We are publishing excerpts from the book ‘A Diary of Two Parliaments’ by Henry W Lucy, published in 1885. A popular book in our library, it covers the parliament of the Disraeli government during the years 1874-1880.
Catch-up with other posts in this series here, or search our library here.
The Disraeli Parliament 1874-1880
Mr Gladstone Criticises the Budget
Thursday 23rd April 1874
The appearance of the House of Commons at half-past four betokened a condition of high expectancy. Every seat in the body of the House was appropriated, and members overflowed into the galleries, a double row facing the Opposition benches indicating that the speaker looked for would rise from that side. The gallery over the clock was densely crowded, amongst the numerous peers present being Earl Granville. Both the front Opposition bench and the Treasury bench were filled, a notable addition to the occupants of the former being Gladstone, who has not of late been very constant in his attendance upon the debates.
As has been his custom this Session, he sat several seats below the one usually filled by the leader of the Opposition, having Bright on his right hand and Childers on his left. The questions disposed of, Raikes, the Chairman of Committees, brought up the Report of the Budget; whereupon Gladstone rose, and was greeted by loud and prolonged cheering from the Liberal benches.
He commenced by observing that he was not about to enter upon a course of hostile criticism, and this pledge was, throughout a speech extending over three-quarters of an hour, kept, not alone in the general scope of his remarks, but in the manner of making them. He was studiously courteous to “my right hon. friend” Stafford Northcote, and most gentle in the utterance even of the strongest of his criticisms upon the financial policy of a Conservative Government.
Stafford Northcote, who followed, observed that, after such a speech, he felt scarcely called upon for an answer; and forthwith proceeded at great length, and in somewhat wearisome detail, to reply.
Excerpt from A Diary of Two Parliaments by Henry W Lucy published in 1885
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