HC Deb 26 July 1872 vol 212 cc1951-4

, in withdrawing a Motion of which he had given Notice, That, in the opinion of this House, it is inexpedient during the period of the Session when there are Morning Sittings, to take opposed Votes in Committee of Supply on Friday nights, after the Motions on going into Committee have been disposed of, complained strongly that, without any Notice on the Paper or otherwise, there should be a Saturday Morning Sitting, totally regardless of any arrangements which private Members might have made. It was the result of the policy of the Government in endeavouring to push forward measures which there was no time adequately to discuss.


said, that although he did not ordinarily take a prominent part in matters of the kind, he had received so many representations from hon. Members on both sides of the House of the great inconvenience which they would be subjected to from the holding of a Morning Sitting to-morrow (Saturday), owing to the shortness of the Notice which had been given, that he felt he could not do otherwise than make the strongest possible remonstrance against the course taken by the Government upon the point. He was quite aware of the difficulty in which the Government were placed in endeavouring to get the Business before the House completed in any reasonable time. But the measure set down for the Morning Sitting was one that had attracted much more than common attention, and he hoped that his right hon. Friend would not think it necessary to take a Saturday Sitting in the face of the fact that several hon. Members had left town under the impression that the Licensing Bill would not be proceeded with until some day next week.


complained of the sudden and unexpected way in which the determination of the Government to sit on Saturday had been conveyed to the House.


, on the other hand, stated that, in his opinion, the right hon. Gentleman in charge of the Bill had given quite as full a Notice as was possible under the circumstances.


said, that early that Session he gave Notice of a Resolution, to the effect that in the event of any alteration of the Meetings of this House being proposed, such alterations should be proposed only on Fridays, and before 5 o'clock, and should then take effect during the ensuing week. It was quite true that the presumption of the House was that they were here always, and it appeared that they were almost always there in fact. At the same time, it was impossible to keep more than 600 hon. Gentlemen always there, who had engagements in different parts of the country. He intended to have gone into the country himself to-morrow, and he should have done so, had he not received a message which prevented him. But for that accident, he should not have been at home in London when the Notices were distributed, and he should have known nothing of the meeting on Saturday, for he had left the House before the announcement was made just before 7 P.M., expecting nothing of the sort. Of course, he was but one out of 600; but sometimes in the event of a division, a single vote was effective. It appeared to him that that was a matter which nearly affected the constitution of that House, for when a certain number of hon. Members only assembled at a very short notice without the knowledge of the great body of the House, that a Sitting was to be held, the hon. Members who assembled constituted a sort of self-appointed Committee, but it was certainly not "the House" that met. It was manifest, then, that unless their Rules comprehended due notice as to the time of meeting, though a certain number of hon. Members might be present in the House, practically it was not "the House" itself that assembled. Having seen the great difference of opinion which prevailed among hon. Members with respect to questions touching the course of Business in that House, and seeing how hon. Members had on those questions allowed themselves to be counted out when they had attempted to bring forward the matter, he determined not to do anything further in reference to the Resolution of which he had given Notice that Session, and withdrew it; for the House seemed not to have a due regard either for its own dignity or efficiency, but wantonly allowed any infringement of privileges. By the present arrangements of the House unofficial Members were precluded from bringing forward questions in which they felt a deep interest. He trusted that in the next Session, if not in that, they would come to some Resolution which would ensure to all hon. Members of the House that they should, on Fridays, know at what hour the House was to meet in the ensuing week.


said, he was extremely sorry if he had done wrong; but he did not wish to waste time in defending the course he had pursued, because he believed he had in this matter acted in accordance with precedents familiar to the majority of the House; and, further, he was informed that a Sitting on Saturday having been ordered by the House, the Resolution was now irrevocable. He, therefore, saw no grounds for consuming the time at that hour (half-past 1 o'clock) in discussing the question.


contended that no sufficient Notice had been given that there was to be a Morning Sitting on Saturday. He would appeal to Mr. Speaker to say whether the course which had been adopted was not irregular.


said, there had been no irregularity in the matter. The House was quite at liberty to fix a meeting on Saturday without specific Resolution to that effect, although occasionally the House had thought proper to pass such a Resolution. On the Report of the Committee on the Licensing Bill at the Morning Sitting, he had distinctly put the Question that the Committee should be resumed at 12 o'clock on Saturday, and, as it was not challenged, of course the Committee was fixed for that time.


said, that after what had passed, he would only desire that what he had said might be considered as a remonstrance against the recurrence of such a Resolution without longer Notice being given.

House adjourned at Two o'clock.