HC Deb 22 March 1907 vol 171 cc1305-11

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do meet To-morrow at Twelve of the clock, and that on conclusion of Government Business Mr. Speaker do adjourn the House without Question put."—(Sir H. Campbell-Bannerman.)

SIR A. ACLAND-HOOD (Somerset, Wellington)

said that before the debate on this Motion was taken he thought the House ought to have some information as to the business to be taken next week. They proposed to divide against the Motion as a protest against the great inconvenience that a Saturday sitting caused to Members and officials of the House. One thing which made him smile was that only on Thursday last week the Prime Minister told them he did not wish to use the power of the Government in any tyrannical way. He did not know what the Prime Minister's idea of tyranny was, but, to his simple mind, keeping the House sitting continuously for twenty-seven hours, and following that by a Saturday sitting, after the number of occasions on which the so-called eleven o'clock rule had been already sus- pended this session, seemed to be a fair sample of tyranny. One reason they were told it was necessary to get the Consolidated Fund Bill through by Thursday night was that it was impossible to get the Royal Assent as quickly as usual. That Bill went through all stages in another place yesterday evening, and he wanted to know by what mysterious process the Royal Assent had been obtained? Was it done by wireless telegraphy or telepathy? The House was really entitled to an answer on that point, because only yesterday the Prime Minister said he had to take the Bill as rapidly as possible for that particular reason. He awaited with great interest the right hon. Gentleman's explanation of the way he was able to carry out these things so expeditiously.

THE PRIME MINISTER AND FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Sir H. Campbell-Bannerman, Stirling Burghs)

The right hon. Gentleman has genially raised several points on which I will endeavour to give him satisfaction as far as I can. As to the mysterious way in which the Royal Assent has been procured at very short notice, I am a tyro, and cannot very well explain, but I would refer the right hon. Gentleman to others who can explain—the right hon. Gentleman's own colleagues, who for many years pursued the same mysterious method that has been adopted to-day. The right hon. Gentleman has referred to my deprecation of any attempt to use the power of the Government such as it is tyrannically. I must remind the right hon. Gentleman that, at the very moment I said that, I was conveying an important concession by the Government to the wishes of the Opposition. That is a proof that the Government are not tyrannical, because we were at once yielding to the plaintive request of the oppressed political Party sitting opposite. I hope that the events of the last few days will leave no bitterness behind. With regard to the business which the Government contemplate—I must make this statement only provisionally, there can be no pledge, only a forecast we intend to devote Monday and Tuesday to procedure, and if we conclude that on Tuesday the Motion for the adjournment over Easter will be moved on Wednesday.

MR. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN (Worcestershire, E.)

hoped nothing that would fall from his lips would disturb the happy harmony which had been secured by the general tone of the last two speeches. But he must call the attention of the House to the position in which they stood. They were to have a Saturday in lieu of the Thursday sitting which lapsed owing to the dispute of Wednesday night. The whole difficulty in which the House found itself arose out of the decision of the Government being made known to the Opposition only at the moment when they actually entered upon the consideration of the Consolidated Fund Bill on Wednesday last.


No, no.


The Patronage Secretary to the Treasury contradicts me. Did he give any public notice of his intention to proceed with the Bill that night?


The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Wellington Division sent me a message in the afternoon that if we proposed to proceed that night with both the Army Annual Bill and the Consolidated Fund Bill there would be a very great row. My answer was that we did propose to do so, and that we should have to surfer the row.


thought it was scarcely worth the while of the Patronage Secretary to contradict him in order to get in that explanation. It was clear there was no public notice. The Prime Minister had described himself as a mere tyro in methods of Parliamentary procedure—


Not in matters of Parliamentary procedure generally, but in this particular method of getting the Royal assent.


quite understood that the innocency of the right hon. Gentleman referred only to that one small part of their procedure, and that the right hon. Gentleman was no tyro with re- gard to procedure generally. Everyone now saw that the taking of the Consolidated Fund Bill on Wednesday night was wholly unnecessary. There was no earthly reason why all that pressure should have been put upon the House of Commons to hurry forward that Bill. It would have been perfectly sufficient if it had been finished by Tuesday next. He desired to join in the protest against the House of Commons being punished by a Saturday sitting because the Government had mismanaged its business through ignorance of the ordinary methods of conducting it. Saturday sittings should not be resorted to except under circumstances of most extreme-urgency. Such additions to their labours made it more than ever difficult for a man with other occupations to give a portion of his time to the service of the country. The strain upon hon. Members was not only due to the sittings of the House: it had been increased by the demands of the great democratic electorate, which were becoming more and more heavy year by year, and which, he was afraid, were inevitable, and he therefore regarded with the utmost jealousy any unnecessary increase in the burdens placed upon the Members of the House. In the present instance the business could perfectly well be taken on Monday; there was no urgency in the matter, and he therefore supported the protest of his right hon. friend.

SIR F. BANBURY (City of London)

said the declaration of the Prime Minister that there could be no pledges as to business, but merely provisional announcements—a declaration which confirmed a statement of the Patronage Secretary to the Treasury on Wednesday night—amounted to an absolute revolution in the procedure of the House. No Member would now know upon what day a measure in which his constituents were specially interested would come on, and he would be unable to make any preparation for debating it, while he would be equally unable to go to his constituency lest the Bill should be taken in his absence.

*THE CHANCELLOR OF THE DUCHY OF LANCASTER (Sir Henry Fowler, Wolverhampton, E.)

stated that long agendas of business a week in advance were a novel proceeding, and one which Mr. Gladstone had declined to adopt.


said they were only asking to know what business was to be taken on Monday and Tuesday next—surely not a long way ahead.

MR. WILLIAM RUTHERFORD (Liverpool, West Derby)

said he was credibly informed that the supporters of the Government had better and earlier information with regard to the Consolidated Fund Bill's being taken last Wednesday than other Members of the

House. That was a very unfair position in which to place a minority, however small, which was endeavouring to contribute to the business of the country.


said that no hint or suggestion was made from the Whips' office at any time, and if the hon. Member wished to make such a charge he thought he should substantiate it.

Question put.

The House divided:—Ayes, 219: Noes, 54. (Division List No. 89.

Abraham, William (Cork, N.E.) Collins, Sir W. J.(S.Pancras, W. Henry, Charles S.
Acland, Francis Dyke Cooper, G. J. Herbert, Colonel Ivor (Mon. S.)
Adkins, W. Ryland D. Corbett,C.H. (Sussex,EGrinst'd Herbert, T. Arnold (Wycombe)
Agnew, George William Cornwall, Sir Edwin A. Higham, John Sharp
Ainsworth, John Stirling Cory, Clifford John Hobart, Sir Robert
Alden, Percy Cotton, Sir H.J.S. Hogan, Michael
Allen, Charles P. (Stroud) Cox, Harold Hooper, A. G.
Ashton, Thomas Gair Crombie, John William Hutton, Alfred Eddison
Asquith, Rt. Hn. Herbert Henry Crooks, William Idris, T. H. W.
Atherley-Jones, L. Crosfield, A. H. Jenkins, J.
Baker, Sir John (Portsmouth) Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.) Johnson, John (Gateshead)
Baker, J. A. (Finsbury, E.) Dewar, John A. (Inverness-sh.) Johnson, W. (Nuneaton)
Baring, Godfrey (Isle of Wight) Dickinson, W.H.(St. Pancras, N. Jones, Sir D. Brynmor(Swansea
Barlow, Percy (Bedford) Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles Jones, Leif (Appleby)
Barnard, E. B. Duckworth, James Joyce, Michael
Barran, Rowland Hirst Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne) Kearley, Hudson E.
Barry, E. (Cork, S.) Dunne, Maj. E. Martin(Walsall Kekewich, Sir George
Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N. Elibank, Master of Kelley, George D.
Beale, W. P. Erskine, David C. Lamb, Edmund G(Leominster)
Beauchamp, E. Esslemont, George Birnie Lamb, Ernest H. (Rochester)
Bellairs, Carlyon Everett, R. Lacey Lamont, Norman
Benn, W.(T 'w' r Hamlets, S. Geo. Ferguson, R. C. Munro Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, W.)
Bennett, E. N. F french, Peter Lea, Hugh Cecil(St. Pancras, E.
Billson, Alfred Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter Leese, Sir J. F. (Accrington)
Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine Fowler, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry Lehmann, R. C.
Boland, John Fullerton, Hugh Lewis, John Herbert
Boulton, A. C. F. Gill, A. H. Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David
Brigg, John Ginnell, L. Lyell, Charles Henry
Brocklehurst, W. B. Gladstone, Rt. Hn. Herbert John Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)
Brooke, Stopford Grant, Corrie Macdonald, JM (Falkirk Burgles
Bryce, J. Annan Greenwood, B. (Peterborough) Mackarness, Frederic C.
Burke, E. Haviland- Greenwood, Hamar (York) Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.
Burns, Rt. Hon. John Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward MacNeill, John Gordon Swift
Burnyeat, W. J. D. Gulland, John W. MacVeigh, Chas. (Donegal, E.)
Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas Gurdon, Sir W. Brampton M'Callum, John M.
Buxton, Rt. Hn. Sydney Chas. Gwynn, Stephen Lucius M'Crae, George
Campbell-Bannerman, Sir H. Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B. M'Hugh, Patrick A.
Carr-Gomm, H. W. Halpin, J. M'Kean, John
Causton, Rt Hn. Richard Knight Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis M'Kenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald
Cawley, Sir Frederick Harmsworth, Cecil B. (Worc'r) Manfield, Harry (Northants)
Channing, Sir Francis Allston Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale) Massie, J.
Cheetham, John Frederick Harvey, W.E (Derbyshire, N. E.) Meehan, Patrick A
Cherry, Rt. Hon. R. R. Harwood, George Menzies, Walter
Churchill, Winston Spencer Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth) Money, L. G. Chiozza
Clancy, John Joseph Haworth, Arthur A. Morley, Rt. Hon. John
Clough, William Hayden, John Patrick Murphy, John
Coats, Sir T. Glen (Renfrew, W Hazel, Dr. A. E. Myer, Horatio
Cobbold, Felix Thornley Hedges, A. Paget Nicholson, Chas N (Doncaster
Collins, Stephen (Lambeth) Henderson, Arthur (Durham) Nolan, Joseph
Norman, Sir Henry Robinson, S. Torrance, Sir A. M.
Norton, Captain Cecil William Roe, Sir Thomas Toulmin, George
Nuttall, Harry Rowlands, J. Trevelyan, Charles Philips
O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny) Runciman, Walter Verney, F. W.
O'Dowd, John Rutherford, V. H. (Brentford) Vivian, Henry
O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N Schwann, C. Duncan (Hyde) Wardle, George J.
O'Shaughnessy, P. J. Sears, J. E. Waring, Walter
Partington, Oswald Seaverns, J. H. Wason, Eugene (Clackmannan)
Paul, Herbert Seely, Major J. B. Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)
Pearce, William (Limehouse) Shackleton, David James Waterlow, D S.
Pearson, W.H.M.(Suffolk, Eye) Shaw, Rt. Hn. T. (Hawick B.) Wedgwood, Josiah C.
Power, Patrick Joseph Shipman, Dr. John G. White, George (Norfolk)
Price, C. E. (Edinb' gh, Central) Sinclair, Rt. Hon. John White, J. D (Dumbartonsh.
Price, Robert John (Norfolk, E. Smeaton, Donald Mackenzie White, Luke (York, E. R.)
Priestley, W.E.B. (Bradford, E. Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S. Whitehead, Rowland
Pullar, Sir Robert Soames, Arthur Wellesley Whitley, John Henry (Halifax)
Raphael, Herbert H. Spicer, Sir Albert Wilkie, Alexander
Rea, Walter Russell (Scarboro' Stanley, Hn. A. Lyulph (Chesh.) Wilson, Henry J (York, W. R.)
Redmond, John E. (Waterford) Straus, B. S. (Mile End) Wilson, P. W. (St. Pancras, S.)
Redmond, William (Clare) Strauss, E. A. (Abingdon) Yoxall, James Henry
Reps, J. D. Sutherland, J. E.
Rendall, Athelstan Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe) TELLERS FOR THE AYES—
Richards, T.F.(Wolverh 'mpt' n) Tennant, Sir Edw. (Salisbury) Mr. Whiteley and Mr. J. A. Pease
Ridsdale, E. A. Thomasson, Franklin
Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln) Thorne, William
Robertson, Sir G. Scoot (Bradf' rd Tomkinson, James
Acland-Hood, Rt. Hn. Sir A. F. Craik, Sir Henry Powell, Sir Francis Sharp
Anstruther-Gray, Major Cross, Alexander Randles, Sir John Scurrah
Ashley, W. W. Douglas, Rt. Hn. A. Akers- Remnant, James Farquharson
Aubrey-Fletcher, Rt. Hn. Sir H Duncan, Robert (Lanark, Govan Rutherford, W. W. (Liverpool)
Balcarres, Lord Faber, George Denision (York) Sandys, Lieut.-Col. Thos. Myles
Banbury, Sir Frederick George Finch, Rt. Hon. George H. Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert
Baring, Hon. Guy(Winchester) Fletcher, J. S. Sheffield, Sir Berkeley George D.
Beckett, Hon. Gervase Gardner, Ernest (Berks, East) Smith, Hon. W. F. D. (Strand)
Bignold, Sir Arthur Helmsley, Viscount Starkey, John R.
Bowles, G. Stewart Hill, Sir Clement (Shrewsbury) Stone, Sir Benjamin
Bridgeman, W. Clive Hornby, Sir William Henry Talbot, Lord E. (Chichester)
Butcher, Samuel Henry Hunt, Rowland Thomson, W. Mitchell-(Lanark)
Carlile, E. Hildred Kenyon-Slaney, RtHn. Col. W. Vincent, Col. Sir C. E. Howard
Cave, George Lambton, Hn. Frederick Wm. Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E.R.
Cavendish, Rt. Hn. Victor C.W. Liddell, Henry
Cecil, Lord R. (Marylebone, E.) Long, Col. Chas. W. (Evesham) TELLERS FOR THE NOES—
Chamberlain, Rt Hn. JA.(Worc.) Magnus, Sir Philip Viscount Valentia and Mr. Forster.
Collings, Rt. Hn. J. (Birming' m Middlemore, J. Throgmorton
Corbett, T. L. (Down, North) O'Neill, Hon. Robert Torrens
Craig, Chas. Curtis (Antrim, S.) Percy, Earl