27 MAY 1905, Page 2

The House of Commons was convulsed by a scene of

violent passion on Monday. At question time Mr. Scares asked the Prime Minister whether, if the present Govern- ment were still in office at the time of the holding of the " automatic " Colonial Conference in 1906, it was their intention to authorise the British representatives to discuss the question of Preferential trading. Mr. Balfour in reply declared that it would be difficult for any Government to restrict the discussions at a Conference with the Colonies. Mr. Lough then asked whether Mr. Balfour was not bound by a pledge to do nothing during the present Parliament to advance the subject. To this Mr. Balfour replied "No, Sir." Thereupon Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman asked whether Mr. Balfour meant to imply that he was under no obligation to remain inactive in the matter of Colonial Preference except in the House, and that out of the House the Government were free to take any steps they chose. He also wanted to know whether they were to understand Mr. Balfour to say that he was not bound by anything he said on this subject at Edinburgh. To this Mr. Balfour replied that of course he was not bound to inaction outside the House.