HC Deb 19 December 1912 vol 45 cc1737-9

May I ask you, Mr. Speaker, a question, of which I have given notice, with respect to a passage which occurs in an article which has recently appeared in Welsh in a Welsh paper called the "Tyst," to the following effect:— There are dangers to be watched. We are not sure that the Tories are not on the alert for another snap Division, and if that happens there is an end to all legislation, because the Government could not survive a repetition of their experience. The Welsh Members should sec to it that the Whips are not allowed again to go to sleep. Another thing, it is clear by this that the Speaker of the House cannot act impartially on this question. He allows the Tories to say the most shameful things, and to make attacks on everybody, scattering lies like ashes, and he takes no notice of them; but the moment the Liberals answer them in their own coin, he becomes angry at once, rebuking them and even falsely accusing them, as he did Mr. Llewelyn Williams on Friday. It is astonishing that the unfairness of this official has been borne so long. If he cannot conceal his Toryism and party zeal, he ought to be sufficiently honourable to resign, and some brave Member ought to tell him so. That statement was published, as I understand, in Welsh, on 4th December, and it was brought to my notice by a translation published in a paper called "The National Church," which reached me yesterday, otherwise I should have brought it to the notice of the House a long time ago. It is quite unnecessary for me to say that such an attack on you, Sir, is reprobated by every Member of this House. I know you can well afford to regard with indifference scurrility of that description, but the matter is, I venture to say, of some importance to the House. The House has always been very jealous indeed of the impartiality of the Chair, and therefore I thought it right to bring this matter to the notice of the House for you to decide whether it is a breach of privilege or not. [An HON MEMBER: "May we have the passage read in the original language in which it was published?"]


I think, assuming the translation is a literal one, and is a fair translation, that it is primâ facie a breach of the privileges of this House. To attack the chief officer of this House is to attack the House itself for retaining such an officer in the Chair at all. I would, however, suggest to the Noble Lord that the matter really need not go any further. As far as I am concerned, I do not wish to take any notice of it whatever, and I believe the House itself would be best consulting its own dignity by not taking any notice of it. I hope the Noble Lord will not press the matter any further.


If you, Mr. Speaker, had not said what you have said, I certainly should have thought that this was a matter in which the House ought to take further action. I am sure that I shall be expressing the universal opinion of the House when I say that in all sections of the House we fully recognise your impartiality, and therefore this matter is not worthy of serious consideration.

4.0. P. M.


I entirely accept the view expressed by the Leader of the House and by you. I thought it my duty to bring the matter to the notice of the House, but I will not pursue it further.