HC Deb 21 February 1896 vol 37 cc833-4

asked leave to bring in a Bill for shortening the duration of speeches in the Commons House of Parliament.


said, he would briefly state the reasons why he submitted the House should take the somewhat unusual course of not giving leave to introduce the Bill. The Bill was one of an unprecedented nature. It proposed to interfere with the privileges and powers of this House in a manner which had never been equalled even by the most despotic monarch in the history of their country. The object which the hon. Member had in view could be attained by the House passing a Standing Order, which would have the same effect as that which he proposed to enact by law. If an Act of Parliament was broken in this House he was not aware that the Speaker had any power inherent in him to compel its observance. An Act of Parliament was a brutum fulmen unless it was accompanied with pains and penalties, and he took it that Mr. Speaker could not enforce them. If an hon. Member chose to go on speaking beyond the time proposed in the Bill, he doubted whether the Speaker could order him to sit down as he could under a Standing Order to that effect. It would therefore be a question of a magistrate and pains and penalties. They did not want anything of that kind in this House. Again, supposing such an Act to pass, and they wanted to alter it? Instead of altering it as they could a Standing Order, they would have to ask the permission of the Monarch and the House of Peers. They ought not to discuss such a Bill, and they ought not to allow it to be brought in.


submitted that if his hon. Friend was right, then Mr. Speaker Peel and the House over which he presided was wrong, for a Bill of precisely the same character was brought in and its First Reading agreed to. He would venture to suggest that perhaps his hon. Friend had opposed this Bill because he was not aware that such a Bill had been introduced during the interregnum which took place in his Parliamentary service, by reasons over which he had no control, between the time when he represented Stockport and the borough which he now so ably represented. It would be improper for him to go into the details of the Bill, and he would only remind hon. Members that in the Bill to which he had already referred there was a clause that assimilated its procedure to the House of Clerical Convocation. He was aware that his hon. Friend was a well-known speaker at those assemblies, and therefore it was possible that because that clause had been omitted from his Bill, his hon. and learned Friend objected to it. He could only say that this was a small measure which he had endeavoured to promote in the interests of hon. Members, and if the House did not give it a First Reading, their decision would be accepted with all due humility by himself.

The House divided:—Ayes, 167; Noes, 100.—(Division List No. 9.)

Bill ordered to be brought in by Major Rasch, Sir Howard Vincent, Mr. Barnes, Mr. Radcliffe Cooke, and Major Banes; to be read 2a upon Tuesday, 10th March.—[Bill 100.]

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