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THE PARLIAMENTARY REMEMBRANCER.
THE present Volume is the fulfilment, for the Session 1857-8, of the proposal made in the Prospectus of this undertaking, "to issue, in the ensuing and future Sessions of Parliament, a carefully prepared Summary, containing a clear statement of the actual proceedings of Parliament, with explanatory notes, and an analysis of such Bills as affect the practical action or interests of Municipal Bodies, Local Authorities, Parishes," etc.; thus giving "information which is neither to be found in the Newspaper Press, nor in the Votes and Proceedings of the House of Commons; but the supply of which is one of the greatest wants throughout the country, at a time when experimental legislation is continually bringing and threatening dangers to our most trusted Institutions, to the stability and efficiency of sound Local Action, and to the property and safety of Private Enterprise. Numberless measures are being "continually introduced, which affect" all these interests, "indirectly as well as directly; but which fail to attract attention and due discussion, and lead to much mischief, simply because they are unobserved and unwatched. The uncertainty and changeableness in legislation which have so injuriously distinguished the last few years, can only be explained by the want of knowledge, among those affected, of what was thus being done."
The promise thus made, has been more than fulfilled. No Bill has gone through second reading, and no Public Measure has been brought before Parliament, without its nature, and the interests and Institutions it touches (aside from all Party considerations), having been pointed out, with such historical and other illustrations as seemed most useful. The expense, as well as labour, involved in the Work, have thus been much increased. But the result is, that while the "Votes," alone, of the two Houses of Parliament cannot be supplied, by Post, through the Session, under a cost of six guineas, the Parliamentary Remembrancer gives, at one-sixth of that price, in a single digest, and in a convenient and intelligible form, (which those "Votes" do not,) all the information on Public Measures which the "Votes" contain, with the addition of very much more of which they give no glimpse, and which, though so highly important, has never been attempted to be supplied before.
The effect produced, in the first Session of its issue, upon the course, contents, and even titles, of several Bills, cannot have escaped the attention of the readers of the Parliamentary Remembrancer.
This is, moreover, the first time that the true results of Parliamentary Divisions have been recorded. It is a startling fact, hitherto unobserved, and well illustrating the need there is for a more watchful eye being kept on the regularity and exactness of the proceedings of Parliament, that the numbers officially announced as the results of Divisions, and reported through the Press, are very often wrong. For illustrations, see pages 18, 21, 25, 26, 45, 48, 50, 57,