§ Order for Third Reading read.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."
§ Mr. F. E. SMITH
I beg to move as an Amendment to leave out the word "now," and at the end of the Question to add the words, "upon this day six months."
I am not sanguine enough to think that I shall be able to contribute any novel argument to a subject which has engaged so much Parliamentary attention as the Veto Bill has in the last few weeks. I cannot hope to attempt to do more than to summarise, with the greater latitude which a Third Reading Debate allows, the various arguments which have been collected, with so much ability and industry, by my hon. Friends who have taken part in the Debates on the Committee and Report stages of the Bill. The general objection to the Bill, which has been stated more than once at all its stages by one or other of my hon. or right hon. Friends, can be put in a sentence. It is that the House of Commons, under its provisions may, if its lifetime is normal, exercise unicameral powers during the first two years of its existence. In other words, that any scheme which has been mentioned, however generally during an election by a Minister, may become law in all it s undisclosed details without any possibility if reference to the constituencies. That may be right or it may be wrong, but I suppose no one will quarrel with the position, that whether it is right or whether it is wrong it is only defensible in relation to, and it must be defended on, some clear principle. I have attempted to gather what the principle is on which Ministers base this claim, and I do not think I do an injustice to their view when I say that they put it forward that there is an irresistible inference 1659 that the House of Commons, fresh from the contact with the constituencies is, at least, for the first two years of its lifetime, so closely correspondent with those constituencies that it is safe to assume that no legislative proposal made in such a House of Commons during that period would be out of harmony with the desires of the constituencies. At any rate I have failed to detect any other principle on which this proposal could be taken.
I would ask the Prime Minister this question, I do not pretend that the question is an original one, though I think it is one that has not been answered. I would ask the Government whether they are prepared to accept this new statutory constitutional doctrine as applicable to both parties, whether in other words they concede this claim as unreservedly to a Conservative House of Commons as they claim it for a Liberal House of Commons? I would point out that that is a wholly different question from the question whether in fact a Conservative House of Commons enjoys these powers to-day. The question I am proposing to the Government is, whether in their new view of the constitutional position of the two parties in regard to the Second Chamber, this is to be the last word of statutory provision, that the Conservative House of Commons and the Liberal House of Commons alike during the first two years of their existence must be irresistably presumed to represent on all questions, and by a majority, however attenuated, the considered wishes of the nation. It is plain that the Government must see that every House of Commons, whether its complexion be Liberal or Conservative, is entitled to put forward this claim in future. I would ask, in order to test that, two familiar questions to which, as far as I know, no answer has yet been given, and those questions are these: ought our Education Act and ought our Licensing Act to have become law, or ought they not to have become law? I would beg the Prime Minister to observe, and he has dealt with this question not with his usual logical precision, what is the question to which I venture to direct his attention.
If Clause 2 is right, and if the principle upon which, and upon which alone, Clause 2 can be defended, is well founded, those Acts represented the will of the people. If they did represent the will of the people, why was the Chancellor of the Exchequer 1660 amongst others so anti-democratic as not merely to resist them on the floor of this House, but actually to inaugurate an illegal campaign in Wales in order to resist and defeat measures which, if Clause 2 of the Parliament Bill is well founded, represented the considered and complete will of the people. If on the other hand those Bills did not represent the considered will of the people, what becomes of the whole principle upon which Clause 2 of the Bill depends? Sir, it becomes as dead as the Preamble. It is torpedoed by the admission that is made that when those Bills were proposed, and though by common consent it will be admitted, they would have been carried through in the first two years of that House of Commons if they had been introduced, yet hon. Gentlemen opposite did not scruple to argue with great ability, and many of them, certainly in some parts of the country, with great persuasiveness, that those measures did not represent the wishes or the settled views of the constituencies. [An HON. MEMBER: "Hear hear."] Some one still agrees with that view. I suggest that that cannot be disputed, and if it is true the only logical complete justification of Clause 2 disappears at once. Let me take another illustration, which I hope may make some appeal to the mind of the Prime Minister. I take the case of the question of female suffrage. On that point I, like the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for the Colonies, am an opponent of female suffrage. Upon that point I have always been proud to consider that the Prime Minister was my leader, and not my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition. I heard the Prime Minister, and I cheered him, developing cogent arguments to show that neither the electorate of this country nor indeed I have heard him say the women of this country desired female suffrage. I agree with that view, and he certainly convinced me and many others by his argument that that is true. Yet a moment's reflection and a moment's consideration of recent Divisions in this House show that there is evidently a majority in the House of Commons as constituted to-day in favour of female suffrage, and there was a majority in the last House of Commons in favour of female suffrage.
No one, I imagine, will dispute that if the Prime Minister were to give those facilities, which I apprehend he is not 1661 likely to give, for full Parliamentary discussion that female suffrage in this Parliament would be carried into law in those two years, and it entirely depends on whether the Prime Minister will give facilities whether or not female suffrage becomes law. I would ask the Prime Minister this question: How does he reconcile that circumstance with the claim, which he has made more than once, and a claim from which, so far as I know, he has never receded, that the constituencies of this country do not desire female suffrage, and do not wish to see it carried into law? The only possible reply on the part of the Prime Minister is that this question was not a principal issue before the country at the last election in the sense in which the Veto Bill was, or in the sense in which the Prime Minister, at any rate, is accustomed to claim that Home Rule was a principal issue. That, however, is only escaping from the horn of the ladies in. order to fall on to the horn of the Veto; because, if it be true that female suffrage was not a principal subject of discussion at the last General Election, it is necessary to observe that the Veto Bill acknowledges no test of the mandate of the people, except the willingness of the House of Commons to pass a measure three times.
On that point the attitude of the Home Secretary is not uninstructive. I observe in a leaflet recently issued by the Society for the Promotion of Female Suffrage that, while they describe the hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr. Snowden) as "the lion" of the movement, they described the Home Secretary as "the snake in the grass" of the movement. He supplied us with very useful material for testing the Veto Bill in the light of the female suffrage proposals, because he stated that the proposal of the Referendum would, in his judgment, be an admirable method of ascertaining the views of the nation from the point of view of female suffrage. The proposal to have a Referendum in order to deal with female suffrage is not only an exposure of the insincerity of the opposition to the Referendum as a whole, but an entirely destructive criticism of Clause 2 of the Veto Bill. Clause 2 is either adequate or inadequate as a criterion or method of ascertaining the wishes of the democracy. If it is adequate, a Referendum on female suffrage is an insulting sex exception to a beneficent measure. If it is inadequate, the 1662 futility of the Bill is certificated by the proposal of the Home Secretary. Take a third case. Hon. Gentlemen opposite are accustomed to deride the probability of my hon. Friends and myself returning to office within any short period of time. That probability is accounted by them extremely remote, though it hardly lies in the mouth of any of the smaller sections of the House to exclude the hypothesis that the largest section may some day or other return to power. Supposing we return to office—if you please, with a small majority—would national service, a protective system, or an extreme aliens exclusion Bill, carried, for the sake of illustration, by majorities of ten in the first two years of a Conservative House of Commons, represent the will of the people or not? You either put forward Clause 2 as an exhaustive criterion for ascertaining the views of the democracy, or you do not. If you do not, your Bill depends on no logical basis at all. If you do, it is necessary for you to admit that if, in the first two years of a Parliament, a Conservative House of Commons carried those proposals on the hypothesis I am taking, by a majority of ten, every one of those measures would represent the will of the people. Does anyone present doubt what hon. Gentlemen opposite would say if we introduced those proposals? We can almost hear the speeches that would be delivered in opposition to them.
I take a further test. Analysing and examining Clause 2, from their point of view and not from ours, was Chinese labour the will of the people? It is no answer to say that Chinese labour aid not require the concurrence of the House of Lords. I am attempting a small investigation in democratic psychology. From the point of view from which I am arguing you are bound to say that the Conservative House of Commons which introduced Chinese labour in the first two years of its existence was introducing Chinese labour in correspondence with the wishes of the people. If that is denied, it would, of course, follow I hat only a Liberal House of Commons represents, or can represent, the will of the people. I will take one other illustration. It is one which my hon. Friends have put forward to which Ministers have repeatedly been challenged to give an answer, but which has never been answered in the whole course of the Debates. It is a plain and simple question. Did or did not the constituencies of this country want the last Home Rule Bill 1663 at the time that Bill passed through the House of Commons? The simplicity of that question can hardly be exaggerated. I forget the precise number of months that Bill took, but I think it passed the House of Commons during the first two years of that Parliament. Therefore, by your test that Home Rule Bill as it left the House of Commons represented the settled and final conclusion of the constituencies on that subject. But what happened? Nobody here is unaware that the moment the issue was presented to the constituencies they rejected the Bill, which, if your Clause 2 is well founded, they ought to have accepted and approved. I am willing to leave it to the judgment of any Member of the House of Commons who went through that election whether, while it is possible that there were other subjects upon which the country may have voted, the principal subject of discussion at that, election was not the action which the House of Lords had taken in relation to the Home Rule Bill.
No one recognised this circumstance more eloquently than the Government. It was because they realised the decisiveness and clearness of the condemnation which the constituencies had given to Home Rule that the Prime Minister used all his influence to induce Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman to run away from Home Rule in the election of 1906. No one will suggest that the Liberal party in 1906 excluded Home Rule from the possible subjects of legislation because they thought that Home Rule was likely to increase their popularity in the country. They excluded it because they believed that the reasons which had led the constituencies to reject Home Rule after it had been carried through this House were still alive and effective in the country. If Clause 2 of this Bill were examined and criticised in relation to no other circumstance than the history of the last Home Rule Bill, one would have a decisive reason for rejecting the claim on winch it is founded, namely, that it constitutes an accurate touchstone of the deliberate wishes of the constituencies. We have proposed two alternative methods for mitigating the operation of Clause 2. The first of those methods is concerned with the Referendum, the other with Joint Sessions. I have listened with the care which his considered utterances always demand to the Prime Minister's observations upon the Referendum; but I confess that I am in some doubt even now as to what his real view is. During the 1664 Committee stage he used very remarkable and not discouraging language in relation to an Amendment proposed by my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Kingston (Mr. Cave). This is what he said:—I should certainly not exclude the possibility of the application of something in the nature of the Referendum to special, rare, exceptional, but conceivable cases of constitutional difficulty.I understand that the view of the Prime. Minister is that where you have a rare and exceptional case of constitutional difficulty the Referendum is not to be excluded from view. I should have thought that nothing more exceptional, nothing more rare, could be conceived than the passage into law of important legislation in the interval between the abolition of one effective Second Chamber and the constitution of another. But the Prime Minister took an objection, which it must be admitted was not unreasonable, to the particular proposal of my hon. and learned Friend. He said:—This amendment does not confine us to the use of the Referendum for constitutional or organic changes. It applies to any case of difference of opinion.In order to meet the view of the Prime Minister my hon. Friend so altered the Amendment from the Report stage that it dealt precisely with those rare constitutional and organic changes for the treatment. of which the right hon. Gentleman did not exclude the Referendum. That particular Amendment was dealt with by the Home Secretary—a method more than once adopted by the Government. When one Minister has somewhat committed himself on one point and it arises again, another Minister, whose record on that particular question is more or less virginal, is put up to deal with the matter. The Home Secretary therefore dealt with the question on the Report stage, and, completely surrendering the suggestion which had been made by the Prime Minister, said:—The machinery of the Veto Bill is adequate in itself, by its checks and safeguards, for the settlement even of the gravest questions with which the politics of this country can be concerned.No doubt that is the view of the Home Secretary. But how is that to be reconciled with the view of the Prime Minister that the Referendum is a useful instrument for dealing with exceptional but rare cases of constitutional difficulty? Can the Prime Minister suggest to us what kind of case he had in mind? What was the general nature of the constitutional difficulties for treating which he would not exclude the Referendum? I should have thought that if there was one kind of 1665 measure which should have been excluded from the operation of Clause 2 of this Bill it was some measure for protecting at least the very instrument of Government which is the sole guarantee left to us of the pitiable remnant of Parliamentary liberties reserved to a Second Chamber. What is the position? Is the proposal that the Veto Bill itself should be still further altered, the period of delay curtailed, the duration of Parliament possibly extended—is the proposal that matters of that kind should be submitted to the electorate for decision before they are carried through by the House of Commons, and the House of Commons alone, one of those questions which the Prime Minister is prepared not to exclude from the operation of the Referendum?
I was wholly unable to understand the argument which the Prime Minister addressed to an audience at Manchester with reference to recent Australian experience in the matter of the Referendum. What happened in Australia? The Government of the day introduced certain proposals. Had those proposals been introduced in the House of Commons and carried through in the first Session of Parliament, I suppose the Government would have said that they necessarily represented the considered judgment of the people. The same claim was advanced in Australia. What happened when the Referendum was called for? An appeal to the people took place, with the result that it was proved that the Australian House of Commons was wrong in their view, and that the people were right. At the same time none of those melancholy results which have been anticipated by the Government have taken place. There has been no resignation by the Government, the vote has not been treated as a want of confidence, and at the same time it has been made impossible for the Government to usurp in one single Chamber all the powers of the State, and to impose upon the constituencies in Australia measures which the constituencies did not desire. I will take another case, that of the Joint Session. There, again, I understood that the Prime Minister said that he is not on principle opposed to Joint Sessions between the House of Lords and the House of Commons, but that, in his judgment, the House of Lords is too large a body for Joint Sessions usefully to take place under existing circumstances. Well, we have offered to reduce the numbers of the House of Lords. The only objection which has been stated to Joint Sessions is that the House of Lords 1666 is too numerous. We offered to reduce the numbers. The Prime Minister replies: "It is a premature proposal." No other suggestion is made for dealing with it.
As in the course of the Second Reading Debate more than one Minister was pleased to make some reference to a letter I wrote to "The Times," perhaps the House will be indulgent to me if I make one or two very brief observations upon the subject of it. The letter has been described as "famous" and "statesman-like." These are epithets which I am certainly little accustomed to receive from hon. Gentlemen opposite, or from anybody else. Therefore it must not be taken that I am quarrelling with them generally. The criticism which was advanced by one Minister after another, by the Postmaster-General, who was good enough to quote that letter on the Second Reading, and by the Under-Secretary for the Colonies, the criticism, as far as I can gather, is that I have receded from the position which I took up in the letter. T will not trouble the House with long extracts from that. letter, but I will venture to say that. I have not receded from one single statement I made in it. Those who praised that letter and expressed approval at the time have not mitigated their proposals one hair's breadth in order to comply with the suggestion that I, on my part, ventured to make. That letter was headed "Compromise." I wrote it with a sincere desire at the time when there was a possibility of compromise to do all that lay in my power o forward that compromise. I can remind the House in a sentence almost of what I said. I asked:—What is involved in the conception of compromise? It is that the disputants would have to concede, not points which they think trivial, but points which they think important. It is evident that the Veto proposals of the Government must undergo profound modification before agreement is possible. Is it less obvious that the Unionist party ought to be prepared, if fairly and generously met, for changes; which have hitherto not been dreamed of in their political philosophy.I pointed out that there were two things which were necessary. The first was a profound modification of the Veto policy, and the second was that the Conservative party should contemplate changes which, up to that time, they had never even thought of. I asked in a sentence in which I attempted an answer, and which has been often quoted, what is required in a Second Chamber? I attempted to answer it in this way:—What is required is such a House of Lords as will give to the Liberal party when in office as good a chance, or as had a chance. of carrying their legislation as it will give to the Conservative party when in power.1667 [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Then we are all agreed? Does anybody suggest that the Veto Bill does that? [Hon. MEMBERS "Yes," and "No."] The hon. Gentleman the Member for Stoke says "Yes."
§ Mr. F. E. SMITH
Well, I do not want to get into a controversy just now. It is quite clear, as I think I shall be able to show, that the principle which receives even now so large a measure of dissent is not in the least carried out or secured under the Veto Bill! Before I consider that, I may add two principles which I laid down, and by which I am content to stand or fall to-day. I said the two principles to be borne in mind are: that the first object of the Second Chamber is to ensure that the electorate should be consulted before great legislative changes are made effective; and the second principle is that an efficient Second Chamber will discharge its primary functions impartially whichever party be in power. Those were the principles I laid down. I stand by that letter and say that the Conservative party have undertaken changes undreamt of in my hon. Friend's political philosophy. I say that the Government have not yielded one inch since the mention of compromise.
What is the use of hon. Gentlemen continuing to praise the letter I wrote with the express object of furthering compromise, which I entitled "Compromise," which proposed and recommended great measures of change on the part of the Unionist party? What is the use of them saying, with what sincerity can they quote parts of that letter which recommended to my hon. Friends that we should make concessions and compromise whilst they refuse to abandon one iota of their position? The House and the country have not been deprived of the assistance of at least one Under-Secretary to tell us what are the real views of the Government as to the readjustment of the Second Chamber. The Under-Secretary for India (Mr. Montagu) recently made a speech in the country dealing with the reform which may usefully be considered in conjunction with the letter which carried so large a measure of assent from hon. Gentlemen opposite. The Under-Secretary said:—The only interest which the Liberal party takes in a reformed House of Lords is if we can thereby make it a more effective instrument for carrying Liberal legislation.1668 That, apparently, is the independent and impartial Second Chamber which is desired by at least some Members of the Government. This is in spite of the very explicit obligation which is undertaken in the Preamble. Here, again, the Prime Minister, with his usual lucidity and as embodying the view which he at least takes of the Preamble, says that, he regards it as "an obligation of honour." In view of this, it is a little astonishing that the Lord Advocate, speaking in the country, should have said in express terms that he sincerely hoped that the House of Commons would have nothing whatever to do with reform. I believe indeed he described it in much stronger language, which unfortunately I do not at the moment recall. But we are presented with the unusual feature of the Prime Minister who regards the redemption of the Preamble pledge as an obligation of honour, whilst one of his subordinate colleagues feels himself to be at liberty to go throughout the country advising the electorate not to have anything at all to do with what is an obligation of honour on the part of his chief! The Prime Minister has himself somewhat qualified his first utterance in a somewhat unusual manner. He has said that it is to be carried out "if time permits." It is a somewhat unusual modification.
§ Mr. F. E. SMITH
I quite agree. It is to be left as a damnosa hereditas to a Government of the future, of which, I suppose, the Lord Advocate will be chief? A further qualification has been introduced by the Home Secretary, who is very cautious in this case, and who proposes to pay this debt of honour if "it is the general desire that it shall be carried out." I do not think the right hon. Gentleman runs very great risk there—he has left it to himself to determine what is to be considered "a general desire." I dare say the interruption, of which I make no complaint, of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Stoke, in the course of this speech, will be evidence that no such desire exists. At all events, there is the possibility of what I say, for the Home Secretary has himself said that the pledge is to be redeemed if there is a general desire. I will make one observation which, I hope, will commend itself to the common sense of the House. Unless we help you you can never carry out this matter. You 1669 are not, as I have already pointed out, even the largest section in the House to-day. You could not support the risks or vicissitudes of one Parliamentary week if the Labour party voted against you on every question which arose. You could not count even upon sufficient attendance from the Irish party to make you safe during the vicissitudes of one Parliamentary week, if the Labour party withdraw their support. If the Prime Minister, who is very sanguine on this point, considers also those Members of his own party who have stated with the utmost emphasis that they take the same view, I think he will come to the conclusion that I have not stated the proposition too high.
I repeat this for the consideration of the House: Is it unfair, having regard to the difficulty and complexity of the task, and remembering the Preamble on which the Leader of the Labour party delivered so powerful a speech the other clay; is it unfair, having regard to the difficulty and complexity of the task, to say that you can never reform the House of Lords unless it is done in concert with those of us who sit on these Benches and who desire to help you? If that is so, you are rejecting the only allies who can help to carry out the obligation of honour. [Laughter.] That observation is received somewhat oddly, but I say, does anybody think that without the Conservative party and the Liberal party join, that the Government are ever likely to be in a position to give effect to the Preamble of this Bill—if they are without the support; of the Labour party, or their own followers below the Gangway who do not wish reform of the House of Lords? Everybody knows it is so, that we and we alone can even enable you to carry out this Preamble—to redeem your obligation of honour. If that he clear, it follows that the proposals which have been introduced into the House of Lords should have at least the respectful consideration of the Government and the House of Commons. I conceive I should not be in order t o comment in any way on the details of those proposals, but I say this, while it is open to hon. Members to criticise these proposals—I do not pretend that they are not abundantly open to criticism—I say no one who has ever attempted or is likely to attempt to reconstruct a Constitution like our Constitution would ever formulate a scheme which cannot be riddled with destructive criticism if approached with a desire to destroy it, and not with a desire to render it feasible and practicable. We 1670 know you can destroy Lord Lansdowne's proposals, here and in the country, if you approach the proposals, not with a desire to remedy defects and make the proposals acceptable, and the basis of an arrangement on which both sides of the House may agree, but with a desire to make them ridiculous, to show they are full of crudities and impossibilities. No one has ever doubted you can destroy them. But I will remind the House before they take that course—all sections of it—if you prejudice in advance these proposals, whether you agree or disagree, then they are an advance on everything which has yet been proposed in the whole 800 years during which the House of Lords has exercised concurrent legislative powers. I would point out that whatever is said in disparagement of Lord Lansdowne's Bill it, would have given the Government, at least in the 1906 Parliament, a clear majority, without reference to Joint Sessions, in the Second Chamber. In 1906 it would have enabled the Government to carry every one of those legislative proposals which excited so much controversy in the country without invoking the aid of a Joint Session; and, in the second place, as far as the present House of Commons is concerned, where your composite majority now rains up to 112 or 120, it would give a minority of 18, and that minority of 18 could be corrected, as Lord Lansdowne has clearly pointed out, under that system of Joint Session, for, although not part of the Bill, we have told you we adhere to that as part of the Conservative policy. I venture to urge the Government that they will do well before they say a final word upon proposals which show a large measure of sincerity and are a great advance on the part of the only party who can help them to reform the House of Lords, to pause, and to pause again before they say they will not consider these proposals.
I ask the Prime Minister to consider the case of those—and there are some who sit upon these benches, of whom I am one —Who would infinitely prefer an elective Second Chamber to the Veto Bill, and I say, speaking for myself, that while I oppose an elective Second Chamber only on the grounds stated so powerfully by the Leader of the Opposition, namely, that the co-existence of an elective Second Chamber and the House of Commons, powerful and honoured as the House of Commons is today, are impossible and could not be a permanent feature in our national life. I believe that profoundly, and that reason 1671 alone leads me to reject an elective Second Chamber. But while saying that, I desire to make it clear, speaking only for myself, that if Lord Lansdowne's Bill, or similar proposals, are finally rejected by hon. Gentlemen opposite, if the Government decline to deal with a composite House of Lords so created, then, so far as I am concerned, I shall use every influence I have among my friends in the party to meet the Veto Bill by an elective Second Chamber. I invite the Government to consider whether in an elective Second Chamber the distribution of power between the two Chambers effected by the Veto Bill is compatible with the existence of an elected Second Chamber. Does anyone suppose if you have an elective Second Chamber the last word as to the distribution of the functions between the First and Second Chamber is said by the Veto Bill. If that is so, what does it mean? It. means if an elective Second Chamber is to be ultimately adopted, that from that day forward there will be some modification of the Veto Bill as to the extent and functions and powers committed to the Second Chamber under this Veto Bill. I ask this question upon that, and no answer is given. If there is to be such a change when the Second Chamber is reformed, how can any honest man justify the carrying into law during the interval, between the passing of this Bill and reform, of Bills which will not receive the protection of the old Second Chamber, and have not gone through the reconstituted Second Chamber. I venture to suggest on all these considerations that this is the psychological moment in which the Preamble should be adopted, and I would observe that never in the history of parties has there been a happier chance of carrying out such a reform with a generous measure of harmonious co-operation than at present.
I do not dwell upon the fact that we are on the eve of the Coronation, and that we are once more welcoming the representatives of the outer Dominions into conference, but I ask the House to observe under what other and more domestic auspices these great events are occurring. I venture to say that for fifty years no more favourable opportunity has presented itself for a great constitutional settlement, nor during that period has a larger area of politics been withdrawn from the blighting influence of party faction. Let me give an illustration. Take, first of all, the great cause of peace and arbitration 1672 between the United States and England. What did we find only a few weeks ago? And it was a circumstance which made a most powerful and pregnant appeal to the consideration of every student of civilisation in the Old and in the New World. It was the presence on the same platform of the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition. That in itself was a significant circumstance. We find another. The hon. Gentleman the senior Member for Leicester (Mr. Crawshay-Williams) has rendered a great public service within the last few weeks by obtaining a number of signatures, not less than 350, drawn from all parties in the House of Commons, Liberals and Conservatives and Labour Members in connection with the promotion on non-party lines of a closer measure of union between different parts of the Empire. A memorandum of that nature, nonparty in its sources, drawn up and circulated by a Liberal Member would have been inconceivable during the bitter controversies of the 1906 Bill.
Then, going a little further, I find, only recently the hon. Member for Partick (Mr. R. Harcourt) and the hon. Member for Durham (Mr. Hills), have been urging the holding of a large non-party demonstration on the subject of destitution, at which a speech will be made by my right hon. Friend. I take one other illustration, and that is the reception given in all parts of the country to the great proposals which the Chancellor of the Exchequer has introduced into this House with the object of dealing with insurance of invalidity and unemployment. I venture to say no experienced politician is an-aware of many points upon which these proposals could be made the subject of captious and injurious criticism. But no one has attempted to deal with them in a party spirit. They have been dealt with by the party to which I belong in an altogether non-party spirit, and in a spirit showing the most sincere and genuine desire to co-operate in the wider interests of the nation with the Government of the day than my experience of reading of history can show in the last twenty or thirty years of our national life.
I deliberately say, under these circumstances, that any statesman who neglects factors making for settlement in which the cumulative weight is so prodigious is neglecting an opportunity under circumstances which history will not lightly acquit him if the battle is fought to the end. The responsibility is the responsi- 1673 bility of the Government. It is theirs and theirs alone, at this moment to indicate whether they propose or are willing to make any arrangement. This is peace. No one supposes that there are not also the possibilities of war. Suppose we are dealt with in this matter at arm's length and on a war basis, I make no observation, it would not be becoming of me to do so as to other difficulties of the general character of which hon. Members are aware that may lie in the way of making this proposal effective if they are to be carried through the House of Lords. I make the enormous assumption that you have carried this Bill into law, and I confess I am amazed that any party of hon. Gentlemen opposite should hug to themselves the delusion that if it becomes law they are passing into a legislative elysium flung open in front of them.
I take the issue of Home Rule, and Licensing, and Education, and I ask, sup-pose the House of Lords used, as they would be entitled to use, the position which you have allowed them under this Bill, which is the last word of constructive Liberal statecraft., and suppose they acted in a party spirit, and used the power which you think they would be in a position to exercise, the powers you are willing to assign to them, and said, "We propose to delay for years purely party measures until you carry out your threat of passing the Preamble," what would be your position? What would be your position if Home Rule is hung up for three Sessions or two years after the passing of the Bill. I would rein hid the Prime Minister what he himself said in 1901 upon this point. He said:—I have for some time held the opinion that the Liberal party might not to assume the duties and responsibilities of Government unless it can rely on an independent Liberal majority in the House of Commons. Such a majority may take a long time to secure, though in my judgment it is far more likely to come upon that footing than upon any other. But be the time short or long it will. I am satisfied, be found in the long run that it is the only practical alternative to a Tory majority.The Prime Minister then thought the only practical alternative to a Tory Government was an independent Liberal Government. He is asking his followers now to see the last word of constitutional wisdom in the measure which obliges a dependent Liberal Government to carry measures so vast and complex as Home Rule, Licensing, Education, and Welsh Disestablishment, and to submit them to the last test of all in the eyes of democracy, which is the test of the Government which for two years cannot carry 1674 any of its measures into law, and which has itself armed the Second Chamber with the power to destroy and delay these measures for that period. That is the statescraft, the conception of political wisdom, which incline many supporters of the Government to refuse co-operation with us in the direction of a general settlement in order that they may obtain their own party object. The choice is for them. It is not for us. I would merely venture to place on record my conviction that so long as we attacked the Veto as an abstraction I agree we failed. Admittedly we failed. I predict the result will be far different when we attack the concrete instrument which has enabled the Government to place upon the Statute Book great measures upon which the Constituencies were never consulted. We fought one election and failed, as to whether the House of Commons should be master of the people of England. I venture to say next when we fight the issue will be whether the people of England shall be master of the House of Commons.
§ Mr. JAMES HOPE
I am sure the House will sympathise with me in the difficulty in which I find myself placed in attempting to follow the eloquence of my hon. and learned Friend. Indeed, I might quite gladly, in the words of a colleague of Mr. Burke, say ditto to all he said, but as there are points in this Bill upon which as the House knows I feel strongly, I shall endeavour to put my views before the House. Never, I think, was a Bill put forward in a stranger shape than this Bill to which we are now asked to give a Third Reading. We have in the text of the Bill set forth the end desired by the Government, and the means to that end. The end is the reform of the Second Chamber, and this Bill is put forward as the means. But why this long process towards the end, when you could have the end at once. Why this process of paralysis first to be followed at some distant date by rejuvenation, when you can have all you want in the way of a reformed Second Chamber immediately and without difficulty and by consent. Or even if we suppose there is not consent, can anyone suppose that the most extreme and democratic measure for the reform of the Second Chamber would not be easier to carry into law than this Veto Bill now before us Hon. Members opposite often make a great mistake in regard to the reasons why we are fighting this Parliament Bill. 1675 We are not fighting for appanages, tradition, decorations, heredity, and for all the associations of the Second Chamber. They all have their use, and in truth there is a defence for all these things. If it were necessary I could cite De Tocqueville on this point, but stability of the realm comes first. I do not undervalue the old associations of the House of Lords, and whatever writers like Mr. Belloc may say, I hold that these things are a protection against the evils of a rampant plutocracy. On this question we have to look first to the stability of this realm, and I would rather have the newest, crudest, rawest, American Western State Senate with no associations at all than have the House of Lords under this Veto Bill. Hon. Members opposite have in their election speeches covered the House of Lords with ridicule, yet you are preserving all the features in them you have ridiculed. You are keeping them as a kind of show for the people; a reliquary for the inspection of foreigners, a kind of walking Madame Tussaud's, and a place of reward for your plutocrats when they have nothing left to buy. What are you now proposing? You are proposing something for which you have no authority at all in the history of your own country, or in the modern example of other countries. You are embarking upon a unique experiment which your own history condemns, for which the example of other countries gives you no encouragement.
I am not going to enter into the history of what happened in Cromwellian times during the Long Parliament. At that time this very scheme you are now proposing was proposed, and it was rejected simply because there was an easier way to the desired end in the total destruction of the House of Lords. What would follow if this Bill is passed? You would at once set into operation and allow the House of Lords to use the powers still left under it, and you would create a situation of such irritation that it could not long remain. With the very power you preserve you bring about an even more destructive change. Look for a moment to what happened to the House of Commons when it was supreme. Not only did it destroy the Crown and the last remnants of the other House, but it united in itself not only all legislative power, but all executive power and all judicial power as well. The traditions of this House are great, but when it has been fighting for its 1676 own privileges and immunities I think the records present the sorriest pages of our history. From the time of the atrocious sentences it passed when it usurped the functions of the law courts all through the long struggles against the Press and against freedom outside, as in the case of John Wilkes, right down to the empty and futile proceedings of the Committee of Privileges, this House was never shown to less advantage than when pressing its own rights—when pressing the rights of the people it has been glorious—but when pressing its own rights its record is one that no Member of it can look back to with pride.
Observe what followed from the assumption of all power into its own hands. It became impossible to live under the same Constitution for one year, one scheme after another was called into being, and at last it was proved that the only remedy for Parliamentary tyranny and despotism was military conspiracy, an ominous precedent which I commend to hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House. Why is it more necessary in this country that we should have some safeguard against the omnipotent power of the House of Commons? It is because the power of Parliament, unlike any other country in the world, is itself unlimited under the British Constitution. How seldom it is that we remember how precarious is the basis of the whole fabric of our policy when it is dependent on the will of an omnipotent Parliament. Hale, a great legal authority, wrote:—This being the highest and the greatest Court over which none other can have jurisdiction in the kingdom, if by any means a misgovernment should anyway fall upon it, the subjects of the kingdom are left without all manner of remedy.In the small things we recognise that in such matters we provide with the greatest care for the liberty of the subject. In all the details of private Bill legislation, whether it is taking a small amount of property or making some comparatively insignificant work for public convenience you secure that by every possible safeguard the liberties and rights of the subject are properly safeguarded. In the case of a public Bill you take none of these precautions, and you take the same procedure for regulating the speed of a motor-car as you do in dealing with the prerogatives of the Crown. Why is it that the system has not worked worse? The first reason is that in the past the general opinion of the House as a whole has really influenced legislation. Take the Education 1677 Bill of 1870. It was brought in by Mr. Gladstone's Government, and the difficulties at one became apparent. The pressure of the House was exercised upon the Government, and in the end that measure was entirely transformed and passed through the House not as the work of a Government driving through a measure by party machinery, but as the embodiment of the considered opinion of this House. So it was with other Bills at that time. There was always the Second Chamber, which had a power of checking legislation, and could appeal to the people against the House of Commons.
It is idle to contend that under this Bill there is any real restraint upon this House. Take Clause 1 as an example. You may have under this Clause a Money Bill perfectly consonant with the Clause something which by no construction could you say was not a Money Bill, and yet it might be an instrument of the profoundest political and economic resolution. In that case the House of Lords does not come into play at all. Under Clause 2 there are safeguards which can be brushed away once they become inconvenient to the majority in power. In this Bill you are neglecting every precaution which in the case of other democratic countries the wisdom of mankind has set up. I will not go through the whole list of them, but in the greatest of all democratic communities, the United States of America, you have precautions which it takes years to get round. They have secured the right that taxation must be uniform, sanctity of contracts, a limitation of the powers of subordinate bodies. Those are all countries which have two Chambers. Now you propose that the whole constitution and liberties of this realm shall be submitted to the unchecked control of one Chamber, with no appeal to a higher tribunal or to the great popular verdict of the people.
In the course of these Debates I asked the Attorney-General whether he could quote one Constitution which at once depended upon a single Chamber and was so flexible that it could be changed by the mere will of the legislature itself. He could not quote any such instance, and I now ask the Chancellor of the Duchy if he can quote an instance to that effect. Under certain circumstances hon. Members opposite can say with truth that the present Constitution works unfairly against them. That may be so, but is there no way of giving them what they require without throwing the whole of our 1678 Constitution into the melting-pot, which this Bill does? There are two ways. You can have a Second Chamber which shall act equally and impartially on Bills which are proposed by either side, or you can establish some other body which could have the power of settling what measures shall go to the people and what measures shall be settled by the two Assemblies. In either of those ways you would have real safeguards.
With regard to the Referendum, I say unhesitatingly that I would have it worked in cases in which the two Houses are agreed, as well as in the cases in which they differ. Under this Bill, if it becomes law, I have two great fears. My first fear is as to the position the Crown will occupy in the future. Where you have a Constitution consisting of three parts it is idle to say you can take one away and leave the remaining two parts as they were before. In that case the relations must be different. You have now the powers of the Crown dormant and in abeyance, but they are there all the same, and if this Bill passes it is certain that in some form or other in the future the question of their revival will come up. It will not come up, perhaps, in the form of the old veto on a Bill, or the direct dismissal of Ministers, but there is always the power of Dissolution, or of threatening a Dissolution, and when appeals may be made to the Crown, as surely they would be made, that this or that Bill should not be passed without a verdict of the people upon it, do you think the Crown could listen inattentive to those appeals?
Do you not think the Crown might not have to consider whether on its own responsibility, and acting upon its prerogatives, a Dissolution might not have to come about. You would have a question arising of the Crown on the one hand, backed perhaps by the majority of the people, as against the Ministers responsible to this House. Whatever view the Crown took the Sovereign would necessarily incur the ill-feeling of a certain portion of his subjects. That is a very dangerous position which has not come about before, but it is a position which most assuredly will come about if this Bill is passed as it stands. There would be a danger not only at home, but to our relations abroad, if once the position of the Crown is placed in peril, and attempts are made to discredit the person of the Sovereign, and to represent that the Sovereign is acting not as the, representative of the whole country, but as the instrument of a 1679 party. Under this Bill such attempts to discredit the position of the Sovereign might certainly be made. It is the Sovereign who holds this Empire together, and not this House.
No one in our Colonies cares anything for our majorities or our opinions, or even for the distinguished men who lead the Government and the Opposition. It is not this House they look to, but the position of the Crown, which embodies all the ancient traditions of Empire and liberty which are found in every part where the English language is spoken. Once you impair the position of the Crown you are striking a deadly blow at the Empire. Another thing I fear not less greatly is the result of what we all know are likely to be its first fruits—the passing of a measure which has been presented to the country in a concrete form and has twice been overwhelmingly rejected by the people of this country. Supposing a Home Rule Bill passes this House three times in two years and becomes law under this Bill—with what kind of authority will it come to those in Ireland who bitterly oppose it? Not with the authority of Parliamentary tradition, because one House will not have agreed to it, and not with the authority of popular mandate, because the issue will never have been submitted to the people of this country. It will come with no authority but that of the majority of this House elected upon other issues. Do you suppose those in Ireland who are bitterly opposed to Home Rule will accept such a position? What are you going to do if they do not? Supposing they refuse to pay taxes to the new Government set up, are you going to distrain on half a province, and are you going to support your bailiffs by the armed forces of the Crown? These men of whom I am talking do not, specially command my sympathy, and, if the struggle that I see should come about, I should myself feel the position in a peculiarly bitter and painful way, because the struggle once developed would become very much like a war of religion. We must, however, face facts as they most certainly would be if this Bill were passed, and I say, unhesitatingly, no constitutional authority, no moralist, and no theologian could say it was wrong to resist by force a Government imposed by fraud.
I see another grave, and as far as ordinary foresight can tell, an almost certain danger if by any chalice this Bill becomes law. I look upon this Bill as an accumu- 1680 lating symptom of the breaking up of our ancient polity. We have seen a decay of Parliamentary control over the Executive. We have seen a decay of Parliamentary control over legislation. We have seen with it a concurrent and, in part, a consequent growth of bureaucracy. We have seen, in Act after Act of Parliament, attempts made to supersede the judicial bench by conferring greater power upon Departments, and we have seen all these things done with an ever lessening freedom of Parliamentary discussion. We have seen Bills drafted in skeleton at the instigation of the caucus, passed by the party machine and extended and enforced by Government Departments. All these things are not pleasant to anyone who loves the ancient liberties of his country, and, if this Bill should pass, I see a wide vista of future proposals of the same kind. As a great, constitutional writer, Mr. Burke, has better and more forcibly laid it down, while the same evils occur from time to time in our political history, they take different forms at different phases of our political life. The danger of this day is not the encroachments of the Crown. It is not the selfishness of a close aristocracy. It is not either the natural impulses of a free people. The danger arises from the concentration of force in a party machine and in the extension of the powers of the officials which that party machine controls. That is at present the great danger to the liberties of this country, and that is the danger which I, at any rate, see will be extended and confirmed in future by this Bill.
The Prime Minister, when we made proposals to mitigate the effect of this unlimited power in the House of Commons, has always replied, "This is unconstitutional. The Referendum is a Jacobin innovation. The setting up of a court of law to judge of the constitutional acts of Parliament is a foreign innovation," and the like. But he forgets that by a series of proposals since the Government have been in office and by the application of this Bill he has destroyed, and is destroying, all the old safeguards which made our Constitution a work loved, admired, and imitated. He may talk of his constitutional formulæ he may pretend he is merely trying to make the machine of legislation work, but in truth and in fact the result of his endeavours, if this Bill passes, will be that this country, which one hundred years ago saved the liberties of Europe, will in our clay lose her own.
§ Mr. GEORGE ROBERTS
The hon. and learned Member for the Walton Division of Liverpool (Mr. F. E. Smith) realised that at this stage very little new can be added to this controversy. Nevertheless, it is felt that on behalf of the party with which I am associated I should offer a few observations in order to make the position of that party clear on the Third Reading. In so doing, I shall emulate the very commendable example set by the hon. and learned Member. The tone and temper of his speech was of a very good quality, and perhaps marked a new departure in his Parliamentary career. It is a departure that is generally appreciated. First of all, I desire to repudiate the assumption that the Parliament Bill is merely a temporary expedient. The Labour party contemplate this measure as one that shall endure as an integral part of our Constitution. It has become evident that the oft-repeated allegations that this Bill means Single-Chamber Government is exploded. The hon. and learned Member himself, towards the conclusion of his speech, emphasised the fact that the Bill did confer very great powers upon the House of Lords. We regard the Veto as an issue that has been decided by the people of this country. It has unquestionably been before the electorate on two occasions in a direct fashion, and even then it was not new, because it has been canvassed for many years past. The whole democratic tendency of the period is for more and more power to be vested in the people, and the fact is the so-called common people are gradually moving towards a position of equal political power. The ultimate aim must be that citizenship shall rest upon the manhood and womanhood of the nation, and not upon wealth considerations or matters of social standing. I believe it will be found that the democracy will never acquiesce in this House going back upon the provisions of this Bill. Democracy never yields up a thing which it has fought for and won. The democracy, I believe, desire that the Second Chamber shall he subordinate to the one they elect, and, if I interpret the provisions of this Bill rightly, it simply asserts the principle that the elected body shall be supreme over the non-elected assembly.
The hon. and learned Gentleman very naturally paid some considerable attention to the scheme which has been projected in the other place. I acknowledge with him that Lord Lansdowne's scheme marks considerable advance. Two years ago we 1682 would never have contemplated that the Lords would have capitulated in such considerable fashion. In those days we were, told the other House represented all the wisdom of the nation.
§ Mr. GEORGE ROBERTS
And in that the hon. Baronet still acquiesces. We were told they had a peculiar power of divining the popular will, and that no, better body could exist in our country to secure the best, interests of the nation. It is nevertheless necessary we should pay some regard to the proposals made by the. Leader of the Unionist Party in the other House, for I contemplate we may regard those proposals as reflecting the opinion of the Unionist party as a whole. Candidly speaking, those proposals are not at all acceptable to those with whom I am associated, nor do I believe they will be acceptable to the people at large. It has already been revealed they are not fair as between the two great parties in the State. Even the observations of the hon. and learned Gentleman himself went to prove that the dice is loaded on the one side in a most unfair fashion. The scheme has. I believe, been received with some amount of approbation by the Unionist party in the country. It may suit the Unionist party, but the Constitution is not to be made to suit a particular party; it must be made to suit the nation as a whole, and the Conservative party is certainly not the nation. The Constitution, to be strong and enduring, must grow out of the experience of the people, and not be influenced by some power outside themselves. These proposals, in effect, invite the House of Commons to say, "We are so easily swept away by popular clamour, and so likely to enact hasty and unsound legislation, that we must have a corrective applied to us, and we are invited ourselves to supply that corrective." It seems to me logical that if we are competent to supply the corrective we are equally competent to correct ourselves from those abuses.
I do not claim that existing conditions are defensible. I am perfectly prepared to acknowledge this House needs a considerable amount of reform, and I feel that is the path we ought to pursue. After all, these great constitutional controversies will ultimately find their solution in a reform of this House, as well as in the Parliament Bill. I desire to see this House, as far as practicable, made to reflect the various phases of opinion and principles in the country. I desire to see reforms 1683 enacted which will abolish plural voting university representation, and make this House what it ought to be, a true reflex of parties and principles in the State. We constantly complain of our lack of control over national affairs. I admit we are not able to exercise that full measure of control and investigation which is desirable, but it is due to the congestion of business from which this House suffers, and Home Rule not only for Ireland but also for Wales, Scotland, and England, will have to be enacted in order to take from the control of Parliament what are mainly local affairs. That will release Parliament and enable it to exercise in a more effective fashion that control which I recognise to be highly desirable. We in this part of the House have given a thoroughly consistent support to the Parliament Bill throughout. We have never allowed any ambiguity to surround our views. We have not supported the Parliament Bill as embodying the complete will of the Labour movement in this country. We ourselves have frankly stood out as a Single-Chamber party. In our election campaign we did not in any way seek to hide that view, and I am repeating today the fact that we are still unconvinced of the necessity for a Second Chamber. But we have to bow to the popular will and to the expression of that will through the representatives of the people in this House. We have to admit that the country desires a Second Chamber, and therefore it is essential we should give more consideration to this question, and seek to find out what sort of body may be necessary. The hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. F. E. Smith) must find himself in conflict with a large number of Members of his own party. He has expressed himself as not being opposed to an elective Second Chamber. I should like to know whether that represents the view of the Unionist party to-day. It certainly cannot be reconciled with the scheme projected by Lord Lansdowne in the other House. That is not perhaps an elective Chamber on the lines of the hon. and learned Member's speech, but it will have served a very useful purpose if we are able to get, as a result of this Debate to-day, the real attitude of the Unionist party on this point.
I am one of those who feel with my hon. Friend the Member for Leicester (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald) that an elective Chamber would not be of a satisfactory character, because you cannot get an elec- 1684 tive Chamber subordinate to this Chamber if elected by the people themselves. Nor do I think that a partially nominated and partially elected Chamber is one that can be defended in a democratic Constitution. We are told that we ought to make some modification in order to ensure that measures passing through this House and the other House shall be perfectly embraced by the people of the country. We are told that the Referendum must be an integral part of our Constitution, even under the existing order, and certainly with a reformed Second Chamber. The Referendum appears at first sight to be an extremely democratic proposition, but after all democracy does not merely consist in endowing people with the power to vote. It also means that the people shall have an equal power to express the value and desire of that vote. As things stand to-day the wealthier sections of the country possess an enormous advantage over the less well-to-do sections. The Referendum does not get rid of this unfair advantage; it rather aggravates it to the detriment of the poorer parties in the State.
Australian experience has been pointed to by hon. Members in the course of this Debate. I am not going to argue the merits or demerits of the proposals which enter into the Referendum there, but, nevertheless, it is perfectly clear that the wealthier sections in Australia had a great advantage over the Labour party because of the Labour party's lack of resources in the struggle. We have had evidence brought to our notice which shows that to be a fact, therefore, we have at the very outset the acknowledgment that the Referendum is not that democratic form of expression that some people would have us believe. In this measure we approximate as near as is necessary to the Referendum; we make provisions for the shorter duration of Parliament, for more frequent General Elections, for more frequent contact with the people, and these matters seem to me to supply all that is necessary in order to make effective checks on the House of Commons itself. I have already stated that we need some reform in our Constitution, some reform in the methods by which this House of Commons is constituted. When we have those reforms this House may be a more perfect machine, but it appears to me certain that the Upper House would be no less a necessity than at the present time.
1685 The powers and character of the Upper House and the reform of the House of Commons must necessarily undergo considerable modification. It is impossible at this stage to fully indicate what should be the power and character of such a Second Chamber when we have effected better methods of electing this House itself. Therefore, I come round to the point of view again that the real need is for the reform of the House of Commons itself. What is desirable is to ensure that this House shall properly reflect the state of parties and of opinion in the country. When we have secured that we shall have proved what the Labour party has consistently advanced—i.e., that there is no need for a Second Chamber as contemplated at the present time. We have to settle the functions of the Second Chamber before we set to work to supply the structure, and, therefore, we regard the Government as purusing a right and wise course in deferring the fulfilment of the pledge contained in their Preamble until the people have a greater experience of the working of the Second Chamber system.
The removal of the financial Veto and the restriction of the legislative Veto will enable us to gauge if there is a necessity for a Second Chamber, and what is the nature of that necessity. It may be, as my hon. Friend the. Member for Leicester put it the other day, that we shall find there is simply a necessity for a revising body alone, possessing no legislative authority. When contemplating this problem sometimes I have felt that that might ultimately prove to supply the whole needs of the case; but, still, a Second Chamber as now constituted, or as projected in Lord Lansdowne's speech, would not offer what I contemplate might prove to be a necessity. I admit it is different to a revising assembly, and it is different because it is difficult to find a class of dispassionate advisers. The past, has proved that the House of Lords is not a body that can commend itself for continuance as an effectual revising power. So far as the House of Lords revises legislation it does so exclusively according to the supposed interests, predominant opinions, and inherited feelings of the class from which it is drawn, and which it particularly represents. It has proved to be completely out of touch with modern ideas, and is not impartial—it is, rather, the most biassed body of revisers.
On this occasion I have to reaffirm the position of the Labour party having 1686 regard to that which has happened. We still desire it to be known that we have no need, as we have put it, for a Second Chamber in our Constitution. On the other hand we have been compelled to acknowledge that the country is not with us in the views we have put forward, and, therefore, we have had to contemplate what it was that the country decided upon in previous General Elections. We believe the Government is perfectly entitled to claim that they have the sanction of the country for the provisions of the Bill, the Third Reading stage of which is now before the House. The Bill does not contemplate a revolution. At any rate, if it does it is about the tamest revolution upon record. The condition of this House this afternoon disproves the allegation that any revolution is contemplated. I think even hon. Members on the other side now agree that the House of Lords will be left with considerable power—with at least as large powers as the country desires that it should be possessed of. In this respect we are all agreed. [HON. MEMBERS: "No, no."] We on these benches—that is as far as I meant to go—are agreed that the Government has carried out the desire of the people in pushing through this Parliament Bill. We are certain that it does not mean the Single Chamber Government for which we on these benches have stood in the country and in this House. Notwithstanding that it falls far short of the desire we have consistently expressed, nevertheless, on the Third Reading we shall continue the policy we have pursued throughout its previous stages, and, although we would have preferred this Bill without its embarrassing preamble, we are prepared to vote for it because we would rather have it than no Bill at all. That is all I desire to say on behalf of the party with which I am associated. We trust that our position is not misunderstood in any quarter of the House. We have desired to be perfectly clear and frank, both to those who agree with us and to those who differ from us, and we feel that, after all, this measure makes but a moderate reform, but one which is worth having. Therefore it is that we of the Labour party are going to give the Government our support on the Third Reading of this Bill.
§ Mr. R. A. COOPER
The hon. Member for Norwich (Mr. G. Roberts) certainly kept faith with the intention he expressed at the beginning of his speech by maintaining the excellent tone that was adopted by my hon. Friend the Member for the Walton 1687 division of Liverpool (Mr. F. E. Smith). Towards the close of the hon. Member's speech he made a reference to the lack of revolution, which he apparently had expected in the country, but I think I may say, with a large degree of confidence, that the revolution in the country with regard to this Parliament Bill and its effect has not yet begun. We are at the present but at the initial stage of the great change, political and constitutional, which this Bill sets in motion. According to the earlier part of the hon. Member's speech he admitted or agreed that Lord Lansdowne's Bill was at any rate a step in advance so far as the reform of the House of Lords is concerned. But he complained that the proposals set out in that Bill are not fair to the two great political parties in the State. It may be a matter of opinion, but I venture to think that on any fair calculation as to how that Bill is likely to work out it can only be contemplated that a small majority would accrue to the Tory party at the best, and such a small majority that, if the principle of conference between the two Houses were ever accepted that principle would even in this Parliament, having a Liberal majority, lead to the settlement of a dispute between the two Houses.
I am not in order in deviating too widely on that matter, and I will content myself with pointing out the great difficulty which besets the Prime Minister, Lord Lansdowne, the Unionists, or any other party which wants to deal effectively, but honestly with a Second Chamber is that such an assembly must inevitably be of a Conservative temper. The hon. Member further made a proposal which I have had in my mind I think during the whole of the Debates on this Parliament Bill, and it is one which I and many others very cordially agree with him upon. That is that one of the first essentials which will be required to ensure just legislation, if it is conceivably possible under the Parliament Bill, is that there should be a full, proper, and preliminary proposal to commence the reform of the House of Commons itself. At the present time we not only have a majority of 13 against this Parliament. Bill in England, but we know that in Scotland, Ireland and Wales there have been very seductive promises held out as to what they will get under devolution if only they supported the Government at the electtion last December. And we in England, the great partner in the Union, while we have a majority against this very measure 1688 that we are now discussing in this country, apparently are of so little avail that we have got to truckle and sink our desires to the requirements of Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.
The hon. Member dealt with another subject which I feel bound to take up, in case there might be a genuine misapprehension in his mind, and that was that my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Walton in his opinion favours, on general principles, an elected Second. Chamber. I have no right to speak for my hon. and learned Friend, but I do venture to assert, without fear of contradiction, that on general principles he believes in nothing of the kind. He only believes in or would be prepared to support an elected Second Chamber in certain contingencies, which he most adequately and amply explained in the remarks to which we listened a short time ago. The last point of the hon. Member's speech was with regard to the Referendum. I am not going into that in detail now, but I may observe, and perhaps some hon. Member below the Gangway opposite will later on explain how it is that in this country the very mention of a Referendum appears to be like a red rag to a bull both to the Radical and the Labour party, whilst their own colleagues in Australia to-day—the Labour party—who are in power, apparently entirely approve of the Referendum, and are only too glad to make use of it, recognising as they do that in the Referendum you have, not an undemocratic weapon, but you have the very reverse—the essence of democratic Government itself.
When one considers the main principles of the Bill before the House, and contrasts them with the cries which we heard on Radical platforms throughout the country at the last General Election—I cannot answer in regard to throughout the country, but I can answer for nine constituencies altogether in the Midlands, and there the two main cries that were made every night on every Radical platform by every Radical candidate were—first, the permanent Tory majority in the House of Lords, and secondly the hereditary principle and its disabilities. Those were the two main platform cries of every Radical speech, and it was upon those cries that the great majority, or at any rate a large number of hon. Members opposite, were returned to the House. It is a curious thing that, having got that mandate from the people which hon. Members claim that here we are discussing on this 1689 Bill and its Preamble, provisions which do not touch either of those two main principles to which many hon. Members in this House on the benches opposite owe their right to sit here. Perhaps the most remarkable feature of the whole Debate on this Bill through its various stages has been the sullen silence of hon. Members opposite. I should not have referred to it this evening had I not been a little perplexed to understand an article I read in the "Manchester Guardian" of the 21st April last, when this peculiar feature was referred to, and it was said:—They, the Liberal Members, for their part are helping the Prime Minister excellently by not adding to the Debate.Obviously that can be taken in more ways than one, but if the silence of the supporters of the Government has, as a tactical movement, really aided the Prime Minister and his Government to get this Bill through the House of Commons, I venture to think that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition himself will not be slow to benefit from the experience which we have gone through in the last few weeks; and perhaps this tactical movement, when he and we on these benches have a Tariff Reform measure before the House, will be useful. There are two main principles in this Bill which compel every Unionist to fight very strongly against it. One is that the lives, the liberties and the destiny of the British people under this Bill are at the mercy of any despotic political party that may be sitting in this House by the very smallest margin of a majority. For my part I would not trust my own party under these conditions, and still less would I trust the party who sit opposite. We might have the hon. and learned Member for Waterford (Mr. John Redmond) crowning himself or his satellites in the United States crowning him King of this country. It is not perhaps at all inappropriate that the hon. and learned Member has come into the House at this juncture because he happened to favour me at the last General Election by paying a special visit to my Constituency — the only one in England that he did visit — to which I should like to refer. The hon. Members opposite ridicule what I admit is a farfetched statement to make of any individual having quite so large a power as that to which I have referred. But I am justified putting it on a mild line if that will give greater satisfaction to hon. Members opposite in saying that under this Bill 1690 any Government can instal themselves in power in perpetuity. There is nothing to prevent it. We had an Amendment before the House to prevent that, taking place. I think it was admitted that that Amendment had no ulterior object as was suggested in other cases, but that proposal was not accepted by the Prime Minister. Why it was not accepted it is very hard for us to explain.
The second main point of this Bill is that admitted by the Prime Minister himself, that it is a means to an end, and when he referred to the means to an end he took as his example not as I should have expected him to do, the fulfilment of the will of the people of this country, but the means to the end which he took as an illustration was Home Rule for Ireland. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Walton has already this afternoon made a very apt reference to Home Rule in 1893 and pointed out how under the operation of the Parliament Bill that Home Rule Bill would have been pased into law. It has been alleged, I believe, by a few Members on the other side, who have spoken on the subject, especially by the Prime Minister himself, that Home Rule has been before the electorate throughout the country at the last election. For my own part I can say that in my own constituency from 2lst November it is absolutely true that Home Rule was before the electorate, and to such a state of necessity were my opponents brought in a constituency that has been for years past absolutely Liberal that they had to do the utmost in their leaver, and to get the hon. and learned Member for Waterford to come to Walsall in order to prevent my capturing the seat. What was the result of so distinguished and so able a statesman visiting my Constituency? There are a large number of Irish in the constituency. The House may be sure of that, because he would not have gone there if there had not been. The only result of putting Home Rule absolutely fairly and freely at every meeting before a Midland constituency which has been Radical for fifty-seven years out of sixty-three was to increase the Unionist vote by 40 per cent. It is absolutely untrue for any hon. Member, Minister, or humble Member opposite to make the statement that Home Rule generally, throughout the. country, was before the electors at the last election. Every night during the election there was a Radical paper which had just sixteen words printed in large type, and in nine constituencies this paper has a very large 1691 sale. It is headed "Peers v. People; 45,000,000 against 608 Peers." [An HON. MEMBER: "Name of the paper, please."] "Express and Star," Wolverhampton. It appeared, I believe, for some ten or eleven nights during the election. So much for Radical calculation. The third line is, "Still the only issue, who shall rule?" And the word "only" is underlined.
Can anyone say, when party papers have had these big headlines in night after night in nine constituencies in the Midlands, that Home Rule, this end that the Prime Minister has in view in passing the Bill, was fairly before the constituencies? My own opinion and that of others on these benches is that the passing of the Parliament Bill, without carrying out the Preamble certainly, possibly if it were carried out, is nothing more than the creation of a party despotism far worse even than exists to-day, to such an extent has the party system developed in this country. So far as private Members are concerned there are only three things practically that they can do, they can ask questions, they can vote, and they can shout. Beyond that it seems to me that a private Member is nothing more than an automaton, following the dictates, if they are on the side in. power, of the Prime Minister of the day.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
I have had so many opportunities at various stages in the course of this Bill of expressing my views, I think on every point of importance, directly or indirectly raised by it, that I should feel I was making an unpardonable encroachment on the time of private Members, whose pathetic condition has just been described to us in such moving terms, if I did more than in a very few sentences endeavour to express the reason why I now ask the House to read the Bill a third time. The governing reason is, that this Bill is precisely that which we all of us now, on both sides of the House, agree that an Act of Parliament ought to be, namely, the deliberate and considered expression of the public will. I will recall one or two notorious and familiar facts. In the year 1909, after the rejection of the Budget and in view of the General Election which was imminent, it was my privilege on behalf of the Liberal party to address a great meeting in the Albert Hall, and I there stated, in terms the clearness of which I do not think anyone has brought into question, that in our judgment it would be the primary and the 1692 paramount duty of the Liberal Government if returned to power to place on the Statute Book a Bill in the first place abolishing the legal power of the House of Lords to interfere with finance and, as regards other legislation, transforming their absolute into a merely suspensory Veto.
That was the policy of the Liberal party pronounced in the plainest possible language before the General Election of January, 1910. In the new Parliament returned after that election, at the earliest possible moment we introduced the Resolutions upon which this Bill is founded. I then said, speaking on behalf of my colleagues, that the Government, by putting forward these Resolutions recognised at the same time the urgency of the reconstitution of the Second Chamber upon a workable basis. The passing of the Resolutions and of the Bill founded upon them was the first preliminary and indispensable step. The Bill as introduced, precisely carried out that proposal. Its operative parts were confined to abolishing the privileges of the House of Lords in regard to finance and converting the Veto into a suspensory one, while in the Preamble the intention was clearly expressed that, not as part and parcel of that operation, but at a future date and supplementary to it, it was the intention of Parliament to reconstruct the Second Chamber on a popular, as distinguished from a hereditary basis. That was the situation in the summer of last year.
The hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. F. E. Smith), who opened the Debate in such an able and interesting speech, made a very impressive and powerful appeal at the close of his speech, in which he dwelt upon the virtues of conciliation and the value of compromise. No one could listen to what was said with so much and such obvious sincerity without an inward response. I may remind him that after the lamented death of the late King in the month of May last year the Leaders of the two parties spent the best part of six months in an honest, persistent, laborious, and, I believe, single-minded attempt to arrive by agreement at a settlement of all the problems involved in this constitutional question. It was only after that attempt, honestly persisted in upon both sides, had, for reasons which I need not indicate and with regard to which I have never said that blame attached to one side or the other, failed to my great regret, and I believe to the equally great regret of right hon. Gentlemen opposite, that we 1693 took up again the struggle at the point at which for the time being we had laid down our arms and felt it was necessary, as indeed it was, that our policy should once more receive the emphatic approval of the electors of the country.
The result was the General Election of December last year. As everyone knows, at that election this Bill, Preamble and Clauses, was submitted to the electors for their approval or disapproval, as the case might be. What does that amount to? You have had two General Elections, you have had two Parliaments. In one of those Parliaments majorities of from 100 to 120 have voted steadily for the Resolutions on which this Bill is founded; in the other of these Parliaments, that in which we are now sitting, equally large majorities have supported the Bill. These are undoubted and undeniable facts. I will ask this question of hon. Gentlemen opposite, particularly now that they are so enamoured of the Referendum, and have recognised, and I am very glad that they have, that in the long run legislation in a democratic country must conform to the expressed will of the people. Has there ever in our legislative history been a measure which went to the House of Lords with a better title than this Bill will go there to-night to be put on the Statute Book?
I do not know that what I have been saying is a mere matter of opinion, conjecture, or speculation. I do not know that the hon. and learned Gentleman who, though he attacked us powerfully on many points, spoke with very great candour, would traverse the proposition that this Bill was approved by the electorate so lately as December last; in fact, I rather think he said at the end of his speech, "Admitted that your Parliament Bill has been approved, we shall try to get them to disapprove of it at some future date." He seemed to recognise that that was the state of the case. I have no doubt that is not the position of all the hon. Gentlemen who sit around him. I do not think it is the position of the Leader of the opposition. As I understand, some of his arguments they amount to this, that we have misunderstood the mandate and misconstrued the authority which was given us at the election. With that power of divination into the movements of the popular mind which the right hon. Gentleman shares with the House of Lords, he has discovered, or thinks he has discovered, that the real intention of the electors was not to approve or disapprove of 1694 the Parliament Bill, but to make it our first business or duty to start a new Second Chamber. I do not know whether he has said it, but it has been said or written by Members of his party that we got our votes by denouncing the hereditary principle, and that we are using the power so obtained to set up Single-Chamber Government.
What is the theory? The theory is that a constitutional revolution is being engineered inside the walls of this House, behind the backs, without the consent and even against the will of the people. In fact, the state of things is even worse than that, for, if I understand and can properly measure the cumulative charges he has brought against us, the people have been doubly tricked twice over in less than a year. They were tricked, as the hon. Gentleman (Mr. Cooper) has told us, though I fail to see any connection between his premises and his conclusion, in the matter of Home Rule; and it appears they were also tricked over the Parliament Bill. What art estimate hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite must have of the intelligence of their fellow-countrymen. Is it not curious that this great mystification has been successfully practised by the Liberal party and the Liberal Governmen of the country, and that after three months of Parliamentary discussion, during which this Bill has passed through all its stages with large and steady majorities, the people who upon this hypothesis were taken in in December showed no sign whatever of turning on their betrayers?
The hon. Gentleman (Mr. Cooper) said that what he called a revolution, I suppose he meant a revolutionary agitation, was not at present in process of operation outside. He said that in course of time we should see it. Well, for the moment at any rate, after nearly three months' full discussion, I am unable to discover a murmur of protest or even a tittle of remonstrance, though I am made conscious occasionally of a yawn of weariness over the unduly prolonged discussion, as those poor people outside seem to think, of small and much-debated points which are after all the incidents, in their judgment, of a foregone conclusion. What is the explanation of this provoking and disappointing lethargy on the part of the people of this country? May I suggest an explanation which seems to me to fit the facts. It is that they are behaving just as if what has happened, and what is happening, was what they expected and intended. It is one of the most 1695 curious paradoxes I have known in a somewhat prolonged Parliamentary experience that at this moment, when, according to hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, we have shown an intention to deceive them, the people have not asserted their self-respect and resented a great piece of political cajolery—it is curious that this very moment should be chosen for them to embrace with noisy fervour the instrument of the Referendum. If the arguments of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen are correct, surely the people are not going to trust to them such an omnipotent instrument as that. The truth is, as I am constrained to point out to hon. Gentlemen opposite, that in my judgment, at any rate, they have profoundly misconceived the origin and the purpose of the popular movement against the House of Lords, and of the popular demand that before any thing else is done the relations between the two Houses should be placed upon a satisfactory basis.
The days are gone by when the right hon. Gentleman himself, I think, and certainly some of the orators of his party, referred to the present House of Lords as resting upon an impregnable basis, and as exciting the envy and admiration of all other civilised communities. The days are also gone by—though they are not very remote—I think what I am going to quote was spoken less than eighteen months ago—when Lord Curzon, who is one of the pioneers of the new reforming movement, explained to an audience somewhere in the country that the House of Lords is really more representative than the House of Commons. He was good enough to point out that it was not exposed to the dangers and temptations of popular elections, not obliged to catch the passing gusts of popular fashion, and, above all, not bound to obey pledges too often rashly given and reluctantly redeemed. That was the picture drawn of the comparative character of our two legislative chambers less than eighteen months ago. I believe that the right hon. Gentleman and his friends are still convinced that hostility to the House of Lords outside is due to some abstract aversion to the hereditary principle, that it is due, in fact, to the circumstance not that the House of Lords has done wrong, but that in their view the House of Lords does not look well. I say that because hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, and in another place also, are prepared to defend everything that has been done by the House of Lords alike during the ten 1696 years of quiet subservience to the Government of the day between 1895 and 1905, and in the four years during which it thwarted and periodically checkmated the legislative efforts of the largest Liberal majority that has ever been returned to the House of Commons. According to them the House of Lords did exactly what an ideal Second Chamber would have done under corresponding circumstances — did nothing it ought not to have done and omitted nothing it ought to have done, and what they want, as far as I can make out, is to have a Second Chamber which will do the same work, do it, as far as I can gather, in the same spirit, and that there is no fault whatever to be found with what the House of Lords has done. They only wish that the work should be done under other conditions, with a majority less obtrusively and offensively one-sided, and that the hereditary principle should be diluted by indirect election, by nomination, and by other devices of that kind.
I believe that the whole of that view proceeds from a profound misreading of the popular sentiment. The hostility of the people to the House of Lords, and their demand that this Bill should be passed into law before anything else is done, is not due to any academic or abstract dislike of the hereditary principle. People are quite content to acquiesce in the hereditary principle where, as in the case of our Monarchy, it fits in and performs an efficient function in the operation of democratic Government. Their dislike is based on no abstract or academic theory. It is based entirely upon what the House of Lords has done. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. J. Chamberlain), in a memorable speech twenty-five years ago, summing up the past history of the House of Lords then—I do not give his precise language—said that it has sheltered every abuse, defended every privilege, and perpetually obstructed the course of reform and of progressive legislation. Have things changed in the twenty-five years that have elapsed since that day? The hon. and learned Gentleman who spoke at the beginning of the evening challenged us, or at least challenged a statement I made as a justification for the second Clause of this Bill that a House of Commons fresh from contact with the constituencies might presumably be regarded as representing and reflecting the predominant opinion and the prevailing will of the people at the time. He said if that is your test, will you apply it to Conservative 1697 legislation as well as to Liberal legislation? Certainly I will. This second Clause is intended to apply to whatever Government may be in power, and whatever may be the composition or the complexion of the majority in this House. He said, What about our Education Bill of 1902?
I have two observations to make on that. In the first place, it is just one of the cases where the presumption which is a sufficiently strong presumption to base legislation upon probably did not apply, because, as everybody will remember, we were invited at the General Election of 1900 to give a majority to the Government of the day, putting aside, and deliberately putting aside, our views on education, licensing, and all those other controversial topics, in order that the Executive of the day might be furnished with power and authority to finish the war, and to liberate the country from the difficulties to which it was then exposed. That is an exceptional case. It is just the same as if, having promised, as we did practically promise, before the General Election of 1906, that during the Parliament then to be elected—although many of us were Home Rulers—we would not deal with the question of Home Rule, we had then in the first or second Session of that Parliament introduced a Home Rule measure. That would have been an analagous case. We are not bound in legislation of this kind to deal with cases which are so exceptional that they ought never to occur, and which I hope are never likely to be repeated.
As the hon. and learned Gentleman has pointed out, and no one with greater force—this is my answer to the charge perpetually put forward, that this is introducing Single-Chamber Government in what is called the interregnum between the passing of this Bill and the reconstruction of the House of Lords—that, so far from living under Single-Chamber Government in that time, the House of Commons will be embarrassed, hampered, and fettered at every moment by the elaborate series of safeguards and precautionary provisions which this second Clause has introduced, and that it will not be enough for the purpose of an Education Bill, or any Bill, introduced by the Government of the day, to pass it through the House of Commons in the first Session. It will have to go through that ordeal during the second and third Sessions. I have sufficient belief in the power of public opinion in 1698 this country, in the ventilating and enlightening effect of Parliamentary and outside discussion and criticism, to feel confident that a measure which was really being forced by the House of Commons outstaying or misreading its mandate, and forcing legislation against the opinion of a large majority of the people would never stand, and could never stand, the series of checks to which it would be exposed under this Bill.
It is not a question of Single-Chamber Government at all. It is a question of securing that the House of Commons, fresh from the electorate, and presumably, as I say, in the early years of its existence, representing the views of that electorate shall, after three Sessions and two years, and if public opinion is still favourable to the measures it proposes, have an effective chance of carrying them into law. Some doubt was expressed, and it has been frequently expressed, as to the sincerity of the Government in inserting the language of the Preamble in this Bill. But the considerations I have dwelt upon show that on the merest ground of naked self-interest it would be the business of the Government to carry out the pledge they have given with regard to the reconstitution of the House of Lords. See how we stand under the Bill if nothing were done to carry into effect the Parliamentary pledge the Preamble contains. So long as we are in power and have a majority, large or small in this House, a majority adequate to carry measures through this House, we cannot get those measures carried into law, if they are, as in nine cases out of ten they would be, measures to which the present House of Lords would take exception. We cannot get those measures passed into law without going through this cumbrous process of three Sessions in two years with all the risks which that delay and discussion involve. On the other hand, to reverse the position, if you imagine a state of things in which the right hon. Gentleman opposite and his party are in power under this Bill, Clause 2 would never operate at all so long as the Second Chamber is constituted in the manner in which it is constituted to-day. Therefore, if you doubt our honesty and sincerity, and if we are really in this matter paltering with the country and playing with words, you might, at any rate, take into account that our party interests and our political fortunes are really hound up in this new scheme of reconstruction of the House of Lords upon such a basis as will 1699 enable it to do even-handed justice between both parties.
I have stated over and over again, and I repeat on this, the last occasion on which I shall have an opportunity of doing so, that it is the intention of the Government to undertake that task in the lifetime of the present Parliament. I have laid down as they should be laid down, I think with the general approval of my hon. Friends on this side of the House, and I believe of a very large number of hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House, certain conditions, very simple conditions, to which it seems to me that a satisfactory Second Chamber must conform. To construct a Second Chamber in conformity with those conditions will be a difficult and a laborious, but I see no reasons whatsoever why it should prove to be an impossible task. I venture, if I may in all good faith, to reecho what was said by an hon. Member opposite, and to say that it is one in the performance of which, as things develop, I hope there shall come to us more possibility of a common ground than at present appears, and a larger field for agreement, and, if possible, perhaps for co-operation. But this preliminary step must first be taken. The hon. and learned Gentleman appeals to us to show a spirit of conciliation and compromise. I cannot help remarking that only a very few days ago Lord Curzon, whom I have already quoted, speaking with apparent authority on behalf of the party of which he is a distinguished ornament and leader, declared in most explicit terms that their attitude towards the Parliament Bill was one of unchanged and unchangeable hostility. I forbear to make any comment on that, but I repeat, as I began, that our first duty, in view of the electoral and Parliamentary history of this measure, is to place this Bill on the Statute Book. It is stamped, if ever a measure was stamped, with the authority and approval of the electorate of the United Kingdom. It has been referred to the people, and has been accepted by the people less than six months ago. Therefore, it is precisely the kind of measure which, in compliance with the principle which is now the common profession, at any rate, of all parties in this House, it is the duty of Parliament to pass into law.
Like the Prime Minister, I have spoken so often upon the fundamental principles underlying this Bill, that even the most indulgent audiences may well be wearied of the case which I 1700 have so frequently endeavoured to lay be-for them; and, like the Prime Minister also, I shall not attempt this evening to survey the full ground. I shall imitate the Prime Minister's brevity, though I shall endeavour to be more argumentative than the Prime Minister thought it desirable to be. For, indeed, if anyone casts his mind back over the speech to which we have just listened he will find, as regards the merits of the scheme—as regards the claim it has to be the work of statesmen well acquainted with the past and endeavouring, at any rate, to sight the difficulties and dangers of the future—as regards this Bill from its argumentative side, not one word, good, bad, or indifferent, so far as I remember, fell from the Prime Minister in the speech of forty minutes' duration which he has just delivered. He thought it enough to iterate and reiterate the statement which he has often made, and others have often made in this House before—namely, that this Bill requires no argument and requires no defence inside these walls, as outside these walls it has received the verdict of two general elections. That I do not think is enough under any circumstances for a Prime Minister defending a Bill on the Third Reading of which he was in charge, but surely it is peculiarly absurd when it comes from a quarter which seems to think that it is in this House, and in this House alone, that Debates are important, and that people outside ought never to be consulted by any machinery which shall bring before them a plain, a clear, and sharp-cut issue.
He has told us over and over again that this House not only represents the people in the sense that we are sent by people to deal with public affairs, but that it represents the people as being a replica, an exact imitation of them. He has always repudiated that. He has always told us it is in this House, and only in this House, that details can be understood, and the full scope of measures weighed in the balance. I think, in those circumstances the Prime Minister would have done well on this, the last occasion on which we shall be able in this House to survey the whole of this measure from beginning to end, to have given as some broad justification for the course he has now adopted, and which he has thought well to adopt on this occasion. What does this verdict or announcement of the popular will really come to? The right hon. Gentleman says now that it is common ground between the two sides of the House that the settled will of the people should always be carried into 1701 effect, as if that was a new doctrine which himself and his Friends, as the result of their efforts through many decades, had at last got accepted by an unwilling Opposition. That, as far as I know, has been the doctrine of both sides long before the right hon. Gentleman, even with his ripe experience, became a Member of this House, or took any part whatever in public affairs. Never to my mind was it suggested or laid down by any statesman of repute on either side of politics, be his opinions what they may, that this is not a country in which the will of the population of this country is to regulate the affairs of the country. That, of course, is the common doctrine, not only now, but it has always been so within the lifetime and public experience of every man whom now I am addressing. The right hon. Gentleman appeared to attach so much weight, not to the arguments that may be urged for or against this Bill, as to the popular support which he thinks he has got outside in the last two elections.
Let me just ask the House in the light of their own experience to consider what actually occurred on those two occasions. I say two things: In the first place, that the issue was not the simple issue that the right hon. Gentleman tells us, and it was not that simple issue for many reasons. In the first place, it was not that simple issue because in the first of the elections that were held it was the Budget of 1909, and the merits and demerits of Tariff Reform and of cheap food and of dear food which affected, and profoundly affected, the minds of the ordinary English and Scottish electors, while the minds of the Irish electorate, whether in Ireland or in this country, belonging to the school of thought of hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway, were moved on both those occasions, not by love of the Budget, because they hated the Budget, but by a clear perception of promises of hon. Gentlemen below the Gangway, made over and over again and in every possible form, that it was through voting for hon. Gentlemen opposite that they were likely to obtain that change in the Constitution, that Home Rule which they desired; and one of the great difficulties we all found was to make it possible for different members of an electorate which had these different confusing issues before them to take the whole picture of things into their view at the same time, and not to concentrate their attention on that particular part of the picture which happened to 1702 interest them, and on that part of the picture alone, in order to determine the vote which they gave. It really is grotesque for the right hon. Gentleman to say that the decision of the country at the last two elections was a clear and plain decision that we should have this Bill. It was not so.
Was it on the provisions of this Bill that the propagandists of the Government went from cottage to cottage, talking in the constituencies, as to the results of Tariff Reform upon the price of bread? I wonder which argument hon. Gentlemen would have given up? Would they have consented to absolute silence upon the dear food cry, and have that put altogether on one side and devoted themselves to the hereditary principle. Which of these stools would they have preferred to stand on? Which do they think the electorate would have thought most about? The right hon. Gentleman has told us that never was there a Bill which went up to the House of Lords better approved of by the constituencies. If by that he means that at the last two elections that the people had clearly this issue and in the main only this issue before them, that is a complete and absolute travesty of the notorious facts of the situation, and if hon. Gentlemen opposite—those who presumably were locally reported and those who were not locally reported, but who worked for them in the constituencies—had been confined to saying that the one great thing which the Government are going to do is to bring in a Bill which will enable the majority of the House of Commons to disestablish the Church and bring in Home Rule and everything which a particular section may desire, without the people being consulted, if on that text, and that text alone, they were allowed to preach, I think that the Liberal party, already in a minority, would not, even with the help of their allies, from whom they most dissent, be able to command a Parliamentary majority. The issue has been a mixed one, and this Bill is going to be carried to a Third Reading by a mixed majority, and the motives of the majority in voting for what they are voting for are as various as the parts of the House in which they sit.
The right hon. Gentleman advanced a preposterous hypothesis, that this House in the first two years of its existence always represents the popular view, or that for all legislative purposes it may be taken to represent the popular view. He said he thought the solitary case on the other side was the election in 1900, and he went 1703 through the familiar misrepresentation in which he described us as having told the people of this country that we were going to take no legislation of importance. I am not going to take the trouble to refer to my own election speeches or addresses, which will give ample contradiction to that amazing statement, but I happen to recollect that—I think it was in the very first Queen's Speech that was read in this House and debated after the election of 1900—the then Leader of the Opposition (Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman) complained of the meagreness of the legislative programme which the Government of that day put before the House for their acceptance. But no more of that; after all it was only a parenthesis in the general course of the right hon. Gentleman's speech to which I should not have referred except that I had become rather wearied of a constant repetition, which, fostered in the imagination, becomes accepted as general history. My complaint, or one of my complaints against this Bill, or one of the points I should like to bring to the minds of the people who are going to vote for this Bill, is the variety of motives by which it is supported. I am not going to dwell upon the position of Gentlemen below the Gangway. They want it because they think it will give them Home Rule. But I want to speak to hon. Gentlemen opposite, and particularly to those who agree with the Prime Minister and the Government that a strong Second Chamber is necessary in order that the settled will of the people, and the settled will of the people alone, may rule in this country—I want to compare their doctrine with one which was advocated by the Leader of the Labour party the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald) in a very interesting speech. He said that everybody knows proposed legislation becomes ripe at a particular moment, and, immediately that particular moment passes, from being ripe it becomes rotten; it loses the happy value which at one transient moment it possessed, and, unless this House is able to seize that moment it puts the legislations at great disadvantage, and you will miss an opportunity which will not again recur. I have not put it in such good language as the hon. Gentleman used, but I think I have given the substance of what he said.
I think it is an admirable statement of a view from which I profoundly dissent, and I think that everybody who believes in a Second Chamber must dissent also. What 1704 does the hon. Gentleman mean? He could only have meant that there are moments when you get a tide of popular enthusiasm moving onwards. It has its ebb and its flow, and, if you do not catch it in the heated moment of enthusiasm, then your Bill will probably never become law at all. I rather think in such cases a little caution is desirable. I am not sure that with measures which go forward with this rush and enthusiasm at the time of a heated General Election, which are rushed through this House not merely by the machinery controlled by a powerful Government, but with the enthusiastic support of Gentlemen who have come straight from the heated oratory of the platform, a little thought is not desirable; I am not sure that the moment which the hon. Gentleman thinks the right moment, the exact and happy instant, the occasion which should be taken, is the moment at which this House should devote itself to great fundamental changes. On the contrary, I believe that if you are dealing with a great democracy, with a great history, there must be some machinery by which there shall be given time to consider the decision to be arrived at. There must be some machinery, and the Second Chamber is the only machinery, or the Referendum, or the two in combination is the only machinery by which wou can give that opportunity. I am quite aware that the Government say they give that opportunity by these two or three years' delay. It has always seemed to me that this part of the Government's scheme was nothing else than the principle of the Referendum applied with extraordinary clumsiness and inexpediency. What is the theory underlying this period of two or three years' delay? It is, according to the Government, that there may be an opportunity for the people, and for the Members of this House, in contact with the people in their constituencies, to reconsider the judgment at which they so hastily arrived in the first or second year after they were returned to this House.
If they found that the current of popular feeling was running against them, if the measure was plainly distasteful to the majority of their constituents, why then the Government seem to think there would be a good opportunity given for the Ministry of the day to retire from their position and to drop the Bill, which the House of Lords, or the Second Chamber, had wisely deferred, and on which the people, when they had time to think, would honestly express their opinion. That is a very bad 1705 form of Referendum. I say bad, because it is an indirect and a mixed form in which no very clear issue is presented to the people, and in which no clear instrument for the people to express their opinion is provided. Let us consider for one moment how the plan will work. The Government bring forward a Bill, let us say for illustration, a Home Rule Bill. The more it is considered the less it is liked, because it appears that undue burdens are laid on the tax-payers of England and Scotland, and because it introduced dangers of a kind for which no compensation is found, and for which no safeguard is provided. It is forced through this House, and the Upper House rejects it. Let us suppose the Bill is profoundly unpopular, let us suppose that if it were sent to a Referendum, it would be rejected unanimously. Let us suppose it is as much hated by the constituencies of this country as were the two previous Home Rule Bills. How is that public opinion to work under your two years' delay? Is the controversy to go on? We know exactly the sort of thing that would go on. Men of moderate opinion who never much liked Home Rule, would go to the Whips and talk to Ministers in the Lobby. They would say that this was not a very satisfactory measure. A Member might say: "I have got letters from my constituents, important supporters of mine for many years, who say that they look with great doubt upon this, and they believe it will do a great deal of harm to the party." There will be petitions, a great deal of public speaking, letters to the papers, and all the ordinary and familiar machinery will be set to work without any power of bringing out a clear and definite issue. There will be no opportunity given to the people, whom you are in this unsatisfactory fashion endeavouring to consult during these two years, to express their views.
Let us suppose that you have got to the end of your second or third year, and you have again to pass a Bill or abandon it. If it is passed it again goes to the House of Lords, and the measure becomes law, or, if it is not passed on the other hand, it is abandoned. Now what are the Government going to do? We hear some of them tell us that the humiliation of bringing in a Bill which is rejected on a Referendum, is a thing after which no self-respecting Government could hold office. I never could understand that view; I do not believe in it; I do not think it is the 1706 way it is worked in other countries, and I do not think it is the way it will work in this country. At all events, I should have thought that the humiliation of forcing the Bill through this House twice, and the idea of dropping it then would be far more humiliating to a self-respecting Government, and would require resignation in the one case still more than in the other. But I believe the Government would not drop the Bill. I believe what would happen would be just the reverse. The mere fact that the supporters of the Government felt with increasing insistence that the Bill was excessively unpopular would make them say, "For heaven's sake, let us get this measure out of the way. The country has a short memory; they will forgive you perhaps for having passed it, but if you ask them whether it shall be passed or not, or if it is still in the balance when you have got to go to a General Election again, it will weaken the Government and be fatal to the whole party." The fact that the wire-pullers, and those with party mandates, the important chairmen in the constituencies, all felt that the Bill is hated, is not a reason for dropping it, as it ought to be if this Parliament Bill is really to be a protection against hasty legislation; I believe, on the contrary, that it would be a conclusive reason to those who are animated by what is, after all, and must be evident to every man in this House, the consideration of the advantage of his party, for forcing the Bill through a third time. I am assuming that it is important for that procedure that you should have a clear issue, not a confused issue, as at the last election or the preceding election, not an issue confused by Tariff Reform or dear food and all the rest of it. A clear-cut issue, not as between parties, not as between rival candidates for office, but as between the merits or demerit s in the eyes of the people of this country of a Bill which so nearly affects the interests of the country.
That really is the fatal defect of this Bill, or on e of the fatal defects. It bases the Bill, in my judgment, entirely on undemocratic methods. I do not believe there is any serious statesman who has thought over the problems, who has looked to, what is going on in other countries, countries speaking our own speech, or in other advanced and civilised communities on the Continent—I do not think there is any man who has taken that survey of the present position of democracy who does not know in his heart that this form of Government, as all forms of government, are open 1707 to many dangers, to many abuses, which will require all the public spirit and statesmanship of the leaders of thought to prevent the democracy of the future from falling a prey to the insidious influences which have done so much to degrade it in the eyes of thinking men in many countries all over the world. One of the great faults of democracy is that it falls foul of its own handiwork. It elects us to this Chamber, it abuses us, and derides us very often for the way in which we are doing its work. There are subtle modes of modern corruption more dangerous, I think, than the cruder forms of corruption which have happily long been expelled from the body politic of this country—methods which cannot be always avoided, and which, undoubtedly, play most serious havoc elsewhere. I believe that one of our main duties in this House is to see that the organ of public opinion, through which the democracy acts, which is not this Chamber alone, but Parliament, shall be as perfectly adapted to its purposes as you can make it. There cannot be a greater or more responsible task, and yet, by the avowal of the Prime Minister, that is the task which he proposes to give to a Single Chamber, although he is loud in his professions of belief that the two-Chamber system is the only tolerable permanent form under which a free country can live. How can you reconcile those two utterly inconsistent propositions? How is it possible to say that a Constitution in the making can properly be made by one uncontrolled Single Chamber, but that a Constitution when made ought to contain two Chambers? That is really a preposterous and absurd doctrine, and to tell me that the people of this country had that proposal clearly in their minds when they gave the verdict, of which the right hon. Gentleman is so proud, is really to tell me that the people of this country showed themselves more illogical and irresponsible than I believe anybody seriously supposes. I am perfectly certain that at neither of the recent elections did they desire anything so ridiculous as to say that., while in the long run you must have two Chambers, that it is quite sufficient to have one Chamber when you are deciding what the House of Lords is to do, and what the ultimate relations between the two Chambers is to be, and whether you are to have Home Rule, and whether you are to have Disestablishment or new licensing laws, 1708 and all the rest. Those are the very questions on which you want two Chambers.
Hon. Members below the Gangway are not in any way inconsistent. They say: "We only want one Chamber to deal with the present crisis because we never want more than one." But the right hon. Gentlemen opposite and hon. Gentlemen behind them do not hold those views. They agree with the majority of mankind, with the majority of those who have practised these free institutions, with the authors of the Preamble, that there ought to be a Second Chamber. How can they seriously come forward and in this House tell us, when of course, as the Prime Minister has pointed out, not only honour but expediency requires us some clay to have two Chambers, "to give us a blessed interval of only one," an interval in which with only one Chamber they shall regulate what the future Constitution shall be, and with only one Chamber shall decide whether the United Kingdom is to be split up into its constituent atoms or to remain still as it is. The creed now put forward by the Prime Minister is indefensible, and has never been defended. The only defence he has attempted to-night is the defence that bad as the Bill may be the people twice approved of it. I wholly deny that the people of this country have ever thoroughly realized that this measure of the Government does not merely alter the relations between the two Houses, but that it is a deliberate attempt on the part of one section of this House, using the transient power which the present distribution of parties gives to it., to force upon the Liberal, Labour, Unionist Members a Constitution and future policy of which none of those groups, except perhaps the Labour Members, wholly and thoroughly approve.
It is a log-rolling solution of the great constitutional issue, neither founded on the experience of this country, nor founded on the experience of other countries, nor approved, as I believe, by the majority of the constituencies now at this moment, and forced through this House by the unnatural union of men who are frankly in disaccord upon things so fundamental as the financial policy by which this country should be governed, but who are prepared to sink all differences in the common object of destroying the immemorial two-Chamber system under which we have lived, for such a time, at all events, as may give each separate section the power of 1709 carrying out the particular project which lies nearest to its heart. That is not statesmanship. Whether it will or will not in the future succeed as a political device, and give to hon. Gentlemen and right hon. Gentlemen opposite all that meed of popular favour which they look for, of that I know nothing. Whether the Government are on the rising tide of popularity, or whether they are losing, I do not profess to give an opinion, but of this I am quite certain, that when the transaction in which the right hon. Gentleman has played a leading part comes to be surveyed in the impartial light of the future, when we look back upon what has been done and how it has been done, when we look back upon the arguments by which it has been supported, and the principles on which it is professedly based, then I believe it will be thought that for once the traditional common sense and moderation of this country deserted it, and that in a moment of folly they abandoned for party and transient reasons the permanent guardianship of that two-Chamber Constitution which was the pride of our fathers, which we have given to every free country of the world, and which we, having given it to others, are ourselves now going to abandon.
§ Mr. ELLIS GRIFFITH
I am sure we have all listened with great interest to the speech of the right hon. Gentleman. I am fortunate enough to have in my possession some extracts from the right hon. Gentleman's speeches at the General Election. As I understand, his contention is that this Parliament Bill was not before the electors in December, 1910. I think that his silence gives assent to the proposition as I put it.
§ Mr. ELLIS GRIFFITH
The point is whether, if ever there was a mandate, we have a mandate in support of this Bill. I understand from the right hon. Gentleman that he contends that this Bill was not before the country in that sense. In the election address of the right hon. Gentleman, which was a document, I suppose, prepared with some care for the electorate of the City of London, lie stated:—Behind the Single Chamber conspiracy—That is this Bill, and nothing else—lurks Socialism and Home Rule.Those are the three questions on which he said that the people were declaring their opinion. May I say quite respectfully to 1710 the House that the right hon. Gentleman opposite cannot say that we are putting certain things before the country and then deny that they were before the country. By a doctrine of estoppel they cannot have it both ways, they cannot frighten people with the Single-Chamber conspiracy and Home Rule and then say they were not before the country at all. I contend it is dishonest to say so. I think it is a dishonest argument in the very best sense of the word for the right hon. Gentleman to denounce us in one breath before the electorate and say we are in favour of certain proposals and then to tell us that the country did not pronounce upon them. May I remind the right hon. Gentleman of a speech which he delivered at Reading on 1st December in which he said:—There are three great problems, all of them thrown down before the constituencies of this country at the present time.Does not that mean that the constituencies of this country were invited to pronounce an opinion on those three problems? The right hon. Gentleman continuing, said:—The third question is Home Rule. I claim and ask for the support of every man who agrees with me about Home Rule.
§ Mr. ELLIS GRIFFITH
That was at Reading, and the Attorney-General was returned, although the right hon. Gentleman claimed the support of every man who agreed with him about Home Rule and who agreed with him about the great Constitutional issue.Even if he has doubts upon that other part of my political creed winch deals with the question of fiscal reform.The right hon. Gentleman very wisely allows doubt about his fiscal reform policy.
The hon. Gentleman is making a great many points, but is it not clear that those speeches govern more than one issue?
§ Mr. ELLIS GRIFFITH
Does the right hon. Gentleman say that the country does not pronounce an opinion except on one question. That really means, if there is anything in the right hon. Gentleman's contention, that we cannot settle any problem of this country without a General Election upon that particular problem. I have heard of one man one vote, but I have never heard of one General Election one problem; it is impossible. The right hon. Gentleman's memory is at fault as to what happened in 1900. He talked about the Queen's Speech. It is all very well to talk about the Queen's Speech, but that 1711 was after the election. What we complain of is what we said before the election. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain) at that time made a special appeal to the Nonconformists of this country. He said: "You can now vote safely for the Tories, because it is the question of the war and carrying it to a conclusion, and you can do so quite safely to your principles as Nonconformists." Our complaint is that the moment you came in upon those promises and upon those pretences you turned your attention to matters that did have to do with Nonconformists, and violated the pledges which you gave. I had the pleasure of reading the speech delivered by the right hon. Gentleman to the meeting of the knights, dames, and assistants of the Primrose League on Friday last. As I understand, he said there were two principles on which we were agreed. The first principle was that there should be two Chambers. So be it. The second was that the people should be the final arbiters. "We are all agreed," he said, upon those two questions, and then he invited a peace conference, or compromise, to which we are accustomed in this House to-day.
May I very respectfully say to hon. Members opposite that you must remember that two General Elections have gone against you, and that you do not meet us on equal terms with regard to compromise and conference now. You could have met us be fore the General Election, but now that the verdict has gone for the plaintiff it is as if the defendant said, "May I be allowed to settle this case? "We are successful in this electoral litigation, and it is not for you to dictate terms to us; it is for us to consider whether any arrangement is possible at the present moment. The right hon. Gentleman in his flight of oratory on Friday before the other flight said that we were agreed on those two points, that there should be two Chambers, and that the people should be the final arbiters. I ask him, quite respectfully, whether he does not agree with us in our two further opinions—first, that the Liberals should have an equal chance with the Tories of passing their legislation through the House of Lords. Does he agree to that? I asked again whether the right hon. Gentleman agrees with us in our contention that we Liberals should have the same chance, as good a chance or as bad a chance, as the ease may me, of passing our legislation 1712 through the House of Lords as the Conservatives have? I take the right hon. Gentleman's silence to mean non-assent. Does he agree that tire House of Commons should be predominant as against the Second Chamber?
§ Mr. ELLIS GRIFFITH
That brings into darker outline his silence concerning whether we should have an equal chance or not. The moment I put a question that can be answered in the affirmative, the right hon. Gentleman answers it promptly; but to our question whether he agrees that we should have an equal chance, he turns a deaf ear. However, there is still time for repentance. These are our contentions. We may be right or we may be wrong. We say that we ought to have as good a chance as the Conservatives have, and that the House of Commons should be predominant.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
What does the hon. Gentleman mean by an equal chance Does he mean an equal chance for the same sort of legislation?
§ Mr. ELLIS GRIFFITH
The same kind of legislation? There is no same kind of legislation for Liberals. What did the right hon. Gentleman say just now? He said, "Beware of the people in a moment of enthusiasm; let them have time to cool down." I think he said, with a mixture of metaphor very unusual with him, "Beware of the people when the tide is coming in." That is the difference between us and you. We believe in enthusiasm; you believe in reaction. We believe in the tide that comes in; you believe in the tide that goes out. That is the fallacy at the root of your contention in this matter. You think that there ought to be no check on reaction. The Noble Lord, in a speech some time ago, said: "There is one great argument against the House of Lords." Does he remember it? I daresay not. There is one argument against the House of Lords; there may be more. There is at any rate one—the Noble Lord is my authority for saying so—namely, that it does not afford a sufficient check on Conservative legislation. The House of Lords is too Liberal for the Noble Lord. We say, on the other hand, that there is just as much clanger in reaction as in enthusiasm? There is just as much danger in going too slow as in going too fast. There is as much danger in denying the people their rights as in giving them, perhaps, more quickly than hon. Gentlemen opposite believe they 1713 should be given. If these principles are accepted, if this House is to be predominant, as the right hon. Gentleman has said more than once, will anyone on that side tell me of any plan before the House of Commons except our plan for bringing that about? Assume a conflict between the House of Commons and the House of Lords. One of them must prevail. Under our present system we know which prevails. The House of Lords always prevails. The Noble Lord will remember that between 1895 and 1906 all the surprise measures of the Conservative party were passed. He will remember also that our expected measures in the main between 1906 and 1910 were mutilated or rejected: That is our history, we were powerless. I think the Liberal party owes it to its self-respect to do something.
What way is there? The right hon. Gentleman says Referendum and Joint Sessions. I am not certain that I understood aright the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for the Walton Division (Mr. F. E. Smith). Are the party opposite willing to take this Parliament Bill if the Referendum be drafted on to it? If not, I do not follow the hon. and learned Member's point. Assuming there is a conflict between the House of Commons and the House of Lords, is there any way of securing our ascendancy and superiority except by some such Bill as this? Assuming that such a conflict takes place and that one House or the other must prevail, you must by your legislation say that the House of Commons shall prevail. With regard to the Referendum and Joint Sessions, the Referendum is a weapon against us and not against you, because there will never be a conflict with the Second Chamber when you are in a majority. Joint Sessions also is a weapon against us. Talk about an equal chance; do we under this Bill get an equal chance with you? We are delayed for three Sessions or two years, whereas you pass your measures through the House of Lords straightaway. This Bill stands as the only remedy for the malady of the body politic. The hon. Member for the Walton Division talked about democratic psychology. I do not know quite what he meant. The only solution I know for the present conflict between the two Houses is contained in this Bill. The only question to be argued is whether or not there are sufficient safeguards. I submit that there are. I am glad that right hon. Gentlemen opposite do not take the severe view of the Bill that they did. The Leader of the Opposition 1714 used to talk about it as a revolution. We are all indebted to him for the courtesy with which he has conducted the "revolution" on that side of the House. I am perfectly sure that if ever there was a Bill before the people this was that Bill. It was before them in December, 1910, it was before them in its main lines in January, 1910, and to those twice repeated and confirmed verdict the House of Commons ought to pay allegiance. I am sure that when the Third Reading is passed, it would have the volume of public opinion of this country in its favour.
§ Mr. BOTTOMLEY
I have listened with due respect to the speech of the hon. and learned Member (Mr. Ellis Griffith), but he will forgive me for saying that in my opinion it was characterised by that narrow point of view which characterises most of the speeches of members of his profession, with one or two conspicuous exceptions, when dealing with political problems. It was "party, party, party." The hon. Member said: "We are the successful plaintiffs in the electoral litigation." I answer in the language of his own profession, whoever heard of a successful plaintiff volunteering a stay of execution for two years? Any plaintiff who agrees to a stay of execution admits that he is rather doubtful as to holding the verdict he has obtained. I suppose that within two or three hours from now hon. Members on this side will be cheering themselves hoarse at the passage of this measure. They will be congratulating themselves on the fact that it has saved the Empire and, incidentally, their party and their seats. I have no doubt that they will sleep peacefully in the serene conviction that by a few strokes of the pen, and the assistance of an accidental, artificial, and transitory majority, they have annihilated the unwritten Constitution of our country, and reduced the mother of Parliaments to a position of less, dignity and independence than that enjoyed by the youngest of her offspring. I find neither satisfaction nor enthusiasm in the achievement.
What is the Bill before the House? Wet first propose to put into statutory form that which by common consent, leaving technical considerations aside, has been, with few exceptions, the constitutional practice for ages past. We say—and there is general assent to the proposition—that this so-called popularly elected assembly should be supreme in matters of finance. Even that claim is based upon two pre-supposed facts which are falla- 1715 cies. The first fallacy is that we are really and truly a representative assembly. The second is that we really and truly possess control over the finance of the nation. When I recollect that we were elected at the last General Election-by about five million votes out of an adult male population of something approximating to fifteen millions, when I think of the anomalies of our electoral system, the differences in our constituencies, and the practical eclipse of one section of opinion in Scotland and Wales, I am not impressed by our claim to be a truly representative assembly. When I reflect also that every year—it has been so since I have been in the House of Comons at any rate—something like £50,000,000 is voted without any discussion or examination at all, and that we are still in the air with regard to appointing a committee on Estimates, I think there is a certain incongruity in our claim to be supreme and unchecked in matters of finance.
It was the old custom when granting Supplies for the people to meet the King under a tree, and make a bargain. They never granted Supplies without getting something in return. The only thing we get, if we give a few hours to the subject, is that we are told we may go home. The control of this House over finance is a fiction just as its alleged representative capacity is an exaggeration. The other provision in the Bill, which is of a less argumentative character, is one limiting the duration of Parliament. As far as that is concerned, there is no particular conflict of, opinion, as far as I know. It has been rare, indeed, in recent times that any Parliament has endured longer than the period proposed under this provision.
I come to what is really the main operative provision of the Bill, upon which the whole of the discussion centres. According to my poor lights, the more I study the provisions of Clause 2 the more I picture to myself what must inevitably happen under the working of that Clause, the more grotesque am I driven to the conclusion it is, as an effective piece of legislative machinery. I almost think it might have been extracted from a chapter in the "Comic History of England." Apart from the fact that unless it is accepted by the other House it can only become law by the grotesque process, I must not say of raising people to the peerage, but of lowering cart-loads of Radicals down to the peerage. [An HON. MEMBER: "Hear, hear.") I hope that the 1716 hon. Member who cheers will be willing to be one of the load. When I reflect upon that, that alone makes me hesitate to regard this Clause seriously. I came into the House the other day for the express purpose of listening to a discussion upon an Amendment on Report to omit this Clause from the Bill. I thought: "Here will be an opportunity of hearing in crystalised form the arguments for and against the Clause." Seeing we were working under the guillotine Resolution, I was quite prepared to find one or two more independent spirits on this side of the House at least determined to break the conspiracy of silence and enlighten us as to their views. A day or two before that, on an Amendment for Joint Sessions, the Postmaster-General, whom I like to see in his place, commented upon the difficulty there would be in giving the proportionate representation in a Joint Session to what lie referred to as "the independent party." He said, that in order to fulfil that, a certain undemocratic process would have to be gone through. This he attempted to associate with the name of his great and distinguished, and, to my mind, very estimable, Shakespearian progenitor, Mr. Shylock.
As I listened to the Debate on the Motion to exclude this Clause, I came to the conclusion that perhaps the necessity for that operation might disappear. There were about half a dozen or so of Members on this side of the House who for the first time in discussion in the recent history of this Debate enlightened the House. First there was the hon. Gentleman the Member for Merthyr Tydvil, the ardent young missionary Member for Merthyr Tydvil, not the more venerable representative who is more especially associated with the constituency. I made a note of the observations made by almost every Member on this side.
§ Mr. BOTTOMLEY
I am glad to hear that, because it will clearly represent the ultimate and considered maturity of mind of the hon. Member on this Bill. Let me remind him of his contribution to the discussion:—Personally, I regard Clause 2 as giving to the Second Chamber tremendous power, a power under which I am very much afraid very large measures that we are anxious to see carried during this Parliament may not he carried after all. I am not so sure that the House of Lords under the Parliament Bill will not become a much more powerful body than it ever was before.That was the contribution of support to the Government which the hon. Gentle- 1717 man the Member for Merthyr Tydvil favoured the House with. Then there was the hon. Gentleman the Member for Stafford. Speaking to assist the Government to answer the arguments upon the other side, he said:—I wondered while this Debate was going forward whether we were not on both sides a bit too much excited over this Bill. My strong opinion, for what it is worth, is that the Bib will neither be as had a thing as right hon. Gentlemen and hon. Gentlemen opposite think, nor as good a thing as some of us on this side of the House, in our very sanguine moments, have been thinking. I am not at all sure that it will not be the bitter experience of Liberal Governments in the future to find, under this very dangerous Bill, whatever form the House of Lords may in the future have, the Lords wielding their powers and acting in such a way as to bring to ruin not a few of our more cherished measures.At the same time, said this distressed supporter of the Government, something must be done. That was the measure of support given by the second Liberal Member. Then came the third—the hon. Gentleman the Member for Bedford. He explained that neither on one side nor the other had there been any real vitality in the Debate — nothing but "damnable iteration." That was his contribution. Then came the hon. Member for Lambeth, another ardent supporter of the Government. He said:—I am so much at heart a Tory myself, that I care nothing about the Party and floating about the Government.He went on to say that he quite agrees that we ought all to be more than party men. He expressed his dislike at the prospect of Liberal peers changing their politics as soon as they got to the House of Lords.
That was the total contribution of hon. Members on this side. I could not help thinking how much better it would have been if the Whips had kept them muzzled. But they and I as the independent party in this House regard this Bill as giving infinitely increased powers to the House of Lords, with the effect of defeating the passage of those great democratic measures upon which we have set our heart. Another remarkable feature in this Debate was that the Chancellor of the Duchy, who was in charge of the House, actually got up and corrected an hon. Member opposite, who said that this Bill was to operate in three Sessions, not necessarily in the same Parliament. The right hon. Gentleman corrected himself afterwards, but it showed that lie did not even know the provisions of his own Bill. The same afternoon the Postmaster-General made his début rather in the capacity of a humorist. I take him out of the stained-glass window I put him in on a previous occasion. The 1718 right hon. Gentleman, pressed by the hon. Member from Mile End, I think it was, as to the intentions of the Government in regard to the Preamble when the other part of the Bill had become law, indulged in the hideous pun of Solvitur "pre" ambulando. He never gave a definition of it. I suppose just as the accepted definition of Solvitur ambulando is "to solve things by experiment as you go along," that the solution of Solvitur "pre" ambulandois "Everything is cut and dried before you begin." Therefore, there was never any intention of giving any reality to this Preamble.
I recall a statement made by, I must not say the Leader of the Labour party, but the Leader of the Labour leaders, referred to by the right lion. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, when he said that legislation was like grain: it had to be taken when ripe. That is rather the key-note of my criticism of this Clause. Throughout these Debates Minister after Minister has been saying that much of this legislation is not only ripe, but over-ripe. I want to know what Parliamentary phrase adequately describes the putridity of legislation after it has been preserved in the murky liquid of party controversy for two or three years, even if in the end it becomes nominally the law of the and? I think a stale measure of Parliament is like a stale measure of beer: "None so thirsty that he would touch it!" I feel myself—and I say it in all seriousness—there is no measure of first-class importance which can stand the gauntlet of Clause 2. Hon. Members opposite from Ireland see in this Bill, I understand, a realisation of their hopes for Irish Home Rule. I was misreported when I last intervened in this Debate as expressing hostility to that proposal. I have always been a genuine believer in a full and generous measure of Local Government for Ireland, and it is because I am, because I am satisfied that no measure of Home Rule, or of anything else of any importance, can survive two or three years of suspended animation that I oppose this Clause. The Clause is going elsewhere, and it can only become operative by the creation of a large number of new Peers. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why?"] Because that is the only way known to the party system of carrying measures into law when you are in the minority. I go back to the lament of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Lambeth as to the danger of the new Peers changing their politics. You cannot guarantee that they will not. 1719 I do not think the Law and Guarantee Trust Society would insure one of them! Therefore you bring into play the eternal contest between the two parties for purely mechanical purposes.
What is the true mystery of these reform proposals? The Attorney-General, when he was winding up the Debate on the Second Reading, said:—We adhere to the proposals of reform, but they cannot be brought immediately into effect.He did not tell us why. Nor has any Minister of the Crown ever told us why. The Prime Minister a few moments ago said the problem was "a difficult and complex one." So, I suppose, is Invalidity Insurance, and the Budget. But I have never heard a Liberal Minister in the present Government say for that reason he could not go on. Why cannot we have the reform proposals? The Veto is not to come into operation for two or three years. Why cannot we have the reform proposals and be discussing them during that period of the operation of the Veto? The Prime Minister on the Second Reading said, rather differently, I think, from what he said to-day:—We adhere to these proposals, but they cannot he taken immediately. They are to be postponed until after the operative part of the Bill becomes law.So far as this House is concerned, the operative part of the Bill becomes law tonight. Why not have the reform proposals tabled to-morrow morning? The Leader of the Labour leaders made an extraordinary statement this afternoon. He seems to know—and I am not surprised at it—more about the Government's intentions than some of the Ministers who have spoken. He said:—The intention of the Government is to keep the reform proposals in the background until we see how the present Second Chamber works after the Veto comes into operation.If that is so, it is quite contrary to everything else we have been told. It means that the Government propose to postpone reform and see how we can get on after we have clipped the powers of the House of Lords.
§ Mr. BOTTOMLEY
The hon. Gentleman the Member for Stoke says it is a very good policy. He is an out and out supporter in this matter, if not in all matters, of the Government. It is said that this Bill comes before the House hall-marked with the mandate of the constituencies. 1720 Even if it were so, I do not believe in depriving ourselves of the right to examine and scrutinise it. As I listened to the Prime Minister this afternoon, when he pointed out how, after many resolutions and discussions, this Bill, as it stands, was submitted to the constituencies and passed, I wondered when we got back here why we went into Committee about it, why we had all this rigmarole of Parliamentary procedure, if the Bill was already passed, ready-made for us to put on the Statute Book? Why did not the Government come with a resolution to suspend or abolish the Committee and Report stages of this Bill? Why did they not say: "The country have ordered it, and we have no right to exercise any judgment upon it." Is it really true that the Bill was before the constituencies? What Member on this side took the Bill down with him to his constituency? What Member on this side ever read from the Bill an address to his constituencies. [HON. MEMBERS: "Dozens," and "A great many."] Hon. Members say "Dozens," and "A great many." I do not think there is really one Member of the House who can say he took this Bill Clause by Clause and read it to his constituents, and asked for a mandate. An extraordinary contribution was made the other day which has not received enough attention. One hon. Member said that he looked through the election addresses of all the Cabinet Ministers, and he could only find one Cabinet Minister who made reference to it at all, and that was the Chief Secretary for Ireland. And the Chief Secretary for Ireland said this:—It is the work of the representatives of the people in the House of Commons to create a Second Chamber in place of the House of Lords. That is the great question of interest dominating the election.The Chief Secretary for Ireland expressed the opinion that the creation of a new Second Chamber was the dominating issue of the election. What, then, becomes of the argument that the constituencies consented to the general and indefinite postponement of the Preamble? It must be common ground that almost without exception the line we took in our constituencies was this. We said that the House of Lords as at present constituted is a complete and effete anachronism, and it must go. We talked about the hereditary principle and the ludicrous mottoes and crests of the Lords, and we talked about the acreage of their lands, and the origin of their titles, and we talked very little indeed about anything that would justify us in postponing the Preamble.
1721 But there is another aspect of this matter, and I press it upon hon. Members upon this side. I will not emulate the example of the hon. Member who preceded me; it is irregular, and leads to waste of time. Whatever you may say about Home Rule having been before the constituencies, or any other question, does the House realise this: that under this measure—and as a democrat I protest against it—it is not only possible, but intended, and expressed to the House by responsible Ministers—I do not use the phrase offensively—to smuggle through certain measures which have been before Parliament in recent years and have been defeated, and on which the Government pledge themselves to stake their existence, but on which they dare not appeal to the people again. Take the Licensing Bill. We are going to have another Licensing Bill. Would the Government go to the country if the Licensing Bill were defeated by the Lords? We are to have another Education Bill. Can the Government pass an Education Bill, even in this House. You talk about enthusiasm of Irish Members for Home Rule, but if I know anything at all their enthusiasm for the control of their religious schools is greater even than for Home Rule, and the Government could not pass an Education Bill in this House, and will not be able to pass it unless, as the result of some sordid bargain, which I do not think hon. Members for Ireland will agree to. That being the possibility under this Bill, I say it is not honest to the constituencies and without using strong language, I say that such action savours a little of political trickery.
I have finished my criticism. I do not believe it is the sole duty of a Member of Parliament to criticism. We ought also to be constructive. I ask myself what does sane statesmanship dictate in this crisis? I say it is this, that both the House of Lords and the House of Commons should be brought more into touch with the representative principle and with the spirit of the times. I say Clause 1 contains what everybody is now prepared to agree to. What does it matter that the House of Lords has at last acknowledged a principle as to which they at one time fought. They have agreed to it now, and what should practical statesmanship do? Pass Clause 1, as to which there should be no discussion, and you then achieve one of the great things you have been striving for in regard to finance. Having passed Clause 1, which you can do with general consent, and obviously with the consent of another 1722 place, then you should produce a really comprehensive measure for the reconstitution of both Houses of Parliament and their relation to each other, and appoint some representative Joint Committee to sift the outlines of the measure so that this House shall be properly representative of the people so that it shall regain its lost control over finance and the Executive of the country, and so that the private Member shall cease to be the mere automaton and automatic voting machine he is at the present time. And so that the other House should be a real, genuine Senate, the Constitution of which would entitle it to the respect of every citizen in the realm when it happened to differ with the views and opinions of this assembly.
These are roughly my views of what I think should be done in this crisis. Let us not blink the fact, for it is certain this Bill is only going through as the result of some give and take, some concession. We may talk high-flown oratorical claptrap to our Constituencies, do not let us practice it upon each other. It is political cant to contend that one side of this House is the repository of all political righteousness, and the other side, of all political infamy; that one side is all for the Empire and the other against it. To pretend this measure has the remotest chance of passing into law as it stands may please the party prejudices of one side; but it is not, political sagacity. To talk about some express guarantees which must not be mentioned publicly in this House, is absolutely unnecessary nervousness and nonsense. It is simply because we know the stupendous grotesqueness of the proposition is so very great that we cannot contemplate it. We know that there must be compromise and concession upon this Bill, and therefore we say take that which you can get without trouble which is compromise. Take Clause 1 and Clause 5 for the shortening of Parliament, and after conference and discussion, then enter upon a re-constitution of the two Houses of Parliament, and do not think less of the enduring effects of your revolution because it will be peaceful and because it will be the result of that give-and-take policy and that genius for accommodation and compromise which has been the secret of the political development of this country, and which is the most valuable instrument in the public life and political character of the people of England. Looking at things generally, that is the view I take so far as this Parliament Bill is concerned, even if it has the 1723 effect of bringing the hon. and learned Member for Anglesey (Mr. Ellis Griffith) again into my Constituency to point out the danger of my being its Member.
§ Mr. ELLIS GRIFFITH
I beg the hon. Gentleman's pardon. I never spoke of him and I never referred to him in any way.
§ Mr. BOTTOMLEY
I was not proposing to make a peroration, and, therefore, I am not disconcerted by the interruption. But even if the hon. and learned Gentleman comes to my constituency to support a Gentleman who declares that I have tried to impose upon the democratic people that will not deter me, and I shall vote against the Third Reading of this Bill notwithstanding that I am heartily in favour of Clauses 1 and 5, but because I regard it as an obstacle and not a help to democratic legislation, and because I regard it as absolutely unworkable, ludicrously incomplete, and I am bound to say eminently insincere.
§ Mr. BUTCHER
The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down, towards the close of a very interesting speech made what seemed to me a very reasonable and tactful proposal for settling this constitutional question, and for that reason it seemed to me to offer a very remarkable contrast to the anomalous and in many respects a grotesque proposal in this Bill. And the reason why that contrast exists is in large measure due to the fact that the hon. Member who has just spoken is independent of the Government, while the Government themselves are in no way independent. He, at all events, though his party is small, is his own master. The Government are not acting as they should in this matter, because they are not their own masters. The Government by this Bill have achieved one unique distinction. They have invented a form of Government without precedent in the world. Search through all the constitutional history of every civilised country; look at every Constitution granted by this Government and its predecessors, and you will find nothing resembling the travesty of Government embodied in this Bill. But that is not their sole achievement. They have succeeded by their action in giving the lie to their most solemn pledges and professions. What are these professions? They are, first professions of an earnest desire for effective reform in the Second Chamber. And so strongly do they appear about this that they are not content with embodying their desire in the ordinary form in which logical 1724 terms are embodied, but they have adopted the absolutely unprecedented course of recording their intention in the Preamble of the Bill.
The objects of a Preamble is that it is taken to indicate the mischiefs which the Bill is designed to remove. But this Preamble lays emphasis on and calls public attention to the grave mischief which this Bill is certain to produce. There may be well intentioned persons who still regard this Preamble as a sacred pledge. I believe there are wiser observers, and amongst them I think I may number the Members of the Labour party, who see nothing of this Preamble but an elaborate farce and sham. What is to be thought about the action of the Government if these are their professions in regard to a Second Chamber! Why do they destroy the powers of a Second Chamber, and do nothing to reform that Second Chamber. They leave wholly unchanged the hereditary principle, the denunciations of which helped them to obtain their heretogenous majority, and they destroy all the powers of a Second Chamber by leaving it no powers whatsoever to reject or to amend in any respect the provisions of any Bill, whether it be important or unimportant, whether it was ever submitted to the country, or whether it was ever approved by the country. It is said that at any rate we give the Second Chamber the power to delay measures for two years. How long do you think that provision will last? Will not the next log-rolling coalition you can devise abolish that provision and wipe it out of existence, along with all the other shams of this Bill? We are told that the Prime Minister is pledged in the course of this Parliament to reform the Second Chamber if time permits. In March of last year we were told that this settlement brooked no delay. If it brooked no delay fourteen months ago, why does it brook delay now? Not only does the Prime Minister propose to delay it, but he actually refuses to express any limit of time within which the admittedly indefensible solution contained in this Bill must be brought into operation. We are entitled to ask, I think, where is that jealous guardian of the Constitution, the Foreign Secretary? Why is he not present during these Debates? Has he been drugged into silence by the sop of the Preamble? If so, I wish he would conic down to this House and tell us so. When is the Preamble to be made effective? Why does the right hon. Baronet not come down here and tell 1725 us what powers are to be given to the reconstituted Second Chamber? That to my mind is a vital question. Perhaps the Chancellor of the Duchy will be able to answer it and speak the mind of the Foreign Secretary. It would be much to the satisfaction of those who trusted the right hon. Baronet as a guardian of our constitutional liberties if he would come forward and tell us his view as to the value of this Preamble.
The Government profess a desire to respect the will of the people, and yet they desire the existing constitutional machinery of a Second Chamber by which delay is interposed. Having done this, they persistently refuse to accept any method by which the will of the people can be ascertained in order to secure the passing of Bills which the people have never approved of. When we on this side propose the Referendum we find the Prime Minister, that light-hearted subverter of our Constitution, coming down here and telling us with cynical humour that the Referendum is a method far too revolutionary for his sensitive constitution conscience. What value are we to give to statements of that sort? The Prime Minister told us this afternoon that this Bill is the precise expression of the popular will at the last election. Perhaps the House will allow me to recall what happened before the last election. During the whole of the summer and autumn of last year the country was muzzled, and not one word was uttered as to the merits or demerits of the Parliament Bill, owing to the sittings of the Conference.
Then the Conference came to a sudden end. What was the obvious duty of the Government, if they had had any decency in this matter. Simply to have brought in their Parliament Bill to be discussed here and in another place, and then if they found agreement impossible submit it, after discussion, to the deliberate judgment of the people. But they did not do that. That was far too dangerous a course. They decided to rush an election and submit issues which had never been discussed in either House of Commons beyond a short discussion at the very last moment, and then they asked the verdict of the people on issues which were absolutely confused. Will any hon. Gentleman opposite say that the people really understood the provisions contained in this Parliament Bill in detail. [An HON. MEMBER: "Certainly."] What an absurdity when we had an example only the other night of a, Cabinet Minister, the Chancellor of the 1726 Duchy, who did not know the details of this Bill. Now we are told that every elector knew the details of this Bill. Credat Judœus Apella is appropriate in this case. At the last election the issues were confused, and it is absurd to tell us now that you have any mandate to carry through the Parliament Bill without introducing any reasonable provision to see that the will of the people is ascertained first.
The Government say—and this is a favourite argument which has been insisted upon time after time, and it has been asserted by the Prime Minister—that when once the people elect representatives to this House, then the will of the House of Commons is a mirror of the will of the people. There is one answer to that statement which is conclusive, and it is that the statement is untrue. It is untrue to say that the will of the House of Commons universally represents the will of the people even immediately after a General Election, and it is notoriously untrue to make that statement some little time after a General Election. How long have the Government maintained the doctrine that the will of the House of Commons is the will of the people? Those hon. Members who sat in the Parliament of 1900 will remember the strident clamour in which every Member of the Liberal party indulged when denouncing the Education Act and the Licensing Act as a violation of the will of the people, although those Acts were passed by the representatives who had been returned by the people. That was their doctrine then, and how do they reconcile that with their doctrine now? There is only one mode of reconciliation, and that is when a Unionist Government is in power the will of the House of Commons really represents the will of the people, but when you have a Liberal Government in power, especially one supported by a log-rolling coalition, then the will of the House of Commons always represents the will of the people. No, Sir, the real justification for this Bill is not to be found in any of the subtleties or the arguments presented to us by the Members of the Government during this Debate.
The real justification and reason for this Bill is to be found in the fact that the Government are not now their own masters, and they have no choice in the matter. The Irish Nationalist party to-day are demanding payment for their action in supporting a Budget which they abhor. They now ask you to carry this Parliament Bill to enable the House to carry behind the back and against the wishes of the people 1727 a scheme of Home Rule which was never submitted to the country in detail at the General Election. How do the Government answer us upon this point I They say, they have a clear mandate for a measure which was not even referred to in the election addresses of the principal Members of the Cabinet. It was not referred to by the Prime Minister, the Secretary of State for War, or the Home Secretary, or in the address of the Minister who ought to have referred to it, that is the Chief Secretary for Ireland. You are claiming a mandate for a measure to which 241 out of 486 Liberal and Labour candidates never referred in their election addresses, and those who did refer to it did so in such vague terms that they called it a measure of concilation, local self-government, and other meaningless phrases. May I quote from a speech which was delivered in Parliament this year by the hon. Member for East Denbighshire (Mr. E. T. John). He said:—To attempt to pass an Trish Home Rule Bill with the Second Chamber in a state of suspended animation, and without the specific sanction of a General Election at which the electors were made fully conversant with the details of such a large measure, was to his mind an utterly indefensible course.I agree with every word that was uttered in that quotation by the hon. Member for East Denbighshire. The time will come when the electors of this country will be asked once more I suppose to renew again that confidence which they were induced to place in the Government at the last election, which has resulted in the formation of the present strange majority. When the electors are again asked to express their confidence in the present Government, will they not say of them, "you have violated your professions in order to retain your office, you have submitted to the coercion of the Irish Nationalist Members, you have by closure and guillotine carried a measure through the House of Commons which is a mere grotesque travesty on Parliamentary Government, but this travesty cannot last, your policy will be reversed, your Bill will he torn up, and you will receive, and rightly receive the condemnation that is always accorded to those who betray their trust."
§ 8.0 P.M.
§ Mr. MACLEAN
The hon. Member who has just spoken must have imagined that he was addressing the members of the Primrose League instead of the Members of this House. What is it that he has said in his flights of oratory regarding the 1728 Members of the present Government? He has given the lie to their most solemn professions, and he says this Bill is a travesty of justice. He has spoken of the Prime Minister—one of the most trusted Ministers we have ever had—as a lighthearted subverter of our Constitution. He has also asserted that the Foreign Secretary had been drugged into silence by the sop of the Preamble. I have been four or five years in this House, and I have listened to many speeches, and I have no hesitation in saying that the speech which the hon. and learned Member has just delivered includes in it more violence of language and a greater absence of argument than any speech of a similar length I have ever listened to. I will not weary the House by making any further reference to it. He never really ad-dressed himself to any point which has been made in the discussion to-day. The hon. and learned Member for the Walton division of Liverpool (Mr. F. E. Smith) founded the main portion of his speech upon the proposition that the first two years of the life of a Government was a period within which they would have the right to propose and pass legislation into law. That is no new proposition at all. The law of the Constitution was laid down as long as fifty years ago by a very great writer, Bagehot. Where was the ultimate power in the Constitution? he asked Was it in the Crown? No. Was it in the House of Lords? No. Where was it? Here are his words:—The ultimate authority in the English Constitution is a newly elected House of Commons, The House of Commons may assent in minor matters to the revision of the House of Lords, and submit in matters about which it cares little to the suspensive Veto of the House of Lords, but when sure of the popular assent and when freshly elected, it is absolute—it can rule as it likes and decide as it likes.That is the doctrine laid down by so great an authority as Bagehot. The ultimate power of the Constitution is in this House. It is significant to notice that the great Duke of Wellington's only real claim to statesmanship, as this historian says, was that he presided over the House of Lords when it changed from its autocratic position to one more in accord with democratic principles. That attitude of the House of Lords was more or less maintained until 1906, when the whole thing was changed. Will anyone, even on this side, deny that, if the House of Lords had passed the Bud-get and one or two other measures to which they made sweeping Amendments, there would have been the slightest suggestion 1729 made that the hereditary principle should be abolished? The House of Lords and the Conservative party, working with them, have brought this position entirely upon themselves, because they went flatly and distinctly against the policy laid down for them by the Duke of Wellington and very carefully observed by the great Lord Salisbury, one of the greatest and wisest leaders who ever presided over the House of Lords. He knew exactly how far to go, and when to stop. If they had followed on the lines laid down by those two men, we should not be passing the Third Reading of a Bill suspending the Veto of the House of Lords, and ultimately reforming that House. The simple fact is the Tory party and the House of Lords, in defence of vested interests—I do not doubt their sincerity—have broken the Constitution, and, as one of the great leaders said in the Cromwellian days:—If anyone goes about breaking Parliaments, in the end Parliament will break him.The Tory party and the House of Lords have deliberately set out to break this House, and I am rather surprised hon. Gentlemen on the other side of the House do not see it. There has been a deliberate attempt on their part to minimise its powers and to degrade its position, for the advantage of the House of Lords. We have been absolutely driven to do this. Of course, we know, and those who come in contact with the electorate know well, there is an immense amount of steady Conservatism in every class of society in the country, and it has required all that the Tory party and the House of Lords have done to make it possible for us to bring in and carry triumphantly through, as we shall do, even so moderate a measure as this. We have been absolutely driven to it. I do not know what other hon. Members did, but I fought this Bill out Clause by Clause at the General Election. I was constantly challenged, and rightly challenged on it, and if ever there was a mandate—I hate the word "mandate" myself; I believe in the representative character of this House—for a specific and definite measure, we have a mandate from the country to pass the Parliament Bill. The quietness which has dominated these debates for the last few weeks is symptomatic of the opinion of this House and of the people themselves. They have made up their minds this has got to be done. There never was a quieter revolution, and there never was a more reasoned, well thought out, or better supported piece of legislation than we are going to 1730 pass into law, as far as the House of Commons is concerned, at eleven o'clock to-night.
§ Mr. HUME-WILLIAMS
We are now approaching, presumably, the end of this somewhat long and interesting discussion, and it is perhaps well one should try and ascertain what has emerged from it and what is the real crux of what we have been thinking a great deal about and talking of for some time. We have heard on more than one occasion suggestions from the other side of the House that we on our side have no alternative scheme to offer. I will suggest one. It is not the first time it has been suggested by any means. Our scheme is simplicity itself. Reform your House of Lords first, and, when you have reformed it, see whether you require the Parliament Bill or not. We now see that, if the Government do anything at some future period to reform the House of Lords, at any rate nothing is to pass without a reformed House of Lords, except such Bills as shall fulfil the supreme national necessity of keeping them in office for some considerably longer period. We have had the Bill to do with what we can, and according to the best of our endeavours we have tried, although we do not like it, to improve the Bill in some of its details and to offer suggestions to the Government which we at any rate have thought worthy of acceptance and of consideration. We have wasted our time. We might as well have addressed our arguments to a blank wall. Day after day the Government have stood obdurate and determined not to accept anything, whether it commended itself to them or whether it did not, and their supporters behind them sat in gloomy and persistent silence, appropriate enough to the Bill we were considering, but not encouraging to those who were trying to discuss it.
What have we done? Little. What have we tried? A great deal. We first attempted to ensure that finance which is to pass in a quick way should be finance, and that great political issues which ought to be submitted to the will of the people should not be included in "finance." The Prime Minister would not move a step towards accepting our definition. He criticised in masterly language our definition of finance, and what was excluded from it. It is easy to criticise, but he offered no alternative, and no suggestion came from that side of the House that Mr. Speaker in exercising his new powers in the future should have anything to guide him in 1731 excluding from the domain of finance that which is not really finance and was not intended as finance. We then reminded the House of pledges given by the former Leader of the Liberal party that in future when these proposals were brought again before the House of Commons statutory sanction should be given to some means of conference between the two Houses to obviate the discreditable condition of things which must occur if you have irritation between the two branches of the legislature and the disastrous result which must follow to the affairs of the country if Bills are to be hung up for two years at a time. We pointed out that Lord Crewe, speaking in the other House only last year, said those proposals for conferences were vital to the suggestions of the Government. We might as well have addressed our arguments to a brick wall for all the result they had upon the Government.
We afterwards tried to provide, if this Bill is to be a real attempt to improve the Constitution, that it should be treated as attempts in this House always have been and should contain a provision to the effect that it should endure for three years and should then require renewal if the feeling in the country was still in its favour. Again our arguments were wasted, and we might as well have addressed them to the empty benches which lay in front of us for all the result they had upon the Government. We tried, on more than one occasion to obviate this insensate system under which Bills are to be hung up, the House of Lords having no power of Amendment at all, while the popular opinion in the country is ascertained. There has been nothing more fallacious than these spurious attempts to get at the opinion of the electors. The electors send us here to do our work in the House of Commons, and they do not want to be continually summoned to political meetings to hear our views. They want us to get on with the work. You are going to delay your Bills for two years in the hope of getting some popular expression of opinion in the country. The people who hold opinions which are really worth hearing are people who do not join in public processions, or who cannot give expression to their views without being preceded by drum and trumpet. They are men who sit at home studying these questions and who vote according to their conscience. This is the class from which you want to get an expression of opinion. We have 1732 tried to do something to obviate the delay which is going to occur in the future by providing some sensible means by which differences occurring between the two Houses shall be settled at the very outset instead of after a considerable and irritating delay, which, it must be admitted, will be the result of hanging up Bills in the manner proposed.
I have followed closely the Debates in this House relating to this Bill, and I have observed a feeling which appears to strongly obtain on the other side of the House, and which somewhat explains the attitude adopted by hon. Members opposite. They feel they have a great grievance against the House of Lords. They have told us in pathetic terms of the misfortunes they experienced in the year 1909, in connection with the Budget then introduced. I remember the Postmaster-General giving us a pathetic account of the operation which he went through— an operation from which we are glad to see he has fortunately recovered—when the iron entered his soul, because he and this Government had passed a Bill which did not commend itself to the House of Lords. I can understand the feelings of hon. Members who may have taken a great deal of exercise and have wasted a considerable amount of energy on a measure ultimately rejected by the House of Lords. But what I venture to impress on the House is this: that legislation grounded on spite or revenge is not legislation which the country is likely to approve. If you have a grievance in that respect your remedy is to reform the House of Lords, and to do it at once. It seems to me that running throughout this Debate there is a tone suggestive that the present position is the fault of the House of Lords; that they have brought it on themselves; that now it is the turn of the supporters of the Government who are going to show them how foolish and unwise they have been. I do not say that that is suggested in so many words. But one cannot help detecting that sort of note underlying the speeches of hon. Members opposite. One cannot help seeing that the Bill, temporary as it will probably prove to be, is designed to deprive the House of Lords of all power.
The object is not so much to reform the House as to enable hon. Members to revenge themselves for the action of that House, which has hitherto, as they say, obstructed legislation which they promote. If this is a considered step in the path of progress and not a mere device to keep the 1733 Government in office, it will, of course, deserve well of the country and of those who come after it. But the test is: Are you going to reform your Constitution so as to make it an honest working Constitution, or are you going to leave it in an emasculated condition, with a Second Chamber powerless to fulfill the function which is exercised by a like body in every other country. I venture to think, taken as a business proposition, if any business man on the face of this earth was going to reform one of the departments of his business, and had determined to change his staff and introduce new methods he would do both things at the same time. He certainly would not introduce new methods of working by the old staff, at the same time intimating to that staff that they would be sent away as soon as the new methods had been brought into successful operation. My business proposition is this: If you really desire the welfare of the country, if you really desire to reform the Constitution, do it on business lines. Alter the powers of a Second House, and alter its constitution at one and the same time. If you do that you will be deemed to be honest, even if mistaken reformers. If you do not do it, and if you insist on keeping the House of Lords unreformed while altering its powers, you may retain office but you will be subject to the just criticism that you are not real reformers: that you are mere opportunists and that you are paying a price for remaining in office. In that case you will not deserve so well of the country as you would do if you were honest but mistaken reformers.
§ Mr. NEEDHAM
The last speaker suggested that this legislation was based on spite and revenge, and that it proposed to deprive the House of Lords of all power. But surely that is in direct opposition to the concluding remarks of the hon. and learned Member for the Walton Division (Mr. F. E. Smith), in which he suggested that the effect of this Bill was to give more power to the Second Chamber than was at present vested in it. We have fought this matter at two elections, and one of the most surprising things which has emerged from these Debates has been the suggestion that this Bill was not thoroughly explained to the country. The Leader of the Opposition made a statement to that effect, and that leads me to trouble the House with a personal matter. I can say most definitely that I, at any rate, in the constituency of South-West Manchester spoke at great 1734 length on this Bill, and, indeed, it was a matter of complaint against me in the local papers that in the first part of the election I spoke on nothing else. I can also say, with regard to other parts of Manchester, that the Bill was argued at great length. Surely the results in Manchester were satisfactory from the Government point of view in support of this Bill.
The hon. and learned Member devoted nearly the whole of his speech to a consideration of Clause 2, and I may observe that many of the speeches which have been made seem to be based on the assumption that the method embodied in that Clause is a new one. I saw in to-day's paper that the Member for Dublin University (Sir E. Carson) speaking on Saturday, declared that the real authors of this Bill were the Irish Members below the Gangway, while the hon. and learned Member for York (Mr. Butcher) made a similar suggestion only a few minutes ago. Surely these Gentlemen must have forgotten the Campbell-Bannerman Resolutions of 1907, which were passed at a time when the Government were in a large majority over all the other sections of the House. Even those Resolutions were not new, for they were based on what had gone before, and what had been made familiar and popularised throughout the country by no less an authority than John bright. I have found even that John Bright's proposals were not original, and for the sake of greater accuracy I have referred to-day to an essay on this subject, which was published in 1836, and which was written by James Mill. It is very interesting to find these proposals embodied in what was written so long as seventy-five years ago. James Mill wrote:—Let it be enacted that if a Bill which has been passed in the House of Commons and thrown out in the House of Lords is renewed in the House of Commons in the next session of Parliament and passed but again brown out by the House of Lords, it shall, if passed a third time by the Commons, become law without being sent to the House of Lords.Hon. Gentlemen opposite cannot pretend that this proposal has not got the merit of age. I do not pretend on that ground alone it should be passed to-day, but I do say I shall give my support to this measure, because through two elections I have fought this question out before the constituencies. I have argued it Clause by Clause, and I went through all the points made by this Bill, and no one can contend that in South-West Manchester we have not discussed it, or that our people have riot had the opportunity of understanding the contents of this measure. The real 1735 difficulty is made clear to us by a Noble Lord, who writes in to-day's newspapers. After dealing with the fatal day when the fate of the Licensing Bill was decided before it reached the House of Lords, he says:—One must recognise the fact that Radical measures will emanate from a Radical Government, and a Radical majority in the House of Commons will not tolerate for ever being governed by a permanent Unionist majority in the House of Lords.That is exactly our case. We cannot tolerate for ever this domination by a Second Chamber. We have not attacked an hereditary Second Chamber necessarily as such What we have preached is the doctrine that we are not to be dominated by an irresponsible Second Chamber, and the House of Lords, as it stands, is an irresponsible Second Chamber. My vote for this Bill to-day will be given because I believe that we shall eventually obtain by means of it a position of something like fairness for our Bills by which we shall be able to pass into law the proposals which we go to the country about and discuss, and that we shall no longer be overruled by the Unionist majority of the Upper Chamber. For these reasons I support the Bill which is before the House.
§ Mr. J. A. GRANT
I heard the hon. Member who has just sat down say that it was the first time that he addressed the House, and I think one must congratulate him upon his speech when he for the first time intervened in Debate. The Debate to-day has been one of great interest, and, indeed, has been wholly a Debate in connection with the Bill; and it has been a relief to-day to find hon. Members opposite on the benches behind the Government Bench taking a part in it. It was specially interesting to hear the last hon. Gentleman who spoke using some of the language which, I think, we really did hear in the course of the discussions in the constituencies during the election. I can only speak of my own experience and what I read myself, but the main complaint, I think, of candidates of the Liberal and Radical persuasion was that the will of the people was dominated by an irresponsible Second Chamber. Surely it does not need a Veto Bill to do away with that anomaly. I say that that was the point which was voted upon from one end of the country to the other. It was the irresponsible nature of the people in the Second Chamber and the hereditary principle which was objected to, and you could do away with 1736 those objections by carrying out your Preamble and carrying out what you really, to a large extent, won the last election upon. Previous speakers this evening complained of the way in which this side of the House has been treated during the Debate, and how we cannot get from the Government any adequate argument to prove that in passing this Bill into law as it stands they will really have Second-Chamber Government in this country in the future. They told their constituents that they are in favour of a Second-Chamber Government, but they produce a Bill which we say will lead to nothing else but. Single-Chamber Government in this country, and we cannot get them to justify their contention and argue it to the House. I think, therefore, we are justified in coming to the conclusion that they cannot prove it, for they have never done so in the course of these long Debates.
There is another point which ought to be given weight to, and that is the amount of consideration which the Government has given to the views of hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House. One is sufficiently conversant with ordinary Parliamentary usage to know that even in ordinary legislation there is a give and take principle, and the views of the Opposition are adopted and incorporated in the Bill. During the discussion of this Bill we have engaged in a conflict where surely if there was ever give and take it ought to have been shown. The Parliament Bill is almost in a category by itself, and it is a case where every latitude ought to be given to the views of the Opposition. I might say that the Opposition on an occasion like this ought not upon the whole to be looked at from a partisan point of view. They ought to be looked upon as representative of a vast number of people who have a right that their views should be not only considered but largely deferred to. The Government in the conduct of this Bill, as I think an hon. and learned Friend of mine said, have simply been registering the decrees of the party for the moment in the ascendant. Any argument, reasoned or not has been put upon one side, and we have had the rights of the minority absolutely disregarded on a question so profound and on a constitutional revolution of the first magnitude. It is no ordinary Bill that we are dealing with, it is a Bill which is aimed at the destruction of an ancient Constitution and the setting up in its place of an entirely new machinery, which will in future control our Bills and the legislation of the country. It is on 1737 such a measure as this that the Prime Minister sweeps on one side and takes no notice of the considered convictions of practically half the electorate of this country as represented on these benches by the largest party in this House.
That is the way in which the Prime Minister has treated us on this occasion, and I say that such a tyrannical use of power as the right hon. Gentleman has exercised in the course of the passage of this Bill has not been statesmanlike, wise, or reasonable, and I do not believe that such conduct will enhance his reputation as a statesman; and especially I say so when I remember that within a year that very right hon. Gentleman has been foremost in his desire for compromise. Before the election he was never tired of saying how anxious he was to bring about a compromise on this matter, and he was, if not the originator, one of those who took part in a conference to bring about a settlement between the two parties in the electorate of the country. We were justified in thinking, therefore, that even after he brought forward this Bill that he would pass it in a reasonable manner, paying attention to the views of his opponents, and not tricking us into his decrees and making us pass the Bill, the whole Bill, and nothing but the Bill. I believe there is many an elector in the country at present who has already regretted the vote he has given. There is many an elector who thought the Prime Minister would not force this Single Chamber Government upon the country. Far be it from me to accuse, even if f thought it was right to accuse, the right hon. Gentleman of endeavouring to hoodwink the electorate at the last election, but the fact remains that they had a Leader of the Liberal party before them who was full of words of compromise, but since then he has acted in a different manner. There is only one conclusion to come to, not that it has not been the desire of the right hon. Gentleman, but that he has not been strong enough to resist the orders of the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Redmond), or to control the extreme wing of the party of which he is the nominal chief.
The Bill will leave the House this evening, and it is possible it may become law. At present we are governed by a coalition of parties—by different groups. I do not know if the groups have ever considered the difficulties that the carrying out of this Bill may bring upon them. Take the possibility of the hon. and learned Gentleman 1738 (Mr. Redmond) next year having Home Rule passed and having it rejected in another place. It will then in all probability be hung up till the third Session. Take also the probability of the representatives of Nonconformity next Session forcing upon the Government an Education Bill by which denominational schools are practically abolished. They will only be carrying out the expressed wishes the other day of the President of the Board of Education. Supposing such a Bill came before the House, what would be the position of the hon. and learned Gentleman and his Friends? No one is more sincere in his desire to uphold denominational schools, and he will have before hint his own pet scheme of Home Rule hung up, and he will have the Government come to him with a. pistol to his head asking him to vote for the abolition of denominational schools in this country. We heard lately of the newborn love of the hon. and learned Gentleman for the Welsh Radical Nonconformists. I wonder if that newborn love would bear the strain of such a situation? I think it would not. I think even in the lifetime of the present Parliamen we should have from the Benches opposite demands for the repeal of this measure. T do not think you can have anything but one of two things, either an effective Second Chamber or Single-Chamber Government. The Government undoubtedly have taken the latter alternative and it is my most sincere conviction that, in doing so, they have not carried out the true spirit of the instruction they got at the last election. The true spirit was to maintain Two-Chamber Government, which they have not done by this Bill. By their action they are taking away from the people the supreme power and control of legislation in this country and giving it to a Single Chamber. For such reasons among many others, I most cordially support the Motion for the rejection of the Bill.
§ Mr. LEACH
The hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Butcher) asked if any Members on this side of the House would say the people understood the Parliament Bill during the last election. I have no right to speak for the people generally, but I can speak for the Colne Valley. Again and again and again, all through the election in December, I discussed that Bill at various meetings which I attended, and if the electors in that Division did not understand it, it was not the fault of the Cabinet. I listened to clay with a great deal of interest to the very able speech of the 1739 hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. F. E. Smith) and I was glad to notice that there was less of bitterness than I have some times heard in his speeches in this House, to which I have always listened with close attention. I admired the way in which he justified the speeches made on this side of the House about the Parliament Bill, and I wondered how the Leader a the Opposition must have felt, who all through these discussions on the Parliament Bill had declared it meant One-Chamber Government, when behind him the hon. and learned Gentleman. in moving the rejection of the Bill, so emphatically declared that power would be possessed by the Second Chamber, justifying all that had been said on this side that the Bill does not mean Single-Chamber Government.
I marvelled that an hon. Member so keen in analysis and so learned, and having such an extensive acquaintance with logic, should have based so strong an argument as he attempted to do upon premises which would not bear his conclusions. In the early part of his speech, when he made a most powerful appeal to the House, he was trying to show that during the first two years of a Government it was to be assumed that any measure which it introduced would represent the people and the illustrations he used to justify the action of a former Government whose Members he now supports, were very unfortunate, He forgot, at any rate he did not state, that those measures to which he refers proposed by a Government in the first two years of its existence must represent the mandates given by the people at that election, and when he tried to justify the introduction of the Education Bill of the Conservative Government, Chinese slavery, and the Liquor Bill, he altogether overlooked that great and serious point that measures produced by a Government should be only such measures as have been discussed by the people at an election. [An HON. MEMBER: "That is not in your Bill."] This Bill was discussed in the Colne Valley, and as the hon. Member (Mr. Needham) has shown, it was also discussed very fully in South-West Manchester, at least.
I shall support this Bill because I believe it will make the progress of legislation desired by the people, as expressed in this House, somewhat easier and more rapid than of late it has been. We know that Parliament after Parliament has seen some of its greatest measures destroyed 1740 or mutilated, and if this Bill becomes law, as I believe it will, the pace will be considerably quickened, as I consider it ought to be. In the next place, I support this Bill because it would secure a closer approach to equality of treatment as between the two great parties in the State than at present exists. Everyone knows who takes an interest in public affairs that measures carried by the Conservatives in the House of Commons, however bad they may be, even when the party has no mandate for them—such as the Education Act —are hurried through the Second Chamber, while Liberal measures, however good, are delayed, defeated, and sometimes destroyed. The time to put a stop to this unfair, this grossly partisan, this unequal treatment, is long overdue, and I am pleased that it is soon to come to an end. Again, the Bill will in Statute form, embody those principles which have, in the evolution of our history, come to form what we call our unwritten Constitution. It will embody them in a written form which cannot be gainsaid. Among these principles I need only name two—one is the supremacy of the House of Commons in all matters of finance. The second is the right of the Monarchy, and the Monarchy alone, to dismiss Ministers of the Crown and dissolve Parliament. Both of these and others have been challenged of late by the other House—challenged by the Second Chamber at the bidding often of a defeated party in this House. The House of Lords claims, and its friends in this House claim for it, the right to force an election—a right which Members on this side of the House at any rate cannot for one moment tolerate. We say, and the party in the country for whom we speak also say, that a self-respecting free people that would longer submit to such treatment is not worthy of the freedom secured for them at so great a price by those who preceded them. If argument were needed to enforce what I am saying, it could easily be found in the speeches of hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite. On 21st February this year the Leader of the Opposition said:—We are all agreed that there must be and alight to be, a change in the historical connection between the two Houses, and in the composition of the Second Chamber."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st February, 1911, col. 1709.]In the same speech the right hon. Gentleman said:—The House of Commons should be, as between the two Chambers, the dominant Chamber."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 21st February, 1911, col. 1760.]1741 We are in complete agreement with those sentiments, but the difference between us is the way in which this predominance is to be secured. It is easy to show, indeed, it has been shown again and again, by those who have taken part in the Debates on this side of the House, that what hon. Gentlemen opposite desire, is to so strengthen the other Chamber that the same difficulties which have prevailed in the past shall continue. Speaking for myself rather than support the proposals of the Opposition in this matter, or support the present House of Lords as it is, I would gladly vote with hon. Members sitting below the Gangway for one-Chamber Government pure and simple. But I know that the proposals of the Opposition will not and cannot be accepted, and that the Government will not leave the Second Chamber as it is. It must be reformed, and it is because I believe the Government will neither propose nor accept any scheme for the reform of the Second Chamber which does not deal with the hereditary principle, and provide a strong method of popular election, that I shall heartily vote for the Third Reading of the Bill.
§ Mr. BRIDGEMAN
The hon. Member opposite (Mr. Leach) supported the Bill apparently on the ground that it would prevent the Government of the day from introducing measures and passing them in spite of this Chamber, when those measures have not received the mandate of the people. I only wish it did. I should very much like to know what Clause in the Bill makes that reservation, and it would be interesting to know what constitutes the mandate of the people. There is nothing in the Bill which would prevent the Government passing through this House and the other House, against the will of the people, measures which the people themselves have never considered at all. The hon. Member for South-West Manchester (Mr. Needham), I was very glad to hear, said he addressed himself almost entirely during the election to explaining, word by word, this Bill to his Constituents, and it appeared from his speech that it was on this ground they returned him to this House. I am very glad to hear that he was not returned as a Free Trailer, and that information will be very useful perhaps at some future time.
There is one thing that must have impressed everybody who has listened to the speeches made in these Debates, and that is the extraordinary similarity between 1742 our position now, so far as argument goes, and our position when we first began to discuss the Bill. The Home Secretary, I think, almost on the first occasion on which he spoke, certainly in the most interesting speech which he has delivered, invited us to try to understand the position of hon. Gentlemen opposite on this question. Hon. Gentlemen opposite, in spite of their great rhetorical and argumentative powers, have not done very much to lighten our supposed darkness on this matter. Their position is not the mysteriously interesting enigma that they perhaps imagine it to be. Their position is a very simple one. It is perfectly plain to us what they are driving at. They want what a good many other people want—that is to get their own way. They, as a party, or rather a coalition of parties, want in fact for their existence as a coalition to espouse with some chance of success two or three causes which appeal to certain branches of that coalition very strongly, but which do not appeal to the great majority of the House or the country. What they want to do is to pass two or three measures through this House and through Parliament, not with the agreement of the people themselves, but whether the people are in agreement with them or not. What they want to do is not only to prevail in regard to these two or three measures whenever they have the people on their side, and against the House of Lords, but to prevail when Peers and people are both against them. They want to prevail in spite of the Peers and in spite of the people. That is the plain truth, and every lion. Member knows it perfectly well. It is a truth perhaps too naked for them to have trotted out and exhibited at last election. There are truths so unblushing that even they would be prevented from stating them in their absolute nakedness before the people of this country. I do not think any of them stated their case in the candid manner in which I have tried to state it now. In fact, the arguments they used in the country, and the arguments they used here, were aiming at something totally different from what this Bill wants to accomplish.
I am not much of an expert in turf matters, but I have always understood that when the owner of two horses makes a great deal of one of them and attracts public attention to that horse, allowing everyone to imagine that he is going to win a race with that horse, and then, for some unknown or inadequate reason scratches that horse and wins the race with the other one, he is not regarded as a very 1743 good sportsman. That seems to me to be what the party opposite desire to do. They scratched the horse called the "Reform of the House of Lords." That was the one on which they declared to win at the General Election, and hon. Gentlemen who understand these matters much better than I do know perfectly well that it is not a very sportsmanlike action.
The arguments in the country and here were undoubtedly in favour of reform of the House of Lords, and of nothing else. The Prime Minister said in the earlier part of this Debate to-night that the people had had this Bill thoroughly placed before them, and that every word and every line were familiar. I absolutely deny that. My experience of the election, and of other elections besides my own, convinces me that that was very far from the fact. If that was the case, if dismemberment rather than amendment of the Second Chamber was what was aimed at, what was the point of all these arguments against the hereditary principle, and of all these posters of babies with coronets on they heads sucking their bottles, and of all the other literature at the General Election? I can give a good instance in my own experience of this matter. I happened to be making a speech trying to point out to the audience that there was no reform in this Pill, which everybody knows is the case. One of the leaders of the Radical party who was at that meeting got up and said, "This Bill is a Reform Bill to reform the House of Lords." I said, "Kindly tell me what Clause in the Bill does reform it, and I asked him to come up on the platform and show me what Clause it was. I need hardly say that that gentleman remained in his seat, and did not interrupt any more. That I believe was an experience common to most members of our party in the election. The arguments in favour of this Bill in this House have all been directed towards reform in the composition of the House of Lords rather than in its powers.
The first time the Prime Minister made a great speech on this subject he gave three great reasons for this Bill. The first was that the House of Lords had unduly interfered with finance. That reason does not apply now, and did not apply when he said it, because the House of Lords had already registered their renunciation of any right to interfere with finance. Therefore, so far as it was a valid argument at all, it was a valid argu- 1744 ment not for this Bill, but for some other Bill of quite a different kind. His second argument was that the House of Lords was a non-elected Chamber. Is that an argument for this Bill? I should not have thought it was statesmanlike to introduce as an argument in support of a Bill the statement that it aimed at doing away with a particular grievance if there was not a single word in that Bill which did away with that grievance. There is nothing in this Bill to do away with the grievance that it is a non-elected Second Chamber. After all that has been said about the Conference and its failure, I should have felt more confidence myself in the general desire of Members on the other side to arrive at a reasonable solution if they had been willing to publish the results of that Conference, and allow the public to know how far they could have got together on that point. I think it lamentable that what took place at the Conference was not published. It would be of immense advantage to everybody interested in getting a final and satisfactory solution of this question to have known how near or how far the parties to the Conference were to or from one another. Then, again, the great argument the Prime Minister used was that the House of Lords was overwhelmingly partisan in its character. This Bill does nothing whatever to rectify that inequality of party. Everybody on this side of the House has recognised that that is a grievance, and a real grievance, against the House of Lords. It is not a question which can be laid to our charge, because Liberal Ministries have recommended to peerages an enormous number of gentlemen, who, when they have got there, for some reason or other have voted on the other side. It is not our fault that the present composition of the House of Lords is not more equally divided. I remember when Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman introduced his resolutions—which, by the way, have been referred to in this House as if they were identical with this Bill, as if people had forgotten that these resolutions contained a proposal for a Joint Conference, which has been ignominiously repudiated by all those who profess that the proposals now before the House are exactly the same as those which he introduced—
§ The POSTMASTER -GENERAL (Mr. Herbert Samuel)
So far from being repudiated, they have been confirmed.
§ Mr. BRIDGEMAN
Surely if it is going to be a serious proposal it would have been put into the Bill if the Resolutions on which this Bill is founded actually recommend it. But Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman said that there were two great evils in the House of Lords. One was that it frequently rejected Liberal measures, and the other was that it invariably, I think he said, passed Conservative measures. There, again, there is a complaint against the House of Lords which this measure does nothing whatever to put right. In fact, if anything, it accentuates it. If the House of Lords is preponderatingly of one particular opinion, what has the Liberal party done to democratise the House of Lords? It has neglected the opportunity, in recommending men for peerages, of putting into the House the more advanced thinkers and the more advanced Radicals. It is not the advanced thinkers, but the advanced payers, whom they have selected. They have sent there those Members of their party of the most moderate complexion, men who we constantly hear voted for measures which they regarded with the greatest suspicion, if not dislike, and who hoped at some later period of their lives to expiate the excesses of their earlier years by a respectable and secure old age in the other House. The vast majority of Members recommended to the Upper House by Prime Ministers opposite have been recommended, as far as it is possible for anybody outside the inner circle to gauge, simply on account of their wealth, and for no other reason at all. Although nobody can say that it is our fault that the House of Lords is preponderatingly on one side, I do say that is a grievance which is not dealt with in this Bill, and it is a grievance which every one of us is perfectly prepared to see rectified and put on a proper basis. Lastly, there has been the argument during these Debates that this Bill is a necessary preliminary step, and that nothing can be done if this preliminary step is not taken. Why could not the whole question have been dealt with at once? What has there happened in the situation to make it necessary to take a preliminary step rather than do the whole thing at once? Everyone knows that there never was a time like the present, or when it was more possible, to have arrived at a conclusion, which might have been a final conclusion, and which would have dealt with this question as a whole, rather than merely from the party aspect, in which hon. Gentlemen opposite are trying to deal 1746 with it. The reason which has been advanced that what hon. Members opposite want to do could not be done without this preliminary step being taken is all nonsense and untrue. Hon. Members of this House can surely realise, whatever their opinions may be, that it is better to live under a reformed Constitution than under a suspended Constitution. The Government are asking us to live for art indefinite time under a suspended Constitution.
The Prime Minister has actually told us that in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred it is as sure as daylight that one Parliament will reverse the decision of the other under the arrangements that are made. What a prospect for social legislation in this country, what a spectacle to the countries of the world, if the Constitution you are giving us is to have the one great merit that year after year, Parliament after Parliament, one side is going to reverse the legislation of the other. The Preamble was drawn up with the obvious intention of meeting the different opinions among the party opposite. It was drawn up in order to make hon. Members who call themselves moderate Liberals believe that they were very shortly going to repeal thin Bill and substitute for it an effective and reformed Second Chamber. That was the way they induced the hon. Member for Leeds—who made a speech on the Preamble the other night which rather impressed me—to support this Bill. He said that he and his Friends were pledged to deal with the question of a reformed Second Chamber in the present Parliament, and added that the country would say, if you do not deal with it, "you had the power of reconstructing the Second Chamber in your hands, and you did not avail yourselves of it." By means of this Preamble Members like the hon. Member for Leeds were roped into the Radical camp. On the other hand, the Bill was drawn up in such a way as to make hon. Members below the Gangway, because they knew—[An HON. MEMBER: "No."]—what is it you do not know? I thought you knew everything—it would be impossible at any future time to go back on the decisions at which we have arrived now. This sort of arrangement, of course, was made to meet hon. Gentlemen both below and above the Gangway opposite. I should not mind it so much if hon. Gentlemen who call themselves moderate Liberals, Imperialists, Churchmen, and all the rest of it, occasionally showed the courage of their opinions, and by their votes let us 1747 see that they are prepared to support their opinions, and that they are not always ready to give way to the extremists below the Gangway, who push them from one side or the other.
I ask the House to try, not merely to understand the feelings of the party opposite, but to try to understand the feelings of the country on this question. I grant you that the feelings of the country, so far as I can gauge them, are opposed to the idea of a Second Chamber composed of men who sit there merely because they are the sons of their fathers. That, I believe, is the feeling of the country, a feeling which I personally share. The men whom I wish to see there are those who have served their country, and are still willing and able to serve it. That is what I believe the country wishes to see. But it is perfectly clear that this Bill does nothing to advance that course, but a good deal to retard it as far as I can see. Let hon. Members opposite try for a moment to take their eyes off the party machine, and look a little further ahead and see what the people of the country demand. What they demand is an effective Second Chamber, not composed of men sitting there because they are the sons of their fathers, but of men who have shown their aptitude to serve the State. Let hon. Members at this the eleventh hour endeavour to arrive at a solution which would be in agreement with the view held by the majority of the people of this country, and not to try for a Second Chamber such as no other countries have got, in the hope that they may pass Home Rule, or Welsh Disestablishment, or other measures, which are opposed to the will of the majority. Let them look to the future, and to the opinion of the great majority of the people, and then they will still, I think, have a chance of passing a measure which will settle this question in a manner which will be fair to all parties, fair to everybody, whether in this House or the other House, or in the country, and so fair that it would last under all emergencies, and, if possible, for all time.
Mr. LLEWELYN WILLIAMS
We are now within two hours of the culmination of this Debate, yet there are only some eight or nine hon. Gentlemen present on the other side. [An HON. MEMBER: "And five on yours."] But you are resisting this measure, and there are only eight or nine hon. Members on your side present. The hon. and learned Member who moved the rejection of this Bill has not been here for 1748 the last three hours. The Leader of the Opposition has gone; I do not know whether he will reappear before the Division. [An HON. MEMBER "Where is the Prime Minister?"] And this is a great revolution, we are told. It is not only the appearance of the House at the present moment, but it is the whole character of the Debate this afternoon which shows that the fight is out of the Opposition. After two General Elections, which turned mainly on this question, they recognise that the country is behind this Bill, and that the country will not be satisfied until it becomes law. I was very much struck by the valuable admissions of the hon. and learned Member (Mr. F. E. Smith) to the House, in his very interesting speech this afternoon. He began in his first sentence by making one admission which I thought did away with a great deal of the talk to which we have been treated by hon. Gentlemen on the other side. He started by saying that it was impossible for him now to add anything or to advance any new argument against or for the Bill because he said his hon. Friends around him in the prolonged discussions which had taken place during the Committee stage had exhausted every argument, and he could only gather the arguments and weave them together into a coherent whole.
What becomes, therefore, of the taunt which is levelled against the Government so often on country platforms, that we are rushing this Bill through without adequate discussion, when even so ingenious a member of the party opposite as the hon. and learned Member for Walton found to-day that it was impossible for him to advance any argument which had not been used in some shape or other before. Having started with that valuable admission, the hon. and learned Gentleman ended in a peroration of great power and eloquence by an admission even more important. He admitted that if this Bill becomes law so far will it be easy for the Government to pass say a Home Rule Bill that the powers granted to the House of Lords by this Bill by this Government and the Liberal party and the coalition will be so great that it will be almost impossible to pass a Home Rule Bill or Welsh Disestablishment Bill, or any such measure. He drew a very gloomy picture of what would be in store for the Liberal party once this Bill became law. I notice that there was an undercurrent and an assumption all through his speech that the Bill was going to become law, and to become law very 1749 soon. There was some vague suggestion of a threat. Anyone who heard the hon. and learned Gentleman's speech, and listened to it carefully, must have come to the conclusion that he who aspires, I suppose, to be the future leader of the Tory party, takes an absolutely different view of this Bill from the present Leader of the Opposition. If, therefore, this Bill does increase the difficulty in the way of passing Radical legislation into law, how on earth can it be said that this Bill establishes Single-Chamber Government? The two arguments that are constantly used by hon. Gentlemen on the other side are mutually destructive.
The hon. and learned Gentleman went on to say that if no compromise were possible to-day, and if the Government refused to come to terms with the Opposition, and if, I suppose, they refused to accept Lord Lansdowne's proposal which the hon. and learned Gentleman in an interview with the Press claimed partly as his own, that if they refused the Bill proposed in the other House, then he threatened us with something much worse. I confess I listened with some anxiety to what he was going to threaten us with. He said: "If you do not accept that as a compromise, then I, for my part, am going in for an elective Second Chamber." Very well, we on this side would welcome the hon. and learned Gentleman's support in that matter. We are tired of these fancy and whimsical reconstructions of the House of Lords, born in moments of panic, not brought out, never placed before the country, and no one knows, not even hon. Gentlemen opposite, how much support Lord Lansdowne's proposals will have even in the House of Lords itself. I see only in this morning's "Times" newspaper a letter from Lord Wemyss in which he repudiated the whole of the proposals. One of the reasons that I have for supporting the Government's proposals is that, at all events, we are proceeding slowly and on sure ground in following the Government's legislation, whereas we would be taking a leap in the dark if we took Lord Lansdowne's proposals, or any of the other proposals—the Referendum, a foreign immigrant, a Joint Session, and so on. The Referendum is a foreign immigrant, like Tariff Reform.
Mr. LLEWELYN WILLIAMS
In this proposal there is no tampering with the constitution of the House of Lords, which 1750 is a matter of very grave importance, and a matter that will become of urgent importance by and by, and a matter that ought to be calmly and carefully discussed before throwing the Constitution into the melting-pot. For at least 500 years the House of Lords has existed in this country based on the hereditary principle as far as the Peers are concerned. Ever since the days of Richard II. that has been the basis on which the House of Lords has been constituted, arid great political writers have always claimed, and it has been their proud boast, that the Peerage of England stands in a different category from the nobility of any other country in the world. They point out that in other countries the nobility are a social caste, whereas in England the Peerage constitutes an office under the Crown, and that a Peer cannot share his office with a single Member of his family, whereas foreign nobilities formed a social order of their own, in which their children participated. It has been the proud boast of those writers, and hon. Gentlemen opposite, that the peerage in England did constitute very real public service, because it associated men of great wealth and men of high rank and great territorial influence with the public laws. I remember the Noble Lord the Member for the University of Oxford last year making a speech here, in which he blessed his stars that he had been born in a country where the dustmen, as he whimsicially put it, did their work more conscientiously because every baby that was born a duke was born a legislator. I do not know how many dukes there are, but if Lord Lansdowne's proposals are to be adopted at least one-half of those dukes will no longer have seats in the House of Lords, and it will not be true any longer to say that every baby born a duke is a born legislator. Why should this be done? Why should the backwoodsmen be deprived of their lawful rights by hon. Members opposite? What have they done? Is it because they threw out the Education Bill of 1906. Why, I thought they were entitled to the eulogy of the country for having rid the country of bad Radical legislation?
Is it because they threw out the Licensing Bill? If that be so, then the first man to be excluded should be Lord Lansdowne, because he was the head and front of the offending, if there was any offence. It was he who convened the private meeting in Lansdowne House, in "a famous house in a famous square," as Lord Rosebery put it, and it was he who advised them to throw out the Licensing Bill. Is it for that the 1751 backwoodsmen are going to be sacrificed? Is it because they threw out the Budget of 1909? Everybody knows that the people who were really responsible for throwing out the Budget were not the Leader of the Opposition and Lord Lansdowne, but Lord Milner and Lord Curzon; and yet under Lord Lansdowne's proposals the two men who are certain to be included in the reformed House of Lords will not be two poor backwoodsmen, but Lord Milner and Lord Curzon, because they have been consuls, and indifferent consuls at best, in different parts of the world. If hon. Gentlemen opposite are correct in what they say, that the House of Lords, in throwing out one Bill after another in the 1906 Parliament, were only interpreting the real wishes of the electors of the country, there is no reason whatever why they should be deprived of their hereditary rights. If I were sitting on that side of the House, I would form a league to preserve the wild Peers. That is what this Bill proposes to do. It limits their functions, but it does not interfere with their right to sit in the House of Lords. I do not profess that that state of things will always be satisfactory to Members on this side; but the alteration of a Constitution which has come down to us for five hundred years intact and unimpaired—you are trying to dig it up by the roots—is a matter which ought to be earnestly and gravely considered, not in order to stave off what you may consider to be an inconvenient movement on the part of the Government, not in order to form a Second Chamber which will give to the Tory party whatever happens a majority in the House of Lords, but to bring about a change that will stand the test of time. You cannot legislate like that in a hurry. The very proposals that Lord Lansdowne has introduced after months of anxious discussion, which are already dead, which have been repudiated in "The Times" this morning by one Noble Lord, and will be repudiated by others when once they are understood, show that you must take time and care before you introduce a change in the constitution of the Second Chamber.
Another reason why I support this Bill is that everyone admits that there is a real grievance to be met. We all remember the famous and remarkable letter which the hon. and learned Member for the Walton Division (Mr. F. E. Smith) wrote to "The Times" last year. I do not believe that any fair-minded man of that side of the House fails to see that we on this side 1752 have a real grievance. Everyone in his heart of hearts must acknowledge that. The question is, how is that evil to be met and remedied? There are only two proposals before the country: One is the proposal of the Government; the other is the proposal of Lord Lansdowne. The grievance is that, however great our majority in the House of Commons may be, as in the 1906 Parliament, we are met by a permanent majority in the House of Lords. It does not matter how well thought out our legislation may be, it is either mutilated or delayed, or destroyed at the other end of the corridor. As long as the House of Lords is constituted as at present, and as long as its functions remain as at present, that evil will endure. The Government's proposals, at any rate, meet the evil and remedy the grievance. It is all very well to say that it is wily an incomplete remedy. So it is; but if we on this side are satisfied for the present with an incomplete remedy, surely it is not for hon. Members opposite to be dissatisfied. What about the other proposals? Do they in any degree meet the real evil? Lord Lansdowne himself has admitted, as also did the hon. and learned Member for the Walton Division this afternoon, that in this Parliament, when we have a majority of 120 in the House of Commons, there would be, on the most favourable computation, a standing majority of eighteen against us in the House of Lords. Does any fair - minded man say that that really meets the evil of which we complain? The proposals of the Government do meet the case. They do help Liberal legislation to become law. Therefore, on practicable grounds, as well as on sentimental grounds, I am in favour of the Bill.
One hon. Member opposite spoke as if the Government were trying to impair or destroy the Prerogative of the Crown. What amazes me, if anything could amaze me coming from the revolutionary party of Jacobins on the other side, is the facility with which they are willing not only to throw the British Constitution into the melting pot, but to take away the Prerogative of the Crown as well. Lord Lansdowne issued a memorandum after he had delivered his speech, in which he mentioned one of the most remarkable points, in his proposals, namely, that henceforth, after his Bill became law, the Prerogative of the Crown was to be lessened, and that not more than five new peerages were to be conferred in any one year. If that does not interfere with the Prerogative of the 1753 Crown, I do not know what does. This is what, as a matter of fact, has happened. Hon. Members opposite, after months and months of deliberation, have come to the conclusion that nothing matters, the Prerogative of the Crown may go, the historic Constitution of the House of Lords may be broken up, everything may go, as long as hon. Gentlemen opposite have a majority in the Second Chamber. The country has twice pronounced on this Bill and given it its approval, and I am glad to think that the Government are determined to carry the matter to an issue. The day for compromise has gone, last year there was a chance, now when we have gone to the country and had had our Referendum on the Bill—[Laughter.] If ever there was a Referendum in this country, surely it was last year. I cannot understand what hon. Members opposite believe the House of Commons is for. According to them, the House of Commons is not competent to deal with the House of Lords; it is not competent to deal with Home Rule; it is not competent to deal with Welsh Disestablishment; it is not competent to deal with Scottish land legislation. What are we competent for? What are all the turmoil, expense, and trouble of a General Election for? I called hon. Members Jacobins just now; they are worse than that. They believe in no sort of Govern-anent at all.
The House of Commons is the glory of England. It is the greatest thing that England has given to the world. It has been copied by every civilised country in the world. Let me remind hon. Gentlemen that when we talk of representative institutions we do not mean the House of Lords. The House of Lords has been copied by no country in the world. What we mean by representative Government is the House of Commons, and the House of Commons alone—the House of Commons as representing the people of this country. The House of Commons is the modern exemplar of all representative Governments in the world. It is the glory and it used to be the proud boast of Englishmen that they had given something to the world which had added to the sum of human happiness, because it enabled Government to proceed by discussion and not by force. I listened to hon. Gentlemen, who ought to have been proud of their country's institutions, deriding and belittling this ancient Assembly. It must be one thing or the other now that the issue has been raised. As Mr. Gladstone pointed out many years ago, when once the question of the pre- 1754 dominance of the House of Lords or the House of Commons has come to an issue, the issue must go forward until one or the other House remains. Hon. Gentlemen opposite and their Friends in the House of Lords has brought about this unhappy conflict. It must go on now. The House of Commons cannot, with self-respect, withdraw from the contest. I am glad that at this hour of our need we have in the Prime Minister a Leader who has led us on to victory, and who will have the thanks of the country for what he has done for them.
§ Mr. C. H. DIXON
I have noted with pleasure the kindness and consideration with which this House treats a Member when he rises to address it for the first time. I am quite certain that hon. Members on the other side will treat me with, perhaps, even more consideration than they have others when they know that after waiting so long to address a few observations to the House the misgivings with which I rise. Sitting through the last Parliament and this, quietly listening to the Debates without taking part in them, I am sorry to say that on the first occasion I rise I am obliged to say that, in my judgment, the party opposite deal with this great question too much from party considerations, although we have heard so much about the people and the voice of the people. If it had been out of consideration for the people, and for the good of this country as a whole, and not as a party matter, would hon. Gentlemen opposite have told hon. Gentlemen on this side that they on the opposite side only represented the voice of the people., although we on this maintain that we represent a half, and that not the least half, of the people of this country? Would they have remained silent during these great Debates, although they spoke so freely at other times? One would think it was only some meagre party measure for vote-catching, rather than the greatest question that this country, let alone this House, has ever had to consider. We are asked, when the people have returned this party twice to power, if it is not proved that the people are in favour of this measure. We are told that it is to curb the tyranny of the House of Lords. That tyranny, after all, is only the power of the House of Lords to delay measures, or to amend them, and to give the country, in the end, more time to consider them. The only power they possess is to refer measures back to the people, so that the people's voice may be clear.
1755 This House of Lords, at any rate, has no power to impose any law upon the people until the people's voice has been asked. The tyranny of the House of Lords is, we know, no tyranny, because the action of the House of Lords has to have the sanction of the people. In its place, although you told the electors you were getting rid of the tyranny of the House of Lords, you propose to set up the greatest tyranny that this country has ever seen, or is likely to see—the tyranny of an unchecked House of Commons. That will be complete, and that is where the difference is. You are going to get rid of the tyranny of the House of Lords which does not exist, and you are introducing in its place a real tyranny, because you will be able to pass laws and inflict them on the people whether they wish it or not. We have heard that you have your mandate. I think we have a right to ask, How did you get it? Every Member must know, as I know—I will not accuse Radical candidates, because I have been exceptionally well treated in every campaign I have fought by my Radical opponents, and I have, fought five campaigns in ten years—not a bad record ! But I refer to the Radical canvasser. I have been into nearly every house in my Constituency. I have followed the Radical canvasser. I do not blame him, but I would ask hon. Members opposite: If you were poor, and had a large family, and a clever, crafty Radical canvasser told you that your food would cost you more if you voted for the Conservatives, is it not more than likely that you would vote for the Radicals? The wonder to me is that any Conservative Member was returned to this House. It speaks much for the good sense of the English people against the misrepresentations and the clever, crafty, subtle attractions of the Radical canvasser. There are dozens of hon. Gentlemen opposite who would never have been here at all if it had not been for the cry: "Your food will cost you more." That is your mandate if you want to know it.
There is another, "Peer versus People." On the picture a bloated Peer, and one of the most lascivious I ever saw was pictured. I think since the Chinese-in-chains poster scandal the most iniquitions thing that has ever been put out by a great party in this country to deceive the electorate was the poster to which I refer. Underneath the picture of the Peer were the words: "It is your food we want to tax." There you have your mandate. All these are things 1756 which we know you know much better than we do, or quite as well, but these are things which it is very hard indeed to bring home to you. I quite admit there is a desire in the country for some reform of the House of Lords. But I am not going to give way for a single moment on the issue, because the House of Lords has done nothing to need reform. I do not believe that for one moment the people desire it. Who can be surprised at the people desiring it after the tornado of oratory from the Home Secretary? When they are told these things they believe them. It is not altogether to be wondered at that the electors believe that the House of Lords is as iniquitous an assembly as you pretend to make it out to be. When the hon. Member who has jut sat down was saying all he did about the House of Lords I could only be surprised that any hon. Member should get up in this House and so belittle a great assembly of Englishmen —I will not say legislators, but Englishmen. One might have thought they were criminals or undesirable aliens. Hon. Members must remember that although they may not agree with the House of Lords the House of Lords is the highest assembly of Englishmen, an assembly which the best of their party are only too anxious to get into. If there is a great reward for doing even what your consciences tell you not to do, it is by the Prime Minister sending you up to the Second Chamber. I am surprised that hon. Gentlemen should so speak of the House of Lords as if they were not fit to be men entrusted with the destinies of this great country. I only hope that when hon. Gentlemen on the Labour Benches snatch the Government of this country from the Liberal party and take the Government of this great Empire into their hands they will look after the honour of England as well and hand it down as bright and untarnished as it has been all through the reign of the House of Lords and House of Commons in combination. The Government say they have a mandate for this Bill. I was surprised the other night to hear the Prime Minister say they got a mandate for many other measures. They got a mandate by all sorts of side issues. If I were a Radical candidate I would undertake to beat almost any Conservative candidate if I had to go to lengths which my conscience would not allow me to go. That is the way hon. Gentlemen opposite got a mandate. I am bound to say very few people knew the ins and outs of this Bill. Most of us did not know them until we heard 1757 them debated in this House. We did not know all its intricacies, and how could the people of England be expected to know them if hon. Members themselves did not understand them at the time?
The question of Home Rule was particularly cited by the Prime Minister the other night. May I ask when this great question was put before the people? The Chief Secretary for Ireland is one of the few Cabinet Ministers who is supposed to know all about the needs of Ireland, and he did not mention it, I am told. One would have thought this great question of Home Rule would have been explained very fully to the people. Was it explained to the electors? Was the financial side of it put before the electors of England? Were they told that they would have to give several millions of English money to Ireland in order to put the hon. and learned Member for Waterford (Mr. Redmond) in a position to spend that money, so as to put their Nonconformist brethren under his heel and under the heel of the United Irish League? Were the Nonconformists of England told that they would have to give their hard-earned money to Ireland in order that the hon. and learned Member for Waterford might do what he liked to put the Nonconformists of Ireland and the Loyalists of Ireland under pressure. If I know anything of the people of England, the good sense of the nation will rise up against putting the Loyalists of Ireland in the power of the hon. and learned Member for Waterford and the United Irish League. I am quite certain of this much, that if Home Rule had been known to be desired by the electors, the Home Secretary with his great acumen, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer with his great flow of language, would have used that question all over the country to inspire the English people to return them to power. Did they ever use that argument? I do not remember any such occasion.
Although you are tampering with the English Constitution now, which is a dangerous thing at any time, it is more dangerous than ever now. I am told that tomorrow you are going to bring in a measure for the payment of Members of Parliament. I know the difficulty which Members of the working classes find in coming to Parliament, and any reasonable means of getting over that difficulty would have my sympathy. I read some time ago a speech by the junior Member for Merthyr Tydvil (Mr. Keir Hardie), and he said that payment of Members might 1758 bring in an inferior class of men into politics. I am not quoting his words, but that is the substance of what he said. He was alarmed at the result the payment of Members might have, and if such a project makes the hon. Member for Merthyr feel a little nervous, surely other hon. Members are justified in feeling nervous. If you are going to give unbridled and unchecked power to this House at the same time that you pay Members of Parliament, then a class of those clever gentlemen who never did much before may get into Parliament and use that salary as a means of keeping them here, while they attempt to pass measures they never would have done under other circumstances. It so happens that at this moment, when you are passing the Third Reading of this Bill, you are on the eve of bringing in another dangerous measure. It is possible to bring Members into this House tempted by a good salary but not possessed with the same conscience and love of country as hon. Members have now. You may think it safe to carry this measure because it is safe in your hands, but in years to come if hon. Members are returned more careless than you they may use this measure to pass laws of which this House might be ashamed. If that be so, it is you yourselves who will be responsible for measures carried in the future with the aid of this Bill you are passing to-night.
§ Mr. WALTER LONG
I am sorry to intervene between so many hon. Gentlemen on both sides who desire to speak, but there is a further word or two to be said from this Bench, and owing to the arrangements for which we are not responsible, it is necessary that those few words should be said now. Others who have spoken tonight have reminded the House of the fact that they have constantly during these Debates addressed the House, and that naturally it is very difficult to find anything new to say. If my right hon. Friend and others who are far better able to address this House than I am find themselves in that position, then I must be in a worse position still. I have, however, no compunction whatever in saying what I have to say, for two reasons. In the first place, it was the dictum of the late Sir William Harcourt that if you hold an opinion strongly you do right to express yourself more than once, even if you run the risk of being accused of iteration. In the second place, having been, as I have been, a regular attendant during these Debates, and having followed the whole course of this 1759 Bill from the commencement to the last stages, I am, if possible., more firmly convinced than ever as to the rightness of the course pursued by those on this side of the House, and of the dangers of the course which the Government have adopted.
Although I cannot hope that anything that will be said to-night will be likely to induce the Government to alter their course of action, I believe it is nothing less than the simple duty of everybody who holds similar views to my own on this question to express them clearly and courageously on this, the last occasion when we shall have an opportunity of expressing our views upon this Bill. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Boston (Mr. Dixon) appealed at the commencement of his speech for the indulgence of the House, but he very soon gave proof of the possession of powers of speech of no mean order, and at least ire showed that he has the courage of his opinions. I congratulate him on his first speech, and I hope he will often take part in our Debates. My hon. Friend dealt with the assertion—so often made on the other side of the House and repeated to-night by the Prime Minister—that the party. opposite and the Government had from the constituencies a mandate for this Bill. I listened to the speech of the Prime Minister with great interest, but with some little surprise, because he repeated the statement to-night with additional force and emphasis that the country gave the Government at the last election a distinct mandate for this Bill.
I have never denied that this Bill in its entirety was before the country at the last election. Personally I am no believer in this doctrine of mandate, but when I am asked to believe that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite in their speeches, and during their canvass took the electors into their confidence as to the details of this Bill, I must be permitted to express very respectfully some little doubt as to the fulness with which the subject was brought before the electors. Allowing that they may have done so, and that hon. Gentlemen did not talk about dear food, but dwelt at length upon this Bill, is there anybody, from the Prime Minister downwards, who, when taking the country into their confidence, and asking for their mandate, thought it necessary to go as far as the Prime Minister did to-night, and say that part of the Bill which refers to the reconstitution of the House of Lords, if not dealt 1760 with in this Parliament, would be be dealt with by a future Parliament? If the Government had a man-date it was not a mandate for this Bill in parts, but for the Bill as a whole. It is almost absurd for hon. Members opposite to be constantly quoting from our speeches when they cannot show speeches of their own in the direction I have indicated. When challenged they fall back on the speeches of my right hon. Friend and other Members of our party.
What was the answer to those speeches? That the charges we were bringing against the Government were without foundation, that our statements were the result of our imagination; and when we told them that the Preamble meant nothing, but was only there for show to satisfy the consciences of those who had expressed strong views of the bi-cameral system, we were told there is the Preamble and this is what it means. Have they got a complete mandate for this measure? Did they say it was impossible to deal with the Preamble in this Parliament, and that it would be dealt with in the next Parliament? The view taken of the proposals of the Government by most of their friends was that a reform of the House of Lords would follow upon the reform of the powers of the House of Lords. We know now beyond a question of doubt that the reform of the House of Lords is not to go hand in hand, or even to follow closely upon the passage of this Bill, but it is to be postponed to the latter end of this Parliament, and more probably to another Parliament altogether. As the Prime Minister told us, this is what he regards as a debt of honour which is to be discharged in all probability by his successors. This is a new view of the liability which we call a debt of honour, and it would have been more in conformity with what the country expects if the second part of the proposal of the Government had followed closely upon the first part. The Prime Minister spoke very strongly about the attitude of those upon this side of the House who have ventured to throw any doubt upon the bona fides of the Government's intention in regard to the Preamble. It is not only lion. Gentlemen on this side of the House who have expressed themselves strongly on this point. I am going to quote some language which I think is as strong as language can be. I am quoting from a speech reported in "The Times" of 15th April last by the Lord Advocate—
§ Mr. LONG
The Lord Advocate said:—Reform of the House of Lords was the purest moonshine and humbug. One of the institutions in the State was false; it could not be improved. Therefore let hem sweep it away as an encumberer of the ground.What right has the Prime Minister to find fault with us if we express doubts as to the bona fides of the Government if this is a view of a Member of the Cabinet who speaks for the Cabinet outside this House a great deal oftener than any other Member of the Government? What is the value of this Preamble in the opinion of the Lord Advocate? Is that the opinion of the Government, or is it only the personal opinion of the Lord Advocate, or is it exactly contrary to the views held by the Primo Minister and his colleagues? If so, how is it that the Lord Advocate, after expressing this very clear view, still remains a Member of His Majesty's Government?
We believe, not only that this Bill is wrong and not only that it is an outrage upon our Constitution, but we also believe it has been conceived and passed in a spirit of partisanship, pure and simple. The Prime Minister to-night, when challenged by my hon. and learned Friend (Mr. F. E. Smith), reminded us that there had been a Conference, and that it was not until after the Conference that the Government proceeded with their policy. I admit that. I am not dealing at all with the proceedings which preceded the introduction of the Bill into this House, but I say, without fear of contradiction, and as one who has watched these proceedings as closely as anybody could watch them, that throughout the whole of the discussion of this Bill in our House the spirit which has actuated the Government in. their treatment of our proposals and in their replies to our arguments has been the spirit of party, and not the spirit of pure patriotism. We have made several proposals, and amongst others Joint Conferences, Joint Sessions, and the Referendum have been referred to. I want to say this about Joint Sessions. Many of us have advocated this proposal because we hold, as has been said On many previous occasions, that at all events until the reform of the House of Lords is established you are taking, by this Bill, the powers for this House of a Single Chamber. We have contended that two things ought to be done. You ought to make a great and a real effort to get rid of those occasions which lead to a difference between the two Houses without having recourse to the violent methods proposed by this Bill. It 1762 is within the experience of almost everybody who has been engaged in any sort of business, whether it be political or any other kind that two parties, holding different views, press their own view with great strength and determination and hold very often very uncomplimentary opinions of their opponents. So long as they are kept apart, each discussing in their own assembly their own particular view, there is very little chance of common agreement. Bring the contending parties together in one room, and let them meet each other and discuss with each other, and it is wonderful how, upon occasion after occasion, differences disappear. The two sides realise things are not so bad as they thought they were, and an agreement is arrived at.
Take our own experience in this House. Men come down here and across the floor of the House are at each others throats day after day, and would never think of coming to an agreement, but when they go to the Grand Committee room and discuss things in a different way, differences disappear, and an agreement is arrived at. We believe this was one of the changes you ought to introduce as a part of this Bill, and many of us believe it would have led to a solution of a great many, if not all of our difficulties if it had been adopted. Why was it declined? It was declined because, as it was said, it was absurd to bring the two Houses together. The overwhelming forces of the House whose majority is against "our party and our views," as hon. Gentlemen put it, would overwhelm the Members of this House. That was no objection to the proposal at all. If the Government had adopted the principle, it would have been open to them—I venture to say there would have been found no difficulty in securing its adoption—to make a proposal as to numbers which would have got rid altogether of that objection. They refused that, as every other proposal, not because they tried to show conference itself was bad and not because they tried to show it was unworkable, but because they said it would be unfair to "our party and to our party's interest," and therefore we will not take it.
I find myself in good company with my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition and my hon. and learned Friend behind me, who both of them said they are quite unable to understand the attitude of the Prime Minister in regard to the Referendum. He took, as the latest example to fortify his refusal to, accept it, the case of 1763 Australia. My hon. and learned Friend has already shown that one part of the Prime Minister's answer was destroyed, because the Australian Government do not resign, nor do they regard it as the destruction of their power of legislation and of administration. What did the Prime Minister's answer come to? He told us the Referendum was impossible. Why? Because the Government, having been returned to office and proceeding to introduce legislation, may receive a check at the hands of the people in its first year of office. Is not this an extraordinary argument to come from the Prime Minister, the Leader of a party who specially claim they represent the people? From whom did the check come in Australia? From whom would the check come here if we adopted the Referendum? It would not come from a particular party, but from the people themselves, who, having the power, would, as they did in Australia, express their disapproval to the legislation the Government have proposed.
I appeal to those who have been many years Members of this House—I am confident no man who has ever been in office will dispute the truth of what I am saying —whether, however fresh you may come from the constituencies, however great may be the trouble you put yourself to in order to ascertain exactly what is the legislation and the precise form of legislation that is desired, it is not open to, and whether it does not often happen that the Government make mistakes and introduce their legislation in a form which the people do not require. Then the Prime Minister said, if they are allowed to express their opinion the Government would receive a severe rebuff. I ask this House which is the greatest evil of the two — that the Government should receive a rebuff from which I doubt not any Government would soon recover, or that round the necks of the people of this country should be placed legislation which will he injurious to them, of which at the very start they disapprove, and which, if they were given the opportunity by the Referendum, they would reject? I do not share the view of the Prime Minister that the rebuff to the Government would be so, great. But even if that be so, if the Government is to be Weakened, if its power for the future is to be lessened, surely it is far better that that disaster—if the Prime Minister so regars it—should occur, than that by mistaken action, although with the best intentions, legislation shall be passed with- 1764 out any chance of its reversal in another place—legislation to which the people themselves may object not only when they come to experience it, but at the very time it is being pased into law.
The Prime Minister reminded us that there were certain safeguards in the Bill. He said, "We do not want the Joint Sessions, and we do not want the Rererendum, because there are the safeguards relating to the two years and the re-passing of the Bill in the second and third Sessions." I have said before outside this House and in it, that I regard these two years in the matter of safeguards as absolute shams and delusions. The Prime Minister said to-night and the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil asked the other night: Is it conceivable that any Government would pass a Bill through the second and third stages when they had discovered it was unpopular? I venture to say that, under the practice which is here being created for future Governments, the Government would in nine cases out of ten have no chance of dropping such a measure. What will be the practice after this Bill comes ito law. The legislation which the greater proportion of the party in office favour would find its way first on the Statute Book. Is it conceivable that the Government is going to be allowed to put that legislation on one side even though in the opinion of a section of their followers it is regarded as unpopular? They will not be able to carry other legislation which may be essential to their career unless they keep their followers in sympathy with them by pushing on the Bills waiting to go through the stage of the second and third Sessions.
This Session we have only, one Bill before us—only one measure of first-rate importance. What other time is there? The Prime Minister tells us there is great security; but supposing this Bill were law and we were discussing the first great controversial measure of the Government. Let the House ask itself what time there would be in that Session for the discussion of Bills going through their second and third Sessions Would they not have to be taken as mere formal stages? I do not care what the intentions of the Government may be. I have no doubt they are the very best. But I say without hesitation that you will find that Bills which have passed their first Session and are waiting to go through their second and third Session stages will have mere formal stages. There would, in fact, be no opportunity in this House for such an expres- 1765 sion on the part of the supporters of the Government as would enable the Government, to abandon them or withdraw from the position they had already taken up.
Some of the speakers opposite have said: "We demand this legislation because the Liberal party have never had fair play." I venture to think the real reason why the party opposite find themselves in the position they believe they are now in is because they have tried to pass legislation which has not been in the best interests of the people and which has not had behind it a real volume of public opinion. Reference has been made to the Education and Licensing Bills. Do the Government want this Bill in order to pass their Insurance Bill? Do they want it in order to pass a reform of the Poor Law system, or to pass a Bill dealing with the housing of the working classes? Do they want it for any one of these purposes? Do they not know as well as I know that all these measures would pass through the House of Lords as easily as through this House? Do they not also know that in all probability they would receive in the House of Lords very useful consideration, and that many practical suggestions would be made upon them? It is not for legislation of that kind that the Government want to pass this Bill. It is not to pass those measures of social reform of which they talk so much. It is not for purposes of this kind, but it is to pass legislation of a very different, character. The Government have talked to-night about their Education Bill. But see how differently the Government in South Africa dealt with the Education question. There they brought together the contending parties who arrived at a common agreement. As to your Education Bill, which you say forms part of your ground for passing this measure, how would that have improved the educational system of this country? Would that have sent the children away any better equipped for the battle of life than they are now? No, it was simply a Bill which did not deal with education, but struck a blow at the great churches which had provided education when there were no other means of obtaining it. Then your Licensing Bill. Does anybody believe that that was a great measure of social reform? I know there is a small band or body of opinion in the country—quite honest, quite sincere—who believe, so far as I can judge by their speeches, that all the virtues of Heaven are to be found in a glass of water and all the evils of Hell in 1766 a glass of beer. They no doubt believe that the Licensing Bill would have been a measure of social reform, but beyond that small minority I do not believe that there is any large body of opinion in this House or out of it who regard the Licensing Bill as a species of social reform. Those are the measures for which you want the powers for which you ask, and those are the measures upon the rejection or amendment of which you base your whole claim for the extension of these extraordinary powers. There is another measure more extraordinary than these, a measure which has been rejected twice, once by this and once by the other House, and which has been rejected on innumerable occasions by the electorate. I believe that the Government and their supporters who are in favour of this measure think that the same fate will overtake it again if they brought it in under existing conditions, and they have demanded these powers in order that they may pass Home Rule.
They wax very angry with us when they are told that this mandate that they are so fond of talking about was not given them for Home Rule. I have heard something about reckless declarations. I am not going to refer now to addresses, though I am bound to say that, going back for thirty years of Parliamentary history and elections in this country, I find it amazing, with all the profound respect and admiration, let me frankly say, that I entertain for the distinguished statesman who is now Prime Minister—I find it impossible to understand how, if the Government really intended the country to realise that Home Rule was to be passed into law as the first result of this Bill—any Prime Minister, far less one so distinguished as the present Prime Minister, could have gone to the country with an address which did not contain more or less reference to the measure which was to be the first-fruits of this legislation. But we may take it as he has put it, that it was left out of the address, not because they did not think so much of it as that it was unnecessary to mention it. We will assume that was the reason, but, what was the action of the Government—and this, in my humble opinion, is far more significant and has a far truer bearing upon this question than any point about addresses—what was the first action of the Government? Their first action was to appoint a Committee. To do what? To inquire into the financial relations between Great Britain and Ireland as component parts of 1767 the United Kingdom. So by their own confession, pledged to Home Rule, determined to consider it, having had at least a whole year to think it over, they had not even approached the consideration of the most difficult part of the problem to this country, and to the rest of the United Kingdom, the most important part, the solution of the great financial difficulties which proved such a stumbling-block to Mr. Gladstone, which they knew must prove a stumbling-block to them. It may be true, as they say, that they took the country into their confidence as to Home Rule, and told them what they meant. It is extraordinary that they were able to do so, seeing that they did not know what they meant themselves. Home Rule, it is perfectly true, was occasionally mentioned, not very willingly. Generally the policy of hon. Gentleman opposite seems to be quite a new one. They base their mandates, not upon their addresses or their speeches, or their declarations of policy. They base their mandates, when they come back to power, upon the speeches of my right hon. Friend, and when they have exhausted his speeches, they base the rest of their policy upon questions put to them by hecklers. We have heard a good deal from hon. Gentlemen opposite about the ability and the wonderful powers of statesmanship possessed by their front Bench. We are often told how ashamed and miserable we ought to feel when we are compared with right hon. Gentlemen opposite. I am quite sure there is the fullest possible justification for the view they hold, but at the same time I can safely say that never during the long period of years that my right hon. Friend was responsible for leading our party, though we had difficulties to face of all kinds, were we driven either to take our policy from the speeches of our opponents or to derive our mandates from questions asked at public meetings.
Yet we are asked that the Government are entitled to have these special powers conferred under this Bill in order that they may pass a measure of Home Rule as to which they say they have a mandate from the country. It is impossible now, and this is not the occasion, to discuss this suggestion itself. I will only say that it seems to me to come with the worst possible grace from hon. Gentlemen opposite, who claim, as they have claimed to-day and on almost every occasion, that they represent as it has never been represented be-fare in this Parliament, the great Noncon- 1768 formist body in this country, to cast derision upon the declaration of the Unionists of the North of Ireland that they will resist Home Rule. My hon. and learned Friend (Mr. F. E. Smith) reminded the House that upon legislation passed in this House, legislation dealing with the question of education, hon. Gentlemen opposite and their friends in the country, led by no less a person than the Chancellor of the Fxchequer himself, have entered into and are carrying on to this day a violent campaign against the law, which they have resisted with all the power at their disposal. Since they have held that that attitude on their part is a righteous and a just one, even if they are not willing to listen to the demands of those who are their fellow religionists, they ought, at all events, remembering what they have done themselves, to be more sparing in their condemnation of the views expressed by men in Ireland who only ask for the same treatment that they ask for themselves, the same justice and the same freedom. They are as earnest and as determined as hon. Gentlemen and their friends are themselves. In my opinion this Bill is being passed not only by violent methods. It is being passed in haste and without that discussion which ought to be given to a question so grave. Above all, it is being passed in the interests of a party, and not in the interests of the country. The edifice that you are raising you are raising on foundations of sand. Assuredly you are building that which will not stand the test of time, which will not endure. As you act to-day in the interests of a party, so the time will come when your structure will be destroyed, and you will find that if you had acted to-day as true patriots rather than partisans you might possibly for the moment have got less applause and fewer cheers, but you would have done your work for the country and for the people in a better form than you are doing it now—a form which never can and never shall endure.
§ The SECRETARY of STATE for the HOME DEPARTMENT (Mr. Churchill)
After the long Debates of so many weeks, no one could have expected that any very novel or surprising argument could have been adduced on the Third Reading of the Parliament Bill, and the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Long) was so oppressed with this consideration that he supplemented the deficiency of the objections which he and his party feel to the measure now under discussion by entering upon, I 1769 admit, the more exciting and certainly less exploited field of Irish Home Rule. What we have to consider to-night is the Parliament Bill, and there are only two arguments which have been brought forward in the course of to-day's discussion which require a very brief reference from the Government Bench to-night. Both arguments have been adduced by the Leader of the Opposition. The first argument was that we had no mandate for this Bill, and the second was that it sets up Single-Chamber Government. I am always interested in the right hon. Gentleman's theories, and, as far as I could gather, his theory about mandates is this. It used to be that a General Election won by the Liberals only entitled them to settle one thing, but he has now improved upon that, and his theory now is that a General Election won by the Liberals decides nothing, and never could in any circumstances decide anything. Of course, if the Conservatives win, it obviously settles all outstanding questions, even questions which they have excluded and specifically debarred from the election. But when the Liberals get in, if any other issue is raised except one single specific issue, even if it, is by a canvasser in a cottage, that raises some extraneous matter, and the verdict is thereby vitiated, the whole virtue of it is thereby nullified, and no matter how explicit the declarations of the party leaders have been, the result is nothing. It is a, result which never could mean anything at all. The hon. Member for Anglesey (Mr. Ellis Griffith), in his excellent speech this afternoon, referred to the theory of the Leader of the Opposition as "One Bill, one election." That was the old theory, but the new theory is "Two elections, no Bill." I shall leave these conclusions in their original simplicity.
Let me now come to the Single-Chamber argument of the right hon. Gentleman, in which, I must say, he had considerable temerity to persist after the absolute destruction of that position by the hon. and learned Member of the Walton Division (Mr. F. E. Smith). If you consider the Parliament Bill alone, apart for the moment from the Preamble, and apart also from the death-blow which Lord Lansdowne is striking in another place, what will be the position in the House of Lords after this Bill is passed into law?, I venture to think that if they were not told by their party organs, nine Peers out of ten would not be conscious from their ordinary experiences that any change had taken place at all. These appearances are not 1770 entirely illusory. On the contrary there is a very great correspondence between the opinion which the average Peer would form, if not otherwise instructed, and the actual facts of the case. The powers retained by the House of Lords under the Parliament Bill will not merely be effectual, but, as I think has been borne in upon us every day we have discussed this matter, they will be formidable and even menacing.
The right hon. Gentleman who has just sat down described them as a sham and a. delusion. Let us test that for one moment by reference to the actual current of political events, Suppose that in the autumn of next year a Home Rule Bill reaches the House of Lords after the laborious and exhausting passage which it would have through the House of Commons. Does anyone suppose that the news that the House of Lords had determined to exercise upon it their suspensory veto would not be received with the most profound regret and concern by every single person who was interested in that measure. Of course it would be received with the deepest regret and concern. [An HON. MEMBER: "Rot."] The hon. Gentleman says "rot." He may no doubt be expressing what is in his own mind. Cannot everyone see that the Government would go to the utmost bounds of conciliation to avoid a misfortune of that character? And is not that fact in itself a measure of the real bargaining power and leverage which the House of. Lords would possess as regards legislation, so that while not having the power of absolute refusal they would have a considerable power of bargaining which would be far more proper to their position as a Second Chamber 7 And would not a judicious exercise of those powers enable the House of Lords to make considerable terms of special interest to them? It is just the same about other controversial measures which affect the ordinary programme of political parties. You would find that on each occasion an opportunity would be presented to the Second Chamber as great and no greater than their hold upon public opinion entitles them to. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of' the Opposition tells us that he regards as illusory are safeguards of delay and the three passages through the House which this Bill prescribes. He says that there is no influence of public opinion on the House, or if there is any influence of public opinion it only produces an effect the opposite to that intended; that if a Bill is unpopular the Government will say, "We 1771 must get that out of the way," and that the more unpopular it is the more determined the Government and the House will be to get it through. The logical extension of that argument is that if a measure is universally execrated by every human being in these islands it must be passed nemine contradicente. The right hon Gentleman is of an adventurous and even of a soaring disposition. Where does he get his theories from? Has he been to the moon?
But put aside controversial Bills, and take a great Bill that is non-controversial. Take Workmen's Compensation, and all those great subjects on which there are differences of method, but no difference of object and intentions between the parties. Is it not as certain that the delaying power which the House of Lords would exercise would be effective in a most extraordinary degree in procuring the modification which their own views and their own interests might suggest in such measures? As to Departmental Bills, brought forward by the heads of Departments, and which have to take their chance in an ordinary Session, can only say, having gone carefully over this Bill, that the House of Lords would exercise overwhelming powers over that class of legislation. Under this measure, while ceasing to have the responsibility and consequently the odium of the absolute Veto, they will retain a living and effective power, all the more effective because maintained within these reasonable limits, to mould and shape the laws of the country according to their views and interests, which are in the present state of things the views and interests of the Conservative party. And when we remember that these powers, so far as this Bill is concerned, will remain and be exercised by hereditary lords who are responsible to no constituency, will be exercised by them, although they nearly all belong to the Conservative party, will remain to be exercised by them after all the democratic victories of the last six years, I confess so far from feeling myself as participating in a revolution, I stand here not merely astonished at our moderation, but upon occasion I am almost aghast.
Then the right hon. Gentleman and his friends say, "What about the Preamble?" That is their star of hope. I have never been able to understand the view of the Opposition in regard to the Preamble. Of course, 1772 they will say that they have never been able to understand our view. But our view is perfectly clear and perfectly simple. We want a fair assembly—to interpret the Parliament Bill—and it is abundantly clear why we want it. And when we have got that fair assembly, I think it will be open to the House to consider, I think it will be necessary for the House to consider, whether there may not be a less dilatory and a more convenient method of adjusting differences. But when we say a less dilatory method we mean a less dilatory method for passing our Bills; and when we say a more convenient method, we mean a more convenient method for us. That is our position. But what is yours? What do you expect to get out of the Preamble? Hon. Gentlemen opposite appear to look upon the Preamble as if it was a sort of perquisite of theirs, a sort of compensation they are to receive to console them for the abolition of their Veto. They seem to think that it contains the means by which they will be able to retrieve the permanent and absolute ascendancy of which the Parliament Bill deprives them, and that under its shelter, or upon its basis, they will be able to build up some sort of House of Lords, or a similar body, which will take the place in the minds of the wealthy of the House of Commons of the early Victorian days, and will undo at a stroke not merely this Veto Bill, but the franchise extensions of 1867 and of 1885. Hope springs eternal in the human breast. Let us be perfectly frank and candid at this stage. We do not want the Parliament Bill for itself alone; we want it to carry our measures; we want it to carry measures which if they had been in a Conservative programme, would have been carried long ago. We have gone through this struggle to make sure that we shall have the power of carrying a measure within the lifetime of a single Parliament. Any change in the composition of the Second Chamber, still more any modification in the method of adjusting differences between the two Houses, we shall only assent to, if it makes it more easy for us, and not less easy, if it makes it more certain and not less certain that we shall be able to carry these specific acts of legislation into law.
Let us make our position at this last moment perfectly clear. We regard the Parliament Bill as marking a moderate, but at the same time a definite, advance in the democratic character of our institu- 1773 tions. We do not pretend that thereby we achieve political equality, but we do say that it is a real advance towards a condition of political equality as between all classes of His Majesty's subjects. We regard this measure as territory conquered by the masses from the classes. We regard it as a province won by the people in the two elections which have been fought upon it. It is a province which has been placed under the safeguard of the House of Commons, and it will never be surrendered, and it will never be exchanged unless for a more satisfactory equivalent. And no doubt much more satisfactory equivalents exist from our point of view, but it is not now within our power to command them. How could we embark on the discussions connected with the formation of an impartial Second Chamber while hon. Members opposite possess the final word in every discussion. How could we embark on that long pilgrimage and peregrination with an absolute Veto meeting us at the end of every avenue? If anything could convince us that the course we are embarked on is right it would be the absolute refusal of the right hon. Gentleman here before everyone this afternoon to answer the plain question put to him by the hon. and learned Member for Anglesey (Mr. Ellis Griffith), when he said to him: "Do you really mean to give us as good a chance or as bad a chance of passing our legislation as the Conservative party?" And the right hon. Gentleman sat silent. We must be placed on more even terms before we can embark on any such discussion as that. When we have placed the Parliament Bill on the Statute Book without addition or condition of any kind whatever, so far as principle is concerned, then, I admit, that the opportunity will be reached for our discussing those further steps. When that is achieved the position of parties will be altered. We shall not meet on equal terms. We do not pretend that. You will still possess important, most important, advantages, but both parties and both Houses will have something to gain and something to lose. Neither will be all-powerful, neither will be powerless. We shall be able to debate the future steps on terms which will not be derogatory to men on either side, and on terms which will not be unfair to the interests with which the representatives of both sides in this controversy are charged. The Conservative party will no longer be armed with the absolute Veto. The Liberal party 1774 will no longer represent a class of citizens who are definitely relegated by the Constitution to an incomplete and inferior political status. We shall no longer face each other as servant and master. We shall meet each other on the true and proper basis of responsible partners in the trust and inheritance of our country and of the British Empire.
In the meanwhile the Conservative party have no reason to reproach us. We have acted throughout upon notorious and intolerable provocation. We have acted upon grave injury and open challenge. We have marched only by the rules of strictly constitutional procedure. We even subjected ourselves to the ordeal, exertion, and risk of a second General Election. We have carried the policy of the Parliament Bill through three successive Parliaments. We have never varied or departed from it in any way since it was first proposed in this House by a Leader whose memory we revere and honour. We have never increased it, and we should never reduce or abate it.
Neither have the Peers of the realm any ground of complaint against us. I admit that their case has its pathetic side. No one could listen to Lord Lansdowne's speech without feeling that that was so. Those ordinary Peers, men as good and intelligent as any class of men in the country, but perhaps not better, summoned from their homes to vote for the rejection of Bills and Budgets, the significance of which they imperfectly appreciated; told that they were saving the country and vindicating the sagacity of their order; embroiled recklessly upon ill-chosen ground with a democratic electorate, led to disaster, and then suddenly, when they have followed their leaders' advice, when they have done all they were told to do, the party they have served so faithfully, the leaders they have followed with such trustful docility, turn upon them in their discredit and cast them on the dust heap: a sacrifice more ungrateful, ignominious and futile than has even been offered on the altar of political panic. We admit whole-heartedly that the Peers of the realm have a keen and bitter complaint, but not against us, who have only fought them blow for blow in a political conflict. There, on the Front Bench opposite, sit the true recipients of any reproaches they may have to make.
It is no doubt true, as was indicated by the hon. and learned Member for the 1775 Walton Division this afternoon, that the politics of the country at the present time present strange contrasts. Here we are in full collision, in fierce and furious debate, upon a tremendous constitutional change. And yet, side by side with this question, simultaneously with it, hardly affected by it, it is true to say that there is a greater degree of agreement between parties in the House of Commons on many large aspects of public policy than has existed before in living memory. We do not underrate the facts brought out by the hon. and learned Member for the Walton Division (Mr. F. E. Smith). The Leader of the Opposition joins the Prime Minister at the Guildhall in the cause of peace. Large numbers of Liberal and Conservative Members join together in an interesting constructive sphere of Colonial policy. In the great field of social matters hon. Members below the Gangway find, from the front Opposition Bench, support on a question like that of relief of destitution. No one will deny that the Conservative party have received the insurance proposals of my right hon. Friend not only in a sympathetic and generous spirit, but in a spirit, considering all the circumstances of the situation, that certainly does not lack magnanimity. We must not, we do not, underrate these things; nor ought we to overrate them. But they certainly ought not to encourage us to do what the hon. Member opposite suggested, namely, to abandon the policy which we have been pursuing with such very great success in many respects.
It is quite true that the Coronation ceremony this year will be acclaimed to by the nation as a whole. The King will be crowned in England with a greater spirit of national unity than has ever perhaps been realised in England in times of peace. The same fact will be apparent also in
§ Nationalist Wales, and in Radical Scotland. You have but to take one further step to reproduce these effects in Ireland too. I know perfectly well the Conservative party would not, and do not wish to take that step. But even if they wished to they could never do it while they retain an absolute Veto. Whilst they retain an absolute Veto they could never acquiesce in the most reasonable settlement, so long as it was objected to by the most unreasonable section of their supporters. But I agree with the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Waterford (Mr. J. Redmond) that if once the absolute Veto was gone the Rouse of Lords and the Conservative party would come to terms on many of the great questions which have long delayed the harmonious development of our nation. The passage of the Parliament Bill marks a new era in our politics—an era not of strife but of settlement. The time has surely come when this country should clear off its arrears. The time has surely come when the outworn controversies of the Victorian period should be honourably settled and cleared out of the way; and when the House of Commons, freed from the tyranny of congested business, freed also from the tyranny of a partisan Veto, may turn with all its strength to those problems of social, national, and Imperial organisation on which the welfare and future of our country depend. Sir, it is then in the name of progress and of unity that we demand, and we shall most certainly secure, the passage of this Bill.
§ And, it being Eleven of the clock, Mr. SPEAKER proceeded, pursuant to the Order of the House of the 8th May, to put forthwith the Question on the Amendment already proposed from the Chair.
§ Question put, "That the word 'now' stand part of the Question."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 363; Noes, 243.1781
|Division No. 241.]||AYES.||[11.0 p.m.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin Harbour)||Barlow, Sir John Emmott (Somerset)||Brigg, Sir John|
|Abraham, Rt. Hon. William (Rhondda)||Barnes, George N.||Brocklehurst, William B.|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Barran, Sir J. N. (Hawick)||Brunner, John F. L.|
|Adamson, William||Barran, Rowland Hurst (Leeds, N.)||Bryce, J. Annan|
|Addison, Dr. C.||Barry, Redmond John (Tyrone, N.)||Burke, E. Haviland|
|Agar-Robartes, Hon, T. C. R.||Barton, William||Burns, Rt. Hon. John|
|Agnew, Sir George William||Beale, W. P.||Burt, Rt. Hon, Thomas|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Beauchamp, Edward||Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, N.)|
|Alden, Percy||Beck, Arthur Cecil||Buxton, Rt. Hon. S. C. (Poplar)|
|Allen, A. A. (Dumbartonshire)||Benn, W. (Tower Hamlets, S. Geo.)||Byles, William Pollard|
|Allen, Charles Peter (Stroud)||Bentham, G. J.||Cameron, Robert|
|Anderson, Andrew Macbeth||Bethell, Sir J. H.||Carr-Gomm, H. W.|
|Armitage, Robert||Birreil, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Black, Arthur W.||Cawley, H. T. (Lancs., Heywood)|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Boland, John Plus||Chancellor, Henry George|
|Atherley-Janes, Llewellyn A.||Booth, Frederick Handel||Chapple, Dr. William Allen|
|Baker, H. T. (Accrington)||Bowerman, C. W.||Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)||Clancy, John Joseph|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Brady, Patrick Joseph||Clough, William|
|Clynes, John R.||Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)||Munro, Robert|
|Collins, Godfrey P. (Greenock)||Henry, Sir Charles||Munro-Ferguson, Rt. Hon. R. C.|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor||Murray, Capt. Hon. Arthur C.|
|Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Higham, John Sharp||Nannetti, Joseph P.|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Hinds, John||Needham, Christopher T.|
|Corbett, A. Cameron||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.||Neilson, Francis|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Hodge, John||Nicholson, Charles N, (Doncaster)|
|Cotton, William Francis||Holt, Richard Durning||Nolan, Joseph|
|Cowan, W. H.||Horne, C. Silvester (Ipswich)||Norman, Sir Henry|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||Norton, Captain Cecil W.|
|Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||Hudson, Walter||Nugent, Sir Walter Richard|
|Crean, Eugene||Hughes, Spencer Leigh||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Crooks, William||Isaacs, Sir Rufus Daniel||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)|
|Crumley, Patrick||Jardine, Sir John (Roxburghshire)||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Dalziel, Sir James H. (Kirkcaldy)||John, Edward Thomas||O'Doherty, Philip|
|Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||Johnson, W.||O'Donnell, Thomas|
|Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)||O'Dowd, John|
|Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)||Ogden, Fred|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||O'Grady, James|
|Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan)||Jones, Leif Stratten (Notts, Rushcliffe)||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)|
|Dawes, J. A.||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||O'Malley, William|
|Delany, William||Jones, W. S. Glyn-(T. H'mts, Stepney)||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Jowett, Frederick William||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Devlin, Joseph||Joyce, Michael||O'Shee, James John|
|Dickinson, W. H.||Keating, Matthew||O'Sullivan, Timothy|
|Dillon, John||Kellaway, Frederick George||Palmer, Godfrey Mark|
|Doneian, Captain A.||Kelly, Edward||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Doris, William||Kemp, Sir George||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)|
|Duffy, William J.||Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Pearce, William (Limehouse)|
|Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||Kilbride, Denis||Pearson, Hon. Weetman H. M.|
|Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley)||King, Joseph (Somerset, North)||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)|
|Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.)||Lamb, Ernest Henry||Philipps, Col. Ivor (Southampton)|
|Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Lambert, George (Devon, S. Molton)||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)|
|Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)||Pickersgill, Edward Hare|
|Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid)||Lansbury, George||Pirie, Duncan Vernon|
|Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||Lardner, James Carrige Rushe||Pointer, Joseph|
|Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N.)||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)||Pollard, Sir George H.|
|Essex, Richard Walter||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumbr'id, Cockerm'th)||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.|
|Esslemont, George Birnie||Leach, Charles||Power, Patrick Joseph|
|Falconer, James||Levy, Sir Maurice||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)|
|Farrell, James Patrick||Lewis, John Herbert||Price, Sir R. J. (Norfolk, E.)|
|Fenwick, Charles||Logan, John William||Priestley, Sir Arthur (Grantham)|
|Ferens, Thomas Robinson||Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)|
|French, Peter||Low, Sir Frederick (Norwich)||Pringle, William M. R.|
|Field, William||Lundon, Thomas||Radford, George Heynes|
|Fiennes, Hon. Eustace Edward||Lyell, Charles Henry||Raffan, Peter Wilson|
|Fitzgibbon, John||Lynch, Arthur Alfred||Rainy, Adam Rolland|
|Flavin, Michael Joseph||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Raphael, Sir Herbert H.|
|France, G. A.||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)|
|Furness, Stephen||McGhee, Richard||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)|
|Gelder, Sir W. A.||Maclean, Donald||Reddy, Michael|
|George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)|
|Gibson, Sir James Puckering||MacNeill, John Gordon Swift||Redmond, William (Clare, E.)|
|Gill, A. H.||MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Rendall, Athelstan|
|Ginnell, Laurence||M'Callum, John M.||Richards, Thomas|
|Glanville, Harold James||M'Curdy, Charles Albert||Richardson, Albion (Peckham)|
|Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||M'Kean, John||Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)|
|Goldstone, Frank||McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)|
|Greenwood, Granville G. (Peterborough)||M'Laren H. D. (Leicester)||Roberts, George H. (Norwich)|
|Greenwood, Hamar (Sunderland)||M'Laren, F. W. S. (Lincs., Spalding)||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)|
|Greig, Colonel James William||M'Laren, Walter S. B. (Ches., Crewe)||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)|
|Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||M'Micking, Major Gilbert||Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)|
|Griffith, Ellis Jones||Manfield, Harry||Robinson, Sidney|
|Guest, Hon. Major C. H. C. (Pembroke)||Markham, Arthur Basil||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)|
|Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)||Marks, George Croydon||Roche, Augustine (Louth)|
|Gulland, John William||Marshall, Arthur Harold||Roche, John (Galway, E.)|
|Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||Martin, Joseph||Roe, Sir Thomas|
|Hackett, John||Mason, David M. (Coventry)||Rose, Sir Charles Day|
|Hall, Frederick (Normanton)||Masterman, C. F. G.||Rowlands, James|
|Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale)||Meagher, Michael||Rowntree, Arnold|
|Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)||Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)||Meehan, Patrick A. (Queen's Co.)||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)|
|Harmsworth, R. Leicester||Menzies, Sir Walter||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)|
|Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Middlebrook, William||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)|
|Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, W.)||Millar, James Duncan||Scanlan, Thomas|
|Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N.E.)||Molloy, Michael||Schwann, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles E.|
|Harwood, George||Molteno, Percy Alport||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)|
|Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Mond, Sir Alfred||Seely, Col. Rt. Hon. J. E. B.|
|Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Money, L. G. Chiozza||Sheehy, David|
|Haworth, Arthur A.||Montagu, Hon. E. S.||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Hayden, John Patrick||Mooney, John J.||Shortt, Edward|
|Hayward, Evan||Morgan, George Hay||Simon, Sir John Ailsebrook|
|Healy, Maurice||Morrell, Philip||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)|
|Helme, Norval Watson||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Smith, H. B. Lees (Northampton)|
|Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Muldoon, John||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Snowden, Philip||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Soames, Arthur Wellesley||Verney, Sir Harry||Whyte, A. F.|
|Spicer, Sir Albert||Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)||Wiles, Thomas|
|Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N.W.)||Walters, John Tudor||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Strachey, Sir Edward||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)||Williams, John (Glamorgan)|
|Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)||Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthen)|
|Summers, James Woolley||Wardle, George J.||Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)|
|Sutherland, John E.||Waring, Walter||Williamson, Sir A.|
|Sutton, John E.||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay||Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)|
|Taylor, John W. (Durham)||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestershire, N.)|
|Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Tennant, Harold John||Webb, H.||Winfrey, Richard|
|Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)||Wedgwood, Josiah C.||Wood, T. McKinnon (Glasgow)|
|Thomas, J. H. (Derby)||White, Sir George (Norfolk)||Young, Samuel (Cavan, E.)|
|Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)||White, Sir Luke (York, E.R.)||Young, William (Perth, East)|
|Thorne, William (West Ham)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Toulmin, George||Whitehouse, John Howard||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.— Master|
|Trevelyan, Charles Philips||Whitley, John Henry||of Elibank and Mr. Illingworth.|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Croft, Henry Page||King, Sir Henry Seymour (Hull)|
|Altken, William Max||Dalrymple, Viscount||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement|
|Amery, L. C. M. S.||Dalziel, Davison (Brixton)||Knight, Captain Eric Ayshford|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Dixon, Charles Harvey||Lane-Fox, G. R.|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major William||Doughty, Sir George||Larmor, Sir J.|
|Archer-Shee, Major M.||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Law, Andrew Bonar (Bootle, Lancs.)|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Du Cros, Arthur Philip||Lawson, Hon. H. (T. H'mts., Mile End)|
|Ashley, Wilfrid W.||Duke, Henry Edward||Lee, Arthur Hamilton|
|Astor, Waldorf||Eyres-Monseil, Bolton M.||Lewisham, Viscount|
|Bagot, Lieut.-Colonel J.||Faber, Captain W. V. (Hants, W.)||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Falle, Bertram Godfrey||Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey)|
|Baker, Sir Randall L. (Dorset, N.)||Fell, Arthur||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lieut.-Col. A. R.|
|Balcarres, Lord||Finlay, Sir Robert||Long, Rt. Hon. Walter|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Fisher, William Hayes||Lansdale, John Brownlee|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City, Land.)||Fitzroy, Hon. Edward A.||Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue||Lowther, Claude (Cumberland, Eskdale)|
|Banner, John S. Harmood-||Fleming, Valentine||Lyttelton, Rt. Hn. A. (S. Geo. Han. S.)|
|Baring, Maj. Hon. Guy V. (Winchester)||Fletcher, John Samuel (Hampstead)||Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Dreitwich)|
|Barlow, Montague (Salford, South)||Forster, Henry William||MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh|
|Barnston, H.||Foster, Philip Staveley||Mackinder, Halford J.|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Gardner, Ernest||Macmaster, Donald|
|Bathurst, Hon. Allen B. (Glos., E.)||Gibbs, George Abraham||M'Mordle, Robert|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Gilmour, Captain John||Magnus, Sir Philip|
|Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Goldsmith, Frank||Malcolm, Ian|
|Beckett, Hon. William Gervase||Gordon, John||Mallaby-Deely, Harry|
|Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Goulding, Edward Alfred||Mason, James F. (Windsor)|
|Benn, Ion Hamilton (Greenwich)||Grant, J. A.||Meysoy-Thompson, E. C.|
|Bennett-Goldney, Francis||Gretton, John||Middlemore, John Throgmorton|
|Bentinck, Lord Henry Cavendish||Guinness, Hon. Walter Edward||Mildmay, Francis Bingham|
|Beresford, Lord Charles||Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)||Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas|
|Bird, Alfred||Haddock, George Bahr||Moore, William|
|Boscawen, Col. A. S. T. Griffith-||Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight)||Morrison, Captain James A.|
|Boyle, W. Lewis (Norfolk, Mid)||Hall, Fred (Dulwich)||Morrison-Bell, Capt. E. F. (Ashburton)|
|Boyton, James||Hall, Marshall (E. Toxteth)||Mount, William Arthur|
|Brassey, H. Leonard Campbell||Hambro, Angus Valdemar||Neville, Reginald J. N.|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Hamersley, Alfred St. George||Newdegate, F. A.|
|Bull, Sir William James||Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington)||Newman, John R. P.|
|Burdett-Coutts, William||Hamilton, Marquess of (Londonderry)||Newton, Harry Kottingham|
|Burgoyne, Alan Hughes||Hardy, Laurence||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)|
|Burn, Colonel C. R.||Harris, Henry Percy||Nield, Herbert|
|Butcher, John George||Helmsley, Viscount||Norton-Griffiths, J.|
|Campion, W. R.||Henderson, Major H. (Berkshire)||O'Neill, Hon. A. E. B. (Antrim, Mid)|
|Carlile, Edward Hildred||Hickman, Col. Thomas E.||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H.||Hill, Sir Clement L.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William|
|Cassel, Felix||Hillier, Dr. Alfred Peter||Paget, Almeric Hugh|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Hills, John Waller||Parkes, Ebenezer|
|Cater, John||Hill-Wood, Samuel||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)|
|Cautley, Henry Strother||Hoare, Samuel John Gurney||Peel, Captain R. F. (Woodbridge)|
|Cave, George||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Peel, Hon. W. R. W. (Taunton)|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Hope, Jamis Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Perkins, Walter Frank|
|Cecil, Lord H ugh (Oxford University)||Horne, William E. (Surrey, Guildford)||Peto, Basil Edward|
|Chaloner, Col. R. G. W.||Horner, Andrew Long||Pole-Carew, Sir R.|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worcr.)||Houston, Robert Paterson||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry||Hume-Williams, William Ellis||Pryce-Jones, Colonel E.|
|Clay, Captain H. H. Spender||Hunt, Rowland||Quilter, W. E. C.|
|Clive, Captain Percy Archer||Hunter, Sir Charles Rodk. (Bath)||Ratcliff, R. F.|
|Cooper, Richard Ashmore||Ingleby, Holcombe||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Courthope, George Loyd||Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, E.)||Rawson, Colonel Richard H.|
|Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.)||Joynson-Hicks, William||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Kebty-Fletcher, J. R.||Rice, Hon. Walter Fitz-Uryan|
|Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)||Kerr-Smiley, Peter Kerr||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Kerry, Earl of||Rolleston, Sir John|
|Crichton-Stuart, Lord Ninian||Keswick, William||Ronaldshay, Earl of|
|Cripps, Sir Charles Alfred||Kimber, Sir Henry||Rothschild, Lionel de|
|Royds, Edmund||Stewart, Gershom||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Rutherford, John (Lancs., Darwin)||Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)||White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)|
|Rutherford, Wm. (W. Derby)||Swift, Rigby||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Salter, Arthur Clavell||Sykes, Alan John||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E.R.)|
|Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)||Talbot, Lord Edmund||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Sanders, Robert Arthur||Terrell, George (Wilts, N.W.)||Wood, Hon. E. F. L. (Yorks, Ripon)|
|Sanderson, Lancelot||Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Scott, Leslie (Liverpool, Exchange)||Thompson, Robert (Belfast, North)||Worthington-Evans, L.|
|Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)||Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Down, N.)||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart.|
|Smith, F. E. (Liverpool, Walton)||Thynne, Lord Alexander||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Smith, Harold (Warrington)||Tobin, Alfred Aspinall||Yate, Col. C. E.|
|Spear, John Ward||Touche, George Alexander||Yerburgh, Robert|
|Stonier, Bevllie||Tryon, Captain George Clement||Younger, George|
|Stanley, Hon. Arthur (Ormskirk)||Tulliberdine, Marquess of|
|Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)||Walker, Col. William Hall|
|Starkey, John Ralph||Walrond, Hon. Lionel||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Sir A.|
|Staveley-Hill, Henry||Ward, A. S. (Herts, Watford)||Acland-Hood and Viscount Valentia.|
|Steel-Maitland, A. D.||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
§ Question put, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."1782
§ The House divided: Ayes, 362; Noes, 241.1785
|Division No. 242.]||AYES.||[11.12 p.m.|
|Abraham, William (Dublin Harbour)||Compton-Rickett, Rt. Hon. Sir J.||Guest, Hon. Major C. H. C. (Pembroke)|
|Abraham, Rt. Hon. William (Rhondda)||Condon, Thomas Joseph||Guest, Hon. Frederick E. (Dorset, E.)|
|Acland, Francis Dyke||Corbett, A. Cameron||Gulland, John William|
|Adamson, William||Cornwall, Sir Edwin||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)|
|Addison, Dr. C.||Cotton, William Francis||Hackett, John|
|Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R.||Cowan, W. H.||Hall, Frederick (Normanton)|
|Agnew, Sir George William||Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale)|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose)|
|Alden, Percy||Crean, Eugene||Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Allen, A. A. (Dumbartonshire)||Crooks, William||Harmsworth, R. Leicester|
|Allen, Charles Peter (Stroud)||Crumley, Patrick||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)|
|Anderson, Andrew Macbeth||Dalziel, Sir James H. (Kirkaldy)||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, W.)|
|Armitage, Robert||Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Davies, Ellis William (Eifion)||Harwood, George|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth)||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)|
|Atherley-Jones, Llewellyn A.||Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry|
|Baker, H. T. (Accrington)||Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan)||Haworth, Arthur A.|
|Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark)||Dawes, J. A.||Hayden, John Patrick|
|Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple)||Delany, William||Hayward, Evan|
|Barlow, Sir John Emmett (Somerset)||Denman, Hon. R. D.||Healy, Maurice|
|Barnes, George N.||Devlin, Joseph||Helme, Norval Watson|
|Barran, Sir J. N. (Hawick)||Dickinson, W. H.||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)|
|Barran, Rowland Hurst (Leeds, N.)||Dillon, John||Henderson, J. M. (Aberdzen, W)|
|Barry, Redmond John (Tyrone, N.)||Donelan, Captain A.||Henry, Sir Charles|
|Barton, William||Doris, William||Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor|
|Beale, W. P.||Duffy, William J.||Higham, John Sharp|
|Beauchamp, Edward||Duncan, C. (Barrow-In-Furness)||Hinds, John|
|Beck, Arthur Cecil||Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley)||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.|
|Benn, W. (T. H'mts., St. Geo.)||Edwards, Clement (Glamorgan, E.)||Hodge, John|
|Bentham, G. J.||Edwards, Enoch (Hanley)||Halt, Richard Durning|
|Bethell, Sir J. H.||Edwards, Sir Francis (Radnor)||Horne, Charles Slivester (Ipswich)|
|Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine||Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid.)||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey|
|Black, Arthur W.||Esmonde, Dr. John (Tipperary, N.)||Hudson, Walter|
|Boland, John Plus||Esmonde, Sir Thomas (Wexford, N)||Hughes, Spencer Leigh|
|Booth, Frederick Handel||Essex, Richard Walter||Isaacs, Sir Rufus Daniel|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Esslemont, George Birnie||Jardine, Sir John (Roxburghshire)|
|Boyle, Daniel (Mayo, North)||Falconer, James||John, Edward Thomas|
|Brady, Patrick Joseph||Farrell, James Patrick||Johnson, W.|
|Brim Sir John||Fenwick, Charles||Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)|
|Brocklehurst, William B.||Ferens, Thomas Robinson||Janes, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Brunner, John F. L.||French, Peter||Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)|
|Bryce, J. Annan||Field, William||Jones, Leif Stratton (Notts, Rushcliffe)|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Fiennes, Hon. Eustace Edward||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Fitzgibbon, John||Jones, W. S. Glyn- (T. H'mts, Stepney)|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Flavin, Michael Joseph||Jowett, Frederick William|
|Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, N.)||France, Gerald Ashburner||Joyce, Michael|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. S. C. (Poplar)||Furness, Stephen||Keating, M.|
|Byles, William Pollard||Gelder, Sir W. A.||Kellaway, Frederick George|
|Cameron, Robert||George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd||Kelly, Edward|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Gibson, Sir James Puckering||Kemp, Sir George|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Gill, A. H.||Kennedy, Vincent Paul|
|Cawley, H. T. (Lancs., Heywood)||Ginnell, Laurence||Kilbride, Denis|
|Chancelor, Henry George||Glanville, Harold James||King, Joseph (Somerset, North)|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Lamb, Ernest Henry|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Goldstone, Frank||Lambert, George (Devon, S. Molten)|
|Clancy, John Joseph||Greenwood, Granville G. (Peterborough)||Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade)|
|Clough, William||Greenwood, Hamar (Sunderland)||Lansbury, George|
|Clynes, John R.||Greig, Colonel James William||Lardner, lames Carrige Rushe|
|Collins, Godfrey P. (Greenock)||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Griffith, Ellis Jones||Lawson, Sir W. (Cumb'rld., Cockerm'th)|
|Leach, Charles||O'Dowd, John||Sheehy, David|
|Levy, Sir Maurice||Ogden, Fred||Sherwell, Arthur James|
|Lewis, John Herbert||O'Grady, James||Shortt, Edward|
|Logan, John William||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)||Simon, Sir John Allsebrook|
|Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas||O'Malley, William||Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)|
|Low, Sir Frederick (Norwich)||O'Neill, Dr. Charles (Armagh, S.)||Smith, H. B. Lees (Northampton)|
|Lundon, Thomas||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Lyell, Charles Henry||O'Shee, James John||Snowden, Phillip|
|Lynch, Arthur Alfred||O'Sullivan, Timothy||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Palmer, Godfrey Mark||Spicer, Sir Albert|
|Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Parker, James (Halifax)||Stanley, Albert (Staffs., N.W.)|
|McGhee, Richard||Pearce, Robert (Staffs, Leek)||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Maclean, Donald||Pearce, William (Limehouse)||Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)|
|Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Parson, Hon. Weetman H. M.||Summers, James Woolley|
|McNeill, John Gordon Swift||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A. (Rotherham)||Sutherland, John E.|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Philipps, Col. Ivor (Southampton)||Sutton, John E.|
|M'Callum, John M.||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|M'Curdy, Charles Albert||Pickersgill, Edward Hare||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)|
|M'Kean, John||Pirie, Duncan Vernon||Tennant, Harold John|
|McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald||Pointer, Joseph||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)|
|M'Laren, H. D. (Leicester)||Pollard, Sir George H.||Thomas, J. H. (Derby)|
|M'Laren, F. W. S. (Lincs., Spalding)||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|M'Laren, Walter S. B. (Ches., Crewe)||Power, Patrick Joseph||Thorne, William (West Ham|
|M'Micking, Major Gilbert||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Toulmin, George|
|Manfield, Harry||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Markham, Arthur Basil||Priestley, Sir Arthur (Grantham)||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Marks, G. Croydon||Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)||Verney, Sir Harry|
|Marshall, Arthur Harold||Pringle, William M. R.||Walsh, Stephen (Lanes, Ince)|
|Martin, Joseph||Radford, George Heynes||Walters, John Tudor|
|Mason, David M. (Coventry)||Raffan, Peter Wilson||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Masterman, C. F. G.||Rainy, Adam Rolland||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Meagher, Michael||Raphael, Sir Herbert H.||Wardle, George J.|
|Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Rea, Rt. Hon. Russell (South Shields)||Waring, Walter|
|Meehan, Patrick A. (Queen's Co.)||Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough)||Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay|
|Menzies, Sir Walter||Reddy, Michael||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Middlebrook, William||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Millar, Duncan||Redmond, William (Clare, E.)||Webb, H.|
|Molloy, Michael||Rendall, Athelstan||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Molteno, Percy Alport||Richards, Thomas||White, Sir George (Norfolk)|
|Mond, Sir Alfred M.||Richardson, Albion (Peckham)||White, Sir Luke (York, E.R.)|
|Money, L. G. Chiozza||Richardson, Thomas (Whltehaven)||White, Patrick (Meath, North|
|Montagu, Hon. E. S.||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Mooney, John J.||Roberts, George H. (Norwich)||Whitley, John Henry|
|Morgan, George Hay||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)||Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Merrell, Philip||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)||Whyte, A. F. (Perth)|
|Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Robertson, John M. (Tyneside)||Wiles, Thomas|
|Muldoon, John||Robinson, Sidney||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Munro, Robert||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)||Williams, John (Glamorgan)|
|Munro-Ferguson, Rt. Hon. R. C.||Roche, Augustine (Louth)||Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthen)|
|Murray, Capt. Hon. Arthur C.||Roche, John (Galway, E.)||Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)|
|Nannetti, Joseph P.||Roe, Sir Thomas||Williamson, Sir A.|
|Needham, Christopher T.||Rose, Sir Charles Day||Wilson, Non. G. G. (Hull, W.)|
|Neilson, Francis||Rowlands, James||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestershire, N.)|
|Nicholson, Chas. N. (Doncaster)||Rowntree, Arnold||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Nolan, Joseph||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter||Winfrey, Richard|
|Norman, Sir Henry||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)||Wood, T. McKinnon (Glasgow)|
|Nugent, Sir Walter Richard||Samuel, J. (Stockton-on-Tees)||Young, Samuel (Cavan, East)|
|O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)||Young, William (Perth, East)|
|O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Scanlan, Thomas|
|O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Schwann, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles E.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Master|
|O'Doherty, Philip||Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)||of Elibank and Mr. Illingworth.|
|O'Donnell, Thomas||Seely, Colonel, Rt. Hon. J. E. B.|
|Agg-Gardner, James Tynte||Bathurst, Hon. Allen B. (Moue., E.)||Campion, W. R.|
|Amery, L. C. M. S.||Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Carlile, Edward Hildred|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H.|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major William||Beckett, Hon. William Gervass||Cassel, Felix|
|Archer-Shee, Major M.||Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth)||Castlereagh, Viscount|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Benn, Ion Hamilton (Greenwich)||Cater, John|
|Ashley, Wilfrid W.||Bennett-Goldney, Francis||Cautley, Henry Strother|
|Astor, Waldorf||Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish||Cave, George|
|Bagot, Lieut.-Cal J.||Beresford, Lord Charles||Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)|
|Baird, John Lawrence||Bird, Alfred||Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford Univ.)|
|Baker, Sir Randolf L. (Dorset, N.)||Boscawen, Col. A. S. T. Griffith-||Chaloner, Col. R. G. W.|
|Balcarres, Lord||Boyle, W. Lewis||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worcr.)|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Boyton, James||Chaplin, Rt. Hon. Henry|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City, Lond.)||Brassey, H. Leonard Campbell||Clay, Captain H. H. Spender|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Bridgeman, W. Clive||Clive, Percy Archer|
|Banner, John S. Harmood-||Bull, Sir William James||Cooper, Richard Ashmole|
|Baring, Maj. Hon. Guy V. (Winchester)||Burdett-Coutts, William||Courthope, George Loyd|
|Barlow, Montagu (Salford, South)||Burgoyne, Alan Hughes||Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.)|
|Barnston, H.||Burn, Colonel C. R.||Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)|
|Barrle, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Butcher, John George||Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet)|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Kebty-Fletcher, J. R.||Rawson, Colonel Richard H.|
|Crichton-Stuart, Lord Ninian||Kerr-Smiley, Peter Kerr||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Cripps, Sir Charles Alfred||Kerry, Earl of||Rice, Hon. Walter Fitz-Uryan|
|Croft, Henry Page||Keswick, William||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)|
|Dalrymple, Viscount||Kimber, Sir Henry||Rolleston, Sir John|
|Dalziel, Davison (Brixton)||King, Sir Henry Seymour (Hull)||Ronaldshay, Earl of|
|Dixon, Charles Harvey||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Rothschild, Lionel de|
|Doughty, Sir George||Knight, Captain Eric Ayshford||Royds, Edmund|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Rutherford, John (Lancs., Darwen)|
|Du Gros, Arthur Philip||Larmor, Sir J.||Rutherford, Watson (L'pool, W. Derby)|
|Duke, Henry Edward||Law, Andrew Sonar (Bootle., Lancs.)||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Eyres-Monsell, olton M.||Lawson, Hon. H. (T. H'mts., Mile End)||Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)|
|Faber, Captain W. V. (Hants., W.)||Lee, Arthur Hamilton||Sanders, Robert Arthur|
|Falle, Bertram Godfrey||Lewisham, Viscount||Sanderson, Lancelot|
|Fell, Arthur||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Sandys, G. J. (Somerset, Wells)|
|Finlay, Sir Robert||Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsey)||Scott, Leslie (Liverpool, Exchange)|
|Fisher, William Haves||Lockwood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A. R.||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Fitzroy, Hon. Edward A.||Long, Rt. Hon. Walter||Smith, F. E. (Liverpool, Walton)|
|Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Smith, Harold (Warrington)|
|Fleming, Valentine||Lowe, Sir F W. (Birm., Edgbaston)||Spear, John Ward|
|Fletcher, John Samuel (Hampstead)||Lowther, Claude (Cumberland, Eskdale)||Stanier, Seville|
|Forster, Henry William||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. A. (S. Geo. Han. S.)||Stanley, Hon. Arthur (Ormskirk)|
|Foster, Philip Staveley||Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droitwich)||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Gardner, Ernest||MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh||Starkey, John Ralph|
|Gibbs, George Abraham||Mackinder, Alfred J.||Staveley-Hill, Henry (Staffordshire)|
|Gilmour, Captain John||Macmaster, Donald||Steel-Maitland, A. D.|
|Goldsmith, Frank||M'Mordie, Robert||Stewart, Gershom|
|Gordon, John||Magnus, Sir Philip||Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)|
|Goulding, Edward Alfred||Malcolm, Ian||Swift, Rigby|
|Grant, J. A.||Mallaby-Deeley, Harry||Sykes, Alan John|
|Gretton, John||Mason, James F. (Windsor)||Talbot, Lord Edmund|
|Guinness, Hon. Walter Edward||Meysey-Thompson, E. C.||Terrell, George (Wilts, N.W.)|
|Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)||Middlemore, John Throgmorton||Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)|
|Haddock, George Bahr||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Thompson, Robert (Belfast, North)|
|Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight)||Mills, Hon. Chas. Thomas||Thomson, W. Mitchell- (Down, N.)|
|Hall, Fred (Dulwich)||Moore, William||Thynne, Lord Alexander|
|Hall, Marshall, (E. Toxteth)||Morrison-Bell, Capt. E. F. (Ashburton)||Tobin, Alfred Aspinall|
|Hambro, Angus Valdemar||Mount, William Arthur||Touche, George Alexander|
|Hamersley, Alfred St. George||Neville, Reginald J. N.||Tryon, Captain George Clement|
|Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington)||Newdegate, F. A.||Tullibardine, Marquess of|
|Hamilton, Marquess of (Londonderry)||Newman, John R. P.||Walker, Col. William Hall|
|Hardy, Laurence||Newton, Harry Kottingham||Walrond, Hon. Lionel|
|Harris, Henry Percy||Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)||Ward, A. S. (Herts, Watford)|
|Helmsley, Viscount||Nield, Herbert||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|Henderson, Major H. (Berkshire)||Norton-Griffiths, J.||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Hickman, Col. Thomas E.||O'Neill, Hon. A. E. B. (Antrim, Mid.)||White, Major G. D. (Lancs., Southport)|
|Hill, Sir Clement L.||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G A.||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Hillier, Dr. Alfred Peter||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E.R.)|
|Hills, John Waller||Paget, Almeric Hugh||Wolmer, Viscount|
|Hill-Wood, Samuel||Parkes, Ebenezer||Wood, Hon. E. F. L. (Yorks, Ripon)|
|Hoare, Samuel John Gurney||Pease, Herbert Pike (Darlington)||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy||Peel, Captain R. F. (Woodbridge)||Worthington-Evans, L.|
|Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Peel, Hon. W. R. W. (Taunton)||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Horne, Edgar (Surrey, Guildford)||Perkins, Walter Frank||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Horner, Andrew Long||Peta, Basil Edward||Yate, Col. C. E.|
|Houston, Robert Paterson||Pole-Carew, Sir R.||Yerburgh, Robert|
|Hume-Williams, Wm. Ellis||Pollock, Ernest Murray||Younger, George|
|Hunt, Rowland||Pretyman, Ernest George|
|Hunter, Sir Charles Rodk. (Bath)||Pryce-Jones, Col. E.|
|Ingleby, Holcombe||Quilter, W. E. C.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Sir A.|
|Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, E.)||Ratcliff, R. F.||Acland-Hood and Viscount Valentia.|
|Joynson-Hicks, William||Rawilnson, John Frederick Peel|
Question put, and agreed to.
§ Bill accordingly read the third time, and passed.
Adjourned accordingly at Twenty-five minutes after Eleven o'clock.