HC Deb 03 February 1837 vol 36 cc103-6
Mr. Brotherton

rose, pursuant to notice, to bring forward his motion respecting the time of sitting of the House. He said, that the motion which he had now the honour to submit to the consideration of the House was in his judgment so necessary, so reasonable, and so important, that he could not anticipate any opposition to it. He should only trespass on the indulgence of the House for a very few minutes, while he stated the grounds on which he claimed their support. No one could deny that the late sitting of the House had been very injurious in its effects to the health of the Members, and particularly to that of their Speaker, who was compelled to remain there on all such occasions to a very late hour. He had no hesitation in stating that the interests of the country would be promoted, if midnight legislation was entirely put an end to. No legislative assembly that he knew of in any part of the world transacted its business at night; and he saw no reason why that House should be an exception to all others, by continuing its late sittings. He was aware that an objection might be raised to any fixed hour for the adjournment of a debate; but it was well known that, at present, many hours were wasted upon the question of adjourning, and dividing upon that motion. His plan was free from objection, because be only proposed not to enter upon any new matter after twelve o'clock; and he hoped the House would adopt formally that change which, as far as he was able to effect it, he had endeavoured to bring about. He proposed that the debate should be adjourned upon the motion of any individual Member; but he wished that the other Orders, to which no opposition was given, might be proceeded with. Much time would be saved by this plan—there would be no partiality in it—and indeed he would say, that in all the motions whtch he felt it to be his duty to make for the adjournment of the House, he was not actuated by any feeling in favour of one side or the other, though he might hear with greater pleasure the arguments of Members on the Ministerial rather than on the Opposition benches. He hoped the House would sanction the proposition with which he should conclude—namely, "That it being desirable, except in particular cases, that the sittings of this House should not be continued after midnight, when any motion is brought on for discussion after twelve o'clock at night, and a Member rises to speak to order, and moves that the further debate on such question be adjourned to a future day, Mr. Speaker shall immediately declare the debate adjourned, without putting the question to the House, and proceed to the other Orders of the Day."

Mr. Ewart

seconded the motion. He thought its adoption would materially benefit hon. Gentlemen, and would be of great advantage to the country. The present system fell very unequally upon hon. Gentlemen, and those who represented large constituencies were, he should say, much more attentive to their business than those returned for small places. Some hon. Gentlemen opposite were not very particular in being in their places at late hours, except a few who deserved the name of his Majesty's Opposition. Late hours, therefore, were not only injurious to the country, and detrimental to legislation in that House, but they were oppressive by their inequality; and his hon. Friend the Member for Salford, and other hon. Members, who sat long after midnight, came in for an undue share of exertion, of which they had a right to complain. He was convinced that justice would never be done to the country, until a portion of the day was devoted to the duties of legislation; and the best thing that could be done would be to devote two or three days in the week to the business of the House, instead of proceeding with nocturnal legislation. He trusted that the House would not stop with the present motion, but would go much further, as well for the benefit of the House as the satisfaction of the nation.

Lord John Russell

was not prepared to concur in the motion of the hon. Member for Salford, because the effect of it would be to take away all discretion on the subject from the House. The practice during the last Session had generally been to adjourn the House about twelve o'clock; but there were cases when it was important that public business should be proceeded with; and when it was the opinion of the House that the business before it required such despatch, he thought the hour at which the business was brought forward ought not to form an objection to the progress of important business. Ac- cording to the motion of the hon. Member, if any hon. Gentleman wished to obstruct the progress of a particular Bill, it would be in his power, by moving an adjournment after twelve o'clock, to put a stop to the business before the House, and thus materially delay, and perhaps eventually defeat it. The hon. Member for Salford had last year frequently moved the adjournment of the House, and he had never opposed the wishes of the hon. Member; on the contrary, he thought the hon. Member had exercised his power with admirable judgment, and he did not wish to interfere with the hon. Member's discretion hereafter. But, at the same time, he did not like to have any fixed and settled rule to prevent the public business going on, particularly as, after all these adjournments, they had not got through so much business as they might have done if they had sat later. He did not wish to interfere with the motions which the hon. Member might make from time to time for the adjournment of the House; but he could not agree to his present motion, because, as it appeared to him, it must cause an obstruction to the public business.

Mr. Hume

declared that a great deal of time had been lost last Session in consequence of debates arising upon the very motion for adjournment. In particular cases, he admitted it would tend to the advantage of the public that the business before the House should be proceeded with after twelve o'clock. What was asked by the motion was, not to stop a debate which was going on before twelve o'clock arrived, but to prevent the discussion of fresh business after that hour. It was absolutely necessary that some Members should be present all the time the House was sitting, and many others wished to be present, and as many of them came down at eleven or twelve o'clock in the day and were obliged to stop till the House rose, he would ask whether an attendance of twelve or thirteen hours was not enough for any man? He really thought that more progress would be made if the motion was agreed to, so that after twelve o'clock no new matter should be brought on.

Mr. George F. Young

would support the proposition, because the value of legislation should be tested, not by its quantity, but by its quality; and so far as his experience went, all the worst measures which had passed through that House had passed after midnight. Measures which were brought forward after twelve o'clock did not get that calm consideration which was required, and the consequence was, that many of them were extremely discreditable to the character of the House.

The House divided:—Ayes 61; Noes 147: Majority 86.

List of the AYES.
Baines, E. Browne, R. D.
Beauclerk, Major Buckingham, J. S.
Bentinck, Lord W. Chaplin, Colonel
Blackburne, John I. Chapman, Aaron
Blake, M. J. Chichester, J. P. B.
Brabazon, Sir W. Elphinstone, H.
Brady, Denis C. Fielden, J.
Bridgman, H. Fitzsimon, Chris,
Gisborne, T. O'Connell, D.
Grattan, Henry O'Connell, J.
Gully, John O'Connell, M. J.
Hall, B. O'Connell, Morgan
Hardy, J. O'Conor, Don
Harvey, D. W. Potter, R.
Hector, C. J. Roche, D.
Hindley, C. Roebuck, John A.
Hogg, J. W. Ruthven, E. S.
Hume, J. Tancred, H. W.
Humphery, J. Thomson, C. P.
James, W. Tulk, C.A.
Jephson, C. D. O. Villiers, C. P.
Lambton, Hedworth Wakley, T.
Leader, J. T. Walter, John
Lennox, Lord G. Warburton, H.
Lister, E. C. Wason, R.
Lynch, A. H. Whalley, Sir S.
Marsland, H. Wilbraham, G.
Molesworth, Sir W. Williams, W.
Mullins, F. W. Young, G. F.
Nagle, Sir R. TELLERS.
O'Brien, C. Brotherton, J.
O'Brien, W. S. Ewart, W.
List of the NOES.
Adam, Admiral Elley, Sir J.
Agnew, Sir A. bart. Ellice, E.
Alsager, Captain Fazakerley, J. N.
Angerstein, John Fector, John Minet
Arbuthnott, hon. H. Fergus, J.
Bagot, hon. W. Ferguson, R.
Ball, N. Fergusson, R. C.
Baring, F. Fitzroy, Lord C.
Baring, T. Fitzsimon, Nicholas
Barnard, Edward G. Follett, Sir W. Webb
Beckett, Sir J. Forbes, Wm.
Bell, M. Forester, hon. G. C. W.
Bellew, Rich. M. Fort, J.
Bentinck, Lord G. French, F.
Berkeley, hon. C. C. Gaskell, J. Milnes
Bewes, T. Gordon, R.
Biddulph, Robert Gordon, hon. W.
Bolling, Wm. Goring, Harry Dent
Bonham, R. Francis Goulburn, Sergeant
Borthwick, Peter Graham, Sir J.
Bruce, C. L. C. Grattan, J.
Buller, Sir J. B. Yarde Grey, Sir G.
Byng, G. Grosvenor, Lord R.
Canning, hon. C. Hamilton, Lord C.
Canning, Sir S. Hanmer, Sir J. bart.
Chalmers, P. Hardinge, Sir H.
Clay, W. Harland, W. Charles
Clerk, Sir G. Hastie, A.
Corry, hon. H. T. L. Hawes, B.
Cowper, hon. W. F. Hawkes, Thos.
Curteis, E. B. Hay, Sir A. L.
Dalbiac, Sir C. Hodgson, J.
Dalmeny, Lord Holland, Edward
Davenport, John Hope, hon. James
Divett, E. Horsman, E.
Donkin, Sir R. Houstoun, G.
Dundas, hon. J. C. Howard, R.
Dundas, J.D. Howick, Viscount
Dunlop, J. Jackson, Sergeant
Eaton, Richard J. Ingham, R.
Egerton, Wm. Tatton Jones, Wilson
Irton, Samuel Richards, R.
Kearsley, J. H. Robinson, G. R.
Knatchbull, Sir E. Rolfe, Sir R. M.
Lefroy, Thomas Ross, Charles
Loch, J. Russell, Lord J.
Lucas, Edward Seymour, Lord
Lushington, Charles Sharpe, General
Lygon, hon. Gen. Shirley, E. J.
Maclean, D. Sibthorp, Colonel
M'Leod, R. Sinclair, Sir G.
M'Taggart, J. Stanley, Lord
Mangles, J. Steuart, R.
Marjoribanks, S. Stuart, Lord J.
Marshall, William Stuart, V.
Maule, hon. F. Tennent, J. E.
Maunsell, T. P. Thompson Alderman
Mordaunt, Sir J. bart. Tooke, W.
Moreton, Lord Twiss, H.
Neeld, John Vere, Sir C. B., bart.
O'Ferrall, R. M. Vesey, hon. T.
Oliphant, Lawrence Wallace, Robert
Oswald, James Wilbraham, B.
Parker, John Winnington, H. J.
Parrott, Jasper Wood, C.
Pattison, J. Wood, Colonel
Pease, J. Worsley, Lord
Peel, Sir R., bart. Wortley, J. S.
Pemberton, Thomas Wrightson, W.
Philips, Mark Wynn, rt. hon. C. W.
Pigot, Robert Young, J.
Power, J.
Pringle, A. TELLERS.
Pryme, George Campbell, Sir J.
Rice, rt. hon. T. S. Stanley, E. J.