HC Deb 14 April 1842 vol 62 cc488-9
Mr. Wakley

said, he wished to put a question to the right hon. Gentleman in the Chair, relative to what he had always understood to have been the general practice of the House. He confessed, that he ought to apologize to the House for troubling it with so trifling a matter, which he should not do, were not the personal comfort of every Member of the House concerned. During the debate last night, a short time before twelve o'clock, he held some conversation with the hon. Member for Bath, relative to the motion and amendment before the House, and they were asking each other whether, if the first were put from the Chair, they would have an opportunity of coming back and voting on the second, or whether the doors would be closed, so as to prevent them from coming in. He had then been in the House more than three hours, and he left his seat for the purpose of inquiring of the Sergeant-at-Arms what interval would lapse in the divisions. He was not absent more than two or three minutes, when, on his return, he found his seat occupied by an hon. Member, who very abruptly refused to give it up to him. At that time, he did not know that he had left his hat in his place, not under, but upon, the seat; but he had been informed by several hon. Members around him, at a later period of the evening, that his hat was upon his seat. This might appear a trifling and insignificant matter; but if a Member left his place for a minute or two, to go to the vote-office or journal-office, it would cause great inconvenience to have his seat taken from him on every such occasion. Now, his object was to inquire what was the usual practice, and what was the conduct which should govern hon. Members in this matter. He had always understood, that a Member secured a seat by being at prayers, and also by taking possession of a seat, and leaving his hat in it during a momentary absence. He wished to know the rule, in order that the regularity of the House might not be disturbed by an absence of proper conduct on the part of hon. Members. The hon. Member who did this—[Cries of " No, no !"J Yes, I will name him—it was the hon. Member for Leicester.

The Speaker

said, the rule of the House was, that any Member being at prayers had a right to the seat he then occupied, but if he left it and went out of the House any hon. Member might take it, and if it were given up it was as a matter of courtesy, not of right.

Sir J. Easthope

was very sorry that what had transpired should have taken up any time of the House. He had not removed the hat of the hon. Member for Finsbury, and until that moment he was not aware that the hat belonged to the hon. Member. A gallant Officer then present took up the hat, and in place of putting it on his head he put it under the seat. The real fact was that the application made by the hon. Member for Fins-bury was made in so peremptory and abrupt a tone that, much contrary to his wishes, he felt himself obliged to refuse compliance with it. He was sorry that the time of the House had been occupied with such a trumpery affair, but the tone used towards him was what he could not put up with.

Subject at an end.