HC Deb 08 June 1863 vol 171 cc520-3

said, he rose to call the attention of the House to an occurrence which took place at the close of the last sitting—that was about half past two o'clock on Saturday morning. At that time there were only thirteen or fourteen Members in the House. Leave to introduce an important Bill—a very important Bill—was then moved for by a Member of the Government. He found in the "Votes and Proceedings" of the House the following entry— Public Works (Manufacturing Districts),—Bill to facilitate the execution of Public Works in certain Manufacturing Districts; and to authorize for that purpose advances of Public Money, to a limited amount, upon the security of Local Rates; and to shorten the period for the adoption of the Local Government Act, 1848, in certain cases. He also found recorded that this Bill was "ordered to be brought in by Mr. Villiers and Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer." When the Motion was made for leave to bring in the Bill, he (Mr. Hennessy) addressed some questions to the Government with reference to the necessity of advancing public money for public works in Ireland. No Member of the Government answered his questions—but that he passed by without comment. Leave having been given, the next Motion which was put to the House was "That Mr. Villiers and Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer do prepare and bring in the Bill." He rose to make observations upon that Motion, but he was stopped by Mr. Speaker, who said that he would not be in order in addressing the House on that occasion; and bowing to the decision of the right hon. Gentleman, he resumed his seat. He might mention to the House, as some excuse for the course he was taking, that not only the people of Ireland generally, but his own constituents in particular, took a very lively interest in this subject. Within the last few weeks reports had been sent to the Treasury, recommending an outlay of £280,000 upon public works in Ireland. It so happened that the recommendation was that that money should be spent in the King's County, and he had received from his constituents day after day urgent letters asking him to make inquiries as to these works, and to ascertain what course the Government intended to take upon the subject generally. He humbly submitted that when the Motion was made that the Bill should be brought in by Mr. Villiers and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, it was perfectly competent to him to move either, for instance, that another name should be added to these, or that instructions should be given to these Gentlemen to do something not in the original Motion. He need not refer to the authorities which he held in his hand; it was enough to say, that as far as these two Motions went, the Orders of the House were perfectly explicit and distinct. Further than that, there were precedents going this length, that that Motion had actually been made for the purpose of raising a debate, and he had seen in Hansard a record of a debate on such a Motion, in which no less an authority than Earl Russell, as well as other Members of the House, took part. He would confine himself to this simple statement; but it was a matter of the utmost importance to Ireland that a decision should not be come to upon this Bill without her claims being considered. He now raised no point upon the fact that this was a Bill to authorize the advance of money upon local rates, and that it was the first time that such a Bill had been introduced without a Re solution of a Committee of the Whole House:—he confined himself to respectfully asking the Speaker, whether he was not, under the circumstances, at liberty to make observations upon the Motion to which he had referred?


In answer to the Question which has been put to me by the hon Member, I must, in the first place, assure the House that my desire is to conduct the business of the House with perfect regularity, even to the last moments of its sitting—which, at a late hour of a morning, after sittings of ten or eleven hours, it is not quite so easy to do a it is earlier in the evening. On the occasion to which the hon. Gentleman ha referred the hon. Gentleman has mentioned that at half-past two o'clock on Saturday morning the right hon. Gentleman the President of the Poor Law Board rose to ask leave to bring in a Bill, a description of which he has given. It was then so late that the right hon. Gentleman said he would not attempt to enter into any description of the Bill. However, questions were asked, and especially the hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. Ferrand) asked for certain information. I was so far from desiring to restrain discussion that I was rather out of order in allowing the hon. Member for Devonport to address the house, I think, three times in enforcing his request upon the Government. After the last explanation the hon. and learned Member stated that he was perfectly satisfied. The hon. and learned Member for the King's County (Mr. Hennessy) also raised a question, and it appeared to me that, so far as discussion went, the matter was closed. The Question was put "That leave be given to bring in the Bill," which was agreed to without any observation. Then the President of the Poor Law Board having passed almost down the House, I called to him for the names of the Gentlemen who were to bring in the Bill. The names were given; and on that occasion the hon. Member for King's County rose and proposed to address observations, as it appeared to me, on the general subject-matter of the Bill. Now certainly, during the years that I have had the honour of occupying the chair, no such question has ever been raised upon the names of the Gentlemen who are to bring in a Bill. The hon. Member has been so good as to place in my hands, just as I was going to the House of Lords to be present at a Commission, a case which he considers to be a precedent. This is a case which occurred in the year 1852 upon the Militia Bill, when Lord John Russell having brought in the Bill, and the noble Lord now the Prime Minister having moved and carried an Amendment upon it, the noble Lord who introduced the Bill declined to proceed further with it; upon which a discussion arose as to who should bring in the Bill. No doubt, upon that occasion a discussion arose, the original introducer of the Bill having declined to proceed further with it; but that case certainly would not in any way apply to the occurrence of the other morning. At the same time, I should state that in earlier days questions have arisen upon this Motion. Those questions have generally been as to the addition or substitution of a name; but, as far as my present information goes—I do not pretend to speak with positive accuracy, having had no opportunity, except since I came to the House, of examining into the question—my opinion is that, with regard to all recent practice, any discussion arising upon the names of the persons who should bring in the Bill should be confined to the question who those persons should be, and should not involve a general discussion upon the nature of the Bill. At the same time, I beg to assure the hon. Member that there was no desire on my part to restrict any legitimate opportunity for discussion, and I think the House had evidence of this in the fact to which I have already mentioned—that on the occasion adverted to I allowed an hon. Member to address three speeches to the House.


said, he wished to know how the matter was to be decided for the future. According to the Rules of the House, no debate could arise upon reading a Bill for the first time, or on the Motion that it be printed; but it seemed still doubtful, from the answer given from the Chair, whether a debate may not be raised on the appointment of the Members to whom the Bill wag to be given in charge.