HC Deb 22 July 1834 vol 25 cc345-7
Mr. Hume

rose, according to notice, to move that Copies of the Report of Messrs. Villiers and Bowring on Foreign Commercial Relations, and of the Reports from the Commissioners of Inquiry into the Excise, be laid before the House for the use of the Members. The hon. Member observed, that the first Commission in question had been appointed in the year 1831, and the information which they had collected was necessarily of a highly interesting and valuable nature, yet, up to the present moment, no Copies of it had been placed in the hands of the Members of that House. It appeared from part of the Commissioners' Report, that the Government of France had evinced every disposition, far beyond what had been expected of them, to follow the example of England in the liberal policy which she had recently adopted. He hoped, therefore, that the noble Lord opposite would continue in the course he had commenced, and forthwith remove the shackles and impediments which still remained to interfere with it. With regard to the Excise Commission, eight Reports were understood to have been already sent in by them. He wanted to know whether Government had acted upon, or intended to act upon, any of their recommendations? In any case it was highly important that Members should make themselves masters of the subject before Parliament reassembled, and he hoped the Reports in question would be put into their hands.

Mr. Poulett Thomson

said, his hon. friend could not be more anxious than he was himself that the highly valuable Report of Messrs. Villiers and Bowring should be perused without unnecessary delay by the House. He believed he could show, however, that no blame could fairly be attached to him, or any in his office, for the delay which had hitherto taken place. It was some time since he (Mr. Thomson) had moved for the production of the Report in question, and he had subsequently presented it to the House. There was this circumstance to account for the printed Copies not having been delivered to hon. Members as expeditiously as might have been expected by them, that the Report was not printed by the ordinary printer of the House, but by one employed by the Board of Trade. Another cause of delay was, that the proofs of important and laborious tables, &c., had to be sent to Paris for revision, in order to ensure their accuracy. Notwithstanding these circumstances, however, he had been enabled on the 7th of the present month to send down 700 Copies of the work to the Vote Office of the House, as a first step towards their distribution amongst hon. Members. Some accident or oversight had doubtless delayed their delivery from thence up to the present period.

Mr. George Frederick Young

admitted, that the establishment of a more liberal commercial policy between France and England was highly to be desired, provided both countries united in carrying such liberal views into effect. But he thought that a commercial treaty would be a far better mode of ensuring such a mutual line of accommodation than by leaving it to the discretion of France to follow or not as her government pleased the liberal policy which England had already extended to her.

Mr. Hume

complained, that the servants of the House should have neglected to deliver the Copies of the Report in question, which, it appeared, had been in their hands some time.

The Speaker

explained to the hon. Member, that any papers or Reports which were printed by the parliamentary printer, and under the authority of the House, it was the duty of himself, as Speaker, to cause to be distributed without delay. But papers which, like the present Report, were printed by the Government it was the business of Government to distribute; and they had just as much, and more, means of so doing as he or the House had. The Report in question had been sent down to one of the officers of the House, without any communication having been made to the House of such having been done. There, therefore, existed no authority by which the printed Copies could be distributed by the servants of the House. If, however, the House gave him their authority he would certainly undertake to have them distributed.

Motion withdrawn.