§ Debate again resumed (according to Order) on the Amendment to the Motion for the Second Reading moved on Tuesday last by Lord Redesdale—namely, That the Bill be read a second time this day six months.
§ LORD BAYFORD
My Lords, perhaps I may be forgiven if I briefly refer to some of the criticisms which have been made in the course of this most interesting debate. Lord Redesdale moved the rejection of the Bill in a speech which, if I may venture to say so, I admired very heartily indeed, and which contained the best panegyric on heredity since the days of Horace. We all admired the strength of his convictions, and still more his courage in proclaiming them in this degenerate age. If I may say so, I take off my hat to him. I want to say a word about two speeches delivered from the Benches opposite to me, those of Lord Snell and Lord Kinnoull. One of their arguments was that to intro- 234 duce this Bill was not playing the game and that we were not behaving like sportsmen. I have heard that said before by the representatives of the Labour Party with regard to other questions. When it is said with regard to this Bill it leaves me absolutely cold. A burglar might just as well say that a man was not a sportsman because he locked up his goods in the safe. I have indulged in much sport in my days, but I do not agree that a man is a poor sportsman because he takes reasonable precautions. I should not call a man a bad sportsman if, before going in to play Larwood, he put on a pair of pads.
Now I come to the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Burleigh. One of the arguments which he used was that it was no use asking in a Bill proceeding from this House for further powers in case of dispute between the two Houses of Parliament. The same argument has been used by other speakers in the course of the debate. I venture to question that. When the noble Marquess was preparing this Bill, I think I am right in saying he did not do so without consulting members of the House of Commons and getting their opinions about what propositions should be put forward. He has been in touch with many members of the House of Commons and I am not entirely out of touch myself with the feelings of members of the House of Commons. It was not so very long ago that I had the honour to belong to that Assembly and I have a great many friends and a great many acquaintances in it. My information is that it is by no means the fact that the House of Commons would not look at the provisions of this Bill.
After all, there is nothing sacrosanct about the Parliament Act. Let me say a word very briefly about its history. A great many of us remember it. We remember how this House rejected Mr. Lloyd George's Budget. Then there was an appeal to the country. The new House of Commons that was returned as a result of that appeal to the country would not have passed the Budget without some inducement. The Conservative and Liberal Parties were practically evenly divided and there was a solid body of Irish members who were not in favour of the Budget unless some inducement was held out to them to support it. The 235 Parliament Bill was the price of Irish support to the Liberal Government of that day. The Bill was passed simply in order to purchase the Irish vote, for Irishmen, unless that Bill had been passed, would not have supported that Budget. It was not so much a great constitutional change as a successful Party manœuvre. There is no reason why we should treat it with greater respect than any other piece of Party legislation.
I turn to the speech of my noble friend Lord Rockley, who dealt with the question of life Peerages and suggested that a solution of our difficulties might be found by adopting a system of that sort. Well, the title of this Bill is drawn on the very widest lines and there is scope within it for dealing with that question, which I know commends itself to a great many men who have carefully studied this question. The noble Viscount, Lord Bridgeman, supported the referendum. So did my noble friend Lord Stonehaven, and so also, from the opposite Benches, did the noble Earl, Lord Listowel. I was very glad to hear it. I have always looked upon the referendum as a possible way out of the difficulties connected with this question, and I have always regretted that more serious consideration has not been given to it in this country. Lord Stonehaven forcefully pointed out that it is working, and working well, in almost all our great Dominions. So much for previous speakers.
I want now to say a few words about the actual provisions of the Bill. The noble Marquess has explained that the object of the measure is to ensure that measures of first-class importance should not become law unless they represent the considered will of the people. I do not think there was eyer more necessity than at the present time for such a Bill. We have a Government in office that is dealing with matters which must be dealt with. The Unemployment Bill is one matter and the Betting and Lotteries Bill is another. They are both measures dealing with subjects which, whatever Government was in power, would have to be tackled, but they are measures the details of which undoubtedly must make enemies. Therefore, when you are dealing with either of those questions you are going to raise a certain amount of opposition in the country. As regards 236 the Betting and Lotteries Bill, I have been surprised, from letters which I have seen from political organisations in the country, at the amount of opposition which that measure will arouse; and whenever an Election comes, it is not so much on the big matters as on these little matters which affect people personally that they are very apt to record their votes. It is quite possible that a Socialist Government may be put into office after the next General Election, not because the electors of the country want to support the nationalisation of the land or of anything else, but because they want to continue dog racing and they think that the present Government has put difficulties in their way.
Now what is the Socialist programme? I do not want to give any fantastic ideas about it. I do not want to refer to the fact that in other countries where a Socialist Government has come in it has passed measures which we should all condemn at the present moment. I do not even want to allude to the speeches of Sir Stafford Cripps. But I think it is generally accepted—it was certainly the statement of the Leader of the Labour Party in the House of Commons—that one of the proposals of a Socialist Government would be the nationalisation of the banks. I believe that most people would dislike that change most sincerely. Such a measure as that is not only a measure which a good many people might dislike, but it is a measure which, if it were put into force, would have immediate effect, and also it is a measure which it would be very difficult to reverse. Once you have got your banks socialised, to put them back upon a footing of private enterprise would be a very difficult matter indeed. Therefore I say that such a measure ought not to be passed by Parliament until the opinion of the country upon it has been thoroughly ascertained. Under our present system that is not ensured. A Socialist Government with a majority might nationalise the banks in two years, and there would be no power whatever to say them nay. Under this Bill it would be possible to hold up the measure until the people of the country had been able to pronounce their opinion upon it.
The Socialists object to that. I am not surprised. Their experience of appeals 237 to the country after even a short term of their legislation has not been altogether encouraging. Their desire, if I may put it shortly, is that the elected representatives of the country, when once elected, should have absolute power, and should be able to pass any measure into law within two years. Of course, that is quite an arguable thesis, but it is not the theory of government which is held, I would venture to point out, by those on whom the Socialist Party rely so very largely for support. It is not the theory of government held by the great trade unions of the country, or at all events by the great majority of them. When they appoint delegates, they do not give those delegates absolute power. When they appoint their delegates to confer about some matter in dispute between working men and employers, they are delegates and delegates only. Before a conclusion can be reached one way or another they have to go back to those who have appointed them and ask for their opinion on any settlement or any break-off at which they arrive. Well, that is all that I am asking for. All I ask is that the Labour Party and their supporters in the government of this country should give the same chance of hesitation, the same chance of referring back to those who sent them, as they apply day after day and year after year to the details of their own business affairs.
The objection which comes from the Party opposite is: "That is all very well, but if it applies to Socialist measures it ought to apply to Conservative measures as well." I quite agree. I do not say that I always fall down and worship every measure which is proposed by a Conservative Government. I have known two or three measures which I should have been glad to have seen submitted for approval or disapproval to the people of the country. I agree with that argument if it is put forward, but I say that if that argument is put forward, then it is up to those who raise it to help us in finding a body to which they are ready to refer these matters so that it can he settled whether or not a referendum should be taken upon them. There have been very great criticisms to the effect that the House of Lords is, and must remain, a sort of appanage of the Tory Party. If that is the reason why noble Lords opposite object to this 238 measure, then let them tell us to what form of Second Chamber they would be ready to give the powers of referring back which I believe to be necessary for the good of the country.
I think that it is especially the duty of the Liberal Party to tell us what is their solution of this question. I do not want to refer to all the old sayings about "debts of honour," and measures that do "not brook delay"; they are all on record and we all know them. If ever a Party was pledged to anything it was the Liberal Party when it was pledged by Mr. Asquith's Government to deal with this question. I dare say that there are good reasons why it has not been possible to fulfil that pledge, but I think that the least that the Liberal Party can do in dealing with this question is to confide in us and to tell us, for the benefit of the country at large, what was the solution which Mr. Asquith and his friends had in their minds when they made those statements, which we have no reason for a moment to say we do not believe were sincerely meant.
No one knows the difficulties of evolving such a scheme better than I do. I have sat on Committees about it, and I have been engaged in the consideration of the subject for a great many years in conjunction with various people and various authorities. I realise the difficulties which surround the question, and I am quite ready to admit that on this question of the personnel of a reformed House of Lords the Conservative Party itself is not all of one mind; but the members of that Party are almost all of one mind in thinking that the matter ought to be dealt with, and ought to be dealt with speedily. Year after year resolutions have been passed at the Conservative Party Conference. After all, though you may laugh at the Conservative Party Conference, it is appointed on absolutely democratic lines and it does represent the feelings of a Party which at the last General Election polled more than half the voters of the country. Therefore you cannot entirely ignore resolutions which they pass year after year. The last one which they passed was:That the reform of the Second Chamber is a vital necessity and should be carried out without delay.I hope that noble Lords who belong to the Conservative Party will bear that in mind when they are considering this Bill. 239 After all, this Bill is merely an affirmation of principle. If you look at the title you see that it is drawn on the very widest lines, and in considering the Motion for the Second Reading I hope noble Lords will realise that if it is not carried, and carried in this House by a large majority, it will cause the very greatest disappointment to a large body of Conservatives in the country.
§ LORD ARNOLD
My Lords, owing to the shortness of time I must refrain from replying in any detail to the noble Lord who has just spoken, although the temptation to do so is great. He did not say very much about the Bill which is before the House, or about the provisions of the Bill, but I gather that he is fully in favour of the measure. If that is so, he is in a distinct minority of the speakers who have taken part in this Second Reading debate. If an analysis were made of the speeches delivered in this debate, and in the First Reading debate, it would be found that the number of Peers, apart from the noble Marquess who introduced the Bill, who are whole-heartedly in favour of the Bill, is small. Of course the Bill obviously is doomed. If this debate has done nothing else it has at any rate cleared the air. It has shown conclusively that there can be no place in this Parliament for any measure dealing with House of Lords reform. The noble Viscount, Lord Hail-sham, who leads the House, speaking in this debate on Tuesday last, used words which not only killed this Bill but will kill any Bill of this kind in this Parliament. He not only admitted, but affirmed, that the Government have no mandate, and that there is no mandate to deal with this question in this Parliament.
What did the noble Viscount say? He was speaking both of the constitution, composition and powers of the House of Lords, and these are his words:These subjects formed no part of the crisis which brought the National Government into existence, and it is certainly true to say—please mark these words—that they were not one of the subjects which were discussed at the last General Election.Those words are definite, and they are final. There is no qualification or equivocation about them. They indicated 240 that whatever decision the Government may come to after further consideration of the problem, the Government are not going to pass any Bill to deal with it. No Government which admits that it has no mandate to deal with the matter can pass a constitutional Bill of importance, and after what the noble Viscount has said on behalf of the Government, nothing will be done in this Parliament, and nothing can be done in this Parliament. Not only is there no mandate but, as further proving the impossibility of legislating in this Parliament, I would remind your Lordships that on the First Reading Division on this Bill no fewer than three members of the Government in this House voted against the Bill. After that, how can the Government possibly hold out any hope whatever of bringing in a measure dealing with this question? How can a Government with no mandate, and divided among its own members, bring in a measure of grave constitutional importance? This Bill is dead. It is as dead as Queen Anne, whether your Lordships give it a Second Reading or not. I submit, however, that it ought not to receive a Second Reading.
I have spoken about the question of mandate. I cannot refrain from calling attention to the palpable inconsistency of the position of the noble Marquess. He has always maintained that no measure shall pass unless the will of the people has been really ascertained, and yet he comes forward with this Bill and asks your Lordships to pass it when, in the words of his own Leader, there is no mandate whatever for it. Inconsistency can scarcely go further. There is no mandate and no demand for this Bill. Lord Redesdale dealt with that. Lord Hastings brought forward certain considerations on the other side, but even he was obliged to admit that, as a matter of fact, in the ordinary sense of the word, there is no demand for the Bill. It is of no use saying that resolutions have been passed at all the Party conferences. Resolutions are passed by the bucketful at all Party conferences, and we know that they do not mean anything unless they are supported at that particular time by big propaganda in the country, and Lord Hastings admitted that there was nothing of the kind.
The only movement in favour of this Bill comes from a few Conservative 241 Peers in this House. The Conservative Party is split on this question from top to bottom. Lord Bayford had to admit that, and any Conservative candidate who seeks to defend this measure on the platform in any industrial constituency is sincerely to be pitied. They know that. There is no case for this Bill. The noble Marquess did his best to terrify your Lordships by speaking, with a good many adjectives, about the great risks you run, and about tendencies which might materialise. If there are those risks then this Bill is no defence against them. That has been said again and again, and has never been replied to. I say, further, that there is nothing in the history or temperament of the British people to call for this Bill. Go back for the last hundred years. Democracy in this country never moves too fast. It always moves too slowly. Consider how difficult it has been to get any measure of reform on the Statute Book. Look at the Labour Party. It has now been in existence for forty years, and despite that, and despite the devoted labours of men and women all over the country, and despite the steady decline of the Liberal Party, the Labour Party has never obtained a majority in the House of Commons, and has never been able to carry a single one of its important measures.
§ LORD ARNOLD
That is my point. What is there to be afraid of? Then take the Conservative Party. Look how long it took them to carry tariffs. For thirty years they tried, so difficult is it to get the people to agree to a fundamental change. And I say this, that if the issue had been simply on the question of tariffs, I do not believe they would have got a majority by which they could carry them into being. This is a very conservative country.
§ LORD ARNOLD
I use the word with a small "c." We are a very conservative people, and that is your safeguard. You do not need this Bill. That is what I am saying. The noble Marquess, working on the fears of his hearers, has brought up a terrifying picture of what might happen if the Labour Government were in power, 242 and suggested that they might in one Parliament abolish the House of Lords. I can conceive of greater calamities than that; but let us take the noble Marquess's case as he put it. I cannot conceive of any Government, whether Labour or any other, being able to force through a measure for the abolition of the House of Lords, unless they had a clear mandate from the people, and unless the people were supporting the Government in what they were doing.
Suppose the House of Lords were abolished, and that is the case of the noble Marquess, contrary to the will of the people. The succeeding Election must come very soon. The interval could only be short. The Parliament Act ensures that, and the incoming Government, if they got their majority, would then make a new Second Chamber. As a matter of fact, if what the noble Marquess fears might happen did happen, it would be the best thing for him and his friends that could happen; because all these eternal wrangles about the hereditary principle would be at an end. The House of Lords would be gone, and the incoming Government would have a clean slate. It would be able to put up a new Second Chamber, and, if I may say so, a better Second Chamber than the present one.
I know it is almost a crime, to the minds of some of your Lordships, to suggest that the present House is not as nearly perfect as anything in this imperfect world can be. As I sit here and listen to the speeches in a debate like this, and hear speech after speech full of lavish praise, heaped upon your Lordships—by your Lordships—every adjective of commendation which the dictionary possesses not merely exhausted but employed again and again, why, my Lords, I rub my eyes and I wonder whether I am still living in this imperfect and ill-contrived universe at all. I wonder whether I have not been translated to another and a better world and whether your Lordships' House does not consist of archangels. No, my Lords, we on these Benches have not got that exalted opinion of your Lordships' House. And it would not be at all difficult for the incoming Government, which would have its mandate, according to the hypothesis of the noble Marquess, to set up a new Second Chamber. And similarly with other measures.
243 The noble Lord who spoke last said that the Labour Party might come in and nationalise the banks. Very well. It will take a long time to do it. All these things will take a long time to do. But the interval between the passing of any measures of this kind and the next General Election can only be short, and, assuming that the Labour Party were defeated, the incoming Government could reverse the legislation. It has often happened before and it will often happen again. That is the real safeguard. You have the safeguard in the proper working of our Parliamentary institutions and not in provocative and dangerous measures of this character. Everybody knows that this Bill is directed against Socialism. That is really the genesis of this Bill. Just let me sum up the position. Socialism is either coming or it is not coming. If it is coming this Bill will not stop it, and if it is not coming this Bill, according to the case of noble Lords opposite, is not necessary. That, as I see it, sums up the whole position.
I am not going to speak long, for there are a great many noble Lords who still wish to speak, but I should like to say something about the Bill itself, because although there has been a lot of taik in this debate about the virtues of the House of Lords, a good many of the provisions of the Bill have not been considered in any detail whatever. We do not regard this as a Reform Bill at all. We object to the word "Reform" in the Title. It is a reactionary Bill. Not only does it do away with the great safety valve of the Constitution, the power to create Peers, it means a big permanent Conservative majority in your Lordships' House; and naturally we object to that. My noble friend Lord Snell pointed out that, with regard to Labour Peers, Labour might get three, or possibly only two, Peers. There would be 147 others. And, with regard to the Liberal Peers, I am sorry to say that our Liberal friends, when it comes to a real crisis, have deserted us, and therefore I count them against us. So that there are 147 Conservatives or Peers who would count as Conservatives, and three Labour. Then there is the elected element—150 more. The noble Marquess says they would be elected partly by county councils and partly by county boroughs.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
May I explain? There were two alternative proposals made by the unofficial committee, one of which was for election and the other for nomination, and in the speech which I ventured to trouble your Lordships with at too great a length two days ago, I said that I for my part relied upon the nomination principle, and not upon the other.
§ LORD ARNOLD
Well, I will take the noble Marquess on his new ground. As a matter of fact, he did refer to the county councils in his speech. But nomination means that the Prime Minister of the day will be nominating for seats in this Chamber his political opponents. Which of his political opponents are going to accept nomination from him? We had this up some years ago and I remember the noble Earl, Lord Russell, saying that we would not come to this House if nominated by a Conservative Prime Minister—and we would not. Nomination would not do. There would be 150 elected members, and I am putting the case very strongly against myself when I say that conceivably half of them might be Labour; that is, 75 Labour and 75 against Labour. Well, now how does the matter stand? To 147 hereditary Conservative Peers you add 75 Conservative elected Peers and you arrive at 222. You add to that number, say 10 of the Bishops and Archbishops and Judges who have held or hold high judicial office, and you arrive at a total of 232, as against Labour's 75, elected and 3 non-elected— that is 78. Two hundred and thirty-two against seventy-eight! Almost exactly three to one—and that, as I say, is putting it very, very favourably from the point of view of Labour.
I do not believe myself that there is any chance whatever of Labour getting that. Naturally, then, we object to the Bill. It is no satisfaction to us to have our measures rejected by only three to one instead of a larger number. In fact, we should be just as helpless and powerless then as we are now. What, then, is the use of the provision in Clause 13 which the noble Marquess has spoken about so often, and on which he plumes 245 himself, that if a measure had been passed under the Parliament Act a third time by the Commons it must be rejected by an absolute majority of the Second Chamber?
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I am sorry to interrupt again, but may I just say—I shall have an opportunity of speaking at length later on—that I do not admit any of the noble Lord's figures?
§ LORD ARNOLD
Your Lordships call judge for yourselves. But let me put this point. The total numbers of the House will be about 318, and a majority of that House would be 160. What would be the difficulty of getting 160 Peers to vote on an important Bill when their minimum numbers are likely to be 232? A Conservative Whip who could not do that ought to go back to the nursery, and with regard to the noble Earl opposite, Lord Lucan, who is so deservedly esteemed in all parts of the House, I should be sorry to think of such a fate befalling him. But it would not befall him. He could do it as easily as falling off a chair. This provision is not worth printing in the Bill. There is absolutely nothing in it in practice when the measure is analysed.
No, we naturally are opposed to the whole Bill. Not only would the Conservative Party have an overwhelming majority, as I have shown, in the Chamber, but they would always have a majority, as I see it, on the Joint Committee for dealing with Money Bills. That is why the Committee is being set up. You are going to substitute for the considered and impartial judgment of Mr. Speaker a Party committee. The men will be put on the Committee to vote according to Party, and if they do not vote according to Party they will be taken off. Is that going to be an improvement? This is a very grave matter. I am surprised at the noble Marquess, because he is usually more careful in his language, but in almost a light-hearted manner he prospectively impugned the impartiality of Mr. Speaker.
§ LORD ARNOLD
Well, his words are here. Unquestionably he said it was all 246 right with the present Speaker, but that we do not know what may happen in the future. If words mean anything they mean that. And that is a very grave matter. Once you impugn the impartiality of the Speaker of the House of Commons, once the impartiality of the Speaker of the House of Commons goes a great deal else will go with it. You are aiming a very grave blow at the system of Parliamentary government. And what is the reason for this provision? What difficulty has there been about Finance Bills? I wonder whether the noble Marquess knows this. Of Finance Bills, Budgets, since the Parliament Act was passed no fewer than thirteen have not been certified by the Speaker as Money Bills—about half have not been certified at all. This shows how meticulously careful is the Speaker in doing his work. There is no case for this provision in regard to the Joint Committee and I think myself that a great deal more consideration should be given to that Part of the Bill than up to the present time has been given in this debate.
I have finished. Time has gone, and many more speakers have to follow me. I wish to say this in conclusion. I have heard of many noble Lords who are going to vote for this Bill, not because they really believe in it, but because they think it ought to go to a Committee stage, where it would be interesting to see what happens. I would submit very respectfully and very firmly that is not a sufficient reason for voting for the Second Reading. If this Bill passes its Second Reading in your Lordships' House it will unquestionably give a great impetus to extremism in the country. No member of your Lordships' House, acting with a full sense of responsibility, ought to vote for this Bill unless he is fully in favour of it. Since the War attempt after attempt has been made to do something about the House of Lords, and attempt after attempt has ended in confusion and defeat. It is now quite clear that that is going to be the fate of this measure also.
I have been over ten years in your Lordships' House, and during that time I have seen and heard many strange things in it, but, if I may say so, I have never noticed any disposition on the part of your Lordships to give up anything 247 you possess. It certainly would be astonishing if you are now willing in the end to vote yourselves out of your hereditary rights, because that is what this Bill comes to. It would be extraordinary if, in response to these lugubrious prognostications of the noble Marquess, you are willing to do that, in return for nothing which will give you any real security in what you deem to be your vital interests. The time will come when your hereditary rights will be taken away. That time has not come yet; but it would be extraordinary if you were willing, in anticipation, to give them up in advance without a blow and without any real return. When I think of this Bill I think of the old Book, and I think of Esau and what he did with his birthright. Esau sold his birthright for a mess of pottage. As I see this Bill your Lordships are being asked to do the same.
§ LORD RANKEILLOUR
My Lords, I believe the speech we have just listened to will find so little echo in your Lordships' minds that I do not propose to make any observations upon it. We have heard from the last speaker and from other speakers a great deal about the constitution of this House. I trust I shall not shock your Lordships' sentiments if I say that the composition of this House is a secondary matter. What is a primary matter is to avert the danger with which every institution in this country is shortly and seriously menaced. Within two years, as the Constitution now stands, a majority of the House of Commons can abolish every institution in this country, except the Crown. In two months, under the strict title of a Money Bill, they can produce universal confiscation and chaos, and there is now a Party eager for office, burning for revenge, confident of success, who say they will do at least many of these things and certainly abolish your Lordships' House itself.
I think the situation has been some-what obscured by the controversy created by a certain ex-Law Officer. What he proposed to do was by an unexampled exercise of the Prerogative to create so many Peers that they would pass legislation immediately that, as in Germany, would give all the powers of the State into the hands of the Executive Government of the day. I do not believe Sir 248 Stafford Cripps and his plan are the danger. If it were attempted it would be so gross an attempt to abuse the Prerogative that neither could any Sovereign submit to it nor would the electors in any conceivable circumstances fail to back up the Crown in its refusal. That is not the danger. The danger is in the letter of the Parliament Act. Although Sir Stafford Cripps has suffered a rebuff, the danger is just the same, and it becomes more imminent now.
There is one circumstance that makes it more acute than before. I mean this: the Liberal Party are no longer the possible reversionaries to power. In the old controversy in 1911 it was, I think, assumed, certainly by the Government of the day and by their spokesmen, that the two old Parties would continue to succeed each other at greater or less intervals, but now we cannot see any possibility, so far as human foresight goes, that a Liberal Government will come into power in this generation. Mr. Bonar Law foresaw this situation and this danger, in the celebrated speech he made at the Carlton Club which broke up the Coalition in 1922. He said that the preservation of the Liberal Party as a separate entity was, I think lie used the word a necessity, for working the Constitution as it then stood. He said that if the Liberal Party were merged, or disappeared, then we should be up against the real menace of revolutionary change for the first time. What he said then has come to pass now and that is the menace by which we are confronted.
What will be the conditions of the next Election? The National Government, like all Coalitions, will have lost its driving power when the circumstances which created it are past. It will be exposed to the normal discontent that assails every Government, both for its good deeds and for its bad deeds, whenever it has lasted the life of a Parliament. It will be exposed to the hostility of those persons, more numerous than is usually supposed, who vote alternately for various Parties on some perverted notion of sportsmanship. It will be attacked by the intellectuals who are so engrossed in the cult of their own intellects that they never try to master public affairs, but nevertheless lean always to the Party of innovation; and by the sentimentalists who feel only too keenly the 249 miseries of the world and are ready to grasp at any shadow of remedy that may be put before them. Then there will be the corrosive influence of those newspapers. which seek to undermine the prestige and authority of every Government almost as soon as it is created. And they will be opposed by experts of every description of elusive promise and scientific misrepresentation, and it may be, though I trust not, that the largest Party that supports the Government may be riven asunder on another great subject.
Can any of your Lordships deny that the possibility of the return of a Socialist Government is not merely a possibility but is something approaching to an even chance? Hitherto there has been no experience of a Socialist Government in power. I should feel some consolation, though not a sufficient one, if I thought that noble Lords who sit in that quarter of the House would be able in the next Parliament to exercise a balancing power, but by all the symptoms of the times they will only form a small section, and it may be one small section of a minority. That is a possible, nay a probable situation, and, as I have said, every institution in the country would be in jeopardy were it to ensue. It is not a situation that can arise in any other country. It is quite true that I have not studied at any depth the circumstances of post-War Europe, but in pre-War Europe I did, in this very controversy, look into them, and there was not a single country in Europe, nor, I think, a great country anywhere, in which a fundamental change could be brought about by a majority of one House with or without the consent of the head of the State. In every instance there were elaborate precautions against fundamental changes taking place without the real will of the people being known. Your Lordships may have seen how difficult the process has been in the United States of America, first to bring about what was called constitutional amendment, and then to get it revoked—long controversy, majority in both Houses of Congress, a majority in each of the constituent States.
The process may be different in other countries, but I believe ours is the only civilised country where a vital, and perhaps irreparable, change in the Con 250 stitution may be brought about by the same procedure and with less consideration than the passing of a Gas or Water Bill. It is often said: "This may be theoretically true, but things don't happen like that in England." Who can tell whether they will or will not happen like that in England? Have we any divine revelation that we shall always muddle through? What have we seen in our time? We have seen things to confute prophecy and baffle imagination. We might have thought that after a great and disastrous War there would be revolutions in some countries, but what no man did foresee, or could have foreseen, was that in half Europe there would be revolutions from the Right in despair of the Parliamentary system, and that those revolutions would be backed by the great majority of the people.
In old days I remember reading in Greek history about the age of the Tyrants, followed by the age of the oligarchs, followed by the age of democracies, and the good historians who, like Mr. Grote, wrote one hundred years ago presumed that that process would be repeated here and would come to stay for all time. Now we see that in Europe the age of the Tyrants has returned, and it may be that we may reach the same result, but not till a terrible period of semi-revolution or actual revolution and counter-revolution has been passed through. After all, things did happen like that in England in the seventeenth century, and though science has made great changes, changes partly for construction and partly for destruction, human nature in every country remains the same. I do not say that these things will happen, but I do say that they may happen, and I say it will be criminal negligence to shut our eyes to the fact that they may happen.
Now there is a new factor which has emerged. I mean the growth of Fascism. Fascism in itself, and by itself, may not be dangerous, but in connection with other issues at an Election it may be dangerous in the last degree. There will be voting on mixed issues and electors will vote or abstain from voting lightheartedly. Meanwhile the revolutionaries will know their minds very well, and know how they will bring about their designs. What they do not realise is that if they were so far successful chaos 251 and reaction would follow. That reaction would be the opportunity for the enemies at both ends of the Constitution.
There is also another aspect which it would be folly to ignore. It was lightly touched upon by the noble Marquess who spoke yesterday, and I wish to say one more word about it. Hitherto in the Constitution there have been three great organs of power—the Sovereign, this House and the House of Commons. Do you suppose you can destroy the efficacy of one of those organs without profound reactions on the relations of the other two? Take one away and the other two are brought up against one another. If the breakwater of this House goes, the waves of revolution will mount to the steps of the Throne itself, and the Sovereign will be forced into the very vortex of constitutional strife.
After all, what are the powers of the Crown? The powers of the Crown are to veto Bills, to dismiss Ministers—that was done a hundred years since—and to dissolve Parliament on its own power. Those powers may be in abeyance, but they are there, and may it not be supposed, if the necessity arose, that there would be a most imperative demand for their revival? In past history we have seen something that may be regarded as similar. In the Tudor period the forms of mediæval liberty survived. The essence of liberty was gone, but the forms survived, and came to light again in the seventeenth century. In the last century the forms of monarchy have survived, and latent there is a great power of monarchy, though the power of monarchy is not what it was even in the eighteenth century. But these powers are there, and, given the circumstances, who can say that the dry bones may not live again? But conceive the situation if we came to that. A terrible national crisis is at hand. No one but the Sovereign can avert it. Irresistible pressure is put upon him to avert it. It may be that his conscience and his live sense of the interests of the country will compel him to take action; but if he does take action he will risk his Throne. That is not the least of the dangers that are before us now.
What then is the remedy? The technical remedy is easy enough. It is contained in this Bill, or the referendum might be added to this Bill. But, it is asked 252 pertinently, could such a settlement survive? That is a question which we in this House cannot answer by ourselves. We must have the answer partly supplied by the friends of the Constitution outside this House and in another place. Personally, I will pay a very high price for the stability of the Constitution, but it is not for us to name the price, and I think at this moment it would be unwise to be more precise in passing this Bill than to leave that part of the new House to be filled up in another place. Personally, I think we should in part preserve the hereditary principle. An hereditary Peerage means something in this country, and I should wish the prestige attaching to it not to be frittered away in mere social preeminence but always to be associated with at least the possibility of responsibility and work. Until it is proved I cannot believe that Parliament will be unequal to the occasion that confronts it. This is one of those questions on which I think it can be truly said that "He that seeketh his life shall lose it," but if it be grappled with with courage and decision I do not believe that a solution will be nearly so difficult as many of your Lordships are inclined to suppose. As it is the ship has drifted, is drifting, and will drift unless the course is soon changed. May it not be said of this Parliament and this Government that they were deflected by the difficulties or the exigencies of the moment from discharging their fundamental trust!
THE MARQUESS OF DUFFERIN AND AVA
My Lords, before I come to the argument which I particularly wish to address to your Lordships I would like to make one or two general observations on the course of this debate. Amid all the difficulties that have emerged in the two days of debate on this matter, there is, I feel, agreement among a great majority in this House on certain fundamentals. We are nearly all agreed that we do not want to surrender this country to what Cromwell called the "horridest arbitrariness" in the world, the unfettered control of the House of Commons. We do not believe with some noble Lords opposite that a unicameral form of legislature, which has failed wherever it has been tried in the world, is likely to be very successful in this country. We would remind them that 253 when a unicameral legislature was last tried by one of our great neighbours its doom was pronounced with the words "Massacre them all!" Nor does there seem to be very much disagreement between us as to the fact that your Lordships' House is a peculiarly inefficient Second Chamber. In fact, if I may so express myself, I feel that some of your Lordships came here with almost indecent penitence to confess the sins of other people. Nevertheless, there seems a general sense in the House that the House of Lords as at present constituted is not the most efficient Second Chamber that could be devised.
Therefore, I agree, if you accept those two propositions you are inevitably driven to a third, and that is that soon we should have some reform. We cannot be impressed by some of the arguments that were produced on another occasion by the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition when he said that a strong Second Chamber was to be deprecated because it made the work of government move slowly. You cannot at once have the advantages of democracy and try to do away with the disadvantages. Democracy must of its own nature from time to time work slowly—perhaps irritatingly slowly. The only way in which you can get really swift legislation is by the uncontrolled power of the Executive. Once you have got that you have not got democracy. That I should have thought was a self-evident proposition. That being so, I should have thought that in this House we could have come to some general measure of agreement on certain fairly simple lines.
I should have thought that you would have been able to get a large measure of agreement amongst most of the Parties in the State on three general principles —first, the abolition of the hereditary clement; secondly, the avoidance of any form of election for the members of this House; and thirdly, and most important in my opinion, a provision in the constitution of the new Second Chamber to the effect that the Government of the day, if it had a very large majority in the House of Commons, should have an absolute majority in the Second Chamber, but if on the contrary it had a very small majority in the House of Commons, if the voice of the people had not been decisive and loud and clear, then the Government should depend for 254 its power of passing legislation on its ability to persuade a certain proportion of what I may call independent senators, that is to say, people selected for the Second Chamber on quite other grounds than those of political allegiance. On those lines it does seem to me that not only would you be able to get general support here for a Bill for the reform of this House, but also in the country.
I really rose to address your Lordships because it appears to me that there are certain very urgent reasons why we should not give this Bill a Second Reading to-night, however strongly we may feel about the desirability of the reform of the Second Chamber. I have had opportunities during the last year or so of moving about among Conservative people in this country—not the people who pass resolutions, but the people who are Conservative, who always have been Conservative, and who are always going to vote Conservative, people in fact who believe in the reform of the Second Chamber just as much as any noble Lord here to-night. I think it right that I should say that it is my impression that those people will be left with a very unpleasant taste in their mouths if the Government take advantage of the majority that they conferred upon them in 1931 to pass legislation of this kind. I myself feel very strongly that Conservative people who believe in the Second Chamber would be horrified if they thought that this Government had abused the trust put in them in 1931 in order to pass what is a purely Conservative measure.
I can only give my own opinion, and I may be wrong, but that is what I think is the feeling in Conservative circles in this country. After all, the English crowd is not dangerous when it is crying out for the gallows or applauding the wild perorations of noble Lords opposite. It is dangerous when you hear it murmuring and muttering "It isn't fair." That is the feeling people will have if we try to force this through as the result of the 1931 Election. The whole success surely of the future Second Chamber which we envisage will depend on the fact that it was set up directly as the result of a popular demand, that the voice of the people was loud and insistent and decisive that the Government of the day should reform our House. No one can say 255 that a clear decision was given in favour of a permanent Tory majority being entrenched in the Legislature. And I agree with the common Conservative opinion in this matter. I agree entirely that we have no right at this stage to pass measures of this kind. After all, consider the position. We vote to-night for this Bill: to-morrow we go out and stump the country, saying that we will defend the Constitution against any wrong attack upon it, when we ourselves have just voted for such a vast constitutional change of which no mention whatever was made at the last Election. We cannot do it.
We are asked to compare this Bill to the Betting and Lotteries Bill. We are told that the Government had no mandate from the people for the Betting and Lotteries Bill. The Bill we are now discussing intends radically to alter an institution which has existed since the dawn of our Parliamentary history, an institution which has for centuries done immense service in preserving the rights and the liberties of our people. Now it is proposed, rightly or wrongly, to alter it, with all its known faults, and all its known virtues, and to put into its place some other experimental Chamber. And then we are asked to compare this vast constitutional change with a Bill to legalise totalisators! My Lords, do you think we can get away with that? Of course we cannot. It is perfectly obvious that any attempt of that kind would be bitterly opposed by great sections of our own Party. It has been said that Tory Clubs, Tory Councils, the Tory National Union, have unanimously passed resolutions in favour of this Bill. That consideration would weigh with us very greatly indeed if we were following a Tory Government. We are not following a Tory Government; we are following a National Government.
If anything is clear in this world, the debate on the Motion for the First Reading of this Bill made it quite clear that certain elements in the National Government will be placed in an intolerable position if we persist with a Bill of this sort. I sympathise with them. I feel very strongly that the moment has not come when we can say that we are so dissatisfied with the way in which the National Government have grappled with the problems which they have had to 256 meet, that we are so determined to force an issue, that we are so set upon the immediate formation of a Conservative Administration as to be prepared to force this Bill through. Do let us realise that every vote cast to-night in favour of this Bill is in fact a vote urging upon the Government a course which must necessarily lead to its disintegration.
Therefore I would urge your Lordships, if I may, with whatever sincerity I may have, to remember the example of one of the Conservative Party's greatest leaders. If you have read the second volume of the Life of Joseph Chamberlain you will well remember how running like a thread through his life during the critical years of the formation of the Unionist Party, you find him again and again saying: "I believe that such a course is right; I believe that such a policy is desirable: but I am not prepared to go so far with that policy as to break up the Union. I believe that we have common ideals and a common purpose greater than those which we are asked to sacrifice. I know that every Coalition requires sacrifice, but I know that all the sacrifices cannot come from one, side". He said that whereas he thought himself perfectly at liberty to express his own opinions in the country and to defend them without being accused of dishonesty, at the same time he would not do soin cases in which the supreme object of our alliance and the existence of the Unionist Party would he endangered.My Lords, I would in all humility ask you when you vote to-night, to remember those words and that example, and to follow them.
THE LORD ARCHBISHOP OF CANTERBURY
My Lords, after the extremely able and forcible speech of the noble Marquess who has just sat down, I fear that any contribution I may have to make to this discussion must inevitably seem somewhat tame. After listening to or reading most of the many, varied, and able speeches which have been delivered during this debate, I confess to the feeling that the fog which has so long surrounded this subject has not yet been entirely dispelled. We have had Rosebery Committees, Bryce Committees, long discussions in this House, and yet I think a cynic might say that we were not much nearer a solution. Certainly there is very little left for any speaker to say, but I 257 think your Lordships will appreciate that as representing the Lords Spiritual I could not be wholly silent in a discussion about changes in a House of which they have been for centuries an integral part.
Very little allusion has been made to them in the course of the debate. I hope that means that silence implies satisfaction. I do not propose to say anything on the matter, except to remind your Lordships that there never has been any act of legislation by which the Lords Spiritual have been appointed specifically as representatives of the Church of England. In point of fact, they may have become so, but that is not their constitutional position in this House. They have been part of the Witan, or Grand Council of the Nation, since the very dawn of English history. They have had an essential part in Parliament ever since there has been any Parliament at all. The question whether or not in the future it might be advantageous to appoint by some method of nomination or election representatives of other religious communities is one which has been raised but into which I do not propose to enter. I content myself with merely saying that if such persons were to be summoned to this House, their position within it would be wholly different from that which the Lords Spiritual have held since the beginning of Parliamentary history. I am not going to enlarge upon that theme. I will only add that if this Bill reaches the stage of Committee, I may have something to say about the numbers assigned to this element in your Lordships' House by the Bill which the noble Marquess has presented to it.
So I venture very reluctantly and possibly rashly, certainly diffidently, to address a few remarks to your Lordships on the general question. The matter of the constitution and powers of the Second Chamber in our Constitution must always be, and certainly is at the present moment, of supreme importance. I think there is a very real danger of drifting in this momentous matter. There is a tendency which has been not infrequently expressed during this debate to say, as regards the constitution of this House: "Well, all is very well as we are. We get through our business in some kind of way not wholly discreditable; we enjoy perhaps not any great notice but no great unpopularity. Why not 258 leave us as we are?" With regard to the powers of the Second Chamber, there is a, tendency to say: "Let us avoid raising acute controversial issues and assume that the Parliament Act is the last word in our Constitution as to the powers of the Second Chamber." I do not think it is worthy of this House, or of the supreme importance of these issues, that we should permanently acquiesce in this policy of easy drifting. Whatever may be the result of the Division this evening, I think many of us will agree that the noble Marquess has rendered real service to the country by compelling serious and deliberate attention to this most grave and important matter.
First of all, as regards the constitution of this House. I approach the question simply with a desire to consider how this House can best fulfil its functions as a Second Chamber. It may seem a somewhat academic issue, but it is the only point of view from which a person like myself, not associated with any political Party, can approach it. Its functions are in the main those of revision or delay of legislation passed in another place, but there arc other functions which certainly this House has always discharged, and on the whole with great value to the country. It initiates a great deal of legislation, and it also ensures discussion of many most important matters with a freedom and a deliberateness impossible in another place. For these functions it seems to me that this House possesses certain great qualifications. It possesses, if I may borrow an admirable phrase used by the noble Marquess, Lord Lothian, "the authority of experience"—experience mainly of three kinds. The first is all that pertains to the management of land, a fundamental matter of importance in this country. Secondly, it possesses a very important experience of the greatest possible value—of that local government on which so much of the welfare of the country depends, and in which, I think, most of your Lordships take an active and disinterested part. Thirdly, there is the experience, as has been pointed out, of many members of this House gained in wide branches of public service in this country and throughout the Empire. To these I would venture to add other great qualities—a high sense, in many cases hereditary, of responsibility and independence.
259 The question is how these great qualities, so valuable in a Second Chamber, can be made most effective. I cannot bring myself to think that the constitution of this House, as it is at present, carries out this purpose. I cannot resist the impression from the statistics given by the Earl of Midleton that there is a great deal that is unsatisfactory in the present constitution of this House. I have been a member of it for twenty-five years. I have repeatedly observed that when matters of great public importance, as to foreign politics or disarmament, or of social policy such as the housing of the people, are under discussion, there is a comparatively small attendance of Peers —very often not more than thirty—and that a large attendance is only secured when either the special interests of noble Lords or clear Party issues are involved. I make no complaint. I think it is all very natural. Most of your Lordships are engaged continuously in local business, and you may well think that you are doing better service by looking after that business than by coming up to London to listen to debates which often enlighten but seldom sparkle.
Again, I must say that we are often embarrassed by the somewhat casual manner in which the business of the House is arranged, and it is very difficult to know exactly when any particular matter will really be considered. But I do not think that we can feel that it is satisfactory, or that it makes a good impression, that important matters should be settled by the sudden incursion of Peers who may be imperfectly acquainted with the arguments, and who take little part in discussions, and are here mostly because what specially interests them is involved, or some Party issue. It seems, therefore, that to secure the best elements that this House can contribute to the business of a Second Chamber its numbers ought to be largely reduced, and that those great and valuable qualities of experience, of which I have been speaking, should be made available to the House by a smaller number of Peers, who can really take a continuous and effective part in the business of the House.
That result can only be carried through by some process by which they will elect from their number those who, by being willing to be elected and by 260 being elected, are under an obligation to give their time and thought to the business of this House. In the second place we need other and equally valuable elements of experience in order to be really useful as a Second Chamber. I think there is general agreement that not only for the reality of debate, but for the weight of opinion, there ought to be some provision by which a better balance of Parties in this House could be secured. Whether that is to be secured by the nomination of the Government of the day of a certain number of Lords of Parliament for prescribed periods, or not, this is not the time to discuss. Something of that kind is necessary if the full value of this House is to be realised. Once again I am sure fuller and further use is possible of experience gained in the service of the Crown, or in special departments, both of social and, not less, of industrial life. Here I would follow what was said in debate by Lord Rockley, that I hope there may be fuller use made of the creation of life Peers, and I venture to hope that it will be in the future by life Peerages, and not hereditary Peerages, that eminent services to the community will be recognised and retained. This may mean a larger addition to numbers than the noble Marquess has proposed, but it still would mean a House small enough to be able to do its business well and to bring to bear upon the business of the country just those qualities which a Second Chamber most needs.
The hereditary element would be preserved. I do not attach anything sacrosanct to the principle of heredity, and, in passing, I would venture to deplore the argument which I think has been used that in some way the position of the Crown is involved in the principle of heredity in this House. We all know that the position of the Crown now stands upon a wholly different and much more stable basis. The Crown is essential to the unity of the great Commonwealth of Nations, and everyone knows that there is no possibility of having such a stabilised centre of the Commonwealth except through the principle of heredity in the Crown. And I think we are doing a disservice to the Crown if we let it be supposed that we think that its position, unique and invaluable, depends upon the position which the principle of heredity may have 261 in the constitution of this House. Though that is true, for reasons I have stated it has its value. It is a ready method, one consistent with our traditions, of making available those qualities of experience and independence which are very valuable in a Second Chamber. Balanced by a larger representation of other interests and other kinds of experience, I think we might have a very workable House. And I cannot but hope that, if the noble Marquess succeeds in the Division, it may be possible for the united wisdom of the House to put on record a scheme for a Second Chamber largely upon these lines.
Now let me turn for a moment to the cowers of the Second Chamber. The constitution and the powers go together. I will not pause to argue whether the powers are more important than the constitution, or the constitution than the powers. Suffice it to say that the two are involved each in the other. And here this truism has a bearing on the much-discussed Clause 13 of the noble Marquess's Bill, the amendment of the Parliament Act. I think there can be no question—I do not suppose that noble Lords opposite would deny—that the pressure of public opinion which secured the passing of the Parliament Act was very largely due to the potent criticisms that were made upon the constitution of this House. It was represented with great effect as an appanage of one political Party. It was said that when Conservative measures reached this House they were always welcomed, when Liberal measures reached this House they were almost as invariably resisted or rejected.
Therefore, that being so, if the constitution of this House is in any way considerably changed it is at least permissible to ask whether the actual provision of the Parliament Act as it stands is for all time to be regarded as the last word of political wisdom. I do not put it higher than that. It has been pointed out, and think, with great force, that in a General Election there are all sorts of complicated and varied and personal issues involved. If there is any large issue it is one not so much of measures as of men of the Party which is to be returned. it is therefore perfectly possible And conceivable that a Government so elected may bring forward far-reaching proposals 262 affecting the whole of the Constitution of the country, which have never been as a specific issue considered by the electorate; and, quite apart from controversies Which have taken place, I do think the time has come when we ought to ask whether it is wise that measures of that kind should, merely because they have been put under the Parliament Act, for all time be allowed automatically to secure their passage without the electorate having the opportunity of giving them definite and clear consideration.
I would remind your Lordships of what was said, I think very pertinently, by the noble Viscount, Lord Cecil, that in days not perhaps far distant changes of this kind which might be described as revolutionary may come from the Right quite as conceivably as from the Left; and if they come from the Right, following analogies which we see elsewhere, they may be even more fundamentally subversive of all that we mean by the Parliamentary system than proposals which may come from noble Lords opposite. And therefore I think the time has come when, apart from the dangers to which the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, called such forcible attention, we might at least consider, if I may put it so again, whether the actual proposals of the Parliament Act are to remain for all time as sacrosanct and not to be reconsidered.
I am bound to say that I am not satisfied with Clause 13 of the Bill as it stands. I cannot bring myself to think that it is the function of this House to force a Dissolution upon any Government, and I therefore associate myself with what has been said by Lord Stonehaven and Lord Bridgeman and, think, others, that here again the time has come when we ought to give fuller consideration than has been given to the principle of the referendum. I am not going to take up time at this stage by arguing the merits or demerits of that principle. As was pointed out, if it is new in this country it is familiar in the Constitution of some, and indeed I think all, of the Dominions. If adopted it would certainly need two requirements —first, that it should not involve that if a Government was defeated it should be regarded as in any way bound to resign; and secondly, that there must be most careful drafting in definition of the nature of the proposals which would entitle the referendum to be put into opera 263 tion. I only say that this is one of those matters that it is timely to consider more carefully than has been the case in the past.
There are parts of this Bill, my Lords, with which I cannot agree, and I retain, like all your Lordships, perfect freedom to consider our attitude when it comes, if it does come, to a Third Reading. And I am well aware of the effect of the declaration made by the noble Viscount the Leader of the House that there is little prospect of any Bill, even if it passed this House, becoming law during the present Parliament—at least, during the present Session: I limit it to that. And I must say I was very greatly impressed by what fell from the lips of the noble Marquess who preceded me in this debate. But I still venture to think that, in view of the great importance of the Second Chamber in the Constitution of this or any other country, and the general feeling that the present Constitution does not get the best out of this House, as well as involving it in other damaging criticisms outside, it is good to bring this matter out of the region of public committees and private committees and to put it definitely before a Committee of the Whole House. I do not think, apart from the chances of its becoming law, that it is wholly academic or waste of time for this House to endeavour to put as clearly as possible before the country and Parliament a really considered plan of giving to this Second Chamber its utmost possible authority and value. For these reasons, quite apart from what I may think about certain provisions in the Bill, particularly Clause 13, I, for my part, propose to give it my vote on the Second Reading.
§ EARL PEEL
My Lords, I know there are other speakers and I shall try to put my observations into the most concise form, but I wish to raise first, if I may, that question on which Lord Arnold addressed us, the question of mandate, because he said that the noble and learned Viscount the Leader of the House laid it down most firmly that there really was no mandate to deal with the question, I suppose in this Parliament. Indeed, when I read the words of the noble and learned Viscount at first I thought they did bear out what the noble Lord said, but the last words of the noble Viscount, I thought, bore to some 264 extent a different interpretation, and that is of some importance in view of the statements that have been made that this Government have got no right to deal with the question at all. He said:The question whether any legislation of this character ought hereafter to be brought forward is a matter which the Government are considering.Now of course much depends on the interpretation of that word "hereafter," but I assume "hereafter" applies to the present Parliament. It is inconceivable that the present Government, with all their preoccupations, can really be considering what they are going to do in the next Parliament, and I must assume that the Cabinet are gravely considering what to do about it in this Parliament. Therefore I think I am right in saying that that is some modification of the previous statement of the noble Viscount that this matter was not discussed very much at the last Election. I do not suppose I shall get an answer from my noble friend, but if any other member of the Government wishes to speak I should like him to clear up the ambiguity which, no doubt owing to my lack of perspicacity, seems to lurk in those sentences.
I am a little depressed by this decision, because if there was one thing I thought a National Government would go for it was to bring forward measures and pass them which no Party Government could, and I hoped, as we have the Labour Party and the Liberal Party so freely represented in the Government—certainly in the Government, perhaps even more than in another place—that they would form a sort of committee to deal with this matter, and that we should not have had complaints, as we had from the noble Marquess, Lord Reading, that he and his friends have not been consulted at all in the shaping and bringing forward of this Bill and that it was entirely a Tory committee. But there was one thing that the noble Viscount said that caused me great pleasure. In fact, I was very much elated by his statement that the Government would take into consideration the observations made in the course of this debate by your Lordships. That is a very comforting and comfortable assurance, and no doubt it has enabled us to bear the exhaustion and effort of this long debate with more cheerfulness than we should otherwise have done. I look upon this sort of Bill, brought 265 forward by my noble friend—and I pay great tribute to the efforts he has made in framing the Bill—as a sort of annual or biennial retreat, when we examine very carefully into our shortcomings. I think everybody will say that your Lordships have been very frank in probing your own wounds and discussing the matters in which you feel you fall short of a perfect Chamber.
I propose, and I can state that quite readily, to vote for the Second Reading simply because I am in favour of the reform of this House, and there are two points in which I cordially agree though I shall not argue them to-night. As regards the Chairman of one House being the controller of the subjects which may be discussed by the other, there is no reflection, as Lord Arnold seemed to think, on the character of individuals. It has nothing to do with the character of individuals at all, and I should be just as strong against the Lord Chancellor, if he will allow me to say so, deciding what is to be discussed in another place. I think there must be combination as regards that curious provision by which the Parliament Act can be used to destroy the Second Chamber whose powers it was only meant to curtail. I submit that the question one has to ask as regards the position of the Second Chamber is this: Does it really discharge, and is it so constituted and is it strong enough to discharge, those duties which a Second Chamber in our view ought to discharge? Many points have been raised by noble Lords on this, and we have been told what an advantage it would be to us to have a magnificent reservoir, as it were, of distinguished persons upon whom we could call to come and give us advice on all sorts of subjects, and who, when we had called upon them, might disappear again.
That might be an admirable system if we were a purely consultative body, but we are not a purely consultative body: we are more than that; we are a deciding body, and in that case there is something rather too capricious about this theory of the reservoir which we could draw upon, and should draw upon, at very uncertain intervals. I pay great tribute to the many noble Lords who cannot come here because they are engaged on important duties at home. I dare say those duties are more important than those they may discharge here, but surely 266 it is not an advantage to have persons members of a Chamber who tell you they are so busy elsewhere that they cannot pay attention to the business of the Chamber itself. There is another kind of member. They are granted Peerages, and go through that very interesting genuflectory mediæval ceremonial but, having gone through it, they seem to be Afflicted by a sort of legislative paralysis and are quite unable to discharge their duties again. I do not look upon it as a serious contribution to the Second Chamber when you can have people who are so ready to dissociate the honour they have been granted from. the duties which are attached to it, and that is one of the grounds on which I favour reform.
It is remarkable, after all, in spite of what has been said about our Conservative associations—there has been some difference among the experts on that—that no one can say that this House ever obstructs any movement for reform, but is itself mainly vocal and mainly leading in the question of whether this Chamber should be reformed, without any reference, as it were, to its own advantage or its own interest. Another reason why I favour reform is this: An observation was made the other day—it was in connection with a Bill we were dealing with—that your Lordships ought to be very careful about throwing out a particular measure because, if you did, it might be suggested you were acting for some interest of your own and not because the measure was good or bad. That observation went very deep with me, and I felt you could not be satisfied with the composition of a House when it was possible to make that suggestion against its action. It is also said that the masses of the voters are not deeply interested in this question. Of course they are interested in a great range of other questions, but I do think that in regard to the working of institutions and constitutions, in the relations of one House to another, whether you should have one House or two, what they should discuss and what not, it is really the legislators and the Executive themselves who are far better judges, and must be better judges, being experts, than the masses of the voters. It is the duty of those legislators to give a lead to the people and not be content with saying: "Oh, well, there is 267 no very great interest in this subject when I discuss it on a platform."
I was very much interested in the observations of the Leaders of the Liberal Party and also of the Labour Party. I gather that the conception held by the Labour Party of a Legislative House is that it should be a sort of sieve with very large apertures so that it might let through very quickly anything that was put into it. They did not seem to me to be concerned sufficiently with the necessity of sifting rather carefully all the measures—some of them not very carefully considered—which are thrown into the sieve. I have heard nothing in the course of the discussions from them as to the necessity in these days, when far more labour is thrown upon the Legislative Assembly, when the range of Government is immensely extended, of seeing that the subjects are far more carefully, and not less carefully, sifted. Therefore, the argument for a Second Chamber, if you like a reformed Second Chamber, becomes almost overwhelming.
May I say in passing that I was extremely gratified to hear the wonderful panegyric passed upon your Lordships' House by the Liberals opposite? It seemed to be a gem without a flaw; a rose without a thorn. It was as near perfection as any human piece of construction could ever be. The reason I say I was so gratified to hear that is that I am myself a member of your Lordships' House, and I felt that I myself, quite unknowingly, partook, I suppose to some extent, of that perfection. I felt as one does sometimes when one has seen some great work of art and a friend has seen it also and has expatiated on its scale of splendour. One feels one did not appreciate it sufficiently oneself, and one only wishes, with due humility, one was really able to see it in the same light as one's friend saw it. It has added considerably to my standard of happiness to hear these observations of the Liberal Party. I only say this in passing. Much has been said of the Parliament Act. Your Lordships now, after three days, must have every sentence of it clearly in your heads. But I know that a Party can change its mind, a great Party can change its mind, and I should be rather interested to know—we have not been told—what were the exact grounds on which the Liberal Party did change its mind. From a psychological point of 268 view it would be extraordinarily interesting to hear the explanation, and I think, for the benefit of posterity, it would be a great thing if the noble Marquess who speaks after me, would place on record the history of the varieties of political experience through which he and his Party have passed during the last twenty years.
I cannot, in the few minutes I have at my disposal, say all I would like to say upon the Bill. I am not myself in favour of the main scheme as brought forward by the noble Marquess, though I regret to say so. I do not think that this suggested mixture of heredity and either selection or election—it is the same thing for my purpose—would really represent a very stable mixture. I believe this: if you are—and this is the only piece of fragility I notice about your Lordships' House—going to eliminate from half of that House the hereditary element, I cannot think it would be long—it may be a very short time indeed—before you move to the elimination of the rest of the elements. I think either you must base your House on heredity, with possibly a nominated element of persons who for various reasons do not wish to transmit honours to their sons, or you must move broadly on to some form of elected basis.
May I say only one word about the scheme for selection? I think I probably take a different view from other noble Lords on this point, because no one has criticised it. The method I refer to is that by which the House is selected by itself. I know it is done on a small scale in Scotland, and was done in Ireland. I strongly object to this idea as applied to the whole body of the Peers. After all, with all the convictions there may be in this House, there are two things which stand out. One is that if your Lordships are not representative you are independent. If you are really going to be elected by the great body of the Peers, you must be responsible to an electorate. You would be responsible to that electorate, and that being so, you cannot have the same complete freedom as you have when you are responsible to yourself alone. You would, in fact, lose to some extent that liberty you possess, but you would not become representative in the eyes of the public. You would be regarded as being here as an hereditary 269 Peer. I doubt whether there would be very much distinction drawn by the public between whether you were selected in this way or whether you sat in the ordinary way because of heredity.
I further submit, very respectfully, that the electorate to which you are going to appeal is an exceedingly bad one to choose. I presume the assumption is that those who already attend of their own free will are those who might wish to be selected, but I cannot think that those noble Lords who, for good reasons no doubt, do not attend your Lordships' debates will be in a good position to select those who do attend and would wish to be selected. I submit that the electorate would be an extremely bad one for that form of selection. I do not quite know how the independent Peers, of whom there are a great many, would fare. Independent Peers are not members of a Party. The essence of the idea of independence is that you belong to no Party. I do not see how, in this method of election by Conservatives and Liberals and Labour, you really would get the best form of selection, or that you would not get many men left out who were prominent and so on really because they did not know the best way of appealing to an electorate of three or four hundred people.
I do not wish to say anything more upon that point though I feel rather more strongly than I speak. It is no doubt a common observation that there is a great predominance of Conservatives in this House, and if you are going to alter your House, and are going, as the phrase is now, consciously to plan your new institution, it is quite obvious that people would not tolerate a House that, anyhow at first, did not much more closely correspond to the distribution of opinion in the country than the present House can be said to do. Therefore I think it will be extremely difficult to apply that method of selection, because when you come to give that fair representation you will have to make so many exceptions and alterations and additions that the original plan will be apt to disappear among a pile of alterations and details.
Just one question from a practical point of view: Will the scheme of the Bill, enabling Bills to be held over through a whole Parliament, be acceptable in 270 another place? I feel, myself, that the scheme, as suggested, is rather too slender a bridge to bear the full weight of this great change, and I am not sure either that it is the best way of doing it. It is extremely difficult to think of a Government elected for five years having one or two very important Bills, which perhaps may be the very centre of its legislation, thrown out by a renovated House in the first year or two years. Is that Government to go lumbering on for five years waiting till another Election in order that it may approve or disapprove by Resolution of Bills that have been passed three years before? I cannot believe that that is a very good system, because after all you want to have as much certainty as you can. I cannot think that to have Bills hanging in suspense over a great commercial community, never knowing when they will come into operation, is very wise. I do not much like the referendum, but I think the referendum is preferable to this system of too long a suspense, because at least you get a settlement at once and you know exactly where you are.
There are a few other observations I would like to make before I sit down. This Bill is drawn on rather narrow lines. If you are going really to consider the reconstruction of your two Chambers you are bound to act on wider lines than this Bill. If any one sat down to draw up a new constitution with two Chambers I think it is almost impossible that he should not give the Second Chamber some control over finance. We all know how control over finance came about. Not to go back into mediæval history, I think it may be said that in the nineteenth century this question of control over finance arose as the result of the determination of the rising commercial classes of this country to assert their will in matters of finance over the landowning classes. In my opinion we should free ourselves from the prepossessions of the nineteenth century now that finance plays so vastly greater a part in national affairs, and when the main questions are questions of debt and of how much taxation can be put on the country without imposing too great a burden on the community. Questions of finance are the dominating factors to-day, far more important than questions of "totes" and dogs and so on in matters of legislation. If you have some control over 271 finance, then there will be some force in your criticism of administration and the Government must pay some respect to your views on administration.
In these days when Government is impinging more and more on individual effort and enterprise, when you have a powerful bureaucracy constantly growing, I submit that in order to bring effective criticism to bear on the Government it is not enough to have one Chamber which is already overburdened, but we must have two. I am not putting my proposition on the ground that I want to stop revolution. I agree that if revolutions come they must come, and if revolutions come and the people are determined upon them it would be rather dangerous than otherwise to have too strong a buffer in the way. I put my proposition because I think that a single Chamber will be more and more unequal to the tremendous task put upon Parliament, that there should be the co-operation of two Houses, and that both those Houses should have their share in matters of finance and in administrative criticism as well as in ordinary legislation.
I believe that unless something of that kind is done, and unless proposals for reform are wider than those in this Bill, there is a danger that our Constitution may break down. I recognise that that will involve a fully-elected Assembly with powers clearly defined and that you will have to put an end to our old affectionate system of the Constitution which was born and was not made. You will have to think out an entire Constitution and allot powers to this House and to the other. I hope your Lordships will forgive me that digression. I end by saying that I think the Bill which my noble friend has so ably brought forward contains so many elements of instability that it must be radically altered in passing through later stages. I propose to vote for the Bill because I am in favour of reform, but I do not know that my vote will be very acceptable to the noble Marquess or that he will think my allegiance very valuable.
THE MARQUESS OF CREWE
My Lords, the noble Marquess in charge of the Bill has received in the course of the debate a great number of personal compliments. It has been agreed that in introducing this measure he has been actuated by the purest motives of public spirit, and the desire to assist by his 272 long experience in the effort to arrive at some solution of a question which has been a puzzle to this House for at least fifty years. But I think that the noble Marquess would have preferred that some of the floral offerings should have been presented less to him as a person and more to the measure for which he has made himself responsible. It cannot be said that the proposals of the noble Marquess have received anything like general approval. Apart from the searching criticisms of the noble Earl who has just sat down and the remarkable speech made by the noble Marquess opposite, Lord Dufferin, who I understand to be a Conservative of Conservatives, there has scarcely been a speech which has not struck some blew at the Bill. And, what is unusual in this House, its rejection has been advocated from practically every quarter of the Chamber.
The noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, speaking from the Cross Benches but not by any means speaking in the indeterminate manner which is sometimes associated with those seats, moved the rejection of the Bill on the general ground that matters are better left as they are. I am sure that the noble Marquess in charge of the Bill will forgive me if I say that many of the arguments used by the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, reminded me of some that were used by the late Marquess of Salisbury during the frequent discussions which I well remember in this House on this subject. Then there was a plea for rejection from the Front Opposition Bench. I am not quite clear as to the attitude taken by noble Lords on that Bench to-day because I have always understood that it was the fixed belief of their Party that we ought to work under a system of single-chamber government. I was under the impression that some time before a General Election, in promulgating the policy which they would pursue if they obtained a majority over all Parties in another place, they will announce that they would substitute a single-chamber system for the bicameral system. The speeches which have been made have not entirely substantiated that belief.
The noble Earl, Lord Listowel, in a very pleasant speech, expressed a desire that representatives of all Parties might come together to discuss the question of a Second Chamber, and the noble Lord, 273 Lord Arnold, whose speech was evidently received with pleasure even by those who least agreed with it, did not go so far, but at the same time did not make any announcement that he desired to see your Lordships abolished offhand. But at the same time, believing what I do about the attitude of noble Lords who represent the Labour Party, I cannot help feeling that they are rather in the position of a man who expects to come into the possession of a dwelling-house in the course of the next two or three years and has announced that on doing so he will immediately pull it down, but at the same time does not think it a waste of time to spend a day in discussing what would be the best colour to paint the front door.
Then I come to the Motion put down by my noble friend Lord Reading. That Motion appears to have been received with some surprise as coming from the Leader on the Liberal Bench, because we are reminded that it was the Liberal Leader of a former day who announced that the subject of the reform of this House would "not brook delay," and yet my noble friend is prepared to vote against the Second Reading of a Bill to reform the House. The subject undoubtedly has brooked a great deal of delay, but I do not think the Liberal Party can be blamed for that unless it is maintained that the reform of the House ought to have been brought about between the passing of the Parliament Act and August, 1914, because since that date there has never been a Liberal Government in power and no opportunity has been offered to the Liberal Party to undertake the solution of a question which other Parties, Coalitions, and others, have not thought fit to undertake.
My noble friend Lord Reading explained the position which is taken up on this Bench with great clarity, as your Lordships would all have expected, but if I may be allowed to reiterate very briefly the position which is taken up, it is this. Apart from leaving the House altogether alone, there are two forms which its reform might take: it might be reformed on an hereditary basis with additions made to it elected or nominated, or a Chamber might be formed on a basis of election and/or nomination, with or without th retention of some hereditary element. The noble Marquess 274 has chosen the first of those alternatives. He has chosen to keep an hereditary House with certain additions, nominated and elected.
The question of heredity has sometimes been treated, I think, in a rather difficult manner by a confusion between different senses of the word. There is the heredity which implies the actual transmission from parent to child of certain qualities and characteristics. That is one form, and already in the course of this debate the noble Marquess himself and his distinguished brothers have been mentioned as a remarkable instance of that transmission. It is certainly a source of great pride to this House that it contains no less than 75 per cent. of that remarkable group; and if it were desired of course other cases of such hereditary transmission could easily be cited. But what is more often meant by the hereditary system is the carrying on from father to son of a certain profession or work in similar surroundings. Many years ago in the House of Commons Mr. Henry Labouchere, who was one of the most bitter assailants of your Lordships' House, asked who would not think it absurd to appoint an hereditary coachman, and therefore what could be the purpose of an hereditary legislator. Nobody seems to have thought of replying that to appoint an hereditary coachman is, generally speaking, what any man who knew about horses would be very glad to do. Of course, we all know that open-air people like grooms, hunt-servants, gamekeepers, ghillies in Scotland, and fishermen, are very apt, to great advantage, to carry on their business from father to son; but that of course cannot be held to imply that the mere fact of having succeeded to a business or profession means that the son or successor is in all ways competent to carry it out to the best effect, or at any rate that he ought to be entrusted with formidable powers such as those which the noble Marquess desires to obtain for this House.
That is one feature of the Bill which determines the opposition of my noble friend and his Bench; but there is the far more serious feature of the retention by this House, or rather the return to this House, of the power of practically forcing a Dissolution of Parliament. That proposition of the noble Marquess has 275 evoked some definite criticism from his own side of the House; and we have to regard it as being in fact the central point of his proposal for the reform of the House. I take it that what the noble Marquess is afraid of is that some destructive measures, in the event of the present Opposition coining into power, might be put forward by them without their having in any way prepared the electorate; that, for instance, some proposal which would practically mean the destruction of this House as it is would be introduced. It would have to be introduced in the first year of office of the Socialist Government, although they had not obtained the consent of the electors for such an introduction, and in fact had avoided saying anything about it. That, of course, is a conceivable proposition, although Lord Arnold, I think, pointed out, it seemed to me with great force, that it is very difficult to suppose that such a thing could happen. Even supposing this to be a real danger, remote as it appears to me, I think it might be within the capacity of His Majesty's Government to suggest some means by which a great constitutional change could be in some way held up, without going to the extreme measure which the noble Marquess has advocated.
I am not referring to the referendum, of which the most reverend Primate, to whose speech, if I may say so, we all listened with great enjoyment, expressed a more than qualified approval. I have no intention of discussing the question of the referendum, of which I have never myself been a partisan, because I have never been able to see any evidence that it has succeeded in practice anywhere except on a very small scale, and I think the question of scale is that on which it would break down if applied in this country. If the noble Marquess seriously believes in the danger which I have indicated I think there is really no help for him but a reversal to the old proposal of Annual Parliaments. Some of your Lordships may remember that so long ago as 1780 the then Duke of Richmond, one of the prominent Radical Whigs of that day, proposed a Reform Bill in this House which, among other points, included that of Annual Parliaments, and sixty years later, when the People's Charter was promulgated, Annual Parliaments formed one of the points of that Charter.
276 As your Lordships know, all the other points of that Charter have been gradually carried. I am afraid that in this imperfect world Annual Parliaments would hardly be feasible. I wish they could be, and that much of the waste of money and waste of words which accompany a General Election could be avoided by people going to register their votes at the Post Office, or other convenient place, with as little trouble as buying half a dozen stamps. I am afraid that is out of the question, but it is the only solution I am able to offer to the noble Marquess if he seriously thinks there is a danger that important measures, of which the electorate have no cognisance, can be rushed through Parliament in the event of the advent of a Socialist Government.
It only remains for us to consider how far we should do any service by assisting with our votes the Second Reading of this Bill, which I dare say will be carried in any event, in order that details of the whole subject may be studied in Committee. I confess I cannot see that we shall be of any use in carrying on discussions of that kind, on various points both in and out of the Bill, because it seems to me that the whole business will be conducted in an atmosphere of complete unreality. As the noble Earl who spoke last said, if His Majesty's Government had found it possible to put forward a measure dealing with this subject it is very possible that some of us on this side of the House would have by no means agreed with the whole of the details of the measure, but at any rate it would have represented a real and serious attempt by responsible people to deal with this most difficult and complicated question. Now we know that whatever steps may be taken to elaborate this Bill in Committee the results are bound to be very little more than waste paper.
I have endeavoured to show that on two crucial points, that of the "Fifty-fifty," if I may use the expression, hereditary House, and the return to the old power of veto of this House, we are absolutely and entirely opposed to the whole thing. I have no right or intention to ask him any question, but I wondered, if those two points could be changed in a manner which would appeal to us, whether the noble Marquess would care to proceed with his Bill—whether they 277 do not in fact represent the furthest limit, holding the views he does, he thinks he can possibly reach, either in abandoning the hereditary principle or in retaining the present power of revision and delay of the House, but no power of absolute veto. That being so, I cannot see what useful purpose we can serve in assisting with the discussion of the Bill in Committee. I fully appreciate the motives with which the noble Earl opposite, Lord Midleton, with his long experience has worked to bring about a compromise in this matter. How far he can succeed in persuading any large number of your Lordships to agree to whatever views he puts forward I am of course altogether unable to say, but to me personally the abstention of His Majesty's Government from taking any part in the proceedings—and I imagine that this would equally apply when the Bill goes into Committee—makes the whole business so completely unreal that I am obliged to join my noble friend in voting against the Second Reading of the Bill.
§ LORD PONSONBY OF SHULBREDE
My Lords, after listening to the speeches that have been delivered in this important debate, and after hearing of all the great dangers and calamities which are going to take place if a Labour Government comes into power, I looked at my face in the glass this morning with a new eye. It is a good thing to see ourselves as others see us, and I tried to look for the conspirator who, with Sir Stafford Cripps, Mr. Lansbury and Mr. Attlee, is going not only to overthrow the Constitution but to bring ruin to the country. Inspired and encouraged no doubt by the noble Marquess's references to me on Tuesday, one of my correspondents has written to me a postcard which I received last night, which runs:Go and throw yourself over Westminster Bridge and say, here goes a traitor.'So, in addition to the supporters which the noble Marquess finds in your Lordships' House, lie anyhow has an enthusiastic supporter outside.
Now, as the noble Marquess devoted a great deal of his speech to me, I intend to return the compliment. He objected to my strong language. I have always tried in addressing your Lordships to use the most moderate adjectives which I can find in my somewhat restricted 278 vocabulary. But I own that the noble Marquess's move on this occasion has perhaps tempted me to go a little further than usual. What I want to show in the brief time that I intend to take before the Division comes is the motive behind this Bill as much as what is actually in it. The noble Marquess in moving the Second Reading said that the electorate must be helped from making mistakes. The electorate makes a mistake when it votes Labour; the electorate does not make a mistake when it votes Conservative! It is that almost naive, biased view of the political situation which lies behind not only the speech of the noble Marquess but all the other speeches which have been delivered in support of this Bill.
Take the speech of the noble Earl, Lord Midleton, one of your Lordships who has rendered very long and distinguished service, and is naturally listened to with great attention. He waxed indignant at what took place last week in your Lordships' House on the Petroleum (Production) Bill—when, by the way, the Labour Peers saved the Government from a defeat; and he waxed indignant because there were only seventy-five Peers who voted on that occasion. Why on that occasion was he indignant? Because they were standing out for their own rights of property, and that was why there should have been a greater number in the view of the noble Earl. And that is why he supports the noble Marquess: because he hopes that in the new House property will be safeguarded more securely than it is at present.
§ THE EARL of MIDLETON
I do not want to interrupt, but I said exactly the opposite. What I said was that it was a matter of great public interest, and had the vote gone in the opposite direction there might have been a great deal of public feeling.
§ LORD PONSONBY OF SHULBREDE
I do not quite understand the noble Earl's correction, but the occasion that he referred to was certainly referred to by another noble Lord as one in which the smallness of the numbers was deplored, and the debate was on a question of property. But I will leave it at that. When the noble Lord, Lord Bayford, wanted to find a simile for the Labour Party he chose the simile of a burglar. That is always the view—the burglars, 279 the incendeniaries, the people who have got to be crushed and kept back; and that of course is why the Bill was brought in. I listened, as I always do, to the noble Lord, Lord Hastings, because he expresses himself so extraordinarily well and he puts his case so clearly. Really, a stranger might have thought that his calm, judicial and lucid exposition of the Bill conveyed the fact that it was a calm, judicial and lucid Bill. Instead of that it is a provocative, biased and confused Bill.
The discussion keeps on getting back, as I noticed through the last two days, to not what we are intending to do now, but what we are supposed to be going to do eventually. The noble Lord, Lord Hastings, in an eloquent passage at the end of his speech said that this Billhas been introduced so that the foundations may be well and truly laid for a great and genuine cooperative effort….Co-operative! Who is co-operating? The various sections of the Conservative Party. The various Conservative associations and the various Conservative clubs are co-operating, and devised this measure. If I may address my noble friends on the Liberal Benches, I would say that they and we are intruders in this matter and I should certainly move, if by any unfortunate circumstances the Bill did go to the Committee stage, that the Committee stage be held in the Carlton Club. That is the proper place for it.
The noble Viscount, Lord Cecil, who always contributes something that is useful and interesting, suggested that we might get the support of the Second Chamber against an advance from the Right which, as the most reverend Primate pointed out, has proved in many cases in Europe to be a very much greater danger than any move from the Left. The sort of Chamber that the noble Marquess is devising would be no sort of protection against an advance from the Right. That, I am afraid, is not a contingency we can admit as likely. To quote just one more noble Lord, I would quote Lord Hunsdon, who made an interesting speech. He said he was going to vote in favour of the Bill, but he said at the same time that it contained more controversial matter to the square inch than any Bill he had ever come across. Going through the speeches, I think the most damaging criticism has come from those who say they are going to vote in 280 favour of the noble Marquess. I think it was Lord Hunsdon who said he was going to vote for it out of politeness. I wish that doctrine could be extended to a Labour Government when it introduces Bills for Second Reading, but I am afraid there is a limit to the doctrine of politeness.
Does the most reverend Primate realise that he is the only member of your Lordships' House present here to-day who is certain to be in the reformed Chamber of the noble Marquess? The Government Bench rather think they will be there, but I very much doubt it; they may not be the Government for one thing, and if the Government think they are very highly popular with the backwoodsmen they make a very great mistake. As the noble Earl, Lord Peal, pointed out, and he was the only one to point it out, the electorate of the Peerage is a very uncertain body. They have got no experience of who does the work in this House, and they do not know who attends. Do you suppose they read the Blue Papers? Do they look at the Parliamentary Report? Not a bit of it, and they see precious little of any report in the newspapers of what is done here. And they are going to be the electors! These 150 Peers who are elected may be a puzzle to the attendants here as to who they are. My noble friend Lord Snell, who put our case so splendidly on the first day, said that by proportional representation we could only get two members. My noble friend Lord Arnold, who impressed the House by his speech this afternoon, calculated that we should have three members. I have made a very careful calculation, it comes to two and a-half. I do not know if I am going to be the hall. but I do not think I shall be in that Chamber at all, nor anybody else.
The noble Earl, Lord Peel, complained of the ambiguity of the Government's attitude. That was to be expected. The statement which the Leader of the House made showed the clash of opinion and the controversy that is evidently going on in the Cabinet, and if any one wants to know what the Prime Minister has to say they have only to turn rip the debate of 1927, and see the Vote of Censure of a very violent character in which the word "gerrymander" occurs, moved by Mr. Ramsay MacDonald in the House of Commons when Lord Cave's proposals, 281 which resembled in many respects the proposals of the noble Marquess, were before the House. I quite agree with Lord Peel that there is some ambiguity as to what the Government intend to do.
§ LORD PONSONBY OF SHULBREDE
I agreed with the noble Earl on another point before he came in. I think the Government's ambiguity is intentional, and although the word "Session" was used I believe the controversy was over the question whether the word "Session" or "Parliament" should be used. But I think the noble Marquess will not give them much peace if some mention is not made either in the King's Speech or in the Election address when the Election comes.
But I do not want to delay your Lord ships, who are anxious to come to a decision. I want to make it perfectly clear what the issue is. You are not being asked to give a decision on the establishment of an impartial revising Chamber. You are not being asked whether you approve of a reform of the House of Lords which will convert it from a strongly biased Chamber with an indefensible constitution into an impartial Chamber so adjusted as to receive the support of all Parties. You are not being asked whether you approve the establishment of a branch of the Constitution so adjusted as to be in harmony with the growing development of democracy. These are not the issues at all. Make no mistake about it, the issue before you is this: you are being asked whether you approve of the setting up of a barrier to hinder and, if possible, defeat the legislative projects of the increasingly large Party of progress should they obtain a majority in another place.
At a time when the clamorous demands for social justice on the part of the people are still, I am glad to say, finding expression in democratic and Parliamentary institutions, you are being asked to anticipate the conversion of these demands into legislative enactments by setting up a defence of property mil wealth, by constructing a dam against the rising tide, and by making plans beforehand to defeat the will of the people as expressed by their elected representatives. Considering the state of the world to-day, 282 what more dangerous proposition could be put before you and what more unwise suggestion? What is the danger, if there is a danger? Who is the person who is to be pointed to as encouraging subversive tactics and disorder? Sir Stafford Cripps has been pointed to as wanting a dictatorship, whereas he is only foreseeing that a Labour Government, should it get into power, will be thwarted and obstructed—and with some justification as it turns out. Sir Oswald Mosley is pointed to as a menace, with his spectacular troupe and his methods altogether alien to British sentiment. The Communists are trotted out as a bogey by Conservative statesmen when they want to introduce repressive measures.
No, my Lords, every sensible man knows perfectly well there is no danger as yet from any of these quarters. The danger has come from an entirely unexpected quarter. The measure of the noble Marquess is not to be derided and set aside as ridiculous—by no means. With his high position and great prestige, and the great influence he can exercise oa many devoted followers, he has come to Parliament and asked them while there is still time, while there is still a big Conservative majority in another place, to prepare for an act of sabotage, and to put the machinery of Parliament out of gear. It is not Sir Stafford Cripps, it is not Sir Oswald Mosley, it is not Communists who are the danger. It is the noble Marquess who is the danger. If the noble Marquess were to take off his sober frock coat and waistcoat what should we find underneath? A black shirt: That is the answer to his noble brother, the noble Viscount, Lord Cecil, when he asked that a Second Chamber shall be set up to save us from Fascism. It is here already.
If the noble Marquess is successful in the Lobbies to-night it will be on account of his personality and not on account of his project. But I would beg noble Lords to set the personal consideration aside. I share with them to the full admiration for the noble Marquess's personal attractions, for his integrity, and for his distinction of character, but that does not prevent me from disagreeing wholeheartedly with the noble Marquess's political views and with almost every word he ever utters in this House, and it should not prevent noble Lords oppo 283 site, if they think he is making an unwise move, from voting against the Second Reading of this Bill. I refuse to believe that the majority of your Lordships are going to be misled. I prefer to believe that your Lordships, seeing the developments which democracy is making, do not intend or desire that any selfish motives to preserve your advantages, your privileges and your great possessions should stand in the way of the raising of the condition of the common people, of according an equality of opportunity to every citizen of this land, and of the general principles of social justice.
It is towards that ideal that the Party to which I belong are devoting their energies and for which they are receiving increased support. It is to thwart that ideal that this Bill has been devised and framed. Its passage even through your Lordships' House to-night, in what the noble Marquess who has just sat down calls an extremely unreal atmosphere, will be a challenge, more than that, an invitation to disorder when it goes out in the country that these are your Lordships' considered views. In the name of political fairness, in the name of orderly constitutional development, we on this side of the House made an endeavour to prevent the noble Marquess from even introducing this Bill. We sincerely hope to-night that your Lordships will decide that we have seen the last of it.
My Lords, if only those supporters of the Bill who have refrained from pointing out its very serious defects vote for the Second Reading we, the opponents of the Bill, will indeed have a handsome majority. The wholesale criticism of the details of the Bill expressed throughout this debate by most of its supporters shows that even those in favour of some form of reform are not inclined to support this particular Bill. A large part of this debate has turned on fear—fear, that is to say, of the use which might possibly be made of their power by a temporary majority in another place to wreck the Constitution. Personally, I do not share that fear, and I find myself in agreement at least with that part of the very able speech made by the noble Lord, Lord Snell, in which he described that fear as a "bogy." Whether it is a bogy or not, in any case 284 the sort of thing which inspires this fear can evidently be in no way averted by giving a Second Reading to a Bill which we now all know, on the authority of the noble Viscount who leads your Lordships' House, is doomed to die, as I hope to-night but in any case in the Committee stage.
We have in fact arrived at this, that your Lordships are invited to engage in the further stages of a purely academic debate solely far the purpose of enlightening the Government and without the remotest chance of their introducing any positive legislative enactment whatever. I submit that it is not reasonable to ask your Lordships to go through a sort of shadow show for no better purpose than that. Surely the fact that giving a Second Reading to this Bill will merely result in that ridiculous situation is sufficient reason for your Lordships to do what I ask you once again to do. which is to support my Motion and refuse a Second Reading to this Bill.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, if my noble friend behind me (Lord Redesdale) will allow me I will deal with the position as to the Second Reading of the Bill before I sit down. I would like to address myself to the remarks of the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition. I am very grateful tn the noble Lord. I have no desire to throw him over Westminster Bridge; on the contrary, I was immensely amused, as your Lordships were, by his admirable speech. I honour his motives. He has a passionate desire to help those of our people who are less well off than we are. He has a great feeling of compassion and pity and is a great advocate of social justice. The mistake he makes is in thinking that those sentiments are confined to those Benches on which his Party sit. We all have them. The noble Lord has never been able to do justice to the Conservative Party. I am afraid I shall not convince him to-night, but I should like, if I can, to make an impression upon him.
We listened, all of us, with the greatest interest and satisfaction to the speech of the most reverend Primate delivered a short time ago in your Lordships' House. The most reverend Primate said in his speech that he was most anxious in any measure of reform that there should be an effort at a better balance of 285 Parties in your Lordships' House. I agree with him. Noble Lords opposite talk about this Bill as being an effort to entrench the Conservative Party and so forth. When the noble Lord, Lord Arnold, uses those positive phrases with which we are so familiar in the certainty with which he speaks about almost everything, I think it would be better if he read the documents on which he comments before he comments on them. Perhaps he was not commenting on them. But if the noble Lord had done us the justice to read the report of the unofficial committee—
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
Then I am afraid the noble Lord's memory is very defective. May I remind him of a passage in that report? I am not going to trouble your Lordships with any long quotation, but this perhaps you will allow me to read. In the course of that report there was a recommendation as to an alternative, the alternative which I prefer, that the outside element should be brought in by the process of nomination. It was to this effect:that the appointing authority be instructed to have regard to the large Conservative majority to be expected in the hereditary element and to aim in their reecmmendations at a fair representation of Labour and Liberal opinion and as between Conservatives and non-Conservatives"—that is, taking the whole body together—at something like equality of strength taking the hereditary and outside elements together.
§ LORD ARNOLD
The main recommendation was that the outside element should be elected by members of county and county borough councils. The provision quoted by the noble Marquess was at the end and it was merely a temporary arrangement.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
The noble Lord is quite wrong. There were two alternatives recommended. The committee was unanimous as to powers—I only say that in a passing phrase—but as to personnel they were not unanimous. They were divided, but they were to this extent unanimous that, though divided as to their recommendation, so anxious were they for the reform of your Lordships' House that they were prepared to take every alternative rather than that 286 nothing should be done. That was the position of the committee. They were unanimous to that extent. I have quoted quite correctly the passage which I suggest the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition ought to ponder. I know about that passage, my Lords, because this reactionary Tory who always wears a black shirt under his waistcoat drafted that passage himself. We have no desire whatever to treat other Parties with injustice or unfairness. Why should they think so? Do they find that usual among Englishmen of any rank? I recommend the noble Lord to think again before he brings charges so unfounded against his political opponents.
I will proceed—very shortly, of course, to-night—upon the same line of argument. It is suggested that what we are asking your Lordships' House to do is to take power if this Bill becomes law to reverse what the people have decided at a General Election. Now, why should that be said to be the case? No doubt the form must be general in which these powers are given, but we were anxious on that committee, and I am anxious now, that the old tradition in which your Lordships' House has always treated this question should be preserved in any new form the House may take. That was one of the main reasons why we insisted that the hereditary element should be maintained, because we wanted the old tradition. And what is the old tradition? Is it the fact that we throw out all the Bills which are determined at a General Election by the electors when they return a Labour Government to power? Why, when I sat where the noble Lord is sitting now and his friends sat upon this Bench, I helped Bill after Bill of the Labour Government to get through. Of course I did.
I recognised that there was a Labour Government in another place—not a Labour majority, but a Labour Government—and I knew it was part of our duty in your Lordships' House to do what we could to facilitate the business even though it was proposed by a Labour Government. That is the tradition—and it has been so for many, many years in your Lordships House—that once we are satisfied of what the settled determination of the people may be we conform to it. The idea that following on a General Election which turns upon certain 287 well-known issues, following upon that and the legislation proposed, let us say, by a Labour Government to fulfil it, we should ask your Lordships to reverse it—why, we never do such a thing. That is not the way. What we do, of course, is to try to sift what is proposed to us and when we find there is no assurance whatever that this is the measure which enjoys the confidence of the people then, my Lords, we have held it up for further consideration. Let the noble Lord do us justice in that respect also.
I know that some people think that these are bogies. I would ask your Lordships, and I would especially ask Labour Peers, to consider the history of the two years 1929 to 1931. Only two years. That, is to say, two years within which, if a Labour Government were in a majority, they would be absolutely all-powerful. What, happened in those two years? By their legislation and by their administration they reduced this country to the very edge of a catastrophe. The noble Lord said: Oh, but there would be by-elections, and there would be every kind of demonstration of public opinion, and a Labour Government could not act against it. The Labour leaders of that day had no conception of what public opinion was. They talk to us as if we know nothing about the conditions of the working classes. The honest truth is that the working classes of this country do not care a row of pins about the Labour leaders. The Labour leaders do not understand. How otherwise could they have made such a colossal mistake as to think that they were interpreting the wishes of the country between the years 1929 and 1931? They made blunder after blunder. I suppose they thought that they were representing the people, but so far were they from representing the people that when the people were asked, they were thrown out of office by an almost more colossal majority than has ever been known in our time.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
The noble Lord says: "What about the danger?" It so happened that they were being led at that time by certain 288 Ministers who were not so wedded to their views as they themselves were.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I must of course say quite candidly that the break-up of the Labour Government of that day at the instance of Mr. Ramsay MacDonald was undoubtedly a very fine act on his part. He saved the country, and it was extremely fortunate for us that at that time there were in the Labour Government Mr. Ramsay MacDonald and three of his colleagues, one of whom is the noble and learned Viscount who now sits upon the Woolsack. That was very fortunate for the country. But supposing that it had not been so. Supposing that the country had been ruled by all the other Labour leaders, and supposing they had had a majority. They were of course in a minority, but if they had had a majority, what would have happened? Is it a bogy? It is admitted that they did not know what the country thought; it is admitted that no by-elections had guided them. No, no; with their majority they would have gone on, and the country would have been ruined.
Those are the experiences through which we have gone. It is not a question of theory, it is a question of historical fact, and I repudiate the suggestion that in sketching, as I tried to do in my speech when moving the Second Reading, the dangers which were before us, I exaggerated one atom. If I required any further evidence of the ignorance of the Labour leaders of what the people think, I should only have to point to the General Strike. Could there have ever been a more colossal catastrophe from the Labour point of view than the General Strike? I suppose they thought that they had the people behind them. Of course thee never was so great a failure as the General Strike. My Lords, they do not know what the people think, and they are not prepared to alter their policy. If they had unchecked power within the first two years of a Parliament, it is not possible to exaggerate the mischief they might do. I do not want to dwell too long upon that point.
Let me say just this about the Parliament Act. I had hoped that your Lordships would have believed, and that the 289 Opposition would have believed, that we were not destroying the Parliament Act. I had hoped that you would be convinced that this was an amendment, and a reasonable amendment, of the Parliament Act. If any of your Lordships have the feeling that perhaps on the whole nothing much will happen, that the Parliament Act has been in existence now for twenty-three years and no great harm has happened to us, so why be so afraid, let me point out to your Lordships that the Parliament Act had never been tried. That is what I want your Lordships to realise. The Parliament Act was passed just before the War, Then came the War; then came the period after the War, when we were governed, not by a Liberal Government, but by a Coalition Government; then there was a short Labour Government; but on the whole during the rest of the time there was a Conservative Government; so that the Parliament Act has never been tried. This country has yet to experience what will happen with the Parliament Act when there is a Labour or Liberal majority—but I am afraid that it is not likely to be a Liberal majority—in power. Do not let any noble Lord feel that he may sleep comfortably in his bed and think no harm can come from the Parliament Act because nothing bad has happened for twenty years. The fact is that the Parliament Act contains within itself the power of very great mischief.
I am well aware that many of my noble friends, and the most reverend Primate, have criticised Clause 13 of this Bill, and they suggest as an alternative that we should establish the principle of the referendum. I suppose that all of us who have been interested in this question for many years have considered the question of the referendum. I myself was devoted to that particular remedy years ago; and it may be the best. I am, certainly not prepared to discard it altogether. By all means when the proper time comes—if it ever does come—let noble Lords who believe in the referendum propose it, and I shall be very glad to do what I can to contribute whatever knowledge of the subject I have. Please do not anybody think that we are wedded absolutely to the proposal that is made in the Bill.
I must hurry on, because time is growing late, and I must say one or two 290 words about the very important announcement which was made by my noble friend the Leader of the House. My noble friend made an announcement which has of course profoundly modified the position in which the House stands. I agree with everything, or almost everything, that has been said by noble Lords as to the importance of that announcement. What does it amount to? It amounts in the first place to this, that in my noble friend's opinion the initiative in these matters ought to come from the Government. I agree. In the second place, that the Government are considering the matter. Well, I am very glad to hear it, as an advance; because when Mr. Baldwin spoke not long ago he said that they had not considered it at all. They are considering the matter; and I suspect, that they will go on considering it for a very long time.
My noble friend then went on to say that nothing could happen this Session. Of course, he can speak with absolute authority upon that. It certainly does not rest with me, of course, and it does not rest with your Lordships' House either. Even if you pass this Bill, or an amended form of this Bill, it will make no difference. If my noble friend says that nothing will happen nothing will happen; you may be perfectly certain of that. So that as far as actual legislation on this subject is concerned, we may eliminate the present Session. Then there is next Session. I was very glad to hear my noble friend Lord Peel say that he thought that there were certain hopes of next Session. He hoped that the consideration of the Government might be drawing to a close by next Session, and that they might, after all these years, have come to some conclusion. But I am given to understand that next Session will be occupied by other very important business. I am afraid I have not very much hope, if this Session goes by, of the next Session.
Then we reach 1936, and there is a General Election coming. What will be the position of this question immediately prior to a General Election? I cannot think that the Government will legislate upon this subject just before a General Election. Will they put this question upon their platform? I hope they will, but, of course, after all it is a National Government and there are other sections 291 of the National Party to be considered. Will they be able to get over their scruples? Will the Labour and Liberal Ministers in the Government be able to get over their scruples enough to allow this to be put upon their platform and in their programme at the General Election? I hope so, but if I were a betting man I would not go very far in offering long odds that that will be the case. Unless there is some kind of pressure from this House and from public opinion in the country, do your Lordships think that this question will appear upon the Government's programme, and, if not, what is going to happen in the next Parliament? I am assuming that the National Government will be returned at the next Election? I think they will, but there will be nothing on the programme of the National Government, and all the believers in a mandate will sing a sort of chorus: "You did not submit it to the electors. You have no mandate, and you must not touch the question of House of Lords reform, not merely next Session and the Session afterwards, but throughout the whole of the Parliament."
I wonder whether my noble friends on the Front Bench have realised what that prospect means. I do not allow my gift of prophecy, such as it is, to go any further than the next Parliament, but I cannot help wondering what may happen in the Parliament after. I quite imagine that there may by that time be a Labour Government in power. I put it to my noble friend and his colleagues: Can they say nothing? Can they offer us no fragment of hope of something being done? I do not say our Bill. Our Bill is a humble effort. We did what we could. We do not pretend to any great dignity. We did our best. I do not say our Bill, but is there nothing that the Government will do on the subject at all? Is there any fragment of hope that there will be any change whatever in what is admitted to require a change—namely, the constitution and power of your Lordships' House? That is the thing which makes me despair.
I agree quite fully that the announcement the Leader of the House has made has profoundly altered the situation. I cannot deny it. With great respect I am going to ask your Lordships to go to a Second Reading on this Bill. I earnestly 292 hope that you will carry the Second Reading; but when I contemplate the Committee stage I confess that my feelings are very acute. I know from long experience the difficulty of carrying any Bill through Committee, even when you are sitting where my noble friend is sitting, and have all the machinery of Government behind you, with the natural and proper loyalty which the Back Benches pay to the Front Bench. It is difficult enough even then, but for us by ourselves to carry through Committee stage such a Bill, with considerable difference of opinion amongst noble Lords —I put it in the most moderate form—I am sure that the task would be stupendous, not merely to us who are in charge of the Bill but to your Lordships.
And then it will have no effect. We know that the Bill will go no further. If your Lordships' House has one quality greater than any other it is that of being a very practical Assembly, and I do not think I can ask an Assembly so practical as your Lordships' House to go through all the elaborate business of carrying through this Bill amidst infinite rocks and shoals, and then for your work to have no effect whatever when it is done. I could not venture to do that. I had hoped, I admit, when I introduced this Bill, that we should have been able to agree to it and send it to another place, but as I listened to the course of the debate I am afraid that feeling became thinner and thinner, and less and less. It cannot be done. I am very sorry. It is true that the noble Viscount the Leader of the House has killed the Bill. He must bear the responsibility, and for us it remains to do what we can, at any rate to-night, to demonstrate that your Lordships' House is agreed at any rate upon this, that reform is called for. I admit there are many differences of opinion, but with very few exceptions almost every one of your Lordships who has spoken has admitted that reform is called for. Even the Liberal noble Lords, who have not helped us very much, have admitted that reform is necessary.
I ask you, my Lords, to carry the Second Reading of this Bill. If you were not so minded believe that disappointment in the country would be profound. I listened, as I always do, to the speech of the noble Marquess, Lord Dufferin and Ava. I do not agree with his estimate of the opinion of the country. I also have 293 heard what they say outside. I believe in the country, at any rate, that that vast mass of Conservative workers and voters in the country are looking to Parliament for the reform and strengthening of the Second Chamber. I hear it everywhere, and if this House were to throw out this Bill contemptuously on the Second Reading, they would say that the Conservative Party are not in earnest about reform, and that it is all humbug. I will myself
§ not incur such a responsibility. I hope your Lordships will not do so, and I ask you with every confidence, although the Bill can have no future, at any rate by an overwhelming majority to pass its Second Reading.
§ On Question, Whether the words proposed to be left out shall stand part of the Motion?
§ Their Lordships divided:—Contents, 171; Not-Contents, 82.295
|Canterbury, L. Abp.||Bangor, V.||Eltisley, L.|
|Bertie of Thame, V. [Teller.]||Fairfax of Cameron, L. [Teller.]|
|Norfolk, D. (E. Marshal.)||Brentford, V.|
|Somerset, D.||Bridgeman, V.||Fairhaven, L.|
|Wellington, D.||Cecil of Chelwood, V.||Fairlie, L. (E. Glasgow.)|
|Chaplin, V.||Foxford, L. (E. Limerick.)|
|Aberdeen and Temair, M.||D'Abernon, V.||Gisborough, L.|
|Ailesbury, M.||Dunedin, V.||Greville, L.|
|Bute, M.||Elibank, V.||Grinstead, L. (E. Enniskillen.)|
|Camden, M.||Exmouth, V.||Hampton, L.|
|Lansdowne, M.||FitzAlan of Derwent, V.||Hanworth, L.|
|Salisbury, M.||Goschen, V.||Hardinge of Penshurst, L.|
|Zetland, M.||Hill, V.||Harris, L.|
|Knutsford, V.||Hastings, L.|
|Shaftesbury, E. (L. Steward.)||Templetown, V.||Hawke, L.|
|Cromer, E. (L. Chamberlain.)||Torrington, V.||Hayter, L.|
|Albemarle, E.||Ullswater, V.||Hindlip, L.|
|Balfour, E.||Howard of Glossop, L.|
|Bathurst, E.||Exeter, L. Bp.||Hunsdon of Hunsdon, L.|
|Bradford, E.||Iliffe, L.|
|Cawdor, E.||Aberdare, L.||Jessel, L.|
|Denbigh, E.||Abinger, L.||Kenlis, L. (M. Headfort.)|
|Devon, E.||Addington, L.||Kenmare, L. (E. Kenmare.)|
|Doncaster, E. (D. Buecleuch and Queensberry.)||Aldenham, L.||Kilmaine, L.|
|Alvingham, L.||Kinnaird, L.|
|Dudley, E.||Ampthill, L.||Lamington, L.|
|Effingham, E.||Annesley, L. (V. Vatentia.)||Latymer, L.|
|Eldon, E.||Arundell of Wardour, L.||Lawrence, L.|
|Fitzwilliam, E.||Banbury of Southam, L.||Lloyd, L|
|Fortescue, E.||Bayford, L.||Marshall of Chipstead, L.|
|Graham, E. (D. Montrose.)||Belper, L.||Meldrum, L. (M. Huntly.)|
|Grey, E.||Bingley, L.||Merthyr, L.|
|Haddington, E.||Brancepeth, L. (V. Boyne.)||Mildmay of Flete, L.|
|Harewood, E.||Brocket, L.||Milne, L.|
|Harrowby, E.||Burnham, L.||Monckton, L. (V. Galway.)|
|Howe, E.||Butler of Mount Juliet, L. (E. Carrick.)||Monteagle, L. (M. Sligo.)|
|Iddesteigh, E.||O'Hagan, L.|
|Ilchester, E.||Camrose, L.||Oriel, L. (V. Massereene.)|
|Leven and Melville, E.||Clanwilliam, L. (E. Clanwilliam.)||Ormonde, L. (M. Ormonde.)|
|Lichfield, E.||Polwarth, L.|
|Lindsey, E.||Clinton, L.||Queenborough, L.|
|Lytton, E.||Cochrane of Cults, L.||Rankeillour, L.|
|Malmesbury, E.||Conway of Allington, L.||Rayleigh, L.|
|Mar and Kellie, E.||Cottesloe, L.||Ramnant, L.|
|Mid1eton, E.||Cranworth, L.||Rockley, L.|
|Morton, E.||Cromwell, L.||Rossmore, L.|
|Mount Edgcumbe, E.||Danesfort, L.||Roundway, L.|
|Onslow, E.||Darey (de Knaythy), L.||St. Levan, L.|
|Peel, E.||Daryngton, L.||Saltersford, L. (E. Courtown.)|
|Radnor, E.||De Clifford, L.||Sandys, L.|
|Rothes, E.||Desart, L. (E. Desart.)||Seaton, L.|
|Sandwich, E.||Dulverton, L.||Shute, L. (V. Barrington.)|
|Scarbrough, E.||Dunleath, L||Sinclair, L.|
|Selborne, E.||Duveen, L.||Somers, L.|
|Strange, E. (D. Atholl.)||Ebbisham, L.||Somerleyton, L.|
|Yarborough, E.||Ellenborough, L.||Southborough, L.|
|Elphinstone, L.||Stafford, L.|
|Stonehaven, L.||Swinfen, L.||Waleran, L.|
|Stuart of Castle Stuart, L. (E. Moray.)||Teynham, L.||Waring, L.|
|Trenchard, L.||Woodbridge, L.|
|Swansea, L.||Trevor, L.|
|Marlborough, D.||Ashton of Hyde, L.||Luke, L.|
|Askwith, L.||Mamhead, L.|
|Crewe, M.||Balfour of Burleigh, L.||Marks, L.|
|Dufferin and Ava, M. [Teller.]||Berwick, L.||Marley, L.|
|Bethell, L.||Mendip, L. (V. Clifden.)|
|Exeter, M||Bradbury, L.||Monkswell, L.|
|Reading, M.||Brougham and Vaux, L.||Mottistone, L.|
|Brownlow, L.||Nuffield, L.|
|Buxton, E.||Carnock, L.||Palmer, L.|
|Iveagh, E.||Clwyd, L.||Passfield, L.|
|Lindsay, E.||Cobham, L.||Pentland, L.|
|Liverpool, E.||Cornwallis, L.||Plender, L.|
|Midlothian, E. (E. Rosebery.)||Craigmyle, L.||Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L.|
|Poulett, E.||Darling, L.||Rathcreedan, L.|
|Strafford, E.||Davies, L.||Reclesdale, L. [Teller.]|
|Denman, L.||Rhayader, L.|
|Astor, V.||Elton, L.||Ritchie of Dundee, L.|
|Chelmsford, V.||Erskine, L.||Russell of Liverpool, L.|
|Devonport, V.||Forester, L.||Sanderson, L.|
|Esher, V.||Gainford, L.||Snell, L.|
|Hampden, V.||Gladstone of Hawarden, L.||Stanmore, L.|
|Hereford, V.||Glanusk, L.||Strabolgi, L.|
|Mersey, V.||Gorell, L.||Strachie, L.|
|Wimborne, V.||Granard, L. (E. Granard.)||Stratheden, L.|
|Hay, L. (E. Kinnoull.)||Swaythling, L.|
|Winchester, Ld. Bp.||Heneage, L.||Tenterden, L.|
|Hutchison of Montrose, L.||Trent, L.|
|Allen of Hurtwood, L.||Joicey, L.||Vaux of Harrowden, L.|
|Amulree, L||Leigh, L.||Wargrave, L.|
§ Resolved in the affirmative, and Bill read 2a accordingly.