HC Deb 02 August 1861 vol 164 cc1870-3

then moved the following Resolutions:— 1. That, as soon as the Estimates are ready, one night in each week be given to their consideration; Motions on going into Committee of Supply being on that day not permitted, except by express permission of the House. 2. That on other nights, when Supply is an Order of the Day, the speeches of Members who bring forward Motions on going into Committee of Supply be restricted to the limits of a quarter of an hour. 3. That when a Bill is referred to a Select Committee the Report of such Committee shall be received, and the Bill stand for further consideration, without the intervention of a Committee of the whole House, unless the House shall order the Bill to be Re-committed. 4. That such Committees, and all Select Committees, consist of not more than five (or seven) Members, named by the Committee of Selection, who shall choose them for their knowledge of the subject to be submitted to their consideration, and ascertain that they will be able to attend regularly in such Committee. 5. That no opposed business be proceeded in after the hour of one o'clock in the morning. The hon. Member said that he had a strong opinion that these Resolutions, if adopted, would be found to be productive of considerable advantage in enabling the House to dispose of the business which came before it, adding, with reference to the last of them, that although the noble Lord at the head of the Government, with a vigour which was quite unexampled, might be able to sit out the discussion which took place night after night until two or three o'clock in the morning, yet the great majority of hon. Members were unable to do so without suffering so much as to look rather like spectres of themselves than living realities. He should not, he further observed, press his Motion on the present occasion if any opposition were offered; but it would, he hoped, be taken into consideration by hon. Members during the recess, and acceded to, if deemed to be calculated to effect the object which he had in view, next Session.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That, so soon as the Estimates are ready, one night in each week be given to their consideration; Motions on going into Committee of Supply being, on that day, not permitted, except by express permission of the House.


said, he was not surprised that his hon. Friend did not ask the House to express an opinion on these important Resolutions at present, for it was quite clear it would not be right, in the absence of the great majority of hon. Members, to make such alterations as the hon. Gentleman proposed, particularly when it was borne in mind that the subject with which he dealt was one with reference to which the House had come to a decision already in the course of the present Session. He might, however, observe with respect to the First Resolution, that he thought it was one which very well deserved the attention of the House. If the recommendation of the Committee on Public Business, to the effect that Supply might be set down for Tuesdays, had not been acceded to, the termination of the Session would not, he believed, be so near at hand as it now was; and if, in addition, the suggestion of his hon. Friend, that Supply should be fixed for one day in each week were adopted, and a reasonable certainly afforded that it would come on in due course without any preliminary discussion, increased facilities in the despatch of public business would in all probability be found to be the result. The House would, therefore, he hoped, at the beginning of next Session see reason to agree to the first Resolution, the adoption of which would not, he thought, be found to infringe unduly on the rights of private Members. So far as the second Resolution was concerned, he would simply say that, though he thought it would hardly be advisable to adopt such a rule, he wished hon. Members might be induced to act on the advice which it contained. With respect to the appointment of Committees, hon. Members must feel that there was an important distinction between private and public Bills, and, however desirable it might be to limit the number of Members in the case of Select Committees appointed to inquire into the former, it was not so evident that good would result from applying the same principles to the latter. Any absolute rule on that subject had, he thought, better be avoided. The same might be said with respect to not bringing an any opposed business after one o'clock. As a general rule such was not done, but towards the close of the Session it became of great consequence sometimes to be enabled to do so after that hour. If the House adopted the suggestion of his hon. Friend it would lead to the unavoidable lengthening of the Session; and though hon. Members, and especially the right hon. Gentleman who occupied the Chair, might occasionally feel the inconvenience of sitting so many hours at a stretch, he was sure they would prefer doing so to having the length of the Session increased by three or four weeks in consequence of rising earlier.


said, that at one time he thought some restriction might advantageously be put upon the liberty of Members to bring forward Motions on going into Committee of Supply, but after consultation with the noble Lord at the head of the Government, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bucks, he had seen reason to change his opinion. The views of the noble Lord and the right hon. Gentleman were identical, and might be expressed as follows:—Members of the House of Commons were not elected for the sole purpose of passing Bills and voting money, but to express the wants and wishes of the people, and to provide remedies for acknowledged grievances. Unless it were competent to every Member of that House to state what was rising in the public mind, and to demand immediate redress, the probability was that discontent would grow and spread out of doors until it reached a height dangerous to the peace of the country. That very afternoon the hon. and learned Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Ayrton) had brought forward a grievance only lately known, and had obtained a prompt and satisfactory answer from the Secretary for War. He did not see how they could pretend to limit the extent of speeches; nor did he see what good could arise from superseding the reference of Bills to Committees of the Whole House. He could not ap- prove the Resolutions of the hon. Member I for Dumfries.


said, that almost everybody bad some reason to complain of the unbusiness-like mode in which the House conducted its affairs. He congratulated the hon. Member for Dumfries, whose Resolutions were exceedingly opportune, upon having obtained to some extent the acquiescence of so high an authority as the Home Secretary, and expressed the hope that early next Session the House might be induced to adopt the suggestion of the right hon. Baronet with respect to the first Resolution. He trusted that the right hon. Gentleman would soon come to see the advantage of curtailing the speeches of Members. Improvement in that respect was not impossible. He believed, indeed, that if Members took one-tenth part as much labour to be concise as they did to be diffuse the grievance would be removed at once; but he was afraid that if they trusted to Members altogether they would be disappointed.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

House adjourned at Five o'clock, till Monday next,