§ MR. LODER (Brighton)
I beg to ask the First Lord of the Treasury when he proposes to introduce the Bill, promised in the King's Speech, for removing the necessity for re-election in the case of acceptance of office by Members of the House of Commons.
§ THE PRIME MINISTER AND FIRST LORD OF THE TREASURY (Mr. A. J. BALFOUR,) Manchester, E.
The Bill to which my hon. friend refers is ready, and, of course, will be introduced either under the so-called Ten Minutes Rule, or without any introductory speech at all. Though I think it is a very desirable and, in some cases, an important change, it undoubtedly has a constitutional aspect, and, therefore, should be prefaced by some statement of the reasons which make 28 it desirable, in the opinion of the Government, to depart from this ancient practice. In these circumstances, I should certainly not feel justified in introducing the Bill without a statement. Whether that statement can be compressed within ten minutes I really cannot say; but it is perfectly clear that the Bill cannot pass, except by consent, and I do not know whether there is any chance of that consent being obtained. The Bill has been carefully framed so as to avoid giving any advantage to the present holders of office, and it is introduced as a general and much-needed constitutional reform; but whether there will be time to carry it out in the present session, I have some doubt.