HL Deb 24 July 1862 vol 168 cc726-8

said, he wished in justice to the Officers of that House to call their Lordships' attention to certain statements which had been made with regard to the manner in which the Journals of that House were kept, and to certain imputations which had been cast upon the Officers of the House in a Report of a Committee of the other House of Parliament on Parliamentary Proceedings, in which it was stated that the Lords' Journals were generally a year and a half or two years in arrear, and therefore, whenever the Commons wished to search them, there were no Journals to search, but an entry was prepared to satisfy the requirements of the House of Commons; whereas the Journals of their own (the Commons') House were always entered up and printed to the current time. That evidence had been given by the Clerk Assistant of the House of Commons. He thought it but justice to the Officers of their Lordships' House to state the manner in which this portion of their duties was carried on. The Minutes of Proceedings of each day, and all documents presented, were sent up to the Journal Office, where they were developed by the Journal Clerks, so as to state, in a formal manner, what the House had done. This development of the Minutes into the form of the Journal was made ordinarily within a week, sometimes within a day or two, except as regarded the Judgments on Appeals, which, though entered as of the day, were often not finally settled for a considerable time. When developed, as before mentioned, they were at once sent to the printer, and the proofs were returned as soon as printed, and filed in the Journal Office within three or four weeks, or less, of the day to which they related. If within that period an inspection was desired, it was the practice to make out a fresh original entry for that purpose. The state of the case at present was this:—The revised proofs up to the 30th of May this year were printed, and he believed he might also say the proof sheets of the Proceedings up to the 11th of July and the manuscripts up to the 21st of July were nearly completed. Therefore everything was absolutely printed and revised up to the 30th of May, and most of the remaining records were not a fortnight behind-hand. There was one class of Proceedings with regard to which there was some delay—namely, the judgments on appeals; but such delay was incident to these records in consequence of the great care requisite in their preparation, and it sometimes occurred that the form in which some particular point of the judgment should be entered, especially as respected costs (the bills for which must be taxed and their amount set forth), were strongly contested. No such occasion for delay could occur in the preparation of the Commons' Journals. At the commencement of every Session there were always two copies of the Journals in the library for the use of any Members that might require them; but after that there was an interval which varied from a month or two before the Proceedings were ready for publication. With regard to the statement, that when the other House sent to search the Journals, they only found entries prepared for the purpose, and that there were no Journals to search, the facts were that during the last ten years only twelve searches were made by the Committees: three of them took place on the day of the transactions which gave rise to the search, four on the next day, and two on the day after that, there being an intervening Sunday, and one on the fourth day. It was not surprising, then, that under such circumstances the Journals containing those particular entries were not in print. He regretted extremely that this statement of the case had not been given before the Committee of the House of Commons. He was sure, however, their Lordships would feel that it was but due to the Officers of that House, who were most diligent, painstaking, and accurate, that he should make that statement.


asked, to whose evidence the noble Lord referred.


said, Mr. May's, than whom no person was better acquainted with the proceedings of Parliament.

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