HC Deb 10 February 1914 vol 58 cc49-50
Captain CRAIG

I desire to ask you whether it would not be possible at the beginning of this Session to make arrangements more suitable for the seating of Members than at present exists? We on this side of the House are the largest party in the House and we enter upon this eventful Session with the Nationalist party sitting, not only on our left flank but behind a great many of my colleagues and Friends who are on the Front Bench below the Gangway, and the consequence is that during Debates which must necessarily be during this Session of a very heated character, I think you will agree with me that it would be more to the dignity of this House if the Nationalist party were to take themselves across to the other side, where they really belong. As their Leader the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. John Redmond) said a few days ago at the National Liberal Club, he had swallowed the whole of Liberalism and therefore belonged to them. On 11th April of last year, I made this appeal to you, and you then pointed out that the Galleries up above were within the precincts of the House, and I suggest that they, therefore, who are not allowed, except some five of them, to take any part whatever in the Debates of the House, should either relegate themselves to the Gallery or crush in amongst those whom they are driving on at the present moment. I think the appeal to you will be all the stronger when I point out that since April we have won Crewe, North-West Manchester, Midlothian, Bow and Bromley, Newmarket, Reading and South Lanark, all adding, some fourteen on a Division, to this side, and that being so, I do not see why we should be subjected during important Debates to constant interruptions from some of the Nationalist party who are not allowed to speak, and therefore can only shout, which we all admit makes our debates all the more difficult to conduct. In these circumstances, I ask that we make an appeal to them to go to the right side of the House, where we shall be able to face them, instead of having them at our back.


I quite agree with what the hon. and gallant Gentleman has said, that it would be perhaps better if we could so arrange the distribution of parties in the House that those who are supporting the Government should be always on my right, and those who oppose them always on my left, but the physical capabilities of the House do not permit of it. The House itself is so constructed that it is not large enough to hold the Members if they were all present, therefore there must be a certain amount of inconvenience and crowding whether on one side or the other. If the hon. and gallant Gentleman would cast his eyes opposite him and imagine for a moment how he is going to put eighty-four more Members there, he would see that the difficulty is insuperable. I hope the difficulty which he seems to think may arise will not arise, and that in this Session, as in past Sessions, debate will be conducted with a mutual forbearance, which has been shown, and which, I trust, may ever be shown, by one set of Members towards another.