HC Deb 08 August 1853 vol 129 cc1463-9

moved that on Wednesday next the Government Orders of the Day should have precedence until three o'clock.

Motion made, and Question put, "That the Government Orders of the Day have precedence on Wednesday next till Three o'clock."


said, he thought it would be better that the Government Orders should have precedence throughout the whole of the day, and that the words "until three o'clock" should be omitted from the Motion.

Amendment proposed, to leave out the words "till Three o'clock."


said, that it was impossible to mistake the intention and object of the Motion made by the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell), when the House considered the nature of the notice which stood first for Wednesday next, that was, the Recovery of Personal Liberty Bill, second reading, upon which an Amendment had virtually been adopted by the House for the appointment of a Committee to inquire into the system and practices of Conventual Establishments. The noble Lord and the Government had been in a minority on that subject on the 22nd of July, and the object of the noble Lord was to render the ratification of the decision of the House in favour of an inquiry into convents impossible; the noble Lord, in fact, brought the weight of the official votes, which were at the command of the Government, to destroy the last remnant of sphere for independent action, which remained to the House. For the House had, at the instance of the Government, yielded first Thursdays to Government business, had then consented to morning sittings, then, on other days of the week, to the exclusion of Members engaged on Committees upstairs, and had at last yielded Tuesdays also, until the only days of the week which remained for the business introduced by independent Members were Wednesdays, the morning sittings on which were limited to terminate at six o'clock. The noble Lord now proposed to take away half the six hours in the week which remained for the discussion and decision of measures introduced by Members not of the Government. The noble Lord's proposal was merely limited to the first three hours, in order to conceal the fact that he intended to abrogate the last remaining opportunity for independent action on the part of the House. He (Mr. Newdegate) therefore preferred the more manly and direct abnegation of the right of independent Members, proposed by the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Bouverie), and upon that as raising the true issue would take the sense of the House. The noble Lord was perfectly aware of the difficulties with which those who desired a solution of this question, by a decision of the House, had to contend. Those who took an interest in a question which stood first on the Orders for Wednesday, were seeking, as the noble Lord was perfectly aware, merely to terminate the discussion on that question by a fair debate, and to enable the House to record its opinion distinctly, as he (Mr. Newdegate) had reason to hope, in favour of an inquiry into conventual establishments. A party which adopted practices at variance with the efficient action of Parliament had told them that they were to be defeated by delay. That was a party organised in such a manner (he meant the party called the Irish Brigade) as constituted them, though in the House, scarcely a part of the House; who aimed at commanding the House by an obstructive minority. They might create delay, but with a fair six hours before them, it must become obvious to the country, after three previous discussions on this subject, that the delay they would practise would be simply an attempt to defeat the legitimate action of Parliament, and such conduct would meet with just reprobation. The House could spare the time to test this issue, for on Friday last there were forty-two Bills before the House of Lords; there were thirty-one on their way to it; and all that was asked was, that during the leisure which the House of Commons had shown it had when it had decided on having a holiday on Thursday, the discussion on a question which had stood long on the Votes should be brought fairly to an end. If the proposal of the noble Lord were adopted, the debate, which by courtesy he (Mr. Newdegate) ought to open, would be again interrupted, as it had been before. Seeing, therefore, that the noble Lord was determined to deprive the House of all independent action, he would divide the House on the issue as raised by the Amendment.


said, there would be less difficulty in acceding to the proposal of the noble Lord (Lord J. Russell), if he would afford facilities for the termination of that discussion on some other day. An hon. Member, who, like him, had brought before the House a question of that character, had serious responsibility imposed upon him, and could not consent to the indefinite postponement of the decision of the House with respect to it.


said, he would readily agree to the Amendment of the hon. Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Bouverie), especially after the statement of the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate), so that Government orders should take precedence during the whole of Wednesday.


preferred the Amendment, merely because it was more direct than the Motion.


thought it a sufficient reason for taking the Bills brought forward by the Government, and others which might require consideration with a view to their being passed, that this was the month of August. It was the only chance of seeing those Bills carried into law with a satisfactory result. He supported the Motion, that the question relating to Nunneries should come to a fair decision; but the House decided by a majority that the question as to reading that Bill a second time should not be Confirmed. The real question, then, was not as to that Bill, which had been completely set aside, but as to the appointment of a Select Committee; and he put it to the House whether there was any use in going into that question at this time of the year? It might be advisable that the House should come to a decision on a question of importance which had been brought before it, and that they should not allow their time to be wasted by long debates, so that no decision could be arrived at; but if they were to make a struggle for that purpose, he thought again that it ought not to be wade in the month of August. There was no chance of success in that struggle, even if they took the whole of Wednesday; and for that reason he should advise the hon. Gentleman (Mr. T. Chambers) to make the attempt, if he wished to try it, in February, and not in August.


said, he agreed with his hon. Friend and Colleague (Mr. Newdegate) that, if there was to be an alteraation with respect to the order of business on Wednesday, he should prefer having the subject of Nunneries wholly postponed. If hon. Members were animated with the spirit which ought to actuate all of them—namely, a desire not to create delay, but to discuss the subject fairly, they might bring the debate to a conclusion on Wednesday. The noble Lord took credit to himself for having voted in favour of the proposition of the hon. and learned Member for Hertford, and cast blame on the Opposition. The noble Lord's memory, he apprehended, was at fault.


said, he must explain that what he had said was, that he wished a fair decision—not that he voted for the proposition of the hon. and learned Gentleman.


said, he thought the Motion nothing but an attempt on the part of the noble Lord to put an end to a discussion which he dared not meet, but which the country demanded. The noble Lord, in the Charitable Trusts Bill, had ex- empted Homan Catholics from inquiry into their charities; and now he said there should be no inquiry into their nunneries. Those were acts quite in accordance with the spirit which the noble Lord had shown of late—the disposition to aid and abet those whom he ought to control. They were acts which were totally inconsistent with the well-timed and well-written letter called "the Durham Letter." The public ought to know at least who wished to have inquiry, and who wished to stop inquiry. He hoped his hon. Friend would divide the House to show who were sincerely desirous to have inquiry.


said, he very much doubted the sincerity of the hon. Gentleman who had just sat down. Was it fair on almost the last day of the Session to urge a renewal of the discussion on this Bill? What he (Mr. Hume) should desire in the situation of the hon. Gentleman would be, that a full and fair inquiry should be made. The time for discussion would be when that inquiry was moved for.


said, he also doubted the sincerity of the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Spooner), who spoke of discussing the subject at the very time when country Gentlemen and independent Gentlemen were leaving the House.


said, he could not allow the impression to go forth, that hon. Members at his part of the House shrunk from the discussion of this subject. So far from being unwilling, he was anxious to discus it, and he would tell the House the reason why, personally, he was anxious to discus the question. He was anxious to call the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate) to account for certain statements which the hon. Gentleman made on former occasions when he (Mr. Lucas) had not an opportunity of answering. If he did not think it most absurd that the House should spend next Wednesday in a discussion which could end in nothing, he should wish to have a discussion. It would be affectation in him not to understand the allusion to a party of whom the hon. Gentleman spoke as being banded together, and as acting contrary to Parliamentary precedent. He (Mr. Lucas) was sure that the party with which he was connected has not conducted itself in a manner inconsistent with Parliamentary usage or practice. If the hon. Gentleman alleged an intention of talking this question out, the noble Lord had given an answer by reference to a discussion in a previous Session, when an example was set from the Opposition side of the House. Had the hon. Member been in the house when the Edinburgh Annuity Tax Bill was brought forward, he would have seen that it was "talked out." That was done from the Opposition side, with a distinctly avowed intention, known to every Member at the time, of not allowing the House to come to a division on the subject. He (Mr. Lucas) should be the last person to take any unfair advantage of the forms of the House to produce an unfair result. He confidently appealed on that point to any Gentleman who paid any attention to the course he had taken since he had entered the House. To proceed at an early period of the Session, when it was possible not only that a division might be arrived at, but that some result might be drawn from that division, and, if the House were to appoint a Committee, the Committee could enter into and conclude an inquiry, was a very different thing from dealing with a Motion made at this time of the Session, when a decision for the appointment of a Committee would only have, as respected the convents, the result of an adverse decision, without there being any possibility if inquiry, and would therefore only give a false colour to the Motion of such inquiry.


begged to explain that the allusion he had made to a party which had a peculiar organisation, and was confirmed by a speech made in Ireland by the hon. Member for Mayo. [And was proceeding, when cries of "Order!" and "Chair!" were raised from the Ministerial benches, and Mr. Speaker interfered.] The hon. Member begged to intimate that he had proceeded on statements made by the hon. Member for Mayo, and Dr. M'Hale, at a dinner, in Ireland, which speeches he had quoted to the House on a former occasion in the presence of the hon. Member for Mayo (Mr. G. H. Moore), a well-known member of the Brigade, who had never impugned the correctness of the report he (Mr. Newdegate) had read to the House; that report of the hon. Member's speech gave the description of the party to which he had alluded, and of that party the hon. Member for Meath (Mr. Lucas) was a member. He begged to refer the hon. Member to that report as his explanation of the allusion which he (Mr. Newdegate) had made when he addressed the House.


said, he held very strong views on this question himself. The practical question, however, was, what was the use of spending Wednesday, the 10th of August, in a discussion that would lead to no practical result?


said, that no Catholic Member would shrink from a discussion when so many monstrous assertions had been made by hon. Members who had been led away by their imaginations.

Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question," put, and negatived.

Main Question, as amended, put.

The House divided:—Ayes 105; Noes 52: Majority 53.

Resolved—"That Government Orders of the Day have precedence on Wednesday next."