HC Deb 06 May 1824 vol 11 cc528-9

Mr. Lawley presented a petition for leave to present a petition to bring in a bill for the purpose of lighting the town of Birmingham with gas.

Mr. Bright

said, he was anxious to take that opportunity of expressing the strong sense he felt of the impropriety of violating the Standing Orders of the House. The session was drawing to a close, and yet, night after night, petitions were presented for private bills. Nothing could, in his opinion, be more improper than such a course of proceeding, and it was incumbent on the House to put a stop to it. If the practice were persevered in, he should not be surprised if, in a short time, even the ceremony of previously presenting a petition would be dispensed with. Notwithstanding the indifference with which their standing orders were suspended at present, they were watched by our ancestors with the utmost vigilance. He found in Mr. Justice Black-stone an authority in support of this opinion, and at the period of the Restoration, the same constitutional jealousy was observed. Lord Clarendon had strongly reprobated the practice, and pointed out the inconveniences which arose from it. These orders should never be dispensed with, except in cases of urgent necessity. He had intended to propose a resolution on the subject, and perhaps he should still do so.

Mr. Sumner

said, that next session he would propose a resolution, compelling those who applied to have the stand- ing orders dispensed with, to show unexceptionable grounds for so doing. The greatest inconvenience was felt by members in consequence; and he believed that, generally speaking, the fault might be traced to the attorneys of the parties.

Sir James Graham

urged the impropriety of violating the standing orders.

General Gascoyne

said, that if it was done in this instance, he could see no reason why a similar application should be resisted on any future occasion.

Mr. Alderman Heygate

said, that in this instance the suspension of the orders seemed to have been called for as a matter of course. There might be particular cases, in which such a step would be very proper, but this was not one of them.

Mr. Ellice

agreed as to the propriety of some new regulation, but could not see why this particular case should now be opposed.

Mr. Huskisson

wished the hon. member to withdraw his petition. He decidedly thought that the standing orders should be obeyed. Cases might arise in which strict enforcement of them might be exceedingly injudicious; for instance, in the case of a bridge being swept away, and there being an immediate necessity to build a new one. But this was far from being one of those urgent cases. A feeling seemed to prevail at present, that any scheme, however visionary, would receive encouragement; but the House should not lend its assistance, towards advancing the fanciful projects of any corporation, or any individuals.

Mr. Bright

said, he would read the resolution which he had intended to propose. It was to this effect:—"That a more strict attention to the Standing Orders of the House with respect to private bills is essentially necessary to the security of the rights and properties of the subject, and that the House will not dispense with them except in cases of accidental occasion, or real necessity."

The petition was then withdrawn.