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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 48

Temple, June 15th, 1880

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The following "Extract," though strictly accurate, scarcely expresses—for no statement could fully express—the audacity with which the House of Commons, as a deliberative assembly, can be obstructed and defeated by a mere handful of its members, when it proposes to discuss a question of great public interest, on which an overwhelming majority of its members are known to have formed a decided opinion, by a flagrant abuse of that liberty of speech—hitherto the glory of the House, but now threatening to become its shame—which for five years past has defeated, and may for fifty years to come continue to defeat, the discussion and progress of a question which has been already seven times emphatically approved by the House. Driven from the field of argument, the opponents of the Deceased Wife's Sister Bill have taken refuge in the tactics of obstruction, and the friends of the measure are entitled to appeal, and do now appeal, even to its opponents, for that fairness and justice to which in the House of Commons the promoters of any measure are entitled, and which, if denied, is denied at the sacrifice of the character of that assembly in the midst of which every proposal is assumed to be subject to the chances of debate—not wilfully excluded altogether from discussion.

Thomas Chambers.