HC Deb 23 March 1905 vol 143 cc1065-72

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn. "—(Sir A. Acland-Hood.)

*SIR CHARLES DILKE (Gloucestershire, Forest of Dean)

said he desired to call attention to the interpretation given, rather unexpectedly but no doubt accurately, to the Closure Resolution under which the business of the House was now being carried on. The hon. Member for Clitheroe gave notice as early as he could., after satisfying himself on the merits of a particular question, to disallow one of the Orders now lying on the Table of the House. No attempt had been made to prevent business of a similar kind being taken under the operation of this rule, and on Monday night, after the adoption of that rule, a Bill was read a second time in the House. That night there was an important Resolution on special exception for overtime, as to which there was very strong opinion amongst Labour Members, but it was now held that this could not be taken. That was a great hardship, because those rules were always specially exempt from the twelve o'clock rule.


said the right hon. Gentleman could not have consulted the hon. Member for Clitheroe before putting the Question. During the afternoon he agreed with the hon. Member for Clitheroe that the matter should be fully discussed and that he should not be placed in a worse position through the operation of this rule. The hon. Member expressed his gratitude and satisfaction at that arrangement.


said that the hon. Member for Clitheroe was aware of his intention to make this statement. It was not a question of one Order, but of the operation of all the Orders, and there was no doubt that different views had been taken on the question.

*MR. SHACKLETON (Lancashire, Clitheroe)

said that what the Home Secretary had stated with reference to the arrangement they arrived at during the afternoon was perfectly true; and he was quite satisfied. But the question was whether the closure rule was intended to strike out a Resolution such as he had put down He agreed with his right hon. friend the Member for the Forest of Dean that this question should be raised.

MR. WHITLEY (Halifax)

asked whether the guillotine Resolution would have the effect of rendering the Parliamentary days in which it operated dies non for the purposes of the forty days on which the rules were to remain on the Table of the House.


This is a question of the construction of a statute upon which I can give no authoritative opinion. These statutes vary considerably in their terms, but in the present case I understand that the forty days mean forty running days including Sundays and other Parliamentary dies non.

MR. ASQUITH (Fifeshire, E.)

said he understood that in consequence of the terms of the Resolution under which the House was at present sitting, none of the notices of Motions on the Paper could be taken.


replied that that was so.


regarded it as very unfortunate that at eleven o'clock, when there still remained an hour of Parliamentary time, the important point raised by his hon. friend the Member for Clitheroe could not be discussed. He understood the Home Secretary to say, however, that there would be an opportunity for discussing the question.


said it was possible that what the hon. Member for Clitheroe desired might be carried out without the intervention of the House. What he had promised was that if that should not prove to be the case the matter should be further considered.

MAJOR SEELY (Isle of Wight)

desired to put a question with regard to the misunderstanding with reference to Vote 1 of the Army. The question was whether it would be possible to arrange that the whole of Monday, April 3rd, should be given to the discussion of Vote 1 of the Army, as was intended by the Prime Minister. The intervention of an important private Bill would apparently deprive hon. Members of a part of the time available for the discussion. He also pointed out that had Vote 1 remained under the closure rule it would not have been possible for any other business to have come between it and the House, as the Rule provided that no other business than that of Supply could be taken at any sitting at which Government business had precedence. It might be that this was unavoidable, but he thought some explanation ought to be given. He might add that no breach of faith was imputed to the Prime Minister on that side of the House, least of all by himself.


thought the House had been under a misconception on two points. If the right hon. Baronet would look not at the particular closure rule under which the House was working, but at the Standing Order governing Supply, he would see that the Motion in question could not in any case come on on a Thursday until after twelve o'clock. The well-known Supply rule stated that "On a day so allotted—"


This is not an allotted day.


said in that case his argument fell to the ground. Then there remained the question regarding the Army Vote. The point raised by the hon. and gallant Gentleman was one that the hon. Gentleman had dealt with rather fully at Question time by Question and Answer. He thought the hon. Member still laboured under the view that he had something to do with the arrangement of private business. He had absolutely no more to do with it than the hon. Gentleman himself, and he was never consulted upon it. He understood that what had occurred was that the important private Bill to which the hon. Gentleman referred was to have been deferred until April 6th, but it appeared that on that date a good many Gentlemen opposite, for a very worthy and agreeable reason, did not desire to be in their places at nine o'clock, and in consequence the day was altered to April 3rd. He hoped that no Member of the House, least of all any Member opposite, would suppose that he could by any action on his part alter what had occurred. He would be glad to be the intermediary to bring the matter before the Chairman of Ways and Means, but unfortunately the right hon. Gentleman was unable to be present. Was the House prepared to adhere to the original date of April 6th? The only desire of the Government was that the Bill should come on at the time most convenient to the House. Members usually grumbled because such Bills were put down on private Members' nights; now they grumbled because the Bill was put down on a Government night. If hon. Members could come to some arrangement agreeable to both sides no one would rejoice more than he.

MR. BLAKE (Longford, S.)

said there was no question as to where the responsibility for arranging private Bill business lay. It had been laid by the House upon the shoulders of the Chairman of Ways and Means, whose duty it was to see that such business was fairly allocated between the different days. But he had also to see that arrangements made under such rules as that now governing the proceedings of the House were duly carried out, and he would doubtless see the impropriety of interfering with any such arrangement. On the other hand, if in order to secure the full day which had been promised to the Army Vote it was necessary to postpone certain festive arrangements, he had no doubt the public spirit of the section of the House concerned would lead them to make such arrangements that public business should be properly dealt with.

MR. KEIR HARDIE (Merthyr Tydfil)

asked whether there was anything to prevent the Motion of his hon. friend being discussed that evening provided the Government and the mover of the Resolution were willing.


said he was sure that the House would be very glad if the hon. Member for Clitheroe were not deprived of his opportunity, but the Order of the 16th March stood in his way. He had no power, nor had the Government any power, to dispense with the Order of the House, which laid it down that no business other than was specifically mentioned should be taken.


desired to call attention to a matter of which he had given the Chief Secretary private notice. Nationalist Members had to complain only too frequently of the infamous system of jury packing in Ireland, but a more flagrant case had never been brought to the public notice than had been perpetrated at Cork to-day. In the Watergrasshill case, out of eighty-one jurors compelled to be present in Court, no less than forty-six were ordered to stand aside by the Crown Prosecutor. That was a most shameful case of jury packing, and he hoped the Chief Secretary would inaugurate his term of office by taking Affective steps to put a stop to this gross and shameful prostitution of justice.


said that though the hon. Member had given him notice of his intention to ask a Question, he had not mentioned what the subject of the Question was to be. He had no information on the subject now raised, and he could hardly make a statement while the question Was sub judice.

MR. FLYNN (Cork, N.)

said the case was sub judice, but the administration of justice was not, and the selection of the jury had nothing whatever to do with the merits of the trial. If the Chief Secretary had no information on the subject, possibly the Attorney-General had.


pointed out that the notice of the hon. Member referred simply to the administration of the law in Ireland, and it was impossible from that to divine what particular case he intended to refer to. He had no information whatever on the point referred to by the hon. Member, but the Crown Prosecutor was acting under his authority, and he was responsible for his action. At the proper time he should be prepared to defend that action if, after full investigation, he approved of it, and hon. Members would have an ample opportunity of discussing it.


Will the right hon. Gentleman endeavour to obtain some information, and give it to me to-morrow?


said that although the hon Member had given him notice of his intention to ask a Question, he had not mentioned what the subject of the Question was to be. He had no information on the subject now raised, and he could hardly make a statement while the question was sub judice. The case would come before the Attorney-General and himself in proper course, and the hon. and gallant Member might rely upon it that if no injustice had been committed he would be prepared to defend the action.


I beg to give notice that I shall raise this question again upon the Motion for Adjournment to-morrow.


Can the right hon. Gentleman give us any information is to when the Bill dealing with the unemployed question, promised in the king's speech, will be introduced?

[No answer was returned.]

Adjourned at twenty-one minutes after Eleven o'clock.