§ The Speaker having quitted the chair, previous to the House going into a Committee of Ways and Means,
§ The Speaker
begged to inform the House, in point of order, that if a difference of opinion arose on the subject of who should be called to the chair, it could not be discussed in that incomplete state in which the House then was.
§ Mr. W. Smith
said, he did not know how else to conduct himself, a gentleman being about to take the chair without any question put to the House.
§ The Speaker
immediately returned to the chair, and said, that now was the time to propose who should he chairman of the Committee.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer
said it had been the uniform practice of the House, of late years, to have the office of Chairman of the Committees of Supply and of Ways and Means filled by one individual, who continued during the course of the session, and accordingly a salary was annexed to the performance of that duty. He believed there was not an instance to the contrary on the journals. He also contended, that when the House was about to resolve into a Committee of Supply, not into a Committee of Ways and Means, was the proper time for agitating who that chairman should be. This question had, however, he submitted, been already settled, when Mr. Lushington was, on a former day, called to the chair of the Committee of Supply. No change in such an appointment ever took place in the course of one session. If this House did not observe a uniform practice in this respect, it would become an every day discussion. He accordingly moved that Mr. Lushington be called to the chair.
§ Mr. W. Smith
said, if in what the right hon. gent. had stated to have happened, the convenience and dignity of the House had been as much attended to, as he had no doubt its rules had been consulted, the House would have heard nothing from him at present on the subject. The sole reason he had for objecting to the hon. gent. proposed was, that, however respectable in every other particular, he did not possess those qualifications to be looked for in a Chairman of the Committee of Supply, or of Ways and Means. Experience was the qualification principally required. The first chairman he recollected was Mr. Gilbert, a gentleman of great experience; the next was Mr. Hobart, an old member, and also a gentleman of great experience; the next was Mr. Hobhouse, whose recal to the chair would be attended with great advantage to the House; to him succeeded Mr. Alexander, who had held the same office in the parliament of Ireland; and 304 the last was the hon. gent. opposite (Mr. Wharton,) now promoted to what was esteemed a higher office and who, when in the Chair of the Committee, had acquitted himself with great propriety. He asked, what were the qualifications requisite for such a situation? They were not those of a debater. It was not quickness or fluency that was required; but such an experience arising from a number of years acquaintance with that House, as should enable a person to come to the Chair of the Committee, not to learn the business, but to practise what he had learned; so that he might be able to command attention, and to exercise becoming authority. The Speaker himself, he apprehended, was not taken at random from among the members of that House to fill the high station he had so many years honourably filled. He was not a child of the minister of the day; but was selected inconsequence of his having long applied himself to a knowledge of the business of parliament, which it was thought he might exercise to the advantage of the country, and that those expectations had not been disappointed, that House and the country could now hear witness. Did the hon. gent. proposed by ministers possess any of these advantages? Suppose a dispute on a point of order were to arise in the Committee of Ways and Means between two members of 20, 30, or 40 years standing, what authority would the decision of the hon. gent. carry along with it? He agreed that it was natural for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to propose for the situation one of his own friends; but, at the same time, he should consider who was fit for the office, rather than for whom the office was fit. He should have been disposed to call Mr. Hobhouse again to the chair; but there were reasons against it. He had resigned, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer did not consult him, net considering him as his political friend. Impartiality was to his mind necessary, if it could be had; and as, in a manner, the deputy of the Speaker, it would be desirable that some part of his impartiality should be extended to the Chair of the Committee. This, however, was not to be expected from gentlemen who uniformly voted with ministers; and in proposing his hon. friend he knew that he pointed out a man who would exercise the strictest impartiality to all parties. He concluded by proposing Mr. Davies Giddy.
§ Mr. Giddy
expressed his extreme sur- 305 prize at the proposition of his hon. friend, of which he had not received the most distant intimation. He assured the House that, in occasionally acting during the last session for his hon. friend, who then filled the Chair of the Committee, he had no view to the filling of that situation himself. He should feel aukward were he placed in that situation by gentlemen acting in hostility to ministers. He wished they would name some person else; and begged that he might be understood as no party to what was past.
thought it was not long experience, but a sort of technical knowledge which was required for the situation. He was satisfied the hon. gent. (Lushington) was fully qualified for it.
was sorry an hon. gent. (Mr. Hobhouse) could not be prevailed on to return to the Chair of the Committees. As the other hon. gent. also chose to decline it, he begged of his hon. friend not to press his amendment.
§ Mr. W. Smith,
after vindicating himself from the charge of attempting to take the House by surprize, agreed to withdraw the amendment, when the House resolved into the Committee, and Mr. Lushington was called to the chair.