HC Deb 22 February 1897 vol 46 cc882-4

I beg to ask the Attorney General whether, inasmuch as the copy of an amending Order making regulations under the Agricultural Rates Act 1896, which was laid upon the Table on the 5th instant, was not issued until the 18th instant, that is, three days after the time limited by section 6, sub-section 3, for objecting to the Order, there has been a substantial compliance with the provisions of the statute; and whether the Order is now binding in law?


I am of opinion that the statute has been complied with, and the Order referred to by the hon. and learned Member is now in force and binding. The condition of the statute is, that the Order shall be laid before both Houses of Parliament. This was done on February 5th, and the Votes and proceedings of both Houses record the fact. If, as I gather from the Question, there was some delay in the printing and distribution to the Members of the House, this does not invalidate the Order.


said it appeared that, in the opinion of the learned Attorney General, there was no legal remedy. It was obvious, therefore, that it was necessary—[Ministerial cries of "Order!"]


Is the hon. and learned Member rising to a point of Order?


said that, to secure the rights of Members of the House, he wished to know, when Papers were presented pursuant to statute and ordered to be printed, who was responsible for seeing that the Papers were printed and circulated without delay?


replied that the hon. and learned Member had the same means as himself of finding out what Department was responsible. It was a little difficult to say.


said the Local Government Board had repudiated responsibility.


said that as this had happened two years in succession would the Parliamentary Secretary to the Local Government Board undertake that in future if the important Order referred to in the Question was interfered with by verbal or other amending Orders, he would call the attention of the House to the matter?


replied that he would consult the President of the Local Government Board on the point, but the Board had complied with the statute and were in no way responsible.

SIR W. HARCOURT (Monmouthshire, W.)

I think everyone has suffered very much through the delay in printing Papers after they are laid on the Table of the House. Papers are laid on the Table and ordered to be printed, and then days, sometimes weeks, expire before they are in the hands of Members. May I ask whether in this House there is any authority to cause Papers which have been laid on the Table to be printed and circulated without delay?


Certainly papers which have been laid on the Table and ordered to be printed ought to be printed and circulated at the earliest possible moment. I will inquire into the matter, and if I find I have any authority I shall be ready to exercise it. ["Hear, hear!"]


asked whether there was not an Order of the House binding not only on the department concerned but on the officers of the House, to insure the speedy delivery of Papers that had been printed among Members of the House?


If any such Order of the kind is brought to my notice, I will consider its application.