HC Deb 07 July 1854 vol 134 cc1384-7

said, he wished to bring under the attention of the Government a circumstance which seemed to affect the constitutional privilege of independent Members of that House. The only day on which independent Members had the op- portunity of bringing their proposals before the House was Tuesday, and on that day there were always morning sittings, so that the evening sittings were shortened, or indeed in many cases there was no House at all, because Members were tired and fatigued by the morning sitting, and he thought that it would be desirable not to make any arrangement which had a tendency to prevent Motions being brought forward by independent Members. He wished to advert to a circumstance which occurred in that House on Tuesday last. On that day the House was counted out, and he attributed that to the fact of Members being tired by the morning sitting. At the time he was disposed to find fault with the Government for so managing that the House should be counted out, but he had since been informed that the Government had nothing to do with it, but that an hon. Member took the irregular course of locking the door to prevent Members coming in to make a House. He hoped that such an occurrence would not take place again, and he appealed to the Government to make some arrangement by which there would be a possibility for independent Members to exercise their constitutional privilege.


said, he thought the hon. Gentleman who had just spoken was most unfairly treated on Tuesday evening, and that it was most indecorous in the House to have been counted out during the discussion of a Motion of so much importance. The result of that was, that the elaborate speech of the right hon. Gentleman the First Commissioner of Works (Sir W. Molesworth), which laid down principles of policy which were entirely new, went forth to the world without reply. He did think that when consequence was given to a debate by a Cabinet Minister making a speech of such importance, the Government ought to take care that it was not abruptly terminated by a "count out."


said, he fully exonerated the Government from having had anything to do with the "count out," but he thought that the opinions contained in the speech to which the hon. Gentleman (Mr. M. Milnes) had referred were of such importance that it would, in his opinion, be desirable that some other Member of the Government should state to the House if those principles were shared by the right hon. Gentleman's Colleagues.


said, he thought that the complaints which had been made with regard to morning sittings were not altogether without foundation, and he agreed that morning sittings interfered with the opportunity afforded to independent Members of bringing forward Motions, for the evening sitting was in consequence shortened by two hours. He begged to call the attention of the Government to the fact that these morning sittings might be an illustration of the proverb, "the more haste the less speed," for, if Members were deprived of the opportunity of bringing on their Motions on Tuesdays, they would take the opportunity of doing so upon going into Committee of Supply. He did not speak quite disinterestedly on this subject, as he had a Motion with regard to the Russo-Dutch loan on the paper for next Tuesday, and if he should be deprived of the opportunity of bringing on the question then, he should most certainly do so on the first night of Supply. A statement had been made to the House by the hon. Member for Dundalk (Mr. Bowyer), that on Tuesday last, when the House was counted out, means had been adopted to interfere with the free access of Members, and the House ought to know who was in fault. Was it one of the doorkeepers? If it were, he apprehended that there was cause for severe censure. He had, however, been informed that an hon. Member of that House had gone to the door, got the key and locked it, and then, having resumed his place, had called attention to the fact of there not being forty Members present. It was a very ingenious trick for a parcel of schoolboys, but he did not think that it was consistent with the dignity or character of that House.


said, that inquiry had been made, and it was discovered that the door had not been locked by any of the doorkeepers. The custom had been for the key to be left in the door, but he had given instructions, in order to prevent the repetition of such a circumstance, that for the future the key should remain in charge of the Serjeant at Arms.


said, he hoped that the door would not be locked so as to prevent Members from leaving the House.


said, that looking at the hour to which the House had sat on every Tuesday excepting last Tuesday, since morning sittings on that day had commenced, he could not think that the opportunity to private Members for bring- ing forward Motions had been much interfered with.


said, that he had made an effort against the too frequent appointment of morning sittings at this period of the Session, and he believed that every hon. Member who had lamented the loss of an opportunity of beginning or concluding a speech last Tuesday had voted against his Motion.

Motion agreed to.