HC Deb 08 May 1911 vol 25 cc948-83

Are you in favour of introducing the following system into State schools, namely:

The State schoolmaster, in school hours, teaches selected Bible lessons from a reading book provided for the purpose, but is not allowed to give sectarian teaching."

This is a wonderful commentary on the statement that our proposal was impracticable. It goes on to provide:—

"Any minister of religion is entitled in school hours to give the children of his own denomination an hour's religious instruction on such day or days as the school committee can arrange for.

"Any parent is entitled to withdraw his child from all religious teaching if he

chooses to do so. [Yes.]
"Directions to be printed in red ink."

There is the whole solution of the difficulties which are said to arise under the actual reference of a particular Bill to the people.


May I ask the hon. Member to say whether there is one square for the record "Yes" or "No." Will it fit into the one square?


I think not, but the Act is in the Library and can be seen there. The reference is 8 Edward VII., No. 11, Queensland Statutes, 1907–8. I think the voter has to put a line through "Yes" or "No." I think I have now given the substance of the ballot paper, and I hope I have not misled the hon. Member on the matter. I think that disposes very largely of the accusation made by the Home Secretary against this side of the House of partiality when he said that our suggestions with regard to the Referendum bear the impress of partiality and injustice. I think I have given an instance to the contrary in actual working order sanctioned by a Government of to-day. We have been told that there is no precedent for our proposal, and that it is revolutionary and undemocratic. I think the instances which I have given show that it is not undemocratic, and that if it contained any trace of partiality or injustice the Prime Minister of Queensland would not have sanctioned it, but would rather have insisted upon the Government swamping the upper legislative Assembly by creating fresh Members. Quotations have been made from Professor Dicey on Constitutional Law, but I suggest that the opinions of those authorities, however learned, who have written before the introduction of this Bill has not the weight which the right hon. Gentleman and hon. Gentlemen opposite suggest, because they refer to a time when the Constitution was unwritten and the time when the Constitution could only be considered by the practice and usages of Parliament. We are now dealing with a different state of affairs, for we are dealing with a revolutionary state.

If this Bill was not revolutionary in its character and in its intentions I do not think it would have the support either of hon. Gentlemen opposite or of hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway who are now supporting this measure through thick and thin. This measure is revoluntionary, and it is because of that fact that the various instances and quotations cited from the speches of former Members of this House and from great constitutional lawyers are without effect. We have to look at the state of affairs as they exist under this Bill, and I think the words with which the Leader of the Opposition wound up his speech to-night will in the long run be found to be true. A Referendum would restore the powers which the Upper Chamber has at present of referring measures to the people. The power which the Second Chamber has now of referring measures to the people is a sort of Referendum which is going to be abolished by this Bill if it is passed. We are only asking that that institution which has been known to this country for a very long series of years should remain. The power of referring back to the people from whom our authority comes, is what we desire to secure and, really and truly, this is distinctly a constitutional move to restore the balance of the Constitution in a way the most democratic nations of the earth use for the purpose of arriving at a just conclusion as to what the view of the people and the will of the people is. I do not think we can be accused of being revolutionary, but really, if we are anything we are sticklers for the strict constitutional methods which have been known to us and our forefathers.


I have given many votes on this Bill, but this is the first time I have risen to give verbal expression to an opinion upon it, and I am sure the House will bear with me just for a minute or two while I deal with some portion of the speech to which we have just listened. The hon. Member quoted the example of Queensland, but when you come to understand that Queensland has only a population something like that of Manchester less Salford, and that its interest is largely one, you will realise it has no real comparison with our own country, with its com- plicated interests, its various nationalities, some of which, as in certain parts of Wales, speak a different language, and you cannot draw any definite conclusion that because a thing is good in the case of Queensland it would be equally good in this country. For myself, I think the opposite is the case. It is only necessary to look at this Amendment to see it would be impossible to put questions in the simple way you can in a small, sparsely-populated country such as Queensland.

9.0 P.M.

Let us take the first proviso in the Amendment with regard to questions affecting the existence of the Crown, and especially the latter part of the proviso dealing with the Protestant Succession. The last Parliament passed a Bill dealing with the Protestant Declaration of the King. It was a Bill which the common sense of those who were able to thoroughly appreciate all the circumstances would lead them to agree was a justifiable measure, and it was passed by a majority, I think, of both sides of the House. But if it had been submitted to the Referendum I doubt whether passions would not have been aroused, and whether religious difficulties and differences of a most acute character would not have arisen; in fact, I doubt very much whether the Declaration would ever have been altered at all. It is not such a simple matter where you have a great and conglomerate population such as we have in Great Britain and Ireland as it is in the case of small countries such as those to which the hon. Member has referred. Let us take the next section of the Amendment, which says there shall be a Referendum on a Bill which establishes a National Assembly dealing with the local affairs either of Wales, England, Ireland, or Scotland. Intelligent as our electors are, I am sure the hon. Member will agree it is not likely the English electors in cur county constituencies would have the technical or administrative knowledge to enable them to decide whether some kind of local council in Scotland would work better than our present system. I could understand the proposal if Scotland was to decide the matter. I could understand it if the question of the establishment of a National Assembly to manage purely Irish affairs was to be submitted to the Referendum in Ireland. I could understand it if a similar question with regard to Wales was to be submitted to the electors of Wales. It is a moral certainty, however, those questions could not be decided by the electors nearly so well as by representatives who are chosen because of their ability in government and administration, and who are sent to an Assembly of this description. It seems to me they are far more competent judges of complicated matters of that description than the average elector, however intelligent.

Take the case of the redistribution of seats. Does the hon. Member suggest for a moment that the people of Southampton would know whether the constituents of Stoke-on-Trent were properly balanced in a schedule put before them for the redistribution of the 600 and odd constituencies in the country? It seems to me to be utterly preposterous. It only requires to state the proposition to see that it is utterly impossible under present circumstances. To take the case of Queensland, a sparsely-populated country, largely engaged in one particular business with interests identical, and to compare it with the centre of a great Empire with 46,000,000 people and its varied interests and different. nationalities and say what that little country can do is an illustration how simple it would be to apply a similar solution in our own country is to fail to appreciate what we are talking about. I felt it was necessary some statement should be made pointing out how utterly futile it is to make comparisons of this description. Hon. Members must understand this is not going to stay at the Referendum. Why should you refer proposals to the people unless you are prepared to go a little further? I should perhaps be in favour of the Referendum if you would agree to the Initiative. I am positively certain, if a vote were taken on the question whether the whole of the burden of the expenditure of the country should be borne by those citizens who have an income of over £500 a year, I could get an absolute majority of those whose incomes are under £200 or £300 a year to agree to that shifting of the burden. If one question, why not another?

The Leader of the Opposition has scouted the suggestion of the Home Secretary that the question of the Crown should be submitted to the people. At, the present time the Englishman no doubt dearly loves a lord, but I am afraid he does not really love the landlord, and, if you could submit the question of whether the whole of the country of Scotland should be used for huge deer forests at the present time, to the extent of millions of acres, I think the answer would be simply astounding. I can imagine that the question of land ownership, and a question of land being used for this certain purpose, could only be answered in one way. There is a fit subject for the Referendum, and for the initiative. Does any one imagine there could be any answer but one from Scottish people. As a matter of fact I believe this is a subject upon which many hon. Members will be found to be Socialistically inclined. I believe in the Referendum, and in the Initiative, and I believe that that may be the only way by which we may be eventually able to secure the policy most suitable for this country. It is a policy on which people at the two ends of the social scale are united. It is a policy on which they can come together. But it is a policy which cannot be limited to certain subjects. Once say that the people are to decide one question, why should not they decide all questions, and why not enable them to suggest matters for decision themselves? I think it is a most dangerous policy from the point of view especially of the propertied classes of this country.

I am secretly delighted that the Prime Minister always makes some kind of reservation. I believe if you were to take a Referendum to-morrow as to whether the railways should be national property, and as to whether traders should get some-thing like decent treatment, you would have an overwhelming vote from the commercial classes in favour of the State monopoly of railways. But it was never intended to submit points like his. These ideas are simply put forward with the intention of dishing Tariff Reform. Suppose, for instance, the right hon. Gentleman, having promised to submit a question to the Referendum, had found that the majority were dead against this proposal, you are told he could have gone on for five years, although his policy had been defeated at the poll. It seems to me that a policy given birth to under conditions like that is not a policy which would be put forward in a haphazard fashion. One can imagine other questions being put to the country, questions with regard to the cost of the Navy, the cost of the Army and the cost of the whole administration of the Government of this country. Could not one imagine it being suggested that the burdens should be put on people who do not come within a given category? I think representative institutions have been the genius of our race so far, and we have shown that where we have a stable Government with representative institutions we can defend them as against revolutionary proposals for the mere sake of party politics.


I had not intended to occupy the time of the House with any observations of my own, as this is a subject which to many of us who sit on this side of the House, and to some who sit on the other side, is personally painful. It is very difficult for us to express the feelings with which we approach the proposals of the Government in moderate language. Hon. Members taunt us with revolutionary proposals. I cannot conceal from myself that the Referendum is a revolutionary change, a change which is out of harmony with the spirit of our institutions, and out of harmony with the character of our past Parliamentary life. It has been the boast of Englishmen that our constitutional system has reached a degree of development whch has permeated all rights, not merely the rights of property, but the rights of our liberties and our lives. That is a state off things which has not existed in any other country since the world began. The proposal at the present time is that instead of constitutional Government we should submit ourselves to the caprice of whoever happens to occupy the position of Prime Minister and should enable the majority in the House to impose certain measures upon the people. How can it be said that the constituencies are not capable of forming a judgment on an Education Bill How can it be that they are not capable of forming a fair or just judgment on the question of the incidence of taxation? Can you take the whole of these questions and submit them to one Referendum at a General Election, complicated by subjects which involve the strongest political feeling and include the most direct appeals to the electorate. Is that wise? Would the result be satisfactory? When the hon. Member confesses to the House that the electorate is not capable of a trustworthy decision upon any one of these questions in detail, what becomes of the mandate which he gets in the confusion and turmoil of a General Election for the changes which we are facing here at this moment. No man has greater reverence for the judgment of his fellow-countrymen than I have, but I was born under an allegiance to the King and the Parliament of this country. Hon. Members propose to change my allegiance and to transfer it, not even to the Sovereign —to the King and the body of my fellowcountrymen—but to submit me to a decision taken by a political junta and carried through without the possibility of appeal on my part to those who are the masters of us all. The Caesar of our time is the constituencies. It was a perilous thing in all times to appeal to Caesar, but what is the alternative here? The alternative is to sacrifice the institutions, built up as the hon. Member admitted by generations and centuries of sacrificing effort on the part of the people of this country. We are to sacrifice them and we are to sacrifice them to-day, or next month, or some time in the course of the present year, so that the people of this country who have professed for long years to be attached to those institutions are to lose them without the opportunity of saying "aye" or "no" upon the subject.

Hon. Members are not ready to go to a Plebiscite or Referendum on such questions of whether we should be governed by a Second Chamber or whether we are to abolish the House of Lords, or any question of that sort. The hon. Member mentioned one, the Protestant character of the succession, but he did not mention the proposal of Home Rule. Why should not hon. Gentlemen opposite be willing to ask the judgment of the people of these two islands upon the question of Home Rule? Because they have no confidence in their judgment, or rather they have an entire confidence in what the result would be. The hon. Member tells us that the judgment of the people has been taken upon Home Rule. If that be the fact, and if hon. Members have such confidence in the result of a poll of the constituencies on Home Rule when it was combined with a multitude of other topics, why do they object to the opinion of the people being taken now f The Union of these two islands has endured for 700 years. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh, oh."] I think I am not far wrong with regard to the relation and the dependency of Ireland upon the sister island. The union between these islands began by conquest, and it has endured for 700 years; but whether it be 100 years from the date of the Union, or whether it be 700 years, which is fixed at the time of Henry II., it is a characteristic of this country which has endured for ages. Hon. Members propose to get rid of it in a year or two years, and is it not worth while, and is it not a fair plea, having regard to the interests which are involved, that if hon. Members are right about it, whether it be by Referendum, by General Election, or by some other means, they should have the confirmatory voice of the people of this country? On this side of the House we believe these measures of the party opposite to be fraught with disaster, but upon the other hand, if our countrymen by a considered vote decide against us, we must bow to the inevitable or the unavoidable.

We must submit to the judgment of our countrymen, but what we protest against is to be submitted to the personal government of hon. Gentlemen opposite. An hon. Member says that the majority shall rule, but the Referendum would put it beyond all question whether the majority did rule or not. Our opinion on this side of the House is that the minority is to rule, and if hon. Members have their way in regard to this question of the Parliament Bill, we believe that the minority is to rule by means of Parliamentary machinery and Parliamentary manŒuvre. If hon. Members opposite are to carry through a measure of Home Rule by these means, we say it is a measure of the minority, and the only means of obtaining the will of the majority is that His Majesty's Government should be bound on these occasons, either collectively or separately, to take the judgment of the Constituencies, and that there should be a decision in these great matters which must command the obedience and the assent of the people of this country, whether they happen to be the majority or the minority. This question of the Referendum I regard as fraught with difficulty and danger, and I share a great deal of the apprehension which has been expressed with respect to the departure from the old constitutional course. But we are put in a position to-day in which the alternative is to see, first of all, the Parliamentary government of the country and then the Parliamentary Union of the kingdom destroyed, and in view of this and other changes which are held before us as th3 intended result of this measure which is proposed in the first instance, in this time of change and in a period when the constitutional Government of this country is to be endangered without appeal, much as I dislike changes in the Constitution of the country, I regard the Referendum as a much less evil than that which is sought to be imposed upon us from the other side of the House.


I am sure the House must have listened with a great deal of interest to the eloquent speech of the hon. and learned Member for Exeter, but it seems to me that those who have listened to him will not be inclined to believe in the Referendum any more than they believed before. There is no doubt of the position of the hon. Member. He is going to vote for this Amendment, not because he believes in it, not because he likes it, but simply because it is proposed by Members on his own side to put some additional check upon the will of the people and the coming into law of that will. This proposal that we have to consider in the Amendment now before the House is, I venture to think, not proposed in any straightforward and honest manner. It is not proposed in order that the will of the people may prevail. It is not proposed in order that matters which they desire may come into effect as soon or as quickly as possible, but that they shall be subject to as great difficulty and as much delay as possible. That is the reason why I believe that, although the Referendum may have a future in our history, and be in the time to come not only in the form of an obstructive, but in the form of an initiative, and in the form of a review of legislation already passed useful—while I believe in a Referendum on these lines, I shall still vote against this Amendment. But the real fact of the matter, as it seems to me, is this. The Referendum in the various forms in which we have had it was started on a sudden in the very midst of the last General Election. It was not a well-considered policy. It was not really liked by those who proposed it. It was proposed simply because they did not know what to do. They were plunging about and they thought they must have some new and startling cry, and suddenly someone, it is understood it was some wild journalist, who a little while ago had been a Fenian, laid it before the Leader of the Opposition. He came down on a sudden to the Albert Hall, and the next morning the whole face of the General Election was changed, and there was a new cry found for the Tory party. I congratulate them on having found a cry at all. A precious difficult thing it was, but they succeeded, and I give them credit for the ingenuity and for the courage with which they adopted the proposal of their friendly adviser. The form in which the proposal was put before the country by the Leader of the Opposition at the beginning of December last was that one subject especially was to be put before the people by the Refer- endum—Tariff Reform. Under this Clause does Tariff Reform come in at all? Not at all. It is only the subjects that we want to pass which are in this Clause, and not the subjects that Gentlemen on the other side want to pass. Could there be a more obvious proof of the insincerity and the unfairness of the Clause?

What are the arguments with which we have been favoured in its support? We have had a speech from the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Neville) which consisted of a learned and interesting lecture upon the state of things in Queensland; and I felt proud of that Colony. I also felt a longing for the day when England would be as democratic as Queensland. They have there no House of Lords. Thank the Lord for that. They have no established Church. I hope we shall have none in a very short time. They have one man one vote. I hope we shall have that before this Parliament is ended. They have a Labour Ministry. I should not object to that. They have swinging land taxes and no big landlords. That is a state of things I hope to see in my native land. But really, the circumstances that suit a young and a small country are not necessarily the ideal circumstances and conditions for an old country like ours. I do not feel at all moved by the argument that because they are going ahead on democratic lines in Australia, therefore, on that account, we should adopt principles which they have put in practice. Speaking of the Referendum in the Commonwealth as distinct from the Colony of Queensland, let me point out that the recent Referendum, the results of which have only just been announced as having taken place, has brought to light this fact. The result, we are told, of the recent popular vote in the Commonwealth has been the outcome of a most active and elaborate agitation by the capitalist interests. It is said that the big trusts and capitalists have spent £100,000 in agitating for the Referendum they have just had. I expect that is a great deal more than they have spent over a general election. We have seen a great deal of money spent by the anti-Budget people, by the liquor interest, by the Land League, and the landlords over the last two General Elections. I hope they learnt a lesson, and will keep their money in their pocket for a better purpose in future. But though I am quite ready myself to fight the forces of capital and wealth which may be brought against the party of progress, I do not desire to see a great expenditure of wealth—I say so in the interests of the wealthy classes themselves—whenever a Referendum can be taken. We do not want to be ruled by wealth and a loud-voiced Press and all the powers that wealth can bring to obscure the issue. We want to be ruled by common-sense. We want to be guided by the instincts of reason, and that is what I believe the people are, on the whole, ruled by at present. Let us have an election every three, four, or five years, and let the people have some time to look forward to the questions on which they will deliver their verdict when the time comes, and then I believe we shall get at each recurring General Election a practical and sensible Referendum on the issues which have come and are before the country. I have very great pleasure in saying, that, though I believe, in a modified sense, in a democratic Referendum, I shall go with complete conviction and satisfaction into the Lobby against this Clause, which is not a genuine or a fair Clause.


The hon. Member objects to the Clause apparently on the ground that amongst the matters excepted from the operation of the present Bill Tariff Reform is included. If he is very anxious for it I can almost promise him that Tariff Reform will be included amongst the four or five things which are to be excepted from the operation of the Bill unless they go to a Referendum. If that is the only objection which he has to the Clause it can be very easily removed. I hope many of his friends on that side of the House only object to it on the same ground. The hon. Member said my hon. and learned Friend (Mr. Duke) supported the proposal for the Referendum because it was proposed as a check between the will of the people and the coming into law of the will of the people. That, of course, is a totally erroneous view of the position of my hon. and learned Friend, or any of the rest of us on this matter. The reason why we support the proposal is perfectly clear. It is that on great questions which we maintain have not been properly put to the people at a General Election, such questions, for instance, as Home Rule, which is an outstanding example of the kind of question we mean, there should be no doubt whatever as to the verdict of the people. We claim that on such a question as Home Rule the issues involved are much too great, and the consequences which may result from passing a measure which is not really desired by the people are so great, it is absolutely imperative that the will of the people should be obtained in some manner which is perfectly clear, and in such a way that nobody will be able to say the matter was never properly put before the country. After all that has been said on the First and Second Readings, and on the Committee stage of this Bill, I do not believe there is a single Member of this House who will say from his heart that the question of Home Rule has been approved of by the people of this country. I maintain that without the slightest hesitation or doubt.

I see that the Prime Minister, speaking at Manchester on Saturday, again tried to bolster up the claim that Home Rule was properly before the country at the last election. He gave to his Manchester audience practically the same arguments he gave to us in the House of Commons. [An HON. MEMBER: "They have never been answered."] In my very humble way I will endeavour to answer them now. To begin with, I do not agree with the hon. Member below the Gangway on the opposite side that they have never been answered. I think the answer I gave myself on a former occasion, and also the answer given by other Members, are quite sufficient to demolish the arguments adduced by the Prime Minister or anybody else on the other side of the House. I regret to have to reiterate arguments used before, but since the hon. Member opposite does not seem to have heard them, I think they ought to be repeated. At the election in December last more than half of the Ministers did not take the trouble to mention Home Rule in their election addresses. I think most thinking men would consider that an absolutely sufficient justification of the statement we make that Home Rule was not properly put before the country. There is also the fact that out of about 260 hon. Members on the other side only about sixty-nine mentioned the matter in their addresses at all. I think I am right in saying that Home Rule is admitted to be a grave proposition to bring before the House, and hon. Members will also agree with me that it has been the custom in the past., whatever may be the custom in the future, for a candidate at an election to put before the electors all the great and imminent political questions and give his opinions upon them. Nobody can deny, whatever may be thought of the merits of Home Rule, that it is a great and important question, and if that is so, every Member in favour of Home Rule who intended to make that a great and important question would naturally put it in his address. These facts alone are absolutely sufficient to demolish the argument that Home Rule was fully put before the country at the last election. The Prime Minister quoted some of his own speeches in which he mentioned Home Rule, and he also quoted speeches by Members of the Front Bench on this side, and notably those by the Leader of the Opposition, for the purpose of showing that Home Rule was brought before the country.

We all admit that the Prime Minister in his speech at the Albert Hall dealt. I do not say fully, but at some length with the question of Home Rule. I admit also that in his speeches in Scotland he referred to Home Rule. But does any hon. Member on the benches opposite maintain that those references in themselves justify the statement that the Home Rule question was properly put before the country? It would be ridiculous to make any such assumption as that. Take the Parliament Bill itself. Suppose the Prime Minister had made a speech in the Albert Hall in which he referred to that Bill, and suppose that he had referred to it once or twice in Scotland, and again in England, would hon. Members maintain that it had been dealt with sufficiently Of course they would not. To have a great constitutional question like Home Rule or the Parliament Bill properly put before the constituencies I maintain that it is necessary that every Member of the House should have dealt with the question fully and at almost every meeting he addressed. I have not taken the trouble to find out what all the hon. Members opposite said at their meetings, but I ask them to search their own consciences and to tax their recollection. I think if they do so, they will find that just as seldom as they could did they refer to the question of Home Rule. That being so, they are not justified in passing a Home Rule Bill into law. They are bound to do one of two things, namely, to go back to the country and have an election at which Home Rule will be the sole issue presented, or to introduce into the Parliament Bill some amendment by which Home Rule can be submitted to the people by means of the Referendum, or by some other means which will put it beyond doubt whether the people of the country are desirous of passing a Home Rule Bill or not. If for no other reason, and without going into other questions set forth in the Amendment, and looking at it from the point of view of an Ulster man—[An HON MEMBER: "Hear, hear."] Naturally, I make no secret of that. The hon. Member seems surprised at that. I am naturally concerned about the Parliament Bill, and especially about this Amendment in relation to the question of Home Rule. We in Ulster, where I come from, are opposed to Home Rule.


Are you Ulster?


I am glad my hon. Friend has interrupted me.


You are less than half of the province of Ulster. You are only a corner of Ireland.


Hon. Members below the Gangway are very fond of regarding themselves as the Irish party. I admit that they represent a great portion of Ireland, out they do not represent the Unionist Divisions in the North of Ireland. On the other hand, I and my Unionist colleagues represent a considerable part of Ulster. For the convenience of debate, if for no other reason, it has been the practice to speak of Members below the Gangway as the "Irish party," but they do not represent the whole of Ireland at all. I admit that I and my colleagues do not represent the whole of Ulster, but it is convenient to refer to us as the "Ulster party," just as hon. Members below the Gangway are referred to as the Irish party. In that sense I speak of myself as an Ulster man. The people of Unionist Ulster are opposed to Home Rule in the most determined manner possible. And we appeal to hon. Members opposite, many of whom we know are very lukewarm upon this subject of Home Rule, to see to it that, either by means of this Referendum Clause or by menas of a General Election before Home Rule is passed, they may avert what we believe to be one of the greatest disasters that this country can suffer. Nothing that they had ever had to undergo could compare with the disaster which would be caused by the granting of Home Rule, and we from the North of Ireland appeal to them most earnestly to hesitate before they reject this Amendment which would safeguard our views in this matter.


Hon. Members have already pointed out that for some mysterious reason Tariff Reform has been excluded from this auctioneer's catalogue. I wish to point out the very significant fact that Disestablishment has also been excluded. Looking at the Order Paper, I was very much astounded to observe the latest development of the hostility of the Unionist party towards anything which the Welsh nation, however unanimously, may desire. The latest development is this: that while even Home Rule shall become law, subject to a Referendum, Disestablishment shall not become law at all, even subject to a Referendum. That is the arrangement on the Order Paper, and, observe, it was intentionally done. That is how I interpret the Resolutions to which I have just been calling attention. My recollection is that the last time we had this Referendum proposal before he House Welsh Disestablishment was included as one of the subjects of the Referendum. Now representations have been made from some exalted quarter or other, and out goes Disestablishment altogether, and the House of Lords in the future, as in the past, is to have sole and absolute power to prevent Disestablishment under any conditions whatsoever. The position is that this Bill, taking the two Amendments, shall not apply to Disestablishment at all, not even under the exception of the Referendum which you are taking here. That is very significant, because it throws a little light upon the general unreality and sham of the whole of this discussion that we have been having in connection with putting restriction after restriction between the people and certain objects of legislation, however much the people in certain parts of the country may have desired those objects of legislation.

The whole meaning, after all, of this Referendum proposal is that under the new scheme—because the Parliament Bill is going to become law and hon. Members reconcile themselves to that obvious fact —they want to put in some other obstacles to defeat the measures, to put impediments in their way so as to make it impossible for them to become law. But the latest device to prevent Disestablishment under any condition whatsoever is all of a piece with the general point of view of hon. Members opposite, and that point of view which expresses itself from time to time is perfectly unreal and a perfect sham. I say that for this rason: I have been watching very carefully. I do not think I have participated at all in these long Debates before. I have been waiting to see. I really thought that at some time or other hon. Members would have come down to something real in this desire of theirs to interpose something between the people of this country and its panic and temporary passion, and all those other things we have been hearing about in such eloquent terms from time to time. Of all the subjects that might be most prejudiced by panic, the subjects that lead to national panics and to panics which in their affect would be absolutely irremediable, are not national measures, but international and Imperial measures. Why is it that those are not actually here? Nobody in the whole course of our long discussions has proposed an Amendment to enable a House of Lords or a Second Chamber, the latest pattern of which we have had described this afternoon, to put a break upon the people in a moment of passion. They may be rushing headlong into war, perhaps with a European Power, but nobody has proposed an Amendment of that sort.

We do not want that. Apparently we got along without it in the past, and hon. Members felt that they could not be brazen-faced enough at this hour of the day to propose an Amendment of that sort, because they know very well that the whole system of the country has been that in regard to those things the House of Commons alone has stood between the people and their panics and their passions and the consequence of those panics and passions. Surely if the Single Chamber itself, if this imperfect House of Commons—with a capital I on the imperfect—that is attached by Members opposite like the Noble Lord and the Member for Oxford University is sufficient between the people, and the consequence of a great European war, we might actually get a situation worse than that, we might actually get this country in the course of such a war under a panic agreeing to give up or surrender one of our big responsible Colonies, to another Power. The House of Lords does not come in there. You have never asked in the whole course of these Debates that they should be brought in.

The House of Commons is all sufficient. But you want the restrictions of a Second Chamber or a Referendum, or anything in the world that can be invented, so long as it is a restriction, and so long as it is an impediment in the way of these little purposes at home, in order that the House of Lords may operate with no real panic—because we are not going to get into a panic about Home Rule, and we are not going to get into a panic about Disestablishment—and even if a measure of Home Rule and a measure of Disestablishment were passed and they led to one-twentieth of the dolorous consequences that we hear from the other side, it would be possible to put that right. But if you make a mistake internationally you may never be able to put it right. But all those things we want the House of Lords for. We want the House of Lords or the Referendum, or some such restriction to stand between the people and the realisation of these democratic aims, and in this case for the exclusion of Disestablishment from this particular Bill. It may seem an exaggerated form, but what they say is: "Here we are. Let the Empire look after itself. Let wars come and go. Let an Executive that is all-powerful, if we are to believe the latest theories of Government in this House, enter into war or make any bargain, create a new Dominion, or break up a new Dominion. The people of Wales are never to be allowed to take action with regard to their national church, which was filched from them by a trick on the part of Henry II.—


The hon. Member is discussing the next Amendment on the Paper, and not the one before the House.


I was endeavouring to emphasise the fact that Disestablishment has been excluded this time from the Referendum, whereas it was included on the previous occasion, and I was seeking to point out that the whole object of these restrictions is that they shall be put upon objects of this character, and not upon those other matters to which I have been referring. I do not wish to enter into any discussion as to the rights or wrongs of Disestablishment. They probably will be discussed on the next Amendment. My only object in rising is to call attention to the manner in which it is proposed those restrictions shall be exercised. I do not know whether I shall receive any answer or explanation from the other side, but taking these Amendments as they stand they seem to me to bear very eloquent and significant testimony to the manner in which hon. Members opposite are hoping to use the House of Lords over the people of this country on matters which are not of such importance as International questions.

10.0 P.M.


The hon. Member who has just addressed the House seems not to have observed that the Amendment of my hon. and learned Friend which is now being discussed stood on the Paper in the Committee stage in precisely the same terms as now. The Amendment is not in any way changed in consequence of the representation of any person whatever. The hon. Member (Mr. Edgar Jones) brought forward the most original argument against this proposal we have yet heard. He says the whole object is to interpose between the people and what they want some obstacle. What is the obstacle It is that we wish to ask the people whether they really want a thing or not? I understand perfectly the point of view of the hon. Member. He says: "I represent the people; I know what the people mean, and it is raising an obstacle to ask them whether I am or am not representing them." That is not the way to look at the matter. The way to find out what the people want is to ask them, and I challenge the right of the hon. Member and those who sit on the same side with him to say that they finally and authoritatively represent the people so as to bar any recourse to the people themselves. This Debate has produced one extremely interesting speech— that of the on Member for Stoke-upon-Trent (Mr. John Ward). He referred in terms of very great sympathy to the Referendum, but he was discussing a Referendum of a different nature from that which forms the subject of the Amendment now before the House. He was discussing the question whether the electors of this country should have what is known in countries where the Referendum prevails as the "initiative" where the right prevails that legislation should be transferred from the Legislature to the people, and where the people have the right directly of requiring that the said measure should be passed into law. He said that if the proposal were made in that form he would have a great deal of sympathy with it, and he specified various objects of a more or less revolutionary character which he said would certainly be carried by such a form of Referendum. I do not pro-pose to enter into those vast questions. The proposal before the House is of a much simpler character. What the Bill of the Government aims at is to give the House of Commons the right of saying finally whether a measure shall or shall not become law, and the right to pass it over the heads of the Second Chamber without any appeal to the country. All that this Amendment proposes is that before that extreme step is taken the people of the country may be asked on certain matters of vital constitutional importance to say whether the House of Commons on those matters really represents them or does not. I must say that I think that the importance of this Amendment deserves something more by way of reply from the Treasury Bench than what I hope I may, without offence, be allowed to term the extremely perfunctory answer given by the Home Secretary. This Amendment is one of the most important that can be brought before the House, and I am very much mistaken if it is not regarded by the country as one of the most important points—indeed, as the most important point which has been raised by this measure. What was the argument of the Home Secretary with regard to this Amendment? It was simply this: Is it fair in the party game? Is the party which the Home Secretary represents to get as great advantages out of this Amendment as the Opposition? That is not the way to look at a matter of this kind.

The question is, are the interests of the nation adequately safeguarded? What is the use of saying, Does it give an equal chance to the Liberal party? That is not the question. It is not the opposition, it is not the Conservative party, it is not the Unionist party who propose revolutionary changes. Here we have the authors of the revolution, those who attempt to be the authors of the greatest revolution that has been known in our history, holding up their hands in holy horror at a very mild antidote to the point which they introduce into the Constitution, and objecting to this proposal—these revolutionaries themselves —as of a revolutionary nature. Why, new diseases require new remedies. This disease which this Government are trying to introduce into this country needs a remedy of some kind. The proposal which is made in the Amendment of my hon. and learned Friend is not in any sense revolutionary; but if there was the slightest tincture of revolution about it, it would not lie in the mouths of those who begin the revolution to put an end to such a proposal. This Bill proposes to leave it to the House of Commons alone to decide finally what changes shall be made in our laws. Surely we ought to have some regard to the question whether these changes are or are not vital, and affect the Constitution itself. The Prime Minister—and the Home Secretary did him the honour to quote him this evening—referred to a passage of Professor Dicey's work, in which he says that our Constitution does not recognise any law as being more constitutional than another.

It is perfectly true that under the system under which we have hitherto lived no distinction is made as regards the steps necessary to be taken in passing any measure, however vitally affecting the Constitution, and the steps necessary to be taken in passing any measure of ordinary legislation. But why was that? It was simply for this reason, that under the Constitution which we have hitherto enjoyed, in our Second Chamber we had a security that no measures of a revolutionary character should be passed until the opinion of the people affected had been taken upon them. The House of Lords has never affected to withstand the settled will of the people, and it is for that reason that the. House of Lords has so long enjoyed the confidence of the people of this country. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why are they reforming it?"] What was it that the people of this country voted for at the last General Election? Did they vote for a system under which the whole of the Constitution would be at the mercy of-the vote of one Chamber, of the House of Commons uncontrolled? They voted for nothing of the kind, they voted for some reform in the Constitution of the House of Lords, they voted for some adjustment in the relations of the two Houses with regard to legislation of an ordinary kind, but I absolutely deny that the people of this country even for one moment contemplated that the whole of their institutions were to be put absolutely at the mercy of the vote of one Chamber. That issue was never submitted to them, and it would be a most extraordinary thing, now that you are destroying the safeguards which the existence of the Second Chamber provided, with its power of seeing that the will of the people was clearly ascertained, if the people of this country were to acquiesce in this House being made the sole arbiter of its destinies. There are certain matters too vital to be decided in a hurry. There is not a company or corporation in this country that has not securities with regard to the changing of its constitution greater than it has got with regard to regulations of an ordinary kind, and what holds good of corporations and companies holds good of countries.

Look at the world, and civilised countries throughout the world, at our great Dominions, and you will not find a single country, with one or two insignificant exceptions, where the Constitution can be altered by the vote of a Single Chamber. What the Government are now claiming by this repudiation of all distinction between constitutional legislation and ordinary legislation is that the people of the country at the last Election gave them a mandate to put all their institutions absolutely at the disposal of the House of Commons. I utterly deny it. No such issue was ever submitted to them, and it is for purpose of imposing the necessary check with regard to matters of vital importance that my hon. and learned Friend has proposed this Amendment. Some most extraordinary statements were put forward by the Home Secretary as to the difficulty of deciding what matters would fall within the definition contained in the Amendment. He said that it would be absolutely necessary to invoke the assistance of a court of law, and that that was no; to be considered for one moment. I say would not be in the slightest degree necessary to invoke the assistance of any court of law. I agree with the objections which have been felt, and which the Home Secretary implied he felt, against throwing such duties upon the Speaker of this House. There could be no possible objection to entrusting to a Joint Committee of the two Houses to decide whether certain measures fell within the classes enumerated in this Amendment. There are several Amendments on the Paper proposing how such Committees should be constituted. They are not identical in terms, but there would be no difficulty whatever in constituting a Committee from lire two Houses, with the Speaker presiding, to decide what matters fell within the terms of this Amendment. After all, no question could be simpler.

The questions that would arise under this Amendment which the Home Secretary professed to be abstruse beyond conception, are simplicity itself as compared with some of the matters the Home Secretary or the Government propose to refer to the unaided arbitrament of the Speaker. The question whether a measure affects the existence of the Crown, or proposes to set up Home Rule, or proposes to alter the provisions of this Bill, surely no question could be simpler, and in a Joint Committee of the two Houses you would have machinery provided amply sufficient for deciding all such questions. A most extraordinary objection was raised to the machinery which this Amendment suggests for ascertaining whether such measures are really wanted by the Prime Minister in his speech at Manchester on Saturday. He said, "Look at Australia, look at the awful case of Australia. Here you have got a representative assembly and a Ministry which enjoys the confidence of that assembly, and when the question was referred to the people of the country whether they want the measure which that Ministry had introduced, behold the people of the country say they do not want it." Some people would say that that showed that the system of representative government was not always infallible. I admit the merits of representative government in finding a solution for difficulties that otherwise might. have been insoluble, but it is perfectly preposterous for anyone to make a fetish of representative government. The Prime Minister actually draws the inference that because the people of Australia said they did not want what those who had been chosen as their representatives wanted that the people of Australia I voice ought to be disregarded. Surely the proper inference is that the system of representative government with all its merits does not always work out the right result. Was there ever any proposition put forward more extraordinary than that the people of Australia have gone grievously wrong in expressing an opinion different from that of their representatives? It really comes to this, that the representatives in those matters do not represent them. Who are to govern? The question was put all over the country, are the Peers to govern, or the House of Commons? Is it the people's Chamber or the House of Peers. It is neither the one nor the other; it is the people that are to govern. Both these Chambers exist for the purpose of securing that no measure is carried into law of a vitally constitutional nature unless it represents the settled will of the people of this country.

The argument of the Prime Minister at Manchester on this matter reminded me of what Lord Macaulay says as to some of the Whigs in the old days who supported some of the most arbitrary measures. They maintained all the time that the sole source of power was the people, and that the people's will ought to prevail in all things; but they added the mental qualification that it was the will of the people as expressed in the House of Commons of the day. In that way they reconciled to their own minds the most advanced doctrines as to the sovereignty of the people with the most arbitrary practices imaginable. The Prime Minister says, "Oh, we represent the people by virtue of the sacred principle of representative govern- ment, and the people are not to be listened to if they contradict their own representatives."

Let me glance in the most general terms at one or two of the subjects comprised in the Amendment, partly for the purpose of showing the extreme simplicity of the questions that will arise as to the scope of the Amendment, but mainly for the purpose of showing how absolutely necessary it is that the people should be consulted on these matters. The first relates to measures affecting the existence of the Crown or the Protestant Succession thereto. A measure directly affecting the existence of the Crown may not be in view in the immediate future, but we know that there is in this House an active party who think that the Crown ought to cease to exist. [Several HON. MEMBERS: "Name."] The value of the institution cannot be exaggerated. It is not merely that the Crown is dear to the people of this country. The Crown is simply invaluable as a link of Empire. The feeling of attachment to the Crown in the Colonies is strong and ardent, but the Colonies would feel no sentiment of loyalty whatever towards the House of Commons installed as the supreme arbiter of the destinies of this country. We want the Crown, and we must have it as the head of the Empire. I do not believe that the people realise that the effect of this measure would be to put at the uncontrolled disposal of the House of Commons the question whether the Crown should any longer exist. Then take the second head—the question of Home Rule. It is many years since Lord Rosebery said that Home Rule for Ireland could never be granted until the predominant partner was converted. The hon. Member for Waterford said that the obstacle to the granting of Home Rule was the existence of the House of Lords.


The veto of the House of Lords.


What does that mean? The House of Lords has not the power and has not the will to resist any change of that kind if the predominant partner showed that it really wanted the change. All the House of Lords could do was to ensure that the predominant partner should be consulted before the change. It is precisely in order that Home Rule may be granted behind the back of the predominant partner that it is arbitrarily desired that this change should be made. The Prime Minister at Manchester cited various speeches made at the time of the General Election by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, and other prominent Members of the party, in which they called attention to the danger of Home Rule. And the right hon. Gentleman said: "Who can say after that that the question was not before the country?" But the Prime Minister forgot to add that the first object of the majority of the candidates on his side was to divert attention from Home Rule. In Scotland I heard a Radical elector say, when the subject was mentioned, "Oh, that is a side issue." [An HON. MEMBER: "It was not."] The whole object of the majority of candidates on the opposite side was to nullify the attempts that were made by Members of the Opposition to open the eyes of the country to what the danger really was.

Why was it that the subject was omitted from the election addresses of the Members of the Government Front Bench? Was it by accident? Does the Prime Minister wish us to believe that? A matter of that importance is one that according to all our traditions should have found a prominent place in the election addresses of the Prime Minister and his colleagues. It was not mentioned. Why? They abstained from mentioning it because they were afraid if they did they would lose votes in England and Scotland. No other reason can be suggested. The Prime Minister the other day in the House said that he had a very easy task to show that he had put this matter before the electors, and he cited with great complacency a certain number of speeches in which he had referred to the question of Home Rule. The Irish vote was all-important to the Prime Minister. There are a number of constituencies in England and Scotland in which the election turns upon the Irish voters, whether they vote or abstain. The vote in this House of the Irish party was of first-class importance to the Prime Minister. Of course the Prime Minister referred to the subject sufficiently to secure the Irish vote. He could not have secured it without speaking as he did. He said no more than was necessary for that purpose, and the whole scheme is that Home Rule is to be passed in this Parliament without the people of this country having had their attention fairly called to it. The Prime Minister is very angry if anyone suggests or implies that he did not openly advocate Home Rule. As to the depth of his belief in Home Rule, he himself is the best judge, and we accept what he says. Possibly he has faith in Home Rule, as he told us he has, but I tell him that his faith in Home Rule never begins operatively to work until he is dependent upon Home Rule. Until then it is what he himself called it in putting off an inconvenient questioner, a mere academic question. Under other circumstances it becomes a question of the hour, and a highly practical question. In these circumstances is it unreasonable that my hon. and learned Friend should ask that before Home Rule is passed the people of this country should have an opportunity of saying whether they really ant it or not.

The third question dealt with in the Amendment is the subject of the franchise. Of course, I am not going to discuss that question in detail. I believe there are two sides to the question of one man one vote, and where a man has an interest—I am not speaking of faggot votes; these can be dealt with—in different parts of the country it is perfectly right he should have votes. However that may be, what can be said of a proposal to jerrymander the constituencies by setting out one man one vote while you take not a single step towards redressing the enormous inequality that now prevails in the value of each vote. The fourth head is this. Measures dealing with the powers of this House as against the House of Lords with regard to legislation. Is it tolerable that it should be within the power of this House, uncontrolled, to pass over the heads of the House of Lords any measure, however profoundly it may modify this measure in laying down the constitutional law which is in future to prevail? Is it tolerable that it should rest with one party to the bargain to modify that bargain as it pleases and in its own interests I One cannot help being somewhat surprised at the levity with which the Government have approached this question. Parliament in this country has been omnipotent because we had under our Constitution security that nothing should be passed that the people of the country did not want. That security you are now destroying, and this Amendment merely makes the very modest and very reasonable proposal for the purpose of saying that in any measure which the House of Commons propose to pass over the heads of the House of Lords it must have the electors of the country at its back. I hope that the division will show what the feeling of the House is upon this subject, and whatever the votes in the Lobby may be, I trust that the country will snake up its mind as to the tactics of the Government in this matter.

The CHANCELLOR of the DUCHY of LANCASTER (Mr. Joseph Pease)

The Leader of the Opposition and the right hon. and learned Gentleman who has just sat down both attacked the Home Secretary for having made allusion to the Debate which took place upon the Committee stage and I think the House itself is under the impression that the hon. and learned Member for Kingston (Mr. Cave) had actually, on the Committee stage, moved the same Amendment which he moved this afternoon. No doubt the right hon. and learned Member said the Amendment was on the Paper, but he did not go on to say that another Amendment was moved in its place, and he left the impression upon the House that that Amendment had not only been placed upon the Paper, but was the same as that moved to-day—


The right hon. Gentleman will forgive me. He must know this Amendment stood upon the Paper in precisely the same terms in which it now stands; but it was passed over under the form of closure, which the Government adopted on the ground that the subject of the Referendum had been discussed. The right hon. Gentleman must know that perfectly well, and I submit he is hardly justified in putting the colour which he has put upon what I said.


Of course right hon. Gentlemen opposite are perfectly entitled to their own opinion, but my impression was that of the various Amendments which raised the question of the Referendum this one was selected by the right hon. Gentleman and his Friends, and was therefore selected by the Chair in order that the subject might be discussed.


That was before the kangaroo closure.


The Amendment was moved by the hon. Member for Hammersmith.


Yes, it was taken before the kangaroo closure.


I was under the impression that it had been selected and discussed, but I will not pursue that point. To-night we have heard from the right hon. and learned Gentleman opposite (Sir R. Finlay) a statement that this proposal in regard to the Referendum is not in the nature of a revolution. On this point the hon. Member for Exeter (Mr. Duke) said in this Debate:— The Referendum is out of harmony with our constitutional system. It is fraught with danger and with great difficulties for the future. It is a revolutionary Proposal. I leave hon. Members opposite to determine amongst themselves whether this proposal for a Referendum is revolutionary or otherwise. Our arguments have not been met. The argument put forward by the Home Secretary in regard to this proposal being absolutely one-sided, and in the interests of one political party in the State, has not been answered. It suits the Tory party, of course, to have a Referendum upon some isolated matters connected with legislation, but the moment it is to be used by the minority, or in regard to the taxation of the people, then the Conservative party will have none of it. On the ground of expense we think the Referendum is absolutely unjustifiable. If the matters to be decided are small, and they may even be trivial in connection with some of the subjects raised in this Amendment—the people will take very little interest in them, and you will put the country to a very great expense without obtaining any satisfactory result. If, on the other hand, the matter is one of great magnitude, great expense will be incurred by candidates and by organisation, and in the ways so fully described during the discussions on the Committee stage; while we may secure a result which will absolutely necessitate another appeal to the country at a General Election in the event of a big measure being defeated by a Referendum. Take, for instance, the question of Tariff Reform.

How can a Government pledged to Tariff Reform and appealing to the country on a Referendum in regard to Tariff Reform retain the position of carrying on what they believe to be unsound finance if the people give a vote against Tariff Reform? [An HON. MEMBER: "They would not."] We have had a pledge from the hon. Member for South Antrim (Mr. Charles Craig) that he and his party are prepared to always advocate a plebiscite or Referendum on Tariff Reform and other subjects in this Amendment. If ever the hon. Member and his Friends come into power we shall see that they carry that proposal into effect. We believe that the country is best governed by representative institutions such as we have in this country. We do not believe it is necessary to depart from the well-established system of representative institutions. An hon. Member opposite (Mr. Neville) alluded to the condition of things in Queensland. That country is very different to our own, and it may suit Queensland to have a Referendum for certain purposes. There you have a country which is five times greater in area than our own, with a population of only one-eightieth the number. In one case you have a scattered community almost with one solitary interest, whilst in the other you have a thickly populated island with multifarious interests. It is questions such as Home Rule and the franchise which the Opposition propose shall be submitted to the Referendum. It is absolutely impossible, in my judgment, that any of these questions can he settled properly by means of the Referendum. These questions are always debated and thrashed out in the country before an election, and it is only when Governments have received the support of the country, and passed measures of this kind that they undertake these questions. The right hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Pease) has taunted the Prime Minister with only having bought the Irish votes when absolutely essential. At the Albert Hall meeting he expressed his opinions perfectly clearly on the question of Home Rule before the General Election, and before we knew that the parties were going to be divided as they subsequently were in January of last year. At the last General Election every one of us, not in our election addresses, but in the speeches which we delivered in our constituencies—[HON. MEMBERS: "Why not in the election addresses?"] Because in our election addresses we directed attention first of all to the question of this Parliament Bill. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I am glad that is admitted. Some hon. Members have not even admitted that. It was chiefly on the Parliament Bill—[An HON. MEMBER: "No."] There is an hon. Member who says at once we did not even put in the Parliament Bill. I claim that in our speeches we all committed ourselves to the electors with regard to Home Rule for Ireland. Not only that, but the Opposition themselves made it absolutely clear they believed that was the issue, and when the right hon. and learned Gentleman says the electors did not have this issue fairly placed before them, he is condemning his own party in their efforts, and if ever any party ever tried to secure that any particular issue was placed before the electors, I believe it was the Opposition at the last General Election.

Question put, "That the Clause be read a second time."

The House divided: Ayes, 185; Noes, 284.

Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North) Hayward, Evan Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)
Brace, William Helme, Norval Watson Pearce, William (Limehouse)
Brady, Patrick Joseph Henderson, Arthur (Durham) Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)
Brigg, Sir John Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.) Philipps, Col. Ivor (Southampton)
Brocklehurst, William B. Henry, Sir Charles S. Phillips, John (Longford, S.)
Brunner, John F. L. Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor Pickersgill, Edward Hare
Bryce, J. Annan Higham, John Sharp Pointer, Joseph
Burke, E. Haviland- Hinds, John Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.
Burns, Rt. Hon. John Hodge, John Power, Patrick Joseph
Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas Howard, Hon. Geoffrey Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)
Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, N) Hughes, Spencer Leigh Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford. E.)
Buxton, Rt. Hon. S. C. (Poplar) Hunter, W. (Govan) Pringle, William M. R.
Byles, William Pollard Isaacs, Sir Rufus Daniel Radford, George Heynes
Carr-Gomm, H. W. Johnson, William Raffan, Peter Wilson
Chancellor, Henry George Jones, Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil) Rainy, Adam Rolland
Chapple, Dr. William Allen Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S. Jones, Leif Stratton (Notts, Rushcliffe) Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)
Clancy, John Joseph Jones, William (Carnarvonshire) Redmond, John E. (Waterford)
Clough, William Jones, W. S. Glyn- (T. H'mts, Stepney) Redmond, William (Clare, E.)
Collins, Stephen (Lambeth) Jowett, Frederick William Richards, Thomas
Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J. Joyce, Michael Richardson, Albion (Peckham)
Condon, Thomas Joseph Keating, Matthew Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)
Corbett, A. Cameron Kellaway, Frederick George Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)
Cornwall, Sir Edwin A. Kelly, Edward Roberts, George H. (Norwich)
Cotton, William Francis Kennedy, Vincent Paul Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)
Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth) Kilbride, Denis Robinson, Sydney
Crawshay-Williams, Eliot King, J. (Somerset, N.) Roche, Augustine (Louth)
Crumley, Patrick Lambert, George (Devon, S. Molton) Roche, John (Galway, E.)
Cullinan, John Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade) Rose, Sir Charles Day
Dalziel, Sir James H. (Kirkcaldy) Lansbury, George Rowlands, James
Davies, David (Montgomery Co.) Lardner, James Carrige Rushe Rowntree, Arnold
Davies, Ellis William (Eifion) Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West) Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter
Davies Timothy (Lincs., Louth) Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rld.,Cockerm'th) Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)
Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.) Levy, Sir Maurice Samuel. S. M. (Whitechapel)
Dawes, James Arthur Lewis, John Herbert Scanlan, Thomas
Delaney, William Logan, John William Scott,A. MacCallum (Glasgow,Bridgetan)
Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas Low, Sir Frederick (Norwich) Sheehy, David
Devlin, Joseph Lundon, Thomas Shortt, Edward
Dewar, Sir J. A. Lyell, Charles Henry Simon, Sir John Allsebrook
Dickinson, W. H. (St. Pancras, N.) Lynch, Arthur Alfred Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)
Dillon, John Macdonald, J. Ramsay (Leicester) Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, N.)
Donelan, Captain A. J. C. Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs) Spicer, Sir Albert
Doris, W. McGhee, Richard Stanley, Albert (Staffs., N.W.)
Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness) Maclean, Donald Strachey, Sir Edward
Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley) Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J. Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)
Edwards, Allen C. (Glamorgan, E.) MacNeill, John Gordon Swift Summers, James Woolley
Edwards, Enoch (Hanley) MacVeagh, Jeremiah Sutton, John E.
Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid) M'Callum, John M. Taylor, John W. (Durham)
Elibank, Rt. Hon. Master of M'Curdy, C. A. Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)
Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.) McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald Tennant, Harold John
Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.) M'Laren, F. W. S. (Lincs., Spalding) Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.,
Essex, Richard Walter M'Laren, Walter S. B. (Ches., Crewe) Thomas, James Henry (Derby)
Falconer, James M'Micking, Major Gilbert Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)
Farrell, James Patrick Manfield, Harry Toulmin, George
Fenwick, Charles Marks, George Croydon Trevelyan, Charles Philips
Farms, T. R. Marshall, Arthur Harold Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander
French, Peter Martin, Joseph Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)
Field, William Masterman, C. F. G. Walters, John Tudor
Fiennes, Hon. Eustace Edward Meagher, Michael Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)
Flavin, Michael Joseph Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.) Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)
Furness. Stephen W. Meehan, Patrick A. (Queen's Co.) Wardle, George J.
Gelder, Sir William Alfred Millar, James Duncan Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay
George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd Molloy, Michael Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)
Gill, Alfred Henry Molteno, Percy Alport Watt, Henry A.
Glanville, H. J. Montagu, Hon. E. S. Webb, H.
Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford Mooney, John J. White, Sir George (Norfolk)
Goldstone, Frank Morrell, Philip White, Patrick (Meath, North)
Greenwood, Granville G. (Peterborough) Munro, Robert Whitehouse, John Howard
Greig, Colonel J. W. Murray, Capt. Hon. Arthur C. Whyte, A. F. (Perth)
Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward Nannetti, Joseph P. Wiles, Thomas
Griffith, Ellis Jones Neilson, Francis Wilkie, Alexander
Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.) Nolan, Joseph Williams, John (Glamorgan)
Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway) Norman, Sir Henry Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthen)
Hackett, J. Norton, Capt. Cecil William Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)
Hall, Frederick (Normanton) O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny) Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)
Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale) O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.) Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)
Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose) O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool) Wilson, J. W. (Worcestershire, N.)
Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil) O'Donnell, Thomas Wilson, W. T. (West Houghton)
Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West) O'Dowd, John Winfrey, Richard
Harvey, W. F. (Derbyshire, N.E.) Ogden, Fred Wood, T. McKinnon (Glasgow)
Harwood, George O'Kelly, Jamea (Roscommon, N.) Young, Samuel (Cavan, East)
Haslam, James (Derbyshire) O'Malley, William Young, William (Perth, East)
Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth) O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)
Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry O'Shaughnessy, P. J. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Mr.
Haworth, Arthur A. O'Sulivan, Timothy Illingworth and Mr. Guiland.
Hayden, John Patrick Parker, James (Halifax)

I beg to move, that the following Clause be read a Second time:—

Joint Sittings.

"If any Bill, having been passed by the House of Commons in three successive Sessions, is sent up to the House of Lords at least one month before the end of each of those Sessions, is rejected by the House of Lords, it shall be lawful for His Majesty, upon an Address being presented to him in that behalf by either House of Parliament during the third of the Sessions, by Order in Council to direct that each of the two Houses of Parliament shall nominate one hundred Members in numbers proportionate in each House to the political parties represented in that House.

"Members of both Houses present at any such Joint Sitting may deliberate and shall vote together upon the Bill as last proposed by the House. of Commons, and upon Amendments (if any) which have been made therein by one House of Parliament and not agreed to by the other; and any such Amendments as are affirmed by a majority of a total number of Members of the House of Lords and of the House of Commons present at such Joint Sitting shall he taken to have been carried, and if the Bill with the Amendments (if any) is affirmed by a majority of the Members present at such sitting, the Bill shall be taken to have been duly passed by both Houses of Parliament, and shall be presented to His Majesty, and shall become an Act of Parliament on the Royal Assent being signified thereto."

I think the House should note that the Clause will only come into operation when all ordinary means of resolving a deadlock have fallen through, and the Sovereign is placed in the position of having a Bill sent to him upon which the two Houses are fundamentally disagreed. The method of escape that the Clause suggests is that whichever House objects to the measures being passed may move an address to His Majesty, to call for a Joint Session, and therefore the responsibility is placed on the Crown to call for that Session, but of course this is far less responsibility than would be placed upon the Crown if the Sovereign were called upon to give or refuse his Assent absolutely to a measure. If the Crown resolves that it is a case the importance of which calls for this special procedure, an Order in Council will be issued directing that the Joint Session should take place. But the Joint Session is not to be a Session of both Houses together, but of 100 Members nominated by each. Of course, on the face of it, the proposal for a Joint Session of both Houses is an attractive one, but it is obvious, I think, that it would be impossible under present conditions, if only from the mere physical matter of the numbers involved. Neither of the two Chambers could possibly suffice, and it would be necessary to find a chamber capable of holding some twelve hundred Members, which, of course, would reduce the proposal to an absurdity. Therefore, I do not think I need argue as to a Joint Session of the full number of both Houses. It must be a proportion of each House. This Clause proposes 100 Members of each House. There is a certain difficulty in making the proposal in view of the declared object of the Preamble, and the intention to postpone the realisation of that Preamble until after the rest of the Bill has been passed, because it is plain that the relations between the two Houses when brought together in such a manner as is suggested by the Clause must be regulated by the composition of the two Houses. A hundred Members of the present House of Lords might be very different in composition from a hundred Members of a reformed Chamber, and as the policy of hon. Members on the other side of the House is that there shall be a reformed Chamber it is obvious that this proposal would work very differently with the present House of Lords and a reformed House of Lords. But even as regards the present House of Lords I submit it would be a very great improvement on the Bill. You would really bring the two Houses face to face by representatives of each, and that of itself would be a very great gain. There is no doubt that the feeling of hostility between the two Chambers is largely clue to their not being brought face to face to argue matters out together. Whatever the theoretical view of Members may, be, when it comes to meeting those with whom they theoretically disagree, and talk over matters from a business point of view, it is found that this theoretical view counts for little when business is to be threshed out and accommodation is necessary. What is true of a Joint Committee of both Houses would, I believe, be true of a Joint Session of both Houses on a larger scale. That, I think, the experience of the past demonstrates, but, of course, it is a matter of great inconvenience that, to use an ordinary expression, the cart has been put before the horse, and that the question of how the two Chambers are to work together is to be considered before we know what the exact composition of the other Chamber will be. I believe it will not be in order to refer to what took place elsewhere this afternoon, but hon. Members will recognise that the scheme which has been foreshadowed points to a Second Chamber very different from that which has received so much denunciation from hon. Members opposite. If you can accept the premise we lay down that it is part of our policy to divorce it from party considerations, it is quite obvious that a Joint Sitting of one hundred Members of this House and one hundred Members of that House will afford a body as near impartial as can be expected from any device. But in the meantime, assuming this Bill to pass, and assuming the House of Lords has not been reformed, still I hold that the plan here indicated can be adjusted to the temporary needs of the situation, because, for example, the hundred Members to be selected by this House—

And it being eleven of the clock, the Debate stood adjourned.

Bill, as amended, to be further considered to-morrow.