HC Deb 10 July 1855 vol 139 cc744-9

MR. ROEBUCK rose, pursuant to notice, to move. "That this House be called over upon Tuesday, the 17th instant." He would consult the convenience of the House by being as brief as possible. He thought his Motion would commend itself to every Member who considered the question he proposed to bring before the House on Tuesday next to be an important one. It was a question which concerned the present Administration, the conduct of a large body of political men, and the interests of the army. It was for the interest of the army that its affairs should be properly watched over. A Committee of that House had been appointed to inquire into the conduct of those whose duty it was to minister to its wants. That conduct had been condemned by the Committee so appointed, and he wanted to ask the House whether they agreed with the Report of the Committee. A more important question could not be put to them, and, considering the circumstances under which he put it, he thought he should best discharge his duty by moving for a call of the House.


seconded the Motion.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House be called over on Tuesday next."


did not rise to object personally to the Motion, though he believed it would be perfectly inefficient for its purpose. If carried, an hour and a half or two hours would be wasted on Tuesday evening; and, though, hon. Members would be obliged to attend to answer to their names, the hon. and learned Gentleman would be unable to secure their presence at the division. If a Member was not present, he would only be ordered to attend in his place on some future day. He hoped the Motion would be withdrawn.


concurred in the observations of the noble Lord, believing that the Motion, while it would not effect the object for which it was intended, would put many hon. Members to great inconvenience. There was, undoubtedly, a large number of Members in town at present; but a few were absent, some attending to the duties of the militia, others upon matters of more or less importance and urgency, and it must be inconvenient to those Gentlemen to be brought back to London at this time. He also thought that the notice was most unusually short. To have a call of the House a very few days after the Motion was made, appeared to be unfair to those hon. Members who were absent from town. It had been the custom to give ten or eleven days' notice. But what would happen when the call took place? The hon. and learned Gentleman wished to have a large division; but he would not accomplish that object by this Motion, because, hon. Members having stayed in the House for an hour or two, and answered to their names, would go away as soon as the call was over, and, very probably, would not be present at the division. Moreover, by occupying a considerable portion of time, the call would probably lead to the adjournment of the debate; and, seeing that two notices of Motion had been given, both of which were, in fact, notices of want of confidence in the Government, and that one of them was to be taken up on Friday next, when, judging from former precedents, the discussion would be adjourned—thus rendering it doubtful whether or not the Motion of the hon. and learned Gentleman could be taken on the day proposed—it seemed to him that the effect of the latter was very much impaired by the great importance of the Motion of which notice had been given that evening; and that it was therefore unnecessary to proceed with the proposition now before the House. He had observed, that a call of the House was always given up when the evening arrived; generally, indeed, it was a mere delusion; and he would suggest to the hon. and learned Gentleman whether, considering the large number of Members now in town, and the great inconvenience he would cause to those who were compelled to be absent, it would not be better to depart from his intention to have a call of the House.


supported the Motion. It was not right that half the Members should be absent on such an occasion; he therefore considered, that at the present juncture the Motion was a proper one; its object was to bring the representatives of the people together for the purpose of giving an opinion upon a most important question, and he hoped his hon. and learned Friend would take the sense of the House upon his present Motion.


hoped that the hon. and learned Member for Sheffield would not press his Motion to a division. His proposition, if carried, would put a number of hon. Members to great inconvenience. The appearance of the House showed that there were plenty of Members in town, and if, as he conceived, the Motion to be brought forward on Tuesday next was an important one, there would sure to be a good attendance. Looking to the present circumstances and to the history of Motions of this sort, which had turned out to be utterly futile, he saw little use in pressing this Motion to a division.


said, that he was very sorry to give the House any trouble, but he thought he should be able to show them good reasons for the course he proposed. The noble Lord the Member for Totness (Lord Seymour) had said, that the time was too short, but he (Mr. Roebuck) found in May's Law and Practice of Parliament, under this head, that— When the House of Commons is ordered to be called over, it is usual to name a day which will enable the Members to attend from all parts of the country. The interval between the order and the call has varied from one day to six weeks. Now, if that was the rule at a time when the means of communication were not so rapid as at present, when there were no railroads and no electric telegraph, he thought that, considering the distance had been lessened by railroad, and that time might be lessened also, seven days was quite enough between the order and the call. The authority he had cited proceeded:— If it be really intended to enforce the call, not less than a week or ten days should intervene between the order and the day named for the call. He, therefore, thought that he had followed very accurately the rule laid down. He would state candidly the reason why he made this Motion. It had been mentioned to him more than once, that attempts had been made—he would not say by whom, but the House would very readily understand by whom—to persuade Members to leave town. On that ground, appealing to ancient precedent, and taking his stand on the ancient practice of the House, he had proceeded to give notice of the present Motion. It was the only defence he had against the artifices of those who wished to deprive him of the means of testing the opinion of the House upon his Motion which stood for Tuesday; and, when hon. Members told him that he was harassing other hon. Members, and that at the same time it would be of no avail, he did not think they were stating that which was quite correct. If Members were brought into the House, the importance of the question would keep them there; but, if they were subjected to the influences to which he had alluded, the question would be robbed of its due support, and the country would also be robbed of the expression of opinion of hon. Members upon it. It was on those grounds, and not because he wished to annoy any hon. Member, that he made his Motion. He desired that this great question—for a great one it was—should have that consideration which it demanded, and that the House should carefully decide on the fate of a great army, and upon the conduct of that Administration whose duty it was to watch over that army. He therefore confidently appealed to the patriotism of the House, as the representatives of the people, to grant him the call which he asked, and then to take a constitutional mode of securing the attendance of hon. Members on the occasion in question.

Question put:—

The House divided:—Ayes 108; Noes 133: Majority 25.

House adjourned at a Quarter after One o'clock.