HL Deb 21 March 1928 vol 70 cc552-68

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, in asking your Lordships to give a Second Reading to this Bill I should like to say in a very few words why this change in the Constitution of British Guiana is necessary. British Guiana is an important Colony, of the size of Great Britain, with a population of 300,000 inhabitants, a population which has not risen notwithstanding the fact that there have been over 350,000 migrants to that country. It comprises a strip of highly cultivated, very rich land on the coast, a swampy area which is in places of potential value, and great tracts of forests of a really valuable character. Those forests contain practically the remaining stronghold of the green heart wood, which, as you know, is used for every possible purpose which wood is used for, and in view of the increasing shortage of hardwood timber in America, brought about not only by practically uncontrolled felling but also by the devastation of a certain disease which has almost entirely ruined the whole of the hardwood trees of North America, hardwoods are becoming more and more important. It is also the centre of the balata industry, and diamonds are a new but an increasingly important source of wealth. There is also very important water power in the Colony, and I believe it is true to say that the highest waterfall in the world exists in the up-country districts.

The potential riches of this Colony are enormous, but development has been slower there than probably in any other Colony in the British Empire. One of the reasons, probably the most important reason, is to be found in the Constitution which has been in existence there since we took over the land from the Dutch in 1803. Immediately after the War, or very shortly after the War, when a very well-known and successful Governor, Sir Graeme Thomson, went out to rule there, he started reforms which ranged from the establishment of a scientific and technical survey for the Forestry Department to re-organising the sewage system of the capital. But he found that it was not possible to proceed on account of the fact that while the Court of Policy could control the policy the Combined Court had absolute power. He therefore wrote home in 1925, with the full consent and concurrence of his Executive Council, that he was entirely convinced—I am quoting his words— that no real progress can be achieved until the Government is provided with an official majority in order that it may no longer be within the power of a small minority, in no sense popularly representative or alive to the interests of the population as a whole, to control the execution of essential measures, whether of policy or finance. These are very strong words. Action was not immediately taken, as Sir Graeme Thomson was about to move to a more important post in Africa, but after Sir Cecil Hunter Rodwell, also a very efficient Governor, who succeeded him, had reported on practically the same lines in 1926, it was decided to send out a Parliamentary Commission, composed of Mr. Roy Wilson, a Conservative member, and Mr. Snell, a representative of Labour, to report on the conditions there.

Their ambit was a very wide one, and the Report that they made, as presented to the House in April, 1927, was very interesting. I need only, perhaps, give the final recommendations. They say:— It appears to us essential, as well on the ground of immediate financial exigencies as on that of future development, that the authorities finally responsible for the solvency and good government of the Colony should have power in the last resort to carry into effect measure which they consider essential for its well-being. Reference is there made to questions of finance which had become, since the War, more and more important. During eight years there was only one year in which the Revenue met the Expenditure. The Colony was steadily going downhill. The fact that the Combined Court controlled finance made it impossible to borrow on reasonable terms, and at the end of eight years the Colony was something like£680,000 worse off than it had been at the beginning of that period.

One of the recommendations of the Parliamentary Commission was that a local Committee should be formed to make certain recommendations on the subject of the Constitution. That Committee met and reported. It included in its number three unofficial members, two of whom were elected members, and it advised that a single Legislature should be appointed, the Legislative Council, that the number of elective members should remain the same (that is to say fourteen) and that the official side should comprise two ex officio members, certain appointed official members, and certain nominated unofficial members, thereby giving in a sense a majority to the official side. I say "in a sense" because, as has been stated by Mr. Amery to a recent delegation and as has been pointed out also in another place, the unofficial nominated members are free to vote in whatever way they choose. It was further recommended that certain reserved powers should be given to the Governor, so that in case of a deadlock he would be able, on really important matters, to carry on the Government of the country. This arrangement is, of course, similar to that which exists in the majority of the Colonies.

In bringing forward this Motion to your Lordships to-day I may be asked why this plan is not effected by an ordinary Order in Council rather than by a decision of the Houses of Parliament. The Act which is suggested is an enabling Act to give the Crown by Order in Council power to deal with matters affecting taxation. The Crown by Order in Council has always had a right, which has been frequently exercised—as in the matter of the abolition of slavery, and in many other instances—of dealing actually with matters affecting questions other than taxation, but the Capitulation of 1803 agreed that the method of taxation then in use should be adhered to, and it is the opinion that it would not be right to alter the Constitution, in so far as it will be altered by the abolition of the Combined Court, which is the sole authority for taxation, without taking definite powers from Parliament.

While one can say, I think, that, except perhaps for a few interested parties, all those who have investigated this question are agreed that a reform of the Constitution of British Guiana is necessary, there have naturally been criticisms as to actual detail, and with your Lordships' permission I will deal with one or two of the objections that have been most frequently made. Before I do so I should like to remind the House that we have had the opinion of so distinguished a man as Lord Irwin—though his scheme was a little different from that which is now before your Lordships—that reform is essential, and, as I have already quoted, we have the same view expressed by very distinguished Governors, possibly as able as any that we possess, and we have also the Report of the Parliamentary Commission and that of the local Committee, including, as I say, unofficial members and elective members, all reporting on the same lines. The powers that are to be taken will follow the exact lines of that Committee's Report.

The criticisms that are levelled against this action may be readily summed up. There is first the general criticism that we are putting back the clock and making a Legislative Council less representative of the popular vote than it had been in the past. The only answer to that is that you have had, with the existing method, one hundred years of stagnation, and that it will be a dear price to pay for the education of the voters if you have another hundred years of a similar state of things. I do not think that this can be better put than it was put by Mr. Snell in another place and, with your Lordships' permission, I should like to read a few sentences from his speech. He says:— There is no key problem which unlocks all the rest. The problems of the Colony are so interlocked that the question has to be looked at as a whole. After commenting to the effect that all interests are agreed that a change has to be made, he goes on to say:— What we have to consider is not a change that would conform to our ultimate political ideals, but a change that would help us to overcome pressing difficulties at the present time. Another criticism that is made is that it is not right that there should be reserved power on the part of the Governor and that at the same time he should have an official majority. I submit that it is not really an official majority, as I have already stated that the nominated unofficial members will have a right to vote as they think fit. Of the Council of twenty-nine, two will be ex-officio, eight will be nominated officials, five nominated unofficials, and fourteen elected, making a possible adverse vote of nineteen, as opposed to ten.

Another criticism which has been made is that it gives too much power to the Governor, but it is the intention that the Governor will, in using his reserved powers, only use them in council. There have been criticisms made also about leaving the franchise as it is at present. That is considered advisable at the present time, and is the advice given by the Committee on the spot. As your Lordships will see from the Bill, powers are reserved to alter the Constitution, and indeed it is not necessary in this instance to have those powers, because they do not affect questions of finance. In view of what I have put before you, and in view of the unanimous opinion that a change of Constitution is desirable, I hope your Lordships will give this Bill a Second Reading. Mr. Clementi, before he left for Hong Kong, and when he was a lesser official in British Guiana—at the present moment he occupies a high place—said he considered that the Constitution of British Guiana was the worst in the world, not excluding China, and therefore I think we may hope that any change made in British Guiana will be all for the good of the country, which has great possibilities and is greatly hampered by the Constitution which it at present enjoys.

Moved, That the Bill be now read 2a.—(Lord Lovat.)


My Lords, I do not rise to offer any opinion on the substance of the changes that are made by this Bill, but there is a question which I want to put to the noble Lord. The new Constitution which is to be set, up by Order in Council is a Constitution which supersedes an older Constitution, also I presume set up by Order in Council at the beginning of the nineteenth century, and the assumption on which the Colonial Office appear to have proceeded is that it is possible, and the law permits, a change of this kind, superseding an existing Constitution granted by the Crown, to be made by an Order in Council without an Act of the Legislature.

It is possible that the Constitution of British Guiana, as it stands now, is of such a subordinate kind that it may be legitimate to proceed in this way, and I do not doubt that the attention of the Colonial Office in some shape or form must have been called to this question, that if there is a substantial Constitution, which has been granted by the Crown, once it is granted then according to the law of this country you cannot supersede it without a Statute. That was laid down 150 years ago by Lord Mansfield in Campbell versus Hall, and I am afraid that the Colonial Office have taken rather an easy view of that decision. What I want to know from the noble Lord is whether the Colonial Office have considered this question—whether this Constitution comes within the principle laid down in Campbell versus Hall, and whether it is competent to proceed as this Bill proposes, by Order in Council. That is all I am anxious about at present. I wish to be assured that this question has been sufficiently considered—and it has not always been sufficiently considered by the Colonial Office in its legislation—for if it should turn out that there has been a mistake then everything which is done now will be void and of no effect it law.


My Lords, I am very glad to have heard the words which have fallen from my noble Leader, because it shows that he has taken note of a constitutional legal question which did not appear to my more humble intelligence. I will not pursue this question. I will only say that it does seem a rather curious position that whereas we say the King cannot by Order in Council alter a Constitution, because he or his predecessors gave their word to certain slave dealers some 120 years ago, and he may not break his word, yet Parliament may compel him to do so, or may enable him to do so. My Party in the other House naturally regarded this Bill with considerable suspicion on some of the grounds which have been indicated and traversed by Lord Lovat.

The noble Lord has given you practical reasons why, whether this was an ancient Constitution or not, it is in the interest of the Colony itself the changes should be made. I have had very long experience of West Indian affairs, and of the Constitution of British Guiana. I have been out to various Colonies where constitutional crises have occurred owing to differences of opinion between the Governor and the elected members. I have been out there with a view of carrying on the business of the Government. I have had to face the empty benches of elected members, and to face benches of temperamentally excited members, and I have continually taken a particular interest in these West Indian constitutional questions, in the belief that these Constitutions must be progressively democratised, and the people brought into control of their own affairs, on the lines which the Colonial Office is steadily pursuing at the present time.

As regards British Guiana, it was always my experience that its Constitution was the worst in the world, and, whether on account of the climate and the geographical conditions of the country or owing to the operation of its Constitution, I am bound to say that its elected representatives were about the most difficult people in the West Indies to get on with. I think that may have been partly on account of the depressing circumstances of the coastline of Demerara on which they live, deprived of normal excitements, and also, I think, because of the very tempting opportunity which such an extraordinary Constitution gives to the financial representatives to make trouble. It is an almost impossible Constitution. You have a deliberative body which has to decide the policy of the country and say what it is desirable to do. In this country you would say: "Very well, it has been decided what is desirable to be done, we will vote the money for it, and take the responsibility." Not at all. A number of other gentlemen, called the financial representatives—representing, as it were, the Ratepayers' Association, the Income-Tax payers' Association, and other bodies in this country—are put into Parliament, and their duty is to oppose and cut down the financial schemes of the Government, without any participation of a responsible character in the Government, and without any part in the debates that decide policy and legislation.

A Constitution of that kind is a temptation to those persons who are elected as financial representatives to make difficulties, and they have continually made difficulties, no doubt from their point of view in a most conscientious manner, the results of which are patent from year to year and from generation to generation in the stagnation of the Colony of Demerara, aggravated, no doubt, by financial difficulties and by the great burdens that have been laid on the Colony. Every practical man who has had contact with that Constitution says it is a bad Constitution and ought to be improved, and that we must get over the small sentiment against such improvement—a sentiment which I myself do not Share. I do not share it because this was a Constitution granted by the Capitulation to a body of Dutch planters. They were not a democratic body. I have no sympathy with Constitutions granted to plantocracies, nor has the Colonial Office hesitated to alter those Constitutions and to introduce a greater measure of popular control, or Colonial Office control. I do not think the fact that a Constitution was granted 125 years ago should weigh with us in the slightest degree, and I am glad to see that the local Commission have not been actuated by that feeling.

With regard to the contents of the Bill, I want to say that I agree entirely that it is desirable to alter the Constitution, and we shall consider sympathetically, subject to the legal point which the noble and learned Viscount beside me has raised, any Order in Council which is laid on the Table of the House—we shall consider it sympathetically and critically as regards the constitution of the Council. But the second point which arises in this Bill is that … any such Order in Council may provide that, notwithstanding the powers conferred on the Legislature thereby, there shall be reserved to or conferred on His Majesty full power by Order in Council from time to time to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Colony of British Guiana. That is to say, after you have established your Legislature, the composition of which I am going to discuss presently, you want to have a quite independent power to pass laws for the Colony by Order in Council. That is an addition to the powers of the Crown to which I should like to call the attention of my noble and learned friend. You are not only setting up a Constitution, and putting into the Order in Council what you consider sufficient safeguard, but you are also taking power, in addition to that, to give the go-by entirely to your Legislative Council, and to make laws for the Colony in Downing Street.

Surely that is an unnecessary provision. Surely you should have waited to see whether the new Constitution, put forward with so much trouble and with such sanguine expectations by His Majesty's Government, does or does not work satisfactorily before you take this extraordinary power of giving the go-by to it altogether, and legislating here, drawing up laws and sending them out to British Guiana, and saying: "This is the law which we have passed by Order in Council in Downing Street for your governors." I will not expatiate on that. It is obvious that there might be all kinds of legislation quite contrary to the wishes and desires of the people of the country and of a very questionable character. But that is a Second Reading point which I wanted to raise.

Now I go back to the real substance of the Bill, which refers to the alteration of the Constitution. We are told that the Constitution is altered to follow the recommendations of the Commission of the local Legislature, which was laid before the House in November last, and the noble Lord gave us some particulars of the recommendations of that Commission. Now, in the first place, I agree with what I think to be the view of the noble Lord opposite. I agree that this is a very liberal Constitution, because he has said perfectly clearly that you are doing away in British Guiana with what has been a scandal for a great part of my official life in other Colonies, where members have been appointed who could not use their own brains. They had to vote as they were told. In more than one Colony in which I have served that was the continual reproach that the nominated members were tonguetied, and simply had to go into the Lobby and vote for the Government. That, I am very glad to see, is waived in this Constitution, and it is waived as Mr. Wood, now Lord Irwin, said it ought to be waived in all future Constitutions. Speaking of the Jamaica Constitution, he said it was in force there. It was not in force very rigidly. The general rule was that if a nominated member felt he could not support the Government then he should resign his seat. But in all Colonies it is a reproach to the official members that they cannot always vote according to their consciences, although as a general rule they do, and I have known cases where an official member who did not wish to vote in what was really a matter of conscience has been excused from voting.

It has always been a very bad system in Colonial Constitutions that you have these worthy men serving on the Councils and subject to the reproach that they were not masters of their own intelligences. You have these fourteen elected members, and five nominated members, and I have constantly found in my own experience in the Colony of Jamaica, British Honduras, and elsewhere, that the elected members were not all united, and the nominated members were not all united. You have on the whole a very fair expression of popular opinion if you have both elected members and a certain number of nominated members, the nominated members being selected generally, in my experience, by intelligent Governors rather in the manner in which representatives of communities may be appointed in India, that is to say, they are appointed to represent certain interests which otherwise might not be represented on the Council. They are not represented as a solid block of planters' representatives or a solid block of commercial representatives: they are honestly selected by Governors as men of good counsel, who are both conversant with the interests of the community and who may be regarded as more or less popular representatives. So that in this new Council of British Guiana I think you will have a very fair representation of what may be called the dominant public opinion.

There is one criticism which I should like to make, and that is that you are retaining so many as eight official members. In the Jamaica Council we had as many as ten official members, and that was a great nuisance. I have sat in that chair week after week, and seen all the heads of my Departments sitting there very bored, and some of them asleep, not liking it at all—I very often wished they would talk—because they felt that the longer they talked the longer the proceedings would last, and they were not doing the work of their Departments. There were too many of them. We wanted four or five, and not a long string of officials to give us official votes. When once you begin to liberalise a Constitution of this sort, and retain the power of the Governor to act on his own responsibility in matters of paramount importance, the shorter you make your string of officials and the Council the better. Consequently, I put it to the Colonial Office for consideration that their string of officials is rather longer than it need be. If they are going to put the dominant office in the hands of other officials, elected and nominated, they do not want a longer string of officials than is necessary for the proceedings of the Council. You want a certain number as director of works and heads of Departments to give information to the Council or to any Committee; but you do not want, as was the case in the old Crown Colonies Constitution, a long string of officials in order to give you a majority. In the older Crown Colonies the longer you made your unofficial side, the longer you had to make your official side, and the thing stretched out to infinity. In those Councils, where there were fourteen or fifteen elected members, the thing became a considerable nuisance, and I think that eight are more than you will find necessary. I put that forward as a point for consideration.

I want now to come rather closer to the character of the new Council. It is to have fourteen elected members. It has been complained, of course, about this new Constitution that it diminishes the electoral power of the people. I have examined the Reports, and I am familiar with the Constitution of British Guiana. In my opinion the power of the elected members under the present conditions, modified as it is by a certain number of nominated members, and limited as it is by the absolute power of the Governor, is quite sufficient for British Guiana in its present position. I should like to quote to your Lordships a few words from Mr. Wood's Report upon his visit to Jamaica. He says this:— What I have seen of the elected members of the Legislative Council of Jamaica, taken as a whole, gives me no reason to doubt the essential sanity of the electorate in their choice of representatives. Speaking generally, the body of elected members appears to be animated by a high sense of public duty and a full consciousness of their responsibilities as a partner in the business of government. Moreover, the share which they take in carrying out their functions establishes a direct link between the Government and the people which is of great value in promoting mutual confidence and general political interest. That, of course, is what I was never tired of trying to impress upon my chiefs at the Colonial Office when they were rather doubtful about the Constitution of Jamaica being too liberal.

The fact is that in a fairly advanced West Indian community like that of Jamaica, where the people are largely settled on the land and are carrying on their own work, where there is a good system of education and a good system of agricultural societies, and where the people take part in their parochial affairs, you get a really good electorate out of the ordinary African negro. The African negro is not carried away by political slogans. He does not vote Liberal because he is a Liberal, or Tory because he is a Tory. He votes according to what he thinks are his own interests, and is a very shrewd and intelligent critic of the people who come and talk to him. Although you may say that the general quality of the elected members of the Jamaican Legislature is not so high as that of members of the House of Commons, yet I have heard some excellent speeches made by those members in that Assembly. You may not think it, but on the whole I have always found as between the two, that the negro electorate in Jamaica has almost always sent back the better men. As I say, your Lordships may not agree with that opinion. But the negro chooses his representative on the ground of character, merit, and ability to do what is wanted.

In Jamaica you have a franchise of the common people which is based on the payment of 10s. in direct taxation with a fairly low qualification for membership. The franchise in British Guiana is not a democratic one at all. The qualification for membership there is an income of £500 per year; whereas in Jamaica it is an income of £200. I find that the qualification for voting in British Guiana is an income of £62 10s. or the payment of £4 3s. 4d. in direct taxation; that is to say, it is a very limited franchise, rightly or wrongly, owing to the lower development of British Guiana. So long as in the West Indies—this has always been our principle—and, I hope, in any part of the Empire, the very bulk of the people are not in the state of prosperity and education which would enable us to say that those people may be given the franchise, so long is it desirable and justifiable to keep greater power in the hands of the Crown as we do in British Guiana and elsewhere. The more you can lower the franchise, the more you can relax your control. The two things go together. Therefore, I say that in my opinion, speaking as a Colonial administrator and as one who has always done his best for, and has always believed in, the democratic progress of the people of the West Indies, this is a great improvement on the previous Constitution of British Guiana, and a very liberal and good working Constitution notwithstanding that it is not a fully democratic one.

I think that British Guiana must be considered as in many respects a backward Colony. If it were not such a backward Colony, if it were as forward in general education and prosperity as Jamaica, for instance, it would already have had what has been given with success in other places—a lower franchise, which would include every negro peasant. But you do not go nearly so low as the qualification in Jamaica. An income of £62 10s. is much more than the income of an ordinary black labourer, who, consequently, does not come in at all. But in this case you are not taking away and destroying an ancient democracy, but merely modifying what is already an oligarchy, and therefore I have much less hesitation in supporting the proposition.

In regard to the use of the Constitution, we do not quite know for what purpose it is to be used. We are told that it is to enable great schemes of development to be carried out. The noble Lord spoke with great sympathy, very naturally, upon the forestry resources of Demerara. Colonial legislators and Colonial electorates are always very glad to have lots of money lent to them for the making of railways, here there and everywhere, and for other purposes of development. They like it because it brings in revenue, and causes money to circulate, and to be paid in wages, and so on. A great deal of money can be thrown away in that manlier. We all know of railway schemes in different places, going through dense forests and across rivers, and so on, and I. hope that in the scheme of development which, I understand, the Colonial Office propose to promote, they will bear very carefully in mind not merely development for the purpose of getting out and exploiting the resources of the Colony from the point of view of British capital and British trade, but from the point of view of settling the people of the Colony upon the land.

At the present time, Demerara, as the noble Lord has said, has a long string of marshy coast line, where the negro population live for the most part in wretched villages, which can only be kept above water by means of pumping. It is a very bad coast for negroes to live on, but it is a tolerable coast for Indians to live on, because they like swamps. They can grow rice on them. But the negro does not like swamps; he prefers forests; and if this land is developed I hope that the noble Lord, being an enthusiastic forester, will favour the policy that we have always pressed upon the Department that forestry should be developed in conjunction with settlement. I hope the noble Lord will take an interest in the development of forests in British Guiana as a means of transferring settlement very largely up to the back of the Savannas and along the rivers, and that ample reserves will be made for negro villages and cultivations. If you do that you will get an increased number coming from Barbadoes and Jamaica and settling in British Guiana. They will come from places which are over-populated and build up a country which both blacks and whites can exploit together. In British Guiana it is impossible to make a satisfactory Colony on the coast-line, for geographical reasons which are well known to the noble Lord, but it is possible to make magnificent forests in the interior if settlement is carried out upon reasonable lines. If the noble Lord has studied the development of British Honduras he will have realised that development should be by settling people on the rivers and the creeks, where they can get good land to cultivate and water to think and have adequate pasturage.

British Guiana is a magnificent country to settle in that manner and I hope the passing of this Constitution will enable that policy to be pursued, if financial reasons do not stand in the way. It is a policy which many British Guiana people themselves have been advocating for years, but they have had difficulties. I trust, however, that this Constitution, which we shall criticise when it is laid before us in the form of an Order, will be employed for a good purpose, not simply for the purpose of making it a country for the exploitation of its forests, minerals, etc., by Englishmen, but an improved place of settlement for West Indian populatious. That is all I have to say on this Bill, but I should like some reply on the constitutional question and some assurance on the other points that I have mentioned. I do not wish to raise any definite opposition to the Bill at this stage.


My Lords, may I in the first place assure the noble Viscount that Lord Mansfield's decision has been considered most carefully in the Dominion Office and that one of the reasons for bringing forward this Bill and making it a definite Act of Parliament is that the authority of an Act of Parliament may be behind the Order in Council? As to the questions raised by the noble Lord, may I assure him that the power of legislative action which is given by Order in Council is not one which there is any wish to exercise? It is power which exists in practically all the Colonies with the exception of the, group with which the noble Lord was himself specially associated. It has been necessary to make use of this power given by Order in Council in times of emergency, such as the late War. We hope that it may not be necessary to make use of it again, but, of course, it may be necessary. Having established a Constitution it is not the intention to override right and left, unless that cannot absolutely be avoided, the properly constituted single Legislative Council.

The second point the noble Lord raised was on the subject of development. I sincerely hope that one of the advantages given by the powers conferred by this Bill will be that it will be possible to have a certain Civil List. That is not possible at the present time. As the noble Lord is no doubt aware an Indian forester who came over from India, having served a year, found his salary was not certain and wished to return to India once more to his own work. If you do not have a regular forest service you obviously cannot have an organised plan for the administration of your forestry service, but once a regular forest service is established, not only is the question of felling timber considered but also the question of re-afforestation. The question of re-afforestation naturally is closely connected with the establishment of a resident population who can carry out that work. As the country is developed I think that this very valuable green heart wood, of which this is now the only known source of supply, and also other important woods, will be looked after in regard to felling and other respects, and also that the devastated areas will be repopulated.

The other two points raised by the noble Lord I will take together. They are the question of the franchise and the question of the numbers on the official and unofficial sides of the Council. I can only say to the noble Lord that these are the recommendations of the local Committee. It was thought better to follow exactly the lines which they had unanimously advised. If you get into the question at the present time of altering the franchise you have a sea of difficulties, such as voter's rights and other questions, some of which, I believe, do not altogether bear inspection. Therefore it was decided, as this was a considerable change, that it had better be made in the way which is easiest and which would cause least friction. I may tell the noble Lord that it was at one time considered that a General Election would take place for the new Constitution, but it was decided, on the representation of the elective members, that that would not be advisable and that idea has been abandoned.

I have the greatest sympathy with the noble Lord, and I am sure everyone representing the Department has sympathy with him on the other point. The time one spends sitting on a bench hearing other people make speeches is time naturally taken away from the administration of the office, and I am sure that these eight representatives on the official side would welcome the cutting down of their numbers and the cutting down of the number who must sit through probably long and weary debates. This, again, was a matter which was advised upon. We were advised that the number of elective members should remain at fourteen and it was thought, therefore, necessary to keep the official side at eight. I think I have dealt with the main points raised by the noble Lord who will have another opportunity on the Committee stage of raising any other points.

On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.