invite my hon. friends around me to accept that position, and, though hon. Members opposite are now contesting with us, I invite them to accept the same conclusion. Whatever is done in this respect is for the benefit, not of one Party alone, but of both Parties of the House. More and more the House is taking upon itself detailed work, more and more is expected of legislation, and it cannot perform its duties unless it carries this principle of delegation further than it has hitherto done. If it is alleged, as it has been alleged, that in these Committees there is not sufficient arrangement for dealing with obstruction, then I, for one, will be perfectly prepared to vote for such an alteration of the Rules as will give the 1115 Chairmen of these Committees greater powers.
§ *SIR HENRY FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)
No doubt the right hon. Gentleman speaks with authority as to what was in Mr. Gladstone's mind when the appointment of Grand Committees was first proposed. I was in the House at that time and familiar with all the debates, but Mr. Gladstone never revealed to the House any ulterior intention similar to that which the right hon. Gentleman has alluded. I regret not only that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham was not present during the earlier portion of the debate when Mr. Gladstone's own words in connection with this matter of Grand Committees were read to the House, and also Mr. Gladstone's later utterances in the controversy which arose between him and the then Leader of the Opposition, the late Sir Stafford Northcote. I still more regret that the right hon. Gentleman did not have the opportunity of hearing quoted the views of the Prime Minister on the same subject. These quotations showed that the Prime Minister had exhibited determined opposition session after session, both before and since he became Prime Minister, to sending such Bills to a Grand Committee. The right hon. Gentleman said that he viewed this practice with growing alarm, and that the House was being placed in a false position by sending Bills upstairs which ought to be considered in Committee of the Whole House. In fact, the Prime Minister has committed himself to every argument which has been used in this debate against sending this particular Bill to a Grand Committee. But having heard these quotations from his own statements the Prime Minister left the House and has not taken any further notice of the debate. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken, that if this House is to go on attempting to perform the enormous mass of work now thrown on its shoulders without any delegation or devolution it cannot carry the legislation of the country into effect. But I do not think the Grand Committee, as at present constituted, would prove the most suitable instrument for that purpose. I remember I had the honour of sitting on 1116 the Grand Committee on the Bankruptcy; Bill, about which there was no controversy as to principle—none whatever. The controversy was as to details. Every man in the House of Commons wanted an effective Bill passed. The right hon. Gentleman introduced a very good Bill into the House and carried it through: Grand Committee with consummate ability, and with his great persuasive power he got through all the difficulties of the Report stage. We have heard about Bills which were sent to the Grand Committee which were not suitable for that tribunal. The hon. Member for Oldham alluded to one very well-known. Bill in which he took a distinguished part, along with the noble Lord the Member for Greenwich and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Oxford University. They formed a trio and brought the Committee to a complete standstill. I do not think that in any division they mustered more than seven supporters, but the Committee gave the Bill up in despair and the Bill was wrecked in the Grand Committee by the obstruction pure and simple of a very small minority. That is why the noble Lord and the hon. Member who have occupied the position of Chairmen of Grand Committees have told the House that this is not an efficient, workable instrument. I do not know what the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary expects when he has carried his Motion to take this Bill upstairs. How long does he expect that this Committee will last, and when will all controversy disappear? And then the whole debates will have to be gone over again on the Report stage. The Grand Committee is not an instrument for legislation which the Government desires to see pass. It is only an instrument for legislation which the House desires to see passed, and regarding; which the House says that the details can be much better thrashed out upstairs. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham says that there ought to be delegation and devolution, and I agree that if the House intelligently considered the whole of this question they would be able to contrive some scheme for dealing with it, but it will not be the present scheme. My noble friend behind me quoted a precedent in which the closure was put in force on an important Bill. 1117 But that was put in force on the theory that the proceedings in a Standing Committee were conducted in the same way as the proceedings in a Select Committee, and that a Select Committee had power to regulate its own procedure. How that would work in a protracted series of debates I have my doubts. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham admits that this is a Bill the principle of which is contested. That principle involves most serious questions of an international character and of an administrative character, questions as to the powers of the Executive and the power of dealing with foreign countries, and questions concerning conflicting trades and varying interests, and, therefore, I think that the House is the only tribunal to settle the details of such a measure. I am quite sure it will be impossible to avoid full discussion in the House. If I desired to see this Bill passed, which I do not, I should certainly not support the Motion to refer it to a Standing Committee, because I believe that the whole of the time and labour will be thrown away.
§ MR. DALZIEL
said that the House had great reason to complain of the attitude of the Government with regard to this debate. In a debate of this character, the presence and leadership of the Prime Minister should be given to it. What was the position in which the House found itself? The Home Secretary proposed to refer this Bill to a Grand Committee, and all the debate which followed was treated with the most absolute contempt. That was not the way in which the Government ought to treat the House of Commons in a matter of this kind. For good or evil, he contended that they were to-day sanctioning a proposal which went to the very root of procedure in this House. It would create a revolution in the practice of the House if this Bill were sent to a Grand Committee. The Government having made up their minds, it mattered not whether they, on that side, were unanimous; not the slightest heed was paid to what they said. If the House passed the Motion, what was to prevent the Government coming to the House with the most contentious Bill they could possibly bring forward; and with their solid majority 1118 referring it to a Grand Committee? There might be a good deal to be said for the proposal if this House was expected to pass all the legislation which Governments expected it to pass; but it was a departure which ought not to be treated as it was treated by the Government, and ought not to be settled without full and careful inquiry. It was not a matter to be decided on the Aliens Bill. It went far beyond that to a matter of principle, and might be used for any Bill that could possibly be introduced. They were now about to establish a precedent which would give future Governments the right to send the most contentious Bills upstairs. Nay, more, it would give them the right to take away control from this House, because there would be nothing to prevent a Government, having sent a Bill upstairs, from refusing to accept a single Amendment, leaving the House only the Third Beading stage on which to protest. Such a departure ought not to be carried out without the most complete consideration, and after its almost unanimous acceptance by the House.
This was to his mind a new and a most dangerous proposal. During the afternoon three Bills had been mentioned as instances. The first was the Deceased Wife's Sister Bill; but that had no analogy to the question under discussion. It was a private Member's Bill; and there was the greatest difference in this matter between a private Member's Bill and a Government Bill, because, rightly or wrongly, it was the accepted custom of the House to recognise that if a private Member got a Second Reading for his Bill he ought to have all the advantages which the House, as it affected private Members, could give him. He maintained that the only possibility of passing a private Member's Bill was to send it upstairs. With Government Bills the conditions were altogether different. They were masters of the time of the House; they had the remainder of the session in front of them; and the arguments which would weigh as regarded private Members' Bills did not weigh as regarded Government Bills. Then the Employers Liability Bill was mentioned. It was admitted by every test that could be brought to bear on it that it was not a contentions Bill. If it has been, the House would not have 1119 passed its Second Reading without a division. That Bill, therefore, could not be quoted as a precedent. Then there was the most curious suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham that the Bankruptcy Bill was a contentious Bill. It was very: hard to follow the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham. What did he say about the Bankruptcy Bill a few years ago. He said—It raised absolutely no Party or controversial question, no contentious question: whatever, in the ordinary sense of the word.He would put the right hon. Gentleman of a few years ago against the right hon. Gentleman of to-day, and leave them to; settle it between them. He maintained; that the Bankruptcy Bill, according to its author, was not a contentious Bill. If the Motion were passed they would be making it possible for any future Government to send any Bill they pleased to a Grand Committee. Here was a most extraordinary situation as far as the Government were concerned. The Home Secretary's case for sending the Bill to the Grand Committee was that it was not contentious; the case of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, the only Member who supported the Motion, was that it was contentious. He thought the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham ought to be more fully consulted beforehand in reference to those matters. Then the time of the House would not be wasted. He thought the silence of the Government during the debate had been brazen. He should like to know what the Under-Secretary for the Home Department had to say in that matter. With the courage which characterised him, he might throw over both the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham and the chief of his Department and give new reasons why this departure should be made.
There were other reasons which had a very important bearing on this matter. The hours of the House had been changed, and Grand Committees now sat simultaneously with this House. There might be ten or eighty Members engaged upstairs in a very important debate; and the House might at the same time be engaged in a discussion also. In that way the influ- 1120 ence of the House would be divided; and that was a very important point indeed. He thought the House ought to take into consideration the question whether the Grand Committees should not rise when the Speaker took the Chair. It was obviously impossible that the House should have full authority so long as a great proportion of its Members were engaged upstairs discussing important measures. The proposal of the Government was an all-advised and bad proposal. It was not supported by any one practically, except by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, who supported it for the very reason that the Home Secretary opposed it. No Member of the rank and file of the Party opposite supported it. They saw further than the Home Secretary; and they saw the danger of a Liberal Government sending any measure they liked upstairs. It was a mistaken and a dangerous proposal; there was no precedent to justify it, and he ventured very humbly to protest against it.
§ MR. WHITLEY (Halifax)
said the most astonishing fact in the debate was the extraordinary absence of the Prime Minister. At the very moment the House expected him to give guidance in the matter, and after his own utterances had been quoted from the Front Opposition Bench, the right hon. Gentleman left the House. Surely they had a right to claim that the Prime Minister should not treat the House in such a manner as that. That was not the way to get business through. He had read the speeches on the subject on a previous occasion of the Prime Minister, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, and the hon. Gentleman the Under-Secretary for the Home Department. It was an insult to the House when he heard his own words being read across the Table that the right hon. Gentleman should have immediately left the House and should not come back to tell the House how he proposed to reconcile those words with the action he proposed to take. It would be a proper thing for the House to decline to allow this matter to go forward until the right hon. Gentleman had given some explanation.
§ SIR WILLIAM HARCOURT (Monmouthshire, W.)
I shall only detain the House a few moments. I have listened to this debate, and in my opinion there is nothing more important for this House than that it should be governed by the highest authority and settled principles. This is a question upon which the House has a right to expect the guidance and opinion of its Leader. The whole character of the House of Commons in its conduct of this Bill—I will go further and say the character of the House of Commons in the opinion of the country—and I deeply regret to be obliged to say it—is not what it has been in former times. That ought to make us the more careful in matters of this kind to act with the greatest deliberation and under proper authority. I do not want to place my opinion of the merits of this Bill before the House on this occasion, but I confess, so far as I can judge, this is a most controversial Bill, involving great constitutional principles. It is a Bill stated by the right hon. Member for West Birmingham to be contentious, and the right hon. Gentleman failed to prove that any Bills of this kind had been sent to a Committee upstairs. Therefore if this Bill is to be sent to a Grand Committee it is in violation, as I understand it, of all the precedents that have governed the action of this House in cases of this kind. [At this point Mr. A. J. BALFOUR entered the House.] I am exceedingly glad the right hon. Gentleman has come into the House, because I am sure we shall now hear from him how he reconciles his proposal to send this Bill, which is a highly contentious Bill—contentious in a marked degree—involving constitutional principles which hitherto have been rigidly observed, with the language he used in 1895. The right hon. Gentleman will tell the House how his intention is consistent with the principles, quoted several times in the House, which he laid down to govern this subject.
§ *MR. J. A. PEASE (Essex, Saffron Walden)
said the Home Secretary had justified sending this Bill to a Grand Committee on the ground that this Bill was a non-contentious measure, and in proof of his statement had called attention to the fact that it had passed its Second Reading by a majority of 1122 124. Nearly all the Opposition went into the Lobby against the Government, and considering the fact that in the absence of over thirty Irish National representatives, always away unpaired, the Party majority in favour of the Government was 140, it was absurd for the Home Secretary to claim that this Bill was non-contentious. But the right hon. Gentleman's statement had been refuted by the right hon. Member for West Birmingham, who came down and said that this was a contentious Bill. He instanced as a precedent for its being sent to a Grand Committee the Employers Liability Bill, which he said was also a contentious measure. The Employers Liability Bill was not contentious in the least degree. If the ex-Colonial Secretary had only listened to the debate, he would have heard the right hon. Member for Fife's statement. He had pointed out the fact that the Employers Liability Bill was not even opposed on its Second Reading, and that the only contentious portion was the one clause which dealt with the power to contract out. This was the most contentious Bill which it ever had been proposed to send to a Grand Committee. One reason why a contentious Bill should not go before a Grand Committee was that the House might lose the power of making any amendment to it, for if it was not amended in its passage through the Committee it could not be amended on Report.
§ *MR. SPEAKER
said under the new Rules that was not so. Such a Bill could now be amended on Report.
§ *MR. J. A. PEASE
said he was glad that that change had been made. As an illustration of the necessity of this Bill going before a Committee of the Whole House, he mentioned that at two general elections a person had opposed him wholly and solely on the ground that he might oppose the admission of aliens to this country. During those elections, an enormous number of points were raised, affecting race, religion, and trade; there was aroused strong passion as well as the sentiment connected with the liberty afforded to political refugees, and from his experience he could assert, the 1123 questions raised by the Bill were of far-reaching importance such as the whole electorate were entitled to have a voice in through their representatives sitting in Committee of the Whole House. It was a matter of very great interest to the community at large and was of a most contentious character, and the use of the Grand Committee ought not to be abused by having a Bill of this kind sent before it.
§ MR. LABOUCHERE (Northampton)
said he had no prejudice against this Bill, and that was shown by his voting for its Second Reading. He had voted for it because he thought there should be some general regulations laid down with regard to the admission of aliens into this country, but he did not agree with the whole of the provisions of the Bill, and had voted for the Second Reading because he thought a Bill of this importance would come before a Committee of the Whole House and that he and those who were of his opinion would have many opportunities during the Committee stage to approve or reject those parts of the Bill with which they did or did not agree. The right hon. Member for West Birmingham had characterised the Bill as a contentious measure, in proof of which he had said there was considerable cross-voting upon the Second Reading. His recollection was that there was not very much cross-voting, and, unless he was greatly mistaken, there were not more than four on the Opposition side who voted for it, and half-a-dozen on the Unionist side who voted against it; and the six who voted against it on the Government side of the House had special reasons for so doing. Never hid there been a more fair Party division upon any subject. Hon. Gentlemen on the Unionist side of the House were in favour of very strict regulations with regard to aliens, and hon. Gentlemen on the Opposition side were opposed to any legislation on the subject, and in particular they referred to political crime. The Bill was essentially a controversial one, and he certainly did think, when he supported the Government on the Second Reading under those circumstances, that he was being unfairly treated when he was told, having voted for the 1124 Bill, that a particular action should be taken in regard to it, and that it should be taken before a Grand Committee upstairs. The Bill would take sometime in Committee upstairs, because obstruction was much easier in Committee, and if he had one stalwart with him he would undertake to say that the Home Secretary would have to give up all other occupations to pass this Bill through the Committee. The Bill was essentially controversial, and the only reason it was being sent upstairs was that the Government had made such a mess of things that their business was in arrears, and there was not time to get through the House the measures they desired to pass. Personally he would prefer the Aliens Bill to be pushed through than the measure intended to bribe the brewers to vote for the Party opposite at the next election. Had it not been for the miserable Licensing Bill, there would have been plenty of time to deal with the Aliens Bill without sending it upstairs. He was glad to see the Prime Minister back in his place, though, he did not expect much light and leading from him when he spoke. The Prime Minister's mind was so much greater than his own that he could not follow the right hon. Gentleman into the metaphysical clouds which he so much frequented. But he did admire the Prime Minister's skill of fence in debate. The right hon. Gentleman was now in a very tight place, and it would be interesting to see how he would get out of it. In 1895 the right hon. Gentleman said—I have watched with growing alarm and disquietude the way in which the Government, session after session, have shown an inclination to refer to Grand Committees Bills of a more and more controversial character.He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would endeavour to reconcile that statement with the Motion now before the House.
THE PRIME MINISTER AND FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY, Mr. A. J. BALFOUR,) Manchester, E.
I understand that hon. Gentlemen have been largely occupied in what is, at the worst, the innocent, and, at the best, I hope the profitable occupation of reading up my old speeches upon the subject of references to Grand Committees, and the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has 1125 challenged me in regard to a statement that I made in 1895. I have not the same eagerness to read my speeches which seems to possess hon. Gentlemen opposite, and I do not recollect the occasions on which these various statements were delivered, but I can easily tell the House my views upon this matter. When Grand Committees were first started by Mr. Gladstone, in 1882, I regarded them with extreme suspicion. I did not like many changes that Mr. Gladstone then proposed. The closure was one of them, and the establishment of Grand Committees was another. The particular shape which those changes have since taken has been an alteration in form and not in substance, and, as the House knows, I have long come to the conclusion that it was absolutely impossible to get through our legislative business without the closure. I do not believe that any Government could do it, and certainly the last specimen of a Radical Government we had used the closure in a manner to which I objected, and to which, were I in opposition, I should doubtless object again. We have had power to apply the closure to particular debates, to clauses of Bills, and to Bills as a whole. It is extremely regrettable, but it is, I think, absolutely inevitable. With regard to my conversion to the system of Grand Committees, I admit that there are many classes of Bills which I should prefer to see discussed in this House, but I also feel that Mr. Gladstone was probably more far-seeing than I was when he said that if we were to go on at all there must be a large measure of devolution of the Committee business of this House to Committees upstairs. It is quite true that I have expressed the view that there are Bills which are so important and so controversial that they ought not to be sent upstairs, and I still hold that opinion. The Leader of the Opposition has admitted what is indeed obvious, that whether or not a Bill is controversial is, and must be, a matter of opinion. There will always be Bills on, or near, the border line of what ought, or ought not, to be sent upstairs, and I candidly admit that this Bill is near that border line. I do not deny that this is a Bill which, if circumstances were favourable, might reasonably be discussed in this House. There are Bills the details of which it would be obviously 1126 absurd to waste the time of the House in discussing, and which nobody would object to sending upstairs. I do not say that of this Bill. It might reasonably be said that this Bill might, with advantage, be discussed in this House, and it might also reasonably be said that it might be better discussed upstairs. But when a Bill is near the border line we shall, I think, find that those who want to advance Government business are those who think the Bill might, with some advantage, be sent upstairs, and those who want to obstruct Government business—if there are any—are those who take the opposite view. That division of opinion is, I think, precisely the division of opinion that now prevails in the House.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I was not aware that my hon. friend had objected, but, broadly speaking, I think that is the division of opinion.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
That rather confirms the statement that I made before. Let us be candid in the matter. Will anybody deny that that solid phalanx of hon. Members opposite have been moved by something more than the abstract desire that the principle of Grand Committees should not be forced a hair's-breadth beyond the point—I do not think they practised it—which, by a process of exegesis of their own, they extract from my previous utterances on the subject? The motive of hon. Gentlemen may be honourable and legitimate, but at all events it is plain. If this had been a Bill which clearly belonged to the category of controversial measures, of course it would be straining the Rules of the House to send it upstairs, but I do not think we are straining the Rules. If hon. Gentlemen opposite took a view that would make it possible to carry a reasonable modicum of legislation in the course of the session without sending the Bill upstairs, I should not greatly quarrel with hon. Gentlemen who object to its being so dealt with. But that is not the situation. The Opposition, who have the power in their hands, are determined that that modicum 1127 of legislation shall not be carried so far as they can prevent it. They do not deny it. They oppose this Motion because they do not want progress, and I support it because I do want progress. I have been accused of indulging in metaphysical oratory which nobody could understand—
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I am quite willing to accept the hon. Gentleman as the high water-mark of intelligence. At all events, I hope I have now reduced the matter to what everybody will deem to be a perfectly honest and fair statement of the case. Everybody may not agree with my conclusions, but they are simply these: that the Bill is one near the border line of Bills which ought not to go to Grand Committee; that those who wish to obstruct Government business in any way they can naturally wish to discuss the Bill in the House; and that those who want to promote Government business on the whole desire to send it upstairs. While I never would attempt to force what I regard as the constitutional
§ privileges of this House, I do not think the Government are unduly forcing them when they deal in this manner with a Bill which, although it has excited some opposition, has been carried by a majority greater than the ordinary majorities the Government command in this House, and in which the only really difficult question is the question of political refugees, with which we have promised to deal in Committee. If the Committee upstairs will consent to deal with that question in a business-like spirit, I believe it will be better dealt with by them than it would be down here. I hope that the House, having debated this question at a length which somewhat astonishes me, will now consent to come to a decision on a question which I do not think involves the profound principle which hon. Members have read into it, but is really a question between those who wish to promote, and those who do not wish to promote, the progress of Government business.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 277; Noes, 187. (Division List No. 138.)1131
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Dickinson, Robert Edmond|
|Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel||Cautley, Henry Strother||Dickson, Charles Scott|
|Allhusen, Augustus Hen. Eden||Cavendish, V.C.W. (Derbyshire||Dimsdale, Rt. Hn. Sir Joseph C.|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Cayzer, Sir Charles William||Dorington, Rt. Hn. Sir John E.|
|Arnold-Forster, Rt. Hn. Hugh O||Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Doughty, George|
|Arrol, Sir William||Chamberlain, Rt.Hn.J.(Birm.||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Chamberlain, Rt Hn.J.A (Worc.||Doxford, Sir William Theodore|
|Aubrey-Fletcher, Rt.Hn.Sir H.||Chamberlayne, T. (S'thampton||Duke, Henry Edward|
|Bagot, Capt. Josceline FitzRoy||Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Durning-Lawrence, Sir Edwin|
|Bain, Colonel James Robert||Chapman, Edward||Dyke, Rt. Hn. Sir William Hart|
|Balcarres, Lord||Charrington, Spencer||Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J.(Manch'r||Clive, Captain Percy A.||Faber, Edmund B. (Hants., W.|
|Balfour, Capt. C. B. (Hornsey)||Coates, Edward Feetham||Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J.(Manc'r|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. G. W. (Leeds||Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Fielden, Edward Brocklehurst|
|Balfour, Kenneth R. (Christen.||Coddington, Sir William||Finch, Rt. Hon. George N.|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Coghill, Douglas Harry||Finlay, Sir Robert Bannatyne|
|Bartley Sir George C. T.||Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Fisher, William Hayes|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir Mich. Hicks||Colomb, Rt. Hon. Sir John C. R.||FitzGerald, Sir Robert Penrose|
|Beckett, Ernest William||Colston, Chas. Edw. H. Athole||Fitzroy, Hn. Edward Algernon|
|Bhownaggree, Sir M. M.||Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Flannery, Sir Fortescue|
|Bignold, Arthur||Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Forster, Henry William|
|Bigwood, James||Craig, Chas. Curtis (Antrim, S.)||Foster, P. S. (Warwick, S.W.)|
|Bill, Charles||Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)||Gardner, Ernest|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Cross, Herb. Shepherd (Bolton)||Garfit, William|
|Boscawen, Arthur Griffith||Crossley, Rt. Hon. Sir Savile||Gibbs, Hon. A. G. H.|
|Boulnois, Edmund||Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Gordon, Hn. J. E. (Elgin&Nairn)|
|Bousfield, William Robert||Cust, Henry John C.||Gordon, Maj. E. (T'r Hamlets)|
|Brassey, Albert||Dalkeith, Earl of||Gore, Hn. G. R. C. Ormsby-(Salop|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Gore, Hon. S. F. Ormsby-(Linc.)|
|Brown, Sir Alex. H. (Shropsh.)||Davenport, William Bromley||Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon|
|Brymer, William Ernest||Davies, Sir H. D. (Chatham)||Goschen, Hon. George Joachim|
|Butcher John George||Denny, Colonel||Goulding, Edward Alfred|
|Campbell, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Glasgow||Dewar, Sir T. R. (Tower Hamlets||Graham, Henry Robert|
|Gray, Ernest (West Ham)||Lowther, C. (Cumb., Eskdale)||Robinson, Brooke|
|Greene, Sir E.W (B'rySEdm'nds||Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Rolleston, Sir John F. L.|
|Greene, Henry D. (Shrewsbury)||Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft)||Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye|
|Greene, W. Raymond (Cambs.)||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred||Ropner, Colonel Sir Robert|
|Grenfell, William Henry||Macdona, John Gumming||Round, Rt. Hon. James|
|Gretton, John||MacIver, David (Liverpool)||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Greville, Hon. Ronald||Maconochie, A. W.||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford|
|Groves, James Grimble||M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander|
|Gunter, Sir Robert||M'Iver, Sir Lewis (Edinburgh W.||Samuel, Sir H. S. (Limehouse)|
|Hain, Edward||M'Killop, James (Stirlingshire)||Sandys, Lieut.-Col. Thos. Myles|
|Hamilton, Rt Hn Lord G (Midd'x||Malcolm, Ian||Saunderson, Rt. Hn. Col. Edw. J|
|Hamilton, Marq of (L'nd'nderry||Martin, Richard Biddulph||Seton-Karr, Sir Henry|
|Hardy, L. (Kent, Ashford)||Maxwell, W. J. H. (Dumfriesshire||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Hare, Thomas Leigh||Melville, Beresford Valentine||Simeon, Sir Barrington|
|Harris, F. Leverton (Tynem'th||Meysey-Thompson, Sir H. M.||Sinclair, Louis (Romford)|
|Haslam, Sir Alfred S||Middlemore, John Throgmorton||Skewes-Cox, Thomas|
|Hatch, Ernest Frederick Geo.||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Sloan, Thomas Henry|
|Hay, Hon. Claude George||Milner Rt. Hn. Sir Frederick G.||Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, East)|
|Heath, Arthur Howard (Hanley||Milvain, Thomas||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Heath, James (Stafrords., N.W.||Mitchell, William (Burnley)||Spear, John Ward|
|Heaton, John Henniker||Molesworth, Sir Lewis||Stanley, Edward Jas.(Somerset|
|Henderson, Sir A. (Staffords, W.||Montagu, G. (Huntingdon)||Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Lancs.|
|Hermon-Hodge, Sir Robert T.||Moon, Edward Robert Pacy||Stewart, Sir Mark J. M'Taggart|
|Hickman, Sir Alfred||Moore, William||Stirling-Maxwell, Sir John M.|
|Hoare, Sir Samuel||Morgan, D. J. (Walthamstow)||Stock, James Henry|
|Hobhouse, Rt. Hn. H (Somers't, E||Morpeth, Viscount||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Hope, J. F. (Sheffield, Brightside||Morrell, George Herbert||Stroyan, John|
|Hornby, Sir William Henry||Morrison, James Archibald||Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley|
|Houldsworth, Sir Wm. Henry||Morton, Arthur H. Aylmer||Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G (Oxf'dUniv.|
|Houston, Robert Paterson||Mount, William Arthur||Thorburn, Sir Walter|
|Howard, Jn. (Kent, Faversham||Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Howard, J. (Midd., Tottenham||Muntz, Sir Philip A.||Tollemache, Henry James|
|Hozier, Hon. James Henry Cecil||Murray, Rt. Hon. A. G. (Bute)||Tomlinson, Sir Wm. Edw. M.|
|Hudson, George Bickersteth||Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Hunt, Rowland||Palmer, Walter (Salisbury)||Tuff, Charles|
|Hutton, John (Yorks., N.R.)||Parker, Sir Gilbert||Valentia, Viscount|
|Jobb, Sir Richard Claverhouse||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)||Vincent, Col. Sir C.E.H (Sheffield|
|Jeffreys, Rt. Hon. Arthur Fred.||Peel, Hn. Wm. Robert Wellesley||Vincent, Sir Edgar (Exeter)|
|Jessel, Captain Herbert Merton||Pemberton, John S. G.||Walker, Col. William Hall|
|Kennaway, Rt. Hn. Sir John H.||Percy, Earl||Walrond, Rt. Hn. Sir William H.|
|Kennedy, Patrick James||Pierpoint, Robert||Wanklyn, James Leslie|
|Kenyon, Hon. Geo. T. (Denbigh)||Pilkington, Colonel Richard||Webb, Colonel William George|
|Kerr, John||Plummer, Walter R.||Welby, Lt.-Col. A.C.E(Taunton|
|Keswick, William||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Welby, Sir Charles G. E. (Notts.)|
|Kimber, Henry||Pretyman, Ernest George||Whiteley, H.(Ashton und. Lyne|
|Knowles, Sir Lees||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm.||Pym, C. Guy||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)|
|Law, Andrew Bonar (Glasgow)||Quilter, Sir Cuthbert||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Lawrence, Sir Jos. (Monmouth)||Randles, John S.||Wilson, John (Glasgow)|
|Lawson, J. Grant (Yorks., N.R.||Rankin, Sir James||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh., N.)|
|Lee, A. H. (Hants., Fareham)||Ratcliff, R. F.||Wilson-Todd, Sir W. H. (Yorks.)|
|Lees, Sir Elliott (Birkenhead)||Reid, James (Greenock)||Wodehouse, Rt.Hn. E.R. (Bath|
|Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage||Remnant, James Farquharson||Worsley-Taylor, Henry Wilson|
|Leveson-Gower, Frederick N.S.||Renshaw, Sir Charles Bine||Wrightson, Sir Thomas|
|Llewellyn, Evan Henry||Renwick, George||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Lockwood, Lieut.-Col. A. R.||Richards, Henry Charles||Yerburgh, Robert Armstrong|
|Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Ridley, Hon. M.W.(Stalybridge|
|Long, Col. Chas. W. (Evesham)||Ridley, S. Forde (Bethnal Green||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Sir Alexander Acland-Hood and Mr. Ailwyn Fellowes.|
|Long, Rt. Hon. W. (Bristol, S.)||Ritchie, Rt.Hn.Chas. Thomson|
|Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield)|
|Lowe, Francis William||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)|
|Abraham, William (Cork, N.E.)||Beaumont, Wentworth C. B.||Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn|
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Bell, Richard||Burke, E. Haviland|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Blake, Edward||Burns, John|
|Allen, Charles P.||Boland, John||Burt, Thomas|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Bowles, T. Gibson (King's Lynn||Buxton, Sydney Charles|
|Asquith Rt. Hn. Herb. Henry||Brigg, John||Caldwell, James|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Brown, George M. (Edinburgh)||Cameron, Robert|
|Austin, Sir John||Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson||Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Carvill, Patrick Geo. Hamilton|
|Cawley, Frederick||Jones, William(Carnarvonshire||Rea, Russell|
|Churchill, Winston Spencer||Jordan, Jeremiah||Reddy, M.|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Joyce, Michael||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Craig, Robert Hunter (Lanark)||Kearley, Hudson E.||Reid, Sir R. Threshie (Dumfries|
|Cremer, William Randal||Kilbride, Denis||Rickett, J. Compton|
|Crooks, William||Kitson, Sir James||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)|
|Cullman, J.||Labouchere, Henry||Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)|
|Dalziel, James Henry||Lambert, George||Robson, William Snowdon|
|Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen)||Langley, Batty||Rothschild, Hon. Lionel Walter|
|Davies, M. Vaughan (Cardigan)||Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cornwall)||Runciman, Walter|
|Delany, William||Layland-Barratt, Francis||Russell, T. W.|
|Devlin, Chas. Ramsay (Galway||Leigh, Sir Joseph||Samuel, Herbert L.(Cleveland)|
|Devlin, Joseph (Kilkenny, N.)||Leng, Sir John||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)|
|Dewar, John A. (Inverness-sh.||Levy, Maurice||Schwann, Charles L.|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Lloyd-George, David||Seely, Maj. J. E. B. (Isle of Wight)|
|Dillon, John||Lough, Thomas||Shackleton, David James|
|Dobbie, Joseph||Lundon, W.||Shaw, Thomas (Hawick B.)|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Sheehy, David|
|Duncan, J. Hastings||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Dunn, Sir William||M'Crae, George||Sinclair, John (Forfarshire)|
|Elibank, Master of||K'Kenna, Reginald||Slack, John Bamford|
|Ellice, Capt E.C(SAndrw'sBghs||M'Killop, W. (Sligo, North)||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Ellis, John Edward (Notts.)||M'Laren, Sir Charles Benjamin||Soares, Ernest J.|
|Emmott, Alfred||Mansfield, Horace Rendall||Spencer, Rt. Hn. C. R (Northants|
|Evans, Sir F. H. (Maidstone)||Mappin, Sir Frederick Thorpe||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Farquharson, Dr. Robert||Markham, Arthur Basil||Sullivan, Donal|
|Fenwick, Charles||Mellor, Rt. Hon. John William||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Ferguson, R. C. Munro (Leith)||Mitchell, Edw. (Fermanagh, N.)||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)|
|Ffrench, Peter||Mooney, John J.||Thomas, David Alfred(Merthyr)|
|Field, William||Morley, Rt. Hn. John (Montrose||Thomas, J A(Glamorgan, Gower|
|Fitzmaurice, Lord Edmond||Moulton, John Fletcher||Tomkinson, James|
|Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)||Murnaghan, George||Toulmin, George|
|Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Murphy, John||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||Nannetti, Joseph P.||Wallace, Robert|
|Guest, Hon. Ivor Churchill||Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)||Warner Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton||Norman, Henry||Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan)|
|Hammond, John||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Harcourt, Lewis V.(Rossendale||Nussey, Thomas Willans||Weir, James Galloway|
|Harcourt, Rt Hn Sir W (Monm'th||O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)||White, George (Norfolk)|
|Harwood, George||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Hayden, John Patrick||O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)||Whiteley, George (York, W.R.)|
|Hayter, Rt. Hon. Sir Arthur D.||O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|Helme, Norval Watson||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Charles H.||O'Doherty, William||Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)|
|Hobhouse, C. E. H. (Bristol, E.)||O'Malley, William||Wilson, Chas. Henry (Hull, W.)|
|Holland, Sir William Henry||Palmer, Sir Charles M.(Durham)||Wilson, Fred. W. (Norfolk, Mid.|
|Hope, John Deans (Fife, West)||Parrott, William||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W.R.)|
|Horniman, Frederick John||Partington, Oswald||Woodhouse, Sir J. T (Huddersf'd|
|Humphreys-Owen, Arthur C.||Paulton, James Mellor||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Hutchinson, Dr. Charles Fredk.||Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)|
|Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley)||Philipps, John Wynford||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. Mr. Herbert Gladstone and Mr. Causton.|
|Jacoby, James Alfred||Pirie, Duncan V.|
|Johnson, John (Gateshead)||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Joicey, Sir James||Price, Robert John|
|Jones, David Brynmor (Swansea)||Priestley, Arthur|