In the late debate on Mr. Grantley Berkeley’s motion for a fixed duty on corn, Sir Benjamin Hall is reported to have imagined the presence of a stranger to witness the debate, and to have said that he was imagining what every one knew the rules of the House rendered an impossibility. It is strange that so intelligent a member of the House of Commons should be ignorant of the fact that the old sessional orders, which absolutely prohibited the presence of strangers in the House of Commons, were abandoned in 1845, and that a standing order now exists in their place which recognises and regulates their presence. The insertion of this “note” may prevent many “queries” in after times, when the sayings and doings of 1850 have become matters of antiquarian discussion.
The following standing orders were made by the House of Commons on the 5th of February, 1845, on the motion of Mr. Christie, (see Hansard, and Commons’ Journals of that day), and superseded the old sessional orders, which purported to exclude strangers entirely from the House of Commons:—
“That the serjeant at arms attending this House do from time to time take into his custody any stranger whom he may see, or who may be reported to him to be, in any part of the House or gallery appropriated to the members of this House; and also any stranger who, having been admitted into any other part of the House or gallery, shall misconduct himself, or shall not withdraw when strangers are directed to withdraw while the House, or any committee of the whole House, is sitting; and that no person so taken into custody be discharged out of custody without the special order of the House.
“That no member of this House do presume to bring any stranger into any part of the House or gallery appropriated to the members of this House while the House, or a committee of the whole House, is sitting.”
Now, therefore, strangers are only liable to be taken into custody if in a part of the House appropriated to members, or misconducting themselves, or refusing to withdraw when ordered by the Speaker to do so; and Sir Benjamin Hall imagined no impossibility.
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Like most other things, the “Agapemone” wickedness, which has recently disgusted all decent people, does not appear to be a new thing by any means. The religion-mongers of the nineteenth century have a precedent nearly 300 years old for this house of evil repute.
In the reign of Elizabeth, the following proclamation was issued against “The Sectaries of the Family of Love:”—