The Conservative (Nebraska City, Neb.) 1898-1902, July 18, 1901, Page 5, Image 5

Below is the OCR text representation for this newspapers page. It is also available as plain text as well as XML.

    ' _ >
13be Conservative *
the visitor usually asserts that ho has
como to look for some member , whoso
name ho gives , and ho is allowed to en
ter. No dynamite scare has arisen for a
number of years ; and oven when the
whole country is fancying that some
kind of outrage is about to occur , the
private-secretaries of members of par
liament could hardly bo excluded upon
the ground that they might be in league
with the Irish "physical force brother
hood. " Excluded from the sacred
members' lobby , however , they are , un
less their chiefs ore ministers of the
crown , and the usually accepted reason
is that the line must be drawn , some
where. If the public were admitted in
discriminately , the unfortunate member
would especially if he represented a
London constituency be worried almost
to death by his supporters who would
come to him upon every conceivable
mission. There would not even be
1 standing room in the small members'
lobby , and a cabinet ministers' life
would be a greater burden to him than
any man can bear. These facts explain
why the whole house supports the ser-
geant-at-arms in the strict manner in
which he keeps the lobby clear of
"strangers. "
Object of the the Lobby.
What , it may be asked by those wheY
Y are ignorant of English party politics
and who cannot make out how "things
11 * get into the newspapers" what is the
use and object of this lobby which it is
such a privilege for anybody , except a
chosen few , to enter ? ' Well , the lobby
has its various uses and usages. It can
still boost of a neat little bar a bar
where good alcoholic liquors can be ob
tained at a very moderate price , to
gether with various edibles , such as
hard-boiled eggs and sandwiches. At
this bar , it is but fair to say , there has
never been much treating , nor much
prolonged drinking. Occasionally a
wearied legislator would in the inter
vals of debate , or after making a speech ,
rush out , eat a few mouthfuls of food ,
and drink perhaps a small brandy and
soda a favorite English beverage. Mr.
Balfour , now first lord of the treasury ,
„ 4 was , a few years ago , almost a daily
visitor at the bar. When secretary for
Ireland , he would glide out of the
chamber after the storm and stress of
question-time , and would restore the
inner man with a gloss of wine and a
biscuit what we call a ' "cracker" or
with a cup of the black tea , so popular
iu the British Isles. In these few mo
ments he always had a kind word for
any member who might wish for a
brief chat with him. Few British leg
islators are total-abstainers and , curiously -
ously enough , the bar seemed to bo-in
special requisition during debates upon
the. ill-fated compensation clauses in
Mr. Gosohen's bill of ten years ago.
This measure proposed to compensate
saloon-keepers whoso licenses were taken
away by a reduction of the number of
drinking-places in a city. The weather
was sultry at the time and the debate
was often fiery. A great deal is chang
ed now. The lobby bar , with its dry
sherry , its rice puddings cold , of course ,
and its biscuits is being swept away.
The house determined , after full con
sideration , to relegate it to a more sec
luded spot within the walls of the Pal
ace of Westminister.
House of Commons' Lobby.
The house of commons lobby is a kind
of recreation ground where members of
parliament may take a little moderate
exercise. The air there is perhaps
purer and fresher in hot summer weath
er than it is in the chamber itself , and
there is room to walk up and down.
On days when an important division
is expected the government whips spend
most of their time in this lobby ; and
some members , notably Mr. Broadhurst
and Mr. Burt , clearly affect its tesselat-
ed pavement for ambulatory purposes.
Although the terrace overlooking the
river Thames is better adapted for hy
gienic pursuits , it has lately become un
popular owing to the supposed preva
lence of the much dreaded "grip" mi
crobe upon the bank's of'London's river.
Moreover , the lobby seems to possess a
sort of pacifying and softening influ
ence. Partisans , who in the chamber
itself seem to be on the most strained
terms , and who often hurl defiance at
one another across the narrow space
which separates the two hostile armies ,
meet in the lobby and enter into amica
ble conversation. It is here that the
" " asccosts the
"dyed-in-the-wool" tory
"little Euglander" and most likely
greets him with a friendly smile. Men
seem glad to lay aside the ground of
partisanship in the lobby , as well as in
the eating and smoking rooms of the
house. One may see such political op
ponents as Mr.Lobouohere and Sir John
Gorst in affable conversation ; while
that violent Irishman , when in the
chamber , Mr. Tini Healy , talks pleas
antly to a conservative , Mr. Walter
Long. It is almost certain , however ,
that the Hibernian representative will
in his next platform speech describe the
action of Her Majesty's government as
detestable , and the editor of "Truth"
( Mr. Labouohere ) is not unlikely to
compare Mr. Chamberlain to Judas
Iscariot with an apology to the latter
for the comparison !
Land of Gossip.
The lobby , needless to relate , is the
land of much parliamentary gossip.
What course the government or the
leaders -of the opposition are going to
take with regard to various proposed
statutes is here discussed by the private
members with great zeal. The lines of
the next financial measure the chan
cellor of the exchequer's "budget" is
the term are foreshadowed by the po
litical prophets ; and the latest rumors
concerning a "cave" or revolt finds cur
rency here , if anywhere. A certain
amount of this gossip is well-founded ,
although the ministers invariably de
scribe it either as"totally nufouuded"or
"quite inaccurate. " But everybody
knows that this repudiation of what is
often the truth is due to the dislike ,
shared by all cabinets , of having their
programmes and policy forestalled. Few
ministers or members of the govern
ment , with the exception of the "whips , "
who are , of course , there to prevent
members escaping from divisions , are
habitue's of the lobby. They sometimes
pass through it , looking or trying to
look oppressed with national responsi
bilities , always walking fast , and usu
ally havinj ? an armful of books and
papers. They are occasionally called
out of the house to consult with some
member of the so-called upper chamber ,
the House of Lords ; but more frequently
they may be seen hurrying to and from
the chief whip's private room. There
is , however , very little opportunity to
stop a cabinet minister in the lobby and
ask him for an explanation of the min
isterial policy. Nor do the ex-ministers
affect the lobby to any extent. The
late Mr. Gladstone , for example , was
not visible there once in a year , while
Sir William Harcourt , Mr. John Morley -
ley , Mr. Bryce and Sir George Trevelyan
were hardly more frequent visitors. Of
the most unfamiliar figures in the ter
ritory of the house of commons , the
Premier , Lord Salisbury , takes' the first
place. Perhaps he got tired of its pre
cincts when , as Lord Robert Cecil , he
was a member of the elected assembly.
From 1890 to a year or two ago the most
constant attendants in the lobby were
Sir Richard Temple , whose remarkable
figure Punch so dearly loved to carica
ture ; and Mr. Whitebread , Sir Charles
Milner and Mr. Lowther , the last three
being conspicuous by their height.
Opportunity for Character Study.
A few hours in lobby-land when some
important party question is expected to
"como on" in the course of the evening
( the house does not meet 'till four in the
afternoon ) , will give an excellent idea of
the personal side of the lower branch of
Great Britain's legislature. It has in
spired the pen of many newspaper-men ;
for the lobby is sometimes far more in
teresting , and far fuller of life and ani
mation as well as of members than
the house itself , with its fast-emptying
benches , its bored occupants , and its
hesitating speakers who are merely kill
ing time , chiefly because they believe
that their constituents like to see portions
tions of their diatribes in the daily
The lobby may be seen to advantage
in the earlier hours of the parliamentary
day , especially at about five o'clock , im
mediately after the ministers have
passed through the ordeal of question-
time. The last question on the list hav
ing been disposed of , members leave the
chamber for a short breathing spaceand
the buzz of many voices sounds in the
ear. But the members' lobby is seen at
its very best at the conclusion of some
great party contest ; or when a pre
eminent debater , having resumed his
seat after a great speech , one of the
regular brigade of "bores" vainly
strives to obtain a hearing from a satia
ted and fast-emptying house.
Buffalo , N. Y. , July 5,1901 ,