HC Deb 02 December 1919 vol 122 cc233-4
Mr. HOGGE (by Private Notice)

asked the Leader of the House, who is responsible for authorising the use of a Committee room of the House of Commons for a chess tournament by a professional player during the discussion of an important land measure for Scotland; whether he is aware that on the last occasion on which Scottish business was discussed the proceedings were interrupted by a river pageant, and whether he is prepared to appeal to those hon. Members who prefer the chess tournament to the discussion of Scottish affairs, to abstain from voting in divisions on subjects of vital importance to Scotland, on which they have not heard the arguments?


I understand, in reply to the first part of the question, that the use of the Committee room was authorised by the Sergeant-at-Arms, at the request of a, Committee of Members of the House. The answer to the second part of the question is in the affirmative. As to the third part, I will give an undertaking, so far as I am personally concerned; but it would not be reasonable in this case alone to ask Members who have not heard the debate to refrain from taking part in Divisions. Let me add this, that the choice of to-day for this exhibition of chess is no mark of disrespect to Scotland, as I am informed that the date was fixed before it was known what the business would be.


Has my right hon. Friend considered the question of precedent, and is he prepared to assure the House that in regard to amusements this will not create a precedent? This is the first occasion on which this sort of amusement has been permitted.




I think so. If a Committee of this House wanted a prize-fight during the hours in which the House was sitting, would they get permission?


I do not think it is right to ask me to answer any hypothetical question, but if the hon. Member wishes to take part in a prize-fight and makes application in the usual way, I am sure it will be considered. I think he is wrong as to precedent. I remember soon after I became a Member of this House taking part in a chess tournament with somebody in America.


May I make a serious appeal to Members of this House to refrain from voting on matters on which they have not heard the arguments. [HON. MEMBERS: "Order !" and "Sit down !"] If it is the fact that many hon. Members are prepared to vote without having listened to the arguments, there is no excuse for wasting the time of the House in having any discussions at, all.