HC Deb 09 July 1858 vol 151 cc1185-7

, in rising to call the attention of the House to the inconvenience of protracting the Session during the summer months, said, that that inconvenience, which had always been felt during the six years that he had had the honour of a seat in Parliament, had this year been painfully experienced. He did not intend to detain the House with any remarks upon the state of the river, further than to remind them that, whatever remedy was applied to it, a considerable time must elapse before the evil could be fully removed; and, while he fully admitted the responsibility of the Government to the public, he could not but think that for the Members of that House the true solution of the difficulty was that they should not sit during the months in which this nuisance occurred. Apart from this consideration, however, he could not refrain from asking why, in contradistinction to every other representative assembly, and reversing, as it were, the natural order of things, the British Parliament should hold its meetings during those months which were precisely the most unsuited for legislation. This practice had only grown up of late, for not many years ago Parliament used to meet in November, and separate before the King's birthday in June, and he had never heard any satisfactory reason given for the departure from that earlier and better practice. Summer Sessions were not only injurious to the health and feelings of the, Members, but adverse to the proper transaction of public business. He need, in proof, only point to the number of useful measures which they always found at this period of the Session scattered dead around them. And as to those measures for which a happier fate was reserved, and which passed into law, could it be wondered at that under the influence of a July sun those measures often left the House in a crude and imperfect state, and without having received that discussion and attention that, under other circumstances, would be given to them? An attempt had sometimes been made to meet his proposal by a reference to those Sessions, which, though commencing in November, did not terminate till the usual time. That, however, was owing to the fact that the real business was not commenced in November, the attention of Parliament having on each occasion been exclusively confined to the object of its congregation. In the November Session of 1852 Parliament did nothing but settle the question of free trade and the fate of the Ministry; in 1854 nothing was submitted to its consideration but the Foreign Enlistment Act, while in the December Session of last year it had only to pass an Indemnity Bill. But when they pressed upon Government the necessity of calling Parliament together in November, he, of course, wished them then to commence the real business of the Session. He saw no reason why the financial year should not be altered in accordance with his proposal, and he thought the time for delivering the usual notices might easily be changed so as to enable private business to be proceeded with at once. He also desired to submit to the Government whether of the two recesses at Easter and Whitsuntide one might not be dispensed with. This question had been submitted to the noble Lord the Member for London when he was leader of the House. That noble Lord did not object to it on principle, but thought the moment inopportune, in the month of August, for determining upon assembling in No- vember for the next Session. Parliament had now, however, for the first time for many years, some prospect of being able to finish its labours before the beginning of August, and he could not conceive, therefore, a more favourable opportunity than the present for trying the experiment which be recommended.