HC Deb 07 May 1874 vol 218 cc1843-5

said, he wished to call the attention of the Speaker and of the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister to a new Rule making an alteration in the moving of Writs for the election of Members of the House. It was that in a case in which a Report had been made by a Judge who had sat on the trial of an Election Petition, certain Notice should be given before a Motion was made for the issue of a New Writ. Such Notice of Motion was put upon the Notice Paper as an ordinary Notice of Motion, and one consequence of this was if it were opposed it could not come on after half-past 12 o'clock; and owing to the difficulty of bringing on Motions before half-past 12 the issue of a Writ might be postponed for weeks, and even months, until the end of the Session. He wished to ask the Speaker, Whether an hon. Member could move a Writ in a case of this sort at the hour at which Writs were usually moved for; and, if not, he wished to ask the Prime Minister whether the Rule ought not to be altered? The question was one which was of infinite interest and importance to the House, as the issue of a Writ affected its constitution; and, if Motions of this sort were in the position which was supposed, the House would probably think that something ought to be done to bring these Motions before the House at a time when there was a full attendance, and when they could be more satisfactorily dealt with.


The House is aware that Motions for New Writs are treated as Motions of Privilege, and take precedence of Motions on Public Business; but lately the House passed a Resolution which the House will permit me to read to them. It is— That, where any Election has been declared void, under the Parliamentary Elections Act of 1868, and the Judge has reported that any person has been guilty of bribery and corrupt practices, no Motion for the issuing of a new Writ shall he made without two days' previous notice being given in the Votes. A Resolution in similar terms to that has been passed from time to time by this House. There are several instances of such Resolutions having been passed since 1848, and it is my duty to state to the House that, in obedience to, and in pursuance of, those Resolutions, the practice of the House has been always to treat Motions made subject to such Resolutions, not as Motions having privilege, but as ordinary Motions. There are several instances of Motions for New Writs being made under these circumstances, and they have always been treated as ordinary Motions, having no title to precedence as Privilege Motions. It has, therefore, been my duty to place the Motions which stand on the Paper to-night for New Writs as ordinary Motions. At the same time, I am bound to observe to the House that when those Resolutions to which I have adverted were passed, there was no Resolution standing on the Journals of the House which precluded our taking Opposed Business after half-past 12 o'clock. With that Resolution in force the House is placed under new circumstances with regard to the issuing of a Writ. If Opposed Business is not to be taken after half-past 12 o'clock it is plain that if Notice be given of an Amendment to the Motion for the issue of a Now Writ, and if that Motion should not come on until after half-past 12, it would be my duty in obedience to the Resolution of the House, to stop that Motion.


Both sides of the House will, I think, agree that no undue obstacle should be offered to the issue of a New Writ. I may say I think the position of affairs with respect to the issue of New Writs is not satisfactory, and that the Sessional Order which we agreed to the other night may operate as a very undue obstacle to the issue of Writs. The matter shall be considered by Her Majesty's Government; but in the meantime, what we want is an immediate remedy. All I can say is, so far as the Government is concerned, they will give every facility in their power to these Motions for the issue of New Writs.


, as the mover of the Sessional Order referred to, wished to say that it applied only whore there had been bribery and corrupt practices. It would not, therefore, act as an improper obstacle to the issuing of New Writs in cases where there had been no bribery or corrupt practices. Where there had been, there ought to be an obstacle to the issue of New Writs, and where there had not, the declaration of the Prime Minister that the Government would offer no obstacle to the issue of New Writs would meet the case. The Rule was a satisfactory one, and it might be left as it stood until the beginning of next Session.


recommended that in cases in which a Motion was to be exposed on the merits, it should be moved that the Orders of the Day should be postponed until after the Motion for the Writ was considered.


presumed it was open to any hon. Member to move that Motions with respect to the issue of Writs should have precedence of the Orders of the Day.

In reply, to Sir CHARLES W. DILKE,


said, he should move that evening for a New Writ to be issued for Dudley, as the Motion was unopposed. He should move for New Writs for Stroud to-morrow.


gave Notice that he should move to-morrow that the Motion for New Writs for Stroud should have precedence of the Orders of the Day.

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