HL Deb 13 May 1887 vol 314 cc1799-800

, in rising to call attention to the subject of noticing and limiting the duration of speeches in Parliament, and to present a Bill thereupon, said, that Mr. Caine, in his Amendment on Procedure, wished to allow such ordinary Members as himself (Lord Denman) in their Lordships' House a full hour and to give Privy Councillors unlimited time; but whilst lie (Lord Denman) thought an hour too much for an ordinary speaker, he considered some notice of time necessary. He had no wish to speak disrespectfully of those who could enchain and delight either House by a three hours' speech; and, indeed, he had found in a letter by his lamented Predecessor, when a young barrister—"I had the pleasure of hear- ing myself speak for three hours." He (Lord Denman) deemed both Houses of Parliament to be one, for even if figures (in red ink or italics) were inserted in a Bill begun in the House of Lords, if the House of Commons accepted those figures, it became law. No one would wish to interrupt an able speaker in the midst of an argument, and if he were to sit down for a moment and no one to rise, he might continue his speech. He had himself been tied to a two minutes' speech, avoiding politics, and he believed a quarter of an hour might suffice for many in both Houses. At Derby, a party of 300 men at their breakfast, enjoyed an exposition of the Holy Scriptures by a minister, either an Independent, or Congregationalist, Wesleyan, or Presbyterian, "for half-an-hour, and at the end of that time a musician began to play, and so harmoniously put an end to the discourse. In many speakers of ability agreeing to this Bill might be a "Self-Denying Ordinance." It was best for both Houses to consider this, and for the second reading to be postponed till after the Whitsuntide Vacation. The Bill might be the same as is used at Diocesan conferences. He (Lord Denman) had seen in Punch a caricature of a room, round which were telephones, through which Members of Parliament were speaking to their constituents, whilst others addressed the House of Commons. A suggestion had been made that they might write to newspapers; but he had no confidence in them, and they had made him appear to have uttered such nonsense that, but for Mr. Hansard, he would appear to the public as the stupidest man breathing.

Bill to ascertain and limit the duration of speeches in Parliament—Presented (The Lord DENMAN); read la. (No. 97.)