having moved that the Committee on the Wakefield New Gas Bill have leave to proceed with three Members and report forthwith.
§ LORD G. BENTINCK
said, that he should oppose any proposition which involved the principle of a Committee sitting during the meeting of the House. They 1184 had a specimen of what happened at these morning meetings on last Friday. On that occasion, for a long time, not more than fifteen Members were in the House, including one Member of the Government, and three Members of the party to which the noble Lord belonged. He thought such a proceeding was highly objectionable. When the House met at Twelve o'clock, the Government obviated the constitutional principle that forty Members should be present during its sittings. When forty Members were not present, it was in the power of any Member to stop the proceedings in the House, if he thought that the business of the country could not be advantageously carried on by only fifteen Members. After four o'clock there was some security that the Government would keep a House if public business was before it. When a House was made at Twelve o'clock, and when a number of Private Committees were sitting, a dozen or score of Members rushed out of the House, and in case of a division returned and voted, without having heard what had passed. He was strongly opposed to morning sittings, as it was only a sneaking mode of getting through the business of the country. If they would meet in the morning, however, he should do his best to enforce the attendance of Members. He should oppose the present Motion.
§ LORD JOHN RUSSELL
was satisfied the noble Lord was quite mistaken as to the constitutional time of meeting, for the custom formerly was to meet at Ten o'clock in the morning, and adjourn at five or six o'clock. As the noble Lord alluded to what had taken place on Friday, he felt called upon to make a remark on the singular proceedings on the part of the noble Lord on that occasion, which he should not have referred to but for the observations of the noble Lord. It had for some time been the custom for the House, towards the end of the Session, to meet at Twelve o'clock; and he found, generally speaking, that between twelve and four the attendance was as good as between seven and nine in the evening. The noble Lord had stated that he objected to the further suspension of the Navigation Laws; and on Friday morning the question was discussed fully by the noble Lord and himself. The Custody of Offenders Bill also went through Committee, and was treated in a way apparently to give general satisfaction. This was followed by the Stock in Trade Bill, against which his hon. 1185 Friend the Member for the University of Oxford entertained some objections; but when those objections had been disposed of, he had supposed that there was no real objection to the Bill before the House passing a second reading at that time; but to the surprise of those in the House the noble Lord spoke for a lengthened period, so as to reach four o'clock, when he moved that the House he counted. If the noble Lord had succeeded in his object, there would have been no House on Friday evening to go into Committee on the Health of Towns Bill, and thus the public-business would have been impeded. There was no precedent for such a proceeding; and, above all, on the part of one who was thought to be, and who considered himself to be, the leader of a great party. He would not characterize this proceeding further. He would, however, endeavour to avoid a surprise of this kind for the future. When the noble Lord rose on Friday morning, there was no further business before the House, and it was considered as a matter of course that they might as well adjourn until Five o'clock.
§ Leave given.
§ MR. BOUVERIE moved that all Committees have leave to sit that day during the sitting of the House.
§ LORD G. BENTINCK
opposed the Motion. He objected to their proceeding with such an important measure as the Health of Towns Bill in a morning, when so many hon. Members were necessarily absent. He particularly felt this as regarded his right hon. Friend the Member for Sunder-land (Mr. Hudson), who had taken great interest in the matter, but who was obliged to be absent to-day in attendance on Her Majesty. He should resist as long as he could any Motion for allowing Committees to sit during the meeting of the House.
§ MR. NEWDEGATE
observed, that there were upwards of fifty clauses in the Bill, which contained most important enactments; and it was neither fair nor just to press such a measure in the absence of so many hon. Members. The object of the Bill was nothing more nor less than to create a great social revolution, and it was understood by very few Members in that House.
§ MR. MACKINNON
conmemned the factious opposition with which this Bill was assailed, for under the screen of opposing the sitting of Committees, the object was to obstruct its progress.
§ MR. BUCK
denied that there was any 1186 factious opposition to the measure. He protested against the system of carrying a Bill of such importance, affecting, as this did, many of the smaller boroughs most materially, at a time when few Members were present. He must urge the Government to abandon the Bill at that late period of the Session.
MR. H. BERKELEY
denied that this Bill involved a social revolution; it would only produce a cleanly revolution—in point of fact, it was soap and water against dirt. He trusted the Government would not consent to postpone the Bill.
§ MR. W. MILES
trusted his noble Friend would not press his opposition. He thought that it was objectionable to discuss such a Bill in a thin House, when there were scarcely any Members present. If this measure was not deemed absolutely necessary by the Government, he trusted that they would not press it at that late period of the Session. In saying this, however, be felt bound also to observe that the subject had been well considered throughout the country, and the principles of the Bill appeared to have been generally approved of.
§ MR. W. BROWN
stated, that under the Bill of last year not less than 30,000 poor persons had been turned out of cellars in Liverpool, where they resided, but lately the major part of these cellars had been taken possession of by the poor Irish.
§ The House divided:—Ayes 67; Noes 14: Majority 53.
|List of the AYES.|
|Aldam, W.||Ferguson, Sir R. A.|
|Arundel and Surrey, Earl of||Fitzroy, hon. H.|
|Baine, W.||Gore, hon. R.|
|Bannerman, A.||Gower, hon. F. L.|
|Barnard, E. G.||Graham, rt. hon. Sir J.|
|Berkeley, hon. H. F.||Greene, T.|
|Bernal, R.||Hawes, B.|
|Blackburne, J. I.||Heathcote, Sir W.|
|Bouverie, hon. E. P.||Hill, Lord M.|
|Brotherton, J.||Hope, G. W.|
|Brown, W.||Hutt, W.|
|Buller, E.||Lascelles, hon. W. S.|
|Burke, T. J.||Lemon, Sir C.|
|Cardwell, E.||Lincoln, Earl of|
|Christie, W. D.||Macaulay, rt. hon. T. B.|
|Colebrooke, Sir T. E.||Mackinnon, W. A.|
|Craig, W. G.||Maule, rt. hon. F.|
|Dalmeny, Lord||Miles, W.|
|Dickinson, F. H.||Morpeth, Visct.|
|Duckworth, Sir J. T. B.||Morison, Gen.|
|Dundas, Adm.||Mostyn, hon. E. M. L.|
|Dundas, Sir D.||Ogle, S. C. H.|
|Ebrington, Visct.||Pakington, Sir J.|
|Ellis, W.||Patten, J. W.|
|Estcourt, T. G. B.||Polhill, F.|
|Powlett, Lord W.||Vesey, hon. T.|
|Rich, H.||Vivian, J. H.|
|Russell, Lord J.||Walker, R.|
|Sheil, rt. hon. R. L.||Ward, H. G.|
|Smith, rt. hon. R. V.||Wood, rt. hon. Sir C.|
|Somerville, Sir W. M.||Yorke, H. R.|
|Stansfield, W. R. C.|
|Strutt, rt. hon. E.||TELLERS.|
|Thornely, T.||Tufnell, H.|
|Turner, E.||Parker, J.|
|List of the NOES.|
|Arkwright, G.||Hildyard, T. B. T.|
|Bentinck, Lord G.||Newport, Visct.|
|Buck, L. W.||Rolleston, Col.|
|Douglas, J. D. S.||Trench, Sir F. W.|
|Floyer, J.||Waddington, H. S.|
|Frewen, C. H.|
|Fuller, A. E.||TELLERS.|
|Gore, M.||Spooner, R.|
|Granby, Marq. of||Newdegate, C. N.|