HL Deb 19 June 1885 vol 298 cc1594-600

Order of the Day for considering the Commons reasons for disagreeing to some of the Lords amendments, read.

Moved, "That the House do now take the said reasons into consideration."—(The Earl of Kimberley.)


I must renew the grounds of the objection which I stated a short time ago. The Bill, by its structure, legally prevents any Dissolution taking place between the time of its passing and November next. I will not argue as to the fact; I believe that it is undoubted. I will not enter upon the expediency. That is a question which I do not wish now to discuss; but the point I wish to impress upon your Lordships is that it is a very singular and unusual event in our history. Except in the time of the Long Parliament, the Sovereign has never before been deprived of the power of Dissolution, and I think that such a state of things ought not to exist unless there is a responsible Government in power at the time. I think a Bill having such an effect should not be passed without a responsible Government. What a responsible Government, whether on that side of the House or this, may decide on the matter, I do not wish to anticipate; but we have no right to make so large a Constitutional innovation when no responsible Government is in power. I, therefore, move that the consideration of the Commons' reasons for disagreeing with the Lords' Amendments to this Bill be postponed until Tuesday.

Amendment moved, to leave out ("now") and add at the end of the Motion ("on Tuesday next.")—(The Marquess of Salisbury.)


So far as this side of the House is concerned, I feel bound to say that it was thought probable that some objections of this kind would be raised. The noble Marquess is well aware, of course, that the clause in debate—the clause as to the Dissolution—was introduced at his suggestion. It now appears that some technical objection is raised to the clause. It seems to me that if it is not the intention of any Party in this country—and I cannot conceive for a moment that it can be the intention anywhere—to lay aside this important Bill, there is no reason why the consideration of these Amendments should not be proceeded with forthwith. I would venture to ask your Lordships' attention to what took place in the other House, and I have a right to refer to what took place there, because their proceedings in regard to the Bill are formally before us. After the resignation of the Government took place, and when the Amendments came to be considered, the House decided, by an overwhelming majority of 333 to 35, I believe, that it should proceed with the Amendments. Now, my Lords, is it for this House, after such a declaration of opinion on the part of the House which is immediately concerned, to raise some technical objection of this kind, and refuse to pass this Bill into law to the great inconvenience of the whole country? My Lords, I do not wish that anything I say should be supposed for a moment to impute motives which I have no right to suppose exist; but how is it possible to avoid the belief that there may be some intention somewhere of tampering with this important Bill? If not, how can it be possible that the minds of noble Lords opposite should not be prepared to proceed, having before them this great majority in the other House? The present Government, which is still technically, though not in one sense a Government, are ready to proceed with these Amendments. I say it is impossible to understand what can be the object the noble Marquess has in this appeal. My Lords, can it be that it is contemplated that there should be a Dissolution of Parliament before the present Bill comes into effect? That may be technically possible; but I assert that the whole country is so bent upon this Bill passing into law, and upon there being no Dissolution and no Election until this Bill has passed into law, that no man could possibly hold Office in this country that would advise Her Majesty to dissolve Parliament except under this Bill. These are the undeniable facts, and I shall ask the House to proceed with the consideration of the Amendments, and I earnestly hope that the Amendments will be taken into consideration forthwith.


said, he objected to the Amendments being proceeded with now. The House had been very much hurried with regard to the Amendments on this Bill. He himself had had two or three Amendments, in which great interest was felt by the people of the West Riding of York- shire, and he had been precluded at a former stage from having those Amendments discussed, because of the noble Earl's statement that it was most important that the Bill should go down to the other House on that night. But what occurred? So far from the other House taking the Amendments into consideration on that night, the Bill was postponed till the following Monday. Notwithstanding the noble Earl's protests, therefore, the other House had proceeded with great deliberation, and had allowed an interval of two or three days before considering the Amendments. He held in his hand a telegram as to one of the local Amendments to which he had referred; but the noble Earl seemed to think that these local affairs were of no consequence. He begged to tell him that the localities felt deeply on the Amendments which had been hurried through in that House: and he, for one, should certainly support the Motion to postpone the Bill. The House should not be asked to hurry forward this measure when the other House had proceeded with such deliberation.


I wish only to say that the noble Earl (the Earl of Kimberley) is quite mistaken—at least, according to our opinion—when he says that these Amendments, which are the cause of the difficulty, were made at my instigation. It is the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th clauses which, I believe, make the difficulty. I think the noble Earl has taken an unnecessarily heroic line on this subject. The whole question is a delay of three or four days. If your Lordships grant that delay there is a possibility that there will be a delay of four days in the Dissolution? Is the sky likely to fall if that should occur? I hope your Lordships will not succumb to the very tragic tone of the noble Earl, but will consent to my proposition.


I may have been mistaken as to the particular clauses which create the difficulty, and I, of course, do not impute any possible breach of engagement to the noble Marquess in the slightest degree. Still, I ask, why should there be a delay of four days? I understood the noble Earl who spoke just now (the Earl of Fev6rsham) to complain that there had not been sufficient Notice of the Amendments in Committee on the Bill; but I think that the Notice was ample, as those Amendments have been before the House for several days. There has been as much Notice as there was in the other House. Therefore I do not understand why this matter is not to be proceeded with. The House can oppose the Commons' Amendments and give reasons for disagreement; or, if it does not insist on its own Amendments, the Bill will then pass through both Houses of Parliament; but I have not heard any reason given why we should adjourn the consideration of this Bill for four days, and I shall certainly divide the House upon the question.

On Question, That ("now") stand part of the Motion? Their Lordships divided:—Contents 56; Not-Contents 124: Majority 68.

Selborne, E. (Z. Chancellor.) Carrington, L. [Teller.]
Carysfort, L. (E. Carysfort.)
Devonshire, D. Elgin, L. (E. Elgin and Kincardine.)
Marlborough, D.
Somerset, D. Emly, L.
Ettrick, L. (L. Napier.)
Northampton, M. FitzGerald, L.
Ripon, M. Granard, L. (E. Granard.)
Camperdown, E. Hammond, L.
Chichester, E. Herries, L.
Derby, E. Hothfield, L.
Granville, E. Houghton, L.
Kimberley, E. Kenmare, L. (E. Kenmare.)
Minto, E.
Northbrook, E. Leigh, L.
Shaftesbury, E. Londesborough, L.
Sydney, E. Lovat, L.
Lyttelton, L.
Eversley, V. Monk Bretton, L.
Gordon, V. (E. Aberdeen.) Monson, L. [Teller.]
Monteagle of Brandon, L.
Leinster, V. (D. Leinster.)
Mount-Temple, L.
Powerscourt, V. Robartes, L.
Sherbrooke, V. Rosebery, L. (E. Rosebery.)
Aberdare, L. Strafford, L. (V. Enfield.)
Acton, L.
Alcester, L. Sudeley, L.
Belper, L. Sudley, L. (E. Arran.)
Bramwell, L. Tweeddale, L. (M. Tweeddale.)
Braye, L.
Breadalbane, L. (E. Breadalbane.) Tweedmouth, L.
Wenlock, L.
Carlingford, L.
Buckingham and Chandos, D. Richmond, D.
Sutherland, D.
Grafton, D.
Leeds, D. Abergavenny, M.
Manchester, D Bristol, M.
Bute, M. Brabourne, E.
Salisbury, M. Castlemaine, L.
Clanwilliam, L. (E. Clanwilliam.)
Annesley, E.
Ashburnham, E. Clifton,L. (E.Darnley.)
Bandon, E. Clinton, L.
Beauchamp, E. Clonbrock, L.
Belmore, E. Cloncurry, L.
Brownlow, E. Colchester, L.
Cairns, E. Colville of Culross, L.
Carnarvon, E. Crofton, L.
Coventry, E. De Freyne, L.
Cowley, E. de Ros, L.
Dartmouth, E. Denman, L.
Dartrey, E. Digby, L.
Eldon, E. Dinevor, L.
Feversham, E. Donington, L.
Hardwicke, E. Ellenborough, L.
Harewood, E. Forester, L.
Harrowby, E. Foxford, L. (R. Limerick.)
Jersey, E.
Kilmorey, E. Gage, L. (V. Gage.)
Lathom, E. [Teller.] Gerard, L.
Macclesfield, E. Gormanston, L. (V. Gormanston.)
Manvers, E.
Mar and Kellie, E. Hartismere, L. (L.Henniker.)
Milltown, E.
Mount Edgcumbe, E. Keane, L.
Northesk, E. Ker, L. (M. Lothian.)
Onslow, E. Kintore, L. (E. Kintore.)
Orkney, E.
Poulett, E. Leconfield, L.
Radnor, E. Lyveden, L.
Ravensworth, E. Mostyn, L.
Redesdale, E. Napier, L.
Rosse, E. Norton, L.
Stanhope, E. Oranmore and Browne, L.
Strange, E. (D.Athole.)
Strathmore and Kinghorn, E. Penrhyn, L.
Petre, L.
Vane, E. (M.Londonderry.) Raglan, L.
Ranfurly, L. (E. Ranfurly.)
Waldegrave, E.
Ross, L. (E. Glasgow.)
Clancarty, V. (E. Clancarty.) Rossmore, L.
Saltersford, L. (E. Courtown.)
Cranbrook, V.
Gough, V. Saltoun, L.
Hardinge, V. Shute, L.(V. Barrington.)
Hawarden, V. [Teller.]
Hutchinson, V. (E. Donoughmore.) Silchester, L. (E. Longford.)
Sidmouth, V. Stanley of Alderley, L.
St. Vincent, V. Stewart of Garlies, L. (E. Galloway.)
Chichester, L. Bp. Stratheden and Campbell, L.
Gloucester and Bristol, L. Bp.
Strathnairn, L.
Templemore, L.
Amherst, L.(V.Holmesdale.) Tollemache, L.
Trevor, L.
Ashford, L. (V.Bury.) Tyrone, L. (M. Waterford.)
Aveland, L.
Bagot, L. Ventry, L.
Balfour of Burley, L. Watson, L.
Beaumont, L. Wimborne, L.
Blantyre, L. Winmarleigh, L.
Bolton, L. Wynford, L.
Borthwick, L. Zouche of Haryngworth, L.
Boston, L.

Ordered that the said reasons be considered on Tuesday next.


In consequence of this decision, and what was said by the noble Marquess, I move that the House do now adjourn till Tuesday next. It will, of course, be understood that the House will be able to sit for the disposal of Judicial Business on Monday.

Motion agreed to.