§ Postponed Proceeding resumed upon Question, "That up to and including 13th April, Government Business shall have precedence at every sitting."—[The Prime Minister.]
§ Question again proposed.
§ Mr. JOHN WARD
When the Debate was interrupted for the purpose of taking Private Business, I was attempting to reply to the noble Lord opposite (Lord Hugh Cecil), who had asked what it was the Labour Members anticipated they would be able to secure for the objects which their presence serves in this Chamber by 1356 favouring the rapid passage of the Government proposals, as far as they relate to the other House. I was attempting to explain that we are not concerned with the position of the two parties in reference to this controversy, except in so far as it contains within itself many objects which are dear to us, and which we on these benches especially represent. There is the question of the unemployed, and a hundred and one other matters that we want dealt with; and we are supporting this Motion in order that the constitutional question may be removed from the path of these measures as quickly as possible. It may be urged that there is no proof that these matters might not be dealt with even without the passing of the Parliament Bill, for which, I understand, this Motion is particularly made. But painful experience in the past has shown us that whenever 1357 measures for the benefit of the working people, or to increase the opportunities and powers of the labouring portion of the community is under discussion in the other Chamber—as at present constituted—that most measures, even in their initiation in this House, suffer considerable mutilation, from the mere fact that they have to be prepared with a view to the possible opposition and prejudices at the other end of the building. In addition there is their possible destruction. We hope and believe that in this measure, the proposal before the House to expedite the business, to take the time that is usually at the disposal of the private Member, for the purpose of dealing with what is considered to be the first proposal of the present Executive, that by supporting the Government we are assisting to clear obstacles away from the measures that we are particularly interested in.
There are other reasons why it is not necessary that there should be a lengthy discussion over this constitutional question. The Parliament Bill, after all, is not a Bill of detail. The constitutional question is merely a declaration of constitutional principle. You either object to it, or you do not. The time the Government has set down for the business is only sufficient for the purpose they have in view. We quite admit that the Government must allow the time. If it was suggested that under the Motions that are now being made there is not time for full discussion, taking into account especially the discussions that have taken place on this subject before, then there would be something to be said for it. We want the Government to understand that when they take the time of the private Member that they have to use that time. If there are any qualms of conscience either in the case of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Bethnal Green, or any hesitation as to supporting this resolution by hon. Gentlemen on this side, it is largely because of what happened last year. Last year, when we agreed that the Government should take the time of the House, it was on the understanding that they used that time for the purpose which they demanded it. But it is an undeniable fact that after the time of the House had been taken for the special business of the Government, that night after night we retired at half-past four, five o'clock, six o'clock, and so wasted valuable time that ought to have been used—it seemed to many of us—for the many important matters that were upon the Government 1358 list, and many proposals that private Members were interested in ought certainly to have been taken, and the only thing that any of us have the slightest objection to, or any qualms of conscience about, in supporting this Motion is the fear that when the time is taken we may find ourselves unemployed for half the time, as we did on the last occasion.
If we could have some statement that if the time taken is not used for the purposes of the Government, that other matters of importance shall be allowed to be brought forward, I do not think there would be a great deal of objection to the proposal on this side of the House. It is essential, unquestionably, that the private Member should defend his interests to the best of his ability, and for that reason I am extremely sorry for the decision arrived at earlier in the day. I confess, as a new Member, that the hour at question time is, to my mind, one of the most interesting to Members of this House, though I dare say it is the most irksome to the Government. I expect that when one sits upon the Treasury Bench he thinks the heckler, and especially the Supplementary questioner, is most obnoxious to the chief of a Government Department; but so far as the ordinary private Member is concerned—and the condition of the House during question time shows it—the hour or three-quarters of an hour given to question time is of the most intense interest, and I think we would forego a lot to have that time extended, if only for a few minutes longer every day. I make that suggestion. So far as I am concerned, I intend to give the Government my assistance, or any assistance I can, towards the passing of this Motion, and chiefly because I believe the opposition, so far, to be unreal and not genuine. And for this reason. One of the most important opponents to this Motion to-day was the hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury). He deplored the loss of opportunity to the private Member; yet everybody knows that when we get a Friday, or a Tuesday, or a Wednesday to discuss any private Member's question, and if we get a Bill down with a prospect of being enabled to send it to a Committee upstairs, the hon. Baronet night after night absolutely destroys every opportunity for private Members, and deprives all his fellow Members of every opportunity of bringing before the House matters in which they are interested. For the hon. Baronet to deplore the loss of opportunity to the 1359 private Member of taking pant in the business of the House shows the utter hypocrisy of the whole opposition. That is the reason I intend to support the Government.
§ 11.0 P.M.
Mr STANLEY WILSON
I assure the Member that our opposition to this Resolution is very real. I have listened to speech after speech from hon. Members opposite, and they have damned the Resolution with feint praise. If many hon. Members opposite were allowed to give an honest vote on this occasion I believe they would vote with us—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] Many of them have freely acknowledged it, and one hon. Member opposite has been courageous enough to say that he intends to express his opinion in the Division Lobby against the Government. The Prime Minister told us a very plausible tale about the vital urgency of the Government business. I have been ten years in this House, and during that time I have always found that Governments always have business of urgent and vital importance. This Resolution, however, is a new and a dangerous precedent, because the opportunities of private Members are growing smaller by degrees and beautifully less. What is going to be the end of it all? In the future are we to be deprived of every opportunity private Members have had up to the present moment? What is going to happen to the time of private Members after Easter? We have no guarantee that the Government will not take private Members' time after Easter. The Government during their five years of office have done more to destroy the opportunities of private Members in this House than has ever been done before in its history. Previous to 1906, when we had a Unionist Administration upon those benches, I remember well how the slightest interference with the rights of private Members caused a storm of indignation from hon. Members opposite, some of whom are occupying the Treasury Bench at the present moment. And yet those same hon. Members who are now sitting behind the Government benches will meekly follow the Government into the Division Lobby without a solitary word of protest against this Resolution.
There sits the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir Henry Dalziel), who in this House has fought harder in the interests of private Members than any other hon. Member in this Assembly. Why is 1360 it that upon this occasion up to the present moment his voice has been silent? Is it that he is satisfied with the present situation, or is it that that small honour which has been given him by the present Government has closed his mouth? [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!"] Perhaps the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy's name is upon that Scotch list of which we have heard so much, and in the near future he may become one of those gallant five hundred who are going to sacrifice themselves to destroy the Constitution in order to save their country. I cannot understand what are the reasons of the Government for this extraordinary haste. There is no necessity for any hurrying in this matter. After all, the present Constitution has lasted for many hundreds of years, and why should it not be allowed to last a few weeks longer? The Prime Minister has given us his reason, which is that he wishes to have the decision of the House of Lords before the Coronation. Can anyone think that that is a suitable date? It is in my opinion the most unsuitable date anyone could possibly ask for. A great event is to take place in the history of our country, and it is to take place while we are in the midst of one of the greatest constitutional crises that this country has ever had to face. No, it will not be over, I can assure you. At that moment we shall have representatives from all the principal Powers in the world. I venture to say, if the Government proceed with their present intentions, they will make themselves the laughing-stock of every other country. We on these benches have every reason to feel intensly dissatisfied with this Resolution, for this reason: Some of my colleagues on these benches happen to have been rather fortunate in the ballot for Private Members' Bills, but they are going to be deprived of their good fortune by this Resolution. With regard to the Labour party, I will say this: I think, if they had been equally fortunate in the ballot, and instead of having drawn somewhere about the No. 35, they had drawn first or second place, they would have been pressing the Government and saying, "Give us facilities for our measure." I quite agree they generally get from this Government whatever they want.
I have been seriously considering, since I came into this House this afternoon, what are the real reasons of the Government in depriving private Members of their privileges, and I believe I have really discovered it. Nobody else has mentioned it in this Debate. I cannot help thinking 1361 that it is that the Prime Minister is frightened of the women. The suffragettes are the reason of this Resolution. The Prime Minister, in one of his weakest moments, at the end of the last Parliament, gave his pledge that the Bill that is known as the Conciliation Bill should be given facilities during the present Session of Parliament. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I am exceedingly glad if it is not so, but I have always understood that all these ladies are saying at the present time they expect him to fulfil the pledge he has given. Therefore, he sees the only way of getting out of his difficulty is not to allow this measure to come on as a Private Members' Bill. That is the only reason I can see why the right hon. Gentleman is depriving us of our rights. With regard to my hon. Friends from Ireland, we know why they take no part in this complaint, and why they will not press the Government. They have received the Prime Minister's pledge that they are going to get Home Rule, and that satisfies them. They care no more what is going to happen in this Assembly. In two years these hon. Gentlemen hope to shake the dust of Westminster from off their feet. Otherwise, I venture to say they would be using the great influence, which they know better how to wield than anybody else in this country, upon the Government, to endeavour to make them allow private Members some opportunities of discussion. I am not one of those who make perorations in this House, but I will finish my speech by saying that I protest again most strongly against this gross interference with the liberties of private Members.
Sir HENRY DALZIEL
I have been complimented on the small services I have endeavoured to render to Parliament in the interest of private Members. It is true that in days gone by I did move an Amendment to the Motion submitted by the Government of the day protesting against the invasion of the rights of private Members, and at a still later period I also, with some of my colleagues, opposed the proposals of the Conservatives on the same ground. The hon. Gentleman who last spoke did me the honour to listen to me on those occasions. But did he give me any support? No. The hon. Member has just been performing the function which is really the only function private Members can now perform, and it comes with ill grace from hon. Gentlemen opposite when they condemn 1362 those of us to-night who propose to give their votes in favour of the Government proposals. Had private Members on both sides of the House, irrespective of party, united together and brought their powerful influence to bear on the Government of the day when the first great invasion was made on private Members' rights, we should have had no such proposal as is before the House to-night. What are the facts of the case? Both Front Benches are guilty of the most utter inconsistency with regard to this matter. Almost all the hon. and right hon. Gentlemen in the House have been guilty of that inconsistency. Is it not the case that it is really now a question of party how we vote with regard to these proposals? The Debate to-night has followed on the old lines; there has really been nothing new in it. We have complained of the taking of private Members' time. We have had the invariable list of quotations of speeches of right hon. Gentlemen as to the circumstances under which they made the Motion, and the reply thereto. But all that I regard as absolutely uninteresting from the point of view of useful and productive Debate. The position now is altogether different.
The only thing that is new with regard to this proposal of the Government is that it finally marks the death of the private Member as an independent force in this House. There is not much that is new in the character of the proposals, except that they are put forward at an earlier period of the Session than has hitherto been the case. Some of my hon. Friends console themselves with the idea that this is a special occasion which justifies them in voting for the proposal of the Government, and that therefore it does not establish a precedent. That position cannot be defended by reasonable men. This Motion, of course, is important, and of rather an exceptional character. We are returned to this House to support the passage of the Parliament Bill, and we are willing to make great sacrifices in order to do it, especially as some of us believe that by means of it a door will be opened for greater usefulness and greater opportunities for useful and successful democratic legislation. But do not let us vote in this Division in the belief that this is an exceptional occasion, because this is an important Bill. Next year I understand a Home Rule Bill is to be the first measure of the Government. Is that less important? If the Prime Minister comes down and asks for the time of the House at the period he 1363 is asking for it at present, will he not have a strong case when he is able to appeal to this precedent in support of that proposal? The whole thing turns upon the desire of the Government to pass legislation of an important character. If the right hon. Gentleman comes and asks for the time of the House at the same date of course he will get it. The same thing applies to the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham, the ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer. He gave private Members small comfort this afternoon, for he said, "You may object to this Resolution, but if you vote for it I warn you when I come into office I shall pursue exactly the same policy."
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
The hon. Gentleman did not exactly repeat what I said. It was, that I made an appeal to private Members sitting below the gangway or sitting here or there and that if they rejected that appeal and voted for this Motion they would be out of court when they were in a minority and pleaded for any privileges for private Members.
Sir HENRY DALZIEL
I do not think that I have incorrectly interpreted what the right hon. Gentleman says. He says they will be out of court. I do not understand that the ex-Chancellor of the Exchequer out of the kindness of his heart is going to increase the privileges of private Members and therefore I think it is a reasonable conclusion that the right hon. Gentleman indicated that when he came into office we need not expect any more consideration than the Prime Minister was giving us at the present time.
Sir HENRY DALZIEL
Well, private Members do not get anything they are not entitled to. What I wish to draw the attention of the right hon. Gentleman to is this, that this is really a question of what the idea and intention of the Government of the day is when they are going to take away the privileges of private Members. Therefore, it is not a question of the actual Bill. I can imagine a situation when the right hon. Gentleman would take away the time of the House for the first great and important Bill of a Unionist Administration. I presume it would be Tariff Reform. Suppose it was, he would be perfectly justified in asking for the time of the House from his point 1364 of view, because it was an urgent matter of public importance, and he would have a majority from the country in favour of it. There is, of course, the possible alternative that it might be a Referendum Bill, but it would be an important measure. I wonder how the noble Lord is going to plead for the rights of those who oppose Tariff Reform? The situations is this—that we have the same arguments brought forward in all these Debates. I speak my own impression, and it is that this Assembly as a debating assembly is greatly deteriorating, and that the possibility of independent work by ordinary Members is almost entirely done away with. We never hear now the impromptu Debates that we used to have fifteen or twenty years ago. Now Ministers have their private secretaries on the alert to tell them to come in when they are ready with their perorations, and so forth, and they are called according to custom at the very moment at which they like to take part in the Debate, and it is impossible, owing to pressure of circumstances, that every Member of this House can have what is regarded as a proper opportunity of taking part in the Debate. That is due to many causes. It is due, for example, to the extension of the franchise. A large number of people since 1885 have been induced to take an increasing part in our public affairs. It is due to the promises which have been made by candidates, and by leaders of various political parties. It is due also to the fact that there is a vast accumulation of arrears of legislation. All these circumstances point to the fact that this machine is overburdened, and that we are trying to do something which it is impossible for the machine to do. Therefore, we have to look in other directions than mere closure for the opportunity of putting the matter upon a business-like basis.
I regard this proposal of the Government as setting a precedent which will undoubtedly be followed. Therefore, I think we may say good-bye to our two evenings a week, and to our one day a week for private Bills. But it is the case that during recent years the opportunities which we have had for carrying private Bills have really not been very successful. I cannot recall at the moment any private Member's Bill of a really contentious character which has ever been passed through the House and been subsequently passed into law. [An HON. MEMBER: "Free Meals in Schools."] The usefulness of that Bill was practically taken away in another 1365 place. The only effect which the discussion of private Members' Bills or Motions has had in the past has been of an educational character, and I am by no means disposed to minimise its importance. The Eight Hours Bill, for instance, was due to the industry and enterprise of Labour Members. It was discussed year after year until they got a majority and subsequently it was passed into law by the aid of the Government.
I think the opportunities which we have for free discussion can still be utilised for purposes of an educational character, but owing to the rules which have been made, owing to the condition under which our Debates are now conducted, it is almost impossible to carry any Bill of great importance unless it is starred by the Government. We have still the opportunity at question time of cross-examining Ministers, and I hope the great privilege will be maintained because it is an opportunity of getting information which would not otherwise be obtained. It seems to me that the only proper way to deal with the situation as it is, is, as far as possible, to appoint more Grand Committees, to carry out devolution so that many great questions which come before the House may be dealt with locally. So far as this particular Motion is concerned, it is one which any hon. Member who is a supporter of the Parliament Bill, in my opinion, is fully justified in supporting. I consider that we can pass no Bill till that Bill has been passed into law, and the country today is looking to the Government to pass it into law, and they will support the Government in every way until it takes its place on the Statute Book of the realm.
§ Mr. CROFT
There has been, I observe, a marvellous inconsistency in all the speeches of hon. Gentlemen opposite who have been criticising the Government, but the hon. Gentleman (Sir H. Dalziel) has beaten all his colleagues. Even the hon. Member (Mr. J. Ward), who has a braver appearance than some of his friends, started by making us all hope he was going to vote as his convictions took him. Although the hon. Member (Mr. Wedgwood) and his colleagues began bravely, their tails gradually got lower, and, in view of the coronets we have heard so much about, in duty to the Government, they associated themselves with this muzzling order, confessing, apparently, that Members of this Assembly were suffering from hydrophobia. I think 1366 nobody can deny that the Government on this occasion are establishing a precedent which, as the hon. Member opposite said, it will be very difficult to depart from. The point in this Debate which seems to me to be the most important is the idea that the Parliament Bill must be rushed through before the Coronation. That seems to me to be the most futile advice that could possibly be offered when you consider that the Government, with the support of a majority of the electors in the United Kingdom propose to make these fundamental and revolutionary changes without consulting in any manner whatever the 400,000,000 citizens of the British Empire. I think that is a very good reason why we should wait until after the Colonial Conference before this question is put forward. Hon. Gentlemen opposite say that the position is different on this occasion, and that private Members' time must be taken. They say that the election was fought on the veto issue only. It is absurd to claim that the last election gave the Government so many mandates. Only last night we were told that Home Rule was the issue, and a few days before we were told our fiscal policy was the issue. Everybody knows that the veto proposal is only a sham, and that it is brought forward to please their Irish colleagues and Members below the Gangway. Everybody knows that they cannot possibly pass the Bill. Everybody knows that even if the Bill ever gets through this House, which is very improbable, it is doubtful if it will pass in another place. If it does not pass in another place, I am not sure that you can get 500 Liberals who will be ready to sell their self-respect in order to form a majority there. I think there can be very little excuse for this tied-house business which the Government has established in our proceedings. It practically comes to this, that the Government will introduce any question which they think popular, but that they cannot allow any private Member to introduce any question which is unpopular so far as they are concerned. I think this is absolutely disastrous to the future of this House. Hon. Members come here with a message from their Constituents, and they are not allowed to deliver it until it suits the Government. The Labour party are always ready to come to heel on these questions. When you get into the Lobby and talk quietly with them you will find that they are tired of the whole proceedings. 1367 It is suggested that this precedent will not be followed except on very rare occasions, but I venture to think that if by any chance the proposals for the reform of the Constitution were passed, the position of private Members in this House will become an absolute farce. The Prime Minister and his colleagues would then become dictators.
I think the Government should reconsider their position in regard to this Motion. The House of Commons is being reduced to a machine controlled by the Prime Minister. That that is a very bad position for the House to be in will, I think, be confessed by every Member. Last night we heard from the Chief Secretary for Ireland—the statement was not very flattering to himself—that practically nothing had been done for Ireland in recent years. Who is responsible for that, if not the Prime Minister, who has prevented private Members from Ireland bringing in their proposals in the last Parliament and in this? It is the same with the Scotch Members. I venture to think if only private Members had a proper opportunity of airing the grievances of the people in the places from which they come there would be none of this mad calling for devolution among those either from Scotland or Ireland. There are very many great constructive questions which many private Members desire to bring before this House, but which it is absolutely impossible to do—questions of great interest to many of us on these benches, which we would like to hear the Labour party introduce; questions with regard to Poor Law, which we on this side want to introduce; questions of Poor Law reform; charges with regard to Imperial matters, and some form or other of colonial representation in this country. All these questions are crowded out, and we have to sit still and watch the destructive methods of His Majesty's Government Front Bench
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. Churchill)
I think that the House is now approaching the moment when it would wish to bring this general discussion to a close. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I hope that such may be the disposition which upon reflection will find favour with hon. Gentlemen opposite. I have listened to the whole of this discussion, and though we have had a long succession of short but excellent speeches, I venture to submit to the House 1368 that no serious attempt has been made to rebut the matter-of-fact statements, arguments, and circumstances which were adduced by the Prime Minister in making his Motion in justification of the special request which the Government now feel it their duty to submit to the House. I do not agree with what my hon. Friend the Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir H. Dalziel) has said, that this proposal made to-night will be a precedent, and become a rule in future years. I do not believe that that is the case at all. If it should become the rule the fault will be with the private Members, who at any time have the power to correct a practice which, if it became general and consistent, would be very undesirable. [HON. MEMBERS: "How?"] By the simple process of voting. I quite agree with what the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy has said as to the fact that undoubtedly the march of intellect and the ever-widening distribution of the gift of the tongue do impose certain difficulties upon individual members in all the great legislative assemblies all over the world which are charged with the transaction of important business. And we on this bench agree most fully with him when he pointed to the truest remedy for such difficulties in a system of delegation to Grand Committees and devolution to local and national bodies. It is a fallacy to dwell so strongly as hon. Gentlemen opposite have done upon what is called the undue power and dictation of the Cabinet over the House of Commons. The Cabinet is the creature of the House of Commons. It springs from the House of Commons and dwells in the House of Commons. It is checked and corrected by the House of Commons, and by the shrug of the shoulder of the Private Members of the House the Cabinet can be scattered.
The fact that the catastrophe does not occur is not due to machinery for flouting and dragooning the House placed at the disposal of the Prime Minister, it is due to the fact, which all who look to the form and reality must see that his Majesty's Ministers defer to the opinions and wishes of Members by the process of intelligent anticipation. Much of the apparent strength and force of the Cabinet in the House of Commons, and among Members of the Government, is due to the fact that the proposals which they put forward are proposals which it has been ascertained beforehand will conform to the general wishes of the majority of the House, and which are in themselves the recognition of the influence and power of private Members 1369 of the House and of the Constituencies which are increasingly in touch with their Members. But if ever there was a question on which the private Members have a right to say that they have been consulted it is upon this question of the Parliament Bill, for the sake of which this serious sacrifice is demanded of them. There never was a Bill which was more effectively the child and product of the House of Commons. Why, three Parliaments in succession have approved the principle of this measure, and it has grown from the beginnings of Resolutions in this House steadily into strength and into definite outline under the constant pressure and shaping of Parliamentary opinion in the House of Commons. Three Parliaments have affirmed the principle of this measure. Two general elections have been fought at which it has been the principal issue. And the last general election was fought on the specific measure which will on Tuesday next be presented to the House of Commons by the Prime Minister.
The right hon. Member for the Hallam Division of Sheffield (Mr. Stuart-Wortley) taunted the Government with not daring to submit any of their measures to the electorate. This measure has not merely been affirmed by the electorate in the ordinary process of a general election, it is a measure which, over and above the ordinary affirmation which our Constitution provides, has virtually been confirmed by a special referendum. With such a measure and in such circumstances, there must be no delay. The right hon. Member for East Worcestershire (Mr. Austen Chamberlain) said the Government sought to produce a crisis upon the eve of the Coronation. We seek to produce no crisis. According to all the traditions of Constitutional practice there can be no crisis. After the passing of such a measure, when it has been formally and definitely submitted to the electorate, it is inconceivable that the House of Lords, judging it by every tradition which even that body has observed in former times, should dare to stand between it and the fiat of the people. If there be that crisis we shall not be responsible for it, and it will not be upon us the consequences of the crisis will fall. We have the earnest wish that this Constitutional strife and deadlock which has occupied and delayed us for the last two years may be resolved and settled before the Coronation of His Majesty the King. It is not that we imagine that the Colonies, when they 1370 send their representatives over here would be shocked to find the democracy of this country engaged in limiting the veto of the hereditary Chamber. Their nerves are quite capable of withstanding that.
Our desire, if it can possibly be achieved, is that this period of strife and bitterness and confusion and arrest of progress and development in which we have been struggling for the last two years shall be brought to a close before the period of National rejoicing and Imperial Unity. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Is the Coronation not a period of National rejoicing, and is not the gathering of the representatives of the Colonies a period of Imperial Unity? And is it not desirable to remove from that arena the Parliament Bill which the noble Lord refers to as the occasion of struggle, and to have this conflict upon which we have been engaged resolved before that period? The noble Lord (Lord Hugh Cecil), who made a speech of singular moderation and characteristic excellence, before dinner, upon this subject, said that the House of Commons must remain the home and citadel of free Government. Yes, Sir, that is a very important thing for the House of Commons to be; but there is a more important thing still, and that is that it should remain the centre of real events. The congestion of Parliament is a disease, but the futility of Parliament is a mortal disease. And, Sir, if the rights of private Members are important the rights of the people of the United Kingdom are also important. It is in the name of the people of the United Kingdom that the Government have brought forward their Motion, and it is in the name of those rights, insulted as they have been, that the supporters of the Government in the House of Commons, who for the third time constitute a majority, will unhesitatingly support the Administration.
§ Viscount HELMSLEY
I beg to move to leave out the words "13th April, Government Business" ["up to and including 13th April, Government Business shall have precedence"] and to insert instead thereof the words, "31st March, the financial Business which is required by law to be completed before the end of the financial year."
Certainly I think it is rather an interesting experience for the House to see the right hon. Gentleman, who, perhaps I may say, is an ex-filibuster in Parliament, and I say, I hope quite unoffensively, trying to defend such a Motion as this for taking 1371 away the time of private Members. Indeed, I was unable to find in the course of the remarks which he has just delivered any defence whatever for the Motion which the Prime Minister has put forward. In fact the right hon. Gentleman did nothing whatever but beg the whole question. He made a powerful speech in favour of the Parliament Bill, but I take it that that is not the question immediately before the House. It seems to me that whether we are in favour of the Parliament Bill or against it has really very little concern with the question as to whether you should take away the time of private Members. After all, nobody has shown during the course of the Debate that the passage of the Parliament Bill will be in any way jeopardised if it is not taken. That is really the whole point. I confess if the passage of the Parliament Bill was to be jeopardised I should be only too delighted, and I think all hon. Members on this side of the House would agree with that proposition. At the same time we shall have opportunities, which I hope will not be unduly curtailed, of discussing that question later, but nobody has shown that it will be jeopardised if this Motion of the Prime Minister's was not acceded to.
After all, do hon. Members opposite really mean to suggest that the passage of that Bill would be jeopardised if the twelve days which this Motion will take were still devoted to private Members' business? It could not delay the Bill for more than a fortnight at most. If the Government's anticipations as to passing the Bill before the Coronation are so accurately calculated that a fortnight would falsify them, they must be basing them upon very slender grounds, and under ordinary circumstances they are very likely to be upset. There could not be a more inappropriate time for this Bill to go up to another place than immediately before the Coronation. I think the Government are exercising in this matter a little "intelligent anticipation" in the expectation that the Lords will refuse to pass the Bill, and that then they will be able to denounce another place throughout the country at the time of the Coronation for refusing the olive-branch which the Government had been kind enough to tender to them. It is well to be armed beforehand. We know practically from the mouth of the Home Secretary himself that the object of the Government is to precipitate a Constitutional 1372 crisis a few days before the Coronation. Why? In order that any odium that may attach to the bellicose condition of politics at that time may be put by the right hon. Gentleman and his friends, upon the House of Lords, so that thereby they may inflame in the country the feeling which they think is not sufficiently inflamed already, and which would by then have been still further allayed by the moderating influence of time. What further object is there why this Motion should be acceded to by private Members? For my part, I can see none. I am bitterly disappointed that the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy, of all men, is bowing the neck to the yoke at last, and is going into the lobby with the Government. The condition of private Members is parlous indeed if he is going to betray and desert the cause.
§ Viscount HELMSLEY
The hon. Member is speaking rather outside the mark, because, from the circumstance that I entered Parliament only in 1906 in opposition, I have never had the opportunity of following him in the way he suggests. I do not wish to traverse the ground which has already been covered as to the effect that this proposal will have upon private Members' rights. It will undoubtedly be quoted as a precedent in years to come, and probably very shortly. Only yesterday we had the Prime Minister quoting, with considerable satisfaction to himself, his own precedent of last year, a precedent against which we protested very strongly at the time. There is no doubt that this will be quoted in a very short time as a precedent to be followed. You have only got to look at the gradual encroachment of the Closure Resolutions upon this House to see how they progress from comparatively simple and extraordinary methods of dealing with extraordinary occasions to be the normal procedure of our Parliamentary life. First of all you have the closure. When it was introduced to cope with Parliamentary circumstances that had arisen in connection with hon. Members for Ireland below the Gangway it was resented as a new engine of tremendous magnitude and as curtailing the freedom of Debate in an unprecedented fashion. The closure was found to be defective. It developed into the guillotine. The right hon. Gentleman, the Leader of the Opposition, introduced 1373 the guillotine when, after the Education Bill had been discussed for, I believe, 18 days in Committee, it was found absolutely necessary in order to put an end to the obstruction of hon. Members opposite.
The guillotine was advanced and sharpened as an engine of Executive power, until it has now become almost a practice in this House with any Government Bill of great importance that the Guillotine Motion precedes the Committee stage of the Bill—very often it precedes the Second Reading stage. Therefore the process of events, in gradually stiffening up the power of the Executive against the Members of the House of Commons, is an example of which we should beware with regard to this taking the time of the private Members. We feel quite certain that if private Members do not rebel very soon against this dealing of the Executive they will soon find that their time has been taken from them altogether. An hon. Gentleman who addressed the House hinted that we were neither a patriotic nor a public-spirited Opposition. That was an unworthy charge, and one that the Opposition has in no way deserved. I am going to try to give effect to my views by moving an Amendment. The Prime Minister has told us that he requires twenty Parliamentary days out of the twenty-seven and a half that there are before 31st March to deal with the necessary financial business of the year. He allocated thirteen and a half days to the Supplementary Estimates, and to get Mr. Speaker out of the Chair on the Army and Navy Votes (Votes A and 1); the Civil Service Vote; Report on the Votes granted to Committee; and the Consolidated Fund Bill; a day for the general discussion on the Army and Navy Votes; and six and a half days for the Finance Bill
It is entirely the fault of the Government if these six and a half days are required for the Finance Bill. They could perfectly well have carried all these proposals last year had they chosen to do so. Still, there it is: these twenty days are undoubtedly required to carry out the necessary business which must be completed before 31st March. Now, if only these days were taken, that would leave seven and a half days, or their equivalent, for private Members. Hon. Members will see that my Amendment is all that is necessary to meet the situation. All who followed the points of the Prime Minister's arguments will see that my Amendment 1374 gives him all the time he wants. It takes away the time which I suppose the Prime Minister intends to devote to the Parliament Bill. Does the Prime Minister mean to tell us that the Parliament Bill cannot wait those seven and a half days, and that it would not have just as good a chance—I am sorry to say—of passing through this House after 31st March as before? In the main then private Members will have retained their rights or some remnant of their rights, and they will have retrieved some small portion of the situation. I hope that hon. Members like the hon. Member for Scarborough (Mr. W. R. Rea) and other hon. Members, seeing how they deplore this inroad upon private Members' time, will support me in this Amendment.
§ Viscount CASTLEREAGH
I desire to second the Amendment moved by my Noble Friend, and I hope the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister will give some consideration to the matter. The Home Secretary, in the speech he made a few moments ago, falling into the habit the Government has always adopted of legislation by reference, endeavoured to make his speech by reference. He told us that the Prime Minister, in a very straightforward, concise and eloquent manner, had given adequate reason for the course he has taken to-day. I do not think anyone in the House will agree that the Prime Minister has given any reason at all for the unjustifiable course of taking away the time of private Members. The right hon. Gentleman, in the course of his speech, seemed to anticipate the speech he intends to make on Tuesday on the Parliament Bill. He told us that this was the mandate the electors gave when they returned the Government. We heard an entirely different story yesterday when we were led to understand the electors had given their decision in regard to Home Rule for Ireland. No doubt in the course of the Debates in the next few days we shall hear that the electors returned the party opposite upon a great many other questions of which at present we do not know anything.
With regard to the question of the private Members' rights I think there ought to be a bond of union—somewhat of a Trades Union—among private Members of the House, against the Members of the Government. We have been told by the right hon. Gentleman that a shrug of the shoulders from one Member would make the Government 1375 pause in their headlong career. Is it not possible for all hon. Members, who in their speeches to-night have told us that they are very jealous indeed of the rights of private Members, to shrug in unison, and to go together into the Lobby against the Government. What would be the result of their action? We have heard from various speakers that this would amount to a vote of censure upon the Government. I am prepared to ask the question, would the Government resign? I venture to think they would be pre pared to sit upon the Treasury Bench as long as they possibly could. If the gentle shrug of the shoulder has the desired effect, then the Amendment ought to receive the approbation of the Prime Minister. We have heard various speeches to-night from hon. Members opposite. The hon. Member for Stoke (Mr. John Ward) made no secret of it that he adopts an entirely different view. He said that although he is going to support this drastic proposal moved by the Prime Minister, if he were in opposition and the Unionist party were in power he would use all his arts of eloquence to support the rights of private Members. I think that is a very curious position to take up. The hon. Member for Stoke further stated that he would not mind seeing the Parliament Bill go through the House of Commons in three days. In view of the vitiated and curtailed discussion we are likely to get on the Parliament Bill I venture to think that it would be as well to pass it in three or four days. The Prime Minister, in some of those pellucid phrases for which he is famous, has spoken of the normal position made for private Members and their rights, but I do not know how much value we can attach to those sentences of the right hon. Gentleman. Even during the short time I have been in the House of Commons I have had the opportunity of seeing the effect the closure has had. When the Prime Minister came into office he swallowed the closure like an insidious drug, and he is going on now from one stage of the closure to another until it is perfectly obvious, by the action which the right hon. Gentleman has taken, that he has spoiled altogether Debate in this House, and if the Prime Minister remains on the Treasury Bench much longer there will be no discussion whatever eventually 1376 in this House on any important measure brought before it. It is because the rights of private Members are gradually slipping away from them, and because hon. Members opposite are deliberately allowing those rights to be taken away from them that I desire to second this Amendment.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
With regard to the speech of the Noble Lord who has just addressed the House, I have certainly nothing to complain of either in the tone or the substance of his arguments. It is true that he has drawn a rather alarming picture of a possible future combination among private Members on both sides of the House. I understand the Noble Lord contemplates a state of things under which private Members will form a new kind of Trade Union, which, by a judicious process of reciprocal and consolidated shrugging, they will replace those at present sitting on these benches. Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to change places with the Noble Lord, and to see him supported by his body of fellow shruggers carrying on the business of the country under those conditions. I may not live to see that day, but if I do I shall be an interested and sympathetic spectator. But that is not actually the question before us. The question is whether the Resolution which I have proposed should or should not be confined to the necessary financial business. Earlier in the evening the Noble Lord the Member for the University of Oxford (Lord Hugh Cecil) paid me the compliment of quoting a rather long passage from a speech of mine made in the month of March, 1905. I confess that I do not remember that speech, but I listened to it with great satisfaction, and I may say that that speech expressed in adequate and appropriate terms the sentiments which I have always entertained, and which I entertain just as strongly to-day as I did then I spoke of the importance of the freedom of discussion. What was the Question to which I was addressing myself? What was the proposal in regard to which that language was used? I call attention to it because it is relevant to the Amendment. It was during the month of March, and I find, when I refresh my memory by reference to this speech, that the Army Estimates for the year had been circulated on the preceding morning. The then Leader of the House and the now Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Balfour) proposed, the Estimates having been circulated the day before, that after three and a half hours' 1377 discussion the Motion that "Mr. Speaker do leave the Chair" was to be put; that after another three and a half hours' discussion every question necessary to dispose of Vote A and Vote I in Committee was to be summarily got rid of; and that after a further two hours' discussion the Report of the Resolutions of those two Votes was to be taken.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
Will the right hon. Gentleman complete the story of my right hon. Friend's proposal?
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I will very gladly complete it if the right hon. Gentleman wishes it. It included the Navy Estimates, the Vote on Account, and it included the Consolidated Fund Bill. They were all to be brought in at the end of the Guillotine Resolution.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
What the right hon. Gentleman is forgetting is that that was necessary to comply with the law of that year, and, that being necessary to comply with the law, my right hon. Friend offered special facilities to the House in the new financial year to have the discussion of what they were deprived before the 31st March.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I remember all the circumstances very well. Why were they necessary to comply with the law? Because the House met much later than it ought to have done.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
The point is that the time was given, and, though the right hon. Gentleman says he has all the circumstances in his mind, that was a point which he was concealing from the House.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
The language I used was used having regard to an invasion, not upon the privileges of private Members, but of the House to discuss the question of Supply, which is absolutely unexampled. The right hon. Gentleman says the time was given afterwards. I am not sure it was. It certainly was not given in very full measure.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
No, the right hon. Gentleman is not giving the time to private Members after Easter. He merely refrains for the present from taking that time away.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
The Government of the day in regard to whom I used the language quoted by the Noble Lord (Lord Hugh Cecil) was taking away a privilege it had always enjoyed, the privilege of discussing the Estimates of the year. I do not want to prolong the discussion at all. I want to address myself to the Amendment of the Noble Lord (Viscount Helmsley). It proposes to confine the time to be taken by the Government to the necessary financial business. I should be going back to the ground covered over and over again in the course of this Debate if I were to go into the case for the Resolution. It is quite true there is a larger amount of necessary financial business to be got through before the 31st March than usual, but I clearly indicated to the House, when I made my Motion at the beginning of this Sitting, that the ground on which we ask to invade the ordinary territory occupied by private Members before Easter is not merely for the transaction of that financial business, but also in order that we may make progress with the Parliament Bill. The Noble Lord ignores that altogether.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I do not know what the Noble Lord means by "jeopardise." No doubt the progress of the Bill would be retarded, and the possibility of its reaching the House of Lords at a convenient time to be considered would be seriously prejudiced. I base this Motion and I resist the Amendment of the Noble Lord not merely on the ground that the necessary financial business involves an encroachment on the ordinary time allotted to private Members, but also on the ground that in the opinion of the Government—and I believe of a majority of this House, and I am certain of a vast mass of opinion outside—that it is of the highest importance that the Parliament Bill should at the earliest possible moment be disposed of.
§ Mr. FORSTER
My right hon. Friend by an interjection disposed to a great extent of the point which the Prime Minister sought to make in reference to the speech of my Noble Friend the Member for Oxford University, and I think the House will feel it would have been more in consonance with the Prime Minister's reputation for fair play if he had not endeavoured to lead the House to believe that the action he proposes to take after Easter is on all 1379 fours with the action taken by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition under the circumstances to which the Prime Minister referred. A promise was given by the Leader of the Opposition that ample time should be given to the House in place of the time taken away from it. The Prime Minister says he now proposes to give to the House ample time after Easter. But what time does he propose to give? He proposes only to leave the time that naturally and properly belongs to private Members undisturbed. The Prime Minister should be grateful to my right hon. Friend the Member for East Worcestershire for having given him an opportunity of making his position perfectly clear. But how does he meet the Amendment moved by the Noble Lord? He says it is perfectly true there is a great deal of financial business to be got through before Easter, but I do not base the claim I now make on the time of the House solely on financial grounds. The right hon. Gentleman is perfectly right, he cannot possibly justify his claim on those grounds alone. Last year he did make a claim on the time of the House based on financial grounds, pure and simple, and he told us then that he would certainly not make that Motion unless under the stress of absolute necessity. The absolute necessity a year ago was that the House met late and Easter came early. This year the House has met early and Easter comes late, and consequently on this occasion there is more than the usual time for the transaction of necessary financial business. The Prime Minister therefore cannot justify his claim on financial grounds alone. No; he says frankly at last that the proposal that he now makes is in order that he may force through the House of Commons the Veto Bill, which he says his party has been returned by the country to pass at all costs. He claims great urgency for that Bill. He says that the country demands it with such eager, earnest imperative insistence that even a day cannot he wasted or spared in the effort to carry it through. Is it more urgent now than it was twelve months ago? I remember two eloquent speeches from the hon. and learned Member for Waterford (Mr. John Redmond) twelve months ago in which he told the Government that the question which was decided by the country at the election in January was not the Budget, which hon. Members professed to believe, but the House of Lords. I could quote an eloquent speech 1380 from the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir Henry Dalziel), in which he took the same view, and said the leading, primary, and great question which was decided by the country in January was the question of the House of Lords. That question, he said, brooks no delay, and it was the duty of the Government to press it forward and take immediate steps for its solution. The right hon. Gentleman gave in to that demand. He brought in his Veto Resolutions, and said he was going to press forward the Bill founded on those Resolutions at the earliest possible moment. Of course, events occurred in the summer which we all deplore, and which prevented the Prime Minister from carrying out that intention. But he had an opportunity when the Conference came to an end of pressing forward with that policy which the country, according to hon. Members, supported so consistently, and had demanded at the election in January. He threw the opportunity away. Instead of pressing on with this Bill he plunged the country into a needless election—into an unnecessary election—which left all the parties in the House in practically the same position that they occupied before; and now he comes back to this House and says that the decision which has been reached by the country on the second election, confirming as it does the decision which was given in January, makes this question more important still. He bases his claims to the House upon this having been submitted to the people as a single issue. It was Home Rule last night, Veto to-night. According to the hon. Member the Leader of the Labour party, there were two great questions submitted at the same time—Veto and the Reform of Trades Union law, but even if this had been submitted in the speeches of the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues as a single issue to the country, we want to know something about the methods which were employed to persuade different Constituencies to send hon. Members here to support right hon. Gentlemen who sit on the Treasury Bench. We know perfectly well that the Veto of the House of Lords was by no means the dominant or single issue before the country. I hold in my hand a pamphlet which was circulated in one of the Constituencies of the county, one of the divisions of which I represent. There are many grossly misleading statements in it, and there are many insidious suggestions whose corrosive influence prevents a free judgment being reached on the part of the people who read 1381 it. There is not a single word with reference to the Veto of the House of Lords from start to finish. This is the sort of document which was circulated—it is called "Fair play for the Electors of Dartford"—with the polling cards as the final word in the election in which the single issue was the Veto of the House of Lords. I will not read it. I have shown enough to show that the issue was not presented in that incisive and clear-cut fashion that the right hon. Gentleman would have us believe. In asking the House to take the step that he does to-night, not under the pressure of the necessity of carrying financial business through in order that the law may be observed, but in order that he may make progress with the Bill which he and his party believe to be of great interest, the right hon. Gentleman is taking a step which will prejudice beyond recall the position of private Members. It is a question of one Bill this year. Next year you will be asked to forego your rights in order that progress may be made with two Bills, Home Rule for Ireland and Welsh Disestablishment—I cannot tell which will come first. If the House confirms the Prime Minister in the Motion he makes to-night private Members tie their hands once and for all time.
§ Mr. STEEL-MAITLAND
The Prime Minister's speech delighted us particularly, because his remarks appeared to afford the most complete refutation of his own arguments, or perhaps the most complete support of the plea put forward by the Noble Lord (Viscount Castlereagh). It was complete for a very definite reason. When he wished to justify his action the only real justification that he could bring forward was that our Front Bench when they were in power committed precisely the same raid upon private Members' time. If there ever was a claim for pressing the claim of the time of private Members upon the House it is the fact that the only thing which can be said for the plan of the present Government is that on their own showing it is no worse than that of their predecessors. In this particular instance it rather appears as though the private Members were like the unfortunate babes in the wood when neither of the two villains who had designs upon his life showed the least sign of repenting and giving him another chance. The matter seems to be the more important because it is so closely connected with the deprivation, as it appears to anyone who tries to study the 1382 Parliamentary problem, of nearly all initiative or responsibility for private Members in other capacities as well. Throughout the Debate allusion has been made to the perpetual encroachment by the Executive upon the freedom of private Members. Everyone who has studied the history of the past few Sessions knows that Bills have been carried against the judgment of the House. The Home Secretary states that the Parliament Bill and other Bills represent the judgment of the country and the Members of the House. It is a matter of common knowledge that Bills have been brought forward and carried by the Executive Government contrary to the wishes of the majority of the House of Commons itself. Their freedom is now in all the more danger because of the developments which are likely to go on throughout the course of Parliamentary history so far as we can foresee. The process of carrying Bills contrary to the wishes of the majority of the Members of the House will, I think, be the more severe under the new tendencies arising out of the operation of the group system which was not operative until the present Parliament. Under that system bargaining, as every Member knows, must inevitably take place. I do not say so in any offensive sense. It appears, therefore, that the private Member will find that the power of exercising his own judgment will be limited to a greater extent than previously if the Government proposals are carried into effect. It is proposed that there should be payment of Members. Considering that hon. Members are in many cases dependent for their position on the pleasure of the Executive of the day, one cannot help feeling that if this proposal is carried out their responsibility and freedom will be still further diminished. When that is the case surely it is an additional argument that the small remnant of time which is still reserved to private Members should be interfered with as little as possible. There are private Members on both sides of the House who are interested in the reform of the Poor Law, and by common consent they are anxious that this and other matters of a less contentious character should have been proceeded with. We are deprived of the opportunity which many of us would gladly have sought of bringing forward some measures which might conceivably have passed. The extreme speed with which it is proposed to push the Parliament Bill through the House must, I think, militate against the kind of settlement of 1383 the other questions which the Home Secretary looks forward to as likely to follow upon the happy conclusion of the Parliament Bill We have the authority of the Prime Minister for saying that the passing of the Parliament Bill into law will not be an adequate or final solution. If that is so, one is tempted to ask why we should spend time on what is not a final solution? The right hon. Gentleman said a final solution would take one or two Sessions. Surely, therefore, instead of encroaching on private Members' time in this way it would be wiser to devote one Session to a Bill brought in to obtain a final solution. If the Government had really risen to the opportunity which presented itself, they would have taken a different course on this subject. If there ever was a measure that did not need to be carried through with hurry it is the Parliament Bill. It had been the practice of Parliament not to closure financial measures. Surely a measure that deals with the whole fundamentals of the British Constitution should be allowed equal grace. I think from the Prime Minister's own admissions, had it been wished to produce anything like the final settlement to which the Home Secretary has looked forward he would have produced something which would have dealt with the composition as well as with the powers of the Upper House, and would have done something—I speak as a private Member not of long experience in this House, but who has studied it from outside—to have carried the problem to its final solution by restoring to private Members something of the freedom which they possessed in times past. During the past forty years there has been year by year, taking on the average, a steady encroachment on the liberty of private Members of this House. It can be ascertained by anyone who has analysed the actual proposals carried, or who has taken the trouble to analyse the Divisions. Forty years ago 49 per cent. of the Divisions were left to private Members. That number had steadily decreased until a few years ago it was only 2 per cent. In addition to taking away the liberty of private Members the time for general measures brought forward has been curtailed, and if the Government were really to rise to their opportunity they would do something to remedy the composition of the House of Lords as well as bring forward the Parliament Bill and concurrently with those two points they would do 1384 something to restore to the House some of its freedom, which as I believe, in the opinion of the country, would do more than anything else to put it back to the high level it possesed some years ago, while, when now, speaking with every deference for the House, one cannot help believing that by the masses of the people throughout the country the House is regarded merely as a registering machine for the decisions of the Government.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
The issue raised by this Amendment is a very plain and very simple one. My noble Friend pointed out that the Prime Minister concedes that the Parliament Bill will run no risk from seven days' delay. What is the Prime Minister's answer? He does not pretend, it would be impossible to pretend, that it can make any difference in the ultimate fate of the Parliament Bill whether it is delayed seven days or not. What then is the answer to almost all the speeches made behind him, who all said they supported the Motion in the interests of the Parliament Bill? That measure admittedly not being jeopardised, how is it hon. Members behind him can possibly justify their vote for the Government? The answer is that he is the servant of the public, of the people who have sent him to pass the Parliament Bill, and that he could not wait even for seven days before carrying out their order. Here is the Government, who are the mandatories of the people, to do what the people will. I cannot see how anybody adopting that theory of constant obligation to the people can resist the Referendum. If the Government really meant to carry out the will of the people, will they refer the Parliament Bill to the will of the People? [HON. MEMBERS: "It has."] Oh, what nonsense! The General Election was fought, as all General Elections are fought, on a multiplicity of issues.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
Why should the Government have gone out? Is not that characteristic of the Front Bench mind? The Government assert the doctrine of personal dignity in order to coerce the House, if not the country, into voting on what was not the real issue. We want to have done with this exaggerated doctrine of Government dignity. Let them do as the country tells them. If they are not prepared to take the attitude of humility, let them not come here and tell the House 1385 and tell the country that they cannot wait seven days. What a hypocrisy it all is.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
I think that we must make up our mind as to what authority the Government do defer. We know they do not defer to the House of Lords, and it is plain that they do not care for the well-being of the House of Commons for they propose to curtail its rights. In their resistance to the Referendum they are not prepared to submit themselves to the will of the people. One of the most amazing things is that the Government, knowing that the Referendum would go against them, treat it as a sort of joke, and that really it is an absurdity that they should ever be put in the position of defeat. The Government resist this Amendment, but they really have no case against it that will bear a moment's examination. Nobody supposes that any ill consequences would come from delaying the Parliament Bill, even from the point of view of the most enthusiastic advocate of that ill-starred measure, and nobody supposes that we shall go to the Coronation in a better humour. Whether the House of Lords accept it or reject it one side or the other will be in a towering rage. Nobody believes the silly doctrine that the Parliament Bill is anything but a bone of contention between parties, which will arouse vehement feeling as it advances. The House of Commons is suffering from more diseases than one. One of the diseases is the indisposition of the Front Bench to argue with candour and sincerity. Day after day we have these sort of debates and these pretences which convince nobody who is not already convinced, and which brings the House of Commons lower and lower, so that in the end it will have lost all authority and all respect.
§ Mr. PETO
I am quite sure if I cannot claim the indulgence of the House I can claim their sympathy, because this is one of the rare occasions on which the guillotine has been dropped. The noble Lord the Member for Maidstone (Viscount Castle-reagh) said that if the Debate on the Parliament Bill were cut short it did not really matter very much whether it went through in three days or took a slightly longer period which might be allotted to it. I quite agree for another reason which he did not give. I think if the Government put through the Parliament Bill in three 1386 days only, then the country would understand that this costly and laboured process of electing 670 Gentlemen who are supposed to be representatives of the people, and who are supposed to constitute an assembly here which is required to carry on free government of the people and by the people, is a solemn and ridiculous farce. And they would understand that the real source of power in this country is the Front Treasury Bench, and that the rest of the House is a superfluity. I wish to refer to one thing that seems to me to make it perfectly clear that the Government themselves understand that, and they are fast getting into the position of not carrying on the pretence that there is any other state of affairs in the country. In the case of a by-election to fill a seat lately occupied by a gentleman who is going now on an important position as Governor of Victoria the right hon. Gentleman the Patronage Secretary, went down to interview the representatives of the people who were supposed to select a candidate. He gave as the reason for the selection of the present candidate—and I think you will agree, Sir, that this has an absolutely close bearing upon this present question—that was, not that he was a specially desirable candidate, and not that he was specially eloquent, or would be in this House, not that he would sustain debate, and be able as an independent Member of the House to re-represent that constituency with special distinction, but that he was the Private Secretary of the Prime Minister and that therefore—
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I cannot agree that that is relevant to the Motion now before the House The question now is whether sufficient time would be given for financial business and for financial business only.
§ Mr. PETO
Of course, I bow to your ruling. In support of this Motion, which leaves private Members some small relic of their time between now and Easter, I think there could be no stronger argument than the speeches, taken as a whole, of hon. Members opposite. Almost without exception they agreed as to the grievances of private Members, but they said because of the great importance of the Parliament Bill that they were going to vote in a contrary manner to that in which they spoke. Therefore it seems perfectly clear that the Government do not resist this Amendment for any reasoned argument, but they base 1387 their claim to the whole time of the House on the ground that the Parliament Bill has been practically the sole issue decided by the people, and that consequently there must not be a moment's delay, not even the odd Fridays, or any other relic of private Members' time before Easter. As one of the private Members, I certainly claim that there is no evidence that the Parliament Bill is not a part of the machinery for the government of the country by the Executive, with practically no intervention on the part of Members of the House as a whole. It is not because the people have risen in their majesty and decided that this measure must go forward at this instant; it is in order that the Government may carry out their own plans in their own way, without consulting the convenience of the House or the rights of any Members other than those who sit on the Treasury Bench. I support the Amendment because the way in which it is resisted proves that the government of the country by Parliament as a whole is absolutely a thing of the past, and the people may just as well understand that it is perfectly unnecessary to have Members supposed to represent them in this House.
§ Colonel GRIFFITH - BOSCAWEN
I regret that the Prime Ministter has not seen his way to accept this very reasonable Amendment. All must admit that the Government has a great deal of necessary financial business to get through. It is quite true that it is largely their own fault, because, after having said it was unconstitutional to divide the Budget, they chose to divide it last year, with the result that they have now to deal with what they ought to have dealt with last year. Still, we must admit that they have a great deal of necessary financial business to get through, and it is a very reasonable compromise, as suggested by the Amendment, that they should have special facilities, by taking private Members' time, for the transaction of that financial business, but not for other purposes. The Government, however, have met the proposal by an absolute non possumus, and demand the whole time of the House until Easter. What reason does the Prime Minister give? He says it is to pass the Parliament Bill, for which the Government has an absolute mandate. Only yesterday we were told that they had a mandate for Home Rule, and two or three days before it was contended that they had a mandate 1388 against Imperial Preference. The fact is, they have not a mandate for the Parliament Bill any more than for anything else. We have been told that there was practically a Referendum on the Parliament Bill. According to my experience of the General Election, the Parliament Bill was kept very much in the background. [An HON. MEMBER: "By whom?"] By the gentle man who stood against me, and whom I had the honour to defeat. When the Election began, the whole Constituency was placarded with the statement that the one question was "Peers or People?" But the Election had not proceeded two days before I discovered that the other side were talking about every other question but that. [An HON. MEMBER: "That is why they lost."] But they won in other places, because they kept the Parliament Bill in the background. The people did not care in the least degree about the Parliament Bill. What they did care about was social reform and Tariff Reform. The great point made by my opponents was what a splendid thing the Government had done in passing the Old Age Pensions Act, and they went on to say that another splendid thing the Government were going to do was to pass an Insurance against Invalidity Bill. The fact is that in the constituency for which I stood insurance against invalidity was put in an extremely frank way. It was said that if a man fell ill——
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The hon. Member would do well to bear in mind the Special Amendment that is now before the House.
§ Colonel GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
Of course, Sir, I bow to your ruling. I was pointing out that the Prime Minister had stated that the reason for refusing the Amendment made was in order that the Parliament Bill, for which there had been a mandate, should be pushed through as quickly as possible. In my opinion there was no special mandate whatever for that measure. Here are we private Members, sent by our constituencies to bring before the House of Commons those special subjects in which our constituents are interested. Our only chance of taking advantage of the opportunities which have been given to us by the Standing Orders of the House to discuss the Questions which have been brought prominently before the constituencies is immediately taken from us by the Government. The late Sir William Harcourt used to call the House of Commons the "Grand Inquest of the Nation," where every conceivable 1389 subject in which the people were interested could be brought forward. That has entirely disappeared, owing to the action of the right hon. Gentlemen opposite. It has been a great disappointment to me to hear the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Kirkcaldy. I know the stand he has made in favour of the rights of private Members, and I did at least hope that on this Amendment, which is a compromise, and which gives the Government all they really want—that is, time for their financial business, which we admit is necessary—he would have supported us. However, he has gone the way of all private Members: he has given up the fight as hopeless. We have had an extraordinary speech from the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary. He has told us that private Members have always the opportunity, if they like, of preventing such a proposal as this becoming effective. But how are they going to stop the Government, except by voting against the Government, in which case they would probably turn the Government out? I regret that this Amendment, which should have been accepted by the Government, has been received with an absolute non possumus. When the right hon. Gentleman has replied, we will, at all events, make our protest against this pillaging of the time of the House.
§ Mr. SANDERSON
I shall confine myself to what is strictly germane in answer to one of the chief points made by the Prime Minister, who, I understand, has said that the sole reason, the basis of his opposition, to this Amendment is, that the Government and he claim that it is desirable the Parliament Bill should be presented to another place by a certain time. Hon. Members opposite have based their arguments upon the same grounds. One hon. Gentleman said he hoped that this great Constitutional question would be settled before the Coronation. Do hon. Gentlemen opposite really think that this Constitutional question is going to be settled before the Coronation? [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear"] I am delighted to hear it; it means that those hon. Gentlemen who cheered that remark of mine are prepared to make great concessions to common-sense and reason. Of course, if they are not, if they think the Parliament Bill in its present form is going to pass, and if they expect it to go through in four months hon. Gentlemen on the other side are living in a fool's paradise. This great Constitutional question is not going to be 1390 settled in four months, nor in four years, nor in perhaps the lifetime of any hon. Member opposite. It is simply ridiculous for hon. Members to base their arguments in support of the taking of the whole time of the House up to Easter on the supposition that the Parliament Bill will be settled in four months and before the Coronation. The Home Secretary said so far as he could see there was going to be no crisis. Does he think that a Parliament Bill such as is to be presented to the House to alter the Constitution of this country, contrary to the wishes, at all events, of half the population, is not going to raise a crisis? If he thinks there is going to be no crisis in the next four months he, too, is living in a fool's paradise. This is the only ground upon which the Government are offering opposition to this Amendment and I submit it is no ground whatever.
§ 1.0 A.M.
I do not think that this matter affects any part of the United Kingdom more than it does the north of Ireland. The question affects us so deeply that it is only right that from the very beginning we should take the opportunity of showing that the deep laid schemes of the Government are recognised and that we are prepared from the outset to fight them. The Irish Unionist Members have, so far, not interfered in this debate, but I should like to point out one or two significant things in connection with what has occurred. The most significant outstanding fact has been that the Nationalist Members have not ballotted for any bills this session and naturally our suspicions are immediately aroused. There are crying needs of Ireland which have been presented to the House of Commons during the last few days, and we have heard every one of the leaders of the Home Rule party parading them in the House. How is it that the old cry of arterial drainage, for instance, that was balloted for for years and years, and the question of reviving the grants towards elementary education, and the question of University grants, and the questions of Poor Law reform, and the heating and cleansing of our national schools—how is it that the Nationalist party have refused to ballot for any of these matters? It shows a league between the Nationalist party and the Liberal party which is most significant to those of us who have to fight for what means to us in the north of Ireland the very life and prosperity of that part of the 1391 country from which we come. The Amendment which has been proposed gives the Government an opportunity of getting through their financial business which is necessary in order to carry out the law of the country. More than that they are not entitled to at this particular crisis. I see the Chief Secretary in his place. I defy him to get up and deny that he himself has on several occasions for years past said that Poor Law reform cannot wait for one moment. That statement is four years old, and yet hon. Members below the Gangway, when they have the opportunity of balloting for a place in order to bring forward this great reform that is crying out for treatment, refuse at the dictation of the right hon. Gentleman, and say: "No, we must get through this nefarious scheme of the Government's, and then, when the rights and privileges of British citizens in the north of Ireland are done away with, you can have them." I intervene at the present moment because it is perfectly clear to me that it is a hollow sham that lies at the back of the Prime Minister's reason for rejecting the Amendment. He says it is in the financial interests of the country that the Government are anxious to get through business. It is not in the interests of the country that we must get, great financial questions settled and out of the way by 24th March; it is in order that
§ they may get forward with another scheme. It is that scheme which I need hardly assure the House, so far as my colleagues and I are concerned, we intend to meet and fight. Hon. Members below the Gangway may cow the Front Bench but they will never cow the Ulster Members. With regard to the proposal to make this exception from the Prime Minister's Motion, I cannot conceive why it is not accepted by the Front Bench, unless they are under the coercion of the various groups which pretend to support them. The point really is that finance must be got through. Everybody agrees to that, but beyond that I do not think that those who have the best interests of the country at heart would go with the Government a single inch. It is one o'clock and no time to make dramatic statements, but I wish to say, with all sincerity, as this is the first opportunity I have had of intervening in a Debate which closely concerns the great province of Ulster, that we may have quarrelled in the past and may quarrel in the future about details and small things, but on this particular point I can assure everyone that it is a serious matter and one that will be treated in the most serious way.
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 199; Noes, 118.1393
|Division No. 12.]||AYES.||[1.10 a.m.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin Harbour)||Corbett, A. Cameron||Gulland, John William|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)|
|Adamson, William||Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Hackett, John|
|Addison, Dr. C.||Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)|
|Allen, A. A. (Dumbartonshire)||Crumley, Patrick||Harmsworth, R. Leicester|
|Anderson, Andrew Macbeth||Cullinan, John||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, W.)|
|Armitage, Robert||Dalziel, Sir James H. (Kirkcaldy)||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire. N. E.)|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)|
|Baker, H. T. (Accrington)||Dawes, J. A.||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Delany, William||Hayden, John Patrick|
|Barry, Redmond John (Tyrone, N.)||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Hayward, Evan|
|Barton, William||Devlin, Joeph||Helme, Norval Watson|
|Beale, W. P.||Dillon, John||Holt, Richard Durning|
|Benn, W. (T. Hamlets, St. George.)||Doris, William||Horne, C. Silvester (Ipswich)|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Duffy, William J.||Hudson, Walter|
|Boland, John Pius||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Hughes, Spencer Leigh|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Hunter, William (Lanark, Govan)|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid)||Iaacs, Sir Rufus Daniel|
|Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)||Elverston, Harold||Johnson, W.|
|Brocklehurst, William B.||Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)||Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Essex, Richard Walter||Jones, Leif Straiten (Notts, Rushcliffe)|
|Cawley, H. T. (Lancs. Heywood)||Falconer, James||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)|
|Chancellor, Henry George||Ferens, Thomas Robinson||Joyce, Michael|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Ffrench, Peter||Keating, Matthew|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Fitzgibbon, John||Kellaway, Frederick George|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Flavin, Michael Joseph||Kelly, Edward|
|Clough, William||Furness Stephen||Kilbride, Denis|
|Clynes, John R.||Golder, Sir W. A.||King, Joseph (Somerset, North)|
|Collins, Godfrey P. (Greenock)||Gill, A. H.||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Goldstone, Frank||Law, Hugh A.|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Guest, Hon. Major C. H. C. (Pembroke)||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rld., Cockerm'th)|
|Leach, Charles||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Simon, Sir John Allsebrook|
|Levy, Sir Maurice||O'Sullivan, Timothy||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)|
|Logan, John William||Parker, James (Halifax)||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Lundon, Thomas||Pearce, Robert (Staffs., Leek)||Soares, Ernest Joseph|
|Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
|MacGhee, Richard||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)||Summers, James Wooley|
|Maclean, Donald||Pirie, Duncan Vernon||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Pointer, Joseph||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|M'Callum, John M.||Pollard, Sir George H.||Tennant, Harold John|
|Markham, Arthur Basil||Power, Patrick Joseph||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Marshall, Arthur Harold||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Toulmin, George|
|Martin, Joseph||Pringle, William M. R.||Trevlyan, Charles Philips|
|Mason, David M. (Coventry)||Radford, George Heynes||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Mathias, Richard||Raffan, Peter Wilson||Verney, Sir Harry|
|Meagher, Michael||Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)||Wadsworth, J.|
|Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)||Walton, Sir Joseph|
|Meehan, Patrick A. (Queen's Co.)||Reddy, Michael||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Molloy, Michael||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Money, L. G. Chiozza||Redmond, William (Clare, E.)||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay|
|Mooney, John J.||Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)||White, Sir George (Norfolk)|
|Munro, Robert||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)||White, Sir Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Murray, Capt. Hon. Arthur C.||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Needham, Christopher T.||Roberts, George H. (Norwich)||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Nolan, Joseph||Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)||Whyte, A. F.|
|Norman, Sir Henry||Robinson, Sidney||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Nugent, Sir Walter Richard||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)||Williamson, Sir A.|
|O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Roche, John (Galway, E.)||Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)|
|O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Rose, Sir Charles Day||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Rowlands, James||Wilson, T. Fleming (Lanark)|
|O'Doherty, Philip||Rowntree, Arnold||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|O'Dowd, John||St. Maur, Harold||Wood, T. M'Kinnon (Glasgow)|
|Ogden, Fred||Scanlan, Thomas|
|O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)||Scott, A. M'Callum (Glasgow, Bridgeton)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Master of Elibank and Mr. Illingworth.|
|O'Malley, William||Sheehy, David|
|O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)||Shortt, Edward|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Gilmour, Captain John||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.|
|Archer-Shee, Major M.||Goldney, Francis Bennett-||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Goldsmith, Frank||Paget, Almeric Hugh|
|Baker, Sir Randolf L. (Dorset, N.)||Gordon, John||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Greene, Walter Raymond||Peto, Basil Edward|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Gretton, John||Pickersgill, Edward Hare|
|Barnston, H.||Guinness, Hon. Walter Edward||Pole-Carew, Sir R.|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Haddock, George Bahr||Pollock, Ernest Murray|
|Benn, Ion Hamilton (Greenwich)||Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight)||Ratcliff, Major R. F.|
|Bigland, Alfred||Hambro, Angus Valdemar||Rice, Hon. Walter Fitz-Uryan|
|Bird, Alfred||Hardy, Laurence||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Boscawen, Sackville T. Griffith-||Helmsley, Viscount||Royds, Edmund|
|Boyle, W. Lewis (Norfolk, Mid)||Henderson, Major H. (Berks., Abingdon)||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Hillier, Dr. Alfred Peter||Sanders, Robert Arthur|
|Burdett-Coutts, William||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Sanderson, Lancelot|
|Burgoyne, Alan Hughes||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Burn, Colonel C. R.||Horne, Wm. E. (Surrey, Guildford)||Stanler, Beville|
|Carlile, Edward Hildred||Ingleby, Holcombe||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Cassel, Felix||Kebty-Fletcher, J. R.||Starkey, John Ralph|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Kerry, Earl of||Stewart, Gershom|
|Cator, John||Kirkwood, John H. M.||Talbot, Lord Edmund|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Knight, Captain Eric Ayshford||Terrell, George (Wilts, N. W.)|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford Univ.)||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Thynne, Lord Alexander|
|Chaloner, Col. R. G. W.||Lawson, Hon. H. (T. H'm'ts., Mile End)||Touche, George Alexander|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worcr.)||Lewisham, Viscount||Tullibardine, Marquess of|
|Chambers, James||Lloyd, George Ambrose||Walrond, Hon. Lionel|
|Clive, Percy Archer||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Cooper, Richard Ashmole||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A. R.||White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)|
|Courthope, George Loyd||Long, Rt. Hon. Walter||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Mackinder, Halford J.||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claude|
|Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||M'Calmont, Colonel James||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Crichton-Stuart, Lord Ninian||Malcolm, Ian||Wood, Hon. E. F. L. (Yorks, Ripon)|
|Croft, Henry Page||Meysey-Thompson, E. C.||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Dalrymple, Viscount||Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas||Worthington-Evans, L.|
|Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. S.||Moore, William||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Mount, William Arthur||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.||Neville, Reginald J. N.||Yate, Col. C. E. (Leics., Melton)|
|Fell, Arthur||Newton, Harry Kottingham|
|Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Sir A.|
|Gastrell, Major W. Houghton||Norton-Griffiths, J.||Acland-Hood and Mr. H. W. Forster.|
|Gibbs, George Abraham|
§ Main Question again proposed. Debate arising.1394
§ The PRIME MINISTER rose in his place and claimed to Move, "That the Question be now put."1395
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."1396
§ The House divided: Ayes, 200; Noes, 117.1397
|Division No. 13.]||AYES.||[1.15 a.m.|
|Abraham, Wilam (Dublin Harbour)||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Harmsworth, R. Leicester||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)|
|Adamson, William||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)||Pickersglli, Edward Hare|
|Addison, Dr. Christopher||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.)||Pirie, Duncan V.|
|Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbarton)||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||Pointer, Joseph|
|Anderson, Andrew Macbeth||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Pollard, Sir George H.|
|Armitage, Robert||Hayden, John Patrick||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Hayward, Evan||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)|
|Baker, Harold T. (Accrington)||Helme, Norval Watson||Pringle, William M. R.|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Holt, Richard Durning||Radford, George Heynes|
|Barry, Redmond John (Tyrone, N.)||Horne, Charles Silvester (Ipswich)||Rattan, Peter Wilson|
|Barton, William||Hudson, Walter||Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)|
|Beale, William Phipson||Hughes, Spencer Leigh||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)|
|Benn, W. W. (T. Hamlets, St. Geo.)||Hunter, Wm. (Lanark, Govan)||Reddy, Michael|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Isaacs, Sir Rufus Daniel||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Boland, John Plus||Johnson, William||Redmond, William (Clare, E.)|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Jones, Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E)|
|Bowerman, Charles W.||Jones, Henry Hayden (Merioneth)||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)|
|Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)||Jones, Leif Stratten (Notts, Rushcliffe)||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Bracklehurst, William B.||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Roberts, George H. (Norwich)|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Joyce, Michael||Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Keating, Matthew||Robinson, Sidney|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Kellaway, Frederick George||Roch, Waiter F. (Pembroke)|
|Cawley, H. T. (Lancs., Heywood)||Kelly, Edward||Roche, John (Galway, E.)|
|Chancellor, Henry George||Kilbride, Denis||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||King, Joseph (Somerset, North)||Rose, Sir Charles Day|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||Rowlands, James|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Law, Hugh A.||Rowntree, Arnold|
|Clough, William||Lawson, Sir W.(Cumb'rld., Ceckerm'th)||St. Maur, Harold|
|Clynes, John R.||Leach, Charles||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Collins, Godfrey P. (Greenock)||Levy, Sir Maurice||Scott, A. M'Callum (Glasgow, Bridgeton)|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Logan, John William||Sheehy, David|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Lundon, T.||Shortt, Edward|
|Corbett, A. Cameron||Macdonald, J. Ramsay (Leicester)||Simon, Sir John Allsebrook|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||MacGhee, Richard||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Maclean, Donald||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Soares, Ernest Joseph|
|Crumley, Patrick||M'Callum, John M.||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
|Cullinan, J.||Markham, Arthur Basil||Summers, James Woolley|
|Dalziel, Sir James H. (Kirkcaldy)||Marshall, Arthur Harold||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Martin, Joseph||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Dawes, James Arthur||Mason, David M. (Coventry)||Tennant, Harold John|
|Delany, William||Mathias, Richard||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas||Meagher, Michael||Toulmin, George|
|Devlin, Joseph||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Dillon, John||Meehan, Patrick A. (Queen's County)||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Doris, William||Molloy, Michael||Verney, Sir Harry|
|Duffy, William J.||Money, L. G. Chiozza||Wadsworth, John|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Mooney, John J.||Walton, Sir Joseph|
|Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Munro, Robert||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid)||Murray, Capt. Hon. Arthur C.||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Elverston, Harold||Needham, Christopher T||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay|
|Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||Nolan, Joseph||White, Sir George (Norfolk)|
|Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)||Norman, Sir Henry||White, Sir Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Essex, Richard Walter||Nugent, Sir Walter Richard||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Falconer, James||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Ferens, Thomas Robinson||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Whyte, A F. (Perth)|
|Ffrench, Peter||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Fitzgibbon, John||O'Doherty, Philip||Williamson, Sir Archibald|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||O'Dowd, John||Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)|
|Furness, Stephen||Ogden, Fred||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Golder, Sir William Alfred||O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)||Wilson, T. F. (Lanark, N. E.)|
|Goldstone, Frank||O'Malley, William||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Guest, Major Hon. C. H. C. (Pembroke)||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, T.)||Wood, T. M'Kinnon (Glasgow)|
|Gulland, John William||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||O'Sullivan, Timothy||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Master of Elibank and Mr. Illingworth.|
|Hackett, John||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Pearce, Robert (Staffs., Leek)|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry,) N.||Burdett-Coutts, William|
|Archer-Shee, Major Martin||Benn, Ion Hamilton (Greenwich)||Burgoyne, Alan Hughes|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Bigland, Alfred||Burn, Colonel C. R|
|Baker, Sir Randolf L. (Dorset, N)||Bird, Alfred||Carllie, Edward Hildred|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Boscawen, Sackville T. Griffith-||Cassel, Felix|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Boyle, W. Lewis (Norfolk, Mid)||Castlereagh, Viscount|
|Barnston, Harry||Bridgeman, W. Clive||Cator, John|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Hillier, Dr. Alfred Peter||Pollock, Ernest Murray|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University)||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Ratcliff, Major R. F.|
|Chaloner, Col. R. G. W.||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Rice, Hon. Walter Fitz-Uryan|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worc'r.)||Horne, William E. (Surrey, Guildford)||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Chambers, James||Ingleby, Holcombe||Royds, Edmund|
|Clive, Percy Archer||Kebty-Fletcher, J. R.||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)|
|Cooper, Richard Ashmole||Kerry, Earl of||Sanders, Robert Arthur|
|Courthope, George Loyd||Kirkwood, John H. M.||Sanderson, Lancelot|
|Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Knight, Capt. Eric Ayshford||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Stanier, Beville|
|Crichton-Stuart, Lord Ninian||Lawson, Hon. H. (T. H'mts., Mile End)||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Croft, Henry Page||Lewisham, viscount||Starkey, John Ralph|
|Dalrymple, Viscount||Lloyd, George Ambrose||Stewart, Gershom|
|Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. S.||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Talbot, Lord Edmund|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lieut.-Col. A. R.||Terrell, George (Wilts, N. W.)|
|Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.||Long, Rt. Hon. Walter||Thynne, Lord Alexander|
|Fell Artrur||Mackinder, Halford J.||Touche George Alexander|
|Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||M'Calmont, Colonel James||Tullibardine, Marquess of|
|Gastrell, Major W. Houghton||Malcolm, Ian||Walrond, Hon. Lionel|
|Gibbs, George Abraham||Meysey-Thompson, E. C.||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Gilmour, Captain John||Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas||White, Major C. D. (Lancs, Southport)|
|Goldney, Francis Bennett-||Moore, William||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Goldsmith, Frank||Mount, William Arthur||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claude|
|Gordon, John||Neville, Reginald J. N.||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Greene, Walter Raymond||Newton, Harry Kottingham||Wood, Hon. E. F. L. (Yorks, Ripen)|
|Gretton, John||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Guinness, Hon. Walter Edward||Norton-Griffiths, J.||Worthington-Evans, L.|
|Haddock, George Bahr||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight)||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Hambre, Angus Valdemar||Paget, Almeric Hugh||Yate, Col. C. E.|
|Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashford)||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)|
|Helmsley, Viscount||Peto, Basil Edward||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Sir A. Acland-Hood and Mr. H. W. Forster.|
|Henderson, Major H. (Berks., Abingdon)||Pole-Carew, Sir R.|
§ Main Question put accordingly, "That up to and including 13th April, Government1398
§ business shall have precedence at every Sitting."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 196; Noes, 118.1399
|Division No. 14.]||AYES.||[1.27 a.m.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin Harbour)||Delany, William||Jones, Harry Haydn (Merioneth)|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas||Jones, Leif Stratten (Notts, Rushcliffe)|
|Adamson, William||Devlin, Joseph||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)|
|Addison, Dr. Christopher||Dillon, John||Joyce, Michael|
|Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbartonshire)||Doris, William||Keating, Matthew|
|Anderson, Andrew Macbeth||Duffy, William J.||Kellaway, Frederick George|
|Armitage, Robert||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Kelly, Edward|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Kilbride, Denis|
|Baker, Harold T. (Accrington)||Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid)||King, Joseph (Somerset, North)|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Elverston, Harold||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe|
|Barry, Redmond John (Tyrone, N.)||Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||Law, Hugh A|
|Barton, William||Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rld., Cockerm'th)|
|Beale, William Phipson||Essex, Richard Walter||Leach, Charles|
|Benn, W. W. (Tower Hamlets, S. Geo.)||Falconer, James||Levy, Sir Maurice|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Ferens, T. R.||Logan, John William|
|Boland, John Plus||Ffrench, Peter||Lundon, Thomas|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Fitzgibbon, John||Macdonald, J. Ramsay (Leicester)|
|Bowerman, Charles W.||Flavin, Michael Joseph||MacGhee, Richard|
|Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, N.)||Furness, Stephen||Maclean, Donald|
|Brocklehurst, W. B.||Golder, Sir William Alfred||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Gill, Alfred Henry||M'Callum, John M.|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Goldstone, Frank||Markham, Arthur Basil|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Gulland, John William||Marshall, Arthur Harold|
|Cawley, H. T. (Lancs., Heywood)||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||Mason, David M. (Coventry)|
|Chancellor, Henry George||Hackett, John||Mathias, Richard|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Meagher, Michael|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Harmsworth, R. Leicester||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)||Meehan, Patrick A. (Queen's Co.)|
|Clough, William||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E)||Molloy Michael|
|Clynes, J. R.||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||Money, L. G. Chiezza|
|Collins, Godfrey P. (Greenock)||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Mooney, John J.|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Hayden, John Patrick||Munro, Robert|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Hayward, Evan||Murray, Capt. Hon. Arthur C.|
|Cerbett, A. Cameron||Helme, Norval Watson||Needham, Christopher T.|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Holt, Richard Durning||Nolan, Joseph|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Horne, C. Silvester (Ipswich)||Norman, Sir Henry|
|Crawshay-Willlams, Eliot||Hudson, Walter||Nugent, Sir Walter|
|Crumley, Patrick||Hughes, Spencer Leigh||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Cullinan, John||Hunter, William (Lanark, Govan)||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)|
|Dalziel, Sir James H. (Kirkcaldy)||Isaacs, Sir Rufus Daniel||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Davies, Timothy (Lincs, Louth)||Johnson, William||O'Doherty, Philip|
|Dawes, James Arthur||Jones, Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||O'Dowd, John|
|Ogden, Fred||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Toulmin, George|
|O'Malley, William||Roberts, George H. (Norwich)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)||Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Robinson, Sidney||Verney, Sir Henry|
|O'Sullivan, Timothy||Roche, John (Galway, E.)||Wadsworth, John|
|Parker, James Halifax||Roe, Sir Thomas||Walton, Sir Joseph|
|Pearce, Robert (Staffs., Leek)||Rose, Sir Charles Day||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)||Rowlands, James||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Phillips, John (Longford, S.)||Rowntree, Arnold||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay|
|Pirie, Duncan V.||St. Maur, Harold||White, Sir George (Norfolk)|
|Pointer, Joseph||Scanlan, Thomas||White, Sir Luke (York, E. R.)|
|Pollard, Sir George H.||Scott, A. M'Callum (Glasgow. Bridgeton)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Power, Patrick Joseph||Sheehy, David||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Price C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Shortt, Edward||Whyte, A. F. (Perth)|
|Pringle, William M. R.||Simon, Sir John Allsebrook||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Radford, George Heynes||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)||Williamson, Sir Archibald|
|Raffan, Peter Wilson||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)||Wilson, Hon. G G. (Hull, W.)|
|Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)||Soares, Ernest Joseph||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)||Wilson, T. F. (Lanark, N. E.)|
|Reddy, Michael||Summers, James Wooley||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Taylor, John W. (Durham)||Wood, T. M'Kinnon (Glasgow)|
|Redmond, William (Clare, E.)||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)||Tennant, Harold John||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Master of Elibank and Mr. Illingworth.|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Gilmour, Captain John||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Archer-Shee, Major Martin||Goldney, Francis Bennett-||Paget, Almeric Hugh|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Goldsmith, Frank||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)|
|Baker, Sir Randolf L. (Dorset, N.)||Gordon, John||Peto, Basil Edward|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Greene, Walter Raymond||Pickersgill, Edward Hare|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Gretton, John||Pole-Carew, Sir R.|
|Barnston, Harry||Guinness, Hon. Walter Edward||Pollock, Ernest Murray|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Haddock, George Bahr||Ratcliff, Major R. F.|
|Bonn, Ion Hamilton (Greenwich)||Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight)||Rice, Hon. Walter Fitz-Uryan|
|Bigland, Alfred||Hambro, Angus Valdemar||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Bird, Alfred||Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashford)||Royds, Edmund|
|Boscawen, Sackville T. Griffith-||Helmsley, Viscount||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)|
|Boyle, W. Lewis (Norfolk, Mid)||Henderson, Major H. (Berks., Abingdon)||Sanders, Robert Arthur|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Hillier, Dr. A. P.||Sanderson, Lancelot|
|Burdett-Coutts, William||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Burgoyne, Alan Hughes||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Stanier, Beville|
|Burn, Col. C. R.||Horne, Wm. E. (Surrey, Guildford)||Stanley, Major Hon. George (Preston)|
|Carlile, Edward Hildred||Ingleby, Holcombe||Starkey, John Ralph|
|Cassel, Felix||Kebty-Fletcher, J. R.||Stewart Gershom|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Kerry, Earl of||Talbot, Lord Edmund|
|Cator, John||Knight, Captain Eric Ayshford||Terrell, George (Wilts, N. W.)|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Thynne, Lord Alexander|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford Univ.)||Lawson, Hon. H. (T. H'mts., Mile End)||Touche, George Alexander|
|Chaloner, Col. R. G. W.||Lewisham, Viscount||Tullibardine, Marquess of|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worc'r.)||Lloyd, George Ambrose||Walrond, Hon. Lionel|
|Chambers, James||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Clive, Percy Archer||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A. R.||White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)|
|Cooper, Richard Ashmole||Long, Rt. Hon. Walter||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Courthope, George Loyd||Mackinder, Halford J.||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claude|
|Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||M'Calmont, Colonel James||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Malcolm, Ian||Wood, Hon. E. F. L. (Yorks, Ripon)|
|Crichton-Stuart, Lord Ninian||Martin, Joseph||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Croft, Henry Page||Meysey-Thompson, E. C.||Worthington-Evans, L.|
|Dalrymple, Viscount||Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. S.||Moore, William||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Mount, William Arthur||Yate, Col. C. E.|
|Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.||Neville, Reginald J. N.|
|Fell, Arthur||Newton, Harry Kottingham||TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Sir A. Acland-Hood and Mr. H. W. Forster.|
|Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)|
|Gastrell, Major W. Houghton||Norton-Griffiths, J.|
|Gibbs, George Abraham||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.|
§ Ordered, "That, up to and including 13th April, Government Business shall have precedence at every sitting."
§ And, it being after half-past Eleven of the clock on Thursday evening, Mr. SPEAKER adjourned the House without Question put, according to Standing Order.
§ Adjourned at twenty-eight minutes before 2 a.m., Friday, 17th February.