HC Deb 28 February 1839 vol 45 cc965-84
Mr. P. Thomson

said, he rose to call the attention of the House to the report of the committee which had been appointed to consider what alterations were necessary in the mode of conducting the Private Business of Parliament. In doing so, he wished to state, with reference to the proceedings of that committee during the last and present Sessions of Parliament, that the Members who had been selected had sat and deliberated with the utmost attention day after day on this most important subject, and after hearing evidence and maturely investigating all the plans which had been submitted to their consideration, had given in a report to the House, and upon that report the resolutions which he now proposed to move were founded. Those Members who had at all attended to the subject would, he was persuaded, allow that the present mode of conducting the private business of the House was not satisfactory, that it could not insure the confidence of the public in their proceedings and that it ought, therefore, to be amended. To effect that desirable object two plans had been laid before the committee. The one was an amendment in the present constitution of committees on private bills, which left a representation of local interests; and the other recommended the appointment of a judicial body, excluding local influence altogether. The last of these plans had been advocated by the hon. Member for Kilkenny, hut the Committee, after having given it the most mature deliberation, came to the decision, that it was not advisable to exclude the representation of local interests altogether. He understood, that the hon. Member intended to submit his own plan to the House as an amendment on the resolutions which he intended to move, and it would be for the House to decide whether the scheme of the hon. Gentleman, ought or ought not to be adopted. He should not then enter more fully upon the second plan which he had mentioned, but he should be prepared at the proper time to state his opinion in favour of the decision which the majority of the committee had come to, and against the plan of the hon. Member for Kilkenny. That decision having been come to, the committee next proceeded to consider how they could best adopt some remedy for the evil complained of, and they had proposed to do so in the following manner:—1. They proposed to allow a certain representation of local interests to be placed on the lists which were made out by Mr. Speaker. 2. To call on Mr. Speaker to prepare those lists, taking care to make certain reductions. 3. In order to provide against that great reduction of numbers, to allow local interests to be represented, if good ground could be shown for it, and that Members representing local interests should be entitled upon application, to have their names placed on the committee. 4. It was proposed in order to secure impartial committees, that a committee of selection should be appointed who should add to the lists such a number of Members no t interested in the bills in progress as they might deem expedient. Undoubtedly whoever might be so chosen to act by the committee of selection must be prepared to consent to do so; no man had a right to take upon himself the office of a Member of Parliament unless he was prepared to discharge all the duties connected with it—unless he was willing, however irksome or disagreeable the task might be—to do that which the House called upon him to perform, which, in cases of this kind, was one of the most important duties he could have to discharge. The right hon. Gentleman concluded by moving the first of the following resolutions.—

  1. "1. That the present distribution of counties in the several lists, for the purpose of forming committees on private bills, prepared under the direction of the Speaker, as prescribed by the resolution of the 19th of April, 1826, has been found not to answer the object for which it was framed, and that the same be discontinued.
  2. "2. That, with a view to give effect to the opinions and resolutions contained in the report of the select committee on private business, presented on the 25th inst., it is expedient, that new lists be prepared under the direction of the Speaker, reducing considerably the number of Members above the line in the lists as now formed, excluding altogether those below the line, and having regard to the new divisions of counties as regulated by the Reform Act.
  3. "3. That a committee of selection be appointed, consisting of the Chairman of the Standing Orders Committee, and of the Chairman of the committee and of the three subcommittees on petitions for private bills, and of whom three shall be a quorum; and that the said committee of selection do report from time to time to the House with respect to the proceedings on private bills.
  4. "4. That no Member whose name shall be on the list prepared under the direction of the Speaker shall be entitled to attend or vote unless he shall have previously made a declaration, in such form as shall be prescribed by the committee of selection of his willingness to serve throughout the proceedings of the committee on the bill referred to the list to which he belongs.
  5. "5. That any Member who is not included in the list directed to be prepared shall be at liberty to make special application to the committee of selection, alleging, that his constituents have a local interest in any private bill in progress, and the committee shall have power to add the name of such Member to the list, if the importance and reality of such interest shall be established to their satisfaction.
  6. "6. That the committee of selection shall select and add to the list such number of Members not locally interested in the bill in progress, and in such proportion, as in the circumstances of each case shall, in their judgment be necessary."

First resolution agreed to.

Mr. Hume

said, that the attention of the House had been for a series of years directed to the endeavour to correct the abuses consequent upon the manner of bringing forward private bills. He merely referred to hon. Members to ask them whether they were not all aware of the necessity that existed for the correction of these abuses? Public opinion had long since called on that House to erect a tribunal of a more efficient and satisfactory nature than any that at present existed for that purpose He was anxious to see the House undertake the erection of some such tribunal, and at once grapple boldly with this master grievance. When the committee on private bills was first appointed three years ago he had proposed, that the abuses should be remedied by reducing the number of the Members of these committees, and taking away all local interests, as he felt convinced, that this was the only way in which a court of judicature of this nature could be erected which would do justice to the parties concerned, or give satisfaction to the public. This was the sort of tribunal that he had wished to see established three years ago, and he should move resolutions embodying these sentiments in opposition to the resolutions embodying the recommendations of the committee which had been proposed by the right hon. Gentleman, and on these he would take the sense of the House, and see how far they agreed with him as to the necessity of taking away local interests and applications as regarded this important trial. The right hon. Gentleman had told the House, that these resolutions had been agreed to by a majority of the committee; they certainly had been agreed to by a majority of the committee, the numbers having been seven to five; but one of those Gentlemen who had voted in favour of the resolutions and against the exclusion of local interests, had the previous year expressed himself most strongly in support of his proposition, and if he had not voted in opposition to his previously declared opinion, the numbers would have been equal, and the decision would have been left to the Chairman. In that committee an amendment for the exclusion of local interests was moved by him (Mr. Hume), and as the resolutions of which he had given notice were so inconclusive, he would substitute it for them. That amendment was, "That it is expedient, that Members representing local interests should be excluded from committees in which such interests are concerned." He was anxious to press that question on the House, because he considered its committees in the light of judicial tribunals. He put it to the House, whether the rule was not well recognised, that when a case came before a jury for its decision each party had the right of challenge. He was aware, that Members of Parliament ought not to be challenged, as such a course would be derogatory to their character and dignity. If there could be any doubt as to the impolicy of the present mode of proceeding he would refer the House to the evidence taken before the committee. Hon. Members were aware, that there were certain persons connected with that House who acted as agents in conducting private bills through it. The committee examined several of the most distinguished of these Gentlemen, and they frankly and creditably unfolded the abuses connected with private bills. They had shown, how bills were carried by canvassing hon. Members—how they were hunted about from place to place, and it was said, "a division is going to take place. For God's sake go in and vote or I shall be defeated." The consequence was, that men who had never heard a word of the evidence frequently turned the scale by their votes. Indeed, no one could dispute the practice that had so long existed in that House. By way of testing these tribunals, he would refer to the evidence which had been given before the Parliamentary committees on this subject. The Duke of Richmond, in respect to what had taken place in the House of Lords, said, that not only were there some Peers who did not listen to the whole evidence on some bills, but frequently there was one chairman on one day, and a different Peer presiding on the next; consequently the proceedings were much longer than necessary, and generally very unsatisfactory to all the parties concerned. The House of Lords, finding that it was necessary to apply a remedy, passed the following resolutions on the 6th of July, 1837: "That every committee should consist of five Members. That every Member of such committee do attend to the proceedings of the committee during the whole continuance thereof. Ordered, that Lords be prevented from serving on a committee on any private bill where they have private interests concerned." Now that was the point which he wished to urge on the attention of the House. The noble Duke stated, that these resolutions had been strictly attended to, and that the result was most satisfactory, and that the working of the private business was much better than under the old system, because it was natural that five men who had attended to the evidence in any ease, having no local interest in it, must be much more competent to decide upon it than a committee of persons who had but partially attended to it, or were in any way interested in the result. The hon. Member also referred to evidence given by Mr. Smith and Mr. Crampton, which was to the same effect. He could read the evidence of nine or ten witnesses, he said, to show that the practice adopted by the Lords of excluding local interests, had given satisfaction very generally, and their committees were no longer likely to be characterized as private tribunals. If the House would adopt his amendment, the committees on private bills would no longer be likely to be characterized as partial tribunals. The resolutions of which he had given notice were those which the chairman of the former committee drew up, but he should propose, instead of them, that amendment which he suggested to the same committee. The hon. Member concluded by moving as an amendment on the resolution, "That it is expedient that members representing local interests should be excluded from committees in which such interests are concerned." If the House should agree to that resolution, the resolutions which followed might be made applicable with very little trouble to form committees on that principle. He had some experience with regard to the working of committees of that House, and he could assure the House that the public would feel a very lively interest in the discussion of that evening, because whatever might be the dissatisfaction which had been expressed in respect to those committees within the House, he could assure the House that that dissatisfaction was felt much more strongly out of doors. This subject had been forcibly brought to his mind only yesterday, by a circumstance which would illustrate what the feeling of the public was. One of his old constituents, a highly respectable person, having seen the resolution handed about yesterday, came to him with great anxiety, and expressed his alarm that this alteration should be contemplated; for, said he, "Anxious as I am, and fearful as I am, of the committees as now constituted, I have much more apprehension that the local interests which will be established in the new formation of committees will be much more overpowering, and we shall have less means of obtaining justice at the hands of the House." He must say, that after every attention which he had given to the subject, the result he had come to was this, that unless they were prepared to go the full length of that which was proposed by the hon. Member for Kilkenny, it would be far better to leave the evil as it stood. He would endeavour, in a very few words, to explain his meaning upon this subject. The dislike to these committees consisted in this, that if a bill were brought before a committee, there was an overwhelming local interest employed to obtain the attendance of members. That local interest was in some degree qualified by members who were put in representing distant places, but generally speaking, local interest was all powerful, and sometimes it acted all in one direction. Take, for example, a Railway question. The promoters of a railway were anxious to seize on individual property and to pay for it, but the individual was reluctant to part with it. That individual he would suppose, as in a case that had come to his knowledge, was a person who had no local connexion with the railroad, except by having property there. All the committee were those in the immediate district. They had embarked themselves in the case of the railway, and it was exceedingly difficult for any individual to gain attention in that committee, when his object was to overpower or balance that local interest.

Sir G. Strickland

felt great pleasure in seconding the amendment proposed by the hon. Member for Kilkenny. Such had been the case on several committees on railway bills. The question, however, really before the House was, whether or not the adoption of the resolutions of the right hon. gentleman below him (Mr. P. Thomson) would make the matter better; in his (Sir G. Strickland's) opinion, these resolutions would make it worse. It was true that under this plan there would be a sprinkling into committees of members from a distance, and that sometimes justice might be done, but still, on the whole, he was convinced that greater dissatisfaction would be created than at present existed. He, therefore, was of opinion it would be better to follow the example set by the House of Lords, and exclude local interests altogether from private committees. Parties locally interested in a question were excluded from serving on the jury by whom that question was to be tried; the same plan ought to be followed in committees on private bills, and persons left out who had an interest in the measure—he did not mean a corrupt interest (of which, by the way, more had been said against hon. Members than in justice was deserved), but those natural feelings of local interest which must bias the mind of an individual coming with an honest determination to do, but who did not, in consequence, always do, justice. He, therefore, strongly urged upon the House, unless it was prepared to adopt the amendment of the hon. Member for Kilkenny, to leave the matter as it at present existed, even with all its evils; if not, he was of opinion, that those evils would only be increased.

Mr. Freshfield

said, that having been alluded to by the hon. Member for Kilkenny, he begged to offer a short explanation. It had been stated, that on a division in the committee he (Mr. Fresh-field) had voted against the exclusion of local interests. Now, if the hon. Member had attended the committee a little more regularly than he did, he would have been enabled to make a more correct statement to the House. In the last session of Parliament strong evidence was adduced before the committee which sat on the subject, showing the inconvenience of the present system, and one single plan for the cure of that inconvenience was brought before the committee. That plan had been discussed, and it was stated another for the same object would he brought before the committee. The lateness of the period of the session prevented that being done, and the committee had before them the single question "shall we adopt the plan for the exclusion of local interests or shall we not?" Now, he was so strongly convinced of the inconvenience of the present system, that in his then view of the subject he should have been ready to recommend the plan suggested to the House, rather than leave things in the way in which he and the committee found them. But the subject was afterwards fully discussed, and he believed that it was not according to the opinion of any member present, conceived to be safe to recommend that plan to the House; and if the hon. Member would refer to the minutes of the proceedings of the committee, be would find that no division took place on any such question. The question, in short, was never brought to a decision. In the present session the subject had been further discussed, and, for one, he had been thoroughly convinced that the exclusion of local interests would be attended both with inconvenience and mischief, and that the House had no constitutional power to deprive any member from taking a part in the business of his constituents, though it might have the power to regulate the manner in which they should discharge that duty, and to require of them its full and efficient discharge; but the House had no right by its vote to say, that any member should he excluded from discharging his duty. On that ground he had voted in the majority in the committee, and on that ground he should vote against the amendment of the hon. Member for Kilkenny, if that amendment was brought to a division.

Mr. Aglionby

supported the amendment. The original resolutions before the House interfered as much as the amendment with the constitutional privileges of members of that House, and interfering with those rights, it was proper to obtain the fullest extent of benefit as proposed by the amendment. He thought the public were much more prejudiced by the admission of local interests than by their exclusion. He was in hopes, however, that some medium plan might be adopted. He objected to place persons in that situation, who had an interest in the question quite as binding as a pecuniary interest. Would the house admit, that there existed a necessity for the exclusion of Members having a direct pecuniary interest in the decision of the questions before the committee. If so was there not an equal reason to exclude others who had an interest though it might not be a direct pecuniary interest? There were interests which biassed the minds and feelings of men quite as much as a pecuniary one, and he would wish to exclude all Members on whose minds you could trace an interest at all likely to bias them, so as to prevent their coming to a just decision, whether those interests were consequent upon their connexion with a particular locality, or upon any other causes. The answer to the first question put by the committee to the Duke of Richmond, would illustrate his meaning on this subject. The noble Duke replied, when asked as to the practice of the House of Lords upon this subject, that the feeling of the House of Peers was so strong, as to the impropriety of Peers having a local interest in private bills, having any connexion with the committees on them, that if a Peer having such an interest were appointed to one of these committees, he would feel himself bound in honour to refuse to serve. This system had been found to work well in the House of Peers, and if such was the feeling of that House, he would put it to hon. Members of this House to say, whether they considered it was decent to serve, because themselves or their constituents had an interest in the subject. He thought the exclusion of Members thus circumstanced would give satisfaction to the country and to the House.

Sir R. Peel

rose merely to discuss the amendment proposed by the hon. Member for Kilkenny, as to whether or not it would be right that local interests, as they had been called, should be excluded from committees on private bills. In the first place he must say, that he doubted the constitutional right of the House to say to a constituent body of Englishmen, "We will proscribe a whole class of Members from serving on such committees; we tell you, that the Members you have selected not only from a confidence in their principles on political matters, but from their knowledge of the interests of your respective neighbourhoods, shall by the vote of us (the House of Commons) be prevented from exercising that latter duty, which you so thought them qualified to discharge." Now, it was establishing a most important precedent, to adopt a resolution excluding a whole class of Members of that House from perforating their duty. And what had been the argument in favour of this great and serious innovation? In the first place, the hon. Member for Kilkenny said, that the questions and matters arising before committees on private bills were strictly of a judicial character. He doubted and denied that fact. It was true certain committees were judidicial. Election committees were, or ought to be, purely of a judicial character, and therefore they afforded an admirable reason why local interests should be excluded from those committees. Again, the committee on standing orders was of a judicial character, having to determine whether, in the case of each private bill, the rules and regulations of the House had been complied with. But he denied, that the considerations mixed up in a pri- vate bill were exclusively of a judicial character. He would not say, that no question of a judicial character was involved in a private bill, but this he would say, that there were many questions of a local character mixed up in the consideration of every private bill. He would take the case, for instance, of a bill for introducing into a town a new system of fighting it by gas. Could anybody say, that the exclusive question concerned in that bill was of a judicial character? Might it not rather be a question, whether the expense would not be greater than the advantage to be derived, and should he (Sir R. Peel) say, that the Member who represented that town, and who had an opportunity of conferring with his constituents upon the measure, who knew the characters both of the opponents and promoters of such a bill, should be necessarily excluded from serving upon the committee which had to decide, whether or not a new system of lighting should be established? The hon. Gentleman had said, that this was no more than had been done by the House of Lords; but the hon. Gentleman made a great mistake in supposing the character of the House of Lords to be the same as that of the House of Commons. Nobody had any claim on a Peer of the other House to attend to the performance of duties of a representative character, and therefore it might be quite right to exclude local interests from committees of that House, but there were such claims upon the Members of the House of Commons. Now, he begged to ask, in what manner or by what rule was to be determined that which constituted a local interest in order to exclude? That would be a matter of great difficulty; an interest might be very direct, but not local, as for instance he might be interested in opposing a railway, and because he might represent a county through which that railway was to pass, should he be excluded from serving in the committee on the bill? It would, in short, be necessary to inquire into the degree of interest before the qualification or otherwise could be determined. But he (Sir R. Peel's) strong objection was, the great danger of the precedent of the House thus undertaking to disqualify whole classes of Members, from the performance of certain duties to their constituents. The House, he thought, might go so far as to say, that a man should not serve on a committee, unless he undertook to hear the evidence; but he doubted whether they had a right to say to a Member, "On the ground of local interest we disqualify you from performing that duty which your constituents expect from you." But supposing the amendment of the hon. Member for Kilkenny was adopted, was an hon. Member by it excluded from the committee to be prevented from voting on the bill in the House? Was, for instance, the Member for Manchester to be told, that he should not represent the interests of his town in committee, the certain consequences would be, that he would declare, that in the House itself he would represent them. Would he not say, "Will you silence me then in committee—do you tell me, that there I am not at liberty to state the wishes, feelings, and interests of my constituents, and vote according to them?" Would not the result be, that the Member, indignant from this exclusion, would force a discussion on all those matters upon the House of Commons itself, and the consequence of this unjust attempt would be, that the time of the House would be occupied in listening to statements made with ten times more energy—energy excited by injustice? But what would be the position of constituents? Candidates in their addresses to constituents invariably, he believed, promised to attend to their local interests, and what could be more strange for them than to find the Member best acquainted with their local interests excluded from serving and protecting those interests? To a candidate of their own neighbourhood they, would have to say "We cannot elect you, because you are excluded from serving us—we must look for some Scotchman—we must follow the example of Kilkenny in our choice to have our business performed. The proposition contained in the amendment was both impossible on constitutional grounds and impracticable. It was true that local interests might sometimes have an undue influence on committees, but in the conflict of those interests he believed on the whole that was done. On these grounds he must on principle oppose a proposition for the proscription of a whole class of Members from performing their duty to their constituents.

Captain Pechell

said, that the unsatisfactory result of excluding local Members from their committees could not be better illustrated than by adverting to the position in which the town he represented (Brighton) had been placed during the previous Session of Parliament. No less than five different companies endeavoured to run their railways into that town. Assuredly, the inhabitants of Brighton would have been very much dissatisfied if their Members had not been placed upon the committees which were then appointed. He held the constitution of the committees of that House, both public and private, to be monstrous, and he was disposed even to go three-fourths of the way with the hon. Member for Kilkenny. "But," continued the hon. and gallant Member, "I can't stand here to exclude myself, when I have already two private bills on the table." He did not think it possible that the constituencies generally would be satisfied with the amendment of the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Greene

thought that the duties of the committees were strictly judicial, and he was satisfied that in the country, from one end to the other, there was great dissatisfaction at the working of these committees. He would ask for what purpose they called parties before the committee with their counsel and their witnesses, which assumed a strictly judicial form, if they were then to be told that Members had local interests by which they were to be vote; that every argument of counsel and the whole strength of the evidence given were to be passed by, and that Members were to give their votes in the teeth of this evidence? He was satisfied, however, that this was the case at present. Let them take, for instance, a question between two lines of railway; and where there were rival lines they might pretty well tell, on looking round the room, how the different Members would vote. One witness examined before the committee, and speaking of the chairman of these private committees, said that he never knew an instance in which the chairman was moved by the speech of counsel or the evidence of witnesses. They ought to look at this in a public light, and not with a view to private interests. The right hon. Baronet (Sir R. Peel) had asked, who was to determine what private interest was?—but by the resolutions as agreed to by the committee, there must be a selection in which this question would arise; so that if there were any difficulty in the amendment it was not obviated by the resolutions. Another point from which the present system was to be viewed was, that it tended to disgrace and lower the character of the House. He asked how any hon. Gentleman who knew the working of committees on railroads, could doubt that any persons having parliamentary interest, who were also possessed of land along the line, would sometimes obtain ten times as much as it was worth? Nothing could lower the character of hon. Members or of the House more than the present proceedings. He might instance a case from his own town. A man called upon him to say that his land would be taken away by a proposed railroad. His answer was, "Why do you not appear before the committee?"—and the man's reply was, "I meant to appear, and had actually presented a petition, but in the mean time the parties have bought off Mr. So and So, who had joined me, by giving him a large price for his land, and I am left in the lurch to go on by myself." Feeling strongly that unless an entire alteration were made, and unless they removed local interests altogether, the present system would soon be revived, and the disgraceful system of private canvass would be continued. He would support the amendment.

Mr. Warburton

said, that he would relate to the House a case which was quite in point. While the business of a railway committee was in progress an hon. Member gave his constant attendance, and voted on a certain side. After the bill had passed both Houses, and when the shares had risen to a premium, the solicitor writes to inform him that there was a certain number of shares at his disposal, and the hon. Member puts the profits in his pocket as the reward of his diligent attendance and favourable votes. [Loud cries of Name, name.] "No," said the hon. Member, "I will not; I could give the name, but I will not. But I say, that such things are notorious, that they are spoken of as passing here almost every day." The question was, how were they to prevent this corruption? By confining the number of members on these committees within the closest possible limits, and thus condensing their responsibility as much as possible. He believed, that the public would be better satisfied if Members possessing local interests declined to vote.

Mr. T. Duncombe

observed, that poor people who were unable to employ counsel would be deprived of any aid before committees if they had not their local members to apply to. He could not assent to this amendment, which conveyed, too, and intimation that he was unable honestly to discharge his duty to his constituents.

The House divided on the original motion—Ayes 245; Noes 35: Majority 210.

List of the AYES.
Ackland, Sir T. D. Dalmeny, Lord
Acland, T. D. Darby, G.
A'Court, Captain De Horsey, S. H.
Ainsworth, P. D'Israeli, B.
Alsager, Captain Divett, E.
Arbuthnott, hon. H. Donkin, Sir R. S.
Archbold, R. Dottin, A. R.
Attwood, M. Douglas, Sir C. E.
Bailey, J. jun. Duckworth, S.
Baillie, Col. Dugdale, W. S.
Baines, E. Duke, Sir J.
Baker, E. Dunbar, G.
Bannerman, A. Duncombe, T.
Barnard, E. G. Duncombe, hon. W.
Barneby, J. Dungannon, Lord Vis.
Barrington, Lord Visc. Du Pre, G.
Beamish, F. B. Eastnor, Lord Visc.
Bellew, R. M. Eaton, R. J.
Bethell, R. Ellice, E.
Blackett, C. Etwall, R.
Blackstone, W. S. Evans, W.
Blair, J. Farnham, E. B.
Blake, W. J. Feilden, W.
Blennerhassett, A. Fielden, J.
Boldero, H. G. Fector, J. M.
Bowes, J. Filmer, Sir E.
Bradshaw, J. Fleming, J.
Bramston, T. W. Forester, hon. G.
Bridgeman, H. Freemantle, Sir T.
Broadley, H. Freshfield, J. W.
Brotherton, J. Gaskell, J. M.
Brownrigg, S. Gladstone, W. E.
Bruce, Lord E. Glynne, Sir S. R.
Bruges, W. H. L. Gordon, Robert
Buller, Sir J. Y. Gordon, hon. Capt.
Burr, H. Gore, O. J. R.
Busfeild, W. Gore, O. W.
Byng, G. Goulburn, rt. hon. H.
Calcraft, J. H. Graham, rt. hn. Sir J.
Callaghan, D. Grant, hon. Col.
Campbell, Sir J. Grant, F. W.
Canning, rt. hn. Sir S. Grey, rt. hon. Sir C.
Cayley, E. S. Grey, Sir G.
Chapman, A. Grimston, Lord Visc.
Chichester, J. P. B. Halford, Henry
Christopher, R. A. Hall, Sir B.
Chute, W. L. W. Hardinge, rt. hon. Sir H
Clay, W. Hawkins, J. H.
Clive, E. B. Hayter, W. G.
Clive, hon. R. H. Heathcoat, J.
Cole, hon. A. H. Heneage, G. W.
Conolly, E. Hepburn, Sir T. B.
Corry, hon. H. Heron, Sir R.
Craig, W. G. Herries, rt. hn. J. C.
Crawley, S. Hinde, J. H.
Cresswell, C. Hindley, C.
Currie, R. Hodgson, F.
Hodgson, R. Praed, W. T.
Hogg, J. W. Price, R.
Holmes, W. Pringle, A.
Hope, G. W. Protheroe, E.
Houldsworth, T. Pusey, P.
Houstoun, G. Ramsbottom, J.
Howard, P. H, Reid, Sir J. R.
Hughes, W. B. Richards, R.
Hurt, F. Roche, Sir D.
Hutton, R. Rolfe, Sir R. M.
Inglis, Sir R. H. Rolleston, L.
Irton, S. Round, C. G.
Jervis, J. Rushbrook, Col.
Johnstone, H. Rushout, George
Jones, T. Russell, Lord J.
Knatchbull, rt. hn. Sir E. Salwey, Col.
Knox, hon. T. Sanford, E. A.
Lascelles, hon. W. S. Scarlett, hon. J. Y.
Law, hon. C. E. Sheppard, T.
Lefevie, C. S. Slaney, R. A
Lemon, Sir C. Smith, J. A.
Lennox, Lord A. Smith, A.
Liddell, hon. H. T. Smith, B.
Lister, E. C. Smith, G. R.
Lockhart, A. M. Smith, R. V.
Lushington, rt. hon. S. Smyth, Sir G. H.
Mackenzie, T. Somerset, Lord G.
Mackenzie, W. F. Spiers, A.
Macleod, R. Standish, C.
Macnamara, Major Stanley, E. J.
Mahon, Lord Visc. Stanley, Lord
Marsland, T. Stanley, W. O.
Martin, J. Stansfield, W. R. C.
Marton, G. Stewart, J.
Maxwell, hon. S. R. Stock, Dr.
Mildmay, P. St. J. Stuart, V.
Miles, P. W. S. Stormont, Lord Visc.
Milnes, R. M. Strutt, E.
Mordaunt, Sir J. Style, Sir C.
Moreton, hon. A. H. Surrey, Earl of
Morpeth, Lord Visc. Teignmouth, Lord
Morris, D. Thomas, Col. H.
Murray, rt. hn. J. A. Thomson, rt, hn. C. P.
Norreys, Lord Thompson, Mr. Ald.
Norreys, Sir D. J. Thornhill, G.
O'Brien, W. S. Trench, Sir F.
Ord, W. Troubridge, Sir E. T.
Ossulston, Lord Vere, Sir C. B.
Parke, C. W. Vivian, J. H.
Paget, Lord A. Vivian, J. E.
Paget, F. Vivian, rt. hn. Sir R. H.
Pakington, J. S. Wakley, T.
Palmer, R. Walker, R.
Palmer, G. Wemyss, J. E.
Palmerston, Lord Visc. White, A.
Parker, J. Whitmore, T. C.
Parker, M. Wilbraham, G.
Parker, R. T. Williams, R.
Pattison, James Williams, W.
Pechell, Capt. Williams, W. A.
Peel, rt. hon. Sir R. Winnington, T. E.
Philips, M. Winnington, H. J.
Pigot, R. Wood, C.
Plumptre, J. P. Wood, T.
Pollock, Sir F. TELLERS.
Powell, Colonel Clerk Sir G.
Praed W. M. Seymour Lord
List of the NOES.
Aglionby, H. A. Langdale, hon. C.
Aglionby, Major Leader, J. T.
Bewes, Thomas Lushington, C.
Blake, M. J. Marshall, W.
Chalmers, P. Marsland, H.
Davies, Col. Muskett, G. A.
Denison, W. J. Nicholl, J.
Dennistoun, J. O'Connell, D.
Dundas, C. W. D. O'Connell, M.
Easthope, J. Scholefield, J.
Elliot, hon. J. E. Tancred, H. W.
Estcourt, T. Vigors, N. A.
Finch, F. Wallace, R.
Fort, J. Warburtrn, H.
Greene, T. Ward, H. G.
Grote, G. Yates, J. A.
Hawes, B. TELLERS.
Johnson, Gen. Strickland, Sir G.
Kinnaird, hon. A. Hume, M.

Question again put on the second resolution.

Mr. Aglionby

said, that in order to qualify that resolution, which was very objectionable in its present form, he should move as an amendment, "That any Member whose constituents may have a local interest in any private bill shall be a Member of that committee, but without a right to vote."

Mr. Poulett Thomson

objected to any such proposition. He was sure no Member of that House would like to attend a committee whose decision would affect the interests of his constituents when the House decided beforehand that he was an unfit person to vote.

Mr. Elliot

observed, that he for one would be very glad to sit upon such a committee without voting. He should wish to be there for the purpose of pleading the cause of his constituents with the local knowledge he necessarily possessed of their affairs, and he should wish to abstain from voting, lest it might be supposed that in doing so he was influenced by any bias or partiality.

Mr. M. Philips

thought the amendment of the hon. Member for Cockermouth would be exceedingly inconvenient. If a railway bill were introduced, for instance, and ordered to be sent to a committee, and it was intended that the railway should pass through five or six counties, he should be glad to know if the committee or the greater part of it was to be composed of Members who could only act the part of dummies? The proposition, in his opinion was extremely absurd.

Amendment negatived, and resolution agreed to.

On the third resolution,

Lord Mahon

thought the House should consider it, having in view another important subject which would shortly come before them—namely, the trial of controverted elections. Under the bill of his right hon. Friend the Member for Tam-worth, they would have a second committee of selection; and he was very much disposed to think that those two committees would be found incompatible, and would frequently clash. Each might select the same individual; and in that case he would ask the House who was to decide? It was a question which he submitted ought not to be considered without reference to the subject of controverted elections, which, as regarded this particular feature, was closely connected with it.

Resolution agreed to, as was the fourth, with an amendment, to the effect that Members making application to serve on committees should declare their willingness to serve throughout the proceedings.

On the fifth resolution,

Mr. Aglionby

objected to it, as giving to the committee of selection a new jurisdiction, and one which in most cases was likely to be extremely invidious. Any Member of the House, whose name might not be included in the list, was to apply to the committee of selection to have it placed upon the list, alleging, as a reason, that his constituents had a local interest in the bill to be sent before the committee, and the committee of selection, according to this resolution, was to take upon itself to decide the "importance and reality" of such interest before they could allow that hon. Member to serve on the committee. This was imposing a duty upon the committee of selection, likely to be attended not only with annoyance, but very often with odium, and making them do what the whole House refused to do.

Mr. Poulett Thomson

was sure that the House would have sufficient confidence in the Gentlemen composing the committee of selection to be content with their decision upon the subject referred to by the hon. Member. It was necessary to place the power of selection somewhere, and he could not see in what better hands they could place it.

Mr. W. S. O'Brien

could not ever assent to the principle of selection, because he thought it liable to the greatest objection. He could conceive no method more likely to create discontent amongst the Members of the House, and he would suggest, therefore, that this resolution should be amended, at least so far as to give the House an opportunity of supporting or questioning the selections made by the committee of selection. He would not object to give to that committee the power of recommending Members to the House, but he was of opinion, the best way would be, to select their committees on private business just as they did those on public business. They would thus avoid all difficulty, and could, at the same time, take care not to name any one who was not willing to serve in the manner specified in one of those resolutions.

Mr. Poulett Thomson

had no objection, in consequence of what had fallen from the hon. Member for Cockermouth, to amend this resolution, by the omission of the words, "importance and," making the resolution run thus—"if the reality of such interest shall be established to their satisfaction." Further than that he could not consent to alter it.

Resolution agreed to, amended.

On the sixth resolution,

Mr. Warburton

wished to make this remark—that while Members having a local interest were obliged to declare they would serve throughout the proceedings, Members not having a local interest—that was to say, men of whose impartiality there was no doubt—were not called upon, under this resolution, to make that declaration.

Lord Stanley

said, it was undoubtedly the wish of every member of the committee that impartial Members should give their attendance, but there could be no sort of question that if Members serving on those committees upon private bills were left at liberty to choose the committees on which they were to serve, they would attend those only in which they felt an interest, and therefore perfect impartiality or indifference was not to be expected. It was the general opinion in the committee which had taken this subject into consideration and reported to the House on the 25th of this month, that a great deal for the improvement of committees must be done by private understandings and arrangements amongst the Members of the House themselves. The first proposition on the subject was, that Members willing to serve on committees should be requested to enter their names in a list, on the understanding that they were to take their places in committee, without distinction, whenever called upon. On the other hand, this was felt to be a plan that could hardly work well in practice, for members would put down their names without much reflection, and probably be very unwilling to serve on committees when the proper time for doing so arrived. Taking these views of the matter into consideration, the committee felt that they could not recommend any other plan than that which had been laid before the House.

Mr. Aglionby

observed, that if they succeeded in excluding the interested Members, they might limit the committee to a very small number indeed.

Sir Robert Peel

said, that the exercise of moral influence was the chief want, and it was to impartial and indifferent Members they must look for the exercise of that influence. In calling on such Members to declare whether they would serve or not, their assent subjected them to no penalties in case illness or any other sufficient cause prevented their attending; there need, therefore, be no difficulty about Members giving an assurance of that kind. Balancing the difficulties with which the matter was surrounded, he thought it would be best to place Members free from local influence upon the same footing as the others, subjecting all to the same rule. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman opposite would consider this suggestion, and see if it could not be advantageously acted upon.

Resolution, with Amendments, agreed to.