HC Deb 31 July 1855 vol 139 cc1606-8

Order for Committee read.

Motion made, and Question proposed "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the chair."


said, he should oppose the Motion. The Bill was brought in, not upon the responsibility of the Government, but upon that of a private Member only. It had been brought in on the 27th of July, was read a second time immediately afterwards, and it was now proposed to go into Committee, He objected to such hurry in the case of a measure which upon all hands must be admitted to be viewed with very different feelings by different parties. The only evidence which was taken by the Select Committee which had sat on the subject was in favour of the views of those who supported the Bill, and there was, no doubt, a large mass of evidence which might have been given on the other side had it been called for. The Committee had reported that they had not time to go into further evidence, but even the evidence which had been taken had not yet been put into the hands of Members, and hence, without expressing any opinion upon the measure, he should move that the Committee be adjourned to that day three months.


seconded the Motion. He contended that the Act of last year had not had sufficient time for its effect to be tried.

Amendment proposed, to leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "this House will, upon this day three months, resolve itself into the said Committee," instead thereof.

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


said, that the present was admitted by the public at large, and must be known to every Member as a most exceptional case. Every one knew that the matter pressed for legislative interference, and it was in the recollection of all that that House itself had been put in a very false, not to say dangerous, position, through the feelings excited by the Act of last year. He had it in contemplation to move as an Amendment that public-houses be allowed to be open on Sundays from six o'clock to twelve at night. He hoped to have an opportunity of taking the sense of the House upon that proposal.


said, that the Committee, acting in what they considered a spirit of the utmost fairness and impartiality, had themselves selected the witnesses who were called before them, and after hearing the evidence of sixteen magistrates and two Commissioners of Police, they had come to the opinion that a sufficient case had been made out to justify the immediate interference of Parliament.


said, that there were many persons who had watched the working of the Act of last year who were not examined before the Committee on the Bill. Setting aside, however, any objections upon that ground, he certainly thought the evidence which was taken ought to be in the hands of Members before the Bill went into Committee.


said, he thought there was some reason in the objection that the evidence was not in the hands of hon. Members; but a postponement of the Committee for three days instead of three months would be sufficient to get out of the difficulty. He would move that the debate be now adjourned, in order to give an opportunity to hon. Members to have the evidence before them.


said, he was of opinion that the subject of the Bill was not one in which the House should lightly interfere; but, at the same time, he thought it would not be worthy of the House to repeal in one Session an Act passed in the preceding Session.


said, he had no objection to amend his Motion by moving that the Committee be taken that day week.


said, he believed that the objection of the noble Lord (the Marquess of Blandford) was to the principle of the Bill, and hence he thought that he ought to take a division upon the third reading, and not throw obstacles in the way of going into Committee.


said, he trusted that the House would pause before rejecting the Motion for going into Committee. He believed if the Motion were rejected, great agitation and discontent would be the result through the whole country.


said, he would not press his Motion for the adjournment of the debate.


said, he thought that Bills ought not to be passed which were based upon the Reports of Select Committees until the evidence in support of those Reports was in the hands of hon. Members. At the same time the present measure was a very exceptional one, and one which deserved careful consideration at the hands of the House. He certainly thought that some expression of opinion ought to be given by the Government, for upon that, he must confess, his vote would mainly depend.


said, that there could be no doubt but that the question was one with which hon. Gentlemen were well acquainted, and, as it appeared to him, it was also one upon which all could form a judgment, even without the assistance of the evidence taken before the Select Committee. The House had delegated an inquiry to a Committee; that Committee, chosen with much care, had come to a decision without much difference of opinion. Now, considering the necessity and simplicity of the subject—for it was by no means a matter of complexity—considering the lateness of the Session, and also bearing in mind the feeling of the country upon the question, he would submit that it would be the better course to go into Committee upon the Bill rather than wait for the evidence taken before the Select Committee; the more especially as the latter course might imperil the passing of the measure in the present Session of Parliament.


said, that the principal change made in the law was an extension of the time of closing from ten to eleven at night. As one of the friends of the Bill of last year he thought the change now proposed the best thing that could be done, and he did not look upon it at all in the light of a repeal of the Act.

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

The House divided:—Ayes 62; Noes 10: Majority 52.

Main Question put, and agreed to.

Bill considered in Committee.

House resumed.

Bill reported as amended.

The House adjourned at half-after Two o'clock.