HC Deb 26 April 1966 vol 727 cc536-7
Q6. Mr. William Hamilton

asked the Prime Minister whether he will introduce legislation dealing with House of Lords reform.

The Prime Minister

When it becomes necessary, Sir.

Mr. Hamilton

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the Preamble to the 1911 Parliament Act said much the same thing? Why is the Prime Minister so coy on this issue? Will he give an assurance that if the legislation is not introduced this Session, as I hope it will be, when it is introduced it will be fundamental legislation dealing with the Lords once and for all and not dealing simply with the present delaying powers?

The Prime Minister

I think that the Preamble to the 1911 Act said that this matter "brooks no delay"—I believe that those are the exact words—but it has been brooking delay for a long time since. We regard this as an entirely practical matter. We have even more urgent legislation in the Queen's Speech, but we would certainly be prepared to take whatever steps were necessary if important legislation endorsed by this House, or any other sort of action by this House, were frustrated by another place.

Mr. Shinwell

I am sure that my right hon. Friend will agree that in the course of the next five years there will be ample time to abolish the hereditary principle in the House of Lords.

The Prime Minister

What we are committed to do—and this was put to the country in the General Election, of course—relates to measures to safeguard Bills and other measures approved by the Commons from frustration or delay or defeat in another place. There are many different views about what, if any, particular kind of constitutional reform, quite apart from that of the powers, would be appropriate, if that subject were to be considered by this House.

Mr. Longden

Would not the Prime Minister agree that in recent times the other place has shown itself to be so "with it" that we cannot afford to be without it?

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