§ The PRIME MINISTER
moved: That the proceedings on the Resolutions dealing with the Relations between the Two Houses of Parliament and with the Duration of Parliament be brought to a conclusion as follows:—
§ The proceedings in Committee on the First Resolution (Money Bills) shall, if not previously brought to a conclusion, be brought to a conclusion at 7.30 p.m. on Thursday, the 14th day of April next.
§ The proceedings in Committee on the Second Resolution (Bills other than Money Bills) shall, if not previously brought to a conclusion, be brought to a conclusion at 7.30 p.m. on Thursday, the 14th day of April next.
§ The proceedings in Committee on the Third Resolution (Duration of Parliament), and any other matter necessary to bring proceedings in the Committee on the Resolutions to a conclusion, shall, if not previously brought to a conclusion, be brought to a conclusion at 10 p.m. on Thursday, the 14th day of April next; and on the proceedings in Committee being so brought to a conclusion the Chairman shall immediately Report the Resolutions to the House without Question put, and the proceedings on the consideration of the Report shall be then forthwith brought to a conclusion.
§ For the purpose of bringing to a conclusion any proceedings in Committee 230 which are to be brought to a conclusion at a time appointed in this Order, and have not previously been brought to a conclusion, the Chairman shall, at the time so appointed, put forthwith the Question on any Amendment or Motion already proposed from the Chair, and on any Amendment proposed by the Government of which notice has been given, but no other Amendment, and shall next proceed to put forthwith the Question on the Resolution or other Question necessary to bring those proceedings to a conclusion.
§ The Committee on the Resolutions shall, if not previously disposed of, be put down as the first Order of the Day on the following days, on Wednesday and Thursday, the 6th and 7th days of April next, and on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, the 11th. 12th, 13th, and 14th days of April next.
§ A Motion may be made by a Minister of the Crown at the commencement of Public Business on any day after this Order is in operation, to be decided without amendment or Debate, that any specified day or days be substituted for any day or days on which, 231 under this Order, any proceedings are to be brought to a conclusion, or on which the Committee on the Resolutions is to be put down as first Order of the Day, and, if such a Motion be agreed to, this Order shall have effect as if the necessary substitutions were made therein.
§ Provided that the time available under this Order for the consideration of the Resolutions as a whole or of any single Resolution be not thereby diminished.
§ Notwithstanding anything in Standing Order 15, the proceedings to which this Order relates shall, if not previously concluded, have precedence of the Business of Supply on any Thursday on which the Committee on the Resolutions is put down as first Order of the Day; but nothing in this Order shall prevent Notices of Motions and Public Bills, other than Government Bills, having precedence of those proceedings at 8.15 p.m. on any Wednesday on which the Committee on the Resolutions is put down as the first Order of the Day.
§ Any Private Business which is set down for consideration at 8.15 p.m. on any day, other than a Wednesday, on which the Committee on the Resolutions is put down as the first Order of the Day shall, instead of being taken on that day, as provided by the Standing Order "Time for taking Private Business," be taken after the conclusion of the proceedings to which this Order relates for that day, and any Private Business so taken may be proceeded with, though opposed, notwithstanding any Standing Order relating to the Sittings of the House.
§ On any day on which any proceedings are to be brought to a conclusion under this Order, proceedings for that purpose under this Order shall not be interrupted under the provisions of any Standing Order relating to the Sittings of the House.
§ On any day on which the Committee on the Resolutions is put down as first Order of the Day in pursuance of this Order, no Motion for Adjournment under Standing Order 10, nor Motion that the Chairman do report Progress or do leave the Chair, shall be received unless moved by the Government, and the Question on such Motion shall be put forthwith without any Debate.232
§ Nothing in this Order shall—
- (a) Prevent any proceedings which under this Order are to be concluded on any particular day being concluded on an other day, or necessitate any particular day or part of a particular day being given to any such proceedings if those proceedings have been otherwise disposed of; or,
- (b) Prevent any other business being proceeded with on any particular day or part of a particular day in accordant with the Standing Orders of the House after any proceedings to be conclude under this Order on that particular day or part of a particular day have bee disposed of.
§ It has been my duty on some previous occasions, not in this Parliament, but in the last, to undertake the necessary but uncongenial task of asking the House t assent in relation to some particular measure of urgent public importance to a abbreviation of the time which our ordinary procedure allows for its due consideration. I must say that to-day I approach that duty in this new Parliament, and i the circumstances in which we are now placed, with less reluctance than eve before, and I will tell the House at one why. In all previous compulsory allocations of time, ever since I have sat in this House—and I think I remember them all—we have been dealing, whatever Government was in power, at some stage or other with the operative part of the propose legislation or with a Vote of Money in Supply. These Resolutions, with which w are now concerned, are not clauses of Bill; they simply lay down, I hope wit sufficient precision, but necessarily in general terms, the main principles upon which the Bill here afterwards to be introduced, will be framed. It is obvious, I think, that the time which may properly be required—and, indeed, demanded—fo shaping in Committee the final form of legislation is not needed for the adequate handling in Committee stage of merely preliminary Resolutions. Let me point out in that connection that we have waited until the conclusion of the general Debate which, as I think, everybody will agree has been a Debate of unusual interest am importance, and in which, I think, the whole ground and principle has been very fully surveyed, to bring forward this Motion. It deals merely with the Committee and Report stages of the Resolutions, the general principles of which the House last night at the conclusion of that 233 Debate assented to by a very large majority. How, with that preface, let me ask what is the amount of Parliamentary time which we proceed to ask the House to give to this preliminary process.
§ The general discussion last week and last night has occupied three and a half Parliamentary days. We propose by these Resolutions to allot five days to Committee and Report stages; that will make eight and a half days in all. There will still then remain, when the Bill founded on the Resolutions has been introduced, for further and fuller discussion of its provisions all the ordinary stages—Second Reading, Committee, Report, and Third Reading. We have been often told, in the course of the last week, and many times over in the course of the General Election, almost ad nauseum, that we here ought to look to the House of Lords in many respects as our model. There is not complete unanimity as to the extent to which we ought to copy that pattern, but I am quite content, for the purposes of this Motion, to adopt as a model what the House of Lords did two or three weeks ago when dealing with a similar matter. They also have been going through a discussion upon their constitution, and avowedly as a preliminary to legislation; they also have been considering a Motion to go into Committee, and, oddly enough, three Resolutions were proposed on which they will resolve themselves into Committee. One of these Resolutions involves the abolition of the hereditary principle —a far more drastic proposal and a far more revolutionary change in our constitutional arrangements than anything suggested in the Resolutions of the Government. Well, for the whole of that operation—the preliminary discussion before going into Committee and the passing of the three Resolutions when they have got into Committee—they found four and a half full Parliamentary days, or just about half what we are now proposing to the House, to afford adequate time. I am quite sure that hon. Gentlemen opposite will agree with me we cannot do better than to add 100 per cent, to what was considered by the House of Lords as necessary for the purposes of keeping strictly within the bounds of legitimate discussion.
§ I come now for a moment to these specific proposals which we ask the House to adopt as to the allocation of time. We suggest that these should be given to the first Resolution—this one dealing with finance—whatever remains of to-night 234 after the discussion on this Motion; the first half of to-morrow, that is until a quarter-past eight; and the whole of Thursday. That is a minimum, as I said, of one and a half Parliamentary days. To the second Resolution we propose to allocate three full Parliamentary days and to the third portion of a day. I heard the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Lyttelton) last night good-naturedly, but rather scornfully, refer to the suggestion that we were to discuss the Repeal of the Septennial Act in three hours. Having listened very carefully to the Debate last week, I did not hear one word or hardly a single reference to the third Resolution of the Government from any quarter of the House. Of course, when my right hon. Friend spoke in that sense he entirely ignored the fact that that Resolution would subsequently have to be embodied in the Bill and that it should have a Second Reading stage, a Committee stage, a Report stage, and Third Reading, and will receive as full discussion as the House can give to it.
§ An HON. MEMBER: There will be no time-table?
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I say nothing about that. The hon. Member must wait and see. The Resolution I am asking the House to assent to has nothing to do with the Bill in any of its subsequent stages. It may have been observed that we are proposing to confine the proceedings on the Report stage to a simple vote on the Question, '' That the House do agree with the Committee in the said Resolution,"' as they emerge from Committee. The only case, as far as I know, in which this procedure in regard to Resolutions in advance of a Bill has been actually adopted and carried through is the case of the India Bill of 1858. I believe I am right in saying on that occasion there was no Debate on the Report stage; but, be that so or not, having regard to the character of the Resolution and the extent to which the Bill founded on them will afterwards be properly and necessarily the subject of Parliamentary discussion, it seems to me to be sufficient that now the House should simply pronounce an opinion upon the Resolutions as they come out of Committee, amended or unamended, and declare whether or not they meet with the assent of the House. Assuming the total time allotted to be adequate, I think it will be generally agreed that our proposals make a fair apportionment of it, having regard to the relative importance of the several Resolutions themselves. We might, 235 of course, have taken the whole time available by asking the House to take away from private Members the days they have already acquired this week and next, but we do not feel justified in doing that, particularly having regard to the importance of the matters which have obtained precedence in the ballot. This week, on the second half of Wednesday, there is a Resolution to be discussed. The importance of that subject will not be disputed on either side. On Friday there is a private Member's Bill raising the whole question of the Minority Report of the Poor Law Commission. Next week I observe that on Wednesday the first place in the Ballot has been obtained for an important Motion in regard to the law affecting trades unions, as altered or modified by recent legal decisions. On Friday there is a Bill to which many of us in various quarters of the House attach exceptional importance, namely, the Temperance Bill for Scotland. I do not think, under these circumstances, the Government would have been justified in encroaching upon the time set apart for those measures. I have exhausted the general arguments in support of our proposition and I will only add that we think it of the utmost importance that we should be able after devoting adequate and not undue time to the discussion of these preliminary Resolutions to address ourselves before we adjourn for a long delayed and much needed Recess to the primary and all-important business of the Budget. If the Motion I am now making is adopted by the House we shall be able by 18th April to apply ourselves first to the Closure Resolutions and then to the actual discussion of the Budget. We shall follow that up by proceeding with the necessary Vote on Account, and I do not think it is an unduly sanguine expectation to say we may be able at the end of this month to obtain a short respite from our labours. Some of us have been here continuously, with the brief interval of the General Election, since February last. On those grounds I submit this Motion to the House.
§ Mr. A. J. BALFOUR
The right hon. Gentleman very prudently concluded his speech by offering a bribe to the House to get rapidly through the business in order to obtain some interval of repose for the Members who compose it, who sat in the last House of Commons as well as in this. It is quite true there has not been a more continuous and laborious thirteen or four- 236 teen months of Parliamentary work than those which are just drawing to a conclusion. It is quite true that if this House is to do its work properly, it is absolutely necessary there should be some such interval as that which is suggested. But how did we get into this difficulty? Because the Government chose to neglect the natural and proper order of the business of this House. If they had taken, as they ought to have taken, their financial business first, then they could properly have interrupted the proceedings upon these Resolutions or upon the Bill to be founded on them. They could have done this just in the same way as other great Bills have been interrupted by the Easter or Whitsuntide Recess. For reasons relating to some obscure transactions which I do not pretend to understand, the Government have insisted upon inverting the natural order, and they have postponed financial business, which every human being but themselves inside or outside this House believes to be necessary for the interests of the country. Even now I do not gather that we have got a pledge from the Government that when they begin their Budget they are going to finish it before the Recess.
§ Mr. BALFOUR
That is not what I gathered to be the case at Question Time, when his reply to an hon. Member on this point was "Wait and see." I now gather that the settled conclusion of the Government is that on Monday week we are to begin with the Closure Resolution of the Budget, and, having obtained it, we shall go through in die in diem, and conclude all the stages of the Budget before we separate for the holidays. That is a point which I confess I felt the greatest doubt upon.
§ Mr. BALFOUR
There has been so much wavering about the policy of the Government that it is not unnatural some of us should get slightly confused as to the precise course they intend to fellow, and I am greatly obliged to the right hon. Gentleman for his courteous interruption. I now understand exactly what the Government intend to do up to the holidays, at all events. I must say, however, that the Prime Minister's speech still leaves me doubtful as to the particular method by which the Government intend to proceed. 237 The right hon. Gentleman spoke of these closure proposals — "gag" Resolutions they are usually called—with a peculiar lightness of heart, and he did not appear to regard them as open to the objection which everybody felt in regard to such proposals in the last Parliament. Why does the Prime Minister regard this particular closure as scarcely open to the objections with which the House is so familiar in regard to other closures? Why, as I understand it, he bases his view, in the first place, upon the fact that the House of Lords took rather less time to discuss the three Resolutions they have passed than the right hon. Gentleman proposes to take with regard to the three Resolutions he is going to pass.
§ Mr. BALFOUR
Yes, half the time. Therefore, he thinks the time he is giving us must be ample. I am not going to argue the question whether we in this House, by its very constitution and by the very character of the process by which we are all returned here, do not require more time, and whether it is not customary to take more time when the House is left to itself than in another place. Everybody knows that, as a matter of fact, it is so. It has been customary in another place to do what once was done in the House of Commons—to leave the Debates on great subjects to the leaders of opinion on either side, and for the rank and file to act rather as jurymen who have heard a case put before them by counsel. [Interruption.] I did not catch the interruption, but I did not say they were necessarily impartial jurymen. That, at all events, was the custom in this House some few generations ago, and it is still the custom in the House of Lords, but it cannot be the custom in this House now, constituted as it is by Gentlemen who have to run the gauntlet of a General Election. These comparisons, therefore, are quite beside the point. They are beside the point for another reason. The right hon. Gentleman, as I understand, thinks he has embodied in these Resolutions the complete scheme of a great Government Bill. That is not the case with the three Resolutions passed by the House of Lords. They are some of the Resolutions of what I understand to be a series which Lord Rosebery proposes to move, and which, no doubt, when completed may give the outline of a measure, but the measure is not outlined yet by the House, of Lords. The comparison, there- 238 fore, which the right hon. Gentleman attempts to draw between the procedure of the two Houses again entirely breaks down.
I thought the right hon. Gentleman was on stronger ground when he said that, after all, these Resolutions were nothing in themselves except the foundations of a Bill subsequently to be based upon them and which would go through the ordinary gauntlet and ordeal of Parliamentary discussion. If we are, indeed, to count these Resolutions as a mere preliminary to a serious discussion which is to take place on a serious Bill to be brought on and pressed forward by the Government in the course of this Session, then I admit there is more to be said for the procedure of the Government than either on some fantastical comparison between our procedure and the procedure of the House of Lords, or for any other reason which he adduced in his speech. I cannot help fearing, however, that the Government are partly influenced in this incursion into the time of Members by an imperfect appreciation of the real magnitude of the problem with which they are endeavouring to deal. I confess I was struck throughout the Debate which closed last night by the apparent incapacity of the Government, not merely, as I thought, to defend their proposals against the arguments addressed to them, but also to see how gigantic are the constitutional interests which are really involved. Many Members of the Government made excellent speeches, but did any single one of those speeches, from that of the Prime Minister which began the Debate, to that of the Chancellor of the Exchequer which concluded the Debate, indicate that the Government were consciously involved in making a revolution in the Constitution of this country which would have been of gravity in any country but which is of overwhelming importance in a country that has not a written Constitution t I do not trace throughout those speeches the smallest consciousness of the magnitude of the great problem on which they are hastily embarking, for reasons which, I suppose, are mixed reasons—reasons not necessarily the worse for that, but which certainly include a considerable measure of electioneering and Parliamentary dexterity. Have they ever faced the magnitude of the problem? I do not think they have.
We had, for instance, a speech from the; Chief Secretary for Ireland (Mr. Birrell). His main point was: "You accuse us of having destroyed the Second Chamber. 239 We are strengthening the Second Chamber. We are making the House of Lords more powerful for dealing with Bills than it is at the present moment. We are giving it, as it were, a statutory direction, or suggestion, that it may interfere with Bills." That was the Chief Secretary's contention. I think that would be very serious. I do not think we want the House of Lords to have this statutory direction. If what you are so nervous about is what you call the "deadlocks" between the two Houses, then they will arise out of the House of Lords doing exactly that which the Chief Secretary for Ireland said they are to be encouraged to do by the provisions of this Bill. But the House of Lords have another function. They have the function of being am essential and important element in the guardianship of that Constitution which is not written. On that you have entirely destroyed them by these Resolutions. You may have—and I think very likely you have—increased their power for the purpose of producing those deadlocks of which you so bitterly complain, but you have entirely destroyed their power for the more fundamental duty which is entrusted to them—that of seeing the people are consulted before the Constitution of these Realms is altered. I saw no consciousness of that, which is the crucial and central problem with which we have got to deal, in the speech of the Chief Secretary.
If I turn from his speech to the speech we heard last night from the Chancellor of the Exchequer—did he show the smallest consciousness of the importance of the questions that are raised by the Resolutions which we are now to have hurried through the House under this gag procedure? Not the least in the world. The right hon. Gentleman talked of the whole matter as if, with the House of Lords as it is at present constituted, there was a sort of unfair advantage to one party. After all, the two sides of politics were playing a game, and it was most improper that within the rules of that game there should be any leaning to one side or the other, due to the relations between the two Houses. He pleads what he calls the party unfairness of the present situation. That was his whole point. If you take the details of his speech as well as its general character, what did it all mean? How did he show he regarded the magnitude of this problem? He said the House of Lords has thrown out the Scotch Land Bill. No doubt they did, but they did so, 240 as I understand it, because all the principles advocated in the English Land Bill were violated in the Scotch Land Bill. He complained of their having refused "one man one vote." That may be a very good principle, but everybody knows that it was purely urged by the right hon. Gentleman, and that the injury done by the House of Lords was purely felt by the party to which he belongs because they thought it prevented them manipulating the electoral institutions of the country in a manner favourable to their own party. There was, in other words, no attempt made to redress the general anomalies of the electoral system, but a particular anomaly was selected for treatment because it was supposed that anomaly when treated and remedied would be a great electoral advantage to a particular party in the State. The whole of his speech from beginning to end was in that vein, and I say that is not the spirit in which you ought to approach a great constitutional question like this, and it is because I feel very strongly that the Government have not appreciated the magnitude of the problem that I look with special suspicion upon their curtailment of our Debate upon this occasion.
The right hon. Gentleman (the Prime Minister) was asked by an hon. Friend of mine whether, when the Bill which is to be founded upon these Resolutions comes on and is under discussion, it will be allowed to go through its ordinary course in this House without being artificially curtailed by the application of the closure. The right hon. Gentleman, I need hardly say, gave the familiar answer which rings so often in our ears. He told my hon. Friend that he must "Wait and see." Of course, I do not press the Government to tell us what they are going to do as regards closuring the Debate on the main Bill. No leader of the House would, I agree, consent to answer such a question put to him long before the Bill came on; but have we the smallest indication or security that this, the greatest constitutional issue which has ever been raised in this House, is really going to be fairly discussed in this House before it goes up for consideration in another place? I confess I cannot gather from the course the Government have pursued up to this time that there is the least hope of that. They are supported in these revolutionary proposals by Gentlemen who avowedly want the change because they want one constitutional revolution which they think the change will further. They do not want or desire a long discussion upon a constitutional issue which does not 241 merely touch Home Rule, but the whole legislative machinery by which we, and those who come after us, have got to modify and improve the legislative framework under which we live. The Government, therefore, will have no pressure put upon them by that body of their supporters to give us full and fair time to look round this great problem and see it in all its aspects. I cannot doubt myself that there can be a worse omen or augury for the future discussion of this Bill than that at this early stage of our proceedings the Government should come down and move the closure by compartments. It shows the spirit in which they are approaching this question, and that spirit seems to me to be wholly inconsistent with the frame of mind in which statesmen should approach great problems of statesmanship. I draw, indeed, one consolation from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, and from the very tenour of the Resolutions which we are about to discuss.
I gather that as we pass the Resolutions the Bill which embodies the general purpose is automatically read a first time. We all know—we at any rate who have had any experience know—that a Bill may be read a first time without being printed, and without its terms having been decided upon by the Gentleman who introduces it. I suppose that is not the course the Government intend to pursue in this case. I suppose they are ready with their Bill, and I would like, specifically if I may, to ask the Prime Minister whether the drafting of the Bill is so far completed that, as soon as it is read a first time through the passage of these Resolutions, it may be in the hands, not perhaps on the same day, but almost immediately, of all those who wish to study its provisions. I do not ask that it should be placed in the Vote Office the same day, but I do ask that there shall be no delay, and that, at all events, well before the holidays which the right hon. Gentleman is holding out as a bait to stimulate our progress and smooth our controversies, long before those holidays, we shall have the Bill printed and circulated. I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman cares to interrupt me across the floor of the House should he think that a convenient course.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I cannot name any precise date, of course, but certainly there will be no unreasonable delay in the production of the Bill after the Resolutions are passed.
§ Mr. BALFOUR
I am obliged to the right hon. Gentleman. He has made it very clear the course he means to pursue, and I am sure he will do his best to pursue it both in the letter and in the spirit. I need hardly say when the Resolutions go to a Division I shall most undoubtedly, for the reasons I have suggested, vote against them. We have no security of full discussion on the Bill. We have no evidence from the Government that they appreciate the gravity of the step they are asking the House to take. We have every evidence, on the contrary, that they regard this as merely a move in the party game, and, that being so, I shall not be a consenting party to any modification of the established practice and procedure of this House which will prevent hon. Gentlemen on both sides from probing to the bottom the whole of this question—I will not be a party to seeing our Parliamentary liberties interfered with at the very moment when you are doing your best to destroy the Constitution. If the Constitution is to be destroyed, if it is to be buried, do not hurry it away in this rather crude fashion; let this House, at all events at the moment when it proposes to make itself the sole depository of all responsibility connected with maintaining the Constitution of this country, think well what it is doing; let it think how great is the responsibility it is taking upon itself. It may, in a moment of self-conscious modesty, reflect that not always or at every time is it fitted to take these responsibilities upon its own shoulders wholly unaided. These are the reasons why I propose to vote against the Resolutions, and I trust that all my Friends on this side of the House will follow my example.
§ Viscount HELMSLEY
The Prime Minister informed us to-day that he moved this Resolution with less reluctance than he had moved the Resolutions of a similar nature to which he accustomed us in the last Parliament. Unfortunately it is becoming the practice of the Government to move such Resolutions on every measure and proposal of importance brought before the House. We protested against it to the best of our ability in the last Parliament, and I hope we shall protest against it still more strongly, and at even greater length, in this Parliament, because it is far more a private Member's question than one affecting either of the Front Benches. After all it is a rather curious commentary that this Closure Resolution should be moved at the time when we have just con- 243 cluded a Debate in which the main point of importance raised by the opposite side was that the House of Commons was a free, deliberative, debating Assembly. All the debate and all the arguments in it from the other side went to show that, as a matter of fact, this House could by no possibility be improved, and that every measure brought before it received an ample meed of discussion. It is, I repeat, a curious commentary on that, and on the Veto Bill which will come in after the Resolutions regarding the House of Lords are carried, if they are ever carried, that this House should now move a guillotine Resolution for such a very important matter as this which we are discussing to-day. I think my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition did not put as strongly as he might have done the importance of the question in which we are engaged and the failure of the Government to realise it. After all, it amounts to nothing else than an attempt to break up Parliament. They are attacking the House of Lords under the closure, and what guarantee have we that in the future they will not assault the Throne equally under the closure. Some hon. Members opposite do not quite like that remark. Perhaps it would be as well for them to ask the Home Secretary if he has changed his opinion as to the Radical party and its future policy. He at any rate will remember a speech which he made in 1899, in which he stated that the Radicals had already attempted to break up Parliament and to attack the House of Lords, and that, in the future, they would not hesitate to assault the Throne, the most glorious and not least essential of he three estates. Would they do that under the closure, I wonder? And would they equally fail to realise the importance of the work in which they were engaged when attacking another branch of the Constitution in the same way that they apparently fail to realise the importance of the work in which they are engaged when attacking one state of the Realm—the House of Lords? We all know the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary has a great faculty for vigorous vituperation against the other side of the House to that to which he belongs, and therefore we are not surprised that he should declaim now in the same vigorous way as he formerly did when he sat on this side of the House.
The Prime Minister was good enough to suggest that we should take the House of 244 Lords as our model with regard to the duration of Debates. I would like to point out to him one thing in which they have never copied this House. They have never yet adopted the closure, and the result of not adopting the closure is that they are able to confine their Debates within far more reasonable limits as a matter of fact than we do in this House. One result of the closure—one inevitable result of its application is to put up the backs, if I may say so, of hon. Members in opposition, and to induce them to use every means in their power to make difficult the path of the Government which chooses to restrict and limit their opportunities. I think it would be fax better if we could go back to the days when the closure was unnecessary in this House, but if the closure is necessary, surely the Government, by adopting their present policy, are doing the very thing which they have always themselves denounced. It has been said that they deplore these guillotine Resolutions. Then why do they keep on moving them? Why do they not adopt one of the many proposals brought forward from time to time t It has been suggested that the time of the House should be allocated by an impartial tribunal—by the Committee of Selection or by some Committee framed in a way which would reflect equally the opinions of both parties in the House. I heard the Prime Minister himself speak in favour of some such course, but Session after Session passes and he does nothing; instead, he goes on using the guillotine in the most objectionable form, not like his predecessor, the Leader of the Opposition, when it became absolutely necessary by reason of the obstruction of the party opposite, but actually before a Bill is brought in. In that respect he has carried the guillotine movement further than any of his predecessors ever did. I would ask him whether he cannot see his way to take some steps at the beginning of this new Parliament to provide that guillotine Resolutions in the future, if necessary, are brought in by some impartial tribunal, and that the initiative is not left entirely to the Government of the day, who, after all, however generous they may think they may be to the Opposition, have no means of knowing how strongly the Opposition feel upon any particular point, and therefore cannot tell how long they would like to discuss it. One feature of these Resolutions is novel; it is the proposal that the Report stage should be entirely eliminated. That is a 245 very far-reaching proposal, and it goes a great deal further in curtailing the liberties of this House. I gather there is to be no Report stage at all under these Resolutions, and that the question is to be put that the House agrees with the Resolutions without Debate. That is a still further and greater infringement of the liberties of private Members, and I hope most sincerely that the House will strongly protest against it. I can only say I shall do all in my power to resist this Motion, and I am sure that hon. Members around me will have a great many Amendments to move to the Resolution, which seems to me to be in many ways grossly unfair and grossly restrictive.
§ Mr. BARNES
I am disposed to vote for this Resolution because I want to see something done. I listened carefully to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, and to that of the Noble Lord who has just resumed his seat, to see whether there was any real, valid objection to the Resolution. So far as I could understand the last speech, it amounts to this: The Noble Lord regrets that there is not some impartial body to allocate the time of the House instead of it being made the duty of the Government to do it. That may be all very well in a general way, and, for my part, I have much sympathy with it, but, after all, we are not now called upon to discuss general proposals as to the allocation of time under any and all circumstances. We are simply called upon to discuss some means of getting over what may be regarded as a present practical difficulty, and, looking at it in that light, I do not see that the objections put forward are valid.
The Leader of the Opposition, in his speech, had but one objection to make to the Motion. He said, and he said truly, that the Resolutions involved a great change in our Constitution, and that the time allotted for the discussion of the change was inadequate. That is what I understood. I note that he had a good deal to say about the House of Lords having performed its functions fairly and well in times gone by. He referred to the Debate of the last few days as not having cleared up all the matters connected with the House of Lords, and he instanced particularly the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for Ireland (Mr. Birrell), who said the Resolutions would have the effect of strengthening the House of Lords. But for his part, he said, he 246 did not want to see that House strengthened. He did not want to see the House of Lords constantly meddling in the proceedings of this House. Judging from recent experience I do not think he need have much fear so far as his particular side is concerned when they come into office, because prior to four years ago the House of Lords, as has been constantly said, simply said ditto to everything put before them by his Government. He went on to say that in the last four years the House of Lords had only done its duty in rejecting certain Bills, and I think he was very unfortunate in the selection of a particular Bill he mentioned. I take one, that is to say the Scotch Small Holdings Bill, and the right hon. Gentleman seemed to think that it was a sufficient justification for the Lords rejecting that Bill because the Bill was different in character to the English Bill. The House of Lords were justified, we were told, in rejecting the Scotch Bill because it was different to the English Bill.
§ Mr. BARNES
That is what I understood. He said they were justified because it was based upon a different principle.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
No. Because it was based on contradictory principles; because it contradicted all the principles which were supported in the English Bill.
§ Mr. BARNES
To go over all that ground again would involve a very long time. It is perfectly true that the right hon. Gentleman did say that the Bill was contradictory to the English Bill; but may I point out that it was contradictory to the Irish Bill also? The House of Lords passed both the English and the Irish Bill, and I am not going to accept the idea that because the Scotch Bill was different in character to the English Bill, therefore that was any justification for the House of Lords to reject it. The Scotch Bill was a measure which was well understood by Scotch Members. It was a Bill drawn up by the Scottish Office to suit the Scotch nation and to suit the circumstances of Scotch agricultural life. Therefore the Scotch people had a right to have that Bill passed although it was different in character to the English Bill. Dealing in a more general way with the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman, he says that the time given by the Motion now before the House 247 is inadequate to discuss a great constitutional change, but might I remind the House that we are not called upon to deal with that great constitutional change in a legislative manner. As I understand, these Resolutions are the preliminaries, and immediately after they have been adopted by this House—and in due time they will be by a large majority similar to that of last night—after that is done, as I understand it, and I hope I understand the position rightly, a Bill will then be introduced automatically based upon the Resolutions that the House has adopted. That Bill will then, in the event of an election coming off, be understood by I hope everybody here, and when we go to the electorate it will be our business to make that Bill understood by them. So that we are not called upon during the next four and a-half days to effect this great constitutional change of which the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition is afraid—and well he might be afraid by and by—we are not called upon to effect that great constitutional change at all. All that we are asked to do now is to affirm certain principles upon which a Bill will be based, and we are not called upon to discuss that Bill and to pass a great deal of time, as many of us unfortunately did during the four Sessions of the last Parliament, in discussing Bills only to find them treated with contumely when they got up to the other end of the passage. Therefore, for these reasons I am in favour of the Resolution. But for one or two other reasons—I speak Somewhat feelingly on this matter, and I think I voice the opinions and feelings of all my colleagues—I say that we are particularly glad to find that there is a prospect of a holiday, and that these Resolutions are the necessary condition precedent to that holiday. I have been at it, and most of us on these benches have been at it, since, I think, the 12th or 14th February last year.
§ Mr. BARNES
But not so constantly. Some of us on these benches, I think I may say, were held to our seats or to the duties appertaining to the position a good deal more closely than some hon. Members, and we have been here since the beginning of February last year, or when we were not here we were outside engaged in political work. Therefore we are very glad at the prospect of a holiday and very glad that a Resolution has been proposed in the House which will have the effect of 248 shortening the discussion — regrettable necessity as that may be—with a view of getting that holiday. Then I am very glad that the Budget is to be put through. I think that the statement which we have just heard is a welcome one. I am glad that immediately the Veto Resolutions have been disposed of the Budget will be introduced, and I will express a hope again, as I expressed here before, that when that Budget is reached we shall not have a great deal of time wasted upon unnecessary talk upon it, but that it will be passed through in two or three days, which I think is ample for the purpose. I say that, of course, having regard to the fact that the Budget, after all, is the Budget of the last Parliament, discussed fully and completely by that Parliament. My last point is that I am glad that private Members' time is saved by this Motion, and I say that more particularly because we are especially interested in two Motions which will come forward, namely, that dealing with the Minority Report, which will come on on Friday of this week, and we are also particularly interested as Labour men in the Debate which will take place, all being well, on Wednesday of next week, upon the position disclosed by the Osborne judgment, of trade unions in relation to the law. I am glad that these discussions have been saved under the terms of the Motion, and, with that in my mind and the fact that we all want a holiday, and that we have talked long enough about the House of Lords, and it is time we got to business, for my part I shall east my vote for the Government when we go to a Division.
§ Mr. LAURENCE HARDY
It is always interesting to hear from those who are assisting the Government in making up their majority points which we do not always get from the Government themselves, and I think we have ascertained two things which we may very well digest from the speech of the hon. Member who has just sat down. I notice that he gave us distinctly to understand, and I daresay we shall get confirmation from the Government afterwards, that the Bill which is to be introduced at the end of these Resolutions is not to be used for the purpose of discussion in this House, but as a stalking-horse for discussion in the country. Therefore, if that is the case, and as he says he is going to instruct the electorate on this Bill, it is all the more necessary to give more time to discuss the Resolutions on which it is founded, because the electorate is to be consulted before we get 249 that fuller time to which the Prime Minister alluded. The second point that we hear is that there is no occasion to discuss the Budget, because it is the Budget of the last Parliament, and that, again, is a statement which we are glad to receive, because we have not been able to get it from the Government. Therefore it will be the Bill without a comma changed, which is the one which we are prepared for next week. But on this occasion I think one is bound to make their whole protest against these Resolutions, and in a manner still stronger than any which has been raised before. The Prime Minister said in a deferential manner, in his opening remarks, that on some previous occasions he had moved this Resolution. Certainly he has on some previous occasions—on many previous occasions he has done so, but he has never moved one so remarkable as this, because it involves three precedents. We have always seen this process of tightening up the guillotine brought forward, but on this occasion we have three new precedents. We have, first of all, the precedent that this guillotine Motion is to abolish the Report stage. It is quite, absurd to refer to some Bill in 1858, which was not passed under any guillotine Resolution of this character, as a precedent. This is an entirely new procedure, that of abolishing the Report stage. Then it was asserted that in another week we are going to have another Closure Resolution, which actually is going to closure before we know the substance of what we are going to discuss afterwards. I think from this we see how this process of tightening up the guillotine goes on.
I said there were three new precedents proposed in this Resolution, and the first is in connection with the abolition of the Report stage. The next precedent is the application for the first time of the guillotine to Resolutions as distinct from Bills, and then it is the first time that it has been applied since the Government achieved for themselves that great new power of selection of Amendments by the Speaker and the Chairman of Committees, which gives them entirely new powers in this House which have never been associated with the strong form of guillotine which we have now before us. Therefore we have three strong precedents1 in connection with this Resolution, and whom do they come from? From the right hon. Gentleman who at the end of the last Session of the last Parliament distinctly promised that there should be inquiry made by a non-official committee, who should be able to report 250 on the question whether there was not some better means of carrying on our business than by this constant application of the guillotine and the gag. We have heard no more of that committee. We have never seen the reference to it, but it was the occasion of a very distinct promise from the Prime Minister, and we shall be interested to hear whether he still thinks it is desirable in the new Parliament that the matter should be inquired into by a non-official committee. That is a matter of which we have not had any explanation up to the present time, but we are asked to pass these Resolutions under very strict allocation of time, and what is the use which is going to be made of them? The Prime Minister spoke of them as a preliminary stage, and then he said that immediately after the holiday we were to discuss the Bill in all its stages, and I was glad to know that he also stated that time would be needed on the Committee stage for the discussion of the Bill. But then we have heard very many times from other sources that these Resolutions, or this Bill which is founded on them, is going to be used for a very different purpose. Are we so sure that when we part with the discussion of these Resolutions that the Bill which is to be founded on them is not going to be made use of in negotiations with the other House as the definite and considered judgment of this House? Have we any assurances or any statement that when the other House receives the considered views of this House it will be hi the form of a completed Bill or will it be in the form only of these Resolutions passed with inadequate discussion? If this is to be the considered judgment of this House, if this is the last Debate we are to have before these Resolutions are brought before another House in some shape or other, I say again that we have every reason to suspect very much this limitation of our powers of debate, and we ought to look most jealously upon the time which the Government has given to us in connection with them.
What is this allocation of time? It is suggested that the first Resolution would be passed after a discussion of a day and a half of Parliamentary time. There is a vast number of subjects in the first Resolution which almost inevitably cannot be discussed here before the Debate is cut short by the guillotine. There is the very large question of the power of the other House to reject Bills connected with finance of any sort, and there is the enor- 251 mously important question of what is to be the position of Mr. Speaker, because we believe that under the Resolution it is proposed to place the Speaker in an entirely different position from any that he has ever held before. There is the whole definition of what are Money Bills, and there is the further proposition of how far Members of this House are interfered with, or, indeed, how far the Constitution of the country is interfered with, by this novel method of proceeding by Statute to define our Constitution. When we consider what may be the result of the discussion on this first Resolution, and when we consider that it may be used against the House of Lords as the considered judgment of this House, I myself think that most inadequate reasons have been given for this Motion, and that it is an extremely dangerous precedent, and I hope that all Members who have in past Parliaments regretted these Resolutions, and have only voted for them in consideration of matters of great importance which they thought were bound to influence them at the moment, will seriously consider in this new Parliament before they support them. These guillotine Resolutions were really a penal instrument against another procedure in the House, namely, obstruction, which involved punishment of a penal character. That was the use of them up to the time when this Government accepted office. Ever since that they have used them for the ordinary procedure of the House, and now, in this new Parliament, they are again applying them to the new forms of our Parliamentary procedure, and I protest most strongly against it.
§ Sir FRANCIS CHANNING
I have so frequently opposed these guillotine Resolutions, and have refrained from voting for them, that I wish to state why I intend to support this Resolution. The reason is that the procedure of dealing with grave constitutional changes such as are foreshadowed by the Resolutions on the relations between the Houses, involves a group of questions which must be dealt with in the most strictly constitutional way of proceeding with any legislative matter before the House. So long as the Government merely foreshadowed dealing with this question by Resolutions in this House, and, as I understood, sending the Resolutions to another place to be there disposed of as that other place thought fit, that was a procedure which did not com- 252 mend itself to my view as the true and proper procedure with regard to grave constitutional changes. I do not welcome anything in the form of a guillotine Resolution, but I think there is adequate apology for introducing some means of shortening the discussion on what after all is the inoperative part of our discussions, namely, these Resolutions, and getting as rapidly as we can to the truly operative and constitutional part of the discussions which lead up to the legislative changes which are contemplated. The sooner we arrive at that, so we are more strictly and rapidly and completely fulfilling our duty of constitutionally working out a great legislative change. I would far sooner see these Resolutions discussed freely and fairly and terminated when necessary by the ordinary closure, but I think, considering that we have now a definite promise that we are to have a Bill based upon these Resolutions, and, if I understand the Prime Minister, that Bill is to be dealt with stage by stage in the ordinary constitutional procedure of this House as applied to all legislative proposals, the situation is entirely changed. The sooner we arrive at that Bill the better. I do not share the dread or the suspicion which seemed to actuate the hon. Member (Mr. Laurence Hardy) as to the use of this Bill. The words of the Prime Minister were perfectly clear and fair and, as I interpret them, intimated that the ordinary constitutional, regular, legislative procedure would be followed. So far as that goes I welcome it with all my heart and heartily support the general objects of the Resolution, but, at the same time, I have always felt that the purpose these Resolutions have in view would be more likely to be carried out and to commend themselves to the common sense of the average man who does not take any partisan view on either one side or the other, if they were fully and fairly thrashed out just as the provisions of the Reform Bill of 1832 were thrashed out month by month and week by week in both Houses of Parliament with full opportunity for modification and amendment after discussion. It seems to me that that is the only suitable and proper way, not to rush a great constitutional change, but to treat it in a temperate, considerate and constitutional manner.
§ Mr. HARRY LAWSON
I think this is an ill-omened use of closure by guillotine. It is contrary to the spirit of a free Parliament to invoke the guillotine in the case of 253 Resolutions vitally affecting the relations between the two Houses. These Resolutions are of a kind by themselves. Other Resolutions have been a preface to legislation, but these are not so much a preface to legislation as a prelude to what the Home Secretary calls action, and we know that when he talks of action he means revolutionary action. These Resolutions are to be used in the first place for the coercion of the House of Lords, and they are going to be smuggled into the House of Lords by some kind of procedure which we do not know—there is no ordinary method of taking them there—and after that they are to be used for the persuasion of the Sovereign. The Home Secretary talked as if he kept the Crown of England in his breeches pocket the other night, but we know very well that as a matter of fact, in the case of other Resolutions, they have been the foundation of legislation, and for that purpose alone. Mr. Gladstone's Resolutions, which preceded the debate on the Disestablishment of the Irish Church in 1868, were the basis of legislation, and were discussed only from that point of view, and when the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Balfour) moved his Resolutions with regard to redistribution that was the only object that could be possibly entertained. But these Resolutions when they are smuggled into the House of Lords are to be used there, of course, after that for the purpose of agitation in the country, and they may lead up to a constitutional crisis —this is at present rather a concocted crisis—of the first magnitude. There is no reason why on the basis of these Resolutions you should not have the threat carried out to create the 500 peers. We recollect that Mr. Frederick Harrison, the distinguished political writer, who is now opposed to this Government, because he says it is Socialistic, proposed that 500 sweeps should be taken into the House of Lords to carry the Home Rule Bill of 1893.
Whatever be the course proposed, the intention is to use these Resolutions for the purpose of breaking up the Constitution to that extent. That is why I think it is unseemly to apply the guillotine to the discussion of what may affect what all admit to be the most momentous changes in the whole constitutional arrangements of the country. I cannot understand the Prime Minister proposing such a course. He has always professed to be a champion of the liberty of speech, and yet he is proposing to curtail the discussion. We know the sort of spirit in which these things 254 are used, because last night, after moving the suspension of the Eleven o'clock Rule, he moved the closure just after eleven o'clock. Of course, the truth is that the Prime Minister is only an instrumental statesman in these matters. Matthew Arnold spoke of the distinction between created statesmen and instrumental statesmen, and the Prime Minister is very much an instrumental statesman. I cannot believe that of his own free will he would have wished even in form to limit a discussion on constitutional Resolutions of the magnitude and importance of these. Therefore it seems to me that it is contrary to the precedents of the House of Commons and to the spirit of Parliament that we should have the closure submitted to us because it involves Resolutions which are not the basis of legislation so much as the means of themselves effecting an alteration in our constitutional arrangements. The principal object of these Resolutions is not legislation, and it is a strange thing, coming from those who profess to be the great champions of free speech, that the Prime Minister should undertake to be not only the high executioner of the House of Lords, but also the high executioner of the liberties of the House of Commons. When the Home Secretary spoke the other night of approaching the Crown and demanding guarantees on the basis of these Resolutions—
§ Mr. HARRY LAWSON
I understood the right hon. Gentleman to say that on the basis of the Resolutions the Crown and the House of Commons were to act together, and I noticed that when attention was drawn to it last night the Prime Minister kept silence. Silence in this House is sometimes much more eloquent than words. We understood from it that these Resolutions are, without legislation, to be used, in the first place, to coerce the House of Lords and then for the peaceful persuasion of the Crown. For that reason I object altogether to these monstrous proposals.
§ Viscount CASTLEREAGH
When a speech on this subject is delivered by an hon. Gentleman below the Gangway on the other side of the House, when a measure is brought forward for the curtailment of the liberties of Members of the House, it is expected that that speech will be heartily in support of it. This Motion 255 is one of the most drastic in character which has ever been brought forward. I can only say, for my own part, that I offer to it the very strongest opposition. I admit that my opposition would, to a very large extent, be modified if I could be assured by the Government that the Bill which is to be founded on these Resolutions would be put before the House without the use of the closure and without the use of the guillotine. I do not know what assurance the right hon. Gentlemen on the Treasury Bench are in a position to give us, because in this short Parliament we have had opportunities of asking the Prime Minister on several occasions what was meant by utterances made by the Home Secretary and others who sit on the Treasury Bench; and, so far as we can see, he appears to have no control over the Members of the Ministry whatever. They say what they like, and their utterances are not supposed, under any circumstances, to bind the Government. I venture to ask the Home Secretary whether the Bill to be founded on these Resolutions will be brought into this House, and whether we will be given adequate opportunity for discussing it, or whether, when brought into the House, the Government will say that ample opportunity has been given for the discussion of the Resolutions, and that they propose to pass the Bill through with a still further drastic application of the closure. I wish an assurance with respect to the Bill which I understand is going to be founded on these Resolutions.
I am not an old Member of the House, but even in the short time I have been here I have had an opportunity of seeing the ever-increasing jocular manner in which the Prime Minister brings in these Resolutions. At first he appeared to attach a certain amount of importance to them, but now he brings them in as if they were part of the customary routine of the House. For myself I entirely object to the closure. It was a system brought in originally for the purpose of coercing hon. Gentlemen from Ireland. They offered obstruction to every Bill brought into the House and we know perfectly well why they offered obstruction. It was because the dignity of the House was nothing whatever to them. I believe that the closure was not intended to be applied to hon. Members to whom the dignity of the House means something, and I trust that succeeding Governments will not have the necessity to use the closure in the manner in 256 which it is used by the present Government. We have certainly been enlightened by the Prime Minister to-day. Yesterday it was a question of "Wait and see." I thought myself that there was very great danger in the "wait and see" policy, and that in all probability we would "wait and see" nothing. Now we understand that before the holidays the Budget is to be passed in all its stages. We understand that the Third Reading is going to be passed. I still want further information from the Home Secretary. What I desire to know is when this Bill is going to be introduced. Has an arrangement been made between the Prime Minister and the Irish party that the Budget is to be introduced, and that he is to remain in office or to go out by reason of the action of the Irish Members?
§ Viscount CASTLEREAGH
I am obliged to you, Sir, for your ruling, but I want a little more information on the Veto Resolutions. I wish to know whether the Bill is an actual Bill, whether it is even in the hands of the printers at the present moment, whether the Resolutions and the mysterious Bill are going to be "window dressing" for the programme of the party opposite when they go to the electors at no distant date. That depends on what the Irish party are going to do with the Budget. I wish to know whether it is the intention of the Government to introduce that Bill in this House. If the Home Secretary can give us an assurance—and if the Prime Minister will not repudiate him at question time to-morrow—that adequate opportunity for discussion will be allowed when the Bill comes before the House—and by that I mean that there will be no Closure Resolution on the Committee and Report stages—I assure him that my opposition will be withdrawn from this Resolution.
§ Mr. BELLOC
May I state to the Noble Lord (Viscount Castlereagh) why so many on this side of the House will not give a mechanical vote, but hearty support to the proposition of the Government to allocate the time for the discussion of the Resolutions? The Noble Lord seems to have forgotten that by arrangement between what are sometimes called, and not untruly, the "professional politicians," the whole of the discussion for which the electorate were waiting was put off for nearly two months. The second point is 257 this: Like the Noble Lord, I am also a young Member of the House, and lack experience of the ancient habits of the House, but I can testify from my memory as a boy in the Gallery how the Irish party behaved in the old days. I can remember the kind of opposition which was offered, and I will say of the opposition offered to the Budget and to the democratic legislation of the last four years that, though less noisy, the opposition has been as unscrupulous and as deliberately organised for delay as any opposition has ever been. Such opposition was confusing to the minds of the electorate. Many a man, poor, ill-educated, working with his hands, without time or opportunity to understand politics, has asked himself with regard to our large democratic majority: "What good did you do for us? What good did you get for us?" That was because every item of our democratic legislation was fought tooth and nail, and especially by the weapon of time. If you allow that delay to arise on this great issue the action we desire to take will cause confusion in the minds of the electorate, and therefore will be lost. It would be wiser not to force another election until we put the suffrage on a proper basis; but whether or not we have such an electorate, if we have to fight another election we must not present to the country another example of delay. If we mean action, we must make them understand that it must be short, sharp and decisive. The House understands all the arguments. All the arguments that can be used have been used, and the sooner the Resolutions are passed through the better.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
The hon. Member for South Salford (Mr. Belloc) is a not infrequent speaker in our Debates, but I observe that he nearly always speaks with great impatience of the time occupied by other Members.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
We all know that you can occupy a great deal of time, though you do not occupy more than twenty minutes at a time, and I think the hon. Member will find that the great consumption of Parliamentary time is in short speeches. I beg the hon. Gentleman not to think that I am criticising his intervention in the Debate to-day. On the contrary, it was most valuable and suggestive, and perhaps his speech has a deeper mean- 258 ing than he himself was conscious of. We are engaged for the moment in the discussion of a Motion proposed by the Prime Minister limiting the time for the discussion of Resolutions which embody proposals for very large constitutional changes, with the prospect that at some time not far removed we may carry to the electorate some great questions for their decision. What is it that the hon. Gentleman, an enthusiastic supporter of the Resolutions themselves and of the proposal to guillotine them, has to say upon this subject? He says it would be wiser not to consult the constituencies until you have altered the electoral laws. The first stage of the Radical politician at work is to gerrymander the constituencies, and having in that way secured a favourable verdict from the constituencies, he says the less talk the better. Talk only confuses the minds of the electors.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
What the hon. Gentleman said was that the long discussion, quite apart from delay, confused the minds of the electors because it raised so many points. That is exactly what you have to bring home to the electors, in order that they may understand those questions. These propositions put into Resolutions which seem so simple, cover a multitude of things of which the average elector has no conception. The hon. Gentleman is astonished that we should ask more time for their discussion, in order to bring light on the subject to the electors. The hon. Member deplores the confusing of the minds of the electors by discussion. Having so arranged the electorate to suit your convenience and to get a favourable verdict you carry your propositions in this House under the guillotine, lest discussion should confuse the minds of the electors, and lest there should be any check put upon this House from outside discussion, or any endeavour in another place to protect the electors against those rather autocratic methods of the newer Radical. The Government propose that all real power of the other House should be scotched, and that this House should be made supreme. This House is to be made supreme with the avowed intention that after, if not before, it shall use its power to alter the electorate to suit the convenience of hon. Gentlemen opposite, and to force through whatever measures please them with the least discussion they can induce hon. Gentlemen who sit on these benches to allow. I think 259 the hon. Member's speech, brief though it was, was pregnant of meaning and well worthy of being delivered in this Debate. There have been two other speeches from the Ministerial side of the House on these Resolutions. The hon. Baronet the Member for East Northamptonshire (Sir F. Channing) rose to explain—in my experience he generally does so when his own party is in office—why, though he objects to the guillotine so much, he is going to vote for it on this occasion. The hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Snowden) explained in the spirit of the hon. Member for South Salford that he saw no good in discussing these Resolutions or discussing the Budget, and that the quicker the guillotine acted the better he and his friends would be pleased. The hon. Member for Northampton took a more moderate view. He viewed the guillotine proposals with distress and regret, but he had been reconciled to them by the inference which he had drawn from the Prime Minister's statement. My real purpose in intervening in the Debates is to ascertain from the Home Secretary, who I understand is going to speak, what is the position of the Government and whether the hon. Member for Northampton has correctly interpreted their intention.
There was some foundation for what he said in the speech of the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister said that he moved this Resolution with less compunction, or, indeed, I think with no compunction, because the further Resolutions on which the guillotine is to be used were only the foundation of a Bill on which there would be many opportunities for debating Amendments on the Second Reading, Committee, Report, and Third Reading stages. That was accepted by the hon. Member for Northampton as being an undertaking by the Government that they were going to proceed with their Bill in this House. I want to ask the Government to tell us quite plainly, Are they going to proceed with the Bill or not? If they are going to proceed with the Bill, then the Prime Minister's observations have some relevancy to his; Motion. If the Bill is never going beyond the First Reading, which it gets without discussion, then what becomes of all the inducements that he holds out to us to accept this Motion? Are the Government going to proceed with the Bill, or are they not? We know that at one time they intended to proceed by Bill. Then came the Resolution. Then the Resolutions were to be confined to this House 260 and were not to be sent to another place. Next the Resolutions were to be sent to another place. Where does the Bill come in? After the present scheme of the Government is brought into this House are we ever going to discuss it? I take note of the observations of the Prime Minister that the Resolutions in themselves are nothing, so that you may have the guillotine upon them without compunction; the discussion on the Bill is everything, and the discussion on the Resolutions is nothing. Then, apparently, even if the House carries the Resolutions, they have decided nothing. They have committed themselves to nothing. They are reserving their liberty for that full discussion of the Bill of which the Prime Minister speaks. And when the Bill is before them, clauses of the Bill founded on these Resolutions may be cut and carved into a very different shape from that in which they are first presented to the House. It will be impossible, after what the Prime Minister has said today, to represent these Resolutions has embodying the settled opinion of the House or the declared will of the people through their representatives. They are merely, as he said, sketchy propositions which may be the foundations of a Bill, and the real discussion must come and the real decision of the House must be taken on the Bill itself and cannot be given on these Resolutions. That is very important for our guidance in the future, and very important for the guidance of the country; while the question which I venture to put to the right hon. Gentleman is very important also. Are we, in fact, going to discuss this Bill at all? Is the Government going to press it forward the moment they return from the Spring Recess?
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. Churchill)
The House has certainly discussed the Motion of the Prime Minister in a very mild and reasonable spirit, and I think we have rarely, even in the course of this singularly uncontroversial Session, had a sitting in which such a very general measure of agreement between both sides of the House was made manifest. Certainly I never remember to have heard a guillotine Resolution moved and debated with such a complete absence of anything like anger or irritation on the part of the Opposition. If the right hon. and learned Gentleman (Sir Edward Carson) objects that there is a great deal of disagreement on these benches, then it has been singularly well concealed.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I do not know whether the right hon. and learned Gentleman has been listening to the Debated?
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I say that, having listened to the Debate, there was very little disagreement apparent, and I judged that there was a great measure of agreement. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Then I will change my statement, and say that the intense, burning feeling of raging indignation with which hon. Members have viewed the proposals of the Government to guillotine the Veto Resolutions has been kept under all due restraint during the progress of the discussion. I hope that will please the hon. Baronet (Sir F. Banbury). I think that that measure of agreement, that measure of acquiescence, of restraint, is in view of the fact that the proposals which we have made are essentially reasonable ones. Three weeks of Parliamentary time are to be devoted to fundamental propositions made in general outline, the position of the House on the main general outline of the policy of the Government in regard to the Veto of the House of Lords; and, of course, in the whole of that period discussion is quite without prejudice to the necessity and the needs of passing at some subsequent date a Bill through all its stages in the ordinary way. As to the provisions of that Bill, the Noble Lord has asked me about it. The work of preparing it has been going on for a long time, and when the Resolutions are disposed of there will be no undue or unnecessary delay in presenting it to the House of Commons. It will be presented to Parliament, and it is the natural conclusion of our proceeding on these Resolutions that the Bill should be ordered and must be brought before Parliament. As to what the future course of that measure may be, it is quite impossible for us to say at the present moment. I do not suppose that the Prime Minister or his predecessors had ever in their days of office to indicate in advance for more than a month ahead the course that they would take in an ordinary Session and in ordinary circumstances in regard to Parliamentary business. But this is not a case of ordinary circumstance. There are, as everyone knows, elements of great and 262 peculiar uncertainty. There are also elements of crisis, and it is utterly impossible on such an occasion as this for us to say at all beforehand what will be the fortunes of the Bill after our proposals embodied in the Bill have been laid properly before Parliament.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I did not ask what the fortunes of the Bill would be; I asked whether the Government will proceed with it? None of us can foretell what its fortunes will be.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
Nothing would be dearer to the heart of the Government than to carry a Bill embodying these Resolutions through both Houses of Parliament. That would give us the most profound satisfaction. It is our earnest desire that we may achieve that result, and every step we shall take shall be directed to no other object than to arriving at the earliest possible moment and by the most expeditious means at that result. But as to the future course of events after any Recess which may intervene, we cannot pretend to forecast the future, and even if we could foretell these mysteries I do not think I should be inclined to impart all my knowledge to the right hon. Gentleman. Certain I am of this, that it would be a very bold and a very foolish Government which would ask the House of Commons to tramp for weary weeks and months around the Lobby, passing all the stages of such a measure as would be the one embodying these Resolutions unless we saw a fair and reasonable prospect that at the end it would not be treated in the contemptuous and unceremonious manner with which so much legislation on which the previous Parliament was engaged had been treated. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will feel that I have given, if not as full an answer as he would desire, at least as full an answer as it is in my power to give. I hope we shall not exaggerate the importance of this Veto issue, important though it doubtless is. I trust that the House will observe a sense of proportion, and will recognise that however serious be the issues involved in the discussion on it, and the passage of the legislation upon the Veto, they are as nothing compared to the issues which are involved in the rejection of such a measure and the failure to carry that policy into law.
§ Mr. GEORGE WYNDHAM
I think that the Home Secretary has attempted to give a full answer to my right hon. Friend, 263 but as happens so often in this House the answer which he has given cannot be reconciled with the statement with which the Prime Minister opened this discussion.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I am very sorry indeed if it cannot be reconciled, because in order to make perfectly sure that I was correctly expressing the views of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, I made a pilgrimage from this House to another place, and had an opportunity of discussing the matter with him.
§ 6.0 P.M.
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
We are well aware that many pilgrimages have taken place, even between Members of the Government and other persons who are not Members of the Government, but hon. Members will agree with what I am saying that the impression created by the speech of the Home Secretary is entirely different from the impression created by the speech of the Prime Minister. Of course it may be said that both these right hon. Gentlemen feel at liberty to reserve within their own minds, not only the tactics which they will pursue, but some inner interpretation of the words which they use in this House. I can make that good. The Home Secretary began his remarks by congratulating the Opposition upon having received the proposals of the Prime Minister in a spirit of sweet reasonableness which occasioned some surprise on the Government Benches. Why was that? It was because the impression made by the Prime Minister was that we were in this Session at last going to relapse for once into what is the normal course of Parliamentary procedure. The Prime Minister used words which we held to mean, words which, I think, said that these Resolutions were to be considered not only as a preliminary to a Bill, but as an expanded substitute for the First Reading of a Bill. I would appeal to hon. Members as to whether I am distorting the impression made by the Prime Minister. He was referring to ancient usage. There was a time when all Bills began by Resolution. That procedure was shortened to the First Reading; and now the Government have reverted to that, and the Chief Whip assents to that interpretation which I have placed on the Prime Minister's statement that these proceedings really are the First Reading of a Bill, and we are asked not to prolong them, because in the later stages of the Bill we shall have an ample opportunity of discussing every aspect of the Government policy, because 264 at the later staged there will be an opportunity for this House to examine in all its stages this Bill. So far as we are all agreed. I now ask the Home Secretary to reconcile his statement with the impression created by the Prime Minister. What does the concluding part of the speech mean? It can only mean one of two things? Either he differs from the Prime Minister as to the amount of the opportunity which we shall have, or else this House is entitled to examine in all its stages and under the normal rules the whole policy of the Government proposed in another place. Perhaps we are to have only the First Reading of the Bill and to pronounce an opinion upon that without an opportunity of seeing the Second Reading or the Committee stage, or the Report stage, or the Third Reading. Is that so?
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
Up to a certain print. My right hon. Friend will perfectly see and well understand that the Prime Minister said that these proceedings are tantamount to the First Reading of the Bill, that there would be all the normal stages of the measure, and that those would not be curtailed in this House.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
On the contrary, the Prime Minister specifically kept a free hand in regard to the future. He said that these were the preliminary Resolutions of the Bill, and that when the Resolutions were completed the Bill would afterwards be brought before the House. As to its future progress or fortunes— though, of course, the Government hope they will carry it through—the Prime Minister was not prepared to pledge himself or to make any statement.
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
Not at all. The Prime Minister reserved to himself the right not to pledge the Government against the use of the guillotine—a very reasonable reservation on his part. But in reply to the question of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition he certainly used words which just as much conveyed that, subject to that reservation, in this House the Bill, of which these proceedings are the First Reading, would go through the normal stages. On that ground he asks us to agree with him that eight days and a half is not an unreasonable period for what is the First Reading of the Bill. If 265 the subsequent stages were in proportion to that they would expect a long discussion on the Second Reading, a fair time for Committee, for Report, and ultimately for the Third Reading. That was what the Prime Minister said. What has the Home Secretary said after consultation with the Prime Minister? He said—I am not prepared to say whether these are the words of the Home Secretary or the second thoughts of the Prime Minister, or the second attempt of the Prime Minister to explain his meaning with the assistance of the Home Secretary—but the Home Secretary has now said that the Prime Minister cannot bind the Government as to the future course of the Bill, that he cannot prophesy now what its fortunes may be, that we are living in extraordinary times, and that some more expedition has got to be used. Where—in this House, or where? The Prime Minister promised us all the normal stages of the Bill.
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
I beg the right hon. Gentleman's pardon. It is not a matter to quarrel over, and it may be a mistake on my part. I think he did.
§ Mr. WYNDHAM
But for the exigesis and interpretation, what does the Prime Minister's statement mean? If it means anything at all, it does mean that something is going to happen after the First Reading, which may mean that the Government will take action different from the action which the Prime Minister promised to take in this House. That throws a totally different complexion on the whole of the proceedings this afternoon. We listened to the Prime Minister, and though he did not abate our repugnance, and though we think the House of Lords is less suited than any other subject to be treated by the guillotine, still we had the right hon. Gentleman's word that there would be eight and a half days for what was really the First Reading of the Bill, and that we would have all the other stages. Under these circumstances violent opposition would be out of place. The view of the Government I understand is that this question ought to be proceeded with as the principal measure of the Gov eminent in this House, but that at any 266 period in its course through this House they might adopt a method totally unknown to the practice of Parliament, in order to deal tactically with the situation they themselves have created. When we listened to the Prime Minister we at least thought we understood the scheme of the Government, that is to say, that these are the proceedings upon the First Reading of the big measure. After that they are going to take the Budget, not an unusual thing, although rather late, and then they are going to proceed with the remaining stages of the principal measure. It seems difficult to reconcile that with the ultimatum of the hon. and learned Member for Waterford. First he delivers one ultimatum, the Prime Minister replies with an anti-penultimatum. But this is familiar, and we thought we understood it. The Home Secretary, however, gets up and reveals the fact that we have been unintentionally misled by the Prime Minister. This cannot be taken as the ordinary First Reading stage of the Government's principal measure; it can only be taken as the first move in a deep game which nobody understands, and the issue of which is fraught with dire consequences to the future of our Parliamentary proceedings.
§ Mr. G. D. FABER
The difficulty in which we find ourselves this afternoon is that we do not know where we are. Looking back over the Session, I should say that there is no party in this House who does know where we are. One thing is said one day, and another thing the next day. The Prime Minister when he made his speech said these Resolutions only laid down general principles on which the Bill will be founded. I came down to the House of Commons prepared to object to the guillotine. I have never liked it, but one has got to bear it with the Government in power. I came prepared, however, to object to it strongly, because to put the Constitution under the guillotine seems to be adopting a dangerous proceeding. I am bound to say that the edge was taken off the knife, the sharpness was taken off the guillotine by what the Prime Minister said.
§ Mr. G. D. FABER
I am saying nothing against the Prime Minister, nothing at all in any way; I have never done so, and I do not want to begin now. The Prime Minister said specifically that upon these 267 Resolutions the Bill would be based, and that the measure would be introduced without unnecessary delay so that we should be able to go through all the stages of it, though he reserved to himself, I know, the power to set up the guillotine should that become necessary. Then we thought we all knew where we were. All idea of a General Election vanished into the thin air, and we were going to have a normal Session. First we would finish the Resolutions; then we would have the Budget, then the Recess, then the Bill intended to be based upon the Resolutions.
§ Mr. G. D. FABER
Yes, if nothing happens, if no bolt falls from the blue, if the Irish party do not put the Government out on the Budget. That is what the right hon. Gentleman means, because I cannot see how anything else could happen. You are masters in the House but for the Irish party, and if the Irish party interfere with you, something will happen. I do not think I have given a wrong sketch of the programme elaborated by the Prime Minister. I thought that we were going along quietly, and that we were having a very nice Tuesday afternoon. I was beginning to be almost somnolent, when suddenly the spirit of conciliation disappeared and the spirit of irritation entered. The spirit of irritation was personified by the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, who proceeded to unsay what the Prime Minister had said. Let me read one sentence from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman, which I think proves what I am saying. He said:—When it came to the discussion of this Bill which was to he founded upon the Resolutions in this House, it was of no good tramping through the lobbies for no purpose.
§ Mr. FABER
There is only one construction that can be possibly put upon that sentence, that the Bill is to be introduced first of all in another place, and that, if the other place will not have it, then it will never come on for discussion in this House at all. What else could the right hon. Gentleman mean in telling us that it was of no good tramping through the lobbies for no purpose? That brings me to what I conceive to be the vital point of this discussion. We agree with the Prime Minister that if all was going to be fair and square, and the Bill introduced on the 268 Resolutions in this House—and the right hon. Baronet the Member for one of the divisions for Northamptonshire read the speech of the Prime Minister in that light —then our hostility to the setting up of the guillotine this afternoon would be greatly abated. But the Home Secretary made it clear, patent, and evident that we may never have an opportunity, if you once let these Resolutions go out of your hands this week and next, to discuss this matter in the House of Commons at all, and that the verdict of the country may be taken without the House of Commons ever having had an opportunity of discussing a Bill based on these Resolutions. I do not understand the gymnastics of the Government, I am no master of tactics, I am no master of anything; I am a plain man, who tries to understand plain words. Did the Prime Minister mean what he said, or has the Home Secretary altered the Prime Minister's mind for him? I do not want to say anything personal, still less anything offensive. I think if the Prime Minister was left by those unfortunate associates of his to follow his own line, and if those unfortunate political associates would only allow him to do so, we should not be placed in this political chaos in which we are. The Prime Minister said one thing specifically this afternoon, and an hour after the Home Secretary unsaid it for him and brings the Prime Minister back, for caught I know, to explain away what he said. The Prime Minister knows I do not want to be offensive. I sat during the discussions on the Budget last year, and through those on the Licensing Bill, and I often had the opportunity in my humble way of crossing swords with the Prime Minister. I have not the desire to say anything offensive to him, and I do not now, but I think it is a political monstrosity, after what the Prime Minister said in thoroughly honest plain words, that the Home Secretary should come and disturb the harmony of our proceedings and upset solemn arrangements laid down by the Prime Minister. I end as I began by saying I do not know where I am.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
By leave of the House I cannot help responding at once to the very good-natured appeal made to me by the hon. Member. We have often crossed swords, and I think we have always done so in perfect good temper, and I hope we shall continue to do so. I do not know whether he wants me to explain something I said or something which my 269 colleagues have said. I am not fond of explanations. There is a very excellent French proverb, not so well known as it ought to be, "Qui s'explique se complique." I rather observe now, after some long Parliamentary experience, how many applications there are of that proverb. I had not the pleasure and opportunity of hearing the Home Secretary, but I am quite sure he did not intend to say and did not say anything which was in any way inconsistent with that statement. That statement was a very plain one, and the hon. Gentleman has probably on the whole accurately grasped it. I can only repeat what I said earlier in the Debate. I said that these Resolutions cannot pass into law the principles contained in these Resolutions except by means of an Act of Parliament. An Act of Parliament is founded upon a Bill, and that Bill must pass through all stages—Second Reading, Committee, Report, and Third Reading—in both Houses before the Royal Assent can be obtained. That was the ground which I put forward, the very admirable and reasonable ground, for curtailing lengthened discussion upon these preliminary Resolutions. If the Resolutions were carried to-morrow in both Houses you would still have to go through all the various stages of a Bill before you would be able to get them effected into law. That seems to me a most relevant argument as to how much time the House of Commons ought to give to this preliminary stage. I said further, in answer to the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, if and when the Resolutions received the assent of the House of Commons we should, without unreasonable delay, produce and put upon the Table a Bill embodying the principles of them in legislative form. That is all I said. Is it suggested that I said anything more?
§ The PRIME MINISTER
The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition said very properly that no Leader of the House could in advance say how much time will be given. Of course, if the Bill proceeds through its various stages, reasonable time will be given for all those stages no doubt. Do not let it be understood or go forth for a moment that I have pledged myself that whatever happens we are going to prosecute a Bill through all its stages in this House. I said weeks ago we are not going to plough the sands. If it becomes perfectly clear—and I need not indicate 270 the ways in which it may become clear— but if it becomes clear that to prosecute that Bill through its later stages would be a pure waste of Parliamentary time and energy, then His Majesty's Government are not going to permit themselves to do so. A Bill will be introduced, and introduced within a reasonable time, after the assent of the House has been given to these Resolutions, and if the political fortunes which await us are favourable the Bill then will pursue the ordinary course of legislation in this House. Do not let it be supposed for a moment that I have receded from recent declarations most solemnly and most explicitly made that we are not going to invite the House of Commons to waste its time and energy on perfectly futile discussions.
§ Mr. BALFOUR
I understand the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister began by asking the leave of the House, and if he spoke by the leave of the House perhaps I may ask for similar leave. I confess that the Debate in the hands of the Home Secretary and the right hon. Gentleman's second speech has taken a most unexpected turn. I am in the recollection of the House when I say that the whole contention of the Prime Minister, when he brought forward his Closure Resolution, was this, that these were merely preliminary Resolutions, carrying with them, if accepted by the House, nothing more than that a Bill was thereupon to be read the first time without discussion, and that they were the foundation of a Bill in this House. The right hon. Gentleman began his speech and laid emphasis on the statement that had it not been that our discussions of the Resolutions were merely preliminary to the operative part that remains, he would have approached in a very different spirit the ungrateful task of curtailing our Debate. That is in the memory of everybody who heard the opening remarks of the Prime Minister, and I will say that the only conclusion that can be drawn from them is, namely, that we are engaged now, and have been engaged, and shall be engaged until Thursday week, in a discussion, which may be useful, may be instructive, but carries with it nothing except the First Reading of the Bill, that it does not indicate in the least what the final judgment of this House would be after discussing in Committee the provisions of that Bill, and that it is impossible for anybody to foresee in what shape the Bill founded upon these Resolutions would leave this House
271 Now, I understand, that the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister take the view that so far from these Resolutions being merely a preliminary stage, the first short walk in the direction of the ultimate goal which they wish to reach, that these Resolutions are the matured mind, and so clearly and so fully represent the settled intention of the House of Commons, that they can be treated as a thing upon which you can ask for this or for that. I do not quite understand that shadowy policy which is called guarantees in the jargon adopted by the two contracting parties, the Prime Minister on the one side and the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Waterford (Mr. John Redmond) on the other, and that proceedings that we regard, and the Government regard, as merely provisional are regarded by other people as so clear and as so complete in their form, that upon this certitude that a Bill, if passed by the House, would exactly conform to them, you are going to risk the wrecking of the whole House. I think that is absurd, perfectly absurd, and that it is utterly inconsistent with the reading every body would put into the speech of the Prime Minister. I will not appeal to the new Members, but to those who have long experience, and who are accustomed to interpreting the announcements made from time to time by the Leader of the House as indicating the intentions of the Government, and the policy which they mean to pursue, and I ask any one of them whether those who listened to the Prime Minister did not interpret, as I had interpreted, from what he said, that what he was asking us to do was to pass the first preliminary, and almost formal stage, before we came to the real business of discussing the machinery by which the general policy of the Government was to be carried into effect, and that the idea of taking these Resolutions as a kind of ultimatum that you might carry about to this or that place in the Constitution and say that this is the final policy and settled will of the House of Commons, that policy is rendered absurd by the admission that our discussion at this stage might be cut short because there are other stages to come, other powers of modifying the provisions of this Bill, other methods of modifying the provisions which may vitally affect their character, and more than all other opportunities, after the thing has been fully threshed out, which might induce this House at some later stage to reject that which at the 272 present moment, I admit, they seem inclined to accept. I ask the House whether the Home Secretary's policy, whether the edition given by the Home Secretary of the Prime Minister's speech, and the assent given by the Prime Minister's speech are not a rescission of the original edition, and are not utterly inconsistent one with the other, and do not point to two great policies totally divergent both in their practical effects and in their ultimate constitutional justification?
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
I think the point that has been reached in this discussion is a very important one. How is the right hon. Gentleman treating the House on this occasion, especially in the light of the explanations that have just been given? We may be engaged in one or two quite different performances on these Resolutions. We may be engaged in giving what is, so far as this Parliament is concerned, a final judgment of the House of Commons on the question whether or not the Veto of the House of Lords should be modified or abolished in finance, and limited in ordinary legislation, or we may be engaged in the first reading of a Bill which is proposing to carry that change out. Those are not the same things. They are quite different. Observe that if the right hon. Gentleman is driven to this grotesque position that the subsequent discussions on the Bill after Second Reading cannot possibly modify the Bill and are merely formal. If the right hon. Gentleman thinks that the stages of the Bill in I he House of Commons subsequent to its first reading are realities, if—as the Chief Secretary in his brilliant speech the other day so admirably sketched out, though I thought at the time it was rather a fictitious picture—the Government yield to suggestions made to them from all parts of the House, and, in short, the discussions in Committee and on Report are realities, then it follows that the decision we now come to is only a preliminary matter. It also follows that the right hon. Gentleman is not entitled to go to the House of Lords or anywhere else and say that so far as the House of Commons is concerned the issue is decided. Plainly it is not decided. If the proposal can be modified, it is not decided. The Government cannot stand in two contradictory positions. They cannot say, on the one hand, "We are going to give you plenty of other opportunities of discussing this matter, and of modifying the proposals we now place before you"; and, on the other 273 hand, say, elsewhere, "This matter is decided; the House of Commons has pronounced upon it." We have here an illustration of what we have experienced so much during the present Session—the operation of a not perfectly new, but never so well developed organ of government as now; I mean that Chamber which now stands between the House of Commons and the Cabinet, and which may be called the Chamber of the Ministerial Lobby. We have a quite new apparatus of government. The discussions which have been going on in that chamber and in the Cabinet have been immensely more important than the discussions carried on in this House. The Prime Minister is acquiring the manner of the high priest, who comes out of the inner sanctuary and makes some limited and guarded disclosures of the sacred things which have been going on within. If we ask too much, he tells us to "Wait and see"; in good time the revelation will be made. That is all very well for a party tactician; but what is it for a House of Commons man? The attitude of the Government to the House of Commons is one of courteous contempt. In reality they care nothing for the House of Commons. They care no more for the reasoned opinion of the House of Commons than they care for the voice of the people. This Resolution is not intended to carry out the verdict of the House of Commons—it is intended to get the Government and their party out of a difficulty. What is the difficulty? It is that the discussion may be too prolonged, that the people outside, the newspapers and the like, may have too long an opportunity of discussing this matter before the crisis comes, the exact method of producing which is even now being debated in the inner sanctuary. It is not quite settled yet how the House of Lords is to be intimidated, or how the grievances of the Government are to be laid at the foot of the Throne. The sacred arcana are not yet decided, and we are not to be told about them until they are. Why can we not have done with this foolish mystery-mongering? Why do not the Government make up their mind in proper time, and then have the courage to stick to their opinions? The right hon. Gentleman stated that he had always said that they were not going to plough the sands; that is to say, that they were not going to carry a Bill through all its stages in this House before they precipitated, by some machinery not yet disclosed, the crisis with the 274 House of Lords. I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that his memory misleads him. My memory is very clear that on the first night of the Session he said that he was not going to present the Resolutions to the other House at all. He was going to proceed here first of all. It is manifest that if he was not going to present the Resolutions to the other House that House would not be given an opportunity of pronouncing even on the outline of the scheme until a Bill had passed through all its stages here. The right hon. Gentleman now concedes that the Government have changed their position.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I did not say that I had always said so. I said I had made that declaration. It is quite true the Government changed their intention, not as regards procedure here, but as regards procedure in another place. I made that declaration in the first two or three days of the Session.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
The right hon. Gentleman will see that the procedure in another place most vitally affects the procedure here. If the right hon. Gentleman is going to send the Resolutions to the House of Lords to see what they think about them, and nothing else is to happen, well and good. But supposing as a result of what happens in the House of Lords the Session is to close and the sky is to fall, it is manifest that our opportunities of future discussion are cut short. It is not correct to say that our procedure is not changed. Our procedure is most vitally changed. According to the statement now made, this truncated procedure is in all probability, so far as this Parliament is concerned, to be the last and only opportunity that we are to have to pronounce on much the greatest constitutional issue raised since the Great Rebellion. I suggest that that is not treating the House of Commons with common decency. It is not treating great affairs with the dignity and the seriousness that they require. It is really intolerable that a revolution of this magnitude should be gone about in this fashion, and that whatever suits the party tactics of the day should be adopted, and that all the machinery of free discussion should be trodden under foot in order to cut short the public discussion of this matter, which I suppose it is thought will be somewhat disadvantageous to the Government. There can be but one purpose. The Government think they are losing ground in the country, and they want to bring the issue on a little sooner.
275 At an earlier period of the Session this doctrine was very strongly avowed, and the Government were told in almost menacing terms that if they allowed the dissolution to be put off until August they would certainly be beaten. There never was a proceeding so cynical or which so disregarded all the decorums and decencies of a great revolution. [MINISTERIAL laughter.] If hon. Members will look into the history of this country, they will find that our ancestors when they were doing a great thing did it in a great manner. These pinchbeck Jacobins, whose only idea is to change their minds three times in a week, are indeed unworthy to sit in the seats they occupy and to undertake the task to which they have set their hands. Even when destroying a constitution one should behave with a certain seemliness of demeanour. But the right hon. Gentleman is not really thinking of the greatness of the House of Commons or of the popular will. He is concerned with extricating his party from a scrape into which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has got them. Let us have done with the pretence that here is a great undertaking properly conceived and worthily to be carried through. We have to do with party management, wire pulling, and tactics; we have all the recklessness which goes with such a system; and we see the Constitution of the country being overthrown by unworthy means, and in a most unworthy fashion.
§ The ATTORNEY - GENERAL (Sir William Robson)
In common with many other Members of the House, I feel that to spend much time in debating how much time we will spend is a rather unprofitable proceeding. There is said to have been some inconsistency in the declarations of the Government. What is the policy the Government have declared? They have introduced these Resolutions as an avowed preliminary to the introduction of a Bill. Unless a Bill is introduced, the Resolutions, of course, do not become law. Under these circumstances all that is wanted on these Resolutions is a clear declaration of the opinion of the House of Commons on the great matters of principle embodied in them. In the ordinary course, these Resolutions would be followed by a Bill; and tinder normal Parliamentary procedure a Bill so introduced is brought forward in the hope that it will receive adequate discussion. But even in situations much less 276 critical than the present there are chances and contingencies which may interfere with the discussion or the passing of a Bill. The Opposition are dealing with contingencies and chances. The Noble Lord has told us what he wants. He is not content to wait and see. He will neither wait nor will he see. He deals with the hypothetical case of some other place, intimating its intention to pass no Bill founded upon any Resolutions such as these; and he asks, "Under those circumstances, what are you going to do?" That is the case of which Members of the Government are thinking. They have not specified it, but they have said in general terms that they are not going to plough the sands. Is that what the Noble Lord wants us to do? Let us take his complaint, expressed in very strong language, and with a good deal of bathos, which seemed to me rather inappropriate to the situation. What does he want us to do? He says that if such a situation arises, if it should happen that this House is faced with the declaration of some other place, that the will of this House will not be observed, and that any Bill sent up by this House to the other House is to be rejected, nevertheless it is the duty of the Government to go on discussing that Bill. Month after month we are to go on with the Bill, with the full consciousness and knowledge, according to the Noble Lord, that it is not going to pass. That is what he calls working a revolution in the noble, style. That is what he calls preserving the dignity of the House of Commons. It is what I venture to call submitting the House of Commons not only to great inconvenience, but to gross and unnecessary indignity. Of course, there are other methods that may be adopted. There are some not altogether unfamiliar to the Noble Lord. I suppose when revolutions are undertaken in the grand style and with becoming dignity a meeting at Lansdowne House may not be considered inappropriate. That is the Noble Lord's idea of the grand style. That is his idea of the dignity of the House of Commons. The House of Commons has had to submit to many an indignity, but the course of the Government is a clear indication that the dignity of the House of Commons is at last going to be amply vindicated. I think the House can judge what it is the Noble Lord and his Friends want, and they can also decide whether they ought to have it.
§ Sir EDWARD CARSON
I was glad to hear the Attorney-General say that the 277 dignity of the House of Commons is at last going to be vindicated. I really think that hon. Members will agree with me that it is very nearly time that the House of Commons adopted some better style of dignity than it has had since this Session opened. For my part, I often wish—perhaps it is natural in the surroundings in which I move—that when Governments take to a policy of fencing in relation to the very highest interests of the State that somebody—I should not object myself— should be allowed to cross-examine them, because I really think there has never been a Session dealing with the very fundamental principles of government in this country when the House has been unable from day to day to grasp the very elements of what the Government intend to do or propose to do in relation to these matters. We ask a very simple question upon this occasion. The whole Constitution of the country is being put into the melting pot. The discussion upon that matter is to be guillotined. Have we or have we not the right to ask this simple question: If this guillotining takes place what are the subsequent opportunities we shall have for a full discussion as regards the alterations? That is the vital topic upon this guillotine Resolution. That is as I understand it from what I have been told—I did net hear the speech—but I understand that the ease of the Prime Minister, when he was moving this Resolution was to this effect, "This is a mere perfunctory and preliminary performance on our part. You will have ample opportunity afterwards to go into detail. We are not the kind of people who are going to abolish one House of Parliament in a manner like that. We undertake to give full and reasonable opportunity for subsequent discussion before anything is done." Is that a correct resumé of what the Prime Minister said?
§ The PRIME MINISTER
No, Sir, it is not. What I said was that the changes— the main principles on which we are engaged—could not become law without a Bill passing through all its stages.
§ Sir E. CARSON
How is that appropriate to the argument that we ought not to discuss these guillotine Resolutions? The only object of such an argument could be, and the only reason for referring to a subsequent Bill on this guillotine Resolution at all must be, that you will have ample opportunity after. Therefore it was suggested you need not quarrel with our curtailed discussion at this stage of the pro- 278 ceedings. It has no relevance. The whole of this parading of the subsequent Bill, the Second Reading, the Committee, the Report, and the Third Reading is a farce. We are being humbugged. Yes, Sir, we are being humbugged. We are being humbugged on a matter vital to the whole Constitution. Well, let us have a simple understanding now. That is what we want. Let us clear the matter up. The Prime Minister has said that he would bring in a Bill. He has not said he would go on with that Bill. What is he bringing it in for? Is it mere show. Is it mere humbug? What is he bringing a Bill in for? I suppose it is to vindicate the dignity of the House of Commons. But then the Prime Minister says, following, I think, very much what the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary said:—Circumstances may arise which would lead us to drop the Bill, otherwise we would be ploughing the sands.It is not usual when introducing a Bill to make this kind of statement. Have you ever heard a Minister come forward before, in relation to the prime business of the Session—for as far as I can see there is to be no other, not even the Budget—and, above all, a Prime Minister, and say, "This is my Bill, this is what we think to be essential, this is the main work of the Session; but, mind you, we reserve to ourselves the right to withdraw it if we think we are ploughing the sands." What I want to make clear is this: I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman this question, and I think he will see that this is a matter that ought to have an answer. Let him tell us specifically what are the circumstances that he has now in his mind which will induce him, if they turn out to exist, to come to the conclusion that he can no longer go on ploughing the sands. That is what we want to know. When the Bill is on the Table of this House what is it that will make him come to the conclusion that he will be ploughing the sands then, any more than he is ploughing them now? And at what particular hour of the day will he get tired of working the plough? He must have something in his mind.
§ Sir E. CARSON
That is what we ask the right hon. Gentleman to tell us, otherwise we are, as I say, being humbugged. Does he mean, for instance—one suggestion was made by the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University—does he mean to bring in his Bill here or in another place? If so, why does not he do that 279 now, and save the time of the House and save the trouble of going on for weeks in regard to this matter, if that is to be the indication that will tell him that we are ploughing the sands? Or does he mean to go for these guarantees, and if he cannot get the guarantees, is he then going to say, "Now I will give up ploughing the sands"? We have a right to know the sort of indication before we agree to the guillotine Resolutions. As the Leader of the Opposition says, it is of very grave importance as to whether these are merely Resolutions which are to be the foundation of a Bill which may be either altered, modified, or rejected in its passage through this House as expressing the views of the House, or whether they are to be Resolutions which are to be taken and flourished throughout the country as declaring the final policy of the House of Commons. I think the Prime Minister must see the matter so. What we really want to know— I cannot see any reason why the Prime Minister should not openly and boldly tell us—what in his mind will be the cause which will lead him to anticipate that he may have to give up, and not to go on with the Bill, as it will be useless to do so. If he anticipates that the House of Lords may not pass the Bill—well, I think he must be a great optimist if he has not got that anticipation at the present moment. At all events, it would save a great deal of trouble if the intimation which he desires should be made at the very earliest possible moment. It will save a long strain in this House. It will put an end to the continuous farce which is going on. I really believe if he would tell us all that it would do far more to carry out the great and earnest desire of the Attorney-General to vindicate the dignity of this House than to go on shuffling from day to day, as we have been doing, nobody understanding what is to come next, or what is to be the next change in the Government policy.
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
May I ask the right hon Gentleman one question? Early in the Session—I think it was on the second Monday—the Prime Minister announced his intention of submitting certain Resolutions to this House, and if these passed, submitting them to another place. I want to ask him if he adheres to that. If these Resolutions are passed, as probably they will be on Thursday week, will they at once be submitted to another place. I think the answer to that question will throw a good deal of light upon the present position.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I repeated today what I said on the occasion to which the hon. Member refers. I regret that the right hon. and learned Gentleman should have thought it necessary to make use of such an expression as "shuffling." I have admitted the change in the policy which the Government announced in the first week of the Session. That change consists in their determination to submit the Resolutions first to the House of Commons and then to the House of Lords. Beyond that, there has been no change of any sort or kind. They adhere to that determination. They will in due course, after these Resolutions have passed this House—if they do pass this House—submit them to the House of Lords.
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
May I ask, arising out of that, this further question: Will the Second Reading of the Bill that will be brought in on these Resolutions be taken, irrespective of discussion in the House of Lords, at the earliest possible moment after the Spring Recess?
§ 7.0 P.M.
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
The right hon. Gentleman is not able to say whether in this House and in this Parliament we shall have any further opportunity of discussing these Resolutions which he is asking us to pass under the guillotine. Therefore I ask the House to consider for a moment what it is they are asked to assent to. I am not speaking upon the merits, but upon the scope of the proposition which we are asked to assent to in this extraordinarily short space of time. I was rather surprised that the first Money Resolution has been so lightly passed over, because there are a number of matters of the utmost importance contained in the words of that Resolution. In the first place, and this is a small point, there is the question about rejecting, or amending, or delay. In the second place, there is the extremely large question which is raised about the "existing rights and privileges of the House of Commons." Arising out of that comes the whole question of how can you go on with a Constitution partly written and keep at the same time such vague and nebulous matters as "the existing rights and privileges of the House of Commons." Then you come to the question of the interpreting authority, and that involves the whole question of Mr. Speaker's position and the whole question of Parliamentary 281 Government. If Mr. Speaker is not to be the interpreting authority, who is? That raises the question of appeal and the possible creation of a system of courts and what the supreme court should be.
Then we come to the following words: "The imposition, repeal, remission, alteration or regulation of taxation." Here we go far beyond any question of Budget or ordinary Supply of the year. Here we come into the large question of what may be done under a Money Bill. I have thought of a few things that might be possible. For instance, there is the whole question of the Consolidated Fund, and what are called Civil Services, which come under these words of the Resolution, and you might carry out a number of different propositions. You might establish any number of new judges; you might extend the Civil Service indefinitely; you might make all teachers, for instance, into Civil servants; and you might do a number of things of that kind. You might establish any number of Commissions and Commissioners with powers of distributing public money at their will. Under these Resolutions, also, you might place any number of public servants outside public control by putting them upon the Consolidated Fund. On the other hand, you might destroy the independence of the Bench by putting judges off the Consolidated Fund and bringing them under Parliamentary control. You might endow one form of teaching to the detriment of another. You might give preferential financial treatment to one part of the country over another, or you might attach new conditions to the payment of certain grants. In all this the other Chamber would be absolutely powerless, and you are asking the House to give assent to words that carry out these enormous changes without giving more than one and a-half days for discussion. I was rather amazed to see such keen observers as the hon. Member for South Hackney (Mr. Bottomley) and the hon. Member for King's Lynn (Mr. Gibson Bowles) not thinking it necessary to dwell upon the immense number of matters lurking under the simple words of this first Resolution.
I come now to the words "Appropriation, control or regulation of public money." Under these words it would be possible to repeal the Education Act and to carry out any kind of Poor Law you wish, because all Bills involving a charge upon the rates would come under these words. There is no question of tacking involved; they are the plain consequence of the 282 words that appear in the Resolution. It would not be possible in the time that is to be allowed to make more than a cursory attempt to discuss what an enlightened public ought to be asked to do in regard to these Resolutions. Next take the words of the Resolution, "Matters incidental to those subjects or any of them," which probably have greater import than any other words in the Resolution. For example, using the powers which these words confer, it would be possible to establish a Welsh Exchequer at Cardiff. There would be the question who would administer the money. You might "as matters incidental," in the words of the Resolution, arrange that the councils should distribute money allocated by each council, and you might have a common machinery as to how it was to be spent, and yet the result would be that so far as the Executive was concerned you could set up Home Rule for Wales in what would be described as a Money Bill, with which the House of Lords would be told they have no concern whatever.
I take now the second Resolution, and I pass over the very difficult questions Parliamentary procedure—some of which the hon. Member for Kings Lynn alluded to yesterday. They certainly would involve, on the usual plan with which we discuss procedure, two or three days' discussion. The difference between our Constitution and others is that it is flexible while other Constitutions are rigid, and it would be necessary to see whether it was possible to make part of our Constitution rigid while the other part remained flexible. It is not a matter which was ever attempted in any other country. I do not go into the merits, but the House will see that an enormous possibility these things open up for discussion, and, lastly, that is the most important question of all, that is the question of the Crown. That is a question that I cannot go into, but it is the matter above all others upon which the country ought to be clearly enlightened: that is, as to the result that will follow if you destroy one part of the Constitution. All this is to be done in the course of four and a-half days, and that is the last opportunity which the House will have in this Parliament for dealing with this subject. What is the excuse? Is it that there is so much legislation? We know there is no other legislation except the financial business. Is it a question of emergency? If there is any emergency it is not constitutional, it is 283 financial, yet all this is to be taken before the question of finance is dealt with.
The Prime Minister at the opening days of the Session said distinctly he wanted to get the mind of the House upon these Resolutions, and he put forward the plea that the Bill to be brought in might be modified according as he ascertained the mind of the House in the discussion which followed. How can he possibly get the mind of the House under his present scheme? There have been Bills in which the mind of the House did have a very great effect. I take, first, the Education Act of 1902. No closure was applied on that Bill when it was in the House. It was thirty-five days in Committee, and I think that Bill took seventy days altogether. That Bill was very largely modified in many very important particulars. It was modified in important matters because free discussion was allowed by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, and some questions were actually left to the House to determine, irrespective of the party machinery or the party Whips. Again, in regard to the Budget of last year the Government adopted a different method to that relied upon now. They did not rely upon the guillotine; they relied rather upon physical exhaustion. It was the better plan of the two. The Bill was modified in two vital particulars, namely, valuation and appeal, and that was the result of discussion. Had the guillotine been applied neither of these vital changes would have been made. If you are going to proceed against another place, or if you are going to go to the steps of the Throne, which is more important, what authority can you have when free discussion has been burked, and when the great problem raised has not been allowed to be discussed. I am afraid that this is part of the tendency manifested in former years, a tendency not to respect not only the old traditions of this House, but its natural function and to press forward under this Government any measure whatsoever that may commend itself to the inner ring of the majority. It has been well said by an old writer that all evils do not occur in the same form. We shall never have the privileges or the prerogatives of the Crown exercised in the old form, but we have this attempt to exercise oppressive powers in a new form. We shall not have in these days kings coming to arrest Members of the House of Commons. That is past, but if I had to choose between Charles the First 284 and the National Liberal Federation I should certainly choose Charles the First.
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
Cromwell abolished not only the other House, but this House. I beg pardon, the other House had been abolished before, and that having been done, he found it absolutely necessary to have the Mace taken away from here; but the Federation, if it had absolute power, would continue their reign to the end of time. I should prefer Charles the First: in the first place because he was a more picturesque figure, and, in the second place, because he had only one neck and head. This Parliament is praised for its antiquity and its dignity, but hon. Gentlemen opposite despise the measure of its antiquity, and are lowering its dignity. Against such tactics and such efforts it is our duty to offer to the best of our power a lasting opposition, not only in this Session, but if needs be in the next Session also.
moved, in the second paragraph, to leave out "7th" ["on Thursday, the 7th day of April next"] and to insert instead thereof "14th."
I am nerved to move this Amendment by the words which fell from the Prime Minister this afternoon when he said that if it was found necessary to alter the allocation of the time under this Resolution he would take the matter carefully into his consideration. Some of us think that by far the most important of these Resolutions is the first one dealing with the Veto of the House of Lords in reference to money matters. Everyone can see clearly that all Bills in future will be Money Bills, and no Government will bring in Bills of the character described in the second Resolution when they can bring them in under Resolution No. 1. Under the proposals of the Government it might be arranged that some Bill like the Home Rule Bill could be put into the form of a Money Bill and passed through the House of Commons, and the House of Lords would not have the power of rejecting or amending it in any way. I hope the Prime Minister will give us more time with the first Resolution. The right hon. Gentleman said there was not much necessity for a long discussion, because the Bill founded on these Resolutions was going to follow. Since the pronouncement this afternoon some of us are of opinion that there may be no Bill to follow at all. According to this proposal the whole of 285 this vast and important matter must be discussed inside a day and a half. When you get in Committee we may be able to discuss a few Amendments at the beginning, but generally all the vital and important points are left until a later stage. I notice on the Paper there is an Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for Mid-Armagh which raises the whole question as to whether Mr. Speaker in this House would be able to hold that a Bill is a Money Bill which imposes such restrictions upon administration in Ireland as virtually to place the minority under the power of the Nationalist party. After these Resolutions have been passed all power is taken out of our hands later on to object to Home Rule, and that is a point which vitally affects us in the North of Ireland. Never since the time of the Union have our ranks been so strong as they are to-day on this question. We do not want any tampering with the Constitution, and that was the reason why my hon. Friend the Member for Mid-Tyrone (Mr. Brunskill) was returned for a constituency which has never before returned a Unionist Member. I implore the Prime Minister to allow us to have more time for the first Resolution.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I understand the hon. and gallant Gentleman's proposal to mean that a larger amount of the time should be apportioned to the first Resolution, and that a smaller amount should be apportioned to the second Resolution. I understand also that he thinks the financial Resolution ought to be treated as one which is entitled to the major part of the time allotted. I cannot say that I share that view. I think all who have listened to the Debate will agree with me when I say that a larger amount of the arguments have been devoted to the financial Resolution than to the others, and it is a matter which has been more fully discussed under the Veto Resolutions. I feel sure it is the opinion of the majority of those sitting in all quarters of the House, whether they regard these Resolutions with favour or disfavour, that the most important Resolution is the second one, because it makes the most momentous change. The first Resolution is very little, more than an affirmation of the existing law and the present constitutional practice, with certain safeguards. The second Resolution provides for a very large and substantial change in the existing constitutional prac- 286 tice, and I should have thought that when we are apportioning the time the more rational and convenient course would be to give a larger space of time to the second Resolution than to the first. I have no pronounced view of the matter, but may I point out that the allocation of the time proposed by the hon. and gallant Member swallows up the whole of the time. If it is the wish of the House we might agree to accept the 11th on the understanding that a shorter period was allowed for the Second Resolution.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I do not think the proposal of the Prime Minister to give us a little more time on the first Resolution at the expense of the time allotted to the second is one which we can accept. If my hon. and gallant Friend goes to a Division either on the question of accepting the 11th or the 14th, I shall vote with him, because I do not think the time should be curtailed in any way. As everybody knows, when we are dealing with Bills founded upon Resolutions so complicated, it often turns out to be a great deal more difficult than the House supposes, or even than the authors of the measure anticipate. I do not think the time should be fixed within such narrow limits even before we have discussed the Resolutions at all. Therefore, I shall vote for an extension of that time on this Resolution, and I may say I cannot hold out as an inducement to agree in giving more time for the first Resolution the sacrifice of any portion of the meagre space of time which the Government deem to be necessary for the second Resolution. I will not deal with the second Resolution at this stage.
I confess I listened with some surprise to the Prime Minister's description of the first Resolution. As was pointed out by the Leader of the Opposition earlier in the afternoon, it appears to me that the Government are approaching this question without any conception of the magnitude of the change they are making, or the importance of the enterprise upon which they are embarking. The Prime Minister says the Government consider the first Resolution as a mere affirmation of the existing constitutional usage. I think that is begging the whole question in dispute between the two sides of the House and the two Houses of Parliament, and between the Government and every constitutional authority who is not a direct party to the present dispute. Every constitutional authority, whether he be a writer, a philosopher, or a political student, or an 287 active politician and statesman, who Is not himself an immediate party to the present dispute is against the right hon. Gentleman's contention. I need not exclude in this connection some of those who are parties to the present dispute. We know that Lord Morley not only thought that the House of Lords had a legal and constitutional right in this matter, but that it might become their duty to reject the Finance Bill. How can we throw over the statement made by Lord Morley, and say that the Secretary for India was talking nonsense when he declared that it might be the bounden duty of the House of Lords to reject the Finance Bill? Is it not absurd to propose that we should polish off a matter of this kind in a day and a-half of Parliamentary time? Never in the whole history of our country, not even in that Rump Parliament to which Cromwell put an end, were grave matters of State treated with more levity by the people on whom the principal responsibility rests. I protest altogether against the assumption that this Resolution affirms nothing but what is the accepted constitutional usage, and I venture to say that, if we were given time to discuss it in all its bearings as it deserves, we should prove not merely to those who listen to us in this House, but to those who are interested outside the House that the first Resolution is a Resolution of the widest character, enormously restricting the admitted powers of the House of Lords and enormously extending the authority of this House beyond anything that has ever been claimed by any Leader of the House or by the House or any of its Members. The first Resolution alone, without the second Resolution, would practically be establishing for the purposes of to-day single-Chamber government on all the great issues that are before the country. Under those circumstances, though I can be no party to a bargain with the Government to restrict the Debate on the second Resolution, I shall certainly support any Motion made which will have the effect of giving us more time on the first Resolution.
§ Sir FREDERICK BANBURY
I agree with my right hon. Friend, that we on this side cannot agree to any extension of time for one particular Resolution provided that extension of time is gained by taking away time from Resolutions to follow. At the same time, I shall be very pleased to vote with my hon. Friend, because it may be possible towards the end of the discussion 288 to get the whole length of the time extended. The hon. Member for Northants (Sir Francis Channing) told us he intended to vote for the guillotine Resolution, not because he liked it or because he considered the time was sufficient, but be cause the Prime Minister had told us we were to have unlimited time for the discussion of a Bill which was to be introduced and passed in this Session. I regret the hon. Baronet is not now in the House, because I am sure the Prime Minister, having clearly misled his own follower, would have to make some compensation to the hon. Baronet, and at least extend the time during which the discussion might take place. My right hon. Friend has alluded to the reason given by the Prime Minister for not attaching very much importance to the Amendment of my hon. Friend. The Prime Minister said that it is more or less an understood thing that the House of Lords has' no power over Money Bills. How can the Prime Minister say that when the hon. Member for King's Lynn (Mr. Gibson Bowles), one of his most prominent supporters, who, I understand, made an extremely able speech upon this very Question yesterday, and who has written so admirable a letter that I carry it always in my pocket, and I shall be pleased to send it to the Prime Minister if he will guarantee to return it to me—
§ Sir F. BANBURY
May I ask if the hon. Member defends the policy of the Government upon this particular occasion? The right hon. Gentleman does not know. He cannot have read those letters with very great attention. He does not know what is in them. The hon. Member for King's Lynn is nothing if he is not clear. He has the courage of his opinions. I remember many of his opinions with which I did not agree, but I always knew what he meant both by his speeches and letters, and it is reserved to the Prime Minister not to know what the hon. Member means. I hope we shall have a good many supporters of the Government with us when we go into the Lobby in support of the Amendment of my horn Friend. I presume he will be perfectly prepared to vote for an extension of time later on if we support him on this occasion. I hope we shall have the support of the hon. Member for the Kirkcaldy Burghs (Sir Henry Dalziel). I can remember a good many speeches which that hon. Member made against the 289 closure when he sat on this side of the House.
Sir HENRY DALZIEL
May I complain that the hon. Gentleman always voted against me on those occasions, and in favour of the guillotine?
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I do not wish to be led into an argument with the hon. Member, but I would point out that I have never voted for the guillotine in anything like similar circumstances. My right hon. Friend (Mr. Balfour) has never attempted to destroy the Constitution. If he did I should vote against him. Never in the history of the Unionist party has the guillotine been imposed until a Bill has been in Committee, and until a large number of days have been devoted to the discussion of that Bill. Hon. Gentlemen opposite have suddenly developed the new idea that once they say a thing it is right. [HON. MEMBEBS: "Three times."] That is their politeness; they are in their own minds perfectly convinced that when they say a thing once it is right, but, in order not to appear too self-conscious, and in order perhaps to delude the constituencies a little, they say: "If we say it three times it should become law."
We have not yet, however, got to that point, and we may have a little time to consider whether the whole of the finances of the country are to be left in the hands of hon. Gentlemen who think that if they say a thing three times it ought to become law, or whether they should be left within the control of another place which has always done its duty, and which will always do its duty if it is left in the position in which it is now. If we are going to abolish the powers of one Chamber in a short time like this, I am not at all sure that we are abolishing the powers of the right Chamber. I should be perfectly prepared to enter into a discussion and show that at any rate another place has never done the foolish and contradictory things which this Government have done during the last five years, and especially during the last few months. The Prime Minister has the courage of his opinions, and, when he has made these mistakes before, he has always announced them publicly and changed his mind. Let him once more change his mind, and give us a little more time to consider this Resolution, not at the expense of the remaining Resolutions but at the expense of the Government. There is no particular necessity to go for a holiday. The Leader 290 of the Labour party (Mr. Barnes) told us he had sat here since the beginning of February, that the Labour party work harder than any other people, and that it is necessary to go for a holiday. I am quite sure I have been in more Divisions than the hon. Gentleman. There were only eight Members who were in more Divisions last Session. I do not want to go for a holiday. I am perfectly willing to come here and devote the next year to considering constitutional questions like this. There is no necessity to rush this matter through. We are dealing with a Constitution which has existed for 800 years, and with a power which has existed ever since the institution of the House of Lords, and I think, in order to vindicate the dignity of the House of Commons, we should at least give a decent trial to the people we are going to judge.
§ Mr. SANDERSON
I cannot help thinking that the Prime Minister must have for gotten the terms of his own Resolution. I would ask the attention of the House just for one moment to the terms of it: "That it is expedient that the House of Lords be disabled by law from rejecting or amending a Money Bill." I submit that the very use of the word "disabled" implies that at the present moment the House of Lords has by law the right to reject Money Bills. The Prime Minister, as I understood him, asserted that this is nothing more than laying down in terms the arrangements which now exist between the House of Lords and this House. I submit that that statement cannot be founded upon fact. Throughout this Debate it has been admitted that the House of Lords has a perfect legal right to reject the Budget, although it has been attempted to draw a distinction between a legal and a constitutional right. That has always seemed to ma to be a most astounding proposition. The House of Lords are an integral part of our Constitution, and it was because of the power they possessed as an integral part of our Constitution that they refused to pass the Finance Bill until the people of the country had expressed their opinion on it. How, in the face of such facts, it can be said that the action of the House of Lords is unconstitutional passes my comprehension. I think I am correct in saying that Lord Palmerston, when the relations of the two Houses were being discussed—
§ Mr. SPEAKER
That is not the question now under Debate. It may arise on the Resolution itself. The question is, how much time is to be given to it.
§ Mr. SANDERSON
I bow to your ruling, of course. I only wished to point out that we are not now simply going to reassert something which exists at the present moment with regard to the relations of the two Houses, but we are going to make a most vital and important change in those relations with regard to matters of the greatest possible moment to the nation, and, that being so, surely it cannot be made too plain to the country, and ought to be reasserted over and over again, that, with regard to such vital measures as these, that change is going to be made by the Government which now happens to be in power under these restrictions.
I heartily support what was said by the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London, except the argument he used about the holidays. I do not like the idea of this House sitting in permanent Session. I support this Amendment for this reason, that, in my opinion, if the first of these Resolutions is carried it will be of very little use discussing the second part, because one thing has been made perfectly clear during these Debates, and that is that it is comparatively easy to bring in almost any measure you like in the form of a Finance Bill. It might be contrary absolutely to a Finance Bill, and, so far as the functions of Mr. Speaker are concerned, he might find it impossible to say that there is no matter in it relating to finance proper. Yet it might contain many measures presented under the form of a Finance Bill which should more properly be produced under the procedure of this House. If you pass the first Resolution, all you need do will be to bring in a swollen Budget. Last year we had a big enough one; it took five hours to introduce it, with one break for refreshments. Next year you may have a Finance Bill which it will take ten hours to introduce, with two or three intervals for refreshments, unless, indeed, the Chancellor of the Exchequer happens to be a man of supreme physical powers. Our whole Debate therefore should be directed to the first point. There is another reason why we should consider this more fully. Ten or twenty years ago I might have said, "Let us leave this first question and only have a short discussion on it and devote the longer discussion to the Bill." But a very important change has come over Finance Bills. The Chancellor of the Exchequer himself has admitted that finance proper now includes great social reforms. The first part of the long speech in which 292 the right hon. Gentleman introduced his Finance Bill last year dealt solely with the social programmes of the future which it was going to take two or three years to carry out. And having once departed from the old principle in that way, they are going to deal to a far greater extent in that way in the future with general matters of social legislation. Surely we should therefore pause before we deprive the House of Lords or the Second Chamber of the power of having anything whatever to do with these matters.
It is well known that the instrument of taxation is the great method by which the Socialist party seek to introduce their own measures. It has been admitted by the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Snowden) that through taxation in Imperial matters, and through rates in municipal matters, they are going to attain their great ideal. The other day the Attorney-General made a somewhat far-fetched allusion to what might happen under certain circumstances if a Tariff Reform measure was ever passed in this House. He asked what might happen if the House of Lords refused to pass another measure reversing the Tariff Reform Bill, and he indicated that the result might be all sorts of social upheavals and disturbances, which might end in the total abolition of the House of Lords, unless these Resolutions were passed. That is why in these days of social reconstruction by means of Budgets we ought to give the House of Lords, or a Second Chamber, power to deal if it likes with a Tariff Reform Budget set up in this House. Admittedly a Tariff Reform Budget is passing a little beyond the bounds of fair finance It has far-reaching objects dealing with many matters, and not only the old methods of raising the money needed by the State in the simplest possible way. The Attorney - General knows there are in the House of Lords many distinguished Free Traders—Lord Cromer, Lord St. Aldwyn, and many men of that kind I do not think they belong to the Free Trade Union now that it has changed its title. But these are men who exercise great influence in the State, and we ought to give them an opportunity if they choose to do so, of moving the rejection of any possible Tariff Reform Bill sent up by this House.
I am trying to show there are so many possibilities in Finance Bills now that you are doing far more to-day than you would have been doing ten or fifteen years ago in saying to the Second Chamber, "You shall have no part or lot in this Bill." The point I wanted to present to the House, therefore, was that if a Finance Bill is like Aaron's rod, which swallowed up all the others, it becomes fifty times more important that we should spend far more time than has been allotted under this Resolution in discussing whether this House shall be the sole arbiter in great measures of social reconstruction and social reform.
The people of this country and of the British Empire will view with absolute amazement this Motion dealing with the allocation of time and suggesting such a totally inadequate period for dealing with these profoundly important Resolutions. What is it that these Resolutions propose to do? The Government, by their action, have already thrown the British Constitution into the melting-pot. What is their next step? They are prepared to recast it in the course of six days under this Motion, if it be carried. This new Constitution—it cannot be described in any other term—will be laid down on lines which are unlike those in any existing Constitution in any civilised country. It is diametrically opposed to the vital principles which have been embodied in all Constitutions granted to our self-governing Colonies by the Mother of Parliaments in years gone by, and it most emphatically violates the principles laid down in the Constitution granted to United South Africa by this very same Government only a year ago. I submit on these grounds that it is almost treating, not only this House, but the country, with a want of proper respect to suggest that this new Constitution shall be practically modelled in the course of six days, and on this ground I support the Amendment of my hon. Friend. I may add that I anticipate, if it is carried, a similar extension of time will be moved for in regard to the second Resolution.
§ Mr. ALFRED HAMERSLEY
One aspect of this matter has rather escaped the attention of hon. Members who have spoken, and that is that this Parliament and this Constitution of England, which has existed for so many hundred years, is about to be altered, and it is suggested that the alteration will be made in it by 294 the present Government in the very short period of five or six days under the closure. Have they considered, and, if they have not done so, I would respectfully entreat them to do so, the point of view of the Empire at large—the Empire and our dominions over the sea, in which I have spent the main part of my life, and the inhabitants and peoples of which I know so well. Those people will look to this Parliament for guidance—they look to it with trust and perfect confidence, and they regard what it does as a guide for them in the future. What shall we be able to say, when it is known to them that the rulers of this country in this Mother of Parliaments have chosen only to allocate five or six days for the alteration of a Constitution which has been their birthright? Is it not reasonable to suppose they will feel that in the future they cannot have the same confidence in this Parliament and this Constitution which they had in the past? We have heard the question raised whether Money Bills can be rejected or not by the House of Lords. I ask the Government to seriously consider this question, namely, the effect it must inevitably have on millions of people when they realise that changes are made in our ancient Constitution without ample time being allowed for mature and deliberate consideration and under the operation of the Closure. I hope the House will agree with my hon. Friend's Amendment.
§ 8.0 P.M.
§ Mr. H. S. FOSTER
The conduct of the Government in proposing these time limits upon this important question is a fair object lesson to the House and to the country as to what would happen if the Government were able to carry out their object of muzzling the House of Lords by excluding them from the consideration of Finance Bills, and then in turn muzzling the House of Commons and putting supreme power in the hands of two or three dictators in the inner ring of the Cabinet. It is perfectly obvious to the House and to the country that the two rulers of the Cabinet and of the majority in this House, and the people who exercise supreme power, are the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Home Secretary, and the serious point to my mind is that both those right hon. Gentlemen are avowed Socialists. I am quite prepared to support my statement by evidence. I have before me a remark made by the Home Secretary (Mr. Churchill) when, being rejected by an English constituency, he had to take refuge in a Scotch 295 one. At Dundee, on 2nd May, 1908, he said:—I should not be surprised if in my lifetime I should see a Socialist Government sitting on the Treasury Bench, and I should be very glad to give a certain measure of independent support to it on occasions when it was challenged by a strong Tory Opposition.That is exactly the state of things which occurs to-day, as the Socialist programme could be completely carried out under these Resolutions. By these Resolutions exclusive power is to be placed in this House, and the House of Lords is to be excluded from any voice in matters of finance, and we are asked in the space of about two, or less than two, Parliamentary days to affirm the principle that for the first time in 700 or 800 years the House of Lords is to have no voice whatever in Finance Bills in the future. Under that guise the whole Socialistic programme can be carried out.
I do not think there is any Socialist here who will deny that the whole Socialist programme is based upon Finance. By means of a Finance Bill, or a series of Finance Bills, the whole Socialist programme can be imposed upon this country. Is it right that a fundamental change such as that should be effected merely by the voice of a temporary majority in this House, whilst the House of Lords, as the guardians of the liberties of the people, should be excluded from having any voice, and that we are to be allowed only three or four Parliamentary days to discuss the whole ramifications of that question? Anyone who listened to the very able speech yesterday of the Member for King's Lynn (Mr. Gibson Bowles), and the criticism which he levelled against these Resolutions, will see what enormous questions are raised. Why do the Government wish to limit this discussion? They want to force these Resolutions without discussion, and then to go to the country and declare them to be the deliberate and considered judgment of the House of Commons. Do they think it right, or that it shows a spirit of true democracy to impose these Resolutions upon this House without allowing us to have anything like adequate discussion upon such a momentous change? Is it not a fair object lesson of the kind of spirit in which, after they have the power in the future, they would endeavour to impose their will not only upon this House but on the people of this country? The attempt of the Government to-night, first of all to persuade us to accept these time limits, 296 because this was only a preliminary canter to the deliberations on the Bill; and then the subsequent admission that we shall have no opportunity of discussing this question on the Bill absolutely disclosed the hand of the Government. Their one and only object is to prevent full and proper examination at the only critical period that a proposal of this kind can be properly examined, namely, on the Committee stage—to compel this House by the obedient majority which the Government can command, to declare in favour of something which they have not properly examined, to prevent the examination and the riddling of their proposals, as they would be riddled not only on this side but on their own, if full opportunity is given, then to rush these proposals up to the other House and take advantage of the opportunity which they have been seeking for the last four years of picking a quarrel with that House, finally going to the people, and saying, "This is the declared will of the House of Commons." I hope that these matters will be fully discussed in this House, so that we may at any rate show the extreme danger of allowing the Government that despotic power which they are showing that this closure means.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
I really do not think the Government can have sufficiently considered the complexity of the Resolution which they are asking the House to discuss in a day and a-half. When the Resolution is read through it evidently amounts to a novel series of highly controversial propositions. The Prime Minister said it merely reaffirmed in a statutory form the existing procedure, but there is a vehement controversy about what the Prime Minister meant when he said that the House of Lords ought not to interfere with Finance Bills and Appropriation Bills. The Resolution goes vastly further than Finance Bills or Appropriation Bills, and it is an extremely complicated proposal. If ever there was a proposal which required long and full discussion it is this Resolution, because on the face of it undoubtedly such a Bill as the Old Age Pensions Bill would be outside it. What otherwise means "the Appropriation control or regulation of public money.'' and matters incidental to that among other subjects. The Solicitor-General assents, but so far as I am able to see that is a matter of the appropriation of public money for the purpose of old age pensions, and at any rate, whether it is or net, it is a matter which we ought to have a full 297 opportunity of discussing, and we ought to know under which head points of that kind would come. We ought also to have, an opportunity of discussing what are the scope of these various classes divided by semicolons. For example, take again the words, "the provision of money by Parliament," separated from that class which is represented by "the appropriation, control, or regulation of public money." For aught I can say, "public money" includes rates as well as taxes, and, therefore, any Bill relating to rating, or the vast fabric of public health legislation or education, might well be within the limits of this Resolution, which is in the very widest terms.
This Resolution really reminds me of the clause in the Home Rule Bill which set out the category of subjects with which the Irish Parliament could and those with which it could not deal. It resembles that very much, and that clause we discussed for weeks and nobody ever suggested that a clause of that complexity, raising issue after issue of the most controversial kind, could be discussed in a day and a half. It is a curious illustration of how, when you have made a general statement, you forget the original text on which you have made it, and you spread it as far as language will carry you. The Prime Minister has got into the habit of saying that the House of Lords is excluded from finance, meaning originally that it is excluded from general taxation or appropriation of Supplies for the year. He may be wrong about that, but neither the Prime Minister nor any other Member of the Government has ever ventured to say that the House of Lords has riot repeatedly rejected Bills dealing with a particular tax allocation, because
§ it is notorious that they have done so. The Paper Duty is not the only instance; there are many others. All that is excluded, I gather, and the Solicitor-General would not dispute that those Bills, at any rate, are within the purview of the Resolution, and how can it possibly be maintained that this Resolution merely carries out the existing practice of Parliament.
§ It is evident that it is an enormous extension of the privileges of this House, even claimed, as they used to be claimed, by the Government themselves, and it is a still greater extension beyond what has ever been claimed by this House at any time in its history till last December. I think we have a very strong case, for claiming that an extension of time should be given beyond the miserably meagre amount of a day and a half. We ought to have an opportunity of discussing each of these Clauses and finding out what the Government mean first and then whether they say what they mean. We ought to be told exactly what are the Bills which will fall and which will not fall within these limitations, and it is clear that that cannot be done in a day and a half. Of course, we know that the respect for the House of Commons which the Government always professes is merely lip service, but if they have a real regard for the freedom of discussion and desire that this House shall get at the bottom of the matters laid before it, then certainly the Amendment which is before the House ought to be adopted.
§ Question put, "That.'7th' stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 263; Noes, 152.299
|Division No. 13.]||AYES.||[8.14 p.m.|
|Abraham, William||Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Davies, E. William (Ellion)|
|Addison, Dr. C.||Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Dawes, J. A.|
|Agnew, George William||Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney C. (Poplar)||Delany, William|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Byles, William Pollard||Devlin, Joseph|
|Alden, Percy||Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N.)|
|Allen, Charles P.||Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Donelan, Captain A.|
|Anderson, A.||Chancellor, H. G.||Doris, W.|
|Armitage, Robert||Chapple, W. A.||Duffy, William J.|
|Baker, H. T. (Accrington)||Clancy, John Joseph||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||Clough, William||Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley)|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Clynes, J. R.||Edwards, Enoch|
|Barnes, G. N.||Collins, G. P. (Greenock)||Elverston, H.|
|Barry, Edward (Cork, S.)||Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Esmonde, Sir Thomas|
|Barry, Redmond, J. (Tyrone, N.)||Collins, Sir Wm. J. (St. Pancras, W.)||Esslemont, George Birnle|
|Barton, William||Compton-Rickett, Sir J.||Falconer, J.|
|Benn, W. (Tower Hamlets, S. Gco.)||Condon, Thomas Joseph||Farrell, James Patrick|
|Bentham, G. J.||Cowan, W. H.||Fenwick, Charles|
|Boyle, D. (Mayo, N.)||Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||Ferens, T. R.|
|Brace, William||Crosfield, A. H.||Ffrench, Peter|
|Brady, P. J.||Crossley, Sir W. J.||Field, William|
|Brigg, Sir John||Cullinan, J.||Flavin, Michael Joseph|
|Brocklehurst, W. B.||Dalziel, Sir James H. (Kirkcaldy)||France, G. A.|
|Burke, E. Haviland||Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||Geider, Sir W. A.|
|Gibbins, F. W.||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Roche, Augustine (Cork)|
|Gibson, James P.||M'Callum, John M.||Roche, John (Galway, East)|
|Gill, A. H.||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Glover, Thomas||M'Laren, F. W. S. (Line, Spalding)||Rowntree. Arnold|
|Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Mallett, Charles E.||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Greig, Colonel J. W.||Marks, G. Croydon||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Gulland, John W.||Meagher, Michael||Samuel, J. (Stockton)|
|Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||Meehan, Francis E. (Leltrim, N.)||Seddon, J.|
|Hackett, J.||Menzies, Sir Walter||Seely, Col., Right Hon. J. E. B.|
|Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.||Middlebrook, William||Shackleton, David James|
|Hall, Frederick (Normanton)||Millar, J. D.||Shaw, Sir C. E.|
|Hancock, J. G.||Molloy. M||Sheehy, David|
|Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis (Rossendale)||Montagu, Hon. E. S.||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Hardle, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvll)||Mooney, J. J.||Simon, John Allsebrook|
|Harmtworth, R. L.||Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||Snowden, P.|
|Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, W.)||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Soares, Ernest J.|
|Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N.E.)||Muldoon, John||Spicer, Sir Albert|
|Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||Munro, R.||Stanley, Albert (Staffs., N.W.)|
|Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Murray, Captain Hon. A. C.||Summers, James Woolley|
|Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Muspratt, M.||Sutherland, J. E.|
|Haworth, Arthur A.||Nannetti, Joseph P.||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Hayden, John Patrick||Neilson, Francis||Trylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Hazleton, Richard||Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncaster)||Tennant, Harold John|
|Healy, Timothy Michael||Nolan, Joseph||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Nussey, Sir Willans||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Henderson, J. McD. (Aberdeen, W.)||Nuttall, Harry||Thomas, J. H. (Derby)|
|Henry, Charles S.||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Hindle, F. G.||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Thorne, William (West Ham)|
|Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Tomkinson, Rt. Hon. James|
|Hodge, John||O'Doherty, Philip||Trovelyan, Charles Philips|
|Hogan, Michael||O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S.)||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Holt, Richard Durning||O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)||Vivian, Henry|
|Hooper, A. G||O'Dowd, John||Wadsworth, J.|
|Hope, John Deans (File, West)||Ogden, Fred||Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)|
|Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)||Walsh, Stephen|
|Hudson, Walter||O'Malley, William||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Hughes, S. L.||O'Neill, Charles (Armagh, S.)||Wardle, George J.|
|Hunter, W. (Govan)||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Illingworth, Percy H.||O'Sullivan, Eugene||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Isaacs, Sir Rufus Daniel||Palmer, Godfrey Mark||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Johnson, W.||Parker, James (Halifax)||Watt, Henry A.|
|Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A.||White, Sir George (Norfolk)|
|Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)||White, Sir Luke (York. E.R.)|
|Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Pickersgill, Edward Hare||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Jowett, F. W.||Pointer, Joseph||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Joyce, Michael||Pollard, Sir George H.||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Kelly, Edward||Power, Patrick Joseph||Whyte, Alexander F. (Perth)|
|Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Wiles, Thomas|
|Kilbride, Denis||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)||Wilkie, Alexander|
|King, J. (Somerset, N.)||Radford, George Heynes||Williams, P. (Middlesbrough)|
|Lambert, George||Raffan, Peter Wilson||Williams, W. Llewelyn (Carmarthen)|
|Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, W.)||Rainy, A. Rolland||Wilson, Hon. G G. (Hull, W.)|
|Layland-Barratt, Sir Francis||Rea, Walter Russell||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W.R.)|
|Leach, Charles||Reddy, M.||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestershire, N.)|
|Lehmann, R. C.||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Wilson, T. F. (Lanark, N.E.)|
|Levy, Sir Maurice||Redmond, William (Clare)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Lewis, John Herbert||Rees, J. D.||Winfrey, Richard|
|Lincoln, Ignatius T. T.||Rendall, Athelstan||Wing, Thomas Henry|
|Low, Sir F. A. (Norwich)||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Wood, T. M'Kinnon (Glasgow)|
|Lundon, T.||Roberts, George H. (Norwich)||Young, W. (Perthshire, E.)|
|Luttrell, Hugh Fownes||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Lynch, A. A.||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)|
|Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mastar|
|Macdonaid, J. M. (Falkirk Burgh)||Robinson, S.||of Elibank and Mr. Fuller.|
|Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)|
|Acland-Hood, Rt. Hon. Sir Alex, F.||Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)|
|Adam, Major W. A.||Bathurst, Charles (Wilton)||Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University)|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Benn, I. H. (Greenwich)||Chaloner, Colonel R. G. W.|
|Arbuthnot, Gerald A.||Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worc'r.)|
|Archer-Shee, Major M.||Bird, A.||Chambers, J.|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Boyle, W. Lewis (Norfolk, Mid)||Clay, Captain H. H. Spender|
|Baird, J. L.||Bracken bury, H. L.||Clive, Percy Archer|
|Baker, Sir R. L. (Dorset, N.)||Brassey, H. L. C. (N'thamptonshire, N.)||Coatcs, Major E. F.|
|Balcarres, Lord||Brassey, Capt. R. (Banbury)||Colelax, H. A.|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Bull, Sir William James||Cooper, Capt. Bryan (Dublin, S.)|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City, Lond.)||Burdett-Coutts, W.||Cooper, R. A. (Walsall)|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. H. M.||Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)|
|Banner, John S. Harmood||Carton, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H.||Craig, Norman (Kent)|
|Barnston, H.||Cave, George||Craik, Sir Henry|
|Croft, H. P.||Hickmann, Colonel T.||Perkins, Walter F.|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers||Hill, Sir Clement||Peto, Basil Edward|
|Duke, H. E.||Hillier, Dr. A. P.||Pollock, Ernest Murray|
|Eyres-Monsell, B. M.||Hoare, S. J. G.||Pretyman, E. G.|
|Faber, George Denison (Clapham)||Hope, Harry (Bute)||Proby, Col. Douglas James|
|Fell, Arthur||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Qullter, William Elcy C.|
|Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||Horner, A. L.||Randies, Sir John Scurrah|
|Finlay, Sir Robert||Houston, Robert Paterson||Rawson, Colonel R. H.|
|Fitzroy, Hon. E. A.||Hunt, Rowland||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue||Jackson, John A. (Whitehaven)||Rolleston, Sir John|
|Fleming, Valentine||Keswick, William||Royds, Edmund|
|Fletcher, J. S.||Kimber, Sir Henry||Rutherford, Watson|
|Forster, Henry William||King, Sir Henry Seymour (Hull)||Sanders, Robert A.|
|Foster, H. S. (Suffolk, N.)||Knight, Capt. E. A.||Sanderson, Lancelot|
|Foster, J. K. (Coventry)||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Sandys, G. `J. (Somerset, Wells)|
|Foster, Philip S. (Warwick, S.W.)||Law, Andrew Bonar (Dulwich)||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Gardner, Ernest||Lee, Arthur H.||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Gibbs, G. A.||Lewisham, Viscount||Starkey, John R.|
|Gilmour, Captain J.||Liewelyn, Major Vonables||Stewart, Sir M'T. (Kirkcudbright)|
|Goldman, C. S.||Lloyd, G. A.||Strauss, A.|
|Goldsmith, Frank||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Sykes, Alan John|
|Gooch, Henry Cubitt||Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droitwich)||Terrell, H. (Gloucester)|
|Gordon, J||MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh||Thompson, Robert|
|Goulding, Edward Alfred||Mackinder, Halford J.||Tobin, Alfred Aspinall|
|Grant, J. A.||Macmaster, Donald||Tryon, Capt. George Clement|
|Greene, W. R.||Magnus, Sir Philip||Valentia, Viscount|
|Guinness, Hon. W. E.||Meysey-Thompson, E. C.||Verrall, George Henry|
|Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight)||Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas||Walrond, Hon. Lionel|
|Hambro, Angus Valdemar||Mitchell, William Foot||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claude|
|Hamersley, A. St. George||Moore, William||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Hamilton, Marquess of (Londonderry)||Morpeth, viscount||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashford)||Morrison. Captain J. A.||Worthington-Evans, L. (Colchester)|
|Harris, F. L. (Stepney)||Mount, William Arthur||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart|
|Harris, H. P. (Paddington, S.)||Newton, Harry Kottingham||Younger, George (Ayr Burghs)|
|Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Nicholson, Wm. G. (Petersfleld)|
|Heath, Col. A. H.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Captain|
|Helmsley, Viscount||Parkes, Ebenezer||Faber and Mr. Carlile.|
|Hermon-Hodge, Sir Robert||Peel, Hon. W. R. W. (Taunton)|
§ Sir F. BANBURY
moved, in the fourth paragraph, to leave out "Thursday, the 14th" [Thursday, the 14th day of April next], and to insert instead thereof "Monday, the 18th."
The Resolution says that the proceedings in Committee on the second Resolution shall be brought to a conclusion at 7.30 p.m. on Thursday, the 14th day of April next, and the proceedings in Committee on the third Resolution shall be "brought to a conclusion at 10 p.m. on Thursday, the 14th day of April next." A very simple mathematical calculation will show that that leaves exactly two hours and a half to discuss the third Resolution. What is the third Resolution which the Government consider two hours and a half sufficient to discuss? The third Resolution is the repeal of an Act which has been in force for 200 years. [Laughter.] I am surprised that an hon. Member below the Gangway who is moved to mirth by that statement is going to allow two hours and a half in which to repeal the Septennial Act. It "would be sufficient in his view, no doubt, to say that the Labour party disapproves of the Act, and, therefore, it is to be repealed without any further discussion; but that is not the way to enhance the dignity of the House of Commons. The Attorney-General, a short time ago, told us that he and his party were desirous 302 of maintaining and advancing the dignity of the House of Commons. The dignity of the House of Commons is not advanced or maintained if you only allow two and a half hours as sufficient to repeal an Act under which the people of this country have been living for the last 200 years. I still think that a considerable proportion of the Members of the House, certainly all on this side and come on the other side, consider that when you are going to introduce a revolution in the Constitution you should do it with a certain amount of decency and decorum, and that you should allow sufficient time for the discussion of the revolution which you are proposing. I think the right hon. Gentlemen on the Treasury Bench will admit that the Government in allowing only two and a half hours for the discussion of this important Resolution hardly realise what they are doing. They are anxious to get these Resolutions in a certain time, and I presume they thought that the third was the least important and that two and a half hours would be sufficient for its consideration. I do not see why there should be any particular sanctity about 14th April. I do not see why 20th or 21st April should not be the date. [An HON. MEMBER: "April 1st."] We are past that date unless the hon. Member means 1911, in which case I should not have the slightest objec- 303 tion. We should be doing more for the interests of the country if we took more time for the discussion of these Resolutions and did not allow them to be rushed through in this manner. I do not appeal to hon. Members below the Gangway, for I know that they desire to abolish everything except themselves, and that these propositions should not be discussed. They seem to feel that we should take our hats off and go on our knees and be thankful that we are allowed two and a half hours to discuss a proposal like this. I am speaking now to hon. Gentlemen on the Treasury Bench who have not descended so low in the scale of revolution as hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway. They still wish to preserve a certain regard for the habits and customs of the House of Commons. They still boast that they desire to consider suggestions made to the Government of the day. Only a few days ago the Chief Secretary for Ireland told us that he was always anxious to listen to suggestions made by hon. Members on all sides of the House. If the right hon. Gentleman were here now, I am sure he would listen to the reasonable request I am making that the Government should give nine and a half hours to discuss this Resolution. I ask that, before the repeal of the Septennial Act, we should have one Parliamentary day and a half to consider whether it is really desirable to repeal it. That Resolution deals entirely with this House, and it is a matter on which ail Members should have an opportunity of expressing their opinions. If you divide two and a half hours into half-hours, you will find that it comprises exactly five half-hours—that is to say, time for five ordinary speeches. [Laughter.] Well, half an hour is not a long time to take in making a speech. I have heard hon. Members below the Gangway speak considerably longer than half an hour when making speeches on matters in which they were interested. I remember the late Sir William Harcourt stated that the House of Commons should still remain the great debating assembly of the nation. It comprises 670 Members, and all of them are great speakers. [Laughter.] Well, most of them. I do not wish to make any distinction between hon. Members in that matter. And yet there is to be opportunity for only five of them to speak half an. hour on a matter which vitally concerns the House of Commons. I think we should have had one of the Leaders of the House present to give us some argument why my 304 moderate request should not be acceded to. I suppose the only argument will be that there is net sufficient time. Still, we are not slaves of time. We can make sufficient time if we delay our holidays. If we do that we shall enjoy them all the more, knowing that we have done our duty, and not brought any ancient custom to an end without giving it due consideration. I have very great pleasure in moving the Amendment, though I am afraid that it will not be accepted. If we are to have a single Chamber, at any rate I presume that we shall be allowed discussion in that single Chamber. As matters stand at present, it seems to me that we are not going to have any discussion either in a single Chamber or any other Chamber. If my Amendment is not accepted, I hope at least, for the sake of the dignity of the House of Commons, that some more or less reasonable argument will be advanced as a 'reason for rejecting it.
§ Mr. ARTHUR FELL
I beg to second the Amendment moved by my hon. Friend. In doing so, I wish to ask the representatives of the Government whether they really think that two and a half hours give an adequate opportunity for the discussion not of the Resolution, but of the Amendments which have been put down, each of which would require a certain amount of time for discussion. I should like to know how it can possibly be suggested that discussion on the proposal of the Government and the Amendments to it can be carried through in the short period of time which is available for the purpose. If I may say so, each of these principal Resolutions, such as this, will form the subject of what I should call a full-dress Debate. It will be moved, no doubt, by the Prime Minister, and will be opposed by the Leader of the Opposition, and, I presume the Leader of the Irish party and the Leader of the Labour party will speak on it. I should like to known then what time will be left over for any other Members of the House to join in taking part in a discussion which materially affects every Member of the House. The question whether the House is to endure three or four or seven years will be a material factor in determining the position of many men who stand for Parliament. If they should find that they could under no circumstances be elected for a longer period than three or four years, many of them would say, "It is not worth my while to undertake the labour of an election which 305 will have to be gone through again in so short a time with all the possible chances and changes which an election provides." Surely those men who will be so deeply affected should have some chance given them of putting their views, I will not say before the Government, but at any rate before the reporters in the Gallery, so that it may be known in the country to some extent what feeling there is on this subject of exceedingly short parliaments. The proposal may be good of bad, and Members may agree or differ from it but that it should be hurried through in a formal Debate with only four speeches— for I do not think there will be time for any more—cannot be considered as reasonable. If the Government consider the matter they will see themselves that some extension of time is necessary. The course proposed is the most drastic form of programme I have ever heard of. The expense of a General Election is said to be £2,000,000, and it is a material factor in the case as to whether that sum should have to be spent every two years. [HON. MEMBKRS: "Five years."] There are other suggestions that the time should be shortened, and if so they should be discussed. It is a very serious thing for Members of this House to force them to spend these large sums which an election requires more frequently than they have to do at the present time. I do not say that Parliaments at the present time continue for seven years, but it is perfectly certain that if the period was five or four years, or whatever might be the time fixed on, they will in those cases just as at present rarely run their full time; and when they feel the impending death hanging over them there is a great tendency to anticipate it and to have the election the year before. The result is that the election may be every four years or even three years, and you will increase the charge of future Members of Parliament and of future candidates, who are generally nearly equal in number to the Members, and will cause them great expense. This is an immense factor in Parliamentary life.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr. Emmott)
The hon. Member appears to be anticipating discussion on a matter which does not arise at present.
§ Mr. FELL
I was trying to show that the time given will not prove adequate for the discussion of the important matters that will come before us, and of the Amendments which will be moved, and 306 which, I hope, in the interest of all parties, will be discussed. I wish that the Prime Minister were here so that he could say whether he thought that the two and a half hours were adequate time for the discussion of this most extremely important Resolution. What may be the future of it has nothing to do with us; but does any man in the House consider that a Resolution of this kind should be carried and should go forward to the country as the expression of opinion of the House of Commons after only four speeches are made upon it, and when no Member on the back benches has any possible chance of taking part in the discussion?
§ The CHANCELLOR of the DUCHY (Mr. Joseph Pease)
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London spoke at some length on the necessity for speeches of half an hour duration on the proposal to reduce the number of years from seven to five as the duration of Parliament. He alluded to the fact that there are 670 Members, all good speakers, in the House of Commons, yet he himself proposed to extend the time allotted only by one day. One day and a half will be devoted to the first Resolution, and the time of the second Resolution will amount to two whole days and two half days, giving a total of three days. The Government have come to the conclusion that the relative importance of the third Resolution would be met by the time allotted, having regard to the day and a half given to the first Resolution, and the three days devoted to the second. They also consider that after the second Resolution the argument for maintaining the Septenial Act practically vanishes. It is perfectly true that if we were really actively going to repeal the Septennial Act by passing these Resolutions, the time suggested would be inadequate. Every Member of this House knows that we are proposing at the present time Veto Resolutions which will not be effective in the same way as a Bill would be effective in the House of Commons. When the Bill comes to be considered, as I hope it may, in that event, of course, adequate time will be given to the House to discuss three, four or five years as the duration of Parliament. The Government think five years an improvement and an absolutely essential reduction as compared with seven years, which at present exists. For these reasons, I am sorry to say, we cannot meet the representations made by the Opposition in favour of their Amendment.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I really do not think that the right hon. Gentleman can himself believe that he has dealt adequately with the Amendment moved and seconded by my hon. Friends. He really has not pretended to argue the question, but says that in the judgment of His Majesty's advisers sufficient time is allotted to the House of Commons on these particular questions. Why is it sufficient time? On what grounds have the Government come to the conclusion that it is sufficient time? Of that he has given only the most shadowy sketch. Just let me repeat, if I may be permitted to do so, the right hon. Gentleman's own statement to the House of the reasons why the Government give two and a half hours to this Resolution. I think it is really less than two and a half hours, because if the Committee look at the Resolutions they will find that at 7.30 p.m. we are to divide on all the Questions which are necessary to bring the previous Resolutions to an end. At ten o'clock we are to begin to divide on all the Questions which are necessary to bring this repeal of the Septennial Act to an end. If we begin to divide at 7.30 p.m., you will not begin to discuss the next Resolution at that hour. You will do well if you only take half an hour for the Divisions, so that, in fact, it is much more likely to be one and a half or two hours than two and a half hours that the Government will give to the discussion of the repeal of the Septennial Act. I admit that is a very small point. But it is not the difference of half an hour which makes the difference between the right hon. Gentlemen opposite and ourselves. We think it is a very important matter, and one that has not been, as far as we can see, considered at all. We have really had no discussion of it in the Debate this evening, and I do not believe there has been any discussion of it in the country. It has been tacked on to the Resolutions rather unexpectedly by the Government. Why do the Government give two and a half hours to this Resolution? It seems to me that their own evil example corrupts their good manners. The first reason which the right hon. Gentleman gave was that, having decided that one and a half days are sufficient to dispose of the first Resolution, and three and a half days for the second, then by a simple political rule of three the Government have come to the determination that one and a half or two hours are good enough for the third Resolution. That is the right hon. 308 Gentleman's first explanation of the Government's policy. What is their rule of three? How do the Government measure the importance of these Resolutions? Have they made any inquiry in any quarter of the House? They say that the Veto of the House of Lords was before the country at the last election? Was the shortening of Parliament before the country—prominently before the country? [An HON. MEMBER: "Yes, at the Albert Hall."] The Prime Minister made a statement at the Albert Hall; it was one of the matters he merely mentioned. It was upon the guarantees that it was thought the Government meant something. How is the country to know that a passing reference to the shortening of Parliament at that time had all the importance which the studied reference to the guarantee possessed? How is the country to find out which, among the utterances of the Prime Minister, represent his settled opinion, and which are merely an unfortunate, shall I say, misuse of language leading to misconceptions on the part of the country? It is perfectly absurd to think that the country gave any serious attention to the question of the shortening of Parliament at the last election. I do not think they paid more serious attention to the other proposals of the Government as foreshadowed in these Resolutions; but, however that may be, I say that the rule of three principle of the right hon. Gentleman opposite is really a derisive reason for settling what time the House of Commons should give to the consideration of so great a subject. His second observation was that if the second Resolution was passed the third Resolution would be a natural corollary and sequel. Why? I think the second Resolution is as extensive—
§ Mr. JOSEPH PEASE
I could not go into the reason why one Veto Resolution had an effect upon the other. If I had done so, I should, of course, have had to argue the whole question of the Veto Resolutions.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
The peculiarity of the Resolution of Closure to which we are now devoting ourselves is that it does not refer to a Veto Resolution at all, but that for some reason the Government have glued the two together in their own mind, and now they cannot separate them. Why did the right horn Gentleman give us that as a reason for the one hour and a half or two hours discussion of the repeal of the Septennial 309 Act? It was because an the opinion of the Government that if you pass the second Resolution you must pass the third. I think the second Resolution is very bad, but why should it follow that if the second Resolution is passed, therefore the third Resolution must be passed? The third Resolution deals with a distinct matter. I may be misinterpreting the right hon. Gentleman; if so, I am not doing it willingly, but I am merely quoting what he said. The right hon. Gentleman has raised the curtain, for a moment as it were, to give me a glimpse into the dark-room, and I am trying to see what is there. I gather that his idea is that if you place autocratic and absolute power in the hands of a single. Chamber, which the second Resolution does, it follows as a necessary corollary that the single Chamber must not seek to do business for more than four years, and must not have a legal life of more than five years for fear it should abuse its absolute authority, and that therefore it is so evident that you must shorten the life of the House of Commons, if you give it this autocratic power, that it is not necessary to discuss this last proposal for more than two and a half hours. If I misrepresent the right hon. Gentleman he will correct me. I understood that was the meaning of the reference to the connection between the second and the third Resolutions. That passes a brilliant light over the time the Government propose to allot to this second Resolution.
The remedy which the Government offer is no certain cure for the disease which we fear will arise. An autocratic House of Commons may abuse this authority and misrepresent the country in the first Session quite as well as in its last. Indeed, in some ways it is more likely to do so, as my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition put it on a previous occasion, because it is the tendency of all of us to be more anxious about the opinions of our Constituents immediately before an election than immediately afterwards. If that be so, I venture to say that the second reason that the right hon. Gentleman has given for guillotining this proposal to shorten the duration of Parliament is really of no value, and that the moment you examine it you only see how important a proposal it is and how inadequate the time the Government propose to allot. The third reason which the Chancellor of the Duchy gave was the reason with which the Prime Minister opened the ball this afternoon, and which, as we 310 understood it then, carried great force and weight, namely, that in assenting to these Resolutions we were in fact only consenting to read the Bill the first time, and that the real examination of the proposals came not upon the Resolution, but upon the Bill itself, and that the Second Reading Committee stage and the Third Reading would really enable the House of Commons to search these proposals to find exactly what they meant, and to modify and to change them as they please, and that indeed there might be such a revulsion of feeling in the House upon the subject, that though willing to read the Bill the first time, as we read a great many Bills that are never meant to be proceeded with to their final stage, that when we came to the final stage of this Bill this same House of Commons might reject the Bill. That would be a very good reason. I have never myself been a great defender of procedure by Resolution. I have always expressed my willingness in regard to a class of Bills with which that procedure has been habituated to reconsider it, and I think I have urged upon the Government to reconsider it. I do not think that procedure by Resolution is really very suitable. It is used only for Money or Finance Bills, but I do not think it is suitable to our present Parliamentary situation. I think it was required at a time when printing was not done so rapidly between the rising and meeting of the House, when notices could not be served on Members of what the business was, in the way they can be now, and when the only way to secure that the House of Commons should know what money was voted, and what it was voted for, was to go through a rather cumbrous procedure. I do not think those checks and safeguards answer any good purpose to-day. I think they waste a good deal of time. I, at any rate, view with the most friendly eye any proposals for reform. I said this before, I repeat it, and I will do so again at any time. I am not, therefore, a great upholder of the Resolutions stage, nor do I desire that Resolutions should occupy inordinate time if the House of Commons is going to have as a result of the Resolutions the opportunity of considering their legislative embodiment on the further stages of the Bill. We are not going; to have any such opportunity. The; Government no longer pretend that we are; they have told us to-day that the Resolutions commit the House to nothing, 311 that they are so little important that two and a-half hours is enough for one of them and three and a-half is enough for another, and the whole thing can be got over in less than a fortnight of Parliamentary time. And yet now we know this is the only opportunity the House of Commons is going to have of discussing them. [HON. MEMBERS: "NO, no."] That this is the only opportunity the House of Commons is going to have of discussing them, and the whole object of moving these Resolutions, guillotining the Resolutions, and putting them to the vote is to take them to the country as the considered opinion of the House of Commons, though the Prime Minister has admitted himself this afternoon, here on the floor of the House of Commons, that they are nothing of the kind. That is the fraud on the people which the Government are asking the House to make themselves parties to at the present time. My friends and myself at any rate will be no parties to the fraud.
§ Mr. LANE-FOX
I should like to say a word on the subject because, as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcestershire pointed out, this is likely to be the only occasion on which this subject will be discussed, while the discussion is to be so limited in extent as to be merely possibly one and a-half hours on one of the Resolutions. I am quite aware I cannot at this stage discuss the merits of the question, but the question of limiting the time is one of enormous importance, and involves very large and considerable issues. The Prime Minister himself said that this matter had practically not been discussed during the course of the great Debate that has taken place, and he gave amongst his reasons that one reason why it would not be necessary to discuss this third Resolution is that during the whole course of the Debate this particular Resolution had scarcely been mentioned at all. I admit that in view of the many other important considerations involved this particular Resolution has been largely left out of account; but that seems to me a very strong reason indeed for allowing more time than the miserable beggarly pittance proposed in the Motion before us. Why is it necessary that when the fateful hour of ten arrives on that particular day we should divide' and go home to bed? Here is a great question, which some Members of the Labour party and advanced Members of the Liberal party have consistently put forward in their election addresses. 312 Personally, I object to the proposal for shorter Parliaments, because it would involve a series of costly elections which I think would be unnecessary. But I cannot go into that question now. Why is it that at the hour of ten we are to go home to bed?
§ Mr. LANE-FOX
My argument does not depend on the hour of ten; it depends on the day and on the time allotted. It would be far better, instead of allowing only an hour and a-half, that we should have, if necessary, an all-night sitting, or at any rate a longer sitting. If the House is not really interested in the question, the discussion would be short, and hon. Members would go home to bed, as no doubt they would be very glad to do. On the other hand, if considerable interest were shown in the matter, there would be proper time for its discussion. This is a question of great importance at the present moment, because this may be our only opportunity of discussing the matter at all. The Prime Minister has told us that if the storm clouds gather, and he has reason to believe that the Bill embodying these Resolutions would not be favourably received in another place, the discussion will not be continued. We were told that in plain and unqualified words when the Home Secretary very obligingly, and not for the first time, let the Government cat out of the bag. We are very grateful to the Home Secretary for telling Members things that they perhaps would never have been told otherwise. In view of his statement and of the Prime Minister's endorsement of it, it is perfectly absurd to say that an hour and a half's discussion, which may be the only one in this House, is sufficient for dealing with the question. The proposal is utterly ridiculous, and I shall have pleasure in supporting the Amendment.
§ Mr. JOSEPH KING
I desire, as a new Member witnessing for the first time the hollow farce of talking against time, to utter my protest against the tactics of the Opposition. It seems to me, after following the Debate for two or three hours, as I have done, that there is a put-up job on the other side for one Member to rise after another to waste time, and for no other purpose. I am not only surprised, I am disgusted, that the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcestershire 313 should be a party to such a hollow farce. I am not going to play the game of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on the other side by wasting the time of the House, but I am here to state that I can now go to my Constituents and tell them how on mere trifles, on mere quibbles, by repeating again and again one speech after another, on the same barren and unfruitful points, the time of this House is being wasted. We know perfectly well why. It is being wasted because hon. Gentlemen opposite are afraid to face this matter in fair debate, and they want to waste on mere quibbles the time allotted to the Resolutions. I am here to protest against this farce and to wonder at the tactics of the Opposition.
§ Mr. ARKWRIGHT
The hon. Member opposite (Mr. King) has made an interesting and not particularly discursive speech. May I take him as an illustration in connection with the important point we are now discussing? He is apparently prepared to go to his Constituents within a very short time to tell them that in his opinion, after his long experience of the House of Commons, one and a half hours is sufficient time for the discussion of a matter which for many years has been a great public question, which has been adopted as part of its policy by one definite party in the State, the Labour party, and which has occupied the minds of men very seriously for a long time. As to the time allotted, when the Minister in charge has shown how this proposal is an integral part of the Government scheme, we shall in the ordinary course of Debate hear the point of view of the Opposition from our Leader or from some other ex-Minister, who will in turn be followed by the representatives of Members from Ireland and of the Labour party.
§ Debate resumed.
§ Mr. ARKWRIGHT
I am sorry that my remarks are inconvenient to the hon. Member. Speaking as a Member who has been in this House as many years as he has weeks, and who has possibly occupied less time than he has, I think, when I do address the House, I should be allowed to make my remarks without interruption. As I was saying, we shall hear the points 314 of view of the four different parties in the House. Personally I should like to know the view of the hon. Member for Merthyr on the question of quinquennial Parliaments quite as much as the view of the Chairman of the Labour party As we saw this afternoon, it is now the plan in the contemplation of the Government, very thinly veiled, that it is possible that this-is the only occasion when we can discuss this matter. It is on the hour and a half that they are going to the country.
§ Mr. ARKWRIGHT
The right hon. Member knows that it is not even two-hours and a half; it is two hours. Let me put it to the right hon. Gentleman from the point of view of the man outside this House. How is he going to look at it? I am" afraid that it will lie in our power on this side to point out to him that a question of this magnitude was deliberately allowed that amount of time, and that amount of time only, by the responsible advisers of the Crown. It is part of the scheme plainly not thought out; part of a scheme of revolution which has been preceded with long words and a great blowing of trumpets and waving of flags by hon. Gentlemen opposite—an integral part of their scheme. The ordinary elector outside is going to ask himself whether an hour and a half is sufficient for the discussion of this, and will ask himself, "Are they right or not?" I think he is going to come to the conclusion which will be adverse both to right hon. Gentlemen on the bench opposite and' to the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down. It is that to my mind absolutely ludicrous both from the point of view of anybody who knows the course of discussion in this House, and also from the ordinary point of view of the man in the street, the ordinary elector in the constituency, that this proposal of the Government should have so absolutely and manifestly inadequate and absurd a time allowed for its discussion. One thing I do welcome, although that will not justify me in voting for it, and that is that this is so palpable a farce, so thin and so transparent that it has given us, practically given us, our case on this side of the House. I thank the right hon. Gentleman for that, though my conscience would not allow me to vote for it.
§ Mr. H. S. FOSTER
I wonder if in the long record of this House there is a single 315 instance which can be quoted of a proposal such as this Government have submitted to the House to-day to do away, after about two hours' discussion, with the Septennial Act, which has been in force for about 200 years. Has this House in future to be no longer considered a temple for free discussion, but a mere place for registering the decrees of the Government? That is what it amounts to. What is the object of this House going into Committee upon any ordinary proposals? We have known in times past that when proposals have passed a Second Reading, everybody has said that the critical stage of the proposal would come when the House went into Committee and considered the proposals in detail. That is the object of the Committee, and for that very reason it is the rule of the House, when the House is in Committee, that Members are allowed to rise more than once for the purpose of discussing the matter without exhausting their right to speak. The object is to have a free discussion and a thorough examination in detail of the proposals. Can it be seriously suggested, even by the hon. Member who treated us to that effusion a few moments ago with his acknowledged inexperience of discussion in this House, that the proposal, which must be of enormous importance, not only to this House, but to the country at large, can be adequately discussed in a trifle over two hours? The hon. Member opposite may be called upon unawares for his Amendment.
§ Mr. H. S. FOSTER
In any case, I am quite sure that the hon. Gentleman himself will be one of the first to say—I do not know whether he will be free to say it, but I am quite sure he will freely say outside—that such proposals as these to allocate to this House two hours for the discussion of such far-reaching proposals are utterly ludicrous and unprecedented is our annals. This House has never been subjected to such a degrading proposal as that to which it is subjected now at the hands of this Government—this Government which professes to care for the dignity of the House. I say there never was a more degrading proposal submitted to this House than that the Government are decreeing a period of two hours for the discussion of a proposal, and at the end 316 of that two hours we are to pledge ourselves by Resolution. The argument of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Somerset was that the Government having decreed a certain space of time, that we are wasting part of that time in discussing the proposal. If that argument is to hold good for the future, when the Government proposes the guillotine, however tyrannically, we must not discuss it, because we are taking up so much of the time that the Government has graciously proposed to allot to this House. I dare not use adjectives which are appropriate in this House to describe the tyrannical action of the Government and the subservient majority—to use the Prime Minister's words—which apparently is going to back the Government up in taking away the liberties of speech in this House.
§ Sir WILLIAM ANSON
I cannot help thinking that the duration of Parliament is a matter of some importance. I am sorry I did not hear the whole of the speech of the Chancellor of the Duchy, but what I did hear came to this: That the Government have carefully considered the matter; they have determined that five years are long enough for a Parliament, and they are allowing us two hours in which to discuss that. It is idle to talk of this matter as a trifling thing, and to say that we are simply wasting time because we ask to have more than two hours' discussion of the question. It has only been raised twice before in the long Parliamentary history of our country. When the Triennial Bill was re-enacted in the reign of William III., I believe, the Royal Veto was only imposed once before the Bill became law. Then we come to the Septennial Act. That was passed when the Dissolution of Parliament might have been extremely dangerous to this country. The Government has made up its mind that a period of five years is enough for the duration of Parliament. We are not, I understand, to have any further opportunity of discussing it. We were led at the beginning of the Debate this afternoon to believe that these Resolutions were to be embodied in a Bill in which all the pros and cons of the various enormous topics—topics of the utmost importance to the Constitution of the country —which are raised in the Resolutions shall be fully discussed on the Second Reading, in Committee, and on the Third Reading in this House. Now we are told that probably no Bill will be introduced and therefore this is the only opportunity we shall 317 have of discussing the question which has not been raised for 200 years, and which, whenever it was raised, was raised in circumstances that the people of the time realised its importance. There is one thing that occurs to me to ask. If the duration of Parliament is to be for five years, does the Government propose to make any change in the character in the different sorbs of legislation to be affected by these Resolutions, because unless there is some limitation or some sort of written Constitution is devised it can be upset by any ordinary process of legislation. When you have emasculated the House of Lords and established single-Chamber government there is no reason why Parliaments should not extend the quinquennial period to any length of time. I think we ought to have some explanation from the Government as to what they mean to do about this quinquennial period. When they give unlimited power to the House of Commons they can extend the duration of one Parliament and they can do what they please to prolong its existence indefinitely.
Has this matter ever been considered by the country? Surely the country is interested in the length of time to which it commits its fortunes to the party that happens to be in power after a General Election. Has this ever been before the country? We are told it figured in the Albert Hall speech, but we now know that a great deal has happened since the Albert Hall speech. The Government found itself confronted with difficulties it did not contemplate when the Albert Hall speech was delivered. The Prime Minister in that speech put forward propositions he has since modified and withdrawn. In these circumstances it cannot possibly be said that the mere mention of these quinquennial Parliaments in the Albert Hall speech was sufficient. No doubt it figured in the Resolutions of Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman of 1907, but the country never had an opportunity of considering it. Will the House of Commons have an opportunity of considering it? We are told that a Bill will be introduced, but we have no assurance that the Bill will ever be discussed. Are these Resolutions and the subject of quinquennial Parliaments merely to be a manifesto upon which the Government intend to go to the country, or are they matters on which the House of Commons are to be consulted? I press this point, because when the time comes the Government will probably assert, with the habitual accuracy of electioneering promises, that the Resolutions represent 318 the considered opinion of the House of Commons. How can it be said that the House of Commons has deliberately and with full knowledge and consideration of all the facts and all the political bearings of the great changes that are really presented in these Resolutions, about quinquennial Parliaments, considered the opinion of the country when the discussion is limited to the miserable, pitiful period of two hours?
§ The POSTMASTER-GENERAL (Mr. Herbert Samuel)
The hon. Baronet has stated that the House of Commons would never have an opportunity of discussing at any stage the Bill which is to be founded upon these Resolutions. If that is the case, certain it is that these Resolutions will never have the force of law. Not until the House of Commons has had a full opportunity of discussing in all its stages a Bill embodying these proposals with this proposal embodying the quinquennial Parliaments can it ever take effect. The hon. Baronet asked me what precisely was the scope of the third Resolution; how far it proposed to limit the duration of Parliament, and what legislation was intended to be covered by its scope? It is quite obvious that this is not the occasion upon which, however much I might desire to do so, I might give an answer to this question. We are discussing procedure Resolutions, and the terms of the Resolutions themselves explain what their purpose is. Every extension, of course, adopted in the Resolutions will have to be considered in the House. I should be perfectly inclined to answer any questions which the hon. Baronet might put in regard to these fundamental changes, which, according to him and others, are of such profound importance; but I should like to know, Are they objected to by the Opposition or not? We have, so far, heard from no responsible leader on the other side that they have any objection whatever to the proposed limitation of Parliament to five years, or that this Resolution is to be regarded in any sense as a controversial Resolution. Indeed, so far as we are aware, it is approved by every section of the House of Commons. It has clearly formed part of the programme of the Government. It has not been the subject of attack by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcester (Mr. Austen Chamberlain), and we may safely assume he entertains no very violent or deep-rooted objection to it.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I cannot, of course, give my reasons, but if the right hon. Gentleman wants my personal opinion, I am strongly opposed to it; but I must not attempt to state my reasons.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
I did not expect the right hon. Gentleman to state his views, but I confess with some surprise that on a question of procedure hon. Gentlemen opposite did not find it necessary to denounce a proposal which they think most detrimental to the interests of the country.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I proposed this Amendment. I did not go into the merits, because it would not have been in order to do so, but I object to this proposal upon its merits.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
I did not understand that. No one suggested that this was a highly controversial Resolution which in the opinion of hon. Gentlemen opposite presented grave constitutional dangers. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcester tried to make our flesh creep by calling this a repeal of the Septennial Act, and he conjured up visions of a kind of Long Parliament and the sweeping away by Parliament of any limitation upon its own mortality and making itself a permanent ruler in this country. The effect of the Resolution is, of course, quite the opposite, and so far from repealing the Septennial Act, it strengthens the Act that now limits the duration of Parliament. The Resolution, of course, is important.
§ Sir WILLIAM ANSON
What I really wanted to know is what security there would be, having regard to the other Resolutions. Might it not be altered at the pleasure of the House of Commons?
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
I suggest that this is not a question that arises. It certainly does not arise to-day. It cannot even arise upon the third Resolution, but it can properly be discussed upon the second Resolution, and I have no doubt it will be. Consequently this question can in no degree arise or be discussed when we come to discuss the two and a half hours to be allotted to the third Resolution. The issue is no doubt an important one, but it is an exceedingly simple one. Anyone can make up his mind from very obvious arguments whether he is in favour of quinquennial, triennial, or septennial Parliaments. The issue is perfectly simple to be decided. If hon. Members will look 320 at the Amendment Paper they will find on this point only one Amendment of any substance.
Sir HENRY DALZIEL
May I point out that I have an Amendment down which would prevent the Committee dealing with this question at all?
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
Yes; but that would not arise on the issue we are now discussing. What I am pointing out is that the Amendments which stand on the Paper to this particular Resolution are almost alt derisory Amendments. The Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for East Down would alter the Resolution in such a way as to provide that Parliament shall sit for not less than five years when a Unionist Government is in power. No doubt that might be acceptable to many hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, but it is not one which the House of Commons would be disposed to devote very much time to. For these reasons we consider the time which is allotted for the discussion of the three Resolutions is ample for the purpose. The guillotine is always an uncomfortable process, no matter how kindly disposed the executioners may be. We have been told by the right hon. Gentleman opposite that we are the inventors of this instrument. I know it is commonly believed that Dr. Guillotin, who is regarded as the inventor of the guillotine, was executed by the instrument he invented; but that is a fallacy, because, as a matter of fact, he lived into the reign of Louis XVIII., and died a natural death and a respectable member of society. I think right hon. Gentlemen opposite, who were the first to set up this precise form of curtailing discussion, should be the last to complain of a measure devised for keeping under proper control the obstructive tendencies of the Opposition.
§ Mr. LAURENCE HARDY
I think the House ought to be quite clear as to the actual time which is allotted to this Amendment. It should be borne in mind that the Divisions have to be deducted from the two and a half hours. We have had a very instructive commentary to-day upon the necessity for allowing an adequate amount of time for Debate in this House in the fact that the Debate this afternoon was carried on for an hour and a half under an entire misconception as to what the opinion of the Government was. When only about two hours are allotted to a discussion like this it is our duty to see that sufficient time is given for the discus- 321 sion of this particular Resolution. Where the right hon. Gentleman seems to have gone wrong is that he mixes up the particular question we are discussing with the general question of the duration of Parliament. It may be right to bring in a Bill for limiting the duration of Parliament, but such a proposal would not contemplate limiting the Committee stage to two and a half hours, and the House would be allowed to have free play. The Government have been forced into limiting the duration of Parliament by the plan they have put on the Paper in connection with the first and second Resolutions, because they see it will be impossible for them to defend in the country the taking away of the Veto from the other Chamber without at the same time diminishing the period within which they will have to come back to take the opinion of the electorate, which they desire to disregard in this matter. This question has a double aspect. The first is in connection with the other two Resolutions, and the second is whether it is desirable or not to limit the duration of Parliament. We are opposed to Resolutions one and two—in fact, we dislike the whole plan of the Government, and when we see that their plan has been simply forced upon them by their own suggestions in Resolutions one and two we look with the greatest suspicion upon the third Resolution. From that point of view, and from the larger and more general point of view, of the policy of limiting the period of Parliaments, I do not think the Government can possibly defend the very small amount of time they have allotted. I may say in reply to the hon. Member for Somerset (Mr. King) that I am ready to defend before any constituency in this country the absurdity of a proposal to discuss such an enormous question as this in the House of Commons in two hours of time. I think we have been treated with scant courtesy in this matter, and I ask the Government, at this last moment to reconsider the question, and give a larger allowance of time in order that we may discuss this great question at a proper and dignified length.
§ Mr. STUART-WORTLEY
The right hon. Gentleman has stated that this instrument of closure fixing a time limit for the discussion of Amendments was an invention of the Unionist Government, but nothing of the kind is the case. May I remind him that this Parliamentary instrument was first invented when Mr. Gladstone passed the Coercion Bill for Ireland. 322 I am only recalling the attention of the House to an absolute historical truth.
§ Mr. STUART-WORTLEY
I shall not give way to the hon. and learned Gentleman, because I know that any distinction which the Attorney-General can draw will only be a distinction of form, and not of substance. The Postmaster-General stated that we need have no fear on this question, because these proposals are not going to be translated into a Bill, but the whole thing is an instrument which you are going to use to stir up the House of Lords. You are going to make this question a subject of conflict between the two Houses, and afterwards you are going to browbeat the Sovereign. The position of the matter is even worse than if you were going to put these proposals into a Bill, and give them all the force of law. In those circumstances it is perfectly idle and ridiculous to say that the mere fragment of a Parliamentary evening is a sufficient length of time to be given to this discussion, and, whatever may have been said on this side of the House, and however much ignorance may have been shown by new Members as regards Parliamentary procedure and method of Debate, by no means too much time has been given in discussing to-night this wholly unprecedented and unjustifiable proposal.
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
The Postmaster-General just now said there are one or two derisory Amendments on the Third Resolution. I have one, and I want to know whether he includes it amongst those which are derisory or whether it is the one which he said was one of substance?
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
I said there was one Amendment of substance, but I should be very sorry to say which it is.
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
I suppose we shall have to wait and see. The proposition of the Government is that Parliament should last for five years, and I want to put it out of the power of future Houses of Commons to reverse that. By two Resolutions you put a certain limitation on the power of one branch of the Legislature, and in a third Resolution you say there shall be a limitation on the duration of Parliament, but, having crippled one branch of the Constitution, you leave the one authority that remains paramount, and therefore do away with the effect of your third Resolu- 323 tion. Surely this is a matter of very great substance. You will find that the whole of your third Resolution is nugatory un-less you find some means of enforcing it.
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
There is a very large subject of controversy arising on the Third Resolution, and two and a half hours, some of which would probably be occupied by Divisions on the Second Resolution, are perfectly inadequate for dealing with so far-reaching a constitutional proposal.
Sir HENRY DALZIEL
The hon. Member for the City of London (Sir F. Ban-bury) and the hon. Member for Lowestoft (Mr. H. S. Foster) were good enough to express curiosity as to what my feelings were upon this particular Amendment. I have placed an Amendment upon the Paper in connection with this matter, and it, of course, would not come on on the particular evening in question at the present time. I suggest therefore that, if my Amendment happens to be in order, we might, in discussing it, raise the whole question of the duration of Parliament. I am quite prepared to admit that, as a general rule, a far-reaching proposal of this kind would require more time than the small space of time that has been provided by the Resolution. I think that is the one weak point in the Government Resolutions which we are now discussing. It is true, of course, that the question has been before the country. It was mentioned in the Albert Hall speech. We have, therefore, as the Postmaster-General has said, all got our own views about it without the necessity of any prolonged discussion. I must confess that, had the criticism to-night been devoted to asking for a few more hours for discussion of this question, rather than for the extension that is proposed, I think greater support would have been had for it. When I put down my Amendment suggesting that this question of the duration of Parliament should not be discussed at all, it was for a reason quite different from that of hon. Gentlemen opposite.
The importance of this question arises from the fact that the Resolution provides for two years' Bills, and it is enhanced from my point of view because I can see two series of two years' Bills, and then 324 one year left. I put down my Amendment in order to afford the Government an opportunity of explaining the reason why the change in the duration of Parliaments was proposed. When the time comes and we have this opportunity which is suggested, we shall, of course, hear their explanation, but I think they have got to make out their case why they are going to take one year off practically the six years we have at the present time in view of the particular character of the Resolutions they are bringing forward. I am looking forward with interest to the explanation why they are cutting one year off and thereby destroying to a great extent the character of the proposed two years' Resolution.
Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite have assumed that on that particular evening we are going to settle something, and they argue that this is not sufficient time to deal with a matter of this kind. I do not know, if the House were going to settle on that particular evening the length of Parliament for the future, that the Government would get their usual support on this side of the House, but on that occasion we are only going to express an opinion, a pious opinion if you like, as to what the length of Parliament in future ought to be. It is only a preliminary stage. Before the length of Parliament can be altered, we shall have various and important stages. We shall have the First Reading, we shall have a Second Reading Debate, we shall have every clause considered in Committee, and then we shall have the Third Reading. We shall have full opportunity at all the different stages of discussing the Bill. It is not therefore correct to say that we are settling anything definitely for all time; we are simply expressing the opinion of this Parliament that, if these Resolutions are finally carried in this Parliament or in a future Parliament, five years should be the limitation. It will be more in the nature on that occasion of a discussion on a Motion on a private Member's night. We shall record the opinion of the House, and that Resolution will be simply the basis of legislation in the future. I therefore regard it from that point of view not as a settled matter, and for that reason I shall support the Government.
§ Sir HENRY CRAIK
I listened to the arguments of the Chancellor of the Duchy (Mr. Joseph Pease) with some surprise. The only argument he advanced against the proposition of the hon. Member for the 325 City of London was that the hon. Baronet, instead of proposing two and a half hours, proposed to have only nine hours. That was so insufficient that it was absolutely absurd as a proposal. Can any argument be more absurd than that, because you do not ask for a very large increase, you therefore ought not to get any at all, or that, because your proposals are moderate and modest, they are absurd? If we had asked for a week, would the Chancellor of the Duchy have granted it? I am not going to discuss the merits of the situation. That would be out of order; but at all events we can say this, that this proposal is entirely different, and has no connection whatever with the other two Resolutions on the Paper. It is something dealing not with the other place, limiting their privileges, but it deals with our own privileges and existence. There is no general agreement on all sides of the House in regard to it. I very greatly question, if the nation had an opportunity of expressing its opinion, whether it would be quite so unanimous on this point as hon. Gentlemen opposite suggest. I do not think the nation is enamoured of elections. They would not care to have them nearly twice as often as now, which would be the case if this scheme were carried out. The hon. Member for Kirkcaldy has said that this will be a pious opinion merely, and that it is of no importance. Is that the way in which decisions of the House of Commons are treated by hon. Gentlemen opposite?
§ Sir HENRY CRAIK
The hon. Gentle man said it was of very little importance. That, at any rate, was the tendency of his remarks, and if this is passed we shall be told later on that the House of Commons, by a majority of 120, or whatever their majority may be, carried a Bill limiting the duration of Parliament to five years, and the country must not stultify itself by departing from that decision. I was rather amused with the argument used by the Postmaster-General with regard to the Septennial Act. The right hon. Gentleman observed that the hon. Member for the University of Oxford had suggested that they were doing something terrible in abandoning all the safeguards in a Septennial Act, and he went on to say that there was not a single safeguard in that Act, which only repealed triennial Parliaments on the ground that they had proved burdensome by occasioning continual expense and producing violent animosities. 326 Still, an Act passed even on these grounds would, so long as human nature remained what it is, constitute a valid ground for objecting, after only two hours' discussion, to a pledge to abolish the present system. For that reason I most heartily support the Amendment.
§ 10.0 P.M.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
The question now before the House illustrates very well the treatment which the Government are meting out to the House of Commons. We are invited to decide a question so important as the duration of Parliament in a debate of two and a half hours, and it is indicated that the decision so arrived at is afterwards to be treated as the solemn and deliberate judgment of the House of Commons. What a transparent farce to suggest that the House of Commons can finally decide a question of this kind in two and a half hours. I know of no parallel for such a proceeding. The hon. Member for Kirkcaldy said it will not be a decision of that magnitude, but that it will be merely an expression of opinion such as is often made on a private Member's night, which sometimes develops into an Act of Parliament, but which is not of a binding character. If the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy were Prime Minister that would be a very reassuring statement. I have not the least doubt he would adhere to it, and that he would not suggest to the House of Lords or to the country that the House of Commons had finally decided the matter. He would no doubt treat it as one of the many opinions expressed by the House of Commons on private Member's nights. What is really intolerable, what is in the highest degree destructive of the character of the House of Commons in this respect, is that in the first place the decision should be so closely restricted in point of time, and in the second instance it can be quoted as if it were the deliberate and solemn judgment of the House of Commons. It is only calculated to bring the House of Commons into contempt to put forward in its name a pretence which all the world knows to be transparent. If the Government really wish to impress the public with the value and importance of House of Commons decisions they should not dream of resisting the Amendments now before the House. Can the Government actually maintain in the face of the House and of the public that two and a half hours is sufficient to decide an issue of this importance? Was there ever anything more fundamentally inconsistent than this 327 proposal? We know the Government are out for a party game. The important thing is, from our point of view, to bring home to the country what the Government are really doing. It is for us to show that while killing one assembly by a blow, they are destroying another assembly by the slow process of the guillotine. It certainly is the case, and it is evidenced by the discussion on this Amendment that what we are on the road to is not single-Chamber government, but "no Chamber" government at all. Consider the importance of this, not merely in this particular case, but generally. If we can discuss and settle the duration of Parliament in two and a half hours, what topic is there we might not discuss in two and a half hours also, and then the Postmaster-General, ten years hence, when defending other proposals, will be able to point to a precedent of overwhelming force and will be able to say, "In 1910 we discussed and settled the duration of Parliament in two and a half hours." It is quite clear the Government must choose between two policies. If they really wish to make the House of Commons the only legislative body in the country they must treat its Debates with a great deal more respect than they are showing at the present time. If we are to have a single-Chamber Government, dependent upon the House of Commons, let us really try to pretend that their discussions are important, and do not let us try to confine them within such limits as these. The Government, however, have settled with their supporters, and if the Labour party wish the matter to be done in a certain time, there is an end of it as far as the House of Commons are concerned. We are not admitted to these inner Debates. Afterwards we go through these public discussions for the purpose of calling attention to these matters, and not of producing any effect upon the mind of the Government. That is past praying for. We have ceased to be a deliberative Assembly, and have now become only the instrument of an arrogant faction.
§ Colonel GREIG
The Noble Lord who has just sat down has suggested that the Resolution and the Closure Resolutions we are now considering constitute contemptuous treatment of this House by the Government. What is the Resolution to which the remarks of the Noble Lord have been directed? It is a Resolution with with reference to what has been called 328 the repeal of the Septennial Act but if there was one subject more than another which during the last three or four years of the existence of the Liberal Government was discussed it was this, that they had outlived their mandate, and that their term of office should be shortened, and it was practically admitted by all parties that to meet that objection it would be right and proper to limit the duration of Parliaments. We heard from the other side of the House propositions derived from revolutionary times in France of the theory about the mandate, but until to-night there was never any suggestion which at least was brought to my notice in which any Member of the other side objected to the shortening of Parliaments. Now they hang upon an objection to it the stream of irrelevant talk that we have heard to-night. The impression which this is calculated to make on new Members of, I would almost say intellectual degradation is one of the most melancholy spectacles that a man can be called upon to witness. I say no more, but I simply want to point out that the whole of this Debate as to the shortening of the Septennial Act has been directed to a point upon which up to this evening all parties were agreed.
§ Mr. BALFOUR
The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down speaks with very great confidence not only as regards his own party, in which no doubt he is an authority, but also as to the opinion of those on this side not merely in this Parliament, but in the last. He has told us as a historical fact that it was a matter of common agreement between the two sides of the House that the Septennial Act should be changed to a Quinquennial Act, and that the duration of Parliaments should be altered from seven years to five. I was a good deal in the last Parliament, and I occasionally took part in its deliberations, and I do not think anybody ever suggested on this side of the House that an alteration of the Septennial Act was desirable, least of all did I hear anybody suggest that if such a change was desirable, two and a half hours was the proper time in which to discuss it. Before therefore the hon. Gentleman accuses everybody who differs from him in opinion of making irrelevant speeches he should have been more careful of his facts as to the last Parliament, and he should not have made himself the spokesman of hon. Gentlemen who differ from him in many things and most assuredly differ from him 329 on this question. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster has been the spokesman of the Government with regard to this Amendment— the one spokesman—and his argument was one of a very characteristic kind. He said that the Government had carefully considered and had come to the conclusion that five years was quite long enough for a Parliament, and that as the Government had carefully considered the matter, and that as they had come to the conclusion that five years was long enough for a Parliament, two and a half hours was quite long enough in which to discuss it. Is it not really absurd, after the Debate we had earlier in the evening, that the Government should make this proposal? If we had debated this point immediately after the Prime Minister sat down at a quarter-past four this afternoon there would have been a certain plausibility in some of the arguments used. After all this is, as the hon. Member (Sir Henry Dalziel) pointed out, by no means the final decision of the House of Commons. It must be put in that second rank of Parliamentary votes which may be used, and are used largely, as showing what the settled decision, after Debate in the House, is when everyone knows they do not represent the settled opinion of the House, but a division of opinion taken before discussion, and with the full consciousness that the vote given carries with it no practical consequences whatever. That argument might have been, plausibly used immediately after the Prime Minister sat down this afternoon. Can it be used now?
Hon. Gentlemen opposite have tried to run two inconsistent lines of argument. When we say the time given is not enough they say, "After all, does it matter? You will have heaps of time later before anything operative can occur." And so much later is this further discussion to take place that some people are sceptical enough to doubt whether it will ever take place at all. That is one line of argument. The other line of argument is this. These Resolutions we are asked to pass now are of importance because they are going to be made the basis of some kind of attempt made outside this House, some kind of guarantee demanded either from the House of Lords or elsewhere, and these Resolutions passed in the brief time allowed to us are to be represented in a great and difficult crisis as expressing not merely the intentions and will of the Government, not merely the re- 330 sult of their mature reflections, as the Chancellor of the Duchy observed, but the decision of the House of Commons, taken after elaborate discussion. You cannot have the two lines of argument. If you are going to give two and a half hours as sufficient to abolish the Septennial Act or to pass a Resolution referring to the Septennial Act, do not go elsewhere and explain that that is the settled, argued, and debated view of the House of Commons, because it is not The idea that this insignificant fraction of Parliamentary time, the time that you give to an important Road Bill or a Private Bill of the second order, is enough to upset a Parliamentary arrangement which has subsisted for nearly two centuries, and that that is to be represented not merely as the first thoughts of the House of Commons but as its ultimate matured decision, seems to be absolutely grotesque, and I earnestly trust the Government and the Chancellor of the Duchy, who is the responsible Minister for the moment in charge of the Debate, will feel that they cannot take both views. They cannot say that this is what the House of Commons desires without giving the House of Commons ample time to discuss it.
If, of course, they take the other line, and say this represents not indeed the settled and deliberate intention of the House of Commons, but the result of the careful thought of His Majesty's Government, that is another matter. I daresay five minutes would be enough for the House of Commons to deal with that situation. Then we should have to rest not upon the view of the House of Commons, and not upon the view of those for whom the House of Commons presumably speaks. It is simply the view of the Government of the day, acting in view of most exceptional political necessities in order to get out of unexampled political difficulty, and if that be the method on which they are going to reconstruct the Constitution in the year 1910, what is going to be the course of hon. Gentlemen opposite when their policy has reached its fruition, and this Chamber alone, reflecting probably the careful thoughts of some future Government, is given two and a half hours to decide some other constitutional question on which no other element in the British Constitution will be allowed to have a word to say? I cannot believe there ever could be a better practical example in the first place of what the Government mean by Parliamentary Debate, and, in the second place, 331 of what they mean by single-Chamber rule than the amount of time which they have deliberately thought fit to give for fundamentally altering the length of the life of Parliaments, which has given, broadly speaking, satisfaction since it was passed early in the eighteenth century. I am convinced that this lesson will sink into the minds of hon. Gentlemen who have heard this Debate, and they will not agree with the hon. Gentleman who has just sat down
§ that our Debates have been irrelevant or that the objection which we have raised to the Government procedure on this occasion is otherwise than solidly based both upon a sane view of the liberty of discussion in this House and of careful regard to the constitutional conditions of the country.
§ Question put, "That the words 'Thursday, the 14th,' stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 305; Noes, 202.335
|Division No. 14.]||AYES.||[10.22 p.m.|
|Abraham, William||Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N.)||Hudson, Walter|
|Addison, Dr. C.||Donelan, Captain A.||Hughes, S. L.|
|Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R.||Doris, W.||Hunter, W. (Govan)|
|Agnew, George William||Duffy, William J.||Illingworth, Percy H.|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Isaacs, Sir Rufus Daniel|
|Alden, Percy||Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley)||Johnson, W.|
|Allen, Charles P.||Edwards, Enoch||Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Anderson, A.||Elverston, H.||Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)|
|Armitage, R.||Esmonde, Sir Thomas||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Esslemont, George Birnle||Jowett, F. W.|
|Atherley-Jones, Llewellyn A.||Falconer, J.||Joyce, Michael|
|Baker, H. T. (Accrington)||Farrell, James Patrick||Kelly, Edward|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury E.)||Fenwick, Charles||Kemp, Sir G.|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Ferens, T. R.||Kettle, Thomas Michael|
|Barnes, G. N.||Ferguson, R. C. Munro||Kilbride, Denis|
|Barlow, Sir John E.||Ffrench, Peter||King, J. (Somerset, N.)|
|Barran, Rowland Hirst (Leeds, N.)||Field, William||Lambert, George|
|Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Flavin, Michael Joseph||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal Welt)|
|Barry, Redmend J. (Tyrone, N.)||France, G. A.||Layland-Barratt, Sir Francis|
|Barton, A. W.||Gelder, Sir W. A.||Leach, Charles|
|Beale, w. p.||Gibbins, F. W.||Lehmann, R. C.|
|Benn, W. (Tower Hamlets, St. Geo.)||Gibson, James P.||Levy, Sir Maurice|
|Bentham, G. J.||Gill, A. H.||Lewis, John Herbert|
|Boland, John Pius||Glover, Thomas||Lincoln, Ignatius T. T.|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David|
|Boyle, D. (Mayo, N.)||Greenwood, G. G.||Low, Sir F. A. (Norwich)|
|Brace, William||Greig, Colonel J. W.||Lundon, Thomas|
|Brady, P. J.||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||Luttrell, Hugh Fownes|
|Brigg, Sir John||Gulland, John W.||Lynch, A. A.|
|Brocklehurst, W. B.||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Hackett, J.||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Hall, Frederick (Normanton)||MacVeagh, Jeremiah|
|Buxton, C. R. (Devon, Mid)||Hancock, J. G.||M'Callum, John M.|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney C. (Poplar)||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale)||M'Curdy, C. A.|
|Byles, William Pollard||Hardie, J. Kelr (Merthyr Tydvil)||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Harmsworth, R. L.||M'Laren, F. W. S. (Line, Spalding)|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Mallet, Charles E.|
|Chancellor, H. G.||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, W.)||Marks, G. Croydon|
|Chapple, W. A.||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N.E.)||Martin, J.|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Harwood, George||Meagher, Michael|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)|
|Clough, William||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Middlebrook, William|
|Clynes, J. R.||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Millar, J. D.|
|Collins, G. P. (Greenock)||Haworth, Arthur A.||Molloy, M.|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Hayden, John Patrick||Montagu, Hon. E. S.|
|Collins, Sir Wm. J. (St. Pancras, W.)||Hayward, Evan||Mooney, J. J.|
|Compton-Rickett, Sir J.||Hazleton, Richard||Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Healy, Timothy Michael||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Henderson, J. McD. (Aberdeen, W.)||Muldoon, John|
|Cowan, W. H.||Henry, Charles S.||Munro, R.|
|Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor||Murray, Captain Hon. A. C.|
|Crosfield, A. H.||Higham, John Sharp||Muspratt, M.|
|Crossley, Sir W. J.||Hindle, F. G.||Nannetti, Joseph P.|
|Cullinan, J.||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.||Neilson, Francis|
|Dalziel, D. (Brixton)||Hodge, John||Nolan, Joseph|
|Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||Hogan, Michael||Norton, Capt. Cecil W.|
|Davies, E. William (Elfion)||Holt, Richard Durning||Nussey, Sir Willans|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Hooper, A. G.||Nuttall, Harry|
|Dawes, J. A.||Hope, John Deans (Fife, West)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Delany, William||Home, C. Silvester (Ipswich)||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)|
|Devlin, Joseph||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|O'Doherty, Philip||Robinson, S.||Verney, F. W.|
|O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S.)||Robson, Sir William Snowdon||Vivian, Henry|
|O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)||Roch, Walter F. (Pembrokel)||Wadsworth, J.|
|O'Dowd, John||Roche, Augustine (Cork)||Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)|
|Ogden, Fred||Roche, John (Galway, E.)||Walsh, Stephen|
|O'Malley, William||Roe, Sir Thomas||Walters, John Tudor|
|O'Neill, Charles (Armagh, S.)||Rowntree, Arnold||Walton, Joseph|
|O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|O'Sullivan, Eugene||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)||Waring, Walter|
|Palmer, Godfrey Mark||Samuel, J. (Stockton)||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Parker, James (Halifax)||Scanlan, Thomas||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A.||Schwann, Sir C. E.||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Philipps, Col. Ivor (Southampton)||Scott, A. H. (Ashton-under-Lyne)||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Philipps, Sir Owen C. (Pembroke)||Seddon, J.||Watt, Henry A.|
|Phillips, John (Longford, S.)||Seely, Col., Right Hon. J. E. B.||White, Sir George (Norfolk)|
|Pickersgill, Edward Hare||Shackleton, David James||White, J. Dundas (Dumbartonshire)|
|Pointer, Joseph||Shaw, Sir C. E.||White, Sir Luke (York, E.R.)|
|Pollard, Sir George H.||Sheehy, David||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Sherwelt, Arthur James||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Power, Patrick Joseph||Simon, John Alisebrook||Whyte, Alexander F. (Perth)|
|Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)||Wiles, Thomas|
|Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)||Snowden, P.||Wilkle, Alexander|
|Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)||Soares, Ernest J.||Williams, A. N. (Plymouth)|
|Primrose, Hon. Neil James||Spicer, Sir Albert||Williams, P. (Middlesbrough)|
|Pringle, W. M. R.||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N.W.)||Williams, W. Llewelyn (Carmarthen)|
|Radford, George Heynes||Strachey, Sir Edward||Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)|
|Raffan, Peter Wilson||Summers, James Woolley||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W.R.)|
|Rainy, A. Rolland||Sutherland, J. E.||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestershire, N.)|
|Raphael, Herbert H.||Taylor, John W. (Durham)||Wilson, T. F. (Lanark, N.E.)|
|Rea, Walter Russell||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Reddy, M.||Tennant, Harold John||Winfrey, Richard|
|Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)||Wing, Thomas Henry|
|Redmond, William (Clare)||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)||Wood, T. M'Kinnon (Glasgow)|
|Rees, J. D.||Thomas, J. H. (Derby)||Young, W. (Perthshire, E.)|
|Rendall, Atheistan||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)||Younger, W. (Peebles and Selkirk)|
|Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Thorne, William (West Ham)||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)||Tomkinson, Rt. Hon. James|
|Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)||Toulmin, George||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Master of Elibank and Mr. Fuller.|
|Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)||Trevelyan, Charles philips|
|Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Acland-Hood, Rt. Hon. Sir Alex, F.||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worc'r)||Grant, J. A.|
|Adam, Major W. A.||Chambers, J.||Greene, W. R.|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Clay, Captain H. H. Spender||Guinness, Hon Walter Edward|
|Archer-Shee, Major M.||Clive, Percy Archer||Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight)|
|Bagot, Colonel J.||Coates, Major E. F.||Hambro, Angus Vaidemar|
|Baird, J. L.||Colefax, H. A.||Hamersley, A. St. George|
|Baker, Sir R. L. (Dorset, N.)||Cooper, Capt. Bryan (Dublin, S.)||Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington)|
|Balcarres, Lord||Cooper, R. A. (Walsall)||Hamilton, Marquess of (Londonderry)|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashford)|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City, Lond.)||Craig, Norman (Kent)||Harris, F. L. (Stepney)|
|Banner, John S. Harmood-||Craik, Sir Henry||Harris, H. P. (Paddington, S.)|
|Baring, Captain Hon. G.||Croft, H. P.||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.|
|Barnston, H.||Dairympie, Viscount||Heath, Col. A. H.|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Heimsley, Viscount|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilton)||Du Cros, Alfred (Tower Hamlets, Bow)||Henderson, H. (Berks, Abingdon)|
|Beckett, Hon. W. Gervase||Duke, H. E.||Hermon-Hodge, Sir Robert|
|Benn, I. H. (Greenwich)||Duncannon, Viscount||Hickmann, Col. T.|
|Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish||Eyres-Monsell, B. M.||Hill, Sir Clement|
|Beresford, Lord C.||Faber, George Denison (Clapham)||Hillier, Dr. A. P.|
|Bird, A.||Faber, Capt. W. V. (Hants, W.)||Hoare, S. J. G.|
|Boyle, W. L. (Norfolk, Mid)||Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||Hohler, G. F.|
|Boyton, J.||Finlay, Sir Robert||Hope, Harry (Bute)|
|Brackenbury, Henry Langton||Fisher, W. Hayes||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)|
|Brassey, H. L. C. (N'thamptonshire, N.)||Fitzroy, E. A.||Home, W. E. (Surrey, Guildford)|
|Brassey, Capt. R. (Banbury)||Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue||Horner, A. L.|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Fleming, Valentine||Houston, Robert Paterson|
|Brunskill, G. F.||Fletcher, J. S.||Hunt, Rowland|
|Burdett-Coutts, W.||Forster, Henry William||Hunter, Sir C. R. (Bath)|
|Butcher, J. G. (York)||Foster, H. S. (Suffolk, N.)||Jackson, John A. (Whitehaven)|
|Butcher, S. Henry (Cambridge Univ.)||Foster, J. K. (Coventry)||Kerr-Smiley, Peter|
|Calley, Colonel T. C. P.||Foster, P. S (Warwick, S.W.)||Keswick, William|
|Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. H. M.||Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Walter (Ilkeston)||Kimber, Sir Henry|
|Carllie, E. Hildred||Gardner, Ernest||King, Sir Henry Seymour (Hull)|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H.||Gastrell, Major W. H.||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Gibbs, G. A.||Knight, Capt. E. A.|
|Cator, John||Gilmour, Captain J.||Lane-Fox, G. R.|
|Cave, George||Goldman, C. S||Law, Andrew Bonar (Dulwich)|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Goldsmith, Frank||Lawson, Hon. Harry|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University)||Gooch, Henry Cubitt||Lewisham, Viscount|
|Chaloner, Colonel R. G. W.||Gordon, J.||Llewelyn, Major Venables|
|Lloyd, G. A.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Locker-Lampson. G. (Salisbury)||Paget, Almeric Hugh||Starkey, John R.|
|Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A. R.||Peel, Hon. W. R. W. (Taunton)||Staveley-Hill, Henry (Staffordshire)|
|Long, Rt. Hon. Walter||Peel, Capt. R. F. (Woodbridge)||Steel-Maitland, A. D.|
|Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Perkins, Walter F.||Stewart, Gersham (Ches. Wirral)|
|Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. A. (Hanover Sq.)||Peto, Basil Edward||Stewart, Sir M'T. (Kirkcudbright)|
|Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droitwich)||Pollock, Ernest Murray||Strauss, A.|
|MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh||Pretyman, E. G.||Sykes, Alan John|
|Mackinder, H. J.||Proby, Col. Douglas James||Terrell, H. (Gloucester)|
|Macmaster, Donald||Quilter, William Eley C.||Thompson, Robert|
|M'Arthur, Charles||Randies, Sir John Scurrah||Tryon, Capt. George Clement|
|Magnus, Sir Philip||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel||Tullibardine, Marquess of|
|Mason, J. F.||Rowson, Colonel R. H.||Valentia, Viscount|
|Meysey-Thompson, E. C.||Rice, Hon. Walter F.||Verrall, George Henry|
|Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Ridley, Samuel Forde||Walrond, Hon. Lionel|
|Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Mitchell, William Foot||Rolleston, Sir John||White, Major G. D. (Lanes., Southport)|
|Moore, William||Ronaldshay, Earl of||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claude|
|Morpeth, Viscount||Rothschild, Lionel de||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Morrison, Captain J. A.||Royds, Edmund||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E.R.)|
|Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.||Rutherford, Watson||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Mount, William Arthur||Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)||Worthington-Evans, L. (Colchester)|
|Newdegate, F. A.||Sanders, Robert A.||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Newman, John R. P.||Sanderson, Lancelot||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Newton, Harry Kottingham||Sandys, G. J. (Somerset, Wells)||Younger, George (Ayr Burghs)|
|Nicholson, Win. G. (Petersfield)||Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert|
|Nield, Herbert||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Sir F. Banbury and Mr. A. Fell.|
|O'Neill, Hon. A. E. B. (Antrim, Mid)||Stanier, Beville|
|Orde-Powlett, Hon. W.G.A.|
§ Viscount HELMSLEY
moved, in the fourth paragraph, to leave out the words: "and on the proceedings in Committee being so brought to a conclusion the Chairman shall immediately Report the Resolutions to the House without Question put, and the proceedings on the consideration of the Report shall be then forthwith brought to a conclusion."
The effect of that Amendment will be to alter the proposal of the Government, so that the Report stage shall continue to be a stage on these Resolutions, and not altogether omitted as the Government propose to do. I think the House will be prepared to agree with me that the Report stage is by no means unimportant, but is one of the most important stages in our proceedings. On the Report stage of a Bill it is possible to give effect to decisions which have been arrived at in Committee. Any Member who sat in the last Parliament will recognise the fact that very often during the discussions on the Budget we got promises from the Government that they would reconsider matters upon the Report stage, and that when the Report stage arrived they would then give effect to the promises which they had made in Committee by inserting words to meet our view. It is true that these promises were not all satisfactory, and that on occasion we could have wished that they had given immediate effect to them in Committee. At the same time, one always did have the feeling that the Report stage, at all events, gave a chance to the Government to reconsider or give effect to some decision 336 which they had come to on the arguments advanced during the Committee stage. And what is the occasion on which the Government choose to give up the Report stage? We are discussing nothing more nor less than the Constitution of this country, and that is the occasion on which the Government for the first time, as far as I am aware—I may be wrong—decide that the Report stage is unnecessary on Resolutions of this kind. Does anybody suppose that during the course of even a restricted discussion on the Resolutions there will not be some argument advanced by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House to which the Government will have to pay attention? We had a speech from the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland the other day which I thought was a very candid speech, and in which he said he had been in charge of important Bills, and as the Minister in charge he had often felt obliged, from his inclinations as an honest man, to recognise that some of the arguments of the Opposition were valid and would have to be given effect to. How can those arguments be given effect to if the Government are only going to have one stage? They cannot be given effect to. You cannot have the words of an actual Amendment before the House adopted at once. It requires consideration by the Government, it requires consultation with their permanent officials; and they have to check these words and consider them, and see whether or not they can be incorporated into the proposals on the Report stage. But on these important Resolu- 337 tions dealing with the Constitution we are to have no Report stage at all, no opportunity of this reconsideration by the Government. On the contrary, we are to have it thrust down our throats. Whatever they propose in the Committee stage is to become the Resolution of this House, whether they are persuaded by argument or whether they are not. Could anything more clearly show what the opinion of the Government is as to the value of discussion in this House? We may have those speeches from the Chief Secretary for Ireland about being forced to give way to the arguments of the Opposition, but the very first time after that speech when, if the Government really thinks there is any validity in Debates in this House, opportunity should be given, the Government leaves no loophole, but propose by guillotine to shut out one of the very important stages which the proposals which come before this House have to undergo. As it is a Resolution has many fewer stages to meet with than a Bill. As it is, a Resolution has practically no First Reading now. You may have a Second Reading Debate on the whole of the Resolutions, as we have had in the last few days. You have no Third Reading, you only have a Committee stage. Hitherto you have had the Report stage. Therefore, although you have had practically three stages, the Second Reading, the general Debate, the Committee stage and the Report stage—three stages instead of five now—the Government propose out of those three stages to omit one. So that practically you will have only one stage—the Committee stage—for effective discussion, for discussion which can produce any amendments in the Resolution.
I submit to the House that it is perfectly ridiculous, and it is really an insult to the Debates of this House, to suggest that you are to put these Resolutions into the form of one stage, and one stage only, wherein Amendments can be moved. I do hope that the Government will see their way to accept this Amendment of mine and thus give us some time for discussion on the Report stage, because whether these Resolutions are to be forwarded in a Bill, or whether they are not it does not, I think, make so very much difference. We all know very well that as a matter of fact these Resolutions when they leave this House will be presented to the country as the considered opinion of the House of Commons, whether there is going to be a Bill upon them or not. We know also if there is to be a Bill on them we shall not 338 be allowed to discuss it. We know what the Government did in the last Parliament. They told us: "You will be able to discuss it at a later stage," and at a later stage they said, "You discussed it before, there you cannot discuss it now." Even if we have a Bill, therefore, I have no great faith we shall have much time to discuss it. I am quite certain these Resolutions will go out to the country and to another place as the considered opinion of the House of Commons, and under those circumstances I do submit we ought to have the Report stage, and that it is a monstrous thing to cut that out of the proceedings altogether.
§ Mr. LAURENCE HARDY
I desire to second the Amendment. If we once set up the precedent that the Report stage shall be cut out altogether, we shall soon see it applied to Bills, and we shall lose one of the old privileges of this House. The Government desire to be known to fame as the single-Chamber Government. They also apparently desire to be known as the single-discussion Government. They desire to make use of these Resolutions for larger purposes than Resolutions have ever been used for before, and to secure that there shall not be a second discussion in the House of Commons to make sure that the first discussion has been sufficient. There was not a single word said by the Prime Minister in connection with this particular part of the Resolution, but, if any argument had been put forward, it should be remembered that the protests we have made against limiting the time in connection with the Resolutions render it more and more necessary that there should be time allotted for the Report stage. It is perfectly manifest that the time allotted for the first and third Resolutions is insufficient for the discussion of their merits and of the germane Amendments which ought to be considered upon them. There must be Amendments left which should be dealt with on the usual Report stage. As we have protested against the extremely narrow limits placed upon the Committee stage, so it is absolutely necessary, in my opinion, to appeal to the Government to grant us the usual facilities of debate which have always been connected with both Resolutions and Bills on the Report stage. I earnestly hope the Government will reconsider their position, and not establish a new precedent which will be fatal to the facilities of debate which ought to exist in this free Parliament.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
The Mover and Seconder of the Amendment have drawn an analogy from our practice with regard to Bills. The Noble Lord (Viscount Helmsley) referred to the great value of the Report stage in connection with a Bill, and he desired the House to assume that it was equally necessary in the case of a Resolution. But these Resolutions in this respect stand on a wholly different footing from, a Bill. They have in themselves no legislative effect, and the details of drafting, which are mainly the matters reserved for consideration on Report, are not of the same moment as in the case of a Bill. We are dealing here merely with broad general principles to be declared by Parliament and afterwards to be embodied in the phraseology of the draughtsman, which phraseology, of course, must receive minute and detailed consideration at every stage. There are for this procedure few other than some-what ancient precedents; but, as the Prime Minister stated to-day, in the most recent precedent the Report stage was taken, without a word of discussion. Mr. LAURENCE HARDY: There was the possibility of discussion.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
If the House desired the privilege of exercising it. The hon. Gentleman said that it was necessary to maintain the safeguards which had been found indispensable in times past. In this case the safeguard, the procedure, was found to be wholly unnecessary. I would ask the attention of the House to this circumstance. From first to last, from the time that these Resolutions are laid upon the Table until the time that they will have legislative force—mark the number of stages through which they will have to go —the number of occasions on which the same question can be discussed by this House. In this Parliament, certainly, if they obtain legislative force, these general principles have already been discussed for nearly the whole of a Parliamentary week. Next they will be discussed for two Parliamentary weeks — Government time — in Committee stage. After that there will be the First Reading of the Bill; next the Second Reading. [HON. MEMBERS: "When, when?"] It has been declared again and again. It must be obvious to every Member that not one of these principles can have the smallest legislative force until they have passed through all the stages I have mentioned.
§ Viscount HELMSLEY
Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will pardon me, but 340 is it not a fact that the mere fact that these Resolutions are carried constitute the First Reading of the Bill; therefore that stage will not, count?
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
I am not sure that the Noble Lord is right in his procedure In any case, I am inclined to think that there will have to be the First Reading of the Bill in spite of the Resolutions having been carried. But even if I am wrong, what will be the stages that these proposals will have to go through? Firstly, there is the general discussion which we have already had. Secondly, there is the Committee stage, for the time of which we are now arranging. There will be the Second Reading of the Bill at least; if not the First Reading. Fourthly, there will be the Committee stage; fifthly, the Report stage; sixthly, the Third Reading of the Bill. On every one of these stages the same question can be discussed. To assert that in addition to those it is necessary to interpose a Report stage of the Resolutions is really to suggest that the House should discuss a seventh time the same question.
Much has been said about the credit of the House. It is unfortunate that it should be necessary in any way, upon any occation, to restrict the fullest freedom of discussion in this House. But there is one thing which is worse for the credit and reputation of this House in the country, and that is that the purpose of Parliament should be made impotent through incessant Debates and interminable discussion. I am sure that there are many Members, new as well as old, who were tired of the incessant discussion, who are tired of the continual repetition of the same arguments. I feel sure that the Government will do everything, and has a real desire, that the great majority of this House should be given opportunity for the work to be done, and for the purposes of Parliament to be fulfilled, and that they should not be lost in the interminable swamp of incessant Debate.
§ Mr. WALTER LONG
The speech which we have just heard from the right hon. Gentleman, instead of being a defence of the attitude of the Government, in opposing the Amendment of my hon. Friend, would have been much more appropriate as a speech seconding it. The only statement that the right hon. Gentleman has made is one that is very common with the Government—that is that they appear never to make up their minds before they come here to debate these questions, or to 341 realise what is the effect of the proposals that they are making. When they are called upon they have to put up Minister after Minister, and if one Minister by indiscretion or want of knowledge makes a statement which is inconvenient to his colleagues his colleagues get up and disown it.
§ Mr. WALTER LONG
It happened yesterday. The Prime Minister was challenged on language that had been used in this House. He repudiated the language as having been used by himself, and when he was reminded that it had been used by a colleague he had nothing more to say. He put it at all events that the language was not used by his authority.
Does the Home Secretary claim that this is a case in which a Member of the Government—the most important Member of the Government—does not treat the statement of his colleague—a colleague in the Cabinet!—as representing the views of the Cabinet? I venture to say that no greater innovation has been made to the practice of Parliament, and this House than in that case. Any innovation more serious in its effects in the practice of Parliament I do not know than that which has been made for the first time in this Session. A Cabinet Minister, speaking for the Front Bench on behalf of the Cabinet and with the authority which he alone derives, because he is a Member of the Cabinet, makes a statement, and when that statement is challenged we are told by the head of the Cabinet he never made such a statement, and passes it by as unworthy of notice. I venture to say that is a very grave departure, and I venture to say it is an experience which we have learned for the first time, and it is not likely to have anything but a very bad and serious effect upon our Parliamentary procedure. Let me now come to the case in point. The Postmaster-General made a speech in answer to the Amendment moved by my Noble Friend. That Amendment is one which would be accepted by the whole House if they looked at it from the business point of view. What was the Postmaster-General's argument? He said, first of all, that these Resolutions stand apart and distinct from the Bill— that, whereas a Bill is operative, these Resolutions cannot become operative unless they form the basis of a Bill. Yes; 342 but everyone knows we are not discussing the preliminaries of a Bill alone; we are discussing a policy which is intended to lead to a great fight. Does anyone deny that? What were we told to-day? That these Resolutions may form the foundation of a Bill of that kind; but we were told that circumstances may arise which will cause, the Government to decline to "plough the sands."
§ Mr. WALTER LONG
The fault of the Government. The right hon. Gentleman knows that perfectly well, and nobody knows better than he does that the three chief cases quoted refer to Bills which the Government could not reintroduce into the present Parliament with any chance of carrying them through. Under these circumstances I do not wonder that they do not mean to return to anything of that kind. I do not want to return to the controversy of this afternoon, and I will deal with the case as it is before us on this particular Amendment. The Postmaster-General told us that these are Resolutions and not Bills. Yes, but these are Resolutions which will be before the country, and will probably take the place of Bills. What has been the experience of this House? The Postmaster-General has appealed to old Members of Parliament, but on this matter I will appeal to all who have watched the proceedings of the House of Commons. Take the Budget itself, over which we have had one fight and are going to have another. Is there anybody on the opposite side of the House who has studied the Budget who does not know perfectly well that the Government would be glad to introduce a good many amendments in it now? You are going to deal with the Budget, or an Act of Parliament, affecting land or any other question, but you are now dealing with Resolutions which affect the whole Constitution of this country, and what you suggest is that you are to Debate them on the Second Reading, then they are to go through Committee, and when they emerge from Committee, if the Government and the framers of these Resolutions believe that there are still faults and mistakes in them, you are going to make it impossible for this House to make any alteration before you send those Resolutions from the doors of this House and demand that they shall be accepted; and if rejected, they are to form the basis of a great controversy which is going to involve this country in a fight which has not been inaccurately described 343 as a revolution. Although that is your avowed object, you deliberately propose to prevent yourselves from making alterations on the Report stage, which you may realise before the Committee stage has finished are necessary.
Why are we asked to press on with so much haste? Is time so urgent and necessary, and is there so little time available that you cannot give a week for the Report stage? How long are you giving for the Committee stage? Only a short period of eight days. The Postmaster-General told us that these Resolutions are not the First Readings of a Bill. The right hon. Gentleman cannot have read the Motion which is down in the name of the Government or he would have seen that after these Resolutions have been put a Bill shall, without question put, be ordered to be brought in. Is it possible in the face of that statement, for which the Government are responsible, to further allege that these Resolutions do not take the place of a First Reading of a Bill? You pass your Resolutions and you shut out all right to discuss it on the Report stage.
§ Mr. WALTER LONG
There would be no distinction to be drawn if the assurance of the Postmaster-General was one which we could receive with any probability of its being carried out. My noble Friend reminded the Government that during the Debate on the Budget in Committee we were told that many matters would be reconsidered on Report, but when the Report stage came either the closure operated or the matter was never reconsidered at all.
Now the Postmaster-General says there will be so many stages that we shall have full discussion of this Bill. Yes, but what prospect is there of this Bill ever seeing the light in this House, or of it ever going through all its stages? What prospect is there of our ever having the opportunities of Debate the Postmaster-General promised? I am quite unable to understand why the Government do not accept this Amendment. It is a reasonable one, and one which will secure full and adequate discussion, which we shall not have without it. It only shows what we on this side of the House believe, that the Government desire to force these Resolutions through, and that they desire to precipitate the conflict, and are not willing to 344 give to the House of Commons that adequate time for discussion and reconsideration that we have hitherto had in all our great schemes of legislation, and which we certainly ought to have when dealing with a proposal which has for its object the destruction of the Constitution of the country.
§ Mr. WILLIAM PEEL
I rise for one moment, because I confess I cannot let the speech of the right hon. Gentleman opposite go without one word of protest. The right hon. Gentleman read us on this side of the House a lecture as to the incessant talking that goes on. He says: "Are we not here for action? Why do you want all this incessant speaking?" I thought that was a pretty good foretaste of the way in which this House is going to be conducted when it is a single Chamber, and when there is no Second Chamber to act as some corrective to the incidence of the Executive. Even now in this discussion, after four or five days, we are told that we are discussing the matter too much —this very important matter, the most important question that can be discussed in this House. The Government select this particular opportunity for cutting off one of those stages that we have for free discussion. I should have thought that, if these stages were to be curtailed, it might have been done on some less important Bill than on one dealing with the whole of the Constitution of the country. We have seen this spirit rising up throughout this Debate. Before we have actually got rid of the Second Chamber, and of the opportunity that is given by a Second Chamber for reconsideration, we are told, not that the stages of discussion in this House are too few, but that they are too many. We are told that already we have too much time for discussion in this House, and that the Executive are going to shorten it. These matters, I suppose, have been discussed in the Cabinet. I should think, by the number of Cabinet meetings that have been held, that they have been discussed more often perhaps than any previous subject, and, because the Government are weary of the discussion in the Cabinet, they come down and tell the House of Commons that they are talking too much, and that they are not to be allowed to deal with them. I support my Noble Friend, although I do so with a certain amount of hesitation, because I am bound to say that the course of the Debate, perhaps, shows it is unnecessary to have this Report stage. 345 Are the Government amenable to argument in this matter? We know perfectly well that even these Resolutions are going through this House without alteration. The Government are not free in the matter. They are a tied house. Their master sits below the Gangway on this side of the House, and a very stern master the hon. and learned Member for Waterford is. Without his leave and licence they dare not alter a single word in this Resolution. It is because of this I wonder whether my Noble Friend is right in asking, or rather in insisting, we should have this extra stage, because it is bound to be a pure farce: it reduces our discussions to an absurdity. My Noble Friend referred to a Speech made by the Chief Secretary for Ireland, in which he said how enormously impressed he was occasionally with the arguments used on the other side. He may be impressed, but he does nothing in consequence of the impression. The people who impress him are the people who sit behind him, and the Nationalist Members below the Gangway on this side of the House, by reason of the votes they can exercise. Any strength of argument,
§ any amount of discussion from, this side, is rendered futile because of the subterranean arrangements which are going on. I should like to give this suggestion to the other side. We know perfectly well how futile these discussions are, but for the sake of appearances it would be just as well to make some sort of pretence to the electors outside, who imagine that free discussion, is still carried on in the House of Commons. I have that feeling for the position of the House of Commons even though we here know what a fraud it is. I should be sorry for such an impression to get abroad in the country, and for the sake of the position which the House of Commons may still hold in the eyes of our fellow countrymen I wish the Government would yield to the demand of my Noble Friend, and thereby do something to keep up appearances.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 296; Noes, 193.349
|Division No. 15.]||AYES.||[11.10 p.m.|
|Abraham, William||Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Gulland, John W.|
|Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R.||Collins, Sir Wm. J. (St. Pancras, W.)||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)|
|Agnew, George William||Condon, Thomas Joseph||Hackett, J.|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.|
|Alden, Percy||Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Hall, Frederick (Normanton)|
|Allen, Charles P.||Cory, Sir Clifford John||Hancock, J. G.|
|Anderson, A.||Cowan, W. H.||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale)|
|Armitage, R.||Crosfield, A. H.||Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Atherley-Jones, Llewellyn A.||Crossley, Sir W J.||Harmsworth, R. L.|
|Baker, H. T. (Accrington)||Cullinan, J.||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury E.)||Dalziel, Sir James H. (Kirkcaldy)||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, W.)|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Barnes, G. N.||Davies, E. William (Eifion)||Harwood, George|
|Barran, Sir J. (Hawick)||Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)|
|Barran, Rowland Hirst (Leeds, N.)||Dawes, J. A.||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)|
|Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Delany, William||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry|
|Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.)||Devlin, Joseph||Haworth, Arthur A.|
|Beale, W. P.||Doris, W.||Hayden, John Patrick|
|Benn, W. (Tower Hamlets, St. Geo.)||Duffy, William J.||Hay ward, Evan|
|Bentham, G. J.||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Hazleton, Richard|
|Boland, John Pius||Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley)||Healy, Timothy Michael|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Edwards, Enoch||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)|
|Boyle, D. (Mayo, N.)||Elverston, H.||Henry, Charles S|
|Brace, William||Esmonde, Sir Thomas||Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor|
|Brady, P. J.||Esslemont, George Birnie||Higham, John Sharp|
|Brigg, Sir John||Falconer, James||Hindie, F. G.|
|Brocklehurst, W. B.||Farrell, James Patrick||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.|
|Burke, E. Havlland-||Ferens, T. R.||Hodge, John|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Ferguson, R. C. Munro||Hogan, Michael|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Ffrench, Peter||Holt, Richard Durning|
|Buxton, C. R. (Devon, Mid.)||Field, William||Hooper, A. G.|
|Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, N.)||Flavin, Michael Joseph||Hope, John Deans (Fife, West)|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney C. (Poplar)||France, G. A.||Home, C. Silvester (Ipswich)|
|Byles, William Pollard||Gelder, Sir W. A.||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Gibbins, F. W.||Hudson, Walter|
|Chancellor, H. G.||Gibson, James P.||Hughes, S. L.|
|Chapple, W. A.||Gill, A. H.||Hunter, W. (Govan)|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Glover, Thomas||Illingorth, Percy H.|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Isaacs, Sir Rufus Daniel|
|Clough, William||Greenwood, G. G.||Johnson, W.|
|Clynes, J. R.||Greig, Colonel J. W.||Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Collins, G. P. (Greenock)||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)|
|Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||O'Doherty, Philip||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Jowett, F. W.||O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S.)||Simon, John Allsebrook|
|Joyce, Michael||O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Kelly, Edward||O'Dowd, John||Soares, Ernest J.|
|Kemp, Sir G.||Ogden, Fred||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N.W.)|
|Kettle, Thomas Michael||O'Malley, William||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Kilbride, Denis||O'Neill, Charles (Armagh, S.)||Summers, James Woolley|
|King, J. (Somerset, N.)||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Sutherland, J. E.|
|Lambert, George||O'Sullivan, Eugene||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, W.)||Palmer, Godfrey Mark||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Layland-Barratt, Sir Francis||Parker, James (Halifax)||Tennant, Harold John|
|Leach, Charles||Pearson, Weetman H. M.||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)|
|Lehmann, R. C.||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A.||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Levy, Sir Maurice||Philipps, Sir Owen C. (Pembroke)||Thomas, J. H. (Derby)|
|Lewis, John Herbert||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Lincoln, Ignatius T. T.||Pickersgill, Edward Hare||Tomkinson, Rt. Hon. James|
|Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David||Pointer, Joseph||Toulmin, George|
|Low, Sir F. A. (Norwich)||Pollard, Sir George H.||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Lundon, T.||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Luttrell, Hugh Fownes||Power, Patrick Joseph||Verney, F. W.|
|Lynch, A. A.||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Vivian, Henry|
|Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)||Wadsworth, J.|
|Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Primrose, Hon. Neil James||Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)|
|Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Pringle, W. M. R.||Walsh, Stephen|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Radford, G. H.||Walters, John Tudor|
|M'Callum, John M.||Raffan, Peter Wilson||Walton, Joseph|
|M'Curdy, C. A.||Rainy, A. Rolland||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Raphael, Herbert H.||Waring, Walter|
|M'Laren, F. W. S. (Line, Spalding)||Rea, Walter Russell||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Mallet, Charles E.||Reddy, M.||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Manfield, Harry||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Marks, G. Croydon||Redmond, William (Clare)||Watt, Henry A.|
|Martin, J.||Rees, J. D.||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Masterman, C. F. G.||Rendall, Atheistan||White, Sir George (Norfolk)|
|Meagher, Michael||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||White, J. Dudas (Dumbartonshire)|
|Meehan, Francis (Leitrim, N.)||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)||White, Sir Luke (York, E.R.)|
|Middlebrook, William||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)||White, Patrick (Heath, North)|
|Millar, J. D.||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Molloy, M.||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)||Whyte, Alexander F. (Perth)|
|Mond, Alfred Moritz||Robinson, S.||Wiles, Thomas|
|Montagu, Hon E. S.||Robson, Sir William Snowdon||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Mooney, J. J.||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)||Williams, A. N. (Plymouth)|
|Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)||Roche, Augustine (Cork)||Williams, P. (Middlesbrough)|
|Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||Roche, John (Galway, East)||Williams, W. Llewelyn (Carmarthen)|
|Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Roe, Sir Thomas||Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)|
|Muldoon, John||Rowntree, Arnold||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestershire, N.)|
|Munro, R.||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter||Wilson, T. F. (Lanark, N.E.)|
|Murray, Captain Hon. A. C.||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Muspratt, M.||Samuel, J. (Stockton)||Winfrey, Richard|
|Nannetti, Joseph P.||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)||Wing, Thomas Henry|
|Neilson, Francis||Scanlan, Thomas||Wood, T. M'Kinnon (Glasgow)|
|Nolan, Joseph||Schwann, Sir C. E.||Young, William (Perth. East)|
|Norton, Capt. Cecil W.||Scott, A. H. (Ashton-under-Lyne)||Younger, W. (Peebles and Selkirk)|
|Nussey, Sir Willans||Seddon, J.||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Nuttall, Harry||Seely, Col. Right Hon. J. E. B.|
|O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Shackleton, David James||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.-Master of Elibank and Mr. Fuller.|
|O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Shaw, Sir C. E.|
|O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Sheehy, David|
|Acland-Hood, Rt. Hon. Sir Alex. F.||Bird, A.||Chambers, J.|
|Adam, Major W. A.||Boyle, W. L. (Norfolk, Mid)||Clay, Captain H. H. Spender|
|Arbuthnot, G. A.||Boyton, J.||Clive, Percy Archer|
|Archer-Shee, Major M.||Brackenbury, Henry Langton||Coates, Major E. F.|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Brassey, H. L. C. (N'thamptonshire, N.)||Colefax, H. A.|
|Bagot, Colonel J.||Brassey, Capt. R. (Banbury)||Cooper, Capt. Bryan (Dublin, S.)|
|Baird, J. L.||Bridgeman, W. Clive||Cooper, R. A. (Walsall)|
|Baker, Sir R. L. (Dorset, N.)||Brunskill, G. F.||Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)|
|Balcarres, Lord||Bull, Sir William James||Craig, Norman (Kent)|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Butcher, J. G. (York)||Craik, Sir Henry|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City Lond.)||Butcher, S. Henry (Cambridge Univ.)||Croft, H. P.|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Calley, Colonel T. C. P||Dairympie, Viscount|
|Banner, John S. Harmood-||Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. H. M.||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-|
|Baring, Captain Hon G.||Carllie, E Hildred||Du Cros, Alfred (Tower Hamlets, Bow)|
|Barnston, H.||Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H.||Duke, H. E.|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Castlereagh, Viscount||Duncannon, Viscount|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilton)||Cator, John||Eyres-Monsell, B. M.|
|Beckett, Hon. W. Gervase||Cave, George||Faber, George Denison (Clapham)|
|Benn, I. H. (Greenwich)||Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Faber, Capt. W. V. (Hants, W.)|
|Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish-||Chaloner, Colonel R. G. W.||Fell, Arthur|
|Beresford, Lord C.||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worc'r.)||Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey|
|Finlay, Sir Robert||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Randles, Sir John Scurrah|
|Fisher, W. Hayes||Law, Andrew Bonar (Dulwich)||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Fitzroy, Hon. E. A.||Lawson, Hon. Harry||Rawson, Colonel R. H.|
|Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue||Lewisham, Viscount||Rice, Hon. Walter F.|
|Fleming, Valentine||Llewelyn, Major Venables||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Forster, Henry William||Lloyd, G. A.||Rolleston, Sir John|
|Foster, H. S. (Suffolk, N.)||Locker-Lampson. G. (Salisbury)||Ronaldshay, Earl of|
|Foster, J. K. (Coventry)||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A. R.||Rothschild, Lionel de|
|Foster, P. S. (Warwick, S.W.)||Long, Rt. Hon. Walter||Royds, Edmund|
|Gastrell, Major W. H.||Lonsdale, John Brownies||Rutherford, Watson|
|Gibbs, G. A.||Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)||Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)|
|Gilmour, Captain J.||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. A. (Hanover Sq.)||Sanders, Robert A.|
|Goldsmith, Frank||Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droitwich)||Sanderson, Lancelot|
|Gordon, J.||MacCaw, William J. MacGeagh||Sandys, G. J. (Somerset, Wells)|
|Grant, James Augustus||Mackinder, H. J.||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Greene, W. R.||Macmaster, Donald||Stanley, Beville|
|Guinness, Hon. W. E.||Magnus, Sir Philip||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight)||Mason, J. F.||Starkey, John R.|
|Hambro, Angus Valdemar||Meysey-Thompson, E. C.||Staveley-Hill, Henry (Staffordshire)|
|Hamersley, A. St. George||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Steel-Maitland, A. D.|
|Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington, S.)||Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas||Stewart, Gersham (Ches. Wirrall|
|Hamilton, Marquess of (Londonderry)||Mitchell, William Foot||Stewart, Sir M'T. (Kirkcudbright)|
|Harris, F. L. (Stepney)||Moore. William||Strauss, A.|
|Harris, H. P. (Paddington, S.)||Morpeth, Viscount||Sykes, Alan John|
|Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Morrison, Captain J. A.||Terrell, H. (Gloucester)|
|Heath, Col. A. H.||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.||Thompson, Robert|
|Hickmann, Col. T.||Mount, William Arthur||Tryon, George Clement|
|Hill, Sir Clement||Newdegate, F. A.||Tullibardine, Marquess of|
|Hiller, Dr. A. P.||Newman, John R. P.||Valentia, Viscount|
|Hoare, S. J. G.||Newton, Harry Kottingham||Wairond, Hon. Lionel|
|Hohler, G. F.||Nicholson, Wm. G. (Petersfield)||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid.)|
|Hope, Harry (Bute)||Nield, Herbert||Wheler, Granville C. H.:|
|Hope, James Fitzaian (Sheffield)||O'Neill, Hon. A. E. B. (Antrim, Mid)||White, Major G. D. (Lanes., Southport|
|Horne, William E. (Surrey, Guildford)||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claude|
|Horner, A. L.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Houston, Robert Paterson||Paget, Aimeric Hugh||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E.R.)|
|Hunt, Rowland||Peel, Capt. R. F. (Woodbridge)||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Hunter, Sir C. R. (Bath)||Peel, Hon. W. R. W. (Taunton)||Worthington-Evans, L. (Colchester)|
|Jackson, John A. (Whitehaven)||Perkins, Walter F.||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Kerr-Smiley, Peter||Peto, Basil Edward||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Keswick, William||Pollock, Ernest Murray||Younger, George (Ayr Burghs)|
|King Sir Henry Seymour (Hull)||Pretyman, E. G.|
|Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Proby, Col Douglas James||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Viscount Helmsley and Mr. Laurence Hardy.|
|Kirkwood, J. H. M.||Quilter, William Eley C.|
|Knight, Capt. E. A.|
§ Mr. WATSON RUTHERFORD
moved, in the fifth paragraph, to leave out the words "proposed by the Government."
The effect of the Amendment will be that when the question is put forthwith on these Resolutions, any Amendments which are on the Paper would require to be also put. It would not lead to any further discussion because that is precluded by the Resolution as it stands, but any substantive Amendments which had been put on the Paper would be obliged to be put to the vote. I presume under the Standing Orders which were passed last Session it would be competent for the Chairman to select any of the Amendments, and if there were any unsubstantial Amendments they would not require to be put. The object of my Amendment is simply that if there are any substantial Amendments which under the existing Standing Orders could not be passed over as being utterly frivolous, or proposed for the purpose of wasting time, it would be in the discretion of the Chairman to put those Amendments to the vote.
§ Mr. FELL
I beg to second the Amendment.
350 Those who were present in the last Parliament when the Licensing Bill went through under the Guillotine Resolutions will remember that there were a good many Amendments of an important character on which the opinion of this House was most earnestly desired, but which owing to the Guillotine Resolutions, were unable ever to be put. I think the Clause on Sunday Closing was never able to be discussed, and there was no division taken, upon any Amendment to it, because before that particular Clause came on some important matter was discussed at such length that the second part of the business for that day was not reached in time to be discussed. If the Amendment proposed by my hon. Friend were carried, it would be possible to have divisions, though there; would be no discussion, upon Amendments regarding which many hon. Members would be glad to have the opinion of the House. When this was suggested on the occasion to which I refer, I believe the Prime Minister's objection was that the Opposition could put a number of Amendments on the Paper and divide the House on every one of them, so that hon. 351 Members might be kept for hours going through the lobbies. I do not think that would be the case under the present rules. It may be remembered that in similar cases the Government frequently put down twenty or thirty Amendments. One or two of these were selected as principal Amendments, and on these divisions were taken, but the bulk of the Amendments were allowed to go through without any division. I believe if this Amendment were carried it would be found that there is sufficient provision in the Standing Orders to prevent any waste of time.
§ The CHANCELLOR Of the DUCHY (Mr. Joseph Pease)
In 1904 the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition said that the Guillotine Procedure had come to stay and was inevitably a part of the procedure of the House of Commons, and subsequently he declined with his colleagues to take any further part in the proceedings, and he said that he would go into the division lobby merely as a protest against the suspension of the 11 o'clock rule. This was in 1908 on the Education Bill Guillotine Resolutions. We have had several of these protests this afternoon. We have had now probably unfortunately from many points of view a large number of these Guillotine Resolutions in the past, and no doubt we shall see a great many in the future. In the proceedings in the past over and over again the same point has been raised by hon. Members and has been fairly considered by the Government representing parties on both sides of the House, and they have come to the decision that it is wiser not to give the opportunity to the House to divide on Private Member's Amendments of this kind. For instance, if you were to accept the hon. Member's Amendment I do not think that there are any words which would give the Chairman any opportunity whatever to use discretion with regard to the selection of the Amendments. Some might be frivolous. Some might be Amendments of substance. What I do suggest to the House is that if we accept this it is open to grave abuse, and a great number of Amendments might be put down for the very purpose of dividing the House and obstructing the Resolution. If there are any private Member's Amendments of real importance it is very easy for the Opposition in the time at their disposal to at any rate secure a definite decision of the House by allowing it to 352 reach those Amendments. For these reasons I am afraid that the Government on this occasion, as on previous occasions, will not be able to accept the hon. Member's Amendment.
§ Viscount CASTLEREAGH
The right hon. Gentleman seems to have undertaken the melancholy task of explaining to the House that these Closure Resolutions had come to stay, and would in the future be applied in a more drastic manner. He says that this point has often been raised before. But we have never been asked to discuss these measures when no Report stage was contemplated. I certainly think that in the Amendment moved by my hon. Friend there is a certain amount of substance which should cause it to be accepted by the Government. Consider the position under this Closure Resolution if adopted. It means that Amendments of substance may be put down by an hon. Gentleman on the Paper. Owing to these Closure Resolutions some Amendment will be moved, but the Government will take no notice of other Amendments lower down on the Paper which will not be considered by the Government or by this House. In view of the fact that there is no Report stage to follow these proceedings, the Government are adopting a very dangerous attitude. I venture to urge upon the House the necessity of considering this question because it is one of vital importance. It is perfectly possible that very important Amendments may be put down by hon. Gentlemen, whether on this side of the House or on that side, but owing to the fact that it is impossible to move such Amendments on the Report stage, when again they might be discussed, they will be passed by, and will not receive the attention that they ought to receive. For these reasons I hope that the Government will see their way to accepting the Amendment moved by my hon. Friend.
§ Sir E. CARSON
I would ask the right hon. Gentleman one question. Precedent has been mentioned. I do not recollect any precedent on Resolutions. It may be that there are some. The point made by the Noble Lord is that we shall not have any Report stage. What happens on a Bill is not to occur on the Resolutions. Very often Amendments are passed over under the closure, and they are put down again for the Report stage. That, of course, is now impossible on the Resolutions, because there is no Report stage. When you talk of precedent, and of applying drastic closure, is it wished to lay 353 down a precedent on a proposal for the alteration of the whole Constitution? Is there no distinction to be drawn between that and an ordinary Bill? It is to be recollected that we have had no case like this before.
§ Mr. JOSEPH PEASE
The only precedent in connection with the Resolutions is that the Conservative Party on the 16th March, 1905, guillotined, to use a common phrase, the Supply of the year from the 31st March. They not only guillotined Supply but the Supplementary Estimates, and on the Report stage, under the guillotine, there was not given an opportunity even for discussion; so that there is really a precedent set up by right hon. Gentlemen opposite for the principle which we are now adopting in connection with these Resolutions. But there is a great difference in the circumstances. Whilst right hon. Gentlemen opposite guillotined Supply on the Consolidated Fund Bill based upon the Resolutions in Committee of Ways and Means, those Resolutions were effective. The difference between their action and ours is that our Resolutions indicate the principles which this House may or may not be prepared to accept; they are not effective Resolutions in the same way as Resolutions passed in Committee of Ways and Means.
§ Sir A. ACLAND-HOOD
The right hon. Gentleman, I am sure, will forgive me for replying to his speech. I happen to have a very vivid recollection of the circumstances to which he refers. That the guillotine was applied in the year 1905 was primarily due to the extraordinary length to which the right hon. Gentleman's friends discussed trivial Supplementary Estimates. That was done, and openly done, to embarrass the Government of the day, which had to find a way out of the difficulty in order to apply the law. At the same time the right hon. Gentleman has forgotten one thing—that though we did carry the guillotine we gave the then Opposition a full pledge that on a subsequent vote they should have ample opportunity of raising the whole question of the Army. I am within the recollection of my friends on this side of the House, who were in the House of Commons at the time. We did carry the Resolution, I admit, but we gave full opportunity to discuss the question of the Army at a later date. On this occasion we are denied an opportunity of discussion. [An HON. MEMBER: "NO."] Yes; we have no 354 opportunity of discussion on the Report stage in connection with, I suppose, the most vital Resolutions that could be brought before the House. We are still in the dark as to these Resolutions— whether when they are Reported a Bill is to be introduced. We are still in some difficulty, or at all events, in ignorance as to whether there is to be any Report stage of that Bill. Really, when the right hon. Gentleman quotes precedents he might give us a precedent more to the point than the one which he has quoted. All I say is that when we were in this difficulty as to the guillotine, we gave the House of Commons fair opportunity, and I trust the Government will act in the same spirit even at this late hour.
§ Viscount HELMSLEY
When the Debate on these Resolutions commenced I was certainly under the impression that we really were engaged in a serious task, and that it was the commencement of a revolution. That impression has gradually faded away from my mind because of the speeches of right hon. Gentlemen opposite. I think that every speech any one of them makes goes to show more clearly that they look upon these things only as pious Resolutions, and that therefore it does not matter how long or how short we have to discuss them. I was still more confirmed in that view after I heard the speech of the Chancellor of the Duchy. What did he do? He quotes a precedent of the most trivial kind. He seems to think that Supplementary Army Estimates—whether, I suppose, there should be more buttons on a soldier's coat, or something of that kind—is a similar subject to guillotine as the whole question of the Constitution. I venture to say that the question whether this precedent of a former Resolution of the kind is right or not does not concern the present House.
§ Mr. JOSEPH PEASE
In addition to the Supplementary Estimates, Votes A and 1 of Army and Navy were taken.
§ Sir A. ACLAND-HOOD
I must correct the right hon. Gentleman. My memory is more accurate than his. We did propose to guillotine Vote A and 1. There was very strong protest made by the then Opposition, and in response to that protest we took Vote A and Vote 8, holding over Vote 1, and gave them the opportunity of discussing the Army.
§ Viscount HELMSLEY
Even as to the somewhat feeble precedent, which the 355 Chancellor of the Duchy produces, he does not seem to have a very perfect recollection. But whether his recollection is perfect or otherwise, I submit that those precedents do not in the least concern the present House of Commons. This guillotine Resolution is upon a totally new subject, one which has not been presented to the House as a serious subject ever, I think, before, as it is being presented now. The question is, whether we have a guillotine or not of this kind— whether only Amendments which have teen proposed by the Government should be divided on by this House? Whatever the Front Bench may think, and I may say in spite of precedents which perhaps have been indulged in by the Front Bench on this side, I cannot help thinking this is a proposal which is very unfair to the private Member and very derogatory to the House of Commons itself. After all, what are we here for? Hon. Members below the Gangway opposite seem to forget the fact that we each of us represent a considerable number of the electorate. Even if you take away from a private Member the right of discussing his Amendment, it is grossly unpardonable that you should take away from him the right of dividing the House upon it. How is a private Member to go down to his Constituency and answer questions which are addressed to him as to why he did not make certain proposals of amendment to
§ the Government propositions which were unfavourable to the views of his Constituents. What is he to answer? That he had no opportunity because of the closure? That will be regarded by most constituents as a very feeble answer, because they do not recognise the impossible condition to which the Government have reduced the House of Commons. If the constituencies realised how little is the power of the private Member to affect legislation they would be very much astonished and horrified. When bad precedents are carried to the length now proposed I can only enter my most emphatic protest. Why would it not be possible, instead of confining Amendments upon which the House can divide to Amendments proposed by the Government, to set up some tribunal which should decide which Amendments should be discussed and divided upon? That would give the private Member a chance of having his views considered, and put him more on an equality with the oligarchical Government of the day.
§ Mr. WATSON RUTHERFORD
As it is clear that the Government have not the slightest intention of giving way, I would ask leave to withdraw the Amendment. [Several OPPOSITION MEMBERS: "NO, no."]
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 269; Noes, 175.359
|Division No. 16.]||AYES.||[11.45 p.m.|
|Abraham, William||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Ferguson, R. C. Munro|
|Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R.||Clancy, John Joseph||Ffrench, Peter|
|Agnew, George William||Clough, William||Field, William|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Clynes, J. R.||Flavin, Michael Joseph|
|Alden, Percy||Collins, G. P. (Greenock)||France, G. A.|
|Allen, Charles P.||Condon, Thomas Joseph||Gelder, Sir W. A.|
|Anderson, A.||Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Gibbins, F. W.|
|Baker, H. T. (Accrington)||Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Gibson, James P.|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury E.)||Cory, Sir Clifford John||Gill, A. H.|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Cowan, W. H.||Glover, Thomas|
|Barnes, G. N.||Crosfield, A. H.||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford|
|Bar ran, Sir John N. (Hawick B.)||Cullinan, J.||Greenwood, G. G.|
|Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Dalziel, Sir James H. (Kirkcaldy)||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward|
|Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.)||Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||Gulland, John W.|
|Barton, A. W.||Davies, E. William (Elfion)||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)|
|Benn, W. (Tower Hamlets, St Geo.)||Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Hackett, J.|
|Bentham, George Jackson||Dawes, J. A.||Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.|
|Boland, John Plus||Delany, William||Hall, Frederick (Normanton)|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Hancock, J. G.|
|Boyle, D. (Mayo, N.)||Devlin, Joseph||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. I. (Rossendale)|
|Brace, William||Doris, W.||Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Brady, P. J.||Duffy, William J.||Harmsworth, R. L.|
|Brocklehurst, W. B.||Duncan, C. (Barrow-In-Furness)||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley)||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, W.)|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Edwards, Enoch||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Buxton, C. R. (Devon, Mid)||Elverston, H||Harwood, George|
|Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, N.)||Esmonds, Sir Thomas||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. S. C. (Poplar)||Esslemont, George Birnie||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Falconer, J.||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry|
|Chancellor, H. G.||Farrell James Patrick||Haworth, Arthur A.|
|Chapple, W. A.||Forens, T. R.||Hayden, John Patrick|
|Hayward, Evan||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)|
|Hazleton, Richard||Muldoon, John||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Healy, Timothy Michael||Munro, R.||Scott, A. H. (Ashton-under-Lyne)|
|Henderson. Arthur (Durham)||Murray, Captain Hon. A. C.||Seddon, J.|
|Henry, Charles S.||Muspratt, M.||Seely, Col., Right Hon. J. E. B.|
|Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor||Nannetti, Joseph P.||Shackleton, David James|
|Higham, John Sharp||Neilson, Francis||Sheehy, David|
|Hindle, F. G.||Nolan, Joseph||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.||Norton, Capt. Cecil W.||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Hodge, John||Nussey, Sir Willans||Soares, Ernest Joseph|
|Hogan, Michael||Nuttall, Harry||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N.W.)|
|Holt, Richard Durning||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Hooper, A. G.||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Summers, James Woolley|
|Home, C. Silvester (Ipswich)||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Sutherland, J. E.|
|Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||O'Doherty, Philip||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Hudson, Walter||O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S.)||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Hughes, S. L.||O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)||Tennant, Harold John|
|Hunter, W. (Govan)||O'Dowd, John||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)|
|Illingworth, Percy H.||Ogden, Fred||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Isaacs, Sir Rufus Daniel||O'Malley, William||Thomas, J. H. (Derby)|
|Johnson, W.||O'Neill, Charles (Armagh, S.)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Toulmin, George|
|Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||O'Sullivan, Eugene||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Palmer, Godfrey Mark||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Jowett, F. W.||Parker, James (Halifax)||Vivian, Henry|
|Joyce, Michael||Pearson, Weetman H. M.||Wadsworth, J.|
|Kelly, Edward||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A.||Walker, H. de R. (Leicester)|
|Kemp, Sir G.||Philipps, Sir Owen C. (Pembroke)||Walsh, Stephen|
|Kettle, Thomas Michael||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)||Walters, John Tudor|
|Kilbride, Denis||Pickersgill, Edward Hare||Walton, Joseph|
|King, J. (Somerset, N.)||Pointer, Joseph||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Lambert, George||Pollard, Sir George H.||Waring, Walter|
|Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, W.)||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Leach, Charles||Power, Patrick Joseph||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Lehmann, R. C.||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Levy, Sir Maurice||Primrose, Hon. Nell James||Watt, Henry A.|
|Lewis, John Herbert||Pringle, W. M. R.||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Lincoln, Ignatius T. T.||Radford, G. H.||White, Sir George (Norfolk)|
|Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David||Raffan, Peter Wilson||White, J. Dundas (Dumbartonshire)|
|Lundon, T.||Rainy, A. Rolland||White, Sir Luke (York, E.R.)|
|Luttrell, Hugh Fownes||Raphael, Herbert H.||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Lynch, A. A.||Rea, Walter Russell||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Reddy, M.||Whyte, Alexander F. (Perth)|
|Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Wiles, Thomas|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Redmond, William (Clare)||Wilkie, Alexander|
|M'Curdy, C. A.||Rees, J. D.||Williams, A. N. (Plymouth)|
|M'Kenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Rendall, Atheistan||Williams, W. L. (Carmarthen)|
|M'Laren, F. W. S. (Line, Spaiding)||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Williams, P. (Middlesbrough)|
|Manfield, Harry||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)||Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)|
|Marks, G. Croydon||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestershire, N.)|
|Martin, J.||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)||Wilson, T. F. (Lanark, N.E.)|
|Master-man. C. F. G.||Robinson, S.||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Meagher, Michael||Robson, Sir William Snowdon||Winfrey, Richard|
|Meehan. Francis E (Leitrim, N.)||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)||Wing, Thomas|
|Middlebrook, William||Roche, Augustine (Cork)||Wood, T. M'Kinnon (Glasgow)|
|Millar, J. D.||Roche, John (Galway, East)||Young, W. (Perthshire, E.)|
|Molloy, M.||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Mond, Alfred Moritz||Runclman, Rt. Hon. Walter||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Master of Elibank and Mr. Fuller.|
|Mooney, J. J.||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)||Samuel, J. (Stockton)|
|Acland-Hood, Rt. Hon. Sir Alex. F.||Boyle, W. L. (Norfolk, Mid)||Clive, Percy Archer|
|Adam, Major W. A.||Boyton, J.||Coates, Major E. F.|
|Arbuthnot, G. A.||Brackenburg, H. L.||Colefax, H. A.|
|Archer-Shee, Major M.||Brassey, H. L. C. (Northants, N.)||Compton, Lord A. (Brentford)|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Brassey, Capt. R. (Banbury)||Cooper, Capt. Bryan (Dublin, S.)|
|Baird, J. L.||Bridgeman, W. Clive||Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)|
|Baker, Sir R. L. (Dorset, N.)||Brunskill, G. F.||Craig, Norman (Kent)|
|Balcarres, Lord||Bull, Sir William James||Croft, H. P.|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City, Lond.)||Butcher, S. Henry (Cambridge Univ.)||Dairympie, Viscount|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Calley, Col. Thomas C. P.||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-|
|Banner, John S. Harmood-||Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. H. M.||Du Cros, Alfred (Tower Hamlets, Bow)|
|Baring, Captain Hon. G.||Carllie, E. Hildred||Duke, H. E.|
|Barnston, H.||Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H.||Duncannon, Viscount|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Castlereagh, Viscount||Eyres-Monsell, B. M.|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilton)||Cator, John||Faber, George Denison (Clapham)|
|Beckett, Hon. W. Gervase||Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Faber, Capt. W. V, (Hants, W.)|
|Benn, I H. (Greenwich)||Chaloner, Colonel R. G. W.||Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey|
|Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worc'r.)||Fitzroy, Hon. E. A.|
|Beresford, Lord C.||Chambers, J.||Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue|
|Bird, A.||Clay, Captain H. H. Spender||Fleming, Valentine|
|Forster, Henry William||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Ratcliff, Major R. F.|
|Foster, H. S. (Suffolk, N.)||Law, Andrew Bonar (Dulwich)||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Foster, P. S. (Warwick, S.W.)||Lawson, Hon. Harry||Rawton, Colonel R. H.|
|Gastrell, Major W. H.||Lewisham, Viscount||Rice, Hon. Walter F.|
|Gibbs, G. A.||Llewelyn, Venables||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Gilmour, Captain J.||Lloyd, G. A.||Rolleston, Sir John|
|Goldman, C. S.||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Ronaldshay, Earl of|
|Goldsmith, Frank||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A. R.||Rothschild, Lionel de|
|Gordon, J.||Long, Rt. Hon. Walter||Royds, Edmund|
|Grant. J. A.||Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)||Sanders, Robert A.|
|Greene, W. R.||Lytteiton, Rt. Hon. A. (Hanover Sq.)||Sanderson, Lancelot|
|Guinness, Hon. W. E.||Lytteiton, Hon. J. C. (Droitwich)||Sandys, G. J. (Somerset, Wells)|
|Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)||MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight)||Mackinder, H. J.||Stanier, Beville|
|Hambro, Angus Valemar||Macmaster, Donald||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Hamersley, A. St. George||Magnus, Sir Philip||Starkey, John R.|
|Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington, S.)||Mason, J. F.||Steel-Maitland, A. D.|
|Hamilton, Marquess of (Londonderry)||Meysey-Thompson, E. C.||Stewart, Gershom (Ches., Wirral)|
|Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashford)||Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas||Sykes, Alan John|
|Harris, F. L. (Stepney)||Mitchell, William Foot||Thompson, Robert|
|Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Morpeth, Viscount||Thynne, Lord A.|
|Heath, Col. A. H.||Morrison, Captain J. A.||Tryon, George Clement|
|Heimsley, Viscount||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.||Tullibardine, Marquess of|
|Hickmann, Col. T.||Mount, William Arthur||Valentia, Viscount|
|Hillier, Dr. A. P.||Newdegate, F. A.||Walrond, Hon. Lionel|
|Hills, J. W.||Newman, John R. P.||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid.)|
|Hoare, S. J. G.||Newton, Harry Kottingham||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Hohler, G. F.||Nicholson, Wm. G. (Petersfield)||White, Major G. D. (Lancs, Southport)|
|Hope, Harry (Bute)||Nield, Herbert||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claude|
|Horne, W. E. (Surrey, Guildford)||O'Neill, Hon. A. E. B. (Antrim, Mid)||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Horner, A. L.||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E.R.)|
|Hume-Williams, W. E.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Wood, John (Stelybridge)|
|Hunt, Rowland||Peel, Capt. R. F. (Woodbridge)||Worthington-Evans, L. (Colchester)|
|Hunter, Sir C. R. (Bath)||Perkins, Walter F.||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Jackson, John A. (Whitehaven)||Peto, Basil Edward||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Kerr-Smiley. Peter||Pollock, Ernest Murray||Younger, George (Ayr Burghs)|
|King, Sir Henry Seymour (Hull)||Proby, Col. Douglas James|
|Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Quilter, William Eley C.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Watson Rutherford and Mr. Fell.|
|Kirkwood, J. H. M.||Randies, Sir John Scurrah|
|Knight, Capt. E. A.|
§ Mr. WATSON RUTHERFORD
moved to leave out the words "For the purpose of bringing the proceedings on the Report of the Resolutions to a conclusion, the Question shall be forthwith put without debate on each Resolution by the Speaker that the House do agree with the Committee in the Resolution, and a Bill shall, without Question put, be ordered to be brought in on any Resolutions."
I gather that the substance of this Amendment has already been debated in an Amendment which, I believe was not upon the paper, but was handed in in writing. The effect of this Amendment is that we should not be deprived of discussing the Report stage. If it is competent for me to move the Amendment I shall do so.
§ Viscount CASTLEREAGH
May I ask, on a point of Order, whether this Amendment does not raise another point when it moves to omit the words "a Bill shall, without Question put, be ordered to be brought in on any Resolutions." That raises a point not yet discussed.
§ Mr. WATSON RUTHERFORD
I was not giving any opinion, I was simply submitting to yours, Mr. Speaker, which is so much better than mine on a point of order. I do submit my Amendment is in order.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
Is it not the case that the House discussed at very great length the question whether or not there should be a Report stage on these Resolutions and divided upon the subject; may I ask, Mr. Speaker, whether the earlier part, at all events, of the hon. Member's Amendment does not raise precisely the same point?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I think it is quite clear that the earlier portion of the Amendment raises exactly the same point which has been already discussed, but the Amendment for the omission of the latter part, whether "a Bill shall, without Question put, be ordered to be brought in on any Resolutions," raises a separate issue which has not yet been discussed.
§ Mr. WATSON RUTHERFORD
accordingly moved to leave out the words, "And a Bill shall, without Question put, be ordered to be brought in on any Resolutions agreed to." I do not desire to discuss any of the points which have already been discussed, but the words which I pro- 361 pose to omit set up a very serious precedent because they enable a Bill to be brought in without Question put. I move this Amendment as a protest against this method of guillotine.
§ Viscount HELMSLEY
I desire to second this Amendment. It is clear that the Postmaster-General was not aware that these words were in the Prime Minister's Resolution, because he said that the First Reading would be a stage of the subsequent Bill. It now turns out that there will be no First Reading, because the passing of these Resolutions is the First Reading. I object to this Resolution because it is curtailing another stage. In the course of this Debate we have discovered that two stages are to be curtailed because you are cutting out the Report Stage and the First Reading. I think the Government have selected a bad time to start this kind of thing, and I shall support the proposal of my hon. Friend.
§ the ordinary procedure is that the Bill is ordered to be brought in. What then can be the object of the hon. and learned Member in omitting this valuable and important stage. Our procedure should be definite and precise, and the bringing in of a Bill is the ordinary method of submitting our proposals to the House. I cannot see how the object which the hon. and learned Member has in view will be benefited in any way if the words he has taken exception to are left out. On the contrary, it seems to me that they would entirely stultify the object they have held in view during the Debate, namely, that the great principles which the Government put forward in these Resolutions, and which they seek to establish by them, shall as soon as convenient be presented to the House in the definite and concrete form of a Bill.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 253; Noes, 164.365
|Division No. 17.]||AYES.||[12.0 a.m.|
|Abraham, William||Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Haworth, Arthur A.|
|Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R.||Dawes, J. A.||Hayden, John Patrick|
|Agnew, George William||Delany, William||Hayward, Evan|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Denman, R. D.||Healy, Timothy Michael|
|Alden, Percy||Devlin, Joseph||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)|
|Allen, Charles P.||Doris, W.||Henry, Charles S.|
|Anderson, A.||Duffy, William J.||Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor|
|Baker, H. T. (Accrington)||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Higham, John Sharp|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley)||Hindle, F. G.|
|Barnes, G. N.||Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.|
|Barran, Sir J. (Hawick)||Elverston, H.||Hogan, Michael|
|Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Esmonde, Sir Thomas||Holt, Richard Durning|
|Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.)||Esslemont, George Birnie||Hooper, A. G.|
|Barton, A. W.||Falconer, J.||Home, C. Silvester (Ipswich)|
|Beale, W. P.||Farrell, James Patrick||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey|
|Benn, W. (Tower Hamlets, St. Geo.)||Ferens, T. R.||Hudson, Walter|
|Bentham, G. J||Ferguson, R. C. Munro||Hughes, S. L.|
|Boland, John Pius||Ffrench, Peter||Hunter, W. (Govan)|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Field, William||Illingworth, Percy H.|
|Boyle, D. (Mayo, N.)||Flavin, Michael Joseph||Isaacs, Sir Rufus Daniel|
|Brace, William||France, G. A.||Johnson, W.|
|Brady, P. J.||Gelder, Sir W. A.||Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Brocklehurst, W. B.||Gibbins, F. W.||Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Gibson, James P.||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Gill, A. H.||Jowett, F. W.|
|Buxton, C. R. (Devon, Mid.)||Glover, Thomas||Joyce, Michael|
|Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, N.)||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Kelly, Edward|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney C. (Poplar)||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||Kemp, Sir G.|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Gulland, John W.||Kilbride, Denis|
|Chancellor, H. G.||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||King, J. (Somerset, N.)|
|Chapple, W. A.||Hackett, J.||Lambert, George|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, W.)|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Hill, Frederick (Normanton)||Leach, Charles|
|Clough, William||Hancock, J. G.||Lehmann, R. C.|
|Clynes, J. R.||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis (Rossendale)||Levy, Sir Maurice|
|Collins, G. P. (Greenock)||Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)||Lewis, John Herbert|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Harmsworth, R. L.||Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Lundon, T.|
|Cowan, W. H.||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, W.)||Lynch, A. A.|
|Crosfield, A. H.||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N.E.)||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)|
|Cullinan, J.||Harwood, George||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.|
|Dalziel, Sir James H. (Kirkcaldy)||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||MacVeagh, Jeremiah|
|Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||M'Curdy, C. A.|
|Davies, E. William (Eifion)||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald|
|M'Laren, F. W. S. (Lines., Spaiding)||Power, Patrick Joseph||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Manfield, Harry||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Thomas, J. H. (Derby)|
|Marks, G. Croydon||Primrose, Hon. Nell James||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Martin, J.||Prinale, William M. R.||Toulmin, George|
|Masterman, C. F. G.||Radford, G. H.||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Meagher, Michael||Raff an, Peter Wilson||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Meehan, Francis E. (Leltrim, N.)||Rainy, A. Rolland||Vivian, Henry|
|Middlebrook, William||Raphael, Herbert H.||Wadsworth, J.|
|Millar, J. D.||Rea, Walter Russell||Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)|
|Mond, Alfred Moritz||Reddy, M.||Walsh, Stephen|
|Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Waiters, John Tudor|
|Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||Rees, J. D.||Walton, Joseph|
|Muldoon, John||Rendall, Athelstan||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Munro, R.||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Waring, Walter|
|Murray, Captain Hon. A. C||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Muspratt, M.||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Nannetti, Joseph P.||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Nellson, Francis||Robinson, S.||Watt, Henry A.|
|Nolan, Joseph||Robson, Sir William Snowdon||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Norton, Capt. Cecil W.||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)||White, Sir George (Norfolk)|
|Nussey, Sir Willans||Roche, Augustine (Cork)||White, J. Dundas (Dumbartonshire)|
|Nuttall, Harry||Roche, John (Galway, East)||White, Sir Luke (York, E.R.)|
|O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Roe, Sir Thomas||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|O'Connor, John (Kilda[...], N.)||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. t, (Cleveland)||Whyte, Alexander F. (Perth)|
|O'Doherty, Philip||Samuel, J. (Stockton)||Wiles, Thomas|
|O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S.)||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)||Wilkie, Alexander|
|O'Dowd, John||Scanlan, Thomas||Williams, A. N. (Plymouth)|
|Ogden, Fred||Scott, A. H. (Ashton-under-Lyne)||Williams, W. Llewelyn (Carmarthen)|
|O'Malley, William||Seddon, J.||Williams, P. (Middlesbrough)|
|O'Neill, Charles (Armagh, S.)||Seely, Col., Right Hon. J. E. B.||Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull. W.)|
|O'Shaughnessey, P. J.||Shackleton, David James||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestershire, N.)|
|Palmer, Godfrey||Sherwell, Arthur James||Wilson, T. F. (Lanark, N.E.)|
|Parker, James (Halifax)||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Pearson, Weetman H. M.||Soares, Ernest J.||Winfrey, Richard|
|Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A.||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N.W.)||Wing, Thomas Henry|
|Philipps, Sir Owen C. (Pembroke)||Summers. James Woolley||Wood, T. M'Kinnon (Glasgow)|
|Phillips, John (Longford, S.)||Sutherland, J. E.||Young, W. (Perthshire, E.)|
|Plckersgill, Edward Hare||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Pointer, Joseph||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Master|
|Pollard, Sir George H.||Tennant, Harold John||of Elibank and Mr. Fuller.|
|Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.|
|Acland-Hood, Rt. Hon. Sir Alex. F.||Colefax, H. A.||Hickmann, Col. T.|
|Adam, Major W. A.||Compton, Lord A. (Brentford)||Hillier, Dr. A. P.|
|Arbuthnot, G. A.||Cooper, Capt. Bryan (Dublin, S.)||Hills J, W.|
|Archer-Shee, Major M.||Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Hoare, S. J. G.|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Craig, Norman (Kent)||Hohler, G. F.|
|Baird, J. L.||Croft, H. P.||Hope, Harry (Bute)|
|Baker, Sir R. L. (Dorset, N.)||Dairympie, Viscount||Home, W. E. (Surrey, Guildford)|
|Baicarres, Lord||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers||Homer, A. L.|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City Lond.)||Du Cros, Alfred (Tower Hamlets, Bow)||Hunt, Rowland|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Duncannon, Viscount||Hunter, Sir C. R. (Bath)|
|Baring, Captain Hon. G.||Eyres-Monsell, B. M.||Jackson, John A. (Whitehaven)|
|Barnston, H.||Faber, George Denison (Clapham)||Kerr-Smiley, Peter|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||King, Sir Henry Seymour (Hull)|
|Beckett, Hon. W. Gervase||Fitzroy, Hon. E. A.||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement|
|Benn, I. H. (Greenwich)||Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue||Kirkwood, J. H. M.|
|Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish-||Fleming, Valentine||Knight, Capt. E. A.|
|Berestord, Lord C.||Forster, Henry William||Lane-Fox, G. R.|
|Bird, A.||Foster, H. S. (Suffolk, N.)||Law, Andrew Bonar (Dulwich)|
|Boyle, W. L. (Norfolk, Mid)||Foster, P. S. (Warwick, S.W.)||Lawson, Hon. Harry|
|Brackenbury, H. L.||Gastrell, Major W. H.||Lewisham, Viscount|
|Brassey, H. L. C. (N'thamptonshire, N.)||Gibbs, G. A.||Llewelyn, Venables|
|Brassey, Capt. R. B. (Banbury)||Gilmour, Captain J.||Lloyd, G. A.|
|Brunskill, G. F.||Goldman, C. S.||Lockyer-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)|
|Bull, Sir William James||Goldsmith, Frank||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A. R.|
|Butcher, S. Henry (Cambridge Univ.)||Gordon, J.||Long, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Calley, Colonel T. C. P.||Grant, J. A.||Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)|
|Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. H. M.||Greene, W. R.||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. A. (Hanover Sq.)|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||Guinness, Hon. W. E.||Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droltwich)|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H.||Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)||MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight)||Mackinder, H. J.|
|Cator, John||Hambro, Angus Valdemar||Macmaster, Donald|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Hamersley, A. St. George||Mason, J. F.|
|Chaloner, Colonel R. W. G.||Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington, S.)||Meysey-Thompson, E. C.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worc'r.)||Hamilton, Marquess of (Londonderry)||Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas|
|Chambers, J.||Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashford)||Mitchell, William Foot|
|Clay, Captain H. Spender||Harris, F. L. (Stepney)||Morpeth, Viscount|
|Clive, Percy Archer||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Morrison, Captain J. A.C.|
|Coates, Major E. F.||Heath, Col. A. H.||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.|
|Mount, William Arthur||Rice, Hon. Walter Fitz-Uryan||Tullibardine, Marquess of|
|Newdegate, F. A.||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)||Valentia, Viscount|
|Newman, John R. P.||Rolleston, Sir John||Walrond, Hon. Lionel|
|Newton, Harry Kottingham||Ronaldshay, Earl of||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|Nicholson, Win. G. (Petersfield)||Rothschild, Lionel de||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Nield, Herbert||Royds, Edmund||White, Major G. D. (Lanes., Southport)|
|O'Neill, Hon. A. E. B. (Antrim, Mid)||Sanders, Robert A.||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claude|
|Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.||Sandys, G. J. (Somerset, Wells)||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E.R.)|
|Peel, Capt. R. F. (Woodbridge)||Stanier, Beville||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Perkins, Walter F.||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)||Worthington-Evans, L. (Colchester)|
|Peto, Basil Edward||Starkey, John R.||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Pollock, Ernest Murray||Steel-Maitland, A. D.||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Proby, Colonel Douglas James||Stewart, Gershom (Cheshire, Wirral)||Younger, George (Ayr Burghs)|
|Quilter, William Eley C.||Sykes, Alan John|
|Ratcliff, Major R. F.||Thompson, Robert||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Mr.|
|Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel||Thynne, Lord A.||Watson Rutherford and Viscount Heimsley.|
|Rawson, Colonel R. H.||Tryon, George Clement|
§ Mr. WATSON RUTHERFORD
rose to move to leave out the words: "A Motion may be made by a Minister of the Crown at the commencement of Public Business on any day after this Order is in operation, to be decided without Amendment or debate, that any specified day or days be substituted for any day or days on which, under this Order, any proceedings are to be brought to a conclusion, or on which the Committee on the Resolutions is to be put down as first Order of the day, and, if such a Motion be agreed to, this Order shall have effect as if the necessary substitutions were made therein. Provided that the time available under this Order for the consideration of the Resolutions as a whole or of any single Resolution be not thereby diminished."
The effect of these lines if left in would be that on any day that is fixed when we are to take the great Constitutional question raised by the Resolutions into consideration, we must come down to the House for that purpose, and without any notice a Minister of the Crown might get up and simply propose, and it might be carried there and then without debate that this subject should not come on, but that other Orders of the day should immediately be taken. That is not such a serious aspect of the question as the converse of it, that some day, not one of the days fixed for this business, we may arrive at the House expecting other business to come before the House, and we are face to face with continuing the discussion on this very important subject. It is obvious that if the Government intended to give reasonable notice of an intention to change the day with regard to taking this matter there would be very little in this objection; but the mere fact that they have seen fit to bring the Resolution before the House in this form would give them the power of taking the House by surprise on any day that they liked, although the day 366 in question might not be the day that has been fixed for taking this business. That is something, I think, to which the House would certainly object. I have no desire to waste the time of the House in discussing this point or going to a division upon it, and if we were to receive an assurance from the Government Bench that they would always give ample notice in advance I would not move the Amendment, but before I abstain from doing so, I think we ought to have some reasonable assurance from a Minister of the Crown.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I hope it will shorten the discussion if the hon. Member will allow me to interrupt him before he moves his Amendment, in order to give him the assurance which he seeks. This provision has been inserted absolutely to meet the convenience of the House and to provide for the smooth and efficient conduct of public business and the efficient control of it. We have our procedure mapped out of all the days that are before us, but it is just possible, although it is not likely, that some subject of urgent importance which the Government may desire to lay before the House, and which the House may wish to discuss, may press for attention, and we think it is only reasonable that we should take in these Resolutions power to vary the days on which they may be taken so as to meet the general convenience of the assembly. Nothing is further from the wish of the Government than to take hon. Members by surprise in this matter; on the contrary, the whole procedure by Resolution has been adopted to bring elaborately and slowly before the House the main principles of the measure which we propose. For the purpose of bringing them forward elaborately and slowly we devote three weeks to that purpose, and if any change should take place which we do not apprehend the fullest notice will be given, and the Government will use every exer- 367 tion to see that every hon. Gentleman, wherever he may sit, may be apprised beforehand of the character and scope of the business which will be submitted to the House on any afternoon or evening.
§ Mr. WATSON RUTHERFORD
I think it is very satisfactory to have elicited from the right hon. Gentleman an assurance that this power which they seek to take will not be followed up on the arbitrary manner in which it is expressed, and I think we ought to accept the assurance which the right hon. Gentleman has given, and therefore I will not move my Amendment.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I do not intend to move my Amendment. It is useless to address arguments, however well founded, to right hon. Gentlemen. They have made up their minds and hon. Members behind them sit there to do whatever they are told. We are given a foretaste of what we are to expect when we have single-Chamber Government, and I am prepared to accept the inevitable.
§ Mr. WALTER GUINNESS
moved, in paragraph 11, after the word "business" ["Any private business"] to insert "with the exception of the London County Council General Powers Bill."
The London County Council Bill would have been passed before Easter except for the convenience of the Government. It was down on the Monday preceding the Easter Adjournment, and was held over because if it were taken it would probably have necessitated a sitting on Thursday and prevented an adjournment on Wednesday. It contains very contentious matter, and was strongly objected to by a large number of borough representatives, and I do not think it possible for it to be discussed on its merits after Eleven o'clock. Opposition of the kind it is likely to meet with is far more likely to be successful in a thin House than if taken at 8.15, and in a question of this kind the interests of private Bill legislation should not be sacrificed to the convenience of the Government, and I appeal to the Government to make an exception in its favour.
§ Mr. W. R. GREENE
Under the Prime Minister's proposals this Bill will not come on until such an hour when hon. Members are not in a fit frame of mind to discuss important measures. Technically, this is 368 a private Bill, but it contains matter of such immense importance to millions of people that it hardly comes under the ordinary category of private business. When the Prime Minister spoke earlier today he told us that he had drawn these Resolutions with the express purpose of avoiding any interference with a private Member's Bill which is to be discussed on Friday, and also of avoiding any interference with a Private Member's Motion which is to be proposed on Wednesday evening. I venture to think that the General Powers Bill of the County Council is of far greater importance at this moment than either the Private Member's Bill or the Private Member's Motion. Therefore, I appeal to the Government to see whether they cannot take this Question into consideration with the view of giving the General Powers Bill an opportunity of coming on before half past ten or eleven o'clock on Thursday evening.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. Churchill)
As to the appeal which has been so effectively made to the Government by the two hon. Members who have just spoken, I am sure that they will themselves see on reflection that it would be very invidious on the part of the Government to pick and choose in regard to matters of this character, that is to say, between the different characters of the measures forming the private business coming from all parts of the country, and to show a marked preference for one Bill while showing no sort of favour to others which, though not of so important a character to London, are equally important to the municipalities interested in them. I do not think it is quite fair to the House of Commons to say that we cannot debate these matters after eleven o'clock. Here we are at half-past twelve, and I see nothing in the course of the Debate, certainly nothing in the last two speeches to which we have listened, to lead one to suppose that there is anything in the measure referred to which we cannot grapple with when the occasion is reached. I feel like the hon. Member for Liverpool that it would be very inconvenient if Members who have their minds concentrated on the Veto Resolutions were to come down to the House, and find that that subject had been suddenly and unexpectedly interrupted by a long and elaborate wrangle upon the details of the London County Council Bill. I think that would not be fair to the House. It is with great reluctance that I differ from the two 369 hon. Gentlemen who have spoken, but I am afraid I must say on behalf of the Government that we cannot make an exception in the case of this measure.
§ Mr. LONG
The Home Secretary has not quite realised what is the position. The right hon. Gentleman says with perfect truth that at half-past twelve o'clock we are capable of discussing questions of public interest. I have been in the House for many years and, speaking generally, I do not mind how late the discussion of a question may be taken. Personally I do not mind how long we sit, but the question is not whether we are as capable of debating at half-past twelve o'clock as we are at half-past six. The question is, what is the rule, what is the procedure of the House of Commons? What hitherto has been the practice of the House of Commons, Parliament has deliberately decided that private business should be taken at 8.15 p.m. when Bills are agreed to between the promoters and the opponents on the day on which it is set down. The Government have chosen deliberately to interrupt the whole of our ordinary business, and not only to put down very drastic proposals, but to adopt a very drastic method of carrying those proposals out. The result is that the whole system of private business is destroyed. The Home Secretary has told us that we can discuss business as well at half-past twelve as at half-past eight. He realises that by being considerate we may possibly get to bed earlier than we otherwise should. But this is a Bill as to which the Home Secretary knows that the present Government many times denounced us when we were in office because we were not prepared to give sufficient attention and sufficient time to the business of the London County Council. I have heard them remind us with great force that the London County Council not only represents some seven or eight millions of people, but that it deals with questions which affect the rest of the country. This point of view is particularly applicable to the Bill to which my hon. Friend refers. It contains clauses which will have a very far-reaching effect. Why are they in the Bill at all?
I have had some experience of this kind of legislation, both in the Local Government Board and in the country, and I do not agree with the proposals of the London County Council. I think that that kind of legislation 370 is on the wrong lines altogether. I have said so before in this House. But when that Bill comes in I intend to support those clauses because the Government who have promised legislation on this subject session after session, who have resisted proposals made by the London County Council on previous occasions on the ground that you have no right to let one particular county legislate on a question of this kind by itself, as the law should be general, are not keeping their promise to bring in a measure of their own. The reform which London and the rest of the country wants cannot be got because the Government have determined first of all to destroy the Constitution, and second to destroy it post haste. In order that they may work their wicked will, legislation, which everybody wants, is to be taken at a time when the Home Secretary thinks he can discuss it, but which in the deliberate and considered opinion—words to which the Government attach great importance— of Parliament, ought to be taken at an earlier hour. I hope that members of the London County Council who took a vigorous part in the recent Election, holding that anything of a Progressive character could only come from that side of the House, will take note of the attitude adopted towards them by the Government, now that it is in a position to make an exception in favour of a Bill which, notwithstanding what has fallen from the Home Secretary, stands absolutely by itself. There is no other Bill promoted by any other municipality which can be compared with this one, for it not only affects London itself, the centre of the United Kingdom, but it affects the whole of the rest of the country, and is one in which the greatest possible interest is taken by many classes in the Kingdom. Notwithstanding all that was said in the last Parliament by the Government as to the Unionist party having neglected London, when an opportunity occurs to give London a chance of having legislation considered they dismiss it with a few sentences such as those which the Home Secretary has spoken. I hope that all those who are interested in the government of London will note the attitude of His Majesty's Ministers in regard to this matter.
§ Question put; "That those words be there inserted."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 142; Noes, 235.373
|Division No. 18.]||AYES.||[12.35 a.m.|
|Acland-Hood, Rt. Hon. Sir Alex. F.||Goldman, Charles Sydney||Newman, John R. P.|
|Adam, Major William A.||Goldsmith, Frank||Newton, Harry Kottingham|
|Arbuthnot, Gerald A.||Gordon, John||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)|
|Archer-Shee, Major Martin||Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)||Nield, Herbert|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight)||O'Neill, Hon. A. E. B. (Antrim, Mid.)|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Hambro, Angus Valdemar||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.|
|Baker, Sir Randolf L. (Dorset, N.)||Hamersley, Alfred St. George||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Balcarres, Lord||Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington)||Peel, Capt. R. F. (Woodbridge)|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City Lond.)||Hamilton, Marquess of (Londonderry)||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Harris, F. L. (Tower Hamlets, Stepney)||Peto, Basil Edward|
|Baring, Captain Hon. Guy Victor||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Pollock, Ernest Murray|
|Barnston, Harry||Heath, Col. Arthur Howard||Proby, Col. Douglas James|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Helmsley, Viscount||Ratcliff, Major R. F.|
|Beckett, Hon. William Gervase||Hickman, Colonel Thomas E.||Rawson, Col. Richard H.|
|Benn, Ion Hamilton (Greenwich)||Hillier, Dr. Alfred Peter||Rice, Hon. Walter Fitz-Uryan|
|Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish-||Hills, John Walter (Durham)||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Beresford, Lord Charles||Hoare, Samuel John Gurney||Rolleston, Sir John|
|Bird, Alfred||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Ronaldshay, Earl of|
|Boyle, W. Lewis (Norfolk, Mid)||Hope, Harry (Bute)||Rothschild, Lionel de|
|Brackenbury, Henry Langton||Horne, Wm E. (Surrey, Gulldford)||Royds, Edmund|
|Brassey, H. L. C. (Northants, N.)||Homer, Andrew Long||Rutherford, William Watson|
|Brassey, Capt. R. (Oxon, Banbury)||Hunt, Rowland||Sanders, Robert Arthur|
|Brunskill, Gerald Fitzgibbon||Hunter, Sir Chas. Rodk. (Bath)||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. H. M.||Jackson, John A. (Whitehaven)||Stanier, Beville|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Kerr-Smiley, Peter Kerr||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Cator, John||King, Sir Henry Seymour (Hull)||Starkey, John Ralph|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Maner)||Kirkwood, John H. M.||Steel-Maitland, A. D.|
|Chaloner, Col. R. G. W.||Knight, Capt Eric Ayshford||Stewart, Gershom (Ches. Wirral)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worc'r.)||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Sykes, Alan John|
|Chambers, James||Law, Andrew Bonar (Dulwich)||Thompson, Robert|
|Clay, Captain H. H. Spender||Lawson, Hon. Harry||Thynne, Lord Alexander|
|Clive, Percy Archer||Lewisham, Viscount||Tryon, Capt. George Clement|
|Coates, Major Edward F.||Llewelyn, Venables||Tullibardine, Marquess of|
|Compton, Lord Alwyne (Brentford)||Lloyd, George Ambrose||Valentia, Viscount|
|Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Walrond, Hon. Lionel|
|Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Long, Rt. Hon. Walter||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|Croft, Henry Page||Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Dairymple, Viscount||Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droitwich)||White, Major G. D. (Lane, Southport)|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claude|
|Du Cros, A. (Tower Hamlets, Bow)||Mackinder, Halford J.||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Duncannon, Viscount||Macmaster, Donald||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.||Mason, James F.||Worthington-Evans, L.|
|Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||Meysey-Thompson, E. C.||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Fitzroy, Hon. Edward A.||Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Fleming, Valentine||Morpeth, Viscount||Younger, George (Ayr Burghs)|
|Foster, Harry S. (Lowestoft)||Morrison, Captain James A.|
|Gastrell, Major W. Houghton||Mount, William Arthur||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr.|
|Gibbs, George Abraham||Newdegate, F. A.||Guinness and Mr. Raymond Greene.|
|Gilmour, Captain John|
|Abraham, William||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Flavin, Michael Joseph|
|Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R.||Clancy, John Joseph||France, Gerald Ashburner|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Clough, William||Gelder, Sir William Alfred|
|Alden, Percy||Clynes, John R.||Gibbins, F. W.|
|Allen, Charles Peter||Collins, Godfrey P. (Greenock)||Gibson, James Puckering|
|Anderson, Andrew Macbeth||Condon, Thomas Joseph||Gill, Alfred Henry|
|Baker, Harold T, (Accrington)||Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Glover, Thomas|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Cowan, William Henry||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford|
|Barnes, George N.||Cullinan, John||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward|
|Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick B.)||Daiziel, Sir James H. (Kirkcaldy)||Gulland, John William|
|Barry, Edward (Cork, S.)||Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)|
|Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.)||Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Hackett, John|
|Barton, William||Dawes, James Arthur||Hall, F. (Yorks, Normanton)|
|Beale, William Phipson||Delany, William||Hancock, John George|
|Benn, W. (Tower Hamlets, S. Geo.)||Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale)|
|Bentham, George Jackson||Devlin, Joseph||Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Boland, John Plus||Doris, William||Harmsworth, R. Leicester|
|Bowerman, Charles W.||Duffy, William J.||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)|
|Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)||Duncan, C. (Barrow-In-Furness)||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)|
|Brace, William||Edwards, Enoch||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Brady, Patrick Joseph||Elverston, Harold||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)|
|Brocklehurst, William B.||Esmonde, Sir Thomas||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Falconer, James||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry|
|Buxton, C. R. (Devon, Mid)||Farrell, James Patrick||Haworth, Arthur A.|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. S. C. (Poplar)||Ferens, Thomas Robinson||Hayden, John Patrick|
|Carlile, Edward Hildred||Ferguson, Ronald C. Munro||Hayward, Evan|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Ffrench, Peter||Hazleton, Richard|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Field, William||Healy, Timothy Michael|
|Henry, Charles Solomon||Nolan, Joseph||Seely, Col., Right Hon. J. E. B.|
|Higham, John Sharp||Nussey, Sir T. Willans||Shackleton, David James|
|Hindle, Frederick George||Nuttall, Harry||Sheeny, David|
|Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Hogan, Michael||O'Connor John (Kildare, N.)||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Holt, Richard Durning||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Soares, Ernest Joseph|
|Hooper, Arthur George||O'Doherty, Philip||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N.W.)|
|Home, Charles Silvester (Ipswich)||O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S.)||Summers, James Woolley|
|Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||O'Donnell, Thomas (Kerry, W.)||Sutherland, John E.|
|Hudson, Walter||O'Dowd, John||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Hughes, Spencer Leigh||Ogden, Fred||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Hunter, Wm. (Lanark, Govan)||O'Malley, William||Tennant, Harold John|
|Illingworth, Percy H.||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Johnson, William||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Thomas, James Henry (Derby)|
|Jones, Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||O'Sullivan, Eugene||Thome, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Palmer, Godfrey Mark||Toulmin, George|
|Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Parker, James (Halifax)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Jowett, Frederick William||Pearson, Weetman H. M.||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Joyce, Michael||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A.||Vivian, Henry|
|Kelly, Edward||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)||Wadsworth, John|
|Kilbride, Denis||Pickersgill, Edward Hare||Walker, H. de R. (Leicester)|
|King, Joseph (Somerset, N.)||Pointer, Joseph||Walsh, Stephen|
|Lambert, George||Pollard, Sir George H.||Walton, Joseph|
|Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, W.)||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Leach, Charles||Power, Patrick Joseph||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Lehmann, Rudolf C.||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Lewis, John Herbert||Primrose, Hon. Neil James||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David||Pringle, William M. R.||Watt, Henry A.|
|Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A. R.||Radford, George Heynes||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Lundon, Thomas||Raffan, Peter Wilson||White, Sir George (Norfolk)|
|Lynch, Arthur Alfred||Rainy, Adam Rolland||White, J. Dundas (Dumbartonshire)|
|Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Raphael, Herbert H.||White, Sir Luke (Yorks, E.R.)|
|Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Rea, Walter Russell||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Reddy, Michael||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|M'Curdy, Charles Albert||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Whyte, Alexander F. (Perth)|
|M'Laren, F. W. S. (Line, Spalding)||Rees, John David||Wiles, Thomas|
|Manfield, Harry||Rendall, Athelstan||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Marks, George Croydon||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Williams, Aneurin (Plymouth)|
|Martin, Joseph||Roberts, George H. (Norwich)||Williams, W. L. (Carmarthen)|
|Masterman, C. F. G.||Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)||Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)|
|Meagher, Michael||Robinson, Sidney||Wilson, Hon. G G. (Hull, W.)|
|Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestershire, N.)|
|Millar, James Duncan||Roche, Augustine (Cork)||Wilson, T. F. (Lanark, N.E.)|
|Mond, Alfred Moritz||Roche, John (Galway, East)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter||Winfrey, Richard|
|Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)||Wing, Thomas Henry|
|Muldoon, John||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Wood, T. M'Kinnon (Glasgow)|
|Munro, Robert||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)||Young, William (Perth, East)|
|Murray, Capt Hon. Arthur C.||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Muspratt, Max||Scott, A. H. (Ashton-under-Lyne)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Master of Elibank and Mr. Fuller.|
|Nannettl, Joseph P.||Seddon, James A.|
§ Mr. H. S. FOSTER
moved in the twelfth paragraph to leave out the words "for Adjournment under Standing Order 10, nor Motion."
The object of the Amendment is to reserve to the House the right to move the Adjournment under Standing Order 10. The reason given by the Home Secretary in justification of an unusual provision earlier in the Resolution was that a contingency might arise of urgent importance which the Government might desire to discuss. The object of the Motion for Adjournment is to give an opportunity for the consideration of a matter of definite and urgent public importance which the House, not the Government, may desire to discuss. The duty of deciding whether a matter is urgent and definite rests with Mr. Speaker; therefore the power is not liable to abuse. Moreover, the Motion has to be supported by forty 374 Members rising in their places. The Government are seeking to deprive the House of that almost immemorial right, safeguarded though it is by Standing Orders.
I call attention in this House—I do not-think it is of much use in the House, because Members of the Government are served by their "subservient majority"— for the information of the public outside, that in these proposals, so urgent and so indecent is the haste of the Government, that we must be even deprived of the right in the public interest to call attention to a matter which may urgently require attention, and which can only be dealt with by a Motion for Adjournment, well safeguarded by the discretion of Mr. Speaker. This even has to be removed from the Standing Orders, and the public deprived of their protection. I would observe that the other side are possibly making a rod for their own backs by this, and the 375 many other stringent provisions of these stringent regulations. I respectfully ask the Government, the House, notwithstanding the "subservient majority" of Labour Members—the Independent Labour party —to consider before this is pressed. I ask them to exempt from this drastic regulation the procedure of this House, and to still reserve to the House its past rights in this matter.
§ Viscount CASTLEREAGH
I desire to second the Amendment. I believe that of all the proposals of the Government these are the most autocratic and unscrupulous that have been put forward. I note that hon. Gentlemen who sit below the Gangway admire this autocratic and unscrupulous proposition of the Government. It is the essense of trade unionism. They want to reduce Members of Parliament to the position of trade unionists ! I hope and believe it will be a long time before the House is so reduced. We have heard of the privileges of the private members that existed years ago. I think we can agree that those privileges are entirely a thing of the past. In the proposition of the Government, one of the last remaining privileges of the House of Commons is going to be removed. I sincerely hope that before the House endorses this portion of the Resolution that they will pause for a moment to consider what they are doing. We all know perfectly well what right is attached to precedent. Here is one that is going to be refused—the right to move the Adjournment on a matter of urgent public interest. This, in the future, will be pointed out as a reason why that right should be entirely abolished. I should like very much to have seen the Prime Minister in his position to answer for the Government; for I do not know that it is worth while attaching any importance to utterances from that Bench in his absence. We know that the Prime Minister does not appear to see eye to eye with his colleagues, and that utterances made by his colleagues are made without his sanction. There is no doubt that as the other leader of the Liberal party is not in his place, a conference is going on with respect to the future.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I am quite certain that the Prime Minister, and I think it is highly possible the hon. and learned Member for Waterford also, greatly regret that they have not had the opportunity of listening to the excellent 376 speeches which have just been delivered, and I am certain if they had foreseen that this incident was going to take place they would have made it their business to be here. I detected in the remarks of both speakers the suggestion of a mood which if it were prolonged might introduce elements of controversy into our proceedings which I am quite certain wherever we sit we are all anxious to exclude. Therefore I will not follow the Noble Lord or the hon. Member into some of the extraneous matters to which they have in their nimble and sprightly fashion referred. I only wish to point out that we are giving to the House the maximum of continuous debating time compatible with the general needs of the Parliamentary situation for the discussion of these Resolutions. For the general ease of the Parliamentary situation it is necessary that the issue should be opened as early as possible. All this day and all this evening we have listened to great complaints from the Opposition of the shortness of time, but now comes the Noble Lord at the end of the day with his complaint because, by a provision which we have inserted in this Resolution, we are endeavouring to protect the main Debate from all causes of fortuitous incursions which would interrupt it, and provide hon. Members with the opportunity they have looked for, and are entitled to, of giving full and proper consideration to the Resolutions. When the Noble Lord speaks of this Motion as being an arbitrary and degrading and unscrupulous piece of tyranny, I would remind him he ought not to use such strong language about a process his own leader so invariably adopted. For many years these Resolutions have been introduced, and this provision has always been an inseparable and invariable feature of them. This Motion is framed upon them, and therefore I hope, out of respect to his leader, the Noble Lord and the hon. Member will consent not to press their opposition to this reasonable and necessary provision. Their opposition is still less necessary because of the special provision introduced which undoubtedly gives an element of elasticity which in the more drastic and austere procedure of former days was lacking in these Resolutions.
§ Sir A. ACLAND-HOOD
There is one point which I should like to impress upon the House, and it is that this guillotine Motion is to be followed by another in very 377 much the same terms. The old Budget, as I understand it, is to be taken under guillotine until the commencement of the Spring recess. Not only is the House to be asked to deprive itself of the power of moving the Adjournment upon matters of urgent public importance upon this guillotine, but we are threatened with a subsequent Motion of the same kind which would prevent any Member of the House from raising any grievance until after we adjourned for the Spring recess. I think that makes a great difference, because the Motion we are asked to pass is one which this House has never been asked to assent to before. We have before us an endless vista of guillotines. We have been told that the Government may vary their procedure and put down any important business from a Government point of view on any particular day by giving notice. As far as I can see, until we adjourn for the Spring recess, whatever important public matter may arise, no hon. Member of this House will have an opportunity of calling attention to it. I think that is a very strong order. I trust the Government before they bring in their Second or Third Guillotine Resolution will reconsider this Question and endeavour to restore to private Members some of their rights.
§ Mr. JOSEPH PEASE
As the person responsible for the innovation referred to in this Resolution which has given some elasticity to this guillotine proposal, may I point out that it only allows the Government certain latitude to change the days. This has been done not merely with a view to enable the Government to bring forward matters of public importance, but also to give the House as a whole the same opportunity. If the House desires to discuss a serious subject representations can be made to the Prime Minister in the usual way. I may remind the right hon. Baronet (Sir A. Acland-Hood) that before the Adjournment for the Spring recess we may have to take the Vote on Account which has already been indicated, and upon that it will be possible to move the Adjournment of the Debate under Standing Order 10. In addition to that it is quite possible we may take Supply or a Motion to get Mr. Speaker out of the Chair. Therefore there will be some occasions between now and the vacation when hon. Members can exercise their right under the Standing Order.
§ 1.0 A.M.
§ Lord WILLOUGHBY de ERESBY
We appear to be adopting now a new set of 378 rules of procedure. By a sort of side-wind a new sort of procedure is being brought in under which a kind of elasticity is to be provided in this Resolution. I understand that if a question arises which may be of interest to the whole House the Government will allow a debate upon it on one of the intervening days. I do not think fresh rules of procedure should be brought in when you are putting forward proposals for the abolition of the Second Chamber under Resolutions such as these, and for these reasons I shall support my hon. Friend if he presses the matter to a division. I happen to be one of those who have never looked upon the invasion of the rights of private Members with any great regret, because I believe that a great deal of the time taken up in this way is wasted, more especially in the ease of those Resolutions which are discussed on Tuesday evenings. The question, however, we are considering now is what opportunities will private Members have under these proposals of raising, matters of urgent public importance? We have had these rights ever since I have been a Member of the House in regard to any matter which Mr. Speaker has decided to be of urgent public importance. Now we are to have them swept away, and under this Guillotine Resolution we are to have a new set of procedure rules. The Home Secretary has told us that if the whole House goes on bended knees to the Prime Minister he may grant an opportunity for discussion. If it is not convenient for the Prime Minister or the Government to have the particular matter discussed he will tell us that the Closure Resolution must stand. I am not particularly jealous of the rights of private Members, but I think the right of raising a debate when there is really a question which should be discussed is one which Gentlemen and the right hon. Gentlemen opposite, whenever it comes to their turn to sit in opposition, in spite of their jeers and laughter to-night, will bitterly deplore having voted away without one word of excuse or apology. They will find it is a right they will be very sorry for having parted with.
§ Mr. WATSON RUTHERFORD
I hare not been a Member of this House for more than eight years, but during the whole of that time I have never known so great care taken not to abuse this particular privilege. The adjournment of the House has not been moved or demanded upon any subject in a frivolous way during the time that we have been in Opposition. It may 379 be within the recollection of the House that on many occasions when the late Government were in power the adjournment of the House was asked for, sometimes twice a week, on all sorts of points, but we have been jealous of this great privilege and have not abused it. We have, not come here on all sorts of occasions, and attempted to submit that there was a matter of urgent public importance with a view of delaying or interfering with the proceedings of the Government. Seeing that the privilege has not been abused, and that there is no evidence that there is any intention on this side of the House to abuse it, to seek by this Resolution to deprive us of that power is a very serious matter indeed.
We cannot help feeling aggrieved at the very flippant language used to-night by the Home Secretary. He has treated the whole matter of the privileges of Members in a flippant style. He has jeered at the speeches made by the Proposer and Seconder of this Amendment. That is not the way in which the subject ought to be dealt with. I would further point out that not only are the privileges of private Members sought to be taken away, notwithstanding the urgency of the matter which may be brought forward, but the effect of the Resolution will be to interfere with the discretion of Mr. Speaker. That is carrying the matter too far. Mr. Speaker may be relied upon not to give the right to move the Adjournment if the matter is not one of the gravest possible importance. The irony of the situation is seen when you look at the words the Government propose. They propose that the Motion for the Adjournment may be permitted if it is put forward by themselves. What is the object of asking for leave to move the Adjournment? It is to insist upon the Government giving attention to a matter of urgent public importance. Are the Government likely to place themselves in the position of being criticised? The provision in the Motion is a monstrous piece of irony. That, coupled with the language used by the Home Secretary, is enough to make anyone object to this proceeding. I think we have been discussing the Closure Resolution long enough, and I therefore beg to move "That the Debate be now adjourned."
§ Debate resumed.380
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I desire to say one word upon the Amendment. I quite recognise the importance of what has been said by the Mover and Seconder and by my right hon. Friend (Sir Alexander Acland-Hood). I think it is very hard that private Members should be deprived for the time being of their right under the Standing Orders of moving the Adjournment of the House to call attention to some matter of urgent importance. But whilst fully recognising that, I think there is a point worthy of their consideration which perhaps has not occurred to them. If the time taken for a Motion for the Adjournment of the House were not time subtracted from the time allocated to the consideration of the Resolutions I should vote with them. But of course it will be time subtracted from the consideration of the Resolutions. That time in our opinion is already far too short. May I remind my hon. Friends, before they finally decide what action they will take, that that time might be subtracted, not by our action, but by the action of somebody who is quite in favour of the Resolutions, but who does not wish them to be discussed. If this Amendment were carried it is not the Opposition who would alone have the right to move the Adjournment of the House, and if the Government found their position becoming difficult, or if hon. Members who support them thought they were not making a good defence of their Resolutions, it would be possible for them to curtail the discussion by exercising this power of moving the Adjournment in order to deprive the Opposition of the right to press a point which was inconvenient to the Government. I do not know what my hon. Friends think of that possibility, but, having regard to that danger and to the very short time which we are allowed, under any circumstances, to devote to the discussion of the Resolutions, I say, speaking for myself, that I cannot vote for the Amendment, and I hope it will not be pressed to a Division.
§ Viscount HELMSLEY
I am sorry to differ from the right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, but it does seem to me that he has left out of consideration a further possibility. I recognise the force of his argument, and of course it would be the last thing that any of us would wish that the discussion on the Resolutions should be curtailed, but I propose, if this Amendment of my hon. Friend is carried, to move a further 381 Amendment at the end of the Resolution, and that Amendment would be a repetition of the words, "Provided that the time available under this Order for the consideration of the Resolutions as a whole or of any single Resolution be not thereby diminished." If this Amendment is carried I shall move that Amendment, and in that case I think we should be quite safe-
§ guarded and should have ample time for the discussion of the Resolutions. I hope that on that understanding the right hon. Gentleman will reconsider his decision and be able to vote with us.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 221; Noes, 124.383
|Division No. 19.]||AYES.||[1.15 a.m.|
|Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R.||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||O'Doherty, Philip|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, W.)||O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S.)|
|Alden, Percy||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N.E.)||O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)|
|Allen, Charles P.||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||O'Dowd, John|
|Anderson, A.||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Ogden, Fred|
|Baker, H. T. (Accrington)||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||O'Malley, William|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Haworth, Arthur A.||O'Neill, Charles (Armagh, S.)|
|Barran, Sir J. (Hawick)||Hayden, John Patrick||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Hayward, Evan||O'Sullivan, Eugene|
|Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.)||Hazelton, Richard||Palmer, Godfrey|
|Barton, A. W.||Healy, Timothy Michael||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Beale, W. P.||Henry, Charles S.||Pearson, Weetman H. M.|
|Benn, W. (Tower Hamlets)||Higham, John Sharp||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A.|
|Bentham, G. J.||Hindle, F. G.||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)|
|Boland, John Plus||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.||Pickersgill, Edward Hare|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Hogan, Michael||Pointer, Joseph|
|Boyle, D. (Mayo, N.)||Hooper, A. G.||Pollard, Sir George H.|
|Brace, William||Home, C. Silvester (Ipswich)||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.|
|Brady, P. J.||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Brocklehurst, W. B.||Hudson, Walter||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Hughes, S. L.||Primrose, Hon. Neil James|
|Buxton, C. R. (Devon, Mid.)||Hunter, W. (Govan)||Pringle, William M. R.|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. S. C. (Poplar)||Illingworth, Percy H.||Radford, G. H.|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Johnson, W.||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Chapple, W. A.||Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)||Palny, A. Rolland|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Raphael, Herbert H.|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Rea, Walter Russell|
|Clough, William||Jowett, F. W.||Reddy, M.|
|Collins, G. P. (Greenock)||Joyce, Michael||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Kelly, Edward||Rees, J. D.|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Kilbride, Denis||Rendall, Athelstan|
|Cowan, W. H.||King, J. (Somerset, N.)||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Cullinan, J.||Lambert, George||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Daiziel, D. (Brixton)||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, W.)||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||Leach, Charles||Robinson, S.|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Ichmann, R. C.||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)|
|Dawes, J. A.||Lewis, John Herbert||Roche, Augustine (Cork)|
|Delany, William||Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David||Roche, John (Galway, East)|
|Penman, R. D.||Lundon, T.||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Waiter|
|Devlin, Joseph||Lynch, A. A.||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Coris, W.||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Duffy, William J.||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-In-Furness)||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Scanian, Thomas|
|Elverston, H.||M'Curdy, C. A.||Scott, A. H. (Ashton-under-Lyne)|
|Esmonde, Sir Thomas||M'Laren, F. W. S. (Lines., Spalding)||Seddon, J.|
|Falconer, J.||Manfield, Harry||Seely, Col., Right Hon. J. E. B.|
|Farrell, James Patrick||Marks, G. Croydon||Shackleton, David James|
|Ferens, T. R.||Martin, J.||Sheehy, David|
|Ferguson, R. C. Munro||Masterman, C. F. G.||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Ffrench, Peter||Meagher, Michael||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Soares, Ernest J.|
|France, G. A.||Millar, J. D.||Stanley, Albert (Staffs. N.W.)|
|Gelder, Sir W. A.||Mond, Alfred Moritz||Summers, James Woolley|
|Gibbins, F. W.||Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)||Tavlor, John W. (Durham)|
|Gibson, James P.||Muldoon, John||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Gill, A. H.||Munro, R.||Tennant, Harold John|
|Glover, Thomas||Murray, Captain Hon. A. C.||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Muspratt, M.||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||Nannetti, Joseph P.||Toulmin, George|
|Gulland, John W.||Nellson, Francis||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||Noland, Joseph||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Hackett, J.||Nussey, Sir Wilians||Vivian, Henry|
|Hall, Frederick (Normanton)||Nuttall, Harry||Wadsworth, J.|
|Hancock, J. G.||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Walsh, Stephen|
|Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis (Rossendale)||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Walton, Joseph|
|Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.||Whyte, Alexander F. (Perth)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)||Wilkie, Alexander||Winfrey, Richard|
|Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)||Williams, A. N. (Plymouth)||Wing, Thomas Henry|
|Wedgwood, Joslah C.||Williams, W. Llewelyn (Carmarthen)||Wood, T. M'Kinnon (Glasgow)|
|White, Sir George (Norfolk)||Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)||Young, William (Perth, East)|
|White, J. Dundas (Dumbartonshire)||Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)|
|White, Sir Luke (York, E.R.)||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestershire, N.)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Master of Elibank and Mr. Fuller.|
|White, Patrick (Meath, North)||Wilson, T. F. (Lanark, N.E.)|
|Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Adam, Major W. A.||Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight)||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.|
|Archer-Shee, Major M.||Hambro, Angus Vaidemar||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Hamersley, A. St. George||Peel, Capt. R. F. (Woodbridge)|
|Baird, J. L.||Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashford)||Perkins, Walter F.|
|Baker, Sir R. L. (Dorset, N.)||Harris, F. L. (Stepney)||Peto, Basil Edward|
|Baring, Captain Hon. G.||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Pollock, Ernest Murray|
|Barnston, H.||Heath, Col. A. H.||Proby, Colonel Douglas James|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Helmsley, Viscount||Ratcliff, Major R. F.|
|Beckett, Hon. W. Gervase||Hickmann, Col. T.||Rawson, Colonel R. H.|
|Benn, I. H. (Greenwich)||Hillier, Dr. A. P.||Rice, Hon. W.|
|Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish-||Hills, J. W.||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Bird, A.||Hoare, S. J. G.||Rolleston, Sir John|
|Boyle, W. L. (Norfolk, Mid)||Hohler, G. F.||Ronaldshay, Earl of|
|Brackenburg, H. L.||Hope, Harry (Bute)||Rothschild, Lionel de|
|Brassey, H. L. C. (N'thamptonshire, N.)||Home, W. E. (Surrey, Guildford)||Royds, Edmund|
|Brassey, Capt. R. B. (Banbury)||Homer, A. L.||Rutherford, Watson|
|Brunskill, G. F.||Hunt, Rowland||Sanders, Robert A.|
|Carlile, E. Hildred||Hunter, Sir C. R. (Bath)||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Cator, John||Jackson, John A. (Whitehaven)||Stanier, Seville|
|Chaloner, Colonel R. W. G.||Kerr-Smiley, Peter||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Chambers, J.||King, Sir Henry Seymour (Hull)||Starkey, John R.|
|Clay, Captain H. Spender||Kirkwood, J. H. M.||Steel-Maitland, A. D.|
|Clive, Percy Archer||Knight, Capt. E. A.||Stewart, Gershom (ches., Wirral)|
|Coates, Major E. F.||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Sykes, Alan John|
|Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Lawson, Hon. Harry||Thompson, Robert|
|Craig, Norman (Kent)||Lewisham, Viscount||Thynne, Lord A.|
|Croft, H. P.||Llewelyn, Major Venables||Tryon, George Clement|
|Dairymple, Viscount||Lloyd, G. A.||Tullibardine, Marquess of|
|Du Cros, Alfred (Tower Hamlets, Bow)||Lockyer-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Wairond, Hon. Lionel|
|Duncannon, Viscount||Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|Eyres-Monsell, B. M.||Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droitwich)||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||MacCaw, William J. MacGeagh||White, Major G. D. (Lanes., Southport)|
|Fitzroy, Hon. E. A.||Mackinder, H. J||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claude|
|Fleming, Valentine||Meysey-Thompson, E. C.||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Gastrell, Major W. H.||Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Gibbs, G. A.||Morpeth, Viscount||Worthington-Evans, L. (Colchester)|
|Gilmour, Captain J.||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Goldman, C. S.||Mount, William Arthur||Younger, George (Ayr Burghs)|
|Goldsmith, Frank||Newdegate, F. A.|
|Gordon, J.||Newman, John R. P.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. H. S. Foster and Viscount Castlereagh.|
|Greene, W. R.||Newton, Harry Kottingham|
|Guinness, Hon. W. E.||Nicholson, Wm. G. (Petersfield)|
|Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)||O'Neill, Hon. A. E. B. (Antrim, Mid)|
§ Main Question put. The House divided: Ayes, 217; Noes, 133.387
|Division No. 20.]||AYES.||[1.20 a.m.|
|Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R.||Buxton, C. R. (Devon, Mid.)||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney C. (Poplar)||Elverston, H.|
|Alden, Percy||Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Esmonde, Sir Thomas|
|Allen, Charles P.||Chapple, W. A.||Falconer, J.|
|Anderson, A.||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Farrell, James Patrick|
|Baker, H. T. (Accrington)||Clancy, John Joseph||Ferens, T. R.|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Clough, William||Ferguson, R. C. Munro|
|Barran, Sir J. (Hawick)||Collins, G. P. (Greenock)||Firench, Peter|
|Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Condon, Thomas Joseph||Flavin, Michael Joseph|
|Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.)||Corbett, A, Cameron (Glasgow)||France, G. A.|
|Barton, A. W.||Cowan, W. H.||Gelder, Sir W. A.|
|Beale, W. P.||Cullinan, J.||Gibbins, F. W.|
|Benn, W. (Tower Hamlets, St. Geo.)||Daiziel, Sir James H. (Kirkcaldy)||Gibson, James P.|
|Bentham, G. J.||Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||Gill, A. H.|
|Boland, John Plus||Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Glover, Thomas|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Dawes, J. A.||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford|
|Boyle, D. (Mayo, N.)||Delany, William||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward|
|Brace, William||Denman, R. D.||Gulland, John W.|
|Brady, P. J.||Devlin, Joseph||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)|
|Brocklehurst, W. B.||Doris, W.||Hackett, J.|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Duffy, William J.||Hall, Frederick (Normanton)|
|Hancock, J. G.||Millar, J. D.||Roche, John (Galway, East)|
|Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis (Roasendale)||Mond, Alfred Moritz||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)||Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)||Samuel, J. (Stockton)|
|Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Muldoon, John||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)|
|Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, W.)||Munro, R.||Scan Ian, Thomas|
|Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N.E.)||Murray, Captain Hon. A. C.||Scott, A. H. (Ashton-under-Lyne)|
|Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||Muspratt, M.||Seddon, J.|
|Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Nannetti, Joseph P.||Seely, Col., Right Hon. J. E. B.|
|Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Neilson, Francis||Shackleton, David James|
|Haworth, Arthur A.||Nolan, Joseph||Sheeny, David|
|Hayden, John Patrick||Nussey, Sir Wilians||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Hayward, Evan||Nuttall, Harry||Smyth, Thomas F. (Lettrim, S.)|
|Hazelton, Richard||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Soares, Ernest J.|
|Healy, Timothy Michael||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Stanley, Albert (Staffs. N.W.)|
|Henry, Charles S.||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Summers. James Woolley|
|Higham, John Sharp||O'Doherty, Philip||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Hindle, F. G.||O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S.)||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.||O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)||Tennant, Harold John|
|Hogan, Michael||O'Dowd, John||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Hooper, A. G.||Ogden, Fred||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Home, C. Silvester (Ipswich)||O'Malley, William||Toulmin, George|
|Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||O'Neill, Charles (Armagh, S.)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Hudson, Walter||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Hughes, S. L.||O'Sullivan, Eugene||Vivian, Henry|
|Hunter, W. (Govan)||Palmer, Godfrey||Wadsworth, J.|
|Illingworth, Percy H.||Parker, James (Halifax)||Walsh, Stephen|
|Johnson, W.||Pearson, Weetman H. M.||Walton, Joseph|
|Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A.||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Pickersgill, Edward Hare||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Jowett, F. W.||Pointer, Joseph||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Joyce, Michael||Pollard, Sir George H.||White, Sir George (Norfolk)|
|Kelly, Edward||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||White, J. Dundas (Dumbartonshire)|
|Kilbride, Denis||Power, Patrick Joseph||White, Sir Luke (York, E.R.)|
|King, J. (Somerset, N.)||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Lambert, George||Primrose, Hon. Neil James||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, W.)||Pringle, William M. R.||Whyte, Alexander F. (Perth)|
|Leach, Charles||Radford, G. H.||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Lewis, John Herbert||Raffan, Peter Wilson||Williams, A. N. (Plymouth)|
|Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David||Rainy, A. Rolland||Williams, P. (Middlesborough)|
|Lundon, T.||Raphael, Herbert H.||Williams, W. Llewelyn (Carmarthen)|
|Lynch, A. A.||Rea, Walter Russell||Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)|
|Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Reddy, M.||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestershire, N.)|
|Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Wilson, T. F. (Lanark, N.E.)|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Pees, J. D.||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|M'Curdy, C. A.||Randall, Athelstan||Winfrey, Richard|
|M'Laren, F. W. S. (Lines., Spalding)||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Wing, Thomas|
|Manfield, Harry||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)||Wood, T. M'Kinnon (Glasgow)|
|Marks, G. Craydon||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)||Young, W. (Perthshire, E.)|
|Martin, J.||Robinson, S.|
|Masterman, C. F. G.||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES—Master of Elibank and Mr. Fuller.|
|Meagher, Michael||Roche, Augustine (Cork)|
|Meehan, Francis E. (Leltrim, N.)|
|Adam, Major W. A.||Clay, Captain H. Spender||Hamilton, Marquess of (Londonderry)|
|Arbuthnot, G. A.||Clive, Percy Archer||Kardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashford)|
|Archer-Shee, Major M.||Coates, Major E. F.||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Heath, Col. A. H.|
|Baird, J. L.||Craig, Norman (Kent)||Helmsley, Viscount|
|Baker, Sir R. L. (Dorset, N.)||Croft, H. P.||Hickmann, Col. T.|
|Balcarres, Lord||Dairympie, Viscount||Hillier, Dr. A. P.|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City, Lend.)||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Hills, J. W.|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Du Cros, Alfred (Tower Hamlets, Bow)||Hoare, S. J. G.|
|Baring, Captain Hon. G.||Duncannon, Viscount||Hohler, G. F.|
|Barnston, H.||Eyres-Monsell, B. M.||Hope, Harry (Bute)|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||Home, W. E. (Surrey, Guildford)|
|Beckett, Hon. W. Gervase||Fitzroy, Hon. E. A.||Horner, A. L.|
|Benn, I. H. (Greenwich)||Fleming, Valentine||Hunt, Rowland|
|Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish||Foster, H. S. (Suffolk, N.)||Hunter, Sir C. R. (Bath)|
|Bird, A.||Gastrell, Major W. H.||Jackson, John A. (Whitehaven)|
|Boyle, W. L. (Norfolk, Mid)||Gibbs, G. A.||Kerr-Smiley, Peter|
|Brackenbury, H. L.||Gilmour, Captain J.||King, Sir Henry Seymour (Hull)|
|Brassey, H. L. C. (N'thamptonshire, N.)||Goldman, C. S.||Kirkwood, Capt. J. H. M.|
|Brassey, Capt. R. B. (Banbury)||Goldsmith, Frank||Knight, Capt. E. A.|
|Brunskill, G. F.||Gordon, J.||Lane-Fox, G. R.|
|Carille, E. Hildred||Greene, W. R.||Lawson, Hon. Harry|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Guinness, Hon. W. E.||Lewisham, Viscount|
|Cator, John||Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)||Llewelyn, Major Venables|
|Chaloner, Colonel R. G. W.||Hall, D. B. (Isle of Weight)||Lloyd, G. A.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worc'r.)||Hambro, Angus Valdemar||Lockyer-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)|
|Chambers, J.||Hamorsley, A. St. George||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Cal.-A. R.|
|Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)||Peto, Basil Edward||Thompson, Robert|
|Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droitwich)||Pollock, Ernest Murray||Thynne, Lord A.|
|MacCaw, William J. MacGeagh||Proby, Colonel Douglas James||Tryon, George Clement|
|Mackinder, H. J.||Ratcliff, Major R. F.||Tulliuardine, Marquess of|
|Macmaster, Donald||Rawson, Colonel R. H.||Walrond, Hon. Lionel|
|Meysey-Thompson, E. C.||Rice, Hon. W.||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas||Rolleston, Sir John||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Morpeth, Viscount||Ronaldshay, Earl of||White, Major G. O. (Lanes., Southport)|
|Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.||Rothschild, Lionel de||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claude|
|Mount, William Arthur||Rutherford, Watson||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Newdegate, F. A||Sanders, Robert A.||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Newman, John R. P.||Scott, Sir S (Marylebone, W.)||Worthington-Evans, L. (Colchester)|
|Newton, Harry Kottingham||Stanier, Seville||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Nicholson, Wm. G. (Petersfield)||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|O'Neil', Hon. A. E. B. (Antrim, Mid)||Starkey, John R.||Younger, Gorge (Ayr Burghs)|
|Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.||Steel-Maitland, A. D.|
|Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Stewart, Gersham (Cheshire, Wirral)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Sir Acland-Hood and Viscount Valentia|
|Peel, Capt. R. F. (Woodbridge)||Sykes, Alan John|
|Perkins, Walter F.|
§ Adjournment.—Resolved "That this House do now adjourn."—[Master of Elibank.]
§ Adjourned accordingly at 1.30 a.m. (Wednesday, 6th April).