HC Deb 30 July 1845 vol 82 cc1220-3
Mr. Hume

wished to make a suggestion to the right hon. Baronet as to the arrangement of the business of the House for the next Session of Parliament. The Government had this year taken, of late, both Tuesday and Thursday for themselves; and the consequence was, that there were now so many Motions to be made that they could not get on with Supply. The great object of these arrangements should be, to ascertain with as much certainly as possible when particular business would come on; but the effect of the present system was to create great uncertainty, and yet not to advance the public business. What he would suggest was, that next Session, Tuesdays and Thursdays should be appropriated to Motions, and Monday and Friday to Supply and the Government business. He also proposed that on Wednesdays the House should always meet at twelve o'clock, and proceed with Orders of the Day, sitting till six o'clock, after which Members would be set at liberty for the evening. He proposed also that no Committees on Private Bills should sit on Wednesdays.

Sir R. Peel

reminded the House that this Session had been a peculiar one, owing to the great press of private business. Government had introduced their financial measures at the earliest period; as well as all others, the Irish measures particularly, which were likely to meet with opposition. Therefore they had done their utmost to expedite the public business. On one measure alone—the Maynooth Bill—there had been eleven nights' debate before the second reading. With respect to next Session, he would be ready to support the hon. Member's proposition to meet early on Wednesday, and sit till six or half-past six o'clock. That would be much better than sitting for five continuous nights, the fatigue of which was too much for any strength. It was not possible for those who attended that House for fourteen hours a day duly to discharge their duty to the public, it was utterly impossible for those who had also official responsibilities. With respect to the Government having taken Thursday for their business, he doubted much whether they had gained anything by it; but in doing so, they had only followed the precedent of several Sessions both under the present and the late Government. That arrangement would not have been made if it had been seriously objected to, nor would it ever be pressed against the wish of the House. He hoped that for the rest of the Session they would be allowed to proceed with the public business, and that Members who had Motions would exercise that forbearance which would allow of the Session being brought as soon as possible to a close.

Mr. Hawes

hoped that the sittings on Wednesdays would be really attended for the purpose of public business, and that the Members of the Government would attend. He begged, however, to say, that no imputation whatever rested on the Members of the Government as regarded the regularity of their attendance during the present Session. With respect to the appropriation of Thursdays, he would suggest that it should be a Government day after the 1st of July. In that case, Members would not put their Notices on the Paper after that day.

Mr. Bernal

hoped the right hon. Baronet did not suppose that the Session of 1846 would be less distinguished by the pressure of railway business than that of 1845. He thought it deserved the serious attention of the right hon. Baronet, whether it were likely that they would be able to obtain in successive Sessions the attendance of Members on Railway Committees, and whether they would not be compelled to adopt some other system.

Sir R. Peel

begged to remind the hon. Member what had been the result of the attempt to transfer the railway business to a Government tribunal. He was convinced that if that House parted with the power of adjudication, they would never be satisfied with the decisions of another tribunal, and that there would be still a struggle on the third reading. If it went forth to the public that the House of Lords had discharged their duty, while the House of Commons had shrunk from theirs, their position in the country would be altered, and they would feel compelled to step in at the third reading of Bills, in order that they might retain their position in the Constitution.

Mr. Aglionby

congratulated the House on the assent given by the right hon. Baronet to the suggestion of the hon. Member for Montrose to meet early and rise early on Wednesdays. He could not omit the opportunity of paying his tribute to Her Majesty's Government for their regular attendance in that House. Not even the most assiduous Member of the House had surpassed them in the attention they had devoted to the public business.

Mr. C. Buller

could not refrain from expressing his opinion that the present system of conducting the railway business of that House was the most defective and mischievous that had ever been devised, from the expanse to which parties were put, and the uncertainty that attended the decisions of different Committees. It was a scandal to the Legislature of the country. The right hon. Baronet said that they had tried the experiment of a Government Board. But that Board had only a partial field of inquiry, it did not embrace the whole subject. He thought they would be ultimately compelled to transfer the decision on these Railway Bills to a wholly independent tribunal.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer

said, that this was a subject which would depend next Session on a great many points and difficulties which could not be considered now. He hoped hon. Members would now let the public business proceed.

Mr. W. Williams

complained that the Government had introduced eleven Bills within only a few weeks of the close of the Session, and when it was impossible that they could be duly considered.

Subject at an end.