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House of Commons Hansard
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Resolution Approving The Conduct Of The Speaker
16 March 1808
Volume 10
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wished, before the house rose, to put a question to a right hon. gent. (Mr. Tierney) on the opposite bench. Feeling, as he was persuaded the house also did, a very great interest in every thing which related to the conduct of the person who filled the Chair, and discharged its very arduous duties so highly to their satisfaction, he could not reconcile it to those feelings to have that conduct arraigned, without—

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said, he rose to order, and observed that there was no question before the house.

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contended, that by the practice of the house he was entitled to put the question he intended. The question was, whether the right hon. gent. in consequence of what had occurred in an early stage of the sitting proposed to give notice of any motion on the subject?

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avowed that it was his intention in future to prevent that species of debate which was called conversation, unless there was some specific motion before the house, or some understanding established as to the latitude which should he allowed in it. He had felt the inconvenience of being interrupted, at a moment when he was extremely anxious to rescue himself from the charge of inconsistency. The attacks made upon him in that house by the right hon. gent. in perfect good humour, no doubt, he could have well passed by; but he felt some solicitude to obviate the impression which they might make out of doors, if they were allowed to go unrefuted. It was not his intention to make any motion on the subject, but to avail himself of his privilege, as a member of that house, and take the remedy into his own hands.

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detailed the circumstances attending the conversation, and inferred that the irregularity commenced with the right hon. gent.'s observations on what he termed the inconsistency of his majesty's ministers. He felt it his duty to retaliate the charge, and here the conversation was stopped, and he conceived properly stopped, by the Chair.

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observed, that a conversation of that kind became irregular as soon as it was formally taken notice of. By the observation of his right hon. friend (Mr. Foster), who had said, that 'the conversation being at an end, he would move, &c.' that notice had been taken, and the Speaker, in the impartial prosecution of his duty, was compelled, to prevent the right hon. gent. from proceeding.

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maintained that his right hon. friend, by a rigorous exercise of the orders of the house, had been deprived of an opportunity of refuting a charge preferred against him.

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addressed the house nearly in the following terms:—My conduct having been brought before the judgment of the house, accompanied with no indistinct charge of partiality, I trust I shall be excused for offering a few words to the house on the subject. It has ever been the usage of the house, and it has been found a most convenient usage, to permit questions to be asked, tending to facilitate the arrangement of business. An occurrence of this nature took place this day. The noble lord put a question to a right hon. gent. to which question an answer was given. A right hon. gent. then rose, whose knowledge of the forms and customs of the house induced me to presume, that he would not pass beyond the limits which the occasion prescribed. I find no difficulty in saying, more especially as that right hon. gent. has himself made the acknowledgment, that before the termination of his address, he did pass those limits. The language which that right honourable gent. used called up a right hon. gent. on the opposite side, who replied to him. At that moment several hon. members rose. Had that which then took place not occurred, I frankly state I should have felt it my duty to have put an end to the conversation; but when one of the hon. gentlemen who rose distinctly spoke of the conversation, no choice was left me on the subject. I therefore interrupted the conversation, and on proceeding to read the orders of the day, a question being open, the right hon. gent. rose in his place, and declared that which he had just stated. This was the proceeding as accurately as I can relate it to the house. I appeal to their judgment whether my conduct is liable to the charge of partiality. It may be so, but if it is I own I am not conscious of it. Having been four times raised by the free choice of the house to the Chair which I now occupy, and in which I have sat for 7 years, I have the consolation to reflect, that this is the first time that any imputation of such a nature has been ascribed to me. I hope that as long as it is the pleasure of the house that I should occupy the honourable situation which I now hold, I may remain free from such an imputation. It is for the house to judge whether I am so free or not; and it is for the house to declare whether they will in future allow the continuance of that usage which has given rise to the present occurrence. When I am instructed what is their pleasure, it will be my duty to conform to those instructions, and to enforce obedience to them, as well as to all the other orders of the house. The house will, I am sure, pardon me for detaining their attention so long on a subject which I own has deeply pained me, although I am not conscious in the course which I have pursued, of having deservedly incurred the censure having bestowed on me.—[Loud and reiterated cries from all parts of the house of hear! hear!]

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thought the discussion would not be satisfactorily terminated, unless the house came to some declaration of their opinion. He rose, therefore, for the purpose of submitting a resolution expressive of the high sense which the house entertained of the services of the right hon. gent. who filled the Chair. They were all witnesses to the ability and impartiality with which he discharged the arduous duties appertaining to it, in times of as violent contentions of parties and turbulent debate as had ever occurred in that house. The right hon. gent. concluded with moving "That this house does highly approve of the upright, able, and impartial conduct of the right hon. C. Abbot in the Chair of this house."

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having put the affirmative of the question in a very low tone of voice, and obviously much agitated, was answered by a vehement burst of Aye from all sides of the house. When he was about to put the negative branch of the proposition),

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rose and said, that as an independent member of parliament, and anxious to preserve the privileges of the British parliament, he felt himself bound in honour to say 'No.' The Resolution was then carried as if by acclamation; Mr. Tierney being the only dissenting voice.