§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I want to ask the noble and learned Lord on the Woolsack how a certain Joint Committee which he proposed is faring. It is the Committee which is to consider the question of drafting Bills in the matter of reference. I gather that the House of Commons does not differ from us in the opinion that a Joint Committee is desirable; but that one of those mysterious obstacles which occasionally arrest the business of that House has prevented the matter from going further. Does the noble Lord think that the matter is likely to go further? If not, I would ask him whether he does not think it would be more satisfactory for us to have a Committee of this House only because the business to be done will be probably confined to this House—that is to say, any corrections introduced for the purpose of mitigating the evil of reference will probably be introduced in the second House in which the Bill passes, and that will generally be the House of Lords. The whole of the work, therefore, in any system which may be adopted for the purpose of curing or diminishing this evil 337 will fall to us. I do not deny that a Joint Committee would be better, and would present more prospect of an ultimate remedy; but if a Joint Committee is impossible it would be better to have a Committee of this House.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
As to the situation in the other House, my information is, like that of the noble Marquess, solely derived from the newspapers. As I understand the position is this:—Objection is taken to the constitution of the Committee in any other than the mode in which Committees generally are constituted—namely, with reference to the preponderance of political opinion. It is suggested that this Committee should be constituted differently. In order to obtain the services on the Committee of a certain individual, the ordinary rule has been departed from. But for that the House of Commons Members of the Joint Committee would already have been appointed. If I gather from the newspapers aright, the Member of the other House who has urged this departure from the ordinary practice, and whose urgency delays the appointment of the Committee, is a close ally of the noble Marquess, over whom the noble Marquess might have influence. But I could have no influence with him. If that influence were exercised, the House of Commons Members might be appointed, and the Committee might meet after Whitsuntide. If we cannot obtain a Joint Committee we must, of course, proceed with a Committee of our own House.