HC Deb 30 July 1912 vol 41 cc1835-6
54 and 55. Mr. BUTCHER

asked the Prime Minister (54) whether he stated on 16th October. 1901, that it would not be wise of the Liberal party to repeat the experiment of 1892, and to assume power when it could only be retained by the support of Irish votes; whether, in view of the fact that in three crucial Divisions this Session, namely, on the Amendment to exclude Ulster from the Government of Ireland Bill, on the Second Reading of the Finance Bill, and on the salary of the Home Secretary, the Government were only retained in office by the Irish Nationalist vote, and would have been defeated without that support, the Government are now prepared to resign office; and, if not, whether he still adheres to the views expressed by him on 16th October, 1901; and (55) whether his intentions in regard to retaining office have been affected by the Division of 26th July, in which the Government had a majority of three, and in which they would have been in a large minority but for the Irish Nationalist vote?


Before the Prime Minister answers, may I ask him whether he is aware that on the resignation of the Gladstone Administration on 12th June, 1885, which was occasioned by its defeat by a majority of 12 on a Division in which forty-one Irish Members voted in the majority, Lord Salisbury assumed office as Prime Minister and retained office with the support of the Irish Nationalist vote till the fall of his Administration, and that no objection was taken by any of Lord Salisbury's followers to that course; and whether, having regard to this precedent, any reply whatever need be given to the question on the Paper?


The Government do not propose to resign office in view of the Divisions referred to. The speech from which the hon. Member quotes was made by me eleven years ago, and should be read as a whole. I think that the advice which it gave as to the conditions under which the Liberal power should thereafter assume office was sound. I went fully into its application to existing circumstances in some observations which I made on the Motion for the Adjournment of the House on Wednesday, 19th June.


May I ask the right hon. Gentleman if he is still under the impression that he retains the confidence of the electors either of England or Great Britain?