§ Second Report of the Select Committee considered (according to order).
§ Moved to agree to the following paragraph, "The Committee, having had under consideration the relations of the Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod to the House of Lords, have adjourned the further consideration thereof to the first meeting of the Committee in the next session of Parliament."—(Lord Balfour of Burleigh.)
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.
§ * LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH
The second paragraph was the subject of some difference of opinion in the Committee, and I would appeal to the noble Duke behind me not to press it.
§ THE DUKE OF NORTHUMBERLAND
My Lords, the second paragraph to whch the noble Lord the Acting Chairman of Committees has referred is as follows—The Committee recommend, That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty begging respectfully to inform His Majesty in connection with the vacancy in the Office of Black Rod, that the relations of Black Rod to this House are under the consideration of the House.I am afraid I cannot accede to the request of the noble Lord the Acting Chairman of Committees not to move this, although I confess I feel very strongly that some explanation is due from me in the matter The fact is, when I went into the Committee-room yesterday knew very little about the subject-matter under discussion, but it seemed to be the wish of the majority of the Committee to adopt the paragraph which your Lordships have just agreed to. During the discussion I ventured to suggest that if that were done it would be 351 desirable that His Majesty should be informed that the House had deferred the consideration of certain topics in connection with the Office of Black Rod until next session. It seemed to me that that was but respectful to His Majesty. I acted, I confess, somewhat on the principle of doing as one would be done by. Had I been in His Majesty's place I should have wished to be informed of what was being done by this House in such a Matter. Many noble Lords appeared to agree with me, and when the preceding paragraph was adopted by the Committee they assisted me in drawing up the second paragraph, which was put from the Chair and carried. I certainly thought this recommendation would be moved with he rest of the Report by the Chairman of the Committee, but the noble Lord has felt himself unable to adopt that course. As I cannot run away from the Motion moved in Committee, I now move it in the House, and I hope your Lordships will take into consideration the circumstances in which I move it. I am entirely in your Lordships' hands. I do not wish to press the Resolution, but I think His Majesty should be informed that the House has deferred the consideration of the matter till next session.
§ Moved, to agree to the following paragraph: "The Committee recommend, That an humble Address be presented to His Majesty begging respectfully to inform His Majesty in connection with the vacancy in the Office of Black Rod, that the relations of Black Rod to this House are under the consideration of the House."—(The Duke of Northumberland.)
§ * LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH
My Lords, I think there may be some slight misunderstanding in this matter. The whole relation of Black Rod to the House has been under discussion at various times, and it is not so much as to the contents of the Motion that I venture to say anything, and most certainly not as to His Majesty being informed of any opinion which this House holds in regard to a matter which is entirely His Majesty's prerogative. But this particular form of Motion would, as I understand it, require a special and formal presentation by the Lords with White Staves, and a formal answer. There was this precedent set when 352 another matter was under discussion entirely in the King's prerogative—namely, on that occasion when the noble Earl the present Leader of the Opposition undertook to ask for an audience to explain to His Majesty, in a less formal way than the way indicated in the Motion now before your Lordships, the feeling which existed in the House on the matter. It seems to me that the wiser course in this case would be that some noble Lord, either the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack, the Lord Chamberlain, or myself, should undertake to seek an audience of His Majesty and explain in that way what the feeling of your Lordships on the matter is. I again ask the noble Duke, in the circumstances, to withdraw the particular paragraph under discussion, so that the communication may be made in the way I have suggested.
§ THE EARL OF ABERDEEN
I venture to think, after the statement which has been made by the noble Lord the Acting Chairman of Committees, that the object of the noble Duke has already been attained. His object is that His Majesty should be informed of what occurred yesterday, and the reason for the decision which was come to. Speaking as a member of that Committee, I can say that there was no idea whatever of interfering in the slightest degree with the prerogative of the Crown; but it was felt that if there were any matters to be considered with regard to the relations of this Office to the House, they should be considered after deliberation, and in order that there might be sufficient time for that, and for other reasons, it was thought desirable that the consideration of the subject should be postponed till the early part of the next session of Parliament.
§ THE DUKE OF NORTHUMBERLAND
I am entirely in the hands of the House. If the House considers that the course suggested would be the best one, I should be quite willing to agree to it, but I should like to have the matter more definitely stated than it has been by Lord Balfour. I think the Lord Chancellor, the Lord Chamberlain, or the Acting Chairman of Committees should personally undertake that such a communication will be made to His Majesty. I would suggest that one of them should undertake to 353 ask leave to approach His Majesty to make the communication.
§ THE MARQUESS OF RIPON
I think the suggestion of the noble Lord the Acting Chairman of Committees would be the best in the circumstances. I would therefore suggest that the Lord Chancellor should undertake to communicate the decision personally to His Majesty.
§ On Question, resolved in the negative, and the said paragraph disagreed to.