HC Deb 09 January 1812 vol 21 cc111-2
The Chancellor of the Exchequer

proceeded to propose the revival of the Resolution of last session, by which alternate precedence was given throughout the week to Orders and Notices; and for that purpose, moved, "That in this present session of parliament, all Orders of the day, set down in the Order book for Mondays and Fridays, shall be disposed of before the House will proceed upon any motions of which notices shall be entered in the order book."

Mr. Whitbread

allowed that a regulation like the present might afford some convenience to ministers, but contended that it injured freedom of discussion, and impeded members of parliament in the discharge of their duty. The Resolution of last session had been suggested by the inconvenience to public business, which the long inquiries of the two preceding sessions had occasioned. Those inconveniences, however, would probably not recur in the present session, and even if they did, they were not, in his opinion, so weighty as the evils attendant upon the regulation proposed by the right hon. gent. If, however, any regulation of that nature was to be adopted, at least it ought to be one of impartial justice. This had not been the case in the last session, for on days when, by the regulation, notices were to take precedence of orders, ministers had assumed the right of calling for particular orders, on the plea of expediting the public business. For his part, he was against all regulation of the kind; but if any were adopted, he would wish it to go further than that proposed by the right hon. gent.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

maintained, that the regulation in question could in no degree have the effect of injuring freedom of parliamentary discussion. It would still be in the power of any member to bring forward, in cases of emergency, motions without notice, although, in the ordinary course of affairs, it must certainly be deemed advisable, by giving notice of a motion, to prevent that surprise which would frequently other wise compel the House to rescind on Tuesday the business which it had done on Monday. All this would be left in the same state after the adoption of the regulation as before it.

Mr. Abercromby

concurred in the protest of his hon. friend, against the proposed regulation. He was far, however, from imputing this proposition of the right hon. gent. to any improper motives, He only imputed to him the error of exposing the, House to a real and permanent evil, in order to get rid of a supposed and temporary inconvenience.

Sir J. Newport moved as an amendment to the resolution, "That on the days upon which precedence was to be given to Orders, they should be brought forward in enact rotation as they stood on the paper in the order-book."

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

objected to this amendment, as a great innovation on the practice of parliament. If it were adopted, the natural consequence of it would be, that all the great business of the nation might be impeded by the second readings of contested private Bills. It was well known that the Committees of Supply and Ways and Means were fixed only the day but one before their occurrence; and should the right hon. baronet's Amendment be adopted, it was evident that all other business, however comparatively insignificant, that might have been fixed at an earlier period for the same days on which those important Committees were to take place, would have precedence of them.

Mr. Ponsonby

allowed that there was some weight in the objection of the right hon. gent. He admitted that there might be some inconvenience arising from the proposition of his hon. friend; but it was an inconvenience which grew out of the novel practice of the right hon. gent. himself. For his part he had never witnessed any attempt to break in upon the old established usages of parliament, that was not attended with great inconvenience, and he therefore advised the House to pause before it agreed to the motion of the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Lord Folkestone

supported the Amendment, and declared that he had never known an instance of a debate on a contested private Bill having been carried on beyond six o'clock in the evening.

The House then divided,

For the Amendment 15
Against it 58
Majority —43

The original Resolution was immediately agreed to.