§ Clause brought up, and read the first time.
§ Sir F. BANBURY
I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a second time."
I moved a similar Clause on 17th August, 1916, and my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer then said:I mentioned to my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister that my right hon. Friend opposite, with that careful regard to possibilities which always distinguishes him, intended to move this Clause, and my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister authorised me at once to say that there was no question whatever of this Government introducing this measure during the period of the extension of the life of this Parliament."—[OFFICIAL. REPORT, 17th August, I916,col. 2195, Vol. LXXXV.]I am not at all sure that those words cover a further extension of the life of this Parliament, but in order that there may be no doubt upon the matter I put this Clause down, and I understand that my right hon. Friend is prepared to renew the assurance. If that is so, I will only move the Clause formally so as to receive that assurance and shall then ask leave to withdraw.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
As my right hon. Friend has said, the pledge which I then gave was given with the authority of the Prime Minister at that time. I am sorry to find that from the wording of it my right hon. Friend doubts as to whether it was only intended to make the pledge 1741 apply to the extension which was asked for at that time. I am quite ready to give the same pledge with regard to this extension. [HON. MEMBERS: "What is the pledged"] The pledge is that the Plural Voting Bill will not be introduced by this Government during the period for which the life of this Parliament is extended.
§ Mr. DILLON
That might be interpreted by the infinite Parliamentary skill of the right hon. Baronet as a pledge against the Reform Bill.
§ Mr. BONAR LAW
It is one of the curious reminiscences of this War the amount of feeling aroused by the possibility during its continuance of again introducing the Plural Voting Bill, which had already gone through the House. This pledge applies only to that.
§ Motion and Clause, by leave, withdrawn.