Eastbourne Memories - A Victorian Perspective

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94                   Old Memories of East-Bourne. [Chap. VII.
Easter, after which the Members had a Dinner on May 9, 1883, at the Queen's Hotel to wind up the Session.
The Session had proved a very stormy one. It coin­cided with the prolonged debates in the House of Commons concerning the Bradlaugh controversy. This was taken up in the East-Bourne House of Commons where Motions were made condemnatory of Bradlaugh's conduct and of the conduct of the Gladstone Government. The most important evening (April 5, 1883) was one of great excitement, and the division resulted as follows :— For the Bradlaugh Bill ... 102 Against ... ... ... 103
Majority...... 1
and the " Government" went out, and the Conservatives came in, led by Lieut. Pownall.
The next year's Sessional Dinner was held at the " New Hall" on April 30, 1884.
The next Session, that of the Winter of 1884-85, saw the end of the East-Bourne House of Commons for a time. Public attention was absorbed by the election of the first Mayor and Town Council, and, a little later still, more absorbed by a great controversy over an Improve­ment Bill which the new Corporation was endeavouring to carry through Parliament. But these events were only incidental to the career of the local House of Commons. The determining cause of its break-up was a violent and abusive attack by a vulgar Socialist Radical named Bancroft on the Conservative Leader, a certain Lieut. Pownall. The Leaders of the Liberal Party even could not curb this ruffian; and the Conservatives considered that it was their duty to abandon their work. I confess that, admitting the provocation to be very great, I doubted the wisdom of the course pursued by the Conservatives, though, as Speaker, and, therefore, pro hac vice not a Party man, I had no right and not much power to interfere. The House of Commons undoubtedly left a mark in many quarters in East-Bourne, and it was generally felt that it had performed useful service in creating a taste for the study of English
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