HC Deb 06 May 1853 vol 126 cc1240-5

having taken the Chair,


said: Sir, a point of order having been raised in the Committee, and the hon. Gentleman who was in the Chair not having long occupied that situation, it has been thought right by some Members of the House that your opinion, Sir, should be appealed to as to that point of order. The hon. Member for Mayo, who raised the point, will perhaps state to you what it is.


Sir, when the Committee adjourned this morning, an consequence of the interruption which hid taken place owing to certain expressions which had been used by the hon. Member for New Ross, which expressions were taken exception to, you will recollect that a Motion had been made to take down those words, and that Motion was acceded to, the Chairman reported progress, and asked leave to sit again, and you occupied the Chair. The other circumstances which followed when you, Sir, were in the Chair last night and this evening, I need not, of course, recall to your recollection. Today, on the question connected with the case of the hon. Member for New Ross being disposed of, Mr. Bouverie was again called to the Chair. It is my opinion, and it is also the opinion of other hon. Members whom I have consulted, that according to the usual forms of the House the hon. Member for New Ross was virtually in possession of the Committee, just as any hon. Member who is in possession of the House on a Wednesday when it adjourns at six o'clock is still in possession on the following Thursday, when the House again meets, should the debate be continued on that day. Under these circumstances, my opinion, and that of many other hon. Members, is, that it was Mr. Bouverie's duty, according to the usual practice, to call on the hon. Member for New Ross again to address the House. But instead of doing so Mr. Bouverie put the question. It was put by him amidst considerable confusion in the House, and a great number of hon. Members did not even know that it had been put. That matter, however, is irrelevant to the point of order which I have raised. The point which I wish to press is simply this—that it was the duty of Mr. Bouverie, as Chairman of the Committee, to have called on the hon. Member for New Ross, he being, at the time the interruption took place, in possession of the Committee.


Sir, I am exceedingly anxious to set myself right with the House, and I can assure hon. Members that if I have made any mistake it was altogether unintentional. I have no desire but to act according to the rules of the House. The question was put that you, Sir, leave the Chair. When you did leave the Chair, many hon. Members were about to leave the House. I went into the Chair. I do not recollect having called "Order, order;" but I put the ques- tion. I read the previous report of the Resolution down to certain words; I then put the question as it had been moved by the hon. Member for Clonmel (Mr. Lawless), and fully expected that some hon. Member would have risen to speak, and I looked round on both sides of the House to see if any Member would do so—but I saw no one. I took the voices of the Committee. I hesitated about it; and while I did so the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Droitwich (Sir J. Pakington) hesitatingly asked me what was the question. I repeated the question before the Committee, and again took the voices upon it, again rather hanging on the question, fully expecting that some one was going to speak. I am not aware that it was my duty to call any hon. Member from his seat, if he did not rise to address the Committee. The voices were taken, and now it appears that some hon. Members think me wrong in the course I have adopted. I can only say I regret if any hon. Member has been taken by surprise. My solo object, as I have said, is to act according to the rules of the House, and if I have fallen into any mistake I am exceedingly sorry for it.


Sir, as the hon. Member has alluded to me, perhaps I may venture to address the House for a moment; and I rise because it appears to me that another question of practice, well worthy of your attention, arises from what has occurred. I am sure the noble Lord and the Government will admit, as well as any hon. Gentleman present, that it is very much to be regretted that a question so deeply affecting the interests of the Irish people as this does should be decided by anything like a surprise. In saying this I am imputing no censure to the hon Member for Kilmarnock (Mr. Bouverie), who, I am sure, intended only to do his duty in the chair. But he has not long occupied the chair of our Committees, and I therefore venture to submit, with great humility, to him and to the House, that on all occasions that rule should be observed which I think, Sir, is invariably your rule, namely, that no question ought to be put until silence and order have been obtained. It is quite essential that when questions involving such great interests are put from the chair, every hon. Member within these walls should know what is the question submitted to him. Upon the occasion in question, so much confusion pvevailed, and there was so much noise in the House, that although the hon. Gentleman says I asked the question, and he answered me, I must really state that I did not know in what position we stood, and I fully expected to see the hon. Member for New Ross rise and commence the discussion.


Sir, the statement which the hon. Gentleman the Chairman of the Committee has made as to what occurred, is to me completely new. I was not aware of one-third of what has been stated' by the hon. Member. I had turned to the hon. Member for New Ross, stating that the question was about to be put, and that as soon as the hon. Gentleman had ceased reading he would call upon him, which I understood would be the case. But we did not hear one single word from the hon. Gentleman. We were perfectly unaware of the question being put, until we heard him call "aye" and "no." It was under these circumstances that I entered my protest. Feeling that it was a surprise on the House, we felt it our duty to leave without giving a vote.


The question put to me, as I understand it, is this:—whether the hon. Member for New Ross, not having risen in his place to address the Committee, the Chairman ought to have called upon him by name before he put the question. Now, unless the hon. Member for New-Ross rose in his place and addressed the Chairman, the Chairman was at perfect liberty to put the question. According to the practice of the House, when any hon. Member moves the adjournment of a debate, he is said to be in possession of the House; but it is not on that account that the Speaker calls on that hon. Member, when the question is put on the resumption of the debate, because unless he rises and addresses the Chair, it is not the duty of the Speaker to call upon him. It often happens, indeed, when a Member moves the adjournment of a debate, he does not take advantage of his privilege of opening the debate on the following night. The Speaker does not call upon that Member to address the House merely because he moved the adjournment, unless he rises in his place when the question is put. If, however, he rises in his place when the question is put, and another Member rises at the same time he is entitled to precedence; but that depends upon the hon. Member himself, who ought to rise in his place, if he wishes to claim any privilege.


In consequence of what has fallen from the hon. Member for Roscommon (Mr. F. French), I wish to say one word. The hon. Member made use of the word ',we," and said the reason we left the House was that the question was not put. Now, whether the question was put or not, makes no difference to me. I knew what the question was whenever it might be put, and I wish to state in my place that I left the House, and I believe I was the first Irish Member outside the House, because I did not believe the Motion of the hon. Member for Clonmel to be one worthy of any notice whatever.


I must remind the hon. Member that there is no question before the House.


I move that the House do now adjourn.


The rules of the House having been clearly stated, I beg to move that you, Sir, do now leave the chair.


I am about; to move that this House do now adjourn. There is no Member who would have recorded his vote on the main question with regard to the extension of the income tax to Ireland more readily than myself. But I left the House under the impression that the hon. Member for New Ross would be called upon to speak. I was aware, also, that not less than twenty Irish Members intended to address the House on the subject. I could not for one moment imagine that the question would have been put without giving ample time for discussion. I merely wish to set myself right with my friends in Ireland, and more particularly with my constituents, who are more interested in the subject than any other constituency in Ireland. [Much confusion and interruption prevailed throughout, the discussion.]


I hope I have never been ashamed of expressing my opinion and voting conscientiously. I must say that on this occasion, amidst the confusion which prevailed, it was impossible for any Member to go out of the House at all; at least I could not. I would not vote with Her Majesty's Government, because I have always been apposed to the income tax in every shape. But I do say, that, although I do not sanction the income tax at all in any shape or in any way, I confess, if I had been in my place, I should have said that I do think, under existing circumstances, and considering the conduct of the Irish Members, they deserve to be called upon to pay a treble income tax. I could not conscientiously vote with the Government. If I could have helped myself, I would not have voted at all. But it was morally impossible to get out of the House. I rose to say that I am amongst those Members who could not hear the Chairman put the question. So far as I am concerned, I would saddle the Irish Members with the income tax ten times over.


Sir, you have been appealed to on a point of order, and having given that opinion, I think we ought not to enter into the discussion of another matter, keeping you in the chair. I think the House ought at once to permit you to leave the chair, and that the proceedings of the Committee ought to be at once resumed.


I quite agree with what has just fallen from the hon. Baronet. It was the noble Lord himself who broke the contract, because he jumped up when I was in the act of addressing the House. I merely wish to explain why I went outside the House. I went because I did not choose to vote on the Motion of the hon. Member for Clonmel. I think that the hon. Member—


Sir, I rise to order. When a division has already taken place on the Motion, I wish to ask you whether it is usual for a Member who did not speak during the discussion to get up and impute motives to the Member who proposed the Motion.


I have no doubt whatever that the hon. Member cannot now raise a question in the House with reference to a matter which has passed in a Committee of the House; because, until that Committee has made its report, the House is not in possession of information on the. subject. It is quite clear that all allusion to anything which has passed in a Committee of the House, except with reference to the point of order, is decidedly irregular.

The question, That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair, was put, and agreed to.