HC Deb 01 March 1894 vol 21 cc1129-31

It may be for the convenience of the House that I should read the few short Regulations which I have thought it necessary to draw up for the purpose of carrying out the change which was proposed the other evening in the system of ballotting in connection with private Members' Bills in the early part of the Session. I propose— That, to save the time of the House, the Ballot, at the commencement of next Session to determine the precedence of Notices to bring in Bills, other than Government Bills, shall be held on the second day of the Session instead of the first, in Grand Committee Room E at noon. Members are reminded that only those Notices which have been handed in at the Table during the Sitting of the House on the first day of the Session will be entitled to be included in the first Ballot to be so held. It is proposed to print with the Votes the Notices for Bills handed in on the first day, so that all that will have to be settled by the Ballot will be the order inter se in which the Motions for Bills are to appear on the third day of Session when the introduction, first reading, and appointing a day for the second reading on the Motion of the Member in charge of the Bill, will take place with the Speaker in the Chair as heretofore. The Ballot for Notices (other than for Bills) for the first four Tuesdays will take place in the House as usual. Members are reminded that until the Committee of Supply is set up at the conclusion of the Debate on the Address no Notices can be received for Friday on Supply.


MR. SEXTON (Kerry, N.)

submitted, with all respect for the scheme of altered procedure, that though it, aimed at the general convenience of the House, it—as it appeared to him—would diminish the rights of private Members. Under the present system a Member could give notice before the Ballot, and might be interested in more than one Bill, any of which ho might give notice of. At the Ballot a Member might draw the most important Bill, but it would still be open to any Member to give notice as to the Bill he deemed next in importance. But the consequence of the new Rule would be that several Members would give notice of the same Bill, and when the name of one Member connected with that Bill was drawn all the other Members would be placed in this position—that they would not be able to make any use of the place they obtained by the Ballot. Croups of Members might be interested in numbers of Bills. If each Member gave notice of the Bill which he considered of most importance, only one Bill could be brought in, and the other notices would fall to the ground. He ventured to suggest that the scheme would be as convenient as the Speaker proposed it to be, and at the same time the rights of Members remain undiminished, if notice were given in that House at the Table on the first day of the new Session simply of the name of the Member, and that Member should have the right to reserve until the Ballot next day the title of the Bill which he proposed to introduce.


I am very much obliged to the hon. Gentleman for bringing forward a matter of such importance. I am not quite sure that the practice to which the hon. Member has alluded has not been rather abused, the Forms of the House originally, I believe, being that a Member can only give one notice of a Bill at the Ballot, but a number of Members have coalesced for the purpose of giving an extra chance to a particular Bill. But what the hon. Member asks, that several Members should combine for a group of Bills, would defeat the Rule that each Member should only give one notice at the Ballot. Still, I should be very happy to consult the general convenience of the House, which is my only desire.


asked if the effect of the new plan would not be that Members would give notice of not one, but of every Bill in which they were interested, and thereby produce an inconvenient multiplicity of notices?

*SIR J. GOLDSMID (St. Pancras, S.)

thought there was another point of very great importance to be borne in mind. Many hon. Members might wish to give notice of only one Bill, and thus those who did not enter into combination with another set of Members would be placed at great disadvantage. He therefore asked the Speaker whether he would not revert to the ancient practice of putting all Members on perfect equality?


May I suggest that as the question raises matters of considerable importance and difficulty, and as there are also matters which can hardly be carried to a satisfactory conclusion in a prolonged conversation between the Chair and Members of the House, some other method of communication might with advantage be adopted, when I have no doubt that some method of meeting the general sense of the equity of the case will, under Mr. Speaker's auspices and the guidance of his judgment, be readily attained?

[The subject then dropped.]

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