HL Deb 13 August 1884 vol 292 cc649-51

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.

Moved, "That the Bill be now read 2a."—(The Lord Monson.)


I believe it is not unusual, at the end of the Session, for some remarks to be made in your Lordships' House on the second reading of the Appropriation Bill, to show whether the moneys voted are compensated for by the value of the measures passed. Several valuable Bills have failed, and on the 10th of July three important measures—the Bill as to superseding the Lord Advocate, Scotland, the Women's Suffrage Bill, and the Marriage with a Deceased Wife's Sister Bill—were suddenly stopped. On the 10th of July, 1856, the Premier, in opposing the Appellate Jurisdiction Bill (House of Lords), stated that— The House of Commons is not reduced to such a sorry pass as that when a question of this kind is presented to it, touching most nearly the very foundations of one House of Parliament—touching most delicate matters with respect to the Prerogative of the Crown—and also involving most important topics with respect to the administration of justice—I say, when such a question is presented to the House at a time when the Appropriation Bill has begun to run its rapid course, I do not think the House is reduced to such a pass that every reason is to be confuted, every authority to be silenced, every argument to be set aside, and every objection to be met by the simple statement that the present condition of things is intolerable, and that the House has no choice but to accept what is offered to them."—(3 Hansard, [143] 597–8.) The right hon. Gentleman went on to say— Does not even decency require—I will not say duty to our constituents—but does not even that decorum, which our constituents have a right to demand that we should observe, require that for some short weeks we should deliberate on a question of this kind, before finally committing ourselves to an arrangement over which our control ceases when once we adopt it?"—(Ibid. 599.) The right hon. Gentleman further said— I believe that the independence of the House of Peers will be most secure so long as all the functions which that House has to dis- charge are discharged gratuitously."—(Ibid. 605.) On the same measure, in the House of Lords, I was in a minority of 4 against 44, the Leader of the Opposition (the late Earl of Derby) voting with the Ministry; but in the House of Commons 155 voted against the Bill and 133 for it: Majority 22.—[Ibid. 613]—and so the necessity for three Law Lords was postponed for about 20 years. On the O'Connell case, the name of every Peer who spoke, although in the presence of the Judges, was placed with his words in the Law Report. On the appeal of Mr. Bradlaugh I attended every day, heard the whole argument, and gave my vote, and the reasons for it. I mention this for the sake of my brother Peers, not for my own sake, as I am in my 80th year, but that noble Lords and their sons may be well able to understand every clause in Committee on Bills; and I will venture in the Autumn Session—which I advocated in 1856—to sit on any Appeal of which I have heard the whole discussion, and claim my right. In the time of King Edward III., five Lords were expressly named to sit on Appeals—against delay of Courts of Justice—and to report to the House; but, latterly, the decisions have been of the Whole House—beginning the Sitting with Prayers. On the day of the great demonstration, at the International Health Exhibition—in the presence of Lord Mount-Temple and Dr. Farquharson (Member for Aberdeen)—I was asked to respond to part of the toast for the Houses of Parliament, and to avoid politics, and not to speak more than two minutes. Luckily, the proposer alluded to Life Peerages, as likely to be the result of the demonstration, and named two eminent individuals. I ventured to say that, if their presence were necessary, enough should be voted for them to sustain the burden of an hereditary Peerage—and I kept within the time. I added that the Business of the country could never be carried on unless speeches were shortened. I reminded the advocates of Life Peerages that we are living under an hereditary Monarchy, and that my father always upheld the Constitution, and that I had studied it and endeavoured to do the same. The past Session has been a most extraordinary one; but I am glad to see my noble Relative (Lord Monson) in the place he occupies, as he will always redress grievances and support the Constitution.

Motion agreed to; Bill read 2a accordingly.

Committee negatived: Then Standing Order No. XXXV. considered (according to order), and dispensed with; Bill read 3a, and passed.

House adjourned at half past Three o'clock, till To-morrow, Two o'clock.