HC Deb 14 March 1849 vol 103 cc687-8

begged to address a few words to the House, respecting the count out on the previous night. He did not dispute the right of hon. Members to absent themselves if they pleased; but so far as public time was concerned, of which they had recently heard a great deal, he certainly was of opinion that it would be quite as well if there was not a count out on important occasions. They were, the night before, within only one of making a House, and therefore the opportunity was ill-timed for putting forth what must be considered at best as a most invidious rule. He did not complain of the conduct of the hon. Member who had moved the counting of the House on that occasion, and he was most willing to admit that the Government had done all they could, and that they were most anxious to keep forty Members present. The whole discussion on Van Diemen's Land would probably not have occupied more than an hour and a half; and he had gone through half his statement at the time the adjournment took place. But though he did not complain of the conduct of hon. Members, he felt aggrieved by the manner in which some of the officers of the House had acted. He knew not who those officers were, but he alluded to those of them whose duty it was to ring the bell. He understood that the bell had not been rung in one of the neighbouring rooms—namely, the smoking-room. He was also informed by his hon. and gallant Friend, the Member for Portarlington that it had not been rung in the library; and the consequence of these omissions was, that twenty or thirty hon. Gentlemen who were in the smoking-room and library, ready for the purpose of keeping up a House, knew nothing of the count out until the bell was rung for the adjournment—a bell which the officers took especial good care to ring at the proper moment. He thought a discretion should not be given to these individuals to decide as they pleased whether an independent Member should or should not be allowed to occupy public attention. He begged to give notice that he would submit by way of amendment, on Friday next, in Committee of Supply the Motion, which must now be considered as one of the dropped orders of the previous day.

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