HC Deb 29 March 1841 vol 57 cc657-60
Mr. Pakington

said, he understood the noble Lord opposite gave notice, that he should to-night, on the Order of the Day being read for going into Committee on the Poor-law Bill, move that that bill take precedence of ail motions on to-morrow night. He (Mr. Pakington) found no such motion on the Orders of the Day, and, therefore, he would ask what was the course of proceeding which the noble Lord proposed to adopt? He would remind the noble Lord that he had given notice of a motion for the appointment of a Select Commitmittee, to inquire into the state of the colony of Newfoundland on to-morrow; he would, therefore, feel obliged by the noble Lord's stating the course he intended to pursue in this matter.

Lord J. Russell

said, that he had given notice of a motion, that the Poor-law Bill should take precedence of the notices of motion for to-morrow. It seemed to him a bill of such importance—one of which the House had already discussed so many provisions—as also its general principle, that it was desirable they should go on with it in Committee for as many successive days as possible. With regard to the motion of the hon. Gentleman, if he meant to discuss it, it would certainly put him in a difficult situation with respect to the motion itself, independently of the Poor-law. He had not yet received sufficient information on the subject from the Governor of the colony of Newfoundland, and, therefore, any statement that he might make on to-morrow would be necessarily imperfect—it would, in fact, be impossible for him to state, at present, as well as he could do in three or four weeks hence, the course which the Government intended to pursue. He trusted the hon. Gentleman would not seek to embarrass the Government by pressing the consideration of his motion.

Mr. Pakington

repeated, that he had no wish to embarrass the Government, but, if the noble Lord should press his motion, he should divide the House on the subject.

Lord Stanley

said, the course the noble Lord proposed to take was one that bore very hardly upon individual Members. He was quite aware the noble Lord said last week that he wished to press on this bill, but on all former occasions ample notice had been given of motions to take precedence. If the question was decided in this manner, persons who brought forward these motions would be placed in an unfavourable or rather in an unfair position. The noble Lord had not placed on the votes of the House any notice upon this subject. The noble Lord had stated, that he had no objection to go into Committee of Inquiry, and if so, he asked the noble Lord, whether he thought, when an hon. Member brought forward a motion for an enquiry into the state of one of the most important colonies of the British Empire, it should be set aside without a single word of explanation? He did not think it right to the House or to the country, or that there was any reason to justify such a course.

Lord John Russell

said, he had no objection to the appointment of a committee, or to go into the whole question when the matter was ripe for discussion. But he thought it would be most inconvenient and unfair to the parties concerned for the hon. Gentleman to bring forward a motion on that subject at a time when his statements could not be met.

Sir G. Clerk

objected to the course proposed by the Government with respect to the order of proceeding for to-morrow. It was a most unusual proceeding. When it was first moved that even on Mondays and Fridays the Government business should take the precedence of all other business, it was strongly objected to, as an infringement of the undoubted privilege of the House.

Lord John Russell

believed the course which he had proposed was one which had been already pursued on special occasions with regard to important bills before the House. He remembered that on one occasion the hon. Member for Montgomery, wishing to move that the Orders of the Day should take precedence of motions, strongly advocated that view of the case. Even the hon. Gentleman opposite had not said, that it was not proper in any case to take the course which had been proposed.

Mr. John O'Connell

complained that the hon. Gentleman proposed to introduce his motion in the absence of sufficient information. He thought the hon. Gentleman should adjourn it till he could obtain a full House and the subject be fairly discussed.

Sir R. Peel

thought the question, whether or no his hon. Friend should proceed with his motion by a speech upon the state of Newfoundland, was quite distinct from that whether the House should supersede his notice by foregoing the order. It was, to say the least, a dangerous precedent, and should only be resorted to in cases of strong necessity. A Government with a majority might at any time take that means of getting rid of inconvenient motions; and the greater the majority, the more dangerous would be such a precedent. The noble Lord had better try and obtain the concurrence of hon. Members whose names stood on the motion paper; then there could not be any doubt upon the matter, but he did not think the House would be contented to establish a precedent so dangerous. With respect to Wednesday did the noble Lord mean to supersede all the orders that stood before the Poor-law Amendment Bill? [Lord John Russell.—No]. So then an hon. Member who had charge of a Legislative Enactment was to have his day, but the Member who might have a motion of the utmost importance was to be stopped by an order of the House agreed to on a Monday, and without notice. That was a motion that would establish a most dangerous principle—one that would be more dangerous the stronger a Government was, and he trusted his hon. Friend would resist it by bringing on his motion at five o'clock, and pressing it.

Subject at an end.

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