HC Deb 13 July 1837 vol 38 cc1899-902
Mr. Poulett Thomson

on rising to move the adoption of the new Standing Orders, relative to private Bills prepared and recommended by the Committee which the House had appointed, said he wished it distinctly to be understood, that no material deviation had been made from the orders now in force, except in one point, and to that point he would afterwards call the attention of the House. The new orders had been carefully prepared, and the Committee which the House had appointed had given the subject the most mature consideration. A sub-committee had been appointed by the original Committee, the members of which had devoted a great deal of time to the revision of the old standing orders, and although they had made no alterations in the substance of those orders, they had very materially improved the phraseology, rendering their meaning more plain and perspicuous. The alterations they had made had also been submitted to those Members best acquainted with the mode of conducting the private business of the House, and to every one competent to give a good opinion on the subject. He stated these particulars, because in asking the House to adopt the recommendations of the Committee, he was aware that the House could only agree to his proposition on some competent authority; and he thought they could have no better authority than the recommendation of the sub-committee which had been appointed, and who had carefully and zealously discharged their duty. He would call the attention of the House to the single point in regard to which any material alteration had been made on the old standing orders. That alteration related to railway bills, and in regard to railway bills it was provided that before parties seeking to obtain such Bills should be allowed to proceed, proof should be afforded that a sum either in money, Exchequer-bills, or other Government securities, to the amount of ten per cent, on the capital required for the completion of the undertaking, shall have been subscribed and deposited in the Bank of England, as a security to the House and to the public against speculation, and to show that the undertaking was bonâ fide to be carried into execution. This alteration had been recommended by the hon. Member for Bridport (Mr. Warburton), who, as Chairman of the Committee on the Deptford and Dover Railway Subscription List, had strongly impressed on the Standing Orders Committee, the necessity of making such a regulation, in order to guard against fraud. Many hon. Members thought that that was too small a sum; but it had been deemed advisable not to increase it, lest unnecessary obstacles should be thrown in the way of railroad undertakings. Such was the only material alteration which had been made by the Committee in the old standing orders, and from the experience they had had, it could hardly be doubted that such a provision was necessary.

Mr. Hawes, having seen the Report for the first time that morning, was hardly prepared to express his opinion upon it, nor did he think that any Member of the House could be in a condition to do so. As far as he could judge from a very imperfect glance of the report, some of the recommendations of the Committee would involve a very serious alteration of the Standing Orders. The right hon. Gentleman had stated that, with one exception, the alterations proposed were not new; but, in fact, it was now proposed to incorporate in those orders, which hereafter were to be the Standing Orders of the House, matter which last year was merely recommendatory. He thought, therefore, that the report should not be adopted until some further time had been allowed for its consideration. He should beg to move that the further consideration of the report be postponed till the next day.

Mr. T. Duncombe

said, if he understood the hon. Member for Lambeth correctly, he proposed not to postpone the further consideration of the report sine die, but only till to-morrow. If the report had only come into the hands of members that morning, it was quite impossible they could have given to it the consideration which its importance demanded. It certainly appeared that some of the proposed alterations were of a very important character, and that portion of the public which had seen them strongly objected to their being adopted by the House without some discussion. He was, therefore, decidedly of opinion that the further consideration of the report ought to be deferred till to-morrow.

Mr. P. Thomson

said, that at the present period of the Session it would be impossible if the proposed postponement were to be made, that the standing orders could be considered until another Session of Parliament; so that all the labours of the Committee, which had been sitting for months, would be completely lost And why? His hon. Friend the Member for Lambeth (Mr. Hawes) said that many important alterations had been made. Now, he (Mr. P. Thomson) begged to inform the hon. Member that the report proposed no substantial alterations whatever of the standing orders, with the single exception which he had mentioned and explained.

Mr. Warburton

had read the report and approved of it. The labours of the Committee had been directed, not to alter the standing orders, but to re-arrange them, to place them in better order, and to improve their phraseology. The only alteration proposed was that with respect to railway subscription lists—an alteration which the gross abuse of the old orders of the House rendered absolutely necessary. Nobody would wish to adhere to the old standing orders. No time, then, should be lost in considering the new.

Mr. Freshfield

thought there could be no serious difference of opinion upon the report. As to the subscription list, he thought, if nothing else were done, that that at least ought to be adopted. The only complaint he had to make on it was that it did not go far enough, and he had originally proposed that the deposit should be twenty per cent, upon the amount of the capital instead of ten percent. The proposed regulation would not interfere with any fair or well-founded transaction, but certainly it would interfere with any foul or improper transaction that ought never to have made its appearance before the public; for that reason he should be most anxious to give his support to the proposition.

Amendment withdrawn.

The orders read seriatim and agreed to.

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