§ Order read for resuming Adjourned Debate on Amendment to Question [29th March], "That this House will immediately resolve itself into a Committee to consider the Relations between the Two Houses of Parliament and the question of the Duration of Parliament."—[The Prime Minister.]
§ Which Amendment was to Leave out from the word "That," to the end, and to insert instead the words, "in the opinion of this House a strong and efficient Second Chamber is necessary; that this House is willing to consider proposals for the reform of the constitution of the existing Second Chamber, but declines to proceed with proposals which would destroy the usefulness of the Second Chamber, however constituted, and would remove the only safeguard against great changes being made by the Government of the day not only without the consent but against the wishes 40 of the majority of the electors."—[Sir Robert Finlay.]
§ Question again proposed. Debate resumed.
§ Mr. ALFRED LYTTELTON
In the opening observations of his speech on Friday night the Home Secretary criticised the levity of the Leader of the Opposition, and in his concluding observation he made a reference to the Throne. I think his first sally amused the House; I am certain that the second amused it. As to the humour of my right hon. Friend, I think it is somewhat dangerous in this House, where humour is favoured, to rebuke it. Humour is especially favoured when, sparing individuals, it dissolves by ridicule, cant, and shams, and penetrates to the heart of things. There are other forms of humour which are less attractive, and which I will not describe. I will not attempt to classify or assign a place to the Home Secretary's humour; but I might, I think, without offence, suggest to him that onslaughts upon the wit of my right hon. Friend are somewhat dangerous, as they suggest comparisons. Upon the present occasion they are wholly unnecessary, for if the right hon. Gentleman desired to read a homily to the House on the question of seriousness, surely a topic lay very well to his hand. The Government, of which he is an ornament, has vindicated the gravity of this occasion, and given solid evidence of the seriousness of its spirit by assigning to the Debate on the repeal of the Septennial Act almost three hours, and to the revolution of the Constitution almost a Parliamentary week. The concluding observations in the peroration of the Home Secretary were of a more serious character. The right hon. Gentleman said:—Since the House of Lords … have used their Veto to affront the Prerogative of the Crown and to invade the right of the Commons, it has now become necessary that the Crown and the Commons"—Of course, the right hon. Gentleman meant the Radical party in the House of Commons, because even he, with his courage, could not pretend that those who sit on these benches were going to join in this enterprise—it has now become necessary that the Crown and the Commons, acting together, should restore the balance of the Constitution, and restrict for ever the Veto of the House of Lords.''I pass over the childish exaggeration about the affront to the prerogative, but I beg the House to think of that last paragraph of the right hon. Gentleman's speech in connection with the utterance of the Irish Leader yesterday, which I think will enable 41 them to appreciate its significance. Once again the hon. and learned Member for "Waterford (Mr. John Redmond) pronounced this constitutional crisis to be utterly trivial to him except for the supreme stake of Home Rule, to which he invited his audience to subordinate everything. Once again he demonstrated the imposture of the pretence that the "People's Budget" is acceptable to or has been accepted by the majority of the people of this country. Once again he laid bare the tactics and the manæuvres of the last three or four weeks. Once again—I beg the House to mark this—he demanded of the Government which have yielded to their masters so often, and demanded in the most peremptory way, guarantees. The guarantees of which the hon. Gentleman spoke have a reflection upon the last words of the Home Secretary to which I have referred. I will not be betrayed here into a discussion on the Throne; but I should be failing, I think, in a plain and honourable duty if I did not say that it is as ungenerous as it is unseemly to impute to His Majesty a policy which he cannot deny, or to suggest the approach of an alliance between the Radical party and the Throne for which there is not a shadow of justification.
The other parts of the Home Secretary's speech gave currency again to the, I was going to say misrepresentation, but let me say misconception, which has pervaded almost every speech made in this Debate from the other side of the House. I mean the misrepresentation that the House of Lords, or the Unionist party for them, claim an equal control of finance with this House. I scarcely re member a speaker, unless it be the Chief Secretary for Ireland, who did not impute this claim to the House of Lords and to their supporters. I wish to make it absolutely clear for my self, and I believe it is perfectly clearly felt by all our Friends on this side, that no such claim whatever is made. Manifestly it would be a grave and serious inconvenience if this power to reject Money Bills were a power which was exercised except upon extremely rare and extremely important occasions. There is a mechanical contrivance, I believe, which is called an emergency regulator, which automatically arrests and cuts off steam from some of our great motors when the recklessness or unskilfulness of the engineer has for a moment imperilled the whole power-house in which such machines may be. It is only as an emergency regulator— 42 [laughter]—I see nothing ridiculous in it. It is only on great emergencies that this power has been, or ever will be, employed. Fortunately we have not always the privilege of having the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Carnarvon Boroughs as Chancellor of the Exchequer.
There is another matter to which, I think, the right hon. Gentleman also referred, and on which I should like to say a word. It was first started, I think, by the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Waterford (Mr. John Redmond) and by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Walthamstow (Mr. Simon). The latter hon. and learned Gentleman especially took note, and impressed his view upon the House, that the House of Lords had always been wrong, or on many occasions had been wrong, because, as he said, the ultimate settlement of the controversy turned out in a different way to that suggested when first discussed or decided by them. I say in answer to that that in the sphere of politics, as in many other spheres of thought, that that which was right and expedient, say, in the year 1830, is not the least necessary, right, or expedient in the year 1900. It would probably be much better—this is the principle which I wish the House to accept—in very large affairs not to move at all unless you have the permanent conviction of a large majority of your countrymen on your side. I think myself you ought to exhaust conciliation, compromise, and argument in endeavouring to persuade those who, in the first instance, differ from you. I submit to the House that the truest and most enduring progress is made when even those who ultimately dissent from the measure which is passed are convinced that they have had a full and fair hearing and discussion of their views, and have even become convinced that the majority of the opinion of the country is against them. It was said by one of the wisest and greatest of Radicals, that:—One of the most indispensable requisites in the practical conduct of politics, especially in the management of free institutions, is conciliation, a readiness to compromise, a willingness to concede something to opponents, and to shape good measures so as to be as little offensive as possible to persons of opposite views.I ask the House to mark those words, and these:—This salutary habit of mutual give-and-take, as it has been called, between the two Houses is a perpetual school. So far is such even now "—That is in 1861.and its utility will probably be even more so in a more democratic constitution of the Legislature.43 Those were the words of John Stuart Mill. I say that the last persons in the world who ought to deny this, or can deny it, are hon. Gentlemen opposite, who have been contending throughout the length and breadth of the country that the position—I am not going to underrate it—the position of even a portion of the North of England on Tariff Reform ought of itself to be a reason against proceeding with that measure of reform.
There is only one other point I wish to mention before endeavouring to state the principle upon which I should ask the House to act. I do not mean to go over again, or to more than barely touch upon the legal position that has been dealt with so thoroughly. I think anybody who heard the speech of my right hon. and learned Friend (Sir Robert Finlay) would feel that the subject was treated most exhaustively and with wonderful ability. There only remains for discussion one contention emerging out of the reply of the Attorney-General. It is strenuously put forward by those on the opposite side, That is, not that the House of Lords have no right to reject a Money Bill at law, but that convention or usage has now deprived them of that power. I flatter myself that generally I can see the point of view of my opponents, but I find it difficult really to understand, in the face of the arguments which have been made, the prevalence of that view. Let me test it for a moment. In 1861, when the last occasion arose of dispute between the Houses on this topic, a very powerful Committee of this House actually recognised the right of the House of Lords, in specific terms, to reject Money Bills. The House of Commons in this Committee were the persons most concerned to deny it. Yet they admitted that right. Mr. Gladstone, whose interest was, if I may say so, most at stake, was Chancellor of the Exchequer. He and those with him never denied the right of the Lords to reject; but he constructed very ingeniously a method which would make it very difficult, and, may, I add, very unpopular for the House of Lords to exercise that right on every occasion on which it was not legitimate. There has never been an occasion on which the right should have been, could have been, or has been suggested might have been, exercised in the fifty years that have elapsed since then. Therefore, you have this state of things: That the party most concerned to deny the right, admitted it; secondly, 44 that they constructed machinery to make the exercise of that right difficult; and, lastly, no opportunity to exercise that right of any pressing character has been seen for fifty years. [Several HON. MEMBERS: '"94."] These seem to me to be absolutely conclusive reasons to say that no impartial tribunal would say that the right had been lost by conventional usage, by custom, or by disuser. These three matters which I have ventured to set out to the House seem to me to be conclusive.
There is one other still more cogent—the Government proposals of last year and the year before. Take the evidence of custom or usage upon the subject. Why, at once it can be pointed out in the Constitutions granted—the one in South Africa and the other in Australia, and granted by hon. Gentlemen who sit opposite, that so far from refusing the existence of that right which I claim, the framing of those Constitutions manifestly proved that that right existed in the minds of right hon. Gentlemen opposite. They therefore desired and thought it proper to put that right in so that the Commonwealths could enjoy it too. I had the privilege of speaking once with the Prime Minister of one of the greatest of our Colonies. Speaking of legislation, he said:—One of the advantages we have over you is that in a young community, without great complications of social relations, we can make experiments in legislation which you in this old complex civilisation are unable to do without perhaps loss and disaster.You would have said that the corollary from that argument was that the Colony did not want a Second Chamber so much as we do, because, as my friend said, the result of a wrong experiment in the Colony would not be nearly so disastrous as a wrong experiment here. Yet hon. Gentlement opposite are so enamoured—and justly enamoured—of the ancient system of this country, they are so conscious of the necessary protection which the Second Chamber is to this country—notwithstanding, that the issues are not nearly so great, notwithstanding the society is not nearly so complicated—that they themselves last year, under their own hand and seal, imposed upon the Colony a Second Chamber, with the express and specific right of rejecting, though not amending, Money Bills. Having glanced at one or two topics which I think have been misunderstood or misrepresented, I wish to submit to the House some practical reasons which have convinced me—I trust I may be able to show to the House that they have some force—that here and 45 now in the present evolution of this, our popular, House, our need is especially great for a Second Chamber. I should like the House to invert the proposition which has been pressed upon it so often during the last three or four days, and consider, not ought the powers and privileges of the House of Lords to be reduced, but this question: "Ought the powers and privileges of this House to be increased?" For I say to any man, if he wishes to increase the powers and privileges of this House, that his own experience, both in this House and outside, has shown him perfectly well that the real meaning of that is the increase and extension of the powers of the Executive. The Home Secretary dwelt—and without the least too much force—upon the enormous powers of the House of Commons and the Executive at the present time. Peace and war, Treaty-Making, Defence, Supply, Patronage, the initiation of measures, the control of the Government of the day. He might have added—I will add—a practically despotic power through its Ministers, through its Executive, over the Crown Colonies and the vast Protectorates of the Crown. Surely that is about enough for this House to have without control! I venture to say it is enough; but I note the Home Secretary, among other Members who have spoken in this Debate, accused those who hold the view that there should be some check of being traitors to the House of Comomns, or of not being "House of Commons men." The right hon. Gentleman, the Home Secretary, has said this on many platforms. He is really very proud of it, so much so that he repeated it over again last Thursday in this House for our benefit. He said:—I have often said that every Conservative Member who stood in defence of the action of the House of Lords last November asked the electors to send him to Parliament to limit and to restrict and to retard and to humiliate the power and authority of the body of which he asked to be a Member.We have all been bitter in electioneering advocacy, but we do not as a rule repeat it willingly in the House of Commons. What a frank appeal this is to the jealousies and selfishness and arrogance and vanity of an Assembly. Let me test that. What would he have said if a peer, speaking on Lord Rosebery's Motion in the House of Lords, had dared to get up and state, "Here is a proposal by the Noble Lord for restricting and limiting, degrading and humiliating the power and authority of the Assembly of which he is a Member"? [HON. MEMBERS: "That is what was said."] 46 I did not observe that in the discussion. When I look back through the rather long time I have been in this House I feel perfectly certain that the present House of Commons is abler, man for man, than that of twenty years ago. I myself value most highly its critical power. Indeed, I dread its critical power so much that I never get up to address it on anything like an important occasion without the most painful misgivings and anxieties. But is it because the House is an abler House you should so largely add to its powers? I say, and I hope to establish it, that there never was a moment in which we more needed a Second Chamber. I wish, in the first place, to show that everybody in this country in whom is vested despotic power, and especially in connection with taxation, has always, rightly or wrongly, earned the suspicion and dislike of the people. The expression, "I am agin' the Government," has a deal of national history in it. The people do not like taxation; they do not like any person to be unreservedly entrusted with powers of imposing taxation without their being able to pronounce an opinion upon it themselves. If you study history from the beginning you will find there has always been a tendency in this House to impose and resist the powers Which for the time being are prominent; but my main point is that the House of Commons and the post of Ministers in the House of Commons are so overweighted by work nowadays that they have scarcely time to perform the great duties entrusted to them. I say there has been an enormous change even in my memory in the attempt which is made to put extra work upon Ministers. There is a strange, an almost insatiable voracity for public speaking. There are lamentable facilities' of transit which constantly enable large numbers of people to gather together in large halls and which still more unhappily for us enables us to be brought to meet these assemblies. At election times there are fearful demands for public oratory all over the country. It assails in a special degree a Minister like the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I trust he will not think I am saying anything disrespectful when I take him to illustrate my point. The right hon. Gentleman's task is one of the greatest that falls to the lot of any human being. He has the immense problem of a balance sheet of £170,000,000. We all know his ability, but I do not think he himself would say that when he was called to that task he had a long experience of training in financial matters. I quite 47 agree that that has been the case: with some of his predecessors, and it may be said an able man can always learn, and our system is that they shall learn their business when they come to an office of which they have had no experience before. But the Chancellor of the Exchequer has had no time, if I may say so, to learn his business. His friends have constituted him, as it were, a sort of impressario of the' Radical democracy. In Wales, if I may borrow a theatrical metaphor, it is no exaggeration to say that he is the author, manager and actor in the Celtic political dramas which take place in that country. It would be interesting to know how many speeches the right hon. Gentleman has made in the last year in the country alone without considering those he made in this House, which of course would add many a hundred to the total. It is an impossible combination of functions to perform the task which he has been asked and expected to perform and does perform, and to master, consider and resolve enormous problems which must arise in the discussion of vast business like the national finances. I venture to illustrate my point by a reference—I, hope not a discourteous one—to the right hon. Gentleman, but in the main it applies all round. What is the effect of this upon that great branch of the public service, the permanent officials, and what is the effect upon the legislation of this House? It is said Ministers may perhaps spend their time in making platform speeches, but the business of the country will go on being administered by the permanent officials. The strain upon the permanent officials now, through the practice of this Government is almost greater than ever it was before. Let us contrast that with the policy of other great countries with which we have to compete. America does not let her Ministers into Congress at all. I do not know that the Prime Minister or the Foreign Secretary of France makes a speech in the country once a year, and probably not many more in the House. In Germany it is much the same. The Ministers of these great countries are attending to their business and to the enormous concerns which their departments involve. They are not dispersing and dissipating themselves as it were, agents for doubtful reform. I think it was sixty years ago the great Sir Robert Peel said the office of a Prime Minister was one which no one man could properly exer- 48 cise. What additions have been made to the office since that? In those days a Minister never spoke in his constituency I except upon the hustings—he never made a speech upon the platform, neither the Prime Minister nor any other Minister. Attendance in this House was not nearly so exacting as it is now. How can we hope for carefully considered problems of legislation in these strenuous days to be produced by "half-timers," not, indeed, because they are working only half-time, but because the greater part of their time is; taken up with matters wholly foreign to these great legislative problems.
The conclusion I have ventured to draw I from these premises is that in our circumstances to-day it has never been more necessary to have another House of Parliament consisting of men of greater leisure than we have. I am most heartily in favour of a reformed House of Lords containing men of great ability and a still higher selection than at present. The time never more thoroughly demanded an efficient and a respected Second Chamber. I believe with the Foreign Secretary, whom, very significantly, we have not seen during the whole course of this Debate—[HON. MEMBERS: "He has been here."]—I am sorry for having said that; I withdraw-in a reformed. Second Chamber. I have been led to believe by his speeches that he has arrived at exactly the same conclusion, and has impressed that opinion in terms of far greater strength than I could upon the country. What, in fact, is being done by right hon. Gentlemen opposite to give effect to the opinion which I affirm is held by the Foreign Secretary and several others upon the Government side of the House—namely, that what we want, and never more so than now, is an efficient and respected Second Chamber. We know the contortions of the last few months. They have been described by a frank critic in the daily Press in terms which I shall read to the House. He deals with the method by which the present Government are aiming at solving a great question. He first deals with the Labour party and their action upon the subject, and then goes on to deal with the Ministerialists, and says:—The House of Lords has, in Ministerial eyes, a sort of usefulness so long as it can no longer compel unwilling caucuses to submit their proposals to the people. The wisdom of our ancestors was not it appears, altogether in vain. They created a House of Peers in order that their Liberal descendants might leave its hollow shell still subsisting for the comfort of Liberal old women who want to be told that ours is a double-Chamber system and to the profit of the Liberal fund.49 [HON. MEMBERS: "Name."] It is not signed, but it will appear in to-morrow's OFFICIAL REPORT. [An HON. MEMBER: "It is rather like Blatchford."] Let us consider this point for a moment. To take away the Veto from the House of Lords is surely to leave it, as it were, a shell, a sham, and a deception to people, who, without thinking or study, still imagine that they have an efficient Second Chamber. I think it is worse than a sham, because it is a proposal to appeal to the vulgarest element in our people, to wholly divorce rank and honours from service, which has been so honourable and, indeed, a characteristic of the peerage and all the squirearchy of this Kingdom. The Home Secretary and the Foreign Secretary have already been challenged on this point more than once. I suppose the Home Secretary thought the speech made by the hon. Member for Hackney, which was characterised by so much humour, unworthy or too light and frivolous to reply to; but the hon. Member's humour very often goes very much to the heart of things. The hon. Member for Hackney put a question to the Home Secretary. He said, assuming that the Government pass their Veto Resolution and their Budget, is it the honest intention of the Government to pass the Reform of the House of Lords, as promised in the King's Speech? That is a perfectly plain question, and the Members of this House and the supporters of the Government have an absolute right to have an answer to that question. I ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer specifically can he honestly say, in view of the proclaimed intention of the Leader of the Labour party, the Leader of the Irish party and many Liberals, that there is the slightest chance of passing, either in this House or in another Assembly, the reform which has been promised in the King's Speech, and behind which many timid men are sheltering? I wish to conclude by making an appeal to the Foreign Secretary and to some of those who have acted with him. No man in this House enjoys more the respect and admiration of the public and, indeed, of many of his political opponents. Many people have voted for the heterogeneous party opposite at the last election because they believe firmly in the character, position, and the pledges given by the Foreign Secretary. Is it possible that at the next election, which is inevitable, that the Foreign Secretary will again seriously dangle before the people of this country the proposal that this Government and their friends really in- 50 tend to carry through a measure for: the Reform of the House of Lords? The Foreign Secretary may, of course, have it in his mind to protect his own personal honour by resignation from a Government which may or may not pass the reform which he evidently so genuinely and strongly has at heart. Let me remind those who speak and think with the right hon. Baronet that it will be too late to get a reform of the House of Lords by resignation or otherwise, too late to strike any serious blow in that direction when by such a measure as that which is now before the House you have permanently and irremedially emasculated those powers.
§ Mr. T. P. O'CONNOR
I rise to take part in this Debate largely for the reason that I think the smaller nationalities, one' of which I have the honour to represent, are more concerned in the issue of this Debate than any other part of the country. The Chancellor of the Exchequer made use in one of his speeches of the observation that Wales and Ireland had some right to hope that these Resolutions would be carried. [An HON. MEMBER: "And Scotland, too."] In the case of Wales we have had election after election in which practically the whole representation has demanded the disestablishment of an alien Church. I believe in the last Parliament every single Member for Wales was returned pledged in favour of that proposal. I think I am correct in saying that in the present Parliament every Member, from Wales, except two, has been returned in favour of the Disestablishment of the Church. Similarly in Ireland, I suppose, for the last twenty-five years we have returned to the Imperial Parliament three-fourths, if not four-fifths, of her representatives demanding self-government for Ireland. To both these proposals the House of Lords will always be ready to give a denial. That powerful and courageous body is always very strong when it is fighting the weak, but I doubt whether the House of Lords will offer the same opposition to a proposal backed by the support of a majority representing the predominant partner. The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down (Mr. Lyttelton) has made a masterly speech by avoiding all the real points at issue. The right hon. Gentleman has once more taken up the cry put forward by several other speakers. The Leader of the Opposition gave the key, and committed himself, with a certain amount of hesitation, to the proposition that the right of the House of Lords to reject the Budget 51 existed and ought to be maintained. The right hon. Gentleman, with almost childlike blandness, asked what had happened and where is the deadlock? He spoke as if nothing particular had occurred, and those who have followed him have gone on the same theme. I may say that all that has happened is that the House of Lords has rejected the Budget and that seems to be a matter of no importance to Members of the Unionist party. Let us see what the Budget means in the political life of a country, and especially in this country. Governments can bring in Bills if they please. I am bound to acquit the Leader of the Opposition of any excessive desire to bring in Bills at all. Governments may bring in great Bills, and have them rejected, and nothing may happen. A Government may bring in Bills and withdraw them, as the right hon. Gentleman did in the case of his first Education Bill, and nothing particular may happen. But every Government, whatever its complexion, whether Liberal or Conservative, has to bring in a Budget every year of its political existence. [An HON. MEMBER: "Sometimes they bring in two Budgets."] Does anybody contradict my statement? I regard my proposition as plain as the fact that two and two make four, and it does not disprove my argument to tell me that sometimes a Government may bring in two Budgets. I regard that interruption more as a confirmation than a contradiction of my statement.
I will state my proposition again: Every Government in order to defray the expenses of carrying on the work of the country must bring in a Budget every year, and every Government must stake its existence upon the Budget. A Government cannot survive the rejection of a Budget. [Cheers.] I interpret those cheers quite correctly, and I will deal with them. If you have the control of the Budget in this way it follows that you have the control of the Government and the affairs of the nation. Therefore, if you give to the House of Lords the right to control the Budget you give to them the right to control the Government of the day and the entire control of the destinies of the nation.
The Leader of the Opposition asked— where is the deadlock, and what has occurred? Only that the House of Lords has demanded the right to be the sole master of the Government and all they control. Have hon. Members forgotten the im- 52 portant part which the Budget has played in the Parliamentary fortunes of this country? An old Member of Parliament, who lived in the days of Lord Palmerston and the '60's, told me that every year it was always a toss up whether a Government retained office or not when they brought in the Budget. I can speak from my own experience on this point. Mr. Disraeli was turned out of office in 1858 because his Budget was rejected. In my own time Mr. Gladstone was turned out of office in 1885 by the rejection of his Budget. The right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken has made a rather imaginative statement with regard to the relations between the party to which I have the honour of belonging and the Government. He stated that the Government have got their orders through the Irish Members. ["Hear, hear."] I note that observation is cheered more by the younger than by the older Members of this House. It is not likely to be cheered by the Leader of the Opposition, especially when I recall the Division which took place on 8th June, 1885, because the majority which defeated the Budget of that year and put out the Government was a majority consisting largely and mainly of the Tory party, together with some thirty-five or forty Members of the Parnellite party. You hear now many distinctions of votes according to nationality. I wonder if the Leader of the Opposition accepts that distinction. One of the many results, I would even say the beneficent result, of that distinction was that the right hon. Gentleman got his first chance of official life, of which he has made so much use since. Did he refuse office because Irish votes gave it him? The Member for West' Birmingham (Mr. Joseph Chamberlain) was not then a Member of the Tory party, and, therefore, his criticism of party was frank and free. He alluded to this composite vote in the great Division of 1885, and he described it as forming the Maamstrasna alliance. I may remind the House for the benefit of young Members that Maamstrasna was the scene of one of the most atrocious and terrible murders in Ireland, and that was the term the right hon. Gentleman applied to the combination of Tory and Parnellite vote in that great Division. If two or three weeks from now the Budget were again to be defeated by a combination of Tory and Irish votes, would the right hon. Gentleman refuse office because Irishmen-——[HON. MEMBEBS: "Wait and see."] I do not know whether he would accept or reject office, but I know if he 53 refused it would not be because the Budget had been defeated by Irish votes.
I pass on from 1885 to other occasions on which the Budget or Supply, which, to a certain extent, belongs to the same category as the Budget, has played an important part in controlling Parliamentary destinies in this House. How was the Government of 1885 put out? It was put out on a Vote in Supply, and every man who has been even a week in this House knows that every night the Government of the day puts upon the Order Paper either one portion of the Budget or one Vote in Supply it takes its life in its hands, and support may be given or withdrawn from it by the House of Commons. Anybody who has ever studied our Parliamentary system in the most cursory way must agree with me that he or they who control the Budget' control the Ministry, and to control the Ministry is to control the Government of the country. Apply that to the case put forward by the House of Lords. If they control the Budget they control the Government. The right hon. Gentleman says that power would be used to strike occasionally only, and might not be used again for a very long time. How do we know that? The only safeguard we can have that they shall not use it again is that they shall not have the power. If this House should be insane enough not to protect the rights it has fought for during centuries and won by the struggle of centuries, if the people should condone the action of the House of Lords, why, so far as I can interpret the utterances of Members of the House of Lords and their adherents and defenders in this House, their claim will become more arrogant and, if it would not be rude to say so, more impudent. I have read speeches of many Noble Lords with regard to their action on the Budget. Is there any sign of repentance there? Is there any promise of amendment there? [HON. MEMBERS: "NO."] Of course not, and it means that if it suits the party above the Gangway to reject the Budget again the House of Lords will do so when the Leader of the Opposition gives them the signal. This right to reject the Budget is now sought for, not with a view to its occasional use, but for use whenever the party interests of the Gentlemen above the Gangway demand it. I think I have made my case clear that, if the Lords have the right to reject the Budget, they have the right to control the Government of the country.
Let us follow that a little bit further. The House of Commons is subjected to a 54 large amount of criticism. Dangers to the people from the action of the House of Commons are pointed out. But what is the House of Commons? It is the creation, the child, and the servant of the people. What is the House of Lords? The real logical significance of and deduction from the policy now preached from the benches above the Gangway is a one Chamber Government, that one Chamber being the House of Lords and not the House of Commons. Not a Member in the House of Lords is elected. Not a Member of it is a representative of the people. Its Members for the most part belong to one political party, to one religious communion, and to one social class. Therefore if we go down the slippery slope upon which these gentlemen invite us to enter the liberties of this nation and the finance and Government of this nation will be entirely in the hands of an hereditary and non-representative Assembly; not only that, but of an irresponsible Assembly. We cannot call them to account, and we cannot dismiss a single one of them from his place in the House of Lords. I understand that a distinguished Chinese official came here one night and he had some difficulty in understanding what went on. Then there was a Division, and there was a considerable majority on one side and a minority on the other. "Why," said the Chinese, with that keen, practical mind which is characteristic of his race, "there is a majority on one side and a minority on the other. Why talk?" If the destinies of this country are to be in the hands of the House of Lords, if its finances are to be in the hands of the House of Lords, why vote at a General Election? Why have a General Election at all? The result is the same. We remain still under a one-Chamber government. This has been put in language better than I can use—I mean the language of the speech of Lord Rosebery at Bradford:—The next election will be fought on none of these questions, but on one which includes and represents them all—I mean the House of Lords. Suppose at the next election you were to send back only 100 Liberals to the House of Commons, there would be thirty Liberal peers, suppose you were to send 200 back to the House of Commons, there would be thirty Liberal peers; suppose you were to send. 300 back, there would be thirty Liberal peers; suppose you were to send 400 back, there would be thirty Liberal peers; suppose you were to send 500 back, there would be thirty Liberal peers; suppose you were to send 600 back—(a Voice: ' We'll do that')—I am sure the gentleman would do it if he could; but still, even if he succeeded, there would he only thirty Liberal peers; and if you sent the whole House of Commons back Liberal, there would be only thirty Liberal peers. Gentlemen, what a mockery is this ! We boast of our free institutions, we swell as we walk abroad and see other countries; 55 we make broad our phylacteries of freedom upon our foreheads; we thank God that we are not as other less-favoured men are; and all the time we endure this mockery of freedom.If this pretence which is now put forward on behalf of the peers be admitted, I regard General Elections as a mockery of freedom, in the words of Lord Rosebery.
Perhaps the House will allow me to deal with one of the arguments used in favour of the House of Lords, the argument used by the Noble Lord the Member for the Oxford University (Lord Hugh Cecil). I may here remark that it is rather astonishing to hear him complain of the want of toleration extended in this House to Members of independent views, giving as an example the tragic case of Mr. Harold Cox. I wonder what would be the fate of the Noble Lord if the confederates above the Gangway were the majority of the constituents of the University of Oxford. There is no argument, especially as applying to a legislative assembly, which is more unsound, both historically and scientifically, than the argument of the hereditary principle. Great men intellectually, if I may use a phrase which sounds like a paradox, have neither ancestors nor descendants. Take all the great men of history. Nearly all of them were children of rather obscure and commonplace parents. [HON. MEMBEBS: "NO."] Well, some illustrious descendants of illustrious names contradict me from above the Gangway. Making due and proper exceptions in these particular cases, I still lay it down as a general proposition. I know there are exceptions. The Noble Lord himself is an exception, the Home Secretary is an exception, but who knows anything of the parents of Bismarck or of Daniel O'Connell? Who knows anything of their descendants? O'Connell had many sons, but none of them was a success. Bismarck had two sons, both of whom were failures. Of Napoleon's sons, one was a consumptive who died young and was of no ability, and the other was a buffoon who lived for thirty years for the amusement of Paris. If you apply it to the House of Lords, you find the great names of the past represented by their descendants today. I will not allude to a single one now alive lest I should give any offence, but I may say you have seen genius in the past represented by something approaching vacuity of mind. You have seen decorum represented by a wastrel. You have seen a great martial name represented by a neurotic devotee. This whole argument is 56 one of the most absurd and the most stupid ever used.
I have a particular bone to pick with the House of Lords myself, because I am an Irishman. The House of Lords has been the cruel and the relentless enemy of Ireland. There is not a single reform that Ireland has gained which she has not gained in spite of the House of Lords. [An HON. MEMBEB: "What about land purchase?"] An hon. Member below me mentions land purchase. If he will allow me I will tell him all about the Land Bills. I am not going to make a case for the House of Commons of the past in order to make a stronger case against the House of Lords of to-day. I have very little to say in favour of the House of Commons until the time when the franchise was reduced, but I am proud to recognise the fact that it is from that time the House really began to do justice to Ireland; it began to do so from the time when it became a House elected by the masses of the English people. Bad, however, as the House of Commons was in the past, it was never so-bad in its conduct towards Ireland as the House of Lords. Take all great Irish reforms. Take, for instance, Catholic Emancipation. Pitt was not a Liberal, at least in the later years of his life; George Canning was not a Liberal. Pitt and Canning knocked at the door of the House of Lords, in the same way as Edmund Burke and Charles James Fox knocked at the door of that House, in favour of Catholic Emancipation, and when 8,000,000 of Irish Catholics demanded the right the House of Lords for more than thirty years stood in the way of the enlightened Conservative and Liberal statesmen who asked them to open the door. When did they open the door? They opened the door when Sir Robert Peel declared in the House that five-sixths of the British Army were in Ireland in order to keep down civil war. In fact, they refused any concession to Ireland until the mailed fist of revolution and disturbance knocked at their door.
Take the question of municipal reform. Year after year, Session after Session, generation after generation, Daniel O'Connell tried to get for the masses of the Irish people some control even in their own little urban affairs, and generation after generation the House of Lords stood in the way. Take the land question. That question would have been settled twenty-five, thirty, or forty years ago were it not for the House of Lords, and 57 it would have been settled to some extent at least by the action even of the Tory party, apart from the Liberal party altogether. When I was a boy there was a good old Tory in Dublin—Sir Joseph Napier, an excellent Churchman, called "Holy Joe," and although he was one of the most reactionary Tories I ever knew, he was sponsor in this House, in 1852, for a Tenant Right Bill, which he was able to carry through all its stages in this House. I believe, by the way, there was in those days an Irish party in the House whose votes were useful in the Division Lobby, and, consequently, they were not scouted by the Government. As a matter of fact, Sir Joseph Napier was Attorney-General in a Conservative Ministry, and as far back as 1852 he brought in an Irish Land Bill, which, although it was a trumpery Bill, was rejected by the House of Lords. In 1870 Mr. Gladstone brought in a Land Bill, which was mutilated by the House of Lords, and it would have been rejected altogether but for the same reasons which made that House swallow Catholic Emancipation. A great and widespread revolutionary organisation had to be created in Ireland. Three men had to die on the scaffold in Manchester, and one in London, and it was only then that the House of Lords listened to the voice of Ireland. Three or four millions of the Irish people had left the shores of Ireland in tears and desolation. Their voice was no longer listened to by the House of Lords, and it was not until Clerkenwell was blown up and a police van was raided in Manchester that this courageous, impartial, and judicial body listened to us. Take 1881. Did the House of Lords pass the Land Bill because they liked it? In 1880, a few months before, they were asked to pass a small instalment of the Land Bill—the Compensation for Disturbance Bill—and they rejected it by an overwhelming majority, but in 1881 they swallowed it, because the Land League held them by their throats. Then I come to Land Purchase. Did they pass that because of love for Ireland? No, they passed it because they got a good many millions out of it. If you want to get the House of Lords to rise to the full stature of its devotion to public duty you have only to propose an Irish Reform Act. I believe that only on very few occasions in the course of the last fifty years has there been an attendance of more than 200 or 300 Peers in the House of Lords. One occasion was' in order to reject the Bill for Legalising Marriage with a Deceased Wife's Sister. The 58 House of Lords then rallied to a man. It was said of the Due de Morny that he always spoke with respect of sacred things. The House of Lords always speaks with respect of things which are sacred to the Bishops, the Lords Spiritual, yet when one of the principles of their very existence was being removed from them there was not an attendance of more than one-third of the Members. When they had Church Disestablishment brought up there were more than 500 Peers to vote it down, and when the Home Rule Bill, which would have brought freedom to Ireland, and, what is perhaps more important, unity and strength and reconciliation to the British Empire, when the Home Rule Bill was brought up in 1894 there were 500 Members of the House of Lords in attendance to vote down the voice of Ireland and the voice of England as well, as declared by the Imperial Parliament.
What is the constitution of the House of Lords as far as we are concerned? Let me make a passing observation with regard to the pathetic appeal made by the preceding speaker to the Foreign Secretary, not to give up all idea of reform of the House of Lords. I do not know what idea the Foreign Secretary has. I have heard it whispered in the newspapers that it is to destroy the hereditary principle altogether and to substitute an entirely elective Chamber for the hereditary Chamber. Will the right hon. Gentleman the Member for St. George's (Hanover Square) back the right hon. Baronet in that? I venture to suggest that it is one more of the many pharasaical appeals we have heard in the course of this Debate. Does not everything prove, does not every utterance show, that Lord Curzon, who I think must be the original of M. Rostand's "Chanticleer"—does not every utterance of Lord Curzon and Lord Salisbury prove that you will never get a reform of the House of Lords, and that you will never be able to approach the question of the reform of that House until you have the keynote of the Veto Resolutions to force the lock and open the door?
As far as Ireland is concerned, what is the House of Lords? There are in that body twenty-eight representative Irish peers. Mark the word "representative." Is there an Irish Nationalist among the lot? I do not know that there is even a Catholic. There may be, I will not dwell much upon that, because I have known Irish Catholics as unfriendly in Parliament 59 as Protestants; but is there a Nationalist among them? Not one. And if any one of the twenty-eight peers were to follow the example of the Scottish peer who voted for the Budget and to give one vote in favour of Ireland care would be taken that he should no longer act as a representative peer. They would put him out of the place. We have, however, plenty of representative Irishmen in the House of Lords. We have Lord Curzon, Lord Ash-town, Lord Atkinson, Lord Clanricarde, and Lord O'Brien. We have that gallant defender of justice for the tenantry in the person of Lord Clanricarde, and in Lord O'Brien we have the champion of impartiality of criminal administration in Ireland by the use of jury packing. As the House of Lords was, so it is now. A very few months ago I went to see them dealing with the Land Purchase Bill, and, if it be not disrespectful to say so, it reminded me of a number of starving dogs around a single bone. There was not a single clause of the Bill they tried to emasculate which would not have carried that emancipation to different districts in Ireland as to which we have heard so many eloquent and touching speeches. It would not have been passed through the House of Lords, although it gave the first message of peace to the congested districts, if it had not meant many millions of money more for the Irish landlords. If in any Parliament a 300 majority of the Members of this House were to give a vote for self-government for Ireland, which also means reconciliation with England and the strengthening of the British Empire, the Lords, if they still retain their power, would reject the Bill; old feuds would not be healed, and Ireland and England would be kept in that state of mutual suspicion and mutual hostility which, believe me, is a greater danger to England than any imaginary German invasion. Four or five million of my race have been sent to America by the action of the House of Lords, but if they were reconciled to-morrow, and they could be reconciled if you did justice to our land, that would be a greater protection to your shores and your Empire than thirty, or forty, or even one hundred "Dreadnoughts." As the House of Lords was so it is, so it will be, until it is destroyed; and, as an Irishman, I am proud of the fact that when this fabric of wrong is pulled down, Irish hands will have their share in laying it in the dust.
§ Mr. H. A. COLEFAX
There are a large number of new Members in this House, of whom I am one, and I crave its indulgence, which I know is always extended by Members on both sides to those who speak here for the first time. I regard it as a little intrepid to venture to speak at this stage of the Debate, because a good deal has already been said, and I know there are, on this side of the House at least, a large number of the older Members who still wish to address the House on this subject. I should like to have been able to follow the advice of the Prime Minister, to wait and see whether I could get a chance later, but, having regard to the apparent determination of the Government to curtail this Debate, I am rather doubtful of my chance of doing so. As to the questions of constitutional law which have been debated, I only require to say a few words. I have listened to the words which have been uttered by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Edinburgh and St. Andrews Universities (Sir Robert Finlay) and also to what the learned Attorney-General said, and although I have had the pleasure of the leadership of both those hon. and learned Gentlemen in another sphere, I think on this occasion I prefer the leadership of the hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh University to that of the Attorney-General. I venture to say that my hon. and learned Friend put the case extraordinarily well when he laid it down that, after all, one cannot decide whether or not a custom has fallen into desuetude simply and solely because an opportunity for the exercise of that custom has not arisen. We are proceeding in this House by Resolution, that is the Government's policy, and I venture to say that I echo the sentiments which I have heard given expression to already, that this procedure creates a feeling of unreality in this Debate. One has looked for reasons why this course has been adopted, and I have noticed that the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs has said that in this House the Government does not command a sufficient majority to embark upon the task of reforming the constitution of the House of Lords. But surely it is an extraordinary thing to suppose that a majority which is sufficient in their view to cripple the powers of the House of Lords is insufficient to embark upon the task of reform of its constitution? I venture to think that that is not the reason, and it is obvious that there are other reasons why this course has been adopted.
As has1 already been remarked, there is 61 a vast difference in the ease.pith which one can express your policy by Resolution and the ease with which the 'policy can be reduced to a Bill, and I venture to say that that is one of the reasons for this procedure being adopted. There is also this possibly, the hope that by this procedure dissensions and differences in the Cabinet may be conciliated. Apart altogether, as I venture to say, from the inconveniences of proceeding by Resolution, I think also the course which the Government is taking is both inconvenient and undesirable. I refer to it from this point of view, namely, that the House is asked to consider only a part of the Government policy, with respect to the relations between the two Houses, without knowing whether or not the Government propose to proceed to reform the House of Lords, and, if so, some outline being given of what its scheme is. I observe in the speech to which I have already alluded, delivered on 14th March by the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, that he at any rate, speaking for himself, thinks that a policy of reform must accompany, or must form part of, whatever steps are taken by the Government in dealing with this question. It seems to me that there is one inconvenience that arises out of this, and that is that the issue which seemingly will be submitted to the House of Lords will not be the issue which will be submitted to the country. If the Government doe's intend a reform scheme to accompany their proposal again, I would point out this, that it is a procedure which first of all deprives the House of Lords of their powers, and then leaves it to the House of Commons to proceed to say what its constitution shall be. I have been assuming, in some of these remarks which I have ventured to give expression to, that an election will intervene before any Bill is submitted by the Government, and that brings me to the point which was alluded to by the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald). I understand that lie says he regards the Government as having a mandate for the policy embodied in these proposals. The Labour party may believe that the Government has such a mandate, but I venture to think that the majority of the Labour Members were returned to support the policy of the abolition of the House of Lords. Certainly, so far as one of my own opponents was concerned, who was the nominee of that party, he very tersely expressed his views in the short phrase that,He was out to abolish the House of Lords and abolish property.62 So far as I know that has been exibited by the Independent Labour Party as part of their policy, and I ask whether they regard themselves as entitled to support these Resolutions either because they regard them as tantamount to the abolition of the House of Lords, or as the first step towards it. I am sure that we, on this side of the House, would be glad to know whether they think themselves justified in supporting this policy and regard the Government as having a mandate in regard to it? As to the position of the Irish party, I do not think that any one will believe that they are prepared to support these Resolutions on their merits at all. It has been made abundantly clear to this House that their object in supporting them is not to improve the relations between the two Houses, but to escape from the control of the Legislature of the United Kingdom. I should like just to say one or two words about these Resolutions, and with regard to the first one I would ask this question, whether any hon. Member believes that the House of Lords would have rejected the Budget if it had been an ordinary Finance Bill? We do desire on this side of the House that when there are far-reaching principles at stake which the country cannot be considered to have definitely decided upon that the House of Lords shall have an opportunity of submitting a Bill, even if be a Finance Bill, to the votes of the electorate, and I attach a special importance to this, having regard to the fact that certainly in the future, and in the immediate future, a great many legislative proposals must be of a financial character. If the House of Lords is to be deprived of all control over such legislation —I venture to give the instance of land nationalisation as an example of something which can be put into a Finance Bill —if the House of Lords is to have no control over this, then it will be deprived of its power in regard to some of the most important legislation which will come before the country in the next few years.
With respect to the Second Resolution, it seems to me that in future if that were adopted, whether or not a Bill was passed, would not be decided by the merits of the measure. No, it would not moreover be decided even by the will of the people, but by just a nice timing of the Parliamentary life of whatever proposal might be embodied in the form of a Bill. With reference to the Second Resolution also, and having regard to what has been said as to whether or not the Resolution-would apply in the case of Bills amended, 63 I venture to think it will not apply, and I would like to point out a very serious danger, namely, the enormous power which would be given to a group in this House insisting upon Amendments, and thereby making the Second Resolution inapplicable—the enormous power of insisting upon Amendments and obtaining from the Government of the day in that way undesirable concessions. The question whether or not these Resolutions amount to a single-Chamber system of Government has been debated at some length, and I must confess that I listened with interest to the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Walthamstow (Mr. Simon), but, speaking for myself, I fail to find anything in that speech or in any part of it which would support what he was trying to make out, that these Resolutions do not mean a single-Chamber system. The proposal can be put quite simply, I think. No doubt, as we believe, the House of Lords would be deprived of any effective power of amendment or rejection, and no doubt that does amount to single-Chamber Government. I put it in another way. That if, in fact, upon the application of the second of these Resolutions, a Bill is to become law without the consent of the two Houses, it seems to me that that, in fact, is a single-Chamber system of Government.
Passing to the case which is attempted to be made out, which would justify the Government in passing these Resolutions, we hear a good deal about deadlocks. I listened to the speech of the hon. and learned Solicitor-General, and, as far as I can make out the whole life of the last Parliament, consisted of a series of deadlocks, which seemed to me a curious misuse of the term altogether, because deadlock surely is something which would bring the Government to such a condition that it could not proceed further with legislation in respect of any particular matter. There is certainly no deadlock, and there has been no deadlock between the House of Lords and the people of this country. Take the Education Bill, and, as to whether the action of the House of Lords produced a deadlock, I stop to ask whether that action paralysed the Government's legislative powers in respect to education? And I think all will remember that in the Bill which succeeded it, which was introduced by the present First Lord of the Admiralty (Mr. McKenna), so far from the Government being paralysed, it showed increased vindictiveness in its attack upon voluntary schools in 64 this country. I support the Amendment that has been moved by my right hon. and learned Friend, and I believe one of the reasons why he moved it was because, in so far as there are feelings of resentment in this country against the House of Lords, they are feelings in respect of its constitution, and not in respect to its conduct. I think that we shall see that the conduct of the House of Lords and the question of whether it is approved of by the people of this country can be analysed by asking whether or not the Upper House have done anything more than simply introduce delay in cases whree there has been any doubt. I agree if it could be said that the House of Lords had permanently obstructed the will of the people it would not be a Chamber fitting properly into a democratic system of government; but when one stops to consider whether the House of Lords has ever done anything of the kind, I think one may call in aid the remarks that fell in a speech from the Secretary of State for War at Rhyl, in 1907. He said:—Whenever the nation had been in earnest with a measure the House of Lords had been in the end no permanent obstacle.Speaking for myself, I think the mere possession of a peerage should not entitle anyone to sit and vote in the House of Lords as part of the Legislature of this country, and I think that something should be done in the direction of redressing the inequality of political parties in that House. The object should be to increase, not the powers of the House of Lords, but its authority, and the reform of its constitution should be approached with these needs in view in a spirit of compromise, and not in a spirit of political antagonism. It is because I believe that the country calls in question the constitution of the House of Lords, and not its conduct, and because I believe that it should be our object to increase its authority, and not to diminish its powers, and, lastly, because I believe these proposals would mean, if carried into effect, a single-Chamber Government, that I shall support the Amendment.
§ The UNDER-SECRETARY for the COLONIES (Colonel Seely)
I should not have intervened in the Debate were it not that the right hon. Gentleman opposite, who represented the Colonial Department in the late Government, endeavoured to show that there was something inconsistent with our Colonial policy in the proposals now before the House. I do not think any such statement ought to be 65 made without an answer being at once given, and I think the answer that can be given is most conclusively given in the reports furnished to the House to-day on the Motion of the hon. Member for Central Sheffield. It shows for each Legislature in the self-governing Dominions the composition of the Second Chamber and its powers and disabilities with regard to finance and general legislation and the provisions, if any, for the adjustment of differences. The right hon. Gentleman would have us believe that because we propose to restrict the Veto of the House of Lords we are doing something inconsistent with what we have done when many of these Legislatures were set up, and especially that in South Africa. He said we impose a Second Chamber upon United South Africa. I set aside the detail that we did not impose it, it was South Africa herself who made the proposition. It is true that we ourselves devised the Constitution for the Transvaal and Orange River Colonies, but did any sensible man ever conceive it possible that we should give a Second Chamber such as we have in this country to any self-governing colony, and had we attempted to do it would any one of the self-governing Colonies have stood it for a moment? The Secretary of State for the Colonies stated in the House of Lords that if we sat down or lay down under the pretensions which the Lords now raise, and which these Resolutions are intended to abate and to remove, if we permitted them to have control over us, the self-governing Colonies would begin to wonder whether we were fit to govern ourselves. I repeat that question, and I think the answer can only be that if we do not take steps, and that at once, to secure to this House effective control over finance, and the effective power to make its will felt, I am confident that the self-governing Dominions will think we are unfit to manage our own affairs. In not all the different Dominions there are Second Chambers, but there are in many. Many of them, in fact, most of them, in this return are elected, in some they are nominated, but in no single one is there any trace of the hereditary principle, and I think it is not unfair to say that no self-governing Colony would give any powers at all, however restricted, to any Chamber based upon the hereditary principle. Will the right hon. Gentleman deny that? Of course he will not. Then what is there inconsistent with our Colonial policy in the very moderate pro- 66 posals which we put forward to secure to this House predominance in finance and in legislation while giving considerable powers still to the hereditary Chamber? I should have said that if the right hon. Gentleman wanted to make a point at all he should have complained of the Government that they did not go half far enough if they wanted to make their policy square with their policy outside the British Islands, for the policy outside the British Islands is to abolish the hereditary principle altogether, a task which I hope may one day fall to His Majesty's advisers.
§ Colonel SEELY
No, but you can set up what you please, and when we had the opportunity to set up a Second Chamber for the Transvaal and the Orange River Colony we might have set up a hereditary Second Chamber. We did not do so, but for the right hon. Gentleman to attempt to claim that there is anything contrary to our Colonial policy in attempting to restrict the power of a hereditary chamber is really to make a claim which cannot be sustained. The right hon. Gentleman seemed to me to be a good man struggling with adversity in this matter. He is a House of Commons man, anyone could see who listened to what he said. His was a very moderate statement of the case. He claimed for the House of Lords that they were an automatic emergency regulator— but is that so? He did not claim that the regulator acted fairly or unfairly, but that it acted when the machine went too quickly. That is not the case, as can be proved by most recent history. We need not now discuss whether the Education and the Licensing Acts were good or bad measures, but they were making the machine work very quickly.
§ Mr. LYTTELTON
The right hon. Gentleman misapprehends my argument. I used that expression solely with reference to the power of the Lords in finance.
§ Colonel SEELY
The case, then, is even stronger. But I think the right hon. Gentleman did refer to the other powers, and he, and the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken, assumed that the House of Lords would only act as a brake when the machine was going too quickly. That is not the fact. The House of Lords did not act as a brake when the machine went very quickly indeed, when the Licensing Bill and the Education Bill of the late Govern- 67 ment were passed into law. Setting aside the question whether they were good or bad, there can be no doubt that they were great changes of the law of the most far-reaching description, and the fact that the House of Lords did not then intervene is fatal to the contention that they act as a brake when the machine goes quickly. The brake only acts when the Liberal Government is in power, and when the Conservative Government is in power it does not act, however fast the machine goes. Let me turn to the right hon. Gentleman's statement that he only referred to the brake argument in dealing with finance. Is it the case that the House of Lords has never before had an opportunity of throwing out a Budget because it has gone too quickly? It has again and again been stated in this Debate that the only reason for the House of Lords acting as a brake on this occasion is because the Budget is so novel and I do not think a reply has yet been given. It cannot now be contended either that the Budget was revolutionary or that the charge of tacking can be levelled against it, at least I think not, because the oft-quoted statement of Lord St. Aldwyn seems to dispose of that. He is certainly not favourably disposed to Liberal finance, and he stated in the clearest terms that the Budget was neither, properly so-called, revolutionary, nor was the charge of tacking properly to be brought against it. If that be so, we only have the question of novelty to deal with, and here I ask the right hon. Gentleman if he can find an answer to this. Was not the Free Trade Budget of 1846 more novel in its day than the Budget of last year was in our day? I think most people would assert that the first Free Trade Budget was an infinitely greater revolution of the preceding practice than the Budget of last year. It threw an immensely greater burden on many large classes of the community, and it struck a very shrewd blow at the Members of the House of Lords in their financial capacity. The House of Lords never thought of throwing it out, or if they did wiser counsels prevailed. What, then, becomes of the argument of novelty? If the right hon. Gentleman only takes the period since 1861 we have a still better reply. What about Sir William Harcourt's Budget of 1894? What about the Death Duties? We have it on the authority of hon. Gentlemen opposite that that was the greatest and most dangerous change in finance which was 68 ever proposed in this House. I remember reading in the speeches how this was the commencement of living upon our capital, which must rapidly produce national bankruptcy. I could quote speeches of hon. Members opposite much stronger in denunciation of Sir William Harcourt's Budget than anything that has even been said of the Budget of my right hon. Friend. The House of Lords did not throw it out. Then what becomes of the argument that the House of Lords were justified in throwing out this Budget, not because they did this as a general rule, but because they could only do it in a case of great emergency and novelty? Lord St. Aldwyn disposes of the revolution and tacking argument. The House of Lords themselves have disposed of the novelty argument by accepting Sir William Harcourt's Budget and the first Free Trade Budget.
There was another argument of the right hon. Gentleman which the House did not take very seriously and which he himself did not mean very seriously at the time, that the House of Lords, although we may not think they are right now with regard to settled controversies of the past, were right in their own time. The right hon. Gentleman said that in 1830 it may be that a thing is right which was not right in 1800. I suppose the doctrine is that the House of Lords is always right last and that the House of Commons is always right first. Let us take the case of university tests. For thirty-six years the House of Lords refused to allow Nonconformists to have the advantage of university education. Does the right hon. Gentleman mean to say that they were right at the beginning and at the end? Surely he does not say that? He cannot say they were right in the case of Catholic Emancipation. He will not say they were right in the case of the extensions of the franchise. The argument of delay will not hold water with regard to matters like the first two, which are matters of abstract justice. It is a matter of abstract justice that men of all creeds should be permitted to take advantage of our universities, and if it is right in the year 1860 it is right in the year 1800 and as many years back as you choose to go.
If it is right to-day, as in the case of Catholic Emancipation, that men of all creeds should have the right to occupy practically all the offices in the State, was it not just as right one hundred years ago? I should say that the truth of the matter is that the House of Lords is always wrong at the beginning, and keeps being wrong 69 all the time, until at last, by terror, it is forced to give way, although it still thinks that it is right when wrong. In regard to every one of the great settled controversies of the past, I think it is sustained by historical reference that the House of Lords was always wrong, and only gave way by terror. The right hon. Gentleman said there was a system of give and take, and he commended that system to us. He said the Resolutions were bad, because they would put an end to the system of give and take. What sort of give and take have we had between the House of Commons and the House of Lords in the last few years? What have they given, and what have they taken? They have taken or tried to take the right to control the whole of finance and to hold the whole Executive in the hollow of their hand. They have taken or tried to take control of taxes which trench on their monopolies by throwing out a Budget which attacks those monopolies. And what do they give us? Sham reforms. They try to keep us quiet in that way; but we will not be deluded on this side of the House. No," we will have our own proposals.
The right hon. Gentleman urged two arguments as to the need for a Second Chamber. He said a Second Chamber was always necessary in this country, because the House of Commons had great powers. It had power to make treaties, power over the Crown Colonies, which the right hon. Gentleman himself administered without any control from the House of Lords for many years; power to make peace and war, and power over the Army and Navy, and he asked whether it was not very necessary the House of Lords should come in somewhere. That was the only argument that seemed to emerge from what the right hon. Gentleman put to the House. Why, because this House has for many centuries held uncontrolled sway in about three-fourths of the powers of the Executive, why, because during the whole of that time in matters of the umost interest to everyone outside these islands, why, because it has been so powerful in the past, should you ask to curtail those powers to-day? Is it because the British Empire as a whole has been a failure? I should have thought that the marvel was that we had in our external relations succeeded in adapting democracy to our needs in a way which no nation has been able to approach. Why bring in the House of Lords? I should have thought that the argument was all the other way, and that, seeing that we have succeeded beyond the dreams 70 of any of those who wrote history 100 years ago, or even fifty years ago, in those very realms where the House of Lords has no power, you might safely say that you may take away the powers they have, and leave them very little. At least, in regard to the external affairs of the country you would have done no harm at all. It seems to me that the arguments for the House of Lords, as based upon Colonial comparison and in regard to the forces of the Crown, all tend to show that our proposals err, if they err at all, on the side of moderation, and that we might safely restrict the Veto power to a much greater degree.
Secondly, the right hon. Gentleman told us that the House of Lords was necessary to us because the House of Commons lacked time. He drew a moving picture of the difficulties of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who has a great Department to preside over and at the same time to make speeches in the country. But it is just the action of the House of Lords that made it necessary for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to make speeches in the country. If the House of Lords were out of the way, as I hope they will soon be, the Chancellor of the Exchequer will have more time to attend to his business. The right hon. Gentleman told us that the permanent officials had a very hard time, because this House was constantly interfering in the different departments of work. Well, this House does interfere in the different departments of work. He said also that the House of Commons was constantly putting extra work on the permanent officials. I admit that it puts a great deal of extra work upon them, and that they respond to it exceedingly well, as no one has more reason to know than I have. If that argument means anything at all, it means that you ought not to curtail the powers of the House of Lords, but abolish the House of Commons. In that argument we see again leaping to the surface the true mind of many persons who have engaged in this controversy. The Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University (Lord Hugh Cecil) asked, "What about Prussia?" In this argument we see that the House of Lords is to be maintained in order that permanent officials may not be embarrassed, and that they may have more time. It is an argument that we should revert to the Prussian bureaucratic system. It seems to me that there we have the true issue between the two sides in this matter. I do not care what others 71 may say, but it seems to me, and I believe the country will see plainly, that it is just a question between the House of Lords and the House of Commons. Our proposals are to restrict the powers of the Lords, while the proposals of the right hon. Gentleman opposite are to restrict the powers of the Commons, and by so doing to make the machine of Government run more easily. I believe that the powers of the House of Commons, exercised as they have been fully and freely in most Departments of the State, have by no means prevented the good working of the machine. I believe all our great Departments owe their great efficiency to the action of this House, to the constant criticism and fierce light that beats upon it, and I should not accept such an argument as the right hon. Gentleman has put forward that we should abate our pretensions to govern the country and give more power to the House of Lords and less power to this House in order to make the machine of government run more smoothly. I can only say, in conclusion, that in so far as you make references to external relations unquestionably the arguments in favour of our Resolutions are overwhelming. Certainly in no part of the world and in no part of our own dominions is such an institution as the House of Lords tolerated, and if such an institution existed in any one of our self-governing dominions our Resolutions would be considered far too feeble. They would say that it might be well for us to go as far as to take away the powers of the House of Lords altogether. I say that the Resolutions put before the House are reasonable and moderate and well designed to maintain the dignity of this House.
§ 6.0 P.M.
§ Mr. MACMASTER
It seems to me that hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House are not all of the same frame of mind as the last speaker. We find in the King's Speech a clear indication that there was originally an intention on the part of the Government to suggest something in the way of legislation that would tend to the improvement of the constitution of the House of Lords. Other counsels appear to have prevailed, and we are now left to the consideration of the crippling or maiming of the powers which the House of Lords possess. A very distinguished Member of the other House (Lord St. Aldwyn) was cited by the last speaker as having stated that the Budget was not revolutionary, but 72 we know on the authority of an ex-Liberal I Prime Minister (Lord Rosebery) that it is revolutionary and something more. [An HON. MEMBER: "He did not vote against it."] It may be said that he did not vote against it, but still there was not on his part any recantation of the opinion that it was a revolutionary Budget. I think there is a great deal of misapprehension in regard to the use of the word "Veto." It is not in reality a Veto by the Lords. The House of Lords, except in the matter of initiation, has concurrent powers with the House of Commons, and to use the word "Veto" as meaning the exercise of authority which it should not possess is to misrepresent the actual position. It seems to me that if there is ground for the Resolution now before the House there was much more ground for it before the General Election, because, after the passing of the Resolution proposed by Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, the Prime Minister might have said, "This is the determination of the House of Commons by a triumphant majority of over 300. It represents the views of the House of Commons which has just been elected by the people." It seems to me that was the time to make the proposal, but now is it not perfectly obvious that that vantage ground occupied by those who hold these views has passed away? Since then an appeal has been made to the country, and the splendid majority gained in the year 1907 has been considerably diminished. There has been a loss of over 100 seats. We must remember, also, that when the recent appeal to the country was made, it was not merely the Budget that came before the electors. In his address to his constituents, which was a pronunciamento to the nation, the Prime Minister said that the first and most important issue for determination was the question of the Lords Veto. At the General Election that issue was pre-eminently before the people and the Government came back to power with a largely reduced majority. I do not know what hope our friends who represent Ireland may have, but whatever hope they have for the Government securing guarantees, surely that hope must be very considerably diminished now, because it might quite reasonably be answered that, instead of the verdict of the people having been favourable to the Government on the issue submitted the result has been unfavourable, seeing that the majority has been reduced 73 considerably as compared with the majority in the last House, even though the question of the Veto was made the primary consideration during the election.
There is another point with regard to the action of the House of Lords. It is not so much a question of depriving the House of Lords of their Veto, so called. The real question is, if the first clause of these Resolutions is adopted, whether it does not mean not merely what is apparently a delimitation of the power of the House of Lords, but rather a delimitation of the power of the Veto of the people? If you pass the first Resolution you deprive the House of Lords of the power of referring any question of a financial character to the people. The Constitution is made up of checks and balances, and with all respect to hon. Gentlemen opposite the power of the House of Lords to refer an important question to the people is one of the great safeguards of our Constitution. If we do not retain that power we put the nation in this position in respect to finance, that you have immediate control by a single House. In respect of all other measures you put a limit on the powers of the House of Lords by enacting that if a measure has been passed three times by the Commons it becomes law, and it matters not whether the Lords assent to it or not. It becomes then a permanent part of the law of the land with the King's consent. Whereas at present, both in respect of finance and in respect of ordinary legislation, the Government of the day in any really important measure rejected by the Lords, sooner or later, would be compelled to apply to the people for a fresh authorisation. That is a power that the people will be deprived of in future. From my point of view a much more serious inroad is made into the rights of the people than is made into the rights of the Lords, because the Lords Veto, the Lords right to call for the opinion of the people, is really the preservation of the vested right in the people themselves and the best means of securing the people's will.
The right hon. Gentleman referred to the analogy between Governments here and the Governments in the Colonies. He recognises that in the Colonies they have two Chambers. He recognises, because this House has recognised and is responsible for the legislation, that in the leading Colonies the Second Chamber has the power to reject as well as to accept the Budget. That is indisputable. It is so in 74 the legislation which this Government gave to the Transvaal. It is so in the legislation for South Africa, and in previous legislation in respect of Australia. In the Dominion of Canada the Second Chamber has not only the power that the Second Chamber has here, but it has a greater power because its jurisdiction, except in the single matter of originating financial measures, is co-extensive with the power of the Canadian House of Commons. When the British North America Act was passed all the powers were given to the Canadian Senate that were possessed by the Canadian House of Commons except the single power of originating a financial measure. The right hon. Gentleman says, "Have they any heredity there? Have they anything to do with heredity there?" Most certainly not. How could they have anything to do with heredity when a hereditary class did not exist in the country? I should think that everyone would know that. In creating a Second Body there, you would have to create it out of the conditions which exist. Do hon. Gentlemen think that in creating a Second Chamber there you would have to create a brand new peerage to make it work smoothly? By no means. You take the material you have and construct the best body you can get, and you give them the powers there of rejecting a' financial measure which you propose to take away from the Second House in this country.
The Second House in this country was not created in the same way as were the Second Houses in the Colonies. It was a matter of growth, and a very important growth, too—growth that goes back behind the days of Magna Charta, that goes back to the time, I believe, when the noble lords of whom the present Lords are successors, as far as successors can be—for there are many important additions, I quite agree, and I hope there will be more—the House of Lords which you are now proposing to decapitate represents a long succession—a matter of national growth. If you imagine that all of a sudden you can cut down that growth and substitute for it a new condition—a condition borrowed from abroad, from some foreign country, largely alien to this country—you will undergo a very considerable disappointment. My right hon. Friend asked me what about Lord Rosebery's Resolutions. So far as I know, they are carrying out just the condemnation of the very thing that the right hon. Gentleman objects to. He objects to the principle of 75 heredity. That has been objected to throughout the whole of this Debate. That has been objected to in the country whenever the question of the House of Lords has been discussed. It is said—and I agree with the statement—why should a man be a legislator because he is the son of his father? I entirely agree, and I entirely agree with any proposal that goes to secure a stronger and a more efficient House of Lords. If the hon. Gentleman asks me what about Lord Rosebery's Resolution, I say that it has recognised this, that for the future the mere possession of a peerage does not constitute a necessary qualification for the House of Lords. And I trust that it is not beyond the skill of British statesmanship and genius to devise for this country a Second Chamber that, without derogating in any way from the powers of our Chamber, will yet be worthy of the past of the existing Second Chamber, and may provide us in the future with a sound revising Chamber that will not be a mere crippled instrument to record whatever decision this House of Commons comes to.
There is a great deal to be said for an elective Senate. They have an elective Senate in the United States. They have, by the terms of the Constitution, powers to deal with money matters, and they use these powers every day. But hon. Gentlemen propose that no such powers shall be possessed by our Second Chamber. By what kind of reasoning do they come to that conclusion? Some hon. Gentlemen say that in due time—but we do not know in what time—there will be a Senate established in this country, and that it will be a wise Second Body, elected by the people. When that body is established, let me ask hon. Gentlemen—I do not mean hon. Gentlemen on the Labour Benches, because they wish to abolish the Second Chamber, but I ask those who propose to have a Second Chamber in the form of a Senate—when the newly organised Senate is a going concern, do they propose to restore to it the Veto, as they call it, which they now propose to take from the House of Lords? [Several HON. MEMBERS: "NO."] Then I understand perfectly that this Senate, which is to take the place of the House of Lords, is to be an emasculated creature, which can merely register the opinions arrived at in this House, and is not to be a Senate corresponding to the great Senate of the United States. It was said by the Solicitor-General—and I think truly— 76 that a General Election costs a sum of £2,000,000 sterling. If you are going to have a Second Elective Body, a Senate, you are going to have the expenses of election in this country duplicated, which is a rather serious matter. There may be some hon. Members in this House who do not feel greatly burdened with election expenses, but I am perfectly satisfied that a great majority of the Members in this House feel the burden, and the amount of these expenses keeps many able men who are well qualified by capacity, education, skill, and knowledge from serving their country in this House.
One of the reforms that we should take in hand is in regard to our own House in this matter, and in that I speak the opinion of others. I have pointed to the fact that if you have an election for a Second House you will have the expenses practically doubled. Instead of having small constituencies as we have now, we should have constituencies for the great British Senate that would probably comprise eight or ten of the ordinary divisions that we have to-day. Who is going to be able to stand the expenses of an election in a division of that size? What are you going to have? You are going to have the disappearance of many men as candidates for this Second House because they have not the means to contest an election of that kind. You will then open that Second Body only to the rich of the country, and instead of a well-matured, wise Second Chamber such as you have to-day—with some exceptions, of course, but, taking it as a whole, the first legislative body in the world—instead of having a body which comprises not merely a generation, or several generations, of hereditary statesmen, but a body that comprises men who have been elevated there on account of their great ability in science, art, statesmanship, war, and the general service of the country, a House that comprises a very large number of men drafted from this House, having experienced all that we go through, instead of having a House of this character, you will have a Senate of plutocrats, and, with all the faults of the present House of Lords, I believe that when that day comes, if it ever does come—and I trust it never will—you will find hon. Gentlemen opposite saying, "We would prefer the old state of things, the old Senate, the men that we respected, instead of this noblesse riche that are now imposed upon us." I am sure hon. Members opposite, if that state of things should come about, would regret that they did not have the 77 legislative body of which Mr. Gladstone told us something in July, 1857. He said:—When I look at the course of legislation in this country, when I recollect the Corporation and Test Act, the Bill for the admission of Roman Catholics to Parliament, the Reform Act, the Municipal Corporations Reform Bill, the Bill for the Repeal of the Poor Laws, the Navigation Laws, and the Succession Duties, when I remember that all these Bills were acceded to, sometimes with a conscious reluctance, but always with an honourable and graceful concession on the part of the Lords to the wishes of the people, I am not prepared lightly to forego that confidence which I repose in the Lords, and I am prepared to say that when that House conscientiously withholds its assent from particular measure which it deems to be at variance with the principles of the Constitution, it is entitled to give that judgment, and nothing but a consideration of the highest and most urgent public interest would induce us to interfere with its free and independent action.What has brought all this indignation on the Lords? The indignation has been created by the rejection of the Budget— professedly so—and the election was fought on that issue. In rejecting the Budget they have imposed no taxation and no hardship, but they have practically said to the nation, "As we regard this as a revolutionary measure in introducing new principles of taxation, we think it right that the political sovereign should be consulted, and therefore refer it to the people." If that be regarded as an insult to the people, it is a most remarkable view to take of the situation. I respectfully submit that when we look at this matter seriously, we shall hesitate before we deprive this historic Second Chamber of the powers that it has possessed in the past, but by an exercise of reasonable wisdom, where we find imperfections in its constitution, we should do for it what we should first do for ourselves, endeavour to improve it rather than destroy it.
§ Mr. GIBSON BOWLES
The hon. Member who has just spoken informed us that there is no heredity in Canada. I hope that only referred to men and not also to horses in which heredity certainly has its value. But he will remember that an aristocracy is the growth of time, that in time Canada may possess an aristocracy and a Second Chamber composed of members of that aristocracy, and that it may be face to face in the future with the difficulty in which we to-day find ourselves. I intend to vote for going into Committee on the three Resolutions, mainly because I think the third Resolution, which has received scarcely any attention, is of the utmost value and of the utmost importance, and in spite of the fact that I consider the other two Resolutions have certain defects, which I will venture in a friendly way to point out. We 78 are told that we are now debating a matter of the utmost constitutional consequence— of greater consequence than has been experienced almost since Parliament began. Strangely enough, I see no signs of great excitement in the country, and scarcely any signs of interest in this House. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition says there has never been a deadlock, and that there is no deadlock now. The right hon. Gentleman never took a great interest in finance or in figures. Once, indeed, I did hear him count up to twenty-five, but that was only in German ironclads, and I do not suppose that he has referred to what I think a most appalling document— the account of the Revenue for the year up to 31st March last. Had he done so he would have seen there was a deficit in the year's income of £30,000,000, that the Sinking Fund has had to be raided to the extent of £6,300,000, that the Treasury balances are £3,500,000 less than last year, and that we have incurred £22,500,000 extra in temporary advances. We have added £32,000,000 to the indebtedness of the country, which, added to the deficit in the Revenue, makes the Exchequer over £60,000,000 worse off than it should have been but for the Lords. That is the chief result which has appeared so far. I do call that a deadlock. I do myself think that it constitutes a circumstance that requires the attention of this House, and an endeavour on its part to take such measures as shall prevent the recurrence of such a state of things. I find two great principles enunciated by His Majesty's Government. They are both in the Gracious Speech from the Throne. First of all, we have heard constantly that the Government are determined to maintain two Chambers; and, secondly, we have it in the Speech from the Throne that—The House of Lords should he so constituted and empowered as to exercise impartially in regard to proposed legislation the functions of initiation, of revision, and, subject to proper safeguards, of delay.I agree with these two principles. In. my belief a single House, which was once tried in this country with disastrous results, would be a national danger. I believe a Second Chamber is absolutely necessary, and I do conceive that the intention of His Majesty's Government to reform the House of Lords by making a proper second Chamber is perfectly capable of fulfilment. I, like the Government, desire to preserve the Lords as a Second Chamber, for this, if no other 79 reason, that the limitation of the Veto will not preserve them, but will only mutilate them.
For four centuries the Commons claimed that all grants should begin here. That was the rule from the fourteenth to the seventeenth century. And very rightly they so claimed, for then each Order made its own grant. The Lords Spiritual and Temporal and the Commons each made its own grants. At that time the grant of the Commons was the grant of their own money alone, and it would have been monstrous of the Lords to interfere with it. Moreover, if we may trust Coke, the Commons only granted the money of the Commons after a reference to the people. In such circumstances it is easy to understand the proceedings of 1628, to which the Attorney-General has referred, and which, as he truly said, made the grant of money a grant of the Commons alone. For they granted only their own money, and only after reference to the people, their electors. But it is also true that if the Lords had no share in the grant they still had, as they have to-day, their full share in the enactment of the grant, without which it was none. Their assent was then as necessary as it is to-day, and that it is necessary to-day the failure of the Finance Bill shows.
But gradually the system grew and altered, so that, instead of the separate grant by each estate, Parliament made one grant for and from all. The Lords Temporal lost their right to a separate grant first. The Lords Spiritual, always having an eye to the fleece of the flock, kept theirs in their own hands, and in that of Convocation, till 1662. Then and thence alone was there one grant from the three estates, and I may add that then and thence alone were the taxes granted for a longer period than one year. The difference is vast. The reason for the exclusive control of the Commons over grants no longer theirs alone, had gone. Nevertheless, it was not till then that the claim was advanced that the Lords should not amend the Commons grants. It was first put forward by the Pensioner Parliament, which shared with Charles II. the bribes of Louis XIV. It was argued at a Free Conference between the House in 1671, "with," as Hallam says, "a decided advantage both as to precedent and constitutional analogy on the side of the peers,'' and the claim of the Commons to exclude 80 the Lords from Amendment led Maitland the most recent, and perhaps the most able, commentator on the Constitution, to say:—It is difficult to find any principle upon which this so-called privilege of the House of Commons can be founded.The Lords, indeed, never abandoned the right of amendment, and still sometimes exercised it with the assent of the Commons. My belief is—and I am sure Mr. Gladstone shared the opinion—that the House of Lords has as good a right to amend a Finance Bill as it has a right to reject it. I put it no higher than that— they have the right to reject, and they have as good a right to amend. But there is between the possession of the right and the abuse of it a great difference. Had the Lords amended or attempted to amend the Finance Bill, I should have thought that they were within their rights and within their discretion, but they rejected the Bill without any attempt at amendment, and they, therefore, have undoubtedly most abusively exercised the right which they possess, and they have thrown the whole finance of the country into the confusion in which it still is. How are we to prevent the recurrence of such a state of things as this, for prevented it undoubtedly must be? I hold with His Majesty's Government that it may, can, and should be prevented by so reconstituting the House of Lords as to render unlikely such an abusive exercise of that power again. If this be done, if it be done successfully, if you do so constitute and empower that House as to make it an adequate Second Chamber, exercising its powers, not partially and from party motives, as I fear it has done, but impartially, and so as to secure the amendment of any measure—if you do achieve that result you need not deal with Veto, you need not even seek to remodel the relations between the two Houses. The first Resolution I come to says it is advisable that the Lords shall be disabled from rejecting or amending Money Bills. That is a vast extension of any claims that have hitherto been made by this House. The Resolutions of 1671, 1678 and even 1860 did not so much as use the expression Money Bills, they only referred to Bills of aid and Supply. I myself scarcely know what the term "Money Bill" means. It is not a term of art, it is not to be found in any one of our standing Orders, and the Resolution recognises that by defining what is a new term. The new definition is that a Money Bill, to be con- 81 sidered as such, must deal only with one of fifteen enumerated subjects, otherwise if the Bill should deal with any mortal thing other than one of the fifteen subjects enumerated, it will not be a Money Bill according to the definition of the Resolution, which presumably will be followed by a similar definition Bill. Who is to say what the fifteen subjects cover? I have looked a little into the matter myself, and my belief is that under this Resolution this House has this Session already passed two Bills which, in the ordinary way, would be considered Money Bills, with which the Lords should not interfere, but which under the definition would not be Money Bills. The Consolidated Bill (No. 1) would not be a Money Bill under this Resolution. The East India Loans Bill would not be a Money Bill under this Resolution. The Finance Bill itself, whence all this trouble arises, in my belief, would have to be ruled out as a Money Bill by Mr. Speaker under the definition here contained.
Mr. Speaker is to decide what is and what is not a Money Bill. Surely that is putting upon Mr. Speaker duties of a very new kind. Mr. Speaker is the judge of our Standing Orders, the depository of our traditions, and is the final authority upon our laws, written and unwritten. He is to construe, and does construe, our Standing Orders and Rules, but in this case he is called upon to construe Acts of Parliament. He never has done that previously. As soon as a Bill is passed which embodies these Resolutions he will have to resolve himself into a court of first and last instance, to construe every one of the two hundred Bills that annually are introduced into this House, and to settle whether they lire Money Bills or not. He must consider them most carefully—he must construe most strictly, or his constructions may amount to a penalising of the existing rights of the Lords. Without the aid of contending counsel, he must decide points which would puzzle the ablest and most practised judge, and he must decide them without the consolation that the least able of the judges feels when making a decision that if he is wrong, before any mischief is done, he will be reversed on appeal. When Mr. Speaker is to give a decision it is left indeterminate, yet it is not without difficulty. The decision can hardly be given before the Bill is introduced or before its passage through the House, for it may be changed. I presume, though I do not know, that it must be given when the Bill leaves this House, and I suppose 82 Mr. Speaker will endorse it "Money Bill," and perhaps may add, "Lords warned off, Nemo me impune lacessit."
When Mr. Speaker decides on a matter of Order or of Privilege now his decision is final and irrevocable and without appeal. Will it be so when he decides as to the construction of an Act of Parliament? May not the Lords contest the construction or deny it, or may not some pestilent Subject, aggrieved by the Bill, in the way of taxes, refuse to pay the taxes on the ground that the Bill has been improperly decided to have been a Money Bill? Can this House give to the opinion of Mr. Speaker, and that is the word used in the Resolution, a sanctity which has never been given yet even to the Prerogative of the Crown; can it withdraw such a decision on the construction of an Act of Parliament from the court of law? If not, you may have strange results. You may have a supposed Money Bill decided not to be such by courts of law below. You may have taxation presumed to be imposed by such a Bill remitted by the Lord Chief Justice possibly, an injunction granted against you by Mr. Justice Grantham, and conceivably you may have Mr. Speaker himself dismissed with costs by the House of Lords. Passing this, let me observe that a Money Bill decided to be such may not be amended or rejected by the Lords; but there is no provision under the Resolution for what is to happen then, as there is under the second Resolution. Under the second Resolution, after certain events have occurred, a Bill becomes law without the consent of the Lords; but that is not so in the case of a Money Bill. No such provision as that is made in regard to the Money Bill, therefore it must be presumed that, though the Lords may not amend or reject a Money Bill, still it is not intended to become an Act without their consent. They may not reject, but suppose they lay it by—suppose they go on moving the previous question—suppose they delay— I see no method by which the Bill is to be rescued from its state of suspended animation, from the condition in which, like Mahomet's coffin, it will be between heaven and earth, having left earth and not yet reached heaven.
There, is no provision, in short, in the first Resolution, as there is in the second, that failing such things, or in the event of certain things the Bill shall become law. Suppose the Lords defeat the Bill by mere delay, what will the Bill then become? I see no answer to that in the Resolution we have before us. 83 Does not the Resolution require something? Does it not require, if it is to be watertight, to be somewhat more like the second Resolution? It says: "The Lords shall be disabled from rejecting or amending." Is it not necessary that there should also be at the end of the Clause, "if they either reject or amend, or neglect or avoid, or delay, the Bill shall become law," without further ado? There is one other criticism I have to make on this Resolution. It gives no power anywhere of amending a Money Bill in any way, once it has left the House of Commons- But if the Lords are neither to amend nor reject a Money Bill, what reason can there be for sending a Money Bill to them? Surely, if we are to send Money Bills up to them, not for the exercise of their counsel and their discretion, but that they may merely look at them, it would be better to do with the Money Bills what it is proposed to do with the others, and hop them over the Lords from this House to the Throne for the Royal Assent?
I come to the second Resolution, which covers the whole ground of legislation, including even Money Bills which are not technically decided to be such. The case for limiting the Lords Veto in Money Bills is, I admit, very good. I take a Money Bill to mean a Bill of Aid and Supply. The grounds are very strong, for we really require the certainty of some early issue from the terribly disastrous situation in which the exercise of this Veto has left us at this moment. But I am bound to admit that the case for extending the prohibition of that Veto into the whole area of legislation of any kind whatever is not go strong. May I remind the House it is not the House of Lords, but this House that is the great rejecter of Bills. I have referred to the Return which is issued every year, and I find that in this House during the last four years there have been introduced some 800 Bills. Of these 540 were rejected without ever going down the corridor at all. It is true they were mainly private Members' Bills, the kind of Bill for which this House has never had much mercy, and for which in the future I believe it will have none at all. But, of Government Bills, there were introduced 213, and there only failed eighteen, or less than one in ten. I do not forget that some of the eighteen were what would be called in Navy language, "Capital Bills." There is the Education Bill of 1906, the rejection of which, in my opinion, was 84 discreditable and disgraceful to a section of the Lords. So discreditable was it that the wiser of the Lords—the Duke of Devonshire himself—voted against insisting on the Lords amendments, which, nevertheless, were insisted on. There is also the Finance Bill, from which all this arises. But still it is fair to remember that the Lords do not reject, but, on the whole, accept most of the Bills of the Liberal Government. This Resolution is to restrict the right of the Lords over the rejection of any Bill: "That it is expedient that the powers of the House of Lords, as respects Bills other than Money Bills, be restricted by law, so that any such Bill which has passed the House of Commons in three successive Sessions, and, having been sent up to the House of Lords at least one month before the end of the Session, has been rejected by that House in each of those Sessions, shall become law without the consent of the House of Lords on the Royal Assent being declared: Provided that at least two years shall have elapsed between the date of the first introduction of the Bill in the House of Commons and the date on which it passes the House of Commons for the third time. For the purposes of this Resolution a Bill shall be treated as rejected by the House of Lords if it has not been passed by the House of Lords either without Amendment or with such Amendments only as may be agreed upon by both Houses." But it must be identically the same Bill, absolutely and indisputably the same Bill, or the Resolution fails.
I do not remember in my Parliamentary experience any Bill which was intended to pass, any Bill other than those Bills that are issued as manifestoes and reintroduced the next year, which are generally Bills promoted by some society; I do not remember, I say, any Bill that was introduced into this House with a view of passing it, and that was rejected, or failed to get through in one Session of this House, ever being introduced in the next Session in identically the same terms. It was not so even with the Reform Bill itself. The Reform Bill was introduced, and in the course of a few months it was rejected and referred to the people. It was reintroduced, but not the same Bill. The Second Bill had material alterations in it. It was again rejected, and the Bill was again brought into this House, not the same Bill, but materially different. They were not three identical Bills, and although the cry of the country was, "The Bill, the whole 85 Bill, and nothing but the Bill," it never was the whole Bill, it never was the same Bill; it was the third Reform Bill, which was entirely different from the first, and which was, in the course of a few months, so altered that it was finally passed, and, in my belief, it was this amendment which has made it to this day the charter of this House and the charter of the rights of the people. You may have another Reform Bill. Will you cut it off from all chance of amendment, even by your own selves? Are we to give up the chance, even in this House, of amending a Bill? According to the Resolution we must, or the Bill will escape the powers to be applied to it.
There is another and a graver consideration to my mind under this Resolution, and that is that not only does it coerce the Lords but it sets aside the people. The House of Commons and the people are not always the same, nor always actuated by the same desire—nor can we ever assume that they are, except possibly immediately after a General Election. In three years this House may become as much out of harmony with the people as that House which refused Supplies to Pitt, and with which he struggled for the first three months of 1784. It may become just as much out of harmony with the people as the House which the right hon. Gentleman the Member for the City of London (Mr. A. J. Balfour) led in 1905, and the country may be as desirous as then of destroying it. Yet this House is to dictate all. It is to assert infallibility for itself, and to claim plenary inspiration for every word of the Bill as introduced, and as it goes through its three successive Sessions. The least thing that can be done, in my opinion, to make this second Resolution wise or even tolerable to the people is to provide that between the first passing of the Bill and the last sending of it up to the Lords the people shall be consulted. That would be met by a slight verbal but most important alteration in the Resolution. It provides at present that the Bill must be passed in three successive Sessions. Take out the "three successive Sessions" and put in "two successive Parliaments," then indeed you will reserve the rights of the people. Then, indeed, you will secure that the matter shall go to them, and that it is not alone your will but theirs which will finally prevail over the House of Lords.
There remains what, to my mind, is the most serious thing of all with regard to this second Resolution. A Bill is to become law without the consent of the Lords. 86 Let me seriously ask the House, let me especially ask any historian or any constitutionalist: Can a Bill become law without the consent of the Lords? This Parliament for 700 years has consisted of King, Lords, and Commons. For 700 years no Act has ever passed without the assent of all three. Except during the anarchy of the Long Parliament, without the triple assent, nothing ever yet pretended to be an Act of Parliament. Parliament, without the Lords, is no Parliament, and to make an Act of Parliament without Parliament is an impossibility. But even, if you could as proposed make such an Act, mark the result. You would have two sorts of Acts of Parliament, one passed in the ordinary way by both Houses, receiving the Royal Assent, and becoming the law of the land; the other passed by this House alone, a one-House Act. Would the Courts regard both with the same respect? Would they not make the same distinction between the two that they formerly made between the Ordinance of the Middle Ages, passed by King and Lords alone, and the Acts of Parliament which superseded them, passed by the common action of the whole Parliament? Could you expect to obtain the same respect for your one-House Acts that was given to the two-House Acts? Would there not be imposed upon the Courts of Law a new and serious problem? But, if you really can do this, if, indeed, you can pass Acts of Parliament without the Lords, then in my view you have abolished Parliament. And you have done much more. You have abolished that sovereign authority which resides in Parliament—Parliament of three members, Kings, Lords and Commons—you have abolished that sovereign authority which in this country resides in Parliament alone. The King is our sovereign lord, but sovereign authority resides not in the King alone, but only in the King, Lords, and Commons. Should you be able, as I think you are not able, to set up a power of making an Act of Parliament which excludes one of the three members of Parliament, then it seems to me that you have destroyed Parliament; and, if you have done that, you have destroyed the sole place in which sovereign authority in this country resides. Have you considered what may then happen? Have you considered the new sovereignty which will be set up? The new sovereignty, the Home Secretary has told us, will consist of the Sovereign and this House. Among the component parts of the sovereign authority in all times there have differences, constant, recurring, 87 very grave. The Commons have differed with the Lords; the King has differed with both. There have been differences of every kind between the different members. Are you sure that all kings will always agree with all Houses of Commons? May you not have a recurrence of conflict and in more distressing circumstances? Hitherto the billows of political conflict which have been so boisterous about us have begun and ended in the two Houses, and when they have reached the foot of the Throne they have been but caressing waves. Henceforth, if you change this House and the Monarch from being each one-third part of the sovereignty to being each one-half, are you sure that conflicts will not arise? Are you sure that that same ease and facility with which things have been conducted will subsist? These are great risks; I do not dwell upon them; I only indicate them. It seems to me a very risky kind of surgery that lays the Constitution upon the operating table. At every moment the knife may graze a vital organ, at any moment may wound it. Up to this time there has been a Rule of this House that the King's name should not be introduced in order to influence Debate. It has now been introduced, if not to influence Debate, at any rate to salt a peroration. It may yet be introduced in other perorations of other kinds if the Crown and the Commons are always expected to act together. It must be remembered that the Crown, acting by the advice, as it does, of the Government, is in fact at any moment the Government of the day. The Prerogative is one of the powers of Ministers, and when a Minister speaks affectionately of the Crown, of what it is to do, and the use of its Prerogative, I can understand it, But when he has ceased to be a Minister, will he take the same view? May he not then think that that is tyranny which he now thinks proper? Is it not probable that in future, if this system is set up of making Acts of Parliament without the concurrence of one important portion of Parliament, there may be a constant series of violences, a going forward with rapidity at one time, and at another when hon. Gentlemen opposite are installed in power an irresistible flood of reaction?
I venture to put these tiresome considerations before the House, and I thank hon. Members for their patience. I confess the prospect does not tempt me; it alarms me. The more I look at it, the 88 more I would follow and abide by the two principles laid down by the Government in the King's Speech. The Lords have their uses. Their uses may be greater than some of us yet think. We who sit on this side may—who knows?—have to appeal to the House of Lords, if it still subsists, against the other side; and if it does not subsist, we may regret that it has disappeared. If you deprive the House of Lords of all their powers and of all their importance in the State, you do practically destroy them, for as the great Chancellor Bacon said in his apothegm: "Cocks may be made capons, but capons can never be made cocks." Observe, all this is to be done by law. The very Motion for the allocation of time says that a Bill shall be prepared, embodying the Resolutions. That Bill, I presume, will, indeed it must, be carried through according not to the new but to the present system. It will be subject to the ordinary conditions of Parliamentary life. It will be read here three times, sent up to the Lords, and subject to rejection by the Lords. If indeed they accept it, then it becomes an Act, and all is done. But let the House reflect upon what it is that will have been done. For the first time in the history of this country you will have put or attempted to put your Constitution into an Act of Parliament. You will have attempted to bind up principles salutary, elastic, and always adaptable to the changing needs of the day, in inelastic chains of words—words which are doubtful, words which are often of double construction. Indeed, the most important part of an Act is its construction. Its virtue always lies in its application. For that you must go to the law courts. It is not Parliament, it is not even this House, that finally decides what is the Constitution of this country. It will be the Lord Chief Justice and judges of the King's Bench, construing the narrow words of an Act of Parliament, limiting the Constitution by that which is within the four corners of such words. If you do that for this, you must do it for all. Once begin to put part of your Constitution in an Act of Parliament, you must put it all in. You must have a written Constitution at last, and then you will inevitably be forced to consider of the appointment and creation of some such body as the Supreme Court, which in the United States desides what is the Constitution and what is not. The power of saying what is the Constitution now is in Parliament; and mainly in this House: I would 89 not hand it over to the best judge that sits upon the Bench.
I come with satisfaction to the third Resolution. I say "with satisfaction, "because, in my opinion, it is as right and as politic as the others are in some respects doubtful. The third Resolution is "that it is expedient to limit the duration of Parliament to five years." It is expedient to limit the duration of Parliament, and if I had my way I would say not five years, but three. I remember the Home Secretary when he sat on the other side of the House, and I admired him for it, bringing forward a Triennial Bill.
§ 7.0 P.M.
§ Mr. GIBSON BOWLES
I thought it was a Triennial Bill. Then the right hon. Gentleman has remained faithful to his five years, and I am even more advanced than he. I would go to three years, and thereby revert to the old-established system of the time for Parliaments, which was only changed in the year 1716. The more often you bring the House of Commons, aye and Ministers, to the great open court of the people the less likely it is that either of them will make mistakes, of which both are capable. At present they must come to that court at least every seven years, practically every six. The present proposal will bring them to that court at the shorter interval of five years, and in fact much more often. To reduce the period by two years would be to improve both Lords, and Ministers, and Commons. It would be to bring them more closely into contact with the vivifying spirit of the people themselves, and would, in my belief, very much diminish the dangers of those deadlocks. This third Resolution to my mind is the one that shows the real remedy. In my belief it embodies the remedy which alone will suffice, or, if not alone, added to by some such manifesto as was passed by this House in 1861; some such Resolution, passed by this House alone, declaratory of its rights—a Resolution such as has hitherto been effectual. It was effectual in 1671. It was effectual in 1678. Nay, it was effectual in 1860. The Lords have never formally accepted any of those Resolutions, but they have always silently acquiesced in all three. To my mind that would be a sufficient way of ending this matter. Moreover, observe the advantage of a Resolution passed, a manifesto passed by this 90 House alone. It would leave what an Act of Parliament will not leave, a certain freedom enabling you to deal with unexpected emergencies. See what happens. In 1861 it was intended to put all the Supply of the year into one Bill. Not many years passed before that was found to be impracticable. In 1888 there were two Supply Bills, besides two Money Bills, properly so-called—four at least, all told, instead of the one contemplated. Again, after 1894, when the first Finance Bill so-called was passed, it was found to be impossible to keep the Supply within the year. The South African war supervened in 1900, and in that year you not only had an ordinary Finance Bill, but you were obliged perforce to bring in a War Loan Bill in addition—the Bill whereby you raised £30,000,000. My belief is that a Resolution, such as that of 1861, coupled with the enactment of a Bill in consequence of this third Resolution, would suffice. This would make peace, and permanent peace. Why is it that instead of a course which seems suggested by the King's Speech, instead of constituting and empowering the Lords, we are now debating Resolutions calculated to destroy them, and therewith to-destroy the sovereign authority of Parliament? It is suggested that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Waterford and his followers have dictated this course to the Government; that as a price of their votes for the Budget they have required that the Budget shall be shelved till the Lords are disabled; and that now, if necessary, it shall be shelved until the monarchy is coerced! I do not believe that such a bargain has-been made. I am certain that neither the Prime Minister nor his party would submit to it, nor consent to pay away Parliament or the sovereignty in blackmail. I am sure that he would deny, if need be he would defy, those who propose such a bargain, and, rather than accept it, would go into Opposition for a time, or even into the wilderness for ever. And yet, and yet I the speeches of the hon. and learned Member for Waterford do suggest that there has been pressure—do suggest that there has been menace. I am sorry for it. Subject to the supremacy of this Parliament, but not otherwise, I myself would agree to a Parliament set up in Ireland to deal with Irish affairs. But if that Parliament is only to be set up at the cost of destroying this—never! If to please Home Rulers we are to be called upon to melt up Parliament. Sovereignty and the Monarchy together, Home Rule will get no more help from me.
91 It seems to me that there are violent men on both sides pushing the leaders to desperate courses. On the one side we have the Tariff Reformers led with credit and filial piety by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcestershire (Mr. Austen Chamberlain). They have induced the Lords to reject the Budget, because it side-tracks Tariff Reform, and because to pass it would be the death warrant of that Tariff Reform which they so much admire. These are the words of Lord Lansdowne. On the other side hon. Gentlemen from Ireland, led with great credit and with somewhat less piety by the hon. Member for Waterford, are making the quarrel worse, and egging on the Prime Minister to maintain it. The two leaders are confronted in a desperate and deadly conflict, which, but for their followers, they might have avoided. May I, under these circumstances, suggest the device resorted to by two cornets of horse, who were pushed by their brother officers into a duel which, being fast friends, they hated. They came upon the ground. Whilst the seconds were loading the pistols one of the duellists went up to the other and said, "Look here, old fellow, if you will shoot my second, I will shoot yours."
So now. If, speaking purely in a political sense, the Prime Minister shot the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcestershire, and the Leader of the Opposition shot the hon. Gentleman the Member for Waterford, all would be well. Parliament would be saved. The Budget would be saved. Nobody would go into mourning, unless perhaps the hon. Gentleman the Member for Louth (Mr. T. M. Healy). Failing this blessed result, what is the sequence of events we have to expect? The Lords will certainly reject the Resolutions. They will as certainly reject any Bill founded upon them that may be presented to them. What then? Will the Government accept that affront? Will they take that rebuff? If not, will they resign? That would be new. No Government of modern times has ever resigned because of anything done by the House of Lords. It would be especially new to this Government. It would be like saying to the House of Lords, "You may not kill our Budget, but you may kill us with the greatest of pleasure." If, you are not to resign, what will you do? Will you, as suggested, go to the 92 monarch to make peers. Remember, there must be at least 300 peers. The majority against your Budget in the Lords was 275. Will not the King hesitate? The Prerogative, which turns to blue ichor the red blood of Whips without conscience, and partisans with cash, if not the brightest pearl in the Crown, is, at all events, the most valuable. Will the monarch consent to dissolve it in the vinegar of party strife? I think not What, then? It is suggested opposite that upon that you should go to the country. Do you leally suggest—can you really entertain—the idea of going to the country to support you in a quarrel with the Throne? My fear, my belief, is that the path of these two Resolutions—I always except the third—is one which, to my sorrow, may lead the Government to discredit if not to destruction. If so, it may open a way to that Protection which is the sole political article of faith of hon. Gentlemen opposite, and which, I still firmly believe, would ruin the country. If my humble voice might be heard, I would plead still for compromise and for moderation. Reform both Houses: they both need it. Abolish neither. The day will come when you will want them both. Abolish neither, because if you do abolish one you do undoubtedly destroy the sovereign authority. This Parliament, this sovereign authority which resides in it, are not of yesterday. They have lasted long. They have stood much storm and strife. You did not create them. Do not destroy them. You are not their masters. Yon are but their trustees—trustees for those who now live; aye, and for those who shall come after, to whom it should be your pride, as it is your duty, to hand them over unimpaired.
§ Mr. EUGENE WASON
Throughout the course of this very interesting Debate we have heard a great deal about England, about Ireland, a great deal about the hon. and learned Member for Waterford (Mr. John Redmond), a little about Wales, but we have heard nothing whatever in any shape or form about Scotland. It is because for the time being I have the honour to be the chairman of the Scottish Liberal non-official Members that I venture to say a few words to this House on behalf of Scotland. At the recent General Election, while seats were going down like ninepins in England, while even m gallant little Wales two seats were lost, and over in Ireland two or three, we in Scotland actually went one better than the General 93 Election of 1906. And I venture to say to you here that no part of His Majesty's dominions have suffered more at the hands of another place than have the people of Scotland. In the recent Parliament we had three principal Scottish measures. We had a Scottish Smallholders Bill. We had a Scottish Valuation Bill. We had a House Letting Bill. Each of these three measures in turn was destroyed by the House of Lords. In England there was a Small Holdings Bill sent up, and it was passed. Under the operations of that Act, and through the county councils, I am credibly informed that 72,000 acres have been found for small holdings In England and Wales. In Scotland we had an Act passed in 1892, and the Parish Councils Act in 1894, but we have not been able to pass a Scottish Small Holdings Bill which would have remedied great grievances throughout the length and breadth of Scotland. There is no country that wants land legislation more than Scotland at the present time, and it is owing to the action of the House of Lords that we have been deprived of any legislative benefits, so far as land legislation is concerned. The last act of the House of Lords during the last Session of Parliament, was the destruction of the House Letting Bill for Scotland. I see that an hon. Friend of mine has introduced a similar Bill into this Parliament, and I certainly hope before very long it will become the law of the land.
The right hon. Gentleman the Member for the Edinburgh University (Sir Robert Finlay) in speaking last Thursday, alluded to a speech which had been made by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, to which I would like to call attention, and especially the attention of the Scottish Members of Parliament. The right hon. Gentleman was speaking in reference to a speech which had been made by the Chancellor in the Queen's Hall, and he pointed out that the Chancellor was dealing with the price which would be demanded from the occupier. And the right hon. and learned Gentleman quoted the Chancellor as follows:—That is why, when I introduced the Budget, I naturally thought the first step in land reform was valuation—a fair valuation, an impartial valuation, not a penny less to the landlord than the place is worth, not a penny more than the thing is worth.Then the right hon. and learned Gentleman went on to say:—Everybody agrees with that, and no one agrees with it more cordially than I do, but what I say is this: this is land reform: this is not financial legislation. The Chancellor of the Exchequer pleads guilty to tacking in these sentences.94 I venture to say there is no Gentleman less likely to be guilty of tacking or anything else than the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but he can answer for himself. But we had a Scotch Valuation Bill for this very purpose, and if it had not been defeated by the House of Lords it might never have been necessary to have the Budget in the form in which it was last year, because we should have obtained our object in Scotland by getting at the true valuation of the land, and England, I think, would have been very likely to follow. Scotland has got a special grievance in reference to the House of Lords in the way in which that Assembly has treated our measures which have been passed by overwhelming majorities of the Scottish Members, and so long as the House of Lords remain a3 they are at present it is idle for Scotch Members to come here and put forward the views of their constituents, because whatever we do or whatever we say we shall be overborne in another place.
A great deal has been said about the will of the people, and some people say there has been a great deal of cant talked about it; but when we speak of the will of the people, of course we mean the will of the majority of the people. So far a3 the will of the people of Ireland is concerned, it is absolutely known to every person in this House that the popular desire in Ireland is for Home Rule. I supported that in 1886 and in 1892, and I shall be prepared to support them again when the proper time comes, and I hope it will be soon. Does anyone doubt that the will of the people of Wales is that there should be Disestablishment? And so far as regards the people of Scotland I say two great things are dear to the Scottish hearts, and the first is drastic reform of the land laws. We do not want to take any man's land without paying him his full value; "not one penny more, not one penny less." The majority of the people of Scotland have set their hearts upon land legislation and also upon a measure of temperance reform. I sometimes get hauled over the coals by friendly Scotchmen, who say, "What is the use of Scotchmen coming to Parliament? Why do not you act like the Irishmen and become a separate and independent party? Why do not you act like the Labour, men, and, like the Irish and the Labour, be a thorn in the flesh of whatever Government is in power?" My answer is this: It is absolutely impossible for Scotland to act 95 either as the representatives from Ireland or as the Members of the Labour party act in this House, because in Scotland we are returned as Liberals, and because many of our colleagues occupy high and distinguished office in the Government. The Prime Minister is a representative of a Scotch constituency. I do not think we want to see another independent party in this House. I think we have quite enough of parties when we have the Government and the Opposition and the Irish party and the Labour party. The Scottish Liberal representatives are quite well satisfied to follow the Prime Minister and his Government in support of these Resolutions which we are now discussing. I was reading the other day a speech which was made by Lord Grey in the House of Lords in 1832. We have had many quotations from speeches in this House during this Debate, but I do not think that this quotation has ever been made. Lord Grey said:—I say that it" a majority of this House (the House of Lords) should have power of acting adversely to the Crown and the Commons, and shall determine to exercise that power, without being liable to check or control, the Constitution is completely altered, and the Government of this country is not a limited monarchy —it is no longer the Crown, Lords, and Commons; it is the House of Lords, a separate oligarchy, governing absolutely the other.It is to put an end to that intolerable state of affairs that the Government have put forward these Resolutions. I can assure the Prime Minister and the Government, not of course on behalf of every single Scottish representative, but on behalf of the great bulk of them, that in giving effect to these Resolutions they may count on the loyal and abiding support of the Scottish Liberals.
§ Mr. G. F. BRUNSKILL
I crave the indulgence of the House as an Irish Unionist Member while I make my maiden speech. I happen to have had the good fortune to have been the first Irish Unionist Member called upon to speak in this Debate, and I wish to take an early opportunity of stating as emphatically as the last speaker on behalf of Scottish Liberals did that they were going to support the Government proposals, that the Irish Unionist party are going to offer to them a most uncompromising opposition. The main reason why the Unionists in Ireland are interested in this Debate is because we in Ireland know perfectly well that the whole object on the hon. and learned Member for Waterford (Mr. John Redmond) is not 96 that he objects to the House of Lords because they asked the people of Great Britain and Ireland to pronounce upon the Budget, but because he wishes to seize this opportunity of making a move in the direction of Home Rule. That is at the back of the action of the hon. Member for Water-ford. He is sitting upon the head of the Government, and a very heavy burden the Prime Minister and the Chief Secretary for Ireland find him. He reminds me very much of an Egyptian task-master; he is telling the Liberal party to make bricks and to throw them at the House of Lords.
When the Prime Minister came down to this House on the opening day of the Session and stated that the programme of the Government was the Budget first and Veto afterwards, I always up to that, being an outsider, thought the Prime Minister was a very strong man, a man of adamantine courage; but then he became like putty, and he came down to the House and informed us that he made a mistake the day before, and that it would have to be the Veto first and God help the Budget. The point of view I wish to put before the House is this, that the House of Lords have really protected the Irish people, both Unionists and Nationalists, against the Budget. We in Ireland have no objection whatever to their action in refusing to pass the Budget. There is not a man, woman or child in Ireland, with, perhaps, the exception of the Attorney-General (Mr. Redmond Barry) who is in favour of the Budget.
It is perfectly clear that the House of Lords have never, for any length of time, resisted the will of the people as expressed at the polls. The hon. and learned Member for Waterford, in 1894, wrote a very interesting article to the "Nineteenth Century." At that time he was most anxious to have the people of England and Scotland solid upon the question of Home Rule. Some of the people were advising that the House of Lords should be attacked upon the question of Veto, and the hon. and learned Gentleman wrote this article—it is very a interesting article, considering what took place during this Debate. He said in that article:—What power has the House of Lords in that or any other matter, provided only that the expression of the people's will in Parliament is the result of a clear mandate from the constituencies? It has none: and what is more, the House of Lords has never permanently, or even for a long time, persisted in the exercise of such power of Veto.That being the view of the hon. and learned Member for Waterford, he now asks the House of Commons and the 97 country to engage in a series of elections and revolutions for the purpose of stopping the House of Lords from ever again referring the question of Home Rule to the electors of the United Kingdom. To hear the hon. and learned Member speak in this House, and to read the speeches he delivers in the country, one would imagine that it was a comparatively easy thing to overturn the House of Lords. Whether that is his view now or not I do not know, but in the article which he wrote in 1894 he uses these extraordinary words:—It is positively amazing to read the facile prophecies of early destruction that are hurled at the House of Lords. One would imagine it was one of the easiest things in the world to pull down and destroy, or fundamentally modify, an institution which is almost as old as the English monarchy itself, and which has survived the vicissitudes of centuries and occupies so large a place in the English history. To think such a feat capable of accomplishment within, say, the lifetime of the present generation, is evidence either of childishness or imbecility.After writing those words in the "Nineteenth Century" in a considered article, the hon. Member now demands that the Government should immediately destroy the Veto of the House of Lords. The real object at the back of this demand is that the hon. Gentleman has now changed his tactics. He has come to the conclusion that the people of England are not in favour of Home Rule. The article I have quoted from was written in the year 1894, before the election of 1896, when the action of the House of Lords in throwing out the Home Rule Bill of 1894 was endorsed by an enormous majority of Unionists being returned to this House. The hon. and learned Member does not again wish to face the electors of England on the net issue of Home Rule, and consequently he looks on the House of Lords as the obstacle of his getting Home Rule without having an election or a reference to the people on that particular issue. For this reason he desires to get the Veto destroyed so that Home Rule may be carried in the next Parliament or in some other Parliament after the House of Lords Veto has been destroyed. Consequently the hon. Member's present policy is "Keep Home Rule in the background."
I was much struck when listening to the hon. Member for the Scotland Division of Liverpool that he did not bring Home Rule out into the forefront of his speech at all, although he denounced the House of Lords because they had touched the Budget. It is well known that everyone in Ireland admits that what, the House of Lords did was the best thing that could have happened to Ireland. The Members 98 of the Nationalist party know perfectly well that if they can get the Veto of the House of Lords destroyed by relying on the Budget or some other question, when the first Radical chance majority come into the House of Commons they would be able to demand Home Rule for Ireland, and probably pass it through this House. It is in order to offer opposition to Home Rule that Unionist Members from Ireland are opposing the Resolutions of the Government against the House of Lords. Is the present House of Commons prepared to destroy the Veto of the House of Lords in order to destroy the union between Great Britain and Ireland, because that really is the main object? Is this House prepared to take the first step towards the dismemberment of the British Empire? The revolution we hear so much about is to be worked out by tactics because there is no regular demand in the country amongst the electors for any revolution whatever. Really to see the way the country is taking this Debate in the House of Commons the people do not seem to care two straws about it. The fact of the matter is they know that really there is no substance in it, and the Government are trying to manufacture this revolution by tactics. But it will never succeed. A revolution manufactured by tactics never did succeed, and it will not succeed in this case.
The Prime Minister and the Leader of the Irish Nationalists cannot agree as to the tactics. As a new Member, naturally I feel great diffidence in mentioning the name of the Sovereign in this Debate at all; but it has been introduced by the Home Secretary and by other hon. Members, and on that ground I would like to deal with it. The hon. and learned Member for Waterford has stated in this House and in the country that what he wants the Government to do, if the House of Lords throw out or refuse to pass these Veto Resolutions, is that they should go to the Sovereign for; guarantees, and that the King should be asked to exercise his Prerogative and come to their assistance. I do not know whether the Prime Minister is going to adopt the advice of the hon. Member for Waterford. I rather think he is not. The Home Secretary in his peroration the other day said that it had now become necessary for the Crown and the Commons, acting together, to restore the balance of the, Constitution. Either he infant that the Radical party and the Government in this House had the sanction or sympathy of the Crown in this matter, 99 or else the right hon. Gentleman's statement had no meaning whatever. Notwithstanding that declaration, the hon. and learned Member for Waterford has not jet succeeded in getting the Prime Minister, or anyone eke, to tell the House that the Government intend to ask for those guarantees, which, if the Home Secretary's statement is accurate, the Government believe they will have no difficulty whatever in getting from the Sovereign. The Prime Minister has not yet said that he will ask for those guarantees, although the hon. and learned Member for Waterford promised in his speech at Tipperary that if the Prime Minister will only promise to go to the Sovereign and ask for those guarantees he will give him his Budget and support it with concessions for Ireland. The Unionist party in Ireland, at any rate, are quite satisfied and determined that the House of Lords must remain as it is at present or else there must be a reformed House of Lords. We want a House of Lords which will have the right of vetoing any legislation of the House of Commons, so that Home Rule for Ireland cannot pass by a chance majority in this House without the opinion of the electors being taken as a clear issue at the General Election.
§ Mr. BELLOC
I have to put before the House my own particular view on this subject, and I do so with great diffidence and with some hesitation. I think the view I am about to express ought to be voiced by some one. I stand for a working class constituency, if there is one in this country, and I feel upon this question very seriously On the general lines of the Debate there is very little that a Radical can add to what has already been said by the hon. and learned Member for Waterford. What he said was expressed from the particular point of view of the Irish Members, and undoubtedly their object is to obtain what they have rightly and justly desired to obtain so long, namely, Home Rule, and that is an object which has the heartiest sympathy of all those sitting on this side of the House. Nevertheless, the general arguments which the hon. and learned Member put forward were precisely those which all Radicals desired to hear, and there is very little to add. The only point I might add is the economic one.
Let me first of all deal with what has been spoken a good deal of in these Debates, namely, the question of why re- 100 form was not dealt with before dealing with the Veto as a whole? The plain answer to that point is that it is a question of mechanics. You cannot deal with the House of Lords at all until you have limited the Veto. Until you know how the non-representative House will accept the decisions of the representative Chamber, no reform is possible save from within the House of Lords itself, and that is a thing that neither this House nor the country will accept. It is a mere question of mechanics Apart from that view, if the question of a reform of the House of Lords had been put forward before the general question of the Veto, it would have been taken to mean that you were trying to dish the Radical mind in order to get rid of this question by a side issue. That was why a large majority of the Radical party insisted upon the Veto first and reform afterwards. Anyone who has any acquaintance with the subject knows that there will be reform later. At least, that is my opinion, but to take reform first would be mechanically impossible, and would simply have meant the policy of shelving the thing.
Many hon. Members who have joined in this Debate have expressed a great terror of one-Chamber Government. Surely they know there never has been any other form of government in the history of the world where deliberative assemblies have existed. Second Chambers have existed as a check, but they are not the only form of check. Wherever you have an authority in the State, that authority must be checked somehow, for fear it should get too widely divergent from the people whom it has to rule. All that a Second Chamber has ever done—and the existence of a Second Chamber in this country as a check is a mere historic accident—is to gain time, to suspend. The question whether the two years that are mentioned in these Resolutions are sufficient for that purpose of suspension is to be discussed in Committee. It is not a subject for discussion in. this, which is practically a Second Reading Debate. All that a Second Chamber can do with advantage to the State is to suspend. You cannot conceive a Constitution working, as in theory it should work, with two absolutely equal Chambers, each initiating Bills and each with an absolute and permanent Veto. Such a thing would be impossible, and it has been quite unknown in the past. The nearest we have ever got to it in the constitutional history of this country was when the Lords threw out the Budget the 101 other day. That was the nearest we ever got to an assertion of absolute equality between the two deliberative assemblies.
There is one thing which every reformer in the matter ought to admit, if he wants to do his duty by the country, his constituents, or to his own conscience. He ought to admit that in tackling a question of this gravity and magnitude he should proceed with a good deal of hesitation. I think very little of any man who, having heard what are the traditions and memories of the English people, will yet lightly advance in a matter of this sort. It is different with a foreigner. It would not matter a snap of the finger to an Irishman what we do with our Constitution, but for us it is not so. When you are dealing with very ancient things, -even if they have become—which the House of Lords has not—something held up to ridicule in the State, you hesitate to attack, to change, and to destroy them, if those things are bound up with the fibre of your national history. There are many cases in general history, and none more frequent than in the history of the English nation, where people have determined to pull up something or many things by the roots, thinking such a revolution a lesser evil than the evils consequent upon an evil already there. But that has never been done by the most violent or by the most doctrinaire without a good deal of hesitation. If anybody thinks this is rather too weighty a way of talking about the antiquity of the House of Lords and of our Constitution, and the respect we should feel for that antiquity, I must excuse it in this way. I do not believe these Debates to be academic or futile. Many men, including perhaps some who initiated them, wanted them to be academic and futile; but in the very nature of this question, the moment we began them we were inevitably out to do great things. It has indeed become impossible not to do them in the circumstances of the present deadlock. I suppose the mere fact that the other day in the House of Lords only seventeen men could be found to vote for a principle which for centuries has been regarded as something sacred, shows us that the Debates upon which we have entered, whether certain newspapers like it or not, and whether certain Members like it or not, are going to end in some considerable change in the Constitution of the country. That is why I have spoken on the matter with such gravity
. The second consideration which makes one hesitate is the argument brought for- 102 ward in the House of Lords by the Marquess of Salisbury and by his younger brother the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University (Lord Hugh Cecil) in this House. They spoke of the weakness of the Houses of Commons all over the modern world. The inherited party system, with all its absurdities, still survives, and there is always more room for advocacy than for the play of cautious and reasoned opinion. In a hundred ways it is perfectly clear the representative Chambers of Europe are suspected and ridiculed even by their electorates who create them. This House suffers in a very high degree from that disease which has fallen upon all representative institutions. Not on that account can any man who cares for civil freedom regard representative institutions as having had their day. The House of Commons is not a place in which to tell a story, and, perhaps, it is too patriotic a place in which to tell a story the scene of which is beyond the seas and not within the Empire. Nevertheless, it is true that when I was a boy at Nord, in 1889, I heard a number of priests of various ages denouncing the French Republic, and especially the representative system under which it was governed; and at the end of the conversation a very old priest, who could remember the first Napoleon, clinched the whole thing by saying, "Were we to lose liberal institutions for good, we should regret it." I take it that when men are living under liberal institutions and are possessed of a representative system, working even as badly as ours, they see its faults too plainly, but it has very powerful salt-like saving qualities as well. The whole thing takes place in the open, and is reported and read. That is of immense value, and of far greater value still is the fact that we have to go back to our constituents and explain, apologise for, and wriggle out as best we can the inconsistencies of the representative system in this House. The very fact that we have to face them continually keeps the place much cleaner than the critics of modern politics sometimes imagine. However much the Representative House may fail to carry out its representative mission, it can be changed. Every piece of satire, every piece of honest rhetoric, and every expression of opinion outside helps to form that change. It has been changed in the past, and it may change again in the future. You cannot change the recoupment of the House of Lords in the nature of things unless you change the whole method of the creation 103 of peers. You may reform the House of Lords, but you cannot make it representative without making it too much a copy of this House.
The moment would not have come to tamper with a great constitutional point and for a change in an important part of the constitutional machine were there not a larger reason. It was of that larger reason that I rose to speak. It will occupy but a very few moments at the end of my speech. We have drifted into a state of society where the means of production are in the hands of a very small class, and where the mass of free citizens are not possessed of them, but are the proletariat. We have drifted into that state of society in which the mass of freemen who vote, who are citizens, and who help in the making of and in the administration of our laws, own neither capital nor land. That state of affairs has never permanently existed, and I think one can say confidently can never permanently exist in any free State. The great problem of our time is to change the present economic system and replace it by more stable and better economic conditions. An hon. Member who, speaking from the opposite side of the House on Thursday, said that the politics of the future would be economic politics was talking very sound sense indeed. There are three things we may end in. We may end in a servile state. The capital and land-owning class of the modern world, and especially of modern England, may prevent the vast majority from getting at the means of production, though they may admit all manner of rules restricting that and this, making hours of labour easier and so forth; and, if they do so; we shall sink into a servile state in which there will be two distinct classes—one the free citizens and one more or less unfree. That would inevitably be the case were we to maintain the present unjust conditions. If we attempt an economic revolution, and that is what all reformers want and think necessary in the modern world, it will have to be financial. We shall not confiscate. There is hardly anybody left so young as to believe we shall fee able to do that. There must undoubtedly, if political reform is to continue, be in the near future an economic reform accompanied by great financial operations, and somebody will have to pay the piper for those financial operations. Somebody will have to pay the interest on the great new loans, and somebody will have to 104 stand the economic strain of the transition from the present economic state to the new economic state. Who is to pay that? If the wealthier classes find the strain too much for them, and if through what is virtually their committee, the Second House, they begin a series of quarrels against the democratic Budgets of the near future, then economic reform is done for.
That is the momentous nature of the throwing out of this Budget by the House of Lords. The House of Lords said, with perfect justice, that it contained proposals which had never appeared in any English Budget before, but the Budgets in the near future will have to contain proposals of that sort. If they can delay that change, if they can put a spoke into the wheel continually, it is the nature of an electorate consisting of many millions, of an electorate confused by hundreds of issues, it is the nature of the way in which advocacy is used one one side or another, that these perpetual delays will be tantamount to an absolute veto, and a perpetual hindrance of reform. It is because, I believe, it is so essentially necessary to have that economic revolution in the near future a peaceful and efficient one, because I see clearly, as every man of sense must see, that the difficulty will be the financing of it, because I see it will never be financed unless heavy taxes are tolerated, and because I see the Upper Chamber no matter how reformed, will tend to be a committee of the wealthier classes, I would not give a permanent but only a suspensory veto, and, consequently, I shall vote for the Resolution before the House.
§ Mr. NORMAN CRAIG
I, too, am one serving a Parliamentary novitiate, but I may recommend myself to one section of the House, the section following the hon. Member for Blackfriars (Mr. Barnes), by stating at once that I am neither a brewer nor a landlord, nor a scion of the peerage. One recognises in the speech just delivered by the hon. Member for South Salford (Mr. Belloc) real earnestness, but it is an earnestness for economic change and reform, and for change of a totally different character from that which the Resolutions contemplate. Speaking for myself, I may fairly say that the thing that affects one, arrests one, and even amazes one about the whole tone of this Debate is its utter unreality. We are told that circumstances have arisen which demand revolutionary methods. Some revolutions are bloodless, 105 but whether this is bloodless revolution or not, no one who has taken part day by day in the proceedings of this House can doubt that it is very unreal. It is called a revolution. Usually a revolution proceeds from below, but this revolution has been engineered entirely from above. A revolution which takes its normal course should begin with inarticulate murmurs increasing in volume and intensity, and ultimately growing into a popular tempest. Are there any evidences of that here? The only symptom of eruption we have here is what is known in another country as a great deal of hot air, and I am contributing to that in the hope it may be realised that hot air so breathed does not constitute a popular demand. Etna has been belching forth its lava. What is the political Etna in this country to-day? You have got possibly twelve craters. You have a Cabinet Minister sitting at the top of each and shouting down to the people to belch. That is your political eruption, and, probably the only reason that their behests are not followed is that the people who sit on this side of the House do not fear intimidation. Let us ask ourselves whether to-day the people are really asking for the changes which the Government are putting forward? Do the people really want what is being demanded in their name? I, for one, would like to register my protest against the increasing frequency with which "the will of the people" is being made a cant phrase in the course of Debate. We have below the Gangway on this side of the House people who, at any rate, are frank, treating their votes as merchandise. On the other side of the House we have people who believe, and honestly believe that, in whatever matter happens to come before the House, they are the inspired vehicles of the will of the people. The least that can be said of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who occupy the benches opposite is that they have no ulterior purpose to serve, no idealistic notion about their own function. They are made the vehicles of this revolution. They are the people who are to say: "In the people's name we demand these changes, and in the people's name we demand the abolition of the Veto of the House of Lords."
I should like to make one observation in reference to what fell from the hon. and learned Member for Walthamstow (Mr. Simon), who took an extraordinary course in defending these Resolutions. He said, in effect, "I appeal to the past. Take the University Tests Act, the Ballot Act, the 106 Army Purchase Act as matters which justify this attack on the Lords." He not only did that, but he put aside everything modern, everything provocative of modern feeling. His argument amounts to this. These Resolutions are demanded: by whom? By the people, because the people did not long ago get things which they have long had and have long forgotten— things as to which not a single elector in a single constituency can have any feeling for whatsoever. Yet because of what the House of Lords did many years ago these Resolutions are demanded to-day. Why did he adopt that attitude? He says the people call for these changes, not because of controversies in being, but because of ancient controversies; not because we are concerned with controversies calculated to provoke feeling, but, in the name of the people, we demand them because of controversies in the past. It is easy to see why he adopted that attitude. It was for the obvious reason that if he approached modern methods, if he dealt with things provocative of modern feeling, he would be face to face with the fact that his argument would break down and that the Resolutions would not prove to be the outcome of any modern demand or any modern feeling or any modern controversy. The truth is, the hon. and learned Member deliberately put aside the cause of the present feeling, namely, the present controversy. He deliberately adopted ancient history as justification for the Resolutions simply because he could not justify them by the present state of feeling or by anything which the House of Lord? has done. The Government in this matter are merely electioneering; they are not talking to us; they are talking to the country, because they recognise that very soon they will be in the country, and the passions which they profess are passions which are not intended to influence votes or to catch support here. The Government are frankly electioneering in this House; they are talking to the country; they are trying to commend to the country their future projects. They seek to blind the country again, as they have done in the past, by calling the attention of the people to things in which the people are profoundly interested, but they are not addressing the people or themselves to any great matters of reform. That, as I read it, is the position, and, in supporting this Amendment, let me say, in the words of the Prime Minister what I conceive to be the real need for an effective Second Chamber. The Prime Minister, in moving 107 a Resolution, pub a hypothetical case. I would ask hon. Members opposite if a hypothetical case is in their modern experience impossible? Certainly on this side of the House it will not be thought to be impossible. The Prime Minister said:—Supposing you have a House of Commons which, as the General Election shortly afterwards showed, completely perverted and misrepresented the mind of, the nation. Suppose you had that House passing by large majorities a measure which approved themselves to its Members for the time being but which are condemned by the great bulk of the nation. Suppose you had a sham or dormant revising Chamber at the other end of the corridor.What then? Make that supposition! It is a supposition that you do not adequately represent the will of the people. It is a supposition that you, being returned on a particular issue, may express on another issue an opinion which is profoundly different from that which is believed to be the opinion of the people. It supposes, further, that after the revision which you are contemplating there may be a dormant and sham Chamber at the other end of the corridor. What does the Prime Minister say? He says it shows you must have something—for instance, a Referendum— to protect you against the contingency contemplated by this hypothesis. The hypothesis put by the Prime Minister in his argument contains the supposition that you can have a House which thinks it represents the will of the people, but does not. It is a Government returned upon one issue, and has no mandate for misinterpreting the mind of the people in reference to that issue. It is because you are seeking to get a dormant and sham Chamber that I say the words of the Prime Minister are words which justify my position and the position of those who think with me, that the Amendment is one we are justified in supporting. I will put one other question even at the risk of tiring hon. Members opposite. Suppose you have, as you have to-day, a coalition Government, a Government of factions. Suppose these factions are a heterogeneous collection of factions held together by the common hope that some day concession may be compelled. Suppose you get the factions making the demand at some convenient time. Do you think the ultimate result of their parleyings, their comings and goings, reflect the will of the people? Do you think it does not prove the strict necessity for some Second Chamber with real power? You have evidence of it to-day. We know that in the matter of Home Rule, and that in the matter of the Budget, the will of 108 the people as expressed by representation is against either. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no."] Hon. Members on the Ministerial side say "No, no," but facts speak for themselves. The Division to-night will not tell, and let me say that where you have a coalition Government and there are goings and comings and negotiations, it is possible that votes are bought and sold for concessions, and it is possible that those votes are bought and sold for concessions under threats of secession, and it is just because such a thing is possible in a Coalition Government that I tell hon. Members that you do not get on any straight issue the will of the people, but you get the aggregate result of compromise amongst different demands. Take the case of Home Rule. While the House of Lords reject it, the hon. and learned Member for Waterford (Mr. John Redmond) himself says that the House of Lords in doing that has endorsed all the people did at the election. The hon. and learned Member for Waterford distinctly said that. Take the case of the Education Bill. It was amended in various important respects, but torn up by the Government in a pet, but the same Government in a later Session reintroduced it embodying the Amendments of the House of Lords. The hon. Member for Walthamstow (Mr. Simon) has avowed that that is the true function of the House of Lords, and the House of Commons adopted the Amendments of the Upper Chamber. There you have Home Rule and Education, two of your great grievances against the House of Lords in modern times.
For my part I believe the people are not interested in ancient history such as that in regard to the university test; but take your Licensing Bill which has been alluded to in the course of this Debate on the other side of the House as not being a very popular measure. It certainly was not a measure on which the Government took issue with us in the country. It is not a measure which they introduce into this House to-day, and yet they make that the occasion for an attack upon the House of Lords. The only other occasion is that of the Budget. I will not say again what has been said so often, but you went to the country 300 odd strong of a majority in favour of the Government. The country spoke, and you came back with the announcement that you were going to bring in your Budget again and take issue upon it. You came back, broken and beaten. You cannot produce your Budget. Your Budget is not here; we have not seen it 109 yet, and, so far as it is possible to ascertain, the people spoke against it. In 1906 you had your majority of 300; in 1910 when the people had seen your Budget and had heard you, they were so far in favour of what the House of Lords did that they wrote your majority down by more than 50 per cent. Those are the four modern grievances against the House of Lords, and I say, as regards the whole of them, that House is justified. As regards two of them it is justified by the statements of Members of the Government and Members who think with them; and, as to the other two, justified by the action of the Government in not reintroducing those measures. That is why I say there is no reality in this measure, and that is why I, for my part, shall support this Amendment. The country does not want these changes or an ineffective Second Chamber. You may think, I doubt not you do, that you reflect accurately the will of the people, but, if I am not mistaken, when the people express their will again, if you take a broad issue on an effective Second Chamber, they heartily will show this time, as at the last election, that you are not quite so accurate as you think in reflecting to adopt your cant phrase, "The will of the people."
§ Mr. A. M. ANDERSON
When a new Member rises to address the House for the first time, as I am doing now, and when he is making his first speech, as I am going to attempt to do, he is not expected to offer a very elaborate contribution to the Debate. Accordingly, in the short statement with which I am going to trouble the House, I propose to confine myself to general statements and illustrative examples, rather than attempt anything in the line of close reasoning. Of course, at the present stage it is right to keep in mind that we are concerned merely with a matter of procedure, although most of the speeches which have been delivered in the House have gone very deeply into the merits of the great Question which will be considered in Committee. But even dealing with the matter solely as one of procedure, I think it is necesary that we should consider two questions. The first is, why the Prime Minister has thought fit to lay these Resolutions on the Table, and the second is, if we find there is a mischief calling for a remedy, whether the remedy suggested by the Prime Minister is the appropriate one. I propose to consider these two points shortly. 110 With regard to the first, namely, the reason which has induced the Prime Minister at this time to put these Resolutions upon the Table, I think there is a very short answer. We on this side of the House are dissatisfied with the action of the House of Lords when a Liberal Government is in power, and its inaction when the Conservative party is in office. We accordingly think that the constitutional mechanism is out of gear, so far as the House of Lords is concerned, and that some remedy is necessary. I will trouble the House with an example of the differential treatment which the House of Lords accords to a Conservative measure and to a Liberal measure, and I will refer to what occurred in the nineties. In the year 1893 the present Prime Minister, who was then Home Secretary, proposed a measure which was to deal with the question of compensation to injured workmen. It must now be conceded that that was an admirable measure, because every one of the proposals which the Home Secretary then made has been passed into law. Indeed we have gone beyond the modest proposals that he then made, but the House of Lords when that measure was sent up to them proposed what the hon. Member for the Walton Division (Mt. F. E. Smith) referred to the other day as "fundamental" amendments and wrecked the measure. Four years passed and 1897 arrived. The Conservative Party was in power, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Joseph Chamberlain) took up the question. He practically took the Home Secretary's measure, excising some of the best portions of it, and it was accepted by the House of Lords. That shows the different mode in which the House of Lords treats practically the same measure when it is sent up by a Liberal Government compared with what it does when it is sent up by the Conservative party.
The Noble Lord (Lord Hugh Cecil) says this question of the relationship of the two Houses ought not to be treated from a party point of view. That is a very admirable sentiment to come from those benches, because Gentlemen on the other side never suffer from the treatment of the House of Lords, but they can hardly expect that we on this side who have suffered so much should assent to that sentiment. It is not merely, or even mainly, a party question. It is a national question, because the public will is paralysed when we are in power, and it is libertine when the Conservatives are in office. We have 111 heard in this Debate this state of matters described by the term "deadlock," and hon. Gentlemen opposite have denied that a deadlock exists. If they are merely quarrelling with the use of the term "deadlock," that is verbal criticism which does not carry us very far. It is enough for me if what we mean by that term is clearly before the House. We do not mean this, that, or the other particular measure, we mean the whole course of conduct which has culminated in the action of the House of Lords in the last Parliament. The hon. and learned Gentleman who spoke last said an hon. and learned Member speaking on this side went into ancient history, but if you are considering the record of the House of Lords, and, bringing it down to date, you must consider those measures which they delayed for years before they tardily assented to them. You may take into account whatever course of reform you choose, political, social, industrial, religious, or educational, and you will find the same thing, that the House of Lords has only, after a lapse of years, accorded a tardy assent to these proposals. But I am quite in agreement with what the hon. and learned Gentleman said that the immediate causes of the procedure which we are now considering was the action of the House of Lords in connection with the three great measures put forward by the Liberal Government during the last Parliament—the Education Bill, the Licensing Bill, and the Budget. It is vain to ask, as the last speaker did, whether the Education measure would go through this House, or whether the House would pass the Licensing Bill. That is clearly irrelevant, because this House was not elected to consider one or other of those questions The question with regard to these two great measures, which are still in suspense, is what will the country do when it is asked to deal with them. I concede that the hon. Gentleman was on stronger ground when he adverted to the Budget, and we have heard Members opposite ask, "Where is your Budget? Why do you not trot out your Budget? Would this House pass the Budget?" Their curiosity will soon be gratified, and when we go into the Division Lobbies upon the Budget the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. F. E. Smith) may get a very great surprise.
We have also been asked to frame our indictment and to formulate our charges with reference to the House of Lords. The proper place for an indictment is prior to 112 trial, and not after condemnation, and I understood that the indictment was framed and the charges were made during the last election, and that the country, as the jury in the case, returned its verdict, and the only question now is as to the sentence. As to the charges against the peers, the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. John Redmond) and hon. Gentlemen opposite have told the House how Ireland stood with reference to the action of the House of Lords. An hon. Member for Wales, giving his opinion and translating it into our language for our benefit, told us how that gallant little country had suffered from the action of the peers. I was very glad that the right hon. Gentleman who presides over the Scotch Liberal Members voiced the case of Scotland for the first time. The case of Scotland called for voicing as much as the other two countries. I have always regarded Scotland as the Cinderella of the four nations in these islands. Scotland obtains very slight countenance from the fairy godmother, the Treasury. It very seldom gets any treat, and then only after efforts made by those who come here from that country, and I was glad that the right hon. Gentleman who spoke on behalf of Scotland drew attention to the measures affecting Scotland which were destroyed during the last Parliament. The Small Land Holders Bill especially was a measure upon which the hearts of the Scottish people are strongly set, and it was a grievous disappointment to them, who get so little, haying got that measure from this House to have it rejected by the House of Lords.
Accordingly, it seems to me that there is an evil to be remedied. The next point is whether the remedy suggested is the proper one. I think it is common ground that the House recognises that there is a mischief, because we have had all sorts of remedies suggested. We have been referred to Prussia and to Spain, and the Noble Lord (Lord Hugh Cecil) suggested an olla podrida of a Second Chamber consisting of an amalgam of hereditary Peers, Nonconformist ministers and ex-Proconsuls. Accordingly, even by the admission of the other side, there is something rotten in the State of Denmark at the other end of the passage, and some remedy is desiderated. My proposition is that the remedy suggested by the Prime Minister is the proper remedy. There are two branches— the case of Money Bills and ordinary Bills. As to Money Bills, we are simply declaring the law to be what it has been for centuries until last year, because never until last 113 year did the House of Lords throw cut the whole of the financial proposals which the Government had made for carrying on the national services. In 1860 the House of Lords did lay unholy hands upon a financial proposal, but last year the House of Lords for the first time rejectedin toto the financial proposals of the Government. We have had a very pretty legal Debate, but although I am a lawyer myself I am not concerned much with the legal view of the question. It may be that the House of Lords by strict constitutional law have a theoretical right to do this evil deed. I am rather of the view expressed by hon. Gentlemen from this side of the House that they have not, even on the strict construction of constitutional law, the right to reject the whole financial proposals of the Government. But, be that as it may, as a plain practical man my position is that if they have that right the sooner they are deprived of it the better, looking to the mischief they did by their action of last year. Hon. Members opposite have, to my surprise, expressed great distrust of the people. The hon. and learned Member (Mr. Cave) said that if the House of Lords are deprived of their Veto with reference to Money Bills on matters of finance we will be under the heel of the Commons. That is rather a startling way of putting it from the point of view of a Member of this House. Money matters have been in the hands of the Commons for centuries, and I for one am prepared to let them remain there. The heel of the Commons is a somewhat unfortunate metaphor to use, because it almost compels one to think antithetically of the toe of the Lords which has been applied so summarily and vigorously to so many measures sent up from the popular Chamber. I prefer the heel of the Commons to the toe of the Lords.
With regard to the second Resolution, that is a proposed alteration of our present system, but it is only to the effect that the will of the Commons with regard to ordinary legislation is to be made predominant, and that only after a period has elapsed during which the proposals may be fairly and fully criticised by the people, and if they express disapproval of those measures undoubtedly their wishes would be given effect to in this House. The Leader of the Opposition adopted what is a very familiar course to those of us who practice in the jury courts with certain kinds of cases. We heard from the right hon Gentleman of the case being "laughed out of court," or of an attempt 114 to do that. That method in a jury court is applied to two kinds of cases. It is applied to the case which is absolutely spurious and bottomless. I do not think anyone will say this is a case of that character. In the second place, counsel sometimes deal with a case which they cannot answer by trying to laugh it out of court. I think that is the case we have here. There was a lull in the right hon. Gentleman's speech when he abandoned that air of banter which we all admire so much, and, turning to the benches behind him, said he demurred to the term "Progressive" being claimed exclusively by the party on this side of the House. It seems to me that when the right hon. Gentleman made that break in the course of his speech, he had one eye on his followers in this House, and the other eye on the constituencies. It was a sort of Codlin and Short interlude He seemed to say, "You have here the real Codlin, have nothing to do with that fellow Short. We are the real Progressives, and we are determined to carry out great measures of social reform." If the right hon. Gentleman and his followers are really serious in the matter of social reform, if they mean by that what we mean, it is their bounden duty to support the Government in connection with these Resolutions, because I think it is absolutely clear, and can be demonstrated from history, that the House of Lords is an unsuitable instrument in any attempt at Progressive legislation. Consequently, they are in this dilemma. If hon. Gentlemen opposite support the House of Lords they cannot be in earnest in saying that they are anxious for social reform, because the House of Lords is quite an unfit instrument in the matter of social reform.
We have heard a great deal about the constitution of the Second Chamber. A speech was delivered early in the Debate on that matter by an hon. Member, who took three points. His first point was that he was a Second Chamber man. So do all of us say on both sides of the House. His next point was that he wants to see the hereditary principle done away with. So do many of us, but I would point out that the noble lords are endeavouring to pass a self-denying ordinance, and to limit the number of hereditary peers. His third point was, "You are going the wrong way about this matter. You are putting the cart before the horse, and you ought to reform the House of Lords before you proceed to say what are to be its powers." I demur to that. When you decide to erect 115 a building you do not start the building before you have determined the purpose for which it is to be used. Consequently, we are on the right line here, whether the hereditary principle is to continue or whether the Second Chamber is to be elective. I say that we must first make certain that the House of Commons is to be supreme in Money Bills, and, secondly, that it is to be predominant in matters of general legislation. A great deal has been said by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House to the effect that our proposals spell single-Chamber government. I think most of those hon. and right hon. Gentlemen have assumed the point. They have begged the question. They do not seem to be able to distinguish between a restricted Veto and no Veto at all, and therefore they argue in favour of the maintenance of the absolute Veto, ignoring the fact that if you make the House of Lords supreme in money matters you enable it to compel a dissolution whenever it chooses. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for St. George's, Hanover Square (Mr. Lyttelton) said:—Oh, but we desire that this power of the House of Lords should only he exercised in an emergency.Who is to be the judge of an emergency? Not this House, and not you, Sir. The House of Lords is to be the judge of an emergency, and this emergency will come when taxes are to be imposed which affect their pockets. For these reasons I will support the Resolutions before the House.
In addressing the House for the first time, as I do with great diffidence, I am sure the House will extend to me the indulgence it always does in such cases. What strikes one very forcibly in hearing this Debate is how very inconsistent with the policy put forward by the opposite party at the General Election is this Resolution which the Government now propose. At the General Election a majority of hon. Gentlemen opposite, if we except the Members of the Labour party and a few others on the other side, professed themselves to be in favour of double-Chamber government. They professed to believe that a Second Chamber was necessary to revise hasty legislation, to enable ill-considered measures to be referred eventually to the people, and to give time for ill-considered measures to be further discussed before being finally passed into law. One great objection they seemed to make to the House of Lords was that it 116 was constituted in a manner that made this revision in a just and unbiassed way impossible. They stated that owing to the hereditary character of the House of Lords and the fact that it was recruited mainly from a single class, it could not exercise the powers of a Second Chamber impartially and justly. Those who took part in the recent election will remember how our walls and hoardings were defaced with coronated peers and titled aristocrats in all sorts of unlucky attitudes and uttering every sort of ungracious sentiment.
Everything was done to make it seem that it was the composition and the character of the Members of the House of Lords that made them unfit to exercise their duty as a revising chamber. The obvious exaggerations of the General Election we did not find it particularly hard to refute, but Unionists, I think I may say, were ready to learn even from our political opponents, and we agreed, and I think almost every one in this House said as much to his constituents, that there were elements in the composition of the House of Lords which we should like to see changed. I venture to say that almost every Unionist candidate and every Unionist Member now sitting in this House made some statement of that kind to his constituents.
When we come to this House we expect to find that hon. Members opposite will still be anxious to change the composition of the other House, even more anxious perhaps than to curtail its power. But we find the Government have introduced Resolutions which satisfy the existence of a Second Chamber, in which they profess to believe, and at the same time perpetuate that hereditary system without change which they profess to dislike and despise. I think we are justified in saying that those vague projects of reform in the future are not really within the sphere of practical politics. They are merely put forward as a sop to those who do not wish altogether to give up their pledges to support the Upper Chamber system. What this House has to decide here and now is how we are going to construct the Second Chamber which shall have all these desirable qualities that hon. Members on both sides desire to see and at the same time alter the composition of that House. I was very much surprised to hear the right hon. Gentleman the Chief Secretary for Ireland make a remark which was almost laudatory of the hereditary principle, and 117 I was still more surprised to hear him say that if it rested with him he should prefer a Master of Foxhounds as a Member of another place to an ex-Colonial Governor of New Zealand. I do not know whether he had anyone specially in his mind. It was still more remarkable perhaps to find the Hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. J. R. Macdonald) re-echoing that sentiment of admiration of the Master of Foxhounds, and saying that he should prefer him to an ex-Governor of India. It seems very curious that a leading Member of the Government and a leading Member of the Labour Party should both endorse this sentiment. I should certainly be the last myself to make little of the qualities required for a good Master of Foxhounds. If he is worth his place, he has certainly got to be a man who can both ride straight and hunt his country well. These are not all his main accomplishments. He also has got to be to a certain extent a leader of men, able to exercise qualities of leadership, tact, and discretion in such a way as shall carry the people of the hunt along with him. If he does not do that, he will very soon find his subscriptions greatly reduced. But when we are told that right hon. Members prefer, broadly speaking, the man who possesses all the virtues—and they are many—of the English country gentleman in a revising chamber to a man who in various climates has gained a wide experience of government and has had experience of many classes of mankind of different races, and has been brought into contact with many varying social questions, it is very difficult for us to believe that hon. gentlemen opposite are sincere in their desire to see the character of the House of Lords altered.
I can only draw two conclusions from it. One is that a class of mind represented by the ex-Governor of India and by the ex-Governor of the Colonies is one that is specially apt to criticise, and criticise very severely the somewhat crude legislative measures that sometimes appear from hon. Members of the Radical party and the equally crude measures of social regeneration that come from the Members of the Labour party. The other thing that we may conclude is that they are not really sincere in their wish for reform of the House of Lords, and that all that they are interested in is to cripple its power. We have been told by hon. Members opposite that these Resolutions will not cripple the powers of the Upper House for good, but will enable 118 them to exercise all powers that are necessary for the benefit of the country. I do not think that this position can be maintained, because at the present time the rights of the House of Lords to place the Veto on legislation coming from this. House are undefined, and because they are undefined they are rarely exercised, and only exercised under a sense of grave responsibility. But if you give to the other House, by whatever name it is called, a statutory right to hang up any measures for two years, surely they will be more than human if they do not exercise that right very much more frequently than they exercise the Veto at the present time. By this proposal you not only permit them, but you almost actually invite them to delay any measure which they may feel an inclination to resist, whether or not that measure commands any great amount of popular sympathy; because they will say, and say rightly, "We have got a statutory right to do this, and no one can blame us for exercising it." Therefore I think in this matter you are not likely to diminish friction between the two Houses of Parliament, but you are rather likely to increase it. You increase the power of fractious interruption of one House by the other, but at the same time you take away from this new Upper House the power of appealing to the people on any great momentous question of public policy.
It has been said that the financial aspect of these Resolutions is a still more pressing one than that regarding ordinary legislation, and that the financial supremacy of the House of Commons must be maintained. I venture to say that the financial supremacy of the House of Commons has never been threatened for a single moment, and if it had been there is not a Member of this House on either side of it who would not rise in its defence. Everyone knows perfectly well that this House has the power of initiating and amending Money Bills, which is not claimed now even by the most ardent advocates of the other House. Whatever may have been the case in the past, at the present time no one claims for the House of Lords, and they do not claim for themselves, the right either to initiate or to amend Money Bills. But if you take away from them the right of rejecting a Money Bill, even on the gravest occasions, you really take away from them the right of influencing legislation altogether, because, as we have gathered in the Debates that have taken place on the Licensing Bill 119 and on the Budget, and from what has fallen from hon. Members opposite during the current Debate, there will be a great deal of legislation purely by means of finance. Therefore if you take away absolutely the right of the House of Lords to deal with financial measures you will in a great measure take away from them the power of all legislative action whatever. It is quite true that their dealing with finance ought to be very carefully exercised, but it is quite another thing to take it away entirely. We do not see on this side of the House that there is any need for reasserting in this matter what is called the supremacy of the people's will, because that supremacy has never been questioned. What really will take place will be that it will establish the supremacy of any Cabinet, which commands for the time a majority in this House, not only over the House of Commons itself, but over the whole machinery of the Government of the country and every branch of the Legislature. Finally, I would like to say that I vote against these proposals for many reasons, but mainly for three. First, they give no adequate solution of the difficulties now existing between the two Houses; second, they give no guarantee for the reform of the House of Lords, or the Upper Chamber, or whatever be its name, and, third, they give no guarantee for the continued existence of an effective Second Chamber at all.
§ 9.0 P.M.
In the very few moments I shall intrude in this Debate, I do not intend to follow the course which has been pursued by many Members who have hitherto taken part in it, more especially on this side of the House, of endeavouring to make out a case for the action of the Government in discussing this subject at the present time. The question of whether or not the House of Lords has got to be radically dealt with, is a question of yesterday. The question of to-day is in what manner the House of Lords is to be dealt with. We are now all anti-Lords men, and therefore we are all devoting our minds to considering what the best line of action ought to be. The Lords themselves have pleaded guilty at the bar of public judgment to the charges which we brought against them at the last election, and which the country endorsed. The Opposition in bringing forward their Amendment imply by that Amendment that our case, made out and endorsed at the last General Election, was 120 fully justified. We have many proposals before us, some more drastic than others. We have from some quarters the suggestion of capital punishment, which finds a very great deal of evidence in its favour. Another suggestion is that the sentence ought to be political servitude for life, and that also appeals to my sympathy very much. Then we have the proposal of the Government, which is different from either of the other suggestions, namely, that the Lords should be kept under restraint. The Government policy is the policy of the padded room, under which the Lords would be unable in future either to do any injury to their own interests or to the general interest. I confess, from that point of view, I am favourable to the proposal of the Government. All I want to be sure of, and without any doubt whatever, is whether or not there is going to be any act of clemency on the part of the present Government. I confess I heard with some surprise indications that some act of clemency might be expected at a date not yet fixed, and I could hardly help being reminded, when the Prime Minister was making his very able speech at the commencement of this Debate, of a case at the Old Bailey, or some other criminal court, in which a person is found guilty of murder, for which the jury make a strong recommendation to mercy, and in which the judge goes through the solemn act of pronouncing sentence of death, knowing all the time that it will not be carried out, because he is going to send the recommendation to the proper quarter. I am afraid of a recommendation to mercy of the same nature in regard to this question, and I hope we shall have some explicit statement from the Government on that point. I congratulate the Government most heartily on the fact that we are to-day discussing one policy, and I am glad that the intimation given in the King's Speech, that reform must be part of the work of this Session, has been abandoned.
In the first place, the Government had no mandate from the country for reform. I challenge any Member of the Government to point to any number of election addresses where the question of reform of the House of Lords was ever mentioned or to the speeches of the candidates on this side who asked for support in favour of reform. I say they are not to be found with the exception of the Secretary for War, my hon. Friend the Member for Leith Burghs, and another Member. Outside these three hon. and right hon. Gen- 121 tlemen I say the question of the reform of the House of Lords was not an issue at the last General Election. The Government had absolutely no mandate whatever for introducing any reform proposals in the present Parliament. The policy at the last General Election was the policy enunciated by the Prime Minister at the Albert Hall and elsewhere. He referred to the three great issues of the election— the Veto, the Budget, and Free Trade and Tariff Reform. In all the great speeches which he delivered not a single suggestion was at any time ever made, that if the Government were returned by a majority the Reform of the House of Lords would be part of their policy. Therefore I say we are justified as independent supporters in protesting that the Government had no mandate for a policy which has practically no support in this party. I say, as a private Member and as a supporter of the Government, that there ought to be a mandate, first from the country, and then from the party, before any leaders, whatever their pious opinions may be, enunciate a new policy in place of that which was before the country. They have succeeded in confusing the issue that was put before the House and the country. The issue of Reform was not raised when Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman last brought the question before Parliament. He then stated that the Veto did not prejudice or preclude the future consideration of the question of Reform, and that the constitution and composition of the House of Lords was a question entirely independent of the Veto. This question of the Veto is a policy by itself. There is no mandate for Reform, and the Members of the Government are going outside any mandate that has been given either by the party or the country in endeavouring to pledge future Parliaments and the future of the Liberal party in regard to this policy. It is not fair to confuse the issue by raising the question of Reform of the House of Lords, about which there are so many different opinions, and certainly no definite agreement in the ranks of the followers of the Government. Therefore to bring forward Reform at the present time is calculated to injure the prospects of the Government policy. What did Lord Rosebery say on this point? Dealing with the Veto he made this statement, with which I entirely concur:—I implore you to keep your eye fixed on the simple proposition, and not allow yourselves to be diverted from it. Every attempt will be made to cloud or distract that issue. Do not let those attempts be successful Remember that those who attempt to 122 obscure the issue that we are laying before you are either fools or they are enemies in our ranks. They are either people of sheepish intellect or they are wolves in sheep's clothing.I submit that to the consideration of the Secretary of State for War, and to the Foreign Secretary, because at that time he was President of the Liberal League, of which I know they are both distinguished vice-presidents. He was against raising the question of Reform in connection with the Veto policy. So far as I am concerned I heartily and cordially accept that view at the present time. It is a little difficult to understand the position of the Government in regard to the future avowed policy of reconstruction or reform. I believe there is nothing more apparent in this Debate, as far as it has gone, than the difficulty that exists for any Liberal who believes in Liberal principles to make a case out for this suggested Elective Chamber. What are the reasons and the only reasons that have been given for this Elective Second Chamber that is to be formed, and in which every Minister who has spoken from the Front Bench has declared himself in favour, without giving any details. Only two reasons have been or can be given. The first is delay in legislation, and that we shall get the assistance of persons of great eminence, who will aid us in arriving at decisions as to public legislation and public policy.
With regard to delay I cannot see that the case is established at all. Under the Resolutions as proposed we shall pass legislation in two years irrespective of the constitution of the Second Chamber, so that I think that has sufficiently answered the question of any delay. I deny that any case is made out whatever for delay, or that anything has happened in the history of this House which justifies anyone in saying that it is likely to pass legislation in anything like a panicky condition. On the contrary, the great complain is as to legislation that it has to wait so many years before it is even discussed. If you want delay it is not necessary to establish a Second Chamber. You can by your Standing Orders, adopted in this House, declare that a law passed shall not come into operation for one or two years after it has received the assent of the two Houses. Your case for delay can be dealt with, in my opinion, without any necessity for starting this new policy of an elective Second Chamber. With regard to any persons whose assistance we may desire in regard to legislation, they could have full opportunity of offering themselves as 123 candidates for this House, which they have not at the present time, I admit. It is perfectly well known that many eminent persons in the other Assembly are desirous of sitting in this House. Lord Curzon and Mr. Brodrick, who is now Lord Midleton, brought forward a Bill in this House which, if it had passed, would have prevented them going into the House of Lords. Therefore, when we deal with the House of Lords in this respect they ought at the same time to have the opportunity of standing for election as Members of the House of Commons.
It seems to me if the Liberal party are to saddle themselves with this policy of an elective Second Chamber, they are making the difficulties of Liberal candidates even more than they are at the present time. Heaven knows, it is difficult enough at election time to reconcile our policy with many of the utterances that are made by some of our leaders. Let us see exactly what the Liberal candidates will be asked to do in the future if this suggested policy is going to form part and parcel of the official Liberal policy. The Liberal candidate will have to say to its constituents, "I trust in the people, I believe in the majesty of the people, and I ask you to return me to the House of Commons." If he is going to carry out the official Liberal policy, he will also have to say, "I distrust the people, I fear rash legislation, and I ask you to support me in order to elect a Second Chamber which shall prevent the First Chamber betraying the members of the democracy, and in that way prevent an injury being done to your interests." The position, in my opinion, is totally and entirely untenable. Either the Liberal party believes in the democracy, and ought to trust the democracy, or it does not. I have always understood that Liberalism meant trust the people. Apparently in the future it is going to be trust the people with a strong Second Chamber, elected on a different franchise, and in that way protect the people upon their own elected Chamber. That may be a policy, but it is not Liberalism, and it is not founded upon democratic principles. Therefore, I say, we ought to dissociate this policy of reform from the policy of the Resolutions. That was the policy of the late Sir Henry Camp-bell-Bannerman, and that ought to be the official policy of the Liberal party to-day. I am delighted that the Resolutions are so, but what I fear is that at some stage of this controversy there will be a Dissolu- 124 tion, and in the country we shall be faced with the official declarations of leaders in favour of a Second Chamber. I venture to say the rank and file of the party are in favour of the Veto policy. With the House of Lords, at any rate for a time, as it is. In that way, with the policy of a Second Chamber, we may have the situation in a new Parliament practically as difficult as we have to deal with at the present time. I say that the Foreign Secretary is not, in my opinion, justified in asking the whole Cabinet and the Liberal party to pledge themselves as to the future in regard to this policy.
There is the other point, that is taken up, I believe, by the Foreign Secretary and by others who think with him, that they point out what they declare to be the disaster of a single Chamber. I asked a question to-day of the Prime Minister as to whether the policy of reform, which is to be the official policy of the party, is going to have a limited Veto in regard to the elective Second Chamber. I did not get an answer to that question, and I do not complain, because it may be too premature. What I fear very much is if the Second Chamber is going to be established in the future that the very work we are doing to-day is going to be reversed immediately that Second Chamber is created, and that this doctrine of Veto now will be time wasted if the policy of a Second Chamber is going to be adopted. I cannot imagine the Foreign Secretary pointing out the disaster that is in front of the Liberal party if we have a single Chamber, seeing that by these Resolutions a period of two years will be given, and then to elect a Second Chamber and still have two years for the supremacy of this House. What does it matter as long as this House can pass legislation in two years? Where is your strong Second Chamber if this House passes legislation in two years? What does it matter whether it is the lot of hereditary legislators or people you elect who have the right to consider and revise so long as the First Chamber is to be supreme at the end of two years? I do not attach much importance to a Second Chamber, even if it is elective if at any time it can be overridden by the views of this House. I say the case for a Second Chamber is entirely demolished as soon as you admit that in two years the supremacy of this House will be established. Let me say one word with regard to the working of the Resolutions, and I will assume that we are deal- 125 ing with the state of things where you have a Liberal Government in office, or any Government if you like, who are determined that these Resolutions shall be worked to the fullest advantage.
To me the Resolutions from that point of view make a difference of one year only in the shortest time that legislation can be passed at present. In the ordinary course, if a Bill gets through at the present time, it passes in one year. Under the Resolutions, if they are worked to the fullest advantage, Bills will pass in future in two years. They will not take a day longer if the Government are in earnest. The Liberal Government would bring in at the beginning of the Session, say on 4th February, all the Bills which they intended to pass in that Parliament. The period of two years dates from the day of introduction, therefore, at the beginning of the Session, I presume, the Government would bring in all their Bills on the off chance that they would have time to pass them. To meet the Three Sessions provision they would adjourn in July, have a short autumn Session, and have their third Session in the next year. Thus they would be able to get the three Sessions in two years, provided always they sent their Bills up one month before the end of each Session. On the last occasion when the House of Commons adopts a particular Bill, it will not have to go to the House of Lords at all. Therefore, given earnestness and determination on the part of the Government, these Resolutions could be worked to great advantage, and any measure which they made up their minds to pass could be got through in two years. That is a great advance and well worth having if we are able to get it. There are other points, which are matters for Committee, such as the question of delay on the part of the House of Lords That is not provided for in the Resolutions, and I have put an Amendment on the Paper in regard to it. There is nothing in the Resolutions as they stand to prevent the House of Lords doing exactly what it did last year with the Budget. They can delay it, postpone it, hang it up, or take any other dilatory action. Some provisions will have to be made to deal with that emergency when the Resolutions are embodied in a Bill. Another Committee point is the question of the House of Lords adjourning for two or three months, thereby vetoing altogether the objects the Government have in view in passing these Resolutions.
But the great point of interest in this Debate is whether or not it is purely 126 academic. Is it an academic Debate or it is a real practical Debate? We have already had an academic Debate on the Campbell-Bannerman Resolution. The country has endorsed the policy there set out, and we are now again discussing practically the principles of the Resolution. This Debate is purely academic, unless it is to be turned to account by the Government during the existence of the present Parliament. It is a waste of time if we are immediately to go to the country to ask them to adopt the policy—not that I think the country would not adopt it. I think, under proper circumstances, it would be adopted by a greater majority than on the last occasion, because the people are seeing better than ever through the fallacies of Tariff Reform. Given a united party, I see no reason why we should not come back with a larger majority than we now possess. But I do not regard the policy of immediate resignation as worthy of the Government. There is probably no Member of the House who has less fear than I have of the result of another election; but it would not be fair to the people of the country, who have worked for and returned this Government to power with a majority of over 120, upon the first great point of their policy. It is not statesmanship to say we will pass these Resolutions through the House, and immediately the House of Lords takes some action upon them we will throw up the sponge and go to the country again. We have a right to expect more than that from the Government. The people who returned the Government to power expected that they would stand true to the principles which they were returned to carry out, and they expected them to be carried out during this Parliament. I can see many curious results if these Resolutions go to the House of Lords. The House of Lords may not immediately reject them. If they are wise they will probably go into Committee upon them. Perhaps they will amend them. Is that to be considered a rejection, or have we to wait until they come back in their amended form? I want to enter my strong protest as a private Member, because it may be our last opportunity of doing so in this Parliament, against the Government's advising a dissolution simply because of any action that may be taken by the House of Lords. The Government have a majority of 124; it ought not to pass the wit of man to carry their policy to a successful issue. I am not going into the question of guarantees; we all understood about 127 them at the Albert Hall. There is no doubt that the great mass of Liberals believed that if we had a majority anything approaching the one we have the result would be that in the lifetime of this Parliament the supremacy of the House of Commons over the House of Lords would be established. We have heard a great deal of the number "3" in this Debate. There are three Resolutions. There have been three advocates of the policy of reform. Each Minister who has spoken has said three times that he is in favour of that policy. I want to bring in another three. I ask the Government to think once, twice, and thrice before they send this Parliament back to the electorate without having done everything in their power to carry out the mandate which they and their supporters received from the country.
§ Mr. CHARLES THOMAS MILLS
I beg to claim the indulgence of the House for a maiden speech. I do not think anyone who has listened to this Debate can possibly have failed to come to the conclusion that the Government have very little justification for the enormous change which they are asking us to make in our Constitution. Surely it is necessary for those who propose to reduce the House of Lords to a state of impotence first of all to make it abundantly plain that that Assembly has failed to perform its duties as a Second Chamber, and has proved itself unworthy to take any further part in the government of the country. I say, with all respect, that hon. Gentlemen opposite have not succeeded in showing that the House of Lords have failed in their duty to the country. In fact, it has been clearly proved in this Debate that, during the last four years especially, the House of Lords have been signally successful in interpreting the will of the people. But the party opposite have almost ceased to argue the case against the House of Lords from the constitutional point of view. They are showing more and more clearly the real reason for their antipathy against the Second Chamber. The chief grievance against the House of Lords is that it is a partisan Assembly. The hon. Gentleman who spoke from the other side said that he was dissatisfied with the action of the House of Lords when a Liberal Government was in power and with their inaction when a Conservative Government was in power. They complain that there is a large Conservative majority in the Second Chamber, which the Lords 128 are accustomed to use in a manner which hon. Gentlemen opposite consider unfair to their party. Although I do not admit for a moment that the House of Lords are partisan in their action, still I am bound to admit that I agree with the party opposite to a certain extent, namely, that it will be more saisfactory to both parties, and probably more conducive to the good government of the country, if both of the two larger parties in this House were more equally represented in the Second Chamber. But surely this object cannot be obtained by abolishing the House of Lords? It seems to me that it can be attained by reforming them, and by reform only.
There is another grievance which hon. Gentlemen opposite have. That is the hereditary principle which underlies the constitution of the Second Chamber. We have been told repeatedly during the late election that the hereditary principle of the House of Lords is an anomaly and must be swept away at once. Most of those charming posters with which we were confronted during the election had for their chief motif the idea that the House of Lords, being hereditary, were transmitting from father to son the extremely undesirable qualities with which they were possessed. Perhaps the hereditary principle may be an anomaly, but I do not think that these Resolutions contain the smallest hint that the Government are going to alter this. In spite of the brave words which we heard during the election, the Government propose to leave untouched the vicious principle that the first of the litter should necessarily find a seat in the Second Chamber. The Government have a definite object in view which they hope to attain by these Resolutions. This was mere clearly defined by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Salford. One of the most cherished dreams of hon. Gentlemen opposite is to take the land of this country from its present possessors and hand it over to those whom they consider will use it more worthily, and who, perhaps, also may be persuaded to vote for them. The peers are for the most part unfortunately open to owning this particular class of property. Therefore it obviously will be an advantage to the so-called land reformer if the House of Lords could be debarred from having any voice in the government of the country. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has told us quite frankly that he means to tax the landlords out of existence. In face of that statement it seems to be obvious why the Government are taking 129 this opportunity to disfranchise the peers. Surely this is not in accordance with our ideas of fair play, or in accordance with the great Liberal maxim of "No taxation without representation." The Government are asking this House to sanction an enormous revolution in our Constitution simply in order that they may obtain a party triumph over their political enemies. An hon. Gentleman who spoke from the opposite side accused us of having a very great distrust of the people. Speaking for my own Constituency I have no distrust whatever, and I am afraid I cannot give the Prime Minister any comfort that his Constitution-breaking Resolutions will have any support there. I cannot say that my Constituents look upon the Veto as an odd kind of vegetable, but I do know that they look upon the House of Lords as the bulwark of democratic rights when assailed by the tyranny of a Radical-Socialist coalition, and also as an effective defence against the somewhat original financial schemes of the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Mr. RODEN BUXTON
I am very glad indeed that in rising to address the House for the first time the occasion is what it is, for the subject is one, so far as my experience goes, which was undoubtedly the subject of all others on which the late election was fought. The people who sent me here desired, above all things, that this subject should be dealt with first of all. The question of the reform of the House of Lords was never considered in any great detail by them, but the proposals of the Government on the subject of the Veto commended themselves to them as a simple, intelligible, and practical policy, designed to meet a practical need. They present themselves also as proposals which have been thoroughly discussed and thoroughly thought out. We are told by some hon. Gentlemen opposite that this is a new policy suddenly brought up, suddenly developed, out of some ingenious brain; but to us on this side of the House it presents itself as something very different. It presents itself as a policy to which we have been forced by long and bitter experience. It is not a thing which we took up of our own accord at all, or willingly. Speaking for those who care more about social reform than about anything else, I would say that it is not our desire to spend time over a constitutional question at all. We spend time over a constitutional question, because, unless we do so, 130 we cannot get on with the work we care about. I think the last hon. Gentleman who spoke said something about the Members of this House having little practical grievance to urge against the other House. The hon. Gentleman who spoke a short while ago from the other side said that we referred for our grievances to ancient history, and that we were not willing to take up and bring before the House any recent practical grievance from which we have suffered. It is not necessary for me to go through those recent examples which are so fresh in the minds of most of us, and have been spoken of.
There is, however, one recent example of a practical grievance from which we have suffered which I will briefly refer to, because it has the distinction, I think, of not having been referred to by any hon. Member on either side. It is a small question, a small grievance, but it is one which curiously illustrates the mental attitude of the House of Lords in considering a question that closely affects the people. The question I refer to is that of the South London trams. It was proposed a few years ago to carry the tram system across Westminster Bridge. I happen, in common with some other Members of this House, to live in South London. The question was one of extreme reality to me. I walked home daily, or nightly, from my work beside people who had to go in the same way across the river—poor people a great majority of them. I need not enlarge upon what it means to have to walk an extra mile every morning and an extra mile again in the evening, as many of them had to do, owing to the fact that the tram system was insufficiently extended. What does the House of Lords do—perfectly honestly, perfectly seriously? They consider that this is a bad proposal, because it conflicts with their aesthetic views as to what ought to be done on Westminster Embankment. They found it totally impossible to conceive the feeling of these people south of the river who were acutely concerned in a question of practical every-day convenience. That is just one small example, but one which throws a very great light upon this question. This question between the House of Lords and the House of Commons is not merely a constitutional question; it is a deep and a profound social question. This struggle has revealed a deep social cleavage between the interests which the House of Lords represent; and the interests of the 131 people as a whole. They are not to be blamed if they do not see things from the point of view of the great mass of the people.
It is not particularly easy for this House to see things from that point of view, but it is infinitely more difficult for the House of Lords to see them. The House of Lords represents a class of people who may honestly believe that they do understand the working-class point of view, and are able to look at things from that point of view. But as a matter of fact, the House of Lords is growing more and more to be the representative of the possessing class in those matters where the interests of the possessing classes come into conflict with the interests of the great mass of the people. That is, as we think, the state of the case—it would take a long time to express it otherwise than in general terms —but the thing is clearly understood. The House of Lords has come to be regarded on such questions by the possessing class of the country as their bulwark. They see the House of Commons becoming more and more the representative of the working class point of view, and therefore they turn their eyes away from it and direct them towards the House of Lords as the bulwark of their interests. That creates a situation which has brought these proposals and this issue to a head.
The Veto of the House of Lords is not a mere constitutional question. The Veto of the House of Lords is the Veto of the West End. It is the Veto of a certain class, and when we are told that we need a reform of the House of Commons I cannot help reflecting that the more we reform the House of Commons—and certainly it needs reform—the wider and deeper will become the gulf between the House of Commons and the House of Lords. It is not a mere constitutional question that we are discussing now; it is a question between those who believe in democracy and those who do not believe in it. I can understand the opinions that are held upon this subject of the Veto by hon. Gentlemen opposite; theirs is an argument against democracy. It is easy enough to display its errors and its failures. It is the easiest thing in the world to point them out, and there is in this country a very great body of opinion which, whatever may be said upon the platform, does not believe in democracy as a principle of government at all. It comes out in a hundred forms. We always hear pro- 132 posals that this department or that should be handed over to some kind of dictatorship. Some people would like the War Office to be handed over to Lord Roberts; others would like the Board of Admiralty to be handed over to the Noble Lord the Member for Portsmouth (Lord Charles Beresford); several people put forward the proposal that Lord Kitchener should be installed as Dictator; several people say the care of the unemployed ought to be handed over to General Booth; the hon. Member for South Hackney (Mr. Bottomley) conceives that by some ingenious device a committee of business men—of glorified stockbrokers—could find the means of doing something for democracy that democracy could not do for itself. Other hon. Members drew attention to proposals for the reform of the House of Lords. They think that by some particularly ingenious device, by doctoring up a Second Chamber which will look like a democratic institution, but will not be one in fact, they will do away with the hereditary principle and at the same time install a great majority of hereditary Peers with an infusion of nominated ex-governors and a dash of county councillors thrown in, and by some means or other find some system which will control democracy and take the place of self-government. That represents a state of mind which is very common, and it is becoming increasingly common in the country, but it does not represent the state of mind of men upon these benches.
We believe in democracy. We believe in democracy even with its mistakes. I have had the argument put to me, appealing to me as a Liberal, "How would you like the tyranny of a single Chamber? How would you like the tyranny of a chance majority of Conservatives in this House uncontrolled by a Second Chamber?" I perfectly well recognise that we may have to suffer that tyranny as indeed, we have suffered it before. We may have to suffer that tyranny in an extreme form. We might have Tariff Reform carried through this House by a majority of one, and under our Veto proposals there would be no means of the House of Lords throwing it out. But we think it is better for democracy that it should take the risk of that, and if it makes mistakes let it correct its own mistakes. Do not let them be corrected by some other party. I believe between these two views there is a fundamental difference, 133 and that this Debate is not characterised by unreality. It is intensely real—the most intensely real thing that has been discussed in Parliament for a long time. It reveals a fundamental cleavage, and there is no possible compromise between us and hon. Members opposite. They cherish the notion sometimes that a compromise is possible. It is not so in my opinion. Either they must go down or we must go down. The thing must be done either one way or the other. Our party takes its stand upon what we conceive to be the side of democracy, and we say, "Until the Veto of the House of Lords is abolished or severely limited, no genuine democracy in this country is possible."
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down began his speech, as did the hon. Member who preceded him, by saying that he held a mandate for the abolition of the House of Lords, but no mandate for reform. The whole of his speech, I think, would have been better had it been directed as an argument in favour of having a Second Chamber such as he would have approved of, rather than in favour of abolishing the Second Chamber. The hon. Gentleman who preceded him dwelt on the same lines in a way which, to a large extent, commanded my agreement. He said that if the right hon. Gentlemen who sat on the Front Bench really meant to reform the House of Lords, then the proposals we are discussing to-day are a farce and nothing but a farce, because they have all got to be upset when the reform scheme is brought forward. Following that idea up, I would like to put this point to the hon. Gentlemen opposite. To carry these Resolutions it is obvious that the powers of the present Government are going to be stretched to the very utmost. They can only carry them either by obtaining a strong mandate from the people, which is not very easy, or they can carry them by what seems to me almost incredible, namely, the exercise of the Prerogative of the Crown. If they do it in that way, what would be the result? If they mean to reform the House of Lords from their point of view, there will be no result. Are we to go through all this revolution and fuss and trouble with the certain knowledge that the moment a Unionist Government is returned to power the whole thing will be upset and we shall begin again from the beginning? I ask hon. Gentlemen opposite, Is that statesmanship? If you mean to reform the House 134 of Lords at all, is it not better to have one revolution than two, and do it now, thus securing some chance of permanency?
Everyone, I am sure, no matter what quarter of the House he sits in, will admit that these proposals, if they have any reality in them—and their reality may be judged by the Resolution for the closure which has been put upon the Paper — would mean the greatest revolution that has ever taken place in our constitutional history. On what ground is that great revolution justified? The Prime Minister, in the very able speech in which he introduced these Resolutions, implied that when there was a Liberal majority in this House there were constant deadlocks, and the business could not go on. As everyone knows, the Prime Minister is a very skilful advocate, and it was his business to make that point in supporting these Resolutions. But he sometimes has to speak under other conditions. He has occasionally to speak in the country, and there he has found it necessary to justify the achievements of the Government of which he is a Member, and on one of those occasions he used these words:—The output of the two years exceeded in quantity and, I believe, excelled in value, anything that had ever been done in the same time before.The Home Secretary took up precisely the same line. He told us on Thursday, with great feeling, about the futility of tramping through the Division Lobby with its injury and humiliation, but it is rather a strange thing that in all these controversies what they speak about is not so much injury to the country as injury to the Liberal Ministry that happens to be in office. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of all this humiliation and the impossibility of carrying on the work of Government. The Home Secretary also speaks in the country sometimes, and he was recently speaking in Manchester upon the relation of the two Houses, and yet, by one of those curious lapses to which all rhetoricians are liable, he actually by accident put before his audience the real position of affairs. He said:—After all the great mass of the electorate has only to vote once or twice with some approach to solidarity to do anything they like with our existing Parliamentary system.There you have it. Business with a Liberal Government is said to be impossible because there is a deadlock and because the will of the people cannot prevail, but in spite of that the Government have 135 been able to reap a most bountiful harvest by way of legislation than has ever been done before, and the electorate have only to vote once or twice with some approach to solidarity to do anything they like. When we read these declarations we find no ground for attack upon the House of Lords or any justification for these revolutionary proposals. In the last Parliament we heard a great deal about the Education Bill and the Licensing Bill, but I have hardly heard them mentioned in this Debate. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh!"] I can only speak for myself. The hon. Member for Hackney said it would be the merest hypocrisy to pretend that in the present House of Commons it would be possible to pass either the first Education Bill or the Licensing Bill. Does anyone pretend that such a thing would be possible. I think that was practically admitted by the hon. and learned Member for Walthamstow, who asked us to discard existing controversies and go back to controversies on which we were all agreed. The hon. and learned Gentleman mentioned particular measures in which the House of Lords were wrong, but if he had chosen he could have made precisely the same attack against the House of Commons According to the hon. and learned Gentleman the House of Lords is to be abolished, and we are to have single-Chamber government because the peers forty or fifty years ago did not think as we all think to-day.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
The hon, and learned Gentleman sees the point much more clearly than he allows us to think. The main point was it did not receive the assent of the House of Commons on its Second Reading. I believe, as a matter of fact, it did pass the House of Lords in the very same Parliament in which it received the final assent of the House of Commons. Therefore, from the strongest point of view all the case he made for abolishing the House of Lords as a Second Chamber was that its only use is not to lead the van, but to act as a drag upon reform in case of need. Surely the use of a Second Chamber is to interpose, and, if necessary, delay. The strongest case 136 which the hon. Member can make is that the House of Lords did delay for a year or two questions that had been agitated in the country and in the House of Commons for generations almost before they received the assent of the Crown.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
I really think I did all that was required of me when I met the particular case the hon. Member had brought forward, but the hon. and learned Gentleman seemed himself to realise that history did not help him much more than the present controversy, for he invented another line and one on which he is to be greatly complimented. He said: "The House of Lords ought to be destroyed," because of something they would have done if they had the chance. "If," said the hon. and learned Gentleman, "it had been necessary in order to give self-government to the South African Colonies to pass an Act of Parliament, the House of Lords would have rejected it." How does he know? That is the climax. The House of Lords is to be abolished, not because of anything they have done, but because of something which, in the opinion of the hon. Member for Walthamstow, they would have done if they had got the chance. We all know that the real point on which all this agitation is now based is that the House of Lords rejected the Budget. That is the crime which they give now as the justification for the Resolutions, though, let me remark in passing, that incident; made no difference either in the policy or in the tenour of the speeches of the Government, which have been precisely the same as when, for instance, the Prime Minister spoke at the National Liberal Club before the Budget had been rejected by the House of Lords. That, however, is the great ground on which they now defend their position.
I am not going to dwell upon that at length, but I must say something about it. Before doing so, I should like to refer to something which is germane to that ground of attack. We were told over and over again throughout the General Election that the Liberal party, that the Gentlemen who sit on that bench, were fighting for the principle of representative Govern- 137 ment. Well, what do they mean by it. I suppose they mean that the will of the people, as expressed by their representatives in the House of Commons, must prevail. That is what they mean, but do they mean that to apply at all times and to all Houses of Commons? A Parliament was elected in 1900, and that Parliament passed the Education Bill. Presumably, it represented the will of the people. What did the Chancellor of the Exchequer do? He used all his powers to encourage the citizens of this country by passive resistance to refuse to assent to the will of the people as expressed by the House of Commons. [An HON. MEMBER: "What was the mandate? "] The Chancellor of the Exchequer is too old a hand to have made that interruption. That enables us to catch their meaning. The will of the people as represented by the House of Commons only applies if that House of Commons represents the will of the Radical party. If the House of Commons, elected by the same voters, takes the other view, then they do not represent the will of the people. They only represent peer-ridden villages, like Birmingham, or cathedral cities, like London; and the duty of a true democrat is to defy to the utmost the expression of that will in such a House of Commons.
With regard to the right of the House of Lords to reject the Budget, I am not going into the constitutional question on that subject at all. There was a great deal of hairsplitting about the difference between the legal and constitutional right. I think that has been killed by this Debate. I think every Member on that side who is honest with himself will take the view expressed by the Member for Leicester (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald), that of course they had the constitutional right, and "We must take it away from them." That is what he said, and that is what they mean. I am not going to quote many authorities, but I shall quote two in justification, as I believe, of the action of the House of Lords in regard to that measure. The first is Mr. Gladstone. The last occasion on which a conflict on this subject occurred between the two Houses was when Mr. Gladstone was Chancellor of the Exchequer, and, in the very heat of that discussion, when he felt as I suppose the present Chancellor of the Exchequer feels now, he yet had the foresight to say that he would be very sorry to see the right of rejection of a Finance Bill taken from the House, of Lords, because he thought it 138 ought to be held, to be used in case of an emergency. That is our position to-day. That expresses exactly the position of every Member on this side of the House.
The only other authority to which I shall refer is more recent. It is the authority of, from some points of view, the most distinguished Member of the present Government. Lord Morley, in a Debate on this subject in the House of Lords, speaking for the Government, made the statement that the House of Lords had no doubt the legal right to reject the Bill, but, more than that, a Budget might be presented to them which it would be their moral duty to reject. Surely that greatly simplifies the issue. According to Lord Morley there is no doubt about the right of the Lords to reject some Budget. Therefore, the question which we have to consider is not whether they have the right to reject any Budget, but had they the right to reject this Budget? That is the question, and the sole question, which is before the House and the country, and, in deciding that issue, I do not ask hon. Gentlemen opposite to judge by what we say about the Budget. I ask them to judge by what was said about it by its own authors. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, for instance, knows something about the Budget. He did not deny, and I do not suppose he would deny now, that it was revolutionary, though, of course, he considered it a beneficent revolution. I see he rather questions that, so I shall quote his exact words. After the Budget was rejected and when, therefore, it was his interest to make the novelty of his proposals as small as possible, in order to show that the offence of the House of Lords was great, he said:—And now when we are beginning to realise the possibilities of the position, when we have discovered in real earnest what the powers of finance mean—These words can only mean that the right hon. Gentleman was using, and that his Government intended to use, those powers and influence a way in which they were never used before. They could only mean, and were intended to mean, as was actually the case in the Budget, that they were going to close one-third of the public-houses in England, or, in the words used by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, I admit, after an interruption—and sometimes these unpremeditated expressions show more clearly what is in the speaker's mind—that they were the beginning of the taxation of landlords out of existence. If the House of Lords had not realised the possibilities of the position, they would 139 have thrown away their power as a revising Chamber, and it would have been made possible, under the guise of a Finance Bill, to bring forward any measure, and pass it without any possible intervention on the part of the House of Lords. A very enterprising Member of the Government put it even more strongly. The Home Secretary said of the Budget:—It is a new idea, pregnant, formidable, full of life, a tremendous question never put to the country.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
That is quite enough for my purpose. Is it possible to conceive any Second Chamber which has not only the right, but also the duty, to see that a Bill so described is put to the country and that the country has an opportunity of deciding upon it? But the question as to whether or not the House of Lords had a right to decide the Budget is one which, after all, the country has more or less to settle. I think the result of the last election has shown this at least, that the high hopes with which the Government started have not been realised. Before I leave this subject I will put this simple and plain question to the right hon. Gentleman, who is to follow me, and his answer, if he be kind enough to give one, will afford us a clear indication of what is meant by "the will of the people" to-day. That question has been raised from this side over and over again. Although the election was taken in consequence of the rejection of the Budget, and was an appeal in regard to the Budget, there is not a majority in the present House of Commons in favour of it. [An HON. MEMBER: "Wait and see."] I am going to wait and see. We have had many Governments in this country, but this is the first time we have had a "Wait and See Government." On the merits of the Budget there is no doubt that that expression is true. No one can doubt that they depend for their majority on the Member for Waterford and his followers. The hon and learned Member has told us in this Parliament, in the plainest language, that he does not approve of the Budget, and, indeed, that he would vote against it but for other considerations. On its merits, then, there is no doubt there is not a majority in favour of it. I admit that that does not settle the question in practical politics. The Home Secretary said the other night, if we have any doubt about the Budget, we will see whether they have the votes. There has been up to now a good deal of 140 difference of opinion as to whether the Government would get a majority for their Budget. During the Easter recess I read the speeches of two Members of the Government, and they convinced me that the majority was not in favour of the Budget. Two Members of the Government said they were going to stand or fall by the Budget. One was the right hon. Gentleman, the Home Secretary. We all know his courage, it is rather of the headlong flight. He had said the same thing before and nothing happened. But it was also said by a right hon. Gentleman of a different type. It was said by the Secretary of State for War. I do not question the courage of the right hon. Gentleman. I have no doubt it does justice to the high military rank he now adorns, but his courage is of a different kind to that of the Home Secretary. It is tinged with thought; it shines most brightly when it is displayed behind impregnable fortresses, and therefore when he made the statement I have referred to I had no doubt—and I have none now—that the subterranean intrigue of the last five or six weeks have succeeded, and that the Government have bought the support or neutrality of the Nationalist Members. The only question which still interests me —and I shall await the development with great interest—is what is the price?
This is the question which I will put to the right hon. Gentleman. Suppose, after an appeal to the country on the Budget, it is actually found that the majority of the people's representatives vote against it, Will he still say that the House of Lords was not justified in rejecting it, although they gave the only possible opportunity to enable the electors of this country to condemn the Budget? The answer will be very interesting, if he will give us his idea of what he means by "the will of the people." The Resolutions which are now under the consideration of the House has at least this disadvantage, that they put the issue in an unmistakable way. That issue is a plain and a very simple one. It is, in a word, whether in future the government of this country is to be carried on under a single Chamber or under two Chambers. I do not make that statement, strong as it is, without at least attempting to prove it, and I will do that briefly. Look at the question of usage. It gives the House of Commons absolute power over finance. But the field of finance is so wide, it covers so completely our whole national life, that if any Chamber has that 141 power absolute and uncontrolled, without that possibility of appeal in the case of emergency to which Mr. Gladstone referred, for all practical purposes in the country where such a system prevails there is a single-Chamber Government. I daresay hon. Gentlemen opposite will say, "How can you make such a statement in view of the fact that for sixty years the action of the House of Commons in finance has never been questioned by the Second Chamber?" But that question does not decide the matter. The restraining influence of a power does not depend upon the frequency of the exercise of that power; the fact that the power is there may be sufficient to prevent it from being exercised; and, more than that, the existence of that power was sufficient until the advent of His Majesty's present advisers to prevent any Government from bringing forward in a Finance Bill anything which did not really deal with finance. I ask right hon. Gentlemen opposite to consider seriously what the power of finance is? Take two aspects of it only. In the first place, a Government with a majority in the House of Commons could reduce our defensive forces of the Army and Navy—and all this without any question of tacking, which I shall not refer to— could reduce our Army and our Navy to a point which imperilled in the highest degree the safety of this nation; and no matter how strongly that might be resented by the people of this nation, there would be under these Resolutions no possibility of challenging it. Is it to be said that the House of Lords would not exercise the power in such a case as this? Undoubtedly they would exercise the power. They would refuse the Budget under such circumstances. More than that, I will make the admission, if hon. Gentlemen think it an admission, and I say that if that were done to an extent which imperilled the safety of the country, it would be the duty of the Second Chamber to exercise its power.
Look, then, at the possibility of the oppression of individuals which, under the powers of a Finance Bill, might take place. Under these powers a temporary majority of the day could confiscate in whole or in part all the property belonging to any individual, or any class which was obnoxious to the majority of the House of Commons at the time. This kind of subject is new to all of us; until quite recently none of us thought of it, but I ask hon. Gentlemen opposite to remember this, that every constitutional writer who has discussed this 142 subject, and, what is more, the practical experience of every civilised country in the world, recognise that the duty of protecting individuals against oppression of that kind is one of the most fundamental, and perhaps the most fundamental for which a Second, Chamber exists, and I say with all sincerity that if a Second Chamber has no such power then I would rather see us with a single Chamber. In such circumstances a Second Chamber would be of no use and it might do harm by blinding the people to the real danger that there is. I daresay hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway say that I am talking of the privileged classes and thinking about property. I believe with the House of Lords—I believe rightly or wrongly— that the security of property and the security against unjust and indiscriminate taxation of an unpopular person is a matter on which our prosperity depends, and if you take that away you take away the prosperity of the country. Referring to the next Resolution the right hon. Gentleman the Irish Secretary was, I think, the only Member of the Government who made any serious attempt to consider the practical result of these proposals.
The right hon. Gentleman told us that in his sincere belief the effect of these Resolutions, by defining the powers of the House of Lords, would increase them. I am the last man in the House to question the sincerity of the right hon. Gentleman, but if he holds that belief all I can say is that the powers of self-deception have reached their limit. Did it not occur to the right hon. Gentleman when he was speaking that he was proving a little too much? Did it not occur to him that Gentlemen below the Gangway on both sides, if they believed for a moment that there was the smallest foundation, for his argument, would not vote for his Resolution? He knows perfectly well that they support them, not because they are going to strengthen the Second Chamber, but because they are going to take away its powers, and in a speech, reported in today's newspapers, by the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. John Redmond), he speaks of supporting the Veto Resolutions and the destruction of the House of Lords indiscriminately, as if they were the same thing—and, of course they are the same thing.
I think I can prove as clearly and as unquestionably as a proposition in Euclid that this means single-Chamber Government and nothing else. If one Chamber has absolute power, if it chooses to exercise 143 it, to do whatever it likes, is not that single-Chamber Government? What does this Resolution mean? If a majority in the House of Commons finds at any time that the shadowy powers which are still left to the Second Chamber interfere with them, what have they to do? All they have to do is to pass a Bill and wait two years, and they can do away with all those powers, and there is single-Chamber Government and nothing else. But the Irish Secretary answered that argument in advance. He said statesmen may be honest men. "Is thy servant a dog," he seemed to say, "that he should do this thing?" If that is an argument of any validity, it is not an argument against the point which I am putting before the House, which is that a single Chamber would have absolute power. It is an argument in favour of the view that there is no need for a Second Chamber, because the First Chamber can be trusted to act like honest men. But I am rather inclined to think that the right hon. Gentleman forgets the influence of party interests. He is misled by too minute self examination or the too close contemplation of his own virtue. If he would use his imagination, if he would picture to himself a Government—and it does not require much imagination to imagine such a Government—which would be willing in the interests of its party or what it thought the interests of its party, to sacrifice millions of public money of which it is trustee. Can anyone doubt that such a Government would hesitate a moment in seizing absolute power? More than that, is there anyone who was present in the last Parliament, and who remembers the tone and temper of the majority in that Parliament, who seriously believes that they would allow their second term of office to be sterilised when they had it within their power at any moment to swoop down and grasp absolute power. I do not be-live there is anyone, and therefore I say I think I have proved that if the House of Commons chooses to exercise the power it has the absolute power and it means single-Chamber government and nothing else.
There is one other point in regard to the Second Resolution that I should like to put before the House. Let us imagine that the Resolution were law to-day. What would be the position? What would be the first Bill which the Government would introduce? Ask the the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. John Redmond). Does 144 anyone doubt what it would be, and does anyone doubt that it would pass under this. Rule? It would be Home Rule. The right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister when he was heckled in his constituency refused, absolutely to say either what he meant by; Home Rule, or whether he meant to introduce a Home Rule Bill, and yet such a Bill, would become law. That is an illustration which I am sure appeals to every Member I am addressing. Is it not proof of the truth of the Amendment I am supporting that by this proposal of the Government, you would carry measures not only without the consent, but against the will of the majority of the people. In this connection; we have heard a great deal—we heard it; to-night from the hon. Member for the, Kirkcaldy Burghs (Sir Henry Dalziel)— about the big majority in favour of the; Veto. There was to be a majority of 124, and the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary said on Thursday, "If you have any doubt, wait until to-night's Division." Well, I have not any doubt, but I think we have not only to count the majority, we have got to analyse it. On what does the majority depend? Everybody knows that the hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. J., Redmond) and his friends can put the Government either in a majority or in a minority if they please. I am sure the Chancellor of the Exchequer is already preparing a phrase which will save me from doing so. He will say, "You are pretty Unionists." That sounds plausible, but is it. I am very glad that the hon. Member for Waterford is in his place, and if I misrepresent him or exaggerate what he has said, I am sure that he will not hesitate to correct me. I ask the House to remember that the hon. Member for Waterford has himself said that he was in favour of these Resolutions because they meant Home Rule for Ireland. He has told us in this Parliament that he and his Friends know nothing, and that they care nothing, about British politics. He has told us also in this Parliament that he is prepared to vote for either party on any question according to whether or not that party will forward the interests he has in view. That is nothing new. It has been the policy of his party ever since the time of Mr. Parnell. His sword is ready to be thrown into the scale at any moment to the highest bidder. [An HON. MEMBER: "Shame."] There is no shame about it. The hon. Member admits it, and is proud of it. This Question is perfectly understood outside. There is no misunderstanding about it. It is very important 145 to remember what hon. Gentlemen have said about it and what they mean to make of it. Suppose my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition—I would like to put this in a way which will not be disagreeable to him—were to invite the hon. and learned Member for Waterford to lunch, not at Downing Street, but somewhere else—I notice that among the terrible threats which the Home Secretary addressed to us was that the Government might compel my right hon. Friend to go to Downing Street against his will— suppose my right hon. Friend were to invite the hon. Member for Waterford to luncheon and were to say to him, "You do not like the Budget; I do not like Home Rule. But of the two I think Home Rule is the lesser evil." Of course, such a friendly lunch is just as likely as, but not more likely than, that my right hon. Friend will assassinate me when I sit down for having made the suggestion. Suppose my right hon. Friend were to say to him, "If you will vote against these Resolutions I promise, on behalf of my party, to give you Home Rule," what would be the answer of the hon. Gentleman? [An HON. MEMBER: "Wait and see.] I thought that the hon. Gentleman was the cause of the existence of the wait-and-see Government. What would be the answer of the hon. Member? Seriously there is not a Member of this House who doubts that he would vote against the Resolutions, and more than that. I do not know what the private predilections of the hon. and learned Gentleman are. It does not matter; but I believe, and I will give my reasons for the belief, that those whom he represents would prefer to get Home Rule by voting against the Resolutions rather than by voting in favour of them. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Let them hear the reason before they contradict me. Suppose they ever got Home Rule and had shaken, the dust of Westminster from their feet. [An HON. MEMBER: "Thank God."] I am not so sure of that. They would still have some interest in the United Kingdom, and their interests would be chiefly centred in their fellow-countrymen who would be left behind. I ask hon. Members to remember the last Parliament. How would they like to leave the Catholic schools of England to the tender mercies of such a majority as existed in the last Parliament, when they were no longer here to bully the Government? I say that under these circumstances you have to do more than count the votes. I say it is an outrage on decency and common-sense to suggest that 146 votes which are given from motives such as I have described, and accurately described, represent a mandate for the destruction of the British Constitution. In this connection I intend to read two extracts from speeches of Members of His Majesty's Government. The first is from the speech of the Prime Minister on 21st February, the first day of the Session:—I tell the House quite frankly that I have received no such guarantee, and that I have asked for no such guarantee. In my judgment it is the duty of statesmen and of responsible politicians in this country, as long as possible and as far as possible, to keep the name of the Sovereign and the Prerogatives of the Sovereign outside the domain of party politics.…. But to ask in advance for a blank authority for an indefinite exercise of the Royal Prerogative in regard to a measure which has never been submitted to or approved by the House of Commons, is a request, which, in my judgment, no constitutional statesman can properly make.The next extract is from the speech of the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary. There has been absolutely no change whatever in the position in regard to all the points which were made in the speech of the Prime Minister, yet this is what the Home Secretary said:—It has now become necessary that the Crowe and the Commons act together to restore the balance of the Constitution and restrict forever the Veto of the House of Lords.There has been no change in the position. The words used by the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary mean, can only mean, and I challenge him to say that they do not mean, that, in his opinion, if the Resolutions are rejected by the House of Lords, it is the duty of the Prime Minister to go to the Sovereign and ask for guarantees. The words mean, and can only mean, that in his opinion it is the duty of the Prime Minister to do what he said he never would do. Which of their views represents the present opinion of His Majesty's Government? That may seem an unnecessary question. The first quotation was from the Prime Minister. The second was from the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary, who I think I am justified in describing—he is a hard hitter himself and he will not take offence at the description—as the enfant terrible of the party. The House of Commons and the country have always been ready to make allowances for the extravagances of a gifted youth, and there is no one, I can assure the House, more ready than I to acknowledge the reality of the gifts of the right hon. Gentleman, although I am not prepared to accept the statement made by him on Thursday, that the marked deterioration 147 in the intellectual condition of this party began as soon as he left our ranks. The right hon. Gentleman is now more than an enterprising politician. He is Home Secretary, and the words which I have quoted were used in the hearing of the Prime Minister. We are entitled, therefore, to say to him, or to say to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who will speak for the Government, is the intention expressed by the Home Secretary the intention of His Majesty's Government. We are entitled to ask that question. Is that the price which they have paid for Irish support of their Budget? If it is, I shall wait until it is an accomplished fact before I attempt to find language which will do justice to it.
§ The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Lloyd-George)
It must be a really bad case where the extremely ingenious mind of the hon. Gentleman cannot find some sort of reason for it. But the only way in which he has ever attempted to make a case on the present occasion is by completely evading every real issue. I will just give two samples of the method of argument adopted by the hon. Member in the course of his speech. He said these Resolutions mean single-Chamber Government. It is very easy to make a proposition, but how does he substantiate it? He said it would be quite easy, if these Resolutions were incorporated in the Constitution, for the House of Commons to go a step further, and to abolish the Second Chamber altogether. I might say the same thing, that when a Conservative Government is in power with an overwhelming Conservative majority in the House of Lords they could repeal the Septennial Act, and, therefore, because they could repeal the Septennial Act, that the Septennial Act is consequently repealed whenever they are in control. I will give another example of the arguments of the hon. Gentleman. He made great play out of the Budget. He asked me one or two questions which I hope to answer, and to answer to his satisfaction. He was very concerned about the attitude of the Irish Members on the Budget. The hon. Member says you must analyse the votes, and this is the party of One Vote One Value. If the Irish Members vote against the Budget then it is the will of the people. What was the whole argument of the hon. Gentleman? His argument was that the House of Lords are justified in throwing 148 out the Budget because the result of the General Election shows that the people are with him. There is a British majority for the Budget, and, therefore, in order to count the will of the people, he must take the Irish vote. The Irish vote represents the will of the people whenever it goes into the same Lobby as the hon. Member, but the moment it goes on our side you must analyse it, you must subject it to chemical analysis at once. The hon. Gentleman said that this was a "wait and see" Government. I might retort that this is the first Opposition that will not wait and cannot see. He is perfectly wrong in saying that it is only within the last fortnight that we made it quite clear that we would stand or fall by the Budget. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh."] Perhaps hon. Members would allow me to finish. The Prime Minister made it perfectly clear in the very first statement he made to the House of Commons. In every Debate on the Income Tax Resolutions, and I have spoken four or five times, I also made it quite clear that it was our intention to stand or fall by the Budget. It is certainly not a new intention. It was the intention in those moments of anxiety referred to by the hon. Member opposite, and I daresay that accounted for the anxiety. At any rate, we have never had any doubt that, not merely for the sake of the Budget itself and for the sake of the finance of the year, we were bound to put to the test the question of whether the electorate had or had not approved of the rejection of the Budget. May I point out that the Irish Members in their speeches in the country have never opposed the Budget on its merits? On the contrary, the hon. and learned Member for Waterford made it perfectly clear the other day that he supported the land clauses of the Budget. He not merely voted for them, but he spoke for them. Does anyone doubt that the land clauses of the Budget were the reason why the House of Lords threw out the Bill? So that the very portions of the Budget which led to its rejection received the support of the Irish party in the late Parliament. Merely to say that the Irish Members are prepared to subordinate the Budget and everything else to Home Rule is no reason why their votes should not be counted either for or against any other proposition. Hon. Members opposite were perfectly ready to receive the support of Irish Members in 1885, and to keep the Government in power for six months then. Therefore, when the hon. Member says 149 that the Irish Members have for tactical reasons pressed the Government to hold over the Budget, that does not prove at all that the Irish Members as a body are opposed to the main principles of the Budget.
But the hon. Gentleman never touched the real issue between the parties. What is the difficulty? The difficulty is that you have in the other House a permanent majority belonging to one party. It does not matter what is the complexion of this House or what the result of a General Election may be. You have always in the other House a majority of anything between five and ten to one against the House of Commons if it is Liberal. Does the hon. Gentleman consider that fair? He is a very ardent Tariff Reformer. He is certainly one of the ablest advocates of that policy, and the most earnest. Supposing there happened to be in the House of Lords a solid, inveterate majority of Free Traders. There is not, I agree; but supposing there was. The hon. Member is looking forward to a Tariff Reform Ministry. [Cheers.] I do not recognise the note of Triumph, and I do not notice the Noble. Lord the Member for Oxford (Lord Hugh Cecil) joining in that cheer. I put it to ardent Tariff Reformers who are looking forward to that bright and happy day: supposing, instead of having a body of Tariff Reformers in the House of Lords you had a solid majority of Free Traders there. A Tariff Reform Ministry comes in with a majority of, say, fifty or sixty. Their Bill is thrown out. Would the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Bonar Law) take the same view about the fairness of the present position then? The hon. Gentleman says he would dissolve on the issue. His notion is this, that it would be perfectly fair for the House of Lords, with a Free Trade majority, to throw out a Budget although the country had pronounced in the most emphatic manner in its favour. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no."] At least, the House of Commons declared in the most emphatic manner in its favour. Under these circumstances it would be perfectly fair, he suggested, for them to send it to the country ! All I can say is this: I do not believe that the hon. Gentleman would really take that view. I will tell the House why. He would be driven to the chances and changes of the swing of the pendulum. Whenever the Tory party gets a majority now it is able to carry through its measures. Whenever the Liberal party now has a majority it 150 cannot carry through its measures. Something has been said about our quoting stale precedents. I am perfectly willing— I do not shirk the issue—to refer to the acts of the last ten years. Take two periods—the period between 1900 and 1906, and the period between 1906 and 1910. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition said something about Costa Rica. When he was Prime Minister we had ten years of Costa Rica. Who was it that corrected that state of things? It was not the House of Lords. The correction came from the despised House of Commons. That was what put an end to Costa Rican Government in this country.
Take the two periods, especially the period from 1900 to 1906. What happened then? The hon. Gentleman the Member for Dulwich (Mr. Bonar Law) referred to the Education Bill of 1902, and he spoke of the part I took in it. The 1900 Parliament was elected upon an explicit pledge given by leading Members of the Government that it was a Parliament elected purely and simply to deal with the South African problem. Liberals were told that they need have no apprehension in voting for the return of that Government, because it was not returned to deal with questions of contentious domestic policy. What happened? In spite of that pledge, two years afterwards, in 1902, a very contentious Bill was put through the House of Commons, not only without a mandate but in defiance of a pledge—which was a very different thing. That Bill was carried through the House of Commons in spite of the fact that there was a very powerful body of Unionists who dissented from that policy— carried, let me remind hon. Gentlemen opposite, with the help of Irish Members. Had it not been for the help of Irish Members, the Bill would have foundered. Irish votes were quite good enough in those days to carry a Conservative measure in defiance of pledges given to Parliament, but they are not good enough to carry Liberal measures to-day. In 1904 the same thing happened again. What did the House of Lords do? Did they act as one would have expected from an impartial Second Chamber? Did they say "the country has never pronounced upon this, and not only that, but the country never understood you were going on with matters of this kind"? Quite the reverse ! They strengthened the measure from the point of view in which it was most obnoxious to the people of this country. The hon. Member for Dulwich said all the House of Lords had done was to compel 151 us to consult the will of the people. Supposing in 1902 they compelled the then Government to consult the people. Does anyone imagine for a moment that there would have been a majority for that Bill? In 1904 the Government was still more unpopular. Supposing the House of Lords said, "You must consult the people." Why, they would have been beaten by a huge majority. There has been no consultation of the people when Tory measures are sent up. Now let us take 1906. What happened then? And I really appeal to the sense of fair play of hon. Members opposite. I am contrasting the two Parliaments. Many hon. Members opposite were not here in 1906. What happened then? In 1906 the usual course was followed. I agree that in 1900 it was a very unusual thing for a party to go to the country without a programme, but it was a case of emergency. In 1906 both parties followed the usual course of placing two alternative programmes before the country. What were these programmes? Each of these programmes contained measures which were contentious from the point of view of the other party. There were a good many Bills not contentious—Old Age Pensions were not contentious. I do not think so. I am not now making any party argument. There are measures which are common to both parties, but there are also measures which are contentious from the point of view of either party. What happened? The party leaders presented two points of view. One party said, "Here is our programme from the Tory point of view"; the other said, "Here is our programme from the Radical point of view." The country in the main decides for one or the other. In 1906 they decided for the Liberal programme. Let us see what followed. There were at least six Bills mentioned in the speeches of every party leader on our side; in every election address, in every speech delivered by every candidate. More than that, there was not one of these Bills that had not been submitted by Members on this side of the House to the judgment of the previous House in the form of actual Bills or Amendments to Bills. What happened? It was a very remarkable result. Education was the first. Not merely did we present our alternative point of view, of popular control and the abolition of tests; we actually submitted Amendments in the previous Parliament which showed our point of view clearly to 152 the country. Then there were abolition of Plural Voting, the Licensing Bill—a much more drastic Licensing Bill than the one we introduced [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] Certainly ! The pledge given by Parliamentary candidates was a pledge which was much more drastic than our Bill. Taxation of Ground Values, including valuation; land reform, especially in Scotland; reversal of the Taff Vale judgment; then graduated Income Tax, which I think has been adopted since.
I take the contentious Bills and leave Welsh Disestablishment, because it was not dealt with. Those six measures, those six questions, were dealt with in the shape of Bills introduced on the authority of the Government and carried by large majorities, and what happened? Five out of the six were rejected by the House of Lords. In the previous Parliament two Bills, introduced in spite of pledges, the House of Lords let through. In the 1906 Parliament, after every notice was given to the electorate, after full explanation of the intentions of the Government, out of the Bills introduced five out of the six were thrown out. Now, really, I ask hon. Members opposite is that fair play?
What, therefore, is our proposition? It is this—not that we are dealing with s House of Lords upon a stale record of offences, but offences which are continuous and troubles long existing and growing worse. You cannot find in the whole history of Parliament any case as bad as 1906. In 1868 Mr. Gladstone came in with a great programme of reform. What happened to it? Undoubtedly it was mutilated. Some Bills were thrown out, but in the main, though in a mutilated form, the Bills which he put in his programme were carried through Parliament. In 1906 six of our Bills were thrown out, although the electorate had been consulted upon them. Who on the opposite side will get up and say that is fair? We ask for fair play. We ask for no more; we should be cravens to take less. The hon. Gentleman said, "Why do you not submit these proposals to the electorate?" Now I think that is very mean, and I will say why. Every Tory Parliament is, and is rightly allowed, to develop its programme as a whole, and it will present it as a whole to the electorate. It comes in for six years' work, and it is fair to judge of that work as a complete whole. You cannot judge an edifice merely by one part of the building which has been only half 153 erected; you must judge your edifice as a whole, and a Tory Parliament presents all its Bills, and is not called upon to go to the country after merely one brick has been put there or merely one aisle has been set up. It is allowed to develop the whole of its policy, the first year one Bill, the second year a second Bill, and the third year a third Bill. The whole of their policy is set up, and then they go to the country and say: "See what we have done, judge us by our whole performance and not by a part." Now what happens under a Liberal Government? Are we allowed to develop our Bills or our policy, although we have consulted the country upon them? On the contrary our Bills are simply mutilated and soiled fragments, because the House of Lords tears them and rends them and flings them out.
Then at the end what do we hear on every platform? Taunts: "What have the Liberals done?" I think that is a perfectly fair point Every party and every Government has got occasion to legislate in measures which only interest sections of the community. That is bound to be the case. There are very few Bills that interest the whole of the community. There are constantly Bills which deal with the interests of a section, and in the main interest that section only. What happens with a Liberal Government? Unless a Liberal Government has got a measure that not merely interests the whole of the community, but is immediately overwhelmingly popular—there is no time to develop it, no time to clear away misunderstandings by seeing the thing in actual working—it must be immediately and overwhelmingly popular, otherwise it is thrown out. Is that fair as between the two points of view which, after all, are permanent points of view in the government of this country? Take those five Bills I mentioned. I am told, "Oh, well, but you could go to the country, and, if you are returned a second time, you can carry those Bills." Would the Plural Voting Bill go through the House of Lords now? I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition said anything. If so, I was interested in that interruption, because I know whatever he says with regard to what happens in the other House is authoritative. Even his gentlest whisper on a matter of that kind is of the most enormous importance. Here is a Bill carried by the late Parliament thrown out by the House of Lords. There is undoubtedly a majority for the same Bill in this Parliament. I ask again: 154 Is there anyone on the other side who is prepared to say that if that Bill were sent up to them a second time the House of Lords would carry it through? If not, what becomes of the theory that upon a second election you ought to get all your Bills through?
Let is work out this theory of an election upon every Bill. What does it mean? We had the Plural Voting Bill in 1906. It was beaten. We ought, according to the theory, to have gone to the country at once on that. Having got our majority, I presume the Bill would have gone through. [An HON. MEMBER: "No."] Really that interruption shows what an imperative demand there is for settling this question, because the claims of the Lords and of their friends are growing. Next we should have brought in the Education Bill. That would have been thrown out.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
The Noble Lord is perfectly wrong. After all, he must remember that the Bill in its final form left this House with the whole of the Irish votes behind it. Therefore, he has no warrant at all for that statement. The Education Bill thrown out, we appeal again to the country. The next year the Scottish Land Bill is thrown out, and we appeal to the country. The Valuation Bill —appeal to the country. The Licensing Bill thrown out—another appeal to the country. Then the Budget is thrown out, and another appeal to the country. The London Elections Bill—another appeal to the country. This is not only to be an annual Parliament, but, when the Liberals are in office, it is to be a quarterly Parliament.
Why, the position is a perfectly intolerable one. With a Liberal party representing more than half the nation, more than half the electorate of Great Britain, we are bound to bring this to an immediate issue. Any hesitation, or indecision, or procrastination would be fatal, and it would only be a sham if the Liberal Government were to be content to send their Bills to the House of Lords and simply to pick up the crumbs they allowed to fall from their table. The hon. Gentleman said we were bound to give power to the Second Chamber in order to increase the security of property and the principles on which the prosperity of the realm were founded. We have always had that sort of talk about other Liberal Bills that have 155 been introduced into the House of Commons. We had it on the Budget of 1853. I was rather interested when I read the things said as to the Budget of that year. It was then said that the whole Budget of the Chancellor of the Exchequer was "a war against property." That was the Budget of Mr. Gladstone, and it was added:—It may be popular in some quarters, but I feel sure it will be productive of hardship and injustice, the effects of which may be felt to an extent of which he has no present conception.And what about the language used as to the Reform Bill? It was—a blow at the foundation of civilised society.''That was the description given of it by Mr. Croker, and the croakers of to-day use the same language. I was reading a very interesting speech by the Leader of the Opposition on the Land Bill of 1881. He said it was Socialism. The right hon. Gentleman is very consistent. I was amazed to find, on reading his speech, how very consistent he is. There is a very interesting reference to peasant proprietary by no means irrelevant to the present position. The right hon. Gentleman said that from an economic point of view it was not of much good, but there was much to be said for it from a political point of view. He added that if we were to be governed by a mob it was as well to have a mob on both sides. All these arguments about Socialism, confiscation, destruction of the foundations of society, etc., have been simply the stock-in-trade of the Tory Opposition to every Liberal Bill from the Reform Bill downwards. After all, there is no real dread or fear of confiscation: it may be the dream of the extreme Socialist; it is the nightmare of the extreme Tory. The hon. and learned Member for Kingston (Mr. Cave) in one of the speeches with which he interests the House and illuminates the subject under Debate said ha had consulted an ingenious friend who had drafted four Budgets—the first taxed away the land, the second mines, the third railways, and the fourth liquor. After all, that is supposing that you get a party in this country which I will not say drives its principles to an extreme, but which will go right over the precipice. I might really do the same thing as the hon. Gentleman, and suppose that his party may be bitten with the rabies of reaction— he may depend upon it that if he gets a House of Commons bitten that way the House of Lords will be much worse—and 156 ask what will happen then. He need not then employ the services of his ingeniousfriends in the Temple, because any ordinary barrister's clerk could easily frame a Bill reimposing the tests and abolishing all the Acts of Parliament which confer liberty upon the subject. That could easily be done. Why should he presuppose that all the Liberal party should be seized with this desire for spoliation? We might just as well accuse all the Tory party of having been bitten by this desire for reactionary legislation. There is no danger of that kind. When people are bent on revolution in this country, if they were to return to the House of Commons men who would carry four Budgets of that kind abolishing private property in mines, railways, and land—
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
I never said that. I was referring purely to the question of landlords who were holding up their property unduly, and I have always held that the effect of a tax of that kind would be to tax that class out of existence. That is a very different thing. As for taxing the landlord out of existence, I have never put a penny-piece on agricultural land in my Budget. On the contrary, I was the first, or at least the second— the first being also a Liberal Chancellor— to make a liberal allowance in my Budget under Schedule A to the extent of £500,000 or £600,000 a year in respect of the burden upon land. But the Noble Lord has taken me away from my answer to the hon. and learned Member for Kingston, and the point which I was putting was this, that if you get a House of Commons returned with sentiments so revolutionary that it is prepared to abolish private property in matters of land and all other kinds of property, they will not resort to the cumbrous methods of Budgets. In revolutions they use sharper and more revolutionary measures than Budgets, and if there is a revolutionary temper of that kind in this country what use would be the Veto of the House of Lords? Of what use was the Veto of the King in France? It simply exasperated and inflamed the sentiment. [Earl WINTERTON: "No."] The Noble Lord gets very excited about it, but I am dealing with an argument on his own side, seriously advanced by a really able man. If there were a temper of that kind in this country the Veto of the House of Lords would be of no more use than if you were to set up a wooden fence 157 against a river of molten lava. That represents a volcanic state of society where you confiscate all property, and vetoes and mere arrangements of the Constitution are no use against conditions of that kind. There have only been three or four great confiscations in this country and they have all enriched the aristocracy and impoverished the people. I agree that you have to treat the argument dealing with the Constitution as a historical argument, and if you are talking about spoliation and the danger of spoliation we must really go to the experience of history in this country. The great acts of spoliation by Act of Parliament have been the spoiling of the monasteries, the settlement of Ireland, and the enclosure of the commons. There was nothing which I thought more significant and at the same time more entertaining than to hear men calling the poor ½d. tax of the Budget robbery who had inherited the whole of their fortune from these great Acts.
The present system is essentially an unfair one. Hon. Members opposite say we treat Members of the House of Lords as if they were monsters. Nothing of the kind. All we say is they are just average human nature. They are strong party men. You call upon them to exercise judicial functions. It is too much to expect of them. There is no greater injustice you can inflict upon a. man or an assembly than to judge him by too high a standard, and that is the injustice which hon. Members opposite are inflicting on the House of Lords. They are not merely ordinary party men. They are strong party men. They are leading party men. They are members of political organisations, they are presidents of Conservative Associations, they take a leading part in the contests of their counties and in the choosing of candidates, and in the House of Lords they vote the ordinary party ticket. Measures which come before them they take a leading part in the country in attacking. How can you expect them to exercise the same sort of judicial functions as a jury who take no interest at all in the matter in controversy? It cannot be done, and they will not do it. I agree that to treat them as if they were worse than other people may be pure demagogy, but at the same time to say that they are above all party ties is utter snobbery. Look at the case of Lord Torphichen. That is the case which brings it up to date.
158 What happened there? Really, it is a case of extraordinary importance in view of the claim put forward by the Lords of being an impartial body. Here was one Scottish representative peer who voted for the Budget, and although Scotland declared by a majority of 61 to 11—six to one in favour of the Budget—the Scottish peers would not allow a single one of their body to go to the House of Lords and vote for it. They are worse than the Moderates of the London County Council. I believe there is this, excuse for them, that thèy had no majority, and therefore they had to get an artificial one. But here they had a majority of something like ten to one in the House of Lords, and they would not allow a single man from Scotland to go there and vote for the Liberal Government. That is sheer intolerance. And this is the impartial body to which we are to submit measures which the House of Commons has approved of by an enormous majority ! We are expecting too much. The hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Bonar Law) asked, What are you going to do about reform? He said, "You are going about it in the wrong way, and you ought to bring in your reform measures first." I do not agree with the hon. Gentleman. What sort of reform would you get from the House of Lords unless we have real power in our hands to carry it through t It is the sort of reform suggested by the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University (Lord Hugh Cecil)— 350 hereditary peers out of 400. I can assure hon. Gentlemen that our way is the only way to get a fair reform of the Constitution. I think it was the right hon. Gentleman the Member for St. George, Hanover Square (Mr. Lyttelton), who protested against the severe things which have been said against the House of Lords, but nothing has been said more severe than the tone and temper of the remarks of the hon. Member for Dulwich in reference to the people. He has no trust of the people of this country. We have heard about the tyranny of the House of Commons. Well, I am not going to say that the House of Commons in the course of a long and great history have not been guilty of tyrannical acts and arbitrary acts; but they have not been guilty of one in which they were not aided and instigated in that course by the House of Lords, and when they were corrected the correction invariably came from the people. Take the House of Commons as a whole, what measure of popular liberty we enjoy is due 159 to the exertions of this House—exertions in which the House of Lords can claim no real partnership, because there is hardly one which the House of Lords has not obstructed and delayed whenever it could successfully do so. This is the House to which we owe the right of self-government of the people. The great right of withholding Supply until redress of grievances be given, freedom of conscience, freedom of speech, and the guardianship of the State for the broken and the aged are all due to the efforts of the House of Commons. It is the greatest tribunal of justice in the world, and I say that any Member who has his name on the roll of the House ought to feel proud that he has got his name inscribed there. To attack it is treason to the democracy. The Noble Lord (Lord Hugh Cecil) compared the British Constitution in a very exquisite peroration, if he will allow me to say so, to a great temple, and he appealed to
§ every Member of this House, instead of destroying this temple, rather to seek a niche or a pedestal in some corner of it. I think that is a very laudable ambition, and a very honourable one. But after all, the object of the Constitution is not to shed lustre on those who work it. It is rather to bless the land and the people whose sacrifices have raised the edifice and maintained and extended its glory. And it is because I fervently believe in my heart that the power of the House of Lords stands between the people and the blessings of free institutions that I commend this Resolution as the first step towards removing the Veto of that House from the fabric of the British Constitution.
§ Question put, "That the Question be now put."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 358; Noes, 252.163
|Division No. 10.]||AYES.||[11.35 p.m.|
|Abraham, William||Buxton, Rt. Hon. S. C. (Poplar)||Elverston, Harold|
|Addison, Dr. Christopher||Byles, William Pollard||Esmonde, Sir Thomas|
|Adkins, W. Ryland D.||Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Esslemont, George Birnie|
|Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R.||Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Falconer, James|
|Agnew, George William||Chancellor, Henry George||Farrell, James Patrick|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Channing, Sir Francis Allston||Fenwick, Charles|
|Alden, Percy||Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Ferens, Thomas Robinson|
|Allen, Charles Peter||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Ferguson, Ronald C. Munro|
|Anderson, Andrew Macbeth||Clancy, John Joseph||French, Peter|
|Armitage, Robert||Clough, William||Field, William|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Clynes, John R.||Flavin, Michael Joseph|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Collins, Godfrey P. (Greenock)||France, Gerald Ashburner|
|Atherley-Jones, Llewelyn A.||Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Furness, Sir Christopher|
|Baker, Harold T. (Accrington)||Collins, Sir Wm. J. (St. Pancras, W.)||Gelder, Sir William Alfred|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||Compton-Rickett. Sir J.||Gibbins, F. W.|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Condon, Thomas Joseph||Gibson, James Puckering|
|Barclay, Sir Thomas||Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Gill, Alfred Henry|
|Barlow, Sir John Emmott||Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Glanville, Harold James|
|Barnes, George N.||Cory Sir Clifford John||Glover, Thomas|
|Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick B.)||Cowan, William Henry||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford|
|Barran, Rowland Hirst (Leeds, N.)||Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Greenwood, Granville George|
|Barry, Edward (Cork, S.)||Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||Greig, Colonel James William|
|Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.)||Crosfield, A. H.||Grenfell, Cecil Alfred|
|Barton, William||Crossley, William J.||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward|
|Beale, William Phipson||Cullinan, John||Gulland, John William|
|Belloc, Hilaire Joseph Peter R.||Da'ziel, Sir James H. (Kirkcaldy)||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)|
|Benn, W. (Tower Hamlets, S. Geo.)||Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||Hackett, John|
|Bentham, George Jackson||Davies, Ellis William (Elfion)||Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.|
|Bethell, Sir John Henry||Davies, M. Vaughan (Cardigan)||Hall, F. (Yorks, Normanton)|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Hancock, John George|
|Black, Arthur W.||Dawes, James Arthur||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale)|
|Boland, John||Delany, William||Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Bottomley, Horatio||Denman, Han. Richard Douglas||Harmsworth, R. Leicester|
|Bowerman, Charles W.||Devlin, Joseph||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)|
|Bowles, Thomas Gibson||Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.)||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)|
|Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)||Dewar, Sir J. A. (Inverness-shire)||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Brace, William||Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N.)||Harwood, George|
|Brady, Patrick Joseph||Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)|
|Brigg, Sir John||Donelan, Captain A.||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)|
|Brocklehurst, William B.||Doris, William||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry|
|Brunner. John F. L.||Duffy, William J.||Haworth, Arthur A.|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Hayden, John Patrick|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley)||Hayward, Evan|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||Hazleton, Richard|
|Buxton, C. R. (Devon, Mid)||Edwards, Enoch||Healy, Timothy Michael|
|Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, N.)||Ellis, Rt. Hon. John Edward||Helme, Norval Watson|
|Hemmerde, Edward George||Muldoon, John||Scott, A. H. (Ashton-under-Lyne)|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Munro, Robert||Seddon, James A.|
|Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)||Murray, Capt. Hon. Arthur C.||Seely, Col., Right Hon. J. E. B.|
|Henry, Charles Solomon||Muspratt, Max||Shackleton, David James|
|Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor (Mon. S.)||Nannetti, Joseph P.||Shaw, Sir Charles Edward|
|Higham, John Sharp||Neilson, Francis||Sheehy, David|
|Hindle, Frederick George||Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncaster)||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.||Nolan, Joseph||Shortt, Edward|
|Hogan, Michael||Norton, Capt. Cecil W.||Simon, John Allsebrook|
|Holt, Richard Durning||Nugent, Sir Walter Richard||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leltrim, S.)|
|Hooper, Arthur George||Nussey, Sir T. Willans||Snowden, Philip|
|Hope, John Deans (Fife, West)||Nuttall, Harry||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Horne, Charles Silvester (Ipswich)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Soares, Ernest Joseph|
|Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Spicer, Sir Albert|
|Hudson, Walter||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N.W.)|
|Hughes, Spencer Leigh||O'Doherty, Philip||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Hunter, Wm. (Lanark, Govan)||O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S.)||Summers, James Woolley|
|Illingworth, Percy H.||O'Donnell, Thomas (Kerry, W.)||Sutherland, John E.|
|Isaacs, Sir Rufus Daniel||O'Dowd, John||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Jardine, Sir John (Roxburghshire)||Ogden, Fred||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Johnson, William||O'Grady, James||Tennant, Harold John|
|Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)||O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)|
|Jones, Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||O'Malley, William||Thomas, James Henry (Derby)|
|Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Jowett, Frederick William||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Tomkinson, Rt. Hon. James|
|Joyce, Michael||O'Shee, James John||Toulmin, George|
|Kelly, Edward||O'Sullivan, Eugene||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Kemp, Sir George||Palmer, Godfrey Mark||Twist, Henry|
|Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Parker, James (Halifax)||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Kettle, Thomas Michael||Pearce, William||Verney, Frederick William|
|Kilbride, Denis||Pearson, Weetman H. M.||Vivian, Henry|
|King, Joseph (Somerset, N.)||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A.||Wadsworth, John|
|Lambert, George||Philipps, Col. Ivor (Southampton)||Walker, H. de R. (Leicester)|
|Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||Philipps, Sir O. C. (Pembroke)||Walsh, Stephen|
|Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, W.)||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)||Walters, John Tudor|
|Layland-Barratt, Sir Francis||Pickersgill, Edward Hare||Walton, Joseph|
|Leach, Charles||Pointer, Joseph||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Lehmann, Rudolf C.||Pollard, Sir George H.||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Levy, Sir Maurice||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Wardle, George J.|
|Lewis, John Herbert||Power, Patrick Joseph||Waring, Walter|
|Lincoln, Ignatius Timothy T.||Price, C. E (Edinburgh, Central)||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Priestley, Arthur (Grantham)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Low, Sir Frederick (Norwich)||Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)||Waterlow, David Sydney|
|Lundon, Thomas||Primrose, Hon. Neil James||Watt, Henry A.|
|Luttrell, Hugh Fownes||Pringle, William M. R.||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Lynch, Arthur Alfred||Radford, George Heynes||Weir, James Galloway|
|Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Raffan, Peter Wilson||White, Sir George (Norfolk)|
|Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Rainy, Adam Rolland||White, J. Dundas (Dumbartonshire)|
|Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Raphael, Herbert Henry||White, Sir Luke (Yorks, E.R.)|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Rea, Walter Russell||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|M'Callum, John M.||Reddy, Michael||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|M'Curdy, Charles Albert||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|M'Kenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Redmond, William (Clare, E.)||Whyte, Alexander F. (Perth)|
|M'Laren, F. W. S. (Lincs., Spalding)||Rees, J. D.||Wiles, Thomas|
|Mallet, Charles Edward||Rendall, Athelstan||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Manfield, Harry||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Williams, Aneurin (Plymouth)|
|Marks, George Croydon||Roberts, George H. (Norwich)||Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)|
|Martin, Joseph||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs.)||Williams, W. L. (Carmarthen)|
|Masterman, C. F. G.||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)||Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)|
|Meagher, Michael||Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W.R.)|
|Meehan, Francis E. (Leltrim, N.)||Robinson, Sidney||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestershire, N.)|
|Meehan, Patrick A. (Queen's County)||Robson, sir William Snowdon||Wilson, T. F. (Lanark, N.E.)|
|Menzies, Sir Walter||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Middlebrook, William||Roche, Augustine (Cork)||Winfrey, Richard|
|Millar, James Duncan||Roche, John (Galway, East)||Wing, Thomas Henry|
|Molloy, Michael||Roe, Sir Thomas||Wood, T. M'Kinnon (Glasgow)|
|Molteno, Percy Alport||Rowntree, Arnold||Young, William (Perth, East)|
|Mond, Alfred Moritz||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter||Younger, W. (Peebles and Selkirk)|
|Montagu, Hon. E. S.||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Mooney, John J.||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Master|
|Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||Scanlan, Thomas||of Ellbank and Mr. Fuller.|
|Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Schwann, sir Charles E.|
|Acland-Hood, Rt. Hon. Sir Alex. F.||Attenborough, Walter Annis||Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City Lond.)|
|Adam, Major William A.||Bagot, Colonel Josceline||Banbury, Sir Frederick George|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Baird, John Lawrence||Banner, John S. Harmood-|
|Arbuthnot, Gerald A.||Baker, Sir Randolf L. (Dorset, N.)||Baring, Capt. Hon. Guy Victor|
|Archer-Shee, Major Martin||Balcarres, Lord||Barnston, Harry|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Baldwin, Stanley||Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)|
|Bathurst, Hon. Allen S. (Glouc. E.)||Gouiding, Edward Alfred||Nicholson, Wm. G. (Petersfield)|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Grant, James Augustus||Norton-Griffiths, J. (Wednesbury)|
|Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Greene, Walter Raymond||O'Neill, Hon. A. E. B. (Antrim, Mid)|
|Beckett, Hon. William Gervase||Gretton, John||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.|
|Benn, Ion Hamilton (Greenwich)||Guinness, Hon. Walter Edward||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish-||Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)||Paget, Almeric Hugh|
|Beresford, Lord Charles||Haddock, George Baker||Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravesend)|
|Bird, Alfred||Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight)||Parkes, Ebenezer|
|Boyton, James||Hall, M. (Liverpool, East Toxteth)||Peel, Capt. R. F. (Woodbridge)|
|Brackenbury, Henry Langton||Hambro, Angus Valdemar||Peel, Hon. Wm. R. W. (Taunton)|
|Brassey, H. L. C. (Nerthants, N.)||Hamersley, Alfred St. George||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Brassey, Capt. R. (Oxon, Banbury)||Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington)||Pete, Basil Edward|
|Bridgeman, William Cllve||Hamilton, Marquess of (Londonderry)||Pollock, Ernest Murray|
|Brunskill, Gerald Fitzgibbon||Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashford)||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Bull, Sir William James||Harris, F. L. (Tower Hamlets, Stepney)||Proby, Col. Douglas James|
|Burdett-Coutts, William||Harris, H. P. (Paddington, S.)||Quitter, William Eley C.|
|Burgoyne, Alan Hughes||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Randies, Sir John Scurrah|
|Butcher, John George (York)||Heath, Col. Arthur Howard||Rankin, Sir James|
|Butcher, S. H. (Cambridge University)||Heaton, John Henniker||Ratcliff, Major R. F.|
|Calley, Col. Thomas C. P.||Helmsley, Viscount||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. H. M.||Henderson, H. G. H. (Berkshire)||Rawson, Col. Richard H.|
|Carlile, Edward Hildred||Hermon-Hodge, Sir Robert T.||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H.||Hickman,. Colonel Thomas E.||Rice, Hon. Walter Fitz-Uryan|
|Castiereagh, Viscount||Hill, Sir Clement L. (Shrewsbury)||Ridley, Samuel Forde|
|Cater, John||Hillier, Dr. Alfred Peter||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesalt)|
|Cave, George||Hoare, Samuel John Gurney||Rolleston, Sir John|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Hohier, Gerald Fitzroy||Ronaldshay, Earl of|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University)||Hope, Harry (Bute)||Rothschild, Lionel de|
|Chaloner, Col. R. G. W.||Hope, James Fltzalan (Sheffield)||Royds, Edmund|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worc'r.)||Home, William E. (Surrey, Guildford)||Rutherford, William Watson|
|Chambers, James||Horner, Andrew Long||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Clay, Captain H. H. Spender||Houston, Robert Paterson||Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)|
|Clive, Percy Archer||Hunt, Rowland||Sanders, Robert Arthur|
|Coates, Major Edward F.||Hunter, Sir Chas. Rodk. (Bath)||Sanderson, Lancelot|
|Colefax, Henry Arthur||Jackson, Sir John (Devonport)||Sandys, G. J. (Somerset, Wells)|
|Compton, Lord Alwyne (Brentford)||Jackson, John A. (Whitehaven)||Sandys, Lt.-Col. T. M. (Bootie)|
|Cooper, Capt. Bryan R. (Dublin, S.)||Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, East)||Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert|
|Cooper, Richard Ashmole (Walsall)||Kerr-Smiley, Peter Kerr||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Courthope, George Loyd||Kerry, Earl of||Smith, F. E. (Liverpool, Walton)|
|Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.)||Keswick, William||Stanier, Beville|
|Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Kimber, Sir Henry||Stanley, Hon. Arthur (Ormskirk)|
|Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||King, Sir Henry Seymour (Hull)||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Starkey, John Ralph|
|Cripps, Sir Charles Alfred||Kirkwood, John H. M.||Staveley-Hill, Henry (Staffordshire)|
|Croft, Henry Page||Knight, Capt. Eric Ayshford||Steel-Maitland, A. D.|
|Dairymple, Viscount||Knott, James||Stewart, Gershom (Ches. Wirral)|
|Dalziel, D. (Brixton)||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Stewart, Sir M'T. (Kirkcudbrightsh.)|
|Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. S. (Glasgow, E.)||Law, Andrew Bonar (Dulwich)||Storey, Samuel|
|Dixon, Charles Harvey (Boston)||Lawson, Hon. Harry||Strauss, Arthur|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Lee, Arthur Hamilton||Sykes, Alan John|
|Du Cros, A. (Tower Hamlets, Bow)||Lewisham, Viscount||Terrell, George (Wilts, N.W.)|
|Du Cros, Arthur P. (Hastings)||Liewelyn, Major Venables||Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)|
|Duke, Henry Edward||Lloyd, George Ambrose||Thompson, Robert|
|Duncannon, Viscount||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Thynne, Lord Alexander|
|Dunn, Sir W. H. (Southwark, W.)||Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsay)||Tobin, Alfred Aspinall|
|Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A. R.||Tryon, Capt. George Clement|
|Faber, George D. (Clapham)||Long, Rt Hon. Walter||Tullibardine, Marquess of|
|Faber, Capt. W. V. (Hants, W.)||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Verrall, George Henry|
|Falle, Bertram Godfrey||Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)||Walker, Col. W. H. (Lancashire)|
|Fell, Arthur||Lytteiton, Rt. Hn. A. (S. Get., Han. Sq.)||Walrond, Hon. Lionel|
|Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||Lytteiton, Hon. J. C. (Droitwlch)||Ward, A. S. (Herts, Watford)|
|Finlay, Sir Robert||MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|Fisher, William Hayes||Mackinder, Halford J.||Wheler, Granvilie C. H.|
|Fitzroy, Hon. Edward A.||Macmaster, Donald||White, Major C. D. (Lanes. Southport)|
|Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue||M'Arthur, Charles||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Fleming, Valentine||Magnus, Sir Philip||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claude|
|Fletcher, John Samuel||Mallaby-Deeley. Harry||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Forster, Henry William||Mason, James F.||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E.R.)|
|Fester, Harry S. (Lowestoft)||Meysey-Thompson, E. C.||Winterton, Earl|
|Foster, John K. (Coventry)||Mildmay, Francis Blngham||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Fetter, Philip S. (Warwick, S.W.)||Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Gardner, Ernest||Mitchell, William Foot||Worthington-Evans, L. (Colchester)|
|Gastrell, Major W. Houghton||Morpeth, Viscount||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart|
|Gibbs, George Abraham||Morrison, Captain James A.||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Gilmour, Captain John||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.||Yerburgh, Robert|
|Goldman, Charles Sydney||Mount, William Archer||Younger, George (Ayr Burghs)|
|Goldsmith, Frank||Newdegate. F. A.|
|Gooch, Henry Cubitt||Newman, John R. P.||TELLERS FOH THE NOES.—Viscount|
|Gordon, John||Newton, Harry Kottingham||Valentia and Mr. J. W. Hills.|
§ Question put accordingly, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Question."164
§ The House divided: Ayes, 357; Noes, 251.169
|Division No. 11.]||AYES.||[11.45 p.m.|
|Abraham, William||Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, H.)||Jowett, Frederick William|
|Addison, Dr. Christopher||Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Joyce, Michael|
|Adkins, W. Ryland D.||Donelan, Captain A.||Kelly, Edward|
|Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R.||Doris, William||Kemp, Sir George|
|Agnew, George William||Duffy, William J.||Kennedy, Vincent Paul|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Duncan, C. (Barrow-ln-Furness)||Kettle, Thomas Michael|
|Alden, Percy||Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley)||Kilbride, Denis|
|Allen, Charles Peter||Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||King, Joseph (Somerset, N.)|
|Anderson, Andrew Macbeth||Edwards, Enoch||Lambert, George|
|Armitage, Robert||Ellis, Rt. Hon. John Edward||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Elverston, Harold||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, W.)|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Esmonde, Sir Thomas||Layland-Barratt, Sir Francis|
|Atherley-Jones, Liewelyn A.||Esslemont, George Birnie||Leach, Charles|
|Baker, Harold T. (Accrington)||Falconer, James||Lehmann, Rudolf, C.|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||Farrell, James Patrick||Levy, Sir Maurice|
|Baltour, Robert (Lanark)||Fenwick, Charles||Lewis, John Herbert|
|Barclay, Sir Thomas||Ferens, Thomas Robinson||Lincoln, Ignatius Timothy T.|
|Barlow, Sir John Emmott||Ferguson, Ronald C. Munro||Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David|
|Barnes, George N.||Ffrench, Peter||Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick B.)||Field, William||Low, Sir Frederick (Norwich)|
|Barran, Rowland Hirst (Leeds, N.)||Flavin, Michael Joseph||Lundon, Thomas:|
|Barry, Edward (Cork, S.)||France, Gerald Ashburner||Luttrell, Hugh Fownes|
|Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.)||Furness, Sir Christopher||Lynch, Arthur Alfred|
|Barton, William||Gelder, Sir William Alfred||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)|
|Beale, William Phipson||Gibbins, F. W.||Macdonald, J. M. (Falklrk Burghs)|
|Belloc, Hilaire Joseph Peter R.||Gibson, James Puckering||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.:|
|Benn, W. (Tower Hamlets, S. Geo.)||Gill, Alfred Henry||MacVeagh. Jeremiah -:|
|Bentham, George Jackson||Glanville, Harold James||M'Callum, John M.:|
|Bethell, Sir John Henry||Glover, Thomas||M'Curdy, Charles Albert|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||M'Kenna, Rt, Hon. Reginald|
|Black, Arthur W.||Greenwood, Granville George||M'Laren, F. W. S. (Line, Spalding)|
|Boland, John Pius||Greig, Colonel James William||Mallet, Charles Edward|
|Bottomley, Horatio||Grenfell, Cecil Alfred||Manfield, Harry|
|Bowerntan, Charles W.||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||Marks, George Croydon '|
|Bowles, Thomas Gibson||Gulland, John William||Martin, Joseph|
|Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||Masterman, C. F. G.|
|Brace, William||Hackett, John||Meagher, Michael|
|Brady, Patrick Joseph||Haidane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)|
|Brigg, Sir John||Hall, F. (Yorks, Normanton)||Meehan, Patrick A. (Queen's County)|
|Brocklehurst, William B.||Hancock, John George||Menzles, Sir Walter|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale)||Mlddlebrook, William|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)||Millar, James Duncan|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Harmswortb, R. Leicester||Molloy, Michael|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Molteno, Percy Alport|
|Buxton, C. R. (Devon, Mid)||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)||Mond, Alfred Moritz|
|Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, North)||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N.E.)||Montagu, Hon. E. S.|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. S. C. (Poplar).||Harwood, George||Mooney, John J.|
|Byles, William Pollard||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Morton, Alpheus Cleephas|
|Chancellor, Henry George||Haworth, Arthur A.||Muldoon, John|
|Channing, Sir Francis Allston||Hayden, John Patrick||Munro, Robert|
|Chappie, Dr. William Allen||Hayward, Evan||Murray, Captain Hon. Arthur C.|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Hazleton, Richard||Muspratt, Max|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Healy, Timothy Michael||Nannetti, Joseph P.|
|Clough, William||Helme, Norval Watson||Nellson, Francis|
|Clynes, John R.||Hemmerde, Edward George||Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncastar)|
|Collins, Godfrey P. (Greenock)||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Nolan, Joseph|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)||Norton, Capt. Cecil W.|
|Collins, Sir Wm. J. (St. Pancras, W.)||Henry, Charles Solomon||Nugent, Sir Walter Richard|
|Compton-Rickett, Sir J.||Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor (Mon. S.)||Nussey, Sir T. Willans|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Higham, John Sharp||Nuttall, Harry|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Hindle, Frederick George||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)|
|Cowan, William Henry||Hogan, Michael||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Holt, Richard Durning||O'Doherty, Philip|
|Crawshay-Willlams, Eliot||Hooper, Arthur George||O'Donncll, John (Mayo, S.)|
|Crosfield, Arthur H.||Hope, John Deans (Fife, West)||O'Donnell, Thomas (Kerry, W.)|
|Crossley, William J.||Home, Charles Silvester (Ipswich)||O'Dowd, John|
|Cullinan, John||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Ogden, Fred|
|Dalziel, Sir James H. (Kirkcaldy)||Hudson, Walter||O'Grady, James|
|Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||Hughes, Spencer Leigh||O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)|
|Davies, Ellis William (Eiflen)||Hunter, Wm. (Lanark, Govan)||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)|
|Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan)||Illingworth, Percy H.||O'Malley, William|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Isaacs, Sir Rufus Daniel||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)|
|Dawes, James Arthur||Jardine, Sir John (Roxburghshire)||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Delany, William||Johnson, William||O'Shee, James John|
|Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas||Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)||O'Sullivan, Eugene|
|Devlin, Joseph||Jones, Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Palmer, Godfrey Mark|
|Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh. S.)||Jones, Henry Hayden (Merioneth)||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Dewar, Sir J. A. (Inverness-shire)||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Pearce, William|
|Pearson, Weetman H. M.||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)||Walters, John Tudor|
|Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A.||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Walton, Joseph|
|Philipps, Col. Ivor (Southampton)||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Philipps, Sir O. C. (Pembroke)||Scanlan, Thomas||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Phillips, John (Longford, S.)||Schwann, Sir Charles E.||Wardle, George J|
|Pickersgill, Edward Hare||Scott, A. H. (Ashton-under-Lyne)||Waring, Walter|
|Pointer, Joseph||Seddon, James A.||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Pollard, Sir George H.||Seely, Col., Right Hon. J. E. B.||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Shackleton, David James||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Power, Patrick Joseph||Shaw, Sir Charles Edward||Waterlow, David Sydney|
|Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Sheehy, David||Watt, Henry A.|
|Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)||Sherwell, Arthur James||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Priestley, Arthur (Grantham)||Shortt, Edward||Weir, James Galloway|
|Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)||Simon, John Allsebrook||White, Sir George (Norfolk)|
|Primrose, Hon. Nell James||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)||White, J. Dundas (Dumbartonshire)|
|Pringle, William M. R.||Snowden, Philip||White, Sir Luke (Yorks, E.R.)|
|Radford, George Heynes||Soames, Arthur Wellesley||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Raffan, Peter Wilson||Soares, Ernest Joseph||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Rainy, Adam Rolland||Spicer, Sir Albert||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Raphael Herbert Henry||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N.W.)||Whyte, Alexander F. (Perth)|
|Rea, Waiter Russell||Strachey, Sir Edward||Wiles, Thomas|
|Reddy, Michael||Summers, James Wooley||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Sutherland, John E.||Williams, Aneurin (Plymouth)|
|Redmond, William (Clare, E.)||Taylor, John W. (Durham)||Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)|
|Rees, John David||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radclifte)||Williams, W. L. (Carmarthen)|
|Rendall, Athelstan||Tennant, Harold John||Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)|
|Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W.R.)|
|Roberts, George H. (Norwich)||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestershire, N.)|
|Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs.)||Thomas, James Henry (Derby)||Wilson, T. F. (Lanark, N.E.)|
|Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)||Tomkinson, Rt. Hon. James||Winfrey, Richard|
|Robinson, Sidney||Toulmin, George||Wing, Thomas Henry|
|Robson, Sir William Snowdon||Trevelyan, Charles Philips||Wood, T. M'Kinnon (Glasgow)|
|Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander||Young, William (Perth, East)|
|Roche, Augustine (Cork)||Verney, Frederick William||Younger, W. (Peebles and Selkirk)|
|Roche, John (Galway, East)||Vivian, Henry||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Roe, Sir Thomas||Wadsworth, John|
|Rowntree, Arnold||Walker, H. de R. (Leicester)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Master|
|Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter||Walsh, Stephen||of Elibank and Mr. Fuller.|
|Adam, Major William A.||Castlereagh, Viscount||Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Cator, John||Fleming, Valentine|
|Arbuthnot, Gerald A.||Cave, George||Fletcher, John Samuel|
|Archer-Shee, Major Martin||Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Forster, Henry William|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University)||Foster, Harry S. (Lowestoft)|
|Attenborough, Walter Annis||Chaloner, Col. R. G. W.||Foster, John K. (Coventry)|
|Bagot, Colonel Josceline||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worc'r.)||Foster, Philip S. (Warwick, S.W.)|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Chambers, James||Gardner, Ernest|
|Baker, Sir Randolf L. (Dorset, N.)||Clay, Captain, H. H. Spender||Gastrell, Major W. Houghton|
|Balcarres, Lord||Clive, Percy Archer||Gibbs, George Abraham|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Coates, Major Edward F.||Gilmour, Captain John|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City Lond.)||Colefax, Henry Arthur||Goldman, Charles Sydney|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Compton, Lord Alwyne (Brentford)||Goldsmith, Frank|
|Banner, John S. Harmood-||Cooper, Capt. Bryan R. (Dublin, S.)||Gooch, Henry Cubitt|
|Baring, Capt. Hon. Guy Victor||Cooper, Richard Ashmole (Walsall)||Gordon, John|
|Barnston, Harry||Courthope, George Loyd||Gouldlng, Edward Alfred|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.)||Grant, James Augustus|
|Bathurst, Hon. Allen B. (Glouc. E.)||Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Greene, Walter Raymond|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Gretton, John|
|Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Craik, Sir Henry||Guinness, Hon. Walter Edward|
|Beckett, Hon. William Gervase||Cripps, Sir Charles Alfred||Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)|
|Benn, Ion Hamilton (Greenwich)||Croft, Henry Page||Haddock, George Baker|
|Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish-||Dairymple, Viscount||Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight)|
|Beresford, Lord Charles||Dalziel, Davison (Brixton)||Hall, M. (Liverpool, East Toxteth)|
|Bird, Alfred||Dixon, Charles Harvey (Boston)||Hambro, Angus Valdemar|
|Boyton, J.||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Hamersley, Alfred St. George|
|Brackenbury, Henry Langton||Du Cros, A. (Tower Hamlets, Bow)||Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington)|
|Brassey, H. L. C. (Northants, N.)||Du Cros, Arthur P. (Hastings)||Hamilton, Marquis of (Londonderry)|
|Brassey, Capt. R. (Oxon, Banbury)||Duke, Henry Edward||Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashford)|
|Bridgeman, William Clive||Duncannon, Viscount||Harris, F. L. (Tower Hamlets, Stepney)|
|Brunskill, Gerald Fltzglbbon||Dunn, Sir W. H. (Southwark, W.)||Harris, H. p. (Paddington, S.)|
|Bull, Sir William James||Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.|
|Burdett-Coutts, William||Faber, George D. (Clapham)||Heath, Col. Arthur Howard|
|Burgoyne, Alan Hughes||Faber, Capt. W. V. (Hants, W.)||Heaton, John Henniker|
|Butcher, John George (York)||Falle, Bertram Godfray||Helmsley, Viscount|
|Butcher, S. H. (Camb. Univ.)||Fell, Arthur||Henderson, H. G H. (Berkshire)|
|Calley, Col Thomas C. P.||Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||Hermon-Hodge, Sir Robert T.|
|Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. H. M.||Finlay, Sir Robert||Hickman, Colonel Thomas E.|
|Carllie, Edward Hildred||Fisher, William Hayes||Hill, Sir Clement L. (Shrewsbury)|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H.||Fitzroy, Hon. Edward A.||Hillier, Dr. Alfred Peter|
|Hills, John Walter (Durham)||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Sandys, Lt.-Col. T. M. (Bootle)|
|Hoare, Samuel John Gurney||Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas||Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert|
|Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Mitchell, William Foot||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Hope, Harry (Bute)||Morpeth, Viscount||Smith, F. E. (Liverpool, Walton)|
|Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Morrison, Captain James A.||Stanier, Seville|
|Horne, William E. (Surrey, Guildford)||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.||Stanley, Hon. Arthur (Ormskirk)|
|Horner, Andrew Long||Mount, William Arthur||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Houston, Robert Paterson||Newdegate, F. A. N.||Starkey, John Ralph|
|Hunt, Rowland||Newman, John R. P.||Staveley-Hill, Henry (Staffordshire)|
|Hunter, Sir Chas. Rodk. (Bath)||Nawton, Harry Kottingham||Steel-Maitland, A. D.|
|Jackson, Sir John (Devonport)||Nicholson, Wm. G. (Petersfield)||Stewart, Gershom (Ches. Wirral)|
|Jackson, John A. (Whitehaven)||Norton-Griffiths, J. (Wednesbury)||Stewart, Sir M'T. (Kikcudbrightsh.)|
|Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, East)||O'Neill, Hon. A. E. B. (Antrim, Mid.)||Storey, Samuel|
|Kerr-Smiley, Peter Kerr||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.||Strauss, Arthur|
|Kerry, Earl of||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Terrell, George (Wilts, N.W.)|
|Keswick, William||Paget, Almeric Hugh||Sykes, Alan John|
|Kimber, Sir Henry||Parker, Sir Gilbert (Gravespnd)||Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)|
|King, Sir Henry Seymour (Hull)||Parkes, Ebenezer||Thompson, Robert|
|Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Peel, Capt. R. F. (Woodbrldge)||Thynne, Lord Alexander|
|Kirkwood, John H. M.||Peel, Hon. Wm. R. W. (Taunton)||Tobin, Alfred Aspinall|
|Knight, Capt. Eric Ayshford||Perkins, Walter Frank||Tryon, Capt. George Clement|
|Knott, James||Peto, Basil Edward||Tullibardine, Marquess of|
|Lane-Fox, G. R.||Pollock, Ernest Murray||Verrall, George Henry|
|Law, Andrew Bonar (Dulwich)||Pretyman, Ernest George||Walker, Col. W. H. (Lancashire)|
|Lawson, Hon. Harry||Proby, Col. Douglas James||Walrond, Hon. Lionel|
|Lee, Arthur Hamilton.||Quitter, William Eley C.||Ward, A. S. (Herts, Watford)|
|Lewisham, Viscount||Randies, Sir John Scurrah||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|Liewelyn, Major Venables||Rankin, Sir James||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Lloyd, George Ambrose||Ratcliff, Major R. F.||White, Major G. D. (Lane. Southport)|
|Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsay)||Rawson, Col. Richard H.||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claude|
|Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A. R.||Remnant, James Farquharson||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Long, Rt Hon. Walter||Rice, Hon. Walter Fitz-Uryan||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E.R.)|
|Lonsdale, John Brownies||Ridley, Samuel Forde||Winterton, Earl|
|Lowe, Sir F. w. (Birm., Edgbaston)||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Lyttelton, Rt. Hn. A. (S. Geo., Han. Sq.)||Rolleston, Sir John||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droitwich)||Ronaldshay, Earl of||Worthington-Evans, L. (Colchester)|
|MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh||Rothschild, Lionel de||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Mackinder, Halford J.||Royds, Edmund||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Macmaster, Donald||Rutherford, William Watson||Yerburgh, Robert|
|M'Arthur, Charles||Salter, Arthur Clavell||Younger, George (Ayr Burghs)|
|Magnus, Sir Philip||Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)|
|Mallaby-Deeley, Harry||Sanders, Robert Arthur||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Sir A.|
|Mason, James F.||Sanderson, Lancelot||Acland-Hood and Viscount Valentia.|
|Meysey-Thompson, E. C.||Sandys, G. J. (Somerset, Wells)|
§ Main Question put, and agreed to.
§ Resolved, "That this House will immediately resolve itself into Committee to consider the Relations between the Two Houses of Parliament and the question of the Duration of Parliament."—[The Prime Minister.]
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
had given the following notice: On going into Committee on Relations between the Two Houses and Duration of Parliament, to move, "That it be an Instruction to the Committee that they have power to consider the question of the constitution of either House of Parliament and the expediency of establishing organic constitutional laws."
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The Instruction standing in the name of the hon. Member for Central Sheffield proposes to empower the Committee to consider two other questions, but they are both matters beyond the scope of the Resolutions referred to the Committee, and the Instruction is therefore out of order.