HC Deb 21 July 1881 vol 263 cc1476-8

said, he desired to put a Question on a point of Order to the Speaker, of which he had given private Notice to the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. Newdegate). It was, Whether, as the hon. Gentleman had admitted in the Court of Queen's Bench that he gave a bond to the common informer Clarke, who was Plaintiff in the action of "Clarke against Bradlaugh," engaging to indemnify him against all costs in the action which were not paid by the Plaintiff or covered by the penalty, the hon. Gentleman was not acting contrary to the rule which precluded a Member from voting on a matter in which he had a pecuniary interest. The hon. Member had blocked the first reading of a Bill which he had asked leave to introduce in order to relieve Mr. Bradlaugh from his liability for certain penalties for which Clarke was suing. The Rule, as given in Sir Erskine May's work, was— In the Commons it is a distinct rule that no Member who has a direct pecuniary interest in a question shall be allowed to vote upon it; and he would submit to Mr. Speaker whether blocking a Bill was not constructively voting against it?


said, he ventured to express a hope that the House would not take any proceedings upon the matter to which the hon. Member for Northampton had referred until, if the House should so think fit, the evidence given upon the trial now proceeding could be printed for the information of the House. He was the more confident in this expectation since it was a Rule of the House that it would not take cognizance of matters which were pending as part of judicial proceedings before the Courts of Law.


asked, whether the hon. Gentleman should not also adhere to the Rule that no Member who had a direct pecuniary interest in a question should take part in it? He was quite ready, if the hon. Gentleman said he was wrong in what he had stated, to admit his error at once; but he was in Court when the statement was made.


rose to Order, and asked whether such an interrogation as had been put could properly be addressed by one hon. Member to another?


I understand the hon. Member for Northampton (Mr. Labouchere) to have put a Question to the Chair on a point of Order. As the House is aware, any Member having a direct pecuniary interest in any matter before the House who gives a vote upon that matter, is liable to have his vote disallowed; but, without expressing any opinion on this particular case, I may say that the Rule does not preclude a Member from giving Notice of opposition to a Bill if he thinks proper to do so.