§ Mr. B. Escott
wished to put a question to his right hon. Friend the Judge-advocate (Dr. Nicholl) of which he had given notice yesterday. He hoped, from their long acquaintance, his right hon. Friend would not believe that he would presume to offer any obstacle to any proceedings under the care of his right hon. Friend unless he (Mr. Escott) thought that the public interest imperatively required it. He wished to know whether his right hon. Friend intended to persevere in moving the second reading of the Ecclesiastical Courts Bill, on Friday next? After what had transpired in the country upon the subject of the bill, and after the general feeling excited against some of its principal enactments, he wished to know whether his right hon. Friend would not feel induced to defer the second reading till after Easter, when not only the Members of the House of Commons, but the country at large would have had an opportunity of considering its provisions more fully?
§ Dr. Nicholl
said, that before he replied to the question of his hon. and learned Friend he begged leave to state that the bill to which his hon. and learned Friend had referred had been introduced on public grounds only. There was, therefore, no reason why his hon. and learned Friend should, out of any personal regard or affection to himself abstain from any opposition to the bill, which, as a public measure, he should feel it his public duty to offer. As to the question of his hon. and learned Friend, he begged to say, it was his fixed determination to bring the bill on for a second reading on Friday evening next.
§ Mr. C. Buller
begged to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether, as he had put off the second reading of the bill to a period when all the legal Members of both sides of the House would be out of town, it were his intention to bring it on when there would be nobody present to discuss it?
§ Dr. Nicholl
said, he did not know whether he were bound to answer a question which conveyed so many inuendos— and unfair inuendos—as the question of the hon. and learned Gentleman. He 352 had brought on the measure on the first night he had found it convenient to do so, considering the state of public business. He had not deferred the measure from any intention of avoiding the expression of the opinions of hon. and learned Gentlemen; and he would not now postpone the second reading, in order that they might be enabled to attend.
§ Mr. C. Buller
said, that he should upon that ground try every way possible to get the second reading of the bill put off again.
Mr. R. Yorke
expressed his regret that the right hon. and learned Gentleman (Dr. Nicholl) should persevere in bringing forward the bill on Friday next. He felt it to be his duty to his constituents to submit to the right hon. Baronet the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether, considering the importance of the bill, the interests that it involved, and the complication and difficulty of those interests, there ought not a longer time to elapse before the bill was read a second time. He trusted the right hon. Baronet would postpone the second reading for a fortnight at least.
§ Sir James Graham
said, that both he and his right hon. Friend the Judge-advocate were anxious to consult the wishes and convenience of the House to the utmost extent. But this measure had been under the notice of Parliament for many successive Sessions; and he must say that he thought the time had arrived when the House was competent to decide upon the principle of the measure. When the principle should have been adopted there would be the greatest desire on the part of his right hon. Friend to give full time for the consideration of the details in committee. Under all the circumstances, he saw no reason for postponing the measure beyond Friday.
§ Subject at an end.