§ 50. Commander BELLAIRS
asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he is aware of the former practice by which Members were paid by their constituencies, until the beginning of the seventeenth century, when the desire of the constituencies to pay their representatives vanished altogether; and whether he will consider this precedent with a view to substituting for State payments to hon. Members a local option to enable each constituency to decide for itself whether it will make such payments from its own resources?
Service in Parliament is essentially a national service, and if any payment is to be made, whether as a salary or as an allowance for expenses, it would seem to be properly chargeable to national, and not to local funds.
§ Mr. PENNEFATHER
(by Private Notice) asked the Lord Privy Seal if his attention has been drawn to a letter published to-day over the signature of Mr. J. G. Swift MacNeil, and will he state whether the Law Officers of the Crown have been consulted as to the position of Members voting money for their own benefit; and, if so, what their opinion is?
Yes, Sir. I have seen Mr. Swift MacNeil's letter, but I have not thought it necessary to consult the Law Officers on the subject. The same question was raised on the 14th August, 1911, by the present Lord Cave, then a Member of this House; and elicited a considered ruling from the Chairman of Committees, who, founding himself upon rulings of Mr. Speaker Gully, Mr. Speaker Lowther, and on the opinion of Lord Peel, a former Speaker, definitely decided that he could not allow the vote of any Member to be challenged on the ground that he had a direct pecuniary and personal interest in it. I would refer my hon. Friend to the considered decision of the Chairman on that occasion, as reported in the OFFICIAL REPORT, 14th August, 1911, columns 1680–82, Volume 29, which makes the position perfectly clear.