§ Mr. T. M. KETTLE
I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether he is aware that eight ladies have been waiting at the entrance to St. Stephen's Hall since Monday last during the sittings of this House for the purpose of presenting him with a petition; whether he thinks their demeanour has not been of a perfectly orderly character, and whether he does not think it wise to recognise this evidence of their sincerity and patience by granting them the interview to which they appear to attach so much importance?
In the event of the Prime Minister being unable to receive these ladies this day, I would like to ask whether he will appoint a day on which he would receive them?
§ The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Asquith)
I am told the facts are as stated, although I have no personal knowledge of it. I am most anxious to show no discourtesy to these ladies, and I have taken care to intimate to them that the reason why I cannot receive them is, as I have often stated, that I do not think the public interest would be promoted by such an interview as they request.
§ Mr. WILLIAM REDMOND
Will the right hon. Gentleman reconsider his determination not to receive this deputation, in view of the fact that the request is such a reasonable one, and he has been in the habit of receiving deputations on all sorts of subjects?
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I have received a deputation on this subject, and I have stated perfectly clearly my own views and the views of the Government, to which I have nothing to add.
§ Mr. KEIR HARDIE
Is it not a fact that the right hon. Gentleman has not received any deputation on this subject since he became Prime Minister?
§ The PRIME MINISTER
That is so, but I received a deputation on this subject when I was Chancellor of the Exchequer, and they know perfectly well what took place then.
§ Mr. KETTLE
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that hon. Members of this House are being deprived of their ordinary right of introducing strangers on account of his action?
§ Mr. JOHN O'CONNOR (Kildare, N.)
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that at two o'clock this morning he passed through the sentries of these women without being recognised?