HC Deb 07 May 1845 vol 80 cc229-32
Mr. F. French

moved for leave to bring in the Great Western Railway (Ireland) Bill.

Mr. Warburton

said, that this Bill was one which the Standing Orders Committee had reported against, and the hon. Member for Roscommon had induced the House to decide against the Standing Orders Committee. It was proposed that a Select Committee should be appointed to inquire how far the existing Standing Orders with respect to Irish Railway Bills should be dispensed with. It seemed to him that, when the Standing Orders Committee had reported against a Bill, and a Select Committee was proposed to consider the subject, they ought to have the Report of that Committee before they proceeded further. He should, therefore, move that the discussion of the subject should be adjourned.

Sir G. Grey

did not see why the Standing Orders should be dispensed with. At the proper time it was his intention to move for the appointment of a Select Committee to inquire whether any, and which, of the Standing Orders in force with respect to railways in Great Britain, were unnecesary, and ought to be dispensed with in respect to railways in Ireland. He thought that the House ought not to adopt the present Bill until the Motion he intended to make had been considered, and the Committee had come to some decision upon the subject. He thought they should read the Bill a first time, and then postpone the second reading to a future day.

Mr. F. French

said, that all he wished was that the subject should be fairly considered, and for that purpose he was anxious to introduce the Bill. He wanted no unfair advantage, nor did he ask anything unprecedented. In the case of the Croydon Railway Bill, the House had negatived the decision of the Standing Orders Committee by a majority of ninety-five to twenty-two. He trusted that the indulgence which had been extended to an English would not be refused to an Irish railway.

Mr. Labouchere

thought it desirable that the House should have the Bill before it. It was absolutely necessary to ascertain whether or not the Standing Orders which were applicable to English Railway Bills were also applicable to Irish Railway Bills. Nothing could be more absurd or unjust if there were Standing Orders applicable to Irish Railway Bills, than not to adhere to them. Under all the circumstances, however, he hoped that his hon. Friend would not press his Motion, but would permit the Bill to be read a first time, and then the second reading could be delayed until after the Report of the Committee, to be moved for by his right hon. Friend the Member for Devonport, should be presented.

Mr. Warburton

had no wish to give unnecessary trouble, and he would, therefore, not object to the first reading of the Bill; but before the second reading came on, he hoped the House would exercise its jurisdiction over it.

Mr. Greene

thought that great inconvenience would result from delay. He thought it was hardly fair to the promoters of the Bill to keep this threat of opposition hanging over them. He would rather that the House should vote that all further proceedings should be suspended until the Report of the Committee to be moved by the hon. Member for Devonport should have been made.

Lord G. Somerset

could not see how any inconvenience could arise from permitting this Bill to be read a first time. But he hoped the House would seriously consider the subject before they consented to the second reading of the Bill. Before they did that, they should have it determined how far the Standing Orders which applied to English Railway Bills applied also to Irish Railway Bills; and the second reading should be delayed until the Report of that Committee should have been made. If it were attempted to press forward the Bill to a second reading until that Report should have been made, he should feel it his duty to oppose any such Motion.

Mr. Warburton

wished to ask the Speaker if it would be allowable to refer this Bill back to the Standing Orders Committee after it had been read a first time? He apprehended that it would be too late to do so, and, therefore, he thought it should be better to suspend the further progress of the Bill until the Report should have been made.

The Speaker

said, that after the Bill had been read a first time it might be referred back to the Standing Orders Committee.

Mr. Warburton

withdrew his Motion.

Sir R. Peel

said, that he would not by any means vote for this Bill if by so doing he was likely to throw the slightest reflection on the Standing Orders Committee. He thought there was a general impression on both sides of the House that the Standing Orders Committee had done their duty with respect to this Bill; and if he had been in the House when the Motion of the hon. Member for Roscommon was under discussion, he (Sir R. Peel) would have supported the decision of the Committee. The House had, however, taken another course, and had allowed this Bill to be brought in. In the course of the debate on a former evening it was admitted that if they applied to Ireland with strictness the Standing Orders which had been found to work so well in England, much injustice might be inflicted, and public works of great national importance be interrupted. If, on investigation, it should be found that the noncompliance with the Standing Orders had been caused by informalities on the part of the Parliamentary agent, then in his (Sir R. Peel's) opinion, the Bill ought to be delayed; but if, on the other hand, it should appear that there were circumstances in the case of Ireland which rendered strict compliance with the Standing Orders impossible, a fair question would remain open for the judgment of the House. But he did not wish to throw the slightest reflection upon the Standing Orders Committee, and he should reserve to himself the line of conduct he might in future pursue, and vote for the second reading or not as his judgment might dictate on a full hearing of the case.

Mr. T. Duncombe

said, that in his belief the peculiar circumstances of Ireland had had nothing to do with the recent decision of the House, as the argument was not used by the hon. Member for Roscommon, who introduced the Motion. He could not see how the public could have any confidence in the proceedings of that House, if, upon one day, they decide that a Bill should not be proceeded with, and upon another decide that a question should be referred to a Committee, to the effect that an inquiry should be made to ascertain whether the decisions of the House were erroneous, for that in reality was the question.

Leave given to bring in the Bill.

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