HC Deb 21 March 1907 vol 171 cc1203-4

I rise to move the adjournment of the House. In doing so I would say that the House will meet on Saturday for the purpose of getting the Speaker out of the Chair on the Civil Service Estimates. I have another announcement to make, which I hope the House will allow me to make, upon this occasion. It is with reference to the Channel Tunnel Bill. A noble friend of mine, some time ago, said he would ask a Question in another place as to the policy of the Government in the matter. This question has been fixed for to-day. Yesterday the hon. Member for the Limehouse Division of Tower Hamlets had a Question upon the Paper to the same effect. I will now inform the House the course the Government intend to pursue in regard to the Channel Tunnel Bill. I asked my hon. friend to postpone his Question until to-day in order that the information might be given in the two Houses at the same time. Events, however, have occurred to-day which put Questions out of the question. I have thought it would not be respectful to the House if any information on this subject were given in one House and not in the other. Therefore, if the House will allow me, I will give the Answer:—"His Majesty's Government fully recognise the deep concern felt in this matter, and have no other desire than to take the House fully into their confidence, even in anticipation of the early stages of the Bill. Briefly I may say that our view of the public interest leads us to be opposed to this project of a tunnel. Even supposing the military dangers involved were to be amply guarded against, there would exist throughout the country a feeling of insecurity which might lead to

a constant demand for increased expenditure, naval and military, and a continual risk of unrest and possibly alarm, which, however unfounded, would be most injurious in its effect, whether political or commercial. On the other hand, there has not been disclosed any such prospect of advantage to the trade and industries of the country as would compensate for those evils. As to the personal convenience of passengers and the transit of light articles, it seems well that further consideration should be given to other means of conveyance, such as are used in the ferries across great channels of the sea in other parts of the world. These considerations lead us, while rejoicing in anything that facilitates free communication with our neighbours, to view this project with disfavour."

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—(Sir H. Campbell-Bannerman.)


As regards the last part of the right hon. Gentleman's statement I do not need discuss it. I may, however, be permitted to express, on my own behalf and on behalf of right hon. and hon. Members on this side of the House, great satisfaction at the declaration of policy which His Majesty's Government have just made. As regards the first part of the right hon. Gentleman's statement, which deals with more immediate affairs, I understand that he will put down a Motion to be taken at 12 o'clock to-morrow with regard to the Saturday sitting, and that if a Saturday sitting is agreed to by the House, the proposal is to get the Speaker out of the Chair and to take no further business.

Adjourned accordingly at twenty-four minutes before Six o'clock on Thursday afternoon.