§ 45. Mr. GEORGE GREENWOOD
asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that in a Division taken in this House on 1st November last, on an Amendment to Clause 2 of the Criminal Law Amendment Bill, the effect of which Amendment was to authorise a Court before which a male person is convicted of an offence under Section 2 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1885, to order such person to be flogged for a first offence under such Section, being Division No. 288 of this Session, three Members of this House who had intended to vote against such Amendment voted in the No Lobby by mistake; and whether, in view of the fact that there was actually a majority in this House against such Amendment, the Government will take steps to restore the Clause to its original form?
§ Mr. LEE
Before the right hon. Gentleman replies, may I ask whether he is also aware that a large number of Members on this side of the House who were in favour of the Amendment left the House through a misunderstanding before the Division was called, and that, but for that fact, the majority in favour of the Amendment would have been very much greater than it was?
§ The PRIME MINISTER (Mr. Asquith)
As to the question of the hon. Member for the Fareham Division (Mr. Lee), I cannot say. In reply to my hon. Friend (Mr. Greenwood), the Division List is the only official record of Members' votes. This particular Division was left to the unfettered judgment of the House, and I am afraid it is now impossible to go back upon the decision then taken.
§ Mr. G. GREENWOOD
May I ask whether, under the old system of taking Divisions in such a case as this, Members who went to the Clerk at the Table and stated the circumstances would not have had the matter rectified in the Division list?
§ Mr. G. GREENWOOD
May I ask you, Mr. Speaker, whether, under the old system in such a case as this, Members who went to the Table as soon as they found they had voted in the wrong Lobby could not have had the Division list rectified?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
Under the old system any hon. Member who said that he had not heard the Question put, could invite the Question to be put to him, and thereupon he was entitled to give his vote "Aye" or "No," but under the recent system it is not necessary that hon. Members should hear the Question put. We cannot now go back on the vote which was given on 1st November. I would also point out that hon. Members have six minutes during which they can make themselves acquainted with the Question that has been put.
§ Mr. ROBERT HARCOURT
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether this was not a very small majority on which to make such a tremendous change?
§ Sir W. BYLES
May I ask whether there is any possibility of a Member who votes in a Lobby he did not intend to vote in immediately getting his vote corrected?