HC Deb 30 March 1885 vol 296 cc1008-10

who had the next Notice on the Paper, in the following words:— To call attention to the frequent miscarriage of justice in the conviction of innocent men for murder and other crimes, and to the opinions expressed by the Home Secretary and the Attorney General in this House in favour of enacting some method by which doubtful cases of the kind may be re-considered; and to move, That it is necessary that an appeal from conviction in criminal cases be provided by Law, said: Since I placed this Notice upon the Paper, I have received an intimation from Mr. Speaker that the Motion is in contravention of the Standing Order which was passed in order to enable the House to get more rapidly into Committee of Supply on Mondays and Thursdays. Of course, I shall bow to the ruling of the Chair, and will, therefore, postpone the Motion; but I must express my regret at being unable to bring forward this question of social mischief, which is of great gravity to the community and productive of much private suffering. I hope before long to call the attention of the House to the subject, and will do so to-morrow, if possible, on the Motion for Adjournment.


This is a matter of some importance, and I was certainly not aware that you, Sir, had given any ruling upon the point of Order. I would venture to suggest that if, on the first occasion of moving the Civil Service Estimates, a question is ruled out of Order because it happens to apply to some other class of the Estimates than those which are down for consideration in Committee, the Standing Order would almost entirely deprive hon. Members of the power supposed to be reserved to them of entering into a general discussion on the first occasion of going into Supply upon the Civil Service Estimates, because it would be in the power of the Government to put down any particular class of the Estimates they chose, or any particular Vote of any particular class—for instance, Vote 1 of Class I. I wish, Sir, to know whether your ruling is that the debate on going into Committee of Supply on the first night of the Army, Navy, or Civil Service Estimates, must be confined to the particular Votes set down upon the Paper, or to the subjects comprised within a particular class of the Votes? I must confess that, if the Standing Order is to be so construed, it would very nearly deprive the House of the power supposed to be reserved to it of opening a general discussion on the first night of going into Committee of Supply. I would, therefore, submit to your decision this very important question—whether the privilege reserved to the House of raising a general debate on the Order of the Day for going into Committee of Supply (Civil Service Estimates) on the first night does not extend to any question which may be raised in discussion upon any matter comprised within the whole range of the Civil Service Estimates, or in any branch of them, just as upon the Army Estimates the debate may apply to any class or subject treated in the Army Estimates, and the same with the Navy Estimates, no matter whether the subject raised is irrelevant to the particular class of Estimates put down for consideration? If we are to be confined to the particular class of Estimates selected for consideration on the first night of Supply, I confess that we should lose altogether an important privilege which we are supposed to enjoy, and which was certainly not in- tended to be interfered with when the Standing Order was passed.


In reply to the hon. Gentleman, I have to say that he has, perhaps very naturally, misunderstood the reason which influenced me in the ruling which I privately conveyed to the hon. and learned Gentleman. It was not in reference to any particular class of Estimates which might be put down for the evening. That was not the reason on which I founded my ruling; but it was upon the terms of the Standing Order which provides that no Amendment can be moved, or any question raised, unless it relates to the Estimates proposed to be taken in Supply, which I take to mean in Committee of Supply generally, and not in reference to any particular class of Estimates. On looking at the terms of the hon. and learned Gentleman's Amendment, I found that it did not refer to any action of the Executive, and did not impugn the conduct of any officer whose salary is comprised in the Estimates to be taken generally, but that what the hon. and learned Gentleman proposed to do was to call attention to the propriety of introducing a general amendment of the law. If every question of a general amendment of the law were to be discussed on the first night of the Estimates, the House would see that there might be no end to the discussion; and I do not think that, in such circumstances, I should be keeping either to the letter or the spirit of the Rule if I permitted the hon. and learned Gentleman to move his Amendment.