§ Mr. S. Rice moved the order of the day for the House to resolve itself into a Committee of the whole House on the above Bill.
Mr. S. Rice
pressed the Motion. He thought, in the first place, whatever inconvenience it might be to a counsel to attend at the Bar, that should not be held as a sufficient reason for stopping the progress of a public bill; and secondly, he thought the case was not one in which counsel should be heard at all, because there was only one petition opposed to the prayers of a great number. He farther contended, that when the whole Bar of England was open to a man's choice, he had only himself to blame if he were left in any difficulty by the absence of a single person. He, for one, would move, "that the Speaker leave the Chair."
§ Sir G. Hill
observed, it had been decided by the House, that counsel should be heard. The question then to be considered was, if the absence of Mr. Adam was sufficient to authorize a postponement.
Mr. S. Rice
remarked, that counsel might equally well be heard on the report, 55 or on the third reading. He thought that since this postponement would give the hon. Member a chance of checking the progress of the Bill for the entire Session, the House ought not to assent to it: for one he would not consent to the delay. He had certainly introduced the Bill, but, unlike the hon. Member, he was not personally interested in it.
§ Mr. W. Wynn
thought they should not postpone the consideration of a public measure upon the simple assertion that it would be inconvenient for a counsel to attend. The principle would be highly injurious, as there was no public bill which might not be stopped if such excuses were suffered to prevail.
Mr. Secretary Peel
said, he apprehended that the petition was not opposed to the principle, but to certain clauses of the Bill; and he thought his hon. friend was not liable to the slightest blame. He had, at a late hour that very evening, received a letter from the counsel, stating that his state of health was such that he could not attend. And what was he then to do? He could not get another at that time, although he might certainly have previously chosen from the whole Bar of England. He considered that the hon. member for Limerick had a right to call upon the House to proceed with the Bill after such a manner as would prevent the possibility of any obstacles being thrown in its way that might have the effect of checking its progress for the Session, and he accordingly believed it would be well if his hon. friend acquiesced in permitting the Bill to go through this stage, upon the understanding that counsel should be heard upon the report; so that if a sufficiently strong case against any of the clauses were made out, his hon. friend might have the opportunity of moving the recommitted of the Bill, and thus be placed in the same situation in which he now stood. He would therefore submit, that the Bill should now be suffered to go on, upon the understanding that counsel should be heard on Wednesday next, when the Report might be brought up.
Mr. S. Rice
observed, that the petition was against the principle; he did not, accordingly, see how the Bill could be recommitted. He, however, was willing to agree to the arrangement.