HC Deb 21 July 1875 vol 225 cc1764-8

gave Notice that he should proceed with his Motion, which had stood second on the Notice Paper for the previous evening with respect to the Nuneaton Grammar School, on Friday next as an Amendment to the Motion for going into Committee of Supply. It had become a practice when the House was counted out——


asked the hon. Gentleman whether he intended to conclude with a Motion? If so, he would he in Order, not otherwise.


said, he should conclude with moving the adjournment of the House. He wished to observe that the very frequent practice of counting the House out upon Tuesday evenings did not appear to him to be consistent with its character and dignity, and it also led to considerable confusion, as no one knew when the Business appointed for those evenings would be taken. It was evident that the practice of counting the House out on Tuesday evenings had arisen from the House having conceded Morning Sittings to the Government on Tuesdays and Fridays; and it was not unnatural that when the House sat for five hours in the morning hon. Members should not feel very anxious to renew their labours at 9 o'clock in the evening. But he must say that he thought the former practice of the House with respect to the time when Her Majesty's Ministers might require Tuesday towards the close of the Session was infinitely better than the practice now introduced. Formerly Morning Sittings were never taken so early as they had been in the last two or three Sessions. He had known of late years Morning Sittings to be taken in May and June, and even earlier, and it appeared to him that the uncertain practice of granting Morning Sittings was generating an element of confusion in the conduct of the Business of the House. He thought it would be infinitely better that the House should revert to its former practice, and after a certain date in each Session, say in June, the House should devote Tuesdays entirely to the Government. He believed that the former practice of the House in this respect was very much more consistent with the ordinary conduct of Business. There was then a certain understanding among Members of the House as to what Business would be taken at certain periods, which enabled hon. Members to make arrangements and prepare themselves for the performance of their duties infinitely better than they could under the present practice. In order that other hon. Members might address the House on the subject, he would move the adjournment of the House.


begged to second the Motion, because he was one of those who had business on the Paper last night, but though the House was counted out he did not wish to arraign the conduct of any hon. Member. It would be entirely useless to do so, for the reason stated by the hon. Member for North Warwickshire, but after a long experience of that House, he ventured to call attention to the fact that the time had really come when, in deference to the common sense of the country, the anomalous, ridiculous, and unconstitutional course which now for many years they had adopted of meeting at 4 o'clock and extending their Sittings late into the night should be re-considered and altered. This was not a device for securing the despatch of business, but, on the contrary, was a deliberate conspiracy, he might say, on the part of both sides of the House to burk and suppress and prevent a due discussion of business. The evil lay much deeper than the hon. Member for North Warwickshire seemed to suppose, and the adoption of his suggestion would not remedy it. When Mr. Brotherton was a Member of that House he invariably moved its adjournment at midnight, and very properly so. Even the hour of 12 was an unreasonable and unnatural time for the transaction of Public Business, and he would suggest that the Sittings every day should be as on Wednesdays.

Motion made, and Question proposed, "That this House do now adjourn."—(Mr. Newdegate.)


said, he did not think he ought to detain the House for more than a few minutes. It was very natural, when a count-out took place, that some disappointment should be felt by hon. Members. For his own part, he had always considered it would be a good regulation if a count-out were not moved until after a certain period of the evening. But his hon. Friend had raised a different question—whether Tuesdays, at that period of the Session, should not be handed over to the Government. That was a proposition which would be acceptable to the Government; but it was doubtful whether private Members would agree to it. It had been said on several occasions that the rights of private Members had been disregarded this Session; but, by comparison with former years, he found that their Motions had occupied a large proportion of time this Session from which they had been debarred on former occasions. There was, no doubt, that many questions brought forward by private Members ought more properly to be introduced at an earlier period of the Session. He agreed that a more prompt transaction of Business was a subject worthy of the consideration of the Government, and he was sure they would give it consideration. He hoped the Motion would be withdrawn.


said, that no one was more anxious to preserve the rights of private Members than he was, but he thought that at so late a period of the Session the Government ought to have Tuesday mornings, and he did not see why they should be expected to bring down all their Members at 9 o'clock to keep a House if private Members did not consider the subject brought forward of suffcient importance to induce them to make a House for themselves. When, however, there was such a plethora of Business it was most desirable that Tuesday as well as Friday evenings should be utilized, and not wasted.


thought the independent Members of the House were greatly indebted to the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate) for the attention which he had given to their interests, not only on that occasion, but on former ones, and he hoped the hon. Gentleman would take into consideration whether in another Session he could not mature some plan to remedy, in some degree, that which had now become a most intolerable evil. He agreed with the hon. Member for Peterborough (Mr. Whalley) that the most effective mode of remedying the evil now experienced was to return to the old and much more satisfactory practice of Day Sittings; but if that were impossible, he would venture to suggest that when the Government proposed Morning Sittings they should set them apart for private Members, and take Government Business at the Evening Sitting. As an illustration of the way in which counts-out were organized, he might mention that on a late occasion when he moved for Returns of Crime and Punishment in the Navy, and when a count-out was effected, a Government emissary had been sent round the House, and shortly afterwards hon. Members dropped out by twos and threes, while outside a cordon was formed to prevent hon. Members from entering.


complained of a very inconvenient proceeding with regard to Notices. The friends of a Member who was to bring on a Motion sometimes put their names down on the Notice Paper, in his absence, thereby increasing his chance of bringing the Motion on at an early period. That was a practice which ought to be checked by allowing only one Member to put his name down for a friend.


, after the discussion which had taken place, intimated his wish to withdraw his Motion for the adjournment of the House.


, before the Motion was withdrawn, desired to call attention to a practice of which, he eon-tended, private Members had a right to complain. When a Motion was brought forward on going into Supply by one of their own supporters the Government were in the habit of getting the Motion negatived without a division, though there had been no intention to divide the House upon it. The result of that was no division, according to the Forms of the House, could be taken upon questions brought forward afterwards, although they might refer to matters in which it was very desirable to test the opinion of the House. It was useless for the Government to appeal to the forbearance of private Members if they resorted to manœuvres of this kind.

Motion, by leave, withdrawn.

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