HC Deb 24 February 1880 vol 250 cc1300-16

in rising to move— That, in the opinion of this House, the privilege of Immunity from Arrest, now enjoyed by Peers and Members of Parliament, is not for the public good, and ought to be abolished; said, if the House was not already wearied by its recent discussions of Privilege, he craved its indulgence while he rose that question in another form. The Privilege of which he desired to speak, though hoary with antiquity, and once, no doubt, of great value to Parliament and the nation, had now become almost obsolete, and was of such doubtful benefit that he pleaded, not for its continuance, but for its removal. He complained not of its breach, but of its observance. It was not his intention to go at length into its origin. It was sufficient to say that originally it formed one of a large number of similarly anomalous exemptions, by which the High Court of Parliament protected itself against the ordinary processes of the Common Law. Not only the persons of Members, but also those of their servants, were held free from arrest, while their lands and goods were also exempt from being taken in any form of execution. It appeared that the Privilege was first claimed by the House of Lords, who probably based their right upon their succession to the Great Council of the Kingdom. The first case on record was in the 19th year of Edward I., when the Master of the Temple petitioned the King for permission to distrain on the goods of the Bishop of St. David's. The reply of the King was— It does not seem fit that the King should grant that they who are of his Council should he destrained in time of Parliament. But whatever the origin of the Privilege might have been, it rapidly grew and extended itself, until it became a serious anomaly in the administration of justice. While Parliament was sitting, no writ or other process could be issued against any Member, or even against his servants. Members refused to attend as witnesses in a Court of Law, or to obey a writ of subpoena in Chancery. It was dangerous to bring an action at any time against a Peer, for the plaintiff might find himself committed for contempt, even after a long lapse of time. The public inconvenience reached its height during the reign of the later Stuarts. The officers of Parliament were continually acting in antagonism to those of the Law Courts and the Sheriffs, while the Houses were not unfrequently divided against each other. There were abundant cases in the Journals of the House of Commons, where the Speaker committed persons to prison for entering on the estates of Members, carrying away timber, lopping trees, digging coal, and fishing in their waters. The historian Hallam says— Hardly anything could he done disagreeable to a Member of which he might not inform the House, and cause it to be punished. When Privilege was thus used as a weapon of offence rather than as a shield of protection it became intolerable, and the general public demanded some alteration. By a series of Acts of Parliament this Privilege had been curtailed to its present limits. The 12 & 13Will.III. c. 3, allowed actions to be brought against Members of both Houses, immediately after the Dissolution or Prorogation of Parliament. The Statute of 10Geo.III. c. 50, enacted that any suit might at any time be brought against any Peer or Member of Parliament, their servants, or any other person entitled to Privilege of Parliament, except that the person of a Member of the House of Commons should not thereby be subjected to any arrest or imprisonment. The Motion which he (Mr. Blake) now made was— That, in the opinion of this House, the Privilege of Immunity from Arrest, now enjoyed by Peers and Members of Parliament, is not for the public good, and ought to be abolished. To illustrate the law as it now stood, he would call the attention of the House to a case which occurred in August last, upon which the public Press commented at the time with pardonable severity. A defaulting debtor, who was a Peer, was summoned in a Metroplitan County Court for the sum of 48s.,for coals sold to him by the plaintiff. The Peer claimed to be exempt from the jurisdiction of the County Court as respected personal process, and carried his claim so far as to state that he was also exempt from personal appearance at the County Court. The debt was not disputed, and an order of the Court was made for payment. This order was treated with contempt. Two courses were then open to the plaintiffs—either to take out an execution against the debtor's goods, or to apply for a judgment summons calling upon the defendant to show cause why payment, as ordered, was not made. The plaintiffs adopted the later course, and obtained a judgment summons against the noble defendant. In this, also, as in the former summons, his Lordship pleaded his Privilege as a Peer, and declined in any way to take cognizance of the proceedings. He even went so far as to give notice to the learned Judge, by letter, that— In the event of his signing a warrant against him, he would he dismissed from his seat on the Bench, and all sorts of condign punishments would be visited upon the parties concerned. His honour, the Judge, was reported to have said publicly in his Court, that— The fact of this Privilege being claimed was so surprising to him that he had a difficulty in considering it possible that it should be advanced in answer to a just claim. He had, however, referred to a case which showed that the objection was well founded; and although he did not believe it was a correct view of the law he considered himself bound by the decision of Lord Denman. He hoped that the decision to which he referred would some day or other be altered by the law of common sense, and regretted that he had no power to help the plaintiffs. The present mode of procedure was regulated by the Debtors' Act of 1869, 32 & 33Vict.c. 62, which enacted—Section 4—that— With the exceptions hereinafter mentioned, no person shall, after the commencement of this Act, be arrested or imprisoned for making default in payment of a sum of money. Among the exceptions in Section 5 was the case of a person making default in payment of a debt due in pursuance of any order, when it is proved that such a person has.…the means to pay the sum…and has refused or neglected to pay the same. It is further provided in the same section that such imprisonment shall not operate as a satisfaction or extinguishment of the debt; as would have been the case under the old writ ofca. sa.The House would remember that, with reference to this case, he (Mr. Blake) put a Question, on the 13th of August last, to the hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney General, asking him if his attention had been called to it, and also if defaulting debtors who were Peers were entitled by law to such exemption; and, if so, if he had considered the desirability of repealing the exemption? The Attorney General, in his reply, said— My attention has been called to the case mentioned in the Question, and the facts appear to be correctly represented. I may state that the judgment summons was issued against the noble Defendant to compel payment of an amount of £2 8s.for coals sold to him by the plaintiffs. I do not think it would be becoming in me to pronounce an opinion upon a point of law which has been decided by a competent Court. The learned Judge of the Brompton County Court is a man of great ability and experience, and I think we may presume that his decision was right.…I should not myself be disposed to advocate an extension of the power of commitment for the non-payment of debt, or to interfere with the long established Privileges of the Peerage. It is to be regretted that the Privilege should have been relied upon in the case in question. The plaintiffs, however, may be consoled by the reflection that, as the noble Defendant thought proper, for the purpose of evading the payment of a debt, to envelope himself in the mantle of the Privileges of his order, he may be left to resort to the same mantle for the purpose of keeping himself warm. The plaintiffs can refuse again to supply the noble Lord with coals."—[3Hansard,ccxlix. 910–11.] Now, he (Mr. Blake) would admit that the case he had quoted was in itself so ridiculous and contemptible that it was unworthy of further remark. But, as affording an illustration of the offensive manner in which the musty and fusty Privilege of Peers might be used to defeat the ends of justice, it was of importance. The privilege of exemption from arrest on civil process was shared by Members of the House of Commons. There was, however, this distinction between the Members of the two Houses. Privilege of Peerage extended to all Peers and Peeresses, whether by birth, by creation, or by marriage, and also to Scotch and Irish Peers, even though they were not elected Representative Peers of the United Kingdom; whereas commoners had merely Privilege of Parliament, and enjoyed immunity from arrest, and only that while Parliament was sitting and for a limited number of days afterwards—generally assumed to be 40 days. The Privilege only extended to civil process, and formed no bar to arrest for treason, felony, misdemeanour, or even breach of the peace. In the interest of equal justice and of the Peerage itself, this immunity should be abolished. The simple question was, should any class of persons be placed above the law? Was it for the public good that there should continue to be amongst us a privileged class of persons exempt from the statutable penalties of fraud which attached to the rest of the community? It was difficult to see how there could be any but one answer to that question. Imprisonment for debt had been abolished. He had no desire to revive it. That was not the question. The question was, should any class of persons who had the means of payment treat the decrees of their Law Courts with contempt, and be allowed to plead that they were not amenable, while all other persons are, for the moral offence of evading payment of their just debts? By no surer method could any Member of that, or of the Upper House of Parliament, bring himself into contempt and ridicule than by availing himself of that Privilege in the manner of which they had been furnished with so humiliating an example. Though he (Mr. Blake) had quoted but one case, he had good reason to believe that it did not stand alone. He had received, since he gave Notice of his intention to bring forward this Motion, many communications from traders complaining of the difficulty they experienced in procuring payment of debts due from defaulting debtors having Privilege of Parliament. It was no secret that some Peers, whose estates were entailed, and whose life interest therein was heavily incumbered, had also given bills of sale, which included nearly all their personal effects, and which bills of sale protected them from seizure by other creditors. Hence it followed that as their persons were free from arrest or imprisonment, and their goods could not be distrained upon, their creditors were entirely at their mercy. He held in his hand an official Return just issued to Members of that House, of the number of prisoners confined in Holloway Gaol for the past year. In it he found that over 500 poor debtors were committed for "non-payment." It would be difficult to convince those persons that there was not in the matter of debt one law for the rich and another law for the poor. How could they who made the law justify the longer continuance of this inequality? Justice demanded either that they should at once open the doors of all the gaols to those who were now confined therein for nonpayment of debt, or that all others, of whatever rank, who were guilty of the same offence should receive the same punishment. He did not know what the verdict of the House would be on the question which he had submitted to it by his Resolution; but of this he was sure, that outside that House there would be but one opinion—namely, that the continuance of a Privilege which operated so injuriously and unjustly was not for the public good, and ought to be abolished. With reference to the Amendment of the hon. Member for Londonderry (Mr. Charles Lewis), he (Mr. Blake) had but little to say. It related to a subject wholly and entirely distinct from that raised by his (Mr. Blake's) own Motion, and he would respectfully suggest to him the propriety of withdrawing it, and not mixing up questions which differed so widely. The bankruptcy of Members of that House, to which the proposed Amendment of the hon. Member for Londonderry related, had been provided for by the Bankruptcy Act, 32 & 33Vict.c. 71, Sections 120 to 124. They were briefly as follows:—Sect. 120 enacted that privilege of Parliament should not benefit in bankruptcy. Sect. 121 enacted— If a person, being a Member of the Commons House of Parliament, is adjudged bankrupt, he shall be and remain during one year from the date of the order of adjudication incapable of sitting and voting in that House, unless within that time, either the order is annulled, or the creditors who prove debts under the bankruptcy are fully paid and satisfied. (122.) If the bankruptcy is not annulled, or the debts of the bankrupt fully paid or satisfied within the year, the seat of such Member shall be vacant. (123.) Mr. Speaker thereupon to issue a new Writ. It was not his intention to discuss these provisions then, and he hoped the hon. Member would not ask the House to discuss them in connection with his (Mr. Blake's) Motion. If the hon. Member considered those provisions were not sufficiently stringent, he would have ample opportunity of raising the whole question. Two Bills for amending and enlarging the provisions of the Bankruptcy Act were now before the House—one introduced by the Government, and one by private Members. Both those Bills were referred to a Select Committee, and he would suggest to the hon. Member that he would best effect the object he had at heart by getting his own name placed on that Committee, or, failing that, offering to the Committee such evidence as he might deem important. Should he not adopt either of these courses, he would have ample opportunity, when the Bills came down for discussion, of raising the important question to which his Amendment pointed. He would now conclude by formally moving the Motion which stood in his name.

Motion made, and Question proposed, That the privilege of Immunity from Arrest, now enjoyed by Peers and Members of Parliament, is not for the public good, and ought to be abolished."—(Mr. Blake.)


who had given Notice of an Amendment to the Resolution, remarked that unquestionably, during the last few years, all the tendency of legislation had been towards the abolition of arrest for debt. It was quite true that in the Debtor and Creditor Bill passed in 1860, and in the various County Court Acts passed during the last 20 years, there was a residue of imprisonment for debt in certain circumstances still left to our Courts of Law. That residue was, however, of a very limited character, and the hon. Gentleman the senior Member for Derby (Mr. M. T. Bass) had on several occasions proposed to do alway altogether even with the limited power of the County Courts in regard to imprisonment for debt. Indeed, all the tendency of public discussion, both in and out of the House, had been in that direction. The first part of his Amendment was to the effect— That it was not advisable to extend the liability of any class of Her Majesty's subjects to arrest or imprisonment for debt. It did not follow, however, that he was an advocate for keeping up the present power of imprisonment as regarded the unprivileged classes; but as the case put by the hon. Gentleman opposite had arisen from a discussion in the newspapers of a claim for £2 8s.for coals supplied, it did not appear to him that any practical good would result from the House discussing it. The latter part of his Amendment declared— That it was advisable for the honour and dignity of this House that provision should be made for the immediate vacation of his seat by any Member who might become bankrupt or otherwise arrange or compound with his creditors under the Bankruptcy Laws. The first Act which related to the bankruptcy of Members was passed in 1812, and the Preamble declared that— Whereas it was necessary for the preservation of the dignity and independence of Members of Parliament that Members of the House of Commons who become bankrupt and do not pay their debts in full shall not retain their seats. Similar provisions to those under the Bankruptcy Act of 1869 were in the Act providing for a temporary suspension of a Member's position for 12 months, and then if he did not pay his debts in full, his seat was absolutely vacated. The Acts of 1833, 1849, and 1869 continued these provisions. When the first-named Act was passed there existed none of those hybrid arrangements which were subsequently introduced—such as composition with creditors and liquidation under the sanction of the Court. At present, perhaps, 29–30ths of the cases which went into the Court of Bankruptcy were carried out by liquidation or composition. This case had happened—a Member had gone into the Court of Bankruptcy, had liquidated his affairs by arrangement, and there had been no other result than this—that the creditors had not been paid. He would ask the House whether that was a satisfactory state of things? In Norwich there was a saying that an empty sack could not stand upright. That saying rested on a physical law; but it also illustrated a moral law. The action of the House of Lords in the last few years was a pretty good guide to what would be an improvement in the law of the Lower House relating to the bankruptcy of its Members. By the Act 34 & 35Vict.c. 50, passed in 1871, a Peer was disqualified from sitting and voting immediately on his bankruptcy; and he had not a year's licence or liberty to pay his creditors. Moreover, a Peer was disqualified under that Act if he made an arrangement of his affairs under bankruptcy, and not merely by form of bankruptcy. What had the Legislature done in other cases? The Education Act provided that if a member of the School Board was adjudged bankrupt, or entered into a composition or arrangement with his creditors, he should cease to be a member of the School Board, and that his office should thereupon become vacant. If that were so with the School Board, he would have thought it was a ten timesá fortioricase that in that House they should keep themselves perfectly free, and on the highest pinnacle of independence, with reference to the personal relations of Members with their creditors. A similar provision to that which applied to members of the School Board was also enacted in 1869 with regard to mayors, aldermen, town councillors, and justices of the peace; but no alteration was made in the status of Members of Parliament who might compound with their creditors. He was sure that no Member of the House, whether as an individual or in respect of his private character, would desire the present immunity of Members to continue. The present state of things was also opposed to the principle of consolidation in the law, which tended to make the law uniform, and which it was now endeavoured to effect. He had been one of those who supported the system of imprisonment for debt until he saw that it had become an instrument of oppression and a means of obtaining power over small debtors by tradesmen of a certain class, who induced the wife to take credit in order to get the money out of the husband by threat of imprisonment. The House of Lords had set them a good example, and he hoped the House of Commons would evince a disposition to follow it. The hon. Gentleman concluded by moving the Amendment which stood in his name.

Amendment proposed, To leave out from the word "That" to the end of the Question, in order to add the words "in the opinion of this House, it is not advisable to extend the liability of any class of Her Majesty's subjects to arrest or imprisonment for debt, but that it is advisable for the honour and dignity of this House that provision should be made for the immediate vacation of his seat by any Member who may become bankrupt or otherwise arrange or compound with his creditors under the Bankruptcy Laws,"—(Mr. Charles Lewis,) —instead thereof.

Question proposed, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."


thought that there was a great deal to be said in favour of the proposition of the hon. Member for Londonderry; but it did not seem to him that that proposal necessarily conflicted with the Motion of the hon. Member for Leominster. What was the condition of things at the time when the Privileges of Members of Parliament and Peers in this connection arose? Arrest for debt was then an every day occurrence; but now, in theory at all events, the supposition of the law was that no person could be arrested or imprisoned for debt unless he was a person who could pay his debts and would not, and such a person was as fraudulent as many of those who found their way to prison on direct charges of fraud. No doubt, in the practical working of the law, many people were now sent to prison who really ought not to be there, and a great deal of mischief was done by the present system of imprisonment under the County Courts Acts. He fully conceded all that had been said on that point. The law ought to deal with all alike; and the higher a man's social position was the more blameable he was in case he avoided the payment of debts; and he did not think that if the Resolution of his hon. Friend were adopted anyone would find his way to prison who did not richly deserve it. He agreed with most that had fallen from the hon. Member for Londonderry. There might be cases of great hardship, such as had happened to innocent trustees in the City of Glasgow Bank, who deserved nothing but sympathy. No one would desire that such persons should be put in the same position as those who were to blame for fraudulent non-payment of money due. Subject to that, he agreed with the spirit and object of the remarks of the hon. Member for Londonderry, whose proposition ought, he thought, to be moved, not as an Amendment, but as a rider to the original Motion.


felt, with his hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Herschell), that both the propositions were such as would, to a great extent, commend themselves to the consideration of the House; and he would suggest, as a solution of the difficulty in which they found themselves, that the hon. Member for Londonderry should add the latter part of his Resolution to the Motion before the House, and in that way, by one amended Resolution, the House would affirm the two principles. The House was indebted to the hon. Member for Londonderry for having brought the matter before the House; but he (Dr. Cameron) did not think he quite exhausted the anomalies of the law as to bankruptcy and its effect upon a Member's seat in Parliament, for it was a remarkable fact that sequestration, a process in every respect analogous to English bankruptcy, did not forfeit the seat of an hon. Member of that House. Such an anomaly certainly should not exist. As to the hypothetical case of hardship that had been quoted by the hon. and learned Gentleman who spoke last—the case of a trustee in the City of Glasgow Bank failure, who had been made bankrupt from no fault of his own—he must not forget that under present circumstances, unless that trustee could manage to get his bankruptcy annulled before the end of the year, he would be compelled to vacate his seat in the House. As to the privilege of freedom from arrest for debt, he did not think the hon. Member (Mr. Lewis) could have been in earnest when he based his Resolution on the objection to extend the principle for arrest for debt. As had been pointed out, although a change might take place in the customs on this subject, it was in the highest degree improbable that any Member of this House, or the House of Lords, would ever become a victim to that change. The privilege which they enjoyed was not by any means unmitigated benefit, for in consequence of their freedom from liability to arrest for debt it had been held that Members of Parliament could not enjoy the privilege of bail should they find themselves in the position of being in custody for some bailable offene. He thought there was very considerable room for doubt as to the decision of the County Court Judge in the case which had been under discussion; for he found, by reference to a number of cases in the valuable work on Parliamentary Practice of Sir Erskine May, that in recent years a number of cases had occurred in which Members of both Houses of Parliament had been committed for contempt of Court. Those cases, or some of them, had been brought before the House of Commons, and by repeated Resolutions it had been held that it was not desirable to interfere with the ordinary exercise of the law in such circumstances. It struck him very forcibly that had the same course been pursued in the case of the Peer in which his hon. Friend (Mr. Blake's) Motion had originated the Peer might have the matter brought before the House as a Breach of Privilege, but nothing further would have resulted from it.


hoped the Amendment would be either moved substantively, or as a rider to the Resolution. The matter might find a place, he thought, when the Bankruptcy Bill of the Government was dealt with. The reason why the proposition should remain a separate Resolution, and not be mixed up with the Law of Bankruptcy, was, that it was a matter which stood by itself, as the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Lewis) had stated, under a very different state of the law. The Law of Arrest might be abused in the main so as to interfere with the ordinary Business of the House; but the time had gone by for the occurrence of anything of that kind, and they had all come to wonder why an abuse of that kind should have lasted so long. It was not because efforts had not been made to repeal the law, for he remembered giving assistance some years ago to Mr. Moffatt in an endeavour to get rid of it. Mr. Moffatt's Bill was favourably received, and he thought it had passed a Second Reading; but owing to several influential Leaders in the House having set themselves against it it was ultimately thrown out. He thought the hon. Gentleman who introduced the Motion to-night might take warning from that circumstance, and not be too enthusiastic about success merely upon the first Motion. There were, perhaps, the petty evils in this matter that were found to belong to all Bills, and they would have to make provision for particular cases in which it might not be easy to calm the apprehensions of Members. For instance, there might be a dread that they might become liable to arrest when going to attend a Committee. The Resolution should be followed up by a Bill; and he trusted that the subject would not be incumbered with any mention of the House of Lords, for he considered it quite enough that they should deal with their own House. He thought that, with the assistance of the Government, the Motion and the Bill might be passed, and so relieve them of the scandal and disgrace arising from the exercise of the present Privilege.


agreed that it would be as well if the two Houses were to cooperate on this question, although he did not see how they could do so without joining in an Act of Parliament. The exemption from arrest now enjoyed by Members of that House subtracted from the jurisdiction of the Courts of Law; and hon. Members should set an example of submission rather than of opposition to the jurisdiction of the Courts. As regarded the cases of composition, it was a monstrous thing that a Member who had compounded with his creditors, and whose action resulted in a dividend to them of only a very small sum, should be allowed to retain his seat in the House. The Rules of the House of Lords were more stringent. The question, however, was one which might be usefully dealt with by the Committee which was now sitting upon the Bankruptcy Bill; and it would be unwise to hamper the deliberations of that Committee by passing any Resolution on the subject at the present moment.


I rise to Order, Mr. Speaker. I wish to know, before this debate proceeds further, if you will inform the House whether it is in Order, and proper and convenient, that a Resolution should be brought before this House dealing with the Privileges of the other House of Parliament?


The Resolution proposed by the hon. Member for Leominster is simply a Resolution of this House; and I am not prepared to say that it is not competent for hon. Members of this House to invite the House to express an opinion in reference to matters of Privilege affecting both Houses of Parliament.


hoped that the proposition contained in the two Resolutions which had been brought before the House would be discussed separately. The privilege of being exempt from arrest for debt was not now of much practical value. It was a mere theoretical exemption; and it might, therefore, be well to abolish that which created an anomaly between different classes in the State. In his opinion, however, the House should proceed with some caution in the direction indicated by the Amendment of the hon. Member for Londonderry. When it was necessary that a person should possess a property qualification before becoming a Member of that House, the fact of his becoming a bankrupt and so losing that qualification might have been important. If the Amendment of the hon. Member for Londonderry were agreed to, no time would be allowed to a Member to either annul his bankruptcy or to pay his debts. Thus, in the case of a Member becoming a bankrupt and ceasing to be a Member of the House, the constituency might be put to the trouble and cost of a new election; and yet, after all, it might turn out that the Member ought not to have been made bankrupt at all. This would go far beyond the legislation of former times, which suspended a Member from his functions for 12 months, and allowed him to return to them if, in the interval; he obtained his discharge. The motives which weighed with the House of Lords in the Act of 1834–5, relating to Scotch and Irish Peers, should press with far greater force in relation to those Members; for not only was their position to be considered, but also that of their constituents, who might desire to retain their services, particularly if no moral wrong had been committed. There was special reason for consideration in the case of those who were engaged in manufacturing and commercial pursuits, and subject to all their viscissitudes, and who might become bankrupt without any blame attaching to them. The argument was that if a gentleman was not always able to pay all his debts he should be suspended; but he was afraid there were at least some of the Members in the present House—he hoped they were not many—who, if they were asked whether in the whole course of their career they had ever been in that position, would have to admit the fact. He thought the question was one which ought to be approached with caution, and would be much better dealt with in a Bill than by a crude and broad Resolution like that now brought forward. The details of the subject could thereby be much more readily discussed than in a debate on the general terms of a Motion.


said, he did not desire, after what had fallen from the hon. and learned Gentleman (Sir Henry James) and others who had spoken, in favour of the Resolution, to go into the matter at any length. He thought that in both the Resolution and the Amendment there was something which they could find to agree upon; though, for his part, he thought there was more shadow than substance. For his own part, he should be prepared to vote for the last part of the Amendment of his hon. Friend (Mr. Charles Lewis), though he quite thought that great caution was required in the matter. Any question affecting the Privileges of the House of Lords must be delicate ground, and the amount of time the House had had to consider the question was insufficient. He quite agreed that persons who were Members of the House, and who had most important duties to perform both in the House and in the Committees upstairs—duties relating to large and im- portant transactions of all kinds—should not be liable to be arrested at any moment a creditor might think fit to set the law in motion. He was reminded by the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Sir Henry James) that it was one thing to suspend a man, and quite another toipso factoexpel him without inquiry, and especially if there was no fraud attached to it. It might be right that, in the case of bankruptcy, a Member should be suspended from his functions for a time, but, at all events, without affecting his constituents; however, as the matter would, in all probability, be considered by the Committee about to sit on the subject of Bankruptcy Law, he could not help thinking that it would be the wiser course for both the Motion and the Amendment to be withdrawn, and that the hon. Member should satisfy himself with having drawn attention to the subject; for he had, at all events, gained his point so far, that he had brought that important matter to the attention of the House.


suggested to the hon. Member for Leominster the propriety of omitting from his Resolutions all reference to the Peers. He could not help thinking, notwithstanding the Speaker's ruling, that they were treading on dangerous ground.


I rise to make a suggestion on the point which has just been referred to by the hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir William Fraser), though not for a moment, Sir, questioning what has already fallen from you, and which, if not sufficiently supported by your own authority, is, unquestionably, upon its merits. There is what I may call a comity prevailing between the House of Lords and the House of Commons; and I have known instances when proposals made in this House which were unquestionably in the power of Members to make, and within the jurisdiction of this House to entertain, have been withdrawn simply on that ground. It does not follow that it is to be a universal maxim that under no circumstances are we to entertain questions affecting the Privileges and immunities of the House of Lords. I should decline to assent to any abstract Resolution of the kind; but I confess I am strongly prepared to adopt the view of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Taunton (Sir Henry Tames), and vote for the Motion in re- gard to Members of this House; but I think the Motion would be very greatly improved, and I should be relieved from a difficulty which to me is insurmountable, if the suggestion made by the hon. Gentleman opposite is adopted, and all that relates to the House of Lords omitted from the Resolution.


said, he was willing to amend the Resolution by omitting the mention of Peers.


pointed out that, as there was an Amendment before the House, the Resolution could not be amended until that Amendment was withdrawn or otherwise disposed of.


said, he would be glad to relieve the House from, any difficulty by withdrawing his Amendment, if the Mover of the Resolution would, consent to withdraw also; but he would not do so to allow the Motion to be amended.

Question put.

The Housedivided:—Ayes 111; Noes 128: Majority 17.—(Div. List, No. 21.)

Question, "That those words be there added," put, andnegatived.

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