HC Deb 31 August 1914 vol 66 cc435-7

I beg to move, "That the House, at its rising this day, do adjourn till Wednesday, the 9th September."

I desire to say a few words to explain this Motion. When on the 10th August I moved the Adjournment of the House to the 25th, I said the postponement must be without prejudice to the domestic and political position of any party. I added that when we met on the 25th we trust we shall be in a position to wind up the business of the Session with proposals which might meet with general acquiescence, and, moving a further adjournment for a shorter time—only ten days—I reiterate what I then said. In the short interval that has elapsed since we sat on last Tuesday, the preoccupations of the War and the position at the front have been such that the House, I am sure, in all quarters will recognise that our hope of bringing the Session to an immediate end has been necessarily for the moment frustrated. The Government is asking now for a further adjournment, shorter in point of duration, because under existing circumstances it seems to us eminently desirable that the Sitting and possible action of the House, with regard to the War, should be in the public interest facilitated, and a long adjournment, or an adjournment for more than a very short time, might be really injurious.

I renew what I said three weeks ago, that it is our desire that no party in any quarter of the House should gain advantage or should suffer prejudice from the suspension for the moment of our domestic controversies. But, Sir, perhaps it is right that I should recall to the House, in view of suspicions and apprehensions which I am told exist, what was the Parliamentary situation at the time when, with general consent, those controversies were suspended. On the one hand, it was the avowed intention of the Government to put on the Statute Book before the close of the Session two Bills which had complied, or were about to comply, with the conditions and requirements of the Parliament Act. That intention, it is hardly necessary to say, remains unchanged. On the other hand, the House was on the eve of embarking at the instance of the Government—for reasons on which I need not now dwell because they are fresh in everybody's memory—on the consideration of an Irish Amending Bill, and I hope it is not necessary for me to say again here that we should regard it as most unfair to resort to what has been described as a "snap Prorogation," as if no such Bill had ever been introduced. When we resume after this very short interval, it is still our hope that it may be found possible, at any rate without any revival of acute controversy, by means of negotiations and agreement, to arrive at something in the nature of a settlement. I would add in regard to the Welsh Bill special circumstances have arisen from the outbreak of war and its consequences which we think will make it right and proper that we should make some proposal as to that measure also to the House—a proposal which, I hope, will also meet with general, if not universal agreement. When that is so we see no reason why the proceedings of the present Session should not be finally wound up. I beg to move.


With one part of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman I am in entire agreement. I am quite sure that it is his desire, and it is certainly our desire, that, as the result of the War, nothing should be done in regard to any controversial matter to place any of the parties in the controversy in a worse position than they were in before the War broke out. That is a principle which I am sure would be accepted on all sides of the House, and by no one more strongly than by the Prime Minister. I do not think it necessary to say more to-night than this—that it will in my opinion speak very badly for all sections in this House if, when that is the principle upon which we are all agreed, some method cannot be found by which the raising again in this House of controversial matters will be avoided. I am going to say no more than this to-night: I do hope that some method may be found for avoiding a renewal of controversy. Of this at least I am certain, that if, from any cause whatever, we are reduced again to controversial methods, it will be a disgrace to this House, and the country will not readily forgive those who are responsible.

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