HC Deb 20 June 1870 vol 202 cc596-9

said, he rose, pursuant to Notice, to move that Mr. Childers be discharged from further attendance on the Select Committee on the Pilotage Bill, and that Mr. Baxter be added to the Committee.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That Mr. Childers be discharged from further attendance on the Select Committee on the Pilotage Bill."—(Mr. Shaw Lefevre.)


said, he must object to such a proceeding on the ground that it was not advisable to establish such a precedent. The Committee had sat more than 20 times and taken a mass of evidence. As the representative of the Government had not hitherto taken any part in the proceedings of the Committee they could not be considered of sufficient interest to justify the present Motion, which was an unusual one, and the adoption of which might lead to many difficulties in future. He, therefore, begged to move that the debate be now adjourned.


said, the First Lord of the Admiralty was seriously indisposed, and his medical advisers had recommended him to avoid exertion. It was quite true his right hon. Friend (Mr. Childers) had not attended the meetings of the Committee; but he had studied the evidence, and had been in constant communication with the Board of Trade on the subject. As he was no longer able to attend, it was thought desirable that the Secretary to the Admiralty should do so. Notice was given of this Motion on Friday last, and the Committee would meet to-morrow to consider its Report. There was nothing unusual in substituting one Member for another towards the close of a Committee's deliberations.


stated that when the Committee on the Foreign Cattle Market Bill was sitting, the hon. Baronet (Sir Matthew Ridley), who then represented Northumberland, was taken ill, and the Gentlemen who now sat on the Treasury Bench, but who were then in Opposition, successfully opposed the appointment of the hon. Member for Devonshire (Mr. Kekewich) in place of the hon. Baronet to whom he had referred.


said, the Committee had accumulated such a mass of evidence that it was impossible the Secretary to the Admiralty could have read it since last Friday, and, as the Committee were considering their Report, the hon. Gentleman could only join the Committee to carry out a foregone conclusion.


said, he would remind the hon. Member for South Norfolk (Mr. C. S. Read) that the Bill to which he had referred was a hybrid Bill, and the Committee heard counsel.


said, it had always been customary to secure the due representation of both the front benches in such a Committee. He thought the Secretary to the Admiralty would be likely to know as much about the proceedings of the Committee as the First Lord, who had only attended once.


said, he felt sure the Secretary to the Admiralty would be able to read up the evidence and be competent to act on the Committee.


said, he must oppose the Motion as tending to the establishment of a dangerous practice.


said, he hoped the Committee would not divide on this Motion in the absence of the right hon. Gentleman concerned, who had transmitted his opinion to the Secretary to the Admiralty, who represented a great Department of the Government. He thought that for the hon. Member to persevere with this Motion would be an act of discourtesy towards the Government.


said, he hoped his hon. Friend would persevere with his Motion, for a more extraordinary case had never been brought before the House. It would be estab- lishing a dangerous precedent to allow such a change to take place, for the purpose of securing a majority to the Government on the Report. The Committee had under its consideration a technical and professional matter, and it was impossible for the Secretary to the Admiralty to give an opinion on the Report without having heard the evidence.


said, he would appeal to the kindness of the House. His right hon. Friend had not left London, and, unwell as he was, if his attendance was necessary, he would remain and attend on the Committee; but he asked the House out of consideration to him to consent to the change proposed.


said, he thought the right hon. Gentleman had not put the matter fairly. Such a proposition with respect to any other tribunal would not be entertained for a moment. No Judge would ever dream of giving a judgment on a case in which he had not heard the whole of the evidence. The Report might be postponed until the right hon. Member could attend.


said, this Committee was a large and public one. It was a common practice on such Committees to substitute Members even at a late period, and, if that course could not be adopted, it would be difficult to proceed with the business of Public Committees. It was not necessary for every Member to hear all the evidence, which was printed, and could be fully understood by a Member who had not regularly attended.

Motion made, and Question put, "That the Debate be now adjourned."—(Sir Henry Selwin-Ibbetson.)

The House divided:—Ayes 83; Noes 91: Majority 8.

Original Question again proposed.

SIR JAMES ELPHINSTONE moved that this House do now adjourn.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—(Sir James Elphinstone.)


said, he must appeal to the House not to call upon his right hon. Friend the First Lord to attend this Committee. The right hon. Gentleman was advised by his physician not to attend; but was ready to do so if necessary.


said, that the proceedings of the Government were very like an attempt to introduce the system of voting by proxy.


said, he would suggest that the First Lord of the Admiralty should be discharged, and then they might consider whether another Member should be appointed in his room.


asked whether it would be inconvenient that the consideration of the Report of the Committee should be postponed?


said, he thought there would be no objection to that course. He should deeply regret taking any action which would force the First Lord to attend the Committee while in a state of ill-health, and he had had no such object in making his proposition.


said, if compulsory pilotage was to be abolished, it was highly desirable that it should be done at once. He should have no objection to the postponement of the Report for a few days, so as to enable the Secretary to the Admiralty to read the evidence; but, if it were postponed until the recovery of the First Lord, probably the Bill would not pass this year.


said, this was an admission that the Secretary to the Admiralty had not read the evidence yet.

Motion and Original Question, by leave, withdrawn.