HL Deb 02 December 1920 vol 42 cc911-3

My Lords, the three Motions which stand in my name refer to the same subject, and in view of the important debate which you are shortly going to resume I do not propose to explain this matter at length, unless any member of the House desires that I should do so.

In a few sentences I may say that the point is this. It is a matter which I have had the opportunity of discussing with my noble and learned friend on the Woolsack, and which follows from discussions that I had with his predecessor, my noble and learned friend Lord Buckmaster. The object is to make it possible for the Committee for Privileges to sit elsewhere than in your Lordships' House while your Lordships' House may be sitting judicially or for some other purpose. I confess that when the idea was originally discussed some years ago I hesitated very much about it, mainly because I regarded, and all of us regarded, the Committee for Privileges as a Committee of the Whole House. Subsequent investigation convinced me, and others, that this is an incorrect view. The Committee for Privileges is not a Committee of the Whole House, although there was one occasion, and one only, when the House did resolve itself into a Committee for Privileges. With the wealth of legal talent available—to form a quorum of this Committee it is necessary that there should be three Law Lords present—obviously it would be desirable that the Committee for Privileges should be able to sit when the House was also sitting judicially, provided Law Lords are available for the purpose, in order to get through the business. At the same time you will notice that I propose in no way to make any diminution in the importance of the sittings of the Committee for Privileges by identifying them in any way less with the proceedings in this House. It will be arranged that the proceedings shall be recorded in the Journal as hitherto, and it will only sit as a Committee for Privileges elsewhere than in the House with the leave of the House. That, I think, secures thestatusof the Committee for Privileges, and therefore I beg to make the first Motion which stands in my name.

Moved, That the Sessional Order of the 10th February last appointing the Committee for Privileges be amended by leaving out the words "in the House of Peers." —(The Chairman of Committees.)


My Lords, may I say one word in sincere welcome of this proposal? I hope the House will not think that the wealth of judicial talent is superfluous. It is only just sufficient to meet the demands that are made upon it, but it is obviously of the utmost consequence that we should be able to economise all our forces as far as we possibly can and use them at any given moment in the place where they are most needed. That is the object of this Motion, and I sincerely hope that your Lordships will agree to it.


My Lords, I will only add one word upon the subject, and it is to inform your Lordships that I am satisfied, and the Lord Chairman is satisfied, that the Committee for Privileges, as one examines into its origin and history, ought not to be considered a Committee of the Whole House, and I wish very much to insist on the enormous economy of judicial time which will result from the acceptance of this Motion. It is impossible, unless the Motion is accepted, to constitute a Committee for Privileges without very much impairing the work that this House on its judicial side performs, and the work done by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, which, as your Lordships know, sits in two divisions. This Motion does not in any way affect the prestige of the Committee for Privileges, while I am certain it will result in a very great economy of legal time.

On Question, Motion agreed to.