§ (1) If a Money Bill, having been passed by the House of Commons, and sent up to 1030 the House of Lords at least one month before the end of the Session, is not passed by the House of Lords without Amendment within one month after it is so sent up to that House, the Bill shall, unless the House of Commons direct to the contrary, be presented to His Majesty and become an Act of Parliament on the Royal Assent 1031 being signified, notwithstanding that the House of Lords have not consented to the Bill.
§ (2) A Money Bill means a public Bill which in the opinion of the Speaker of the House of Commons contains only provisions dealing with all or any of the following subjects, namely, the imposition, repeal, remission, alteration, or regulation of taxation; the imposition for the payment of debt or other financial purposes of charges on the Consolidated Fund, or on money provided by Parliament, or the variation or repeal of any such charges; supply; the appropriation, receipt, custody, issue or audit of accounts of public money; the raising or guarantee of any loan or the repayment thereof; or subordinate matters incidental to those subjects or any of them. In this Subsection the expressions "taxation," "public money," and "loan" respectively do not include any taxation, money, or loan raised by local authorities or bodies for local purposes.
§ (3) There shall be endorsed on every Money Bill when it is sent up to the House of Lords and when it is presented to His Majesty for assent the certificate of the Speaker of the House of Commons signed by him that it is a Money Bill.
§ Lords Amendment: In Sub-section (2) leave out the words, "Speaker of the House of Commons" and insert the words "Joint Committee."
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
I beg to move, "That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment."
I have to state that the Government will propose a consequential Amendment to be inserted at the end of Sub-section (3) as follows: "Before giving his certificate the Speaker shall consult, if practicable, the Chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means and the Chairman of the Committee of Public Accounts."
I wish your ruling, Mr. Speaker, whether on the question that the House disagree with the Lords Amendment we should take the Debate now rather than on the Amendment which the Government propose to substitute.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I think we ought to deal, first of all, with the Lords Amendment inserting the words "Joint Committee," and afterwards take a Debate on the other Amendment.
This will involve two Debates. As I understand the matter the Government have so far conceded the arguments which were used in this House and the other House that they do not mean to ask the Speaker of this House, unassisted and without any person to confer with him, to decide the questions of the moment and magnitude involved in the decisions to be given as to Money Bills. So far so good. Whether the suggestion of the House of Lords is the best that could be made I do not express an opinion, but I say it is far better than the Government suggestion. The Government ask this House to be the judges in their own case on a matter in which they are not alone interested. The Home Secretary, I think, stated that this House has always been jealous of its privileges in connection with finance, and he seemed to regard it as a necessary corollary of that view that the House of Commons authorities alone should be allowed to express an opinion as to whether a measure did or did not go beyond the true province of finance. I think we are all agreed that a Bill may appear to be a financial Bill, though it may not really be a financial one. We are all agreed that "tacking" is a gross violation of the privileges of the Second Chamber. We are also agreed that there might be a Bill not open to the technical charge of tacking, but which might contain provisions which would substantially and morally amount to tacking.
It has been said that substantial and moral tacking in a form of interference with the privileges of the Second Chamber which should not be countenanced. Therefore we are all agreed as to the aim we have in this matter. The only question is as to the best means of carrying out our object. I venture to say in the first place that the Committee the Government propose is not nearly strong enough to deal with the matters which will come up for decision. I also suggest that the Committee proposed in the Bill as amended by the Lords is far stronger as an impartial committee, and I say it is one on which there is no probability whatever that the rights of this House will suffer any diminution, injury, or wrong. It would be a serious thing if at the moment when we are attempting to lay down what the rights are of the House of Lords in regard to finance we should not have a tribunal which can adequately command the general confidence of the country. Everybody knows what the real difficulty under- 1033 lying this matter is. The real difficulty underlying the whole subject is that you cannot formulate in absolute and precise legal terms what a Money Bill is so that any man looking at a Bill can decide whether it does or does not include "tacking provisions." That can only be decided by commonsense. and by moderate, instructed and impartial opinion. I believe that impartiality in the sense of the elimination of all party prejudice is almost impossible, for nearly every man belongs to one party or another, but I venture to suggest that you can generally secure this application of commonsense and statesmanlike judgment as to whether a Bill does or does not go over the line which divides moral tacking from purely technical tacking. In order to do that you must go to a tribunal more strongly constituted than that the Government propose as an alternative. It is impossible to throw that burden on the Speaker. I am quite certain, and I think everybody is quite certain, that that would be an unworkable system. I do venture to suggest that the Government are making a great mistake if they do not suggest a stronger tribunal than that which they propose, and one which does not make the House of Commons too obviously and too purely the sole judge in its own case. This tribunal, apart from that consideration, seems to me far weaker than the tribunal which was passed by the other House.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition has raised an important question which is in controversy, and which is more directly raised on this particular Amendment, which this House has now to consider. That is to say whether or not a Bill the main governing purpose of which is held by the Committee not to be to impose taxation shall be held not to be a Financial Bill. If the right hon. Gentleman desires that the Debate on the second Amendment should be taken at the same time as the Debate on the first, possibly that may be the more convenient course, because if this second Amendment is omitted, as we shall ask the House disagree with it, then a great part of the right hon. Gentleman's argument will fall to the ground. If, on the other hand, his argument is to be countered by us, then it will be necessary to discuss the second Amendment of the House of Lords.
Sir HENRY DALZIEL
I would like to ask, Sir, whether in your view it would be more convenient to discuss the proposals 1034 now before the House. I would suggest that it would be more convenient if the House were to have a general discussion of the whole question.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
It would not be possible to discuss in this Amendment the nature of the Committee which the Government have suggested to assist the Speaker. I do not think that would be possible, because that suggestion when it conies up will be open to amendment. Therefore, I do not think it would be possible to make any Amendment in this. I understood the Postmaster-General to ask me whether this first Amendment, together with the second, ought to be discussed together. I think they do stand or fall together, and I think it is impossible to avoid discussing them together.
Sir H. DALZIEL
I should like to ask the Government one or two questions on this matter. In the first place, I hope they will be able to give us a much more extended explanation than anyone has yet done as to the change of attitude with regard to this important matter, because some of us were content to be silent during the debates on this matter some weeks ago, and although some of us had open minds on the matter, we were fully convinced by the speeches of the Prime Minister and the Postmaster-General that no case was made out for any suggestion of any kind of Committee. I could quote the Postmaster-General or the Prime Minister OH this point. They made it perfectly clear that the opinion of the Government was that no case for a Committee had been made out, that the matter had been fully considered and that the result of the consideration was that the Government could not in any circumstances entertain the suggestion for a Committee. The hon. Member for Kingston (Mr. Cave) brought the matter forward and made a very persuasive speech and spent the greater part of an evening discussing this question of a Committee. What has happened to make the Government change their minds? Can it be that they are listening to any demand made by the other House with a view to compromise or conciliation? Because this suggestion is not made from the other House. It is not even suggested that ex-Speaker Lord Peel supported it in the other House.
As I understand the suggestion of the Government is that there shall be a Committee of two in addition to Mr. Speaker who shall be consulted when practicable. 1035 That is a very vague phrase, "when practicable." I imagine that it is intended to get over the strong position taken by the Government when the question was last put before us that it would not be possible to consult the Committee, and that, even if you appointed it, a situation might arise unexpectedly when there would be no opportunity of calling the Committee together or taking its advice or consulting it in any way. Therefore, I suppose, "when practicable" is intended to get over the emergency of a sudden point of Order arising when Mr. Speaker would have to decide the question himself. For my part, unless there are strong reasons given by the Government I shall continue to hold to the position which they themselves have abandoned, that is, that Mr. Speaker himself is a qualified authority to determine whether or not the Bill is a Financial Bill. Our whole case has been that there is no increased responsibility placed on Mr. Speaker, that Mr. Speaker has had this power of prescribing what is a Money Bill practically throughout the whole tenure of the office of Speakership, and that therefore we were not placing any new or great responsibility on the Chair in deciding this matter. But if the Government have come round to the question of a Committee they might also tell us why in another place two representatives of the Government, Lord Haldane and Lord Morley, subsequently to the speech of Mr. ex-Speaker Peel, said they would not entertain the question of a Committee. I submit that those of us who have followed the Government throughout the whole of this Bill without taking up any unnecessary time are entitled to some kind of explanation. Why are we asked to swallow a policy which the Government have hitherto opposed, and why have the Government been induced to alter the decision?
Why have the Government selected the Chairman of Ways and Means and the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee as those whom the Speaker shall consult when practicable? Surely no one will say that that is a tribunal that is strong in a matter of that kind. My personal view is that in a case of difficulty Mr. Speaker should call into consultation the best heads in the House who would be able to give him the best assistance. While the Chairman of Ways and Means is a clever, impartial authority, surely it cannot be said of the respected Member for 1036 West Dorset (Colonel Williams) because of the position which he occupies as the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee that he has a very close knowledge of House of Commons procedure. The Chairman of the Kitchen Committee would be as desirable as the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee. [An Hon. MEMBER: "A far better man."] Therefore I say we are entitled to know what are the considerations which have induced the Government to alter their position and their policy? I do not see that they are going to get any advantage from it. The "Morning Post" tells them this morning that the mere fact that they are going to bring forward Amendments at this eleventh hour is a sign that the forwards in a Conservative party are frightening the Government. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition has not accepted any compromise they have offered. Why, therefore, did they ask us, for no reason whatever, to alter the position of a few weeks ago, when no case for such alteration has been or can be made out?
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
I may point out to my hon. Friend that the proposal which the Government are now asking the House to accept is a very different proposal indeed from the Committee on which the Speaker would have, one vote among several which was previously laid before the House. But before I do so I think it is desirable, after what you, Sir. have said and what the Leader of the Opposition has said as to the somewhat larger question in the remarks which he has addressed to the House, to deal with the second Amendment of the House of Lords which it is clear may be taken in conjunction with the first Amendment, and which raises a considerably larger question.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
On the point of Order. I submit that the question of the second Amendment does not properly arise now. The second Amendment is merely the question of how you define a Money Bill. The Bill as it left this House contained a particular definition of a Money Bill. The House of Lords altered that. What we are now discussing is, what is the tribunal to determine the question of a Money Bill. The question of a definition of a Money Bill does not arise necessarily when you are discussing the question of the tribunal.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
The nature of the tribunal must depend upon the task which it has to perform in matters submitted to its judgment. If the tribunal has to determine merely whether or not a Bill conforms to the terms of the definition at present in the Parliament Bill, then one tribunal may be adequate. But if it has to perform a far more difficult and much wider task, namely, to determine whether or not the main governing purpose of a Bill is financial or not, then you may require a different tribunal, and the Leader of the Opposition based his defence of the Committee proposed by the House of Lords on the ground that it is necessary to have some body which is competent to decide whether or not you are engaged on moral tacking. That is to say, whether or not the Bill is one which, under the guise of a Finance Bill, is really a political measure dealing with other matters which have been put into it. The Leader of the Opposition, in deciding whether the two Amendments should be taken as one, asked the opinion of Mr. Speaker as to whether it would be for the convenience of the House to take the two Amendments together? If, however, it would suit the convenience of the Leader of the Opposition to consider the question of the Committee first and the question of moral tacking afterwards there would not be difficulty in separating the two Amendments if it would meet the desire of the Leader of the Opposition.
I do see some difficulty in discussing the character of the tribunal until you determine what the tribunal has got to deal with. If the tribunal has nothing of real importance to deal with it matters very little how it is constituted. If, on the other hand, it has got to do duties of a grave character, then its constition becomes of first-class importance. Therefore, it does seem to me that it is rather difficult to deal with them apart, although I quite appreciate the inconvenience of keeping them together. I would imagine that the suggestion of Mr. Speaker is the best, and that we ought to keep them together.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
The second Amendment uses the words "but if, in the opinion of the Joint Committee." Therefore, that would hang on to the first Amendment, and would have to stand or fall by the first Amendment.
§ Mr. ARTHUR HENDERSON
Do I understand you to rule that we can only discuss the House of Lords Amendments, and not the substitution of the Joint Committee which the Home Secretary announced?
§ Mr. SPEAKER
I think that it would be better to discuss these Amendments first, and when the Government Amendment is proposed to set up a Joint Committee to assist the Speaker then to treat that as a separate Amendment. The two Amendments, it seems to me, do hang together and are quite apart from the other one.
§ 8.0 P.M.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
I think we are all at one in desiring to discuss these two questions together, and when we get rid of the Amendment as to a Joint Committee we will discuss the Government Amendment afterwards. I would ask hon. Members to look at the very important Amendment which stands second on the Paper, the purpose of which is as follows:—
"But, if in the opinion of the Joint Committee, the main governing purpose of a Bill imposing taxation, or of any portion of a Bill imposing taxation, is not purely financial in character, the Bill, or such portion thereof as aforesaid, shall be subject to the provisions of Section 2 of this Act."
If such a provision were inserted in the Act it would be necessary for the tribunal such as is proposed, to enter not into the nature of a Bill as expressed upon the face of it, but into the motives that have animated the introducers of the Bill, and they will have to form a judgment as to what "the main governing purpose" of the Bill is. Obviously, as soon as you apply any crude test to this proposal it appears immediately to be utterly impracticable. A more fantastic proposal it is difficult to conceive. Let us take a concrete case. Let us suppose that hon. Members opposite are in power, and that the first Bill they introduce is a Bill in the ordinary form of a Money Bill, which contains a provision that there shall be a tax on foreign corn to the extent of 2s. a quarter. It may be said that no conflict would be likely to arise if hon. Members opposite were here on these benches, and since no conflict would occur between the two Houses, this matter would not be referred to the Joint Committee for decision. But that is not 1039 so, because every Money Bill that goes to the House of Lords must have on its face the certificate of the Speaker that this is a Money Bill, and it would be necessary, therefore, that this problem should be put to the Speaker as representing the Joint Committee — should be put to the Joint Committee in order that the Speaker may certify if the Bill is a Money Bill or not. Therefore, the very first question which this Joint Committee would have to decide would be whether or not the main governing purpose of imposing a 2s. tax on corn is financial or is not. How is any tribunal to decide a problem of that kind? The purpose is not to be found in the words. The only document they would have before them would be the putting of a tax of 2s. a quarter on corn. How are they to say whether the purpose of that proposal is to unite the Empire, to encourage agriculture, or merely to raise the revenue which the 2s. tax will yield. Imagine such a law in force. Imagine the 1s. duty on corn which was imposed by the Conservative Government of that day coining before the Joint Committee charged with the duty of determining whether the main governing purpose of imposing that 1s. duty was to raise revenue or whether it was to encourage British agriculture, or for any other secondary and less direct purpose. Probably the main governing purpose of the Chancellor of the Exchequer of that day (Sir Michael Hicks Beach) was to raise revenue, but if the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Birmingham were asked what was his main governing purpose in supporting the imposition of a duty on corn, he might give an entirely opposite answer.
It appears from remarks that were made in the other House that the authors of this Amendment considered that a Joint Committee, not being a court of law, could properly consider not only the actual text of the Bill, but the facts and circumstances which attend its introduction. Therefore the Joint Committee would be compelled to investigate the individual views of individual statesmen who propose particular forms of taxation in order that they might arrive at an opinion whether or not the main governing purpose of the tax is purely financial or not. Take another case, the Budget of 1909. It is alleged that the imposition of the duty of 3s. 9d. on whisky was not merely for the purpose of raising revenue, but was also intended to have a temperance effect, to 1040 discourage the drinking of spirits. The Committee would be called upon under this Amendment to decide that question, and everything would depend upon their decision. If they decided that the 3s. 9d. was not a purely financial measure, then the House of Lords would be at liberty to reject the Bill, and we should have all the turmoil of a General Election. [An Hon. MEMBER: "NO."] Yes; the Budget must be passed in the year, and a general election would be the only way out of the difficulty. If, on the other hand, the Joint Committee of six men consider the 3s. 9d. is purely a financial measure the Bill may go on its way rejoicing. At what point are you to say that taxation ceases to be financial? Sir Michael Hicks Beach, in the year 1900, put a duty of 6d. on spirits. That clearly was a financial measure. If you were to say that the Duty of 3s. 9d. was not a financial measure, but a temperance measure, at what point between 6d. and 3s. 9d. is the Committee to declare that the main governing purpose of the tax is not purely financial. Take again the Licence Duties in the Budget of 1909. Mr. Gladstone imposed a Licence Duty in 1881 which brought in nearly half a million of money. My right hon. Friend's tax, imposed two years ago, brought in about two millions of money. No one challenged the Licence Duty of 1881 as other than a proper form of financial legislation. Where are you to say, between the half million and the two million, that legislation of that character ceases to be purely financial? Hon. Members opposite probably will say. You must look at the motive of those who introduced the legislation.
But if you could point to the speech by the Lord Advocate, who said that if the Licence Bill were, rejected there was an alternative in the form of swinging taxation, then you may say that the motive or the main governing purpose of the Bill is not financial, but is a temperance measure or is a measure of predatory confiscation, or whatever you like to call it. Imagine once more the position, in which this body of six gentlemen, who, it is assumed, are to perform a quasi legal task, will be placed. They will have to examine the Lord Advocate's speech; they will have to go into recondite questions as to the statement of the Lord Advocate, and how far his declarations really bind the Government. They would have to hear the Lord Advocate on his own defence in order to determine whether or not his remarks were intended as a threat, or where intended really as a prophecy. This kind 1041 of duty, with an Amendment of this character inserted in the Bill, would be inevitably cast upon this unfortunate Joint Committee. Obviously when a measure is examined in the concrete, and not merely in a world of vague generalisation, it is found that no tribunal can possibly declare by looking at it whether or not its main governing purpose is financial or is not. Every financial measure has some social and political effect. Every tax you like to impose has directly or indirectly some effect upon the social and economic position of a particular class. The Death Duties, now regarded as being an ordinary and proper device of the fiscal art, might be pushed to such a point that they would become confiscatory and oppressive. But how could anyone say at any particular moment whether or not a given scale of Death Duties is or is not to be considered purely financial. In the Budget of 1894 it was considered at that time that the Death Duties were very oppressive, but now they are regarded as an ordinary part of our fiscal system. So it will be with the graduated Income Tax and with many other measures. I must apologise for detaining the House at such length, but I am dealing now with the two Amendments.
It will be urged by hon. Members opposite that these words, "The main governing purpose," were taken from a speech of the Prime Minister, but he was then dealing, as anyone can see who examines his speech, with entirely different circumstances. He was dealing with a Bill like the Education Bill by way of illustration. He said it had been argued that since certain financial provisions formed part of the Education Bill of 1902 it might be held, under the Parliament Bill, that that brought the whole measure within the category of Money Bills, which were excluded from the House of Lords by Clause 1 of our Bill. He said that that was not so, and that you must take into account whether the main governing purpose of the Bill was financial or not. Another illustration that was given was the measure creating two new judges, and charging on the Consolidated Fund their salaries. He was asked, is it the case that because the, charge is laid upon the Consolidated Fund therefore this Bill would come within Clause 1 of the Parliament Bill as a Money Bill. His answer was no, and that clearly the main governing purpose of the Bill was to create two new judges. He never made any suggestion that you either could or ought to empower any tribunal or person to examine or decide whether a given tax 1042 was imposed, not to bring in revenue, or whether it was imposed so as to handicap or prejudice in their business particular taxpayers. Such a task would be an impossible one to impose on any tribunal, as I have taken pains to argue.
These are the reasons we must ask the House to reject the second Amendment, and these are the reasons why it is unnecessary to have any Joint Committee to deal with this particular aspect of the question. If we accepted the second Amendment, this measure, which is designed to protect the powers of the House of Commons in matters of finance, would act as an invasion of our existing powers, and would give the House of Lords larger scope in matters of financial legislation than ever they had in the past. For the more modest purposes which are included in Clause 1 of our Bill, I do not think that any hon. Member opposite would actually argue that it is essential to have the Joint Committee which is proposed by the House of Lords. Certainly, this House could not assent to its financial privileges being placed in the hands of that Committee. It would consist of the Lord Chairman of Committees, of the Lord Chancellor, of one of the legal Members of the House of Lords, and from this side of Mr. Speaker, of the Chairman of Committees, and of a Member of the House, chosen by the Speaker. If the Conservative party were in power they would naturally have the Lord Chancellor first a member of their party; the Chairman of Committees in this House belongs by custom to the Ministerial party, and the Lord Chairman in the other House has always been a Member of the Conservative party. As to the Law Lords and other legal Members of the House of Lords, they are as two to one Members of the Conservative party, and it may be assumed that the fourth member of the Committee would also be a Member of the Conservative party. So that in those circumstances they would have four Gentlemen drawn from the ranks of the Conservative party, while on our side there would be only one Liberal Member, who might or might not be selected to serve upon the Committee. I leave out, of course, the Speaker, who may be assumed to be wholly impartial. If, on the other hand, a Liberal Government were in power we should be able, and we should have on the Committee two Members, the Lord Chancellor and the-Chairman of Committees. The Opposition 1043 would have the Lord Chairman, the Law Lord and a Member of the House chosen from the Opposition, so that in all cases the Liberal representatives would be in a minority on this Committee which is charged with such large powers. I do not deny that the other House in all probability have endeavoured to find an impartial tribunal. I do not make any suggestion that the composition of this Committee is designedly such as to give it a partial character. I do claim the effect of it will be, however much the Members of this Committee may endeavour to keep an open mind and to approach these problems with an impartial spirit, since the questions they would have to decide are not mere matters of interpretation, but are matters of opinion and deal with questions raising great issues, the inevitable result would be that party feeling would enter into their deliberations. Those are therefore the reasons why I must ask the House to disagree with both of the first two Amendments of the House of Lords.
§ Sir ROBERT FINLAY
I desire to make a very few observations upon both points to which the speech of the right hon. Gentleman has been directed. In the first place there is the point whether we should have a Joint Committee, the Speaker having a casting vote, or whether we should leave the whole matter to the Speaker with or without advice. On that point I desire to submit to the House that the Lords Amendments give effect, as the proposal of the Government does not, to the very weighty observations which were made in the House of Lords by Lord Peel, who spoke with all the authority of a great Speaker of the House of Commons. It is no use for the right hon. Gentleman and his colleagues to say that the Speaker has hitherto decided these matters in the House of Commons. That is perfectly true, but he has decided them only for the House of Commons, and his ruling did not in the slightest degree bind anybody except the House of which he is the Chairman. That has been his function. Now you are proposing to do something quite different and to set up a tribunal whose decision is to bind not only this House but also the other House. Surely right hon. Gentlemen opposite must recognise that under those circumstances it is perfectly idle to appeal to the fact that when this House only was concerned in the past the Speaker was the tribunal to decide such questions.
1044 I do not go over the objections which were stated by Lord Peel, and which were also stated in this House, to throwing this duty upon the Speaker. There are many objections, they have been forcibly stated by Lord Peel, and I am quite sure his speech has not escaped the attention of any Member of this House. I do submit to the House that the Lords Amendments give effect to the position taken up by Lord Peel, and that it would be a great mistake to go back to the crude proposal of the Government that the Speaker shall decide these matters. With regard to the other matter to which the right hon. Gentleman directed his observations, he said it was really impossible for the Committee to decide what the main governing purpose of a Bill was. The Prime Minister used the words, as the right hon. Gentleman stated, which are reproduced substantially in this Amendment. He was referring to measures such as the Education Bill and the Licensing Bill and Bills of that kind, and what he said was this, that the test whether a Bill is a Financial Bill or not is whether that is its main governing purpose. Those are the words substantially of the second Amendment which has come down from the Lords.
§ Sir R. FINLAY
We are not discussing what materials the Committee is to take into account. The argument of the right hon. Gentleman was that it was impossible to say what the main governing purpose of a Bill was. The right hon. Gentleman argued that to say whether the main governing purpose was or was not financial, that the test suggested by the Prime Minister himself was one perfectly incapable of application. That really was the whole argument of the right hon. Gentleman. I admit that cases occur and many cases might be suggested which are nearer the line and which might be on the borderline, but there are many cases with regard to which the tribunal would not have the slightest difficulty in saying that the Bill was on one side of the line or the other. Take the case, and I am not suggesting it is a probable case, of a measure which proposed that the holder of a living in the Established Church paid 20s. in the £ taxation. That would be a financial measure——
§ Sir R. FINLAY
That is another point. I would ask the right hon. Gentleman to apply his mind to the illustration I am 1045 giving of a proposal to tax the holder of a living in the Established Church 20s. in the £ upon the salary which he derives. Would that be a financial measure? I await with interest the reply of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. I note he requires to take a little time to answer the question.
§ Sir R. FINLAY
As the right hon. Gentleman declines to answer the question until he has had time, to consider the subject, I propose to say only this, that it is perfectly obvious that no tribunal would have the slightest difficulty in saying that that was not a financial measure. It is in the garb of a financial measure, but it has a different object, namely, the Disendowment of the Church. Many illustrations might be given. Take a subject which excited very great interest in past generations, and one on which the country was most acutely divided, namely, as to whether there should be a standing Army in time of peace or not. According to this Bill, in the form the Government have prepared it, a measure providing funds for the setting up of a standing Army in time of peace could not have been dealt with by the House of Lords because that would be purely a financial measure. I say to put in an anachronism of that kind is preposterous, and that it is a complete mistake to suppose that any infringement of the privileges of this House such as this House has enjoyed in the past would be created by saying that where a measure, though financial in character, has for its main purpose something which is not financial, then the House of Lords are at liberty to deal with it. There is another illustration which can be taken from the present time. I will not go into it because it might be anticipating a Debate which we may have in the course of a few days, namely, the question of the Payment of Members. Is that a purely financial question? I commend that question to the attention of the Chancellor of the Exchequer after he answers the other question I put to him——
§ Sir R. FINLAY
That matter is one which involves large questions of public policy, and yet it might be sent up in the form of a financial measure. The policy of the Government is to make it impossible 1046 for the Lords to have any say on questions of public policy involved in such matters. I say that the whole line of argument which the right hon. Gentleman has adopted is a mistaken one. It is very easy to say that it is difficult to draw a line precisely, and for any tribunal to say with perfect ease that this or that case is on the one side or the other. I most respectfully submit that the Government are making a mistake in endeavouring, not to preserve the old privileges of the House, but unduly to extend them by enabling this House under the guise of financial measures to promote ends which are purely political.
The Postmaster-General explained to the House how very difficult it would be for the proposed Joint Committee to come to any decision as to what was or was not finance, or as to what amounted to "tacking." But all his arguments really went to show that if it would be difficult for a Joint Committee, it would be much more difficult for the Speaker unaided. It is important to press this point at the present moment, because there is already a movement on the benches opposite, led by the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy(Sir H. Dalziel) to take away the help which the Government themselves are inclined to give to the Speaker. We do not consider that the proposal of the Government is adequate, but we hope the Government will adhere to it, as it would at any rate, give the Speaker some assistance, and that they will not be frightened from it by the hon. Member, who apparently has not very much support.
§ Mr. PETO
I am glad to hear the Postmaster-General, at any rate, give more reasons than the Home Secretary thought fit to give for the course the Government propose to take. Those reasons seem to divide themselves into three classes—first, the Postmaster-General objects to the term "the main governing principle." The term was selected by the Prime Minister, who is certainly acknowledged on both sides to be a master in selecting the exact words necessary to express his meaning, and those words have been adopted in another place as wise words for this Amendment. If the Postmaster-General thinks that they are not apt, if he thinks it is perfectly impossible for any Committee, no matter how constituted, to decide what is "the main governing purpose" of a measure, that is an excellent reason for suggesting some other words; but it is no reason for doing away with any Committee 1047 whatever and entirely negativing the Lords Amendment. The right hon. Gentleman then proceeded to put a number of hard cases, in which he said it would be difficult for anyone to come to a decision. No one disputes that there will inevitably be very hard cases. Hard cases can be quoted in connection with the legislation of the last few years, in which it would be exceedingly difficult for anyone to decide whether a measure fell on one side of the line or on the other. We quite admit that that would apply to the Death Duties, or to a case taken by the right hon. Gentleman of the shilling registration tax on wheat, where one hon. Member might think that the main governing purpose was one thing and another another. But the harder the case propounded, the stronger is the argument for the best and most representative Committee of the greatest possible experience that can be set up for the assistance of Mr. Speaker.
The only other substantial argument of the Postmaster-General was with reference to the constitution of the proposed tribunal. He said that in one case it would be three to two and in another four to one in favour of the policy represented by hon. Members on this side of (ho House. If that is true, it is an
§ excellent reason for modifying the composition of the tribunal, or for proposing some other tribunal which would be still more impartial and still better fitted to carry out this extremely difficult task; but again it is no argument whatever for saying that there shall be no Committee at all to assist Mr. Speaker. The harder the case to be decided the more important it is to have a carefully selected, absolutely representative, and wholly impartial tribunal. It is a most extraordinary thing that, in regard to this Amendment, which has been considered by some of the best heads in either House of Parliament, the Government have nothing to put forward except what I cannot but regard as somewhat captious criticism of detail. They have no offer whatever to make of any alternative plan. They propose to leave the matter, so far as this Amendment is concerned, to the exclusive decision of Mr. Speaker, to bring him out of the sphere which he has always filled in this House with such distinction, and to throw upon him duties which will inevitably render him liable to the severe criticism of whatever party is dissatisfied with his decision.
§ Question put, "That the House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 289; Noes, 145.1051
|Division No. 311.]||AYES.||[8.34 p.m.|
|Abraham, Rt. Hon. William (Rhondda)||Clancy, John Joseph||Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)|
|Abraham, William (Dublin Harbour)||Clough, William||Essex, Richard Walter|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Clynes, John R.||Farrell, James Patrick|
|Adamson, William||Collins, Godfrey P. (Greenock)||Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles|
|Addison, Dr. Christopher||Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Ffrench, Peter|
|Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbarton)||Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Field, William|
|Allen, Charles Peter (Stroud)||Condon, Thomas Joseph||Fitzgibbon, John|
|Armitage, R.||Cotton, William Francis||Flavin, Michael Joseph|
|Atherley-Jones, Llewellyn A||Cowan, W. H.||Furness, Stephen|
|Baker, Harold T. (Accrington)||Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Gelder, Sir W. A.|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||Crean, Eugene||George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Crooks, William||Gibson, Sir James P.|
|Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.)||Crumley, Patrick||Gilhooly, James|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Cullinan, J.||Gill, Alfred Henry|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Dalziel, Sir James H. (Kirkcaldy)||Glanville, H. J.|
|Bentham, George J.||Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford|
|Bethell, Sir J. H.||Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Goldstone, Frank|
|Black, Arthur W.||Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Greenwood, Granville G. (Peterborough)|
|Boland, John Pius||Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Greenwood, Hamar (Sunderland)|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan)||Greig, Colonel James William|
|Bowerman, Charles W.||Dawes, James Arthur||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward|
|Boyle, D. (Mayo, N.)||De Forest, Baron||Griffith, Ellis J.|
|Brace, William||Delany, William||Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset. E.)|
|Brady, P. J.||Devlin, Joseph||Guiney, P.|
|Brocklehurst, William B.||Dillon, John||Gulland, John W.|
|Brunner, J. F. L.||Donelan, Capt. A.||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)|
|Bryce, John Annan||Doris, William||Hackett, John|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Duffy, William J.||Hall, Frederick (Normanton)|
|Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, N.)||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Hancock, J. G.|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. S. C. (Poplar)||Edwards, Enoch Hanley||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale)|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)|
|Cameron, Robert||Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid)||Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Cawley, Harold T. (Heywood)||Elibank, Rt. Hon. Master of||Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds.)|
|Chancellor, H. G.||Elverston, Sir Harold||Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire)|
|Chapple, Dr. W. A.||Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||Harvey, A. G C. (Rochdale)|
|Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, W.)||Marks, Sir George Croydon||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)|
|Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N.E.)||Marshall, Arthur Harold||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Harwood, George||Masterman, C. F. G.||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||Meagher, Michael||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)|
|Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)|
|Haworth, Sir Arthur A.||Meehan, Patrick A. (Queen's Co.)||Robinson, Sidney|
|Hayden, John Patrick||Middlebrook, William||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)|
|Hayward, Evan||Millar, James Duncan||Roche, Augustine (Louth)|
|Healy, Maurice (Cork)||Molloy, Michael||Roche, John (Galway, E.)|
|Healy, Timothy Michael (Cork, East)||Molteno, Percy Alport||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Helme, Norval Watson||Mond, Sir Alfred||Rowntree, Arnold|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Money, L. G. Chiozza||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor||Montagu, Hon. E. S.||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Higham, John Sharp||Mooney, John J.||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)|
|Hinds, John||Morgan, George Hay||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Hodge, John||Morrell, Philip||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)|
|Holt, Richard Durning||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Horne, C. Silvester (Ipswich)||Muldoon, John||Sheehy, David|
|Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Munro, Robert||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Hudson, Walter||Munro-Ferguson, Rt. Hon. R. C.||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)|
|Hughes, Spencer Leigh||Murray, Capt. Hon. Arthur C.||Smith, H. B. L. (Northampton)|
|Illingworth, Percy H.||Needham, Christopher T.||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus||Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncaster)||Snowden, Philip|
|John, Edward Thomas||Nolan, Joseph||Stanley, Albert (Staffs., N. W.)|
|Johnson, William||Norton, Capt. Cecil W.||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
|Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)||Nugent, Sir Walter Richard||Sutton, J. E.|
|Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth)||Nuttall, Harry||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Jones, Leif Stratten (Notts, Rushcliffe)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Tennant, Harold John|
|Jones, W. S. Glyn- (Stepney)||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Jowett, Frederick William||O'Doherty, Philip||Thorne, William (West Ham)|
|Joyce, Michael||O'Donnell, Thomas||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Kellaway, Frederick George||O'Dowd, John||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Kelly, Edward||Ogden, Fred||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Kennedy, Vincent Paul||O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)||Verney, Sir Harry|
|Kilbride, Denis||O'Malley, William||Wadsworth, John|
|King, Joseph (Somerset, North)||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)||Walsh, J. (Cork, South)|
|Lamb, Ernest Henry||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)|
|Lambert, George (Devon, S. Molton)||O'Shee, James John||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||O'Sullivan, Timothy||Wardle, George J.|
|Lansbury, George||Palmer, Godfrey Mark||Webb, H.|
|Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||Parker, James (Halifax)||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rld, Cockerm'th)||Pearce, William (Limehouse)||White, Sir Luke (York, E.R.)|
|Leach, Charles||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Levy, Sir Maurice||Philips, John (Longford, S.)||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Lewis, John Herbert||Pointer, Joseph||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Low, Sir F. (Norwich)||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Whyte, A. F. (Perth)|
|Lyell, Charles Henry||Power, Patrick Joseph||Wiles, Thomas|
|Lynch, Arthur Harold||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)||Williams, John (Glamorgan)|
|Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)||Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)|
|McGhee, Richard||Pringle, William M. R.||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Radford, George Heynes||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)|
|MacNeill, John G. S. (Donegal, South)||Raffan, Peter Wilson||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Macpherson, James Ian||Rea, Rt. Hon Russell (South Shields)||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glas.)|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)||Young, Samuel (Cavan, E.)|
|M'Callum, John M.||Reddy, Michael||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|M'Kean, John||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|M'Laren, H. D. (Leices.)||Redmond, William (Clare, E.)|
|M'Micking, Major Gilbert||Rendall, Athelstan||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Dudley Ward and Mr. Wedgwood Benn.|
|Manfield, Harry||Richards, Thomas|
|Markham, Sir Arthur Basil||Richardson, Albion (Peckham)|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Boles, Lieut.-Col. Dennis Fortescue||Chambers, J.|
|Amery, L. C. M. S.||Boyle, W. L. (Norfolk, Mid)||Clay, Capt. H. H. Spender|
|Anson, Rt. Hon. Sir William R.||Bridgeman, W. Clive||Coates, Major Sir Edward Feetham|
|Ashley, W. W.||Bull, Sir William James||Cooper, Richard Ashmole|
|Astor, Waldorf||Burn, Colonel C. R.||Courthope, George Loyd|
|Baker, Sir Randolf L. (Dorset, N.)||Butcher, John George||Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)|
|Balcarres, Lord||Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. H. M.||Croft, H. P.|
|Baring, Maj. Hon. Guy V. (Winchester)||Campion, W. R.||Dairymple, Viscount|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott|
|Barnston, H.||Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H.||Dixon, Charles Harvey|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Cassel, Felix||Duke, Henry Edward|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Castlereagh, Viscount||Eyres-Monsell, Bolton M.|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Cator, John||Faber, George Denison (Clapham)|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Cautley, H. S.||Faber, Capt. W. V. (Hants, W.)|
|Bennett-Goldney, Francis||Cave, George||Fell, Arthur|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish||Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University)||Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey|
|Beresford, Lord C.||Chaloner, Col. R. G. W.||Finlay, Sir Robert|
|Bigland, Alfred||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worc'r.)||Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes|
|Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue||Kyffin-Taylor, G.||Rutherford, John (Lancs., Darwen)|
|Fletcher, John Samuel (Hampstead)||Larmor, Sir J||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Forster, Henry William||Lee, Arthur Hamilton||Sanderson, Lancelot|
|Foster, Philip Staveley||Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey)||Sandys, G. J. (Somerset, Wells)|
|Gardner, Ernest||Lonsdale, Sir John Brownlee||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Gastrell, Major W. Houghton||MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh||Spear, Sir John Ward|
|Gilmour, Captain John||Mackinder, H. J.||Stanier, Beville|
|Goldman, C. S.||M'Mordie, Robert James||Stewart, Gershom|
|Goldsmith, Frank||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine)||Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)|
|Gordon, John (Londonderry, South)||Magnus, Sir Philip||Sykes, Alan John (Ches., Knutsford)|
|Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton)||Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Sykes, Mark (Hull, Central)|
|Goulding, Edward Alfred||Meysey-Thompson, E. C.||Terrell, George (Wilts, N.W.)|
|Greene, Walter Raymond||Middlemore, John Throgmorton||Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)|
|Guinness, Hon. Walter Edward||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Thompson, Robert (Belfast, North)|
|Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington)||Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas||Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Down, N.)|
|Henderson, Major H. (Berkshire)||Morrison-Bell, Major A, C. (Honiton)||Touche, George Alexander|
|Hickman, Colonel Thomas E.||Neville, Reginald J. N.||Tullibardine, Marquess of|
|Hill, Sir Clement L. (Shrewsbury)||Newton, Harry Kottingham||Valentia, Viscount|
|Hills, John Waller||Nicholson, Wm. G. (Petersfield)||Walker, Col. William Hall|
|Hill-Wood, Samuel||Norton-Griffiths, J. (Wednesbury)||Walrond, Hon. Lionel|
|Hoare, S. J. G.||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.||Ward, Arnold S. (Herts, Watford)|
|Hohler, G. F.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Hope, Harry (Bute)||Parkes, Ebenezer||Williams, Col R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Horne, Wm. E. (Surrey, Guildford)||Peel, Captain R. F. (Woodbridge)||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Horner, A. L.||Perkins, Walter Frank||Worthington-Evans, L. (Colchester)|
|Houston, Robert Paterson||Peto, Basil Edward||Yate, Colonel C. E.|
|Hume-Williams, William Ellis||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Ingleby, Holcombe||Pryce-Jones, Colonel E.|
|Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, East)||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Lord E. Talbot and Mr. Sanders.|
|Kerr-Smiley, Peter Kerr||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Knight, Capt. E. A.||Rothschild, Lionel de|
§ Lords Amendment: In Sub-section (2) leave out the words "those subjects or any of them" ["or subordinate matters incidental to those subjects, or any of them"], and insert instead thereof the words "the provisions of such Bill; but if, in the opinion of the Joint Committee, the main governing purpose of a Bill imposing taxation, or of any portion of a Bill imposing taxation, is not purely finan-1052
§ cial in character, the Bill, or such portion thereof as aforesaid, shall be subject to the provisions of Section 2 of this Act.
§ Motion made and Question put, "That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 291; Noes, 146.1055
|Division No. 312.]||AYES.||[8.45 p.m.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin Harbour)||Cawley, Harold T. (Heywood)||Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)|
|Abraham, Rt. Hon. William (Rhondda)||Chancellor, H. G.||Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid)|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Elibank, Rt. Hon. Master of|
|Adamson, William||Clancy, John Joseph||Elverston, Sir Harold|
|Addison, Dr. C.||Clough, William||Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)|
|Allen, Arthur Acland (Dumbartonshire)||Clynes, John R.||Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)|
|Allen, Charles Peter (Stroud)||Collins, G. P. (Greenock)||Essex, Richard Walter|
|Armitage, R.||Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Farrell, James Patrick|
|Atherley-Jones, Llewellyn A.||Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Fenwick, Rt. Hon. Charles|
|Baker, H. T. (Accrington)||Condon, Thomas Joseph||Ffrench, Peter|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||Cotton, William Francis||Field, William|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Cowan, W. H.||Fitzgibbon, John|
|Barry, Redmond John (Tyrone, N.)||Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Flavin, Michael Joseph|
|Beauchamp, Sir Edward||Crean, Eugene||Furness, Stephen W.|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Crooks, William||Gelder, Sir W. A.|
|Bentham, George J.||Crumley, Patrick||George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd|
|Bethell, Sir J. H.||Cullinan, J.||Gibson, Sir James Puckering|
|Black, Arthur W.||Dalziel, Sir James H. (Kirkcaldy)||Gilhooly, James|
|Boland, John Pius||Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||Gill, A. H.|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Davies, E. William (Eifion)||Glanville, H. J.|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Davies, Timothy, (Lincs., Louth)||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford|
|Boyle, D. (Mayo, N.)||Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Goldstone, Frank|
|Brace, William||Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan)||Greenwood, Granville G. (Peterborough)|
|Brady, P. J.||Dawes, J. A.||Greenwood, Hamar (Sunderland)|
|Brigg, Sir John||De Forest, Baron||Greig, Colonel J. W.|
|Brocklehurst, W. B||Delany, William||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward|
|Brunner, J. F. L.||Devlin, Joseph||Griffith, Ellis J.|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Dillon, John||Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Donelan, Capt. A.||Guiney, P.|
|Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, N.)||Doris, W.||Gulland, John William|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney C. (Poplar)||Duffy, William J.||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)|
|Byles, Sir William Pollard||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in Furness)||Hackett, J.|
|Cameron, Robert||Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Hall, Frederick (Normanton)|
|Hancock, J. G.||M'Kean, John||Richards, Thomas|
|Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis (Rossendale)||M'Laren, H. D. (Leices.)||Richardson, Albion (Peckham)|
|Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||M'Micking, Major Gilbert||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)|
|Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)||Manfield, Harry||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds.)||Markham, Sir Arthur Basil||Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)|
|Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-Shire)||Marks, Sir George Croydon||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)|
|Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Marshall, Arthur Harold||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)|
|Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, W.)||Masterman, C. F. G.||Robinson, Sidney|
|Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N. E.)||Meagher, Michael||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)|
|Harwood, George||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Roche, Augustine (Louth)|
|Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||Meehan, Patrick A. (Queen's Co.)||Roche, John (Galway, E.)|
|Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Middlebrook, William||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Haworth, Sir Arthur A.||Millar, James Duncan||Rowntree, Arnold|
|Hayden, John Patrick||Molloy, M.||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Hayward, Evan||Molteno, Percy Alport||Samuel, J. (Stockton)|
|Healy, Maurice (Cork)||Mond, Sir Alfred Moritz||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)|
|Healy, Timothy Michael (Cork, East)||Money, L. G. Chiozza||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Helme, Norval Watson||Montagu, Hon. E. S.||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Mooney, J. J.||Sheehan, Daniel Daniel|
|Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor||Morgan, George Hay||Sheehy, David|
|Higham, John Sharp||Morrell, Philip||Simon, Sir John Allsebrook|
|Hinds, John||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)|
|Hodge, John||Muldoon, John||Smith, H. B. L. (Northampton)|
|Holt, Richard Durning||Munro, R.||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Horne, Charles Silvester (Ipswich)||Munro-Ferguson, Rt. Hon. R.C.||Snowden, P.|
|Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Murray, Captain Hon. A. C.||Stanley, Albert (Staffs., N.W.)|
|Hudson, Walter||Needham, Christopher T.||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
|Hughes, S. L.||Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncaster)||Sutton, John E.|
|Illingworth, Percy H.||Nolan, Joseph||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Isaacs, Rt. Hon. Sir Rufus||Norton, Captain Cecil W.||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|John, Edward Thomas||Nugent, Sir Walter Richard||Tennant, Harold John|
|Johnson, W.||Nuttall, Harry||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Thorne, William (West Ham)|
|Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Toulmin, Sir George|
|Jones, Leif Stratten (Notts, Rushcliffe)||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||O'Doherty, Philip||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Jones, W. S. Glyn- (T. H'mts., Stepney)||O'Donnell, Thomas||Verney, Sir Harry|
|Jowett, F. W.||O'Dowd, John||Wadsworth, J.|
|Joyce, Michael||Ogden, Fred||Walsh, J. (Cork, South)|
|Keating, M.||O'Kelly, Edward P. (Wicklow, W.)||Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)|
|Kellaway, Frederick George||O'Malley, William||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Kelly, Edward||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)||Wardle, George J.|
|Kennedy, Vincent Paul||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Webb, H.|
|Kilbride, Denis||O'Shee, James John||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|King, J. (Somerset, N.)||O'Sullivan, Timothy||White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)|
|Lamb, Ernest Henry||Palmer, Godfrey Mark||White, Sir Luke (York, E.R.)|
|Lambert, George (Devon, S. Molton)||Parker, James (Halifax)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||Pearce, Robert (Staffs., Leek)||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Lansbury, George||Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||Pease, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Rotherham)||Whyte, A. F. (Perth)|
|Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)||Wiles, Thomas|
|Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rld., Cockerm'th)||Pointer, Joseph||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Leach, Charles||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Williams, J. (Glamorgan)|
|Levy, Sir Maurice||Power, Patrick Joseph||Williams, P. (Middlesbrough)|
|Lewis, John Herbert||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Low, Sir F. (Norwich)||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)|
|Lyell, Charles Henry||Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Lynch, A. A.||Pringle, William M. R.||Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glas.)|
|Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Radford, George Heynes||Young, Samuel (Cavan, E.)|
|Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Raffan, Peter Wilson||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|McGhee, Richard||Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)|
|Macnamara, Rt. Hon. Dr. T. J.||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)|
|MacNeill, John G. S. (Donegal, South)||Reddy, M.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr. Dudley Ward and Mr. Wedgwood Benn.|
|Macpherson, James Ian||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Redmond, William (Clare, E.)|
|M'Callum, John M.||Rendall, Athelstan|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish||Cautley, H. S.|
|Amery, L. C. M. S.||Beresford, Lord C.||Cave, George|
|Anson, Rt. Hon. Sir William R.||Bigland, Alfred||Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University)|
|Ashley, W. W.||Boles, Lieut.-Col. Dennis Fortescue||Chaloner, Colonel R. G. W.|
|Astor, Waldorf||Boyle, W. Lewis (Norfolk, Mid.)||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worc'r.)|
|Baker, Sir R L. (Dorset, N.)||Bridgeman, W. Clive||Chambers, J.|
|Balcarres, Lord||Bull, Sir William James||Clay, Captain H. H. Spender|
|Baring, Maj. Hon. Guy V. (Winchester)||Burn, Colonel C. R.||Coates, Major Sir Edward Feetham|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Butcher, John George||Cooper, Richard Ashmole|
|Barnston, H.||Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. H. M.||Courthope, George Loyd|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Campion, W. R.||Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts., Wilton)||Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred||Croft, H. P.|
|Beckett, Hon. Gervase||Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H.||Dalrymple, Viscount|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Cassel, Felix||Dickson, Rt. Hon. C. Scott|
|Bennett-Goldney, Francis||Cator, John||Dixon, C. H.|
|Duke, Henry Edward||Houston, Robert Paterson||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Eyres-Monsell, B. M.||Hume-Williams, W. E.||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Faber, George Denison (Clapham)||Ingleby, Holcombe||Rothschild, Lionel de|
|Faber, Capt. W. V. (Hants, W.)||Jardine, E. (Somerset, E.)||Rutherford, John (Lancs., Darwen)|
|Fell, Arthur||Kerr-Smiley, Peter Kerr||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||Knight, Capt. E. A.||Sanderson, Lancelot|
|Finlay, Sir Robert||Kyffin-Taylor, G.||Sandys, G. J. (Somerset, Wells)|
|Fisher, Rt. Hon. W Hayes||Larmor, Sir J.||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue||Lee, Arthur H.||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Fletcher, John Samuel (Hampstead)||Lonsdale, Sir John Brownlee||Spear, Sir John Ward|
|Forster, Henry William||MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh||Stanier, Beville|
|Foster, Philip Staveley||Mackinder, H. J.||Stewart, Gershom|
|Gardner, Ernest||M'Mordie, Robert James||Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)|
|Gastrell, Major W. H.||McNeill, Ronald (Kent, St. Augustine)||Sykes, Alan John (Ches., Knutsford)|
|Gilmour, Captain J.||Magnus, Sir Philip||Sykes, Mark (Hull, Central)|
|Goldman, C. S.||Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Terrell, G. (Wilts, N.W.)|
|Goldsmith, Frank||Meysey-Thompson, E. C.||Terrell, H. (Gloucester)|
|Gordon, John (Londonderry, South)||Middlemore, John Throgmorton||Thompson, Robert (Belfast, North)|
|Gordon, Hon. John Edward (Brighton)||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Down, North)|
|Goulding, Edward Alfred||Mills, Hon Charles Thomas||Touche, George Alexander|
|Greene, W. R.||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C. (Honiton)||Tullibardine, Marquess of|
|Guinness, Hon. Walter E.||Neville, Reginald J. N.||Valentia, Viscount|
|Haddock, George Bahr||Newdegate, F. A.||Walker, Col. William Hall|
|Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence||Newton, Harry Kottingham||Walrond, Hon. Lionel|
|Henderson, Major Harold (Berkshire)||Nicholson, Wm. G. (Petersfield)||Ward, Arnold S. (Herts, Watford)|
|Hickman, Colonel T. E.||Norton-Griffiths, J. (Wednesbury)||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Hill, Sir Clement L.||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Hills, J. W.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Hill-Wood, Samuel||Parkes, Ebenezer||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Hoare, S. J. G.||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)||Worthington-Evans, L.|
|Hohler, G. F.||Peel, Capt. R. F. (Woodbridge)||Yate, Col. C. E|
|Hope, Harry (Bute)||Perkins, Walter F.|
|Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Peto, Basil Edward|
|Home, W. E. (Surrey, Guildford)||Pretyman, E. G.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—|
|Horner, A. L.||Pryce-Jones, Col. E.||Lord E. Talbot and Mr. Sanders.|
Question, "That this House doth agree with the Lords in the said Amendment," put, and agreed to.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
I beg to move, at the end of Sub-section (3), to add the, words "Before giving his certificate ["that it is a Money Bill"] the Speaker shall consult, if practicable, the Chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means, and the Chairman of the Committee of Public Accounts."
I wish to make it clear, in answer to the observations of the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir Henry Dalziel), that the Government in no way alter their opinion in re-respect to the objections which can properly be raised, and which, in our opinion, are overwhelming to anything in the nature of a Committee, such as was proposed when the Bill was passing through this House. Three suggestions were made. One time it was proposed there should be something in the nature of an equal tribunal to whom these questions of doubtful interpretation should be referred. That proposal is no longer made. The second proposal was that the House of Lords should be admitted to a share in the tribunal which was to judge the question of the privileges of the House of Commons. That proposal we have just debated, and it has been rejected by a vote of the House. The proposal was that a Committee should be set up of which the Speaker should be a Member, and also the Chairman; but there was a possibility that the Speaker might be over-ruled by other Members of that Committee. Against all those pro- 1056 posals, as the hon. Member has very correctly said, the Prime Minister has argued both in Committee and on the Report stage and other hon. Members supported his arguments. The proposal we are now making is a different one to any which was proposed in the House when the Bill was under consideration. The proposal is that the Speaker when he comes to settle these matters—which may sometimes be very delicate and difficult questions—should have the opportunity of consultation with other Members of this House in order to get their views upon the subject. The Government have been somewhat impressed by the arguments advanced in the other House by Lord Peel, who was for so many years Speaker of this House, and who left S this House with the regard and the respect of every Member in it. He was universally regarded as one of the best Speakers this House has ever had. Speaking as an ex-Speaker, he expressed his strong view that it is desirable, that the Speaker should have an opportunity of consultation with other Members of this House.
Sir H. DALZIEL
Is it not the case that the Noble Lord supported the Committee which, on the suggestion of the right hon. Gentleman, we have just voted against?
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
The only suggestion then before the House of Lords was the suggestion of this Committee to which, for the reasons I have given, the Govern- 1057 ment cannot agree. But because we are unable to accept the suggestion of a Committee that is no reason why we should not go some way towards meeting the desires expressed with all the authority of an ex-Speaker if it can be done without impairing the principles on which this Bill is founded. If hon. Members can show if any real harm is being done by this proposal or that it is in any way inconsistent with the main purposes of the Bill, or that it limits the control of the House of Commons over the determination of what are or are not its privileges, then matters would be different.
§ 9.0 P.M.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
I am certain it will be the desire of every hon. Member of this House to strengthen in every possible way the position of the Speaker, and we should not lay the Speaker open to any charges which might in any degree reflect upon his impartiality. I think the Speaker should be assuerd that the House will have no objection to him consulting with other Members of the House in order to make certain that in the various views which may be put before him, he should not overlook any consideration which might otherwise not be present to his mind. The persons chosen to assist him will naturally include the Chairman of Ways and Means, because all financial business originates in Committee of Ways and Means. The Chairman of that Committee, therefore, will have heard all the debates in Committee upon the measure in question, and when the Speaker comes to give his certificate it is right that the Chairman of Ways and Means should be consulted, if anyone is consulted, in the matter. In the next place, as the Speaker has to give his certificate as the agent of the House as a whole, if he is given assistance from any quarter, it should be partly drawn from the Members of the Opposition of this House. I am sure no one would desire in a matter of this character that the persons chosen should be wholly from one side of the House, and that the other side should have no opportunity of being consulted in any way. I think I am right in saying that there is only one Member of the Opposition who has any official status in any matter affecting finance, and that is the Chairman of the Committee on Public Accounts, who has always by 1058 custom been chosen from the Opposition, and who by the very nature of his functions is called upon to deal with some, at all events, of the financial matters upon which the House has to legislate, and he is continually in touch with the practice and principles which regulate financial legislation in this House. Those are the reasons why these two hon. Members are chosen from the House and not others. Of course the Speaker, if he so desires, may consult other hon. Members, but these two are inserted in order that it should be known that the Speaker has been proceeding not merely on his own Motion. Although the decision given is that of the Speaker, an opportunity is given for consultation with other Members unless circumstances should intervene to make that impossible in the normal course. He has that opportunity of consulting with other hon. Members and hearing their views. The words, "is practicable" are inserted because cases may arise in which one or other of those Members may be absent from the House, and, of course, it would be exceedingly inconvenient and disastrous to the provisions of this Bill if any proceedings were invalidated merely because the Speaker had not been able to consult the persons mentioned in the Bill. These are the reasons why after very careful and prolonged consideration the Prime Minister, who has given this matter his closest attention, is of opinion that, on the whole, it is desirable that the Speaker should be given strength and support by the methods of consultation which we propose, and that is a reason why the Government ask the House to accept this Amendment.
§ Mr. ARTHUR HENDERSON
I think the Postmaster-General on this matter deserves the sympathy of the House. During the time I have been a Member of this House I have never known a Member of the Government to be placed in a more unfortunate position than the Postmaster-General has been placed by having to submit this weakest of all cases to the House. I rise on behalf of my colleagues on these benches to protest against this Amendment. We can claim that we have supported the Government very consistently through every stage of this Bill. I remember the discussions that took place during the Committee stage, when hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite were urging the aceptance of Amendments setting up some form or other of a 1059 Committee. I listened to the speeches made by the Prime Minister and by the right hon. Gentleman himself, and with those speeches we fully agreed. I am quite sure in the speech to which we have listened to-night we have not heard a single argument to induce us to depart from the position in which we supported the Government throughout the Committee stage. I listened to a speech of the right hon. Gentleman a little earlier in the evening dealing with the two Amendments the Committee have just disposed of, and I am quite certain that every argument he used then, and, in fact, every word with which he supported those arguments, are equally applicable to the case he has endeavoured to make out as they were to the case he was opposing. Why was it we supported the Government during the Committee stage? We supported the Government in resisting the Amendments that were proposed because of our confidence in the impartiality of the Chair. We believed, in spite of the arguments advanced, that it was imposing too heavy a burden upon the Speaker, that the Speaker, left to himself, was better able to decide the question than if he was exposed as the Chairman of a Committee to take part in the deliberations of that Committee, and was then called upon to exercise, as the Amendment suggested, his casting vote. It seems to me that, if the Joint Committee, the Judicial Committee, and the other Committees that were then proposed were bad, this is infinitely worse.
The Government propose that the Chairman of Ways and Means for the time being and the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee for the time being may be called in for consultation by the Speaker. [HON. MEMBERS: "Shall."] Well, I suppose it is going to be made statutory, and that they must be consulted. There is the proviso "if practicable," and, in the event of it not being practicable, other Members may be consulted. I do not wish to misrepresent the right hon. Gentleman, but I understand that was the statement he made. What does this mean? Is this not going to interfere to a very large extent with the impartiality of the Chair? Who may the Chairman of Ways and Means and the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee for the time being be. It may be, when we have another Parliament, that the Speaker will be drawn from the actual party in power. It does not happen to 1060 be so to-day. The Chairman of the Ways and Means is always a Member of the party in power. I know of nothing, though there may be custom against it, to prevent the Chairman of a Public Accounts Committee being drawn from the party in power. There is nothing more than custom against it, and custom could be set aside. It is not a very old-established custom. What would that mean? It would mean that all the three Members concerned, the Speaker and the two Members to be invited in consultation, would be Members of the same party, members of the party in power, and members of the party primarily concerned in the dispute as to the character of the Bill on which they have to adjudicate. I venture to say there is no Member of this House who would not rather the impartiality of the Chair was left entirely uninterfered with, and there is certainly no one who would prefer that this service should come, as it might come in one case and even in both cases, from gentlemen who, however impartial they tried to be, could not forget they were Members of the party in power, and who might also be Members of the party from whom the Speaker himself had been selected.
The Government have changed their position. They were very definite and determined on this point throughout the long discussion in the Committee stage. Why have they changed their position? Is it a concession to the Die-hards? The only argument we have heard is that this course has been recommended by a Noble Lord who formerly presided with great distinction over the deliberations of this House, but who has so far departed from the faith as to become subservient to the whip of the party opposite. Why that should be a recommendation to adopt a proposal in this great constitutional struggle passes my comprehension, and yet the only argument I have heard is that Lord Peel, in the Debate gave some colour of support to the suggestion. May I ask the House just to listen to the position as we had it described to us as recently as the Committee stage by no less an authority than the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister. In replying on the Amendment moved by the hon. and learned Member for Kingston (Mr. Cave), the Prime Minister used these words:—You are now proposing to give the Speaker a casting Tote, and what is that but an indirect method of arriving at the same result as we propose? You are throwing the ultimate responsibility upon the shoulders of the Speaker.1061 These are the words to which I particularly want to call attention:—I think it would be very much better in these matters to leave the Speaker to exercise his own unfettered judgment. I have no doubt Mr. Speaker, when necessary, would take advice and counsel.It seems to me, if that was the correct position but a few weeks ago, it is the correct position to-day, and this is the very last moment that any concession should be made. I think experience proves that immediately the Government endeavour to conciliate the Noble Lords advantage is taken of that spirit of conciliation if not in the other House in this House, and it is charged against them as being an indication of weakness. I should like to appeal to the Government even at this last moment to stand by their Bill. Some of us have gone through two elections on this question. We may be told the Bill was not in its detail before the country in January last year, but the Resolution was. The Bill was definitely before the country when we proceeded by the voluntary act of the Cabinet to our constituencies to fight on the Bill, and I think we are perfectly entitled to ask tonight, when we are considering these Amendments, that no quarter shall be given to those who compelled the second election, but that we shall stand by the Bill and nothing but the Bill. I therefore protest against the acceptance of this Amendment.
§ Mr. MILDMAY
It is very difficult to know what the result of the alternative will be. It is a very slight alteration that is proposed. Mr. Speaker is merely to consult with the two Gentlemen mentioned, but the decision is still to be his. The hon. Member who last spoke referred to Mr. Speaker Peel. I had the honour of sitting under Mr. Speaker Peel during the whole of his occupancy of that Chair, and I can speak to the high estimation in which he was held by the whole House. I do not think it can be averred that his speech, to which reference has been made, was in any way a party speech. I doubt very much whether this Amendment which has been put forward by the Government will remove the objections to which reference has been made. I feel myself that with this Amendment there will still be far too heavy a responsibility on Mr. Speaker. Are we to leave him in a position of absolute impartiality, or are we to drag him into the arena of party polities? We are enlarging the area of his field of duty. Up till now his authority in this House has been unquestioned. Will it be 1062 so unquestionably accepted outside this House if this Amendment is adopted? He will have to give a decision between parties whether or not a Bill is a Money Bill. It may be a question on which opinions are evenly balanced. It may be difficult to avoid a semblance of leaning unduly to one side or the other. But once he has decided in favour of one political party we thrust him forward to compel the subservience of the House of Lords to that political party. It seems to me that that would be a very dangerous proceeding. I think it was one of the Members for Plymouth who, in the Debate on this Bill, said we were going to put it in the power of Mr. Speaker to destroy the Government of the day by ruling that the Budget is not a purely Money Bill, because by such a ruling he would put it in the power of the House of Lords to reject that Budget, and, of course, no Government could remain in office after the rejection of their Budget. I say, therefore, it is a very dangerous and difficult duty that you are throwing upon Mr. Speaker.
I know hon. Gentlemen opposite laugh at our fears. They say in all sincerity that they have absolute confidence in the impartiality of the Speaker. So have we. We have absolute confidence in his impartiality and integrity. We know that the present occupant of the Chair will rise to any occasion. His character is very firmly established indeed. But what about future occupants of the Chair? Remember that the necessity of coming to this most momentous decision may occur to a new Speaker within the first weeks of his assuming office, before he has had the opportunity of establishing his character for impartiality, and if it does so, may it not ruin the whole future of a potentially strong and impartial Speaker? The authority of Mr. Speaker once ruined, the difficulties of the office are increased a hundredfold. Hon. Gentlemen opposite deride our fears lest the reputation of Mr. Speaker for impartiality should be endangered. But we have seen something of the same kind in regard to election petitions. I do not know whether hon. Members read a letter written to "The Times" a short time ago, by Sir Harry Poland, who stated that when, in 1868, it was proposed to require judges to try election petitions they strongly objected on the ground that the inevitable result would be to destroy, or at all events materially to impair, the confidence of the public in their fairness, impartiality and inflexible integrity when political mat- 1063 ters come incidentally before them. This same danger, we are now pointing out, will be incurred by the Speaker of the future. Will anybody say, in view of the accusations against the judges which have lately been made in the leading Government organs and in other quarters, will anybody say that the fears expressed in 1868 were not well founded? With this lesson before us, I maintain that we ought not light-heartedly to throw a fresh burden on Mr. Speaker. I am not satisfied with the Amendment. I think he should have more assistance; he should not be left in the position he would be left in if this Amendment is added to the Bill.
§ Mr. THEODORE TAYLOR
I think the question really is, will the Speaker's authority be diminished or will it be increased by the formal addition of two advisers whom he is obliged to consult, but with whose advice he is not necessarily obliged to comply. I think the wording of this Amendment has been a little misunderstood. If I thought that the Amendment would weaken the authority of the Speaker I should oppose it. The Speaker is the greatest asset of this House; his impartiality is its most valuable asset, but because I do not believe it will have the effect of weakening his impartiality as an authority of this House I hold that we ought to support the Amendment. The hon. Member for Barnard Castle (Mr. Henderson) told us that he had full confidence in the Speaker. We all have that, and although every Speaker hitherto may have been originally returned to this House as a party man, what we claim is that once a Speaker is put into the Chair he is no longer actuated by party spirit.
§ Mr. ARTHUR HENDERSON
All I suggested was that the Speaker might be selected in the future from the party in power. That is not the case at present.
§ Mr. T. TAYLOR
I accept the hon. Member's statement, but I fail to see what is the meaning of his suggestion, unless it be understood that the Speaker is selected from the party in power, and might possibly act in the interests of that party. But the Speaker does not act as a party man, so it does not matter from what party he originally came. Fortunately for us the Speaker in this House for many years past has happened to be selected from the party not in power. For my own part, I hope that that will always be the case because I say, as a supporter of the 1064 Government, I believe we stand to gain rather than to lose by it, as the average traditions of the English gentleman, traditions which will continue whatever classes-may be represented in the House of Commons, will incline the man occupying that seat to lean against his own party rather than towards it. For my own part I do not claim, as a Member of the majority, any advantage. I think the advantage should be given to the minority rather than to the majority. I also have had great confidence in the Speakers we have had hitherto, and I claim that the type of man we have had hitherto as Speaker is the best possible indication of the kind of man we may expect to have in the future. I myself have no fear, and hon. Gentlemen opposite need not have any fear, should a Labour Member or an Irish Member be chosen to act as Speaker. I believe such a man would immediately inherit the traditions of that noble office. There is one point I should like to refer to. The Chairman of Committee of Ways and Means is also Deputy-Speaker. I am not quite sure if he is so by authority of his office. I think he is. If that be so, that is to say that the Chairman of Ways and Means is called upon as at the present moment to occupy the chair of the Speaker, then I think we must all agree that he must be one of the most appropriate individuals to be consulted by the Speaker on these difficult occasions. I take that for granted, that he is an appropriate individual, that a man who is qualified to occupy the Chair of the Speaker occasionally is one of the most likely men to be consulted by the Speaker.
I should like the House to consider the character of the men who have in the past occupied the chair of the Public Accounts Committee. I see the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Colonel Williams), the present Chairman, present. I will not endeavour to gild refined gold, and will not flatter him in his presence, but those who have sat many years in the House can say he is one of the most respected Members of the House, who, I believe, acts in the public interest, and, in common with other chairmen of Public Accounts Committees, has used the far too limited power he has in the public interest. I will take the last five occupants of the office so far as I remember them and know them. There was Lord Shuttleworth a good many years ago, Mr. Arthur O'Connor, a respected Member of the Irish party; Sir Arthur Hayter, now Lord Haversham, and Mr. Victor Cavendish, now Duke of Devonshire, 1065 a most able Member of the Committee. I am glad to say, as a business man myself, I have never come across a duke, at all events, who was a better business man. My friends who have sat with the Duke of Devonshire in this House know that he was a very able business man, and conducted the business of the Public Accounts Committee in a very good way. Why was he made Chairman of that Committee? It has been the custom in the past when an ex-Secretary to the Treasury was available, that is the Secretary to the Treasury in the previous Government, to make him Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, and I think that a very wise tradition. The reason why the hon. and gallant Gentleman (Colonel Williams) occupies the office now is that his predecessor, the present Duke of Devonshire, was removed by the death of his uncle to the other House. He might have been Chairman of the Committee to-day but for that. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about Hayes Fisher?"] I believe the hon. Member for Fulham is a good business man and a respected member of the county council, though a very strong opponent of ours. We can recognise, surely, as business men, the ability of a business man, and we can respect his character though we differ entirely from his politics.
§ Mr. T. TAYLOR
The character of one of the two advisers that the Speaker is to have in the future, if this Amendment is carried, is a very material point. It is absolutely in order, and, in my judgment, it has a great deal to do with the question. The list of names I have read shows that the men who become chairmen of the Public Accounts Committee are for the most part, at all events, members of this House, with a good deal of experience behind them, knowledge of estimates and knowledge of the very kind of business that this Amendment relates to.
§ Mr. T. TAYLOR
The Chairman of the Selection Committee is also a very much respected Member of the House. This is not a question of selecting individuals. It is a question of the interpretation of an Act of Parliament—what are Money Bills and what are not? I can almost understand the indignation of gentlemen 1066 who may perhaps think they ought to have been consulted about this. I will take the liberty to believe that, like other people, my hon. Friends behind would like to have been consulted before this Amendment was thrown upon the Table of the House this afternoon, in this very sudden way. I should like also to have had my view put in. But we cannot all have that. I am a thorough supporter of the Veto Bill. I would rather not alter a line or a comma because it is apt to be misunderstood outside—now I am speaking, of course, as a party man—as an act of weakness, but we know it is not. We need not mind that. Surely if we believe a thing is good in itself we ought to vote for it.
§ Mr. SANDERSON
I was glad to hear the unqualified approval of the business capacity of Members of the other House which has been given by the last speaker. If he goes on making speeches of a similar nature much longer I shall look forward to the time when he will be a hearty supporter of the other House in all respects. I cannot help thinking that the Postmaster-General was in a very difficult position to-night, because, in my opinion, this is an absolutely fatuous Amendment. The argument put forward by the right hon. Gentleman was that it was to give the Speaker the opportunity of consulting other Members of the House. Surely it does not need an Act of Parliament to authorise the Speaker to consult the Chairman of Ways and Means or the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee or any other Members of the House. Supposing this were passed, what would be the use of it? If he wanted to consult those two Members of the House, of course he could do it without this Amendment, and if he did not want to consult them he could call them together and then disregard their opinions. I can quite understand the hon. Member taking up the position that this responsibility ought not to be put upon the Speaker. That was my opinion, and I have voted in support of it. But this is an entirely different matter. You are not going to relieve the Speaker of responsibility in any shape or form. You are going to do something which will in some respects limit the apparent confidence of this House in the Speaker, and if it is to be left to the Speaker personally I should like it to be left to the Speaker himself. I should like to leave him absolutely unlimited powers to consult any Member of this House. If 1067 the Speaker were in any doubt about a question which he had to decide he would, of course, consult the Chairman of Ways and Means and the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, and in all probability other Members in whom he had confidence, if he thought it was necessary. It does not require an Act of Parliament to give him power to do that.
There is another matter that I ought to mention. The Postmaster-General pointed out that if anyone could point out what harm this would do he would be willing to listen to any argument in support of that proposition. I agree with the right hon. Gentleman who sits opposite that it is not for anybody to point out what harm there is in the Amendment. The onus lies upon the right hon. Gentleman who proposes the Amendment to show what good it does, and to show really how the position of the Speaker is to be strengthened or the responsibility taken off his shoulders.
I think the position is really a curious one. The consideration of the Lords Amendments to the Parliament Bill was put down over a fortnight ago. We were always told that the Prime Minister would come down to the House, and propose that the Lords Amendments be disagreed with in toto, but at the last moment when we are here expecting to send the Bill back to the House of Lords as we sent it originally, and to send it back in a few hours, without any notice upon the Paper we are asked to accept Amendments of a totally new character which we have to take down in shorthand as they are read out. And then we are expected out of loyalty—which I assure the right hon. Gentlemen on the Treasury Bench in my case is as great as ever—to accept these Amendments. I intend to support the Government through thick and through thin in this Parliament Bill, but I respectfully submit to them that they should give us some real reason why they are proposing this Amendment above all others. They have undoubtedly altered their position, and it is quite impossible to reconcile the speech of the Postmaster-General with the speech of the Prime Minister that has been quoted. I suppose the real fact of the matter is that the Parliamentary and political position has altered, and these Amendments are being brought forward not to make the Bill any better, indeed, from our point of view, it could not be made any better, but to help Lord 1068 Lansdowne in his battle against the "Die-hards." After the miserable exhibition which the "Die-hards" have made in this House, in the other House, and in the country during the last fortnight, I think we do not need to go out of our way to give them a parting kick. They are going to receive the condemnation of the Upper House in the course of tomorrow. I do not think it is the part of the Government at the present time to attempt to save the face of Lord Lansdowne and of those Peers who denounced the Parliament Bill up and down the land and now at last are running away from their professions. Let them do so, but do not help them by even three small concessions on the Parliament Bill. I do trust and hope we shall not be asked to vote for this Amendment. I shall vote as I say in support of the Government. I shall support them through thick and through thin. I think their action on the whole has been exemplary and above all praise, but I do trust that wiser counsels will prevail, that we shall have unanimity above and below the Gangway, and that this Amendment will be withdrawn.
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
I beg to move to amend the proposed Amendment by leaving out the words, "the Chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means and the Chairman of the Committee of Public Accounts," and inserting instead thereof the words, "two Members to be appointed at the beginning of each Session by the Committee of Selection."
The hon. Gentleman who has just addressed the House has entertained us with some interesting, but scarcely relevant, observations as to this particular Amendment. I may say that personally I like neither the Lords Amendment, nor the Bill as it stands, nor the present Amendment. With regard to the Lords Amendment, I think that subjects of difference between the two Houses should go before a tribunal which should be entirely non-Parliamentary. The longer I am in Parliament the less my enthusiasm is for either House. I cannot help thinking that some tribunal entirely outside Parliament, like the High Courts in France or America, will be found necessary. The Bill as it stands is open to serious objection because it makes the presiding officer of this House practically responsible for the acts of this House, with nothing whatever to relieve him from the responsibility. And anything that could be done to relieve him pro 1069 tanto would be an improvement. I do not know whether hon. Members have seen the conduct of business in foreign legislatures, where the president is avowedly elected to further the interests of the party in power. It is a very regrettable and shameful proceeding from our point of view, but still it does exist; and if further duties of this kind are placed upon the Speaker, the time may come when the Speaker would be elected to serve the interests of the party which happens to be in power at the time. I do think there should be some check upon that. He should not have unlimited power put upon him, but I do not like the check which has been suggested. I think there was a good deal in what the Member for Barnard Castle (Mr. A. Henderson) said when he urged that the Chairman of Committees should not be one of those selected.
The Chairman of Committees always belongs to the party in power, and I think it is very creditable that most of the Chairman of Committees have shown themselves to be so greatly impartial in the exercise of their functions, but all the same the Chairman is a special subject of criticism, and if these duties are placed upon him the time may come in the turning point of some great controversy when he will undoubtedly not be in such an impartial position. With regard to the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee he fulfils very honourable, important and useful functions, but I am not sure that the qualifications for his office are the same qualifications which are required to determine whether a Bill is a Money Bill or not. That is a point of great delicacy, and a most admirable Chairman of Public Accounts Committee need not necessarily be well qualified to express an opinion upon those delicate points. My Amendment is to leave out the words referring to the Chairman of Committees and the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee and to substitute for that two Members appointed at the beginning of each Session by the Committee of Selection. The Committee of Selection does, undoubtedly, justify the confidence the House has in them. I think we may fairly trust them to appoint a Member from either side who would be qualified by his personal experience and knowledge of constitutional questions to help Mr. Speaker in a question like this, and I believe that they would select the best men and that you would get two better assessors than would be got by the chance 1070 taking of the Chairman of Committees and the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee.
§ Mr. POLLOCK seconded the Amendment to the proposed Amendment.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
I do not think this is an improvement on the suggestion made by the Government. If there are to-be consultative Members at all to assist Mr. Speaker in coming to a decision I think the Government have made the best choice in that respect. I fear there is some misunderstanding about the character of this Amendment. This is not setting up a committee in the ordinary sense. There is no idea of there being a division and of a casting vote being given. Mr. Speaker has the final decision in his own hands, and he has the full decision in his own hands whatever view the consultative members may express. The idea is that the Speaker of the House of Commons should have the full and final decision in. his own hands. Earlier in the evening, in the course of the Debate, the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir H. Dalziel) asked why the Government had thought it necessary to put this Amendment down at all. I will explain to the House why that was done. I thought I would not say this without the full authority of Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker felt that he should not like to undertake such an onerous duty and heavy responsibility as that proposed to be put upon him without, at any rate, having someone associated with him for consultative purposes. I do not say that this is the suggestion of Mr. Speaker. On the contrary, this is the suggestion of the Government to meet the wishes of Mr. Speaker. That is the reason why we put this Amendment down. Mr. Speaker felt that whenever there was a decision to be taken on a Bill as to which there might be very great feeling on the part of hon. Members, he would like before he came to a conclusion upon it, that someone should be associated with him, with whom he could consult, and who would assist him in coming to a decision upon the point; and it is really with a view of meeting that desire that we put this Amendment on the Paper.
If there is to be a consultative Committee of this kind, I think the Government have made the best choice. Take, first of all, the Chairman of Committees of Ways and Means. Although it is perfectly true that he is chosen from the party in power for the time being, after all, owing 1071 to his experience and practice in the Chair, he practically becomes more and more impartial in his demeanour, as, no doubt, both the supporters of the Government and the Members of the Opposition in turn often feel. That being so, it is not as if he were chosen from amongst the ordinary Members of the House. He does not take part in partisan debate; he studiously holds himself aloof from it, and that must have an effect on any man in the course of years. That does not apply in the same degree to the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, but then he has no vote. It is true that he is chosen from the party not in office, but, as a rule, he is not a strong partisan. I think my hon. Friend will find that the Chairmen of the Public Accounts Committee are generally men who are not strong partisans. If a consultative Committee is to be set up at all from the Members of the House of Commons, I think the Government have taken the best method of meeting the desire expressed by Mr. Speaker. Of course, if hon. Members on both sides of the House say that they would prefer the present arrangement—if hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite say that this is no improvement at all, and that they would prefer the Bill as it stands then they put the Government in a difficulty. I do not know whether they have expressed an opinion upon that matter up to the present. Those who have spoken are on the Back Benches. We have not heard anyone of authority up to the present, except one Member who spoke during the dinner hour, and he expressed the view that this was not an improvement on the Bill as originally sent up to the House of Lords.
I would like to know what is the view of the Leader of the Opposition on this particular matter. The Government have put this forward not as meeting the wishes of the Opposition, and not as meeting half way the view expressed by the House of Lords, but as some contribution towards the solution of the problem, and in order to meet the difficulty in which Mr. Speaker would be placed if he had to act alone in deciding matters which provoke very passionate feeling, and which excite a deal of animosity on both sides. Therefore we thought we might strengthen him if we set up a consultative Committee of this kind, with a view rather of aiding him in coming to a decision than of taking the decision out of his hands. Of course that would be specially important if there were 1072 quite a new Speaker in the Chair. It does not apply to a Speaker of very wide experience, extending over a considerable number of years, as in the case of the present occupant of the Chair. But supposing there were a new Speaker, it would be a matter of very great importance to him to be associated with two old and experienced Members of the House, who could discuss these matters with him privately, and aid him in coming to a conclusion. I trust my hon. Friends will see that the Amendment does not really interfere with the objects they have in view. The only thing we say is that Mr. Speaker shall consult the Chairman of Ways and Means and the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, but he is entitled to weigh the matter, and to come to his own decision afterwards. I trust that my hon. Friend will not press his opposition to the Amendment.
§ Mr. HERBERT SAMUEL
As a matter of personal explanation, I wish to state the reason why I did not say, in my opening remarks, why this Amendment had been put on the Paper by the Government. It was because I was anxious not to bring Mr. Speaker into the Debate.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer has made an appeal to me in regard to the Amendment now before the House. Of course, the question is really opened up now—in the first place as to what are the relative merits of the plan proposed by the Government as compared with the plan introduced by the House of Lords; in the second place, whether the plan proposed by the Government is the best method of meeting Mr. Speaker's wishes; and, in the third place, whether any plan should be adopted at all. The hon. Gentleman who spoke before the Chancellor of the Exchequer seemed to suspect that there was in this Amendment some scheme for pleasing Lord Lansdowne. Let me console him on that point.
It is extremely unlikely that Lord Lansdowne would thank the Government for having gone any distance to meet the views of the other House. So far as I can form a judgment, I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer was amply justified in saying that what he had done goes practically no distance towards the acceptance of the Amendment which the House of Lords introduced. I made some observations earlier in the evening on that point on the first Amendment. I do not think it necessary to repeat them. The 1073 other House, in my opinion, produced a far better plan than that which was found in the Bill originally, or that which the Government now introduce into the Bill or that which my hon. Friend proposes to introduce into the Bill. I think, after what has occurred, we may take it that the Government, by the use of the Prerogative have wiped the House of Lords altogether out of this Bill. They propose to deal with this Bill as a Single Chamber and as a Single Chamber they have not the slightest idea of consulting and meeting the wishes of the House of Lords in any respect. By the use of the Prerogative they have expunged it from legislative existence altogether so far as this Bill is concerned. I therefore say not a word, I think it would be a waste of time of the House to say a single word, in defence of the House of Lords Amendment or by way of comparison between the plan proposed by the House of Lords and the plan proposed by the Government. Let us consider it, therefore, entirely from the Single Chamber point of view. Let us accept the revolutionary constitution imposed upon us. Let us deal with it from that point of view.
I understand that the Government now have discovered—I should have thought they would have discovered long ago—what an intolerable burden it was to place upon the shoulders of any Speaker, be his Authority, experience and knowledge of the House what they may be, to decide of his own authority a question like that which may come up for his decision under the proposals of this Parliament Bill. The Government have now discovered this, fact, and they have revised their plan to meet the situation. Now that the Government have told us this I presume for the moment that the House feels that some plan must be adopted, either the Government plan or my hon. Friend's plan or some other plan by which the Speaker shall be relieved of duties which ought never to have been thrown on him. I do not myself think the Government plan a very good plan. It is quite true that there is an appearance of impartiality obtained, impartiality as between parties, by putting on the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, because he is by tradition always appointed from among the minority, and also that as the Chancellor of the Exchequer has said, the Chairmen of Committees in my experience always endeavour to carry out impartially the duties entrusted to them. That they always succeed in carrying them 1074 out to the satisfaction of every Member of this House I will not say. That is probably beyond the limits of human wisdom or human good fortune. But we who sat under the present Chairman of Committees through many stormy Debates on most controversial Bills during the last six years make no suggestion that Mr. Speaker would not get perfectly impartial and able advice from the Chairman of Ways and Means. At the same time I confess I should have thought that of the plans suggested, the plan proposed by my hon. Friend might be adopted, or some analogous plan by which from the panel of Chairmen there might be selected two or three persons whom the Speaker might consult, instead of putting down two officials by name as the persons whom the Speaker is to consult and who will to a certain extent and in a very limited degree relieve him of the responsibility thrown upon him. I agree that the Chairman of Committees is chosen very largely for his business ability and impartiality. The Chairman of Committees as far as my knowledge goes has always been worthy of this House, but looking back over the Chairmen of Public Accounts Committees whom we have known during the last twenty years, I think it will be recognised that while they are often gentlemen of immense ability and knowledge they are perhaps not always those whom any Committee of Selection would choose for the place or who would naturally be selected from among the panel of Chairmen. One of the ablest Chairmen of Public Accounts Committees I have ever known was Mr. Bowles.
He certainly was the leading spirit on it, and his great ability in such matters was shown in connection with the working of that Committee. But the Chairman is not selected. I should have thought, for that particular position, on account of possessing the particular kind of qualities required for this special duty, and I should venture to suggest to the Government, not as any affair of the House of Lords, but looking at it from the one Chamber point of view, they would be well advised if they adopted a plan by which either the Committee of Selection could select a number of men to choose from, or by which a selection would be made from the panel of Chairmen. I think they would be well advised if they 1075 adopted that plan, because it is really always possible to find one man on each side of the House of authority and of weighty character, a party man no doubt, but not a violent party man, and who would carry weight with both sides of the House; who would be recognised as having given a decision which, whether right or wrong, was in no sense animated by partisanship or the violent movements of controversy, and who would give very great assistance to the Speaker in dealing with these problems. The Chairmen are merely alternatives in the chair. For certain purposes one is, as it were, the alter ego of the other. The Chairman of Committees can do now what he could not do in my earlier days. He can take the place of the Speaker, with the approval of the House of Commons, as, of course, without further ceremony when the Speaker is not in the chair. I am not sure that I think it would be desirable to give you what I call a direct official Member who may occupy this Chair. I suggest to the Government, in no spirit of criticism or partisan feeling, that they should substitute an Amendment by which the Committee of Selection could choose from among the panel of the Chairmen two or more Gentlemen whom they think carry weight with the House, and would be of real assistance to Mr. Speaker to carry out the duties imposed upon him. I shall not press my views now upon the House or upon the Government. I want simply to say that surely it would be grossly unfair to the Speaker to leave him alone to carry out these duties. I certainly would not vote against any Amendments which would be likely to relieve him of some portion of that burden.
§ Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD
I think the Debate which has taken place since this Amendment was moved ought to have shown the Government how desirable it would have been if they had allowed the House to understand before the short space of an hour what they proposed to do. The House is not in a position to decide upon this Amendment one way or another. No warning was given that it was to be moved, and no opportunity has been afforded to Members who take an interest in the matter to carefully turn over in their minds exactly what the proposal means. I must admit, Mr. Speaker, that the announcement of your wishes and desires by the Chancellor has made a good deal of difference in my own mind. Any announcement of that character must very 1076 properly receive very considerable weight from all parties in this House. At the same time, if one might venture to hold an opinion on the matter on which we have to pronounce, with such a richness of experience before us, I am bound to confess that I am still of opinion, theoretically at any rate, that this House would be well advised if it trusts the Speaker absolutely in the decision of this matter. At any rate whether we come to that conclusion or not, I think we ought very carefully to consider what sort of assistance ought to be given to you and your successors in that office. The proposal of the Government is to appoint the Chairman of Ways and Means and the Chairman of Public Accounts to afford that assistance. I am bound to confess that I see very little merit in that proposal. First of all, the Chairman of Ways and Means is becoming more and more an impartial and non-party Member of this House. It has now ceased to be the practice for the Chairman of Ways and Means to vote on any subject that this House is discussing. Private Bills, of course, are outside the scope of this measure altogether. The Chairman of Committees, as a matter of fact, is beginning to occupy precisely the same relation to controversial business in this House that you yourself do.
Two out of three Members of this Committee, or, to speak more accurately, one of the two advisers who are to be given to you, is, like yourself, an impartial Member of the House. The second adviser, at any rate, does not occupy that position. It is true, as the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Balfour) said, and as other Members eminent for their knowledge of the business of this House have said, some Members have not been partisans in the ordinary, wild, and emphatic sense in which the word is used here, but, nevertheless, up to now we have never had a function such as is proposed to be given by the Government to the Chairman of the Committee of Public Accounts to decide these matters. If that be done, then the position of the Chairman of the Committee of Public Accounts will begin to change. I cannot conceive for a single moment that the Opposition will appoint to the Chairmanship of the Committee of Public Accounts any but a Member of the Opposition, because the position is now only given to a Member of the Opposition.
We know through the ordinary channels how these appointments are made, and the Opposition will undoubtedly have for 1077 Chairman of the Committee of Public Accounts a man who is a strong man and an active man. What is the position of these two advisers whom Mr. Speaker is going to have? Without doing violence to what I think is the new position which the Chairman is beginning to occupy, he must be absolutely impartial and not assist the Opposition. The other adviser would be strongly partisan; he would do everything he possibly could to advance the interests of the Opposition. What is more, before the advice was given he would very likely have voted on every question on which he is advising you, as a Member of this House. He may have spoken, he may have taken a most active interest and done everything that lay in his power as a loyal and true member of his party to advance the very questions on which he is to advise. I am bound to confess that an advisory Committee proposed in that way is not a body that commends itself to me at all. I should like to draw the attention of the House, however, to what Lord Peel said in the House of Lords on this subject. He said:—At present, the Speaker is able to take advice from any quarter; he may consult anybody he pleases.Therefore, this Amendment is not meeting his wishes. We are all perfectly clear about that. I do not know quite what he wants. Having very carefully read his speech, it is perfectly clear that he had got in his mind this, that Mr. Speaker might himself appoint anybody he wished, and that, therefore, whatever the Speaker required in order to enable him to carry out his functions, it would not merely be a consultative Committee. We come back to this, that Mr. Speaker's advisers are permanent officers of this House. If the advice is to be impartial, if it is going to be mature and rich in experience, then what better advisers can Mr. Speaker have than those he now has. Everyone knows who his ordinary advisers are. Everyone knows that even a new Speaker has got very old and very sage advisers round about him. Either one officer or the other knows his business from long experience, and everyone knows, moreover, that a new Speaker has got, as Lord Peel has said, the right to consult anybody, any Member of this House, any officer of this House, and any official of this House whom he desires. I therefore come back, and I must still hold to the opinion that I have held, since this Bill was introduced, and for which I have already voted, that the House "would do wisely if it trusts the Speaker to 1078 give a judicial and impartial decision upon this matter, after consulting those whom he desires, officers who are not Members of this House and Chairmen and others who are Members of this House. It is very difficult to vote against the opinion which has been expressed, but I am bound to confess, first of all, that I much regret the Government has taken the action it has done, and, above all, I regret that it has sprung this Amendment upon us without giving us the opportunity of carefully considering whether we could not make more valuable suggestions by way of Amendment to the Resolution which is now before us.
§ Mr. LEIF JONES
The announcement of the Chancellor of the Exchequer has certainly, I think, modified the views of the House in regard to this matter, and made it a little difficult for us to decide the Amendment which is put forward and offered by the Government to meet the wishes of Mr. Speaker upon this matter. I think perhaps it is better, in the short time we have, to put forward what occurs to us in regard to this Amendment, because I think it is a very serious decision, not so much from the point of view of the position with regard to the House of Lords controversy which we are carrying on, but in regard to the position of Mr. Speaker himself in future days in regard to matters which he will have to decide in this House. I think it is no slight matter in regard to which the House has been called on to decide. Like the last hon. Gentleman who spoke, I am inclined to think if you select any two Members automatically from the House you cannot do better than take the Chairman of Ways and Means and the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee. The-Chairman of Ways and Means naturally is in charge of our financial proceedings when we are in Committee, and therefore is fully apprised of all the facts. The Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, with the Comptroller and Auditor-General of the finances of the nation, is appointed to look after those affairs. Therefore, being a Member of the Opposition, he would be associated with any assessors in any Advisory Committee which may be appointed to help Mr. Speaker in this matter. If we are going to have two Gentlemen chosen automatically in any way, I do not think we could have done better than to select the Chairman of Ways and Means and the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee 1079 both of whom are men who are fully acquainted with the history of our proceedings and naturally are men of weight and Authority in. the House.
But I am in this difficulty with regard to the whole matter. I have been told, and I have said in regard to the whole matter, that what we are doing in the Parliament Bill is to stereotype the past practice of this House. I have been told and I have said that we are not changing the practice of this House with regard to financial matters. I am now informed a fresh burden is being laid on Mr. Speaker, that we are giving him some new decision that he has to take, and that it is desirable he should have help. I have understood that he is going to decide in future the questions which he has decided in the past —questions of privilege in this House in regard to financial matters, questions of the authority of this House in regard to financial matters. I understood that we were not going a step beyond where we had gone in past days in financial matters, that we were resisting encroachments by the House of Lords on the financial authority of this House. That has been the whole burden of the argument. If that is so, we are not now laying any fresh burden on Mr. Speaker in regard to these matters. Evidently there are others in high quarters who take a different view; therefore we are called upon suddenly and unexpectedly to debate a new situation. Here I rather differ from many hon. Members: I do not think that the matters which Mr. Speaker is going to be called upon to decide are so important or so far reaching as many Members appear to think. I understand it is a mere matter of fact, which will be largely in the knowledge of the House, whether a Bill is or is not a Money Bill. That is a somewhat difficult matter, perhaps, but it is the kind of thing that Mr. Speaker is continually deciding. I really do not understand, and I do not think the Government have told us, that there is such a change in the decisions that Mr. Speaker is going to give. In fact, they have told us the opposite. They are now setting a new procedure with regard to the rulings of Mr. Speaker on financial matters. We have always been satisfied with those rulings.
Mr. Speaker has been the guardian of our privileges, and I think, subject to Mr. Speaker's great authority in this matter, which makes it very difficult to express any opinion which seems to differ from him, it 1080 would be better to leave the decision still in Mr. Speaker's hands. If it is necessary in the case of Mr. Speaker's deciding whether or not a Bill is a Money Bill that he should consult two assessors, impartial representatives of the opinion of parties in this House, why is it not necessary in the case of the other financial rulings which Mr. Speaker continually has to give in the course of our debates? I cannot see that the differentiation between the two cases is such that when he has to decide on a whole Bill whether it is or is not a Money Bill, then he should consult these assessors. If in the case of an ordinary ruling on a point of Order or on Amendments of great and far-reaching importance he can decide without consulting assessors, why cannot he not decide this, I will not call it a new point, even though the House of Lords has to accept the verdict which he may give? It seems to me that by this Amendment you will necessarily weaken his decision in regard to ordinary financial rulings which he may give. The Government have no doubt considered the matter, but to us it is quite new, and comes as a surprise. What would be the position of Mr. Speaker if, having consulted his two assessors, and they are both against him, he then decides on his own judgment that a Bill is or is not a Money Bill? Are his assessors to be bound to secrecy, and not to reveal the advice which they have given to Mr. Speaker? Surely you are putting Mr. Speaker in a more, and not a less, difficult position if you tie him down by statute to consult two particular men. The right hon. Gentleman tells us that the decision will be Mr. Speaker's. But what a burden of responsibility do you throw upon Mr. Speaker if, having appointed these two gentlemen, you tell him he may disregard their expressed opinion and give a far-reaching decision which is to carry effect in the other House and in the country?
I submit that this proposal of the Government really does not leave a free decision to Mr. Speaker. He is necessarily guided by the men whom you have appointed to be assessors to him, and I really cannot conceive that in future Mr. Speaker should give a decision hostile to the two assessors. Like the hon. Gentleman and other speakers in this Debate, I feel the difficulty. Mr. Speaker asks for help to decide these questions, but I do say that this is a very far-reaching proposal, and that it is sprung upon us. I very much would have preferred that it 1081 had been left to the authority of Mr. Speaker to consult whom he would in this House. I cannot but believe he would have found abundant means, means that already exist in our procedure, to give him all the assistance in the matter of advice and consultation which he may require. Had it been left in its present position his decision would have been unfettered and free, and would have been given with all the weight of authority which attaches to his great office.
§ Mr. LAURENCE HARDY
It has been said that no new work is thrown upon Mr. Speaker in connection with this Bill. The Member who said so could not have studied the Parliament Bill. There is new work in connection with Mr. Speaker's certificate on Money Bills which go from us. Mr. Speaker himself, I can well understand, desired to have some collaboration in this matter. I must say I do not think the Government has chosen the best way of settling this difficulty. They do not make a Committee which will relieve Mr. Speaker any way. They leave him with the sole decision, and they leave him in the difficulty which was just now referred to by the hon. Member opposite, namely, that he is obliged to have assessors, yet the judgment is to be entirely his whatsoever their opinion may be. I can quite understand when the right hon. Gentleman said that they had brought forward this scheme in consideration of the wish of Mr. Speaker why he was careful to guard himself from saying that this particular scheme had his approval. I think that is a very important point. I do think, too, that it is a very unfortunate thing that we have to discuss this matter on a manuscript Amendment when we cannot fully appreciate the great importance of every word in connection with a matter which may be of very enormous importance in future. Personally I think that if we were going to proceed with it—and I have always thought that it should be in the form of a Committee with Mr. Speaker as Chairman, and that he should be relieved of this responsibility. The work is entirely separate from the decision which he has to make as Chief Officer of this House, and independent of this House. This is a new matter of an entirely different nature. It is one in which I think it would have been very well to discriminate entirely from the other duties which fall upon Mr. Speaker, and that which are put upon the Committee of which he undoubt- 1082 edly would be Chairman and prime mover in. That is one point which I desire to raise.
In connection with the composition of the Committee I confess I am somewhat inclined to favour the proposal which has. been made in connection with the Amendment which is now actually before us than in connection with the two official Amendments—if I may so call them—which have been selected by the Government. I think it is desirable for us that these offices of Chairmanship, whether of Ways and Means or of the Public Accounts Committee, should be kept entirely separate from other duties. There will be a tendency if they are brought up into this position to select them, not for the work they have to do, but for work which may fall upon them. It is not a very desirable thing therefore to connect these two duties together permanently by statute. It might be if you. had the selection of two hon. Members by the Committee of Selection. That is a different matter, but to fix definitely that these two hon. Members are to be assessors on these points, which may be of vast import does inevitably tend to ensure that their selection will involve, not what they have to do in itself. That is undesirable; it is the thing we desire to avoid, on the selection of Mr. Speaker himself, and upon that ground I do not like the proposal of the Government. We are in this, position on this Amendment. We desire in any way we can to relieve Mr. Speaker and now that it is announced definitely to the House that he wishes for assistance it is difficult to vote against this proposal, though it is in no sense in a form which meets our wishes. I fervently hope the Government may give the matter further-consideration, and shall not insist in rushing it to a Division.
§ Mr. DUKE
My point is this. If a new proposal was, made in this House it would be read a first time and a second time, and would have other stages as well. This proposal comes before the House in 1083 circumstances which unless you rule there must be a Report stage, once it is considered to-night it is done with once and for all. This matter comes up for the first time to-night, and I submit there should be other stages before it is finally decided.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
There is nothing whatever irregular in the proposal to amend the Bill. Certain Amendments made by the Lords are being disagreed with and now an Amendment has been proposed for consideration and can be accepted or rejected. This Amendment stands precisely in the same position as an Amendment on the Report stage of a Bill. It is not necessary that an Amendment on the Report stage of a Bill should be made in a Committee stage. This Amendment stands in exactly the same position as that.
§ Mr. SPEAKER
There would be no Third Reading stage of the Amendment; there would be of the Bill in the ordinary course but not of the Amendment.
Sir H. DALZIEL
There has been a lengthy discussion on this question, but in view of its importance I do not think that it has taken up too much time. I think there is cause for complaint that we have not seen this proposal in print. We have only heard it read from the Table, and the Government and the House have had no opportunity of taking advantage of any suggestion which might have come from any part of the House to assist the Government in the position in which they are placed. I would suggest to the Government, in view of the circumstances under which this proposal has been put forward, that it would have been more helpful to them and more courteous to the House if we had known a few days ago exactly what was going to be proposed, because we did not know of it until we read it in the papers this morning and heard it read from the Table. The proposal to link up, so to speak, the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee in a matter of this kind is a bad and a most indefensible proposal. The Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee has no claim whatever to be 1084 adopted and associated in a matter of this kind. I am not speaking personally, because we all have the greatest respect for the hon. Member who now occupies that position, but he has not been selected because of his knowledge of the Rules of the House or of our Rules of Procedure, but because he is a Member of the Opposition and because he is vigilant in the supervision of public expenditure and may be able to make out a case against the Government of the day. That is the sort of idea that underlies the suggestion that the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee should always belong to the Opposition. It is unfair simply to look round to see where there is a Conservative chairman, and then nominate him to act in this matter. It is a bad selection. I like the suggestion better that the Committee of Selection should have a voice in the selection of the men who shall be appointed to this most responsible work.
I think, however, that we must look in another direction for a solution of this question. We all have every confidence in the Speaker, but what is the position we have to keep in mind? You may have to consider the question of a great and a revolutionary Budget, and decide upon some great and important proposal which may be dividing the two parties in the State, upon which all parties are anxious to know when the Committee stage is reached whether the Speaker feels justified in giving a certificate that it is a Money Bill. There might be a great controversy throughout the country, and a great deal of feeling. Therefore, if you are to have hon. Gentlemen to assist the Speaker to bear the burden against all political parties outside the vortex of party politics, you should have the strongest men in the House of Commons, and, above all, the men who really can assist the Speaker. That certainly does not apply to the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee.
I have criticised the proposal of the Government, and the natural observation now is what better proposal can you suggest, granted that you have to have someone to assist Mr. Speaker? My proposal is that either the whole of the Speaker's Panel should be adopted, or that two of them should be selected by Mr. Speaker. The Panel is nominated by the Speaker at the beginning of the Session, and in most cases there is one representative upon it of every party in the House. I think the rule is that the Speaker nominates at the 1085 commencement of every Session a Panel of not more than five Members as temporary Chairmen of Committees, who act when requested by the Chairman of Ways and Means. I submit that this is a semi-judicial tribunal consisting of men who must have some standing and some experience in the conduct of the business of the House. I suggest to the Government that it would be better either to have the whole of the Speaker's Panel or else have two Members selected by the Speaker to occupy the position which is suggested in the Amendment. In any case, I cannot conceive of the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee being selected because of the qualifications of his office. Such a proposal can only be a makeshift in a delicate situation, and I cannot believe that that will be the best settlement of this most important question.
§ Mr. WALTER LONG
The House is undoubtedly in a very great difficulty; and I do not think it is possible to absolve the Government from blame for the position in which we find ourselves. Of course, the Parliamentary procedure is a very difficult one. The practice in regard to Amendments to the Lords Amendments is not to put them on the Paper, but there is, so far as I know, no precedent for the introduction of an important Amendment arousing a considerable feeling in the House, and, although I do really think we have been placed in a particular difficulty by the action of the Government, yet I admit a new case has arisen, and we must, therefore, try and find our own way out of the difficulty. The suggestion of the Government is that there shall be two officers, who are named in their Amendment. I think it is an unworkable proposal. The Government have told us that the Speaker must have some assistance. We accept that, and I think it has been accepted in all quarters of the House. Therefore, what we want to do is to find the best way of giving the Speaker the assistance. The Deputy-Speaker is authorised now to act in the absence of the Speaker. In the regrettable absence of the Speaker through illness, the Deputy-Speaker takes his place. Under the proposal of the Government, the Deputy-Speaker, acting in the capacity of the Speaker, would be deprived of the assistance given to the Speaker. When the Amendment was proposed earlier in the evening, the right hon. Gentleman told us the words "if practicable" were introduced in case one of those hon. Members might be 1086 absent from the country, and could not be consulted. Surely that strikes a vital blow at the suggestion of the Government. Their suggestion is that the Speaker has asked for, and must be given, some assistance. They then propose a scheme which would not give that assistance to the Deputy-Speaker, acting in the absence of the Speaker. The hon. Member for Sheffield (Mr. James Hope) has a great improvement upon the proposal of the Government. His Amendment, as I understand it, is that two Members of the House should be selected by the Committee of Selection. Now the hon. Gentleman opposite (Sir Henry Dalziel), with whom I am bound to say I have never found myself in agreement before, makes some suggestion which differs from that of my hon. Friend, and I am inclined to favour an amalgamation of the two. The Panel of the Chairman is selected by the Speaker. In this particular question, I think it would be desirable, having regard to the possibilities of the future—some of us believe, at all events I do, in disagreement with the hon. Gentleman who spoke a few moments ago—that you are laying new and heavy duties upon the Speaker which may produce very bitter controversy, such as has never arisen before in regard to the position of the Chair. It is necessary if you are going to surround him with any Advisory Board to bring between Mr. Speaker and his Advisory Board some independent, trusted authority in the House to select that Advisory Board.
I venture to suggest that a way out of the difficulty would be to take my hon. Friend's proposal that the Committee of Selection shall, in addition to their existing duties, select an advisory board for Mr. Speaker, and that the selection shall be made, not from the whole House, but from the panel of Chairmen which has already been constituted by Mr. Speaker. I think, too, if that were made elastic so that from time to time the Committee of Selection could fill up the place of a Member absent through illness or any other cause which renders his presence impossible, then you would get rid of the difficulty that the advisory board might be non-existent, and you would secure the presence of advisers chosen by the most trusted Members of the House, because the panel of Chairmen is composed from year to year of men in whom we have confidence and who are selected because they are the most experienced Members of the House. They are called upon to discharge 1087 very difficult duties—duties sometimes almost as difficult as those which devolve on the occupant of the Chair in the House. They would get rid of the difficulty to which I have called attention, and therefore I venture to suggest an amalgamation of these proposals so as to provide the machinery necessary for the purposes of a breakdown.
Mr. J. W. WILSON
I accept, in common with most Members of the House, the position that it is necessary for the House to choose some sort of Advisory Committee to consult with Mr. Speaker on matters that may conceivably arise in the future, and to that extent to share his responsibility. I am inclined to agree with the right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken that an amalgamation of the various proposals would be the better way of arriving at what we all desire. A good deal of criticism has been expressed on the views the Government have put forward. There are two distinct bodies of Chairmen in the House. There are the Chairmen of Standing Committees, a body which is set up at the beginning of the Session by the Committee of Selection themselves. It is drawn from different sections of the House, and they in turn choose members of their own body to preside over the four Standing Committees upstairs. Then there is another body which is, owing to the presence in the House of the Deputy-Chairman seldom called into operation. It is a body of five Chairmen, and I doubt if any hon. Member of the House can say at the moment who those five Chairmen are. It shows how little their services are used. Mr. Speaker nominates them at the beginning of Parliament to take the place of the Chairman of Ways and Means when required. I think it would be very advisable to keep the selection of two Members in some body outside these two bodies of five and eight. I have had some experience of seeing Chairmen chosen for Standing Committees upstairs. I do not think a body of five or eight is always the best body to decide which of their number should fulfil a responsible position. I would prefer to leave it to the Committee of Selection to decide, and my suggestion would be whether you take the panel of occasional Chairmen or the panel of Chairmen of Standing Committees, and there is something to be said for both—if you give the Committee of Selection power to choose two of the five nominated by the Speaker you have to some extent a combination of 1088 the judgment of all the authorities. That, on the whole, is the one that appears to me at present most likely to suit the general sense of the House.
§ Mr. F. E. SMITH
Surely the House is placed in a very extraordinary position. Here at the last stage in which the Amendments of the House of Lords are considered it becomes clear that the Government has introduced a proposal which, as far as I have been able to observe the course of the Debate, commands the support of no considerable section of their supporters. We are involved in a discussion now in which we are called upon to consider a variety of competing and alternative methods of providing Mr. Speaker with the advice which it now appears to be the common conclusion of the House Mr. Speaker may properly ask. The hon. Gentleman who spoke from below the Gangway has made one suggestion, the hon. Gentleman who has just spoken has made another, an hon. Friend of mine on this side has made a third, and, so far as I am able precisely to understand, the suggestion of my right hon. Friend (Mr. Walter Long), has made a fourth. If I am right in that view there are before the House at present, besides the Government proposal, four or five other alternative suggestions as to the various methods by which it might be possible to supplement the opinion of Mr. Speaker in the difficulties in which he may be placed. Whatever else may be made clear by this divergence of opinion, I will undertake to say it has been made clear that the Government are guilty of wholesale mismanagement. Let no one arrive hurriedly at the conclusion that this is an inevitable mistake. If this confusion has arisen at the last moment it has arisen for one reason alone, that when I and my hon. Friend insistently pressed on the Government in the course of the Committee discussions on this subject that it was wrong and unsafe to leave to Mr. Speaker alone the decision of this point, we were met by the Government time after time with the argument that it was not unsafe to leave this decision to Mr. Speaker, and that it might be left properly and fully to him alone.
We have been told to-night by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that Mr. Speaker has indicated the opinion that it would be to the advantage of the House that he should be reinforced in the decisions at which he arrives. Was it not possible to inquire into the view of Mr. Speaker before the decision was taken in 1089 the Committee stage? Ought it not to have been the first duty of any Government which was making so momentous a departure in our legislation to have ascertained, at the earliest stages, and while it would still have been possible on the floor of the House of Commons, to submit and examine competing schemes, whether Mr. Speaker held the views which have now been announced? I agree with what has been said by the Leader of the Opposition that this is, as far as we are concerned, a domestic dispute. It is not a dispute in which we are concerned to take part. No so-called concession which is made by the Government has the slightest value having regard to the view which I and my hon. Friend take of the proposal which we have now under discussion. But the House may draw a valuable lesson from the attitude which the Government has taken up on this Amendment, and it may usefully contrast the attitude which the Government took up in reference to other Amendments. We were told when we discussed this in Committee stage that the Government had considered and examined into the case, and that there were no grounds for reinforcing Mr. Speaker. If the Government were wrong on this point, how do we know they were not wrong on other points? Their minds were made up and they would not give the slightest consideration to the arguments which I and my hon. Friend pressed upon them. This difficulty has been manufactured by the Government, it exists primarily between themselves and their supporters, and it is one final illustration of the way in which their conduct of this Bill has been bungled and mismanaged.
Mr. NEIL PRIMROSE
I do not think there is anyone who has followed this Debate, or at least anyone on this side, who now thinks that this Amendment was suggested in order to placate the Opposition. Any Member who holds that view must have a low idea of the intelligence of the Government. After crushing defeats twice in two years are the Opposition to be reconciled by an Amendment which does not get support from any side of the House? I cannot support the Amendment. It has been pointed out that the Speaker is the guardian of the honour of this House, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer has pointed out that he will have to come to decisions which are very weighty in character, and that he may incur a certain amount of odium, and that it would relieve 1090 him of that odium if he had these advisers when he had to come to different decisions. But how can he be relieved when the assessors are Gentlemen whose advice he is bound in no way to follow? How can he be relieved when he has that Advisory Committee with whose selection he has nothing to do? The Government is an Advisory Committee to the Sovereign; in this case we have an Advisory Committee to the Speaker. The difference is that the Sovereign, when he accepts the advice of the Government, has no responsibility for the decision, but the Speaker in this case is alone responsible. I think the Speaker should have some support and advice on difficult occasions, but I do protest most emphatically against the selection of these advisers being in other hands than his own. In such a responsible position the Speaker, and he alone, should select his advisers.
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
Would it be in order to withdraw my Amendment, so that I may move it in an altered form?
§ Amendment to the proposed Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
I beg to move to amend the proposed Amendment by leaving out the words, "the Chairman of Committee of Ways and Means, and the Chairman of the Committee of Public Accounts," and to insert instead thereof the words, "two members to be appointed from the Chairman's Panel at the beginning of each Session by the Committee of Selection."
§ 11.0 P.M.
As one of the incriminated Members in this discussion, but as one who has been treated with kindly indulgence, I should like to say that I very much regret from one point of view that the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee is likely to disappear from this Amendment. I do so on the ground that for the first time the House and the Government hear that there is a Committee of Public Accounts. It is not the duty of the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee to inform his Leader how ho may oppose the Government. He has always considered himself an officer of the House and to be a Chairman of the House, representing the whole House, so that the whole House may take an interest in economy. 1091 If this Debate does nothing else it may, perhaps, have the result that the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee will not in future have to go bat in hand to the Chief Government Whip, or the Chancellor of the Exchequer, or the Prime Minister, begging for a bare half-day for the real consideration of economy by this House. But I am rather glad on other grounds that the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee has disappeared from this Amendment. I want to support the Amendment of my hon. Friend (Mr. James Hope). I am sorry that in one speech a certain amount of party argument was introduced when the House was otherwise engaged in trying to find a solution of a very real difficulty. Let me remind the House that two of the greatest Speakers of modern times—the present occupant of the Chair of this House and Lord Peel in the other House—have both expressed the opinion that the Speaker ought to have some assistance in this great difficulty. I think that ought to weigh very largely with the House. It weighed very largely with me. Then we come to the consideration of the question how that assistance is to be given. The hon. Member for South Worcestershire, who has great experience himself, suggested from the other side the words which have now been moved by my hon. Friend, that the Panel selected by the Speaker should be the corpus from which the two Members should be chosen, and that the Committee of Selection should be the persons to choose them. That seems to me to be the very best possible solution of the difficulty. We have in that way the great advantage of the knowledge of Mr. Speaker and of the best persons in the House of Commons who are entrusted with the Chairmenships of the House, and who further have a sense of responsibility as well as a knowledge of the rules and needs of the House. We have as the choosers the Committee of Selection, who are appointed because they are Members of the House who are well acquainted with all parts of the House and with the capabilities of Members. It seems to me that forms the very best solution of the difficulty, and it is one which I very much hope the House will see its way to accept.
§ Sir RYLAND ADKINS
I fully appreciate the position in which the House finds itself. Like many Members on this side of the House, I should be grateful if the 1092 House would find a Committee to assist Mr. Speaker without selecting the Chairman of Ways and Means because more and more that official is becoming analagous to the Speaker in his impartiality. I think some of us know from practical experience what is the character of assessors. They are bound to represent, not in a party spirit, but still with special knowledge, the two sides from which they are respectively brought. Therefore, I venture to support the suggestion that has been made by more than one Member of this House that the proper body from whom these two should be chosen would be the Chairman's Panel, not the Speaker's Panel, and chosen by the Committee of Selection with a clear understanding that the two Gentlemen are drawn from the opposite sides of the House.
Sir H. DALZIEL
I hope that the Government will accept this solution, which I think would be satisfactory.
§ Mr. LLOYD GEORGE
So long as the House, as I understand, accepts the general idea that the Speaker is permitted in this respect to be helped, and there is a suggestion that a Committee should be set up for the purpose of assisting him in arriving at a conclusion, I do not think that there ought to be any difficulty as long as we apply our minds to meeting that desire in finding a way which will commend itself to the general sense of the House. As I understand, the suggestion which now comes, not for the first time in the course of this Debate, and commends itself on the whole to the general sense of the House, is that there should be a selection from the panel of Chairmen. All the Government desire to do is to choose a body that commends itself generally to the opinion of hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House. I think that the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition threw out a suggestion of this kind at the start, and we have been considering it since, and as there seems to be a very general response to the suggestion on this side of the House we should be quite willing to accept that Amendment. I hope now that we may be able to come to a decision on this point, and proceed to the next Amendment.
§ Amendment to the proposed Amendment agreed to.
§ Proposed Amendment, as amended, agreed to.