HL Deb 12 July 1887 vol 317 cc486-8

said, he wished to correct a passage in the report of the remarks he made in putting the Question yesterday with reference to the arrest of women by the police. He was reported to have said that— Capital had been attempted to be made in a Party sense out of the recent transactions; but he would remind their Lordships that provisions which would have prevented this outrage from taking place were introduced into the Criminal Law Amendment Bill by the present Prime Minister and struck out by Mr. Gladstone's Government. What he really did say, was that the Criminal Law Amendment Bill, which was introduced three times by Mr. Gladstone's Government, contained a clause giving power to the police to make an arrest without any complaint of annoyance having been made; and he stated that he consistently opposed that clause, and that he was honoured by the support in his opposition of the late Lord Shaftesbury and the present Prime Minister (the Marquess of Salisbury). He also gave extracts from the speeches of both those noble Lords, giving their reasons for concurring with him in thinking that such a clause would expose respectable women to great danger. He further stated that when the Bill came into the hands of the Government presided over by his noble Friend, the clause was struck out. He, therefore, could not refrain from expressing his great surprise that the police should continue to act as if that clause formed part of the Act.


My Lords, I have a similar complaint to that of my noble Friend. In the newspapers of yesterday I am made to say that Sir H. Drummond Wolff was waiting in Constantinople in a state of "animated expectancy." That would have been a very disrespectful way of speaking of Her Majesty's Ambassador, and I am sure I never was guilty of it. But I would call your Lordships' attention to the very bad acoustic conditions of this House, and if I might propose, as Conservatives sometimes do, something exceedingly revolutionary, I should like to put a fourth gentleman at this Table and make him the reporter.


said, he would remind the noble Marquess that a Committee of the House had sat on the question of reporting, and had made a similar proposal to that put forward by his noble Friend.


said, there was no doubt the reporters could report most accurately when they chose. He had had an instance of that in proposing the Women's Suffrage Bill on September 2 last. He did not give any instructions to Hansard to report him, but that gentleman's representative occupied a place generally reserved for one of the Press. The Press had a great deal too much power in this matter, especially the editor of The Times. On the occasion to which he referred, Hansard reported every word he said, and, notwithstanding that he (Lord Denman) entreated him not to publish the speech, he insisted on doing so, and did it in a rather imperfect way, imputing to the Mayor of Shef- field the words of Mr. Jacob Bright. He had since published that speech. Last night, again, he quoted four lines from Lord Houghton's rare poem, and he was certain the reporters heard them. He was not ashamed of having quoted those lines. If their Lordships chose to truckle to The Times and the Press they would endanger the liberties of their country. They were not to be called over by foreign nations for what passed in that House, as their proceedings were private. They were so formerly. From the great Conservative meeting at which Lord Beaconsfield presided at Bridge-water House the Press were excluded. A gentleman from The Telegraph came and asked him what had passed, but he told him it was private. Although the Rule of the House of Commons as regards the admission of strangers had been relaxed, he would remind their Lordships that it still subsisted in their House, that strangers must withdraw when asked. He thought the liberties of the country were in danger when Peers and Members of Parliament truckled to the Press.


said, that a Committee was appointed by their Lordships some years ago, of which he was a Member, to consider the question of reporting, and he trusted that Her Majesty's Government would take the Report of that Committee into consideration. To carry out their recommendations would have involved some alteration in the acoustic properties of the House, and would also have necessitated Parliament voting some money towards Hansard's Debates in their Lordships' House. Perhaps, their Lordships were not aware that the only means of reporting for Hansard in their House was The Times newspaper; whereas in the House of Commons some £4,000 a-year was voted for quasi-official reports. No doubt the acoustic properties of the House were very bad, and that eminent statesman (Lord Russell) could, in his latter years, only be accurately reported by means of a reporter placing himself under the floor of the House.