HC Deb 25 March 1907 vol 171 cc1525-6

drew attention to a point of procedure and asked for Mr. Speaker's ruling upon a matter in which the rights of Members to bring forward Motions were concerned. The hon. Member for Bosworth on 13th March drew first place in the ballot, and gave notice of his intention on Wednesday next to submit for discussion a Motion for the enfranchisement of women. Since that date the hon. Member for the Loughborough Division had given notice of his intention to present to-morrow a Bill to confer the franchise on adult men and women. Under the new rules of procedure there was no power to object to the presentation of a Bill, and he presumed a date for Second Reading would be fixed. He wished to ask whether the presentation of the Bill would prevent discussion of the Motion his hon. friend proposed to introduce; secondly, whether there was any record of the presentation of a Bill blocking a Motion for which priority had been secured by ballot; thirdly, whether, if the practice became general, Members might not be deprived of the right, intended to be conferred on them by success in the ballot, of bringing any subject before the House, seeing that any other Member to whom the subject was distasteful could prevent the discussion by introducing a dummy Bill; and whether the Speaker could suggest means whereby the rights of Members could be safeguarded.


My attention has been called to this matter, and I have to say in answer to the first Question which the hon. Member for the Appleby Division has put to me that, if the hon. Member for Loughborough does intro- duce the Bill referred to to-morrow and should thereafter fix a particular date for the Second Reading, in my judgment that would prevent the discussion of the Motion given notice of by the hon. Member for Bosworth. In his second Question the hon. Member for Appleby asks if any previous case of this kind has occurred, and to this I have to say that I am not aware of any exact parallel. Under the old system a Member had to obtain the leave of the House to introduce a Bill, and the House itself would decide upon that question, but under the new rule for the presentation of Bills the House has no option. I cannot help thinking that when the new rule was passed such a case as has now occurred may possibly have been overlooked. I do not know with what motive the hon. Member for Loughborough has given notice of his Bill. I am not entitled, nor do I wish to attribute any motive to him in so doing; but I certainly cannot help regretting that his action, if taken, will have the effect I have indicated. It seems to me an infringement, or it may become an infringement, of the right of an hon. Member to bring forward a Motion; for any Member if he wishes to burke a Motion may give notice of a Bill and thereby prevent a Motion from coming on. I will do anything in my power to prevail on the hon. Member for Loughborough not to exercise his right in this respect. As to the last Question put to me, whether there are any means of preserving the right of a Member who has been successful in the ballot, I do not know of any means except those of "peaceful persuasion."


asked whether, even under the old rule, there would be any means of avoiding the difficulty except by rejecting the Motion for the First Reading.


That would be the only means; the House might take into consideration the fact that by passing the First Reading the opportunity for the Motion would be destroyed.