HC Deb 27 March 1844 vol 73 cc1588-90
Mr. T. Duncombe

on the Motion that the Order of the Day be read, said he believed the question now was, the reading of the Order of the Day; if they allowed the Order of the Day to be postponed on one Bill, there could be no objection to its being postponed on another; and he had an objection to the Bill that stood No. 7 on the Paper—the Masters and Servants Bill, which he intended to propose should be postponed till after Easter. This was one of the most important Bills that had been introduced during the present Session, not excepting even the Factories Bill, or the Commons' Inclosure Bill. But any subject that was legislated upon on Wednesday was never reported. The labouring population had been taken quite by surprise by this Bill. The Bill was totally different in principle to any which had preceded it; and it had been altered in almost every word, from the Preamble to the last Clause contained in it. The Government, under such circumstances, ought to discharge the order for its committal, and bring in a new Bill, as they proposed to do on the Factory question. He had several petitions to present against the Bill, all of which went boldly to the point, by calling on the House to scout it from their consideration.

Sir J. Graham

thought, after what had fallen from the hon. Gentleman, he ought to state that the Bill was disclaimed by the Government as a Government Bill. There was but one new enactment in this Bill, and that the 4th Clause, which applied to contract work; and he thought, it highly expedient that it should be well considered. He (Sir J. Graham) was for the most part favourable to the new enactment, but he was not at all pledged with respect to it. He certainly thought this Bill ought not to be proceeded with in the absence of the hon. Member for Somersetshire.

Mr. Ferrand

said, he had that morning received numerous letters from persons in the manufacturing districts, all expressing the greatest alarm as to the effect of the 4th Clause of this Bill, if it should become law. That Clause provided that if a working man should not fulfill a contract—

The Speaker

said, the present discussion was altogether irregular. The question was whether the Order of the Day, should be now read, and on that question it was quite irregular to enter into a discussion of the details of a particular measure, although it might be included amongst the Orders of the Day.

Mr. T. Duncombe

said, he should then move as an Amendment, that the Order of the Day for the Committee on the Masters and Servants' Bill be read, for the purpose of having the Bill postponed.

Mr. Gally Knight

said the motive of this Bill was to enable magistrates to assist the working men in deciding points of difference between Masters and Servants. He thought if honorable Gentlemen knew as in Lich as he did of the difficulties which surrounded a magistrate in the cases between Masters and Servants, they would not oppose this Bill.

Mr. Hawes

thought it only an act of justice towards the Government to state, that whereas the Bill was originally obscure as to its enactments, it was now, in accordance with their suggestions, made clear and more fitted for discussion. He objected to the course pursued by the hon. Member for Finsbury in taking that Bill out of its order and moving that, it be postponed, especially after an assurance had been given that it would be postponed when the Order of the Day came before the House in regular course.

Mr. T. Duncombe

insisted on his right to make the Motion.

The Speaker

said, it was the ordinary understanding that on Wednesdays the Orders of the Day should be taken as they stood on the List, but, there was no rule of the House to prevent the hon. Member for Finsbury from moving his Amendment. The effect of that Amendment, however, if carried, would be, that a separate question must be put with respect to every distinct Order of the Day—a course which would be contrary to the general understanding which existed.

Amendment withdrawn.

House adjourned at a quarter before one.