HC Deb 15 August 1836 vol 35 cc1227-9

The Solicitor-General moved the second reading of the Borough Justices Bill.

The Earl of Lincoln

said, the march of legislation had been lately so rapid that hon. Members did not actually know what they were doing. It would surprise the learned Gentleman and other Members when they were told that the Bill now proposed for a second reading had not been read a first time. Such, however, was the fact. On Saturday, some parchments in the form of Bills were laid on the table, and the titles of them read. As some hon. Members on his side of the House wished to know something of them and their contents, they took up one, and on untying it, were surprised to find it all a blank. The other two were the same. Surely, under such circumstances, it would be impossible for them to suspend the standing orders, in order to pass the Bills that evening.

The Solicitor-General

said, the entry upon the journals was, that the Bills were ordered for a second reading; which, of course, implied that they had been read a first time. The journals were conclusive. They were Bills on which no discussion could arise, all the clauses having been agreed to by both Houses.

The Speaker

There can be no doubt that a copy of the Bill on parchment should be on the table of the House when the first reading of it is moved. I was not aware that such was not the case in the present instance. I now understand that the reason of this not being so was this—that the Bills were at that moment sent to the printer, in order to insure their being printed and in the hands of Members as early as possible that morning.

The Earl of Lincoln

said, hon. Members were prevented from knowing what the Bills were on Saturday, and which were only delivered to them that morning; so that it was impossible any Gentleman could know what he was about.

Mr. Charles Ross

had made inquiries of many Parliamentary agents, and none of them had ever known an instance of the kind.

Mr. Charlton

deprecated the course that had been adopted. In his opinion, hon. Members ought to have had an opportunity of seeing what the measures were.

The Solicitor-General

said, there Was not one word inserted in the Bill that had not been assented to by the House, and not a circumstance had occurred that Would place any hon. Member in a different predicament to that in which he was at present placed.

Bill read a second time.