January 26, 1892
Mr John Houlding declines to stand
A meeting of the divisional council of the Everton Conservative Association was held last evening, in the Conservative Club, Breck Road, to consider the selection of a candidate for the Everton parliamentary division.
Dr Flinn presided, and amongst those present was Dr Barr, Messrs. John Houlding, E. Catterall, and W.F. Taylor (representing the Constitutional Association) and F. Davies (secretary of the council), Birch, McGuire, Wilding, C. Deeoer, Wilkinson, Elliott, &c.
The representatives of the press, who were not admitted, were informed that –
Dr Flinn reported formally to the meeting that the executive committee of the division had chosen the names of Lord Claud Hamilton, Mr. D.T. Tuer, and Mr. John Houlding, as gentlemen who would be suitable candidates to fight the Everton Parliamentary Division in the interests of the Conservative party.
Those names were before the meeting. These gentlemen had not, however, yet been officially approached.
A long discussion took place, during which Mr Houlding left the room.
Mr Taylor explained the views of the Constitutional Association on the matter.
Mr John Houlding, having re-entered the room, said: – “Gentlemen, I see by the papers that at an executive meeting held last Friday evening you did me the honour of selecting mine as one of those names to bring before the Divisional Council to-night for final selection as your candidate for Parliament. I have thought the matter very seriously over since then, and although it would be crowning the edifice alter a laborious 25 years that I have worked for Everton, still I must also consider that I am not so young as I was. And when I see old friends dying around me it makes me seriously consider whose turn it will be next.
“My medical adviser tells me that with care I may live a number of years to be of use, and knowing as I do the long and wearying hours an M.P. had to spend in the House of Commons if he does his duty I think it would not be advisable for me to undertake that duty, and whilst again thanking you for the high honour you have conferred on me by selecting me as one of three to submit for your selection, I must, under the circumstances, object to my name going any further.
“I dare say some of you have thought I ought to have spoken sooner. Well, I consider that I had no right to tell one individual in preference to another, and think that this the place, and you are the men for me to make my statement to. As your chairman, I have also considered it my duty to be making all inquiries I could as to the most suitable man for so distinguished position.
“Mr Barkley Smith has been our representative in the Council for a long period – a very able man, and fit for any position. I pressed on him the advisability of allowing me to nominate him to your committee, but he gave me a most emphatic “No.”
“I remember also that the president of the Liverpool Conservative Working Men’s Association, the Earl of Latham, had a son, Lord Skelmersdale, and I have also heard his lordship say how often he regretted that he never had an opportunity of entering the arena of the House of Commons. I therefore go a friend to write to him saying that if his son would allow me I would be pleased to recommend him strongly to you, and this is the answer I received: -“
‘Please tell Mr Houlding how sensible I am of his kindness. I regret to say Lord Skelmersdale is not in a position to undertake parliamentary duties. There is a strong prejudice against officers in active sitting in Parliament, as it throws much extra work on their brother officers. I am sure that Lord Skelmersdale would wish me to thank Mr Houlding in his name.’
Seeing Mr Houlding had definitely refused to stand, the following resolution was passed: –
‘The members of the Everton Divisional Council express the most sincere regret at the step taken by Mr Houlding in refusing to become the Conservative candidate for Everton at the impending parliamentary election, and they trust that he may be long spared to discharge those onerous duties which he has hitherto so ably undertaken. And they hope that before long another opportunity will be afforded them of showing the high appreciation they had of his honourable character as a man and a politician.’
The meeting was then brought to a close without having settled upon any candidate. It is understood, however, that the Council will shortly be summoned again and take the matter further into their consideration.
(Liverpool Mercury: January 27, 1892)