§ Order read, for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment [15th April] to Question [20th March], as amended,—"(1) When a Bill has been a second time it shall stand committed to one of the Standing Committees, unless the House, on Motion to be decided without Amendment or debate, otherwise order, and such a Motion shall not require notice, must be made immediately after the Bill is read a second time, may be made by any Member, and may, though opposed, be decided after the expiration of the time for opposed business. But this Order shall not apply to—(a) Bills for imposing taxes, or Consolidated Fund or Appropriation Bills; or (b) Bills for confirming Provisional Orders. (2) The House may, on Motion made by the Member in charge of a Bill, commit the 781 Bill to a Standing Committee in respect of some of its provisions, and to a Committee of the whole House in respect of other provisions. If such a Motion is opposed, the Speaker, after permitting, if he thinks fit, a brief explanatory statement from the Member who makes and from the Member who opposes the Motion, shall without further debate put the Question thereon."—(Sir H. Campbell-Bannerman.)
Which Amendment was—
In line 10, at the end, to insert the words,—'(c) Bills to create a subordinate legislature in any part of the United Kingdom, (d) Bills to give effect to treaties, conventions, or other international arrangements. (e) Bills to sanction the cession of any territory forming part of the dominions of the Crown."'—(Mr. Stuart Wortley.)
§ Question again proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ CAPTAIN CRAIG (Down, E.)
said he wished to draw attention to the extreme importance of excepting from the operation of the Rule Bills which affected treaties, conventions, or other international arrangements. This was a serious question for hon. Members to consider, as they would realise when they remembered what occurred not so very long ago in connection with the New Hebrides, and what might occur again if the Prime Minister's proposals were carried without Amendment. Obviously a Convention which affected not only this country but France and our Australasian Colonies as well as the native and white populations of the New Hebrides, ought to have been fully discussed in the House itself. He would not, however, labour that point which had been so well put by the right hon. Member for the Hallam Division of Sheffield on the previous night, but he would appeal to hon. Members generally to consider carefully the importance of the power which they were being asked to part with. Then again there was the question of the cession of territory. Surely it would be a great innovation for the House to allow Bills of that nature to be removed from full discussion in the House. But he would pass from these points and deal with (c) affecting Bills to create a subordinate legislature in any part of the United Kingdom. That was indeed a very important matter, and in his opinion the right hon. Member 782 for Hallam had not gone tar enough in wording his Amendment. There had been statements both in and out of Parliament with regard to the proposed legislation for Ireland, and although he took it that the intention of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Hallam Division was to prevent the possibility of any question regarding Home Rule or any measure extending self-government in Ireland being removed from discussion on the floor of the House, he feared that after the contradictory statements made by various Ministers as to the intentions of the Government it would be necessary to widen the Amendment, so as to make sure that when the Bill was introduced—and he sincerely hoped it never would be—it would not be open for Ministers to claim that it was not really a measure which created a subordinate legislature in any part of the United Kingdom. What they had to fear was that a Bill might possibly be sent upstairs which, although professing not to be a Bill of the nature described in the clause, was really intended to lead up to a separate legislature for one portion of the United Kingdom, and he took it that the intention of the right hon. Gentleman's Amendment was to prevent the possibility of such a Bill being sent upstairs. To make it clearer, however, he intended to propose, as an Amendment to that Amendment, to add after the word "kingdom" the words "or Bills which their promoters declare are intended to lead up to a subordinate legislature in any part of the United Kingdom." Those words would secure them against such legislation being relegated to a certain number of gentlemen upstairs. Although it was quite possible for the great majority now in power to defeat the proposal there ought to be a sense of fairness which would recognise that there was in the House a minority which really and sincerely feared the introduction of legislation of this kind, believing it would be seriously detrimental to the prosperity of their country, and feeling the necessity for the freest possible debate on all stages in the House itself. Had the Amendment proposed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dublin University been accepted in the spirit in which it was brought forward his own Amendment would not have been so necessary, as on the Report stage it would have been possible fully to 783 discuss vital points raised in Committee; but as he understood the Prime Minister's Amendment it did not go so far as was promised. The fact was they had been betrayed, and consequently a safeguard had been taken away from them. In the past the House had shown itself most jealous in protecting the interests of minorities. There was no minority in that House so small and yet so excellently representative as the Irish Unionist Party, and it was in their interest that he moved his Amendment. He hoped that hon. Members' sense of fairness would incline them to give it due consideration, and to remove from the operation of the proposed Rule a Bill to which the Unionist Members looked forward with horror, and which if it were ever introduced ought to be subjected to full analytical criticism and debate in the House itself. He begged to move.
§ VISCOUNT CASTLEREAGH (Maidstone)
seconded the Amendment. While agreeing with the first part of the Amendment of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Hallam Division, he felt that it required amplification in the way proposed by his hon. and gallant friend, and he sincerely hoped the House would see its way to adopt the suggestion. It seemed to be the desire of the Government to stifle discussion on all important questions, but inasmuch as the introduction of any measure tending to the establishment of a separate Legislature in any part of the kingdom would be a direct revolution in the policy of the country, such a measure ought to be fully and adequately discussed on the floor of the House, so that the discussion might come out fully in the Press, and the people of the country learn what was proposed to be done by the Government at the instance of their ardent supporters below the gangway. The adoption of his hon. and gallant friend's Amendment would preclude any possibility of a Bill obviously intended to set up a separate Legislature being sent upstairs instead of receiving adequate discussion on the floor of the House.
Amendment proposed to the proposed Amendment—
In line 2, after the word 'Kingdom,' to insert the words 'or Bills which the promoters declare are intended to lead up to a subordinate
Legislature in any part of the United Kingdom.'"—(Captain Craig.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted in the proposed Amendment."
§ THE CHIEF SECRETARY FOR IRELAND (Mr. BIRRELL, Bristol, N.)
said the noble Lord and the hon. and gallant Gentleman seemed to have a thorough conviction as to the contents and tendency of a measure which they had not yet seen. So far as he could he desired to calm the apprehensions, which he thought unnecessary, in the breasts of those hon. Members. There was no intention whatever of sending the measure to which the hon. Members referred upstairs. It would, from the beginning to the end of its, he hoped, fortunate and peaceful passage, be retained in the House, in the atmosphere of which hon. Gentlemen would have the infinite satisfaction of discussing it. But when they came to the insertion of general words in a Rule of this kind, especially such vague words as these proposed, he did not think any sensible Legislature would take such a course. He could only repeat that from beginning to end Bills of this kind would remain in the custody of the House, and the Government had no intention whatever of sending them upstairs.
§ MR. WALTER LONG (Dublin, S.)
did not think that the Answer given by the right hon. Gentleman would be regarded as satisfactory by the mover and seconder of the Amendment. If the right hon. Gentleman had taken the trouble to follow the speeches of his own Leader, the Prime Minister, he would not be in such a state of ignorance as he now found himself. They presumed that the Prime Minister spoke with a full knowledge of the intentions of the Government, and he had left no doubt in the minds of his hearers that the Bill to be brought forward was one which would lead up to the larger measure of Home Rule What could be the objection of the Government to stating in plain language what they meant? They were not dealing with an Order which was merely special in its character. They were altering the Standing Orders for all time, and it could be no answer to the objections raised on that side to say "You 785 have a particular measure in your minds, and we say it is not going to be taken upstairs." What they asked was that it should be stated what measures were to be retained in the House. In the general discussion on the Prime Minister's proposal he raised a point which had never been answered, viz., what were the Government's intentions with regard to adverse decisions on Bills in Grand Committees. [Interruption.] It was of no use lion. Gentlemen interrupting him, he was in the hands of Mr. Speaker, who was quite competent to tell him if he were not in order, and the President of the Board of Education, by his interruptions, was showing that he had little regard for the time of the House. Supposing a Bill were introduced from which were carefully excluded powers which certain sections of the House desired to see included, and a combination were formed which carried against the Government a Motion that was vital to the Bill, the usual consequences would follow. What he asked the Chancellor of the Duchy was this: a Bill went upstairs, and if such a combination were formed, and the Government were defeated, what course did the Government propose to take, having regard to the amended procedure? Were they to regard the defeat upstairs in a Committee of eighty members in the same light as they would regard it in the House, or did they propose entirely to disregard the defeat upstairs and wait until the Bill came back to the House, making full use of the interval for the application of the usual arguments to hon. Gentlemen who had voted against them? They might entirely change the decision of Parliament by the very fact that they disregarded a decision upstairs, though that decision was vital to the Bill. He submitted that that was a constitutional question which the Government ought to answer.
§ VISCOUNT TURNOUR (Sussex, Horsham)
said the right hon. Gentleman had stated that it was not the intention of the Government to send upstairs the Bill foreshadowed in connection with the Government of Ireland. Surely the time had gone by when they could place reliance on what was the intention of the Government in the matter. 786 He thought, in any case, that it was a very weak argument for the right hon. Gentleman to use. Certainly, after what the right hon. Gentleman had said, it was not a question of the intention of the Government, but of what the Government were likely to do. What, in this case, were the Government likely to do if they found that their intentions were not likely to be received in the spirit in which they should be received by hon. Members below the gangway? But the Bill foreshadowed for Ireland was not the only Bill which his hon. and gallant friend had in view when he moved his Amendment. There were a great many other Bills that might be brought forward in the near future leading up to the provision of a separate Legislature. He hoped the Prime Minister would answer the Amendment of his hon. and gallant friend, and give a rather fuller answer than that by the Chief Secretary.
§ *SIR HENRY FOWLER (Wolverhampton, E.)
said he would not be so discourteous as not to answer the right hon. Gentleman, who had appealed to him personally, although it was rather difficult to answer, especially after the speech which the noble Lord had just made. It was the kind of speech which he thought the noble Lord would regret when he had been a little longer in the House. The answer to the right hon. Gentleman was perfectly clear. The case which he put was a Government defeat by a combination in the Standing Committee on a point which the Government regarded as vital. Of course the Government, when the Bill came down from Committee, would take the course which all Governments took. The House would have to grapple with the situation as a whole. As to an alteration introduced by a casual combination of a very small minority compared with the whole House, the Government would tell the House, as Governments had already done, that when there was a clause put into a Bill which they regarded as vital to it, and which would impair what they considered the intention and purport and meaning of the Bill, they would take the usual course, and they would have to follow the course which the House thought 787 best. They all remembered Mr. Gladstone's phrase, which was that—The Government regard this as vital,and the House knew what that meant.
§ MR. WALTER LONG
That statement was made during the progress of the Committee, and if the decision in Committee was adverse, the action which the Government would take would immediately follow.
§ SIR HENRY FOWLER
said he thought that made the case stronger for the Government, for it then took it out of the discretion, after a final decision, of the Committee, which was not competent to decide questions on which the existence of the Government depended. It was not competent for eighty Members of the House to decide whether the Government possessed the confidence of the House of Commons. It would have been very hard on the late Government if that had been done in the past. It was rather difficult when the House was heated, but he appealed to the common sense of the House in this matter. They were told that they were practically rogues, but they were not fools, and they would act as commonsense men would do. He did not think that any Government had ever sat on those Benches which had not acted in accordance with the highest sense of what was due to the House and country when vital questions were before them.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN (Worcestershire, E.)
said the statement which the right hon. Gentleman had just made was, he thought, the answer which his right hon. friend expected to get from him. But of course the House saw what it involved in a large number of cases—the ignoring by the Government of the decisions and labours of the Committees which they had gone to such trouble to set up. If the opinion of the Committee happened to differ from the opinion of the Government, the Government would reserve to itself the right to ask the House upon Report to go into the whole question again and reverse the decision of the Committee. If the Government reserved to themselves that discretion they would not dispute the right of every Member 788 of the House to exercise the same discretion. If the Government had the right, it was also the right of the individual Member. Accordingly what they had to contemplate was that the Report stage would be far more arduous than at present, that decisions on the Committee stage would carry far less weight than they did now, and that the House on Report would constantly have the right to undo and do over again the work which had been done in Committee. The Chancellor of the Duchy had commented with some warmth on the speech of his hon. friend behind him. He thought it was needless warmth, and when the right hon. Gentleman thought of what his hon. friend had said, he would see that it did not call for the rebuke which, as an old Member, he had administered to his hon. friend. What his noble friend said was that they could not rely on the intentions of the Government.
§ *SIR HENRY FOWLER
The noble Lord said that reliance could not be placed on the statements of the Government.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
No, the noble Lord said that reliance could not be placed upon the intentions of the Government, and it was a correction of the right hon. Gentleman which he made on his hon. friend's behalf.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
said that nobody would contend for one moment that the intentions of the Government at the present moment were binding upon them a couple of years hence, say; still less were they binding on any other Government. Without being offensive, he begged to recall to the House the fact that the Prime Minister himself had explained more than once the difference between an intention expressed by the Government and a pledge given by the Government. On more than one occasion they thought they had received a pledge from the Government. The right hon. Gentleman had corrected them, explaining that he had expressed 789 an intention in the light of the Government's then knowledge and expectations as to the course of business, and he had resented pretty strongly any suggestion from the Opposition of a breach of faith. Intentions were not a very suitable basis on which to place Standing Orders. Only on Thursday last the right hon. Gentleman had expressed his intention to accept the Amendment of his right hon. friend the Member for Dublin University. That was the Prime Minister's intention, but his Amendment did not carry out that intention. From facts fresh in their memory, he submitted that his noble friend had said no more than what was obvious to any man when he stated that in making Standing Orders they could not rely on the intentions of the Government.
§ MR. MITCHELL-THOMSON (Lanarkshire, N.W.,)
felt that there was more substance in this Amendment than the right hon. Gentlemen sitting on the Treasury Bench had realised even in regard to the particular Bill alluded to by the Chief Secretary. It would be within the recollection of the House that the Chief Secretary had assured his hon. and gallant friend that he did not need to be under any apprehension in regard to the Irish Bill, or as to whether it was intended to lead up to Home Rule. The Amendment before them really raised the big question of the reference of contentious Bills to Grand Committees. He thought he was right in saying that when the Grand Committee system was instituted in 1882 it was not Mr. Gladstone's intention that the Committees should be used for the discussion of highly contentious measures. Mr. Gladstone, speaking of these Grand Committees, said—The Committees would consider only these subjects with which the painful considerations of Party cannot be mixed up.The Chief Secretary had stated that the particular Bill referred to would not go to a Grand Committee, but the point they wished to press was, would Bills of that character go to a Grand Committee? The Government had already refused an Amendment which would have prevented Bills of a highly contentious character going to a Grand Committee. The Prime Minister, in the statement he 790 had made, appeared to be contemplating the possibility of the Scottish Land Bill going to one of these Committees. When the right hon. Gentleman suggested that a Bill of that character might be sent upstairs he would remind him that in 1894, when the Scottish Committee was set up, it was said that it was perfectly plain that a Crofters Bill could not be referred to such a Committee. Upon the general question he would like to quote one of the greatest Parliamentarians, the late Sir William Harcourt. In the debates on the setting up of the Scottish Committee in 1894, an Amendment was moved defining what kind of Bills should be dealt with, and Sir William Harcourt said—When the noble Lord asks me whether great Parliamentary questions such as the Land Acts, Home Rule, Disestablishment, and questions of that kind, which I call of a highly political and controversial character, are proper subjects for a Committee of this character. I have to tell him that that is not the object of a Committee of this character.He went on to say—That the Committee was to be used for measures which were not of a high political character.That view was confirmed by Sir George Trevelyan, who went even further, for he said—No Bill objected to by a large minority of the House would ever be referred to that Committee.Then Sir George Trevelyan went on to say—No Government, unless composed of nothing short of lunatics, would propose to bring any contentious Bill before a Grand Committee.He reminded the Prime Minister that several times in the course of these debates the opinion was expressed that particular Bills would not be brought before the Grand Committee, on the ground that they involved high constitutional principles. If the Government had accepted the previous Amendment there would have been no necessity to move the one under discussion; but as they had refused a general Amendment these proposals were now necessary. With regard to the possible defeat of the Government in Committee, he assumed that the Government in forming these Rules were contemplating a code of procedure not only 791 for this Parliament but to facilitate the work of the House in the future. But what would happen? There might come a time when some other Government would sit on the benches opposite. There might be a Conservative Government in power and Scotland might be represented by a majority of Radical Members. Under these circumstances to defeat a Committee would be a matter of daily occurrence, and then the Government would become a sort of political Penelope undoing what had been done on these Committees. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Rushcliffe appeared to suggest that the object of these Committees was to enable a Liberal Government to pass Liberal legislation. That might be a laudable object from the point of view of hon. Gentlemen opposite, but it was not a proper conception of the functions of any Committee of the House. He would again appeal to the late Sir William Harcourt, who said—He would never be a Party to the breaking up of the control of the House of Commons as a whole over great questions which interested the whole country.He went on to say—To use any instrument of this kind to secure the predominance of a Party majority would be an abuse of power.For these reasons he strongly supported the Amendment of his hon. and gallant friend.
§ MR. DALZIEL (Kirkcaldy)
thought the Opposition might very well rest satisfied with the declaration of the Chief Secretary that it was not the intention of the Government to send Bills dealing with Ireland to any of the Committees upstairs. With regard to the question whether the Government of the day ought to regard a defeat in Committee upstairs as equivalent to a defeat downstairs he could not understand the position taken up by the Opposition. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Dublin had complained that the Government would not regard a defeat upstairs in that light.
§ MR. DALZIEL
said the hon. Member for North-West Lanarkshire had re- 792 ferred to the position of a Conservative Government if there happened to be on the Scottish Committee a majority of Radical Members representing Scotland able to carry propositions upstairs which the Government would have to reverse downstairs. Did the hon. Member contend that Scottish opinion should not prevail when a Tory Government was in power? That was not the argument he used at the last general election.
§ MR. MITCHELL-THOMSON
said it was quite right that Scottish opinion should prevail, but that did not necessarily mean Scottish Radical opinion.
§ MR. DALZIEL
said the representation of Scotland had been overwhelmingly Radical for many years. It did not appear to be recognised that the Government were making a very important departure so far as the whole administration of the House was concerned. If they were simply going to regard the new Committees as the embodiment of the old ones they ought not to be wasting time discussing these new proposals. The proposals of the Government were far-reaching and struck vitally at the whole business arrangements of the House with a view to taking away all those matters of detail which could be properly threshed out upstairs, thus leaving the time of the House free for the consideration of the greater questions which might come before them. In reading quotations from speeches made many years ago it was necessary to remember that they were now living under different circumstances. The present was a more democratic House of Commons than had been previously elected, and it was pledged to deal with certain reforms. It was because it was through the medium of these Grand Committees that those great objects were to be achieved that the majority of the House would support the proposal of the Government. As to the position of the Government in relation to the decisions of Committees upstairs, if there should happen to be an Amendment carried against the Government it would depend entirely on the relative importance of the Amendment whether the Government could accept it when the Bill came downstairs. The Minister in charge might accept 793 it so as to speed the passage of the Bill through the House. It would always be in the power of the Government to reverse or to approve the decisions of the Grand Committees. The House would retain supreme power over all the deliberations of Committees upstairs. They would have that security on the Report stage.
§ *SIR ARTHUR BIGNOLD (Wick Burghs)
said the difficulty was in knowing what was controversial matter. In the last Parliament, when the Musical Copyright Bill was introduced, he had the honour to submit to the then Prime Minister a request asking him to "star" it on the Order Paper. The petition was signed by forty-nine out of every fifty Members to whom it was presented. The Government of the day "starred" it, but it did not pass. When the present Government adopted a Bill introduced by Mr. Agar-Robartes, the Prime Minister justified the course he had taken in "starring" it by pointing to the Musical Copyright Bill as a highly controversial measure which his predecessor had starred. When the hon. Member for the Aston Manor referred yesterday to the Scottish Small Holdings Bill as a Bill so contentious that the Government would certainly not send it upstairs, Ministers shook their heads and led the House to infer that the Bill might be relegated to Grand Committee.
§ *SIR ARTHUR BIGNOLD
said he bowed to the ruling. He trusted that the Government would see their way to accept the Amendment, and that before the discussion was concluded that evening they would give the House some intimation of what they meant by a controversial measure.
§ COLONEL LOCKWOOD (Essex, Epping)
said he could not help thinking that the Government had chosen a method which was likely to lead to more controversy than was necessary in the proceedings of the House. He understood that the object of the Government in, introducing this particular change in the Rules was to produce as much legislation as possible 794 in a given timeout of the Parliamentary machine. He did not find fault with that at the moment, but the objection of hon. Members on his side of the House was that the Parliamentary machine could only produce so much work in a given time. He ventured to suggest that the Government were applying the wrong remedy. The remedy was to produce less legislation, but of a better sort.
§ *MR. SPEAKER
The right hon. and gallant Gentleman is discussing the Resolution as a whole. We have not arrived at that point yet. The only question now is whether Bills which, in the opinion of the promoters, may lead to the formation of subordinate Parliaments are to be kept here or sent upstairs.
§ COLONEL LOCKWOOD
said he understood that, and he would not pursue the question as to the proper remedy.
§ MR. SAMUEL ROBERTS (Sheffield, Ecclesall)
said they had received from the Chief Secretary for Ireland a reply which was satisfactory as to the immediate measure which the Government proposed to introduce for Ireland, but it did not go far enough for himself and his friends. They held that all measures in the future which were so important that the Government themselves said they were intended to lead up to a separate Parliament were measures which ought automatically to be excepted from consideration by Grand Committee. His right hon. friend had moved an Amendment, but there was no reply from the front Government bench. He asked whether Bills of the class mentioned by his right hon. friend were not of such importance that they ought to be retained in the House. He fancied that the reply of the right hon. Gentleman to whom the question was addressed would probably be, "Yes, they are, and we do not intend that these measures should go upstairs." If that was so, why did the Government object to accept the Amendment? Why not put it in black and white in the Standing Order? He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would see his way to accept the Amendment.
§ SIR FRANCIS LOWE (Birmingham, Edgbaston)
said the alteration of the 795 Rules of procedure should not be treated as a Party question. In the circum stances he was rather surprised that the Prime Minister had not met in a more conciliatory spirit the valid and reasonable objections to some of the proposals. He himself was in favour of a further extension of the principle of referring to Standing Committees some of the details of non-controversial measures, and if these alterations could be made in that spirit he would be disposed to support the Government in regard to a great many of them. It had been conclusively shown that a Bill of the character referred to in the Amendment did not come at all within that description. Any Bill which proposed to make an extensive alteration in the Constitution of the United Kingdom would be of a highly controversial nature. He thought, therefore, that was a class of Bill which might very well be excepted from the operation of the Rule. He appealed to the Prime Minister to say whether he could not introduce some general words which would exclude from the operation of the Rule Bills of a highly controversial character. He thought the present case would be entirely met if the right hon. Gentleman would include in the exceptions any Bill making any vital alteration in the Constitution of the United Kingdom. That would not in any way prejudice the position of the Government, because they had declared that they had no intention to send to the Grand Committees Bills of that character. The matter was of far too great importance to be left to the discretion of any Government. Now was the time for the Prime Minister to be a little conciliatory.
§ LORD WILLOUGHBY DE ERESBY (Lincolnshire, Horncastle)
believed there were a great many Bills not of a highly contentious character which might fairly be discussed, and which might perhaps receive fairer treatment, in the Grand Committees than in Committee of the Whole House. That was partly owing to the fact that in order to vote Members had to be present at the moment the Question was put. On the other hand, he felt that a strong case had been made out for the acceptance of the Amendment proposed 796 by the hon. and gallant Member. It seemed to him that this method of sending upstairs Bills of all descriptions relating to different parts of the United Kingdom contained within it a great danger. He had listened with some interest to the remarks of the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy, who was particularly anxious to show that in Scotland during the last twenty or more years the great mass of political opinion had been democratic. But he would remind the House that there had been in the past a different position in that country from that which now obtained. When the question of setting up Committees composed of Members for Scotland, Ireland, and Wales was first introduced the Liberal Party was in power, but commanded only a small majority, largely composed of Irish, Welsh, and Scottish Members, while the great proportion of the Members of the House were strongly Conservative Englishmen. That would happen again in the future, and he well remembered the late Lord Randolph Churchill pointing out that if they were going to set up Grand Committees for Scotland, Ireland, and Wales, they must give the same rights to England.
§ LORD WILLOUGHBY DE ERESBY
said what he wanted to urge was that the proposals of the Government would create a feeling in the country that they were advancing towards Home Rule all round—a principle which, he believed, would never be accepted by the majority of the people.
§ COLONEL KENYON-SLANEY (Shropshire, Newport)
said he presumed that right hon. Gentlemen opposite would admit that all the members of the Government should be accepted as promoters of the Bills mentioned in the King's Speech. The reason why he was strongly induced to support the Amendment of his hon. and gallant friend was that he thought it would have some considerable effect in putting an end to an unfortunate habit which had grown up in the country and was particularly noticeable at the 797 last general election namely, that of different members of the Government having different views as to Bills that were to be introduced. Sometimes it was found convenient for one member of the Government to declare that a certain Bill would not have the effect which some people imagined it would have: and another member of the Government, or possibly the same member, addressing another audience, would give an entirely different rendering of the effect of the
§ Bill if passed. The proposed of his hon. and gallant friend would stop a great deal of loose talking and tend in the direction which he was sure the Government had in view—the retaining within the purview of the Whole House of such Bills as were set forth in the Amendment.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 108; Noes, 329. (Division List No. 121.)801
|Acland-Hood, Rt. Hn Sir Alex. F.||Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||Nicholson, Wm. G. (Petersfield)|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Finch, Rt. Hon. George H.||O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Fletcher, J. S.||Parker. Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)|
|Arnold-Forster. Rt. Hn. Hugh O.||Forster, Henry William||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington|
|Ashley, W. W.||Gardner. Ernest (Berks, East)||Percy, Earl|
|Balcarres, Lord||Glendinning, R. G.||Randles, Sir John Sourrah|
|Baldwin, Alfred||Haddock, George R.||Ratcliff, Major R. F.|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (City Lond.)||Hamilton, Marquess of||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashford||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Baring, Capt. Hn. G (Winchester||Harrison-Broadley, Col. H. B.||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, X.)||Hay, Hon. Claude George||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W).|
|Beach, Hn. Michael Hugh Hicks||Helmsley, Viscount||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley George D.|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Hervey, F. W. F (Bury S. Edm'ds||Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, East|
|Bignold, Sir Arthur||Hill, Sir Clement (Shrewsbury)||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Bowles, G. Stewart||Houston, Robert Paterson||Stanley, Hon Arthur (Ormskirk.|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Hunt, Rowland||Starkey, John R.|
|Butcher, Samuel Henry||Kennaway, Rt. Hon. Sir John H.||Talbot Lard E. (Chichester)|
|Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. H. M.||Kenyon-Slaney. Rt. Hon. Col. W.||Thomson, W. Mitchell-(Lanark)|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm.||Thornton, Percy M.|
|Cavendish, Rt. Hon. Victor C. W.||Lane-Fox. G. R.||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Law, Andrew Bonar (Dulwich||Turnour, Viscount|
|Cecil, Lord John P. Joicey-||Liddell, Henry||Valentia, Viscount|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A. R||Vincent, Col. Sir C. E. Howard|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. JA (Wore.||Long, Col. Charles W. (Evesham||Walker, Col. W. H. (Lancashire|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Dublin, S)||Walrond, Hon. Lionel|
|Collings, Rt. Hn. J. (Birmingh'm||Lowe, Sir Francis William||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid.)|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Courthope, G. Loyd||MacIver, David (Liverpool)||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.||M'Calmont, Colonel James||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E. R.|
|Craik, Sir Henry||M'Iver, Sir Lewis (Edinburgh, W||Wolff. Gustav Wilhelm|
|Dalrymple, Viscount||Magnus, Sir Philip||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Duncan, Robert (Lanark, Govan||Meysey-Thompson. E. C.||Younger, George|
|Faber, George Denison (York)||Middlemore, John Throgmorton|
|Faber, Capt. W. V. (Hants, W.||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—|
|Fardell, Sir T. George||Morpeth, Viscount||Captain Craig and Viscount|
|Fell, Arthur||Muntz, Sir Philip A.||Castlereagh.|
|Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.)||Baker, Sir John (Portsmouth)||Beck, A. Cecil|
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||Bell, Richard|
|Adkins, W. Ryland D.||Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Benn, W. (T'w'r Hamlets, S. Geo.|
|Agnew, George William||Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Bennett, E. N.|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Barker, John||Bethell, Sir J. H (Essex, Romf'rd|
|Alden, Percy||Barlow, John Emmott (Somers't||Billson, Alfred|
|Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch||Barlow, Percy (Bedford)||Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine|
|Allen, Charles P. (Stroud)||Barnes, G. N.||Black, Arthur W.|
|Ambrose, Robert||Barran, Rowland Hirst||Boland, John|
|Armitage, R.||Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Boulton, A. C. F.|
|Armstrong, W. C. Heaton||Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.)||Bowerman, C. W.|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Beale, W. P.||Brace, Williams|
|Astbury, John Meir||Beacuhamp, E.||Bramsdon, T. A.|
|Branch, James||Gill, A. H.||M'Callum, John M.|
|Brigg, John||Ginnell, L.||M'Crae, George|
|Brocklehurst, W. B.||Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert John||M'Hugh, Patrick A.|
|Brunner, J. F. L. (Lancs., Leigh)||Glover, Thomas||M'Kenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald|
|Buckmaster, Stanley O.||Grant, Corrie||M'Killop, W.|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Greenwood, G. (Peterborough)||M'Laren, Sir C. B. (Leicester)|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Guest, Hon. Ivor Churchill||M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Gulland, John W.||M'Micking, Major G.|
|Buxton, Rt. Hn. Sydney Charles||Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton||Maddison, Frederick|
|Byles, William Pollard||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius||Mallet, Charles E.|
|Cameron, Robert||Hall, Frederick||Manfield, Harry (Northants)|
|Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.||Halpin, J.||Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston)|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis||Marnham, F. J.|
|Causton Rt. Hn. Richard Knight||Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)||Massie, J.|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick||Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Wore'r)||Masterman, C. F. G.|
|Chance, Frederick William||Harrington, Timothy||Meagher, Michael|
|Channing, Sir Francis Allston||Hart-Davies, T.||Menzies, Walter|
|Cheetham, John Frederick||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Micklem, Nathaniel|
|Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Harwood, George||Molteno, Percy Alport|
|Clarke, C. Goddard||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Mond, A.|
|Clough, William||Haworth, Arthur A.||Money, L. G. Chiozza|
|Clynes, J. R.||Helme, Norval Watson||Montagu, E. S.|
|Coats, Sir T. Glen (Renfrew, W.)||Hemmerde, Edward George||Mooney, J. J.|
|Cobbold, Felix Thornley||Henry, Charles S.||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Herbert, T. Arnold (Wycombe)||Morley, Rt. Hon. John|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Higham, John Sharp||Morrell, Philip|
|Cooper, G. J.||Hobart, Sir Robert||Newnes, F. (Notts, Bassetlaw)|
|Corbett, C H (Sussex, E. Grinst'd||Hobhouse, Charles E. H.||Nicholls, George|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Hodge, John||Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncast'r|
|Cory, Clifford John||Hogan, Michael||Nolan, Joseph|
|Cotton, Sir H. J. S.||Holt, Richard Durning||Norton, Capt. Cecil William|
|Cox, Harold||Hooper, A. G.||Nuttall, Harry|
|Crean, Eugene||Hope, John Deans (Fife, West)||O'Brien, Kendal (Tipperary Mid|
|Cremer, William Randal||Hope, W. Bateman (Somerset, N.||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Crombie, John William||Horniman, Emslie John||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)|
|Crosfield, A. H.||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||O'Doherty, Philip|
|Crossley, William J.||Hudson, Walter||O'Donnell, C. J. (Walworth)|
|Dalziel, James Henry||Hutton, Alfred Eddison||O'Dowd, John|
|Davies, David (Montgomery Co||Illingworth, Percy H.||O'Grady, J.|
|Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Jacoby, Sir James Alfred||O'Malley, William|
|Davies, Timothy (Fulham)||Johnson, W. (Nuneaton)||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Delany, William||Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea||Partington, Oswald|
|Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.)||Jones, Leif (Apple by)||Paulton, James Mellor|
|Dewar, John A. (Inverness-sh.||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)|
|Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N.||Jowett, F. W.||Pearce, William (Limehouse)|
|Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.||Joyce, Michael||Pearson, W. H. M. (Suffolk, Eye)|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Kearley, Hudson E.||Philipps, Col. Ivor (S'thampton)|
|Dolan, Charles Joseph||Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Philipps, J. Wynford (Pembroke|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Kincaid-Smith, Captain||Philipps, Owen C. (Pembroke)|
|Duckworth, James||King, Alfred John (Knutsford)||Pickersgill, Edward Hare|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness||Kitson, Rt. Hon. Sir James||Pirie, Duncan V.|
|Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||Laidlaw, Robert||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Lamb, Edmund G.(Leominster||Priestley, W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)|
|Elibank, Master of||Lambert, George||Pullar, Sir Robert|
|Ellis, Rt. Hon. John Edward||Lamont, Norman||Raphael, Herbert H.|
|Erskine, David C.||Leese, Sir Joseph F. (Accrington||Rea, Russell (Gloucester)|
|Essex, R. W.||Lehmann, R. C.||Redmond, John E. (Waterford|
|Esslemont, George Birnie||Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich||Redmond, William (Clare)|
|Evans, Jamuel T.||Lever, W. H. (Cheshire, Wirral)||Renton, Major Leslie|
|Everett, R. Lacey||Levy, Maurice||Richards, T. F. (Wolverh'mpt'n|
|Faber, G. H. (Boston)||Lewis, John Herbert||Ridsdale, E. A.|
|Fenwick, Charles||Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Ferens, T. R||Lough, Thomas||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Ffrench, Peter||Lundon, W.||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)|
|Findlay, Alexander||Luttrell, Hugh Fownes||Robertson, Rt. Hn. E. (Dundee)|
|Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter||Lyell, Charles Henry||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradt'rd|
|Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Lynch, H. B.||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Freeman-Thomas, Freeman||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Robinson, S.|
|Fuller, John Michael F.||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Bg'hs||Robson, Sir William Snowdon|
|Fullerton, Hugh||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Furness, Sir Christopher||Macpherson, J. T.||Rogers, F. E. Newman|
|Gardner, Col. Alan (Hereford, S.||MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.||Runciman, Walter|
|Gilhooly, James||MacVeigh, Charles (Donegal, E.)||Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)|
|Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)||Straus, B. S. (Mile End)||Warner, Eugene (Clackmannan)|
|Scarisbrick, T. T. L.||Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Schwann, C. Duncan (Hyde)||Summerbell, T.||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Schwann, Sir C. E. (Manchester)||Sutherland, J. E.||Watt, Henry A.|
|Scott, A. H. (Ashton under Lyne||Taylor, Austin (East Toxteth)||Weir, James Galloway|
|Sears, J. E.||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)||Whitbread, Howard|
|Seavenrs, J. H.||Tennant, Sir Edward (Salisbury||White, George (Norfork)|
|Seddon, J.||Tennant, H. J. (Berwickshire)||White, J. D. (Dumbartonshire)|
|Seely, Major J. B.||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford)||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)||Whitley John Henry (Halifax)|
|Shaw, Rt. Hon. T. (Hawick B.)||Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr||Whittaker, Sir Thomas Palmer|
|Sheehan, Daniel Daniel||Thomasson, Franklin||Wiles, Thomas|
|Sheehy, David||Thorne, William||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Sherwell, Arthur James||Tomkinson, James||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Shipman, Dr. John G.||Torrance, Sir A. M.||Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarth'n|
|Silcock, Thomas Ball||Toulmin, George||Wilson, Henry J (York, W. R.)|
|Sinclair, Rt. Hon. John||Ure, Alexander||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh, N.)|
|Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)||Verney, F. W.||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Snowden, P.||Vivian, Henry||Winfrey, R.|
|Soames, Arthur Wellesley||Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Soares, Ernest J.||Walsh, Stephen|
|Spicer, Sir Albert||Ward, John (Stoke upon Trent||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—|
|Steadman, W. C.||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton||Mr. Whiteley and Mr. J. A. Pease.|
|Stewart-Smith, D. (Kendal)||Wardle, George J.|
|Strachey, Sir Edward||Waring, Walter|
§ Question again proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ *SIR WILLIAM ANSON (Oxford University)
desired to say a few words on the Amendment, not with a hope of carrying conviction to hon. Members opposite, but because he wished to record his protest against carrying rules which he believed would be detrimental to the well-being of the House. What were the arguments urged by the Government for excluding from the purview of these Committees the very important matters which were included in the Amendment of his right hon. friend. They were referred again and again to the Report of the Procedure Committee of 1886, and that in fact was the only reason which the right hon. Gentleman had advanced for refusing to give attention to proposals to exclude matters of national or constitutional importance from the consideration of these Committees. The fact was, however, that the Report of that Committee had very little application to the present situation. What Committees did that Committee propose to set up under that Report? They were not ad hoc Committees, but the House was to be divided into four Committees who were to meet, each forming a quarter of the whole House, for the discussion of matters which were to come back to the House for discussion upon Report. That was a very different 802 matter from the appointment of Committees ad hoc of sixty or eighty Members. In 1886 they had not realised the full effect of the legislation of 1885; they bad not realised that the Redistribution Act of that year would work out in such a way that the elections might give to one Party or another a majority in the country quite out of proportion to the votes cast for it. He did not think the Report of that Committee was framed in anticipation of the enormous majorities which placed great and dangerous powers in the hands of a Government. Then again, closure, in those days, was in its infancy, and the idea of closure by compartments had not been introduced. If they wished to accelerate the business of the House he would venture to say that closure by compartments, determined upon in the initial stages of a Bill, was the best way to secure a full and reasonable discussion of the important parts. At that time, however, closure by compartments had not been considered, and, as he had said, closure in the ordinary form was in its infancy. At that time there was certainly no suggestion of the power of closure being given to the Chairman of any one of the four Committees which were contemplated in the Report of the Committee of 1886. That being so, the Report of that Committee was really inapplicable to the present situation. What other reasons for rejecting this Amendment had been 803 assigned by the Government? Did they mean to send up as a matter of course these ad hoc Committees' Bills dealing with the great subjects which had been alluded to, or did they consider that it was beyond the range of possibility that a Home Rule Bill, or a Bill for the cession of territory or the like, should be sent up? If they considered it impossible why did they not say so? If they would say so, he did not wish to express any doubt as to the intentions of the Government, or to bring himself under the rebuke of the Chancellor of the Duchy, but this Government had taught them that a great many things were possible that they had hardly conceived to be within the range of possibility before the commencement of the session last year. Was it to be left within the range of possibility that such a Bill as the Home Rule Bill of 1893, that a Bill to carry out a commercial treaty—say the Sugar Convention Bill or the Bill for the cession of Heligoland—was to be dealt with by a Committee of sixty or eighty Members, upon which the Opposition might be very sparsely represented? Moreover, he would ask under what conditions the Government would allow the possibility of such a discussion to take place? These Committees would discuss matters without any authentic report being given of their proceedings. The Chairman would have given to him freely a power of closure which had only been gradually granted to the Speaker and the Chairman of Committees in the House, and was only given to the Deputy-Speaker now with a reservation. The public would not only know nothing or practically nothing of the course of the debate, but they would not know the reasons for which closure was given or the circumstances under which the debate had been curtailed, and they would have no means of judging of what had been the extent of the fair discussion allowed: this would depend on the idiosyncrasies of the particular Chairman of a particular Committee on a question of constitutional importance. They had heard in the course of the debate the sort of view which the Government took of these Committees, and it appeared that so long as a Committee 804 did what the Government pleased and carried out its intentions they might alter the Constitution of the country and cede territory, make commercial treaties, and so on. [MINISTERIAL cries of "No, no."] These Grand Committees, as he understood it, were to have free power to deal with any subject, with the very limited exceptions included in the right hon. Gentleman's Rules, which might be sent before them.
§ THE PRIME MINISTER AND FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Sir H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN,) Stirling Burghs
said the hon. Gentleman must not say that the Committee had this power of proceeding. The House of Commons had still some power somewhere. A Bill must be read a second time in the House, and then there was the Report stage and the Third Reading. The hon. Baronet was exaggerating.
§ *SIR WILLIAM ANSON
said he could assure the Prime Minister that he was quite familiar with the forms of the House, and had the right hon. Gentleman heard the speech of the Chancellor of the Duchy he would have understood the purport of what he was then saying, which was not intended to be in disparagement of the ordinary procedure of the House. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy was asked what would be the attitude of the Government when the Committee went against them on a question which the Government said was a vital one? The Chancellor of the Duchy said the action of the Committee would be remedied when the measure came down to the House; the Government would turn on its engine and upset the decision of the Committee. What, therefore, he wanted to point out was that it was rather a contradiction that a Committee of eighty Members might have the management of that very important stage, which was in the view of the country the most important stage of a Bill, they might have full power to deal with questions of the highest importance, but if they out stepped for one moment the wishes of the Government or lagged behind them the Government would not regard their decisions as vital, but they were 805 to be set aside at once on the Report, stage. There was in the contemplated procedure a possible arbitrary curtailment of debate by the powers of using the closure given to a possibly partisan Chairman. There was also a denial of publicity which he could hardly think the Government would wish to maintain. In fact, there would be no official report of these proceedings and no knowledge of the circumstances under which the closure was applied. He would also ask what would be the effect upon the general business of the House if these Committees were to deal with these very important subjects, which might come up every session, sometimes in several Bills. They would have four Committees of eighty Members, possibly one dealing with Home Rule, another with a commercial treaty, a third with the cession of territory, and a fourth with the reconstitution of the Army. These Committees would sit from eleven o'clock in the morning to four o'clock in the afternoon, and he would like to ask with what heart or energy would the members of these Committees come down to the discussion of a complicated Finance Bill, or the Report stage of a Bill hurried through the Committee by means of the closure upstairs, in the crude form in which Bills had in times within very recent recollection come down to that House. Unless some limit was put upon the subjects which might come before these Committees the business of the House might possibly fall into two sets of hands, those who attended Grand Committees and those who did not, and the ordinary items of discussion on administration and finance, and the subjects which would not be brought before the Grand Committees, including the Report stages of the Bills, would be dealt with mainly by the men who came fresh to work at four o'clock, and would be treated in a half-hearted way, if at all, by the jaded voluptuaries of Parliamentary work who had been sitting upstairs from eleven to four. He was afraid that the Government, in their desire to secure legislation which they wanted, were really doing a permanent injury to the House, and he appealed to the Prime Minister to reconsider that aspect of the question. The House was not merely a legislative 806 machine, but the country looked to it for information on great political questions and for the best criticism that could be given on the conduct of the Government in all Departments of the State. The country also looked to the House for the best that could be learned of the details of all important measures before the House. That the country would not obtain if they worked the greater portion of the House to a standstill before four o'clock in the afternoon, and if they concealed from the public the discussion which took place in Committee on the Bills which were dealt with between eleven and four. The whole scope of the exceptions put forward by the Government was, to his mind, most disappointing and most unsatisfactory to anyone who cared, as he ventured to say he cared, for the due conduct of business in, and the high reputation of, the House. It had been his lot at one time or another to make some study of the institutions of the country, and he had studied them with admiration, and he would even add with reverence, and it was to him a matter of regret that he should see this Government, so strong in ability, so inordinately strong in numbers, stifling debate and tramping on legitimate opposition in order to carry Rules which he believed would gravely, if not irretrievably, impair the dignity, diminish the usefulness, and lower the reputation of the House.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
said he thanked his right hon. friend for the little compliment he had paid the Government. He was glad, and it was quite refreshing to find that anyone thought well of the Government at all after the sort of Whip which had been sent round to an admiring flock, to the effect that they were physically unable to sit up late at night, and mentally incapable of explaining or defending their scheme for strangling free debate in the House. If that was the gospel that had been preached behind the curtain for months past to the flock on the other side by their pastor and master, he was surprised that it should occur to one of the hon. Members opposite to use the words "most able." The superlative quite startled him. The hon. Baronet, if he would allow him to say so, had fallen into the error which had been 807 proved to exist in all the speeches made on the Amendments moved upon the general question. If hon. Members were allowed to go according to their own sweet wills on such an occasion, it was a case of "Unconscious of their doom, the little victims play." They had so many hours in which they might employ themselves very usefully in discussing questions which deserved to be discussed, such as the question relating to the Scottish Committee. But, no, they preferred to play. As he had said, the hon. Baronet seemed to have fallen into an error which was saturated with fallacy. He talked of a Committee ad hoc. No doubt he had been so long at the Education Department, and when there had got so used to the phrase against which he protested, that it had so got into his mind that he must use it. The hon. Baronet called these Committees ad hoc, but they were nothing of the kind. Originally there was a distinction between the Committee on Trade and that on Law, but that had long since ceased to have effect and had disappeared. The hon. Member said what a dreadful thing it would be to have Bills dealing with treaties, Conventions, or other international arrangements, or Bills dealing with the cession of territory, referred to these Committees. Here he came to the little element of appositeness which he could find in the speech of the hon. Member. He had ventured to interrupt him and to point out that it was not the Committee but the House which sanctioned these things, because the latter passed the Second Reading, and therefore, if something prejudicial was enacted, the House would be as much to blame as the Committee. As a matter of fact, Bills which involved the cession of territory were not always very complicated. When Heligoland was ceded, the Bill only contained two clauses, one of which contained the short title, and the other simply provided for the assent of Parliament to the agreement between Her Majesty's Government and the Emperor of Germany as set forth in the schedule of the Bill, and set out that it should be lawful for the late Queen to do anything which was necessary or proper to carry into effect those provisions. The hon. Member seemed to think that they should exclude a Bill 808 of that kind from going to any Committee, and that it ought to be reserved for careful and elaborate consideration by the House which had already assented to the principle of the measure as a whole. As to this Amendment, he founded himself on the legal maxim exclusio unius est inclusio alterius. If this Rule were passed, and went beyond excluding the traditional financial measures from the consideration of Grand Committees, it might be taken to involve that having specified those Bills all others were to go upstairs. That was not their intention, because they said that each Bill ought to be decided upon its merits. There might be Army Bills so exceedingly large and subversive of the existing condition of things that they ought to be considered in the House, but there might be others of such a slight character that they might not be excluded from the ordinary course. They must decide upon the merits of the case in each instance. It was said that that meant that the Government were to determine in each case, but he disclaimed the notion that their idea was to pass certain Bills which they liked. Let that be understood. Their object was to pass Bills with better consideration and greater speed than could be done at present; whether they regarded the Bills as good or bad did not enter into the matter at all. What he said was that the present system was cumbrous, slow, and ineffective. He had admitted from the first that this was a sweeping change. If it succeeded, as he hoped it would, and they had every reason to think it would, it would, he thought, make a great reform in the system of the House. It was not intended to, and he did not think it would, have the effect of benefiting one Party more than another. It was proposed merely to facilitate legislation and to assist the House in the discharge of its legislative duties. He had opposed all these special exceptions because if once, as he had said, they began to accept them they might exclude other matters which were as worthy of being excepted as those before them. He believed that it ought to be possible at the time for those best qualified to judge and who had the actual measures before them to say what the exceptions should be, but he thought it would be ill-advised 809 to lay down any hard and fast rule as to the Bills or clauses which were to be excluded from the operation of the Rule.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
said the right hon. Gentleman was not making the Standing Order for this Government only, but was making it in what he conceived to be the interests of legislation over a period of years. He had introduced it in accordance with the wishes of the majority of the present House of Commons, or in the interests of the majority of any other House of Commons. He could only express regret that the Prime Minister's passionate desire to see legislation expedited, even though it was of a kind with which he did not sympathise, did not find expression in the last two Parliaments. He did not recall any occasion, when the late Government were dealing with the Rules of Procedure or bringing in their Bills, on which the Prime Minister had expressed his passionate desire to facilitate legislation, even though he might not approve of it, provided it had secured the support of the majority of the House. If that were, as he did not doubt it to be, the object of the Prime Minister and the Government, it was not the object with which some supporters were supporting the new Rule. The hon. Member for Kirkcaldy had frankly declared that his object was to pass Liberal legislation—Liberal in the Party sense; and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Rushcliffe had said very much the same thing the other day. For his own part he desired to see the House more capable of directing its business than in the past when the legislation was supported by a great majority, and, at the same time, he thought hon. Gentlemen opposite were making a great mistake when they supposed that the Opposition did not wish to see legislation carried. In the past, when they commanded a majority, they had been active legislators, and they would be active legislators when they crossed the floor. Then no doubt they would reap any benefits which these Rules might give for the conduct of legislation through the House. It was not because these Rules facilitated legislation that he objected to them; it was because he thought that they would impede the proper consideration of legislation by the 810 House, and be used, as the Government had already expressed the intention of using them, and as other Governments would use them increasingly, to withdraw power and control from that House. So much for the latter portion of the Prime Minister's speech. His hon. friend beside him had at last succeeded in extracting from the Prime Minister the principle on which they proceeded in drafting their Standing Order. He founded himself upon the legal maxim, Exclusio unius est inclusio alterius. That would have been a good argument if the Prime Minister had not excluded the financial Bills in accordance with immemorial practice. What the right hon. Gentleman said now was that he had excluded them because they had always been exceptionally treated by the House. But the two things were not the same. It would be in accordance with immemorial practice not to send contentious Bills upstairs, but the Prime Minister said he did mean to send such measures upstairs. The Prime Minister excluded finance Bills because they had always been exceptionally treated; yes, but not on the Committee stage. The special treatment of finance Bills was merely, in fact, that they must be founded on Resolutions introduced in Committee of Ways and Means and reported to the House. The procedure on finance Bills was applicable to all Bills with italicised clauses in them. Accordingly the distinction which the Prime Minister had drawn to differentiate finance Bills from other Bills broke down, because it had no reference to the particular stage which they were engaged in discussing. The right hon. Gentleman founded himself on a maxim which proved their case, and, if they passed the Rule in its present form, they had no security, whatever might be the intentions of the present Government, that they would not in future have a wide extension of the practice of sending Bills upstairs, and he, for one thought it not only possible but probable that such an extension would be made. Their only safeguard, if they meant to protect the right of the House to discuss these Bills in Committee of the Whole House, was to say definitely that they should be retained, and to say it definitely, not only in the form of speeches or intentions expressed across the floor of the House, but by words inserted in the Standing Order.
§ MR. EVANS (Glamorganshire, Mid.)
said that, from the argument of the right hon. Gentleman, if the Amendment were incorporated, it would be necessary to incorporate also, as an Amendment, some thing to provide for every clause which it was thought necessary or desirable, on the other side of the House, should be dealt with in Committee of the Whole House. That was not the scheme of the Government. What they were casting about for was some device whereby the House of Commons might become a business assembly. It was not to take away from the House a privilege which it might have upon the Committee stage; it sought to relieve the House of that business stage on a Bill. The general scheme of the Rule was that the Committee stage should disappear as regarded many Bills which could be dealt with more effectively upstairs than in Committee of the Whole House. If the Government were to adopt any Amendment or suggestion such as that under consideration, it would be necessary to incorporate in the Rule every class of Bill which it was desired to keep in the House. Of course that would not be practicable. ["Why?"] He would tell them why. They had on the Paper at the present moment Amendments which would include all highly controversial Bills. Nobody yet understood how these four Grand Committees were going to work. Everybody knew that this was an experiment. The Prime Minister had already said that he believed the experiment would turn out to be a good one. It was in the recollection of everyone that changes in Procedure had always been objected to. There was always a conservative tendency in the House of Commons—he did not mean in the Party sense—which went against making any alteration in the Rules; but alterations had been made which had turned out to be good and effectual remedies for the stale of things against which they were aimed. He wanted to assume for the moment that this experiment of Grand Committees would turn out to be a good one. The Amendment before the House was to exclude expressly from the Rule a particular class of Bills.
§ SIR E. CARSON (Dublin University)
I would remind the hon. and learned Gentleman that it does not take away 812 the power to make a Motion to send the Bill upstairs.
§ MR. EVANS
was not at all sure that the right hon. Gentleman was right, for the Rule said in terms that they must keep in the whole House a certain class of Bills; he assumed that was definite. If the plan turned out to be successful, as he believed it would, then the House ought to be free to let every Bill without exception go upstairs. It seemed to be forgotten that there would still remain to the House the various stages of a Bill—the First and Second Readings, the Report stage, and the Third Reading. In all conscience was not that enough for practical discussion? It was only in respect of details that the Committees would be employed. He did not say that his side of the House had been guiltless in the matter, but it was perfectly certain that the Committee stage in the House had been often used, not for the purpose of improving a Bill, not for the purpose of bringing to bear upon that stage the business faculty of the House,, but for the purpose of preventing the Bill from passing. It was to prevent a repetition of these things that this procedure had been proposed, and he was very glad that the Government were setting their face against all the exceptions which were proposed to be put into the Rule.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR (City of London)
said the hon. Gentleman had forgotten one thing. He had stated with perfect truth that the Committee stage had often been used in the past for the purpose of prolonging discussion. Nobody with any knowledge of the House of Commons denied that that had been the case in the past, or would doubt that analogous practices would be heard of in the future. But the hon. and learned Gentleman had made the great mistake of supposing that it could be avoided by withdrawing the details of Bills from the cognisance of the House. That was an impossible proceeding, and the Government, to do them justice, did not themselves contemplate it. They felt that the details must at one stage or another be thoroughly discussed, in the House, and they had by an Amendment on the Paper expressed their intention of making, at any rate, some approximation on the Report stage to the 813 freedom which was given on the Committee stage. The Prime Minister at an earlier period of the discussion had practically told the House that he meant to give full liberty on the Report stage. Therefore, they were all agreed that there must be a stage on every Bill in the House itself on which there could be ample discussion, and on which obstruction would be possible, and would, under certain circumstances, human nature being what it was, be practised. Nothing in the Rule would or could prevent that being done on one stage of the Bill, if the House of Commons had any control over the details of the measure- They were all agreed as to that. But they were all agreed, also, that there ought not to be two stages of the Bill in the House on which these practices could take place. He contended that limitations upon the powers of the House should be on the Report stage arid not on the Committee stage. They were all agreed that the House should retain the liberty of dealing with details which ought to be dealt with when the Government were in a position to make proper changes consequent upon discussion. In regard to the practice of sending Bills upstairs, they would find that instead of making the two stages supplement each other, what was done under the limitations of a Committee upstairs would often hamper the House in the work to be done on the Report stage. It could be shown with conclusive mathematical certainty that the manning of these Committees must be of an imperfect character, and even if it were perfect they would not carry authority. The result would be that the House would come fresh to the matter unfettered by anything which had been done upstairs, they would refuse to be bound by the decisions of the Standing Committees, and would refuse to allow the fact that the details, had been threshed out upstairs to diminish the discussion which they thought necessary downstairs. While he agreed that there should be some limitation to the double opportunity of dealing with the details of a Bill, they could not give that power without at the same time giving some opportunities for obstruction. The longer the discussion went on the more he was convinced that the Government had taken a wrong course in dealing 814 with the Committee stage in the way proposed. The proper course would have been to leave the House a reasonable liberty on the Committee stage, and cut down to the narrowest possible limits the power of spending time—and sometimes wasting it—upon the Report stage.
§ SIR HENEY FOWLER
said that one matter which had not been mentioned was even worse than obstruction, and that was that Bills had been and would be obstructed not on their merits or demerits but to prevent some other Bill being reached. They had to leave it to the House to decide whether the plan of the Government for dealing with the details through the machinery of Grand Committees should be more generally carried out, or whether they should still go on with the old system and either do away with the Report stage or reduce it to a very small truncated stage. They had been talking about grave constitutional changes which the House wanted to reserve power to deal with. He had no fear whatever upon that point, because he was satisfied that the House would take good care of itself and would not endeavour to carry through Grand Committee any Bill upon which public opinion had been strongly excited. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London in his evidence before the Committee upstairs said—It seems to me that a great blot, the greatest of all blots, upon our procedure at this moment is the fact that session after session goes by, and Bills to which nobody, or, at any rate, very few really object on their merits are handed on from session to session, and perhaps from Government to Government, without becoming law. No political credit is to be got out of them, no Government gains by them or loses by them, and the only people who lose are the public or the public service; and the Opposition of the day, or a few individuals even on the Government side, are quite sufficient to stop those Bills from getting through, if they have to run the ordeal of the Committee stage, the Report stage, and all the rest of them.That was absolutely true. His opinion of these Rules was that they presented a reasonable prospect of dealing with Departmental Bills of the greatest importance to local and general administration which wore outside Party questions, and by which no Party gained or lost, although the public lost by their not being passed into law.
§ Question put.816
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 113; Noes, 353. (Division List No. 122.)819
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Fell, Arthur||Nield, Herbert|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens|
|Arnold-Forster, Rt. Hn. Hugh O.||Finch, Rt. Hon. George H.||Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)|
|Ashley, W. W.||Fletcher, J. S.||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington|
|Balcarres, Lord||Forster, Henry William||Percy, Earl|
|Baldwin, Alfred||Gardner, Ernest (Berks, East)||Randles, Sir John Scurrah|
|Balfour, Rt. Hn A. J. (City Lond.)||Hambro, Charles Eric||Ratcliff, Major R. F.|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Hamilton, Marquess of||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Banner, John S. Harmood-||Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashford||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall|
|Baring, Capt Hn G (Winchester||Harrison-Broadley, Col. H. B.||Rutherford, John (Lancashire)|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Hay, Hon. Claude George||Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)|
|Beach, Hn, Michael Hugh Hicks||Helmsley, Viscount||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Hervey, F. W. F. (Bury S. Edmd's||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Bignold, Sir Arthur||Hill, Sir Clement (Shrewsbury)||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley George D.|
|Bowles, G. Stewart||Houston, Robert Paterson||Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, East)|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Hunt, Rowland||Smith, F. E. (Liverpool, Walton)|
|Butcher, Samuel Henry||Kennaway, Rt. Hn. Sir John H.||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. H. M.||Kenyon-Slaney, Rt. Hn. Col. W.||Stanley, Hn. Arthur (Ormskirk)|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Kimber, Sir Henry||Starkey, John R.|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Lambton, Hon. Frederick W m.||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Cave, George||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Lanark)|
|Cavendish, Rt. Hn. Victor C. W.||Liddell, Henry||Thornton, percy M.|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Lockwood, Rt. Hn. Lt.-Col. A. R.||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.)||Long, Col. Chas. W. (Evesham)||Turnour, Viscount|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Worc.||Long, Rt. H. Walter (Dublin, S.)||Vincent, Col. Sir C. E. Howard|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thoss. H. A. E.||Lowe, Sir Francis William||Walker, Col. W. H. (Lancashire)|
|Collings, Rt. Hn. J. (Birmingham||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred||Walrond, Hon. Lionel|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||MacIver, David (Liverpool)||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|Courthope, G. Loyd||M'Calmont, Colonel James||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Craig, Chas, Curtis (Antrim, S.[||M'Iver, Sir Lewis (Edinburgh W.||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Craig, Capt. James (Down, E.)||Magnus, Sir Philip||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E. R.)|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Marks, H. H. (Kent)||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Cross, Alexander||Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart|
|Dalrymple, Viscount||Meysey-Thompson, E. C.||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Middlemore, John Throgmorton||Younger, George.|
|Duncan, Robert (Lanark, Govan||Mildmay, Francis Bingham|
|Faber, George Denison (York)||Morpeth, Viscount||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Sir|
|Faber, Capt. W. V. (Hants, W.)||Muntz, Sir Philip A.||Alexander Acland-Hood and|
|Fardell, Sir T. George||Nicholson, W m. G. (Petersfield)||Viscount Valentia.|
|Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.)||Beauchamp, E.||Burnyeat, W. J. D.|
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Beck, A. Cecil||Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Bell, Richard||Buxton, Rt. Hn. Sydney Chas.|
|Adkins, W. Ryland D.||Benn, Sir J. Williams Devonp'rt||Byles, William Pollard|
|Agnew, George William||Benn, W. (T'w'r Hamlets, S. Geo.||Cameron, Robert|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Bennett, E. N.||Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H.|
|Allen, A. Acland (Christchurch)||Berridge, T. H. D.||Carr-Gomm, H. W.|
|Allen, Charles P. (Stroud)||Bethell, Sir J. H. (Essex, Romf'rd||Causton, Rt. Hn. Richard Knight|
|Ambrose, Robert||Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maldon)||Cawley, Sir Frederick|
|Armitage, R.||Billson, Alfred||Chance, Frederick William|
|Armstrnog, W. C. Heaton||Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Channing, Sir Francis Allston|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Black, Arthur W.||Cheetham, John Frederick|
|Astbury, John Meir||Boland, John||Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.|
|Baker, Sir John (Portsmouth)||Boulton, A. C. F.||Clarke, C. Goddard|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E)||Bowerman, C. W.||Cleland, J. W.|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Brace, William||Clough, William|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Bramsdon, T. A.||Clynes, J. R.|
|Barker, John||Branch, James||Coats, Sir T. Glen (Renfrey, W.)|
|Barlow, John Emmott (Somerset||Brigg, John||Cobbold, Felix Thornley|
|Barlow, Percy (Bedford)||Brocklehurst, W. B.||Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)|
|Barnes, G. N.||Brodie, H. C.||Collins, Sir W. J. (S. Pancras, W.)|
|Barran, Rowland Hirst||Brunner, J. F. L. (Lanes., Leigh)||Condon, Thomas Joseph|
|Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Bryce, J. Annan||Cooper, G. J.|
|Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.||Buckmaster, Stanley O.||Corbett, C. H (Sussex, E. Grinst'd|
|Beale, W. P.||Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.|
|Cowan, W. H.||Herbert, Col. Ivor (Mon., S.)||Mond, A.|
|Cox, Harold||Herbert, T. Arnold (Wycombe)||Montagu, E. S.|
|Crean, Eugene||Higham, John Sharp||Mooney, J. J.|
|Cremer, William Randal||Hobart, Sir Robert||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)|
|Crombie, John William||Hobhouse, Charles E. H.||Morley, Rt. Hon. John|
|Crosfield, A. H.||Hodge, John||Morse, L. L.|
|Crossley, William J.||Hogan, Michael||Newnes, F. (Notts, Bassetlaw)|
|Dalziel, James Henry||Holden, E. Hopkinson||Nicholls, George|
|Davies, David (Montgomery Co.||Holt, Richard Durning||Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncast'r|
|Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Hope, John Deans (Fife, West)||Nolan, Joseph|
|Davies, Timothy (Fulham)||Hope, W. Bateman (Somerset,||Norton, Capt. Cecil William|
|Davies, W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Horniman, Emslie John||Nuttall, Harry|
|Delany, William||Horridge, Thomas Gardner||O'Brien, Kendal (Tipperary Mid|
|Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.)||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Dewar, John A. (Inverness-sh.||Hudson, Walter||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)|
|Dickinson, W. H. (St Pancras, N.||Hutton, Alfred Eddison||O'Doherty, Philip|
|Dickson-Poynder, Sir John P.||Hyde, Clarendon||O'Donnell, C. J. (Walworth)|
|Dolan, Charles Joseph||Illingworth, Percy H.||O'Dowd, John|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Jackson, R. S.||O'Grady, J.|
|Duckworth, James||Jacoby, Sir James Alfred||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness||Jenkins, J.||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||Johnson, W. (Nuneaton)||Partington, Oswald|
|Edwards, Clement (Denbigh)||Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea||Paulton, James Mellor|
|Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Jones, Leif (Appleby)||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)|
|Edwards, Frank (Radnor)||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire||Pearce, William (Limehouse)|
|Elibank, Master of||Jowett, F. W.||Pearson, W. H. M. (Suffolk, Eye)|
|Ellis Rt. Hon. John Edward||Joyce, Michael||Philipps, Col. Ivor (S'thampton)|
|Erskine David C.||Kearley, Hudson E.||Philipps, J. Wynford, Pembroke|
|Essex, R. W.||Kekewich, Sir George||Philipps, Owen C. (Pembroke)|
|Esslemont, George Birnie||Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Pickersgill, Edward Hare|
|Evans, Samuel T.||Kincaid-Smith, Captain||Pirie, Duncan V.|
|Everett, R. Lacey||King, Alfred John (Knutsford)||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Faber, G. H. (Boston)||Kitson, Rt. Hon. Sir James||Price, Robert John (Norfolk, E.|
|Fenwick, Charles||Laidlaw, Robert||Priestley, W. E. B. (Bradford, E.|
|Ferens, T. R.||Lamb, Ernest H. (Rochester)||Pullar, Sir Robert|
|Ferguson, R. C. Munro||Lambert, George||Radford, G. H.|
|Ffrench, Peter||Lamont, Norman||Rainy, A. Rolland|
|Fiennes, Hon. Eustace||Leese, Sir Joseph F.(Accrington||Raphael, Herbert H.|
|Findlay, Alexander||Lehmann, R. C.||Rea, Russell (Gloucester)|
|Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter||Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich||Redmond, John E. (Waterford|
|Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Lever, W. H. (Cheshire, Wirral)||Redmond, William (Clare)|
|Freeman-Thomas, Freeman||Levy Maurice||Rees, J. D.|
|Fuller, John Michael F.||Lewis, John Herbert||Rendall, Athelstan|
|Fullerton, Hugh||Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David||Renton, Major Leslie|
|Furness, Sir Christopher||Lough, Thomas||Richards, T. F. (Wolverh'mpt'n|
|Gardner, Col. Alan (Hereford, S.||Lundon, W.||Richardson, A.|
|Gilhooly, James||Luttrell, Hugh Fownes||Ridsdale, E. A.|
|Gill, A. H.||Lyell, Charles Henry||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Ginnell, L.||Lynch, H. B.||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert John||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Roberts, John H. (Denbighs.)|
|Glendinning, R. G.||Macdonald, J. M. (FalkirkB'ghs||Robertson, Rt. Hn. E. (Dundee|
|Glover, Thomas||Maclean, Donald||Robertson, Sir G. Scott Bradford|
|Grant, Corrie||Macpherson, J. T.||Robinson, S.|
|Greenwood, G. (Peterborough)||MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.||Robson, Sir William Snowdon|
|Gulland, John W.||MacVeigh, Chas. (Donegal, E.)||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton||M'Callum, John M.||Rowlands, J.|
|Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.||M'Crae, George||Runciman, Walter|
|Hall, Frederick||M'Hugh, Patrick A.||Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford)|
|Halpin, J.||M'Kenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland|
|Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis||M'Laren, Sir C. B. (Leicester)||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)|
|Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)||M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)||Schwann, Duncan (Hyde)|
|Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Worc'r)||M'Micking, Major G.||Schwann, Sir C. E.(Manchester)|
|Harrington, Timothy||Maddison, Frederick||Scott, A. H. (Aston-under-Lyne|
|Hart-Davis, T.||Mallet, Charles E.||Sears, J. E.|
|Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Manfield, Harry (Northants)||Seaverns, J. H.|
|Harwood, George||Markham, Arthur Basil||Seddon, J.|
|Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Marks, G. Croydon (Launceston||Seely Major J. B.|
|Haworth, Arthur A.||Marnham, F. J.||Shaw Charles Edw. (Stafford)|
|Hedges, A. Paget||Massie, J.||Shaw Rt. Hon. T. (Hawick, B)|
|Helme, Norval Watson||Meagher, Michael||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Hemmerde, Edward George||Menzies, Walter||Sheehy, David.|
|Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.||Micklem, Nathaniel||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Henry, Charles S.||Molteno, Percy Alport||Silcock, Thomas Ball|
|Sinclair, Rt. Hon. John||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie||Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr||Weir, James Galloway|
|Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)||Thomasson, Franklin||Whitbread, Howard|
|Snowden, P.||Thorne, William||White, George (Norfolk)|
|Soames, Arthur Wellesley||Tomkinson, James||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Soares, Ernest J.||Torrance, Sir A. M.||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Spicer, Sir Albert||Toulmin, George||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)|
|Stanger, H. Y.||Ure, Alexander||Whittaker, Sir Thomas Palmer|
|Steadman, W. C.||Vivian, Henry||Wiles, Thomas|
|Stewart-Smith, D. (Kendal)||Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Strachey, Sir Edward||Walsh, Stephen||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Straus, B. S. (Mile End)||Walters, John Tudor||Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarth'n|
|Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon)||Walton, Sir John L. (Leeds, S.)||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh. N.)|
|Summerbell, T.||Ward, John (Stoke upon Trent)||Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)|
|Sutherland, J. E.||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampt'n||Winfrey, R.|
|Taylor, Austin (East Toxteth)||Wardle, George J.||Wood, T. M'Kinnon|
|Taylor, John W. (Durham)||Waring, Waiter||Yoxall, James Henry|
|Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)||Wason, Eugene (Clackman'n)|
|Tennant, Sir Edward (Salisbury||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr. Whiteley and Mr. J. A. Pease.|
|Tennant, H. J (Berwickshire)||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)||Watt, Henry A.|
§ SIR GILBERT PARKER (Gravesend)
moved an Amendment to exempt from the operation of the Standing Order Bills affecting the Constitution of any of the Colonies or their relations with this country. In spite of the fate of the previous Amendment he had still some hope that the Government would accept this Amendment. There had never been any great change in the Constitution of any Colony which had not been preceded by a long period of agitation. He instanced the cases of Canada and Australia, where the Colonies had had every opportunity of discussing constitutional changes from every standpoint many years before they were carried into effect. The proposals were thrashed out in presence of the public. Let them imagine a Bill for the federation of South Africa being brought to that House and being sent upstairs to a Committee. The Chancellor of the Duchy would say that the Government would naturally not send such a Bill upstairs. But the Government by their present action were putting bounds upon what might be called the liberties of private Members of the House, because in a Committee upstairs the whole House would not be represented. The Government in the proposed Standing Order said in effect: "Though Bills may go upstairs automatically, we reserve to ourselves the right to retain certain Bills, if we choose, for the consideration of the House in Committee." There were a great many in the House who thought that the power of the Executive was increasing beyond reason. To whatever Party the Government of the day might belong, he 820 thought it wholly unwise to allow it discretion to say whether Bills of this sort should be sent upstairs to the Grand Committees. As a matter of high constitutional procedure he thought it should be put on record that Bills dealing with the Constitution of the Colonies or the relations of the Colonies to the Mother Country should be reserved for the consideration of the Whole House. What would the Prime Ministers of the self-governing Colonies think if they were told that it was in the discretion of the Government in power in this country to send a Bill dealing with the Constitution of their own nation to a Commitee of eighty members upstairs, where the debates would not be reported, and where there would not be the same opportunity for the expression of divergent views as in that House? He thought that to leave this discretion to the Government of the day would be, though unintentional, an indignity to the Colonies. If the present Government would not send such Bills upstairs, did they trust future Governments not to do so? [An HON. MEMBER: Not if they are Tory.] The hon. Member below the gangway had helped him in his argument. He wanted to remove it from the discretion of any Government. We were in the fortunate position in this country of having an unwritten Constitution, but in the United States it would take seven or ten years to alter the Constitution. Bills might deal with matters vital to the welfare, the national life, and the future of the Colonies, and the House should allow no discretion whatever to the Government in such matters. If the 821 opinion of the Prime Ministers of the self-governing Colonies were asked, their reply would be in consonance with his own opinion, that questions affecting their Constitution should be reserved for the consideration of the Whole House. Bills vitally affecting the relations of this country with the Colonies should be put in that high treasury of procedure which reserved the consideration of such matters for the Whole House. He begged to move.
§ *MR. REMNANT (Finsbury, Holborn),
in seconding the Amendment, said he was afraid that the House would not accept it after the speech which the Prime Minister had made. The right hon. Gentleman had practically said that they must accept the proposed alterations as they stood, or leave them, for no Amendment moved on that side of the House would be acceptable to him or his Party. The right hon. Gentleman had forgotten what took place in the House in 1882, when Mr. Gladstone moved the appointment of two Standing Committees, one Bills relating to law and shipping, and the other for trade, commerce and manufactures Mr. Gladstone then stated that there must be some Bills dealing with Imperial Questions which it would be improper to refer to the Committees upstairs, and that ought to be retained for Committee of the Whole House. On that occasion Mr. Gladstone strongly deprecated any idea of forcing through the House by closure or otherwise any drastic changes in the Rules, and described such a course as "inexcusable and stupid." That was the very course which the Prime Minister was following that night. The Amendment of the hon. Member for Gravesend dealt with Bills affecting the constitution of the Colonies or their relations with this country.
§ *MR. REMNANT
said he included the self-governing Colonies. The Colonies were not, at the time referred to, so strongly in the minds of the people of this country as they were to-day. In a speech made at the Colonial Conference the previous day one of the Premiers said that the sittings of the Conference should be held in public in order that a cor- 822 rect statement of its proceedings should be accessible to those who lived in the Colonies; but if the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman was carried out, and such Bills were sent to a Committee upstairs, there would be no authoritative report of the proceedings. Hon. Members know how difficult it was to find out any authoritative statement as to what had taken place in Committees upstairs, and those who lived in the Colonies would find still greater difficulty. He hoped that the House and the Government would acknowledge that this was a reasonable Amendment and accept it.
In line 10, at the end, to insert the words '(c) or Bills affecting the constitution of any of the Colonies or their relations with this country.'"—(Sir Gilbert Parker.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MAJOR SEELY (Liverpool, Abercromby)
moved to insert in the Amendment after the word "their," the words "civil or military." If the Government had any intention of accepting the Amendment—and he supposed there could be no objection to that—he thought it would be better if the words he had suggested were added in order to emphasise the real reason for excluding this type of measure from being sent to a Grand Committee. It had occurred in the past that the lack of discussion on military proposals had caused difficulties in the Colonies. In Bills relating to civil and Army matters the fundamental difficulties only arose in Committee; a former Secretary for War had experience of that, the fact that the Colonial Premiers did not understand the details of the proposals made in Committee having led to some bitterness, or at any rate to some feeling. Speaking with great respect as one who had only seven years experience of the House, he thought it would be highly undesirable that an Army Bill should be discussed in Grand Committee, because all such Bills must affect all the Colonies in different degrees. It might be said that the Army Bill now before the House for the formation of a Territorial Army did not affect the Colonies, but it ultimately would have an influence on what the Colonies would do in regard to their Territorial Army. It 823 would be remembered that in 1902 the Colonial Premiers had never plainly realised the difficulties of the proposals which had been appealed to them. The one thing which had hindered our relations with the Colonies in the past had been not the lack of discussion, but the lack of publicity of that discussion.
§ MR. AUSTIN TAYLOR,
in seconding the Amendment, said he wished it had gone a little further. The hon. and gallant Member only proposed to insert the words "civil and military," but no one knew better than he the inter-dependence of the Naval and Military forces in the defence of the Colonies. He therefore suggested that his hon. and gallant friend should include "naval" as well as "civil and military" in his Amendment. He thought that in any discussions in the House affecting the defence of the Empire as a whole it was eminently desirable that the Bills should be discussed in Committee of the Whole House, and not in Committee up-stairs.
Amendment proposed to the proposed Amendment—
After the word 'their,' to insert the words civil or military.'"—(Major Seely.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted in the proposed Amendment."
§ MR. LYTTELTON (St. George's, Hanover Square)
said he would have liked the Government to have replied to the arguments in favour of the Amendment from the Opposition side of the House and from two respected adherents of their own. For his own part he thought that the really important question was whether the exemptions from the Rule should be in matters affecting the relations of the Colonies with the Imperial Government. His hon. friend the Member for Gravesend had spoken of the years of agitation which had preceded the establishment of the Dominion of Canada and of the Commonwealth of Australia, and had dwelt on the effect that would have been produced in Canada and Australia if the Bills for constituting the Dominion and the Commonwealth had been discussed not in Committee of the Whole House, but in Committee upstairs, where the Colonies would not 824 have been able to obtain any detailed information on a subject which had engaged their interest for so many years. He agreed with the hon. and gallant Member for the Abercromby Division that the really important matter was publicity. Let them take the analogous case of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council—a most august tribunal. How would that tribunal be regarded by our friends across the seas if they saw it in actual session? They would see a dusty room in which a few elderly gentlemen were gathered round a table. They would hear able arguments, but they would not consider that the great Imperial Court of the Empire was sufficiently august in appearance in dealing with matters which might affect them. Supposing an Australian were to visit this country at the time of the passage of a great constitutional measure affecting the colony, would he think it seemly or consistent with the dignity of the subject, to see a Bill which had exercised his country for five years being discussed and settled, practically irrevocably, in Committee-room No. 15 by thirty or forty Gentlemen, with no official report. That was not at all an imaginary picture by any means. Surely it would be deplorable that, while a cricket match would be reported at great length, through the cables, the details of a great constitutional measure affecting the Colonies should be relegated to a Committee upstairs.
§ MR. DALZIEL
said he could not see that there was any case made out for the exemption of Colonial Bills, because if any serious matters arose those Bills would come within the category of Bills which the Government of the day were to consider as to whether they should stay in that House or go upstairs. He could not understand the complaint with regard to the want of publicity. At the present time the proceedings in Grand Committees were reported. Reporters were admitted, and the proceedings were reported if they were of public interest. With regard to the general question of reporting, it was a question for the Government to consider whether they ought not to have official reports of these Committees. There would doubtless be many occasions when it might be necessary to refer to what had taken place in the Committees; to what the Minister in charge of a Bill upstairs had 825 said; to what was actually done and what the issue was upon which a division was taken. It was well worth consideration, therefore, whether there ought not to be an official report of all the Grand Committees. He did not think this Amendment should be accepted.
§ VISCOUNT HELMSLEY (Yorkshire, N.R., Thirsk)
said he would not have intervened if the Government had taken the more usual course on these occasions of answering the arguments urged against them not only by the Opposition but by some of their own supporters. Had it not been for the statement of the Prime Minister that it was his intention not to accept any Amendment to the proposed Standing Orders, he could not have conceived that the Government would refuse this Amendment. The hon. Member for Kirkcaldy had truly said that this Amendment was of no greater importance than other Amendments of a similar character which had been proposed. The astonishing thing to the Opposition was that the Prime Minister had not accepted the other important Amendments. The Government had great confidence in their own wisdom. That was a confidence which they could not expect the Opposition to share because it was not shared even by al members of the Government Party. The Opposition did, however, trust the Government in this matter. What they felt was that they could not say what the action of future Governments might be. The right hon. Gentleman might be able to pledge his Government not to send any Colonial Bill upstairs, but he could not pledge future Governments. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy had recently said that these Committees could not under any circumstances decide the fate of a Government. That would have to be decided later on when the question at issue came before the House on the Report Stage. If these Committees were incompetent to decide the fate of the Government, they were incompetent to deal with such important questions as were referred to in the Amendment.
§ SIR H. CAMPBELL-BANNERMAN
said he had not thought it necessary to occupy time, because he had only the same Answer that he had given over and over again. The Government could not accept any additional exceptions to the Rule. They refused them all on the same ground, that, if they put in an exception of this sort, they implied that everything else was to go to the Standing Committee, without any alternative. What the Government said was that every question must be dealt with on its merits at the time. There might be many Bills which it would not be desirable to treat otherwise than in Committee of the Whole House. With regard to the picture conjured up by the ingenuity of the late Secretary of State for the Colonies of the New Zealander sitting on a broken arch of Westminster Bridge and viewing with contempt the shabby arrangements made for dealing with Bills from his own country, he need only point out that if there was any force in the consideration it would be for a future Government to give effect to it.
MR. STANLEY WILSON (Yorkshire, E. R., Holderness)
asked for an Answer to the Question as to whether an official report would be made of the proceedings in the Committees and circulated in Hansard.
§ Proposed words there inserted in the proposed Amendment.
§ Question put, "That those words, as amended, be there inserted."
§ The House divided:—Ayes, 112; Noes, 327. (Division List No. 123.)831
|Acland-Hood, Rt. Hn. Sir Alex F||Ashley, W. W.||Banbury, Sir Frederick George|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Balcarres, Lord||Baring, Capt. Hn. G (Winchester)|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Baldwin, Alfred||Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)|
|Arnold Forster, Rt. Hn. Hugh O.||Balfour, Rt. Hn. A. J. (City Lond.)||Beach, Hn. Michael Hugh Hicks|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashf'rd||Ratcliff, Major R. F.|
|Bignold, Sir Arthur||Harrison-Broadley, Col. H. B.||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Bowles, G. Stewart||Helmsley, Viscount||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Bull, Sir William James||Hervey, F. W. F. (Bury S. Edm'ds||Rutherford, John (Lancashire)|
|Butcher, Samuel Henry||Hill, Sir Clement (Shrewsbury)||Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)|
|Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. H. M.||Houston, Robert Paterson||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edw. H.||Hunt, Rowland||Seely, Major J. B.|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Jenkins, J.||Sheffield, Sir Berkeley George D.|
|Cave, George||Kennaway, Rt. Hon. Sir John H.||Smith, Abel H. (Hertford, East)|
|Cavendish, Rt. Hon. Victor C. W.||Kenyon-Slaney, Rt. Hon. Col. W.||Smith, F. E. (Liverpool, Walton)|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Kimber, Sir Henry||Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)|
|Cecil, Lord John P. Joicey-||Lambton, Hon. Frederick Wm.||Stanley, Hon. Arthur (Ormskirk|
|Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.)||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Starkey, John R.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. J. A. (Wore||Law, Andrew Bonar (Dulwich)||Stone, Sir Benjamin|
|Cochrane, Hon. Thos. H. A. E.||Liddell, Henry||Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)|
|Corbett, T. L. (Down, North)||Lockwood, Rt. Hn. Lt. -Col. A. R.||Taylor, Austin (East Toxteth)|
|Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S).||Long, Col. Charles W. (Evesham||Thomson, W. Mitchell-Lanark)|
|Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Long, Rt. Hn. Walter (Dublin, S)||Tuke, Sir John Batty|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Lowe, Sir Francis William||Turnour, Viscount|
|Cross, Alexander||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. Alfred||Valentia, Viscount|
|Dalrymple, Viscount||MacIver, David (Liverpool)||Vincent, Col. Sir C. E. Howard|
|Dixon-Hartland, Sir Fred Dixon||M'Calmont, Colonel James||Walker, Col. W. H. (Lancashire)|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Magnus, Sir Philip||Walrond, Hon. Lionel|
|Duncan, Robert (Lanark, Govan)||Marks, H. H. (Kent)||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|Faber, George Denison (York)||Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Faber, Capt. W. V. (Hants, W.)||Meysey-Thompson, E. C.||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Fardell, Sir T. George||Mild may, Francis Bingham||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E. R.)|
|Fell, Arthur||Morpeth, Viscount||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||Muntz, Sir Philip A.||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Finch, Rt. Hon. George H.||Nicholson, Wm. G. (Peters field)||Younger, George|
|Fletcher, J. S.||Nield, Herbert|
|Forster, Henry William||Parkes, Ebenezer'||TELLERS FOB THE AYES,—|
|Gardner, Ernest (Berks, East)||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington||Sir Gilbert Parker and Mr. Remnant.|
|Hambro, Charles Eric||Percy, Earl|
|Hamilton, Marquess of||Randles, Sir John Scurrah|
|Abraham, William (Cork, N. E.)||Billson, Alfred||Collins, Sir Wm. J. (S. Pancras, W.|
|Abraham, William (Rhondda)||Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Condon, Thomas Joseph|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Black, Arthur W.||Corbett, CH (Sussex, E. Grinst'd)|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Boland, John||Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.|
|Alden, Percy||Boulton, A. C. F.||Cowan, W. H.|
|Allen, Charles P. (Stroud)||Bower man, C. W.||Cox, Harold|
|Ambrose, Robert||Brace, William||Crean, Eugene|
|Armitage, R.||Bramsdon, T. A.||Cremer, William Randal|
|Armstrong, W. C. Heaton||Branch, James||Crombie, John William|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Brigg, John||Crossley, William J.|
|Asquith, Rt.Hn. Herbert Henry||Brocklehurst, W. B.||Dalziel, James Henry|
|Astbury, John Meir||Brunner, J. F. L. (Lancs., Leigh)||Davies, David (Montgomery Co.|
|Atherley-Jones, L.||Bryce, J. Annan||Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)|
|Baker, Sir John (Portsmouth)||Buck master, Stanley O.||Davies M. Vaughan-(Cardigan|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||Burke, E. Haviland-||Davies, Timothy (Fulham)|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Davies, W. Howell (Bristol, S.)|
|Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight)||Burnyeat, W. J. D.||Delany, William|
|Barker, John||Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.)|
|Barlow, John Emmott (Somerset||Byles, William Pollard||Dickson- Poynder, Sir John P.|
|Barlow, Percy (Bedford)||Cameron, Robert||Dolan, Charles Joseph|
|Barnes, G. N.||Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Donelan, Captain A.|
|Barran, Rowland Hirst||Causton, Rt. Hn. Richard Knight||Duckworth, James|
|Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Cawley, Sir Frederick||Duncan, C (Barrow-in-Furness)|
|Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.)||Chance, Frederick William||Dunn, A. Edward (Cam borne)|
|Beauchamp, E.||Channing, Sir Francis Allston||Dunne, Major E. Martin (Walsall|
|Beck, A. Cecil||Cheetham, John Frederick||Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)|
|Bell, Richard||Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R.||Edwards, Frank (Radnor)|
|Bellairs, Carlyon||Clarke, C. Goddard||Eli bank, Master of|
|Benn, Sir J. Williams (Devonp'rt||Cleland, J. W.||Ellis, Rt. Hon. John Edward|
|Benn, W. (T' w' r Hamlets, S. Geo.||Clough, William||Erskine, David C.|
|Bennett, E. N.||Clynes, J. R.||Essex, R. W.|
|Berridge, T. H. D.||Coats, Sir T. Glen (Renfrew, W.)||Evans, Samuel T.|
|Bethell, Sir J. H. (Essex, Romf'rd||Cobbold, Felix Thornley||Everett, R. Lacey|
|Bethell, T. R. (Essex, Maldon)||Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Fenwick, Charles|
|Ferens, T. R.||Lever, W. H. (Cheshire, Wirral)||Rendall, Athelstan|
|Ffrench, Peter||Levy, Maurice||Renton, Major Leslie|
|Fiennes, Hon. Eustace||Lewis, John Herbert||Richards, T. F. Wolverh'mpt'n|
|Findlay, Alexander||Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David||Richardson, A.|
|Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter||Lough, Thomas||Ridsdale, E. A.|
|Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry||Lundon, W.||Roberts, G. H. Norwich)|
|Freeman-Thomas, Freeman||Luttrell, Hugh Fownes||Robertson, Rt. Hn. E. (Dundee)|
|Fuller, John Michael F.||Lynch, H. B.||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradf'rd|
|Fullerton, Hugh||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Robinson, S.|
|Gardner Col. Alan (Hereford, S.)||Macdonald, J. M. (FalkirkB'ghs||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Gilhooly, James||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Rowlands, J.|
|Gill, A. H.||Macpherson, J. T.||Runciman, Walter|
|Ginnell, L.||MacVeagh, Jeremiah (Down, S.||Samuel, Herbert L. (Cleveland)|
|Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert John||MacVeigh, Charles (Donegal, E.)||Schwann, C. Duncan (Hyde)|
|Glendinning, R. G.||M'Callum, John M.||Schwann, Sir C. E. (Manchester)|
|Glover, Thomas||M'Crae, George||Scars, J. E.|
|Grant, Corrie||M'Hugh, Patrick A.||Seaverns, J. H.|
|Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||M'Kenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Seddon, J.|
|Gulland, John W.||M'Laren, H. D. (Stafford, W.)||Shaw, Charles Edw. (Stafford)|
|Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton||M'Micking, Major G.||Shaw, Rt. Hon. T. (Hawick, B.)|
|Gwynn, Stephen Lucius||Maddison, Frederick||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Hall, Frederick||Manfield, Harry (Northants)||Sheehy, David|
|Halpin, J.||Markham, Arthur Basil||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Harcourt, Right Hon. Lewis||Marks G. Croydon (Launceston)||Silcock, Thomas Ball|
|Hardy, George A. (Suffolk)||Marnham, F. J.||Sinclair, Rt. Hon. John|
|Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Worc'r)||Massie, J.||Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie|
|Harrington, Timothy||Masterman, C. F. G.||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Hart-Davies, T.||Meagher, Michael||Snowden, P.|
|Harwood, George||Menzies, Walter||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Micklem, Nathaniel||Soares, Ernest J.|
|Haworth, Arthur A.||Mond, A.||Spicer, Sir Albert|
|Hedges, A. Paget||Montagu, E. S.||Stanger, H. Y.|
|Hemmerde, Edward George||Mooney, J. J.||Steadman, W. C.|
|Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||Stewart-Smith, D. (Kendal)|
|Henry, Charles S.||Morley, Rt. Hon. John||Straus, B. S. (Mile End)|
|Herbert, Colonel Ivor (Mon., S.)||Morse, L. L.||Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon)|
|Herbert, T. Arnold (Wycombe)||Myer, Horatio||Summerbell, T.|
|Higham, John Sharp||Napier, T. B.||Sutherland, J. E.|
|Hobart, Sir Robert||Newnes, F, (Notts, Bassetlaw)||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Hobhouse, Charles E. H.||Nicholls, George||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Hodge, John||Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncast'r||Tennant, H. J. (Berwiekshire)|
|Hogan, Michael||Nolan, Joseph||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)|
|Holden, E. Hopkinson||Norton, Capt. Cecil William||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Holt, Richard Burning||Nuttall, Harry||Thomas, David Alfred (Merthyr)|
|Hope, John Deans (Fife, West)||O'Brien, Kendal (Tipperary Mid.||Thomasson, Franklin|
|Hope, W. Bateman (Somerset, N.||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Thompson, J. W. H. (Somerset, E|
|Horniman, Emslie John||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Tomkinson, James|
|Horridge, Thomas Gardner||O'Doherty, Philip||Torrance, Sir A. M.|
|Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||O'Donnell, C. J. (Walworth)||Ure, Alexander|
|Hudson, Walter||O'Dowd, John||Verney, F. W.|
|Hutton, Alfred Eddison||O'Grady, J.||Vivian, Henry|
|Hyde, Clarendon||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.||Walsh, Stephen|
|Illingworth, Percy H.||Parker, James (Halifax)||Walters, John Tudor|
|Jackson, R. S.||Partington, Oswald||Walton, Sir John L. (Leeds, S.)|
|Jacoby, Sir James Alfred||Paulton, James Mellor||Ward, John (Stoke upon Trent)|
|Johnson, W. (Nuneaton)||Pearce, Robert (Staffs. Leek)||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton|
|Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea||Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Wardle, George J.|
|Jones, Leif (Appteby)||Pearson, W. H. M. (Suffolk, Eye)||Waring, Walker|
|Jones, William (Carnarvonshire||Philipps, Col. Ivor (S'thampton)||Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan)|
|Jowett, F. W.||Philipps, J. Wynford (Pembroke||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Joyce, Michael||Philipps, Owen C. (Pembroke)||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Kearley, Hudson E.||Pickersgill, Edward Hare||Watt, Henry A.|
|Kekewich, Sir George||Pirie, Duncan V.||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Power, Patrick Joseph||Weir, James Galloway|
|Kincaid-Smith, Captain||Price, Robert John (Norfolk, E.)||Whitbread, Howard|
|King, Alfred John (Knutsford)||Priestley, W. E. B.(Bradford, E.)||White, George (Norfolk)|
|Kitson, Rt. Hon. Sir James||Pullar, Sir Robert||White, Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Laidlaw, Robert||Rainy, A. Rolland||White Patrick (Meath North)|
|Lamb, Ernest H. (Rochester)||Raphael, Herbert H.|
|Lambert, George||Rea, Russell (Gloucester)||Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)|
|Lamont, Norman||Redmond John E. (Waterford)||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Lehmann, R. C.||Redmond, William (Clare)||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Lever, A. Levy (Essex, Harwich)||Rees, J. D.||Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarth'n|
|Williams, Osmond (Merioneth)||Winfrey, R.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr.|
|Wilson, J. W. (Worcestersh, N.)||Wood, T. M'Kinnon||Whiteley and Mr. J. A. Pease.|
|Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)||Yoxall, James Henry|
§ *EARL PERCY
moved the Amendment (standing in the name of the hon. Member for the Central Division of Hull) to except from the operation of the Rule Bills affecting the government and administration of India. The Prime Minister had stated so explicitly that he would accept no further exceptions to the Rule that he moved the Amendment with some hesitation. But he moved it with the object of obtaining some expression of opinion from the right hon. Gentleman opposite, who had been closely connected with the administration of India, as to the expediency or inexpediency of referring Indian Bills to the new Committees. There were circumstances which differentiated Bills affecting India from the kind of Bill the House had now been discussing. Nobody pretended that the legislative interests of India had suffered under the existing system. Secretaries of State for India had not been great legislators in the past, measures which had been recommended by the Indian Government had waited for sixty years before Secretaries of State had been found ready and willing to embody them in Bills. Bills affecting India were never controversial, at all events in a Party sense; any attempt to obstruct such Bills would be regarded as a scandal, and practically there was no difficulty, however late it was in the session, in getting these Indian Bills through the House and passed into law. In that respect they enjoyed exceptional facilities already. Moreover, India was not represented in the House, and the great advantage of discussions in Committee of the Whole House was that they got the benefit of the knowledge of those who were practically acquainted with the affairs of India from personal experience. Nothing could be more inappropriate than to send these Bills to a Committee upstairs, composed on a Party basis, where proceedings were not reported, or not reported fully, and where they had no absolute guarantee that they would secure the presence of those who were conversant with the problems involved. The withdrawal of Indian Bills from the House would constitute a serious departure from precedent, and would be understood in India, he thought, as 832 implying even greater impatience in that House of Indian affairs than was imputed to them at present. On these grounds he hoped that the right hon. Gentleman would at all events make this one exception to the rule.
''In line 10, at the end, to insert the words, '(c) or Bills affecting the (Government and administration of India.'"—(Earl Percy.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ *SIR HENRY FOWLER
said the Prime Minister had already stated the intention of the Government to allow no exception whatever. The question as to whether a Bill should be referred to a Standing Committee or to the Whole House would have to be settled on its own merits. The Secretary of State for the time being would be the best judge as to whether there should be any departure from the ordinary course of procedure. Legislation with respect to India was exceedingly limited. With one exception in the last ten years Indian business had consisted of financial arrangements for the issue of loans and other matters, which had been very fully discussed in the House, but by a very limited number of Members. There would be no injury done to India by this Rule. The Government could not consent to any exception. Each question must be dealt with at the time, and in the circumstances of the time, having regard to the opinion of the House and of the country.
§ Question put, and negatived.
§ SIR E. CARSON
then moved to add the words "Where a Bill has been committed under the foregoing provision of this Standing Order, a Member shall have the same right of speaking on the consideration of the Report of such Committee as if the Bill was before a Committee of the Whole House." He regretted exceedingly, he said, that the Prime Minister, through no fault of his own, was unable to be present while he dealt with this Amendment Anybody who had followed the 833 course of the proceedings upon these Procedure Resolutions would not wonder that he moved this Amendment, nor could he help expressing considerable regret at the way in which the Prime Minister had acted in reference to the question. When he was in the House yesterday he heard the Leader of the Opposition challenge the Prime Minister directly with an absolute breach of faith in connection with this Amendment, and from that time to this the Prime Minister had never denied the charge. That was not a pleasant state of things to exist. He did not mind so much that the right hon. Gentleman had never denied the charge, but he thought that he might at least have given some explanation of the course he had taken. Whether they would have an explanation he did not know, but at all events he did not think that they would have it from the Prime Minister himself. So far as he was concerned he would have preferred that anything unpleasant which he had to say should have been said in the presence of the Prime Minister rather than in his absence. His Amendment was a perfectly plain and distinct one, and had exactly the same meaning to-day that it had on Thursday. He would add that anything that he might say would have the same meaning to-morrow that it had to-day. It was a cheap way of getting rid of Amendments to make promises when those promises were not kept. It was, after all, only a difference, as had been pointed out, between a statement and an intention; but he would be able to show that they had both the statement and the intention. The necessity for the Amendment arose from the fact that everybody admitted that the House on some stage of a Bill ought to have absolutely free discussion as to its details, and it was with a view to obtaining that discussion that he had put down his Amendment; and he believed it was with that view that the Prime Minister originally accepted it. He appealed to the generosity of the Government, which they knew to be one of their supremest qualities, to inform them as to the manner in which these Committees would work as regarded the minority, which was of very small proportions at the present time. He knew that some hon. and right hon. Gentlemen thought that the smaller the minority the more they ought 834 to be gagged. On some of the Committees the minority would not be able to be represented at all, or at any rate very inadequately. If that was so, surely there was all the more reason that when a measure came from Committee to the House, they should have an opportunity of discussing it just as if the Committee Rules applied. He believed that any Members who had taken part in Committee work would agree that the way in which the House and country got educated in the details and real effect of any Bill was by discussions in Committee. If the House was not satisfied with his statement on that point he could refer them to the statement of the Prime Minister on Thursday last. He did not want to take out of the speech of the Prime Minister anything that was not in it. The Prime Minister said—There was an Amendment standing in the name of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Dublin University, which said:—'Where a Bill has been committed under the foregoing provision of this Standing Order a Member shall have the same right of speaking on the consideration of the Report of such Committee as if the Bill was before a Committee of the Whole House.'Then the Prime Minister went on to say—That would give the House in the case of a Bill considered upstairs the power to discuss it as if they were in Committee. Without binding himself to the exact words of this Amendment, the Government were perfectly willing to accept it in spirit.The spirit of that Amendment was that the right hon. Gentleman would give the House in the case of a Bill considered upstairs the power to discuss it as if they were in Committee. Proceeding, the right hon. Gentleman said—Therefore there ought not to be so much apprehension as there appeared to be that the Government wished to impose undue restrictions to the powers of the House itself.Later on in the debate the Prime Minister said—While all other Amendments of the kind were to be rejected, his Amendment he was prepared to accept.The Prime Minister made that statement after fuller consideration, and later on he stated that—He had already said that the Government would enlarge the liberties and privileges of Members on the Report stage.835 Had the Prime Minister accepted the spirit of his Amendment? He had provided that two Members of the House should have the right to discuss a Bill as if they were in Committee. It was probably a terminological inexactitude in which the right hon. Gentleman used the word "House" as meaning two Members of it. He denied that that was accepting the spirit of his Amendment. On the contrary it was killing the spirit, and leaving them a mere corpse. The facts were there recorded, and he would await with interest the explanation. The Prime Minister, referring to himself in the course of the debate, stated that he could not understand the ingratitude of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the University of Dublin in not rising at once and proclaiming how pleased he was that he should be honoured by the Prime Minister, and singled out as one whose Amendment would be accepted. He congratulated himself upon possessing in this case a prophetic instinct that it would be far better to wait for the performance of Liberal promises before expressing gratitude for them. He ventured to say that in the annals of their debates the right about-face of the Prime Minister upon this question was almost unparalleled. He begged to move.
In line 10, at the end, to insert the words, 'Where a Bill has been committed under the foregoing provision of this Standing Order, a Member shall have the same right of speaking on the consideration of the Report of such Committee as if the Bill was before a Committee of the Whole House.'"—(Sir E. Carson.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
§ MR. MCKENNA (Monmouthshire, N.)
said the right hon. Gentleman, who knew that the report he had read was a most incomplete and inadequate statement of the speech of the Prime Minister, had chosen to base himself upon some garbled extracts, which were not, in fact, the whole of the reported speech, in order to substantiate this very absurd charge of breach of faith. [MINISTERIAL cries of "Oh, oh."] The right hon. Gentleman was in the House when the Prime Minister made that speech, and he must have heard every word of it.
§ MR. MCKENNA
said that at any rate the right hon. Gentleman heard the Prime Minister use his arguments in favour of accepting his Amendment in spirit. The argument which the Prime Minister used was that very strong objection had been taken by the Leader of the Opposition to the fact that if a Bill was discussed in the House only on Report, the Minister in charge would be under great disadvantage if he were not allowed to speak twice. The Prime Minister could not, on that Amendment, elaborate the argument for or against the words put forward by the right hon. and learned Gentleman. But his right hon. friend threw out as an offer to hon. Gentlemen opposite, basing himself on the views of the Leader of the Opposition, that he would accept in principle the Amendment of the right hon. and learned Gentleman. If his memory served him right, the Prime Minister went further than that, and referred to the fact that during the Committee stage of a Bill it was very rare indeed that a private Member, unless it happened to be the hon. Member who moved the Amendment, desired to speak more than once. That was the view of the Prime Minister, and certainly he had that in view when he spoke of accepting the Amendment of the right hon. and learned Member opposite in principle. What had the Prime Minister done? The fact was that the argument of the Leader of the Opposition in favour of the Minister in charge speaking twice was a very powerful one. The Prime Minister had also in mind the fact that the mover and seconder of an Amendment were very often placed at a disadvantage, if they were dealing with a complicated and difficult matter, in not being able to speak more than once, especially if the Minister in charge of the Bill gave a perfunctory answer without dealing with the merits of the case. It might also be that in such a case it was only the mover of the Amendment who had sufficient knowledge to inform the House that the reply given was insufficient, and it was necessary that he should be able to speak a second time. Those were the views of the Prime Minister, and these were the only cases which had to be met. [OPPOSITION 837 cries of "No, no."] He challenged any hon. Member opposite who had had experience of the protracted Committee stages of Bills in the House to deny the accuracy of his statement when he said that it was a rare occurrence that any hon. Member desired or attempted to speak more than once during the discussion of an Amendment on the Report stage. That was a matter of fact which could easily be fortified by a reference to the debates. He had had ten years experience in the House, and his statement was justified by that experience. The Prime Minister, desirous of meeting the views of hon. Members opposite and of meeting the particular difficulties of the case, did make the promise, and he submitted to the House that the right hon. Gentleman had fulfilled that promise in the most complete form. [OPPOSITION cries of "Oh, oh."] Hon. Gentlemen opposite need not imagine that they were to be moved by those shouts of "Oh." He remembered that in the last Parliament if any argument was raised on the opposite side of the House which could get no answer from the Government, the Prime Minister of the day used to come down and charge hon. Members on the Opposition side with making a personal imputation on the honour of Members. Now that hon. Gentlemen were themselves sitting on the Opposition side the tune was different. Now they had constant allegations of breach of faith. Neither one statement nor the other had the slightest foundation in fact. When hon. Gentlemen were bankrupt in argument there was nothing to rely on except these absurd charges. [Cries of "Oh."] On the merits of the proposal of the right hon. and learned Gentleman it was obvious that it went much beyond the needs of the case. What was proposed by the Prime Minister provided that the mover of an Amendment and the Member in charge of a Bill should have the right to speak as if they were in Committee of the Whole House. He thought sufficient had been done to meet the necessities of the case. The Prime Minister had not only fully carried out the promise which he made, but he had gone further and introduced the Amendment in a form which would be most satisfactory in the working of the Rules of the House.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said the right hon. Gentleman who had just spoken had misrepresented, unintentionally what occurred the other night; he had misrepresented what occurred in the last Parliament. He never recollected a case, which the right hon. Gentleman seemed to think Occurred so frequently, in which he was charged with breach of faith, and he certainly remembered no case in which that charge could properly be made. Whenever there was, as was inevitable, an occasion of misunderstanding between the two sides of the House, his invariable practice was to give way on the point, because he thought that nothing was worse for the House than that doubt should arise on the assurances given by Ministers with regard to the conduct of business. Those were not the principles of the present occupants of the Treasury Bench. [MINISTERIAL cries of "Withdraw."] They were not the principles on what that bench now acted. The thing was really beyond dispute. It must be remembered that in the fullest and most explicit manner he stated, yesterday, exactly what their feeling was upon this point, and the grounds which justified that feeling. The Prime Minister had an opportunity of replying, of making a personal explanation if he wished to do so, of giving an answer in the ordinary course of debate, and he remained silent. And if he had nothing better to say than what had just been said on his behalf by the Minister for Education, he was bound to say he thought the Prime Minister was well advised. He pointed out yesterday that, not only had they on that side of the House taken the obvious view of the Prime Minister's promise, but that his own supporter in the person of the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy had also taken the same obvious view.
§ MR. MCKENNA
The right hon. Gentleman has referred to my hon. friend the Member for Kirkcaldy. He probably has forgotten the fact that the Prime Minister was not in the House when my hon. friend spoke.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
said he did not know whether the right hon. Gentleman was right in his recollection or not, but it did not touch the essence of his argument. The point of 839 his argument was that the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy represented many of the supporters of the Prime Minister, and when they had this universal recollection of what the Prime Minister said, and they had that recollection confirmed by the reports in the Press the next day, what was in the use of trying to gloss over as the right hon. Gentleman tried to gloss over, the real purport of the Prime Minister's statement? The Prime Minister's pledge went far beyond that of dealing with the particular argument he had put forward as to the unfair position in which the Minister in charge of a Bill was placed on the Report stage, and the right hon. Gentleman's Amendment now on the Paper went beyond dealing with that argument. But he frankly admitted that it was not so much with the merits or demerits of the Amendment as with the pledge that the Prime Minister gave that he was concerned, and nobody who heard his successive speeches would have the hardihood to get up and say that the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy, that his right hon. friend near him, and that he himself were all wrong in their recollection of what that pledge was.
§ MR. EVERETT (Suffolk, Woodbridge)
said that he heard the Prime Minister's speech and the speech of the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy, and he felt very strongly that the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy was exaggerating very greatly what the Prime Minister said.
§ MR. A. J. BALFOUR
asked whether the hon. Member did not hear the Prime Minister say quite distinctly that he was going to give the Members of the House the privileges on Report that they possessed in Committee. The right hon. Gentleman said so. [An HON. MEMBERS "No."] He heard him say go; the right hon. Gentleman was reported in The Times to have said so, and he did not believe it was open to, or capable of, doubt.
§ MR A. J. BALFOUR
replied that, in the first speech, which, he supposed, was the most operative one, the Prime Minister, after quoting the words of his 840 right hon. and learned friend's Amendment, said—That would give the House, in the case of a Bill considered upstairs, the power to discuss it as if they were in Committee.Therefore, the Prime Minister knew exactly what the proposition said and what was the spirit of it, the spirit of his own definition, and he went on to say—Without binding himself to the exact words of this Amendment, the Government were perfectly willing to accept it in spirit.The right hon. Gentleman spoke at least twice after that, and he made no qualification of that statement. Why, even the present Government would hang a criminal on that evidence. What influence had made the Prime Minister go back on this clear and undoubted statement he could not imagine, but he ventured to think that it would be to the credit of right hon. Gentlemen opposite, and in accordance with the best traditions of the management of business in the House, and of the highest traditions of Parliamentary practice and principle, if they retraced the step so hastily made, and did that now which only last Thursday the Prime Minister so clearly and explicitly told the House it was his intention to do.
§ SIR HENRY FOWLER
said he was present in the House and had a conversation with the Prime Minister before his right hon. friend made the speech referred to. The Prime Minister referred to the speech which the Leader of the Opposition had made, and said to him that the argument in that speech had made a very great impression upon him, and that he found a great deal of force in it. Unfortunately the Prime Minister could not be present just then, and the Government had anticipated that this Amendment would have come on much earlier in the afternoon. He would, however, read to the House what was the argument of the Leader of the Opposition that had left an impression on the Prime Minister's mind. The right hon. Gentleman said—I have had a long and painful experience of carrying controversial Bills through the House, and if the Committee will allow me I will explain exactly where I think the difficulty would occur on the Report stage. A Member gets up and moves an Amendment; possibly he may not be a very experienced Parliamentarian, not improbably he may not know the full strength of the case which may be made 841 for his Amendment. Now the House always insists that as soon as an Amendment is moved or, at any rate, very soon after an Amendment is moved, the Member of the Government in charge of the Bill, or one of his colleagues, shall get up and say what line the Government mean to take upon it. Now, if the Member in charge of the Bill knows his business he will not make a longer or more elaborate reply than the case so far made in the House seems to warrant. He probably knows that a great deal more may be said in favour of the Amendment than has been said; but he would be foolish if he suggested these new topics for discussion. He always hopes (sometimes against hope) that the real importance of the matter will escape his critics, and he frames his answer so as to be adequate, but not more than adequate, to the case that has been made. On the Report stage, when he has done that, he has exhausted his right of speaking. Then somebody else gets up on the other side of the House, who makes the case which ought to have been made, but was not made at first. The attack develops along the whole line; and the unfortunate Minister in charge of the Bill, although by the courtesy of the House he is sometimes allowed to speak again, always speaks again under the greatest difficulty, because it would be very bad taste to introduce the smallest controversial aspect into a speech which is only made by favour, and not by right. The briefest indication of his real reply is all he feels entitled to give. It is quite true that in the case of a difficult Bill the Minister in charge has aids and assistants, and they can do something to help him, but I believe that difficult Bill can only be steered by one man, and that though the assistance he gets is very important, the responsibility rests upon the Minister really in charge of the Bill, who knows what has been said, who understands the temper of the House, who is prepared to make concessions, if they have to be made, and who knows how far they can be made without damaging the principle of the Bill. To limit that Minister in the extraordinarily difficult situation which may arise on a controlled Bill to a single opportunity of expressing his views upon each Amendment is really to put him in an impossible position. I would go the length of saying that if you are really going to send controversial Bills up to Grand Committees, and therefore compel them to be fully discussed when they come down on the Report stage, you must make an exception in favour of the Member, be he Minister or be he private individual, who is in charge of the Bill, and allow him to speak twice.That was the contention of the Leader of the Opposition which had impressed the Prime Minister's mind, and his right hon. friend asked him if there was any objection to meeting that case. The Prime Minister said to him—and he thought that the right hon. Gentleman also said it to the House—that without pledging himself to any particular form of words he accepted that principle. [Cries of "In spirit."] The spirit was expressed in the words which he had 842 quoted, and which the Prime Minister himself had quoted. The House was very jealous of strict faith being kept in such matters; but this was not in the nature of a transaction across the floor of the House. It was a voluntary statement made by the Prime Minister and was in no sense a bargain. What was in the Prime Minister's mind was that when the Report stage was reached on a vital question the Minister in charge was put to a great disadvantage by being allowed to speak only once. This Amendment was calculated to give the Minister or Prime Minister an opportunity of speaking more than once, and the Member who moved the Amendment to speak more than once. He very much regretted the absence of the Prime Minister, who had expected this question to come on much earlier, and he was surprised to hear what had been said about his absence.
§ *SIR HENRY FOWLER
said two right hon. Gentlemen opposite had used language which he thought they all knew that the Prime Minister did not deserve. [Some OPPOSITION cries of "No."] The hon. Member said "No," but the House of Commons was proud of the Prime Minister, and "breach of faith" were very ugly words. There must be two parties to a breach of faith, but there was no second party in this case. Although he felt very jealously for the Prime Minister, he believed that there had been a misconception in the minds of hon. Gentlemen opposite, and he very much regretted that this discussion had taken place.
§ MR. LYTTELTON
said that, as one who had a profound concern for the dignity and honour of the House and for good fellowship between the two sides of the House, which had considerably increased since the meeting of this Parliament, he wished to put one consideration to right hon. Gentlemen opposite. He and his friends were perfectly ready to accept the explanation which had been given of the intention of the Prime Minister; but the point was not what was the intention of the Prime Minister in his discussions with his colleagues, but what were his words used in the House, what was the impression he conveyed to 843 the House, and what was understood by the House on both sides. The Prime Minister was most unhappily obscure in his expression and statement of his case. It could not be denied that in substance—for he did not wish to quibble about words—the Prime Minister promised that the House should enjoy the same privileges on Report as in Committee. Would any hon. Gentleman say that that was not a plain and reasonable interpretation of his words? He might not have meant it, but he said it.
§ MR. LYTTELTON
said that the Minister for Education declared that the Prime Minister did not quite say it, but he said it in as plain words as could be, and it was so accepted by Members universally on that side of the House and by the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy. Let him put the matter plainly to hon. Members. It was granted that the Prime Minister should be absolved from any intention to deceive the House in making that statement, and he absolved him from any breach of faith in the matter. But what was the position now, when the Members of the Government present knew in the absence of the Prime Minister that the words which the right hon. Gentleman used in point of fact had the effect of deceiving the Opposition? Knowing that, would they not make themselves guilty of a breach of faith if they persisted in the course of conduct which they were pursuing? A man might say a rash thing which he could not afterwards justify, but after the full consequences of the words used by the Prime Minister had been pointed out, and when not a single Member, even on the other side of the House, could say that it was not a reasonable interpretation which they placed on them, for the Government to insist upon taking advantage of that which the Opposition conceded as the result of the speech was to be guilty of conduct which showed that an attempt was being made to act unreasonably in regard to a statement which did in point of fact deceive Members on that side of the House. 844 According to the best traditions of the House the Government ought not to persist in retaining an advantage so secured.
§ MR. EVANS
said he was very glad that he was not in the House when the Prime Minister made his speech, and therefore he could not indulge in references to what were the Prime Minister's exact words, but he did very much regret that the time of the House had been taken up for an hour or so in bandying across the floor charges and accusations which in private life not one of the speakers would have ventured to make against the Prime Minister. In his opinion the House was not at its best when the Leader of the Opposition in a fierce tone and on an occasion of this kind threw out a charge against the Prime Minister, that he was guilty not of having made a mistake, not of a mistaken apprehension, but of a breach of faith, which charge had been repeated in a much milder tone by the right hon. Gentleman who had just sat down. The last speaker had indeed said that, not only was the Prime Minister guilty of a breach of faith, but Members on that side were also guilty of a breach of faith in supporting the Government in their present attitude. He was perfectly certain that if the Prime Minister had been there and had got up and said that he did not remember the exact words he used, or that he did not think he used the words which were attributed to him, or that he was not correctly reported, or that they did not convey the impression which was in his mind, the whole of this discussion would have been avoided. His supporters who believed in the Prime Minister and were very much attached to his personality resented these accusations. It was, of course, a great pity that the Prime Minister was not there to meet the allegations which had been made and to explain the passage which had been mentioned. But surely it was enough for the colleagues of the Prime Minister who were in his confidence, and who knew the communications passing between one Minister to another, to get up and say in the House that the Prime Minister never intended to give such a pledge at all. He was quite sure that in private life, or even in the lobby, if a misunderstanding of the kind occurred, the moment it was explained that it was not intended to 845 state what was then contended for, the parties would shake hands and there would be an end of the matter. That was why he was very pleased that he did not hear the speech of the Prime Minister, because it enabled him to bring an open mind to bear on the subject. He was not present when the speech was made, and, like the Leader of the Opposition, he hardly ever opened a newspaper, but he had heard the extract from the report in The Times read in the House. The Times, of course, was the newspaper which reported the Parliamentary debates host of all among the newspapers, and everyone would admit how marvelously accurate the reports were considering the amount of condensation that the reporters had to carry out. But The Times newspaper was not infallible, and from the report of The Times it was clear that the Prime Minister by using the phrase "without binding myself to the exact words" of the Amendment said he would meet it in the spirit. That being so he should have thought that what he authorised his colleagues there to state would have been amply sufficient to satisfy hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite. He would like to turn the current of the discussion from that particular topic which was not decisive of any principle before the House. He regretted that the Leader of the Opposition had been unwilling to grant the Ministerial Bench the same adherence to political principle as that which the right hon. Gentleman himself had formerly claimed, and to stick up for the honour and influence of Parliament in the carrying on of business. He thought that the Amendment went too far, although there was a great deal to be said for the view put forward by the Chancellor of the Duchy. The Amendment not only gave a right of reply to a Minister in charge of a Bill, but it gave a great deal more. It made it possible that every Member should speak as often as he liked. He thought it was undesirable that a Member should be able to speak on the Report stage as often as he could speak in Committee. The tendency of late years had been to move on Report practically every Amendment which was moved in Committee, and the only difference was that Members could speak but once. He thought in the interests of business that 846 to have the debate in Committee repeated on the Report stage, and to give the right of unlimited speech to every Member was undesirable.
§ MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
said he could not allow the speech of the hon. Gentleman to pass without comment. The hon. Member had made a personal appeal in regard to the acceptance or not of the word of a Minister of the Crown. No one challenged any statement made either by the Prime Minister or on his authority as to the intentions he meant to convey to the House. But the point was that the right hon. Gentleman did convoy something different from the words that were used. The Hansard Report—a proof of which he had in his hand—bore out The Times report, confirming and corroborating it; and their contention was that if the Prime Minister used the wrong words and created the wrong impression the error should have been corrected on the spot. One of the phrases used was that—The terms of the Amendment might be improved, but the Government were perfectly willing to accept the spirit of the Amendment.Then the Leader of the Opposition pointed out that it was evident the Report stage would become the Committee stage, so that the misapprehension of the Prime Minister's intention was patent the moment that the right hon. Gentleman sat down. The statement was repeated by the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy after the Prime Minister had left the House, but in the presence of the President of the Board of Education. Yet neither the Prime Minister nor the President of the Board of Education took the trouble to correct the prevailing misapprehension. The intentions of Ministers could only be judged by their public statements, and if these public statements gave colour to a false impression they ought to be corrected at the earliest opportunity.
§ MR. STUART WORTLEY (Sheffield, Hallam)
said, with reference to the contention of the President of the Board of Education that it was a rare thing for Members not in charge of a Bill or of an Amendment to speak more than once in Committee on a single question, that he found on referring to a volume of Hansard which he had taken at random—that for 4th to 19th November, 847 1902, and covering only a fortnight of Parliamentary time—that in the debates on the Education Bill of that year recorded in that volume there were three interesting instances of Members of the Party opposite speaking more than once in Committee. Those were the cases of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Forest of Dean (at page 162), the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Trade (at page 434), and the right hon. Gentleman himself, the President of the Board of Education (at page 179).
And, it being a quarter-past Eight of the clock, and there being Private Business set down by direction of the Chairman of Ways and Means under Standing Order No. 8, further Proceeding was postponed without Question put.