HC Deb 10 May 1867 vol 187 cc374-6

Bill considered in Committee.

(In the Committee.)


hoped further consideration of it would be postponed, as no Member of the Bar connected with Ireland was present on his side of the House.


moved that the Chairman report Progress.


said, he must oppose the Motion. It was the duty of hon. Members to be present in their places. The Bill was one upon which learned Gentlemen on both sides of the House were agreed, and was almost precisely in the same terms as the Bill introduced by his learned Friends the late Attorney General and Solicitor General for Ireland. He should have the greatest pleasure in giving way but for the inconvenience which would result from the postponement, as the Committee had to get through all the material part of the Bill. Besides, he had public duties to discharge which required him in another place, and he must really press hon. Members to allow the Bill to be proceeded with.


inquired whether any arrangement had been come to with those hon. and learned Members, now on the Opposition side of the House, who were more directly concerned in the provisions of the measure?


There is not the least doubt that, theoretically, all the 658 Members of this House ought to be on these Benches during every moment which the House sits; therefore, my hon. and learned Friends the late Attorney General and Solicitor General for Ireland are responsible for not being in attendance. At the same time, there is a usage of the House which though oftentimes inconvenient cannot be altogether disregarded—that is, when owing to circumstances wholly unexpected and unforeseen, measures are brought on, in regard to which hon. Gentlemen who are entitled to be heard are excusably absent, it is not the practice to proceed with them. I quite sympathize with the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland. I know he is justifiably anxious to go on with the Bill, and I think it possible my hon. and learned Friend may be disposed to allow it to be proceeded with provided there is an understanding that it shall be taken as far as can be done without exciting active opposition; but that if any points arise or which give rise to discussion, those Gentlemen who are now absent shall have the full opportunity of raising their objections at a future stage.


There is no doubt that, in point of Parliamentary practice, my right hon. Friend the Attorney General for Ireland is right in asking the House to proceed. But there is such a thing as Parliamentary courtesy, without which we could not carry on our affairs. If my right hon. Friend had been longer in the House he would not in this case consider it necessary to observe the strict rules of the House. If there was a clear understanding between the Law Officers of the late Government and the right hon. Gentleman, the latter would not, of course, make any difficulty about the matter. It would be very unfortunate if any misconception should arise; and I am sure my right hon. and learned Friend will accede to the wishes of the House. At the same time the state of public business renders it desirable to proceed with the Bill, if possible.


asked the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General for Ireland not to persevere with the Bill that evening. Had he known the Bill would have been brought on so early he should have communicated with his learned Friends, who would then have attended. The right hon. Member for Portarlington (Mr. Lawson), who was absent, had an Amendment on the Bill, as also had the hon. and learned Member for Clare (Sir Colman O'Loghlen). Under all the circumstances, be hoped the right hon. and learned Gentleman would not press the Bill to Committee.


thought the better course would be to postpone the Bill, as there would be a difficulty in understanding its provisions in the absence of the hon. and learned Gentlemen who were familiar with the subject.


said, he was perfectly in the hands of hon. Gentlemen opposite. He thought it quite right to state there was no understanding between him and the late Attorney General and Solicitor General for Ireland. He was quite prepared to adopt the course proposed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Lancashire.


thought the loss of the evening must be ascribed to the unfortunate abruptness of the Secretary at War in giving notice of the Supplementary Army Estimates for that evening, and then withdrawing it.

House resumed.

Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Thursday next.