HC Deb 20 April 1911 vol 24 cc1051-126

(1) If any Bill other than a Money Bill is passed by the House of Commons in three successive Sessions (whether of the same Parliament or not), and, having been sent up to the House of Lords at least one month before the end of the Session, is rejected by the House of Lords in each of those Sessions, that Bill shall, on its rejection for the third time by the House of Lords, 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 thereto, notwithstanding that the House of Lords has not consented to the Bill: Provided that this provision shall not take effect unless two years have elapsed between the date of the first introduction of the Bill in the House of Commons and the date on which it passes the House of Commons for the third time.

(2) A Bill shall be deemed to be rejected by the House of Lords if it is not passed by the House of Lords either without amendment or with such amendments only as may be agreed to by both Houses.

(3) A Bill shall be deemed to be the same Bill as a former Bill sent up to the House of Lords in the preceding Session if, when it is sent up to the House of Lords, it is identical with the former Bill or contains only such alterations as are certified by the Speaker of the House of Commons to be necessary owing to the time which has elapsed since the date of the former Bill, or to represent amendments which have been made by the House of Lords in the former Bill in the preceding Session.

Provided that the House of Commons may, if they think fit, on the passage of such a Bill through the House in the second or third Session, suggest any further amendments without inserting the amendments in the Bill, and any such suggested amendments shall be considered by the House of Lords, and if agreed to by that House, shall be treated as amendments made by the House of Lords and agreed to by the House of Commons; but the exercise of this power by the House of Commons shall not affect the operation of this section in the event of the Bill being rejected by the House of Lords.


I beg to move, in Subsection (1), after the word "If" ["If any Bill other than a Money Bill "], to insert the words "after the first Dissolution of Parliament which shall take place after the passing of this Act."

The effect of the Amendment will be that Clause 2 will take effect after a Dissolution and not in the present Parliament. I think the reasons for this Amendment are very clear, and, indeed, lie on the surface. The Government are proposing a great constitutional change, under which, if it becomes law, there will henceforth be no power in any House to refer to the people any measure which may be proposed in this House. We are told that there was a mandate for this particular Bill, but I think no one says there was a mandate for more than this one Bill, and yet we are told, I do not know with what truth, that the intention of the Government is, if this Bill becomes law, to introduce and pass into law in the present Parliament, without reference to the people, such great measures as a Home Rule Bill, a Bill for Disestablishing the Church in Wales, a Licensing Bill, and other matters of that kind as to which there is great controversy. We are told from time to time that the party opposite have some respect for the will of the electors of this country. I want to have an opportunity now and hereafter to test whether that is true. Proposals for Home Rule have been at least twice before the electors, and each lime they have been rejected. The nation has never pronounced in favour of a Home Rule Bill. Then take Disestablishment. I do not think a measure for Disestablishment has ever been submitted to the country at all as a test question. There never was an election in which that was made a test question, so that the people could pronounce upon it. As to the Licensing Bill, when it was rejected two years ago, it was recognised on all hands that the Government dared not go to the country upon it, and yet this Government, which professes to be solicitous to give effect to the will of the electors, proposes actually to introduce in this House, without referring to the people at all, these three very measures on which the people have hitherto declined to pronounce a favourable verdict. I do not think anyone really believes that if you submitted to the country now any one of those three issues you would get a verdict in its favour. I doubt whether anyone in his heart believes that. Nor even do I believe that if you submitted the three together, and the process of log-rolling went on, the supporters of each measure supporting the other, you would get a verdict for all the three. Yet the Government are actually proposing, if and when this Bill is passed, to ask the House to pass those three very measures, and when they are rejected by the other House to pass them again and again, and pass them into law under this very Bill, though the people will not have a chance of saying whether or not they desire them.

That is showing a cynical disregard of the very purpose for which we are here. We are here to give effect to the views of the electors, and we shall see before the debate is concluded whether hon. Gentle- men opposite take that view or not. But take this as a first test. You have never submitted to the electors these three measures, and yet, if the Amendment is not accepted, you are going to pass them into law behind the backs of the electors. There is a special reason why the Government should be careful at the present time. This measure is by admission, indeed on the face of it, a measure of a temporary kind. The preamble shows that sooner or later we are to have a Second Chamber differently constituted, but, as I gather, with some real check on the proposals which pass this House. But during the interregnum there will be no authority which can check the proceedings of this House. There will be no check at all upon it, unless it be the check of dissolution. I ask the Government to apply that check, and to say that while there is no effective Second Chamber with an effective veto, they should take special pains not to pass into law anything which the people have not in terms approved. This Amendment would give them a chance of following up that precept. It will put to the test whether it be the fact that the people approves this Bill, and whether they approve also the measures which are to follow this Bill. I ask the Government to say whether or not they will adopt that suggestion. If not they will show themselves indifferent to what the will of the people is. While they profess to be desirous of destroying the Veto of the other House, they are only cheating the people of their Veto and preventing them from saying whether or not they desire these future measures to pass into law. I ask the Government to say, having made this great constitutional change, if they are able to carry it, that they will go to the electors who sent us here to ascertain from them whether or not they are willing to sanction the measures which will follow this.


I suppose this Amendment is serious, but it amounts to a negation of the whole Bill. This is the proposal which was put before the country at the last General Election, hut the hon. Gentleman positively asks this House of Commons, having been returned for that purpose, to abnegate the function for which it was returned until after another Dissolution. It is not a question of Home Rule or Disestablishment, or any specific measure. The Amendment would prevent the applica- tion of the Clause to any measure of any sort or kind, until another dissolution takes place. It is, in fact, to deny the mandate given to this House, and it is obviously impossible for the Government to accept it.


I think the peculiar tone adopted by the right hon. Gentleman is due to the impossibility which he found in answering the arguments of my hon. and learned Friend. If you cannot refute an argument, it is always convenient to assume that no argument exists, and of that elementary form of Parliamentary tactics the right hon. Gentleman has shown himself a master, as he is a master of most forms of Parliamentary tactics. In the few cursory observations made by the right hon. Gentleman the one glimmer of argument was that at the last General Election the country not only decided to have this Bill, but decided to have all the other Bills in the course of the present Parliament which this Government might pass. That he calls a mandate from the people. I do not agree with either half of that double contention. I think it perfectly true that at the last election the country showed itself desirous of dealing with what is called the constitutional question, but that they actually gave the Government a mandate for this particular way of dealing with it I do not believe in the least; nor do I believe that if you cross-examined the odd thousands of electors who returned the Government to power, you would find they could tell you exactly what this Bill is. They could tell you that they desire to see some amendment or alteration of the relations between the two Houses and of the constitution of the Upper House; but the idea that we are to be told that they desire this Bill, with Clauses 1, 2, 3, 4, and the rest of it—that they desire the particular solution that the Government lay before us—or indeed, in the absence of discussion in this House, that they would be in any case in a position to form an opinion upon it, seems to me wholly absurd. But let us grant, for the sake of argument, that the people desire this Bill substantially in the form in which the Government have introduced it. What possible warrant is there for the right hon. Gentleman's next suggestion, namely, that the electors also desire every other measure casually mentioned, or casually not mentioned, by the Members of the Government in their election addresses during the course of the last General Election. The course of events is against the validity of such a suggestion. Everybody knows that it is an untrue suggestion. Everybody knows that the people desire to see some modification in the relations between the two Houses of Parliament and in the constitution of the Upper House, but they do not on that account necessarily say that they want Disestablishment in Wales, or Home Rule, or any of the other measures which the Government or their supporters may or may not have suggested in the passing phases of this or that political dilemma.

What my hon. and learned Friend proposes in this Amendment is surely a common-sense suggestion. If you choose to say that this House is not merely to be the proper organ to manage all our national business, unchecked or unassisted by another Chamber, if you are prepared to say that whatever measure it passes three times shall have the force of law of itself, you are bound, as a necessary corollary, unless you have a Single Chamber only, to add to that some means of showing that the electors were consulted before the new system, or after it, and that they had some means by referendum or otherwise of offering their opinion upon it. You must have one or other of these two things. What the right hon. Gentleman actually suggests is that at the last General Election when the party of which he was a member was returned by a majority of one, and when the other two parties in alliance with his party made up the majority to 124, the electors not merely gave him a mandate to pass this Bill, but to pass every other measure, over the head of and unchanged and unaltered by the Second Chamber, which the log-rolling instincts of the groups composing the majority may think it desirable to pass in the course of the next three or four years. That is a preposterous suggestion. The right hon. Gentleman asked whether my hon. and learned Friend was serious in making the proposal in the Amendment. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he is serious in turning this great revolution, this great constitutional change, which it is, and must be in whatever form it is passed, into an instrument to be used for passing other and even more revolutionary changes without giving the electors, of whom hon. Gentlemen opposite talk so much, the opportunity of expressing their real opinions upon those changes. My hon. and learned Friend challenged hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite to say whether, if the election had been taken on Home Rule, any man in his heart believed that the last election would have had the same result. Every man knows in his heart that it would have been nothing of the kind. Nobody does think so. If my hon. and learned Friend is right in that, what are you doing by this Clause, unless you pass the Amendment? You are using the public favour, which you have got undoubtedly, for the purpose of making some change in the constitution of the Upper House as an instrument for forcing upon the people changes the nature of which they practically have not realised, which they have certainly not thought over, which have never been argued before them in the country, which they have never read of being argued in this House. From the very nature of the case you are abusing, improperly and unconstitutionally, powers which you have seized from the electors in order to carry out changes for which they have given you no mandate.


I assume that if the ordinary course of events is followed in reference to this Amendment it will be negatived, and that the one which stands further down on the Paper in my name will be ruled out of order for the reason that it would be regarded as dilatory. Therefore, I desire at once to avail myself of this opportunity of stating one or two reasons why I think the House should give more serious attention to the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member than was bestowed upon it by the Prime Minister. I assume that, as a matter of course, the Amendment will be negatived. Notwithstanding the eloquent tribute recently paid by the Leader of the Opposition to the purity of our system of voting in this House, I still respectfully associate myself with the Noble Lord opposite (Lord Hugh Cecil). I venture to say that if we had the opportunity of counting heads in the House, I could give the exact figures of the Division before it takes place. I had a desire to move an Amendment which would bring this Bill itself within the operation of the same machinery which it sets up for other legislation. But I assume I shall not get a chance of moving that Amendment, and therefore I desire to say that I shall certainly vote for the Amendment now before the Committee. I desire to suggest to right hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House that they should endeavour to find some better reasons for opposing the Amendment than those given by the Prime Minister. What is the position of the matter? The House has resolved that Clause 1 shall stand part of the Bill. I went through the tedious task of sitting up all night and voting for that Clause because, rightly or wrongly, I conceive it to be the sole function of this House to deal with finance. Having decided that, we now come to the provisions applicable to general legislation, and we are asked to vote for a Clause which, as the hon. and learned Member (Mr. Cave) has pointed out, will enable this House to pass any kind of legislation it likes between now and the next General Election.

I want to put this respectfully to the occupants of the Treasury Bench. Can any one of them produce in the course of this discussion any election address or any report of any speech by any responsible Minister of the Crown telling the electors that if this Bill passes into law the Licensing Bill—I take that measure as an illustration—should be enacted under the provisions of this Bill? No such representation was ever made. I stand here in the misunderstood rôle of a democrat. I say in pursuance of my conception of that rôle that to retain the hereditary House in its present form with all its anomalies and objections and to simply limit its Veto would be to retain a political anachronism. I do not know what ground there is for suggesting that the electors ever gave a mandate for simply limiting the Veto. Speaking from my own experience, I say distinctly that what we talked to the electors about more than the Veto was the hereditary principle. We chaffed the Peers on their crests and mottoes, we enlarged on the acreage of their landed possessions, and we aroused indignant cheers by repeating the circumstances under which their titles were created. But on no occasion did we ever say to the electors that it is impossible to carry out any reform of the Lords at present, and that all we intend to do is to clip their powers so far as the vetoing of legislation is concerned. I do not understand this modern conception of democracy which would permit any anomaly to remain in your laws, provided that you stand in with the results. You say: "If it comes to undeveloped land put on a halfpenny; if it comes to leasehold property put on a tax of 10 per cent., but let the House of Lords retain the hereditary principle and simply allow us to limit their Veto."

As far as I am concerned I look at this Clause in this way. If it were a temporary expedient, if before it came into operation we had the prospect of some reality being given to the Preamble of the Bill, I could understand the position. But I do not think that the Committee appreciates the only declaration which I have heard on behalf of the Government in its defence of that measure. When the present Secretary of State for War (Lord Haldane) was a Member of this House he used, in the course of his speech on the Second Reading of the Bill, a phrase which has rather escaped attention. He said, "Whatever may be the provisions of the Reform Bill to be hereafter introduced, we intend to keep everything we get under this Bill." (Cheers.) I am glad that the War Secretary has some faithful adherents below the Gangway, and that being so, we have to take this Clause as the expression of the definite intention of the Government in regard to permanent legislation. Therefore, I say we are not entitled to go behind the backs of the electors in the way now proposed. I am not in any way a Home Ruler, but I have always thought that one of the chief arguments against the Union was that the present relations between the two countries were brought about by fraud. I do not want to see them rectified by fraud. I want to see any measure which may be proposed based on a sounder and better foundation than that of cheating the electors. I do say very seriously that the electors as a body did not understand this Bill to mean that the reform of the constitution of the Second Chamber was to be indefinitely postponed. I said on a previous occasion that one of my Constituents did not understand what the Veto meant. He thought it was a vegetable. I have in my possession a letter from one who says that he cannot understand my opposition to the Veto and that he had supported Sir William Harcourt's Veto Bill.

The public do not understand this Veto proposal. The country does not understand the meaning of this limited revolution. What the average man in the street does understand is that it is an anomaly to make a man a hereditary ruler simply by qualification of birth. He understands that the power of the House of Lords over legislation in this country is based on a false premise and a false foundation. I strongly support the Amendment because I consider it to be in the best interests of the Liberal Party. (Laughter.) I mean the party of Liberalism. I believe it would be in the best interests of true democracy, and I am quite certain that if we are going to force this Clause through to-day in the way proposed, the result will be anything but beneficial to the interests of the party with which I am associated. I believe this Amendment to be just and necessary. I do not think that any measure which can be introduced by any Government, including Home Rule, under the provisions of this Clause has the remotest chance of becoming law. The conception that by simply carrying a Bill backward and forward along the corridor for three years you will do anything but sicken and disgust the public, is a stupid conception which I do not myself understand.


The hon. Member is really addressing himself to the Clause as a whole and not to this Amendment. I must ask him to address himself to the Amendment.


I was simply endeavouring to address myself to the argument that under the provisions of this Clause a measure should become law on the third occasion of being passed by this House. In conclusion, I say that the Clause covers such infinitely wider powers than were ever understood by the people that they would be detrimental to the best interests of the democracy, and I, therefore, support most heartily the Amendment.


I understood the Prime Minister to say that he did not advance any arguments against this Amendment, because he had a mandate from the country to pass this Bill in its entirety. If that is so, why are there so many right hon. Gentlemen on the Treasury Bench who never appealed in their election addresses on the Parliament Bill—never even referred to the Bill—and had not a single paragraph in their election addresses, which by any stretch of imagination could be connected with any particular Clause of the Parliament Bill?


The Prime Minister is apparently under the impression that the Amendment of my hon. and learned Friend is not serious. This is one of the most important Amendments that have yet been introduced into the Bill. If this Bill becomes law it may happen that the electorate will change their minds and turn against the party which is led by the Prime Minister. Then the Prime Minister might say, "This being so, we are not going to have a fresh election at the end of the septennial period. We are going to take advantage of the privilege we have of sending up Bills to the House of Lords to pass a Bill extending our electoral period for another seven years." An hon. Member tells me that is provided for, but that can be got over easily. I have quotations from Ministers on that Bench which I am prepared to read—


There is a specific Amendment on that particular point.


Suppose that the Bill is going to pass, the Amendment of my hon. and learned Friend is a constitutional Amendment. It has always been the practice that when the franchise is altered this House appeals to the electors, because the House, while it rests on a different basis from that which has been established, does not really represent the people. Therefore, in order to carry out the idea of the Constitution as soon as this Bill is passed, the House of Commons ought to go to the electorate for authority to confirm them in the legislation which they have carried out. What my hon. and learned Friend says is that this Bill is not to come into operation until the electorate had been consulted. That is very kind on the part of my hon. and learned Friend, because it gives the Prime Minister four or five years' more time. It does not say "as you are altering the Constitution you must at once go to the electorate." What it says is "You have altered the Constitution, you have four or five years' time, but as you have altered the Constitution this particular power does not come into operation until the electorate is consulted." This Amendment demands more argument than has been developed by the Prime Minister, and perhaps he will see his way to accept it.

Mr. W. R. PEEL

Like the hon. Member opposite (Mr. Bottomley) I have an Amendment which I think probably will be excluded if this Amendment is dealt with. If I had felt any doubt about supporting my hon. and learned Friend it would have been entirely removed by the observations of such a sturdy democrat as the hon. Member for South Hackney. The object of this Amendment is to apply a different time for coming into effect to two different portions of this Bill. There is nothing unprecedented about that. In many cases different portions of a Bill come into effect at different times. My argument to postpone the effect of the second portion of the Bill is that you have by the first portion of the Bill effected a very large constitutional change. Of course, it is argued by hon. Members opposite that it has not done so, that it merely declares the law to be what the custom already has been; but the arguments advanced earlier this week show that that was not so, and it would be well to wait until we see the effect of that important alteration in the Constitution and not apply two violent alterations at the same time. The effect of the Bill is to apply a particular form of procedure to other measures, and that form of procedure is that they shall at least have two years before they come into operation. This measure, which is far more important than other measures which will come into operation under it, because it settles their procedure, is to come into operation at once. There is an extraordinary want of logic about making the more important measure come into operation immediately on being passed, while the less important measure can be delayed. The hon. Member opposite referred to the question of the composition of the House of Lords. This Amendment will give an opportunity to the Government of dealing with that question before the second part of the Bill comes into operation, because the whole danger that the right hon. Gentleman anticipated from the House of Lords was that the House of Lords would be able to assert again its right of dealing with the finances of the year and throwing out the Budget. That has been put entirely beyond the power of a Second Chamber, by the first Clause, and therefore he need be under no anxiety on that point, as, under the five years' Clause he would have at least three years in which he would be able to deal with the composition of the House of Lords.

But I think the strongest argument in favour of this Amendment is that the electors would look upon the measures which are proposed to them with entirely different eyes, according as they knew whether or not there was a Second Chamber which might deal with those measures or that if there were no Second Chamber those measures would undoubtedly come into law if passed by the Government of the day. It may be said that the electors on this occasion probably knew what they were about, and know that if this measure did become law then the other measures referred to, though not so much in election addresses and speeches, would also become law. I think that is entirely to misunderstand the position of the ordinary elector. He is apt to concentrate on one subject at a time, and not to consider other and larger measures. I am quite sure that many electors have not the imagination to place themselves in such a point of view as to see that after a time if these other measures are brought forward there will be no Second Chamber or no House of Lords to deal with them. If they felt that any Bill, whatever that Bill might be, proposed in this House would become law without the interference of a Second Chamber I am convinced then that they would scrutinise those measures, and demand to have far more than the vague outline which is put before them at General Elections before they would decide to put a Government into power that was going to deal with complicated provisions of large changes and revolutionary Bills. You will have, I think, to interpret in future the ideal mandate far more closely than has been done. Up to now it has been the constitutional practice to say "You have returned particular Members to Parliament; let them deal as they wish with the large questions of policy which may come up." That has been largely the constitutional idea, because it has been known that there was a Second Chamber in the way which would correct any great divagation from the principles that had been put before the people at the election. But that would be so no longer. Therefore I submit that the whole question of limitation and determination of mandate will have to be construed far more strictly.


All this is in order on the Clause, but not on this Amendment.


The last point I wish to urge is that if the Bill is dealt with under the proposals made by my hon. and learned Friend, I think it will throw some air of decency and constitutionalism over the operations of the Government. These operations of the Government are very violent; the changes they advocate are very revolutionary, and at least I think, in the interests of the Government—


The hon. Gentleman must address his remarks to the Amendment.

Mr. W. R. PEEL

I was attempting to address my remarks to the Amendment, but I do not think I will continue my observations.


I do not think the Prime Minister, in the answer which he gave to this Amendment, sufficiently considered the difference between Clause 1 and Clause 2 of this Bill. The meaning of this Amendment is that before the changes proposed by the Bill come into force, the electors should have an opportunity of expressing their opinion as to the powers which the Government will have under Clause 2. So far as Clause 1 is concerned, the Prime Minister said that he considered that to be only a declaration of the existing law; but, so far as the second Clause is concerned, it is quite clear that it introduces an absolute change as regards the constitutional practice of this country, by substituting what is, in fact, a Single-Chamber system for the system we have at the present time. I am not going to discuss that matter now; it arises on the Clause itself. What I want to know from the Prime Minister is this: Can he give any precedent in our constitutional practice, where there has been an absolute change in the whole basis of our Constitution, in which the Government in power have been allowed to use the change for their purposes before the electorate has been consulted? It is an extremely important principle, because without inserting an Amendment of this kind, not only now but at any future time this House could exercise the power of altering the Constitution of this country from top to bottom, introducing any provisions or Bills they liked, during a period of interregnum, without consulting the electorate at all as to the proposals they bring forward. Let me remind the Prime Minister about one very important point as regards this Bill, and that is the period of interregnum, the period during which this Bill is in force before any change has been made in the Second Chamber, in accordance with the proposals contained in the Preamble. What is the fact? During that interregnum, unless this Amendment be adopted, we should have a Cabinet absolutism in this country unknown, as regards its absolute power, to any other assembly, or to any other Constitution which exists in the civilised world at present time. Under these circumstances, surely the electorate ought to have a voice in saying whether they are going to allow, during a period of interregnum of this sort, this absolute power which the Government are claiming under the provisions of the Bill as it stands at the present moment. So far as the democratic principle is concerned, this Amend- ment is based on the principle of the electorate having power to say what shall be done under the provisions of a Bill of this kind. Of course, the Bill, as it stands, is wholly undemocratic and wholly inconsistent with representative principles.

If this Amendment were introduced, it would be impossible for the Government to use the powers which the Bill gives them until there had been a dissolution, and until they had obtained the mandate of the people on the basis of the terms and powers which Clause 2 would give them if passed in its present form. It appears to me, as regards the Constitution of this country, that we have hitherto been free from a position of that kind; we have really had a guarantee that before any great change is made the will of the people is to be properly ascertained, whereas, if this Clause is passed, and the Amendment is not introduced, an absolute power will be given which I am satisfied the people of this country never realised at the last General Election, and, in fact, hardly realise up to the present time, owing to the enormity of the constitutional revolution which is now intended to be brought about. On these grounds I urge most strongly that the people should be consulted, that they should be allowed, under the principle of constitutional representative Government, to have an opportunity of stating their view before the Cabinet seek to put in force what would give them absolute power as regards Home Rule, Disestablishment, and all those measures if the Clause is passed in its present form, and without the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Kingston Division.


The Prime Minister spoke only for the fraction of a minute, but he made a very remarkable speech all the same. He did not argue on the merits of the Amendment in any way whatever. He addressed himself solely to the proposition that he had a mandate from the country to carry the Bill without this Amendment, and therefore it was not necessary to argue the matter at all. This from an advocate of the representative system, the right hon. Gentleman who is so indignant when it is suggested that any question should be referred to the people, in which this House which is the representative council, debating and deciding with independent mind the issues propounded to it, and who gets up for thirty seconds or so, and says the matter has been decided by the country, and that he is not going to argue about it. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] But that is not the representative system; it is a plebiscitary system carried out in an extremely clumsy and unreal way. The idea of the right hon. Gentleman is that the House of Commons has only the function of mechanically registering what the Government of the day proposes. When Parliament has changed the character of the House of Commons, and has made it the supreme authority instead of being one of two co-ordinate authorities, the House of Commons should be re-elected in order that the country might decide what sort of House of Commons it wants to entrust with these greatly extended powers and functions. That seems to be an elementary and reasonable proposition. Apart from all the other issues—the question of taxes on food, old age pensions—


That has nothing to do with it.


Does the right hon. Gentleman really think that nobody got in on old age pensions at the General Election? I ask my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge what he thinks. In a great many country districts old age pensions excited greater interest than the Parliament Bill and the whole of the other issues put together. The whole mandate here is that you have 150,000 votes, and a tax on food is quite enough to convert a majority into a minority. A strong Radical, or if not a strong Radical at all events a decided Liberal in politics, who is an eminent Nonconformist, in discussing this question with somebody was asked whether he was in favour of abolishing the House of Lords. "Not at all," he replied, "but I think they ought not to interfere with the Budget; I am against their having power in finance, and I want to see that power abolished." That is not a proposition with which I altogether agree, but it is a proposition which a great many people assented to in the country, and all their votes given for the Bill were given without any ultimate regard to the passing of the second Clause, and without any consideration of what kind of legislation would follow. All those considerations are obvious enough, and I would not have taken up the time of the House in discussing them if the Prime Minister had not grounded his position solely on the mandate he has received. The reasonable thing is that a new House of Commons should be elected to use the powers given under this Bill.

Mr. CHURCHILL made an observation which was inaudible.


It is very characteristic of the Home Secretary that he should say that another General Election would be an intolerable burden. I quite agree it would be an intolerable burden to the Government; they would probably come out of it in a minority; at any rate, was there ever a more absurd proposition than that you are to carry an unending series of legislation with a House of Commons elected, certainly not on subsequent issues which are to be propounded to this House if this Parliament is continued, but a House of Commons elected on the prior issue in respect of this constitutional question, which was certainly not a proposition that the Government should have a free hand to write anything it pleased into the Statute Book during the coming years. The real issue on this Amendment is whether we really believe in trusting the people or not. What the Government really have in their minds is that they will not carry their Bills that they have in contemplation if they accepted this Amendment. They know that they would be beaten, and the people are only one of the many instruments for carrying out their purposes. They have imposed upon them by the groups on whose support they depend, a variety of items which appear in their programme. They want to carry those items through, and they think that if they accepted this Amendment they would not be able to carry those items, and therefore "the will of the people" is only a phrase used in perorations on platforms when all other expedients fail. Therefore we bring forward a proposition which is founded on democratic principles, but which the Government resist without argument. I hope we shall, in future, be spared appeals to the people of whom the Government are afraid, and whom they dare not consult in regard to legislation they want to pass.

The PRIME MINISTER rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."

Question put, "That the Question be now put."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 217; Noes, 135.

Division No. 156.] AYES. [3.55 p.m.
Abraham, William (Dublin Harbour) Delany, William Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)
Abraham, Rt. Hon. William (Rhondda) Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas Lardner, James Carrige Rushe
Acland, Francis Dyke Dewar, Sir J. A. Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)
Adkins, W. Ryland D. Dillon, John Levy, Sir Maurice
Agnew, Sir George William Doris, William Lewis, John Herbert
Ainsworth, John Stirling Duffy, William J. Logan, John William
Alden, Percy Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness) Low, Sir F. (Norwich)
Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry Edwards, Enoch (Hanley) Lundon, Thomas
Baker, H. T. (Accrington) Elverston, H. Lyell, Charles Henry
Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.) Essex, Richard Walter Lynch, Arthur Alfred
Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark) Esslemont, George Birnie Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)
Barnes, George N. Falconer, James Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)
Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick, B.) Fenwick, Charles Maclean, Donald
Barran, Rowland Hirst (Leeds, N.) Ferens, Thomas Robinson Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.
Barton, William Ffrench, Peter M'Laren, H. D. (Leics., Bosworth)
Beauchamp, Edward Fitzgibbon, John M'Micking, Major Gilbert
Beck, Arthur Cecil Flavin, Michael Joseph Marks, George Croydon
Benn, W. (T. Hamlets, St. George) Gill, Alfred Henry Marshall, Arthur Harold
Bentham, G. Jackson Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford Martin, J.
Bethell, Sir J. H. Guest, Major Hon. C. H. C. (Pembroke) Mason, David M. (Coventry)
Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine Gulland, John W. Masterman, C. F. G.
Boland, John Plus Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway) Meagher, Michael
Booth, Frederick Handel Hackett, J. Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)
Bowerman, Charles W. Hancock, John George Meehan, Patrick A. (Queen's County)
Boyle, D. (Mayo, N.) Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale) Menzies, Sir Walter
Brace, William Harmsworth, R. L. Millar, James Duncan
Brigg, Sir John Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West) Money, L. G. Chiozza
Brocklehurst, W. B Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.) Mooney, John J
Brunner, John F. L. Haslam, James (Derbyshire) Morgan, George Hay
Burke, E. Haviland- Haworth, Arthur A. Morrell, Philip
Burns, Rt. Hon. John Hayden, John Patrick Morton, Alpheus Cleophas
Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas Helme, Norval Watson Murray, Capt. Hon. Arthur C.
Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney C. (Poplar) Henry, Sir Charles S. Nolan, Joseph
Byles, William Pollard Higham, John Sharp O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)
Carr-Gomm, H. W. Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H. O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)
Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich) Holt, Richard Durning O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)
Cawley, Harold T. (Heywood) Hughes, S. L. O'Doherty, Philip
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S. Hunter, William (Lanark, Govan) O'Dowd, John
Clough, William Isaacs, Sir Rufus Daniel O'Grady, James
Clynes, John R Johnson, William O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)
Collins, G. P. (Greenock) Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil) O'Malley, William
Collins, Stephen (Lambeth) Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) O'Shaughnessy, P. J.
Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J Jones, William (Carnarvonshire) O'Shee, James John
Condon, Thomas Joseph Jones, W. S. Glyn- (T. H'mts., Stepney) O'Sullivan, Timothy
Cornwall, Sir Edwin A. Jowett, Frederick William Palmer, Godfrey M.
Crawshay-Williams, Eliot Joyce, Michael Parker, James (Halifax)
Crooks, William Keating, Matthew Pearce, Robert (Staffs., Leek)
Crumley, Patrick Kellaway, Frederick George Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Ratherham)
Cullinan, John Kelly, Edward Phillips, John (Longford, S.)
Dalziel, Sir James H. (Kirkcaldy) Kilbride, Denis Pickersgill, Edward Hare
Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth) Lamb, Ernest Henry Pirie, Duncan V.
Dawes, James Arthur Lambert, George (Devon, S. Molton) Pointer, Joseph
Pollard, Sir George H. Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland) Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)
Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H. Seely, Col. Rt. Hon. J. E. B. Wardle, George J.
Power, Patrick Joseph Sheehy, David Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)
Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central) Shortt, Edward Webb, H.
Priestley, Sir Arthur (Grantham) Simon, Sir John Allsebrook White, Sir Luke (Yorks, E. R.)
Primrose, Hon. Neil James Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clithero) Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.
Radford, George Heynes Spicer, Sir Albert Whyte, A. F.
Raffan, Peter Wilson Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N. W.) Wiles, Thomas
Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields) Summers, James Woolley Wilkie, Alexander
Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough) Sutton, John E. Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)
Reddy, Michael Taylor, John W. (Durham) Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R)
Redmond, John E. (Waterford) Tennant, Harold John Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)
Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven) Thomas, James Henry (Derby) Wilson, J. W. (Worcestershire, N.)
Roberts, George H. (Norwich) Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton) Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)
Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford) Toulmin, George Wood, T. M'Kinnon (Glasgow)
Robertson, John M. (Tyneside) Trevelyan, Charles Philips Young, Samuel (Cavan, East)
Roe, Sir Thomas Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander Young, W. (Perthshire, E.)
Rowlands, James Verney, Sir Harry
Rowntree, Arnold Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Master
Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent) of Elibank and Mr. Illingworth.
Acland-Hood, Rt. Hon. Sir Alex. F. Fisher, W. Hayes Middlemore, John Throgmorton
Aitken, William Max Fitzroy, Hon. Edward A. Newdegate, F. A.
Anson, Sir William Reynell Fleming, Valentine Newman, John R. P.
Anstruther-Gray, Major William Fletcher, John Samuel (Hampstead) Nield, Herbert
Ashley, W. W. Forster, Henry William Norton-Griffiths, J. (Wednesbury)
Baird, J. L. Foster, Philip Staveley Paget, Almeric Hugh
Baker, Sir R. L (Dorset, N.) Gardner, Ernest Parkes, Ebenezer
Balcarres, Lord. Gastrell, Major W. H. Peel, Hon. W. R. W. (Taunton)
Baldwin, Stanley Gibbs, George Abraham Perkins, Walter Frank
Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City, Lond.) Gilmour, Captain J. Ratcliff, R. F.
Banbury, Sir Frederick George Goulding, Edward Alfred Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel
Banner, John S. Harmood- Grant, J. A. Rawson, Colonel Richard H.
Barnston, Harry Greene, Walter Raymond Remnant, James Farquharson
Bathurst, Charles (Wilton) Guinness, Hon. W. E. Rice, Hon. W. F.
Bennett-Goldney, Francis Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne) Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)
Bird, A. Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington, S.) Salter, Arthur Clavell
Bottomley, Horatio Hamilton, Marquess of (Londonderry) Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)
Boyle, W. Lewis (Norfolk, Mid.) Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashford) Sanders, Robert A.
Bridgeman, William Clive Harris, Henry Percy Snowden, Philip
Bull, Sir William James Henderson, Major H. (Berks.) Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)
Burn, Col. C. R. Hill, Sir Clement L. (Shrewsbury) Staveley-Hill, Henry (Staffordshire)
Butcher, J. G. Hillier, Dr. A. P. Steel-Maitland, A. D.
Campion, W. R. Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield) Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)
Carlile, Edward Hildred Houston, Robert Paterson Sykes, Alan John
Cassel, Felix Hume-Williams, William Ellis Talbot, Lord E.
Castlereagh, Viscount Hunt, Rowland Terrell, G. (Wilts, N. W.)
Cator, John Hunter, Sir C. R. (Bath) Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)
Cautley, Henry Strother Joynson-Hicks, William Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Down, N.)
Cave, George Kebty-Fletcher, J. R. Thynne, Lord Alexander
Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor) Kerr-Smiley, Peter Kerr Tryon, Captain George Clement
Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University) Kerry, Earl of Tullibardine, Marquess of
Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry Kimber, Sir Henry Valentia, Viscount
Clay, Captain H. H. Spender Kirkwood, J. H. M. Walrond, Hon. Lionel
Clive, Captain Percy Archer Knight, Captain Eric Ayshford Ward, Arnold (Herts, Watford)
Courthope, George Loyd Lansbury, George Wheler, Granville C. H.
Craig, Capt. J. (Down, E.) Larmor, Sir J White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)
Craik, Sir Henry Law, Andrew Bonar (Bootle, Lancs.) Wolmer, Viscount
Crichton-Stuart, Lord Ninian Lawson, Hon. H. (T. H'mts., Mile End) Wood, John (Stalybridge)
Cripps, Sir Charles Alfred Lewisham, Viscount Worthington-Evans, L.
Dalrymple, Viscount Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury) Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George
Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. S. (Glasgow, E.) Lonsdale, John Brownlee Yate, Colonel C. E
Dixon, Charles Harvey Lowther, Claude (Cumberland, Eskdale) Younger, George
Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers- Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. A. (Hanover Sq.)
Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M. MacCaw, William J. MacGeagh TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Stanier and Col. Chaloner.
Faber, Capt. W. V. (Hants, W.) Mallaby-Deeley, Harry
Finlay, Sir R.
Division No. 157.] AYES. [5.0 p.m.
Abraham, William (Dublin Harbour) Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford O'Shee, James John
Abraham, Rt. Hon. William (Rhondda) Guest, Major Hon. C. H. C. (Pembroke) O'Sullivan, Timothy
Acland, Francis Dyke Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway) Palmer, Godfrey
Adkins, W. Ryland D. Hackett, J. Parker, James (Halifax)
Agnew, Sir George William Hancock, John George Pearce, Robert (Staffs., Leek)
Alden, Percy Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale) Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)
Allen, Arthur Acland (Dumbartonshire) Harmsworth, R. Leicester Phillips, John (Longford, S.)
Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West) Pickersgill, Edward Hare
Atherley-Jones, Llewellyn A. Harvey, W. E (Derbyshire, N. E.) Pirie, Duncan V.
Baker, H. T. (Accrington) Haslam, James (Derbyshire) Pointer, Joseph
Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.) Haworth, Arthur A. Pollard, Sir George H.
Balfour, Sir Robert Lanark Hayden, John Patrick Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.
Barnes, George N. Helme, Norval Watson Power, Patrick Joseph
Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick, B.) Henry, Sir Charles S. Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)
Barran, Rowland Hirst (Leeds, N.) Higham, John Sharp Priestley, Sir Arthur (Grantham)
Barton, William Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H. Radford, G. H
Beck, Arthur Cecil Holt, Richard Durning Raffan, Peter Wilson
Benn, W. (T. Hamlets, St. George) Hughes, S. L. Raphael, Sir Herbert H.
Bentham, G. J. Hunter, William (Lanark, Govan) Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)
Bethell, Sir John Henry Johnson, William Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)
Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil) Reddy, Michael
Black, Arthur W. Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Redmond, John E. (Waterford)
Boland, John Plus Jones, William (Carnarvonshire) Richardson, Albion (Peckham)
Booth, Frederick Handel Jones, W. S. Glyn- (T. H'mts., Stepney) Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)
Bowerman, Charles W. Jowett, Frederick William Roberts, George H. (Norwich)
Boyle, D. (Mayo, N.) Joyce, Michael Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)
Brace, William Keating, Matthew Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)
Brigg, Sir John Kellaway, Frederick George Roe, Sir Thomas
Brocklehurst, W. B. Kelly, Edward Rowntree, Arnold
Brunner, John F. L. Kilbride, Denis Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter
Burke, E. Haviland- Lambert, George (Devon, S. Molton) Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)
Burns, Rt. Hon. John Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade) Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)
Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas Lansbury, George Scanlan, Thomas
Buxton, Rt. Hon. S. C. (Poplar) Lardner, James Carrige Rushe Schwann, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles E.
Byles, William Pollard Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West) Seely, Col. Rt. Hon. J. E. B.
Carr-Gomm, H. W. Levy, Sir Maurice Sheehy, David
Cawley, Harold T. (Heywood) Lewis, John Herbert Shortt, Edward
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S. Logan, John William Simon, Sir John Allsebrook
Clough, William Low, Sir F. (Norwich) Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)
Clynes, John R. Lundon, Thomas Snowden, Philip
Collins, G. P. (Greenock) Lyell, Charles Henry Spicer, Sir Albert
Collins, Stephen (Lambeth) Lynch, Arthur Alfred Stanley, Albert (Staffs, NW.)
Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J. Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester) Summers, James Woolley
Condon, Thomas Joseph Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs) Sutton, John E.
Cornwall, Sir Edwin A. Maclean, Donald Taylor, John W. (Durham)
Crawshay-Williams, Eliot Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J. Tennant, Harold John
Crooks, William M'Laren, H. D (Leics.) Thomas, J. H. (Derby)
Crumley, Patrick M'Micking, Major Gilbert Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)
Cullinan, John Manfield, Harry Toulmin, George
Dalziel, Sir James H. (Kirkcaldy) Marks, George Croydon Trevelyan, Charles Philips
Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth) Marshall, Arthur Harold Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander
Dawes, James Arthur Martin, Joseph Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)
Delany, William Mason, David M. (Coventry) Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)
Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas Meagher, Michael Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)
Dewar, Sir J. A. Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.) Wardle, George J.
Dillon, John Meehan, Patrick A. (Queen's County) Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)
Doris, William Menzies, Sir Walter Webb, H.
Duffy, William J. Millar, James Duncan White, Sir Luke (Yorks, E. R.)
Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness) Molloy, M. Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.
Edwards, Enoch (Hanley) Money, L. G. Chiozza Whyte, A. F.
Elibank, Rt. Hon. Master of Mooney, John J. Wiles, Thomas
Elverston, H. Morgan, George Hay Wilkie, Alexander
Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.) Morrell, Philip Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)
Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.) Morton, Alpheus Cleophas Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)
Essex, Richard Walter Murray, Captain Hon. A. C. Wilson, J. W. (Worcestershire, N.)
Esslemont, George Birnie Nolan, Joseph Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)
Falconer, James O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny) Wood, T. M'Kinnon (Glasgow)
Fenwick, Charles O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool) Young, Samuel (Cavan, East)
Ferens, Thomas Robinson O'Doherty, Philip Young, W. (Perthshire, E.)
Ffrench, Peter O'Dowd, John
Fitzgibbon, John O'Grady, James
Flavin, Michael Joseph O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.
Gill, Alfred Henry O'Malley, William
Glanville, H. J. O'Shaughnessy, P. J.
Acland-Hood, Rt. Hon. Sir Alex. F. Ashley, Wilfrid W. Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City, Lond.)
Aitken, William Max Baird, J. L. Banbury, Sir Frederick George
Anson, Sir William Reynell Baker, Sir Randolf L. (Dorset, N.) Baring, Capt. Hon. G. V.
Anstruther-Gray, Major William Balcarres, Lord Barnston, Harry
Arkwright, John Stanhope Baldwin, Stanley Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)
Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth) Gilmour, Captain J. Parkes, Ebenezer
Bennett-Goldney, Francis Goulding, Edward Alfred Peel, Hon. W. R. W. (Taunton)
Bigland, Alfred Grant, J. A. Perkins, Walter Frank
Bird, A. Greene, Walter Raymond Ratcliff, R. F.
Bottomley, Horatio Guinness, Hon. W. E. Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel
Boyle, W. Lewis (Norfolk, Mid) Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne) Rawson, Colonel Richard H.
Bridgeman, William Clive Haddock, George Bahr Remnant, James Farquharson
Bull, Sir William James Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington, S.) Rice, Hon. Walter Fitz-Uryan
Burn, Col. C. R. Hamilton, Marquess of (Londonderry) Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)
Butcher, J. G. Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashford) Rothschild, Lionel de
Campion, W. R. Harris, Henry Percy Royds, Edmund
Carlile, Edward Hildred Henderson, Major H. (Berks., Abingdon) Salter, Arthur Clavell
Cassel, Felix Hill, Sir Clement L. (Shrewsbury) Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)
Castlereagh, Viscount Hillier, Dr. A. P. Sanders, Robert A.
Cator, John Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield) Sandys, G. J. (Somerset, Wells)
Cautley, Henry Strother Houston, Robert Paterson Stanier, Beville
Cave, George Hume-Williams, William Ellis Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)
Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University) Hunt, Rowland Staveley-Hill, Henry
Chaloner, Col. R. G. W. Hunter, Sir C. R. (Bath) Steel-Maitland, A. D.
Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry Kerr-Smiley, Peter Kerr Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)
Clay, Captain H. H. Spender Kerry, Earl of Sykes, Alan John
Clive, Captain Percy Archer Kimber, Sir Henry Talbot, Lord E.
Craig, Captain James (Down, E.) Kirkwood, John H. M. Terrell, George (Wilts, N. W.)
Craik, Sir Henry Knight, Captain Eric Ayshford Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)
Crichton-Stuart, Lord Ninian Larmor, Sir J. Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Down, N.)
Cripps, Sir Charles Alfred Law, Andrew Bonar (Bootle, Lancs.) Thynne, Lord Alexander
Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. S. Lawson, Hon. H. (T. H'mts., Mile End) Tryon, Capt. George Clement
Dixon, Charles Harvey Lewisham, Viscount Tullibardine, Marquess of
Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers- Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury) Walker, Colonel William Hall
Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M. Lonsdale, John Brownlee Walrond, Hon. Lionel
Faber, Capt. W. V. (Hants, W.) Lowther, Claude (Cumberland, Eskdale) Ward, Arnold (Herts, Watford)
Finlay, Sir R Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. A. (S. Geo., Han. S.) Wheler, Granville C. H.
Fisher, W. Hayes Macmaster, Donald White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)
Fitzroy, Hon Edward A. Middlemore, John Throgmorton Wolmer, Viscount
Flannery, S. J. Fortescue Mildmay, Francis Bingham Worthington-Evans, L.
Fleming, Valentine Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George
Fletcher, John Samuel (Hampstead) Newdegate, F. A. Yate, Col. C. E.
Foster, Philip Staveley Newman, John R. P. Younger, George
Gardner, Ernest Nield, Herbert
Gastrell, Major W. H. Norton-Griffiths, J. (Wednesbury) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Viscount
Gibbs, George Abraham Paget, Almeric Hugh Valentia and Mr. H. W. Forster.

Question put accordingly, "That those words be there inserted."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 136; Noes, 222.

Division No. 158.] AYES. [5.8 p.m.
Acland-Hood, Rt. Hon. Sir Alex. F. Clive, Captain Percy Archer Houston, Robert Paterson
Aitken, William Max Craig, Captain James (Down, E.) Hume-Williams. Wm. Ellis
Anson, Sir William Reynell Craik, Sir Henry Hunt, Rowland
Anstruther-Gray, Major William Crichton-Stuart, Lord Ninian Hunter, Sir C. R. (Bath)
Arkwright, John Stanhope Cripps, Sir Charles Alfred Kerr-Smiley, Peter Kerr
Ashley, Wilfrid W. Dalrymple, Viscount Kerry, Earl of
Baird, John Lawrence Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. S. Kimber, Sir Henry
Baker, Sir Randolf L. (Dorset, N.) Dixon, Charles Harvey Kirkwood, John H. M.
Balcarres, Lord Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers Knight, Captain Eric Ayshford
Baldwin, Stanley Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M. Larmor, Sir J.
Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City, Lond.) Faber, Capt. W. V. (Hants, W.) Law, Andrew Bonar (Bootle, Lancs.)
Banbury, Sir Frederick George Finlay Sir R. Lawson, Hon. H. (T. H'mts., Mile End)
Baring, Captain Hon. Guy Victor Fisher, W. Hayes Lewisham, Viscount
Barnston, Harry Fitzroy, Hon. Edward A. Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)
Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton) Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue Lonsdale, John Brownlee
Benn, Arhur Shirley (Plymouth) Fleming, Valentine Lowther, Claude (Cumberland, Eskdale)
Bennett-Goldney, Francis Fletcher, John Samuel (Hampstead) Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. A. (S. Geo. Han. S.)
Bigland, Alfred Foster, Philip Staveley Macmaster, Donald
Bird, Alfred Gardner, Ernest Middlemore, John Throgmorton
Bottomley, Horatio Gastrell, Major W. Houghton Mildmay, Francis Bingham
Boyle, W. Lewis (Norfolk, Mid.) Gibbs, George Abraham Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas
Bridgeman, William Clive Gilmour, Captain J. Newdegate, F. A.
Bull, Sir William James Goulding, Edward Alfred Newman, John R. P.
Burn, Col. C. R. Grant, J. A. Nield, Herbert
Butcher, John George (York) Greene, Walter Raymond Norton-Griffiths, J. (Wednesbury)
Campion, W. R. Guinness, Hon. Walter Edward Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William
Carlile, Edward Hildred Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne) Paget, Almeric Hugh
Cassel, Felix Haddock, George Bahr Parkes, Ebenezer
Castlereagh, Viscount Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington) Peel, Hon. W. R. W. (Taunton)
Cator, John Hamilton, Marquess of (Londonderry) Perkins, Walter Frank
Cautley, Henry Strother Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashford) Ratcliff, R. F.
Cave, George Harris, Henry Percy Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel
Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University) Henderson, Major H. (Berks, Abingdon) Remnant, James Farquharson
Chaloner, Col. R. G. W. Hill, Sir Clement L. (Shrewsbury) Rice, Hon. Walter Fitz-Uryan
Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry Hillier, Dr. A. P. Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)
Clay, Captain H. H. Spender Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield) Rothschild, Lionel de
Royds, Edmund Talbot, Lord Edmund Wheler, Granville C. H.
Salter, Arthur Clavell Terrell, George (Wilts, N. W.) White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)
Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood) Terrell, Henry (Gloucester) Wolmer, Viscount
Sanders, Robert A. Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Down, N.) Worthington-Evans, L. (Colchester)
Sandys, G. J. (Somerset, Wells) Thynne, Lord Alexander Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George
Stanier, Beville Tryon, Captain George Clement Yate, Col. C. E.
Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston) Tullibardine, Marquess of Younger, George
Staveley-Hill, Henry (Staffordshire) Walker, Colonel William Hall
Steel-Maitland, A. D. Walrond, Hon. Lionel TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Viscount
Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North) Ward, Arnold (Herts, Watford) Valentia and Mr. H. W. Forster.
Sykes, Alan John
Abraham, William (Dublin Harbour) Fitzgibbon, John O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)
Abraham, Rt. Hon. William (Rhondda) Flavin, Michael Joseph O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)
Acland, Francis Dyke Gill, Alfred Henry O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)
Adkins, W. Ryland D. Glanville, H. J. O'Doherty, Philip
Agnew, Sir George William Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford O'Dowd, John
Alden, Percy Guest, Major Hon. C. H. C. (Pembroke) O'Grady, James
Allen, Arthur Acland (Dumbartonshire) Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway) O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)
Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry Hackett, John O'Malley, William
Atherley-Jones, Llewellyn A. Hancock, John George O'Shaughnessy, P. J.
Baker, Harold T. (Accrington) Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale) O'Shee, James John
Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.) Harmsworth, R. Leicester O'Sullivan, Timothy
Balfour, Sir Robert Lanark Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West) Palmer, Godfrey Mark
Barnes, George N. Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.) Parker, James (Halifax)
Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick, B) Haslam, James (Derbyshire) Pearce, Robert (Staffs., Leek)
Barran, Rowland Hirst (Leeds, N.) Haworth, Arthur A. Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)
Barton, William Hayden, John Patrick Phillips, John (Longford, S.)
Beck, Arthur Cecil Hayward, Evan Pickersgill, Edward Hare
Benn, W. (T. Hamlets, St. George) Helme, Norval Watson Pirie, Duncan V.
Bentham, George Jackson Henry, Sir Charles S. Pointer, Joseph
Bethell, Sir John Henry Higham, John Sharp Pollard, Sir George H.
Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H. Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.
Black, Arthur W. Holt, Richard Durning Power, Patrick Joseph
Boland, John Pius Hughes, S. L. Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)
Booth, Frederick Handel Hunter, William (Lanark, Govan) Priestley, Sir Arthur (Grantham)
Bowerman, Charles W. Johnson, William Primrose, Hon. Neil James
Boyle, D. (Mayo, N.) Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil) Radford, George Heynes
Brace, William Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Raffan, Peter Wilson
Brigg, Sir John Jones, William (Carnarvonshire) Raphael, Sir Herbert H.
Brocklehurst, William B. Jones, W. S. Glyn- (T. H'mts., Stepney) Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)
Brunner, John F. L. Jowett, Frederick William Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)
Burke, E. Haviland- Joyce, Michael Reddy, Michael
Burns, Rt. Hon. John Keating, Matthew Redmond, John E. (Waterford)
Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas Kellaway, Frederick George Richardson, Albion (Peckham)
Buxton, Rt. Hon. S. C. (Poplar) Kelly, Edward Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)
Byles, William Pollard Kilbride, Denis Roberts, George H. (Norwich)
Carr-Gomm, H. W. Lambert, George (Devon, S. Molton) Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)
Cawley, Harold T. (Heywood) Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade) Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S. Lansbury, George Roe, Sir Thomas
Clough, William Lardner, James Carrige Rushe Rowntree, Arnold
Clynes, John R. Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West) Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter
Collins, G. P. (Greenock) Levy, Sir Maurice Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)
Collins, Stephen (Lambeth) Lewis, John Herbert Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)
Compton-Rickett, Right Hon. Sir J. Logan, John William Scanlan, Thomas
Condon, Thomas Joseph Low, Sir F. (Norwich) Schwann, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles E.
Cornwall, Sir Edwin A. Lundon, Thomas Seely, Col. Rt. Hon. J. E. B.
Cowan, W. H. Lyell, Charles Henry Sheehy, David
Crawshay, Williams, Eliot Lynch, Arthur Alfred Shortt, Edward
Crooks, William Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester) Simon, Sir John Allsebrook
Crumley, Patrick Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs) Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)
Cullinan, John Maclean, Donald Snowden, Philip
Dalziel, Sir James H. (Kirkcaldy) Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J. Spicer, Sir Albert
Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth) M'Laren, H. D. (Leices., Bosworth) Stanley, Albert (Staffs. NW.)
Dawes, James Arthur M'Micking, Major Gilbert Summers, James Woolley
Delany, William Manfield, Harry Sutton, John E.
Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas Marks, George Croydon Taylor, John W. (Durham)
Dewar, Sir J. A. (Inverness-shire) Marshall, Arthur Harold Tennant, Harold John
Dillon, John Martin, Joseph Thomas, James Henry (Derby)
Doris, William Mason, David M. (Coventry) Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)
Duffy, William J. Meagher, Michael Toulmin, George
Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness) Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.) Trevelyan, Charles Philips
Edwards, Enoch (Hanley) Meehan, Patrick A. (Queen's County) Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander
Elibank, Rt. Hon. Master of Menzies, Sir Walter Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)
Elverston, Harold Millar, James Duncan Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)
Esmonds, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.) Molloy, Michael Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)
Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.) Money, L. G. Chiozza Wardle, George J.
Essex, Richard Walter Mooney, John J. Waring, Walter
Esslemont, George Birnie Morgan, George Hay Wason, John Cathcart
Falconer, James Morrell, Philip Webb, H.
Fenwick, Charles Morton, Alpheus Cleophas White, Sir Luke (Yorks, E. R.)
Ferens, Thomas Robinson Murray, Capt Hon. Arthur C. Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.
Ffrench, Peter Nolan, Joseph Whyte, A. F.
Wiles, Thomas Wilson, J. W. (Worcestershire, N.) Young, William (Perth, East)
Wilkie, Alexander Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)
Wilson, H. J. (York, W. R.) Wood, T. M'Kinnon (Glasgow) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr.
Wilson, John (Durham, Mid) Young, Samuel (Cavan, East) Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.

I beg to move, after the word "If" ["If any Bill other than a Money Bill"] to insert the words "within three years after the passing of this Act."

This Amendment is in exactly the same terms as an Amendment which I proposed on Clause 1, but there is an entire difference between the two. I agreed largely with the statement of the Home Secretary on that occasion that, Clause 1 being purely financial and there being a good deal of common ground between the two sides, it seemed unnecessary to limit the Clause in the way proposed. With that I agreed so far as pure finance was being dealt with; but in this Clause the case is very different, and the Amendment is a really serious and important one. The Government have given a pledge of some sort in the Preamble that they will at some future time reform the Second Chamber. This Amendment is intended to speed up the time at which that reform will take place. At present there is no definite pledge of any sort or kind. There is a shadowy statement in the Preamble, but if you try to construe it into anything concrete you are generally met by one of those cryptic utterances of the Prime Minister, or the plain, straightforward uncomfortable assurance of the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir H. Dalziel) that the Preamble is only a pious opinion. The difference between the two sides on this Clause is very acute. The Clause seeks to abolish entirely the Veto of the House of Lords, and it places in no other hands any suspensory power. It is perfecely true that there is the Preamble, but I very much doubt whether we shall see the Preamble carried into effect unless we can insert some limitations of the kind I am proposing. The hon. Member for Kirkcaldy, who has a habit of letting the cat out of the bag, in which he largely resembles the Lord Advocate, said, when we dealt with this Amendment on Clause 1: It is true there is a Preamble, but that is a pious opinion. It says 'hereafter.' I have always understood that 'hereafter' is a long way off. No responsible Minister has suggested that we are to have a reform scheme in the present Parliament. The Prime Minister, discussing the same Amendment, said:— As and when the opportunity arises the Government regard themselves bound not only in honour but by the spirit and letter of their pledges to give effect to the Preamble. "As and when" is one of those cryptic "wait and see" utterances which are the Prime Minister's stock-in-trade in cases of this sort, which may be very satisfactory to the Government, but are extremely unsatisfactory to everybody on this side and to a large number of people outside the House. The Committee and the country are entitled to something a little better and more precise than that. They are entitled to know whether the Government have any plan at all, and, if so, when they are likely to submit it to the consideration of the House. It is with a view, if possible, of getting some declaration upon that question that I move this Amendment. It is entirely different from the last Amendment. It deals with another point altogether. I trust that the Government since they have on their own initiative said that the House of Lords must be reformed and put on a popular footing, will give us some sort of idea as to when it will be placed on that popular footing, and given the fresh powers which I assume that this Second Chamber is likely to receive—unless, indeed, it is to be, in the case of Clause 2, as the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy said on Clause 1, absolutely debarred from exercising any further powers than the emasculated House of Lords is in their interregnum to be permitted by the present Government. The powers of the House of Lords are being taken away now on the ground that that Assembly is unfitted to exercise them properly. Apparently, the Government intend, if they can, to withhold those powers from any new Second Chamber that may be set up.

I think it is not at all unreasonable to ask, before we proceed with the discussion of the very important Amendments which are bound to be considered on this Clause, that the Committee should have some better indication than has yet been given as to what the future has in store for us in the way of a reformed Second Chamber. How long does the Prime Minister think his mandate is going to run? How many measures does he assume he is entitled to pass on the strength of the majority given, not to him, but to the coalition, at the last General Election? The Prime Minister is in the unfortunate position of not even being at the head of the largest party in this House, and of holding his power, not at the hands of an independent party, but at the hands of a combination of three parties. Therefore, as we all know, and as I believe the Home Secretary himself will admit, that this Bill is a means to an end, the country is surely entitled to know how long the autocratic tyranny of the present House of Commons is to last, and when we may hope to have an opportunity given to the country to say who shall exercise power in the future. The Amendment gives the Government three years in which to crystallise their Preamble into law. No one can say that is too short a time for the purpose. Everyone on this side will agree that it is rather too long, and that, if possible, it should be shortened. The Leader of the Opposition in speaking on this Amendment on the last occasion asked how long the Government required to fulfil a pledge of honour; if three years was not enough, would four or five do; and then he added—I was rather sorry to hear it—that any date short of the Day of Judgment would be better than the Bill. That is looking a long way ahead: it is very near "hereafter," according to the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy. I earnestly hope it foreshadows a longer period than hon. Members opposite are likely to occupy those benches. I trust we shall get from the Government some satisfactory reply to the Amendment which I now beg to move.

The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. Churchill)

Although when this question was raised on Clause 1 speakers on the Government side deprecated a long discussion being raised, our appeals were not so fortunate as to find favour with hon. Members opposite. A long discussion took place in which various speeches were made from the Treasury Bench, and after three or four hours' debate the question was settled by a division.


The discussion was prolonged by a speech from the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy.


At any rate, there was a prolonged discussion on the matter. I quite agree that it was not on the same point, because Clause 1 deals only with finance, and we were able to give an overwhelming answer to any attempt to interfere with the rights of the House of Commons in matters of finance. But the case is quite strong and good as against the present Amendment. The hon. Gentleman asks us to say that this Bill shall last only three years, and that it shall lapse at the end of that period, his object being to give us three years in which to bring a reformed and reconstituted Second Chamber into existence. We have no intention in accepting any such temporal limitation, which might conceivably plunge us into the gravest inconvenience. We do not intend, after going through the whole laborious process of carrying this important constitutional change, to run any risk of the results of the last eighteen months' fierce fighting throughout the country being filched from our grasp. There must in the course of these proceedings be a Debate on the Preamble, and then I quite agree there must be a more detailed statement than has yet been made in regard to the general position of the Government on the Preamble. I agree that that must be thoroughly debated across the floor of the House. I do not propose at all, in answer to this Amendment, to go into that matter. I am not sure that the hon. Gentleman, who is a very shrewd politician, in demanding that the House of Lords should be reconstituted within the next three years, is really indicating a course which is in the general interest of his own party. I should have thought that, from their point of view if the House of Lords is to be reconstituted, it would be much better that it should be done when, as they would put it, the powers of evil were less strong than they are at present, and when the reconstitution might be made on Conservative and not on Liberal lines. Therefore I do not think that they lose anything by our not accepting this Amendment. As to what will happen if the Amendment is not accepted, the awful state of things will continue under the Parliament Bill in which a Liberal Government will be in exactly the same position as Unionist Governments are always in, namely, that being possessed of a parliamentary majority of the elected representatives in this House, they will actually be able to carry their measures into law in the lifetime of the Parliament in which they are introduced.


The Committee will be very glad to know from the Home Secretary what precise meaning he attaches o the word "temporal."


I am afraid I used an awkward word. I meant any time limit.


I thought the word "temporal" was advisedly chosen as projecting the reform of the House of Lords into a future which might be very dim and very distant. The Government are always talking about their mandate from the country for this Bill, but if they have such a mandate it is a mandate for the Preamble as well as for the Bill itself. Nothing can be more explicit than the Preamble in its statement that this measure is merely provisional, that the Government intends to reconstitute the House of Lords upon a popular basis, that when that is done provision will have to be made for regulating the relations between the two Houses, but that in the meantime it is desirable to make the provision contained in this Bill. Well, do you mean that or not? This Amendment is a very good touchstone of the sincerity of the Government in regard to the Preamble. The Home Secretary has said that we shall have time for a full Debate upon the Preamble. I was very glad indeed to hear that from the Home Secretary. That Debate will be an interesting and instructive one. There was one feature in the Home Secretary's speech that I could not regard with the same satisfaction. It was this He referred to the question of the period when the reform and reconstitution of the House of Lords would be dealt with as if it were a question to be looked at merely from a party point of view. I do not think that is the true point of view. He said: "Is it not much better for you that this question should be dealt with after three years have expired?" The Home Secretary-seems disposed to intimate that it is just possible that he might no longer occupy the responsible position he now holds.


I was offering consolation to the hon. Gentleman because I could not accept his Amendment.


What was the reason the Home Secretary gave? You may, he said, have to deal with that question; it may be in the hands of the Unionist party. Whereas, he intimated, in his expectation during the next three years it would be in the hands of the party which he adorns. I say that is not the point of view on which the question of the reconstitution of the Second Chamber ought to be approached. It is a great national question which ought not to be dealt with merely from the point of view of party. The Home Secretary said that he and his friends were able to give conclusive arguments against the adoption of a time-limit with regard to Clause 1. I do not admit that we were vanquished by strength of argument. I may be partial, but I think on the whole we had very much the better of the argument. We were beaten by those who voted and did not speak. I do most respectfully put it to the Committee and the Government that it is a right thing that we ought to have some words in this Clause which will give some reality to the statements contained in the Preamble. Those statements seem on the face of them explicit enough. But such speeches as the Home Secretary has made on this occasion, and on other occasions, have somewhat extinguished their effects.

In proposing this Amendment we are endeavouring to fix the Government to something definite. It is no use speaking to the Home Secretary to see whether he will take five or seven or ten years. He will take no limit whatever. I am afraid that is because he means, if he remains in power for a very long period of years, that there shall be no reform whatever of the House of Lords. I venture to say that it is not right to get support in the country; it is not right to reconcile differences in the Cabinet, by putting in a Preamble which you do not honestly intend to carry out. I hope that this Amendment will be pressed to a Division, and I certainly shall have great pleasure in voting for it. The First Clause was important, and I wish we had introduced it in regard to the First Clause. Important as the First Clause was the Second Clause is infinitely more important. It goes to the very root of legislation which will affect everything that is valuable in our institutions, and I certainly think that the Committee bas reason to be grateful to my hon. Friend for again bringing this proposal forward.


Of all the Bills that have ever been before this House I should imagine there is none which raised upon the Committee stage a greater number of more important points than is raised by the present discussion on the Second Clause of this Bill. And of all the points there is not one more important than that which is raised by the Amendment of my hon. Friend. This point is raised now for the second time. Each time it has been raised the attitude of the Government towards it—and it is an absolutely fundamental point, and one recognised as fundamental in the country—seems to be more mysterious and more unsatisfactory than before. When it comes up on Clause 1 we are told to wait for Clause 2. When it comes up on Clause 2 the Home Secretary says wait till we get the Preamble, and we will tell you all about it.


I never said that.


Well, perhaps that is a mistake; but, at any rate, we were told to wait until this, and what we have been told now is not satisfactory. We are sensible men, but in face of the conspiracy of silence which exists on the other side we cannot but be disagreeably sensible of the fact that what we say here will have no immediate and practical effect in the Division Lobby. But there are, no doubt, people outside this House to whom we may speak. They follow these Debates. They, I venture to say, have fixed their minds upon the point which this Amendment raises. The man in the street knows very little, and cares very little, about the many details, important as they are, of this Bill. But the question of the Reform of the House of Lords is one in which he is interested. What in that respect is going to be undertaken, and when it is going to be undertaken, are matters which raise a great interest outside. People outside realise that this Bill is, as it shows upon its face, a provisional and temporary measure. It has to go down upon the Statute Book as a provisional and temporary measure—not a permanent Bill. It does not profess to be a permanent Bill. It is not so framed, and the intention of the Government is that it shall be passed as a stop-gap and until we can get something better.

That intention is recorded in language of the greatest gravity both across the threshold and upon the very forefront of this Bill. The Government start with it in the Preamble. They say, "it is our intention to bring in a Bill to reconstitute to re-empower, and to relate this House to the new reformed Upper Chamber." That is their intention. It is more solemn, it is more precise, than any speech or Ministerial pronouncement in this House, because it is to go upon the Statute Book of the Realm. More than that, it was referred to by the Prime Minister when this matter came up on the First Clause. I think I am quoting his exact words that this matter was "recognised by the Government as an obligation of honour." I imagine when the Prime Minister used those words he was speaking of what was recognised by the Liberal party as an obligation of honour. We have heard some sounding phrases from the hon. Gentleman the Member for Kirkcaldy. All I can say is that if the Prime Minister—


The Debate is taking almost the same general course as on the first Clause, and we have settled this matter as regards that Clause. It is in order to raise a similar Debate on this Clause because the considerations are different, but I do think hon. Members who take part in it ought to apply themselves to the consideration of the effect of this Amendment in regard to the terms of this Clause, and not speak upon the general question, which was debated at great length on the first Clause.


I will endeavour to follow your ruling, Mr. Emmott. Honestly, I am not sure that it is possible. I will endeavour not to offend, and if I cannot further address the Committee without transgressing your ruling I shall not attempt to go further. But, upon my word, I doubt whether it is really possible to discuss this all-important matter, a matter about which we feel most strongly, if we are to confine ourselves to distinctions between Money and non-Money Bills. What I am asking the Committee to consider is this: When a thing is stated to be recognised as an obligation of honour, I take it that that means that it is a thing which must be done at the first possible opportunity. There is no member of this Committee who would not agree that if a man is under an obligation of honour to do a thing and has the opportunity to do it, and leaves it undone that his title to be called a man of honour—


This is really continuing the old Debate. If it is impossible to differentiate the discussion on the Amendment to this Clause from the discussion on the last Clause, then clearly I ought not to allow the discussion to go on.


I am sorry that, within those limits, I find it is impossible to go on.


I desire to say a few words on behalf of myself and my Friends in regard to this Amendment. I understand that this Amendment is based upon the principle that if it is intended to smuggle this Clause through, it is better that mischief should be done for three years rather than for all time. I am afraid that three years gives the Government an opportunity of smuggling through this House, under cover of this Bill, at least one measure, that is the Licensing Bill, that requires the fullest consideration. Therefore, it is with some trepidation, and with much respect to your ruling, that I shall vote for permission to the Government to put this Clause into operation for three years. One hon. Gentleman said that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Kirkcaldy had "let the cat out of the bag." He has much greater control over the Parliamentary bag than I possess, but it is in reference to the speech of the Home Secretary that I am going to venture also to let one cat out of the bag. The Home Secretary said that the effect of this Clause, if unamended, would be to put the Liberal party and the Liberal Government on an equality with the Unionists. The worst result, he said, that would happen would be that Liberal measures, approved by vast majorities, would actually pass into law. If that were the only effect I should be alarmed. But the cat I wish to let out of the bag is this: That this measure is never going to pass the House of Lords in its present form, and, consequently, the only way in which it will become law is by a process which I cannot elaborate now, but by which the Liberal party will obtain an automatic majority in the other House. Consequently the effect of this Rill, if this Clause is unamended, will be, not that the Liberal party will be on an equality, but will have an automatic majority in the other House, and will continue to have a majority in the other House, and therefore we will have set up Single-Chamber Government. Until the Unionist Government comes into power and creates more puppet peers this Clause must have the effect of making the Liberal party absolutely supreme in the councils of the nation—


I do not see how that matter affects this Amendment.


Of course, I am in the same difficulty as the hon. and learned Gentleman.


Upon a point of Order, I most respectfully submit the Preamble applies to the whole Bill. When we discussed the three years' limit with reference to Clause 1 we were confined to dealing with it as an effective financial Clause. We have now come to a Clause which deals with all Bills other than Money Bills, including, of course, it may be, Bills of the utmost possible gravity. I most respectfully contend that discussion is impossible without adverting to the general aspect, of course as applied to the very important class of Bills with which this Clause deals.


We do not deal with the question, settle it, and then deal with it again. If it is a matter which cannot be dealt with except as affecting the whole Bill, it ought to be kept for a new clause. The matter was dealt with at very great length on Clause 1, and now it is being dealt with again on this question. An Amendment can be proposed, and has been proposed; but I think the argument ought to be confined to its application to this Clause, and not to the Bill in general. After all, the Preamble must be discussed at a later stage.


The last intention in the world I have, Mr. Emmott, is to appear even to dispute any ruling that comes from the Chair. I recognise, as we all do, the absolute impartiality and strength of the conduct of the Chair, in what has been, and also is likely to be, a very difficult Debate. I should be the last person to try to argue with the Chair, but I am bound, with the very greatest possible respect, to point out the very great difficult position in which the Opposition finds itself. The position is this. The result of your ruling, I understand, to be that we are forbidden to discuss in this Debate upon Clause 2 questions which, although they have been raised and discussed on Clause 1, arise in a totally different way, and affect a totally different range of questions on this Clause. Clause 1 deals with purely financial questions. The Clause we are now discussing covers a very much wider area than Clause 1, and, although it raises and compels those opposing the Bill to advance the same arguments, they are advanced in respect to totally different questions of a very much wider character and possibly of even greater importance. It seems, at all events, we should be allowed to introduce the effect of the Preamble upon this part of the Bill, which differs entirely from Clause 1, on which a Debate already has taken place and a decision arrived at. I understand from your ruling that any such argument is forbidden, and that we must raise such questions in the form of a new Clause to be taken at a later stage of the Bill. Well, of course, if that is the position, while we have your advice as to the way in which we might raise the matter, we have no security at all that we shall have an opportunity of presenting the new Clause or of securing a Debate upon it. For my part, I cannot but regret in a matter of this very great importance that the Debate should be curtailed by a ruling which I do not for a moment dispute, but which I must regret.


The right hon. Gentleman has misunderstood my ruling or else I was very unfortunate in explaining it to the Committee. The Debate really is being conducted on the Preamble, and on the question whether the reform promised in the Preamble will take place. It would be quite in order to argue that the Amendment on this Clause is necessary owing to the measures which are pre-posed to be dealt with when this Clause comes into operation. It would be quite in order to argue in that way, but that is not what has been done. A Debate has been carried on practically on the Preamble, and the question has been asked over and over again, "Are you going to bring reform into operation." That question was asked and answered upon the first Clause, and I do not think that that part of the Debate ought to be renewed.


When this interesting point of Order arose, and I unfortunately brought your displeasure upon myself, Mr. Emmott, I was endeavouring to reply to the Home Secretary in regard to a certain state of things, and I venture to assume that when you permitted him to state to the House what would be the effect of allowing the Clause to remain unamended, it might be reasonable for me to add some reasons for differing from him. However, I do not press that now. The Home Secretary under no circumstances will accept the time limit for the introduction of the reform of the House of Lords. I respectfully refer him to the tenets of His Majesty's Speech from the Throne last year, in which reform of the House of Lords is stated to be contemporaneous, if not almost anterior, to the Veto. I want to know why the Government altered their intentions, and I venture to reply by saying the answer is they know reform of the House of Lords cannot be carried.


The way the Home Secretary treated the Amendment is characteristic, and indicates the part he has assigned for himself in the course of these Debates. When the Prime Minister speaks we have a magnificent display of constitutional profundity. He is vir pietate gravis. However bad the case he is arguing, he throws the constitutional halo over it. The Home Secretary plays a different part. He comes before the Committee as a prancing partisan. He says we have fought for eighteen months and we do not mean to have anything filched from us. He says to us on this side of the House, "You will have your turn one of these days and you can use it when you get it." That tone is characteristic of his speeches, but that is not the way that questions of this sort ought to be discussed. What we are now asking by this Amendment is that the Government will make good something that they have solemnly promised to do. We want to apply to their constitutional proposals a very ordinary principle of business.

We see private Bills promoted sometimes which seek to acquire exceptional powers, and we see in such circumstances a time limit constantly imposed upon them so that these powers shall lapse if not used for the purpose for which ostensibly they were sought. In Railway Bills you have the powers sought for acquiring land, but there is constantly a time limit put in, and the promoters of the Bill are told "Unless you carry out your design under the Bill this power shall lapse in a certain period." I have instances in my mind where I have known these powers to lapse. It is a common recognised business principle, and it is a safeguard used against the grant of exceptional powers if no serious intention of carrying out what is asked for is shown. We now ask for certain specific time limit in order that a new Second Chamber may be created which would work more harmoniously with this Chamber. That was stated in black and white, and we ask the Government now, "Do you mean to carry out your promise?" We ask them, are they honest? and surely if they are they could carry out in three years what they stated. There is a great difference in arguing these questions on Clause 1 and Clause 2, because ex hypothesi the first Clause carries out the existing law according to the Government's view. We deny it, but the second Clause is a revolutionary change, and for what? In order that a Second Chamber may be constituted so as to make it work harmoniously with this. We say to the Government, give us some earnest that you really mean what you say. If you have the will of the people behind you, as you say you have, then give us some assurance that you are going to carry out what you promised.


It seems to me that the Parliament Bill, as we are now discussing it, is on the face of it a temporary Bill, and therefore we ask the Government to lay down a specific time as to how long this temporary arrangement should last. It seems to me that as soon as the Second Chamber is constituted the Parliament Bill as we are now discussing it, will vanish, because it must follow that the new Second Chamber must have different authority and power to the one referred to in this Bill. Therefore it is only natural that we should try to induce the Government to name a time or to give us some idea when a limit is to be put to this temporary arrangement, or to say how long it is to continue. I think all of us were amused last week, when we got our copy of "Punch," to see there a picture which deals with the points raised in this Amendment in a very farcical way. There we have the picture of a right hon. Gentleman between the shafts of a cart, and saying to another right hon. Gentleman he is willing to do anything in reason, but he will not put the horse before the cart. What we ask the Government is, "How long will the right hon. Gentleman stay in the shafts and drag the cart, or what day will he be willing to say that the horse shall take his right place?


This Amendment appears to me to be a direct test of the sincerity of the Government. We have been told over and over again by an authoritative spokesman of the Government, that this Bill is a mere temporary expedient, and cannot possibly be a settlement, and we ask them now to place some limit upon this temporary expedient. May I remind the Prime Minister of his own words in regard to this matter spoken in this House on 29th March last year upon the Resolutions upon which this Bill is founded. He said:— I do not put forward the Resolution…as a final or an adequate solution of the problem with which we have to deal.…The problem calls for a complete settlement, and in our opinion that settlement does not brook delay. Well, now, if it does not brook delay, why are we delaying it? Is not three years long enough?


This is really debating the general question again. The hon. Member must stick to the Amendment as affecting this Clause. He is talking about the whole Bill, and raising a question which ought to be raised upon the Preamble. He must argue upon the Amendment as applied to this Clause, or he will not be in order.


I shall endeavour, Mr. Emmott, to abide by your ruling. I say this Clause is a revolutionary procedure, but, admittedly, a temporary one. The question is, when is this revolution going to cease, and how long is it to last? We said three years is long enough. The Prime Minister says the complete settlement must come at once, and therefore I appeal to the Prime Minister to say if three years is too short, can he name a period in which you would carry out this complete settlement. In other words, will he say that the revolution affected by this Clause shall only last, say, for four years? Why should the country be put to the uncertainty as to whether this so-called temporary expedient is to last for ever? If the Government is sincere, I put it to them, now is the time that they should give evidence of their sincerity by putting some time limit upon the extraordinary and unprecedented procedure imposed by this Clause.

6.0 P.M.


This Amendment has a very different significance when applied to this Clause as compared with its significance as applied to Clause 1. We have been told again and again that Clause 1 did no more than put into statutory form rights which this House always had a right to exercise, and simply established the constitutional rights of the House of Commons. This Clause assumes absolutely new powers, and it establishes for all purposes of legislation a Single Chamber Government. We have to bear in mind the Preamble, and it is impossible to look at this Clause without reference to the Preamble, because it tells us that after all enormous as are the powers of Clause 2, this measure is avowedly only temporary, and these powers are to be reconsidered at some future time when the House of Lords has to be reconstituted. This Amendment will secure that at the end of three years you should either have carried out your undertaking stated in the Preamble to reform the House of Lords and define the relations between the two Houses, or else you must relapse into the present condition of things. The other alternative is that you must go to the country and ask the electors to renew your mandate and confer upon you powers which have been conferred upon the Government in this House by the result of the last General Election. I dispute the statement of the Home Secretary that this Bill represents the mandate of the electors after eighteen months of incessant conflict. That conflict, so far as the electors were concerned, was confined to an extremely short compass, so short that I have great doubts whether they really understood the nature of the Bill which we are told hon. Members opposite were returned to pass into law. The Veto resolutions were only discussed for a fortnight last year, and although the Parliament Bill was printed, it was never discussed.

The lamentable death of our late King silenced all constitutional discussion for a while. Then the Conference silenced discussion for a further time, and everybody supposed that the Parliament Bill was not the last word of the Government, and that some change would be made in the proposals put before Parliament and the country by the Government. But directly the Conference broke down the Government went to the country with their proposals, and there was no time to formulate, in such a way that the country could understand them, any other proposals. The consequence was that the electors voted in a somewhat puzzled condition as to what the election was all about, and they hardly understood why they were asked to reconsider the decision arrived at in the previous January so soon. Now we are told that the verdict of the last election is the result of eighteen months of incessant conflict over the Parliament Bill, that the electors have pronounced decisively in its favour, and that the Government are to be absolved from the undertaking in the Preamble. You are now asking the Government to spend a part of those three years in considering how they will carry out the mandate of the electors in respect of the Preamble. The Government can do a great deal in those three years, and surely we are not asking them to concede very much. They can carry Home Rule, Disestablishment, and various other measures which the various sections of their miscellaneous followers have at heart. All we are asking them to do is at the end of three years, if they have not done what they undertook to do at the General Election—namely, define satisfactorily to both parties the relations of the two Houses and reconstitute the House of Lords, they should either drop the powers they are now asking for, or ask the country to renew them. That is a reasonable proposition. I think it would be well to enforce upon the Government the truth that a Constitution such as ours, which is not merely an ancient but an Imperial Constitution, which touches the great Dominions as well as our own country, cannot be dealt with as a mere pawn in a party game, as the Home Secretary would deal with it. I think it would be a good thing if these three years were spent by the Government in profitable meditation as to how to meet the admitted difficulties in our Constitution, and how to define the relations between the two Houses, and reconstitute the Second Chamber in a way which would be permanent and satisfactory, and in a way which would not lead to a reversal of our constitutional policy whenever there was a change of Government. For these reasons I think this Amendment should be acceptable to the Government, as I feel certain it would be acceptable to the country.


The supporters of this Amendment insist upon the view that if the Government really mean to reform the House of Lords they ought to accept this Amendment. But apart from that argument there are the strongest reasons why this Amendment should be accepted. You are trying in this Clause a great experiment, the most momentous experiment which has been proposed for the last 200 or 250 years. There is not the least exaggeration in that statement. You are suspending the Constitution, and trying a great experiment. What I suggest is that you should adopt this experiment for a limited time, and see if it brings about the results which you expect or whether your proposal is not something which is subject to the observations and criticisms which we have put forward. The Constitution was suspended once before. The Long Parliament did that, then they abolished the House of Lords, but the experiment did not last for more than four or five years. It is quite true there was no time-limit in the Bill, for it was done by a Resolution in those days; but, in spite of that the experiment did not last. The House of Commons took upon itself all the powers of the Legislature, all the powers of the Executive and, to some extent, the powers of the judges; but within five years the country would have no more of it, and the new House of Commons, elected in the year 1659, abolished the whole thing and restored the Second Chamber with its full powers. If the country tried that experiment 250 years ago, without any time limit, and found it necessary that a limit should be imposed, why are we not entitiled to say that you should try this experiment yourselves for a limited time only, say for three, four or five years, and let the country judge as to the result.

This is the most vital change which has been proposed for generations, and it ought not to be made a permanent change. There ought to be a chance of reconsideration, after the country has seen what measures are passed under this Bill, and then the country would be able to judge whether those measures are wise or not. But, quite apart from that, I want to say that really hon. Gentlemen opposite might be satisfied to try this experiment for a period of three years. We know what the main purpose of this Bill is. It is to pass Home Rule. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no."] If you pass this Amendment you can pass Home Rule within three years, and then your work will be done. When you have carried out that purpose, which I may not call a bargain, you will have paid the price and then let us go back to the normal state of things and amend the Constitution in a reasonable and a proper way. I quite

agree that the verdict of the last election showed that the country was not satisfied with matters as they are. I think we have all frankly accepted that view and no one has accepted it in a more pronounced way than the other place. The House of Lords has passed a very strong series of resolutions dealing both with the constitution of the other place and with the relations of the two Houses, and it is frankly accepted on this side of the House that a change is necessary. I do not, however, think that the country is prepared for this particular change, and that is why I should like to see this Amendment passed, so that the measure may be recognised as being only an experiment. It we do not insert this Amendment I think we shall find that a grave mistake has been made.

The PRIME MINISTER rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put."

Question put, "That the Question be now put."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 237; Noes, 145.

Division No. 159.] AYES. [6.15 p.m.
Abraham, William (Dublin Harbour) Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S. Hackett, John
Abraham, Rt. Hon. William (Rhondda) Clancy, John Joseph Hancock, John George
Acland, Francis Dyke Clough, William Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale)
Addison, Dr. Christopher Clynes, John R Harmsworth, R. Leicester
Adkins, W. Ryland D. Collins, Godfrey P. (Greenock) Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West)
Agnew, Sir George William Collins, Stephen (Lambeth) Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.)
Alden, Percy Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J. Haslam, James (Derbyshire)
Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbarton) Condon, Thomas Joseph Haworth, Arthur A.
Allen, Charles Peter (Stroud) Cornwall, Sir Edwin A. Hayden, John Patrick
Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry Cowan, W. H. Hayward, Evan
Atherley-Jones, Llewellyn A. Crawshay-Williams, Eliot Helme, Norval Watson
Baker, H. T. (Accrington) Crooks, William Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)
Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.) Crumley, Patrick Henry, Sir Charles S.
Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark) Cullinan, John Higham, John Sharp
Barnes, George N. Dalziel, Sir James H. (Kirkcaldy) Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.
Barran, Sir J. N. (Hawick) Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth) Holt, Richard Durning
Barran, Rowland Hirst (Leeds, N.) Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.) Hughes, Spencer Leigh
Barton, William Dawes, James Arthur Hunter, William (Lanark, Govan)
Beauchamp, Edward Delany, William Isaacs, Sir Rufus Daniel
Beck, Arthur Cecil Denman, Hon. R. D. Johnson, William
Benn, W. W. (Tower Hamlets, S. Geo.) Dewar, Sir J. A. Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)
Bentham, G. J Dillon, John Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)
Bethell, Sir John Henry Doris, William Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)
Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine Duffy, William J. Jones, W. S. Glyn- (T. H'mts, Stepney)
Black, Arthur W. Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness) Jowett, Frederick William
Boland, John Pius Edwards, Enoch (Hanley) Joyce, Michael
Booth, Frederick Handel Elibank, Rt. Hon. Master of Keating, Matthew
Bowerman, Charles W. Elverston, Harold Kellaway, Frederick George
Boyle, D. (Mayo, N.) Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.) Kelly, Edward
Brace, William Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.) Kilbride, Denis
Brigg, Sir John Essex, Richard Walter Lamb, Ernest Henry
Brocklehurst, William B. Esslemont, George Birnie Lambert, George (Devon, S. Molton)
Brunner, John F. L. Falconer, James Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)
Burke, E. Haviland- Fenwick, Charles Lansbury, George
Burns, Rt. Hon. John Ferens, Thomas Robinson Lardner, James Carrige Rushe
Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas Ffrench, Peter Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)
Buxton, Rt. Hon. S. C. (Poplar) Fitzgibbon, John Levy, Sir Maurice
Byles, William Pollard Flavin, Michael Joseph Lewis, John Herbert
Carr-Gomm, H. W. Gill, Alfred Henry Logan, John William
Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich) Glanville, Harold James Low, Sir Frederick (Norwich)
Cawley, H. T. (Lancs., Heywood) Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford Lundon, Thomas
Chancellor, Henry George Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway) Lyell, C. H.
Lynch, Arthur Alfred O'Sullivan, Timothy Sheehy, David
Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester) Palmer, Godfrey Mark Shortt, Edward
Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs) Parker, James Halifax Simon, Sir John Allsebrook
Maclean, Donald Pearce, Robert (Staffs., Leek) Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)
Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J. Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham) Snowden, Philip
M'Laren, H. D. (Leicester) Phillips, John (Longford, S.) Spicer, Sir Albert
M'Micking, Major Gilbert Pickersgill, Edward Hare Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N. W.)
Manfield, Harry Pirie, Duncan Vernon Summers, James Woolley
Markham, Arthur Basil Pointer, Joseph Sutton, John E
Marshall, Arthur Harold Pollard, Sir George H. Taylor, John D. (Durham)
Martin, Joseph Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H. Tennant, Harold John
Mason, David M. (Coventry) Power, Patrick Joseph Thomas, J. H. (Derby)
Masterman, C. F. G. Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central) Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)
Meagher, Michael Priestley, Sir A. (Grantham) Toulmin, George
Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.) Primrose, Hon. Neil James Trevelyan, Charles Philips
Meehan, Patrick A. (Queen's Co.) Radford, George Heynes Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander
Menzies, Sir Walter Raffan, Peter Wilson Verney, Sir Harry
Millar, James Duncan Raphael, Sir Herbert H. Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)
Molloy, Michael Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields) Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)
Mooney, John J. Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough) Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)
Morgan, George Hay Reddy, Michael Wardle, George J.
Morrell, Philip Redmond, John E. (Waterford) Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)
Morton, Alpheus Cleophas Redmond, William (Clare, E.) White, Sir Luke (Yorks, E. R.)
Murray, Captain Hon. Arthur C. Richardson, Albion (Peckham) Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.
Nolan, Joseph Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven) Whyte, A. F. (Perth)
Nugent, Sir Walter Richard Roberts, George H. (Norwich) Wiles, Thomas
O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny) Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs.) Wilkie, Alexander
O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.) Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford) Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)
O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool) Robertson, John M. (Tyneside) Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)
O'Doherty, Philip Roe, Sir Thomas Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)
O'Dowd, John Rose, Sir Charles Day Wilson, J. W. (Worcestershire, N.)
Ogden, Fred Rowntree, Arnold Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)
O'Grady, James Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter Wood, T. M'Kinnon (Glasgow)
O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.) Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland) Young, Samuel (Cavan, East)
O'Malley, William Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees) Young, William (Perth, East)
O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.) Scanlan, Thomas
O'Shaughnessy, P. J. Schwann, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles E. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.
O'Shee, James John Seely, Col., Rt. Hon. J. E. B.
Acland-Hood, Rt. Hon. Sir Alex. F. Dalziel, Davison (Brixton) Lewisham, Viscount
Aitken, William Max Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. S. Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)
Anson, Sir William Reynell Dixon, Charles Harvey Long, Rt. Hon. Walter
Anstruther-Gray, Major William Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers- Lonsdale, John Brownlee
Baird, John Lawrence Du Cros, Arthur Philip Lowther, Claude (Cumberland, Eskdale)
Baker, Sir Randolf L. (Dorset, N.) Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M. Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droitwich)
Balcarres, Lord Finlay, Sir Robert Macmaster, Donald
Baldwin, Stanley Fisher, W. Hayes Middlemore, John Throgmorton
Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City, Lond.) Fitzroy, Hon. Edward A. Mildmay, Francis Bingham
Banbury, Sir Frederick George Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas
Banner, John S. Harmood- Fleming, Valentine Newdegate, F. A.
Baring, Captain Hon. Guy Victor Fletcher, John Samuel (Hampstead) Newman, John R. P.
Barnston, Harry Foster, Philip Staveley Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)
Bathurst, C. Wilts, Wilton) Gardner, Ernest Nield, Herbert
Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth) Gastrell, Major W. Houghton Norton-Griffiths, J.
Bennett-Goldney, Francis Gibbs, George Abraham Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William
Bigland, Alfred Gilmour, Captain John Paget, Almeric Hugh
Bird, Alfred Goulding, Edward Alfred Parkes, Ebenezer
Bottomley, Horatio Grant, J. A. Peel, Hon. W. R. W. (Taunton)
Boyle, W. Lewis (Norfolk, Mid) Greene, W. R. Perkins, Walter Frank
Bridgeman, William Clive Gretton, John Ratcliff, R. F.
Bull, Sir William James Guinness, Hon. Walter Edward Remnant, James Farquharson
Burn, Col. C. E. Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne) Rice, Hon. Walter Fitz-Uryan
Butcher, John George Haddock, George Bahr Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)
Campion, W. R. Hamilton, Marquess of (Londonderry) Rolleston, Sir John
Carlile, Edward Hildred Hardy, Laurence Rothschild, Lionel de
Cassel, Felix Harris, Henry Percy Royds, Edmund
Castlereagh, Viscount Henderson, Major H. (Berkshire) Rutherford, John (Lancs., Darwen)
Cator, John Hill, Sir Clement L. (Shrewsbury) Salter, Arthur Clavell
Cautley, Henry Strother Hillier, Dr. Alfred Peter Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)
Cave, George Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy Sanders, Robert Arthur
Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor) Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield) Sandys, G. J. (Somerset, Wells)
Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University) Houston, Robert Paterson Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)
Chaloner, Col. R. G. W. Hume-Williams, Wm. Ellis Stanier, Beville
Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry Hunter, Sir Charles Rodk. (Bath) Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)
Clay, Captain H. H. Spender Kerr-Smiley, Peter Kerr Staveley-Hill, Henry (Staffordshire)
Clive, Captain Percy Archer Kerry, Earl of Steel-Maitland, A. D.
Courthope, George Loyd Kimber, Sir Henry Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)
Craig, Captain James (Down, E.) Kirkwood, John H. M. Sykes, Alan John
Craik, Sir Henry Knight, Captain Eric Ayshford Talbot, Lord Edmund
Crichton-Stuart, Lord Ninian Larmor, Sir J. Terrell, George (Wilts, N. W.)
Cripps, Sir Charles Alfred Law, Andrew Bonar (Bootle, Lancs.) Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)
Dalrymple, Viscount Lawson, Hon. H. (T. H'mts, Mile End) Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Down, N.)
Thynne, Lord Alexander Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid) Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George
Tryon, Captain George Clement Wheler, Granville C. H. Yate, Colonel C. E.
Tullibardine, Marquess of White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport) Younger, George
Valentia, Viscount Wolmer, Viscount
Walker, Col. William Hall Wood, John (Stalybridge) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. H. W. Forster and Mr. Ashley.
Walrond, Hon. Lionel Worthington-Evans, L.
Ward, A. S. (Herts, Watford)

Question put, "That the words, 'within three years after the passing of this Act,' be there inserted."

The Committee divided: Ayes, 148; Noes, 237.

Division No. 160.] AYES. [6.25 p.m.
Acland-Hood, Rt. Hon. Sir Alex. F. Fisher, W. Hayes Newdegate, F. A.
Aitken, William Max Fitzroy, Hon. Edward A. Newman, John R. P.
Anson, Sir William Reynell Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue Nicholson, Wm. G. (Petersfield)
Anstruther-Gray, Major William Fleming, Valentine Nield, Herbert
Ashley, Wilfred W. Fletcher, John Samuel (Hampstead) Norton-Griffiths, J.
Baird, J. L. Forster, Henry William Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William
Baker, Sir Randolf L. (Dorset, N.) Foster, Philip Staveley Paget, Almeric Hugh
Balcarres, Lord Gardner, Ernest Parkes, Ebenezer
Baldwin, Stanley Gastrell, Major W. H. Peel, Hon. W. R. W. (Taunton)
Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City, Lond.) Gibbs, G. A. Perkins, Walter F.
Banbury, Sir Frederick George Gilmour, Captain John Ratcliff, R. F.
Banner, John S. Harmood- Goldsmith, Frank Remnant, James Farquharson
Baring, Captain Hon. G. V. Goulding, Edward Alfred Rice, Hon. W. F.
Barnston, Harry Grant, J. A. Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)
Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton) Greene, W. R. Rolleston, Sir John
Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth) Gretton, John Rothschild, Lionel de
Bennett-Goldney, Francis Guinness, Hon. W. E. Royds, Edmund
Bigland, Alfred Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne) Rutherford, John (Lancs., Darwen)
Bird, A. Haddock, George Bahr Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)
Bottomley, Horatio Hamilton, Marquess of (Londonderry) Sanders, Robert A.
Boyle, W. Lewis (Norfolk, Mid.) Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashford) Sandys, G. J. (Somerset, Wells)
Bridgeman, W. Clive Harris, Henry Percy Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)
Bull, Sir William James Henderson, Major H. (Abingdon) Stanier, Beville
Burn, Colonel, C. R. Hill, Sir Clement L. Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)
Butcher, J. G. Hillier, Dr. Alfred Peter Staveley-Hill. Henry
Campion, W. R. Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy Steel-Maitland, A. D.
Carlile, E. Hildred Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield) Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)
Cassel, Felix Houston, Robert Paterson Sykes, Alan John
Castlereagh, Viscount Hume-Williams, William Ellis Talbot, Lord E.
Cator, John Hunt, Rowland Terrell, G. (Wilts. N. W.)
Cautley, H. S. Hunter, Sir C. R. (Bath) Terrell, H. (Gloucester)
Cave, George Kerr-Smiley, Peter Kerr Thomson, W. Mitchell (Down. North)
Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor) Kerry, Earl of Thynne, Lord A.
Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University) Kimber, Sir Henry Tryon, Capt. George Clement
Chaloner, Colonel R. G. W. Kirkwood, John H. M. Tullibardine, Marquess of
Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry Knight, Captain E. A. Valentia, Viscount
Clay, Captain H. H. Spender Larmor, Sir J. Walker, Col. William Hall
Clive, Percy Archer Law, Andrew Bonar (Bootle, Lancs.) Walrond, Hon. Lionel
Courthope, G. Loyd Lawson, Hon. H. (T. H'm'ts, Mile End) Ward, Arnold S. (Herts, Watford)
Craig, Captain James (Down, E.) Lewisham, Viscount Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid.)
Craik, Sir Henry Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury) Wheler, Granville C. H.
Crichton-Stuart, Lord Ninian Long, Rt. Hon. Walter White Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)
Cripps, Sir Charles Alfred Lonsdale, John Brownlee Wolmer, Viscount
Dalrymple, Viscount Lowther, Claude (Cumberland, Eskdale) Wood, John (Stalybridge)
Dalziel, Davison (Brixton) Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. A. (Hanover Sq.) Worthington Evans, L.
Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott Macmaster, Donald Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George
Dixon, Charles Harvey (Boston) Middlemore, John Throgmorton Yate, Col. C. E.
Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers- Mildmay, Francis Bingham
Du Cros, Arthur Philip Mills, Hon. Chas. Thomas TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Younger and Mr. Salter.
Eyres-Monsell, B. M. Neville, Reginald J. N.
Finlay, Sir Robert
Abraham, William (Dublin Harbour) Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick Burghs) Brigg, Sir John
Abraham, Rt. Hon. William (Rhondda) Barran, Rowland Hirst (Leeds, N.) Brocklehurst, W. B.
Acland, Francis Dyke Barton, W. Brunner, John F. L.
Addison, Dr. Christopher Beauchamp, Edward Burke, E. Haviland-
Adkins, W. Ryland D. Beck, Arthur Cecil Burns, Rt. Hon. John
Agnew, Sir George William Benn, W. W. (T. Hamlets, St. Geo.) Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas
Alden, Percy Bentham G. J. Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney C. (Poplar)
Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbarton) Bethell, Sir J. H. Byles, William Pollard
Allen, Charles Peter (Stroud) Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine Carr-Gomm, H. W.
Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry Black, Arthur W. Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)
Atherley-Jones, Llewellyn A. Boland, John Pius Cawley, Harold T. (Heywood)
Baker, H. T. (Accrington) Booth, Frederick Handel Chancellor, H. G.
Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.) Bowerman, C. W. Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.
Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark) Boyle, D. (Mayo, N.) Clancy, John Joseph
Barnes, George N. Brace, William Clough, William
Clynes, John R. Kellaway, Frederick George Priestley, Sir Arthur (Grantham)
Collins, G. P. (Greenock) Kelly, Edward Primrose, Hon. Neil James
Collins, Stephen (Lambeth) Kilbride, Denis Radford, G. H.
Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J. Lamb, Ernest Henry Raffan, Peter Wilson
Condon, Thomas Joseph Lambert, George (Devon, S. Molton) Raphael, Sir Herbert H.
Cornwall, Sir Edwin A. Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade) Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)
Cowan, W. H. Lansbury, George Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)
Crawshay-Williams, Eliot Lardner, James Carrige Rushe Reddy, M.
Crooks, William Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West) Redmond, John E. (Waterford)
Crumley, Patrick Levy, Sir Maurice Redmond, William (Clare, E.)
Cullinan, J. Lewis, John Herbert Richardson, Albion (Peckham)
Dalziel, Sir James H. (Kirkcaldy) Logan, John William Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)
Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth) Low, Sir Frederick (Norwich) Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)
Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.) Lundon, T. Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)
Dawes, James Arthur Lyell, Charles Henry Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)
Delany, William Lynch, A. A. Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)
Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester) Roe, Sir Thomas
Dewar, Sir J. A. Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs) Rose, Sir Charles Day
Dillon, John Maclean, Donald Rowntree, Arnold
Doris, William Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J. Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter
Duffy, William J. M'Laren, H. D. (Leics.) Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)
Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness) M'Micking, Major Gilbert Samuel, J. (Stockton)
Edwards, Enoch (Hanley) Manfield, Harry Scanlan, Thomas
Elibank, Rt. Hon. Master of Markham, Arthur Basil Schwann, Rt. Hon. Sir C. E.
Elverston, Harold Marshall, Arthur Harold Seely, Col., Right Hon. J. E. B.
Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.) Mason, David M. (Coventry) Sheehy, David
Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.) Masterman, C. F. G. Shortt, Edward
Essex, Richard Walter Meagher, Michael Simon, Sir John Allsebrook
Esslemont, George Birnie Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.) Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)
Falconer, J. Meehan, Patrick A. (Queen's Co.) Snowden, Philip
Fenwick, Charles Menzies, Sir Walter Spicer, Sir Albert
Ferens, T. R. Millar, James Duncan Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N. W.)
Ffrench, Peter Molloy, M. Summers, James Woolley
Fitzgibbon, John Mooney, J. J. Sutton, John E.
Flavin, Michael Joseph Morgan, George Hay Taylor, John W. (Durham)
Gill, A. H. Morrell, Philip Tennant, Harold John
Glanville, H. J. Morton, Alpheus Cleophas Thomas, J. H. (Derby)
Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford Murray, Captain Hon. A. C. Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)
Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway) Nolan, Joseph Toulmin, George
Hackett, J. Nugent, Sir Walter Richard Trevelyan, Charles Philips
Hancock, J. G. O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny) Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander
Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale) O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.) Verney, Sir Harry
Harmsworth, R. Leicester O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool) Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)
Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, W.) O'Doherty, Philip Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)
Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.) O'Dowd, John Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)
Haslam, James (Derbyshire, N. E.) Ogden, Fred Wardle, George J.
Haworth, Arthur A. O'Grady, James Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)
Hayden, John Patrick O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.) White, Sir Luke (York, E. R.)
Hayward, Evan O'Malley, William Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.
Helme, Norval Watson O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.) Whyte, A. F. (Perth)
Henry, Sir Charles O'Shaughnessy, P. J. Wiles, Thomas
Higham, John Sharp O'Shee, James John Wilkie, Alexander
Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H. O'Sullivan, Timothy Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)
Holt, Richard Durning Parker, James (Halifax) Wilson, Henry J. (York, W. R.)
Hughes, S. L. Palmer, Godfrey Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)
Hunter, William (Lanark, Govan) Pearce, Robert (Staffs., Leek) Wilson, J. W. (Worcestershire, N.)
Isaacs, Sir Rufus Daniel Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham) Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)
Johnson, W. Phillips, John (Longford, S) Wood, T. M'Kinnon (Glasgow)
Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil) Pickersgill, Edward Hare Young, Samuel (Cavan, E.)
Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth) Pirie, Duncan V. Young, W. (Perthshire, E.)
Jones, William (Carnarvonshire) Pointer, Joseph
Jones, W. S. Glyn- (T. H'mts., Stepney) Pollard, Sir George H.
Jowett, Frederick William Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr. Illingworth and Mr. Gulland.
Joyce, Michael Power, Patrick Joseph
Keating, Matthew Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)

Bill read a second time, and committed.


The Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for South Hackney (Mr. Bottomley) is really a Second Reading Amendment, and in any case it has been disposed of by the decision already come to.


I beg to move, in Subsection (1), to leave out the words "any Bill other than a Money Bill," and to insert instead thereof the words "a Bill not being either a Money Bill or a Bill to extend the maximum duration of Parliament."

I only propose to move the second of the two Amendments which stand in my name, and I have chosen the more limited one for the reason that the first Amendment also stands in the name of several of my hon. Friends who have more experience in this House, and I do not wish to anticipate the points they may bring forward. This Amendment proposes to exempt from the scope of Clause 2 and from the scope of the new procedure of legislation introduced by this Bill a very limited class of Bills—Bills to extend the duration of Parliament. In that limited form I hope it will commend itself to the Government, and I trust that they will give it very serious consideration. It is necessary for me, in order to bring the attention of the Committee to the importance of the Amendment, to make some few observations. It is a feature I believe unique, or almost unique, in our Constitution that legislation in this country is in one form only—by Act of Parliament. At any rate, that has been the case up to this time. By Act of Parliament any form of legislation may be carried, whether it relates to the most unimportant and trivial matters or whether it be something which strikes at the very root of the Constitution and entirely alters its framework. It can only be done in one way—by Act of Parliament. In other words, Parliament is omnipotent to this extent, that the only limit is that it cannot limit its own omnipotence. That may seem a little paradoxical at first, but it is true that the only thing Parliament cannot do is to make an Act of Parliament irrevocable. It cannot prevent a future Parliament from repealing that Act of Parliament.

Under this Bill, however, we are to have something entirely novel. We are for the first time in the history of the Constitution to have two means of legislating, one by Act of Parliament and the other by the Act of the House of Commons. That is done under this Bill by a method which has perhaps become somewhat familiar, by saying that that is to be deemed an Act of Parliament which is not an Act of Parliament. In fact, an Act of the House of Commons is to be deemed an Act of Parliament. We do not propose by this Amendment to limit the omnipotence of Parliament, but we do propose to limit the omnipotence of the House of Commons. We are not putting limits by this or any other exemption on the paper on the powers of Parliament, but we are putting limits on those new powers of legislation by the Act of the House of Commons alone. In any way, if we are to have Single Chamber Government thrust upon us, then at least, let us withdraw from that Single Chamber the power of extending and perpetuating its own existence. Under this Bill certain safeguards—paper safeguards I would call them unless this Amendment is accepted—are placed upon that Single Chamber Government. For instance, it is provided that a Bill must be sent three times to the House of Lords, and you have the further safeguard that the duration of Parliament is to be limited. But unless you exempt from this provision Bills which extend the duration of Parliament, then undoubtedly these safeguards are mere paper safeguards, and can be swept away by the very authority upon which we intend them to be safeguards.

The Bill itself recognises the special necessity under the new circumstances of limiting the duration of Parliament, because it provides in one of its latter Sections that the duration of Parliament in future is to be five years instead of seven. The necessity for that was stated by the Prime Minister to be that when you have this new legislation by Act of the House of Commons, instead of by Act of Parliament, it will be necessary that the House of Commons should at more frequent intervals be brought into touch with the people, and derive fresh strength and authority in the form of new mandates from the electorate. In this Bill the Government have recognised that necessity, and that being so I cannot understand how they can refuse to accept an Amendment which merely has for its object to safeguard and give real effect to that necessity. Do the Government wish that the House of Commons should have the power of extending its own existence without the consent of Parliament. Do they wish that, under any conceivable circumstances, it should have that power? If they do not wish it, then I cannot understand why they should not accept my Amendment, because that Amendment only carries out and gives effect to the Clause which the Government themselves has thought it necessary to put into this Bill, to still further limit the duration of Parliament. I may be told by the Prime Minister that this is unnecessary, and that no House of Commons would think of doing such a thing.

But I would like to point out that there have been two cases in which Parliament has extended its own duration. I am citing them merely as historical illustrations. It may be said that the circumstances of those days do not apply to the circumstances of the present, but I submit that circumstances may very well arise under which it may be a great temptation indeed to the House to prolong its own existence. I have for that statement an authority which, I think, will not be questioned—the authority of the Home Secretary himself. With regard to the historical illustrations, there was, in the first place, the Long Parliament. That was the only case in our history when we had Single-Chamber Government. It was just after the House of Lords had by resolution been abolished. Within two or three years of that time the Long Parliament brought in a measure which was known as the Bill of Perpetuity, under which a Member, once a Member of this House, was to remain so for life. That followed within three years of the time of our having Single-Chamber Government established. The other instance I have to cite is that of the Septennial Act. That Act stands in a different category, because it was an Act of Parliament. It was an Act of the three Estates of the Realm, and, therefore, it is not subject to the same objection as the first instance I gave. It was an Act which extended the duration of Parliament from three to seven years, and it had at least that significance. In 1715, by the Septennial Act, a Whig Government extended the duration of Parliament to seven years, and it is curious that in the recital of that Act one of the reasons given for the extension was the aversion to the incurring of election expenses and the fact that frequent elections were likely to lead to more violent and heated animosities among the subjects of the realm. I quite admit that at that time there were very special circumstances which would have made a change of Government most embarrassing. The recital, I may mention, also deals with other points, such as the dangers of Popish plots. But, at any rate, we have here, under a Whig Government, an extension of the duration of Parliament. I do not complain of that extension because it was made by Act of Parliament; but are we not likely, in modern times, to have a recurrence of the same state of things? Has the aversion to frequent election expenses diminished after 250 years? Have the hot animosities referred to in the Preamble of that Act as being generated by elections diminished? I do not think that any Member of this House will be prepared to say that they have, and, moreover, the love of power on the part of Governments certainly has not diminished. But I may quote as an authority for the proposition that this is a real danger, a statement made by the Home Secretary in this House. Speaking on 13th April, 1910, the right hon. Gentleman said:— I quite recognise what the Noble Lord (Lord Hugh Cecil) has said as to the danger of the Government, in the declining years of its power, seeking to make itself immortal by prolonging indefinitely the life of Parliament.—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 13th April, 1910, cols. 1255–56.]


What followed?


I have only given that part of the statement that was relevant to my case.


I have not verified the quotation, but it looks as if it were a preliminary to a "but."


I have only that extract here. I think it is a fair extract. I have not given the whole of the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. It is taken away from its context, but I do not think that matters in this case. I think if you read the whole context it perfectly fairly expresses what the right hon. Gentleman meant. He said:— I quite recognise what the Noble Lord has said as to the danger of the Government, in the declining years of its power, seeking to make itself immortal by prolonging indefinitely the life of Parliament. Does the right hon. Gentleman not admit that is a danger? If he does not, that is another matter, but he has entirely changed the opinions which he then expressed; but whether the right hon. Gentleman and the hon. Gentlemen opposite think it is a danger or not, I submit that many people in this House do think it is a danger, and surely if it is not one then this Amendment cannot do the least harm and the Government would not be injured in any way by accepting it. It may also be urged that if one exception is made to this Clause other exceptions may be necessary. I quite accept that, but it is not an answer to this exception. I agree that other exceptions are also necessary, but that fact cannot be an answer to a proposal of this kind if otherwise it is sound and does not infringe upon the principle of the Bill. Those other exceptions, I think, can be easily specified and clearly stated in the Bill, and the fact that other Amendments may be necessary cannot be an answer to this one. Then it may be urged that this provision itself may be repealed, but that is an objection which might be easily met, because words could be inserted to deal with it. I think this Amendment is perfectly reasonable, and there can be no sound objection to it on the part of the Government. It does not infringe any of the principles of the Bill, but merely carries them out and gives effect to them, and if we are to have any such uncontrolled power on the part of the House of Commons in the future, at least let us not give them the power of perpetuating and extending their own existence.


The hon. and learned Gentleman put upon the Paper an Amendment with a much more extended scope than the comparatively modest proposal which he has just submitted to the Committee. I confess if we are to have a discussion, as I think we ought to have, on the question of what class of legislation, if any, should be excepted from the provisions of this Clause, I think that discussion could have been much more conveniently taken upon the wider words which are put down upon the Paper, but which for reasons I cannot understand the hon. Member has apparently now withdrawn.


I did explain.


Yes, the hon. Gentleman used some words of modesty about his own qualifications which I am sure the Committee will agree with me are quite unnecessary in view of the excellent speech he made. In reference to the Amendment he has proposed—I am only speaking for convenience of discussion—I desire if I may be allowed to do so, and I think it would be convenient in the first place to deal specifically with the particular Amendment which the hon. Gentleman has proposed, and then to state in general terms the grounds upon which we will oppose all the Amendments of that character or any Amendment in the sense suggested for the purpose of excluding from the operation of this Clause particular classes of legislation. I think it would be convenient that I should do so, because the arguments which I shall use for that purpose will be applicable to this Amendment, and equally applicable to subsequent Amendments, and it will save myself and my right hon. Friends therefore the trouble of repeating ourselves and taking up the time of the Committee. First as to the very modest Amendment with which the hon. Member has contented himself for the moment. That proposal is to exclude from the operation of this Clause any Bill to extend the maximum duration of Parliament. The hon. Gentleman seems to be under some apprehension that I suppose a Liberal House of Commons in the future might take advantage of this Clause to extend its own existence or that of the Parliament to which it belongs and thereby illegitimately use the new powers which this Act would confer upon them. The history of the matter as far as this particular point is concerned is very simple. It is quite true that according to our common law—I am citing now the greatest authority on the subject, the work of the hon. Baronet (Sir W. Anson) who sits on the Front Bench opposite—by our common law the efflux of time does not dissolve a Parliament at all, but the Sovereign can keep Parliament in existence as long as he likes.


As long as he reigns?


Yes, as long as he reigns, and unless by one of those unfortunate accidents which sometimes occur even in a constitutional country, the reign is brought to a premature conclusion. I do not think, however, we need bother about that; but so long as he reigns he can keep Parliament in existence; and Charles II. detained for seventeen years the Parliament which existed at his accession. It was not until the Triennial Act, which was passed after the Revolution of 1693, that this House, with the assent of the House of Lords, restricted the duration of Parliament to a definite term—namely, three years. Some years later, under special circumstances to which the learned Attorney-General has referred, and which I think he admits, justified the very strong proceeding that was then taken—there was very grave danger at that time and a disputed succession to the Crown—Parliament passed the Septennial Act, and thereby I agree prolonged its own existence itself for the first and only time since the passing of the Triennial Act. That was done with the assent of both Houses, the House of Lords as well as the House of Commons; and supposing the hon. Gentleman's Amendment were carried it would still be in the competence of the House of Commons, with a Conservative majority, with the assent of the House of Lords, to prolong the existence of a Parliament for an indefinite duration of time. That was the point which my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary made in the speech of which a somewhat truncated extract was given by the hon. Gentleman just now. The fact is that this is another illustration of the way in which you are going to deal out uneven treatment between the two parties in the State. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Yes it is, there is absolutely nothing at this moment if we have a Conservative majority sitting on this side of the House—there is nothing in the Constitution to prevent this Parliament from prolonging its own duration to twenty years. There is absolutely nothing, and the hon. and learned Gentlemen knows that perfectly well.


There is the character of the House of Lords.


The hon. Baronet, whose interruptions are usually to the point, says "there is the character of the House of Lords." It is not the character of the House of Lords, it is the character of Parliament. Everybody knows that no Parliament from which ever side the majority was derived would ever dream of committing such an outrage on the constituencies which returned it as to prolong its own existence beyond the term for which it is elected. It is not the character of the House of Lords, but the character of the House of Commons, and it is the common-sense of the people of this country which is the only real and adequate safeguard against any such outrage as that. Provided these two assemblies are self-respecting assemblies, and, far more, so long as this House depends upon the respect of the country, it is a perfectly illusory danger, and there is no reason for making any safeguard. Therefore, as far as constitutional danger is concerned, the hon. Gentleman's Amendment is in the first place unnecessary and in the second place it is one-sided. I should like, if I may, to state in more general terms the objections which the Government have, not merely to this particular Amendment, but to all the various proposals which are put down on the paper for excluding from the operation of this Clause a variety of subjects. I should be quite out of order at this stage to go into the merits of the particular proposals, but I think I am entitled to review them as a whole and state the grounds which, as they are applicable to all, will in turn be applicable to each, why we object to them.

There are twenty-three suggested exceptions from the operation of this Clause and four others in regard to which the special procedure of referendum is proposed. Let me enumerate briefly what the exceptions are—the bases of taxation, the rights, privileges and procedure of the Lords, the Act of Habeas Corpus, the Bill of Rights, the Act of Settlement, the Acts of Union with Scotland and Ireland, the right of the Crown to summon Parliament, the Civil List, the Creation of State Monopolies, the question of Control of the Offensive and Defensive forces of the Crown, the appointment of Judges, the administration of justice, self-governing Colonies, the Established Church, the privileges and prerogatives of the Crown, the composition of the House of Lords, Electoral areas, the Duration of Parliament, the relations of the two Houses, taxation except by Parliament, trial by jury, amendment of the present Act, and further, the Protestant succession and National Parliaments for England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland. What is left to the operation of this Clause? What is left which is to affect the area of legislation if all these objects are excluded from the possible operation of the Clause? Of course, I am not reading that kind of auctioneers' catalogue with a view of exciting merriment, but I am reading it from the point of of view of showing what lies really at the root, and is, indeed, the common ground of all these Amendments, including the one which is now before the Committee—it is to exclude from the operation of this Clause everything in the nature of what is called constitutional change. I think hon. Gentlemen opposite will agree that that is the common characteristics of the various Amendments of which they have in different forms given notice. Some of them, I think, go even beyond that very elastic phrase, but I think that is their intention, that is their common characteristic and object. The question, therefore, which arises here for the first time, and which will arise on all the other Amendments, and which, I think, I can most conveniently discuss, is whether or not we ought to exclude from the operation of this new procedure anything in the nature of what is called constitutional change.

7.0 P.M.

Let me point out what in theory the assumption which underlies this Clause really is. When we talk about a Single Chamber and the rest of it, we are apt, perhaps unconsciously, perhaps in the stress of controversial prejudice, not really to appreciate what is the assumption on which this Clause proceeds. We who advocate this Clause say the presumption is that the House of Commons, freely elected by the constituencies of the country, represents for the time being the opinions and the aims of the electors. It is a very simple proposition, which would have been treated as a platitude a few years ago. I do not say the presumption is always true. But that is at any rate what our constituencies say when they go through the other- wise perfectly nugatory and meaningless operation of a General Election. They send us here to represent them, and to carry out, as their representatives, what are their opinions and their wishes. That is the A B C of representative Government. There are many shortcomings and many drawbacks and many things which might be improved, but that is the essence of representative Government.

But it is a presumption the strength of which may be weakened by time. There is not the same strength in the presumption that the House of Commons is elected by the electorate after the expiration of a certain number of years as there was when they came fresh from contact with those who sent them here, and it is for that reason that the Government, carefully safeguarding, as they have done in this Bill, the rights of the electors, have provided two special precautions against a House of Commons which had ceased to be representative in its character carrying measures as to which there was no presumption that the constituencies approved of them. The first is the provision that after the second Session of a new Parliament you cannot, under this Bill, take advantage of its machinery for over-riding the Veto of the House of Lords without a fresh election. The second is the shortening of the duration of Parliament from seven years to five, which in practice no doubt will be four years. By the erection of these two safeguards you protect against abuse the prima facie presumption that the House of Commons for the time being represents the electorate, and will only assent to Bills which the electors approve. If that is the case, what reason is there in regard to the House of Commons, which is presumptively in that sense representative of the people, for excluding from its competence, after the provision made by this Clause for due deliberation and delay, the over-riding authority to carry into law measures which the electors have approved? What reason is there to suppose that the House of Commons, still acting in what I may call the plenitude and the freshness of the mandate which it has received from the constituencies of the country, will endeavour to force into law in the domain of Constitutional legislation proposals which those electors from whom they have freshly come have not authorised and would not approve? In the next place, how are you going to draw the boundary line? When it is admitted, as it is admitted, that a common characteristic of all these proposed exceptions is that there are Constitutional changes, how are you going to draw any boundary line between that which is constitutional and that which is not? I was refreshing my memory only yesterday—I have already quoted something from the Treatise of the hon. Baronet (Sir W. Anson)—by a reference to an equally great authority, I mean Professor Dicey, in his classical work on the Law of the Constitution. He says, in the very first page of that book, speaking of the difference of the English and the American Constitution—an English lawyer, writing on the English Constitution:— He may search the Statute Book from beginning to end but he will find no enactment which purports to contain the articles of the Constitution. He will not possess any test by which to discriminate laws which are constitutional or fundamental from ordinary enactments. He will discover that the very term 'constitutional law,' which is not, unless my memory deceives me, ever employed by Blackstone is of comparatively modern origin. The distinction between constitutional and unconstitutional, between fundamental and non-fundamental, between organic and non-organic laws is totally unknown here in Great Britain, and you are seeking by these Amendments, of which I only take this as an example—the argument I am now using will be applicable to all—to introduce for the first time that which all our great writers on constitutional law, all our jurists and all our judges, will agree is a thing totally unknown to the British Constitution and to the history of our law, and which it would pass the wit of man, and certainly of the framers of these Amendments, to reduce to anything like a scientific or anything but a chaotic form. Let me illustrate what I am saying by one or two very familiar cases. Some of our privileges and some of our institutions are defined and regulated by Statute Law, Magna Charta, the Bill of Rights, the Habeas Corpus Act, the Act of Settlement—these are statutes. They appear upon the Statute Book, and Parliament can alter or amend them if it pleases. But a great deal—I am not exaggerating when I say by far the larger part of our constitutional rights and liberties do not depend upon statutes at all, but upon unwritten convention the growth of custom recognised by usage, slowly crystallised from usage into law which will not be found in any Statute Book whatever. Are you going to recognise that distinction, or are you not? Are you going for the first time to say that you are to except from the operation of a new constitutional procedure those parts of our Constitution which are embodied in written law and leave the rest where they are—unwritten, unregulated by statutes, interpreted by the Courts of Judges and the usages of mankind? Again, when you come to that part of our law which is statutory, how are you going to discriminate either in importance, in range, in indestructibility, or in sacrosanctity, between one department and another? For the first time in this Amendment, or this series of Amendments, you are introducing a principle totally unknown to the British Constitution, the principle of discriminating in character, in importance, and in sacrosanctity between different parts of our legislative constitutional system. That would be an innovation far beyond anything which has ever been proposed in this or in any other Bill. It would be a revolution of the Constitution.

You may say that that is a high Tory-argument, but it is simply an argument based upon the difficulty of doing a thing which had never been done before or upon the presumed inexpediency of departing from a uniform series of precedents. But it is a great deal more than that, because the moment you introduce these discriminations, in other words the moment you except from the omnipotence of Parliament certain categories of legislation, that moment you are introducing of necessity an outside authority to determine whether or not any particular Act of Parliament is valid. You are doing what under a written Constitution like that of the United States, like that of our own Dominions and Colonies, is constantly done. You are invoking the courts of law to say not what is the meaning of the Act of Parliament, not only what is the extent of the rights and obligations which Parliament has imposed, but you are inviting them to say whether Parliament is or is not in any particular case acting within its constitutional powers. You have, in other words, for the first time introduced into our statute law and into our Constitution a region of doubt and difficulty and ambiguity as to whether any particular law is constitutionally binding on the subjects of His Majesty the King. I am not speaking in any party sense at all when I say that these are very serious considerations which anyone who is acquainted with the history, genius, and spirit of the British Constitution ought to bear carefully in mind. An hon. Gentleman interrupted a few moments ago when I was pointing out that this was a wholly new departure in our Constitution by saying, "So is your Veto," by which he meant, of course, "So is your limitation upon the Veto of the House of Lords." It is nothing of the kind. I have pointed out over and over again in these Debates that the Veto of the Crown was just as operative 200 years ago as the Veto of the House of Lords is to-day. We have got rid of the Veto of the Crown without any violent breach of continuity in the history of our Constitution. We are not taking away the Veto of the House of Lords. We are only limiting its duration and its extent. The Veto of the Crown has gone. It is as dead as Queen Anne.


Not by statute.


No, it is gone by disuse; and so ought the Veto of the House of Lords to have gone by disuse. And so it had gone by disuse in the case of financial legislation, when the House of Lords was led by great and capable statesmen—by the Duke of Wellington and Lord Derby, who heeded public opinion outside. It is only since the House of Lords has created itself into a permanent and partisan ally of one particular political combination of the State that it has become, unhappily, necessary to deal by legislation with a state of things which one might have hoped, in the gradual, peaceable evolution of our constitutional system, would have adjusted itself without legislation.

I was betrayed by that interruption into matter which is not strictly relevant to my argument. The whole point is this: You must assume, for the purpose of this Amendment, that this new procedure is to be brought into operation. It is no good to say, "We object to this, and things ought to remain as they are." In that case, reject Clause 2 altogether. But here we are on an Amendment to Clause 2. You are proposing to allow Clause 2 to operate in certain cases, and to restrict, or to exclude, its operation in others. Assuming that there are cases in which it is right that this House of Commons, freshly representing the electors of the country, and so near to the date of its election that the expiration or the wearing out of its mandate cannot be presumed—assuming that there are cases in which this House is clearly entrusted by the country with the mission of carrying into legislative effect certain great and important changes—there are such cases—and that these changes may properly be made by the machinery of this Clause, how are you going to exclude from it everything which is of real importance in the development of our political and social conditions?

I have heard an allusion from the other side, and we shall no doubt hear more of it as the discussion proceeds, to Home Rule. Of course, it would not be in order, nor would it be in any sense relevant to this Amendment, to discuss Home Rule, and I shall only take it by way of illustration of my general argument. I am very glad to take the case of Home Rule, which is in some sense a test case. We had an election last December. No one I think will dispute that this Parliament Bill, and this particular Clause of the Bill, were clearly before the electors at the time of that election. It was upon this Clause in particular that they were invited to pronounce. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] If ever there was anything approaching to the nature of a referendum, it was the General Election of December last year. Nobody supposed that the Parliament Bill was anything but a means to an end. It is not an end in itself. It was never represented as an end in itself. It is an improvement in our constitutional mechanism. You may say it is not an improvement, but at any rate it is a change in our constitutional mechanism, and it is a change initiated and advocated with one object, and one only namely, to make the progress of legislation desired by the people as represented here in the House of Commons easier and more facile than it has hitherto been—that is to say, when the Liberal party is in power. It is to establish in that sense something like equality between the two parties in the State, and it is to secure for us who are now in power an equal chance of carrying our legislation. But nobody invents a machine for the sake of the machine itself to exhibit it in a museum as a triumph of the mechanical ingenuity of the person who invented it. The machine is there to do work. If this Amendment, or any in this series, were carried, the, machine would be paralysed as regards a large part, if not the whole, of the work it is intended to do.

Take the case of Home Rule as an illustration. I constantly see it as represented that the Government are pushing this Bill, and this Clause in particular, without any of the Amendments now suggested in order that they may "spring a trick" upon the electors of the country. What is the "trick?" The trick consists simply in this, that having told the electors—as we did tell them in the clearest and most explicit terms—that we wanted to improve our constitutional machinery, in order to carry out by means of that machinery certain objects—one of which is the grant of self-Government to Ireland—and now that we are going to try to get the machine, we are told we may not apply it without breach of faith or trickery to any of the purposes for which we are getting it. It is one of the flimsiest grounds on which to base a charge of breach of faith or trickery that has ever been suggested. I happen to be for the time being the spokesman of my own party. I have never concealed from the country, and not only have I never concealed from the country, but I have explicitly stated to the country in the clearest possible terms before the election took place, that if the electors gave us a mandate to pass this Bill, we should use the machinery created by the Bill, and use it in this Parliament for the purpose of carrying out Home Rule. And to ask us now—as you are asking by this series of Amendments—to go through the elaborate operation of setting up this improved constitutional machine, and yet, at the same time, to enter into a self-denying ordinance not to apply it to any of the purposes—social or political—on which the hearts of our fellow-countrymen are set, is to ask us to degrade the operations of Parliament to a sham.

That is my general reply to the whole series of Amendments—and I hope I shall not have to repeat it on the specific Amendments—which seek to exclude from the operation of this Clause particular measures. I say you will never establish that which is the object of this Bill, and of this Clause in particular, namely, fair and even play as between the two great parties in the State—you will never set this House of Commons to carry into legislative effect the mission which has been entrusted to it by the electors at the polls—unless you give us over the whole sphere of legislation, power, after adequate deliberation and delay, to carry into law with the consent of the Crown the will of the people.


We have listened to a very strange performance on the part of the Prime Minister. He began by a few perfunctory remarks relating to the Amendment, and having dealt for two or three minutes with the Amendment he then wandered off into a discussion of ten or twelve Amendments which are to succeed this. And not content with that excursion from those rigid lines of Debate which earlier in the evening were laid down from the Chair, the Prime Minister, who has twice moved the Closure to-day on other people when dealing with the general points raised by particular Amendments, wandered off into what I can call nothing else but a Second Reading speech on the whole Bill. I have no particular objection to that procedure, but I say to the Committee if the Prime Minister is to be allowed to indulge, I hope he will not be so grossly unfair to those who criticise his Bill as to try and cut them short when they are following his own example and dealing with matters raised by the Amendments. I now pass from the manner of the Prime Minister to what is quite as astonishing—namely, the matter of his speech. The Prime Minister, having thrown a few words to my hon. and learned Friend behind me (Mr. Cassel) then enumerated the series of later proposals on the Paper, which he said he would dispose of so far as he was concerned in a single speech, and that speech he proceeded to make. Having read out these Amendments, he said quite accurately that in the main they might be described as constitutional Amendments, and he said, further, that if the House of Commons is not to deal with the matters referred to in the Amendments what is left for the House of Commons to deal with?

I have often charged hon. Gentlemen opposite of the Radical party with so persistent an appetite for constitutional change that more important subjects were neglected and thrust into the background with the result that the country was kept in a perpetual turmoil in regard to the machinery of legislation instead of dealing with the subjects of legislation which ought to occupy us. Now I find that the right hon. Gentleman has described his policy, the policy of the Front Bench, and the policy of his party in language far stronger than any I have ever ventured to use. What is left, says the right hon. Gentleman, for the Radical party to do, if the region of constitutional legislation is excluded. A precious avowal from a Radical Prime Minister—an avowal which certainly fits in with my own observation of their practice, but which I never before thoroughly realised was part of the fixed theory on which they work. Then, says the right hon. Gentleman, constitutional change being the one subject in which we are interested, how are we to carry it out, and who ought to carry it out? He then proceeded in terms to announce his unmitigated adherence to Single-Chamber Government in its strictest form, and applicable to everything without exclusion, provided only that the House of Commons had been elected sufficiently recently. That is an entirely new doctrine for the Radical party. It is an entirely new doctrine for that bench. Where is the Foreign Secretary? We know that the Secretary for War (Lord Haldane) cannot be here to answer for himself, but the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs is still left, one of the authors of the Preamble. He is still able to defend and explain it. I wish to know if this doctrine of absolute Single-Chamber Government, which the right hon. Gentleman has announced to-day in terms without disguise and without qualification, is the doctrine of the party which he leads and represents, what is the use of the Preamble, what is the use of your representative Second Chamber, and what is the use of your Second Chamber at all? The right hon. Gentleman went so far as to say—it was an amazing statement to make—that in the peaceful order of evolution, which was so unhappily disturbed by the action of the House of Lords two years ago, the power of the House of Lords to reject or modify Bills against the will of the House of Commons ought, in his opinion, to have become one of the obsolete parts of the Constitution.

Is that Second-Chamber Government? Is that the Government you yourselves have established in South Africa? Is that the Government which you established in Australasia? Why is it a Single-Chamber Government has been repudiated in the most vehement language by your own Foreign Secretary? I think he used words which have become famous about the result of Single-Chamber Government on the Radical Party. That concerns me less than the disasters promised, or rather suggested, to the whole community by the right hon. Gentleman if you were to get rid of a Second Chamber. I am not, of course, now going to go into the whole of the subject of Second-Chamber Government, but I do say that the Prime Minister himself in introducing the resolutions last year, and the Bill last year, and in introducing the Bill this year, and in discussing it upon the Second Reading, has never approached the nakedness with which he has to-day announced the information to the House and to the country that what he is in favour of is absolute Single-Chamber Government to deal with everything, with this single qualification, as I understand it, that the House of Commons must not be elected more than two or three years before it sets to destroy, may be, or profoundly modify the Constitution. I do not wish to go back to the Foreign Secretary's speech which I have now got. He is not here to defend it. I have referred to it adequately, and I do not think it has ever been repudiated. I believe that the Government themselves have declared specifically that they are in favour of a Second Chamber, though they do not like the present one.


Hear, hear.


"Hear, hear," says the right hon. Gentleman. Then what happens to his speech. Why has he occupied the attention of the Committee and strained the rules of order for half an hour, if at the end of it he is still in favour of an effective Second Chamber? Why is he in favour of a Second Chamber? He is in favour of it as every sensible man is in favour of it, in order that you may have these great issues subjected to a double tribunal until it becomes perfectly clear that the country itself is behind the change, and that the country itself deserves the change. It is very easy apparently for hon. and right hon. Gentlemen to persuade themselves that the country is in favour of a change. They come back to these walls. They have not got to ask the country any questions, they declare "The country is with us. The country knew what they were doing when they sent us back to power with a majority of so and so. The country were perfectly conscious of all the programme we put before the House, and we have the country behind us." Then the right hon. Gentleman explains, as regards Horn? Rule, a matter which I should have thought was beyond this Amendment in particular, that he had been absolutely open and candid with the people, and all the electors who returned him with a majority of one, so far as his own party is concerned, though with a much larger majority I agree, so far as the allied parties were concerned, were perfectly conscious when they voted for him that they were not merely voting for a constitutional change in the relations between the two Houses of Parliament and for a reform of the House of Lords which they are not going to get, but that they were fully aware that Home Rule would be carried over the heads of the Lords and without any further reference to themselves.


You yourself said so.


Of course I said so. The point was, did the electors when they returned the present Government to power know that they were voting for Home Rule whether they desired it or not? I say they did not. I have always said they did not. I tried to bring home that in voting for what I believe they did want, which was some modification of the existing system, they were bringing upon themselves this danger. Unfortunately, I did not persuade them of it. At this moment they are not persuaded of it, nor will it be easy, even for those who are desirous of bringing it home to them, among whom I do not include the hon. Gentleman who interrupted me now, nor the Prime Minister, thoroughly to realise it until the actual danger is upon them. And everybody who does not talk in platitudes that appeal to the minds of a certain class is perfectly aware that when you are dealing with the cross currents and exciting topics, personal and others at a General Election, remote issues like that, especially upon a subject on which this generation of voters have had very little knowledge and experience are not realised. Everybody knows, who looks facts in the face, and tries to realise the truths of what goes on at a General Election, that the statement I have made is a correct one. What says the right hon. Gentleman? He bitterly complains because we allege that if this House of Commons is to be used for the purposes of Home Rule that use is a forgery, and he quotes his own speeches, and says. "As Leader of my party, I made it perfectly clear." He did not make it perfectly clear. [An HON. MEMBER: "The Albert Hall."] After all everybody knows that at a General Election clearness does not mean making one perfectly grammatical, lucid statement upon an issue. Much more than that is required to make a thing clear to the vast masses concerned, and when the issue is not an immediate issue great pains should have been taken to see that the issue was made clear. What pains did they take, and how did the election addresses deal with it? How many speeches upon it were made by them to English audiences? What space did it occupy in the speeches made by Ministers to English audiences? Did the right hon. Gentleman himself, before he went to his Scottish audience and was heckled, make any reference to it? Did he do more than say, "I said something quite clear about this last year. Look at my speech"? That is what a statesman of the right hon. Gentleman's rank and ability and character thinks is an adequate way of bringing before the voters of this country one of the greatest issues with which they could be confronted.

I think the course which the Government have taken in this matter has been scandalous, and I think the defence is worthy of the cause. The right hon. Gentleman says, "How can you distinguish between constitutional and non-constitutional issues?" It never has been done, because we never had a written Constitution, because a written Constitution never was created and never was required until the right hon. Gentleman came into office and altered the Constitution so that now, in effect, you must have, and are going to have after this Bill passes, something in the nature of a statutory written Constitution. He quotes Professor Dicey, who says: "You may look in vain among constitutional authorities, and you will never find anything about fundamental or constitutional or written laws and practices." Professor Dicey is perfectly right. The man who has made that distinction necessary, and has done it since Professor Dicey wrote, is the right hon. Gentleman himself. He is the man who is making a written Constitution necessary. He is making it absolutely imperative that this House should take a hand and ask the country to have some means of distinguishing the fundamental laws of this country from those which are less fundamental and less vital to our national life, and when the right hon. Gentleman says that the task is impossible he really might look around and see that in every country but our own the impossibility has been accomplished and that every country but our own has taken the kind of precautions that my hon. and learned Friend wants to take and other movers of Amendments on the Paper desire to take. As to the very precaution which the right hon. Gentleman says in the first place is undesirable, every other country in the world—I am talking of the great countries —has made that very distinction and has embodied that distinction in their Constitution. How absurd then it is to come down to this Committee and to tell it that what other countries have accomplished without difficulty is beyond the capacity of the British House of Commons.

The right hon. Gentleman seems to think it natural and proper and democratic to say that a Parliament which has been elected within two years or one year may properly be made omnipotent over everything connected with the State. I say that is a monstrous doctrine, because after all you are dealing here not with the interests merely of the electors who send us to this House. Their interests are, speaking for themselves, a passing interest. But we whom they send to this House and Parliament as a whole are not merely representatives of the changing prejudices of the electors. We are trustees for the future. To what body of trustees elected in that way would you give, not merely immediate interests and temporary questions that must be decided at once, but decisions affecting the whole future history of the country, of which maybe no reversal is possible, and which you are going to take in a Single Chamber that has come back full of all the passions and prejudices born of platform controversy, less in the mood, perhaps, in its very first Session than in any other, to discuss these questions in a calm and statesmanlike spirit. To them you are going without a check or hindrance to commit the whole Constitution which we have inherited and which we ought to send down unimpaired to our descendants. The right hon. Gentleman made an immense parade to-night of constitutional learning. He quoted my hon. Friend the Member for Oxford University, he quoted Professor Dicey. He wandered over centuries of our history. What does all this learning cover? It covers, and is intended to cover nothing else than the results of a most unhappy bargain struck between right hon. Gentlemen opposite and those below the Gangway. Through that bargain the whole constitutional history of this country is to be sacrificed, because it suits the passing necessities of a party which finds itself, so far as this country is concerned, not the first party in this House. Because of those necessities, and those necessities alone, the responsible Government comes down and preaches the doctrine of absolute Single-Chamber supremacy, and tells us that the whole history of our past, the whole experience of all mankind, which is freely and constitutionally governed, is to be thrown to the winds in order to satisfy those who love neither you nor your Constitution.


Some of those who sit on these benches are rather surprised at the two speeches to which we have just listened. I was rather surprised because on an Amendment earlier in the afternoon we on these benches were not allowed to trespass one hair's breadth from the particular Proposition before the Committee. We were astonished to hear the Prime Minister just now absolutely de part from the Amendment before the Committee, and practically give us a Second-Reading speech on the principles of this Bill. My object in rising is to try and bring back the consideration of the Committee to the particular Amendment we are considering. The object of that Amendment is to make impossible for any Government in the future to raise the period of the duration of Parliament from five years, to which it is to be brought down, to seven years, or any longer number of years. The reason for this Amendment is an excellent one, and it is precisely the same as Sir Henry Campbell-Banner-man gave when he brought forward his Veto Resolution in 1907. Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman made it part of his Resolutions that it was absolutely necessary to reduce the maximum period of Parliament. That was part of his plan, and it is now part of the Government's plan that the period of Parliament should be reduced to five years. If that is part of their plan, then what my hon. and learned Friend is asking by his Amendment is that the Government should adhere to that plan, and that they should not have power to increase the number of years from five years to any other number of years, or the object might be to perpetuate for a longer period the duration of Single-Chamber Government. The Prime Minister himself admitted this danger in a speech which he made on 23rd February of this year. He said:— No one pretends, I certainly do not, that the correspondence between any given judgment of any given House of Commons and that of the electorate is invariable and precise. The House of Commons may, particularly under the unduly long term embodied in the Septennial Act, under which it at present exists, outstay, and we have seen Houses of Commons which did outstay what is called the mandate given to them by the electorate. The House of Commons may pass a measure by a majority small in number, and obviously accidental in its composition. The House of Commons may, through the crush of business, or through hasty procedure, pass a measure in an imperfect, incomplete and even misleading form. But these are risks we admit—I for one certainly admit—ought to be guarded against, and we have guarded against them. In the first place we propose to shorten the legal duration of Parliament from seven years to five years, which will probably amount in practice to an actual legislative working term of four years. That will secure that your House of Commons, for the time being, is always either fresh from the polls which gave it authority, or—and this is an equally effective check upon acting in defiance of the popular will—it is looking forward to the polls at which it will have to render an account of its stewardship,"—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st February. 1911, col. 1749, vol.21.] The Prime Minister in that speech admits that there may be abuses if the House of Commons has too long a period in which to exercise this restriction upon the Veto. He makes it a part of his plan that the maximum period of Parliament must be reduced, and it is to be reduced to five years. What we are arguing now is simply that the Prime Minister and his friends should not be in a position to abuse the power which the present Bill gives them. If they were in a position to increase the maximum period of Parliament it would be in their power to perpetuate Single-Chamber Government for an indefinite period of time. We had evidence given this afternoon that Parliament was perpetuated in the time of Cromwell, but common-sense was too much for an abuse of that kind, and the Rump Parliament came to an end, the House of Lords being again restored. I sincerely hope that this Amendment will receive some consideration from the Government. It is clearly one which may be differentiated from other propositions which the Prime Minister has mentioned, and for these reasons I beg to support the Amendment of my hon. Friend, and I hope, if necessary, that it will be carried to a Division.


I trust that the latitude which has been allowed to the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition will be extended to those who are to follow them. I have listened to what seemed to me to be an extremely interesting and important speech from the Prime Minister, a speech which will be widely read and quoted, and in which he laid down the doctrine of diminishing mandate, or what I prefer to call a series of diminishing mandates. I never heard it so plainly put before; and it would appear that when the House of Commons is returned it really does represent the people, but that there comes a time when it no longer does so, though unfortunately it continues to legislate. The question is what is to be done? Upon that theory, what is the course the Government propose to take? As I understand they propose to say that for the first three years of the five this House of Commons is representative of the people; that is to say, for the first three years out of the five they may carry their will against the Opposition of the other House, but in the fourth year, on the 1st January of the fourth year, their position becomes very doubtful. Is it not a reasonable observation that, if this change is required, and if the House of Commons, whether the majority be Liberal or Conservative, ceases to represent the people after three years, you should take some steps to obtain the opinion of the country? What is the position during the last two years of the five? It is a very strange one. The House of Commons, on the theory laid down, has ceased to represent the people in the same way or as certainly as it did before, yet it is to continue to exist, and, what is more important it is to continue to legislate, and to legislate without the assistance or co-operation of the House of Lords. If the House of Lords agree then they may be taken to represent the people, but if the House of Lords differ then they are not to be taken as representing the people. That appears to be one of the strongest admissions of the value of the representative character of the House of Lords which I have ever heard made. Another observation, based on the theory of diminishing mandates is this. Take the case of a Bill brought in under this new machinery in the closing years of the period of Parliament.

8.0 P.M.

It is brought in by the Government which has just ceased to enjoy that plenitude of authority with which it started. The Government introduce it in the third year, and it is to become law against the repeated opposition of the House of Lords by mere iteration of the House of Commons, which, on the theory laid down by the Prime Minister, has ceased and has legitimately ceased to represent the people of the country. Against the opposition of the House of Lords, and by mere iteration recorded in this House, though they have ceased to represent the people, they can continue to legislate. The Prime Minister, in the course of his most important speech, asked this Committee why they should introduce an undoubted novelty into the Constitution by making this distinction between ordinary and organic legislation. For my own humble part I am profoundly convinced that we shall not have gone far in this business of Constitution making which we have so lately undertaken before we realise that we must substitute for the old double classification of Money Bills and ordinary legislation a triple qualification such as obtains in our own Dominions—in two of them, at any rate, and in almost every other civilised country in the world—namely, money legislation, ordinary legislation, and organic and constitutional change. It is because we are going to face the danger from which we have hitherto been free, and for the reason that every foreign state has found it necessary to make this triple classification, states like France, Germany, the United States—every progressive foreign state—that we shall require under this new system to make a fundamental distinction between money legislation, ordinary legislation, and organic and constitutional change. We must adopt the safeguards which are in use in countries like Switzerland and the United States—the more democratic the country the more striking this fact of safeguards seems to be, and the reason is the danger of violent resistance and even the danger of civil war. In this country we have hitherto had the advantage of a strong and Conservative Second Chamber. I submit to hon. Members opposite that whatever form of Second Chamber you have it will be found to be Conservative in the broadest sense of the word. Every Second Chamber is, in the true sense of the word, Conservative, or else it fails in its object. The reason why we must make this distinction is because we are facing a new danger. So long as we had a strong and Tory House of Lords, so long no change was made until it has recommended itself to a Conservative body by having become the position of a large and recognised majority in this country. Such changes are safely made; the minority which is overridden is a small minority, and the danger of disturbance is small. We are going to face other and very different conditions when we sweep away that Second Chamber, and when we legislate on fundamental matters, upon which the people may feel deeply, by a bare majority of this House. We shall have then to face dangers to which, for many a long day, we have not been accustomed. There will be the danger of a great body of opinion in the country upon whom a hasty change is being forced, and who may honestly believe themselves an actual majority in the country when the House of Commons is forcing on them a change of which they do not approve. That is a great change which I am perfectly certain will drive us before long to make that distinction which we have made in the Constitution of our own self-governing Dominions, and which every foreign country has made, and a change which this Amendment indicates, and that is between the ordinary output of the legislative machinery and proposals for restricting the legislative machine itself.


I listened to the speech of the Prime Minister delivered a short time ago with astonishment. I must say I failed absolutely to understand the line of argument by which he endeavoured to demonstrate that the Constitution of this country was more to be found in the usage and practice and procedure of Parliament than in the great Statutes. He enumerated several great Statutes with which it has been the habit of hon. Members opposite, from time to time, to compare the Parliament Bill. I will cite as instances the Magna Charta and the Bill of Bights, both of which were referred to by the Prime Minister as embodying certain portions of the Constitution and constitutional law. I may say with regard to those measures, whatever the opinion of the right hon. Gentleman may be as to their relative importance, as expressing the Constitution of the country, in the opinion of Pitt they did constitute the Bible of the British Constitution. It has been argued from the other side that the Parliament Bill in itself was comparable to the great Charter or to the Bill of Bights. Without attributing that degree of magnitude to this measure, I at least feel that the Parliament Bill, if it be carried as it stands to-day, or even as Unionists in some respects would amend it, does undoubtedly represent one of those great fundamental changes in the Constitution of this country which may be comparable in a measure to the Charter and the Bill of Rights. While that view is held and argued continually by hon. Members opposite, we are told at the same time this afternoon by the Prime Minister that this measure, after all, is merely to be regarded as a means to an end, and as a portion of constitutional machinery for obtaining certain desirable ends. I submit, with all deference to the right hon. Gentleman, that that view of this measure, although it may to some extent be true, is not a fair and complete description of this Bill, because it does embody certain fundamental changes in the Constitution. On that ground, as an hon. Member on this side has pointed out, it is essential that in making a fundamental change of the sort you should embody by such an Amendment as he has moved, or by other Amendments which stand on the Paper, certain safeguards to the people of this country against the abuse of a measure of this sort.

So long as the Constitution of this country was to be merely a matter of procedure and usage, those safeguards were to a large extent unnecessary, but from the moment you begin to reduce the Constitution of this country to a written Constitution, as this Parliamentary Bill proposes to do, then it is perfectly obvious those safeguards must be inserted, and that unless they are inserted we shall be, through this House alone, or by the Cabinet of the day, more strictly speaking, the means, by no matter of how small a majority, to completely alter the Constitution of this country in the future. As every great civilised Power which has adopted a written Constitution has been careful to provide, even in the case of our own self-governing Dominions, provisions of this sort for protecting the nation from the abuse of power which such a measure as this confers, in so far as that has been necessary to the written Constitution of every other civilised Power, I say it is equally necessary to this country that those safeguards should find some place in this Bill. The refusal of the right hon. Gentleman to accord any countenance to Amendments of this character, not only gives rise to misgiving amongst hon. Members on this side, but will, when the significance of this position comes to be appreciated by the people of the country, rouse the very gravest misgivings throughout the country. The right hon. Gentleman this afternoon spoke openly in favour of what is nothing else than Single Chamber Government, while only the other day, when an Amendment was discussed which proposed that Finance Bills should not be sent to the House of Lords at all, the Prime Minister in that Debate objected to that Amendment because it was too revolutionary, and because he said it was desirable that we should have the advantage of the discussion of an important financial measure in the House of Lords, which he stated contained many eminent men whose opinions and advice were of the greatest value to the country. If that is so with regard to a Finance Bill, how much more so is it true of such measures as are dealt with in this second Clause. I must say that I cannot for a moment understand how the right hon. Gentleman can deny that this measure is of such a fundamental character as to embody to a very large extent a most important part of the constitution of this country in the future. That has been constantly urged by his own supporters, and it cannot for a moment be denied that the changes contemplated are of the most fundamental character. If, therefore, you are going to embody the constitution of the country in measures of this sort, and if it is to be a written constitution in the future, then assuredly no arguments have been adduced by hon. or right hon. Gentlemen opposite, or can be adduced, which will convince the people of this country that it is not necessary in that written constitution to insert at least moderate safeguards so that we shall not have organic changes made in this country merely by the exercise of the power of a small majority which may be at the disposal of the Cabinet of the day in the House of Commons.


I do not propose to detain the Committee at any great length after listening to the speech of the Prime Minister, in which he told us that the Government were going to refuse the next twenty-three Amendments without hearing any arguments either for or against. After that statement it would be more or less waste of time for us to discuss those Amendments. I think, when we hear that statement, we must also reflect on the great danger which will ensue when this House and the Cabinet are in control over the Government of the country. How can we talk about the great freedom of this House and the representative character of this House, if the Government who have control of the majority in this House can take their obsequious followers to support them without allowing any discussion on a great series of Amendments upon an important measure like this, and when they can veto them all at once in that way. I do not think that that is upholding the dignity of the House of Commons, which is now so necessary, as it is going to be the only force in the Government of the country. I rose not to draw attention to that fact, or to the Prime Minister's general statements, but to direct attention to one fact which, I think, has been overlooked, and which makes it very needful that this Amendment should be accepted. This Amendment, after all, does not in any way affect the principles which the Government presumably are aiming at in this measure. When we ask them to insert a provision that Parliament should not go on indefinitely it ought to be borne in mind that the state of Parliament in the future will be very different from what it is at this moment—that is to say, you are going to introduce a different class of Member into this House. Instead of having ordinary Members of Parliament, you are going to have professional politicians—that is to say, you are going to pay Members of this House. Surely, if you are going to pay Members of this House, it is only right and proper that you should introduce into your Bill a provision preventing Members prolonging the existence of Parliament, and therefore of their salaries to an indefinite extent. The Prime Minister said the safeguard which the country had against the House of Commons prolonging its existence is in the character of Parliament. I venture to say you are striking a very heavy blow at the character of Parliament when you propose to pay Members. You are putting a very great and unnecessary temptation on those Members when you allow them the opportunity, not only of increasing their salaries to an indefinite amount, and an Amendment to stop that was refused yesterday or the day before, but you are also giving them the additional temptation of safeguarding for themselves a comfortable income for life. For that reason, which I think is an eminently practical one, I would respectfully urge on the Government to accept that Amendment.


I do not propose to follow or range over the same wide field travelled by the Prime Minister and subsequent speakers this evening. I shall endeavour to confine myself not merely to the Amendment which my hon. Friend did not move, but to the actual Amendment which he did move. I should like to comment upon one of the contentions of the Prime Minister with regard to the great difficulty of framing a written Constitution in this country. He drew a comparison between two great sources of English liberties—

And, it being a Quarter-past Eight of the clock, and there being Private Business set down by direction of the Chairman of Ways and Means, under Standing Order No. 8, further Proceeding was postponed without Question put.