HC Deb 31 January 1918 vol 101 cc1778-823

  1. (1) If at an election for one member of Parliament there are more than two candidates, the election shall be according to the principle of the alternative vote as defined by this Act.
  2. (2) At a contested election for a university constituency, where there a-re two or more members to be elected, any election of the full number of members shall be according to the principle of proportional representation, each elector having one transferable vote as defined by this Act.
  3. (3) At a contested election for a university constituency in England or Ireland, the voting paper shall be signed by the voter in the presence of one witness who personally knows the voter and attests the fact of the voting paper having been signed by the voter in his presence at the place therein mentioned by signing his name thereto, and adding his designation and place of residence.
  4. (4) His Majesty may by Order in Council frame Regulations prescribing the method of voting, and transferring and counting votes, at any election, according to the principle of the transfer- 1779 able or of the alternative vote and for adapting the provisions of the Ballot Act, 1872, and any other Act relating to Parliamentary elections thereto, and with respect to the duties of returning officers in connection therewith; and any such Regulations shall have effect as if they were enacted in this Act.
  5. (5) Nothing contained in this Act shall, except as expressly provided herein, affect the method of conducting Parliamentary elections in force at the time of the passing of this Act.

Lords Amendment:

Leave out Sub-section (1).


I beg to move, "That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

This is a Bill to secure the more adequate representation of the people in the House of Commons. Last night we were discussing and arrived at a decision upon a proposal to secure the better representation of the people by providing unrepresented minorities with an opportunity of electing members to this House. For reasons put forward during the Debate yesterday, that Motion was defeated. The proposal which we inserted in the Bill in this House to secure the election of a majority member in single-member constituencies by means of the alternative vote is the reversal of the proposal of proportional representation, for while proportional representation is proposed to secure the representation of minorities, the alternative vote is inserted to secure the return of a member elected by a majority. It is almost a self-evident proposition that this House rests upon the democratic principle that those who are returned to it to represent the country shall be returned by a majority of electors voting at any public election. Therefore, it is difficult to sec why anyone who accepts the principte of majority representation in a democratic State should resist the proposal that where there are more than three candidates for a two-member constituency the election should be conducted on the principle of the alternative vote. Indeed, the proposition seems to me to be so self-evident that there can hardly arise any substantial debate upon it, except on the purely partisan and time-serving supposition that it is desirable to secure the representation of minorities by what I can only call a side-wind. But, seeing that the House deliberately by a large majority last night turned down the proposal to secure the representation of minorities in this House by a properly devised scheme of proportional representation, I think I am entitled to claim the unanimous support of this House in favour of the proposal which suggests that as long as the return by a majority of the electors remains as the basic principle of representation in this House, the electoral system should be so devised as to secure the practice of that principle in every individual case.

I know that there are some persons taking a more or less short-sighted view of the subject, who think that it will be disadvantageous to one party or to another, and particularly perhaps to one party, to retain the present system and not to introduce the alternative vote. But as that particular form of argument will not bear examination in the light of an enlightened public opinion, I am not prepared to give it the compliment of-detailed consideration in this House. I rest the claim that we should disagree with their Lordships House in their proposal to delete Sub-section (1) of Clause 18 on the broad public ground that it is desirable in every election for a member to sit in this House that he should represent a clear majority of the voters at such election. It is upon that ground, and upon that ground alone, that I base the proposal to disagree with the House of Lords, and having based it upon the only legitimate principle, I think no further argument need be added.


B beg to second the Motion.

4.0 P.M.

Having regard to what has happened in previous Debates, I do not propose to take exactly the same line as has been taken by the Mover of this Motion. I had the opportunity of saying on a previous occasion that I regarded this as almost the most important Clause in the Bill. Therefore, I make no apology for saying a few words about it. I cannot understand how it comes that the other Chamber has thought fit to strike out a provision which was put in by this House after exhaustive discussion for the purpose of securing fair elections. In almost every part of the world there has been some effort made to deal, either by way of second ballot or the alternative vote, with the problem that arises when more than two candidates woo the electors. We know what the history of this particular question has been in this House. It is about twelve years ago since my right hon. Friend the Member for Tyneside (Mr. J. M. Robertson) introduced a Bill into this House making provision for the alternative vote. So far as I recollect, at that time there was no particular party move against that proposal, and it was generally considered very undesirable that you should have no means of solving the question, which has to be solved in so many other walks of life, of what you are to do when no one has an absolute majority of votes. When the matter originally came before this House, many of us thought that it was part of the compromise, and we were very much surprised when we found that it was one of the matters which were to be left to the House. As a result, when the matter first came before the House, the proposal for the alternative vote was only secured by one vote. On a subsequent occasion it was secured by a considerably larger vote. I make no excuse for referring to the question now by way of party politics, because on that occasion no one will deny, and especially the hon. Baronet the Member for the Ayr Burghs (Sir G. Younger) will not deny—because he took a very active part in the matter—that there was an absolute party vote, and riot only that, but there was a deliberate whip up for the sake of their being a party vote.


Exactly the same as at Mr. Speaker's Conference.


We did not know it at the time.


The hon. Baronet is mistaken. There was no party Whip at Mr. Speaker's Conference.


I want to understand why the House of Lords left the proposal where it was. After the second time the matter was discussed here, when the alternative vote was carried by a substantial majority, and when the Government had put in a certain Schedule, by a carefully organised snap vote, which the hon. Member for the Ayr Burghs, with his usual candour, never made the slightest effort to disguise, a Schedule was added to the Bill which was practically never considered. I have a very vivid recollection that at that time it was generally said, and the Press generally affirmed, that as the House of Commons had put in a ridiculous Schedule, no doubt the whole thing would be dropped and the Upper House would know how to deal with tile matter. The Schedule in question, on examination, proved to be not so ridiculous as some people suggested. The hon. Member in question, and many of his Friends, supported it, as they said quite frankly, without having read it. When they read it, they proposed to make it ridiculous by leaving out its main feature, paragraph (b). We need not disguise from ourselves that the whole manœuvre had a frankly party character, and, as my lion. Friend who moved this Motion said, there is no other reason by which you can leave this provision out of the Bill. The proposal was subsequently restored to the Bill in its original form and we are now considering the Bill as originally introduced by the Government, making the provision discussed for-many years for dealing with the multiplicity of candidates at elections and by elections. I have never yet heard any argument put forward against it, except the very remarkable argument that there is something unsporting in interfering with what people regard as the first choice of the electors, namely, the man who is apparently at the head of the poll before the votes are properly counted. It would be just as fair to suggest that the man who wins the first heat in a hundred yards race had seine sort of prior claim to be considered the winner of the final heat. It entirely ignores the fact that the result is never declared until the whole machinery of counting has been employed, because the public is only informed of the result, the whole thing being done in privacy and the whole question being decided in private. That was one argument used.

When we were discussing another Schedule on another occasion, we had a most interesting discussion, because the. Schedule then under discussion, which was put forward by one of the hon. Members from Scotland, contained a provision that the particular proposal now before the House does not contain. In the particular proposal now before the-House, the proposal the Government originally introduced, and the Schedule the Home Secretary considered as the only possible Schedule, although he personally was not in favour of the thing at all—in this particular proposal, one eliminates the third man in a three-cornered fight and practically one gets all the advantages of a second ballot without the expense and trouble of it. It was seriously suggested that a good reason against this particular proposal was that it eliminated the third man, whereas it possibly ought to have eliminated the second or the first, and we suddenly found hundreds of hon. Members on the other side of the House, or what used to he the other side of the House, most concerned with the position of the man who in a three-cornered fight was third. The hon. Member for Ayr Burghs and others said it was unfair to the third man to eliminate hint. Of course, that is an argument which would come quite well from the mouth of the hon. Member who originally put forward this Schedule, 'but in their mouths it seemed to lack sincerity, because their proposal is not to consider the case of either the second or the third, but only to consider the first. Although there might be an adequate argument for saying that you ought to devise a scheme by which the third man might find himself at the top of the poll, there is no argument for saying that, because we cannot do that we are now going to leave out of our calculations claimants who are at the top or second on the poll. I do not defend the scheme on the ground that it is perfect.

The whole question was exhaustively examined by a Royal Commission. They went through all the schemes, and they reported unanimously that they considered this was the best of the schemes. There was obviously something that required, a remedy.Primâ facie, one would have thought that was a good reason for putting it in now. What we have seen during the past ten or twenty years is nothing to what we are going -to see during the next few years in regard to the difficulty of settling the question where there is a multiplicity of candidates. One would gather from the Debates we have had on proportional representation that many hon. Members would welcome a system under which there is a considerably larger choice of candidates. If you are going to have a larger choice of candidates, You must have some machinery which will secure that they are fairly elected. What has happened throughout the world has been that the lack of a good system of demo- cratic voting, in the eases where there were more than two candidates, has always been to the advantage of toe party which—I say it in no offensive way—is either the Conservative, or, as some would say, the reactionary party, because reformers are naturally inclined to split into different groups. Everyone has different views as to how things should be changed, although people may combine, and only have the same view as to how they should be kept in the same position. There must be in all cases in all countries these differences of opinion between people who are wanting to change things. We have had the evidence and the Rennet of the Royal Commission. There is always this demand in progressive forces in all countries that they should have some weight in deciding these matters.

Let me take an instance. During the next few years there is bound to be, if one follows affairs in this country and certain uprisings of political forces. a very great difference of opinion in the world between progressive men and women who certainly are by no means backward in the progressive movement. who would class themselves, some as Individualists and some as Socialists. You might have the case of candidate A., who wants to keep things practically as they are, while candidate B. is a keen Individualist, and candidate 2. is a Socialist. There are many points on which Individualists and Socialists can combine, but to say that every constituency should be deprived of saying whether in certain matters of progress they should be represented by an Individualist or a Socialist seems to me to be perfectly absurd. We are told that during the next few years the. Labour party in this country is going to put into the field three or four hundred candidates. There is no Member in this House who will deny that they have a perfect, right to do so. Just as the Conservative party wish to fight every seat, and just as the Liberal party wish to fight every seat, so you would imagine the Labour party would want to fight every seat. One would even imagine that the National party would be with us in the Lobby on this matter, because they would want to fight every seat, if they have not already disappeared. It is inconceivable that any party desirous of having independent existence can possibly stand aside on a question like this. We all know what has happened for some years past, that there has been a desire in this constituency or that the Labour party should put up a candidate—I am sure the Labour Members will not deny this—and it has been said to them: "Do not put forward a candidate now; it will split the vote." Again, in another division a Liberal candidate has been told the same thing. On the whole these arguments have told admittedly against the Labour panty. The Liberal party, being the party in possession, have sought to gain by arrangement of that sort.

Now we have got on, and we have to face the situation that at the next election you may have, not thirty or forty Labour candidates, but three hundred or four hundred. What may be the result? That you will find that a party which is in a substantial minority all through the country may get a majority of Members in this House. I wonder if any hon. Member really thinks that in dangerous times, such as were alluded to by the Minister of Blockade last night, we are going to do justice, either to this House or to the country, or to our consciences if we are going to allow a state of things to arise in this country under which, through a faulty electoral machine, we may find a minority controlling the fortunes of this country at the most dangerous time, perhaps, through which we have ever passed, because that is what we may drift to. The Minister of Blockade told us that he was terribly oppressed by the danger of what might happen after the War. I am not in the least oppressed by what would happen after the War, provided we have two things, first, if we have a franchise based on the widest possible principles and secondly, if our electoral system is absolutely fair. But if we are going to have a system which loads the dice in favour of any one political party, and which results in the minority ruling where the majority should rule, we are going to drift into a very dangerous position. Suppose we have a case where, in the majority of constituencies in this country we have minority candidates returned and the Government is not representative. Does anyone deny, if we had a position like that, where the Government really represents a series of accidents in our electoral machine, there would be a great danger that the people of this country would resent it? I do not think they would be wrong. I regard it as absolutely essential to the, safety of the country that at the next election the method of election in every way should be absolutely fair and the right of the voter to choose particular men should be absolutely unchallenged. I am told sometimes by some of my Labour friends that this might possibly tend against the Labour party because you might find the two propertied parties would combine against Labour. I do not think it would matter if they did because Labour only expects to rule if it has a majority over all other parties.

Sometimes people say this would hurt the Liberal party because there will be a deluge of Labour candidates. I do not think it matters which party is going to. be hit as long as the system is fair and we are perfectly clear that the party which wins is representative of the country. We argued yesterday a question the only-object of which is said to be that we should. get a fair representation of the people in. the House of Commons. We have been. told again and again by Members who support proportional representation that this House should be a microcosm of the nation. At any rate this House is not going to be a microcosm of the nation if you are not going to have any system of alternative vote or second ballot, and I urge those who have opposed this on former occasions to give it more serious consideration and to consider whether in the interests of fair play they have any right to pursue an opposition which is based upon no political principles but merely upon an idea that they are going to win a party advantage which if they won it would be extremely dangerous not only to themselves but to the country. We may have before us very difficult and very stormy times, but I am confident that they will be a great deal less difficult and stormy if our constitutional government is based upon the rock of really popular representation and that half the benefits which will have been won by this Bill are nut thrown away. We are entitled to be told the reasons why we should accept the Lords Amendment in this case and why we should sink our own views. We were told yesterday that the Lords were speaking absolutely without prejudice of any sort because it did not matter to them and it was not a party question. We cannot say the same upon this question. Throughout our discussions in this House there has been no disguise of the fact that this is absolutely a party question.


Do I understand the hon. and learned Gentleman to say that the Commission had recommended this proposal or said it appeared to them among the various proposals which were suggested the one least open to objection?


I was under the impression that they used words like that and recommended it.


I am only asking for information.


I believe they actually recommended it, having considered all these proposals, and as far as I know no Committee appointed by the Government has ever done anything else. After we have settled so much in this Bill on the principle of give-and-take it would he most unfair to both the Liberal party and the Labour party—and I know I am speaking the views which have already been voiced by the leader of the Labour party on a former occasion—to let us have this whole scheme crippled merely by the desire of certain people to win a party advantage which would be very dearly bought and would strike at the root of the whole stability of our national government.


In his last sentence the hon. and learned Gentleman embodied the crux of the whole situation. He said the Speaker's Conference recommended this, and having more or less accepted the whole of these recommendations we ought not to spoil the scheme by excluding the alternative vote. What is the history of the alternative vote? If it had been known to the Government that the alternative vote in the Speaker's Conference was carried by a purely party vote it would not have been embodied in the Bill. This Bill was based on the desire of the Government to give an opportunity to the House of carrying out proposals agreed upon by the Speaker's Conference. In two other cases it was left to the House to decide quite freely whether or not to accept the majority recommendation—women suffrage and proportional representation. But the difference between the vote in the Commons on proportional representation and women suffrage and the alternative vote was a very distinct one. There was a cleavage of parties in both the other cases, but there was none on the alternative vote. This is a highly contentious party question, and it is almost a public scandal that it should be launched in the House at this juncture. Many hon. Members are fighting in France and cannot be brought here for a thing of this kind at a moment's notice, so that we are handicapped in a matter of this kind which is so contentious. I am not going to argue again all I have said before on the alternative vote. The House is weary of the arguments, and knows what there is to be said on either side already, and probably would not take very long in coming to a decision. But we are faced by a difficulty which is not easily surmounted. Yesterday a certain section of the House did its very best to see that minorities were reasonably represented. They did not succeed. In this particular case they desire, if the Government scheme is adopted, to put in the hands of any two parties in any constituency the absolute power to crush the third. They are giving to the second choice of the man lowest on the poll the absolute settlement. A good deal has been said about the Schedule of my hon. and gallant Friend (Major Chapple) and my support of it, for party reasons, as my hon. Friend opposite said. But that Schedule, at all events, had this merit, that it recognised that the first choice was of more value than the second. It is intolerable that there should be placed in the hands of any two parties in any constituency a power, by a bargain which it would be perfectly easy to make beforehand and to carry out, utterly to crush the minority, which may be only, after all, a very small minority. That itself shows the faultiness of the thing. I have an extract here from the Royal Commission, which I shall read: We are bound to draw attention to the fact that in Australia the opportunities for party intrigue and the gratification of personal ill-feeling which are conferred, both by the power of using and by that of withholding preferences, have been found to produce regrettable results. I should have thought that that itself would be sufficient to induce the Commission not to make the recommendation. I had an opportunity yesterday of talking to a very prominent member of one of the Legislatures in Australia. He said, "Whatever you do, I hope you will give the transferable vote and not the alternative vote. The one is fair and reasonable: it has been used in my particular section of Australia for a considerable time and no one would wish now to go back on it; but as to the other, it is poison." That is the view I take of it.


I wish to say a few words with regard to the speech of the hon. and learned Member (Mr. Hemmerde), particularly in relation to the inference he drew from the way this question was left by Mr. Speaker's Conference. This is one of the questions which was only introduced by a majority, and not a very large majority, vote, and the Division was a solitary exception in that it was only arrived at on a party vote. But that is not the point I want to devote myself to. Introduced into the general recommendations of the Conference in the manner which has been indicated it formed a part of the whole of those recommendations, and the part which has the most bearing on it is obviously the recommendation for proportional representation to be applied to a considerable area, but not the whole area, of the country. If you eliminated from the single-member constituencies all that considerable number, I think about 160, which were intended to be grouped, quite unanimously so far as the Conference is concerned, into three- and five-member constituencies, the proportion that the alternative vote assumes is altogether different. It, seems to me that the House, having now rejected it three times, really carries with it as a necessary corollary that this experiment in the alternative vote is an entirely different thing and should, of course, go, and if we are to have only single-member constituencies and do nothing in the way of representation of minorities, we certainly should not introduce into the Bill that part which commanded no great body of support and no unanimity, but is an acute matter of party controversy, while you have rejected that part which was unanimously accepted upstairs and which in this House, at any rate, is regarded as a much fairer and more equitable method of arriving at minority representation. The hon. and learned Gentleman will excuse me if I pay him a lather backhanded compliment. He is a learned as well as an hon. Member. He is no doubt a very distinguished advocate. He made an extraordinarily good case out of exceedingly difficult material. He especially appealed to the House to include this proposal of the alternative vote because he pointed to the fact that after the War—and, indeed, before the War is over—there is no probability of there being anything like a cleavage into two parties, as in the Victorian era, but that we shall have the country divided into three parties, which will all be minorities. How does the alternative vote, which one supposed was going to remedy this state of affairs, remedy it? It cannot really convert any one of these three minorities into a majority. If there are only three minorities, the most that the alternative vote can do is to enable two of those minorities to see that the third has practically no representation in this House at all. That that should be a proposal calculated to give confidence to the electorate in the legislation of this House passes my understanding. Under the simple system where there are three candidates for one seat in a single-member constituency, the principle of the beat man winning—that is, the best man in the sense that he has received more individual votes than either of the other two—seems to be infinitely the best method, although nothing like so satisfactory as the method of doing away in a large measure with these single-member constituencies and getting a real and accurate representation of the people by proportional representation. However, the House has decided against that, and it seems to me that to introduce this further method of the alternative vote, far from making the matter better, will make it infinitely worse, because it will simply enable any two minorities to combine together and practically secure the whole representation of the country. The hon. and learned Member (Mr. Hemmerde) made one remark which seemed to me most extraordinary. He said one of the arguments against the alternative vote had been that the electors would come to the conclusion that the man who was at the head of the poll was somehow or other jockeyed out of his seat by the counting of the alternative or second votes, and that, therefore, the electorate would be dissatisfied. He said that was not so; that it would all be done secretly, that the electors would never know, and, therefore, would have no cause to be dissatisfied. If that is so, then the machinery to give effect to the alternative vote makes the matter much worse than I had thought. Surely it is better, if the best man is not going to win, that the electors should, at any rate, know how the parties are divided in the constituency.


I never suggested that they would not know. I said they would not know until the poll was declared and that when they did know they would know who was the first on the poll, but that they would not know who was at the head of the poll in the first instance until they knew who was first after the complete count.


If that is so, I do not follow the hon. and learned Member's point. If they are to know that the man who commanded the greatest amount of support is not the man who is elected, but that the man who is elected is only the man elected by a combination of two minorities, then, I think, they will have greater cause for dissatisfaction. The fact that the two announcements are made at the same time, that the best man has not won, but that the third man, perhaps, has won, seems to me to make the result of the election even more unsatisfactory than I imagined it to be. There is no argument based upon proportional representation in favour of the alternative vote. I would ask hon. Members to consider the great difference between the two proposals. Proportional representation has been opposed almost exclusively on the ground of inconvenience or the complication of machinery, etc., but no hon. Member has said that in a five-member constituency, where something over one-fifth of the electors, a small minority, would have the opportunity of electing their own member to represent their own views without any collusion or support from any other section at all, that that could possibly act otherwise than as a great safeguard in times of stress and revolutionary change. But if we keep to the single-member constituency and have a mere device by which two parties can arrange together that the third shall not by any possibility get its member elected, that can give no sense of security, and can give no possible sense of justice to the electors of the country, or confidence in a House elected on such a system.


As has already been pointed out, this proposal comes before the House with what may be called a double recommendation. It. comes with a recommendation from the Committee on electoral systems, which reported some years ago, and it also comes with a recommendation, it may he a majority recommendation, from the Speaker's Conference. The general case for-it has been stated repeatedly with very great clearness, and I do not want to cover the same ground again, but 1. would take some exception to several of the points raised by the hon. Member (Mr. Peto). He spoke of the alternative vote as if it would prevent the man who got the most votes from being elected and as if the present system secures that the man who got the most votes was elected. The present system does secure that the man who gets more votes than any other individual candidate is elected, but what we want to secure is that no man shall be elected until and unless he gets a majority of the total votes in the count. That is the only in which the rights of the majority can be fairly secured. Reference has been, made to proportional representation, and it has been suggested that because proportional representation has been defeated that this scheme should be defeated. That is entirely a non sequitur. I voted for proportional representation, and I am disappointed that it has been defeated, because I would like to have seen the minority more adequately represented; but the fact that the minority is not to be more adequately represented is no reason for depriving the majority of the controlling voice-Therefore, I support this proposition.

There is another consideration which has not been put forward very strongly which appears to me to reinforce the importance of the alternative vote, and that is that it would tend very naturally to promote political progress. The opponents of this proposal are rather given to speaking of the voters as if in any single constituency all the, voters can be card-indexed as belonging to one party or another. That does not fairly represent the condition of the voters. It certainly does not represent their condition fairly in Scotland, and I do not believe that it represents their condition fairly in other parts of the country. Where they have a choice of candidates they naturally vote for the candidate they prefer, or the candidate who comes nearest to their views. But they are by no means marked with some distinguishing mark, as if they belonged to a flock of sheep and would always go one way. In Scottish constituencies and in other constituencies there are large numbers of electors who generally vote with one or other political party, but who hold strongly their own views and are prepared to vote in support of their own views. I will take a given constituency—and there are many of them—where the electors have been accustomed to having two candidates, one belonging to each of the two great historic parties. Suppose they have been used to having a Unionist and a Liberal candidate and that those who vote Liberal under normal circumstances are in a substantial majority over those who vote Unionist. Suppose that a considerable number of those electors feel very strongly in favour of promoting local option over the drink traffic or of promoting the land values movement, or of promoting any of the other variations from strict party lines with which we are more or less familiar. What is the position of those electors, assuming that the official Liberal candidate is against the particular movement which they have particularly at heart? They may prefer him over the Unionist and they would not vote for him if they had a candidate of their own in the field. If they have a candidate of their own the result is to split the Liberal vote and to hand over the seat to the Unionist, although the Liberals as a whole have a majority in the division. In these circumstances the Liberals who would vote for the unofficial Liberal candidate would prefer the official Liberal candidate to have been elected rather than the Unionist candidate. Under the present system the result is that they lose their majority and hand over the seat to a man who has only a minority of votes. The practical result over the country is that they do not put up an unofficial candidate and the party machine is stronger than ever. It seems to me that that is a very undesirable result.

We want as far as possible to give scope for variations. I have taken as an illustrative case the position in the Liberal party, because, as my hon and learned Friend has pointed out, these variations are, and naturally are, more common in a party which, taken as a whole, is rather more associated with progress, than in a party, which, taken as a whole, is more concerned with preserving what is good in our existing institutions. Development of our political institutions comes with progress and comes through successful variations, therefore, variations ought to be given every fair opportunity of developing in order that progress may be promoted. If we had this opportunity of developing our system I believe that new ideas would gain ground, new ideas would take hold of our political life and both our political life and our national institutions would to a very large extent be developed and brought more keenly into touch with the life and thought of the people. I therefore support the motion for disagreeing with the Lords Amendment and in favour of the alternative vote because of its inherent justice, because it would secure that in any single-member constituency the member would be returned by a majority and not by a minority vote, and also because I am strongly inclined to think that the general effect of adopting it throughout the country would be to promote and develop our political institutions and bring them more in harmony with the general development of national thought.


The Member for North-West Norfolk (Mr. Hemmerde) delivered a speech which was wanting neither in courage nor in candour. He condemned his opponents for proposing the alternative vote upon the ground, as he said. that they were animated by partisan feeling. Literature is full of condemnation of that particular form of hypocrisy Which consists in reprobating those sins to which you are yourself most addicted. Two classical instances are, of course, those of the Gracchi and of the Devil rebuking Sin. I venture to think that neither the offences of the Gracchi nor the alleged offences of. the Devil are comparable with the offence which has just been perpetrated by the hon. and learned Member for North-West Norfolk because, while he accused those who oppose the alternative vote of being influenced by partisan feeling, the whole sum and substance of his own speech was instinct and ripe with partisan feeling of a most objectionable and most candid character. What was his argument? He pointed out, I think, with perfect truth, that Ii the past difficulties had arisen in single-member constituencies where a Unionist was standing between the Labour and the Liberal candidates, it being felt that the presence of a Liberal and a Labour man, as well as a Unionist, might imperil the success of the Liberal or Labour man. He pointed out, too, that these difficulties had been squared to a very large extent and squared to the disadvantage of the Labour party. I gathered from him that the superior intelligence and capacity for intrigue of the Liberal had overcome the stupidity of the Labour candidate, and in many cases had caused him to retire so as to leave a straight contest between the Liberal and the Unionist. He foresaw that this highly desirable result for the members of the Liberal party might not be achieved in the future, as the Labour party were awakening to the true nature of the alliance and were not going to be the pliant instruments in the hands of the Liberal party in the future which they had been in the past. He said, further, that the Labour party would contest a very large number of seats at the next election and then came the danger that the Liberals would not be able to square the Labour man, and there would be three-cornered fights. How was that disastrous result to be avoided? By the adoption of the alternative vote, in the interests, frankly, of a partisan object.


In the interests of fair play.


That is the name you give it, but I suggest a partisan object is its true description. The object is to prevent the man who gets in at the head of the poll having the seat, and to enable the other two—it may be the Labour and the Liberal candidates—to make a corrupt bargain by means of which a man whom the voters had refused to place at the head of the poll should by some juggling be given that position which he ought not to occupy. I think I am not wrong, therefore, in suggesting that my hon. and learned Friend has himself committed those sins which he so lightly attributed to us. What was the object of the hon. Member who moved the Motion? It was founded on the well-known petitio principii. He says my object is to have the man elected by the majority, and then he adds—a little ignoring the facts—my method will secure that. I venture to say it is exactly the reverse. You have three men standing for a constituency. The voters say A. should be first and put him at the head of the poll; B. is placed second, and C. third. The whole object of this Amendment is, however, to reverse the decision of the voters. A. is not to be at the head of the poll, but either B. or C. is to take that position; in other words, the will of the majority to put A. at the head of the poll is to be reversed and by some more or less corrupt bargain be- tween the supporters of the other two candidates one or other of those two will be placed at the head of the poll.


Does the hon. and learned Member wish this House to consist of minority members who do not represent the constituencies?


I want the man at the head of the poll to remain there. I call him the majority member because he is elected by the majority of the voters, and is put by them at the head of the poll. Let me put this to my hon. Friend. If you are going to transfer the second votes to one of the two candidates who failed to get at the head of the poll, how are you going to be sure that it is the real wish of the constituency that the man so elected should be at the head of the poll. What I suggest is this: When a constituency votes for A., B. and C., the man who gets the greatest number of votes should be elected. That is quite an intelligible proposition which the voters will understand, but if, by means of some corrupt bargain between the supporters of two of the candidates agreeing to give one another their second vote, you are to alter the decision of the electors in this way, you introduce a totally new element into the election, an element partly of chance and partly of intrigue. I am afraid the intrigue will play a very large part, and the result will be that when the electors say that A. is to be at the head of the poll you will, by this combination of chance and intrigue, defeat the wishes of the electorate, and secure the return to this House of the second or third man. To call that a, vote by the majority is to use a false term; it is, in fact, an ingenious device by which the partisan wishes of the hon. and learned Member for North-West Norfolk can be promoted, and it is for that reason that I hope this House will accept the decision of the other place and thus give effect to the true voice constituencies.


The Debate which has proceeded thus far has no doubt afforded many of us great enjoyment, but those of us who want to reach a decision which would represent the positive aspects of the question will probably feel that the hon. and learned Member, apart from the momentary enjoyment which he has given us, has not really advanced very far the solution of this problem, because, while he disclaimed party feeling in the matter, every bargain he referred to was corrupt, every action of persons, be they Liberal or Labour, was described as an intrigue, and everything,which would happen under the alternative vote was put under a moral slur. Although these views may be valuable as throwing light on the mental attitude of my hon. and learned Friend, they really do not carry us very much further. It is not true that the majority of any constituency are deprived of their rights by the proposal of the alternative vote. If a majority of the voters vote for any man, whatever his political opinion, he is, and ought to be, returned to Parliament. It is only when there is not a majority of the votes cast concentrated on one individual that this problem arises at all. May we not attribute to one another, as I am sure we should, a desire to deal with this problem in a spirit of what is best for Parliament when the election is over? I have very grave doubt whether any party can in any way hope to get any immediate or contingent benefit by the adoption of the alternative vote. Those who think that it helps either Liberals or Conservatives appear to me to be singularly wanting in profundity of thought and in experience of electoral matters. For a considerable period of our history the balance of political cleavage was such that it is not unfair to say that one side was anxious to retain things as they are, while the others thought more or less rapidly in a variety of ways, and no doubt there was a more vociferous tendency among those who wanted to change things.

But does anybody imagine that that will be the state of things after the War? Is it the state of things now in America? Persons often ask themselves and occasionally answer political conundrums, and one of those conundrums is, Which is the Liberal and which is the Conservative party in the United States? There the lines of parties run in quite different ways. For years before the War it must have been obvious to Members of this House that the public outside the great parties in this country was divided in regard to securing great political changes. When you have parties no longer concerned for great political changes, some in one direction and some in another, then both sides will have the same danger, if it be a danger, of cleavage within their own ranks, and there will be a greater danger of this House having it ranks filled by persons who, whatever party they may belong to, do not really represent the majority of the constituents for whom they will speak when in this House. The whole object of the proposal of the alternative vote is not to help one school of political thought against another, it is not to benefit any political party, and the difference of opinion between us is surely summed up by my hon. Friends who are anxious not to have the simplicity of ordinary elections disturbed, by which, if a man gets at the head of the poll, although he only represents one-third of the voters, is said to represent the constituency. On the other hand, many of us think that that is most unsatisfactory, and that the weight of such a man's vote in this House would be less than it should be, and that the collision between his opinions and the balanced opinions of his constituents would weaken the power of this House and widen the gulf which is always growing after an election between this House and the constituencies. On the other hand, if you have by means of the alternative vote a person who is returned by at any rate a majority of the people voting, his position in this House is stronger, and his connection with the constituency which sends him is closer and more stable. I honestly believe it will conduce not to more violent changes, but to greater stability in the decisions of the House. Now that this House has rejected the other method for increasing the stability of the electoral relationship, it surely is much more important that it should look favourably on this attempt to gain that stability, and, in spite of what has fallen from my hon. and learned Friend, I believe this proposal would tend towards greater stability of political action in this country, and that it would strengthen in this House not those forces which make for changes which I like or those forces which make for changes that I detest, but that it would trengthen in this House the true kind of stable and conservative influence, because it would make the members of this House more truly representative, and would in many cases make a man, where he felt that he represented not only those who agree with him on important political questions, but others who agree with him on fewer, more cautious in his Parliamentary action. If that were prevalent, while it would lead to less rapid change it would lead to a more permanent adherence to the position which this House should occupy in the Realm.

5.0 P.M.


The hon. Gentleman who has just sat down (Sir R. Adkins) has made a very interesting and closely reasoned contribution to our Debates, but before I come to what he said—with much of which, in its premises, though not in its conclusions, I was in agreement—I should like to make an observation or two upon the earlier speeches which have been made, and, if it is not impertinent to do so, on the attitude of the House as a whole on this question. I cannot but regret that through a series of accidents this subject has each time been discussed in very thin Houses, and, as I think, the real opinion of the House has never been properly tested upon it. That is not the fault of any of us. I hasten to add that this is the first occasion on which I have been present at one of these Debates, because B was one of those who was absent on the other Occasions. We all know that the calls upon us at this time are very many, and I think most of us find great difficulty in bringing our minds, in the midst of the circumstances of to-day, really to consider seriously questions of electoral policy, however grave they may be. What are the arguments by which this Motion to disagree with the Lords Amendment, and to insist upon the retention of the alternative vote, are commended to the House? The hon. Gentleman who moved that Motion dealt with it very briefly. He expressed himself as incapable of seeing how any man who wished the majority to prevail could come to any other conclusion. He thought it unnecessary to argue the question, and was content to make the Motion. The hon. Member who seconded the Motion took a different line. He permitted himself argument, but I am not sure that he served his cause better by the arguments that he adduced. He announced that there could be no question that the whole of the opposition was because, in the opinion of one party in this House, the proposal would work to their disadvantage. He happens to belong to a different party, but lie must see that the converse of his argument is true and that while lie imputes to everyone who opposes the proposal that they are influenced by party considerations it is obvious that these party considerations have not been absent front his own mind, or from the minds of those acting, with him.

I say plainly that I rank myself with the hon. Gentleman (Sir R. Adkins) in saying that those Members who think there is a great party advantage in this matter one way or the other are living in a Fool's Paradise. It would have been true, even under our old conditions. Bf members of the Liberal party, as our party divisions exited before the War, thought that every vote given to a Labour candidate would have been theirs if there had been no Labour candidate in the field, they are making a profound mistake. If they had seen some of our Unionist canvass returns they would have known that under given conditions men who have been life-long Unionists have considered that, in a particular election, it was more important to put in a direct representative of Labour than to assert any other political principle, and, accordingly, it is by no means to be assumed that if you have three candidates for a single seat the votes given to the third candidate will of necessity all go to either one or the other of the two candidates who stand first on the list. On the contrary, if the third candidate were not there they would be divided into proportions which none of us can tell. I do not think therefore that there ever was any clear party advantage on the one side or the other as we existed before the War. If I foresee anything of our political situation after the War, I am afraid—for I should regret that result —that it will tend to the multiplication of groups and sections. I am rather afraid it is inevitable. I hope we shall work through that phase, and come back in the main to the large parties united on broad programmes: but I think that we shall go through a phase when there will be a great deal of fissiparous tendency in all quarters. If that is so, it becomes still more certain that you cannot say beforehand, even if you could say at all how we are going to group ourselves as parties when the War is over, what the relations of those parties will be to one another, or if the candidate of one happens to be at the bottom of the poll—whose votes have, therefore, to be transferred to one of the others—how they will go. It will not follow that they will certainly go to a particular party. They may go to any party I do, therefore, so far as I know my own mind, come to the consideration of the question without the idea of reaping a party advantage, not because I am insensible of party advantage—if I knew exactly which my party 'vas going to be,,or what party I should have the opportunity of belonging to—but because I do not believe, as a practical man, it is worth betting sixpence one way or the other on whether it is to the advantage of one party or not.

I come to the second argument. It is that the Royal Commission reported in favour of this. I do not want to be disrespectful about Royal Commissions, but I think the composition of this Commission was rather peculiar for the purposes for which they were appointed. They consisted of a gentleman who had belonged to the unionist party, but who was associated with the Liberal party at the time of his appointment—that gentleman had ceased to be a member of the House of Commons, though he had once been so; two members of the Liberal party, one of whom had also ceased to be a member of the House of Commons; three permanent officials, I think; a gentleman from New Zealand, not intimately associated with our electoral system here, though I think he has been in very much sympathy with the Liberal party also; and one member from the party to which I belong. It does not seem to me that if you wanted an impartial examination of the question by men who were really experienced in the working of electoral systems that is exactly the Commission you would have chosen. But did they recommend this scheme? Let us see what they said about it. Perhaps I had better begin by saying that they did recommend it. My right hon. Friend opposite is quite right in saying that We recommend the adoption of the alternative vote in cases where more than two candidates stand for one seat. We do not recommend its application to two-member constituencies. But they recommend the abolition of the two-member constituency. You are, therefore, carrying out only half their recommendation, and I venture to think you are carrying the most contentious part of their recommendation. For my own part, I have never understood why the two-member constituencies were retained when we adopted the one-member system, and I regret that it survived that revolution in our Parliamentary system. That was their conclusion. What are the arguments by which they were led to make this recommendation? The scheme eliminates the worst candidate, but gives you no security that the best shall be returned. Meaning, I think, by that that the worst candidate is the one for whom the fewest people vote, and not any reflection on him—the man who is numerically weakest. But there is no security that you shall have the best candidate, by which I understand the candidate whom most people would prefer to see elected if they were choosing between the two then in the field. Secondly, they say: It involves for the electorate a serious and intermittent change of habit. When there are two candidates standing, the elector, as in the old days, marks his ballot paper with a cross for one or the other but the moment there are three candidates, or more, lie has to adopt a perfectly different system—the system which he would have had to adopt if we had not yesterday rejected the proposal for proportional representation. He will then have to give a series of preferences in proportion to the number of candidates, and unless lie arranges the whole of the candidates in his order of preference the scheme will not work. He must not only mark his first preference and second preference, but he must go on to mark his every preference afterwards, and, say the Commissioners, the result will be not to get the man elected whom the majority desire, but somebody else. Thirdly, they observe that as a matter of fact the electorate will not do this, and that Experience of the alternative vote in other places, which may be expected to be repeated here, shows that the wastage of the alternative vote would probably be as high as per cent. Sixty-live per cent. will not use their alternative vote, and certainly if you come to a third and fourth alternative the wastage will be very high indeed. It is essential for the proper working of the scheme that that wastage should not take place, and yet the wastage is shown in practice to take place. Then they go on to say that the difficulties are greater if more than three candidates are in the field, and in this connection they point out that the very adoption of this system will lead to the multiplication of candidates. It will be an encouragement to a frivilous multiplication of candidates, and there is no effective way of preventing it. I am merely repeating what is reported by the Commissioners who are claimed as recommending this system. If the recommendations stood without any reason we might wonder at it, but we should have to take as the whole of the arguments, but they set forth these objections, and when they are taken as in favour of this we should at least know what they have said about it. They point out that if more than three candidates stand the real issue which is decided, when you come to the final choice, might inevitably be obscured from the elector when he had to mark his preference. In other words, the issue which was actually decided by the transfer of the vote is not the issue on which the voter voted at all. I do not want to take up time by reading extracts, but anybody who cares to see what the meaning is in that respect will, if he turns to the Report, find a hypothetical illustration arising out of Free Trade and Tariff Reform candidates in the Unionist party on page 8, paragraph 23. They also say that they are bound to draw attention to the fact that the system has not worked well elsewhere where it has been tried: We are bound to draw attention to the fact that in Australia the opportunities for party intrigue and gratification of personal ill-feeling which are conferred, both by the power of using and by that of withholding preference: have been found to produce regrettable results. Finally, they observe that the system cannot be applied to two-member constituencies.

Having thus examined it and set forth its defects, having damned it with the faintest of praise, they proceed to include it in their recommendations. I think that the case which they have made against it is overwhelming, and I do not follow the reasoning which led them, after making such a case against it, to recommend it for our adoption. I fear exactly what they say has happened in Australia, exactly that which in a brief but eloquent passage my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs dwelt upon at a late hour last night as being the greatest scandal and danger of our electoral system, the formation of small groups with some personal, sectional or class interest, who approach candidates, where the electorate is nearly equally divided, and, without regard to the broad, national interest on which the contest ought to be decided, say, "Here are so many votes. If you promise to do this thing for us, you shall have them." That is the worst feature of our present electoral system, and the only thing that prevents it having a much greater effect is the fact that majorities are not so equally divided as that, and the fact that our political life is an honourable life in which honourable men take part who will not be blackmailed by that kind of thing. We should have the same system there multiplied and increased to a great extent.

I was spending a brief holiday in France some years ago in a southern town when there was an election going on. I occupied part of my leisure by reading all the electoral literature that I could find, which there, as here, largely coloured the walls of the town in which I was. I thought it very difficult to make out what the parties and sections of parties were fighting about, just as I dare say foreigners sometimes find it equally difficult to disentangle the real choice of our elections from the party literature which we are accustomed to issue about them. But I asked a French friend, and I have asked others, to explain to me the multiplicity of candidates, which is a common feature at the French elections, where it must be known, both to many of the candidates and their friends, that they could not possibly have a chance of succeeding, and I got from all the same answer. They want to create something which they could afterwards use as an instrument for bargaining. They propose a candidate in order to group a certain number of electors around him, not with any hope that he will be elected, but in anticipation of the second ballot—of course, it is equally applicable to the alternative vote—so as they can go to the candidates among whom lies the real choice and can say, "Now we have got so many hundred votes to transfer; what are they worth to you? They mean the difference between success and failure. Are they worth a prefecture, or can you get a bureau d'étape or some little position for myself as a slight recognition of ray long, unswerving, and unselfish public service, and from a kindly feeling for the friends to whom you owe so much?" That is the kind of thing that goes on, and will go on, if you encourage it by this system, and it is not because it is not in the interests of any party—I do not care what party—but it is because it lends itself to that kind of bargaining, that kind of subordination of broad issues to little issues, of national issues to person and class issues, that I oppose this, as I opposed the other fantastic scheme that has been developed by the same people, in the hope of pro- ducing some result other than that which would be produced by a plain, straightforward contest among plain, straightforward men.


There will be very wide agreement in this House with the opening remarks of the right hon. Gentleman who has just spoken. He appealed to the House not to discuss this matter in relation to the fortunes of a particular party, but to view it on the broad ground of sound electoral principle, and he said, what appears to many of us to be true, that no one can forecast, probably not at any time, and certainly not at the present time, what will be the future of parties, and what will be the effect upon parties of a particular proposal of this kind. The question is, How can we get a true representation of the people? My hon. Friend the Member for Ayr Burghs said that this was a scheme that enabled two parties to crush a minority. What is his proposal? Thai the minority is to rule. He uses the term "crush." I should prefer the term "defeat." He desires to see the minority triumphant and sending in here the representative of the constituency which it contests. The facts are notorious. We need not go to distant countries or to the Reports of Royal Commissions. We have only to search over our own recent memories. We have only to hook back at the experience of the last few years to recall the fact that again and again Members have reached this House, and at this moment there are Members sitting in this House, who notoriously, to their own knowledge and to the knowledge of all of us, do not on the main questions of the day represent the desires of the majority of their constituents. That is the essential fact, and, compared with the inherent vices of the existing system, none of the defects—and it has some defects—of an alternative system can for a moment be allowed to weigh.

If in one of these elections for a single seat in which there are three candidates a minority candidate has been returned, and everyone knows he is a minority candidate, and if on the very next day it was possible to take a referendum of the same constituency and ask whether the man who had been returned to this House had the support of the constituency, you would have an overwhelming majority in the negative. Is that a sound system? Am I misrepresenting the facts? Are not those circumstances within the memory-of all of us? The right hon. Gentleman has quoted from the Report of the Royal Commission the concrete case of an election turning on Tariff Reform. It is always dangerous to give concrete instances, because it immediately arouses prejudice; but take the concrete instance. Tariff Reform might be the question at issue before the country at the moment. Assuming that it is, and that there is no division of opinion between the Liberal voters and the Labour voters on a number of ultimate issues, they might both be equally in favour of Free Trade and opposed to Tariff Reform.


They might not.


Yes; but suppose they were. Take the not altogether improbable assumption that they were equally against it. In that constituency there are, say, 15,000 electors. The Tariff Reformer might get 6,000 votes, and the other two between them might get 9,000 votes, yet the one who gets the 6,000 votes, who, on a straight issue, would certainly be defeated, walks up the floor of the House, presents his writ to the Clerk, is sworn a Member, and votes in all our Debates.


The right hon. Gentleman is assuming, which is not the case, that every Liberal and Labour elector will vote in the same way on the question of Tariff Reform. I do not think they will. A man may vote for a Labour representative, because lie is a Labour representative, to the exclusion of all decisions between Tariff Reform and Free Trade. The assumption is that you are to cut out the Labour man because he has got the lowest number of votes, and go on to distribute the votes of the Labour man between the Free Trader and the Tariff Reformer without having the smallest idea of what his ideas on that subject are.


Precisely. The whole object of the alternative vote—that is its very purpose, and that is what it achieves —is that the individual elector is enabled to say when he expresses his first preference for a Labour man that he wishes a Labour man to be elected, and he votes (1) for him; and if this law is passed, suppose that the particular candidate whom he desires to be elected cannot be elected, suppose it is obvious on the first count that he is at the bottom of the poll and cannot be elected, then the question arises which of the other two candidates he would prefer to see elected. If he wishes a, Tariff Reformer elected he would vote (2) for the Tariff Reformer. If, on the other hand, he wished to see a Free Trader elected, he would vote (2) for the Free Trader, and his vote would be counted accordingly. What is there unreasonable or wrong in that? You say to him, Tell us what you wish, and if you cannot have that first desire, tell us what is your next wish, and it shall be acted upon. If, on the other hand, you do not wish either of the alternatives, if you regard them both with equal hatred and contempt, then, of course, you will not vote for either; and the matter remains as it is now, in that respect, that if you do have a wish, surely the State is entitled to elicit it and act upon it. That is the whole principle of the alternative vote. With the other principle, suppose his own candidate is defeated and he wishes to have someone else rather than the third; or suppose that the constituency as a whole desires a certain man not to be elected, nevertheless, though that is desired on the part of the 9,000, the candidates supported by the 6,000 is, in fact, under the existing system, elected, and comes to this House and votes on all questions. That is the essential vice of the present system, and, whatever minor difficulty may be pointed out, in any alternative plan, however ingenious mathematicians may wish in certain circumstances for mathematical accuracy, it is, unfortunately, one of the gross and patent abuses that attach to the system we now have. The right hon. Gentleman quoted the Royal Commission. They proceed upon that assumption. They begin by saying— It is remarkable that while a single-member constituency is very general in Europe, the relative majority method— —that is a system which provides that any person elected and who gets the majority relatively to any other candidate, and not the candidate who gets the absolute majority for the vote— the relative majority method is practically confined to English-speaking countries. All the great European States, and most of the smaller ones, have rejected it or abandoned it. They go on to say— The failure of the present system in this respect and the necessity of reforming it, were urged upon us strongly by representatives of party organisations on both sides. Later in the Report they say— We therefore think it incumbent upon us to examine carefully the defects of the system which are more likely to escape attention than its merits. That was a very wise and prudent course on the part of the Royal Commission. Then they conclude: We have set out these objections in full, if not at undue length, because it is desirable that no more shall be expected from the system than it is able to give. This is the essential conclusion, the unanimous conclusion of the Royal Commission representing all parties, several officials of the State, and gentlemen who have made the subject a life-long study.


It did not represent all parties.




Who is the Labour or the Irish member?


It was a comparatively small Commission.


Three Liberals, one Unionist, no Labour, no Irish; three officials, and a Dominion official.


Lord Richard Cavendish was a chairman of it, and the members Lord Lochee, the Secretary of State for India, Sir F. Hopwood, who is now a Member of the House of Lords, the Clerk of the House, Sir 2harles Eliot, who was a Colonial Governor, Professor W. Pember Reeves, now Director of the London School of Economics, and Mr. John W. Hills, Member for Durham, and who is a member of the party opposite. There was only one Liberal member of the House of Commons, and one Unionist member of the House of Commons.


There were three Liberals—the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for India, Lord Lochee, and Lord Richard Cavendish, who was at that time a member of the Liberal party.


I do not know that Lord Richard Cavendish could be regarded as a party man. All these gentlemen, whatever their political origin, whatever their political views, were unanimous on this one point, and after prolonged examination they came to the conclusion: We have set out the objections in full, if not at undue length, because it is desirable that no more shall be expected from the system than it is able to give; but when all clue weight has been given to them, the alternative vote remains the best method of removing the most serious defect that the single-member system can possess—the return of minority candidates—and accordingly we recommend its adoption in single-member constituencies. It is reported that in Australia, in a particular case, 65 per cent. of the electors, or two-thirds of the electors, appreciated the value of the opportunity given them, and did in fact make use of it: but, as experience stands, I do not think it right to say that the alternative vote stands on the same basis as the second ballot, which is practised on the Continent. The second ballot is a system under which you take a poll on one day, and then on a subsequent day, after a week's interval, you take a second election as between the two candidates who are at the head of the poll at the first election.


No, at the second election.


Systems vary. I do not know that my hon. and learned Friend's recollection is quite correct. In Germany, I think certainly, there is a second poll, and that those two who are at the head of the first poll are allowed to be nominated. A week's interval gives rise to all those intrigues and bargains to which the right hon. Gentleman has referred. It is because of these defects of the second ballot system that I myself and all those who in early days recommended it as a means of curing existing evils, have been converted in favour of the alternative vote as the right method, because it includes the whole process in a single day, and does not give any opportunity for bargaining. It would be quite impossible to make bargains of the character referred to at all, because no one knows the electoral strength of a particular person, in addition to which, you can deal in all those matters with the voter himself, and classes of voters, 2,000, 3,000, 4,000, or 5,000 men, and those men will not allow themselves to be moved like pawns on the chess-board by skilful electoral agents who manipulate votes on a large scale. These people have minds of their own. They know quite well to whom they wish to give preference, and it would need a great deal of persuasion before they would give preference to a candidate they did not approve, in order to carry out a political bargain arranged by various heads of parties. If there can be arrangements behind the backs of electors, surely it is the present system more than others that allows that. At present, if arrangements are made in respect of a contest, it is in the form of the two parties saying, "You contest this seat, and we will contest the other," or, "You abstain from contesting this seat, and we will abstain from contesting the other." These things are carried on behind the back of the electors, and there is no opportunity of checking it. Under the system of the alternative vote, it will be for the alternative voter himself to say what selection he desires to make. The House of Lords shut out this alternative vote in a very small House, some seventy Members being present when this Motion was taken. It was regarded purely as the consequence of proportional representation, and the argument was used that this system of alternative voting was proposed without any Schedule embodying the method of its operation. Several of their Lordships complained that they could not possibly accept a Bill of that character, which desired to establish a system of voting without particularising its working. When this Bill comes down to us again, we find in it, inserted by the other House, that the requirements of proportional representation shall he applied almost to all the constituencies of the country; but there is no Schedule, there are no rules, or indication at all, how that system of proportional representation is to operate. I think that mere fact disposes of the Lords' objection. Furthermore, let me say that the method of the alternative vote was defined by the Bill as it left this House, and a WHITE Paper embodying the detailed rules was laid on the Table of the House. The provision is as follows: The expression 'alternative vote' means a vote (a) capable of being given so as to indicate the voter's preference for the candidates in order: and (b) capable of being transferred to a subsequent choice in case no one candidate has a clear majority of the total number of votes counted at any count. If the House of Lords had thought it necessary to insert a Schedule, it was quite in their option to urge that such a proposal should be inserted by the Government themselves on the introduction of the Bill. Let me, lastly, reinforce and emphasise the view that has been put by several of my hon. Friends in the discussion this afternoon. We have to look forward after the War to the possibility of troublesome times. The Government of this country will be far from easy, and we may be exposed to severe tests. We are informed that at the next election there will be in some 300 or 400 constituencies three-cornered contests. The right hon. Gentleman says that this alternative vote will facilitate the multiplication of candidatures, but there is no probability, so far as we can see, that it is likely to disappear, and I am afraid it must be accepted as a fact. In these circumstances, the prospect before us—and can it be contemplated with an easy mind?— that there may be sitting here, after the next election, or after the next election but one, possibly 100, perhaps 200, members, who do not meet the desires of the majority of their constituencies, men who, if the constituents were asked to give a single "Yes" or "No" to the question, "Do you desire these men to represent you?" would vote "No" by a large majority; yet, under our existing system, you have these candidates returned, and you may have a House of Commons of that character in the times that are before us. I really do suggest to the right hon. Gentleman and to those who take a conservative view in our politics, and not the least to their Lordships themselves, that if we desire to have a stable Constitution, and if we desire to have the people with confidence in the Legislature that it elects, and which governs them, we must adopt some electoral system which will remove the inherent vice that attaches to our present methods, and which will secure that the majority of each electorate shall have a full opportunity of returning its representative.


The right hon. Gentleman referred to the fact that the importance of this question is due not alone to the form of government, but to the troublesome times ahead. What is disturbing me is whether the troublesome times are not here at this moment, if not very far ahead. I rise to put before the House some facts in connection with this matter. I think my society is the only society in existence at this moment that carries out the alternative vote, and I want to tell the House exactly what happens in actual practice. We have a fairly wide membership, covering England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. Prior to four years ago I have known fifteen candidates to be nominated for a seat on the executive committee. Those who received the highest votes were returned, and it was quite common to have an executive member who did not poll one-fifth of the votes cast in the particular constituency, which meant, of course, that in practice by no stretch of imagination could it be said that the man reflected the wish or will of the great bulk of the members. We then decided that, in order to get a more accurate return, a man must receive a majority of the votes cast. That had the curious result that in an election held in order to elect an organising secretary, six different ballots were necessary before we obtained one man with a majority of the votes cast. I put it to the House that both those systems were absolutely wrong. We decided on the alternative, or single transferable vote. At this moment there is an election taking place, and there are forty-seven candidates for the seat. The voters are working men, and I venture to say that 96 per cent. of the votes will have forty-five or forty-six preferences. In Scotland, at the last election, with thirty candidates, the overwhelming number of members gave twenty-eight preferences. It is very interesting to study the result of these votes, because a close examination shows that in 90 per cent. of the cases, the exception being a very popular man, the man who receives the first and second preferences is never the man ultimately elected. You may just as well know the facts. That is easily explained, because what happens is this: There may be one or two big branches in the group and the nominee of the big branch would receive sufficient first preferences to secure being at the top of the first preferences. But he might not be the choice of the smaller branches, who constitute the majority, and who, having voted for their first nominee concentrate on someone else for the second or third preference.

you may say that that does not prove the advantages of the system, but I submit it proves this: that it is the only system that enables you to have a man returned who can say: "I am the choice of the majority of the people in that constituency." It is the only system that enables the man to say: "The majority of the people recording their votes in the election recorded them in my favour," and, after all, that is the only test of confidence. That cannot be said of the present system, where you have three candidates, Liberal, Labour and Conservative, whoever is returned with a minority of votes is not in the representative position of the man returned, as I have indicated under the other system. There is the question of the counting of the votes. In our case we do not have expert scrutineers, or professional men who would be selected in this case. The working railwaymen themselves count the votes, and I am assured that, after one experience there is no difficulty whatever in recording and accurately returning the votes. On the other hand, I admit it is not a fair assumption that you are going to have forty-seven Parliamentary candidates for the one seat, and I should hope at least, that, in a case of that kind I would not be one of them. But I submit if in a representative society such as ours, you can get men and women to interest themselves in this system and to carefully think out first and second and third preferences, it does clearly give them an interest in the election, and it does enable the person returned to feel that he has got the confidence of the majority of the people. In spite of the fact that I have fairly and honestly told the House the disadvantages as well as the advantages, I do submit that we ought not to regard the question from the standpoint of party, because, I do not care who smiles at it, I take the serious view that the interest of the State is more important than the interest of a party, and in the problems that are ahead of us the interests of the State will be of far more importance to consider. Therefore, what we ought to aim at is to ensure that the majority will of the people shall be reflected in the representation in this House. I believe that that can only he done by the alternative vote. It could, I admit, be done by the second ballot, but, as has already been explained, that would necessitate further elections and all manner of wire pulling. On the balance, I hope that we will reject the recommendation of the other House and give an opportunity for the alternative vote to be put into effect. Whilst I hope you will not get as many candidates as I do in my own society, I am quite satisfied if you get the same result it will be to the advantage of this House.


The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Mr. Chamberlain), in speaking of the Report of the Royal Commission, said that it was defective because it had no Irish opinion expressed upon it. I am not sure that he was quite serious in that. At any rate that observation gives me some justification for now rising to express an Irish view on this question. As between the right hon. Gentleman and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Cleveland (Mr. H. Samuel) I rather sympathise with the view of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham as to the value of the Report of the Royal Commission on this question. This question is primarily a political question, and on political questions every man must make up his own mind, and the opinion of a Royal Commission is not in the least calculated to help any individual as to how he will vote on political questions. The value, I take it, of a Royal Commission is that it makes inquiries and finds out what is done in other places like France or America, and compares that with the law in England, and in that way it may or may not throw some light on the question, because it is quite conceivable that what is good in America or France may not be good in this country. Ultimately this no doubt is a political question, and I fear that utimately the people will vote on it on purely political grounds.

6.0 P.M.

I rise to support the Amendment for the rejection of the Lords Amendment. I do not do so for the reasons given by the hon. Member for Derby (Mr. Thomas). I think his speech was, if anything, a speech rather against the alternative system, because he began by admitting that in the case of the Labour executives the man who gets the first preference is never the man finally elected. I think, therefore, the analogy he gave is not a sound one. I am in favour of the alternative vote, because I consider a Parliamentary election wholly different from an election such as that described by the hon. Member for Derby. An election of a great trade union is a personal question, but I venture to say that a Parliamentary election is not a personal election. We are told that there are three parties, but I say that for the primary purpose of a Parliamentary election there never can be any but two parties —namely, the "Ins" and the "Outs." When a constituency votes at an election, and all the world looks on, the interest is not whether Mr. A. or Mr. B. or Mr. C. is going to be returned; in this country the essence of every election is that you vote for or against the Government of the day, and for the purpose of every Parliamentary election there are no more three parties in that sense than there can be three Lobbies in this House. Take the series of elections when the Home Rule question was before the country. At a great many of those elections there were three candidates. No one can doubt that on the, main question on which the constituency voted the candidate who got in did not represent the opinion of the electorate. The electors wanted to vote for the "Ins," but the man who was sent into the House came in to vote for the "Outs." If it were a mere question of electing individuals, such as the election of secretary to a great trade union, what you would want would not be the alternative vote, but proportional representation; but in the class of Parliamentary elections which take place in this country, which has a traditional party system with a Government and Opposition—I do not care how you call the Government, be it Liberal, Unionist, Conservative, or anything you like—the great issue which is before every constituency when a poll is taken is, Are you going to vote for the Government of the day or are you going to vote against it? Nobody can pretend that a three-cornered contest conducted in the lines as it is at present conducted gives the real opinion of the constituency for what I say is the main purpose of the election, namely, to select a supporter of the Government or an opponent.

Arguments have been addressed to the House which might be of value in Australia, America, or other places, but they have no value in this country, for the reason I have given, that the primary question at every election is, Are you for the Government or are you against the Government? On that great issue, which is the primary issue in all Parliamentary elections, the present method of election undoubtedly leads to a result which the constituency does not contemplate. That class of argument assumes that this House is primarily a legislative assembly. It is nothing of the kind. This House is the Executive Government of the country, and that is its primary function. As the Executive Government of the country it exercises power through the Cabinet, but for all reasons when an elector in this country is voting he is not voting primarily for A., B., or C., but he is voting for or against the Government of the day. Everybody knows that in a whole series of elections which have taken place in this country during the past dozen years, the result of the elections under the present system has misrepresented the views of the majority of the electors. The right hon. Member for West Birmingham said that the alternative vote might lead to corrupt bargains. I wonder if he heard the concluding passage of the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs last night? That right hon. Gentleman defended the necessity for pro- portional representation on the ground that the existing system led to these very corrupt bargains, or led, at any rate, to the temptation to them, which the right hon. Gentleman fears. We accordingly have the strange picture of the right hon. Member for West Birmingham opposing this proposal because it leads to corrupt. bargains, whereas we had the right hon. Gentleman the Foreign Secretary saying that it was the existing system which led to corrupt bargains, and which required some reform because it had that vice in it.

Whatever may have been the case in the past, it appears to me that in the future there is a most vital necessity for the passing of some reform of this kind. The next Parliament to be elected will be the first Parliament in which every member will have a strong pecuniary interest in getting elected. Hitherto members have been elected to this House unpaid. At the next Parliamentary election every candidate will be trying to draw from the lucky bag a large pecuniary prize. In addition to that, this Bill for the first time facilitates the multiplication of candidates by the payment of election expenses, and in other ways this Bill contains almost an invitation to multiply candidates, and to put an end to the state of things that existed in the past, when most elections were conducted on the basis that there were only to be two candidates. I think we must inevitably look forward to a state of things in which, instead of an election being limited to two candidates, a multiplicity of candidates will come before the electors, with the inevitable result that the candidate at the head of the poll in the first instance will be a candidate who has not the support of the majority of the electors. I confess I am surprised that a very large number of Members should look forward to a state of things, which is quite inevitable unless some reform of this kind is passed, under which there will be a large number of Members in this House who cannot claim to speak for the majority of the constituents. It is quite inevitable that that will happen unless some device of this kind is adopted.

We considered at the Speaker's Conference long and anxiously what method could best solve this difficulty. We discussed the second ballot, and it was unanimously rejected. No one wants the second ballot in this country, and the arguments of the right hon. Member for West Birmingham were largely arguments against the second ballot, which nobody has proposed. But I am amazed that anybody should contemplate the new electoral state of things which will arise when this Bill passes into law, and ask that no steps should he taken to mitigate, or put an end to, this possibility of elections being determined so as to send a minority representative into the House. It is unfortunate that this matter should be a party question—I suppose it is a party question. I am not so sure that a decision one way or the other will necessarily be against one or other party, but it is unfortunate that both sides of the House apparently should consider that there is some party advantage for one or other in this transaction. I think that has deceived the House into shutting their eyes to everything but the party aspect of the matter. I think that, apart from the party aspect, there is a more serious electoral difficulty to be solved, and I know of no good way of solving it except by the alternative vote, and, accordingly, I shall give my vote for it.


I rise mainly for the purpose of suggesting that the House might now come to a decision on this question, which has been considered fully, and, if I may say so, most ably debated. Having said that, it would not be right for me to trouble the House with any arguments at all upon the merits of the question, because my views are already known to the House. I, therefore, only make two observations directed to other points. In the first place, with regard to the course to be taken in this Division, I would only say this: this question of the alternative vote was one of the very few questions which did not receive the unanimous decision of the Conference. The Conference decided it only by a majority, and we have been told—although, of course, I myself know nothing of it—that in the Division on this question the parties were divided one from another. If that be so, I think it is the only point in that remarkable Conference in which the Division went upon party lines. I think it is a matter on which we have to congratulate ourselves, that this is the only instance in which that can be said. That being so, I am quite sure that, whatever Members may have expected at one time, no one now will complain that the Government have treated this as an open question, and have not felt bound either to put on the Government Whips or as a Government to express any opinion upon it. Therefore, we leave this matter to the free consideration of the House, and we claim the same freedom for ourselves.

I have only one other observation to make. As the House knows, I am myself opposed to the alternative vote for reasons that have been already stated to-day and on former occasions, and, that being so, the House will quite naturally receive with a certain amount of caution the views which. I express, although I hold them most sincerely, as to the effect of this. question upon the position of the Bill. I have to say very little, but I think I ant bound to say this, that I shall feel regret if we have another cause of difference with another place, which will, of course, put further obstacles in the way of the speedy conclusion of the deliberations on this Bill.—I am riot going to indulge in prophecy, or to speculate as to what course may be taken in another place, but I am entitled, I think—indeed, I am bound—to-say that a difference on this question will make difficulties for those in charge of the Bill, and I sincerely hope that such difficulties may be avoided. In my capacity as Minister in Charge I certainly hope that we, in this instance, at all events, shall agree with, the other House. [HON MEMBERS "No!"] Hon. Members can take that as the opinion of one who is, in this matter, in agreement with the other House. That. being so, I will only add that I propose to vote against the Motion which is now before the House, and to express my personal hope that it will not be carried.


I can assure my fellow Members that I will not stand many minutes between them and the Division upon this important question. I desire, in a very few words. to associate myself with the Motion to disagree with the Lords Amendment to the Bill. Not only do I want to associate myself, but I also want to associate the Labour Members with this Motion for disagreement. In the course of the proceedings yesterday one of the members of our party very emphatically disputed my right to speak on behalf of the party in the manner in which I did. I have no intention of dealing with all the points at issue raised between us. I believe I would be entirely out of order H I did so. I only, with your permission. Mr. Speaker, desire to deal with that part dealing with my right to speak on behalf of the party. My hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mr. Snowden) stated that while I might speak on behalf of those associated with me on these benches I was not speaking for the great Labour movement outside this House. I want emphatically to deny that statement. I desire to give my reasons for denying it. When the Conference over which you, Mr Speaker, presided with so much ability had finished its labours the Labour forces of this country were called together to consider the Conference recommendations. All parts of the labour movement of this country were represented at that meeting. After a very full discussion—the Conference dealing with no other question except the recommendations of your Conference—decided to accept all the recommendations that had been made by the Conference. That Labour Conference was not unanimous to begin with regarding the acceptance of the recommendations of the Conference There were parties present who wanted to go much further and to claim much more.

A section of the Conference, among whom was my hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn, took up the position that if we pushed this matter too far there was a danger of losing the Bill. On his advice, amongst that of others, the Conference, notwithstanding that we had some parties there who wished to carry our ideas much further than your Conference recommendations provided, agreed to accept the Conference recommendations—as I have

already pointed out, amongst others, on the recommendation of my hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn. If he wants to compare what happened at Nottingham with the deliberations of that great Conference, met specially to consider this question, and to say that amongst many other questions, at the fag-end of a very busy three days' Conference, we passed, without due consideration being given to the sweeping nature of the Lords Amendment to this Bill, the general principle of proportional representation—if he compares the value of that Conference with the one to which I have drawn the attention of the House—then I make him a present of the value of that comparison. If I were in order in going on to deal with the issues raised between my hon. Friend and myself—[HON. MEMBERS: "No, no!"]—I do not want to do so — [HON. MEMBERS: "Divide!"]—I think I could prove that his reasoning on the main points put to me last night were quite as fallacious as his statement on the point that I have raised now. I do not intend to do so. The future may provide me with that opportunity. If so, I will not fail to avail myself of it. I simply want, in conclusion, to associate myself and my party with the Motion to disagree with the Lords Amendment on the alternative vote.

Question put, "That this House doth disagree with the Lords in the said Amendment."

The House divided: Ayes, 178; Noes. 170.

Division No. 151.] AYES. [6.25 p.m.
Adamson, William Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth) Henderson, John M. (Aberdeen, W.)
Adkins, Sir W. Ryland D. Davies, David (Montgomery) Henry, Sir Charles
Agnew, Sir George William Davies, Timothy (Lincs., Louth) Hewart, Rt. Hon. Sir Gordon
Ainsworth, Sir John Stirling Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.) Hinds, John
Alden, Percy Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles E. H.
Allen, Arthur A. (Dumbartonshire) Dickinson, Rt. Hon. Sir W. H. Holmes, Daniel Turner
Allen. Rt. Hon. Charles P. (Stroud) Dougherty, Rt. Hon. Sir J. B. Holt, Richard Durning
Anderson, W. C. Duncan, Sir J. Hastings (Yorks, Otley) Hope, John Deans (Haddington)
Armitage, Robert Elverston, Sir Harold Howard, Hon. Geoffrey
Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry Falconer, James Hudson, Walter
Baker, Joseph Allen (Finsbury, E.) Galbraith, Samuel Hughes, Spencer Leigh
Balfour, Sir Robert (Lanark) Gilbert, J. D. Illingworth, Rt. Hon. Albert H.
Baring, Sir Godfrey (Barnstaple) Glanville, Harold James Jacobsen, Thomas Owen
Barnes, Rt. Hon. George N. Goddard, Rt. Hon. Sir Daniel Ford John, Edward Thomas
Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick Burghs) Greenwood, Sir G. G. (Peterborough) Jones, Sir Edgar R. (Merthyr Tydvil)
Beauchamp, Sir Edward Greenwood, Sir Hamar (Sunderland) Jones. J. Towyn (Carmarthen, East)
Bethell, Sir John Henry Greig, Colonel J. W. Jones, Rt. Hon. Lief (Notts, Rushcliffe)
Blake, Sir Francis Douglas Griffith, Rt. Hon. Sir Ellis J. Jones, William S. Glyn- (Stepney)
Bliss, Joseph Guiland, Rt. Hon. John William Kellaway, Frederick George
Boland, John Plus Harcourt, Robert V. (Montrose) Kenyon, Barnet
Brace, Rt. Hon. William Harmsworth, R. L. (Caithness-shire) King, Joseph
Brunner, John F. L. Harris, Percy A. (Leicester, S.) Lamb, Sir Ernest Henry
Burns, Rt. Hon. John Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, West) Lambert, Rt. Hon. G. (Devon,S.Molton)
Buxton, Noel Haslam, Lewis Lambert, Richard (Wilts. Cricklade)
Carr-Gomm, H. W. Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, West)
Chancellor, Henry George Hayward, Evan Layland-Barratt, Sir F.
Cochrane, Cecil Algernon Healy, Maurice (Cork) Levy, Sir Maurice
Collins. Godfrey P. (Greenock) Helme, Sir Norval Watson Lewis, Rt. Hon. John Herbert
Collins. Sir W. (Derby) Hemmerde, Edward George Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas
Cornwall, Sir Edwin A Henderson, Rt Hon. Arthur (Durham) M'Callum, Sir John M.
Macdonald, Rt. Hon. J. M. (Falk,B'ghs) Pratt, J. W. Taylor, John W. (Durham)
Macdonald, J. Ramsay (Leicester) Price, C. E. (Edingburgh, Central) Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)
McGhee, Richard Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.) Tennant, Rt. Hon. Harold John
McKenna, Rt. Hon. Reginald Pringle, William M. R. Thomas, Sir A. G. (Monmouth, S.)
M'Laren, Hon. H. D. (Leics.) Raffan, Peter Wilson Thomas, Rt. lion. J. Henry (Derby)
Maclean, Rt. Hon. Sir Donald Rea, Walter Russell (Scarborough) Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)
McMicking, Major Gilbert Rees, G. C. (Carnarvonshire, Arfon) Thorne, William (West Ham)
MacVeagh, Jeremiah Rendall, Athelstan Toulmin, Sir George
Madan, Sir John Henry Richardson, Arthur (Rotherham) Trevelyan, Charles Philips
Mallalieu, Frederick William Richardson, Thomas (WHITEhaven) Walters, Sir John Tudor
Manfield, Harry Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs) Wardle, George J.
Marks, Sir George Croydon Robertson, Rt. Hon. J. M. (Tyneside) Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)
Mason, David M. (Coventry) Robinson, Sidney Watson, John B. (Stockton)
Millar, James Duncan Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke) Watt, Henry A.
Molteno, Percy Alport Rowlands, James WHITE, J. Dundas (Glasgow, Tradeston)
Mond, Rt. Hon. Sir Alfred Rowntree, Arnold WHITEhouse, John Howard
Morgan, George Hay Runciman, Sir Walter (Hartlepool) Whittaker, Rt. Hon. Sir Themes P.
Morison, Hector (Hackney, S.) Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland) Wiles, Rt. Hon, Thomas
Morison, Thomas B. (Inverness) Scanlan, Thomas Williams, Aneurin (Durham, N.W.)
Morrell, Philip Scott, A. MacCallum (Glas., Bridgeton) Williams, John (Glamorgan)
Morton, Sir Alpheus Cleophas Seely, Lt.-Col. Sir C. H. (Mansfield) Williamson, Sir Archibald
Munro, Rt. Hon. Robert Shaw, Hon. A. Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. W. (Worcs., N.)
Norman, Rt. Hon. Major Sir H. Shortt, Edward Wilson, W, T. (Westhoughton)
Nuttall, Harry Smallwood, Edward Winfrey, Sir Richard
Outhwaite, R. L. Smith, Albert (Lancs., Clitheroe) Wood, Rt. Hon. T. McKinnon (Glasgow)
Palmer, Godfrey Mark Smith, Sir Swire (Keighley, Yorks) Yeo, Sir Alfred William
Parker, James (Halifax) Soames, Arthur Wellesley Yoxall, Sir James Henry
Parrott, Sir James Edward Spicer, Rt. Hon. Sir Albert
Partington, Hon. Oswald Strauss, Edward A. (Southwark, West) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Mr.
Pearson, Hon. Weetman H. M. Sutton, John E. A. F. WHITE and Mr. Bowerman.
Peel, Major Hon. G. (Spalding)
Agg-Gardner, Sir James Tynte Fell, Sir Arthur Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)
Anstrutber-Gray, Lt.-Col. William Fisher, Rt. Hon. W. Hayes (Fulham) Loyd, Archie Kirkman
Archer-Shee, Lieut.-Col. Martin Fitzroy, Hon. Edward A. MacCaw, William J. MacGeagh
Astor, Hon. Waldorf Fletcher, John Samuel Mackinder, Halford J.
Baird, John Lawrence Forster, Rt. Hon. Henry William Macleod, John Macintosh
Baldwin, Stanley Foster, Philip Staveley Macmaster, Donald
Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City, Land.) Gibbs, Col. George Abraham Magnus, Sir Philip
Barlow, Sir Montague (Salford, South) Goldman, Charles Sydney Malcolm, Ian
Barnston, Major Harry Goulding, Sir Edward Alfred Marriott, J. A. R.
Bathurst, Col. Hon. A. B. (Glouc., E.) Grant, James Augustus Mason, James F. (Windsor)
Beckett, Hon. Gervase Greene, Walter Raymond Meux, Adml. Hon. Sir Hedworth
Benn, Arthur Shirley (Plymouth) Gretton, Col. John Mitchell-Thomson, W.
Bonn, Com. Ian Hamilton Guinness, Hon. Rupert (Essex, S.E.) Mount, William Arthur
Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish- Haddock, George Bahr Neville, Reginald J. N.
Bigland, Alfred Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight) Newman, Major John R. P.
Bird, Alfred Hall, Lt.-Col. Sir Fred (Dulwich) Nicholson, William G. (Petersfield)
Blair, Reginald Hambro, Angus Valdemar Nield, Sir Herbert
Boles, Lieut.-Col. Dennis Fortescue Hamersley, Lt.-Col. Alfred St. George O'Neill, Capt. Hon. H. (Antrim, Mid)
Boscawen, Sir Arthur S. T. Griffith- Hamilton, C. G. C. (Ches., Altrincham) Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.
Bowden, Major G. R. Harland Hamilton, Rt. Hon. Lord C. J. (Kens.,S.) Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William
Boyle, William (Norfolk, Mid.) Hanson, Charles Augustin Parker, Rt. Hon. Sir G. (Gravesend)
Boyton, Sir James Hardy, Rt. Hon. Laurence Pennefather, De Fonblanque
Brassey, H. Leonard Campbell Harmood-Banner, Sir J. S. Pato, Basll Edward
Bridgeman, William Clive Harris, Rt. Hon. F. L. (Worcester, E.) Philipps, Sir Owen (Chester)
Brookes, Warwick Hermon-Hodge, Sir R. T. Pollock, Sir Ernest Murray
Broughton, Urban Hanlon Hewins, William Albert Samuel Pretyman, Rt. Hon. Ernest George
Bull, Sir William James Hickman, Brig.-Gen. Thomas E.. Prothero, Rt. Hon. Rowland Edmund
Burdett-Coutts, William Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy Pryce-Jones, Col. E.
Butcher, John George Hope, Harry (Bute) Quilter, Major Sir Cuthbert
Carew, C. R. S. Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield) Rees, Sir J. D. (Nottingham, E.)
Cater, John Hope, Lieut.-Col.J. A. (Midlothian) Rothschild, Major Lionel de
Cautley, Henry Strother Houston, Robert Paterson Royds, Major Edmund
Cave, Rt. Hon. Sir George Hume-Williams, William Ellis Rutherford, Col. Sir J. (Lancs., Darwen)
Cecil, Rt. Hon. Evelyn (Aston Manor) Hunt, Major Rowland Rutherford, Sir W. (L'pool, W. Derby)
Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord Robt. (Herts, Hitchin) Hunter, Major Sir Charles Rodk. Samuels, Arthur W. (Dublin U.)
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. Jackson, Lieut.-Col. Hon. F. S. (York) Samuel, Samuel (Wandsworth)
Cheyne, Sir W. W. Jardine, Ernest (Somerset, East) Sanders, Col. Robert Arthur
Coates, Major Sir Edward Feetham Jessel, Col. Sir Herbert M. Scott, Leslie (Liverpool, Exchange)
Coats, Sir Stuart A. (Wimbledon) Jones, W. Kennedy (Hornsey) Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)
Colvin, Col. Richard Beale Joynson-Hicks, William Starkey, John Ralph
Cory, James H. (Cardiff) Kerr-Smiley, Major Peter Kerr Staveley-Hill, Lieut.-Col. Henry
Craig, Norman (Kent, Thanet) Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement Stirling, Lieut.-Col. Archibald
Craik, Rt. Hon. Sir Henry Knight, Capt. Eric Ayshford Strauss, Arthur (Paddington, North)
Dalrymple, Hon. H. H. Lane-Fox, Major G. R. Swift, Rigby
Denison-Pender, Capt. J. C. Larmor, Sir J. Sykes, Col. Sir A. J. (Ches., Knutsford)
Dixon, Charles Harvey Law, Rt. Hon. A. Bonar (Bootle) Talbot, Rt. Hon. Lord Edmund
Duke, Rt. Hon. Henry Edward Lloyd, George Butler (Shrewsbury) Terrell, George (Wilts, N.W.)
Du Pro, Major W. Baring Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury) Thomas-Stanford, Charles
Faber, George Denison (Clapham) Lonsdale, James R. Tryon. Capt. George Clement
Falle, Sir Bertram Godfray Long, Rt. Hon. Walter Walker, Colonel William Hall
Ward, A. S. (Herts, Watford) Willoughby, Liealt..Col. Hon. Claud Wood, Sir John (Stalybridge)
Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mld.) Wills, Major Sir Gilbert Worthington Evans, Major Sir L.
Warner, Sir Thomas Courtenay T. Wilson, Capt. A. Stanley (Yorks, E.R.) Wright, Henry Fitzherbert
Watson, Hon. W. (Lanark, S.) Wilson, Col. Leslie C. (Reading) Yate, Col. Charles Edward
Weston, Colonel J. W. Wilson-Fox, Henry (Tamworth)
Wheler, Major Granville C. H. Wolmer, Viscount TELLERS FOR THE NOES—Sir G.
WHITEley, Sir H.J. Wood, Hon. E. F. L. (Yorks, Ripon) Younger and Capt. Barnett
Williams, Col. Sir Robert (Dorset, W.)

Lords Amendment, as amended, agreed to.


May I call attention to the fact that the door was never locked at all during the Division.


I will make inquiries about that.