HC Deb 11 February 1836 vol 31 cc305-6
Mr. Hume

moved, that all Bills be in future engrossed in plain round hand, instead of black letter.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, that if the hon. Member's Resolution were adopted, there would then exist the anomaly of the Bills of one House being written in one way, and those of the other in a manner quite different.

Mr. Williams Wynn

complained, that the rolls from the time of George 2nd were more illegible than those of the five centuries preceding, and he apprehended, that unless some plan were laid down which would be uniformly adhered to, it would be better they should remain as they were.

Mr. O'Connell

said, that every reason he had heard was one for passing the Resolution of the hon. Member for Middlesex. The records formerly were written legibly, because writing not being a general acquirement at the time, the clerks made up the records. The fees being latterly abolished, the parties now made them up, and they were not so uniformly written.

The Solicitor General

observed, that whatever other subject of complaint might exist against the Court of Chancery, that Court had enjoyed for above a century and a-half the benefit of having every thing placed on record there in a good plain round hand, and the consequence was that every word was capable of being made out and read distinctly by all persons interested.

The Attorney-General

said there was no doubt that the old system was very inconvenient, and that many Members could not read the rolls of Parliament as they were now written. He confessed he was himself sometimes puzzled with that sort of writing, although he had studied it. Indeed, it was known that it had puzzled the printers, themselves, and the printers' devils. In the case of the printing of the late Municipal Corpora- tions Bill, it was found, notwithstanding a supposed careful revision of the Bill, as printed by the printer employed and responsible, that some words had crept into the printed Bill which were not to be found, upon examination, on the roll itself. It would be well that a uniformity also should be adopted in the size of the letters in which these Bills were hereafter to be written, so that every one who ran might read them.

Sir F. Pollock

said the alteration sought to be made was hardly worth contending for. Bills were not printed in black letter, and why they should continue to be written in that character he could not see. He hoped, however, that the system in use would be replaced by a better one.

Lord John Russell

agreed with the hon. and learned Member that the thing was not worth contending for. He should, however, give his support to the Motion as he deemed some change necessary.

Mr. Hume

said, that in consequence of the observations made in reference to the House of Lords, he should beg to withdraw his Motion for the purpose of re-modelling it, and of substituting in its place a Motion to the effect "that a message should be sent to the House of Lords, praying their concurrence in the Resolution of this House that Bills before Parliament should be written in a plain round hand instead of black letter.

Colonel Thompson

suggested, as an improvement on the Motion, that every document of importance coming before Parliament should be printed. He could not see why that which was written should not be as well in print; nor why things should be found in one which were not in the other. With respect to ink, he was able to state that he never saw Oriental ink of any kind fade or lose colour, a fact which arose from the use of lamp black in large quantities in their ink, and its absence in ours.

Resolution agreed to.

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