§ MR. PELL
I desire, Mr. Speaker, to call your attention to a point of Order, and to take your advice upon it. Some time between a quarter and half-past 8 last night, as you are aware, the Motion was put to the House that the Representation of the People Bill be read a third time. There were very few Members upon this side of the House at the moment; but the Treasury Bench was crowded. The cry for the "Ayes" was made in a very marked and distinct manner; but a challenge was made on this side of the House by myself—I am free to admit in a rather low tone—but a challenge was also made by my hon. Friend the Member for West Norfolk (Mr. Clare Read) in a very emphatic manner, who desires, as he is unable to be here himself, that I should say so much for him—namely, that he clearly and distinctly challenged your decision. Well, Sir, you decided that the "Ayes" had it. I was not aware that it was my duty to challenge your decision again; and, of course, when the Question was put a second time, it may be said that I assented to it, and that in that way the Bill passed through the House. I certainly did not know that it was my duty to repeat my challenge, and to that extent I assented to your decision, that the "Ayes" had it. After that had taken place, and you had said that the "Ayes" had it, a remarkable scene occurred in the House. The Prime Minister rose in his place as the House was breaking up anxious to go to dinner, and attempted to call your attention to the fact that he was standing at the Table. The right hon. Gentleman had some difficulty in attracting your attention; and his supporters, no doubt eager for dinner, were passing away from the House in a perfect spirit of gaiety. Ultimately the right hon. Gentleman did succeed in attracting your attention; and I believe he requested you—I do not profess to give the precise words—to make a record in the Journals of the House that the Bill had passed nemine contradicente. I may be wrong; but I did not know that it was my duty to challenge a 1561 second time, or to call your attention to the fact that a challenge had been made on this side of the House. I want to know, Sir, what steps hon. Members are to take in order to prevent a similar occurrence again? I believe that the hon. Member for West Norfolk (Mr. Glare Bead) is ready to corroborate what I have stated; but I may add that I have taken the liberty of asking one or two Members on the other side of the House if my challenge was audible or not, and I have been assured by one hon. Member that he heard it, but that he heard no second challenge. As a matter of fact, I made no second challenge, and I am unaware whether my hon. Friend did. Now, after an experience of 16 years in the House, and having been a pretty regular attendant, I never witnessed a scene of this kind before, nor have I heard of anything like it. I, therefore, wish, Sir, to know in the interests of my constituents, should they return me again, how I am to act under similar circumstances, if they should arise in the future?
§ MR. SPEAKER
I think I ought to explain to the House what occurred, as far as my action is concerned in the matter. When I put the Question, that this Bill be now read a third time, I certainly heard no dissentient voice in any part of the House. I am willing to accept the statement of the hon. Member, that he and another hon. Member did make use of dissentient exclamations; but when I put the Question that the "Ayes" had it I was satisfied, as far as my hearing goes, that no dissentient voice was raised. After the Question had been decided that the "Ayes" had it, and as hon. Members were leaving the House, the Prime Minister rose, and I called, in a voice sufficiently loud to be heard throughout the House, "Order, Order!" in order to direct the attention of the House to the action which the Prime Minister was about to take. The Prime Minister then said that he wished it to be recorded that the Bill had passed its third reading nemine contradicente. That wish was expressed a second time by the Prime Minister, and the House, as far as I am aware, distinctly heard the proposition made by the right hon. Gentleman. I then, amid silence throughout the House, put distinctly to the House the statement that this Bill was read a third time 1562 nemine contradicente, and to that statement no contradiction was made, and no dissentient voice was raised. I am aware, of course, that the circumstance was unusual. [An hon. MEMBER: Most unusual.] But I was of opinion that it was not without precedent. I was also of opinion that there was nothing whatever in the Rules, or Precedents, or Orders of this House to restrain the discretion of the House from recording a fact of that nature on an occasion of such importance. This is what occurred. Of course, I am in the hands of the House. I did not think it proper to refuse the application made to me—that the fact should be recorded on the Journals—and having put the Question, and there being no dissentient voice raised that I heard, the matter was recorded and was entered upon the Journals of the House. I now leave the matter to the discretion of the House.
§ MR. PELL
May I ask whether the only course I and my hon. Friend the Member for West Norfolk (Mr. Clare Read) could have pursued, under the circumstances, in order to prevent this entry appearing upon the Votes, was to have challenged your decision, and to have gone to a Division; or whether we should merely have objected, at the last stage, when you put the statement that the Bill was read a third time nemine contradicente?
§ MR. SPEAKER
If the hon. Member had expressed his dissent to that last Question, the words would not have been added.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
I wish to ask you, Mr. Speaker—because this is a new procedure—I wish to ask whether there is any precedent for the words nemine contradicente having been added to the record of the passing of any Bill which had been of a contentious character, and the subject of frequent debates, and of frequent Divisions during its passage through the House? We have had many instances, of course, of Votes of Thanks, of Addresses to the Crown, and of other Motions of that kind, and also of Bills of a character such as making allowances to retiring Speakers, which have been passed with perfect unanimity, and with regard to which it has been the desire of the House that its unanimity should be recorded in a particular manner by the words nemine contradicente being added. 1563 But I wish to ask you, Sir, whether there is any record of any occasion on which any measure of a contentious character, which has been a matter of controversy, has been passed with these words?
MR. GLADSTONE (who, on rising, was received with cries of "Order!")
said: I wish to make an explanation. I wish to state the view upon which I acted, if it is the pleasure of the House that I should do so. The painful reflection impresses itself upon my mind, after hearing the hon. Gentleman, opposite, and on comparing his statement with my own experience, that the ordinary faculties of hon. Members appear to become dull as men advance in life, because I totally failed to hear the challenge of the hon. Member for South Leicestershire (Mr. Pell), which he says was not low, and that of the hon. Member for West Norfolk (Mr. Clare Read), which he says was loud. Therefore, I am utterly convicted of incapacity to hear; and the hon. Member is not wholly without blame, for, undoubtedly, I did state as audibly as I could, and twice over, the purpose for which I rose.
I thought that the words used by the hon. Member were, "not low." The hon. Member will, I am sure, understand that I had not the slightest idea that he or any other hon. Member had challenged the third reading of the Bill, either when you, Mr. Speaker, said, "Those who are of the contrary opinion will say no;" or on the second occasion, when you said, "The Ayes have it." I should never have dreamt of perpetrating an error of so absurd and gross a character, nor should I have taken any steps had a single voice within my hearing been raised in an adverse sense. But the question is one of interest and importance, and perhaps I may be allowed to state what was the view of the matter upon which I ventured to act. It has been correctly stated by the right hon. Gentleman opposite that the proceeding was not a usual proceeding. My view of the matter is this. We all 1564 know that the great bulk of the decisions of this House are unanimous decisions, and are decisions come to nemine contradicente. If we run through the Votes we shall see how far the bulk of our decisions are actually made nemine contradicente; but it would be totally out of keeping with custom, propriety, and good sense to record that they were arrived at nemine contradicente in all cases. What I understand is that, upon certain rare occasions, when it is desired to give a peculiar significance, then, if there be no opposing voice, after notice has been taken—not by way of Motion, but by suggestion—of the fact, this entry of nemine contradicente is made. What I am responsible for is this—for having believed, in the first place—and in this I am confirmed by what was stated by yourself, Mr. Speaker, in the Chair—that there is no Rule binding the discretion of the House in the matter; and, in the second place, that the occasion was one worthy of this proceeding. It appeared to me to be eminently worthy of it, because here was the very peculiar case of a Bill upon which the House had spent—I am speaking from, memory—some 18 or 20 nights, but with regard to which we were constantly assured by numbers of speakers opposite that they objected, not to the enactments contained in it, but to the passing of the Bill, because of something it did not contain. Under these circumstances, it appeared to me to be most important, at a time when the opposition had already ceased, when a great change was going to be made by the admission of 2,000,000 of persons to the franchise, that that unanimous assent of the. House to the third reading of the Bill should be marked. It is said to be an unusual proceeding. Certainly it is; and such a Bill as the Representation of the People Bill is an unusual Bill. The introduction of such a Bill rarely happens. There has been only one Bill of the kind in the present century with regard to which such a proceeding would have been appropriate—I mean the Reform Act of 1832. But the proceeding could not then have taken place, because the Bill was opposed to the last, and a Division was taken on the third reading. But on the last great Constitutional occasion before that—namely, the passing of the Bill of Rights—although there was a debate on that Bill, the very same pro- 1565 ceeding took place, and the passing of the third reading of the measure was recorded as having taken place nemine contradicente. I am extremely sorry if there has been a mistake as to the fact of the original challenge, and that any error should have arisen in consequence. That I deeply regret; but, taking the facts as I and others believe them to be, I am not prepared to say that upon an occasion so remarkable, so peculiar, and so important, the suggestion ought not to have been made for recording the very significant fact that no person thought fit to challenge the Motion for the third reading of the Bill.
§ SIR MICHAEL HICKS-BEACH
I do not rise for the purpose of dealing, or attempting to deal, with the latter part of the right hon. Gentleman's observations, because we can perfectly well understand his reason for desiring to record the fact that the Bill was read a third time nemine contradicente; although, for my own part, I am bound to say I do not think that that fact has very much improved the position of the Bill. What I venture to ask your opinion upon, Mr. Speaker, is this. The Prime Minister has himself admitted that if he had heard opposing voices raised against the third reading of the Bill, he would not have asked you to state that the Bill had been read a third time nemine contradicente. We also have it from yourself, Mr. Speaker, that if when you, Sir, asked the House whether nemine contradicente should be recorded, the hon. Member for South Leicestershire (Mr. Pell) had called attention to the fact that he had said "No," the record that the Bill had been read a third time nemine contradicente would not have been made, and the declaration would not have been entered upon the Journals of the House. The question I venture to ask of you is this. It is clear that the record that the Bill was read a third time nemine contradicente was made under a false impression, because no one in this House can doubt for a moment the accuracy of the statement made by the hon. Member for South Leicestershire (Mr. Pell) on his own behalf, and on behalf of the hon. Member for West Norfolk (Mr. Clare Read), that they did say "No." The Prime Minister does not doubt the fact that they did so; and I do not suppose that anyone else will question it. You have stated that if your attention had 1566 been called to this fact yesterday, you would not have allowed the record to be made. I wish to know, then, whether, Sir, you will not direct the Minutes of the Proceedings of the House to be amended by expunging the words which declare that the Bill was read a third time nemine contradicente?
§ MR. SPEAKER
I am altogether in the hands of the House in the matter, and I shall, of course, take their directions upon the subject. As I said before, I accept most fully the statement of the hon. Member for South Leicestershire (Mr. Pell) that both he and another hon. Member did raise a dissentient voice. Therefore, I am in the hands of the House, and I am prepared to do whatever the House may direct.
I give the fullest credit to the statement of the hon. Member; and I am content to take it that he did raise a dissentient voice when the Question was put, and that he omitted to make a second challenge. But I twice distinctly made the suggestion that the fact should be recorded. In the event of any alteration of the record being decided upon now, I am bound to say that I should desire that the record be altered on the ground of a new discovery as to a matter of fact, rather than in such a way as to restrain the discretion of the House on any similar occasion.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
I am perfectly ready to make the Motion, because I am sure there has been a complete misunderstanding. A good many Members were absent who, if they had supposed that their absence would have led to such a result, would have been here. They were absent because they considered that the matter was really at an end, and they did not think the time of the House should be taken up with a Division. I venture to make the Motion which has been suggested.
It might be convenient that the Motion should be made 1567 on the ground of the matter of fact without the smallest addition.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
I should propose, as a matter of form, that the entry of the words nemine contradicente in the Votes of yesterday should be read, in order that those words may be expunged, it having been stated that they were introduced under a misapprehension of the facts.
§ SIR WILFRID LAWSON
Perhaps it would be better to let the record stand as it is, with merely an addition that the only dissentients were two Tories.
MR. JOSEPH COWEN
I was present when the Question was put, and I distinctly heard the hon. Member for South Leicestershire (Mr. Pell) challenge the first decision. The last, however, was not challenged. I have only risen, however, to ask if it is not really trilling with the House to bring forward a matter of this kind? Unquestionably the decision was unanimous. There were only four Conservatives in the House at the time. As the hon. Member has now called attention to the circumstances, the public will be perfectly conscious of them, and is it necessary to put the House to further trouble in the matter?
§ MR. PELL
I really must ask the permission of the House to make one remark after the observations of the hon. Member for Newcastle (Mr. Cowen). He has expressed an opinion that in bringing forward the matter I am only trifling with the House. I can hardly consider the question as one in which the House is being trifled with, when the Prime Minister himself went out of his way to desire that the entry should be made in the Journals of the House.
§ MR. W. E. FORSTER
I think the House must consider whether, by adopting this Motion, we may not establish a rather inconvenient precedent. Occasionally there have arisen doubts whether the Speaker has heard a negative given. I have always understood that 1568 the discretion rested with you, Sir, and we have had full confidence that you would decide to the best of your ability. But it appears to me that if we place any Motion on record, it would be a precedent for re-opening the Speaker's decision in almost all cases. I think it has been generally understood that if an hon. Member has not said "No" in a way that reaches you, the House is always ready to abide by the decision of the Chair. In this particular case it appears that only one other Member besides the hon. Member for South Leicestershire (Mr. Pell) said "No" when the Question was first put, and did not say it afterwards. Therefore the dissent was not continued, and the House would be re-opening a decision in a way which is not desirable, and might be found inconvenient in future. The hon. Member did not speak in a loud voice, or in a voice which was heard by the Speaker; and I think he ought to be content with making known the fact that there were only a very small number of Conservative Members present, and that two of them did object.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
I differ entirely from the right hon. Gentleman, and I must confess that I think there is no alternative but to expunge the words nemine contradicente. What we are discussing is a matter of fact. As was said just now by the hon. Member for Monaghan (Mr. Healy), it is competent for any person to take a Division on the Question of the omission of these words. But the hon. Member for South Leicestershire (Mr. Pell) has stated publicly in the House that he did challenge Mr. Speaker's decision, and the Prime Minister has accepted the statement that he did challenge the decision when the Question was put.
§ MR. CHAPLIN
Whether the hon. Member did it once or twice is not the question. He did challenge the decision, and we have now placed on the Journals of the House something which is diametrically opposed to the fact. I cannot conceive that there can be two opinions upon the matter. Either the Question was challenged or it was not. If it was challenged, then undoubtedly these words ought to be expunged. If it was not challenged, they are perfectly correct. The hon. Member distinctly states that he did challenge it, and under 1569 the circumstances, I cannot conceive how the House of Commons can be parties to a record which is contrary to the fact.
§ MR. DILLWYN
I do not think that an interval should have been allowed to elapse before the objection to the entry was taken, but it should have been taken when the words nemine contradicente were proposed to be recorded. My hon. Friend should have stated then that the third reading had not been passed nemine contradicente; and in that case it would not have been so recorded. But having been formally and duly recorded, I think it is too late to raise an objection now. Having said so much, I must confirm the statement of my hon. Friend the Member for South Leicestershire (Mr. Pell). I was present, and I did hear him, in a low tone of voice, say "No;" but only once.
§ MR. T. P. O'CONNOR
I think that the House had been placed in a false position in the matter by the Government and the Leader of the Opposition. My hon. Friend the Member for Monaghan. (Mr. Healy) has said that it will be competent for any Member to oppose the Motion for altering the Journals of the House; and I wish to give both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition notice that I will offer the strongest opposition to any such Motion. I am quite prepared to lay before the House the reasons why I am antagonistic to the Motion. The hon. Member for Mid Lincolnshire (Mr. Chaplin) has put the matter unfairly and incorrectly before the House. [Mr. CHAPLIN: Why?] I will tell the hon. Member why. Nobody intends to cast the slightest doubt upon the words of the hon. Member for South Leicestershire (Mr. Pell). But that is not the question which is now raised. The question is, whether the words nemine contradicente are correct or not; and I maintain that the hon. Member for South Leicestershire has himself given the strongest proof that the words nemine contradicente are accurate. The final, and actual, and recorded challenge is not when the Question is put the first time, but when it is put the second or final time. Therefore, the hon. Gentleman has himself borne testimony to the accuracy of the entry. When a Question is put by you, Sir, or by the Chairman of Committees, everybody knows that it is put twice. After the Question is put a first time, the House is cleared for a 1570 Division, and it is only the second time the Question is put that has anything of a final character. There was no second dissent on this occasion; and, therefore, the third reading was passed nemine contradicente. Secondly, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bradford (Mr. Forster) has drawn attention to what is, after all, the central part of the question. You, Sir, are the authority to decide, by the Rules of the House, whether or not dissent had been expressed. If such dissent did not reach your ear, no dissent, as a matter of fact, was expressed. That has been established as a complete and unalterable precedent. As to the assertion that your action in the matter was unprecedented, I would call the attention of the House to the circumstance that, when your Predecessor was in the Chair, and summarily closed a debate, the House unanimously declared that the fact that the Speaker's decision was unprecedented was rather a recommendation than otherwise.
§ MR. ARTHUR ARNOLD
I wish to ask, Sir, whether, in regard to the second Question—which was the Question to which the Prime Minister's Notice referred—the hon. Member for South Leicestershire (Mr. Pell) has not distinctly stated that he made no challenge; and, that being taken in connection with your directions for the entry to be made, whether, under the circumstances, the statement of the hon. Member coinciding with your own statement, the question can be reopened?
§ MR. SPEAKER
The House is in full possession of the circumstances; and I prefer to leave the question to the discretion of the House.
§ LORD RANDOLPH CHURCHILL
Would it not be better to have some Motion before the House? At present there is no Motion.
§ MR. HEALY
I rise to a point of Order. We have hitherto been discussing the question without a Motion before the House, and every Member has been heard who was desirous of being heard. It might occur to the right hon. Gentleman that it would be undesirable to put his Motion, because it might be afterwards regarded as unfortunate that any Motion of the kind should be re- 1571 corded on the Journals of the House of Commons, even although it were defeated. As the discussion has hitherto been allowed to proceed without a Motion, I would suggest that the discussion should continue to go on without a Motion, in order to give the right hon. Gentleman a locus penitentice.
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
I rise to a point of Order. I wish to know whether it is visual to allow proceedings of this kind at the commencement of Business? There has been a full previous opportunity of correcting the error. I was in the House myself at the time the Prime Minister proposed the entry of the words nemine contradicente, and I carefully watched the hon. Member for South Leicestershire (Mr. Pell) and the hon. Member for West Norfolk (Mr. Clare Read), who was by his side. They sat still, and made no objection for a long time until the cheering subsided. The only ground, therefore, could be that the hon. Member did not understand the Latin language, because the Motion was expressed in the clearest way.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
I rise to Order. The right hon. Gentleman said he rose to a point of Order; but he is not raising a point of Order, but entering into a discussion.
§ SIR CHARLES W. DILKE
There has been a double opportunity of correcting the error—namely, when the Question was put that—"The Ayes have it," and subsequently when the suggestion of the Prime Minister was put from the Chair that the entry nemine contradicente be made. I ask, therefore, whether, if the matter is to be further dealt with, it ought not to be after Notice?
§ MR. RITCHIE
How is it possible for an hon. Member to have an opportunity of correcting the Journals of the House until the record of its proceedings has been distributed?
§ MR. SPEAKER
In my view, the unusual circumstance of an entry in the Journals of the House having been made that a Bill was read nemine contradicente justified the interference of an hon. Member at this stage. If, therefore, any hon. Member wishes to propose a Motion on the subject, I consider that, under the special circumstances of the case, he might be allowed to do so.
§ SIR STAFFORD NORTHCOTE
I wish to make such a Motion, because I think it is an entirely new practice to place on the Journals of the House the words nemine contradicente in the case of a Bill which has been a contentious one throughout, and as to which there obviously had been no agreement of opinion on the part of the whole House. The Prime Minister says it has been occasionally the practice to insert the words nemine contradicente, when the Bill was of such importance that it was desirable to have such a special record. Now, I would put it to you. Sir, whether there are any precedents later than the Bill of Rights in which those words have been added in regard to the third reading of a Bill which has been the subject of contention in the House? The cases in which it was usual for those words to be inserted were cases in which there was a unanimous feeling in the House, and when it was desirable to mark that unanimity—as, for example, in respect to Votes of Congratulation to the Royal Family, or of Condolence on the decease of distinguished persons. But if we were to introduce that new practice, it would not be confined to the Prime Minister; but any hon. Member might move, after a contentious Bill had been read a third time, that it should be recorded that it had been passed nemine contradicente, and confusion would arise. I would therefore now propose—That, the honourable Member for South Leicestershire having called attention to the fact that the Question, that the Representation of the People Bill he read the third time, was challenged by him, the entry in the Votes of the proceedings on the Third Reading of the Bill be corrected by omitting from the Votes the words 'Nemine Coutradicente.'Motion made, and Question proposed,That the honourable Member for South Leicestershire having called attention to the fact that the Question, that the Representation of the People Bill be read the third time, was challenged by him, the entry in the Votes of the proceedings on the Third Reading of the Bill be corrected by omitting from the Votes the words 'Nemine Contradicente.'"—(Sir Stafford Northcote.)
§ MR. SPEAKER
In answer to the Question of the right hon. Gentleman, I have to say that I believe it is a fact that Bills which have been opposed during part of their progress through this House, on passing their final stage without opposition, have the words nemine contradicente appended to the 1573 entry relating to them. I believe the fact to be that the term nemine contradicente applies not to what has passed on every stage during the progress of the Bill, but to the final stage. A Bill might be opposed at one stage, or at another stage; but if on reaching the final stage it passes without opposition, the words nemine contradicente are appended. I stated before that I was not aware I was bound by any precedent or Order of this House to decline to have entered in the Minutes the words I have referred to under the circumstances in, which the Bill passed its final stage.
§ MR. HEALY
I rise to Order. I wish to submit to you, Sir, whether, if the Amendment of the hon. Gentleman is allowed, it should not be brought forward as a separate Motion? You have now put the Question from the Chair, and no one has any power to amend the Motion. Mr. Speaker cannot amend any Motion in his hands. Therefore, I submit that if this Amendment is put, it should be made the subject of a separate Division.
§ MR. SPEAKER
I understand that it is simply proposed to move an Amendment to the Motion, and the hon. Member in doing that is perfectly in Order. He proposes to move, after the words "by him," the insertion of the words, "and by another hon. Member."
§ Amendment proposed, to insert after the word "him," the words "and by another Member."—(Mr. Pell.)
§ Question proposed, "That those words be there inserted."
I hope that the hon. Member for South Leicestershire (Mr. Pell) will not press his Amendment. A single "No" is as good as 100 for this purpose. Moreover, I do not think it would be regular for the hon. Member to appear as sponsor for another Member.
§ MR. SPEAKER
The Question is that the words "and by another Member" be here added to the Amendment.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Original Question again proposed.
§ DR. LYONS
I rise to move an Amendment to this Motion. This is a very important matter as affecting our procedure, and a matter that may involve us in very great difficulty in the future, unless we proceed with care. Therefore I rise for the purpose of moving that a small Select Committee be appointed for the purpose of inquiring into the facts of the case, with instructions from the House to search the Journals and consider all precedents believed to be applicable. I happen to be tolerably familiar, owing to researches I have made, with the history of the action of this House; and I can state what is, perhaps, known to many Members, that the addition of the words nemine contradicente is a thing constantly taking place. It is repeatedly to be found in the Journals of the House. There are, no doubt, restrictions to the use of this phrase; but I believe myself that this was one of the occasions when it was proper for the addition to be made. It is clear that although the hon. Member for South Leicestershire (Mr. Pell) may have challenged the final stage when the Question was first put, he did not challenge it when the Question was put the second time, when Mr. Speaker said—"The Ayes have it," or at any rate that if he did, he did not do it in an efficient manner. It is on the Question being put the I second time that the vote is taken, if there is a Division, and the record entered upon the Minutes is the record of the decision of the House on that last formal Question as it reaches your ear. It is the duty of any hon. Member who differs from the general sense of the House, if he wishes such difference to be recorded, to take care that his dissent reaches your ear. I would put this point to the House, whether the real and proper object which the hon. Member has in view is not fully met by the fact that he has raised this discussion to-day, because the Motion put will appear on the records of the House, and from them it will be seen that the Bill was not passed unanimously. If the hon. Member wishes to occupy the unenviable position—a position which probably some day he might find reason to regret—of being one of the few persons who opposed this Bill when the House was practically unanimous, let him occupy that position, Had he sub- 1575 mitted to the example of the right hon. Baronet the Member for North Devon (Sir Stafford Northcote), who delivered himself at the end of the proceedings, who kept his position resolutely and firmly, and left the House before the Bill passed, I could have had some sympathy with him; but the man who challenges a Division ostentatiously when the Question is first put, and does not challenge on the second formal occasion, cannot be considered a very strong partizan. It is evident that the action of the hon. Member (Mr. Pell) does not emanate from Ms desire to record his vote, but is the result of a mere after-thought, and is an attempt on the part of the right hon. Baronet opposite to secure some public recognition of the fact that the House was not unanimous. The right hon. Baronet fears that what happened yesterday would otherwise be very conspicuous and remarkable—that is to say, the abstention of the Opposition from taking a Division against the third reading of the Bill. Everyone had an intimation that the debate was to close last evening, so that nobody could complain of surprise; and if hon. Members opposite had wished to enter any protest against the decision about to be taken, it was their business to be present to record their votes. But they knew perfectly well that it was desirable that in the future they should be free from the charge of having voted against the Bill. I have no hesitation in saying that this is really a Party afterthought; an action taken with the view of recovering the position lost last night through the Opposition not being present to stand to their guns when the last fight on the Bill was to take place. I do not intend, so far as my vote goes, to support the Opposition in that side-wind of credit which they seem desirous of obtaining, looking at the enormous danger that would be threatening this House if decisions from the Chair formally given, and not challenged a second time, or, at any rate, if challenged, only challenged in a half-hearted manner, were allowed to be altered on the following day upon the whim of such a Member. I repeat that this is a Party move, the result of a second consideration, an after-thought, with a view of affecting "another place," to enable that "other place" to say, as they could now only say in a very formal manner, that this House was not unanimous. If the Op- 1576 position had desired to challenge the vote in a very distinct manner, it was their business to be in their places, and to take care that their challenge was recorded.
§ MR. T. D. SULLIVAN
Sir, I have heard a great deal from time to time of what I may call the high crime and misdemeanour of wasting the time of this House. I should like to ask if any hon. Member present ever witnessed a finer specimen of that performance than that to which the House has just been treated. What happened last night, Sir? Why, the Members of the Conservative Party, almost to a man, quitted this House when the Question for the third reading of the Representation of the People Bill was about to be put; and, therefore, their plain intention was to let the third reading pass nemine contradicente. I said they left the House almost to a man. I think, however, that two Gentlemen remained; and one of those Gentlemen, or both, challenged the Division in somewhat of a feeble voice—in a voice that was inaudible to a great many in this House, and to Mr. Speaker in the Chair. Well, the Members of the Conservative Party this morning find that a solitary Member, or two Members of their body, who remained, did in some feeble manner challenge the third reading; so they came down here, as we may say, in their thousands to-day, to raise a discussion and waste the time of this Assembly with a paltry question as to whether your decision, Sir, was challenged or not. Is that a policy which befits the great Conservative Party? Certainly, I had thought that they had intended to try out this question of the Representation of the People Bill on broader grounds than this. I thought the whole country was to be convulsed with the question that was to be raised upon it— 1577 that the whole Conservative Party were to be called to support the resistance to this grave infraction of the liberties of the English people—for so it has been described. But, instead of trying the question out on this ground, they came down with this twopenny-halfpenny Motion, wasting the time of the House, and peddling in the most paltry way. The House, no doubt, desires that this matter should now entirely drop, and that we should proceed to the consideration of the Business on the Paper.
§ MR. WILLIAM REDMOND
I think there is one conclusion which can be arrived at from the discussion that has taken place this afternoon—namely, that the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, and many hon. Gentlemen sitting on the same side of the House, have deliberately entered into a conspiracy with those Gentlemen who do not approve of Sunday closing in Ireland. I do not think I ever, in the whole course of my life, witnessed anything so despicable as the course adopted by the hon. Member for Dublin (Dr. Lyons) in getting up and talking for a great length of time on a matter which could not have interested him in the slightest degree, merely for the purpose of obstructing useful legislation. I am opposed to the Bill that will come on this afternoon for Sunday closing in Ireland; but still, I do not think it is at all in accordance with the spirit of fair politics that Gentlemen of experience should stand up in this House and place themselves in the very despicable position of obstructing, and deliberately obstructing, useful legislation, by speaking upon matters of no importance. I trust nobody in this House will continue this discussion. If they do we can only believe that their object is the obstruction of useful legislation.
§ MR. KENNY
I only wish to make one reference to the Motion of the right hon. Baronet the Leader of the Opposition. I understand that it is said that the Motion last night was challenged. Well, Sir, I was in the House at the time when you put the Question, and I recollect that the hon. Gentleman the Member for South Leicestershire (Mr. Pell) and the hon. Gentleman the Member for West Norfolk (Mr. Clare Read) both said "No." But when you gave your final decision, and when the time came for challenging that decision, these 1578 Gentlemen sank into silence and said nothing. It would be absurd, I think, for any hon. Gentleman to support a Motion like this, brought before us for the purpose of setting out a false principle.
§ MR. MACLIVER
I object to this Motion, Mr. Speaker, because it contradicts the facts of the case, and because it is a revision of your decision as Speaker. Instead of omitting the words which the right hon. Baronet opposite has proposed to omit, I think the House ought to retain the words, and add these —"On the following day, June 27th, this fact was objected to by the hon. Member for South Leicestershire (Mr. Pell), who said that he and another hon. Member challenged the vote, though they had not been heard by Mr Speaker." I think that would put the matter in chronological order, and would satisfy all parties.
§ MR. RAMSAY
I feel in some difficulty in agreeing to this Motion—difficulty arising from this fact. I understand you, Sir, to say, that the proposal made by the Prime Minister that the words nemine contradicente should be placed on record should be assented to by the House, and recorded by you on the Journals in accordance with the terms of the Motion of the Prime Minister. Now, I think it would be a strong measure, and one which I think hon. Gentlemen opposite would shrink from taking, to alter the Votes of this House on a question as to whether some hon. Gentlemen had cried "No" when you put the Question. Two hon. Gentlemen cried "No!" as they say; but as they did not challenge your decision on the second occasion, as they were silent, I fail to see on what ground it is that this House is asked to strike out from the Journals the words nemine contradicente, which were formally assented to as a distinct Motion in themselves. As I understand it, the Motion did not imply that there had been no previous opposition. Our Journals sufficiently show that a great body of Members were opposed to the Representation of the People Bill. Why we should strike out the words nemine contradicente I do not know, and I cannot but regret that so much time should have been wasted upon a question of the propriety of altering the Journals in respect of a Motion formally carried in the usual way.
§ MR. MONTAGU SCOTT
With all submission to the hon. Member, I think the real question is this—is the entry true as a matter of fact? Was there any dissension in the House? Mr. Speaker puts the Question in this "way —"As many as are of that opinion will say 'Aye,' the contrary 'No;'" and then he may say—"I think the 'Ayes' have it." He puts that to be challenged when he thinks the Ayes are in a majority. If he thinks the "Noes" are in a majority, he says—"I think the 'Noes' have it." If there are dissentients, Mr. Speaker's decision is challenged. It was challenged yesterday, and the voices of the hon. Members who challenged it were heard by hon. Members on the other side as well as on this side of the House, though the voices may not have reached Mr. Speaker. It is allowed that those hon. Members did dissent. Then, if that is so, how can you put nemine contradicente on the Votes? How can you put that down when you heard the challenge yourselves? The question, I say, is—was there any Member dissenting, any Member contradicting the statement "The 'Ayes' have it"? The hon. Member for South Leicestershire (Mr. Pell) was heard to do so by Members behind him and Members opposite to him; and I am surprised and astounded that now, when it is pointed out to hon. Members opposite that these words were entered on the Journals of the House through a mistaken interpretation, they should get up and say—"We will insist on keeping this false statement on the Journals."
§ MR. HEALY
I think it must now be evident to the right hon. Baronet the Member for North Devon (Sir Stafford Northcote) that he has made the greatest mistake of his whole life. He finds himself made the instrument of the Party with which, apparently, he does not wish to seem to have the smallest connection. I warned him of that; I advised him to let the discussion proceed without trying to put the Motion, because, as I pointed out, it would be irrevocable. However, he persisted, and the Motion is now the sport of the House. He cannot withdraw from it, for if he did he, too, would be the laughing-stock of the House. I do not charge him with belonging to it; but we know that the Tory Party have been charged with being, to a large extent, the pub- 1580 lican Party of the country. Is it consistent with the right hon. Baronet's position that he should lay himself open to the taunt that on a question of great Constitutional importance, on a question involving a most important principle and an action which has not been taken for centuries—ever since the Bill of Rights—he makes a Motion merely to assist the cause of the publicans? I do not charge him with doing this; but we know how unscrupulous the Radical Party are. He has made that Motion, and now, above him and behind him, he sees his young barbarians here at play, and he is unable to do anything to restrain their gambolings. Looking at the unfortunate and ridiculous position of the Leader of the Opposition, I must say he would have acted wisely if he had taken the advice of even so young and inexperienced a Member as I am. He made the Motion, however, and now he cannot help its being dragged in for other purposes. Thus we have the right hon. Baronet the Leader of the Opposition exposed to a series of taunts, and placed in such a false position that I do not think anyone occupying his power and influence was ever placed in before.
§ MR. BIGGAR
I am very sorry on this occasion to be obliged to differ from a great many of my hon. Colleagues. Something has struck me as being very peculiar in this discussion; the sight of the hon. Member for Westmeath (Mr. Kenny), and the hon. Member for Wexford County (Mr. W. Redmond) objecting to hon. Members wasting the time of the House through antagonism to the Irish Sunday Closing Bill, and yet themselves occupying time by making speeches. I am of opinion that it is of the greatest importance that the Journals of the House should accurately state the facts of the case. It must be manifest to all present that, in point of fact, from some cause or other—I do not pretend to say what—the Journals of the House do not correctly state the facts as they really are. I think that, for that reason, it is very desirable that the Motion should be carried. I blame the Prime Minister very much for what he has done. No doubt he believed he was doing a very sharp thing last night when he asked us to put these words on the Paper. He did it in the absence of a large proportion of the Members of the Opposition, and he spoke in a foreign language. If 1581 the right hon. Gentleman had spoken in English I could have formed some idea of what he meant. I had considerable difficulty in knowing what he intended to convey. I may say for my Irish Colleagues that it is of the greatest importance that this precedent should be set, and that the Journals, being wrong, should be corrected. There have been cases in which we, the Irish Members, have disputed the Records, and in which a majority of the House has decided in a manner contrary to the real facts of the case. If we are able to get the House to decide in strict accordance with the facts, it is probable that at no remote time we may have an opportunity of getting statements that appear on the Records changed in such a way that they will actually do justice to our Party.
§ MR. SPEAKER
Before I put the Question I wish to correct a misconception which seems to prevail in the minds of some hon. Members. The term "the decision of the Speaker" has been used more than once. I wish to point out that it was not "the decision of the Speaker," but the decision of the House. The decision "That the words nemine contradicente appear on the Journals of the House" was no decision of mine. The Question practically was "Is it your pleasure that these words appear on the Journals?" and a single dissentient voice would have prevented them being added.
§ Question put.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 82; Noes 125: Majority 43.1583
|Barttelot, Sir W. B.||Eckersley, N.|
|Beach, right hon. Sir M. E. Hicks-||Egerton, hon. A. F.|
|Elton, C. I.|
|Beresford, G. De la P.||Estcourt, G. S.|
|Biggar, J. G.||Ewart, W.|
|Blackburne, Col. J. I.||Ewing, A. O.|
|Broadley, W. H. H.||Floyer, J.|
|Brodrick, hon. W. St. J. F.||Folkestone, Viscount|
|Fremantle, hon. T. F.|
|Bruce, Sir H. H.||Gibson, right hon. E.|
|Campbell, J. A.||Gladstone, rt. hn. W.E.|
|Cecil, Lord E. H. B. G.||Greene, E.|
|Cotes, C. C.||Gregory, G. B.|
|Courtney, L. H.||Grosvenor, right hon. Lord R.|
|Cross, rt. hon. Sir R. A.||Hamilton, right hon. Lord G.|
|Curzon, Major hon. M.|
|Dalrymple, C.||Hamilton, I. T.|
|De Worms, Baron H.||Harris, W. J.|
|Digby, Colonel hon. E.||Hay, rt. hon. Admiral Sir J. C. D.|
|Dodson, rt. hon. J. G.|
|Donaldson-Hudson, C.||Herbert, hon. S.|
|Douglas, A. Akers-||Hill, Lord A. W.|
|Ebrington, Viscount||Hill, A. S.|
|Holland, Sir H. T.||Northcote, rt. hon. Sir S. H.|
|Home, Lt.-Col. D. M.|
|Jerningham, H. E. H.||Otway, Sir A. J.|
|Kennaway, Sir J. H.||Paget, R. H.|
|King-Harman, Colonel E. R.||Patrick, R. W. Cochran-|
|Knight, F. W.||Pell, A.|
|Leatham, W. H.||Phipps, P.|
|Leighton, S.||Plunket, rt. hon. D. R.|
|Lennox, rt. hon. Lord H. G. C. G.||Repton, G. W.|
|Ritchie, C. T.|
|Lewisham, Viscount||Ross, A. H.|
|Long, W. H.||Round, J.|
|Lowther, J. W.||Sclater-Booth, rt. hn. G.|
|Mac Iver, D.||Scott, M. D.|
|Mackintosh, C. F.||Smith, rt. hon. W. H.|
|Makins, Colonel W. T.||Tomlinson, W. E. M.|
|Wallace, Sir R.|
|March, Earl of||Warton, C. N.|
|Marriott, W. T,||Whitley, E.|
|Master, T. W. C.|
|Muntz, P. H.||Thornhill, T.|
|Nicholson, W. N.||Winn, R.|
|Allen, H. G.||Fry, T.|
|Allman, R. L.||Gabbett, D. F.|
|Anderson, G.||Gladstone, H. J.|
|Armitstead, G.||Gordon, Sir A.|
|Arnold, A.||Gourley, E. T.|
|Balfour, Sir G.||Grafton, F. W.|
|Barclay, J. W.||Grant, A.|
|Barnes, A.||Harrington, T.|
|Barran, J.||Hayter, Sir A. D.|
|Baxter, rt. hon. W. E.||Healy, T. M.|
|Blake, J. A.||Hill, T. R.|
|Bolton, J. C.||Holden, I.|
|Borlase, W. C.||Hollond, J. R.|
|Brassey, Sir T.||Jenkins, Sir J. J.|
|Bright, J.||Kenny, M. J.|
|Broadhurst, H.||Kinnear, J.|
|Bryce, J.||Lawson, Sir W.|
|Buchanan, T. R.||Leahy, J.|
|Buszard, M. C.||Leamy, E.|
|Buxton, F. W.||Leatham, E. A.|
|Caine, W. S.||Lusk, Sir A.|
|Cameron, C.||Lyons, R. D.|
|Campbell, R. F. F.||Macfarlane, D. H.|
|Campbell-Bannerman, H.||Macliver, P. S.|
|Cartwright, W. C.||M'Carthy, J. H.|
|Causton, R. K.||M'Clure, Sir T.|
|Clark, S.||M'Lagan, P.|
|Collings, J.||Mappin, F. T.|
|Collins, E.||Maskelyne, M. H. N. Story-|
|Cropper, J.||Meldon, C. H.|
|Cross, J. K.||Molloy, B. C.|
|Davies, R.||Monk, C. J.|
|Davies, W.||Moore, A.|
|Deasy, J.||Morley, A.|
|Dickson, T. A.||O'Brien, W.|
|Dodds, J.||O'Connor, T. P.|
|Fairbairn, Sir A,||Palmer, C. M.|
|Farquharson, Dr. R.||Palmer, G.|
|Ferguson, R.||Parker, C. S.|
|Findlater, W.||Parnell, C. S.|
|Foljambe, C. G. S.||Pease, Sir J. W.|
|Forster, Sir C.||Pease, A.|
|Forster, rt. ton. W. E.||Peddie, J. D.|
|Fry, L.||Pennington, F,|
|Picton, J. A.||Spencer, hon. C. R.|
|Playfair, rt. hn. Sir L.||Stafford, Marquess of|
|Potter, T. B.||Stevenson, J. C.|
|Powell, W. R. H.||Stewart, J.|
|Power, J. O'C.||Stuart, H. V.|
|Price, Sir R. G.||Sullivan, T. D.|
|Pugh, L. P.||Thompson, T. C.|
|Ralli, P.||Vivian, Sir H. H.|
|Ramsay, J.||Vivian, A. P.|
|Eedmond, W. H. K.||Waugh, E.|
|Richard, H.||Webster, J.|
|Roe, T.||Williamson, S.|
|Ruston, J.||Wills, W. H.|
|St. Aubyn, Sir J.||Wilson, Sir H.|
|Sellar, A. C.||Wilson, C. H.|
|Simon, Serjeant J.||TELLERS.|
|Small, J. F.||Dillwyn, L. L.|
|Smith, S.||Noel, E.|
|Smyth, P. J.|
§ MR. HEALY
Mr. Speaker, there is one question I wish to ask with reference to this subject. It has hitherto been usual, especially in the case of great Bills, to put, after the third reading, the Question "That the Bill do now pass." Such a Question was put by the late Speaker in the case of the Irish Coercion Bill; and I wish to ask whether, if a case of this kind occurs in the future much contention would not be saved if the Motion "That the Bill do now pass" were put from the Chair?
§ MR. SPEAKER
The putting of the Question, after the third reading, "That the Bill do now pass," has of late years fallen into desuetude, and has become, practically, obsolete. I do not think that it is the pleasure of the House that the putting of such a Question should be revived.
§ MR. HEALY
It is not three years ago that Mr. Brand, the late Speaker, put such a Question in the case of the Irish Coercion Bill.