HC Deb 07 May 1941 vol 371 cc855-6
42. Mr. De la Bère

asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the increasing growth of patronage and Government appointments which have been secured by a large number of Members of the present House of Commons, he will introduce legislation to limit the number of these so as not to exceed 50 per cent. of the sitting Members, and thus ensure that the House of Commons remains representative of the electorate?

The Prime Minister (Mr. Churchill)

As my hon. Friend is aware, certificates which would prevent the extension of disqualification applying are required under the House of Commons Disqualification (Temporary Provisions) Act, 1941, to be signed by the First Lord of the Treasury, and a copy laid before the House of Commons. Any change in the law dealing with this matter ought, I think, to await the recommendations of the Select Committee now considering the position.

Mr. De la Bère

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that power always corrupts and that absolute power corrupts absolutely? Can he not see the danger of the power given to this group being utilised for intrigue or other purposes, and is it not absolutely anti-democratic?

The Prime Minister

I do not think that the general principle can be stated in such absolute terms. Power exercised under the vigorous and vigilant supervision of a properly elected Parliamentary Assembly has frequently been found to be compatible with a very high standard of public life.

Mr. De la Bère

My right hon. Friend does realise, then, that there is some danger?

Mr. Cocks

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the minds of Members on this side have never been corrupted in that particular way?