HC Deb 05 February 1918 vol 101 cc2191-9

Redistribution of Seats.

1. The names, contents, and boundaries of each Parliamentary borough and county and division thereof shall be as specified in this Schedule.

Lords Amendment:

At the beginning of paragraph I insert the words, "Subject to the provisions regarding Parliamentary boroughs returning three or more members in this Act contained."—Disagreed with.

Lords Message:

The Lords insist upon their Amendment to the Seventh Schedule (to leave out paragraph 6) for the following Reason:

"Because it is consequential upon the Amendment proposed by the Lords in lieu of the first Amendment made by the Lords in Clause 18 [Alternative Vote], to which the Commons have disagreed."


On a point of Order. Will the Bill be lost if we disagree with a purely consequential Amendment on an Amendment with which we have already disagreed? The position is this: The other House, having inserted proportional representation, made a change in the Schedule relating to the return of county councillors for the county of London. That was consequential upon their adoption of proportional representation. This House disagreed with the general Amendment introducing proportional representation throughout the country, and, as a consequence, disagreed with the Amendment relating to the return of the county councillors for London. Now the other House has inserted a new Amendment reintroducing proportional representation in a modified form with which we have disagreed already. The Lords, also consequential on their new Amendment, have revived their old Amendment relating to the county of London. It would, of course, appear natural that, having disagreed with the main Amendment, we should also disagree with the consequential Amendment, but I want to know from you, Sir, whether we can take that course without losing the Bill, or whether we must, as a matter of order, introduce some Amendment, or disagree in some modified form, so that we do not, by disagreeing with this minor Amendment, lose the Bill?


I am hardly in a position to give a decision on this matter. This is rather sprung upon me. It appears that this Amendment is consequential on what, we have done, and, therefore, we cannot accept something which contradicts the view which the House has taken.


If there is any doubt about the effect of our disagreeing with this Amendment, I would rather postpone it, and see whether we can introduce it in some new form.


It will give me, at any rate, some little time to consider it.

Question, "That the further consideration of the Lords Reason be postponed," put, and agreed to.


Would it be in order to postpone the question of the alternative vote for exactly the same reason?


We cannot go on postponing. We have to consider something.

Lords Message:

The Lords insist on their Amendment in Clause 18 [Alternative Vote] (to leave out Sub-section (1), to which the Commons have disagreed, for the following Reason:

"Because in then view the adoption of the alternative vote would introduce serious complexities into the electoral system without any corresponding advantage in the way of fair representation."


On a point of Order. May I ask you, Mr. Speaker, what is the exact position we have reached by this action of the House of Lords? Is it open to this House to reinsert in the Bill an Amendment giving generally the alternative vote which the other House has now twice rejected; and would such an insertion involve the loss of the Bill? If it would, is it open to us to amend the Lords Amendment in any form which falls short of restoring the full alternative vote of universal application which the House de63led on previously?


The House of Lords has struck out this particular Section, and it has insisted on striking out this particular Section. If this House does not accept the proposal as amended, of course these two Houses are not ad idem, and the Bill must drop. Two courses are open to the House—either to accept the Lords proposal as it stands or to send back an Amendment.


If this House were to insist on its original proposal and disagree with the Lords, the Bill then would not go back to the House of Lords at all, but would die here on the floor of the House now?


I do not exactly know what place it would die in. It would certainly not be included in the list of Bills to which the Royal Assent has been given.


The point is that there would he no opportunity for the Lords to reconsider their decision.




Should I be in order to insert words that would leave out the University of Wales?


I have already received au Amendment from a right hon. Member.


I beg to move as an Amendment, in lieu of the Amendment upon which the. Lords insist, to insert, "(I) If at an election for one Member of Parliament in any Parliamentary borough there are more than two candidates, the election shall be according to the principle of the alternative vote as defined by this Act."

I do not propose to keep the House by any long speech, but I desire to move the reinsertion of the alternative vote in a form in which the House of Lords will be able to give it their consideration—and, I hope, their sympathetic consideration. They are evidently very partial to dealing with the country in parts and not as a whole. This is to reintroduce the principle of the alternative vote in all elections in Parliamentary boroughs, and I do not myself think there is any necessity for me to use any arguments in this matter. This House has once, twice, thrice declared its adhesion to the principle by which the minority is not to be enabled to obtain its candidate in cases where there are more than two candidates. I hope that the House will send this back again to the House of Lords in order that they may again be able to give consideration to the wishes of the Commons in this very important matter. I beg to move in the form I have indicated.


I beg to second the Amendment, formally, seeing that the matter has been so fully debated.


I think those of us who are in favour of the alternative vote would deeply regret, even if it were limited to the boroughs, where we desire to see it alike throughout the whole of the country. The other House, however, has voted differently—that it should not be applied to the whole country. If we were to insist upon our view the consequence would be that this great Statute would not become law. As an alternative, my right hon. Friend opposite has proposed that the matter should again be brought before. this House and the other House, not in its original form, but with the limitation to the boroughs only. Imperfect as is that measure, it is one which all friends of the alternative vote will certainly support. I do not propose again to argue the case which has been before us so often. I would only say this in a word: that if the next Parliament were to be elected, not with the assistance of the alternative vote, if a large number of members were returned, as might very well be the case, not by the majorities of their constituents, but notoriously by the minorities, and if, as might very likely occur, those minority members themselves determined the political complexion of this House, and determined, possibly for four or five years, the character of our legislation, and if this anomaly were due to the action of the House of Lords to-day in rejecting the alternative voting method for elections, the political consequences could not fail to be most grave. Therefore, I earnestly hope that on further consideration, in view of the difficulties through which the country may be passing when this War is over that their Lordships will reconsider the matter, and not by their action secure the possibility, or the probability, of returning a large number of members to this House to determine its character who have been elected, not by the majority, but by the minority of their constituents.


I shall, of course, vote, as I hope all my Friends will vote, in favour of the alternative vote, but I regret that it is only confined to the boroughs. Like many others here, I represent a large industrial constituency where the elements are very similar to those of hon. Friends about me. I have to express this feeling: that a large number of the industrial classes will resent most strongly this action; that those within the area of the county divisions will not have the same privilege and freer choice given by the alternative vote that I hope their Lordships will give to the boroughs. I only want to say that while' I accept this as a compromise I accept it only as a compromise, because I believe the alternative vote should be applied to the whole country.


I should not like this subject to leave this House without making, at any rate, one final, and, I hope, one short protest against what has happened. We have heard the reasons why the other House has deprived us of the only safeguard that we have possibly got for a system of free and fair elections. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"] The hon. Member will be able to answer me, possibly, after I say what I have to say. The reason the House of Lords give is that, "in their view the adoption of the alternative vote would introduce serious complexities into the electoral system without any corresponding advantage in the way of fair representation." This although the alternative vote, having been submitted to a Royal Commission composed of men of all parties, unanimously reported favourably upon it! That is the position we have reached! A non-elective Chamber can deprive us of a system that is in use throughout the world in one form or another. [HON. MEMBERS: "Divide, divide!"]


Let us get on with the War!


I shall be considerably shorter if hon. Members will answer me afterwards, and not during my speech. I only want to say that it is perfectly clear that the reason why this thing has been considered by the Second Chamber in this way is, not that they have considered in any way alternative schemes for redressing what the Royal Commission unanimously thought to be an evil that needed redress; they have made no attempt to deal with this question at all. Their desire to protect the rights of minorities—which they have shown in proportional represen- tation—has gone so far that they actually want to protect minorities at the expense of majorities throughout the country. Depriving us of this machinery is what that really means. We may put in this Amendment knowing that we are face to face with this, that the House of Lords in a matter like this does but register the decrees of one party in the State. [Interruption.] Everybody knows that to be true ! When this measure went up to the House of Lords there was practically no debate upon it. One or two persons, quite unknown in politics, proposed its rejection. This, a measure which had been reported upon unanimously by Royal Commission! Their Lordships can give no alternative at all except the exaltation of the minority into the position of the majority, with the possibility, as my right hon. Friend below me has suggested, of creating a position that will last four or five years—it may very well be ten years ! — because the Parliamentary effect of the minority vote all over the country may actually — [HON. MEMBERS: "Divide, divide!"]—I know perfectly well that party —[HON. MEMBERS: "Divide, divide!"] I have got very few more words to say, but I know perfectly well which party it is that gains by this system, and that it is delighted at the result. Though all further speeches are unnecessary now, I wish to protest; and I appeal to my hon. Friends in this House to protest against the other House arrogating to itself the right to tell us how our elections are to be determined—whether by their attempt to insert proportional representation, whether by their refusal to allow us to have this system of the alternative vote recommended by an impartial Royal Commission. They are arrogating to themselves functions that they have no right to, and the only good feature about the whole thing is that action like this, unblushing and flagrant, \will soon bring —[HON. MEMBERS: "Divide, divide!"]—sweep away—[HON. MEMBERS: "Divide, divide!"]—that party which exists merely to register the decrees of the Tory—[Interruption].


I only desire to say two words, to ask the House to accept the Amendment which my right hon. Friend behind me seeks to amend. We have already rejected the Lords Amendment on proportional representation, and it appears to me to be a perfectly fair deal that we should accept this.


The House might have listened to what I said earlier in the Debate. [HON. MEMBERS: "Divide, divide!"] This Amendment proposed by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for St. Pancras — [HON. MEMBERS: "Divide!"]—runs very close to what I ventured to suggest as a compromise. The hon. Member for Dartford said a moment ago that the House had refused part of the compromise which deal, with proportional

representation, and he has referred to this as a compromise. I wish to make it perfectly clear that by that action they have Left me perfectly free to vote against the alternative vote, as I certainly intend to do, as it is no compromise whatever.

Question put, "That those words be there inserted in the Bill."

The House divided: Ayes, 195; Noes, 194.

Division No. 155.] AYES. [5.59 p.m.
Acland, Rt. Hon. Francis Dyke Harris, Percy A. (Leicester, S) Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.
Adamson, William Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West) Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)
Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher Haslam, Lewis Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)
Adkins, Sir W. Ryland Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)
Ainsworth, Sir John Stirling Helme, Sir Norval Watson Raffan, Peter Wilson
Alden, Percy Henderson, Rt. Hon. Arthur (Durham) Raphael, Sir Herbert H.
Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbartonshire) Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.) Rees, G. U. (Carnarvonshire, Arfon)
Allen, Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud) Henry, Sir Charles (Shropshire) Randall, Atheletan
Anderson, W. C. Higham, John Sharp Richardson, Aiblon (Peckham)
Armitage, Robert Hobhouse Rt. Hon. Sir Charles E. H. Richardson, Arthur (Rotherham)
Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry Hogge, James Myles Richardson, Thomas (Whitehaven)
Baker, Joseph Alien (Finsbury, E.) Holmes, Daniel Turner Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)
Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark) Holt, Richard Durning Robertson, Rt. Hon. J. M.
Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple) Howard, Hon. Geoffrey Robinson, Sidney
Barlow, Sir John Emmott (Somerset) Hudson, Walter Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)
Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick Burghs) Hughes, Spencer Leigh Rowlands, James
Barton, Sir William Jacobsen, Thomas Owen Rowntree, Arnold
Beale, Sir William Phipson Jardine, Sir John (Roxburghshire) Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)
Beauchamp, Sir Edward Jones, Sir Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil) Scanlan, Thomas
Bentham, George Jackson Jones, J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East) Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton)
Bethell, Sir J. H. Jones, Rt. Hon. Leif (Notts, Rushcliffe) Seely, Lt.-Col. Sir C. H. (Mansfield)
Birrell, Rt. Hon. Augustine Jowett, Frederick William Shaw, Hon. A.
Black, Sir Arthur W. Keating, Matthew Smallwood, Edward
Bliss, Joseph Kenyon, Barnet Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe)
Boland, John Pius Kiley, James Daniel Smith, H. B. Lees (Northampton)
Brace, Rt. Hon. William King, Joseph Smith, Sir Swiro (Keighley, Yorks)
Brady, Patrick Joseph Lamb, Sir Ernest Henry Snowden, Philip
Brunner, John F. L. Lambert, Richard (Wilts, Cricklade) Soames, Arthur Wellesley
Burns, Rt. Hon. John Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West) Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert
Buxton, Noel Lewis, Rt. H on. John Herbert Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West)
Carr-Gomm, H. W. Lough, Rt. Han. Thomas Sutton, John E.
Chancellor, Henry George Lynch, Arthur Alfred Taylor, John W. (Durham)
Clough, William M'Callum. Sir John M. Tennant, Rt. Hon. Harold John
Cochrane, Cecil Algernon Macdonald, Rt. Hon. J. M. (Falls. B'ghs) Thomas, Sir A. G. (Mon., S.)
Collins, Godfrey P. (Greenock) Macdonald, J. Ramsay (Leicester) Thomas, Rt. Hon.J. H. (Derby)
Collins, Sir W. (Derby) M'Kean, John Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)
Cornwall, Sir Edwin A. M`Laren, Hon. H. D. (Leics.) Thorne, William (West Ham)
Dalziel, Rt. Hon. Sir J. H. (Kirkcaldy) Maclean, Rt. Hon. Sir Donald Tootill, Robert
Davies, David (Montgomery Co.) MCMicking, Major Gilbert Toulmin, Sir George
Davies, Ellis William (Eifion) Macpherson, James Ian Walsh, Stephen (Lancs., Ince)
Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth) Maden, Sir John Henry Walters, Sir John Tudor
Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.) Mallalieu, Frederick William Waring, Major Walter
Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas Manfield, Harry Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)
Dougherty, Rt. Hon. Sir J. B. Marks, Sir George Croydon Watson, John Bertrand (Stockton)
Edwards, John Hugh (Glamorgan, Mid.) Mason, David M. (Coventry) Webb, Lieut.-Col. Sir H.
Elverston, Sir Harold Middlebrook, Sir William White, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)
Essex, Sir Richard Walter Millar, James Duncan Whitehouse, John Howard
Falconer, James Molloy, Michael Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.
Ferens, Rt. Hon. Thomas Robinson Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Whyte, Alexander F.
Ffrench, Peter Morgan, George Hay Wiles, Rt. Mon. Thomas
Field, William Morison Hector (Hackney, S.) Williams, Aneurin (Durham, N.W.)
Fiennes, Hon. Sir Eustace Edward Morison, Thomas B. (Inverness) Williams, John (Glamorgan)
Galbraith, Samuel Morrell, Philip Williams, Llewelyn (Carmarthen)
Gelder, Sir William Alfred Morton, Sir Alpheus Cleophas Williams, Penry (Middlesbrough)
Gilbert, J. D. Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert Williams Thomas J. (Swansea)
Glanville, Harold James Nicholson, Sir Charles N. (Doncaster) Williamson, Sir Archibald
Goddard, Rt. Hon. Sir Daniel Ford Norman, Rt. Hon. Major Sir H. Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)
Goldstone, Frank Nuttall, Harry Winfrey, Sir Richard
Greenwood, Sir G. G. (Peterborough) O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.) Wing, Thomas Edward
Greenwood, Sir Hamar (Sunderland) Ogden, Fred Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon(Glasgow)
Greig, Col. J. W. Outhwalte, R. L. Yeo, Sir Alfred William
Griffith, Rt. Hon. Sir Ellis J. Palmer, Godfrey Mark Young, William (Perth, East)
Gulland, Rt. Hon. John William Parrott, Sir James Edward Yoxall, Sir James Henry
Hackett, John Pearce, Sir Robert (Staffs, Leek)
Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose) Pearson, Hon. Weetman H. M. TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Sir W.
Harmsworth, Cecil (Luton, Beds) Peel, Major Hon. G. (Spalding) Dickinson and Mr. W. T Wilson.
Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte Gibbs, Col. George Abraham Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.
Archer-Shee, Lt.-Col. Martin Goldman, Charles Sydney Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William
Astor, Major Hon. Waldorf Goulding, Sir Edward Alfred Parker, Rt. Hon. Sir G. (Gravesend)
Baird, John Lawrence Greene, Waiter Raymond Parkes, Sir Edward E.
Baldwin, Stanley Gretton, John Pease,Rt.Hon.Herbert Pike(Darlington)
Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City, London) Guinness, Hon. Rupert (Essex, S.E.) Pennefather, De Fonblanque
Barlow, Sir Montague (Salford, South) Haddock, George Bahr Perkins, Walter F.
Barnett, Capt. R. W. Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight) Peto, Basil Edward
Barnston, Major Harry Hall, Lt.-Col. Sir Fred (Dulwich) Philipps, Capt. Sir Owen (Chester)
Bathurst, Col. Hon. A. B. (Glouc., E.) Hambro, Angus Valdemar Pollock, Sir Ernest Murray
Bathurst, Capt. Sir C. (Wilts, Wilton) Hamersley, Lt.-Col. Alfred St. George [...]yman, Rt. H on. Ernest George
Beach, William F. H. Hamilton, C. G. C. (Ches., Altrincham) Prothero, Rt. Hon. Rowland Edmund
Beck, Arthur Cecil Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord C. J. Pryce-Jones, Col. E.
Beckett, Hon. Gervase Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire) Randles, Sir John S.
Bellairs, Commander C. W. Harris, Rt. Hon. F. L. (Worcester, E.) Rawson, Col. Richard H.
Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth) Harris, Sir Henry P. (Paddington, S.) Rees, Sir J. D. (Nottingham, E.)
Benn, Com. Ian Hamilton (Greenwich) Herbert, Hon. A. (Somerset, S.) Remnant, Col. Sir James Farquharson
Blair, Reginald Hermon-Hodge, Sir R. T. Rothschild, Major Lionel de
Boles, Lieut.-Col. Dennis Fortescue Hewins, William Albert Samuel Royds, Major Edmund
Boscawen, Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith- Hickman, Brig.-Gen. Thomas E. Rutherford, Col. Sir J. (Lancs., Darwen)
Bowden, Major G. R. Harland Hodge, Rt. Hon. John Rutherford, Sir W. (L'pool, W. Derby)
Boyle, William L. (Norfolk, Mid.) Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield) Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir Harry (Norwood)
Boyton, Sir James Hope, Lt.-Col. J. A. (Edin., Midlothian) Samuel, Samuel (Wandsworth)
Brassey, H. L. C. Horne, Edgar Sanders, Col. Robert Arthur
Bridgeman, William Clive Houston, Robert Paterson Scott, Leslie (Liverpool Exchange)
Brookes, Warwick Hume-Williams, William Ellis Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)
Broughton, Urban Hanlon Hunter, Major Sir Charles Rodk. Spear, Sir John Ward
Burdett-Coutts, William Jackson, Lieut.-Col. Hon F. S. (York) Stanier, Captain Sir Beville
Burn, Colonel C. R. Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, East) Stanley, Capt. Lord (Abercromby)
Butcher, John George Jessel, Col. Sir Herbert M. Stanton, Charles Butt
Campion, Lieut.-Col. W. R. Jones, W. Kennedy (Hornsey) Starkey, John Ralph
Carew, C. Joynson-Hicks, William Staveley-Hill, Lieut.-Col. Henry
Carlile, Sir Edward Hildred Kerr-Smiley, Major Peter Kerr Stewart, Gershom
Carnegie, Lieut.-Col. D. G. Kerry, Lieut.-Col., Earl of Stirling, Lieut.-Col. Archibald
Cator, John Keswick, Henry Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)
Cautley, Henry Strother Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement Swift, Rigby
Cave, Rt. Hon. Sir George Knight, Captain Eric Ayshford Sykes, Col. Sir A. J. (Ches., Knutsford)
Cecil, Rt. Hon. Evelyn (Aston Manor) Lane-Fox, Major G. R. Sykes, Col. Sir Mark (Hull, Central)
Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord Hugh (Oxford U.) Larmor, Sir J. Talbot, Rt. Hon. Lord Edmund
Cecil,Rt.Hon.Lord Robert(Herts,Hitchin) Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle) Terrell, George (Wilts)
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worc's.) Lee, Sir Arthur Hamilton Terrell, Henry (Gloucester)
Cheyne, Sir W. W. Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury) Thomas-Stanford, Charles
Coates, Major Sir Edward Feetham Locker-Lampoon, G. (Salisbury) Tickler, T. G.
Coats, Sir Stuart A. (Wimbledon) Long, Rt. Hon. Walter Tryon, Captain George Clement
Colvin, Col. Richard Beale Lonsdale, James R. Turton, Edmund Russborough
Cory, James H. (Cardiff) Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston) Walker, Colonel William Hall
Courthope, Major George Loyd Lowther, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Appleby) Ward, Arnold S. (Herts, Watford)
Craig, Ernest (Cheshire, Crewe) Loyd, Archie Kirkman Warde, Colonel C. E. (Kent Mid)
Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet) McCalmont, Brig.-Gon. Robert C. A. Weston, J. W.
Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry Mackinder, Halford J. Wheler, Major Granville C. H.
Croft, Brigadier-General Henry Page Macmaster, Donald Whiteley, Sir H. J.
Dalziel, Davison (Brixton) Magnus, Sir Philip Williams, Col. Sir Robert (Dorset, W.)
Denison-Pender, Capt. J. C. Malcolm, Ian Willoughby, Lieut.-Col. Hon. Claud
Denniss, E. R. B. Mallaby-Deeley, Harry Wilson, Capt. A. Stanley (Yorks, E.R.)
Dixon, C. H. Marriott, John Arthur Ransome Wilson, Col. Leslie C. (Reading)
Duke, Rt. Hon. Henry Edward Mason, James F. (Windsor) Wilson-Fox, Henry (Tamworth)
Du Pre, Major W. Baring Meysey-Thompson, Colonel E. C. Wolmer, Viscount
Faber, George Denison (Clapham) Middlemore, John Throgmorton Wood, Hon. E. F. L. (Yorks, Ripon)
Falle, Sir Bertram Godfrey Mills, Lieut. Hon. Arthur R. Wood, Sir John (Stalybridge)
Fell, Sir Arthur Mitchell-Thomson, W. Worthington Evans, Major Sir L.
Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes (Fulham) Mount, William Arthur Wright, Henry Fitzherbert
Fitzroy, Hon. Edward A. Neville, Reginald J. N. Yate, Col. C. E.
Fletcher, John Samuel Newman, Major John R. P.
Forster, Rt. Hon. Henry William Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield) TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Sir
Gardner, Ernest Nieid, Sir Herbert George Younger and Sir S. Roberts.
Gastrell, Lieut.-Col. Sir W. Houghton O'Malley, William

Question put, and agreed to.