HC Deb 15 March 1847 vol 90 cc1337-9

reminded the House that a Committee had been appointed last year, at the instance of the hon. Member for Inverness, on the subject of railway communication, and that Committee sat until about the end of August. At the end of August a nominal report was made, and the evidence also reported. He had been told, and he believed it to be true, that that was not the report of the Committee, and that in point of fact it was only a sketch prepared by the hon. Member for Inverness of his own opinions, and that he had received no authority for preparing it from the Committee. It was desirable that the facts should be known, and the House and the country put in possession of them.


should be happy—as far as the circumstances came within his knowledge—to answer the inquiries of the noble Lord. The last meeting but one of the Committee, at which he (Mr. Gibson) was present, was held on the 7th August. On that occasion certain resolutions were submitted to the Committee, and were considered, amended, and agreed to by the Committee. Those resolutions were, on the 7th of August, reported to the House, accompanied by the evidence, and which, up to that time, he believed, had not been reported. A fortnight after the 7th of August—on the 25th of August—the Committee was summoned to meet again; but no one, he believed, attended with the exception of the Chairman of the Committee, the hon. Member for Inverness. They were certainly unable to make a quorum; he believed, in fact, no Member was present but the Chairman himself. On that occasion, as he was informed, a draft report was laid upon the Table, and a minute was made by the clerk of that proceeding. Afterwards it appeared, by the Votes of the House, that the draft report which was laid on the Table by the hon. Member for Inverness, had been reported formally to that House, as if it had been the report of the Committee. It was not for him to say how such a circumstance had arisen; he knew only from the Votes of the House that such a report had been made; and, so far as he was concerned, not having been present, he could not be a party to that report.


said, it was now supposed to be the report of the Committee, and it should be stated to the public that it was not the report of the Committee, but the report of the hon. Member for Inverness. It was of importance that the House should set the matter right, because he saw that report quoted as an authority, not only on their own journals, but elsewhere.


, on finding that his name was put down as present on the day when this report was said to have been agreed to, saw the clerk on the subject, and asked him on what authority his name had been so put down, and whether a draft of the report had been submitted to the Committee? and his answer was, that neither he (Mr. Hume) nor any of the other members of the Committee, with the exception of the Chairman, had been present, and that he had made the report at the desire of the Chairman; and accordingly it stood on the records of the House as the report of the Committee. Now, he, for one, never saw the draft, and could not agree to it. On the contrary, he considered that it would be absolutely necessary that a Committee should be appointed to ascertain how that report came into the Journals of the House, and how it should be removed. He believed, however, it would be found that the whole affair had arisen from irregularity caused by the inexperience of the hon. Member for Inverness and the clerk of the Committee.


thought, that as the hon. Member for Inverness was not present, they could not ascertain exactly the nature of the circumstances which had taken place.


had had his attention called to this subject early in the Session, and he had ascertained from the clerk of the Committee that on the last day for which it was summoned, no other member of the Committee attended but the hon. Member for Inverness. A report, however, was made up by the hon. Member himself, who was Chairman of the Committee; and unfortunately, owing to the inexperience of the clerk, the document with the evidence was reported to the House. It appeared that the Chairman had made out a draft of the report to lay before the Committee; but the hon. Member could not do this, because there was no Committee sitting. No report that was not put first to the members of a Committee, and confirmed by that Committee, could be presented or received as a report by that House. This was not attended to in the present case, so that nothing could be more irregular than that this document should appear as the report of the Committee. In these circumstances, it was a question for the House to consider whether the better course would not be to reappoint the Committee.

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