§ MR. DARBY GRIFFITH
said, he would beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury, Whether it is the intention of the Government to advise the Crown to confer 832 a title of dignity on one of the Members for the Borough of Thetford; and whether this honour is due to any arrangements with the Government as to the Representation of that Borough?
§ MR. DISRAELI
Sir, it is the habit of my hon. Friend to ask Questions which do not comply certainly with the conditions of social life and, as far as my experience in Parliament is concerned, scarcely with those of political life. I am at a loss to ascribe any definite meaning to this Question of my hon. Friend. At one time I thought that probably some one of whom he had been making similar inquiries had been practising on his frank intelligence. Then I thought it might be that he was made the instrument of bringing before the consideration of the Government the claims of some particular friend. The third interpretation I put upon it was that perhaps my hon. Friend desired to remind us that, should it be the intention of the Government to offer any advice to the Crown to confer titles of dignity, and especially the title of Baronet, there was one person who had paramount claims to such a favour. It is always my anxious desire to give the utmost information in my power to the House when any hon. Member, in the exercise of one of his most important privileges, interrogates the Government; but I will ask the House, in its candour to weigh the language in which this inquiry is made, and to sympathize with me in the trouble which grappling with so abtruse a Question entails upon me. The hon. Gentleman asks me whether it is the intention of the Government to advise the Crown to confer a title of dignity on one of the Members for Thetford, and whether the honour is due to any arrangement respecting the representation of that borough? Now, Sir, I think the House will agree that when inquiries of this nature are made of a personal and delicate kind they should at least be precise. No hon. Gentleman is justified in making such inquiries unless he is in possession of some information. How am I to understand to whom my hon. Friend refers by "one of the Members for Thetford?" I have inquired into the representation of the borough of Thetford, and find that it is represented by my right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Advocate, who has recently appeared before the constituency; and therefore the only interpretation I can put upon this inquiry is that the hon. Gentleman wishes to know whether, in order to induce the Lord Advocate to stand for the borough 833 of Thetford, I have recommended Her Majesty to confer upon him the title of Baronet. I can assure my hon. Friend there is not the slightest foundation for that impression; whatever may be the ambition of my right hon and learned Friend the Lord Advocate, it has not yet assumed the form which he evidently imagines. If the position of the other hon. Member for Thetford (Mr. R. J. H. Harvey) were not of so acknowledged a kind, I might be tempted to imagine that he had asked the hon. Member for Devizes to make this inquiry. But, as it is, I feel bound at once to state that no application has been made to me, either directly or indirectly, by either of the Members for Thetford; and that, therefore, under these circumstances it has not occurred to me to consider whether it was my duty to recommend Her Majesty to confer on either of those Gentlemen the dignity of Baronet.