§ Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee, read.
§ moved, "That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(The Earl Russell.)
§ LORD CAIRNS
My Lords, there appeared on both sides of the House, on the second reading of this Bill, to be a general feeling that, subject to alterations in Committee, the object which the noble Earl (Earl Russell) has in view might be satisfactorily accomplished. Under those circumstances I reserved until the third reading the right of those who think with me on the subject of deciding on what course they should then adopt, when the Amendments which were proposed to be made in the Bill should have been seen and understood. I have myself placed two Amendments on the Paper; and it may be convenient that before your Lordships go into Committee I should explain the principle on which those Amendments proceed, and the reasons why I think they should be introduced into the Hill. It is of considerable consequence to bear in mind on which this Bill proceeds. Now, there are some points on which no difference of opinion exists in this House. This House is an hereditary assembly, and I hold it to be a fixed and fundamental principle of the constitutional view of this House that it is intended through the medium of an independent hereditary Peerage to furnish a counterpoise to the unbalanced weight which might otherwise attach to that assembly which is elected by popular representation. I think we are also agreed that we do not desire to see this House become a second nominative assembly named for life by the Government of the day. The feeling of your Lordships, as I understand, in Lord Wensleydale's ease was that, if what was then attempted had been unchallenged, the Government of the day would have been able, through the Prerogative of the Crown, to introduce into this House an unlimited number of Members holding their seats for life only. I am aware that it was remarked on the second reading that you always have a check in the exercise of public opinion 1173 upon the creation of Members of this House, and that just as that check now operates on the creation of hereditary peerages so would it operate on the creation of life peerages. There is, however, a great difference in the power of the Executive in those two eases, and it is clear that the force of public opinion would not be directed with the same energy with regard to an enlargement of this House by the creation of life Peers, as with regard to its enlargement by multiplying hereditary Peers. Another difference is that while in the creation of a life Peer the Government may, from his personal relations and sympathies, place considerable reliance on his support in Parliament, it by no means follows in the creation of an hereditary Peer that they may calculate on the same; amount of support from future holders of that peerage. With respect to the hereditary character of this House, I make no exception, even in the case of the Scotch and Irish Peers, or of the right rev. Bench. The former are persons who already possess hereditary peerages, and the Government has no control over the choice of those who are elected out of their own number to re-represent those peerages. As to the Episcopal Bench; it is true they are nominated by the Crown; but we have a sufficient guarantee that the nomination will be regulated by principles very much higher than could be connected with the mere obtaining of political support in this House. It is said, indeed, that this House is not sufficiently representative in its character, and the objection seems at first sight a very plausible one. It is said that the House is composed of great landowners—and no doubt it contains a great many; but I am sorry to say I know by personal experience that there are other Peers who are not large landowners. Why, however, is a man, because he is a large landowner, less able to make up his mind and exorcise an intelligent and sound judgment on the various subjects of legislation which come before us, and why should there be any great sameness in your Lordship's mode of looking at those subjects? Anyone who looks at the debates will, I venture to say, find that the charge has very little foundation, for we find that there is even among those largo proprietors of land just as much variety of feeling on pub- 1174 lic questions as we should expect to find in any assembly of English gentlemen. I think, then, we shall agree that it is not the object of the Bill—and that if it wore, your Lordships would not be disposed to assent to it—to make this House more of a representative assembly in any proper sense of the term than it is at present. Indeed, if such were its object, it would not accomplish that end, for it suggests no representation or constituency. And if it should be said that the persons appointed under it would be nominated on the advice of the Government of the day, that Government being supported by the House of Commons, and that House representing the country at large, and that therefore those persons would in some sense represent the constituencies and country at large, I should reply that that would be an admission that for the sake of avoiding one kind of monotony you were falling into another, by choosing persons as Members of this House to represent constituencies already represented in the other House of Parliament. If, then, it is not the object of the Bill to destroy the hereditary character of the House, or to introduce a system of representation, what is the object? It was said or suggested by the noble Earl (Earl Russell) that there were or might be from time to time persons whom, from their attainments or great experience of public affairs, it would be desirable to have as Members of this House, and also persons who, from their exertions in the public service, had deserved well of the country, and upon whom the reward of the Peerage might be fitly conferred; and that since there might be some in both these classes who might not be willing to undertake the burden of an hereditary peerage, it was desirable to provide for their introduction into this House as life Peers. Now, I think the evil intended to be remedied by this Bill has been somewhat over-rated. I am not indeed prepared to say that there are not persons of the character the noble Earl has described; but if there have been any noble Lords on one side or the other I must have been aware of such instances, yet I do not remember that a single instance has been positively mentioned. But many instances might be mentioned of persons influenced in an opposite direction—persons upon whom an hereditary peerage would have been 1175 conferred, but who were deterred from accepting it on account of their having no family, so that the new honour would have terminated with themselves. I can recall instances of that kind, and so I am sure can many of your Lordships. It does not follow that persons unwilling to accept the burden of an hereditary peerage would, as a matter of course, accept a peerage for life. It is by no means certain that a person would be willing to place his family in such a position that during his life they would have those social incidents which are supposed to attach to a peerage, but that they would lose those incidents on his death. Difficulty might, therefore, arise in the application of this measure, My noble Friend who so long influenced the deliberations of this House as the Leader of the party sitting on these Benches (the Earl of Derby), suggested on the second reading, that inasmuch as the object of the Bill was to deal with those eases, and those cases only, in which there was great personal merit, combined with an unwillingness to accept an hereditary peerage, the grounds on which the peerage was conferred in the form of a life peerage should be stated on the face of the patent. No doubt that would carry out the object which the Bill has in view. There are, however, objections to that course. In the first place, when you conic to describe in a patent services or qualifications for which the honour of a peerage is granted, we all know how easy it is to insert in round and sonorous terms a general description of services, and yet to give very little security for the correctness of the application of those terms to the particular case. If, moreover, persons were unwilling for family reasons, to accept the burden of an hereditary peerage, they might not, nevertheless, wish to put on record even a statement which truly described their opinions and sentiments. It appears to me that the object in view may be best accomplished, not by putting on the patent a statement of the motives and grounds on which the peerage was conferred, but by stating upon the face of the Act of Parliament the principle which guided this House in assenting to this legislation—thus leaving a sort of landmark which could be referred to at any future time as describing the motives which influenced this House. That 1176 is the effect of the first Amendment I have to propose. In its present shape the Preamble recites the decision of the House in the Wensleydale case; and I propose to add to this a recital—And whereas it is expedient to afford, under certain restrictions, facilities for the introduction into the House of Lords of persons distinguished in the services of the State, or who from their attainments or official position are likely to add weight to the deliberations of the House, and who may not be desirous to undertake the burden of an hereditary peerage,This will not fetter the Government by any precise description of the persons upon whom the honour should be conferred, but will simply lay down the object which Parliament had in view, leaving the Government to act up to the spirit of the Preamble. On this point there will not. I think, be any substantial difference between the noble Earl and myself; for he now proposes to strike out the enumeration of classes originally contained in the Bill, and to make an alteration in the Preamble, though not to make it quite as explicit as I wish to do—his proposed recital being that it is expedient that a limited number of Peers should be created for life "on account of their eminent merits or distinguished services to their country." I assume your Lordships are prepared to agree to the recital of the Preamble, and the only other question is the limit to which the creation of life Peers is to go. Both sides of the House are agreed that there should be some limit; and the noble Earl proposes that there shall at no time be more than twenty-eight of these peerages, and that not more than four shall be created in any single year. The consequence will be that it will be in the power of the Government, should it be in Office seven years, to create four Peers a year—until the limit of twenty-eight shall be reached—and there will remain to future Governments only the power of filling up vacancies as they occur. My proposition is that there shall be no limit as regards the entire number, and that there shall be power, to create one peerage every year, there being no power after one such creation in any year to create a second in the same year, unless the person receiving it shall, at the date of the patent, hold one of the high Offices of State. The noble Earl behind me (Earl Stanhope) proposes, instead of describing the of- 1177 fices categorically, to make the description more general, by providing that, after one such peerage shall have been created in any year, no other such peerage shall be created, unless the person to whom it is granted, shall, at the date of the patent, ''hold some Cabinet Office or shall have performed some signal military or naval service in the course of the twelve months preceding." I do not think the term "Cabinet Office" has ever occurred in any Act of Parliament; but there is no reason why it should not be used, as we all know what it means and it is desirable that a person who has performed distinguished services should be made an exception, and be added as a second creation in any year. I wish to adopt the noble Earl's Amendments as better than my own; but the question is whether that limit, or the proposal of the noble Earl (Earl Russell), is the proper one. Now, a great objection to the latter would be the want of uniformity in its working: for while, during seven years, four peerages might be created annually, there would then, in case the twenty-eight were all living, be no power to create any more till a vacancy arose: and, in subsequent years, there would only be the power of filling vacancies. Moreover, the number—four—seems to me too large. I think the creation of so large a number in any one year very objectionable. I have endeavoured to ascertain the number of additions to this House since the Reform Act of 1832; and I find that 117 peerages have been created in those thirty-seven years; and of that number, twenty-four have become extinct or merged. Deducting the cases in which a Scotch or Irish Peer has been made a Peer of the realm, I find that ninety-five Commoners have been created Peers during this period; or, on an average, two and a-half every year. Now, the principle of this measure is, as I understand, to supplement—and not to supersede—the principle of hereditary peerage; and, as far as we can judge of the future by the past, the average of the Just thirty-seven years will not, we may anticipate, be very different from that of the future. Thus, there would, under the proposal of my noble Friend behind me, be a power of creating one life peerage, and, perhaps, one and a-quarter or one and a-half a year, as compared with two and a-half hereditary peerages—a rela- 1178 tive proportion, which seems to me a very fair one. There is another circumstance which should not be lost sight of. It would be invidious to mention names, but, on looking over those ninety-six peerages, it is satisfactory to be able to say that the list includes a very great number of names of persons whose introduction into this House, on account of their distinguished services, attainments, or official position, could not but have been otherwise than highly beneficial. I have counted up forty or fifty, indeed, as to whom we should all be agreed in applying the Preamble I propose. Those persons, who have been a great ornament to this House, have had no scruple, as far as we know, in accepting hereditary peerages; and can we suppose that during those thirty-seven years there have been, in addition to them, more than thirty-seven other persons whose attainments, experience, or services would have made them advantageous accessions to this House, but who would have been unwilling to accept hereditary peerages, and who have not found a place in this House on that account? That is surely a. fair test to apply, when the House is called upon to expand the power of the Crown, by conferring on it the power of creating as many as four life Peers every year. There is another incident to be considered. This scheme is a novelty: and, though I would not quarrel with it on that ground alone, we must remember that it has yet to be tried. It may answer all the noble Earl's anticipations; but, on the other hand, it may fail—and you may find that you do not attain the object—either through the peerages being refused, or through not securing the persons you desire to see added. Now, it is clearly better, to make a safe beginning, that we may see what its effect on the composition of the House will be, rather than begin in a form which is unnecessarily large. I therefore trust that the Amendment of my noble Friend (the Earl of Carnarvon) will be adopted, and withdraw my own in its favour. My noble and learned Friend opposite (Lord Penzance)—whose presence I hail as a proof that the burden of an hereditary peerage is not entirely of the character which some have represented—proposes that no person shall be created a Peer under the Bill— 1179Who shall not have served the Crown with distinction in either the naval, military, diplomatic, or civil services of the State for a period of at least five years.Now, it might be easy to determine, whether any person had served the Crown with distinction; but, how would it be possible to determine whether a person had served with distinction for five years? Such a statement might be challenged in a disagreeable way; and it would not, therefore, be well to adopt the terms proposed by my noble and learned Friend. I apprehend that, when we go into Committee, the most convenient course will be to negative the usual Motion, that the Preamble be postponed, in order to discuss the Amendment which I propose in it.
THE EARL OF CARNARVON
I wish to say a few words before we go into Committee; for this question, I think your Lordships will agree with me, is a very serious one, and should be handled with great caution. We are dealing with a very ancient institution, which has struck its roots more deeply in the public mind than some people are aware of, and should it be impaired or subverted by hasty or ill-advised legislation, it would be impossible to retrace our steps. My noble Friend (the Marquess of Salisbury) remarked on a former occasion on the difficulty of speaking of an institution of which we are all Members; but what is the real character of this House? Some of its merits nobody can dispute. Its diplomatic knowledge and skill in foreign affairs is greater than that of any oilier legislative assembly. Its administrative power is represented by a large number of Members who have hold high Offices in the State. Its legal ability is represented by successive heads of the law. The Church is sufficiently represented by those supposed to have been selected as the most able and eloquent of its divines. This House, lastly, enjoys the great advantage of the absence of constituents—which secures its independence; that independence, if collectively less than in former times, being certainly greater individually; for whereas in former times the Crown was able to and did exercise a very great influence on the action of individuals, that influence has altogether ceased. There are, on the other hand, three points on which this House—if I may venture to say so— 1180 is hardly equal to its position. First of all, you have the transmission of titles, without, in certain cases, a corresponding transmission of property. That this is an evil is generally admitted; and it is greater now than formerly, because the Crown formerly by the grant of possessions could rectify the difficulty, whereas that power has now ceased. In the next place, I agree with my noble Friend (the Marquess of Salisbury) that the composition of this House is, perhaps, somewhat too uniform in its character. I am the last man to underrate or depreciate the value of an assembly composed in great measure of landowners. Familiarity with land is obviously a great advantage, and I need not point out how very large the circle of that subject is; but where I think the weakness of the House in this respect lies is that there is not a sufficient proportion of Members who are conversant with the other sources of the wealth and industry of the country. Every year you have laid before you measures relating to commerce, trade, banking, and questions of a cognate kind with which we are not thoroughly acquainted. Therefore it is really a question of knowledge; and as the commercial interests and commercial legislation are year by year growing in importance, your Lordships' House ought to comprise individuals competent to deal with questions of trade and commerce. Thirdly—and this is a point which I look upon as the most important of all — I cannot but think—but I am hardly sanguine enough to expect that many of your Lordships will agree with me, that there is a want of what T should call a censorial power in this House. It is, as far as I know, the only deliberative assembly within historical times that has ever been wanting in it. What I have already said will have shown that I am not opposed to mere change, provided that change be well considered, and likely to secure its object. There is scarcely any great institution in this country which has changed oftener, or more in some respects, than this House. Indeed, it has reflected the distinctive character of every age in the history of the country. In feudal times its composition, was essentially feudal. At a later date, when the learning and wealth of the country were concentrated in the clergy, it was mainly composed of ecclesiastics. After- 1181 wards it represented the characteristics of the Tudor age; and after the Revolution it became a purely aristocratic and oligarchical assembly. After the passing of the Reform Act of 1832 it still adapted and modified itself to the changed circumstances of the time—and I will venture to tell the House that through these changes it has happened that in all these different times this House has never been wanting to itself —it was generally equal, often superior —and only in the evil times of the Stuarts was it inferior—to the other House of Parliament. And further—in all these changes that have taken place, somehow or other it has managed to retain in public estimation the character of unchangeableness—in the popular opinion it is and has been unchanged in its general structure and its general character. I cannot but think that this is a great advantage. It agrees happily with what I may term the dignity of the character of your House, and serves as a counterpoise to the mere worship of money, as in America, or to the mere worship of rank, as it exists in some parts of the Continent. Coming to the subject of the principle of life peerages. I well remember the Resolutions that were moved on that subject by Lord Lyndhurst, in 1856. I remember—for I bad then recently become a Member of your Lordships' House—I well remember the form, the words, the carriage, the tone of voice of the noble Lord, with its cadences unbroken by ago, and almost as musical as they ever had been, and I well remember the effect his arguments had on my mind, as, no doubt, on many of your Lordships'. If they carried more than their duo weight, I think I, more than anyone, should stand fairly excused. These Resolutions were preliminary to the appointment of a Select Committee on the Appellate Jurisdiction of this House. The Committee recommended, by one of their Resolutions, that there should be added to your Lordships' House four Law Peers, whose peerages should be created for life only. A Bill was subsequently introduced based on their Report, but the number of life Peers was reduced to two, the holders of which should enjoy official salaries of £5.000 or £6,000 a year. Now, I was a Member of that Committee: but I have always had considerable 1182 doubt as to the conclusions at which we arrived. I cannot but think that two life Peers with official salaries were either too many, if the principle was objectionable, or too few if any practicable effect was to be produced. It touched only one, and a very small part of the question—namely, the judicial functions of this House. The real object of life peerages is not to represent different interests in an elective sense, as my noble Friend (the Marquess of Salisbury) has been so much taken to task for saying, but that this House should be a supreme court of review in legislative matters as it is a supreme court of review in judicial matters. Can that, however, be done without loss of popular power and prestige on the part of this House? I think it may be best accomplished by some form of life peerage; but is the form proposed by the noble Earl (Earl Russell) the one best calculated to effect the object in view? On this point I entertain some doubt. The noble Earl argues, and quite fairly, that many men of ability who are unable to obtain seats in the House of Commons might be brought into this House by the operation of such a measure. But ex hypothesi, a very large proportion of these will be poor men, and therefore you will confer on men confessedly poor, and unable or unwilling to accept an hereditary peerage, the necessity of maintaining the dignity of a coronet, and that a coronet of an exceptional kind. Now, I cannot but apprehend that they will find themselves placed in a false position, and will feel themselves asked to accept an honour which is almost in the nature of a sham. If, on the other hand—as I admit that it would be a great gain to the House if we could secure the presence of men of great eloquence and ability—you were to confer power to sit and vote in this House as plain gentlemen, without any title or particular distinction, there would be a compliment paid to them and their ability; there would be the advantage to this House, whatever it might be, of their eloquence and ability; and lastly —which is the highest recommendation of all—there would be the minimum of disturbance in the existing system. This, indeed, it may be said, is an anomaly; but it is not more of an anomaly than that which already exists. At this moment you have hereditary Peers who 1183 are not Lords of Parliament, and Lords of Parliament who are not hereditary Peers. You are now asked to create Lords of Parliament who are not to be hereditary Peers. For my own part. I think it would be desirable to create life peerages by one or other of the methods proposed, provided that a number is to be fixed not to be transgressed, and that the persons called up to this House by the Crown are in every case Members of the Privy Council. I will next refer to the number of life Peers it is proposed to create. The noble Earl opposite (Earl Russell) proposes to limit that number to twenty-eight, while the noble and learned Lord (Lord Cairns) proposes to remove all restrictions with respect to qualification, but to restrict the creation of such peerages to one a year, but allowing in addition one Cabinet Minister per annum to be raised to that dignity. Now, it appears to me that this proposal would permit a much, larger number of life Peers to be created than that of the noble Earl opposite—and for this reason. There are twenty-eight Irish Representative Peers sitting in this House, and I find that vacancies occur among them at the rate of about one per annum—which will give the noble Earl twenty-eight life peerages. But the noble and learned Lord proposes that, in addition to the creation of one life Peer per annum without restriction of qualification, any Cabinet Minister may have such a peerage conferred upon him. Now, the average duration of Parliaments since the accession of William IV. in the year 1865 I have ascertained to be three and a-quarter years; but assuming that the average duration will in future be four years, and assuming that two Cabinet Ministers have life peerages conferred upon them in each Parliament, in twenty-eight years we shall have fourteen creations of Cabinet Ministers plus the twenty eight unrestricted creations; which will give a total of forty-two creations in that period. If we assume that there will be three creations of Cabinet Ministers in each Parliament, then we shall have in the same period forty-nine creations. Therefore, it appears to me that the proposal of the noble and learned Lord goes far beyond that contained in the Bill. It is right that in a matter of this kind we should ascertain well what is likely to be the result of pro- 1184 posals of this kind before we adopt them. I have given notice of some Amendments upon the Bill, with which I will not trouble your Lordships at the present moment, which will give some security as to the merits of the persons upon whom such dignities may be conferred. I am exceedingly anxious that, whatever may be the result of this measure, no mere political partizan shall be admitted to this House under the provisions of this Bill. It remains, however, to be seen whether two orders of Peerages—hereditary Peers and life Peers— can co-exist in the same system. In looking back upon history, we find in the Roman Senate — which certainly lasted longer than any other deliberative body—an illustrious example of two such classes sitting side by side in the same assembly, and that assembly has been justly called "an Assembly of Kings." On the other hand, the experiment of hereditary and life peerages has been tried in France, and has, undoubtedly, signally failed. It is, however, only fair to state that the history of the French Peerage since the Restoration has been a history of coup d'êtats, and it is only marvellous that the Peerage has survived at all. The genius of the English Constitution has always been in favour of unmixed assemblies; and if a great change like that contemplated by the Bill is to be effected in the constitution of this House, I think that that change should be made gradually; and, no doubt, under the provisions of the 15ill that object would be attained. I will, in conclusion, only touch upon one other point. It is of the utmost importance that the unity which, at times apparent, and at others latent, has always existed between the two Houses of Parliament, should be maintained. In former times this unity was secured, sometimes by direct, and at other times by indirect means; but I cannot help feeling that recent constitutional changes have had a tendency to shake that unity. As matters now stand, that unity can only be secured by one of two ways—either we must yield upon every point to the Lower House of Parliament, which would be more weakness; and I, for one, say that political existence upon such terms would not be worth having, that it would not be creditable to us or useful to the nation—or we must in- 1185 crease our strength, and so maintain a complete equality in argument and in debate with the Lower House of Parliament; and that can only be obtained by calling to this House those who will bring with them ample knowledge of the various subjects which may have to be debated. In modern times a great variety of interests have sprung up which look to Parliament for an exposition of their case. It is doubtful whether the House of Commons, as it is now constituted, is likely to supply the knowledge requisite for the proper determination of many of these various questions. This House, then, would be disloyal to itself if it failed to secure to itself all the assistance which could give them command over those subjects—by recruiting to itself all the knowledge, the wisdom, the eloquence, which, would enable them to perform a great part in the legislation of the country. I regret that I have occupied so much of your Lordships' time, but I was anxious to lay my views upon the subject before your Lordships now, so as to avoid making any unnecessary remarks in Committee.
§ LORD PENZANCE
The noble and learned Lord opposite (Lord Cairns) has pointed out to your Lordships the grounds upon which he believes that this Bill ought to be passed into law, and the grounds upon which he has put forward the Amendments he proposes to make in the Bill. I think that there is a great convenience in discussing all these Amendments together; because, in truth, as soon as the House has arrived at the principle upon which it intends to act—as soon as the House has made up its mind with reference to the grounds, the purposes, and the object with which this great change is to be made—then, and then only, will you be in a position to estimate the proper safeguards that ought to be placed upon the power proposed to be given by the Bill. I must, in the first place, thank the noble and learned Lord for the valuable criticisms that he has offered upon the Amendments I have laid before the House, and I will venture in return, to point out that the Amendment of the noble Earl (Earl Stanhope) which the noble and learned Lord has adopted in lieu of his own, is open to precisely the same remarks. The noble and learned Lord has objected that it might be difficult to define the meaning of the words in my Amendment; served the Crown 1186 with distinction for a period … of at least five years." I in return might ask for a definition of the words in the noble Earl (Earl Stanhope's) Amendment "shall have performed some signal service." But I ought in candour to confess that I think my noble and learned Friend's criticism is just, and that the words "signal" and "with distinction" should be omitted from all these Amendments, because it is difficult accurately to define their meaning. Passing by that trifling matter, I will at once come to the subject your Lordships have to consider. And, in the first place, allow me to ask what is the principle upon which it is proposed that we should make this great—for it is a great change in the constitution of this House? I can hardly believe that your Lordships will be content to make this great fundamental change in the hereditary character of this assembly for the sole purpose of admitting now and again some one individual whose knowledge may be of service in the debates and contests that here arise. I rather think that the considerations presented to your Lordships by the noble Marquess opposite (the Marquess of Salisbury)— considerations connected with the nature of this assembly and the desirability of its being in some sense representative of the interests of the country—had weight with your Lordships when you accepted this Bill and gave to it a second reading. It is quite time that this is not an elective assembly; and it is quite true that, through the medium of any organization efficient for that purpose, it is not a representative assembly; but it is equally true that, in the spirit of the Constitution, it is intended to represent the community, and to reflect the interests of the people at large. Your Lordships do not sit here in assertion of your individual rights, or for the protection of your individual interests; you sit here as representatives of the community. There is no doubt that the most stable feature in all Constitutions is that feature which connects itself with landed possessions; and the House of Lords, in its constitutional aspect, represents the favour of the Sovereign and the power of land. The favour of the Sovereign, constitutionally exercised, is the reward of the subject the power of the land is nothing but the accumulated frugality of the people. As far as the House of Lords represents these two ideas faithfully it holds its place in the Constitution. But now the 1187 question is, with the changes which have occurred in modern ideas, and with the alterations that, have ensued in the conditions of society, are the same relations still maintained—does the House, in truth, continue to reflect, as it has hitherto reflected, the interests of the nation? It is impossible to review what has occurred within the last twenty, thirty, or forty years without being sensible of the fact that there has been a ' vast change in the House of Commons, and that a great advance has been made in the democratic direction. No one will deny that it. is of supreme moment that this House should be in harmony with the other House of the Legislature; and if that change has occurred, and that advance in a democratic direction has been made—which nobody can deny—it is of supreme moment that this House should not thereby be placed out of harmony with it. How is the difficulty to be overcome? For I apprehend that if your 'Lordships pass this Bill, some idea of the kind must have place in your minds. It can only be overcome by conciliating and attracting to this House the active intelligence of the country— of course in a certain proportion. That the great body of the House should continue to represent realized property is desirable, and, indeed, almost necessary; but that it should also represent the active intelligence of the country, tried official capacity, and distinguished public service in any of the great public Departments of the State is, I think, what nobody will say is otherwise than desirable. I apprehend it is for some such purpose as (his that the noble Earl has introduced this Bill. He desires to introduce into this House a certain number of Members familiar with business, whose habits of mind and training— training probably in the public service—fit them to take part in all discussions of a character properly falling within the functions of the Legislature. My noble and learned Friend (Lord Cairns) said that those who possessed land were not thereby disqualified from discussing all such subjects— and undoubtedly they are not. But, on the other hand, as the noble Earl who has just sat down (the Earl of Carnarvon) has said, it is desirable, also, to have here those who, from their experience, from actual contact with public affairs, and from a. variety of circumstances quite independent of land, would bring to 1188 the discussions of this House a certain amount of acquired knowledge and experience. And if at any time a conflict or a difference of opinion should arise between this House and the other House of Parliament it would be a positive benefit to have some portion of this House dissociated from the interests of land—it would be a positive advantage that no one should be able to point to a decision of this House and say—"That is a decision of the landowners." To whatever extent you can infuse into this House—subject, of course, to proper limits—some elements other than that of the possession of acquired or realized property, to that extent you offer to the public a guarantee that the general interests of the Empire will be considered and cared for, and that particular and special interests will fall into the shade. I do not desire to enlarge upon these ideas, but they must, I think, have been ideas which induced some portion, at least, of your Lordships to give to the Bill a second reading. I ask you, then, whether the proposal to admit one life Peer into the House in the course of a year is a proposal in any way adequate to the achievement of the end in view. My noble and learned Friend proposes, in addition to the one Peer who may be created in the course of the year, that others may be added if they have held Cabinet Offices. That is one restriction, and it is a good one; but the question is whether it would go far enough. It was pointed out by a noble Earl (Earl Grey) on the occasion when the Bill was read a second time, that while you are desirous of throwing open the door of access to the Legislature to one class of people, another and a very different class of people may walk in at the same time. There is no doubt that the great danger and difficulty to be grappled with upon this question lies in seeing how an adequate restriction can be placed, not merely upon the number, but upon the class of persons to be introduced into this House by the medium of this change. My Lords, I venture to think that if there is no restriction as to the class of persons who are to be admitted, within a week after this Bill becomes law a certain functionary of the House of Commons—I never had the honour of a seat in that House, and consequently I do not know his name, but a functionary who has the power of divining the secret aspirations of the most ardent 1189 patriots and the most fervent politicians—will have a list of those who think a seat in the House of Lords an object of desire and ambition; and according to the faithfulness of their services will be the fulness of their reward. I cannot conceive a greater evil than that; it would be an immeasurable evil. We should have knocked down and destroyed the structure of this House for the purpose of admitting persons -who had served, not the nation, but the Minister; persons who had added to the power of the other House, not in debate, but in the Division List. The question, therefore, is, how can such a class—deserving in many respects, but not deserving thereby of a seat in this House—be excluded, if the change now under consideration be made? It is to meet this object that I have framed the Amendment which I have put upon the Paper. The object which I have in view is simply this—that the individuals to be admitted into the House under the proposed change should be persons who, from their varied public services in a public capacity, shall be worthy of a seat in this House. And it has occurred to me that Few men who have achieved distinction in public life would be enchanted by a provision that they should have held some office for a limited number of years. It may be doubted whether any definition would succeed in expressing adequately the notion which we entertain and desire to see fulfilled in any appointments which may be made. But there can, I think, be little doubt that, the qualification once existing, men will find for themselves opportunities in some Department of the public service of achieving distinction, and will bring to this House names not unknown to the public— names in which the public will have confidence, and which will give additional lustre and dignity to this House. With regard to my noble and learned Friend's suggestion that the number of Peers to be admitted under the proposed creation should be regulated in proportion to the number of hereditary Peers created, I own that I am at a loss to conceive how that can bear upon the question; because the restriction as to number which the noble Earl placed in the Bill was intended to have relation, not to the number of hereditary Peers created in the same period, but to the whole body of Peers.
§ THE DUKE OF CLEVELAND
said, 1190 there was some discrepancy between the earlier and latter portions of the speech just delivered by the noble and learned Lord (Lord Penzance). Admitting the desirability of bringing, as he had said, the House of Lords into harmony with the other House of Parliament, the Amendment proposed by the noble and learned Lord would, of itself, from its very limited nature, hardly accomplish that object. The persons to be admitted under this proposal were not persons representing mercantile interests, or bringing any special knowledge upon those subjects to the House, but persons who had filled some official position— whose names, therefore, had been before the public for years, and who would accordingly be eligible on other grounds for admission. The noble Earl (the Earl of Carnarvon) had alluded to the French Chamber of Peers. It should be borne in mind that the French Chamber enjoyed high consideration and influence as long as it was hereditary; but from the moment its members were wholly or in great part nominated by the Crown it sank in public estimation, and no longer wielded any effective power. It must be remembered, however, that after all the change proposed by the Bill of the noble Earl, it was not a very large one, for it only proposed the creation of four life Peers every year for a certain number of years. But the noble and learned Lord who had just spoke (Lord Penzance) evidently anticipated that a much greater change was in view, because he spoke of keeping the two Houses of Parliament in unity—and that could hardly be done by the introduction of so small a number of Peers of this class. Their Lordships had been told by a leading Member of the present Government to be prepared for a state of things which must gradually and necessarily undermine either the influence of the Crown on one hand or of their Lordships' House on the other; because a preponderating power had been conferred upon the great towns, and mainly upon the masses wielding democratic influences, he did not think that the present was a very large measure; but it had been truly said by the noble Lord that those who advocated it were prepared to go much further; and they no doubt had a much more extensive object in view. If, however, it was contemplated that the course of legislative proceedings should be affected by a large infusion of the nominees of the 1191 Crown, he, for one, would rather see the constitution of a second Chamber with a different and higher constituency, because such a Chamber would enjoy much more confidence and authority than the House of Lords could have under such conditions. Indeed, in such a case the hereditary principle had better be abandoned altogether, and some other principle substituted for it for a second Chamber composed of hereditary Members swamped by nominees of the Crown would be the worst and most useless assembly ever invented. The House of Lords must depend upon its prestige with the country; but its influence would be totally changed if a largo infusion of nominees of the Crown were effected. It would be no longer the same assembly, and would by no means enjoy the same influence. That House was mainly an assembly of landed proprietors; but he quite agreed that it was most desirable that every Member of it should consider that he did not merely and simply represent the land—that it was his duty to represent in that House not land only but all the mighty interests which had grown up in this country of late years, and had acquired a magnitude unknown to former times. It would be, in fact, most unworthy of that House to look at questions simply and solely as they related to their influence upon land. Their Lordships were now embarking upon a great measure. The question would be much discussed in the other House of Parliament; but he trusted that the principle would not be argued of making the House of Lords a mere hospital for invalids of the State, but that means should be taken of introducing the mercantile element and that antagonistic power to a mere landed proprietary to which the noble Marquess the other cloy had alluded. It would greatly add to their Lordships' influence in the country if that other element were; introduced into their debates. He certainly did not look to any great advantage from the introduction into the House of a few official personages who had lost their seats in the other House; and while he admitted that it was desirable to give life peerages to military men—he did not think that a great number of such peerages were to be expected or desired. The object of such a Bill as the present was to introduce the most useful and efficient. Members who could be found into their Lordships' House, and 1192 not mere empty ornaments or mere official personages.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
would suggest that, as any noble Lord would have an opportunity of stating his objections on the clauses, it would be desirable that the House should now go into Committee.
§ Motion agreed to; House in Committee accordingly.
§ On Question, That the Preamble be postponed,
said, that in 1855, on the Scotch Education Bill, on the Question that the Preamble be postponed, it was found convenient to decide the Question of the Preamble before the clauses; and the Preamble was rejected by a large majority.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
asked whether it was the practice of the House that the Preamble should be postponed as a matter of course—because it might, in some cases, be desirable that such a Motion should be made by a Peer. He should like to know whether it would not be open to propose an Amendment to the Preamble on the Motion that the Preamble be postponed.
§ LORD REDESDALE
said, it was usual to put the Question that the Preamble be postponed as a matter of course. In the present case any noble Lord who read the Amendments intended to be proposed on the Preamble would be satisfied that they might be moved seriatim on the Bill afterwards. Under These circumstances, he thought it better to adhere, to the uniform practice of the House, and that the Preamble be postponed.
§ Preamble postponed accordingly.
§ Clause 1. (Peers for life to be entitled to sit and vote in the House of Lords under certain conditions).
§ EARL STANHOPE
said, that in moving the Amendment of which he had given notice, he would detain their Lordships with very few observations. He desired, in the first place, to express his great surprise that it should have been stated by his noble Friend, the noble Earl who sat near him (the Earl of Carnarvon), that the proposal of his noble and learned Friend (Lord Cairns) was in its nature an extension rather than a restriction of the power of making life Peers. His noble Friend it would seem must have overlooked the fact that the 1193 peerages must be created in favour of Cabinet Ministers or officers who had performed some signal military or naval service. Now the Cabinet was scarcely ever attained in early life; and still more seldom had any young man the opportunity of achieving any great exploit in war. These Peers for life under such a condition would for the most part enter the House when past middle age, and their span of peerage would of course be proportionally so much the shorter. He must, therefore, take the liberty of denying that this proposal was intended to be an extension of the power of making life Peers beyond what was proposed by the noble Earl who introduced this Bill. The first condition of his Amendment was the holding of a Cabinet Office; and although the definition of a Cabinet Office was new in an Act of Parliament, it did seem high time that the distinction should be recognized. He would, however, alter the phraseology into "Minister of State holding a Cabinet Office." A person following the profession of the law might be highly qualified, by genius and attainments to fill the office of Chancellor; but, having no hereditary fortune, might be unwilling to accept such an office. In that case it would be a great advantage that the burden of maintaining an hereditary peerage should not prevent an eminent lawyer rendering his services to the Crown in this House. If the Amendment of the noble and learned Lord opposite (Lord Penzance) were adopted, it might prevent this, the main and principal object of the Bill, from taking effect; for the Amendment would limit the power of creating Life Peers from the law to those who have already filled high offices in that profession. Now it often may happen, as it has happened, that it may be desired to raise a barrister of eminent merit to the Woolsack at once without his having first filled a Judgeship, or other legal office, and in that case the Chancellor so appointed could not be made a Life Peer. It seemed to him, therefore, that any Minister of State holding a Cabinet Office —that is, who was a responsible Adviser of the Crown—might fairly be said to be a fit person to be created a life Peer. The second condition he desired to make was the performance of some signal military or naval service; and his reason was this, that in the event of any very distinguished service—such, for instance, 1194 as that lately performed, so much to his honour and the country's service, by Lord Napier of Magdala—it ought to be promptly recognized; and he would further add the words "such acts to be specified in the patent." To avoid ambiguity he proposed to make certain verbal alterations in the Amendment as it stood on the Paper.
An Amendment moved at the end of Clause 1, to add—
("Provided always, that after one such peerage shall have been created in any one year no other such peerage shall be created in the same year, unless the person to whom the same is granted shall at the date of the patent be a Minister of State holding a Cabinet office, or shall have performed some signal military or naval service in the course of the twelve months preceding, such service being named in the patent. Provided also that no more than two such peerages be created in any one year.")—(The Earl Stanhope.)
§ EARL RUSSELL
said, he should oppose the Amendment. He was as anxious as any one of their Lordships could be to preserve the hereditary character of the House of Lords, but he denied that the addition of twenty-eight life Peers, by annual creations not exceeding four in any year, would in any degree prejudicially affect that character. Under any circumstances the propertied and landed interests were certain to be preponderating influences in that House, but it was much to be desired that there should be admitted into their ranks the individuals distinguished in various pursuits of life, as in the arts and sciences—men like Watt, the inventor of the steam engine, Dr. Jenner, Adam Smith, and Sir Joshua [Reynolds. Men like those would be ornaments to any Legislative Assembly; they would add greatly to the value of debates bearing on subjects with which they were well acquainted. It was right, he considered, that where a distinguished man, whatever his pursuit in life, felt that an hereditary peerage would be too expensive and burdensome an honour for him to accept, he should have the alter-native of a life peerage within his reach. The Amendment of the noble Earl, how-ever, would, to a certain extent, defeat the object of procuring the admission of such men into the House of Lords, as it would restrict in a great measure the creation of life peerages to the cases of Cabinet Ministers and individuals distinguished in the naval and military services of the country.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
said, he regretted that anything he had said 1195 should have proved disagreeable to any of their Lordships—what he meant to say was that no good discussion could arise here unless some combative elements were present, and he hoped that he had clone his little possible to supply that want. Then he gathered that his use of the word "representative" on a former occasion had been objected to. Now, he had never dreamt of making this House in any sense elective, and he denied that the word "representative" had any actual connection with election. All he meant was that this House, conformably with its origin and intention, should be strictly "representative" of every strong element in the community, and if, owing to change of circumstances, it had receded from that position, their first care should be to restore it. For that reason he approved of this Bill—though, he was not sanguine enough to suppose that it would have any great or immediate effect on the character of the House. He should look with apprehension upon any great revolution, believing that all change to be wholesome must be gradual. But it was because there were symptoms that the House was not now in all points in its constitution in accord with the constitution of English society that he thought some such measure as this would be salutary. He must repeat, however, his objection to the kind of change which the noble Earl (Earl Stanhope) had just shadowed forth. He did not, for instance, believe that Sir Joshua Reynolds would have made a good Member of this House—in the first place, because Sir Joshua was as deaf as a post, and in the next place, because he knew nothing of the subjects which this House was called upon to discuss. The first qualification of a man called upon to do a political duty was that he should have a competent knowledge of political affairs. Now, he could not renounce the wish that there was a larger element in this House of that for which he could find, no equivalent English word, but which foreigners termed the industriel element. By "industrial" he did not mean our friend the working man—he meant that those classes who were chiefly concerned in the production of our national wealth should have a larger infusion here than they had at present. But a just criticism had been made on this observation by a noble Lord, who said it would be far better that such 1196 men should be added by the Prerogative of the Crown to the Rolls of the hereditary Peerage. He believed that the history of this country would have been different if the Prerogative of the Crown had been more largely exercised in that direction. However that was a point outside the present discussion. In his opinion, such a change as was now proposed would, in some degree, render this House less sensitive to changes of another character; and a greater elasticity in the composition of the House would add to its strength and insure its permanence. As to the number of life Peers who were to be created, his objection to the measure of the noble Earl (Earl Russell) was not constitutional but arithmetical. The noble Earl proposed that four Peers should be added every year till the number reached twenty-eight. The result would be that Mr. Gladstone, during his term of Office, would be able to recommend four a year; while his successors would probably have the appointment of only one or two a year—because the life tables would show that, in order that there should be a complete change once in every seven years, men must be created who were over the age of seventy. Now, if men over the age of seventy were to be made life Peers, with all respect to their Lordships who had attained that age, he did not believe that it would add much to the strength of the House. [The Earl of DERBY: Why do you say that?] That was a crushing question from the noble Earl, who was naturally indignant at the remark; but he commended it, at all events, to the consideration of the younger Members of the House. He approved the number twenty-eight; but then the number of yearly creations ought to be in some kind of correspondence with it. He suggested that the number should be two a year; and as to the Amendment of his noble Friend (Earl Stanhope) he suggested that service in a civil capacity as well as in the navy and army, should qualify for the second peerage. He had heard with the greatest pleasure the powerful speech of the noble and learned Lord (Lord Penzance), who had addressed the House for the first time; but the scheme he had proposed was of too bureaucratic a character. It would give a peculiar title to one particular class of men—no doubt very able and eminent, and in every way qualified for political duties—but men 1197 whose power in this country was always regarded with peculiar jealousy. There was another point worth consideration. This scheme, if adopted, must go to the House of Commons; but it really seemed designed for the special purpose of excluding Members of the House of Commons from life peerages. Members of that House had seldom served for five years with distinction in the Civil Service, and the result would be almost co nomine to disqualify Members of the other House for life peerages. That certainly would not recommend the Bill there. He believed that the proposal to create life Peers received general assent in this House, and it commanded the assent of educated society out-of-doors. But there was one class whose assent had not been secured—namely, the persons who were to be made life Peers. Now it would be rather awkward if, after taking much trouble in the creation of life Peers, nobody could be found to take life peerages. The object they had in view would certainly run the danger of being defeated if four creations were to take place yearly. The Minister might find himself unable to resist the pressure that would be put upon him to make these creations, although he might not be able to select four persons really deserving of the honour; and the consequence would be that the first creations would be discredited, and eminent men would afterwards be unwilling to accept them. In these matters there was good ground for proceeding with caution and care; and if now, upon the first trial of the experiment, they were to limit the number of annual creations to two there would be no difficulty in subsequently increasing the number, if experience led them, to think that it would be desirable to do so.
§ VISCOUNT HALIFAX
said, he entirely agreed with the observations of the noble and learned Lord opposite (Lord Cairns), that it was not the intention of any noble Lord who had taken part in this debate to alter the general hereditary character of this House; but it was equally impossible to suppose for a moment that the House of Lords could by any process be turned, in any sense of the word, into a representative assembly. No doubt, consisting as that House did almost entirely of landowners, it was natural that they should take an almost identical view 1198 of all questions which came before them; and he sincerely believed that it would add to the strength of that House if they were to receive into their body those who would bring with them a more extensive knowledge of the views and feelings of the great mass of the people. There had been a time, no doubt, when the House of Lords represented the great interests of the country, when the holders of land were the predominant class; but the effect of the great changes in late years in the constitution, of the increase of the wealth and knowledge of other classes, and of the increase in the constituencies, had been to render the Lower House of Parliament far more than in former years the complete representative of the great body of the people. Under these circumstances it was essential— not that that House of Lords should become a representative body, but that they should contain a larger proportion of persons who are better acquainted with the opinions and views of the great mass of the people in the government of whom they were called upon to take a part. If they were to act in harmony with the House of Commons, and with the people at large they must take into their body those who had a knowledge of those views and opinions— men who from their various and different experience could give a practical characte to their debates, and perhaps throw new light upon the subjects under discussion. Under these circumstances he did not think that the principle of the Bill could be objected to. The noble Earl opposite (the Earl of Carnarvon) had laid certain figures before the House for the purpose of showing what would be the future position of the House in the event of the Bill being carried. He had himself made a calculation of the increase likely to be made in the numbers of their Lordships' House by the creation of life peerages, basing his calculations upon the results of the twenty years ending in 1685. During that period forty Peers had been added to their Lordships' House, and their Lordships would doubtless be surprised to hear that the result was that their total number was by that addition only increased by one— the number of English Peers in 1846 was 375, and in 1866 it was 376. That addition had been precisely at the rate of two per annum, the number contemplated by the Bill. During the period 1199 to which he referred no less than sixteen of the new Peers had died. Of the forty, eighteen possessed the qualifications which the noble and learned Lord opposite desired should be possessed by those upon whom life peerages were to be conferred, and of those nine had died within the twenty years. The result was that only one-half of the persons who might, under the provisions of the Bill, have been created life Peers, were now within their House; and, therefore, it might safely be assumed that under the provisions of the Bill there would be an addition of only twenty to the number of their Lordships' House in consequence of the creation of forty life Peers in twenty years. It was therefore obvious that the creation of any smaller number of life Peers than was contemplated by the Bill would fail to fulfil the purpose they had in view of importing into that House a knowledge of the views and opinions of the great mass of the people. It should be their object to call up from the Lower House men of weight and experience. He would refrain from referring to many persons whose names would at once occur to their Lordships as being eminently qualified for having life peerages conferred upon them. He might, however, allude to one who had formerly been a distinguished Member of thy Lower House, whose exertions, though not in the earlier portion of his career appreciated by their Lordships, had resulted in great advantages to the community at large, as was now fully admitted by many who had been long opposed to him, and whose presence would have been a great acquisition in that House. He referred to Mr. Cobden, upon whom a life peerage might have been most advantageously conferred. He should vote for the measure as it stood, free from the restrictions with which it was sought to hamper it, because he regarded it as calculated to strengthen their Lordships' House, and to render it better fitted to discharge its functions as one branch of the Legislature of a country possessing a Constitutional Government.
§ THE EARL OF HARROWBY
said, that anybody who had merely listened to the debate for the last hour or two, would conceive a very false idea of the nature of the Bill. The question was not, as was suggested, the giving of special representation to the commercial 1200 or industrial interests. He did not believe that, upon the terms proposed, representatives of those interests would be willing, in any large number, to accept seats in that House, for they would come in upon a different footing from those among whom they sat, and accordingly would feel the position more, or less, a position of degradation. He would be glad to see the House of Lords strengthened by valuable additions from those classes, but it should be upon a perfectly equal footing. Those alone who could be admitted with advantage as the holders of life peerages were those whose intellectual superiority placed them, in spite of moderate means, upon complete equality with others enjoying the highest social advantages. But it would be quite another thing if men from the industrial classes, having attained no celebrity in any branch of the public service, and with only their wealth and successful industry to recommend them, were chosen for admission as life Peers. Wealth and industry had merits of their own, but not such as should claim for them the distinction of such a peerage; and he did not think that the great commercial men of the country would accept the description of peerages now proposed. When members of the commercial interests were admitted to the House, they should be admitted on equal terms with those who now had seats there. He thought they ought to be very cautious how they introduced men who would feel that they held their position by a different tenure from that, upon which the majority held their honours. It would always be, to some extent, a delicate matter to induce men to accept life peerages at all, and if persons without the lustre of personal services did accept the inferior position, they would always be aiming to get the peerage for life extended, as a condition of service to the Minister of the day. The true light in which to look upon these creations was, that they should only be made when it was for the advantage of the House of Lords—when the House would gain by their admission—and without any reference to the advantage of the individual. As to the proposition of the Bill itself, he thought that two creations a year would fail to effect the contemplated purpose.
§ LORD LYVEDEN
thought it impossible to carry out the Amendments. The 1201 wording of one of them, if adopted, might work great practical injustice. Take, for instance, the cases of Lord Napier of Magdala and the noble Lord the ex-Governor General of India, both men whom their Lordships and everybody else would admit to be well qualified for the highest honours, and both created Peers about the same time. Under the provisions now proposed, it would have been impossible to create Lord Lawrence a life Peer, for he had neither held Office in the Cabinet, nor performed any signal military or naval service. Their Lordships, he believed, were very generally disposed to concur in the principle of life peerages, but the real difficulty lay in the wording of the restrictions. If the privilege were rendered too narrow it would be valueless; and he was disposed to believe that the best course was to leave the exercise of the power of creation to be controlled by public opinion and the watchfulness of party. If it were enacted that a definite number of life peerages should be created each year, all the friends of a Minister would gather round him and say—"You have not yet completed your number; put my name down for a peerage." That, of course, was upon the assumption that, life peerages became a popular institution. He was disposed, however, to believe that one of the main attractions of a title lay in the power of transmitting it to a man's children. Some worn-out politicians in the House of Commons, who had played for high stakes, and did not like altogether to be out of the game, might be contented with a life peerage, but the great majority of persons he believed would not. His noble and learned Friend (Lord Penzance), with a view of showing the difficulty of prescribing limitations, had asked what was to be the test of "eminent merits," and who was to be the judge of "signal public services." One illustration had been given already: let him give another. Suppose that a Gentleman, whose name was very prominently before the country —Mr. Bright—were offered a life peerage. The Government of the day and their supporters would, of course, declare him to be signally worthy of such a favour. Noble Lords on the other side would doubtless hold that his public services were not of a character entitling him to so distinguished a reward. Who was to decide? Again, the qualification of 1202 having held a Cabinet Office was not, he thought, sufficient, for he should be sorry to say that every one who had filled a Cabinet Office was an eminent man. A real and effectual limitation upon the peerages to be created under the Bill would be that of number. The number twenty-eight was probably rather fantastical; but some number ought to be fixed upon and steadfastly adhered to.
§ EARL GRANVILLE
desired to say a few words in answer to the appeal made to him by the noble Marquess (the Marquess of Salisbury). He had so often spoken upon this subject in favour of the general principle that he did not feel that there was any necessity on the present occasion for him to do so again. He did not, however, take so large a view of the present measure as some noble Lords were disposed to do; he merely perceived in it a means of strengthening the House by introducing to its debates persons possessing special information and experience. Allusion had been made to the peerages and pensions conferred, under existing arrangements, for distinguished military and naval services. No doubt a grateful nation was ready from time to time to confer those rewards as acknowledgments of brilliant victories; but when the individual died the public too often were apt to forgot his deeds and to grudge to his son the continued payment. The noble Marquess asked him whether, before the Bill passed, it would not be prudent to ascertain who were the distinguished individuals likely to accept life peerages. He really could not undertake to go as far as the Bar of their Lordships' House to make inquiry on that subject, but he was inclined to take a totally different view from that held by the noble Marquess, believing that if the Bill passed there would be no want of eminent candidates, and that many men would be willing to follow the example of that eminent Judge, Lord Wensleydale. The noble Marquess had also spoken of the advantage of introducing more of the "combative element" into the House. He (Earl Granville) admitted that that might be an advantage; and he might add that the combative element had been introduced into the House by the noble Marquess, but in a way which excited no bitter feeling on either side of the House. The combative element, however, was absent at 1203 the critical moment, for the courage of the noble Marquess failed him as to moving the Amendment which he had himself suggested. The view which he (Earl Granville) took of this Bill was that if it were amended and sent down to the other House in the shape proposed by his noble and learned Friend opposite—that was to say, as a proposal to add one life Poor a year to their Lordships' House, clogged with all these petty restrictions on the Prerogative of the Crown—the result, he feared, would be to cover their Lordships' House with great and not altogether undeserved ridicule. There seemed to be a strong feeling among their Lordships that four was too large a number, and he should be happy if his noble Friend (Earl Russell) adopted the suggestion of the noble Marquess to limit the number to two, without any other limit, specification, or category. If his noble Friend thought that the feeling of the House was that his number was too large, and would limit it to two a year, such a number would not affect the hereditary character of the Peerage.
thought that four in a year were too many, but if his noble Friend would confine the number to two he would vote with him. Whatever number might be fixed upon, they ought to have some provision to meet the case of a new Government when the preceding Government had filled up the number.
§ EARL RUSSELL
said, that if the number were to be limited to two a year it would perhaps be unnecessary to restrict the total number to twenty-eight. If there were a disposition on the part of the House to consent to two a year he would waive his own opinion.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
appealed to his noble Friend (Earl Stanhope) whether he would not accept the offer and withdraw his Amendment.
§ LORD CAIRNS
said, the difficulty might be settled by giving power to nominate two Peers per annum and to limit the total number to twenty-eight. It would be necessary, however, to provide for the case of a new Government, and if that were not assented to he hoped his noble Friend would divide the House.
§ LORD CHELMSFORD
wished to know what the noble Earl (Earl Russell) proposed to do in regard to the number of twenty-eight.
said, he must reserve to himself the power of proposing any Amendment hereafter to meet the case of a new Government.
§ EARL STANHOPE
said, that in the proposal he made he was desirous to show no jealousy as to the introduction of life Peers, and a jealousy only as to the power of the Crown if the number of life Peers to be created in each year were very large, or left wholly undefined. The noble Earl (Earl Russell) as he understood, was willing if he relinquished his Amendment to adopt the number of two instead of four. Did he also understand that he would accept the limit of twenty-eight? If so, he believed that he should best consult the feeling of the House by not pressing his Amendment.
§ EARL RUSSELL
said, that as it appeared to be the general feeling of the House that the limit of twenty-eight should be retained, he agreed to the suggestion.
§ Amendment, by leave of the Committee, withdrawn.
§ Then clause amended by leaving out ("four") and inserting ("two") and agreed to.
§ Other Amendments made.
§ Preamble agreed to.
§ The Report of the Amendments to be received on Monday next; and Bill to be printed as amended. (No. 113.)
§ House adjourned at half past Eight o'clock, till To-morrow, half-past Ten o'clock.