HC Deb 18 April 1967 vol 745 cc300-1
Q6. Mr. William Hamilton

asked the Prime Minister when he intends to publish his proposals for legislation to make changes in the composition, functions, and powers of the House of Lords.

The Prime Minister

I have as yet nothing to add to the reply I gave to a similar Question from my hon. Friend on 31st January.—[Vol. 740, c. 68.]

Mr. Hamilton

Will my right hon. Friend take it that repetition of the Question indicates the worry which we on this side have about the limitation of the proposed legislation to the delaying powers of the House of Lords? Will he accept that nothing will be very satisfactory, at least to this side, unless it deals with the composition of the Lords in addition to their delaying powers, in accordance with our manifesto which stated that we would modernise Parliament in order to reinforce the democratic element in Government?

The Prime Minister

I am well aware of the concern which my hon. Friend and others of my hon. Friends have on this matter, but, as there is no legislation before the House at this time and no indication of what it will be when it comes, I think that he is a little premature in referring to inhibitions or limitations in it.

Sir S. McAdden

Does the Prime Minister realise that he now has a wide field from which he can choose in order to alter the composition of the House of Lords, and is not he grateful for the happenings of last week, which will provide him with large numbers of recruits?

The Prime Minister

I cannot anticipate any recommendations which may be made to Her Majesty about future nominations for another House. The hon. Gentleman will, no doubt, have rejoiced in the narrowing of the field which I have in this matter, in that apart from the two cases known to the House in October, 1964, I have not sought to nominate hon. Members from either side to the other place while they are Members of this House.

Mr. Rowland

Does my right hon. Friend realise that alteration in the composition of the House of Lords might improve its reputation and, therefore, its authority and should accordingly be viewed with the greatest caution?

The Prime Minister

I know that this is a thought in the mind of many of my hon. Friends, and that view has often been expressed. While it is not for us to make references to another House, I think that many recent creations of noble Lords from all parts of the political world and more widely have greatly improved the authority of debates in the other place.

Mr. Lubbock

Is not the Prime Minister aware that serious concern has been expressed even in another place about the perpetuation of the hereditary principle, which many of their lordships think is an anachronism 57 years after the passing of the Parliament Act in 1910?

The Prime Minister

It would be inappropriate—and I am not sure that it would be in order—for me to comment on any debate in another place during the present Session, save in so far as I have referred to statements made by Ministerial spokesmen in the other place.