HC Deb 20 May 1931 vol 252 cc1997-2108

The following shall be substituted for Sub-section (1) of Section eight of the principal Act as amended by Section four of the Representation of the People (Equal Franchise) Act, 1928: (1) Every person registered as a Parliamentary elector for any constituency shall, while so registered (and, in the case of a woman, notwithstanding sex or marriage), be entitled to vote at an election of a member to serve in Parliament for that constituency, but a person, shall not vote at a General Election for more than one constituency."—[The Solicitor-General.]

Brought up, and read the First time.

The SOLICITOR - GENERAL (Sir Stafford Cripps)

I beg to move, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

The object of moving this proposed new Clause is really a drafting one. It makes it quite clear that there shall not be any plural voting in any subsequent elections. That was already contained in the last two lines of Clause 3 of the Bill in the words: after the passing of this Act no person shall vote at a General Election for more than one constituency. It was thought, however, that it would be better in incorporate that in a separate Clause instead of by reference to the prior enactments of 1918 and 1928, and to set out the exact Clause as it would read as amended in order to make it quite clear.


The hon. and learned Gentleman has made perfectly clear the object of this proposed New Clause. It seeks to abolish the last vestiges of plural voting. Those vestiges remain in the university vote and the business vote, and I desire to offer a few observations on these matters. As regards the university vote, although I possess one, I have not one-hundredth part of the qualification to speak on the matter as is possessed by hon. Friends who represent universities. As regards the business vote, although only eking out a humble living in business, I pro pose to offer a few observations on that matter. The principles are precisely the same. What applies to the abolition of the business vote applies equally to the university vote; the Minister of Health said on the Second Beading that if they opposed the university vote they must, on the same principle, oppose the business franchise, and I suppose the converse would hold good.

I notice that during the Debate on this matter the university vote secured a great many defenders on this side of the House and on the other side, but that not so much zeal and fervour were shown in favour of the business votes. I am rather at a loss to know why there should be this distinction. Is it that there is anything ignoble or sordid about business occupations? We are faced with this curious position, that whereas there appears to be a good case for giving a special representation to, say, a lecturer in the University of Oxford on the gold standard and the incidence of tariffs, yet the business man who is seeking to put into practice the lessons he has learned from the lecturer is to be denied the special representation which many Members would like to give him. The laboratory experiment is to be encouraged; its commercial realisation is to be deprecated.

As to the favoured position of the City of London, I fail to see any reason in logic why Manchester, Sheffield or any other of our great provincial cities should be treated differently. It is said there is a sentiment and a glamour about the City of London. Is there no glamour about the City of Glasgow? Has sentiment deserted Sheffield? There is no distinction in logic between the position of those cities. It was urged that we must preserve the present situation in the City of London lest we should give over its representation to charwomen and caretakers. If so, why is it fair to give the representation of the Exchange Division of Manchester over to charwomen and caretakers? The same consideration would apply in other big towns. Similarly, why should the caretakers of London be denied the opportunity of electing a representative such as is to be given to the caretakers of Manchester? The whole situation is riddled with illogicality and should not be allowed to stand.

When I said there were few defenders of the business vote in the Debate to which I have referred I would like to exempt the gallant defence made by the right hon. Member for Sparkbrook (Mr. Amery), but I could not help noticing the denunciations which fell upon him. He was called "reactionary," and "antiquated," it was said his speech was 100 years old. The right hon. Gentleman and myself both graduated at the same University, the home of lost causes. It may well be that under this Government the cause of the business man is a lost cause, but the time may come when we may yet reach the same privileged position already reached by members of trade unions and miners leaders. The right hon. Gentleman was taken to task by Members of the Opposition because he criticised the counting of noses as not being the most suitable process in a modern democracy. The Home Secretary said that it was better to count noses than to break them, and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) severely took my right hon. Friend to task and alleged, with some truth, that there was a brain behind each nose. My right hon. Friend can stand those denunciations better than I can. The slings and arrows will bounce off his mail jacket more readily than from mine, and so, in adopting the same line of argument, I have thought it well to fortify myself with some authority behind which I can shelter. The particular authority I have selected is the Prime Minister, who in the Debate on the principal Act in 1917, said: Democracy does not consist of counting noses; it consists of intelligence, activity and enthusiasm, and upon the counting of that political vitality upon which progress depends quite as much as upon the mere dull and dead mechanical majority as opposed to the equally dull and dead mechanical minority. When it comes to putting these complicated problems into terse concise English, no one can do it like the Prime Minister. He goes on to say: As a matter of fact, the national representation of this House is just as good as representation can be, unless you file off all the Gothic roughness and peculiarities of representation and make it a mere mechanical representation of the relationship between party and party, which means absolute deadlock all the time."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 22nd May, 1917; cols. 2227–30, Vol. 93.] Why should the Gothic roughness of the Members of the City of London be left unfiled? Why should it be removed from the admirable representatives of the City of Birmingham? There, again, there is no logicality in any of these proposals. If I might very humbly put my own definition of what is desirable in the interests of democracy and of the electoral system in place of the Prime Minister's, I should say that it ought to be as fair as humanly possible and a mirror of the nation we represent. We in this House-are a nation in little, a nation of 615 people representing in all its variety and intricacies the great nation of 45,000,000 who sent us here. Hon Members will recollect the well-known lines in which the poet says: Life, like a dome of many coloured glass, Stains the white radiance of eternity. If the white radiance of our representative system is not to be stained by the lives of those we represent it can remain nothing but a monotonous and blinding glare.

4.0 p.m.

Reference was made in the last Debate to the value of sectional and functional representation. I think there is a good deal to be said for it. We have it in embryo now in the representation of the trade union leaders and miners' representatives, in some degree in the representation of the Civil Service and the co-operators. It may be that that system will be extended. The retention of the business vote is admittedly a form of sectional and functional representation. There is no time for me to develop that point, but I think there is a good case to be made out for extending that representation. The Home Secretary gave certain reasons for abolishing the plural vote. He said those votes were the symbol of wealth, good fortune, position and vested interest. Is not that really a little bit of rhetoric, and slightly inaccurate? If he were to go into the business quarters I know what he would find. He would find positions of great anxiety and risk, not so much positions of good fortune and vested interests. He supports this Measure because it removes the last vestiges of inequality. Is that necessarily good for the nation? We are not all equal. Under any Government it would be difficult for us all to be equal. If a man is more intelligent than others then, other things being equal, his opinion is more worth having than that of the man who is less intelligent, and no law and no institution, however much it may say his opinion is of equal value, can make it so. I do not suggest that a business man is necessarily a man of more intelligence than, say, a man who sweeps the streets. In the absence of any educational test of the relative value of those two gentlemen, I would refer the Home Secretary to a writer whose works he must know very well, that is, John Stuart Mill, and I have no doubt that, in preparing himself for this Bill, the right hon. Gentleman has read him most carefully. This is what was said by Mill, a man whose opinions still have great weight: Through the exceptional privilege of two votes belongs rather to superiority of means than of intelligence, I would not abolish it where it exists since until a truer test of education is adopted, it would be unwise to dispense with an imperfect one. I venture to say that, with certain corrections, that is not an unwise statement, and it might well be that had that principle been acted upon in our gradual development, the decisions arrived at might have been wiser. The Home Secretary went on to say: The law now assumes the right of every adult person to have a voice in the election of a Member of Parliament, and it is an inevitable corollary that, while everyone should be entitled to a voice, no one should be entitled to more than one voice."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd February, 1931; col. 1476, Vol. 247.] Why is that inevitable? Why is it a corollary? In an ideal State, where intelligence could be measured, undoubtedly we should endeavour to apportion voting power in some degree commensurate to the deservedness, or the intelligence or moral worth of the voters, and there is no reason whatever to suppose, because the law assumes one man one vote, any inevitable corollary follows from it, and that at some subsequent stages we should not modify that, and give votes according to the deserts of those who are to have them. The time might come when it might be desirable to confer the privilege of more than one vote in order to stimulate the recipients to further interest in public welfare. There are today many people who are stimulated to activity at the prospect of putting after their name the initials "J.P.," and I see no reason why, in due course, people should not be enabled to put after their names the initials "P.V."

The Home Secretary went on to say that a person had a right to the vote, but, as has been pointed out, in language immeasurably superior to mine, by the Noble Lord the Senior Member for Oxford University (Lord H. Cecil), it is not a right, but a duty, a function. It is truer to say that the law imposes a duty or function upon the elector, than that it confers a right upon him. I rather think that the Home Secretary has been misled by his misreading of the political philosophers of the 18th century, such as Hobbes—I do not mean the cricketer—Locke, Rousseau and other philosophers of that time, who had great influence upon their age, but whose theories are completely exploded to-day, and if the Home Secretary still cherishes his opinion about natural rights, there are many more modern works he can read to undeceive himself. His real reason is that this business vote is opposed to him own party. I gather that there are not more than 500,000 out of 25,000,000 electors, and they are spread over a large number of towns. It is assumed that they do not vote Socialist, and therefore they have got to go. I cannot help thinking that there is a certain amount of—he will forgive me for saying—meanness in this decision. The House remembers the old principle of "No taxation without representation." There is precious little effective representation nowadays for the taxpayer, and this is sweeping away one of the few vestiges left. Again, I would remind the right hon. Gentleman of his old friend John Stuart Mill, who said: It is important that the Assembly which votes the taxes, either general or local, should be elected exclusively by those who pay something towards the taxes imposed. Those who pay no taxes, disposing by their votes of other people's money, have every motive to be lavish, and none to economise. That may not be literally true to-day, but it contains the germ of truth, and the germ of protection remains to the taxpayer in the business vote.

In conclusion, is this proposal really in the best interests of democracy? That is, after all, the only true canon by which this should foe judged. Party considerations should have no influence whatever upon it, however valuable as by-products. And if we get under a constitution a situation by which an extremely numerous section can reduce to political impotence some other section of the population, then we get a state of affairs which must inevitably make that democracy unstable, and antagonise a section of citizens, perhaps not numerous, but in an industrial country very important, and I venture to say that injustice, even under the name of democracy, remains injustice.


My hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General has given us a very few words of his wisdom on this matter of plural voting. I must, in seeking for a defence of the Clause, resort to the more copious supply of the Home Secretary in a speech he made on the Second Heading of this Measure. The Home Secretary, as far as I remember, defended the abolition of the plural vote on the broad grounds of the fundamentals of democracy. His argument was that in a democracy all citizens are equal; therefore, no one should have more than one vote. I am inclined to question the premise. No doubt all citizens must foe equal in the sight of the law, and we are told by theology that all are equal in the sight of their Maker, but I should have thought that in most others matters they were grossly unequal, especially in their capacity for citizenship.

But let us take the dictum as it stands: In a democracy all citizens are equal, and, therefore, every man and women should have one vote, and no more. That is a very simple and intelligible proposition, and it makes an excellent popular slogan "One man, one vote" or, as I used to remember it in a more popular form, "One adjectival man, one adjectival vote." It is simple to remember and easy to understand. But it is never quite safe to try to put the principles of a big thing like democracy into that kind of pocket formula. The merit of democracy is that it is extraordinarily elastic and able to adapt itself to new conditions. I can imagine a state of society where the Home Secretary's slogan would be entirely justifiable, a simple, primitive society where all the citizens were farmers, and the same kind of farmers. But we are not legislating for the times of Abraham and the patriarchs, and it seems to me that this simple arithmetical idea of representation has no meaning in Britain to-day. It is really a bequest of the old-fashioned Victorian Radicalism, and one of the main defects of that creed was that it always tried to make political problems more simple than they were, and that it had a little dapper answer for every question on heaven and earth.

What kind of society is it in which we live? We are all agreed that we have a highly complicated social and economic life with innumerable cross-currents. My answer to the Home Secretary is that in any society which is highly varied and elaborately differentiated, you will get, as a simple matter of fact, whether you want it or not, inequalities in voting power. You will have views and interests organising themselves privately and demanding successfully some increase in representation. Those interests may be of many kinds—professional, religious, economic—and if they are strongly supported they will manage to secure a higher representative power than is warranted by the numerical state of their numbers. That is my simple argument on behalf of plural voting. In a society like ours you have got it, and you must have it, and it seems to me that it is a far wiser thing to embody it in our Statute law than to give it that undue, and probably mischievous, power which comes to all things which have existence in reality, but which are not officially recognised.

I go further. I think that plural voting is not only inevitable; I believe it to be in the interest of the State. Most of us agree to-day that democracy is outgrowing the machinery which we have invented to give effect to it. Most of our problems to-day are administrative, business, practical questions, where the one thing to be sought is efficiency, and there is a growing belief that democratic institutions and efficiency cannot go together. You find that belief in many parts of the Continent. You find it in Hitlerism and in Fascism, and, I think, you find it in the New party which has recently come to birth on the other side of the House. [An HON. MEMBER: "Stillbirth!"] It is because I do not believe in these melodramatic expedients that I want to see the necessary revision attempted within the four corners of constitutional practice. The vote may be looked at in two different ways. You may regard the vote as the right and the privilege of the individual, his protection, a guarantee for his liberties. Or you may regard it as his duty, as part of the machinery to turn the national mind and will on to national problems.

The Home Secretary, in his speech on the Second Reading, said a very interesting thing. He said that, in his opinion, the poor man, the weak man, the uneducated man should have his voting power aggrandised as compared with his more favoured brother, because he needed protection more. That view was received on this side of the House with a good deal of incredulity, but I think that there is a great deal to be said for it, if you regard a vote only as a privilege, a perquisite, a protection of the individual. But if you regard the vote also, as you must regard it, as part of the instrument of an efficient Government, you cannot accept that view, for if you follow it to its logical conclusion, then the person whose voting power would be most emphasised would be the mental defective. We must regard the vote as the machinery for bringing the whole intelligence and knowledge of the nation to the solution of national problems.

From that point of view, I think plural voting can most cogently be defended. Problems of Government do not get easier as time goes on, and surely it is right to bring, in a special form, to assist their solution for those groups and interests which happen to possess a special knowledge and experience. As an example I would give the great organisation of the trade unions. They represent organised labour, and they are the repository of a knowledge which is not shared by a very large number of other hon. Members. I would give as another example the business community, which is also the repository of a certain kind of experience and knowledge not shared by the professional, academic, and working classes. My third example is that of the universities. It seems to me that these great groups, these great reservoirs of special experience, should be given special representation if they are to row their full weight in the national boat. I have quoted three instances which, in our present system have, either directly or indirectly, a special representation. I do not say the particular form in which they enjoy it is the best. I think it might be greatly improved, but until we set ourselves to a scientific revision, I want to keep the present practice and retain the present principle. On these grounds, I support the retention of the business vote and the university vote.

My hon. Friend the Member for Lancaster (Mr. Ramsbotham) has defended the retention of the business vote, and perhaps I may be allowed to say a few words on the matter of the university vote. I gather that it is the intention of the Government not to oppose the former decision of the House on this matter. But if plural voting is abolished there is a danger that university representation may become a rather attenuated thing. That will not apply so much to my own constituency, the Scottish Universities, and it would not apply in a very great degree to the older universities of England or to London. But it would hit very hardly smaller units like Queen's University, Belfast, and the University of Wales. I think that the effect will be only temporary, because the electoral roll of the universities is growing so fast that it will soon be very large. At the moment my own electorate is between 10,000 and 50,000, and in 10 years' time it may be nearly 70,000. Also I think there will always be a large proportion of university graduates who will prefer the university vote to any other. But in the meantime to abolish plural voting would undoubtedly weaken the vitality and prestige of university representation.

If I thought plural voting was against the national interests I should have no more to say, but for the reason I have given that is not my view. Therefore, I do not see any reason for the change proposed in the new Clause. A business man who votes for his house and his office has two entirely different interests. The graduate who votes for his home and his university, represents the special interests of science and education, and the general interests of the ordinary constituency. I do not see why he should not continue to serve the State in both capacities. If the university vote is to be retained, surely it is in the national interest to make it as vital and efficient as possible.

I believe that is the general opinion of the British people. I know that it is very easy to dogmatise as to what is the opinion of the British people, and sometimes it is very hard to prove it. But here we have certain data. It will be within the recollection of hon. Members that the decision of the House to retain the university vote was received with approval by an enormous proportion of the Press of this country. Independently altogether of political opinion, I think I may say that, with few exceptions, the decision of this House to retain university representation met with the approval of the whole British Press opinion. When the proposal to abolish university representation was first made, there was a protest from every part of this country and of the Empire, from men of the highest distinction in the professions, arts and sciences, a very large number of whom held political principles utterly different from those belonging to the majority of university representatives. I think it may fairly be said that the great bulk of informed opinion in this country is in favour of the retention of the university vote, and of its retention in real vigour and substance, and not as a shadow.

I am aware that this House, during the period for which it is elected, is wholly independent, and it is not only its right but its duty to come to conclusions without any regard to opinion outside its doors. That follows the fine old doctrine that a Member of Parliament is not a delegate but a representative, that he is not sent to this House to do what his constituents tell him, but he is sent here to use his brains as far as he can for their benefit. That is true, but it is not the whole truth. To-day, there are many criticisms of Parliamentary institutions, and one of the chief criticisms is that Parliament very soon after its election drifts out of touch with national opinion. There may be truth in that. I would suggest to hon. Members that this House, if it is to retain its traditional prestige and repute, should not be insensible to outside currents of thought, and that Parliament has always been at its strongest when it has lent a ready ear to the informed and considered opinion of the nation at large.


I have listened with interest to the speech of the hon. Member for the Scottish universities (Mr. Buchan) and to his defence—the only defence—of plural voting. The hon. Member referred to Victorian Radicalism. I am a Victorian Radical, and I recognise as fully as the hon. Member the inequalities that exist in regard to the exercise of the franchise. Nevertheless, I do not see any reason why one man should have more voting power than another. The hon. Member for the Scottish Universities has pointed out very truly that the university representative has more special knowledge to place at the disposal of the House of Commons than the ordinary representative, but he has not given any reason to show why universities should be given special representation. The hon. Member has told us that the vote is a guarantee of protection of the rights of the people, and the exercise of the vote is a duty which they have to perform towards the State. I suggest that the hon. Member for the Scottish Universities has not shown us the necessity for giving extra representation to special interests in the House of Commons. Undoubtedly, the wealthy have power which is not possessed by those who do not possess wealth, and the present machinery is in favour of the wealthy. If you are going to weight your electoral machine, it should not be weighted in favour of the strong, but in favour of the weak.

No one need be afraid that wealth will not exercise sufficient influence in any community, and, if you want to weight your machine, I think the Home Secretary was quite right when he said that those who are not wealthy but are weak, and poor, and otherwise helpless, should not have any extra weight placed upon them in the voting machine. I know that wealthy people will have their due weight, but it is a bad argument to say that wealth, influence and special knowledge should have special representation in this House. It is not necessary to be afraid; they will always have their fair share, and rather more than their fair share, of representation in this House. I think that the same thing applies to university representation. Those hon. Members who sit for university seats are not the only university Members in this House. I myself am devoted to my own university of Oxford. I shall never forget the lessons which Oxford taught me, and, so far as I have any influence in this House, I owe it to the learning and knowledge which Oxford gave to me. I would put it to the hon. Member for the Scottish Universities that we who have had the advantage of university education have far more representation in this House in proportion to those who have not been to the universities.

I am not afraid of democracy, and I am sure that learning, knowledge and ability will find their due relation in those who are sent here, without weighting the electoral machinery in order to give special representation to the universities. That seems to me to be all the more the case because I am bound to say that, throughout the 25 years during which I have been in and out of this House, I do not think that the university representatives have in all cases been specially selected on grounds of learning. I find that the party system is just as strong in our universities as it is in other communities, and, therefore, I am happy to think that my university will have representation in this House through the knowledge and ability of the sons of Oxford, without its being necessary to choose special representatives of the University of Oxford, brilliant and distinguished as some of them have been in my time. I do not think that the hon. Member has really made out his case. With most of what he said I agree, but I think he just failed to establish the link between his argument and this House. I say once more that it is not necessary to weight the machine in favour of wealth, learning, and ability, because those attributes will find their natural level and have their full influence in the community, and, therefore, will be represented here in this House.


I cannot help thinking that the speech to which we have just listened comes with a singularly ill grace from the right hon. Gentleman by whom it has been delivered. What, after all, is the major purpose of this Bill, and by whom is it inspired? The major purpose of the Bill is to give two votes to a certain minority, and the people who have asked for it and who have secured it from the Government are the right hon. Gentleman and his friends.


Surely, the labourer is worthy of his hire!


That demand is not made on the ground of superior intelligence, superior learning, or any other superiority; it is made on the ground of political weakness, because, it is said, they are weak and poor and otherwise helpless. For that reason, they are to have two votes, but nobody else is to have more than one. The right hon. Gentleman who demands two votes for his own party refuses them to learning—


I cannot allow the right hon. Gentleman to misrepresent me. I have not asked for two votes for anyone.


What is the Bill for but to give two votes to the Liberal party because it cannot get into Parliament without them? [Interruption.] I am glad to see that the right hon. Gentleman at last understands. [Interruption.] I do not intend to pursue that matter further; I have said all that I want to say on that subject; but I want to put in a plea, which I think has not yet been made, for the retention of the business vote. I confess that, as regards the university vote, it seems to me to be singular that at this time, when the universities are, if I may use that much abused word, as democratic as they have ever been before, when they are drawing in ever larger degree from all classes of the community, and are representative, and widely representative, of classes which a few score years ago could hardly be found there—it seems to me to be singular that just that moment should be chosen to deprive them of their special representation, and that it should be chosen and defended on the ground that they are given a party representation.

Cannot the party opposite ever look a little ahead? Cannot they have a little imagination? Do they suppose that, if university representation remains, with this new influx of life from new quarters, the party representation of the universities will always remain the same? Do they not see that they are taking that representation away just at the time when it is beginning to come within their reach to acquire that representation for themselves? [Interruption.] I stand to defend it, and with the greater conviction because I am perfectly conscious that, although the university vote at the present time may be a vote favourable to my party and to the views with which I am connected, that opinion will not always remain with the same unanimity that it has at the present time.

I rose, however, as I have said, to make a plea for the business vote which has not yet been made. I represent a purely industrial constituency. Its life, its employment, depends upon the industries which are carried on in it. Within my own memory a change in the character of its population has, however, taken place. Many of the workpeople engaged in its industries now live outside the district, and, contrary to what was the case in my youth, I think practically every employer now lives outside the constituency. It is one of the misfortunes attendant upon the growth of our great cities that different classes of the population are apt to become segregated in separate camps, to live, in their leisure hours and when they are at home, divorced from one another. I think that that is a great weakness for the municipal life of the city, and that it is a social danger; and anything which will cause those who make their money in these great factories to take an interest in the districts in which they make their money and do their business, as well as in the districts in which they have their homes and rejoin their families, seems to me to be a public advantage to the community and to every class of the community. Because the retention of this vote is one of the few remaining links between the life of the industrial community which dwells around the factory and that of those who provide the capital for and conduct the business of the factory, I should be very sorry to see it abolished at the present time. It is not a very large influence, but it does serve to connect up the lives and interests of those two classes, which too many forces tend to drive apart, and, as such, it is to my mind a most valuable element in social stability.


I am one of those who, on most constitutional questions, are in sympathy with those who have proposed this Clause rather than with those who are opposing it, and for that very reason I should like to tell the House why I regret the Clause. I admit that at first sight the arguments against plural voting seem so self-evident as scarcely to need stating, and, indeed, they are self-evident provided that one grants the premises on which they are founded. I take it that the case is really based on a conception of Parliament and its function in the life of the nation which is very attractively simple, and which was admirably set forth by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Camborne (Mr. Leif Jones), who spoke on behalf of the Liberal party; but it is, I venture to suggest, a very simple idea which, when applied to complicated conditions, becames superficial and crude. The conception of Parliament which it implies is really that Parliament consists of 615 individuals, each representing, on an average, with the exception of University Members, roughly speaking 50,000 individuals; and, since those 50,000 individuals cannot all have their way in the choice of a representative, rough justice will be done, so the argument goes, if every one of the 50,000 is enabled to poll his or her full weight in the ultimate choice between two candidates, every other candidate having been eliminated by the device of the Alternative Vote. That is the whole hypothesis upon which the Alternative Vote and the voting proposals of this Bill are based.

According to this view, which regards an elector merely as an arithmetical unit, I admit that the system of grouping these arithmetical units in geographical areas which contain roughly speaking the bedrooms of 50,000 electors is as good as any other; but is that the right conception of Parliament, or of the nation of which Parliament is supposed to be the mirror? What, after all, is a nation? Is a nation just an aggregate of 44,000,000 human beings, or has the nation an individuality which transcends its parts? Has it a head, a brain, a trunk, and limbs? If so, then I suggest that, as a mirror for such a nation, a Parliament elected on a flat geographical basis is just about as good a representation of a nation as a gollywog is of a human being. Everything that gives distinctness of outline, flexibility of limb, or clarity of articulation in the human being is furred and blurred.

The real truth is that one and the same person cannot simultaneously represent stockbrokers, domestic servants, university professors, dock labourers, clerks, and artisans, and, when these individuals are shepherded into groups under banners labelled "Liberal," "Labour," or "Conservative," it does not really meet the difficulty. It becomes more and more clear as time goes on that these political distinctions are relatively confused and fictitious, while the real differences which arise from differences of education and occupational status are real and permanent. Not long ago, the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies) pointed out that very view in almost the very words that I have been using. He complained that so many representatives of working-class constituencies were stockbrokers, lawyers, doctors, and the rest. He said that could not rightly represent the working-class point of view, and he looked forward to the time when all working-class constituencies would be represented by genuine working-class representatives. I sometimes wonder whether the House realises exactly what that would mean. It would mean a House representative of one class only, and that the class of weekly wage earners.

I have not the figures by me which afford arithmetical proof, though I am endeavouring to obtain them, but I think it is certain that in almost every constituency in the country, certainly in the vast majority of constituencies, the weekly wage earners and those of equivalent economic status are in the majority, and I sometimes wonder if people realise the great change in that respect which was brought about by the Acts of 1918 and 1925 in the class character of constituencies. I am not referring to the fact for which all women must class the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Bewdley (Mr. S. Baldwin) among those for whom more especially we are bound to pray for enfranchising women. I am referring to the fact of the enfranchisement of domestic servants, and I think that small fact has seldom been recognised in respect of the importance it gives to the character of constituencies.

Take an example which has been recently made out for me in connection, with an analysis of working class conditions by the University of Liverpool. It has ben reckoned that, taking Liverpool as a whole, the proportion of persons belonging to the wage-earning class is between 67 and 82 per cent. That is the figure for all the constituencies. I tried to get figures taken out for three typical working-class wards and three exceptionally prosperous wards in Liverpool, and, taking householders alone, it shows that in the working-class wards about 89 per cent. belong to the working-classes and in the more prosperous wards the proportion falls as low as 31 per cent. That leaves out the domestic servants. If you consider a well-to-do neighbourhood, roughly speaking, it comes to this, that in the very wealthy houses the proportion of domestic servants over 21 years of age would more than balance the number of members of the family over 21, in a middle class household they would be about equal, and in the small servant keeping class of house the members of the family would outbalance the domestic servants. The importance of that fact is that, when you add the domestic servant class to the householders in residential neighbourhoods, in the vast majority of constituencies they bring up the weekly wage-earner vote to the majority of the constituency. I should think there is a bare handful of constituencies in which that is not the case.

We sometimes speak of the dictatorship of the proletariat in Russia. Few people realise that here and now in Great Britain we have the dictatorship of the proletariat. It is an arithmetical fact. If we do not feel the heel of the oppressor, it is because the proletariat is innately conservative and uses the enormous power that is placed in its hands with sometimes almost excessive moderation. I do not want to have it supposed that I regret universal suffrage, I worked for it and I gave the best years of my life to bringing it about, and I believe it has worked results which transcend all that I ever expected from it. It is one of those great forces which arise from time to time which Sweep through the dull, dense world, compelling there All new successions to the forms they wear. If we had to choose between disfranchising the dock labourer and the domestic servant, or the stockbroker and the graduate of the university, without hesitation I would sacrifice the stockbroker and the graduate, because they have other means of defence. All great reforms bring their risks. The risk attached to this reform is that we may shortly be faced with a class domination just as selfish and just as narrow as the class domination of the 18th and the earlier part of the 19th century, only with the relative position of the different classes reversed. I sometimes find myself marvelling at the short-sightedness of members of the Labour and the Liberal parties who themselves belong by birth, by education, by their occupational status and interests to the middle and upper classes, and yet persistently ignore that possibility. I deny altogether that it is a remote and imaginary possibility. I believe it is a real danger which is approaching day by day nearer and nearer.

There is a great deal of pretence and humbug in the atmosphere of to-day. That applies most to realities which are really knocking their shins and staring them in the face every hour. Just because snobbishness of the more obvious kind is out of fashion, because we neither talk nor think about the lower classes or about our inferiors, we pretend that class differences have ceased to exist. They are just as real as ever they were. They may have ceased to exist vertically, but they still exist horizontally. A bricklayer is as good as a stockbroker, but a bricklayer is not the same thing as a stockbroker, and I believe it would be true to say that a Conservative bricklayer has far more in common with a Labour bricklayer than a Conservative bricklayer has with a stockbroker who belongs to the same party as himself. Hon. Members opposite applaud that, but do they realise what it practically implies with regard to this question of university representation? Do they realise that their very cheers are an acknowledgment of the fact that we have a dictatorship of the proletariat and that they want more and more that the dictatorship should become not only potential, as it is at present, but actual by replacing the past domination of the upper and middle classes by the complete domination, as far as political power is concerned, of their own class?

I know there are Members who think this is an imaginary danger, because, though they belong to what is sometimes insultingly called the intelligentsia, they have found it easier to get returned to Parliament for industrial constituencies. Are they sure it is always going to be so? Are they sure that it arises from conditions which are static or whether it is not one of those instances that all students of political conditions must have observed of the extremely slow time lag in political reactions? A newly enfranchised class is always naturally timid and uncertain of itself. It likes to cling on to the shoulders of the more expedient classes; it likes to select its representatives from among those classes. As it feels its feet and becomes more confident, not unnaturally it seeks to be represented by persons who live the same life, have the same standards, read the same books, play the same games and enjoy the same jokes. When the middle and upper classes were in complete domination, did they choose representatives of the working classes? Is there a single instance when they did so? How, then, can those who themselves belong to the middle and upper classes be certain that we may not be faced in the future with a genuine, purely working-class Parliament? Would they maintain that that is going to be a Parliament which will truly and genuinely represent the whole nation? Do they think it fair and reasonable that, because they are in a minority, because the people at the top, the supervisory people, must always be few in comparison with the routine jobs, those classes should be deprived of all representation, or that they should have no right to choose their own representatives belonging to their own class? Even as it is at present, the fact that the representatives of the intelligentsia are chosen by constituencies the vast majority of whom belong to the weekly wage earning class, does not make for sincerity and straightforwardness in political life.

It means, in effect, that most political candidates have to talk with two voices. They cannot confess to the motives which animate them or express the thoughts which are really in their own minds. It is inevitably so, because they are trying to pretend equality with those with whom they do not feel equality. I do not mean equality in the sense that their constituents are as good as they are, but they are not the same as themselves and they cannot represent them in the same sense as those of their own class would do. I may seem to be putting up rather heavy artillery in a Clause which makes so small a change as this Clause, which sweeps away plural voting, but so long as we have only a small bulwark against a very great and real danger we had better stick to that bulwark until we can get something better. I believe the time is coming when we shall have to revise our Parliamentary system in a much more drastic manner than even the passing or the doing away with this Clause will do. We may have to see that Parliament shall become more truly representative of all classes, of all sections, of all modes of thought and all points of view than it can be on a flat geographical basis.

May I make one point that I have never heard made in all these discussions. The disadvantages of the flat geographical basis have been greatly intensified by the housing legislation of the last few years. The reason is that, so long as houses were put up by private landowners, there was no danger that the private landowner would put up houses in a particular constituency in such a way as to strengthen the Conservative, the Liberal or the Labour party, but now that the great majority of houses are being put up by local authorities, that is what is happening. There is an acute controversy in the Liverpool City Council over a proposed housing scheme which would have the effect of transferring a very large block of working-class voters, belonging mainly to a particular religion, into a constituency which hitherto has been almost entirely Conservative, and the pros and cons of that housing policy are being quite openly discussed as a sort of political gerrymandering. That is bad for the housing policy and bad for the representative system. I do not say what is the final way out. It may be by a reformed House of Lords. I hope not, because we should have a clash between two systems. We should have a House of Commons elected on a flat geographical basis and a House of Lords elected on some quite different basis, and it would be merely a pull between the two. The remedy may lie in a system of Proportional Representation and, if that could be properly guarded, I am not sure that that is not the best way. Or it may lie in an alteration of the basis of Parliament, which would be placed on some system of functional representation.

5.0 p.m.

May I give one reason for specially deploring the doing away with plural voting in the case of universities. It will have a serious disadvantage. It has always been my dream since I thought of becoming a university representative myself that we should be able to cut away this vital connection between party politics and university representation. Over and over again in my electoral contests I put forward the view—and I find it attracts more warm applause from all the audiences I address than any other views I put before them—that it is altogether wrong that university representatives should be elected upon grounds of party politics. I use the argument that they should use their votes in their local constituencies and that through the exercise of that vote they could give expression to their party political opinions, and keep their university vote for the purpose for which it was intended of expressing an independent and detached point of view. It will be very much harder to use arguments of that sort when university voters have no choice between the two. There will be more temptation to log roll. If you are in a geographical constituency where the Conservative candidate is in danger, it may be said, "You must use your local vote," and, if you are in a constituency where your vote is not going to make any difference, "You must stick to your university vote." It will be a grave disadvantage if this Clause is passed. It will make it much more difficult to separate the principle of university representation from the principle of party politics. For that, and for all the other reasons which I have given, I deplore that this Clause is to be added to the Bill.


I think the House will agree that we have had a most interesting and informative speech from the hon. Lady the Member for the English Universities (Miss Rathbone). She has brought reality into a Debate which, with great respect to the speakers who had already spoken, seemed to have been largely academic. The previous speakers spoke in favour of a point of view which could only exist in an ideal state. The hon. Lady in her reference to the fact that this country was divided upon a class basis, that this country had a great proletariat and that this country has an employing class, brought reality into the situation, and I propose to deal with that point later on.

The right hon. Gentleman the Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain) was arguing on behalf of the business man's point of view, the employer's point of view. He argued that, if he lived in one constituency and worked in another, surely, since in a sense—I hope that I am interpreting the right hon. Gentleman correctly—the two interests were different, he ought to be allowed to represent those two interests. Would the right hon. Gentleman apply that principle also to the working-man who works in one district and lives in another? If he would do so, my retort would be that it has not been done up to the present, at any rate, although in the case of the business man and the employer it was done in 1918; but perhaps that was a point of view which was overlooked at that time, and, no doubt, quite naturally.

The hon. Gentleman who asked us to reject the Clause in what all will agree was a most delightful and epigrammatic speech quoted from Mills to the effect that we ought not to abolish the plural vote until education generally has been very considerably raised. Following upon that quotation, he took up the argument on behalf of the intelligent man. The intelligent man is not necessarily the educated man. I have known intelligent men. I have known intelligent boys and girls pass intelligence tests which I have 6et, and, with many members of my profession I have come to look upon those intelligence tests as excellent indications as to whether a particular boy or girl might become a first-class burglar or forger. Usually, the boy or girl who is gifted with an abnormal amount of cunning can get through an intelligence test, but no one will suggest that such intelligence and cunning ought to be condoned as being education.

The arguments of the hon. Member for Lancaster (Mr. Ramsbotham) in claiming for the business man special privileges in respect of voting were interesting to me, particularly after having sat here for hours listening to the Debate on export credits. During that Debate I listened to hon. Members, not merely hon. Members on this side of the House but on the other side of the House, above and below the Gangway, in their great general condemnation of the utter ineptitude and inefficiency of the business men of this country. Having for a whole night inveighed against them on another occasion, we are now being asked to confer upon them the privilege of a second vote as against the position of the working man. The hon. Member for Lancaster also said that this House should be the mirror of the nation. I am afraid that if that contention were examined ho would not repeat it with the same enthusiasm as he did at the beginning, because our nation is made up of a very varied and complex number of people. We have in this House to-day the business men. We have in it, the working men who work either with their hands or with their heads. But there are other people in it. If this House is to be the mirror of the nation, I can see us having—I am not certain whether it has not already been said to have had them in 1918—the profiteering class represented. It is not for me to make that suggestion now. We might also, since it has been represented as the mirror of the nation, have the burglar class represented too. [An HON. MEMBER: "We have—the Chancellor of the Exchequer!"] I would only ask the hon. and gallant Gentleman not to claim too much credit. We also might have, if it were to be the mirror of the nation, murderers represented. If they were here the guillotine might be put into much more frequent use than it is at the present moment.

I might make an assertion here to-day that the working-class, the class of whom the hon. Lady spoke and whom she called the proletariat, who are not necessarily wage earners, but, many of them, salary earners, many of whom are in the professions—that the proletarian class, who, because they are the proletarian class, are a great advantage to the State; and that, in the face of the wealth of the profiteer and business man, and because they are without property and wealth, they are at a grave disadvantage. Those of us who have had experience in factories, businesses and offices know that we cannot possibly get our people to express themselves even as they would like to express themselves, and that wealth has a power to-day, in a State like ours, divided as it is on class issues, already out of all proportion to those who possess the wealth. That is the point to which I said I would refer.

It is precisely because our society is a class society, because it has a property and an owning class, that I want to see the working-class ultimately win their emancipation by owning their own homes and their own land. When they own their own land, and when this community is a community which is master in its own house, we can begin to discuss the ideal scheme of representation of all the various interests that go to make up the arts, crafts and all the professions. I believe that when that time comes Parliament will be much richer in its knowledge and experiences, and its sum total contribution to the legislation of the country will be infinitely more beneficial than it is at the present time. As long as you have society based upon a class struggle—I need not emphasise that fact in face of the attacks upon the working-class which are taking place all over the country to-day—and as long as the masses of the nation are dispossessed of property and privileges, there can only be one solution, and that is, that they shall demand common equality with the employer and business men before the ballot box.


Some of the first principles which have been debated this afternoon are not really, in my submission, at issue upon the Amendment which is now before the House. All parties seem to be agreed that what we are to aim at under our present system of representation is the best possible representation of each local area. It is absolutely impossible to get the best possible representations of each area unless there is in that area opportunity for the expression of all types of opinion, all types of experience, and all sorts of interests. So long as we have those great central divisions of our great cities it is really impossible to say that their opinions, their experiences, and their interests are properly and adequately represented if the business men, on whose ability and enterprise the well-being of the whole of those areas depend, are excluded from any share in the representation. There is in all the great towns of England a central area analogous to the City of London in the Metropolis. Nobody can say that the opinions, the experiences, and the interests of those central areas are adequately represented in the votes cast by caretakers and charwomen, small shopkeepers, and the small knots of working-class residential areas which happen to be within the ambit of those central areas. You are, in fact, destroying the distinctive character of those historic sites in our great towns if you destroy what is left of the business vote. Even now, owing to the great growth of limited liability companies, a great many of the leading business men in those areas are not represented, and it is all the more important to preserve the votes of those who are still carrying on business by themselves.

If you really wish to see the mirror of which we have heard so much at work, may it be the mirror which reflects the true heart, the true intelligence and the true experiences of those particular constituencies throughout all the urban districts of England. You will be smashing the mirror if you exclude the power of those persons to vote. It cannot be now said, "Let them vote there and give up their votes in the residential areas." This Bill does not provide for that, because it destroys the business vote altogether. It must be borne in mind that the same people who play the biggest part in the towns also play the biggest part in framing opinions where they live. If we judge this matter on the democratic principle of representation, the Amendment ought to command the support of all who want to see true representation, that is, a true reflection of what is thought in the areas which return Members to Parliament.

The true test of political machinery is, however, not the extent to which it is in harmony with the ideas of democracy, but does it or does it not make for efficiency? From the point of view of all classes of the community it becomes more and more important that business interests should be represented in the Council of the Nation. All the great questions which bear upon the well-being of the people are business questions. Less and less importance attaches to the purely political questions which interested the Victorians and the politicians of the 19th century, and more and more importance attaches to fiscal questions, tariff questions, economic questions, all of which are bound up with business. This matter is not determined by the mere counting of heads. For 12 years I have represented one of the divisions of Manchester. People say to me "What does Manchester think of monetary questions?" My constituency is a purely working-class residential area, and my correspondence from 1st January to 31st December is not concerned so much with what one might call the big political issues, but deals with the questions which interest working-class people, such as unemployment benefit, pensions, unemployment and housing. There is never any question on the really great issues with which Parliament has to deal. If that is the case in a Manchester division, Manchester being a great centre of industrial interests, it is of the very greatest importance that every effort should be made, in the midst of a world which is so beset with personal and private interests and concerns, and it becomes all the more vital, to give practical effect to the views, the opinions and the experience of men who are accustomed to deal with the larger issues with which Parliament is concerned. The only way in which those interests find expression so far as regards the vote is through the business vote at Parliamentary elections.

I should like to put one point with regard to the university vote which has not been made. We can take it as assumed to-day that university representation is worth preserving. That was the decision of the Committee of this House. It is worth preserving, in the opinion of the majority of the House, because of the special value, educational, scientific and otherwise, which accompanies university education, and also because of the distinctive character of the Members of Parliament returned by university constituencies. Therefore, we have to argue the question of plural voting on the footing that university representation is to be maintained. If it is to be maintained, is it not very important that the largest possible number of university graduates should vote at university elections? The effect of the Amendment moved by the Home Secretary is to attenuate university constituencies by depriving university graduates, who elect to vote where they live, of their vote for the university. It does not follow that the graduates who are to be deprived of their university vote in that way are the least representative university graduates or that they are the less likely to record their votes for capable representatives of the university.

By diminishing the number of university constituents we shall be lessening the power, responsibility and weight of university Members of Parliament. Once we have accepted the principle of university representation it becomes all important that the right and the duty to vote at university elections should belong to all who enjoy the honour of being a university graduate. I cannot understand anyone who wishes to preserve university representation, and has voted for it, voting now to diminish in some cases by one-half and in other two-thirds the number of university votes. University representation has always appealed to the more enlightened Liberals. The Sovereign who introduced university representation was that celebrated Scottish Liberal, James I. Mr. Gladstone was for many years Member of Parliament for Oxford University.


What did he say when he was thrown out there?


I hope that the Liberal Members will remember what Mr. Gladstone said in 1865. He said, of the universities: For 800 or 1,000 years they have been intimately associated with everything which concerns the highest interests of the country. Morley, another distinguished Oxford Liberal, places that statement at the head of one of the chapters in his "Life of Gladstone." The House having accepted the principle of university representation is under an obligation to make that representation real. We shall make it unreal by diminishing the number of university votes by one-half.

Brigadier - General Sir WILLIAM ALEXANDER

I cannot allow the present attempt to introduce party politics at the expense of the business organisations of this country to pass without a word of protest. I am not an ambitious politician, but I represent the City of Glasgow, which is second only to the City of London in industry, trade and importance. Under this Bill Glasgow ought not to be treated differently from London. I entered this House with the qualification of having been brought up in the hard school of trade and industry, believing that some special knowledge of commerce might be of service to the House, but I have long since been disillusioned. It is unfortunate that this House does not attract any great number of Members possessing the best business, commercial and financial brains of the country. That is unfortunate from many points of view, because commercial and financial questions relating to the conduct of national business are not less important but a great deal more important than the commercial questions affecting any individual industry, however large. Before this country can expect to return to prosperity in industry and can expect its unemployment to be considerably reduced it will be necessary to enlist to a larger extent, both inside and outside this House, the best commercial brains which exist in the country. This political wangle is doing nothing else than attempting to discourage what we ought to encourage. As far back as April, 1927, on the views which I had formed of Government methods and principles in this House, I criticised, constructively I hope, the financial proposals of the then Chancellor of the Exchequer of a Conservative Government on the extravagant—

Mr. DEPUTY - SPEAKER (Mr. Dunnico)

I do not see the connection between that and the Clause before the House. The Clause that we are discussing is whether there should be one or more votes.


I am sorry if I have transgressed my limits. I am dealing with this matter from the commercial point of view. However, I shall obey your Ruling and endeavour to state my point otherwise. It is in the interests of the House and in the interests of the welfare of the nation to encourage as far as possible all the business elements of the country. I believe that large industries can assist and ought to assist in the programme that is ahead of us. At the present time, the limited companies have no representation. Those limited companies, operating on a very large scale, are not permitted to make a choice of their Parliamentary representative in the districts where they operate.


I do not see what connection that argument has with the Clause before the House. The Clause lays it down that an elector shall not vote in more than one constituency.


I again have to apologise if I have gone beyond the limits of order. I will content myself by saying that it is unreasonable that obstacles should be put in the way of business interests, of business men who are the brains and assets of this country, and who ought to be encouraged to take a greater interest in the conduct of the affairs of the country. It is regrettable from the commercial and financial point of view that these interests should be discouraged by the taking away of votes which they exercise at the present time.


The hon. Member who has just spoken has emphasised our main contention that in this matter personal knowledge should always command attention. This Clause is another step in the long process of the reduction of our forms of government to the dead level of the universal suffrage. The issues before us both upon the matters upon which we can agree and the matters upon which we cannot agree were very clearly put by the hon. Member for Walsall (Mr. McShane). With his description of the object of government one must easily agree, namely, that it is to obtain equal justice for all in the community, whether of class or of individuals, and in an eloquent passage at the conclusion of his speech he indicated his opinion that the best means of furthering the interests of all and obtaining equal justice for all is through the ballot box. That is where I am moved to express disagreement.

How long is the country to be led upon this wild goose chase after good government and effective democracy through the instruments of universal suffrage and representative government? How long is it going to be before the country wakes up to the fact that by the elimination of all differences and the reduction of our methods to that of universal suffrage we are neither furthering the object of good government nor the ends of democracy itself? This process has been in progress for over 100 years, and during all that-time the greatest political talents in this country have been engaged in ceaseless combats for the acceptance of the process, and step by step forces, which on the whole must be recognised to be forces on the right side, have won the struggle in favour of the extension of the suffrage. We have got nearer and nearer to the dead level of universal suffrage without any forms of difference.

At each step in this process we have always been deluded with the belief that just ahead of us there lies that perfect form of democracy which will secure the liberties of the people and the good government of the country. At the end of it all, now that we are getting nearer to the dead level of universal suffrage, is it not time that we pulled ourselves together, shall I say woke up, and asked ourselves whether we are any nearer the attainment of liberty and good government than we were at the beginning of the process? I believe that we are no nearer now than we were 100 years ago when the process began. Indeed, I believe that in some ways we are further away, that liberty is less secure in the country than it was 100 years ago and that the government of the country is worse now than it was when this process started.


On a point of Order. I paid careful attention to your Ruling, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, when the hon. Member for Glasgow, Central (Sir W. Alexander) was speaking, and I have a feeling that the right hon. Member who is now addressing the House, with much more experience and much more adroitly, is stepping a little beyond the question as to whether it is to be one or two.


The opinion of the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton) is one which I share. I was at that moment looking through the terms of the Clause. A general discussion upon the merits or demerits of democracy may be relevant upon the Third Reading of the Bill, or upon the Second Reading, but it does not appear to me to be relevant to this proposed new Clause. This Clause restricts the discussion to whether or not a person should vote in one or more constituencies. That is the sum and substance of the Clause which is before the House at the moment.


I hope you will permit me to address myself to the point of Order. The Clause now before the House is one which will have the effect of removing a difference in the present system of voting, and the system which will become one of universal suffrage, one adult, one vote. I conceive it to be relevant to argue on this occasion that any step in the direction of universal adult suffrage is a disadvantage, and in order to demonstrate that I submit that it is relevant to argue that it is a disadvantage to move in the direction of universal suffrage. If that is not so I suggest with all humility that it is really impossible to argue the fundamental merits of the Clause now before the House.


The point of Order raised by the right hon. Member appears to me not really to appreciate the substance of this Clause. The question of universal suffrage does not arise under this Clause. As a matter of fact, this Clause is restrictive, it does not extend. It simply lays it down, if it becomes law, that no person shall vote in more than one constituency at a General Election. It does not raise the question of universal adult suffrage.


I am obliged to you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, for having considered my contention, and, of course, I shall bow to your Ruling. May I be allowed to put the argument I was advancing in somewhat too general a form on a more particular footing? The business of governing this country is rapidly becoming one of increasing complexity, and the particular form of complexity to which I think it is necessary to call attention on a Debate of this nature is the increasing international complexity of government. A hundred years ago it was possible to govern this country more or less as a unit alone in the world. Nowadays it is impossible, because it is so much bound up by close economic ties with the economic structure of the rest of the world. That being so, does not this consequence follow? I invite hon. Members opposite to agree with this very obvious proposition, that in these days of great economic complexity you have to consider this country so far as many of the measures we have to consider here are concerned, as a single great business, possessing in itself a unity which is different from the unity of its parts and also possessing close relations with the economic world outside.

We have to consider the country as a single great business. I also invite their assent to this further proposition, that in this great business while there are many different factors involved there are two principal outstanding factors, that is the factor of the Labour point of view—the wage earners—and the factor of the management or executive point of view. That is, of course, beyond dispute; and although this third point may be more controversial yet I think it is one upon which it is possible to obtain agreement, that as between these two big factors, looking upon the country as a business concern—the labour factor and the management or executive factor—owing to the historical accident of the way in which things have come to be, the knowledge and experience necessary to arrive at wise decisions is on the whole not in the same hands, but in different hands. I am prepared to grant that the knowledge and experience of labour questions is in the hands of hon. Members opposite, although there are many hon. Members on this side of the House who would question that proposition, but I claim in return that knowledge and experience as regards the management side is largely in the hands of those who are generally referred to as business men. If that is so, if these two contributions are necessary to right decisions on important questions, does it not follow that the right guide as to the opinion which should be given in all matters of legislation is not necessarily to be based on a purely arithmetical calculation.

To get at any reasonable form of government you must be prepared for the present to wait for the knowledge and experience which is held on the whole by the executive and management side. I am prepared to say that at the present time, in order to get the country through its difficulties, we should give a preponderance of opinion in the council of the nation to the management or executive side, whatever might be done at other times, but I know that it is impossible to put that contention forward in a modern state. If you want reasonable decisions on the biggest questions that come up for decision in the legislature I do not think you should go further than to give equal influence to labour considerations on the one side and to management and executive considerations on the other, and then have an arbitrator to decide between the two. That is a council of perfection, but it is asking far less when we make a stand to save, for the benefit of good government in the country and the true liberties of the people, the very small extra weight that is still given to all that body of special knowledge and experience so necessary to right decisions on modern economic questions which is contained in the business community. The Clause before the House is a retrograde step. It is a long step backward in view of these wider considerations which will have to be discussed and settled by this House on another occasion. As regards the more practical considerations this is a step in the direction of bad government.


I oppose this new Clause on somewhat different grounds to those put forward by some of my hon. Friends, who have opposed it on the ground that it is not necessary or an advance in the direction of democracy. I oppose it because it is an advance in the direction of democracy. I am not a Hitlerite or a Fascist or a member of the New party, but I believe that the terms democracy and efficiency are incapable of being joined together.


They are none the worse for that.


You have ruled, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that a discussion on the merits or demerits of democracy is out of order, otherwise I should have been delighted to have taken up that point. I submit that this new Clause is the last step in the folly of equality; that reactionary Victorian theory, which never had any benefit or substance, which never had any sanctions at all, which never existed and which was only invented as a will-o'-the-wisp by reactionary mid-Victorian Radicals as a bait to dangle in front of the ignorant. And very successfully; the donkey followed the bait.


What about Mr. Baldwin and the flappers' vote?


I think you would rule, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, such a subject out of order. I say, quite frankly, that if I had been in the House at that time I should have opposed it.


Send for Mr. Baldwin.


Let me return to the definite point of the Amendment, from which I was led away by hon. Gentlemen opposite. This new Clause lays it down that it does not matter what a man's qualifications may be. He may be subversive, he may be of alien race or diseased in body or mind, yet his voice in the councils of the State is to be just as good as that of anyone else. I say unashamedly that I believe in plural voting. I make a present of this statement to hon. Members opposite—I would not select as the best possible either business men or university graduates, though they are the only people who have the plural vote under the existing law, but I would strongly oppose taking that plural vote from them. The trouble is, not that the country is organised on a class basis, but that the class lines have got twisted round in the wrong direction. Instead of there being, as there should be, classes of leaders and led, those competent to lead and those who have not the time or the intellect to go into the very difficult questions of government, we have got out of the straight and narrow groove into the groove of merely money and non-money. I deplore that fact. I believe plural voting to be a good thing. If the hon. Member for Walsall (Mr. McShane) can move a manuscript Amendment to include amongst the plural voters the workers in the place where they work, I should support him.


It was not I who suggested that, but the right hon. Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain).


With deference, I disagree with the hon. Member. My right hon. Friend the Member for West Birmingham (Sir A. Chamberlain) said that he believed in business men having votes both where they lived and where they worked. The hon. Member for Walsall asked my right hon. Friend whether he would support a similar privilege for the workers. I do not know what my right hon. Friend would do, but I would support such a proposal. The greatest curse on this country to-day is the theory of equality, which always drags down from the best to the worst. One right hon. Gentleman from the Liberal benches said that the balance should be weighted in favour of the weakest and the poorest. That is to draw down the efficient, the useful, the leaders, to the level of the worst and the most incompetent. Whatever historical parallel there may be, whatever lesson there is to be gained from history, that has always been for the evil of the State. What we have to consider, it has been said, is whether this proposal is in the interest of democracy. I dissent from that view. What we have to consider is whether the proposal is in the interests of the State. Anything that is going to produce more of a dead level of equality, more weighting of the good down to the level of the bad, putting the more forcible brakes on those best able to lead, as I believe the abolition of plural voting will do, is not in the interests of the State. For these reasons, I oppose the new Clause.


On these old subjects it is difficult to discover new arguments. I have listened to a great many arguments that were familiar many years ago. But there are two new features to-day. The first is the strictly modern and fashionable scepticism about democracy, which has been the motive of several speeches from hon. Members opposite. I am not going to quarrel with that, because it would not be in order for me to pursue the subject. It is, however, a significant fact that that is the case nowadays, and I admit that in some measure I share the feeling. Democracy is clearly an experiment, and we have to go through a great variety of experiments before we get the final form. But what we have to consider to-day is the existing state of our voting system, and a very limited problem in regard to that.

Throughout the Debate there has been a good deal of confusion between two different things—the question whether there should be a special representation in this House by specified experience and knowledge and interest, or, what is really the subject of this new Clause, whether there should be additional votes given to certain favoured or selected individuals. Those are two entirely separate problems. The first, that of special representation, we have already decided by the Government's acceptance of a decision that the universities are to have representation. That is an accepted fact.


No, no!


If the hon. Member will look at Clause 3, he will see that we there come to the question whether there should be registration for business premises or not.


The case of the City of London was decided in Committee.


Clause 3 abolishes plural voting, but makes a special exception with regard to representation of the City of London. If Clause 3 were not passed, the business vote would remain precisely as it is at the moment.


Special representation—


I think hon. Members are now anticipating. They must confine themselves to the issue immediately before the House.


I must apologise for having been lured away. There have been really three, or at the most four, specific arguments against this new Clause. The first is that plural voting is the last vestige of added authority for selected voters, and although he did not approve of the precise form in which it is now embodied, the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Beaumont) said he would keep that vestige for its historical interest.


It has a practical value.


The second was that business men should take an interest in the places in which their money is made. Those who have seen the process in action, those who on a General Election polling day have seen motors in great abundance pour into the centre of the City which they very seldom frequent at other times, who have seen them bring not only the business men who make their money there, but their wives, will say that it is a kind of interest that does not impress the ordinary elector with the sense that it is particularly just or valuable. There was the further point, that if this Clause were passed universities would suffer from a shortage of voters, because for some unfortunate reason graduates might be lured to be more interested in their localities than in their universities. I sympathise in some measure with that hardship, and there is a very simple remedy, which is that no graduate should be allowed to vote in the area in which he resides. That would effectively cure that particular evil.

Then there was the last and rather sensational danger with which many of us on this side were threatened, namely, that if we accepted the Clause we who are not manual workers would be in danger of suffering the worst horrors of working-class domination. I confess that that argument leaves me cold. It is in contrast with a previous statement, that experience has shown that the British voter is a singularly gentle and mild and even conservative creature, and certainly not one who would be likely to inflict any very great terrors on any normally-minded citizen. But I will not say more about that. Assuming that there is a danger that is threatened, what is most likely to promote and aggravate that danger? Surely it is a sense that the present system is unjust and unfair and weighted against the manual worker. The whole constitution of this country is in details weighted against the manual workers. They are profoundly conscious of it, profoundly conscious that the Second Chamber is a continual weight on progressive legislation. It is an obvious weight on the fortunes of their own quite legitimate political desires. You may not agree that it is so, but the feeling is there in their minds.

What is this other weight? It is that you give particular and privileged persons more than one vote. It may not affect very many constituencies, but it all gives the impression that Parliament—both the Upper House and this House—is weighted, in so far as there are weights at all, against the working classes. No one can deny the existence of that fact and impression. I should have thought that the most elementary political wisdom would have persuaded hon. Members that that kind of weight were better removed, because it is the sort of weight that takes from them sympathy with policies which they sometimes produce and which otherwise might be carried. While that weight is there, those of us who are not manual workers will feel less secure than we can feel if all these weights were abolished, if we can simply regard our political system as giving equal powers to the various elements in our life, giving a fair chance and fair play to all classes.

6.0 p.m.


Some of the hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who have already spoken in this Debate have displayed a tendency to embark upon a general discussion of democracy which you, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, have quite properly curtailed, and, as you have curtailed it, I do not propose to incur the rebuke which you would doubtless address to me if I followed their example. But I would like to make one general observation. There is probably no country in the world in which the philosophy of representative institutions has received such adequate and effective expression as this country, and that expression is not based merely on numbers. It has been said of the British Constitution that it "simply growed," like Topsy, and one of the great merits of this House is that it has been regarded as the mirror of the nation. A mirror may be a very unpleasant thing to face on occasions, but it can fairly be claimed that this House is the mirror of the nation in that it represents the facts and the situation in the country.

The hon. Member for Central Leeds (Mr. Denman) was raising a very old cry and one which has lost all force in present circumstances, when he talked about the weight being against the working classes of this country. If there is one country in the world where the working class, as well as every other class—not more than other classes but not less—gets a fair chance of having its point of view expressed and heard and debated and declared, it is this country. To talk nowadays about the weight being against the working classes is, if I may say so with respect, a ridiculous proposition. This House of Commons has to be the mirror, not merely of numbers but of the opinions of the nation, and I rise merely in order to apply that general proposition to a particular case, namely, the case of university representation.

I do not wish to express the point of view which I have in mind merely because I happen myself to be a university representative, but I think it only fair that that point of view should be expressed upon the subject before we part with it. I say, quite candidly, that the universities are asking for special treatment. I do not wish for a moment to disguise that fact; but I think that the universities have good reason for asking for special treatment. Quite frankly and honestly, I fail to understand the excitement raised in some quarters in connection with the proposal which was incorporated in the Bill, as it was introduced, for the abolition of university representation. I should have thought that such a proposal was entirely inconsistent with the trend of modern thought and the needs of the present time.


I must point out to the hon. Member that we cannot discuss the abolition of the university vote, except in so far as it is affected by the Clause now before the House.


I was saying that we asked for special treatment and I was about to emphasise the argument for special treatment by this remark—that among all the social services which exist in the country, I cannot imagine one which is of more genuine and enduring importance to the country than that classed under the term "education." It is because I think it a social service of enduring and vital importance to the country that I say that the universities are entitled to ask for special representation. I am not going to make any claim on the basis of the quality of those who have represented the universities in the past or who represent them to-day. Reference has been made to "the more enlightened Liberals." I resent that term very much, because all Liberals are enlightened. On whatever else we may disagree with each other we are all agreed upon that point. I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman who spoke earlier from this side would agree, even if I dissent from his speech that he and I are both enlightened and where all are enlightened, it is no use introducing comparative terms. Although I do not claim anything for university representation on the ground of the distinction of past or present representatives of the universities, I believe that that social service is entitled to a special voice in the councils of the nation and that if this House deprives the universities of their special privileges, it will be administering a rebuff to a large number of people who are desirous of seeing educational facilities increased. There are enthusiastic men and women up and down the country who spend hours and days and weeks of their lives in trying to extend facilities for education for all the children of the country. [HON. MEMBERS: "The School Attendance Bill!"] It is no use introducing that subject now.


It is introducing the truth.


The truth is this, that the enthusiasm which is being displayed to-day throughout the country by men and women of all classes and conditions in the cause of education is immense, and is greater than it has been in the past. Anything done to give those people a rebuke or a rebuff—as I think the abolition of university representation would be—could only be regarded as a very sad thing for the country. Education is one of the social services which ought to be encouraged and I think that since the House in Committee approved of the continuance of the existence of university franchise, we should be doing the right thing in following up that decision. But there are two ways of doing the right thing. You can do it graciously or you can do it grudgingly. The House in Committee decided that university constituencies shall be continued. Let the House now follow up that decision by doing the thing graciously and they will add not merely to the prestige of the constituencies which they preserve, but they will also do something to enrich the educational life of the country.


When I was a Liberal I understood that a fundamental part of the Liberal party's policy was the doctrine of "one man, one vote." Whether we were more or less enlightened in those days, on that point at least we were agreed. However much we differed on other things we were united in believing in the principle which used to be put by the present leader of the hon. Member for the University of Wales (Mr. Evans), that a man had one soul and had only a right to one vote. That principle is, still, I believe, held by a majority of the Liberal party and it is held unanimously by Members on this side of the House. The hon. Member pleaded for special consideration for a special social service. He will agree that I might have personal reasons for suggesting that if any social service is to be selected for special consideration it ought to be education. But honestly I cannot see why you should select the social service of education and neglect say, that of nursing. If a person is to get a special vote because he has qualified at a university, why should not a young woman who has qualified in a hospital as a nurse be allowed to exercise a second vote in respect of some constituency framed to include her, in addition to having a vote where she resides.

The principle which we are asked to continue is an entirely fancy principle, and it works inequitably. I represent a borough which is just outside the Parliamentary constituency of Houghton-le-Spring, and, owing to the fact that the municipal borough was extended since the passing of the Representation of the People Act of 1918, part of the municipal borough of South Shields is within the county Parliamentary Division of Houghton-le-Spring. As an effect of the principle which we are now asked to continue, if a person has business premises in South Shields and resides in the borough of South Shields, his second vote will depend upon whether he resides in that part of the borough which is within the Parliamentary Division of South Shields, or in that part of the borough which is within the county Parliamentary Division. The only reason given by the defenders of this principle for continuing it, is that it exists. It is a sound Conservative principle that whatever is, is right, but that carries with it the corollary that in history everything that ever was was right, no matter how much people may he disposed to condemn the injustices of the past.

The hon. Member for Moss Side (Sir G. Hurst) brought in the sacred name of Gladstone in defence of this principle, and quoted what Mr. Gladstone said in 1847 when he was asking the university electors of Oxford to return him to Parliament. I would remind the hon. Member that Mr. Gladstone, like most of us, took his pitcher once too often to the well and that there came an occasion when Oxford and he parted company. The hon. Member quoted Morley's "Life of Gladstone" and I thank him for his courtesy in showing me the exact quotation upon which he relied. When he was quoting it, another passage in the same work sprang to my mind. In the first place, I would say that, dealing with the Election of 1865, Lord Morley makes this remark which is germane to the issues before us: The educated residents were for the Chancellor of the Exchequer"— that is Mr. Gladstone— as they had always been, and he had both Liberals and High Churchmen on his side, but one feature was novel, the power to send votes by post. It was those people who were quite apart from the main current of life in the university, and who resided outside, who separated Gladstone from the representation of the university and it is those people whom we are now asked to continue in the privileged position of having two votes. They were, apparently, first introduced into the life of the university at that election. The hon. Member told us what Gladstone said when he was wooing Oxford but did not tell us what he said when Oxford had rejected his addresses. These are the magniloquent words of Lord Morley which sprang to my mind when the hon. Member was speaking: In the fine hall which stands upon a site made historic by militant Free Traders he used the memorable phrase 'At last, by friends,' he began 'I am come among you, and I am come among you unmuzzled.' The audience quickly realised the whole strength of the phrase and so did the people of the country when it reached them. Surely the hon. Member's argument involves an emphatic condemnation of the crippling effect of the representation of "the home of lost causes," when one follows it to the conclusion which I have now reached. I want to deal with the phrase on which the hon. and learned Member relied: There is not a feature or a point of the national character which has made England great among the nations of the world that is not strongly developed and plainly traceable in our universities. For 800 or 1,000 years they have been intimately associated with everything that has concerned the highest interests of the country. As the son of another university, I would agree with that, but I say that equally it is true of the agricultural labourers of the country. They have for more than 1,000 years been bound up with the highest interests of the country. If we are to have special representation because people confer benefits, we cannot limit it to these two classes. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] Hon. Members opposite cheer that vociferously every time it is uttered, but I have not heard, apart from the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Beaumont), a single constructive suggestion as to how they would embody their cheers in this Bill or in any other Bill.


It would be out of order.


I specifically exempted the hon. Member, who was prepared to carry the thing to its logical conclusion. We have been told that the business community are the essential part of the modem city. I believe, myself, that the essential man for the modern city is the navvy. Without the work of the navvy and a system of underground sewerage, you could not have the great modern cities. During the War I was transferred from the East Surreys into the Royal Engineers, and up till that time I had imagined that navvying was an unimportant and unskilled occupation. It was my misfortune, on the first day that I was taken out to learn trench digging, to be placed side by side in the ranks with a man who, when we sought to know his civilian occupation, told us he was a buck navvy—I do not know what a doe navvy is—and I learned in the next 20 minutes that navvying, the essential service for the great modern city, is a thing that requires a very highly specialised training. You cannot select the business man and the university graduate alone. Any system that has to be logical will have to cancel itself out by giving a second vote to every person who is doing useful, reasonable work for the community.

I want to reinforce an argument that has been used many times on this side. I do not believe that a university education, or any form of education, or a business training will of itself make a man a better citizen than a man who has been brought up to deal with the more practical things of life. I believe that if you are to give a second vote to the man who sits in the principal chair in an office in the City, you ought to give a second vote to his typist. She not only puts the letters right, but my typist writes a good many of my letters for me, and the most successful ones at that, and I think the same is true of a good many business men. We are being asked here to preserve two interests that in the main vote Tory. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear!"] We all admit it. [An HON. MEMBER: "You are giving yourself away!" No, I am not. We have never imagined that they vote Labour. We have frankly said that we desire to remove from the Tory party this unfair advantage, and if there is any benefit in being honest, I hope that we have been honest all along in regard to this point. I hold that we want more and more to insist that the task of governing this country is not the task of specialist classes; it is the task and the duty of every individual citizen.

Mr. BEAUMONT indicated dissent.


I do not know from which of those two, the task or the duty, the hon. Member for Aylesbury dissents.


From both.


Then I am afraid that between us and him there is so great a gulf fixed that we have reached the stage of dogma, where nothing that we can say will convert him, and I fear that nothing that he can say will convert us, but we shall both go on gaily holding our own opinions.


I thank the hon. Member for the compliment.


I hold that the continuation of this double franchise cuts at the basis which enables us to say to every individual citizen, "You have an equal task and an equal duty"; and because I desire to see that emphasised in the future, I hope that the Clause proposed by my right hon. Friend will be added to the Bill.


The hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede), in spite of his efforts to base his support of the Clause first of all upon logic and then upon the absence of any privileges for nurses or for navvies, let the cat out of the bag in the closing sentences of his observations, when he declared that the real object of his remarks was in the interest of prohibiting the crime of voting Tory. It has been apparent on this side that from start to finish the real objection of hon. Members opposite to the university franchise being exercised in addition to the ordinary franchise which members of universities may have was that they had been guilty of the atrocious crime heretofore of voting in the majority on behalf of the party that is opposed to hon. Members opposite. That admission, of course, is an expression of the conviction of hon. Members opposite that by no process that could be contemplated in the immediate future are intellect and intelligence ever going to be converted to Socialism, because whatever hon. Members may succeed in doing in deceiving themselves, they must allow me to say that if the universities were at this moment voting 100 per cent. Socialism, they would certainly not discover that logic is any objection to allowing the universities to continue to have the vote. We have not found hon. Members opposite so loyal to their theories that they would be prepared to disfranchise constituencies of which they will be in sore need at the next election, but just because, as the hon. Gentleman has said, these university members dare to vote Tory, they are the objects of the bitterness of hon. Members opposite.

The hon. Member for Central Leeds (Mr. Denman) said that his objection to the university vote was that the interests of the working classes were not properly represented at the present time or, as he put it, that the working classes have the weights very much against them at the present time. The hon. Member must live in some state of splendid isolation and detachment in those northern counties to which I think he belongs, if he really thinks that the working classes in this country have not an adequate or a proper power in the settlement of the affairs of this nation, because the fact that the working classes in the electorate are in a vast majority, so far as numbers are concerned, is patent to everybody, and surely hon. Members opposite cannot pretend that, because the working classes, who are in a vast majority so far as numbers are concerned, dare to vote Conservative, that is any evidence that the weights are against them in the management of the affairs of this country.

Hon. Members opposite really do not allow themselves to look at this question with unprejudiced vision. Merely because the working classes, as everybody knows, vote in a very large number of cases in favour of the Conservative party is no reason at all for saying that there is any weighting of the scales against the working classes. The working classes to-day, as I have said, are in an overwhelming majority in the electorate, and if they chose, and if hon. Members opposite could only succeed in persuading them to do so, they might secure the Government of this country for the extremist form of Communism or Socialism that any country in the world enjoys, and the Super-tax payers and the so-called leisured classes would not be able to raise a finger to prevent the working classes from settling finally, by revolution or any other means, the constitution of this country. It really is not doing credit to the intelligence of hon. Members opposite, let alone of the House of Commons, to suggest that the working classes at this time of day have not a fair and equal opportunity for doing what they like with the political government of this country.

Let us therefore dispose of that argument, which is unworthy of the hon. Member and his experience of political affairs. I think I am right in saying that he occupied a position as a Member of this House for a considerable period before the War, and he must be conscious of the fact that there has been a great change in the last 20 years. Probably this country allows the working classes, as I understand he denotes the great majority of the people of this country, to have more power in the government of this country than any nation in the world, even including the pet object of hon. Members opposite, the country of Russia. The working classes are supreme, but you really cannot settle this question of the university vote by pretending that the working classes do not enjoy every single privilege to which an elector can ever be entitled.

Then the question is as to whether strict logic really requires the university vote to be abolished, because if the Clause of the right hon. Gentleman is carried, it will reduce university representation to such a state that probably it will never survive the attack which the new Clause proposes to make upon it. I venture to think that you cannot settle these questions—this must have been said so many times before that I apologise for saying it again—by the application of logic. Why, the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself told us the other day that logic could not determine the whole of the proposals in the Finance Bill for the imposition of a land tax. I recognise that there are different views on both sides of the House on the question of the way in which we ought to treat landmarks in the history of our country. Hon. Members opposite seem to think that because a thing is old, it must necessarily be bad. On this side we venture to think that because a thing is old, there is a prima facie case for retaining it until somebody has produced an argument which shows that it is bad.

Have hon. Members opposite any reason at all for depriving university representation of the advantage of the position which it has at present, except the strict ground of logic? Is there a single other ground upon which they would get rid of university representation, apart from this claptrap about the representation of the working-classes? Of course, if you are going to apply logic, it may be said that the university representation ought to be abolished altogether, or that it ought to be cut down as is done by the proposed new Clause, but that fairly represents the two views on both sides of the House. Hon. Gentlemen opposite would in many directions reduce life to one dead level of monotony. They would abolish everything that did not conform to some conventional design of geometric squares and triangles. If hon. Gentlemen opposite were to be left to rule our country by logic, we should indeed be in a position of which, I venture to think even hon. Gentlemen opposite would be ashamed.

The question is whether this university representation cannot be retained with advantage, not only to the country, but to the universities. Does it not add some dignity to the universities that they shall have a special position—I grant it is a special position—in the government of this country? Do hon. Members opposite think so little of the importance of impressing upon the great teeming population of this country the value of the cultivation of intellect and education that they cannot afford to let the universities have some special privilege which will show that they do occupy a special position in this country? Why should they not be held up as a great and an important feature in the government of this country? Of course, the only answer to it is that to which we come back in reality, that so far the universities, generally speaking, have presumed to vote for the Conservative party. I am told that in the modern universities there are indications that they may vote for the opposite parties. The hon. Member for South Shields speaks about the unfair advantage of one class. Suppose the universities voted in equal parts for the Socialist party and the Conservative party. I expect that he would admit then that there was no unfair advantage of any kind. Why should he speak of the unfair advantage of a class when both classes are getting an equal advantage or an equal benefit?


The hon. and learned Gentleman is now confusing classes with parties.


I am not confusing classes and parties at all. I am dealing with the class to which the hon. Member referred when he spoke of the unfair advantage of a class. What was the class concerned? He cannot suggest that there is only one class that goes to the universities. A hundred years ago it may have been that only the landed or propertied classes went to the universities, but now every class goes, so that the hon. Gentleman was not thinking of the class of the community, which is measured by wealth or birth. Then, when he speaks of the unfair advantage of a class, as he does not mean a class of the population measured by wealth or birth, presumably he means a class represented by the university voter, and he asks, why should this class have an unfair advantage? That seems to show that what he is thinking of is an unfair advantage based upon the fact that they are voting Conservative.


indicated dissent.


The Solicitor-General shakes his head. I am dealing with the argument of the hon. Member for South Shields when he said that he objects to the university vote because it gives an unfair advantage to a class, and I am pointing out that he must have meant by "class" the university voters.


My recollection is that I used the phrase in connection with the illustration which I took of the university graduate, who was stated by the hon. Member for the University of Wales (Mr. Evans) to be concerned with the social service of education, and of the nurse who is concerned with the social service of nursing.


That is exactly what I am pointing out to the hon. Member, that when he alludes to a class, he is talking about the university voter as contrasted, for instance, with the nurse or the navvy. Then he said that the class of university voter has an unfair advantage. Suppose the university voters voted in equal parts for all political parties, what is the unfair advantage which that class has?


The second vote.


The Solicitor-General says that they would have an unfair advantage because they have a second vote. It is rather difficult to see how they get an unfair advantage if they vote in equal parts for all political parties.


My interruptions meant that the graduates would have two votes as against all other voters in the country. Other people, such as myself, would have only one vote.


The Solicitor-General says it is an unfair advantage to have two votes. It may be an advantage, but he begs the question when he says that it is an unfair advantage. I want to ask him why it is an unfair advantage for a man to have a second vote. Take his case, for instance. He stands for a constituency which has something like 47,000 voters. I stand for a constituency which has 57,000; other Members represent constituencies with 25,000 or 30,000 voters, and some constituencies have as many as 75,000. Is it an unfair advantage that the man who is one out of 35,000 should exercise proportionately a greater power than the man who is one out of 75,000? Of course he has an advantage, but the question is, is it an unfair advantage? The answer to it is that if, in settling the constitution of a great democracy, you confine yourself to logic, you undertake an impossible task, and you probably produce ridiculous consequences. You probably also eliminate a great many advantages in the political system which do not depend upon logic for their attractiveness or usefulness. That is really the point of view from which hon. Members opposite ought to approach this question of the university vote.

Let us get rid of the idea of the supposed disadvantage to the working class, which I have tried to show is not in question here. Let us get rid of any idea of logic. [Laughter.] I am not the least ashamed to say that, because any student of our constitution, and indeed of the proposals of the Socialist party, could point to a hundred cases in which logic is not the rule; and anybody who attempted, as hon. Members will admit if they are honest, to rule his life by logic, would make a hell of his home, as they would make a hell of this House. So I say, if you get rid of some supposed disadvantage to the working class, and get rid of the idea that you can settle this question by logic, it comes down to the question whether or not you confer a great benefit upon education, as well as preserve an attractive feature of our constitution, by allowing the universities still to retain some advantage. I will concede that point to the Solicitor-General. On this side of the House we stoutly contest the suggestion that, because it is an advantage, it is necessarily an unfair advantage. The Prime Minister holds an advantage over all other politicians because he gets in the public Press such greater prominence to his utterances. The heresies which he utters from time to time receive an advertisement which my sounder and more sensible convictions cannot command. He enjoys a considerable advantage over me. I do not suggest that it is an unfair advantage; and when the Socialist party succeed in reducing life to a dead level of monotony, I suppose that the logic of equality upon which every Socialist will insist, will require an equal length in the public newspapers to be given to everybody who makes a political speech. Otherwise, where is your Socialism?

Hon. Members opposite will do credit to themselves and to their party if they will try to face this question as honestly as, I am sure, some of them are doing, and let them consider whether or not it may be an advantage both to the community and to the cause of education if this privilege, this advantage, is retained unimpaired by the university voters. The hon. Member for South Shields referred to "One man, one vote." Of course, it is a device for preventing the operation of the hon. Member's intelligence that he should try to govern his fate by catch words and slogans of that sort. If hon. Members will deliver themselves from the tyranny of ideas couched in phrases, I venture to think that they will come to the conclusion with us on this side of the House that the university franchise, on the whole, does credit to the country which recognises that education and intelligence should still have an advantage, even in a Socialist community.


I do not propose to touch on the question of university representation, but on that of the plural vote. Here I find myself in a good deal of agreement with the hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede), and in what I have to say I hope to be able to show him that he and I will be able to meet on common ground. What are the arguments which are used for the proposal to abolish the plural vote? They are summed up in catch phrases such as "One man, one vote," "One vote, one value," "Democratic control of the people," and so on. They are based on the assumption that, in arranging for the representation of the people, everybody should be regarded as having an equal value in regard to the judgement he exercises, quite independent of his intelligence, education, or responsibility. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for Darwen (Sir H. Samuel) said on this question that we are not counting heads, but the brains behind the heads. That is the purest nonsense. Anybody who has had anything to do with the instruction of youth or undergraduates, knows perfectly well that if there be one thing that is certain, it is that there is no equality of brain and that you practically never find two people of equal intelligence or equal gifts. Given two men, you are certain to find inequality. This case for equality is given away completely, when you cannot carry it out to its logical conclusion.

To illustrate what I mean, I am compelled to take three extreme cases. I will refer first to the unfortunate individual who is in a lunatic asylum, who, of course, has no vote; to criminals in gaol, who also have no vote; and, thirdly, to the age limit for voters. Dealing first with the person who is in a lunatic asylum, is it not a matter of absolute certainty that the line which divides the person who can be certified to be of unsound mind to such a degree as to be put into an asylum from the person who is just on the other side of that line is an exceedingly difficult line to draw? In fact, it cannot be done. Everybody knows that there are people in lunatic asylums whose judgment on matters of politics and many other subjects is extraordinarily sound. These poor creatures are confined in the asylum because they are either a danger to themselves or to the community, and although they may have a sound judgment in political matters we refuse them the right to vote; but we give the vote to the village idiot.


We give it to senior wranglers.


I was not one myself. My point is that we draw a line of intelligence there. Where should we stop drawing that line? Should we not go further? Why should we give the village idiot, who may be just on the border of being certified, a vote, and withhold it from the man who has been certified? Take the case of the criminal class. One criminal happens to be in gaol at the time of an election and is not allowed to vote, but another criminal, who may also have been in gaol, but is outside at the moment of the election, is allowed to vote. There is no equality there. We do not get, and we cannot get, equality. Then, take the question of age. To be entitled to vote a person must be 21 years of age or upwards. Why 21? Why not 20 or 19? Where are we going to draw the line? Is it not a matter of common experience that a young man under 21 may have a much sounder judgment, greater ability and more common sense than a young man who happens to be over 21? I shall be told, I suppose, that there must be a dividing line somewhere, and that the present one works fairly well, but I maintain that by these limitations hon. Members opposite give away the whole of their case when they are talking about equality of votes, "One man one vote," and "One vote one value." There is no equality, and it is no good pretending there is. In any scheme of electoral reform we ought to proceed in the opposite direction, instead of trying to get a dead level of equality. Instead of having this dead level of "One vote one value" and so on we ought to move beyond it. I would go with the hon. Member for South Shields in what he said about the class of women to whom he referred. I would give them an additional vote. I do not say that we can ever get a perfect system, but we could get a fairly reasonable system, based on something to do with intelligence, education and responsibility. We shall never get a perfect system, and it is not for me to suggest one, but I feel that we are going away from a reasonable system and towards a system which is worse, which is illogical and unsound.

As regards the question of complete democratic control, I think that was exhaustively and finally dealt with by the Noble Lord the senior Member for Oxford University (Lord H. Cecil) in the earlier stages of this Bill. He showed conclusively, beyond any possibility of doubt or argument, that we shall never by any such system as we have in this country get what hon. Members opposite are pleased to call "complete democratic control." I advise hon. Members who have forgotten his speech or who did not hear it, to read it, and to give it their serious attention. They will be convinced that, in the matter of securing complete democratic control, there is nothing to be gained by any system of this kind.

What is the truth about the whole matter? The hon. Member for South Shields has given it away. He said quite clearly that he and his friends felt that the present voting system was in favour of the party that sits on these benches, and that they were going to change the system in order to adjust that inequality or that injustice. That is a barefaced thing to admit in this House—that legislation is brought in which is admittedly party legislation. I do not know whether it can be held that it is wrong to do so, but I should imagine that it is—to introduce and support a Bill simply because it is going to injure this side and help the other side.

There is another point. In the past we have had the slogan "No taxation without representation.' We are moving now towards a more dangerous position; we are getting representation without either taxation or responsibility. We are getting representation by people who do nothing for themselves or for the country. We are educating a certain part of the community in the idea that they have no need to work, that it is not necessary for them to show any initiative or resource, or to attempt to do anything for the good of the community, but that they may sit at home in idleness and that their wants will be supplied, and at the same time they can exercise their votes. I do not say we have got to that position yet, but I say that we are educating a certain portion of the community towards that idea, and it is a very dangerous idea. We are also encouraging them to talk in the most ridiculous way about depending upon the State. What on earth is the State? They seem to consider that the State is some amorphous body with an inexhaustible purse from which inexhaustible supplies of money for their necessities can be drawn. The State consists of their fellow men and women, and the persons from whom they are drawing the necessities for which, through misfortune, they have to come to the State, have to provide those necessities by their hard work and their brains. [Interruption.] Mr. Speaker will deal with me if I am out of order.

I was arguing that the present tendency of electoral reform in giving representation without taxation is a great danger to the community. I will finish my remarks by urging hon. Members to consider the case of my native country, Australia. Things have moved a little more rapidly there. It is only a question of degree. The resources and the reserves of that country are not anything like the resources and reserves of this great country. We are living on our reserves in that we are encouraging people to vote who have not any responsibility, and who exercise their vote in order to get more and more. I say there is a danger in that position—not that we have reached it yet. The danger has been reached in Australia, and if we look at the state of affairs there we shall see one of the inevitable results that follows reforms of this nature carried to their logical conclusion.


I have a question to ask the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department about an Amendment which is on the Paper stating that though a person may have his or her name on the electoral roll in more than one constituency, he or she may not vote in more than one constituency. Assuming that that Amendment becomes law, I want to know what is to prevent such a person from voting in the two constituencies. In order to secure the conviction of a person who contravenes the law in that way, that person much be caught red-handed at the time of voting. It would not be sufficient to say that his votes had been recorded, because someone else may have recorded the vote on his behalf. He must be caught red-handed to secure a conviction. That Amendment will not be workable in practice. We have had in Glasgow what was obviously illegal voting. There are 15 seats in Glasgow. A man with a business vote may vote in respect of his residence in one part of the city and vote for his business in another constituency. His wife is only allowed to vote for one particular constituency, but her name may appear on the roll in two, and what, in fact, does happen is that frequently the wife votes in both places, and nothing can be done about it. If people want to vote in that way so long as we allow their names to remain on the register it will be ineffective to try to stop them. I want to ask the Under-Secretary what steps will be taken to see that a person who appears on the roll in two places does not vote more than once.

7.0 p.m.

I welcome back to the House the hon. and learned Gentleman the Attorney-General in the late Conservative Government for this reason if for no other, that he adds to the Conservative party a power in which I have felt they have been lacking during his absence. He has a certain Scottish capacity for arguing an illogical case in a fairly logical fashion. I would say in reply to him that nobody argues that one can get complete logic. Even if this Amendment were carried, all sorts of illogical things would be going on. There would be the case of a man who has a vote in Glasgow and has a vote 30 miles away, and he can motor from one place to another to vote. The right hon. and learned Gentleman's argument to-day was beside the point. The Government are not proposing to abolish the university vote. The Government have granted the university vote, and what we have heard to-day shows the fallacy of conceding to the Conservatives what they ask. Having conceded them the university vote they are now asking for the dual vote. It shows the fallacy of making any concessions to them. The late Attorney-General said there were no grounds for it in logic, but that it was based upon historical considerations. We are not now proposing, I am sorry to say, to take away the university vote. What he is asking is that the university voter should have this university vote and, in addition, a vote for his residence and possibly a vote for his business as well. I disagree with the whole attitude that universities have added to the culture of this great country, or that they have added anything great and noble. I come from a family that, except possibly another and myself, are all associated with universities and have university degrees. I have a brother a doctor, but he has no right to have more votes than any other member of the family. He is a doctor because his mother devoted tremendous energy and sacrifice to it. If anyone should have extra votes, she should have. Hon. Members opposite say that he should have a university vote and, because he lives in one part of Glasgow, he should have a vote there, another vote for the district where he has an office, and a fourth vote for his panel practice outside Glasgow, so that altogether he has four votes against the one vote of a brother who is an engineer and attended a technical college. Just because he is the youngest of the family he is to have four times the votes of the rest of the family. Just because he is younger than the rest and had a self-sacrificing mother, he is to have four times the votes of a man with a different type of mother.

I see all manner of illogicalities in this proposal and, although I am afraid that this country is very illogical, I would point out that the right hon. Gentleman opposite has got to defend this proposition. We are revising the voting power of this country, and propose that certain people should no longer have a right to more than one vote. What the right hon. Gentleman has got to prove is that that section of the community has added culture to this country, and has made it better. He has not attempted to prove that. If he had, there might have been some case for giving them an extra vote, but even that would bring him up against this position. He might argue that certain members of universities may have added culture to this country, or that some of them, even leaders of his own party like Lord Shaftesbury, have added to the humanitarianism of this country, but he must argue then that, not as individuals, but as a class they are entitled to it. This is class privilege. He must argue, not that certain members of universities have done it, but that as a class they have done it. They as a class have not contributed any more in ennoblement, culture and capacity than any other class. Indeed, if anything, they have added the worst forms of reaction.

I listened to the hon. Member for the Welsh University (Mr. Evans) arguing that they have devoted their interests towards education. I have never seen, in the nine years I have been in this House, a university Member interested in education in the broadest sense. This seems to be an impertinent demand. The universities in this country are perhaps the only educational institutions with which the Government have no right to interfere. They are self-contained and, although the Government give them grants of money, they have no right to interfere in the spending of them. Yet they, who say that the manual or industrial worker has no right to interfere in their universities, claim special rights to interfere with other people's affairs. It may be said that we are actuated by class motives. But what about the business people and university people who vote Tory? That is why we intend to take this vote away. [Interruption.] The right hon. Member sat in the last House and almost every one of his colleagues supported a Motion to deprive the recipients of Poor Law relief of their vote in local elections. Nine-tenths of the Conservative party urged that that should be done. It was not numbers that stopped it, but it was one or two men belonging to their own party who killed it, including the hon. Member now sitting as an independent Member for Exeter (Sir R. Newman). All the Conservative party speakers would have deprived Poor Law recipients of the right to vote at local elections.


The hon. Member says that all our speakers voted for it, but the fact is that we did not do it. It shows the intelligence and the great care we in our party took in these matters.


It was not because of intelligence; it was because they would not do it just before a General Election, as that would have meant that they were finished at the General Election. There has got to be a case made out here for dual voting, that they, as a class have contributed more than any other section of the community and have contributed some great and ennobling ideas. It may be urged that they have greater responsibilities, but, in my view, their responsibilities are in many respects far less than those of some other sections of the community. Therefore, they are not entitled to any second vote, and, the university franchise should be entirely abolished. I am blaming the Government in this respect. The Government made their attempt to deal with it. I am sorry it has not been abolished. As regards the dual vote, it is sheer impertinence on the part of the universities, who have been given the right to vote, now to come along with this. They have the impertinence to think that they are superior, that the education they have got from a university gives them a superior status and a superior right. They think we are the inferior portion of the community, and that they are entitled to better wages and hours. Whenever university people enter into the arena of competition, they think they are entitled by nature to payment for holidays and to remuneration on a higher scale than other men. I only hope that the Labour movement here, looking over past years when a great section of the universities has been constantly used as the weapon and means to depress the standards of the working class and not to raise them, will not only see that the plural vote is abolished, but that the special privilege of the universities is also abolished.


The only reply I shall make to the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan) is that, on rising he said he was only going to ask a short question of the Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, and this led us immediately to the soap-box, an attitude in which I admire the hon. Member, for there is no brain in this House—[Interruption.] The hon. Member devoted his speech to hurling insults at the universities with which I happen to be closely associated, and in which I take considerable pride. I was going to pay a compliment to the hon. Member, when I was interrupted, by saying that there is no brain in the House so receptive of new ideas when he rises to his feet. We are always glad to see him rise, because we know there is no more ready speaker in an extempore way. I am sorry if I have disappointed the House in not hurling insults back at the hon. Member, I was only repaying him for the compliment he paid to the ex-Attorney-General. He asked why the youngest member of a family of four, who happened to have had the opportunity of going to the university should get four times as much voting power as other members of the family. That reminds me particularly of the whole philosophy that is behind the Alternative Vote, which is that the baby, the candidate who comes in fourth in the election, is going to be given four times in the hon. Member's own language, twice in mine, the value in votes of the others.


The hon. Member's remarks are addressed to me, but they have no reference to me. I was one of those who voted against the Alternative Vote.


I am not addressing my remarks to the hon. Member personally, because we appreciate his sincerity on that point. That is a typical example of the arguments of hon. Members opposite, that the youngest with a university degree is superior to the others, and that is a principle which is at the very bottom of the reason why we have this Bill in the House this evening. I want to take up another point, which may have been a slip of the tongue in the speech of the hon. Member, when he said that it was a concession on the part of the Government to leave the universities their vote. Has it ever been regarded as a concession in this House when, in a direct and free vote of the House, the Government are defeated and are obliged to stick by the free vote of the House? This is the first time in my short Parliametnary career that I have ever know that regarded as a concession. I would only ask him, when he reviews his extempore speech to-morrow, to consider whether that point might not need correction?

I turn to the argument of the hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede), who asked why a business man should have two votes for his property qualifications, when the navvy who digs the sewer, which is the most important work in taking away what is most unpleasant in the city, docs not get two votes? That is an important point and has been a feature of our Debates this afternoon. That navvy has got representation in a double form by being enabled, in the first place, to vote for his trade union and then having that vocational representation which is in this House in such a striking degree.


Does not the business man also frequently get a vote a second time when some candidate is supported by some trade federation of which he is a member?


It is the first time I have heard of that principle being represented in this House, but it is certainly not the first time I have heard a trade union member being represented in a vocational way in the House. It is one of the striking features in this House and of the party opposite. I would like to take up the point raised by the hon. Member for Walsall (Mr. McShane), who asked why a business man who lives in one constituency and has works in another should have two votes, while a workman who works in one constituency and lives in another cannot have two votes? My reply is that the working man gets his chance by voting for the trade union candidate, and thereby gets additional representation in this House. A good many other points have been repeated, but I will not go over the same ground again.

With regard to the case of the navvy working on a sewer, is it not likely that the man who designed the sewer is a more important person than the navvy The navvy would not be able to work at all but for the work done by a competent engineer. Probably the engineer was educated at one of those universities with which we are now dealing. Therefore, is it not fair to say that, if the navvy is entitled to double representation for vocational and territorial reasons, the engineer who designs the sewers should be allowed a double representation through the university and through the locality in which he lives?

An hon. Member opposite has told us that the boast of the Conservative party is that "what is, is right." If I had time I could take the House through a review of English history showing the present position of the statement that "what is, is right." I propose to do it shortly in order to enlighten the hon. Member opposite. We believe that the whole basis of representation in this House is on an historical basis, that is, on a mixture of vocational and the territorial. The locality was perhaps the first stage of representation, and it was succeeded very rapidly by the vocational basis under the Tudors—


The Stuarts!


Yes, the Stuarts introduced representation for the commercial element. I thank my hon. Friend for his correction. It is quite right that the Stuarts produced the university vote, but I think the Tudors introduced commercial representation. Gradually those monarchs found that it was necessary to balance the aristocratic element which was becoming too strong for the commercial element. To-day, we find it necessary to balance the working-class element, which is becoming too strong, by restoring the aristocratic element to its former position. I know that argument can easily he misconstrued, but I can sincerely say that to-day the working classes receive all the representation they need in comparison with the other classes, and, if we wish to preserve the same balance as was preserved in English history I think it is only reasonable that we should retain those features of vocational representation which have made our representative institutions what they are.

I do not think that we have come to the time for deciding what shall be the future of this Parliament. The other night, while burning the midnight oil, I looked up the Debates of 1906, 25 years ago, and the result was that I found very little novelty in any of the proposals which the Government are now putting forward. They are not dealing with the future of our Parliament in the way they ought to do. I think there is a general feeling that the vocational element must be represented in our legislature whether it is represented in a bicameral way or not. The Solicitor-General has a great future before him, and, if he desires to take any part in the architecture of our institutions, I ask him to see that the vocational element is balanced. The Government have tackled this matter without vision and have just given us a rehash or crambe repetita instead of legislating for the future. For these reasons, I oppose the new Clause introduced by the Home Secretary.


As the hour is late I have only a very few remarks to make. I think the conduct of the Government on this question is most astonishing. They have proposed a new Clause which affects a most important part of a most important Bill, but the representatives of the Government have been practically absent from the House and they have said nothing. They have allowed the Debate on the Government side of the House to be carried on by irregular skirmishers, strange allies, and auxiliaries with an inferiority complex, who have been holding forth chiefly about the wrongs of the working man. Into that part of the policy of the Government, I do not intend to go because I know that it is useless to argue with Caesar, the master of many legions. Though the benches are empty while I speak, he can summon an infinite number of supporters from the Map Room, and the less dry atmosphere of the lower Smoking Room. I only wish to make one definite point. I oppose this new Clause for one fundamental and constitutional reason, and that is because I believe that there should be no taxation without representation. By this new Clause I am going to be restricted to my university vote. My main interest in the world is not my salary as a professor at Oxford, but elsewhere and by this new Clause I am going to be deprived of my power to vote where my interests lie. I am going to be restricted to my university vote, and I think that is absolutely wrong that I should be deprived of my common rights as a citizen with a domicile. Every voter ought to be able to vote in the place where his interests lie, but under this new Clause I lose this right, and that is opposite to all the true principle of representation. We are going to be deprived of our vote in the country if we utilise our university vote.

The hon. Member opposite dragged in Mr. Gladstone. I once had a good deal to do with Mr. Gladstone, whom he declared to have been estranged from Oxford. In fact, when be visited Oxford I was the junior fellow in whose charge he was placed, and I can assure the hon. Member opposite that Mr. Gladstone was in his old age as thorough a university Conservative as ever lived, and so far as his academic views were concerned he was thoroughly imbued with early Victorian ideas. When Mr. Gladstone was a young man and a speaker at the Union—as he told me—there must have been many speakers there who could not have been dressed for £20, but now, he said, they were so untidy that he did not see any boy there who could not have been dressed for £10. He was sad to see it. I give that as an example of the thorough-going Conservatism of his mentality.

Question put, "That the Clause be read a Second time."

The House divided: Ayes, 261; Noes, 225.

Division No. 252.] AYES. [7.29 p.m.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West) Harbord, A. Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter)
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Harris, Percy A. Noel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.)
Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher Hastings, Dr. Somerville Oldfield, J. R.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro') Haycock, A. W. Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston)
Alpass, J. H. Hayday, Arthur Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley)
Ammon, Charles George Hayes, John Henry Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon)
Angell, Sir Norman Henderson, W. W. (Middx., Enfield) Palin, John Henry
Arnott, John Herriotts, J. Paling, Wilfrid
Attlee, Clement Richard Hicks, Ernest George Palmer, E. T.
Ayles, Walter Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth) Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan)
Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston) Hirst, W. (Bradford, South) Perry, S. F.
Barnes, Alfred John Hoffman, P. C. Pethick-Lawrence, F. W.
Barr, James Hopkin, Daniel Phillips, Dr. Marion
Benn, Rt. Hon. Wedgwood Hore-Belisha, Leslie Picton-Turbervill, Edith
Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central) Horrabin, J. F. Pole, Major D. G.
Bennett, William (Battersea, South) Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield) Potts, John S.
Benson, G. Hunter, Dr. Joseph Price, M. P.
Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale) Isaacs, George Pybus, Percy John
Birkett, W. Norman Jenkins, Sir William Quibell, D. J. K.
Blindell, James John, William (Rhondda, West) Ramsay, T. B. Wilson
Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret Johnston, Rt. Hon. Thomas Raynes, W. R.
Bowen, J. W. Jones, Llewellyn-, F. Richards, R.
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W. Jones, Rt. Hon. Lelf (Camborne) Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)
Broad, Francis Alfred Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W. Riley, Ben (Dewsbury)
Bromfield, William Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford) Ritson, J.
Brothers, M. Kelly, W. T. Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts, Mansfield) Kennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas Romeril, H. G.
Brown, Ernest (Leith) Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M. Rosbotham, D. S. T.
Brown, W. J. (Wolverhampton, West) Kirkwood, D. Rothschild, J. de
Buchanan, G. Knight, Holford Rowson, Guy
Burgess, F. G. Lang, Gordon Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)
Buxton, C. R. (Yorks, W. R. Elland) Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George Salter, Dr. Alfred
Caine, Hall-, Derwent Lathan, G. (Sheffield, Park) Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)
Cameron, A. G. Law, Albert (Bolton) Sanders, W. S.
Cape, Thomas Law, A. (Rossendale) Sandham, E.
Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S. W.) Lawrence, Susan Sawyer, G. F.
Chater, Daniel Lawson, John James Scott, James
Church, Major A. G. Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle) Scrymgeour, E.
Clarke, J. S. Leach, W. Scurr, John
Cluse, W. S. Lee, Jennie (Lanark, Northern) Sexton, Sir James
Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R. Lees, J. Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.
Cocks, Frederick Seymour Leonard, W. Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)
Cove, William G. Lindley, Fred W. Sherwood, G. H.
Cripps, Sir Stafford Lloyd, C. Ellis Shiels, Dr. Drummond
Dangar, George Logan, David Gilbert Shillaker, J. F.
Dalton, Hugh Longbottom, A. W. Shinwell, E.
Davies, D. L. (Pontypridd) Longden, F. Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Lovat-Fraser, J. A. Simmons, C. J.
Day, Harry Lunn, William Sinclair, Sir A. (Caithness)
Denman, Hon. R. D. Macdonald, Gordon (Ince) Sinkinson, George
Dudgeon, Major C. R. MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham) Sitch, Charles H.
Duncan, Charles MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw) Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)
Ede, James Chuter Macdonald, Sir M. (Inverness) Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)
Edge, Sir William McElwee, A. Smith, Lees-, Rt. Hon. H. B. (Keighley)
Edmunds, J. E. McKinlay, A. Smith, Rennie (Penistone)
Edwards, C. (Monmouth, Bedwellty) MacLaren, Andrew Smith, W. R. (Norwich)
Edwards, E. (Morpeth) Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.) Snowden, Thomas (Accrington)
Elmley, Viscount MacNeill-Welr, L. Sorensen, R.
Foot, Isaac. McShane, John James Stamford, Thomas W.
Freeman, Peter Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton) Stephen, Campbell
Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton) Manning, E. L. Strauss, G. R.
George, Rt. Hon. D. Lloyd (Car'vn) Mansfield, W. Sullivan, J.
George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) March, S. Sutton, J. E.
George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea) Marcus, M. Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)
Gibbins, Joseph Markham, S. F. Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plaistow)
Gibson, H. M. (Lancs, Mossley) Marshall, Fred Tillett, Ben
Gill, T. H. Mathers, George Tinker, John Joseph
Glassey, A. E. Matters, L. W. Toole, Joseph
Gossling, A. G. Messer, Fred Tout, W. J.
Gould, F. Middleton, G. Townend, A. E.
Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.) Millar, J. D. Vaughan, David
Granville, E. Mills, J. E. Viant, S. P.
Gray, Milner Milner, Major J. Walkden, A. G.
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne) Montague, Frederick Walker, J.
Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) Morgan, Dr. H. B. Wallace, H. W.
Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) Morley, Ralph Watkins, F. C.
Groves, Thomas E. Morris, Rhys Hopkins Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
Grundy, Thomas W. Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.) Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.) Wellock, Wilfred
Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Mort, D. L. Welsh, James (Palsley)
Hall, Capt. W. G. (Portsmouth, C.) Muff, G. Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)
Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn) Muggeridge, H. T. West, F. R.
Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland) Murnin, Hugh Westwood, Joseph
White, H. G. Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly) Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)
Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood) Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe) Young, R. S. (Islington, North)
Whiteley, William (Blaydon) Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Wilkinson, Ellen C. Winterton, G. E. (Leicester, Loughb'gh) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Williams, David (Swansea, East) Wise, E. F. Mr. Thurtle and Mr. Charleton.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel. Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F. Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham)
Ainsworth, Lieut.-Col. Charles Dixey, A. C. Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B.
Albery, Irving James Duckworth, G. A. V. Moore, Sir Newton J. (Richmond)
Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l) Dugdale, Capt. T. L. Moore, Lieut.-Colonel T. C. R. (Ayr)
Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l., W.) Eden, Captain Anthony Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh)
Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir William (Armagh) Edmondson, Major A. J. Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester)
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S. Elliot, Major Walter E. Muirhead, A. J.
Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W. Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-S.-M.) Newton, Sir D. G. C. (Cambridge)
Aske, Sir Robert Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.) Nicholson, O. (Westminster)
Astor, Viscountess Everard, W. Lindsay Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld)
Atholl, Duchess of Falle, Sir Bertram G. O'Connor, T. J.
Atkinson, C. Ferguson, Sir John Oman, Sir Charles William C.
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley) Fermoy, Lord O'Neill, Sir H.
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Fielden, E. B. Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William
Balfour, Captain H. H. (I. of Thanet) Fison, F. G. Clavering Peake, Captain Osbert
Balniel, Lord Forestier-Walker, Sir L. Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H. Fremantle, Lieut.-Colonel Francis E. Peto, Sir Basil E. (Devon, Barnstaple)
Beaumont, M. W. Galbraith, J. F. W. Purbrick, R.
Bellairs, Commander Carlyon Ganzoni, Sir John Ramsbotham, H.
Betterton, Sir Henry B. Gault, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton Rathbone, Eleanor
Bevan, S. J. (Holborn) Gibson, C. G. (Pudsey & Otley) Rawson, Sir Cooper
Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman Gilmour, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir John Reid, David D. (County Down)
Bird, Ernest Roy Glyn, Major R. G. C. Remer, John R.
Boothby, R. J. G. Gower, Sir Robert Reynolds, Col. Sir James
Bourne, Captain Robert Croft Grace, John Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'te'y)
Bowater, Col. Sir T. Vansittart Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.) Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)
Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W. Grattan-Doyle, Sir N. Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell
Boyce, Leslie Greene, W. P. Crawford Ross, Ronald D.
Bracken, B. Grenfell, Edward C. (City of London) Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E.
Braithwaite, Major A. N. Gretton, Colonel Rt. Hon. John Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Brass, Captain Sir William Gunston, Captain D. W. Salmon, Major I.
Briscoe, Richard George Hacking, Rt. Hon. Douglas H. Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Broadbent, Colonel J. Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford) Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart
Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham) Hammersley, S. S. Sassoon, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip A. G. D.
Brown, Brig.-Gen. H. C. (Berks, Newb'y) Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Savery, S. S.
Buchan, John Hartington, Marquess of Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes) Simms, Major-General J.
Buckingham, Sir H. Haslam, Henry C. Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U., Belfst.)
Bullock, Captain Malcom Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley) Skelton, A. N.
Butler, R. A. Heneage, Lieut.-Colonel Arthur P. Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)
Butt, Sir Alfred Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J. Smith, R. W. (Aberd'n & Kinc'dine, C.)
Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward Herbert, Sir Dennis (Hertford) Smith-Carington, Neville W.
Carver, Major W. H. Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller Smithers, Waldron
Castle Stewart, Earl of Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G. Somerset, Thomas
Cautley, Sir Henry S. Howard-Bury, Colonel C. K. Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City) Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Southby, Commander A. R. J.
Cazalet, Captain Victor A. Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Ayimer Spender-Clay, Colonel H.
Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.) Hurd, Percy A. Stanley, Lord (Fylde)
Chadwick, Capt. Sir Robert Burton Hurst, Sir Gerald B. Stanley, Hon. O. (Westmorland)
Chamberlain, Rt. Hn. Sir J. A. (Birm., W.) Inskip, Sir Thomas Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston) Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton) Sueter, Rear-Admiral M. F.
Christie, J. A. Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Thomas, Major L. B. (King's Norton)
Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston Spencer Kindersley, Major G. M. Thompson, Luke
Clydesdale, Marquess of Knox, Sir Alfred Thomson, Sir F.
Cobb, Sir Cyril Lamb, Sir J. Q. Thomson, Mitchell-, Rt. Hon. Sir W.
Cockerill, Brig.-General Sir George Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R. Tinne, J. A.
Cohen, Major J. Brunel Latham, H. P. (Scarboro' & Whitby) Train, J.
Colfox, Major William Philip Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak) Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement
Colman, N. C. D. Leigh, Sir John (Clapham) Turton, Robert Hugh
Colville, Major D. J. Leighton, Major B. E. P. Vaughan-Morgan, Sir Kenyon
Conway, Sir W. Martin Lewis, Oswald (Colchester) Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert
Courtauld, Major J. S. Little, Graham-, Sir Ernest Warrender, Sir Victor
Courthope, Colonel Sir G. L. Llewellin, Major J. J. Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Cowan, D. M. Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey Wells, Sydney R.
Cranborne, Viscount Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (Handsw'th) Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
Crichton-Stuart, Lord C. Long, Major Hon. Eric Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)
Crockshank, Capt. H. C. Lymington, Viscount Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Culverwell. C. T. (Bristol, West) Macdonald, Capt. P. D. (I. of W.) Withers, Sir John James
Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Macquisten, F. A. Wolmer, Rt. Hon. Viscount
Dalkeith, Earl of Maitland, A. (Kent, Faversham) Womersley, W. J.
Dairymple-White, Lt.-Col. Sir Godfrey Makins, Brigadier-General E. Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford) Margesson, Captain H. D. Wright, Brig.-Gen. W. D. (Tavist'k)
Davies, Dr. Vernon Marjoribanks, Edward Young, Rt. Hon. Sir Hilton
Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil) Meller, R. J.
Davison, Sir W. H. (Kensington, S.) Merriman, Sir F. Boyd TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Dawson, Sir Philip Milne, Wardlaw-, J. S. Sir George Penny and Captain Wallace.
Captain BOURNE

I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed Clause, in line 4, after the word "constituency," to insert the words "by virtue of any qualification."

I need not say that this is an introductory Amendment to a later Amendment which stands in my name—In line 7, to leave out from the word "person" to the end of the Clause, and to insert instead thereof the words: who is entitled to be registered in respect of a residence qualification for two or more constituencies shall, on or before the fifteenth day of October in each year, specify in writing the constituency in which he or she desires to vote at any General Election, and a person shall only vote in respect of a residence qualification at any General Election in respect of the constituency so specified as aforesaid. The effect of these Amendments would be to make the new Sub-section read as follows: (1) Every person registered as a Parliamentary elector for any constituency by virtue of any qualification shall, while so registered (and, in the case of a woman, notwithstanding sex or marriage), be entitled to vote at an election of a member to serve in Parliament for that constituency, but a person who is entitled to be registered in respect of a residence qualification for two or more constituencies shall, on or before the fifteenth day of October in each year, specify in writing the constituency in which he or she desires to vote at any General Election, and a person shall only vote in respect of a residence qualification at any General Election in respect of the constituency so specified as aforesaid. I, for one, believe strongly in the advantages of the business premises vote and of the university vote, and I believe that people who are entitled to be registered in respect of these qualifications should be able to exercise their votes. Under the Bill now, as it has passed through Committee, the university vote and the business premises vote in the City of London are the only votes to which this system can apply, and, therefore, the total number of persons who would be entitled to exercise a second vote, if my Amendment were carried, would be extremely small. I do not know what is the total number of such votes, but it is not very great, and I cannot see that, in accepting this Amendment, the right hon. Gentleman would really be doing any serious violation to his principle of "One man, one vote," as that principle will henceforth apply to the greater part of the country.

There is one point in the existing law which I desire to remedy by this Amendment and which has always seemed to me to be totally anomalous. Under Subsection (1) of Section 8 of the Act of 1918, a man or woman was entitled to one vote in respect of residence and one vote in respect of another qualification, and they could only use a residential vote and one other vote, whether a university vote or a business premises vote. After all, a certain number of people now have, and will have, three qualifications under the Government's scheme as it at present stands. It might easily be that a man lives in London and has a business vote in the City and also a university qualification, and cases might arise such as that which arose at the last General Election in South Paddington, where an elector residing in the constituency would have absolutely no use for his residential vote because there was no contest; and I feel that, where a man has two qualifications, he ought to be able to choose which of them he desires to use. I have never seen the logic of saying that a person may be registered in respect of three separate qualifications but may only use two, one of which must be a special qualification which in some cases he cannot use owing to the fact that there is no election in that particular constituency. This has always seemed to me to be an indefensible anomaly.

I admit that the provision in the Act of 1918 which gave a vote in respect of other qualifications than residence was purely a compromise, but I wish to preserve the right of double voting in those constituencies where the qualification remains, and to make it perfectly clear that any elector can choose in respect of which qualifications he desires to vote. I fail to see why a man should not vote, say, in the City of London and in the University of Cambridge if he so desires, and I wish to give complete liberty to the voter to choose in what constituency he shall vote. I should not be in order if I went into the general question of plural voting, since that has already been to some extent decided, but I feel that there is a very strong case in these remaining constituencies of the universities and the City of London for allowing people who are registered in those constituencies still to have two votes in addition to their residential vote, and for allowing them the right to select in respect of which of their qualifications and in which constituencies they will give their votes.


I beg to second the Amendment.

As my hon. and gallant Friend has said, it would be out of order now to go into the whole question of plural voting, but the object of this Amendment is to allow university voters a second choice. I do not know exactly what would happen if the Bill should pass into law as it stands at present, because the voter who is on a university register, and who has also a residence qualification on some other register, will have to choose which of these qualifications he will exercise, and it may well be that the majority of electors will prefer to vote in the constituencies in which they reside. In that case the result will be that a very small number of people will vote at university elections. After all, what we are asking is not a very big thing. I believe that the total number of votes covered by the Clause only amounts to some 250,000, and this university franchise amounts to very much less than that. The House has decided to retain the university constituencies. I dare say that decision came rather as a shock to the Government. Nevertheless, the House did so decide and the Government have accepted the decision. Having accepted it, what we are asking is that the Government should make it real by retaining those constituencies as a force and as numerous as they are now, in order that the Members whom they return may be backed by a proper and sufficient number of electors.

I do not think any of us can say how many voters would vote at the university and how many in their own constituencies. There might be very few voting for the university constituencies, and that might reduce university representation in many ways to a farce. The House, by deciding to include university representation, obviously did not intend that it should be reduced to a farce, and, therefore, we are asking that those provisions shall be left as they are and that, in the case of the universities and the City of London, a voter may be able to vote in his own constituency as well. I do not think anyone opposite can object very much to the Amendment. We were told, during the discussion of the original Clause, by the hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) that the real objection they had to the double vote was that so many double voters were Tories. I think I remember Mr. Saklatvala saying, to the amusement of the last House, that the whole cat had now jumped out of the bag. The hon. Member for South Shields certainly let the whole cat out of the bag. I think the Government should take a better view on this small Amendment than they did on the last. It is not a great thing that we are asking. We are merely asking that these university constituencies shall be left as they are, and indeed the House desired that they should be left about a month ago.


This Amendment is not quite so harmless as the hon. and gallant Gentleman and the Noble Lord would have us believe. It might appear at first sight that it merely deals with a matter which has already been discussed for some three and three-quarter hours—plural voting within the ambit of the Bill as it came from the Committee. As a matter of fact, it vastly extends the existing system of plural voting, because it enables a person who has a residence in two different constituencies to vote in respect of each of them. The Amendment, even if it did not suffer from that very great vice, which makes it impossible for us to accept it, so far as it does anything else, only raises again the question which has already been so fully debated as regards the plural vote for business premises and the university. I am sure I should not be acting in accordance with the wishes of the House if I attempted again to go through the arguments which have been put forward. For the reasons I have given, it is impossible to accept the Amendment.


I am not a lawyer, but I am surprised at the legal decision which the Solicitor-General has given. I notice that there is not a single lawyer in the House who stands by him on the subject. I have no doubt that, being rather young and inexperienced, he has been given the rather unpleasant task in the dinner hour to get up and make a statement on a point of law at a time when Members of his profession may be largely absent. I do not think he really-believed that this very harmless and innocent Amendment would enable us to have a vote for two residences, because the Bill is governed by earlier Acts. You cannot vote for two residences now, and there is nothing in the Bill that I can see to alter that position.


The new Clause that we are discussing is to be substituted for Section 8 (1) of the principal Act.


But does the principal Act enable you to have a vote for two residences? I do not think it does. I am expressing that as an opinion, and my opinion is probably as accurate as that of the hon. and learned Gentleman. It is a very long time, as far as I remember, since we have been able to vote for two different residences. Double representation, as far as two residences are concerned, was taken away very long before 1928, and the 1928 Act does not apply. The hon. and learned Gentleman will have to continue his law researches before he answers the point.


May I try to make it clear to the hon. Member? The position is that Section 8 (1) of the Act of 1918, as amended and re-enacted by Section 4 of the Act of 1928, is the Section which restricted the vote to one residence and to one business qualification or other. That Section of the Act of 1918 is to disappear and there is to be substituted for it a new Clause, and, if this Amendment were accepted, the new Clause as amended would take the place of the Section of the Act and there would be nothing to prevent plural voting except this Clause.


I am glad the hon. and learned Gentleman has been able to pursue his study of the matter a little further but I am still not at all certain that he is right. It is merely a matter of legal opinion, and you can always get that on both sides. For practical purposes he has washed out his own argument already.

8.0 p.m.

Let me consider the Amendment from another point of view. The hon. and learned Gentleman accused my hon. and gallant Friend and the Noble Lord of being rather too innocent in this matter. I do not think they are. I think they made a very frank statement of the position they wish to attain. The House has declared in favour of university seats and the Government have accepted the position. The Government have learnt that the House is right when it votes freely, as it did on that occasion. What we wish to secure by these Amendments is that the university franchise, which is already not very large, shall not be reduced to an absolutely impossible position. We wish to have a steady and growing block of people voting in the universities. Suppose a miner in South Wales has qualified for a vote for a university. Why should he be deprived of the power which he ought to have of voting for a university Member in addition to voting in the constituency in which he resides? Hon. Members opposite know that, when you have education driven into all sections of the community, the people who now vote blindly for them will change their minds. I want to see more of them obtaining this university qualification and I want to see their two votes preserved for them. They ought to be able to take these two parts in the national life. I do not wish to narrow it. The Amendment is thoroughly sound. I believe the Home Secretary himself, if he were only free to decide, would not deal with a matter of this sort in a small and petty way. The Amendment is giving nothing to these people. It merely refrains from taking something from them.


I oppose the Amendment. The Mover and Seconder of the Amendment made it clear that they wanted an extension of plural voting to be given to university voters, and the hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams) endeavoured to argue that people ought to be given a chance of giving two votes. He spoke about the Welsh miner.


He is as much entitled as anyone else.


A strong argument was put forward that we ought to have a certain number of people in the House of Commons who come from universities because of their special learning. If a person has a university vote, let him exercise it either in the university or in the constituency. If he believes that it is more important to have a man from the university than it is to have one from his own constituency, there is nothing to prevent him from giving his single vote where he thinks that it ought to be given. The hon. Member for Torquay apparently desires a person to be allowed to exercise a vote in his constituency and also to exercise another vote at his university. That is directly opposed to what we have already decided. We have just decided against plural voting. The House has taken a decision that in this country in the future it shall be, one man, one vote, and, one woman, one vote, and no more. It would be asking the House to go back upon what it has already decided.


It is the business vote as well.


Surely hon. Members are not going to go back now that they have given a decision. The Noble Lord said that it was only a small matter, but I can assure him that there is a big principle underlying it. I do not see how the Government could defend themselves if they gave way along the lines suggested by hon. Members opposite. I will be candid upon this matter. In the past, plural votes have always been cast for the Conservatives. I have never liked that, because I think that they have no right to have such a privilege, but that fact has had some influence with me. One would not have been so keen about this matter if the plural vote had been exercised in a manner different from the way in which it has been exercised. We cannot turn back upon what we have done. We are out for one man, one vote, believing that everybody in this country should have equal electoral rights. I hope that the Home Secretary will stand by the original decision.


I did not intend to take part in the discussion upon this Amendment, and should not have done so were it not for the speech of the hon. Gentleman the Member for Leigh (Mr. Tinker). He put what he thought was the case quite clearly, but he ought to see the point of view of the other side as well. The hon. Gentleman said that the House had decided that there should be no plural voting. That is quite true, but the House has also decided—the hon. Member seems to have forgotten it, and the learned Solicitor-General seems to have forgotten it also—another very important thing. It has decided to discard the views originally put forward by the Government in regard to university representation. In other words, by a free vote, which, I think, should weigh with hon. Members on both sides, the House has decided not to accept the views of the Government on the subject of university representation. Having so decided, the House, in fairness, should accept all the implications that that carries with it. That is the point.

What are the implications which the continuance of the university vote carries? I make a present of this fact to hon. Members opposite. They may use it against us in the course of Debate. It is notorious that men who have had the vote for university candidates have always voted in their own constituencies also, and, perhaps, in some constituencies, have attached more importance to it than in voting for the university candidate. That is a fact which we may accept, but so long as you have the university vote you ought to give the same rights as were possessed before, namely, of voting in the constituency in which they live, and of voting in their university constituency as well. If you do not do that, the result will be that you will largely reduce the number of people who will vote in the university constituency. Hon. Gentlemen opposite may say that that is an argument for abolishing university constituencies. It may be, but the point is, that the House has decided to continue the university constituencies. Having done so, it is only fair and honest that the House should accept the implications which that decision carries.

It may be that the Amendment of my hon. Friend and of my Noble Friend goes further than they intended, and I say frankly that I am inclined to agree with the Solicitor-General on this point. I think that the particular Amendment gives an extension of facilities for plural voting. Still it is only fair and just that university voters should possess the same rights as they had before because of the fact that the House has decided to continue the principle underlying the vote for university candidates. From that point of view, it is only a small matter. Personally, I think that if my hon. Friends can be assured that the Government will accept the next Amendment on the Paper—in line 4, after the word "constituency," to insert the words "other than a university constituency,"—we shall not wish to vote on this Amendment. The next Amendment deals with the matter more clearly. It is not right that the

House, having decided on a course of action, should proceed to whittle down the privileges of the university voter which it has decided in other respects to continue.

Question put, "That those words be there inserted."

The House divided: Ayes, 136; Noes, 242.

Division No. 253.] AYES. [8.9 p.m.
Acland-Troyte, Lieut.-Colonel Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.) Rathbone, Eleanor
Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l) Everard, W. Lindsay Rawson, Sir Cooper
Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l., W.) Falle, Sir Bertram G. Reid, David D. (County Down)
Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir William (Armagh) Fermoy, Lord Remer, John R.
Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W. Fison, F. G. Clavering Reynolds, Col. Sir James
Aske, Sir Robert Galbraith, J. F. W. Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'te'y)
Atkinson, C. Ganzoni, Sir John Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley) Gault, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E.
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Gibson. C. G. (Pudsey & Otley) Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Balniel, Lord Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.) Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart
Bevan, s. J. (Holborn) Grattan-Doyle, Sir N. Savery, S. S.
Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman Greene, W. P. Crawford Shakespeare, Geoffrey H.
Bird, Ernest Roy Gunston, Captain D. W. Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome
Boothby, R. J. G. Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford) Simms, Major-General J.
Bourne, Captain Robert Croft Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U., Belfst)
Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W. Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes) Skelton, A. N.
Boyce, Leslie Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley) Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)
Brass, Captain Sir William Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J. Smith-Carington, Neville W.
Briscoe, Richard George Herbert, Sir Dennis (Hertford) Smithers, Waldron
Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham) Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller Somerset, Thomas
Buchan, John Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Bullock, Captain Malcolm Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)
Butler, R. A. Hurd, Percy A. Southby, Commander A. R. J.
Chadwick, Capt. Sir Robert Burton Hurst, Sir Gerald B. Stanley, Hon. O. (Westmorland)
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston) Inskip, Sir Thomas Stuart, Hon. J. (Moray and Nairn)
Christie, J. A. Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton) Sueter, Rear-Admiral M. F.
Clydesdale, Marquess of Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Thompson, Luke
Cohen, Major J. Brunel Lamb, Sir J. [...] Thomson, Sir F.
Colfox, Major William Philip Latham, H. P. (Scarboro' & Whitby) Thomson, Mitchell-, Rt. Hon. Sir W.
Colville, Major D. J. Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak) Tinne, J. A.
Conway, Sir W. Martin Lewis, Oswald (Colchester) Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Courtauld, Major J. S. Little, Graham-, Sir Ernest Train, J.
Cowan, D. M. Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey Turton, Robert Hugh
Crichton-Stuart, Lord C. Locker-Lampson, Com. O. (Handsw'th) Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert
Cranborne, Viscount Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I. Warrender, Sir Victor
Crookshank, Capt. H. C. Makins, Brigadier-General E. Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West) Merriman, Sir F. Boyd Wells, Sydney R.
Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford) Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham) Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay).
Davies, Dr. Vernon Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B. Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)
Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil) Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh) Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Dawson, Sir Philip Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester) Withers, Sir John James
Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F. O'Connor, T. J. Wright, Brig.-Gen. W. D. (Tavist'k)
Eden, Captain Anthony Oman, Sir Charles William C.
Edmondson, Major A. J. Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Elliot, Major Walter E. Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings) Sir George Penny and Captain
England, Colonel A. Pybus, Percy John Wallace.
Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s. M.) Ramsbotham, H.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West) Blindell, James Charleton, H. C.
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret Chater, Daniel
Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher Bowen, J. W. Church, Major A. G.
Alpass, J. H. Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W. Clarke, J. S.
Ammon, Charles George Broad, Francis Alfred Cluse, W. S.
Angell, Sir Norman Bromfield, William Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R.
Arnott, John Brothers, M. Cocks, Frederick Seymour
Ayles, Walter Brawn, C. W. E. (Notts, Mansfield) Cove, William G.
Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston) Brown Ernest (Leith) Cripps, Sir Stafford
Barnes, Alfred John Brown, W. J. (Wolverhampton, West) Daggar, George
Barr, James Buchanan, G. Dallas, George
Batey, Joseph Burgess, F. G. Dalton, Hugh
Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central) Burgin, Dr. E. L. Davies, D. L. (Pontypridd)
Bennett, William (Battersea, South) Buxton, C. R. (Yorks, W. R. Elland) Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton)
Benson, G. Caine, Hall-, Derwent Denman, Hon. R. D.
Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale) Cameron, A. G. Dudgeon, Major C. R.
Birkett, W. Norman Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S. W.) Duncan, Charles
Ede, James Chuter Leonard, W. Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)
Edge, Sir William Lindley, Fred W. Salter, Dr. Alfred
Edmunds, J. E. Logan, David Gilbert Samuel Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)
Edwards, E. (Morpeth) Longbottom, A. W. Sanders, W. S.
Elmley, Viscount Longden, F. Sandham, E.
Foot, Isaac Lovat-Fraser, J. A. Sawyer, G. F.
Freeman, Peter Lunn, William Scott, James
Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton) Macdonald, Gordon (Ince) Scrymgeour, E.
George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham) Scurr, John
George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea) MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw) Sexton, Sir James
Gibbins, Joseph McElwee, A. Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)
Gibson, H. M. (Lancs, Mossley) McEntee, V. L. Sherwood, G. H.
Gill, T. H. McKinlay, A. Shiels, Dr. Drummond
Glassey, A. E. MacLaren, Andrew Shillaker, J. F.
Gossling, A. G. McShane, John James Shinwell, E.
Gould, F. Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton) Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.) Manning, E. L. Simmons, C. J.
Granville, E. March, S. Sinclair, Sir A. (Caithness)
Gray, Milner Marcus, M. Sinkinson, George
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne) Markham, S. F. Sitch, Charles H.
Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) Marshall, Fred Smith, Ben (Bermondsey, Rotherhithe)
Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) Mathers, George Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)
Groves, Thomas E. Matters, L. W. Smith, Lees-, Rt. Hon. H. B. (Keighley)
Grundy, Thomas W. Messer, Fred Smith, Rennie (Penistone)
Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Middleton, G. Smith, W. R. (Norwich)
Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Millar, J. D. Snowden, Thomas (Accrington)
Hall, Capt. W. G. (Portsmouth, C.) Mills, J. E. Sorensen, R.
Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn) Milner, Major J. Stamford, Thomas W.
Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland) Montague, Frederick Stephen, Campbell
Harbord, A. Morgan, Dr. H. B. Strauss, G. R.
Harris, Percy A. Morley, Ralph Sullivan, J.
Hastings, Dr. Somerville Morris, Rhys Hopkins Sutton, J. E.
Haycock, A. W. Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.) Taylor R. A. (Lincoln)
Hayday, Arthur Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.) Thorne, W. (West Ham, Plafstow)
Hayes, John Henry Mort, D. L. Tinker, John Joseph
Herriotts, J. Muff, G. Tout, W. J.
Hicks, Ernest George Muggeridge, H. T. Townend, A. E.
Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth) Murnin, Hugh Vaughan, David
Hirst, W. (Bradford, South) Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter) Viant, S. P.
Hoffman, p. C. Noel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.) Walkden, A. G.
Hopkin, Daniel Oldfield, J. R. Walker, J.
Hore-Belisha, Leslie. Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston) Wallace, H. W.
Horrabin, J. F. Oliver, P. M. (Man., Blackley) Watkins, F. C.
Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield) Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon) Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
Hunter, Dr. Joseph Palin, John Henry Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Isaacs, George Paling, Wilfrid Wellock, Wilfred
Jenkins, Sir William Palmer, E. T. Welsh, James (Paisley)
John, William (Rhondda, West) Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan) Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)
Jones, Llewellyn-, F. Perry, S. F. West, F. R.
Jones, Rt. Hon. Lelf (Camborne) Pethick- Lawrence, F. W. Westwood, Joseph
Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W. Phillips, Dr. Marion White, H. G.
Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford) Picton-Turbervill, Edith Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)
Kelly, W. T. Pole, Major D. G. Whiteley, William (Blaydon)
Kennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas Potts, John S. Wilkinson, Ellen C.
Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M. Quibell, D. J. K. Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Kirkwood, D. Ramsay, T. B. Wilson Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)
Lang, Gordon Raynes, W. R. Wilson C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George Richards, R. Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Lathan, G. (Sheffield, Park) Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring) Winterton, G. E. (Leicester, Loughb'gh)
Law, Albert (Bolton) Riley, Ben (Dewsbury) Wise, E. F.
Law, A. (Rossendale) Ritson, J. Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)
Lawrence, Susan Roberts, Rt. Hon. F. O. (W. Bromwich)
Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle) Romeril, H. G. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Leach, W. Rosbotham, D. S. T. Mr. Charles Edwards and Mr.
Lees, J. Rowson, Guy Thurtle

I beg to move, as an Amendment to the proposed Clause, in line 8, at the end, to insert the words: Save that an elector for any university constituency may vote for that constituency as well as for one other constituency. The House has now accepted the general principle of one man one vote. Inasmuch as it has also accepted the principle of university representation, this Amendment is designed to make one exception to the general principle against plural voting, in order to make really effective the exercise of the principle of University representation. If we are to have, as the House has agreed, University representation, any man would surely wish to make that representation really effective, so that the university Member should represent as large a constituency as possible and reflect the views, opinions and ideas of the largest possible number of University graduates. Unless we make an exception of this character to the general provisions of the Clause it means that we shall only have a handful of constituents in each of our Universities, because a very large number of university graduates will, naturally, prefer to vote for a candidate in the Division where they live and work, rather than to recall old days and sent a vote by post for a university candidate. Unless we adopt some such Amendment as the one that I have moved the university graduate will not have an opportunity of doing both.

I base the case for the Amendment on two grounds. In the first place, as we are having university representation it should be as effective as possible, and we ought not to ignore the enormous number of university graduates who have long since ceased to have any local connection with their university town but who are loyal Members of that university and reflect in their lives the educational advantages that have accrued to them from being at a university, and who wish to be university voters as well as local voters. Secondly, as was said by the hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede), unless we have plural voting in the case of university graduates the election of university Members of Parliament will very largely gravitate into the hands of residents. It is not a fair test to judge a university simply by its residents. The whole scheme of the universities to special representation has a very much wider character than that. Their claim is that all over the country and all over the world the deserts of the university are borne out by the careers and work of men and women who graduated there, and it would be a misfortune if the duty of voting for university Members was confined to university residents. That is the inevitable tendency if we are not going to allow plural voting in this exceptional case.

It may be said that that would offend the principle of one man one vote. University representation itself is illogical and anomalous. By having university representation we admit the anomaly, but we should make it worse and more illogical if after having opened the door for university graduates to vote for university members we insist on limiting those who are to have the vote, to a very small number. Therefore, the argument of limiting the vote on the ground of logic seems not to hold good, in view of the fact that this is an exception made in the general law of the country, not on behalf of some canon of logic but simply on the ground of national expediency and necessity, as proved by the vote of the majority of this House when Sitting in Committee. The principle of this Amendment was thrashed out on a previous Amendment, and one hopes that since then a ray of greater tolerance and greater knowledge has penetrated into the minds of those who voted against us. In that hope I move the Amendment.


I beg to second the Amendment.

In doing so, I should like to deal with a point raised by the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan), who said that having got the university franchise we are greedy and ungrateful to ask that we should have the double vote. I do not feel quite happy that someone has not said something kind to the Home Secretary in regard to this matter. I appreciate that he has, quite rightly, adopted and taken to himself the decision of the House on the last occasion, although it was open to the Government to have re-opened the matter. Personally, I wish to thank him and the Government for the attitude they are taking on behalf of the universities. I do not want to say that half a loaf is better than no bread, and I do not like to look a gift horse in the mouth, but I do thoroughly appreciate the attitude of the Government and I am very grateful to them for it. That being so, the question is, what special grounds can be shown for the university graduate being treated separately from other voters in respect of the plural vote?

I think there is something that I can put forward that has not been touched upon to-day. I would refer to what happened when the whole question of the franchise was gone into 12 or 13 years ago. On that occasion there was a very large increase in the electorate. The universities were democratised and the university seats were increased and reorganised. It was decided as part of the general scheme of the extension of the franchise that that should take place, and it has been acted upon. It seems to me that it is not very wise or prudent after such a very little time absolutely to throw such arrangement aside. If it was right then to extend the university franchise in that way, with the double vote, surely it would be wise to give it a fair trial, to allow it to go on for a bit and to see how it will work out.

It should not be altered in the interests of any particular political party. The constitution of the universities is changing; the class of persons who are going there has altered very much and will be reflected in the political views of their representatives. That, however, should not be considered. A question like this ought not to be made a party matter. Twelve years is a short time in a development of this kind and if after a proper interval of time it is found to be unfair to any particular class, I should be the first to say that it should be altered, but I do not think a sufficient trial has been given to this development to warrant us in altering it just at the moment. There is another aspect which should be considered. We are not creating a new constituency; it is already there, and that being so, does it really hurt anyone to let as many people vote there as possible. Surely, if you want to get a decision of the universities it is as well to make the electorate as wide as possible. It would be unwise to limit it simply and solely to those who want to vote in that particular place and to exercise that particular franchise.

I do not think it will have the effect which some hon. Members suspect. The numbers on the register are increasing and I believe university graduates are keen on the university franchise. I shall be astonished if we do not get at any rate from the older universities and Scottish universities exceedingly creditable polls. I shall be disappointed if they are mere negligible quantities and I should not have put so much energy into this question if I thought that was going to be the case. But assuming that only one vote is allowed, that there is no plural voting in connection with university seats, there will be an awful lot of intrigues in order to get voters in a constituency which is a safe seat to exercise their vote at the university. It would be a pity if university representation became the subject of intrigue and wire pulling. I do not suppose anything one can say will alter the views of hon. Members opposite. I have put the position in a very reasonable way, and would like again to thank the Home Secretary for his attitude on this matter.


Very unreasonable to talk about intriguing.


My point is that parties would intrigue among themselves, not against each other. I do not say there is anything improper in that, but it is not very dignified.


I acknowledge thankfully the reference of the hon. Member for Cambridge University (Sir J. Withers) to the attitude of the Government on the subject of university representation after the Committee's decision, but that decision does not diminish my regret at the reverse which the Government suffered on that subject. Indeed, it is a decision which only intensifies our desire, as far as this Bill will enable us, to lessen the privileges which still remain to university voters. The hon. and learned Member for Moss Side (Sir G. Hurst) has not concealed his desire to maintain the privileges of the university voter and in the frankest way has put in a plea for the plural voter. That is his case. One has only to read the Amendment to arouse one's hostility to it. It is that a university voter may vote for that constituency as well as for any other constituency. The hon. and learned Member wishes to make the electoral power of the university voter as effective as possible. In my judgment he is seeking to multiply inequalities, which it is our purpose to reduce as far as we can, and to wipe them out altogether. The Amendment would allow a university elector to vote for his university constituency and for one other constituency; it would allow university electors to exercise two votes in respect of different constituencies. A recital of the privileges which this Amendment would confer makes a sufficient case against it, and the Government certainly cannot accept it.


Surely the Home Secretary does not ask the House to vote against the Amendment on the ground that it will enable a voter to vote for two university constituencies in the same election? He can hardly mean that. The Amendment, as drafted, might make that possible, but the serious possibility of it occurring is hardly one which a Cabinet Minister should think it worth while to put forward as a reason for its rejection.


That is its effect.


That might be its effect, unintentionally, as it is drafted, but does the Home Secretary really think that there are a sufficient number of people who are registered graduate voters at two universities to make that a sufficient ground for rejecting the Amendment? That argument is not worth a reply. I want to ask hon. Members opposite to consider this question of the university vote, upon which I have not spoken until now, from the point of view of the dignity of this House, the good name of this country, and a reasonable efficiency in the working of our constitution. We have decided that the university vote shall remain. The Home Secretary says that this only adds to his desire to make it as ineffective as possible. My hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge University (Sir J. Withers) was, I am afraid, rather premature in his congratulations. What the Home Secretary really has done is that he has refrained from putting down a Motion to reverse the decision of the Committee, but he hopes by a side wind to render that decision nugatory; and this is the kind of action which is regarded as enhancing the prestige of Parliament in the country!


May I draw the Noble Lord's attention to the fact that in the original Bill it was proposed to disfranchise university electors and to prevent them exercising two votes. That is our attitude at this moment; we have not changed our mind.


I know that the right hon. Gentleman has not changed his mind. The Committee decided against him; why does he not ask the House to reject the opinion of the Committee? He has frankly told us that he prefers the alternative of trying, under the Clause that he is moving, to make the decision of the Committee as nugatory as possible. That is a peculiarly unworthy way to treat the decision of the Committee. I should have far more respect for the Government and the party behind them if they had frankly tried to reverse the decision of the Committee. But I ask hon. Members to consider this question of university representation in view of the fact that the Committee has made this decision and the House is not being asked to reverse it. We have been asked by the Government to say that university constituencies shall continue to exist, and in view of that fact I ask hon. Members to consider what is the way in which those constituencies ought to be treated in the interests of the nation, not in the interests of the constituency or the graduates.


By recording their votes in their constituencies.


I ask the hon. Member for Leigh (Mr. Tinker) to consider what I am going to say before hastening to reply. He and other hon. Members opposite proceed on the principle of "one man, one vote." When one uses those four words, one can always be certain of getting an absolutely automatic reaction from hon. Members opposite. It is one of the best instances of pure reflex action I have ever seen outside a laboratary. But I ask hon. Members to consider the proposition in a slightly different form—that one man should have only one representative for all purposes. Does that sound equally reasonable? Is there any hon. Member present who thinks that he represents all his constituents equally well, for the purposes of all the varieties of business that come before this House? We all know that as a matter of fact many of our constituents who vote for us would be better represented, in certain classes of business that come before this House, by someone else. I hope that that is agreed by all. There are many of my constituents who in certain matters would be very much better represented by someone else. That is obvious.

Therefore, the principle of "one man, one vote" seems to me to be rather a theoretical principle. If you admit that one man may need, for the purposes of national business, more than one kind of vote, surely you are prepared to go a step further and say that the university graduate may properly need the representation both of a university member and of a member elected by the constituency where he resides. You may, of course, say that many other people ought to have the same sort of facility, that it is a very bad thing that a member of the Miners' Federation should be forced to be represented exclusively by one of the officials of the local Miners' Federation.


There are 10,000 miners in my constituency.


The hon. Member is not a member of the Miners' Federation, so that my remarks do not apply to him; but they do apply to a great many other miners in other constituencies. It may be said that the miner may suffer from being confined merely to representation by an official of the local branch of the Miners' Federation, and very probably he does. But surely, having agreed that the university constituencies are to go on, there is nothing in principle which makes it wrong for a man who is registered as a voter of the university constituency and the man who is registered as a voter in respect of a residential qualification in another constituency, to desire to have two kinds of representation? He may need it. It is true that other people may need it quite as much. Now we come to the real difference between us. Hon. Members are quite prepared to admit a course of reasoning such as I have tried to place before them, but they say "This is privilege. Other people have not got it, and therefore you must not have it." Of course, there is an alternative. Let us think out how everyone who needs it may have a similar privilege.

Lieut.-Colonel WATTS - MORGAN

While the Noble Lord is on that theme will he answer this question? A Minister has graduated from South Wales University and comes to live in the Rhondda Valley. The Noble Lord says he is to have a vote for the Rhondda Valley and also to be able to take part in the university election. Where is the need, in such a case, for two votes?


If the hon. and gallant Member puts a case ad hominem I reply that I think the Minister might very well need a second representative besides the hon. and gallant Member for the purpose of certain classes of business. I should say the same thing of every hon. Member in this House. If the only argument against having a double vote for the universities is that it is a privilege, that there are not enough university graduates, that the same privilege should be extended to other people, that people who have strong professional interests, like members of trade unions, besides electing someone to represent their professional interest, should be able to elect someone else to represent their more national and perhaps more idealistic interests, I agree.

I ask hon. Members to approach the problem constructively and to see how it is possible to extend the privileges which at present are enjoyed only by a few, instead of trying to impoverish national life by taking away the privilege from the few who enjoy it. That is the difference between my point of view and the point of view of the hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede). We equally realise the evils and defects of our present system. I realise the inequalities, but I would rather try to widen the area of privilege for which a reasonable justification could be found than narrow it by robbing certain people of the means of making a varied contribution to the needs of the country simply because other people have not at the moment got the same opportunity.


I wish to speak on this matter, because I am a university voter. I was rather intrigued by the contribution of the Noble Lord the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy), and I wonder how much reality there is in his suggestion. I know that he has a great deal of influence at the other end of this building.


May I ask the hon. Member what he means? I was unaware of it.


Possibly some of us ascribe a little more power to the Noble Lord in that direction than he is aware of, but I think that on previous occasions the representatives of his family have shown that they count for a great deal at the other end of this building, and I do not think that the Noble Lord should feel ashamed of the fact.


I am ashamed of nothing that any relatives of mine have ever done—even that considerable number of them who have been hanged for treason—but I object to being personally identified with anything they do.


The Noble Lord is trying to make a very subtle distinction, but I am sure that he is of sufficient importance among his colleagues in this House to ensure that, if he is serious in the proposal which he has made, there will be an opportunity in another place, if this Bill gets there, for something to be done in a practical way to implement his idea. I shall watch with interest to see if from the Conservative representatives in another place proposals will come for the establishment of a number of constituencies representing the organised trade union movement of this country, and returning a number of members equal to the number at present returned by the university constituencies. If something of that kind does not happen, then I am afraid the Noble Lord will be held to have treated us rather shabbily by making that suggestion to-night.

I think that the universities and their representatives have taken up a very undignified line in connection with this matter. It has been pitiful to see the attitude adopted by those, who claim special representation in this House on the ground of the special services which they can render, by reason of the special educational opportunities which they have enjoyed. They claim this privilege on the ground that they might not be able to get into this House in any other way than by separate representation and through a university constituency. As one who has been trained at a university I have been greatly pained by the inferiority complex of my fellow graduates in this connection and their despair of ever getting into the House of Commons unless they can get in via a university constituency. I am surprised that the representative of Cambridge University and other university representatives in presenting their arguments here should take the line which they have taken.

The Government ought to have given the House an opportunity of changing its mind on this matter. The hon. Member who moved the Amendment suggested that in the number of minutes which would elapse between the different Divisions taken in connection with this matter, some hon. Members on this side might develop a sense of pity for the poor university graduates who would be in the sorry position of not being allowed two votes and thus given an advantage as compared with their fellow-citizens. In view of what has been said during the discussion, especially the speeches of the Noble Lord and those who sit behind him, I suggest that the Government ought to allow the House an opportunity of changing its mind on the question of whether there should be any university representation at all or not. Here is how the matter appears to me. I am closely associated in this House with the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Maxton), who is a university voter like myself, and with the hon. Member for Gorbals (Mr. Buchanan). We live together. Can any hon. Member give any reason why the hon. Member for Bridgeton and I should each have two votes at an election, while the hon. Member for Gorbals should only have one? You may say, after listening to one of his speeches, that he has twice the capacity of his university colleagues. That might be said with a certain amount of truth, because he has a very agile mind, though he himself would disclaim it. When we face up to the facts, however, I myself feel utterly ashamed of university graduates and representatives of universities coming here and pleading, "Please, sir, give us two votes." There is nothing to be said for such a plea.

I believe that the decision of the House in Committee was very largely the result of sentiment and a lot of unreasonable and unreasoning ideas in the minds of hon. Members. I am sorry if we are not to have an opportunity of altering that decision and dealing with the matter again on a reasonable basis. University people ought to be willing to depend upon reason, and no real reason has been given in favour of special university representation. If university people have the ability and the character, if they have what ought to have been given to them as a result of their studies in the university, then they will be able to find their way to the House of Commons in sufficiently large numbers by the ordinary methods of election. Any self-respecting body of men would scorn to get this special privilege as compared with others. There might be reasons for giving those in less fortunate circumstances special representation in this House but the people who claim that they have had the best opportunities of obtaining knowledge, should be the last to ask for such a privilege. I have intervened in this discussion to say how thoroughly ashamed I am at representatives of universities, at university graduates, putting themselves into the humiliating position of not being able to take the same position in the State as other citizens and depending upon their energy, their ability, their character to enable them to give the fullest service to the House and the country.


The speech of the hon. Member for Camlachie (Mr. Stephen) reminded me of the essay of the French schoolchild who wrote: The cat was a naughty animal and defended itself when it was attacked. He has poured contempt on university Members because they have defended themselves when they have been attacked. Before that, we had a speech from the Home Secretary, in which he was at pains to disclaim the very graceful tribute paid him by my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge University (Sir J. Withers), who thanked the Government for yielding gracefully to the declared wish of the House. The Home Secretary could not bear that tribute, and hastened to assure us that he yielded as ungraciously and in as ungenerous a spirit as possible. It was obvious, without that assurance, that the Government yielded—I think wisely, if not graciously—because they recognised, what is an unchallengeable fact, that the rebuff which they received on the question of the university vote on Clause 4 was the outcome of no chance or snatch vote, but of the deliberate will of the House. No one who knows all the history that lay behind that vote could say for a moment that it was a scratch vote, and many of the Members who voted for the retention of the university vote on that occasion did so in the face of the strongest and in some cases unscrupulous pressure brought to bear upon them.

On this, which is probably the last occasion on which one would have an opportunity of addressing the House on this subject, I wish to warn hon. Members opposite that they are making a grave mistake if, in the attack which they have made on the university vote, they are animated by the belief that they are attacking a nest of Toryism and of privilege. I remember once, on one of the very few occasions when I ever saw a horse race, thinking that the horse that was coming in second was going to win because something had gone wrong with the leading horse, but just as he was beginning to gain something went wrong either with the horse or the jockey, and it practically gave up the fight, and so lost the chance of winning.

I am speaking on this subject of something that I know and have had a better opportunity of judging than any other Member in this House, because I alone have tried the experiment, with no organisation of any kind behind me, of coming for the first time into a constituency where two-thirds of the voters were men and of running a university contest on purely non-party lines and with a thoroughly progressive programme. Therefore I know, as nobody else here can know, how ludicrously false and utterly untrue it is to suppose that the universities of to-day are repositories of class privilege and old-fashioned prejudice.

Mr. DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Sir Robert Young)

I have been waiting for a long time for the hon. Lady to come to the point of the Amendment.

9.0 p.m.


I was trying to make the point that the opposition to the Amendment was based on the whole question of the right of university members to have votes at all. Every speech that has been made has been an attack on the special privilege. I suggest that one of the disadvantages of allowing university members a choice of votes is that it puts a barrier in the way of that more independent attitude towards university representation which makes it the easier to advocate on the ground that if the university voters had two votes they could use their local vote to give expression to their party feelings and their university vote to give expression to their non-party point of view. I believe the time will come when the Labour party may have reason to regret that they have pared down as far as possible the privileges of a university voter, because in the days when they may return a majority Government they may find it no easier than in the past to fill the House with Members of the right type, and that may be one way of securing the return to Parliament of thoroughly progressive-minded men and women, who might not get into the ordinary, rather narrow party channels which lead to success in an ordinary industrial constituency.

I think that the half-loaf that we are getting is better than no bread at all, and I believe that a large proportion of university graduates will prefer to retain their university vote, but I think that the form of plural voting which we had did no harm to anybody, because the number of plural votes was too few to make a very great difference, but it tended to make university constituencies a thing by themselves and able to make a separate and differential kind of contribution towards the life of the House.


The hon. Lady the Member for the combined English Universities (Miss Rathbone) started off by telling us that university representatives were like cats to defend themselves, but I have never known a cat defend itself less cattily than the hon. Lady has defended herself this evening. I feel that the speeches of the Noble Lord the Member for Hasting" (Lord E. Percy) and of the hon. Lady were both a very long way from the real issue before us. These university graduates are having a privilege preserved for them, and they have merely to make their choice as to whether they wish to vote as citizens or as graduates. They have that choice left them, and I cannot see that they can claim anything else.

The Noble Lord drew attention to the fact that we are all very complex creatures on occasion. Even when the person who is supposed to represent us in this House is a Member of our own party—and I have never been represented in this House or on any other body but by a person of my own party—we find that on certain issues our particular representative does not really represent us. Take myself. On matters that concern State and Church, I find myself represented here by the Junior Lord of the Treasury, the hon. Member for Shore-ditch (Mr. Thurtle); on matters where my professional interest is concerned, I find myself represented by the hon. Member for Aberavon (Mr. Cove) or the hon. Member for East Islington (Mrs. Manning); and if I desire to have those particular matters brought in front of the House, this House, with 615 Members, is always sure to have within it somebody who will represent those particular points of view. The university voter, if he desires to be most closely in touch with this House as a graduate and not as a citizen, has the opportunity of making his choice and exercising it.

It was said by the Noble Lord that he supported the Amendment in the name of the dignity of the House and the good name of the country, but he did not go on to tell us in which way those two purposes were to be served by carrying the Amendment. There may have been in the past, and there may be now, certain hon. Members from the universities who added dignity to this House by their personal contributions to its Debates, but I have heard it suggested sometimes that the dignity of the House might have been better served if an hon. Member representing one or other of the universities had not intervened. University and graduate Members of this House have proved themselves to be very much human beings stirred by the same passions as the rest of us, except mathematicians. The acute mathematician never is a real human being. The Noble Lord went on to deal with the question of the trade union, and he said that the trade unionist has a double representation. Is that a fact?


I did not say anything of the kind. I only admitted that the trade unionist might require double representation as well as anyone else.


The Noble Lord might not have gone so far as the hon. Member for Saffron Walden (Mr. Butler), who suggested that because a representative of a trade union sat in this House, and a member of that trade union had a vote territorially as well, he was doubly represented. There is this difference, however, that the trade union representatives have to go to a territorial constituency and secure adhesion to his cause of a certain number of people who are attached to him on a territorial basis, whereas the university graduate has preserved for him a person who will represent him in his capacity as a graduate, and not in his capacity as an ordinary citizen on a territorial basis.

While the Noble Lord poured scorn on the phrase, "One man, one vote," I am bound to say that it is one of the things that I regard with great veneration. I believe in it thoroughly; it is one of the dogmas of the faith. We do not argue about it; either we believe in it, or we do not, but I regard it as an essential matter. I am a Unitarian, and the Noble Lord may be a Trinitarian. There you have a question of an absolute dogma about which you cannot argue. To the Unitarian the Trinitarian position is so incomprehensible that he cannot understand people believing in it, and I can appreciate the Trinitarian saying he cannot understand the Unitarian not being able to believe in the Trinitarian position. It is so with the truth of "One man, one vote." We do not believe that all men are equal. We may believe that the Creator intended all men to be equal when He originally made man in His own image, but we do say that, taking the great mass of the people, the total sum of illogicalities is the production of this House, which for 600 years or more has worked and is working increasingly—


With the plural vote.


I was about to say working increasingly well. As we have got further and further away from the idea that privilege and not citizenship is the basis, we have got nearer and nearer to a better House. I am not one of those who believe that this House is losing its prestige. I do not believe it for a single minute. I know that some Members are seriously concerned at the prestige of this House being lost. My reading of history convinces me that each generation has felt that this House was losing prestige. Peter Wentworth felt it in 1572, and everybody has felt it since; but as we have got further and further away from privilege and closer and closer to democracy, this House has been increasingly useful. In preserving the university vote, I believe that the university voters are keeping a privilege to which they are not entitled. But the House has decided that university representation should be retained. We honour that decision, but we say that, if you desire representation as a graduate, you shall not also have representation as a citizen. I believe that that is a completely just and logical view to take in view of the decision of the House in Committee.


The hon. Member seemed to think that the argument behind this Amendment rests upon a desire to give two votes to a certain class of people because they are more fitted to have two votes than other people. That is not the argument behind this Amendment. Once you have accepted the principle that the universities shall have a separate representation—and we must accept that principle for the purposes of this discussion, because it has been decided—surely you support it because you think that the university view is of value to the House, and that it adds to the efficiency of the House. That must be the only reason for supporting the university vote. If we accept that principle—and I repeat that for the purpose of this argument we must treat it as accepted—we want that view to be as representative as possible. We want the view to represent the university opinion; in other words, the opinion of the great body of graduates. We do not want to represent the point of view of merely a small section of the graduates of universities. We surely want to induce as many of the graduates to vote as possible so that the House will get the real view of the universities.

The point is not that we are giving a man two votes for his own benefit, but that we are inviting him to exercise his vote for a university representative so that the House may get the benefit of that point of view. It is not reasonable to invite a graduate to do that at the sacrifice of his vote as a citizen. The justification of this Amendment is that, once you accept separate representation for the universities, you want it to be really representative; you can only have it really representative if you induce the great body of graduates to vote, and it is not reasonable or fair to ask them to join in that representation at the cost of the sacrifice of their votes as citizens. It is all to the good of the House that as many graduates should vote as possible. If you do not accept that view, you ought to reject university representation altogether.


This Debate has gone chiefly on the lines of Members of the other side jettisoning first one of their points and then another. We began with the university vote being made out to be absolutely essential for the intellectual good of the nation, and, when it was pointed out that this proposed new Clause does not abolish the university vote, hon. Members had to abandon that, because it is obvious that if the university vote is of that enormous importance to the welfare of our nation, those who have the choice of vote can exercise their university vote and neglect their other vote, if this Bill goes through as it is. Then we have another speaker on the other side putting out the further position that, although it was not good for the nation, it was good for the individual voter, but it is a very select and very exclusive body of voters which has this double vote. The case of the miner was introduced, and it was said that it would be a good thing for the miner, but it is not proposed that the miner should have a double vote and to have a choice of representatives, one to represent his higher self and the other to represent his lower self. It is only for an exclusive body of persons. I want the House to realise that this Bill is not doing away with whatever value there is in the university vote. It remains to be exercised by those who think it important to use one of the two votes they have for that purpose, to the exclusion of the other, and I take it that every graduate of a university who feels it important to have direct representation of universities will see that it is maintained, so there is no question of university representation disappearing, unless the graduates wish it to disappear.

Another thing that has been jettisoned by the other side is logic. They have told us that in this matter we must put logic on one side. We often have to put logic on one side in private and political life, but what do we do after we have put logic on one side? We must have some principle to guide us, and if we reject logic, and say we do not want to defend a thing on the principles of higher mathematics or something of that kind, the only argument we can fall back upon is that of expediency. Apart from principle or logic, is it useful, in practical experience, to have direct representation of these special parties in the House? We had the opportunity of seeing this part of the constitution at work, and if it has any value we should know of it. I have watched the university representatives here, and in the tone of their speeches, in their approach to the subjects they have dealt with, I have seen no difference between them and any other Members of the House. Coming fresh to this House from outside, I expected that the university representatives would have special contributions to make to our Debates, but I defy anyone to put a finger on any one suggestion, any one attempt to solve any of the problems before us, which shows that a university representative has had a training which has better fitted him to deal with our problems. If we are to abandon logic and fall upon experience, again, unfortunately we have empty hands. I think the university Members themselves would be prepared to admit that there is one of the university Members who stands out, intellectually, shoulder high above them all, but only one, and how often is he here?—[Interruption.] Apart from illness—I am sorry to hear that he is ill.


I do not see how the hon. Member's argument can be in order on this Amendment.


I am arguing that the attempt to give a special vote to university undergraduates because of the value—


That is not the question before the House. The question is whether a university graduate shall have a second vote apart from his university vote.


That is exactly my line. I bow to your Ruling. Such a man has got two votes, and he is free to exercise which he likes. My contention is that the attempt to allow him two votes is an attempt to give him a chance of riding in both carriages, in the first-class as well as in the third, an opportunity to vote because he is a very select man and an opportunity to vote because he is with the common crowd who have only a choice of an ordinary politician. We have been asked that the university voter should have two votes, one for his university and one as an ordinary voter. What difference does the choice make? In either case he has not an opportunity of voting upon some high principle. In either case his choice can only lie between two or three or four candidates. If he were asked to vote upon the Einstein theory or upon the question of adopting the system of Plato's republic, I can understand how that would make a direct appeal to the members of universities, who are, no doubt, well acquainted with the classics, but the point is that they are only in the position of having to make a common or garden choice between candidates representing, not principles which are specially concerned with the sort of training and academic life they have had but principles that have sprung up out of our common everyday life, the principles we have to use to solve some of the day-today problems which we encounter. I have yet to learn how a man who has had a university training but is confined in his decision to exactly the same choice as anybody else is any the better fitted to solve those problems than any other man. It also occurs to me that that is one of the reasons why we notice that in the universities the vote always goes in one direction.


That is not the question before the House. The question before us is whether a university voter should be allowed to vote in another constituency as well as for his university.


I am trying to point out that whether we give him one, two or six votes, he has just the same choice to make, and that the country gains nothing, and our political system gains nothing, by giving a special vote to a special body of people who in the long run have to exercise it in the same common or garden way as the rest of us. The values of votes are also concerned in this question of giving one man two as against another man's one. There is one of the universities, with about 4,000 voters, which has three representatives for those 4,000 voters. I think it is 4,000 voters. I am sorry; that is wrong. In the Scottish universities there are 44,000 persons with three votes. There are some extraordinary inequalities when it comes to the question of how many votes you are giving persons. Those 44,000 persons have three Members. In the constituency which I represent, at the last election there were 99,000 voters, and they had one representative under the system for which the other side is struggling, while 44,000 voters had three Members.


We are not discussing the question of the number of voters in any constituency, but whether university graduates should have two votes.


I quite under-stand that, but I do not see that I can illustrate the point without showing the extraordinary differences which arise under the present system. I fully support the principle of "One man, one vote," not because it is to me an article of faith or the law of the Medes and Persians, but because it is a practical principle. If you are to have equality, then to give one person two votes and another person one vote is not an intelligible principle. As things stand, no attempt has been made to prove that there is any special reason why graduates should have two votes.


It has been conceded by the Government that we are to have a university vote. That is a non-local vote, which has nothing to do with residence or the place where one's business lies. In addition, we are to have votes for graduates, who are persons with duties and interests like other men. We cannot see why, because we have had the university vote conceded to us by the Government's surrender to the wishes of the House, we are not to have the citizen's right of "No taxation without representation." I am taxed on my house, and if I am not allowed to vote locally but only for a university, then I am in the position of the person who is denied any right to the principle of "No taxation without representation." That I represent a university constituency has nothing to do with my local urban or country qualifications. You cannot claim that university voters, in common with all other citizens, should not have the right to no taxation without representation. An hon. Member opposite, with whose views I very much sympathise, got very near to the end of the subject matter under discussion when he talked about unitarians, and said that nature made all men equal. Nature intended Cain and Abel to be equal and good, but nature failed. Either nature makes such mistakes that we cannot really trust her, or else we must swallow some very strange persons.

I am acquainted with four people, all of whom have a single vote. One is a very great man who has been honoured by every honour the Crown can give except the peerage; the second has been intermittently in a lunatic asylum; the third, who is on the dole, is a very skilled workman who loses every place he gets owing to an unfortunate predeliction to petty dishonesty; and the fourth is a newly naturalised Polish Jew. That these people should have votes equal to myself and the hon. Member opposite seems to me strange. The theory of "One man, one vote" becomes quite intoxicating when one hears it so often, but the fact is that no two men are equal. It is absurd to say they are. Two of the greatest geniuses are not quite equal, and two of the worst and most idle tramps are not quite equal. There is no equality in the world, and I cannot in the least see why one set of people should not have more votes than another. My own colleague the Member for Oxford University (Lord H. Cecil) is one of the most knowledgeable, wise and eloquent Members in this House, and I cannot see in the least why he should not have seven, votes. If some of the other people to whom I have alluded get one vote, he should have from seven to 17 votes, and the claim we make that he should have two seems to me exceedingly moderate.


I have listened with some attention to the speeches made on the other side in defence not of a vote for the university or representation of a university, but for a second vote for university graduates. We have had all sorts of reasons advanced why certain people should have extra voting power. We have had a new argument for the continuance of the university vote. I have gathered from the speeches that the university voter is a kind of Jekyll and Hyde, who is highly qualified to express an opinion on certain matters, on which, owing to his university training, he is exceedingly well informed, but who loses that qualification immediately he goes to reside among ordinary people in an ordinary constituency. In that constituency he becomes a normal human being, and has got to vote as an ordinary human being on the same issues as other voters who are not university graduates. Apparently, as a university graduate, he has a superior function to perform, and, therefore, we have to give him an opportunity of being represented in that capacity.

The Noble Lord the right hon. Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy) went further, and suggested that that peculiar characteristic was not confined to university graduates, but that other people had it also. I might have views on the cricket championship, on music, on literature and on politics, and, if I could get a certain representation on all those points, I think I could fill the House of Commons without much difficulty. I know this would be driving logic to extremes, but the Noble Lord the Member for Hastings never gave a single reason why a university should have that special privilege and why no one else should have it. A previous speaker suggested that some people are much more qualified for exercising votes than others, but he did not suggest any argument to justify some people having seven votes, others one vote, and others no vote at all.


I did not make the suggestion because I thought it would be unpopular, but my suggestion would be that it should be by a very stringent examination in civics, which I should be prepared to conduct myself.


I always understood that universities deprecated examinations. Under the system suggested, I do not see how you would be able to distinguish the sheep from the goats, and the problem would become much more difficult. I think it has been clearly shown that there are no alternatives which are not ridiculous.


I find that a remark of mine which I made earlier was misunderstood. I did not mean to be rude, and I was merely suggesting that the inequalities of nature could not be corrected by means of giving additional votes.


The so-called inequalities of nature from which certain unhappy people suffer can best be remedied by the direct powers of the law. For example, I believe that prisons and lunatic asylums exist for the benefit of those who by nature are so affected as to be abnormal.


I have listened to a great deal of the Debate on this Measure, and I think we have now reached a most interesting stage. The original Bill contained a proposal for the abolition of university representation but the House of Commons deleted that proposal. We have now an Amendment to the new Clause proposed by the Home Secretary, the words of which are "save that an elector for any university constituency may vote for that constituency as well as for one other constituency." I want to put one or two points before the Committee against the proposal of the hon. and learned Member for Moss Side (Sir G. Hurst). First of all I think that to call it a university vote is quite a misnomer because the graduate does not get the vote until he leaves the university for good.


That is absolutely wrong and the hon. Member does not know what he is talking about. A man is entitled to vote for the university as soon as he has taken his Bachelor of Arts degree, and it makes no difference whether he leaves the university or stays there.


The hon. Member seems to know more about this point than I do, but I would like to ask him what proportion of university graduates who are entitled to this vote remain in the university?


I agree that it is a small proportion, but the hon. Member said that those who remain at the university do not get the vote.


The hon. Gentleman has challenged my knowledge on this point-May I remind him that I have a son who has passed a university degree and he did not get the university franchise until he had left, and so far as the Northern universities are concerned I should not be surprised if quite 95 per cent. did not qualify for this vote before leaving the university? The hon. Member said that the universities were becoming more democratic because the children of working men were going there. If that is the case then it is possible that nearly 100 per cent. of them do not get this franchise until they have left the university. I am not familiar with Oxford and Cambridge, but I know something about the Northern universities. I have never understood how it comes about that a graduate of a university, merely on the strength of his degree, was entitled to vote in two constituencies. If a young man becomes a civil engineer, as much is spent on his education, and he is as highly qualified as the person who secures a university degree. But he is not entitled to more than one vote, and the same applies to an architect or a surveyor. All these people are as highly trained in their way, and their parents have spent as much money on their education, as in the case of those who have obtained university degrees, but, as stated, they are not entitled to vote in two places. If there is any argument at all for the abolition both of university representation and of the university franchise, it is in the speech of the hon. and learned Member, and I think that anyone who listened to it will agree that that is so.

The hon. Member for the Northern Universities (Miss Rathbone) used the rather strange argument that we must have this franchise and university representation because, she asked, what would become of the Cabinets of the future unless they were composed of some men and women who had secured degrees? Strange as it may seem, however, the Prime Minister of the day is not a university graduate; the Chancellor of the Exchequer of the day is not a university graduate, and the Home Secretary, who is in charge of this Bill, has never been to a university at all. Surely, therefore, it cannot be argued that the State cannot be carried on without a Cabinet and Ministry of Members who have obtained university degrees. I feel sure that that argument is a fallacy.

To pass to another point, the hon. Lady would have it that she was elected on a progressive programme, but her speech to-night was one of the most reactionary speeches that I have heard for a long time.

The hon. and learned Gentleman who moved this Amendment, naturally, wants to add it to the proposed new Clause of the Home Secretary. The result would, therefore, entitle a university graduate to vote in two places, while the proposed new Clause would confine the vote to one constituency. The argument has been used that university men and women are not adequately represented in this House, and that there is something peculiar about education of that kind which gives them special knowledge, the benefit of which ought to be given to the nation and the House of Commons.

I do not want to be offensive by saying that this claim is based more or less on conceit. While I claim to know something about the administration of the approved societies of this country, it would be a terrible thing to suggest to the House of Commons, and I am sure that the House would resent it, that I should come here as the representative of the approved societies of this country. Although I know something about the National Health Insurance scheme, and about widows' and old age pensions and the social services of this country, I must nevertheless go to Westhoughton and take my chance of being elected by an ordinary constituency in the ordinary way. If I might say so, I cannot understand why other people are not willing to stand their chances in the same way. If they are so educated, so brilliant, and so clever, there is no reason why they should not be elected for any constituency in the land, but I doubt very much whether some of them could ever be elected on the lines on which we are returned.

I do not want to speak in any derogatory way about education. The lack of education from which I have suffered I would like to remove at one stroke if I could; but, as I mentioned on the Second Reading, I took the trouble to find out how many Members of the present House of Commons had secured degrees from the several universities of this country. I forget the exact figure at the moment, but I think that about 250 Members of the present House of Commons have secured degrees from the several universities. I do not want to speak disparagingly of them either, but, listening to their speeches, I do not know that one could tell who had been to a university and who had not. It does not follow therefore that a better contribution in debate can be expected as a result of education even of that kind. I have always looked upon education as a means of helping a man forward in life, and not as adding something that Nature has omitted. The greatest philosophers of all the ages never saw a university. The saviours of mankind never saw a university; and, if I may say so with all respect, the Saviour to whom we all pay tribute, never went to a university. Consequently, I cannot think that we should put the universities on such a high plane as some hon. Gentlemen would like.

The students in the newer universities, at any rate, undoubtedly proceed there in order to secure degrees, and I do not think I am wrong in saying that, in the main, their object in securing degrees is that they may perhaps secure better positions than their fathers had. I fail to understand, as I have already said, why persons who have secured university degrees should have two votes while their brothers and neighbours, who are as highly qualified in other spheres of life, as engineers, architects, and so on, cannot get this privilege. I hope, therefore, that the House will turn down this Amendment.


I was a little surprised to hear some of the remarks of the hon. Member for Westhoughton (Mr. Rhys Davies), and, as I have always listened to him with the greatest respect, and have always had a great respect for his views, I was a little, shall I say, distressed that he should have introduced into this Debate a type of argument which I do not think was altogether appropriate. He has alluded to One who, whether He had a university degree or not, was at all events found in the Temple disputing with the doctors, which shows that He at all events had a respect for learning.

Another reason which has induced me to intervene was that the hon. Member did not hesitate to attack the hon. Member for the English Universities (Miss Rathbone) in her absence, and I am sure that no attack would distress her more than that she should be accused of being peculiarly reactionary. I should have liked to flatter her and say that I thought she was, but I am afraid I cannot go so far. After all, what did she say that has offended the hon. Member? As far as I understood it, what she said was that she had inquired into the matter, and had found that in every constituency the working class was in the majority. Does the hon. Member resent that, or is it because he finds, to his disappointment, that that class does not always vote for such as he? [Interruption.]

It is suggested that they should be given another chance, but, in any case, even so, they have not fulfilled what I am sure the hon. Member would consider to be their destiny by giving a clear majority to him and his friends. Although on this side we have certain differences of opinion, we certainly have considerably more votes than hon. Members opposite, and I suppose it is that canker, which has been pointed out by the hon. Lady with her usual care and attention, that has rankled with the hon. Member and has caused him to make this attack, which I should have thought was a little unprovoked, because it is very rarely that the hon. Lady does not vote with the Government. I suppose, however, that on this one occasion, because she showed that there are still some people who judge things by their sense of right and wrong and vote against the Government, the hon. Member thought that that was something that he should check and rebuke.

As for the rest of his argument, what does it amount to? Is it an argument against the university vote? On the contrary, as I understand it, it is an argument that other classes besides the members of universities should be given extra votes. He cited the case of the engineer, a skilled person who has not been through a university course. I am sure he would like to see such persons have extra privileges of civic responsibility, and I am sure that they would well fulfil them, but no such suggestion has been made by hon. Members opposite, or by the hon. Member himself. He merely makes use of such an argument on a Committee point like this in order to try to discredit arguments which have been put forward from this side and which he cannot meet in any other way. Let us have a little of that kind of spirit. Let us have, instead of the usual catch phrases to which we are accustomed, some real attempt at progress and some constructive idea of civic responsibility for those who deserve it most.

10.0 p.m.


It is not very easy at this stage of the Debate to think of new points to put before the House, but there is one which I should like to urge. I think the House has broadly accepted the principle of one man one vote in its wide, general application. When we are discussing the question whether or not university graduates should have an extra vote, we are discussing what represents a large and an increasing breach in that principle. One of the things that is most encouraging is the fact that the possession of a university training is no longer the privilege of a small group. It is growing increasingly common, and we all hope it will get common more and more rapidly as the time goes on. If we give this group a double vote, we are not giving it to a handful, but to a body which is growing, and which we hope will grow. We on this side appreciate enormously the immense advantage which a university training can give, but we appreciate it in the sense in which, perhaps, the most searching writer on the universities from a civic point of view put it. John Henry Newman said a university training was a great ordinary means to a great ordinary end. That is the point we have in mind, that university training is to be sought after as a means of equipping ordinary citizens to fulfil their functions better and to get more enjoyment out of life. It is from that point of view that we ask, really on behalf of university training itself, that those who have enjoyed it should not compromise a valuable gift by asking a privilege in addition. Every university graduate is, and cannot help being, in some degree in a privileged position. The discipline and the training have put him or her in a position to exercise persuasion more effectively. It is an advantage which carries with it responsibilities. It is an advantage which ought to be responsibly recognised, and to say that a university graduate is asked to make a sacrifice in choosing only to exercise his vote for a university representative is a very curious view of the value of university representation and of university Members in the House. It seems to me from that point of view, the question of the value of university representatives as such and university representation as such, that we are now going to be in a position for the first time to judge it on its real merits.

I should like to have seen the vote swept away but, accepting the position we now have, surely it amounts to this. Whereas in the past you had university elections conducted on any and every general political issue, you now have the possibility of a more select electorate which, if it thinks it worth while to use its vote for that purpose, will exercise it in relation to university issues, and possibly send us Members who take that point of view very seriously, that we shall not have the picture of a university election conducted as it was when Gladstone was still a Member, when he had difficulty in getting returned because he was not too keen on disarmament and was not sound on the question of rifle clubs. I think those who plead the cause of university

training do it a very bad service when they suggest that to vote for a university candidate is a sacrifice.

Question put, "That those words be there inserted."

The House divided: Ayes, 175; Noes, 247.

Division No. 254.] AYES. [10.4 p.m.
Albery, Irving James Dugdale, Capt. T. L. Nicholson, Col. Rt. Hn. W. G. (Ptrsf'ld)
Alexander, Sir Wm. (Glasgow, Cent'l) Eden, Captain Anthony O'Connor, T. J.
Allen, Sir J. Sandeman (Liverp'l., W.) Edmondson, Major A. J. Oman, Sir Charles William C.
Allen, Lt.-Col. Sir William (Armagh) England, Colonel A. O'Neill, Sir H.
Amery, Rt. Hon. Leopold C. M. S. Erskine, Lord (Somerset, Weston-s.-M.) Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. William
Ashley, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Wilfrid W. Evans, Capt. Ernest (Welsh Univer.) Penny, Sir George
Aske, Sir Robert Everard, W. Lindsay Percy, Lord Eustace (Hastings)
Atkinson, C. Falle, Sir Bertram G. Ramsbotham, H.
Baldwin, Rt. Hon. Stanley (Bewdley) Ferguson, Sir John Rathbone, Eleanor
Balfour, George (Hampstead) Fison. F. G. Clavering Rawson, Sir Cooper
Beamish, Rear-Admiral T. P. H. Forestier-Walker, Sir L. Reid, David D. (County Down)
Beaumont, M. W. Galbraith, J. F. W. Remer, John R.
Bellairs, Commander Carlyon Ganzoni, Sir John Reynolds, Col. Sir James
Betterton, Sir Henry B. Gault, Lieut.-Col. A. Hamilton Richardson, Sir P. W. (Sur'y, Ch'te'y)
Bevan, S. J. (Holborn) Gibson, C. G. (Pudsey & Otley) Roberts, Sir Samuel (Ecclesall)
Birchall, Major Sir John Dearman Grace, John Rodd, Rt. Hon. Sir James Rennell
Bird, Ernest Roy Graham, Fergus (Cumberland, N.) Rots, Ronald D.
Bourne, Captain Robert Croft. Grattan-Doyle, Sir N. Ruggles-Brise, Colonel E.
Bowyer, Captain Sir George E. W. Greene, W. P. Crawford Russell, Alexander West (Tynemouth)
Boyce, Leslie Grenfeil, Edward C. (City of London) Salmon, Major I.
Braithwaite, Major A. N. Gunston, Captain D. W. Samuel, A. M. (Surrey, Farnham)
Brass, Captain Sir William Hamilton, Sir George (Ilford) Sandeman, Sir N. Stewart
Briscoe, Richard George Hannon, Patrick Joseph Henry Savery, S. S.
Broadbent, Colonel J. Harvey, Major S. E. (Devon, Totnes) Shakespeare, Geoffrey H
Brown, Col. D. C. (N'th'l'd., Hexham) Henderson, Capt. R. R. (Oxf'd, Henley) Shepperson, Sir Ernest Whittome
Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T. Hennessy, Major Sir G. R. J. Simms, Major-General J.
Buchan, John Herbert, Sir Dennis (Hertford) Sinclair, Col. T. (Queen's U., Belfst)
Burton, Colonel H. W. Hills, Major Rt. Hon. John Waller Skelton, A. N.
Butler, R. A. Hoare, Lt.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir S. J. G. Smith, Louis W. (Sheffield, Hallam)
Cadogan, Major Hon. Edward Hudson, Capt. A. U. M. (Hackney, N.) Smith-Carington, Neville W.
Carver, Major W. H. Hunter-Weston, Lt.-Gen. Sir Aylmer Smithers, Waldron
Castle Stewart, Earl of Hurd, Percy A. Somerset, Thomas
Cautley, Sir Henry S. Hurst, Sir Gerald B. Somerville, A. A. (Windsor)
Cayzer, Sir C. (Chester, City) Inskip, Sir Thomas Somerville, D. G. (Willesden, East)
Cazalet, Captain Victor A. Jones, Sir G. W. H. (Stoke New'gton) Southby, Commander A. R. J.
Cecil, Rt. Hon. Lord H. (Ox. Univ.) Jones, Henry Haydn (Merioneth) Spender-Clay, Colonel H.
Chadwick, Capt. Sir Robert Burton Lamb, Sir J. Q. Stanley, Hon. O. (Westmorland)
Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. N. (Edgbaston) Lane Fox, Col. Rt. Hon. George R. Sueter, Rear-Admiral M. F.
Christle, J. A. Latham, H. P. (Scarboro' & Whitby) Thompson, Luke
Clydesdale, Marquess of Law, Sir Alfred (Derby, High Peak) Thomson, Mitchell-, Rt. Hon. Sir W.
Cobb, Sir Cyril Leighton, Major B. E. P. Tinne, J. A.
Cohen, Major J. Brunel Lewis, Oswald (Colchester) Titchfield, Major the Marquess of
Colfox, Major William Philip Little, Graham-, Sir Ernest Train, J.
Colville, Major D. J. Llewellin, Major J. J. Tryon, Rt. Hon. George Clement.
Conway, Sir W. Martin Locker-Lampson, Rt. Hon. Godfrey Turton, Robert Hugh
Courtauld, Major J. S. Lymington, Viscount Wallace, Capt. D. E. (Hornsey)
Cowan, D. M. Macdonald, Sir M. (Inverness) Ward, Lieut.-Col. Sir A. Lambert
Cranborne, Viscount Macpherson, Rt. Hon. James I. Waterhouse, Captain Charles
Crookshank, Capt. H. C. Makins, Brigadier-General E. Wells, Sydney R.
Culverwell, C. T. (Bristol, West) Marjoribanks, Edward Williams, Charles (Devon, Torquay)
Cunliffe-Lister, Rt. Hon. Sir Philip Meller, R. J. Wilson, G. H. A. (Cambridge U.)
Dalkeith, Earl of Merriman, Sir F. Boyd Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl
Davidson, Rt. Hon. J. (Hertford) Millar, J. D. Withers, Sir John James
Davies, Dr. Vernon Milne, Wardlaw-, J. S. Womersley, W. J.
Davies, E. C. (Montgomery) Mitchell, Sir W. Lane (Streatham) Wood, Rt. Hon. Sir Kingsley
Davies, Maj. Geo. F. (Somerset, Yeovil) Monsell, Eyres, Com. Rt. Hon. Sir B. Wright, Brig.-Gen. W. D. (Tavist'k)
Dawson, Sir Philip Moore, Sir Newton J. (Richmond)
Despencer-Robertson, Major J. A. F. Morrison, W. S. (Glos., Cirencester) TELLERS FOR THE AYES.
Duckworth, G. A. V. Muirhead, A. J. Sir Frederick Thomson and Sir
Victor Warrender.
Adamson, Rt. Hon. W. (Fife, West) Arnott, John Bennett, Sir E. N. (Cardiff, Central)
Adamson, W. M. (Staff., Cannock) Attlee, Clement Richard Bennett, William (Battersea, South)
Addison, Rt. Hon. Dr. Christopher Ayles, Walter Benson, G.
Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V. (Hillsbro') Baker, John (Wolverhampton, Bilston) Bevan, Aneurin (Ebbw Vale)
Alpass, J. H. Barnes. Alfred John Birkett, W. Norman
Ammon, Charles George Barr, James Blindell, James
Angell, Sir Norman Batey, Joseph Bondfield, Rt. Hon. Margaret
Bowen, J. W. Jowett, Rt. Hon. F. W. Ramsay, T. B. Wilson
Bowerman, Rt. Hon. Charles W. Kedward, R. M. (Kent, Ashford) Raynes, W. R.
Broad, Francis Alfred Kelly, W. T. Richards, R.
Bromfield, William Kennedy, Rt. Hon. Thomas Richardson, R. (Houghton-le-Spring)
Brooke, W. Kenworthy, Lt.-Com. Hon. Joseph M. Riley, Ben (Dewsbury)
Brothers, M. Kirkwood, D. Ritson, J.
Brown, C. W. E. (Notts, Mansfield) Knight, Holford Romeril, H. G.
Brown, Ernest (Leith) Lang, Gordon Rosbotham, D. S. T.
Buchanan, G. Lansbury, Rt. Hon. George Rowson, Guy
Burgass, F. G. Lathan, G. (Sheffield, Park) Russell, Richard John (Eddisbury)
Burgin, Dr. E. L. Law, Albert (Bolton) Salter, Dr. Alfred
Buxton, C. R. (Yorks, W. R. Elland) Law, A. (Rossendale) Samuel, Rt. Hon. Sir H. (Darwen)
Carter, W. (St. Pancras, S. W.) Lawrence, Susan Samuel, H. Walter (Swansea, West)
Chater, Daniel Lawther, W. (Barnard Castle) Sanders, W. S.
Clarke, J. S. Leach, W. Sandham, E.
Cluse, W. S. Lee, Frank (Derby, N. E.) Sawyer, G. F.
Clynes, Rt. Hon. John R. Lees, J. Scott, James
Cocks, Frederick Seymour Leonard, W. Scrymgeour, E.
Cove, William G. Lindley, Fred W. Scurr, John
Cripps, Sir Stafford Lloyd, C. Ellis Sexton, Sir James
Daggar, George Logan, David Gilbert Shaw, Rt. Hon. Thomas (Preston)
Dallas, George Longbottom, A. W. Shepherd, Arthur Lewis
Dalton, Hugh Longden, F. Sherwood, G. H.
Davies, D. L. (Pontypridd) Lovat-Fraser, J. A. Shiels, Dr. Drummond
Davies, Rhys John (Westhoughton) Lunn, William Shillaker, J. F.
Day, Harry MacDonald, Rt. Hon. J. R. (Seaham) Shinwell, E.
Denman, Hon. R. D. MacDonald, Malcolm (Bassetlaw) Short, Alfred (Wednesbury)
Dudgeon, Major C. R. McElwee, A. Simmons, C. J.
Duncan, Charles McEntee, V. L. Sinclair, Sir A. (Caithness)
Ede, James Chuter McKinlay, A. Sinkinson, George
Edge, Sir William MacLaren, Andrew Sitch, Charles H.
Edmunds, J. E. Maclean, Sir Donald (Cornwall, N.) Smith, Frank (Nuneaton)
Edwards, E. (Morpeth) MacNeill-Weir, L. Smith, Lees-, Rt. Hon. H. B. (Keighley)
Elmley, Viscount McShane, John James Smith, W. R. (Norwich)
Foot, Isaac Malone, C. L'Estrange (N'thampton) Snowden, Thomas (Accrington)
Freeman, Peter Manning, E. L. Sorensen, R.
Gardner, B. W. (West Ham, Upton) Mansfield, W. Stamford, Thomas W.
George, Major G. Lloyd (Pembroke) March, S. Stephen, Campbell
George, Megan Lloyd (Anglesea) Marcus, M. Sullivan, J.
Gibbins, Joseph Markham, S. F. Sutton, J. E.
Gibson, H. M. (Lancs, Mosley) Marshall, Fred Taylor, R. A. (Lincoln)
Gill, T. H. Mathers, George Taylor, W. B. (Norfolk, S. W.)
Glassey, A. E. Matters, L. W. Thurtle, Ernest
Gossling, A. G. Maxton, James Tillett, Ben
Gould, F. Messer, Fred Tinker, John Joseph
Graham, Rt. Hon. Wm. (Edin., Cent.) Middleton, G. Toole, Joseph
Gray, Milner Mills, J. E. Tout, W. J.
Greenwood, Rt. Hon. A. (Colne) Milner, Major J. Townend, A. E.
Grenfell, D. R. (Glamorgan) Montague. Frederick Vaughan, David
Griffiths, T. (Monmouth, Pontypool) Morgan, Dr. H. B. Viant, S. P.
Groves, Thomas E. Morley, Ralph Walkden, A. G.
Grundy, Thomas W. Morris, Rhys Hopkins Walker, J.
Hall, G. H. (Merthyr Tydvil) Morris-Jones, Dr. J. H. (Denbigh) Wallace, H. W.
Hall, J. H. (Whitechapel) Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Hackney, S.) Walkins, F. C.
Hall, Capt. W. G. (Portsmouth, C.) Morrison, Robert C. (Tottenham, N.) Watson, W. M. (Dunfermline)
Hamilton, Mary Agnes (Blackburn) Mort, D. L. Watts-Morgan, Lt.-Col. D. (Rhondda)
Hamilton, Sir R. (Orkney & Zetland) Muff, G. Wellock, Wilfred
Harbord, A. Muggeridge, H. T. Welsh, James (Paisley)
Harris, Percy A. Murnin, Hugh Welsh, James C. (Coatbridge)
Hastings, Dr. Somerville Newman, Sir R. H. S. D. L. (Exeter) West, F. R.
Hayday, Arthur Noel-Buxton, Baroness (Norfolk, N.) Westwood, Joseph
Herriotts, J. Oldfield, J. R. White, H. G.
Hicks, Ernest George Oliver, George Harold (Ilkeston) Whiteley, Wilfrid (Birm., Ladywood)
Hirst, G. H. (York W. R. Wentworth) Oliver, P. [...] (Man., Blackley) Whiteley, William (Blaydon)
Hirst, W. (Bradford, South) Owen, Major G. (Carnarvon) Wilkinson, Ellen C.
Hoffman, P. C. Palin, John Henry Williams, David (Swansea, East)
Hopkin, Daniel Paling, Wilfrid Williams, Dr. J. H. (Llanelly)
Hore-Bellsha, Leslie Palmer, E. T. Wilson, C. H. (Sheffield, Attercliffe)
Horrabin, J. F. Parkinson, John Allen (Wigan) Wilson, R. J. (Jarrow)
Hudson, James H. (Huddersfield) Perry, S. F. Winterton, G. E. (Leicester, Loughb'gh)
Hunter, Dr. Joseph Pethick-Lawrence, F. W. Wise, E. F.
Isaacs, George Phillips, Dr. Marion Wood, Major McKenzie (Banff)
Jenkins, Sir William Picton-Turbervill, Edith
John, William (Rhondda, West) Pole, Major D. G. TELLERS FOR THE NOES.
Johnston, Rt. Hon. Thomas Potts, John S. Mr. Charles Edwards and Mr.
Jones, Llewellyn-, F. Pybus, Percy John Charleton.
Jones, Rt. Hon. Lelf (Camborne) Quibell D. J. K.

Question, "That the Clause be added to the Bill," put and agreed to.


The next Amendment which I intend to call is that standing in the name of the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Hastings (Lord E. Percy).