HL Deb 27 March 1890 vol 343 cc8-10

My Lords, I beg to move the Motion of which I have given notice, with one variation with regard to the names. I omit that of Lord Greville, because I find he has not yet taken the oath—it is not because there is any difference of opinion—and there will be added the name of Lord Coleridge.

Moved, That the following Lords be at liberty to sign, before the rising of the House for the Easter Recess, the Protest entered against the Resolution of the House of Friday 21st March, although their Lordships were not present when the question was put:—

M. Breadalbane. L. Acton.
E. Chesterfield. L. Aberdare.
E. Ashburnham. L. Coleridge.
V. Hampden. L. Hothfield.
L. Camoys. L. Northbourne.
L. Wentworth. L. Hobhouse.
L. Vernon. L. Burton.
L. Thurlow. L. Hamilton of Dalzell.
L. Leigh. L. Thring.

—(The Earl Granville).


My Lords, I am not going to take exception to the registering of the "Noes" proposed by the noble Earl without the "Ayes," and by way of what really ought to be an addition, although I am afraid it may give a somewhat false impression in regard to those noble Lords who were ready to vote in their places in the House; but I would beg to call his attention to a Standing Order which is totally contrary to his Motion, and the suspension of which ho ought therefore to have put in the forefront. As I have said, I do not object to his Motion; but for the sake of regularity in the proceedings of the House, I must call his attention to the 35th Standing Order, which is this— Such Lords as shall make protestation or enter their dissents to any votes of this House as they have a right to do without asking leave of the House, either with or without their reasons, shall cause their protestation or dissents to be entered into the Clerk's Book the next sitting-day of this House, before the hour of two o'clock, otherwise the same shall not be entered, and shall sign the same before the rising of the House the same day. That is an explicit direction under the Standing Orders of the House, and it would, of course, require suspension before the noble Karl could make the Motion which stands in his name.


I shall be happy to adopt the course suggested by the noble Viscount, and I beg to move that the Standing Order be now suspended.


I would only say that some years ago, when your Lordships agreed to forego your undoubted right and privilege of giving your votes by proxy, it was thought better and more seemly that votes should only be given when noble Lords had at least heard the Question put. It would be more, desirable, of course, that they should hear the debates. But, really, if noble Lords cannot, or will not, take the trouble—I am not saying that in some cases it may not have been inevitable—of attending here to hear the Question put, it seems to me that this privilege of recording protests in a permanent form on the Journals of this House being exceptional it is only decent that that power which is not enjoyed by the other House of Parliament should at least be confined to those who have heard the Question put and have either recorded their votes or have been present to say "Not-content." I have had now a Parliamentary experience in both Houses of very nearly half a century-not so long as my noble Relative—but it seems rather a strange thing to me in these days to propose this very exceptional way of exercising this very exceptional but ancient privilege of this House.


My Lords, I entirely agree with the noble Earl that this is an exceptional matter; but he must have been exceedingly regardless of the business of this House if he has not constantly heard such Motions brought forward. I do not know why he should seek to deprive of the right given by the Standing Order noble Lords who were not present in the House when the Question was actually put; but, at all events, whether he is right or I ant right, it is clearly a case in which if he makes that objection he ought to give notice to alter the Standing Orders.


Perhaps the noble Karl will allow me to point out to him that he is still irregular in moving at once the suspension of a Standing Order, under Standing Order 60, without notice. That Standing Order states that— No Motion shall be granted for making any new Standing Order or for dispensing with a Standing Order of this House unless notice shall have been given in the Minutes to consider of the said Motion. Therefore, I am afraid the noble Earl is hardly in a position to move now.


I thought, as we are so near the Recess, your Lordships would not have insisted upon my giving notice, but if it be insisted upon I shall be very glad to do so.


I think the Motion of the noble Earl opposite is rather inconsistent with the practice which has been stated with regard to proxies. We have altered the rule for voting by proxy, and, therefore, considering that some of the noble Lords named were altogether absent from the debate, and others did not think it worth while to remain to the end, I cannot see, I must say, what importance the noble Earl can attach to a Protest signed under those circumstances. I cannot think that it will add either to the dignity or the reputation of this House to allow it.


On behalf of the noble Earl I beg to give notice that he will move to suspend the Standing Order to-morrow to allow him to make the Motion which stood in his name to-day with the addition of the name of Lord Coleridge.

Motion (by leave of the House) withdrawn.

House adjourned at Five o'clock, till to-morrow, a quarter past Ten o'clock.