HC Deb 23 July 1913 vol 55 cc2057-8

May I ask Mr. Speaker's ruling, with the diffidence of one who does not understand the forms of this House? It arises out of a supplementary question addressed to the Secretary of State for the Colonies. I asked the right hon. Gentleman if he had got the Report from the Trade Union Officials at Johannesburg as to the cause of the strike which was mentioned in the dispatch of Lord Gladstone, and if he would lay it on the Table. The right hon. Gentleman refused. Then I asked him if he had been informed of the serious condition of things that exists on the Rand, as reported in the newspapers, that mines were closing down, and, what was more important still, that the number of troops is being increased. The right hon. Gentleman replied that he had no official information. Then I asked him if he did not think he was being deceived by Lord Gladstone. Thereupon you refused me permission to ask that supplementary question and proceeded to reprimand me, telling me that I ought to move by way of vote of censure. Have I no right to ask for an assurance from the right hon. Gentleman that he is in full possession of the facts, without being told that I must move by way of vote of censure, bearing in mind, too, that the Prime Minister has refused to give time for the discussion of such a vote?


It was the use of the word "deceived" to which I objected. The hon. Gentleman had no right to suggest that an important officer of State, such as the Governor-General of the Cape, would willingly and knowingly deceive his superior officer, the Secretary of State for the Colonies. When the hon. Member suggested that Lord Gladstone had been guilty of deceit, I at once interposed, and I pointed out to the hon. Member that if he had charges of that sort to make, the proper course was to make them openly and publicly, in tile proper form which the House had laid down, and that it should not be done by way of supplementary questions in the manner he did it.