HC Deb 08 May 1854 vol 132 cc1407-12

then, in accordance with what he understood to be the general feeling of the House, moved that Government Orders of the Day have precedence of other Orders on Thursdays during the remainder of the Session.

Motion made, and Question proposed— That Government Orders of the Day have precedence of other Orders on Thursdays, during the remainder of the Session.


then moved the following Amendment:—That on Thursday, the 25th day of May, and on every alternate Thursday, Bills introduced by the Government, or any other Government business, shall have precedence of the other Orders of the Day till the end of the Session. He took this course because it seemed to him that the proposition made by the noble Lord was contrary to the general understanding which had been come to previous to the Easter recess. When the noble Lord moved that Orders of the Day should have precedence over Notices of Motion on Thursdays, he said distinctly that he did not wish to claim the Thursday nights for Government, but that independent Members, having charge of Bills, would then have an opportunity of bringing them forward. The consequence of this assur- ance was that two Bills introduced by private Members were set down for the two following Thursdays. He (Mr. Frewen) had one of these, which he was only prevented from bringing on before the recess by the noble Lord moving the adjournment of the House on Tuesday, instead of Wednesday or Thursday, as usual. It was not keeping good faith with hon. Members who had postponed their Bills in consequence of the assurance which the Government gave before Easter, if they were now to be thrown over. Looking back to what had been the practice in former years with respect to this point, he found that last year the House gave up the Thursdays after the Easter recess to the Government; but that in 1850, 1851, and 1852, the Government had only the alternate Thursdays. He believed that this would be sufficient for the Government, while it would give private Members an opportunity of pressing forward any Bills which they might have introduced.

Amendment proposed— To leave out from the word 'That,' to the end of the Question, in order to add the words, 'upon Thursday the 25th day of this instant May, and upon every alternate Thursday, Bills introduced by the Government, or any other Government business, shall have precedence of the other Orders of the Day till the end of the Session,'—instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed be left out stand part of the Question."


thought that if the Government were now to engross all the Thursdays to the end of the Session, it would be a despotic act and a very dangerous precedent. He hoped the noble Lord would respond to the appeal now made to him, and not insist on attempting this before the 25th of May.


thought there was much justice in the argument of the hon. Member for Sussex (Mr. Frewen); and that when he came to consider the large amount of business which was in the hands of private Members, he considered there was a claim on the Government in their behalf; and he therefore hoped the noble Lord would not press his Motion.


thought that a question of this nature ought not to be decided with reference to the position of individual Members, but should be controlled in regard to the public exigency; and when he considered what were the various subjects which the noble Lord had to bring before the House, especially in regard to Committees of Supply and of Ways and Means, be could not doubt that the noble Lord was justified in asking the extension of time which his very moderate proposition would afford him for conducting the public business.


should have viewed with no dissatisfaction the proposition of the noble Lord had he perceived that there was a disposition upon the part of the independent Members of that House to impede the business of the Government. So far from that being the case, however, he believed he was justified in saying that never had there been exhibited upon the part of those Members a more decided wish to do all in their power to facilitate that business. Besides, the period of the Session was not so far advanced as to render the Motion of the noble Lord by any means necessary. He (Mr. Newdegate) had often seen as great an amount of business stand upon the order paper at the end of the month of June as was placed upon it at the present comparatively early period of the Session; nor did he think that the course which had been taken by the noble Lord last week, with respect to the railway Bills, was such as ought to encourage the House to accede to a proposition which would enable the noble Lord to confuse the order of business upon the paper as he pleased. The Committee appointed to consider the mode of conducting the business of the House had not yet made its Report, and he thought it would be well if the House were to wait until an opportunity of discussing the recommendations of that Report should have been afforded. He believed the noble Lord did not look with satisfaction upon the notice with respect to the nomination of the Committee to inquire into the position of conventual establishments, which stood upon the paper for Thursday week. He should inform the noble Lord, however, that those who were in favour of the appointment of that Committee would be prepared to take a definite course, and he believed that so far from the public business being accelerated by the means to which the minority had resorted is order to get rid of the discussion upon that question, it would be to no inconsiderable extent impeded.


supported the original Motion.


thought considerable injustice would be done to those hon. Mem- bers who had Motions and Bills coming on upon the next two Thursdays, and he felt, therefore, that whatever arrangement might be made with reference to other parties, those who had Motions and Bills already on the paper for those two days ought to be allowed to bring them forward. He, for one, was willing to afford to the Government as much time as possible for bringing forward its measures, so that it should have no excuse for neglecting the public interest. Now, on those nights when private business only stood upon the paper he did not perceive that there was any very strong disposition upon the part of hon. Members to attend; and it was better, therefore, that those nights should to a certain extent be at the disposal of Ministers, upon whom the great burden of the public business devolved.


reminded hon. Members that this was not a question between Orders of the Day and Notices of Motion, but between certain Orders of the Day and other Orders of the Day. The reason why he made the present Motion was, that hitherto, although after Easter Orders of the Day had been fixed for Thursdays, very much on the ground of the delay which had taken place in different Sessions respecting measures, the consequence had been, that in the middle of the month of August the House had often found themselves with business that took up twelve or fifteen hours a day. He considered that a very great evil and disadvantage, as at that time only a small portion of the House was left to attend to them; and it would be desirable, if possible, not to follow the inconvenient precedents of former days. With regard to the Bills of private Members, it had been understood, when the present arrangement was made, that subjects of which the discussion was not finished on Wednesdays, might stand over to Thursdays, but, by what he considered a great abuse, hon. Gentlemen had taken possession of Thursdays, as if they were Wednesdays, so that Government would have no advantage unless they had all the Thursdays to themselves. Members were aware that, besides the functions of Government in presenting the Estimates and other branches of public business which none but Government could conduct, there were many other questions of considerable importance on which the House wished that some discussion should take place left in the hands of Ministers. It was therefore most desirable that the House should give the Government power to fix the days on which such business should be conducted, and to have precedence on those days which were appointed for Orders of the Day. If Government were to have only two days in the week, it was quite impossible that they could bring on measures of importance, or that they could do four-fifths of the business with only two-fifths of the time.


thought it only fair that the proposition of the noble Lord should not have a retrospective effect, and that notices already on the books should be exempted from its operation.


hoped the noble Lord would consider the suggestion made by the hon. Member for North Warwickshire. The existing arrangement had been proposed by the noble Lord himself, and was acceded to without discussion, and when Ministers came forward on the 8th of May and talked of the pressure of public business and the necessity of having greater facilities for its transaction, they should consider what would have been their position if they had gone on with the great measures they announced in the Speech from the Throne on the opening of the Session—he alluded to the Reform Bill and others which had disappeared in the same mysterious manner. Certainly, the noble Lord could not have expected to carry through his measures and at the same time transact the whole mass of public business without having had some definite plan of operations resolved upon in his own mind; but now he bad got rid of all those encumbrances, and the only difficulties he had encountered in obtaining supplies appeared to have been devised by his own Colleagues. He did not, therefore, consider it at all unreasonable to expect that the noble Lord would comply with the appeal that had been made to him by the hon. Member for North Warwickshire, which seemed to him a very fair and reasonable one.


said, there were two questions before them: one, whether Government should have precedence on Thursdays from that time; the other, whether Members who had got notices on the book should be guided or not by the existing rules of the House. It would be a special hardship if Members who had notices on the paper should be deprived, by an ex post facto vote of the House, of the opportunity of bringing under its notice the subjects to which they referred.


said, hon. Members would find, on examination, that Wednesdays were more open in the present Session than they had ever been; but instead of subjects being put down for that day, the Thursdays had been taken up. They would gain very little by making Thursday an Order day for the advancement of public business unless they gave the Government the complete command of the day.


said, that really so small a concession appeared to be asked from the Government that he hoped the noble Lord would not drive the House to the necessity of dividing upon it.


said, that if the House were determined that the business of the Session should be carried into August instead of terminating earlier, of course he had no choice. He would consent to make his Motion "on and after Thursday, the 25th of May," protesting at the same time, however, that the Session would be thereby unnecessarily prolonged.

Amendment and Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

OrderedThat Government Orders of the Day have precedence of other Orders on all Thursdays, after the 20th day of this instant May, during the remainder of the Session,

Back to