HL Deb 22 March 1901 vol 91 cc842-3

My Lords, on the motion for adjournment I wish to allude for a moment to a subject which I think touches your Lordships' convenience very greatly, if, indeed, it does not affect your privileges. I refer to the, old subject of the delivery of Papers. We have had, in the course of the last seven days, two notable instances of the laggard delivery of Papers to Members. Last Friday an important debate was raised in this House by the noble Viscount who was formerly Commander-in-Chief, and some very important Papers were published —namely, Lord Wolseley's Memorandum, with remarks upon it by the noble Marquess the late Secretary of State for War, and by Mr. Brodrick, the present Minister for War. Those Papers were certainly important Papers for the consideration of those who intended to take part in the debate. They were delivered to the Members of the House of Commons on the Friday morning, and appeared in some of the morning newspapers on that day. It is true we found them on the Table of the House when we came down on Friday afternoon, but they were not delivered to Members of your Lordships' House in their homes till Saturday morning, after the debate, for which they were all important, had taken place. Exactly the same thing has occurred this morning, except that there was no debate arising in your Lordships' House. Very important Papers were delivered to Members of the House of Commons this morning-the Papers referring to the recent peace negotiations between Lord Kitchener and General Botha. I had a curious instance to-day of how these differences in delivery between the House of Commons and your Lordships' House act. I was at the house, of my noble friend Lord Kimberley—whose improved condition we all so greatly rejoice in—and I found that his son, Mr. Wodehouse, who has the privilege of a scat in the other House, was in possession of these Papers, whereas they were not to be found in the Papers delivered to my noble friend Lord Kimberley. It docs not seem to me right, even if there may be difficulties in delivering Papers as promptly to Members of your Lordships' House as to Members of the other House—although I must say I do not sec why that difficulty should arise—that in the ease of Papers of special importance we should not have them as early as Members of the House of Commons, and certainly as early as they are given to the Press. I do not know whose business this is. It is a matter which I have heard raised constantly during the time I have had the honour of a seat in your Lordships' House, but I think it is a matter which is worthy of consideration, and it is one that we ought to ask both the Government and the authorities of the House to do their best to correct.


My Lords, I am afraid I cannot give the noble Lord any information on this matter. He is quite right in saying that it is a subject upon which observation has been made before. I am told that the distribution of Papers rests entirely with the printers, and not with any officer of this House, but I will make inquiry, and see whether any improvement can be adopted.

House adjourned at Five of the clock, to Monday next, a quarter before Eleven of the clock.