HC Deb 22 February 1866 vol 181 cc901-2

said, he wished to put a Question, of which he had given private notice, and it would be desirable to say a few words first in explanation. The facts were these. He received a letter yesterday morning from an influential constituent asking him to obtain a copy of the Cattle Diseases Act. He was not able, however, to get a copy yesterday; but in The Times of this morning he saw a notice that the Act had been delivered yesterday. He called at the Sale Office to-day, and inquired why he could not get a copy the day before. The answer he got was that the Act had been sold yesterday in such numbers for the private profit of the Queen's printer that they were unable to deliver copies of it that morning, and consequently Members could not obtain them. Now, he begged to ask Her Majesty's Government, Why the public were to be served before Members, and why Members were to be hindered so long from seeing the fruits of their own devices and wranglings; and, secondly, as 40,000 copies of The Times could be delivered before seven o'clock in the morning, why the public and the House of Commons could not be served with copies of the Act on the same day?


said, he had received the note which the noble Lord addressed to him only a few minutes ago, and therefore he could not answer his questions. All he could say was this. His right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, immediately after the passing of the Act, desired a letter to be written to the Queen's printer, urging the extreme importance of circulating the Act with the least possible delay among the local authorities all over the country. All the information that he had received was that this Act had been circulated among the local authorities of counties yesterday, and to-day copies would be circulated among the local authorities of boroughs.


I can add some information on this subject to that which has just been given. The noble Lord communicated with me since the House met. I sent for the chief officer in the Vote Office, and he informed me that he had not received from the Queen's printer any copies of the Act to distribute to Members. The noble Lord states that they have been sold to the public. If that be the case, I should consider that there has been a great omission on the part of the Queen's printer. The right hon. Member for Oxfordshire (Mr. Henley), yesterday mentioned to me the great wish which he knew prevailed that this Act should be speedily printed, and at my request the Clerk at the Table wrote immediately to the Clerk of the Parliaments, wishing that he would communicate with the Queen's printer, and inform him that the utmost expedition should be employed in forwarding the printing of that Act. However, it appears that the copies of the Act have not yet been delivered at the Vote Office. Although this House has not an immediate control over the Queen's printer, I think I may venture to say that a communication shall be made to the Clerk of the Parliaments to prevent the recurrence of such a circumstance.

In reply to Sir JAMES FERGUSSON,


stated, that although by the ordinary law the Commissioners could not meet without ten day's notice, he intended to move the insertion of a clause in the Bill of the hon. Member for North Northamptonshire (Mr. Hunt), which would obviate the inconvenience, and allow the Commissioners to meet immediately.