HL Deb 12 June 1890 vol 345 cc675-6

Order of the Day for the Second Reading, read.


My Lords, this subject has been introduced now for several years. I happen to know that a Member of the other House is extremely anxious to introduce there a Bill of this description. It is, I know, your Lordships' habit in this House to cultivate brevity of speech, and only last Thursday a noble Lord who is connected with the Haddington County Council proposed that no speaker should exceed 10 minutes in that assembly. Long speeches lead to no good results. In many congresses and conferences members are not permitted to speak for more than 10, 15, or 20 minutes. The High Commissioners of the Established Church in Scotland have proposed that the duration of speeches should be limited to 15 minutes. Of course, in Committee, or anything of that kind, that would be unnecessary. My Lords, I have only further to point out that the sounding of a bell is not so very offensive, and even then if no other speaker rises the speaker addressing the House might continue his remarks. I really think there is not one of your Lordships who would wish to have the privilege of speaking for two or three hours, and it is not the characteristic of speeches in your Lordships' House, that they should be expanded to any great length. I believe, my Lords, that this Bill would do a great deal of good. We know that an undue extension of speeches may do the greatest possible harm.

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


My Lords, I am sorry to say that I am under the painful necessity of moving your Lordships that this Bill should be read a second time this day six months. I do not think the noble Lord has done justice to himself or to the House, because he has not given any description of the provisions of the measure. I do not know whether your Lordships have read the Bill, but it proposes a kind of procedure which certainly would not add to the dignity of this House, or stimulate the despatch of business. The examples which the noble Lord has cited in the Preamble of his Bill are the Social Science Congress in Edinburgh and the diocesan conferences at Lichfield, Nottingham, and Derby. I am quite unable to follow what is to happen if such a Bill as this were to pass, because I see it is proposed that the clerk should sound a bell, as is done at those conferences. Then, I observe that it is intended to allow a Privy Councillor to speak for half an hour (and under certain circumstances an hour), while other noble Lords would only be allowed half that time. I think that an invidious distinction. I do not think the noble Lord can really desire that such a Bill should pass into law; and I feel it my duty to move that the Bill be read a second time this day six months. When the Question comes to be put, I hope the noble Lord will challenge my opinion audibly, so that I may know whether the noble Lord desires to divide.


It is proposed in the House of Commons to give Privy Councillors an unlimited time and other Members much less. This day six months will be a very inconvenient postponement, and I hope your Lordships will not agree to it.

Amendment moved to leave out ("now") and add at the end of the Motion ("this day six months.")—(The Lord Chancellor.)

On question that ("now") stand part of the Motion, resolved in the negative; and Bill to be read 2a on this day six months.