HC Deb 19 February 1969 vol 778 cc479-600

3.48 p.m.

Mr. William Hamilton (Fife, West)

I beg to move Amendment No. 10, in page 2, line 40, after 'composed', insert 'only'.

The Deputy Chairman (Mr. Harry Gourlay)

It may be for the convenience of the Committee to discuss, at the same time, the following four further Amendments:

No. 11, in page 2, line 41, leave out '(in this Act referred to as voting peers) and other Members'.

No. 12, in page 2, line 42, leave out 'and other members'.

No. 14, in page 3, line 1, leave out subsection (2).

No. 16, in page 3, line 12, leave out subsection (4).

Mr. Hamilton

Yes, Mr. Gourlay. All the Amendments are linked, and Amendment No. 10 without the others would make nonsense.

The purpose of the Amendment is to create a classless society within the narrow confines of the House of Lords. The effect would be to wipe out the absurd distinction between voting and non-voting peers. Perhaps it might be of advantage to the Committee if I were to show how the Clause would read if these Amendments were adopted: In any Parliament summoned after the commencement of this Act, the House of Lord shall be composed only of members possessing full voting rights, and the voting peers shall consist only of those peers of first creation who are qualified as such under the provisions of this Act. (2) In this section 'vote' means to give voice upon question put or take part in a division. That, it seems to us, is simple, concise and unambiguous—all merits which should commend themselves to the Committee.

It is interesting to try to discover the origin of the idea of the two-tier system. It did not originate with British Railways nor with the G.P.O. nor, I might add, with the Parliamentary Labour Party. There was no package deal with this, it was never mooted upstairs in the several discussions which we had, nor was it in our party manifesto; we cannot say that we have a mandate for this proposition.

I am as anxious as anybody, and more anxious than some on the Government Front Bench, to make more effective the country's Parliamentary institutions, if I might paraphrase the last sentence of paragraph 18 of the White Paper. If that is the aim, the Bill seems to me and to many of my hon. Friends to be a bizarre contribution to that end.

To discover where the idea of a two-tier system began, we must look at paragraph 28 of the White Paper, where hardly the darkest hint is given of where it came from. Before that paragraph there occurs an explanation of the two principles on which reform must be based; first, the second Chamber must have some measure of independence; and secondly, a reformed House should be able to make an effective contribution to good democratic government. After the annunciation of these two principles, a non sequitur follows in paragraph 28: The need to reconcile these two principles led to the suggestion of a 'two-tier' Scheme … 'voting' peers and 'non-voting' peers. I ask my right hon. Friend, who attended so assiduously this morning, was this part of the agreed package deal between the two Front Benches? Did they both agree that there would be voting and non-voting peers? Was the bargain struck before the Rhodesian Order stopped the talks, or was this the idea of Lord Longford, or inspired by Mr. Henry Burrows, the former Clerk Assistant, on the lines of an article in The Times of 28th May, 1966? Wherever it came from, it is a thoroughly bad idea.

Let us see what will happen. The voting life peers, with a promise of regular attendance for one-third of the time, must be under 72, with the exception of Cabinet Ministers. I do not know why they are exempt from this proposition. Some of them must have knowledge of the problems of the various regions and countries in the United Kingdom. There is then to be a group of hereditary peers who are made life peers, under the age of 72; all serving Law Lords of whatever age, all the bishops, with no attendance qualification—the black watch. These are to be, as paragraph 28 so elegantly puts it, the working House, the ersatz aristocratic workhouse.

Who are the non-voters in this political apartheid set-up, the supplementary benefit recipients? The part-timers, created peers, scientists, industrialists, trade union leaders, superannuated politicians, presumably drawing pensions, who come along have their say and then clear off, and other leading members of the community, whatever that might mean. Also among the non-voters would be the vestigial remains of the hereditary membership of the House of Lords. They are allowed to hang on "till death us do part".

It might be a good idea to have these various bodies differentiated by abbreviations, by lapel badges. A non-voting duke, for instance, might be N.V.D., and a voting duke would have V.D. The trade union leaders, some retired and, therefore, full-time workers in the House of Lords, could be described as V.P., T.U.R. There might be some trade union leaders who wished to attend for more than one third of the time, N.V.P., T.U., N.U.S., N.U.M., and so on; the superannuated politician, N.V.P., S.P. (72+); the industrialists, N.V.P., I.C.I.; N.V.P., N.C.B., and so on, and bishops V.P., C. of E.

The Labour Party stands for nothing if not for the destruction of the class system of society. "Class", to us, is a five-letter word, therefore 20 per cent. dirtier than the four-letter word we hear in barrack and university common rooms. It is a strange way to start eliminating class prejudice and class consciousness by erecting this Heath-Wilson contraption along the corridor. If we must have a second Chamber, and I am not convinced that we must, let them all be equal at least in voting rights.

It seems that a voteless peer will be as impotent as a castrated tomcat. He can howl on the noble tiles, but he cannot deliver the goods. No army goes into action with blank ammunition. Men and women do not come to Parliament just to talk. Governments are influenced not so much by talk as by force which, in this context, means votes or the threat of votes. The threat of a vote after speech is the only way we have to influence the Executive, to compel the Executive to change direction.

We are now the only country in the world with a predominantly hereditary non-elected second Chamber, and if we allow this ramshackle edifice to be created we will then have the only second Chamber containing first and second-class Members. We might have two entrances, "Gentlemen" and "Players", as they used to have at Lords, or "Amateurs" and "Professionals". We are innovating here and there is no reason why we should not be behind the times.

4.0 p.m.

An interesting point was raised by a noble hereditary peer in another place on 19th November last. He said: … there may be some great Constitutional point, but if you have a Peerage under patent it may not be correct to take away the powers of voting in this House which are granted in that patent. One Peerage which I hold in this House was granted under patent, but for my oldest Peerage "— he evidently had two— I have no patent. As far as I am aware it has just grown up through usage."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, House of Lords, 19th November, 1968; Vol. 297, c. 754.] It sounded like a malignant growth. It would be interesting to discuss whether the Government have power to deny these people their vote.

I will not delay the Committee. I do not wish to emulate the example set yesterday by my hon. Friend the Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Mr. Sheldon). I assure him that I want the Bill—but I will not tell him what I want to do with it.

This is the first time in the history of Parliament that a Government have sought to introduce by Statute a nonvoting type of Parliamentarian. This is, therefore, an extremely serious constitutional point. We can argue among ourselves whether or not we want a second Chamber, but those who want one will agree that its Members should have equal voting rights.

Mr. John Biggs-Davison (Chigwell)

I hope that I will not set an undesirable precedent if I address the Committee for one minute. I hope, too, that I will not embarrass the hon. Member for Fife, West (Mr. William Hamilton) when I tell him that I entirely agree with the Amendment and may find myself in the Lobby with him later.

This question of a two-tier system in the House of Lords—with first and second-class peers; voting and non-voting ones—was referred to by my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) as a contradiction in terms, since "peer" means "equal" and thus to say that we will have peers who are unequal in respect of their right to vote is a nonsense.

The Government are proposing an undesirable innovation which should be resisted and I therefore have pleasure in supporting the Amendment.

Mr. Michael Foot (Ebbw Vale)

I, too, support the Amendment. This is an important debate for the reasons which my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, West (Mr. William Hamilton) underlined. The Government are suggesting a novel feature in our constitutional arrangements and I therefore hope that the matter will be examined with care.

I would like at the outset to welcome a recently absent colleague to the debate. I am not referring to the Home Secretary, who has been here all the time—in the spirit and in the letter, but perhaps more in the spirit; I accept his word for that—but to the right hon. Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain Macleod). We are extremely glad to see him, because it had been suggested by some of us who have been following these matters closely in recent days that there was a decline in support for the White Paper proposals and the Bill on the part of the Opposition Front Bench. We are now feeling that the withdrawal of the right hon. Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling) from the battlefield and the substitution of the right hon. Member for Enfield, West means that the Government will have somewhat more enthusiastic support.

As I said previously—and this is one occasion when this will be particularly useful for the Government—by far and away the strongest speech in support of the Bill was delivered—I do not mean any reflection on the oratory of the Home Secretary—by the right hon. Member for Enfield, West in the debate on the White Paper. His speech on that occasion showed that he believed that this was a substantial reform and that he was fully in favour of it; and presumably he is here today to sustain that support through the rest of the Committee stage.

The Government will be interested if that occurs because they are in need of support. Since we have not had a full explanation from the Government about why we should have this two-tier voting system, I hope that an explanation will be supplied by the right hon. Member for Enfield, West. But I warn him that in his absence there has been a rebellion among hon. Members in the ranks behind him. I always thought that the right hon. Gentleman was the best candidate for the leadership of the Conservative Party here. I thought that hon. Gentlemen opposite made fools of themselves when they did not select him on the last occasion. However, if he were to come out strongly today in favour of the two-tier system, I believe that he would have another rebellion on his hands.

The right hon. Gentleman is known to be a man of principle and I have no doubt that he would wish to stand by any bargain that he made. The whole question of such a bargain has been called in question in his absence. Many of the discussions we are bound to have on this and future Clauses will be affected by whether or not there has been a bargain and a package. I will return to this subject because it affects the reasons why there should or should not be a two-tier system.

First, however, a comment on the attitude of the Liberal Party to this matter. I mention this now because I note that a representative of the Liberal Party is in his place, the hon. and learned Member for Montgomery (Mr. Hooson), and I hope that he will not evaporate before I reach my peroration. I would not like to make remarks in the absence of the whole of his party. I trust that he or a substitute will be available, because this is the first time during most of the discussion that we have had on the Bill that a representative of the Liberal Party has been in his place.

This is a matter on which the Liberal Party is vitally interested. I read the report of a remarkable speech delivered recently in another place by Lady Asquith. I cannot quote it in detail, but the hon and learned Member for Montgomery will be familiar with the scornful terms she used in referring to the proposed two-tier system. I hope, therefore, that we will have a contribution from the Liberal Party, particularly because in the absence of Liberal hon. Members we have had to make reflections on them behind their backs. I hope today that the hon. and learned Gentleman will enable me to make some reflections before his face.

Let us consider some aspects of the two-tier system. When a proposal is introduced for a two-tier system of voting—that we should have an assembly in which some people should have the vote and others should not—there is a strong onus on those who make the suggestion to explain why it should happen. It obviously gives rise to many anomalies. Indeed, I do not believe that any hon. Member who suggested that we should have a two-tier system in operation here would get far. Such a proposition would be thrown out. We would call it an insult that some hon. Members would have secondary status and would be able to attend and speak—that we would be gratified to listen to them but not take any account of what they say—but would not be able to stand up for their opinions in the Lobby. It is, therefore, an odd situation that we should be proposing to establish in another part of this building a system which we would not tolerate in our midst. That is why the onus is very much on the Government.

Part of the purpose—I appreciate that this does not always happen, and that many occasions may be quoted to me of when it has not happened—of debate here is that opinions should be swayed by what is said. It is a common assumption outside that that never occurs; that what is said here is all fore-ordained by the Whips and our procedures. But hon. Members who have been here for some time have become accustomed to the idea that we can be swayed by what is said. Perhaps the immediate effects of the debate are not immediately felt and are not even immediately reflected in the Lobby immediately after the debate. But what is said may be felt in a subsequent vote or may affect a vote on a procedural matter.

An example of this occurred this morning. We saw how our discussion can affect the vote on the Closure Motion and even on the Motion to report Progress. These may be described as subsidiary procedural matters, but they are, nevertheless, important. They are particularly important in relation to the speed with which a Government can get a Measure or proceed with other legislation.

We will no doubt later be discussing the question of the delaying powers of the House of Lords. Perhaps on this occasion we are more interested in the delaying powers of the House of Commons, which may be more considerable than the Government estimated. We believe that it is necessary to preserve the delaying powers of this place while we remove the delaying powers of the other place.

4.15 p.m.

It is the question of voting which helps to decide the delaying powers with which we are concerned. It is part of the argument of whether the Government can be manoeuvred into a situation in which they might risk facing difficulty in the Lobby, and although that might rarely occur, it can affect the temper of debate. We are agreed about that and if that were not the case the House of Commons would be what certain people outside call it—a mere talking shop that does not matter. We know the value of our debates, because when it comes to a vote being taken at the close hon. Members are sometimes obliged to hold to their opinions and vote accordingly. It is, therefore, a matter of importance that we should now be proposing for another place an arrangement which we would not tolerate for ourselves, because it would injure the process of debate.

I will not enter into the question of the comparative standards of debate in the House of Commons compared with the House of Lords. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Penistone (Mr. John Mendelson) that exaggerated tributes are sometimes paid to the speeches made in another place. That does not enter into the matter now.

If, in another place, some peers have voting rights—the "Preamble peers", as we have called them—while others do not, who can say that that will not have an effect on their standard of debate? Will it be thought that non-voting peers cannot make useful contributions because less weight must be attached to their opinions, since they cannot substantiate them when a vote is taken?

Apart from the question whether or not a large number of people can have their opinions changed as a result of debate, the whole atmosphere of any debate must be altered by the sort of arrangement that is proposed. We do not know exactly how many non-voting peers there will be. I understand that there is no limit on their number. This is not an intelligent way of conducting debate. Hon. Members who argue that we must preserve what is best in the House of Lords will not be preserving it, partly because it is proposed to establish a totally different kind of animal to the one that now exists. They will be devising a debating assembly such as no one has even previously conceived, in which the arguments will be addressed only to a minority of the people and in which a lesser status is given to some persons.

I am not at all surprised at the attitude of Lady Asquith, in her distinguished speech in another place, which every hon. Member who is to vote on this matter should study. She is in favour of some of the proposals, although not as enthusiastic as some hon. Members of the Liberal Party in this place, but she condemns this proposal with the invective of which she is a mistress. If we were to pass this proposal, it would be one which has been condemned even by some of those who support the general arrangement behind the Bill.

But there is a more serious aspect. Why have the Government, with the assistance of the right hon. Member for Enfield, West and the others who engaged in the package or "bargain"—we can use that word now that the right hon. Member for Barnet, who did not like it, is nursing his sensibilities elsewhere—embarked on such an extraordinary arrangement? Why have they had to devise for our new second Chamber a system which no constitution-monger in history has ever devised before? Why is something absolutely novel proposed? That is what we must vote about when my hon. Friend and I press this matter to a Division.

I am glad to see the Leader of the Opposition. He has come in at exactly the right moment, because he was a party to the bargain and he exercises some of the patronage under this arrangement. Of course, it is part of the bargain. They had to invent a two-tier system to get the accommodation. If we decided to do away with the two-tier system, we would have to solve the subsequent dilemma in one of two ways.

If the power is given to appoint peers, there would be an objection to many of those who will still be there, among all the hereditary peers, the bishops and the rest of the hangovers. If they all then vote, we would be back almost where we are now and the whole exercise might just as well not have been started. So, the arrangement had to be made palatable to this side, in one sense. I do not suppose that hon. Gentlemen opposite objected very much: they would have been prepared to give the vote to the whole lot, but they will speak for themselves.

The right hon. Member for Enfield, West is here to give us the official view on the question and how far it entered into the bargain and whether he proposed it before the Rhodesia vote or after. All these matters, which we could not extract from the right hon. Member for Barnet, he has come here this afternoon to tell us about, and we are very grateful to him.

It is not only on this side of the Committee that this applies. I can assure the right hon. Member for Barnet, who has now returned—I am only bringing him up-to-date with what has gone before—that there is far more interest on that side of the House about the nature of the bargain than even on this side, and on this side our curiosity has been at least whetted. But no one will deny it—I am glad to see my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary nodding, which shows that he agrees with what I am saying—

The Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. James Callaghan) indicated dissent.

Mr. Foot

I am told that I missed him this morning, although I tried to keep my eyes glued to him, and I see him jump in and out. I do not want him to become invisible again, but I thought that he was nodding when I said that the voting system was part of the bargain. I do not think that he would deny that, because when they sat down to devise it I presume that our bargainers—to use that ugly word—were saying, "We are ready to get rid of the hereditary peers and probably the bishops". Or did we propose to keep the bishops?

But whatever may have been the bargain, at some point it seems to have been said from that side, "We want to keep about 40C or 500 of these chaps", and, on our side, they said, "We are prepared to keep 200 on a nominated basis", and a bargain had to be struck between the two. To make the bargain palatable, the two-tier arrangement had to be invented.

If I am wrong about that, I should like someone who was present at the discussions to correct me. I know that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary was not present. He was less innocently engaged at the Treasury at the time. Wherever he was, he was not in these negotiations. But we have here today someone who started off objecting to the Bill but who, during the course of the discussions, became converted to it and who is new its leading champion—the right hon. Member for Enfield, West.

The right hon. Member has said that he listened to all the discussions and was persuaded that this was the right course for him. My suggestion to him on this Clause is that one of the things which converted him and one of the reasons why he felt that he could look his friends in the House of Lords in the eye—Lord Salisbury and others—was precisely because he could say, "Look at this triumph that I have brought you, this two-tier system, which means that you can all stay where you are and end your days there". He was greatly maligned on that occasion, so I hope that he will tell us clearly what happened over the bargain.

I see no reason why the right hon. Member should not explain this to the House. There is nothing dishonourable about it. Somehow, we are landed with this proposition and we want to know how it arose. I want to know what happened and what was the quid pro quo which was given. I do not expect the whole affair to be unravelled and laid on the Table. I expect no such elaborate arrangement, but I do expect that we should be told whether the Conservative Opposition regard this two-tier system as essential to the whole arrangement, and whether they are backing it because they knew that this was the only way in which the bargain could be made between the two sides. The House of Commons and the country are entitled to have it, particularly because there have been these attacks, quite rightly made from so many quarters, on this Measure.

Finally, I come to the position of the Liberal Party in these discussions. I have said that we want to hear from the Liberals in this debate as well. We want to know whether they agree with the views expressed by Lady Asquith in the House of Lords or not. I do not like using harsh words about the Liberals, but in these debates they have not reached that high moral plateau to which they usually aspire in their perorations.

Mr. Emlyn Hooson (Montgomery)

And which the hon. Gentleman himself always achieves, of course.

Mr. Foot

If one is going to try to get there, it is a very good thing to achieve it.

I am coming to the Liberals' attitude. Before we proceed, we want to know their attitude to the Bill and, particularly, to the Clause. Someone has said that the Liberals have not treated this matter with the highest possible respect. In my opinion, it resembles somewhat the attitude of the Great Powers to the partition of Poland. No one is surprised at the attitude of the Front Benches, just as no one was surprised that Russia and Prussia should join together to dismember Poland, but that little Austria, Maria Therése, should join the plunder, despite having said beforehand how they wished to avoid it, was really surprising.

When the Empress of Austria joined in the partition of Poland, it was said, by Voltaire or somebody, "Elle pleut, mais elle prend." "She weeps, but she takes." That is roughly the attitude of the Liberals to this matter. They dislike it, they hold up their hands in horror, but they are taking part in the plunder. Therefore, the Leader of the Liberal Party will be able to add to his famous impressions one of the Empress Maria Therése, weeping over the wounds of Poland but incorporating them into the Liberal domain.

They see in this the biggest access of strength that the Liberal Party has had for years. I am surprised that the right hon. Member for Enfield, West, knowing his long and venomous hostility towards the Liberal Party, should have agreed to a bargain of that nature. It must have been most appetising to his own party for him to have agreed to a bargain which, as a side wind, was so beneficial to the Liberals. Therefore, the more we look at this package, the more extraordinary it becomes.

I said at the beginning of my speech, when the Leader of the Opposition was absent, that I thought that the right hon. Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain Macleod), was the man for his job. I prefer to insult people to their face, so I say it again to him now so that he shall not convict me of any lack of honesty. The right hon. Member for Enfield, West, who has been deep in these negotiations, must think that there is a great advantage for his party if he is prepared to agree to the ludicrous two-tier system of voting, which must stick in his constitutional gullet. If he is prepared to agree to a system which gives these advantages to the Liberals and has caused such uproar on his benches throughout the debate, he must see a real advantage that it is absolutely essential for the Tory to grab. He is a realist. He wants to get the Bill through because he knows that Conservative power can be conserved like that. That is why some of us are bitterly opposed to it.

Some romantic Tories look at these matters in a less calculated way than the right hon. Gentleman, and we appeal to them to vote for our Amendment. If they do, we will go very far to ensuring that the Bill is killed. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary said this morning that he thought that I was guilty of dissembling in one respect, because I said that I would like to improve the Bill, and that my real aim was to kill it. Of course, I would prefer to kill it. There is no concealment about that. I think that we are well on the way to success. The Opposition have had to rally the forces of the right hon. Member for Enfield, West to sustain the weakening nerve of the right hon. Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling), which is evidence of the success of our campaign. We have the Conservative Party more deeply divided than it has been on any issue except race, but we do not get any thanks for it.

I say to my right hon. Friend that there is no dissembling. We want to kill the Bill, but we do our duty in seeing whether it is possible to remove some of the absurdities from it. I agree that he can argue that if we remove this absurdity we help to destroy the Bill. That is pretty well his case. It is the case, and it is condemnation of the Bill.

Are we, then, to let such an absurd system go through? Some harsh things have been said about Members of another place during these debates, but are we to insult them by saying that we shall send them a system of voting that we should not tolerate for ourselves? Of course not. So let us all vote for our Amendment, which will destroy the package. If we send it in this altered form to another place we might start a little revolt there, and by one means or another we might thus kill the Bill. We may have to say it a hundred times, and, of course, also with our votes, which is the most effective way to do it, but the Government will learn. It is by votes in the end that one impresses and decides and that is why we should not arrange an assembly in which some Members may vote and some may not.

There were great constitutional fights to ensure that how Members voted should be published, and they went on for 200 years. That was one of the major constitutional fights. Now we are to have a system in which part of the Legislature will have nobody in it knowing whether to vote or not, with some not being allowed to vote. That is a ludicrous proposal, and if the Government will not withdraw it, which we hope they will, let us help to defeat it in the Lobby. That will expose some of the absurdities in the Bill.

The debate on the Clause, like the previous one, shows that the more we argue the more we expose the deficiencies and contradictions in the Bill. So great are they, and so absurd are the confusions, that they have now penetrated right into the centre of the Front Bench opposite, which, despite the present appearance of utter passivity is torn by bitter feuds as to how the Opposition are to proceed, one right hon. Member saying that they have been betrayed, others saying that they must stand by the bargain, and others saying that they never made a bargain. Their confusion is exposed by our efforts. We shall see how they proceed, whether, as the Home Secretary said, as he is entitled to do, they stand by their bargain and will go through to the bitter end supporting the absurdities which were all glued together in this ridiculous package.

4.30 p.m.

Mr. Hugh Fraser (Stafford and Stone)

Like the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot), I am delighted to see so many of my right hon. Friends on our Front Bench, and I was also delighted with the hon. Gentleman's excellent speech. I am sure that for the Liberal Party it will become compulsory reading, with the great speech of Lady Asquith in another place.

The Committee has had assurances that there was no bargain between the two Front Benches. Now is the time for our Front Bench to make it clear that there was no bargain. This is a very happy opportunity.

I do not know who devised the idea of the two-tier vote. It is treating the other place in a rather tribal fashion to say that there are those who are worthy of the vote and those who are not. I can only think that my right hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain Macleod) whom, as a very great Colonial Secretary, I tried to serve, may have been thinking of their old Colonial idea of Exco and Legco, members of Exco who speak and vote and members of Legco who speak and do nothing. There is something gravely tribal in the proposals, which I hope that we shall defeat.

Far more serious, as the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale said, is the level of debate that the Upper House will now have. I shall not join the hon. Gentleman in discussing whether the quality of debate is better here or there. But, as he pointed out, the quality of debate there is bound to fall and will inevitably lead to irresponsible speeches by those who do not have to follow their speech by a vote.

I am sorry that my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition, is leaving us. I hope that he will return for the vote which will come quite soon.

The Upper House will fall into desuetude, and will be filled with those on the payroll of one of the major parties. As for the Liberals, they hope for greater things as they fall apart as a political party in the country. Perhaps they will be rewarded by those in office.

The proposal is thoroughly bad and shocks everyone on this side of the Committee. It destroys the dignity of Parliament, and should be rejected, as I hope that it will be on the Amendment.

Mr. Brian Walden (Birmingham, All Saints)

This is a very bad Bill, and it is difficult to say which part is worst. If I had to choose, I think that I would pick this Clause.

The House should not disregard the fact that what is proposed is an almost unique constitutional arrangement. I cannot think of any developed country in which this absurd system exists; it has previously existed only as a theory. The right hon. Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch) reminded us earlier of the unfortunate Abbé Sieyes, who devised a system, as one of his many constitutions for the French, in which some could speak but could not vote, and some could vote but could not speak. Previously, only gentlemen of that ilk, whose greatest claim in respect of the French revolution, I understand, was not that he managed to affect it or mitigate it, but survived it, suggested that this could be done. No rational assembly has been foolish enough to enact it. I do not know of any Parliamentary body in the Western world that has this form.

Not only is it wrong on those grounds, but I regard it as a betrayal of some of the most fundamental things the Labour Party has always believed in and should believe in. I have never heard it suggested by anybody in the Labour Party, until now, that we would find proper a legislative body with differentiated membership of this kind, with the "ins" and the "outs", the privileged and the less-privileged.

The only suggestion that I have ever heard that is even faintly analogous to it is that which I heard 20 years ago from the Conservatives about the value of weighted voting. There used to be an argument that the trouble with democracy was that not everyone's vote was as good as everyone else's, as could be detected from simple tests of intelligence and worth, and that scales should be arranged so that people could vote according to their position on that scale.

There is an American gentleman who will be well-known to my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot). He is Mr. H. L. Hunt, a Texas oil millionaire and an extreme Gold-waterite, who has written a book saying that one should have votes in proportion to the amount of income tax one pays. But even this was for the voting public and not a legislature.

Mr. Nicholas Ridley (Cirencester and Tewkesbury)

Does the hon. Gentleman's objection to weighting voting extend to the system of block votes wielded by trade unions at the Labour Party conference?

Mr. Walden

I have never liked the block voting system. I regard it as a rather mythical system, because the votes cast are not those of active members of the Labour Party. But they have some kind of existence in that they are registered as paying a levy.

I only mentioned Mr. Hunt because that was the only analogy I could think of, and even that did not relate to legislatures.

I disagree with my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale on one thing. I did not think that he was sufficiently charitable in welcoming my old boss, the Home Secretary, who is here to deal with the matter. My hon. Friend forgot that my right hon. Friend drew the black spot for this. When the cards were dished out last night he drew the unfortunate job of having to speak on this odious Bill. No doubt my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House was delighted to lose on that occasion, and we should welcome the Home Secretary to our discussions. He has lost the assistance of the three wise men who were sitting on the Front Bench opposite until a moment ago, who have the most fundamental disagreements among themselves.

I am waiting earnestly on this Clause or any other to have a whole series of things resolved for me either by the right hon. Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain Macleod) or the right hon. Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling). For instance, I wish to know whether they have come into concert now on whether the powers we shall give to the wretched other place will be used frequently or infrequently, or not at all. It appears to be a matter of disagreement as to whether or not the bargain was made, as to whether the disagreements were about time or extended further. No doubt they have all gone away with the right hon. Member for Bexley (Mr. Heath) as umpire to decide what they will tell us on the important other Clauses.

I look forward to that because this has become a bipartisan debate. I see no signs that the resentment against this wretched Measure is any less on the other side of the Committee than it is on this. The only bench on which, apparently, the proposals receive unequivocal support, is the now "heavily populated" Liberal bench.

Mr. Hooson

If that is so, will the hon. Gentleman explain why the majority of the Parliamentary Liberal Party voted against them?

Mr. Walden

I thought that one of the most fervent speeches made in its favour—indeed, almost wholly in its favour—was that made by the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Liberal Party. We all know that the Liberals especially dislike—rightly so—the view that the right hon. Gentleman, when he speaks, does not speak with the full concurrence and understanding of his party.

Mr. Eric Lubbock (Orpington)

We have a free vote.

Mr. Walden

The hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Lubbock) tells me that the Liberals have a free vote. If the Liberal Party has a free vote on this Measure, I welcome them to the club, because all other sections of the Committee have a free vote on the Measure, whatever it says on the Government Whip.

We have been told that the Opposition have a free vote. So we can all join together. I am sure that the hon. Member for Orpington, as he is now a free and independent man over the age of 21 and eligible to sit in the House of Commons, will listen with care to some remarks I shall make later about Gladstone and his views about having assemblies in which some people could sit but could not vote, because that very distinguished Parliamentarian once wrestled with that very issue and had some comments to make on it.

Mr. Hooson

Do we take it from the hon. Gentleman's remarks that he fervently supports what his own party Leader—the Prime Minister—said on this issue?

Mr. Walden

No, I do not support what my right hon. Friend says on this question. Indeed, I want to put it on record that I have seldom heard a speech recommending a constitutional measure of this significance so bereft of argument for its merits and so removed in all that it said from the actualities of the case. There was constant repetition of the word "modernisation" to describe this farce which is the very reverse of modernisation. The hon. and learned Gentleman need have no fears. I shall come to that point later.

I pass from this idea of weighted voting and return to the point that there is no precedent for expecting an assembly of this kind, whether it be a Lower or Upper House, to work well. It is a fairly safe prediction. It is an almost unanimous prediction in the House of Commons that such an assembly will not work well. Hon. Members know that it will not work well. Indeed, I think that my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale made possibly the most important of all points when he said in one of our previous debates, but it happens to be very relevant to this discussion, that the whole exercise was to try to legislate into existence an impossibility, namely an independent House containing people of varied experience and independence of mind who, nevertheless, on all the issues that matter will support the Government of the day My hon. Friend said that that is an absurdity. He said that it was all very well for the Abbé Sieyes to speak about this, but in life it cannot be done. My hon. Friend was absolutely right.

This attempt to weight the voting is, in part, an attempt to do that. It is an attempt to take away the vote from gentlemen who will be allowed to sit where they have always been allowed to sit and who are known overwhelmingly to have one political persuasion and to give votes to gentlemen who, having been appointed by the two Front Benches, will vote in accordance with the apportionment, which presumably—and almost certainly if the Bill comes into operation during the lifetime of this Parliament—will be in the proportion of 60 to 40 or two to one on the Government side. So, all these splendid and independent-minded technologists and Swansea scientists can be relied upon to cast their votes for the Government. They will be independent, but they will be "safe" from the Executive's point of view.

That is an absurd exercise. It is a prescription for producing a second Chamber which is bereft of dignity and which will be bereft of sensible discussion. It will have the kind of discussions which I know even from my short experience here are especially resented in the House of Commons—discussions which do not come from experience and which do not relate to the practicalities and problems of life but which are highly theoretical and fanciful. It will be a payroll vote at the end. No one supposes that it will work.

Does anybody want it? First, there is no doubt as to why any set of executives—whether they be on the Government Front Bench and, therefore, anxious for an easy legislative passage or whether they be on the Opposition Front Bench and, therefore, hoping soon to become the Government—want this. When has the Executive ever wanted a virile, independent, probing legislature? When has it ever valued independence of mind? Admittedly, we say these things. The Executive says them as much as anyone else. When there is a quarrel in the party, the Executive says that nothing gives it greater pleasure; it likes a virile party full of independent-minded men with stiff backbones who will get up and argue for what they believe in; let the quarrels continue, it says; they are a sign of strength; what the Executive wants is more. But backstairs it puts on every single ounce of pressure that it can to shut the participants up and restore a "phoney" unity.

4.45 p.m.

I do not blame Executives for thinking like that. I have never been a member of the Executive. If I were to become one, I can well imagine that that would be my view. I would not want to be irritated by a lot of what I am sure I would regard as unnecessary and not wholly well-informed arguments, quarrels and disputes thrust upon me by obstreperous legislators who, instead of concerning themselves with what my hon. Friend described as the waterworks Bill and such constituency matters, were for ever rising and asking things about the economy or about constitutional issues or other things which they should shut up about and leave to those who know better.

The Exective naturally thinks that it is a splendid idea to have a two-tier voting system, bearing in mind those who will be allowed to vote. Who will be allowed the vote—peers of first creation, my hon. Friend's seraglio of eunuchs. Those are the people who will cast their votes—those who have been appointed by the two Front Benches. One does not have to suggest, and I do not suggest, anything in the least corrupt or even unworthy in the way the appointments are made. All that I say is that men who will be appointed to serve a legislative function will have been appointed, not by legislators, but by executives. The view taken in the House of Commons as to what is and what is not a good legislator would vary greatly according to whether a back bench Member or a Front Bench Member were asked his opinion.

I recoil from the idea of a chamber of legislators appointed by executives. I do not believe that it will produce this famed independence of mind. When I am told some of the categories who are to be brought in, when I hear the Prime Minister himself expound his ideas of who should form the membership, and when I see enshrined in his remarks that all-pervasive modern heresy that it is not good enough to be a politician, I wonder how close to reality some of my right hon. Friends are.

Apparently the concept is that it is not good enough to have studied politics and government and to care about issues. The essential thing is to be a scientist or a technologist or a man who has, in that deathless phrase, a working knowledge of industry. When I hear that these political innocents are to be sent up to the House of Lords by the Government and Opposition Front Benches, and when I am asked to believe that these people will exercise a refined, independent political judgment on important issues, I wonder how far from reality we can all get in discussing this matter.

As a very junior and minor practitioner of the art, I have at least the wit to realise what politics is about and, I hope, the wit to appreciate great politicians, of whom there are a considerable number in the House of Commons. I do not believe that a man practised in the running of industry can be translated to the second Chamber and be expected to exercise the sort of judgment that comes from half a lifetime of experience in a legislative assembly like this.

I give my warning, for what it is worth, that I personally have the greatest reservations about seeing this done. I think that it will turn out to be a disaster, and a disaster which will bring laughter, contempt and humiliation on us all.

That is not all. I understood from the Leader of the Liberal Party that, with certain reservations of no great significance, he broadly supported the aims of the Bill. It is a pity he is not here to say how much he supports the two-tier voting pattern.

At the time when, rightly and courageously, Mr. Gladstone decided that Ireland should be conceded Home Rule, an argument sprang up as to what should be the status of Irish Members. There seemed to be two possibilities. The first was to have a Parliament in Dublin but whose Members would also sit here in the imperial Parliament. The second was that the Irish would be totally excluded from this House and would sit in a separate Parliament in Dublin. What would politics be without its "wheelers and dealers", its "fixers", its "easy men who can find an easy answer", as President Roosevelt called them?

One of Mr. Gladstone's associates came up with what he thought would be the perfect way of damping down the campaign which Lord Randolph Churchill was showing incipient signs of developing. He suggested, "Why not a separate Parliament in Dublin where they can have their own Prime Minister and Executive, subject to certain restrictions on finance and defence, and their own votes, but also have them in our Chamber here except that they will not be given votes? They could come and speak and put their constituency problems but would not be allowed to vote."

Mr. Gladstone is reported to have said, "That idea, Sir, is a nonsense and the House of Commons would never listen to it." Perhaps later he could have been persuaded to change his mind. I only point out that the instinctive reaction of the man who, in my view, was the greatest Parliamentarian who has ever sat in this Chamber was repugnance at the idea of having a group of Members present who could participate in discussion but whose votes could not follow their voices—and this attitude was the right one because it is the very hallmark of dilettantism, and would accentuate all sorts of unfortunate characteristics of our system, both here and in another place, that men should be able to talk in a way they later do not have to sustain with their vote. That seems to be very wrong. Many abuses which have happened will continue and will happen in an exaggerated way if we set up the sort of structure proposed.

I never thought that the right hon. Member for Enfield, West shone better than when he cast his vote against the Commonwealth Immigrants Act, 1968. He and I took a minority view. But his vote was worth a thousand articles and a dozen speeches. He recorded himself for ever as being against that Measure. From what motive? It could not have assisted him. But he believed in his opposition to it and had the courage and principle not only to say so, but to vote accordingly.

Whatever my disagreements about the value of the hereditary principle and of the nature of the law as it stands, I would not deny that the other place includes many people who are like that, but do not let us take the vote from those who might exercise it in that way whilst making sure that we give it to people whom we are certain will not exercise it that way. That would be a nonsense.

I was astonished that, moving the Second Reading, the Prime Minister seriously brought himself to say that there will be peers in another place who will not vote either in the Chamber or in Committee, but who, nevertheless, will, in every other way, be able to participate in all the most important activities of the House. Quite obviously, the Prime Minister was not being ironical. Plainly, to him, the mere fact of tramping through the Lobbies, as I am sure it is regarded in Executive circles, seems to be a minor function; and that there is much more important work that an industrious man can do quite apart from the recording of a mere vote.

I do not blame my right hon. Friend for thinking like that. But that is the danger of allowing legislators to be selected by executives—necessarily executives—who think that a great deal that legislators do is mere air, mere gassing, mere demonstrating, and too ill-informed to impress and that legislators make a stand where none is needed. The executives find great deficiencies in them as Parliamentarians. What better reason, therefore, for not allowing the executives to determine the composition of any part of our parliamentary structure?

I have never been more sure that the Government are wrong and will regret the step they are taking. I doubt whether, having gone through the business, we can rapidly unscramble it. Once we have it, we shall be stuck with it and we shall have switched upon us the extraordinary argument which has been used to sustain this Clause and the Bill—that the people do not care, that the average man outside has no interest in what the Lords is like—[HON. MEMBERS: "It is true."] Of course it is true—so that the Government say, "Let us fix it up as we choose in arrangement with the Opposition Front Bench".

But if we want to change the system back, we shall get the argument switched back—"There is no interest in any change in the country. How wrong it is that legislators in the House of Commons should wish to take up a complex issue like this when there is no public demand for it to be handled at all".

I am sure that we are doing the wrong thing and that we shall regret it. Having done it and recorded it, I am far from sure that we shall be able to change it. This is quite apart from my doubts as to whether the Conservative Party, if it returns to power, will wish to change it, for I agree with my hon. Friends the Members for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot), Ashton-under-Lyne (Mr. Sheldon) and Fife, West (Mr. William Hamilton), Lord Butler and the right hon. Member for Enfield, West that this is a very good deal for the Tory Party. They will do very well out of this. They will cloak with respectability and with the operation of power something which I think has very largely become an irrelevance to the life of the country—valuable in its revising functions, but not a significant power centre. Do not be sure, however, that the House of Lords will not become a significant power centre. I fear that it will become one as a result of what we are doing. When weeping with regret, do not let us be too sure that we can ever change it again.

If the Liberals had had a majority after the First World War, they would have seen how wrong they were not to do what Mr. Asquith considered doing before the war—swamping the Lords completely. If they had done that then, there would have been no Irish troubles after the war. The Irish would have got their Home Rule at once. If the Liberals had had a majority in this House after the war, no doubt they would have decided to do something about the Preamble to the Parliament Act, 1911.

However, the Liberals did not get back after the First World War and we have been stuck with the thing in that form ever since. But, bad though it is, I still prefer it to this abortion which is being foisted on us. I am sure that this is a mistake, that we shall regret it. I say to the Government that, even if they beat us now and do not listen to our representations on the Floor of the Chamber, having not listened to representations upstairs in private meetings, they will saddle us with a system that they themselves will not like, which will be a matter of derision and which will operate not only against the progressive clause but against the independence and fibre and value of our public life.

5.0 p.m.

Mr. J. Enoch Powell (Wolverhampton, South-West)

I hope that the Committee will heed the clear warning by the hon. Member for Birmingham, All Saints (Mr. Walden) that when we destroy a traditional and prescriptive part of our Constitution we cannot then, if we repent us, subsequently go back to square one and be in a position to think afresh whether there may not be some preferable alternative. If we destroy now we destroy for once for all, but that does not mean that we shall like or remain enamoured of whatever we put in its place.

I hope that I do not embarrass him by saying so, but I think that the hon. Member for Fife, West (Mr. William Hamilton) has done a service by his Amendment, which has pinpointed the monstrosity of the two-tier system enshrined in Clause 2. There have been a number of references to such a constitutional scheme as being typical of the Abbé Sieyès. One may hope for this particular scheme, and indeed predict for it, that at any rate it will not be able to make eventually the same claim as the Reverend Abbé—namely, to have survived.

Anyone listening to the debate so far could not fail to be impressed by the abhorrence felt on both sides for such a constitutional absurdity as a deliberative and legislative Assembly part of the Members of which can speak but cannot take part in the decisions.

It is easy to imagine that such an Assembly can be assisted by persons who may speak and not vote. It used to be a custom of this House—but no longer is, although we do it in Committees—to summon witnesses to the Bar to assist us with their advice; and it is perfectly rational to do so. It used to be the rule also in the other place that the judges were obliged to go there and give their opinions on points of law at the summons of that House; but, of course, they had no vote.

But there is an essential difference between witnesses, assessors or technical advisers and an integral member of an assembly; for the essence of a deliberative and legislative assembly—an assembly out of whose deliberations decision is going to come—that those who speak, those who give counsel, should participate in the ultimate outcome.

I know that in the present House of Lords it often happens that noble Lords who have special knowledge or special interest in a subject which only occasionally arises may be glad to come from time to time and speak and then go away—and it may be valuable if they do so. I know, too, that very often when the Administration has been badly mauled in debate in another place, nevertheless those who have won the argument withdraw the Motion calling for papers, although they have sometimes been known by accident or otherwise, to carry it.

But this does not alter the fact that an entire difference would come over the complexion of an institution where it was a foregone conclusion that, although one had spoken, however persuasively one spoke, one could not mark one's opinion by taking part in the ultimate decision. I find it difficult to imagine that there would be many worthwhile contributors to debates in the new Chamber of nominees if those who were going to contribute were told beforehand: "You will be listened to; but whatever your feelings, whatever the force of your argument may be, whatever the balance in the Chamber may be, you will take no part in the decision."

We all know, as the hon. Member for Birmingham, All Saints (Mr. Walden) pointed out very well, that the fact that our vote must follow our voice is a tremendous discipline. It gives a responsibility which nothing else can give to one who speaks in an assembly, that when the bells ring he has to go one way or the other, or at any rate be seen of his own violition not going one way or the other. It is essentially an irresponsible Member of a deliberative assemby who would, by definition, be unable to follow up, to mark and to support by voting what he had said. In short, I believe it will be a disgrace to this Chamber, of which the vital essence is that in the last resort—whatever may be the differences between us—we are a body corporate, to call into existence of our own volition such an abortion as a two-tier chamber would be.

There is something obscene about the House of Commons, of all places in the world, summoning such a chamber as is implied in Clause 2 into existence. It is so extraordinary that we should be debating it at all that it is very natural for hon. Members to have asked: "How do we come to be faced with such a paradoxical, absurd proposition?" I do not think that the debate so far has fully exhausted the explanations for our being confronted with this proposal. There is more than one reason at work.

One is the bargain between two sides. The second tier, the non-voting survivors, the non-voting retired, the non-voting "less-often-comers", these were all a sweetener to the pill for the existing members of another place. Undoubtedly, together with the possibility of existing hereditary peers continuing to sit for the rest of their lifetime, this part of the package made it easier to secure agreement in another place. I apprehend that, but for this two-tier system and the part of Clause 1 relevant to it, the balance of the voting in another place in November would have been very different from what it was.

I cannot, within the rules of order, be offensive, either individually or collectively, to members of another place; but I wish to say that no member of another place, nor another place collectively, has the right to sell out valuable elements of our constitution for the sake of advantages which they may hope personally to enjoy during their lifetime. The British Constitution is not the personal property of any particular generation of members of either House of Parliament. We who sit here are not in possession of the fee simple of the House of Commons, so that if sufficient inducement were offered to us we might agree to barter it away, to dispose of it in job lots, perhaps.

Similarly, the other place, the House of Lords, the prescriptive Chamber, is not the possession and private property of any noble Lord or any group of noble Lords now living. Good or bad, it is the possession of the nation. It is something which they did not create, which they do not own, and it has values which, once destroyed, cannot be re-created.

One of the most offensive things about this bargain, a fact which was unpleasantly revealed by the balance of the voting in another place, is the extent to which opinion in another place has been swayed already—perhaps a foretaste of things to come—by the personal advantages, the personal immunity, the continuance of personal privilege anticipated by the present occupants of places in the House of Lords.

It is, they might be saying, if the expression were sufficiently dignified, "O.K. for them". As long as it is "O.K." for them, they are prepared to swallow the consequences for the future and the inherent absurdities and obscenities of the scheme. Après moi le déluge—it is a good, aristocratic rule. Over and over again, it has been the common people, the people represented in this House, who have shown the truest appreciation and valuation of the prescriptive parts of our Constitution. That reason which I believe has been at work in our being presented with this absurdity is one which this Committee ought to dismiss with contempt.

The second cause is the absolute obsession of the Government and the framers of this scheme with the conundrum of contriving a second Chamber which can be both subordinate and independent. Having got a scheme which, ignoring all the practicalities, would apparently give the Government an assured majority, except for the occasional accident or exception, they realise that all this would be overturned and swallowed up by a package deal which allowed the survival of so large a number of Members who are not nominees, who were not—in the charming old-world phrase expressed in the Preamble—"adherent to either party". The word "adhere" means "stick". So it means: "who would not stick by the Whip". So in order to preserve this precious, unrealistic scheme of a dependent-independent nominated chamber, they had to silence, they had to keep out of the arithmetic, all those whose acquiescence they had nevertheless had to purchase by retaining them still as members. Thus the pursuit of an absurdity by the Executive has married with an unhealthy complacence, a bought complacence, on the part of another place. For myself, I intend to mark what I feel about this by following the hon. Member for Fife, West (Mr. William Hamilton) into his Lobby.

5.15 p.m.

Mr. Callaghan

I do not know whether that last sentence of the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) exhilarates or depresses my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, West (Mr. William Hamilton). I fear that he may be a little depressed, but it is an interesting reflection for anyone who sits on the Government Front Bench, I do not know about the Opposition Front Bench, that we have these two completely opposed groups of views.

On the one hand, there are those who believe that this is a great conspiracy by the Conservative Party, who have sucked the innocent and naive members of the Government Front Bench into betraying the Revolution, and we are now to have a much stronger House of Lords. This view was expressed, in perhaps not quite such colourful language, by my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, All-Saints (Mr. Walden). On the other hand, there is a group on the other side who seem to feel that the Opposition Front Bench has sold out to the sharks in the Socialist Government, who are now to take full advantage of the situation to prevent the House of Lords from carrying out its constitutional responsibilities.

Sir Harmar Nicholls (Peterborough)

The right hon. Gentleman is half right.

Mr. Callaghan

The hon. Gentleman was always a moderate. I do not think that he would go all the way with his right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West. All of this certainly makes standing here exhilarating. Although I said that the debates yesterday and, to some extent this morning, were irrelevant, no one could ever claim that they were uninteresting. I find it fascinating to study it. Perhaps I might now be allowed to say exactly what this Clause does, and what the Amendment would do if it were carried.

Subsection (1) provides for the division of the reformed House into voting peers and other peers. The former will consist exclusively of peers of first creation, who have not passed the age of retirement and are willing to accept the obligations of a voting membership. This is an important consideration which has not been brought out in the debate so far. They would have to accept the obligations of voting membership. This entails a certain minimum number of attendances if they are to qualify as voting members. Then there are the existing members of the House who are peers by succession and who do not become voting peers through the grant of a life peerage.

What is the basic purpose? I agree with those critics who say that no one would ever dream up a scheme like this if it did not exist already. We are dealing with a House of Lords which does exist, a House of Lords which is irresponsible, which is hereditary in its position and which, in its powers, is quite arbitrary. That is the situation from which we start. We are not starting from a situation in which a developing country considers whether it creates a second Chamber. If we were, I certainly would not be standing here discussing a scheme of this sort. We are discussing whether, in attempting to make this arbitrarily selected body more sensible, we should be phasing-out the attendance of those who have had a prescriptive right to attend at the moment.

Mr. Michael Foot

Was it not stated by another speaker from the Front Bench that the question of two-tier voting is not only concerned with the phasing-out of the hereditary peers but it is also proposed as a permanent system for some of the peers?

Mr. Callaghan

That is so. I said so a few sentences ago when I said that any member of the new House of Lords who was created would have to qualify, so that, permanently, there would be a situation in which a certain number of peers will never become voting peers, although they will have the right to attend and speak. There are a great many citizens who will welcome that opportunity and will feel it is worth doing this.

I want to focus on what has been basically the opposition—the hereditary peers. I want to make their position quite clear. The position would be that, as from the date on which the Bill becomes law, the hereditary peers, who are already sitting in the Lords, will either be translated into created peers and then have the right to vote, if they undertake the obligations, or they will remain as they are, without the right to vote. As those peers by succession die, they will not be replaced by other peers by succession.

The first point, speaking from my point of view, in favour of this proposal is that we shall lessen immediately and drastically the number of hereditary peers who have the right to vote and, over a period of time, no new hereditary peers will attend the House of Lords.

It is possible to make fun of all these constitutional changes. I could make as many mocking speeches as have been made from both sides of the Chamber—I may have made them in the past. But I ask my hon. Friends—I do not ask Members of the Opposition—is that not an advantage? Is it not an advantage from the point of view of the Labour Government—I will come to the question of the bargain later—to cut out the hereditary basis, all members who are due to vote or eligible to vote in the House of Lords? In my history of the Labour Party, we would have said "Yes" gladly and cheerfully and, "Thank God, this is a great advantage." That is what part of this proposal does.

Let me translate the matter into figures. At the moment, there are 736 hereditary peers by succession of all parties, not peers by creation. In a House of the size discussed between the Liberal Party. Conservative Party and ourselves—that is, a House of about 230, although one cannot be exact about the size—that 736 would possibly be reduced to 77. I say "possibly" because it can only be an estimate. It depends how many are created from succession. However, I make a fair estimate that it would be about 77. Is not that worth while from our point of view? We reduce the 736 hereditary peers to 77 at a blow.

I do not expect that to appeal to the right hon. Members for Wolverhampton, South-West and Stafford and Stone (Mr. Hugh Fraser), but I expect it to appeal to my hon. Friends. It appeals to them, as the votes show as we go steadily through the Bill, because it is of great value.

Mr. Ridley

If the right hon. Gentleman wants to do away with the entire hereditary peerage element, why does he not simply vote for the Amendment?

Mr. Callaghan

I will come to that. I have been asked a question about a bargain. I do not think that it would be proper for me to go into detail about the discussions which took place. The general outline has been presented to hon. Members and it has not been denied.

I refer those, including my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, West who have asked me about a bargain to paragraph 3 of the White Paper, which states: The Inter-Party Conference had by that time "— that is, by the time of the Lords rejection of the Southern Rhodesia Order— reached agreement on the main outlines of a comprehensive scheme for reform, covering both the powers and the composition of the House of Lords, and much constructive work had also been done on the details of its implementation". I must rest on that. If my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale wants to carry me beyond that, I can only tell him that, having discussed this scheme on the basis set out in paragraph 3 of the White Paper, despite my hon. Friend's siren voice, I do not think that I could walk into the Lobby with him.

If it is felt important for those hereditary peers who are not created as peers, so that they become voting peers if they wish, to remain in the Upper House and to speak, we are not by adopting a scheme like this standing in the way of the main reform. The main reform is to get rid of the hereditary peerage and also to get a majority for the Government of the day—a luxury which a Labour Government has never had. It is not for me to argue whether this is a good or bad bargain from the Opposition's point of view. From my point of view—and I am sorry that I do not have the support of my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale—it is worth while going on with this, although I understand that there are nonsenses about it and that if we were devising something entirely new I do not know that I would come forward with a scheme of this sort. But if the scheme is broadly acceptable, why should I demur from it if we achieve the main consideration—the abolition of the hereditary peerage and a majority for the Government of the day?

Mr. R. T. Paget (Northampton)

Surely my right hon. Friend does not get a majority for the Government of the day. The balance of power lies with the cross-benchers.

Mr. Callaghan

My hon. and learned Friend is strictly correct, but he will know—[Interruption.] I am trying to debate this matter fairly. The right hon. Gentleman might try to control his guffaws. The cross-benches tend to break both ways pretty evenly. There is no phalanx of cross-benchers. I hold the view, and I repeat it, that if there was a phalanx of cross-benchers wholly voting against the Government, this scheme could not survive.

Mr. Michael Foot

My right hon. Friend is dealing fairly with the matter, but I should like to press him further about the alleged bargain. We have not had any enlightenment from the benches opposite about it and I am not sure whether we shall get it. My right hon. Friend fairly says that he thinks that some of these proposals are nonsence. We wish to know whether this piece of nonsense was inserted under pressure from the Opposition. We hope that we shall be enlightened on that point before the end of the debate. We wish to know whether this was part of the bargain. If we are to have the chance of changing it, the question of whether it was a central feature of the package or was merely on the periphery of the package makes a difference.

Mr. Callaghan

It would not be right for me to indicate which of the three sides put forward which proposition. I think that my hon. Friend can deduce from my attitude that there are parts about which I am less enthusiastic than others. But, knowing the deep respect in which both Front Benches are held, it would be improper for me to enter into a competition of indicating which I thought were the best parts and which bits were put forward, which bits they put forward or even which bits the Liberals put forward. I must allow my hon. Friend, with his well-known powers of inductive thinking, to deduce which parts attracted us and which parts attracted them.

Mr. William Hamilton

My right hon. Friend cannot go as far as my hon. Friend is suggesting, but could be at least indicate whether there were any people in the inter-party talks who were cross-benchers?

Mr. Callaghan

The inter-party talks were made up of the Government Front Bench, the Opposition Front Bench and the Liberal Party under the chairmanship of Lord Gardiner. It was that which was reported to the House at the time, and it was that—I do not think that I am being unfair in saying this—which broadly produced the scheme which found its way into the White Paper. I am saying no more than the White Paper.

Sir Harmar Nicholls

The right hon. Gentleman has explained that the figure of 77 was an estimate. Can he give us a bit more enlightenment as to how he arrived at that figure?

Mr. Callaghan

Yes, I think I can. The number of peers is set out in the famous table of page 5 of the White Paper. In a House of 230, which was the size discussed, we reckoned—and I think that there was pretty general agreement on this arithmetic—that we would need to create 24 Labour peers who are already there by succession. I hope that I am right; I am answering off the cuff. A vast number of Conservatives are there by succession—274. It was reckoned that it would be necessary to convert about 42 of them, who would become created peers. If the scheme were brought into force now, there would be seven Liberals. If it is not brought into force until after the next election, and if the right hon. Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain Macleod) is right and the Liberals suffer losses—[Interruption.] I am offering no opinion; I am merely saying if this were so—there would not be seven Liberal peers to be created. There would be four cross-benchers. That is how I arrive at the figure of 77 peers who would become peers by creation, having been peers of succession, out of the 736 of all parties who are there now. Of those 736, as the table shows, over 400 do not take any party Whip and a large number do not attend. So all that dead wood will be cut out and I am in favour of cutting out dead wood. There are, therefore, real advantages from the Government's point of view in a scheme of this sort.

[Dr. A. D. D. BROUGHTON in the Chair]

5.30 p.m.

I could understand it if I had to argue the case against the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West or the other right hon. Gentlemen opposite, but my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale—this applies also to my hon. Friend the Member for All Saints—does not give enough credit for the modernising aspect of this in the sense of cutting out dead wood, reducing the hereditary element and, in the broad sense, giving the Government of the day a majority—

Mr. Angus Maude (Stratford-on-Avon)

Is the right hon. Gentleman so sure that the bargain which he is recommending to his hon. Friends is as good as he thinks it is? Is it not true that, having had a second Chamber, although, admittedly, with a majority of the Opposition, which never dared to use its powers to any significant extent, he is going to get one instead which will use its powers, and possibly against him?

Mr. Callaghan

That is a Second Reading point. We debated this at great length on Second Reading and I have no doubt that we shall debate it again. But that does not arise out of what I am saying, except that I do not think that he is right. I disagree with the hon. Member.

Mr. Hugh Fraser

I am sure that the whole House has been intrigued by the figure of 77. Have these people been approached? Have some of these miserable nobles in another place been bribed? May we have the list? Perhaps the Front Bench can tell us who they are, whether they are paid men by the Government or the Opposition. This is most interesting.

Mr. Callaghan

I resent this attack on the morals of Conservative peers—

Mr. Michael Foot

I know them.

Mr. Callaghan

I would not want to comment on that, but I am bound to assume that they are honourable men, all honourable men.

Also, of course, it would not be for the Government to approach them, because, as is well recognised, the system will continue under which the Opposition would nominate their own people. So it would not be proper for me to say whether anyone has been approached, except that I am sure—[Interruption.] I can give a complete answer about that: no one has been approached on that. But I would not want to comment on what arrangements are made on the other side of the House.

Mr. Hugh Fraser rose

Mr. Callaghan

I hope that the right hon. Gentleman does not want to get me into trouble with his own Front Bench, but it looks as though he is trying to use me as a pawn against his own Front Bench—

Mr. Hugh Fraser

It is just that this is such a serious matter that I wondered whether the House should not set up a committee of inquiry to investigate bribery and corruption on a major scale.

Mr. Callaghan

If the right hon. Gentleman wants to put down that Motion, I am sure that it will be treated with all seriousness by his own Front Bench and mine. But I beg him not to tempt me into indiscretions as far as his own Front Bench is concerned. I have enough troubles with the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale without getting into any more difficulties.

I think that I have said enough. I do not accept the view of the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, Southwest that there is abhorrence in all parts of the Committee. As so often, he claims too much. Whenever he goes into the Lobby on this issue, he gets 40 or 50 votes. That is the measure of the abhorrence—[AN HON. MEMBER: "That is because of the payroll."] But there are 250 members of the Opposition and how many votes does he get from them—30 or 40? Again, I am treading in very deep waters. I want to clear out and get back to the shore as quickly as possible.

I say to the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West and to my hon. Friend the Member for All Saints, whose speech I greatly enjoyed, as I did those of my hon. Friends the Members for Ebbw Vale and Fife, West—

Sir Harmar Nicholls

Don't miss anyone out.

Mr. Callaghan

I am trying to get the Bill through.

The only complaint that my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale has is not that we do not listen—we do listen—but that he always loses. When it went to the party meeting, we won; when we had a second debate at the party meeting, we won; at the third debate at the party meeting my hon. Friend was so overcome by the Government's case that he could not even make a speech on it: He did not even rise to speak, although invited to do so. The complaint of my hon. Friends is not that we do not listen but that they do not win.

This must be put to the test. My hon. Friend the Member for All Saints has told us his view about the sanctity of the Whips. He did not say it, I notice, in the presence of the Chief Whip and I will not encourage him to say it again: I have too high an opinion of him. We had better put this to the test in the Lobbies, and see whether, warts and all, this scheme, which is a transitional scheme—

Mr. Powell

No, it is not.

Mr. Callaghan

Yes, I will amplify that. This scheme is transitional in respect of every peer by succession there at present, namely some 700 members, the overwhelming proportion of the House of Lords. It is a transitional scheme in respect of them. Let us see whether, warts and all, the phasing out of these gentlemen, who have given most distinguished service to the discussion of our affairs, is not a better way of doing it than cutting them off rudely as my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale would do.

It is on those grounds that I invite the Committee to reject the Amendment and to support the Government in their all-wise proposals.

Mr. Hooson

I am glad to be able to speak before the touching concern expressed from various parts of the Committee for the welfare of my party is forgotten. No one divides the Labour Party more effectively than the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot). It is his presence below the Gangway which has effectively prevented the union of the Left: I imagine that that is why the Prime Minister has left him there. But today he went further and indulged in one of his favourite pastimes of also dividing the Conservative Party, upon which I congratulate him. He did so very effectively. But not content with that, he went further and sought to divide the Liberal Party on this issue—

Sir A. V. Harvey (Macclesfield)

How can he? There is only one of them here.

Mr. Hooson

That is true, but one Liberal Member is worth so many more Tories that only one is necessary.

The hon. Member sought to divide the Liberal Party on this issue. He need not have bothered. I disagree with my leader as much on this matter as he disagrees with his and as much as the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) disagrees with his Front Bench. I would not attempt to justify a two-tier voting system. I agree that it is nonsense. I do not think that any justification has been put forward for it today. The Home Secretary sought to explain this, but he gave no justification for it.

I entirely agree with the hon. Member for Birmingham, All Saints (Mr. Walden) in his quoting Gladstone's immediate reaction to the proposal that Irish Members should be allowed to be Members of the House and to speak but not vote. His Parliamentary instinct immediately told him that this was not on.

This whole Bill is repugnant to me. I would like to make my opposition clear. I completely oppose the Bill. It is a compromise between the two Front Benches—

Sir Harmar Nicholls


Mr. Hooson

No, we believe in equality on this Bench. I understand that my leader was consulted, but no one else in the party. I am certain, however, that the majority in the Liberal Party are opposed to the Bill.

The Temporary Chairman (Dr. A. D. D. Broughton)

Order. We are not discussing the Bill as a whole but only a particular Amendment.

Mr. Hooson

I am answering matters already debated on this Amendment. Surely I have the right to answer points which have been made and allowed. I believe that the majority of Members are against the Bill for a variety of reasons.

The hon. Member for All Saints said that he was in favour of a voting system whereby people who make speeches should sustain them with their votes. The truth is that people who make speeches here do not always sustain those speeches with their votes, any more than hon. Members below the Gangway sustained their speeches on the Prices and Incomes Bill with their votes.

I want to make it clear that I do not view this as an important constitutional issue. The instinct of the country is absolutely right. There is complete indifference to this issue in the country.

The hon. Member for Ebbw Vale makes great speeches. If we are to judge from the length of the speeches in HANSARD, this is one of the most important issues that has come before us for many years. But it is not. The power of the House of Lords was broken in 1911. Since that time the House of Lords has slowly been on the way out. This is another step in the process.

I am not in favour of a second Chamber. The House of Lords undoubtedly has a refining quality on legislation, but that could be performed adequately by an extension of the Committee system. However, we are not debating that matter. We are considering whether we should have a second Chamber and whether we should divide it in the way suggested—a two-tier voting system. I have not heard a single argument in its favour today, save that it is obviously a compromise, and clearly a compromise that the Government would have insisted upon.

I do not think that the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale is so naïve as to think that it was the Opposition Front Bench that insisted on this compromise, because, clearly, a Labour Government are at a disadvantage in the other place compared with a Conservative Government, and it is in their interest to insist that they can virtually control the vote.

Mr. Callaghan

I do not wish to be pedantic, but twice the hon. and learned Gentleman has referred to a two-tier voting system. There is only a one-tier voting system. There is only one group of votes.

Mr. Hooson

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman. I meant a two-tier system of membership with voting and non-voting peers.

The hon. Member for Ebbw Vale seemed particularly concerned—I gather it is almost his chief objection to the proposed reform—that it might result in an accretion of Liberal peers in the other House. With two of his own distinguished brothers as members of that House I could not follow his objection. Nor could I, despite their membership, follow his analogy of comparing the House of Lords with Poland. I was quite unable to follow that.

Despite the hon. Gentleman's rather offensive remarks about my party, I, and I think most Members of my party, agree with the criticism made by Lady Asquith in another place on this matter. I shall support the Amendment in the Lobby.

Mr. Paget

I did not find my right hon. Friend's opposition to the Amendment very solid. As I understood it, he justified the Bill and this arrangement, broadly speaking, by the argument that it provided the Government with an obedient second Chamber. Obedience may be a good quality, but it is surely not the first quality to be looked for in a legislative Chamber. If we want obedience, why have a second Chamber at all? If we have a biddable second Chamber, why bother to bid it? I should think that my right hon. Friend's argument came down in favour of an Amendment which would in practice abolish a second Chamber and take powers against it.

To accept office, whether as a persuader or as a voter within a Chamber whose purpose was to take orders, does not seem a position which any honourable man could take. In this matter I feel that my right hon. Friend has done less than justice to the scheme which has been put forward. I think that the scheme may be presented in a rather different way and there may be a case against an Amendment confining the House to voting peers.

After all, if we have a set-up of 100 peers appointed to vote for the Government—and having accepted that appointment they can hardly honourably do anything else—and 85 peers appointed to vote for the Opposition—and, again, they could hardly honourably do anything else in the circumstances—we are left with 85 peers—[Interruption.] That surely defeats my right hon. Friend's argument. His argument surely was that he had been very clever to get an arrangement which gave the Government control of the other House. If he looks at biddability he has not got control. He cannot have it both ways.

5.45 p.m.

Mr. Callaghan

Why not?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

That is what the right hon. Gentleman always hopes.

Mr. Paget

My right hon. Friend may try, but I think that he will find that he cannot have it both ways.

We come down to the 85 neutral peers whom I might almost describe as the jury. If the other place is to work on a kind of jury system, immediately there arise the most attractive opportunities for the persuaders—far more attractive than speaking in this Chamber where the Whips decide the vote, not the people being addressed.

Mr. Raymond Fletcher (Ilkestone)

Not any more.

Mr. Paget

Not any more. The important way to make this work is how we pick our jury. It is like the problem which is often met, and takes a long time, in American courts. It seems to me that the whole basis of the arrangement, and the justification for it, depends upon having this neutral political castrati with the completely blank minds of jurymen to accept an argument advanced by those who are in the House simply as persuaders.

I was about to suggest how we might reach this conclusion. We need a committee to pick these neutral people. I suggest that that committee might consist of the following people: the Moderator of the Free Church Council, the President of the Secular Society, the Chief Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, the Secretary of the Communist Party, the Senior Steward of the Jockey Club, the General Secretary of the T.U.C., the President of the Masters of Foxhounds Association, the President of the League against Cruel Sports, and perhaps the Chief Rabbi, I suggest that the conditions should be that all appointments are unanimous.

Mr. Nigel Birch (Flint, West)

I have an Amendment down to this effect, but I have added a psychiatrist and a bishop of the Church in Wales. I suggest that they should certify that a person had no political views and would never be likely to have any.

Mr. Paget

This might be an initial stage. We might have this certification before the names go foward. A man who could not collect a black ball out of that lot would have remarkable and exceptional qualifications in neutrality. He would be the sort of man who would provide that beautiful blank sheet upon which the persuaders, the people who are in the House just to speak, could exercise their functions. Surely at this point my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, West (Mr. William Hamilton) will see the error of his Amendment. It is the persuaders who are wanted here because power rests with the blanks.

Mr. Walden

My hon. and learned Friend referred to the analogy of the American courts. Is not the right way to achieve this desirable, neutered committee to get a body of men and ask, "Have you ever heard of Harold Wilson or Edward Heath?", and nobody gets in if he has?

Mr. Paget

If someone has not heard of Harold Wilson or Edward Heath, and if he, in turn, is not known by any of the members of the committee that I have suggested he might just about do for the job.

Earl of Dalkeith (Edinburgh, North)

As this is the first occasion on which I have had an opportunity to take part in the debate on this subject in Committee, it might be appropriate if I were to declare an interest as a potential victim, or perhaps potentially in the category of the castrated torn cat about which the hon. Member for Fife, West (Mr. William Hamilton) talked earlier.

I am as enthusiastic as anybody for change, provided that change is for the good. After listening to numerous speeches of really outstanding quality this afternoon, and especially to Government speeches, I very much doubt whether this change will be for the good or for the better.

I was particularly impressed by the speech of the hon. Member for Birmingham, All Saints (Mr. Walden) who, as we remember, at one time held the hand of the Home Secretary, then the Chancellor of the Exchequer, during his arduous years in that post. I thought that his speech would have made an impression on anybody.

I regret the fashion nowadays to have change simply for change's sake. I sometimes wonder whether this is all just a matter of the Government pandering to the angry young men on their Left-wing, though perhaps some of them are not all that young. I began to wonder this afternoon whether, if that was the idea, they were achieving their purpose. I suspect that when the Government produced the Bill they thought that it was perhaps something which would keep the Left-wing happy.

I find it most interesting to see how the opposite ends of the political spectrum have been brought together by having a common point—an equal mistrust on the part of the Left and of the Right of their own leaders. They all seem to wonder whether they have taken leave of their senses. The Left thinks that the Government have sold out to us. Some of us suspect that our side has sold out to the Left. But this afternoon we have had an elaborate explanation from the right hon. Gentleman explaining it away to his own Left-wing, in terms which arouse my anxieties very considerably.

I thought that even the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) was beginning to look quite pacified and contented, and this worried me all the more. I hope that our Front Bench will give us an equal opportunity to feel reassured and to believe that we are not being sold down the drain.

Let us try to see what the Left wing's attitude to the Bill is in terms of the Amendment. It seems that so far their antagonism has been largely due to the fact that they suspect that the whole Bill is a Conservative plot, and on the Amendment they are rather contradictory on this line. I think that the main argument which has been advanced so far against the hereditary system is that hereditary peers tend automatically to be Conservatives, and, therefore, they must be abolished.

In this context, I have often been accused of spying Communists behind every bush, but this is nothing to the visionary powers of the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale, or those of the hon. Member for Fife, West, in spying Tories under every bed, and this has been the basis of the attack upon the hereditary principle.

Those on the Left wing are in a difficult position over this. They have this love-hate attitude to hereditary peers. They hate them to the extent that they would like to abolish the lot, but, at the same time, the hereditary peers are their favourite windmill against which they love to tilt. They are therefore anxious through the Amendment, to try to maintain the voting rights of hereditary peers so that they can continue this little pastime.

What I suspect they do not realise is that if this Amendment were carried it would knock the whole of the two-tier system for a six, and ensure a Conservative majority, which is the one thing the Government are seeking to abolish. The only way in which the Government could counteract that would be to create a large number of life peers through the medium of the Prime Minister's patronage, which is the one thing hon. Members on both sides have been complaining about more than about any other.

I suspect that only the most starry-eyed optimist would believe that the other House would be a better place if we were to replace the products of the bedtime stories as recounted by the hon. Member for Fife, West with old cronies of the Prime Minister. If anybody really thinks that that will improve things, he ought to think again.

I believe that we should be able, if we can, through the Amendment, but I do not think it is possible, to keep some element of the hereditary peerage going. The Home Secretary will no doubt say that this will be done by means of the 77 about which he told us.

Mr. Hugh Fraser

Who are they?

Earl of Dalkeith

We would like to know who they are—the 77 hereditary peers who would become life peers. This will no doubt keep them going for a little longer, but, as my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, Southwest (Mr. Powell) so rightly said, they will be the beneficiaries of a very attractive situation. I shall not seek to suggest that anyone is casting doubts on their honour, but they will be put in a very favourable position, because they will be in a reformed House of Lords which will probably have more power and more teeth than the present House of Lords. They will be the recipients of largesse.

I question, as, indeed, did my right hon. Friend, whether it is right for them to sell the pass as far as others who come later are concerned, and I add my own phrase in that context, "I'm in the boat, Jack. Shove off", as opposed to Après moi le deluge, an expression which, I am sure the Home Secretary remembers, as we were sailors at the same time, a phrase which we heard fairly frequently in the Navy.

I doubt whether the Amendment will achieve what the hon. Member for Fife, West hopes to achieve. It will produce exactly the opposite result to what he has in mind, and I should not be altogether happy to support it.

6.0 p.m.

Mr. Hugh Fraser

Before my noble Friend finishes, could he tell us something about the 77 Tory peers. Will he press our Front Bench to reveal the names? Otherwise, there should be an inquiry into the suggestion of political corruption. Who are these men who will take bribes?

Earl of Dalkeith

I do not know whether my right hon. Friend thinks that I have divine powers as a persuader to extract answers, but I should like my right hon. Friend the Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling) to give us some sort of reassuring answer such as that given by the Home Secretary to the Left wing of his own party.

Mr. Robert Sheldon (Ashton-under-Lyne)

The argument we heard earlier that the House of Lords is on its way out was adequately dealt with by other contributions, not least by that of the noble Lord the Member for Edinburgh, North (Earl of Dalkeith), who rightly pointed out that the Bill will give more power to the House of Lords, which is what I cannot accept.

Sir A. V. Harvey (Macclesfield)

Before the hon. Gentleman gets going, will he give us an idea of the number of hours he will speak?

Mr. Sheldon

I can put the Committee's mind at rest. I do not intend to speak at length this afternoon, though I should make no apology for so doing.

Most assemblies throughout the democratic world have certain safeguards which protect their constitution, whether by entrenched clauses, by large majorities required to make changes, or the like. We in this Parliament do not have safeguards of that kind. The only safeguard we have is the right to speak our mind in this House. It is, therefore, all the more important that, in the absence of other safeguards, we are allowed to put the case adequately, compensating for what otherwise might be regarded as a deficiency in our Constitution. I should, therefore, make no apology, though on this occasion I do not think it right to speak at great length, as so many of the arguments have already been put.

The Amendment would create one kind of peer only, so that we should not have those who speak and listen as well as those who speak, listen and vote. The arguments were well put by my hon. Friends the Members for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) and Birmingham, All Saints (Mr. Walden). Here, I take up a point made by my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary regarding the actual numbers in the House of Lords. He regards it as an advantage that there will be a reduction in the number of hereditary peers. He spoke of a reduction of 77, and this he regards as of some advantage in reducing the number of successionist peers in the House of Lords able to vote.

Mr. Callaghan

Not a reduction of 77. I spoke of a reduction of roughly 670, that is, a reduction of those entitled to vote.

Mr. Sheldon

Yes, that is right. However, because of the need to make new creations to bring in more peers of the kind required, there would be a gain in total numbers of peers eligible to go to the House of Lords. There would be all those peers who might apply for the writ, plus the new creations needed to produce the balance which is the basis of both the White Paper and the Bill. Therefore, the reduction is only a reduction of voting peers, not of numbers going to the House of Lords.

Let us consider the obvious problems which will arise. The "Preamble" peers, as my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale called them, can speak effectively only to those who will vote. It frequently happens in the other House that the attendance is not large. There may from time to time be a House consisting solely of Preamble peers. The debates on such occasions would be unreal because there would be nobody present to be influenced, and no HANSARD report could come out in time to do the influencing.

How long will the successionist peers remain in the House of Lords? Obviously, my right hon. Friend believes that their number will decline with time as their age increases and they retire from public life. It will take a very long time. In the light of their average age, it is obvious that, in 20 years from now, there will be several hundred such peers cluttering up the benches of the House of Lords.

Mr. Charles Fletcher-Cooke (Darwen)

Even when the great day arrives and there are no more successionist peers in the other place, there will have been a great influx by then of over-72s. This will be a permanent arrangement. There will be all those over-72s, with nothing else to do—with the expectation of life as long as it is likely to be in those tremendous days—coming to the Chamber and boring all the Preamble peers to tears.

Mr. Sheldon

The hon. and learned Gentleman has reduced my speech by the few moments which he took. That is precisely the point which I was about to make. I entirely agree.

Now, the question of the cross-benchers. My right hon. Friend said that, if they abused their power, they would have to be dealt with. That is an extraordinary statement. In view of the agonies which preceded the agreement, the bargain, or whatever we call it which has led to our being here today, utterly disgruntled and dissatisfied, no one could readily accept that we should have to drag the matter up again in this House and ask for further powers. Of course not. There would have to be an appalling constitutional crisis before we went through this wretched business again in the next 10 or 15 years.

What we are doing will rest largely on the assumption that the cross-bench peers, when they obtain real power—a power of arbitration for which, I think, many of us would willingly exchange what power we have—will act in the same way as when they have no power, when they have just their academic background and are happy to produce the academic arguments which are the result of so much of their activity at present. But we all know that any human being—or any animal—given the opportunity to exercise real power undergoes a fundamental change.

It will happen to their cross-bench Lordships as soon as they have the bit between their teeth and realise what they have. They will use their power. It is no use imagining that we can put the situation right by coming back with a further Measure to change things yet again. The state of affairs at that stage will be in the interest of one party or the other, and that party will be reluctant to change. Without agreement, change will be very difficult.

Both our Front Benches are feeling very insecure now, insecure because they see the danger of the humiliation of having to withdraw from the bargain. But I urge them not to think of it in that way. A change of mind may seem humiliation to a person who tries to be strong, but it is no humiliation to forgo some of the bitter trials which lie ahead, if not here, at least in the other place when the Bill finally reaches that place. We need to understand that the balance of advantage between the Opposition Front Bench and the Government Front Bench in withdrawing from this Measure cannot be known exactly in advance, but if they were both to withdraw from it it may well be that the advantage to both would be considerable.

This whole question, as we know, stems from the fact that the Labour Government were not to be denied their last year of office. They were frightened that the legislation which they might wish to put through in their last year might be blocked, and they wanted considered, quite rightly—there is absolute rectitude here—that there was no reason why a Conservative Administration should have five years of office and a Labour Administration four years of office, so they tried to reach an agreement. What they should have done was to go forward with a simple Measure to remove the delaying power of the House of Lords.

Yesterday, there was presented the Parliament (No. 3) Bill, which is just such a simple legislative device to remove the delaying power of the House of Lords after the first three years. In the first three years, the House of Lords would have their delaying powers, so they would not be rendered completely inactive. Apart from Statutory Instruments, they would be able to exercise the rights which they have at present, so that their interest in attendance, in voting and in taking part in the House of Lords should be the same as it is now.

In the last two years of the lifetime of a Government, it would be reasonable to ask the House of Lords to refrain from using those rights because the electorate will be making their decision as to how the Government of the day have acted in their final two years.

This is the way in which the Government should have proceeded. I claim no proprietary interest in the Parliament (No. 3) Bill, although it is under my name, and I would willingly yield it to the Government at any time of their asking. I hope that they will consider that the time has come when they should be thinking about a much narrower point on which they should have concentrated their energies in the first instance.

Sir Cyril Osborne (Louth)

I support the Amendment because I wish to kill the Bill tonight. The Home Secretary chided us this morning that some hon. Members pretended that they wanted to amend the Bill and did not say openly that they wished to destroy it. I wish to destroy it, and I hope to bring before him reasons for so doing that would have appealed to him when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer.

I am most interested in the explanation advanced by the hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Mr. Sheldon) of the real reason for putting forward the Bill, that it is unfair that a Labour Government should be robbed of its last year of power because of the delaying powers of the Upper House whereas a Tory Government should retain power for the full five years. I think that his method of obviating that injustice is far better than the present proposals, and I hope that the Government will think again. I say to the Home Secretary that it is evidence of a great mind in politics and in business for a man to say, "I am sorry. I was wrong. We will start again." I beg him to look at it from that angle.

Mr. Callaghan

I certainly agree with the general proposition, but one would want to know what measure of support one could command. Is the hon. Gentleman saying that he would support a Measure designed to deprive the House of Lords of its delaying powers and to leave the composition untouched? Is that what he would support?

Sir C. Osborne

Yes, of course I would, I make no bones about it. If there is an injustice between the parties, obviously it should be put right.

The Home Secretary in trying to justify the proposal to his own back benchers said that this was a good thing for the Labour Party, it would reduce the 736 hereditary peers to 77 and cut out the dead wood. He said to his half-hearted supporters below the Gangway, "Surely that is a good thing. Surely it is a good bargain. It is what we have sought for years and years." This would not have appeared among his first priorities when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer. There were many other things which he would rather have offered to his hon. Friends as what the Labour Party wants. This is poor fare to the unemployed and the poor people; this is not what they want. They want what he tried to give them when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer.

6.15 p.m.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

He gave them deflation.

Sir C. Osborne

I will give him the benefit of the doubt and say that he wanted to see the poor and unemployed better treated. The Bill puts the priorities wrong; there are far more important matters than the footling exercise with which we are playing today. I want to kill the Bill tonight so that precious Parliamentary time can be given to matters of greater importance.

The Temporary Chairman (Dr. A. D. D. Broughton)

Order. The hon. Gentleman is straying a little from the Amendment.

Sir C. Osborne

The Home Secretary has admitted that the Amendment if carried would effectively kill the Bill. This is what I understood. The Home Secretary this morning withdrew when he was challenged on what he had said. I understood him to say that the Amendment, if carried, would render the Bill useless.

Instead of wasting precious time on a matter which is of no interest to our constituents, we should be spending it on the cost of living, unemployment and housing for the homeless. Every Thursday the Leader of the House answers questions about the Parliamentary timetable by saying "Not next week, Sir." "There is no Parliamentary time for it." He will not find time for the things which are necessary, but he is finding time to discuss matters about which our constituents do not care a twopenny hoot. They ask why we do not discuss this or that—[An HON. MEMBER: "Hanging."] There are certain people I would hang, willingly.

The Temporary Chairman

Order. I do not think that hanging comes into the Amendment.

Sir C. Osborne

Dr. Broughton, I was tempted, and I fell.

Mr. Russell Kerr (Feltham)

In his remarks about hanging the hon. Gentleman was not, I trust, referring to Members of another place?

Sir C. Osborne

One never knows. If the hon. Gentleman gets there, I might.

The point I wish to put to the Chancellor most seriously—

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

He devalued, you see. That is why he is not Chancellor.

Sir C. Osborne

I put it to the Home Secretary that he has his priorities wrong. Nye Bevan used to tell us in the House about the art of priorities. We ought not to be giving this time day after day to things which do not matter.

Mr. John Hall (Wycombe)

And night after night.

Sir C. Osborne

I will not be staying after eleven o'clock. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I have a good doctor who says that I should go to bed at that time.

Since there is so much real opposition to the Bill from both sides, the Home Secretary should, whatever agreement with the Opposition Front Bench may have been made, withdraw the Measure. That goes for whatever agreement may have been made with the Liberal Party, but how he came to reach an agreement with the Liberals, who are never here, I do not know. I believe that if there were a secret ballot not only would the Amendment be carried, but the Bill would be rejected.

Two weeks ago I was in Rhodesia—[HON. MEMBERS: "Order."] This is of relevance to the Bill—and I asked the Government there why they did not leave things as they were because it had been a mistake to declare U.D.I. I ask Her Majesty's Government why they have introduced this stupid Bill instead of leaving things as they were. Instead of wasting our time on this Measure, we should be debating the plight of 500,000 unemployed people for whom the Socialists promised to find jobs, the cost of living, which they promised would not go up but which has gone through the roof, and—

The Temporary Chairman

Order. The hon. Gentleman is straying from the Amendment.

Sir C. Osborne

I am subject to great temptation, Dr. Broughton.

I urge the Government to tear up the Bill, to give up their efforts in this matter and to stop wasting Parliamentary time which should be devoted to matters which affect the ordinary people we represent; the coal miners who are frightened of losing their jobs and strikes, such as the one at Fords, which may make many people unemployed.

Mr. Roy Roebuck (Harrow, East)

Would the hon. Gentleman advise me, wearing my Liberal hat, if there are any advantages in keeping another place as it is? For example, on the subject of Rhodesia, could not we have the benefit of the views of the Duke of Montrose?

Sir C. Osborne

Although the hon. Gentleman is sitting on the Liberal bench, I would find myself in trouble with the Chair if I were to give him that advice. If the hat were as invisible as the hon. Gentleman, I would deal with the matter.

The Government's priorities are wrong. We are wasting precious time. We should be dealing with matters which concern the people we represent. There are economic subjects to debate. Our debates on the Bill will go on and on for days, weeks and months if the Home Secretary does not tear it up and forget the whole thing. [HON. MEMBERS: "Repetition."] I wish that hon. Gentlemen who are standing by the Bar outside the Chamber would either make a contribution to the debate or accept that what I am saying is worth repeating. I will not delay the Committee. I hope that I have said enough to make the Home Secretary realise that he should take the Bill away and start again.

Mr. Ridley

The Home Secretary made great play with the figures of the number of peers who are likely to go into every category. He held the House as he tried to explain how many of each type of peer there would be. My right hon. Friend the Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. Hugh Fraser) waxed indignant about this and said that the peers who would be changed into Conservative voting peers should be named.

I did not like the word "converted", which the Home Secretary used when he said that about 48 Conservative peers would be converted into voting peers. It is this group of people whose names we should know because the 278 whose number will be reduced to 48 are the peers who are being induced to support the Bill in another place by virtue of the possibility of their being included in the 48. Perhaps their names have not been revealed because the 230 disappointed ones might not find it so convenient to support the Measure.

I have a godfather who was at one time the Communist candidate in my constituency. I believe that he is the Shadow Minister of Agriculture for the Communist Party. I remember going to another place to hear him make his maiden speech. The late Lord Attlee followed that speech and began his congratulatory remarks by saying that it was an odd reflection on the constitution that the only way in which a Communist could enter either of the two Houses was by inheriting a peerage. If the Government have their way, even that possibility for a minority party, such as the Communist Party, to find a place in either House will be destroyed.

The hon. Lady the Member for Hamilton (Mrs. Ewing) and the hon. Member for Carmarthen (Mr. Gwynfor Evans), representing the Welsh and Scottish Nationalist Parties respectively, are not in their places, but who will nominate Welsh and Scottish Nationalist peers?

Mr. George Younger (Ayr)

My hon. Friend may be interested to know that there is none.

Mr. Ridley

When the cake is carved up between the two Front Benches and the mini-Front Bench, the Liberal Party, on which is sitting the hon. Member for Harrow, East (Mr. Roebuck), there will be no bits of cake for Communists, Nationalists, flat earthers and all the other minority parties which have until now found it possible to have representation in another place from time to time. This will greatly weaken the constitutional ability of minority groups to find a way into either House.

Are there any precedents for this idea of a two-tier system in another place in which there would be non-voting but attending Members? I believe that one of my ancestors in the 18th century tied in his election to the House of Commons and received exactly the same number of votes as his opponent. This perplexed the authorities because the electoral rules of those days made no provision for dealing with such a situation. In the end they were both entitled to sit in the House of Commons and speak, but neither was allowed to vote.

This situation continued until the votes could be recounted again; and no doubt by a suitable distribution of guineas in the right quarters, my ancestor was eventually declared elected. Are we not on the way to such a situation if the Government's present proposals for the other place are approved in their present form?

The only other parallel is the present situation in regard to the Opposition Front Bench. My right hon. Friends have become virtually non-voting Members of the House of Commons from the point of view of this Measure. It is an odd feeling to have among us right hon. Friends who come and go to and from the Chamber, who speak with us in the Smoking Room and who sit with us at dinner, but who we never see in the Lobby, voting either way.

Earl of Dalkeith

Is not my hon. Friend putting forward a good argument in favour of abolishing the non-hereditary basis of the House of Commons?

Mr. Ridley

It would be out of order for me to respond to that suggestion. I cannot imagine the implications off-hand, but perhaps my noble Friend and I would find ourselves the only people here.

In claiming advantages for the two-tier system, the Home Secretary said that at one blow we would do away with the ability of the Conservative-controlled other place to frustrate a Labour Government and, at the same time reduce the number of hereditary peers from 736 to 77. It is easier to deal with the second argument by merely asking why he wishes to reduce the number to 77. If he is against hereditary peers sitting solely by right of succession, why not reduce the number to nil? The Government have it in their power to do this by merely accepting the Amendment.

In arguing against the hereditary principle, the right hon. Gentleman thought that his hon. Friends should be pleased because they were getting a reduction of nine-tenths in the number of hereditary peers. When I asked him why he had not gone on and abolished the last one-tenth, he offered no reply but said that he would deal with the matter later in his speech. When he sat down he had not dealt with it, and I did not blame him.

Mr. Callaghan

I will answer the hon. Gentleman now. An Upper House with fewer than 230 Members would not be able to work. That might be an attractive argument for those who favour the Amendment. For the rest, it is necessary to have this element and they would have to be created. I did promise to give the hon. Gentleman an answer while I was speaking last and I apologise for not doing so before resuming my seat.

Mr. Ridley

The right hon. Gentleman has provided a fascinating new piece of information. Apparently we cannot man the House of Lords by nominees. We gather that not sufficient people are prepared to be nominated. We must have 77 old stagers because nobody else can be found to do the job properly.

Mr. Callaghan

I did not say anything of the sort.

Mr. Ridley

I must have got it wrong.

Mr. Callaghan

The hon. Gentleman did not get it wrong. He did not get it at all. I said that one could not work the House of Lords with fewer than 230 Members. I did not say that people could not be found. I dare say that there are many hon. Members who would like to go there if they had the opportunity. If the hon. Gentleman will study the table on page 5 of the White Paper he will see that there are many peers by succession who now attend for more than 33⅓ per cent. of the time. Those are the peers who basically, but not all of them, would be included. Please do not ask me to defend this. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] I have done my best to give the hon. Gentleman the explanation which he sought. I do not have to defend it.

Sir C. Osborne

Does not the right hon. Gentleman accept it?

Mr. Ridley

The right hon. Gentleman has not given me the explanation which I sought. I asked why he is not abolishing the remaining 77 hereditary peers and creating 77 more in the ratio of the parties, perhaps a few from the minority groups to which I referred. Why cannot we go the whole hog, if we are to have this bastard solution to the problem by creating by Prime Ministerial nomination?

The right hon. Gentleman now says that I should not ask him to defend the proposals in the Bill. Who will defend them? Where is their champion if the Minister in charge of the Bill is not prepared to defend the proposals, and nobody on the Opposition Front Bench is prepared to do so?

Mr. John Hall

On a point of order. Is it right that the Committee should have a Bill presented to it by a Minister who apparently does not believe in it and is therefore wasting the time of the Committee?

The Chairman (Mr. Sydney Irving)

Order. That is not a point of order.

Mr. Ridley

I have a copy of the Bill, and I see that the Home Secretary's name is the first—

Mr. Paget

On a point of order. After a number of proposals have been made to the Government to leave the Bill, and the Minister in charge of it has said that he can no longer support it, has not the time come to report progress?

The Chairman

Order. I cannot accept that.

Mr. Roebuck

Further to that point of order. Perhaps it will assist you, Mr. Irving, if I give you this early indication that those of us on the Liberal bench certainly do not support the proposal.

The Chairman

I was inclined to wonder whether there were strangers in the House.

Mr. Ridiey

I think that we have reached a very strange juncture when the Bill is stated to be Presented by Mr. Secretary Callaghan, supported by The Prime Minister, Mr. Secretary Cross-man, Mr. Fred Peart, Mr. Secretary Ross, Mr. Secretary Thomas, and Mr. Attorney-General".

An Hon. Member

Where are they?

Mr. Ridley

And when the right hon. Gentleman presenting the Bill is not prepared to defend the validity of the proposition.

Mr. Callaghan

I shall try again. I made a very long speech when the hon. Gentleman was not present. I have now added to it by means of an explanation that I promised to give the hon. Gentleman and omitted to give. I do not have to defend that any more. I made that defence in a speech when he and many other hon. Members were missing.

Mr. Ridley

I admit that I was caught out by the morning session when I was unable to be present. Perhaps that was when the right hon. Gentleman gave us the reason why he resists the Amendment. Its purpose is to remove the 77 hereditary peers who the Home Secretary estimates will have rights to attend but not to vote after the commencement of the Act. He has now stated that this is a proposition which he is not at this time prepared to defend, but which he did defend when I was not present. None of my hon. Friends can tell me that they were present and know what the defence was.

Therefore, the argument for resisting the Amendment, even if the right hon. Gentleman is prepared to proceed with the Bill, is non-existent. If he now marches into the Lobby against the Amendment, he will be voting for something he finds impossible to defend. This is a position that those of us at the backlash of the Whip have often been in, but nobody in the position of wielding the Whip should put himself in the position of voting for something he finds impossible to defend. The right hon. Gentleman has got himself into a position from which he cannot extricate himself.

I should like to deal with the right hon. Gentleman's other argument, which was meant to meet an argument that a Labour Government has to face a hostile majority in the Lords, which can be particularly damaging during the last year of a Parliament. My hon. Friend the Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne) went so far as to say that he could not defend this proposition, and that the Amendment should be carried as a result. I shall vote for the Amendment because I think that the whole idea of a two-tier House of Lords is nonsense, but I want to rebut the proposition that it is somehow unfair to a Labour Government.

The function of Parliament is different from that of Government. We are talking about a House of Parliament, the peers' House of Parliament. The function of Government is to govern and to propose all sorts of courses of action, some of which are very radical, dynamic and far-reaching in their effects. The more radical and Left-wing the Government, the more dynamic, revolutionary and radical the courses they suggest. The function of Parliament is to assent to those policies. The function of the other place in particular, which has never had to have a majority supporting the Government, is to delay, to give more time for thought, to take the edge off the spearhead of radical technological change and the white heat of technological revolution of which we have heard so much in the past few years.

It is no solution to say that all must be fair and equal, and that when we have a Conservative Government in office we should have a revolutionary crowd in another place who will propose all sorts of revolutionary developments and try to chivvy a Conservative Government—

Mr. John Hall

On a point of order. I beg to move, That the Chairman do report Progress and ask leave to sit again. I do so on the ground that it is clear from the progress of the debate, which has been going on all day, that the Committee as a whole is completely opposed to the Bill. Moreover, Ministers are joined in their opposition. They have no belief in the Bill.

The Chairman (Mr. Sydney Irving)

I am unable to accept the Motion.

Mr. Ridley

I think that I have said enough to make my point. It may not necessarily be a bad thing if the House of Lords is not always dominated by radical Members, because of the balance of the constitution between the dynamic of Government and the static of Parliament. The idea that the Parliamentary majority should be reflected in another place is contrary to the whole experience of government in this country and to the idea of having any brake of a constitutional nature on the Executive.

Sir C. Osborne

Surely my hon. Friend is not saying that he believes that a proper, elected Labour Government should be hamstrung in its last year of office, and that a Conservative Government should be free of that restraint? It is obviously fair that both parties should be treated equally in another place.

Mr. Walden

Come over here.

Sir C. Osborne

Your economic policies are too foolish for me to be associated with them.

I cannot agree with my hon. Friend when he says that he thinks that our party, to which I am proud to belong, should have an advantage inside the constitution that gives it, at the end of its period in office, a year's grace more than its opponents would have in the same situation.

Sir A. V. Harvey rose

The Chairman

Order. We must have one intervention at a time.

Mr. Ridley

I do not make any distinction between Labour and Conservative. I make the distinction between a Government seeking to change things and the need of the country to have sufficient time to study and reflect on the wisdom of making the changes proposed. In their last year of office Governments are always in a weak position because they might lose the coming General Election and have their policies reversed by the incoming Government. All that the House of Lords has done is to reflect this weakness in the constitutional position of any Government in their last year of office.

Sir A. V. Harvey

I am with my hon. Friend, but will he take this a little further? Will he consider that if there is a Labour majority in another place it could extend the life of its Parliament for another year?

Mr. Ridley

An example of what should be a function of another place is that they should vote against the Bill. Here is a classic example of immoderate, ill-thought out and incorrect change. It is exactly my idea of another place that it should stop such a Bill until the people have had a chance to think about it, reflect on it, and express their views in the vote.

Mr. Roebuck

What would be the position if there were a Liberal majority in another place?

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

The imagination boggles.

Mr. Ridley

I agree with my right hon. Friend. I think that the only way in which that could be achieved would be if the Bill became law and there were massive creations by the Prime Minister. He would have to make the fishes and the six loaves into millions in order to fill another place.

Mr. Stanley Orme (Salford, West)

Will the hon. Gentleman try to explain how the in-built Conservative hereditary majority has, like his right hon. Friends on the Opposition Front Bench, agreed to the reforms he is now opposing?

Mr. Ridley

Under a series of false pretences. First, they were offered several thousand pounds a year, and they have been kept guessing as to which of them will get it. Of the 278 Tories eligible to be made into voting peers, we are told that only 48 will be converted. "Castled" would be a better word, because "converted" reminds me of North Sea gas. Only 48 will be castled. The other 230, if they but knew who they were, would be much less keen in their support of the Bill.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

On a point of order. Is it in order for an hon. Member to impute corruption to Members of another place?

The Chairman

Order. I do not think that that was the hon. Gentleman's intention.

Mr. Hugh Fraser

We want to know who the 77 are. We want to have their names published. Perhaps we should have a Select Committee, under my hon. Friend the Member for Worcestershire, South (Sir G. Nabarro) to look into this.

Mr. Ridley

I must cross swords with my right hon. Friend the Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. Hugh Fraser). He keeps getting the figures wrong. The 77 are the existing successional peers who will continue to have the right to sit, but not to vote; the 48 are the number of Conservative sitting successional peers who will be converted—castled—by the Prime Minister into voting peers. "The 48 are those who are most—

The Chairman

The hon. Member is going a long way from the Amendment.

Mr. John Hall

On a point of order. In view of that Ruling, Mr. Irving, is it not clear that throughout the whole of the debate on the Amendment no one has kept to the Amendment?

The Chairman

I hope that the hon. Gentleman does not intend a reflection on the Chair. I am endeavouring to ensure that the hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley) stays in order.

Mr. Ridley

I return immediately to the point. It seems necessary to have a little nomenclature, because we are getting confused with the various classes of peer, the voting peers, the peers who attend and who do not vote, and the peers who do not attend or vote. We need to find names for them. The hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) suggested the name "Preamble peers" and my right hon. Friend the Member for Flint, West (Mr. Birch) suggested "nominee peers".

The Chairman

Order. The hon. Gentleman is again straying from the Amendment and I must ask him to come back to order.

Mr. Ridley

It will help tremendously if these three classes of peers—

The Chairman

Order. The hon. Gentleman is pursuing exactly the point which I asked him not to pursue.

Mr. Ridley

I am sorry, Mr. Irving, I will leave that immediately.

I want finally to refer to the motive for leaving these 77 about whom the inter-party talks, the bargain, have taken place. Various hon. and right hon. Gentlemen have given different reasons to explain this curious anomaly. My right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) said that it was a sweetener, that in some way it would appeal to a large number of peers, and the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale said that it was a concession to the Tories. I do not believe that either of those explanations is right, although doubtless there is some element of truth in both.

I believe that this is the typically British way of doing things, and it is an extremely sloppy way. We never have the courage to destroy anything, even though we intend to destroy its usefulness and its rôle and its power. I am surprised that there are not still—perhaps there are—gentlemen who are officers of the Star Chamber in our constitution. There are certainly many right hon. Gentlemen who are members of the Privy Council, an instrument of government which went out of active use many generations ago. One might almost say that Parliament itself has become a slightly out-dated form of political—

The Chairman

Order. The hon. Gentleman is getting wide of the Amendment.

Mr. Ridley

I am sorry, Mr. Irving.

The point I wanted to make was that this relic of successional peers has been left because we like to be soft-hearted. We do not want to exclude these people or to appear to be too hard on them. But if we are to reform our institutions, we cannot have it both ways. We must either make it a nominated House, a fully automatic, nominated House, on the lines which the Government have proposed, or leave it on the old system.

To try to have the best of both worlds, or, as many of us think, the worst of both worlds, and to have both these relics of the past and peers who can vote is, as has already been said, obnoxious, objectionable and something which should be voted down in the Lobby.

Mr. Brian O'Malley (Lord Commissioner of the Treasury) rose in his place and claimed to move, That the Question be now put:—

Question put, That the Question be now put:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 171, Noes 101.

Division No. 79.] AYES [6.50 p.m.
Abse, Leo Davies, Ifor (Gower) Harrison, Walter (Wakefield)
Anderson, Donald Dempsey, James Haseldine, Norman
Archer, Peter Dewar, Donald Hazell, Bert
Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.) Dobson, Ray Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Doig, Peter Hobden, Dennis
Bence, Cyril Driberg, Tom Hooley, Frank
Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood Dunn, James A. Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas
Bennett, James (G'gow, Bridgeton) Dunnett, Jack Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.)
Blackburn, F. Eadie, Alex Howell, Denis (Small Heath)
Bray, Dr. Jeremy Ellis, John Howie, W.
Brooks, Edwin English, Michael Hoy, James
Brown, Rt. Hn. George (Belpor) Ennals, David Huckfield, Leslie
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan) Ensor, David Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey)
Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.) Evans, Fred (Caerphilly) Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)
Buchan, Norman Evans, loan L. (Birm'h'm, Yardley) Hunter, Adam
Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn)
Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James Fernyhough, E. Hynd, John
Carmichael, Neil Finch, Harold Irvine, Sir Arthur (Edge Hill)
Concannon, J. D. Ford, Ben Jackson, Colin (B'h'se & Spenb'gh)
Conlan, Bernard Forrester, John Janner, Sir Barnett
Crawshaw, Richard Fowler, Gerry Jeger, George (Goole)
Cronin, John Gardner, Tony Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)
Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony Garrett, W. E. Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)
Crossman, Rl. Hn. Richard Ginsburg, David Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, West)
Cullen, Mrs. Alice Gordon-Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C. Judd, Frank
Dalyell, Tam Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth) Kenyon, Clifford
Davidson, Arthur (Accrington) Gregory, Arnold Ledger, Ron
Davidson, James (Aberdeenshire, W.) Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton)
Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.) Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside) Lestor, Miss Joan
Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford) Hamilton, James (Bothwell) Lewis, Arthur (W. Ham, N.)
Davies, Rt. Hn. Harold (Leek) Hannan, William Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)
Lipton, Marcus O'Malley, Brian Small, William
Loughlin, Charles Orbach, Maurice Spriggs, Leslie
Lubbock, Eric Orr-Ewing, Sir lan Steele, Thomas (Dunbartonshire, W.)
McBride, Neil Oswald, Thomas Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael
McCann, John Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn) Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.
Macdonald, A. H. Page, Derek (King's Lynn) Taverne, Dick
McKay, Mrs. Margaret Parker, John (Dagenham) Tinn, James
Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen) Parkyn, Brian (Bedford) Tuck, Raphael
Mackintosh, John P. Pavitt, Laurence Urwin, T. W.
Maclennan, Robert Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred Varley, Eric G.
McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.) Pentland, Noman Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
McNamara, J. Kevin Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.) Watkins, David (Consett)
MacPherson, Malcolm Prentice, Rt. Hn. R. E. Watkins, Tudor (Brecon & Radnor)
Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.) Probert, Arthur Wellbeloved, James
Manuel, Archie Rankin, John Whitaker, Ben
Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert Rees, Merlyn White, Mrs. Eirene
Millan, Bruce Richard, Ivor Wilkins, W. A.
Miller, Dr. M. S. Roberts, Albert (Normanton) Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Milne, Edward (Blyth) Roberts, Rt. Hn. Goronwy Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)
Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test) Robinson, Rt. Hn. Kenneth (St. P'c'as) Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)
Moonman, Eric Rodgers, William (Stockton) Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire) Rose, Paul Winnick, David
Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) Ross, Rt. Hn. William Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.
Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw) Rowlands, E. Woof, Robert
Morris, John (Aberavon) Shaw, Arnold (Ilford, S.)
Murray, Albert Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney) TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Cakes, Gordon Short, Rt. Hn. Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne) Mr. Joseph Harper and
Ogden, Eric Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford) Mr. Charles Grey.
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Hamilton, William (Fife, W.) Prior, J. M. L.
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere Pym, Francis
Balniel, Lord Hay, John Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon
Bell, Ronald Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel Ridley, Hn. Nicholas
Biffen, John Heath, Rt. Hn. Edward Ridsdale, Rt. Hn. Julian
Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel Higgins, Terence L. Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)
Boardman, Tom (Leicester, S. W.) Hirst, Geoffrey Roebuck, Roy
Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John Hooson, Emlyn Russell, Sir Ronald
Braine, Bernard Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Ryan, John
Buchanan-Smith, Alick (Angus, N&M) Jackson, Peter M. (High Peak) St. John-stevas, Norman
Campbell, B. (Oldham, W.) Jennings, J. C. (Burton) Scott-Hopkins, James
Channon, H. P. G. Kaberry, Sir Donald Sharples, Richard
Cooke, Robert Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter & Chatham) Sheldon, Robert
Costain, A. P. Kerr, Russell (Feltham) Short, Mrs. Renée (W'hampton, N. E.)
Dalkeith, Earl of Kitson, Timothy Silvester, Frederick
Dickens, James Knight, Mrs. Jill Smith, John (London & W 'minster)
Eden, Sir John MacArthur, lan Steel, David (Roxburgh)
Elliott, R. W.(N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.) Mackenzie, Alasdair (Ross&Crom'ty) Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M.
Emery, Peter Maude, Angus Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret
Ewing, Mrs. Winifred Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy
Eyre, Reginald Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J. Tilney, John
Farr, John Monro, Hector Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.
Fletcher-Cooke, Charles More, Jasper Wainwright, Richard (Colne Valley)
Foot, Rt. Hn. Sir Dingle (Ipswich) Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh) Walden, Brian (All Saints)
Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale) Nabarro, Sir Gerald Walters, Dennis
Fraser, Rt. Hn. Hugh (St'fford & Stone) Neave, Airey Ward, Dame Irene
Gilmour, lan (Norfolk, C.) Norwood, Christopher Wells, John (Maidstone)
Glover, Sir Douglas Nott, John Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William
Goodhart, Philip Orme, Stanley Winstanley, Dr. M. P.
Gower, Raymond Osborn, John (Hallam) Woodnutt, Mark
Gresham Cooke, R. Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth) Younger, Hn. George
Griffiths, Will (Exchange) Page, Graham (Crosby)
Grimond, Rt. Hn. J. Paget, R. T. TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Hall, John (Wycombe) Peyton, John Mr. Victor Goodhew and
Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch Mr. John Biggs-Davison.

Question put accordingly, That the Amendment be made:—

The Committee divided: Ayes 86, Noes 174.

Division No. 80.] AYES 7.2 p.m.
Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.) Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John Emery, Peter
Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.) Brooks, Edwin Ewing, Mrs. Winifred
Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham) Brown, Rt. Hn. George (Belper) Farr, John
Balniel, Lord Campbell, B. (Oldham, W.) Fletcher-Cooke, Charles
Bell, Ronald Channon, H. P. G. Fraser, Rt. Hn. Hugh (St'ftord & Stone)
Bessell, Peter Cooke, Robert Gardner, Tony
Biffen, John Crawshaw, Richard Gilmour, lan (Norfolk, C.)
Biggs-Davison, John Davidson, James (Aberdeenshire, W.) Glover, Sir Douglas
Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel Dickens, James Goodhart, Philip
Booth, Albert Dunwoody, Dr. John (F'th & C'b'e) Goodhew, Victor
Gresham Cooke, R. Mackenzie, Alasdair (Ross&Crom'ty) Sharples, Richard
Griffiths, Will (Exchange) Marquand, David Sheldon, Robert
Grimond, Rt. Hn. J. Maude, Angus Short, Mrs. Renée (Whampton, N. E.)
Hall, John (Wycombe) Mills, Peter (Torrington) Silvester, Frederick
Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury) Nabarro, Sir Gerald Smith, John (London & W'minster)
Hay, John Neave, Airey Steel, David (Roxburgh)
Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel Newens, Stan Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.
Hooson, Emlyn Norwood, Christopher Wainwright, Richard (Colne Valley)
Howie, W. Nott, John Walden, Brian (All Saints)
Huckfield, Leslie Orme, Stanley Walters, Dennis
Hughes, Emrys (Ayrshire, S.) Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth) Ward, Dame Irene
Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye) Page, Graham (Crosby) Wells, John (Maidstone)
Jackson, Peter M. (High Peak) Paget, R. T. Whitaker, Ben
Jennings, J. C. (Burton) Peyton, John Winstanley, Dr. M. P.
Kaberry, Sir Donald Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick
Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter & Chatham) Rhys Williams, Sir Brandon Woodnutt, Mark
Kerr, Russell (Feltham) Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)
Kitson, Timethy Roebuck, Roy TELLERS FOR THE AYES:
Knight, Mrs. Jill Rowlands, E. Mr. Michael Foot and
Lubbock, Eric St. John-Stevas, Norman Mr. William Hamilton.
Abse, Leo Hamilton, James (Bothwell) O'Malley, Brian
Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead) Hannan, William Orbach, Maurice
Anderson, Donald Harrison, Walter (Wakefield) Oswald, Thomas
Archer, Peter Haseldine, Norman Owen, Dr. David (Plymouth, S'tn)
Bagier, Gordon A. T. Hazell, Bert Owen, Will (Morpeth)
Bence, Cyril Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret Page, Derek (King's Lynn)
Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood Higgins, Terence L. Parker, John (Dagenham)
Bennett, James (G'gow, Bridgeton) Hirst, Geoffrey Parkyn, Brian (Bedford)
Blackburn, F. Hobden, Dennis Pavitt, Laurence
Bray, Dr. Jeremy Hogg, Rt. Hn. Quintin Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred
Brown, Hugh D. (G'gow, Provan) Hooley, Frank Pentiand, Norman
Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.) Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.)
Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & F'bury) Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.) Prentice, Rt. Hn. R. E.
Buchan, Norman Howell, Denis (Small Heath) Probert, Arthur
Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn) Hoy, James Pym, Francis
Buchanan-Smith, Alick (Angus, N&M) Hughes, Rt. Hn. Cledwyn (Anglesey) Rees, Merlyn
Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.) Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David
Carmichael, Neil Hunter, Adam Richards, Ivor
Concannon, J. D. Hynd, John Roberts, Albert (Normanton)
Conlan, Bernard Irvine, Sir Arthur (Edge Hill) Roberts, Rt. Hn. Goronwy
Cronin, John Jackson, Colin (B'h'se & Spenb'gh) Robinson, Rt. Hn. Kenneth (St. P'c'as)
Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony Rodgers, William (Stockton)
Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard Janner, Sir Barnett Ross, Rt. Hn. William
Cullen, Mrs. Alice Jeger, George (Goole) Shaw, Arnold (Ilford, S.)
Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W. Ham, S.) Shore, Rt. Hn. Peter (Stepney)
Dalkeith, Earl of
Daiyell, Tam Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, West) Short, Rt. Hn. Edward (N'c'tle-u-Tyne)
Davidson, Arthur (Accrington) Judd, Frank Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)
Davies, G. Elfed (Rhondda, E.) Kenyon, Clifford Small, William
Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford) Ledger, Ron Spriggs, Leslie
Davies, Rt. Hn. Harold (Leek) Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton) Steele, Thomas (Dunbartonshire, W.)
Davies, Ifor (Gower) Lestor, Miss Joan Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael
Dempsey, James Lewis, Ron (Carlisle) Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.
Dewar, Donald Lipton, Marcus Taverne, Dick
Dobson, Ray Loughlin, Charles Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret
Doig, Peter McBride, Neil Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy
Dunn, James A. McCann, John Tilney, John
Dunnett, Jack Maedonald, A. H. Tinn, James
Eadie, Alex McKay, Mrs. Margaret Tuck, Raphael
Eden, Sir John Mackenzie, Gregor (Rutherglen) Urwin, T. W.
Elliott, R. W.(N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, N.) Mackintosh, John P. Varley, Eric G.
Ellis, John Maclennan, Robert
English, Michael McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.) Walker, Harold (Doncaster)
Ennals, David McNamara, J. Kevin Watkins, David (Consott)
Ensor, David Macpherson, Malcoim Watkins, Tudor (Brecon & Radnor)
Evans, Fred (Caerphilly) Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.) Wellbeloved, James
Evans, loan L. (Birm'h'm, Yardley) Manuel, Archie White, Mrs. Eirene
Ferryhough, E. Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William
Finch, Harold Mellish, Rt. Hn. Robert Wilkins, W. A.
Foley, Maurice Millan, Bruce Williams, Alan (Swansea, W.)
Ford, Ben Miller, Dr. M. S. Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)
Forrester, John Milne, Edward Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)
Fowler, Gerry Moonman, Eric Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)
Garrett, W. E. Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire) Winnick, David
Ginsburg, David Morgan, Geraint (Denbigh) Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.
Gordon Walker, Rt. Hn. P. C. Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe) Woof, Robert
Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth) Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw) Younger, Hn. George
Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony Morris, John (Aberavon)
Gregory, Arnold Murray, Albert TELLERS FOR THE NOES:
Griffiths, David (Rother Valley) Oakes, Gordon Mr. Joseph Harper and
Griffiths, Eddie (Brightside) Ogden, Eric Mr. Charles Grey.
Mr. Roebuck

On a point of order, Mr. Irving. Since the right hon. Member for Devon, North (Mr. Thorpe) and his disciples are back in the Chamber, would it not be in order for them to propose a vote of thanks to me for nobly filling the breach? May I seek your advice about the application which has been made on my behalf for the right hon. Gentleman's room in the House?

The Chairman (Mr. Sydney Irving)

It is not a matter for the Chair.

Mr. Hooson

Further to that point of order.

The Chairman

Order. The hon. and learned Gentleman cannot speak to a point of order which was not a point of order.

Mr. Hooson

On a point of order. Is it in order for an hon. Member who was absent from the House most of the afternoon now to usurp a seat which has been vacated for a few minutes?

The Chairman

That is not a point of order.

Mr. Sheldon

On a point of order. A personal attack has been made upon me. Surely it is not for me to point out that for most of the afternoon I have been busily engaged in doing my duty on the Select Committee on the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration.

The Chairman

The hon. Gentleman cannot raise that as a point of order.

Mr. Sheldon

I beg to move Amendment No. 107, in page 2, line 42, after 'as', insert 'full'.

The Chairman

We can discuss with this Amendment No. 108, in page 2, line 42, after first 'peers)', insert: 'members possessing restricted voting rights (in this Act referred to as restricted voting peers)'; and Amendment No. 106, in line 42, leave out 'voting peers shall consist' and insert: 'full voting peers shall consist only of life peers and the restricted voting peers shall consist'. both standing in the name of the hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Mr. Sheldon) and the names of other hon. Members.

Mr. Sheldon

Once again we are in the familiar position of having to yield ground because Amendments we wished to promote have fallen. I would have preferred Amendment No. 10, whereby we would have had only one tier in the House of Lords. Since that was not carried, I have to yield the ground and thereby defend something which I prefer less but which is still preferable to the Bill as it stands. If we cannot have only one tier in the House of Lords, then I would prefer Amendment No. 107, which would draw a certain distinction between various kinds of peers. If there is to be a distinction, there is no reason to accept the distinction set out in the White Paper and in the Bill.

The only distinction I can now draw is a three-way division of the peers—life peers, peers of first creation and successionist peers. Where life peers differ from the others is that they have usually been men and women of some eminence—much more usually than those in the other two categories. They have been chosen mainly because they were representative of different kinds of background and, as a result, have introduced into the House of Lords a wide range of varying interests. Another aspect of their distinctiveness is that they tend to be rather older than the average level in the House of Lords. I suppose that one could say that being older they tend to introduce the certain amount of bias—political or social—that is the frequent concommitant of age.

The peers of first creation are generally part of the aristocracy—certainly more so than the life peers. Admittedly, the aristocratic element in the peers of first creation also introduce a similar bias of age, although it does not operate in quite the same way, mainly because of the way in which they were ennobled.

The peers of first creation form a fascinating backcloth to the history of the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. A large number of them were the result of political pay-off, which was such a common feature of those times. We still have that now, but it is rather different in a sense, mainly because those who engage now in political life require some sum of money to go with their peerages and this is not readily available. At the time of ennoblement of peers of first creation, however, it was automatically assumed that they had no financial problems. The method of appointment—"kicking upstairs"—was a common feature of our Parliamentary life during that period, far more than it is today.

One can argue that there were great advantages in it. We had a ready-made rubbish bin where we could dispose of those less useful Members of this House at little expense and with considerable convenience to the Government. But what made peers of first creation so suitable in the context of those times makes them less suitable now. I am not saying that this was the only element. There were certain ennoblements due to family obligations of the kind outlined in the memoirs of Mr. Cecil King recently.

Notice taken that 40 Members were not present:

Committee counted, and, 40 Members being present

7.15 p.m.

Mr. Sheldon

I was saying that the peers of first creation provide a quite different kind of peer from the life peers, and that it is not just a question of appointment for life as opposed to the hereditary element. The ways in which they were ennobled were quite different. The political reasons have been mentioned and there were also reasons of commitments of family obligations of one kind and another, as outlined in the memoirs of Mr. Cecil King, which have provided a fascinating background to the way in which—

The Chairman

Order. I must ask the hon. Gentleman to come straight to the Amendment.

Mr. Sheldon

Yes, Mr. Irving. I was referring to the distinction between three classes of peers which, I suggest, we should treat rather differently. The third class of peers is the successionist peers, who owe their position in the House of Lords purely to birth.

It is not necessarily the case that these three kinds of peers should have exactly the same rights. My preference would have been for one class of peers. Since we are not to have that, my second preference is not for two classes but for three. I suggest that the life peers have far more to commend them than the peers of first creation, for the reasons I have given, so I would restrict peers of first creation to voting on matters on which, for example, the House of Commons has not reached a decision.

One can find certain criteria as to what they should vote on—whether certain legislation should be excluded or perhaps other matters upon which the House of Commons had decided. This is not included in Amendment No. 107, but I did include it in an Amendment which is, however, not being discussed with it. I will not go further into that now, except to say that there is an interesting way in which we can define the relevance of life peers differently from the relevance of peers of first creation. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary pointed out that there would be 77 peers of succession out of 230. Where are the 153 other peers coming from? Are they to be life peers? Are there to be new creations?

The Chairman

Order. The hon. Gentleman must come to the Amendment. Where the peers come from has nothing to do with whether they have restricted rights or not.

Mr. Sheldon

I only intend to make a short speech.

The Chairman

I will be glad to help the hon. Gentleman to do so where I can.

Mr. Hugh Jenkins (Putney)

I ask my hon. Friend the Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Mr. Sheldon) not so to shorten his speech as to leave his arguments unclarified. Is it part of his plan to create a three-tier Upper House?

Mr. Sheldon

My argument is that one tier is best. I supported Amendment No. 10 with my vote as well as with my voice. The second-best is not a two-tier system. If we are to have a nonsensical refinement of the House of Lords, I would prefer a better degree of it and to draw a distinction between three kinds of peer. That would make rather more sense than what the Bill proposes.

One should be able to consider the various other ways in which a distinction of this kind could operate. The purpose of my Amendment is to initiate that discussion on the various rights of differentiated peers. Since I would be ruled out of order on these matters, I will confine myself to this somewhat narrow Amendment and merely point out that there is a strong case for not accepting too readily the proposed two-tier system but rather for making the kind of distinction which has been shown by experience to be the distinction which is made in the House of Lords at present.

Mr. Walden

I am rather sorry that, although I normally agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Mr. Sheldon) on this Bill, I cannot agree with him on this Amendment. Despite the vote that we have just had, it will be clear that the majority of this House would prefer a one-tier House of Lords, assuming that we have to have the other place at all. A minority would be in favour of not having it. That matter has been disposed of. We cannot now have a one-tier House of Lords, and the Government, against all the best advice such at that given by my hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot), the right hon. Member for Stafford and Stone (Mr. Hugh Fraser), the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell), not to mention various hon. Members on the Liberal benches, have decided to pursue this folly and we are now to have the two-tier system.

There have been those who did not offer advice, those who have already entered into a collusion not to express an honest view, as the Home Secretary virtually admitted he had. He said that he had nothing to say and he hoped that we would not press him too much.

This two-tier system will be a nonsense, an embarrassment and an object of derision for as long as it lasts, which may be a very long time. My hon. Friend argues that if we cannot have what we all know is right, namely, the one-tier system, then it is a good idea not to have a two-tier system but to go further and refine it to a three-tier system. This is not good because it would pile absurdity upon absurdity.

How, when we have committed ourselves to a nonsense, can we commit ourselves to a greater nonsense? My hon. Friend said that there should be a differentiation between those people who could vote on matters on which the House of Commons had already made a decision and those people who would be allowed to vote, not on matters that the House of Commons had decided, but on matters that it had not decided. There are those unfortunate creatures who could not vote at all.

The effect of this Amendment would be to create three kinds of peers in respect of their relationship with the voter. There would be those below the salt and with no very great pride, who would agree to be present on the condition that they could not vote at all. Some, the tame puppies of the two Front Benches, would be there and allowed to vote on everything. Those who had appointed them would make sure that they sent people who would vote for them on any issue. My hon. Friend now suggests an intermediate category, those who can vote, provided the House of Commons has made no decision on the matter. I can foresee great constitutional complexities about this. I do not think it will grade matters on a proper scale of importance. If it was always the case that, having made a decision in the House of Commons, such a decision covered an urgent, immediate and important matter or, having failed to make a decision, that ipso facto demonstrated that it was not an urgent, important matter, then my hon. Friend's Amendment would have a point. That is far from being the case.

The House of Commons has not made decisions on matters that I regard as most urgent. On the other hand, it has made decisions on matters which I regard as of the utmost triviality. It makes no sense to have a voting category in the Lords which is allowed to vote on matters on which this House has not made a decision, but is not allowed to vote on matters on which we have reached a decision. If it is assumed that we have not come to a decision because it is not a matter of importance, that is not the case.

7.30 p.m.

My hon. Friend ought to consider this seriously, because I do not think that he has thought out all the implications of his Amendment. I see very real difficulties in deciding what is and what is not a decision of the House of Commons. Suppose, on that sad occasion last June, a matter relevant to Rhodesia had been under discussion. I can see difficulties as to exactly how far and on what basis the House of Commons has committed itself to a view on Rhodesia. It has committed itself to a view on the "Fearless" settlement, but has it yet committed itself to a view on the constitution that the illegal Government of Rhodesia propose to apply? Obviously not. It has not yet been given time by the Leader of the House to do so, and I wish that he would withdraw this Bill and give us that time.

Obviously, the House of Commons has not made a decision on that crucial part of the Rhodesian problem. What would be the position of one of these hybrid peers should matters arise relating to the "Fearless" settlement and the proposed constitution of the illegal Government? Have we made a decision on that or not? We could have a long argument about that.

Mr. Roebuck

This is an interesting and fascinating point, and my hon. Friend ought to do the Committee the honour of elaborating it further. Could he envisage what would happen if the House of Commons had not reached a decision, but the Leader of the House, the previous Thursday, had said that the House would be given the opportunity to reach a decision on a subject? Would there then be an unseemly rush in another place to start talking about it before this House had the opportunity to do so?

The Chairman

Order. This is out of order. The Amendment is concerned with the categories of restricted voting peers. I hope that the hon. Member will keep to the Amendment.

Mr. Walden

I was only pointing out that my hon. Friend has admitted that the purpose of this Amendment would be to create these distinctions. I do not think that the Amendment would improve the two-tier system. I want to say a word in defence of keeping this Clause as we now have it and in rejecting the Amendment. Consider the advantages of the two-tier system. The Prime Minister told us, on Second Reading, that there were people who, because of the gravity of the jobs they do, could not find time to take part in legislative activity; they did not have time to become Parliamentary candidates. They can serve in another place if they have to serve on a full-time basis. Since they are doing serious and important work, helping forward the technological revolution, they have no time to devote on a professional basis to politics—the mere practice of legislative politics.

The two-tier system will get rid of that. I do not share the fears expressed by some hon. Friends that there will be a difficulty in recruiting honest, upright, and if I may say so, simple men, who will fill this category. I predict an enormous number of applications. I would be out of order in referring to salary. One of the remarkable things about the Bill is the extent to which all references to salary are kept out, or consigned to the marginal notes of Ministers. Even on the attractions of the Bill there will not be a shortage of applicants for the other place.

The Chairman

Order. The hon. Gentleman is not addressing himself to the Amendment, which has to do with the making of a further category of restricted voting peers.

Mr. Walden

There will be no difficulty in providing people for the second tier of those who are allowed to vote. There will be a queue for it, and they will all be admirable men, well-versed in the things that have come to matter in our country, science and technology and the correct working of industry. They will not need to know very much about politics, other than who appointed them. They will be very clear about that. They will know to whom they owe their gratitude. There will be no problem in respect of those unfortunate members of the hereditary peerage who will be, selected, as the spokesman for the Government Front Bench put it, or as the hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley) said, "castled". To continue with the chess analogy, I would prefer to say "promoted". They would be promoted to be Members of the House of Lords without voting rights. I do not understand the kind of man who would accept an arrangement like that.

The Chairman

Order. The hon. Gentleman is not concerning himself with restricted voting peers. That is what the Amendment is about.

Mr. Walden

There will not be any shortage of these people. We can give precise numbers. The number is 77. That number would eventually be compounded, promoted, castled, or compressed. We have this two-tier system, for which I can think of only one advantage in the world, that it is better than the previous system. At least we know what we will get under the system. We know the measure of contempt that we will be able properly to give to an assembly so comprised.

If the Amendment were carried and my hon. Friend's intentions were given effect, the sort of questions—[Interruption.] Did the hon. Gentleman wish me to give way?

Mr. Biggs-Davison

I apologise if I interrupted—

The Chairman

Order. The hon. Gentleman is going outside the practice of the Committee. It was clear that the hon. Member for Chigwell (Mr. Biggs-Davison) made no attempt to intervene. I hope that the hon. Member for Birmingham, All Saints (Mr. Walden) will not invite him to do so without obvious cause.

Mr. Walden

I was misled by my right hon. Friend the Leader of the House, who said "Order". I assumed that an hon. Member wished to interject from a direction in which I was not looking as I was, of course, facing you, Mr. Irving.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

I did not wish to intervene at this moment, but as the hon. Gentleman was so courteous as to give way, perhaps I can apologise for interrupting the thread of his most interesting speech which I did not wish to do and which I would not have done had not the Lord President of the Council interrupted the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. Walden

I accept what the hon. Gentleman has said. I feel no sense of offence at all.

The Chairman

Order. Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will address himself to the Amendment.

Mr. Walden

The hon. Gentleman obviously believes in the theory, which is common among some colleagues, that if anything is wrong it will eventually be traced back to the Leader of the House. I thought that my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary would be on this odious treadmill today, but I see that there is a division and that the unfortunate Leader of the House must take his share in this matter; he has to defend this appalling Bill. If my hon. Friend's Amendment were carried it would make bad worse.

Mr. Sheldon

Would my hon. Friend address his mind to the need to enshrine in legislation that which is natural in effect? What is natural about the present division in three ways?

Mr. Walden

I do not accept that it is natural, nor that it is always our practice to enshrine in legislation that which is true in effect. This Bill will not enshrine in reality what is true in effect. I see real disadvantages in the system which my hon. Friend suggests.

Who are these men who are prepared to cast their votes when the House of Commons has not made a decision? They could be members of the hereditary peerage who do not qualify. They will not be the 40 members of the 77 we have been told about by the Home Secretary. They will start with a proper sense of disadvantage and resentment. Having failed to get in by the front door and to be selected on merits, availability, sense of gratitude or previous obligations, they will be let in only on the understanding that they can vote on matters which have not been decided by the House of Commons. Even to that extent they will have gerater power than those members of the hereditary peerage who have been admitted by the front door who will not be able to vote on anything.

I suppose that it could be argued that their sense of deprivation in not having got through the compression process would be outweighed by the fact that, if we accept the Amendment, the House of Commons, out of its generosity, will have allowed them to cast votes on matters which those who were selected from the original 700 are not allowed to cast votes on.

Mr. Sheldon

My hon. Friend may be labouring under the misapprehension that peers of first creation with restricted voting rights are, in my Amendment, designed to be additional to the 230. The intention of my Amendment is that they would be part of the 230.

7.45 p.m.

Mr. Walden

My hon. Friend is right. I was under a misapprehension. I thought that we were opening up the discussion very wide in having more than 230. That is dangerous in view of the large numbers of applications which there will be for membership of the new Chamber. If that is my hon. Friend's intention, he should have directed his mind to the question of who will be excluded to make room for these peers. We have been told that the figure of 736 would be compressed to 77. On the other hand, the rest of the 230 Members will be nominees.

Which section will make the sacrifice? Who will give up what to enable the creation of these hybrid peers? How many will there be? If it is to be for the Front Benches—and God forbid, but I suppose that that is how it will end—to decide who those hybrid peers will be, we should know how many it is envisaged will be created and how many additional opportunities for patronage there will be. If the hereditary element is to be further diminished, which I should have thought was of considerable concern to hon. Members opposite, if the 736 Members of the Upper House are to be compressed to 42, and if there is to be patronage for a hybrid who can vote only on matters not decided by the House of Commons, we should be told.

Mr. Sheldon

My hon. Friend is making the point which I made when I asked the Home Secretary where the other 153 peers were to come from. We know about the 77. What we do not know is where the 153 will come from. Before we are able to define accurately in the Amendment what we have in mind, we need to know about those 153.

Mr. Walden

Opposed as I am to my hon. Friend on the Amendment, I must say that he has a fair point.

The Chairman

Order. The intervention of the hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Mr. Sheldon) was out of order.

Mr. Walden

Then I will not take it up, Mr. Irving, other than to say to the Leader of the House that we need some clarification on the question of where the nominees will come from.

Mr. Peart

Not on this Amendment.

Mr. Walden

My right hon. Friend says, "Not on this Amendment". I take that to be a pledge that we shall hear something about nominees on another Amendment or on the Question, That the Clause stand part of the Bill. One of the fascinating questions which we want answered concerns the nature of nomination.

These matters need to be very carefully considered. I do not think that my hon. Friend the Member for Ashton-under-Lyne has carefully considered them. His Amendment would create a measure of confusion in a most unfortunate and undesirable but at least straightforward and simple system. We know what we shall get as the Bill stands. We shall have a Chamber with no value and no prestige. It will be made up of such hereditary peers as have already been sworn in plus the nominees of the Front Bench. That is straightforward and we shall know what to think of that place and of the people who choose to serve in it.

If the Amendment were carried, a great deal of confusion in terms of our response and of the practicality of working it would arise. I therefore ask hon. Members to consider very carefully before following what may be their natural inclination to vote for the Amendment which my hon. Friend so ably moved.

Mr. Airey Neave (Abingdon)

The hon. Member for Birmingham, All Saints (Mr. Walden) has clearly demonstrated the utter farce of discussing this Bill in its present form. The farce of the two-tier system is enough, but, despite my admiration for the gallant efforts of the hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Mr. Sheldon), I do not think that a three-tier system would make it any simpler to understand or more effective to work. The tragedy of the Bill is that it has nothing to do with the effectivenes of Parliament as a whole. In no sense is it a reform of Parliament as a whole. That is why my hon. Friends and I and some hon. Members opposite oppose it. They should continue to oppose it in a most determined manner and to seek to amend it in any constructive way possible.

The hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne suggested yet a third type of peer—a restricted voting peer. When the hon. Member for All Saints talked about a rush of applications for membership of the other place, I am sure that he was not referring to this type of peer. There will not be a rush of applications to be a restricted voting peer any more than there will be a rush of applications to be a non-voting peer. The purpose, surely, of reform is to obtain the sort of people from industry, science and the professions, who will have some influence over our affairs. It is, therefore, a complete absurdity to create any type of peer who has not the right to sit and vote, and even more so to create a third type who can vote only on certain occasions.

I was not too clear what those occasions will be, because it will be very difficult to decide when the House of Commons has actually made a decision. Does this refer to a decision on a Bill or a decision on a major matter of public policy? This has to be defined. It would sometimes be very difficult for this third class of hybrid peers to decide whether they had a right to vote. There would have to be a special officer of the House of Lords to tell them whether they were so entitled. There would have to be more than one whipping system in the future House of nominees, so that those only partially entitled to vote would be able to do so. What could be more ridiculous?

This is why I do not support the hon. Member's system. But, in a way, the same defects in his Amendment apply to the two-tier system, so we are back again to the absurd situation of wanting an influential upper House in which some members will have no influence. I should like to support the hon. Gentleman, but, for the reasons that I have given, I cannot.

I wonder whether all these peers will get remuneration and expenses, since they will not all do the same thing. Would one earn more if able to vote than those who were able only to sit? There are all sorts of permutations in the complicated situation brought about by the Bill.

The hon. Member has done the Committee a great service by pointing out the absurdity of these proposals, but I cannot go as far as he does in making them even more absurd.

Mr. Hooson

The hon. Member for Abingdon (Mr. Neave) referred to the Bill as a farce, and I agree. The hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Mr. Sheldon) is trying to make it an even greater farce. Obviously, the purpose of the Amendment is to make an absurd system even more absurd. It has been said that this is a very important Bill, but I cannot agree. There are 14 hon. Members in the Committee at present, out of nearly 630, which shows their general view of how important the Bill and the Amendments are. The truth is that it is a filibuster by people who oppose the Bill. I do so myself, but the public should know that what is really happening is not that hon. Members believe in these Amendments but that this is a filibuster to kill the Bill—

Mr. R. Gresham Cooke (Twickenham)

I do not know whether the hon. and learned Gentleman has been here very much today, but the House was crowded this morning and some very important speeches were made about the constitutional position. Obviously, this is a very important Bill. This Amendment, of course, is very narrow and hon. Members have gone to dinner. No doubt they are coming back for the more important Amendments to follow.

Mr. Hooson

If the hon. Gentleman had been here throughout the day he would know that, save for half an hour this evening, I have attended all the debate. I cannot agree that important speeches have been made. We have had repetitive speeches going over the arguments for and against the main issues in the Bill, dressed up in the form of speeches on Amendments. You, Mr. Irving, have kept a careful eye on the contributions of hon. Members to ensure that they could slant their words to come within the Amendment under discussion. I hope that I too will be able to do so, although I notice that you are on tenterhooks at the moment.

It is wrong to take this process too far. Obviously, Parliament has a limited amount of time available and we are discussing an Amendment which even the hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne will admit, outside the Chamber, is an absurd Amendment, designed simply to waste time—

Mr. Sheldon

Surely it will be within the hon. and learned Gentleman's experience to understand that probing Amendments, seeking to clarify the situation, are one of the classic kinds of Amendments long accepted by the House. Would he not further agree, if he thinks about it a little more carefully, that there is no reason why other situations should not receive the full consideration of the House?

Mr. Hooson

I cannot agree that this is a probing Amendment or one which seeks clarification. I heard the hon. Gentleman make a valuable contribution this afternoon attacking the two-tier system. He knows that what he said about that system is even more apposite to a three-tier system. The public should know that this is what is going on and that valuable Parliamentary time which is so badly needed for other things is being taken up on a Bill which everyone agrees by now was not unfairly described by my hon. Friend the Member for Orpington (Mr. Lubbock) the other day—

Mr. Walden

I would answer the hon. and learned Gentleman in this way, and would like to hear his comment. He considers that Parliamentary time is valuable. I dare say it is, but surely the onus is on those who introduced this Bill. If what he says is true about lack of public interest and concern and lack of interest in the House, the onus lies upon the Government Front Bench who brought in this Measure and not on those who are determined to scrutinise it.

The Chairman

Order. I think that both hon. Members are getting away from the Amendment.

Mr. Hooson

I mentioned earlier the lack of interest in the Amendment and said that this is manifest around us. There have not been more than 16 Members in the Committee during this debate.

The purpose of the Amendment is transparent—to try to take up time. It is another wrecking Amendment. Of course, the main speeches on constitutional matters an; important. I agree with the hon. Member that the main fault lies with the Government to seek to introduce the Bill and who want to take up a great deal of Parliamentary time. We are simply wasting time and no interpretation other than that of a filibuster can be put on the Amendment.

The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. Fred Peart)

I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Mr. Sheldon) for the succinct way in which he introduced his Amendment. I take the view of my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, All Saints (Mr. Walden), although I could not agree with much of his extravagant attack on members of the Executive. After all, he has given us considerable support from time to time. On this, he thinks that the Bill is a wrong Bill. Nevertheless, he put the case very well for not accepting the Amendment and thus creating a three-tier system. I will not trespass on the other matter. I must set a good example. Accusations are thrown across the Floor from time to time, but I will keep to the narrow Amendment.

The Amendments would create a three-tier House consisting of full voting peers, restricted voting peers and others Members. It is not clear what purpose this three-tier structure will serve, since no Amendments are proposed to specify the rights or functions of each tier. My hon. Friend says that his Amendment is a probing Amendment, but he has made no case. The composition of each tier is also uncertain. Under Amendment No. 109 full voting peers will be Members who have surrendered their peerage, but under the Amendments to line 42 they will consist only of life peers. Restricted voting peers will consist of those peers of first creation who are qualified as such under the following provisions of the Bill; that is, the "other Members" as defined in the Clause as drafted. The "other Members" in the Clause as amended are not defined.

I should be out of order if I took up the points which have been raised about composition. I admit that it is an interesting subject—it was mentioned on the previous Amendment—but I should be out of order. For those reasons, I ask the Committee to reject the Amendment.

Mr. Powell

We are here considering an alternative to the two-tier Chamber, which is the essence of Clause 2, and to which a long debate was devoted on the previous Amendment when, as you, Mr. Irving, and the right hon. Gentleman will recollect, the Home Secretary intervened with a description of the working of the two-tier system.

I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will think it appropriate, and I hope that you, Mr. Irving, will regard it as reasonably within the scope of the present debate, if I ask the right hon. Gentleman whether he could give us a little further enlightenment about a point made by the Home Secretary on the proposed two-tier House which these Amendments would modify in a way which, I agree with him, is undesirable and certainly represents no improvement.

The problem, which I should be grateful if the right hon. Gentleman would take the opportunity to elucidate, was the repeated return of the Home Secretary to one fact which I think very much puzzled the Committee. The Home Secretary was talking about the present peers by succession who would be part of the upper tier, if I may so describe it, of voting peers in the new Chamber. He constantly said—and he referred hon. Members to the While Paper—that there would be 77 such peers by succession in that upper or voting tier. I really think that the right hon. Gentleman owes it to the Committee to clarify a point, which I know puzzled a good many hon. Members, as well as myself, the explanation of which is surely of some importance.

The Home Secretary continually referred the Committee to page 5 of the White Paper and to the table on that page. That table certainly shows the number of peers by succession who are in the present House of Lords and it also shows the number of those peers who, at present, attend more than a third of the time; that is, those who would qualify under this scheme to be voting or upper tier peers.

The puzzle, which I am sure many hon. Members would be grateful if the Government spokesman could clear up, is: how and by what reasoning, from either of those figures—the 736 total peers by succession or the 138 peers by succession who at present form part of the working House, those who attend more than a third of the time—do the Government get to their figure of 77 peers by succession in the new upper tier? Certainly, no reason was given for it, but it is a precise figure. There must be a reason why it is 77 and not 75—

The Chairman

Order. I have been trying to relate what the right hon. Member is saying to the Amendment, and I have given him scope to say what he had to say. However, I feel that he is now outside the scope of the Amendment, unless he now wishes to, and can, relate it to the Amendment.

Mr. Powell

I am grateful to you, Mr. Irving, for your forbearance.

I submit that as the Amendments provide the Government with successive opportunities to explain the scheme, as they see it working, there might reasonably be latitude for questions to be put to the Government on the working of the scheme which is enshrined within the Bill, but which, of course, we are seeking to amend.

The right hon. Gentleman assures me, by some kind of signal, that he has taken the point about the puzzle which was troubling me and, I think, others. I conclude by hoping that either now or later in the Clause, but at any rate before we leave the Clause, the right hon. Gentleman will be willing, and the Chair will permit him, to clear this up for the benefit of us all.

Mr. Sheldon

I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Mr. Gresham Cooke

I beg to move Amendment No. 182, in page 2, line 44, at end insert: 'and of the representatives of science, technology, the arts, industry, agriculture, commerce, finance and the professions, elected in accordance with section (Election of representatives of science and technology, industry, commerce and the professions) of this Act.'

The Chairman

With this Amendment it will be convenient to take new Clause 11—"Election of representatives of science and technology, industry, commerce and the professions"—and Preamble Amendment No. 67, in page 2, line 8, at end add: And whereas it is also desirable to include representatives of science, technology, the arts, industry, agriculture, commerce, finance and the professions elected by an appropriate process by societies, associations, trade unions and professional organisations up to a number of one-third of membership of the House of Lords.

Mr. Gresham Cooke

The number of the Amendment has been altered—originally it was No. 128—because it had in it "the 20 representative peers". That has now been taken out and the number thereby changed. If the right hon. Gentleman will follow me, I am wanting to add to Clause 2, line 44, that there should be not only members possessing full voting rights and other members, but also representatives of these outside bodies, which I will explain in a moment.

The method of election of these outside representatives is set out in new Clause 11, which states: (1) The House of Lords may make draft regulations prescribing the names of societies, association;, trade unions and professional organisations entitled to elect the representatives referred to in section 2(1) of this Act, to membership of the House of Lords up to a maximum of one-third of the total voting membership of the House of Lords, and prescribing the number of representatives for each such body and the method of voting and counting of votes. (2) Any draft regulations under this section shall be laid before both Houses of Parliament as soon as may be after they are made and if each House resolves that the draft regulations be approved, they shall have effect as if they were enacted in this Act. (3) Elections under this section shall take place in virtue of a Royal Proclamation which may be issued immediately on the dissolution of any Parliament. That would involve altering the Pre-able. Amendment No. 67 to the Preamble, I think, is a genuine declaratory statement: And whereas it is also desirable to include representatives of science, technology, the arts, industry, agriculture, commerce, finance and the professions elected by an appropriate process by societies, associations, trade unions and professional organisations up to a number of one-third of membership of the House of Lords. Before proceeding with my argument, I should like to ask the right hon. Gentleman to pass on to the Home Secretary that I did not like his animadvertions this morning on the whole of the Opposition, as if we all came here to do nothing but block the Bill. There have been 40 or 50 Members on this side of the Committee throughout most of the day, most of whom are not here to block the Bill. I have put down only two Amendments, both of which are constructive. One was to have 20 representatives of the herediatry peers, and the other is this one which seeks to inject some democratic representation from the great functions of the realm into the House of Lords.

Mr. Peart

I note what the hon. Gentleman has said. Knowing the hon. Gentleman, I accept that he is here to put a constructive case, and that that is his attitude to the Bill. I welcome it.

Mr. Gresham Cooke

I am very much obliged to the right hon. Gentleman. Various sections of the Opposition have not concerted together. In fact, I did not work with my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Chertsey (Sir L. Heald) who has been very active on this Bill.

The Government are in difficulties, because there is one thin red-blue line running through these debates, and that is that the back benchers on both sides are opposed to many parts of the Bill. Many of us on this side are opposed to the nomination of Members, and we are opposed, therefore, to the non-independence of the other place. We think that it will be too dependent on the Executive. Hon. Gentlemen opposite are opposed to it because they fear that the other place will become antidemocratic, and perhaps reactionary. My Amendment will be a catalyst which will bring together both sides of the Committee. I believe that it will provide an escape route for the Government to lead a united House on this part of the Bill. I hope, therefore, that the Government will welcome it as a constructive catalyst.

If the Committee will permit me to do so for five minutes, I should like to dig into history, because I believe that I can show to the Committee that what I am proposing is really in the organic tradition of the House of Lords.

When one examines the history of the Lords, one sees that William the Conqueror insisted on the presence at his court of the tenants-in-chief, and from these men he chose his chief advisers. During the 12th and 13th centuries this body of men round the King developed into the Magnum Concilium, or Great Council as it was called. The Council consisted of earls, greater barons, lawyers, archbishops, and bishops. It consisted of at least six different types of people. The baron was a very important man in those days. He was said to be worth 13 knights—no animadversion on the present knights; obviously he was thought of as a very important person.

This Great Council, or the Magnum Concilium, was the origin of the Lords. It was previous to the "Parliamentum", before the knights and burgesses were summoned to the Model Parliament, and so there developed out of the Magnum Concilium, and the Parliamentum that came along, the three Estates of the Realm, the clergy, the barons, and the commons, or, as it was said in those days, the men who prayed, the men who fought, and the men who worked. I believe that the true tradition of the House of Lords was to represent the great functions of the State, rather than to represent the State on a territorial basis. They left it to the commons to bring forward the territorial representation.

That was brought out rather well in the Bryce Report of 1917, Cmd. 9038, when Viscount Bryce, who was Chairman of a conference on the reform of the second Chamber, hoped that his recommendations would come into being after the First World War. The Bryce Report said that the House of Lords should consist of persons of experience in various forms of public work, judiciary, Parliament, local government, agriculture, commerce, industry, finance, and education. It said that the Lords should have within its bounds a certain proportion of persons who are not partisans, of a cast of mind to judge political questions with calmness and comparative freedom from prejudice and bias. That is what I am trying to do in the Amendment.

Viscount Bryce and his colleagues went on to recommend the election of such Members of the House of Lords through Members of the House of Commons grouped in areas, but that never came about, and the whole thing was dropped. I believe that what was said 41 years ago is as true today as it was then. The Amendment falls into line with Viscount Bryce's recommendations, with the Preamble, and with new Clause 11, which deals with election by societies.

What we have in mind is that one-third of the House, say 70 to 80—and that might take the place of the 75 representative peers who have been talked about—could be elected by such bodies as the Royal Society, the C.B.I., the T.U.C., the great industries, the N.F.U., the agricultural workers, and the professions, such as the surgeons, the physicians, and the accountants. There could, perhaps, be one from each body. There might be 75 bodies represented in the House of Lords. I believe that this would not only fulfil the tradition of the House of Lords, but would contribute to its organic growth in the future.

8.15 p.m.

But the Amendment has another great advantage. It seeks to inject some democracy into the House of Lords, which is what hon. Gentlemen opposite have been asking for. I am sorry that the hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Michael Foot) is not here. I know that he has to go to an important meeting, but I am certain that if he were here he would be delighted to know that some democracy would be injected into the House of Lords if the Amendment were accepted.

The House of Lords, anyway as to one-third of its membership, would be represented of the true forums of the functions of the nation, making the Lords an independent body, not just the lap-dog of any Government, whether Labour or Tory. In the belief, therefore, that these new peers, who will be voting peers, men of great distinction elected by the great functions of the realm, would be a great addition to the discussions, the resolutions, and the considerations of the Lords, I ask the Committee to accept the Amendment.

[Mr. GRANT-FERRIS in the Chair]

Mr. Sheldon

This is one of a series of Amendments which seek to produce in the House of Lords the kind of body that would be complementary to this legislative Assembly, and in so far as that is the intention of the hon. Member for Twickenham (Mr. Gresham Cooke) I think that few could quarrel with his aim. The difficulty comes when the hon. Gentleman seeks to clothe it with a legislative framework. I think we can all say that there is a strong case for getting into the Lords people with practical day-to-day knowledge of what is happening in fields a little remote from the ones with which we are concerned. This knowledge is becoming rarer in this House, and is becoming rather more necessary than it used to be to keep the legislative machine up to date with what is being discussed and considered in other spheres. It is very useful to have this kind of experience in a readily available form.

It is when we consider how we get these people that the problems arise. I am thinking here not of the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, All Saints (Mr. Walden), when he quite legitimately spoke of the problem of bringing people with no politics into the other place. Even if we obtained the right kind of people with an understanding of the professions, industry, and so on, we should still need to teach them politics, because it would be political matters which they would discuss and political decisions which they would take. That is an obvious problem to be overcome. However, apart from that—this will apply to several similar Amendments—there would be the difficulty raised by the tendency of associations and organisations to submit a certain sort of person for membership of the House of Lords.

The great temptation is to submit the names of people engaged in the politics of their professions and background rather than people with the precise up-to-date knowledge of the kind which is most needed. Doctors, for example, would be almost sure to select someone from the British Medical Association, not a man with, say, general practitioner knowledge of a kind we are rather short of today, not someone with specialist knowledge which can be put to great use in the consideration of certain medical matters. Doctors would be inclined to submit someone engaged in the politics of medicine within the B.M.A. Likewise, engineers would not be inclined to put forward people engaged in the modern problems of bridge building, the design of dams, and the like.

Mr. W. Howie (Luton)

I am trying hard to agree with my hon. Friend on many points during our debates, but I must point out to him that there are those, for example, engineers, who come to this place straight from the drawing board at which they have been designing bridges and the like, me, for one.

Mr. Sheldon

I am aware that this House is representative in the best kind of way. The difficulty is that, even though my hon. Friend and I came here with that direct experience, after a few years, because of the way in which the state of knowledge moves so rapidly nowadays in the professions, engineering, medicine and science, one finds oneself not quite so up-to-date as, perhaps, one is inclined to think.

Mr. Howie

We try hard.

Mr. Sheldon

The advantage of membership of the House of Lords is that people are able to keep up to date because they can still continue to work in their professions.

Mr. Gresham Cooke

But would not the great societies tend to send the heads of their professions, men of great experience, perhaps those who had risen to become president—one thinks of the President of the Royal Society—but who are still very much in touch with the work from which they have come?

Mr. Sheldon

I thought so, too, until I came to be concerned with the selection of people responsible for representing their own association. My own experience, for what it is worth—not in a wide field, but wide enough at least for me to draw certain conclusions—has been that the kind of person one wanted was the young man in the prime of his working capacity, probably about 40 years of age, who was making great advances and who, if he could be persuaded to give, perhaps, half a day a week, could give of his experience and knowledge in a variety of useful ways. One way in which he could give that time to great advantage might be by attendance at the House of Lords.

Clearly, such a man would not necessarily have to attend every week, but there are occasions, as we all know, when direct practical knowledge and expertise can be of great value in a legislative assembly, of greater value than the knowledge possessed by someone who ceased direct participation in his previous occupation three or four years ago. One wants the man who is still at work here and now, who is engaged, perhaps, on the precise problem under discussion.

The example of nuclear energy comes to mind. This is of interest to several right hon. and hon. Members. Questions concerning nuclear energy could be much better dealt with if one had present just a few people who were working directly on the problems involved and could give of their experience through the House, in the wider political context there, so that there would be a readier diffusion of their knowledge and advice.

That is one of the advantages one would hope to have, but I cannot see that we should get it through the Amendment. I do not believe that the right sort of people would be selected. We should find selected, as I have said, not the bridge builders, the dam designers and so on but people engaged in the politics of their profession, and, moreover, not the kind of politics which is of use to the House of Lords. It would be the politics within their own field. They would have the same kind of defect, if I may so call it, from which we suffer in not having immediate and up-to-date knowledge such as we once had but which we no longer have in quite the same form. That would be the kind of person sent to the House of Lords, and he would not have the other advantages which we possess.

Everyone admits that industrialists could play a useful part. I make full confession to my hon. Friend the Member for All Saints that such knowledge is no substitute for politics, and the problem which still remains is how to secure the advantage of both industrial, commercial, scientific and other knowledge and the political expertise which must accompany it. That problem remains unresolved, but the advantages of the professional background are there none the less.

Mr. Walden

My hon. Friend says that it is a problem still unresolved. Is it not unresolvable? Is it not an illusion to imagine that there is any hope of securing people expert in politics if they have not spent the greater part of their time in the practice of politics? Is it not an illusion to imagine that one can breed, as it were, a generation of technologists who will have the same flair and skill which a man will have after lifelong membership of a political party, after having been a local councillor, and so on? In so far as the Government are trying to serve that purpose by the Bill, they will inevitably be disappointed.

8.30 p.m.

Mr. Sheldon

That is a valid point, but in a House of Lords with a large number of members there is room for a small number of people who could spread greater understanding of what they were doing to those in the reformed House of Lords; not that they will make decisions on political matters. There is room in a legislative assembly for a few people, not outnumbering those whose main qualifications are political, who are able to contribute.

It has been said that this House has suffered considerably in the post-war years from its inability to attract people concerned with day-to-day problems. This did not mean that industrialists, or whoever they might be, would influence the whole House. It meant that they were able to express a point of view which, in recent years, has not been put quite so well. If out of the 630 Members of the House of Commons we had only 20 such people, who did not interfere with the political running of the House of Commons, but who would tell us the present state of affairs in matters about which they were well qualified to speak, the House might gain, as would the House of Lords. It would be easier to accommodate such people in the House of Lords, with its large membership, and they would be asked to give only a small amount of time. The Amendment is not drafted in such a way as to get these people. The way in which to obtain them is still unresolved.

Sir B. Rhys Williams

This series of Clauses was intended to be read with other Clauses which have either already been dealt with or are still to come. One reason for Clause 19, on which I spoke earlier, was to rectify the fault to which the hon. Gentleman refers, namely, that the best representatives from industry and the professions would not necessarily be obtained if it were left to the industry or profession to choose the man to come to the reformed House, but we would hope that the Sovereign might act with appropriate advice in selecting people for the other House, and that this would tend to overcome the difficulty.

Mr. Sheldon

I cannot recall the terms of the Clause which the hon. Gentleman has mentioned, so I am not in a position to comment on it. I can comment only on the Amendment and the new Clause which are under consideration.

The recommendations which the Royal Society might make would not be of the scientists who are making the great discoveries and who are the people we have been unable to attract. The C.B.I. is not likely to recommend an industrialist of the kind who could be of use here and now. We have not found a way of getting people for these short contributions which might be of value.

Mr. Walden

My hon. Friend is speaking of short contributions of assistance to the legislature. Many people would think it valuable to have important people who are expert in their subjects to advise legislators. It is very good for Committees to have such people in front of them. But what my hon. Friend suggests is that we should make them legislators, and I suggest that this is not a good idea.

Mr. Sheldon

Perhaps I should state the solution which I have in mind, new Clause 13. This provides that a person may be invited to attend the House of Lords if he is supported by an application from not less than one-sixth of the Members of the House of Lords, and that such a person may take part in one specified debate. A person who is engaged in immediate problems, in industry, commerce, science or in any profession may be delighted to accept such a limited invitation and so present his expertise on a wide stage at a time when it might be relevant and of great assistance to the legislative body. I put forward that Clause for the consideration of the House.

Mr. Eric Lubbock (Orpington)

The hon. Gentleman's hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, All Saints (Mr. Walden) was deploying a powerful case a short time ago against Members of another place being entitled to attend but not to vote. How does he reconcile new Clause 13, which entitles those people only to attend and speak but not to vote, with the arguments to which we were listening a few minutes ago?

Mr. Sheldon

This Clause does not necessarily have the full support of my hon. Friend, but, in any case, these people would be invited and would be limited in number. The new Clause permits only a maximum of three such people to be invited, and three out of 1,000 is a very small proportion. We must consider the contribution which they might be able to make as a result of their expertise.

Sir C. Osborne

Does the hon. Gentleman think that young top executives—let us leave aside for a moment the older men who are over the top and going down, so to speak—will come with their expert knowledge to a Chamber and continue to give their advice if that advice is continually ignored?

The Temporary Chairman (Mr. Grant-Ferris)

Order. We must get back to the subject of the Amendment.

Mr. Sheldon

The problem of getting the people we really want will always be with us and that is why it might be advantageous to farm out the task to some sort of association. If we are serious about making a success of this, we could issue invitations ourselves in the short-term, but in the longer-term a different method is needed.

Notice taken that 40 Members were not present;

Committee counted, and, 40 Members being present

8.39 p.m.

Dr. M. P. Winstanley (Cheadle)

I give the Amendment my qualified support because it provides a limited attempt to bring an element of democracy into the arrangement which the Government have proposed.

If we accept that we must have a second Chamber—I would be out of order in arguing that point at this stage—then the arguments revolve around the question of how the Members of that Chamber are to be appointed. It is because of this issue that some hon. Members have attended the Committee and have spoken at length while others have stayed away. Are these people to be appointed or to be elected?

The main reason for the Bill is growing dissatisfaction with a method of appointment to the House of Lords by what one can only describe as a sort of genetic sweepstake, and it is the determination to get rid of the hereditary principle which has resulted in our embarking on these proceedings. Although it is possible to argue that the hereditary principle should go, it should be pointed out that it has not been as unsatisfactory as it is sometimes made out to be.

The proposal about the appointment of Members of the other House by party leaders has made hon. Members uneasy about the Bill. At an earlier stage, when I was endeavouring to discover the Government's intentions, it was made clear that the Government were not in favour of an elected element. Nor were they in favour of entry by birth. I even suggested a scheme for a national lottery, with peerages as prizes, but that did not receive much enthusiasm.

If the second Chamber is to be satisfactory, it must be accountable; in other words, it must have an elected element. I say this not because I am convinced that the electoral system always selects the best people, but because those elected have been selected by the electorate and are responsible for their actions to the electorate. The trouble with the hereditary principle or a nominated system is that people can take action without being accountable. Weighing the balance between the different methods of appointment, I am in favour of a method which makes people accountable. We should, therefore, at least consider embarking on a new type of method, and the Amendment sets out a system of what one might call electoral colleges to ensure that representatives with different qualifications are appointed.

I would have cast the list in a different way and I would not regard the list set out in the Amendment as definitive. It is all very well to speak of scientists, technologists and others, but hon. Members can no doubt think of other people with expertise. I regret that the Amendment does not contain provision for the election of representatives of age groups, for this might be a way to overcome some of the difficulties which certain youth groups are facing. However, it introduces the principle of electoral colleges, which I welcome.

I should have liked to see the method of election spelt out more clearly. It is true that it is referred to in new Clause 11, but that merely refers to something which may be decided later. If we were embarking on the wholly new principle of setting up electoral colleges to ensure that the whole population elect an assortment of people rather than election by the whole population, which we hope will result in a fairly mixed assortment, we must take specific steps to see that various interests are represented in a fixed proportion—and for a fixed and definite period.

Sir C. Osborne

What is the difference between this idea and Mussolini's Fascist concept? That was exactly what he did in the 1920s. We are supposed to hate the Fascist concept, but this is Fascism brought back into action.

Dr. Winstanley

I seem to remember that Mussolini also made the trains run on time, but that does not necessarily mean that one has to have a Fascist system to run the railways.

Mr. Gresham Cooke

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that there are many good ideas in all other forms of government in other parts of the world? The fact that Mussolini adopted that idea does not mean that it is bad.

8.45 p.m.

Dr. Winstanley

I would go further and say that many bad people have good ideas. I do not specify any in particular. We are concerned not with the history of ideas, but whether the idea outlined in the Amendment and the new Clause associated with it would be a suitable new method of making appointments to a second Chamber. It is not an exclusive method. A second Chamber wholly constituted in this way would be entirely unsatisfactory, but it is a way of constituting one-third of it. I would like to see the constitution of the other two-thirds spelt out. I should like to see representation of newly-formed regional councils, but that would have to come later, after the Maud Report, and I think this Bill should have been left until after the Report.

I should like to see such proposals dovetailed into the ones we are considering, so that a second Chamber was comprised of elected representatives on a regional basis, members elected by a series of electoral colleges, and had Members perhaps sitting ex officio by direct right from regional councils, with perhaps certain other nominated Members, and so on. Then we should have a variegated second Chamber and, what seems crucial, a Chamber depending for its existence at least in part on the electorate. It is not crucial that a place should always be composed of the very best people. The important thing is not just efficiency, but the way in which it is constituted. What makes a community satisfied or dissatisfied with a governmental organisation is its degree of personal control over it.

I am inclined to think that an electorate would accept from a Government that it has elected things that it would not accept from a Government who have been appointed and arrived there by divine right or heredity. This proposal would at least make in the long run for some degree of public acquiescence in a new kind of second Chamber.

I thank the hon. Gentleman for moving the Amendment, which I support, with the reservations I have expressed. It introduces an element of election into something that should be elected in some way or perhaps should not exist at all.

Mr. Derek Page (King's Lynn)

I am not happy with the suggestion in the Amendment, because it would backfire in a way that would surprise its supporters. Far from introducing technicians and technologists into politics, it would introduce politics into the realms of the technologists and technicians. Why is it suggested that we want a House of Lords? It is, surely, that we require normative decisions. Where clarification is needed on a scientific or technological question, we have good access to sources of information. They are known already, and the facts are clear from experimental evidence. We can see this easily in the experiments in our House with Select Committees, which are a very good avenue for obtaining access to such information.

I worked for about 20 years in the chemical industry. I cannot believe that expertise in technology goes hand in hand with expertise in normative values, and in politics we are dealing essentially with quality judgments. There is no reason to believe that good scientists and technologists are good at quality judgments. There is no substitute for a long and active life in politics to learn the job. If the Amendment were adopted, the professional bodies would be wide open to the major parties moving in to try to get control of the electoral mechanism of those bodies, and that would be a retrograde step.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

I apologise for not having been present when my hon. Friend the Member for Twickenham (Mr. Gresham Cooke) moved the Amendment. I was called out on a matter connected with my constituency and I found myself detained by the snow. Like all Englishmen, I never cease to be surprised by our climate.

I wish to pay tribute to the contribution made to the debate by the Liberal Party. Some hard things have been said about the Liberal Party and individual Liberal Members. The complaint has been voiced that far more attention should have been paid by the Liberal Party to this far-reaching constitutional reform than has been evidenced so far. But let us pass a sponge across all that. I welcome the support in principle offered by the hon. Member for Cheadle (Dr. Winstanley), who made a very good speech. I also welcome the proximity, if only for a brief while, of the hon. Member for Orpington (Mr. Lubbock). This is the first time that I have sat in the Chamber bang next door to a Chief Whip of any kind, and it was a pleasure to hear the sympathetic noises of the hon. Member for Orpington as well as the constructive speech of the hon. Member for Cheadle.

I do not think that anyone would expect a rational reform of Parliament from Her Majesty's present advisers.

Mr. Howie

I was under the impression that this reform was cooked up in some strange way between the two Front Benches and, consequently, that lot over there must take at least some of the blame for this package.

Sir C. Osborne

Who are the Government? Who introduced the Bill?

Mr. Biggs-Davison

I was about to mention the leaders of the Conservative Party.

The Temporary Chairman (Mr. Grant-Ferris)

Order. The hon. Member for Chigwell (Mr. Biggs-Davison) must be careful not to be led up the garden path, as it were, by remarks which are not strictly concerned with the Amendment. He must keep closely to the Amendment. I am waiting for him to come to the terms of the Amendment.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

It is a little hard when aspersions are cast at our respected leaders by an hon. Member opposite—

The Temporary Chairman

Order. It does not matter what aspersions are cast so long as hon. Members stay in order, and the only way in which they can stay in order is by keeping strictly to the terms of the Amendment.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

I share the feelings of the hon. Member for Luton (Mr. Howie) to this extent; that I feel a certain disappointment that my right hon. Friends should have in any way countenanced this scheme to abolish another place and replace it by a creature of party patronage. I should have liked the Tory Party to produce some rational plan of reform.

Earlier today, I was chided by the Home Secretary, who said that we were just trying to block the Bill, to defeat it. Indeed we are, but he also suggested that we did not have any constructive proposals to offer. The Amendment is a constructive proposal, and due recognition has been given to this by the Liberal Party. I concede to the hon. Member for Cheadle that this is but a sketch of a plan; it is not worked out in detail. We would like the Amendment to be accepted by the Government and then we would like the Government's help and advice in bringing it into effect. Failing such a reform, or a reform on these general lines, I would rather leave the other place as it is.

It is rather disappointing that there is such an absence of constructive ideas on this subject. In the past the Tory Party has furnished good and advanced ideas. The principle behind the Amendment is not entirely original. It introduces an elected element into the Lords, but this is nothing new. After the 1911 crisis it was the diehards of the Conservative Party who concluded that, after all that had happened, an elected second Chamber was the sort of Chamber to which the country could be persuaded to give effective and sufficient powers.

From Austen Chamberlain's memoirs, "Politics From Inside", I extract these words: Such men as Willoughby de Broke and Northumberland share this view now and prefer to trust their fate to the electors rather than to some 'hanky-panky' nomination scheme which Curzon would manipulate. So would I. I always believe in the Tory maxim of which the Churchills were so fond—"Trust the people". I would rather trust electors than this hanky-panky nomination scheme which the Prime Minister of the day could manipulate.

Sir C. Osborne

My hon. Friend has made a quotation going back to 1911 referring to Lord Curzon, whom he would not trust. He likened it to the modern Government. Who is the modern Curzon that he distrusts—someone on the opposite side or someone on this side?

Mr. Biggs-Davison

My hon. Friend knows that I am somewhat deficient in trust of Her Majesty's present Government and the head of this Administration. I am trying to persuade my honourable but reactionary Friends. Anyone who desires to change anything in Britain must first explain that it has been done or suggested before. I therefore tell my hon. Friend the Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne)—

The Temporary Chairman

Order. I do not think that we want to change anything particularly at the moment. What we want to do is to get back to the terms of the Amendment.

Sir Douglas Glover (Ormskirk)

On a point of order. Surely the Amendment implies some change?

The Temporary Chairman

The Amendment may imply some change. Indeed, it might be deemed to imply quite a lot of change. The way I am construing the Amendment is fairly close to the terms in which I see it.

9.0 p.m.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

I hope that I shall be given enlightenment to see the Amendment through your eyes, Mr. Grant-Ferris. It is incumbent upon me to persuade my hon. Friends and hon. Members opposite that the Amendment is worth their support. Misgivings were expressed about it. But it has a good Tory pedigree. In 1910, the Earl of Wemyss proposed—and this is much on the lines of the Amendment— … that important trading and other representative societies should each name three Members of the existing peerage in the current and each succeeding Parliament, to speak and act on behalf of such societies, on all questions in which they are interested, and that the names of the peers so nominated be entered in the Journal of the House. The noble Earl listed 22 bodies, most of them commercial associations, but also professional associations such as the R.I.B.A. and the Society of British Sculptors. There is, therefore, some precedent for the idea in the Amendment in general terms.

This will perhaps commend itself to non. Members opposite who are concerned, as we all are, with the health of our democracy. The proposal here is to extend our system of Parliamentary representations. I should have thought that the hon. Member for King's Lynn (Mr. Derek Page) would have welcomed that. The Amendment proposes an innovation but it also, in a sense, proposes to restore some of the earlier functions of the House of Lords. If you want to change something in Britain, you should point out that it has been done before. I hesitate to say anything about the history of the House of Lords in the presence of my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, Southwest (Mr. Powell) but I think it is true to say that, originally, the House was, to a great extent, a functional Chamber representative of spiritual and feudal estates at the time. My right hon. Friend does not contradict me.

The suggestion in the Amendment is that it would not be a bad thing for our modern Parliament if it provided functional as well as geographical representation. It asks for a system of double representation—in effect, representation of the people in this House through the party organisations and universal suffrage, and in another place as members of estates and interested groups.

This House is a House of communities, representing the place where the voter lives. But nowadays millions of our fellow people live away from their work and have perhaps more in common with their work mates or professional colleagues than with their neighbours in the suburb or in the housing estate or in the new town.

We are asking here for a reformed second Chamber to include an element which should represent the subject in his professional pursuit. We have often heard the complaint in this House and elsewhere—it was expressed in a turnover article by Cecil King in The Sunday Times—that the great interests of the country in Parliament are not represented fully in Parliament. Parliamentarians complain that the Executive is always consulting bodies outside Parliament behind their backs. Under this proposal, those outside bodies could be brought within the orbit of Parliament itself.

Dr. Winstanley

Will the hon. Gentleman make clear a crucial point? Would those elected be elected for a finite period? Surely the reason for replacing the hereditary system is not that it always selected the wrong people, but that there was no way of getting rid of them. Can he confirm that these interesting parallels he is putting forward are different in the sense that these people would be subject to re-election from time to time?

Mr. Biggs-Davison

Yes, indeed. But I do not wish to be drawn too far on that aspect. I would add that I favour the retention of a hereditary element in the House of Lords.

Mr. Derek Page

I am interested to hear that the hon. Gentleman welcomes consultation between Ministers and outside bodies and that the entry to another place of specialists from these bodies might be of even greater advantage. Is not he aware that some of us feel that certain hon. Members have been at a disadvantage as compared with outside bodies in getting at Ministers?

Mr. Biggs-Davison

That is a point. It may not be a very good point but I think that it is. I think that outside bodies should be represented in Parliament itself. My hon. Friend the Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne) thinks that it is a bad idea.

Sir C. Osborne indicated assent.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

If one wants to give something a bad name, one only has to say that a Fascist dictator had a similar idea. But many other people have had ideas of this kind. Churchill, for example, recognised the need for expert and corporate representation in Parliament in his Romanes Lecture in 1930. He went further and suggested that there should be a "House of Industry" as the third House of Parliament.

If we want to be very ideological, I would point out also—although I do not want to damn the idea on this side of the Committee—that this was an idea which the Fabian Webbs had, as well as the ex-Fabian Leo Amery. It was the idea also of Salazar. But it is also the idea of Mendes-France and it is something which seems to make sense to many people who are otherwise ideologically opposed to each other.

General de Gaulle proposes and is taking action towards merging the Economic and Social Council provided for in the Fifth Republic with the Senate. In our islands, the Eire Senate consists of 60 Members, with 11 nominated by the Prime Minister, six elected representatives of the universities and 43 elected by panels of candidates elected on a vocational basis, representing cultural and agricultural interests, industry and commerce, public administration and the social sciences.

To take another example, in Italy the President of the Republic is nominated to the Senate by representatives of the social, scientific, artistic and literary life of the country. This will appeal to the Liberal Party—[Interruption.] There do not seem to be any of its representatives present just now.

Mr. Birch

It appeals to me very much.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

I am very glad that the idea finds favour with the "Leader of the Liberal Party". Corporate constituencies were suggested at the time of the Great Reform Bill, and university seats. There is something to be said for representation in Parliament of a university. It is a matter of regret to me that, although it was set forth in a Conservative election manifesto that we would restore university seats when we returned to power, we did not do so.

The Temporary Chairman (Mr. Grant-Ferris)

I am trying to be as lenient as I can, but the university seats in Parliament are not included in his Amendment.

Sir D. Glover

On a point of order. While not wishing to question your ruling, the Amendment does refer to the arts and the professions. Surely, in practice, these would come largely from the universities?

The Temporary Chairman

It is quite clear what the hon. Gentleman was trying to do. He was trying to develop the connection with university seats in Parliament, maybe in either House.

Mr. Biggs-Davison

I am grateful to my hon. Friend and to you, Mr. Grant Ferris, and I shall wait for another occasion to raise the question of university representation, which is clearly connected with the kind of representation suggested in the Amendment.

I recognise the difficulties of right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite, because of the Conservative majority, as they see it, in the House of Lords. That does not justify the sort of reform that they have brought before the Committee. I recognise, too, the limitations on the expert, and that is why this Amendment proposes that this form of representation should be confined to a proportion of the other place. I think it necessary and right to include also a proportion of the hereditary peers.

Mr. Walden

I rise to oppose new Clause 11. I do it with regret because, reading the new Clause, I can see the objectives it seeks to attain and I appreciate that they could be good and desirable. This is a case of making fine and valuable distinctions. The hon. Member for Cheadle (Dr. Winstanley) said that bad people sometimes get very good ideas. I am sure that is true, and equally, very good people sometimes get very bad ideas.

The hon. Member for Chigwell (Mr. Biggs-Davison) read out a formidable list ranging from Churchill to the Fabians. I would prefer the former, incidentally, on constitutional matters. His list included Austen Chamberlain, Salazar, who is not someone I would particularly wish to follow and Mendes-France, who is someone I certainly would follow. He mentioned all this, and he could have added—and it would have been relevant to his point—that the Tory Party has not traditionally been against constitutional innovation—Professor Dicey, who, as a result of the outcome of the Parliament Bill which we are seeking to revise, came up with a number of suggestions including the doctrine of the referendum. I suspect we will hear a good deal more of that in future.

I cannot pass over the new Clause without reading the Title accompanying it— Election of representatives of science and technology, industry, commerce and the professions". Twenty years ago it would have read, Industry, commence and the professions". Someday, someone will do a brilliant piece on how, when and why the public men of this country became brainwashed by the concept of science and technology and its unique value in our deliberations. I could claim within my family and certainly within my old university to have as many scientists and technologists as relatives and friends as anybody else. But I do not think that their judgments on politics or the working of the House of Commons, or anything else of public concern, are better than those of anybody else. The idea has crept in that anybody who has anything to do with science or technology must be uniquely gifted to assist us in our deliberations. They are not worse than anybody else, but they are no better.

9.15 p.m.

It is very unfortunate that science and technology should have been promoted ahead of industry, commerce and the professions. It would be a very good thing if the House of Commons and the nation got back their sense of proportion about the relative values of science and technology.

Sir D. Glover

In this argument, we have to prove that they are no worse than anybody else. With the hon. Gentleman looking across at me, and with me looking across at him, nobody would suggest that the House of Commons is made up of superlative people. We are just a cross-section of the people. In this argument, we must prove that they are worse than anybody else. It is no use saying that they are better.

Mr. Walden

I do not suspect the hon. Gentleman, any more than he suspects me, of being a scientist or technologist. If they are to have any value in the House of Commons, politicians should be, or should try to become, expert in politics. This is what I revolt against. I revolt against the conception, which is becoming more widespread and which has been encapsulated in the caption, that there are people uniquely gifted to advise us about practically anything who are called technologists and scientists.

I know where that heresy started. It started for purely political purposes, for winning votes. It is coming to be accepted by everybody, which is very bad.

Dr. Winstanley

The new Clause means that a plumber is uniquely gifted to advise people about plumbing and that an electrician is uniquely gifted to advise people about electrical matters. It merely itemises different schools of thought and expertise.

Mr. Walden

I gladly concede that. But we are talking about the appointment of legislators. It would be a very bad system if we were to appoint a man to the other place simply on the ground that in an emergency he would know how to unblock the lavatories. That is not a particularly good basis on which to select legislators.

Mr. Hugh Fraser

There was the famous case of Mr. Belloc's Lord Finchley. who tried to mend the electric light, It struck him dead and serve him right. It is the duty of the wealthy man To give employment to the artisan.

Mr. Walden

That is a relevant and witty quotation. But the right hon. Gentleman will note his own quotation. It is exactly that sort of distinction which I do not wish to see made in the other place. I do not want legislators who understand about politics and technology, artisans who will advise but also themselves be legislators. That is a recipe for producing another place of a kind which we shall not like.

Mr. Sheldon

Would not my hon. Friend concede that there is a case for such people to be represented?

Mr. Walden

Yes, that enables me to continue with the point that I was about to make on the Clause. I do not say that we should not have—it would be difficult to avoid having—representatives in the other place of science, technology, industry, commerce and the professions, but I never knew that the House of Lords was deficient in members of industry, commerce and the professions. I had formed the naïve view that many of them had a great knowledge of all three.

But that will not do any more, because they suffer under the blight of being able to delay us, which we could get rid of easily without any of this rigmarole, and are also hereditary peers. That is a double curse upon them and therefore they must go. The new Clause now suggests people by whom we might replace them. What interests me is the method which will be adopted. It is not suggested that the scientists, technologists and representatives of industry, commerce and the professions should be elected by any general body. This is not a question of indirect election of specialists by the people. They will be elected by their own groups.

I am not one to throw abusive words around, but one could reasonably, in no pejorative sense, regard the groups, in that context, as being oligarchies. In other words, the suggestion is that, having got rid of the abominable principle of aristocracy which is intolerable to the Government, we will replace it, if new Clause 11 is accepted, by the principle of selection from oligarchies by oligarchs.

That is not a good idea, and I do not care whether Churchill was for it or the Doge of Venice or Salazar or Mendes-France or any of these distinguished people was for it. It introduces an element into the British legislative system which has been the subject of condemnation by equally distinguished men.

For instance—if I am wrong, perhaps I will be corrected by the right hon. Member for Barnet (Mr. Maudling) who could make his maiden speech on today's important business by telling me—I think that Disraeli himself, who has some claim—indeed, I believe, an overwhelming claim—to have founded the modern Tory Party, bitterly resented the presence of oligarchy in British public life. He felt that the House of Commons should be broadly democratic and that the franchise should be widened to enable it to be so and that the House of Lords should enshrine the hereditary principle. He trusted the aristocracy and the ordinary people, but he distrusted the oligarchs. I think that he was right: so do I. I do not wish to deceive the Committee. I am not pretending that I agree with Disraeli's view of the House of Lords, but I agree with him in having a fundamental distrust of oligarchy.

I have some sympathy with new Clause 11 and I will grant this to those who put it down. The worst possible system is that people, whether distinguished or not, whether technologists or not, should be selected by the two Front Benches. That is absolutely the worst system. Nor is it true that the most distinguished men would be selected. One has only to look at those who are selected and whom one is brazenly told are the best representatives of their profession—I am thinking particularly of economists—to realise that this is an absolute nonsense. Most of the distinguished economists in this country have never come near the Government in terms of advisers. Nor would they have much chance of entering the other place.

I speak for a profession of which I have some knowledge, but I have a deep suspicion, based on what people who are eminent in their own professions tell me about them. My brother-in-law is a distinguished physician and he has considerable doubts about whether eminent members of the medical profession would be attracted to this peculiar institution which it is intended to create.

So that is the worst system, at least the movers of the new Clause have suggested something better. They have suggested that the professions themselves select these people. But I do not regard that as a good system. Could I avoid offence, possibly, to hon. Members opposite, as I am anxious to do, by not talking about the professions with which they will be much more familiar than I, but talking simply about something of which I have some knowledge, namely, the trade unions? There are Members on these benches who know more about the trade union movement than I. Nevertheless, I have been a member of a trade union for some time now and I regularly attend meetings. Of course, I know some of the principal personalities in the trade union movement. If it was left to the trade unions to select the people who would go to the other place, I assure the Committee that this would not mean that the liveliest minds in the trade union movement would get there.

Sir D. Glover

We would not get Clive Jenkins.

Mr. Walden

The hon. Member for Ormskirk (Sir D. Glover) interjects that we would not get Clive Jenkins. That enables me to make a valuable point, of which I hope that the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) will take note. I do not agree with many of the things about which Clive Jenkins speaks. Neither does the right hon. Gentleman. But Clive Jenkins, in his conception of British trade unions, is in many ways a modern minded man. He may displease us on a whole range of things, but he has a view about how unions should operate which is in many ways realistic and much closer to the American pattern, towards which, I suspect, in time we might move.

Equally, though Clive Jenkins deplores and detests many of the views of the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, Southwest, I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman has read some of his speeches on incomes policy not with total disagreement. Clive Jenkins is a man who could be affected by new Clause 11. He is a lively minded, highly intelligent man, capable of original thought and with a good deal of independence. Would he get there if the trade unions were allowed to select?

Hon. Members


Mr. Walden

Of course not. The one man we can be certain they would not let in would be Clive Jenkins.

An Hon. Member

Who are "they"?

Mr. Walden

The trade unions. I am referring to the provisions of new Clause 11, which would enable trade unions to be judges in their own case in selecting their representatives for the House of Lords.

I have great respect for the trade union movement and its leadership, but it suffers from the very defect I was mentioning when talking about the Executive earlier. It suffers from an understandable passion to be represented by safe men. That is what the Executive always wants. It wants a safety factor. It wants safe, respectable men who will put up a good show for the party or for the interest concerned, but who, nevertheless, will not poison the atmosphere by original ideas not previously discussed with the people who really matter. That is what the Executive wants.

My right hon. Friend the Leader of the House took me to task somewhat. He said that I had been a good strong supporter of the Executive on many occasions and now I had rounded on it. I did not exactly bite the hand that fed me, but that is a much more appropriate phrase. I may have shown some ingratitude to my right hon. Friend. I do not want him to misunderstand me. I am not convicting the Government of anything that is not done by any group within any profession that possesses power. But no group wants to give any more warrant than it must to radical Committees. People who already have power, often having fought very long to get it, and often having themselves produced many original ideas and progressed in their own subjects, are usually anxious to enjoy the fruits of what they have for some time. They do not want to displace themselves immediately to allow a radical group behind them to move in.

Hon. Members opposite can give me their views, if they wish, about how true this might be of the other professions mentioned, but my view of trade unions is that they would not try to pick the man who would perform the functions that have been mentioned. We would not get people with radical ideas, fresh thought or independent minds. We would not get the kind of people who could split nice distinctions for legislators in the other place who were in some doubt. We would get some extremely respectable, worthy men who have given a lifetime of service to the trade union movement, which is greatly to their credit—I do not say anything against that—but who would be sent there to hold the fort for the trade unions.

I do not want to weary the Committee by going on too long, and I do not want to press the argument too far, but I should like to sum up what I am trying to say.

9.30 p.m.

If I had to choose between what I regard as the blind chance of the aristocratic principle and this kind of new Clause 11 oligarchy, I would take the aristocracy every time. We have had the chance, not merely of studying the history of the other place but of walking across there and listening to its Members, which I have done several times while I have been a Member of this House. I have heard some extremely good speeches—though admittedly there were some bad ones—not from scientists and technologists, but from eldest sons, who had no claim to be there other than that they had inherited a peerage, who have developed a breadth of mind and tolerance for liberal and new ideas, which is refreshing.

I do not support the principle of aristocracy, and I have never pretended to, but I would rather have them and take that chance than have the kind of oligarchy that will come about by Government appointment, which is the worst of all systems, or the oligarchy that is likely to be enshrined in new Clause 11, whereby professional bodies select their own representative, which will give us far fewer men of independent judgment and of broad liberal concern throughout the field of politics than we get under our present peerage system.

I see no virtue in new Clause 11. I have made it clear now, and previously, that I see no virtue in the Government's system of appointment, either. I am therefore forced back to what I said earlier. Faced with a choice, I prefer what we have. I think that it is better than anything that is suggested from either of the Front Benches, or in new Clause 11.

Mr. John Boyd-Carpenter (Kingston-upon-Thames)

I found the speech of the hon. Member for Birmingham, All Saints (Mr. Walden) extremely convincing. Although I am certain that the Committee is very much indebted to my hon. Friends for the extremely interesting debate which they have initiated, I find myself in some difficulty in supporting them. I am pushed to this point of view not merely by reason of the fact that the Amendment has the unprecedented advantage of support from windy corner—

Sir C. Osborne

Wet corner.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

My hon. Friend must not proceed towards indelicacy.

Sir D. Glover

My hon. Friend the Member for Louth (Sir C. Osborne) is only drawing attention to the fact that that is why the Liberal Party is now supporting the plumbers.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

I think that yesterday the Liberal Chief Whip made a full statement on that matter and that it would be impertinent on my part to add to it.

I think that the Amendment poses an interesting idea. To begin with I was attracted by the concept of getting into the new Upper House anything which involved an element composed of people who were not nominated either by right hon. Gentlemen opposite or by my right hon. Friends. I am certain that the fundamental weakness of the Upper House proposed in the Bill is that it depends on nomination. Prima facie, therefore, my hon. Friend's concept of bringing in an element which at least is not dependent on the party leaders is attractive.

However, I think that there is great force in what was said earlier by the hon. Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Mr. Sheldon), when he asked who these distingushed professional bodies would select. They would, of course, select good representatives of the interests of the profession. The Law Society, for example, would put forward someone who would advocate, in season and out, the right of audience for solicitors at quarter sessions. The Bar Council would put forward somebody who could be relied on to controvert that insidious doctrine with equal vigour and determination. One would get people who, after election by the professions, would regard themselves not primarily as Members of the Upper House of Parliament, but as people whose duty it was to look after the interests of the professions, and who would probably feel that, if they did not stand up for the interests of those professions, almost regardless of the public interest, they would not be elected again.

If my hon. Friend's proposal had been to include in an Upper House ex officio holders of certain offices connected with the arts, sciences and professions, I should have been much more attracted to it. There is a case, if only from the point of view of getting away from the dead hand of nomination, for having some Members who owe their membership of another place to some independent support. If the proposal had been to include, say, the chairman of the Arts Council, the president of the Royal Society, the chairmen of most of the professional bodies, I should have regarded that as a singularly attractive idea. But the idea of election, not by the electorate as a whole but by the necessarily—I mean this in no offensive sense—interested bodies of certain sections and professions, would not give us the sort of contribution which we want.

If I am presented with the alternative of a House solely of nominees or a House of nominees diluted by some such element as is now proposed, I am somewhat embarrassed in making up my mind. But if we are presented, as the hon. Member for All Saints put it, with a choice between this proposal and the present setup, I am in no difficulty at all. It is the merit of another place under its present constitution that it already includes—to quote the Amendment— representatives of science, technology, the arts, industry, agriculture, commerce, finance and the professions"— and representatives not in the sense that they are representatives owing a duty to those disciplines but in the sense that they are themselves admirable representatives of the arts and sciences involved.

Therefore, rather than contrive this sort of election, with its emphasis on—let us face it—vested interest, I would infinitely prefer the present set-up with its independence and its authority. I invite the attention of the Committee to the White Paper. The Government themselves, in paragraph 8(a), put forward as the first of the main functions of another place, the provision of a forum for full and free debate on matters of public interest ". I do not believe that an Upper House constituted as the Bill at present proposes will produce such a forum. The Leader of the House knows that as well as anyone. It will provide a narrow, restricted forum for strictly party debate with a result mathematically predetermined before the debate has begun.

We want in the other place—here I agree with my hon. Friend's approach—representatives of the whole wide sweep of the activities, the genius, the intelligence and the knowledge of this country. We do not need the Amendment for that purpose. They are there already. What we need to do is to resist the Government's attempt to throw them out.

Mr. Howie

I have been thrown into some difficulty by this Amendment. I am no friend of the Bill. I am anxious to assist in every way to improve it, and I try where possible to support any Amendment which, as the Attorney-General might put it, comes within my ambit. Moreover, I am a scientist and/or technologist, and, consequently, I am anxious to ensure that scientists and technologists are represented in another place.

Mr. Hugh Fraser

Be careful. The hon. Gentleman might find himself there.

Mr. Howie

I shall come to that in a few moments. This is about the right time in the process of the Bill, I suppose, for us to put our applications in. I am, as I say, anxious to promote the interests of scientists and technologists. [Interruption.] I have not really started yet.

Mr. Robert Cooke (Bristol, West)

I hope that the hon. Gentleman realises that more than three-quarters of his own party have already put in their applications.

Mr. Howie

I dare say that that is correct, but some will go in with greater force and more likelihood of being accepted than others. I am anxious to promote science and technology in Parliament and elsewhere. Although I agree with much of what was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, All Saints (Mr. Walden), once or twice during his interesting speech he showed exactly that kind of intolerance to scientists and technologists which is shown by the worst sort of scientists when they are faced with public questions, although I agree with his general stricture that when scientists apply their scientific minds to public questions they are no better than the rest of us, or no better than the hon. Gentleman opposite.

We want people who understand science in the House of Commons and in the House of Lords, by which I mean not practising scientists who are, as my hon. Friend the Member for Ashton-under-Lyne (Mr. Sheldon) said, up-to-date. Even a reformed House of Lords is not likely to be a learned society; their debates, in so far as they touch on science, will not be the kind of debates found in a learned society, but debates in which a background knowledge of science might well be of interest.

My hon. Friend also said that scientists who enter politics are not necessarily fully up-to-date, but I am not sure that this is strictly true. I spent a considerable part of yesterday afternoon in another part of the building with two civil engineers who were bringing me up-to-date on the latest developments in pre-stressed concrete. I am sorry to say that by doing so I missed a considerable part of the interesting speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Ashton-under-Lyne, but I heard enough of it during the one and a half hours when I was here to catch the general drift of what he was saying.

Such specialist scientists, technologists and men of commerce and learning as we require in the House of Lords or in the House of Commons should be there because they are politicians, as my hon. Friend the Member for All Saints, has said, not as specialists or as general practitioners to take our pulse. They should be there as politicians who have made their way into one or other Chamber through the party machine or through activity in politics. The only way to become a legislator is actually to become one in the hard way by fighting until eventually one finds oneself there. It is not possible to land there as a representative of a special interest. This means that the hon. Member for Twickenham (Mr. Gresham Cooke), who moved the Amendment, is perhaps doing the wrong thing although with the best intentions. I know well his interest in these matters.

The real job of political technologists and scientists is to interest other scientists and technologists in politics, and to draw them into politics, so that they come through the organism of politics into the Legislature.

Mr. Gresham Cooke

What my hon. Friend and I were trying to do was to bring into the House of Lords this wide spectrum of a large number of people who, as Lord Bryce said during the Bryce Commission proceedings, would be of a non-partisan nature, of a calm judgment and not necessarily politicians.

Mr. Howie

I am quite sure, as I have said, that the Amendment is put forward with the best intentions. That intervention brings me to my next point.

I am surprised that the hon. Member for Twickenham should regard engineers, technologists and scientists as non-partisan. As a civil engineer, I had a unique experience in this matter. I was twice defeated for electoral office by other civil engineers, once for Hendon Borough Council and once for Middlesex Borough Council. Fortunately, a civil engineer has never stood against me at a Parliamentary election. They are not nonpartisan. They have the same political and social attitudes as other people.

I understand that there are about 60,000 members of the Institution of Civil Engineers and about 60,000 doctors. That suggests that, in the reformed Chamber, they would, under the proposal we are discussing, be entitled to one man each, or two at the most. They could probably achieve that number by sheer luck. Yet new Clause 11 suggests that up to a maximum of one-third of the total, which may be about 100, should be set aside for experts of this kind.

9.45 p.m.

Sir D. Glover

Bearing in mind that an hon. Member of this place needs about 60,000 supporters in his electorate and considering that there will be about 230 Members in another House, would not one-third of a man be the right proportional representation for the purposes that he is discussing?

Mr. Howie

Even in this modern scientific age one is about the smallest unit one could have in the House of Lords, certainly from the point of view of useful contributions to debates being made. The number specified in new Clause 11 would, therefore, appear to be more than is necessary.

Mr. Walden

That new Clause refers to the total voting membership of the reformed House. Perhaps my hon. Friend should bear in mind that each representative could receive one-half or one-third of a vote, which would be more practicable than the suggestion of the hon. Member for Ormskirk (Sir D. Glover) of having one-third of a man.

Mr. Howie

That is an interesting proposition. A man with one-third of a vote would be preferable to a man with no vote at all, although not as good as one man with one whole vote. Perhaps my hon. Friend's suggestions could be applied to the House of Commons.

New Clause 11 suggests that the representatives of the reformed Chamber should be elected by the various societies, associations and bodies of which they are members. This is an interesting idea at first sight, but having for some time been a member of the Council of the Institution of Civil Engineers, I am not so sure. As the members of that institution sometimes read the remarks I make here, I must not say anything harsh or embarrassing about them, not that I would wish to do so. However, my experience of such a body hardly suggests that it would be likely to be a better electoral machine than even the system of nomination which my hon. Friend the Member for All Saints abominates.

These bodies are formed of excellent people who hold interesting debates in their own spheres, but I do not believe that their qualifications are appropriate for the job we have in mind. Leaving aside the question of party advantage, I am not certain that this would be a fruitful sphere for political debate, but I will not go into that now. While I am anxious to improve the Bill and support any Amendment which makes for improvement, I cannot support this one.

Sir C. Osborne

While the hon. Member for Luton (Mr. Howie) is desperately anxious to improve the Bill, he will be aware that the Measure has been damned by the faint praise of its supporters and cursed by its opponents. It is a dogs-body of a Bill that even this Amendment cannot improve. It is time that the Government took it away, buried it and produced something better. That is my preamble.

Sir D. Glover

A better preamble than the one in the Bill.

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

And a shorter one.

Sir C. Osborne

The Amendment sets out a number of experts who should be elected to the House of Lords, because they are experts and for no other reason. I was taught many years ago that an expert is an ordinary person from another county and that an expert is not necessarily a superman when dealing with ordinary political matters. We should remember that Parliament's job is to deal with politics. A technologist, civil engineer or scientist cannot have a better insight into the political troubles and problems which we must face than an ordinary person.

I reject the idea that because a man has half-a-dozen wonderful degrees and a string of letters after his name—and because he may be old and senile—he is necessarily better qualified to deal with political matters than most of us here.

Mr. Fletcher-Cooke

Has my hon. Friend ever had the experience of cross-examining experts? If he has, he will know that for an expert fee almost any expert is prepared to contradict another. In those circumstances, perhaps he would increase his condemnation of experts as independent persons.

Sir C. Osborne

I am much obliged for that support.

The new Clause states that there should be representatives of trade unions. The hon. Member for Birmingham, All Saints (Mr. Walden) made a great point of this. When Mr. Frank Cousins made his last speech here from the third bench below the Gangway, I remember him saying dramatically that power would not rest in this House but outside. Here was one of the most distinguished members of the trade union movement who scorned this House and all it stood for, and said that the real power in industrial matters would be outside this House, that they would not be decided here. If men of that eminence in the trade union world treated this House with such scorn, is it reasonable to suggest that they would go to the gilded Chamber and treat it with greater respect? It is ridiculous to think that they would waste their time by going there.

Therefore, everything behind the Amendment seems completely absurd. I believe that most great trade unions do not allow their general secretaries to be Members of this House. If the most active man in a powerful trade union is precluded by the rules of his union from being a Member of this House, is it reasonable to suggest that the trade unions would allow them to go down the corridor, and that they would be willing to go down the corridor to a Chamber—[Laughter.]—I am glad that I am amusing my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell). Is it reasonable to suggest that men of this eminence outside this House would go to a Chamber where there is no power—

Mr. Boyd-Carpenter

Just wind, I am told.

Sir C. Osborne

It seems to me that this is just the sort of scheme that a clever dick from a university—[Laughter.]—if my right hon. Friend the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West does not like the allusion to a clever dick, I will say "Smart Alec". Thinking of the author of the Bill, I thought that the other name was much more appropriate and to the point. Only a very clever man who is out of touch with the ordinary realities of life would make that suggestion.

Mr. Gresham Cooke

I made it, damn it all.

Sir C. Osborne

To that intervention, I say, if the cap fits, wear it.

The Amendment would not improve a bad Bill. I do not think that the people whom the Clause would tempt to go to the other House would be the sort that could make the contribution the authors of the Clause think they could. Take the part of industrial activities that I know something about. I should guess that industry would send the past presidents of this that or the other, retired people who are past their best—

Mr. Hugh Fraser

The I.R.C. boys.

Sir C. Osborne

Not the young active men, who would not waste their time giving advice to a lot of people who would not take any notice of them.

Therefore, it is a bad Amendment to an even worse Bill. I say to the Leader of the House, "For goodness' sake take it back and bring something better."

Sir D. Glover

I gather that in this debate we are allowed to have a preamble to our speech, just as the Bill has. I do not want to detain the Committee, except to say that I believe that Parliament could have made several decisions. The first would be to leave the second Chamber as it is. It has many advantages and virtues that I fear we shall regret losing when we have done something with the Bill. I accept what the hon. Mem-

ber for Birmingham, All Saints (Mr. Walden) said, that we cannot justify the hereditary principle on any basis, but so far it works.

The second decision would be to produce an elected Chamber. I am surprised that the Government, who are supposed to be radical, did not introduce an elective system in the Bill, if they are to reform another place. We now have the worst of all possible worlds, which does not make sense to anybody.

My hon. Friends who produced the Amendment did so in an attempt to remove in a minor degree some of the evils in the Bill. I sympathise with my hon. Friend the Member for Twickenham (Mr. Gresham Cooke) and the others who have spoken, but I cannot go along with them on the Amendment.

The debate has been very interesting, and I was particularly interested in the speech of the hon. Member for All Saints. If the party opposite wants any chance of winning an election, the sooner it puts the hon. Gentleman into its counsels the better it will be for the party. He is by far the most outstanding man on the back benches opposite, and I cannot understand a party in the position of the Labour Party ignoring his abilities. We have heard a lot about people being politicians.

It being Ten o'clock, The CHAIRMAN left the Chair to report Progress and ask leave to sit again.

Committee report Progress.

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