Eastbourne Memories - A Victorian Perspective

An Account of, notable events, Persons and town history - online book

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Chap. VIL] " House of Commons."                          95
History and the details of English Parliamentary life. Hence it came about that its discontinuance was regretted by many, and ere long its revival was not only suggested but carried out. This took place in 1895, the first meeting being on October 17. The state of parties was as follows: Liberals 67 ; Conservatives 60; Independents 42; so the Liberals took office. During the winter of 1895-6 there were 23 weekly sittings, at which debates on the former lines were carried out very successfully. On January 21 a very well-sustained debate on Church Disestablishment was brought to a close. The Session ended, as usual, with a sessional dinner held at the Queen's Hotel on April 22, 1896. This was a noteworthy gathering, because it was attended by persons of eminent station whose presence helped to support the idea that such institutions as Local Parliaments had passed beyond the stage of being treated with ridicule and contempt. Admiral Field, the M.P. for the Division, Sir William and Lady Charley, the Mayor (Alderman Skinner), Mr. Mayhewe, the Chairman of the Bench of Magistrates, and other local people of influence and position were present. Not the least useful item in the evening's proceedings wras a letter from Lord Cranborne (now Marquis of Salisbury), expressing the opinion that " such Societies are a testimony to the regard with which Parliamentary institutions are still held by our countrymen." Lord and Lady Cranborne had been staying at East-Bourne, and that was why they had been asked to the dinner; but they had been obliged to leave the town owing to the Easter Parliamentary recess having come to an end. The resuscitation of the House of Commons had been mainly brought about by the efforts of Mr. E. Elliott, whose services were recognised on the occasion by the presentation to him of a silver celery bowl. I had again performed during the Session the duties of Speaker, and not the least important reason for the success of the Session was the fact that the meetings were held in the Town Hall. The Ladies' Gallery there was nearly always full, and frequently very crowded, and the sixpences received from those visitors formed an important
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