§ THE MARQUESS OF LANSDOWNE
My Lords, I beg leave to ask the noble Viscount on the Woolsack whether lie can give your Lordships any further information as to the date on which this House will be asked to deal with the Resolutions for the reform of the House of Lords.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR (VISCOUNT BIRKENHEAD)
My Lords, the noble Marquess has been good enough to inform me of his intention to ask this Question. It is still the hope of the Government, and the belief of the Government, that the noble Marquess who leads the House will be in his place in order to move those Resolutions on the date which has been announced. So recently as the last two days an intimation has been received from the noble Marquess that he hopes that his health will be sufficiently restored to enable him to move these Resolutions on that date.
We have had some considerable misfortunes in the matter, because the Resolutions naturally require, even at this late stage of the discussion, some balancing of considerations, and in the necessary discussions, if there were two members of the Government who would seem to be quite indispensable, they are, in the first place, the noble Marquess who leads this House, who is to move the Resolutions and who has drafted these Resolutions, and my right hon. friend who leads the House of Commons. But we have been placed in this great difficulty at the time when all your Lordships who have experience in this matter are aware that some five or six points, some of primary and some of secondary importance, have been under discussion—that we have been denied on all those occasions the presence of the noble Marquess who leads this House and my right hon. friend who leads the House of Commons.
These deprivations have been of great disadvantage to us; but I am hopeful 207 that it will still be possible for these Resolutions to be moved on that date. If at any moment there should occur a disappointment in the case of the noble Marquess, I shall at once apprise your Lordships, and ask whether it will be your Lordships' wish that they should be moved by somebody else or whether your Lordships will postpone the occasion for two or three days in order that the noble Marquess may be here. The assurance that has been given is that the Resolutions will be moved on that day, and unless your Lordships think fit for two or three days to postpone them, it is the intention of the Government that they shall be moved on that day.
§ The Marquess OF SALISBURY
My Lords, I think the understanding was that the Resolutions should be moved on the day to which the noble and learned Viscount has referred, or within a day or two of that day, if not by my noble friend who leads the House—we should prefer that he moved them—then by another member of the Government. That is what was understood, I think.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
That is so. I do not think that anybody in the House would desire on such a point to be pedantic, and supposing it was discovered on the Monday that the noble Marquess could not be here, but that on the Wednesday he could, I think the House would agree to the postponement.