HC Deb 10 July 1844 vol 76 cc561-3
Mr. Borthwick

was anxious to call the attention of the House to the state of public business, more especially to the practice of counting out the House when, as in the case of the previous night, measures of importance were to be brought forward. He himself had had a question of great importance, which he was prevented from bringing forward by the House being counted out, while the hon. Member for Montrose was speaking. The practice of seizing every opportunity of counting the House when there were not forty Members present, was a most unfair and inconvenient one; and if every hon. Member were to avail himself of his right in that respect, on Government as well as other nights, there would scarcely be a single supply night during the Session in which the public business would not be retarded. He, and many others, had come down night after night to support the Government—he meant upon those measures of which they approved; and was it right, was it fair, that they should now be deprived of the only opportunity there was of urging on the consideration of the House matters in which their constituents and the country were interested? He hoped he should not be charged with any want of courtesy if he persevered, as he intended to do, in bringing forward his Motion on going into Committee of Supply.

Mr. Cripps

did not think the hon. Member for Evesham had any right to complain in the present instance at least for he believed the House had been counted out when it was on the previous evening, partly to oblige the hon. Member himself. He had certainly heard the hon. Gentleman say to those who were near him "If you are going to count out the House, I hope you will do so while the hon. Member for Montrose is speaking, and not wait until I bring on my Motion." For his own part he had not felt any great desire to hear the speech of the hon. Member for Montrose, and therefore he had walked out of the House. The hon. Member for Evesham did the same, but when he saw there were not more than some twenty-eight Members present, came back, he (Mr. Cripps) supposed, to save his credit. He must deny that there were many occasions (as the hon. Gentleman had asserted), when the House might be counted out on Supply nights.

Mr. Borthwick

must deny most distinctly that he had said anything, either in confidence or publicly, in reference to the counting out on the previous night, that could bear out the construction which the hon. Member who had just spoken had put upon his words.

Mr. Sergeant Murphy

wished to know from the Speaker, whether it were not usual to ring the bell before counting the House, after the Motion for counting was made. He had certainly been under that impression, but he did not hear the bell on the previous evening. He was dining up stairs, when he was informed the House was about to be counted, and hurried down immediately with his napkin in his hand, in order to be present.

The Speaker

said, the hon. and learned Member was correct as to the practice, and he (the Speaker) had inquired of the proper officer, when the House was counted yesterday, whether the bell had been rung, and was informed that it had.

Mr. Hume

said, that when he rose to bring on his Motion on the previous night there were fifty-five Members present, for he had counted them; but though that number could be found to listen to a debate about dogs, when he rose to bring forward a measure in connection with the arts and the improvement of man, forty Members could not remain to attend to it. He had no complaint to make of the activity of those hon. Gentlemen opposite, who made a practice of counting the House out whenever an opportunity offered, but he thought he had a right to complain of his own friends, those who sat around him—of whom there were plenty present to have kept a House when he rose to speak, had they so pleased—for leaving their places, and thus enabling the hon. Gentlemen on the other side to succeed in their object.

Mr. Brotherton

had inquired, and found that the bell had rung, at the counting of the House yesterday, as usual. When hon. Members were anxious for an adjournment it was impossible to prevent it.

Subject dropped.