§ (1) If a Money Bill, having been passed by the House of Commons, and sent up to the House of Lords at least one month before the end of the Session, is not passed by the House of Lords without Amendment within one month after it is so sent up to that House, the Bill shall, unless the House of Commons direct to the contrary, be presented to His Majesty and become an Act of Parliament on the Royal Assent being signified, notwithstanding that the House of Lords have not consented to the Bill.
§ (2) A Money Bill means a Bill which in the opinion of the Speaker of the House of Commons contains only provisions dealing with all or any of the following subjects—namely, the imposition, repeal, remission, alteration, or regulation of taxation; charges on the Consolidated Fund or the provision of money by Parliament; Supply; the appropriation, control, or regulation of public money; the raising or guarantee of any loan or the repayment thereof; or matters incidental to those subjects or any of them.253
§ (3) When a Bill to which the House of Lords has not consented is presented to His Majesty for assent as a Money Bill, the Bill shall be accompanied by a certificate of the Speaker of the House of Commons that it is a Money Bill.
§ (4) No amendment shall be allowed to a Money Bill which, in the opinion of the Speaker of the House of Commons, is such as to prevent the Bill retaining the character of a Money Bill.
§ The CHAIRMAN
The Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for Central Sheffield (Mr. James Hope) is next in order, but I understand there is an arrangement that the Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for Kingston (Mr. Cave) is going to be moved by the hon. Member for Warwick and Leamington (Mr. Pollock).
I am not quite sure that I apprehend the particular point to which my hon. Friend the Member for Central Sheffield wishes to draw attention as distinguished from the broad issue to be raised by the Amendment of my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kingston. All I have in mind is the arrangement which was made last night, and as there are two very big questions to be dealt with I hope an Amendment moved apart from those two questions will be kept within very narrow limits.
§ The CHAIRMAN
If the hon. Member for Central Sheffield moves the Amendment standing in his name I do not see how I can allow the Amendment standing in the name of the hon. Member for Kingston to be moved later.
§ Mr. POLLOCK
On behalf of my hon. Friend the Member for Kingston I desire to move the Amendment standing in his name after the second "Bill" ["(2) A Money Rill means a Bill"] to insert the words "which provides for the imposition of taxation, or for the appropriation of revenue or moneys for the ordinary annual services of the Crown and". After moving this Amendment there will be no necessity for me to move the one which stands in my name earlier on the Paper to insert the words "of Aid or Supply." When this Amendment has been inserted the Subsection will read:—
254 "(2) A Money Bill means a Public Bill, which provides for the imposition of taxation or for the appropriation of revenue or moneys for the ordinary annual services of the Crown."
I desire, first of all, to point out that a large number of hon. Members in this House consider that some such words as these are necessary, and ought to be inserted in this Sub-section, which is a definition Clause. We have already passed the first Sub-section, which calls the Bill a Money Bill. Now we come to the definition and the definition given in Sub-section 2 is a very wide one. It reads:—
"(2) A Money Bill means a public Bill which in the opinion of Speaker of the House of Commons contains only provisions dealing with all or any of the following subjects, namely, the imposition, repeal, remission, alteration, or regulation of taxation; charges on the Consolidated Fund or the provision of money by Parliament; Supply; the appropriation, control, or regulation of public money; the raising or guarantee of any loan or the repayment thereof; or matters incidental to those subjects or any of them."
I think the Committee will appreciate that with a long table of that sort a Money Bill is a very inclusive sort of measure. That provision contains words of very great width indeed. Take one sentence contained in the Sub-section as follows: "the appropriation, control, or regulation of public money." Those are words which cover a very large field and range over almost the entire area of finance. If that be the meaning of a Money Bill, surely some further definition is necessary. As I endeavoured to explain last night, a Money Bill is a term which has not hitherto been used in any statute, although it occurs in the text books. I do not think it has got any present definition at all. The Committee is therefore being asked to use a term which had not yet been defined, and which has at present an absolute freedom from definition. On the other hand, as the Home Secretary pointed out last night, it is quite easy to find in text books the word "Money Bill" in the index, and you can find it in the valuable book upon the Constitution, written by the hon. Member for Oxford University, but it is only used as a wide term for the purpose of including as many Bills as possible, and for pointing out that it is used in reference to Bills which are termed "Money Bills" in a wide sense upon which the question of 255 the privileges of this House has arisen. Blackstone says:—Money Bill, under which appellation are included all Bills by which money is directed to be raised upon the subject for any purpose, or in any shape whatever: either for the exigencies of Government and collected from the Kingdom as Land Tax: or for private benefit, and collected in any particular district as by turnpikes, parish rates, and the like.So that in this term you find a Money Bill deals not only with public funds, but also with private funds. If you turn to the cases in which controversies have arisen between this House and another place, it is quite clear that it has been claimed that privileges have been infringed in regard to Bills which would not ordinarily be termed Money Bills, but which have some money matters incidental to them. I might mention the Poor Law Bill, the Municipal Corporations Bill, and the Housing of the Working Classes Act of 1890. All those Bills cover a wide range of legislation, and in all of them the privileges of this House have been claimed because they have been held to be Money Bills. On that ground I submit that some definition is desirable.
I understand the scheme of the Government is that this Clause should deal with only proper Finance Bills, and it is not intended to deal with Bills in which other schemes may have been "tacked" to Finance Bills. If we understand the intention of the Government aright, they are endeavouring by this Clause to limit the meaning of Money Bills and to deferentiate the Bills which are the subject of this Clause from those which fall under the procedure enunciated in Clause 2. But have the Government succeeded in doing this? The words are so wide that it is quite possible to find that a Money Bill includes all kinds of Bills in which any financial provision is to be found, and not only those relating to control and regulation of public money, but also matters of rating as well as of taxes. It will include, not only matters relating to Customs and Excise, but rating as well. The definition includes matters incidental to all the subjects mentioned in the Sub-section or any of them. When the Clause has been drawn to include such a wide range as that, I desire to point out that some special words of definition ought to be introduced. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kingston has suggested the words which I have moved. The object of this Amendment from a legal point of view raises two points. It is a scheme for raising the additional taxation and a scheme for using 256 the money paid into the Consolidated Fund. Both those schemes are dealt with annually, and both are matters in respect of which annual provision has to be made. If we are to have loose words used it is quite possible that a great number of Bills hitherto unthought of as Money Bills will fall within the range of Clause 2. It is quite possible we may have the powers of this House enlarged so much that there will be very few Bills which would fail to be dealt with under Clause 2. I have endeavoured to indicate the grounds upon which some further definition is desirable. The Home Secretary pointed out that this was a mere matter of nomenclature. I do not think that is so. The question we are now considering is what Bills shall fall under Clause 1 and what Bills shall be left to fall under Clause 2. When you use a term like this term "Money Bill" which has not been used before, you prevent your having the advantage of existing definitions and rules and precedents which might guide the authority which is going to determine whether a Bill is a Money Bill, because these precedents deal with other forms of Bills which have not been so described hitherto, and they do not aptly apply to what is a new creation of this House. I have expressed, very briefly, the grounds on which I think some further definition is desirable, and I ask hon. Members on both sides of the House to believe it is not the desire to deal with this matter in any cavilling spirit, but to give expression to the intention of both sides of the House and to make an effort to find some useful and apt words with which to express the intention incorporated in the Bill.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I must make a special claim on the indulgence of the House, because I am afraid I shall have some difficulty in making myself heard. I think it is desirable that at this, the first possible moment, I should state quite clearly and distinctly the view of the Government on the very important Amendment which the hon. and learned Gentleman has moved. I acknowledge the terseness and force of the hon. and learned Gentleman's arguments, and I entirely agree with him that, having passed Sub-section (1), we have now reached the stage at which the co-operative efforts of both sides of the House might be almost harmoniously directed to arriving at a definition which would meet with general assent. We are not here on a question of principle, but 257 on the question of the definition of an intention to which the House by passing Sub-section (1) has already given its assent. The object of the Government on this Definition Clause is two-fold. It is in the first place, not to enlarge the boundaries within which, as we believe, constitutional practice and usage has established the authority of the House of Commons in matters of finance. On the other hand, it is to include by a statutory definition everything which is within the boundaries so established by usage. That is our governing principle, and I think for the purposes of this Amendment the principle should be accepted by both sides of the House, and is one which ought to control any language in the Bill or any language suggested in Amendments.
Let me remind the Committee that our constitutional practice is the result of somewhat slow and gradual evolution. So far as the records of this House are concerned, the first, and perhaps the most important step was taken in 1628, when a Committee, on which the most eminent lawyers of the time sat, recommended a change in the Preamble of Money Bills, differentiating them from all other forms of Bills. That had ever since been acquiesced in by both branches of the Legislature. The Lords were thus excluded as one of the granting powers in the initiation of any grant of public money. That was the first step taken to establish the sole and exclusive right of the House of Commons in regard to Money Bills. The second step was taken half a century later—in 1671 and 1678—when this House passed resolutions which remain on the Journals of the House, and are celebrated in history, denying the claim of the House of Lords to amend grants of public money made by the House of Commons. There was first the assertion of an exclusive right to initiate, and then there was a denial of the right of the House of Lords to amend. The third and last stage in this process was reached in the year 1860, when, this House having proposed the repeal of the Paper Duties and the Lords having reinstated them, the House of Commons by resolution reminded the House of Lords they had no power to reject.
That, I think, is a perfectly colourless statement of the historical position in regard to finance, and it is that power on the part of the House of Commons, so established by such constitutional usage, which it is the object by this definition to 258 safeguard in future beyond all controversy. There were one or two suggestions thrown out by the hon. Gentleman opposite in the course of his able arguments which obviously would not stand the test of the definition in the Bill. The substantial governing purpose of a Bill like the Poor Law Bill of 1834, the Education Act of 1902, and our own Education Bill of 1906 was not financial, but some larger or social policy, though, for the purpose of carrying that policy out, they contained incidentally financial provisions. Such a Bill could not possibly come within the scope of this definition. The definition confines the operation of the Clause and the new machinery it proposes, following on the old constitutional lines, to Bills containing only provisions dealing with the imposition, repeal, remission, alteration, or regulation of taxation; charges on the Consolidated Fund, or the provision of money by Parliament; Supply, the appropriation, control, or regulation of public money; and the raising or guarantee of any loan or the repayment thereof. I will deal in a moment with the final words, "or matters incidental to those subjects, or any of them." Matters cannot be regarded as incidental to a Money Bill where the financial Clauses are ancillary to the governing object of the Bill.
It may be, and it almost always is, necessary to establish some kind of incidental machinery for the purpose of carrying out the fundamental and governing object of a Bill, and the question on which I would ask the Committee to lay stress is whether or not this definition with the word "only" is watertight. It is intended by the definition to include Bills which under the present practice the House of Lords cannot amend, but it is not intended to include Bills, not being exclusively financial Bills, which the House of Lords can amend. Take the Education Bill, 1902. When that Bill was in progress in the other House, certainly when it came back, it was pointed out that an alteration of some of its provisions would technically be an infringement of the rights of this House with regard to finance, and it was only by a waiver on the part of this House that the Amendment of the Lords was considered. It could not possibly be said that a Bill like that was a Bill containing only provisions dealing with financial matters or matters incidental to those subjects. The criterion here is not whether an Amendment made by the House of Lords to a Bill is a technical infringement of the privileges of this House. 259 Amendments of that kind would not fall within our definition. We are dealing here with Bills which are financial Bills, as I have already said, in the strict literal and full sense of that term, and the test whether a Bill is a financial Bill or not is whether that is its main governing purpose. It is intended further by this Clause to prevent the House of Commons taking advantage of this procedure for the purpose of what is called tacking or annexing to a Bill which is financial in its character provisions which are extraneous and not incidental to its financial purpose. It may be a perfectly proper thing to tack what I may call political on to financial proposals, but a Bill of that character ought not to come under the exceptional machinery of this Clause.
Before I deal with the language of the Clause itself, I wish to say a word as to the Amendment of my hon. and learned Friend. It is quite clear, I think, looking at the matter in a candid and impartial spirit that the Amendment falls very far short in our assertion of what the constitutional practice used to be. The Amendment speaks of a Billwhich provides for the imposition of taxation or for the appropriation of revenue or money for the ordinary annual services of the Crown.I think, in four respects, it will be found that that is not in accord with the practice of this House and with constitutional usage. In the first place the Clause deals with the imposition, repeal, remission, alteration or regulation of taxation. The hon. Gentleman's Amendment deals only with imposition, and not with repeal or remission. In the case of the 1860 Bill it was the repeal of a tax which was rejected by the House of Lords, and a constitutional crisis arose, and later on Resolutions were passed laying down the practice. That practice has prevailed now for half a century, and I do not think it can be the intention of the other side of the House to exclude that from the scope of the Bill.
I do not think anybody who has followed what I have said will for a moment contend it is desirable to exclude from the operation of this Clause Bills which affect the repeal and remission of taxation any more than Bills which affect its imposition. That, I think, is the first flaw in this Amendment. Another obvious defect is that it would not cover provisions for dealing with particular financial difficulties 260 not by way of taxation but by way of loan. In 1901 the Government which preceded our own found it necessary, in connection with the war, to provide for certain exceptional expenditure in that year by raising a loan. It constantly happens that a Government comes face to face with financial emergencies like this, and, surely, if this House is to have unlimited and absolute control over the imposition and repeal of taxation it must by analogy have equal control when substituting a loan for the imposition of taxation in order to meet emergencies. The constitutional power of the House of Lords is substantially restricted in this respect.
I believe this Amendment is taken from one of the Colonial Acts, but, in the case of the Colony affected by this Act, the circumstances are different, for there they have a Second Chamber which is an elected body. I do not know what are the reasons which induced them to adopt this particular form, but, no doubt, there was ample local justification. The third point I have to make against the Amendment is that if it were carried it would exclude from the operation of the Clause the whole class of Bills which we call Consolidated Fund Bills, and it would give power of amendment or rejection in regard to them to the House of Lords.
I will briefly recapitulate my objections to the Amendment. In the first place, it does not deal with the remission of taxation. In the second place it does not cover loans. In the third place it excludes Consolidated Fund Bills, and, fourthly, and lastly, the Amendment, as I understand it, confines the operation of the Clause to Bills for the imposition of taxation or for the appropriation of revenue or moneys for the ordinary annual services of the Crown. It would exclude consequently all Bills for the imposition of taxation which was not actually necessary to meet the requirements of the year or for the actual services of that year. Now, no Chancellor of the Exchequer worthy of his salt when framing his Budget confines his purview to the actual requirements of the year.
There have been innovations in taxation from the times of Peel and Gladstone downwards which were not intended merely for the actual service of the year, but were intended to make provision for the future. Take, for instance, the Land Taxes of my right hon. Friend the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, or a Tariff Reform Budget in the future. If we were 261 to adopt the words of this Amendment the result would be to restrict within the ambits of the year the Budget proposals, and to limit the adoption of a productive policy, and it would never be in the power of the House of Commons with regard to finance to impose taxation unless it could be shown that it was solely required for the purposes of the current year. I think I have made out a good case against the Amendment. I think I have shown that in these four different respects it circumscribes the financial power of the House of Commons, and therefore it cannot possibly be accepted as a substitute for the Clause.
I pass next to the language of the Clause itself. I may say at once that, although that language has been most carefully considered and has been exposed to a great deal of criticism on behalf of those who are responsible for presenting it, if it is thought that the wording does not carry out the intentions of the Bill we shall be quite open to argument. But I would ask the Committee to consider whether there is anything superfluous in the Clause, whether there is anything that goes beyond our obvious intentions, and whether there is any wording so ambiguous that it ought to be expanded. Let us see what the words are:—A Money Bill means a Bill which in the opinion of the Speaker of the House of Commons contains only provisions dealing with all or any of the following subjects, namely, the imposition, repeal, remission, alteration, or regulation of taxation.I do not imagine that there is anything to take exception to there. Then the Clause goes on:—Charges on the Consolidated Fund or the provision of money by Parliament.Surely no one will contend that that is not within the financial supremacy of this House. Next the Clause continues:—Supply.That is a most elementary financial duty incumbent on this House. Further it is provided:—The appropriation, control or regulation of public money.Appropriation is a necessary corollary of Supply and the power of the House of Commons over the Executive. The House must be supreme in dealing with these questions. These seem in fact to be most elementary provisions.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
Is there a distinction between the voting of money by Parliament and the voting of Supply?
§ The PRIME MINISTER
There is a distinction; there are certain charges which are founded on the Consolidated Fund generally, such as the salaries of judges. You might have a temporary charge brought forward which might be well within the powers and usages of this House. My right hon. Friends have given me two illustrations. The first is the diversion of money, which would otherwise go into the Sinking Fund, for Army and Navy purposes, or other local or Imperial purposes. My right hon. Friend the Secretary to the Treasury suggests that a vote of credit does not technically fall within the category of supply, nor would it be charged on the Consolidated Fund, but there are other matters which arise from time to time. You must stop all these holes. That is an excuse for what otherwise might seem a verbosity in this Clause. I have dealt so far with the subject matter which falls within one or another of all these Sub-sections. I now come to the last part of the Clause.
§ Mr. CASSEL
May I ask the Prime Minister with respect to loans. Does it not extend to private loans as well as public loans, so that even the Money Lenders Act would come within its purview. It is not confined even to a loan for public purposes or Government purposes. For instance, "The raising or guarantee of any loan or the repayment thereof" might apply to a private loan and be drawn within the purview of these words, and it seems to require a limit.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
No; I said so at first, we never intended that that should come within the purview of this Clause. If it is necessary to make that more clear we shall be ready to consider any appropriate words. I was refreshing my memory this morning by looking at the Debate on the Resolutions. The Secretary for War expressly said that there was no intention, nor had there ever been any, and the Government disclaimed from the first any intention to deal with the technical question of privilege between the two Houses arising incidentally, but their object was solely to safeguard financial autonomy in regard to the expenditure of any money raised directly or indirectly by taxation 263 and falling as a charge upon the Imperial Exchequer. Otherwise we would not have put in the Bill Clause 4, which provides that "Nothing in this Act shall diminish or qualify the existing rights and privileges of the House of Commons." That is to enable us still, when the occasion arises, to approve of particular Amendments made by the House of Lords in regard to which this House may waive its privilege. I will now answer the question of my hon. Friend (Mr. Cassel), who asks whether this language would not be wide enough to deal with a loan for private purposes. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary last night rightly, as I think, accepted an Amendment which confines the operation of the Bill to public Bills.
§ Mr. CASSEL
A public Bill might deal with a loan for private purposes. For instance, the Money Lenders Act was a public Bill which would come within these words, "the raising or guarantee of any loan or the repayment thereof."
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I cannot understand how the Moneylenders Bill contains any provision dealing with the "raising or guarantee of any loan or the repayment thereof." That was an Act to protect improvident persons who raised money at usurious rates of interest from a much-abused but indispensable class of persons.
§ Mr. CASSEL
May I ask whether it would not carry out more clearly the right hon. Gentleman's intention if he limited it to loans for public purposes?
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I am quite prepared to consider that, if there is any real doubt in the minds of lawyers, who, after all, are the best judges of these matters, as of many others. If there is any real doubt as to whether the phrase used here might conceivably be applied to a Bill which dealt entirely with private or local matters, I should not be at all indisposed to insert words which would safeguard and make clear the real intention of the Clause. I think it is sufficiently clear as it stands, but, if necessary, we might insert some such words as "charging public funds." Subject to that criticism, I think I have gone through the various forms of this Clause, and I think I have succeeded in establishing two propositions—first, that the Amendment of the hon. and learned Gentleman would be wholly inadequate to the 264 necessities of the Clause; and, second, that the language of the Clause, if fairly construed and interpreted, does not include much which has always been understood as falling within financial autonomy of the House of Commons. These words are most careful to exclude first the possibility of including in this Clause a Bill financial in form or title of which the object of its other provisions was the real and governing purpose; and, secondly, to exclude the annexation or tacking on to a financial Bill of extraneous provisions intended to be applied for political or social purposes. I think it desirable in every respect to have it perfectly clear what is the object of the Government, and I think I have made it clear that so far I am not satisfied that the Amendment would be useful or would be any betterment or amelioration for carrying out the common purpose of both sides. If actual phrases or words can be suggested which would carry out that purpose the Government would give them most careful consideration.
I do not rise, I need hardly say, to make any hostile criticism upon the tone and temper of the speech which the Prime Minister has delivered. He quite fairly, in my opinion, dealt with the whole question on the supposition that Sub-section (1) was already passed, and, therefore, that all we were now concerned with is to see that this Clause is limited to strictly financial business. I am not going to make a speech. I am only going to ask questions, but I shall ask those questions and make some commentaries on the same hypothesis as the right hon. Gentleman did, that we have passed Sub-section (1). I do not approve of Clause 1, but granting that you have passed Subsection (1), I think our labours would be most fruitfully applied to considering whether the language of Sub-section (2) carries out the language and spirit of the policy as declared in Sub-section (1) which has been explained with admirable lucidity by the right hon. Gentleman. I do not wish to enter in general upon it, but I never could agree with the Prime Minister's version of our financial history, which, in its later stage, is really quite indefensible, and I cannot imagine why he will go on with it, because it is really unnecessary to his argument. It is unnecessary if he wishes to curtail the privileges of the Lords to say that those privileges do not exist. It is quite enough for him to say that they have been abused, and why 265 he should go further than that and—quite unintentionally, no doubt—give substantially a false interpretation of our constitutional history I cannot understand. Up to the year 1860, and the time when modern controversial points began, the right hon. Gentleman has always addressed this subject as a historian, but when he gets to 1860, and from 1860 to 1910, he always treats it as a partisan. There is plenty of room for partisanship, but with regard to the justification, or want of justification, for the action of the House of Lords, we need not introduce partisanship into our version of constitutional history. Nothing in the world has been more often stated or more clearly stated by the right hon. Gentleman's own colleagues than the fact that constitutionally speaking the House of Lords has and will have until this Bill passes, if it does pass, a right to throw out, though not, as I think, to amend a strictly Money Bill. The right hon. Gentleman quoted a passage from a speech of Mr. Gladstone which does not contradict my assertion. He really might have given us the earlier quotations of Mr. Gladstone, which imply a power, or the view of constitutional history which I lay down. The right hon. Gentleman, if he would only consult his own highest legal authority, the present Lord Chancellor, would see that the matter has never been stated more fairly, lucidly, or clearly than by him, and, speaking on the Land Valuation (Scotland) Bill, the Lord Chancellor said:—If a Money Bill is brought forward this House has always the power of throwing it out. It is the question of amending Money Bills which is a question of privilege, but as to the question of throwing out Money Bills your Lordships have most ample power.I do not think that is really relevant to the very important question of drafting which is now before the Committee, but I must enter my protest against the recent history of the right hon. Gentleman, which, as I think, entirely perverts the constitutional history of this country. He may abuse the House of Lords as much as he likes, but let him leave history alone.
§ 5.0 P.M.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
When the Lord Chancellor used that expression he was not dealing with a Money Bill within the meaning of this Clause at all. He calls it a Money Bill, but every one knows that the Land Valuation (Scotland) Bill would not fall within this category.
I do not rest my case entirely on the view of the Lord Chancellor, but I think the right hon. Gentleman misrepresents the present Lord Chancellor because the Lord Chancellor observed afterwards that the Lords could not constitutionally, though they could legally, throw out a Bill dealing with the supply of the year. That was his view of Money Bills. I doubt whether the Lord Chancellor had that strict view in his mind when he made the original statement, but even the amended statement does not cover the view of the right hon. Gentleman. It does not correspond with his definition. Mr. Gladstone's language in 1861 makes the whole point perfectly clear. I do not believe there is a more clearly established constitutional—not legal—right than the House of Lords have up to the present moment, and until the Bill passes, to throw out a Money Bill. It is perfectly true, of course, that that was made extremely difficult for them to do by the action of this House in 1860, when they combined all Money Bills with the Budget, and it was the deliberate intention of the House to make it difficult. As Mr. Gladstone truly says, they did not do it between 1860 and 1892. Mr. Gladstone never pretended, and you will not find a quotation from him suggesting it, that it was an unconstitutional act of the House of Lords to throw out a Budget as a whole. However, I pass from that and come to what is really to the purpose in the present discussion, namely what are the best words to carry out the policy of the Government. The right hon. Gentleman has made certain criticisms, in part well founded I think, upon the actual words proposed by my hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Pollock). The words were directly taken from the Colonial Constitutions and are thought by the Colonies ample to safeguard the rights of their First Chambers. The right hon. Gentleman observed that they are not fitted for us because while the Colonies have elected Second Chambers, we have not an elected Second Chamber. I thought this was to be a Bill, at any rate so far as this Clause is concerned, laying down the relations between the two Houses whether the Second Chamber was reformed or not—whether the Preamble was brought into effect or not. I have always understood that the policy of the Government was to make permanent relations between the two Houses and then, when it suited them, to reform the Second 267 House, but not to alter Clause 1. We have never had a perfectly explicit answer on the point, but certainly there have been phrases used by Cabinet Ministers and others implying that Clause 1 represented what ought to be the permanent relations between the two Houses of a free Parliament whether the Second Chamber was completely elected or not. [Cheers.] That meets with the approval, at all events, of a certain section of the other side. If that be so, Colonial practice and precedents cannot be dismissed in the way the Prime Minister dismissed them. They, having precisely the constitution which the right hon. Gentleman in his Preamble expresses a desire to introduce into this country, have adopted a different version from that which the right hon. Gentleman wishes to see adopted here for settling the powers of the Second Chamber in regard to Money Clauses.
Let us put aside the definition borrowed by my hon. and learned Friend from the most recent constitutional efforts of self-governing democracy, and consider that part of the right hon. Gentleman's speech, in which he endeavoured to show that, while the Amendment was too narrow in its terms, the policy of the Government is really adequately carried out by the terms they have introduced into the Bill. I have nothing to say for the moment upon the words "imposition, repeal, remission, alteration or regulation of taxation." They are certainly fuller and may possibly be better than the words of the Amendment. But how about charges on the Consolidated Fund? As I understand it, anything which is a charge on the Consolidated Fund comes under the purview of the limits of this Clause. It falls into that category of legislation dealt with by Clause 1. A charge on the Consolidated Fund may deal with anything in the world. It may deal with great questions of policy. Are they never to be touched by the House of Lords? If the cost of the policy is shown on the Consolidated Fund, is the policy itself to be taken altogether out of the purview of the House of Lords? If that is the view of the Government it seems rather a strong order because there is no limit to the powers which this House has of throwing charges upon the Consolidated Fund. They do throw a great many very important charges, and they might throw more. Does the mere fact that the method of paying for a particular policy is by charge on this Consolidated Fund or 268 does it not bring it within the category of Clause 1, and take it out of the category of Clause 2?
A charge on the Consolidated Fund cannot only be a charge on the Consolidated Fund. It must be a charge for something.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL (Sir Rufus Isaacs)
The words at the end of the Subsection, "or matters incidental to those subjects or any of them."
I should have thought that made it rather worse, and that it rather expanded the phrase, "a charge on the Consolidated Fund." A charge on the Consolidated Fund must always be for some purpose—to carry out some policy. Is or is not a Bill the policy of which is carried out by means of a charge on the Consolidated Fund a Bill subject to the provisions of Clause 1 rather than of Clause 2? I think the Government will have to consider that point. There are great legal authorities on the Front Bench, and I have not had an opportunity of discussing this with my learned Friends, but it seems to me that if you are going to exclude every Bill, the cost of which falls upon the Consolidated Fund—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] There is no such thing as a Bill containing only a charge on the Consolidated Fund. Such a thing is a contradiction in terms. The charge must be for something. If you bring in a Bill in which there is a charge on the Consolidated Fund for something is that something to be taken out of the control of the House of Lords? There may be some way of dealing with the difficulty, but I admit for the moment I do not see what the way is. I am arguing upon the premises of the right hon. Gentleman, and mean to do so throughout my speech. He is clearly of opinion that questions of policy, as distinct from questions of charge, should not be taken away from the House of Lords. So far as I understand it this phrase, "charges on the Consolidated Fund," seeing that they must always deal with some question of policy, either has no meaning at all or, if it has a meaning, takes questions of policy away from the House of Lords. It is possible that it has no meaning.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I will give an exact illustration of what I think these words mean. Last year we passed an Act 269 empowering the appointment of two new judges, whose salaries were to be paid out of the Consolidated Fund. That was a Bill proposing a charge on the Consolidated Fund. No human being could say that was a Bill which contained only provisions dealing with charges on the Consolidated Fund. It was for the appointment of two judges, and incidentally their salaries were a charge on the Consolidated Fund. That is a good illustration of the way in which these words will have to be construed.
As far as I gather from the courteous and useful interruption of the right hon. Gentleman, his intention is not different from my own, but I should have thought the words were dangerous, because apparently a Bill would come under Clause 1, not merely if it involved a charge on the Consolidated Fund, but if the purport of it was to deal with finance alone. I do not think it will help the matter to talk about charges on the Consolidated Fund. I pass on to the words, "Control or regulation of public money." "Appropriation" I do not deal with. The difficulty in all these words is that when you get, for instance, "control or appropriation of public money" you inevitably come to the purpose for which the money is used. What is the control of public money? It is the use of public money for a particular purpose. I do not think that it can be anything else. The Government do not mean to exclude all cases in which a Bill deals with control of public money from the survey of the House of Lords. Quite the contrary. There are Bills the cost of which is borne by the taxpayer and the ratepayer—for instance, Free Education. The Government would be the last to say that Education Bills should not be dealt with by the House of Lords, yet surely every single Clause of the Bill giving free education dealt with the control or the regulation of public money.
Every Clause is only that. It does nothing else but direct, control, and regulate the use of public money. At any rate, the words are open to that construction. I know it is not what the Government mean, but it is most important that we should have words which cannot be misused in future either by Mr. Speaker or by any Tribunal which may be substituted for Mr. Speaker. Then I ask the Government whether they really ought not to consider the whole question of rates. 270 I have always understood that according to the view of this House of its own privileges rates count as public money. But the Government do not propose to count them as public money in this case. The right hon. Gentleman has emphatically told us, I admit greatly to my surprise, that public money does not include rates. I am very glad that the discretion of the House of Lords should be as unrestricted as possible, but I should have thought that there were certain questions of rating in regard to which we have certainly looked with a jealous eye on anything which the House of Lords has done, and if the Government mean to exclude rates, they ought in the first place specifically to say so, and to say: "We have so far modified our rights and privileges. We think they cannot be maintained by this House. I think the Government have unduly extended in a former Session the rights of this House as to the paramountcy of the House. I think if the Government are going to exclude rates from this Bill, that should be thoroughly recognised.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I have already pointed out to the House what are the powers proposed in that matter. By Clause 4 our existing rights and privileges are maintained.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
Do I rightly understand the right hon. Gentleman to say that where it has been in fact the practice of the House of Lords to insert in Bills Amendments which this House have assented to only by waiver or privilege, those will not be Money Bills within the meaning of this Clause? Would the Clause only apply to Money Bills and not to other Bills?
I am extremely glad to hear that further statement. That is a policy with which I have no particular quarrel. But I think when you are defining, as we are now defining, the precise relations between the two Houses in matters of finance, the very loose language in the Sub-section is rather dangerous. Let it be remembered that this House has constantly claimed privileges in connection with questions of rating and taxation which the other House has constantly resisted. There is no settled constitutional practice in regard to the questions to which I refer. The House of Lords has constantly said: "The House of Commons may have maintained a privilege to which 271 we do not assent. We do not think it worth while to quarrel about it. We content ourselves with placing on record our dissent from the view of their own privileges taken by the Commons." Now we have set to work to define exactly what the financial relations of the two Houses are. I think Clause 4 is rather a loose way of dealing with what is admittedly a very difficult question. I do not think the interruption of the right hon. Gentleman a few moments ago really does clear up the difficulties which I am afraid the words "regulation of public money" raise. I think you will have to put in there quite specifically that rates are not included, leaving rates to be dealt with by Clause 4, or preferably to be dealt with by an amended Clause 4, which would put the matter in a perfectly clear and unmistakeable light. But surely the last words of this Sub-section are those most open to objection. The words are:—or matters incidental to those subjects or any of them.I cannot find that anything is excluded if these words stand. Every Bill which touchesthe imposition, repeal, remission, alteration, or regulation of taxation,and all the rest of the matters incidental thereto, are taken away from the House of Lords. What are "matters incidental to?" The right hon. Gentleman seems to think that matters incidental must be themselves inherently subordinate; they must be, as it were, mere incidents. I hardly think that will be the case. You put a charge on the Consolidated Fund for a certain purpose. I think that would come under Clause 1. The right hon. Gentleman appears to dispute that, unless the purpose itself is financial. I think you will have to put in words to make that clear. But when you add phrases having such a wide circle as to include so much as "matters incidental to those subjects or any of them," it seems to me that the ground for doubt, the ground for indecision which would be possible for any Speaker or any tribunal, would be so great that you are really in danger of introducing in the purview of Clause 1 an immense mass of legislation which you genuinely desire to keep out of the scope of it. Therefore, while I perfectly admit that possibly my learned Friend's Amendment may be too narrow, and while it may 272 be that the Colonial legislatures who are responsible for these words have not considered the whole matter in the manner we are obliged to consider it to-day, I think that the words selected by the Government are too wide, and even when they are not obviously intended to be so wide, they are so ambiguous that some efforts should be made by the Committee to give them a clear outline and a perfectly lucid and unmistakeable meaning.
§ Mr. MACKINDER
I do not rise to support every word in the Amendment proposed by my hon. Friend because I understand that the discussion in which we are now engaged has reference to the principle. If in the wording of the Clause as proposed by the Government we cannot ascertain their definition and their intention as to what are Money Bills, I think some means should be taken by the Committee to find words which will define what is meant. My sole object in rising is to ask whether we have not approached a deeper question than we have yet even probed in the course of this discussion up to the present moment. What I imagine we on this side of the House are really aiming at is not a definition of what may be called express tacking, but what may be called tacking by implication. That was the great and fundamental danger which induced the House of Lords to take the strong step they took when they threw out the Budget of 1009. What we want to avoid—I do not say this with any idea of obstruction—are words in the Bill which would allow tacking by implication. You may have a scheme of taxation proposed, and not a single Clause or expression in the Bill brought in would go outside of the words here used, and yet you may have penetrating right through that Bill a deep design quite other than would be met by the definition in the Sub-section. For instance, in response to a challenge by the Prime Minister the Leader of the Opposition went so far as to say that he would refer the principle of Tariff Reform to a Referendum. A Budget Bill might be introduced containing a tariff based on certain principles, and the object of the measure would obviously and admittedly be not merely to raise funds but to effect certain ulterior objects. As I conceive that is to alter fundamentally a great policy of State. That is to deviate from the doctrine which has been followed in this country for a couple of generations past. It seems to me that if in such a case we 273 were to prevent the House of Lords from expressing its opinion on the whole of such a policy, then we would be taking a very dangerous course.
In the case of the Budget which was thrown out, those who sit on this side of the House say that there were at least two large illustrations of tacking, implied but not expressed, in that Bill. On the one hand we had the beginning of the policy of the confiscation of the unearned increment for purposes of State. The beginning was the all-important point. Then speeches were made by hon. Gentlemen on the other side in support of the substitution of taxing methods for what was proposed in the Licensing Bill which was rejected. These were cases of what I call tacking by implication, and they vitiated that Bill through and through. And yet I cannot see that these cases of tacking would be touched by the phraseology of this Subsection. That is the real case between the two parties. We are deeply distrustful of the methods of legislation which have come into vogue lately, and which aim at obtaining objects of high policy far other than those which are disclosed in the measure itself. I would venture to indicate the wording which would convey my meaning, while at the same time I disown all claims to be an expert draftsman. I have not the slightest intention of introducing such as Amendment, at any rate until after consultation with experts in the matter of wording. The words I would suggest would be: "A Money Bill means a Bill which, in the opinion of the Speaker of the House of Commons contains provisions dealing either expressly or by implication with all or any of the following subjects," and then proceed to state the subjects. I admit this may not be in terms known to the law.
§ The CHAIRMAN
I do not think that matter arises now. The hon. Member can deal with it now if he likes, but I would point out that it is to be dealt with on a separate Amendment.
§ Mr. MACKINDER
I wish to obey your ruling, but I would merely refer to the fact that the Prime Minister in his speech did make an express point of this question of tacking, and my object was to convey the fact that it was not merely express tacking, tacking in so many words, tacking by a provision that those who sit on this side were objecting to, but also tacking by implication, which is of a totally different kind. If I have managed to convey my meaning then my object is satisfied. There 274 is only one other matter I would like to refer to. It seemed to me that when the Prime Minister intervened in the speech of the Leader of the Opposition as to the utterances of the Lord Chancellor with reference to the claim of the House of Lords to reject or amend a Finance Bill, he threw over the pertinence of all historical precedents, because if his ease is that what the Lord Chancellor said was not pertinent to what is here a Money Bill, but dealt with a Money Bill of a different kind; then we have Money Bills and Money Bills, and we are defining Money Bill here for a new purpose, and are leaving other Bills which hitherto have been taken as Money Bills and have been governed by the claim of privilege on the part of this House. If that is so, surely the claim which the Prime Minister made in speaking for instance about this matter, that the object of this Clause was to include all that had been claimed in the way of privilege on the part of this House, is not satisfied, for you have expressly excluded certain matters which were according to the Lord Chancellor included within the claims of privilege of this House.
§ Mr. STEEL-MAITLAND
I am quite sure that many of us on this side of the House object naturally to the general principle contained in the Section as a whole. But what is uppermost in our minds at present is that the present Subsection should be intended clearly to go with the words of the following Section, and that doubt and difficulty should not arise in the future over bad drafting at the present moment. From what the Prime Minister said the whole essence of one main point in the present Sub-section lies in the answer to the question, what is the principle and what is the ancillary object of a Bill? If you decide that, then, according to that decision, you can answer the question whether it is a Money Bill or not. Instances have already been mentioned by the hon. Member for Glasgow (Mr. Mackinder) in which you may get cases under this Sub-section as at present drafted which would make an answer to that question exceedingly difficult to give. If anyone will take the question of the Licensing Clauses in the Budget of 1909, for example, there are few people on that side of the House who would not have said that the primary object was not financial. At the same time, if we admit that the primary object of the Licensing Clause in the Budget was not financial, what will 275 they say as to the character of the Licensing Bill that preceded it the year before? Was its principal object financial or was the financial side of it merely ancillary? I remember in the course of the Debate an hon. Member (Mr. Hemmerde) at that time, who no longer sits in this House and who contested Portsmouth at the last election, interrupted with an ejaculation saying that both the Licensing Bill and the Licensing Clause were financial in character, and I heard at the time the Chancellor of the Exchequer say "Hear, hear," to that statement. Therefore when it comes to a question of that kind, which is an exceedingly important one, where is the definition to apply 2 No one on that side would deny that from the point of view of the Budget the Licensing Clauses were financial, and when we have the authority of certain distinguished Ministers on the Government Benches for the assertion that they were only intended to fulfil exactly the same object as the Licensing Bill which did not pass into law the previous year, how can anyone on the Government Benches say that the Licensing Bill itself was anything less than financial also?
If that is admitted, and I can hardly see how it is possible not to admit it, surely we ought to have some more careful distinction as to what may be considered the principal objects of a Bill and what are only to be considered as matters incidental to those objects or any of them. The second point I would respectfully press on the Prime Minister is as to Clause 4 of the Bill safeguarding the Subsection with regard to matters of rating and the like. That safeguard lies merely in the intention of the Government. It is not an absolute safeguard in law that matters of rating, for example, shall not be treated as financial or as constituting a Money Bill for the purpose of Subsections 1 and 2 of the Clause with which we are dealing. No doubt the Government have every intention of preserving the attitude that the Prime Minister has indicated, but their advertisement of virtue in this respect leaves us rather cold. Whether they intend it or not, I am sure that it ought to be made specific. The circumstances into whatever extent another country show that a Government may mean what it says at the time unless it is made clear in the Act itself, the omission may give rise to very serious embarrassment afterwards. There was an almost exactly similar case in one of the French 276 Acts with regard to what is or what is not a Money Bill. In this instance, just because the article in the French law of 1875 was obscure, it was held in the end that the right of the Senate did not exist in regard to a measure of naturalisation. It may seem farfetched, and, of course, it was farfetched, but it was held in that case that a law of naturalisation was a Money Bill, because it affected the receipts from taxation which was imposed by way of naturalisation fees. Hero the embarrassment arose simply owing, as all the French publicists who have commented on it say, to the loose way in which the original article of the law of 1875 was drawn up. At the present time the Government may not wish to press the powers beyond the expressed intention of the Prime Minister, but they cannot guarantee the action of their successors to whatever party they belong. Surely for that reason it is far better and safer to make this quite explicit before the measure is passed into law.
If I may pass again to another actual matter of business, their is a smaller point which comes up even on the Amendment which was accepted by the Government confining the definition of a Money Bill to public Bills. I could not find just recently in the Library a copy of the reference book to which I shall refer, but I believe, stating from memory, that a Provisional Order Bill is defined, by Redlich for example, as a Public Bill which when opposed is given procedure applicable to private Bills. Therefore, it comes to pass that if you have a clause in a Local Government Board Provisional Order Bill dealing with Finance, that may be considered a Money Bill for the purpose of this Sub-section. Perhaps the Prime Minister does not believe in that point. At the same time that is the definition given in the book in question. We have just had within the last week a Money Clause of that kind cut out of a private Bill in another place with the express sanction of one of the Ministers of the present Government.
The last point to which I would direct the attention of the Committee is that the construction placed on a Money Bill here is also of direct importance with regard to the statement made on behalf of the Government by the Postmaster-General at the close of the other night's Debate. He claimed that, for the purpose of Sub-section 1, a Money Bill should be taken apparently in its strictest sense, that we might 277 go on to define it when we came to Subsection 2, and that that definition would have reference to whether amendment ought or ought not to be allowed in another place, when a Bill was brought before them. If that is the case here is a very wide definition of the phrase Money Bill, and surely, from the Postmaster-General's point of view, there ought to be some distinction made between the Money Bills of different kinds, a distinction such as he himself forecasted on that occasion. It may be that this House would not assent to the amendment of a Money Bill of an ordinary kind, in the strict sense, such as a Finance Bill, a Consolidated Fund Bill, or an Appropriation Bill; but, on the other hand, when it comes to a Bill which for the purpose of this Sub-section is so defined, and which may deal more with administration than the provision of money, such as the Exchequer and Audit Act, you would then, for the Postmaster-General's purpose, probably want a power of amendment in the other House to which the Government could agree afterwards. For those reasons, and perhaps to save embarrassment afterwards, I would urge that the matter should be made more clear and specific before we leave this Sub-section.
§ Mr. GRETTON
I strongly support the views just expressed of the hon. Member for East Birmingham (Mr. Steel-Maitland). This is the proper place to define Money Bills. Anyone with experience of the conduct of business in this House knows very well that once this Committee has parted with a Clause it is extremely difficult to amend that Clause or to modify it subsequently in the section because the words on which we have agreed have the effect of limiting matters which are to be considered at a subsequent stage. There was the Licensing Bill passed by this House in a former Parliament, and rejected in another place. I can show in a few words why that particular Bill is worthy of the Committee's attention. Many hon. Members recollect that the Prime Minister, in his conduct of that Bill through this House, stated that it was intended for the special purpose of dealing with matters relating to State property, which ought never to have passed from the State. That argument was strongly resisted on his side of the House, but the majority endorsed the opinion expressed by the Prime Minister, and that view became, by the action of this House, the declared intention and purpose of the Bill. But the Licensing Bill dealt with very many other 278 matters besides the appropriation of licences which are still the property of individuals of the State; it regulated Sunday closing, and dealt with clubs and many other matters which certainly have nothing to do with the resumption by the State of property which the supporters of the Licensing Bill contended ought never to have passed from it. It should be clearly decided whether such a Bill as the Licensing Bill is a Money Bill within the meaning of this Clause as it now stands. It is a concrete case which I have given of the principle of a well-known Bill, a principle which, as is admitted, is capable of being carried a very great deal further, Under the words of this Sub-section, when the House endorses the opinion of the Government, a Bill of that character might very well be held to be a Bill for the appropriation, control, and regulation of public money.
By this Sub-section, the interpretation of the meaning of a Bill passed by this House will be handed over to another authority, to Mr. Speaker for the time being, to decide whether or not a particular Bill is a Money Bill, and the matter will have to be gone into in the light of the definitions we now use. Therefore, it seems to me that we want very much more accurate and definite words in order to show what is a Money Bill. I do not believe that the Government of the day contend that the Licensing Bill should be considered as having the character of a Money Bill, but, as the Sub-section stands, it is clearly entitled to be so considered, and they cannot determine the matter unless they adopt very much more definite words. The argument applies to other matters also. A Bill for the nationalisation of railways, for instance, would be a Bill for the regulation and control of public money. A Bill for the nationalisation of mines or any other form of property would immediately become a Money Bill under the same interpretation. We are waiting now for some statement of the intention of the Government on this very important matter. The Licensing Bill, to which I have referred, is a very strong, typical case, because, under this Clause as it stands, it would be considered a Money Bill. We want words inserted in the Subsection to make clear what is the intention of the Government.
§ Mr. DAVID MASON
I have listened with considerable pleasure and interest to the speech of the hon. Member opposite 279 who spoke on questions of high policy as being connected with a Finance Bill. On that point arises the important issue that if you were to allow the principle of the House of Commons having control over finance to be departed from in any way, the other House would have power to interfere with questions of high policy initiated in the Lower House. As an example of the seriousness of the matter, I should like to give the House one instance. The hon. Member for Birmingham (Mr. Steel-Maitland) gave us a very interesting example of what the French Senate had done as to the relations which existed between the two Houses in France.
§ Mr. D. MASON
I was going to give an example in connection with the United States, where the bi-cameral system exists, of the danger which may arise from the Upper House having power to interfere with finance and so to interfere with the policy of the Lower House. In America the Senate may not initiate finance; but they have a right to interfere with financial matters which are initiated and originated in the Lower House. During the Debates on this Bill, a great number of speeches have been made in favour of adopting that system and procedure in this country, Research into this matter discloses that these Upper Houses are reactionary bodies, and that the power to interfere with finance delays the progress of legislation which is originated in the Lower House. In 1849 the Senate of the United States were in favour of slavery in the territories of New Mexico and California, but Congress were opposed to it. Late in the Session the Senate passed the General Appropriation Bill for Government expenses, with a rider organising the Territories of New Mexico and California slavery, permitting slavery. The object was to compel the Lower House to yield, so the Government of the day would be penniless and would come to an end. There you have an example of the danger which arises from giving control to the Second Chamber over finance. There was a deadlock between the two Houses, but the Lower House stood out for their rights and eventually succeeded in having this embargo removed.
In this example you find that if you part with any portion of your control over 280 finance to the Upper House, Supplies might be refused, while at the same time the control thus parted with might be used as a weapon to prevent you carrying out your progressive legislation. The Leader of the Opposition, to my mind, made a very admirable suggestion in pointing out that the words "matters incidental to these subjects" are rather vague. I am inclined to agree with the right hon. Gentleman's suggestion that some words should be inserted to make the matter more clear as to what really constitutes "matters incidental." I do not know whether I am in order, but it seems to me that the words "to finance" might be added. To my mind this Bill is surely one that has to do with appropriation for carrying on the Government of the country. The hon. Member who has just sat down (Mr. Gretton) referred to the Licensing Bill and other measures which are naturally dependent on some form of finance, and which I think do not altogether come under the category of Money Bills, as I understand the Government to contend in the Bill now before us. A Money Bill surely ought to be purely that which pertains to the appropriation or gathering in of taxes for the purpose of carrying on the Government of the country. To my mind this House has a great advantage in its control over such bodies as the Congress of America, or the Chamber of Deputies in France, or other governing bodies in different parts of the Continent. It is an immense power, and I am sure there can be no question of our rising to the height of the great responsibility which is involved in that control. All sides of the House, I think, should be agreed that we ought not to part with any portion of this privilege, but that we ought to maintain for all time the supreme advantage which we possess in the control of our own finances.
§ 6.0 P.M.
§ Sir WILLIAM ANSON
The Prime Minister in his very lucid and conciliatory speech, and still more in the remarks which passed between him and the Leader of the Opposition, explained the intentions of the Government with respect to this Clause. If I understand it rightly, under Section (4) this House reserves to itself all privileges as against the other House which it has hitherto exercised or claimed; and a certain kind of a Bill, described as a Money Bill, falls under the exceptional procedure indicated in Subsection (2), automatically going up for the Royal Assent if the other House do not 281 pass it within a month. Therefore we now know where we are. We claim all the old privileges under this Bill, and we only endeavour to apply exceptional procedure to that sort of Bill which is called a Money Bill, the procedure being dealt with under Sub-section (1). It is the nature of a Money Bill with which we are dealing with now. I venture to say that the term "Money Bill," in spite of all that has been said, is not a term of any precise interpretation or meaning. The Home Secretary last night quoted Sir Erskine May, in whose book the words "Money Bill" appear in the index, but I think it may be said that Sir Erskine May, in the text, was very careful not to use the term when he was dealing with the subject of the relations of the two Houses in the matter of finance. I do not think the term "Money Bill" is used as a term of art. The Home Secretary was good enough to quote me as one who had used the term "Money Bill." I felt much honoured by his reference to me, but I used the term "Money Bill" as synonymous with "Finance Bill." I was not writing, however, with a view to anything like the proceedings of this House, or an Act of Parliament, or the textbooks. I use the term, first as a general term, and next as synonymous, to a Finance Bill, and precisely synonymous to a Finance Bill. I quite admit that anybody who writes a book has given a hostage to fortune, but I am prepared to explain it to anyone.
We have had the Prime Minister's explanation of this Clause, and the explanation is very satisfactory, but what we have to bear in mind is not the interpretation which the Prime Minister or the Government of the day propose to put upon this Clause, but the interpretation which may be put upon it hereafter by the Speaker, or by whatever tribunal on whom may fall the duty and the difficult task of interpreting the Clause. And so we have got to consider what are the various applications of the term Money Bill within the meaning of this Clause, and how it may possibly be interpreted in any other sense than that in which the Prime Minister has used it. Where we come to a Money Bill in relation to our privileges it becomes important to define that term as precisely as we possibly can. There is first a Money Bill in the meaning of a Finance Bill. Here I admit there is a great deal of common ground on both sides of the House. I do not mean to say so in the 282 history of the matter. I never can understand why people attach so much importance to certain historical events of the seventeenth century, which really have very little application to the present time. There was then no general financial system for the year. The King sent and asked for money and the Commons granted the money in a particular sum for a particular purpose, and by a particular tax which they proposed for that purpose. What they objected to was when they granted money that the House of Lords might amend their Bill either by saying that the sum should be larger or smaller, or that the purpose should be different, or that the tax should be different in amount. I think you will find that those were the topics of controversy in the seventeenth century. What happened in 1860? I grant that the House of Lords made what I should call an audacious invasion of the privileges of the House of Commons. At that time the Finance Bill' or the Budget was not one complete Bill. So long as the tax Bills were sent up to the House of Lords one at a time, it was possible for the Lords ostensibly to exercise their unrestricted right of rejection and practically to amend the financial scheme of the year, and that is what they did. Mr. Gladstone, who is quoted so often, admitted not merely their right of rejection in case what he called non-financial matter was introduced, but he admitted also their right of amendment, or rather he maintained they were right not to abandon their claim to amend. Although he did not say that, this House admitted it. He said they were wise not to abandon their claim to amend, because non-financial matters might be introduced, and might be put in the Bill, which would make it not merely their right, but their duty, to insist on their claim to amend.
What we do desire in this matter is that we shall have security against non-financial matters being introduced into a Money Bill. It is possible, as has been pointed out before by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kingston (Mr. Cave), to impose a tax which is nothing but a tax but which, from its amount, may press unjustly upon a particular class, or which effects a social or economic revolution. Therefore we want to secure that we shall have the protection of another House to intervene in such a matter if such a matter arose. I quite admit that it is practically impossible to find a definition of a Money Bill which would exclude 283 such a possibility. Anyone who looks at the Australian Commonwealth Act will see how hard the promoters of that Act strove to define taxation so as to reduce to a minimum the possibility of tacking of that nature. You will see that they did not exclude the possibility of a tax being imposed not merely for revenue purposes, but for some ulterior purpose, which might result in injury to a trade or class or effect some great new social object such as the nationalisation of the land, or some objects such as those which the Chancellor of the Exchequer practically avowed were objects of the Budget of 1909. That is why we first of all wish to insist upon a precise definition of a Money Bill, and, next, why we regard as of great importance the tribunal to interpret what is and what is not a Money Bill in the strict and equitable sense of the words. There are one or two other matters in which this Clause is still open to obscurity. The Prime Minister said that it deals with Bills which contain only provisions dealing with certain objects, the "imposition, repeal, remission, alteration, or regulation of taxation."
I will take the case of a Bill based on a Resolution of this House for a grant of money. I will take the case of the Education Bill of 1891. That began with a Resolution of this House that there should be a grant from this House of money to enable education to be free. That Bill was based and built up on the grant of money, and proceeded to the regulation of that grant in the subsequent term of the Bill. The Bill went up to the House of Lords and the House of Lords amended it, and it came back to this House. This House agreed with most of the Lords' amendments. They objected to one which might possibly lead to an increase under certain conditions of the Parliamentary grant. Mr. Speaker Peel ruled that that infringed on the liberties of this House. We disagreed with that Amendment, and the Lords gave way under protest. Lord Salisbury carried through the House of Lords a protest to the effect that the House of Commons was exceeding its powers. I think the words of this Clause are uncertain in that respect, and that they want additional clearness. I do think that there might be a difficulty where a Bill dealing with general subjects contains money clauses. That happened in the Educational Bill of 1906, and I understand that the explanation of the Prime 284 Minister was that that would only hold under Clause 4. Then we come to the question of rating. Is not an Education Bill a Bill which deals entirely with the regulation either of money derived from rates or money derived from Parliamentary grants? How are we certain that in the future the Speaker may not rule that that is a Bill dealing with the regulation of taxation, whether it is local taxation, or whether it is Imperial taxation?
§ Sir W. ANSON
Yes, but what is the basis? It is the regulation of taxation. Ought we not to be very careful about this? We may by careless wording of this Clause cut ourselves off from such assistance as we may expect to derive from the deliberation of another House, however constituted. Nobody will deny that the House of Lords as at present constituted can assist us very much in the calmer air in which they discuss questions which interest both of us, by the suggestions and amendments which they make and send down to us in the ordinary course of events. It will be a disaster if by a strict interpretation of the term Money Bill we cut ourselves off from that source. I do not suppose we can find words to meet all these cases, but I would suggest that the Amendment of my hon. Friend the Member for East Birmingham (Mr. Steel-Maitland) to insert the words "Finance Bill or Consolidated Fund," might easily be extended in the direction indicated by the Prime Minister. I have not risen so much to propose a definite Amendment of my own as to support the Amendment of my hon. Friend as an improvement on the Clause as it stands. I have tried to point out some matters in which, even after the lucid exposition of the Prime Minister, some obscurity may be said to lurk. I hope that Amendments will be accepted to make the Clause free from any such obscurity. I feel that Bills might go up to the House of Lords under Sub-section (1)—which I heartily dislike—and be discussed there with profit to ourselves and to the nation at large; it would be a misfortune if by a too strict construction of the Clause we were cut off from the assistance which that discussion might give.
My hon. Friend has made a very powerful statement of the principles which ought to regulate our policy in this matter. It is, however, urgently necessary that we should not 285 merely deal with general principles, which he has so admirably stated, but endeavour to carry out some Amendments. I said in my earlier observations that I thought the Colonial precedent followed by my hon. Friend in this Amendment was somewhat too narrow for our use. I would suggest that he should withdraw his Amendment, and that we should endeavour to go through the remaining Sub-sections of the Bill and amend them in detail. I do not think it is very easy to amend the Amendment so as to carry out what I conceive to be the policy both on the Government side and on our own. I believe we shall stand a better chance of knocking this Clause into a tolerable shape if we deal with each sentence by itself. Some of the terms I think are unexceptional as far as I can gather; but some I think most emphatically require amendment. My hon. Friends suggest some Amendments which might be brought in; and it would be convenient perhaps that I should suggest some of the alterations which I think ought to be made. After the words "regulation of taxation," words carrying out the intention of the Government ought to be put in, such as "other than local taxation," or words equivalent in meaning. In the next sentence, "Charges on the Consolidated Fund," I think you ought to put in, in order to make it quite clear, "charges for the payment of debt or other financial purpose." It would be out of order to argue why I think that that is a very necessary restriction, but when the proper time comes I shall be prepared to give conclusive arguments why the phrase in the Bill should be narrowed down by those words.
I do not see why you want the words, "or the provision of money by Parliament." They were not defended by the Prime Minister, and they have not been explained by any Member of the Treasury Bench. I believe it will be found that the Clause without those words will carry out all the intentions of the Government, while the words themselves seem to be full of peril and ambiguity. "Supply" is clearly right. The next sentence is "the appropriation, control or regulation of public money." There, again, I think you will have to put in the qualification that it is public money other than rates. I suggest that it would be a great convenience to leave out "control or regulation." I believe that all you want is "the appropriation," and I think I can show that there are real perils in leaving in the words, "control or regulation." "The 286 raising or guarantee of any loan or the repayment thereof" is quite right. The last sentence of all, "or matters incidental to those subjects or any of them," I do not venture to criticise at the moment. It seems to me very ambiguous and difficult of interpretation, but we might leave it until the earlier questions have been satisfactorily disposed of.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
The course suggested by the right hon. Gentleman is, I think, a very convenient one. The question we are now discussing is one of detail; it is a question of words. It would, I am sure, be for the convenience of the Committee and for the speedy prosecution of our discussions if we now proceeded point by point to consider the particular words in the Bill. The suggestions which the right hon. Gentleman has made will be carefully considered in no general spirit of hostility, but with a watchful eye to see that the main purpose of the Bill is not in any way infringed.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
I listened with great admiration to the speech of the Prime Minister, and it appeared to me that his meaning was more than once very plainly stated. All that he desires to do I understand, is to maintain the existing relations between the two Houses as far as matters of finance go, except in one or two points which may be matters of controversy, and which he assumed in a certain sense. I think I may correctly represent him as saying that what he really defines as a Money Bill in his own mind is a Bill which, in respect to the privileges of this House, the House of Lords has not been accustomed to amend. There is controversy about the question of rejection, but there is practically no controversy upon the question of amendment. The definition the Prime Minister has in his own mind, and to which he is anxious the Bill should approximate, is that Money Bills should be Bills which the House of Lords has not been accustomed to amend. All sides will agree that a great drawback—and the Government themselves admit it to be a drawback—of putting into an Act of Parliament what has hitherto been a matter of practice in the Constitution, is that you lose all elasticity.
You have an absolute rule, which perhaps while these discussions are fresh in the memory will be interpreted in the sense indicated by the Prime Minister, but which in the process of years may 287 easily come to have a force or interpretation very different from that at present in the minds of the Government. I suggest, therefore, that the Government should put into the Clause exactly what they mean, and should define a Money Bill in these words: "Such a Bill as according to the usages and practice of Parliament in respect of the privileges of the House of Commons it has not been customary for the House of Lords to amend." By making reference to the practice of Parliament you would force the tribunal—the Speaker, or whoever it was—to look into the precedents on the subjects and interpret the Clause in the light of the long usages of Parliament, with the elasticity that is always found when you interpret precedents and practice rather than the iron words of an Act of Parliament. My suggestion would carry out in the fullest way the intentions of the Prime Minister, and I believe it would be found to be a very workable or acceptable definition.
§ Sir PHILIP MAGNUS
It seems to me that the Government have placed themselves in an unnecessarily difficult position by endeavouring to define by the process of simple enumeration what is meant by a Money Bill. It is quite possible that such a definition may have omitted certain essentials which ought to be included, and it is still more possible that the words employed are susceptible of a wider interpretation than the Government themselves desire. I think, therefore, it would be really an advantage to the Government to adopt some more general definition than the detailed definition contained in the Bill, and then rely as they might on Clause 4, which declares that nothing in this Act shall diminish or qualify the existing rights and privileges of the House of Commons. That Clause seems to be wide enough to include everything which the Government themselves desire to effect. We are all agreed, as Sub-section (1) is passed, that the House of Lords shall not interfere with any Money Bill. Therefore, the only question is that of giving such a wide and elastic definition of a Money Bill as shall prevent the words employed being susceptible of too wide an interpretation or excluding anything which ought to be included. The proposal of my Noble Friend would meet the case; but personally I prefer the definition suggested by the Senior Member for Oxford University (Sir W. Anson). 288 I suggest that the whole difficulty in which the Government own they are placed would be resolved by adopting some general definition of what a Money Bill is, and then resting on Clause 4, which, as far as I can understand, would protect completely the privileges of this House.
I do not know whether the Prime Minister, now that he has come in, could tell us what he thinks of the suggestion made by my Noble Friend.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I do not think the suggestion of the Noble Lord would be practicable. It would give rise to constant controversy as to what the practice was. As to whether this Amendment should be withdrawn, I really think we are so near an agreement that there is very little left between us.
I think that possibly under the Bill as it is now drafted—to take the illustration given by the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister earlier in the evening—to withdraw from the Consolidated Fund the salaries of the two new judges that the Government have appointed is a course that the House of Commons ought not to take without the assistance of the House of Lords, because it clearly brings in a question of policy. I should have thought that it was very desirable to limit these Consolidated Fund functions to what is purely financial.
§ Mr. BUTCHER
Might I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman another case in which it would be highly objectionable to leave in these words, "charges on the Consolidated Fund." Supposing it was proposed to put the salaries of Ministers on to the Consolidated Funds, that would prevent all discussion upon the actions of Ministers, and it would remove the matter from the jurisdiction of the House of Commons.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
Certain words (specified) might be left out in view of the powers which are exercised by the Comptroller and Auditor-General.
Of course, the right hon. Gentleman sees that the last thing we should desire to do is to interfere with the powers of the Comptroller Auditor-General. Our objection is that certain of the words of the Clause "control or regulation" seem to go so much further. I should have thought that if these words are left out the existing statutes give the Auditor-General all the powers that is necessary.
§ Mr. HARRY LAWSON
Will the suggested alterations outlined by the Prime Minister include money given for the purposes of the Agricultural Rates Act?
§ The PRIME MINISTER
The Agricultural Rates Act was the appropriation of public money from the Exchequer payable to the rates.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
It might have had that effect, but it was an appropriation from the Public Exchequer for the relief of a local body.
What about the case of the collection of carriage licences by the local authorities, where they are actually collected, but not raised by the authority?
§ The PRIME MINISTER
This is a question of raising the money, not one of the machinery of collection. This is the "appropriation, control, or regulation of public money," and does not refer to money raised by local authorities for local purposes.
Of course, similar words will have to be introduced into Clause 4. Supposing the loan was an Imperial or an Exchequer loan, and not a local loan?
§ The PRIME MINISTER
A proviso might be inserted that this Clause did not refer to money raised by local authorities, but perhaps the exact form of words had better be left for the Report stage.
§ Mr. MITCHELL - THOMSON
There is one Clause in the Bill which I think neither the right hon. Gentleman nor my right hon. Friend below me have entirely taken into their calculation. It is only because of the wording of this Clause that I beg to make a suggestion. The right hon. Gentleman will remember that last night the Government accepted an Amendment which had the effect of excluding entirely from the operation of this Clause all private Bills; that is to say, all purely private Bills presented on petition, and proceeding in the ordinary way in this House. But there is a certain class of Bills which may be called semi-private Bills, over which the House of Commons has claimed its privileges to the full. This is an instance of one of those class of cases which would be covered by the Amendment of the Noble Lord the Member for 290 Oxford. I do not think they are covered by the Bill as it stands, or by any suggested amendment. In May's "Parliamentary Practice" the matter is dealt with. On page 582, which is headed "Money Bills outside the Commons' Privileges," it says:—The claim to an exclusive right over financial legislation executed by the Commons has not been extended to Bills dealing with funds set apart for the purposes of general, but not public, utility. For instance, Bills comprising charges upon the property and revenues of the Church, or the Queen Anne's Bounty; dealing with the property and land revenues of the Crown, the proceeds of which are not consigned by statute to the Consolidated Fund; and Bills applying to various purposes the fund created by the Irish Church Act, have been received by the Lords from the Commons, or amended by the Lords, without objection on the score of privilege.The instances cited are the Church Endowment Bill, the Bishropric of Manchester Bill, the Waste Lands (Australia) Bill, the Intermediate Education (Ireland) Bill, and the Arrears of Bent (Ireland) Bill. These are a class of Bill which are public Bills in a sense that they proceed in the ordinary way that Bills proceed through this House, not by private Bill procedure, yet they are not entirely private Bills: they are not excluded by the word "public." I do not want to raise the matter as one of substance for the moment, but I think it is one which the Government ought to have in view, and I hope they will keep it in view.
§ Sir ALFRED CRIPPS
When the Prime Minister is dealing with a proviso excluding local taxation—about which I want to say nothing more—perhaps he will consider at the same time the exclusion of a certain class of Bill which impose what is called a general charge as distinct from a public charge. The two matters might be dealt with in the same proviso.
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
I only want to put two points to the Prime Minister. The first is the word "regulation" ["regulation of taxation."] I hope he will consider that. I do not want to develop the matter now, but strong objection is felt to that on the ground that it might give a kind of extensive power to collectors of revenue. In regard to the charges upon this Consolidated Fund, I hope the words to be employed will be carefully considered. A proposal might be made to reduce the Civil List of the Sovereign, and I do not think that it is contemplated by the Government that a Bill of that kind should be brought in under these words. Or, again, a proposal might be made to make judges more responsible to this House. I would lastly direct the Prime Minister's attention 291 to the word "or" before "matters incidental," because apparently under that you might have a grant of money suspended by reason of matters incidental, and not dependent upon the Bill at all.
§ Mr. HARRY LAWSON
I do not know quite where we stand with regard to such a Bill as the Agricultural Rates Act, to which I venture to draw the Prime Minister's attention, or how we should stand as regards such a Bill as the Church Rates Abolition Act, which was the subject of controversy between the two Houses. That will not be touched I understand.
§ Mr. LAWSON
Then I should like to ask in regard to a case where loans were drawn from the Consolidated Fund and where the House of Commons, having to consider the Lords' Amendments, did not insist upon its privileges. That was the case in connection with the Landed Property (Ireland) Act, 1847, and although the Commons disagreed with the Lords' Amendments, they did not disagree on Privilege. I quote now from Sir Erskine May:—And, though 'Commons disagreed to certain Amendments, which proposed to apply loans drawn from the Consolidated Fund to objects other than those prescribed by the Commons and to extend the time appointed for the application of the loans, their disagreement was not based upon a claim of Privilege.'I only put this exceptional case in the hope that it may be considered, because I do not pretend to know myself.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I am very much obliged to the hon. Gentleman. I cannot, of course, be expected off hand to deal with matters of that kind, but I shall look into them.
§ Mr. BUTCHER
May I direct the attention of the Prime Minister to a point in connection with the words "guarantee of loan." There are certain guarantees of loans that ought not to be withdrawn from the House of Lords. We are in the position sometimes of guaranteeing loans of foreign countries. We guarantee the loan of the Turkish Empire, and I think we guarantee the loan of Greece and we guarantee the loan of the Transvaal, and we have been in the habit of guaranteeing the loans of Indian Railways. All loans of that character ought not to be withdrawn from the cognisance of the House of Lords under the operations of this Clause. Perhaps the Prime Minister will 292 take the matter into consideration and tell us whether when a loan of that character is to be guaranteed. It ought not to be withdrawn from the House of Lords altogether.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I should not like to pledge myself without looking into the matter more carefully, but I should think that the cases mentioned by the hon. Member are purely financial matters, involving a certain liability upon the country. Taking a case like the loan for the Transvaal, that is a matter purely for the cognisance of the House of Commons.
§ Mr. BUTCHER
I should like to raise the question later on. It seems to me a far more important matter of policy than anything else upon which both Houses would be entitled to express an opinion.
§ Mr. LESLIE SCOTT
On the question of loans, I can give the Prime Minister one or two instances offhand upon which the House of Lords did discuss at some length Bills sent up to them. One was the Crimean Loan, which was guaranteed by Paris and this country. That was discussed by the Lords. The Egyptian Loan of 1885 was discussed at length in the Lords on the questions of policy as to whether the guarantee which this country entered into by that loan of £9,000,000 jointly with five or six European Powers was a policy likely to bring this country into international difficulties, and there was a very complete and fruitful discussion in the House of Lords.
§ Mr. EDGAR JONES
With regard to this Clause a measure might conceivably be brought forward later on to place the assessment of rates upon a new valuation. I think if the wording excluded that it would be dropping out a very important Bill.
§ Mr. D. MASON
With regard to the point raised by the hon. Gentleman opposite I think there is no question but that the guaranteeing of loans places liability upon the revenue—
§ The CHAIRMAN
I think these matters of detail ought now to wait until we deal with the individual Amendments. Does the hon. and learned Member withdraw his Amendment?
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. CAVE
I beg to move, in Sub-section (2), after the word "which," ["a Money Bill means a Bill which in the opinion of the Speaker of the House of Commons"], to leave out the words "in the opinion of 'Speaker of' House of Commons."
This is a point which arises, not only upon Clause 1 of the Bill, but also upon Clause 2. On each Clause the point arises when there is a difference between the two Houses as to the category into which a Bill falls. Under this particular Clause the point may often arise whether a Bill is or is not a Money Bill within the definition, and under Clause 2 the point may arise whether or not a Bill is the same Bill within the definition of this Clause. Of course, other questions may arise in other parts of the Bill, but the point I desire now to raise is this: whether the Speaker of this House is the proper tribunal to determine a difference of this kind. The Committee will see at once that in the case I have put there is an important difference between the two Houses. For instance, on this Clause, if the question arises whether a Bill is or is not a Money Bill that involves the question whether a Bill can go through upon the decision of this House alone or whether the other House will have a voice in the matter, and will be able to say whether or not it agrees with the Bill. It is a difference of enormous importance from the public point of view, and, of course, from the point of view of the position and rights of the other House.
In a case like this I cannot conceive that this House will insist that that difference should be determined by the Speaker of this House, or that he should be the judge as between the two Houses. After all, it is the tradition of this House that the Speaker is, as he is called, the agent and servant of this House. He represents this House outside, he claims our privileges and acts under our directions. We all remember the well-known phrase of Mr. Speaker Lenthall, who said upon a celebrated occasion "he had neither eyes to see nor tongue to speak except as this House might bid him." That is the position of the Speaker. He is under the direction, and properly under the direction, of this House, and that he who holds that position 294 is also to be arbitrator and judge as between this House and the other is a position which I do not think anybody will for long maintain. Besides being unfair to the other House, the position would, I think, be far more unfair to the Speaker himself. As we all know, the Speaker is nominated from one side of the House or the other, but we are proud of the fact that once in the Chair the Speaker acts impartially as between the two sides. He has to determine Questions of Order on which he may agree with one side or the other, but if he is to determine a matter of this importance whether a Government Bill shall or shall not be submitted to the other House, or whether a Government Bill shall or shall not become law, he is placed in a very different and a very difficult position, and I do not think we ought to ask our Speakers to determine questions of principle and policy of such great importance.
In other countries, as we know, Speakers have other powers. There are countries where the Speaker of the House is a party politician, determining questions of policy and sometimes directing the policy of the House. We do not want to see that state of things here. But, if you do give the Speaker these great powers the time may come when the Speaker may to some extent be in that position, and I think that is a change that none of us would be willing to see, and, therefore, we ought not to put the Speaker of this House in such a position. It is neither fair to him nor is it fair to those who sit in this House. I am confident that this question will receive full consideration, judging from words which have been spoken upon that point by Ministers. The Prime Minister is here to answer for himself, and therefore I will not quote his words, but I will quote from another Minister. Lord Crewe said:—I may perhaps venture to say that if some other tribunal within Parliament can be found which can be expected to carry out these duties with equal authority and impartiality, that is not a matter we should regard as vital to the Bill.We want to know what these words mean, and what effect will be given to the argument put forward, I think, from more than one quarter of the House? I do not think the Speaker ought to be the tribunal. What ought the tribunal to be? Many hon. Members are in favour of some tribunal having legal qualifications and legal powers. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no."] Hon. Members opposite are not very fond of the law. I am entitled to say this, that if you will put your Constitution in writing 295 it is not to be wondered at that many people think the writing should be considered by a tribunal having legal qualifications. That has happened in other countries. It has come about naturally and unintentionally because where you have written statutes it is for the courts to interpret, and I should not be at all surprised, nor should I myself be sorry if that solution were accepted. But for the purpose of discussion I and my hon. Friends have put down suggestions of another kind framed to some extent upon the words which I have just read out. Lord Crewe is for a tribunal "within Parliament." Well, as consequential upon my Amendment, I have put down a new Clause providing that it shall be referred to a Joint Committee. We suggest a Joint Committee made up in this way. It will consist of seven Members from each House, chosen so as to represent as fairly as possible the parties in the House with the Speaker of the House of Commons as Chairman, with a casting vote. In putting the Speaker in the Chair and giving him a casting vote, it may be thought I am running counter to what I have already said. I think, however, it is far less objectionable to put the Speaker in a position where he will be advised by hon. Members of experience on both sides of the House, who will not look upon these matters entirely from a party point of view. That is putting the Speaker quite in a different position to that which he would occupy if you make him the sole judge. I should not be unwilling to agree to a Joint Committee of that kind, with the Speaker as Chairman. In going so far I think we have gone very far indeed in the direction of meeting the views expressed by Members of the Government. The matter is one of great importance, and I think I have stated shortly the points which occurred to me as the most important upon this question. As I am anxious to hear what the Government have to say on this question, I beg to move the Amendment which stands in my name.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I agree that the hon. and learned Member has raised a most important point. May I say that I do not think there is an alternative or suggestion which has been made on this question which escaped our notice in the days when we were drafting the Bill last year. After full consideration we came, on the whole, to the conclusion to which I must 296 still adhere—that the best and most satisfactory tribunal to settle the question is our own Speaker. I should deprecate extremely any transformation in the office of Speaker to that of the position of a partisan. Anything of that kind would be greatly deplored. I do not, however, think there is any probability of any such disastrous change as that coming about. What will actually happen? The questions the Speaker has got to determine are really much less difficult under this Bill than many of those he has to determine now from the Chair. When we get our definition Clause, as I hope we shall, into a precise, definite, and intelligent shape, I do not think the problem will be one of extreme difficulty, or one upon which, in any sense, we need to call in expert advice from outside. What is the case? The Speaker sits as arbitor in all our rulings, hears our discussions, and he is determining constantly those very points which would be referred to him as questions of privilege in this House.
The Speaker of this House is not a partisan, and our Speakers in this respect have an unbroken tradition since 1834. For more than seventy years the Speaker has been chosen and continued in office quite irrespective of party. We have a remarkable illustration of this in our present Speaker. It is true that Mr. Speaker was elected by the party opposite, to which he belonged; but he has been continued in office during three successive Parliaments, while the other party has been in power. It would be most disastrous if we were to break that tradition by placing a partisan in the Chair. We have a safeguard in the fact that those who have held the high office of Speaker throughout all the democratic changes which the House of Commons has passed through during the last fifty years have not been the representative of a party but the spokesmen for the whole House. What then is the objection to transferring these duties to the Speaker? The Speaker is pre-eminently qualified by his experience and by his high office to deal with matters of this kind. What real objection is there to entrusting the Speaker with these duties? It is, of course, a question for us to consider which is the best amongst the various courses open to us. I have looked carefully through all the various suggestions on the Paper, and I find that they really group themselves into two classes. The first class consists of those which would refer the decision to a judicial tribunal in some 297 form or another. The second class would refer them to a Joint Committee over whose deliberations the Speaker would preside and would have a casting vote.
Let us examine these two suggestions. First of all to the suggestion that these matters should be referred to a judicial tribunal, I must offer on the part of the Government a most uncompromising opposition. We do not wish to see introduced for the first time the determination of these important points of Parliamentary procedure by an external Court; my hon. and learned Friend will not suspect me of speaking with any prejudice against the profession to which I belong, and in which the most strenuous hours of my life have been spent. I think, however, it really would be a scandalous thing to have lawyers disputing over these questions. I think I can speak entirely without prejudice on this point, but I would much rather see lawyers in this House taking part in our deliberations as to the way we should exercise our rights than relegate to an external judicial tribunal what are really the privileges of this House. We know what would happen. There would grow up a mass of case law over all these questions. There would be, of course, litigation, solicitor and counsel, and in the end the points would be determined by judges, many of whom would have no practical experience of the working of our Parliamentary institutions. Inevitably the tendency would be to lay down a hard and fast rule, without any real advantage to what those of us who live and move and have our being in the Parliamentary atmosphere know to be our intentions. If you are going to relegate these matters to a judicial tribunal there certainly will be prolonged delay. I cannot imagine a worse thing than that the whole machinery of Parliament should be delayed awaiting the decision of a court of law.
Then there is another class of suggestion. The hon. Member for Kingston proposed a Committee representing both sides of the House with the Speaker as Chairman, and having a casting vote. What would happen? We know very well in ninety-nine cases out of one hundred, with the most honest intentions in the world, party feelings would influence them. That was so in the case of the trial of election petitions in the old days, but we are now in a more independent position. Even yet there is a strong tendency and temptation which many find it difficult to resist to determine questions of this kind not upon 298 their merits but rather with a view to Parliamentary expediency. You are now proposing to give the Speaker a casting vote, and what is that but an indirect method of arriving at the same result as we propose. You are throwing the ultimate responsibility upon the shoulders of the Speaker. I think it would be very much better in these matters to leave the Speaker to exercise his own unfettered judgment. I have no doubt Mr. Speaker would, when necessary, as ho does now, take the advice of experts. All these Amendments seem to me to assume that the Speaker might possibly be a party man, but surround him as you may with other members of the tribunal he would have in the long run, as I understand it, the over-riding power. I have tried to explain why it is impossible for us to accept this Amendment and why we must adhere to our own plan. I think on the whole our own plan is the best, and the Speaker may very fairly be trusted. Our plan does not cast upon the Speaker any invidious responsibilities or duties differing very much from those which he already discharges to the satisfaction of the House. Under these conditions I must resist the Amendment.
§ Sir R. FINLAY
I entirely agree with what the Prime Minister has said as to the importance of this Amendment. He referred in very just terms to the high esteem in which the Speaker is held by all of us on both sides of the House, and to the great traditions of his office and the impartiality which he has displayed in deciding those questions which come before him. The Prime Minister and hon. Gentlemen in all parts of the House will recognise it is one thing to ask the Speaker to decide questions of order in this House and as between the Members of this House, and altogether another thing to ask him to decide questions as between this House and the other House. The two things are absolutely apart from one another. The Prime Minister says this duty would not be an invidious one, but I cannot conceive any duty more invidious that could be thrust upon the Speaker than to set him to decide as between this House and the other House when it is this House he emphatically represents. The Prime Minister, judging from the honoured history of our Speakers in the past, thinks they could with perfect safety be entrusted with the powers he proposes to force upon them. I quite agree that, as long as we are in the hands of those who have been trained in 299 the great traditions of the past, we should be comparatively safe, objectionable as I think the proposal is, but slowly and surely such a scheme as that to which the Government, I am sorry to find, mean to adhere, may cause, and certainly will tend, to cause a transformation in the character of the Chair.
The Prime Minister has referred to the effect of human nature upon Members of Committees of this or of the other House. May I ask, having regard to the fact that there is a great deal of human nature on both sides of this House, whether the party which the right hon. Gentleman leads might not in the future sometimes be tempted in the choice of a Speaker to have in the Chair one from whom they thought they might look with some confidence for favourable rulings on points on which the fortunes of the Government might, to a very large extent, rest. That is the inevitable tendency of any proposal of this kind, and I earnestly hope this matter will be discussed in a way which even yet will bring home to the Government a sense of the rashness of the course on which they have embarked. The Prime Minister has referred to the proposals for establishing some legal tribunal for determining questions between this House and the other House, and he has stated in very forcible language his objections to any such tribunal. I appreciate the objections the Prime Minister feels, but at the same time I do not think he can be surprised, when he is introducing so startling an innovation into our Constitution as this Bill creates, that there should be proposals for having some impartial and authoritative tribunal to interpret this law, like any other law. The Prime Minister is familiar with the great institution of the Supreme Court of the United Slates upon which is cast the duty of saying whether a statute is one which it is within the competence of the Legislature to pass. That is a duty which I think is discharged with great benefit to that country by that tribunal. It is a tribunal which is respected all over the world, and I do not think the Prime Minister can feel any surprise, when so startling an innovation as that contained in this Bill is brought forward by the Government, that many hon. Members should desire to have some impartial legal tribunal to say what is a Money Bill.
I confess I listened with some apprehension to the reason the Prime Minister 300 gave for desiring that the matter should not be determined by a legal tribunal. He said in this House we knew what the intentions of the legislature had been, and were more likely to be able to give effect to them than any legal tribunal. I venture to say no more dangerous principle was ever laid down than that a law of this kind should be interpreted, not according to the legal meaning of its language, but according to the intentions that were supposed to animate the legislative assembly. I confess I strongly incline towards the solution proposed by my hon. and learned Friend, who has moved this Amendment, and that is the Constitution of a strong Joint Committee of both House with the Speaker in the Chair having a casting vote only. I do not believe a body of that kind would be of the purely partisan character which the Prime Minister apprehends. My impression is it would become the object of legitimate pride on the part of Members of both Houses to serve on such a Committee, and, while the party spirit, as long as human nature is what it is, would not be altogether absent, yet you would find on every such Committee there were men who were ready to rise above the spirit of party, and to decide every question according to the rights. I strongly support the proposal which my hon. and learned Friend has made. I believe the Speaker, as Chairman of such a Committee, would be in a very different position from that which he would occupy if it were cast upon him alone and unassisted to decide in favour of this House or against this House as between this House and the House of Lords. That is not a position in which the Speaker should ever be put, and I most earnestly hope, when this matter has been debated as it ought to be having regard to its importance, the Government may realise that the proposals contained in the Bill is not one to which they should adhere. I confess, having regard to what has been said elsewhere and to something, if I am not mistaken, which has been said here I had been sanguine enough to expect we should have heard from the Prime Minister that there was to be a radical modification of the proposal in the Bill.
§ Mr. RYLAND ADKINS
I desire to support, as strongly as I possibly can from the point of view of a private Member, the proposal of the Government and to oppose the proposal of the hon. and learned Member for Kingston (Mr. Cave). The hon. and learned Member based his argument on the conception of the Speaker being 301 a servant of this House. The Speaker began as a link between the Crown and the House of Commons, and during the seventeenth century he was partly the servant of the Crown, and also of this House. Then the office developed first the duty of protecting minorities and the duty of deciding as to the privilege of this House in respect to the other House. His powers have become increasingly judicial precisely in regard to this issue, and I doubt very much whether hon. Members would find any case since the days of Speaker Onslow where the decision of the Speaker of this House on a Question of Privilege with regard to the other House has ever been other than effectual. Therefore, if you have a long unbroken series of decisions increasingly judicial, you are developing in this House in the person of the Speaker an office largely and increasingly independent of the politics at the time, and you are developing an institution especially qualified, as many of us think, to decide questions of this kind. May I call attention to two matters which show how the position of the Speaker has become increasingly judicial. For a long time his decision on matters of Privilege was only given when he was applied to by Members of this House, but the custom has now become almost uniform for the Speaker himself, on his own initiative, to advise the House when any proceedings of the other House constitute in his opinion a Breach of Privilege. Therefore, you have already in the Chair a tribunal to decide really the same substantial issue as that which is now before the House. The Speaker, also, as we all know, has constantly to decide questions on the Standing Orders of this House, which, in their technical character and the powers of interpretation they require, are surely strictly analogous to the terms of an Act of Parliament which raise this financial issue. I hope the Government will retain the proposal exactly as it is in the Bill without surrounding the Speaker with any kind of advisers or assessors, and without any entourage of any kind. It is surely far more conducive to the stability of the State and to the stability of the proceedings of this House that the steady development of this judicial character in the Speakership should be allowed to proceed one stage more, and that you should leave the decision in the hands of an official, the unbroken traditions of whose office every day strengthen its impartiality, than that you should have a Joint 302 Committee, and, still worse, an External Judicial Authority.
§ Mr. EVELYN CECIL
The hon. Member who last spoke argued that Mr. Speaker has never been over-ruled since the days of Mr. Speaker Onslow. Of course, that is so, because there is no authority to over-rule, and I therefore cannot accept that as an argument why we should accept the proposal of the Government. The hon. Member, in the next place, tells us that the Speaker is the best possible authority to decide such matters as these, because he is notably impartial. We have been fortunate in the persons who have filled the Chair, in having on all occasions very eminent men who have done their best to be impartial. But the hon. Member seems to forget he is asking our own official, our own legal adviser, to decide our case. I do not know what the hon. Member would think if he were sued in the courts of law and his opponent's legal adviser was the person who was to decide the matter. Yet that is the argument which he has addressed to us.
§ Mr. ADKINS
I used one word which possibly misled the hon. Member. I would point out that I do not think there is any case in which the decision of Mr. Speaker in this House, on a matter of privilege with regard to the other House, has not been acquiesced in by that other House and has not been effective.
§ Mr. EVELYN CECIL
I think the hon. Member will find, if he will look up the records, that on many occasions protests have been entered by the other House.
§ Mr. EVELYN CECIL
Because there is no means of maintaining them. The authority of Mr. Speaker in this House is necessarily an authority which cannot be over-ruled. No one else has jurisdiction, and I repeat it is quite impossible to maintain an argument of that character when such a state of things exists. I also hold that it is an extremely invidious position in which to put Mr. Speaker. You rely to an unfair degree upon his impartiality. He is bound, like all of us, to maintain to the utmost the traditions of this House, and if he is to be asked to judge on matters connected with those traditions as between this House and the other House, I venture to say no one could avoid being to some extent biassed in favour of this House. That is not the kind of judge we 303 should set up to deal with matters of this kind. The Supreme Court of the United Slates has been referred to, and if we are going to introduce the beginning of a written Constitution we ought to have some such tribunal as that Supreme Court. This scheme, in my opinion, will never work. The Speaker would not be put in a fair position under this Amendment. I have suggested that the tribunal to decide these constitutional matters should be a tribunal entirely outside either the House of Commons or the House of Lords, namely, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. By way of meeting the proposal of the Government, I have put down an Amendment suggesting that the Judicial Committee should be the tribunal, assisted by the Lord Chancellor and the Speaker of this House as assessors. This would give the Judicial Committee the absolute decision, and it would at the same time have the advantage of the advice both of the head of the other House and of the head of this House, though neither of those eminent gentlemen would have a vote. I think that that is a practicable proposal. It is framed with a view of meeting the Government proposal and of ensuring that our chief official should be heard in such a matter, and that where some technical question arises the Judicial Committee should have the advantage of his advice. If any proposal of this kind is to be introduced, if we are to have a written Constitution of this character, I submit that my proposal would be much more equitable and much more fair, not only to ourselves but to the other House and also to Mr. Speaker, who, under this Government proposal, we are asking to undertake a duty which must be invidious, which is not fair to him, and which is being imposed on a necessarily biassed paid official of this House itself.
§ Mr. MILDMAY
I do not think that those who are responsible for this Bill will deny that it places new and heavy duties on Mr. Speaker—duties which may be fraught with serious and even evil consequences. The Prime Minister told us just now that he believed Mr. Speaker was the right person to act as judge in these matters. But one must admit that the position of Mr. Speaker is already a very difficult one, and it is proposed by this Clause to add very materially to those difficulties. The authority of the Chairman of this House is the one thing which stands 304 between us and disorder. I believe myself that the occupant of the Chair will always be impartial. He will honestly wish to be so, but it will become more and more difficult for him to have the appearance of being impartial if these proposals are carried. I do not wish the Committee to mistake my meaning. I do not suggest anything against the impartiality of the Chair. But it is absolutely all important that Mr. Speaker should never even have the semblance of being partial, and I hold that if we pass this Sub-section as it stands we shall be tampering with and endangering the authority of the Chair, an authority which we all know is the foundation of world-wide respect and admiration for our House. I must not be thought to be lacking in appreciation of the high characteristics of the House of Commons. The Chair is the one barrier between ourselves and anarchy. It must be so in every representative Chamber.
But in no representative Chamber throughout the whole world does the President occupy so important a position as does the Speaker of this House, and that is the reason why we say it is necessary not to tamper with that position. Mr. Gladstone felt, a great many years ago, that the State would incur danger in that quarter, and I remember very well when, in 1887, we discussed in this House the new rules of procedure. Mr. Gladstone felt, and spoke, very strongly with regard to the idea of putting new responsibilities on the Speaker. He said that the office of Mr. Speaker could not afford to be weighted with additional responsibility; that there was already laid on the Chair as great a weight as it could possibly sustain, and it would be most unwise and shortsighted to add to the burden. The right hon. Gentleman added that if it was proposed to add to the burden they might not only endanger the dignity of the Chair in the discharge of its functions, but they might also endanger the efficiency of the House. Now I maintain that those words are actually true at the present time. Are we to leave the Speaker in such a position of absolute impartiality, or are we to drag him down into the arena of party faction? Up till now Mr. Speaker's authority has been unquestioned and absolute. But in the future under this Sub-section, in any case of conflict of opinion with another House as to whether a Bill is or is not a Money Bill, he is to be thrust forward and the Government of the day are to fight under the shadow of his shield. I cannot think that 305 that will be a very good thing. We have no right to assume what may be the view of Mr. Speaker with regard to the matter we are discussing. If I may say so without impertinence, Mr. Speaker has earned a reputation for absolute impartiality during his tenancy of the Chair, and nothing can shake his reputation. But with regard to the Speakers in the future, is it not certain that these new responsibilities will be very crippling to them while yet they have their reputations for impartiality to earn? There must always be two sides to the question whether or not a Bill is a Money Bill. Both those sides of the question may be evenly balanced. Will the Speaker in the future be able to avoid the mere semblance of leaning unduly towards one side or the other? We all know it is necessary not only that the Speaker should be impartial and just, but that his justice should be seen to be just, and if this heavy responsibility is thrown upon him of deciding as between one political party and another, slowly and surely, as was said just now, our belief in the competence and absolute impartiality of Mr. Speaker must run a risk of being lessened, although the Speaker of the day may have given no legitimate cause for such a change of feeling. In these days we want to strengthen the hands of the Speaker, and to uphold his high authority entirely clear of all party considerations, and it is because I am convinced that this Sub-section as it stands will undermine that authority that I support the Amendment.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
I rise to support the view put forward by the Prime Minister, and to add one or two words upon an aspect of the question which has been argued by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Edinburgh and St. Andrews Universities, who expressed an opinion that a court of law would be the best tribunal to decide such matters as would be raised under this Bill when it becomes an Act of Parliament. For myself I have the highest respect for legal tribunals.
§ Sir R. FINLAY
I did not say that, What I did say was that if it were decided to establish a written Constitution, it would be felt in many quarters that there should be a legal tribunal to determine points that might arise. But I did not say it would be the best course. Indeed, I suggested something in the nature of a Joint Committee.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
I am sorry I misunderstood the right hon. and learned Gentleman. But certainly he argued in favour of a legal tribunal, more particularly having regard to the startling innovation which, he said, was being introduced by this Bill. I have the highest respect for legal tribunals, but I have no hesitation in saying that I think a legal tribunal would be one of a bad character to decide a question of this sort. The Committee will understand that I am prejudiced in favour of a legal tribunal, but I think it ought to be confined to its proper sphere, and I do not think that the judges, some of whom have never sat in this House and had anything to do with Parliamentary proceedings, would be the best persons to decide our Parliamentary procedure. This is more especially the case as experience has shown that we have this great danger to face that when you have judges deciding according to precedent, and expressing their views at the time on definitions in Acts of Parliament, you always run some risk that little by little from the expression of those views you get an interpretation further and further from that which was intended by Parliament. We have all known of, and everybody in this House can quite understand, what has been called judge-made law, and I am quite sure that nobody would like to contemplate in practice judges dealing with this matter, which is the peculiar burden of Parliament. When the judges begin to construe words which have been used, and give decisions upon them, they would become precedents which again would be used for further precedents, so that in the end you would find yourselves in danger of decisions very far from what was intended by Parliament when it passed this definition of a Money Bill.
There is no difficulty in theory, I submit, in leaving the matter to the House of Commons and to the decision of its Speaker, but on the one hand it is said if you leave it to him you ought to give him a Joint Committee of both Houses to assist him in arriving at a conclusion, and by others it is suggested that there should be a Committee consisting of either Members of this House or of Members of the other House, with the assistance of the judges or the Law Lords. In truth, however, eventually the matter must rest with the Speaker. It is said the responsibility is too great, but if you have a party division and an equality of votes the result would be that the Speaker would have to 307 determine the question, and nobody would suggest that the Speaker would lose in respect of position in this House, because he had to determine a question which this House had left to him. In truth the Speaker's position in this House is really so great because this House places such trust in him. It is the very fact that a man is elected to be the Speaker of this House that makes him rise to the occasion and makes him discard any partisanship he has, and to feel that he ought to decide the questions put before him impartially. That is what we have learned to expect not from one Speaker only but from a succession of Speakers, and I cannot understand why it is thought because the Speaker is asked under this Bill to continue the work which he has hitherto done in connection with the House of Lords interfering with the privileges of the House of Commons—why it should be suggested that the responsibility is too great or that the Speaker would not be equal to it, or that it would in some way detract from the position which he occupies. What we ask the Speaker to do now is really nothing more than what we have asked him to do before, except with this addition that we are giving a definition of a Money Bill, whereas before he had not any definition of that character, and he has had to state what his own view is of the privileges of this House.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
No more than his decision is binding on the other House now. I think the view was taken and rightly taken which came from the other side in answer to an observation made on this side, and that is that once the Speaker had ruled that it is privileged of course the other House is bound by it. The other House may not acquiesce in it by Resolution, but what the Speaker decides here is the decision, and it is really difficult to see when you have a Bill come before the Speaker and he has to ask himself whether it is a Money Bill or not in order to arrive at that, why he should not turn to Subsection (2) of Clause 1 of this Bill to find out there what a Money Bill is. He will then ask himself: "Does it come within any one of those definitions." If it does then he rules it is a Money Bill, and if it does not he rules that it is not. What is it that it is so difficult for the Speaker to do under these circumstances when you 308 bear in mind what the Speaker does every day and in every Session of Parliament? I cannot see that there is any such startling innovation in that. It is true that the effect of what the Speaker does will have greater importance, and once he has ruled it is a Money Bill it will be presented to His Majesty after one month. To that extent I agree there is a greater responsibility, but the responsibility is for the decision. The position that he is confronted with having arrived at the decision is really the same. He must decide for himself "Aye" or "No" "is this a Money Bill," and the difficulty upon that heading is rather less than it was before, because he will have the advantage of this very careful definition of a Money Bill which will be introduced into the Bill. I quite appreciate what the hon. Gentleman said that it would be a source of legitimate pride to Members of this House to serve upon this Committee. If you had a Joint Committee I have no doubt it would be, but if you had a highly controversial Bill, does anyone in this House doubt that it would be impossible for a man to decide these questions apart altogether from the party view which he holds. I quite agree in nine cases out of ten there would be no difficulty, and that you could trust Members of the House of Commons selected from either side to determine whether or not a Bill came within a certain clause, but in moments of acute controversy that would not be the case. Take a Bill like the Finance Bill of 1909–10 in the atmosphere which then existed in this House. However much a man might strive, and I agree he would strive his utmost to give an impartial decision in the result, of course, the Speaker would have to determine the question. All these suggested Amendments, and the whole matter have been carefully considered by the Government and the Prime Minister, and the conclusion at which they have arrived is, I submit, the right decision, and that the proper tribunal to decide in reference to matters affecting the House of Commons is the Speaker of the House, and we can safely trust him to deal with them.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
There is certainly no such provision in the Bill. The provision in the Bill only deals with the Speaker.
§ 8.0 P.M.
§ Mr. GODFREY LOCKER-LAMPSON
I am very sorry that the hon. and learned Gentleman has not been able to accept the Amendment. After all, the proposal of this Sub-section that the Speaker is to be the sole arbiter of whether a Bill is a Money Bill or not seems to me to be more open to criticism than any other. The hon. Member who spoke earlier said the Chair has already to decide whether an amendment of the House of Lords infringes the privileges of the House of Commons. That is perfectly true, but the circumstances which this Clause has in view are fundamentally different, because the Speaker has had, as the guardian of the privileges of this House, to decide in the past whether an Amendment of another place is an infringement of its privileges is no argument why, under a different set of conditions, new and harassing duties should be thrown upon the Chair of an entirely different character. The two sets of circumstances are in no way comparable. In the past the rejection of Money Bills, as the House knows, has been within the competence of the House of Lords. This right has always been maintained, and, in fact, Liberal statesmen themselves in attacking the claim to amend a Money Bill have acknowledged that the right of rejection is left unimpaired. But the right of rejection is to be taken away, and the Chair has not merely to decide whether any particular amendment in another place is a breach of privilege, but in the future he will have to determine absolutely finally, and without appeal, whether a Bill introduced by the Government of the day in the House of Commons has to be passed into law over the head of the other House and without any further question whatsoever. I submit that such a proposal is preposterous. One or two hon. Members on the other side argued from analogy, but they did not really compare like with like, and there is no real analogy here between the functions of the Chair in the past and his functions in the future. You have altered the whole basis of comparison, and are throwing a colossal and novel responsibility upon an office which was never created for that purpose. His duties in the past have been to preside over the deliberations of this House, to maintain its dignity and act as the guardian of its privileges, and surely it has never before entered the mind of any constitutional Minister in modern times that the Chair should be made to usurp those legislative functions which belong to Parliament as a 310 whole. The Government are asking us to throw a burden upon the Chair which it has never borne and which it was never intended to bear. They are creating a completely new authority, whose functions will not be similar but entirely different in substance and degree from the duties of the Chair at the present time. There is a third consideration. A Money Bill today, according to the Government's view, may be a Money Bill and much more than a Money Bill. It may have as its aim and object not primarily the raising of funds for the national expenditure for the year but the reconstruction of the social fabric from top to bottom. It may be a Bill devised with the object of forcing into law, under cover of the finance of the year, a measure quite alien in character which the Government might fail to pass in the ordinary way on its merits. It may be a Bill framed with the object of altering the basis of property or the system of land tenure in this country. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, for instance, said in his Budget statement in 1909, in support of the Undeveloped Land Duty:—There is no doubt the spirit of greed is unconsciously much more dominant and unrestrained in the case of urban landlords. One disastrous result of this is that land which is essential to the free and healthy development of towns is being kept out of the market in order to enhance its value.The Chancellor of the Exchequer, who is always actuated by the noblest motives, clapped on a tax in order to cure this evil; that is to say, that the Budget of the year was made a somewhat convenient vehicle for a particular social reform which the Chancellor of the Exchequer wished to see carried out, and which he might have found it difficult to effect had it been embodied in a separate measure of its own. What guarantee have we that the same sort of thing is not going to happen in the future? Writing in "The Nation" of October the same year the Chancellor of the Exchequer said:—Personally I agree that the Budget is a part only of a comprehensive scheme of fiscal and social reform—the setting up of a great insurance scheme for the unemployed, for the sick and infirm; the creation through the Development Fund of machinery for the regeneration of rural life.Is this going to be the Budget policy of the future?
§ The CHAIRMAN
I do not understand how the hon. Member applies that remark to the particular Amendment we are dealing with. The only question we are considering it what is to be the authority for 311 deciding what a Money Bill is. The hon. Member is discussing another point which comes up on another Amendment.
§ Mr. G. LOCKER-LAMPSON
I was only trying to show that it will be extremely difficult for the Speaker in the future to decide whether a Bill is a Money Bill or not, so closely intertwined may be some social scheme with the finance of the year. The whole grave responsibility of decision will rest upon the Chair. It will be for Mr. Speaker to determine whether some great social upheaval is to take place or not—whether, for instance, the disendowment of the Church or the Nationalisation of Land is to be passed into law. I believe when the proposal of the Government is realised in its full import every reasonable man will be up in arms against it. It is merely a trick of the Government to try and shift the responsibility from their own shoulders. They think the odium of their measures may henceforth rest elsewhere. It is probable that they are right. I can conceive no proposal more likely to damage the prestige of the Chair than the one embodied in the scheme of the Government. Up to now its impartiality has never been doubted nor its judgment questioned. If, however, the Government are determined to force this Clause through without Amendment every important decision of the Chair will be made the subject of prolonged and acrimonious dispute throughout the country. For the first time a Speaker of this House will be dragged into the arena of party conflict. His decisions will be bandied about on every public platform and impugned at every meeting of the party that disagrees with him. The dignity of his office will suffer a shock from which it will never recover. The most important organ of the party opposite even seems to have had some misgivings in its saner moments. On 23rd May last the "Daily News" wrote:—Even within the Veto Resolutions, there are some openings for accommodation. Take as a single example the provision which makes the Speaker the sole arbiter as to whether a Bill is or is not a Money Bill. That arrangement is certainly not ideal. We have pointed out certain risks in it ourselves. We should have no scruple about entertaining suggestions for an alternative.It is certainly to be hoped that wiser counsels will prevail before it is too late, if not the Government will be committing one of the gravest blunders in its career, destructive of the liberties of Parliament, and taking one more step towards the permanent establishment of an uncontrolled 312 executive. For these reasons, and surely they are sufficiently important, I shall heartily support the Amendment.
§ Mr. MALCOLM
I was sorry to hear the Attorney-General say—I think it surprised most of us—that he could not conceive any extra responsibility being cast upon Mr. Speaker under the provisions of the present Bill. If instead of looking forward to Money Bills of the future he had looked back to the Money Bill of 1909, and thought of what the position of Mr. Speaker would have been if he had had to decide whether that was a purely Money Bill or not, he would have seen the great responsibility which might have rested on Mr. Speaker on that occasion. That possibly might occur in the future, and it is a great responsibility, because, supposing Mr. Speaker decided that a particular Budget was not purely a Money Bill, it is not too much to say that the fate of the Government would have depended upon it. I am altogether disappointed, and I think many of us are, at the attitude of the Government upon the question of the Amendment, for we really had some reason to hope that some Amendment would either be considered or would be suggested by them. The hon. Member (Mr. G. Locker-Lampson) has quoted the "Daily News." That organ, at any rate, saw no great difficulty in accommodating the difference as between the two sides of the House. Lord Crewe in another place at the end of last year said some alteration in the measure was by no means vital to the Bill or to the Government. I had hoped, therefore that the Government would have done more than put a purely non possumus attitude before us when we suggested alternatives to their schemes. I admit to the full the difficulty of the position, and I do not think it has been solved at all by the admission of the Prime Minister that his scheme is the best, but not a very good one at that. I do not think I ever heard a scheme defended from the Front Bench with less enthusiasm than the Prime Minister defended his as against the scheme of the Amendment. I do not know whether one could suggest that, even now, perhaps, it may occur to right hon. Gentlemen opposite, after further consideration of what has happened in the Debate, that their view that Mr. Speaker should be the final arbiter might be bettered, and that perhaps by the Report stage they might be able to provide us with a better alternative. It may not be that of my hon. 313 Friends, a better one may come, and I hope the Government will give that their consideration before the Report stage. By far the greatest objection to me is the intolerable amount of work and the extra burden of responsibility which it will put upon the Chair, which is already burdened to its utmost. I cannot appreciate the point of the Attorney-General that the Speaker will not be brought into the vortex of partisanship and party feeling by casting this great duty on him. Inevitably he will be drawn into that vortex. It is a danger out of which I believe every Member of the House who values the position of the Speaker ought to try and keep him, and all the weight of intelligence and ingenuity of which this House is capable ought to be directed to keeping the Speaker out of such a position so long as we possibly can, and to find some tribunal to take the burden off his shoulders—a tribunal which will have the full confidence of the House.
§ Mr. ASTOR
I congratulate the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite, who gave us his reason for supporting the proposal of the Government. Up to now hon. Gentlemen opposite have voted but have not told us why they have voted. They have been silent voters. I cannot say the hon. and learned Gentleman convinced me, but I am glad to know the reason why it is that I differ from him and what the arguments may be which impel him to support the Government proposal. The result of the Government proposal seems to make Mr. Speaker the supreme and final court of appeal in this country. The Prime Minister earlier in the day referred to the present Supreme Court of Appeal. Usually, I believe, it is composed of some six members. In the United States it consists of nine; six are required to form a quorum, and yet we are asking one person to take on duties which in other countries devolve upon several people. Not only is it not fair to ask the Speaker to take this responsibility, but I do not think it is physically possible for him to do so. Mr. Speaker is obliged to give attention to the Debates. We may go out at any time and work at different subjects, and, therefore, we get relaxation, but Mr. Speaker is obliged to follow closely all the arguments, and, therefore, it is not fair to ask him to take on this additional duty. But, assuming for a moment that he is physically able to do this, that he is an independent entity, and that he is always right, I do not think the Government 314 proposal should be put forward when we see what the result is to be. It is possible to show, taking the arguments of hon. Members opposite, that you are going to give to Mr. Speaker the power even of dismissing a Government. This Parliament Bill admits the close connection between legislation and finance, it states that certain proposals are to be subject to two years' delay for reflection, and that other financial proposals are to become law without any delay for reflection. The Cabinet ask the Speaker to say, yes or no, whether a particular proposal is to become law at once, or whether it is to be subject to delay, and we know that two years' delay may in some cases mean the total loss of a particular measure.
A recent leader of the House of Lords when speaking on the Referendum said that if we were in office and brought in Tariff Reform and if it were put before the people of the country by means of the Referendum, and if the answer of the people was "No" it would be necessary for us to go out of office. It is one of their favourite arguments against the Referendum that if you are beaten on a big proposal you are obliged to go out of office. If the Budget of two years ago, with the Land Taxes, had been submitted to a Referendum, and if the people had said that they did not want it, according to the arguments of hon. Members opposite they would have had to give up office. Now they are asking Mr. Speaker to say "Yes" or "No" on a measure like the Budget of two years ago. They are asking him to say "Yes" or "No" to the question whether such a measure should become law immediately, or whether it should be subject to two years' delay and to possible total loss. That is to say, by their own arguments, they are giving Mr. Speaker the power of dismissing the Government that may be in office. But it seems to me that this proposal will also diminish the authority of the Speaker. It will change our procedure here in the House of Commons. At the present moment we are the envy of all other legislative bodies in the world. In our ordinary procedure decorum is the general rule. It is because Mr. Speaker is not involved in party questions that we recognise his authority and bow to his ruling. It has been the practice in past years for Mr. Speaker to hold office for a large number of years. I think ten or twelve years is about the average term of office. The personality of Mr. Speaker dominates 315 the House. It is one of the most valuable assets of the House of Commons. Ministers may come and go, but Speakers come and stay, and their authority has been universally recognised and admitted. But, after all, Mr. Speaker is only human, and is not infallible. It is possible for Mr. Speaker on some important occasion to give a wrong decision, and if he by some mischance were to give such a wrong decision his authority would be very sensibly diminished. The authority of the Speaker once gone it would be only a question of time before the Speaker went too. Therefore this proposal makes it more likely that in future Mr. Speaker will hold his position for a shorter time. The tendency of the extra physical strain imposed upon him will also be to cause him to hold office for a shorter time. Therefore this proposal of the Government brings us to a triple paradox—namely, the Cabinet propose to multiply the number of Speakers, they propose to diminish the authority of the Speaker, and yet to increase his power. It is on that account that I oppose the proposal of the Government.
§ Mr. CHAPLIN
Many years ago it fell to my lot to propose Mr. Speaker Brand as the occupant of the Chair. It was also my portion in the past Parliament to second the nomination of the present Speaker. I am sorry to say, as one of the oldest Members of this House, that I ask permission to intervene for a few moments in this Debate in order to express the profound regret with which I heard the decision the Government had come to—a regret which is increased, if that were possible, by the thoughtful and able speech of the hon. Member for Plymouth (Mr. Astor). The Prime Minister himself, evidently from the observations which he made, recognised that there were grave and great objections to this proposal. How did he defend it? He began by pointing out that, after all, the new duty which was being imposed upon the Speaker would not be very great. He pointed to the Clause, and said, "I have every hope that the definition of a Money Bill will be so lucid that the difficulty in this case will be less than in the case of many of the duties which the Speaker has to perform now." That remains to be seen. We have only at present got the second word in the Sub-section which is to give when completed the definition of Money Bills. It will be time enough to speak of the lucidity of the definition 316 and of the absence of difficulty in pronouncing an opinion upon it when we see it in its final form. Then hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite ask what is to take its place? The Attorney-General, following the example of the Prime Minister, considered and examined various different proposals and rejected them all But that is the business of the Government, and not ours. We are not responsible for this Bill. Our duty is fulfilled if we point out the grave objections and do our best to impress them on the Committee—objections which are recognised not only on this side of the House, but on the other side as well.
The Prime Minister said: "There is nothing in the world I should regret more than to run any risk of importing any degree of partisanship into any of the duties which fall upon the Chair." I am prepared to say that nothing ever can, ever would, or ever will, make the present occupant of the Chair depart by one iota from the absolute impartiality which has always distinguished him ever since he has occupied that proud position. But what is the position in which by this proposal we are going to place the Speaker? That is the ground on which I entirely object to this proposal. This Bill, if it ever does become an Act of Parliament, and everything which flows from it, will be connected with the bitterest party discussion that has ever arisen during the whole of the forty years I have had the privilege of being a Member of this House. There is no doubt about that. No Member on the other side of the House will deny it. In connection with this Bill, we are going to ask the Speaker to decide questions which, whatever may be the action of the Speaker, must undoubtedly be antagonistic and may give offence to one party or the other. I must honestly say that I regard this proposal as unwise and injudicious in the highest degree, and as an absolute and complete departure from the best and highest traditions of this House, and, above all, I object because, in my humble opinion, we are imposing an invidious duty upon the occupant of the Chair which it is positively unfair to ask him to undertake.
§ Mr. BARNSTON
I hope it will not be considered presumptuous for me, as a comparatively new Member, to say a word in this Debate, in which I think it is naturally more fitting for the older Members to take part. My apology for doing so is this. When we, who were new Members, 317 came into the House for the first time about a year ago we suffered certain disappointments, and in many respects our expectations were not realised. But one thing that surpassed our expectations was the kindness, the courtesy, and the absolute impartiality of the Speaker. I think that anything which would in any way weaken that feeling which every section of this House has for the impartiality of the Speaker would be an absolute calamity to the House of Commons. We ought to remember in this Debate that we cannot always hope to have such a strong Speaker as we have at the present time. There are, the Prime Minister pointed out, many suggestions on the Paper. I do not think the way the Prime Minister defended the Government was very strong when he said he thought the Government plan was somewhat better. But I venture to say that the plan of the Government is almost the worst plan which could possibly be put forward, for the simple reason that it puts the Speaker in a most invidious position in which he may really have to decide the life or death of a Government. Assuming that a Government which had ambitions as regards finance produced a Budget in, say, its third year of office. The decision which the Speaker might have to give might very likely decide that Government's life, and it makes a Member of this House, who is a paid official of this House, practically a judge in matters affecting the relationship between the two Houses of Parliament. Inevitably, the Speaker has, in the course of his duty, to decide between the wrangles on both sides and the different competing parties in this House. We do not want to increase the difficulties. It is perfectly obvious that very great difficulties would probably arise. The Home Secretary told us a short time ago that there were many respectable precedents for tacking Bills to Money Bills. Mr. T. W. Russell told us when the Budget was introduced that it was not only a Money Bill, but that there were many other Bills in that Bill. And I say, in view of that statement on the one hand and that threat on the other, whatever else is done, that if this Clause is passed without being amended it must in future, either on one side of the House or the other, weaken that happy feeling of confidence which every section of the House has in the Speaker to-day.
§ Mr. NIELD
The process of exhaustion of my Friends around me has at last given 318 me the opportunity which I have not had yet, except when I found myself discussing a private Bill with my Friends below the Gangway. I rise to support the Amendment, because I think that the party opposite are drifting a little bit too fast. We have had at least two references to the late Mr. Gladstone, and well-reasoned, cogent references they seemed to me. I am bound to say that one quotation was not as complete as it might have been, but it is not relevant for me to repeat it now. In the other quotation, mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Devonshire, Mr. Gladstone deprecated in weighty language the undesirability of putting any further power or any further duty upon the Chair of this House. We have not had any defence yet of the departure from Mr. Gladstone's principles. It seems to me that the shadow of that great man rests only in the recollection which is now connected with the league that is supposed to prevent intimidation. Mr. Gladstone's words ought still to be regarded with that respect which they deserve even at this time, notwithstanding the fact that some years have elapsed since he left us. I do ask the Government to bear in mind the past traditions of this House, and endeavour, if possible, to save themselves from going altogether over the abyss in casting aside all those means which have hitherto kept us in our Constitutional position as a Parliament to be looked up to by most of the Parliaments of the world.
Lord Crewe has been referred to. We get no answer and no explanation from the Treasury Bench. We do not get answers from hon. Gentlemen behind the Treasury Bench. It is the policy of silence in these modern days that keeps us from a real discussion of the subjects before this House, that is a discussion by both sides to bring out what is true in measures and to find out what is false. We are denied that, but we are entitled to ask the Treasury Bench for an explanation of what Lord Crewe meant in another place when he spoke last November of this provision as being one which the Government were not wedded to. Are we to take it that there are differences in the Cabinet upon this question. I hope that before the Debate closes we shall be assured that on this momentous change the Cabinet are as one, and that they can explain what at the present seems to be inexplicable, the utterances of their Leader in the other place. It is a happy thing that for many years past the Chair, once the occupant has been elected, has been regarded as 319 removed from party politics. It was not always so. In the days of Sir Robert Walpole there was the bitterest conflict over the capture of the Chair, and when the Chair was captured there remained the same difficulties, the occupant being a party man, and using it for party purposes. Walpole's days were 150 years ago, but I may remind hon. Members below the Gangway already that an unseemly Debate has taken place this Session with regard to the alleged partiality of the Chair, and if I remember rightly not a few cheers came from below the Gangway in support of those statements that were made. [An HON. MEMBER: "Four votes."] My experience of votes of this House shows that the votes are no indication of the opinion, but I am not going to be led to digress on that subject on which much could be said. I call the recollection of the House to the fact that there was at that time many cheers of a speech which I should have regarded as one that ought never to have been made in this House, if the Chair were viewed as it ought to be viewed. I am afraid in that respect we are on the downward grade, and it is all the more desirable, therefore, that we should not crowd upon the Speaker additional responsibilities and duties. One of the suggestions made is that this question could be dealt with by a Joint Committee, another that it should be dealt with by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. And here I cannot help recalling the statement of the Home Secretary yesterday, when the Privy Council was referred to as being the body which should give a final decision that all the Government would have to do would be to make more Privy Councillors. This, taken in conjunction with the threat hanging over another place, shows that the Government policy is not dominated by a desire to have an independent tribunal, but that they are prepared, from the point of view of expediency, to get rid of the Assembly, if necessary, in order to attain their object. What is the objection that has been urged against the Privy Council? I can well understand that the Government are not at the present moment particularly well disposed towards the law courts of the land; I can imagine that between Whitehall and the Strand views are somewhat strained. But I would point out that the great commercial law of the country is wholly a judge-made law, and, until the codification of 320 the law of bills of exchange and the law of the sale of goods, the whole of the commercial law, which my right hon. Friend described as the admiration of the civilised world, rests on judge-made law from the time of Lord Mansfield. In my view, judge-made law is as good as statute law, and one finds that a great deal more satisfaction is to be got out of law which rests upon case law than that which depends upon the interpretation of the Statute. There are many statutes which occur to my mind that have been most difficult of construction, and can you wonder at it when statutes are framed as they are in this House under the conditions in which we do our business?
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Mr. Whitley)
What relation has the hon. Member's observations to the question before the Committee?
§ Mr. NIELD
I am pointing out that the Speaker should not have these burdens put upon him, and that where the question is one of an external authority the duties should be put upon a judicial tribunal. I was answering the Attorney-General's slur against case made law and against judicial tribunals. Who are better able to construe a statute than the Judiciary, as in the case of every other Act? Why are they to be deprived in this instance? The familiar case of he United States must be present to every mind. Why was it necessary, when constitutional questions arose between the Senate and the House of Representatives, at the time the Constitution of America came to be written, that the Supreme Court of America was considered the proper tribunal to which to refer the dispute? When we, unwisely, I think, are going to alter our unwritten Constitution by starting under a Bill of this sort to have a written Constitution, why should we not have equal confidence in the judicial tribunals of this country to solve these questions? The Prime Minister said his objection was that such questions would be litigated by solicitor and counsel. The tendency of modern legislation is to oust the lawyer. But why should this matter be litigated by solicitor and counsel? Why could not the tribunal, whether it be the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, of the Supreme Court of Appeal of this country, not have the facts put before them by way of statement? Then the Prime Minister said they would be bound by the hard and fast rules of precedent. Why should not precedent determine this matter before a judicial 321 tribunal as well as the exigencies of the moment? I should prefer to see, and I think the country would prefer to see some suitable and some ordered method of arriving at these decisions rather than that they should be determined by the expediency of the moment. Then the right hon. Gentleman spoke of delay. These are objections which one brushes aside as hardly worthy of consideration. There need not be any delay. The Court of Appeal can expedite Civil cases; they have power over the whole of their work. The Court of Appeal could determine on the morrow any questions which arose. I think that the Government since 1906 have shown their objection time after time to the jurisdiction of the courts of this country. They have provided for Commissions in their Bills, and they take power from the courts and put it in the hands of Commissions. I hope that the reluctance and suspicion which the Government seem to have towards the judicial tribunals of this country may at any rate be forgotten in the present instance, and that they will not impose these duties upon the Speaker, thus enormously increasing his difficulties. There is a possibility in the future that you may not always be able to have, as now, a firm, strong, and impartial man in the Chair, and I submit that in all the circumstances of the case, and in view of the many difficulties which are to be encountered, the proper tribunal to decide these questions is a judicial tribunal which is not responsible to the party in power for the time being.
With all respect, I think the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, in his speech, rather begged the importance of the question, because he laid a great deal of stress on what we all know is the impartiality of the Speaker of this House. The right hon. Gentleman laid great stress on the fact of the few cases that there have ever been in which the impartiality of the Speaker has been impugned. But that is why I myself think that it is so undesirable that the Speaker should have the final decision of a question which does not only concern this House alone but concerns the relation between the two Houses of Parliament. Not only does it concern the relation between the two Houses, but it greatly affects the rights of the Second Chamber. As long as the party system exists in this country, as long as we have two great parties, and other parties, the people must be divided into different camps, and there 322 fore the decision of the Speaker may stir up in one way or another a certain amount of feeling. I fear that if the Speaker has to decide these matters the impartiality of the Chair might be greatly imperilled and the dignity of Parliament lowered. There is grave reason to fear that the Speaker may—I use the expression because it is the only one I can think of at this moment—become something in the nature of a party man, for the reason that if he gives his decision against the Opposition of the day the matter becomes serious. If he gives a decision against the Government of the day the matter becomes still more serious, because it might imperil the position of the Government, and there is a great chance in either case that when it comes to the election of a Speaker, that the Speaker may not be elected again. As well as that, stress can be laid on the unfairness of putting such a position on a man who is already overburdened with work and with vast responsibilities. Just now my hon. Friend, the Member for Fareham (Mr. Lee), asked the Attorney-General as to what would happen in the case of the absence of the Speaker. He was not alluding merely to temporary absence, but to the case where the Speaker might be ill, and therefore unable for the time to transact business. Amendments might come down from the other House and would have to be settled and debated upon here, probably at a moment's notice. Certainly they could not be put off until the Speaker was well enough to decide. Is that power to be delegated to the Deputy-Speaker? I think that is a point on which we are entitled to have some assurance.
To me the whole situation lies in a nutshell. The Government for the first time are introducing, in this respect as to a Finance Bill, what amounts to a written Constitution. Therefore, I do think that on any controversial points of a written Constitution that we should do what is done in every other country, and that the highest Courts of the land, whether the Law Courts, or the suggestion put forward by myself and the hon. Member for Aston Manor (Mr. E. Cecil), that it should be the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, that either one of those two should be the arbiter rather than the Speaker. Hitherto Bills in this House have been, so to speak, on an equal footing; now for the first time we are going to divide Bills into two categories, Money Bills and other Bills. If we do divide them in that way 323 we should do the same as is done in other countries. In the United States, as was very well put forward just now by the hon. Member for Plymouth, all questions referring to the interpretation of the Constitution are determined in the national Courts of Law. If there is any appeal, it is carried to the Supreme Court, which is the final Court of Appeal. I myself favour the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. It is a body eminently suited for this work. It is, as far as is humanly possible, an impartial body. It consists of the Lord Chancellor, the Lord President of the Council, the Lords of Appeal, and Members of the Hones of Lords who have filled high judicial positions, as well as distinguished Colonial judges. This right of action on the part of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, or in the Courts of Law would only become operative in the case of grave differences arising, and obvious doubt. It would not become operative in cases like the Consolidated Fund Bill or the Appropriation Bill. It would be merely so in cases which I cannot help thinking hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House, as well as us, might be anxious to prevent, and that is where there is obvious tacking. That is the whole situation that we do want, not one man, but, as far as possible, a concentration of legal opinion and of the best minds of the country to decide and to prevent in the future anything arising from one side or the other which might savour in the least of tacking on to a financial measure provisions which are not purely financial. On those grounds I heartily support the Amendment of my hon. Friend.
§ Mr. EBENEZER PARKES
There is no doubt chat the scope of the provision as to what constitutes a Money Bill is so wide that there would be a great tendency on the part of the Government to bring all measures within the scope of a Money Bill, so that they might not be interfered with by the other place. I should like to know what would have been the position of the Speaker in the Budget of 1909; I venture to say he would have been placed in a most awkward position if he had decided against the Government of the time and said that that was not truly a Money Bill. Of course the position at that time may arise over and over again in the history of this House. The Government and their supporters seem to look upon this as a very light matter and one to be joked 324 about and laughed at, but I venture to say it is one that might lead to a very awkward position in this House. It is a taking away of the positon of the Speaker from that position of impartiality in which he has to decide question of order, and to regulate the conduct of business of this House, into the region of simple party politics, because I can conceive no question which would be more hotly contested from the party point of view than the question as to whether a Bill is a Money Bill or not. By transferring the Speaker to a position which he has to decide questions of party politics that is bound to create complication with either one party or the other. My great objection to this proposal is that it places the Speaker in a very awkward and very undesirable position, and a position which no section of the House ought for one moment ask the Speaker to be put in. I do not think the Speaker himself would like to be put in this position, and I should not envy the position of any Speaker who were put in this position. I do not mind what the tribunal is, whatever it may be is a secondary consideration to me, but I think the responsibility of the position of the Speaker in this matter ought to be shared with someone else, or entirely taken from his shoulders.
We have to think of future Speakers. We know that Mr. Speaker is a man of almost unexampled impartiality, and judgment, and soundness of view, but there may be a time when we shall not have a Speaker of the same calibre. We may have Speakers of inferior capacity, and if that were the case there would be a tendency on the part of the Speaker at that time to tend towards his own party. If that were the case, it would place the House of Commons in a very undesirable position, to feel that we had a decision given which was not in accordance with the facts of the case. In order to safeguard the Speaker from this position, and if other countries found a way out of this difficulty why should we find it impossible to find a way without putting the Speaker into that invidious position. I venture to say no other great assembly in the world puts its Speaker in that position. Why should we set the example; why should we take upon ourselves to put the Speaker into that awkward position? We ought to consider this matter very carefully, and try to find a more satisfactory solution than that proposed in the Bill. If we cannot decide the matter to-night I would appeal to the Government to postpone it to 325 some occasion in the immediate future, with a view to arriving at some satisfactory compromise. Certainly, apart from all party considerations, I am strongly opposed to the present proposal of the Government.
§ 9.0 P.M.
§ Mr. ARTHUR HENDERSON
Before speaking against the Amendment, I should like to correct what appeared to be a wrong impression conveyed to the Committee by an hon. Member opposite, who, referring to the attitude of Members on these benches, said that he gathered from the cheers which were given to a speech made from the Irish Benches at the opening of the Session that we gave some support to an attack that was then made upon the impartiality of the Chair. I think there are no Members in any section of the House who have a higher regard for the impartiality of the Chair than the Members who sit on these benches, and no body of Members feel more greatly indebted to the occupant of the Chair for the kindnesses they have received from time to time, especially as a new party, than the Members of the Labour party. In regard to the Amendment before the Committee, after listening to the speeches from the other side, my difficulty is to gather exactly what it is that the majority of the Members opposite would be prepared to accept in the event of the proposed words being deleted. The hon. Member for Kingston (Mr. Cave) moved the omission of certain words, and, as I understood him, he was anxious to substitute for the Speaker a Joint Committee of both Houses, consisting of seven Members of each House, who should as far as possible reflect the composition of the respective parties. But that Committee was to have a chairman, that chairman was to have a casting vote, and that chairman, as the hon. Member suggested, was to be the Speaker of this House. The burden of most of the speeches has been that we ought to relieve Mr. Speaker of what might be a very embarrassing position and one that might tend to lower that impartiality which is admitted by all sections of the Committee. But are we quite sure that we should gain that end by making Mr. Speaker the chairman of such a Joint Committee? I can imagine that by so doing, and by compelling him to listen to the Debate that would have to take place as to whether or not the Bill in dispute was a Money Bill—a debate which might as was admitted result in equality of voting— 326 we might place the Speaker in a much more difficult and embarrassing position than he will be placed in if, as the Bill now proposes, he is called upon to settle the question himself. We were also told that by making the Speaker responsible we should greatly increase his duties, which were said to be already too exacting.
§ Mr. ARTHUR HENDERSON
I am well aware of that. The point I was referring to was whether it would not make his position more difficult, and add to his duties, if his time were taken up, as it would undoubtedly be if this question had to be debated by a Committee of fourteen Members, seven of whom, belonging to another place, would be striving as far as they could to convince the remaining seven and the Chairman that their House ought to have some say with regard to the Bill in dispute. Does it not occur to hon. Members that if the Speaker had to listen to the long arguments of such a Committee his position would be much more difficult and exacting than if he were called upon straightaway to decide whether or not a Bill is a Money Bill? It seems to me from this standpoint that we should add considerably to the difficulties of the Speaker, and place him in a far more embarassing position, by accepting the Amendment instead of keeping the Bill as it stands. As I say, it is difficult for us to understand exactly what the majority of Members opposite are prepared to substitute if these words are deleted. So far as we on these benches are concerned, no Judicial Committee of the Privy Council and no Committee consisting of seven Members of the House of Lords, would be more acceptable to us for the settlement of this question than the proposal contained in the Bill. For all these reasons, I think, so far as we are concerned, the only course that is left open to us is to ask the Government to stand by the Bill on this point, and certainly not to accept any of the suggestions that have been submitted for our consideration this afternoon.
§ Mr. STEWART
I have listened to the hon. Gentleman the Member for Barnard Castle, and I do not agree with him at all in the position which he took up in regard to the Bill as it stands at present. I am strongly in favour of the deletion of the words giving the Speaker a new duty. I think it is quite possible, after listening 327 to all the proposals and speeches, to consider that we ought to suspend our judgment for the moment as to the best tribunal to put this most important point to. My own feeling is in favour of the suggestion of the hon. Member for Kingston for a Joint Committee of the two Houses with the Speaker as Chairman. Surely if the Speaker has the advantage of hearing the opinions of seven men of both Houses it will relieve him of the responsibility of legislating upon what might be a most vital question. We have listened for some time during this Debate to questions of general principle and impersonal matters. We are now getting down close to the machinery of how this Bill is to be brought into working order. We are getting to the personal element, and of course that appeals to every man in this House whatever his position may be. The question of increasing the responsibility of an already heavily-weighted officer must appeal to every fair-minded man in this House. We know from experience of this House at the present moment what an effect pressure of work has upon the Ministers of the day. And the point raised by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Fareham seems to me to be most vital. Supposing the Speaker was ill, or has met with a misfortune, or as age advanced he felt the strain, what may happen in a matter of this sort if you decide that the Speaker in future shall settle this great question? We are not legislating for the present moment but for the future. I endorse most heartily what has been said about the Budget of 1909. We do not know yet what is "tacking" and what is not tacking. Three millions of voters voted that the Bill contained tacking measures which were not fair Budget proposals. Rather more than three millions voted that it did not contain tacking. The present position of the country is that those three millions who thought there was tacking still think so, whilst the others continue to hold the contrary opinion. You can, therefore, imagine the position of an individual Speaker at variance with a strong and aggressive Government, which might be either Socialistic or Protectionist. If you put him into the awful solitude of settling that point you destroy that position of respect and esteem that the Chair holds at the present moment. We feel that the right hon. Gentleman at present deals out to us impartial justice, and there is a sense of fraternity, even when he chastens us. That good fellow-ship 328 which exists between the Chair and the House would be, to a large extent, dispelled. I suppose the Speaker's own opinion on this point is not secret, though his position is one of such delicacy that he would not care to give it; but it would help those of us who are anxious to arrive at a right conclusion to know what a gentleman of experience like the Speaker thinks upon the matter. The question of the position of the Speaker, who is a high servant and a shield and a buckler, ought to receive the sympathetic consideration of every Member of this House before he comes to his final decision.
§ Sir PHILIP MAGNUS
I am strongly opposed to the whole of the suggestion that the Speaker should determine what is and what is not a Money Bill. For that reason I am prepared to vote for the Amendment to leave out the words in Subsection (2) of this Bill, "which in the opinion of the Speaker of the House of Commons." I venture to suggest that all Members of this House and of this Committee who feel as I do that it ought not to be left to the Speaker to make this important decision might vote for the omission of these words. I am prepared to admit that there is some difference of opinion on this side of the House, and perhaps on the other side of the House, too, as to what tribunal can be best substituted for the Speaker. I do not think that the revolutionary character of this Bill is shown anywhere more forcibly than in the proposal to leave the Speaker to determine what is and what is not a Money Bill. What have been the duties hitherto of the Speaker? Those duties have been confined exclusively to settling matters among Members of this House. What do we propose by this Bill? That the Speaker alone shall be the arbiter of differences between this House and the House of Lords. That is absolutely a new duty that never has been assigned to the Speaker. The proposal is only another indication of the revolutionary character of the Bill that we are asked to consider. It is not as if it were an easy matter to decide. The definition of a Money Bill is not an easy matter. Members on both sides of the House are now endeavouring to arrive at some understanding as to what a Money Bill really is. Personally I do not believe any words will ever accurately define a Money Bill, having regard to all the difficulties which are involved in a definition. The Members of the Government have been doing 329 their best during the past year to arrive at a satisfactory definition. The Bill contains a definition which it appears they are now prepared to alter, and this after all the trouble and consideration which they have given to the matter. When it is altered, as it may be within the next two hours, it will then be an imperfect definition, which will always be susceptible of a variety of interpretations. You are going to throw upon the Speaker alone the extreme difficulties which you are unable to solve yourselves. That is to say, you are going to shirk this difficulty which you have created and throw it upon the Speaker. That is a most unwise and most revolutionary proceeding. It does not very much matter whether personally I am in favour of a Joint Committee of the two Houses, or of leaving it to Judges. Whilst expressing my approval of the Amendment moved by the Member for Kingston, I am not called upon to give a decision upon other more important matters. But all persons who agree with me in believing that we shall be doing the nation great harm by throwing an undue burden of work upon our Speaker and placing him in an almost impossible position should certainly vote for the omission of these words.
§ Viscount MORPETH
The hon. Member for Barnard Castle, as well as the Prime Minister, took their stand rather upon what they thought to be the drawbacks of our proposals than upon the merits of their own. I cannot help thinking, judging by the speeches which have fallen from the Ministerial side, that hon. Gentlemen opposite are not very easy in their minds as to the selection of the Speaker as the arbitrator. They see objections to it, although they also see objections to our proposals. I am not prepared to deny that there are objections to our proposals, but these objections are inherent to the changes which the Government propose to make in the Constitution. You are removing the power from one of the Houses of Parliament to express their opinion upon certain classes of legislation, and you introduce all these difficulties of arbitration. If we are to have a judicial arbitrator in this country, as they have in the United States of America, we shall, of course, be introducing a system hitherto alien to our Constitution, and, with the natural bias of a member of the Conservative party, I shrink from doing that, and it is very significant that those who sit upon the Radical Benches are equally conservative 330 in this matter, and say that it is objectionable, because we have not had that element in our Constitution in the past.
The Prime Minister objects to our Amendment because, he says, the decision of legal luminaries would be hard and fast, but I thought the whole object of the written Constitution is that it should be hard and fast. You may have light and shade in an unwritten Constitution, but the moment you start to limit the scientific frontier I should have thought that your object was to have it as hard and fast and drastic as it could be. Therefore, it seemed to me rather curious that the Prime Minister should object to judges upon that ground. Then we come to the proposal of a Joint Committee, which seems to be less objectionable, but we are told by the Prime Minister that that also is objectionable, because of the unfortunate frailty of human nature. He is afraid the majority of the Joint Committee would decide according to their party predilection rather than to the judicial aspects of the case. Are we quite sure we shall always have a Speaker immune from frail human nature, and are we wise to build upon the absolute and the enduring impartiality of the Speakers of this Assembly and to assume that they shall always be what the Speaker now is. It was not so in the past. If it is so now it is our good fortune and our wisdom because we do not throw these burdens upon him. But we should be rash in supposing that we should always be so fortunate in the choice of our Speaker. I am bound to say that when people talk of the Speaker, I mean the office not the holder of the office—some of the language is so much in the nature of self-praise of this House that it amounts to the language of exaggeration. I should like to point out to those who make use of that exaggeration and language of flattery that it is exactly the same sort of thing that the creature of some servile despotism uses to the Monarch, and I should have thought that those belonging to the Liberal party would have hesitated before they bestowed such power, and to give this excess of power, not power of maintaining order merely, but political power to decide the effect of the most far-reaching and important Bills that could be brought before the nation to one individual, and to give him the right of absolute decision as to whether upon a particular Bill we shall be governed by a two-Chamber system or a single-Chamber system, seems to me to 331 be contrary to the traditions of our Constitution and to run dangers which it is true we may be delivered from, but which by any misfortune in our future history, if we got a foolish or a bad Speaker, we should most bitterly repent.
I should like to deal with one other argument used by hon. Gentlemen opposite. We are told that the decisions to be given by the Speaker would not be really much more important than those he has to make at the present time. Surely that is the grossest exaggeration. The whole difference lies in the point that up to the present time if this House asserts its privilege in regard to Amendments sent down by the House of Lords, it is always in the power of the Lords to reject the Bill altogether. That is the ultimate power on their side. They say to the Commons, "If you do not waive your privilege we will reject the Bill altogether." It is exactly the same as where you have a sale of land. Where there is free sale there is no need for an arbitrator, but where there is forced sale you have to consider very carefully the arbitrator to be fixed upon, and you have to see that he is entirely an impartial person. The person who fixes the price must be respected by both parties. When taking away all the power from the Second Chamber it is absolutely essential that the arbitrator we appoint in this matter should be a person of some independence, and that he should not be the chief official and embodiment of one of the parties in the Constitution. We should look round to see if it is not possible to find some independent party, someone else outside the two litigants who shall give not only impartiality, but the appearance of impartiality. If we persist in choosing one of the officers of our own House, and saying he is to be the judge, shall we not in the future see Motions put down in this House challenging the decision of the Speaker. Though we choose always to forget it, we should never forget, that even in our own times there have been times when the decision and the impartiality of the Speaker was challenged. It was challenged by the Irish party in the days of Mr. Speaker Brand, when he took strong action against that party. It may be challenged again in the future, and it can be challenged by Motion in this House. I think everyone would think that very undesirable. No one would think it desirable to see Debates inaugurated 332 upon the decisions and rulings of the Speaker, and if it comes to that we may soon find ourselves descending to the position of the United States of America, where the Speaker is not only Speaker of the House of Parliament, but also a party leader in Parliament. It is because this proposal may insidiously lead us to that position in the future that the British Constitution which has existed in the past ought to be maintained.
§ Mr. J. M. HENDERSON
These Amendments seem to be based on the hypothesis that the dispute we are engaged in is a dispute between this House and the other House. That is not so. The dispute begins in this House, and the settlement is between the two opposing parties in this House. If the Speaker is the arbiter, the question whether a Bill is a Money Bill or not would be raised when the Bill was introduced. If that be so, then the Speaker or the arbiter, whoever he is, is called upon to decide the question there and then. How would this work if the judges were to be made the arbiters? Suppose the other side said this was not a Money Bill, and that there was tacking, you would then have to call in the judges. Supposing they decided that it was not a Money Bill. What is going to be done when Amendments crop up which the Speaker in the ordinary course would decide upon? Are you going to have the judges sitting here to be referred to every five minutes during Amendment time? The same thing would happen on the Report stage. If there was a dispute upon the introduction of a measure you would have to call in the decider. The judges would have to be sitting beside during all the stages of a Bill. If you are going to call in an outside authority to decide these matters, the thing becomes impracticable, unworkable, and impossible. I sincerely hope that even hon. Gentlemen opposite will never consent to the bringing in of judges to decide any questions of this kind. Mr. Speaker has done it before, and he is perfectly familiar with the process. He acted in the case of the Old Age Pensions Bill, when he decided that an Amendment could not be permitted because it was a Money Bill, and on that occasion nobody on the opposite benches objected. The Speaker is eminently qualified to discharge these duties, because he decides the question between the parties in this House. I hope the Government will retain the Speaker as the sole judge upon these questions.
§ Mr. STUART-WORTLEY
The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down always speaks with an independence which entitles him to great respect, but I am afraid he is wrong in the doctrine he has just laid down. The matters which Mr. Speaker decides between the parties in this House are confined strictly to two kinds: One is questions of procedure entirely domestic to this House, and the other is questions as to whether Amendments made in another place infringe our privileges. In both of these respects Mr. Speaker is bound by a strict series of precedents, and he is bound not to go outside them or take them further than is necessarily required by the ordinary rules which bind judges to new points arising. I regard this Amendment from the point of view of an old Member. I remember the first day I entered this House how impressed I was with the almost regal honours extended to the occupant of the Chair. I cannot help thinking how impossible it would be to maintain that status were it not that Mr. Speaker's functions and powers were strictly limited to matters of a judicial character applied to an extremely limited class of cases.
Hon. Members on the opposite side often say that we find a difficulty on this side of the House in suggesting an alternative to the proposals of the Government in regard to this Bill. We do find such a difficulty, and we are not likely to shake it off. The existence of that difficulty is a mark of the imperfections of this Bill. Because the Government have proposed the worst of all possible expedients it is no answer to say there is a difficulty in finding one less bad. Whose fault is it? It is the fault of those who try to get the advantages of a written Constitution without submitting to its disadvantages. Is there any other country in the world which does not apply the instrument creating its Constitution to the ordinary tribunals from which legal construction can be expected or looked for? Here you propose to lay upon the occupant of the Chair in this House a duty which cannot be described as judicial. My point is that you cannot call the decision of Mr. Speaker a judicial decision. I do not care whether you call it an executive decision or a legislative decision, because in either ease it will be equally unfortunate and disastrous. If anyone proposed to give this decision to the Sovereign himself, what would hon. Gentlemen opposite say? Would it not be said that it was the most dangerous and disastrous proposal that 334 could possibly be submitted. You are going to make Mr. Speaker step into the position of a Sovereign to decide with Sovereign authority over the heads of Lords and Commons alike. As against this, the subject and the taxpayer may be inclined to call into question the validity of the very laws you pass hereafter. The worst of the thing is that you cannot in respect of this very question shake off the authority of the Courts. The Attorney-General a few weeks ago was arguing before the Courts a question of farreaching importance as to whether the subject, when aggrieved, should or should not, except by favour, have a legal remedy against the Sovereign authority. That raised a question of the very highest policy of freedom, justice, and of escape from oppression. That raised the question whether—
§ Mr. STUART-WORTLEY
I do not think, Mr. Whitley, you would deny me the right of citing illustrations. This Government, in respect of their responsibility, stand in the weak and indefensible position of those who seek to try to get advantages, and to have everything both ways, while they have not the strength of mind to submit to the necessary consequences of their proposal. I submit that this is not a judicial decision which should be laid upon the Chair. What happens where you now submit your decisions to the legal tribunal? Construction takes place, and somebody after all construes the terms of document. The difficulty you have is that at present the tribunals are not allowed, in construing our Statutes, and least of all in construing such as this would be an organic Statute, to look to that source to which best of all and chiefly and most you ought to look for the purpose of defining the intentions of the Legislature, namely, the Debates of this House itself. I point to that as a means by which a possible exit might be found from this difficulty, and to show that at all events the tribunal ought not to be debarred from looking at the Debates in this House for the purpose of determining the intentions of the Legislature who create this organic instrument. It struck me, as we listened, as we did, with sympathy to the speech of the Prime Minister, that we were listening to a speech which everybody felt must be an epoch-making speech, because, if this Bill passes, it is 335 a speech which must in future guide the long succession—I use a neutral term—of Referees to whom this question must be referred. It is impossible to conceive any decision in which that speech will not be a most powerful inspiration.
It is extremely difficult to suggest an alternative to "the Speaker," but that does not make the proposal to lay the obligation on the Speaker anything but what I myself think it to be—an extremely bad proposal. I do say that in other places it is not found impossible where you have written and rigid Constitutions to submit to the ordinary tribunals the construction of the terms of the instrument which creates the written Constitution. One of our principal difficulties here is that our highest tribunal happens, as a pure question of nomenclature, to be called the House of Lords. That, I admit, is a great political difficulty, but it is not one beyond the powers and resources of statesmanship and draftsmanship to get rid of. If it be suggested that it is beneath the dignity of this House to submit such a question as this to tribunals in the ordinary course, it might be possible to say that some newly constituted supreme Court of Appeal should alone have cognisance of questions like this. What are the worst evils you would then have to face? Supposing you got an adverse decision from that tribunal, the worst you would have to face is that your tribunal, skilled in matters of construction—and you cannot conceive any tribunal more skilled in matters of construction—will have said, "It seems to us, whatever your intentions were, it is impossible to carry out those intentions with the words you have at present used." It is in the power of this House to alter Statutes by further legislation when the courts disappoint us in their construction of our Statutes, and it would still be in the power of Parliament to alter this organic Statute, because we are not even by this Bill proposing to surrender that power. I do submit, having no tribunal competent to decide these questions except the highest tribunal in the land, that some means may be found out of the difficulty the Government have created by the proposal which this Amendment condemns by having some tribunal possibly reconstituted in accordance with modern conditions and not debarred from looking to the Debates in this House for inspiration as to what were the intentions of the Legislature.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I listened to the speech of the hon. Member opposite (Mr. J. M. Henderson) because I look upon him as a moderate and independent Member of the opposite party, and I attach great weight to any arguments he brings forward. I therefore listened with great interest to what he had to say, and I am sorry to say he cannot really understand the proposal before the Committee. He-said the question as to whether a Bill was a Money Bill or not would be put to Mr. Speaker at the commencement of the discussion upon the Bill, and that if any question on Amendments arose it would be very much better to go to Mr. Speaker and ask him whether the Amendments were in order than to judges sitting according to the hon. Member, upon the bench underneath the Strangers' Gallery. May I point out that the Speaker does not sit in Committee and is not in the House when Amendments are moved in Committee. Every Speaker I have known, and I have known three, has always held that he has no control or power over the Chairman of Committees, and any question put to Mr. Speaker as to whether an Amendment is in or out of Order in Committee always receives the reply that that question must be raised before the Chairman of Committees.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
That is not the Amendment or the proposal in the Bill. If the hon. Gentleman is going to move an Amendment to include also the Chairman of Committees, that is another thing, but he did not say so. I am dealing with the Bill and with the Amendment. The question whether a Bill is or is not a Money Bill, which would be submitted to Mr. Speaker if this Bill is carried and becomes law without Amendment, only arises upon this question: Is it a Bill which when it goes to the other place has to pass within one month? There is no other question at all submitted to Mr. Speaker.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
The hon. Member repeated over and over again that it would be advisable to keep the Bill as it is, because if any question arose as to an Amendment on a Bill, then Mr. Speaker would always be present and we could go to him for his opinion.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I am endeavouring to point out that question does not arise, because all that will be submitted to Mr. Speaker is this: Is this a Money Bill, and, if it is, does it come within the category of this Bill and when sent to the House of Lords receives Royal Assent after one month or whatever is the phrase? It is not a question whether or not an Amendment can be submitted on the Bill itself in this House. That is not touched at all. The only question at issue is whether or not a Bill is a Money Bill, and that is what Mr. Speaker is to decide. My hon. Friends say that to leave that decision in the hands of Mr. Speaker is to put him in an invidious position. I venture to say my hon. Friends in that are right, and that hon. Gentlemen opposite are unable to bring forward any arguments to show that they are wrong. Allow me to put to hon. Gentlemen what possibly might happen. A Money Bill is brought forward by a Government with strong feeling in a given direction, and that particular Bill has in it provisions which create very great hostility amongst certain sections in the country. It really, in the opinion of this side of the House, goes beyond the definition of a Money Bill. The definition of a Money Bill is extremely wide, and what I want to point out is that the only question to be submitted to Mr. Speaker is whether or not it is a Money Bill. If he decides it is not is it not conceivable that when he retires the party in power against which he gave that decision may be tempted to say, "We will put into the Chair somebody who will give a decision more palatable to us."
§ Mr. J. M. HENDERSON
That did not happen in your Parliament. Your Leader brought in a Redistribution Bill, and a Speaker chosen from your own side decided against the form of the Resolution. Yet it did not prevent you re-electing him to the Chair.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
This Bill is not yet law, and how can Mr. Speaker have exercised powers under a Bill which is not yet the law of the land? I really think the 338 hon. Member who last interrupted me had better get a copy of the Bill and make him-self acquainted with its provisions. This is another illustration of what we all know, and that is that the majority of hon. Members on the other side of the House do not in the least understand the Bill. They vote only according to the directions of the Whips, and they do not know what they are voting for. Now I would like to reply to the hon. Member for West Aberdeenshire. We have never had a Speaker put in that position, and it is because both sides of the House have always put above everything the impartiality of the Speaker that we have hitherto been favoured with Speakers impartial whom both sides of the House respect. It is a very serious thing to put a duty upon an official of the House which will lay him open to the suspicion that he has been influenced by the people who have appointed him or will have the power of appointing him in a fresh Parliament. There is no necessity whatever for that. After all, what we want is a decision whether or not a particular Bill conforms to certain conditions which are laid down in this Act.
We hear a good deal below the Gangway about democracy. We sometimes hear something about it on this side; but I would point out that the question here is the interpretation of this Bill which, if passed, will be somewhat of a written Constitution for this country, and in America, where there is a written Constitution, all questions which concern that Constitution are referred to a Supreme Court consisting of two, five or six judges. [HON. MEMBERS: "Nine."] Well, nine judges, I am not concerned as to the number, I am concerned with the principle. It is not a new principle, as hon. Gentlemen seem to think, that there should be judges to decide questions affecting the written Constitution of the country. It is a principle which has been carried out by a great democratic country like America, for which hon. Members below the Gangway profess great admiration. I only rose to endeavour to explain to the hon. Member for West Aberdeenshire the position. He has an open mind. I am certain he is desirous of doing what is the best according to his lights. In that I am quite sincere, as he will admit. I wish to show him that he is wrong. I want him to remember that we are now going to decide upon one of the most important questions contained in this Bill. We are going to decide upon something which may alter the whole character of Parliament for 339 years to come. It is not a question which ought to be considered lightly or from a merely party point of view, and if any hon. Member has any doubt as to what the result of this provision might be, then, I say, in view of the immense and supreme importance of putting into the hands of Mr. Speaker duties which might lead to the degradation of his high office, he should give a vote in favour of the Amendment and against this Clause.
§ Mr. BIRD
I think the whole House is agreed that this particular provision in the Parliament Bill is a very weak spot, and one that even hon. Members opposite feel considerable distrust about. The responsibility put upon Mr. Speaker is a very serious one, and I think we ought to be very careful before we finally settle that that is a burden which he must bear for the future. The Prime Minister appeared to base his case on the judgment of the Speaker alone, and he objects to the various Amendments which have been proposed with the object of dividing the responsibility, and relieving the Speaker of it to some extent. The right hon. Gentleman divides the Amendment into two categories, to both of which he objects. First of all he objects to legal tribunals, because they travel outside this House, and then he objects to Joint Committees because he fears that the Members of those Committees would be actuated very much by partisan views. I have on the paper an Amendment the object of which is to assist Mr. Speaker in arriving at a decision on various questions, by affording him the counsel and advice of two of the most distinguished luminaries that we have in our system of Government—the Lord Chief Justice and the Master of the Rolls. I venture to suggest that this Amendment is not open to the objection which has been put forward by the Prime Minister. It can in no sense be regarded as a legal tribunal, and I think we are all agreed that it would very much strengthen the hands of the Speaker in arriving at whatever decision he might come to. He would enjoy the advantage of consultation with two men whose judgment this House and the country would trust most implicitly, and on that account I would ask the House when the time arrives to give this Amendment its serious consideration. While doing so, I am bound to say that I have a very great belief in the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Kingston (Mr. Cave), which would perhaps from the 340 legal point of view be even more satisfactory. It seems to me that this House is always conducted by a process of compromise, and therefore I again suggest with great respect for the consideration of the House the Amendment which stands in my name lower down on the Paper.
I am sorry that absence from the House has prevented me from taking an earlier part in the Debate, but the question is so important and touches so nearly, not merely the Constitution at large, but the interests of this House, that I think that the Members of the Committee will desire that I should say a few words before we come to a decision upon it. My hon. Friend who spoke last but one said quite truly that under this Bill we are making our Constitution to a certain extent a written Constitution. Directly we make the Constitution, even in the smallest respect, a written Constitution, we are driven by irresistible logic to find some tribunal before which cases which arise under the Constitution may be tried and decided, and it is absolutely necessary without a doubt that if we are to carry out the policy of the Government, if we are to have anything in the nature of Clause 1 or Clause 2—but certainly of Clause 1—you must find some tribunal which is to decide whether the conditions laid down in Clause 1 have in any particular case been complied with. Therefore, although it is melancholy, even disastrous, that we should be driven to it, driven to it we are, and the problem before the Committee at the present moment—the Committee which has decided that it will have Sub-section (1) of this Clause—the question is not whether we shall have a tribunal or whether we shall not, but what that tribunal shall be. Some tribunal we must have, and what we have to decide is what sort of tribunal is most fit to deal with the conditions of the case, and is most congenial to develop our British Constitution and the character of Parliament.
My colleague in the representation of the City of London (Sir F. Banbury) has pointed, and I think pointed with great force, to the American example. The authorities in America found themselves having to deal with thirteen separate and independent Colonies. Having made a Constitution which should embrace all of them, and having to decide as to what matters were of national and what of provincial interest, what depended upon the separate States, and what ought to belong 341 to the community as a whole, they were driven, and necessarily driven, to make the whole Constitution of America subordinate to a legal tribunal. No other course was open to them, and on the whole nobody will deny that Constitution has in the main worked well. But that is not our position, and I frankly say that, having given a great deal of thought to this question I do not believe that as a matter of fact either the House of Commons or the House of Lords—either the First Chamber or the Second Chamber—would tolerate the domination of any body of judges however distinguished. I do not say if we had a different history behind us—if we had to face the problem which the Americans had to face, we should not be driven like them to a similar result. But I do not think at present as things are, that we should tolerate nine gentlemen however distinguished or however impartial—however they might command the general confidence of the community—having to decide upon questions hitherto determined by the unrestricted decision of the two Houses of the legislature and the Crown.
Therefore great as are, and admitting the advantages of an impartial tribunal of that character, I really doubt whether it would be possible for us to adopt it. If we took any of the existing tribunals, say the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, which does admirable work now in the case of the Over-sea Dominions of the Crown—I think if we were to throw upon the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council the duty of intervening in party controversies, although I do not believe that you could have a tribunal which would receive more universal acceptance from all parties in the State—I think in such an event it might become the subject of party attack either from this side of the House or that side. The result would be that you would diminish its authority in the cases which it now decides with universal acceptance, or at all events with the greatest possible measure of acceptance, in all parts of the world, and you would not obtain for your own purposes a tribunal which would be beyond and above every species of criticism. I, perhaps, am very far from being free from Constitutional prejudices, but I should greatly regret to see any scheme under which any question at issue between the two Houses—any question that had to be decided by the historic Parliament of this country would be taken away from that historic Parliament and handed over 342 even to the most distinguished body, impartial perhaps in character, but, after all, composed of citizens with their own political views, taking, perhaps, not an inactive part in their own local political controversies, and not necessarily lifted above the whole sphere of controversy in which we live and move and have our being. In fact it seems to me that we have been brought up from our very youth so immersed in the very atmosphere of political controversy that it is almost inconceivable that any citizen worthy of the name should have been all his life above and beyond party opinions and, if you please, party prejudices. That applies, or may apply, to any tribunal, and I think must apply to any tribunal which you elevate above both the House of Commons and the House of Lords—both the First and Second Chamber. Therefore, for my own part, I do not believe this House, however composed or whatever party was in the ascendant, would ever permanently acquiesce in the domination of any tribunal, however brilliant, distinguished, or impartial.
If that be accepted, and if the premise also be accepted that I started with, that we must have some tribunal, to whom are we to look? The Government have come forward, and in a rather light-hearted spirit have suggested that the Speaker of this House is to take the place occupied in the United States of America by nine impartial judges. I do not think that is fair upon the Speaker, and I do not think it is fair upon the House of Commons, and I do not think it is tolerable from a constitutional point of view. After all, it is only through a long evolution that we have been able to arrive at the impartial Speaker. At this moment in the United States of America, if I am to go back to that great sister democracy, the Speaker is frankly and openly a party man. There is no disguise about it. Every American citizen will tell you it is so, and he will accept it as the natural and normal state of affairs. In this country it is easy, if anyone will search our records, to see that there have been periods when the Speaker did not stand as an even authority, between the majority and the minority. He was not the impartial and accepted judge, but he was not only the nominee, as indeed he must be, of the majority for the time being, but after he was nominated and after he was accepted he never forgot the source from which he obtained his authority, and he leaned to one side or the other, and had 343 not learned what the Speakers of the last seventy or eighty years have learned, that this House can only exist and retain its credit if they, whatever their original predilections may have been, and to whatever party they may once have belonged, hold the balance evenly between all sections of the House.
That has been the heritage of this House, won with extreme difficulty after a long struggle. I believe we are the only House, though I do not wish to dogmatise on the point, in which the Speaker is frankly and admittedly known to be, and accepted as being, an impartial judge as between parties. I do not think we ought to risk that hard won heritage by throwing upon the Speaker duties which go far beyond the lines of this House and touch great political issues in which both Houses of Parliament and the whole country are equally involved. Therefore I think, from the point of view of the House and of the Speaker himself, we should commit an irreparable mistake if we dragged in the Speaker as a substitute in our newly written Constitution for the nine judges who carry out that great and difficult function in the United States. I am not an expert on the legal relations in this matter between our great self-governing Commonwealths and ourselves, but I believe that in any case where they have to appeal for a judgment on their written Constitution they come to our Privy Council. But they come to a body which knows nothing, so to speak, of the sort of party dispute which divides us in this House day by day, who are above it and beyond it. Neither the Privy Council nor the Speaker by himself is in that position. Just consider in what position you put the Speaker. Let anyone read Clause 1, even as it is proposed to be amended, and ask himself what sort of questions Mr. Speaker will have to put to himself. Let any Gentleman cast his mind back to our Debates on the Budget of 1909. Was that a purely financial measure, or was it not? I am not, of course, disputing at all the propriety of bringing in in the Budget matters which are beyond the province of strict finance, and I am not discussing whether that particular Budget was justifiable or unjustifiable, but supposing the point had been raised in this House, or the other House, Does this Budget of 1909 in its Licensing Clauses and its Land Clauses go beyond the province of pure finance? Does it touch upon larger issues? Will anyone on either side of the House 344 say that that is a plain, an easy or a simple issue? I think it is a profoundly difficult issue, and while each of us might, according to the complexion of our political opinions give an answer, Aye or No, to that question, I think even those who most loudly shouted "Aye," or most confidently asserted "No," would in their hearts be conscious that the problem was one of extreme difficulty and complexity.
Can you ask the Speaker, elected to preserve order and dignity within these walls, to judge on a question of that sort? When he has judged whether it was Aye or whether it was No, whether he said the Budget of 1909 was purely finance from beginning to end or, on the other hand, while there was, of course, a great deal of finance in it there were problems quite outside finance—can you imagine the position of the Speaker after he had given that decision. Where will he be? With what eyes will he be looked at by those against whom he decided? The burden thrown upon the Speaker of this House is surely sufficiently heavy as it is. Difficult at all times in these modern days of stress, it is more difficult than it has ever been before, and would any man, knowing how easily the thread, so to speak, on which the difficulty of the House depends might be severed, any man who has had experience of those critical moments, when it seems to depend upon the balance of the moment whether the judgment of the Speaker will be accepted unanimously, and whether he, as the spokesman of the House, will be able to control the House, would anyone conscious of the dignity of that position, knowing how much depends upon it, really come forward and suggest that on the shoulders of the Speaker, in addition to his proper duty, should be thrown this enormously difficult judicial function? That seems to be pure lunacy, and I beg the House, before they finally come to a decision, to think how they are imperilling not merely the ancient practice of the country, but dignity and order within these walls. That is not an easy problem to decide. The future of this House is not so clear and simple as it may appear to hon. Gentlemen opposite. I have always been a most faithful believer in the continuity of the traditions of this House. Everybody, I think, will do me the justice of saying that I am a believer in this House, but do not let anybody think that it is an easy matter to keep this House what it is now—a model to every representative assembly throughout the world. It is not an 345 easy matter, and it is not going to become an easier matter as the progress of time goes on. But if that is so, do not overburden the man on whom the whole of this depends. He is the guardian of our traditions. He is the man who not merely on his own authority, but as embracing and representing the traditions of generations, appeals to men of all opinions, all classes, and all nationalities in the United Kingdom, and who has never yet appealed in vain. But his authority, great as it is, based as it is upon immemorial tradition, is not unshakable, and if you insist that, in addition to all the difficult work which he has to deal with, he is to take the place of a judicial tribunal as between the Houses, I say you are overburdening an already overburdened officer. If these arguments do not appeal to hon. Gentlemen, I ask them whether it is right that one Chamber should be the deciding influence in a matter which concerns both Houses. You are asking the Speaker to decide not on a question of our domestic politics, of House of Commons politics, but you are asking him to come forward and say as between the First and Second Chambers what belongs to the one and what belongs to the other. If you think of this as a matter of abstract justice, is that a proper position in which to put the Speaker? I say it is a fundamentally false position. You are asking the Speaker to decide, if I may say so, in his own cause. He is the representative of the House of Commons, and it is his business to represent us. He embodies our spirit, and he carries our standard. He is the representative of our traditions, and he is our officer. Is it proper to ask him to decide upon a controversy which is not ours alone, but which concerns a matter which also affects the other House?
§ Mr. MacCALLUM SCOTT
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman if the Speaker does not already fulfil that function?
No, Sir, he does not. The Speaker tells us when, let us say, financial clauses come down from the other House what in his opinion, according to the traditions of this House, are the privileges of this House. He does not represent the privileges of the other House, and he has no power to do so. Over and over again, as the hon. Gentleman is perfectly aware, the other House, 346 after having considered the ruling of the Speaker and assented to the course which this House has taken on his ruling, has put formally on record that they do not think the Speaker of this House has properly interpreted their privileges. They say that in their judgment the Amendment which they have introduced into the Bill is perfectly within their competence as a Second Chamber. That you are going to abolish. You are going to make the Speaker of the House of Commons the Speaker of the House of Lords. At the same time you are going to make him what he has never been before—a ruler over another Assembly than the one over which he so admirably presides. That is an intolerable and impossible position to put him into. I do not believe that any man who has really considered the history of the Speakership of this House and has really considered what great responsibility is thrown upon the Speaker can regard without great misgiving, even if he is on that side of the House, the new responsibilities which you are seeking to place upon his shoulders. There is a proposal on the Paper for a Committee in which both Houses are represented and equally represented, and on which Mr. Speaker shall have a casting vote. That puts him in a perfectly different position from that in which the Bill puts him. It puts him into a great position, a difficult position, a most responsible position, but it does not leave him isolated without knowing the arguments to and fro, without being able to weigh the value of the contending cases. It does not oblige him to stand up in the Chair and in the manner in which he decides a point of Order as among ourselves to decide some great constitutional issue between the two Houses, and upon which great political and great social issues may depend. I do beg the House of Commons, while I agree with the Government that you cannot put any body of judges, however distinguished, over us as the controlling power, I do beg of them not to ask the Speaker to do that which no Speaker is elected to do. I ask them to find some Committee representing both Houses in which, if you please, the Speaker shall have a casting voice, in which he shall be only one of a relatively large number of persons elected from both Assemblies over which he is called to preside, and that it shall only be when they speak with an equally divided voice he shall come in as the deciding factor. The Government are on the wrong track in this matter, and it is with a really deep 347 assurance that I am on this occasion representing the true constitutional tradition of this country that I beg them to modify the policy which is embodied in this Bill.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
Much as we may differ from many of the propositions in the right hon. Gentleman's speech there is one which all of us on this side of the House have heard with the greatest satisfaction. That is his condemnation, emphatic and unqualified, of the suggestion that this matter should be relegated to a judicial tribunal to decide. It is indeed obvious that for practical reasons the matter must be referred to an authority which is readily accessible and always available. And the suggestion that when at the end of the Session the Lords' Amendments come down for the consideration of this House, a meeting of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council should be hurriedly summoned, or that messengers should be sent across to the Court of King's Bench to decide whether or not those Amendments infringe the House of Commons privilege is indeed a most ludicrous proposition. And, on higher ground, I think this House will never consent that any outside authority should be brought in to over-ride the decisions of the High Court of Parliament. This opinion, expressed by the right hon. Gentleman is also the opinion expressed in the other House by Lord Lansdowne, speaking on the same topic, and I think, therefore, we may consider that after to-night this suggestion of an outside judicial tribunal is for ever disposed of. Further, I think we shall all of us agree with everything the right hon. Gentleman said as to the importance of maintaining the absolute impartiality of the Speaker in this House. It is, indeed, as we all know, one of the most precious possessions of the House of Commons, and we should be ill guardians of the interests of this House if we did anything that would be likely to turn the occupant of the Speaker's Chair into a partisan officer. But I do not think the right hon. Gentleman, nor any of the numerous speakers who support him on that side, whose speeches I had the privilege of hearing, has really impaired the force of the two propositions laid down this afternoon by the Prime Minister. The first proposition is that the Speaker is now, and has long been, the tribunal to decide what are matters within the privileges of the House of Commons, and that 348 the task which is now thrown upon him, is not essentially different from the task which he has performed for very many long years without any danger to his reputation for impartiality.
We are all of us accustomed to see the Speaker, especially at the end of the Session, when these matters come thick and fast, rise in his place and in a few words rule certain Amendments sent down by the House of Lords as being out of order and as dealing with matters within the competence of the House of Commons. For example, there was the matter of the Old Age Pensions Bill and the limitation of the operation of that Bill to seven years. It was not a Money Bill, but there was a money provision in it though it was not a Money Bill, and the Speaker had to perform the duty of deciding whether or not that Bill touched matters of finance.
He did so. It was a grave matter of national policy, but I do not think his decision has ever been called in question, or his position as Speaker of this House has been in the smallest degree impaired by that decision. But the right hon. Gentleman says that the Speaker, under our proposals, might have much larger questions than that to decide. Suppose, for example, you take the case, say of the Budget of 1909, if the Speaker had been called upon to say whether or not that was a purely financial measure, a measure raising the greatest political passions, a measure of fierce controversy, the right hon. Gentleman asked, How can you ask the Speaker to decide a question of such difficulty and of such gravity? But suppose the House of Lords, in the autumn of 1909, had taken a somewhat different course, and instead of rejecting the Budget Bill in that year on the Second Reading, they had placed their finger on certain portions of that Bill, and said, "These provisions are not financial, we will strike them out of the Bill. Your Land Valuation is not a financial provision; we shall move Amendments omitting it. Your Licensing Duties are in form financial, but in essence and intention licensing legislation not of a financial character. We shall omit them." That was a very probable course for the Government to pursue. Many persons anticipated that they would very likely pursue it, and if they had done so, what would have occurred? The Bill would have come back to this House so amended, and the Speaker, under the existing Constitution, would have been required to do precisely the very thing— 349 [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no."]—precisely the very thing—[HON. MEMBERS: "No, no."]—I assert there is really no distinction, the distinction is so fine drawn as to be utterly negligeable. If the right hon. Gentleman does not see that the position is the same I took his own illustration. He himself took the Budget Bill of 1909. He said that the Speaker would have been called upon under this proposition to decide whether that was or was not a purely financial measure. That is not the proposition. What I am putting is what might have occurred in practice under our existing Constitution. Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will explain it further.
If the House of Lords sent down either the Finance Act of 1909 or any other Bill which had a Clause which might be represented or was purely a financial Clause, the Speaker of this House would have told the House how he read the privileges of this House. That would not have affected general legislation, that would not have compelled the assent of the House, that would not have made the Bill become law in a month. Up to the present time the Speaker has only given his own opinion upon our privileges, not upon the broad question which is raised under this Bill; nor has it any efficiency outside this House, nor does it override the decision of another place.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
It is quite obvious that the effect of the Speaker s declaration may be different under our existing Constitution. It may be of no value; and it may be that the House of Lords may nevertheless reject the Bill, but the duly cast upon the Speaker, the character of the declaration he has to make the matter on which he has to adjudicate is precisely the same. If damage is done, and if his position is endangered by having to rise in his place and make a decision on our proposals, precisely the same damage may be done to his reputation for impartiality, and he may be dragged into the party arena to exactly the same extent under our existing law and practice by the decision he is required to express.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
The Speaker's position will be easier under our Bill than it has hitherto been. Mr. Speaker will have embodied in this Clause the specific categories of financial legislation, which 350 will guide him in his decision, and enable him to arrive at a conclusion with greater ease than hitherto. The only difference between the position of the Speaker in the past and in the future will be that in the future his decision can be enforced, and is not open to be defeated by the House of Lords. We insist, and we maintain, that the House of Lords now have no right to reject measures which the Speaker of this House has declared to be financial in their character, and we go no further than what we hold to be the existing practice of the Constitution. The Prime Minister's second proposition was that, apart from extra-Parliamentary and judicial tribunals, which are now ruled out, all the proposals—almost all the proposals made, do include the Speaker as an essential part of the authority to decide, and do indeed make him the central figure in that authority. The right hon. Gentleman himself in his concluding remarks adumbrated his alternative that it should be a Joint Committee of the two Houses, over which the Speaker is, I understand, to preside. And the House of Lords themselves in their Resolutions of November of last year proposed on this point that if a question arose as to whether a Bill was in its provisions purely financial in character that question should be referred to a Joint Committee of both Houses, with the Speaker of the House of Commons as Chairman, and that he shall have a casting vote only. It implies that the two Houses should have an equal number of representatives, and that the final deciding voice should be that of the Speaker. Everyone acquainted with the working of any kind of arbitration tribunal knows that when the two sides appoint an equal number of representatives on the tribunal, and a chairman is also appointed with a casting vote, it is always or almost always the chairman who does in fact decide. I suggest that it is indeed a very fine-drawn distinction to say that if you have a Joint Committee with the Speaker having a casting vote, ultimately deciding a matter which may be hotly contested between the two Houses, it will not in any way affect his impartiality or his position in this House, but that if you leave the Speaker alone to decide at the outset on his own motion you are undermining the most sacred institutions of Parliament. A minor question was raised earlier in the Debate of what would happen supposing the Speaker were ill or absent. Undoubtedly considerable inconvenience might be 351 caused in such a case, but so it would under any of the other propositions that have been set out with the Speaker having a casting vote. Similar inconvenience would be caused to precisely the same degree. Therefore I ask the Committee without any doubt or hesitation whatever to stand by the Bill as it has been framed and to reject the Amendment.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
I am sure the whole Committee felt when the right hon. Gentleman rose that he had a very difficult task before him. I am sure also that there are few on this side of the House who do not admit that the right hon. Gentleman has an extremely clear mind, and is as well able as most of us to see a distinction where one exists. Therefore, nothing shows more clearly the absolute hopelessness of his case than the fact that the right hon. Gentleman could find no distinction between the duties which are now performed by the Speaker and those which are to be imposed upon him by this Bill. Before dealing with the distinction, I should like to refer to the last point raised by the right hon. Gentleman. It is perfectly true that even if the course suggested by my right hon. Friend were adopted there would still be something of the position of the Speaker being rendered more difficult than it is at present. At the same time is it not perfectly obvious from that point of view that, if the Speaker is one of fifteen men, if in coming to a decision the matter is talked over, the pros and cons on either side are put forward, and it is only after that discussion a decision is given, a part at least of the burden is taken from the Speaker?
But, coming to the real object for which I rose, the right hon. Gentleman said that there is no distinction, except of hairsplitting, between what the Speaker does now and what he will have to do under the Bill. It must be perfectly obvious to him, as it is to every other Member of the Committee, that in making that statement he absolutely ignored the last part of the speech of my right hon. Friend. He ignored absolutely the fact that under this proposal the Speaker is to be made judge in his own court. He is not that now. He judges only from the point of view of the House of Commons. He says, and the right hon. Gentleman will not deny it: "These are our privileges," and he asks us to maintain them. Beyond that he has no power. He does not decide what are the privileges of the House of Lords. What 352 you propose is to make him arbiter of the privileges both of the House of Commons and of the House of Lords. [An HON. MEMBER: "We are abolishing the privileges of the House of Lords."] The hon. Gentleman opposite is a Scotsman. I should have thought he had a more logical mind than that. We are not talking about abolishing the privileges of the House of Lords. I am dealing with the statement that no change is made in what the Speaker is doing. Let us look at it from another point of view; and I confess that that to me seems more important. That is the point of view of the position which the Speaker will occupy as between the different parties in this House. The right hon. Gentleman says that the distinction there is an unreal one: if these Amendments come down from the House of Lords the Speaker has to decide! Yes; but the fate of the Government does not depend upon his decision! The question would still be fought out between the Government and the House of Lords.
What is the position now? Suppose a question like the Budget were put to the Speaker what does it mean? If he gives his decision against the Government the fate of the Government depends upon it. I say, without any hesitation—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Well, right hon. Gentlemen shake their heads, but does anyone doubt that when that Budget was going from this House, if it had been impossible for the Government to put it forward their fate would have been sealed? Under the present conditions that does not happen. The fight would still go on. I say without the smallest doubt or hesitation, that if at that time that question had been put to the decision of the Speaker, and he had given his decision either one way or the other, his authority would to a certain extent have been undermined. It would have been utterly impossible for him to maintain that position of receiving the acknowledgment of impartiality from both sides of the House which he has always received.
The Home Secretary last night in his speech invited Members of the House to help him on two questions: First, as to what was a Money Bill, and, secondly, what the tribunal should be if it was not to be the Speaker. But the Prime Minister this afternoon ruled out all possible help by saying that he is going to stick to his Bill, and have nothing but the Bill. I speak as a new Member; as a non-partisan Member. 353 [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I think a Member has to be in the House some time before he becomes a real partisan, but I put to the common sense of Members, and in all seriousness, a question as to an Amendment. I do not mind saying that when this Bill came up in the last Parliament I was guilty of putting down an Amendment on this very point. I do not think it ever got on the Paper. I did not know the Whips were so helpful as they are, and being a new Member, I asked the doorkeeper what I should do. I do not know anybody else to ask. I daresay a great many Members, when new to the House, are in the same position. I asked the only man I knew, who was once a sergeant in my company, and he advised me to go to the Vote Office. I went to the Vote Office with my Amendment, and I was told it was too late; and as I was told it was too late, I was told by my friend I had better get it into the newspapers. I only mention this, because it shows the difficulty which I, in common with lots of new Members, experience at first. I was introduced by my friend to the correspondent of "The Times," and although this Amendment never appeared upon the Notice Paper, it did appear in "The Times." I come back to the point which I call the common-sense point of view. I read the Bill, and I said to myself the dangerous point in it is the point about the Speaker, where he is made responsible for matters of such enormous importance. I realise—and everybody will admit there is nobody with such authority over us in this House as the Speaker. He is our Chairman and President, and he is the one man we are all agreed is above us. The Speaker, if I may use the expression, is the "boss." I use that only as an expression of what we all realise, although I have put it in very different language to that used by the Leader of the Opposition. I am sorry to say that the right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken has really bagged all my points. The right hon. Gentleman opposite says there is no difference between what the Speaker does now and what he will be called upon to do under this Bill. I contend that there is every difference. The Speaker decides now, I know, points of great magnitude, but they are really all domestic points which do not go outside this House. Under this Bill, however, the Speaker will be called upon to decide points upon which perhaps the fate of a Government might depend. As a rule, 354 the Speaker would be able to decide, offhand, numerous points, but occasionally he might have to decide a point in regard to which the country might be divided into two great camps. My proposition is a compromise. From a common-sense point of view it seems to me that the Speaker must be the, authority in this House, and none of us will accept anyone else. In case a great vital point arises on which the fate of a Government might depend I would give the Speaker the right to call in the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. We cannot allow any other authority except the Speaker to interfere in this House from outside, and we must manage our own affairs. The proposal places upon him a great load of responsibility. Probably no man could stand the strain. I would put this before the Committee. Let the Speaker, if he likes, have the Privy Council to help him, but only when he wants and calls for them. We should then keep the authority in this House, and the Speaker would be responsible, but he would have the assistance of the Privy Council, and it would lighten his responsibility. It is a kind of compromise, and I put it forward in all seriousness. I think, if the Committee would seriously consider it, it might prove a solution of this difficulty.
§ Mr. MACKINDER
It is claimed on the other side of the House that the duty which is thrown upon the Speaker by this Bill is similar in essence to the duty which he at present discharges in maintaining the privileges of this House. May I point out the practical difference? Mr. Speaker has at present to decide on a Bill which conies down from the Lords. It has probably originated in this House, been debated here, has gone up to the Lords, and has been returned here amended, and he claims the privilege of this House in respect of those Amendments. Under this Bill he has to give his decision as to whether a Bill is a Money Bill or not when it is introduced in this House, and he will have to consider every single Bill at the time it is brought in and decide whether it is a Money Bill or not. It is a burden of the heaviest character which you are throwing upon the Speaker and is very different from that which he has at present. He will not have the advantage of hearing the matter discussed. He will have to go through the whole of a complicated Bill like the Budget Bill of two years ago before it is discussed in this House, and consider it Clause by Clause 355 to see whether it is a Money Bill or not. That, I venture to say, is a point of practical importance.
§ Question put, "That the words 'in the opinion of' stand part of the Clause."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 253; Noes, 180.357
|Division No. 132.]||AYES.||[11.2 p.m.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin Harbour)||Flavin, Michael Joseph||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||France, Gerald Ashburner||Meehan, Patrick A. (Queen's County)|
|Adamson, William||Furness, Stephen||Middlebrook, William|
|Addison, Dr. Christopher||Gibson, Sir James Puckering||Molloy, Michael|
|Adkins, W. Ryland D.||Gill, Alfred Henry||Molteno, Percy Alport|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Glanville, H. J.||Money, L. G. Chiozza|
|Alden, Percy||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Montagu, Hon. E. S.|
|Allen, Arthur Acland (Dumbartonshire)||Goldstone, Frank||Mooney, John J.|
|Allen, Charles Peter (Stroud)||Greig, Colonel James William||Morgan, George Hay|
|Anderson, Andrew Macbeth||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||Morrell, Philip|
|Armitage, Robert||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Hackett, John||Muldoon, John|
|Baker, Harold T. (Accrington)||Hall, F. (Yorks, Normanton)||Munro, Robert|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||Hancock, John George||Munro-Ferguson, Rt. Hon. R. C.|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L, (Rossendale)||Needham, Christopher T.|
|Barnes, George N.||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Nolan, Joseph|
|Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick B.)||Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)||Norton, Capt. Cecil W.|
|Barran, Rowland Hirst (Leeds, N.)||Harmsworth, R. Leicester||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Barry, Redmond John (Tyrone, N.)||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)|
|Barton, William||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)||O'Doherty, Philip|
|Beauchamp, Edward||Harvey, W. E (Derbyshire, N. E.)||Ogden, Fred|
|Benn, W. (T. Hamlets, St. George)||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)|
|Bentham, George Jackson||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||O'Malley, William|
|Boland, John Pius||Haworth, Arthur A.||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, s.)|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Hayden, John Patrick||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Bowerman, Charles W.||Hayward, Evan||O'Sullivan, Timothy|
|Boyle, D. (Mayo, N.)||Helme, Norval Watson||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Brace, William||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Pearce, Robert (Staffs., Leek)|
|Brocklehurst, William B.||Henderson, J. McD. (Aberdeen, W.)||Pearson, Hon. Weetman H. M.|
|Brunner, John F. L.||Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor (Mon. S.)||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)|
|Bryce, John Annan||Higham, John Sharp||Pickersgill, Edward Hare|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Hinds, John||Pointer, Joseph|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Hodge, John||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Holt, Richard Durning||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. S. C. (Poplar)||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)|
|Byles, William Pollard||Hudson, Walter||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Hughes, S. L.||Priestley, Sir Arthur (Grantham)|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Isaacs, Sir Rufus Daniel||Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)|
|Chancellor, H. G.||Johnson, William||Pringle, William M. R.|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)||Radford, George Heynes|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Jones, Leif Stratten (Notts, Rushcliffe)||Raphael, Sir Herbert H.|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)|
|Clough, William||Jones, W. S. Glyn- (T. H'mts., Stepney)||Reddy, Michael|
|Collins, G. P. (Greenock)||Jowett, Frederick William||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Joyce, Michael||Redmond, William (Clare, E.)|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Keating, Matthew||Richards, Thomas|
|Cowan, W. H.||Kellaway, Frederick George||Richardson, Albion (Peckham)|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)|
|Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||Kilbride, Denis||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Crean, Eugene||King, Joseph (Somerset, North)||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)|
|Crooks, William||Lambert, George (Devon, S. Molton)||Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)|
|Crumley, Patrick||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||Robinson, Sydney|
|Dalziel, Sir James H. (Kirkcaldy)||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rl'nd, Cockerm'th)||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)|
|Davies, E. William (Eifion)||Levy, Sir Maurice||Roche, John (Galway, E.)|
|Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Lewis, John Herbert||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Logan, John William||Rose, Sir Charles Day|
|Dawes, James Arthur||Low, Sir F. (Norwich)||Rowlands, James|
|Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas||Lundon, Thomas||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Dickinson, W. H.||Lyell, Charles Henry||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Doris, William||Lynch, Arthur Alfred||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)|
|Duffy, William J.||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Maclean, Donald||Schwann, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles E.|
|Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley)||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glasgow, Bridgeton)|
|Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Seely, Col. Rt. Hon. J. E. B.|
|Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Elibank, Rt. Hon. Master of||M'Callum, John M.||Sheehy, David|
|Elverston, Harold||M'Laren, Walter S. B. (Ches., Crewe)||Simon, Sir John Allsebrook|
|Esmonde, Dr John (Tipperary, N.)||Marks, George Croydon||Smith, Albert (Lancs., clithero)|
|Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)||Marshall, Arthur Harold||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Essex, Richard Walter||Martin, Joseph||Snowden, Philip|
|Ferens, Thomas Robinson||Mason, David M. (Coventry)||Spicer, Sir Albert|
|Ffrench, Peter||Masterman, C. F. G.||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N. W.)|
|Field, William||Meagher, Michael||Strechey, Sir Edward|
|Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)||Wardle, George J.||Williams, P. (Middlesbrough)|
|Taylor, John W. (Durham)||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay||Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)|
|Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)||Wilson, H. J. (York, E. R.)|
|Tennant, Harold John||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)||Wilson, W. T. Westhoughton)|
|Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)||Watt, Henry A.||Winfrey, Richard|
|Thomas, James Henry (Derby)||Webb, H.||Wood, T. M'Kinnon (Glasgow)|
|Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)||Wedgwood, Josiah C.||Young, William (Perth, East)|
|Trevelyan, Charles Philips||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander||Whyte, A. F.|
|Verney, Sir Harry||Wiles, Thomas||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.|
|Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)||Williams, John (Glamorgan)|
|Acland-Hood, Rt. Hon. Sir Alex. F.||Gastrell, Major W. Houghton||Newman, John R. P.|
|Aitken, William Max||Gibbs, George Abraham||Newton, Harry Kottingham|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Gilmour, Captain J.||Nicholson, Wm. G. (Petersfield)|
|Archer-Shee, Major Martin||Goldsmith, Frank||Nield, Herbert|
|Ashley, Wilfred W.||Gordon, John||Orde-Poylett, Hon. G. W. A.|
|Astor, Waldorf||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Bagot, Lieut.-Colonel J.||Grant, J. A.||Paget, Almeric Hugh|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Greene, Walter Raymond||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)|
|Baker, Sir Randolf L. (Dorset, N.)||Gretton, John||Peel, Captain R. F. (Woodbridge)|
|Balcarres, Lord||Guinness, Hon. Walter Edward||Peel, Hon. W. R. W. (Taunton)|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City, Lond.)||Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight)||Pole-Carew, Sir R.|
|Banner, John S. Harmood-||Hambro, Angus Valdemar||Pollock, Ernest Murray|
|Baring, Captain Hon. Guy Victor||Hamersley, Alfred St. George||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington)||Pryce-Jones, Colonel E.|
|Barnston, Harry||Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashford)||Ratcliff, R. F.|
|Bathurst, Hon. Allen B. (Glouc, E.)||Harris, Henry Percy||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Henderson, Major H. (Berks, Abingdon)||Rawson, Colonel Richard H.|
|Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Hill, Sir Clement L. (Shrewsbury)||Rice, Hon. Walter Fitz-Uryan|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Hillier, Dr. A. P.||Rolleston, Sir John|
|Benn, Ion Hamilton (Greenwich)||Hohler, G. F.||Ronaldshay, Earl of|
|Bennett-Goldney, Francis||Hope, Harry (Bute)||Royds, Edmund|
|Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Rutherford, John (Lancs., Darwen)|
|Bird, Alfred||Horne, W. E. (Surrey, Guildford)||Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)|
|Boscawen, Sackville T. Griffith-||Horner, Andrew Long||Sanders, Robert A.|
|Boyle, W. Lewis (Norfolk, Mid)||Houston, Robert Paterson||Scott, Leslie (Liverpool. Exchange)|
|Boyton, J.||Hume-Williams, Wm. Ellis||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Brassey, H. Leonard Campbell||Hunter, Sir C. R. (Bath)||Spear, John Ward|
|Bull, Sir William James||Ingleby, Holcombe||Stanier, Beville|
|Burn, Colonel C. R.||Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, East)||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Butcher, John George (York)||Kerry, Earl of||Starkey, John Ralph|
|Campion, W. R.||Kimber, Sir Henry||Staveley-Hill, Henry (Staffordshire)|
|Carlile, Edward Hildred||King, Sir Henry Seymour (Hull)||Steel-Maitland, A. D.|
|Cassel, Felix||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Stewart, Gerstom|
|Cator, John||Kirkwood, John H. M.||Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Swift, Rigby|
|Cave, George||Law, Andrew Bonar (Bootle, Lancs.)||Terrell, George (Wilts, N. W.)|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Lawson, Hon. H. (T. H'mts., Mile End)||Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)|
|Chaloner, Col. R. G. W.||Lee, Arthur Hamilton||Thompson, Robert (Belfast, North)|
|Chambers, James||Lewisham, Viscount||Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Down, N.)|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Thynne, Lord Alexander|
|Clay, Captain H. H. Spender||Long, Rt. Hon. Walter||Touche, George Alexander|
|Clyde, James Avon||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Walker, Colonel William Hall|
|Cooper, Richard Ashmole||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. A. (S. Geo., Han. S.)||Ward, Arnold (Herts, Watford)|
|Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droitwich)||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Mackinder, Halford J.||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Crichton-Stuart, Lord Ninian||Macmaster, Donald||White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)|
|Cripps, Sir Charles Alfred||M'Mordie, Robert||Williams, Colonel R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Croft, Henry Page||Magnus, Sir Philip||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claude|
|Dixon, Charles Harvey (Boston)||Malcolm, Ian||Winterton, Earl|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.||Meysey-Thompson, E. C.||Wood, Hon. E. F. L. (Ripon)|
|Fell, Arthur||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas||Worthington-Evans, L. (Colchester)|
|Finlay, Sir Robert||Moore, William||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Fitzroy, Hon. Edward A.||Morpeth, Viscount||Yate, Col. C. E.|
|Fleming, Valentine||Morrison-Bell, Capt. E. F. (Ashburton)||Yerburgh, Robert|
|Fletcher, John Samuel (Hampstead)||Morrison-Bell. Major A. C. (Honiton)||Younger, George|
|Foster, Philip Staveley||Mount, William Arthur|
|Frewen, Moreton||Neville, Reginald J. N.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Viscount Valentia and Mr. H. W. Forster|
|Gardner, Ernest||Newdegate, F. A.|
§ Amendment made: In Sub-section (2), after the word "of" ["in the opinion of the Speaker,"] to insert the word "the."—[Sir William Bull.]358
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
I beg to move in Sub-section after the word "Commons" ["Speaker of the House of Commons"], to insert the words "expressed from the 359 chair after the presentation and before the second reading of the Bill and after notice give."
I think the point that needs to be enforced in this connection is that the House shall know when the decision of the Speaker is going to be given, and at what stage of the Bill it is going to be given. Of course, it would be exceedingly awkward for the House to discuss the Bill under the impression that it was a Clause 2 Bill, when, in fact, it was a Clause 1 Bill, or a Clause 1 Bill under the impression that it was a Clause 2 Bill. Therefore, I think it is necessary that it shall be laid down that formal judgment, as it were, should be given by Mr. Speaker at some particular stage of the Bill, and that all considerations relevant to the Bill shall have a chance of being duly put before him, and those who have such considerations to urge should have due notice. I think this is a point which the Government should not object to on principle.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. Churchill)
This is a matter of ordinary convenience and practice of the House, and, if necessary, it will be open to the House at any time to regulate it by Standing Orders. It is entirely a matter which falls within the proper scope and purpose of this House alone, and we do not need to embody it on the face of a Statute.
I am surprised at the statement of the right hon. Gentleman that this concerns this House alone, because, on the face of the Clause, it concerns the other House also. The right hon. Gentleman takes a rather erroneous view of the whole of the legislation proposed by the Government. The real impression of it is that the matter should be discussed in this House and then in the other House, and then come back to this House, no one knowing what the Speaker's view is. There ought to be some statutory moment laid down at which it should be competent for the Government or anyone else to ask for an authoritative ruling of Mr. Speaker on the point, because manifestly our discussions will take an entirely different course according as whether it is a Clause 1 Bill or a Clause 2 Bill. We are dealing with a written Constitution, and it ought not to be left to the Standing Orders.
Sir HENRY DALZIEL
I do not see the reason for the right hon. Gentleman's alarm. I think the ordinary course must be adopted. I understand it will be open for any Member in any part of the House between the First and Second Beading to raise a point of order, and ask Mr. Speaker's decision with regard to it. In the ordinary course, having regard to the time and convenience of the House, I should say Mr. Speaker, on due notice, would answer it
§ Mr. BUTCHER
This is a question affecting not only this House, but both Houses. If the matter affected simply the procedure of this House, there might be some little weight in the argument of the Home Secretary; but surely the country, the other chamber, and this House have a right to know on the earliest possible occasion whether a Bill introduced by the Government of the day is one which is going through this House and the other House in the ordinary course of Parliamentary practice, or whether it is a Bill of an unusual character which is to pass through one House only. It is all very well for the hon. Member for the Kirkcaldy Burghs (Sir H. Dalziel), who, so far as I have observed, does not apply his mind very closely to these questions. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] If he did apply his mind to them, I am sure he would see the importance of them. It is all very well for him to say that a private Member can ask the Speaker, but what we want is to have on the face of this Bill words giving security that at the earliest possible moment the Speaker shall give his ruling as to the true character of a Bill. Is there any conceivable objection to that, except that it is moved from this side of the House? May I ask the Home Secretary once more—if there is no real objection to this Amendment, and if there are obvious reasons why it should be introduced—whether he can give any further consideration to the matter and introduce an Amendment which is essential, as I think, to the interests of this House, the other House, and the public at large.
§ Mr. MACMASTER
In the Bill as it stands there does not appear to be any power whatever given to the Speaker to decide. If the Speaker is to decide what is the nature of a Money Bill, there should be language in the Act itself that he has that power, and it should not be left to implication. The first time we see in the Bill that the Speaker has authority to 361 decide is after a Bill comes back from the House of Lords, Sub-section (3) says:When a Bill, to which the House of Lords has not consented, is presented to His Majesty for assent as a Money Bill, the Bill shall be accompanied by a certificate of the Speaker of the House of Commons that it is a Money Bill.That is the stage at which definite authority is given to the Speaker. I have no objection to that, but there should be equally definite power given to the Speaker to decide whether a Bill is a Money Bill or not at an earlier stage.
§ Mr. LESLIE SCOTT
The suggestion of the Home Secretary in regard to this point is surely an astounding one. Subsection (1) provides that a Bill if not passed by the House of Lords without amendment within one month after it is sent up it shall be presented to His Majesty and become an Act, and the Subsection we are now discussing provides that a Bill is a Money Bill which, in the opinion of the Speaker, contains only provisons, inter alia, on matters incidental to one of the heterogeneous subjects mentioned in the early part of the Clause. Surely it must be evident to the right hon. Gentleman that there may be cases where Bills are at any rate of a most dubious character, Bills which may be Money Bills or may be Bills other than Money Bills. Is the House of Lords to be asked to go through the ordinary procedure of legislation, First and Second Reading, Committee and Report stages and Third Reading, on the basis that the Bill is a Bill other than a Money Bill, and then, when the Bill comes back to this House after the House of Lords has devoted time and attention to it in the ordinary way, is it to be told that this is a Money Bill, after all this waste of time? I submit it is essential that the Speaker shall at an early stage pronounce if he is asked to do so finally whether the Bill is a Money Bill or not, in order that before the Bill leaves this House the House of Lords may know whether it is a Money Bill or not.
§ Mr. HOHLER
I wish to point out to this House that we, on these Benches, want to deal with this Bill, with which we disagree on principle, on business lines. The Sub-Clause with which we are dealing is a definition clause, defining a Money Bill. What the Amendment proposes is that at the earliest possible moment the Speaker of the House of Commons shall be 362 called upon to express an opinion upon whether or not the Bill introduced by the Government is a Money Bill or not. Under this Bill as it stands, if the procedure proposed is adopted, the Prime Minister, with the Chancellor of the Exchequer, will introduce a Budget. It will be debated in this House, and there will be no possibility of debating whether in the opinion of the Speaker it is a Money Bill within the interpretation Clause. The result is that a Bill may be sent to the Second Chamber, and the only occasion on which the Speaker will be called upon to decide whether it is a Money Bill or not is, under Sub-Clause 3, when it is going to be presented for the Royal Assent. Sub-section (2) gives the only occasion upon which the Speaker can be called upon for the first time to give his opinion as to whether a Bill is a Money Bill or not. Is not that a ridiculous position? I submit that the Amendment is a most reasonable and proper one, and should have been accepted in the spirit in which it is proposed.
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
I shall not put the Committee to the trouble of a Division if the Government will accept the next Amendment, that the decision of the Speaker should be "delivered after notice given and subject to discussion." Otherwise, a Member might jump up at the end of questions and ask the Speaker to give his opinion, and the whole thing might be over before Members realised what was passing. I think that notice should be given, and that Members should have an opportunity to lay their case before the Speaker before judgment is pronounced.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
The next Amendment to which the hon. Gentleman refers would really, I think, make the matter more difficult, because it would really involve that the Speaker should sit as a judge, with the Opposition as counsel for the prosecution, and the supporters of the Government as counsel for the defence. [HON". MEMBERS: "In the dock."] That is a possibility I had not thought of; I did not think it was so bad as that, but it makes all the stronger the reason why it is impossible for us to accept the Amendment.
§ Mr. STUART-WORTLEY
I wish to know whether, if this Amendment is negatived, my Amendment, which is later on the Paper, will be in order?
§ Question put, "That those words be there inserted."364
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 167, Noes, 234.365
|Division No. 133.]||AYES.||[11.32 p.m.|
|Acland-Hood, Rt. Hon. Sir Alex. F.||Gibbs, George Abraham||Nicholson, Wm. G. (Petersfield)|
|Aitken, William Max||Gilmour, Captain John||Nield, Herbert|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Goldsmith, Frank||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.|
|Archer-Shee, Major Martin||Gordon, John||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Ashley, Wilfrid W.||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Paget, Almeric Hugh|
|Astor, Waldorf||Grant, James Augustus||Parkes, Ebenezer|
|Bagot, Lt.-Col. Josceline||Greene, Walter Raymond||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Gretton, John||Peel, Capt. R F. (Woodbridge)|
|Baker, Sir Randolf L. (Dorset, N.)||Guinness, Hon. Walter Edward||Peel, Hon. W. R. W. (Taunton)|
|Balcarres, Lord||Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City, Lond.)||Hall, Douglas B. (Isle of Wight)||Pole-Carew, Sir Reginald|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Hambro, Angus Valdemar||Pollock, Ernest Murray|
|Banner, John S. Harmood-||Hamersley, Alfred St. George||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Baring, Capt. Hon. Guy Victor||Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashford)||Pryce-Jones, Col. Edward|
|Barnston, Harry||Henderson, Major H. (Berkshire)||Ratcliff, R. F.|
|Bathurst, Hon. Benjamin (Glos., E.)||Hill, Sir Clement L. (Shrewsbury)||Rawson, Col. Richard, H.|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Hillier, Dr. Alfred Peter||Rice, Hon. Walter Fitz-Uryan|
|Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Rolleston, Sir John|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Ronaldshay, Earl of|
|Benn, Ion Hamilton (Greenwich)||Horne, Edgar (Surrey, Guildford)||Rutherford, J. (Lancs., Darwen)|
|Bennett-Goldney, Francis||Horner, Andrew Long||Sanders, Robert Arthur|
|Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish-||Hume-Williams, Wm. Ellis||Scott, Leslie (Liverpool Exchange)|
|Bird, Alfred||Hunt, Rowland||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Boscawen, Col. A. S. T. Griffith-||Ingleby, Holcombe||Spear, John Ward|
|Boyle, W. Lewis (Norfolk, Mid.)||Jardine, Earnest (Somerset, East)||Stanier, Beville.|
|Boyton, James||Kerry, Earl of||Stanley, Major Hon. George (Preston)|
|Brassey, H. Leonard Campbell||King, Sir Henry Seymour (Hull)||Starkey, John Ralph|
|Bull, Sir William James||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Staveley-Hill, Henry|
|Burn, Col. Charles Rosdew||Kirkwood, John H. M.||Steel-Maitland, A. D.|
|Butcher, J. G.||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Stewart, Gershom|
|Campion, William Robert||Law, Andrew Bonar (Bootle)||Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, N.)|
|Carlile, Edward Hildred||Lawson, Hon. H. (Tower Hamlets)||Swift, Rigby|
|Cassel, Felix||Lee, Arthur Hamilton||Terrell, George (Wilts, N. W.)|
|Cator, John||Lewisham, Viscount||Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Thompson, Robert (Belfast, N.)|
|Cave, George||Long, Rt. Hon. Walter||Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Down, N.)|
|Chaloner, Col. R. G. W.||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Touche, George Alexander|
|Chambers, James||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. A. (St. Geo. H. S.)||Walker, Colonel William Hall|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droitwich)||Ward, A. S. (Herts, Watford)|
|Clay, Captain H. H. Spender||Mackinder, Halford J.||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|Clyde, James Avon||Macmaster, Donald||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Cooper, Richard Ashmole||M'Mordie, Robert James||White, Major G. D. (Lanc., Southport)|
|Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Magnus, Sir Phillip||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Crichton-Stuart, Lord Ninian||Malcolm, Ian||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claud|
|Cripps, Sir Charles Alfred||Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Winterton, Earl|
|Croft, Henry Page||Meysey-Thompson, E. C.||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Dixon, Charles Harvey (Boston)||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Wood, Hon. E. F. L. (Yorks, Ripon)|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.||Moore, William||Worthington-Evans, Laming|
|Fell, Arthur||Morpeth, Viscount||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Finlay, Sir Robert||Morrison-Bell, Maj. A. (Honiton)||Yate, Col. Charles Edward|
|FitzRoy, Hon. Edward A.||Morrison-Bell, Capt. E. (Ashburton)||Yerburgh, Robert Armstrong|
|Fleming, Valentine||Mount, William Arthur||Younger, George|
|Fletcher, John S.||Neville, Reginald J. Neville|
|Foster, Philip Staveley||Newdegate, F. A.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Viscount|
|Gardner, Ernest||Newman, John R. P.||Valentia and Mr. Forster.|
|Gastrell, Major W. Houghton||Newton, Harry Kottingham|
|Abraham, William (Dublin)||Benn, W. (T. H'mts, St. George)||Clancy, John Joseph|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Bentham, George Jackson||Clough, William|
|Adamson, William||Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)|
|Addison, Dr. Christopher||Booth, Frederick Handel||Condon, Thomas Joseph|
|Adkins, W. Ryland D.||Bowerman, Charles W.||Cowan, William Henry|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)||Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)|
|Allen, Charles Peter (Stroud)||Brace, William||Crawshay-Williams, Eliot|
|Anderson, Andrew Macbeth||Brocklehurst, William B.||Crumley, Patrick|
|Armitage, Robert||Brunner, John F. L.||Dalziel, Sir James H. (Kirkcaldy)|
|Baker, Harold T. (Accrington)||Burke, E. Haviland-||Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)|
|Barnes, George N||Buxton, Rt. Hon. S. C. (Poplar)||Dawes, James Arthur|
|Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick B.)||Byles, William Pollard||Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas|
|Barran, Rowland Hirst (Leeds, N.)||Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Doris, William|
|Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.)||Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Duffy, William J.|
|Barton, William||Chancellor, Henry G.||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)|
|Beauchamp, Edward||Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley)|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)|
|Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Levy, Sir Maurice||Reddy, Michael|
|Elibank, Rt. Hon. Master of||Lewis, John Herbert||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Elverston, Harold||Logan, John William||Redmond, William (Clare, E.)|
|Esmonde, Dr. J. (Tipperary, N.)||Low, Sir Frederick (Norwich)||Richards, Thomas|
|Esmonde, Sir T. (Wexford, N.)||Lundon, Thomas||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Essex, Richard Walter||Lyell, Charles Henry||Roberts, George H. (Norwich)|
|Ferens, Thomas Robinson||Lynch, Arthur Alfred||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)|
|Ffrench, Peter||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)|
|Field, William||Maclean, Donald||Robinson, Sidney|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)|
|France, Gerald Ashburner||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Roche, John (Galway, E.)|
|Furness, Stephen Wilson||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Gibson, Sir James Puckering||M'Callum, John Mills||Rose, Sir Charles Day|
|Gill, Alfred Henry||M'Laren, W. S. B. (Chesh., Crewe)||Rowlands, James|
|Glanville, Harold James||Marks, George Croydon||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Marshall, Arthur Harold||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Goldstone, Frank||Martin, Joseph||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)|
|Greig, Colonel James William||Mason, David M. (Coventry)||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||Masterman, C. F. G.||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glasgow)|
|Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||Meagher, Michael||Seely, Rt. Hon. Colonel|
|Hackett, John||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Sheehy, David|
|Hall, Frederick (Yorks, Normanton)||Meehan, Patrick A. (Queen's Co.)||Simon, Sir John Allsebrook|
|Hancock, John George||Middlebrook, William||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)|
|Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale)||Molloy, Michael||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)||Montagu, Hon. E. S.||Spicer, Sir Albert|
|Harmsworth, R. Leicester||Mooney, John J.||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N. W.)|
|Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Morgan, George Hay||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)||Morrell, Philip||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.)||Muldoon, John||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||Munro, Robert||Tennant, Harold John|
|Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Munro-Ferguson, Rt. Hon. R. C.||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)|
|Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Needham, Christopher Thomas||Thomas, James Henry (Derby)|
|Haworth, Arthur A.||Nolan, Joseph||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Hayden, John Patrick||Norman, Sir Henry||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Hayward, Evan||Norton, Captain Cecil W.||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Helme, Norval Watson||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Verney, Sir Harry|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Walsh, S. (Lancashire, Ince)|
|Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor||O'Doherty, Philip||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Hinds, John||Ogden, Fred||Wardle, George James|
|Hodge, John||O'Kelly, E. P. (Wicklow, W.)||Warner, Sir T. Courtenay T.|
|Holt, Richard Durning||O'Malley, William||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Howard, Hon. Geoffrey W. A.||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)||Wason, J. C. (Orkney)|
|Hudson, Walter||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Watt, Henry A.|
|Hughes, Spencer Leigh||O'Sullivan, Timothy||Webb, Henry|
|Isaacs, Sir Rufus Daniel||Parker, James (Halifax)||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Johnson, William||Pearce, Robert (Staff'rdsh., Leek)||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Jones, Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Pearson, Weetman H. M.||Wiles, Thomas|
|Jones, Leif (Notts, Rushcliffe)||Pease, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Rotherham)||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Pickersgill, Edward Hare||Williams, John (Glamorgan)|
|Jones, William S. Glyn- (Stepney)||Pointer, Joseph||Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)|
|Jowett, Frederick William||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)|
|Joyce, Michael||Power, Patrick Joseph||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)|
|Keating, Matthew||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Kellaway, Frederick George||Priestley, Sir Arthur (Grantham)||Winfrey, Richard|
|Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)||Wood, T. M'Kinnon (Glasgow)|
|Kilbride, Denis||Pringle, William M. R.||Young, William (Perth, East)|
|King, Joseph (Somerset, North)||Radford, George Heynes|
|Lambert, George (Devon, S. Molton)||Raffan, Peter Wilson||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.|
|Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||Raphael, Sir Herbert Henry|
|Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cockerm'th)||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarboro')|
§ Colonel GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
In the absence of my hon. Friend the Member for Aston Manor (Mr. Evelyn Cecil), I beg to move, in Sub-section (2), after the word "dealing" ["only provisions dealing with all"] to insert the word "exclusively." That word limits the application of this Sub-section to exclusively Money Bills. This is really a very important matter. You may have a Bill which is in form a Money Bill, but which deals not only with money proposals but with other measures. The Amendment raises the whole question of "tacking." In years past the House of Lords has laid it down that there must be no tacking. If the House of Commons puts into a Money Bill 366 what are not really financial provisions it would be possible for them by that means to force proposals through the House of Lords which otherwise the House of Lords would not accept. The question is the more important because it deals not only with the question of specific tacking. It is not merely the question of adding to a Money Bill proposals to deal with other questions besides financial proposals. There is the possibility that in the guise and form of a Money Bill other matters may be included. For example, it may very reasonably have been held that the Budget of 1909, though in form a Money Bill, did not deal exclusively with money propositions. There 367 was in it the whole question of land valuation, which was quite an extraneous subject, though put in the form of a Money Bill, and introduced, as we believe, in order that the Government might force through the House of Lords proposals which the House of Lords would otherwise not have accepted.
If Bills are to be passed over the head of the House of Lords on the ground that they are Money Bills, you ought to be perfectly certain that they are Money Bills, and nothing else. I hope, therefore, that the Home Secretary will give favourable consideration to this proposition. It is in no sense hostile to the Bill. It is merely making the definition a little bit clearer. I am quite willing to accept from the Home Secretary and the Government an assurance that they do not want to include here anything except what is specifically a Money Bill. If that is so, what I suggest to them is that they ought to make it perfectly clear. If they accept the word "exclusively," that ought to debar any attempt not only to tack, but any form of proposals that are not money proposals, also the inclusion, in the shape of money proposals, of that which really, though in the form of money proposals, contain something very different. Otherwise you could in this form of a Money Bill propose almost anything under this Clause. You could disendow the Church in Wales under this Clause unless it is laid down that your legislation on Money Bills deals exclusively with money. You could confiscate the whole of the rates of the country under a Money Bill unless it is made perfectly clear you only intend to raise the money for the year. By inserting this Amendment you will make it perfectly clear to everybody that what the Government intend by a Money Bill is a Bill in the ordinary acceptation of the word, namely, a Finance Bill, a Consolidated Fund Bill, or a Bill dealing with Supply. This is not an Amendment that should lead to any party controversy. It merely makes plainer what I believe to be the intentions of the Government, and I hope they will accept it.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
The intentions of the Government in giving effect to the financial provisions in this Bill was made perfectly clear by the Prime Minister in the afternoon. I do not think, other parts of the controversy aside, there is any doubt upon that point. The hon. Member asks us now to insert the word "exclusively". 368 I think the hon. Member has not given very strict attention to the word "only," which occurs a few words before. The Clause would read if the Amendment was accepted, "only provisions dealing exclusively with all or any of the following subjects." I am very anxious that the intentions the Prime Minister expressed to the Committee should be clearly and fairly embodied upon the face of the Bill, but neither the strength nor precision of the English language is improved by a plethora of redundant adverbs. I appeal to the hon. and gallant Gentleman not to make us embody a paragraph in our Bill, which should read that the Bill contains "only provisions dealing exclusively with all or any of the following subjects," or matters incidental thereto. I cannot believe that would be a very apt or convenient way. There may be other methods of defining a Money Bill more precisely, but I cannot see that anything would be gained by accepting this form.
I do not think the right hon. Gentleman fully apprehends the meaning of the drafting of his own Bill. It would be perfectly possible under the Bill as drafted to add other "provisions dealing with all or some of the following subjects" but also dealing with many other things. That possibility nobody can deny would be excluded by my hon. Friend's Amendment. My hon. Friend, in other words, says "it is quite true that one or two provisions may deal with these things but they may deal with countless other things." If you only mean to deal with finance, say you only mean to deal with finance. I cannot understand why the Government have drafted, as they they have, "a Money Bill which, in the opinion of the Speaker of the House of Commons, deals only with all or any of the following subjects." Why they put in the word "provisions," which obscures the whole matter, I am really utterly unable to understand. I put that point to the Law Officers. Would it not be better if it read." A Money Bill means a Bill which, in the opinion of the Speaker of the House of Commons, deals only with all or any of the following subjects." That would get rid of ambiquity and make it perfectly clear. My hon. Friend has really struck a blot upon the drafting of the Bill, and has pointed out a really abscure point which requires verbal Amendment. Let me say in addition, that while I understand the Government are going to accept an improvement in this Clause you will never gel rid of the evils we complain of unless 369 you adopt some such proviso as that proposed by the hon. Member for Kingston, which we shall discuss after Easter. I am not going into that question now and I am not finding fault with the concession which the Government have promised, but here is a thing which can be put right so easily that I cannot imagine why they will
§ not do it. This Amendment only alters the indifferent drafting we are now suffering from.
§ Question put, "That the word 'exclusively' be there inserted."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 164; Noes, 225.371
|Division No. 134.]||AYES.||[11.50 p.m.|
|Acland-Hood, Rt. Hon. Sir Alex. F.||Gibbs, George Abraham||Nicholson, Wm. G. (Petersfield)|
|Aitken, William Max||Gilmour, Captain John||Nield, Herbert|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Goldsmith, Frank||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.|
|Archer-Shee, Major Martin||Gordon, John||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Ashley, Wilfrid W.||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Paget, Almeric Hugh|
|Astor, Waldorf||Grant, James Augustus||Parkes, Ebenezer|
|Bagot, Lt.-Col. Josceline||Greene, Walter Raymond||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Gretton, John||Peel, Capt. R. F. (Woodbridge)|
|Baker, Sir Randolf L. (Dorset, N.)||Guinness, Hon. Walter Edward||Peel, Hon. W. R. W. (Taunton)|
|Balcarres, Lord||Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City, Lond.)||Hall, Douglas B. (Isle of Wight)||Pole-Carew, Sir Reginald|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Hambro, Angus Valdemar||Pollock, Ernest Murray|
|Banner, John S. Harmood-||Hamersley, Alfred St. George||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Baring, Capt. Hon. Guy Victor||Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashford)||Pryce-Jones, Col. Edward|
|Barlow, Montagu (Salford, S.)||Henderson, Major H. (Berkshire)||Ratcliff, R. F.|
|Barnston, Harry||Hill, Sir Clement L. (Shrewsbury)||Rawson, Col. Richard, H.|
|Bathurst, Hon. Benjamin (Glos., E.)||Hillier, Dr. Alfred Peter||Rice, Hon. Walter Fitz-Uryan|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Rolleston, Sir John|
|Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Ronaldshay, Earl of|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Horne, Edgar (Surrey, Guildford)||Rutherford, J. (Lancs., Darwen)|
|Benn, Ion Hamilton (Greenwich)||Horner, Andrew Long||Sanders, Robert Arthur|
|Bennett-Goldney, Francis||Hume-Williams, Wm. Ellis||Scott, Leslie (Liverpool Exchange)|
|Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish-||Hunt, Rowland||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Bird, Alfred||Ingleby, Holcombe||Spear, John Ward|
|Boyle, W. Lewis (Norfolk, Mid.)||Jardine, Earnest (Somerset, East)||Stanier, Beville|
|Boyton, James||Kerry, Earl of||Stanley, Maj. Hn. George (Preston)|
|Brassey, H. Leonard Campbell||King, Sir Henry Seymour (Hull)||Starkey, John Ralph|
|Bull, Sir William James||Kirkwood, John H. M.||Staveley-Hill, Henry|
|Burn, Col. Charles Rosdew||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Steel-Maitland, A. D.|
|Butcher, J. G.||Law, Andrew Bonar (Bootle)||Stewart, Gershom|
|Campion, William Robert||Lawson, Hon. H. (Tower Hamlets)||Strauss, Arthur (Paddingon, N.)|
|Carlile, Edward Hildred||Lee, Arthur Hamilton||Swift, Rigby|
|Cassel, Felix||Lewisham, Viscount||Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)|
|Cator, John||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Thompson, Robert (Belfast, N.)|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Long, Rt. Hon. Walter||Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Down, N.)|
|Cave, George||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Thynne, Lord Alexander|
|Chambers, James||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. A. (St. Geo. H. S.)||Touche, George Alexander|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Lyttleton, Hen. J. C. (Wor. Droitw'h)||Valentia, Viscount|
|Clay, Captain H. H. Spender||Mackinder, Halford J.||Walker, Colonel William Hall|
|Clyde, James Avon||Macmaster, Donald||Ward, A. S. (Herts, Watford)|
|Cooper, Richard Ashmole||M'Mordie, Robert James||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Magnus, Sir Philip||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Crichton-Stuart, Lord Ninian||Malcolm, Ian||White, Major G. D. (Lanc, Southport)|
|Cripps, Sir Charles Alfred||Mason, James F. (Windsr)||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Croft, Henry Page||Meysey-Thompson, E. C||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claud|
|Dixon, Charles Harvey (Boston)||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A Akers-||Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas||Wood, Hon. E. F. L. (Yorks, Ripon)|
|Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.||Moore, William||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Fell, Arthur||Morpeth, Viscount||Worthington-Evans, Laming|
|Finlay, Sir Robert||Morrison-Bell, Maj. A. (Honiton)||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|FitzRoy, Hon. Edward A.||Morrison-Bell, Capt. E. (Ashburton)||Yerburgh, Robert Armstrong|
|Fleming, Valentine||Mount, William Arthur||Younger, George|
|Fletcher, John S.||Neville, Reginald J. Neville|
|Forster, Henry William||Newdegate, F. A.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Colonel|
|Foster, Philip Staveley||Newman, John R. P.||Griffith-Boscawen and Col. Chaloner.|
|Gastrell, Major W. Houghton||Newton, Harry Kottingham|
|Abraham, William (Dublin)||Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Booth, Frederick Handel|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Barnes, George N.||Bowerman, Charles W.|
|Adamson, William||Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick, B.)||Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)|
|Addison, Dr. Christopher||Barran, Rowland Hirst (Leeds, N.)||Brocklehurst, William B.|
|Adkins, W. Ryland D.||Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.)||Brunner, John F. L.|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Barton, William||Burke, E. Haviland-|
|Allen, Charles Peter (Stroud)||Beauchamp, Edward||Burns, Rt. Hon. John|
|Anderson, Andrew Macbeth||Beck, Arthur Cecil||Buxton, Rt. Hon. S. C. (Poplar)|
|Armitage, Robert||Benn, W. (T. H'mts, St. George)||Byles, William Pollard|
|Baker, Harold T. (Accrington)||Bentham, George Jackson||Carr-Gomm, H. W.|
|Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.)||Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)|
|Chancellor, Henry G.||Hughes, Spencer Leigh||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Isaacs, Sir Rufus Daniel||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Johnson, William||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Jones, Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)||Priestley, Sir Arthur (Grantham)|
|Clough, William||Jones, Leif (Notts, Rushcliffe)||Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Pringle, William M. R.|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Jones, William S. Glyn- (Stepney)||Radford, George Heynes|
|Cowan, William Henry||Jowett, Frederick William||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Joyce, Michael||Raphael, Sir Herbert Henry|
|Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||Keating, Matthew||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarboro')|
|Crooks, William||Kellaway, Frederick George||Reddy, Michael|
|Crumley, Patrick||Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Dalziel, Sir James H. (Kirkcaldy)||Kilbride, Denis||Redmond, William (Clare, E.)|
|Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||King, Joseph (Somerset, North)||Richards, Thomas|
|Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Lambert, George (Devon, S. Molton)||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||Roberts, George H. (Norwich)|
|Dawes, James Arthur||Lawson, Sir Wilfrid (Cockerm'th)||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)|
|Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas||Levy, Sir Maurice||Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)|
|Doris, William||Lewis, John Herbert||Robinson, Sidney|
|Duffy, William J.||Logan, John William||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Low, Sir Frederick (Norwich)||Roche, John (Galway, E.)|
|Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley)||Lundon, Thomas||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Lyell, Charles Henry||Rose, Sir Charles Day|
|Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Lynch, Arthur Alfred||Rowlands, James|
|Elibank, Rt. Hon. Master of||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Elverston, Harold||Maclean, Donald||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Esmonde, Dr. J. (Tipperary, N.)||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)|
|Esmonde, Sir T. (Wexford, N.)||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glasgow)|
|Essex, Richard Walter||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Seely, Rt. Hon. Colonel|
|Ferens, Thomas Robinson||M'Callum, John Mills||Sheehy, David|
|Ffrench, Peter||M'Laren, W. S. B. (Chesh., Crewe)||Simon, Sir John Allsebrook|
|Field, William||Marks, George Croydon||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Marshall, Arthur Harold||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|France, Gerald Ashburner||Martin, Joseph||Spicer, Sir Albert|
|Furness, Stephen Wilson||Mason, David M. (Coventry)||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N. W.)|
|Gibson, Sir James Puckering||Masterman, C. F. G.||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Gill, Alfred Henry||Meagher, Michael||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Tennant, Harold John|
|Goldstone, Frank||Meehan, Patrick A. (Queen's Co.)||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)|
|Greig, Colonel James William||Middlebrook, William||Thomas, James Henry (Derby)|
|Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||Molloy, Michael||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||Montagu, Hon. E. S.||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Hackett, John||Mooney, John J.||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Hall, Frederick (Yorks, Normanton)||Morgan, George Hay||Verney, Sir Harry|
|Hancock, John George||Morrell, Philip||Walsh, S. (Lancashire, Ince)|
|Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale)||Muldoon, John||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)||Munro, Robert||Wardle, George James|
|Harmsworth, R. Leicester||Munro-Ferguson, Rt. Hon. R. C.||Warner, Sir T. Courtenay T.|
|Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Needham, Christopher Thomas||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)||Nolan, Joseph||Webb, Henry|
|Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.)||Norman, Sir Henry||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||Norton, Captain Cecil W.||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Wiles, Thomas|
|Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Haworth, Arthur A.||O'Doherty, Philip||Williams, John (Glamorgan)|
|Hayden, John Patrick||Ogden, Fred||Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)|
|Hayward, Evan||O'Kelly, E. P. (Wicklow, W.)||Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)|
|Helme, Norval Watson||O'Malley, William||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor||O'Sullivan, Timothy||Winfrey, Richard|
|Hinds, John||Parker, James (Halifax)||Wood, T. M'Kinnon (Glasgow)|
|Hodge, John||Pearce, Robert (Staff'rdsh., Leek)||Young, William (Perth, East)|
|Holt, Richard Durning||Pease, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Rotherham)|
|Howard, Hon. Geoffrey W. A.||Pickersgill, Edward Hare||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.|
|Hudson, Walter||Pointer, Joseph|
Question, "That those words be there inserted," put, and agreed to.
§ The CHAIRMAN
An undertaking was given by the Government this afternoon to consider certain Amendments in the defining words we have now reached. Amendments to that end have been handed in in manuscript and I propose now to call on them. Hon. Members whose Amendments are on the Paper can move if they wish to do so; but I shall not call them unless they wish it. I call on the hon. Member for South Bucks.
§ Sir F. BANBURY moved in Sub-section (2) to leave out the word "imposition."372
§ The CHAIRMAN
I did not call upon the hon. Baronet as his Amendment proposes to eliminate taxation altogether. That would seem rather absurd after this afternoon's discussion.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
No it does not amount to that. I propose to leave out the word "imposition," but that would still leave in the words which deal with the repeal, remission, alteration, or regulation of taxation. All those things could be dealt with, but the imposition of taxation would have to go to the other place 373 which would have power over it. This is a most important Amendment because if it were carried it would prevent attempts by any Government to deal by imposing taxation with questions which ought only to be dealt with by legislation. It has been said over and over again that unless some provision of this sort is put in it will be quite possible for the Government to impose taxes which would result in rents on houses and land going to the State. In order to avoid submitting say a Land Nationalisation Bill to the other House they might bring in a Bill which would impose such a tax on land as would give it to the State. As far as I know it is not denied at the present moment that the House of Lords has power to reject a Bill imposing taxation. Not only has that never been denied that there has always been power to throw out such a Bill but the power itself has never been questioned. It was Lord Morley who said he could imagine a condition which would justify the transformation of a legal right into a moral duty by reason of the wildness of the proposals of a demented House of Commons. It is not at all impossible that we must in certain circumstances have Amendments in the House of Commons—certainly if the female Suffrage Bill were passed—and it might be that it was desirable to maintain a certain hold over the House of Commons. It must be remembered that no one has ever had any experience of an uncontrolled single chamber in that way except Oliver Cromwell, and in a very short time he made a speech in which he spoke of the arbitrariness of the House of Commons. He said it was beyond belief and it was necessary to check it, and he really instituted the House of Lords. Therefore, I think it is necessary that some check should be instituted and some amendment of this kind carried. If my Amendment is carried it might prevent the imposition of fresh taxes by the House of Commons, while it would not allow the Lords to repeal any existing taxation. That, I think, would be sufficient to start with in this House of Commons. We are not here deciding something which, like the laws of the Medes and Persians, cannot be altered, and it is always in the power of this House to alter and amend. If everything was going well, then we might alter the provision, but if everything was not going well we might find that some such provision as this was necessary.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I would appeal to the hon. Baronet as being an experienced 374 and learned Parliamentarian whether he has much expectation that the Government will be able to accept the proposed Amendment. There is hardly anything which we in this House attach more importance to than the right of choosing the taxes on which the revenue of the year shall be raised, and it would be a great matter of offence to us if we were not above the necessity of going to the House of Lords in regard to it.
§ Sir ALFRED CRIPPS
I beg to move to leave out the words "repeal, remission" ["provisions dealing with any of the following subjects, namely, the imposition, repeal, remission, alteration or regulation of taxation"].
I submit this Amendment for the purpose of asking a question, namely, what would happen under these circumstances: suppose you have a statutory right, such as is provided by the Education Bill or the Agricultural Rates Bill, under which certain sums are given to the local authorities in the one case and in the other a certain amount for education to school managers. I want to ask whether, under these circumstances, there being a statutory right at present, that statutory right can be taken away by the action of the House in repealing or remitting such taxation. I want to ask the Attorney General whether they intend to adhere to what is the statutory security by remitting taxation which would not come before the other House at all.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
In our view neither case put by the hon. and learned Gentleman would be included in the words here. There would not be repeal or remission in the way in which the words are down here.
§ Sir A. CRIPPS
Would that apply to all cases of statutory charges of a similar kind in the hon. and learned Gentleman's view?
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
Unless the Bill is one which contains provisions dealing only with repeal or remission, certainly.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
I beg to move after the word "remission" ["the imposition, repeal, remission, alteration"] to insert the word "or."
The object of this Amendment is to put before the Government certain cases in 375 which a good deal more must be covered by the word "regulations" than seems to be implied on the face of the Bill. I take it, when you consider the regulation of taxation you must mean how the tax is to be collected, when it is to be collected, and by whom it is to be collected. I do not know what other points it might cover beyond that, but I think it would cover those points. These are very material points, and recent events have shown how important points of that sort are, because we have it on record in the last few days that a subordinate officer acting under the Board of Inland Revenue has, in fact, assumed a dispensing power that taxes need not be paid in the year in which they are due. Apparently he has been able to do that, and has done it effectively, though, no doubt, his superiors will not be able to defend such an act. This is somewhat dangerous. If you are going to allow or to enact that subordinate officials, as they might under these words, should have the power to collect taxes in their own way, or at their own time, or in their own manner, a Bill of this kind might really take away from Parliament the direct power of collection of taxes which is now established by a long line of complicated enactments such as the Exchequer and Audit Act, the great work of Mr. Gladstone's Government. I submit that under this word it would be possible for Parliament to give the Treasury, or a Department subordinate to the Treasury, power to change the time and manner and methods in which the taxes have been hitherto collected, and that might work a very considerable injustice to the subject if the subordinate officer chose to exercise a dispensing power to resist taxation in the case of some persons and to insist upon its collection in others. In fact, vast abuses would be possible under any such dispensing power. I do not believe any Bill vesting such a power as this is a Money Bill in the intention of the Government, but if they attach importance to this word "regulation" I should be glad if they would define what they include in their intention under it.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
The House of Commons, which has the power of deciding what taxes should be raised, should also decide by what administrative method they should be raised. The words of the hon. Gentleman would, among other 376 things, omit things like the Revenue Bill, which contains provisions regulating the mode in which taxes are to be collected, or the persons by whom they are to be collected and matters of that kind. We stand on the integrity of the House of Commons in matters of finance, and it is an essential and integral part of the process by which the House of Commons provides for and becomes responsible for the method by which the public revenue is supplied. We, therefore, cannot accept the Amendment. It is quite true, on the subject of the words "regulation and control," that possibly there is something to be said for the view that the words are too wide, but I should think that might have been raised on the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member (Mr. Cave).
§ Question, "That the word 'or' be there inserted," put, and negatived.
§ Mr. CAVE
I beg to move to insert after the word "taxation" ["or regulation of taxation"] the words "other than local taxation." This point, with others, was raised in the discussion earlier in the evening, and I think it was understood that in substance it would be accepted by the Government. The same question of excepting local taxation will arise not only at this point, but also after the words "public money" in the Subsection ["the appropriation, control, or regulation of public money."] At that point I want to insert the words "not including money raised by local authorities for local purposes." Again, in the Subsection after the word "loan" some words would be necessary to except "local loans." It may be convenient to deal with these matters in a proviso at the end of the Sub-section, but I am anxious at this stage to know what course the Government propose to take.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I think it may not be inconvenient to the Committee at the point at which we have now arrived if I meet the Amendments which have been indicated by the hon. Member for Kingston (Mr. Cave) by stating to the House what we think we can do in following out the proposals which the Prime Minister has stated this afternoon and reassure the party opposite as to the exact limits which we intend, and have always intended, to be assigned to this financial Clause. The hon. Member for Kingston has dealt with three Amendments. The first is in line five to insert "other than local taxation." The second is in line eight 377 after the word "loan," to insert "other than local loans." The third is in line eight after "money," to insert "not including money raised by local authorities for local purposes." We can, in fact, meet the wishes of the hon. and learned Gentleman, and say that we never intended that this should apply to local taxation or finance. But we think that there is a better way of doing it than by the insertion of these three separate Amendments. That is, at the end of Sub-section (2), to insert a proviso as follows: "In this provision the expressions taxation, public money, and loan respectively, do not include any taxation, money, or loan raised by local authorities or borrowed for local purposes."
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
Very well. I do not know whether it would be convenient to deal with the other points. They are not, strictly speaking, relevant to the Amendment. But after all the question, what is a Money Bill, is much better settled by taking a general point of view than when broken up piecemeal. There are then three matters which have been brought before the Government afresh to-day. There is the question in line six. I understand it is the intention of the hon. Gentleman, after the word "fund" to move to insert "for the payment of debt or other financial purposes," and again in line six to leave out "or the provision of money by Parliament," and to insert the words "votes of credit," and again to leave out the words in line six "control or regulation." We have done our best to give consideration to these matters in the course of the afternoon. We do not think that the two sides of the House differ substantially as to what they want, but we do feel a difficulty in casting our purpose into the exact words which will fit. We are inclined to think that the proviso which applies to the payment of debts or other financial purposes, and that which seeks to insert votes of credit would tend unduly to narrow the scope of the legislation.
We think the Amendment ought to be conveniently framed in a form rather wider, but we frankly confess that we have not had time to find the exact words. We will consider them before the report stage is reached, with a view to giving effect to what I think is the common purpose of both sides of the House with regard to the control or regulation of public money. What the Government 378 mean by the words "the appropriation, control, or regulation of public money," is to safeguard measures like the Exchequer and Audit Acts of 1866, which are concerned with the proper and uniform administration of the taxes which have been passed by the House and the proper control of public money—all that great apparatus which has grown up under the Exchequer and Audit Acts of 1866, over-which the Comptroller and Auditor-General now presides, and other measures of that nature. That is what we want and that is what we mean. It is possible that our words in the technical and Parliamentary sense might conceivably have a wider significance which we do not intend them to have. But it is rather a conundrum to discover words which will safeguard what we mean, that is to say, the technical administration of financial matters under the House of Commons, not to suggest, at any rate, a wider, a more general regulation and control than we have in the matter. On that third point we also engage ourselves to consider very carefully before Report whether there really lurks any great danger in the words we are putting, and whether we think we come nearer to hon. Gentlemen in a more thoroughly safeguarding definition.
There is one other proposal which I understand the hon. Gentleman is going to move. I think it is more convenient that these financial Amendments should be dealt with together instead of one by one, because they must all be considered together. The Government position must be defined by one and the same Amendment. This Amendment which is proposed is, after the word "matters," to put the word "necessarily," so that it would read "matters necessarily incidental to these subjects or any of them." We think it would be better, if it meets the wish of hon. Gentlemen opposite, instead of inserting the word "necessarily" after "matters," to insert the word "subordinate" before matters, so that it would read "subordinate matters incidental to these subjects or any of them." The object of that is to make it clear that these matters are not merely incidental, but are essentially subordinate in importance and in the main purpose of legislation, and are relegated to a wholly lower plane of discussion. We think that will substantially meet the anxiety which has been expressed upon that point. I have not attempted to argue these details. I thought it would be convenient to the Committee if I put them forward at 379 this stage in order that it may be seen that we are anxiously endeavouring to give effect to the statement of the Prime Minister to-day, and to define our money provisions as asserting effectively the existing constitutional practice, and going no further in any respect.
§ Sir ROBERT FINLAY
The statement of the Home Secretary has been for the convenience of the Committee, and we all listened with great interest to what he said with regard to these various Amendments, which, after all, affect the one great subject. I rise for the purpose of asking the Home Secretary "whether the Government will further consider, before the Report stage, the last words of the Sub-section, which now reads, as I understand the proposal,Or subordinate matters incidental to those subjects or any of them.My suggestion is that the Government should consider whether it should not run thus—Or subordinate matters incidental to the provisions of a Money Bill as denned in this Sub-section,for this reason: that you do not want to have separate Bills, say for valuation, that might be said to be subordinate matter incidental to such subject. The words are meant to safeguard subordinate provisions in the Bill itself. If you keep the wordsincidental to those subjects or any of them,you might have a Bill dealing entirely with matters said to be incidental. What is intended to be safeguarded, as I understand it, is matters which are subordinate matters which are incidental to the provisions of the Money Bill, properly so-called, in the Bill. All I ask is that that should be considered before Report.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
When the right hon. and learned Gentleman puts forward an opinion on a matter of drafting of this kind it is obviously the duty of the Government to examine very carefully with the light of the information at their disposal a suggestion which comes across the floor of the House from such a high authority.
§ Mr. WEDGWOOD
May I ask the right hon. Gentleman for one explanation in connection with this proposed Amendment. I want to be quite clear about it. Are we ruling out the possibility of passing a Valuation Bill which would amend the 380 existing Valuation Bill, which would amend the existing valuation under Form IV. of the Budget of 1909–10? As the Bill stands at present it is within our power to pass a Valuation Bill which would amend the existing provisions without the House of Lords being able to interfere. Is he sacrificing that power by making the alterations he proposes? The valuation question, as hon. Members opposite know, is the one which is at the bottom of all the fight over this particular Clause. We want to be quite sure that it shall be possible to carry a Valuation Bill in spite of the opposition of the House of landlords. May I have an answer?
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I am prepared to say that the Amendment which I have proposed does not alter substantially the intentions of the Bill as it was framed and introduced, and as it has been explained and expounded to the House by the Prime Minister. The fact that the matter would be subordinate and incidental to a Money Bill must, of course, be taken in its proper context, and if the valuation proposal were subordinate and incidental to a general Money Bill, that would be entirely safeguarded by the scope of this Clause. It is not possible to pronounce in advance upon the exact future which attends, under the Speaker's ruling, every specific Bill which might be put forward. We can only lay down the words and leave it to the Speaker in the future to decide. We have not in any way altered the sense of the Bill or altered the purpose which we had embarked on, and I should like to remind my hon. Friend that the Bill must not be read in regard to Clause 1 alone, but that it must be read also in regard to Clause 2. That Clause provides, with regard to matters which are not purely money matters, a safe, sure, and effectual means of securing that the will of the House of Commons shall prevail within the life-time of a Parliament. I am advised that the object the Government have in view would not be in any way interfered with by the proposed alteration.
§ Lord ALEXANDER THYNNE
I understand that one of the effects of the Amendment would be to withdraw the Exchequer and Audit Act from the cognisance of the Upper House, and that it would be competent for a bare majority of this House to repeal or Amend the Act of 1866. That is a very serious proposition, because it is quite possible to contemplate the Auditor-General coming to cross-purposes with the Executive of the 381 day. If we place such an important matter as the repeal of the Exchequer and Audit Act under the operation of Clause 1 we shall be taking a departure of immense gravity.
§ Mr. WALTER LONG
It seems to us that the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman is on the whole thoroughly satisfactory. He will, however, realise that the ground covered is necessarily rather wide, and he will not ask us to pledge ourselves now, without any consideration of the precise form or matter of his Amendments, to an acceptance of them as a complete fulfilment of our desires. The right hon. Gentleman has been good enough to promise that these Amendments should be moved on Report. I would ask him to undertake that they should be on the Paper in sufficient time to enable them to be fully considered by my hon. Friends, so that we may decide whether they meet our wishes. Further, I would ask that they should be brought on at a time when they can be discussed in the event of their not carrying out what we think they ought to do. I do not see any reason to anticipate that they will not satisfy our desires; on the contrary, we are very much indebted to the Home Secretary for the fullness of his statement, which seemed very complete.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I propose to proceed with the matter even more quickly than the right hon. Gentleman suggests. I propose to move, at once, the proviso making it clear that this Bill will not affect local taxation, and also the Amendment introducing the word "subordinate." The three other matters we will consider before Report and as soon as possible, and when we have reached a conclusion we will certainly put our Amendments on the Paper.
§ Mr. WEDGWOOD
I hope the right hon. Gentleman understands the full danger of the use of the word "subordinate." It will be very difficult for the Speaker or anybody else to decide whether the financial matters are subordinate to the valuation or whether the valuation is subordinate to the financial matters. I hope the Home Secretary will not pledge himself now to the exact word, but will carefully consider the point, in order that we may not preclude ourselves from revising the valuation, although it may be only a subordinate matter to the general taxation imposed. It seems to me a vital point, and I should not like the Government to give it away just when 382 their followers have loyally supported them through the earlier stages of the Bill.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
On a point of Order. I do not want to detain the Committee, even if you rule in my favour, but. I think I should move formally to leave out of Sub-section (2) "charges on the Consolidated Fund." In view of what has been said by the Government, I do not propose to go to a division; but I do ask the Home Secretary to take certain cases that come under this head into account. You might by these words have a Bill brought forward that will reduce the Civil List of the Sovereign, or take away the salaries of the judges. If we do not press our Amendments it is not because we are clear that the proposed Amendments of the Government cover all the points, but that we have in view their statements. This is a point of great substance.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
The House of Commons has shown itself not unwilling to provide for the proper administration of justice, or the upkeep, and honour, and dignity of the Crown; I do not really feel that we need have any great anxiety about these at this time of day, or that we are likely, after so many generations, to depart from the standard set. I quite see the points that the hon. Member has made. I do not believe that there need be suggested any real or immediate modern danger; but in any case, whatever danger or risk there might be, it is an essential principle that the whole control of money in all its branches shall be in the disposition of the House of Commons.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE moved, in Sub-section (2), after the word "provision "["provision of money by Parliament"] to insert the words" application or appropriation."
§ I must formally move this Amendment so that it may not be said later, if this point is not met, that the 383 matter was forgotten. "Application 'or' appropriation "should read" application 'and' appropriation." This is intended to deal with a case where money might be voted by Parliament without any subsequent appropriation, and left at the discretion of the Treasury to administer. The point I had in my mind was the Development Fund Grant which is to be left to the Treasury and not appropriated. I think that is a very dangerous power to give to a Government; to vote money which they might apply without appropriation. Therefore that is a point that will have to be met on Report if not met in the meantime. And therefore this is a point which will have to be moved upon Report, if not met in the meantime. The Government have discretionary powers to get money from Parliament, using it as they like upon appropriation.
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
It is dealt with in the next line, but in a different category of loan. You may have Bills providing money without appropriation following.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. BUTCHER
I beg to move in Subsection (2) after the word "loan" ["the raising or guarantee of any loan"] to insert the words "other than a loan raised by a foreign Government or by one of the self-governing Dominions or Possessions abroad of which the principal or interest is guaranteed by the Treasury."
The point of the Amendment is this: that sometimes it happens that from matters of high policy this country guarantees a loan raised by a foreign country or a loan raised by one of our self-governing Dominions, or, as in the case of the Transvaal, by one of our Possessions abroad. The Committee will observe that in these cases not a farthing of the money is necessarily raised in this country. No money may be ever advanced by this country, and no taxation may be ever required to meet these loans. This country, from motives of high policy, may think it desirable to guarantee the interest of the loan raised by a foreign country or by our Dominions, as the case may be. I submit that that is only very indirectly a matter of taxation. I agree it may mean contingent liability, but that liability may not be any liability at all; it is not a matter purely of finance, but is really a matter of 384 high policy. There is no case, so far as I know, where the House of Lords have not been entitled to reject a Bill of that character. Perhaps the Home Secretary would consider whether there has been any case in which the House of Lords have asserted the right to reject a Bill of that character, and where this House has considered it a breach of its privileges. We are dealing in this Clause with matters where taxation is to be raised from the subject, or where, when raised, it is to be appropriated for certain services of supply, which it may be reasonable that the House of Lords should not deal with, but in the case I put, I see no reason why the House of Lords should not exercise its ordinary jurisdiction, or why this subject should be removed for the consideration of the House of Lords.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
I can give the hon. Member the undertaking for which he asks. It is rather difficult to draw the line between a subsidy and a guaranteed loan. In the history of England, on many occasions, this country has subsidised foreign states in time of war, and very considerable sums have been voted to our allies during continental wars. All that is under the control of the House of Commons, and it is difficult to draw a distinction between that and a guarantee to another state. These facts have to be taken into consideration. The Prime Minister desires to give the matter further consideration. The Amendment was not printed on the Paper or we should have considered it more closely. Perhaps upon that understanding the hon. and learned Member will not press his Amendment now.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
I beg to move in Sub-section (2) to omit the word "or" "or matters incidental to those subjects "] and to insert instead thereof the word" and." I do not know whether the Home Secretary has given this matter consideration. It seems to me that an entirely separate Bill must be brought in containing matters incidental to some former money Bill. I do not think that is the intention of the Government, and it is not in harmony with the spirit of the Prime Minister's declaration.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
An Amendment of a similar character and purpose has already been discussed. The Government have a 385 distinct preference for the word "or" in this case. At the same time we are willing to undertake to give consideration to the point raised by the hon. and learned Member between now and the Report stage.
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
Is my interpretation right that under this Sub-section a Bill which is only a Money Bill in the sense that it is incidental to some other Money Bill could be brought in?
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
It is conceivable that there might be a measure of that kind. For instance, you might have a Money Bill with some subordinate provision in it. You might have an Income Tax Bill with an incidental arrangement touching the question of collection at the source. It might be found desirable in the following year to amend, in some small particular, that system. That would be a Bill incidental to a Money Bill and yet there might not be in that small amending Bill any Clauses imposing taxation, repealing taxation, or dealing directly with finance as such.
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
I do not understand how it would have to be a subordinate provision. I do not think that is contemplated by the reading of the words of the Section.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I beg to move, after the word "or" ["or matters incidental"] to insert the word "subordinate."
§ Mr. MORRELL
I understood this word was to be inserted on Report I must say that all that was asked for was the word "necessary," and it seems to me undesirable that this word "subordinate" should be put in without any consideration. It is very doubtful whether it really would apply to the case mentioned by the Postmaster-General, and it seems to me we might ask that it should be left over till Report.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I beg to move at the end of Sub-section (2) to insert the words "The expressions 'taxation, public money and loan respectively,' do not include any taxation money, or loan raised by local authorities or borrowed for local purposes."
386 This is purely to give effect to the intention that this deals with Imperial, and not with local moneys.
§ Mr. STUART-WORTLEY
I beg to move, in Sub-section (3), to leave out the words "When a Bill to which the House of Lords has not consented is presented to His Majesty for assent as a Money Bill," and to insert instead thereof the words "Every Money Bill when it is sent to the House of Lords or is presented to His Majesty for assent."
The effect of this would be to provide that the Speaker's certificate should be given before it goes to the Lords, which is only a matter of courtesy between the two Houses.
§ 1.0 A.M.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
I think the object the right hon. Gentleman has in view is one which would be acceptable to the Government. The Amendment provides that when a Money Bill leaves this House it should be sent up accompanied by the certificate of the Speaker that it is a Money Bill. In the same way I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that the same provision should be made to apply to a Bill being presented to His Majesty for assent. As the Amendment stands, it puts the alternative, but it should be made to apply to both cases. I suggest that the right hon. Gentleman should take the words in the Bill and make them read, "Every Money Bill, when it is sent up to the House of Lords, and when it is presented to His Majesty for Assent shall be accompanied by a certificate of the Speaker" to the effect that it is a Money Bill. If he will withdraw his Amendment, he may do so, and I will move mine.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
I think I have made it plain both the object of the Amendment, and why it is accepted. The Bill, when it leaves this House, will be accompanied by a certificate of the Speaker that it is a Money Bill, so that the House of Lords will not be asked to discuss the Bill without knowing that it is a Money Bill certified by the Speaker.
§ The CHAIRMAN
They can be moved with the exception of one or two which are dealt with by the Amendments already decided upon.
§ Question, "That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the Clause," put, and negatived.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. CAVE moved "That the words 'Every Money Bill when it is sent up to the House of Lords, and when it is presented to His Majesty for assent,' be inserted."
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I beg to Move to leave out Sub-section (4).
I rise to move the omission of this Subsection. I observe on the Paper no less than eight or nine Amendments which stand in the names of hon. Gentlemen and the Noble Lord opposite proposing to omit Sub-section (4), and although we have not heard the arguments by which these hon. Members would have advocated their proposition, we have been considering their Amendments ourselves, and have come to the conclusion that their proposition is a right and a proper one. I would ask the Committee to look at the Sub-section which states that no Amendment shall be allowed to a Money Bill which, in the opinion of the Speaker of the House of Commons is such as would prevent the Bill retaining the character of a Money Bill. I venture to suggest that the procedure of this House ought not to be regulated by this Section. There is no reason why the Speaker should be precluded from accepting an Amendment which would deprive a Money Bill of the character of a Money Bill. There is no reason why we should be precluded from moving such Amendments. It is quite conceivable that the House might find it convenient if this Bill were passed, and might be quite willing to transfer a Bill from the category of measures which come under the provisions of Clause 1 to the category of measures under the provisions of Clause 2 because probably it would be a Bill about which no collision between us would arise, and a Bill in which delay would not be a matter of serious importance, and the advantage of 388 adding an additional Clause of a non-money character might be greater than the disadvantage of transferring that legislation from the provisions of Clause 1 to the provisions of Clause 2. That is a matter for the House of Commons itself to decide on the particular occasion.
If the Speaker were not free to accept an Amendment to a Money Bill which would destroy its character of a Money Bill what would become of the practice so long carried on by us of conducting our discussions in Committee? It would be almost impossible for manuscript Amendments to be sent up and considered, because the Speaker or the Chairman would have to consider the Amendments from every point of view and whether, before putting any Amendment, he was not actually breaking the law in accepting the Amendment. I am willing to admit that the Noble Lord and hon. Gentlemen opposite have discovered a considerable flaw and oversight in our proposed legislation, and it shows, I think, the value to us of Parliamentary discussion and of the examination of this measure in Committee. We quite recognise that if this Bill is passed into law it may become necessary to amend our Standing Orders. We do not say it will become necessary, because it is possible that the practice of the House of Commons may solve the question for itself. It is clear, however, that this House should be perfectly free to discuss its own business as it wishes and move any Amendments which it may think proper as it chooses. The House must take the consequences of its action, and if we move an Amendment which deprives a Bill of its character as a Money Bill, such a Bill will be transferred from the summary and swift procedure of Clause 1 to the more lengthy and more effective safeguard of Clause 2.
When the time comes for us to consider, after this Bill passes into law, whether any Amendments to our Standing Orders are necessary, it will no doubt be convenient for us to consider at what moment Mr. Speaker should indicate to the House his view whether a Bill was or was not a Money Bill, and also whether he should indicate to the House at any stage that the Bill had lost, or was in danger of losing, its character of a Money Bill owing to the acceptance or proposal of any particular Amendment. The Chairman would be asked, as a matter of Order, for his opinion on this point and would give his 389 ruling. It would be for the House itself, having ascertained what the position was from the Chair, to decide whether it would persist in the introduction of an extra or novel provision. We think we may safely omit Sub-section (4), because, in our opinion, the sole direction of the procedure of the House of Commons and the sole decision on what Amendments may be moved or should be introduced into any legislation coming within our purview should rest with the House of Commons itself, and we should at any time be able to have regard to the question whether the making of a Motion or the introduction of an Amendment into a Money Bill would have the affect that we must forego the opportunity of passing on that Money Bill for the Royal Assent. We ask the House to agree with the hon. Gentlemen who have proposed the omission of the Subsection, and to leave this matter to be dealt with by the House at the proper time.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
I quite agree with the explanation which the right hon. Gentleman has given, but I presume we may assume from his speech that be did not receive a mandate from the country for Sub-section (4).
Sir H. DALZIEL
There is just one point I should like to call attention to before we leave this. It is only a small point. As Sub-section (4) stands at present, I take it, it would govern the action of the House of Lords. It says: "No Amendment shall be allowed to a Money Bill which, in the opinion of the Speaker of the House of Commons, is such as to prevent the Bill retaining the character of a Money Bill." As that stands at present the ruling of the Speaker would have to be consulted before an Amendment could be moved in the House of Lords. Now I want to ask the right hon. Gentleman whether as the Clause will stand with Sub-section (4) deleted it would be possible in any circumstances for the House of Lords to amend a Money Bill, send it back to the House of Commons, and the Commons send it back again, and yet that the Bill would be passed within a month?
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
My hon. Friend is a vigilant watch dog in these matters—and very rightly—but if he will read the provisions of the first Sub-section: "If a Money Bill, having been passed by the House of Commons, and sent up to the House of Lords at least one month 390 before the end of the Session, is not passed by the House of Lords without Amendment within one month," and so on. We have already decided they cannot amend a Money Bill, and that is a Bill which reaches them with a certificate that it is a Money Bill.
Sir H. DALZIEL
With great respect, that does not deal with the point I made. A Money Bill goes to the House of Lords; you have declared they are not allowed to amend it, and they have one month when that period elapses. Is it not conceivable, as the Clause stands, that a Money Bill would go to the Lords, that they would amend it, and send it to the Commons, that the Commons would then have to consider it and send it back again to the Lords? The point would still arise.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
I can assure my hon. Friend that that really is not a danger. A Money Bill goes to the House of Lords with a certificate from the Speaker; therefore it is a Money Bill. The statute says that that being the definition of a Money Bill they shall not be able to amend it.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
If it is not passed without Amendment within one month it goes from the House of Commons for the Royal Assent.
§ Mr. MOORE
I want to say a word about the idea which has been fairly put by the right hon. Gentleman. In order to carry out his own intention would not the right hon. Gentleman have to make some provision that the Speaker's certificate is not to be final? If the House of Commons subsequently, after the Speaker's certificate, says a Bill is no longer to be regarded as a Money Bill must there not be some power that the Speaker can alter his certificate? There is no power given at present whereby the Speaker can go back on his first certificate. If the House of Commons changes its mind and wishes to transfer a Bill from one class to the other will not a further certificate be necessary?
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
It is clear Mr. Speaker could not issue a certificate as to whether a measure retains its character of a Money Bill until the discussion in the House of Commons had been completed. Mr. Speaker might rule, earlier in the discussion, that it was a Money Bill, or in regard to some particular Amendment, 391 perhaps, he might rule that such an Amendment would destroy its character as a Money Bill; but the statutory certificate, which has virtue in it and has to govern the relation of the two Houses in this matter, would not, as a matter of fact, be issued until it was clear to what class the measure belonged which was to be the subject of the certificate. That could not be ascertained until the measure left the House of Commons.
§ Colonel GRIFFITH-BOSCAWEN
I think we should make it quite clear what the intention is with regard to the Speaker's certificate. He has to issue a certificate when a Bill is brought in, to the effect that it is a Money Bill.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
It would be master of the situation until it allows the situation to pass from its hands in order to allow another situation to be created. The Speaker will give his certificate when the Bill is sent to the House of Lords. Then, of course, the Bill will have gone through all its stages and through its Third Beading here. If it leaves the House of Commons as a Money Bill it must pass into law unless the House of Commons declares to the contrary.
§ Mr. CHURCHILL
They do not get behind the Speaker's certificate in the sense of declaring that the Bill is not a Money Bill.
§ Question, "That Sub-section (4) stand part of the Clause," put, and negatived.392
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Tuesday next, 18th April.
§ ADJOURNMENT.—Resolved "That this House do now adjourn."—[Mr. Gulland.]
§ Adjourned accordingly at Nineteen minutes after One a.m., Wednesday, 12th April.