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House of Commons Hansard
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27 February 1806
Volume 6
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said, that though there had been some difference of opinion as to the propriety of investigations into the expenditure of the monies of the company, he presumed to think there could be no objection to the motion he had now to make, which was, "That there be laid before this house, a list of all pensions payable by the East-India company, and a return of all sums of money granted, by way of gratuity, by the court of directors to individuals, from the year 1793 up to the present time: specifying the services and considerations for which such pensions and sums of money have been given and granted respectively."

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intimated, that it any hesitation appeared in the house to accede to this motion, the noble lord had better content himself, in conformity with what he (the speaker) conceived to be a rule established in the house, with giving notice of his motion for a future day.

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declared himself hostile to the practice, or to the establishment of any such rule. Particularly in such a case as the present; Where no possible objection could be made to the motion, he by no means conceived himself bound to give notice of it. If, however, the house should determine to establish such a rule, he trusted that its operation would not be partial, but that it would be rigidly adhered to in every instance.

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trusted that the house would do him the justice to believe, that he was influenced by no motive in the remark that he had made, but the wish to uphold their received practice. Since he had enjoyed the honour of sitting in that chair, it had certainly been the received practice, not to entertain any motion of a public nature, without a previous notice, except, indeed, the annual accounts, &c. which were mere matters of course. The reason of this usage was evidently to prevent the house from being under the disagreeable necessity of rescinding on one day what they had agreed to in the day preceding, in the absence perhaps of those members who were competent judge of the propriety of the question. If however, the house thought proper that this practice should be abandoned, it was for them to express their pleasure.

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repeated his objections to the practice of giving notices. It would be better to get rid of any obnoxious motion, by calling for the previous question.

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as an old member of the house, felt himself entitled to express his opinion on this subject. During the two first parliaments in which he had held a seat, no such practice was resorted to, except on very particular occasions. The present motion was not one of those which appeared to him to require previous notice. It was not a political question; it was a question, the propriety of which could not admit of debate, as it merely related to the public expenditure, information concerning which, the house, as guardians of the public purse, must ever be solicitous to obtain.

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spoke in favour of the prevailing practice, and thought no member could object to give notice, unless he had a disposition to take the house by surprise. There might be times, he observed, when, perhaps, there might be only one member of that house capable of judging of the propriety or impropriety of producing papers. That member might be absent on one particular day; but if a notice were given, he would, of course, feel it is duty to attend to it.

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thought, that, in the present instance, there was one good and sufficient ground for requiring a notice, as there happened to be no more than one India director then present in his place.

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said, he considered the practice of giving notice on ordinary occasions, as an abuse which was so long suffered to prevail, that it was not at present easy to get rid of it immediately. In the present instance, however, he saw no occasion whatever for a notice, as he did not understand that there would be any objection to the motion. If any member of the court of directors stated any reason why he might wish for delay, he made no doubt but the noble lord would willingly consent to it. The practice now attempted to be enforced, he could only consider as a general instance of relaxation of duty, and was not to be found in the original constitution of parliament. In a constitutional view, every member was supposed to be bound to attend upon all questions relating to the supplies, the ways and means, and every expenditure of the public money. Whatever modes might latterly have prevailed, he confessed, that he liked the old practice better, which was to attend to all subjects of grievance; and he was convinced that the custom of giving notice on such Occasions was not founded on the principles of the rights of parliament.

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thought a notice to be unnecessary, at least if no objection were stated to the motion.

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explained, that he wished some general rule to be at once adopted, in this respect, to regulate the proceedings of the house. It was in the power of any gentleman, who felt any difficulty or objection to his proposition, to move an adjournment of the debate, which he should not object to, if any sufficient reason were given for it.

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was of opinion, that this question should at once be decided, one way or other. The right hon. secretary (Mr. Fox) appeared to him rather to incline to a notice being given in the present instance, conformably to practice. What he wished to suggest was, that it should be made a part of the law of parliament, for every member to desist from pressing a motion without notice, if it should be objected to; for if no precise rule were suffered to obtain, there might be no end to such desultory debates. The motion was then put and carried.