HC Deb 21 June 1864 vol 176 cc30-2

The House having resumed at Six o'clock—


Sir, I desire to mention to Mr. Speaker a question which has arisen in my own case at the close of the morning sitting of the House. A division took place at four o'clock, while the House was in Committee upon the Court of Chancery (Ireland) Bill, on the Question whether the Chairman should leave the Chair. I had intended to vote with the "Noes." At the time of taking the division, the Attorney General was named one of the Tellers, and an hon. Gentleman was named another of the Tellers who was not then in the House. I offered to act as Teller in his place, and accordingly remained here while the House was cleared in order to act as Teller for the "Noes." Just, however, as the House was clear, the hon. Member for Northampton consented to act as Teller, and I therefore retired — going however, by mistake, into the lobby of the "Ayes" instead of that of the "Noes." When I got into the lobby I instantly discovered my mistake; but the hon. Member for Horsham told me that, being in the lobby, I should be obliged to vote with the "Ayes." Accordingly I did so vote. But the moment I returned into the House, and before the voting paper was placed in the hands of the Chairman, I informed Mr. Massey of the mistake I had made. I desire to mention this to you, and I respectfully submit that my vote ought to be counted with the "Noes," and not with the "Ayes."


One of the difficulties of this case arises from the circumstance that no Report has been made from the Committee to the House. The decision in the Committee was final and conclusive as to the proceedings of the Committee, and the Committee, in consequence of the vote, makes no Report to the House. The hon. Member, as an individual, asks a question of me, which, perhaps, would have been more properly addressed to the Chairman of the Committee, whose decision in Committee is final. The Chairman of the Committee did, in fact, decide the Question by taking the numbers as they were handed to him and accepting that decision, and it is that decision which prevents any Report being made to the House. But if it be the pleasure of the House to be reminded of what has taken place on former occasions, I do not think that the hon. Member could have had any relief under the circumstances of the case. There are several precedents—some of a recent date. In a case in 1856 one of the Tellers for the "Noes" stated that Mr. Wykeham Martin, who was in the lobby with the "Noes," had refused to vote. He had gone into the lobby by mistake. He was informed that, having heard the Question put and being in the lobby with the "Noes," he must be counted with those in that lobby. There is another case which I think is stronger. On the 8th of May, 1860, notice was taken that a Member had been in the lobby with the "Noes," but, having passed the division clerks, had avoided being counted. He stated that he had gone into that lobby by mistake; but, being in the lobby, and having heard the Question put, the Speaker directed his vote to be added to the "Noes." In that case the misapprehension was discovered as early as it was by the hon. Baronet in the present instance. In this case it is not open to me to give any decision. There has been no Report to the House. But what I have stated has been the ruling of the House in similar cases; and I think that the hon. Member, having heard the Question put, and having gone into the lobby with the "Noes," was rightly counted with the "Noes."