§ The Speaker
intimated that the usual course with reference to the standing orders of the House, was to immediately adopt them. He would, however, beg leave to suggest, that on this occasion it would be better to delay them till to-morrow, when, if any hon. Member had amendments to be proposed, they could be considered with more propriety.
§ The Speaker
thought the House could not agree to one and postpone the others, as a resolution was last Session adopted to prevent them from being separated one from another.
§ Lord Althorp
would not object to the course recommended by the Speaker, and would take that opportunity of stating a proposition he had to make, to the House, which was this. "In the first place," said the noble Lord, "I shall propose that the House do meet every day, except Saturday, at twelve o'clock at noon, for private business, and for receiving petitions; and do continue to sit until three o'clock, unless sooner adjourned. That, at three o'clock precisely, Mr. Speaker do adjourn the House, and leave the Chair, without putting any question for adjournment. That the business then before the House be taken up on the next day, and have precedence in respect of other business of the same kind. That the House be adjourned only till five o'clock, and that it do then meet and proceed with the business set down in the Order Book. That if a House is not formed before one o'clock, for the sitting between twelve and three o'clock, Mr. Speaker do then take the Chair; and if forty Members be not present, do adjourn the House till five o'clock; and, in like manner, if the House is not formed at six o'clock for the sitting in the evening, Mr. Speaker do then take the Chair; and if forty Members are not present, do adjourn the House till twelve o'clock the next day. That Committees 138 do sit from nine o'clock till twelve, and from three till five. That no Committee do sit during the sitting of the House, without the special leave of the House." He would also suggest an alteration in the number of times which hon. Members should be allowed to speak on the presentation of petitions. At present, hon. Members were permitted to address the House—first, on moving that the petition be brought up; again, on moving that it be read; a third time, on moving that it be laid on the Table; and a fourth time, on moving that it be printed. He should propose "that when the contents of a petition have been opened, and the prayer stated by the Member who may have the charge of such petition, Mr. Speaker do desire such Member to bring the same to the Table, and do then direct the Clerk to read it, without allowing any other Member to speak, or putting any question upon such petition, before the same shall have been read, unless it should appear to Mr. Speaker, or to any Member, that the matter of such petition was in breach of the privilege of the House, or that, according to the rules and orders of the House, such petition ought not to be received; in which cases, the question, that the petition be brought up, be put, and agreed to, before such petition be brought up." By the adoption of this Resolution, many of the inconveniences now complained of might be obviated.
§ Mr. Cobbett
had long entertained the opinion that some of the Sessional Orders were of much greater importance than they were usually considered to be; for instance, at the commencement of every Session, it was customary to appoint standing Committees for various purposes; but at present, these were mere names, and the Committees never met. There was a Committee for religion—a Committee for grievances—a Committee for the purpose of attending to any complaints that might be made respecting the administration of Government; another Committee for affairs of trade, and the Committee of Privileges. For many years, only the latter Committee had been named, although the House was annually called upon to vole the appointment of the other Committees. He should like to know whether it was the intention of the noble Lord, that these Committees should sit and act, instead of being, as they now were, appointed merely as matters of form? If this were again to 139 be the case, he should certainly oppose the Motion for the House coming to any Resolution on the subject.
said, it was his intention to take the sense of the House on the propriety of its sitting at eleven o'clock in the day, and not later than eight o'clock in the evening. He would also take the sense of the House upon the best means of preventing effectually the interference of Peers, and also of making effectual the provisions against bribery.
Consideration of the Sessional Orders postponed.