HC Deb 14 November 1967 vol 754 cc216-7
Q3. Mr. St. John-Stevas

asked the Prime Minister whether, before introducing legislation in relation to the House of Lords he will first publish a White Paper.

The Prime Minister

I would certainly hope that an agreed report can be made to the House when the present inter-party consultations have been completed. But I would not yet care to forecast the exact form in which it would be made.

Mr. St. John-Stevas

As the Prime Minister proposes to eliminate the hereditary basis of the House of Lords, what possible justification can there be for proposing to reduce its powers still further except, of course, to satisfy the Prime Minister's own overweaning desire for power?

The Prime Minister

I thought that the hon. Gentleman was on the more progressive wing of his party. I am sorry that he is so resistant to modernisation. These are questions which should be discussed in the consultations. As to the way in which the objectives which we have laid down are to be achieved, I think that we should leave the representatives of the parties to get together so that what I hope will be an agreed statement can be made available to the House. If it is not agreed, again I think that there should be a report to the House.

Mr. William Hamilton

Will my right hon. Friend give an assurance that he will report from time to time on the progress of the consultations between the respective leaders, and that the House will not be presented at the end of the day with a fait accompli?

The Prime Minister

I think that it would be right in the circumstances, following precedent, not to make a settlement more difficult by continually digging up this delicate plant to see how it is getting on. I think that we should leave it to the negotiators, and then make a report to the House. The House will naturally want to consider the report that it receives.

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