HL Deb 24 June 1886 vol 307 cc200-2

said, he had to complain that Parliament, six months after the General Election, should be dissolved. If a different step had been taken by the present Government they might have avoided a Winter Session. It had been said that this Dissolution was inevitable; but his late noble and learned Relative used to say—"If a thing be declared impossible it will happen in a fortnight." What was declared "inevitable" was quite avoidable. A Dissolution would not only interfere with the harvest, but also with the London season, and with everything that had to be discussed. The Women's Suffrage Bill stood in "another place" for June 30, and the Bill in this House for July 8. The Butter Substitutes (Regulation of Sale) Bill was also delayed, and it was meant to alleviate a competition by which farmers were almost ruined. He (Lord Denman) believed that if Her Majesty had been advised to allow Parliament to be adjourned instead of "dissolved" the people would have been deeply grateful. The noble Earl on the Cross Benches (the Earl of Wemyss) had in 1884 induced above 30 Members of their Lordships' House to promise to stay from the 15th of July till the time needed for the finishing of all Business; but the 10th of July cut all Business short. He (Lord Denman) remarked that letters had been written by Peers naming certain candidates; but in the 3rd Volume of Hatsell's Precedents, page 63, there was the case of the Bishop of Carlisle brought before the House of Commons, and the right rev. Prelate was sharply censured as a Peer for expressing his wish in a letter as to one candidate. He named this, as it might embarass an Election Judge very much to decide what weight should be given to a mere Resolution of one House of Parliament. He had been very anxious to avoid seeming to dictate to the good sense of the electors relied upon by Her Majesty, and had last year written to a noble Lord, a near neighbour of his, not to be chairman of a meeting in Haddington.




said, the Marquess of Tweeddale advertised to hear a speech by a right hon. Gentleman, a candidate for a division of Edinburgh. That was supposed by the noble Marquess not to be irregular; but in his speech the right hon. Gentleman attacked Lord Elcho, then a candidate for Haddingtonshire, without being called to Order. He (Lord Denman) hoped that this interference would be very rare at any future Election.


said, he joined in the protest of the noble Lord. He observed that some remarks had been made as to the interference by Peers in a Parliamentary Election constituting a breach of the Privileges of the other House; but it seemed to have been overlooked that the noble Earl the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs had himself set an example, by taking a prominent part in the election of the Prime Minister for Mid Lothian in 1880. He wished to call their Lordships' attention to the unusual state of affairs. The Marquess of Hartington in his address called this a "premature Dissolution." It was a premature Dissolution; and he ventured to say that no precedent could be adduced for dissolving a Parliament within six months of a General Election under circumstances like the present. The people of the country were appealed to by the Prime Minister, and yet he had placed no tangible and accurate statement of policy before them. He considered the Dissolution might be regarded in the light of a personal plébiscite. It was a dangerous, he would almost say an unconstitutional, precedent. There was no necessity for it. The Government might have tendered their resignation, and Her Majesty might have had an opportunity of calling other Advisers to her councils. There was a large section represented by Lord Hartington and others of the Liberal Party who might have been expected to take Office. At all events, the various Parties in the State had not been exhausted as regarded the formation of a Government.

Motion agreed to: House adjourned during pleasure; and resumed by The LORD CHANCELLOR.