HC Deb 03 April 1908 vol 187 cc879-80

Order for Second Reading read.

MR. DUNN (Cornwall, Camborne)

formally moved the Second Reading.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read a second time."


said that the Motion had taken hon. Members entirely by surprise, and he considered that it was not very courteous to the House of Commons at ten minutes past four o'clock on a Friday afternoon to introduce so important a Bill in such a summary fashion. A Bill of this kind ought to be introduced by the Government or with Government sanction. He felt very strongly on the point and there were a large number of hon. Members who took a considerable interest in the Bill, in regard to which very divergent opinions were held. Did the promoters of the Bill think they would get the measure through the House any sooner by such discourteous treatment? It was not as if it were late at night and it was necessary to resort to such tactics. To the best of his ability he should show the House what they would be doing if they allowed the Bill to go through. The feeling on that side of the House was that the principle might be satisfactory, whereas, in the case of some constituencies, there was a fairly equal division of opinion. The case of Croydon would, he thought, be a very good example. At the last general election the figures showed 8,200 Unionists, 7,200 Liberals and 4,100 Labour voters. In cases of that sort the Bill would undoubtedly introduce no great hardship. But there were cases in which great hardship would occur, and he was glad to have the opportunity of quoting the figures in a city which was the opposite case to that of Croydon. In West Belfast, where at the last general election they had a very close contest, or one which would have proved a very close contest but for a certain occurrence, they had 4,138 Nationalist voters, the Unionist candidate polled 4,122, and they had a nominee of the present Government polling 153.

MR. STANLEY WILSON (Yorkshire, E.R., Holderness)

called attention to the fact that forty Members were not present.

House counted, and forty Members not being present—

The House adjourned at twenty-five minutes after Four of the Clock till Monday next.