§ VISCOUNT PALMERSTON
Sir, I hope the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty will not find fault with me when I say that the question I am about to put to the right hon. Gentleman opposite will be decidedly of an electioneering character. All I wish to ask is this, whether Her Majesty's Government have come to any decision at present as to the day on which the dissolution is to take place, and whether the writs will be issued on that day; or, if not, on what other subsequent day they will be issued? I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will excuse me for making this inquiry, because it is a, matter in which great anxiety is felt by all parties, for it is exceedingly inconvenient to them, having regard to their various arrangements, to be kept in suspense as to the time when the elections will take place. Therefore, if Government will give us some positive information on this subject, I am sure they will be conferring a positive obligation.
§ THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER
said, in reply to the question of the 1827 hon. Member for Brighton (Mr. Coning-ham), that inasmuch as he was unaware that it was his intention to bring the subject of the recent purchases made for the National Gallery under the notice of the House, he was at the present moment quite unprepared to enter into any criticism of the pictures which he had mentioned. The subject was, however, one which was of great importance, and he should endeavour to obtain that information with respect to it which would be expedient for the guidance of the Government as to the course which ought to be taken in reference to the National Gallery. In reply to the questions of the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Gilpin), he had only to say that the Jamaica Immigration Act had been confirmed by Her Majesty in Council; that the papers which had been promised to be laid before Parliament by his right hon. Friend the Secretary for the Colonies were so voluminous that he was afraid, although they were in progress, it would not be in the power of the Government to lay them before Parliament before the dissolution took place, and, lastly, that no Returns relating to the number of emigrants from China to the West Indies had reached the Colonial Office. The question which had been put to him by the noble Lord the Member for Tiverton was one which it was rather difficult to answer in so precise a manner as he could desire. All he could say in reply to it was, that the Government would advise Her Majesty to prorogue and dissolve Parliament during Passion week, and that, so far as he could form an opinion, the new Parliament might meet by the 31st of May. It was, however, impossible for him at present to fix on the precise day for either the prorogation or dissolution; but he should probably be in a position to speak more definitely on the subject on Monday next. It might be convenient for public reasons that the House should sit a day or two longer than he anticipated, and it would not be right that the issue of the writs should take place on Good Friday; but, generally speaking, Her Majesty would, as he had said before, be advised to prorogue and dissolve Parliament in the ensuing week, and, as far as he could calculate, the new Parliament would meet about the 31st of May. He had to state, in reply to the question of the hon. Member for Lambeth (Mr. W. Williams), that his noble Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs had thought that he was not bound to pay 1828 the stamp duties on his patent of appointment. He (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) had submitted a case to the Attorney General, who agreed with him in thinking that Secretaries of State were liable for the fees in question, and he (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) had given directions to enforce payment of them, not only from his noble Friend, but from some of his predecessors.
§ Motion agreed to.
§ House at rising to adjourn till Monday next.
§ Notice taken, that Forty Members were not present; House counted; and Forty Members not being present,
§ The House was adjourned; at half-past Seven o'clock till Monday next.