§ Considered in Committee
§ [Major MILNER in the Chair]
|The CHAIRMAN proceeded, pursuant to the Order of the House this day, to put forthwith the Question. "That the Chairman do report the Bill, without Amendment, to the House."|
§ The Committee divided: Ayes. 281; Noes, 156.727
|Division No. 5.]||AYES||[4.44 p.m.|
|Acland, Sir Richard||Collindridge, F.||Grey, C. F.|
|Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)||Collins, V. J.||Grierson, E.|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Colman, Miss G M.||Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)|
|Alpass, J. H.||Comyns, Dr. L.||Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side)|
|Anderson, A. (Motherwell)||Cook, T. F.||Guest, Dr. L. Haden|
|Attewell, H. C.||Corlett, Dr. J||Gunter, R. J.|
|Austin, H. Lewis||Cove, W. G.||Guy, W. H.|
|Awbery, S. S.||Crawley, A||Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil|
|Ayles, W. H.||Crossman, R. H. S||Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R.|
|Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B||Cunningham, P||Hannan, W. (Maryhill)|
|Bacon, Miss A.||Daggar, G.||Hardman, D. R.|
|Balfour, A||Daines, P.||Hardy, E. A.|
|Barnes, Rt. Hon. A.||Davies, Rt. Hn. Clement (Montgomery)||Harris, H. Wilson (Cambridge Univ.)|
|Barstow, P. G.||Davies, Edward (Burslem)||Hastings, Dr. Somerville|
|Barton, C.||Davies, Ernest (Enfield)||Haworth, J.|
|Battley, J. R.||Davies, Harold (Leek)||Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)|
|Bechervaise, A. E||Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S.W.)||Herbison, Miss M.|
|Belcher, J. W||Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Hewitson, Capt. M|
|Benson, G.||Davies, S. O (Merthyr)||Hicks, G.|
|Berry, H.||Deer, G.||Holman, P.|
|Beswick, F.||Delargy, H. J||Holmes, H. E. (Hemsworth)|
|Bing, G. H. C.||Diamond, J.||Horabin, T. L.|
|Binns, J.||Dodds, N. N.||Hoy, J.|
|Blackburn, A. R.||Driberg, T. E. N||Hubbard, T.|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Dumpleton, C. W.||Hudson, J. H (Ealing, W.)|
|Blyton, W. R.||Dye, S.||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayr)|
|Bottomley, A G.||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)|
|Bowdon, Fig. Offr. H. W.||Edwards, Rt. Hon. Sir C. (Bedwellty)||Hughes, H. D. (W'lverh'pton, W)|
|Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)||Edwards, John (Blackburn)||Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme)|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M (L'pl. Exch'ge)||Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)|
|Braddock, T. (Mitcham)||Evans, Albert (Islington, W.)||Irvine, A. J. (Liverpool)|
|Brook, D. (Halifax)||Evans, E. (Lowestoft)||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.|
|Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)||Evans, John (Ogmore)||Janner, B.|
|Brown, T. J. (Ince)||Ewart, R.||Jeger, G. (Winchester)|
|Brown, W. J. (Rugby)||Fairhurst, F||Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E.)|
|Bruce, Maj. D. W. T.||Farthing, W. J.||Jenkins, R. H.|
|Burden, T. W.||Fernyhough, E.||Jones, D. T. (Hartlepool)|
|Burke, W. A.||Field, Capt. W. J.||Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow)|
|Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)||Fletcher, E. G. M. (Istington, E.)||Jones, P. Astertey (Hitchin)|
|Byers, Frank||Foot, M. M.||Keenan, W|
|Callaghan, James||Freeman, Peter (Newport)||Kenyon, C|
|Carmichael, James||Ganley, Mrs. C. S.||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A||George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey)||King, E. M.|
|Champion, A. J.||Gibbins, J.||Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E.|
|Chetwynd, G. R.||Gibson, C. W.||Kinley, J.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Gilzean, A.||Kirkwood, Rt. Hon. D|
|Cobb, F. A.||Glanville, J. E. (Consett)||Lavers, S.|
|Cooks, F. S.||Gooch, E. G.||Lawson, Rt. Hon. J. J|
|Coldrick, W.||Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood)||Lee, F. (Hulme)|
|Collick, P.||Grenfell, D. R.||Lee, Miss J. (Cannock)|
|Leslie, J. R.||Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe)||Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)|
|Levy, B. W.||Paton, J. (Norwich)||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)||Pearson, A.||Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)|
|Lewis, T. (Southampton)||Piratin, P.||Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)|
|Lipton, Lt.-Col, M||Porter, E. (Warrington)||Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)|
|Logan, D. G.||Porter, G. (Leeds)||Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)|
|McAdam, W||Proctor, W. T.||Thurtle, Ernest|
|McAllister, G.||Pryde, D. J.||Tiffany, S.|
|McEntee, V. La T.||Pursey, Comdr. H||Timmons, J|
|McKay, J. (Wallsend)||Randall, H. E.||Titterington, M. F.|
|Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N.W.)||Ranger, J.||Tolley, L.|
|McKinlay, A. S||Rankin, J.||Turner-Samuels, M|
|McLeavy, F.||Reeves, J.||Usborne, Henry|
|Mainwaring, W. H.||Reid, T. (Swindon)||Vernon, Maj. W. F|
|Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Rhodes, H.||Viant, S. P.|
|Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield)||Richards, R.||Wadsworth, G.|
|Mann, Mrs. J.||Ridealgh, Mrs. M.||Walker, G. H.|
|Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.)||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)||Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)|
|Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)||Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)||Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstow, E.)|
|Marquand, H. A.||Rogers, G. H. R.||Warbey, W N|
|Marshall, F. (Brightside)||Ross, William (Kilmarnock)||Watkins, T. E.|
|Mathers, Rt. Hon George||Royle, C.||Watson, W. M|
|Mellish, R. J.||Sargood, R.||Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)|
|Middleton, Mrs. L.||Scollan, T.||Wells, P. L. (Faversham)|
|Mitchison, G. R||Scott-Elliott, W||Weis, W. T. (Walsall)|
|Monslow, W.||Shackleton, E. A. A||West, D. G.|
|Moody, A. S.||Sharp, Granville||Wheatley, Rt. Hn. John (Edinb'gh, E.)|
|Morgan, Dr. H. B||Shurmer, P.||White, C. F. (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Morley, R.||Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)||White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)||Simmons, C. J.||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, E.)||Skeffington, A. M.||Wigs, George|
|Mort, D. L.||Skeffington-Lodge, T. C||Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)|
|Mulvey, A.||Skinnard, F. W.||Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)|
|Murray, J. D.||Smith, S. H. (Hull, S.W.)||Williams, J. L (Kelvingrove)|
|Nally, W.||Snow, J. W.||Williams, R. W. (Wigan)|
|Naylor, T. E.||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank||Williams, W. R. (Heston)|
|Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N.)||Sparks, J. A||Wills, Mrs. E. A.|
|Noel-Baker, Cant F. E. (Brentford)||Steele, T.||Wise, Major F. J.|
|Oliver, G. H.||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A|
|Orbach, M.||Stress, Dr. B.||Wyatt, W.|
|Paget, R. T.||Stubbs, A. E.||Yates, V. F|
|Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth)||Swingler, S.||Young, Sir R (Newton)|
|Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Sylvester, G. O|
|Parkin, B. T.||Symonds, A. L||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Mr. Richard Adams and Mr. Wilkins.|
|Agnew, Cmdr. P. G||Drewe, C.||Keeting, E H.|
|Amory, D. Heathcoat||Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond)||Kerr, Sir J. Graham|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R||Duthie, W. S.||Lambert, Hon. G.|
|Astor, Hon. M.||Eccles, D. M.||Lancaster, Col. C. G.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||Langford-Holt, J.|
|Barlow, Sir.J||Elliot, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon Walter||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.|
|Baxter, A. B.||Fleming, Sqn.-Ldr. E. L||Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)|
|Beamish, Maj. T. V H.||Fletcher, W. (Bury)||Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral)|
|Beechman, N. A.||Fox, Sir G.||Low, A. R. W.|
|Bennett, Sir P.||Fraser, H. C. P. (Stone)||Lucas-Tooth, Sir H|
|Birch, Nigel||Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P. M||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O.|
|Boles, Lt.-Cal. D. C (Wells)||Galbraith, Cmdr. T D||MacAndrew, Col. Sir C.|
|Boothby, R.||Gammons, L. D.||McCallum, Maj. D.|
|Bossom, A. C.||Gates, Maj. E. E||McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.|
|Bowen, R.||Glyn, Sir R.||Macdonald, Sir P. (I. of Wight)|
|Bower, N.||Gomme-Duncan, Col. A||McFarlane, C. S.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Graham-Little, Sir E||McKie, J H. (Galloway)|
|Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. G.||Gridley, Sir A.||Maclay, Hon. J. S.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Grimston, R V.||Maclean, F. H. R. (Lancaster)|
|Bullock, Capt. M||Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley)||MacLeod, J.|
|Butcher, H. W.||Harden, J. R. E.||Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)|
|Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A. (S'flr'n W'ld'n)||Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge)||Macpherson, N. (Dumfries)|
|Carson, E.||Harris, F. W. (Croydon, N.)||Maitland, Comdr. J. W.|
|Challen, C.||Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V.||Manningham-Buller, R. E.|
|Channon, H.||Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Marshall, D. (Bodmin)|
|Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Mellor, Sir J.|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Hogg, Hon. Q||Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir T|
|Corbett, Lieut.-Col. U (Ludlow)||Hollis, M. C.||Morris-Jones, Sir H.|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col O. E||Holmes, Sir J. Stanley (Harwich)||Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury)|
|Crowder, Capt. John E||Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)||Morrison, Rt. Hn, W. S. (Cirencester)|
|Cuthbert, W. N.||Hulbert, Wing-Cdr. N. J.||Mott-Radclyffe, C. E|
|Davidson, Viscountess||Hurd, A.||Mullan, Lt. C. H.|
|De la Bère, R||Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)||Neill, W. F. (Belfast, N.)|
|Digby, S. W.||Hutchison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow, C.)||Nicholson, G.|
|Dower, Col. A. V. G. (Penrith)||Jarvis, Sir J.||Nield, B. (Chester)|
|Dower, E. L G. (Cailthness)||Jeffreys, General Sir G.||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.|
|Drayson, G B.||Jennings, R.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H.|
|Osborne, C.||Snadden, W. M.||Tweedsmuir, Lady|
|Peake, Rt. Hon. O||Spearman, A. C M||Wakefield, Sir W. W|
|Peto, Brig. C. H. M||Spence, H. R.||Ward, Hon. G. R|
|Pickthorn, K.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. O.||Watt, Sir G. S. Harvie|
|Poole, O. B. S. (Oswestry)||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E)||Wheatley, Colonel M. J. (Dorset, E.)|
|Prior-Palmer, Brig O||Strauss, Henry (English Universities)||White, Sir D. (Fareham)|
|Raikes, H. V.||Studholme, H. G.||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Ramsay, Maj. S.||Sutcliffe, H.||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Roberts, H. (Handsworth)||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Robertson, Sir D (Streatham)||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (P'dd't'n, S.)||York, C.|
|Ropner, Col. L.||Teeling, William||Young, Sir A S L. (Partick)|
|Ross, Sir R. D. (Londonderry)||Thorneycroft, G. E. P. (Monmouth)|
|Sanderson, Sir F.||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Savory, Prof. D. L||Thorp, Brigadier R. A. F||Major Conant and|
|Scott, Lord W.||Touche, G. C.||Brigadier Mackeson.|
|Smiles, Lt.-Col Sir W||Turton, R. H|
|Division No. 6.]||AYES||[4.55 p.m|
|Acland, Sir Richard||Davies, Harold (Leek)||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)|
|Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)||Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S.W.)||Hughes, H. D. (W'lverh'pton, W.)|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme)|
|Alpass, J. H.||Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)|
|Anderson, A. (Motherwell)||Deer, G.||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)|
|Attewell, H. C.||Delargy, H. J||Irvine, A. J. (Liverpool)|
|Austin, H. Lewis||Diamond, J.||Isaacs, Rt. Hon G. A|
|Awbery, S. S.||Dodds, N. N.||Janner, B.|
|Ayles, W. H.||Driberg, T. E. N||Jeger, G. (Winchester)|
|Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B.||Dumpleton, C. W||Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E.)|
|Bacon, Miss A||Dye, S.||Jenkins, R. H.|
|Balfour, A.||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Jones, D. T. (Hartlepool)|
|Barstow, P G||Edwards, Rt. Hon, Sir C. (Bedwellty)||Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow)|
|Barton, C||Edwards, John (Blackburn)||Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)|
|Battley, J. R||Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)||Keenan, W.|
|Bechervaise, A. E||Evans, Albert (Islington, W.)||Kenyon, C.|
|Belcher, J. W||Evans, E. (Lowestoft)||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W.|
|Benson, G||Evans, John (Ogmore)||King, E. M.|
|Berry, H.||Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)||Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E.|
|Beswick, F.||Ewart, R.||Kinley, J.|
|Bing, G. H. C||Fairhurst, F||Kirkwood, Rt. Hon. D|
|Binns, J.||Farthing, W. J.||Lavers, S.|
|Blackburn, A. R||Fernyhough, E.||Lawson, Rt. Hon. J. J|
|Blenkinsop, A||Field, Capt. W. J.||Lee, F. (Hulme)|
|Blylen, W R.||Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)||Lee, Miss J. (Cannock)|
|Bottomley, A. G.||Foot, M. M.||Leslie, J. R.|
|Bowden, Fig. Offr. H. W.||Freeman, Peter (Newport)||Levy, B. W.|
|Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)||Ganley, Mrs. C. S.||Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl. Exch'ge)||George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey)||Lewis, T. (Southampton)|
|Braddock, T. (Mitcham)||Gibbins, J.||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M|
|Brook, D. (Halifax)||Gibson, C. W||Logan, D. G.|
|Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)||Gilzean, A.||McAdam, W|
|Brown, T. J. (Ince)||Glanville, J. E. (Consett)||McAllister, G.|
|Bruce, Maj. D. W. T.||Gooch, E. G.||McEntee, V. La T.|
|Burden, T. W||Greenwood, A. W.J (Heywood)||McKay, J. (Wallsend)|
|Burke, W. A.||Grenfell, D. R.||Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N.W.)|
|Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)||Grey, C. F.||McKinlay, A. S.|
|Byers, Frank||Grierson, E||McLeavy, F.|
|Callaghan, James||Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)||Mainwaring, W. H.|
|Carmichael, James||Griffiths, Rt. Hon. J. (Llanelly)||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)|
|Castle, Mrs B. A||Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side)||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfield)|
|Champion, A. J.||Guest, Dr. L. Haden||Mann, Mrs. J.|
|Chetwynd, G. R||Gunter, R. J.||Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.)|
|Cluse, W. S||Guy, W. H.||Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)|
|Cobb, F. A||Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil||Marquand, H. A.|
|Cooks, F. S||Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R.||Marshall, F. (Brightside)|
|Coldrick, W.||Hannan, W. (Maryhill)||Mathers, Rt. Hon. George|
|Collick, P.||Hardman, D. R||Mellish, R. J.|
|Collindridge, F||Hardy, E. A||Middleton, Mrs. L|
|Collins, V. J.||Harrison, J.||Mitchison, G. R|
|Colman, Miss G M.||Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Monslow, W|
|Comyns, Dr L.||Haworth, J.||Moody, A. S.|
|Cook, T. F.||Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)||Morgan, Dr. H B|
|Corlett, Dr. J||Herbison, Miss M.||Morley, R.|
|Cove, W. G.||Hewitson, Capt. M||Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)|
|Crawley, A||Hicks, G.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, E.)|
|Grossman, R. H [...]||Holman, P.||Mort, D. L|
|Cunningham, P||Holmes, H. E (Hemsworth)||Mulvey, A.|
|Daggar, G.||Horabin, T. L.||Murray, J. D|
|Daines, P.||Hoy, J,||Nally, W|
|Davies, Rt. Hn. Clement (Montgomery)||Hubbard., T.||Naylor, T. E.|
|Davies, Edward (Burslem)||Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W)||Nichol, Mrs. M. E. (Bradford, N,)|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield)||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayr)||Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)|
|Noel-Baker, Capt. F E. (Brentford)||Scollan, T.||Turner-Samuels, M|
|Oliver, C. H.||Soott-Elliott, W||Vernon, Maj. W. F|
|Orbach, M.||Shackleton, E. A A.||Viant, S. P.|
|Paget, R. T.||Sharp, Granville||Wadsworth, G.|
|Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth)||Shurmer, P.||Walker, G. H.|
|Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)||Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)|
|Parkin, B. T.||Simmons, C. J.||Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstow, E.)|
|Paton, Mrs. F. (Rushcliffe)||Skeffington, A. M.||Watkins, T. E.|
|Paton, J. (Norwich)||Skeffington-Lodge, T. C||Watson, W. M|
|Pearson, A||Skinnard, F. W.||Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)|
|Piratin, P.||Smith, S. H. (Hull, S.W.)||Wells, P. L. (Faversham)|
|Porter, E. (Warrington)||Snow, J. W.||Wells, W. T. (Walsall)|
|Porter, C. (Leeds)||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank||West, D. G.|
|Price, M. Philips||Sparks, J. A.||Wheatley, Rt. Hn. John (Edinb'gh, E.)|
|Proctor, W. T.||Steele, T.||White, C. F. (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Pryde, D. J.||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E)||While, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Pursey, Comdr. H||Stross, Dr. B.||Whiteley, Rt. Hon W|
|Randall, H. E.||Stubbs, A. E.||Wigg, George|
|Ranger, J.||Swingler, S.||Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)|
|Rankin, J.||Sylvester, G. O||Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)|
|Reeves, J.||Symonds, A. L.||Williams, J. L (Kelvingrove)|
|Reid, T. (Swindon)||Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)||Williams, R. W. (Wigan)|
|Rhodes, H.||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)||Williams, W. R. (Heston)|
|Richards, R.||Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)||Wills, Mrs. E. A.|
|Ridealgh, Mrs. M||Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)||Wise, Major F. J|
|Robens, A.||Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)||Wyatt, W.|
|Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)||Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)||Yates, V F|
|Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)||Thurtte, Ernest||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Rogers, G. H. R.||Tiffany, S.|
|Ross, William (Kilmarnock)||Timmons, J||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Royle, C.||Titterington, M F||Mr. Richard Adams and Mr. Wilkim|
|Sargood, R||Tolley, L|
|Agnew, Cmdr. P. G.||Galbraith, Cmdr T. D||Macpherson, N. (Dumfries)|
|Amory, D. Heathooat||Gammons, L. D.||Maitland, Comdr. J. W.|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon R||Gates, Maj. E. E||Manningham-Buller, R. E|
|Astor, Hon. M.||Glyn, Sir R.||Marshall, D. (Bodmin)|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Gomme-Duncan, Col. A||Mellor, Sir J.|
|Barlow, Sir J||Graham-Little, Sir E||Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir T|
|Baxter, A. B.||Gridley, Sir A.||Morris-Jones, Sir H.|
|Beamish, Maj. T. V. H.||Grimston, R. V.||Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury)|
|Beechman, N. A.||Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley)||Morrison, Rt. Hn. W. S. (Cirencester)|
|Bennett, Sir P.||Harden, J. R. E||Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.|
|Birch, Nigel||Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge)||Mullan, Lt. C. H.|
|Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C (Wells)||Harris, F. W. (Croydon, N.)||Neill, W. F. (Belfast, N.)|
|Boothby, R.||Harris, H. Wilson (Cambridge Univ.)||Nicholson, G.|
|Bossom, A. C||Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V.||Nield, B. (Chester)|
|Bowen, R.||Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P.|
|Bower, N.||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||O'Neill, Rt. lion. Sir H|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Hogg, Hon. Q||Orr-Ewing, I. L.|
|Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr, J. G||Hollis, M. C.||Osborne, C.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Holmes, Sir J. Stanley (Harwish)||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.|
|Butcher, H. W.||Hudson, Rt Hon. R. S. (Southport)||Peto, Brig. C. H. M.|
|Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A. (S'ffr'n W'ld'n)||Hulbert, Wing-Cdr. N. J||Pickthorn, K.|
|Carson, E.||Hurd, A.||Poole, O. B. S. (Oswestry)|
|Challen, C.||Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O|
|Channon, H.||Hutchison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow, C.)||Raikes, H. V.|
|Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G||Jarvis, Sir J.||Ramsay, Maj. S.|
|Cole, T. L.||Jeffreys, General Sir G.||Roberts, H. (Handsworth)|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Jennings, R.||Robertson, Sir D. (Streatham)|
|Corbett, Lieut.-Col. [...] (Ludlow)||Keeling, E. H.||Ropner, Col. L.|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O E||Kerr, Sir J. Graham||Ross, Sir R. D. (Londonderry)|
|Crowder, Capt. John E||Lambert, Hon. G.||Sanderson, Sir F.|
|Cuthbert, W. N.||Lancaster, Col. C. G||Savory, Prof. D. L|
|Davidson, Viscountess||Langford-Holt, J.||Scott, Lord W.|
|De la Bère, R.||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W|
|Digby, S. W.||Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Snadden, W. M.|
|Dower, Col. A. V. G. (Penrith)||Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral)||Spearman, A. C. M|
|Dower, E. L G. (Caithness)||Low, A. R. W.||Spence, H. R.|
|Drayson, G. B.||Lucas, Major Sir J.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. O.|
|Drewe, C.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond)||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O.||Strauss, Henry (English Universities)|
|Duthie, W. S.||MacAndrew, Col. Sir C||Studholme, H. G|
|Eccles, D. M.||McCallum, Maj. D.||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Eden, Rt. Hon. A.||McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Elliot, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Walter||McFarlane, C. S||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (P'dd't'n, S.)|
|Fleming, Sqn.-Ldr. E. L||McKie, J. H. (Galloway)||Teeling, William|
|Fletcher, W. (Bury)||Macley, Hon. J. S||Thorneycroft, G. E. P. (Monmouth)|
|Fox, Sir G.||Maclean, F. H R (Lancaster)||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N|
|Fraser, H. C. P. (Stone)||MacLeod, J.||Thorp, Brigadier R. A. F|
|Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P. M||Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)||Touche, G. C.|
|Turton, R. H.||Wheatley, Colonel M. J. (Dorset, E.)||York, C.|
|Tweedsmuir, Lady||White, Sir D. (Fareham)||Young. Sir A S L. (Partick)|
|Wakefield, Sir W. W||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Ward, Hon. G. R.||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Wan, Sir G S Harvie||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl||Brigadier Mackeson and|
§ Bill reported without Amendment.
§ Motion made, and Question proposed, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."—[Mr. Ede.]
§ 5.3 p.m.
§ Mr. Quintin Hogg (Oxford)
With an engaging frankness and a brutal cynicism, the Home Secretary has not advanced any reason for the Motion which is now before the House. The Puritan in me disapproves of such frank revelations of the nakedness of the land. My fondness for this House regrets that it should have been dealt with in this way, notwithstanding that we know there is very little to be said in its favour.
During his speech on the former Motion, the Home Secretary said that this House had already made up its mind about this Bill. The hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) made the same observation in more forcible terms. I fear that may be true; I hope it is not. Most of us who have had experience of speaking in the House would, I suppose, rather do so on an occasion when they were conscious that votes were to be won by arguments and would prefer, on the whole, not to do so when the party armies are aligned under the control of their Whips ready to go into the Lobbies without deviation on the right or on the left. But even then there is usually a vitality about the Debates in this House which is due to the fact that even the smallest minority may normally expect from a Government some attention to reason, some concession to argument, and possibly some amendment from constructive suggestion. But by the procedure which we have just undergone this, at any rate, has been ruled out in the present Debate. Our privilege is to say "aye" or "no" without amendment, and we are precluded—and the Government are precluded in effect—from suggesting any alteration by a jot or a tittle.
I only hope, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that when you come to put the Question, as you will at the conclusion of the Debate, you will remember not to use the familiar English terms of "aye" or "no," but will adopt the more appropriate language 734 of "ja" or "nein" so that we may know exactly where we stand on this Bill in the Reichstag dominated by a National Socialist majority. It is a curious commentary on a Bill, the professed object of which is to curtail the powers of another place, that its first result should be to deprive this House of powers of amendment and discussion. I am sorry to say that it is inevitable that we must now expect this procedure to be repeated again and again, as each of the major controversial Measures of the Government come forward, if any one of them by any chance should happen to be rejected by another place.
Many quotations from the controversies of the past have illumined our Debates in the last two days, but I myself very much liked one from Mr. Asquith—during the period when the power of the House of Lords was in controversy before—who, despite the noble Lady the Member for Anglesey (Lady Megan Lloyd George), was perhaps even more responsible for the policy of the Parliament Bill than her noble father. Mr. Asquith said on one occasion during those controversies that once the House of Commons became a mere automatic machine for recording the fiat of the Government, not only would legislation go forth to the country without respect and authority, but it would destroy the best safeguard for the permanence of that legislation.
Now we have reached that point. What is said today must, therefore, to a certain extent, be for the record only. One cannot argue with those who have declared in advance that they will not listen to reason. None the less, I feel that it is the duty of hon. Members on this side of the House to put forward arguments which at any rate seem to them to be sufficient for saying that this Bill should not go on the Statute Book, in the hope either that there may be, before the third passage of this Bill through the House, some spirits on the other side who are prepared to listen to both sides of a case, but, if not, then in the hope that history will record the issue between us and will say, as it undoubtedly will say, that we are right.
735 I am encouraged to put this case forward because this much can be said with certainty, that in the main hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who have so far spoken on the other side of the House have not rightly understood the case which is put forward against this Measure. Certainly the Lord President of the Council yesterday did not understand the case because he said that our main objection to the Bill was the political manœuvre which we alleged took place as a result of which, in order to avoid the feared calamity of the resignation of the right hon. Gentleman the Minister of Health over the issue of the nationalisation of iron and steel, a peculiar compromise was made. We believe that manœuvre was a fact; we can find no other explanation for the Bill than that. But that is not our case against it; it is rather our charity and tolerance, our desire to find some excuse for hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite in supporting so bad a Measure, that drives us to find an excuse in this explanation, because there is really nothing else which could possibly mitigate their conduct.
Nor is the case against the Bill that this is an inopportune time to bring such a Measure forward. We believe that and think it is an inopportune time, but that, again, is not our case against the Bill. That is only an appeal which we make to the patriotism of hon. and right hon. Members opposite. We recognise that some of our arguments are arguments which, by the very nature of their political allegiance, hon. and right hon. Members opposite are not likely to accept, although we ourselves consider them reasonable and we make the appeal to hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite not to divide the nation at the present time with a Measure which we believe to be bad and which in the end must certainly prove untimely. But that is not the case aginst the Bill and certainly not the case I shall put forward in moving, as I do, the rejection on Third Reading. The case against the Bill is that it is bad in itself, that it is not a Bill which any self-respecting House of Commons ought to pass, that it is politically dishonest, that it is wanting in intellectual integrity and that, judged even by the miserable yardstick which 736 the Lord President of the Council has erected into his own particular idol in politics—even judged by that measure—it is practically inexpedient.
We regard it as politically dishonest because we consider that any Measure which sought to deal with this difficult constitutional problem ought to have started with some clear idea of what the Government thought the constitution of the country should be, and this Bill starts with no such clear conception. We regard it as intellectually disreputable because, like so much that proceeds out of the mind of the Lord President of the Council, it is a mere attempt to reconcile two, and possibly more than two, divergent and irreconcilable points of view and seek support from various hopelessly divided factions within his own party, and probably within the Cabinet.
We regard it as practically inexpedient because we can show beyond doubt that it will in fact attain none of the somewhat modest advantages which it is suggested by its sponsors it can attain—not one. It will remove no anomalies, it will avoid no source of friction between the Houses. It will not even put an effective check upon the misuse of its powers by the House of Lords for, as I shall show, the powers of the House of Lords, the legal powers which are retained by this Bill, could, if misused, be every bit as intolerable as anything against which hon. Members have declaimed in this House, and the only exercise of power by the House of Lords which is in any way curtailed is the legitimate use of their legitimate powers.
In a purely factual sense let me try to define what this Bill does. It is agreed on both sides that, whatever else this Bill is, it is not an attempt either to abolish or to reform the composition of the hereditary Second Chamber, Therein lies one of the greatest criticisms of this Bill because, although it is true that hon. Members opposite in their speeches have been able to point to anomalies and faults in the composition of that House and perhaps mistakes in the use of their power in the past, we can show, and I propose to attempt to show, that not one of those anomalies can be removed by the Measure which is now before the House—not one. But any one of them could be removed by a change in the composition of the House such as that upon which 737 the inter-party conference was able to agree some time ago.
The last few months and the speeches of hon. Members opposite have convinced me, as they convinced my hon. Friend the Member for Flint (Mr. Birch) yesterday, that it is idle to hope for any honest or conscientious attempt to rationalise or reform the anomalies to which hon. Members draw attention. The House of Lords, with the hereditary principle in it, in its present composition and with its present powers, is far too convenient as a whipping boy. It is far too attractive as a red herring and, be it said, it is far too formidable as a reserve of debating power if its Members were released from its bondage and made available to this House to defeat the Socialists here and in the country. For this reason we must be sure that so long as the right hon. Gentleman, at any rate, is in Office no Socialist Government will ever be true to its principles in this matter. He, with his peculiar sense of what is politically expedient, will always invent a reason for preserving the hereditary House of Lords without amendment in its present composition.
What is not so generally recognised is that this is not even a genuine attempt to revise the powers of the House of Lords. That is not being attempted in this Bill. A genuine attempt to revise the powers of the House of Lords would, in fact, make a thoroughgoing examination of the rights and powers which they do in fact possess, but, with one important qualification, not one of those powers is attacked or curtailed in any way. It does not even alter the nature of the suspensory veto introduced by the Parliament Act, 1911. The right hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) referred to that fact in a speech he made earlier this afternoon. The disadvantages and the farce of today's proceedings could be avoided without much difficulty if only the Government would proceed to an honest attempt to revise the powers of the Second Chamber, but this they have not attempted to do.
The solitary object and purpose of this Bill, apart from its one retrospective Clause, is to reduce the period of delay imposed by the suspensory veto from a period which in practice is at the moment 18 months to a period which will in practice be about six months if this Bill is 738 passed. I use those periods rather than those which are specified in the Bill itself because the periods of two years and one year are imposed between the first Second Reading and the last Third Reading in each case, and since an important controversial Bill would take some time to pass through Parliament anyhow the figures I have given are rather more accurate.
I venture to assert that whether one is dealing with the composition or the powers of the House of Lords—and it does not matter which—no honest person can conscientiously maintain that the proper way in which to deal with the question of the Second Chamber is simply to monkey about with the periods of time as specified in the Parliament Bill for the suspensory veto. The Parliament Act did not profess to do anything else than create an anomaly. It did not profess to be a permanent solution of the relations between the two Houses. It was an interim solution designed to meet a present emergency and to get certain existing legislation through the House by the temporary restriction of the powers of a body admittedly indefensible and one which was expressly stated in the Preamble to the Act to be under sentence of death.
That anomaly affected both the powers and the composition of the House of Lords, and it was justified and was only sought to be justified in two ways. In the first place, there was the promise contained in the Preamble, and reiterated, I think, on every important stage of the Bill's passage through Parliament, that the existing anomaly would be remedied when time permitted by comprehensive and rational reform of the Second Chamber.
§ Mr. Turner-Samuels (Gloucester)
It that is so, why did not the hon. Member's party do that during its long years of power?
§ Mr. Hogg
The hon. and learned Member for Gloucester (Mr. Turner-Samuels) must not think me so simple that that point had not occurred to me. He may rest assured that if it did occur to me I shall endeavour, at the proper time, to deal with it conscientiously. At the moment I am concerned only to show, and I am not to be diverted from my 739 exposition of the case by any unintelligent anticipation of any other part of it—
§ Mr. Hogg
It is indeed a serious criticism of me if the hon. and learned Member for Gloucester should be thought to be too smart for me.
I was engaged in pointing out the way in which the anomaly, which was admittedly and intentionally created by the Parliament Act, was justified and was sought to be justified at the time when the Act was passed. The first was the promise, contained in the Preamble, of reform, and the second was the period of delay provided for in the body of the Act, the period of two years we are now proposing to alter. I venture to say, with respect to the noble Lady who spoke yesterday, that that period of two years was both thoroughly discussed and carefully considered by the Government of that time. It is not true that they chose that period as a means of persuading the House of Lords to accept the Parliament Act without the terror of additional creations. On the contrary, it was a period of time carefully selected and justified by Mr. Asquith in these words:A delay of three Sessions or of two years when the suspensory veto of the House of Lords is interposed precludes the possibility—and I say this with assurance—of covertly or arbitrarily smuggling into law Measures which are condemned by popular opinion.That was the motive underlying the period of two years.
I venture now to reply to an argument which the Lord President of the Council and some of his hon. Friends put forward yesterday. The suggestion was that the public does not take two years to make up its mind, that public opinion moves rapidly and condemns actions quickly. It moved rapidly, so we were reminded, over the question of the death penalty, and against this particular Administration. But hon. Members fail to appreciate the point which is put against them that it is not the time that the public takes to make up its mind which has to be sufficiently long; the time which has to be sufficiently long is the time required 740 for the Government to make up their mind to change their own decision.
The case of the death penalty is precisely an instance in point, as, on the occasion when we considered the Lords rejection of our compromise Amendment, the Lord President of the Council had to deal with a good deal of opposition from below the Gangway in his own party, and the suggestion was then put forward, recklessly and irresponsibly, as I thought, and as he agreed, that an attempt should be made to apply the provisions of the Parliament Act to the Criminal Justice Bill. Does anyone seriously believe that if the powers of the Lords had been greatly limited the pressure which would have come from below the Gangway on that occasion would not have been irresistible to the Government?
The reason why the period of two years is essential as a safeguard to the Constitution is because the possession of these legal powers by a Second Chamber is the minimum necessary to make the Government see reason even in the face of popular opinion. That is the answer to the argument put forward by the right hon. Gentleman.
However that may be, if anyone had thought or had said in 1911 that the complicated anomalies and cumbrous machinery created by that Act, and the absurd and obsolete composition of the House of Lords, would not only be retained in 1948 but would be solemnly defended and, with one little bit of new jerrybuilding, solemnly built into the Constitution of this country, apparently for all time—because the promise of reform no longer exists—by a so-called progressive Government, the person who had said that in 1911 would undoubtedly have been regarded by his contemporaries as a lunatic.
I now turn to the point with which the hon. and learned Member for Gloucester seriously believed that he would entrap me when he interposed a few minutes ago. Complaint has been made that during a period of successive Conservative Governments no reform was made of the House of Lords, and no change was made either in the composition or in the powers of the Second Chamber. If that be a criticism of successive Conservative Governments, it is a criticism with which I confess that I personally 741 feel a certain amount of sympathy, for one reason or another.
But, on reflection, I am disposed to think that the burden of criticism is really this, that the Conservative Governments of those days were far too tender to the shrieks of complaint which arose from the Socialist Benches in both Houses whenever proposals were made for the reform of the House of Lords. I give the hon. and learned Gentleman his point if it be a criticism of successive Conservative Governments of those days. But if it is intended as an argument in favour of leaving the present anomaly in existence for an indefinite period and building it, with additional disadvantages, into the already rickety structure of our Constitution, I can only say that the hon. and learned Gentleman's observation, although legitimate in its way, is one the relevance of which to the present discussion I do not understand.
There may be ample arguments for leaving untouched for a number of years an anomaly which may, in theory, be indefensible, provided that its continuance leads to no practical disadvantage. But once it has been decided, for good reasons or for bad, to reform that anomaly, then there can be no honest argument for refusing to face the issues raised conscientiously and effectively. It is precisely because the right hon. Gentleman, as in most things that he does, is so afraid of the political consequences of dealing honestly and effectively with the question, that this Bill has emerged as a bad, illogical Measure, which no honest statesman can conscientiously support.
I ventured to observe on Second Reading in the last Session that there were three questions which a conscientious person would seek to answer before he tackled this question of Second Chamber reform. The first was, do we want one or two Chambers in our system? The second was, if we want two, what composition would we give to the Second Chamber? The third was, if we want two, what powers are we going to give to the reconstituted Second Chamber? These three questions are, of course, interdependent. We heard last night an argument from the hon. and learned Member for Llandaff and Barry (Mr. Ungoed-Thomas) which was, in effect, only a repetition of the argument made by the 742 hon. Member for Dagenham (Mr. Parker) in a former Debate, to the effect that the reform of a Second Chamber could only be made in two stages. First, the powers of an ideal Second Chamber must be decided, in vacuo as it were, perhaps years afterwards, perhaps not at all. The second measure would be to introduce the provision—
§ Mr. McKinlay (Dunbartonshire)
On a point of Order. I think, Mr. Deputy- Speaker, that we are entitled to your guidance at this juncture. I suggest that the hon. Member is making a Second Reading speech. There is no question, in my submission, of reconstituting or reforming the House of Lords. I only want to know, in case some of us wish to take part in the Debate, whether we are entitled to make what is, in my submission, a Second Reading speech.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker(Major Milner)
The hon. Member is, of course, correct in that the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg) was not at the moment dealing with the contents of the Bill. I had imagined that he was about to do so.
§ Mr. Hogg
I was indeed dealing with the contents of the Bill. If in any way the point of the argument I was advancing did not appeal to you, Mr. Deputy- Speaker, I should like to make it clear that I was dealing with the arguments about the Bill and its contents advanced by the hon. and learned Member for Llandaff and Barry. I was saying that the Bill was a vicious Bill in principle, because it was inconsistent in its provisions, because its provisions were based on no clear and coherent idea of what the constitution should be and that those provisions operated with a want of coherent thought in every one of their aspects. I was trying to deal with what had been put forward from the Benches opposite not on the question whether the Second Chamber should be reformed in its composition, but on the question whether this Bill is a correct method of amending the law.
What I was venturing to say, when the hon. Gentleman interrupted me, was that it was useless to treat these three questions which I have enumerated as anything but inter-dependent. It is no good trying to decide whether we want one Chamber or two unless we know in advance, or at any rate in general terms, what the composition and what the powers 743 of that Second Chamber should be. It is no good seeking to find the ideal composition of a Second Chamber, because the composition of the Second Chamber bears a direct relationship to the powers which we are going to give it, and the powers of the Second Chamber—
§ Dr. Morgan
On a point of Order. Even if what the hon. Member says is true, as to what he was dealing with, the fact remains that this Bill does not deal with those subjects. This Bill is quite concise and it does not deal with powers or composition.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
That is not quite correct and there are circumstances in which reference to the powers of the House of Lords may be in Order. I think that the House must leave the matter to the Chair.
§ Dr. Morgan
On a point of Order. May I object to that personal remark? My attempt to make the position clear and ensure your Ruling, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, was a perfectly genuine attempt to get a Ruling as to whether this was a Third Reading speech or not. I ask you to protect me from the insinuation that I was not genuine.
§ Mr. Hogg
I will proceed with my speech after the observations of the hon. Member. As I was saying when I was interrupted, the three questions are interdependent. The third point which I was making at the moment of the hon. Member's intervention was that it is not only useless, but it is immoral to give to or leave with a Second Chamber important functions of any sort when the composition and status of the Second Chamber is not such as to give that Second Chamber power to discharge the functions which are given to it. Part of my case, at any rate against this Bill, is that the powers which are given by this Bill to the Second Chamber are powers which a Second Chamber, by reason of the defects in its composition, will be quite unable to discharge effectively, and that if any attempt be made by the Second Chamber to discharge the powers given by this Bill 744 we shall be met with- howls of protest from the benches opposite and arguments which are constantly directed to its com position and not to its powers.
I turn from the hon. Gentleman and from that argument to one of a little more reasonable character which was put forward by the hon. Gentleman the Member for Central Bradford (Mr. Webb) in his speech yesterday. He sought to argue, I think more to convince himself that he was doing right than anything else, that because the composition of the Second Chamber was defective, the curtailed powers which were provided for in this Bill ought to be enacted. But that argument on further analysis does not bear any more weight than the first, because either the powers which are conferred by this Bill are considered proper to be given to a Second Chamber or they are not. If they are not considered proper to be given to a Second Chamber this Bill ought to be rejected and all the powers ought to be taken away. But if they are proper to be given to a Second Chamber then that Second Chamber ought at the same time to be armed with a composition entitling it and enabling it to carry out the powers conferred upon it. Precisely because nobody has pretended that such is the case, one is driven to condemn this Bill as an unreasonable Bill and one which is not even, in my submission, put forward in good faith.
I turn now to some of the arguments in favour of this Bill put forward by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite. Here I think to some extent I can be brief. There are four arguments which have been presented, and only four. All have been answered at length in the course of the discussion but all of them are susceptible of a short answer and to my mind an answer which is completely conclusive. The arguments were, first, that the House of Lords is a hereditary Chamber and that, therefore, it is not a suitable body to exercise to the full the powers conferred by the Parliament Act and that this Bill, which curtails those powers, is therefore one which it is reasonable for this House to pass. The second was that the House of Lords has always been a Conservative body and therefore ought not to be allowed to exercise its existing powers but ought rather to have the amended powers proposed by this Bill. The third argument 745 was that the Bill is designed to avoid a clash between the two Houses in order to avoid the use of the powers of the House of Lords in such a way as to provoke a constitutional crisis. The fourth argument was that it was wrong and intolerable that in the fourth and fifth Sessions of a Parliament the House of Lords should interfere with the decisions of this House.
I think that is a fair summary of the arguments which were put. All of them, true and false, depend upon this assumption for them to have any weight in this discussion. That assumption is that the powers which are given by this Bill, retained by this Bill or actually conferred by this Bill, are such as could be tolerably used by the House of Lords, tolerably left with the House of Lords in any circumstances other than that the Government trust the House of Lords not to misuse the powers which they are given. But that is not so.
What are the powers which are left with or conferred upon the House of Lords by this Bill? It is true, of course, that under this Bill, if it be passed, the House of Lords could reject one after another all the controversial Measures, and indeed the uncontroversial Measures as well, proposed by a Government in the course of a Session and so delay them for a year. It would, I suppose, include the Army and Air Force Act as well as any controversial social legislation. They have that power now. They will have that power under the proposed Bill. The use of that power whether as it exists at the moment or as it would exist if this Bill were passed is quite sufficient to reduce the whole apparatus of government in this country to a nullity. They have the power to reject each one of the Statutory Instruments which are passed forward and which form an absolutely indispensible adjunct of government. They could reduce by that means alone, without refusing to pass a single Act of Parliament, the whole business of government to nullity. They could fail to give their assent to such Statutory instruments as require a positive Resolution of each House—and these tend to be the most important—and they could thereby reduce the exercise of government in this country to a nullity.
746 I hope that they will not misuse their powers in this way. I hope that nothing that I say will be traduced or misrepresented as an incitement to do it. But, Sir, the Government are in this dilemma—a dilemma which I think they are bound to answer before this House seeks to pass this Bill on Third Reading. Either the House of Lords is to be trusted with legal powers beyond those which one expects it to use, or it is not. Either ultimate sanction and ultimate acceptance of the House of Lords depends upon trust that they will behave like responsible statesmen in Great Britain, or it does not. If it rests upon that, this Bill is absolutely unnecessary. It serves no useful purpose whatever. But if it does not rest upon that then it is wholly objectionable because it affords no reasonable guarantee whatever that the House of Lords will not behave in such a way as to render the position of a Government intolerable.
Either the Bill is unnecessary if we trust to honour and to the constitutional conventions which have so far served us or it is objectionable if what the Government are claiming is a constitutional and legal guarantee, because it affords no constitutional and legal guarantee at all. What the Bill in fact does is not to avoid two possible sources of friction between the Houses. It is not to avoid any of the anomalies to which hon. and right hon. Gentlemen have drawn attention during the course of the Debate. What the Bill does is to curtail the legitimate use of the powers of the House of Lords—the power of the House which even hon. Gentlemen opposite, or some of them, would like to see it exercise from time to time, namely the power of revision and delay of legislation.
I am bound to add this special note about one or two of the individual arguments which I have enumerated. The Home Secretary, complaining that the House of Lords is a hereditary and Conservative body, did not deal with the real alternative before the House and the country at present though I think my hon. Friends replied to him conclusively yesterday. The real alternative is not between this Bill and the existing law. It is between this Bill and the law as it could have been made and ought to have been made after the result of the inter-party conference had been arrived at.
747 I must add another special note about the argument to which so much importance was attached in the speeches of the Government yesterday. That is the argument concerning the powers of the House of Lords under this Bill and under the existing law in the fourth and fifth Sessions of a Parliament. It is a pure delusion and a misrepresentation of the facts that, either under the law as it is or under the law as it would be, the House of Lords has any additional powers whatever in the fourth or fifth Sessions to what it has in the first or second Sessions of a Parliament.
It is, of course, true that the House of Lords, if it misuses its powers, can reduce Government to nullity in the fourth or fifth Sessions of a Parliament. So it can in the first and second Sessions. It is true under the existing law, it is true under this Bill; they can still do it. It is also true that a Government, enraged by the legitimate or illegitimate use of their powers by the House of Lords, can advise His Majesty to dissolve Parliament and chance their arm in a General Election. That they can do during the first and second Sessions of a Parliament, or in the third, fourth or fifth Sessions. They can do it under the existing law, and they will still be able to do it. But it is not true in any way that the House of Lords, either in the first or second Sessions or in the fourth or fifth, either under the existing law or under this Bill, is able to advance by a single day a General Election in this country. On the contrary, if it were advanced, then it would be advanced as the result of a deliberate choice by the Government.
Nor is there the smallest import to be attached to the special argument which was introduced at this point by the Lord President. The right hon. Gentleman referred not merely to Bills within the election mandate of the Government, but to new issues which might arise requiring unforeseen action. I find it absolutely impossible to understand to what the Lord President was referring when he used that argument. If he was referring to some sudden crisis, I can only say that it would be a very peculiar crisis indeed which could be effectively dealt with after a delay of one year but could not be effectively dealt with after a delay of two years.
748 If, on the other hand, he was meaning something which was not critical, then I fail to know why the suggestion that there is any special providence in the fourth of fifth Sessions of a Parliament, rather than in the first or second, which would suddenly put it into the mind of the Government to introduce legislation which was not in the election programme and which could not safely be delayed for some 12 months, but which could be safely dealt with over a longer period. If it is intolerable for the House of Lords, in its present composition, to interfere with the Government during the fourth or fifth Sessions, it is no less intolerable that it should interfere with the powers of the House during the fifth Session. If the argument has the smallest relevance or weight at all, the effective powers as left by this Bill are no less than the powers as they exist without it, and there can, therefore, be no substance or weight in that argument whatever. The only circumstances in which under the existing law rejection by the House of Lords of any Government Measure could prevent the passage of that Measure into law or even ultimately delay it beyond the period of the Parliament Act by a single minute, would be if, in a General Election taking place by reason of the operation of law and not as the result of the right hon. Gentleman's advice to His Majesty, the right hon. Gentleman lost that election. In that event, it is surely repugnant to democratic conscience that the Government should be asking us to pass legislation the only purpose of which can be to get into law, before the people have a chance under the five-year Act to deliver their judgment upon it, one or more controversial Measures which, if they did have that chance, the people would reject. That is the only possible effect of the provisions of the Bill which we are now discussing. I have yet to learn that any other possible effect has even been suggested except that with which I have endeavoured to deal.
It is thus the case that when all the constitutional arguments are examined, and they must and ought to be examined in a matter of this importance, the issue between the parties is fundamentally a simple one. The right hon. Gentleman and certain of his colleagues has suggested again and again during the course of these Debates that this House 749 of Commons is always, at all times and in all circumstances, the only body which is ever fit to interpret the will of the people. That is the claim underlying this Bill, and that is the only principle upon which it can be justified. It is a principle from which I must say we profoundly differ.
Hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite pay lip service to the principle of popular sovereignty. "The people's will," they say, "must be law, but we are always the only people to tell the world what the people's will is." There is ample precedent for such an attitude. It was the view of Hitler: "Das ist Recht was dem Führer gefällt. [Interruption.] The hon. Gentleman below the Gangway evidently believes that two wrongs make a right. I hope the right hon. Gentleman opposite will try to answer my argument. I will not yield to the right hon. Gentleman in my respect for and devotion to this House or the principles of the British Constitution. I must remind him that in some matters in which the parties as such were not at variance with one another. I led many of his supporters into the Lobby against him on a more exacting view as to what the devotion of hon. Members to this House demanded.
I must say this in all sincerity. I have been a student of public affairs in this country all my adult life: I have never known a Government, a party majority or even a Member of Parliament that was fitted to decide when he or they had lost the confidence of their constituents. No one is a good judge in his own cause. No one is less fitted than a Government to decide when it is no longer popular; no one is less fitted than a Member of Parliament to decide when he is no longer loved by his constituents. In this land, we have many features of our constitution to which I am devoted. One is the electoral system, the system which gives the party which wins the election a greater power than is given in any other civilised land. Another is the unlimited power of this House to alter the law in whatever direction it pleases. I approve of these things, but, if the law be such that this House of Commons and this Parliament has the right to alter the Constitution after being elected on an electoral system which gives that power to a majority then we on this side claim that it follows, as surely as night follows 750 day, that we must put into the Constitution some compensating factor which will prevent that majority and that House from being a despotism of elected dictators.
That, it seems to me, is the issue raised by this Bill. Which of the two views of this House of Commons and of the two views of the sovereignty of the people is ultimately going to be accepted here—the view put forward in support of this Bill by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, or the view put forward against this Bill by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen on this side of the House?
Are we to accept that view about this House which has been traditional, which has been upheld through the centuries, under which it has never been allowed to become an assembly of elected dictators, with untrammelled powers, and under which our affairs have gradually developed until it has become the established doctrine that it is the people and not Parliament which is sovereign in this country—not sovereign only at stated intervals, but sovereign really, and all the time? Or are we to reject that view and to choose in its stead the view now put forward by the right hon. Gentleman, the view of Hitler, the view against which Burke in his time fulminated to such effect, that the elected Chamber is nothing but a body of elected dictators, that the power of the people is limited to occasional interventions at stated intervals, when after a discussion for a few weeks it is permitted to elect a new House, the Members of which will become not the representatives of the people, but, to use the phrase of the Attorney-General of England, the new masters of the people who will then be free to do, without control from any other organ of the Constitution, whatever they will to decide what is right, to decide what the people want, and, above all, to decide what they think is good for the people?
I fear, too, greatly, that it is the latter theory which is enshrined in the provisions of this Bill. If it is, it will not be for the first time that it has been put forward in this Parliament. Actually, it emerged first in 1945 when we were greeted with the proposition that no old-fashioned rules of procedure were to permit a minority to delay what was described as the mandate of the people. It emerged again when we were told that 751 whatever was contained in the election programme must be passed without discussion according to the timetable. Somewhat inconsistently it has emerged again in support of this Bill—
§ Mr. Turner-Samuels
Is it not really time, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that something was done about the hon. Gentleman's speech, which is absolutely irrelevant to any provision in the Bill?
§ Mr. Hogg
I regret that the hon. and learned Gentleman should have departed so far from the traditions of this House as to seek to interrupt my speech at the moment when he must have seen that it was reaching its conclusion. But it is not going to now. That theory has emerged again during the Debates in this House, somewhat inconsistently I think, when we were told that Measures may now be proposed which were not contained in the election programme.
§ Mr. Hogg
I am not raising them except by way of illustration. We are entitled to examine the provisions of this Bill and to criticise the arguments put forward in favour of it, and even at this stage, I am still putting forward criticisms of the argument which the right hon. Gentleman has sought to assert as being the whole principle.
§ The Lord President of the Council (Mr. Herbert Morrison)
On a point of Order. Is it necessarily in Order that, because I made observations on Second Reading, when the Debate is wide—I do not mind this at all so long as all of us can go wide—the hon. Gentleman can reply to a speech which I then made, when the rules of Debate and the scope of Debate are totally different from what they are on Third Reading?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
Clearly not. If the hon. Gentleman is replying to an argument on Second Reading, that argument must be one which has regard to the contents of the Bill. If it has regard to the contents of the Bill, it is in Order; if it has not, it is out of Order.
§ Mr. Henry Strauss (Combined English Universities)
I submit that what my hon. Friend was saying was strictly relevant to the proviso which begins at line 20 on the first page of the Bill, and contains the retrospective provision under which various Measures can be enacted.
§ Mr. Hogg
I venture to submit that I am putting forward a criticism of what the Lord President of the Council stated was the principle of this Bill, the very issue between the parties on this matter. That he should attempt to close my mouth at the present time proves that he is an optimist. But it also illustrates, to a fine degree, the amount of importance he attached to the principle which he described as being the principle of the Bill. His principle is, and it has been asserted again and again—if it were only the right hon. Gentleman who was asserting it I should not have singled it out for special attention, but it has been used again and again during these Debates as the whole issue between the parties on this Bill, for instance, by the hon. and learned Member for Llandaff and Barry in his speech last night—that it is the House of Commons, in all circumstances, which is the only proper interpreter of the will of the people. That is what they claim by the principle on which this Bill is founded, and it is that view which I challenge.
Let us test it by experience and in theory. When this view is challenged in the Press, as it sometimes is, the Press is assailed and subjected to obloquy as the most prostituted in the world. When it was apparent that some Measure was proposed, which was objected to by public opinion, we were told by the hon. and learned Member for Northampton (Mr. Paget) that public opinion was not the test, that we were representatives and not delegates. When the Archbishops of the Church of England begged the Government to withdraw this very Measure because of the evil it would cause, they were told that the Church must not meddle with politics. When, not very long ago, the judges made intervention—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
The hon. Gentleman is certainly out of Order now. I must ask him to confine himself to the contents of the Bill.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
The hon. Gentleman will only be in Order if he deals with the contents of the Bill. The fact that on some other occasion someone said something which the hon. Gentleman feels himself compelled to deal with does not put the matter in Order.
§ Mr. Hogg
I am not seeking to do so. But, whether on Third or Second Reading, it is, in my submission, a totally novel doctrine that one is not allowed to attack the whole principle of the Bill. Either this principle which the right hon. Gentleman asserted is the principle of the Bill or it is not. In my submission, I am entitled on Third Reading to discuss the principle, and either to agree or differ as to whether it is the principle of the Bill. To attempt to deny my right to do that is to attempt to preclude and curtail the whole discussion on Third Reading.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I do not know what the hon. Gentleman means by that observation. He has occupied the time of the House for over an hour, and I have been exceedingly indulgent to him.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
The hon. Gentle. man has thought it right to make a reflection on the Chair. I take exception to that, and the hon. Gentleman should withdraw it.
§ Earl Winterton
Further to that point of Order, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. You said that my hon. Friend has occupied the time of the House for a long time. Am I not right in thinking that the time which my hon. Friend takes is entirely his business and not the business of the Chair?
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
The noble Lord will remember that the hon. Gentleman said that by interrupting him I was precluding him from continuing his speech. My observation, therefore, was perfectly proper.
§ Mr. Hogg
No reflection on the Chair was intended, even if that was understood. About 10 minutes ago I was embarking on what was intended to be a peroration which might have lasted two and a half minutes. The time of the House has now been taken up for 15 minutes in discussing whether that peroration of two and a half minutes ought or ought not to have been delivered. Most of it has been delivered and I. therefore, propose to conclude with one or two finely rounded sentences, if I may be permitted to do so.
I would remind the House of a warning which I gave in the earliest meeting that we had. I say that if democracy is destroyed in this country it will not come by any violent overthrow of our Constitution, it will not come by marches of storm troopers in the streets. It will come by a back door, when a party majority learns to use its power as a means of suppressing opposition and when a party boss, weeping crocodile tears over what he proposes to do and mouthing hypocritical compliments on the traditions which he is in the process of destroying, decides to pervert the procedure of Parliament and undermine its authority in such a way that towards the Government it becomes a servile Reichstag but towards the people an uncontrolled and despotic master.
The noble Lady the Member for Anglesey (Lady Megan Lloyd George) yesterday asked us what we meant by national unity—[Interruption.]
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I cannot conceive that that can have any relation to the Third Reading of this Bill.
§ Mr. Kirkwood (Dumbarton Burghs)
What I said was, "Herbert does not believe a word you are saying."
§ Mr. Hogg
Who Herbert may be or what Herbert may think is, I am sure, something which is not in the Bill. I rather doubt whether you will allow me to discuss Herbert any further, Mr. Deputy-Speaker. It is not evidence. What I was about to say was simply that 755 the Bill comes at a time which is singularly unfortunate in the history of this country. We believe that its provisions divide the country at a time when unity is needed. The noble Lady asked us what we meant by that, and asked what contribution we were prepared to make towards that unity which we think is attacked. The answer is simple. We can offer what we have and what hon. Ladies and Gentlemen opposite have. We offer our lives for our country. But we will not abandon our principles, and we will not jettison our intelligence, because those principles and that intelligence we owe to our country not less than those lives which we gladly offer.
We sincerely believe that the reasons which we have advanced make this a bad Bill. We sincerely say to hon. Members opposite that even if they are not personally convinced by those reasons, we regard them as reasonable and we beg hon. Members opposite to think twice and thrice before embarking at this time upon an era of party controversy, which could easily have been avoided, in favour of a Bill whose provisions are not merely inherently vicious but about which it has not been proved that there is any over-mastering urgency and which, while remedying none of the genuine grievances it is supposed to redress, must he held to attack one of the main bodies of organised opinion in this State which may be fighting for its life before we know where we are.
§ 6.16 p.m.
§ Sir Richard Acland (Gravesend)
It is always interesting to listen to the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg). He succeeds in working himself up into such an extraordinary state of indignation, but he always seems to me to be blind to the most obvious realities which could be seen by anybody who did not look at the thing through glasses quite obscured by party prejudice. I have risen only as a result of listening to the last half-hour or so of his speech to say very briefly that the peroration—which I agree was interrupted but which lasted for some 25 minutes—focused round one single question: Are we to accept the view that the House of Commons is going to be a body of elected dictators?
I only want to ask him one question, because amongst his many and varied ex- 756 periences he has never had the experience of opposing a Conservative majority in this House and, therefore, he does not know what it is like. What on earth is this House of Commons except a body of elected dictators whenever the Conservative Party has got a majority in it? I believe that I could reply in only three minutes to the speech which has lasted for an hour and a quarter, by saying that the Labour Government are asking that, when we have a majority, we should have for four years what the Conservative Party always automatically has for five years whenever they are in a majority. It seems to me that no more need be said in answer to the very long oration to which we have just listened with such interest and attention.
§ 6.18 p.m.
§ Mr. Wingfield Digby (Dorset, Western)
; The hon. Baronet the Member for Gravesend (Sir R. Acland) has grossly over-simplified the issues which are before us. If it were really such a simple question as he says it is, I should certainly not attempt to weary the House at the moment. It is not simply a question of adjusting the balance between the two parties, as he seems to suggest. This is a question of the greatest constitutional importance for the future of this country, unless of course he takes the view that the Constitution of this country is of no importance.
I think one of the objections which can be put forward to this Bill can be summed up in words used as long ago as 1910 by Lord Balfour, when he complained of the Parliament Act, 1911, that the Bill "neither ends nor mends." I think in those words we have a summary of the objections of many of us on this side of the House today. The Bill neither ends the old House of Lords in favour of another type of Second Chamber, nor does it make any attempt to mend the existing relationship between the two Houses, which hon. Members opposite complain are unsatisfactory.
The question of the suspensory veto is not one which can be judged by the mere alteration of the length of time, by quoting two years against one year or one and a half years against six months, because I believe the implications of this suspensory veto go very much further than that. The corn- 757 position of the House of Lords remains thoroughly unsatisfactory, we are told by hon. Members opposite, and yet last night we heard the Home Secretary say, in effect, "We do not think the present composition is good; we think it is bad; but we will entrust to the bad composition powers as full as those we are prepared to give to any Second Chamber, however good." That would be a most amazing proposition if it had not come from the present Government. That you are prepared to give as wide a power to something you conceive to be bad as to something you conceive to be the best, is to my mind a most extraordinary way of approaching any problem of Government, and especially a constitutional problem.
There is no doubt that there is here a big issue which the Government have refused to face. In those Debates of 1910 and 1911, Mr. Asquith never attempted to deny that the question was one which was not finally solved by the Parliament Act of 1911. If I may quote his words, he said:The problem, therefore, will still remain a problem calling for a complete settlement, and in our opinion that settlement does not brook delay."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 29th March, 1910; Vol. 15, c. 1166.]He spoke those words in the same year as that in which I was born, and still we are no nearer a settlement today. I know there may be some criticism of Governments between the wars for not bringing about reforms, but those reforms which were suggested were bitterly opposed by those on the benches opposite. What we are discussing now is the attempt by the benches opposite, now that they have the opportunity, to provide that reform. They have completely failed to provide it.
In my view the issues before us are even graver than some hon. Members appear to have appreciated. This evening we are not only changing the Constitution, but in addition we are changing the way in which the Constitution is changed, because we are a sovereign Parliament—we have a sovereign Parliament in this country—and that Parliament has the right to make future changes. What we are, in effect, doing is cutting down the length of time in which our Constitution can be changed, however fundamentally, from a period of a year and a half to a period of only six months.
758 We know that the Government is not very pernickety about this kind of constitutional question. They seem to imagine that this country is proof finally and for ever—I hope they are right—against the kind of extremes which are so prevalent in the world today. In fact, some of the Members of the Government have themselves, in their more irresponsible days, before they took office, used words which suggest that they had in mind very fundamental changes in our Constitution, some of which would have the effect of diminishing the liberties of the people. The Prime Minister once wrote something about "local commissars." He said he was not frightened of the Russian analogy. I believe the bulk of the people of this country would be frightened of the Russian analogy in that connection.
As a result of this Bill we have reached the position whereby a bare House of Commons majority is able, at the end of six months, fundamentally to alter the laws under which we live, to alter the Constitution under which we live. I think I can go even further than that. Times have changed very much since the days when hon. Members of the House of Commons voted without considering their party allegiance. The days are now long forgotten when Pitt, then Prime Minister, could come down and deliver a strong speech in favour of the abolition of the slave trade, could be voted down without any question of resignation—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Mr. Hubert Beaumont)
The hon. Member seems to be getting wide of the Bill we are now discussing.
§ Mr. Digby
I was trying to give an illustration of the effect which this Bill will have on the power to amend the Constitution. It is undoubtedly the case that under this Bill after six months this House will be able to bring about fundamental changes in our Constitution—changes which in countries abroad can only be brought about with the most complicated safeguards of machinery. For example, in the United States of America no change in the Constitution is possible unless initiated by two-thirds of both Houses of Congress or three-quarters of the legislatures of the States. The provision in the case of Norway is even more stringent. In that case the Storting must not only publish the Amend- 759 ment proposed to the Constitution but it must then hold a general election. Even then, a two-thirds majority is needed after the general election and, finally, the principles of the Constitution must not be contravened. That is a very different operation from the mere securing of a party majority in this House, with the aid of the party whip. The decision may be that of a majority which is only a small one and which may not, even at the time the decision is taken, still represent the opinion of the people.
There is no reason that I can see in this country—and I hope I am wrong—why a majority of this House should not sweep away in one Bill or a series of Bills all representative institutions, with only a delaying power of six months in the House of Lords. Why, even a Hitler might have patience to wait six months and do the thing constitutionally. In my view this is removing the safeguards of the constitution to a very dangerous degree. It may be remembered that in the case of Norway, before any constitutional amendment can take place, the people must be consulted. In his farewell address to the people of the United States President Washington was very downright on this. He said:The basis of our political system is the right of the people to make and alter their constitutions of government. But the constitution which at any time exists, till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the people, is sacredly obligatory upon all.[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Hon. Members who say "Hear, hear," should consult their consciences as to whether they have in fact consulted the people upon this issue, as to whether it has been fully explained to them. I believe that it has been explained to them by only two chance lines in "Let Us Face The Future." We are here tonight making an important constitutional change, a change in the method in which our constitution can in future be altered.
§ Mr. Hector Hughes (Aberdeen, North)
Why does the hon. Gentleman say "two chance lines" in "Let Us Face The Future"? Does he not realise that "Let Us Face The Future" was a deliberate document carefully prepared, and put before the people as the policy of the party at the General Election?
§ Mr. Digby
I am very interested to know that, because, in that case, was it a deliberate deceit that the people were not told the House of Lords was to be reduced in power? This only strengthens my argument. It only strengthens my view that the party opposite have wholly failed in the duty, when undertaking a change in the constitution, to consult the people of this country.
§ Mr. Hector Hughes
May I draw the hon. Member's attention to the fact that the people were specifically told that in that document? I invite the hon. Gentleman to read it. He will find that that is so.
§ Mr. Digby
I do not think that anything the hon. and learned Gentleman has said has done anything more than strengthen my point, that there is no doubt whatever that there has been no attempt by hon. Members opposite either to explain this legislation to the people or to ascertain the views of the people of this country, as is proper, and has always been the case in the past when an important change was to be made in the constitution of this country.
We have in this country an unwritten Constitution. It is never very easy suddenly to introduce into such a Constitution, which depends upon custom and a number of other factors, something which is hard and written. That is exactly what the Government are trying to do tonight. It is true they are following the bad precedent of the Parliament Act, 1911, which this Bill amends. Nevertheless, it is a very difficult thing to do. It is not surprising, therefore, that they have found themselves in a series of dilemmas, such as the dilemma so ably pointed out to them by my hon. Friend the Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg), that although the powers of the Lords in respect of legislation are to be reduced they still retain enormous powers in the field of delegated legislation, so that, if they wished to take those powers seriously and use them, they could, whenever they wished, undoubtedly indirectly be much more embarrassing to the Executive than they would be by holding up one or two Bills, however important.
761 It seems to me that we cannot leave this issue without examining carefully the way in which the decision of the House of Commons is reached. It is absurd to suppose that the House of Commons is attempting, when it votes on any future amendments to our Constitution, to act as a body of so many individuals acting individually; because we know perfectly well that the party Whips will be present and that the party Whips, in turn, are controlled by the party bosses; so that, in fact, it is the Executive which is enforcing its will. It has been pointed out by modern constitutional historians that the initiative in legislation today rests almost entirely not only with the Cabinet, but with a few men in the Cabinet, backed, perhaps, by the party caucus outside; and that although the Members of this House are the repositories of the will of the people, at the same time they do act, in all the major issues which come before us, under the direction of the party caucus.
A good deal has been said in the Debates which have taken place on this occasion, and on the previous occasion when we had this Bill before us, about the dangers of Single Chamber Government. There is no doubt whatever that the present Measure brings Single Chamber Government very much nearer than it was before. I suppose that nearly every writer on the subject of constitutions has fulminated against Single Chamber Government. We are now very near a Single Chamber Government. We now have a Single Chamber in everything bar six months—a period which is hardly sufficient to be any safeguard. We have the authority of John Stuart Mill, who wrote very solid words on this subject. Cromwell himself condemned the Single Chamber, which he himself had put up. Let me remind the House that within four years after the House of Lords was abolished for the last time in 1649—within four years of that event—a number of very significant things happened. A new form of treason was created; a new court was set up which excluded all reporters; trial by jury was largely abrogated; and then, of course, a Single Chamber Parliament itself was abrogated in the end by the entry of Cromwell's soldiers. There is a warning of the danger of entrusting too 762 much power to the Executive. Yet, if there is anything we are doing tonight, it is strengthening the Executive at the expense of the other arms of government.
Burke once said that:no constitution can defend itself; it must be defended by the wisdom and fortitude of men.Very few voices have been raised—not one from the other side of the House—in defence of the Constitution tonight. That is because they believe that, in the present circumstances, it will be easier for the Executive to enforce its will and force through Measures which they did have in their party programme at the last General Election and, perhaps, other Measures, too, which were not in their election programme last time and which, if included in the next election programme, may lead to defeat. In other words, they would be able to defeat the will of the nation. That is what they are making possible, but they should reflect that no party remains in power indefinitely, and it is not wise to have powers of this kind put into the hands of Governments—powers not only to do what is the will of the people but what may not be their will at all.
Several hon. Members opposite have advanced the most extraordinary proposition. They have advanced the proposition for a permanent and irrevocable mandate. They believe that when the people have once voted for them, they can interpret the will of the people for five years, even against the greatest expression of popular opinion in the country.
§ Sir R. Acland
When the party opposite has won a majority, what is the instrument which restrains that majority or the Executive which is supported by that majority, from pursuing its will, however mistaken, for its five-year period? What instrument restrains the hon. Gentleman's party when in power?
§ Mr. Digby
I fully agree with the hon. Baronet, and that is why I want to see a new Second Chamber, because I believe that there should be a Second Chamber which is capable of restraining both parties. That has been the position of my party throughout the conversations which took place, and that has been the position which has been bitterly resisted by the party opposite, because they do not wish to have any trammels imposed on their mandate for five years. If the people change their minds, so much the worse for them.
I believe that there is a very great part to be played by the Second Chamber, and we have now reduced our own Second Chamber, which I agree is not the ideal one which I would wish to see, beyond what is reasonable and sane. Hon. Members opposite may remember, if I may give an illustration, that in 1814 there was in France a Second Chamber, which was perhaps despised beyond all other Second Chambers because it had been created by a dictator as one of his creatures. It was there for the outward form of a check or safeguard, and yet it was that, that other Chamber, which had been created as a mere creature by Napoleon, which to his surprise one day passed a decree overthrowing him, and three days later set up a Liberal constitution for France. The constitutional safeguard of the Second Chamber had worked despite itself.
That is but one example of the importance of having some check on the untrammelled power of an Executive. It can restrain the Executive when it oversteps the mark, and just as it was able to restrain that headstrong and powerful figure, so lesser and weaker Governments today stand in need of some check. Even if they did not, the time will come when the people of this country should be very careful to see that there is some additional check on the party bosses. By and large, the people of this country have not very much faith in the party bosses, and I believe that they would rather see within the period of five years, particularly towards the end of it, some check or restraining power which is able to form an idea of their real wishes and which is outside and not entirely controlled by any party caucus.
§ 6.46 p.m.
§ Mr. Hector Hughes (Aberdeen, North)
I am particularly glad to have the opportunity of addressing the House after the speech of the hon. Member for Western Dorset (Mr. Digby) because of his observations about permanent and irrevocable mandate. He suggested that the Government stand upon the mandate which was given to them in 1945 as a permanent and irrevocable one. The argument which was propounded by the hon. Member does not support his proposition, and I would not trouble to deal with it, were it not that that argument has been put forward in much more exalted quarters and has been given wide currency. I shall deal with it.
In my submission, the Bill does two things: first, it gives legal effect to a usage which has become an established constitutional custom; I propose to argue and, I hope, convince the House that it has been the custom of this country in recent years to limit the delaying power of the House of Lords to less than two years. Secondly, the object of this Bill is not only to give legal effect to that custom which has grown up, but also to give the people a guarantee against any future breach of it by the House of Lords. A contrary view was presented by Viscount Simon in an article which he contributed to the "Sunday Times" a few weeks ago. His great prestige, his literary style and his undoubted learning ensured that his article would get wide currency and wide publicity, and I think that it is right that there should be an opportunity for a categorical reply to his argument before the Bill leaves this House and goes to another place, where, no doubt, the same noble Lord will have an opportunity of elaborating the argument which he propounded in the "Sunday Times."
This Bill has been before the country for a considerable time, and not only have noble Lords in another place and Members of this House an opportunity of considering it, but also the general public have had an opportunity of weighing its potentialities. The argument which was put forward by Viscount Simon was in the following words:A new constitutional theory is growing up quite contrary to what previously prevailed and fraught with increasing danger to our liberties. This theory is that once a political party has gained a Parliamentary majority, 765 that majority may properly do whatever it likes with our constitutional structure, regardless of what the community as a whole may wish or think and caring nothing for the disturbance created in the balance of that constitutional machine.Let us examine the propositions involved in that argument. They are, in my submission, four. First, I suggest there is no such constitutional theory growing up as that which is put forward in the article by Lord Simon in the "Sunday Times." It is certainly not the theory upon which we on this side of the House act. The theory upon which we rely in this matter is not new; it is not fraught with danger; and it is, as I propose to show, a well-established theory. Secondly, we do not claim that a political majority can do as it likes, as has been argued by the hon. Member for Western Dorset, and as was argued by the noble Viscount in this article. On the contrary, we on this side of the House say that a majority is bound by its mandate; that we have a mandate to do this; that we are bound by it, and that in putting forward this Bill we are acting upon it.
Thirdly, in this article to which I refer the noble Viscount suggested that we are acting regardless of what the community may wish or think. The facts of the case do not show that. The facts show that the community supports this Government; it supported this Government at the General Election, and it has supported them at every by-election since. The fourth essential sentence in that paragraph is that which refers to the disturbance of the balance of the constitutional machine. That balance has been long settled; it is established by constitutional usage, and will be fairly maintained by this Measure.
I have said the Bill gives legal effect to established custom. I think the House will agree that all authoritative writers on constitutional law have laid down that the function of the House of Lords is to suspend and revise legislation, but not to frustrate it. Dicey said:The veto, at any rate since 1832, has been as a rule used by the Lords merely as a suspensive veto.Walter Bagehot took the same line when he said:Since the Reform Act the House of Lords has become a revising and suspending House. … The House has ceased to be one of latent directors and has become one of temporary rejectors and palpable alterers.766 The emphasis among authoritative constitutional writers is upon the temporary nature of the suspension or delay. In my submission—and I am supported in this also by constitutional writers—the word "temporary" must be reasonably construed, otherwise it becomes frustration. The evil to be remedied by the particular legislation may pass or alter, and it has been well said that justice too long delayed becomes injustice.
What is a reasonable period? Again I rely upon Dicey:The passing of the great Reform Act itself was delayed by their Lordships for somewhat less than two years, and it may well be doubted whether they have, since 1832, ever by their legislative veto delayed legislation really desired by the electors for as much as two years.This Bill, in my submission, gives effect to that practice of "less than two years." This Bill will limit the legislative veto of the House of Lords to the reasonable period which has been laid down by Dicey as "less than two years." So it will remove from their Lordships the power of frustrating the will of this House, the will of the people, by placing upon them a reasonable inhibition as to the duration of time for which they can delay legislation.
Why, it may be asked, should the House of Lords oppose this Bill? Or rather, not why should they oppose it but why, in fact, do they oppose it? Is it not reasonable to infer that their reason may be that they want to hold up some particular piece of Socialist legislation? It has been argued that the House of Lords has been very good and very considerate in the case of the legislation put before it by this Government. But the time may come when, during the last years of this Parliament, the power of the House of Lords may be exercised to defeat the progressive legislation of this Government. They will not say so; other grounds are put forward, and it is left to us to ask ourselves why they unreasonably, in the face of the good case which is put forward for this Bill, seek to oppose it in the way they are doing, not by putting forward cogent objections but by putting forward untenable arguments such as that to which I have, with respect to the noble Lord, referred as appearing in that article in the "Sunday Times."
767 In that article the noble Viscount continued:The proper working of our constitution depends on recognising that the British people govern themselves.We agree. The Government seek to govern the people from whom they derive their power, for the people, through the traditional channels of King, Lords and Commons. Too often in the past when the Tories have been in power we have had, in effect, single Chamber Government, and it was only when Labour was in power that we had, in effect, two Chamber Government. Now the people have expressed their wish; the people govern themselves through their majority, through their representatives elected to this House.
The noble Viscount continued in his article:A subsequent General Election frequently shows that during the latter part of a previous Parliament there has been a pronounced shifting of popular opinion, and it follows that the authority of Members of Parliament to express by their own votes the will of the people tends to wane as Parliament grows older.I am quite sure that the noble Lord who wrote those words would agree that there is no evidence of that in the present instance; there is no evidence of a shifting opinion; there is no evidence of a change in the will of the people; indeed, there is no evidence of a tendency to wane such as that to which he referred. On the contrary, the people have, at every by- election since 1945, been faithful to the views which they expressed at that time. So this observation in the article is just a generalisation—irrelevant to the particular need for this Bill in favour of which such cogent arguments have been put forward in this House.
How inconsistent are the arguments against the Bill, both in this House and outside, is shown not only by that article, but also by a leading article in the "Evening Standard" on 13th September. It stated, in the course of a long leading article, that:Parliament can learn a lesson from the trade unions. At Margate last week the preponderence of level-headed delegates defeated heavily a move to demand nationalisation of steel by decree. Let M.P.'s heed the warning and defeat doctrinaire determination in the House of Commons to nationalise at all costs.I quote that article because it is typical of the kind of misrepresentation which is 768 being put before the country in order to mislead the people as to the policy of the Government in this matter and as to the purport of the Bill we are now considering. What does this paragraph mean? It says that Parliament should learn from the trade unions, which implies that there is a division of opinion between Parliament and the trade unions in this matter when, in fact, there is no such division. The implication is that the Government intend to nationalise by decree, when this very Bill is an indication that the Government intend to adhere to the traditional mode and to nationalise by means of legislation in this House, which is very far from taking any steps to nationalise by decree. What actually happened at the T.U.C. Conference shows that that article is entirely without foundation.
§ Mr. Speaker
To discuss a Press article and what the T.U.C. Conference did, is getting a little far away from the Third Reading Debate on this Bill.
§ Mr. Hector Hughes
The article in question is discussing the nationalisation of steel in relation to this Bill, and I have quoted it for the purpose of showing that what it said is entirely without foundation as a criticism of this Government policy. However, I bow to that Ruling. Perhaps, however, I may be allowed to complete my observations by saying that the proposition of the T.U.C. for nationalisation by decree put forward by a minority was heavily defeated by the majority at the conference because the proposal was not in any way consistent with the policy of the Government in bringing forward this Measure. In my submission this Bill is a very moderate Measure. Well did the Prime Minister say that he could never understand why a Conservative Government should be given five years in which to govern and a Liberal or Labour Government only three years. It is to prevent this kind of injustice and to implement the people's will that this very moderate Measure is put forward.
§ 7.5 p.m.
§ Mr. Selwyn Lloyd (Wirral)
I feel that on one matter I shall have the support of Members on all sides, and that is that it is very difficult at this stage to find anything very new to say about this Bill; it is also very difficult either to persuade 769 or amuse—at all events consciously. But that is no reason for saying nothing at all, which is what the right hon. Gentleman did in moving the Third Reading.
§ Mr. Selwyn Lloyd
Although it is not for me to judge what would be in Order or not, there was so little in the right hon. Gentleman's speech last night which could be answered today within the Rules of Order that I think he would have done well to add something to which we could make a reply. Apart from the right hon. Gentleman's contribution, there was a lot of interruption from his supporters during the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg). We then had an intervention from the hon. Member for Gravesend (Sir R. Acland), the plain answer to which was the composition of the House of Lords, and finally the speech of the hon. and learned Member for North Aberdeen (Mr. Hector Hughes).
In regard to the speech of the hon. and learned Member, if the Home Secretary heard the beginning of it he must indeed have said, "God defend me from my friends," because the hon. and learned Member began his speech by saying that the sole purpose of this Bill was to give legal effect to an established custom. All this fuss about this extra Session and talk of the people versus the Lords, and that the Lords are standing in the way of the people's will, really comes down therefore to the simple question of giving legal effect to an established custom.
§ Mr. Hector Hughes
I am sure that the hon. and learned Member will not wish to misrepresent me. I did say that for the purpose of arguing that there should he no opposition to the Bill. The Bill is legalising an established custom which has been long in existence.
§ Mr. Selwyn Lloyd
That is exactly what I thought I said the hon. and learned Member said. I am certainly grateful for his intervention.
I thought that the case for this Bill was contained in "Let Us Face The 770 Future." The Socialist Party would not tolerate obstruction from the House of Lords. Now we hear that there has been no obstruction and the hon. and learned Member has made a strong speech in favour of the moderate way the House of Lords have exercised their constitutional functions. The matters I want to put before the House relate more closely to the actual provisions of the Bill than to some of the things which have been said. The first point I wish to mention is this question of the length of delay. It is consistently put to the country that the issue here is between one year and two years. Ordinary people would say, I think, that if the House of Lords had the power to delay for one year that is really enough. They will say that one year is a considerable time for any Chamber to have the power to delay legislation, and that it is not therefore altogether unreasonable to reduce the period from two years to one year.
But that is a complete misstatement of the actual facts, because, as has been pointed out already, if a complicated and controversial Measure is introduced in November, the probability is, that even if it is given the shortened discussion that the Government permit to complicated Measures and if there is a certain amount of passing of Amendments to and from another place, it will not reach its finalised form until the end of July. Then there are about two months' holiday so, in effect, the issue is between something like three months' delay and 15 months' delay. Instead of the Government attempting to reduce the period of two years to one year they are seeking to reduce the period from 15 months to three months, which puts the problem in a, totally different light. That should be made clear to the people who will ultimately have to judge this matter.
My next point is that the Government rest their case for the three months on two arguments. The first is the theoretical argument, which is applicable to all Parliaments, and the second is the practical one, which is applicable to this Parliament. Dealing with the theoretical argument, I would draw the attention of the House to some observations which the Lord President of the Council made in the Debate on 14th September. He gave this background to the Government's attitude to the powers of the Second 771 Chamber. Talking of the conference he said:The essential point on which that conference broke down was the issue of powers. What was that issue? The effect of the Parliament Bill with its period of delay from Second Reading of one year instead of two years and the two Sessions instead of three is to jeopardise the fifth and final Session of a Parliament. We did that with our eyes open. Some of my hon. Friends were not too happy about that, but we did it because we believed that a Second Chamber must have reasonable elbow room in which to discharge its tasks of revision, and that there must be reasonable time for all the exchanges to take place up and down the corridors on debated legislation, and for the public to express its views about these things."—[OFFICIAL. REPORT, 14th September, 1948; Vol. 456, c. 25.]It is clear from that statement of the Lord President that the Government have rejected the extreme views of the hon. Member for Cannock (Miss Lee) and the hon. Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Carmichael), who opposed the Bill on the ground that it does not go anything like far enough and declared that they are really in favour of Single Chamber government. The Government have rejected that view. They recognise these two tasks of the Second Chamber—of revision and affording time for public consideration.
As to whether this Bill permits of adequate time for revision, the House may not be aware of the amount of work which the House of Lords has had to do in this Parliament. For instance, on the Coal Industry Nationalisation Bill 91 Amendments were moved by the Government in that House, and seven Opposition Amendments were also accepted. On the Civil Aviation Bill 58 Government Amendments were moved and six Opposition Amendments were also accepted. On the National Health Service Bill 62 Government Amendments were moved, and 13 Opposition Amendments were accepted. On the Companies Bill 320 Government Amendments were moved, and 27 Opposition Amendments were accepted.
The classic case is the Transport Bill, on which 139 Government Amendments were moved, and 91 of the 228 moved by the Opposition were accepted by the Government. Members will recall that 35 Clauses and five Schedules of that important Bill were not considered at all by this House in Committee. On the 772 Town and Country Planning Bill 289 Government Amendments were moved in the House of Lords, and 47 Opposition Amendments were accepted. On the Agriculture Bill there were 76 Government Amendments and the Electricity Bill 107. That shows that the amount of revision which is done by the House of Lords has become very large indeed. If that scale of revision is to be practised in future, as, apparently, is to be the case under a Socialist Government, it is essential that adequate time should be allowed for that task.
May I also quote what the Lord Chancellor said about that task of revision? Speaking in the House of Lords on 8th June last, about the good work which had been done, he said:I take as examples the Coal, National Health Service, National Insurance and Industrial Injuries Bills, all of which came before this House in 1946. There were also the Agriculture, Transport, Town and Country Planning, Electricity and Companies Bills which came before your Lordships' House in 1947.I can understand the comments of Members opposite. It must be mortifying to them to have it pointed out how thoroughly the House of Lords did its work in revising this important legislation. The Lord Chancellor also said:I find that we have moved and carried 1,222 Amendments on those Bills alone. It is perfectly true that many of these (I do not know how many) were Government Amendments, and it is also true that many of the Government Amendments were put down to meet points which had been raised by the Opposition. Of the 1,222 Amendments which were carried only 57—that is, less than 5 per cent.—were rejected by another place. … What is most striking is that this House sent these matters to the other place, in order that the members there might think again; they thought again and in every case we ultimately accepted their second thoughts. I believe that the value of your Lordships' work has been immense and the fact that I have been enabled to keep many of your Lordships in touch with the experts has been of great value.
§ Mr. Selwyn Lloyd
If the hon. Member will do me the courtesy of permitting me to continue he will realise that that is the point of my argument. That task of revision has obviously assumed such formidable proportions that I was questioning whether the provisions of this Bill 773 will allow adequate time for that to be properly carried out. I hope people will remember that statement by the Lord Chancellor when they read all that has been said against the House of Lords in our previous Debates on this Measure, and listen to the speeches in the country made by hon. Members opposite.
I see that the Lord President has come into the Chamber, and apropos of the amending of Bills which have gone forward from this House it is interesting to contrast the extent to which that has been necessary with another of the right hon. Gentleman's statements on 14th September. He was rather condemning the 1911 Parliament, for he talked about things going on slowly and steadily in an easy going way. He said that a two years' delay was a possible doctrine in 1911 when Parliament legislated leisurely, and was not speedy and efficient in responding to the essential needs of the masses of the people. In view of that record of Amendments which has been required from the other House I do not think that he can possibly contend that this House has been speedy and efficient over the last three years in responding to the essential needs of the masses of the people of this country. As has already been pointed out by one hon. and learned Member, it is very much better when making the laws of the country to see that they are properly drafted and do not lead to endless disputes and litigation.
It is a curious thing to recall that our profession on the whole has always in a spirit of self-denial—[Interruption.] Certainly, and my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Gloucester (Mr. Turner- Samuels) will agree. As I was saying our profession does its best to see that there is no shoddy work done here.
§ Mr. Turner-Samuels
I do not know about self-denial, but there has been a lot of self-delusion in regard to this Bill.
§ Mr. Selwyn Lloyd
The hon. Gentleman speaks of self-delusion. It may be he has experience on that subject, but my point, which I think will be agreed to by other Members of the House, is that it is very much better to legislate properly if we are going to legislate at all, and if there is going to be apparent incapacity on the part of this House to send forward its Bills in proper form and if this immense 774 task is left to the other place, then it must be given adequate time to carry out that task. In a complicated Measure this process might be going on until July or August and after that there would only be a period of delay of two months in addition to the holidays. That I am convinced is not giving adequate time for the job of revision.
The next matter to which I wish to refer in the speech of the Lord President of the Council was his question as to why the House of Lords should be able to decide when to put the brake on. If any powers at all are given to the Second Chamber surely it must always be for that Chamber to decide when to exercise-those powers. That is absolutely inherent in the idea of giving the Second Chamber any powers at all, and that piece of the right hon. Gentleman's argument was I. suspect merely used for party political' purposes and to work up a prejudice against the' other place. If we concede, as he apparently concedes, the right in a Second Chamber to exercise the powers at all then it must be for that other place to decide when to use them. If the revising period is reduced from 15 months to three months or to put it at the highest against even from 18 months to six months, then on theoretical grounds a case has not been made out, because the House of Lords will not be given adequate time for the revising task to be carried out. The further complaint that some sort of initiative is left to the Second Chamber is false because under any system of a Second Chamber some initiative must be left to it.
Then we come to the practical argument which is applicable to this particular Parliament. The reason for the Measure which was put forward by the Home Secretary was that the next Session must be fruitful in legislation. That in itself was a very signficant expression. There was not much reference to administration. Apparently it was quantity not quality that was wanted. We had to have this vast mass of legislation put on the statute book higgledy piggledy no matter what its contents or merits might be in order to justify the continuance of our democratic institutions. I myself think the country is in fact sick and tired of the many laws that have been carried, and that it would be a good thing if there was a rest from this process of legislation.
775 The right hon. Gentleman went on to say that the Government had no intention of having the next Session's work put in jeopardy. How is it to be put in jeopardy if the Government is supported by the electors? The only circumstances in which the next Session's work can be put in jeopardy by any action of the House of Lords would be if the Socialist party lose the next General Election. When the Junior Burgess for Cambridge University (Mr. Wilson Harris) was speaking and was pointing out that the House of Lords had not obstructed up to now, there was a significant interjection by the hon. and learned Member for West Leicester (Mr. Janner) to the effect that they had not obstructed because they knew it would not be effective. The implication of that was that delay by the House of Lords would be effective from now on, and in fact the only circumstances in which it can be effective are if the Socialist Party loses the next General Election.
So we really come to the real reason for this Bill and the retrospective portions of it. The reason for it is that the Socialist Party have realised that their 1945 majority was an extraordinary fluke, and it is not likely to be repeated. They are determined to make one vast swoop and to rush everything they possibly can through this House whilst they have a chance. That is the only pre-supposition which makes this argument about jeopardy at all reasonable. If the country is behind them in these proposals—[Interruption.] The hon. Member keeps muttering, "This is not in the Bill."
§ Mr. Selwyn Lloyd
I think my hon. and learned Friend has supplied the answer, the hon. Member has not read the Bill. if the country is behind the Government's proposal at the next General Election, and if those proposals are confirmed then, there should be little difference made to the programme, because, as hon. Members so well know, the intervention of a General Election and the election of a new Parliament make no difference to the question of the three Sessions, and a Bill, after being introduced into this Parliament, can be introduced under the Parliament Act of 776 1911 into another Parliament. There would be very little Parliamentary time lost other than the delay imposed by the House of Lords. Again I say, the only circumstances in which Measures can be in jeopardy is if the Socialist Party lose the General Election.
We come now to consider the Measure about which so much has been said, the Measure to nationalise the steel industry, and the effect of the delay of two years upon that Measure. Can it possibly have any serious effect at all? Whether it is good to nationalise that industry is not a matter for debate now, but anybody with the slightest knowledge of it must know that it is a thing that must take many years to accomplish. We learn from the very illuminating speeches of the Secretary of State for War some of the matters affecting the nationalisation of the coal mining industry and the position of the Socialist Party with regard to the science of nationalising. Obviously it will take a very long time for that particular Measure to have effect and the difference caused by delay could not really prejudice the merits of that legislation. Both on theoretical and practical grounds, no case has therefore been made out for the Bill.
Upon the further matter of the retrospective Clause I submit that that Clause is contrary to the spirit of the Constitution. My hon. Friend the Member for Flint (Mr. Birch) made the point very clearly in his speech yesterday that one of the extraordinary things about the way we do things in this country is that a law altering the Constitution can be passed with exactly the same procedure as a law affecting only a few citizens. Therefore, to back-date a Measure altering the Constitution is contrary to the spirit of that Constitution. It is playing contrary to the rules and is another form of cheating.
The matter must have been perfectly apparent to the Cabinet, as men of vision and foresight, for the three years of the present Parliament. If they really considered that this was a matter which ought to be tackled they had plenty of time to bring in a Bill two or three years ago, in which case it would not have been necessary to put in the cheating Clause. The public should be made aware that this is an attempt to alter the rules of the game after play has begun 777 and that it is contrary to the spirit of the Constitution.
While agreeing that the composition of the House of Lords requires reform, we feel on this side of the House, first, that there must be ample time for the task of revision, particularly if the Guillotine is to be used during the Committee stage of the passage of a Bill; secondly, after three and a half years of a Parliament it may well be that the mandate has become stale. Circumstances may change. Electorates may have had experience of the evils of the earlier Measures in a party's programme. They may think, for example, that the results of nationalisation are not so hot that they want to carry on that process any further. In our view, because circumstances and opinions may change, an opportunity should he given for sufficient delay to ensure that the opinions of the electors are tested upon these further proposals.
As to the period, the point has been made already that, with regard to it being not easy to ascertain the views of the electors, it is extremely difficult because of shortage of newsprint and pressure upon the time of Members of Parliament, to put a complicated issue before the electors. That shows that a period of 15 months is not one whit too long. Therefore we feel that as the Act of 1911 has managed to survive for 38 years and to operate well for something like seven years under Socialist Governments, it has become a matter of established usage as the hon. and learned Member for North Aberdeen (Mr. H. Hughes) pointed out. In our view the Government would have done very much better not to waste all this time. They should have left well alone.
§ 7.34 p.m.
§ Mr. Turner-Samuels (Gloucester)
But for two minor points he made I would not have referred to the speech of the hon. and learned Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd). When he started, he said that there was nothing left to say in this Debate. With great respect, I think that the speech he made amply demonstrated that.
The first of his two minor matters was that the Government did not need to bring forward the present Bill because if it secured the support of the electors at 778 the General Election it would have renewed its Mandate and could then carry out its legislation. That was a most brilliant observation. What it means is that for nearly half the lifetime of a Parliament the House of Lords is to have power to throw out all the legislation that comes before it from this House. In point of time, it means that out of two Parliaments we lose nearly one. Therefore, the suggestion that the Government and the House of Commons would lose nothing by delay is a completely fantastic conclusion.
Another point that the hon. and learned Gentleman made was about the doctrine of retrospection. He knows very well that the point he made is completely false. The right hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. W. S. Morrison) who is here—the indications, from his activities at the moment on the Front Opposition Bench, are that he will reply later for the Opposition—also knows very well that the legal scope of retrospection has no bearing at all upon the provisions of this Bill. There might have been something in the hon. and learned Gentleman's point if the Bill had sought to catch something which had already happened before it was introduced, but in point of fact the operation of the Bill will only affect what in fact is to happen in the future. That is a matter which must be clearly noted and understood. It is wrong and inaccurate to say that there is any question, in that sense, of retrospective action in the Bill.
§ Mr. Selwyn Lloyd
I do not propose to argue the merits of the hon. and learned Member's point. He said that I put forward a point which I knew to be completely false.
§ Mr. Turner-Samuels
Perhaps I ought to modify that by saying that if he had applied his legal mind to the matter he would have known that the point he was putting was completely false.
I should like to turn for a moment or two to the speech of the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg), whose absence from the benches opposite at the moment I profoundly deplore. We had from him, quite characteristically, a torrent of words, but there was a notable drought of real argument. In fact, there has been a sustained condition of drought on the Opposition benches throughout the whole 779 Debate on the Bill. We all know why. It is because they have not one genuine or substantial argument that they could put forward against it—or if they have they have completely succeeded in keeping it to themselves.
The hon. Member for Oxford condemned the Bill out of hand. He just did not give it a chance. He made wide and irrelevant statements that totally ignored the true purpose of the Bill. He says no one is a good judge in his own cause. That is what the Bill seeks to vindicate, and it does it in this way. The Tory Party is not merely a judge in its own cause but a jury as well in what is to be the law for the fourth and fifth years of any single Parliament. What I ask is what divine dispensation has endowed the Tory Party with extra-electoral infallibility. That is precisely what it is claiming by the attitude it is adopting to this Bill. Indeed, it has that extraordinary power and endowment for the period of nearly half the lifetime of a Parliament.
What I ask, as a rational, reasonable, thinking person is why a small privileged body of men in a House which has no contact with the electors, has no mandate from the electors, has no responsibility towards the electors and has no popular authority at all, can be endowed with this extra-electoral infallibility for half the lifetime of every Parliament? What the Bill does—I am sorry that the hon. Member for Oxford is not in his place because it is just as well that he should know this—is to make an inroad into that absolutely indefensible doctrine. It says that no longer shall the Tory majority in the House of Lords be a powerful political and economic weapon of the Tory Party. What is wrong with that?
§ Mr. Turner-Samuels
Not a single Member on the benches opposite has faced that issue. I put it to the right hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury, when he replies, to meet that vital point why the permanent majority in the House of Lords should be allowed to be a permanent powerful political and economic weapon for the Tory Party. No attempt has been made to deal with that, but here is an opportunity, even if it is at the twelfth hour, for the House of 780 Commons to hear àn answer to that. The result of that weapon in the hands of the Tory Party and the House of Lords is that the House of Lords, although non-elected and unrepresentative, can defeat not only the legislation of the House of Commons but the mandate of the Government and the will of the electorate as well. In the last two years of Parliament the legislative word of the House of Lords is final. Its action is sacrosanct. No one can do anything about it. Its veto is absolute. What makes it all the more unwarrantable as well as glaring is that the House of Lords itself is completely politically insulated. It has no contact whatever with the public or the electorate. It does not have to answer for a single act that it does. It has no General Election to face. It does not have to make an answer to public opinion or the public at all in any way or at any time.
There is another point which should be registered. It has not been mentioned in this Debate but it ought to be stressed. Will anyone deny that the House of Lords is a partisan assembly? It is made up in the main of members of the Tory Party, and when I say "Tory Party" I say it advisedly. They participate in the party decisions and in the party's policy. That is an important point to remember. They are in the House of Lords not for the good of the public health, but in order to carry out the decisions of the Tory Party. That must be remembered. They are a political and partial body. In the last resort their decisions are politically biased. Their decisions are tinctured with the tactical and political requirements of their party. I am not complaining about that, but I say that a Tory majority has no right to wield in the House of Lords that permanent powerful position in which the Tory Party can defeat the Government and undermine the legislation of this House. After all, they have no mandate at all; they do not represent anyone but themselves, and they have no responsibility in any way to the electorate.
The hon. Member for Oxford said, Suppose the Government misuse the power given by the Bill? For the sake of argument let us concede that the Government might misuse it. The hon. Member likened that to the misuse by the 781 House of Lords of its powers. He said he could see no distinction in the two cases. But look at the vast difference. The Government has to go to the country; the House of Lords goes to nobody. The House of Lords is above Government and above the electorate. In other words, to be perfectly frank about the matter, it is a Tory Party dictatorship for half the life-time of every Parliament.
I intervened while the hon. Member for Oxford was on his feet because he was asking why the Government did not reform the House of Lords. I asked him what I thought was a perfectly proper and material question: How comes it that the Tory Party, in all the long years when they were in office and strongly upheld by a big majority, did not seize the opportunity to do exactly what the hon. Member for Oxford asseverates we on this side should now do? He referred to that question I put to him as a complaint. It is not a complaint; it is a fact. It is also a fact that the hon. Member did not attempt to give any answer to it because there is no reason for it except in this: Why should the Tory Party, which is undoubtedly the party of reaction, wish to weaken its most powerful weapon?
That is the reason, if the hon. Member wants the reason, why the Tory Party has not attempted to reform the House of Lords. It was because the House of Lords was always in the background so that when the Tory Party failed to get a majority in the House of Commons, at least it had this reactionary and anomalous institution at the back of it. The Opposition have been bleating and maundering about the reform of the House of Lords; it is not reform which the Opposition want but privilege and power, and they are getting that through one of their last remaining strongholds, the House of Lords. The present Bill is designed to prevent that. Looking at the Bill, as I am perfectly certain the hon. and learned Member for Wirral must have done, from a lawyer's angle, it really does not go very far in the way of any striking or drastic constitutional change. What does it do? It merely extends the principle already enshrined in the Parliament Act, 1911.
What the Parliament of 1911 decided was that the House of Lords should have a power to revise and to delay legislation but not to defeat and destroy it. 782 All this Bill is seeking to do is to apply the principle of revision and protection which operates for the first three years of a Parliament to the fourth year of that Parliament in order to achieve exactly the same result as is obtained by its application to the first three years. What drastic change is there in connection with that? No one on the other side has said anything about that angle. All they have sought to do, by wide and irrelevant arguments, is to vilify a Bill which is seeking to do no more than to vindicate the authority of the House of Commons and uphold the mandate of the electorate.
Both the hon. Member for Oxford and the hon. and learned Member for Wirral harped upon the question of delay. I quite agree that there should be delay, but who should control delay? My submission is that the proper House to control delay is the House of Commons and not the House of Lords. Quite apart from the Parliament Act of 1911, a substantial delay is obtained by the ordinary processes of Parliamentary procedure. First, a Bill has to be debated here and put through all its stages. I understand it is the argument of the other side that there are at times large Bills with many Clauses, and that these take a long time. They say that is why instead of twelve months sometimes there is only, in fact, six months delay. As I understand their point, it is that the public should have an opportunity of understanding the Measure and of expressing an opinion about it. It does not therefore matter in what way time is obtained as long as there is time for those purposes. Will anyone seriously argue that there is not sufficient time while a Bill is going through the House of Commons and also through the House of Lords and back here again, with another twelve or six months, for public opinion to express itself and to operate fully on any legislation dealt with by this House?
So far as public opinion is concerned, it is rather curious to hear it said that the House of Lords is the guardian of public opinion. I have said before that the House of Lords is not responsible to public opinion. It is the Government which has to be careful about public opinion, because the Government has to go back to it and its fate at a General Election, or even a by-election, depends 783 upon it. Incidentally, talking about public opinion, we have held every seat that went Labour in 1945 where a by-election has occurred since, so that if hon. Members opposite want the fiat of public opinion to be impressed upon every piece of legislation turned out in this House, they have it signed, sealed and delivered at every by-election as regards the whole of the Bills, passed by this House to the present date. The electorate have declared again and again that they support the legislation coming from this House. So far as the legislative processes in the House of Lords are concerned, there is ample time for examination, for criticism, for revision and for amendment. Therefore, on that score there can be no complaint.
One word about the fourth and fifth years of a Parliament. Nowadays the fourth and fifth years are just as vital, and may indeed be more vital, than the preceding three years. We have at last come to an era when we are trying to do some planning, and when the Government takes office now it has to produce a five-year plan. Indeed the mandate which we got from the electorate was based upon a programme which covered a five-year plan, so how can the coherence and connection of the first three years be separated from the remaining two? It is completely illogical and futile. It is essential to the Government, in order to carry out the remainder of its programme in the two years left to the life of this Parliament, that its Bills should not be absolutely vetoed by the present arbitrary power of the House of Lords. Therefore, it is absolutely essential that this Bill should be passed, and that the decision of the electorate should not be stultified or nullified.
In my submission, the purpose of this Bill is unassailable. It is right that the constitutional solecism to which I have referred should be removed, and if this Bill is passed, there can be no doubt that it will strengthen Parliament, it will balance the Constitution, and it will enrich the statute book.
§ 7.58 p.m.
§ Mr. Henry Strauss (Combined English Universities)
I confess that I find the last two speeches from hon. and learned Gentlemen opposite astonishing and a 784 little shocking coming from members of the legal profession.
§ Mr. Strauss
I can understand hon. Members opposite supporting this Bill, I can understand hon. Members disagreeing emphatically with this Bill and being shocked by it, but I cannot understand any lawyer not understanding its importance.
§ Mr. Strauss
If the hon. Member will be good enough to listen to me, I shall do my best to enlighten him. Our Constitution is something in which great men of all political views have taken great pride. The fact that it is for the most part unwritten does not mean that its provisions cannot be definitely ascertained or that they are unimportant. I believe that what is being done by this Bill inflicts a great injury on our Constitution, and I do not believe that it is possible today to foresee which party in the State will suffer most from that injury. Hon. Members opposite may find that they have been very short-sighted in thinking that by this treatment of the Constitution they have necessarily helped their own cause.
The hon. and learned Member for Gloucester (Mr. Turner-Samuels)—with several points of whose speech I hope to deal out of courtesy to him—said a great deal against the House of Lords. He made it out to be a thoroughly unsatisfactory and even an unworthy body. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I notice from the somewhat half-hearted applause opposite that there are some who agree with him. If that is their view, this Bill is not the remedy. This Bill does not get rid of the House of Lords. I could understand if that was the hon. and learned Member's point of view—
§ Mr. Turner-Samuels rose—
§ Mr. Strauss
Not yet; I will yield later to the hon. and learned Member, but I am sure he does not wish to interrupt my argument.
§ Mr. Strauss
I am perfectly willing to yield if the hon. and learned Member will say in what respect I am misquoting him.
§ Mr. Strauss
Perhaps if the hon. and learned Member is not prepared to interrupt on his feet he will keep quiet and thus conform to the traditions of this House. It might be an argument for reforming the House of Lords, or for abolishing the House of Lords. There are hon. Members belonging to the party opposite who have been honest enough to say quite frankly that that is the course which they would favour. That is a perfectly arguable and tenable point of view. I disagree with it entirely, but it is a view which can honestly be held, but it is not the view which is embodied in the provisions of this Bill. The Constitution is important and it may well be that hon. and right hon. Gentlemen may find their term of Office remembered far less for all its other legislation than for the outrages they have committed on our Constitution and on some of the conventions of the Constitution.
This Bill does two main things, as any study of its provisions will show. First, it reduces the period of two years laid down by the Statute of 1911 to one year and, secondly, it introduces a retrospective provision. I believe that both those provisions of the Bill are mischievous and bad, but, in order that hon. Members in whatever quarter of the House they sit, may follow the argument, if they are good enough to wish to do so, let me say what I think are the points on which we must make up our minds before we can judge this Bill at all. The first point is quite clearly whether we desire a Second Chamber. On that it is unnecessary for me to say anything at all, because the Bill assumes a Second Chamber and does not interfere with its composition.
The second point is, if we wish a Second Chamber to exist, what is the 786 nature of the functions which we wish it to perform? The hon. and learned Member for Gloucester stated that the House of Lords was not elected and was responsible to no one. What he omitted to notice was that, if it had been elected, it would necessarily be a very much more powerful assembly and one which would he much more likely to rival this House. That is no doubt why in the negotiations which took place shortly before the stage which we have now reached both the representatives of the party opposite and the representatives of my party came to the conclusion that that was not the sort of Second Chamber they wanted. The sort of Second Chamber they wanted and which I believe we all want, if we want a Second Chamber at all, is one which shall not rival this House at all. If that is to be the Second Chamber we all desire, what is the essential power which it must possess? Quite clearly, it is one power and one power only, the power of delay.
The hon. and learned Member for North Aberdeen (Mr. Hector Hughes) actually quoted a sentence of Professor Dicey, almost implying to the House that this was a Measure of which Professor Dicey might have approved. May I quote three passages again from Professor Dicey, rather more shortly than I quoted them on a previous occasion, which show what I believe to be the true doctrine regarding the House of Lords and the point at which it should yield to the House of Commons, passages which, I think. most will approve—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Major Milner)
I do not think that question arises on the Third Reading of this Bill.
§ Mr. Strauss
Needless to say, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, if that is your Ruling, I will not read the passages but may I put this to you before you make that Ruling? In this Bill, and throughout the argument of the last two speeches, we have had an argument of what is the right period of delay. If I show what is the doctrine of the purpose of delay, I think it is relevant to that argument and to the two speeches I am answering. The whole passage is only a paragraph and a half and if in those circumstances you think it in Order for me to read it, I should like to do so, because I think it will make the remainder of my speech 787 both clearer and more brief. Professor Dicey says:But as the process of representation is nothing else than a mode by which the will of the representative body or House of Commons is made to coincide with the will of the nation, it follows that a rule which gives the appointment and control of the government mainly to the House of Commons is at bottom a rule which gives the election and ultimate control of the executive to the nation. The same thing holds good of the understanding, or habit, in accordance with which the House of Lords are expected in every serious political controversy to give way at some point or other to the will of the House of Commons as expressing the deliberate resolve of the nation.A little later he says:The point at which the Lords must yield or the Crown intervene is properly determined by anything which conclusively shows that the House of Commons represents on the matter in dispute the deliberate decision of the nation.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I am sorry, but I do not think that matter is really relevant to the Third Reading of the Bill. The hon. and learned Gentleman seems to be dealing with general principles. There is only one question involved here; whether the period of delay should be one year, or two.
§ Mr. W. J. Brown (Rugby)
Inasmuch as the Bill tells us when the Lords must yield to the Commons, is it not proper for any hon. Member to argue when the Lords ought to yield to the Commons? Surely that is in the Bill.
§ Mr. Strauss
I did not think I was going further than was necessary to reply in particular to the hon. and learned Member for North Aberdeen, but I appreciate fully the difficulty of drawing the exact line and certainly, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I bow to your Ruling and will not give the third of my quotations, especially since it can be discovered by search in HANSARD of an earlier speech by anyone who is interested. That, I think, is the doctrine which most hon. Members, wherever they may sit, will think is the right doctrine. That is to say, we have three points. There is to be a House of Lords, it is not to rival this House, and it has to yield to the House of Commons when the definite will of the nation has been ascertained. That was the problem which confronted those who drafted the Act of 1911 which this Bill seeks to amend.
788 The hon. and learned Member for Gloucester has sought, as various other hon. Members have done, to draw a great distinction between the first three years of a Government's life and the subsequent years. It is perfectly true that contact with the nation at a recent election becomes more distant as a Parliament grows older, but the power of delay with which this Bill seeks to deal is exactly the same power throughout a Parliament's life. If two years is wrong in the last two Sessions there is no reason why two years should not be wrong in the first Session— [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] I am very glad that my point has so far been followed. There is nothing new in the last two years except the fact that in the legislative process, if a Measure has to be passed under the Parliament Act of 1911, a General Election may intervene.
That brings me to what is really the doctrine that separates the two sides in this Debate. There are those who think that a safeguard of adequate delay is essential and there are those who think, in effect, that there is no point whatever in it, and that any Parliament on being elected is entitled to enact anything that it likes with its Parliamentary majority for the whole period until another election becomes compulsory. I say that that is really to abolish the use of the Second Chamber altogether. Hon. Members may, of course, say that if the House of Lords went mad and did all sorts of things which on their own admission it has not done for as long as any of their political memories go—
§ Mr. Alpass
Certainly. May I support my interjection? What about their action in throwing out the Education Bill in the 1929 Parliament? After it had taken months to get through this House they threw it out in four hours.
§ Mr. Strauss
I was under the impression that an Amendment, which the Government of the day regarded as a wrecking Amendment, was moved and carried in 789 this House. I think I am right in saying that, but, if the hon. Member assures me that my memory is incorrect, I will not go into the details of that. I think the hon. Member will agree—I do not think any hon. Member can disagree—with what has been said in this Debate by Ministers, namely that there is no complaint about the House of Lords regarding what it has done in recent years.
Let me concede to hon. Members opposite that we do not know what it is going to do, that it may go mad and do something improper. I ask which is the more likely, that the Second Chamber may go mad and do something improper or that a Government may become tyrannical and that the public would then have no remedy. I do not wish to go into the argument, about which the hon. and learned Member for Gloucester said so much, as to the Government not having lost by-elections, etc. Suppose that were absolutely true—[An HON. MEMBER: "It is true."] suppose that the inference were absolutely true, that this Government at this moment were quite confident that whatever they did would represent the view of the nation. I do not accept that, but supposing it to be true, how does that affect what we are doing when we are making a permanent change in the Constitution? This change as proposed by this Bill will apply not only to this Parliament, it will apply to Parliaments which will be able under the provisions of this Measure, if it is carried into law, to do anything they like, notwithstanding that they have lost every by-election. I wonder if hon. Members desire to enact that.
Let me turn to the retrospective provision, and I hope that hon. Members will be good enough to give this matter really serious consideration—[Interruption.] I did not catch what the right hon. Member for Dumbarton Burghs (Mr. Kirkwood) was saying.
§ Mr. Kirkwood
I was saying that the Tory benches are empty, although the hon. and learned Member regards this as a matter for serious consideration.
§ Mr. Strauss
That often happens at about this hour on both sides of the House. I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for being in his scat and for listening. I come to the retrospective pro- 790 vision. The hon. and learned Member for Gloucester made the astonishing statement that there was no retrospective pro vision. I wonder what he calls a retrospective provision? If hon. Members would be good enough to look at the Bill they will find, beginning at line 5. the words:The Parliament Act, 1911, shall have effect, and shall be deemed to have had effect, from the beginning of the session in which the Bill for this Act originated. …How a retrospective provision could be enacted in clearer language thanshall be deemed to have had effect. …it is impossible for anybody to conceive.
While I am dealing with this point let me draw this matter to the attention, not only of any lawyer in the House, but of any student of our Measures who takes an intelligent interest, as all hon. Members endeavour to do, in the legislation that comes before us. I wonder how often they remember having seen in a Bill the words which will still remain in the Statute if this Measure becomes an Act of Parliament. I refer tothe Bill for this Act.Of course, they have never found it. On a previous occasion I instanced one Measure in which, in a quite different connection, I was able to discover these words, but they are so utterly exceptional that it may give any student of our affairs some idea of how unusual a thing we are doing. Let me give, as an example, not an iron and steel Bill which has been cited so frequently in the course of this Debate as something that might be done under the retrospective provisions; let me give another example more directly germane to the Parliament Bill. Under this retroactive provision, which starts at line 20 of this Bill, it would be possible for the Government to introduce in the next Session a Bill reducing the period of one year to one day. It would be possible, under the retroactive provision, to abolish to all intents and purposes the delaying power of the House of Lords altogether. [An HON. MEMBER: "Don't put ideas into our heads."] An hon. Member said, "Don't put ideas into our heads." I think that would be almost impossible, but anyhow I must take the risk.
I find myself in agreement with some of the statements which have been made 791 on the other side of the House as well as on this on the subject of mandate. I have never attached the importance to the doctrine of mandate that some hon. Members have. I am not, in this matter, going further than has nearly every other speaker in the speeches I have heard in the last two hours. I do not consider that any Government are entitled to enact a Bill irrespective of its merits, whether they put it in their Election manifesto or not. I agree further that, if the public interest demands it, they are entitled to legislate whether they have given an exact account of the legislation in their Election programme or not. There are therefore very definite limits to the doctrine of mandate.
But when we are revolutionising the Constitution as we are doing in this Bill, then the whole tradition of our public life has been to give the most careful notice to the electorate in advance. The noble Lady the Member for Anglesey (Lady Megan Lloyd George), whose speech so many of us heard yesterday, was wrong in her recollection of what preceded the principal Act of 1911 which we are now, if this Bill is carried, about to amend. The period of two years was not inserted to avoid the necessity for creating Peers. On the contrary. Even when the Liberal Government went to the country in the first Election of 1910, the main provisions of what subsequently became the Parliament Act were discussed. Later in 1910 Mr. Asquith was so scrupulous that he went to the country with the precise terms, or almost the precise terms, of the Act which he proposed, if returned, to carry. That was the care taken before the Act of 1911 was passed. What is the precedent which we shall be setting if we give this Bill a Third Reading? It will be that there is nothing that a Government with a majority in this Chamber is not entitled to do in altering our Constitution without previous notice to the electors.
Several hon. Members, in particular the hon. Baronet the Member for Gravesend (Sir R. Acland) said do we not in effect have Single Chamber Government when the Tories are in a majority in this House? The complaint comes somewhat curiously from those whose main complaint against the Tory Party is that they do not legislate fast 792 enough. It is odd to say that the Tories always spend five years doing practically nothing and then to complain in the same breath that the House of Lords do not stop them from doing it. It really is not quite so clever as hon. Members opposite seem to think. I should like to give many more examples, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, but I detect what may be passing in your mind, and I think that the fascinating argument which was in my mind, though entirely in Order yesterday, may not be proper today.
Therefore, if I may summarise the points which I beg the House to consider, let them realise that there are things like the common law, the principles of our jurisprudence, and the Constitution, which, in the long run, affect the happiness of the people of these islands far more than most of the legislation which even the best legislators carry through this House. There may be times when the Constitution and our fundamental laws need revision, but they should be revised with respect, and the revision should take place in circumstances that enable it to command the maximum of consent. This retrospective provision in a constitutional Measure is absolutely without precedent at all. Nothing of the kind has ever been done. Under that retrospective provision anything may be accomplished, and it is not possible by studying the terms of the Bill to discover what may be done under it.
It is literally true, as has been said by so many of my hon. and right hon. Friends, that this is altering the rules of the game while we are playing it. It is really cheating, and it is short-sighted cheating. I confess that I care a great deal more for the traditions and powers and greatness of this House than for anything that relates to the House of Lords. But I am convinced that the power of the House of Lords, the power of delay, with which it is now sought drastically to interfere, is a power of enormous value to every party in the State for ensuring the substantial identity of the legal sovereign, which is the King in Parliament, and the political sovereign, which is the people of this country.
That cannot be secured by any Chamber which is not checked at all by a Second Chamber exercising the power of delay. To say that the House of Lords can properly exercise this power of 793 delay which it has under the Parliament Act of 1911 is not to assert that it is a more representative body than this House. Nobody has ever said that. But it does mean that because it has got that power of delay it can ensure that in certain cases the real political sovereign, the people of this country, can be consulted and that therefore the legal sovereign can never become absolute or completely tyrannical. That is a matter of enormous value to us all and it is a great value which is being foolishly cast away in this Measure.
It is perfectly true that some hon. Members have described this Bill as irrelevant. It is, of course, irrelevant to the main matters which fill the minds of all of us and which will be the subject of Debate tomorrow and the next day, but, because a thing is irrelevant to the main matters that are and ought to be in all our thoughts, that does not mean that it is unimportant. The' "Daily Herald" was right this morning, though in a different way from what they imagined, when they said that what the Government were doing in this Bill had a direct hearing on other matters taking place throughout the world. It is true that if we in this country throw away constitutional safeguards and treat our Constitution with contempt we shall lose a great deal of our influence in the world. Hon. Members opposite by this Bill are throwing away what is a great national possession, namely the law and tradition of the greatest and the most long-lived Parliamentary institution in the world. They may think that it is mere chance that Parliamentary Government has so long survived and been efficient here. It is not. It is because people have shown a certain wisdom and a certain decency. It is because all those principles are now outraged by this Measure that I trust the House will reject its Third Reading.
§ 8.32 p.m.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire)
It may take some time for me to recover my composure after the sympathy I feel for the hon. and learned Member for Combined English Universities (Mr. H. Strauss), but I cannot pretend to follow him into the labyrinthine mass of jurisprudence. I would prefer to be regarded as an interlude or rather as an oasis in the dreary wilderness of constitutional lawyers to whom we have listened at very 794 great length today. The main criticism of this Bill is that which has been made by my hon. Friend the Member for Bridgeton (Mr. Carmichael) when he argued that it gave continued powers to the House of Lords and that it perpetuated this ancient institution instead of liquidating it. The hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg) asked us to try to think of what the protagonists in the controversy of 1911 would have thought of this Debate 30 years or more afterwards, and what they would have thought of us passing a Bill which recognises in perpetuity some of the inherent principles in the recognition of the House of Lords.
We have had many quotations in this Debate, I will content myself by giving a short one from one of the protagonists of that time, who was then the right hon. Member for Dundee. He expressed the view in a speech during that controversy, that a state of gradual decline was what the average Englishman had come to associate with the House of Lords. He continued:Little by little, we might have expected, It would have ceased to take a controversial part in practical politics. Year by year it would have faded more completely into the past to which it belongs until, like Jack-in-the-Green or Punch and Judy, only a picturesque and fitfully lingering memory would have remained.That is a quotation from the right hon. Member who was the then Liberal Member for Dundee. He was shortly afterwards a displaced person from Dundee and has been temporarily billeted in Woodford.
I fail to see why at this stage we do not take the opportunity to end completely this controversy with the House of Lords and to write the final note, "This controversy is now closed." Various Members have said, "That means the horror of Single Chamber Government." One hon. Member stressed the fact that no great constitutional expert had ever declared in favour of Single Chamber Government. I would draw his attention to the fact that innumerable constitutional authorities have done so—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
The question of Single Chamber Government is clearly not before the House at the moment.
§ Mr. Hughes
I was trying to answer the point made in the Debate by hon. Members opposite, but if I am out of Order I, of course, bow to your Ruling.
795 It was said in the Debate last night that Professor Laski has argued in favour of a Second Chamber. I wish to quote from a recent address by Professor Laski to show that he does not agree with giving to the House of Lords the powers contained in this Bill. Professor Laski has answered in advance certain of the arguments that have been used in the Debate this afternoon and which have been used in a previous Debate by the Leader of the House. I recall that in a previous Debate the Leader of the House rebuked me. He said that I was advocating a three months' power of delay instead of the twelve months' power of delay. That was what he politely and affectionately called Bolshevism gone mad. One of the latest terms of abuse is to call someone a Marxist-Leninist, but the Leader of the House described my point as Bolshevism gone mad. The following day in the "Daily Telegraph" he was hailed as the hero of the Debate. It said in great black type, "Mr. Morrison defends the House of Lords."
The point that was made by the hon. and learned Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd) this afternoon was that the House of Lords fulfills a useful function as a revisory Chamber. The hon. and learned Member made a very great point of this. He analysed the various Amendments which had been introduced in the place in order to make more effective the legislation last year. He quoted from the Lord Chancellor to show that no fewer than 1,022 Amendments had been passed by the House of Lords and accepted by this House. He quoted the various cases of the Transport Bill and the Coal Industry Nationalisation Bill—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I am sorry, but the hon. Gentleman is getting far beyond the contents of this Bill. He is dealing with other matters and going into history. The sole question before the House is whether or not this Bill coming before the House as it does in its present form should pass its Third Reading.
§ Mr. Hughes
I am merely pointing out, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that in your absence these arguments were used at very great length by the hon. Member for Wirral, and I suggest that if arguments are admitted by the Chair and are used by other hon. Members, one should at least be entitled to refer to them.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I am afraid I cannot admit that for one moment. I am not aware of what happened in my absence, but, quite clearly, the hon. Gentleman is addressing his remarks to the question of the abolition—if that be the appropriate term—of the House of Lords. I must, point out that that is not the question before the House at the moment; the question is whether the terms of the Bill at present before the House should be approved or not.
§ Mr. Hughes
I am addressing my remarks to the argument adduced this afternoon, that the House of Lords was a good revisory Chamber. I am not dealing with its abolition at all.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I do not think that question is before the House at the moment. Whether it is a good revisory Chamber or not is clearly not a matter for discussion on Third Reading.
§ Mr. Hughes
I am dealing with Clause 1, Subsection (3), line 5, of the Parliament Bill. I suggest that the implications of that are that certain revisory powers are, under this Bill, going to be continued as a prerogative of the House of Lords. I am arguing that this Clause of the Bill is an undesirable one. If you will allow me to continue, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, I will finish before long; I will not take up half the time that the constitutional lawyers took. I am putting the point of view of the man in the street; I want to deal with what has all along been adduced as the fundamental argument, especially by the Lord President of the Council, that we must continue the House of Lords for the purpose of having its expert revisionary advice.
What I am arguing is that the same work could be done by a small advisory body without all the power that is likely to be used in any future crisis by the Second Chamber. After all, the people who have done the useful work in revising these Bills are not the 800 Peers, but a small body of experts. Therefore, I maintain that the Government in not seizing this opportunity, are carrying on this controversy to a further stage. Instead of doing that, they should have grasped the nettle now and said to the House of Lords, "We have finished with the House of Lords and are opening up a new era in the British Constitution."
797 Finally, I want to quote one sentence writen by an eminent constitutional historian, Walter Bagehot, who said that the only cure for the House of Lords was to go and look at it. If the Labour Government will not abolish the House of Lords, sooner or later, television will.
§ 8.44 p.m.
§ Mr. Gage (Belfast, South)
There has been a large measure of agreement among many of the speakers in this Debate that the arguments for and against this Bill had been abundantly canvassed. It is for that reason that I, without any impertinence I hope, venture to intervene in order to try to clarify the issue now before the House. It seems to me that the House can approach what is in this Bill from two points of view. First it can be said—and it is a very legitimate thing to say—that the whole principle of hereditary membership of the House of Lords is bad, and that we dislike it. That is a view held not only on the other side of the House, but also on this side. I have never heard a more vigorous exponent of it than my hon. Friend the Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg). If that view is taken, then it is a good reason and a good argument either for abolishing the House of Lords or for reforming its membership. But it is no argument at all for doing what is in this Bill, namely, leaving its powers intact, but limiting the period of time in which those powers can be used.
Of course, one can take the opposite view which is not, after all, so very fantastic, that the hereditary principle is a perfectly proper one. Since I have been in this House I have learned—chiefly from the utterances of hon. Members opposite—that we who sit here are superior beings, invested with some kind of magic because we happen to be the elected representatives of the people. But—and here I rather join issue with the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes)—that may n-t altogether be the view taken by people outside who come and listen to our deliberations. They may not look at the House of Lords, as the hon. Member said; they may listen to the House of Lords and then come and listen to this House, and may feel that, after all, there is something to be said for hereditary membership.
I have listened to speeches made from both sides of the House in which it has 798 been said by the hon. Members making them that they represented the view of the people. If that is the case, then all one has been able to feel is heaven help the unfortunate people. That is the point of view one may take. If one does, then, obviously, one would not desire in any way to curtail the powers of the other place. The Government, recognising that, take up a third attitude. Their argument for what is in the Bill is that they must reduce the period because it puts the brake on them and prevents them bringing in the brave new Socialist world during the whole of their lifetime. Like Strephon in the Gilbert and Sullivan opera, we can have a splendid time passing every Measure we have a mind to, but in the last two years a brake is placed on us by another place. If that is the case, why take the step of curtailing the period to one year? Why not abolish it altogether? I cannot understand the logic of simply curtailing it by one year.
Surely, the real question is not the power of the other place to curtail a Socialist Government's Measures: it is the power of a Second Chamber to curtail the Measures of a representative Chamber, no matter what its composition.[HON. MEMBERS: "0h."] In order to answer that question hon. Members who say "Oh" should pose this question to themselves: if the composition of this House and the other House were different, if there were a Tory Government sitting here and a Socialist majority in the other place—something that is not so wildly fantastic, after all; according to the best information I have Socialist peers are on the increase; the days have gone when the solitary Socialist peer was something of a rarity would hon. Members opposite acclaim this Measure in the way in which they have done? [HON. MEMBERS: "Yes".] Well, if they would, they must then put the question in this way. They must say it is right that another place should have no power, or should at any rate have its power limited, to curtail the Measures that are passed here.
I do not want to put this in a partisan way, because I think that is what has been wrong with this Bill; it has been brought forward in a partisan way. But what hon. Members must then consider is: does not every Government, no matter what it may be, outlive both its popularity and its representation? After all, it is the old question of how long 799 should a Parliament of the elected last; that has been discussed over and over again—whether it should be five, seven or three years; it is exactly the same question put in a different way. Everyone who is honest on this matter will admit that a Parliament which is elected for five years, no matter what its composition, does begin, very often because it is the Government of the country—if for no other reason perhaps than that it has passed restrictive and unpopular Measures—to outlive its popularity. Therefore, it is wise that some place should have the power of at any rate curtailing the Government's right to legislate here.
Because this Measure has been put forward in a partisan way, because it has been put forward as "The House of Lords with a Conservative majority curtailing the operations of a Socialist Government," that every hon. Member—not only on this side of the House, but on the other side too—who is capable of clear and honest thinking should reject this Bill, and should reject it unhesitatingly, because great constitutional issues such as these should never be approached in a petty, partisan way.
§ 8.52 p.m.
§ Mr. John McKay (Wallsend)
I am very pleased to have an opportunity of taking part in this Debate tonight. We have heard many arguments upon this subject, and we have been told that nothing new can be said upon it. Well, new things have been said, although in the main they have been directed at the same kind of point. It is the method by which this Bill has been attacked that I want particularly to deal with. As a matter of fact, I was quite willing to forgo debating time if the other side had been willing.
When the representative of the English Universities takes part in a Debate one expects to get a rather high standard; but I think most people who listened tonight to the hon. and learned Member for the Combined English Universities (Mr. H. Strauss) were very disappointed, and began to wonder whether the universities produce the material one expects from their educational curriculum. He elaborated the point that by this Bill we are 800 giving greater power to this House, whatever its composition at any given time, if it has a sound working majority; he argued that there is a danger of the majority in the House going mad, as it were, that they may do something in a mad way, and that the effect upon the country will be very severe. Any party which has any brains at all does not go mad. That is the whole beauty of the Constitution. The members of that party know perfectly well that if they go mad they will go to limbo at the next General Election. The by-elections during the past few years have proved that this party still has the powerful support of the country at large.
The argument which is put forward by the Opposition makes one wonder whether they really believe in what they are propounding. When the hon. and learned Member for the Combined English Universities comes out with such mad stuff, I cannot help thinking it is because he has no real argument to put forward. He speaks of our Constitution, but I have always understood that the English Constitution was one of the best in the world. I have always understood that our unwritten Constitution was considered to be one of the best constitutions because of its elasticity. It is a Constitution which is more sound in democratic principles than any other, arid it can be adapted to meet the new customs and requirements of the day.
Some Members have gone back to Professor Dicey and have told us what he had to say on this subject, but I think it is time we stopped depending on what a professor who died half a century ago had to say and tried to adapt our Constitution to the needs of the day. There are things which have needed abolishing in the past, and there are things which need abolishing today and will need abolishing in the future. Therefore, I say that there is no constitutional point involved.
The argument is put forward that we have no authority or mandate for doing this because nothing was written down at the time of the General Election, but I have always understood that the greater thing covers the lesser. Let us get back to one of the most vital questions that can touch the nation, and that is the question of war.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
I have already allowed the hon. Member considerable latitude, but he has now gone too far.
§ Mr. McKay
With this Bill now being given its Third Reading, the question arises whether it is worthy of support. We have to ask ourselves whether it fits in with the ideas of our people and with our ideas about democracy. I ask Members whether there is any indication that if we went back to the country the people would throw us out for implementing this legislation. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Hon. Members opposite may think that would happen, but we differ about that. This Bill once more amends our Constitution so that more real power is put into the hands of the people. I have always understood that even the Conservatives were prepared to say that this country is governed by the people. If we believe that, the question then arises whether this Bill will tend towards a greater democracy and give greater strength to the people?
If democracy means anything at all, it means that after a General Election, in which people are made aware of the programmes of the various parties and, without turmoil or trouble, decide the issue fairly, those who have been elected shall be able to decide future legislation for their term of office. The suggestion to reduce the life of Parliament from five to three years is ridiculous. To the extent that the hereditary power has some comparative authority within five years, if the life of Parliament is reduced from five years to three years, then the proportion of that authority is greater than ever. We are extending the powers of this House, and there is no question that this Bill would have the support of the people if a mandate were asked for it
§ 9.3 p.m.
§ Mr. W. S. Morrison (Cirencester and Tewkesbury)
This is the Third Reading of this Bill, and by the Rules of the House we are confined to a somewhat narrower scope than on other stages. I am glad that that scope has been narrowed, because not only am I saved the task of, but I am actually precluded from, indulging in the kind of extensive historical reminiscences which have decorated and adorned the earlier parts of the Debate. It is this Bill in relation to our situation now that we have to 802 consider. Much reference to past speeches has been made, to 1906 and 1911, but this is not the Bill that was before the Parliaments of those years, and neither is the present time one comparable with the political climate either within the country or without it in the years from which those references have been culled.
Many references have been made, notably to the speeches of my right hon. Friend the Member for Woodford (Mr. Churchill), and perhaps I may be permitted to say that I am sure my right hon. Friend will in no way object to his gems of oratory being exhumed from HANSARD. I will say this to Members opposite, that if they survive as long as my right hon. Friend has a life of changing and stirring circumstances and, after such a period, have so little left to unsay and achieve so much honour abroad and at home, I think they will be very fortunate in their political lives. Anyhow, there can be no doubt about the attitude of my right hon. Friend to this Bill in our present circumstances. If hon. Gentlemen opposite quote my right hon. Friend's utterances of the past, particularly in 1906 and 1911, I advise them to bring themselves a little bit up-to-date, and to give quotations from the speech which he made on the Second Reading of this Bill—that is, if they can tolerate recollecting that castigation.
Before we get on to the Bill, perhaps it is my duty to deal with certain matters of prejudice which have been argued in support of this Measure. First, we have that old gibe about the hereditary principle. I notice that one right hon. Gentleman is reported as saying of the other place that Members come there by chance and that they are synthetic. If we all think of ourselves in humility, we shall realise that we all come here by chance—that we are creatures of chance. If by synthetic the right hon. Gentleman meant to convey the gibe that the noble Lords were put there by other people, we should remember that we have been put here by other people, and that we owe, in our conduct in this place, not only a debt to ourselves and to our country but to the people who put us here.
When one talks of the hereditary principle as did the hon. and learned 803 Member for Gloucester (Mr. Turner-Samuels), I ask him whether he wants an elected Second Chamber because that is not in this Bill and as he has the present House of Lords to deal with, I suggest that this Bill does not meet his argument, since it does not abolish that principle against which he feels so very antagonistic. In passing, I would say that it is the principle which runs through practically every walk of life. I have known stevedores in the Port of London affected by a rigid adherence to it.
Some feelings of prejudice have been shown by hon. Members opposite against the suggestion that the Lords know public opinion better than they do. A knowledge of public opinion is like a sense of humour. No one likes to think he is entirely devoid of it. However, the argument is not put in that way. If the House of Lords use their suspensory power to delay legislation which they think is against the public interest, they do not advance a contrary proposition and say "We know what the public want better than you do." The utmost to which their power has been extended in our time has been to say, "We do not think the public would like this and it would be better if you asked them." The Lords do not set themselves up in the creative sense which hon. Members claim for us in this House, to know what the people want. All they say is what they think the public do not want and they do nothing more about it than to ask whether the Government are right in their views. That is the position of the House of Lords. Their Lordships have always held this suspensory position, but they do not claim that the Members of that House are gifted in some divine way so that they have a greater knowledge of what the public want in every case than we have.
It is true that as a Parliament waxes in years and gets more remote from the springs of its origin, it tends to get wrapped up in its own vocational considerations, considering everything from a party point of view, as we have to do, and because of that the great mass of the people tend to be forgotten. They go about the business of the world without troubling about political affairs to any great extent. The suspensory power of the Lords, with their detachment from 804 humdrum party politics, can be of service to the country in asking for the exercise of the people's own power to declare their will in any matter.
It is true that there has been a very marked absence of severe criticism of the House of Lords in this Parliament. Indeed, there could not be any, because of the general admission that the House of Lords has acted in every case in accordance with its constitutional duty. The hon. Member for Wallsend (Mr. McKay), who spoke a few minutes ago, explained this fact away to some extent by saying that it was entirely, or in part, due to self-interest in the other place, because they knew that they would make themselves extremely disliked if they took any action which was dead contrary to the will of the people. To say that is not to say anything against the House of Lords. I suppose that the instinct of self-preservation occasionally actuates hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite, although sometimes the way in which they give intellectual expression to that primary urge makes me wonder whether they really feel it very strongly, or whether they have a tendency to sudden fits, like lemmings, who, we are told, suddenly rush down into the ocean. I am not sure whether, at this moment, the Government are not about to develop one of those self-destructive rushes.
Replying to an expression used by my hon. Friend the Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg), in his most brilliant opening of this Debate, the hon. Member for Gravesend (Sir R. Acland) referred to w hat my hon. Friend said about the fallacy of thinking that the Constitution contemplated a dictation by elected persons or by elected dictators. The brief intervention of the hon. Baronet was to the effect that in Conservative days it was exactly the same thing, a dictatorship of elected persons. In saying that, the hon. Baronet completely missed the point of my hon. Friend's observation. My hon. Friend was discussing a constitutional Bill and he was arguing that although people win an election and have a brief majority power, they are not entitled to knock the Constitution about for their own party advantage as though they were dictators. Whatever may be said about the Conservative Party, it is admitted by writers on the opposite side of the House that the Conservative Party have never used their 805 powers to gerrymander the Constitution to their own advantage.
What is the second charge that is made in this matter? Hon. Gentlemen opposite ask us: "Why did not you reform the House of Lords when you had power?" If one looks at that question in fairness, one sees what the answer is. Up to 1935, the party opposite were pledged to the abolition of the House of Lords and were opposed to its reform. They did not want to mend it, they wanted to end it. Consequently, any attempt to introduce a Measure for the reform of the House of Lords in composition and in power would have been a matter for intense party controversy. There is no doubt about that, if hon. Members opposite can only remember their attitude of a few years ago.
From 1924 to 1929, was a period of great feeling in the country. The desire of the Government at that time was to restore unity, as they succeeded in doing. There was no injection into our troubles of any purely constitutional matter of great controversial bitterness such as this would have been. From that time to 1931 till 1939, and indeed until 1945, we were governed by a Coalition. One part of it, the Labour Party, had been deadly opposed to any reform or reconstitution of the House of Lords which might conceivably have strengthened it from the Conservative point of view. In other words, in those times the party to which I belong did not take the precautionary measure, in a time of great national trouble, which the Government are seeing fit to take today. The Government have no compunction in bringing into our already perplexed affairs this bone of constitutional contention and further tending to diminish the unity of the country by raising this controversy on which it is well known strong passions are aroused and there are great differences of opinion.
The hon. and learned Member for North Aberdeen (Mr. Hector Hughes) gave as his reason for this Bill that the Government were bound to introduce it because they were bound by their mandate. When one considers the case against the Bill, one wonders whether that argument can hold any water. The general case against the Bill is that it reduces the period of suspensory veto of the House of Lords and that the Measure is not only irrelevant at the present time 806 to the state of the nation, but mischievous in that it inflicts a blow at the balance of the Constitution. It does not help to solve any of our present problems but disturbs the constitutional arrangement under which contending parties have lived for a great number of years. It is true that among hon. Members opposite there is a division of opinion on this matter. Some still think that the proper thing to do is to have a Single Chamber. Some would destroy the Second Chamber. This Bill merely proposes to mutilate it. Both the abolition and the mutilation are alike destructive policies and of no use to us at the present time.
I turn to the claim of the hon. and learned Member for North Aberdeen that the mandate is a sufficient reason for this course at the present time. The mandate was concealed in that voluminous and obscure document to which so much reference has been made. It contained these words:We will not tolerate obstruction of the will of the people by the House of Lords.This was a very popular gesture, like saying, "Who's afraid of the big bad wolf?", a sentiment which is always applauded, but the words were chosen to give considerable room for manoeuvre. The words are not, "We will not tolerate obstruction by the House of Lords of the views of Karl Marx, the Fabian Society or the Minister of Health," though all these diverse elements are comprised in the Socialist Party at the present time. If the Labour Party had used those words and been frank about them, it would have been a clear invitation to the people to reject what was proposed, but the words were "The will of the people." They need not have been written at all because nothing can stand against the will of the people, not even right hon. and hon. Members opposite.
Those words, which are the fons et origo of this great trouble, show what is the route of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite in their approach to this great problem and the fundamental error underlying this Bill. It is clear that they identify their own wills with the will of the people, even now, three years after the election, when hundreds of thousands of new electors have come in and many thousands have gone to a place—at least, I hope they have—where earthly politics 807 no longer concern them. It would be rude to say that whether they still think of politics or not depends on what particular destination in the other world they have ultimately reached. This is the same old claim by the party opposite that they are the people. There was a French king who said, "L'Etat, c'est moi"— "The State, that is me." But I think he was the king after whom there were no more French kings.
§ Mr. W. S. Morrison
Maybe we shall see two short-lived and evanescent Socialist Ministries after this—I do not know. Anyhow, it was the attitude of mind which led to the final downfall of that institution. Quite frankly, I think that if hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite remembered from time to time that they are not the people, that their will is not the same thing as the people's will, that at most they represented only 48 per cent. of the electorate last time, they would have a more modest and careful approach to a problem their handling of which may otherwise involve them in disaster.
One thing I would like to say as to the mandate. There is no doubt that that great document contained a mandate for a great number of things—for an end of the scarcity in food, clothes and houses, for a universal peace, and so on. That mandate argument which troubled the hon. and learned Member for North Aberdeen, I think the Party opposite could get away with very well if they could fulfil their mandate for these other things I have mentioned, and leave this small and obscure reference to a constitutional question out of account until it is more convenient.
The reasons for this Bill have been discussed. Nothing can be made of the argument that there has been any obstruction by this House of Lords of the people's will or even of the will of hon. Members opposite. They have dealt in a faithful manner with the unending stream of dubious Bills which has emanated from this House. The other night the right hon. Gentleman opposite quoted some words used by the Leader of the Conservative Party in the House of Lords, who used to be known to us 808 in this House as Lord Cranborne. I thank him, in passing, for his tribute to my noble Friend, which was perfectly well deserved. The words which the right hon. Gentleman quoted were words of guidance of a moderate, wise and statesmanlike character, as we should expect. They showed a conception of how a political majority should be used, and it is a conception far different from that which apparently rules here. The conduct of the House of Lords has been quite unexceptionable. There are no grounds whatsoever, outside pure malice, for supposing they would cease to interpret their constitutional function otherwise than fairly and honourably.
In fact, as this Debate has proceeded, it has become abundantly clear that the reasons for this Bill must be sought elsewhere than in those on which I have touched. I do not refer to possible differences between right hon. Gentlemen opposite about iron and steel. It would perhaps be out of Order, and anyway the truth about that is only known to the Cabinet and they are very sensitive about it. The Bill in its present form is supported by hon. Members behind them, and really the reason the bulk of the party opposite is supporting this Bill is that in the House of Lords there is a Conservative majority. There is no doubt about that; we might as well be frank about it. It is clear that if there were a majority of their own party in the House of Lords, there would be no reason whatever for this Bill in the eyes of hon. Members opposite. If there were a Labour majority in the House of Lords and I were confident that they would exercise their rôle as wisely and fairly as the Conservative majority in the House of Lords use it, I should remain perfectly happy.
This avowal that it is really the political party complexion of the House of Lords which besets hon. Members and has led to the introduction of this Bill, is a confession that they arc approaching a constitutional question on purely party political lines. It is the same old story; they are pre-occupied in this time of our need with purely party interests. Because the universities return Conservative Members, they abolish university seats, and because the House of Lords have a Conservative majority, they wish to take away the powers of the House of Lords. 809 If hon. Members opposite are dissatisfied with a political majority in the House of Lords, that is a problem of composition and not of powers. If this were a Bill to alter the constitution of the House of Lords and to secure a fair representation of parties, however that might be accomplished, there would be something to be said for it, but that is not this Bill. This Bill does not touch the real grievance against the House of Lords of hon. Members opposite. It is wrong to approach a constitutional question from that party angle. After all, the Constitution is the framework in which politicians of all kinds exercise their somewhat acrimonious functions. The rules of the Constitution are designed to make sure that we do not injure each other, and, what is much more important, the country. I think it is a great mistake not to be able to distinguish between a party question and a constitutional question.
It is therefore foolish, in dealing with these constitutional questions, to imagine that because hon. Members opposite are here now they will be on top forever. The popular mind changes. What is necessary is that throughout all these changes, there must be some measure of stability, some guarantee that the Constitution will remain intact, for if there is no constitutional rule there is no alternative but arbitrary rule. This stability has been secured in some countries by a written document whose interpretation is a matter for courts of law, but here there is no such form and it is for Parliament to make the Constitution as it goes along. It is very important when we embark on the task of changing the Constitution to distinguish it from a matter of everyday controversy. What we are doing here tonight is a precedent for further action for we do not know how many years to come. Nothing could lead to a more intolerable position and one worse for the country, and for stability and freedom in this country, than for every party elected with a temporary majority to seize the first opportunity to gerrymander the Constitution to suit itself.
The House of Lords, in this Parliament, has shown that it has the power to distinguish between party and constitutional matters. I only wish I could say the same for my own House. I do not think 810 hon. Members opposite grasp the importance of the Constitution to the ordinary man. Nor do they think of the deep experience and suffering which in the past have gone to mould its system of checks and balances. We have gone through very rough times and the Constitution is the result of a long history. I have seen it stated that the quiescence and obedience of the Tudor Parliaments to the Tudor monarchs was due to their feeling that anything was better than the Wars of the Roses over again.
We ought to remember that when we tackle our Constitution, even with the intent or desire to improve it, we should be careful what we do. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Wirral (Mr. Selwyn Lloyd) said that it was like altering the rules of the game when one was playing, but the retroactive provision of this Bill which makes its provisions applicable to Bills of whose contents we are not even aware, is like the party opposite not only altering the rules of the game while they are playing it, but claiming credit in the result for two goals which they have not yet scored. Certainly, bad as retrospective legislation is in every sphere of our life, there is nothing in which it wreaks more damage than in constitutional matters because actions have been taken by people under the Constitution as it existed. People have a right to believe in a stable and settled Constitution, whatever may be done within it.
Retroactive legislation of this character is bad for the country and for the reputation of the party opposite. Indeed, if I had regard in this matter to sheer party considerations, if I were not attempting to look a little further than the next election, I should be inclined to welcome this very bad Bill because I believe it will do a lot of harm to the Labour Party. On reflection, I think that the right hon. Gentleman opposite who is to reply must have been in a very tight corner before he consented to it. Hon. Members may shout tonight with a sense of triumph, but every action has its equal and opposite reaction, in politics as in other things. At the present time the people of this country are beginning to get a little dubious of a family doctor who denies them the right to have a second opinion. They are beginning to think he must be a quack and that his diet of pink pills does 811 nothing but make paler the people who consume them.
Let me put the matter in this way to the party opposite. A large number of people who are not within the magic and privileged class of organised labour must have voted for them at the last election. I do not quite know what the term "organised labour" means, or why they should have that position. I think they are sometimes people who are so organised that they express themselves on matters of public importance through the mechanism of the card vote according to whether those who organise them or run them are Communists or Social Democrats. Assuming that I am right about there being a lot of people, call them bourgeoisie, to use the modern cant, or middle-class or whatever other name one pleases, who did vote for the party opposite, they had the feeling that there were two Houses of Parliament and that if the party opposite in its zeal outran its discretion and did something very silly and foolish, there was, at least, the House of Lords.
It was rather exciting. It was rather like going to some Limehouse nights in the old days with the comforting feeling that the policeman in plain clothes was not far away round the corner. At the next election they will know that there is no such guard to save them from the consequences of their own votes if the party opposite goes silly. They will know that the safeguard upon which they relied has been destroyed and that, therefore, all elements of stability which are to be found must be found in the House of Commons and nowhere else. I believe that that will react against hon. Members opposite. They would have been wiser to stick to the Constitution and rely upon its stability to save the country from any evil consequences.
It is a point, and I mention it because it is one about which people are becoming increasingly sensitive. Events in Eastern Europe have brought home to them with telling force the ease with which a democratic regime can be suddenly subverted and its liberties destroyed. The events in Berlin and elsewhere have not made our people, especially the younger of them, more enthusiastic about following the Russian model. I know it has been argued with some cogency that these 812 things are, after all, paper safeguards; that this Bill or any other Bill, this House or the other House, is only a very poor defence against revolution. In a sense that is true, but it is only a half or perhaps a quarter truth. If, indeed, the people were to rise in armed rebellion, there would no doubt be short work made of the House of Lords and of this House, but that is not the way these things are done. That is not the modern technique.
§ Mr. W. S. Morrison
This—that anyone who has studied the rise of Hitler, or the more recent case of Czechoslovakia, will see that revolutions are effected by a minority who set to work in the first place with a most sedulous imitation of the democratic regime. They even steal the language of democracy for their own purpose. In the case of this Bill, with the period of effective suspension cut down to a few months, it would be possible with a chance majority, with a confused and distressed condition in the country which alone could give that majority its existence, for the Government of the day so to manoeuvre its timetable as to give the Lords no real chance to pronounce an opinion upon a Measure. In those circumstances it might be possible for some Measure to be rushed through in a short time which would confuse the people, deny them knowledge of their rights and deny them the right to hit back.
I am not saying this in the belief that the right hon. Gentleman opposite or his friends are consciously furthering these things. I believe that the right hon. Gentleman would decorate a lamppost as speedily as, and more gracefully than, I would. But it has been a weakness of the Social Democracies in these strenuous days that they get jockeyed and bullied by those who know their own minds into one step after another— steps that can always be termed progressive, anti-Fascist, democratic or what you will. This Bill is such a step. I notice that the hon. Members for Mile End (Mr. Piratin) and West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) are not here tonight. They have no need to be. The job is being done for them.
The Lord President posed us this dilemma. He said we must make up our 813 minds whether we call this Bill a pettifogging piece of chicanery or a crime against the Constitution. There is really no dilemma here. This Bill has its origin in purely partisan, narrow considerations. It is injurious to the principles and integrity of the Constitution and I deplore the fact that in the present state of the world and of our country we should have been called together specially for such a bad purpose.
§ 9.40 p.m.
§ The Lord President of the Council (Mr. Herbert Morrison)
The right hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. W. S. Morrison) advanced two theories with regard to their Lordships' House. One was the theory that a large proportion of the electorate who voted Labour at the last Parliamentary General Election did so on the basis that they were going to vote for the Labour Party and for its programme, but relied upon their Lordships' House to see that the programme was not carried out. That is an ingenious theory. I have a high regard for the British electorate but I do not believe that their minds work in quite so tortuous a way as that. It takes a real Highlander and a Tory as well—both of them together—to be able to imagine that. This is a picture of their Lordships' House as the protector of the liberties of the people with the great function to discharge of saving the people from themselves. It is a typical Tory doctrine, which has been knocking about for a long time.
Of course, the Opposition argue, the best way for the people to save themselves is to vote Tory. But if they return a Liberal or a Labour Government, it is an enormous comfort that their Lordships' House is there to save the people from their temporary forgetfulness and aberration. That is one theory. In this way their Lordships would be very effective, particularly in the later Sessions of this Parliament, in stopping this Government and this Parliamentary majority from carrying through their programme. That is the more mischievous and positive conception of their Lordships. But there is another conception which has equally been advanced by the right hon. Gentleman in his speech. That is a picture of their Lordships as absolute innocents who never interfere with anybody, across whose minds never passes a partisan thought, who do not 814 even know the meaning of the names of political parties—if indeed they know the names of political parties at all—who are always kind to the House of Commons, whatever majority may be in power, and who have done no harm either to this Labour Government or to this House of Commons. That is the innocent conception. [HON. MEMBERS: "You have said so yourself."] All right. I have dealt with that before and I am willing to deal with it again.
If that be so, if the innocent theory is to predominate on the basis that they have done no harm, that they will do no harm, that they will behave and never get in the way of the House of Commons —if that be so, what is the matter with this Bill? Why, the Bill is sheer bonus. It still gives their Lordships 12 months during which they can be a nuisance; but they are not going to be a nuisance at all, so we are presenting them almost with a profit of 12 months, during which they have the chance to be a nuisance, even though some hon. Gentlemen opposite have told us that they will not be a nuisance at all. I beg of the right hon. Gentleman that, if he makes another speech on this Bill, he should "come off it" and decide which theory he will advance—the saintly Lords or the naughty Lords. It is possible that there will have to be more speeches on this Bill. I do not know what he will find to say next time. It has been hard enough on this occasion, but the right hon. Gentleman really must make up his mind between the two.
From our point of view there is nothing revolutionary about this Measure. It is a modest Bill, almost a pedestrian Bill. All it does is to cut down the two years to one and the three Sessions to two. That is all in accordance with British tradition. We go step by step. The Liberal Act of 1911 was a step—a very good one. This is just a further step, to bring things up to date, and it is brought in for those good constitutional reasons advanced by my hon. Friend the Member for Gravesend (Sir R. Acland). In that excellent short speech of his he really summed up the whole position in saying that all that we are asking for in this Bill is that we shall have from their Lordships' House for four years the same treatment 815 as a Tory House of Commons will get for five years.
That is the case for the Bill; indeed, there is not much else to be said about it [Interruption.] I am not going to be an hour and a quarter anyway, although, having successfully moved the suspension of the Standing Order at the beginning of the Sitting, there is nothing to stop me, unless you, Sir, come to the conclusion that I am guilty of vexatious repetition. The right hon. Gentleman said that the Leader of the Opposition had often been quoted in these Debates, as of course, he has. He also said that if we have had as long a public life as the Leader of the Opposition—and it is a very long public life, and has been a most fascinating and interesting one—and had so little to unsay, we should not have done badly. I think that rather underestimates the situation. I have never yet come to this Box to make a speech in conflict with the Leader of the Opposition, when I was not bombarded by hon. Friends on this side of the House with quotations and extracts from former declarations of the Leader of the Conservative Party that could be quoted either in my defence or against his party. Of course, this inevitable thing has happened again this time. It does not matter what the subject is, he always turns up, even if he is not here, bless his heart.
Here is an extract from "The Times" of 3rd December, 1923, which meets the right hon. Gentleman's requirements, as it is more than 10 years after 1910 and 1911, when the Parliament Act was being debated. The right hon. Gentleman was then speaking at Leicester of Mr. Baldwin and a possible attempt to push through tariff reform by a Tory majority elected by a minority of the votes cast. He was still on that stunt then, the House will notice.
§ Mr. Hogg
On a point of Order. I would not put this point of Order had I not been subjected to continuous interruptions on points of Order during my own speech, particularly during the concluding part of it. It was continuously urged against me—and I was subjected to an extremely rigid Ruling from the Chair, of which I make no complaint at all—that I was bound to follow extremely strictly the limits of what was in this Bill, difficult as they sometimes are to 816 understand. The result was that I had to curtail my remarks almost to the extent of 25 per cent. of their contents. One of the chief complainants was the right hon. Gentleman who now has the Floor of the House. I submit that what is sauce for the goose in this respect is sauce for the gander, and I ask you, Sir, to impose the same limits upon the right hon. Gentleman as were imposed upon me by the former occupant of the Chair.
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Member must not make any reflection on the former occupant of the Chair. No doubt he was perfectly correct, and I propose to apply the same limits on each side perfectly fairly, I hope. I am quite certain that the occupant of the Chair, when I was not present, performed his duties quite adequately and rightly.
§ Mr. H. Morrison
If you, Mr. Speaker, as I am sure you will, afford equal treatment to both sides, then I shall get through all right. This is what was said in "The Times"—
§ Mr. Morrison
Hon. Members can judge. Really this is preposterous. The hon. Member for Oxford spoke for an hour and a quarter. We all heard the breadth and width of his speech; and for him to get up on a point of Order and collar three minutes of my time is a bit hot because that is what he was up to. Referring to this Tory majority, elected by a minority of votes, the Leader of the Opposition said it was not the first time that that had been known:The Tory party was always trying to rule the people on some minority plan. It had always been their method. Before 1832 it was the rotten boroughs, where four or five men had the votes which were in the pockets of the wealthy landlord or nabob who purchased them or held them. Then came the great Chartist movement which swept away that form of minority rule.
§ Mr. Speaker
Hon. Members must allow me to hear what the hon. Gentleman is asking, then I might be able to answer him. If there are occasional roars interrupting him, then I do not know what he is saying.
§ Mr. Speaker
I said I would apply the same rule to both sides. I think there were a great many subjects which perhaps the hon. Member might not have been able to mention. Still, he did, I understand, range over a fairly wide field.
§ Mr. H. Morrison
To continue. I will repeat the last paragraph:Then came the great Chartist movement which swept away that form of minority rule, and gradually the franchise was extended until it became a very vast franchise. Then they fell back on another minority rule: It was the veto of the House of Lords, and that was used to break up every Liberal Measure that passed through the House of Commons, never mind how great the majority was.That is another quotation from the Leader of the Opposition, and it is borne out by the attitude of the Opposition during the course of our discussions on this Third Reading of the Bill, as well as upon other occasions. We have now got an official declaration from the right hon. and learned Member for West Derby (Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe), made yesterday on behalf of the Conservative Party—I am not sure it was not even drafted by the acting Leader of the Conservative Party in the House of where the Tory Party stands officially on this Bill. Their view is that, notwithstanding the fact that, when they were in power, they would have no interference from the House of Lords during five years of the Parliament, when a Liberal or Labour majority are in power, they must be subject to veto and control by their Lordships' House for two-fifths of the period of that Parliament elected by the people.
§ Major Sir David Maxwell Fyfe (Liverpool, West Derby)
The right hon. Gentleman will do me the justice of remembering that that was subject to holding ourselves entirely free to a change in composition which would prevent any party having a majority in the House of Lords.
§ Mr. Morrison
I agree the right hon. and learned Gentleman urged that the right course was to change the composition and to leave the power of veto where it was. I do not know how he is going 818 to change the composition. One could only do one's best to change the composition in order to avoid a permanent party majority one side or the other. I daresay it is not impossible; but, of course, one could not quite make a Second Chamber in which there would permanently be an equal balance between the two great political parties. There will have to be other elements there. The answer to that is that we took the view that, whether the composition of their Lordships' House was changed or not, this Bill was right; that it provided for a sufficient delay and that it was sufficiently troublesome to have one Session at the mercy of another place.
There are two other answers which can be put in this respect. One is that, if the Conservative Party believed it was right to modify the composition of the House of Lords, they had plenty of time in which to do it. It is all very well for them to say that they did not do it because they were afraid of the Labour Party. But did they ask our consent to change the whole political levy of the trade unions, which had nothing to do with the general strike, or did they ask our consent to do other things in the case of the Trades Disputes Act, which they did without any mandate whatever and without any interference from their Lordships? I admit that the Tory Party might have been afraid of us and were possibly much too afraid of us at times, but it would be taking the argument too far to say that the Conservative Party would not deal with the composition of their Lordships' House for that reason. So far as I know, they never asked the Labour Party to enter into any discussions about that. If the Conservative Party, when they were in power, had wanted to deal with this problem of composition, they could have dealt with it, and they ought to have dealt with it, because in my judgment the existing set-up is irrational. I think it is irrational and could be improved, although I would be strongly opposed to any elective principle in connection with a Second Chamber.
We had a long conference of the political parties—the Inter-Party Conference, representing Lords and Commons. We got through without a cross word under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister; and here I want to pay a tribute to the right hon. and learned Member for 819 Montgomery (Mr. C. Davies) and to his noble Friend, Lord Samuel, for the impartial and helpful attitude they adopted during that Conference. Their attitude is significant, because they started by rather agreeing with the 12 months from the Third Reading which was urged by the Conservatives, but as we so nearly reached agreement on composition, subject of course to ratification by the various political parties or otherwise— [Interruption]—it was right that we should require the ratification and approval of our political friends on both sides.
§ Mr. Speaker
A great deal of latitude has been allowed in this Debate, but perhaps this discussion may not he unhelpful in the future.
§ Mr. Morrison
As the discussion went on, the Liberals came to the conclusion that, in view of the high measure of agreement which had been reached on composition, and the near agreement on powers, it was a tragedy that the thing had to be broken up. Therefore, if the Conservatives had wanted agreement, we might have got agreement on a changed composition of the House of Lords. I think it a tragedy that this Bill has to be handled in the way we are handling it, when it could have been handled with mutual good sense. I think we had a good deal of sense on our side. We made some progress and were prepared to compromise, and so did our Liberal friends, but the Conservatives were "sticky," and would not give way on the point that the fourth Session must be imperilled as well as the fifth. That is not a reasonable proposition, and the object of this Bill is therefore to protect the fourth Session.
This Bill will be passed, no doubt, by this House tonight, and will go to their Lordships for their consideration. I wish they would pass it, but it does not look as if that is very probable. Nevertheless, I wish they would. I can only say, on behalf of His Majesty's Government, that we feel it necessary that this Bill should pass. We think it is a Bill which establishes fair play between the great contestants for political power 820 in this country, that it is reasonable in itself, that it still imposes a period of delay of some substance, and that it proceeds on fair and reasonable lines. It is argued that this Bill would facilitate a possible coup d'etat. I have no doubt that precisely the same argument was used against the Parliament Act of 1911, except that it may then have been expressed in more violent language. That Bill did cause some excitement, both ways. Strong language was used. This Bill is not causing a lot of excitement either way, which shows the calm and steady way in which the British can handle a modification of our Constitution.
The Opposition and their Press supporters thought that there would be a storm of indignation in the country against the Bill. There is not. If I am asked whether people are holding mass meetings to demand the Bill, the whole Bill and nothing but the Bill, I admit they are not. It all shows that British people can look at these changes and modifications with perhaps greater calmness than in earlier days. If there was any undermining of the Constitution it would be another matter. The idea that this Bill will facilitate a coup d'etat is nonsense. There can be no coup d'etat in a situation which requires not less than 12 months from Second Reading to last Reading and when the coup d'etat has to pass through two Sessions of Parliament. That was not the technique in Czechoslovakia, nor in 1917 at the time of the Bolshevik revolution, nor in Spain—
§ Mr. Morrison
I always thought that the right hon. Gentleman looks more like Tammany Hall than I do. Compared with him I look like an angel from Heaven.
I am very glad to inform the House that at this last minute of the day of the Third Reading of this Bill, a great newspaper, which has been quoted against us on this Bill—the "Manchester Guardian" —now supports it. It has been repeatedly quoted against us on this Bill, and I was sorry because I revere the "Manchester Guardian" with deep sincerity, as I do the "News-Chronicle." I have an admiration for both papers, and it made me sad to think that they were going off 821 the rails on this Bill. However, I say no more about it because I never attack the Press, especially the friendly Press. Today, the great "Manchester Guardian," a newspaper for which I think we all have great admiration, says at the beginning of its leader;Whatever the shoddy origins of the Parliament Bill
§ Mr. Morrison
All right, but wait. It goes on to say:and its irrelevance to the time, it is a measure that Progressives cannot fairly oppose. On the fundamental issue "—[Interruption.] What is the matter with the hon. Member for Oxford? The hon. Member for Oxford gets himself clean out of control now and again. There was his speech today. After the first 20 minutes I said to hon. Friends who were sitting beside me, "This is the best speech of the Opposition against the Bill." Five minutes later the hon. Member had gone off the rails. He got excited and suffered from internal combustion with the result that he did not know where he was.
§ Mr. Morrison
These observations with which I was concluding were in relation to today's Debate. I was sorry when the hon. Member got out of control in the greater part of his speech, which is how he landed into one and a quarter hours. [An HON. MEMBER: "What about steel?"] I always noticed about this Opposition that, whatever one is talking about, they will always interrupt and say, "Tell us about something else," because they thoroughly object to what we are saying.
The second sentence in the "Guardian" read:On the fundamental issue between the Lords and Commons the choice is clear and the Liberals certainly cannot start compromising at this hour.[Laughter.] If the Leader of the Opposition were here he would restrain the Opposition. I noticed on one occasion, 822 when the hon. Member for Oxford was talking about the Liberal Party, he said "Stop that; they are friends of ours.' I have as much right to cultivate the Liberal Party as has the Leader of the Opposition. May I say how we were all delighted to hear the speech that was delivered by the noble Lady the Member for Anglesey (Lady Megan Lloyd George). It was the best she has ever delivered. It may well be that that had an effect on the "Guardian," whose article concludesAll the same it is the Conservatives who stand in the way of a decent constitutional settlement by agreement.That is absolutely true. The fairness and impartiality of the "Guardian" is borne out by the fact that in its Parliamentary sketch I personally was given a rough time of it. Consequently I attach all the more importance to this leading article.
§ Mr. Morrison
I have not the slightest idea. The leader-writers are anonymous. I do not think, in view of all the observations that have been made upon the Bill, there is anything more to be said. I am confident at this last moment that the Government have completely made out their case for the Bill and I am perfectly sure it has not been upset by the Opposition. They have made no alternative proposals. They could have put "suggestions" on the Order Paper for consideration, but they did not do so, because they wish to preserve the existing unfair state of affairs, as they stated yesterday. So they are without an idea in their heads how to amend and improve the situation. They really want to preserve the status quo by which a progressive Government is at the mercy of their Lordships' House for two-fifths of its Parliamentary life. That is a situation to which His Majesty's Government are not disposed to submit. For this reason I confidently ask the House to give us an overwhelming majority for the Third Reading of the Bill so that the Bill may go to another place with the overwhelming support of the House of Commons.
§ Question put, "That the Bill be now read the Third time."
§ The House divided: Ayes, 323; Noes, 195.827
|Division No. 7.]||AYES||[10.13. p.m.|
|Acland, Sir Richard||Edelman, M.||Lawson, Rt. Hon. J. J|
|Adams, Richard (Balham)||Edwards, Rt. Hon. Sir C. (Bedwellty)||Lee, F. (Hulme)|
|Adams, W. T. (Hammersmith, South)||Edwards, John (Blackburn)||Lee, Miss J. (Cannock)|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V.||Edwards, Rt. Hon. N. (Caerphilly)||Leslie, J. R.|
|Allen, A. C. (Bosworth)||Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)||Lever, N. H.|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Evans, Albert (Islington, W.)||Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)|
|Alpass, J. H||Evans, E. (Lowestoft)||Lewis, T. (Southampton)|
|Anderson, A. (Motherwell)||Evans, John (Ogmore)||Lindgren, G. S.|
|Attewell, H. C||Evans, S. N (Wednesbury)||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M|
|Awbery, S. S.||Ewart, R.||Logan, D. G.|
|Ay[...]es, W. H.||Fairhurst, F||Longden, F.|
|Ayrton Gould, Mrs B||Farthing, W. J||Lyne, A. W.|
|Bacon, Miss A||Fernyhough, E||McAdam, W|
|Baird, J||Field, Capt. W J||McAllister, G.|
|Balfour, A||Foot, M. M.||McEntee, V. La T|
|Barnes, Rt Hon A [...]||Fraser, T. (Hamilton)||McGhee, H. G|
|Barstow, P G||Freeman, J. (Watford)||McGovern, J.|
|Barton, C||Freeman, Peter (Newport)||Mack, J. D.|
|Battley, J. R||Ganley, Mrs. C. S||McKay, J. (Wallsend)|
|Bechervaise, A. E||George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey)||Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N.W.)|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J||Gibbins, J||McKinley, A. S|
|Benson, G||Gibson, C W||McLeavy, F|
|Berry, H.||Gilzean, A||Macpherson, T. (Romford)|
|Beswick, F.||Glanville, J. E. (Consett)||Malnwaring, W. H.|
|Bing, G. H. C||Gooch, E G.||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)|
|Binns, J||Gordon-Walker, P. C.||Mallalieu, J. P W. (Huddersfield)|
|Blenkinsop, A||Greenwood, A W J (Heywood)||Mann, Mrs. J.|
|Blyton, W R||Grey, C. F.||Manning, C. (Camberwell, N.)|
|Boardman, H.||Grierson, E||Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)|
|Bottomley, A. G.||Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)||Marquand, H. A.|
|Bowden, Flg. Offr. H. W.||Griffiths, Rt Hon. J. (Llanelly)||Marshall, F. (Brightside)|
|Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)||Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side)||Mathers, Rt. Hon. George|
|Braddock, Mrs. E M (L'pl Exch'ge)||Guest, Dr. L. Haden||Medland, H. M|
|Braddock, T. (Mitcham)||Gunter, R. J||Mellish, R. J|
|Bramall, E. A.||Guy, W. H||Messer, F.|
|Brook, D. (Halifax)||Haire, John E. (Wycombe)||Middleton, Mrs. L|
|Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)||Hall, Rt Hon. Glenvil||Mitchison, G. R|
|Brown, George (Belper)||Hamilton, Lieut.-Col, R||Monslow, W|
|Brown, T. J. (Ince)||Hannan, W. (Maryhill)||Moody, A. S.|
|Brown, W. J. (Rugby)||Hardman, D. R||Morgan, Dr. H B|
|Bruce, Maj. D W T||Hardy, E. A||Morley, R.|
|Burden, T. W||Harrison, J.||Morris, Lt.-Col. H. (Sheffield, C.)|
|Burke, W A.||Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)|
|Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)||Haworth, J.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, E.)|
|Byers, Frank||Henderson, Rt Hn. A. (Kingswinford)||Mort, D. L|
|Callaghan, James||Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)||Moyle, A.|
|Carmichael, James||Herbison, Miss M.||Murray, J. D|
|Castle, Mrs B. A||Hewitson, Capt M||Nally, W|
|Champion, A. J.||Hicks, G||Naylor, T. E|
|Chetwynd, G. R||Hobson, C. R||Neal, H. (Claycross)|
|Cobb, F A||Holman, P||Nichol, Mrs. M E. (Bradford, N.)|
|Cocks, F. S||Holmes, H E. (Hemsworth)||Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)|
|Coldrick, W||Horabin, T. L.||Noel-Baker, Rt. Hon P J (Derby)|
|Collick, P.||Hoy, J.||O'Brien, T.|
|Collindridge, F||Hubbard, T.||Oliver, G. H|
|Collins, V. J||Hudson, J H. (Ealing, W.)||Orbach, M..|
|Colman, Miss G. M||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayr)||Paget, R. T|
|Comyns, Dr. L.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth)|
|Cook, T. F.||Hughes, H. D. (W'lverh'pton, W.)||Paling, Will T (Dewsbury)|
|Coriett, Dr. J.||Hutchinson, H. L. (Rusholme)||Palmer, A. M. F|
|Cove, W. G.||Hynd, H. (Hackney. C.)||Parkin, B T.|
|Crawley, A||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Paton, MrS. F. (Rushcliffe)|
|Crossman, R H||Irvine, A. J. (Liverpool)||Paton, J. (Norwich)|
|Daggar, G.||Irving, W. J. (Tottenham, N.)||Pearson, A.|
|Daines, P.||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A||Peart, T. F|
|Dalton, Rt. Hon. H||Janner, B||Platts-Mills, J. F. F.|
|Davies, Rt. Hn. Clement (Montgomery)||Jay, D. P. T.||Porter, E. (Warrington)|
|Davies, Edward (Burslem)||Jeger, G (Winchester)||Porter, G. (Leeds)|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield)||Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E.)||Price, M. Philips|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Jenkins, R. H.||Proctor, W. T|
|Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S W.)||Jones, D. T. (Hartlepool)||Pryde, D. J.|
|Davies, R. J (Westhoughton)||Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow)||Pursey, Comdr. H|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Jones, J. H. (Bolton)||Randall, H. E|
|Deer, G.||Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)||Ranger, J|
|de Freitas, Geoffrey||Keenan, W.||Rankin, J|
|Delargy, H. J||Kenyon, C||Reeves, J.|
|Diamond, J.||Key, Rt. Hon. C. W||Reid, T. (Swindon)|
|Dodds, N. N.||King, E. M.||Rhodes, H.|
|Driberg, T. E. N.||Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr E||Richards, R.|
|Dumpleton, C. W.||Kinley, J.||Ridealgh, Mrs. M.|
|Dye, S.||Kirkwood, Rt. Hon D||Robens, A.|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C||Lavers, S||Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)|
|Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)||Stross, Dr. B||Webb, M. (Bradford, C.)|
|Rogers, G. H. R.||Stubbs, A E||Weitzman, D.|
|Ross, William (Kilmarnock)||Swingler, S.||Wells, P. L. (Faversham)|
|Royle, C.||Sylvester, G. O||Wells, W. T. (Walsall)|
|Sargood, R.||Symonds, A L||West, D. G|
|Scollan, T.||Taylor, H. B. (Mansfield)||Wheatley, Rt. Hn. John (Edinb'gh, E.)|
|Scott-Elliott, W||Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)||White, C. F. (Derbyshire, W.)|
|Shackleton, E. A A.||Thomas, D E. (Aberdare)||White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Sharp,.Granville||Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)||Wigg, George|
|Shawcross, C. N. (Widnes)||Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)||Wilcock, Group-Capt C. A. B|
|Shurmer, P.||Thurtle, Ernest||Wilkes, L.|
|Silkin, Rt. Hon. L||Tiffany, S.||Wilkins, W. A.|
|Silverman, J. (Erdington)||Timmons, J||Willey, F T (Sunderland)|
|Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)||Titterington, M F||Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)|
|Simmons, C. J.||Tolley, L.||Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)|
|Skeffington, A. M.||Turner-Samuels, M||Williams, R. W. (Wigan)|
|Skeffington-Lodge, T C||Ungoed-Thomas, L||Williams, W. R. (Heston)|
|Skinnard, F W.||Usborne, Henry||Wills, Mrs. E. A|
|Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.)||Vernon, Maj W. F||Wise, Major F. J|
|Smith, S. H (Hull, S.W.)||Viant, S. P||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A|
|Snow, J. W.||Wadsworth, G||Wyatt, W.|
|Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank||Walker, G. H.||Yates, V. F.|
|Sparks, J A.||Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Steele, T.||Wallace, H. W. (Walthamstow, E.)|
|Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E)||Warbey, W N||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Stokes, R. R.||Watkins, T. E||Mr. Whiteley and Mr. R. J. Taylor|
|Strachey, Rt. Hon. J||Watson, W M|
|Agnew, Cmdr. P. G||Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P. M||Mackeson, Brig. H. R.|
|Amory, D. Heathcoat||Gage, C.||McKie, J. H (Galloway)|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R||Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D||Maclay, Hon, J. S|
|Astor, Hon. M.||Gammans, L. D.||Maclean, F. H R. (Lancaster)|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Gates, Maj. E. E||MacLeod, J.|
|Barlow, Sir J||George, Maj. Rt. Hn. G. Lloyd (P'ke)||Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)|
|Baxter, A. B.||Glyn, Sir R.||Macpherson, N. (Dumfries)|
|Beamish, Maj. T. V H||Gomme-Duncan, Col A||Maitland., Comdr. J. W.|
|Beechman, N. A.||Gridley, Sir A.||Manningham-Buller, R E|
|Bennett, Sir P.||Grimston, R. V.||Marples, A. E.|
|Birch, Nigel||Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley)||Marshall, D. (Bodmin)|
|Boles, Lt.-Col. D C (Wells)||Harden, J. R. E||Marshall, S. H. (Sutton)|
|Boothby, R.||Hare, Hon. J. H (Woodbridge)||Maude, J. C.|
|Bossom, A. C||Harris, F W. (Croydon, N.)||Medlicott, Brigadier F|
|Bower, N.||Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V.||Mellor, Sir J.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Head, Brig. A. H.||Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir T.|
|Bracken, Rt. Hon. Brendan||Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury)|
|Braithwaite, Lt.-Comdr. J. G||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Morrison, Rt. Hn. W. S. (Cirencester)|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W.||Hogg, Hon Q||Mott-Radclyffe, C. E|
|Bullock, Capt. M.||Hollis, M C||Mullan, Lt. C. H.|
|Butcher, H. W.||Holmes, Sir J. Stanley (Harwich)||Neill, W. F. (Belfast, N.)|
|Butler, Rt. Hn. R. A. (S'ffr'n W'ld'n)||Hope, Lord J.||Nicholson, G.|
|Carson, E.||Howard, Hon. A.||Nield, B. (Chester)|
|Challen, C.||Hudson, Rt. Hon R. S (Southport)||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P|
|Channon, H.||Hulbert, Wing-Cdr N. J||Nutting, Anthony|
|Clarke, Col. R. S.||Hurd, A.||O'Neill, Rt. Hon. Sir H|
|Clifton-Brown, Lt.-Col. G||Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)||Orr-Ewing, I. L|
|Cole, T. L.||Hutchison, Col. J. R. (Glasgow, C.)||Osborne, C.|
|Conant, Maj. R. J. E||Jarvis, Sir J.||Peake, Rt. Hon. O|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Jeffreys, General Sir G||Peto, Brig. C H. M|
|Corbett, Lieut.-Col. (Ludlow)||Jennings, R.||Pickthorn, K|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col O E||Joynson-Hicks, Hon L W||Pitman, I. J.|
|Crowder, Capt. John E||Keeling, E H.||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.|
|Cuthbert, W. N.||Kerr, Sir J. Graham||Poole, O. B. S (Oswestry)|
|Davidson, Viscountess||Kingsmill, Lt.-Col. W. H||Prescott, Stanley|
|De la Bere, R||Lambert, Hon. G.||Prior-Palmer, Brig O|
|Digby, S. W.||Lancaster, Col C. G||Raikes, H. V.|
|Donner, P. W.||Langford-Holt, J.||Ramsay, Maj. S|
|Dower, Cal. A. V. G. (Penrith)||Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.||Rayner, Brig. R|
|Dower, E. L. G. (Caithness)||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H||Reed, Sir S. (Aylesbury)|
|Drayson, G B.||Lindsay, M. (Solihull)||Renton, D.|
|Dugdale, Maj. Sir T (Richmond)||Linstead, H. N||Robertson, Sir D (Streatham)|
|Duncan, Rt. Hn. Sir A. (City of Lond)||Lloyd. Maj Guy (Renfrew. [...])||Robinson, Roland|
|Duthie, W. S.||Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral)||Ropner, Col. L.|
|Eccles, D. M.||Low, A. R. W.||Ross, Sir R. D. (Londonderry)|
|Eden, Rt. Hon A||Lucas, Major Sir J||Sanderson, Sir F|
|Elliot, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Walter||Lucas-Tooth, Sir H||Savory, Prof. D. L|
|Erroll, F. J.||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O.||Scott, Lord W.|
|Fleming, Sqn.-Ldr. E. L||MacAndrew, Col. Sir C||Shephard, S. (Newark)|
|Fletcher, W. (Bury)||McCallum, Maj. D.||Shepherd, W. S. (Bucklow)|
|Foster, J. G. (Northwich)||McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S||Smiles, Lt.-Col Sir W|
|Fox, Sir G.||MacDonald, Sir M. (Inverness)||Smith, E. P. (Ashford)|
|Fraser, H. C. P. (Stone)||Macdonald, Sir P. (I. of Wight)||Smithers, Sir W|
|Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale)||McFarlane, C. S||Snadden, W. M|
|Spearman, A. C. M||Thorneycroft, G. E. P. (Monmouth)||Wheatley, Colonel M. J. (Dorset, E.)|
|Spence, H. R.||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.||White, Sir D. (Fareham)|
|Stanley, Rt. Hon. O.||Thorp, Brigadier R. A. F.||White, J. B. (Canterbury)|
|Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)||Touche, G. C.||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.||Turton, R. H.||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Strauss, Henry (English Universities)||Tweedsmuir, Lady||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Studholme, H. G.||Vane, W. M. F.||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Sutcliffe, H.||Wakefield, Sir W W.||York, C.|
|Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)||Walker-Smith, D.||Young, Sir A. S. L. (Partick)|
|Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (P'dd't' n, S.)||Ward, Hon. G. R.|
|Teeling, William||Wart, Sir G. S. Harvie||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Thomas, J. P. L (Hereford)||Webbe, Sir H. (Abbey)||Mr. Buchan-Hepburn and|
§ Bill accordingly read the Third time, and passed.