HC Deb 02 April 1849 vol 104 cc148-52

on rising to bring forward his Motion, respecting Orders of the Day having precedence of Notices of Motions, wished, in the first place, to say that he thought there had been in the course of the present Session the greatest disposition evinced on the part of the House to bring the business under its consideration, whatever it might be, to a conclusion. He had, therefore, no doubt of the readiness of the House to adopt any rule which would tend to the despatch of business. It appeared to him, however, that for several years past the Government having been charged with the duty of bringing forward measures—and many of them difficult measures—relating to subjects of vast importance, had not a sufficient opportunity—there being only two days a week allotted to the Government during a considerable part of the Session—of proceeding with their business. The consequence had been, that hon. Members had asked for Bills to be proceeded with which it was utterly impossible to proceed with, owing to there being so little time allowed; and another consequence had been, that many Bills of very great importance had been brought in at a very late period of the Session, when there was no great attendance in that House, and the other House of Parliament refused to consider them on account of the lateness of the period of the Session. There had, consequently, been a very great loss of time, and no results had followed much of the labour which had been bestowed upon public business. There had, likewise, been this inconvenience—that when measures had been introduced at a late period of the Session, hon. Members having then only one day in the week for Motions, had resorted to the plan of moving amendments on going into Committee of Supply, which was a most inconvenient proceeding. It therefore appeared to him, that instead of waiting till so late a period of the Session as before, it would be desirable that one Thursday out of two, that was to say, every alternate Thursday, Orders of the Day should precede Motions. He did not moan to propose that, in every case, the Orders of the Day to be taken on Thursdays should be Government Orders of the Day. He should think that an arrangement might be made to take Bills of importance on Thursdays, though brought forward by independent Members of the House, which could not so well be taken on Wednesdays. For instance, there was the Bill now before the House involving an alteration in the law of marriage; and if that Bill could be taken on a Thursday, much advantage would be gained from the circumstance that so important a debate would not be interrupted by the Speaker's leaving the chair at a fixed hour. He now wished to say a few words with regard to the business before the House. With regard to the Bill respecting oaths to be taken by Members of Parliament, he proposed to proceed with it on Monday the 30th of the present month. He should hope that the House would agree, without any discussion, to the report on the navigation laws; and if so, with the concurrence of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Stamford, he should propose to fix the third reading of the Bill for the 23rd of April. With regard to the Kate in Aid Bill, he should hope that the debate would close to-night, so that they might come to a division on the second reading. In that event, as the notice which he had given of a Motion for a large advance, would excite some discussion, and the hon. Member for Kerry meant to propose the alternative of an income tax, he would fix Monday the 16th inst., for the debate on this proposition. Of course, it was desirable that the relations under which immediate relief must be given to Ireland should be settled as soon as possible, because every one knew that May, June, and July were the months of the greatest suffering, and he should be very sorry that the decision of the House should be delayed in such a manner that relief could not be given to those who most wanted it.

Motion made, and Question proposed— That, upon Thursday, the 19th day of this instant April, and every alternate Thursday following, Orders of the Day have precedence of Notices of Motions.


said, that after the experience of last Session he doubted very much whether the proposed encroachment on the privileges of independent Members was calculated to produce a beneficial effect. It would, he thought, be much better for the noble Lord to try the experiment of allowing hon. Members to get through all the leading Motions as speedily as possible. That would, he believed, afford a much better chance of getting satisfactorily through the business. He put it to the noble Lord whether he had not better content himself with the alternate Thursdays after the middle of June. The noble Lord should remember that the independent Members had deprived themselves of a second opportunity of proposing amendments to the Supply, which was a ground for refusing to allow any further entrenching on the privileges of the House. The hon. Member proposed then, as an Amendment, to substitute for "the 19th day of April," "the 31st day of May," adding, that he should not object to the noble Lord's having every Thursday after May for Government business.

Amendment proposed, to leave out the words "19th day of this instant April," in order to insert the words "31st day of May next," instead thereof.


said, that what the hon. Gentleman proposed would leave the inconvenience of former years unremoved.


observed, that one argument in favour of the Amendment was, that at a late period of the Session independent Members had a difficulty in making a House,


wished to know whether, if he withdrew his Amendment, the noble Lord would be contented with every second Thursday at the latest period of the Session?


hoped they would be sufficient, but circumstances might arise at an advanced period of the Session when it would be perhaps necessary for the Government to ask the House to grant them every Thursday; at the same time there were some measures of great public importance which, perhaps, ought not to be superseded by the pressure of Government Bills. As far as he was concerned, he should not resist the progress of the Marriage Bill introduced by the right hon. and learned Member for Buteshire.


said, if the noble Lord had no objection, he should propose to go on with that measure on the 3rd of May.


replied, that he should not stand in his way.


said, he had observed that a notice of Motion had been given for the following day, in reference to the affairs of the Punjaub. To him it appeared that as the President of the Board of Control had received no fresh papers, and as intelligence had been received that day, which would probably be presented in a more perfect state in the course of two or three days, any discussion of the affairs of the Punjaub would be premature and inconvenient.


said, the House had then before them the Motion of the noble Lord at the head of the Government. He would be the last person in the House to stand in the way of any good arrangement for the Government business; but it must be recollected that those Members who were called independent had been surrendering their privileges one by one. The person who was most guilty in that respect was his hon. Friend the Member for Montrose. Previous to last Session, any hon. Member had a right to call attention to any grievance on the Orders of the Day; and his hon. Friend, in order to cut off that privilege, brought forward a Motion, the success of which he probably now regretted. The noble Lord had formerly deprecated the idea that the Executive Government were to be the initiators of every measure. That formed an additional argument to assist the Motion. He regarded the Motion as an assault on the privileges of independent Members; and he believed it would be found that when an hon. Gentleman had a notice on the Paper for the open night, if he were not connected with the Government party, or some other great party, he would be treated with the dismal expedient of a count out.


said, that the noble Lord the Member for London, by his answer to the hon. Member for Montrose, had appeared to indicate that he did not intend to ask for the other Thursdays during the remainder of the Session. He could understand the noble Lord's not being willing to enter into a pledge, as there might be an absolute necessity for an additional day; but, under ordinary circumstances, the noble Lord would not, he understood, consider it necessary to take more than the alternate Thursday—nor was his object to avoid subjects which might be unpalatable to the Government.




said, he was perfectly aware that a Minister must be guided by circumstances. He would, therefore, withdraw his Amendment.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question." Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Main Question put and agreed to.