HC Deb 13 March 1840 vol 52 cc1191-2
Mr. E. Tennent

begged to call the attention of the House to a doubt which existed, as to whether his bill, which was for the extension of the time of the copyright in designs, was one that came within the standing orders for the regulation of bills affecting trade, and required to be laid before a committee of the whole House. The bill did not interfere with any duties, or touch any question of finance; but he would wish to have the Speaker's opinion as to whether it came within the meaning of the standing orders.

Mr. Williams

said, the bill was one which did not affect the general trade of the country, as it merely was intended for extending the period of the copyright of designs from three to twelve months.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

expressed a hope that the Speaker would give his opinion, and thus remove all doubt.

The Speaker

said, the question was not whether this bill affected the revenue, but whether it came within the standing order, that bills relating to trade should commence in a committee of the whole House. Since the question had been raised upon the bill, he (the Speaker) had given a good deal of attention to the subject. The original standing order was made in 1703, when a committee of the whole House was substituted for the grand Committee of Trade. In 1771 the order of 1703 was renewed, and it remained a standing order to this day. Of late years the practice had been to apply the order merely to bills relating to foreign trade; but the practice was not uniform. He had looked into all the Acts between 1800 and 1814, and found, that though a great majority of bills relating to trade had been ordered to be brought in by the House itself, still a certain number had originated in committee. So long as the standing order remained on the books, he thought the House ought to adhere to it literally. But the difficulty here was, whether the present bill did so far relate to trade, as to come within the standing order. He had no doubt, in the case of the Copyright Bill, that it did not, because it affected trade only indirectly, and the old Copyright Bill was brought in by order of the House itself. But a certain number of bills had been commenced in a committee of the whole House so like the present bill, that he thought the safer course would be to commence in a committee of the whole House.

Mr. E. Tennent

would withdraw the bill for the present, and after the commitmittee which had been appointed on the subject, had made their report, he would move for a committee of the whole House to take it into consideration.

Order of the day for referring the bill to a select committee discharged.