HC Deb 14 November 1826 vol 16 cc2-7

The members being returned from the House of Peers,

Mr. Sturges Bourne

rose and said, that it now devolved on the House to proceed to the discharge of a most important duty, namely the election of a member to fill in the ensuing parliament, one of the most honourable, and at the same time one of the most arduous offices, that could be conferred upon an individual in this country—that of Speaker of the House of Commons. Happily, the House had not, upon the present occasion, to encounter the difficulty of selecting from their body any untried member, who might inadequately discharge the duties of that high and arduous office. They possessed a member whom they had already elected to fill the office of their Speaker in three successive parliaments, and the experience of those successive parliaments had abundantly confirmed the wisdom of their choice. In order duly to estimate the value, and appreciate the advantages of possessing such a member, it was necessary only to reflect on the importance and on the difficulty of the functions which the Speaker of that House was called upon to discharge. It was not talents, however great, nor acquirements, however extensive, which might he derived from the best general education, that could qualify a person for the discharge of the duties of that high office. It required an accurate acquaintance with the details of parliamentary law, a minute knowledge of the usages of parliament, and of the general maxims and rules by which the proceedings of that House were governed, which could be acquired only by patient and laborious investigation, and possessed only by those who had made it the peculiar object of their research: the task of directing the deliberations of that House, and of expressing, on particular occasions, opinions which might give effect and consistency to the form of their proceedings, required, he need not say, no ordinary share of judgment and discrimination. In all these respects, the House required not to be reminded with what distinguished ability the high office of Speaker had been filled by his right hon. friend [hear, hear!]. Besides these more ostensible duties of the office, it was often necessary to repress the extravagancies of debate, and to allay the heats which occasionally arose amidst the ardour and vehemence of public discussion. It was necessary, also, on many occasions, to give advice, assistance, and information, to members of the House, in matters connected with its forms and proceedings; and he need not remind them of the readiness and the ability with which such advice and such information had been uniformly afforded by his right hon. friend. There were other subordinate qualifications, and other personal recommendations, which no man possessed in a I more eminent degree than the right hon. gentleman. Among these, he could not but advert with gratification to the uniform courtesy of his manners, and to his dignified hospitality. Nor were those personal, qualifications, which enabled his right hon. friend to support with such indefatigable zeal the labours of his office, of light moment, in estimating his claims to the honourable distinction which it conferred. Let it be recollected, that upon the un- wearied personal exertions of me speaker of the House of Commons depended the uninterrupted discharge of the most important public duties; and that the whole business of the state, however urgent, must be suspended, until his place should be supplied. He could not adduce a stronger instance to show the value of his right honourable friend's services, or the importance of those personal qualifications which had enabled him to discharge the duties of his office with such unremitled assiduity and zeal. He need not remind the House how anxiously his right hon. friend had at all times maintained their rights and privileges—how scrupulously he had enforced the forms and regulations of that House—on which those rights and privileges, and with them, the rights and privileges of the people, most essentially depended. Under such circumstances, he doubted not, that the motion which he should now make would be unanimously adopted; he doubted not that when his right hon. friend should be again placed in the Chair, he would discharge its duties with the zeal and ability he had ever displayed, and that the House would give to his authority an uniform and effective support. The recorded opinion of three successive parliaments had rendered it superfluous to bear further testimony to the distinguished merits of his right hon. friend; he should, therefore, without trespassing any longer on the time of the House conclude with moving, "That the right honourable Charles Manners Sutton do take the Chair of this House as Speaker."

Mr. Portman,

in rising to second the motion, said, he was sensible that the feeling of the House was so entirely with the right hon. gentleman who had just been proposed to fill the office of Speaker, that it was unnecessary for him to occupy much of the attention of the House, or to add any thing to the eulogium which had been so justly pronounced by the right hon. mover. He was aware, indeed, that it had been the usage both for the mover and seconder, on these occasions, to make some observations on the nature, and the important duties, of the office. It would ill become him, however, to address any observations of that kind to members who had long sat in that House; and members who had now, for the first time, taken their seats in it, must, as English gentlemen, be so well acquainted with the arduous nature of the office of Speaker, and with the qualifications requisite for its efficient discharge, that it would be equally unnecessary to address any observations on the subject to that portion of the House. He might, perhaps, be allowed to say, that it was an office which required not only great talents—not only strict integrity—not only the most perfect impartiality in the person called to discharge its functions—but that the House further expected to find in that person a temper not to be ruffled, a judgment not to be shaken, and a resolution to maintain, to the best of his abilities, the rights and privileges of the Commons of England, and to preserve order and dignity in their proceedings. In an assembly such as that which he now addressed, in which so much brilliant talent and splendid ability was to be found on all sides, it might, in any common time, or under any ordinary circumstances, be difficult to point out any one member more qualified than another to fill the Chair; and, under such circumstances, he should be the last man in the world who would presume to press his opinion upon the House on so important an occasion. He was now, however, able to congratulate the House on a selection which met with their unanimous concurrence; for the ringer of experience pointed out to them the right hon. gentleman, who had for many successive years filled the office, and who had shewn himself possessed of integrity, of impartiality, and of temper—of judgment to discern what was right, and of resolution to enforce his decisions. He felt that it would be presumptuous in him to occupy any longer the time of the House, and that he ought rather to apologise for having detained them so long from the gratification of adopting, as he was sure they would adopt with one voice of acclamation, the propotion, "that the right hon. Charles Manners Sutton should take the Chair of that House."

Mr. Manners Sutton

rose and said, that he felt his inability to express, as he ought, the thanks which he owed to his right hon. friend who proposed, and to his hon. friend, the member for Dorsetshire, who seconded, the motion; still less could he hope to be able to express the obligation and the gratitude which he owed to that House, for the cordial manner in which they had received it. To be elevated to that Chair, had been the first object of his ambition, and as long as his health and strength continued, it would continue to be that first object. He could assure the House, with the strictest truth, that it had been the greatest object of all his endeavours, while in that Chair, to justify their choice by faithfully discharging his duties to them and to the public. The reception which the motion of his right hon. friend had met with from the House, and the testimonies of their satisfaction—as far as his abilities could produce satisfaction—at the result of his exertions, were the best and proudest rewards of any services which he might have performed. His right hon. friend, and his hon. friend the member for Dorsetshire, had both remarked upon the difficulty and importance of the duties attached to the office, and both had given him credit, in the warmth of friendship, for personal qualifications, which he was conscious he did not possess. He relied not, however, upon his own strength, but upon the cordial support of that House; and as he might hope to carry with him the same good opinion and cordial co-operation — as he might look forward to a continuance of the same favour and indulgence, which had been so abundantly extended to him during three parliaments, he submitted himself, without hesitation, most respectfully to their judgment and decision.

The motion having been unanimously carried, amidst the cheers of the House, the right hon. gentleman was conducted to the Chair, by the mover and seconder, where, standing on the upper step,

The Speaker

said;—I beg most respectfully to express my acknowledgments to the House for this renewal of their countenance. They shall find me diligent, zealous, and impartial in the discharge of the duties which have devolved upon me. I have not the arrogance to presume, that, unassisted, I am equal to the task; but I implore of the House to correct me when I am wrong, to support me when I am right; and I pledge myself to make every exertion my powers can command to merit the renewal of that sanction and protection which, for three parliaments I have had the good fortune to obtain.

Mr. Wynn,

in rising to move the adjournment of the House, said, he could not forbear expressing his congratulations, both to his right hon. friend who had just taken the Chair, and to the House. He congratulated the right hon. gentleman on having received the highest reward which his services could obtain in the unanimous approbation of that House, and he congratulated the House on the choice they had made, since the arduous and laborious situation to which his right hon. friend had been elevated, was filled by a gentleman whose impartiality had never been questioned, even in the most stormy sessions, and whose patience, temper, and courtesy had been equally experienced and approved by all. This was a subject on which he could dilate with great pleasure to himself; but the topics suggested by it had been so ably touched upon by the mover and seconder, that he felt it unnecessary to occupy the time of the House by the expression of feelings in which he was sure every member of that House participated.

Sir Joseph Yorke

congratulated the House on the selection they had made, and would only express his hope, that every man who took office in the House, might enter upon it with as much integrity as the right hon. gentleman in the Chair.

The House then adjourned.