HC Deb 02 February 1832 vol 9 cc1197-203

On the question being put that the House resolve itself into a Committee on the Reform Bill,

Lord Ebringlon

begged to ask if it was in the contemplation of the noble Lord the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to make any arrangements for the sitting of the House on Saturday? When he considered the slow progress of the Reform Bill, and when he considered the state of anxiety which prevailed both in and out of the House on the subject, it appeared to him necessary that arrangements should be made to expedite the Bill through the Committee. Trade and commerce had materially suffered, and they would continue to do so while the people were kept in a stale of suspense and anxiety. He, therefore, deemed it prudent to suggest to the noble Lord the propriety of resuming the sittings of the House on Saturdays so long as the Bill remained in Committee.

Lord Althorp

said, he had not hitherto contemplated, nor had he, at the present moment any intention of sitting on Saturdays. The reason that this additional day had been formerly imposed upon the House had its origin in the dilatory manner in which the Committee on the Reform Bill proceeded, and, he should add, unnecessarily delayed, during the last Session. No Committee had ever before been so procrastinated. The present Committee unquestionably got on slowly, but still its progress was sufficiently rapid, to obviate the necessity of sitting on Saturdays. if, however, after a short time, it was found that the Committee did not increase its pace, so that the question might be brought to a conclusion during the Session, he would undoubtedly suggest the propriety of sitting on Saturdays, until the measure passed the House. At all events, he did not intend that the House should sit on Saturday next.

Lord Stormont

wished to know if it was intended to take the Committee, on the Reform Bill on the Wednesdays, He believed that there was no objection enter- tained by the House to sit on that day, with the understanding, however, that it should be devoted to expediting the several other important measures waiting for consideration.

Mr. C. W. Wynn

agreed with the noble Lord in thinking there should be a certain day in the week set apart for the furthering through their various stages the several measures before the House, in some of which the country were as much interested as it could possibly be in this Reform Bill.

Mr. Alderman Waithman

thought the House should proceed from day to day throughout the week in the consideration of the Reform Bill. An opinion prevailed out of doors that exertions were made in several quarters to retard the progress of the measure, and it would be well if the House would unite, even at the expense of a little more personal fatigue and labour, to give a contradiction to this belief. But there were other and more paramount reasons why the Bill should be expedited. The trade and commerce of the country were in a state of uncertainty; and he firmly believed they would so remain until the question was finally settled. He thought that if hon. Members would talk less, but more to the purpose, the committee would soon be brought to a conclusion.

Lord Althorp

had already expressed his intention with respect to the sitting of the House on Wednesdays. It was proposed that that day should be devoted to other business before the House, and that the Reform Bill should only be considered on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. On last Wednesday, undoubtedly the Committee had been proceeded with, but that was only in consequence of the previous Monday being a dies non. While, on the, subject he thought he might as well state that he would move that the house should consider the Reform Bill on the ensuing Wednesday, as Tuesday next was to be devoted to another subject.

Mr. Croker

denied, in the most emphatic manner, that, exertions were made by one side of the House to retard the progress of the Bill. Perhaps he was wrong in offering himself as the champion of the one side of the House, but, as respected the party to which he belonged, he felt it his duty to say, that no delay whatever, calculated unnecessarily to impede the Reform Bill, had originated with them. He thought the hon. Alderman, who, by the bye, he did not recollect to have either seen or heard during any of the discussions either on the principle or details of the measure, ought to be more cautious in accusing the House without foundation. If any delay had been given, it was occasioned by the necessary postponement of some parts of the Bill by the originators of the measure themselves; and it therefore struck him as extremely impolitic in the hon. Alderman, supporting, as he did, his Majesty's Ministers, to allude to the topic of delay. The hon. Alderman had complained of the number of speeches made during the discussion in Committee. Now, he would beg to inform him, and if the hon. Alderman had attended in his place, he would have perceived, that any observations made by the Gentlemen on that (Mr. Croker's) side of the House were invariably incidental to the details of the Bill; and when any extraneous question was started, the supporters, and none but the supporters, of the measure were to blame. For instance, on the previous evening, a question was raised by an hon. Baronet—as great a favourer of the Bill as any in the House—which occasioned a very considerable discussion. He repeated, that any delay which had taken place originated with his Majesty's Ministers and their supporters: not that he meant to impute any blame to them on that account; on the contrary, they deserved great credit for their candour in postponing certain clauses until the House was put in possession of requisite information. For his part he could not accuse himself of causing unnecessary delay; he had occasionally found it requisite to trouble the House with observations, but he had done so solely with a view to render the details of the measure as little objectionable as possible; and he begged to say, he would continue to offer such observations as he might deem necessary, notwithstanding any comments which might be made either by the hon. Alderman or his constituents on the other side of Temple-bar, to whom he did not give the credit of knowing much on the subject.

Mr. Alderman Waithman

said, he had not alluded to either side of the House in particular. He had merely stated an opinion which he knew to exist in several parts of the country. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to quarrel with him for addressing the House at all; but he begged to observe, that, as a Representative of the City of London, he conceived he possessed quite as much right to give expression to his sentiments as the Representative of a rotten borough; and although the right hon. Gentleman might disregard what fell from him, he would still persist in claiming his privilege. The right hon. Gentleman had gone so far as to accuse him of a neglect of duty. He had not certainly addressed the House as often as the right hon. Gentleman, and for a sufficiently good reason, that he did not so well understand the intricacy of the subject. But as to any neglect of his duty—["Spoke, spoke."]

Mr. Baring rose to order. The question before the House was that the Speaker do leave the Chair. He did not see how the hon. Alderman could enter into a detail of his services in the cause of the Reform Bill.

Alderman Waithman

said, he was only desirous of replying to a charge which had been made against him.

The Speaker

begged to remind the hon. Alderman he could not, consistently with the rules of the House, reply in an explanation to a charge.

Lord Ebrington

did not wish to delay the progress of the Bill, but he could not refrain from corroborating the assertion of the hon. Alderman, the Representative of the City of London. He would repeat that assertion. He knew that there did prevail a very strong impression that futile and unnecessary delay had been offered to the progress of the Bill. He (Lord Ebrington) had regularly attended the discussions on the Bill, and he would say it appeared to him that there had been a great and unnecessary waste of both words and time. The country knew this to be the case, and therefore complained. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Croker) appeared to take credit to himself for assisting the progress of the Bill. He (Lord Ebrington) could not flatter him much on this point. In fact he could not give the right hon. Gentleman credit for ever wishing to do so. Much time had been already wasted in useless discussion, and, unless the Bill made more rapid strides, he thought it would be necessary to sit on Saturdays. He had intended to submit a motion to that effect to-morrow, but in the hope that no further useless discussion would be attempted, he would postpone doing so until next week, when, unless he found the Bill making more rapid progress than it at present did, he should feel it his duty to take the sense of the House upon the subject.

Sir Henry Hardinge,

after remarking that the only reason given by the noble Lord for the motion he proposed to submit was, that the people out of doors were not satisfied, proceeded to say—''Have we then already arrived at the period when the sections of London are to dictate to this House? For one, Sir, I never will give way to such dictation. I know that the way this Bill is to be carried through by Government, is by aid of the mob. I, however, as one member of Parliament, never will submit to be dictated to by the sections of London, speaking through the noble Lord as their organ. I say again, Sir, that noble Lord shall not dictate to me, or to this House."

Lord Ebrington

said, Sir, I beg leave to contradict as positively and as strongly as the forms of this House will admit, the assertions made respecting the grounds which induced me to give notice of my Motion. I would say, contradict the misrepresentation, which I am persuaded was unintentionally made by the hon. and gallant Officer, as to the grounds of my Motion. I repel again with indignation the insinuations of the hon. and gallant Officer, of my being the organ of the mob. I would not be the organ of any set of men whose opinions did not coincide with my own. I would not be the organ of any set of sentiments which did not agree with my own. I am the Representative of a numerous and respectable constituency—I am an independent member of Parliament, and I can tell the gallant Officer, that I speak my opinion as honestly, as sincerely, and as independently as himself, or any other Gentleman in this House.

Sir Henry Hardinge

said, when the intemperate cheers of certain hon. Members there whom I have in my eye shall have ceased, I will answer the noble Lord. The noble Lord's argument was, that it is the opinion of the people out of doors that there was an unnecessary delay in the progress of the Reform Bill, and that they would not, after a time, be satisfied if the rate of that progress was not increased—unless the House sat on Saturdays. He certainly did not use the word "sections," when he advanced his argument for the Motion alluded to. But I say the force of that argument rested on mob dictation. I say there are certain Members in this House under the influence of mob dictation. [Cries from the Ministerial side of "name, name." The hon. Member continued.] As I am called upon to name, I may allude to the fact, that Cabinet Ministers have, in their correspondence with Political Unions, and in the interchange of courtesies with them, even ventured to designate the discussion of the House of Lords as the whisper of a faction. 1 apply again to what was said by the noble Lord, and when I find him resting his chief argument on the opinions of the people out of doors, I think I am justified in concluding that, in a great degree his Motion is brought forward because out of doors all opposition to the Bill is denounced by certain bodies, and because the fruit of these opinions prevails. The noble Lord tells me, that he repels with indignation something that has fallen from me. I do not understand him—but if he means to say, that he repels with indignation any thing advanced as a fact or opinion by me, I receive this with quite as much indignation as he expresses, and I am perfectly ready to meet it in any way the noble Lord chooses—[order]. I have seldom troubled the House in the discussions upon this Bill, but whenever 1 hear the opinion of people out of doors advanced as an argument to compel the House to any particular line of conduct, I will always repeat what I have said to the noble Lord, and to any other noble Lord. Whatever opinion or statement of mine the noble Lord repels with indignation, I have only to say, that I repel whatever he may urge against my opinions with equal indignation. I repeat what I have before said, and I have not one iota to retract.

Lord Ebrington

"The right hon. and gallant General stated, that I was here the organ of the sections of London—that they spoke through me as their organ. To that assertion I gave, and again give, a positive denial—a flat contradiction. No Gentleman has a right to state what is unfounded in fact; far less when the assertion is calculated to convey an unjust insinuation. I repeat that the assertion of the right hon. and gallant General is perfectly unfounded in fact."

Mr. Goulburn

was sure that the House would see that the warmth displayed by the noble Lord was not warranted by what had fallen from his right hon. and gallant friend. What his right hon. and gallant friend said was, not that the noble Lord spoke there as the mere tool or organ of the sections of London, but that he founded his Motion in obedience to the feelings entertained out of doors.

Lord Althorp

, in common with every other Member, must reject those occasional misconceptions which occurred in the heat of debate, but was confident that the right hon. and gallant Gentleman would himself see that the expression "organ of a section," which he had applied to his noble friend, was not warranted in fact, and that no personal offence was intended by his noble friend's warm denial.

Sir George Murray

agreed with the noble Lord in regarding the present misconception as one of those occasional ebullitions which occurred in the heat of debate, and which were to be regretted; but still thought that the undue warmth was entirely on the side of the noble member for Devonshire.

Sir Charles Wetherell

would take it upon him to inform the noble Lord, that a very large and influential portion of the public attributed, and that, too, on just grounds, the delay in the progress of the Bill to its framers and supporters. He would beg leave to add, if they, or any of them, thought they could force the Bill through the House without full and ample discussion, they would find themselves mistaken. With respect to the noble Lord's intended motion, all he would then say was, that it would be nothing less than a severe censure on the noble Lord's, the Chancellor of the Exchequer's, management; for if that noble Lord saw no reason for adding Saturday to the Committee days, the proposition must be an implied censure on his zeal and sagacity.

Mr. Cressett Pelham

considered that, as the noble Lord (Lord Ebrington) said he agreed with what had fallen from the hon. Alderman (Alderman Waitbrnan) near him, he was, pro tanto, the organ of the sections of London; he however, denied, for himself, that any unnecessary delay had been offered to the Bill since it had gone into Committee. He was told that the trading districts anxiously looked forward to the passing of the measure, and reprobated all discussion. But the trade of the country was not the sole interest to which the House had to attend, and, as a country gentleman, he protested against it being hurried through the Committee.