HC Deb 26 January 1846 vol 83 cc231-4

said he did not think it necessary to say a single word in bringing forward the Resolutions of which he had given notice, except to state that he believed it would not be necessary to persevere in moving the Fourth Resolution, namely, that if a House was not formed by a quarter past twelve, it should stand adjourned. With this exception, the Resolutions he had put on the Notice were, with a few verbal alterations, precisely those he would now move:— That the House do meet every Wednesday at twelve o'clock at noon, for Private Business, Petitions, and Orders of the Day, and do continue to sit until six o'clock, unless previously adjourned.


said, he thought the course now proposed would be found in some respects a very inconvenient practice; he alluded to the difficulty of procuring a proper attendance of Members. The generality of the Members of this House had some kind of occupation of their own; they were persons not likely, on many occasions, to make a full attendance; and where the attendance was very small, the possibility or the probability of jobs was still greater. A second objection was—every one had expected that the right hon. Baronet would have given some information as to whether or not he intended that the committees, of which there would be a great number, should sit on Wednesday, as well as on other days. But whether the committees met or not on that day, there would be a difficulty in either case. If they did not meet, the parties interested in the different cases, and the witnesses attending there, would be put to additional and unnecessary expense. On the contrary, if the committees met on Wednesdays, hon. Members would be put to great inconvenience; they would not know whether to attend the House or the committees. He thought this would be an unconstitutional course. It was in direct opposition to one of the Sessional Orders passed on Friday night,—that the Sergeant-at-Arms should, when the House was going to prayers, give notice thereof to all the committees, and that all the proceedings of the committees, after such notice, should be declared null and void. Now, he considered it unconstitutional to require the attendance of hon. Members in two places at once. If he were appointed on any committee, whether a railway committee, an election committee, or any other, he would not attend that committee if the House was sitting: and the question before the Speaker then would probably be whether he should be committed to the custody of the Sergeant-at-Arms, or to Newgate, for not attending. But he should certainly consider that the duty of attending the committees was merged in the superior duty of attending the House. He had asked the right hon. Baronet this question pointedly, and had received no answer; and he wished to know whether these committees were to sit on Wednesday or not.


believed the subject explained itself. He believed a very general feeling had been expressed, on both sides of the House, that such an experiment should be tried. The hon. Member opposite had admitted that the resolutions were good in theory, but he feared they would be bad in practice. He only hoped he should be allowed to try the experiment; and if it did not answer, let it be abandoned. With regard to the latter objection about the sitting of committees, he believed the hon. Member knew enough, from his attendance last Session, to know that, from the pressure of business, the House sat regularly in the morning; and it would be recollected that they began their proceedings by a resolution, passed every day, that the committees should have leave to sit during the sitting of the House. He hoped, therefore, that the hon. Gentleman, in deference to the experience of Members on both sides of the House, would consent to the experiment being tried.


wished to know from the hon. Gentleman whether the committees were to sit by permission of the House, or in spite of the House. Suppose the House met, and there was not a sufficient number of Members to constitute a House, were the committees also then to adjourn, because the usual resolution would not be passed, giving them leave to sit during the sitting of the House?

No answer was given to this question.


rose and said, he had been in a difficult position sometimes, through not knowing whether there was to be a House or not; but the difficulty started by the hon. Member was a real difficulty, and they ought to know what was to be done. It ought to be understood whether, on all Wednesdays, the committees were to sit or not. Government ought to state the view they had, and not leave it, as it was now, open to daily discussions. It was highly desirable that they should come to some understanding.


said, that the committees might obtain leave to sit, as before, during the sitting of the House. If there was any objection to that course, it might be stated when the difficulty arose.


said, there was this one difficulty. A Member might be on a committee, and might not be allowed to leave that committee; there might be a question before the House in which he was particularly interested; either as proposing or promoting it; and he might not be able to attend in the House to promote it. In such a case, he hoped hon. Members would be assisted as much as possible by questions being postponed, for the purpose of admitting of the attendance of those who had particular business.

Resolution agreed to, as were the following:— Resolved—That when such business has been disposed of, or at six o'clock precisely, notwithstanding there may be Business under discussion, Mr. Speaker do adjourn the House without putting any question. Resolved—That whenever the House shall be in Committee at six o'clock, the Chairman do immediately report progress, and Mr. Speaker do resume the Chair, and adjourn the House without putting any Question. Resolved—That the business under discussion, and any business not disposed of at the time of such adjournment, do stand as Orders of the Day for the next day on which the House shall sit.

House adjourned.