HC Deb 26 March 1838 vol 41 cc1291-3
Mr. C. Poulett Thomson

moved, that a resolution to the effect that the names of Members ordered to bring in private bills should be printed on the back of such bills. The motion was one of considerable importance as regarded the convenience of the House, and one, therefore, to which he thought the House would have no objection to give its consent.

Mr. Wakley

said, that he entirely concurred in the propriety of the motion, but he wished that the right hon. Gentleman had gone farther, and had applied it to the regulation of the course adopted in bringing in private bills. At present Committees were appointed, no doubt with the strictest impartiality, whose duty it was, to investigate private bills; but by the course pursued in reference to the bringing in of those bills the course of proceeding of the Committees was changed. The practice was, for some person who desired to do a little job, and to carry the bill through the House, to fix upon some hon. Member to propose it, and to carry it through its stages. Now, this hon. Member was always selected as a member of the Committee, and was then usually appointed Chairman. In the course of his experience he had become acquainted with the extent of the power exercised by the Chairman of such Committees, and he well knew the advantages which they were able to gain. If the Chairman should find any particular member adverse to his plans, an adjournment was the consequence, and this was continued from time to time until the hon. Member was absent from town, or was compelled to be absent from his place, and then the bill was carried through. Now, such a system as this ought not to continue, and he hoped, therefore, that the right hon. Gentleman would enlarge his motion, by adding to it, that no other person besides those who were nominated at the beginning of the Session by the Speaker should sit on the Committees on private bills.

Mr. Brotherton

thought, that the subject-matter of the complaint of the hon. Member for Finsbury did not apply to the present motion. The motion had reference to the hon. Member by whom a bill was brought in, while the suggestion of the hon. Member would only apply to the hon. Member who moved its second reading.

Mr. Hume

said, that the hon. Member for Salford had precisely pointed out the objection of the hon. Member for Finsbury. He did not see any reason why the person bringing in the bill should be selected to sit on the Committee. By this course being always adopted, it was in the power of the agent for the bill to select whom he pleased to sit on the Committee.

Mr. C. Poulett Thomson

said, that he must agree with the hon. Member for Salford, that the question suggested by the hon. Member for Finsbury did not apply. His motion stood apart from any other; but, at the same time, he was willing to admit, that the suggestion of the hon. Member was one of importance. It should be made the subject of a substantive motion, however. He should be glad that it should be adopted as a rule of the House, for he had experienced the convenience proceeding from the adoption of the old custom recently, in being put on a Committee on a private bill, which he had been compelled to introduce on public grounds.

Mr. Wakley

begged to assure the right hon. Gentleman that his observations applied to no individual Member of the House, but to the principle generally. If the motion should be pressed he certainly should not oppose it, but he regretted that the reform of such matters should be effected piecemeal.

The Speaker

said, that there was no doubt that the system, if it were always adopted, was extremely inconvenient, but it was a practice which was not necessarily followed. Various expedients had been tried with a view to correct the inconvenience arising from it, but they had, as yet, been unsuccessful.

Motion agreed to.