§ THE PRIME MINISTER AND FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. A. J BALFOUR,E.) Manchester,
Some of my critics last night said, and said truly, that no Motion of this kind has ever been brought before the House of Commons and I am not at all sure that on close examination this will be found in any way to condemn it. Leaders of the House from time to time for many years past have been obliged to propose exceptional measures for expediting the business of the House, but on every previous occasion that course was adopted in order that the Government of the day might deal satisfactorily with their legislative programme. When, for example, the Home Rule Government in 1893 closured the Home Rule Bill or the Evicted Tenants Bill, they did it, not in obedience to any demands of the law, but because they conceived it to be absolutely necessary in the interest of general Parliamentary business— thought rightly or wrongly; we thought wrongly—necessary to bring discussion to a close. In the same way when the Education Bill was under discussion a like measure was proposed, but it was because the session had gone on almost up to Christmas, and we believed it was in the interests of the dignity of the House, the health of Mem- 48 bers, and the progress of business that discussion should not be indefinitely prolonged, and every public interest required us to put an end to the stages of the Bill But in neither of those cases which are typical cases, drawn from the action of the Party opposite and of the Party to which I belong, nor in any previous case did the question of law come into account; it was a question of convenience, of propriety of debate, rightly or wrongly interpreted by those who were at the time responsible to the House for the conduct of business. But, as will be seen from the first words of it, the Resolution I propose to move is in order that the House may meet financial obligations thrown upon it by the law, and for the carrying out of financial arrangements which tradition, policy, and statute law commend to our respectful attention, and indeed to our obedience. The end of the financial year and the rigid close which that puts to a certain class of our debates on the Estimates has, of course, caused immense inconvenience to many of my predecessors. An Opposition can always prolong debate on Supply—there is no difficulty in doing that, no great ability or ingenuity is required—and by such a proceeding can drive any Government, in ordinary times, into a position of great difficulties, into difficulties which do not affect Government business only, which do not affect the credit of the Government, but difficulties that affect the credit of the House, and it is to protect the credit of the House as a House that I have proposed this Resolution.
What will the Resolution, if passed, accomplish? It will provide that each Vote and each financial Resolution which is necessary in order to bring the financial work of the year 1904–5 to an end at the legal time shall be passed at the very latest moment at which it is possible for it to pass in order to obey the law. It will further provide that Votes A and 1 of the Army, which are necessary not in order to bring to a conclusion the financial business of 1904–5, but which are necessary in order to carry on the business of the country during the early period of 1905–6, shall be passed in time to enable the Paymaster of the Treasury to issue the necessary funds for carrying on Army purposes. I do not think anybody 49 who has examined this rule will for a moment deny that the claim I make for it is an adequate claim, and it will not be denied that I have deferred until the very last moment—
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I am afraid the hon. Gentleman did not follow me. I will come to the calling of Parliament directly. Taking the financial situation in which we find ourselves, I do not think any critic will deny that this Resolution puts off to the last possible moment the decision of this House upon every financial stage necessary to bring the financial work of the year to the legal and proper termination. I believe I might go further and say that in passing the last stage of the Consolidated Fund Bill as late as the 30th, I am passing it later than it has ever been passed before, and that I am inflicting considerable inconvenience on the Treasury. I would like to say that I hope no successor of mine standing in this place will take it as a precedent. I think it would be convenient that the Bill should pass at an earlier date than the 30th. I only mention the fact as showing that we have given hon. Gentlemen every opportunity for discussion consistent with the obligations imposed upon us by Parliamentary and Treasury traditions backed up by statute law. That seems to me to differentiate this case from all other cases; it differentiates it strongly in favour of this Resolution. In other cases, no doubt, the two sides of the House might be, and were, bitterly opposed as to the propriety of passing the measure whose passage into law was accelerated by the closure Resolution. We wished to go on discussing the Home Rule Bill, and hon. Gentlemen opposite wished to go on discussing the Education Bill, and there was a clean cut division in the House as to what was desirable from the point of view of Parliamentary legislation. I should have hoped and should almost have expected that all sides of the House would have agreed in this—that it is desirable and even necessary for the proper conduct of the financial business of this House that we should carry out what has invariably 50 been regarded by every Chancellor of the Exchequer and every Government in succession as an integral and constitutional portion of our financial system. But I am afraid I cannot count on that unanimity. I do not know whether hon. Gentlemen opposite will boldly get up and say they desire the law to be broken.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Yes; and the responsibility would have been upon me, if I had not proposed this Resolution. The hon. Gentleman's policy would be to force, as far as he was able, a breach of the law, and then get up and abuse me for it. [OPPOSITION cries of "Withdraw."] I think hon. Gentlemen will recognise that I have said nothing that is in the least offensive. If we were provisionally to agree that the law is to be maintained, and I shall be interested to hear whether that modest proposition is denied or is not denied, how is that end to be attained?
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I cannot help thinking that in that interruption there was perhaps a commentary upon the preceding interruption. I do not know whether to take the two as in any way logically or practically connected. A dissolution might have many advantages, but it would not conduce to keeping this particular law. Putting that aside, how is the law to be maintained? I can think of no other method than the one which was suggested by an hon. Member in a warm conversation which we had between a quarter past twelve and one o'clock last night. I am not sure whether it was not the hon. Member for Waterford who advised the Government to take all the time of the House
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND (Waterford)
I suggested that you should suspend, if necessary, the twelve o'clock rule on one or two occasions, in accordance with the practice of many years past.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I accept the correction of the hon. Gentleman. The suggestion was that the twelve o'clock rule should be suspended and that we should endeavour to get through the Parliamentary business by that method. I will not disguise to the House that I do not think that would have been, or could have been, successful. How far an all-night sitting may compel a reluctant minority to give way I do not know, or how many all-night sittings would have been required in order to carry through the mass of business which is detailed in the lengthy Resolution which I am going to propose to the House. If hon. Gentlemen will look through that I Resolution they will see the number of divisions which it involves and the opportunities for prolonged debate which it offers.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
My point was that the opportunities for prolonged debate were so great. I do not believe that the method suggested by the hon. Gentleman would have succeeded, I do not believe it would have been an effectual method, and I am sure it would not have been so much for the dignity of the House as the method I propose. I have seen as much of all-night sittings as the rest of the world. I have engaged in them in opposition, I have engaged in them as a member of the Government. I have seen them from both sides, and both sides are seamy sides. I do not deny that they are sometimes necessary. I think it is probable that most Gentlemen here will have to undergo the rather sordid toils which they impose upon a Member of Parliament before they quit Parliamentary and public life. But surely they should be avoided if possible. Nobody can pretend either that the discussions which take place during an all-night sitting are discussions which contribute to the elucidation of topics, or that the feeling engendered between the two sides is a good or useful feeling, or that the spectacle of bedraggled Mem- 52 bers of Parliament going home after sitting up all night at half-past eight, or half-past nine, or half-past ten in the morning is one which is calculated to raise the reputation of the House in the eyes of the country. And observe, if you are to carry out that system you would have to do more than arrange for a series of all-night sittings. You would have to take away private Members' time.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Hon. Gentlemen who have read the Resolution are aware that it preserves the Parliamentary time which by Standing Orders is allocated to unofficial Members. Those who call to mind the prolonged debates which we had upon the modification of the rule will remember that the Government of that day pointed out that the preceding system, under which private Members had an immense amount of time at their disposal by Standing Orders, but were invariably deprived of their time by a Government in difficulties, was not a good plan either for the Government or for private Members. We suggested as the most advantageous alternative that the amount of time nominally at the disposal of unofficial Members should be curtailed, but that such time as was left should be, in so far as was possible, given to them under a secure tenure. Their nominal income was to be so much smaller, but the income they had was to be paid regularly. I still think that is a sound system; and during the years in which the new rules have been in force private Members have had, three times every week before Easter, and twice every week between Easter and Whitsuntide, their opportunities of bringing forward abstract Resolutions or Bills as the occasion and the day served. I should have been very sorry to have departed from that plan. I believe that by depriving unofficial Members of that time we should have started a precedent which would have found many followers, and the result would have been that all the benefit gained from the new rules so far as unofficial Members are concerned would have been wasted, and the authors of those rules would themselves have been 53 responsible for the destruction of their own work. I, for my part, could not contemplate that with serenity, and I have been most careful in the Resolution which I have laid before the House, at considerable inconvenience to the Government, to preserve absolutely intact the rights of unofficial Members of this House.
I think that is an adequate defence of the proposal which I lay before the House. Of course, I do not deny that it carries with it, or that the state of Supply carries with it, because I do not think the Government are responsible, this great disadvantage, that the amount of time given to Votes A and 1 of the Army will be curtailed, as I think, beyond what is convenient in the interests of discussion in this House. I do not say that the time is unprecedentedly short. There are plenty of precedents for getting through them as speedily as they will be got through under the drastic compulsion of this Resolution. But I do not think it is desirable, and I am very sorry it has to be done. The evil, however, will, I think, be a slight one, for I at once acknowledge that an opportunity without delay should be given for a continuation of the discussion analogous to that which might have taken place on Votes A and 1 in which my right hon. friend might be cross-examined as to his policy, and in which he might have a full opportunity of laying that policy before the House in reasoned argument. I shall make it my business immediately after the close of the present financial year, and before we proceed to other business, to give an opportunity for dealing with the problems connected with the Army. I hope, therefore, the House will see that, much as I regret the curtailment of debate on Votes A and 1, it does not carry with it any curtailment of the discussion of Army questions.
I was interrupted earlier in my statement by an hon. Member who indicated that all these evils had come upon us because the Government called Parliament together too late. Even supposing that we are open to that charge, which I do not think we are, I would venture to say that it does not alter the necessity of passing this Resolution, that it does not make it less needful for us to make provision for obeying the 54 financial law. And although I should be ready to apologise and to stand in a white sheet, if that were necessary, if I thought we were to blame in asking Parliament to meet too late, it would not, by one hair's breadth, alter the policy which I am now asking the House to adopt. That policy has nothing to do I with the past; it has solely to do with the future—with the future of this I financial year and with the maintenance of that unbroken tradition which has, up to the present time, always governed the action both of the House of Commons and of successive Governments. But is it true that we have given too little time, an unduly small space, to the discussion of the necessary Supply of the year? I do not think it is at all true. May I remind the House that, so far as Supplementary Estimates are concerned, it is really impossible for any Government accurately to foresee their amount and number at the time the decision is taken as to the date at which Parliament should meet? Supplementary Estimates may, and do, become necessary at any time up to a late period in the financial year. If I remember aright, the decision that Parliament should meet on February 14th was taken at the Cabinet which was held late in December, and at that time it was quite impossible to foresee the exact number or character of the Supplementary Votes. Again, I may say that the Supplementary Estimates this year are excessive neither in number nor in character. They do not involve great topics of discussion; they do not raise vast questions. They have been enormously surpassed by the Supplementary Estimates of preceding Governments—Governments to which I have belonged and to which I have been opposed. If these Supplementary Estimates are below the average, how stands the number of days we shall have given to the Supply of the current year before the current year comes to an end on March 31st? The thirteen days which we will have spent before the end of the financial year, though not the highest, is decidedly above the average. And though, no doubt, Parliament has often met earlier, the Government that called it earlier together has commonly tried to do other business than financial business between the summoning of Parliament and the end of the financial 55 year. We have made no such effort. The whole time of Parliament since we met has been devoted to giving opportunities to hon. Gentlemen opposite to criticise the Government and to discuss the Supplementary Estimates or Votes A and I of the Navy. Not one hour, nothing, I believe, beyond the ten minutes occupied by my right hon. friend the Lord-Advocate, has been devoted to Government business or Government legislation. I think, when all these facts are taken into account—the relatively unimportant character of the Supplementary Estimates, the relatively long period we have devoted to them, and the self-denying care with which we have abstained from entering into the domain of legislation at the cost of the time which the House might desire to spend on the Estimates—they will wholly absolve us from any charge of having either called Parliament too late or of in any other way hampered the due consideration of our financial business.
I remember a year, and so will right hon. Gentlemen opposite, in which the difficulties of the then Government were very much greater than our own in regard to the Estimates. At the beginning of 1894 the session of 1893 was still in progress. I am not going to revive ancient debates as to who were responsible for so abnormal, so unsatisfactory a state of things. Right hon. Gentlemen opposite, I imagine, put it down to the obstruction of the Unionist Party.
§ MR. JOHN MORLEY (Montrose Burghs)
said that the Evicted Tenants Bill was not then before the House.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
Well, considering that the measures were the Home Rule Bill and the Parish Councils Bill, I do not think that was at all surprising. But I notice that whenever, by prolonged discussions, as the right hon. Gentleman euphemistically put it, the present Government has got into difficulties, it is 56 because they have mismanaged business; and whenever, by prolonged discussions, hon. Gentlemen opposite in past times have got into difficulties, it is because they have got to deal with an unscrupulous Opposition. I do not know why these different measures should be meted out to different Leaders of the House. But it is not to discuss or to weigh in the balance the relative responsibility of the Government or the Opposition eleven years ago that I have mentioned the point. What I want to remind the House of is what took place. The House met on March 12th for the first time. On March 15th the Supplementary Estimates were agreed to. On March 16th the men and pay of the Army were agreed to and the Supplementary Estimates were reported. On March 19th the debate on setting up the Committee was begun but not concluded, and the Army Report was taken. On the 20th the Speaker was got out of the Chair, and the men and money for the Navy were voted, all on one night; and on the 21st the Civil Services Vote on Account was agreed to. There was a short debate on the 22nd on the Report of the 21st, and the Consolidated Bill was read a first time and was carried through on the 29th.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
It was done by the voluntary act of the House. I was then the Leader of the Opposition, and I have been referred to a statement which I made on that occasion. I said "that the last thing the Opposition desired was to drive the Government into any illegality or to drive the Departments into extreme inconvenience," and the Government acknowledged the consideration shown by the Opposition in the transaction of business in difficult circumstances before the close of the financial year. The Opposition of that day thought that from the arena of Party conflict might, at all events, be excluded the debates necessary to carry out the law and the traditions of our financial business. I do not think a similar claim will be made by hon. Gentlemen opposite at the present time. If they say, and I am sure they will be ready to say, that this Government is peculiarly wicked and peculiarly 57 weak, and that it has not behind it the support of the country, hon. Gentlemen who carry their minds back to 1894 will hardly pretend that the Opposition of that day held any very different view of the Government.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman agrees with our estimate of the then Government. I say it really in no agressive spirit, and without any desire to provoke controversy, but I think it will be admitted that, if we compare the Opposition of that day with the Opposition of this day, in this particular the comparison is altogether in favour of the Opposition of 1894. But I admit, and for years experience of this House has forced me more and more to admit, that as time goes on it becomes less and less possible to rely upon the ancient conventions which used to regulate, in the absence of positive provisions, the debates and procedure of this House. Divisions are now taken on subjects which by immemorial tradition were always regarded as outside the necessity of taking a division. I have heard it said—I do not know whether it is true—that hon. Gentlemen opposite consider themselves justified in using in the circumstances of this year special means for embarrassing and hampering the ordinary conduct of public business. Exactly; and what does that mean? It means that things which by convention used to be left outside the domain of Party politics are now brought into Party politics. It means that neutral territory is being invaded now by the forces of both sides, that belligerency is being carried over far wider areas than it used to be in former times; and if that is being done by the Opposition it is inevitable, and will be found inevitable by every Government, that it should be met by corresponding provisions on the part of the Government. I am not saying this, and I am sure that hon. Gentlemen will recognise that I am not saying this, in any controversial spirit. I am merely indicating a tendency which I honestly say I regret, but which I admit to be inevitable, and over 58 which, being inevitable, I am wise enough not to waste tears and groans. The old easy-going plan by which our forefathers conducted the business of the country without difficulty and without friction is becoming more and more impossible; but it is clear that as that disappears it will involve increased stringency in the character of our Standing Orders, and that such a Motion as that of my hon. and gallant friend the Member for Essex, a Motion limiting the duration of speeches, should be seriously considered as a practical necessity to which we shall have to submit shows how widely we have departed from the old ways, and how new are the conditions under which we have to carry on our work. Those perhaps are general reflections which are a little outside the narrow scope of the Resolution; but as regards the Resolution itself I would defend it not upon these broader considerations or upon any wide issue; I am content to rest it upon these considerations, that the law should be obeyed, and that there are only two conceivable ways of getting it obeyed, one by sacrificing all the rights of private Members and having these prolonged sittings night after night, the other by the plan which I have proposed, which involves no long sittings, which sacrifices no rights of private Members, and which brings business to a conclusion at the appointed time. That one of those plans must be adopted if we are to retain our ancient practices nobody can doubt, and that of those two alternatives we have chosen the right one is a question which I submit with the utmost confidence to the judgment of the House and the country. I beg to move.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That, in order to comply with the Law the proceedings necessary to dispose of any Supplementary Estimates and Vote A and Vote 1 of the Estimates for the Navy, and of the Ways and Means Resolutions consequential thereon, shall, if not previously disposed of, be brought to a conclusion in the manner hereinafter mentioned.
§ "At half-past Five of the clock on the 21st day of March next, the Chairman shall forthwith put every Question necessary to dispose of the Vote then 59 under consideration, and shall then forthwith put the Question that the total amount of the outstanding Votes for the Civil Service Supplementary Estimates be granted for the services defined in those Estimates, and shall also forthwith put every other Question necessary to dispose of those Votes.
§ "As soon as the Resolutions so disposed of are reported to the House, the House shall forthwith resolve itself into Committee of Ways and Means, and the Chairman shall forthwith put every Question necessary to dispose of any Resolutions proposed in that Committee.
§ "At Ten of the clock on the 23rd day of March next, the Speaker shall forthwith put every Question necessary to dispose of the Report of the Resolution then under consideration, and shall then forthwith put the Question that the House doth agree with the Committee in all Resolutions reported in respect of the Civil Service Supplementary Estimates, and shall then put a like Question on the Resolution reported with respect to the Supplementary Estimates for the Army, and on the Resolutions reported with respect to Vote A and Vote 1 of the Estimates for the Navy.
§ "On the consideration of the Report from the Committee of Ways and Means, the Speaker shall forthwith put the Question that the House do agree with the Committee in the Resolutions reported.
§ "And that at half-past Eleven of the clock on the 27th day of March next, the Speaker shall forthwith put any Question necessary to dispose of the Second Reading of the Consolidated Fund Bill; and at Seven of the clock on the 30th day of March next the Speaker shall forthwith put every Question necessary to dispose of the Third Reading of that Bill.
§ "And that the proceedings on going into Supply on the Army Estimates, and in Committee, and on Report, of Vote A and Vote 1 of those Estimates shall, if not previously disposed of, be brought to a conclusion in the following manner:
§ "At half-past Six of the clock on the 28th day of March next, the Speaker shall forthwith put every Question necessary to dispose of the Motion 60 that the Speaker leave the Chair on going into Supply on the Army Estimates.
§ "At half-past Six of the clock on the 29th day of March next, the Chairman shall forthwith put every Question necessary to dispose of Vote A and Vote 1 of the Army Estimates in Committee.
§ "At Eleven of the clock on the 30th day of March next, the Speaker shall forthwith put every Question necessary to dispose of the Report of the Resolutions with respect to Vote A and Vote 1 of the Army Estimates.
§ "Until the Business to which this Order relates is concluded the consideration of the Business of Supply at any sitting at which Government Business has precedence shall not be anticipated by a Motion for Adjournment, and no dilatory Motion shall be received on proceedings on that Business, and the Business shall not be interrupted under any Standing Order.
§ "Until the Business to which this Order relates is concluded no Business other than Business of Supply shall be taken at any sitting at which Government Business has precedence."—(Mr. A J. Balfour.)
§ MR. ASQUITH (Fifeshire, E.)
Mr. Speaker, the House is accustomed under the Leadership of the right hon. Gentleman to an encroachment upon its powers, its authority, and its freedom, to which there has been no parallel in its past history. Master of paradox as the right hon. Gentleman is, nothing amused or amazed me more in the speech which he has just delivered than his statement that he brought forward this Motion to protect the credit of the House. I do not know that this Motion will take first place, but I think that it certainly ought to rank very high, even among the achievements of the right hon. Gentleman, in the art which he has made peculiarly his own. I cannot help thinking also that he might now, at any rate, begin to dispense with these conventional expressions of reluctance and regret with which he still seems to think it seemly to preface each successive inroad upon our liberties. Let the right hon. Gentleman acknowledge, and frankly 61 acknowledge, that he has now in the course of a number of years supplied precedents for the suppression of debate for every conceivable emergency to which the business of this House can be brought either by the mismanagement of the Government or the slackness of the majority. The step now proposed, as the right hon. Gentleman has admitted, is entirely without precedent. No Government until this year 1905 has found any difficulty in so conducting proceedings in Supply that the Royal Assent has been obtained for the Consolidated Fund Bill before March 31st; and this proposal of the right hon. Gentleman, this absolute innovation on the unbroken course of our procedure in the past, is presented to us to-day under conditions—I am going to use strong language—under conditions as unseemly and as discourteous to the House of Commons as to constitute an equally bad precedent, with the Motion itself. Here we have in this proposal which you, Sir, have read from the Chair a long and complicated Motion which, I find, has no less than twelve distinct paragraphs, which bristle from the first line to the last with contentious matter both in principle and in detail, and it appears for the first time on the Notice Paper to-day, on the morning of the assembling of the House. Even if the right hon. Gentleman's case in other respects were as strong as I am going to show it is weak, it would be no conceivable justification for this indecent hurry; and it is to indicate the sense of the House on that point—to endeavour, at any rate, to elicit it—that I propose to conclude the observations which I am going to make by moving the adjournment of the debate.
Sir, every fact which the right hon. Gentleman has stated in his speech to-day was within his knowledge and that of his friends and colleagues to whom he could go. He knew, for instance, that Parliament assembled this year on February 14th, twelve days later than last year. He knew also, at any rate, it was a matter of common knowledge—and it can hardly have escaped the right hon. Gentleman—that March 31st is not a movable feast, but a fixed date in the calendar. Why, then, with all the facts, as I have said, capable 62 of ascertainment quite as easily three or four days or a week ago, did not the right hon. Gentleman show to the House of Commons that consideration which I think it has a right to expect from those entrusted with the conduct of business, and give us, at any rate, two or three days time in which to consider the nature of a proposal which will so largely curtail our freedom of debate?
Now I should like to put a Question suggested by the right hon. Gentleman's speech. What is the cause of the situation in which we find ourselves, and what is the proper remedy? The cause is not far to seek. The right hon. Gentleman has endeavoured to coerce us into accepting this proposal by alleging that if we do not do so we shall be violating the law of the land. But whose fault is it that we have been brought within a measurable distance of the violation of that law? Parliament did not meet until February 14th. The discussion of the Supplementary Estimates did not begin in Committee until March 2nd, a date by which last year I think five days had already been devoted to their discussion, and the Speaker had been got out of the Chair on the Navy Estimates, and, if my memory is accurate, both Vote A and Vote 1 of those Estimates had been passed. The right hon. Gentleman did not endeavour to make out a case on the ground of obstruction. If he had, it would have been easy to show that, except during those hours of the day when the attendance of the Party opposite was insufficient, there had been nothing in the nature of undue prolongation of debate, or of tedious repetition. [Cries of "Oh."] Well, when did it happen?
§ MR. ASQUITH
The hon. Member is evidently referring to some performance of his own. I am speaking of the conduct of Gentlemen on this side of the House. Take the Army Supplementary Estimates. They included a very large Vote for Somaliland which was deliberately excluded from the regular Estimates, and no one who listened to the 63 debate on that most important item, and who remembers that the debate on the other items—many of them important—was closured, can say that the Government have any reason to complain of the facilities they have had. As to the Navy Estimates, not only has the Speaker been got out of the Chair, but the Government have obtained both Vote A and Vote 1. So far there has been nothing abnormal except the lateness of the date on which the Estimates were presented to the House, which was itself a consequence of the lateness of the date on which the Government deliberately chose to open the session of Parliament. If anyone is responsible for a possible breach of the law, it is not the House of Commons but the Executive. But by far the most flagrant case—that which is responsible for the difficulties in which the Government find themselves—is the case of the Army Estimates. Those Estimates were not circulated to Members until yesterday morning. Now that we have them in our hands we see that they not only involve a considerable addition to the expenditure on the Army, but that in point of form they are entirely novel and unprecedented. Why were they so long in seeing the light? Who is their real parent? What is the military policy, or want of policy, that they embody or are intended to embody? Those are questions which, up to this moment, have been wrapt in impenetrable obscurity and to which this House is not only entitled but bound to demand an answer under conditions which will make discussion operative and ensure the fullest explanation.
What does the right hon. Gentleman propose under this Motion? I hope the House has paid due attention to the concluding paragraph. After three hours and a-half's discussion on Tuesday, the 28th, the Motion that the Speaker do now leave the Chair is to be put. After another three hours and a-half's discussion on the 29th, every Question necessary to dispose both of Vote A and Vote 1 in Committee is to be summarily got rid of; and after another two hours discussion on the evening sitting of the 30th the Report of the Resolutions on these two Votes is to come to an end. I say that that ap- 64 proaches the dimensions of a Parliamentary scandal. It is all very well for the right hon. Gentleman to tell us that out of his benevolence, when the Votes have passed out of our control, he will give us some other opportunity for discussing Army policy. But these are the Votes for the men and the pay of the Army.
§ MR. ASQUITH
In 1894 we had not a heaven-born War Minister proposing a revolution in the Army. We had not Estimates of £30,000,000. We had not Estimates in an entirely new and unprecedented form; and we had not the best reason to suspect that the persons nominally responsible for the Estimates had not got their heart in them at all. The conditions in 1894 were as dissimilar from those of to-day as those of any two years which could be selected since the beginning of the Christian era. Whether you have regard to the conduct of the Government in the late presentation of these Estimates, due to remissness, or indecision, or dissension, and in course of time we shall find out which; or whether you have regard to the magnitude and novelty of the issues of military policy which are involved; or whether you have regard to the vital necessity of this House being in a position at the earliest possible moment to pronounce after full discussion its determination on those issues—I say that this proposal to give three hours and a-half on two days, and two hours on a third, to their discussion is as great an outrage as has ever been offered by a nominally responsible Minister to a nominally deliberative Assembly. The Government have difficulties, but they are difficulties of their own creation. They are not of the creation of this House, upon whom, with a zeal for vicarious punishment of which this is not the only example, the Government propose to inflict the penalty. The right hon. Gentleman threatens us with the terrors of the law, and asks whether we are to be parties to the breaking of it. There is no reason whatever why the law should be broken if this Resolution were not carried. There is not the least reason to suppose that the 65 many expedients which our reformed procedure gives would not be perfectly ample to secure compliance with the law. The right hon. Gentleman might suspend the twelve o'clock rule, and move the closure on successive items; and, if the zeal of his supporters would have allowed, the right hon. Gentleman might have held Saturday sittings. The Government have in their hands powers which hitherto have been found sufficient to meet the necessities of the case. Why should we give them more? Everyone knows the real reason. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of many things; but he never approached that which every man on both sides knows to be the occasion and the necessity. The real reason for the Motion is that Government cannot persuade their majority to attend. At certain well-known hours of the afternoon and the evening the Government can only be kept in office by the friendly and opportune loquacity of the talkers-against-time. That throws a very heavy burden on those well-meaning gentlemen; and, however skillfully the operation may have been conducted, there have been moments when the situation has been of very great anxiety to the right hon. and gallant Gentleman who so admirably discharges the exceptionally arduous duties of Whip to the Government Party.
The question arises, How ought we to deal with this matter? I say the Motion is unfounded in fact, and absolutely unnecessary in point of law. I confess when I first heard what it was to be, and took consultation with my friends, I was rather inclined to think that the best plan would be to move the previous Question. And I will tell the House why. I thought it would have been a good opportunity to redeem that time-honoured Parliamentary weapon from reproach by putting it to worthier purposes than those for which it has recently been used. For if we had moved the previous Question to-day, it would have been employed, not to burke and to boycott, but to assert and preserve the practice of free debate. But, on the
§ whole, having regard to the circumstances under which this Motion has been presented to the House, it seems to me that the wisest and most dignified course is at once to move the adjournment of the debate. We have not had the opportunity which we are entitled to demand of considering this Motion soberly, wisely, and at leisure. But before I move, I will again emphasise the point with which I began by saying that the right hon. Gentleman's proposal, strange and unprecedented as it is, is not a mere isolated affair. It is a step in a series. It is another stage on the journey which has marked, and is marking, the degradation of the House of Commons—I speak in all seriousness—from a deliberative to a dependent body, and which, if it is allowed to go on, will transform the House into a mere automatic machine for registering the will of the Executive of the day. This is not a Party question. Majorities and Ministries come and go. Before very long we may be sitting on that side of the House and the Party opposite on this. But there is one thing which hitherto, at any rate, has always remained behind and above all as a constant and continuous factor in our constitutional life—and that is the authority of the House of Commons. That authority, many outside observers tell us, in these days is dwindling. Sir, the House may be certain that it cannot survive, and that it does not deserve to survive, habitual acquiescence in humiliation such as this. We are here as representatives and spokesman of our constituents. We are here also, most of us, zealous and faithful Party men. But we all share, in whatever quarter of the House we sit, in the responsibility of a higher and a larger duty—the duty of preserving and perpetuating the unbroken identity of a free Parliament. I beg to move that the debate be now adjourned.
§ Motion made, and Question put, "That the debate be now adjourned."—(Mr. Asquith.)
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 206; Noes, 266. (Division List No. 51.)71
|Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.)||Allen, Charles P.||Asquith, Rt Hn. Herbert Henry|
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Ambrose, Robert||Atherley-Jones, L.|
|Aisworth, John Stirling||Ashton, Thomas Gair||Barlow, John Emmott|
|Barran, Rowland Hirst||Higham, John Sharpe||Pirie, Duncan V.|
|Beaumont, Wentworth C. B.||Hobhouse, C. E. H. (Bristol, E.||Priestley, Arthur|
|Benn, John Williams||Holland, Sir William Henry||Rea, Russell|
|Black, Alexander William||Horniman, Frederick John||Reckitt, Harold James|
|Blake, Edward||Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley)||Reddy, M.|
|Boland, John||Jacoby, James Alfred||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Brand, Hn. Arthur G.||Johnson, John||Reid, Sir R. Threshie(Dumfries|
|Brigg, John||Joicey, Sir James||Rickett, J. Compton|
|Bright, Allan Heywood||Jones, David Brynmor(Swansea)||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)|
|Broadhurst, Henry||Jones, Leif (Appleby)||Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)|
|Brown, George M. (Edinburgh)||Jones, Wm.(Carnarvonshire)||Roche, John|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Jordan, Jeremiah||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Joyce, Michael||Rose, Charles Day|
|Burke, E. Haviland||Kearley, Hudson E.||Runciman, Walter|
|Buxton, Sydney Charles||Kennedy, Vincent P.(Cavan, W||Russell, T. W.|
|Caldwell, James||Kilbride, Denis||Samuel, Herb. L. (Cleveland)|
|Cameron, Robert||Kitson, Sir James||Schwann, Charles E.|
|Campbell, John (Armagh, S.)||Labouchere, Henry||Scott, Chas. Prestwich (Leigh)|
|Cawley, Frederick||Lambert, George||Seely, Maj. J. E. B. (Isle of Wight|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Lamont, Norman||Shackleton, David James|
|Cheetham, John Frederick||Langley, Batty||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Churchill, Winston Spencer||Law, Hugh Alex.(Donegal, W||Sheehy, David|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cornwall||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Layland-Barratt, Francis||Sinclair, John (Forfarshire)|
|Craig, Robert Hunter (Lanark)||Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Accrington||Slack, John Bamford|
|Crean, Eugene||Leigh, Sir Joseph||Smith, Samuel (Flint)|
|Cremer, William Randal||Levy, Maurice||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Crombie, John William||Lewis, John Herbert||Soares, Ernest J.|
|Crooks, William||Lloyd-George, David||Spencer, Rt. Hn. C. R.(Northants|
|Dalziel, James Henry||Lough, Thomas||Stanhope, Hon. Philip James|
|Davies, Alfred (Carmarthen)||Lundon, W.||Stevenson, Francis S.|
|Davies, M. Vaughan (Cardigan||Lyell, Charles Henry||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Delany, William||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Sullivan, Donal|
|Devlin, Chas. Ramsay (Galway||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Tennant, Harold John|
|Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||M'Arthur, William (Cornwall)||Thomson, F. W. (York, W. R.)|
|Doogan, P. C.||M'Crae, George||Tomkinson, James|
|Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||M'Kean, John||Toulmin, George|
|Duffy, William J.||M'Kenna, Reginald||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Duncan, J. Hastings||M'Laren, Sir Chas. Benjamin||Ure, Alexander|
|Dunn, Sir William||Mitchell, Edw.(Fermanagh, N.)||Waldron, Laurence, Ambrose|
|Edwards, Frank||Mooney, John J.||Wallace, Robert|
|Elibank, Master of||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Ellice, CaptEC(S Andrw'sB'ghs)||Morley, Rt. Hn. John (Montrose||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Ellis, John Edward (Notts.)||Murphy, John||Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan)|
|Emmott, Alfred||Nannetti, Joseph P.||Wason, J. Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Esmonde, Sir Thomas||Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)||Weir, James Galloway|
|Evans, Sir Francis H(Maidstone||Norman, Henry||White, George (Norfolk)|
|Evans, Samuel T.(Glamorgan)||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Fenwick, Charles||Nussey, Thomas Willans||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Ferguson, R. C. Munro (Leith)||O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)||Whiteley, George (York, W.R.|
|Findlay, Alex. (Lanark, N.E.||O'Brien, Kendal (TipperaryMid||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|Flynn, James Christopher||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)||O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)||Williams, Osmond (Merioneth|
|Fowler, Rt. Hn. Sir Henry||O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.||Wills, Arthur W. (N. Dorset)|
|Freeman-Thomas, Captain F.||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Wilson, F. W. (Norfolk, Mid.)|
|Fuller, J. M. F.||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)|
|Furness, Sir Christopher||O'Dowd, John||Wilson, John (Falkirk)|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh. N.|
|Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon N||Wood, James|
|Haldane, Rt, Hon. Richard B.||O'Malley, William||Woodhouse, Sir J T.(Huddersf'd|
|Harwood, George||O'Mara, James||Young, Samuel|
|Hayden, John Patrick||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Hayter, Rt. Hn. Sir Arthur D.||Parrott, William|
|Helme, Norval Watson||Partington, Oswald||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Mr.|
|Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Charles H.||Paulton, James Mellor||Herbert Gladstone and Mr.|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Perks, Robert William||Causton.|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Allhusen, Augustus Henry Eden||Anson, Sir William Reynell|
|Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel||Allsopp, Hon. George||Arkwright, John Stanhope|
|Arnold-Forster, Rt. Hn. Hugh O||Fergusson. Rt. Hn Sir J. (Manc'r||Llewellyn, Evan Henry|
|Arrol, Sir William||Finlay, Sir R.B.(Inv'rn'ssB'ghs||Lockwood, Lieut,- Col. A. R.|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Fisher, William Hayes||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine|
|Aubrey-Fletcher, Rt. Hn. Sir H||Fison, Frederick William||Long, Col. Chas. W. (Evesham|
|Bagot, Capt. Josceline FitzRoy||Fitzroy, Hn Edward Algernon||Lonsdale, John Brownlee|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Flannery, Sir Fortescue||Lowe, Francis William|
|Bain, Colonel James Robert||Flower, Sir Ernest||Lowther, C. (Cumb., Eskdale)|
|Baird, John George Alexander||Forster, Henry William||Loyd, Archie Kirkman|
|Balcarres, Lord||Foster, Philip S. (Warwick, SW||Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft|
|Baldwin, Alfred||Galloway, William Johnson||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred|
|Balfour, Rt.Hn. A. J.(Manch'r||Gardner, Ernest||Macdona, John Cumming|
|Balfour, Rt Hn Gerald W(Leeds||Garfit, William||MacIver, David (Liverpool)|
|Balfour, Kenneth R. (Christch.||Gibbs, Hon. A. G. H.||Maconochie, A. W.|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Godson, Sir Augustus Fredk.||M'Calmont, Colonel James|
|Banner, John S. Harmood-||Gordon, Hn. J. E(Elgin & Nairn||Majendie, James A. H.|
|Barry, Sir Francis T.(Windsor||Gore, Hon. S. F. Ormsby-||Malcolm, Ian|
|Bartley, Sir George C. T.||Gorst, Rt. Hn. Sir John Eldon||Manners, Lord Cecil|
|Bathurst, Hn. A. Benjamin||Goschen, Hon. George Joachim||Marks, Harry Hananel|
|Beach, Rt. Hn. Sir Michael Hicks||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Martin, Richard Biddulph|
|Beckitt, Ernest William||Graham, Henry Robert||Massey-Mainwaring, Hn. W. F.|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry C.||Green, Walford D (Wednesbury||Maxwell, Rt Hn Sir H. E (Wigt'n)|
|Bhownaggree, Sir M. M.||Greene, H. D. (Shrewsbury)||Maxwell, W.J.H.(Dumfriessh're|
|Bignold, Sir Arthur||Greene, W. Raymond (Cambs.||Mildmay, Francis Bingham|
|Bigwood, James||Grenfell, William Henry||Milner, Rt. Hn. Sir Fredk. G.|
|Bill, Charles||Gretton, John||Molesworth, Sir Lewis|
|Bingham, Lord||Greville, Hon. Ronald||Montagu, Hn. J. Scott (Hants.)|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Hain, Edward||Moon, Edward Robert Pacy|
|Bond, Edward||Hall, Edwasd Marshall||Morpeth, Viscount|
|Boulnois, Edmund||Halsey, Rt. Hon. Thomas F.||Morrell, George Herbert|
|Bousfield, William Robert||Hambro, Charles Eric||Morrison, James Archibald|
|Bowles, Lt.-Col HF(Middlese X)||Hamilton, RtHnLordG (Midd'x||Morton, Arthur H. Aylmer|
|Brassey, Albert||Hamilton, Marq. of (L'nd'nd'ry||Mount, William Arthur|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Hare, Thomas Leigh||Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)|
|Campbell. Rt Hn. J A. (Glasgow)||Harris, F. Leverton (Tynem'th||Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)|
|Campbell, J.H.M.(Dublin Univ.||Haslam, Sir Alfred S.||Myers, William Henry|
|Carson, Rt. Hn. Sir Edw. H.||Hay, Hon. Claude George||Nicholson, William Graham|
|Cavendish, V.C.W. (Derbyshire||Heath, Arthur Howard (Hanley||Parker, Sir Gilbert|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles William||Heath, Sir James(Stafford S.NW||Parkes, Ebenezer|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Heaton, John Henniker||Peel, Hn. Win. Robert Wellesley|
|Chamberlain, Rt Hn J. A.(Worc.||Helder, Augustus||Percy, Earl|
|Chapman, Edward||Hermon-Hodge, Sir Robert T.||Pierpoint, Robert|
|Clive, Captain Percy A.||Hickman, Sir Alfred||Pilkington, Colonel Richard|
|Coates, Edward Feetham||Hoare, Sir Samuel||Platt-Higgins, Frederick|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Hobhouse, Rt Hn H(Somers't, E.||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp|
|Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Hope, J. F. (Sheffield, Brightside||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Hornby, Sir William Henry||Pryce-Jones, Lt.-Col. Edward|
|Colomb, Rt. Hn. Sir John C.R.||Horner, Frederick William||Purvis, Robert|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Hoult, Joseph||Pym, C. Guy|
|Craig, Chas. Curtis (Antrim, S.)||Houston, Robert Paterson||Quilter, Sir Cuthbert|
|Cripps, Charles Alfred||Howard, J. (Kent, Faversham||Randles, John S.|
|Cross, Alexander (Glasgow)||Howard, J.(Midd., Tottenham||Rankin, Sir James|
|Cross, Herb. Shepherd (Bolton)||Hozier, Hn. James Henry Cecil||Rasch, Sir Frederic Carne|
|Crossley, Rt. Hon. Sir Savile||Hudson, George Bickersteth||Ratcliff, R. F.|
|Cust, Henry John C.||Hunt, Rowland||Reed, Sir Edw. James (Cardiff)|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||Jebb, Sir Richard Claverhouse||Reid, James (Greenock)|
|Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Jeffreys, Rt. Hn. Arthur Fred.||Ridley, S. Forde|
|Davenport, William Bromley||Jessel, Captain Herbert Merton||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)|
|Davies, Sir Horatio D.(Chatham||Kennaway, Rt. Hn. Sir John H.||Rolleston, Sir John F. L.|
|Denny, Colonel||Kenyon-Slaney, Rt. Hn. Col. W.||Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye|
|Dewar, Sir T.R.(Tower Hamlets||Kimber, Sir Henry||Ropner, Colonel Sir Robert|
|Dickinson, Robert Edmond||King, Sir Henry Seymour||Round, Rt. Hon. James|
|Dickson, Charles Scott||Knowles, Sir Lees||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Dimsdale, RtHn Sir Joseph C.||Lambton, Hn. Frederick Wm.||Rutherford, John (Lancashire)|
|Dixon-Hartland, Sir F. Dixon||Laurie, Lieut.-General||Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)|
|Dorington, Rt. Hon. Sir John E||Law, Andrew Bonar (Glasgow)||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford|
|Doughty, Sir George||Lawrence, Sir Joseph (Monm'th||Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers||Lawrence, Wm. F. (Liverpool)||Samuel, Sir Harry S.(Limehouse|
|Doxford, Sir William Theodore||Lawson, Hn. H. L. W.(Mile End||Sandys, Lieut.-Col. Thos. Myles|
|Dyke, Rt. Hn. Sir William Hart||Lawson, John Grant (Yorks. NR||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton||Lee, A. H. (Hants., Fareham)||Seely, Chales Hilton (Lincoln)|
|Faber, Edmund B. (Hants, W.||Lees, Sir Elliott (Birkenhead)||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Fardell, Sir T. George||Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage||Sinclair, Louis (Romford)|
|Fellowes, Hn. Ailwyn Edward||Leveson-Gower, Frederick N.S.||Sloan, Thomas Henry|
|Smith, Abel H.(Hertford, East)||Tomlinson, Sir Wm. Edw. M.||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Smith H.C.(North'mb. Tyneside||Tritton, Charles Ernest||Williams, Colonel R. Dorset)|
|Spear, John Ward||Tuff, Charles||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Spencer, Sir E. (W. Bromwich)||Tuke, Sir John Batty||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E.R.)|
|Stanley, Rt. Hon. Lord (Lanes)||Turnour, Viscount||Wilson, John (Glasgow)|
|Stock, James Henry||Vincent, Col. Sir C.E H (Sheffield||Wilson-Todd, Sir W.H.(Yorks.)|
|Stone, Sir Benjamin||Walker, Col. William Hall||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E.R.(Bath)|
|Stroyan, John||Walrond Rt. Hn. Sir William H.||Worsley-Taylor, Henry Wilson|
|Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley||Wanklyn, James Leslie||Wrightson, Sir Thomas|
|Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)||Warde, Colonel C. E.||Wylie, Alexander|
|Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G. (Oxf'd Univ||Welby, Lt.-Col. A. C. E. (Taunton||Yerburgh, Robert Armstrong|
|Taylor, Austin (East Toxteth)||Welby, Sir Charles G. E. (Notts.)|
|Thorburn, Sir Walter||Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Thornton, Percy M.||Wharton, Rt. Hon. John Lloyd||Sir Alexander Acland-Hood|
|Tollemache, Henry James||Whiteley, H. (Ashton und. Lyne||and Viscount Valentia.|
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND
moved an Amendment, declaring that the proposal submitted by the Prime Minister was a violation of the constitutional rights of the House. He said the speech of the Prime Minister emphasised, if possible, the grave importance of the step which the House was asked to take. The right hon. Gentleman used certain phrases in moving the Motion which showed that, whoever else was under misapprehension as to the grave step he was asking the House to take, he himself entertained no such misapprehension, because he spoke of "drastic compulsion." He admitted, what of course he was obliged to admit, that no Motion such as this was ever before proposed in the whole history of the British Parliament. Having admitted the gravity of the step, the right hon. Gentleman was under the obligation, of course, of proving to the House a case of absolute necessity to justify the proposal. Unless he was in a position to show that the Government had no alternative, and that it was in such a position that it must propose this course, then he could put forward no really adequate justification for this "drastic compulsion" and absolutely unprecedented Motion. What was the necessity which compelled the Government to propose this Motion? Was there any necessity? He had been looking at the facts and figures connected with this matter for the last seventeen years. The House of Commons, it was true, in most of these years met a little earlier than it met this year, but in the whole of the seventeen cases the Government had no difficulty whatever in obtaining necessary Supply before March 31st, and no difficulty in allowing an adequate, or a fairly adequate, 72 number of days for the discussion of Supply. Taking these seventeen years he found that the average number of days allowed had been about twelve or thirteen. This year already there had been some six days devoted to Supply, and, in the ordinary course, before March 31st there would be five, six, or more days still, so that the average number of days discussion before March 31st could be afforded this year, notwithstanding the fact that the House met late.
It was true, as the right hon. Gentleman mentioned in his speech, that in recent years the Government had been obliged before the end of the financial year to ask for certain special powers. He would ask the House, to consider the circumstances of some of those years, and the kind of powers the Government asked. During some of the years to which he was alluding what was called obstruction was rampant in the House. No Government within the last few years had ever had to face anything like the obstruction and the vigorous opposition which Governments had to face in the years he was alluding to. What were the expedients which were found sufficient by those Governments to overcome the circumstances with which they were faced? The ordinary expedient was the suspension of the twelve o'clock rule. The Prime Minister, in his allusion to him (Mr. Redmond), had quite unintentionally misrepresented what he suggested last night. He never suggested a succession of all-night sittings. During the past seventeen years the twelve o'clock rule had been suspended in about twelve of them on two or three nights. How many all-night sittings had there been? Very few. When the right hon. Gentleman felt himself in difficulty he had come to the House and asked for special powers. 73 He had asked the House to suspend the twelve o'clock rule on two occasions, and what was the result? All-night sittings? Nothing of the kind. On those two occasions the House never sat later than one o'clock. The power of suspending the twelve o'clock rule, coupled, of course, with capable management of the business of the House with a spirit of consideration and conciliation and of give and take on the part of the Leader of the House, had in the past enabled Governments, which had to face greater difficulties than the present Government, to get through their Supply in time.
What had suddenly happened to change the circumstances? What had suddenly happened to compel the right hon. Gentleman to discard the expedients of past years and to come down and make this startling proposition to the House? Allusion was made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Fife to the fact that the House met late this year. He did not base his argument on that at all. The House met late, but he thought it was more or less irrelevant to enter into a discussion whether the right hon. Gentleman was right or wrong in summoning Parliament a week later this year than last. The fact that it met late this year was not a justification for the position in which the Government found itself, and no justification for this Motion. He found, in looking through these years, that there had been several occasions on which the House met even later than this year, and that, notwithstanding the extraordinary difficulties with which they were faced, the Government of the day was able to complete Supply satisfactorily by March 31st. In 1889, the House did not meet until February 21st and fourteen days were devoted to Supply—far over the average—and yet Supply was completed by March 31st by the simple expedient of suspending the twelve o'clock rule one or two evenings. In 1901, the House met on February 14th, and sixteen days were occupied by Supply before March 31st. The Government got the business through then without any extraordinary Resolution of this kind. In 1903, the House did not meet until February 17th and twelve days were allotted to Supply, which was completed by March 31st. What was the reason why the expedients which were sufficient 74 during the last twenty years, and even when the House met later than it did this year, were not sufficient now? The right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Fife had stated what was the only reason for this change. Was it not treating constitutional questions and the position of Parliament in a somewhat trivial and unworthy manner for the, Prime Minister to come down and propose an absolutely new precedent which might be quoted through all time in future against the liberty of debate in this House, simply because his Whips told him that he could not get his followers to attend in their places? The right hon. Gentleman felt that if he suspended the twelve o'clock rule and discussion went on till one or two in the morning, his followers might not attend. The right hon. Gentleman thought it was safer in his desperate effort to prolong the life of this Government to run no risk of that sort, but to propose a radical change in the rules of the House. The Prime Minister, who was Leader of the House, and was supposed, above all men in it, to be the guardian of its rights and liberties, and in a special way of the rights of the minority in this House, came forward, regardless of the danger of proposing a new precedent, and proposed that the immemorial constitutional practice of the House should be violated.
The rule which the right hon. Gentleman proposed was far more extraordinary and unconstitutional than the original guillotine rule passed a few years ago. The original guillotine rule was proposed under entirely different circumstances. Formal notice of it was given on February 21st, and it was not discussed until April 11th. The House of Commons had two months notice of the rule before it was called upon to discuss it. Four days were given to the discussion of the rule, and yet it was less drastic than the one the right hon. Gentleman now proposed. In the first place the guillotine rule provided that it could not come into operation at all until twenty-three days had been devoted to the discussion of the Estimates. There was no proposal in the new rule at all with regard to the number of days. As he understood the rule, the right hon. Gentleman, if he carried it to-day, 75 might cease to put down Supply for discussion except upon the occasions when the guillotine was to fall.
§ MR. JOHN REDMOND
said he did not think he was wrong. That was one strong argument why they ought to have had notice of this Resolution. The Resolution, unless amended, provided for no discussion of the Estimates at all. It provided that on March 27th the guillotine was to fall. There was nothing to say that the Supply on which the guillotine was to fall need be set down for discussion before March 27th. In that way it did not provide for any discussion of those Estimates except upon the occasion on which the guillotine was to fall. Therefore, it was more drastic than the original rule which provided for twenty-three days discussion of the Estimates before it came into operation. But it was far more drastic, inasmuch as it provided for the guillotine falling on the Second and Third Reading of the Consolidated Fund Bill. Now, the Consolidated Fund Bill had always been regarded as one of those occasions on which hon. Members were entitled to exercise their constitutional right of discussing various grievances. Private Members had had their rights of discussion curtailed, and the one opportunity remaining for discussing the various matters in which they were concerned was on the Second and Third Reading of the Consolidated Fund Bill. That was to be guillotined at a certain hour on March 23rd. No discussion was to be allowed except for two or three hours. He had been watching for twenty-five years the distinct decline in the efficiency of the House of Commons, and its steady decline in the estimation of the public outside. Year by year he had seen the rights of private Members trenched upon and filched away; and now, under this rule, it might be taken as true that their rights had ceased altogether. "Expedient" was an ominous term. The closure and the guillotine had been borrowed from Continental Parliamentary practice to destroy freedom of speech here, where freedom of speech used to be a cherished boast. The right of ventilating griev- 76 ances had always been held to precede the right of voting supplies. That was a fundamental right which had been won by the fortitude and heroism of their forefathers; and now, casually, at six or eight hours notice a Prime Minister of England came down, and, for no other reason than that his own Party would not attend so as to enable him to continue in office, proposed this Resolution which filched away the fundamental rights of private Members. This was done by a Minister who knew perfectly well that he had lost the confidence of the country; and by a condemned House of Commons which was waiting for the hour of its extinction to chime.
He did not attribute the whole of the situation in which the House found itself to the right hon. Gentleman or to his Government. If the Government changed to-morrow and a new set of Ministers took their place, he knew perfectly well that they would feel the pressure of the new conditions which had arisen. The plain truth was, and he had said it over and over again on recent occasions and in past years, that the House of Commons was physically unable to perform one-tenth of the important duties which the changed conditions of the Empire had thrown upon it. They had heard much recently of devolution, of Home Rule all round, and of Home Rule for Ireland as he and his colleagues understood it and as the demanded it. He knew that he could not discuss that question now; but, after all, in his opinion, this was in its essence a Home Rule debate, if, such a proposal as this was—he would not say necessary—but was even discussable in the House of Commons, it meant that there was no alternative between, on the one side, lightening the load of this House, or, on the other side, destroying, past recovery, this Parliament, and lowering it to the level of an Assembly whose only duty was to record the pre-arranged decrees of a clique of Gentlemen who, for the moment, were in possession of office, but who knew themselves that they did not possess the confidence of the electorate. That was a position of contempt and degradation for the House of Commons to be in. That was the position which the House of Commons would have to face in the future—and increasingly in the future, whatever Government held 77 the reins of power—unless the other alternative was adopted, which he knew would eventually be adopted, of lightening the load of this Assembly and confining its operations to the great matters affecting the welfare of the Empire. For these reasons he begged to move the Motion standing in his name.
§ MR. CHURCHILL (Oldham)
said he was very glad indeed to be permitted to second the Motion made by the hon. Member for Waterford. It was a Motion moved by the hon. Gentleman with great propriety, because every Member of the House of Commons would realise that the Party to which that hon. Gentleman belonged had, consistently and with hardly a break for a great number of years, defended the freedom of debate and discussion in this House. And he would venture to express the hope that that Party would not weary from their labours in the cause of freedom of debate even though a general election were to result in a change of Government. They were now asked to participate and to acquiesce in another blow at and abridgment of the liberties of the House which had been so frequent in recent years, and which had so greatly distinguished the existing Parliament. The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury had never changed his Party; but he had often changed his opinions. They were now witnessing, in his treatment of the House of Commons, a conversion on the part of the right hon. Gentleman to the extreme Radical doctrine of twenty or twenty-five years ago. He was reading the other day in a book a speech made by the hon. Member for Northampton in 1882, in which that hon. Gentleman was expounding the democratic creed, as interpreted in those days. The hon. Gentleman's view was that there ought to be very frequent elections; certainly once every three years; that certain measures should be presented to the people at these elections; that they should be submitted to a plebiscite, and, if the people approved of them, that then they should pass, the Ministry having thereby received an imperative mandate, and, representing a majority, discussion was, therefore, useless. Now, he did not agree with these doctrines, and he thought there were a great many in 78 the House who were called advanced politicians who would not be inclined to use the argument in that form; but, even if they had all the advantages of triennial Parliaments, even if they had these special mandates, and even if they were dealing with a measure of which the country was in favour, he did not think they ought to assent to a doctrine which was absolutely subversive of all the fundamental principles of the English Constitution and prejudicial to the discussions in the House. How much less ought they to consent to the abrogation of the liberties of the House when there was no mandate whatever; for the proceedings of the Government; and whereas, instead of having triennial Parliaments, this Parliament was entering on its fifth year, and when the Govern-itself did not pretend to claim that they had the confidence of the country in what they were doing. Why should they accept this abrogation of their liberties even if proposed by a First Lord of the Treasury, who represented the Constitutional and Conservative Part?
The right hon. Member for East Fife had said that this Resolution did not stand alone; that it was a step in a series, and part of a regular policy. Surely hon. Gentlemen who had been listening to the debates of this and last session would remember the discussions on the Licensing Bill. There was almost an exact parallel between the conduct of the Prime Minister in regard to that important measure and his conduct in regard to Supply before Easter. The plan was a very simple one. Parliament was called together very late, or the Government Bills were introduced very late. No care was taken of debate in the earlier stages. The Prime Minister never attended in his place; he never condescended to give the House the benefit of his guidance at any stage of these proceedings. He never used his persuasive and dialectical arts to get business forward, and to make those arrangements which enabled the minority to take part in the government of the country. Then, all of a sudden, in the privacy of his room, the right hon. Gentleman was told that Supply was in arrears, or that the Licensing Bill would take too long to pass. And, on that ground, and 79 that ground alone, the right hon. Gentleman came down to the House of Commons and proposed a special Resolution; and the guillotine Resolution was enforced. He should like to know what conceivable species of Parliamentary business could not be arbitrarily curtailed and closured by this simple plan? Now, because the Administration could not make up their mind as to their Army policy, the Army Estimates were just presented to the House. The Supplementary Estimates, which were fertile in the possibilities of unexpected divisions, had been postponed, and the Navy Estimates, on which the Government had a majority, had been put very prominently in the forefront. He had listened to all these debates, and he could tell the right hon. Gentleman that there had been just as many speeches made from his own side of the House as from that side; and he would also tell the right hon. Gentleman that, though probably he had not heard them for himself, sometimes for two hours at a time there had been a continuation of obstructive speeches from the Government benches. Could the right hon. Gentleman deny that?
§ *MR. CHURCHILL
said that now they saw why the right hon. Gentleman took such care to be very seldom in the House. It was in order that when he was asked a very awkward Question he might pretend that he knew nothing about it. As to the debates on the Navy Estimates, the Secretary to the Admiralty very courteously occupied twice or three times as much time as any other Member of the House. But he understood the right hon. Gentleman did not put forward any charge of obstruction. What, then, was the unusual cause this year which made this extraordinary procedure necessary? What had been the feature of the debates? Empty benches opposite. On numerous occasions he had observed only a dozen hon. Gentlemen opposite. They were sick at heart. Although they were ready to vote they did not pay any attention to the arguments used in debate. Even on the debate on the Navy 80 the hon. Member for Northampton moved a count because only fifteen Members were present. They were asked to dwell on the unprecedented virtues of the Government. They heard a good deal about March 31st, for the right hon. Gentleman liked these laws with respect to dates. He was very respectful of the law of August 12th—anything which marked a period when he could get away from the House of Commons and discussion seemed naturally sacred in his eyes. After all, the law of March 31st existed on the authority of Parliament and the House of Commons, and were not the laws and procedure of that House also of some sanctity and value? Why should they always be brushed aside? The ordinary remedy for getting through this business would be to sit up late. The right hon. Gentleman threw great scorn on that practice, which was not very satisfactory or comfortable. But an elaborate procedure was the only method by which a minority could defend itself and assert its influence in the government of the country, so that the doings of Parliament should have a national character—an elaborate procedure which gave the minority an opportunity of questioning the proceedings of the majority at many stages, and imposed on the majority certain obligations of exertion and even sacrifice in order that they might show the earnestness of their convictions. The present proposals were foreign to the traditions of the Conservative Party, which for many years inveighed against this sort of procedure. Moreover, that Party would not always be in the majority, and invasions of the procedure of the House were very rarely recovered. Why should they not sit up a few nights? He was not sure that an all-night sitting caused bad feeling in the House, sometimes a feeling of comradeship sprang up which afterwards remained and made the course of business thereafter somewhat easier. Large blocks of business were invariably got through after an all-night sitting had taken place.
What was the new fact this year which impelled the Prime Minister to make these proposals? It was that there was a complete demoralisation of the cohesive forces in the Unionist Party, who would not consent to make any real sacrifice of their convenience or comfort to keep the 81 Government in power; and the more discredited the Government was in the country the more desperate and revolutionary was the procedure which it was compelled to resort to in the House of Commons. What did the Government represent? He did not attach much importance to the mandate, but every one knew that the election was fought on the specific issue of the war. The Prime Minister himself had become Prime Minister by methods by which only a very small minority of Prime Ministers had ever succeeded to that great office. He had never come forward and led his Party to victory at the polls; he received his great office as a private inheritance, and his title was going to be contested in the high court of appeal. The Government did not represent the country, nor even their own Party—not its traditions, which were represented by men like the right hon. Member for Bristol, not its ideals, which were represented by the noble Lord the Member for Greenwich, not its appetites and ambitions, those were represented on the third bench below the gangway by the right hon. Member for Birmingham. They did not represent even the talent of their Party; they were a Government of Undersecretaries and of private secretaries.
§ MR. CHURCHILL
said the Prime Minister knew perfectly well that the object of all these manœuvres was merely to retain in power for a few weeks, or it might be months, an Administration which feared to face the verdict of the country. He did not dispute the power of the right hon. Gentleman. When Gladstone and Disraeli formed Governments they had to make accommodation with many distinguished men who shared and divided the authority of their chiefs, but the present Prime Minister, on the other hand, was absolutely supreme. There was not a single right hon. Gentleman in the Cabinet who would venture to stand against him for a moment. The right hon. Gentleman could dismiss his colleagues in droves and batches and fill their places with others without the public service suffering in 82 the least or the reputation of the Government being in the slightest degree diminished. The right hon. Gentleman had brought forward a Motion which fitted in with the general scheme of his new procedure rules. Those rules were framed in the interests of those who were most seldom there, who were most frequently wearied of debate, in the interest of men of leisure and of pleasure who liked to belong to the House of Commons because it invested them with a serious character they would not otherwise possess. The injury which the Prime Minister had thus done to the House of Commons would, he ventured to say, be remembered long after even the extravagance of his Administration had been forgotten by the country. He did not think the Opposition would be great losers, whatever might be the result of the division. Although, as he had pointed out in the previous session, it was in the power of the right hon. Gentleman to remain in office so long as his majority would vote with servility on general occasions, did the right hon. Gentleman think he would be much better in the end? The very Parliamentary manœuvres by which the right hon. Gentleman retained himself in power would be one of the principal reasons why numbers of voters would be induced to transfer their allegiance to the Liberal Party at the next election. He calculated at the end of the last session that the Conservative or Unionist Party paid as the privilege of being represented by their leaders a rent of about one thousand votes each Parliamentary day. That was mounting up to a considerable figure. The Opposition had no reason, from a partisan point of view, for regretting any Parliamentary manœuvre, however ingenious, however discreditable, however revolutionary, which the right hon. Gentleman might see fit to introduce. It was not purely from a Party point of view that this Motion had been discussed. It had been discussed in the interests of the House of Commons as a whole. The right hon. Gentleman had adjured the House to support the proposal in the interests of the dignity of the House of Commons. If he (Mr. Churchill) had to choose between the interests of the dignity of the House of Commons and its freedom, he would pronounce for its freedom. It 83 could not enjoy real dignity unless its debates were free. He was certain that the Motion of the hon. Member for Waterford, whatever fate it might meet with here, would receive earnest approbation in the country, and when the opportunity came—as come it must—the nation would testify its gratitude to all who had endeavoured to vindicate the liberties of Parliament.
To leave out from the word 'That,' to the end of the Question, in order to add the words 'this House declines to sanction any proposal to further arbitrarily curtail discussion of Supplies and of the various stages of the Consolidated Fund Bill as a violation of the constitutional rights of the House."—(Mr. John Redmond.)
§ Question proposed, "That the words 'in order to' stand part of the Question."
§ MR. CLAUDE LOWTHER (Cumberland, Eskdale)
(who spoke amid great interruption and loud cries of Wanklyn) said that the hon. Member for Oldham had occupied some considerable time, but after all what had he said? After all his oratorical efforts, after inveighing against the Prime Minister, the hon. Member told the House with tears in his throat that the 31st of March came every year, and that where there was a Government there must always be an Opposition. The speech of the hon. Member might be described as a plot of platitudes and a lot of attitudes. He, himself, had no desire to prolong the debate, but he thought that if the hon. Member curtailed his observations he would find that his audience on the Unionist benches would gradually grow larger and that there would be more time to discuss those questions which the hon. Gentleman himself considered to be of such vital importance.
§ MR. BROADHURST (Leicester)
said he had only a few Questions to put to the Government. First of all he wished to know whether when this Motion was passed it was the intention of the Government to abolish the dinner hour as established by the new rules. The second question was whether they intended to pass a rule with regard to the limitation of speeches. And the third was whether, if this rule was passed, the House was to 84 conclude that it was the winding-up order of this Parliament; whether, havingc on-eluded these measures of Supply by March 31st, it was the intention of the Government to appeal to the country to see whether it still approved of the plans of the Government for the carrying on of the business of the country. If this procedure was proposed in order to hasten the dissolution of this Parliament that would be a good reason for not opposing this rule. Those were the Questions he desired to put to the Government, and if the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer could not reply to them at once he hoped the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister would give a serious Answer to them before the debate concluded.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER (Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN,) Worcestershire, E.
interjected an observation which did not reach the gallery.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR (Liverpool, Scotland)
said he took a very serious view of the proposal made by the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, and on the previous night or early that morning he called attention to the fact that the right hon. Gentleman did not, even think it worth while to read the terms of his Resolution to the House. Had it not been for the fact that the hon. Member for Oldham had obtained a copy of the Motion from the Clerk at the Table, the House would have been in complete ignorance as to its terms until that morning. As it was, hon. Members were called upon at five hours notice to discuss what must be described as a revolutionary change in the rules of the House. The right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Treasury had had to acknowledge that this was the first time that the closure of debate had been proposed in connection with the Supplementary Estimates. If there was one debate in this House which ought not to be curtailed it was the debate upon the Supplementary Estimates. What were the Supplementary Estimates? 85 They might represent two things, either a new set of events demanding a new expenditure, to which nobody could object, or they might represent, which was mostly the case, gross miscalculation on the part of those who framed the financial statements of the country. It was true that the Supplementary Estimates this year were rather lower than they were in the previous year, but that only showed that such a Resolution as that before the House was not necessary. In 1893–4 the Supplementary Estimates were only £592,000; in 1894–5, they were £655,000. But since that date the Supplementary Estimates had never been under £2,000,000, and on one occasion, in the year 1903£4, they reached £4,610,000. A Supplementary Estimate of nearly £5,000,000 was to all intents and purposes a second Budget, and ought to be subjected to the same severity and length of criticism as a Budget. Therefore the House was now in this position, that the Prime Minister was leaving to any future Finance Minister an opportunity for proposing a second Budget in one year in the shape of Supplementary Estimates, and at the same time depriving the House of Commons of the right of full discussion, which lay at the very basis of its history and institution. While he felt bound to speak with some severity of the policy of the Prime Minister, he did not wish to speak with any severity of the right hon. Gentleman himself. The Prime Minister by his charm of manner had been able to get this House to do things which a less popular Minister would have been stopped from even proposing. The right hon. Gentleman reminded him of four lines of his illustrious countryman, Sir Walter Scott—Like the bat of Indian brakes,His pinions fan the wound he makes;And soothing thus the sufferer's pain,He draws the life-blood from the vein.By his personal courtesy and easy-going and affable manner the Prime Minister had been able to get the House, session after session, to surrender some of its most valuable principles and traditions. What had been the result? He had already referred to Supplementary Estimates; he would now take Votes on Account. When he first entered Parliament, before that Assembly had been demoralised by the Prime Minister, Votes 86 on Account were seldom for more than six weeks, and rarely for a larger sum than from £3,000,000 to £5,000,000. But in 1897 the Government obtained a Vote of Credit for £10,300,000, and covering four months of Parliamentary time, while on one occasion there was a Vote of Credit for no less than £21,500,000, and covering a period of five months. In other words, Votes on Account, which were always discussed and decided in one day of Parliamentary time, had risen to such a point that nearly one-fourth of the entire revenue of the country was allowed only one day's discussion. The right hon. Gentleman was also responsible for the guillotine which followed the twenty-three days of Supply. Did the House realise—he was confident the country did not—that in every session of Parliament millions of money were voted without a single hour's discussion?
Reference had been made to the embarrassments of previous Ministries with regard to legislation and those of the present Government with regard to finance. Embarrassments with regard to legislation were important only if the legislation was important. But the importance of legislation was infinitesimal as compared with the importance of finance. One Minister could propose legislation in one direction, and his successor in another; but expenditure outlasted Parliaments and Ministries, and went on for ever. The proper control of expenditure was the main and supreme function of the House of Commons, and any attack upon its power in that direction was far more serious thin any attack upon its liberty of discussion with regard to legislation. In four sessions of Parliament £116,000,000 had been voted without a single hour's discussion.
§ *MR. SPEAKER
I do not think the hon. Member will be in order on this Motion in reviewing the general effect of the Supply rule; his observations must be confined to the Amendment.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
said his contention was that this Motion was only a part of a general policy for which the right hon. Gentleman was responsible and which he had relentlessly pursued. From that policy there had naturally followed want of supervision, which meant want of 87 economy. In the last ten years the revenue of the country had increased from £107,000,000 to £177,000,000; Army and Navy expenditure had risen from £36,500,000 to £86,500,000; and the liabilities of the State had swollen from £738,000,000 to £948,000,000. Those figures showed that the curtailment of debate for which the Prime Minister was mainly responsible had led to an appalling increase in the burden of the nation. What would be the result if the House were precluded from discussing Supplementary Estimates? It was only necessary to look at the fate of another Empire. He could foresee a time, if this policy was continued, when an Alexieff of the Treasury bench would lead this country into the same morass of blood and bankruptcy into which another Minister had led another Empire. Whenever he was in the smallest difficulty the Prime Minister laid his hands upon immemorial traditions and usages of the House. He had failed to give any reason whatever for this Motion. With the least tact, conciliation, and conference, the right hon. Gentleman could have got his necessary Votes before the legal day, probably without a single all-night sitting. It had been suggested by some Members that the Motion was rendered necessary by the delay in the Army Estimates caused by dissensions, while others declared it to be due to the reluctance of the supporters of the Government to tear themselves away from their social amusements. Whatever the real reason might be, was it not too bad that the Leader of the House, the custodian of its liberties and traditions, should not hesitate to propose a rule such as no Prime Minister Had ever proposed before. The right hon. Gentleman seemed really not to care what happened, so far as Parliament was concerned. After him, the deluge. It he was in a difficulty, his idea was to smash this rule, break this tradition, violate this law, or curtail that liberty. He seemed to think that nothing mattered in this world. Immersed in the metaphysics of his native country, the Prime Minister seemed to regard all sublunary affairs as unworthy of consideration. There was once an invasion of this House by a monarch. Charles I., when he attempted to arrest the five Members, probably thought he was doing as 88 simple and as easy a thing as the Prime Minister apparently imagined he was doing in abolishing the control of Parliament over Supplementary Estimates. The record of that transaction as set forth by the then Clerk of the House was—His Majesty came into the House and took Mr. Speaker's Chair. 'Gentlemen, I am sorry to have this occasion to come unto you—'and then the record ended. That Clerk of the House of Commons was a Gentleman entirely after the Prime Minister's heart. Whatever changes might take place in the rules and traditions of this House, the Prime Minister was perfectly satisfied, knowing that in about six weeks or six months in the cold shades of opposition his responsibility would have entirely ceased.
§ MR. WANKLYN (Bradford, Central)
said he had been invited by hon. Members opposite to give his reason for supporting the Government on the present occasion. He found those reasons in speeches delivered during the recess by the right hon. Baronet the Member for Northumberland and the junior Member for Oldham. He did not intend to digress into any personal issue between the hon. Member for Old-ham and himself; that could be settled elsewhere than in the House of Commons. But on this question of procedure, in more than one speech the right hon. Baronet and the hon. Member to whom he had referred had stated that it was the duty of the Opposition to block all Government business in that House from the first meeting of Parliament, on the ground that His Majesty's Ministers had exhausted their mandate. Probably the Opposition and himself would not agree as to whether the Government had exhausted their mandate, but they would doubtless agree that Ministers had a mandate to bring about a settlement of affairs in South Africa, and he suggested that affairs there would not be settled until representative government had been granted. There was the case of the Licensing Bill last year, when the Opposition questioned the right of the Prime Minister to introduce the guillotine as he was now doing. He was within the recollection of the House when he said that the Licensing Bill was obstructed 89 until the guillotine was introduced, and not until then did they really get to business. Why was that Bill obstructed? It was said that the Licensing Bill would put into the pockets of the brewers £300,000,000, whereas they knew that since the Act had come into force every brewery share in the country had dropped. [OPPOSITION cries of "Oh," and "No, no!"] He was not going to be silenced by clamour, and he was only replying to what had been said by the junior Member for Oldham. When all-night sittings were advocated how far did they contribute to the dignity of the House? Great writers in the leading magazines had asserted that this House was losing respect in the country, and why? Because of the scenes which arose at all-night sittings. Those scenes were amongst the causes which contributed to this loss of respect. As he had said before, so far as the business of this House was concerned no good work could be done after twelve o'clock at night. He begged to thank the Opposition for the courteous way in which they had listened to observations which they themselves had asked for.
§ MR. WHITLEY (Halifax)
said he did not think many hon. Members had realised the very stringent character of the Motion of the Prime Minister, and he doubted whether the right hon. Gentleman himself was aware of the wide terms or the possibilities that might arise under the Motion. The hon. and learned member for Waterford stated that under this Motion it would be possible to put down new Votes in Supply on the very day the guillotine was to fall, and nobody could doubt I that that was a fact. But there was an even wider power than this involved in the Motion. It spoke of "any Supplementary Estimates," therefore it was not confined to Supplementary Estimates now before the House. It would be possible for the Government to introduce on the first day of the guillotine an entirely new Supplementary Estimate, which might not up to that time have been within the purview of the House, and then call upon the House to pass it without any consideration and without a word of discussion. He trusted that an ample 90 opportunity would be given to the House of considering the drafting of Amendments, because there were two or three points which he was sure were never intended by the Prime Minister when he gave instructions for the drafting of his Motion, which might bring about an entirely unexpected and unanticipated state of things unless they were allowed to examine the wording and purport of the Motion. He thought the Prime Minister could not deny that the real reason that had induced him to make this stringent Motion was the fact that he dare not face the country or the House of Commons. He was endeavouring to take away the last remaining right of the House to criticise the expenditure of public money. That was the reason why he was afraid of all-night sittings. The fact was the right hon. Gentleman knew that he could not command the support of hon. Members sitting behind him unless they were allowed to come down at stated times. They had seen enough this session of the way the right hon. Gentleman had had to put up hon. Members time after time in order to avoid coming to a decision when the House was ready to do so, and that had contributed to the waste of time during the present session. Was it not time that the Prime Minister should go to the country and cease carrying on this farce my longer?
§ MR. BRYCE (Aberdeen, S.)
said he had been listening with interest to the debate, and had expected to hear some defence made of this proposal. Only one defender, however, had spoken, and,hat was the hon. Member for Central Bradford. If the House thought that he had strengthened the case for the Government they would no doubt express that feeling in the division lobby.
§ MR. BRYCE
said this proposal was unlike any which the Government had made before in two respects: in the first place, it related to money, and in this respect it was a stricter proposal with regard to the Estimates. In the second place, it had not been supported in his opinion by any substantial arguments at all by the Prime Minister. The 91 Prime Minister had endeavoured to take advantage of his own wrong doing, for he had brought them into a difficult position and now turned round and asked them to give him an advantage. This reminded him of the story of a mountain guide who led his party to a dangerous point and then turned round and said that they must double the pay for his services because they had got into a difficult position. This difficulty was entirely caused by the First Lord of the Treasury, and it was entirely the right hon. Gentleman's fault that they found themselves in their present position. In every other previous case of this kind something like obstruction had been urged as a reason for such a Motion.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
I am always careful never to allege obstruction unless I am driven to it. But do not let the right hon. Gentleman suppose that I do not think that there was obstruction.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
If by the Parliamentary expression "uncandid" the right hon. Gentleman means to say that I was ambiguous, I now proceed to make it unambiguous and I say that there was obstruction. [OPPOSITION cries of "When?"]
§ MR. BRYCE
said the right hon. Gentleman had a right of reply on this Motion, and he hoped that he would endeavour to collect instances of obstruction from those of his supporters who had been more frequently in the House, and perhaps 92 that would give him an opportunity of fortifying the statement which, to his (Mr. Bryce's) great surprise, he had just made. Speaking for himself he had never seen any obstruction except that which proceeded from hon. Members opposite in their endeavour to avert dangerous divisions. He was not aware of any single case of an hon. Member obstructing except with a view of keeping off a division. It would have been perfectly easy to have finished off the Supplementary Votes in Supply before March 31st without this Motion. Even admitting that the House meeting on February 14th gave too narrow a margin, why did the right hon. Gentleman not bring the House together before that date? Surely it would have been much wiser to have met earlier. He invited the Prime Minister to give them a single case in which a Minister of the Crown had ever appealed to the House to be allowed to comply with the law where that request had been refused. They all remembered how long the debate on the King's Speech had lasted, and how remarkable it was that the Government had made no effort to abridge the debate on the King's Speech. That debate lasted fourteen days, and it would have been quite possible to have curtailed it, because the Government even then had before them all the difficulties which they now alleged as a reason for bringing forward this proposal. What was the motive which induced the Prime Minister to call Parliament together so late, and why had he allowed the, debate on the King's Speech to go dawdling on? The only explanation he could see was that the Government were not then ready with their Estimates. That was the most probable explanation, and it was confirmed by the fact that they had not produced the Army Estimates until yesterday morning. The Army Estimates had not been produced so late for a long time, and if there were any particular Estimates that ought to be produced early they were the Army Estimates. They contained not only an additional sum of money, but, what was more important, were changed in form and raised many difficult questions which required more debate than in ordinary years, and, therefore, there was every reason why 93 the House should have had those Estimates at the earliest possible time. He was perfectly certain that the right hon. Gentleman would not traverse that fact. He did not attribute any particular blame to him. He did not know where the blame lay, but that there was blame attaching to the Ministry for not producing the Army Estimates until yesterday no one could deny. The right hon. Gentleman had offered an opportunity for the discussion of Army policy upon another date, but that was not the same thing as a debate upon the first two Votes. There was unreality about discussion after the Votes were passed. It was not the opportunity the House had a right to expect.
There were other methods of getting through business in time. The use of the ordinary closure might have been sufficient if applied with tact and judgment, and when it was rendered necessary because Members opposite had wasted time to postpone a division. Saturday sittings to expedite business had in old days frequently been resorted to. Personally disagreeable such sittings were to Members, but they were a far less evil than the measure now proposed. By an exchange of the Wednesdays after Easter the Government might have secured time within the financial year. There was no precedent for asking the House to adopt such a Resolution without allowing time to formulate Amendments, nor for curtailing discussion of the Estimates in this manner, except at the end of the session. A mixture of recklessness with indolence in Leadership had brought about the present difficulty. The First Lord of the Treasury had used a remarkable expression in his speech that night, namely, that they could not go back to the easy-going methods of old times. The methods of old days were not easy-going; the Leaders of the House of thirty, forty, or fifty years ago were not easy-going men; they took pains, they looked ahead, they were not caught by the tide of time, they used their opportunities, they had their supporters ready, and had time for any important unexpected question that might arise. It was because forethought, care, and use of opportunities had been neglected during recent years of Leadership that the House found itself in this difficulty.
94 The country generally probably did not understand the complicated procedure of the House, and therefore there was the more reason that the House should have a scrupulous regard for it. A change of procedure of this kind amounted to change of constitution; it removed a safeguard for debate and proper conduct of business the wisdom of previous Parliaments had thought necessary. Changes hitherto made had been justified by undue prolongation of debate, but no such defence could be made of the innovation now attempted. The Prime Minister, on a previous occasion, when making another revolutionary proposal in regard to their financial debates—when the Votes were being slumped—quarrelled very much with him because he ventured to say that it was by control over finance that the privileges of the House were originally established, that it was by being the guardian of the public purse that the House gave protection to the ratepayers, and that every change in their privileges which affected money was a question of the utmost gravity. The right hon. Gentleman had said that conditions were now quite different. It was true that the forms in which the danger appeared were different from age to age, but it would generally be found that the substance and principle remained very much the same. The control of money, and the responsibilities attaching to Supply, had always been a vital and central point in the powers and duties of the House, and wherever they were being affected the House ought to be doubly watchful. He did not suggest that the dangers now were such as in old days the House had to contend with; but there was grave danger to economy and efficient administration if the House cultivated a habit of negligence and blind obedience to the Government of the day, abrogating thereby its first duty. Every proposal which tended to weaken the interest of the House in financial matters and subjected its voting to abnormal conditions tended to destroy its sense of responsibility and duty to secure economy and prevent the imposition of unnecessary burdens on the nation, and was an injury to the Constitution.
The hon. Member for Oldham had said that this was not a Party question. 95 He himself did not desire to treat it as a Party question, and he wished to make an appeal to the Party opposite. Bad habits were easily formed, and surely no one would deny that it was a bad habit to become reckless in the voting of money. At the present time the Conservative Party considered itself in a special way the guardian of property, restraining any undue taxation of the rich, and all the dangers that might follow therefrom. He could imagine that a time might come—although the older Members of the House might not live to see it—when there would be a Party in that House very anxious to impose heavy taxation on the rich, and to employ the resources of the State for the benefit of the masses in a way which the property-holding classes would greatly resent. Would it not be a great danger if there should be in those days a tyrannical Ministry, or a majority, anxious to carry out proposals with a high hand and to stifle the voice of criticism, and if they were able to cite this precedent set by a Conservative Government for shortening debate, for diminishing the opportunities of discussion, and making it easier to carry strong and tyrannical measures? He hoped such a condition of things would not arise, but if it did the property-holding classes would have grave reason to regret the policy of the present Prime Minister. He believed the present proposal of the right hon. Gentleman was another step, and a great step, towards the degradation of the House of Commons and the restriction of its powers in the performance of important functions. Those who would have most reason to regret the change were those who valued the traditions of the House, and who knew how precious were the traditions of liberty.
§ MR. MCKENNA (Monmouthshire, N.)
said the First Lord of the Treasury was very difficult to satisfy. If they talked on the proposals which were made he charged them with obstruction, and if they were silent they were guilty of a manœuvre in order to get a snap division. Which was it that the First Lord wished? If he would daily put out a list of those whom he desired to speak they would do their best to satisfy him. They could not be both silent and speak. What was 96 the real aim of the Motion? The right hon. Gentleman said that it was necessary to get through certain business before March 31st. It was quite conceivable that the House should get through that business without any charge of obstruction being made. The real reason of the proposal was to be found in the speech which the First Lord of the Treasury made last July at a private dinner given downstairs by certain of his own supporters. At that dinner the First Lord of the Treasury used these remarkable words—The results of the by-elections were not the most serious dangers in the path of the Unionist Government. The most apparent danger was want of loyalty on the part of some of the Unionist Members.And then the right hon. Gentleman went on to say that he would not unduly burden his followers even in that session or in the next; and in return—let the House observe this—he expected from them that loyalty in the division lobbies—that loyalty which would enable the Government to carry their programme to a successful issue. The right hon. Gentleman was fulfilling to the letter that pledge not to be a burden on his followers, and demanded in return that high loyalty in the division lobbies which he had asked for last year. The right hon. Gentleman had had his experience in the division lobbies, and had told his followers that neither their pains nor their joys could be prolonged. Then the right hon. Gentleman came down to the House with a following 260 strong—he had never had his followers 260 strong before—at an early hour, and had kept them there in order to exercise his brutal mastery over the Opposition. He did not know whether the right hon. Gentleman believed that the future dignity of Parliament was to be maintained by these methods, but he was sure that the right hon. Gentleman was destroying all true interest in the working of the House of Commons. He had been in the House for ten years and could say that in the course of the last few years there had been no inducement to any Member to undertake any sort of serious work, and at that moment the position was worse than ever. Day by day they were waiting to see this Government fall to pieces. It was only by 97 the most extraordinary exertions that the right hon Gentleman had been able to keep together a Party composed of discontented free-traders and discontented protectionists. He had only kept them together by coercing a minority, and had now in this last effort achieved the triumph of his purpose. The right hon. Gentleman had brought down his large majority, and they were receiving the reward for their pains by enjoying to the full the humiliation of the minority.
§ SIR GEORGE BARTLEY (Islington, N.)
said he must agree with some of the hon. Gentlemen who had spoken in saying that there was much in those rules that he did not like. It was a very hateful necessity that such measures should be introduced at all. But was it not really a farce that hon. Gentlemen opposite should say they were keenly anxious to discuss the Supplementary Estimates, while they were wasting the whole of that day and probably to-morrow. If hon. Members could only be reasonable for once there would be other two days on which to discuss the details of the Estimates, the discussion on the principles having already taken place. Certain Members on the other side of the House were determined to put every difficulty in the way of passing Government measures. In 1894, when he took some interest in the Opposition of the time, they always allowed these matters to go through because they did not involve questions of Party politics, but rather of routine. This the Opposition of that day did, although the Government was weak and had not the mandate of the country as was proved very soon afterwards. If hon. Gentlemen opposite were keen to discuss every shilling on these Estimates there was ample time to do it even if the Resolution was passed. Even if the Opposition gained a Party advantage by these discussions, the country did not care for them. It only desired the House to get through with its business in a reasonable manner.
§ *MR. JOHN ELLIS
said that the hon. Member who had just sat down had trotted out the proceedings in 1894, and he noticed that his remarks were cheered by some hon. Members opposite. But the conditions in 1894 were entirely 98 different from those now existing, when a great revolution was being promoted in the Army and the Resolution of the Prime Minister would affect discussion on the Army Estimates. He had been for many years sitting opposite the First Lord of the Treasury, and had watched him very carefully all that time. He had always admired the right hon. Gentleman, but that afternoon the Prime Minister had surpassed himself. When the right hon. Gentleman gave notice last midnight of this Resolution he had ventured to interject the word "unprecedented." In the course of the very warm conversation which followed the right hon. Gentleman stated that he could brush that word aside, and produce precedents for this Resolution; but he had entirely failed to do so; at any rate he had made no attempt to bring forward any precedent for this Resolution. At Question time yesterday the right hon. Gentleman used the following words: "I cannot at the moment give the terms of the Resolution which I shall move, though I hope to announce them to-night before the adjournment of the House." At midnight, instead of reading the terms of the Resolution, he merely laid it on the Table, and then they witnessed the unseemly spectacle of an hon. Member having to go down to the Table and get the terms of the Motion and read them out. That was unworthy of the Prime Minister and the Leader of the House. Why did not the right hon. Gentleman read out the terms of the Motion to the House as he specifically promised to do? And why were they not, in the usual manner, supplied elsewhere? Why should they have this sort of elusiveness, the real reason of which everybody knew? All the great Leaders of the House had been frank and open with the House, from Mr. Disraeli downwards, except the right hon. Gentleman.
This Resolution was most unprecedented in the way in which it was introduced; and the right hon. Gentleman had admitted, by his silence, that it was unprecedented in its nature. The Resolution was a very wide one, and went very far. He did not know how many hon. Members had made themselves masters of its whole scope. He freely 99 confessed that, though it was his business to look into such matters, it had taken him a good deal of time before he realised the whole scope of the Resolution. It had fifty-two lines to begin with. It dealt not only with Votes in Supply, but with all the stages of the Consolidated Fund Bill. Every one knew that the stages of that Bill offered a very wide and open door for discussion of various matters. He maintained that to adopt a drastic procedure on the Second and Third Readings of the Consolidated Fund Bill—the first that came before the House during the session—was to closure the House in a way which was perhaps only imperfectly realised. Worse than that, while the business to which this Resolution appertained was under the consideration of the House nothing else could be raised. There could be no Motion for adjournment, or Motion to report Progress, or Motion that the debate be adjourned. It was, in effect, a blocking Motion of the most drastic character. The House of Commons was for ten days at the entire mercy of the Executive Government. Not a single question could be raised either on foreign or domestic matters while this Resolution remained in force.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
It is incorrect because private Members' rights are not interfered with, and the adjournment of the House can be moved.
§ *MR. JOHN ELLIS
said that that was no answer to his argument at all. So far as Government time was concerned the Motion would operate exactly as he had stated. It was a matter which concerned the House of Commons at large. Perhaps hon. Gentlemen opposite would not give him credit for sincerity when he stated that he viewed the Motion primarily from that aspect. He had sat on both sides of the House, and it had been his lot on occasions to differ from his Leaders, and if they brought forward a Motion of this kind he should certainly differ from them. It was not 100 a question of Party; his objection to the Motion was rooted in the conception of what the functions of the House of Commons should be. Lord Palmerston, who was one of the most successful Leaders the House of Commons ever had, once used the following language—But this House has another function to discharge, and one highly conducive to the public interests—namely, that of being the mouthpiece of the nation; the organ by which all opinions, all complaints, all notions of grievances, all hopes and expectations, all wishes and suggestions which may arise amongst the people at large, may be brought to an expression here, may be discussed, examined, answered, rejected, or redressed.That was as important a function as either legislation or criticism of the Estimates; and it was because this Motion trenched on that function that he opposed it so resolutely. He was glad the noble Lord the Member for Greenwich was present. The noble Lord had made brilliant contributions to their debates, and he had a distinguished future before him. He recently expressed the opinion that the House of Commons was losing respect for itself. Many hon. Gentlemen opposite in their heart of hearts would vote for this Motion with a great deal of searching of heart. What right had the Government to bring forward a Motion of this kind? They did not represent the opinion of the people at large. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham said that the dissolution had no terrors for him. The dissolution had no terrors for himself; but there were many hon. Gentlemen opposite in a different position. They, at all events, had no authority to pass such a Resolution. The Amendment might be defeated, the Resolution might be carried, but they on that side looked forward with confidence to the time when the present House of Commons would be buried and a new House of Commons would proceed with legislation for the welfare of the people of these islands.
§ *MR. McCRAE
said he wished to know what were the reasons underlying this attack on the privileges of the House of Commons and the freedom of debate. The Prime Minister stated that if this drastic rule were not passed soldiers would not be able to get their pay. It was sickening and revolting that our soldiers 101 should be dragged in as pawns in this Party manœuvre. The Secretary of State for War advanced that argument a few days ago, but it was unworthy of the Prime Minister to follow that example. As a matter of fact, the soldiers would not be paid out of the Army Votes at all. If the Army Votes were to be used for Army purposes they should be put into the Consolidated Fund Bill and all the dates would have to be changed. Instead of the Speaker being out of the Chair on the 28th he would have to be moved out on the 20th. If the right hon. Gentleman desired to comply with the law he should got the Army Votes through and get them included in the Consolidated Fund Act before March 31st. That was not proposed. The right hon. Gentleman was proposing to take money voted for the Civil Service and the Navy in order to discharge expenditure on the Army. What was the only reason for this Motion? It was a confession that with all his large majority the right hon. Gentleman was not able to carry on the business of the country. They repudiated the charge of obstruction which the right hon. Gentleman had made and challenged him to justify his allegations of obstruction by giving an instance when it occurred. His principal reason for rising was to put these points to the right hon. Gentleman and to point out that what the right hon. Gentleman was going to do was, not to comply with the law but, to use the Civil Service and Navy Votes for Army expenditure. If the right hon. Gentleman was unable to carry on the business of Parliament the only alternative consistent with his self-respect and the dignity of Parliament was to appeal to the country.
§ MR. TREVELYAN (Yorkshire, W.R., Elland)
said he did not know whether the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister intended to reply, but as he had been challenged with regard to his statement as to obstruction of the Liberal Members it was to be hoped he would give some instance where that obstruction had occurred, because the impression was that all the obstruction had come from the Unionist benches, and that it had been organised by the Government Whips. Everyone would admit that there might, be occasions when Government was bound to get 102 certain business through the House by a certain date; whether that was the position at present he did not intend to discuss, but it appeared to him that the right hon. Gentleman always adopted the short and lazy way instead of the more legitimate and difficult way which a Prime Minister ought to adopt. There were two alternatives, the expedient of all-night sittings or the other expedient, and he was more in favour of the Leader of the House being always in his place so that he might exercise his judgment and where, in his opinion, there was a prolonged and idle discussion going on, propose the closure. He should not propose such a closure as that set down in this Resolution, which did not discriminate between those discussions which were of no value and those which were of public importance. The hon. Member for North Islington had said that the result of this closure Motion being accepted would be to enable the House to get through certain routine business. The routine business was the discussion of the Army scheme. The right hon. Gentleman had said earlier in the day that there were precedents for the quick discussion of the Army Votes A and 1. That might be so, but was there any precedent for an Army scheme like that before the House being forced through in this way? It was true that the right, hon. Gentleman had said he would give time afterwards for discussion on the Army question, but what he was asking the House to do was to consent to the scheme first and to discuss it afterwards, which was analagous to executing the man first and trying him afterwards. He appealed to those eighty Members of the House who were retiring at the end of this Parliament, who might say to themselves, "What does it matter to us? We shall not be closured," to pause before giving a vote on this question, which was likely to change the whole procedure of the House, and think once more of the rights and privileges of the House they were so soon to leave.
§ MR. GEORGE WHITE (Norfolk, N. W.)
said he intervened in the debate with some diffidence, he having only been a Member of one Parliament, but rather than lay himself open to the charge 103 of remaining silent at such a crisis he would occupy the time of the House for a few moments. When he heard the hon. Member for Oldham read the Resolution they were now discussing, on the previous evening, he asked himself whether this House had any inherent rights at all? All representative assemblies from parish councils upwards had some rights either in themselves as a body or in their chairman. In the course of his thirty years experience of local representative bodies he had on more than one occasion felt it his duty as chairman to refuse to put motions which he knew were approved by the majority because they interfered with statutory or other rights. But what was the position in the House of Commons? The Prime Minister seemed able to shorten the duration of the session to any extent he pleased, and in the shortened session to curtail the liberties of debate to whatever extent he could get a servile majority to sanction. There was practically no protection for the minority. They had certain supposed rights, some inherent in the House itself and others vested in Mr. Speaker, and in times past Mr. Speaker used often to be called upon to protect the liberties of the House. He could not express in Parliamentary language his opinion of the gravity of the present situation. If he called the Prime Minister a traitor to the country and the constitutional rights of this House he would probably be called to order.
§ MR. GEORGE WHITE
said he had found a passage in a history of the English people by a well-known historian, which so exactly described the present position that he would venture to read it. The writer, in describing the position of impotence in which a democratic representative Assembly might find itself, said—Even now a Minister might avail himself of the temper of a Parliament elected in a moment of panic, and, though the nation returned to its senses, might simply by refusing to appeal to the country govern in defiance of its will. Such a course would be technically legal, but such a Minister would be none the less a criminal.Those words were written by John Richard Green. It was difficult to find in 104 history a parallel to the position of the Party opposite. In his early political life Unionists used to boast of being the great Constitutional Party, but he ventured to say that for generations past no Party had done so much to wreck the constitution of the country as the present Government under the leadership of the Prime Minister, who, now that his end seemed to be near, was aiming another blow at the liberties of Parliament as though he would bury himself in the ruins. Samson, with sight destroyed, pulling the idol temple about his ears, was a noble object as compared with the Prime Minister at the present moment. Blindly the right hon. Gentleman rushed on to his fate, each step apparently bringing greater disaster than the last upon the usages and constitution of the House. Whom the gods destroyed they first made mad! It might be thought that for a young Member of the House he used strong language, but he felt compelled to do so because of the crisis in which they found themselves. He had been only five years in Parliament, but all his life he had taken a deep interest in politics. Until he entered Parliament, and for some time afterwards, he looked upon the Prime Minister as a gentleman of consummate ability and the highest honour, who would hold the traditions of the House in the greatest reverence, and be prepared to protect them to the utmost extent. But as year by year passed away that beautiful vision had declined, until now only a very small shadow of it remained. Members were bound to ask themselves where this course of procedure would stop. Each session placed an additional curb on the liberties of the House, and there was nothing to prevent still further encroachments. Whatever might be necessary, in his judgment, to get through the business he chose to put forward the Prime Minister would force upon the House. No doubt as Leader of the House the right hon. Gentleman was entitled to have the disposal of tie Parliamentary time largely in his hands, but surely there were other ways of transacting business than by constantly curtailing the liberties of the House of Commons. If they went on at the present rate it would soon be an absolute 105 farce to call the House of Commons a representative Assembly at all.
It was consummate mockery to say that this Resolution was moved in the interests of public business. The fact was that the Prime Minister had determined at all hazards to hold on to office, and two things were necessary to enable him to do it. The first was to hide a great deal of the mismanagement, which none would dispute, in connection with the great public services, the Estimates for which were to come under discussion. These were matters which ought to have the fullest discussion, and if they did have the fullest discussion they would certainly very seriously damage the reputation of the Ministry. Therefore full criticism must be avoided at all hazards. A second thing which the Prime Minister must achieve was to get his followers to the House in order to help him in the division lobby. It was necessary to maintain a watch on the followers of the right hon. Gentleman which it seemed impossible for his gallant Whips to attain, and, therefore, they had decided to appoint the times at which divisions would be taken. The times would be duly notified to the Government supporters, and there would be no opportunity of taking divisions other than at those particular times. He knew that that suited hon. Gentlemen opposite, but it was not consistent with the liberties and privileges of the House. It did not suit them to have full discussion upon vastly important questions of policy, and the details of the Estimates. In order to accomplish this double purpose the House was humiliated by having submitted to it the proposition which they were now discussing. It would not be consonant with his position in that House to make any appeal to the Prime Minister at that stage of the discussion, but surely there must be some Members opposite who regarded the liberties and privileges of the House of Commons as of more value than mere allegiance to Party. Their first concern should be freedom in representative institutions, and he regarded that as the very life of the House of Commons. If this method were continued he was bound to say that they might be driven, as they had been driven before, to meet brute force by brute force, cries [MINISTERIAL cries of "Oh, Oh!"] He 106 thought they would be unworthy of the name of public representatives if they parted without a most vigorous struggle with their birthright, and if they allowed themselves to be overridden by a majority which paid no regard to the liberties and traditions of the House of Commons.
§ SIR BRAMPTON GURDON (Norfolk, N.)
said he could not help thinking that if the First Lord of the Treasury had been a little more conciliatory he would have got his Estimates through in good time. In the debate the other day his hon. friend below the gangway asked a question with regard to the, Vote of £10,000 for deferred pay, and he asked whether it was not possible to estimate the amount exactly. If the Secretary of State for War had given a satisfactory explanation he had no doubt that his hon. friend would have withdrawn his Motion and the Vote would have been passed before 7.30; but some hon. Members on the opposite side were, put up to talk the debate out. He could not understand why it was necessary to propose a Supplementary Estimate for deferred pay. He had asked the opinion of some military officers and they had told him that in their opinion it was quite possible to estimate the amount required to within one single penny. They were now engaged wasting the best part of a day considering how they could best expedite business. If the Prime Minister had made an appeal to them and told them that these Votes must be passed before March 31st, in order to comply with the law, he had no doubt that he would have got them through; or he might have suspended the twelve o'clock rule for one or two nights. The present mode of dealing with the Estimates was a most unfortunate one. Hon. Members were allowed to go on talking time after time, and he had often wondered why the Minister in charge did not move the closure. Certain matters were discussed ad nauseam and other Votes were never discussed at all. He trusted that such a Motion as this would never again be made in the House of Commons.
§ MR. LLOYD-GEORGE
thought that at any rate the Prime Minister might have replied to the speeches which had been made on the opposite side of the 107 House on this Amendment. An Amendment had been made by the Leader of the Irish Party, and he thought it was entitled to some reply. What was the right hon. Gentleman's proposition? He had made a proposal which he acknowledged himself to be absolutely unprecedented. He thought he was right in saying that before such a revolutionary change was made there ought at any rate to be some extraordinary reasons of emergency. What did the Prime Minister say? He did not say it was a question of Parliament not having been summoned earlier. Nothing of the sort. The fact was that the Prime Minister had got into the habit of first of all blundering into a certain position and then calling it a Parliamentary emergency. He did not think the right hon. Gentleman was entitled to say that. It was all very well for him to say that he was prepared to apologise and stand in the white sheet of repentance, but that was not the point. Those blunders ended in fixing upon the procedure of the House what he was afraid might become a permanent restriction upon the liberty and freedom of Parliamentary debate. That was an abdication of the right hon. Gentleman's position. The right hon. Gentleman was asked in the course of the debate whether he brought a charge of obstruction against Members of the House. He was asked that because there was no other justification for so complete a reversal of the practice of the House with reference to Supply. He did not say in his speech that there had been obstruction, but in reply to an interjection he said there had. When was the obstruction? He had listened to the debates on Supply, and he ventured to say that there had been nothing in the nature of outrageous prolongation of any debate. Would the Prime Minister point to a single debate which he could so characterise, except one. It was a debate which commenced in the afternoon and the Opposition were prepared to take a division upon it at half-past seven. It referred to a small matter. There was no particular grievance they wished to raise upon it. It was a matter of £10,000 for deferred pay, and there was a Motion to reduce it by £100. Hon. Members on the other side of the House deliberately got up one after another to prevent a division being taken, 108 and time was wasted up to half-past seven, and afterwards the whole of the time from nine to ten o'clock. That was deliberate obstruction, but it was not conducted by Members on his side of the House. This was done by the right hon. Gentleman's own Parliamentary supporters. Was it fair, when there was obstruction on his own side of the House for the purpose of keeping him in office, that their liberties of discussion and criticism should be restricted in this wholesale fashion? But that was not the whole story. The Prime Minister delivered a speech on the night referred to. The right hon. Gentleman's attention having been called to this deliberate wasting of the time of the House, he, though responsible for getting through the business of the House, encouraged it, defended it, and invited it. He said it was perfectly justifiable and practically said, "I hope the same thing will happen again." Could the right hon. Gentleman give a single case where there had been obstruction on the Opposition side of the House? When a Parliamentary offence of that character was charged against the whole of the Opposition, the least that the accuser could do was to give particulars of the charge. The right hon. Gentleman knew perfectly well that the complaint against the Opposition was not that they had prolonged debate, but that they had been too anxious to take divisions. That was true, but that was a very different thing from charging them with obstruction.
Last year before March 15th they had fourteen days debate in Supply; this year they had had seven days up to the present, and yet the right hon. Gentleman came down with this Motion. The real reason, and the right hon. Gentleman knew it perfectly well, was that he dare not summon Parliament before. If it had been summoned one week earlier it would have served the purpose. They would have had three or four days extra discussion, but because the Parliamentary machine was ineffective they must criticise the Estimates less. The Parliamentary majority had become incapable of fulfilling their functions, and therefore they were to have less criticism. Since 1894 the Estimates had been increased by £50,000,000, and the Army Estimates, which were now to be closured, had been 109 almost doubled. The motto of the Prime Minister was that "the more you increase expenditure, the less you ought to criticise it." If hon. Members would look at the Motions introduced by the Prime Minister during recent years they would discover that the increase in expenditure had just kept pace with the decrease in facilities for debate. The right hon. Gentleman knew perfectly well that the Army Estimates this year were totally different from those of former years. His hon. friend the Member for the Northwich Division had referred to the Army scandals revealed by the Auditor-General. When were they going to discuss these? He heard the Secretary of State for War pledge his honour and his position that there were going to be very considerable reductions in the Army Estimates. The right hon. Gentleman said that he would not stand at the Table again if this reduction was not given effect to, for he was not going to outstay his welcome. Where were the considerable reductions? There was an increase of hundreds of thousands of pounds, and Parliament was not going to be allowed to discuss it, except for a few hours. There never was a case in which they ought to have more discussion, and that was the reason why the Prime Minister was going to give them less.
Why was this restriction of debate being imposed? It was because the Prime Minister had not the confidence of his supporters to the extent that he could induce them to give him constant support. The Government were never tried of saying that the Empire depended upon their remaining in office. If that was so, how was it that the great Imperialists could not come down and support the existence of a Ministry on whom the fate of the Empire depended? It was because they did not believe it. The Prime Minister was very adroit in getting out of difficulties. He ought to be, for no man had provided himself with greater practice. But, after all, it did not prove his skill as a Leader of the House. One of the worst types of business men was the man who was the most skilful in preventing insolvency from drifting into bankruptcy. He was always fertile in resources when that stage was reached, but what puzzled any one in contemplating a man of that 110 kind was: Why was this fertility of resource not utilised to prevent him from arriving at that stage? In these Parliamentary tangles the Prime Minister never considered beforehand what he ought to consider—namely, what was the fair amount of time to be apportioned for the discussion of these questions. What the right hon. Gentleman did consider, however, was the amount of discussion that his supporters would stand. The right hon. Gentleman forgot not only that he was the Leader of a Party, but also that he was Leader of the House. He was establishing precedents which were dangerous; he was dealing with a purely temporary and Party difficulty by enforcing a permanent restriction of debate. The Prime Minister did not represent the majority in the House, and knew it very well. His supporters supported him not because they trusted him, but because they disliked each other. The right hon. Gentleman was a kind of buffer State; they preserved his sovereign independence because each wanted to prevent the other from annexing him. Point by point the Prime Minister had actually destroyed the liberty and the freedom of the House, and he had set precedents that could not be followed without materially impairing debate. The absence of great and independent Parliamentarians like the right hon. Member for West Bristol and the right hon. Member for West Birmingham was a serious thing, for they might have been able to give guidance and to tell the right hon. Gentleman that the time had come when these things should come to an end. The Prime Minister was defending a Ministry from which he had lost every distinguished colleague. He was intrenched behind a rampart of fallen comrades. It might be that all these colleagues of the right hon. Gentleman had resigned for different reasons, probably for opposing reasons, but they had all this one impulse in common—and it was an honourable one—they were unable to follow the Prime Minister in staking the interests of the country on the Parliamentary gaming-table in order to wait and see whether something was going to turn up to retrieve the broken fortunes of the Ministry. The country was paying a high price for the Prime 111 Minister's position. One liberty after another in Parliament was disappearing just to save the Ministry for a few more months; one high tradition after another of public life which constituted the glory of British statesmen had gone. [MINISTERIAL cries of "Oh, oh!"] The expenditure of the country had enormously increased; there was a corrupt bargain with the brewers [MINISTERIAL cries of "Oh, oh!" and "Question!"] to buy a few more months of respite, and the country was paying a high price for the dregs of the right hon. Gentleman's Premiership.
§ MAJOR SEELY (Isle of Wight)
who spoke amid constant interruption, said that the Prime Minister had told them that morning that he would endeavour to give the House time to discuss the Army
§ Estimates. The First Lord proposed to take the Consolidated Fund Bill on March 23rd, but Vote 1 of the Army Estimates was not to be taken till March 28th, and therefore it could not be put into the Bill. It had nothing to do with complying with the law.
§ And, it being half-past Seven of the clock, Mr. SPEAKER proceeded to interrupt the business.
§ Whereupon Mr. A. J. BALFOUR rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 249; Noes, 213. (Division List No. 52.)115
|Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel||Clive, Captain Percy A.||Grenfell William Henry|
|Allhusen, Augustus Henry Eden||Coates, Edward Feetham||Gretton, John|
|Allsopp, Hon. George||Cochrane, Hn. Thos. H. A. E.||Greville, Hon. Ronald|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Cohen, Benjamin Louis||Guthrie, Walter Murray|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Collings, Rt. Hon. Jesse||Hain, Edward|
|Arnold-Forster, Rt. Hn. H. O.||Colomb, Rt. Hn. Sir John C. R.||Hambro, Charles Eric|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Compton, Lord Alwyne||Hamilton. Rt. Hn Lord G (Midd'x|
|Aubrey-Fletcher, Rt. Hn. Sir H.||Cook, Sir Frederick Lucas||Hamilton, Marq of (L'nd'nderry|
|Bagot, Capt. J. FitzRoy||Craig, Chas. Curtis (Antrim, S.||Hare, Thomas Leigh|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Cross, Herb. Shepherd (Bolton)||Harris. F. Leverton (Tynem'th|
|Bain, Colonel James Robert||Crossley, Rt. Hon. Sir Savile||Haslum, Sir Alfred S.|
|Baird, John George Alexander||Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Hay, Hon. Claude George|
|Balcarres, Lord||Cust, Henry John C.||Heath, A. Howard (Hanley)|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manch'r||Dalkeith, Earl of||Heath, Sir J. (Staffords. N.W.|
|Balfour. Rt. Hn Gerald W (Leeds||Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Heaton, John Henniker|
|Balfour, Kenneth R. (Chirstch.||Davenport, William Bromley||Holder, Augustus|
|Banner, John S. Harmood-||Davies, Sir H. D. (Chatham)||Henderson, Sir A. (Stafford. W|
|Bartley, Sir George C. T.||Denny, Colonel||Hermon-Hodge, Sir Robert T.|
|Bathurst, Hn. Allen Benjamin||Dewar, Sir T. R. (Tower Hamlets||Hickman, Sir Alfred|
|Beach. Rt. Hn. Sir Michael Hicks||Dickson, Charles Scott||Hoare, Sir Samuel|
|Beckett, Ernest William||Disraeli, Conings by Ralph||Hope, J. F. (Sheffield, Brightside|
|Bhownaggree, Sir M. M.||Dixon-Hartland, Sir F. Dixon||Hornby. Sir William Henry|
|Bignold, Sir Arthur||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers||Hoult, Joseph|
|Bigwood, James||Doxford, Sir William Theodore||Hozier, Hon. James Henry C.|
|Bill, Charles||Dyke. Rt. Hn. Sir Wm. Hart||Hudson, George Bickersteth|
|Blundell, Colonel Henry||Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton||Hunt, Rowland|
|Bond, Edward||Fardell, Sir T. George||Hutton, John(Yorks, N. R.)|
|Boscawen, Arthur Griffith||Fellowes, Hn. Ailwyn Edward||Jameson, Major J. Eustace|
|Boulnois, Edmund||Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J (Manc'r||Jebb, Sir Richard Claverhouse|
|Bousfield, William Robert||Finlay, Sir R. B. (Inv 'rn' ss B'ghs||Jessel, Captain Herbert Merton|
|Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Fisher, William Hayes||Kennaway, Rt. Hn. Sir John H|
|Bull, William James||Fitzroy, Hn. Edw. Algernon||Kenyon, Hn. Geo. T. (Denbigh|
|Burdett-Coutts, W.||Flannery, Sir Fortescue||Kenyon-Slaney, Rt. Hn. Col. W|
|Butcher, John George||Flower, Sir Ernest||Keswick, William|
|Campbell, Rt. Hn. J. A (Glasgow||Forster, Henry William||Kimber, Sir Henry|
|Campbell, J. H. M. (Dublin Univ.||Foster, P. S. (Warwick, S. W.)||King, Sir Henry Seymour|
|Carson, Rt. Hn. Sir Edw. H.||Gardner, Ernest||Knowles, Sir Lees|
|Cavendish, V. C. W. (Derbyshire||Godson, Sir Augustus Fredk.||Lambton, Hon. Frederick W.|
|Cayzer, Sir Charles William||Gore, Hon. S. F. Ormsby-||Laurie, Lieut.- General|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Gorst, Rt. Hon. Sir J, Eldon||Law, Andrew Bonar (Glasgow)|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh(Greenwich)||Graham, Henry Robert||Lawrence, Sir Joseph (monm'th|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn J. A (Worc.||Green, Walford D (Wednesbury||Lawrence, Win. F. (Liverpool)|
|Chapman, Edward||Greene, W. Raymond, (Cambs||Lawson, Hn H. L. W. (Mile End|
|Lawson, John Grant (Yorks N. R||Pemberton, John S. G.||Smith, Hn. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Lee, Arthur H. (Hants, Fareham||Percy, Earl||Spear, John Ward|
|Lees, Sir Elliott (Birkenhead)||Pierpoint, Robert||Spencer, Sir E. (W. Bromwich|
|Legge, Col. Hon. Heneage||Pilkington, Colonel Richard||Stanley, Rt. Hn. Lord (Lanes.)|
|Leveson-Gower, Frederick N. S||Platt-Higgins, Frederick||Stock, James Henry|
|Llewellyn, Evan Henry||Plummer, Sir Walter R.||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Stroyan, John|
|Long, Col. Chas. W. (Evesham||Pretyman, Ernest George||Strutt, Hon. Charles Hedley|
|Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Pryce-Jones, Lt. Col. Edward||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Lowe, Francis William||Purvis, Robert||Talbot, Rt. Hn. J. G (Oxf' d Univ.|
|Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Pym, C. Guy||Taylor, Austin (East Toxteth)|
|Lucas, Col. Francis (Lowestoft||Quilter, Sir Cuthbert||Thorburn, Sir Walter|
|Lucas, Reginald J. (Portsm'th||Randles, John S.||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred||Rankin, Sir James||Tomlinson, Sir Win. Edw. M.|
|Macdona, John Cumming||Rasch, Sir Frederic Carne||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|MacIver, David (Liverpool)||Ratcliff, R. F.||Tuff, Charles|
|Maconochie, A. W.||Reed, Sir E. James (Cardiff)||Turnour, Viscount|
|M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Reid, James (Greenock)||Vincent, Col Sir C. E. H. (Sheffield|
|M'Calmont, Colonel James||Renshaw, Sir Charles Bine||Walker, Col. William Hall|
|Majendie, James A. H.||Renwick, George||Walrond, Rt. Hn. Sir William H.|
|Malcolm, Ian||Ridley, S. Forde||Wanklyn, James Leslie|
|Marks, Harry Hananel||Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield)||Welby, Lt.-Col. A. C. E (Taunton)|
|Martin, Richard Biddulph||Robertson, Herbert (Hackney)||Welby, Sir Chas. G. E. (Notts.|
|Massey-Mainwaring, Hn. W. F.||Rolleston, Sir John F. L.||Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon|
|Maxwell, Rt. Hn Sir H. E (Wigt'n||Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye||Wharton, Rt. Hon. John Lloyd|
|Maxwell, W. J. H (Dumfriesshire||Round, Rt. Hon. James||Whiteley, H. (Ashton and Lyne|
|Milner, Rt. Hn. Sir Frederick G.||Royds, Clement Molyneux||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Molesworth, Sir Lewis||Rutherford, John (Lancashire||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)|
|Montagu, Hn. J. Scott (Hants||Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Moon, Edward Robert Pacy||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford||Wilson, A. Stanley(York, E. R.|
|Morgan. D. J. (Walthamstow)||Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander||Wilson, John (Glasgow|
|Morpeth, Viscount||Samuel. Sir H. S. (Limehouse)||Wilson-Todd, Sir W. H. (Yorks.)|
|Morrell, George Herbert||Sandys, Lieut. -Col. Thos. Myles||Wodehouse, Rt. Hn. E. R. (Bath|
|Morrison, James Archibald||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)||Worsley-Taylor, Henry Wilson|
|Morton, Arthur H. Aylmer||Seton-Karr, Sir Henry||Wortley, Rt. Hn. C. B. Stuart|
|Mount, William Arthur||Sharpe, William Edward T.||Wylie, Alexander|
|Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.||Sinclair, Louis (Romford)||Yerburgh, Robert Armstrong|
|Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)||Skewes-Cox, Thomas|
|Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)||Sloan, Thomas Henry||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Sir|
|Nicholson, William Graham||Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, East)||Alexander Acland-Hood and|
|Palmer, Sir Walter (Salisbury)||Simth, H. C (North'mb. Tyneside||Viscount Valentia.|
|Parkes, Ebenezer||Smith, Rt. Hn. J. P. (Lanarks)|
|Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.||Caldwell, James||Ellis, John Edward (Notts.)|
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Cameron, Robert||Emmott, Alfred|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Campbell, John (Armagh, S.)||Esmonde, Sir Thomas|
|Allen, Charles P.||Cawley, Frederick||Evans, Sir F. H. (Maidstone)|
|Ambrose, Robert||Channing, Francis Allston||Eve, Harry Trelawney|
|Asquith, Rt. Hn. Herbert Henry||Cheetham, John Frederick||Fenwick, Charles|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Churchill, Winston Spencer||Ferguson, R. C. Munro (Leith)|
|Barlow, John Emmott||Clancy, John Joseph||Findlay, Alex. (Lanark, N. E.|
|Barran, Rowland Hirst||Condon, Thomas Joseph||Flavin, Michael Joseph|
|Beaumont, Wentworth C. B.||Craig, Robert Hunter (Lanark||Flynn, James Christopher|
|Bell, Richard||Crean, Eugene||Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)|
|Benn, John Williams||Cremer, William Randal||Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry|
|Black, Alexander William||Crombie, John William||Freeman-Thomas, Captain F.|
|Blake, Edward||Crooks, William||Fuller, J. M. F.|
|Boland, John||Dalziel, James Henry||Furness, Sir Christopher|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Delany, William||Goddard, Daniel Ford|
|Brand, Hon. Arthur G.||Devlin, Chas. Ramsay (Galway||Griffith, Ellis J.|
|Brigg, John||Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.||Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton|
|Bright, Allan Heywood||Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.|
|Broadhurst, Henry||Doogan, P. C.||Harmsworth, R. Leicester|
|Brown, George M. (Edinburgh)||Douglas, Chas. M. (Lanark)||Harwood, George|
|Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson||Duffy, William J.||Hayden, John Patrick|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Duncan, J. Hastings||Hayter, Rt. Hn. Sir Arthur D.|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Dunn, Sir William||Helme, Norval Watson|
|Burke, E. Haviland||Edwards, Frank||Hemphill, Rt. Hon. Charles H.|
|Burns, John||Elibank, Master of||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)|
|Buxton, Sydney Charles||Ellice, Capt. E. C (S Andrw's Bghs||Higham, John Sharpe|
|Holland, Sir William Henry||Nannetti, Joseph P.||Sheehy, David|
|Horniman, Frederick John||Newnes, Sir George||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley)||Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South)||Sinclair, John (Forfarshire)|
|Jacoby, James Alfred||Norman, Henry||Slack, John Bamford|
|Johnson, John||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Smith, Samuel (Flint)|
|Joicey, Sir James||Nussey, Thomas Willans||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Jones, David Brynmor (Swansea||O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)||Soares, Ernest J.|
|Jones, Leif (Appleby)||O'Brien, K. (Tipperary, Mid.)||Spencer, Rt Hn. C. R. (Northants|
|Jones, Wm. (Carnarvonshire)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Stanhope, Hon. Philip James|
|Jordan, Jeremiah||O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Joyce, Michael||O'Connor, Jas. (Wicklow, W.)||Sullivan, Donal|
|Kearley, Hudson E.||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Kennedy, Vincent P. (Cavan, W||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Tennant, Harold John|
|Kilbride, Denis||O'Dowd, John||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)|
|Kitson, Sir James||O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, N.)||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E)|
|Labouchere, Henry||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.||Thomson, F. W. (York, W. R.)|
|Lambert, George||O'Malley, William||Tillett, Louis John|
|Lamont, Norman||O'Mara, James||Tomkinson, James|
|Langley, Batty||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Toulmin, George|
|Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, W.)||Parrott, William||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cornwall||Paulton, James Mellor||Ure, Alexander|
|Layland-Barratt, Francis||Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)||Waldron, Laurence Ambrose|
|Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Accrington||Perks, Robert William||Wallace, Robert|
|Leigh, Sir Joseph||Pirie, Duncan V.||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Levy, Maurice||Priestley, Arthur||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Lewis, John Herbert||Reckitt, Harold James||Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan)|
|Lloyd-George, David||Reddy, M.||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney|
|Lough, Thomas||Redmond, John E. (Waterford||White, George (Norfolk)|
|Lundon, W.||Reid, Sir R. Threshie (Dumfries||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Lyell, Charles Henry||Richards, Thos. (W. Monm'th)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Rickett, J. Compton||Whiteley, George (York, W. R.|
|MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|M'Arthur, William (Cornwall)||Robertson, Edmund (Dundee)||Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)|
|M'Crae, George||Robson, William Snowdon||Wills, Arthur Walters (N Dorset|
|M'Hugh, Patrick A.||Roche, John||Wilson, Fred. W. (Norfolk, Mid.|
|M'Kean, John||Roe, Sir Thomas||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.)|
|M'Kenna, Reginald||Rose, Carles Day||Woodhouse, Sir J. T (Huddersf'd|
|M'Laren, Sir Charles Benjamin||Runciman, Walter||Young, Samuel|
|Markham, Arthur Basil||Russell, T. W.||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Mitchell, Edw. (Fermanagh, N.||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland|
|Mooney, John J.||Schwann, Charles E.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr.|
|Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen||Scott, Chas. Prestwich (Leigh)||Herbert Gladstone and|
|Morley, Rt. Hn. J. (Montrose)||Seely, Maj J. E. B. (Isle of Wight||Mr. Causton.|
|Moulton, John Fletcher||Shackleton, David James|
|Murphy, John||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
§ Question put accordingly, "That the words 'in order to' stand part of the Question."116
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 251; Noes, 211. (Division List No. 53.)119
|Agnew, Sir Andrew Noel||Bathurst, Hn. Allen Benjamin||Carson, Rt. Hon, Sir Edw. H.|
|Allhusen, Augustus Henry Eden||Beach, Rt. Hn Sir Michael Hicks||Cavendish, Y. C. W. (Derbyshire|
|Allsopp, Hon. George||Beckett, Ernest William||Cayzer, Sir Charles William|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Bhownaggree, Sir M. M.||Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Bignold, Sir Arthur||Cecil, Lord Hugh (Greenwich)|
|Arnold-Forster, Rt. Hn. Hugh O||Bigwood, James||Chamberlain. Rt. Hn J. A (Worc.|
|Atkinson, Rt. Hon. John||Bill, Charles||Chapman, Edward|
|Auhrey-Fletcher, Rt. Hn. Sir H||Blundell, Colonel Henry||Clive, Captain Percy A.|
|Bagot, Capt. Josceline FitzRoy||Bond, Edward||Coates, Edward Feetham|
|Bailey, James (Walworth)||Boscawen, Arthur Griffith||Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.|
|Bain, Colonel James Robert||Boulnois, Edmund||Cohen, Benjamin Louis|
|Baird, John George Alexander||Bousfield, William Robert||Ceilings, Rt. Hon. Jesse|
|Balcarres, Lord||Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John||Colomb, Rt Hn. Sir John C. R.|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (Manch'r.)||Bull, William James||Compton, Lord Alwyne|
|Balfour, Rt Hn Gerald W (Leeds)||Burdett-Coutts, W.||Cook, Sir Frederick Lucas|
|Balfour, Kenneth R. (Christen)||Butcher, John George||Craig, Chas. Curtis (Antrim, S.|
|Banner, John S. Harmood-||Campbell, Rt Hn. J A. (Glasgow||Cross, Herb. Shepherd (Bolton)|
|Bartley, Sir George C. T.||Campbell, J. H. M. (Dublin Univ.||Crossley, Rt. Hon. Sir Savile|
|Cubitt, Hon. Henry||Keswick, William||Ratcliff, R. F.|
|Cust, Henry John C.||Kimber, Sir Henry||Reed, Sir Edw. James (Cardiff)|
|Dalkeith, Earl of||King, Sir Henry Seymour||Reid, James (Greenock)|
|Dalrymple, Sir Charles||Knowles, Sir Lees||Renshaw, Sir Charles Bine|
|Davenport, William Bromley-||Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm||Renwick, George|
|Davies, Sir H. D. (Chatham)||Laurie, Lieut.-General||Ridley, S. Forde|
|Denny, Colonel||Law, Andrew Bonar (Glasgow||Roberts, Samuel (Sheffield)|
|Dewar, Sir T R (Tower Hamlets)||Lawrence, Sir J. (Monm'th)||Roberston, Herbert (Hackney)|
|Dickson, Charles Scott||Lawrence, Win. F. (Liverpool)||Rolleston, Sir John F. L.|
|Disraeli, Coningsby Ralph||Lawson, Hn. H. L. W. (Mile End||Rollit, Sir Albert Kaye|
|Diekson-Hartland, Sir F. Dixon||Lawson, J. Grant (Yorks. N. R||Ropner, Colonel Sir Robert|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers||Lee, A. H. (Hants, Fareham)||Round, Rt. Hon. James|
|Doxford, Sir William Theodore||Lees, Sir Elliott (Birkenhead)||Royds, Clement Molyneux|
|Dyke, Rt. Hn. Sir William Hart||Legge, Col. Hn. Heneage||Rutherford, John (Lancashire)|
|Egerton, Hon. A. de Tatton||Leveson-Gower, Frederick N. S.||Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)|
|Fardell, Sir T. George||Llewellyn, Evan Henry||Sackville, Col. S. G. Stopford|
|Fellowes, Hn. Ailwyn Edward||Loder, Gerald Walter Erskine||Sadler, Col. Samuel Alexander|
|Fergusson, Rt. Hn. Sir J (Manc'r||Long, Col Chas. W. (Evesham)||Samuel, Sir H. S. (Limehouse)|
|Finlay, Sir R. B. (Inv'rn'ss B'ghs||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Sandys, Lieut. -C'ol. T. Myles|
|Fisher, William Hayes||Lowe, Francis William||Seton-Karr, Sir Henry|
|Fitzroy, Hn. Edward Algernon||Loyd, Archie Kirkman||Sharpe, William Edward T.|
|Flannery, Sir Fortescue||Lucas, Col Francis (Lowestoft)||Sinclair, Louis (Romford)|
|Flower, Sir Ernest||Lucas, R. J. (Portsmouth)||Skewes-Cox, Thomas|
|Forster, Henry William||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred||Sloan, Thomas Henry|
|Foster, P. S. (Warwick, S. W.)||Macdona, John dimming||Smith, Abel H (Hertford, East)|
|Gardner, Ernest||MacIver, David (Liverpool)||Smith, H. C (North'ml). Tyneside|
|Godson, Sir Augustus Fredk.||Maconochie, A. W.||Smith, Rt Hn. J, Parker (Lanarks|
|Gore, Hon. S. F. Ormsby||M'Arthur, Charles (Liverpool)||Smith, Hn. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Gorst. Rt. Hon. Sir John Eldon||M'Calmont, Colonel James||Spear, John Ward|
|Graham, Henry Robert||Majendie, James A. H.||Spencer, Sir E. (W. Bromwich|
|Green, Waiford D (Wednesbury||Malcolm, Ian||Stanley, Hn. Arthur (Ormskirk|
|Greene, W. Raymond-(Cambs||Marks, Harry Hananel||Stanley, Rt. Hn. Lord (Lanes.)|
|Grenfell, William Henry||Martin, Richard Biddulph||Stock, James Henry|
|Gretton, John||Massey-Mainwaring, Hn. W. F.||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Greville, Hon. Ronald||Maxwell, Rt Hn Sir H. E (Wigt'n||Stroyan, John|
|Guthrie, Walter Murray||Maxwell. W. J. H. (Dumfriessh'e||Strutt, Hn. Charles Hedley|
|Hain, Edward||Milner. Rt Hn. Sir Frederick G.||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Hall, Edward Marshall||Molesworth, Sir Lewis||Talbot, Rt Hn J G (Oxfd Univ.)|
|Hambro, Charles Eric||Montagu, Hon. J. Scott (Hants||Taylor, Austin (East Toxtoth)|
|Hamilton, Rt Hn Lord G (Midd'x||Moon, Edward Robert Pacy||Thorburn, Sir Walter|
|Hamilton, Marq of (L'nd'nderry)||Morgan, D. J. (Walthamstow||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Hare, Thomas Leigh||Morpeth, Viscount||Tomlinson, Sir Wm. Edw. M.|
|Harris, F. Leverton (Tynem'th)||Morrell, George Herbert||Tritton, Charles Ernest|
|Hasdam, Sir Alfred S.||Morrison, James Archibald||Tuff, Charles|
|Hay, Hon. Claude George||Morton, Arthur H. Aylmer||Tumour, Viscount|
|Heath, Arthur Howard (Hanley||Mount, William Arthur||Vincent, Col Sir C. E. H (Sheffield|
|Heath, Sir Jas. (Staffords, N. W||Mowbray, Sir Robert Gray C.||Walker, Col. William Hall|
|Heaton, John Henniker||Murray, Charles J. (Coventry)||Walrond, Rt Hn. Sir William H|
|Helder, Augustus||Murray, Col. Wyndham (Bath)||Wanklyn, James Leslie|
|Henderson. Sir A. (Stafford, W.)||Nicholson, William Graham||Welby, Lt. -Col A. C. E (Taunton)|
|Hermon-Hodge, Sir Robert T.||Palmer, Sir Walter (Salisbury)||Welby, Sir Chas. G. E. (Notts)|
|Hickman, Sir Alfred||Parkes, Ebcnezer||Wentworth, Bruce C. Vernon|
|Hoare, Sir Samuel||Pemberton, John S. G.||Wharton, Rt. Hn. John Lloyd|
|Hope, J. F. (Sheffield, Brightside||Percy, Earl||Whiteley, H. (Ashton und Lyne|
|Hornby, Sir William Henry||Pierpoint, Robert||Whitmore, Charles Algernon|
|Hoult, Joseph||Pilkington, Colonel Richard||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset)|
|Hozier, Hn. James Henry Cecil||Platt-Higgins, Frederick||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Hudson, George Bickersteth||Plummer, Sir Walter R.||Wilson, John (Glasgow)|
|Hunt, Rowland||Powell, Sir Francis Sharp||Wilson-Todd, Sir W. H. (Yorks.|
|Hutton, John (Yorks. N. R.)||Pretyman, Ernest George||Wodehouse, Rt Hn. E. R. (Bath|
|Jameson, Major J. Eustace||Pryce-Jones, Lt. -Col. Edward||Worsley-Taylor, Henry Wilson|
|Jebb, Sir Richard Claverhouse||Purvis, Robert||Wortley, Rt. Hn. C. B. Stuart|
|Jeffreys, Rt. Hon. Arthur Fred.||Pym, C. Guy||Wylie, Alexander|
|Jessel, Capt. Herbert Merton||Quilter, Sir Cuthbert|
|Kennaway, Rt. Hn. Sir John H.||Randies, John S.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Sir|
|Kenyon, Hn. Geo. T. Denbigh)||Rankin, Sir James||Alexander Acland-Hood and|
|Kenyon-Slaney, Rt. Hn. Col. W.||Rasch, Sir Frederic Carno||Viscount Valentia.|
|Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.||Ambrose, Robert||Barran, Rowland Hirst|
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Asquith. Rt. Hn. Herbert Henry||Beaumont, Wentworth C. B.|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Atherley-Jones, L.||Bell, Richard|
|Allen, Charles P.||Barlow, John Emmott||Benn, John Williams|
|Black, Alexander William||Holland, Sir William Henry||Perks, Robert William|
|Blake, Edward||Horniman, Frederick John||Pirie, Duncan Y.|
|Boland, John||Hutton, Alfred E. (Morley)||Priestley, Arthur|
|Bolton, Thomas Dolling||Jacoby, James Alfred||Reckitt, Harold James|
|Brigg, John||Johnson, John||Reddy, M.|
|Bright, Allan Heywood||Joicey, Sir James||Reid, Sir R. Threshie (Dumfries|
|Broadhurst, Henry||Jones, D. Brynmor (Swansea)||Richards, Thos. (W. Monm'th|
|Brown, G. M. (Edinburgh)||Jones, Leif (Appleby)||Rickett, J. Compton|
|Brunner, Sir John Tomlinson||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire||Roberts, John Bryn (Eifion)|
|Bryce, Rt. Hon. James||Jordan, Jeremiah||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)|
|Buchanan, Thomas Ryburn||Joyce, Michael||Robertson Edmund (Dundee)|
|Burke, E. Haviland||Kearley, Hudson E.||Robson, William Snowdon|
|Burns, John||Kennedy, Vincent P. (Cavan, W||Roche, John|
|Buxton, Sydney Charles||Kilbride, Denis||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Caldwell, James||Kitson, Sir James||Rose, Charles Day|
|Cameron, Robert||Labouchere, Henry||Runciman, Walter|
|Campbell, John (Armagh, S.)||Lambert, George||Russell, T. W.|
|Causton, Richard Knight||Lamont, Norman||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland|
|Cawley, Frederick||Langley, Batty||Schwann, Charles E.|
|Channing, Francis Allston||Law, Hugh Alex (Donegal, W.||Scott, Chas. Prestwich (Leigh)|
|Cheetham, John Frederick||Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cornwall||Seely, Maj. J E. B (Isle of Wight)|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Layland-Barratt, Francis||Shackleton, David James|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Leese, Sir J. F. (Accrington)||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Craig, Robert Hunter (Lanark)||Leigh, Sir Joseph||Sheehy, David|
|Crean, Eugene||Levy, Maurice||Shipman, Dr. John G.|
|Cremer, William Randal||Lewis, John Herbert||Sinclair, John (Forfarshire)|
|Crombie, John William||Lloyd-George, David||Slack, John Bamford|
|Crooks, William||Lough, Thomas||Smith, Samuel (Flint)|
|Dalziel, James Henry||Lundon, W.||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Delany, William||Lyell, Charles Henry||Scares, Ernest J.|
|Devlin, Chas. Ramsay (Galway||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Spencer, Rt Hn C. R. (Northants|
|Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.||MaeNeill, John Gordon Swift||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Sullivan, Donal|
|Doogan, P. C.||M'Arthur, William (Cornwall)||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radeliffe)|
|Douglas, Charles M. (Lanark)||M'Crae, George||Tennant, Harold John|
|Duffy, William J.||M'Hugh, Patrick A.||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.|
|Duncan, J. Hastings||M'Kean, John||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.|
|Dunn, Sir William||M'Kenna, Reginald||Thomson, F. W. (York, W. R.|
|Edwards, Frank||M'Laren, Sir Chas. Benjamin||Tillett, Louis John|
|Elibank, Master of||Markham, Arthur Basil||Tomkinson, James|
|Ellice, Capt E C (S Andrw's Bghs.||Mitchell, Edw. (Fermanagh, N.)||Toulmin, George|
|Ellis, John Edward (Notts.)||Mooney, John J.||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Emmott, Alfred||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen||Ure, Alexander|
|Esmonde, Sir Thomas||Morley, Rt. Hn John (Montrose)||Waldron, Laurence Ambrose|
|Evans, Sir F. H. (Maidstone)||Moulton, John Fletcher||Wallace, Robert|
|Eve, Harry Trelawney||Murphy, John||Walton, Joseph (Barnsley)|
|Fenwick, Charles||Nannetti, Joseph P.||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Ferguson, R. C. Munro (Leith)||Newnes, Sir George||Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan|
|Findlay, Alex. (Lanark, N. E.||Nolan, Joseph (Louth, South||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Norman, Henry||White, George (Norfolk)|
|Flynn, James Christopher||Norton, Capt Cecil William||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Foster, Sir Walter (Derby Co.)||Nussey, Thomas Willans||White, Patrick (Meath, North|
|Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||O'Brien, James F. X. (Cork)||Whiteley, George (York, W. R.|
|Freeman-Thomas, Captain F.||O'Brien, K. (Tipperary Mid.)||Whitley, J. H. (Halifax)|
|Furness, Sir Christopher||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Whittaker, Thomas Palmer|
|Gladstone, Rt Hn. Herbert John||O'Brien, P. J. (Tipperary, N.)||Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)|
|Goddard, Daniel Ford||O'Connor, James (Wicklow, W.||Wills, Arthur Walters (N Dorset|
|Griffith, Ellis J.||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.||Wilson, Fred. W. (Norfolk, Mid.|
|Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid.|
|Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.||O'Dowd, John||Wood, James|
|Harmsworth, R. Leicester||O'Kelly, Conor (Mayo, K.||Woodhouse, Sir J T (Huddersf'd|
|Harwood, George||0'Kelly, Jas. (Roscommon, N.||Young, Samuel|
|Hayden, John Patrick||O'Malley, William||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Hayter, Rt. Hn. Sir Arthur D.||O'Mara, James|
|Helme, Norval Watson||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr|
|Hemphill, Rt. Hn. Charles H.||Parrott, William||John Redmond and Mr.|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Paulton, James Mellor||Churchill.|
|Higham, John Sharpe||Pease, J. A. (Saffron Walden)|
Question put accordingly, and agreed to.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ And, it being after half-past Seven of the clock, the debate stood adjourned.120
§ Debate to be resumed To-morrow