HL Deb 19 May 1862 vol 166 cc1861-2

, in rising to move the appointment of a Select Committee to take into consideration the present mode of taking divisions in their Lordships' House, observed, that he felt rather embarrassed by the notice which his noble Friend the Chairman of Committees (Lord Redesdale) had given of a Resolution on the subject. Some noble Lords might be of opinion that the subject would be better dealt with by a Resolution; he thought, however, that the preferable course would be to appoint a Committee upstairs to consider the question. In order to show the importance of caution and deliberation, he might refer to what had taken place the other evening, when a Member of the House (the Bishop of Winchester) having gone into the wrong lobby with the "Contents," instead of, as he had intended, with the "Not-Contents," it was resolved to follow the practice of the House of Commons, and to ask the right rev. Prelate whether he had heard the Question put, how he had voted, and how he intended to vote, and thereupon his vote was recorded with the Not-Contents; and the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack, in apologizing to a noble Duke (the Duke of Buccleuch) for the question he had put, said that he had acted in the same way as the Speaker of the House of Commons was accustomed to act under similar circumstances. He had found, however, on reference to the Journals of the House of Commons, that in April, 1856, an analogous case had occurred, when it was ruled that a Member having gone into the wrong lobby his vote was recorded there, although he stated in reply to questions put by the Speaker that he had intended to vote on the other side. The Resolution, then, on which they acted the other evening was precisely the reverse of that followed by the House of Commons. There were other points which it might be useful to investigate in a Select Committee, such as the mode of putting the question— whether, as in the Commons, it might not be advisable to allow two minutes to elapse after the bar was ordered to be cleared, and before the Question was finally put; and whether, when the Question was put, those Peers who had been in the lobbies, and not technically "within the House," were entitled to vote. He thought the adoption of that rule would conduce very much to the order and regularity of their proceedings. If a Select Committee were likely to be productive of expense to the country, or to make too great a demand upon the time of its Members, there would be many objections to it; but he was convinced that it would be able, in the course of two or three days, to investigate the subject, and make a satisfactory Report to the House. He would move— That a Select Committee be appointed to take into consideration the Resolution of the House regulating the Mode of taking Divisions, and to report whether any Improvement can be effected in the same.


said, he did not think the noble Marquess had made out a case which called for the appointment of a Select Committee, as the Resolution on the paper which was to be presently proposed by the noble Lord the Chairman of Committees would remedy the inconvenience which might arise from the recurrence of a recent irregularity. He did not think the House of Lords called on to adopt the practice of the Commons with regard to the time given between calling for a division and taking it, and ringing a bell in the interim. In the House of Commons it was necessary to give notice of coming divisions to those Members who might be sitting on Committees in distant parts of the building; but the reason which made such a practice necessary with regard to the Commons did not exist in their Lordships' House. If the Resolution of Lord Redesdale did not answer its purpose, a Committee might afterwards be appointed.

Motion (by leave of the House) withdrawn.