§ 1. Clause 1, page 1, page 5, leave out "male."
|Proceedings on Committee Stage.|
|Time for Proceedings to be brought to a Conclusion except on a Friday or Saturday.||Time for Proceedings to be brought to a Conclusion on a Friday or Saturday.|
|First||Proceedings on Instructions||5.30||12.30|
|Proceedings on First Amendment mentioned in the Appendix (if in order)||—||—|
|Second||Proceedings on First Amendment mentioned in the Appendix (if in order)||7.30||2.0|
|Proceedings (if any) on Second Amendment mentioned in the Appendix (if in order)||10.30||4.45|
|*Third||Proceedings (if any) on Third Amendment mentioned in the Appendix (if in order)||7.30||2.0|
|Proceedings (if any) on Fourth Amendment mentioned in the Appendix (if in order)||10.30||4.45|
|Fourth||Sub-section (1) of Clause 1, excluding the Amendments mentioned in the Appendix||7.30||2.0|
|Remainder of Clause 1||—||—|
|Fifth||Remainder of Clause 1 and Committee stage of any Financial Resolution||10.30||4.45|
|Sixth||Report stage of any Financial Resolution||5.30||12.30|
|Clauses 5 and 6||10.30||4.45|
|Eighth||Clauses 7, 8, and 9||7.30||2.0|
|Clause 10, New Clauses, and Schedules, and any other matter necessary to bring Committee stage to a conclusion||10.30||4.45|
|* If none of the Amendments constituting the proceedings on the third allotted day are in order this Table shall be read as if the last allotted day were eliminated, and as if the proceedings and times assigned in this table to the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth allotted days were assigned therein to the third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh allotted days, respectively.|
§ 2. Clause 1, page 1, page 6, after "person," insert "of either sex."
§ 3. Clause 1, page 1, line 12, after "a," insert "female person shall be qualified to be registered in a constituency as a Parliamentary elector if she is over twenty-five years of age and is the inhabitant occupier, as owner or tenant, or the wife of such an inhabitant occupier, of a dwelling-house in that constituency and has resided in that dwelling-house for a period of at least six months last past, provided that, except as herein enacted, no women shall be registered as joint occupiers in respect of the same dwelling; and a male."
§ 4. Clause 1, page 1, line 12, after "person," insert—
- (a) being a female, shall be qualified to be registered in a constituency as a Parliamentary elector if she is a local government elector for the purpose of all local government elections in that constituency; and
- (b) being a male.
§ In moving the Motion standing in my name I wish, as far as I can, to deal, by way of anticipation, with the criticisms suggested by the Amendment of which the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition has given notice. He complains, in the first place, of what he describes as the drastic limitations imposed by the Motion on the consideration of a Bill of exceptional magnitude. Let me deal, first of all, with that point. That this is a Bill of magnitude and importance I should be the last person to deny, but if compared with previous Government measures for enlarging the Suffrage it will be found on a very cursory examination that it has the least sweeping scope of any measure hitherto introduced by a responsible Government. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] I will make good that proposition. I will not go back to the Reform Act of 1832. I will take two great measures, the Act of 1867, passed by a Conservative Government, and the Act of 1884–85, passed by a Liberal Government. The Act of 1867 more than doubled the electorate, raising it, roughly speaking, from 1,100,000 to 2,500,000. It was not only a Franchise but a Redistribution Bill. The Act of 1884–85 raised the electorate from 3,000,000 to 5,000,000—that is to say, by two-thirds. This Bill, according to the best estimates one can form, will increase the electorate by, at the outside, from 1,500,000 to 2,000,000.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
It will take away a certain number who are already there. I am dealing with the net increase; and I say that the net increase, as far as one can estimate it, is something between 1,500,000 and 2,000,000. If you like, take it as 2,500,000. That is on an existing electorate of from 7,500,000 to 8,000,000. Therefore, if you compare the proportionate increase in the electorate made by this Bill with that made either by the Act of 1867 or by the Act of 1884, you will see that it deserves the description that I applied to it of not being such a sweeping measure.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I am dealing with the Bill as it stands as introduced by the Government, and not with the Bill as it may subsequently be modified by the wish of the majority of the House of Commons. They are responsible for that. 654 The Bill as it stands is, in comparison with these previous measures, the most moderate measure yet proposed by a responsible Government. Let me add a word with reference to the Amendment to Clause 3 put down by my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Education. I will deal hereafter with the question whether there will be a fundamental change in the Bill. The Amendment put down by my right hon. Friend proposes to omit the whole of Schedules 2 and 3, that is to say, some nineteen pages out of twenty-six, and to substitute for the machinery proposed by the Bill subsequent Regulations by Order in Council, with regard to which the House will have the fullest possible opportunity of discussion before it is sanctioned. That accordingly reduces the dimensions of the Bill from the point of view of Committee discussion. That, by the way.
Let us go back for a moment, when Ave are charged with a drastic limitation of Parliamentary discussion, and see what happened in regard to the much larger measure of 1884. I find on reference to "Hansard" that, after the Second Reading of that Bill, eleven days were given, or, rather—it is important to note the distinction—there were eleven sittings in Committee. We propose by this Resoluto give eight days. Those eleven sittings in Committee were all, as far as I can make out, morning sittings—that is to say, sittings from two o'clock to seven—preceded, of course, in the first hour by the ordinary machinery of Parliamentary question and answer, So that, although questions were not so luxuriant in those days as they are now, yet it is a very liberal estimate to say that four and a half hours on an average was the time consumed in actual Committee discussion at each of those eleven sittings. We propose to give to the corresponding stage of this Bill eight sittings lasting from four o'clock to ten-thirty [An HON. MEMBER: "Five."] No, eight. Will hon. Gentlemen allow me to pursue my statement? [An HON. MEMBER: "The women."] We will deal with the question of Women Suffrage presently. Will hon. Gentlemen allow me to proceed with my argument consecutively? We are proposing by this Resolution to give eight full days to the Committee stage of this Bill. That compares very favourably with the time given in a House of Commons which did not know the guillotine or, indeed, the Closure—the Closure 655 was only in its infancy—to the much larger measure of 1884. I will say more later on the question of Women Suffrage. That is not a new question. If hon. Gentlemen will refer to the Debates of 1884 they will see that that is not a new question. I think I am not exaggerating when I say that one and a half of the eleven sittings given to the Committee stage in 1884 were given to this very same question of Women Suffrage. Therefore I think I may fairly submit, without saying anything with regard to the special exigencies of time in which we are placed, that, comparing the character of this Bill with the character of its immediate predecessor, the House of Commons under this Guillotine Resolution is not giving much less time or substantially any less time to the Committee stage than our predecessors of thirty years ago voluntarily of their own free will thought was adequate.
Now I come to the right hon. Gentleman's next suggestion, namely, that the Bill disenfranchises existing constituencies without providing for Redistribution. We have said—my right hon. Friend who introduced the Bill said it, and my other colleagues who spoke on the Second Reading repeated what he said—and we acknowledge that a Bill of this kind, making large changes in the composition of the electorate, must of necessity be followed by Redistribution. We are just as anxious for it as anybody else can possibly be. [HON. MEMBERS: "When?"] At the earliest possible opportunity. In our view this extension of the Franchise will necessarily involve, and it would be absurd if it were not followed by, Redistribution; otherwise we should have results which everybody admits would be ridiculous and indefensible. Further, the right hon. Gentleman says, as another ground for refusing our Motion for the allocation of time, that the Government are proposing to alter the Bill fundamentally and in a manner inconsistent with the measure as presented on Second Reading. The right hon. Gentleman has not particularised or specified what are the Amendments upon which he bases that contention. I presume that the most important, and perhaps the one he has first in mind, is that put down by my right hon. Friend for proposing to omit the occupation qualification. I should like to say one word in regard to that, without going into the merits or demerits of the question at all, which would be quite out of order at this stage, but simply on the point 656 whether the introduction of an Amendment of that kind is such a fundamental alteration in the character of the Bill as to justify the right hon. Gentleman in his contention that the Bill ought to be withdrawn and another introduced in its place. I do not want to lay any particular stress upon what was said outside the House before the Bill was introduced; but on 11th November, when I declared our intention of introducing this measure, I expressly stated that it would be a measure providing for residential suffrage, and that we intended it to be based on the foundation that a man who was a bonâ-fide resident or an inhabitant of a locality should automatically, without any evidence, be invested with the full power of the franchise. That has always been the view which we on this side of the House have put forward in regard to what we consider to be the most essential reform of the simplification of our franchise laws. When the Bill was introduced, my right hon. Friend, in introducing it, after saying that occupation is in some cases a better test of a man's interest in a locality than his residence, went on to use these words, which have not been so frequently quoted:—But the interest that a man has in the locality in which he lives is the main principle upon which we found our franchise.On the Second Reading the matter was made a little more clear by the language of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Colonies. I should like, now that the point has been raised, and having regard to its importance, to read precisely what my right hon. Friend said in moving the Second Reading on 8th July last.
§ Sir WILLIAM BYLES
Will my right hon. Friend allow me—I am sorry to interrupt—with all respect, to say that he is very imperfectly heard on this side of the House?
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I am very sorry, but I am doing my best in face of physical difficulties. My right hon. Friend the Secretary for the Colonies, after quoting what I have already quoted, said the effect of it was:—Our Bill would be founded upon purely residentia qualifications. That is always our intention and is so still. But it is true that in deference to representations we have put into the Bill the alternative of occupation. We put it in for no other purpose than to meet the possibility of certain hard cases. We have always assumed that the result of this measure and the natural desire of the voters would be to vote, as a rule, at the place to which they belong—that is, their residence or home—and this further provision has only been inserted in order to relieve cases, possible but rare, in which 657 there might be a valid, if temporary, objection to one voter and not to the other. Since this Bill was introduced and published and considered by public experts in our electoral law, the suggestion has been made, suspicion has arisen, that owing to the accidental concurrence of the retention of the occupying qualification with the abolition of the qualifying value, there is a possibility, some people think even a probability, that we are creating a power for the unlimited manufacture of bogus votes under the occupation franchise. I need say nothing was further from our thoughts and intentions. I am quite sure that the whole House, irrespective of party, would desire to avoid the introduction of such an undesirable element into our electoral life and law. If that suspicion should turn out to be well founded, we shall invite the assistance of the House as a whole to remove so great a danger, which might even become a scandal, from the text of the Bill."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th July, 1912, col. 1641, Vol. XL.]So that my right hon. Friend clearly pointed out that the occupation qualification was inserted only as a subsidiary safeguard to meet certain possible cases of hardship, and that if on further investigation it should turn out that the danger of retaining that without any qualification would or might lead to the multiplication of bogus qualifications, the Government would certainly reconsider the matter. That was clearly understood at the time. It was made plain by a speech made the same night from the Front Opposition Bench by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Edinburgh University (Sir Robert Finlay). He said:—We have at present the occupation franchise in respect of premises of the value of £10 a year. That limit tile Government propose to remove altogether, and the Bill as it stands provides that the occupation of any premises of any value whatever apart from residence cannot confer the franchise. Do the Government mean that? There is some doubt, judging from what fell from the Colonial Secretary. He said it had been pointed out to the Government by some learned Friend that this would open the way to the creation of all sorts of faggot votes, and whether the occupation franchise should be retained in the Bill or not was rather an open question. I rather understood that the occupation franchise is going to be dropped altogether.The hon. and learned Gentleman went on to say—and this is the case most frequently quoted:—If it is, what becomes of such constituencies as the City of London?"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th July, 1912, col.1735, Vol. XL.]I do not think it is possible, in view of these citations, for anyone to suggest that when the Bill was brought forward in the House for Second Beading the two things were not made perfectly clear—that the occupation qualification was inserted merely as a subsidiary and precautionary matter, and next that if, as has been the case, fuller investigation revealed the fact that the preservation of the two side by side might lead to a thing which all of us in all quarters and all parts would deprecate, namely, the creation and multiplication of unreal or artificial qualifications, 658 that that occupation franchise ought to go. I hope that answers the point which I at any rate, make in anticipation of the right hon. Gentleman, that the Bill since the Second Reading has been altered fundamentally, and in a manner inconsistent with the form in which it was presented on that occasion. Lastly, although this is not referred to in the Amendment of which the right hon. Gentleman has given notice, there is a point—with which I have already incidentally dealt, but which of course requires fuller and further treatment—namely, the proposal, in the first instance, that the earlier days of the Committee should be given to the various Amendments that have been proposed in one quarter or another, or in one shape or another, to what is called Women Suffrage. Though I am not going to enlarge or trespass at this moment upon the controversial themes which these Amendments raise—I do not apprehend that it would be in order, and certainly it would not be appropriate—I must in two or three sentences recall the reasons which seem to the Government to make it not only proper, but even a matter of obligation on their part to give precedence to these Amendments.
The position in the matter is not a new one. Very shortly after I assumed my present office, may be in the spring or early summer of the year 1908—nearly five years ago—I announced in the clearest terms to a deputation which came to see me on the subject of Women Suffrage— and the announcement was published far and wide—that the Government, as everybody knew, were pledged, and deeply pledged, to bring in before the expiration of the lifetime of that Parliament of 1906 a Bill substantially for the purpose for which this Bill is introduced. I also dwelt on the notorious fact that in regard to Women Suffrage opinion was sharply divided within the Cabinet itself, and as sharply in the rank and file of the Liberal party, while a corresponding if not exactly an analogous divergence of opinion was to be found amongst the ranks of the regular Opposition, and possibly in other quarters of the House also. Therefore, I said, it was impossible for any Government which felt itself called upon, as we were bound by all our pledges to do, to deal with the question of the franchise as a Government, to propose one way or another the enactment of Women Suffrage. I said, and I think truly, although myself a strong opponent of Women Suffrage, as I am 659 to-day, that that imposed a great hardship upon the supporters of Women Suffrage. There have been passed in several Parliaments the Second Reading of a Bill which at any rate affirmed the principle. Owing to the fact that, whatever party was in power, the division of opinion amongst those responsible for the conduct of the Government was so great that Bill has never got Government facilities, and that doom which attaches to all private Members' Bills, on acutely controversial questions, made it that this Bill never got beyond the stage of Committee, even if it got so far. That I thought, and still think, constitutes a real hardship to the supporters of Women Suffrage.
I therefore, talking with the full assent of my colleagues, those who shared my views on the merits of the question and those who differed from me, said that when the time came for us to introduce our promised Franchise and Registration Bill we should leave it an open question to the free judgment of the House of Commons. From that position we have never receded. I know perfectly well that all my colleagues, those who agree and those who do not agree with me, are loyal to that pledge. That being so, we having now introduced our Franchise and Registration Bill—the premature dissolution of Parliament of 1906 for totally different reasons made it impossible to carry out our intentions—having now, that the opportunity is afforded of producing our promised Franchise Bill, we are bound to carry out, or endeavour to carry out, the undertaking which I on behalf of my colleagues, then gave. I am not going into, although I am quite prepared to do so, when we come to the Debate, to enter upon the question as to whether that was or was not a wise, or a justifiable, or if you like, a tenable position for the Government to take. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I am quite prepared to deal with the question when it comes up. At any rate, that is the attitude we have taken. We now, in strict conformity with what we then said, are endeavouring to carry out the pledge we gave. It is for that reason we have introduced into this Motion a totally novel provision, for which I do not think there is any precedent in a Guillotine Resolution, which, is only justified, if it is justified, by the special circumstances of the case—a provision which selects for what I may call federential treatment and in a particular order, certain Amendments, not Government Amendments, but 660 Amendments put on the Paper by private Members, or if by Members of the Government, put down in their capacity as private Members.
We have endeavoured, I hope with impartiality, to take these Amendments in their natural and logical order. The first, amongst others, is the one that stands in the name of one of my most valued Friends and colleagues, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. It comes first, I believe, actually upon the Paper. At any rate, it comes first in the order of logic and convenience. If, on the one hand, it is carried, it simply opens the door to the adoption of this or that particular Amendment. On the other hand, if it is rejected, it shuts the door to all the other Amendments of which notice has been given. Therefore, from every point of view, it seems desirable to give it precedence; to give the discussion of it a larger share of time than any of the others. To take in order the first and last Amendment, that which stands in the name of the hon. Member below the Gangway, it practically assimilates the franchise between women and men. I will not discuss it, but his Amendment, as I understand the position, would entitle either men or women to the franchise. That, I understand, is the position taken up by the supporters of this Amendment. If so, of course men and women would be, later on, on the same footing, and the sum total would be that there would be no necessity for the other Amendments. If, as some people who are supporters of Women Suffrage seem to think, that is too large a practical application of their principles for the moment, then we come to the next Amendment. That Amendment is a sliding scale, an inclined plane. The Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for Barnard Castle would let in thirteen millions of women. My hon. Friend the Member for St. Pancras is a more economical supporter of the principle of Women Suffrage, and he proposes to let in some six or seven millions. [HON. MEMBERS: "Six millions."] He proposes to give us an instalment of 50 per cent. That comes next, fairly, and in logical order. If that is rejected as also being too strong meat, there then comes what I think is called, "the conciliation Amendment," which is fathered by the Noble Lord the Member for Hitchin.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
It stands in the name of my right hon. Friend the Member for St. George's, Hanover Square.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I think the Noble Lord has a share in it. It is proposed by my right hon. Friend the Member for St. George's, and it is an Amendment which I understand will have the effect of letting in a couple of million of women.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
A million and a half. Obviously that ought to come last, because it, is the most modest and the most limited in point of scope of all the practical proposals put forward. I think the House will agree that the Government, being under the undertaking which they were, they have endeavoured fairly to redeem, first of all, their pledge that this matter should be considered, and could not possibly be diverted by discussion of any other legislation; and, next, that the various proposals put forward should be considered as far as possible in their logical order and sequence, so that the rejection of one should not necessarily mean the rejection of the other. That applies to all, except the Amendment of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. I have gone into this matter at somewhat excessive length, because this is a very exceptional case, and I do not want it to be taken as a precedent for anything else. But that is the ground, in the very exceptional circumstances of the case, why I ask the House to say that we have done our best to carry out our undertaking and to meet the general convenience. It is on this ground that I ask the House to assent to this Motion. I do not think that, considering the time voluntarily given to the Committee and Report stages of previous Bills in a free House of Commons—[HON. MEMBEBS: "Hear, hear."] I am afraid these cheers will be recalled to the recollection of hon. Gentlemen opposite before they are many years older. A free House of Commons was a House of Commons in which the guillotine and closure were unknown. I do not know whether hon. Gentlemen opposite contemplate freedom in that sense. It would be very curious to see when the revolution ultimately takes place between the two parties in the State, and when hon. Gentlemen opposite sit upon this side of the House, whether there is any dispositon to return to the freedom of former years. On the other 662 hand, in a House of Commons in which these expedients for the curtailment and adjustment of business to the conditions of modern life have been found necessary, I say, having regard to the comparative magnitude of the Bills under discussion, we are giving time which even they will not consider inadequate to the requirements of the case; and we have further supplemented what seems to me adequate time with regard to the general provisions of the Bill with these special, and I agree totally exceptional provisions, to deal with particular subject matter which falls outside all the ordinary rules and conventions of party controversy, and therefore require special treatment in the circumstances. I hope, therefore, the House may be disposed to assent to the Motion.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
moved as an Amendment to leave out all after the word "That," to end, and to insert instead thereof the words, "this House declines to accept the drastic limitations imposed on the consideration of a Bill of exceptional magnitude, which disfranchises existing constituencies without providing for redistribution and deprives Parliament of its right to discuss the conditions of franchise, while the Government at the same time proposes to alter the Bill fundamentally and in a manner inconsistent with the measure as presented on Second Beading."
I rise at once to move the Amendment to which the right hon. Gentleman has referred which stands in my name on the Paper, and which therefore I think is not necessary for me to read. This, I think, is the fourth Resolution of the same kind which the right hon. Gentleman has moved in the last few months. I have always admired his Parliamentary gifts, but I never admired them so much as I did this afternoon, lie has spoken to us as if he was doing something of the most ordinary kind, and in order to make that impression complete, he put into his speech an amount of detail to which we are not accustomed in such speeches, and, in addition—and I think this was where the skill specially came in—he made his speech deal chiefly with a question on which opinion is largely divided in this House, and on which, therefore, he was sure of a certain amount of sympathy. But even the right hon. Gentleman, with all his skill and experience, could not avoid showing what was the real motive behind it. He spoke by accident of a free House of Commons, and also 663 incidentally, and I think unintentionally, gave the real motive for this Motion when he spoke of the exigency as to time. I take a different view of this Resolution from that which the right hon. Gentleman has tried to impress upon the House. It is another case where, as usual, the appetite grows by what it feeds on, and, in my own opinion, this Resolution has at least this merit, that it makes almost respectable the three previous Resolutions which were introduced on this subject. The right hon. Gentleman dealt with some of the points of the Amendment I am now moving. He spoke of Redistribution; he told us, in fact, that nothing was nearer his heart than that we should have Redistribution. When? At the earliest possible moment! We have heard something of the same kind before. The same thing was said by the right hon. Gentleman who moved the Second Reading of this Bill. I reminded him of our previous experience, and I ask him, "Since you are so sure of Redistribution, will you put a Clause in this Bill to the effect that it shall not come into operation until Redistribution has been passed?" "Oh, no! It is the earliest possible opportunity, but it does not mean that." This Resolution, apart from other criticisms which I shall very briefly make upon it, has one unique distinction. Since the Bill was last before the House it has been altered in the most drastic way which has ever occurred in the case of any Bill which has ever been presented to the House of Commons.
I am not going into the details of that, and I shall refer to occupation later, but I would remind the right hon. Gentleman that there is another important alteration, that he has, in fact, taken away from this House all control as to the qualifications for the electorate, and has left it to an Order in Council—that is, I suppose, his chief Whip—to decide who is and who is not to have a vote. The unique distinction of this Resolution is this: Previous Guillotine Resolutions have aimed, or have pretended to aim, at being adapted to suit the Bill to which they were applied; but the Government have reversed that process, and they have cut down the Bill to suit the guillotine. The right hon. Gentleman dwelt upon the smallness of this measure, and I never heard a more remarkable statement. I shall compare it with the other Franchise Bills which have gone through, and I venture to say that, even as the Bill stands, both in its extent and 664 complexity, it is a more important measure than any that has ever gone through the House of Commons. But there is more than that. Did the House notice the delightful way in which the Prime Minister dealt with the question of Women Suffrage? He said, "That is not my business. If the House decides to put it in, let the House decide." Yes, but if the House decides to put it in there may be 13,000,000 added to the electorate, and this Guillotine Resolution applies to those 13,000,000 just as much as to the others.
Another ground on which the right hon. Gentleman justified the smallness of his measure was that it would only add 1,500,000. I think it means much more than that. But suppose the Prime Minister is right, what does it mean? It means that this is, on a wholesale scale, a Bill not only to enfranchise but to disfranchise, and does not that mean that we ought to have more and not less time for discussion? Take the different Franchise Bills. Take the Reform Bill of 1832, which added 400,000 electors to the roll. That measure was discussed for twenty-nine days. Now this Bill adds, at the lowest, 2,500,000, and may add 13,000,000 or 14,000,000, and yet it has to be discussed for only thirteen days. The Bill of 1867 added 1,000,000, and was discussed for twenty days. Then we come to the Bill of 1884, which is the nearest in magnitude to the Bill which we are now discussing. The Prime Minister told us it only occupied eleven days in Committee. That is characteristic of the defence of the right hon. Gentleman. On this occasion he forgets that this is a Bill not only to give the franchise, but to arrange registration, and he forgets that in addition to the Franchise Bill of 1884 there were Registration Bills which occupied thirteen or fourteen days of the time of the House of Commons. As a matter of fact, the Bill of 1884, instead of occupying the short time which he gave, actually occupied twenty-four days of the time of this House as against the thirteen days which he proposes by this Guillotine Resolution.
But look at the time-table. The first three days are to be given to this Suffrage Amendment on which the right hon. Gentleman has dwelt so largely. It is not toe large a time for the purpose, but if the right hon. Gentleman was justified in assuming that all we have to talk about is the Bill as he introduced it, he should have told us that he was giving us not eight but five days. This question of 665 Women Suffrage is one on which, as the right hon. Gentleman truly said, parties on both sides are divided. But on this question the right hon. Gentleman occupies a unique position. He is not only hostile to it, but he has said publicly that to give Women Suffrage would be a political mistake of a disastrous kind, or words to that effect. [HON. MEMBERS: "National disaster."] I am putting it mildly. I have read in a ministerial organ which is generally fairly well informed, that if an Amendment to add 13,000,000 or 14,000,000 women to the register is carried, the right hon. Gentleman will still make himself the agent for perpetrating this national disaster. He will not only make himself the agent, but the chief agent, and more than that, he will use the machinery of the Parliament Act to prevent the country having an opportunity of preventing what he regards as a national disaster. I shall believe that when it has happened, and if it does, well, I do not think any further criticism will be necessary. Now I turn to this time-table. Take, for instance, the fifth day. On that day we are to discuss the property qualification, occupiers, and the Committee stage of the Financial Resolution. Just consider what that means. The right hon. Gentleman minimised the question of occupation, and he tried to make out that because in the Second Reading speeches Ministers had begun to realise that perhaps it would not pay them as well as they expected, that therefore he was justified in altering it. What is the effect of it? It is in reality to disfranchise absolutely not only the City of London, but every commercial centre throughout the length and breadth of this country. In other words, in the future if this arrangement is carried, the men who conduct the business, industry and commerce of this country will have no means of having direct representation in this House. That may be a good or a bad thing, or it may be a good or a bad arrangement, but surely it is of sufficient importance to have justified more discussion in this House than will be possible in the six hours taken up with the other subjects I have named.
Look at the sixth day: the Report of the Financial Resolution, Local Government Franchise—this is a Bill not only to affect the Parliamentary Franchise, but the Local Government Franchise as well—the question of the same register for all purposes, continuous registration and the Amendment of the Chancellor of the 666 Duchy of Lancaster in regard to it, legislation by Order in Council—a simple method by which the Government themselves are to decide who is to have a vote—the question of whether the County Court or the revising barrister is the best means of dealing with electoral claims; and all this is to be done in six and a half hours, less the time taken up by Divisions. These are the things we can discuss. But I ask the House to consider what are the questions involved in a Bill like this which we shall have no opportunity at all of discussing. Take one. If this Bill, especially with Women Suffrage added to it as well, is passed, it means that a very large body of constituents which now returns Members to this House will be swamped and will be disfranchised absolutely, and that is to be done not only without giving the electors who return those Members to this House the opportunity of saying what they think about it, but the decision is to be made without the possibility of its being discussed for a moment in the House of Commons. Look at another question. The Corrupt Practices Act remains as it is. This Bill is going to make an immense revolution in the whole system of Parliamentary elections, and it will add enormously to the expenses of every candidate who fights an election. It will mean that many Members on both sides of the House will be unable to sit in it in the future on account of the expense which will be imposed upon them, and all this revolution is to be made without the country having the smallest say as to the rights or wrongs of it, and without the possibility of discussing it in the House of Commons.
It is really not worth while to point out the absurdity of this time-table. There is not a Member of the House who does not recognise that nothing but the absolute necessity of party interests would make any Government bring forward such a proposal or make any Member in any quarter of the House vote for it. I do not believe there is a Member in this House, wherever he sits, who has any respect or regard for the House of Commons, who does not regard this as a hateful proposal, who does not know what the intention and object of it is, and who does not know what the effect of it is, and who does not realise that it is inflicting a blow, and perhaps a fatal blow, at our Parliamentary institutions. There has never been anything like it in any Parliament in the world, except at a time of 667 revolution. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!"] Never. I do ask the House to compare the way in which the Parliament Act is working with the way they said it would work when they recommended it. We were told that every great controversial measure would be thoroughly discussed in the House and in the country for two years, so as to prevent any possibility of hasty or ill-considered action or legislation of which the country might disapprove. What has the Government done? This Bill was read a second time more than six months ago. The two years counts from the time of the Second Reading. Now, even by their own Amendments, they are introducing a new Bill, and, if Women Suffrage is added, it is a Bill not only new but utterly undreamt of by anyone at the time of the General Election. That is six out of the twenty-four months which have gone already. And what about discussion in this House—full and free discussion for two years! The only discussion we can have is the thirteen days which are given to this Bill now. The moment the Third Reading has passed this House all further discussion is useless. You cannot alter a line of it. That is the way in which the Government are fulfilling their promise by which they induced the people of this country to vote for them, and I ask the Prime Minister himself, and I ask the House, to compare the pledge, or, if he does not like to call it a pledge, the declaration of intention which he gave as to the way in which this Parliament Act would work on the Amendment which was moved by Mr. Peel. On that occasion the right hon. Gentleman used the words with which he is familiar. He said:—The hon. Member has drawn an alarming picture of future Governments trying to carry through in a single Session a number of first-class controversial measures. There is not the least fear or prospect of the difficulty to which the hon. Member refers being realised.What does he say about that now, and what does the House of Commons say about it? We are passing in a single Session three great controversial measures any one of which would have deserved the time of a Session of Parliament; and in addition the Prime Minister, I think, astonished his own supporters the other day when he suggested that another important Bill should be carried through between night and morning after taking this Bill. Does he still say there is no fear of a number of first-class controversial measures being introduced in a single Session? If language has any meaning, the words which I have quoted show that the Prime Minister is 668 deliberately doing to-day what two years ago he declared he would never under any circumstances do. I said nothing like what is happening in this House has ever happened except in a time of revolution. It has happened before in this country. We are legislating to-day under precisely the same conditions which prevailed at the end of the Long Parliament; precisely the same. Then, as now, the majority in the House of Commons claimed the right to do anything they chose, without appealing to the people or anybody else, so long as they could keep their majority together. The majority in that House of Commons was engaged as this Government is engaged to-day; they were engaged at the very moment their existence came to an end in trying to pass measures to perpetuate the power which they held. There is another analogy, and it is an analogy which gives us some consolation. The tyranny of the Long Parliament existed only till it was resisted; it was ended by the sword of Cromwell. The tyranny of this majority, quite as real, but in my opinion far more contemptible, will be ended and ended soon in my belief by the indignation of the people of this country. [Interruption.] Give us a chance, and you will find it so. In a previous Debate referring to the increasing degree of contempt with which the Prime Minister treated the House of Commons I used the analogy of the Rake's Progress. There can be no more progress. We have reached the bottom. The Government are now in the gutter, and they cannot go any lower. You cannot paint the lily, and however long the Prime Minister may stick to the office which he so adorns, it will be impossible to do more than he has done today to add to the degradation of the House of Commons.
The Resolution which the Prime Minister has moved is one which will receive the support of my colleagues and myself. I wish also, on behalf of the party with which I am associated, and which I think in the main agrees with the time which has been allocated to the discussion of the question of Women Suffrage, to thank the Prime Minister for the way in which he has carried out the promise he has made. Whatever may be our opinions with regard to the Prime Minister's views upon that question, we are at least prepared to say he has carried out to the letter what he promised in regard to this matter. There has never been a Closure Motion brought before this House since I 669 became a Member of it seven years ago, whether the time proposed was long or short, with regard to which the Leader of the Opposition for the time being, whoever he may have been, has not said the time was too short. It is, of course, the business of the Leader of the Opposition to complain he does not get enough time, but I rather fancy Members on that side of the House are quite as anxious to get away for a week or two as Members on this side of the House, and they are not at all at heart sorry the Government have put a Closure Resolution down with respect to this Bill. It is said, of course, that this is a revolution. We have had the same thing said with respect to every measure that has been brought forward. Everything is a revolution to a Conservative mind which alters the existing state of things. I am not, therefore, troubled with regard to that matter. The difficulty with regard to all Debates in this House is not that the timers too short, but that we do not apply ourselves as Members of the House to a discussion of the real points. Members walk out of the House—I say quite candidly and openly to the House, and through the House to my Constituents, that I do it myself—because they believe hour after hour is being wasted by not applying ourselves to the points of the measure. I am one of those who believe that when a measure has passed its Second Reading it is the business of the House to accept the principle and seek to bring the Bill to the point of view which they think is right rather than to defeat the measure, and, if we apply our minds during the ten days that are allocated the time will be found quite sufficient, and there will be sufficient opportunities to discuss the problem. Personally, I am satisfied with the length of time that has been given.
§ Mr. CASSEL
The hon. Member who spoke last seemed to think we would like a holiday in order to avoid the necessity of discussing this Bill. He is utterly and entirely mistaken. In the first place, even if the Government wanted to give us another day, they could not do so. The time given to this Bill, and that is one of the points of which we complain, is not fixed in the least with any relation to the necessity for giving adequate time to discuss it. It is fixed entirely by this consideration. Unless we can send the Bill to the House of Lords by 12th February, the Government are absolutely and hopelessly in the mire with regard to the 670 financial business which they have to get through before 31st March. That is what regulates the time which we are allowed for this Bill. If they wanted to give us two or three days more, they could not do it, because even now they have not got adequate time for the purpose of finishing the financial business which it is absolutely essential to finish before 31st March. There is one point with regard to this Resolution I should like to complain of most strongly, and that is the basis upon which it is being fixed. To this Bill has been left whatever was not taken up by the previous Bill. It is a sort of remnant of time. If there had only been six days over, we should only have had six days, and I have no doubt the Prime Minister would have found equally plausible reasons for allowing us only six days for Committee, as he now has for allowing us eight days.
But let me put this point to the right hon. Gentleman. I should like to have some answer to it. In 1906 there was a. Plural Voting Bill dealing with plural voting alone. How much time was allowed for that? There was more time allowed in connection with that Bill for plural voting alone than is allowed for the whole of this measure. The Bill was one dealing with but one point: it provided that any person who voted twice should be penalised. Now on that measure one day was allowed for the First Reading, two days: for the Second Reading, six days for Committee, three days for Report, and two days for the Third Reading, making altogether fourteen days. I should like to ask the Government why in this Bill they think they are giving a sufficient amount of time for dealing with all the important questions involved when they compare it with what they allowed for a Bill raising the question of plural voting alone. They gave a Bill raising but that one point a great deal more time than they are giving to a measure which involves considerations of such magnitude as Female Suffrage, as plural voting itself, as the introduction of the residential franchise pure and simple, and the doing away with the occupation franchise, as the question of the age of voters, and, indeed, with the whole law of registration from top to-bottom. You are repealing the whole existing law, and you are introducing an entirely new code of registration for this country. But for all those purposes, for that entirely new code of registration, you are allowing the House of Commons but three hours to discuss the principles of the 671 new law to be framed. How can the right hon. Gentleman possibly reconcile the conduct of the Government of 1906 with the proposals of to-day except on the hypothesis that the Government are absolutely in a corner, and can only allow the House of Commons such time as remains over from these other Bills which they have in hand?
I am not one of those who say that Guillotine Resolutions are not under some conditions necessary. I fully admit that fact; I think the House of Commons should protect itself occasionally against excessive criticism which might have the intention of defeating a measure. I agree that the majority should protect itself. But you must judge every case on its merits, and the exercise of this power on the part of the Government should be watched and criticised most narrowly and most jealously in every quarter of the House. Unless every quarter of the House persists in so doing, the liberties of the House of Commons are bound to be altogether done away with. What are the facts here? The only reason you have to apply the Closure is not that of excessive criticism, but that of excessive legislation. It is because you are trying to pass in one Session more legislation than properly ought to be passed in one Session that you are using this weapon. You are not using it because of excess of criticism, but you are using it to enable you to force through your excess of legislation. Even the Prime Minister has said it is difficult enough to get one great controversial measure through in a Session. Hero we have the Closure continually applied simply because you are trying to get three great controversial measures through in one Session, and you are beginning a Bill of this magnitude at a time long after the normal Session should have been concluded.
The justification which is put forward for this is the supposed necessity under the Parliament Act. But those who are responsible for that Act seem to have forgotten its provisions. Do they bear in mind that Section (2) provides, with regard to Bills to be sent up to the House of Lords, that they may be sent up in three successive Sessions, whether of the same Parliament or not? Therefore it is not necessary to pass these measures in this Session in order to comply with the Parliament Act. It is simply necessary to pass them in this Session in order to avoid 672 a General Election. Your real defence amounts to this: Your justification for preventing the representatives of the people from saying in this House what they desire to say is that unless you prevent them from so doing you may give the people themselves an opportunity of saying what they wish to say. This is the first Session since the Parliament Act was passed, and I suppose it is to be taken as a normal precedent for what is to happen in the first Session of future Parliaments. It comes to this, that in future all great controversial Bills upon which there is the greatest difference of opinion and which therefore must require adequate discussion, will always be telescoped into a single Session and be subject to this kind of treatment. While I said that the guillotine might be justified under certain circumstances I submit it is not justifiable to make it a normal part of our procedure. But it is becoming under the practice of the Government just as much a part of our procedure in connection with Bills as the Second Reading, the Report, or the Third Reading stages. It is in fact becoming one of the normal stages of a Bill.
But each one of these Guillotine Resolutions must have some new feature about it. Every time our bonds are tightened, and the screw is tightened up against opportunities of free discussion. Every time some new device is resorted to for stifling debate. Every time this loathsome machinery for preventing the representatives of the people from saying what they want to say is perfected with the latest improvements. The 1913 pattern is a great advance on that of 1912. It contains some entirely new and novel features, and among these there is the extraordinary way in which you are working together the Order in Council, in connection with the guillotine. The guillotine is not enough for you; you have to use in addition the Order in Council and take away part of the Bill entirely from the cognisance of the House. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman if the Second Schedule of this Bill is not a fit subject for this House to deal with, why was it ever put into the Bill? I do not think the right hon. Gentleman will deny that the only reason for taking it out of the Bill is to save time and to prevent this House having an opportunity of discussing it. Let us look at every Registration Bill which has been passed in this House. It will be found that propositions with regard to registration are not even put into the obscurity of the 673 Schedule. They are a substantive portion of the Act itself. I should like to challenge the right hon. Gentleman to produce a single Registration Bill in which such rights or provisions as these have been left to be dealt with by an Order in Council.
§ The PRESIDENT of the BOARD Of EDUCATION (Mr. J. A. Pease)
The hon. Member himself backed a Bill introduced this very Session by certain of his Friends, giving exactly the same powers to be done by Order in Council.
§ Mr. CASSEL
I think the right hon. Gentleman is in error. The powers thus given are of an entirely subordinate character, dealing merely with forms and matters of that description. Look at what the right hen. Gentleman leaves to be dealt with by Orders in Council. He leaves the question who are to be the officers to deal with the subject of registration. He leaves the whole code of registration to be drawn up. The right hon. Gentleman has not accepted my challenge. I ask him to refer to any Act of Parliament which did these things.
§ Mr. J. A. PEASE
The Act of 1898, giving the Irish people a new system of registration, was done entirely in this way.
§ Mr. CASSEL
Again, I think the right hon. Gentleman has not met the challenge I threw out. I was dealing with the case of Registration Acts applying to the United Kingdom, and I say they have always been subject to the cognisance of this House. I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman his reason for withdrawing a provision from the Bill which he himself brought forward. Why did he, himself, in the first place put it into the Bill? Why did he thus give the House an opportunity of discussing it? Why does he now withdraw it from the cognisance of the House? I should like, if I may, to deal with one or two of the days in the timetable in order to show how utterly inadequate are the provisions for proper discussion. Let the right hon. Gentleman take the fourth day—that immediately following the discussion of the women's question. He will find that on that day we have to deal in the first place with the question of Redistribution. I will assume that that is not in order there, but it should come in in another place—in Clause 10. Then we have the question of the age of the voter. There is an Amendment down which provides that a voter shall not have the right of voting until he reaches the age of twenty-five years. That is an Amendment, not 674 from this side of the House, but from the other side. That by itself will probably occupy the three and a half hours allotted for the whole of these matters, and the result will be that plural voting will have no opportunity of being discussed at all. The question of the age of voters will undoubtedly take up a very large part of the time allotted. Now, in regard to plural voting, in 1906 they gave fourteen days to the Bill. Here you are dealing with it in a compartment to which three and a half hours is allotted. Even assuming that the principle is accepted, you will still have the very important question to consider whether the proper way is to allow a man to register and place a star against his name, removing the star from the constituency in which he does not desire to vote. There will be the question whether the better way would not be that originally proposed by the Colonial Secretary of allowing a man to be registered in all the constituencies in which he is entitled, and penalising him if he votes in more than one. When we have considered the question of what is the proper age for a voter, I think the three and a half hours will have been almost completely taken up, and consequently plural voting will be passed sub silentio, and the House will have no opportunity of considering it.
If the right hon. Gentleman will look at the sixth day—the compartment between seven-thirty and ten-thirty—a period which will be subject to deduction of Divisions—in that short period we are to discuss the whole question whether there is to be continuous registration. On that point there are many Amendments from the other side of the House. During the Second Beading stage the difficulties of continuous registration were pointed out. They were shown to be great practical difficulties. Yet you are only allowing three hours for the discussion of that complicated question. Then also you will have to discuss whether the revising barrister shall be done away with and the County Court substituted, and you will have to bear in mind the question will be raised whether the County Court is not too much overworked already to justify it in taking over this additional business. In fact, in that term of three hours, the whole registration code of this country is to be discussed! I say that it is a grossly inadequate time, and nothing but the absolute corner in which the Government find themselves could have induced them to have even proposed so audacious a suggestion. There is only one other day about which 675 I should like to say a word, and that is the eighth day—the last compartment between 7.30 and 10.30. In that compartment of three hours—again subject to Divisions—and half an hour may be taken up by Divisions—you had to deal with Clause 10, which is bound to take up the whole of the time. The question when the Act is to come into operation is an absolutely vital one. The Prime Minister, during the course of Debate on the Home Rule Bill, admitted that it was one of the gravest matters that had to be considered. I understand Amendments are proposed to be introduced into this Bill to provide that the Act shall not come into effect until there has been Redistribution, and that this will be the place where that question will have to be approached. For that you have allowed three hours, and, in addition, you take the whole of the Schedules and the new Clauses. What chance is there of a single new Clause being discussed?
There was a great meeting in the City a day or two ago at which a strong protest was made against the way in which the City is being treated. I understand that the indignation in regard to that is not felt by one side in politics only. The exception of the City from this Bill will have to be by way of a new Clause. What possible chance is there of ever getting beyond Clause 10? There is not the remotest chance. The right hon. Gentleman will tell me that there may be some chance on Report stage, because on that stage new Clauses come first, but the Committee stage of the Bill ought not to be so arranged that it is absolutely impossible to discuss these Clauses. So far as the Schedules are concerned, it is quite hopeless that we can ever have any consideration of them. I may tell the right hon. Gentleman that the Schedules are extremely complicated. A large number of Acts are being wholly or partly repealed. These Schedules are full of defects, which, unless they are examined and remedied now, will hereafter create the greatest inconvenience and confusion. The right hon. Gentleman would be well advised to give this House an opportunity of pointing out some of those defects. These are the parts of the time-table to which I would specially call attention. The time allowed appears to be wholly insufficient for the subjects which will come under discussion during the period allotted. In conclusion, I would again emphasise the fact that while I do not oppose Guillotine or Closure Resolu- 676 tions as a whole, I say that this particular Closure Resolution has not been justified by the Government. As a new Member of the House, who has received from all sides of it kindness and courtesy far more than I deserve, I must say that the way in which the Government treat us under this Guillotine Resolution, the contemptuous and derisive way, a way in which they make it, instead of being, as the Prime Minister says, a free House of Commons, the tied House of the Government, largely reduces any satisfaction or pride which one can feel in being a Member of this Assembly.
§ Sir PHILIP MAGNUS
It is difficult to speak with proper calmness with regard to the scheme for the allocation of time for the discussion of this Bill. I do not intend to detain the House for more than a few minutes in regard to a matter in which I happen to be particularly interested. The Leader of the Opposition has given examples of the insufficient time which is allocated to the discussion of the several important measures which are included in this Bill. My hon. Friend (Mr. Cassel) has referred to other days on which it is absolutely impossible even to bring under the notice of the Committee the various matters which are referred to in some of the Amendments in this Bill. The Leader of the Opposition commenced by referring to what is to take place on the fifth day. My hon. Friend has referred to two or three of the large and important matters which are to be considered between the hours of four and 7.30 on the fourth day, but neither the Leader of the Opposition nor my hon. Friend has referred to one of the most important matters with which this Bill deals—a matter included in the title of the Bill, namely, that it is to abolish university constituencies. This, therefore, is not only, as was suggested, an enfranchising Bill, but it disfranchises constituencies which have existed for a long period of time. Two of those constituencies have existed for over 300 years; the present Bill proposes to disfranchise them entirely. I have consulted the best authorities in the House in order to ascertain when it will be possible to lay before the Committee the reasons which suggest themselves to the different universities in this country for retaining the university franchise, and, after considerable consultation, I am told that the only occasion when one can bring forward the reasons which should be adduced for retaining university franchise in this country is by an Amendment to Sub-section (1) of Clause I.
677 Under that advice, I have put down an Amendment to the tenth line of that Clause. What is the result? During the three hours that are allotted for the discussion of Sub-section (1) of Clause 1 we are to consider the whole question of plural voting, a question of very great importance, to which a longer period was allocated on a former occasion. In addition to that, we have to lay before the Committee all the reasons that can be assigned for maintaining university representation and for not abolishing these constituencies. I may be told that there will be an opportunity of discussing this question on Clause 7, which deals with universities only. Supposing it were so, which I am not inclined to admit, because I have been told it is not the case, what do we find? That on the eighth day Clause 10, new Clauses and Schedules, and any other matter necessary to bring the Committee stage to a conclusion are to be discussed within three hours. I ask the House whether they consider it reasonable or right that constituencies which have existed for so long a time, concerning which, at any rate, whether we agree with them or not, arguments can be adduced and certainly should be considered—is it right that the only opportunity for the consideration of these important matters should be, perhaps, a quarter of an hour on the eighth day? The very terms of the Clause make it quite impossible to adduce arguments in favour of the retention of these constituencies. Clause 7 simply says:—
"Any university or group of universities, being at the time of the passing of this Act a constituency returning a Member to serve in Parliament, shall cease to be such a constituency."
The only possible way of discussing this matter is on the Motion that the Clause stand part of the Bill. One cannot move an Amendment to the effect that the university constituencies shall remain as they are, because it would be an Amendment in exact opposition to the Clause itself. I ask the Minister for Education whether he thinks, in his capacity as Minister for Education, he is justified in allowing the disfranchisement of these universities to pass through this House without giving more time for the consideration of the matter, beyond the ten minutes which may be occupied on Clause 1 or on Clause 7 of the Bill. I consider that what I have pointed out is such an outrage on this House and on the proceedings of Parliament, that I earnestly 678 trust that even at this hour longer time may be given, certainly for the consideration of Sub-section (1) of Clause 7.
Mr. STANLEY WILSON
I desire to support the Amendment moved by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition. I listened to the speech of the Prime Minister, but did not hear him make any attempt to justify the moving of such a drastic Resolution as this, and, from the appearance of the benches opposite, it seems that no supporter of his is going to make any effort to justify the proposal. We, who have suffered for the past seven years from the rule of a Radical Government, have gradually been getting more and more accustomed to the extraordinary proposals they bring forward with regard to every fresh measure they put before the House of Commons. Every Bill that this Government bring forward establishes a new precedent with regard to the Guillotine Resolution which is proposed regarding it. This Guillotine Resolution is more stringent than has ever been imposed in history. Certainly during the twelve and a half years I have had the honour of sitting in this House there has not been any attempt to dragoon the House in such a manner as this Resolution attempts to do. More monstrous proposals have never been made, and in my humble opinion the time-table is such a monstrous one that it is not even worth discussing in detail. I can only characterise it as an absolute outrage, and I do not believe that any hon. Member opposite will attempt to defend it in any shape or form. One would have thought that a proposal such as this would have been too much even for some of the complacent supporters of the present Government, but I suppose they will go into the Lobby and support it in the usual manner. The Prime Minister and hon. Members opposite seem to have lost every sense of honour and decency.
There is only one object in this Resolution—the maintenance of this Government in office, should there be a General Election in the near future. They know perfectly well that the country is heartily sick of them, and they know that if a General Election were to take place at the present moment, or within the next year, they would get no mercy and would be swept from office. They know perfectly well that unless this measure is passed during the present Session of Parliament, it has no chance of becoming law before the next General Election, and it is essential to 679 them in their interest, they believe, that it should become law before that election takes place, and that is the reason why we here, on 23rd January, are asked to discuss proposals such as this after the House of Commons has been sitting for nearly a year. We are asked to discuss a Resolution the object of which is to force through this House a measure which hon. Gentlemen opposite believe will have the effect of enfranchising a class of the people who will support them at the next election, and whilst enfranchising their supporters they hope to disenfranchise their opponents. They hope by gerrymandering the constituencies in the way suggested in the Bill they may be returned again to office, and thus retain that £400 that they have voted for themselves without the consent of the people of the country.
The proposals contained in the measure that is to be forced through by this Resolution are of immense importance, and under ordinary circumstances this would be the principal measure of the Session. Not only does it extend the franchise, but the Prime Minister said that it was a moderate measure and did not go very far. It really goes a great deal further than any Franchise Bill has ever gone in the history of this House. The Bill of 1832 added half a million electors, the Bill of 1867 added one and a half millions, and the Bill of 1884 added less than two millions, whereas this Bill is going to add two and a half millions for certain, with the possibility of some 13,000,000 if women are included, and these two and a half millions who are to be added have made no great demand for this extension. In the eight days which are to be allotted to us for the Committee stage, three are to be given up to the discussion of Women's Franchise, and in the other five days we have many important subjects to deal with. Plural voting will not be able to be discussed under the time-table. Surely this is not right, and no hon. Member opposite would defend such proposals as these. Beyond that we have to discuss a new registration law, and registration laws are always of a complicated character. Then the Government propose to do away with university representation. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Hon. Members cheer that because they think that by doing away with university representation they can get rid of nine Unionist Members of Parliament. That is the only object they have in view. What an admission for them to make! The most 680 highly educated vote in this country is a Unionist vote. In some countries education is a qualification for a vote. In this country it is a disqualification for a vote.
In these five days we are to discuss the new change in the Bill which is suggested by the Amendments of the right hon. Gentleman, which are of a most important character because no one probably, with regard to an important measure such as this, has ever seen a Government make such a right-about-face as they have made. We can all remember the speech of the right hon. Gentleman who is in charge of the Bill. He then made a deliberate statement that it would be an occupation franchise, and now we are told they have changed their mind, and it is to be a residential franchise and not an occupation one. Why is it? Solely because the right hon. Gentleman's supporters have told him they will get rid of more Unionist Members of Parliament if they take this franchise. That is the whole object of the Bill, and the whole reason why it is being forced through the House in the manner proposed. This change which is suggested alters the whole principle of the measure, and after the deliberate statement made on the Second Reading, I maintain that such a change in the principle of the Bill ought not to be allowed. But that will be left to your judgment, Sir, when the time comes for your ruling with regard to that Amendment. At any rate, whatever happens, we all know that hon. Gentlemen opposite in their complacent manner will support this Resolution as they have always done on previous occasions in spite of their knowing the utter injustice of the proposals of the Government. Never before in the history of this House have such proposals been made. They are an outrage on Parliamentary procedure, and if women's votes are included in this Bill by a majority of this House, we shall then have the glorious spectacle of the Prime Minister of an English Parliament supporting a policy which he has characterised as a national disaster. I have no doubt as to the way I shall vote. I shall support the Amendment, and I am confident that if justice was to be done it would be carried by a considerable majority.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I wish to draw attention to the very serious change which is now being made in Parliamentary procedure if this Motion is carried. I will first draw attention to the statement of the Prime Minister with regard to that part of the Motion which provides that the 681 Government shall have power to choose certain Amendments those Amendments not being Government Amendments. I have always viewed with great alarm the giving of the power to the Chair to choose Amendments, not because I was in any way inclined to think that the Chair would not choose the Amendments in the best possible way, but because it is so difficult for anyone, however able he may be, to know exactly what was in the mind of the Member who had put down the Amendment or in what way the Amendment might develop. Everyone knows, who has been in any way a regular attendant in the House, that over and over again the most unimportant Amendments on the face of them have turned out after discussion to be the most important which had been moved during the Bill. Therefore I have always held that what is called in the slang phrase the kangaroo has been a very important innovation upon the proceedings of the House. But now we are to have a further innovation in the same way. We are to have the Government putting into the Motion what is called an appendix, in which they direct the Chairman to call certain Amendments which they have picked out.
The Prime Minister admitted that there was no precedent for a course of that sort, and he said he was only doing it under the peculiar circumstances of the case, and he hoped he would never have to propose a similar procedure again. That is all very well, but who is to be the judge of what exceptional circumstances are? What safeguard have we that the Prime Minister himself, or any right hon. Gentleman on that bench who may in the future be Prime Minister, may not say, "It is quite true the Prime Minister in January, 1913, said there was no precedent for this Motion, and that he hoped he would never have to bring it forward again, but he did say that the exceptional circumstances of the case justified them." What is there to prevent a new Prime Minister, or even the present Prime Minister, again saying that fresh exceptional circumstances have arisen, and inasmuch as this House justified this proposal because of the exceptional circumstances, so the new proposal or the continuance of this proposal will be justified because new and fresh exceptional circumstances have arisen? Who is to be the judge of what are exceptional circumstances? It will be quite unavailing for my right hon. Friends on 682 this bench to say that in their opinion the circumstances are not exceptional. Hon. Members opposite will say "we do not agree with you; we choose to follow our Leaders, who say they are," and even if any hon. Members behind me say the circumstances are not exceptional we all know perfectly well that our protest will be drowned in the Division Lobby. That innovation alone is sufficient to justify the rejection of the Motion as it stands now. I should like to know whether or not any hon. Gentleman behind the Front Bench opposite are prepared to justify that particular Amendment? I am informed that we have not had the privilege of listening to any private Member opposite during this Debate, with the exception of the hon. Member who is leading the Labour party. I do not know whether that silence is to be attributed to the fact that arguments fail to suggest themselves to hon. Members because they have been so convinced of the wrongfulness of the proposal by the arguments of the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Bonar Law) and of hon. Members who have spoken on this side. But I should think it is necessary, in a case in which everyone will agree great innovations are being proposed, that at any rate we should know what the opinion of private Members is upon this question. After all it is the private Members who keep the Government in office. I do not suggest that they have not any opinions of their own, but I hope they will voice those opinions, and that we shall be able to judge on what grounds they themselves will give a vote which I am afraid they will shortly give.
I want to say one or two words upon the statement of the Prime Minister with regard to the question of order which I believe was put to you earlier in the day as to whether or not the Bill is a new Bill. The Prime Minister said he supposed my right hon. Friend (Mr. Bonar Law) was basing his case upon the omission of the occupation franchise, and he proceeded to read a statement from the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. J. A. Pease) and from the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Harcourt), who both said that under certain circumstances they might possibly move the omission of the occupation franchise. The Prime Minister, with his usual ability, especially when the ice is a little thin, carefully avoided the thin part of the ice and skated over what he thought was the thick ice, namely, the occupation franchise. But that is not the only omission. That is not the only thing 683 which changes the nature of the Bill. There is the giving to the Privy Council of the power which ought to be given to this House with regard to registration. That is an extremely important matter, so important that I think the Prime Minister was wise not to allude to it. I believe at least one of the Schedules is going to be omitted. That, of course, makes an enormous change in the Bill as it came to us on Second Reading. The Prime Minister endeavoured to justify the eight days in Committee to be given to this Bill, and so far as I remember the only illustration he took was the Bill of 1884. He stated that only eleven days were given to that Bill on the Committee stage. My right hon. Friend pointed out that there were several days given to a Registration Bill, which was not brought in then as part of the Franchise Bill. There were three separate Registration Bills—one for England and Wales, one for Scotland, and one for Ireland. On the First Reading there was a formal Motion, and in all these cases on the Second Reading there were Debates. Three days were given to the English and Welsh Bill, two days to the Scottish Bill, and two days to the Irish Bill. One day was given on the Report stage to the English and Welsh Bill, one day to the Scottish Bill, and two days to the Irish Bill. There was also one day for the Third Reading of the Scottish Bill. If you add all these together, it comes to twelve more days, which, added to the eleven days, make twenty-three. But the time given to the Bill in 1867 was still greater, because in that year thirty days were given to the Bill in Committee, but from that you have to deduct seventeen days which were on Part II., that dealt with the redistribution of seats. Therefore in 1867 thirteen days were given to the Committee stage, as against eight days to be given now.
Although the Bill of 1832 made an enormous change in the franchise, it did not add anything like so many new voters to the register as this Bill will do. There were twenty-two days given to the Committee stage of that Bill. What I wish to impress on the House is that we are to-day in a very different position from that which the people were in 1832, 1867, and to a certain extent in 1884. The Reform Bill of 1832 was the third Bill which had been before the House of Commons 684 and the country. Two previous Bills had been rejected. The country was seething with agitation for or against each particular Bill. Some years had passed in discussing whether or not there should be a Reform Bill, and therefore when the third Bill came before the House not only the House but the country were well acquainted with its provisions—a state of things which is quite different from that at the present moment. I think I am correct in stating that in 1867 there were stalwart Liberals who were called "The Cave of Adullam." They rejected the Franchise Bill brought in by Mr. Gladstone. Mr. Disraeli, in the following year, on coming into office, brought in another Franchise Bill. There was at that time the pulling down of Hyde Park railings, and I do not know that that outrage can be attributed to suffragettes. There, again, there was a totally different state of affairs, because previous to that year there had been other Bills, and there was a strong feeling in the country with regard to some alteration in the Franchise. That does not occur now.
I have not had an opportunity of studying the election addresses of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, but I think I am not exaggerating when I say that certainly not 30 per cent, of them said anything about a Franchise Bill. I would like to be on the moderate side, and, therefore, I put it rather low. I think I am right, because there is one hon. Member opposite racking his brains to discover whether or not he put the subject in his election address. I see no sign of any other hon. Member being desirous to get up and say that he put this important measure in his election address. Therefore, I think I have justified my statement that the position now with regard to the knowledge of the country and of this House as to whether or not a Franchise Bill is necessary, and if it is necessary, what sort of Bill should be introduced, is perfectly different from what it was in 1884, which the Prime Minister took as a precedent, or in 1832, or 1867. There is another point which is, in my humble opinion, of a very far-reaching character, and which applies to the other Bills, but does not apply now. It was to a certain extent dealt with by the Leader of the Opposition, but it was not dealt with at all by the Prime Minister. In 1832, 1867, and 1884, the passing of the Bill by this House was not the final stage. The final stage rested with another House which could refer the 685 whole matter to the country in order to give the people the opportunity of expressing their opinion upon it. Now there is practically no other House. They are bound in chains, and we are bound by the gag. We cannot speak. All we can do is to vote, and the other House can do nothing but sit and be ornamental owing to the great change made by the hon. Members opposite. Therefore, I maintain that the whole position is changed, and that if the House of Commons is to be the sole dictator of what measures are to be passed, we ought not, in any way, to limit the discussions which are to take place, and on which the whole future of the country is staked.
Let me point out what will result if, owing to the imperfect consideration, on account of the Guillotine Resolution, the Bill should become law. The present electorate will not have a word to say to it. I know that on this side of the House several hon. Members were not aware that the Bill would become law in July next year, or about the middle of next year. I know also that a very large number of people in the country—a good many have spoken to me on the subject—were astonished when they were told that if this Bill is passed under the Parliament Act it will become law next year. What will be the position? The electors to whom the Government will appeal in August, 1914, will be different from those who returned hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite in December, 1910. The electors now on the register will not have a chance of saying whether they themselves wish to have the change which is now proposed. Therefore, under these circumstances, I really do think that the least the Government could have done would have been to have given us an opportunity, by our eloquence and earnestness, to convert hon. Members who sit behind them by showing the great error into which they are falling in passing this Bill. All that is to be taken away from us, and we shall have no time to consider all the important questions which come before us. I do not know whether it is of any use appealing to the Minister for Education to reconsider his decision. I would point out to him that, after all, the Parliament Act will still run, and he would still have the opportunity of bringing this Bill under that Act if he were to abandon this Bill for the moment and allow us to obtain a little rest and a little strengthening of our faculties in order to meet again early 686 in March. If he were to introduce this Bill next Session, he would still, if he could succeed in keeping his supporters faithful, in 1915 have the advantage of the Parliament Act. This Parliament does not end until December, 1915. I think I am right in that.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
Well, that only strengthens my argument. If this Parliament does not end till January, 1916, I cannot see what reason there is for this very violent measure this Session. I do not believe the right hon. Gentleman really in his heart of hearts desires to do anything which will tend to the weakening of the House of Commons, nor do I believe that the Prime Minister desires to do anything of that kind. Perhaps an appeal in moderate tones and with moderate temper might induce them to change their procedure. I am sorry to say that there is no answering smile from the right hon. Gentleman. In fact, he is endeavouring not to hear what I am saying, because I feel that he would like to do what I ask if he possibly could. I think he is under the impression that he might be persuaded against his will, and therefore he thinks it more prudent to make notes on his paper than to listen to what I am saying. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will, in consultation with the Prime Minister, seriously consider whether the Government are not aiming a very great blow at the procedure of the House of Commons. I am not speaking in a party sense. I have been in the House of Commons a great number of years, and have taken a very great interest in its procedure. There are many hon. Members on the other side of the House who have done the same thing. I believe that a majority, or, at all events, a great number on both sides of the House, are united in their love and respect for the House of Commons. If that is so, surely the Government should not attempt at the end of a long and arduous Session, lasting for twelve or thirteen months, in which a large number of Bills, some of them of a most controversial character and of first-class importance, have been introduced, to pass a Guillotine Resolution of this sort with respect to a Bill which will deal with possibly an addition of 16,000,000 people to the electorate. The electorate at present is about 7,000,000. My forecast of the addition of males is 3,000,000, and of women 13,000,000, which will make up 23,000,000, or more than treble the present number. To come down 687 and say that this Bill is to be discussed for eight days in Committee, with only one day for Report to correct all the errors which the Government are bound to find out, even under the guillotine, is absurd. Private Members opposite need not vote against the Bill. There are ways of getting their way without voting against their party. If a sufficiently strong deputation were to go now into the Whip's Room and say to the Chief Whip, "This is more than we can bear. We are not going to vote against you openly but you must alter this, and you have got to give on a question like this a free Parliament such as the Prime Minister alluded to with such affection a short time ago, and if you do not give us a free Parliament in this matter you must give us proper time for discussion." If this is done hon. Members will get their way. It would be said that after all the Liberal party is anxious that the country should be thoroughly seized of what is going on and is anxious to maintain the traditions of the House of Commons, and has therefore come to the conclusion that further time must be given. It would be a great feather in the cap of hon. Members, and the "Daily News and Leader" would come out with a leading article proclaiming the virtues of the Liberal party and denouncing the wickedness tnd foolishness of the Tory party, and I shall not object in the least if by so doing we shall gain what many of us—I now allude to the House of Commons as a whole—hold as one of our dearest possessions, the freedom of speech in the House of Commons.
§ Sir ARTHUR MARKHAM
The Amendment before the House is one which as a Member who has been here for some years, I feel bound to support. I cannot vote for a Motion guillotining a measure of this character in what amounts after all to no more than thirty-two hours discussion in Committee and on Report. The Bill as presented in the House contains 557 lines, and you are giving to the discussion of this Bill on the Report and Committee stages, which are the only opportunities a private Member has in this House to make any alteration, thirty-two hours. From the statement made by Mr. Speaker this afternoon, I gather that if fundamental changes are made in the Committee stage in this Bill, which presumably I think would include the inclusion of women, it would be for you then to say on the Report stage whether the inclusion 688 of women or the alteration of the Occupation Vote constitutes such a change as rules the Amendment made in Committee outside the scope of the Bill. We are dealing in this Bill with the Enfranchisement of women under a pledge given to this House by the Prime Minister. So far as I am able to gather from your ruling, the pledge of the Prime Minister, I am quite certain, not with his wish or knowledge, may be ruled entirely out of order by yourself. The House must remember that we are going in a period of three and a half hours under the Guillotine to decide whether thirteen million women are entitled to vote. In another three and a half hours we are going to decide whether six million women are entitled to vote, and in a further three hours we are going to discuss whether two million women are entitled to vote. I am quite certain that it is the wish of the Prime Minister that full opportunity should be given to the House of Commons to decide whether it is the wish of the House that women should come within the scope of this Bill or not.
As a very strong supporter myself on the subject, I want to see those facilities given to the House. It might very well be—it is only a matter of construction of your words—if there is an opportunity of including women within the scope of the Bill, that such an Amendment may not come, according to your ruling, within the scope of the Bill. The right hon. Baronet the Member for the City of London (Sir F. Banbury), stated that those of us who have been in the House for some years all come to love the House of Commons. I think that is very true. But the position of a private Member for some years past has deteriorated. I think it was so even in somewhat earlier times. But it is an unfortunate fact that the Government of the day seem to usurp to themselves the right of putting whatever legislation they think right before the House of Commons and their supporters have got to swallow it, whether they approve of it or not. I object to this Bill. I am not going to discuss its merits, but I object to its whole principle, because it does not do my Constituency one atom of good. I have been returned here by the largest majority in the House, and it is immaterial to me whether plural voting is abolished or not. But what I object to is that the Government have not dealt with this question in a democratic way. We ought to have a definite pledge given to this House 689 that Redistribution should follow. I have the honour to represent here some 24,000 or 25,000 enlightened electors. For that reason I feel very strongly, and so do my Constituents, that the constituency is entitled to have two Members. Under this Bill they are not going to get it. We are merely going to have the abolition of plural voting which does not affect us in the smallest degree.
No doubt it will, so far as other Members are concerned, be a material advantage. Rut we are not here as Members to consider any log-rolling party. We ought to do what is right, and no pledge has been given by the Prime Minister that Redistribution will follow definitely when this Bill comes into operation. If you are to have Redistribution a Boundary Commission will have to be set up. There is nothing provided in this Bill, and there is no definite pledge. Therefore, for that, reason alone, voicing the wishes of my Constituents, this Bill does not help them; it creates and perpetuates an injustice. I have always, during twenty-five years of public life, been an advocate of the abolition of plural voting, but the time that is given to this measure, which is after all the question to which I am directing my attention, is really inadequate, and cannot be said to suffice for dealing with the question, for example Women Suffrage, and all the immense interests involved in the welfare of this great Empire, and the merits of the Amendment introduced to bring thirteen and a half million people within the scope of the Bill. To say that three and a half hours are sufficient is perfectly ludicrous. I remember the Prime Minister, standing at the Box on the other side of the House, denouncing a Guillotine Resolution of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London (Mr. Balfour) as an outrage on all decency. It was a Resolution having relation to the Closure on the Educaion Bill I think, but the time given then for the discussion of that Bill was out of all proportion to what is now proposed. I have looked up the figures which the Prime Minister gave this evening. He has entirely lost sight of the fact that this Bill deals with the question of registration, whereas in the Bill to which the Prime Minister referred, registration and redistribution were entirely omitted. In the next place this Bill, after being discussed for a very short time, will be passed under the Parliament Act.
§ Sir A. MARKHAM
If my hon. Friend will join me in the Lobby, I think we shall be able to show the Government that on an important matter of this kind more time is required. I am a business man, and I say, with great respect, we have far too much talking here and not enough of business. I ask the House to consider, in dealing with a measure of such vast importance as this, whether three and a half hours is a reasonable time to give for the inclusion of 13,000,000 people. I think that my hon. Friend is wrong, and that the Government will pass this Bill by the operation of the Parliament Act. The Parliament Act was never introduced for that purpose. I have never had any admiration for the Parliament Act. I told my Constituents I should vote against it, but when I came back here I changed my mind and voted for it, because there was nothing else better to vote for. Being in the position of an independent Member who had no executive power, I had either to do that or to abstain from voting. I made the best of a bad bargain and voted for a Bill which, in my opinion, was thoroughly undemocratic. I foresaw the difficulty which arises, that the whole legislation of the country has to be passed in the first two years, and that the rest of the Parliament has little to do. That is what has caused this long Session, and many of us who have other occupations now have Bills of this great magnitude put before us, and are asked not to consider what is best, but to do the will of the Executive. There is one thing in the Bill to which I take great exception, namely, the Amendments in the name of the Minister for Education. I object to legislation by reference or by Order in Council. In the original Bill, under the Second Schedule, matters affecting the electors of every member were dealt with at considerable length, but owing to the shortness of time available the Minister of Education says that, in common justice, these complicated matters connected with registration are to be dealt with by Order in Council and taken out of the purview of the House of Commons.
The whole question of registration, and the whole question of election expenses, are taken entirely outside the scope of this Bill, and which we cannot bring within the scope without a Resolution being moved by the Prime Minister, for no Member of the House has the right to move a Resolution which would increase the drain upon the Treasury. The Liberal party are 691 debarred, in the first place, from demanding that the election expenses shall be a national charge. That is not in this Bill. Instead of that, the whole matter is referred to Order in Council and taken from the purview of Members of this House, who, I think, are the people who ought to be in a position to say in what manner registration and elections shall take place, and it should not be left to the executive officers of the Crown. I think the mere fact of the Government having come down to the House and cut about 500 lines out of their Bill shows that they have done it because they are ashamed of this Guillotine Motion, and that they have done it only for the purpose of saving their face; otherwise there would not have been time to get the Bill through. As to the merits of the measure itself, I can only say that there is no benefit arising to the public service by one party endeavouring to gain an advantage over another party for what I might term tactical reasons. It must be manifest that Redistribution should follow immediately this Bill comes into operation, and in the circumstances I certainly oppose the proposal.
§ Mr. DUKE
Many hon. Members on both sides of the House, when they have reflected upon the observations which have fallen from the hon. Member for the Mansfield Division (Sir A. Markham) will feel that Parliament and Parliamentarians owe the hon. Gentleman a debt of gratitude. Upon general political questions I differ wholly from the hon. Member, but I confess, for my own part, the speech which the hon. Gentleman has just made is the only gleam of satisfaction I have witnessed during the proceedings of the last twelve months in this Parliament. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!"] Hon. Members who have sat here for many years less than I have sat jeer at that observation, but I say this in justification of it. For twenty years of my life it was the object of my ambition and effort to come to this House, and I came here in 1900 with pride as great as that with which I ever achieved any ambition. But for the last twelve months I have felt a daily sense of shame at the proceedings of this House. Hon. Members opposite do not realise the ignominy which we feel they inflict upon us from day to day in being present here to be subjected to the operations of the strong hand—a thing which has been unknown, as my right hon. Friend the Member for the City of London (Mr. Balfour) said, in 692 the history of this House, except in times of revolution. I will not enlarge upon that topic further. But when hon. Members sit opposite, not for the purpose of effective Debate upon this novel and unprecedented scheme, but for the purpose of adding their ridicule to the pain with which we regard this proposal, it is impossible that we should not be stirred to observations which really, for my own part, I do endeavour, under the greatest provocation and difficulty, to avoid. There have been times in the past Session when one has been driven very far and tried very hard.
One observation of the hon Member opposite I hope will bring home to the right hon. Gentlemen and hon. Gentlemen the fact that they accept without criticism what the Prime Minister himself declared to be novel and unprecedented. It is a test of the judgment of this House of Commons as to whether they are or hope to be a free Parliament. The Resolution, we are told, is one for the allocation of time; it is a Resolution for the prevention of Debate. If you will take out of the four or five days which are left, after dealing with the question of Women Suffrage, the necessary times for Divisions which must inevitably take place, because every question which is to be put will be contentious—there will be many Divisions, involving great expenditure of time—all that will remain will be the necessary period for the registration of the decrees of the right hon. Gentlemen who sit on that bench. Some hon. Members may think it satisfactory to sit in Parliament to register the decrees of their fellow countrymen, but I do not believe that is the spirit in which our forefathers came here, and certainly not the spirit in which I should be content to stay here. The hon. Member referred to the allocation of three hours for the question as to whether you shall put millions of women on the register, and three and a half hours to the question of whether you shall put other millions of women on the register. We used to regard it as an extraordinary thing when, at the close of one or two days' Debate, there was a question whether the Women Suffrage Bill should go to a Committee upstairs or to the Committee of this House.
I venture to say that neither you, Sir, nor any of your predecessors in the Chair, at any rate during recorded history, would have dreamt for a moment of regarding three hours or three and a half hours' 693 time as a sufficient period in which this House could deal even with the elements of these great questions. When we have a Bill for the enfranchisement of women— a series of proposals, either of which is of the most vital constitutional consequence; a Bill for the disfranchisement of the universities, a Bill for the disfranchisement of the great industrial and commercial communities where men of business centre, and from whence, at any rate so far as political representations is concerned, you may obtain the declaration of their political views, which are as important as most other views, that men express; when you add to these disfranchising proposals another enfranchising proposal for sweeping into the register every lad of twenty-one who has lived six months in one place, and when you have the further fact that here is a Registration Bill revolutionising our system of registration, but leaving the details of it to be dealt with in a Government office, I am amazed that hon. Members opposite think we can sit here calmly as an Opposition and submit cheerfully to the enactment of proposals of this kind. Nothing seems to me more incongruous to the traditions of this House than the laughter and derision with which arguments from this side are received, excepting the conspiracy of contempt and silence with which Members on the other side combine to agree to treat the discussion of these questions which are so vital to our Constitution.
There are two aspects in which it seems to me a man who came here to safeguard the liberties of his country would regard this matter. First of all, he would have regard to the liberties of Parliament. This is supposed to be a place for effectual debate, a place where argument shall at any rate be heard, where there is a possibility that it shall be entertained.
But His Majesty's Government on this occasion remove themselves from the possibility of entertaining argument, and come here with a cast-iron and stereotyped scheme, satisfactory to them and, I gather, to some hon. Members who sit on the other side of the House, but which has not been approved either by the House or by the country, and the decisions of right hon. Gentlemen are to be registered with the effectual votes of a mechanical majority on the other side of the House. That is the position of the liberties of this House. But that is not the only material matter. So long as you had a Parliament, so long as you had a balanced Constitution, there 694 was on the other side of the Lobby the certainty that if a Debate was not fairly dealt with here, that if argument was met by silence or derision, men of responsibility, at any rate in the eyes of their countrymen, looking at them as individuals entrusted with a duty which was effectual for hundreds of years to protect the liberties of the country, would say, "This is a measure upon which the proper course of debate has not been allowed." But that is taken away from us, so that we sit here prevented from reasonable discussion of the details of this proposal, with the intent that when the details of this proposal have been stereotyped by the votes of the majority opposite that decision shall take effect, not merely without regard to debate and to real consideration in this House, but without regard to those who are our masters here—although for the moment His Majesty's Government thinks fit to assume to itself the role of masters of the country—without regard, I say, to the opinions of those who are our masters here, those whom we represent and who by some means ought to be permitted to express their views upon questions such as are embodied in this Bill.
I wonder how many Members in this House have any mandate from their constituents with regard to the swamping of the constituencies with women voters. Many of us, when we have been challenged about this matter, have said that the time has not come when this is a practical question. That is the position, I know, of many Members of this House. It happens to be my own position. I find myself confronted with a Bill which proposes, equally without mandate from the country, to revolutionise the franchise, to disregard that principle of the Constitution under which the great men of Parliament in past times have recognised that one of the fundamental parts of government was to concentrate in this House a fair representation not merely of numbers in the constituencies, but of opinion in the country. You are going to pass a steam roller over the scheme of representation in this House. You are going to blot out the representation of opinion. You are going to take the most effectual means to do that. We find ourselves confronted with a proposal of that kind, unsupported by any authority of the electors. What is a man to do who equally has no mandate? As far as I am concerned, when it is proposed to render household suffrage ineffective, I shall have to consider, and many Members 695 will have to consider, the question whether, rather than render household suffrage ineffective by the revolutionary scheme of right hon. Gentlemen opposite, the interested scheme of right hon. Gentlemen opposite, we should not consent to give two votes per householder, and to trust to the common sense of men and women householders of the country to deal with the position. We have three hours and a half to discuss first of all the question whether you shall obliterate your whole basis of government. Three hours or three and a half hours to decide whether you shall make anew the engine of representation in this country. I say that the speech of the hon. Member was the first gleam of hope I have seen for a very long time in the Parliamentary situation. I do trust that some attention will be paid by Gentlemen who do not think, on these subjects, and treat them as topics for derision or levity, not only to the opinions, but to the feelings of the Opposition, and that Parliamentary methods, constitutional methods, and English methods will be applied to dealing with these great questions, and that we shall not have this last nauseous dose rammed down our throats for party purposes by Gentlemen opposite.
§ Sir WILLIAM BYLES
I had not intended to speak, but the last two speeches have brought me on my feet. They have both been in opposition to the proposals of His Majesty's Government, although one of them was delivered from the benches opposite, and one from the benches behind me. My hon. Friend behind me showed an unmistakable degree of independence, I suppose, arising from the fact that he boasted that he has the largest majority of anybody in the House. What did his speech amount to? He said he was a business man; and that there was a great deal too much talking here, and "therefore" he says, "I object to any proposal which cuts down the time given for talking." He said the Government were trying to do a great deal too much, and I rather agree with him there, but he complained that they were not going to do a great deal more. His objection to the Bill is that it does not include Restribution. That would be a trifling addition almost as big and as important as Women Suffrage. He complained further that some of the difficult and intricate details of legislation were to be disposed of by 696 Order in Council, that is to say he wanted to have added to our duties the duties of discussing those details. It seems to me that the reason which he gave for his arguments were such as to destroy those arguments. Let me pass to the remarks of the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Duke), who has been so very unhappy here during the last twelve months, and who has manifested a considerable amount of indignation at the state of business in the House. He spoke also of my hon. Friends on this side, and said that they have been heaping contempt on him. I was not aware of that, and for myself I claim to be innocent of any such iniquity. He complained also that the Government is forcing the hand of the House, so to speak. He told us that he sits here from day to day, and month to month, during all these years, fulfilling an ambition that animated him for twenty years, and which, for my part, I am very glad he realised, and he says he finds himself outvoted and that he can do and say nothing effective. He complains that our side is victorious. He forgets, it seems to me, as hon. Gentlemen opposite are continually forgetting, what is our claim to be here, and why it is that they are snowed under so continuously.
I am a pretty old politician, and as long as ever I can remember it has been the insistent and persistent demand of the Liberal party of the country, that its representatives should obtain for it the abolition of the double vote, of the plural vote. I never remember when our constituents in our party were not crying out for that. We have tried to do it. This Government since 1906 has passed a Bill which it sent to the House of Lords where it was rejected with contumely. Not once but many times have we attempted to perform this duty. At last the country gave us an enormous majority which it confirmed at two subsequent elections. We are here with the mandate of the constituencies three times repeated, and instructed to do this thing. Certainly if there is any mandate that any Member on this side of the House has got, it is to abolish plural voting. I appeal to my hon. Friends who sit for all kinds of constituencies, rural and urban, in every part of the country, England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales, and I say that this is one of the primary and most insistent demands of the constituencies that there should be fair voting: one man, one vote. [An HON MEMBER: "One vote, one value."] Nearly twenty years ago the 697 Tory party were saying that they were willing to give us one man, one vote, provided we would give them one vote, one value. Do hon. Members opposite think they are more anxious for one man, one value, than we are. I do not believe that there is an hon. Member sitting opposite who does not know that it is the ambition of the Liberal party to equalise the constituency. We would like to do so, and I would, for my part—[An HON. MEMBER: "Put it in this Bill."] You complain that this Bill is too big already, and you want to make it bigger. When there are a number of omnibuses to go through Temple Bar they must go through one by one. That, surely, is an elementary fact. What a tremendous piece of business it has been to get rid of Tory obstructions and obstacles to this simple matter of passing this Bill abolishing plural voting! What an enormous and herculean task it, was for the Liberal party to pass the Parliament Act. It seemed impossible in advance, but yet it has been done, and, now that it has been done, we are determined to have the fruits of it. You may jeer, but we have got the instructions of the country to do this. We have got their mandate three times over, and we are going to get the fruits of it and to do what they desire us to do. The hon. and learned Gentleman complained that His Majesty's Ministers were tyrannical. I do not know that he used the word, but that was the spirit of his observations. It is not that he is suffering from, or that the party opposite resent, but it is the tremendous democratic majority in the country and in this House which is bringing the steam-roller over them hour after hour, and day after day, in the Lobbies. That is what they resent. Let them put forward a programme before the country, and win their majority back again. I wish to deny one argument advanced by the hon. and learned Gentleman and by his Leader this afternoon. They spoke of our disfranchising the universities, if you can disfranchise a university. We do not disfranchise the people who vote in the university. I say this Parliament never disfranchises anybody. It has always been most reluctant to disfranchise anybody, and this Bill, so far as I know, does not disfranchise any single voter. No single voter will be in any worse position for voting on questions that come before the country than I am—that is to say, the voter will have one vote and no more, and that is all he is entitled to.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
I am sure that the House listened with great interest to the hon. Member for Salford (Sir W. Byles) in defending a matter which is not really before the House. The hon. Member has been defending a Closure Resolution on a Plural Voting Bill pure and simple, but this is not a Bill to carry out the mandate which the Liberal party have received to abolish plural voting, but it is a measure of a totally different character. This proposal is as large a proposal from a constitutional and electoral point of view as could possibly be brought before any assembly. The trouble that we are in over this Motion I think must be realised by everybody on both sides to be part of the consequences of the Parliament Act. It is very curious, but somehow when people make mistakes and act in their own interests, and not in what they believe to be the interests of the country or of the people, against the mandate of experience and of practice and of right and of wrong, the consequences always come upon themselves. We have this Government to-day as the consequence of the passing of the Parliament Act finding itself in this position, and proposing this Motion to the House of which they themselves are most heartily ashamed. It is rather interesting to see how extraordinarily nervous the Government seemed to be of introducing any proposal of any sort or kind except under the protection of the Parliament Act. Does the Government suppose every measure they introduce is so unpopular that it must come to grief if it is referred to the country? After all, in the ultimate issue that is what the Parliament Act prevents. If the Government possess that great democratic majority to which the hon. Member referred, do they not think that that majority would be largely increased if the Upper Chamber, exercising its right to refer a Bill to the people, threw out a Bill which was immensely popular and of which the people approved, and would not the effect be to strengthen that majority? [HON. MEMBER: "Why should you have that right?"]
Surely it is worth while for the House of Commons to ask itself, not from a party point of view, why is it necessary to bring this great measure under the Parliament Act at all? To my mind the only part of this Bill which ought to be or could be regarded as a purely party question, and that only to a limited extent, is the part dealing with the abolition of plural voting. It is fully recognised that plural voting 699 is at the moment an advantage to the Unionist party. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] There is nothing new in that. Is that taken as a novel admission? Nobody that I know of has ever denied it. On the other hand, it is a very great advantage to the Radical party that there is no redistribution of seats. [HON. MEMBERS: "Not at all."] One statement is absolutely as justified as the other. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] What has always been said on this side is that we are prepared to surrender our advantage of plural voting, if you are prepared to surrender your advantage of one vote having double the value of another. [HON. MEMBERS: "Agreed."] But the Government have never introduced any measure for that purpose. Even in connection with this Bill we are given nothing but vague promises of Redistribution at some future date. Surely, if a bargain were struck on those lines the Bill that was introduced would carry out not one-half of the bargain but the whole of it. The experience which we on this side have had of the way in which Government bargains and Government pledges are carried out, at any rate as to time, would not induce us to be very complacent in accepting a Bill which enacted that part of the change which suited the book of the party opposite, but left our part of the bargain to be fulfilled at some future date when it might suit the Government to introduce another Bill.
Therefore, from that point of view I say that the incidental abolition of plural voting in this Bill is perhaps a party question. But it ought not to be a party question to such an extent as to make it necessary to outrage Parliamentary decency, if I may use the expression, in order to bring this enormous Bill, not within the amount of time which could possibly be justified by argument ad hoc,but within the number of hours which happen to be available between the present moment and the time when the Government are absolutely obliged to bring the Session to a close. It is nothing more than that. There is a certain definite number of hours, and whether the Bill be great or small, whatever ground it may cover, whatever interests it may affect, whether it has the approval of the country or not, it has got to go into that particular period; the Bill is made to fit the time, and not the time to fit the Bill. That, to my mind, differentiates this proposal from any other Gag-closure proposal ever before made to the 700 House of Commons. I desire to emphasise the point that a great electoral enfranchisement of this kind ought not to be a purely party measure. On details, no doubt, opposite views might naturally be taken on two sides; but an electoral change of enormous magnitude, such as this, ought to have the mass of the public opinion of the country behind it as a whole. Will any hon. Member opposite venture to say that in regard to the great change which it is proposed to force through the House by this Closure Resolution there are any manifestations that, taken as a whole, it commands the approval of the mass of the opinion of the people of the country? Where can they derive any confirmation of that view? None has been alleged. The hon. Member for Salford (Sir W. Byles) stated that there was a mandate for the abolition of plural voting. Whether we agree to it or not, that was a perfectly fair statement to make. But it is not a fair statement, at any rate I have not heard any such statement supported by argument, that this Bill as a whole has the mass of the opinion of the people of the country behind it. In my opinion, it is the Opposition and not the Members on the Government side of the House who to-day represent the real mass of educated opinion in this country.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
Yes, the educated opinion of all classes. I dare say the hon. Gentleman may prefer uneducated opinion. That I can thoroughly understand, but I should not have thought that uneducated opinion had much value. At any rate, the country is getting a pretty good education at the hands of the present Government. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] When the opportunity comes the Government will find out what the lesson is that the country has learnt. I see no justification whatever for forcing this Bill through under the Parliament Act. The hon. Member for Halifax (Mr. Parker) stated that when dealing with Gag-closure Resolutions it was the custom for the Minister moving the Resolution to minimise the amount of discussion required and for those opposing the Resolution to take the opposite line. That is perfectly true. But it is not here a question of splitting straws over days. In the case of many precious Closure Resolutions it was simply a question whether there were or were not a sufficient number of days for discussing some particular point 701 of great importance. In this case the facts speak for themselves. It is really a waste of time to discuss them. Every man in the House knows that it is absolutely impossible that this measure as it stands, with all the great issues which hang upon it, can possibly be adequately discussed or even discussed at all within the time allowed under this Resolution. Every hon. Member who supports the Government in carrying this Resolution is taking a great responsibility upon himself.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
Does the hon. Gentleman consider that this Guillotine Motion is on a par with any other Guillotine Motion ever before moved? In 1902 the Bill under discussion had for many days been discussed without any Guillotine Motion at all. Every principle in the Bill had been threshed out by the House for days, and the guillotine was introduced only after that had occurred and when it was obviously reasonable to propose a limited time within which the discussion, hitherto absolutely free, should be concluded. The weakness of the hon. Member's case could not be more clearly shown than by the fact that he should bring forward the action of the Government in 1902 as an answer to the charge being made across the floor of the House in regard to this Resolution. No circumstances could be more different.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
If the hon. Member takes up that attitude I do not wonder at his supporting the Government. There must be many hon. Members opposite who dislike this Motion as much as we on this side do—such, for instance, as the hon. Member for the Mansfield Division (Sir. Markham), who spoke just now. It is not for us to suggest what hon. Members opposite should do. That is for them to consider. I would only remind them of the very great issues which this Bill and this Motion raise, and that they have a duty towards their constituents and the country as well as to the Government. The Prime Minister suggested that if ever we on this side find ourselves responsible for the conduct of affairs, similar Motions will be proposed. Speaking for myself, I believe that these Guillotine Resolutions are reducing the business of the House to a farce. Hon. Members opposite must see, as well as we 702 on this side, the lack of interest and unreality with which our Debates are carried on under these conditions. Speaking entirely for myself, I believe that it would be possible to carry through almost any Bill within a reasonable time under the Kangaroo Closure. There appears to me to be great reason in the Kangaroo Closure. Everybody will agree with the hon. Member who said that there was very often too much discussion. Matters are discussed over and over again, whichever side is in office. Small Amendments of no great importance are often discussed for hours, and thereby the discussion of much larger and more important questions is shut out. If the time that is wasted were turned to good use there would be no occasion for the gag. To my mind the Kangaroo Closure does attempt to meet that particular difficulty by eliminating fruitless discussion, or, at any rate, allowing the minimum of time to discussions which are fruitless and the maximum of time to discussion which are useful and valuable. I do not believe it is in the interests of business, in the interests of the credit of this House with the country, or in the interests of the House itself, from any point of view, that a Gag-closure Resolution should be introduced in regard to any Bill until that Bill has been under discussion for a certain reasonable time under the Kangaroo Closure. I do not say that it might not be that at some future time—for what I have put forward may be an ideal suggestion—I may find myself proposing the guillotine—[HON. MEMBEKS: "Hear, hear."]—under exceptional circumstances. I am perfectly prepared to say, after a good many years in this House, seeing the condition to which this House is now reduced, and the discussion of this Guillotine Resolution, that this is the culminating point to which we have been driven. This that is happening to-day must bring home to every Member of this House the consequences of starting upon a course, which both sides of the House may be partially responsible for—for I do not wish to speak wholly from a party point of view—for whatever side may have started the guillotine, it may have begun on the comparatively harmless lines referred to by the hon. Member opposite. It has now reached the point in which we find ourselves to-day.
Surely it ought to be the duty of the Government, as responsible for the conduct of the business of this House, to see 703 what is happening to-day shall never recur. Before this Debate is over—I am not referring only to the Debate on this Resolution, but to the Debate on the whole Bill—the Government may bitterly regret that they ever introduced this Resolution at all. It is nothing less than an outrage upon Parliament, upon the House of Commons, and even this Government, with the majority that they have, cannot, in my opinion, successfully and continuously slight the House of Commons, and strike such a blow against all Parliamentary institutions! One of the greatest outrages of this Gag Resolution, which has already been referred to—and I am sure I do not know how the right hon. Gentleman opposite will defend it—is that under it on the sixth day we are given three hours to discuss the important questions of continuous registration, legislation by Order in Council, County Court Revising Barristers, and an Amendment to be moved by the right hon. Gentleman opposite. This Bill, as originally introduced, was mostly Appendices, or Schedules. The right hon. Gentleman proposed to amend it, to perform an operation for appendicitis, to take out the greater part of the Schedules, and to substitute for them a proposal that the whole registration under this Bill is to be settled by Order in Council. Will the right hon. Gentleman, who I daresay will speak presently, tell us if he really believes that the whole of that Amendment of his, completely remodelling the Bill, can in addition to the other matters which I have named, be discussed between 7.30 and 10.30 on the sixth allotted day? The right hon. Gentleman cannot possibly defend that! The other days are of a similar character.
The fact is that the Government have now arrived at such a point that they no longer consider the ordinary decencies of the rules of Parliament. I personally can see no reason for having any Standing Orders at all. Why should we have any 1 The greater part of our time is taken up in discussions in which the Standing Orders of the House are set absolutely to one side. It seems to me that we should save a good deal of time if we had no Standing Orders at all. On future occasions, when we are allowed to discuss matters under the old rules we should have some special liberty; the Prime Minister might tell us that on this day or that day, or even for a week, the House of 704 Commons should again be free. It perhaps was rather an unfortunate slip of the Prime Minister when he told us that on some future occasion there might again be a free House of Commons. The House of Commons is certainly not free to-day. I, for one, do desire to enter as strong a protest as is within my power against this whole Resolution, against the spirit behind it, and against the whole conduct of the Government of which this Gag Resolution is the culminating feature. It has been a long course. I am bound to say that I agree very much with what my hon. Friend the Member for Exeter said, that he wondered why it was he remained in this House when he found it his sole duty to register the decrees of the Government. I think that the reason why we, on this side of the House, are content to remain here and continue to fight the battle is because we do believe that it is we, and not the Government, who have behind us the sense and opinion of the country. That being so, if we do submit for the present, and are forced to submit, to the rule of the majority, I think we may look forward at no distant time to a change. When that change comes, I believe that the action which the Government are taking to-day in passing this Resolution will be a very large factor in the bringing of it about.
§ Mr. J. A. PEASE
I take no exception whatever to the tone of the speech to which we have just listened. Perhaps no Member of this House has been associated with Guillotine Motions to a greater extent than I have. Speaking candidly, I must say that I dislike them. I wish some better instrument could be invented with a view to enable the majority of the House to pass into law measures which they believe they are entitled to pass. The right hon. Gentleman has alluded to his belief that the people in the United Kingdom are not behind the Government in connection with the proposals in the Bill to which this Allocation of Time Motion refers. I am equally strong, probably stronger, in the opinion that since 1895 no Liberal candidate could have expected to be returned for any constituency in the whole of the country unless he had subscribed to franchise reform or to the abolition of the plural vote. There is no question that can be mentioned on any platform by any Liberal to-day which excites more enthusiasm than proposals connected with the reforms which we are putting forward in this Bill. I will come to 705 the question of registration in a moment. I admit that this Bill is of some magnitude, but I submit also to the House that it differs from any of those other Franchise Bills to which reference has been made— to the Franchise Bills of 1832, 1867, and 1884. They enfranchised new classes of voters. Unless there is going to be an alteration in connection with the extension of the proposals to women, in the Bill which is now before the House there is no proposal to enfranchise any new class of elector in the country.
All we are doing by this Bill is to carry out two great principles—to secure the principle of "one man, one vote" and to enable that the individual who has the right to vote under the Franchise Bills of the past should also have the right to be registered. It is because we feel that we have the support of the people of the country in their demand that they should have the right to be registered as well as to possess the right to vote, that we believe we are justified in pressing this Bill forward in the way we are doing.
§ Mr. J. A. PEASE
There is not a single class of voter who will secure by the six months' residential qualification admission to the register who cannot, under some of the innumerable qualifications which exist—and which I have calculated amount to seventeen different franchises—occasionally get upon the register at the present time. They have the right to vote under our existing law, but they have not the right to be registered. All we are doing is to arrange our machinery with a view to enable those who have the right to vote to have the right to be registered. The disfranchisement of existing constituencies has been suggested by the Leader of the Opposition as a justification for the rejection of this Guillotine Motion. The right hon. Gentleman complains that it is not to be accompanied by Redistribution proposals. The hon. Member for Salford just now alluded to the old metaphor that "you cannot drive two omnibuses abreast through Temple Bar." We cannot to-day secure the passage of this Franchise Bill and a Redistribution Bill at the same time. Hon. Members admit that the time of this Session is limited, and that such a thing is absolutely impossible. The Government have been committed to the principle of "One vote, one value" by the Prime Minister. These were the words of 706 my right hon. Friend the Colonial Secretary, who moved the Second Reading of the Bill on 8th July last:—I am afraid, therefore, he will have to possess his reforming soul in patience, satisfied I hope, even if I do not expect it, with the declared intention of His Majesty's Government to introduce and to carry into law a Redistribution Bill before and in time for the next General Election."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 8th July, 1912, col. 1634, Vol. XL.]We cannot guarantee that we shall remain in office for the full natural life of this Parliament. If we do, I am quite satisfied in my own mind that there will be no difficulty whatever in Redistribution if hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite will unite with us in securing it. This was done before. I believe Redistribution is only possible through the united action of both sides of the House—that both sides must agree to the terms of reference to be given to the Boundary Commission. The question, I am told by my right hon. Friend the President of the Local Government Board, is not one which need take very long. I believe within six months it would be quite possible, after giving a reference to the Boundary Commissioners, to secure their Report and pass a Redistribution Bill through all its stages in this House if we accepted their Report. There is one obvious reason why at the present moment we are not putting forward Redistribution. It is a notorious fact, and I am the first to admit it, that in pressing forward this Bill at this particular time of the Session we intend if we cannot get it through another place to secure its passage into law under the terms of the Parliament Act. The Parliament Act was not passed for fun. It was passed because of the action of the House of Lords in times past and because of their treatment of measures of this kind, I need only allude to what happened to the Plural Voting Bill of 1906 when by a majority of over 300 it passed its Second Reading, and its Third Reading by a majority of 250, but the House of Lords rejected that measure by a hundred votes, because they objected to it for one reason or another. It was not a question of Redistribution, but it was because they objected to the abolition of plural voting. Several hon. Gentlemen opposite spoke against this Bill on Second Reading on the ground that plurality of votes ought to be allowed in this country. A Redistribution Bill, we believe, would be passed in another place, and it is not necessary therefore to include it at the present time.
Another reason why we think a Redistribution Bill ought not to be introduced at 707 this moment is that a Redistribution Bill ought to pass into law immediately prior to the time when the Government was about to appeal to the country. The precedents are all in favour of a General Election following speedily after the Redistribution Bill, and so long as the Government feel that they have the support of the country behind them in the measures they intend to pass, during the natural life of this Parliament, they see no immediate hurry for that Redistribution Bill. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister stated clearly and definitely that before a General Election we intend that a Redistribution Bill should be associated with this Bill, and therefore instead of a constituency like the City of London being wholly denuded of electors as was suggested, the City of London like all other great towns, would have their boundaries enlarged and would become representative constituencies just in the same way as every other constituency in the country. Another great objection to this Resolution for the allocation of time is that Parliament should have the right to discuss the conditions of franchise. I do not quite know to what that refers. It may refer to the fact, and that is the point the hon. and learned Member for West St. Pancras (Mr. Cassel) made, that time is not given in our time-table to discuss sections of the Bill in Schedule 4, or it may refer to the proposal that we are making to the House that we should defer the discussion of registration rules to a more convenient period. It has been suggested that the Government are postponing the consideration of these Clauses merely because of lack of Parliamentary time.
I explained when I introduced the Bill on First Reading that there were two courses open to the Government then. We could either pass rules by Order in Council for which there is precedent, or we could do what we then suggested, by rules in a Schedule, with a view to enabling the House to realise as they discuss the Bill the character of the rules the Government had in mind in connection with their proposals. We adopted the latter course, but the other course is equally fair I think to the House. What the Prime Minister said to-day was that adequate opportunity would be given to discuss these rules before they were passed by Order in Council. That being so we are not depriving the House of Commons of an opportunity of discussing these questions—the question of 708 whether the County Court should be substituted for the revising barrister and other questions referred to in the rules. These matters can be discussed when the rules are considered at a future date, and all we are doing in amending Clause 3 is to take powers in order to include these matters in the rules.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
I listened very carefully to what the Prime Minister said, and I would like to be clear about it. Does it mean that the rules will come before the House and can be discussed, and that Amendments can be moved to the rules before they become an Order in Council at all. Once they are laid upon the Table it would be too late, because we could only then object to them en bloc.
§ Mr. PEASE
That is not quite so. The rules would be laid upon the Table of the House—the proposal in the Bill is that they are to be laid for thirty days. During that period there will be opportunity given for the consideration of these rules by the country, and then the Prime Minister is prepared to give an undertaking that opportunity should be given for the discussion and amendment of these rules. Under the forms of the House it will be possible to amend them though not in the ordinary way. What would happen would be that if the House took a decision adverse to these rules they would be withdrawn and other rules would be substituted.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
Would not these rules when laid upon the Table of the House be operative as from the beginning of the thirty days and not from the end?
§ Sir HENRY CRAIK
Is it not the case that these Orders in Council when laid upon the Table of the House do not come on until after eleven o'clock, and it is only by the merest chance that opportunity for discussing them may arise at all?
§ Mr. PEASE
That is why the Prime Minister went out of his way to give an undertaking that they were not going to be withdrawn from the consideration of the House, and that a reasonable opportunity will be given to discuss them before they became operative. The Government in following this course are only doing exactly what other Governments have previously done. The hon. and learned Member for St. Pancras seemed to be a little surprised when I pointed out to him that he himself had been a party to the introduction of a Registration Bill which followed that course. The names on the back of that Bill were: Mr. Cave, Mr. Cassel, Mr. Neild. All these Gentlemen are members of the legal profession, and they introduced this private Bill, and in that Bill they adopted the very procedure which hon. and right hon. Gentlemen have condemned this afternoon. That Bill provided:—
"His Majesty may make Orders in Council for the purpose of making all the provisions of this Act applicable to Scotland and Ireland in manner which may seem to His Majesty necessary or proper for the purpose of bringing this Act into full operation."
§ Mr. CASSEL
That is simply a preliminary Order in Council with a view to bringing the Act into operation.
§ Mr. PEASE
Yes, and to enable rules to be carried out on the principle of the Bill introduced by the right hon. Gentleman. But the hon. Gentleman was only following the precedent of the Conservative Government which preceded this Government. In 1902 the London Elections Bill was introduced by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Strand Division (Mr. Walter Long), and under Clause 5 of that Bill provision was made as follows:—
"By Order in Council provision may be made for enabling such simplification to be made in the form of the lists and register of voters in London as are rendered possible by the London County Council Qualification Act of 1900."
And again, in the Act passed by the late Conservative Government in 1898, there were powers of exactly a similar kind taken, no opportunity being given for the discussion of them such as we are prepared to give, and that Bill became an Act and was passed into law. It provided:
"The Lord Lieutenant in Council may make rules for carrying this Act into 710 effect relating to the registration of Parliamentary electors in Ireland and the precepts and forms contained in or used under these enactments and for causing the lists and register to be so made up as to be available for any Parliamentary election, or for any election under any Act passed in the present Session of Parliament of a member of a local authority, and for causing lists to be made where necessary for different parts of a Poor Law electoral division as if such part were a separate electoral division, and such rules may apply to any of the provisions of the County Electors Act 1888, or Part IV. of the Local Government Act 1894, or any enactments applied, or referred to therein, with the modification necessary for adopting them to Ireland."
Therefore we are following the exact precedent which the Conservative Government set in 1898. It is also contended that as there is such substantial alteration indicated by the Government, that that is another reason why the Allocation of Time Resolution should not be passed. I do not desire to cover the ground so ably covered by the Prime Minister, in which be alluded to a speech of my own and of the Colonial Secretary, in which we made it absolutely clear to the House that the principle of this Bill was residential qualification of six months, and that that is the basis of the Bill. I stated in very definite words on the First Reading that that was the main principle upon which we confine our franchise. The Colonial Secretary emphasised that point later, and as the Prime Minister informed the House, it was recognised on Second Reading by the Opposition that the occupation qualification in all probability was going to be withdrawn. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no."] The hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh and St. Andrew's Universities (Sir R. Finlay), speaking on behalf of the Opposition, accentuated the point when the Colonial Secretary sat down, and he emphasised the fact that the occupation vote was going to disappear. We have looked very carefully into the subject, and we are satisfied in our own minds that it is impossible for occupation to remain in the Bill in the way we intended, without the wholesale gerrymandering of the constituencies. That being so, and knowing the real wish hon. Members have that this should be a fair and uniform registration system all round, and that every individual elector should be placed on an equal 711 footing and have one vote only, we came to the conclusion that although we were sorry we were unable to meet the hard cases to which the Prime Minister referred, we were obliged to prevent what would have occurred, namely, that occupation would have become the main principle of the Bill if it were left in. Now we have maintained the main principle of the Bill by withdrawing occupation, and leaving residential qualification by itself.
Throughout the whole of the Empire residential qualification is the only qualification which exists in various parts of Australia, Canada, and South Africa, and we are merely substituting residential qualification for all those other qualifications which have hitherto been the laughing-stock of the whole world. I think the other alterations which have been suggested are really those which any man, no matter how he might be prejudiced by party feeling, would regard as Amendments of a purely drafting character and absolutely suited to the Committee stage. I have put three or four Amendments down with the idea of expressing the views of the Government in order that one or two points might be made clear. In connection with local government, I stated on the First Reading that we had no intention of making any more alterations in local government matters than were absolutely necessary in connection with the reduction of the qualifying period. It was brought to my notice clearly the other day that common councillors in the City of London under this Bill would have to be Parliamentary voters in order to be able to sit on the City of London Council. Consequently I have introduced words so as to make it quite clear that it will no longer be necessary for those individuals to possess that particular Parliamentary vote, and therefore they will be able to retain their seats upon the Common Council in the City. We are not interfering with the municipal features of the City of London at all. This time-table has been drafted with a real view of enabling the House to discuss all matters of importance. Complaint has been made that we have not given enough time to discuss the question of the plural vote. May I point out that that is one of the main principles of the Bill? It has already been discussed ad nauseam, and there is not a single argument hon. Members can produce which has not been repeated again and again. If the Opposition 712 desire to criticise certain other features of the Bill, as to the age and other subject-matters, no doubt there will be opportunities for raising them. We allow considerable time for the discussion of the question whether or not the occupation qualification shall be entirely omitted from the Bill. Instead of allowing merely three and a half hours, as the hon. and learned Member for Exeter (Mr. Duke) has stated, to discuss Women Suffrage, as a matter of fact we are giving three whole Parliamentary days for the discussion of that principle.
§ Mr. PEASE
The hon. and learned Member for Exeter repeated several times the statement that only three and a half hours were to be given to one particular Amendment or another, but the Noble Lord knows perfectly well that on the question as to whether the word "male" shall be omitted from the Bill it will be open to hon. Members to discuss various alternatives, and on the Amendment to leave out the word "male" from the Bill it would be impossible for any hon. Member then to discuss Female Suffrage without discussing and comparing various alternatives consequent upon the omission of the word "male." The time-table secures that the financial proposal of a contribution, for the first time, of 3d. per name on the register out of Treasury funds shall be discussed.
§ Sir A. MARKHAM
In view of the declaration of the Prime Minister that an opportunity will be given to the House to take a free vote on the question of Women Suffrage, and in view of the statement made by Mr. Speaker that if there is any question whatever about it on the Report stage it might be ruled out of order, will the right hon. Gentleman give an undertaking to the House in that event that this Bill will be withdrawn?
§ Mr. PEASE
In regard to local government matters, complaint has been made that we have not given adequate time for the consideration of the Local Government Clause. That Clause has been inserted in order to make it quite clear that we are not altering any of the existing powers or I privileges connected with local govern- 713 ment. We are only making an alteration in the qualifying period and certain other alterations of machinery which may become necessary when the rules are before the House of Commons. We are providing under the Guillotine Resolution an opportunity for considering the continuation system as against the principles to which hon. Members have been accustomed. An opportunity will be given to consider the Clause dealing with successive occupation and the right of an individual to remain upon the register for six months after he has left a district as a resident when he is probably qualifying in another constituency during the subsequent six months. An opportunity is also given to discuss the penalties, university representation, and the date on which the Bill will come into operation.
§ Mr. PEASE
On the eighth day Clauses 7, 8 and 9 will be discussed, and as Clause 7 deals with university representation it has the first place. Instead of being limited to the ten minutes which the hon. Member for the City of London referred to, it can be discussed during the greater part of that sitting if it is thought desirable. The other two Clauses really require no discussion. One Clause deals with the rights of peers to vote, but I do not think that is a question which need delay the House of Commons very long. The Definition Clause also requires very little attention at the hands of hon. Members. For all real points of substance provision is made in the time-table which we suggest to the House, and I hope it will be accepted, because it has been fairly drawn having regard to the issues which are at stake.
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
I think a more shifty, evasive, and less straightforward speech was never delivered by a Minister at that box. The right hon. Gentleman pays lip service to Redistribution. When we asked whether hon. Members opposite would support an Amendment to secure that this Bill shall not come into operation until a Redistribution Bill has been passed, we were told "Certainly not, we shall do nothing of the kind," evidently contemplating the possibility of bringing this Bill into operation, creating hundreds and thousands of voters in the different constituencies, swelling them to inordinate dimensions, without giving any Redistri- 714 bution of any sort or kind, and practically disfranchising a number of constituencies. The right hon. Gentleman says, "Cannot you be content with the word of the Prime Minister?" Yes, this House used to be content with his word, but it has had such a shock in connection with the Preamble of the Parliament Act that it is not likely for some time to come to take the word of the Prime Minister. Other Ministers have also made solemn pledges that they will do certain things, and then they have foisted those matters on the Committees, and they have never been done, although two or three years have passed by since those promises were made. Therefore the right hon. Gentleman speaks with his tongue in his cheek. He knows perfectly well that the present Government may not remain in office, and therefore they cannot make themselves responsible for passing a Redistribution Bill.
What are the right hon. Gentleman's excuses? One is that if you pass a Redistribution Bill you will have to go to the country. Surely that ought not to prevent him putting an Amendment in this Bill providing that this measure shall not come into force before a Redistribution Bill has been passed. It is disingenuous to talk in that way. The fact of the matter is that the right hon. Gentleman is actuated by motives which are hostile to any sort of fair play between the two parties. The President of the Board of Education told us when introducing this Bill that he knew that four-fifths of those about to be disfranchised voted for the Unionist party, therefore, by passing this measure he knows that he is acting unfairly to his opponents. The right hon. Gentleman began his speech by telling us that he disliked the guillotine. May I point out that this is the most drastic form of Closure that has ever been applied by any House to any Bill in this country, and I believe in any other country. If the right hon. Gentleman dislikes the guillotine so much, why does he bring it in? Why, as a Member of the Cabinet, does he not insist that such a Resolution as this shall not be applied? The right hon. Gentleman ought to be the last to deprive the Opposition of perfect freedom of debate in discussing this Bill, because he has obtained the Second Reading of this measure by false pretences. He led this House by the strongest possible language in introducing this Bill to believe it was founded on a residential qualification and 715 an occupation qualification. Let me remind him once again what he said:—Residence is to be the chief qualification in future for Parliamentary voters in this country. We think that it will not be necessary for us to define what residence is. I am informed it is easily translatable in any Court if occasion should arise.I do not think he will find it so.Occupation is in many cases even a better test of a man's interest in a locality than his residence, but the interest that a man has in the locality in which he lives is the main principle upon which we found our franchise.Yes, interest in connection with occupation, as the right hon. Gentleman went on to show:—An individual, who owns a factory, foundry, or farm, may himself be resident outside the area in which that farm, factory, or foundry is situated. Therefore, we include the occupation franchise as well as the residential, and for the purpose of the Parliamentary Register no other franchise will be entertained."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th June, 1912, cols. 1333–4.]Stronger language was never used. Where is the owner of the foundry, the farm, and the factory now, the man whom the right hon. Gentleman told this House was, of all people, the one who ought to be enfranchised? Where is he now? Disfranchised, if the Amendment which the right hon. Gentleman has put down, is carried.
§ Mr. HAYES FISHER
Then what was the use of the argument of the right hon. Gentleman? That was not the only pas-sago; one other will suffice. This is also what the right hon. Gentleman said:—There will he under the new lists four categories of voters upon the register. There will be the occupier—He put him first and not second—who will be qualified both for local government as well as for Parliamentary voting; there will be the residential voter,"—not put first, but second—qnaliiied only for Parliamentary purposes: and there will be the lodger and owner, qualified only for the local register."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th June, 1912, col. 1843.]The Prime Minister has put the right hon. Gentleman aside. "Oh," he said, "you should not listen to the President of the Board of Education. After all, he is nobody; the person who really ought to be listened to is the Colonial Secretary." There are others who spoke in this Debate from the Front Bench. There was someone to whom we always listen with pleasure, and that was the Solicitor-General. What did he say? Answering my hon. Friend the Member for Hammersmith (Sir W. Bull), he said:—Some people would he residents under this Bill and not occupier, and some would he occupiers and not residents, but whichever they are they will get a vote.716 That is the Solicitor-General. I think the Prime Minister must have forgotten that. The Solicitor-General continued:—The object is to ensure that a man shall not be excluded because by the technicalities of our law though he is an occupier he is not a resident, and although he is a resident he is not an occupier. We give a vote to both."—[OFFICIAL, REPORT, 17th June, 1912, col. 1895.]It was on that introduction and on that interpretation of the Bill the House passed the Second Reading. The Bill, if it be amended by the right hon. Gentleman, will not be the Bill to which the House has given a Second Reading; it will be a different Bill altogether, based on a different franchise qualification. The right hon. Gentleman said, "Although I, the President of the Board of Education, in introducing the Bill, laid such tremendous importance and stress on this occupation franchise, some hon. Gentleman on the other side of the House took it from me that we were going to drop half the qualification in our Bill, and therefore they must all have taken it in that sense." Let me say I did not, and I do not believe one in a hundred of my hon. Friends took it' in that sense. After all, we are accustomed to think Ministers mean what they say, and we are not accustomed to a Government which speaks with two voices or to a Prime Minister who throws over his principal colleague who introduced the measure in favour of a colleague who, after all, so far as that particular Bill is concerned, is only a man of secondary importance. Still less do we think, when a right hon. Gentleman introduces a Bill in a certain form in a speech of this strong character, and he is supported by the Solicitor-General in his interpretation of the Bill, we are to be cheated out of the measure which was passed by the House on the Second Reading and find ourselves face to face with a Bill of an altogether different character.
The right hon. Gentleman is the very last person who should be a party to forcing on this House a drastic Resolution of this kind. This is a Bill, as he himself has admitted, of perfectly enormous magnitude. I know he seeks to belittle it very-much, but it may possibly enfranchise 15,000,000 people; it must in any case enfranchise 2,500,000, and disfranchise 500,000 people. "Oh," says the right hon. Gentleman, "this is really a very small Bill compared with the great Reform Bills of 1832, 1867, and 1884; it does not enfranchise any new class." I do not know what the right hon. Gentleman means by a 717 "class"; I wish he would define it. It certainly will enfranchise a great many people who could not be entitled to a vote under the law as it exists. There is a very great difference between this Bill and any of the other Bills; either the Bill of 1832 or 1867 or 1884. It enfranchises far more people than any of those Bills. This is a great disfranchising measure as well as an enfranchising measure. More than that, it not only disfranchises something like 500,000 people who have votes at the present time, but it deprives nine university Members of their seats, and will, so far as we can see at present, deprive the City of London as a commercial centre of its Members. It disfranchises many of the large commercial centres, for this reason: If you add millions of voters generally throughout the country to large Metropolitan constituencies and constituencies outside the Metropolis, large urban and suburban constituencies, you must obviously when you have a Redistribution Bill disfranchise and dismember, I believe, something like 100 places that have Members now. Therefore, you must in connection with this measure, discuss the whole of the consequences of enfranchising some milions of voters, possibly 15,000,000. One of the consequences of that is that you will have the country more or less cut up into equal areas with an equal number of voters, and all those great objects which Mr. Gladstone always sought to achieve—trying, if possible, to get represented the characteristics, the idiosyncracies, if you like to call them so, and the peculiarities of various parts of the United Kingdom—will be lost. None of them can be achieved. You will have a kind of equal system, with equal constituencies representing the same kind of class and the same kind of quality of voter—the same interests and the same objects.
We ought to be allowed to discuss this Bill at very great length because it must affect an enormous number of constituencies in which I will undertake to say hon. Gentlemen opposite have never raised their voice to show the possibility of this Bill disfranchising them. This Bill must have as one result a change in the relative numbers of Members given to England and Scotland and to England and Wales. Whenever we have a Redistribution Bill we shall be bound with many millions of people added to the franchise to consider the question of the relative importance of certain Scotch constituencies to English constituencies, and of 718 English constituencies to Welsh constituencies. I am not at all sure if we had had this Bill before the Home Rule Bill, even hon. Gentlemen opposite would have consented to the forty-two Members from Ireland being imported into this House. Many a great question must come up in consideration of the enlargement of the franchise by the addition of some millions of people. I recollect the spirit of the House and of the promoters of the Bill when the Corrupt Practices Act was passed. It was a spirit with which I entirely agreed. It was that this House should not be the sole resort of very rich and wealthy people. One of the great objects of the Corrupt Practices Act was to cut down the expenses of contesting seats. This Bill is going to enormously raise, in some cases almost double, the expenses connected with contesting seats. My own Constituency, instead of costing £1,300 will cost well over £2,000. That may be a matter of no importance to millionaires opposite, but to those who have never achieved the honour and glory of paying Super-tax it is a matter of serious consideration. It is a very serious matter to all those who do not wish to be tied by the party machine and who desire to be independent of it. I am on the side of those who wish to reduce the expenses in connection with elections rather than increase them. I think there is very much to be said, although I am against the payment of Members and the payment of election expenses as a whole, for the payment of the returning officer's expenses, which are such a very large item in election contests. That is a matter after all about which, I undertake to say, very few Members of this House talk, namely, the effect that this Bill must have if passed without any corresponding Amendment in the Corrupt Practices Act, which governs the expenditure at elections, and the effect which the Bill must have in preventing many very desirable people from contesting seats and so becoming Members of this House. These are questions which the right hon. Gentleman passes over; and these great changes he brings into his Bill while depriving this House of any really effective criticism of the Orders in Council. He makes light of it, but the matter is one of the utmost importance. It is one of the important matters we want to discuss. I have put down a good many Amendments, not with the idea of wrecking the Bill or of defeating it, but Amendments agreed upon by the 719 county council without respect to party. I apprehend, however, that I shall have no opportunity of discussing most of those Amendments; they will be swept aside. We shall not be allowed to discuss any of the questions which the right hon. Gentleman himself has admitted are of great importance. We shall not be able to discuss the rules relating to continuous registration and matters of that kind.
The right hon. Gentleman said it would only be fair to the House that these matters should be put into the Schedules of the Bill and that the House should have some opportunity of discussing these very important points. If that were fair to the House on the occasion of the discussion on the Plural Voting Bill, why is it not fair now? Just because it suits the right hon. Gentleman to shorten the discussion of this Bill he has decided to withdraw all these important portions from any real criticism. He tells us that some day or other these Orders in Council will be laid on the Table, and on some day, I presume after half-past Ten at night, we shall have an opportunity afforded us, in an empty House, under some Gag Resolution invented by the Government, of discussing all these questions which vitally affect the whole problem of continuous registration and the qualification for the vote. You may take away from hundreds of thousands of people the vote they want, and you may do that by an Order in Council which will be made to operate most unfairly against the party opposed to the Government. These are only some of the reasons why we ought to have a very full opportunity of discussing this Bill. There never was a Bill, I think, which was more unsuited for this most drastic "form of Closure. We, who have been in this House for a length of time— I have now been in it for a period of over twenty years—recognise that, under modern circumstances, you must for your big Bills have some form of guillotine or Closure. But I do not think there is a man in this House who will not agree with the hon. Baronet the Member for Mansfield, who has spoken out so manfully to-day, that the time given for the discussion of this Bill is altogether inadequate, and that the Opposition are being treated most unfairly in this matter by the Government. I agree in thinking that this is the very worst form of Closure that has ever been invented. It is not a form of Closure under which this House ought to be asked to discuss questions of the greatest pos- 720 sible importance involving issues that cannot be foreseen at the present time, involving views that have never been put before the constituencies at any time, and involving, as I think, the liberties of this House as well as degrading this House. I believe that if Ministers persevere with this proposal, it will one day be said, and said truly of them, that they have committed a crime against the Constitution.
§ Mr. CARR-GOMM
I think it is a matter of importance that hon. Members opposite should have admitted that some form of Guillotine Resolution is necessary, if the Government desires to bring before the House any large measure of reform. For my part, speaking as a private Member who rarely takes part in the Debate, I have to say I trust the time will come when some better means for securing adequate discussion will be found than are embodied in this Resolution. There was a point raised by the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Education, to which I should like to allude. He said that he had probably had more to do with Guillotine Resolutions than perhaps any other Member of this House. If he has had more to do with such Resolutions I am astonished it never occurred to him before that there is something very vital missing from the Resolutions with which he has been associated It seems to me that the present form of guillotine is wholly inadequate. We have been asked, is there anybody on this side who will stand up cheerfully to support this Resolution? I for my part do not support it cheerfully. But I say if we have to have such a Resolution it should be a thorough one. It seems to me quite useless, if the Government wish to secure sufficient discussion, to set bounds upon the whole House in regard to Debate, but to set no bound upon individual Members. If it is necessary for us as a House to put ourselves, before we enter upon a large measure like this, into a kind of straight-waistcoat surely we ought to apply that uncomfortable disciplinary garment to ourselves individually.
Every single compartment so carefully set out by the right hon. Gentleman can be easily destroyed and made useless by a few Members talking at very great length. I have often heard it said, why not make the compartment smaller as then you would secure sufficient discussion upon each Clause? But that would not be any good at all if men are to be allowed to talk at 721 any length. For my part, speaking as a private Member, I have to say that this Motion of the right hon. Gentleman is worded in a way that appeals to me. He speaks of drastic limitations; but I want those limitations to be even more drastic. I want to see a proper limit put upon all speakers during the discussion of these Clauses. What the Government want is a business-like discussion; and what the private Member wants is the power to put his point of view, or the point of view of his constituency, before the House. Why, in Heaven's name, are we to allow these Resolutions to be set up time after time and to be set at nought by a few Members who may wish to defeat them? I think I am making a practical suggestion. It is a suggestion which could easily be carried out in any future Resolution of this kind. I realise it could not very easily be done in this particular Resolution, but if all Governments are committed to the principle of this Guillotine Resolution, then let us have it in a practical form. Let it enable private Members to compete on equal terms with Front Bench speakers. What happens now? An Amendment is brought forward; there are speeches of considerable length made by occupants of both Front Benches, and Members behind them have to put their notes into their pockets to use them, if they can, upon the platforms in their constituencies. I put this very earnestly to the representative of the Government here. I think it would be in the interests of the Government to see this carried out. It would also be very largely in the interests of the Chair, for I believe one of the most painful things which affects speakers in this House is what I may call Second Reading-itis—that is, the tendency to import into discussions in Committee Second Reading principles. Try as the Chair will, it is impossible to prevent many hon. Members from speaking of the iniquities of the Bill at large. If an hon. Member has only a comparatively short time in which to put his points, he will put them in a businesslike form, more Members can take part in the Debate, and more Amendments can be discussed, while the Government itself can secure a fairer and more equal working of the guillotine system. It is not a perfect system, and we have not in any way arrived at the ultimate form it should take. If it is employed in the future, I urge that it should be made not less drastic but more drastic.
§ Sir WILLIAM BULL
I think that this House has been tricked in regard to this Bill on the Second Reading; therefore, after what the Minister for Education has said, we ought to have more information in regard to the rules which are going to be made by Order in Council. So far as I can see, these rules will be considerably longer than is supposed; they will practically be a Bill; therefore the Government ought to inform us of the exact procedure which is going to be adopted in regard to them. The Minister for Education, answering my right hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. Hayes Fisher), did not go fully into the matter. I understand that these rules are to be made by Order in Council, which means that the Government can, in one of their offices, prepare these rules exactly as they please, get them passed as an Order in Council, and they will then lie on this Table for a period of thirty days, after which they will become the law of the land. I am aware that during that period an Address can be presented to the King to vary or reject them, but there will be practically no opportunity afforded to us for discussing them in detail, and more gerrymandering will be done under these rules than under the Bill itself. It seems, from what the Minister for Education said, that if the House chooses it may reject them en bloc. That we are not able to do, because the majority is with the Government, and it is therefore absurd to say that the House can reject them en bloc. But we should have some opportunity of amending them if there were a chance of discussion. The Minister for Education promised that there should be some form of discussion, but did not indicate what it would be. I suspect that all the discussion we shall get will be, perhaps, half an hour after 10.30 or 11.0 at night. I urge most strongly that this matter ought not to be left where it is, and that we ought to have some explanation from the Government as to how they intend to place these rules before the House. It is clear to everyone that the rules will practically be the major and more important part of the Bill.
Personally, I do not believe that it was the question of faggot voting which really caused the Government, after they had made occupation votes a chief plank in their platform, to take them out of the Bill. I believe the reason they did it was because they had not the time to put the Bill into proper shape. It has been the same all through the year. As a matter 723 of fact, Members are much too heavily worked, and not only Members of the House, but the Government also. We sit here from January to December, without the ordinary recess Ave ought to have. In the old days Parliament used to sit for about seven months, and there was a holiday of five months, but it is not to be supposed that the whole of that five months was used as a holiday. It was used, as a rule, for the preparation of Bills, so that they could be properly thought out and prepared for the next Session. The officials of the House, the draftsmen, and Ministers always spent two or three months before the beginning of a Session an considering their Bills, so that they were well digested before they were introduced to the House. All that is now at an end. It is apparent to everyone that Ministers are overworked, and that they have not the time to consider Bills that they ought to have. What is the result? We have sloppy and slovenly legislation of the worst kind, which will cost the country in legal expenses, in time to come, an immense amount of money. Look at the hurried and hasty legislation in connection with the Shops Act. That Bill will have to be amended in a hundred directions. The Insurance Act suffers from exactly the same difficulties. There was the same haste, the same want of consideration, and the same forcing through the House under the guillotine without adequate discussion. We have three great measures this Session, although the Prime Minister promised in the House that not more than one great Bill would he taken each Session. This is the third great Bill which is going to be rammed through in the course of a very few days. I am perfectly certain that it will not work, and that it will break down.
The Minister for Education said he was going to give a certain amount of time with regard to the occupation qualification. I protest against that time being deducted from our time under the guillotine. I say that the time under the guillotine is the time of the minority and the Opposition, and to boast that he was giving time to us to consider his Amendment was adding insult to injury. The respect of the people of this country for the Government and for the law of the land is, I am afraid, steadily going down. It is doing so very largely owing to the action of the Government in regard to the way in which they pass their Bills. There is less respect 724 for the law than there was. I am afraid this screwing down of the safety valve of the House of Commons will lead to lawlessness even here. Members of the Opposition, quiet, law-abiding Members, feel that they are not properly treated by the Government, who are using the great force of their majority for the purpose of ramming through Bills ill-digested and ill-considered, and placing them on the Statute Book with the greatest possible haste and the least possible discussion. The time will come, if this course is persisted in in regard to this Bill, when something will happen to astonish the Government. I warn the only occupant now on the Government Bench that he would be wise to consult with his colleagues, and at least give another three or four days for the consideration of this Bill.
§ Mr. PIRIE
It is somewhat remarkable that from the last three speakers, who all represent Metropolitan constituencies, we should have had striking comments on the existing situation, more especially the particular remark made by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Fulham (Mr. Hayes Fisher), who told us that he had been for twenty years a Member of this House, and had come to the conclusion himself, and was sure that everyone agreed with him, that it was impossible now for any Government to hope to pass any large measure without recourse to the guillotine. I happen to have had a glimpse of the right hon. Gentleman today at a lunch given to Sir Joseph Ward, whose words will be reported in every newspaper to-morrow, who, speaking in his private capacity—and, however much he might have been speaking in his private capacity, the prominent position he has held in New Zealand, and the enormous work he has done for the Empire, makes it impossible for him to separate himself from his public position—stated that, without wishing to interfere in our domestic policy, it must be apparent to everyone that the work of this House was clogged to a degree which rendered any good work impossible, and that the only solution for doing away with the guillotine was, of course, devolution. I wonder the words of the Prime Minister of New Zealand did not strike the right hon. Gentleman more than was evidently the case, for him to come down here after listening to that striking Imperial speech, and to repeat what anyhow I do not admit for a moment. I think it is a terrible idea that we are to be doomed forever, according to this Bill, 725 to undertake every large measure of reform under what everyone admits to be a most objectionable system.
The hon. Member (Sir W. Bull) complained that we are overworked. Of course we are overworked because, owing to the want of devolution, as Sir Joseph Ward said, we have to do the retail and the wholesale work of legislation instead of putting the retail work on the national Parliament, which would occupy itself with the work which it was fit for it to do, leaving the Imperial work and great measures such as this to be undertaken by a Government based on Imperial lines. I should not have spoken except for that sentence of the right hon. Gentleman, but I agree thoroughly also with what fell from the hon. Member (Mr. Carr-Gomm) that if the guillotine is to be applied at all it should be applied, not collectively, but individually; and if we ever wish to get what we ought to get when we are discussing Committee details, business-like discussion, it is necessary that Members should endeavour to speak as much to the point as possible, and think of others who want to take part in the Debates. I join with my hon. Friend who said that the Front Benches on both sides are somewhat oblivious to the rights of private Members in this respect. However, we are assisting, without a doubt, at a very unreal discussion. This empty House of ten Members in place of an attendance, as was anticipated, of eighty or one hundred, and an exciting afternoon, shows very well that the House has really grasped the situation. To my mind it is somewhat prophetic of events casting their shadows before when we see the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Harold Baker) occupying the Front Bench. I expect this discussion to-day will end by the Bill which he has introduced taking the place of this Franchise Bill. I certainly myself, in the existing state of affairs, devoutly hope that will be the case. It will be the most dignified course for the Government to take in the situation.
§ Mr. HARRIS
I am afraid it would scarcely be in order to go into the question of devolution. I would only say, if we are to have any reasonable measure of devolution, it must start on somewhat different lines from that on which the Government has proceeded in the case of the Irish Bill. If we are to have a form of Closure it ought to be a better form than that which we now possess. But, then, why does not the Government introduce a 726 better form of Closure? I, at any rate, propose to give effect to my opinion by going into the Lobby in support of this Amendment, and I am very much afraid the hon. Gentleman opposite will not find it convenient to do the same. I think we have a very good test of a good Closure Resolution. The Prime Minister has described this Closure procedure as designed to secure that serious and important points should receive full attention, and that minor and trivial points should not occupy an excessive share of the energies of the House. These are admirable objects without question, but does this procedure secure those objects? The question is an important one, because the Government are introducing this particular form of regulating debate and restricting the power of moving Amendments for the third time in a single Session, and because the Prime Minister has declared, not that this is an exceptional procedure, but that in his opinion all Bills which are contentious in their character and complex in their provisions will have to be made subject to Closure procedure. Hon. Members opposite in the case of the Irish Bill try to justify it by reference to the considerable number of days which have been allotted to that Bill and by counting the number of words spoken in Debate on it. It requires a bold man to boast of the number of days which have been assigned to this Bill. The vice, as it seems to me, of this particular Closure procedure does not depend entirely upon the total number of days allotted to the Bill. That could be easily altered by allotting a sufficient number of days. The vice of this procedure is that it does not in actual practice attain the object specified by the Prime Minister. In the first place, I do not think it really prevents minor and trivial matters from obtaining an excessive share of attention; and, in the second place, most certainly, under this procedure, serious and important points do not obtain that close, direct, and practical consideration which they ought to have. The only effective way in which discussion of various points which arise on the Clauses of a Bill can be obtained is by isolating them, by moving specific Amendments upon which Members have to vote Aye or No.
Everyone knows what happens under this procedure. Many Amendments are never moved at all and are never discussed at all, and even those which are discussed 727 do not get that discussion to the actual point of the individual Amendment. You have continually, upon the Clauses of a Bill raising a number of points, a sort of desultory discussion not directed to any particular point. The result is that the right of hon. Members to move Amendments, which ought not to be limited unduly, is virtually abrogated, and, in the next place, many Amendments raising important points are never put to the vote at all. That seems to me to be a profoundly unsatisfactory state of affairs which ought to be perfectly unnecessary. If the Government think it necessary to allocate time to a Bill, why do they not take the trouble to allocate it properly, so that the best possible use may be made of it? It is not enough to allocate a particular portion of time to a Clause of a Bill. Some machinery is required which will secure that the various points raised by the Clause are considered and discussed. The iniquity of this particular procedure, I think, is now made manifest by the action of the Government itself. We have been told by the Prime Minister that this procedure by itself secures that serious and important points receive full attention. If that is so, why is it that these special provisions have to be introduced in order that the Women Suffrage Amendments shall receive full attention? Of course, everybody knows that this procedure does not secure that all serious and important Amendments receive full attention, and if the procedure had been left to act by itself, it might very well have happened that some or all of the Women Suffrage Amendments might never be moved or voted upon at all. Even the hardihood of the Government was not equal to that, and therefore we have these special provisions introduced. However important it may be to have these Amendments discussed—and I admit it is important—it is not exceptional in principle. Many important Amendments in other Bills are liable to and have met with the same fate. If you take this particular Bill, I think it can be asserted that many serious Amendments will never be discussed under this Resolution. Let me take one matter referred to by the President of the Board of Education, namely, whether the principle of one man, one vote should be established. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to think it was unnecessary to discuss that, but surely Members on this side of the House 728 ought to be secured the right of raising the question whether the Government are not establishing the principle of one man, one vote, without establishing the principle of one vote, one value. All the evidence we have at the present time goes to show that the Government do not propose to establish equality of voting power.
I may point out that the Secretary for the Colonies, speaking on the Second Reading, talked about measures which will make some approach to equal electoral districts. That is a very elastic phrase. That leaves a very ample margin for gerrymandering, and even apart from that, it makes it perfectly clear that the Government are not proposing to establish equal electoral districts. They are only proposing to redistribute on the old lines, which is perfectly justifiable when not proposing one man, one vote, but which requires reconsideration when proposing to establish that principle. Then, so far as I can understand from the pronouncements of Ministers, they propose to let minorities go unrepresented. They do not propose, as I gather, to introduce proportional representation. How can they say they are establishing equality of voting power? It is idle to say that a Radical in my Constituency, for example, has a vote of equal value to that of a Conservative. I am very glad it is so, but it is not a vote of equal value. A vote has no value as an object of commerce. A vote is only of value if it enables a man to give effective expression to his political opinions, and unless you propose to establish proportional representation, you are not establishing equal electoral power, and' unless you are going to do that you are not entitled to establish one man, one vote. Surely this is a question that ought to have full consideration.
What is the object of discussing Subsection (2) of Clause 3? The whole time will be taken up in discussing an Amendment by the Government to their own Bill. I do submit that we are entitled to say that the time the Government are giving to the consideration of this Bill is grossly and totally inadequate. In the second place, I venture to submit that this form of Guillotine Resolution has proved a failure. I am glad to find that I am supported in that view by hon. Members on the other side of the House, who say that a better form should be introduced. The objects specified by the Prime Minister are not attained by this form, and some other form should be found. I 729 should have thought it would be possible to set up an impartial tribunal which should say what Amendments are of a substantial character, and what time should be allotted to their discussion. We should have reasonable discussion of Bills, but as matters stand this House is never allowed to get at close quarters with Bills. All the House can do is to talk round a Bill for a certain time. In the case of this Bill we are allowed to talk for a very short time. Under these circumstances, this House ceases to be a legislative assembly; it is simply a gramophone, playing the tunes the Government choose to put into the instrument.
§ Mr. HUME-WILLIAMS
I find myself in agreement with the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Pirie). He deplored the fact that at the time he was speaking there were few Members in the House, but that may be taken as an example of the paucity of interest taken in this Bill. I venture to say that the reason for that is that it is an indisputable fact that we are even now carrying on this discussion under conditions which rob it of half its interest and much of its importance. It is difficult to feel a real interest in a Debate when you know that what you say is going to make no difference that at a certain time the Closure will become operative, that the Division bell will ring, and that the supporters of the Coalition making up the following of the Government will troop into the Division Lobby. If our arguments contained all the wisdom of Sophocles and Demosthenes, they would have no possible influence in affecting the ultimate result. The hon. Member opposite brought forward an argument which appeared to me in the highest degree quaint. He said one of the advantages of this Closure system he was advocating was that you ensured some discussion, and that everybody should have an opportunity of discussing a particular subject in which the House is interested. He instanced the fact that if this Closure was not in operation one hon. Member might speak for a considerable length of time, and render all other discussion impossible. That is in existence now, and instead of this system of Closure being less advantageous to an hon. Member who acts in that way it is more advantageous. If the total time for discussion is limited in amount, it is open to any hon. Member on either side of the House, if so disposed now, to speak an interminable length of time and practically to stop discussion, 730 because the guillotine falls and prevents discussion which would otherwise take place.
I wish to say a few words on the proposition before us, namely, whether or not the time allocated for the discussion of this Bill is adequate. After all we are not now at this time of day going into all the pros and cons whether the guillotine is a useful or a disastrous institution. Here it is, and we have to act under it. Let me remind the House of what the conditions are. Up to now in this country the system by which a man has or has not a vote depends upon his contributions to the rates. If he contributes to the rates, directly or indirectly, to a certain amount he has a vote. If he makes no contribution to them, he is without a vote. That is the system which has taken us—I was going to say centuries—but, at any rate, years, to evolve, and gradually the franchise has been extended. Often it has been altered, and sometime almost as the result of a revolution before the alteration could be carried into operation. There are many decisions of the Law Courts, of judges, and of Parliament, which have been considering and deciding the particular circumstances in which a man is held to contribute indirectly to the rates and consequently has a vote. The whole system has been evolved by the continued wisdom of generations. You are going to change all fundamentally. You are going to substitute for the existing qualification, a qualification depending simply and purely upon residence in one place for a very short time. It may be right or wrong —I am not going into that now—but it must be common ground that you are drastically altering in this one Bill the whole system by which hon. Members sit in this House. You are going to carry out a change of this kind and you are going to allow for the discussion of these new details, eight days, but only five days in Committee, because three days are to be taken up by a system, apart altogether from the system of registration and the whole engineering part, so to speak, in discussing one abstract question, whether or not you are to take one entire class and put them on the register or not.
Therefore for the purpose of this Bill, apart from that one unique question which may be treated by itself, you are going to settle this entirely new system by eight days' discussion. It would be ludicrous if it were not so tragic. Just consider one or two of the questions which are going to 731 come up for discussion under this guillotine system. For instance, in Sub-section (2) of Section 1 you provide that a man is to have a vote if he resides in a place for a continuous period of at least six months last past. Heaven only knows what that means. You have got to find out. Just consider the conundrums that must come up for discussion on that Clause alone. A man lives three months in a house by the seaside and three months in a house in a town where he has a business. He alternates from one to the other. Has he a residence in either, or both, or neither? Assuming he has lived for six months continuous last past in a hotel and has gone away for a week and then seeks to be put on the register at the end of the week; has he, or has he not got a qualification of six months' residence last past? The conundrums which would come up for discussion under this Bill are diverse and extremely interesting. Take Clause 3. A system of continuous registration of Parliamentary and local government electors shall be substituted for the existing system of annual registration. You had originally set up what this new system is to do, in a Schedule containing page after page. In that Schedule you had got a sort of revision of the entire law of the land upon this system of registration. Now you have taken it all out, and you are going to leave it to be settled by Order in Council. I join emphatically in the protest which has been made against this modern system of asking the House to settle what you may call a skeleton, and leaving the vital details to be filled in by someone else. It may be quite true that these Orders in Council when passed have got to come up for discussion in this House, but we ought to know before we pass into law a Clause of this kind, which substitutes one registration for another, what it is going to be. We know nothing of it at all.
This modern system, which is growing every day, of allowing the House of Commons to alter an existing system by means of what I may call a skeleton Bill, and leaving to someone else afterwards to fill in the details which are the essence of the scheme, is one which does not make for the public good. I really wonder that the Government do not bring in a Bill something in this form, and I do not see why they should not:" Clause I. There shall be appointed under this Act ten Commissioners at salaries of £1,000 a year, twenty 732 Commissioners at salaries of £500 a year, and 250 clerks, with power to add to their number. Clause 2. The purposes of this Bill shall appear in an Order in Council to be hereafter drafted and settled by the Home Secretary. Clause 3. This Bill shall come into operation on the 1st January, next year." You are to be asked under this guillotine system to pass this Clause 3 altering the whole registration system, and not to be told a single word as to what new system is going to be substituted for it. That does not seem to be common sense. I pass on to one of the other subjects which are going to be discussed under this Guillotine Resolution. Take the Clause 5: "If any person, knowing that he is registered as a Parliamentary elector, claims to be so registered in another constituency," and so on, he is to be guilty of a corrupt practice, the penalty of which, by the by, is that he may be disfranchised, that he may lose the power of voting or of standing for Parliament for several years, and, incidentally, he may get six months' imprisonment with hard labour. It is a trifle scarcely worthy of detailed consideration in this House. That is the kind of question you are to consider when discussing the whole of this Bill the next day. There remains the great question, which could have been so easily solved this afternoon: Are you going to bring in a system of redistribution before or after the next Election?
The Prime Minister has confined himself, with his usual discretion, to saying that the redistribution proposal will be brought in as soon as convenient, but whether it will be before the General Election or not we do not know. Are we going to have a General Election on this new register devised on a system of which we do not know a word at the present time, and authorised under a Bill the details of which have to be discussed in eight days, without knowing what the distribution of seats is to be? The Prime Minister had an opportunity to give us the information this afternoon, when a question was put to him, but all he could say was that it would be introduced at some convenient time. If he had chosen to say in plain English that a scheme of redistribution would be introduced either before the Bill becomes law, or at any rate becomes operative, and that there would be no General Election until the seats are redistributed, he would have cut out a great, part of the argument which' is bound to take place. But he purposely, or certainly in fact, left us entirely in the 733 dark on the subject, and we are left to discuss this Bill with only eight days in which to bring it into something like consonance with some of the principles of common sense.
There is one consideration, I must say, which moves me, after such experience as I have had of this House, to deprecate this shortness of time under the Guillotine Resolution. It is this—I do not think we get a real discussion upon important Clauses of the Bill. Under your Guillotine Resolution you group a certain number of Clauses, probably five, and they are guillotined at the same time. Under that practice, what happens is that the whole discussion centres probably upon the first and second Clauses, and the last three of the batch, though they may be of the last importance, are never discussed at all, nor can they be discussed in the time allowed. The Amendments put down may be of real importance, but under the practice of this House they do not receive discussion at all. How does this arise? What happens is this: Human nature, being what it is, and there being over six hundred Members of this House, a great number of whom are anxious to make contributions to the discussion, as soon as a Clause comes on for Debate, whether it is important or whether it is not, whether the Amendments are important or whether they are not, they occupy the whole of the short time at their disposal, and of necessity do so, in discussing little details, sometimes almost trivial questions, compared with the other questions awaiting discussion. That has been my experience after listening very closely to the Debates in Committee. It seems to me that in the interests of the House as a business assembly—a reputation which it has lost at the present—it is very much to be deplored that our discussions should be subjected to these disabilities.
Therefore, I do think that in order to obviate the difficulties under which we labour, and in order to give in respect of this vital Bill approximately adequate opportunities for considering it, some extended time should be given to us. I also deplore the transparent system which the Government have adopted of taking out of the Bill by means of their own Amendment, and by deleting the Schedules, everything but the framework, and then suggesting that the time allowed is enough because so very much has been taken out of the measure. You introduced your Bill with proper details and proper information, but, 734 when we come to its discussion, you see that there is so very short a time at your disposal that you will not get it through under the Parliament Act, unless you take out nine-tenths of it, and leave a disreputable skeleton behind for the House to deal with. That is the procedure that has been adopted in regard to this Bill, and I say with deliberation that it is not an honest procedure, that it is not one which makes-for the welfare of the country, and I am sure that it is an improper procedure for the consideration of a Bill such as this, which, by a stroke of the pen, is going to effect a real revolution. In the interests not only of justice but of decency, in the conduct of our proceedings in this Assembly, I do appeal to the Government to extend the time for the consideration of this Bill.
§ Mr. KEATING
It is not often I address the House; indeed, I think this is only the second occasion that I have risen to speak, and it is with considerable hesitation that I venture to occupy the time of my fellow Members whose indulgence I have no doubt will be extended to me. I should not have intervened in the Debate had it not been for the observations of an hon. Member, who remarked that it would be impossible for any other assembly in the world to get through so much as this Parliament does in the limited time at its disposal, and that he pitied the Members of this Assembly who have so much work to get through with so little time in which to do it. The true remedy, he said, was devolution. He seemed to inspire a certain amount of indignation in an hon. Member of the Opposition, who proceeded to criticise the conduct of the Government as far as their Irish Bill was concerned, and later on gave us a lecture upon one vote one value. I could not help reflecting that this was a principle which seemed to come strangely from the party of which he is a Member. During my experience of politics it has appeared to me that the Conservative party hold that Members from Ireland should not vote upon any subject at all in this House unless their votes are intended to be in favour of themselves. If they are not, then it is apparently their view that Irish Members should not vote upon any subject, as their doing so is an outrage upon the Constitution. To me it seems that they put no value at all upon the constitutional position of representatives in Ireland. I admit I am open to the retort, a retort which 735 seems to be their stock argument at the present time, that Irish Members' votes are of enormous value at this juncture.
§ Mr. KEATING
I am sorry that my in experience has caused me to be out of order, and I shall not occupy the time of the House further upon that point. I should like to say one word on the general question. The situation appears to me to be this, that we are all engaged in pro testing against a method which we all agree is absolutely necessary if we are going to do any business at all. I hear a good many speeches in this House, and it seems to me that the House is always in a state of perpetual motion and making no advance. If this system of guillotine is necessary, I think that on this question, above all others, it is necessary to have it, and I do not think hon. Members sitting above the Gangway or below the Gang way on this side have any reason to com plain of it. The last hon. Member in his interesting speech advocated that the Government should bring in a certain measure appointing so many Commissioners with many salaries, and that by Order in Council it should be presented that Clause 1 should come into effect, and that the next Clause should come in on a certain day—
§ Mr. KEATING
That is the practice of another place, and the hon. Member is not yet there. We are the representatives of the people and we demand that the business of the country should be done, and we desire the most effective means of doing that business.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
The hon. Gentleman who has just spoken at the close of his speech said that the country demanded that the business of the House should be done. We are all agreed about that, and I suppose every Member desires that the business of the House should be done. The one question is what is the business of the House? It is not merely to register the decrees of the Government. The business of the House is to be a Parliament—that is to say, a place where proposals are freely discussed and freely voted upon. That is the object I believe myself, and that is the intention, if I may 736 say so, of the inhabitants of this country and, I believe, that is the whole foundation of the success of all representative institutions. The hon. Member went on to say, and in this I had much more sympathy with him, that the guillotine was necessary. I quite agree that the situation of Parliament is a serious one. I am perfectly prepared to admit that it is intolerable that the views of the majority should be prevented from prevailing, not by force of argument, but by resort to the forms of the House. I am surprised, however, to hear an hon. Member from Ireland complain of that, for they invented the whole system that has been the destruction of Parliament. It is a matter of history that the Irish Nationalists, under the leadership of Mr. Parnell and Mr. Biggar, invented the system of obstruction which gave rise to the whole of the Closure legislation, and, as Closure became ineffective, to the system of guillotine.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
The Fourth Party were very pale imitators of the Nationalists so far as they were imitators at all. I do not wish to go back into past history, but the point is this. Admitting to the full that the majority has the right to see that the forms of the House are not used to prevent legislation, I myself am perfectly clearly of opinion that the guillotine is not the proper remedy. This would not be the place in which to enlarge upon what would be the proper remedy, but I say very distinctly that if the only resource which the ingenuity of our statesmen can devise is the guillotine, then that is the end of the House of Commons. Do not let us make any mistake about it. The guillotine is absolutely destructive of the usefulness of the House of Commons. Every little, to vary the metaphor, turn of the screw which stifles one more avenue of free debate, of which this particular Resolution is the latest and most scientific example, every one of these changes, and, if you like to call them so, improvements, is one more nail in the coffin of the House of Commons. I do not believe myself there is any doubt about that. No one who has studied the subject of the guillotine, and who has the slightest candour and honour of mind, can doubt that the effect is absolutely to destroy the whole vitality of the discussion that go on under it. I am not a very old Member of the House of 737 Commons, but on every occasion on which I have had to speak on this subject I have always used the same language. I am quite convinced that there are other remedies which are worth trying. I am quite convinced, unless somebody has the courage to put in force and in practice those other remedies the days of the House of Commons as a free Assembly are numbered. I do not mean to say it is going to come to an end this year or next year, or in ten years, but that it will go on indefinitely under existing conditions I do not believe. I did not rise, however, to make a disquisition on the general subject of the guillotine. I rose to discuss this particular Resolution, and, in particular, the provisions which deal with one particular subject. Women Suffrage. I say at the beginning that as a very convinced suffragist I do regret very much that the Government did not see their way to take this suffrage discussion outside the guillotine. I do not think that was an impossible proposal. I never thought it was. I think it was quite practicable to have that question decided before the guillotine under the ordinary rules of Closure, and subject to the ordinary restrictions and ordinary rules of the House. I do feel, as a suffragist, to subject a discussion of these changes, which some Members think are of a very revolutionary character, though I do not myself share that opinion, to the guillotine gives the opportunity to those who are opposed to the suffrage to say that it is impossible to enact so great a change as this under the restrictions and conditions under which the Debate is carried on. I therefore myself deeply regret that this part of the Bill was not allowed to be proceeded with outside the guillotine. I regret it the more because I feel very deeply, as I believe most hon. Members do, that under the Rules of this House in the discussion of the demand of the vote for women there is a great deal of difficulty. There is undoubtedly an impression, and nobody who is acquainted with Women Suffragists can doubt it, that the women are not fairly treated in this House. I am making no charges or aggravations against any particular person. They say, with great truth as I think, that somehow or another they have always been prevented from getting a clear decision on a clear issue. [An HON. MEMBER: "No."] I do not say that it is true; I merely say that it is what they say. No one who has talked with them will doubt that is what they say. Under these circumstances the 738 Prime Minister has reminded us that in 1908 he gave a pledge, which he recited this evening in perfectly fair terms, that the Government would, sooner or later, introduce a Franchise Bill—I am not attempting to quote him verbatim, but I think the House will recognise that I am quoting him accurately—in such a form that it would be possible freely to move and freely to Debate Amendments giving the vote to women. That was the substance of the pledge given in 1908. After that pledge, as the House will recollect, a very varied and rather unfortunate history of the question took place in relation to the Conciliation Bill. A Committee representing suffragists in all parts of the House was formed and produced the Conciliation Bill. That is the origin of the phrase. That Conciliation Bill was passed on two occasions by large majorities, but nothing further was done about it. Then a pledge was given in 1911 that if it were passed the next year—that is, last year, 1912—a week, or more if necessary, would be given in order to carry through its general provision, or at any rate, to give the House an opportunity for carrying it through if they so desired. That promise held good and was in effect to the autumn of 1911. The Government then announced that they intended in the next Session—that is, this present Session—to introduce an extensive Reform Bill, to which would be in order Amendments raising the question of Women Suffrage.
I think I am stating the position accurately. I am not anxious in the least, as I am sure the Chancellor of the Exchequer will recognise, to make a party speech on this occasion. He will remember that he himself made a strong speech pointing out —I will not quote the actual phrase, because it was perhaps rather misunderstood at the time—that that offer took the place to a large extent of the Conciliation Bill. There was a phrase about "torpedoing the Conciliation Bill," by which I believe he only meant that in his judgment the offer made by the Government was so much better than the Conciliation Bill as really to make it unnecessary to proceed with that measure. None the less, many thought that—I was amongst the number —that the better course was to proceed with the Conciliation Bill. I thought so then, and I still think so. We proceeded with the Bill; we obtained a good place in the ballot; we had the perfectly loyal assistance of the Prime Minister, who, when we were deprived of one day, gave 739 us another; but we were beaten. And we were beaten very largely because of one argument—I do not say entirely, because there were other circumstances, but certainly one of the arguments mainly used, particularly on the other side of the House, was that the true opportunity for the women would arise when the Franchise Bill came forward. That was an argument frequently used, and undoubtedly it had a great effect. As far as we looked upon this question from the Suffrage point of view, we looked forward with great hope to this Bill', and when it was introduced we scrutinised it very closely to see whether it was such a Bill as would assist us to bring the matter fairly and freely before Parliament.
It would not be right to conceal from the House that a good deal of comment was caused by the conduct of the Bill in the earlier stages. It may have been quite mistaken comment, but we have to remember that comment was caused by the fact that the Bill was introduced by a very strong anti-Suffragist Minister, and that no Suffragist Cabinet Minister spoke in its favour, except one who did not mention the Suffragist question. Many people said that this showed that the Government did not really mean to give a perfectly free and fair discussion of the Women Suffrage question. Those of us who accepted the view as I did, that the Government did moan to give a perfectly free and fair discussion, assured our friends that that was not so, that there 'had been perhaps a little mistake as we thought in the conduct of the First and Second Readings of the Bill, but that the Government did not mean to prejudice the position at all. We relied, and I think it is right to point this out with all the emphasis of which I am capable, on having an absolutely free and unfettered power of Amendment when we came to the Committee stage. It was for that reason that I regretted the fact that these Amendments were included under the guillotine. Now we are faced with a very curious situation. We are forced to ask ourselves and to ask the Government, Have we really got a free and unfettered power of discussing these Amendments It really is an important question, because it affects closely not only the conduct of the Bill, but, if I may say so perfectly frankly, the personal honour of the Prime Minister. I do not wish to make any attack on the Prime 740 Minister, who, I think, has always treated us quite fairly in the matter. But have we got that opportunity? Mr. Speaker was good enough to make a statement at the beginning of to-day's sitting in reference to the Bill. I was not present, but I understand that it was to the effect that if considerable Amendments, such as those of which the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Board of Education has given notice, and particularly the Women Suffrage Amendment— [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I understand that he mentioned Women Suffrage. Of course it is quite easy for the Government to ascertain whether I am wrong; but I ask them to accept for the moment the hypothesis that I am right. I understand that the effect of the statement was that if a Suffrage Amendment is introduced it will be a new Bill, or, at any rate, it will or it may be impossible for the Bill to proceed to its Third Reading.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
That is quite so. But there are several of us—the hon. Member for the Mansfield Division has exactly the same impression as I have of what transpired—several of us, I do not know how many, and a great many people outside the House as well as those within, who have formed the opinion that the true interpretation of Mr. Speaker's observations is that if a Women Suffrage Amendment, at any rate one of the more considerable ones, is introduced into it, the Bill cannot proceed to its Third Reading. He may not have said so, but I understand that is what he said. I do not say it in any combative or aggressive spirit, but I think we are entitled to know exactly where we are before we begin the discussion of this important question. I must say that, in view of the past history of the question which I have ventured to sketch, it is really of the first importance to the honour of this House that we should not proceed under any misapprehension in the matter. After all, the matter is very important. I do not know that those who are on the other side of the House are in a much better position to judge than I am. If there is any impression—and I commend this to the Chancellor of the Exchequer —upon those benches that the effect of the voting for, let us say what is called 741 the Dickinson Amendment, will be to destroy the Franchise Bill, then that is not giving the power of free and unfettered decision to the Members of this House.
It is not fair to put to them this question "Are you so much in favour of Women Suffrage, or the Dickinson Amendment, that you are prepared to risk the loss of the Franchise Bill?" Rather than that, I very respectfully submit that the Government should withdraw the Bill. It is not right to submit that question; it is not a performance of the pledge which we are entitled to ask for a full and exact performance of. This is a very important matter to some of us; a matter of vital importance, and I think not of less importance to every Member on the opposite side. I would appeal myself to the most vehement anti-suffragist in this House, and ask him whether he desires this question to be decided fairly, freely, and candidly. Do not let us give to our critics out of doors the opportunity of saying that because women have not votes they are not fairly treated in the House of Commons. That has been said. I have interviewed many people of both sexes who have said to me: "Do you really believe that, there is any chance of any of these Amendments being carried?" T have replied what I honestly believed— though it was impossible to prophesy for certain—that I believed there was a perfectly fair chance, so far as I knew that the question was to be fairly submitted and fairly and freely decided. I have said so over and over again. Not that it matters to the House what I have said; I merely give it as an instance of the kind of fooling that we suffragists felt, have been bound to say to our friends, and that I think we had a right to say. We are entitled to know, quite definitely and clearly, and beyond the possibility of any mistake, is it true or is it not true that if this Amendment is carried —I take the Dickinson Amendment as a fair middle type—that what is suggested will happen. Let me ask the Government to quite definitely make it clear, either by themselves or by using their influence with the occupant of the Chair. It is really of vital importance to Suffragists, and to the honour of this House, and to the honour of the Prime Minister, that we should know quite definitely, decidedly, and clearly, before we begin the Debate to-morrow morning, if we do—for I am assuming that this 742 Resolution goes through—whether or not the effect of carrying the Dickinson Amendment will be to destroy the Bill.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
I am not at all surprised at that interruption after reading the letter from the hon. Gentleman in the "Daily News." I do not care a bit whether it is a question for the Chair or not. It is a Government Bill. It is the Government who are in charge of this Bill. It is the Government who are in charge of the honour of this House, and especially who are in charge of the honour of the Prime Minister. It is in these three capacities that I ask them to give us a positive, binding assurance one way or the other as to what will, be the effect of carrying the Dickinson Amendment as an Amendment to this Bill. They must find out or satisfy themselves or pledge themselves to this House one way or the other before we enter upon the discussion.
§ Mr. F. E. SMITH
As the House is probably aware, I do not sympathise with the views on the subject of Female Suffrage my Noble Friend has expressed with so much sincerity and ability to this House. I shall refer to the general tenour of his observations in the course of the few remarks which I shall ask the House to listen to. I will deal with the main observation that I think everybody will agree with, whether they are or are not in favour of the concession of votes to women, that we are at least approaching in the very few days which are in front of us and allocated to this topic by the Guillotine Resolution, the occasion on which it has been stated by the most authoritative mouthpieces of the Government that it is an occasion which does afford a real opportunity for the discussion of this question. I am and always have been a strong opponent of the extension of suffrage to women. Certainly I think, as my Noble Friend does, that those responsible for this Bill, on the certain occasion of the opportunity which it was suggested this Bill would afford as one capable of Amendment in the sense desired by the women, should have acquainted themselves with the necessary formalities of this House, so far that they would be in a position, to use the homely phrase, "to deliver the goods" of which they spoke so confidently and so freely. I pass from the speech which my Noble Friend has made, to deal with the general question which has engaged our 743 consideration to-day. I start by making an observation which I will try to make both clear and short. I understand the Chancellor of the Exchequer is to reply. I will beg of him to give a plain answer to the question I am going to deal with.
It is an historical commonplace to say that all parties, when they have proposed legislation dealing with franchise questions, have always recognised as an elementary obligation, that an alteration in the franchise should be accompanied, if geographical circumstances at the moment rendered that necessary and fair, by Redistribution. I listened with the greatest care to the observations made to-day on that point by the Prime Minister. He said it was the intention of the Government that the Redistribution Bill should be carried through its necessary stages in the lifetime of the present Government, and that it is to become law. If it is carried through those stages, and becomes law in the lifetime of the present Parliament, it will act in one sense as a corrective of the present proposal. I think everybody who listened to the Prime Minister will come to this conclusion, if he meant it to be a definite pledge— and the hon. Member for the Mansfield Division understood him, as I understood him, that it was not intended by the Prime Minister to be a definite pledge—if it was intended to be a definite pledge, that matter ought to be made clear beyond all doubt before this Resolution is passed. If it is not intended to be left as a definite pledge, we ought to be told that we are committed on this point, as on so many others, to the hands of Parliamentary development in the next one, two, or three years. One knows the hopes and disappointments which recur in every Parliamentary Session. If we are merely put off with the vague hope that time may be found at some future time to introduce Redistribution, which men of all parties agree to be fair and necessary accompaniment to readjustment of the franchise—if that is a position in which we are left—let us at least be told so. I will put the question perfectly plain and clear. I ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer that question, to which I am sure he can give a perfectly plain answer. It is indeed a very clear test of the intentions of the Government. Are they prepared at some stage of this Bill to furnish us with safeguards which will make it clear that this Bill is not going to become an operative measure un- 744 less a measure for redistribution has been carried before that time of its coming into effect? Let there be no misunderstanding about this. If the Government are prepared to give such an undertaking then we shall know that the Government realise their responsibility which Mr. Gladstone acknowledged, which Mr. Disraeli acknowledged, and which has been acknowledged on every great occasion when the decision of the House of Commons was taken on a new question of franchise, that a Franchise Bill should be accompanied, if grave anomalies are to be remedied, by a Redistribution Bill. That grave distribution anomalies are put forward will not be disputed, and I doubt if there is a man in this House who will say that the anomalies in our existing distribution are not greater than the anomalies of one existing franchise. I ask the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer this question, and I am sure he will give me an answer. Will the Government tell us that they will guarantee the machinery by which this can be made effective? Will they guarantee that by some means or other at some stage of this Bill, that it shall only become effective as a measure when a measure of redistribution is adopted at the same time?
I leave that, and I approach some observations made by the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister said this Bill was less sweeping in scope than any of the great franchise measures of the last thirty or forty years. I confess approaching this measure I hope without greater bias or prejudice than most of us as a politician must necessarily approach such a measure, that I heard that statement with a great degree of mystification. The right hon. Gentleman proceeded to support it in this way: He said the addition of the number of voters is 1,500,000. One of my hon. Friends pointed out what I believe to be the fact that the addition to the existing voters would, in fact, be nearer to 3,000,000 than 1,500,000, to which the Prime Minister made this observation: "Yes, but what we have to consider is the net addition not the gross addition to the number of the electorate, and because we are taking away such a number of voters as will reduce upon the net balance the number of new voters, we are only creating 1,500,000 additional voters. It is only a relative figure and that is the criterion by which you will have to judge of the importance of this measure. "Did anybody ever hear of such an argument? 745 Consider what it means. It means this, that if in your Bill instead of introducing 2,500,000 new voters, you introduce 5,000,000, and if its operation was far more fatal as a disfranchising measure—say you equally disfranchise 5,000,000 — your answer would be, "We do not disfranchise anybody, and therefore we need not debate it at all." The criterion adopted by the Prime Minister is obviously an ineffective one. The Bill contains certain proposals which disfranchise a certain number of electors. [An HON. MEMBER: "It does not." The hon. Member must surely see that it does; it disfranchises university electors. [HON. MEMBERS: "NO, no!"] Let us not be under any misunderstanding as to this. When I say it disfranchises university electors I do not necessarily mean, nor is it a reasonable construction of what I say, that it deprives them of any franchise. It only means that it deprives them of an existing franchise.
§ Mr. F. E. SMITH
It is quite obvious that many of these men have a genuine case for in some instances the university franchise may be the only franchise they have got. There must be many such cases. But the point I am on is this, if you are to judge a Bill which confers a new franchise and at the same time deprives many persons of an existing franchise, you are not to measure the importance of that Bill by the votes it takes away and the votes it gives, and say the consequences are negligible, but you are to measure it at each stage and see what are the importance of the votes you take away to the new votes put on. I apply this criterion, and I say so far from the claim put forward by the Prime Minister being admissible, that this is the least sweeping in scope of the great franchise measures of the last thirty years. I confidently affirm that taking this measure as we are bound to take it, potentially, it is the most sweeping measure of franchise that was ever brought before the House of Commons. Let me attempt to justify that. The Prime Minister, in dealing with the allocation of time for this measure in comparison with other and previous franchise measures, took the number of days that had been given to the Committee stage of the previous franchise measures, and he compared these with the eight days given to the Committee stage of the present Bill, and one of my hon. Friends 746 pointed out to the Prime Minister that three of the days out of our eight Committee days were to be devoted to the question of the women. The Prime Minister's reply was one of the most extraordinary I ever heard from one of his clear and lucid intellect. He replied, "Oh, if you choose to put a provision for votes for women, that is not the concern of the Government; it is the concern of the House of Commons." If that is true, how can the Prime Minister possibly include in his computation of the allowance of days for the Committee stage three which are to be given to the discussion of Women Franchise.
Clearing our minds in this way, and we can have it either way, but we cannot have it both ways, how does it, work out? The position is this: We are giving in the discussion of this measure three days to the Women's Amendments in their various phases and five days to the rest of the Bill. Let me make some observations under each of these heads. Three days will be given to the claims of the women, five days for the claims of the men. I will deal first with the women's claim. I am, as the House knows, as strongly opposed to any form of the claim put forward by women as my Noble Friend the Member for Hitchin is in favour of it, but strongly as I am opposed to it, I make this observation about the limit of time for the women's claim, that it is wholly inadequate, judged in relation to the magnitude of that claim, and it is grossly excessive, judged in relation to the rest of the Bill. Let the House consider the position in which we are putting ourselves in regard to women who have made this claim for many years. I suppose whatever other view any of us may take of the women's question, no one, whether they are in favour of it or against it, will deny that it is one of the greatest changes that was ever recommended to the House of Commons. It was not debated on Second Reading, because there was no Second Beading Debate on the Bill in relation to women. If there had been a Second Beading Debate in relation to women, that Debate would have ranged, and rightly ranged, over many days of Parliamentary time. There was no such Second Beading Debate. The Amendment standing in the name of the Foreign Secretary which is to be moved by my right hon. Friend the Member for St. George's, Hanover Square, is equally necessary as the very specific and individual Amendments which are intended 747 to make that effective. You may call it what you like, but the fact remains that this Bill on its Second Reading did not include women's votes. Therefore we are practically coming to the Second Reading stage of one of the most momentous changes in relation to the franchise which has engaged the consideration of this House for the last 300 years, and for the Second Reading and Committee stage of this question we are only allowed three days of Parliamentary time. [An HON. MEMBER: "It is too much"] Really I hope we may be saved such levity in dealing with this question, and I am sorry that anyone should think that I intended my remark flippantly. I desire to defeat once and for all the claim of the women, and in my opinion the only way to do it is to allow adequate time for Debate, and not permit any woman to go away with the idea that she has not had a fair and a full hearing of the case she has got. For these reasons I say that the allowance of time made for the consideration of the women's question is wholly inadequate, and I am prepared to oppose it on that and other hypotheses.
My first hypothesis is that the general proposals, and one of the individual proposals may be refused by the House, and then I will face the hypothesis that one or other of them may be accepted. If what the Chancellor of the Exchequer, with his great influence and his great public prestige has held out to the women—the promise that an opportunity will be given to them once and for all of obtaining what they have been offered, the prospect of getting for so many years, and in regard to which they have witnessed disappointment during so many Sessions in the House of Commons—is refused, then, by the course you are pursuing, you will have offered to the women and to the supporters of women's votes a provocation as great as it is insensate. In the year 1906 this House actually gave fourteen days to the consideration of plural voting alone, and now you ask the advocates and opponents of Women Suffrage to say that three days is sufficient for the whole discussion of the propriety of admitting women to the suffrage, which may ultimately mean the addition of 13,000,000 to the electorate. I am prepared to hear that many hon. Members opposite feel very strongly on this point, and think sincerely about it, but I do not think anyone is prepared to urge that plural voting is as important as votes for women, and yet we are asked, 748 under this Guillotine Resolution, to declare that three days are sufficient for the discussion of the female question. If we defeat the women at the end of three days' debate, you will never be able to say that in that short period you have exhausted all the stores of Parliamentary wisdom and Parliamentary debate. Instead of being rejected, let us suppose that the Amendment is confirmed by the House of Commons. Is there anyone in the House who will say that a principle so far-reaching and permanent, and probably so unalterable, which has been discussed for thousands of years in the civilised world where the government of great cities has depended upon the male suffrage which has existed for thousands of years can be properly decided after three days' debate in the legislative Assembly of all the world which runs the most risk by making this novel and far-reaching experiment. Whether judged from the point of view of advocate or opponent of women's votes, the inadequacy of this Guillotine Resolution is obvious. But, inadequate as it is, we ought not to blind ourselves to this fact, that after all, in the shape in which the Government introduced this Bill, it was not a women's Bill at all. Therefore, in considering the adequate allocation of time to it by the Government, we ought to eliminate altogether the question of the discussion of the women's Amendments. How do we stand in approaching the question from that point of view? Five days, and five days only, are given to the Committee stage of this Bill. I will make an observation which can easily be disproved if what I say is not accurate. I affirm, after careful examination of the time given to every Franchise Bill for the last forty years, that there has been no Bill in that period to which at least twice the time given to this Bill under this Resolution has not been given by the free decision of Parliament.
Five days are to be given for the consideration of the various topics, and what are they? Early in the day an hon. Friend of mine called attention to the fact that under the terms of this Bill the City of London—and I may add incidentally the business constituencies of Liverpool, Manchester, Glasgow, and, I am told, at least one constituency in Birmingham—will be disfranchised. Let the House carefully observe that it is no answer to this charge to say that all the persons who are so disfranchised will have votes elsewhere. That 749 is no answer, unless the House of Commons, which represents among other interests the commerce of the country, is prepared to commit itself to a proposition, which is as paradoxical as it is shallow and absurd, that it is not desirable that the merchants congregated in all those great constituencies, with special commercial experience, should not secure some special representation in the House of Commons. If in the House of Commons, as it is constituted to-day, it is the view that you do not gain more by the representation of those cities than you may lose by a theoretical destruction of those seats, then I think it is extremely unlikely that any arguments of mine would modify that view. I submit the counter proposition that it is greatly desirable, even if it be at the cost of some trifling symmetry, that in these great centres of industry, which after all are the means of affording a great amount of employment to the working classes in the districts in which those constituencies are situated, which enriches the character of the representative faculty of the House of Commons, that those seats should be preserved in order that they may be enabled in the future, as at many great crises in the past, to make their position felt in the House of Commons. One of my hon. Friends who with great distinction represents a university seat has pointed out it is very doubtful whether under the terms of this Guillotine Resolution even twenty minutes will be afforded in order to discuss the desirability of the retention of university representation. I observe there is some tendency on the part of some hon. Gentlemen opposite to treat with a certain degree of levity the arguments that were advanced on behalf of university representation. Are you really so sure there are not at least arguments in favour of the retention of university representation which deserve to be put before the House of Commons by the representatives of the universities with the certainty that at least they will have two or three hours of Parliamentary time? That franchise has existed for many generations, and it has recruited the House of Commons with many men of ripe scholarships and of great attainments in many cases not closely in touch with the more acute and bitter of our party conflicts. I do not say it has always been so, but it has often been so, and I say it is an ancient franchise and it is a great mischief to interfere with things which in the past have done useful work and inexcusable that you should disfranchise the 750 universities without giving those who are here to represent them, and feel it is an honour to represent them, an opportunity of fully defending that franchise of which the House of Commons should rob no one without giving them the most complete opportunities of making their defence.
When this Bill was introduced by the President of the Board of Education it was my duty to follow him immediately in Debate, and I remember one picturesque sentence in his speech made a deep impression upon me, because I was unable at the moment to decide whether it was intended as an effort at humour or a serious attempt to diagnose the character of the legislative proposal he was recommending to the House. I remember he said it was a "sturdy bantling." He made an observation in defining its character which, inasmuch as some reference had been made to Mr. Speaker's possible ruling as to the alteration in the character of the Bill, it is perhaps worth while recalling. The Prime Minister made some reference to it to-day, and the House will see why I am troubling them by a recurrence to the topic. The right hon. Gentleman said this:—Residence is to he the chief qualification in the future for the voters in this country. We think that at the present time it will not he necessary for us to define what residence is.…BILL we do define occupation. Occupation is in ninny cases even a better test of a man's interest in a locality than his residence.I suppose the right hon. Gentleman did not make that statement without having considered the merits of the two systems. His speech bore every evidence of careful preparation, and, having considered the competitive merits of the two qualifications, he decided in favour of occupation, and he stated—the Prime Minister did not do complete justice to it—this:—and the interest that a man has in the locality…is the main principle upon which we found our franchise. An individual who owns a factory, foundry, or farm, may himself he resident outside the area in which that farm, factory, or foundry is situated.That is an observation which the right hon. Gentleman will forgive me for saying is so true that it is almost a truism. He founded on it the unanswerable conclusion:—Therefore Ave include the occupation franchise as well as the residential.The whole thing was carefully thought out and deliberately announced—Therefore we include the occupation as well as the residential, and—observe this:—for the purposes of the Parliamentary register, no other franchise will he entertained."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th June, 1912, col. 1325.]
§ Mr. F. E. SMITH
The right hon. Gentleman says it was only introduced to meet special hard cases, but in order that the House of Commons may be under no delusion as to the number of those cases, the right hon. Gentleman was careful to add that occupation is in many cases a better test then residence.
§ Mr. PEASE
Of course the hon. Member is reading, I think, from the Report which was issued the next morning. I may have revised it. [Laughter.] Every hon. Member knows that not only are there occasional slips of the tongue, but there is also occasional misreporting owing to hon. Members being inadequately heard. I have taken these words from the OFFICIAL REPORT itself; it is printed "but," I think, in the revised version. [An HON. MEMBER: "Authorised and revised versions."] I have got it at any rate upon my notes, showing it was my intention to use the word "but," and I believe I did use it.
§ Mr. F. E. SMITH
I receive with the utmost consideration any explanation the right hon. Gentleman gives. He mentioned the expression "the revised version." Many persons have always preferred "the authorised version." In order to see whether I am doing complete justice to him, I turn to a later part of the speech. Possibly, of course, a correction may have been made to the later part too. What the right hon. Gentleman said was this:—The lodger and owner vote and occupier vote will remain for the purposes of local questions…there will be under the new lists four categories of voters…there will be the occupier, who will be qualified both for local government as well as Parliamentary voting."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th June. 1912, col. 1334.]The Solicitor-General, who may be expected to speak with great decision on these questions, was also invited to express his opinion on this point, and he did it in these terms:—Some people would be residents under this Bill and not occupiers, and some would be occupiers and not residents, but whichever they are they will get a vote.…the object is to ensure that a man shall not be excluded because by the technicalities of our law though he is occupier he is not resident, and although he is resident he is not occupier."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th June, 1912, cols. 1394–5.]752 That was the right hon. Gentleman's object then. Why cannot he carry it out now? Is it not clear that the whole original basis of the Bill has gone? The substratum of the Bill has been dissipated by the Amendment indicated by the right hon. Gentleman. He told us that in many cases occupation was the better test, while the Solicitor-General said it was the object of the Government to secure that both had votes. How can you pretend that this is the same Bill? The right hon. Gentleman, I understand, indicates that in his view it has been found out since this Bill was originally considered that the occupation franchise would lend itself to the creation of faggot votes. I will only ask, Is the Bill really introduced by this Government, of all others, with so little guarantee for Parliamentary discussion, as this Government offers for all its Bills—is it introduced with so little examination and consideration and knowledge that you introduce it as the one principal ground upon which the franchise is based, and then when you approach the Committee stage you have to say it will lead to the indiscriminate multiplication of faggot votes? We are to treat it as sacrosanct for the purposes of the Committee and Report stage; we are to consider everything the Government propose, and they are to give us no better guarantee of wisdom than that which we have been afforded by the signal computation of their views in the speech of the right hon. Gentleman to-day.
The hon. Baronet opposite reminded us that on all the proposals contained in this Bill—Plural Voting and Women Suffrage, we are to be allowed only thirty two hours Parliamentary Debate. I am sure the Chancellor of the Exchequer will give me a fair answer to a fair question, and I will ask him, does he really suggest that for the Parliamentary discussion of the women's vote, of plural voting, and of other equally important matters — for which the Government gave in the case of Plural Voting alone fourteen days, five years ago—does the right hon. Gentleman really suggest that for these questions, for the questions of occupation and for other questions, thirty-two hours are adequate? [An HON. MEMBER: "Registration also."] I am reminded there is also the question of registration. Can the right hon. Gentleman claim that thirty-two hours is an adequate allowance? Somebody has said in the course of this Debate that it 753 was desirable we should clear our minds of cant on these points; that in the House of Commons we talk too much and do too little. I do not wish to give offence to anybody, I merely desire to express with great deference my view that greater nonsense was never talked Why, when we talk we do the least harm. The country is really happy only when we are talking. We may not be amusing when we talk; we keep our humour for our legislation. I remember that a wiser man than myself (Mr. Disraeli) said that all the time he was a Member of the House of Commons he never listened to a Parliamentary debate, however dull, without learning something. I will undertake to say there is not one of us in this House who listens to a debate without gleaning something fresh from the opinions of men who speak with expert knowledge. Nothing more shallow was ever said than that we talk too much in this House. We do not talk too much. The mischief that is done is in doing things without having talked sufficiently.
§ Sir A. MARKHAM
When I said there were only thirty-two hours, I excluded the time to be devoted to the discussion on Women Suffrage.
§ Mr. F. E. SMITH
I am much obliged to the hon. Baronet. Let us at least make sure, before we pass this Resolution, that we are agreed upon the principles on which the Resolution ought to be based. We fortunately on this point are not without authoritative guidance, because when the Government of my right hon. Friend the Member for the City of London introduced the Guillotine Resolution on the Education Act, the present Prime Minister made a carefully considered speech. That was a Bill which had been thirty-five days in Committee at the time the guillotine proposal was made. This is what the Prime Minister, with the support of the whole Liberal party, said:—This procedure is inconsistent with the elementary rights and privileges of a debating society. It has never been, and it ought not to be resorted to except in one or two cases—in the case of extreme emergency in the interests of public order, or in the case where a Bill, having been carefully considered both by the country and by Parliamentary discussion, is ripe for a final decision.Does this Bill fall in either of those classes? Is it a Bill which is required in the interests, of public order? Is it a Bill which has been thoroughly discussed both in the House of Commons and in the country? It is not called for in the interests of public order; it has never 754 been discussed in the constituencies, and it has not been discussed in the House of Commons. No, Sir; the real explanation of the circumstances in which we are asked to pass this Bill was put in another sentence in the Prime Minister's speech, the sentence in which he said:—We are placed in special exigencies as to time.What does that mean? The meaning is not very recondite. It means this: That the House of Commons is actually asked to-day to allocate time to a Bill of far-reaching importance, not even in pretended reference to the importance of the Bill itself, not even in pretended reference to what would be an adequate allowance of time for the discussion of the Bill; we are asked to allot the time on one consideration only, and that is in reference to the Government's commitments in relation to other measures, and in relation to the whole business of the Session. Can anyone deny that? Will anybody suggest it is a right thing to decide the period of time which should be allowed for a measure of this kind, not by reference to its importance, not by reference to the variety of interests involved, but simply by reference to the number of the commitments which you have, and which you must carry into law if you are to take advantage of the terms of the Parliament Act? Lot me ask one final question. Is there anyone here who thinks this is a Bill which it is proper to carry into law under the terms of the Parliament Act? [HON. MEMBERS: "Certainly."—"They can throw it out."] One hon. Gentleman says, "They can throw it out." That is not a very relevant contribution. What I am asking is this—I think everyone will see that the question is very relevant, to our present, proceedings—is this a Bill w7hich it is suggested is a proper Bill to which to supply the machinery of the Parliament Act for the purpose of carrying it into law without an appeal to the country? Let me supplement that question by another, which is involved in it. It may be that somebody would be in doubt upon that point if women's votes were excluded, therefore let mc supplement it by this further question: Is there anyone here in favour of votes for women or against them who will say that this House of Commons is entitled to use the Parliament Act for the purpose of carrying this Franchise Bill into law providing women's votes are included in it?
§ Mr. F. E. SMITH
I can only assure the hon. Gentleman—I know because it has been my business to establish communications with a number of hon. Gentlemen on his side of the House who share my view on the question of votes for women—that they do not share his view as to the permissible scope of application of the Parliament Act, and I think the hon. Gentleman will find himself face to face with a considerable body of doctrine on his own side of the House that does not take the view that it is a proper use to make of the Parliament Act. If it was a convenient or relevant moment to discuss that, I might remind him that at the Albert Hall the late Lord Chancellor, accompanied on the platform by no fewer than twelve Members who sit on this Front Bench, pronounced that very course, which so excites the enthusiasm of the hon. Gentleman, to be a constitutional outrage. But if that be the view of even a considerable section of the Liberal party, what are we to say of the allocation of time under this Bill? Suppose, for instance, the Amendment in the name of the right hon. Baronet (Sir E. Grey) was carried, which permits of individual discussion, then one or other of the later Amendments is grafted upon the Bill. That is supposing they are not all defeated. If they were all defeated, it would be a most humiliating position for the House of Commons and of all positions the most provocative towards the women. Supposing you played with them up to the extreme point, and although we admitted the principle, it was all a mockery and we did not intend to apply any one of these Amendments. No one would desire that, whatever his view on the main question is. But supposing this main Amendment is carried and each of the three individual Amendments is thrown out because none of them commends in itself a sufficient number of supporters in this House, what is to happen? We have one day for the Report stage of the Bill and it is suggested that this is an adequate allowance of Parliamentary time. I do not know what view hon. Gentlemen take, but it is very difficult for us on this side of the House, so inexorable is party discipline — I do not say this as against the party opposite; it was inexorable when we were in power, and I dare say it will be inexorable to the end of time, because what would happen to parties if discipline disappeared I cannot hazard a conjecture. It is difficult for us on this side of the House to judge what is the 756 real view of hon. Gentlemen opposite as to the effect upon the efficiency and the dignity and the reputation of the House of Commons of repeated Motions like those with which we have become so familiar.
I remember, only eighteen months ago, a discussion arose, and disparaging observations were made by my Noble Friend (Lord Hugh Cecil) upon the suggested deterioration by him of the character of the House of Commons, and my right hon. Friend (Mr. Balfour) made a defence as ingenious as it was sincere and eloquent, of the House of Commons, its traditions, and its history. That speech, I believe, carried with it the overwhelming support of an overwhelming majority of the House of Commons. But is it not important for all of us to remember, wherever we sit, that those who are the supporters of the Government of the day are equally the trustees of the institution of which we are all proud to be Members? You said when you sat in opposition, that we made an unfair and an oppressive use of the powers which were given to its when we were the Government of the day when we closured, I think it was three Bills in the whole time during which we had office. You told us in the year 1905, and through the life of Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, that your first duty when you went back to office would be to restore freedom to the House of Commons. How has that promise been carried out? It has been carried out by making that habitual which in our day was, after all, occasional. It has been carried out by making your little finger thicker than our loins ever were in the worst days of which you complain so bitterly. It has produced this state of things—and every sincere man who is listening to me knows I do not exaggerate—that on every great proposal today which carries with it, actually or potential, the fortunes of the Government, we no longer sit here as an Assembly which carries in its hands, as we used to carry in our hands, the life and the fortunes of the Government of the day. We carry no such thing. If the Government had come down here to-day and told their supporters that it was necessary that we should have only four days of Committee Debate, they would have voted for four days. If the Government had said three days, their supporters would have voted for three days. I doubt if we could not have counted on the fingers of one hand all those on the opposite side who would have carried their dislike of the proposal 757 into the Division Lobby. It is time to give up the pretence that this Parliament, which after all was the example and the model of every Parliament in Europe, indeed of the whole Latin civilisation, and which maintained those characteristics which have gained for it the admiration, and afterwards the imitation, of the Parliaments of the world, still holds that position. We have lost everything which gave us that position in the old days, and we sit here to-day—whether we like it or not, let us face the fact—only to register the dictates of the Government of the day, and for all the public usefulness we serve by our assembling, and by our Debates, we might perfectly well introduce, instead of these Guillotine Resolutions, a far more succinct and economical proposal that hereafter we shall be told every day, not by Debates in the House, of which every man listening to me can predicate the result, but by announcements every day outside Downing Street of what is to happen after the Cabinet meet. I make this observation to the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Surely one of his long experience of the House of Commons must know that it is not wise, and it is not expedient, and even if it were wise and expedient, it is wrong that a great and powerful Government should treat in this way the Opposition which, after all, draws some strength from popular support, from that very fountain—the constituencies—on which you are dependent for your very life—surely he should recognise that even if you can vote us down in the Lobbies, we have some claims which you ought to recognise, because whatever strength we have is recruited from the same source from which you derive your strength. Although my experience and recollection of the House of Commons are short in comparison with those of many other Members, I say that you have bruised and humiliated this Opposition by the constant and brutal exercise of superior force in a manner to which even in my short experience of the House I can find no parallel. You have one answer, and one answer only, for every claim we put forward for adequate discussion of questions which mean a great deal to us. We advance our arguments, and you have one answer. You point to the clock and say, "It is five minutes until the Closure falls, and we will vote you down." We have been voted down now for six years, and I say, recalling those years, as hon. Gentle- 758 men may do well to recall them, they should remember that the whole existence of party government depends on the observance of certain conventions which, just because they are familiar are so frequently forgotten, although laid down by Burke many years ago, when he said it was vital for those who believed that party Government was necessary to remember that underneath party disunity there was a greater and profounder unity. The principles of all parties were based upon a hypothesis necessary to English nationalism, and were greater than the interests of any party. If we believe that, never make the mistake of destroying any one party or treating any one party with constant and sustained tyranny. It is because we see in this Motion the last, the culminating stroke of many brutal injustices that we ask the House to reject it.
§ The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Lloyd George)
The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has addressed a very powerful speech, to which all Members of the House listened with great pleasure and with appreciation, and not merely courtesy. He addressed a number of questions which he is perfectly entitled to ask the Government, and I shall do my best in the course of the time which I mean to occupy to answer those questions. But I should like to say a few words first of all with regard to the concluding very eloquent passage which he addressed to the House. He has complained that it has become more and more the habit of the House of Commons to register the decrees of Governments. If the right hon. Gentleman had the experience, which I have—no doubt he will have—which I have had during the last few years of piloting Bills through the House of Commons, he would know perfectly well how very little substance there is in that contention. On the contrary, the pressure with regard to altering and amending Bills is by no means confined to the other side of the House. The pressure it is true on the Government side of the House is not always with debate. The more formidable pressure is the pressure that is put upon a Minister by other means. At any rate, no Minister who has ever had any experience of piloting a Bill through the House of Commons on either side will say that the House of Commons, either now or ever has been, prepared to accept without challenge or demur, the dictation of 759 any Government, whether Liberal or Tory. I will go beyond that and say, it will be a very bad thing for the House of Commons when it comes to that.
The right hon. Gentleman has given the House of Commons an experience which I felt myself when I was in Opposition. He feels the hopelessness and despair which enter a man's soul when he proposes things to the House of Commons, and supports things there, and he is voted down constantly by a majority. He has gone through that process for six years. I went through it for sixteen years. And I know too well what it means. I felt exactly as the right hon. Gentleman feels. I felt, like the right hon. Gentleman, that I was fighting against a sort of a despotic tyrannical fate, that I could do nothing but protest against it and attack it with such either invective or argument as I could command at the time. That was the only way I could take it out of the Government. The right hon. Gentleman takes the same line, only he has done it much more effectively. It is really the feeling of every Opposition. But let me put this to the right hon. Gentleman: It is perfectly true what he says, that is the feeling of anyone who is fighting against a Government that has got a majority. He recognises, of course, certain bonds of party discipline, and that it might be a fatal thing for the Government of this country if they were completely relaxed. But if he imagines that party discipline extends up to the point of compelling its own supporters to back it through thick and thin on every detail of the Bill introduced, he would soon be disillusioned if be sat on this side of the House. The right hon. Gentleman said, in regard to the use of the guillotine which was introduced by his own party, that we are making an habitual practice of that which was merely a kind of casual experience on their part. That is not the case.
I say that anyone who was in the House of Commons when these schemes were produced, and who heard the right hon. Gentleman the then Prime Minister, must come to the conclusion that it is impossible under our party system to carry through any great controversial Bill in this House without some expedient of this character. It is true, of course, that there were fewer controversial Bills then. But why? It is because the 'King's Speech always began by reassuring hon. Gentlemen who then 760 supported the Government that there would be very little legislation, and that therefore they need not worry about it. But that is not our position. We have been returned to carry through certain measures, and when the right hon. Gentleman said that this Bill was never discussed in the country and never discussed in the House of Commons he supplied the answer himself by saying it was discussed for fourteen days in the House of Commons—[An HON. MEMBER: "No"]—one of its most vital principles was discussed for fourteen days in the House of Commons, and it was thrown out by the House of Lords. It went to the country, and there was hot a Parliamentary candidate on our side who did not mention it, and if he did not he did not know his business, because there was nothing more popular on the Liberal platform. Therefore, I guarantee that if he did not mention it the agents told him to do so the next time. We were returned in January of 1910, and in December of that year, so that there were two General Elections on one of the most vital principles of this Bill. When the right hon. Gentleman makes a general observation about the misfortune of having these Guillotine Resolutions, I agree with him. I think it is a pity we cannot find some other method of carrying measures through this House, but I do not think the resources of civilisation are exhausted in that respect, and I should be very glad to see the House of Commons consider that deliberately. I do not agree with the right hon. Gentleman—I make no reflection on either party—that there is not too much talk in the House, and I do not think the country agrees with him. It is not for me to criticise it, because I observe that I share with the present Leader of the Opposition the distinction of having talked more columns than any man in the House. Therefore, I am not casting any reflection upon anyone else. But what I say is I hat there is no doubt at all that the House of Commons cannot discuss details of measures at the length which details and Clauses are now being discussed, or when I was in Opposition, with the then Prime Minister leading the House. It is impossible; it cannot be done. Take this Franchise Bill, and there is no better test. The Prime Minister pointed out that under this Guillotine Resolution more time is allocated to the discussion of this Bill than was occupied by the Parliament of 1884. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no."] It is purely a matter of computation, and I have got the books here. If hon. Members will 761 take the trouble of adding the number of columns talked during the Bill of 1884, which was a much greater change in the then franchise than this Bill effects at present, they would find that there are more opportunities for adding columns to the OFFICIAL REPORT in the eight days allocated under this Resolution than were added during the eleven half-days which were then occupied on that Bill.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
The hon. Member for the University of London (Sir P. Magnus) said, "Oh, but there are three days for Women Suffrage." Women Suffrage was discussed then in 1884 as a vital Amendment to that Bill. [An HON. MEMBER: "NO."] What is the good of saying "No" when I have got the thing in my hand. It was the very first Amendment discussed to the Bill of 1884. It was moved by Mr. Woodall. Mr. Gladstone replied to him and used exactly the sort of argument used at the present moment, that "this is not the time" and "it is inopportune." It is always inopportune to meet the demands of women. The particular question raised then, and which has been raised now, was whether the Women Suffrage question could be discussed on an Amendment in Committee. The Chairman after consultation with the Speaker ruled it could be debated in Committee, and it was discussed in Committee as a perfectly relevant Amendment, and had it been voted by a majority it would have been added to the Bill, both the Chairman and the Speaker of the House of Commons for the time being consulted and ruling that it was a perfectly germane and relevant Amendment. The only difference now is that whereas there was a day and a half then, three days are taken at present. If you deduct that day and a half, you will find that just as much time has been allocated for discussion of the remainder of the Bill now as was occupied then. What is the reason? The reason is that in those days you had not got that sort of meticulous scrutiny of every Clause and of every syllable in every Clause, and, above all, you had only just a limited number of men who made speeches in the House at all. That is really the difference that has taken place Not merely has everybody the right to speak—he had it then—but most Members 762 claim the right, especially if they are in opposition. That makes a serious difference.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I do not agree with the Noble Lord. For instance, the rule with regard to repetition is not merely against repetition of his own arguments by a speaker, but against the repetition of arguments advanced by other speakers in the same debate. If that rule were rigorously applied—I am not criticising any occupant of the Chair—I do not believe that you would get one-tenth of the debate that you get now. That is one of the things which I think it would be very well worth our while to consider. I have tried the experiment of getting a controversial Bill through without the guillotine. It was a controversial Bill, but it was not controversial from beginning to end. How long did it take?
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
It was a big Bill, but it was not controversial—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"]—in all its aspects. The Noble Lord will find that the Debate took place upon something under twenty Clauses. The mere length of the Bill had nothing whatever to do with the time it took. When we reached the uncontroversial parts we got through seven or eight a night. You cannot get controversial Bills through without the application either of the Closure or of some new method of limiting debate. What happened on the occasion to which I refer? We took six months—not six months working from three o'clock to eleven, but six months working from three o'clock until six the next morning; we rarely went home before two or three o'clock. Parliament could not stand that sort of thing; I am not sure that the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Pretyman) has ever recovered from it. Every Parliament in the world has been compelled to resort to some expedient. In America, with the full consent of the democracy, the expedient is that the Speaker refuses to see a member when he gets up. That was the method, I believe, of Speaker Reid, and more especially of Speaker Cannon, who just read through the Clauses and never looked at anybody who got up. That is one form of Closure. If Parliament comes to the decision that the guillotine is not the best method of 763 restricting debate—and I do not say that it is, in fact, I am pretty sure that on the whole it is not—it is a question not merely for the Government, not merely for the Opposition, but for the House as a whole, because I agree absolutely with the right hon. Gentleman that the vitality, the life, and the efficiency of Parliament is the concern, not merely of one party but of all parties; it is the concern of the community as a whole. Therefore I hope, that after we have got through the present Session—because now there is no time to consider it—there will be a serious consideration of the question of the procedure of the House. The right hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Balfour) did devote a Session to the purpose. Many of the things which he abandoned I am sorry now he did not put in. I was not of that opinion then. But I have been looking at them since, and there are one or two things which I think would have been extraordinarily useful to us if only he had gone on with them. I wish he had. I am perfectly certain that if those who, like himself, have got great experience of Parliament would take the matter in hand in the interests of Parliament as an institution, something very valuable would ensue. So much for that which I regard as a valuable contribution that the right hon. and learned Gentleman has made to this Debate. I am not going to follow him into the discussion as to university representation. He seemed to think that we have got impartial and distinguished men, Tree from passion, never moved in the slightest degree by those vulgar passions that excite mere partisans, but judging questions from the altitude of a judicial impartiality that we who simply represent common or garden constituencies can never hope to aspire to. I wonder whether under that description one could identify any of the present university representatives?
§ Mr. F. E. SMITH
What I said merely was: that whether or not they satisfied that description, they should at least be granted a quarter of an hour of Parliamentary time to say what they might wish to say.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
If they and their Friends did not improperly occupy their time with other questions, they would have ample opportunity under this Motion to discuss their own merits. I pass to other things. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!"] I have tried to cover the ground covered by 764 the right hon. Gentleman. I cannot, on this Motion, go into the merits of representation, occupation, residence, and so on. There are one or two other questions—
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I am coming to that in a moment. The right hon. Gentleman discussed the question as to whether this Bill ought to come under the Parliament Act. Where is the object of getting an Act of Parliament that enables the voice of the majority of this House ultimately to prevail unless you apply it to all legislation that the House approves of? The right hon. and learned Gentleman has asked a question about Redistribution. He referred to the Prime Minister's words, and asked, "What is your guarantee that the Redistribution Bill will be carried? What is your guarantee that, it will be effective before the next election?" The next election does not altogether depend upon the Government. [HON. MEMBERS; "Oh, oh!"] No, it depends upon the House of Commons. How can we, to begin with, give an effective guarantee as to the life of Parliament? That is a question for the House of Commons. The right hon. Gentleman was one of those who endeavoured a couple of months ago to precipitate an election.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
The right horn and learned Gentleman asked a question and I propose to answer it. He asked: "Will you give us a statutory guarantee that this Bill will not be operative unless a Redistribution Bill is carried before it comes into operation?"
All I can say about that is this. If you did that, what would happen if there was a General Election before your Redistribution Bill came into operation? What would happen is this: You would have called into existence an electorate which the right hon. and learned Gentleman says would be 2,500,000. I do not agree, but let us take his figures. You would have enfranchised 2,500,000 people. A General Election might take place upon a most vital question for them, and you would not allow them to 765 vote. That is an impossible proposition—quite impossible. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] It is quite impossible to have electors upon a register and to say to them, "We have carried an Act of Parliament to enfranchise you, and although you are enfranchised, yet because we were unable to carry another Bill to remove another anomaly different from that under which you were suffering, therefore you must not vote." It would be giving an opportunity which the right hon. Gentleman could not really expect us to give to the House of Lords to prevent this Bill coming into operation, because all that would happen would be they would throw out our Bill for two Sessions in succession, and then what would be the result? The result would be, not merely that our Redistribution Bill would not come into operation, but our Franchise Bill would not come into operation. I am sure if the right hon. Gentlemen were here on this side in charge of this Bill—he has considerable imagination, and I think he can fancy himself in that position for a moment—I am certain he would not tie a noose of that kind round his neck and just give the end of it to the House of Lords to pull. That is my answer to the right hon. and learned Gentleman.
I turn now to the important question put by the Noble Lord the Member for Hitchin (Lord Robert Cecil). The Noble Lord asked me a question which is really very largely a question for Mr. Speaker, though I do not submit it to him now, because as he indicated at the beginning this is not the stage to deal with that. All I can do is to deal with it so far as the Government is concerned. I agree that the pledge of the Prime Minister made this an effective opportunity for the incorporation of this Amendment in the Government Bill. I say that pledge has been redeemed. The Bill has been so drafted that it could not be suggested that the Amendment in regard to Women Suffrage would not come within the scope of the Bill. If the Noble Lord will look at the description, he will find this a Bill to
"Amend the law with respect to the Parliamentary and Local Government Franchise."
The words are of a wide description, and the word "male" is inserted with a view really of challenging that proposition. I do not depend merely upon that, I depend upon the precedent of 1884 and the words of Sir Erskine May. In 1884, when the question of Women Suffrage came before 766 the House as an Amendment to the Franchise Bill, Lord Randolph Churchill raised the question of whether it was germane and whether it could be moved as an Amendment in it. I think his suggestion was that there ought to be an instruction to the House, and Mr. Woodhall, who was in charge of the Amendment, said he had consulted Mr. Speaker, who said no instruction was necessary, and Lord John Manners, in the course of his speech in that debate, in support of Women. Suffrage, said:—I think I have hoard you, Sir, say that the Clause of the hon. Gentleman is perfectly in harmony with the proposals of this Measure, and that it is germane to the subject of reform.That evidently referred to some ruling besides the ruling of the Chairman of Committee.
§ Lord ROBERT CECIL
It is very important that we should get this point quite clearly. There are, as I understand it, two questions entirely distinct. An Amendment may be perfectly germane, and in that sense perfectly admissible to be moved to the Bill, but it may be that that Amendment taken in conjunction with other changes in the Bill will so change its character that although each Amendment was germane yet the Bill when amended will no longer be the same Bill substantially as was read a second time. I do not know whether I am stating it quite correctly, but when that happens Mr. Speaker is bound to rule on Report or on the Third Reading that it is not the same Bill, and it cannot be further proceeded with. It is that danger which I raise, and what I am anxious to obtain from the right hon. Gentleman is a definite statement on the authority of the Government that they have satisfied themselves that the adoption of the Dickinson Amendment would not make it impossible to proceed with the Bill at a later stage.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
The precedents we have are those of 1888. There is the precedent of 1867, when Mr. John Stuart Mill moved a similar Amendment, and it was not then suggested that it so altered its character as not to be the same Bill. The question was raised in the Debate of 1884. I should like to point out that I cannot find that there is any exact precedent, but here I do not want to dogmatise without further inquiry, but there is no precedent for Mr. Speaker ruling that the Bill was out of Order. The only case in point is an appeal that was made to a Minister to withdraw 767 a Bill, and the Minister on two occasions responded to that appeal. On other occasions they did not, but there is not a case which I have been able to find in which the Speaker has ruled that in consequence of a number of germane Amendments, each Amendment on its merits being germane, the Bill was so completely changed that he could not allow it to proceed to a Third Reading. There is no such case cited by Sir Erskine May, but the time will come when we shall have to submit this point to Mr. Speaker. As the Solicitor-General points out the Bill already includes women. I think I have, to the best of my ability, replied to all the questions which have been put in the course of the Debate by the right hon. and learned Gentleman and the Noble Lord, and I hope now we shall be able to proceed to the consideration of the cither Amendments, having debated very fully the question of the first Amendment.
§ Mr. HUNT
I certainly think, as this Franchise Bill is not to be followed by a Registration Bill, the Opposition has every right to object to it being driven through the House at the very end of a very long Session by the most drastic guillotine that, considering the character of the Bill, has ever been used. There is not even the excuse of any sort
of mandate for the Bill, which may result in the addition of an enormous number of women voters to the register, with the probability that the great majority of both men and women in this country are dead against giving the vote to women. The Prime Minister in thrusting this Guillotine Motion upon the House is going to allow the vote for women to be inserted in the Bill, although he has declared that it would be disastrous to the country. I believe that this has been disputed, but I have taken the trouble to look it up, and these are two quotations, one from the "Times" and one from the OFFICIAL REPORT. On 15th December, 1911, the Prime Minister described the granting of votes to women as—
a political mistake of a very disastrous kind.
On 28th March, 1912, he said it would prove to be—
injurious to women and fraught with the gravest possibilities to the future good government of the country.
§ Mr. BOOTH rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 264; Noes, 193.771
|Division No. 547.]||AYES.||[11.17 p.m.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour)||Clancy, John Joseph||Ffrench, Peter|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Clough, William||Field, William|
|Addison, Dr. C.||Clynes, John R.||Fiennes, Hon. Eustace Edward|
|Adkins, Sir W. Ryland D.||Collins, G. P. (Greenock)||Fitzgibbon, John|
|Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbartonshire)||Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Flavin, Michael Joseph|
|Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud)||Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||France, Gerald Ashburner|
|Armitage, Robert||Cotton, William Francis||George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd|
|Arnold, Sydney||Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Gill, A. H.|
|Baker, H. T. (Accrington)||Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||Gladstone, W. G. C.|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||Crooks, William||Glanville, H. J.|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Crumley, Patrick||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford|
|Barnes, G. N.||Cullinan, John||Goldstone, Frank|
|Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick)||Dalziel, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H. (Kirkcaldy)||Greenwood, Hamar (Sunderland)|
|Barton, William||Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Greig, Col. J. W.|
|Beale, Sir William Phipson||Davies, Timothy (Lines., Louth)||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Griffith, Ellis J.|
|Benn, W. W. (T. H'mts, St. George)||Dawes, J. A.||Guest, Hon. Major C. H. C. (Pembroke)|
|Bentham, G. J.||De Forest, Baron||Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)|
|Boland, John Plus||Delany, William||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Devlin, Joseph||Hackett, John|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Dewar, Sir J. A.||Hancock, J. G.|
|Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)||Dickinson, W. H.||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale)|
|Brady, Patrick Joseph||Dillon, John||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)|
|Brocklehurst, W. B.||Donelan, Captain A.||Hardie, J. Keir|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Doris, William||Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds.)|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Duffy, William J.||Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire)|
|Buckmaster, Stanley O.||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)|
|Burke, E. Havlland-||Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.)||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, North)||Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid)||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Elverston, Sir Harold||Hayden, John Patrick|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||Hayward, Evan|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)||Hazleton, Richard|
|Cawley, Harold T. (Heywood)||Farrell, James Patrick||Helme, Sir Norval Watson|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles||Henry, Sir Charles|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson||Higham, John Sharp|
|Hinds, John||Millar, James Duncan||Roche, Augustine (Louth)|
|Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.||Molloy, Michael||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Hodge, John||Molteno, Percy Alport||Rowlands, James|
|Hogge, James Myles||Mond, Sir Alfred M.||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Horne, Charles Silvester (Ipswich)||Money, L. G. Chiozza||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Mooney, John J.||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Hudson, Walter||Morgan, George Hay||Scott, A, MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)|
|Hughes, S. L.||Muldoon, John||Sheeny, David|
|Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus||Munro, R.||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Jardine, Sir J. (Roxburgh)||Murray, Captain Hon. Arthur C.||Shortt, Edward|
|John, Edward Thomas||Nicholson, Sir Charles N, (Doncaster)||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John Allsebrook|
|Jones, Rt.Hon.Sir D.Brynmor (Sw'nsea)||Nolan, Joseph||Smith, Albert (Lanes., Clitheroe)|
|Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)||Norman, Sir Henry||Smith, H. B. Lees (Northampton)|
|Jones, H. Haydn (Merloneth)||Norton, Captain Cecil W.||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)||Nugent, Sir Walter Richard||Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert|
|Jones, Leif Stratten (Notts, Rushcliffe)||Nuttall, Harry||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N.W.)|
|Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
|Jones, W. S. Glyn- (Stepney)||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Sutherland, J. E.|
|Jowett, F. W.||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Sutton, John E.|
|Joyce, Michael||O'Donnell, Thomas||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Keating, Matthew||O'Dowd, John||Taylor, Thomas (Bolton)|
|Kennedy, Vincent Paul||O'Grady, James||Tennant, Harold John|
|Kilbride, Denis||O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|King, J.||O'Malley, William||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon, S. Molton)||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||O'Shee, James John||Verney, Sir Harry|
|Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, W.)||O'Sullivan, Timothy||Wadsworth, John|
|Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rld, Cockerm'th)||Parker, James (Halifax)||Walsh, Stephen (Lanes., Ince)|
|Levy, Sir Maurice||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)||Walton, Sir Joseph|
|Lewis, John Herbert||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Low, Sir F. (Norwich)||Pirie, Duncan Vernon||Waring, Walter|
|London, Thomas||Pollard, Sir George H.||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay|
|Lyell, Charles Henry||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Lynch, A. A.||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Watt, Henry A.|
|Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)||Webb, H|
|McGhee, Richard||Primrose, Hon. Nell James||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T, J.||Pringle, William M. R.||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|MacNeill, J. G. Swift (Donegal, South)||Radford, G. H.||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Macpherson, James Ian||Raffan, Peter Wilson||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)||Whyte, A. F. (Perth)|
|M'Kean, John||Reddy, Michael||Wiles, Thomas|
|M'Laren, Hon. H. D. (Leics.)||Redmond, John E. (Watertord)||Wilkie, Alexander|
|M'Laren,Hon. F. W. S. (Lincs.,Spalding)||Redmond, William (Clare, E.)||Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthen)|
|Manfield, Harry||Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Wares., N.)|
|Markham, Sir Arthur Basil||Rendall, Athelstan||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Marks, Sir George Croydon||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)||Wood. Rt. Hon. T. McKlnnon (Glas.)|
|Marshall, Arthur Harold||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Young, Samuel (Cavan, East)|
|Mason, David M. (Coventry)||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)||Young, William (Perthshire, E.)|
|Meagher, Michael||Roberts. Sir J. H. (Denbighs)|
|Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Robertson, J. M. (Tynoside)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.|
|Middlebrook, William||Robinson, Sidney|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Burgoyne, Alan Hughes||Dalziel, Davison (Brixton)|
|Amery, L. C. M. S.||Burn, Colonel C. R.||Duke, Henry Edward|
|Anson, Rt. Hon. Sir William R.||Butcher, John George||Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.|
|Ashley, Wilfrid W.||Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. (Dublin Univ.)||Faber, George Denison (Clapham)|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Campion, W. R.||Falle, Bertram Godfray|
|Baker, Sir Randoll L. (Dorset, N.)||Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Fell, Arthur|
|Balcarres, Lord||Cassel, Fellx||Finlay, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City, Lond.)||Castlereagh, Viscount||Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Cator, John||Fitzroy, Hon. Edward A.|
|Baring, Maj. Hon. Guy V. (Winchester)||Cautlcy, Henry Strother||Fleming, Valentine|
|Barlow, Montague (Saiford, South)||Cave, George||Fletcher, John Samuel|
|Barnston, Harry||Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Forster, Henry William|
|Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford Univ.)||Gardner, Ernest|
|Beckett, Hon Gervase||Cecil, Lord R. (Herts, Hitchin)||Gastrell, Major W. Houghton|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Chaloner, Col. R. G. W.||Gibbs, George Abraham|
|Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish-||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worc'r.)||Glazebrook, Capt. Philip K.|
|Beresford, Lord Charles||Clay, Captain H. H. Spender||Goldman, C. S.|
|Bigland, Alfred||Clive, Captain Percy Archer||Goldsmith, Frank|
|Bird, Alfred||Clyde, J. Avon||Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton)|
|Blair, Reginald||Coates, Major Sir Edward Feetham||Goulding, Edward Alfred|
|Boles, Lieut.-Col. Dennis Fortescue||Courthope, George Loyd||Grant, J. A.|
|Boscawen, Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith-||Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.)||Greene, Walter Raymond|
|Boyle, William (Norfolk, Mid.)||Craig, Captain James (Down, E.}||Gretton, John|
|Boyton, James||Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Guinness, Hon. Rupert (Essex, S.E.)|
|Brassey, H. Leonard Campbell||Craik, Sir Henry||Guinness, Hon.W.E. (Bury S.Edmunds)|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Crichton-Stuart, Lord Ninlan||Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)|
|Bull, Sir William James||Cripps, Sir Charles Alfred||Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight)|
|Burdett-Coutts, W.||Croft, H. P.||Hall, Fred (Dulwich)|
|Hall, Marshall (E. Toxteth)||MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh||Sassoon, Sir Philip|
|Hamersley, Alfred St. George||Mackinder, Halford J.||Scott, Leslie (Liverpool, Exchange)|
|Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington, S.)||Macmaster, Donald||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence||Magnus, Sir Philip||Smith, Rt. Hon. F. E. (L'p'l, Walton)|
|Harris, Henry Percy||Malcolm, Ian||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Spear, Sir John Ward|
|Helmsley, Viscount||Moore, William||Stanler, Beville|
|Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, S.)||Mount, William Arthur||Starkey, John Ralph|
|Hewins, William Albert Samuel||Neville, Reginald J. N.||Stewart, Gershom|
|Hickman, Col. Thomas E.||Newdegate, F. A.||Swift, Rigby|
|Hill, Sir Clement L.||Newman, John R. P.||Sykes, Alan John (Ches., Knutsford)|
|Hills, John Waller||Newton, Harry Kottingham||Sykes, Mark (Hull, Central)|
|Hill-Wood, Samuel||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Talbot, Lord E.|
|Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Nield, Herbert||Terrell, George (Wilts, N.W.)|
|Horne, E. (Surrey, Guildford)||Norton-Griffiths, J.||Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)|
|Houston, Robert Paterson||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.||Thynne, Lord A.|
|Hume-Williams, W. E.||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)||Tobin, Alfred Aspinall|
|Hunter, Sir Charles Rodk.||Peel, Captain R. F.||Touche, George Alexander|
|Ingleby, Holcombe||Perkins, Walter Frank||Tryon, Captain George Clement|
|Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, E.)||Peto, Basil Edward||Tullibardine, Marquess of|
|Jessel, Captain H. M.||Pollock, Ernest Murray||Valentia, Viscount|
|Joynson-Hicks, William||Pretyman, Ernest George||Ward, A. S. (Herts, Watford)|
|Kebty-Fletcher, J. R.||Pryce-Jones, Col. E.||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|Kerry, Earl of||Quilter, Sir w. E. c||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Keswick, Henry||Randies, Sir John S.||White, Major G. D. (Lancs, Southport)|
|Kimber, Sir Henry||Rawson, Colonel Richard H.||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Rees, Sir J. D.||Wills, Sir Gilbert|
|Larmor, Sir J.||Remnant, James Farquharson||Wilson, A. Stanley (Yorks, E.R.)|
|Lawson, Hon. H. (T. H'mts., Mile End)||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Lee, Arthur Hamilton||Rolleston, Sir John||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Lewisham, Viscount||Rothschild, Lionel de||Worthington-Evans, L.|
|Lloyd, G. A.||Royds, Edmund||Wright, Henry Fitzherbert|
|Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Rutherford, W. (Liverpool, W. Derby)||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey)||Salter, Arthur Clavell||Yate, Col. C. E.|
|Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A. R.||Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)|
|Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)||Sanders, Robert Arthur||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Hunt and Mr. Rawlinson.|
|Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. A. (S. Geo.,Han. S.)||Sanderson, Lancelot|
|Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droitwich)|
§ (1) Committee Stage.
§ Subject to the proviso hereinafter contained,' stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 259; Noes, 191.775
|Division No. 548.]||AYES.||[11.25 p.m.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour)||Chapple, Dr. W. A.||Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)|
|Addison, Dr. C.||Clancy, John Joseph||Farrell, James Patrick|
|Adkins, Sir W. Ryland D.||Clough, William||Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles|
|Allen, Arthur Acland (Dumbartonshire)||Clynes, John R.||Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson|
|Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud)||Collins, G. P. (Greenock)||Ffrench, Peter|
|Armitage, Robert||Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Field, William|
|Arnold, Sydney||Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Fiennes, Hon. Eustace Edward|
|Baker, Harold T. (Accrington)||Cotton, William Francis||Fitzgibbon, John|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||Craig, H. J. (Tynemouth)||Flavin, Michael Joseph|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||France, G. A.|
|Barnes, George N.||Crooks, William||George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd|
|Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick)||Crumley, Patrick||Gill, Alfred Henry|
|Barton, William||Cullinan, John||Gladstone, W. G. C.|
|Beale, Sir William Phipson||Dalziel, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H. (Kirkcaldy)||Glanville, Harold James|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford|
|Benn, W. W. (T. H'mts, St. George)||Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Goldstone, Frank|
|Bentham, George Jackson||Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Greenwood, Hamar (Sunderland)|
|Boland, John Plus||Dawes, J. A.||Greig, Col. J. W.|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||De Forest, Baron||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Delany, William||Griffith, Ellis J.|
|Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)||Devlin, Joseph||Guest, Hon. Major C. H. C. (Pembroke)|
|Brady, Patrick Joseph||Dewar, Sir J. A.||Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)|
|Brocklehurst, William B||Dickinson, W. H.||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Dillon, John||Hackett, John|
|Bryce, John Annan||Donelan, Captain A,||Hancock, John George|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Doris, W.||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Duffy, William J.||Hardle, J. Keir|
|Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, North)||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Harmsworth, R. L, (Caithness-shire)|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.)||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid)||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Cawley, H. T. (Lancs., Heywood)||Elverston, Sir Harold||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)|
|Hayden, John Patrick||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Robinson, Sidney|
|Hayward, Evan||Middlebrook, William||Roche, Augustine (Louth)|
|Hazleton, Richard||Millar, James Duncan||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Helme, Sir Nerval Watson||Molloy, Michael||Rowlands, James|
|Henry, Sir Charles||Molteno, Percy Alport||Samuel Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Higham, John Sharp||Mond, Sir Alfred M.||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Hinds, John||Money, L. G. Chiozza||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Hobhouse, Rt. Hen, Charles E. H.||Mooney, John J.||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Brldge'ton)|
|Hodge, John||Morgan, George Hay||Sheehy, David|
|Hogge, James Myles||Muldoon, John||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Home, C. Silvester (Ipswich)||Munro, R.||Shortt, Edward|
|Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Murray, Captain Hon. Arthur C.||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John Allsebrook|
|Hudson, Walter||Nicholson. Sir Charles N. (Doncaster)||Smith, Albert (Lanes., Clitheroe)|
|Hughes, S. L.||Nolan, Joseph||Smith, H. B. Lees (Northampton)|
|Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus||Norman, Sir Henry||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim)|
|Jardine, Sir J. (Roxburgh)||Norton, Captain Cecil W.||Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert|
|John, Edward Thomas||Nugent, Sir Walter Richard||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N.W.)|
|Jones, Rt.Hon.Sir D.Brynmor (Swansea)||Nuttall, Harry||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
|Jones, Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Sutherland, John E.|
|Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||O'Connor, John (Kildare)||Sutton, John E.|
|Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Jones, Leit Stratten (Notts, Rushcliffe)||O'Donnell, Thomas||Taylor, Thomas (Bolton)|
|Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||O'Dowd, John||Tennant, Harold John|
|Jones, William S. Glyn- (Stepney)||O'Grady, James||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Jowett, Frederick William||O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Joyce, Michael||O'Malley, William||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Keating, Matthew||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Kennedy, Vincent Paul||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Verney, Sir Harry|
|Kilbride, Denis||O'Shee, James John||Wadsworth, John|
|King, J.||O'Sullivan, Timothy||Walsh, Stephen (Lanes., Ince)|
|Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon,S.Molton)||Parker, James (Halifax)||Walton, Sir Joseph|
|Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)||Waring, Walter|
|Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rld, Cockerm'th)||Pirie, Duncan Vernon||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay|
|Levy, Sir Maurice||Pollard, Sir George H.||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Lewis, John Herbert||Ponsonby, Arthur A, W. H,||Watt, Henry A.|
|Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Webb, H,|
|Low, Sir Frederick (Norwich)||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|London, Thomas||Primrose, Hon. Neil James||White, J. Dundas (Tradeston)|
|Lyell, Charles Henry||Pringle, William M. R.||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Lynch, A. A.||Radford, G. H.||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Raffan, Peter Wilson||Whyte, Alexander F.|
|McGhee, Richard||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)||Wiles, Thomas|
|Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Reddy, M.||Wilkie, Alexander|
|MacNeill, J. G. Swift (Donegal, South)||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Williams, Liewelyn (Carmarthen)|
|Macpherson, James Ian||Redmond, William (Clare, E.)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|M'Kean, John||Rendail, Athelstan||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glas.)|
|M'Laren, Hon. H. D. (Leics.)||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)||Young, Samuel (Cavan, E.J|
|M'Laren, Hon. F.W.S. (Lines.,Spalding)||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Young, William (Perth, East)|
|Manfield, Harry||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Marks, Sir George Croydon||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.|
|Marshall, Arthur Harold||Robertson, J, M. (Tyneside)|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Bull, Sir William James||Cripps, Sir Charles Alfred|
|Amery, L. C. M. S.||Burdett-Coutts, William||Croft, H. P.|
|Anson, Rt. Hon. Sir William R.||Burgoyne, Alan Hughes||Daiziel, Davison (Brixton)|
|Ashley, W. W.||Burn, Colonel C. R.||Faber, George Denison (Clapham)|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Butcher, John George||Falle, Bertram Godfray|
|Baker, Sir Randoll L. (Dorset, N.)||Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. (Dublin, Univ.)||Fell, Arthur|
|Balcarres, Lord||Campion, W. R.||Finlay, Rt. Hon. Sir Robert|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City, Lond.)||Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Cased, Felix||Fitzroy, Hon. Edward A.|
|Baring, Maj. Hon. Guy V. (Winchester)||Castlereagh, Viscount||Fleming, Valentine|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Cator, John||Fletcher, John Samuel|
|Barnston, Harry||Cautley, Henry Strother||Forster, Henry William|
|Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Cave, George||Gardner, Ernest|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Gastrell, Major W. H.|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford Univ.)||Gibbs, George Abraham|
|Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish-||Chaloner, Colonel R. G. W.||Glazebrook, Captain Philip K.|
|Beresford, Lord Charles||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worc'r.)||Goldman, C. S.|
|Bigland, Alfred||Clay, Captain H. H. Spender||Goldsmith, Frank|
|Bird, Alfred||Clive, Captain Percy Archer||Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton)|
|Blair, Reginald||Coates, Major Sir Edward Feetham||Goulding, Edward Alfred|
|Boles, Lieut.-Col. Dennis Fortescus||Courthope, George Loyd||Grant, J. A.|
|Boscawen, Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith-||Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.)||Greene, Walter Raymond|
|Boyle, William (Norfolk, Mid)||Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Gretton, John|
|Boyton, James||Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Guinness, Hon. Rupert (Essex, S.E.)|
|Brassey, H. Leonard Campbell-||Craik, Sir Henry||Guinness, Hon W.E. (Bury S.Edmunds)|
|Bridgeman, William Cliva||Crichton-Stuart, Lord Ninlan||Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)|
|Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight)||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. A. (S. Geo.,Han. S.)||Sanderson, Lancelot|
|Hall, Fred (Dulwich)||Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droitwich)||Sassoon, Sir Philip|
|Hall, Marshall (E. Toxteth)||MacCaw, Wm J. MacGeagh||Scott, Leslie (Liverpool, Exchange)|
|Hamersley, Alfred St. George||Mackinder, Halford J.||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, w.)|
|Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington, S.)||Macmaster, Donald||Smith, Rt. Hon. F. E. (L'p'l, Walton)|
|Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence||Magnus, Sir Philip||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Harris, Henry Percy||Malcolm, Ian||Spear, Sir John Ward|
|Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Markham, Sir Arthur Basil||Stanier, Beville|
|Helmsley, Viscount||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Starkey, John Ralph|
|Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, S.)||Moore, William||Stewart, Gershom|
|Hewins, William Albert Samuel||Mount, William Arthur||Swift, Rigby|
|Hickman, Colonel Thomas E.||Neville, Reginald J. N.||Sykes, Alan John (Ches., Knutsford)|
|Hill, Sir Clement L.||Newdegate, F. A.||Sykes, Mark (Hull, Central)|
|Hills, John Waller||Newman, John R. P.||Talbot, Lord Edmund|
|Hill-Wood, Samuel||Newton, Harry Kottingham||Terrell, G. (Wilts, N.W.)|
|Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfleld)||Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)|
|Horne, Edgar (Surrey, Guildford)||Meld, Herbert||Thynne, Lord A.|
|Houston, Robert Paterson||Norton-Griffiths, J.||Tobin, Alfred Aspinall|
|Hume-Williams, William Ellis||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A||Touche, George Alexander|
|Hunt, Rowland||Peel, Capt. R. F.||Tryon, Captain George Clement|
|Hunter, Sir Charles Rodk.||Perkins, Walter Frank||Tullibardine, Marquess of|
|Ingleby, Holcombe||Peto, Basil Edward||Valentia, Viscount|
|Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, E.)||Pollock, Ernest Murray||Ward, A. S. (Herts, Watford)|
|Jessel, Captain H. M.||Pretyman, Ernest George||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|Joynson-Hicks, William||Pryce-Jones, Colonel E.||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Kebty-Fletcher, J. R,||Quilter, Sir William Eley C.||White, Major G. D. (Lanes., Southport)|
|Kerry, Earl of||Randies, Sir John S.||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Keswick, Henry||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel||Wills, Sir Gilbert|
|Kimber, Sir Henry||Rawson, Colonel Richard H.||Wilson, A. Stanley (Yorks, E.R.)|
|Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Rees, Sir J. D.||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Larmor, Sir J.||Remnant, James Farquharson||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Lawson. Hon. H. (T. H'mts, Mile End)||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)||Worthington-Evans, L.|
|Lee, Arthur Hamilton||Rolleston, Sir John||Wright, Henry Fitzherbert|
|Lewisham, Viscount||Rothschiid, Lionel de||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Lloyd, G. A.||Royds, Edmund||Yate, Colonel C. E.|
|Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)|
|Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsay)||Salter, Arthur Clavell||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Pike Pease and Mr. Eyres-Monsell.|
|Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A. R.||Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)|
|Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)||Sanders, Robert|
§ Viscount HELMSLEY
I beg to move in paragraph (1) Committee stage to leave out the word "eight" ["eight allotted days"] and to insert instead thereof the word "ten."
§ Mr. HICKS BEACH
On a point of Order. I have further down an Amendment to leave out "eight" and insert "sixteen." If the Noble Lord's Amendment is negatived, shall I be prevented from moving mine?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
If the word "eight" stand part, the hon. Gentleman could not move his Amendment, but on the Amendment of the Noble Lord there will be no opportunity of discussing the insertion of sixteen.
§ Viscount HELMSLEY
I cannot think that my Amendment if granted by the Government would make such a difference as would alter the position which we all feel towards this Motion which has been so well characterised by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who have already spoken. Still, if we cannot persuade the Government how far they are degrading the House of Commons from the position which it used to occupy, and if we still have to put up with those speeches by right hon. Gentlemen, which we have heard for 776 the last six or seven years, saying that they quite dislike Guillotine Motions and that some other method must be adopted, while nothing is done in that direction, the least we can do is to try to mitigate the severity of these Guillotine Motions by asking for a day or two more when they appear to be necessary. No man in the House of Commons considers eight days adequate, but the hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite do not care whether it is adequate or not. They have made up their minds they are going to get this Bill through this House at all events, and that it requires the shelter of the Parliament Act. They have no confidence in the country. Otherwise, they would realise that they could equally get the shelter of the Parliament Act subsequent to an elecion as well as before it if they were again returned to power. They do not care what becomes of the Debates in this House, nor do they think Debates necessary once they have made up their mind. The one consideration which influences hon. Gentlemen opposite is to keep the Government in office.
I quite realise that it is useless to attempt to appeal to hon. Members opposite, but if any hon. Members opposite care to look at this matter from a sincere point of view, they will be bound to admit that the time 777 given for this Bill is perfectly absurd. Nobody denies that there are a great many very important Clauses in the Bill, and nobody can look at the Amendments on the Paper without seeing that they are not only very numerous but of a very important character. Clause 1 is very important, and includes many subjects to which very little time is devoted. It raises the whole question of plural voting and of the University seats, and the whole of the alterations proposed at the last moment by the President of the Board of Education. Surely Clause 1 presents a very wide field for discussion, yet the time given to it, the Committee must see, is utterly inadequate. The discussion of Subsection (1) of Clause 1 begins on the fourth day, excluding of course the days given to the Women Suffrage Amendment, and that discussion is to be closured at 7.30 p.m. On that same day the remainder of Clause 1 and the Committee stage of the Financial Resolution will be closured at 10.30 p.m.
It is obvious that on the Committee stage the Financial Resolution has not a chance to be discussed, and the rest of the Clause will not have been discussed previous to the Resolution and before the Guillotine has fallen at 10.30 p.m. My Amendment proposes that more time should be given, and if hon. Members turn to the consequential Amendment which appears on the Paper, they will see by the time-table I propose, excluding the Amendments mentioned in the Appendix at 7.30, that the Clause shall occupy until 9.30 p.m. the following day, and leave an hour for the Committee stage of the Financial Resolution. That would ensure a longer time for the discussion of important points on Clause 1, and give time for a few remarks, and they could only be few, on a question almost of equal importance, namely, the Financial Resolution which, unless our proceedings are to be even more of a farce than they have been in the last few weeks, it does appear rather desirable, to say the least of it, should be discussed. If you add two more days, as I propose, you get several great advantages. You will find, on reference to the time-table which I propose, that the conditions as regards Clause 3, are improved. As it stands in the Government time-table Clause 3 is to be discussed from 7.30 to 10.30, and in my time-table I propose that it shall be discussed from 7.30 on the seventh day to 7.30 on the eighth day. Clause 3 is of great importance, and contains the principle of continuous registration about which, I imagine, there will be a good deal 778 to be said. The Amendments of the President of the Board of Education are also involved, and there is the whole question of legislation by Order in Council, besides the question of County Courts and revising barristers, all of which arise on Clause 3.
I submit that the time the Government have proposed is utterly inadequate. I agree even the time I suggest would be inadequate, but it is an improvement on the time allowed by the Government. My time-table gives more time for discussion on Clauses 7, 8, and 9 and also Clause 10 and any new Clauses and the Schedules. Instead of one day for those I propose a day and a half, and I do not think the Government can say I am making a very excessive demand or anything they could not perfectly readily grant. I do not know what arguments the Government are going to advance against this proposal. They cannot, if they have any regard for honesty or the facts of the situation, suggest to the House that what they are proposing is sufficient, or that what I propose is too much. They will have to admit, I feel sure, that they are driven to this drastic system by the timetable of the Session which they have settled. The question, which I think hon. Members ought to address themselves to, is, ought this House to submit to so autocratic a time-table for the sessional legislation as the Government are asking the House to submit to this year? We all know the reasons which influence the Government in adopting this attitude. They have been expressed more forcibly than I could hope to give them, but, at the same time, let us recognise facts. Do not let hon. Members opposite pretend in resisting this Amendment that the time they have given is adequate. It is not if looked at from the point of view of similar legislation in the past, or of Bills that have already been discussed this Session.
Do not let us pretend it is because that is humbug. Let them merely say, "we are not going to give more time although we recognise it is wanted, because we insist on getting all this legislation through in one Session so as to gain the protection of the Parliament Act." That would be at least an honest attitude and one which the country would understand. It is useless to pretend so, even if the time compared, as the Prime Minister endeavoured to make out, favourably with that on the Bill of 1884, for that has nothing to do with modern conditions. After all whose fault is it that more hon. Members want to talk 779 now than used to in the eighties or even in the nineties. It is the fault of the democracy which returns Members now who talk more than Members used, and who are active politicians and prepared to represent the democracy not only by voting but by speaking in the House. The democracy demand that standard of their representatives. It may be one of the drawbacks of democracy that you get more garrulous representatives. But it is no answer to say that because representatives are wishful to talk therefore you are obliged to curb them and prevent them talking by such machinery as the Government have adopted. The true answer to the country is: You return Members who wish to express your views; you must pay for that by having legislation conducted more leisurely than perhaps you like—
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The Noble Lord is dealing with the matter in rather general terms. His Amendment is a strictly limited one, and after the long Debate we have had he should confine himself strictly to the Amendment.
§ Viscount HELMSLEY
I will, of course, bow to your ruling. I was only suggesting a reason why the Government should make the very moderate concession for which I ask. If the wide question is such as we suggest, it is the more necessary that the Government should concede this small point. I will not pursue the matter further. If the Government study the time-table suggested by this and consequential Amendments they will see that it has considerable advantages and will enable several Clauses and Amendments to be discussed which under their own time-table would receive no discussion whatever.
§ Mr. PEASE
I think if I were sitting on the Opposition side of the House I would try to move an Amendment of this kind. At the same time I do not think justice has quite been done to the attitude of the Government. It has been said that in allotting the days in this matter we have been guided by the period of the Session at which we have arrived. To be quite frank, before the little incident when the Government were defeated on the Home Rule Bill, by which we lost a week of Parliamentary time, I had a similar scheme to this drafted, in which on the merits of the various points to be raised 780 I had included one day less in the time to be given to the Committee stage. I thought that two Parliamentary days were adequate for the discussion of women suffrage, a question upon which the minds of most of us have been made up for a long time past, and upon which we know every argument that can be used for or against. However, those who were responsible for the Amendments asked me to find another day, and consequently I extended the seven days to eight. The noble Lord has suggested what he thinks is an improvement. He urges that more time should be given to Clause 3, and to questions such as the substitution of the County Court for revising barristers.
I have endeavoured to anticipate several of the points of the time-table that might be referred to, so that matters of substance should be given an opportunity of being discussed. Doubtless there is not always agreement between the two sides of the House as to whether adequate time is given. But as regards Clause 3, as I pointed out before the dinner hour, which deals with questions connected with revising barristers, county courts, and other subjects that arise out of a continuous registration scheme, they are a more fitting subject for discussion on the rules and before they come into operation under a Order in Council.
§ Mr. PEASE
I cannot say now. Of course, both sides of the House might not agree as to what is reasonable and adequate time. Certainly we intend to give a fair opportunity to discuss the rules. In the event of the House indicating generally that they are opposed to the rules as presented, and that they required amendment, it will be competent for the Government to withdraw them and substitute others which would have to be laid before the House for thirty days. In the case of Schedule 2, we do not intend by placing the rules on the Table of the House to deprive hon. Members of a fair opportunity of discussing them. I, with my colleagues here, carefully looked at all the points, and under the circumstances, and the period of the Session, it is impossible to accept the Amendment.
§ 12.0 M.
§ Mr. HICKS BEACH
My noble Friend's proposition is not an extreme one, but, as anyone might expect from him, a moderate one. Anyone who has looked at the various Clauses in the Bill will agree that a fair and proper opportunity must be given for discussion. Sixteen days would not be too much. The Chancellor of the Exchequer was good enough to say that he hated the guillotine and all its methods, and that he subsequently would be very glad, with hon. Gentlemen on this side, to devise some method for legitimately shortening discussion on Bills. This is not of much use to us now. We very strongly object to the proposal of the Government. The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down has told us that he was so softhearted that though a week ago he proposed to allocate shorter time, he increased it. It is extraordinary how familiar the Government seem to get with the process of the guillotine. They get up one after another and say there is nothing they detest more than the guillotine, but on the occasion of each new measure they bring forward, their Guillotine Motions become sharper and more general. They are like surgeons who when first beginning serious operations assure their patients there is nothing they object to more strongly, but when they get accustomed to performing those operations no sooner do they look at a patient than they declare he must be opened up to have something cut out. That is the process of mind of the Government of the present time. Let us look for a minute at some of the things to be got through under the time-table at each stage of this Bill. On the fourth day the first Sub-section of Clause 1 is to be got through in three and a half hours. Quite apart from the actual points raised by that Sub-section it is conceivable that the question of inserting in the Bill some provision that the Bill shall not take effect until after a redistribution of seats, might be in order. I understand it must be moved on that particular Clause. We are told that is a subject very dear to the heart of the Government, although nothing is more dear to them than reform of the House of Lords.
I fancy a very interesting discussion might take place as to whether a redistribution of seats should come into operation simultaneously with the provisions of this Bill, and might take up the whole time allotted to this Sub-section. Besides that there is the question of the age of the 782 voter. If you are going to put on the register everyone who resides for six months in a certain place, the question of the age at which the voter should become entitled to be put upon the register is not a small point. Then, there is the question of plural voting. The Chancellor of the Exchequer told us that no Liberal candidate knew his business at the last two or three General Elections unless he advocated the abolition of plural voting. I quite understand that. We know the majority of Liberals are opposed to plural voting because the majority of plural voters happen to be Conservatives, and it goes down very well on Liberal platforms to propose to take away votes from a large number of people who record their votes in favour of the Conservative party; but I think in common decency you might allow a little time for the discussion of a provision that proposes to take away votes from about 100,000 people. But even if the holders of those votes happen to be your political opponents, surely you might allow more than three and a half hours to the House to decide whether those votes should be taken away from them for ever or not.
In 1906, when the Government had a very much larger majority, it took at least fourteen days to get through with their Plural Voting Bill. The result of the General Election that followed was to hand over 100 seats to the Unionist party. I think the least the Government might do upon this occasion is to give the opponents of this proposal some opportunity of voicing the opinions of those who hold plural votes. That is impossible under the present timetable. On the sixth day, between the hours of 7.30 and 10.30, you have to discuss the whole system of continuous registration, whether it is desirable to have this registration taking place once a month, or once in six months or twelve months, and whether it is desirable that the rules for this registration should be made by an Order in Council or by a Schedule in the Bill. I am afraid that the House does not realise the immense importance of these rules, and the enormous effect they will have upon the general expenditure of candidates for Parliament in every constituency thoughout the country. If you abolish the present system of revising barristers and substitute the county court judge and the county court procedure it follows that everybody who appears before the court will have to be represented by a solicitor.
§ Mr. HICKS BEACH
Those who are well versed in the procedure of registration assure me that under the rules of the county court a person cannot appear unless represented by a solicitor.
§ Mr. HICKS BEACH
Clause 3 has to do with continuous registration, and refers to the rules made by Order in Council and that has to be discussed between 7.30 and 10.30 on one evening. It is all very well to say that these Orders in Council will lie on the Table for thirty days, but will any adequate time be given for their discussion. They will probably be laid in May or June, and the Government will say, "we will take such and such a Bill, and after 10.30 the House can discuss the Order in Council." There is no guarantee that the House will be given a suitable opportunity for discussing these rules. If the House is to exercise any authority over the form of these rules they ought to be put in the Bill, and the Government have no business to put them in and then take them out again because there is no time to discuss them under the Guillotine Resolution. I hope those hon. Members who have any regard for the administration of the registration laws, and incidentally any regard for the future expenses of hon. Members on both sides in seeing that the registration is conducted properly, will impress upon the Government the necessity of giving a full and complete opportunity for the discussion of these rules, whether under an Order in Council or by having them actually embodied in the Bill. There are various other matters which immensely increase the total cost of registration which under this Bill, instead of being less, will be found to be at least four times as much as it is at the present time.
To show how absolutely inadequate the time allowance is I will refer to a number of things which are to be discussed on the eighth day. First of all, between the hours of 4.0 and 7.30, we are to discuss the total abolition of the University seats. That may be a very desirable thing from the point of view of hon. Members opposite, all the Universities happening to return Members of the Opposition, but, after all, those who vote for the University representatives are not all of one frame of mind, and I have 784 no doubt a great many Liberal voters in the University seats have just as strong an objection to the abolition of University representatives as we have. The least the Government can do when they are making a drastic proposal of this kind is to give their opponents a fair opportunity of putting their case before the House and submitting it to the final judgment of the country. We are also, before the hour of 7.30, to discuss all the Definition Clauses, and those who have followed Bills through the Committee Stage know Definition Clauses do not go through without some discussion. Between 7.30 and 10.30 we are to discuss Clause 10, which fixes the date when the Act is to come into force, a rather important date from the point of view of the Government, because, so far as I can understand, they are absolutely determined not to submit the result of their deeds of the last few years to the old electorate which returned them, but to go to the country on an entirely new franchise with an extra number of people, it may be 23,000,000, added. Incidentally, between 7.30 and 10.30, we are to discuss not only Clause 10, but also all the new Clauses and the Schedules.
I do not think it is very likely, but it is possible even this Government may at last have a revolt amongst their supporters and that some of them may decline to omit Schedule 2 altogether, and insist upon it being retained in the Bill. That would open up a very wide field of discussion indeed, and obviously it would be absurd for that to be discussed between 7.30 and 10.30 along with other things. Then there are the new Clauses. It is quite possible, owing to the Government in their press of work, not having given the necessary thought and consideration to the matter, that there are a great many points which have been omitted from the Bill. For instance, if the Opposition are able to show no proper provision has been made for soldiers and sailors as voters, they must obviously be dealt with in some new Clause. It is absurd to think the House can adequately discuss all the Clauses, 7, 8, 9, and 10, and the Schedules and new Clauses in one Parliamentary day. I know it is not much use appealing to the Government, but I do appeal to their supporters, who still set some value on our proceedings in Parliament and who do not look upon them as an absolute farce, to exercise some pressure upon the Government to try and persuade them to at least devote two more days to what I 785 think can only be the merest modicum of discussion that ought to be given to the Bill.
§ Mr. SANDERS
I think that proposal of my Noble Friend is a fair one, and if the right hon. Gentleman opposite cannot accept it, I hope that, at least, he will give us some assurance that one or two of the subjects to which we attach great importance should have some chance of being discussed and some chance also of being voted upon. As the right hon. Gentleman knows, unless Amendments are put down in the name of the Government, not only can they not be discussed, but if the whole time is taken up by discussing something else they cannot be voted upon. This Amendment asks for more time for three particular parts of the Bill, Clause 1, Clause 2 and the new Clauses. I think that with regard to Clause 1 that even the right hon. Gentleman will acknowledge both that the first and second parts of the Clause is inadequate. I am afraid that if the timetable is adhered to there are several questions on this Clause, to which we attach great importance, which may not really be discussed at all. Let me call attention to one of them. The first Amendment on the Paper, putting the question of the women aside, which I believe is in order, is an Amendment dealing with the age and is put down by an hon. Gentleman opposite. There are only three hours given for discussion and these three hours I have no doubt will be taken up by discussing whether the age should be twenty-one or twenty-five, a subject which might properly be discussed for a long time; and even for three hours.
I must remind the right hon. Gentleman that the subject is not raised on this side of the House. It is raised by one of his own supporters, and therefore questions coming up afterwards might, by the direct action of one of his own supporters, have no chance of being discussed at all. For instance, the question of the plural voter may be entirely cut out from discussion. Another question which will be entirely cut out according to the rules of order is the question of the university franchise. If an Amendment dealing with the university franchise on the first Clause cannot be put, then, I am informed, subsequent discussion of that question will not be in order. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to give that point his consideration and see that we shall not be debarred from discussing that important question. As to the second part of the Clause we attach 786 importance first to the question of occupiers. That again I must remind the right hon. Gentleman is raised by his own Amendment. It is quite possible that may not come on until the end of the Debate.
Other Members have opportunities. For instance the hon. Member for Dudley (Sir A Griffith-Boscawen) raises the whole question of having one franchise for Local Government and Parliamentary purposes. That may take up a long time and it comes before the question of occupiers. We ought really to have a proper opportunity of discussing the question of occupiers. In the same Clause is the question of what continuous residence means. Again the right hon. Gentleman must acknowledge we should have some opportunity of discussing that. With regard to Clause 3, I did not hear the right hon. Gentleman's speech earlier in the evening, and I speak rather in the dark, but I understand that he said ho looked upon this question of continuous registration as one of the most complicated and difficult questions in the whole Bill. This House should not leave the matter to an Order in Council, but should have an opportunity of deciding whether or not registration should be continuous or should be at periods of three months, four months, or six months. All would agree that is a subject on which Parliament ought to give its decision. Then we have the new Clauses. There are two of very great importance in which we are particularly interested—one, the franchise of soldiers and sailors—the other, the question of exempting the City of London from the provisions of the Bill. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to give us some assurance that at some time we shall have an opportunity of discussing the matters I have mentioned. Under this time-table it is probable that we shall have no chance of discussion or even voting upon these subjects at all. I certainly support the Amendment.
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
My hon. Friend has just appealed to the right hon. Gentleman to give an assurance that an opportunity will be given for discussing certain matters. If the House passes the timetable as it is, it is impossible that any such assurance can be given. I desire to reply to two remarks made by the right hon. Gentleman, first as to the question of rules. Under Clause 3 the very important matter of registration is to be dealt with in the rules, in addition to many other important matters, such as 787 the continued existence of revising barristers, which involves a question of principle, and is one of the greatest importance to the unfortunate individuals. There is also the important question as to procedure before a county court. The rules, with regard to that, are well-known, and have been jealously guarded. They provide that no persons except solicitors are entitled to appear in a county court—of course there are the plaintiff and defendant, and in other cases certain representatives. That is to be dealt with by the rules. What is the value in that case of the assurance given by the right hon. Gentleman?
The Prime Minister and the right hon. Gentleman gave assurances that there would be discussion on these rules. That sounds all right, but it is an absolute sham for all practical purposes. What happens is that the rules are drawn up, pages and pages of them, in a Government office, and then laid upon the Table of this House. I do not know whether all hon. Members know where the Table is in that connection. It takes new Members a long time to find out. If we are watchful enough, as I suppose we shall be in this case, we shall find out what rules have been laid. The right hon. Gentlemen says the Government will give us time to discuss them. The whole of the rules are left there, and some time during the thirty days, if the Government fulfil their pledge, we may have an opportunity of discussing it, but no opportunity will be given to move Amendments. What possible good will it be to discuss questions of detail in a general speech with Mr. Speaker in the Chair when the Minister would reply on some totally different point and could not be expected to deal with all details? It would be a sham to say the House would be discussing the rules in any real sense. They can only be discussed on an Address to the Crown to reject them, and unless you reject them en bloc you could not move any Amendment in detail. Of course that is not discussion of the rules. The idea of rules lying on the Table is a farce.
The right hon. Gentleman told us he had really made up his mind about the Closure Resolution last October and had substantially arrived at the Time Table of to-day. If that is so it shows how absolutely inadequate the five days are, because can you imagine any Bill more 788 completely changed than the Bill on Second Reading and the Bill to-day? Can you imagine anyone thinking five days adequate to discuss a Bill which put forward residence and occupation as a proper qualification when you alter the whole Bill and cut out occupation entirely? The whole importance of the Bill lies in these Amendments which were not put down for many months afterwards and which even in their completed form were only handed in last night. If the time-table was made in October it is wholly inadequate at present. May I point out the very important questions of principle which must be discussed in Committee. Take such a point as this. Everyone has said to-day that he is anxious for redistribution to come in before this Bill comes into force, and the Government have given a pledge in respect to that. The Chancellor of the Exchequer said he was as anxious as anyone else but he pointed out that if he had put a clause in the Bill the House of Lords might hang up the Bill by refusing the redistribution. That being so, it would be only necessary to draft half a dozen Amendments. For instance, such an Amendment as this:—"Until a Bill for redistribution has been passed by the House of Commons "—would be an adequate safeguard for any action on the part of the House of Lords. Possibly the Chancellor would not accept that in two minutes and therefore we should have to discuss it again. Surely the Government might accept it or see some other safeguard put in. That would be pretty important to put into the Bill, but there is hardly any prospect for that being discussed at all.
I submit that in this matter we are going rather too far. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, in the very eloquent speech he made this evening, said, "Do you think I am going to put my head into the noose of the House of Lords?" What I desire to know is, are we Back Bench people—it does not matter about what side we sit upon—going to put our heads into a noose for the Front Bench people to tie whenever they like? We are asking for a very small extension of time. There is not a single man in this House who believes that the time given to this important matter ought not to be extended. It lies with the Back Benches to say whether they will submit to this or not. The Chancellor of the Exchequer told us that he thought when we got into power we would do just as bad. Very likely. I will not be on the Front Bench. I daresay our Front Bench 789 will be just as bad. That is why I ask Back Bench Members not to put despotic power into the hands of the Front Bench. If we put our heads into this noose we shall Buffer from it. You and I of the Back Benches will suffer by making the House of Commons a laughing-stock. I do ask hon. Members opposite—of course they will not vote against the Government—I ask them by bringing pressure to bear upon the Government to stop this great danger, as I submit it is, to fair discussion in the House of Commons, more especially to the adequate discussion of what after all is a very far-reaching Bill at this late stage of the Session.
§ Mr. BAIRD
The engaging frankness displayed by the right hon. Gentleman in answering my hon. Friend almost disarmed opposition if it had not been that the subject is one of so serious a character. I hardly think the line the right hon. Gentleman took could have been more damaging to the case. He spoke about the circumstances of the case and the period of the Session. What on earth have the circumstances of the case or the period of the Session got to do with anybody but the Government itself? This is a measure which seeks to alter the whole of our electoral system, and which will be applicable, not only to this Government, but to many Governments after it. I certainly think the Back Benchers ought to pay some attention to this matter. It is quite true that the hon. Member who spoke for the Labour party this afternoon, and who deplored the lack of attendance on the part of members—but who is now absent himself—said he thought the business of the House of Commons was to attend more regularly and, if a Second Reading had been given to a measure, to concentrate their attention to improving the difficult Clauses of the Bill. Unfortunately the good intentions of the hon. Gentleman have evaporated and he is no longer in his place. How can the House give up all these liberties, enumerated by the hon. Member, when we know that we shall not only have no opportunity of discussing but probably no opportunity of voting.
I associate myself with the expressions of opinion as to the degradation of the House of Commons which has been brought about by the measures of hon. Members opposite. Hon. Members on this side who have spoken—nobody on the other side has shown any inclination to speak—have drawn attention to the various important items in this Bill which 790 cannot possibly be discussed under the time-table submitted by the Government I will not elaborate the various details because they have all been drawn attention to. Are we to have no expression of opinion from the Front Bench? Do they admit or deny that the time given is inadequate? After all, if you compare the time given for the discussion of the last Franchise measure, which was before the House in 1884, on that occasion there were eleven days in Committee and there was then no question of disenfranchising any section of the population. I must say that I thought in the remarks of the Prime Minister this afternoon he struck a mean between the people who are disfranchised and the people who are going to be enfranchised and he said the net result was that a certain increased number of people were going to be enfranchised. That is a marvellous piece of sophistry on the part of the right hon. Gentleman.
After all, have hon. Members opposite any reason to suppose that there is any desire for an extension of the franchise in the country? Are they actuated by any motives except the very natural one in their case that they realise they have exhausted the mandate of the voters in the country and they hope that by flooding the constituencies with a new lot of voters, who will probably be ignorant and will be influenced by speeches of the Lord Advocate and other Members of that kind, they will be given a further period of office. I have never once had any representation made to me in favour of the extension of the franchise. Therefore it seems to me that before we put this measure on the Statute Book it is desirable that we should have every opportunity of thrashing out the various proposals suggested by the Government. The time-table of the Government does not afford an adequate opportunity for discussing the proposals which the Government are making. The points raised are innumerable; the interests affected are gigantic, and yet we are rushing this Bill through at the end of a Session. There will be no possibility of discussing great questions, simply and solely because, in the words of the right hon. Gentleman who replied on behalf of the Government, this course is rendered necessary, not because the interests of the people are sufficiently safeguarded, but solely and entirely because the circumstances of the case and the period of the Session render this course 791 desirable. I think that is a totally inadequate reason for supporting a time-table of this kind, curtailing as it does the discussion of one of the most important Bills, one which will rank probably in front of all the Bills we have passed this Session-important as they are.
§ Mr. MALCOLM
Like other speakers who have preceded me, I am astonished at the moderation of the Amendment of my hon. and learned Friend. I shall support it, and I can only wish that the Minister in charge of the Bill could be free to support it and so show some small token of goodwill towards the Opposition to whom he must look in the long run to help him through with a great Bill of this kind. I am quite sure that any intelligent stranger, who came down to sit in the Gallery and hear the introduction of the Committee stage of the greatest Reform Bill of modern times, and who saw this exiguous time-table, would think one of two things about the Bill; cither that it is supremely unimportant and required little discussion, or else that it is divinely inspired, and therefore required no discussion on the part of the Opposition at all. But look at the Bill! There are twenty-six pages, ten Clauses and four Schedules. I wonder how long the document must have taken to draft. Certainly not eight days such as are allowed to criticise it; much more likely ten weeks or months we should find if the Minister of Education would tell us the whole secret of the work of the department on the Bill.
Therefore unless the House of Commons is to become simply a gramophone of a public department, to say ditto to everything that a public department proposes in a Bill, we should be given much more time to discuss this serious and important measure. It must surely be worthy of at least ten days discussion if the Government have put into the Bill months of hard work in their departments. If it is to stand as an historic Franchise Bill—the greatest Franchise Bill of this or any other time—then I think a great deal
§ of consent is necessary on this side of the House, otherwise the whole electoral system will be put to very great inconvenience and confusion in the future. Eight days might be enough in Committee for a really perfect Bill, but is this Bill so perfect? We know perfectly well that it is not. It is not even the Bill we had before us on Second Reading. It has undergone tremendous alterations even without a single word of discussion of its details. I am quite sure that if the Government were not so anxious about the quantity, but rather more anxious about the quality, of their legislation, they would get a very much better Bill. In eight days we might be able to redeem some of the sins of commission in the Bill, but then there are the sins of omission. The question of redistribution ought to be allowed two or three days of Parliamentary time, quite as much time as Amendments dealing with extending the franchise to women. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has spoken of the Act of 1884, but that is no analogy at all. There is all the difference between a trap and an omnibus. This is an omnibus Bill. In Clauses, questions are dealt with which should be the subject matter of separate Bills, for instance, the parliamentary franchise, registration, plural voting, and university constituency disfranchisement. Every one of these questions ought to be dealt with in a separate Bill, and have a separate Committee stage. To say that all these matters are to be dealt with in eight days is to put upon the Opposition a tyranny which is very difficult to bear, especially seeing the enormous amount of difference there is on both sides of the House with regard to the Woman Suffrage Amendments, which are to take up the next three days of our Parliamentary time.
§ Mr. PEASE rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 194; Noes, 92.795
|Division No. 549.]||AYES.||[12.49 a.m.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour)||Barnes, George N.||Brady, P. J.|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Barton, William||Brocklehurst, William B.|
|Addison, Dr. C.||Benn, W. W. (Tower Hamlets, S. Geo.)||Brunner, J. F. L.|
|Allen, Arthur Acland (Dumbartonshire)||Bentham, George Jackson||Burns, Rt. Hon. John|
|Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud)||Boland, John Plus||Byles, Sir William Pollard|
|Arnold, Sydney||Booth, Frederick Handel||Carr-Gomm, H. W.|
|Baker, Harold T. (Accrington)||Bowerman, C. W.||Cawley, H. T. (Heywood)|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)||Chapple, Dr. William Allen|
|Clancy, John J.||Hughes, Spencer Leigh||Pollard, Sir George H.|
|Clough, William||John, Edward Thomas||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.|
|Clynes, John R.||Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)|
|Collins, Godfrey P. (Greenock)||Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Pringle, William M, R.|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)||Radford, G.H.|
|Cotton, William Francis||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||Jones, William S. Glyn- (Stepney)||Reddy, M.|
|Crumley, Patrick||Jowett, Frederick William||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Cullinan, John||Joyce, Michael||Redmond, William (Clare, E.)|
|Davies, Timothy (Lines., Louth)||Keating, Matthew||Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Rendall, Athelstan|
|Dawes, J. A.||Kilbride, Denis||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)|
|Do Forest, Baron||King, J.||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Delany, William||Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon,S.Molton)||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Devlin, Joseph||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||Robinson, Sidney|
|Doris, William||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)|
|Duffy, William J.||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rld, Cockerm'th)||Roche, Augustine (Louth)|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Levy, Sir Maurice||Rowlands, James|
|Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.)||Lewis, John Herbert||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Elverston, Sir Harold||London, T.||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||Lyell, Charles Henry||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)||Lynch, A. A.||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)|
|Farrell, James Patrick||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Sheehy, David|
|Fenwick. Rt. Hon. Charles||MacNeill, J. G. Swift (Donegal, South)||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson||Macpherson, James Ian||Shortt, Edward|
|Ffrench, Peter||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John Allsebrook|
|Field, William||McGhee, Richard||Smith, Albert (Lanes., Clitheroe)|
|Fiennes, Hon. Eustace Edward||M'Laren, Hon. F.W.S. (Lincs.,Spalding)||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim)|
|Fitzgibbon, John||M'Laren, Hon. H. D. (Leics.)||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N.W.)|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Marshall, Arthur Harold||Sutherland, J. E.|
|France, Gerald Ashburner||Meagher, Michael||Sutton, John E.|
|George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Gill, A. H.||Molloy, Michael||Taylor, Thomas (Bolton)|
|Gladstone, W. G. C.||Mond, Sir Alfred Moritz||Tennant, Harold John|
|Glanville, H. J.||Mooney, J. J.||Thome, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Goldstone, Frank||Morgan, George Hay||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Greenwood, Hamar (Sunderland)||Muldoon, John||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Griffith, Ellis Jones||Munro, R.||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Guest, Hon. Major C. H. C. (Pembroke)||Murray, Captain Hon. Arthur C.||Verney, Sir Harry|
|Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)||Nolan, Joseph||Wadsworth, J.|
|Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||Nugent, Sir Walter Richard||Walsh, Stephen (Lanes., Ince)|
|Hackett, J.||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Waring, Walter|
|Hancock, John George||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay|
|Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Webb, H.|
|Hardle, J. Keir||O'Donnell, Thomas||White, J. Dundas (Glas., Tradeston)|
|Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, W.)||O'Dowd, John||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N.E.)||O'Grady, James||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||0'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)||Whyte, Alexander F.|
|Hayden, John Patrick||O'Malley, William||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Hayward, Evan||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)||Williams, Liewelyn (Carmarthen)|
|Hazleton, Richard||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Wilson. W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Helme, Sir Norval Watson||O'Shee, James John||Young, W. (Perthshire, E.)|
|Higham, John Sharp||O'Sullivan, Timothy|
|Hodge, John||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Hogge, James Myles||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.|
|Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)|
|Hudson, Walter||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)|
|Baird, J. L.||Courthope, George Loyd||Hunt, Rowland|
|Balcarres, Lord||Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, East)|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Joynson-Hicks, William|
|Barnston, Harry||Crichton-Stuart, Lord Ninlan||Lewisham, Viscount|
|Bigland. Alfred||Doughty, Sir George||Lloyd, George Ambrose|
|Bird, A.||Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.||Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey)|
|Boles, Lieut.-Col. Dennis Fortescue||Gibbs, G. A.||Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droitwich)|
|Boyle, William (Norfolk, Mid)||Glazebrook, Captain Philip K.||Macmaster, Donald|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Goldsmith, Frank||Malcolm, Ian|
|Burn, Colonel C. R.||Grant, J. A.||Markham, Sir Arthur Basil|
|Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. (Dublin Univ.)||Greene, W. R,||Moore, William|
|Campion, W. R.||Gretton, John||Mount, William Arthur|
|Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Guinness, Hon. Rupert (Essex, S.E.)||Neville, Reginald J. N.|
|Cassel, Felix||Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)||Newdegate, F. A.|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight)||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)|
|Cator, John||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Norton-Griffiths, J.|
|Cave, George||Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, S.)||Peel, Captain R. F. (Woodbridge)|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Hewins, William Albert Samuel||Peto, Basil Edward|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University)||Hickman, Colonel Thomas E,||Pollock, Ernest Murray|
|Chaloner, Col. R. G. W.||Hill, Sir Clement L.||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Clay, Captain H. H. Spender||Hohler, G. F.||Pryce-Jones, Col. E.|
|Clive, Captain Percy Arctic||Home, E. (Surrey, Guildford)||Quitter, Sir William Eley C,|
|Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel||Starkey, John Ralph||White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)|
|Remnant, Sir James Farquharson||Stewart, Gershom||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)||Sykes, Mark (Hull, Central)||Wills, Sir Gilbert|
|Rothschild, Lionel de||Talbot, Lord E.||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)||Thynne, Lord A.||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Sanders, Robert Arthur||Tobin, Alfred Aspinall||Worthington-Evans, L.|
|Sassoon, Sir Philip||Touche, George Alexander|
|Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)||Ward, A. S. (Herts, Watford)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Viscount Helmsley and Mr. Hicks Beach.|
|Smith, Rt. Hon. F. E. (L'p'l., Walton)||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|Smith, Harold (Warrington)||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
§ Question put accordingly, "That the word 'eight' stand part of the Question."796
§ The House divided: Ayes, 193; Noes, 92.797
|Division No. 550.]||AYES.||[12.56 a.m.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour)||Hancock, John George||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||O'Shee, James John|
|Addison, Dr. C.||Hardie, J. Keir||O'Sullivan, Timothy|
|Allen, Arthur Acland (Dumbartonshire)||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, W.)||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud)||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N.E.)||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)|
|Arnold, Sydney||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)|
|Baker, Harold T. (Accrington)||Hayden, John Patrick||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)|
|Barnes, George N.||Hayward, Evan||Pollard, Sir George H.|
|Barton, William||Hazleton, Richard||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.|
|Benn, W. W. (Tower Hamlets, S. Geo.)||Helme, Sir Norval Watson||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)|
|Bentham, George Jackson||Higham, John Sharp||Pringle, William M. R.|
|Boland, John Pius||Hodge, John||Radford, G. H.|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Hogge, James Myles||Rattan, Peter Wilson|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Reddy, M.|
|Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)||Hudson, Walter||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Brady, P. J.||Hughes, Spencer Leigh||Redmond, William (Clare, E.)|
|Brocklehurst, William B.||John, Edward Thomas||Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)|
|Brunner, J. F. L.||Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)||Rendall, Atheistan|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Cawley, H. T. (Heywood)||Jones, William S. Glyn- (Stepney)||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Jowett, Frederick William||Robinson, Sidney|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Joyce, Michael||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)|
|Clough, William||Keating, Matthew||Roche, Augustine (Louth)|
|Clynes, John R.||Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Rowlands, James|
|Collins, Godfrey P. (Greenock)||Kilbride, Denis||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||King, J.||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Cotton, William Francis||Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon, S.Molton)||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)|
|Crumley, Patrick||Lardner, James Carrige Rusho||Sheehy, David|
|Cullinan, John||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)||Sherwell, Arthur James.|
|Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rid, Cockerm'th)||Shortt, Edward|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Levy, Sir Maurice||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John Allsebrook|
|Dawes, J. A.||Lewis, John Herbert||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)|
|De Forest, Baron||London, T.||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim)|
|Delany, William||Lyell, Charles Henry||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N.W.)|
|Devlin, Joseph||Lynch, A. A.||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Sutherland, J. E.|
|Doris, William||MacNeill, J. G. Swift (Donegal; South)||Sutton, John E.|
|Duffy, William J.||Macpherson, James Ian||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Taylor, Thomas (Bolton)|
|Edwards, A. Clement (Glamorgan, E.)||McGhee, Richard||Tennant, Harold John|
|Elverston, Sir Harold||M'Laren, Hon. F.W.S. (Lincs.,Spalding)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||M'Laren, Hon. H. D. (Leics.)||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)||Marshall, Arthur Harold||Trevelyan, Charles Philip|
|Farrell, James Patrick||Meagher, Michael||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Verney, Sir Harry|
|Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson||Molloy, Michael||Wadsworth, J.|
|Ffrench, Peter||Mond, Sir Alfred Moritz||Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)|
|Field, William||Mooney, John J.||Waring, Walter|
|Fiennes, Hon. Eustace Edward||Morgan, George Hay||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay|
|Fitzgibbon, John||Muldoon, John||Watt, Henry Anderson|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Munro, R.||White, J. Dundas (Glas., Tradeston)|
|France, Gerald Ashburner||Murray, Captain Hon. Arthur C.||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd||Nolan, Joseph||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Gill, A. H.||Nugent, Sir Walter Richard||Whyte, A. F. (Perth)|
|Gladstone, W. G. C.||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Glanville, H. J.||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Williams, Liewelyn (Carmarthen)|
|Goldstone, Frank||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Greenwood, Hamar (Sunderland)||O'Donnell, Thomas||Young, W. (Perthshire, E.)|
|Griffith, Ellis Jones||O'Dowd, John|
|Guest, Hon. Major C. H. C. (Pembroke)||O'Grady, James|
|Guest, Hon Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)||O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.|
|Gwynn, Stephen (Lucius (Gatway)||O'Malley, William|
|Hackett, J.||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)|
|Baird, J. L.||Greene, W. R.||Pryce-Jones, Colonel E.|
|Balcarres, Lord||Gretton, John||Quilter, Sir William Eley C.|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Guinness, Hon. Rupert (Essex, S.E.)||Rawlinson, Sir John Frederick Peel|
|Barnston, Harry||Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)||Remnant, James Faruharson|
|Bigland, Alfred A.||Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight)||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Bird, A.||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Rothschild, Lionel de|
|Boles, Lieut.-Col. Dennis Fortescue||Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, S.)||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool., W. Derby)|
|Boyle, William (Norfolk, Mid)||Hewins, William Albert Samuel||Sanders, Robert Arthur|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Hickman, Colonel Thomas E.||Sassoon, Sir Philip|
|Burn, Colonel C. R.||Hill, Sir Clement L.||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. (Dublin Univ.)||Hohler, G. F.||Smith, Rt. Hon. F. E. (L'p'l., Walton)|
|Campion, W. R.||Horne, E. (Surrey, Guildford)||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Hunt, Rowland||Starkey, John Ralph|
|Cassel, Felix||Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, East)||Stewart, Gershom|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Joynson-Hicks, William||Sykes, Mark (Hull, Central)|
|Cator, John||Lewisham, Viscount||Talbot, Lord E.|
|Cave, George||Lloyd, George Ambrose||Thynne, Lord A.|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey)||Tobin, Alfred Aspinall|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University)||Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droitwich)||Touche, George Alexander|
|Chaloner, Col. R. G. W.||Macmaster, Donald||Ward, A. S. (Herts, Watford)|
|Clay, Capt. H. H. Spender||Malcolm, Ian||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|Clive, Captain Percy Archer||Markham, Sir Arthur Basil||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Courthope, George Loyd||Moore, William||White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)|
|Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Mount, William Arthur||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Neville, Reginald J. N.||Wills, Sir Gilbert|
|Crichton-Stuart, Lord Ninian||Newdegate, F. A.||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Doughty, Sir George||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.||Norton-Griffiths, J.||Worthington-Evans, L.|
|Gibbs, G. A.||Peel, Capt. R. F. (Woodbridge)|
|Glazebrook, Captain Philip K.||Peto, Basil Edward||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Viscount Helmsley and Mr. Hicks Beach.|
|Goldsmith, Frank||Pollock, Ernest Murray|
|Grant, J. A.||Pretyman, Ernest George|
§ Mr. HICKS BEACH
I beg to move in (1) Committee stage, to leave out the words:
"Provided that if it is not in order to move the Amendments constituting the proceedings on the third allotted day, this Order shall have effect as if seven allotted days were substituted in the foregoing provision for eight allotted days."
That means that if on the third allotted day the remaining Women Suffrage Amendments are ruled out of order in consequence of the Division that has taken place on the previous day, the number of days allotted to the Committee stage of the Bill is to be deduced from eight to seven. I move to omit that provision, in the first place, because I feel that the Government are taking a very arbitrary line in inserting any provision at all as regards the selection of any particular Amendment. I do not believe any other Guillotine Resolution has been adopted which has given the Government authority to select Amendments out of their order and place them in a conspicuous and favoured position in the time-table.
My Amendment is also a reasonable one for the reason that the Government have evidently considered their time-table with special care and have come to the conclusion that the most they can allow to the Committee stage of this Bill is eight days. Obviously, if they could not allow that time for the Committee stage of the Bill 798 they would never have put eight days ill the Guillotine Resolution. If they admit that they have got eight days to spare, I say that the eight days ought to be allotted to the discussion on the Committee stage whatever views the House as a whole may take in their decision upon the Amendments which are to be moved on the first two days of the Guillotine Resolution. It seems to me most arbitrary on the part of the Government to say to the House:—"You have eight days in which to discuss this Bill in Committee. If you choose to curtail discussion by giving a particular vote on the second day, you shall only have seven days to discuss the Bill in Committee instead of the eight days which we have allowed in our timetable." I think that is such an unreasonable proposition that any further argument on the point is unnecessary, and I do in all sincerity appeal once more to the Government to consider whether they cannot give us a little more time to discuss the very important provisions of this Bill. If we out of our consciousness decide that women are not to be given the vote under this Bill the least that the Government can do is to give us that extra day and a half which will be cut out of our discussion on the Women Suffrage question, by allowing us to debate some of the points of the Bill which obviously can never be discussed at all if only seven days are to be allowed for the Committee stage.
§ Mr. PEASE
I am very sorry that I must repeat what I have already said to the House. I have indicated that the Government have given their best consideration to the allotment of time, and that apart from the Women Suffrage question they came to the decision sometime ago that five days for the Committee stage was adequate. Then there arose the question as to how much time we could give to the discussion of the Women Suffrage question. We thought in the first instance that two days was ample, but on representation being made to us that three days should be given to this subject, and rather than the allegation should be made that we were trying to escape from the pledge we had given that adequate time should be given we met the movers of the various Amendments and inserted another day. If by the retention of the word "male" in the Bill a day is saved on the Women Suffrage debate I
§ really see no reason why we should give that extra time for debate on the rest of the Bill when we have come to the decision that five days is enough for the other portions of the Bill.
§ Mr. HICKS BEACH
I can only say in reply that I suppose the Government are aware of what they are doing. They are deliberately saying to the House of Commons: "If you vote against Women Suffrage you get your holiday a day and a half sooner." Although I am an anti-suffragist myself I do submit that the Government ought not to say in effect to the anti-suffragist that by voting against Women Suffrage they will get away sooner."
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 186; Noes, 68.801
|Division No. 551.]||AYES.||[1.11 a.m.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour)||Fiennes, Hon. Eustace Edward||Lynch, A. A.|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Fitzgibbon, John||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.|
|Addison, Dr. C.||Flavin, Michael Joseph||MacNeill, J. G. Swift (Donegal, South)|
|Allen, Arthur Acland (Dumbartonshire)||France, Gerald Ashburner||Macpherson, James Ian|
|Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud)||George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd||MacVeagh, Jeremiah|
|Arnold, Sydney||Gill, A. H.||McGhee, Richard|
|Baker, Harold T. (Accrington)||Gladstone, W. G. C.||M'Laren, Hon. F.W.S. (Lines Spalding)|
|Barnes, George N.||Glanville, H. J.||M'Laren, Hon. H. D. (Leics.)|
|Barton, William||Goldstone, Frank||Marshall, Arthur Harold|
|Benn, W. W. (Tower Hamlets, S. Geo.)||Greenwood, Hamar (Sunderland)||Meagher, Michael|
|Bentham, George Jackson||Griffith, Ellis Jones||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)|
|Boland, John Pius||Gulland, John William||Molloy, Michael|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||Mond, Sir Alfred Moritz|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Hackett, J.||Mooney, J. J.|
|Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)||Hancock, John George||Morgan, George Hay|
|Brady, P. J.||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Muldoon, John|
|Brunner, J. F. L.||Hardle, J. Keir||Munro, R.|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, W.)||Murray, Captain Hon. Arthur C.|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N.E.)||Nolan, Joseph|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Nugent, Sir Walter Richard|
|Cawley, H. T. (Heywood)||Hayden, John Patrick||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Hayward, Evan||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Hazleton, Richard||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Clough, William||Helme, Sir Norval Watson||O'Donnell, Thomas|
|Clynes, John R.||Higham, John Sharp||O'Dowd, John|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A,||Hodge, John||O'Grady, James|
|Cotton, William Francis||Hogge, James Myles||O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)|
|Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||Hudson, Walter||O'Malley, William|
|Crumley, Patrick||Hughes, Spencer Leigh||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)|
|Cullinan, John||Illingworth, Percy H.||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Davies, Timothy (Lincs, Louth)||John, Edward Thomas||O'Shee, James John|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)||O'Sullivan, Timothy|
|Dawes, J. A.||Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|De Forest, Baron||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)|
|Delany, William||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)|
|Devlin, Joseph||Jones, William S. Glyn- (Stepney)||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Jowett, Frederick William||Pollard, Sir George H.|
|Doris, William||Joyce, Michael||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.|
|Duffy, W. J.||Keating, Matthew||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Pringle, William M. R.|
|Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.)||Kilbride, Denis||Radford, G. H.|
|Elverston, Sir Harold||King, J.||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon,S.Molton)||Reddy, M.|
|Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)||Lambert, Richard Wilts, Cricklade)||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Farrell, James Patrick||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||Redmond, William (Clare, E.)|
|Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)||Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)|
|Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rid, Cockerm'th)||Rendall, Athelstan|
|Ffrench, Peter||Lewis, John Herbert||Richards, Thomas|
|Field, William||London, T.||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N.W.)||Waring, Walter|
|Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay|
|Robinson, Sidney||Sutherland, J. E.||Webb, H.|
|Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)||Sutton, John E.||White, J. Dundas (Glas., Tradeston)|
|Roche, Augustine (Louth)||Taylor, John W. (Durham)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Rowlands, James||Taylor, Thomas (Bolton)||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Tennant, Harold John||Whyte, A. F. (Perth)|
|Scanlan, Thomas||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)||Wilkle, Alexander|
|Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)||Toulmin, Sir George||Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthen)|
|Sheehy, David||Trevelyan, Charles Philips||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Sherwell, Arthur James||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander||Young, W. (Perthshire, E.)|
|Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John Allsebrook||Verney, Sir Harry|
|Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)||Wadsworth, J.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Geoffrey Howard and Captain Guest.|
|Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim)||Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)|
|Baird, J. L.||Grant, J. A.||Quilter, Sir William Eley C.|
|Balcarres, Lord||Greene-, W. R.||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Barnston, Harry||Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight)||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool., W. Derby)|
|Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Helmsley, Viscount||Sanders, Robert Arthur|
|Boles, Lieut.-Col. Dennis Fortescue||Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, S.)||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Boyle, William (Norfolk, Mid)||Hickman, Colonel Thomas E.||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Hill, Sir Clement L.||Starkey, John Ralph|
|Burn, Colonel C. R.||Hohler, G. F.||Stewart-Gershom|
|Campion, W. R.||Home, E. (Surrey, Guildford)||Sykes, Mark (Hull, Central)|
|Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Hunt, Rowland||Talbot, Lord E.|
|Cassel, Felix||Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, East)||Thynne, Lord A.|
|Cator, John||Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey)||Tobin, Alfred Aspinall|
|Cave, George||Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droitwich)||Ward, A. S. (Herts, Watford)|
|Chaloner, Col. R. G. W.||Macmaster, Donald||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|Clay, Capt. H. H. Spender||Malcolm, Ian||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Clive, Captain Percy Archer||Markham, Sir Arthur Basil||White, Major G. D. (Lanes., Southport)|
|Courthope, George Loyd||Moore, William||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Mount, William Arthur||Wills, Sir Gilbert|
|Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Neville, Reginald J. N.||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Crichton-Stuart, Lord Ninian||Newdegate, F. A.||Worthington-Evans, L.|
|Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.||Peel, Captain R. F.|
|Gibbs, G. A.||Pollock, Ernest Murray||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Evelyn Cecil and Mr. Remnant.|
|Glazebrook, Captain Philip K.||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Goldsmith, Frank||Pryce-Jones, Col. E.|
§ Major DALRYMPLE WHITE
I beg to move, in "(2) Report stage" to leave out the word "One" ["One allotted day"], and to insert instead thereof the word "Two" with the consequential Amendment to leave out the word "day" and to insert instead thereof the word "days."
I think my proposal is a very moderate one. The Report stage of this Bill will be exceedingly important, and possibly far more important than the Report stage of any former Bills passed in this House. It is quite likely that the Bill will be enormously altered in Committee, not only by the Amendments of the right hon. Gentleman, the President of the Board of Education, but also those relating to the women. There are other reasons why we should have at least one other day for the Report stage. There are many questions which cannot possibly be discussed in the Committee stage, and I may perhaps single out, most of all, the new Clauses. On the eighth day, in the last three hours, we have to discuss Clause 10, the new Clauses, and the Schedules. I think everyone will admit that gives very little chance of the new Clauses being discussed at all, -and yet some of them are of vital import- 802 ance. One of them is in the name of the hon. Member for Chelsea (Mr. Hoare), and it deals with those who are at present in possession of the vote, so that they should not be deprived of that vote.
This Bill purports to be a Bill for the extension of the franchise, but in many cases it is a deprivation of the franchise, not only from those possessing it nominally, but it is more than possible that it will mean real deprivation. There may be an owner of property who is one of the largest taxpayers in this country, and on the ground of ill-health he may be wintering abroad and may never come under the residential franchise. There are many other cases of the same sort. Another part of the same Clause deals with the question of a Supplementary Vote to be given to those who have a stake in the country and also to those who have a better education—those who have possession of a certificate for three years' attendance at a secondary school recognised by the Board of Education. This system has worked well in Belgium, I believe. With regard to the question of education, I do think that everyone, even hon. Gentlemen opposite, who have no 803 doubt profiled very much in the past few years from being able to secure for them selves the votes of perhaps some of the more ignorant of the community, if men who were told and believed that Chinese labour was—
§ Major DALRYMPLE WHITE
I bow to your ruling. Then the next new Clause is that in the names of the hon. Member for Devizes and the hon. Member for Portsmouth with regard to absent voters. At the time when we are to have adult suffrage it does seem right that we should have some safeguard that those who are entitled to have the vote should be able to exercise it, such as business men and men and officers of the mercantile marine. Then there is the Clause in the name of the hon. Member for the Isle of Wight with regard to soldiers exercising the franchise. As it is known soldiers move from place to place. Then there is the new Clause in the name of the hon. Member for the City of London. That is a most important Amendment. The City of London is in a difficult position and I think everyone wishes that there should be some chance of a collective expression of opinion by those interested in business. Then there is the Amendment of the hon. Member for Huntingdon, which proposes that redistribution should accompany this Bill. With regard to that the Prime Minister said he himself was in favour of redistribution. But when my right hon. Friend the Member for the Walton Division was trying to press the Chancellor of the Exchequer as to whether the Government would do anything to assist this being carried out, the Chancellor of the Exchequer said it was impossible to do so on the ground, forsooth, that if an election was to come before redistribution had been passed then those who had been given the franchise would feel they were being deprived of their chance to vote. But if the words of this proposed Clause were inserted these people would not have obtained the franchise and there would, therefore, be no hardship.
There are one or two other points, such as the Clause of the hon. Member for Hammersmith and with regard to university representation, all of these are of the greatest importance but will stand practically no chance of being discussed at all. 804 The difference between this Bill and other Bills has been alluded to. At the best this Bill can get ten days' discussion and at the worst nine days. The Reform Bill of 1832 got twenty-six days' discussion, the Representation of the People Bill of 1867, twenty-two days, and the Bill of 1884, fourteen days. I do think that this drastic closuring of business and opportunity of discussion is contrary not only to the rules and customs of the best traditions of the House of Commons but is reducing the deliberations of this assembly to a farce. It is inducing the people of the country to say, I think with reason: "What use is it having a House of Commons at all? Why ought not a Prime Minister to make his decrees and then have them given expression to." I find that the House of Commons costs the country at least half a million of money. People in the country say if there is not to be free discussion in Parliament what is the use of the House of Commons. I do appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to accept this as an extremely moderate Amendment. He will admit that the Report stage is of importance, and therefore I ask him to grant this small concession.
§ Mr. POLLOCK
I beg to second the Amendment, and I hope it will be accepted. It is quite apparent that the Government themselves do not feel quite happy about the Report stage. I see there is a provision which enables a Minister of the Crown, if he thinks the Report stage ought to be extended, to come down and put a Motion that it should be extended and it is to be extended forthwith without the Motion being debated. So that if the Minister of the Crown wants more time for his purpose he can get it. We want more time for our purpose. I can well understand the Minister of the Crown refusing more time. One has to remember that the number of Acts of Parliament touched by this Bill is probably unprecedented, unless in the case of a Bill introduced for the repeal of a number of obsolete statutes. Assume that you accept one or other of the Amendments for Female Suffrage, you introduce an enormous number of new voters. It may be ten millions or it may be three or four millions. But, even if you do not do that, under the Bill as proposed you are creating something like one and a-half or two million new voters.
For the purpose of their exercising the franchise we have to remember that the Corrupt Practices Act, which is in part 805 dealt with in Clause V. of the Bill, is to be discussed for I think the balance of three hours which remains after the divisions at 7.30. In addition to that you have also got to consider the Act for the Returning Officers' Election Expenses, and other Acts which are vitally affected by a large increase in the electorate. Take the Report stage and assume that two million more electors have been added to the register, how are you going to deal with the problem which immediately arises and which must necessarily arise when you go to the country on this new franchise? The Chancellor of the Exchequer to-day said he was not prepared to give an undertaking to deal with other matters outside this Bill because it would be very unfair to delay the newly enfranchised voters having an opportunity, if an election took place, of exercising the franchise for the first time. Yes, but if that be true you must give them a real opportunity, and you cannot give them a real opportunity since you have got only a limited amount, which is to be spent on the elections in the boroughs and counties where these new electors are to exercise their votes. You must deal with the whole matter of the scale of election expenses and the scale of returning officers' expenses, and all these are matters which are necessarily incidental to any enlargement of the franchise such as is proposed by this Bill. I believe the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill has probably not overlooked that point, and I hope he will tell us what he does intend to do in order to meet it.
So far as I can see in looking through the Bill there is no opportunity of dealing with that in any of the Clauses. We must wait, therefore, until we have got through the Committee stage and see what number of electors there will be newly enfranchised. The Government will then have to introduce some new Clauses to meet the difficulty that arises. We must have some time to consider such new Clauses, but there are already a number of new Clauses down on the Paper in the name of Private Members, each of which ought to be debated. What if the Government came down with new Clauses which are necessarily incidental to anything carried in Committee and attempt to deal with them in the time suggested? The result of that would be that the debate on a number of Clauses moved by Private Members of the House would be reduced to nothing. Therefore, I ask the right hon. Gentleman to accept the 806 Amendment. As to the proviso in which the Prime Minister takes power, in the exercise of his discretion, to give more time, I do not think that is the right way to treat the House. You ought to see that we have safeguarded to us sufficient opportunity to deal with problems that must arise. I do not think we ought to place ourselves in this position that the Prime Minister should dictate to us whether more time will be given or not. That is autocracy. The Amendment ought to be accepted in order that we might have a little more time to deal with important matters in the Bill and incidental to the Bill, which must be dealt with if the franchise is to be a real franchise and exercised by those whom we intend it to touch.
§ Mr. PEASE
The Government have endeavoured, and I believe successfully, in connection with the proposals of this Bill, to limit the proposals connected with franchise and registration to the smallest possible compass. We have done that by proposing to Parliament one of the most simple schemes which I think has ever been proposed in connection with the franchise law. By the schedule, to which the hon. and learned Member has alluded, we repeal an enormous and unprecedented number of statutes and we provide a very simple plan to secure registration on a fair basis for the whole of the democracy. We do not anticipate that there need be very many changes made on the Committee stage of the Bill, more than those which have already been indicated. But we do take power in this allocation of time resolution to add an additional day or more if we think the necessity arises. I have not been able yet to go very carefully through the new Clauses which have been placed on the Paper, but some of them certainly appear to me to be out of order. I explained on introducing the Bill that it does not deal with redistribution, electoral reform, or corrupt practices; and, of course, any new Clauses dealing with these subjects would be outside the purview of the Bill. Therefore some of the new Clauses to which hon. Members have alluded, in all probability, may be found to be out of order. The alterations, I believe, are not likely to be substantial, but if they are of such a character as to justify the House coming to the opinion that more than one day should be given on the Report stage, the Government will propose an extension of time.
§ Mr. POLLOCK
If the House comes to the opinion! The proviso is, that if a Minister of the Crown comes to the opinion.
§ Mr. PEASE
Of course it is moved by a Minister of the Crown. The hon. and learned Member has been sufficiently long in the House to know that the Government cannot do exactly as it likes. It is absolutely impossible for it to suggest all kinds of preposterous methods of conducting Bills; it must have the majority of the Members of the House behind it. There are many ways in which pressure can be put upon a Government, which no doubt if the hon. and learned Member crosses the Floor of the House he will readily and very quickly learn. I am quite satisfied in my own mind that if the Government proposed to do real injustice in curtailing unduly debate on the Report stage, the House would insist upon a prolongation of the time. I hope it will not be found necessary, but if the necessity does arise there will be power to increase the period.
§ Lord BALCARRES
The right hon. Gentleman says that he does not anticipate great alterations in Committee on this Bill. He therefore anticipates that the Franchise Amendment of the next two or three days are going to be defeated. But that is not the case upon which the critics of this Bill are entitled to claim that a larger portion of time should be devoted to the Report stage. Why we ask for more days on Report is because we know that if alterations are made, or, as the right hon. Gentleman anticipates, are not made, during the Committee stage, none the less a dozen questions, which are vitally interesting to Members of the Opposition, will not be discussed in Committee at all. It is for that reason we claim we are entitled to have more time on Report. I think the right hon. Gentleman cast a rather unworthy taunt against my hon. and learned Friend, who has only been in the House two years, but who occupies a stronger position than some of us who have been here fifteen years. The point really is that this limitation of Debate is unprecedented. It is unjustified by the scale of the Bill. It is unjustified by the fact that the Government is chopping and changing every day by its Amendments to its own Bill; and I do not think it would be possible for any Opposition to vote for a more moderate Amendment than the one now proposed. In 1884–5 the Franchise and Redistribution Bill had 808 six days on Report. The Government now offer us one. My hon. and gallant Friend asks for two. Surely it is impossible to make a more moderate request. The fact that the right hon. Gentleman refuses so moderate a request is really sinister and ominous.
Why are we not to be allowed an extra day? Because everyone, on both sides of the House, will admit that questions of disfranchising individuals from their existing powers of voting, disfranchising seats, and raising complicated questions are going to be excluded from Debate during the eight days of the Committee stage. The right hon. Gentleman says they have reduced their Bill to the simplest possible scheme. He has done that by depriving Parliament of the opportunity of discussing registration, or, in other words, the conditions of franchise. That is one way he has simplified the scheme; but even so, I do not admit that one day is fair treatment of the House for the Report stage. And I wish to point out, moreover, that it is not merely limitation to one day to which we object. There are many objectionable features in this Guillotine Motion which directly relate to limitation of time. Hitherto, the Speaker and the Chairman have had something to do with the control of the Debates, saying what is and what is not in order. This Guillotine, for the first time, makes the House direct the Speaker what he has to do with the Amendments on the Paper. That I consider an outrageous innovation, not merely because I think it wrong for the House to direct the Speaker what he has to do. If that is to be a function of the House we might cast lots for the Speaker and not choose the most experienced, representative and honourable man in the House. He would be the mere puppet of the Government of the day. Not only do you say what the occupant of the Chair is to call upon, but you say the occupant of the Chair is to go back in any line or Clause and have power to choose an Amendment anterior to one already discussed. If you are going to do that you have no business whatever to limit the time. That cuts away your right to limit the time, and especially so in relation to the Report stage.
We are already told in advance by the Minister that he anticipates no important Amendment will be passed in Committee and therefore ex hypothesi there will be no occasion to increase the time for the Report stage from 809 one day to two. But he does take power during the Report stage to direct the Speaker or Chairman merely on the ipse dixitof the Government, to say which Amendment shall be moved and which shall not. You limit us to one day, and having done so you take away from us the right to choose, by their precedence, which Amendment we shall discuss. I say it is an outrageous innovation. Nothing could be more moderate than our proposal. The Amendment only asks for one extra day. I say the new Clauses alone would require an extra day. Let hon. Members project their minds as to what is going to happen during the next few days. There have been doubts and fluctuations of opinion. Think what has happened in the way of change of opinion during the last six hours. Everybody is asking what is going to happen to the Bill, and you give a day for the Report stage. That is a mockery. You are deliberately doing away with one accredited, acknowledged stage in Parliamentary procedure. I regret it. I regret it in this particular instance; I regret it still more for the precedent it sets, which, having been established for the Report stage, can be and will be established for the Committee stage. It will lead to the reduction, to absurdity if not the destruction altogether of other stages in the Bill. I think it is lamentable for the House of Commons and I am certain it is disastrous for the country.
§ Mr. WATSON RUTHERFORD
The main point of this Amendment, apart from what the Noble Lord has said, is to get a little extra time for new Clauses, because if hon. Members will look at the time-table they will see that the new Clauses have got to be taken on the last day after half-past seven, and after Clause 10 and the Schedules have been disposed of. Experience shows that under these circumstances no new Clauses will be considered in Committee at all. The only new Clauses that will be voted on will be any new Clauses the Government choose to put down. Under these circumstances any suggestions we on this side of the House make which must be incorporated in new Clauses can only be discussed for a few moments on Report. On Report new Clauses come first, and the consequence is that if we get reasonable time for Report the new clauses have some reasonable chance of having a little discussion, and of being brought forward at all events in the light of day. I add my appeal 810 to the Government and would point out that under this time-table, unless the Amendment be accepted, there will be no reasonable opportunity of discussing the new clauses at all. One day for the Report stage under such circumstances is ridiculous, especially when you consider that this Bill is not merely a measure to enlarge the franchise.
If it were a Bill merely to add a considerable section of people to the electorate, which has been the object of practically all previous Reform Bills, the case would be different to some extent. If its object were merely to enfranchise a class who have not the vote at the present time, there would be no theoretical injustice involved in regard to any existing classes of voters; but, as has already been pointed out, this Bill not merely makes a very considerable addition to the franchise, but it is going to disfranchise very considerable sections of people. Many thousands of voters will lose their votes altogether, and many more thousands will lose the duplicate vote which they at present possess. In addition to the duplicate voters being struck off, I would point out that there are a very considerable number of people who will be deprived of the only vote which they have got. It is not everybody to-day who is the tenant or occupier of a residence in such a manner as to carry with it the Parliamentary vote. The votes of a vast number of people arise from the other qualification—that of being engaged in business in certain places. That qualification is, I understand, to be swept away. In addition to that, constituencies are to be entirely wiped out and their representatives driven out of this House. Are we to be asked to deal in one day with the whole of the revision of the Committee work, and the new clauses? It is absurd. I do not hesitate to say that if, when we get our turn in office—and it is coming and coming, I believe, very shortly—our Government were to bring forward a motion like this I should vote against it. It is an outrage.
We are not debating this point at this hour of the morning and asking for an extra day simply because we are against the Government. We are taking this course because we consider that it is right and that the Government is guilty of a Parliamentary outrage in regard to this proposal and one that ought to be strongly resented. I have an Amendment considerably lower down on the 811 Paper, but I understand that under the procedure which is likely to be adopted it may not be reached. That Amendment aims at securing even an hour of discussion on the finance of the Bill. Are the Government to be allowed to take away the privileges and rights of the Members of this House, one of which rights the Members of this House have enjoyed ever since the Bill of Rights, in connection with which various people's heads were cut off. If the right which we have enjoyed since then, whereby Members of this House have the absolute right to discuss and determine the question as to whether there shall be the imposition of additional charges upon the expenses of the country, is to be taken away in this forcible manner and we are not to have an opportunity of saying a word—as was instanced on Tuesday evening in Committee on the Financial Resolution of the Welsh Church Bill—a Finance Resolution becomes a perfect farce. It is about time the Government realise that some of us are ashamed of them, absolutely ashamed of them; ashamed of the precedents that are being made and the practices that are being resorted to, and ashamed of the position in which the Government are placing the House of Commons by bringing forward Motions of this kind.
§ Mr. MOORE
I am astonished at the moderation of my hon. Friends in only asking for one day. The common-sense and fairness of every Member of the House, apart from party feeling, will recognise that for a Bill of this magnitude ten days on the Report stage would scarcely be enough. I think some of my fellow-countrymen below the Gangway would appreciate the reason why I have intervened in this Debate, but most of them have gone home.
§ Mr. MOORE
Well, then, they are in the smoking room. The general is there and a few colour-sergeants, but the others have either gone home or are in the smoking room or outside. My point is this: that it is conceivable that the Home Rule Bill will never come into law. I am certain it will not; and if it does not, then this Franchise Bill, if it passes, would become the law for Ireland. And yet not a single. Irish Nationalist Member will get up to criticise it. Under these circumstances it is proper that an Irish representative, though he is only one of the despised 812 minority, should say something as to the unfairness with which we are being treated. You are going to upset the whole franchise system, and I say that before we place ourselves under a cast-iron Constitution which is going to limit our Debate, we ought to know what are the powers of the right hon. Gentleman now in charge. There is no use our moving Amendments if the right hon. Gentleman has no power to accept any of them. The Prime Minister is not here and the Chancellor of the Exchequer is not here and we are left in charge of the President of the Board of Education. Has the right hon. Gentleman authority from the Cabinet to accept any Amendment moved from this side. If he has not any authority then it is an insult to the House of Commons to leave this debate in charge of a right hon. Gentleman who has no power to accept any Amendments that are moved. Has he authority from the Cabinet to accept a single Amendment moved from this side?
§ 2.0 A.M.
§ Mr. MOORE
I should like an answer "yes" or "no." Is he authorised to accept any Amendment which seems to be reasonable? Otherwise it is not fair to the House or to the Opposition, which is the last thing of which the Government ever think. I do not think it is a satisfactory answer, and at this time of the morning I should like to move the adjournment of the debate until we have a responsible Minister present. There is no use sending a few subordinates. There is only one Member of the Cabinet here, and he is not authorised to accept any Amendment.
§ Mr. MOORE
I leave that for the present. The right hon. Gentleman may reconsider the position and say he will accept some Amendment. This is a reasonable Amendment which I ask him to accept and we shall find out before the debate is concluded whether or not there is any power to accept an Amendment from the Opposition. We are to consider this Bill in Committee for eight days and we are to have only one day in which to deal with the result of that work in Committee and also to consider the new Clauses. This is the Guillotine gone mad.
Up to this the Government have had two big Bills and in both cases they have 813 shown that they attached great importance to the Report stage, so much so that, although they could hardly spare the time, in all their Guillotine Motions, before this, they put down a special provision that the House at the close of the Committee stage should have time in which it could itself allot the time for the Report stage in the way it thought best. That is not done in this case. Even that remnant of liberty is taken from the House. We are not on this occasion to have any time to consider how the time will be allotted on the Report stage. That is now vested in the Government. Why has the Government not given the House the same power in this case as it had on the Welsh Bill and the Home Rule Bill to say what time should go to the Report stage and
§ how it should be allotted? I think we ought to protest even at this hour of the morning. The right hon. Gentleman says that if we trust in the discretion of Ministers there will be no injustice done. I think the House is the best protector of its own liberties. We had power to decide in the Irish and Welsh Bills but that power is now in the hands of a single Minister. It is impossible in one Parliamentary day to adequately review the work of seven or eight days in Committee, and for that reason I shall vote with my hon. and gallant Friend.
§ Question put, "That the word 'One' stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 183; Noes, 58.815
|Division No. 552.]||AYES.||2.6 a.m.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour)||Glanville, H. J.||Morgan, George Hay|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Goldstone, Frank||Muldoon, John|
|Addison, Dr. C.||Greenwood, Hamar (Sunderland)||Munro, R.|
|Allen, Arthur Acland (Dumbartonshle)||Griffith, Ellis Jones||Murray, Captain Hon. Arthur C.|
|Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud)||Gulland, John William||Nolan, Joseph|
|Arnold, Sydney||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||Nugent, Sir Walter Richard|
|Baker, Harold T. (Accrington)||Hackett, J.||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Barnes, George N.||Hancock, John George||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)|
|Barton, William||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Benn, W. W. (Tower Hamlets, S. Geo.)||Hardle, J. Keir||O'Donnell, Thomas|
|Bentham, George Jackson||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, W.)||O'Dowd, John|
|Boland, John Pius||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N.E.)||O'Grady, James|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Hayden, John Patrick||O'Malley, William|
|Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)||Hayward, Evan||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)|
|Brady, P. J.||Hazleton, Richard||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Brunner, J. F. L.||Helme, Sir Norval Watson||O'Shee, James John|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Higham, John Sharp||O'Sullivan, Timothy|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Hodge, John||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Hogge, James Myles||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)|
|Cawley, H. T. (Heywood)||Hudson, Walter||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Hughes, Spencer Leigh||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Illingworth, Percy H.||Pollard, Sir George H.|
|Clough, William||John, Edward Thomas||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.|
|Clynes, John R.||Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)|
|Collins, Godfrey P. (Greenock)||Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Pringle, William M. R.|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)||Rattan, Peter Wilson|
|Cotton, William Francis||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Reddy, M.|
|Crumley, Patrick||Jones, William S. Glyn- (Stepney)||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Cullinan, John||Jowett, Frederick William||Redmond, William (Clare, E.)|
|Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Joyce, Michael||Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Keating, Matthew||Rendall, Athelstan|
|Dawes, J. A.||Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)|
|Delany, William||Kilbride, Denis||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Devlin, Joseph||King, J.||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon,S.Molton)||Robertson, J, M. (Tyneside)|
|Doris, William||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||Robinson, Sidney0|
|Duffy, William J.||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)||Roche, Augustine (Louth)|
|Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.)||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rid, Cockerm'th)||Rowlands, James|
|Elverston, Sir Harold||Lewis, John Herbert||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||London, T.||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)||Lyell, Charles Henry||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)|
|Farrell, James Patrick||Lynch, A. A.||Sheehy, David|
|Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson||MacNeill, J. G. Swift (Donegal, South)||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John Allsebrook|
|Ffrench, Peter||Macpherson, James Ian||Smith, Albert (Lanes., Clitheroe)|
|Field, William||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Fiennes, Hon. Eustace Edward||McGhee, Richard||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N.W.)|
|Fitzgibbon, John||M'Laren, Hon.F.W.S. (Lincs., Spalding)||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Marshall, Arthur Harold||Sutherland, J. E.|
|France, Gerald Ashburner||Meagher, Michael||Sutton, John E.|
|George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd||Meehan. Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Gill, A. H.||Molloy, Michael||Taylor, Thomas (Bolton)|
|Gladstone, W. G. C.||Mond, Sir Alfred Moritz||Tennant, Harold John|
|Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)||Waring, Walter||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Toulmin, Sir George||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay||Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthen)|
|Trevelyan, Charles Philips||Webb, H.||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander||White, J. Dundas (Glas., Tradeston)||Young, W. (Perthshire, E.)|
|Verney, Sir Harry||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Wadsworth, J.||Whitehouse, John Howard||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Geoffrey Howard and Capt. Guest.|
|Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)||Whyte, A. F. (Perth)|
|Gibbs, G. A.||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Baird, J. L.||Glazebrook, Captain Philip K.||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Balcarres, Lord||Greene, W. R.||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)|
|Barnston, Harry||Helmsley, Viscount||Sanders, Robert Arthur|
|Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, S.)||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Boles, Lieut.-Col. Dennis Fortescue||Hickman, Colonel Thomas E.||Smith, Harold Warrington)|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Hohler, G. F.||Starkey, John Ralph|
|Burn, Colonel C. R.||Horne, E. (Surrey, Guildford)||Stewart, Gershom|
|Campion, W. R.||Hunt, Rowland||Sykes, Mark (Hull, Central)|
|Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, East)||Talbot, Lord E.|
|Cassel, Felix||Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey)||Thynne, Lord A.|
|Cator, John||Lyttelton, Hon. J. C (Droitwich)||Tobin, Alfred Aspinall|
|Cave, George||Macmaster, Donald||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Malcolm, Ian||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Chaloner, Col. R. G. W.||Markham, Sir Arthur Basil||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Clay, Capt. H. H. Spender||Moore, William||Wills, Sir Gilbert|
|Clive, Captain Percy Archer||Mount, William Arthur||Worthington-Evans, L.|
|Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Neville, Reginald J. N.|
|Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Newdegate, F. A.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Major White and Mr. Pollock.|
|Crichton-Stuart, Lord Ninian||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.||Pryce-Jones, Col. E.|
I beg to move, in (3) Third Reading, to leave out the words,
"On the commencement of the Committee stage the Chairman shall give precedence to the Amendments mentioned in the Appendix in the order therein shown."
I do not intend at this hour of the night to detain the House at any great length but I think it will be recognised why I move this Amendment. Although some may say that I am moving it in a spirit of hostility to the Women's Amendment that is not so. I do it because it seems to me to be an absolute innovation for a Government of the day to give orders to the Chairman of Committees as to what Amendments he shall select for discussion in Committee of the House. I believe it to be absolutely unprecedented that orders of this kind should be given to one who is supposed to show absolute impartiality in carrying out his duties. I should like to calf the attention of the House to the fact that this is a new instrument of torture that the House has invented in order to carry Bills. They have already got the Guillotine and the Kangaroo and now they have this new procedure which I am afraid has not yet got a name but which doubtless will receive one before very long. I should like also to call attention to this very dangerous precedent which this procedure may create. It may be possible that in the future a Government may produce a Bill and doubtless will produce a Bill in connection with which they would 816 like to make some Amendments. I can imagine the right hon. Gentleman, the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he introduces his new land proposals in the future may prefer that certain Amendments may be taken and others should not be taken. Clearly you have here a precedent which will be recalled by the right hon. Gentleman, who will say that on such and such a day on an important Bill like the Franchise Bill the Government gave orders to the Chairman as to what Amendments he should take, and we are only following precedent.
For these reasons, I think, quite apart from the suffrage Amendments, that these instructions to the Chairmen of Committees should not be allowed. Then, I think, it is more or less a novel point that the Chairmen of Committees should have power to put Amendments in at an appropriate point, notwithstanding that the point in the Bill has been passed. I consider that that also is entirely outside the spirit of what should take place in a Committee of the House of Commons. I quite recognise the position of the Prime Minister, the Minister of Education, and many occupants of the Front Bench opposite. They have got into an awkward position. They have washed their hands of this particular question, avoiding all responsibility, they have left it to the House of Commons to decide; they have inflicted even a worse injury by putting such words into their resolution than they have done in connection with 817 other Bills they have closured this Session. For these reasons I beg to move.
§ Viscount HELMSLEY
I beg to second the Amendment of my hon. Friend. In doing so I must say I cannot help thinking that the Government themselves have made this new suggestion with a good deal of complaisance. I noticed that the Prime Minister, when moving his Motion this afternoon, particularly said it was not to be taken as a precedent. But after all, precedents will not be taken from the person who moves them. They will be taken from the action of the House of Commons. If the House accepts this Motion I am afraid no platonic utterance of the Prime Minister will have any effect on the future. The tendency rather will gradually grow to put provisions of this kind into Guillotine Motions. It seems to me to be a very strong order to dictate to the Chairmen of Committees, the sequence in which Amendments should be taken. It is overriding every custom of this House. Once you break through the traditional custom you produce chaos into your legislative methods.
If the House assent to this proposal, I think it will be very gravely endangering its procedure. It is ridiculous, as I suppose the Government will argue, to say that it is necessary to introduce this procedure in order to give time for the discussion of the Female Suffrage Amendment. What the Government could have done if they were anxious to give effect to their pledge was to refrain from closuring the Bill until the question affecting Women Suffrage had been settled. I must say, short as is the time that I have been in the House, only seven years, the speed with which proposals have gone on for restricting the liberty of debate has astonished me. Motion after Motion has been brought forward breaking the old traditions of the House and taking away liberty from hon. Members. This is a new step we have not had before, but it is one of the worst steps the House has taken during my experience of the last seven years. Goodness knows where it will end. I do not think the House is entitled to dictate to the Chairman in what order the Amendments shall be taken. That is a break in our traditions. If we adopt the suggestion of the Government we shall be doing a very bad day's work and inflicting another injury, among the many we have inflicted, upon the House of Commons.
§ Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER
The Amendment, as it stands on the Paper, is not quite in order. I think it should be "to-leave out lines thirty-two to forty."
§ Mr. PEASE
The Noble Lord presses me to allow the Amendments connected with Women Suffrage to be debated without being interfered with by the Guillotine Resolution. This subject was very carefully considered by the Cabinet. We wished, if we possibly could, to give the House an opportunity of discussing the whole of the Women Suffrage question without its being included in the Government Closure-by-Compartment Resolution. But it became obvious to us, so many individuals on both sides of the House being so strongly opposed to any extension of the Suffrage to Women, that they would be quite likely to use their ingenuity to delay to an impossible extent the discussion on any of the series of proposals connected with the pledge which the Prime Minister has given to the advocates of Women Suffrage.
§ Mr. PEASE
Yes, but the ordinary Closure would not have been very effective without the Government Whips influencing Members. After all this is a very exceptional situation. The Prime Minister explained exactly what the situation was; how that the House was divided in an extraordinary way on this particular question. We find that it is absolutely essential to provide that the Debate on the subject should come within the terms of the allocation of time Resolution. I admit that this cannot be regarded as a precedent. One hon. Member seems to think that this sort of occasion may frequently arise, and that, instead of the Government being responsible for Amendments and finding time for their discussion, such occasions as this may often occur. I do not anticipate that a similar occasion is likely ever to arise. But I am satisfied that this is the easiest and best way in which the desire of the House may be taken on the three proposals upon which Women Suffrage advocates have concentrated their attention. It is with a view to fulfilling the pledge the Government have given that, we feel it absolutely essential to follow this unusual and novel procedure. The second point which has been raised is that we ought not to direct the Chair as to the-order in which Amendments should be-placed. That has already been done this 819 Session in connection with the Guillotine Resolution on the Home Rule Bill, at the instance of the Chairman, with a view to making the Bill read properly instead of the Amendments being really out of place. We have followed that precedent, and I think it is obvious to every Member that it is better draftsmanship that Amendments should appear in the right place rather than in the wrong place.
§ Mr. MALCOLM
I wish we could share the complacency of the right hon. Gentleman with regard to this intolerable series of precedents, that they will not be followed in the future. The Government cannot give us any guarantee that they will not or that, as time goes on, we shall not have a continuance of their tyranny. The only reason the Government give for it is that they must fulfil a pledge to a rather noisy and insistent part of the community. They are ready to upset the rules and procedure of the House of Commons in order to make their own lives a little happier for a few brief months and to continue to sit on that bench which has been occupied in years past by worthier people. It is really very wrong to say: "We, the Cabinet, wish the House of Commons to settle all this in some other way." It is not the duty of the Cabinet to settle the procedure of the House of Commons.
The power of the Cabinet over legislation has been enormously extended during the last ten years; but this is a brand new precedent, to take on the alteration of the procedure of the House of Commons. It is a very dangerous change to try to enforce at this early hour of the morning. The right hon. Gentleman said his precedent was some direction given to the Chairman in the Committee stage of the Home Rule Bill. I believe he is wrong. I do not believe that in what is known as the Kangaroo Closure on the Home Rule Bill the word "shall" appeared. My recollection is that the Chairman "may" choose this or that. There was nothing approaching this dictatorial proceeding. We could understand precedence being given to Government Amendments, but here precedence is to be given to the Amendments of private Members. The two Front Benches are equal sinners in the matter of the Guillotine—well, perhaps not equal: some greater and some less; it is a temptation which neither Front Bench has entirely resisted—but I say to all private Members that they are putting a terrific power 820 in the hands of Cabinets of the future if they say that the Chairman, who is the servant of the House, is to have this put upon him, that he shall give precedence to certain Amendments selected by the Government of the day, and that other Amendments of private Members shall take their chance. I think a serious constitutional question is involved in this, and I hope that, independent of party, we Back Bench Members shall have our full say in the direction of the Chairman, as to what Amendments shall be taken even under the Kangaroo Closure.
§ Lord BALCARRES
The President of the Board of Education said this would not be regarded as a precedent. But it is a precedent, and whatever the right hon. Gentleman says it must be regarded as a precedent. I venture to think it is a very serious precedent. The right hon. Gentleman missed the point of the remarks of my Noble Friend below the Gangway. It is true he complained that the Suffrage Amendments would be guillotined. That is a reasonable complaint, but he did not complain that we were limited in time alone, but that these Amendments would receive precedence over Amendments down earlier on the Paper. That was the real point. The Chairman is already under this Guillotine Order invested with permanent powers of what we call the "Kangaroo" Closure. The Standing Orders have to be suspended in order to give him that power. But the Government is not content to permanently suspend the Standing Orders during the progress of the Bill. In addition to that two things are proposed—first, that the Chairman shall choose three specific Amendments, and secondly, that when they have been disposed of he shall be entitled to go back to an anterior point of the Bill and select other Amendments. After three Suffrage Amendments are concluded the Chairman is empowered to select any Amendments which may be on the Paper before the four Amendments in the Schedule. What does that involve? It takes away the precedence which the position of the Amendments handed in confers on the Member who hands it in. It directs the Chairman to take in specified order four subsequent Amendments which have got no precedence, and empowers him then to go back to earlier Amendments.
This Clause of the Resolution says, "if any such Amendment which would have had precedence is carried, the Chairman shall direct the Amendment to be 821 made at the appropriate point in the Bill." I really do not quite know what that means. It is no use asking the Government to explain, because the Government have not got to interpret it. It is for the Chairman to explain what it means. He is to direct the learned clerks at the Table to amend their official copy of the Bill. Under this rule it is not only possible but readily conceivable that when the Amendments specified in the Schedule have been dealt with, and one, perhaps, or more accepted, the prior Amendments appearing on the Paper might none the less be carried, and as a consequence make the Amendments previously carried out of order. That is the precedent; and when the right hon. Gentleman says they are not going to regard it as a precedent he is either trifling with himself or trifling with the House. This precedent will govern future procedure. I presume that later on the Speaker will be directed to select not Amendments but Clauses. It will be another alternative system of closure. You will be able to cut out Clauses you do not like, just as you now cut out Amendments you do not like. I think it is very unfortunate. I think it is utterly wrong for the House of Commons to give orders to its Speaker or Chairman about matters which should be in the purview or the discretion of the Speaker or the Chairman. You injured the authority, and certainly the independence of the Chair under the Parliament Act. In order to rush a Bill through the House in an unprecedently short time you take away the authority inherent in the Chair; but you go further and tell the Chairman what he is to do; you limit the Chairman's authority, and when you limit that authority, you limit the authority and influence he exercises over the House of Commons as a whole and over the conduct of business. Mr. Speaker is not the servant of the House. The Speaker is our chairman. I will not enter into a discussion of the position of the Speaker, but I will say that if the Speaker, or the Chairman, or the Deputy-Chairman is directed by order of the House, or in other words by order of the Government, to take this course, that course, or the other course, inconsistent with the position and prestige which our Chairman has enjoyed for generations, then you are making an official of the House a servant of the Government, rather than what he now is, an official of the House as a whole and, above all, the protector of the minority on whatever side of the House they sit. I think 822 the position is serious, and I think it is essential that an emphatic protest should be made.
I should like to ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer one question, which has not been touched upon by hon. Members who have spoken. There is no doubt that this will be a precedent for the House in future in regard to its conduct on important occasions, and it is only right that the Chancellor of the Exchequer should explain the position. Amendments have been put down on the Paper which the Chairman in charge of the Committee must take when we enter upon the proceedings of Committee later to-day and on Monday. Supposing, for the sake of argument, that between now and Monday the ladies whom these Amendments affect most of all meet and arrive at some common agreement amongst themselves as to a better form of Amendment: an Amendment which might meet the objections which are held even among Members of the Cabinet on this question: and supposing they are desirous and the House is desirous of discussing a better Amendment than any of the Amendments set out by the Government, we should be prevented under this absurd arrangement from coming down here on Monday and discussing such an Amendment, because the Government have made up their minds beforehand what Amendments shall be taken.
No compromise is possible among the various warring sections of Suffragists, and the consequence is that this House is to be tied down days beforehand, to certain specified Amendments, and the Chairman is tied down, and has no liberty whatever in the matter of choosing Amendments. Hitherto what has guided the Speaker or the Chairman of Committee has been the power vested in him to choose the Amendments which he knows are most important to all sections of the House. He may know that an Amendment which follows the Amendments taken up by the Government would be infinitely preferable for discussion and probably much more fruitful of result in coming to a decision, but because the Government have adopted this method of dealing with the matter the Chairman will be tied and the House will be tied to the discussion of the Amendments which the Government have chosen. This point surely requires and deserves an answer. Assuming that the case I have put is only a hypothetical case, and that it will 823 not arise on this particular occasion, it is quite clear that we are making a precedent in a matter of a very important kind and that on some future occasion a difficulty such as the one I have put to the House may occur. Surely, as hitherto, the Chairman ought to have full power to select Amendments instead of having to accept the dictatorial methods adopted by the Government. Our time has been steadily filched from us by the Government, and under this motion our time and our rights are being taken away. Hitherto all Government Amendments have been reached, because no matter what Guillotine Resolution was brought in, if private Members' Amendments were taken during the course of the day, as soon as the clock struck the hour for the fall of the guillotine the Government Amendments were reached and divided upon or passed without division and made in the Bill. Under the present scheme, there is no chance for the private Member because I take it that these Amendments on Women Suffrage are no longer private Members Amendments; they have been starred by Government and given precedence. Therefore they are really Government Amendments. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Undoubtedly, and it is because pressure has been brought upon the Government that they have taken these Amendments and made them their own. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I say yes.
The Government have taken special care to nominate these particular Amendments as their own. One Amendment belongs to one division in the Government, another belongs to a right hon. Gentleman a Member of the Cabinet, and so forth. They have picked them out and starred them to prevent any other private Member having anything to say on these allotted days in regard to any other Amendment. That is a great change compared with any other Guillotine Resolution passed by this House. In the past a private Member took his chance of his Amendment being selected by the Chairman as the best one for discussion. In future we may possibly have a Guillotine Resolution founded on this precedent under which the Government may even go further in their intention not to allow any private Member to have a single word to say as to how a Bill is to be amended, by saying that the only Amendments to be debated must be the Amendments chosen by the Government. Another effect of such arrangement will be that all the rights of criticism by private Members 824 are taken away. We may be placed in this position that on some future occasion a right hon. Gentleman may come down to the House with a Bill and say "We do not like the Amendments by so and so, because they will embarrass the Government; therefore we will select the Amendments we prefer, we will star them," and no other private Member's Amendments will get a chance. May I ask the right hon. Gentleman to say whether I have not pourtrayed exactly what the effect of this Amendment will be? It will be no use for a private Member to go through the House and try to arrive at some compromise or some Amendment which will be accepted by the whole body of Members. That has become utterly useless. If he came down with such an Amendment next Monday, it would be impossible even at the eleventh hour for the Chairman, or any Member of the Government, or any Member of the House to interfere in any way after this Motion is passed.
§ Mr. BOOTH
I think if the Amendment had been framed a little differently I might have seen my way to vote for it. If the hon. Member had proposed to leave out only a portion of the line it would have been better. I must say that in my opinion this proposal that the Chairman after a certain stage of the Bill is passed should go back upon Amendments is a proposal which would not be tolerated at any business board or by any private company. I say so candidly, as one who, when he was twenty-one years of age, presided over a parish meeting, and who has until now been a close observer of the powers of chairmen, and I have noticed how extreme their powers are when they are well managed as they are in this House. It is rather below the attention of an hon. Friend near me who laughs but when I come to the highest assembly in the world, the mother of Parliaments, which other assemblies are expected to follow, I do not think this is a proposal which can really be defended. I wish some other way could have been found, but Members opposite have not suggested one. That is the difficulty. If there had been some other course—
§ Mr. BOOTH
It is not because of time. I listened to the Noble Lord the Member for Chorley (Lord Balcarres) very carefully and followed every word, and it seems to me that the new point more 825 particularly is the power of the Chairman, after a certain stage of the Bill, to go back to what he may think is a more proper point. It is indefinite, I agree. I would like some precedent for it to be quoted. Does the Speaker or the Chairman of any assembly in the world ever do such a thing? I am sure no chairman of a business company would do it. If hon. Members opposite had devoted a little more of their surplus ingenuity to suggesting some other way, I might have been able to vote for it.
§ Mr. BOOTH
He sees these things like a flash. It is not a question of time; it is a question of inclination. Could he not make some suggestion whereby these Amendments in accordance with the wish of the House should receive conspicuous attention? It is the wish of the House and it is perhaps the general wish of people throughout the country that these particular Amendments dealing with Women's Suffrage should be discussed and disposed of. I ask hon. Gentlemen opposite whether they cannot suggest a way by which we can make sure that the House can have its wish. It is the act of the House and not of the Executive. This House wishes to have these Amendments discussed, but we ought to avoid doing what I consider an objectionable thing. If I could suggest a solution I would do so. It is not an inroad upon our liberty. If we as a House decide to discuss certain Amendments, how does that take away our liberty? It does, I admit, give hon. Gentlemen an opportunity to give us a picture intended to show that we are all slaves, but I hold it is an elementary power in a free assembly that it shall decide what subjects it shall discuss. I see no tyranny in that.
I think the hon. Member has not quite caught my point. It was this—supposing he and I were to put our heads together—I admit it is an extreme case—and that we thought of a better Amendment between now and Monday and put it upon the Paper, it would be ruled out of order, although the whole House was clearly of opinion that it was a better Amendment than any of those now on the Paper.
§ Mr. BOOTH
I do not think I did the hon. and gallant Gentleman any injustice, although I did not put his point so fully as he did. I do not regard it as an inroad upon our liberty, but I say it is an inconvenient sort of bungling way of meeting a difficult situation. That is how it strikes me. I shall vote against the Amendment for the reasons I have given. The hon. Member for Croydon (Mr. Ian Malcolm) gives a picture of inroads upon our liberty, month after month, and session after session. That is little more than the truth, but I am afraid that Members on that side of the House have contributed to it quite as much as Members on this side. I see Members opposite who voted-for closuring me before I had uttered a single sentence. That is how precedents have been created. On one Friday afternoon, when the Bill was not in print until the House met, I was closured upon rising to speak. Of course I took care the Bill did not pass. I want to remind hon. Members that if they do things like that they should remember that they are marching forward to increasing tyranny. Members are there who closured me on the Mental Deficiency Bill before I spoke a single sentence although I rose at the wish of my own Front Bench. The hon. Member pleaded that such things were an encroachment upon the liberty of the Opposition. I have known what it is to be in Opposition during my two years here on many measures and some of the tyrants are now masquerading as friends of free speech. I say quite candidly I regret this proposal. The hon. Member says it will not be quoted as a precedent. I say it will be one if passed, and that no chairman of a business would go back upon the work done in this higgledy-piggledy way. I cannot vote for the Amendment because it takes out too many lines.
§ Mr. BAIRD
The speech of the hon. Member who has just sat down shows the kind of sympathy which is poured out by the supporters of the Government upon suggestions which they feel to be unjust but are perfectly ready to vote for. The hon. Member has given us his sympathy, and he has spent all these years in studying the rules and regulations governing chairmanship inside and outside this House, but he votes to destroy every safeguard and rule of order. If he looks in Sir Erskine May's book, 10th edition, page 457, he will find the following:—Members who are desirous of offering Amendments in Committee should watch carefully the progress of 827 the Bill, for if the Committee have amended a later line or words in the same Clause, Amendments cannot be made in an earlier part of the Bill.3.0 A.M.
This proposal goes directly contrary to that, and it is quite obvious that if passed it becomes a precedent. It will no longer be necessary for Members to watch the progress of a Bill. They will only need to watch the entrance to the Whip's room, especially under this system in which the Government depends so much on Lobbying, and to ask for precedence for their particular Amendments. This is a grave inroad on our liberties and I hope the hon. Member and those who think with him will have the courage of their convictions and will vote with us in the Lobby to-night instead of going through the country sentimentalising about what has occurred as to the manner in which our rights have been destroyed. I hope the hon. Member will act up to his opinions to-night. He says there is no question of time. Why, this afternoon the hon. Member who complained that few people attended Debates not only insinuated that it was the needs of the Government which rendered this time-table necessary, but that we were just as anxious as others to have a holiday. Surely we can speak for ourselves. I can say that we are ready to sit on in order that this measure should receive adequate consideration. Not only
§ are the Government seeking to pass this measure by means of sacrificing the liberties of this House but they are doing it because they know that otherwise this measure will have to be submitted to the country and the country will have nothing to do with it at all. I do hope some hon. Members opposite will have the courage of their convictions and will support us in the Division Lobby.
§ Mr. BOOTH
As a matter of personal explanation, I wish to say that I should have voted against the Amendment if it were to leave out the words, "After those Amendments are disposed of, the Chairman may allow any Amendments to be moved which would, but for this Order, have had precedence of the Amendments shown in the Appendix, and if any such Amendment which would have had precedence is carried, the Chairman shall direct the Amendment to be made at the appropriate point in the Bill, notwithstanding that that point in the Bill has been passed," although I agree with the part of the Amendment to the word "Appendix."
§ Question put, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 180; Noes, 55.829
|Division No. 553.]||AYES.||[3.5 a.m.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour)||Devlin, Joseph||Hayward, Evan|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Donelan, Captain A.||Hazleton, Richard|
|Addison, Dr. C.||Doris, William||Helme, Sir Norval Watson|
|Allen, Arthur Acland (Dumbartonshire)||Duffy, William J.||Higham, John Sharp|
|Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud)||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Hodge, John|
|Arnold, Sydney||Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.)||Hogge, James Myles|
|Baker, Harold T. (Accrington)||Elverston, Sir Harold||Hudson, Walter|
|Barnes, George N.||Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||Hughes, Spencer Leigh|
|Barton, William||Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)||Illingworth, Percy H.|
|Benn, W. W. (Tower Hamlets, S. Geo.)||Farrell, James Patrick||John, Edward Thomas|
|Bentham, George Jackson||Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles||Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Boland, John Pius||Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson||Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Ffrench, Peter||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Field, William||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)|
|Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)||Fiennes, Hon. Eustace Edward||Jones, William S. Glyn- (Stepney)|
|Brady, P. J.||Fitzgibbon, John||Jowett, Frederick Wiliiam|
|Brunner, J. F. L.||Flavin, Michael Joseph||Joyce, Michael|
|Burns, Rt. Hon, John||France, Gerald Ashburner||Keating, Matthew|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||George, Rt. Hon. David Lloyd||Kennedy, Vincent Paul|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Gill, A. H.||King, J.|
|Cawley, H. T. (Heywood)||Gladstone, W. G. C.||Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon, S.Molton)|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Glanville, H. J.||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Goldstone, Frank||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe|
|Clough, William||Griffith, Ellis Jones||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)|
|Clynes, John R.||Gulland, John William||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rid, Cockerm'th)|
|Collins, Godfrey P. (Greenock)||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||Lewis, John Herbert|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Hackett, J.||London, T.|
|Cotton, William Francis||Hancock, John George||Lyell, Charles Henry|
|Crumley, Patrick||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Lynch, A. A.|
|Cullinan, John||Hardle, J. Keir||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.|
|Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, W.)||MacNeill, J. G. Swift (Donegal, South)|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N.E.)||Macpherson, James Ian|
|Dawes, J. A.||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||MacVeagh, Jeremiah|
|Delany, William||Hayden, John Patrick||McGhee, Richard|
|M'Laren, Hon. F.W.S. (Lincs.,Spalding)||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N.W.)|
|Markham, Sir Arthur Basil||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
|Marshall, Arthur Harold||Pollard, Sir George H.||Sutherland, J. E.|
|Meagher, Michael||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Sutton, John E.|
|Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Pringle, William M. R.||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Molloy, Michael||Raffan, Peter Wilson||Taylor, Thomas (Bolton)|
|Mond, Sir Alfred Moritz||Reddy, M.||Tennant, Harold John|
|Morgan, George Hay||Redmond, John, E. (Waterford)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Muldoon, John||Redmond, William (Clare, E.)||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Munro, R.||Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Murray, Captain Hon. Arthur C.||Rendall, Athelstan||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Nolan, Joseph||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)||Verney, Sir Harry|
|Nugent, Sir Walter Richard||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Wadsworth, J.|
|O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)||Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)|
|O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)||Waring, Walter|
|O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Robinson, Sidney||Webb, H.|
|O'Donnell, Thomas||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)||White, J. Dundas (Glas., Tradeston)|
|O'Dowd, John||Roche, Augustine (Louth)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|O'Grady, James||Rowlands, James||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Whyte, A. F. (Perth)|
|O'Malley, William||Scanlan, Thomas||Wilkie, Alexander|
|O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridegton)||Williams, Liewelyn (Carmarthen)|
|O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Sheehy, David||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|O'Shee, James John||Sherwell, Arthur James||Young, W. (Perthshire, E.)|
|O'Sullivan, Timothy||Simon, Rt. Hon. Sir John Allsebrook|
|Parker, James (Hallfax)||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Geoffrey Howard and Captain Guest.|
|Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)||Smyth, Thomas G. (Leitrim)|
|Baird, J. L.||Greene, W. R.||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Balcarres, Lord||Helmsley, Viscount||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Barnston, Harry||Hickman, Colonel Thomas E.||Starkey, John Ralph|
|Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Hohler, G. F.||Stewart, Gershom|
|Boles, Lielt.-Col. Dennis Fortescue||Horne, Edgar (Surrey, Guildford)||Sykes, Mark (Hull, Central)|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Hunt, Rowland||Talbot, Lord E.|
|Burn, Colonel C. R.||Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, East)||Thynne, Lord A.|
|Campion, W. R.||Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey)||Tobin, Alfred Aspinall|
|Carille, Sir Edward Hildred||Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Drotwich)||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|Cassel, Felix||Macmaster, Donald||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Cator, John||Moore, William||White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)|
|Chaloner, Col. R. G. W.||Neville, Reginald J. N.||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Clive, Captain Percy Archer||Pollock, Ernest Murray||Wills, Sir Gilbert|
|Courthope, George Loyd||Pretyman, Ernest George||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Pryce-Jones, Col. E.||Worthington-Evans, L.|
|Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Quilter, Sir William Eley C.|
|Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Gibbs, G. A.||Remnant, James Farquahrson||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Captain Clay and Mr. Malcolm.|
|Glazebrook, Captain Philip K.||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)|
|Grant, J. A.||Sanders, Robert Arthur|
§ Mr. RAWLINSON
I beg to move to leave out the word "eleven" ["on any allotted day which is a Friday the House shall meet at 'eleven' o'clock "] and insert he word "twelve." By this suggestion on the part of the Government the House is to meet at eleven on Fridays instead of twelve o'clock. That seems a small matter, but for the first time when the proposal was made in connection with the Welsh Church Bill I put down a similar motion which I did not have an opportunity of moving. I do want to enter a protest against the earlier sitting of the House. It is bad in many ways. It is bad first of all for the officials of the House, who are brought down at an unnecessarily early hour, but in addition this question of the early meeting of the House is a matter I think that ought to be watched very jealously. We have many Members on both sides of the House whose presence I value very highly; men who have 830 other business to do, men who are mixed up with cither banking or commencial work. This does not apply particularly to lawyers for the reason that you will always have lawyers with you no matter what happens. I am not in the least concerned about them, but you will have not only lawyers but another type I do not like so much, and which you are likely to have in the future more largely than at present. They are people who I would call professional politicians. We have not many of them at present. [INTERRUPTION.] I do not mean to be personal, but they are people not at present in the House of Commons, but who are likely to be admitted into the House of Commons in the future.
You are risking losing very valuable Members of the House of Commons if you are going to have it continually meeting at eleven o'clock in the morning. As it is now, business men can do a certain 831 amount of work in the morning and be here at a later hour. It sounds a very small matter, but I do hope the House will be very careful before making this precedent. If agreed to it may suit the convenience of a small number of people, but I believe it will bring about a deterioration in the class of Members at present to be found in the House of Commons.
§ Lord ALEXANDER THYNNE
I should like to call attention to the fact that the Motion standing on the Paper applies to to-day. We are sitting at a quarter past three o'clock and it would be contrary to all the customs of the House that we should meet again to-day at eleven instead of twelve. I want to point out that on both sides there are very large numbers of Members away who are quite unaware that the House will meet at any other time than twelve o'clock, the usual hour on Fridays. They will not be apprised of the fact until they receive their letters this morning. I suggest that this is highly inconvenient to the very large number of Members who are absent from the House, and that Members are being treated by the Government with a great and unjustifiable want of consideration. What is the necessity for sitting earlier on Fridays and for the suggestion that we may have to sit on Saturdays? The only reason appears to be that there are a certain number of gentlemen on the Treasury Bench who want to have a holiday in order to go to the Riviera. On this side we are quite prepared to go on sitting. We have always regarded February as one of the normal months in which we are accustomed to sit in the House of Commons. We still object to Autumn Sessions, but we have never objected to sit through the month of February, because most of us do not indulge in those forms of travel and amusement for which the month of February is peculiarly adapted. If right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench opposite would consult the convenience of the House as a whole instead of only their own personal convenience and predictions, we should not be called upon to meet on Fridays at eleven or on Saturdays.
§ Mr. PEASE
This is the first indication the Government have received that the hour of eleven is not generally convenient. I have taken some pains to ascertain the views of hon. Members on this side of the House, and I am informed that this hour is convenient to them. I admit that the particular hour of eleven is still in the 832 experimental stage. It has been provisionally adopted in another Motion and we understood that it was generally accepted. I have been told that for the majority of Members it has been convenient. Whenever any changes in the hours have been suggested, there have always been protests from some quarter or other of the House. In this particular case we believe it will be for the convenience of the House that we should meet early. Probably only one or two Divisions will take place and they will be early in the day. After the Divisions on the Instructions there will probably be no further Divisions. It was with a view of allocating the time fairly, and in view of the possibility of a Saturday sitting, that we proposed eleven o'clock rather than twelve.
§ Lord BALCARRES
I do not want to enter into a controversy as to the merits of eleven or twelve o'clock, but may I remind the right hon. Gentleman that when it was last proposed a large number of Members voted against his proposal, and in one quarter of the House at least many Members still object to it. It is not the hour of eleven I object to but the hour of rising. When the mid-day hour of meeting on a Friday was suspended, first on the Welsh Bill, I asked the leader of the House at the time—I think: it was the Home Secretary—to give this pledge, that when the usual question about the order of business is put on Thursday we should be told the business for the whole of the following week, so that we should know when we are to meet and when to rise on the Friday. He said it was impossible always to forecast so long as that, but an assurance was given that whenever possible it would be done. Unfortunately it has very seldom been possible for us to know at what hour the House would meet on the following Friday. In one case it was not until Tuesday afternoon that the House knew what the business of the following Friday was, and what hour we should meet. That was not considerate to the House as a whole, and I now repeat what I asked on that occasion.
§ Mr. WATSON RUTHERFORD
The right hon. Gentleman seems to have misapprehended our objections to this proposal. Our objection is not to eleven o'clock on a Friday, but that from one week to another we do not know whether on the following Friday we shall meet at eleven or twelve. I do not make much out of the fact that some of us have standing engagements of 833 great importance at eleven o'clock on Friday in order to enable us to get our business done and get to the House by twelve o'clock. It is obvious, if the general convenience of the House is to be studied at all, we should have some reasonable certainty with regard to this. If the Government would boldly take the whole subject by the horns and make the hour eleven o'clock for Friday generally, then we should know where we are. With regard to the inconvenience of knowing at what time the House is going to break up very few of us have any fixed engagement after midnight, and therefore it does
§ not make much difference whether we get away at eleven o'clock, or two, three, four, or five, but it does make the greatest possible difference to the convenience of anybody who has matters of business to attend to to know from one week to another whether the House is to meet on Friday at eleven or twelve, and it is for that reason I support the Amendment.
§ Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 175; Noes, 47.835
|Division No. 554.]||AYES.||[3.28 a.m.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour)||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Hackett, J.||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Addison, Dr. C.||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||O'Shee, James John|
|Allen, Arthur Acland (Dumbartonshire)||Hardie, J. Keir||O'Sullivan, Timothy|
|Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud)||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, W.)||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Arnold, Sydney||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N.E.)||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)|
|Baker, Harold T. (Accrington)||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)|
|Barnes, George N.||Hayden, John Patrick||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)|
|Barton, William||Hayward, Evan||Pollard, Sir George H.|
|Benn, W. W. (T. Hamlets, St. George)||Hazleton, Richard||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)|
|Bentham, George Jackson||Higham, John Sharp||Pringle, William M. R.|
|Boland, John Pius||Hodge, John||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Hogge, James Myles||Reddy, M.|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)||Hudson, Walter||Redmond, William (Clare E.)|
|Brady, P. J.||Hughes, Spencer Leigh||Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Illingworth, Percy H.||Rendall, Athelstan|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Cawley, H. T. (Heywood)||Jones, William S. Glyn- (Stepney)||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Jowett, Frederick William||Robinson, Sidney|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Joyce, Michael||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)|
|Clough, William||Keating, Matthew||Roche, Augustine (Louth)|
|Clynes, John R.||Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Rowlands, James|
|Collins, Godfrey P. (Greenock)||King, J.||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon,S.Molton)||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Cotton, William Francis||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)|
|Crumley, Patrick||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||Sheehy, David|
|Cullinan, John||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rid, Cockerm'th)||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)|
|Davies, Sir W, Howell (Bristol, S.)||Lewis, John Herbert||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim)|
|Dawes, J. A.||London, T.||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N.W.)|
|Delany, William||Lyell, Charles Henry||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
|Devlin, Joseph||Lynch, A. A.||Sutherland, J. E.|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Sutton, John E.|
|Doris, William||MacNeill, J. G. Swift (Donegal, South)||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Duffy, William J.||Macpherson, James Ian||Taylor, Thomas (Bolton)|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Tennant, Harold John|
|Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.)||McGhee, Richard||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Elverston, Sir Harold||M'Laren, Hon. F.W.S. (Lincs,Spalding)||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||Marshall, Arthur Harold||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)||Meagher, Michael||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Farrell, James Patrick||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Verney, Sir Harry|
|Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles||Molloy, Michael||Wadsworth, J.|
|Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson||Mond, Sir Alfred Moritz||Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)|
|Ffrench, Peter||Morgan, George Hay||Waring, Walter|
|Fields, William||Muldoon, John||White, J. Dundas (Glas., Tradeston)|
|Fiennes, Hon. Eustace Edward||Munro, R.||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Fitzgibbon, John||Murray, Captain Hon. Arthur C.||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Nolan, Joseph||Whyte, A. F. (Perth)|
|France, Gerald Ashburner||Nugent, Sir Walter Richard||Wilkie, Alexander|
|George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthen)|
|Gill, A. H.||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Gladstone, W. G. C.||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Young, W. (Perthshire, E.)|
|Glanville, H. J.||O'Donnell, Thomas|
|Goldstone, Frank||O'Dowd, John|
|Griffiths, Ellis-Jones||O'Grady, James||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. William Jones and Mr. Webb.|
|Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)||O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)|
|Gulland, John William||O'Malley, William|
|Baird, J. L.||Grant, J. A.||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)|
|Balcarres, Lord||Helmsley, Viscount||Sanders, Robert Arthur|
|Barnston, Harry||Hickman, Colonel Thomas E.||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Hohler, G. F.||Stewart, Gershom|
|Burn, Colonel C. R.||Horne, Wm. E. (Surrey, Guildford)||Talbot, Lord E.|
|Campion, W. R.||Hunt, Rowland||Thynne, Lord A.|
|Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey)||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|Cassel, Felix||Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droitwich)||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Cator, John||Macmaster, Donald||White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)|
|Chaloner, Col. R. G. W.||Malcolm, Ian||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Clive, Captain Percy Archer||Moore, William||Wills, Sir Gilbert|
|Courthope, George Loyd||Neville, Reginald J. N.||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Pollock, Ernest Murray||Worthington-Evans, L.|
|Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Eyres-Monseil, Bolton M.||Pryce-Jones, Colonel E.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Rawlinson and Mr. Hicks Beach.|
|Gibbs, G. A.||Quilter, Sir William Eley C.|
|Glazebrook, Philip K.||Remnant, James Farquharson|
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."836
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 172; Noes, 47.837
|Division No. 555.]||AYES.||[3.35 a.m.|
|Abraham, Rt. Hon. William (Rhondda)||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Hardle, J. Keir||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Addison, Dr. C.||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, W.)||O'Shee, James John|
|Allen, Arthur Acland (Dumbartonshire)||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N.E.)||O'Sullivan, Timothy|
|Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud)||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Arnold, Sydney||Hayden, John Patrick||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)|
|Baker, Harold T. (Accrington)||Hayward, Evan||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)|
|Barton, William||Hazleton, Richard||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)|
|Benn, W. W. (Tower Hamlets, S. Geo.)||Higham, John Sharp||Pollard, Sir George H.|
|Bentham, George Jackson||Hodge, John||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)|
|Boland, John Plus||Hogge, James Mytes||Pringle, William M. R.|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Hudson, Walter||Reddy, M.|
|Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)||Hughes, Spencer Leigh||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Brady, P. J.||Illingworth, Percy H.||Redmond, William (Clare, E.)|
|Brunner, J. F. L.||Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)||Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Rendall, Athelstan|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Jorres, William S. Glyn. (Stepney)||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Cawley, H. T. (Heywood)||Jowett, Frederick William||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Joyce, Michael||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Keating, Matthew||Robinson, Sidney|
|Clough, William||Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)|
|Clynes, John R.||King, J.||Roche, Augustine (Louth)|
|Collins, Godfrey P. (Greenock)||Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon,S.Molton)||Rowlands, James|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Cotton, William Francis||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Crumley, Patrick||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)|
|Cullinan, John||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rid, Cockerm'th)||Sheehy, David|
|Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Lewis, John Herbert||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Dawes, J. A.||London, T.||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)|
|Delany, William||Lyeil, Charles Henry||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Devlin, Joseph||Lynch, A. A.||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N.W.)|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
|Doris, William||MacNeill, J. G. Swift (Donegal, South)||Sutherland, J. E.|
|Duffy, William J.||Macpherson, James Ian||Sutton, John E.|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.)||McGhee, Richard||Taylor, Thomas (Bolton)|
|Elverston, Sir Harold||M'Laren, Hon. F.W.S. (Lincs.,Spalding)||Tennant, Harold John|
|Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||Marshall, Arthur Harold||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)||Meagher, Michael||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Farrell, James Patrick||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles||Molloy, Michael||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson||Mend, Sir Alfred Moritz||Verney, Sir Harry|
|Ffrench, Peter||Morgan, George Hay||Wadsworth, J.|
|Field, William||Muldoon, John||Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)|
|Fiennes, Hon. Eustace Edward||Munro, R.||Waring, Waiter|
|Fitzgibbon, John||Murray, Captain Hon. Arthur C.||White, J. Dundas (Glas., Tradeston)|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Nolan, Joseph||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|France, Gerald Ashburner||Nugent, Sir Walter Richard||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Gill, A. H.||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Whyte, A. F. (Perth)|
|Gladstone, W. G. C.||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Glanville, H. J.||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthen)|
|Goldstone, Frank||O'Donnell, Thomas||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Griffith, Ellis Jones||O'Dowd, John||Young, W. (Perthshire, E.)|
|Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)||O'Grady, James|
|Gulland, John William||O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. William Jones and Mr. H. Webb.|
|Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||O'Malley, William|
|Baird, J. L.||Grant, J. A.||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Balcarres, Lord||Helmsley, Viscount||Sanders, Robert Arthur|
|Barnston, Harry||Hickman, Colonel Thomas E.||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Hohler, G. F.||Stewart, Gershom|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Horne, E. (Surrey, Guildford)||Talbot, Lord E.|
|Burn, Colonel C. R.||Hunt, Rowland||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|Campion, W. R.||Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey)||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droitwich)||White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)|
|Cassel, Felix||Macmaster, Donald||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Cator, John||Malcolm, Ian||Wills, Sir Gilbert|
|Chaloner, Col. R. G. W.||Moore, William||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Clive, Captain Percy Archer||Neville, Reginald J. N.||Worthington-Evans, L.|
|Courthope, George Loyd||Pollock, Ernest Murray|
|Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Pretyman, Ernest George||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.-Mr.|
|Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Pryce-Jones, Colonel E.||Watson Rutherford and Lord A.|
|Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.||Quilter, Sir William Eley C.||Thynne.|
|Glazebrook, Captain Philip K.||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
§ Question put accordingly, "That this Resolution, Appendix, and Time Table be the Resolution of the House."838
§ The House divided: Ayes, 172; Noes, 45.839
|Division No. 556.]||AYES.||[3.43 a.m.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin, Harbour)||Hardle, J. Keir||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, W.)||O'Shee, James John|
|Allen, Arthur Acland (Dumbartonshire)||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N.E.)||O'Sullivan, Timothy|
|Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud)||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Arnold, Sydney||Hayden, John Patrick||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)|
|Baker, Harold T. (Accrington)||Hayward, Evan||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)|
|Barton, William||Hazleton, Richard||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)|
|Benn, W. W. (Tower Hamlets, S. Geo.)||Higham, John Sharp||Pollard, Sir George H.|
|Bentham, George Jackson||Hodge, John||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)|
|Boland, John Pius||Hogge, James Myles||Pringle, William M. R.|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Rattan, Peter Wilson|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Hudson, Walter||Reddy, M.|
|Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)||Hughes, Spencer Leigh||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Brady, P. J.||Illingworth, Percy H.||Redmond, William (Clare, E.)|
|Brunner, J. F. L.||Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)||Redmond, William Archer (Tyrone, E.)|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Rendall, Athelstan|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Jones, William S. Glyn- (Stepney)||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Cawley, H. T. (Heywood)||Jowett, Frederick William||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Joyce, Michael||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Keating, Matthew||Robinson, Sidney|
|Clough, William||Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)|
|Clynes, John R.||Kilbride, Denis||Roche, Augustine (Louth)|
|Collins, Godfrey P. (Greenock)||King, J.||Rowlands, James|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon,S.Molton)||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Cotton, William Francis||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Crumley, Patrick||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)|
|Cullinan, John||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)||Sheehy, David|
|Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rid, Cockerm'th)||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Dawes, J. A.||Lewis, John Herbert||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)|
|Delany, William||London, T.||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim)|
|Devlin, Joseph||Lyell, Charles Henry||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N.W.)|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Lynch, A. A.||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
|Doris, William||Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Sutherland, J. E.|
|Duffy, William J.||MacNeill, J. G. Swift (Donegal, South)||Sutton, John E.|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Macpherson, James Ian||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.)||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Taylor, Thomas (Bolton)|
|Elverston, Sir Harold||McGhee, Richard||Tennant, Harold John|
|Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||M'Laren, Hon. F.W.S. (Lincs.,Spalding)||Thorne, G. R (Wolverhampton)|
|Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)||Marshall, Arthur Harold||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Farrell, James Patrick||Meagher, Michael||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson||Molloy, Michael||Verney, Sir Harry|
|Ffrench, Peter||Mond, Sir Alfred Moritz||Wadsworth, J.|
|Field, William||Morgan, George Hay||Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)|
|Fiennes, Hon. Eustace Edward||Muldoon, John||Waring, Walter|
|Fitzgibbon, John||Munro, R.||White, J. Dundas (Glas., Tradeston)|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Murray, Captain Hon. Arthur C.||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|France, Gerald Ashburner||Nolan, Joseph||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Gill, A. H.||Nugent, Sir Walter Richard||Whyte, A. F. (Perth)|
|Gladstone, W. G. C.||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Glanville, H. J.||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthen)|
|Goldstone, Frank||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Griffith, Ellis Jones||O'Donnell, Thomas||Young, W. (Perthshire, E.)|
|Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)||O'Dowd, John|
|Gulland, John William||O'Grady, James|
|Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. William Jones and Mr. Webb.|
|Hackett, J.||O'Malley, William|
|Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)|
|Baird, J. L.||Helmsley, Viscount||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Barnston, Harry||Hickman, Col. Thomas E.||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool., W. Derby)|
|Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Horne, Edgar (Surrey, Guildford)||Stewart, Gershom|
|Burn, Colonel C. R.||Hunt, Rowland||Talbot, Lord E.|
|Campion, W. R.||Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey)||Thynne, Lord A.|
|Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droitwich)||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|Cassel, Felix||Macmaster, Donald||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Cator, John||Malcolm, Ian||Williams, Cot. R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Chaloner, Col. R. G. W.||Moore, William||Wills, Sir Gilbert|
|Clive, Captain Percy Archer||Neville, Reginald J. N.||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Courthope, George Loyd||Pollock, Ernest Murray||Worthington-Evans, L.|
|Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Pryce-Jones, Cot. E.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Lord Balcarres and Mr. Sanders.|
|Glazebrook, Captain Philip K.||Quitter, Sir William Eley C.|
|Grant, J. A.||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
Question put, and agreed to.
On that point, may I ask the Patronage Secretary whether he can give us any information as to the Saturday sittings which were foreshadowed by the Prime Minister in the guillotine Resolution which has just been passed. It has occurred to some of us from the way in which the guillotine Resolution has been drawn that it is the intention of the Government to sit on Saturdays in the future. If so it would be a convenience to the House that some statement on the matter should be made as to whether we are going to sit on the first Saturday, the second Saturday, or the third Saturday, or on all of them. I cannot quite see how the business is to be got through in any sort of businesslike fashion unless the Government extend the Session much further than the Prime Minister foreshadowed a few days ago. I think the feeling on this side of the House would be much more in favour of extending the length of the Session to working on Saturday as well as on the other days of the week.
I am quite sure that anybody who has had experience of the last six years— each year getting more arduous than the last—will agree that it is impossible to legislate with any degree of success during the hours to which the Government have committed us. It is quite evident that at the present moment, having sat up to nearly four o'clock, that it would be impossible if the same thing occurred again to sit on Friday. It means by the time hon. Members get home it will be five o'clock and they have to meet again at eleven o'clock and perhaps go on beyond the ordinary hour of five o'clock owing to the number of divisions. Now it is proposed that on the top of all that we should sit on Saturday. I think that in trying to carry difficult Bills under such circumstances the legislation is bound to suffer. We cannot keep up the strain 840 during the whole time. I hope the Patronage Secretary will be able to assure the House that sooner than sacrifice the efficiency of legislation he will ask the House to sit longer than was foreshadowed by the Prime Minister, and that we will not sit on Saturdays.
§ Mr. HICKS BEACH
May I add that I observe with concern as the weeks go by the increasing pallor on the faces of hon. Gentlemen opposite, while the countenance of my hon. and gallant Friend remains healthy and ruddy, evidently hon. Members opposite are feeling the strain of their arduous labours. I suggest that it would be in the interest of their health that they should be allowed to go home for the weekend. Is it really necessary that the House should sit on Saturday as well as Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday? It might have been all very well when we sat six months of the year, but now, when we go on sitting almost every month of the year, it does seem a little hard asking us at the end of the Session to sit on Saturdays as well. I hope the Government will give the Members of the House as long notice as possible of when we are to sit. There are a good many Members on both sides who have business to transact in other parts of the country as well as in London. Most of us have arranged such engagements as we have for Saturdays some weeks ahead. In the interests of both sides of the House I hope the right hon. Gentleman will give us some indication of how many Saturday sittings we are to have.
§ Mr. PEASE
I can assure right hon. Gentlemen and hon. Gentlemen opposite that at the present moment there is no intention whatever of asking Members to come here on a Saturday. We have, however inserted in the Guillotine Resolution the word "Saturday," with a view to 841 enabling us, if circumstances arise in connection with the passage of the Bill, to extend the Report stage. We do not anticipate there will be any action of that kind. The Patronage Secretary tells me that, so far as he is aware, there is no intention of asking the House to sit on any Saturday. Of course it must not be taken as a definite pledge that there will be no Saturday sitting, but at present there is no intention on the part of the Government of sitting on a Saturday. The views of hon. Members opposite, which have been so clearly and courteously expressed, will be conveyed to the Prime Minister.
§ Mr. PRETYMAN
I think we may take what the right hon. Gentleman says as a pledge. [HON. MEMBERS: "NO."] Perhaps I may be allowed to convey my opinion. I do not wonder that hon. Members opposite are rather averse to hearing right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench giving pledges because there is trouble afterwards. It is rather amusing to us on this side to obtain as many pledges as we' can and then to see what will happen. I understand there is a perfectly clear pledge that there will be no Saturday sitting except on the Report stage.
§ Lord ALEXANDER THYNNE
Will the right hon. Gentleman give an undertaking that we shall have ample notice of a Saturday sitting? I think the right hon. Gentleman knows that Saturday sittings are very inconvenient. Owing to their inconvenience, I think we are entitled to get ample notice. If the right hon. Gentleman will give an undertaking that we shall receive at least four or five days' notice of a Saturday sitting, then we shall be satisfied.
§ 4.0 A.M.
§ Lord ALEXANDER THYNNE
That is very unsatisfactory. At 3.15 this morning we decide to meet at eleven 842 o'clock. I want the right hon. Gentleman to give us some assurance that at five o'clock on some Friday afternoon the House will not be told that we must meet on the following Saturday. I hope the right hon. Gentleman will undertake that, hon. Members shall have at least four or five days' notice.
§ Mr. BOOTH
When the Opposition come forward and claim that a certain day is inconvenient, I remember what they did only a few weeks ago. I have not had the same respect for the Opposition since. Complaint was made by the Opposition then that Friday was a most inconvenient day for Members to turn up. I went away with the idea that there was a party trick behind it, and so there proved to be.
§ Mr. BOOTH
What then was the meaning of the series of speeches we got that night about the inconvenience of early Friday sittings, and then, immediately after, one of the greatest musters of the Opposition which has ever occurred. I remember the scene at the entrance to the lobby where large numbers of Members wailed, full of excitement, for the Division figures. There was every indication of a snap Division. It is quite easy to tell when hon. Members on the opposite side have got some game afoot. I ask I hem not to do this kind of thing again, for I am determined to respect them, if they will allow me. I ask them if a Saturday sitting is to be taken, not to turn up in unexpected numbers.
§ Mr. HAROLD SMITH
I hope the hon. Gentleman will not think me rude if I say that my hon. Friends, so far as I am able to ascertain, do not desire his respect. We receive with some distrust these expressions of desire to assist us. I remember an occasion when, at 4.30 in the morning of a Friday, the Government asked the House to meet again at eleven o'clock on the same morning. We received all sorts of promises of safeguards from the Front Bench then, being told in fact that this was not to be regarded as a I precedent but only to meet the particular 843 emergency of the Bill under discussion. The Home Secretary promised he would give us a lengthy notice before such a proposal was made again. That was only a few weeks ago and we are again asked to sit early on Friday with very short notice. This sort of thing makes inroads into the arrangements and Standing Orders of the House. Soothing words and protestations from the Ministers in charge are all very well, but we know that the Ministers in charge are not responsible and are not able to speak for the Government, because they do not know from day to day what fresh step the Government is going to take. I associate myself warmly with the 844 remarks of my Noble Friend. Those who have to work for a living feel it a breach of our privileges to be treated so. I say this procedure is bad for the House of Commons and bad for the work of the House of Commons and I protest against it.
The orders for the remaining Government business were read, and postponed.
§ Whereupon Mr. SPEAKER, pursuant to the Order of the House of 14th October, proposed the Question, "That this House do now adjourn."
§ Adjourned accordingly at Nine minutes after Four o'clock a.m., Friday, 24th January.