HC Deb 23 April 1914 vol 61 cc1115-7

May I ask the Prime Minister—[HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw!"]—what the business—[Laughter]—will be next week? I understand that at the request of my Noble Friend (Lord Edmund Talbot) it has been agreed that Tuesday and Wednesday, I think, should be devoted to a Motion from these benches in connection with the recent movement of troops. In connection with that I should like to say in regard to the interposition of the Prime Minister just now, that the charges mentioned by the hon. Member behind him were stated by me in the plainest and most unequivocal language in this House on the 30th of March last. I shall take the opportunity on this Motion to repeat them, and shall be glad then to have the explanation of the Prime Minister. With further reference to this particular Motion, would the Prime Minister consent to supplement the information contained in the White Paper by obtaining from General Paget, and circulating to the House, his report of the communication verbally made to him by Cabinet Ministers when he was in London, and also his account of what he said to his officers at the second conference referred to in the White Paper, when he said he would give details of the movements which were contemplated in Ulster?


This is the first I have heard of a request for a Motion; therefore, the provisional arrangements I have made for next week will have to be, I suppose, modified.

On Monday, we propose to take the Second Reading of the Plural Voting Bill.

Tuesday and Wednesday, we shall very gladly give to the discussion of the Motion, the terms of which the right hon. Gentleman has not announced, and which, I hope, will very soon appear on the Paper.

On Thursday, my right hon. Friend will introduce the Budget.

In regard to the request for the publication of supplementary documents from General Paget, as at present advised, I do not think it will be possible to comply with the request of the right hon. Gentleman, but I will consider it.


The Motion will be moved by my right hon. Friend the Member for East Worcestershire (Mr. Austen Chamberlain), who is not here to-day. I should like to consult him before the terms are put down, but it is intended that the words shall embody a request asking for an impartial inquiry into recent events. [HON. MEMBERS: "Whitewash!" and "No more Marconi Committees!"]


May I ask, Mr. Speaker, if it was not the original intention of the Government to have had the Holt Report debated next week; whether it is necessary to waste two days upon this other matter, and whether the right hon. Gentleman will not reconsider his decision to give two days, so that we might have one of the days for a discussion of the Holt Report, which is of very great importance?


We certainly intended, if this notice of Motion had not been given, to devote Tuesday to a discussion of the Post Office Vote in Committee of Supply. In view of what the right hon. Gentleman said, I cannot say that I think Tuesday and Wednesday would be more profitably occupied than in the way he has described.


May I ask the right hon. Gentleman that when he puts down the Post Office Estimates for Debate he will have it specifically understood that the first whole complete day will be occupied with the Holt Report; otherwise we may have a roving discussion?


I think it is very reasonable that that should be the first topic to be discussed. I do not know that it will occupy a whole day.


May I ask the right hon. Gentleman when he hopes to find time for the Motion which is down in his name, and which ought to have been discussed last night—the Motion dealing with Blocking Motions?


I had intended to put that down for Wednesday next. Meanwhile, I will put it down for the most convenient day.


Would it not be advisable to suspend the 11 o'clock rule so that we may succeed in having a Debate?

Sir J. D. REES

May I ask the Prime Minister whether, in view of his statement yesterday that the law relating to the use of the military in civil disputes was intelligible and reasonable, there is need for a discussion, and whether it is not a waste of time to appoint a Committee to consider it?


This is on an entirely different point—the question of the use of weapons.


Seeing that the Holt Report deals with the pay and prospects of 250,000 postal officials could we not have a complete day for its discussion? [HON. MEMBERS: "Monday!"]


I cannot alter the arrangements which I have already announced.