HL Deb 21 June 1937 vol 105 cc676-90

Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee read.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(The Lord Chancellor.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly:

[The EARL OF ONSLOW in the Chair].

Clauses 1 to 3 agreed to.

Clause 4:

Salary of Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury and pensions to persons who have been Prime Minister.

4.—(1) There shall be paid to the person who is Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury an annual salary of ten thousand pounds.

(2) Any person who, whether before or after the passing of this Act, has been Prime Minister and has as First Lord of the Treasury taken the official oath prescribed by Section five of the Promissory Oaths Act, 1868, shall he entitled to a pension of two thousand pounds a year:

Provided that no pension shall be payable under this subsection to any person so long as he is in receipt of any pension under the Political Offices Pension Act, 1869, or any salary payable out of moneys provided by Parliament, the revenues of the Duchy of Lancaster or the Consolidated Fund of the United Kingdom.

THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY moved, in subsection (1), to leave out "and First Lord of the Treasury." The noble Marquess said: I rise to move an Amendment of a very simple kind, which arises out of the debate which took place in your Lordships' House upon the Second Reading. There is a provision in Clause 4 that if the Prime Minister is to receive the full benefit of the increased salary which the Bill provides, then he must be not only Prime Minister but First Lord of the Treasury, and many of your Lordships, when the Bill was before the House on the Second Reading, were very much astonished at this proposal. At first some of us, who were unduly suspicious I am afraid, thought it was a subtle method of excluding the possibility that the Prime Minister should sit in your Lordships' House. I frankly confess that the Lord Chancellor finally dealt with that particular case, because he showed by abundant precedents that there had been Prime Ministers in your Lordships' House who had also been First Lords of the Treasury.

We were very much impressed by that answer, but then we were left completely bewildered as to why the change was being proposed. Why henceforth should there be an effort to tie the office of Prime Minister to the office of First Lord of the Treasury? On the spur of the moment I ventured to ask the Lord Chancellor for what reason the Government had inserted this provision. His answer was that after all the Prime Minister had generally been First Lord of the Treasury, to which of course the reply is that if that has been so all the time why make any change?—it can continue to be so. There is no reason in the world why in this new Bill there Should be an effort to tie the two offices together. Then the noble and learned Viscount went on to say that the Junior Lords of the Treasury were Whips and therefore the Minister to whom they were immediately responsible ought to be at the head of the Treasury. That was exalting a fiction in our Constitution to a degree almost unknown to Englishmen who delight in fictions. Everybody knows that the Lords of the Treasury, the Whips in the House of Commons, have no more to do with the Treasury, officially, than they have to do with the Woolsack upon which the noble and learned Viscount generally sits. The Lords of the Treasury are only connected with the Treasury because that is one of the fictions which have grown up. They have one connection—they are paid by the Treasury—but that is the case with a great many other officers of the Crown. They have not even formal duties, as far as I know, connected with the Treasury.

The Lord Chancellor suggested that because of this time-honoured fiction that was a good reason why the Prime Minister, who is their immediate superior, should also nominally belong to the Treasury. In his case also the connection with the Treasury is very little more than nominal. We were, indeed, left completely at a loss to understand why this was done. We are driven to the conclusion that there must be some other subtle reason not revealed to your Lordships' House which led to this proposal, and I invite the Lord Chancellor to make a further explanation. Let me say that it is inconvenient and, if I may respectfully say so, a mistake to make these changes without due reason, because it is very easy to conceive, in the formation of a Government hereafter, that this provision will be found to be very inconvenient. I have never had anything to do with the formation of a Government, and my noble friend Lord Baldwin, whose advent to your Lordships' House we have all welcomed with enthusiasm, is not here to enlighten us. But it is quite conceivable that if it became necessary for the Prime Minister to be also First Lord of the Treasury a difficulty might arise in the formation of a Government.

We are conceiving the case which underlies the whole hypothesis, that we are wanting a Prime Minister in your Lordships' House. Supposing it was convenient for the public service that the Prime Minister should sit in your Lordships' House, and this Bill passed into law, he would have to be First Lord of the Treasury or he would lose £5,000 a year, which would be very hard on him. He would therefore have to be First Lord of the Treasury. Then the House of Commons might say: "If you are going to take the First Lord of the Treasury and put him in the Upper House, we shall want some other Minister in the House of Commons to make good the deficiency which there will be in our ranks." Everybody knows the pressure there is on a Prime Minister to give as many places in the House of Commons as he possibly can and for very good reason, because there is a number of men of great capacity and legitimate ambition who desire to serve on the Front Bench.

There is always pressure on the Prime Minister of the day, and those responsible for forming a Government at that time might feel compelled to make good the loss of the First Lord of the Treasury, which office would, on the hypothesis, be in your Lordships' House. But that might be very inconvenient. It might be that you want, let us say, the Lord President or the Lord Privy Seal also to sit in the House of Lords. It might be that there was a very eloquent speaker who, by his age or infirmity, was not suitable for departmental work and who might be wanted as Lord President in your Lordships' House. It would be quite easy, I am sure, for anybody of the ingenuity of my noble and learned friend to conceive all sorts of cases where such a provision might be inconvenient. Why then hamper the Governments of the future and force them to have their First Lord of the Treasury in this House supposing the Prime Minister were to be a Peer? The point is not of vast importance, but I suggest to your Lordships that there is no particular reason for this provision and, therefore, subject to whatever the Lord Chancellor may have to say, it would be wiser to strike this particular provision out of the Bill.

Amendment moved— Page 3, line 30, leave out ("and First Lord of the Treasury").—(The Marquess of Salisbury.)


Before the noble and learned Viscount replies, perhaps I might be allowed to ask for a little more information on the subject. Without attempting to adopt all the arguments that were used by the noble Marquess, I confess I do not comprehend what the precise necessity is for binding future Parliaments, in so far as future Parliaments can be bound by this Parliament, to a special connection between the Prime Ministership and the First Lordship of the Treasury. How far the noble Marquess is correct in assuming that one principal purpose of this provision is to prevent any member of your Lordships' House becoming Prime Minister, I do not feel certain. I see that it is most improbable in the immediate future that such a change in the custom which has prevailed now for a considerable number of years, whereby the Prime Minister sits in another place, is likely to be made. But I can quite conceive that it might be. I pass my eye over the now unoccupied Front Opposition Bench, and if in the future it should so happen that the result of a General Election placed a Socialist Government in power as the Party having the largest number of members in another place, I cannot conceive that a more appropriate or acceptable Prime Minister of that Party could be found than the noble Lord who leads the Opposition here. It seems to me that he would fulfil all the necessary conditions for an occupant of that position, without any disparagement of any of his colleagues here or elsewhere, far better than any other member of that Party.

I do not know how far it is presumed to be the purpose of this measure that your Lordships' House should be placed in the position that no noble Lord can possibly become Prime Minister. That is a point on which my noble and learned friend will no doubt inform us. My main point is that I cannot see the purpose of so rigidly tying down the choice, in the first place, of the Party and, secondly, of the Sovereign of that time, by making an absolutely rigid provision that the Prime Minister must also be First Lord of the Treasury. I have no doubt the noble and learned Viscount will be able to give a complete if not, to me at least, an entirely satisfactory reply.


I am afraid the noble Marquess opposite had not possibly the opportunity of hearing or reading what I had to say on Second Reading.


May I explain that, although I was unfortunately presented from being present at the Second Reading, I read the whole Report of the debate in the OFFICIAL REPORT?


Then I am afraid I did not make myself sufficiently clear on Second Reading, because I dealt elaborately with this point about the difficulty, or supposed difficulty, of a member of this House becoming Prime Minister, and I pointed out that every Prime Minister who had ever sat in this House for the last century and a quarter, with one exception, had always been First Lord of the Treasury. Therefore, I do not think that the fact that the Bill requires the Prime Minister to become First Lord of the Treasury does present any obstacle to any member of your Lordships' House becoming Prime Minister. From 1812, the date of Lord Liverpool, down to 1894 the date of Lord Rosebery, every Prime Minister who sat in this House, and every Prime Minister who sat in either House, with one exception, and that was Lord Salisbury in 1887, was always First Lord Such statesmen as the Duke of Wellington, Lord Melbourne, Lord Beaconsfield, Lord Grey, Lord Russell, Lord Derby, Lord Aberdeen and others have all been First Lords of the Treasury. I hope, therefore, that that dispels any suggestion that this is a subtle device to defeat the possibility of a member of your Lordships' House from becoming Prime Minister. I may say that if I had thought there was any such possibility I should be in favour of my noble friend's Amendment, but I hope that I have sufficiently disposed of that possibility.

Then the question was put to me: Why change? There really is no change, because you are in fact stereotyping what has been practically an invariable custom for all this time since 1812. There is the one exception when my noble friend's father was Foreign Secretary and Mr. W. H. Smith was First Lord. I have been at some little pains since the debate on Second Reading to ascertain how that came about, and I have found an account in Lady Gwendolen's Life of Lord Salisbury, and also an account in Lord Salisbury's own hand in a letter written to Lord Cranbrook, which is published in the latter's Life at page 273. Your Lordships will remember that in 1886 Lord Randolph Churchill, who was Chancellor of the Exchequer, resigned his office. Thereupon the Government was put, probably, in a little difficulty, but Lord Salisbury invited Mr. Goschen, as he then was, to become Chancellor of the Exchequer. Mr. Goschen accepted that invitation, and became a very successful Chancellor of the Exchequer.

At the beginning of 1887 Mr. Goschen was unwilling to abandon the title of Liberal, which I am sure the noble Marquess will sympathise with, and when Mr. Goschen accepted the invitation to become Chancellor of the Exchequer, he was not able to become Leader of the House in another place because he was not a Conservative, and there was a Conservative majority there. Therefore, Lord Salisbury had to find somebody else to lead the House, and he pitched upon Mr. W. H. Smith, who was then Secretary of State for War; but it was not possible, or it was not thought possible, for any one to be head of a great administrative office such as the War Office, and at the same time efficiently to lead the House of Commons, and accordingly Lord Salisbury had to find for Mr. W. H. Smith another post instead of that of Secretary of State for War. Lord Salisbury records that "I gave him my office," that is to say, the office of First Lord, in order that he might have a sinecure post, and Lord Salisbury took the Foreign Office because he had to have an office as being Prime Minister and a member of the Government. So that, so far from it being thought desirable by Lord Salisbury that the Prime Minister should be somebody other than the First Lord, or that the Foreign Secretary should be Prime Minister, what happened was that Lord Salisbury was perforce compelled to take the Foreign Secretaryship because he had to give up his office to Mr. W. H. Smith.

That is recorded in the letter which was written by Lord Salisbury to Lord Cranbrook on the l0th January, 1887, a letter in which he, incidentally, invited Lord Cranbrook to become a member of the Administration. This is what he says: I am sorry to say I have wholly failed to induce Iddesleigh to join the Government in any other capacity than as Foreign Secretary, and from that office the inclusion of Goschen necessarily excludes him. For Goschen will not be Leader, therefore Smith must. Smith cannot work War Office and Leadership together; therefore he must have my office "— that is that of First Lord— I cannot be left without an office, therefore I mast go to the Foreign Office. Then he goes on to deal with other matters. That explains exactly how it came about that Lord Salisbury was not First Lord of the Treasury during his later Administration. I think really that that exception proves the rule, which is an instance of exceptio probat regulam, because so far from the Prime Minister, Lord Salisbury, desiring not to be First Lord, he was compelled, at great inconvenience apparently, and obviously from this reference to Lord Iddesleigh, to take the Foreign Office, because he had to hand over the First Lordship to Mr. W. H. Smith.

Somebody may say: "Why should not that state of affairs happen again? Why should not another Prime Minister, in this House, find it necessary to find a sinecure office for a Leader of the other place?" I think the answer is that nowadays it is quite commonly the case that the Lord President or the Lord Privy Seal is in another place. Mr. J. H. Thomas was Lord Privy Seal, and both Mr. Baldwin and Mr. MacDonald were successively Lord President of the Council in another place. Therefore there would not be the necessity for handing over the traditional office of the Prime Minister to the Leader of the House of Commons by reason of the necessity of finding a sinecure office for the Leader of the House of Commons. When my noble friend Lord Salisbury says that the House of Commons would very likely resent the absence of the First Lord of the Treasury from their ranks, I think they would be much more likely to resent the absence of the Prime Minister from their ranks. I do not think it would worry them as to whether the First Lord of the Treasury was in this House.


The point is they would have one less office with which to reward the services of members of the House of Commons than they otherwise would have if the First Lord of the Treasury passed into this House. The only way to counteract that would be to take one of the offices (which is in this House otherwise) and to let it go to the House of Commons, but that might be very inconvenient because of the particular nature of the office in question. In other words, it would hamper the Prime Minister of the day, and force him to make a decision which is quite unnecessary, and which he could perfectly well do without.


The division of offices under this Bill does not provide for a separate office of First Lord in the Schedule. What is provided in Part I of the Schedule is that there shall be seventeen officers of the first rank, of which not more than fifteen shall be in another place, the others being available for this place. That would remain whoever was Prime Minister. I am rather inclined to say to my noble friend, instead of "Why change?", "Why not change?" Because we are merely doing in this Bill what has been the invariable custom, with one exception, which, as I have pointed out, rather reinforces the invariable rule which has prevailed for 120 years. In fact it has practically prevailed for a great deal longer.

In the old days the Lord High Treasurer was constantly the confidential adviser of His Majesty. The first Lord Salisbury was Lord High Treasurer in the reign of James I. I cannot say that the Lord High Treasurer was always the confidential adviser of His Majesty because in those days the Sovereign looked far more for some person friendly to himself than for a person who was the best person from the public point of view, but generally the Lord High Treasurer was the confidential head of the Government, the Prime Minister so far as there was one. After the reign of Queen Anne the office of Lord High Treasurer ceased to exist and from the reign of George I there were always Lords Commissioners of the Treasury. From the time of Robert Walpole, at any rate, the First Lord was practically always Prime Minister. I think there were two or three instances in the middle of the eighteenth century which were the only cases in which it was otherwise. So you really have an almost continuous record, from the time when the First Lord of the Treasury existed as an office, of its being the office of the Prime Minister.

But I do not put it merely as a matter of custom. There is a very good reason, as I think and as the Government think, for the custom having grown up and for the custom being perpetuated. The reason why the First Lord has practically always been Prime Minister is that the Treasury is not merely a financial body. I pointed out last time that of the seven Lords of the Treasury there are five who are Whips in another place. One of them is Chancellor, who is Minister of Finance and head of the Treasury in its financial aspect, and one is First Lord of the Treasury, who is head of the Treasury in what I may call its administrative aspect. While the Prime Minister is the head of the Administration and the person who co-ordinates the different Ministers under him, so the Treasury is at this moment the co-ordinating body among the permanent Ministries. It would be very inconvenient if the Treasury, as the coordinating body, was not ruled over by the First Lord who was also the co-ordinating Minister.

In the Report of the joint Select Committee on India—I think this was not a controversial portion of the Report—there is a statement about the Civil Service as it exists and is known in this country. This is what the Report says: Even the Cabinet has come to exercise only a very limited control over the Service,"— that is, the Civil Service— control being left very largely to the Prime Minister as, so to speak, the personal adviser of the Crown, in regard to all Service matters. So it is recognised in that Report that the Prime Minister is the person who is effectively the head of the Civil Service and the person who recommends to His Majesty, to the Crown, what is to be done about the Civil Service. In exercising these duties the Prime Minister is necessarily advised by the Permanent Secretary to the Treasury, who is regarded as head of the Civil Service in its official ranks, and it would be very inconvenient if the Permanent Secretary to the Treasury in advising the Prime Minister was not advising his own chief, the First Lord of the Treasury, or to put it another way, if the First Lord of the Treasury received advice from the Permanent Secretary and the Prime Minister was to the person to whom the advice normally should go.

On these grounds we think that this custom, which has grown up and has obtained for two and a half centuries and has been practically invariable for one and a quarter centuries, should be perpetuated. It has to be remembered that when this Bill has been passed the Prime Minister has necessarily to be linked up with some office. We think that it is far better that he should be linked up to the office to which the Prime Minister has been attached almost invariably for one and a quarter centuries, with the one exception which, as I have pointed out, is really an illustration of, rather than an exception to, the rule.


May I ask whether Lord Salisbury was not twice Prime Minister without being First Lord of the Treasury? I am inclined to think that in 1900 he was not First Lord but that Mr. Balfour, as Leader in the House of Commons, was First Lord of the Treasury. Lord Salisbury sat in this House as Lord Privy Seal, I think, but at any rate not as First Lord. That is a second occasion. It seems to me that one position which might arise is that the House of Commons might not unreasonably say: "We wish to have the First Lord of the Treasury, the controller of the purse, in this House." Is not that a possible position?

Then there is another point I would like to mention. There was a very good reason for the instance which the noble and learned Viscount quoted. Had Lord Salisbury taken one of the sinecure offices—I hesitate to call them sinecures, but one of the offices occasionally referred to in the Press as sinecures—he would have received a very much smaller salary. If he had been President of the Council or Keeper of the Privy Seal—those were the original titles, "Lord" only being correctly added when the holder sat in this House—he would have been upon a lower level as regards salary than any other member of the Cabinet. But under this Bill he would have received the same salary as his colleagues. It seems to me that that is a very good answer to the suggestion that it would be difficult for the office of First Lord not to be associated with the office of Prime Minister. Moreover, it was only in 1909 or thereabouts—as a matter of fact I think it was earlier, in the time of Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman—that the office of Prime Minister was first recognised. Officially we had no such office before. I do not know if the Government could answer that point.


I cannot see any harm in accepting the noble Marquess's Amendment. Why should we bolt and bar the door for ever to a Prime Minister sitting in this House, simply because there has only been one instance in the last forty or fifty years?—which was a very good instance indeed. One of the charms of the Constitution is its elasticity, and you are trying to do away with that by not accepting the noble Marquess's Amendment.


I do not know whether your Lordships will allow me to add one word to the debate. I am very glad my noble and learned friend the Lord Chancellor has given a much fuller statement of the reasons why the Government were led to put this provision in. It appears that the provision was inserted not, or not principally, because the Lords of the Treasury hold the office of Whips in the House of Commons, but because of the position, as the noble and learned Viscount said, of the Treasury in the Civil Service. He read an extract from the Report of a Select Committee, which found what we may most readily accept: that the Prime Minister himself controls the Civil Service. Undoubtedly he does, but that finding does not carry with it the additional conclusion that the Treasury controls the Civil Service. Your Lordships may believe me when I say that the Treasury have been making a strong effort for many years to assume control of the rest of the Civil Service. We have all witnessed that process. I do not think it was welcomed by the rest of the Civil Service. I doubt very much whether the other offices under the Crown would be glad to think that they were controlled by the Treasury. They are controlled in the sense that most of the things which they recommend have to be paid for and the Treasury provides the money; in that sense they are controlled. But the hegemony of the leadership of the Treasury over the other offices, and that of the permanent head of the Treasury over the other services, has never been really admitted.

I need not say that on a question of this kind I do not desire to press an Amendment polemically, but I suggest to the Government that they should consider this point. At the debate on the Second Reading there did not appear to be any reason worth mentioning why the change should be made, but I suspected what was the real reason, and what has now turned out to be the real reason: a new effort by the Treasury to get control of the rest of the Civil Service. That is undoubtedly what was really at the bottom of it. I have no secret information, my Lords; I am not indiscreet, but it is a conclusion which my own experience led me to draw. Is it wise, when we are really engaged upon supplementing the meagre pay of the Prime Minister and other Ministers for the immense work which they do for the country, to introduce by a sort of side-wind, by some dexterous suggestion to the draftsman, a few words in order to establish the Treasury as the head of the Civil Service? We should not have known it but for the speech of the noble and learned Viscount just now. He is, of course, much too candid a man to conceal from your Lordships what the real reason was. That is the real reason: this effort by the Treasury. I do not, of course, mean to press this Amendment to a Division at the present stage, but there is a further stage of the Bill, and between now and then perhaps the Government would consider the matter again.

I confess I should not think it was wise, even if I approved of this hegemony of the Treasury, to introduce it upon the back of a Bill which is designed for a totally different purpose. I very much hope that the Government will reconsider their decision. It is a great pity, and I think if they will consult the Civil Service they will find that it is not at all in favour of the hegemony of the Treasury. It would be far better not to introduce this very stormy topic during the passage of a Bill which is otherwise admirable. I would ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 4 agreed to.

Clause 5 [Salary of Leader of Opposition]:


On Clause 5 I should like to say a word or two and to ask for a little enlightenment. I do not propose to raise the question of the principle of paying a salary to the Leader of the Opposition. I suppose it is only in England that such a thing as that could be done or could even be thought of. I have no particular objection to it on principle; it seems to me that the difficulty is in carrying it out. My recollection goes back to the time, twenty-two years ago, when the Coalition Government was formed. Who was then the Opposition? The Coalition Government was formed—I have refreshed my memory with the dates—on May 26, 1915; and who became then the Leader of the Opposition? My recollection is that there were two. Mr. Chaplin used to pose as the Leader of the Opposition, and the representative of the Liberals was Mr. Whitley. On alternate days these two gentlemen used to take charge of the Opposition. I find that on June 3, 1915, Mr. Chaplin was the Leader of the Opposition and asked the usual question as to what business was to be conducted in the House, and so forth. On June 7 Mr. Whitley was the Leader, and he asked the same question. On June 8, however, Mr. Chaplin took command, and he retained command on June 10, but on June 15 Mr. Whitley reappeared as the Leader and took charge. Two days later Mr. Chaplin reappeared.

AS far as my recollection goes, which is, I am afraid, rather unsteady after a lapse of twenty-two years, the office of Leader of the Opposition was what you might call in Commission, but the Parties represented by the two chiefs of the Opposition were entirely different Parties and were moved by entirely different feelings. Now suppose that a similar state of things were to recur, who is going to draw the £2,000 a year? Are they going to divide it between them, and are they going to divide the money proportionately to the number of their supporters? The Bill contains a definition of who is to be considered the Leader of the Opposition: the gentleman in the House of Commons who leads "the Party in opposition…having the greatest numerical strength" in that House. How is that greatest numerical strength to be ascertained, and what is to happen if the two sections of the Opposition are equal, and there is no numerical superiority? Who is to decide the question? Is it to be Mr. Speaker? If so, why not say that the Leader of the Opposition is to be the person whom Mr. Speaker considers to be, for the time being, the Leader of the Opposition? What if there is no Opposition? There will then be no salary, because there will be no Leader. What if the Opposition numbers eight or ten, or a mere handful? We have seen that happen. It is not suggested, I suppose, that the Leader of a Party, we will say about the size of the Fourth Party, is to receive a salary. Those seem to me to be some practical difficulties which arise, and if the noble and learned Viscount from the Woolsack can throw any light upon these questions, I am sure I shall be very glad to receive it.


The answer to some of the questions addressed to me by Lord Ullswater is to be found in the Bill. He asked who was to decide which Party had the greatest numerical strength, and was it to be Mr. Speaker. If he will look at Clause 10, subsection (3) he will find these words: If any doubt arises as to which is or was at any material time the Party in opposition to His Majesty's Government having the greatest numerical strength in the House of Commons, or as to who is or was at any material time the Leader in that House of such a Party, the question shall be decided for the purposes of this Act by the Speaker of the House of Commons, and his decision, certified in writing under his hand, shall be final and conclusive. That affords an answer to some, at any rate, of the questions which have been put, and I think I can answer some of the others equally easily.

My noble friend asked me what would happen if there were to be no Opposition. I imagine that in that event there would be no Leader and no salary. I do not think that the Leader of a minority would be deprived of his salary by reason of the fact of his having only a very few followers. Probably, in some respects, his duties would be even more arduous and difficult if he had so tiny a following as the noble Lord suggests.


Hear, hear.


I think Lord Snell will recognise that there is truth in that. It is quite true there may be a difficulty in deciding exactly who shall be the Leader of the Opposition. We have done our best by Clause 10, subsection (3) to provide for that event, by asking the Speaker of the House of Commons to certify. If my noble friend asks me as to how the Speaker of the House of Commons finds out, he probably knows better than I do how the Speaker of the House of Commons finds out all sorts of things on which he has final authority in the House, and elsewhere.


I am much obliged to the noble and learned Viscount. I certainly had overlooked that particular subsection. But I do remember now that there was another occasion when I was Speaker of the House of Commons when I was asked to decide who was to be Leader of the Opposition. I think it was at a much earlier date than the time I have mentioned, 1915. On that occasion I was in great difficulties. I think it was at a time when the Labour Party came in in very considerable numbers, and I had to decide whether the remnant of the Conservative Party or the new Labour Party were to he considered the Opposition. I exercised the wisdom of Solomon, and I said: "The only way is to divide it." For some little time exactly the same process was adopted as was followed in 1915, that is to say, the office was divided between the two. As far as my recollection goes, Mr. Adamson was then Leader of the Labour Party. He used to act as Leader of the Opposition for one day and on another day—I cannot remember now who it was, it is so long ago, but the Leader of the remnant of the Conservative Party so acted. I have no doubt the Speaker will give the best decision he can but I think he may be placed in a very awkward and difficult situation.


I may tell my noble friend that the present Speaker of the House of Commons was consulted about this clause before it was put into the Bill.

Clause 5 agreed to.

Remaining clauses agreed to.

Schedules agreed to.

Bill reported without amendment.

House adjourned at eight minutes past five o'clock.