HC Deb 17 June 1850 vol 111 cc1404-5

Sir, there is a subject to which the House will perhaps allow me to call its attention, although I do not at present intend to give any notice of Motion with regard to it. It is a subject worthy of the attention of this House; and if I find that there is a general opinion in the House in conformity with what I have to state, I shall certainly propose some alterations in our orders with respect to it. I allude to the manner in which addresses from this House to the Crown are agreed upon. The House is aware that on any subject that requires to be legislated upon, whether it be a question of finance or a subject of general legislation, the House has an opportunity of considering and deciding upon that subject on more than one occasion; so that if any resolution of the House with regard to it does not appear to have the consent of the majority in its favour, the House can afterwards, at a subsequent stage of the proposition, reverse its proceedings. Now, with respect to addresses to the Crown, the case, it is well known, is entirely different; because when an address is moved, and has once been carried, it is immediately ordered that certain Members of the House shall present that address to Her Majesty. The consequence is that the advisers of the Crown must either advise the Crown to comply immediately with that address, or should they advise the Crown not to comply, it tends certainly to a breach between the House of Commons and the Crown, which it is desirable to avoid except on very grave occasions. Of course Her Majesty's advisers can advise Her Majesty not to comply with the address; but they are not very likely to do that. It seems to me, therefore, that it would be advisable, in order to place addresses to the Crown on the same footing as other proceedings of this House, that we should pursue the course with regard to any such address, whenever it is proposed, which we should pursue with respect to addresses to the Crown in answer to the Queen's Speech on the first day of the Session. In that case, when an address is agreed to in this House, it is moved that it be referred to a Select Committee to make a report on the following day, and that report is then taken into consideration. This course, therefore, gives the House another opportunity of discussing and reconsidering the question. As I have said, I will not give a notice of Motion on this subject; but I wish hon. Gentlemen to consider whether by general agreement—for I do not expect a contest on such a point—we may not make some alteration in the Orders of this House to the effect which I have now stated.

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