HC Deb 02 July 1968 vol 767 cc1301-3
Q3. Mr. St. John-Stevas

asked the Prime Minister whether he will make a further statement on Government intentions with regard to the reform of the Upper House.

The Prime Minister

I would refer the hon. Member to the statement I made to the House on 20th June and to the Answers I gave to Questions on 25th June—[Vol. 766, c. 1314–28; Vol. 767, c. 236–8.]

Mr. St. John-Stevas

Since the Prime Minister said then that legislation would be early, radical and comprehensive, would it be fair to interpret that as meaning that the Prime Minister does not know what to do and cannot make up his mind?

The Prime Minister

No. The hon. Member would be quite wrong to deduce that from it. The legislation will, in fact, be comprehensive, radical and early.

Mr. Maudling

Can the Prime Minister say whether the legislation will be available and on the Statute Book earlier than could have been done by inter-party agreement?

The Prime Minister

The right hon. Gentleman knows that it was the effect of his own Front Bench that made inter-party agreement impossible. Very reasonable progress was being made, but the Leader of the Opposition thought that he saw a chance of taking political advantage and bungled it.

Mr. Manuel

Is my right hon. Friend aware, and will he take note, that the Members of the other place are mutilating the Transport Bill as busily as they can? Will he see that the will of the people is carried out in order to get a public transport system for the country?

The Prime Minister

I do not think that it would be appropriate for me to comment on what is going on in another place during the passage of the Bill. We will see it in whatever form it emerges when it comes back to this House.

Dr. Winstanley

In considering the possibility of Members of the House of Lords being subject to some form of election, would the Prime Minister bear in mind that the method of election which is used to send Members here sends rather too many Members of certain parties and too few of others? Will he bear in mind the possibility of electoral reform in this direction and recall the attempts which a previous Labour Government made in 1930?

The Prime Minister

I have heard a large number of suggestions about another place, but I do not think that many people have seriously suggested electing the other place. As to the representation of one of the smaller parties in another place, the Leader of the Liberal Party will know that, contrary to the precedent set by my predecssors, it has been possible in the last three-and-a-half years to recommend a number of distinguished Liberals for service in another place.

Mr. Anderson

Will my right hon. Friend give an assurance that the legislation will be sufficiently speedy to prevent there being a lame duck Session in 1970–71, when the Tory Peers will have a stranglehold over the measures which we were sent here to promote?

The Prime Minister

I am sure that that and all other relevant considerations will be borne in mind both in the timing and in the form.