HC Deb 02 July 1857 vol 146 cc769-72

said, he hoped that the House would permit him to move the Resolution of which he had given notice with respect to the issue of a New Writ in the case of a seat being declared vacant on the grounds of Bribery or Treating, and which was in the following terms— That in all cases when the seat of any Member has been declared void by an Election Committee on the grounds of Bribery or Treating, no Motion for the issuing of a New Writ shall be made without seven days' previous notice being given in the Votes. He thought it was desirable that the Resolution should pass at once, and without waiting till the Orders of the Day had been disposed of, because several Election Committees were now investigating charges of bribery and corruption preferred against several hon. Members, and would shortly make their Reports to the House. A similar Resolution (with the exception of the seven days' notice) was agreed to in the Session of 1847, and in that of 1853 a Resolution requiring, at the suggestion of the noble Lord the Member for the City of London (Lord J. Russell), seven days' notice was adopted with respect to the issuing of new writs. He (Mr. Duncombe) thought that he might claim as a matter of privilege to move the Resolution before the Orders of the Day were proceeded with.


I do not think the hon. Member is entitled to claim as a matter of privilege to introduce the Motion at this hour, and out of the due course of business. It is quite true that a Resolution similar to this has been passed in former times; and I do not speak as to the substance of the Resolution, which may be proper, but merely as to the Order of the House. The issue of a writ is a matter of privilege, because it is one of the duties of the House to see that its numbers are complete; but this Motion goes to suspend a privilege, and not to enforce one, and precedence cannot therefore be properly claimed for it. It ought, rather, to be made in due course, and with due notice. It is, therefore, entirely at the pleasure of the House whether this Motion shall be made at the present time.


said, he did not claim it as a matter of privilege, but he thought that for the convenience of the House the Resolution should be passed, before any Member had by accident been unseated. The Parliament before last ordered that in all cases no Motion for the issue of a new writ should be made without due notice. The noble Lord the Member for London, last Session, introduced the words, "without seven days' notice," because previously notice was certainly given, but it was given the night before, and the consequence was that the House was often taken to a certain extent by surprise.


said, he rose to order. He felt the importance of his hon. Friend's observation, that it was important the passing of the Resolution should not have a personal application; still, he thought, after the opinion given by Mr. Speaker, the Motion ought not to be pressed at the present time, especially in the absence of the noble Lord at the head of the Government.


said, that by the rules of the House, Orders of the Day had precedence over Motions, and therefore hon. Gentlemen seeing this notice in the paper would not expect its coming on early in the evening.


said, he must admit that his hon. Friend the Member for Finsbury could not claim as a matter of privilege to propose his Resolution now, but he would beg the House to consider that if the order of their proceedings were strictly adhered to, they might get into very great difficulties, because the seat for a borough might be declared vacant on account of bribery, and then, without notice, a new writ might be moved for as a matter of privilege. The House would then be obliged to discuss that as a particular, and almost as a personal question. He would, therefore, suggest that the hon. Member for Finsbury should withdraw his Motion with the view of submitting it again at half-past four o'clock the next day, in order that the House might have full notice of its coming on.


said, he regarded the question raised by the hon. Member for Finsbury as one of very great importance as regarded the conduct of public business in that House. His (Mr. Disraeli's) view of the matter was, that they should not deviate from the rules of the House without, at least, the advice and, as he thought, the sanction of the leader of the House—the person most responsible in cases of this kind. The rule which the hon. Member for Finsbury proposed was tantamount to a Standing Order of the House; and it would have been competent to him to have made his Motion when the Standing Orders were submitted to the House at the beginning of the present Session. However, as he had not done so, he (Mr. Disraeli) did not think that the House should go out of its ordinary course to change one of its rules in the absence of the noble Lord at the head of the Government.


said, that by adopting the suggestion of the noble Lord, and taking the discussion to-morrow, all-irregularity would be prevented. He should therefore propose, on the part of the Government, to take that course, and would afford his hon. Friend an opportunity for submitting his Resolution to-morrow.

Motion postponed.