HC Deb 06 March 1833 vol 16 cc303-5
Mr. C. W. Wynn

complained that yesterday after the Speaker had taken the Chair, and, according to the usage of the House, had sent the Serjeant-at-Arms to summon those Members who were serving upon Committees, two-thirds of the Members who were at that time in their seats immediately went out, thereby showing that they attended for the mere purpose of taking their places. To correct that he would move "That upon Election Committee-days no Member should be allowed to take any place for himself, unless he shall have attended the service of the House."

Mr. Wolryche Whitmore

was glad that this question had been brought before the House. If the old practice were followed, the Members who lived at a distance would be left without a seat in the House; the seats would be wholly filled by those Members who lived near, and who therefore, could make it convenient to attend early and secure them. He might safely say, for himself, that he had not had a seat in that House the whole of the Session; he had sat for a few minutes in some other Member's seat, from which he was very soon turned off. It was very evident that there was not sufficient room in that House to carry on the public business of the country. He hoped that, among other reforms, they would make such arrangements as would enable all the Members to do their duty to the constituency who had sent them there.

Mr. C. W. Wynn

said, that as he did not wish that the question should lead to a discussion, he would propose that it should be left to a Committee to consider the privileges of the House as regarded seat-taking.

Mr. Warburton

said, he was very glad to hear the cheering with which hon. Members received the allusion made by the hon. Gentleman to the better arrangement and accommodation in that House. He begged to remind them, that tomorrow they would have an opportunity of evincing their sentiments on the subject, for his hon. friend the member for Middlesex, had a motion on the books, respecting a new House, which he meant to bring forward.

Mr. Baring

said, as the practice of taking seats in that House had fallen into great abuse, he should take this opportunity of moving, that it be altogether discontinued. This practice converted the attendance at prayers into apiece of hypocritical formality. He would take the sense of the House on the propriety of discontinuing entirely the practice of taking seats.

Mr. Hume

complained of the present practice. Sometimes the whole of the seats were occupied at so early an hour, that even those Members who had important motions to come on could not find a seat.

Mr. O'Connell

said, that matters were bad enough already, but the Amendment proposed by the hon. member for Essex would make them worse.

Lord Althorp

also disapproved of the Amendment.

Sir Robert Inglis

said, he would take that opportunity of calling the attention of the House to a subject connected with the practice of taking places. There had recently been a departure from the old practice of the House, by which the first opposition bench was reserved for such Members as had formerly filled high offices in the State. He had recently observed his right hon. friend the member for Tamworth, who had formerly been a leader of that House, unable to find a seat on that bench. Now, although his right hon. friend had on one question given his support to the Government, he apprehended that he was not therefore to be altogether deprived of the character of being in opposition. He did not wish to allude to particular individuals, but he would put it to young Members whether it was fair that they should, by occupying the bench in question, drive from it Members who had for many years taken an active part in the business of that House?

Mr. Cobbett

said it was impossible he could fail to perceive to whom the hon. Baronet applied his observations. It was clear that the hon. Baronet deemed him an intruder; that he had got into a situation where he had no right to be; but he could assure the hon. Baronet, that whenever he was attending in the House, and the front bench on either side was not entirely occupied, he would have a seat on one or other of them. He was at a loss to know what superior pretensions the right hon. Baronet alluded to possessed compared to him. To be sure he had done much mischief.

The Speaker

said, he hoped that whatever seat the hon. Gentleman might choose to occupy in that House, he would at least conform to the rules and orders of the House, and not presume to state opinions with respect to any individual in either his public or private character, such as he was not warranted in stating.

Mr. Cobbett

said, he understood the hon. member for Oxford to have pointed out the right hon. member for Tamworth as an individual who was entitled to a preference with respect to the occupation of a seat on that side of the House. He was going to observe, when he was interrupted, that he knew of nothing pre-eminently worthy in the right hon. Baronet, which would justify the pretensions put forward as to his right to a particular seat. He was not inclined to cede that right to him; and, if he were present he would give him his reasons fully and plainly for thinking that he of all men in the House, ought not to enjoy pre-eminence on that or on any side of the House. Now, with respect to the inconvenience of which hon. Members had complained, it all arose from the Government being so saving and parsimonious—so sparing of the people's money. They begrudged the expense of providing a suitable building for the Representatives of the people; the House must therefore put up with the inconvenience, only praying to God to alter the hearts of the Ministers, and make them a little more squandering.

Mr. Baring withdrew his Amendment and Mr. Wynn's Motion was agreed to.