§ 2.35 p.m.
§ Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.
§ THE LORD PRIVY SEAL AND PAYMASTER-GENERAL (VISCOUNT ADDISON)
My Lords, the matter that is before us to-day has been discussed at great length in this House during recent months, and I do not propose to weary your Lordships by attempting even to repeat what I said myself. I will only remind you of certain leading facts, and confine myself to that. As your Lordships are aware, after several days of discussion, including an adjournment during which the leaders of the different Parties conferred on the matters referred to them, as the result of which a White Paper was provided giving the substance of their conclusions, and after further discussion, your Lordships rejected the Bill. Since that time there has been nothing new save one matter to which I will refer in a moment. The occasion of our meeting to-day is because of the provisions of the Parliament Act. The noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, last week described the holding of this Session as "a political manœuvre," but it is in accordance with the provisions of the Parliament Act that if a Bill is to be passed through Parliament under that Act it must be passed in three Sessions, and there must be two years between the time of its first Second Reading in the House of Commons and its final passage. It is in order to comply with the necessities imposed upon us by the Parliament Act that we have asked your Lordships to assemble now.
There is one new circumstance or condition attaching to our present proceedings which did not apply when we had 208 the Bill before us last—namely, that under the Parliament Act the Bill cannot come back here amended; it must be the same Bill as was passed in the first instance by the House of Commons, even, I believe, to a semi-colon, if there should be one. That, I think, must prejudice the case considerably, because it might so happen—in fact, I am sure it could so happen—that your Lordships and others might agree on some Amendments. However, when we are meeting under the provisions imposed on us by the Parliament Act, the Bill must be exactly the same Bill, and must not be altered.
There is one other consideration which is new, at all events to my mind, although of course it applied at the time we had our previous discussion. It was brought out in the interesting speech made here the other day by my noble friend behind me, Lord Shepherd. In moving the reply to the gracious Speech from the Throne my noble friend called attention to the fact that the present House of Commons are elected on a basis of franchise which represents practically the whole adult population. He reminded us (and I again remind your Lordships) that the House of Commons which passed the Parliament Act prescribing this procedure was a House of Commons elected, I believe, by about one-third of the adults of the country. I myself well remember, as will other noble Lords who went through the vicissitudes of elections in 1910 and thereabouts, how anxious Party agents were to discover whether this man or the other possessed the lodger franchise, or whether he was excluded. But all those things have gone and we now have a House of Commons elected by practically the whole adult population.
However, I am bound to remind your Lordships of a Resolution which was passed by the House of Commons elected even on the more limited franchise then prevailing in June, 1907. Although I mentioned it before, I think it is right to remind ourselves of it. This is the Resolution passed by the House of Commons:That in order to give effect to the will of the people, as expressed by their elected representatives, it is necessary that the powers of the other House to alter or reject Bills passed by this House should be so restricted by law as to 209 ensure that within the limits of a single Parliament the final decision of the House of Commons shall prevail.That was the Resolution of the House of Commons applying, as your Lordships see, to the life-time of a single Parliament. It is true that in the discussions which ensued a compromise of the sort to which we are all so accustomed was reached. The result was that the Parliament Act did not go so far as the Resolution, and left it open to this House to modify, alter or delay proceedings of the House of Commons after the Third Session of a Parliament. I notice that the powers of this House, as still possessed, which this Bill before us seeks to modify in a very small degree, were described by the present Leader of the Conservative Party, Mr. Churchill, in May, 1911, as "both formidable and menacing."
The proposals in the Bill before us, however, are much more modest than anything contemplated in the Resolution of the House of Commons which I have just read. The Bill before us goes no further than this: it really provides that for four years, instead of three, the House of Commons shall be able to pass through, within the life-time of the Parliament, the measures which they themselves deem to be necessary. It does, in fact, allow a delay to be interposed by this House for the final year—that is, for the last year of the life of the House of Commons. So it falls short, to that extent, of the powers contemplated in the Resolution. We also bear in mind, so far as the existing power to interpose a delay of two years is concerned, that its use has never been required or contemplated when there was a Conservative majority in the House of Commons. During the five years when there is such a majority there is single-Chamber government in excelsis—and it has never, in those circumstances, been anything different. We are now seeking to make a modest modification and to ensure that the House of Commons have complete authority over their legislation so that it is passed into law during at least four years of the life of a Parliament.
One of the reasons for the introduction of the Bill at this stage—and I will be quite frank about it—arises in this way. We have been asked so many times: "Was this, that or the other proposal of the Government according to the mandate 210 of the people at the General Election?" In our last debate I spoke at considerable length on this subject, and I will not now repeat all that I then said. I would again remind your Lordships, however, that so far as the majority Party in the House of Commons are concerned, we shall never agree that a non-elected Chamber shall be the final arbiter as to what is the mandate of the people. That we cannot accept. And I suggest that to try to enforce such an idea is to be blind to the drift of affairs in the world. The time has passed when a non-elected Chamber can claim and can exercise powers to decide whether a given proposal does or does not represent the wishes of the people. That must be the responsibility of the elected Chamber, without any derogation of the useful powers which this House possess—and will still possess under this Bill.
Your Lordships may remember that in the last series of discussions I, on behalf or His Majesty's Government, made a suggestion that if the Bill went to a Committee we should be prepared to consider Amendments which would make sure that this House had an adequate time for imposing delay or for consideration, subject to one condition—namely, that it should not jeopardise the authority of the House of Commons in the fourth Session. As your Lordships know, we have had lone talks at different times about the powers of delay which might be deemed necessary in order to give the people time to ascertain or judge an issue. Since then, we have had a remarkable illustration of how unnecessary it is to accept even what we suggested—that after a Bill had been read a third time in the House of Commons this House should be able to interpose a delay of up to nine months, if necessary, in order to enable the public, shall we say, to make up their minds. We had a striking illustration at the end of our last Session as to the hollowness of any demand for such delay.
Your Lordships will remember that a proposal to abolish capital punishment was carried in the House, of Commons by a large majority against the advice of the Government. I am surprised that noble Lords should laugh, because they are giving away their own case when they do that, as their case has been that the public required all these months to judge an issue. As the House are well aware, 211 there was a very vigorous expression of public opinion, so far as it could be expressed, against the proposal of the House of Commons. On two occasions this House rejected the proposal and the House of Commons accepted that decision. The point I am making is that the people of this country did not require nine months to know what the proposal was about. They ascertained it in nearly as many days, at all events, in far less than that number of weeks; and in that short period public opinion expressed itself with great emphasis. To my mind the suggestion which we made last Session, that if it could be part of an agreement we would be prepared to amend this Bill to secure that your Lordships' House would have at least that period of time before the final date arrived, was a very reasonable one. Our suggestion was rejected, I think I can fairly say, almost with scorn. However, we still remain fixedly of the opinion that it is an extremely reasonable suggestion. It was the limit to which we could go, subject to not prejudicing the fourth Session of the House of Commons.
I would remind your Lordships of one other objection which was taken last time—namely, that we should have some agreement about the composition of this House. That, as embodied in the White Paper, was a matter of discussion between the leaders of the Parties. That objection cannot be urged any longer. It was completely torpedoed, because it emerged that there was a considerable promise of agreement on this important issue of the modification of the constitution of this House. This was shown to be so in the White Paper. I want to make this observation on the very remarkable issue of the deliberations. It meant that, though for a long time past the Labour Party had said hard things about this House—a great many of its spokesmen had even gone so far as to say they wanted your Lordships' House abolished—the Labour Party were prepared to accept as a basis for discussion the proposals described in the White Paper. That was a very notable event. I say, with the greatest possible respect, that that unlooked-for opportunity may not recur. At all events, it would certainly be difficult to recall it. In my view that was a golden opportunity to deal with a great constitutional issue thrown away by a very short- 212 sighted vote. We still remain firmly of our opinion.
I am informed, through the usual channels, that a great majority of your Lordships have assembled to-day with the intention of repeating that vote. So be it. The only result will be to harden resentment and, much more important, to make more difficult than before the efforts of those who have striven earnestly to effect the settlement of this issue. I beg to move.
§ Moved, That this Bill be now read 2a.—(Viscount Addison.)
§ 2.55 p.m.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
My Lords, this is the great day of the present Session—what I may call Der Tag. This is the occasion for which we have all been called together. It is perfectly true that there have been during the last week, and that there will be during the remainder of the Session, discussions on such "minor" matters as foreign affairs, the economic situation, national defence, the situation in Berlin, the negotiations in Moscow and so on, but they are not the reason why the Government have called Parliament together. They are all subsidiary to the passing of this measure, the urgency of which, apparently, in the Government view, transcends all others. In answer to what the noble Viscount the Leader of the House has said to-day, I would say that our complaint in being here to-day is not that we have been called together to fulfil the necessary provisions of the existing law, but that the Bill has been introduced at all. The people were never consulted on it, and it could be justified only by some evidence of desperate need in its favour.
In the circumstances, I think it is perhaps unfortunate that the purpose which has made necessary the introduction of this Bill to deal, at the present juncture, with the House of Lords, is still wrapped in mystery. Apparently, like the company which I believe was formed at the time of the South Sea Bubble, it is "for a purpose later to be disclosed." Some of us have had (it appears quite unworthily) suspicions that it had something to do with a Bill to nationalise iron and steel. That was an illusion which was shared, I read, by even such a distinguished member of the Labour Party as Mr. Arthur Greenwood himself. But we have 213 it on the authority of the Lord President (though I notice that the noble Viscount the Leader of the House did not mention this particular aspect to-day) that that is "sheer moonshine" and that the Bill has nothing whatever to do with iron and steel.
I am sure your Lordships will agree that that makes it all the more queer that, of four vital questions asked of the Opposition in the debate in another place this week, one was, "Have the House of Lords been told by the Leader of the Tory Party to reject any steel legislation?" If the nationalisation of steel has nothing whatever to do with the introduction of this Bill, that question was surely entirely irrelevant and, I should have thought, almost out of Order. But as the Lord President has asked this question, I am very ready to repeat in this House the answer which has already been given by Sir David Maxwell Fyfe on behalf of the Opposition in another place. The answer, quite simply, is: No. There has been no question of any such instruction and, were it given, I assure the noble Viscount opposite, it would certainly have not the slightest effect upon such an independent body as your Lordships' House. We have received no instructions and we have reached no decision. The attitude we shall adopt on the question of an Iron and Steel Bill, if such a measure is introduced, will depend entirely upon the character of the Bill when it reaches us. But, at any rate, we are assured by the Government that the nationalisation of iron and steel has nothing whatever to do with the introduction of this Bill.
What other legislation, then, is in store for us within this Parliament which makes this Bill so necessary? It is evident that there is some measure in the Government's mind; otherwise why do they introduce what is called the retroactive clause, which applies only to the present Parliament? The retroactive clause, as your Lordships know, is a purely temporary device to ensure the passage of Bills during this Parliament, without their having to undergo the period of delay laid down by the Parliament Act of 1911. When the reduced period under the new Parliament Bill becomes effective, the retroactive clause will no longer be necessary; it will become a dead letter. We must there- 214 fore assume that the Government have some controversial measure in contemplation within the present Parliament. If not iron and steel, what is it? At one moment, I believe, the National Parks Bill was mentioned by Dr. Dalton. I do not know whether he meant that seriously or whether it was merely what we used to call "pretty Fanny's way."
It may be, however, that the Government have now in contemplation other proposals even more important than the National Parks Bill. If so, we ought to be told about them. We ought to be given some information, and the British people ought to be given some information, as to the nature of these unknown measures. What are they? Certainly we have not had much guidance to-day from the speech of the noble Viscount the Leader of the House. If he will forgive me for saying so, his speech—I do not mean this in any rude sense—was a mere re-hash of the arguments with which your Lordships are already familiar. He gave us no new light, and no new guidance.
The only semblance of an attempt to justify the introduction of this Bill was that put forward by the Lord Chancellor, I think, at an earlier stage, which has since been repeated by the Lord President of the Council. As I understand it, that argument is as follows. It is perfectly true that your Lordships' House have behaved with perfect propriety and moderation throughout the List three difficult years; but, though you have shown consistent wisdom and statesmanship—under conditions of considerable embarrassment to many of us—the Government could not be absolutely certain that that situation would always continue; and to prevent the possibility of any irresponsible behaviour, however unlikely, they thought it desirable to effect a further curtailment of the powers of the Second Chamber to prevent any possible interference with the Government programme.
As I understand it, that is the argument. But that argument, as I think Mr. Eden pointed out in the earlier stages of the Bill's progress, is, in fact, the doctrine of preventive arrest, with which the world is already painfully familiar in totalitarian countries. In those countries, as your Lordships know, it is a common practice to proceed against individual citizens, not because they have committed 215 any offence but because it is conceived possible that they might become inconvenient to the Party in power. It appears that this totalitarian procedure is now being brought into operation in this country. The structure of the Constitution is to be radically altered in order to prevent any interference with the despotic power of the Executive. If that is the explanation, then it is worse even than iron and steel. In that general form it is, I suggest, an open, blatant attack upon the liberties of the British people, who are henceforth to be deprived of an essential safeguard against hasty or irresponsible action by an extremist or—what seems at the present moment far more possible—a timid or incompetent Government with a temporary majority in the House of Commons.
I had imagined that the existence of some such safeguard as a Second Chamber was universally recognised as being necessary. But now we have an entirely new doctrine. The Leader of the House expounded it in a speech which he made in your Lordships' House on June 9 of this year. I hope he will forgive me if I quote his words. He then said:The fact is that we have agreed in this country to live under a system whereby Governments are elected every five years; and they are expected during that time to discharge their duties as well as they are able, according to the pledges they have made to the people, or according to the principles for which they stand. Then, at the end of five years, there is a General Election and, if the people do not approve, they select somebody else. That is the system.The noble Viscount seemed to assume that it was universally accepted that during the whole of that period of five years a Government with a majority in the House of Commons, though not necessarily in the country, should have an absolutely free hand to introduce and pass into law anything they liked, without check of any kind. The same view has been expressed, with, if I may say so, parrot-like reiteration, by the Lord President of the Council. He, too, at heart is a single-Chamber man. That is the inner meaning of the argument which he constantly repeats, and which was repeated by the Leader of the House just now, that unless this Bill is passed in its present form the Government's legislative programme will be hamstrung during the last two years of the Parliament.
216 To most of us that argument is utterly irrelevant. For if a certain period of delay is required during the first three years of a Parliament to enable the British people to make up their minds on a complicated issue, on what logical grounds should they be given a shorter period during the last two years? The only conceivable reason is that the Government fear that during the last two years the period of delay might run over into a General Election. But what is so very dreadful about that? After all, what would be the practical result? The British people, who, of course, are the rulers of this country under His Majesty the King, would have an opportunity themselves of deciding on the disputed issue. If they re-elected the Government, then the measure in question would most certainly become law. If they rejected the Government, it would be conclusive proof that they did not want the measure in question.
While I am about it I may as well deal with another question which the Lord President put to the Opposition. He said:What is the view of the Opposition about new, important and urgent controversial issues which arise in the fourth or fifth years of a Parliament?That is a perfectly simple, straightforward question, and it can be given a simple answer. The majority of urgent issues which arise at any time affecting the security of the State—which is, I imagine, what the Lord President had in mind—are not controversial. When the country in which we live is in danger there tends always to be an essential unity in all Parties. But were a vital, extremely controversial issue to arise, on which the people had never been consulted at all, then in my opinion they should be given time to form a view and to express it. Otherwise, a dominant clique in the House of Commons might well impose on the nation a course of action utterly repugnant to it.
I know that this view will not be acceptable to the Lord President, or possibly to the Government as a whole, for it conflicts with their pet theory that it is not the British people but the House of Commons which should rule the country without any check. I do not know whence the Labour Party derived that doctrine. They never advanced it when Conservative Governments were in 217 power, and, so far as I am aware, no constitutional authority would support it. Bagehot was quoted by the Lord President at one stage. But he certainly does not take that view. In his great work on the British Constitution, from which the Lord President quoted a passage, there is a long and elaborate argument explaining why an uncontrolled House of Commons might easily become a disaster to the country. I will quote only one sentence from it. This is what Bagehot said:A formidable sinister interest may always obtain the complete command of a dominant assembly by some chance and for a moment, and it is therefore of great use to have a Second Chamber of an opposite sort, differently composed, in which that interest in all likelihood will not rule.That is profoundly true. And Bagehot went on to refer to the Second Chamber specifically as a "retarding Chamber." There is not the slightest doubt that he regarded the power of delay as a main function of a Second Chamber.
Nor would Burke—whom the Lord Chancellor called in to support him—accept the thesis of the present Government. Burke undoubtedly held the view, with which I think all of us would agree, that Governments and Houses of Commons, once they are elected, must exercise their own judgment as to what is good for the country, and introduce whatever legislation in their view is necessary to further that policy. I do not think any of us would disagree with that general thesis. But, so far as I am aware, Burke never lent himself to the proposition that there should be no check upon actions of the Executive or the House of Commons, to ensure in cases of doubt that they really did represent the will of the people. It should be remembered that in the days of Burke—which is now a good time ago—there was a very effective check upon the House of Commons. The Second Chamber (the House of Lords) had at that time an absolute veto. They could at will produce a situation where the Government had either to drop the legislation in question or refer back to the people for the renewal of their mandate. That was a tremendous control over the Government of the day—a far greater control than exists at the present time—yet, so far as I know, Burke never advocated that that control should be either abolished or drastically curtailed.
218 Of course, we would all agree that times have changed since Burke's day. The absolute veto of the Second Chamber was destroyed by the Parliament Act of 1911, and all that is left to this House is a certain delaying power to enable the views of the people—who, after all, are the sovereign power under the King in this country—to crystallise and express themselves upon issues of vital importance, upon which they have hitherto not been consulted or upon which their views are uncertain. We, who oppose the present Bill, do not seek, in spite of what I think the Leader of the House suggested this afternoon, to override the views of the people or even to interpret them. But we do think it vital that some machinery should exist to ensure that an adequate period should be provided to enable the British people to come to their own conclusions. Otherwise we might easily get in this country, as in so many others, pure minority rule.
Take even the present Parliament. This Government, as your Lordships know, never had a majority of votes in the country. Even at the General Election in 1945, in the full flood of their success, the votes cast against them considerably exceeded the votes cast for them; and I think it is generally admitted—and it would be true, I think, of nearly all Governments within modern history—that they have lost ground since then. They have indeed a majority in the House of Commons; they are quite safe there. Either the Back Benches follow the Front Benches, or the Front Benches follow the Back Benches. Anyway, they all stick together. But is it really argued, in such circumstance;, that a Government who represent only the minority of the nation have an absolute right, or should have an absolute right, for the whole five years of the Parliament, without any check of any kind, to pass far-reaching legislation which may never have been considered by the British people at all?—well, no effective check; I am quite prepared to amend my remark to "no effective check." The harm done by that legislation might well be irreparable. It might be quite impossible afterwards to unravel the tangle they had made. That is not democracy in the sense in which we have always understood it in this country.
In the recent conversations, to which the Leader of the House referred this 219 afternoon, we, who represented the official Opposition, went as far as we possibly could to meet the Government. Indeed, to obtain an agreement we went further than many of us would have wished. We could not go further, and we cannot go further, without, in our view, stultifying the whole purpose for which above all a Second Chamber exists. The Leader of the House seemed to fear to-day that the limited power which this House has possessed since 1911 is likely to be used in a biased fashion, on account of the present composition of your Lordships' House. I think he said that it is already single-Chamber government when the Conservative Party are in power.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I think this fear is grossly exaggerated, in view of the experiences of the last two years. But if that is so, if the Government really fear that the present membership of this House acts unfairly against the Parties of the Left, if that is their real preoccupation, surely their proper course is not to reduce the powers of the House, but to reform its composition. Noble Lords on this side of the House have never opposed this. On the contrary, we have consistently pressed for it, because it is our convinced view that it is essential, in order to exercise these important powers—and they are important powers—to have a body who enjoy the confidence of the greatest possible number of their fellow citizens. Indeed, I think the Government will admit that it was owing to our continued pressure during the Spring that the Government very reluctantly agreed to enter into discussions covering the composition as well as the powers of the House; and the White Paper makes it abundantly clear that it was not on composition that those conversations broke down.
The Lord President in his speech in another place this week asked whether the Conservative Party thought it right that there should be a permanent majority for any one Party in the House of Lords. I was rather surprised that the right honourable gentleman used that argument, because he knows perfectly well—we made it abundantly clear to the Government in the conversations—that that 220 was not our view. Personally—and I believe I speak for the vast majority of the members of this House—we do not want to see a Second Chamber biased violently, either one way or the other. What we want is a wise, experienced body, able to throw in its weight against extreme action either by the Right or by the Left. That, we believe, is the only justification for having a Second Chamber at all.
But for such a purpose, the House must have certain effective powers. In a speech on the subject of the House of Lords which was delivered by my grandfather when he was leading the Conservative Party some time in the 'eighties, he used these words:You know that sometimes people put two locks upon their safe, and give separate keys to separate people. If they had the same keys and gave them to the same people you would think they were very absurd persons. But that would be exactly the absurdity of having two legislative assemblies which were bound to follow exactly the prescriptions of the Minister of the day. The one would be no check upon the other.And he went on to say in the same speech:To my mind there is no danger to liberty greater than would be involved in leaving the House of Lords destitute of real power, but possessed of that pretence of it which would lull the people into security, and induce them to allow the Prime Minister to have sway without supervision or control.That is exactly our case to-day.
If the Government had introduced a Bill the purpose of which was to give to the Second Chamber powers enabling them to act as a real check to ensure that the public will prevailed, and providing it with the membership best fitted to exercise those powers, they would have encountered no opposition in this House. On the contrary, we should have been very ready to co-operate to make the measure as perfect as possible. But the purpose of this measure which we are now discussing—if I may be allowed yet one more quotation—is:to strip the Second Chamber of all power, to deprive it of all consideration, but to leave it there as a solemn sham, a mere masquerade on legislation, in order to screen the uncontrolled power which the Government and the Caucus will exercise over all matters.To that we can never agree. I personally would infinitely rather see the Second Chamber abolished altogether. Then people would really know where they stand. My Lords, the White Paper itself said that this was a fundamental issue. 221 We live in dangerous times. We cannot afford shams. It is for that reason, and because I believe passionately in the maintenance of the liberties of this great and ancient nation, that I have no option but to recommend your Lordships to reject this Bill.
§ 3.19 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT SAMUEL
My Lords, the noble Viscount the Leader of the House, in moving the Second Reading to-day, said that under the procedure of the Parliament Act the Bill could not be amended, and that it must be passed textually in the same form as it had been passed in the previous Session. That, no doubt, is technically correct, but it is not entirely correct. If the Government had so desired they could, under the Parliament Act, have proposed in the House of Commons on the second presentation of the Bill that that House should suggest an Amendment—not make an Amendment, but suggest an Amendment—by which the period of delay in the Bill, if not a year from the Second Reading, might be nine months from the Third Reading in the House of Commons. That was a proposal which received a large measure of assent, not only in your Lordships' House but also in the Conference, and the Government would have been prepared to accept that as part of a general settlement. It would not have been in any way contrary to their principles if, in this short Session, they had passed that proposal through the House of Commons and if the Bill had come to this House with that suggestion added to it. Had that been the case, I feel sure—or, at all events, I hope—your Lordships would have given careful and respectful consideration to the proposal. That has not been done, and the Bill now comes back to your Lordships' House in precisely the same form as it was when it was first introduced in the previous Session, before the sittings of the Conference were held.
I know there are several members of the Liberal Party, both in Parliament and in the country, who regard this Bill as a continuation of the controversy of 1911, and as carrying one step further the process of curtailing the power of the hereditary Peerage to overrule the will of the elected Chamber; and they feel that it is their duty to support a measure of that kind. That is not the view that I 222 take on this occasion. I consider that we are back now in the same position that we were in when the Bill was first introduced into this House. At that time I described it as a bad Bill in my judgment. I said that the period of two years was not an unreasonable period and that it had been sanctioned by the nation in two General Elections in 1910. I made it clear that in my view, unless there were general agreement among all Parties and in the country that it should be altered, or unless there were a fresh mandate from the people, the constitutional arrangement sanctioned at two General Elections should not subsequently be altered in any important particular; that it should not be altered except by the same authority.
Furthermore, I pointed out that the period of one year WAS not, in fact, a year and, under the provisions of the Parliament Act, might on many occasions be reduced to three or four months—as would have been the case if this proposal had been in operation at the time of the Home Rule Bill and the Welsh Church Disestablishment Bill. I considered, moreover, that this Bill contained a retroactive clause and that there was no substantial reason to doubt that that clause had been inserted in order to ensure the passage next year and before the General Election of a steel nationalisation Bill. Indeed, I suggested that the title of this Bill ought properly to be "The Steel Nationalisation Facilities Bill." Further, I suggested that the right course to take was to endeavour to arrive at an agreement on the composition of the House; and I urged strongly that a Conference should be held to see whether such an agreement could not be arrived at.
I expressed the view at that time, speaking in this House on the Second Reading of the Bill in the previous Session, that if such a Conference were held it would be possible in present circumstances to agree on a plan for a reformed House of Lords which the nation would be ready to accept. I was very glad that both the Government and the official Opposition agreed with that suggestion. The debate was adjourned, the Conference was held, and—most surprisingly, to me—an agreement was reached on what appears to me to have been an admirable plan, which would probably have received the general approval of the nation as a whole. But 223 the Conference broke down over the question of powers—on what (again to my surprise) appeared to both the Government and the official Opposition to be a fundamental difference on a matter of principle, although it seemed to me to be a mere matter of detail and not one of principle at all. However, both sides persisted in their view, and the question came to the vote in your Lordships' House.
At that time we Liberal Peers desired to register our opinion as to what this House ought properly to do. We thought that this House ought properly to give the Bill a Second Reading in order that it could be considered in Committee and an Amendment might be insisted upon, to the effect, perhaps, that the period of delay should be a year from the time of the Third Reading in the House of Commons. We made it perfectly clear that we voted for the Second Reading only in order that there should be a Committee stage. The noble Marquess, Lord Reading, speaking for all of us on these Benches, declared that we should vote for the Second Reading for that reason, but that if the Amendment were not accepted we should reserve our right to vote against the Bill on the Third Reading. To my great regret, the official Opposition refused to take that course and, by overwhelming numbers, threw out the Bill on Second Reading. I thought, and I said, that they were making a profound mistake, and I still think so; and I am convinced that the future will show that that has been so.
This is the same Bill, unamended, as we had then. Now there comes this question. The Government have said more than once—the Lord President has said it and the Lord Privy Seal has said it—that it is nonsense to say that the Bill is preparatory, or mainly preparatory, to steel nationalisation; that it has nothing to do with steel nationalisation; that it is little more than coincidence, and that the retroactive clause was of general application and had no special purpose in view. If I were to see a pair of Siamese twins joined together by what a surgeon might call a retroactive membrane, and if the Lord President told me that those twins were really no relation of one another, and that they just hap- 224 pened to have met each other fortuitously for the first time on the previous day—well, my Lords, I am not given to the use of strong language, but I should go so far as to say, "Tut-tut."
The present Government, as we all know, are supported by a Party which consists of two elements. There are some millions of trade unionists, and a great number of co-operators (by no means all co-operators), who are just ordinary common-sense persons, inclined to judge questions on their merits. But there are also many thousands of intellectuals, who get their politics from books and not from life, and who insist on a theory of Socialism through the nationalisation of the "means of production, distribution, and exchange," to quote words included in the Constitution of the Labour Party itself.
The Government have, moreover, two policies. They have a policy of social reform, most of which is quite acceptable to Liberals, and several of their measures passed through the present Parliament have been admirable—Public Health, National Insurance, Town and Country Planning and so forth. They also have the other policy of Socialism—the nationalisation of industries, through the adoption of which they have made a great breach between themselves and Liberalism. They have two names; they are the Labour Party and they are the Socialist Party. Labour gets the votes and the Socialists set the policy. They have a split purpose—one might almost say a split personality. Lately, I was reading over again Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and I thought it was something of an allegory of the present situation. We all know our "Dr. Jekyll" in this House. Dr. Jekyll, of course, is an eminent member of the medical profession. Stevenson describes him as "a well-made, smooth-faced man with every mark of capacity and kindness." But Dr. Jekyll unfortunately became an addict to a drug—the specific in this case might be called "nationalisation"—which, after he had had to undergo agonising contortions, led to the disappearance of his personality and its replacement by Mr. Hyde.
So we see now the genial, benevolent Dr. Christopher Jekyll giving place to the sinister figure of Mr. Aneurin Hyde. I 225 hasten to explain that I use the word "sinister" in its original sense, "sinister" being, of course, Latin for the "left." What happened in the story? The drug got such a hold of Dr. Jekyll that he could not recover his own form and at last he disappeared, and Hyde alone survived. Consequently, we are to have the Steel Bill in the next Session.
However, we are not discussing here to-day the Steel Bill. As the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, has said, to-day and on previous occasions, we must wait and see it; and when we see it we will judge it on its merits. So far, the Government have not made any case whatsoever for the nationalisation of steel. If that industry is defective in possessing monopolistic characteristics, why do they not deal with it under the new Monopolies and Restrictive Practices Act which was passed by general assent this year? But, as I say, we are not discussing that; we are discussing the Parliament Bill. It comes to us unamended, in its original form, with no prospect of being accompanied or followed by a measure of reform of the constitution of the House. It contains a retroactive clause which makes it appear that it is intended mainly as a pilot for the Steel Bill. The reasons for our attitude were expressed when the Bill was first introduced. The position is the same now as then, and my noble friends and I propose to vote against the Second Reading of this Bill.
§ 3.33 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF GLASGOW
My Lords, I propose to keep your Lordships not longer than seven minutes. In my opinion, the Bill before the House is the most vital domestic question that this country has had before it for many years. I fear that the public do not sufficiently realise the magnitude of the disaster for them if it passes. What is the reason for it? In spite of the denials of Ministers in another place, it is just this. The Constitution of the country is to be altered because Mr. Aneurin Bevan wants the nationalisation of iron and steel. In order to satisfy the ideologies of Mr. Bevan and his fellow travellers, the Government propose to drag down the bulwark which for hundreds of years has protected the people of this country against tyranny and oppression. Your Lordships' House will become like a 226 trussed fowl, the only difference being that a fowl is trussed after it is dead. Symbolically, we are to be trussed alive and must be prepared to suffer a lingering death.
With one or two exceptions, I do not believe that, in their hearts, the leaders of the Government are in favour of the nationalisation of iron and steel, or of this Bill. I believe that few, if any, of the noble Lords opposite believe in these things. They know that it is fear, fear that the Labour Party will be torn apart, which has forced their leaders into the betrayal of the constitutional rights of a free people. The façade—a fake façade—of a united Labour Party must at all costs be shown to the world. The Prime Minister has received praise for the way he keeps his team together, but that aspect of his leadership need not present any difficulties for him if he is prepared to give way on matters which are detrimental to the country—for this Bill is not only an attack upon the Constitution, it is an assault against the principles of free democracy, which are that the will of the people shall prevail. There comes a time when the mandates from the electorate exhaust themselves. With what is practically abolition of the powers of the Second Chamber, any Left Wing demagogue with the heart of a Red Fascist and a lust for power can, by Orders in Council, change our form of government and tear to pieces everything which we hold dear; and the will of the people would be the last thing that such a man would wish to consult.
The reported statement by a responsible Minister of the Crown (to which I have already alluded) on May 17 of this year, that there was a moment when the Labour Party had to choose between revolution and constitutional government, cannot lightly be passed over. It shows more than ever the necessity for a Second Chamber with reasonable powers. Surely, the Party opposing the Government should, before the Election, explain to the voters the dangers of single-Chamber government and ask for a mandate for the protection of the people. If that were done, one of the matters which should, in my opinion, be taken into consideration is our unwritten Constitution which, in the opinion of many people, has outlived its time.
227 What is it that these planners, these intellectuals to whom the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, alluded, behind the Government, have in mind? Do they want Britain to have a general set-up and an economic plan based on the ideas of the Kremlin? Already there are 10,000 snoopers at work with powers to enter into every shop and every industrial establishment, and it is stated that a school for these people is to be established. Is this the beginning of the Secret Police? It seems that we are gradually being made to discard our own clothes and put on garments made in Russia—a hard singlet here and an iron jacket there. Soon we shall be so constricted that the only incentive to march forward will be the crack of the whip. If this Bill passes, no longer will the people of this country, when their liberty and way of life are threatened, be able to say, "Thank God, we have a House of Lords." Never before has the danger of the emasculation of the powers of this House been so apparent.
Finally, let me read to your Lordships a short extract from the letter of a Czech, which appeared in a certain review well known to some of your Lordships. This is what he says:You know what has happened in our country, and your worst conceptions cannot come up to the reality. All personal security is gone. There is no law to protect us. Those who are not Communists are outlaws. One is liable to arrest at any moment. Imprisonment means being buried alive, and methods are used which make a man a wreck, having nothing in common with a human being. They do exactly as they please with one, and the worst of all is that one never knows who is one's enemy.In this reminder I do not intend for one moment to imply that such conditions will come to Britain in the immediate future, but I do wish to emphasise that that is the hell towards which we are steering if this Bill passes.
§ 3.40 p.m.
§ LORD CALVERLEY
My Lords, I promise to speak for no more than a few moments, if only to reply to the noble Earl, Lord Glasgow, because I think his fears are unfounded. This House will never be destroyed by an outside body. If it ever does go, it will be because it has committed hara-kiri, or suicide in some form or another. That is my belief, having been in this House for only about three years and being something of a 228 backwoodsman. I would remind your Lordships that there is another situation in which this House might pass away—namely, f it had to carry out a policy when there was a majority in another place which it did not like. In 1906 your Lordships' House did not like the majority in another place, and did its best to cripple and cramp the efforts of the other House, the predominant House in this nation. The same thing applied in 1910, and Mr. Asquith carried through the 1911 Parliament Act which, in reality, could give this House powers to frustrate any efforts of the House of Commons to introduce capital legislation.
I think of the 1945–46 Session. That programme, in my opinion as an older politician, was overcrowded, but it was overcrowded because the House of Commons could not rely upon what this House intended to do. There took place the round table Conference, at which there was not merely agreement on a subject which had baffled politicians since 1912—that is, the reform of this House (the round table Conference nearly accomplished that)—but there was only a matter of ninety days, I believe, between complete agreement on the two sides. My purpose in inflicting myself upon your Lordships is to ask, even at this eleventh hour, whether there cannot be some second thoughts and some reflection, especially when one considers the magnificent victory of British common sense that was achieved when those men, representing the different political Parties, met.
Times have changed. Up to 1940, the questions were largely political; to-day they are economic. I notice the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, continues to bring to the public eye, and to try to make a capital issue of, the question of whether or not there should be a Steel Bill. It is a mailed steel fist which he sometimes hides in a 12 oz. boxing glove; that is what it amounts to. But in regard to that policy of daring the Labour Party to introduce a Steel Bill, and when the noble Marquess the Leader of the Opposition says "We have no indication about it," I would ask, "Why should the Labour Government inform anybody, except the mover and seconder of the Address what is to be on the programme of the next Session of Parliament?" The Labour Party and the House of Commons majority have the right—and if it ever 229 becomes a live issue, I am certain the people will confirm that right—to put before the House of Commons, and afterwards before this House, what they believe to be in the interests of the nation. I also believe it is the right of this House to analyse, to examine and to see whether any measure can be improved. The noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, referred to his illustrious grandfather. I continue to think of what happened, and also what might have been, when I go along the corridors and see portrayed the debate on the Home Rule Bill. I wonder what might have been. My Lords, time marches on. On the earlier debate on the Parliament Bill a few backwoodsmen turned up, although not many. There was one man I envied. He had come from the country, and I learned afterwards that he was of a great age. He was the perfect picture of a true English gentleman. He had come to vote against the Government, as he had a right to do. Sitting there on the Back Benches, he listened with rapt attention to the speech of the noble Marquess opposite. Then he whispered to his neighbour, "Who is that speaking?" On being informed, "That is the Marquess of Salisbury," he said "Why! he has shaved his beard off." My Lords, we are speaking to-day in a different language from that of a couple of generations ago. I appeal to the House, even at this late hour, to give this Bill a Second Reading and see what happens afterwards.
§ 3.47 p.m.
§ LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH
My Lords, the first point to which I wish to direct your Lordships' attention is one which has no direct connection with the merits of this Bill, but which nevertheless I think is one which your Lordships will consider to be relevant—namely, that an important constitutional change is proposed without any reference whatever to the electors. To get the matter into proper perspective you have only to imagine what the situation would be if the proposal had come in the converse sense from another political Party. Supposing a Conservative Government with a majority in the House of Commons had put forward a Bill to extend the period of delay from two years to three. I can picture what the Socialists and other people would have said. There would have been a tremendous outcry— 230 and quite rightly. It would have been an outrageous proposal to make a fundamental constitutional change of that sort without reference to the electors. What is the difference between that proposal and this, except for the curious thing that the Socialists always have a conviction that they represent the voters better than does anybody else? It is a most curious conviction. It does not matter what happens. I believe it to be pathological. I think that is a really important consideration of which the electorate should take note.
Turning to the merits of the Bill, I would like to draw one or two comparisons between this Parliament Bill and the Act of 1911, and, first of all, very briefly to deal with the substance of the 1911 Act. As your Lordships know, that Act reduced the life of Parliament from seven years to five years and substituted for the veto previously exercised by the House of Lords a two years' period of delay in direct relation to the five years' life of Parliament. By that means, it definitely left with the electors the right of choosing between the two Houses of Parliament in the event of an irreconcilable dispute. There is, in support of this Bill, a lot of talk about democracy, but what the Bill really does is to take away a fundamental right from the electors without their having been told it is being done. If that right is taken away from the voters of this country (never mind whether they number 7,000,000 as in 1911 or 34,000,000 as is the case now—that was one of the points made by the noble Viscount the Leader of the House) then I say that that is the end of bi-cameral government. We have a balanced Constitution, and it is vital to the welfare of our people that that balance should not be entirely upset—that would really mean single-Chamber government. I need not tell your Lordships why that would be dangerous—you all know quite well. The liberties of this people are at the mercy of an Act of Parliament. A simple Bill can change vitally the circumstances and the liberties of this people.
That is the first comparison which I wish to establish between this Bill and the 1911 Act. But there is another very important comparison, and that is with regard to the method of presentation of this Bill. All of your Lordships who are 231 old enough to remember the period will recall very well that two General Elections were held in 1910. There was a General Election in the spring and a General Election in the autumn of that year, and it resolved itself really into a simple referendum to the people on the Parliament Bill, which, in fact, had been read a first time in the House of Commons before the second General Election. After the second General Election, the Bill was re-introduced in the House of Commons and a great many Amendments were proposed, as your Lordships may well understand. There were Amendments to provide for the exclusion of all sorts and kinds of things from the operation of the measure. Altogether, twenty-three or twenty-four matters were proposed for exclusion, among them habeas corpus, trial by jury, Protestant Succession and Home Rule. Home Rule, of course, was number one on the list, but there were all kinds of things in it.
The Government of the day, under Mr. Asquith, in the House of Commons, firmly resisted every single Amendment. One Amendment, in particular, was pressed in the House of Commons but was defeated. It was to the effect that the machinery of the Act should not be used for the prolongation of the life of Parliament. Another Amendment was that no other constitutional change should be made by the operation of the Act. I was interested to see—I have been looking up reports of the debates—that in the course of resisting that Amendment Mr. Asquith did make the concession that:the presumption that a decision of the Commons represents the will of the electors is one which progressively weakens as time passes.What could be more apposite than that to the suggestion that the House of Commons must have a clear run in the fourth year? When the Bill came to the House of Lords that was an Amendment which was inserted by the Lords. The Bill went back to the Commons and the Amendment about not prolonging the life of Parliament was one of the few which were accepted by the Government.
Now I want to glance briefly at the arguments which have been put forward in favour of the present Bill. A favourite one—it was used by the noble Viscount the Leader of the House and was referred to by the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury 232 —is that we Conservatives say that this Bill will reduce our Parliament to a single Chamber. The Labour Party say that we have always had single-Chamber government when the Conservatives were in power and that all they ask for is similar treatment.
§ LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH
All I can say is that that is news to me. Perhaps the noble Viscount would like to intervene in order to explain.
§ LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH
I know it is not in this Bill. But the argument in favour of the Bill is that when the Conservatives are in power there is single-Chamber government. That is an argument which might have some force if we were discussing the question of the composition of this House. But we are not doing so. The Government had the opportunity of discussing the composition and of putting it in the Bill. They did not take that opportunity. Consequently that argument on this Bill, which deals solely with powers, is totally irrelevant.
Then there is an argument, to which reference has also been made this afternoon, which is based on the question as to what the House of Lords intend to do. That argument on the question as to what one or other of the Houses of Parliament are likely to do, when it is examined, depends on the judgment of the individual and as to the sense of responsibility governing the proceedings of the House. I notice that Mr. Asquith, in resisting a proposal that there should also be some safeguard in the Bill against any further constitutional change, said that he was against it on the ground that you must trust either House to have a sense of responsibility. The House of Lords have given proofs of their sense of responsibility in the last three years. But what are we to say about what we are promised from another place?
233 The Lord President of the Council said, in one speech—this was before he had made up his mind that this Bill had nothing to do with the Steel Bill—that it was not only the Steel Bill, there were lots of other Bills, and he added: "They" (that is the House of Lords) "do not know what is coming to them." That was his expression. And we have had other similar expressions from some whom I might, perhaps, without offence, call the wilder members of the Labour Party. We have been practically promised that the House of Commons will take very drastic action and will bring in legislation of what I should regard as a revolutionary character. Consequently, when considering the question of the future action of either House it has to be borne in mind that we have given our proofs while they have made their threats. That particular argument of the Labour Party, I think, does not cut very much ice.
Of course, everyone knows that the real reason for this measure is the Steel Bill. The Lord President of the Council says that it is not, but others, possibly less discreet, have really let the cat out of the bag. Mr. Woodburn, the Secretary of State for Scotland, at quite an early stage in the proceedings, referred to the Steel Bill as being one of the reasons, or, indeed, the main reason, I think, why this Bill had to be passed. And the Lord Chancellor himself gave us a glimpse of that cat although he did not let it quite out of the bag. Referring to the Steel Bill he said:it is common knowledge that the fate and the future of such a Bill has been canvassed and discussed amongst many of your Lordships. … I think the fact that those discussions took place and that the possibility of the rejection of such a Bill had been canvassed, was one of the matters … which once more raised this old controversy, which had never been deeply interred.I do not think there is much doubt about what that means. The fact is that the Government have given two excuses for the Bill, and they really have one reason.
We listened with the respect which we always accord to the speech of the noble Viscount the Leader of the House, but I could not help wondering whether, under that unruffled exterior of urbane magnanimity which we all appreciate so much and, indeed, if I may say so, love, he really is entirely enthusiastic for this Bill. I wonder whether, when he steps 234 lightly into bed to-night for a good night's rest, as we hope he will be able to do, he will not be grateful to your Lordships for having saved him from having irrevocably committed himself to the rôle of the Kerensky of the British Revolution. Kerensky opened the door to the Revolution in Russia and enabled the revolutionaries to impose on Russia a tyranny more absolute, more brutal, and of greater interference with the liberty of the individual subject than any tyranny which ever held sway under the Czars. This Bill is presented to us with a great deal of lip service to democracy. As I have tried to explain to your Lordships, I believe it is the negation of democracy. This doctrine of a five years' run is quite a new one. The doctrine that the majority in the House of Commons has a right to do what it likes in the fourth and even in the fifth year of Parliament (though I limit my argument to the fourth year because that is the claim of the noble Viscount) seems to me to be a negation of democracy.
I would ask the noble Viscount in his reply to address himself to this question: Which process better reflects the democratic principle—the passage in the fourth year of Parliament of a Bill through a House of Commons elected with reference to totally different questions, by a Party majority with all the resources of gag and guillotine and under pressure of the Party Whips, without any reference whatever to the electors; or the reference to the electors for their consideration at a General Election of some principle brought to their notice by the action of your Lordships' House, taken with a full sense of responsibility in such circumstances as they may deem right? Which of these two processes best represents the principle of democracy in which we all fundamentally believe? I do not know what the noble Viscount will answer to that question, but it is a question which the voters of this country are quite capable of understanding. When the voters realise, as they do not yet realise, what this Bill means, their answer will be decisive.
§ 4.4 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT ADDISON
My Lords, I do not expect that I shall be able to add anything that will influence any members of your Lordships' House to vote otherwise than you have previously determined. But, for all that, I have found very much 235 interest in the speeches to which we have listened. I think we may congratulate ourselves on adhering to the proposed time-table with such remarkable accuracy. I am not very clear about the question which the noble Lord, Lord Balfour of Burleigh, asked, and which he said the electors were clearly able to answer. I understand the contention is that after the House of Commons, with a non-Conservative majority, have played their part for three years, somehow or another this House will become possessed of a greater ability than the House of Commons to form a judgment on what the people really want. That is what the contention amounts to. I understand the noble Lord to say that the way to make sure is by an Election; but that is precisely what we are objecting to. We object to an entirely non-representative, non-elected, Chamber having the right to say when the elected Chamber should have an Election.
§ LORD BALFOUR OF BURLEIGH
I am sorry to interrupt—I did not want to—but the noble Viscount suggested that I said that there should be an Election. What is going to happen is that this time these issues will be the issues at the next General Election, and if the Election happens in the fourth year of any Parliament, that gives the electorate a chance to decide—a chance of which they will be deprived if this Bill is passed.
§ VISCOUNT ADDISON
I do not think that advances the case very much. The contention is, and the contention can mean only, that, by some sort of mental jugglery, at the end of three years this House is a better judge than the House of Commons of what issues should be referred to the people at an Election.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
The noble Viscount must really try to understand. It has been explained to him a hundred times. We have never claimed that we are better judges of what the public want than the House of Commons. We do not seek to make such a claim. But there are cases—I would instance the Criminal Justice Act—in which the view of the public may not be known, or where there may be indications that the majority in the House of Commons do not represent 236 public opinion. We therefore seek to preserve a breathing space to enable public opinion to be heard and the voice of the majority to make its attitude known. That is all we have in mind; and to say that we know better than the House of Commons is incorrect. We seek to provide some means by which the people may make their own view known.
§ VISCOUNT ADDISON
I am sure the noble Marquess would never be so inexpert as to put the matter so baldly as I put it, but I was stating the situation just as it really is.
§ SEVERAL NOBLE LORDS: No.
§ VISCOUNT ADDISON
The claim is not that this House are better able to say what the people think than the House of Commons; the claim is that this House should decide that the people should be referred to and that the existing Parliament should be brought to an end by a General Election, notwithstanding that the five years for which it has been elected have not elapsed. That is not a claim which we would accept. There is no compromise on that. While it is dressed up in the most charming phrases, the solid fact is that that claim has never emerged, and never will emerge, from the present House of Lords when there is a Conservative majority in the House of Commons. That is the plain English of it and we cannot escape it. We are really not so innocent as not to have noticed that. I am sure it is no good prolonging the argument on that trend.
I was exceedingly interested in the speech of the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel. It was kind of him to say those nice things about me. I know they were quite sincere, and I assure him that I shall treasure them. But I wondered about this Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde business, because on June 9 the Liberal Party in this House voted for the Second Reading of the Bill, and on September 23 they are going to vote against the Second Reading. They are the same people; it is the same issue.
§ SEVERAL NOBLE LORDS: No.
§ VISCOUNT ADDISON
I am wondering whether they are Dr. Jekyll at one time and Mr. Hyde at the other. But the perplexity extends beyond that. The 237 Liberal Party in the House of Commons the other day voted for the Second Reading of this Bill.
§ A NOBLE LORD: All four of them.
§ VISCOUNT ADDISON
I agree that they are small in number, but still, they are the Liberal Party in the House of Commons. So that you have the Liberal Party in the House of Commons voting one way, and the Liberal Party in the House of Lords voting the other way. If there ever was a case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, I think it is presented by the Liberal Party. I will leave it at that.
My Lords, we have had a very succinct and good-tempered debate on a great issue. Our claim has been stated as clearly as we can state it. There are none of those strange ulterior motives behind it. Mind you, this is a Government in the unprecedented situation that, after three years of power, in exceedingly difficult times, they have not yet lost a by-election.
§ SEVERAL NOBLE LORDS: What about Camlachie?
§ VISCOUNT ADDISON
Oh! Camlachie. I have been in politics for a long time—so has the noble Marquess opposite—and I do not remember a Government, with a large majority in the House of Commons, having been in power for three years, managing somehow or other to survive those three years without losing quite a number of by-elections. It is a remarkable fact. Therefore, to challenge the view of that House of Commons, that it is not, in what it proposes, representing the wish of the people, is a remarkable action. We want to see that the House of Commons, with a non-Conservative majority, has a fair chance. We are not claiming it for five years; we are claiming for only four years. That is the issue before your Lordships.
§ On Question, Whether this Bill shall be now read 2a?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 34; Not-contents, 204.239
|Jowitt, V. (L. Chancellor.)||Crook, L.||Milverton, L.|
|Addison, V. (L. Privy Seal.)||Darwen, L.||Morrison, L.|
|Douglas of Kirtleside, L.||Pakenham, L.|
|Huntingdon, E.||Foley, L.||Pethick-Lawrence, L.|
|Henderson, L.||Piercy, L.|
|St. Davids, V.||Holden, L.||Quibell, L.|
|Stansgate, V.||Kershaw, L.||Rochester, L,|
|Latham, L.||Rothschild, L.|
|Ammon, L. [Teller.]||Lindsay of Birker, L.||Shepherd, L.|
|Amwell, L.||Lucas of Chilworth, L.||Strabolgi, L.|
|Braintree, L.||Marley, L.||Uvedale of North End, L.|
|Calverley, L.||Milne, L.||Walkden, L. [Teller.]|
|Beaufort, D.||Buckinghamshire, E.||Rothes, E.|
|Devonshire, D.||Carlisle, E.||Sandwich, E.|
|Richmond and Gordon, D.||Dartmouth, E.||Scarbrough, E.|
|Somerset, D.||De La Warr, E.||Selborne, E.|
|Sutherland, D.||Devon, E.||Selkirk, E.|
|Dudley, E.||Shaftesbury, E.|
|Abercorn, M. (D. Abercorn.)||Fortescue, E. [Teller.]||Spencer, E.|
|Aberdeen and Temair, M.||Graham, E. (D. Montrose.)||Stanhope, E.|
|Camden, M.||Halifax, E.||Westmorland, E.|
|Exeter, M.||Howe, E.||Ypres, E.|
|Reading, M.||Iddesleigh, E.|
|Salisbury, M.||Lindsay, E.||Bledisloe, V.|
|Townshend, M. [Teller.]||Lucan, E.||Bridgeman, V.|
|Willingdon, M.||Macclesfield, E.||Bridport, V.|
|Manvers, E.||Buckmaster, V.|
|Abingdon, E.||Midlothian, E. (E. Rosebery.)||Camrose, V.|
|Airlie, E.||Minto, E.||Cecil of Chelwood, V.|
|Albemarle, E.||Munster, E.||Chaplin, V.|
|Amherst, E.||Onslow, E.||Cowdray, V.|
|Bathurst, E.||Peel, E.||Cunningham of Hyndhope, V.|
|Beatty, E.||Portsmouth, E.||Davidson, V.|
|Beauchamp, E.||Radnor, E.||Devonport, V.|
|Elibank, V.||Chetwode, L.||Montagu of Beaulieu, L.|
|Falmouth, V.||Clanwilliam, L. (E. Clanwilliam.)||Mountgarret, L. (V. Mountgarret.)|
|Hailsham, V.||Clifton, L. (E. Darnley.)|
|Hampden, V.||Clwyd, L.||Mowbray and Stourton, L.|
|Hanworth, V.||Clydesmuir, L.||Newall, L.|
|Harcourt, V.||Cornwallis, L.||O'Hagan, L.|
|Hill, V.||Courthope, L.||Oriel, L. (V. Massereene.)|
|Kemsley, V.||Cozens-Hardy, L.||Oxenfoord, L. (E. Stair.)|
|Knollys, V.||Cranworth, L.||Polwarth, L.|
|Long, V.||De L'Isle and Dudley, L.||Queenborough, L.|
|Marchwood, V.||Denham, L.||Ranfurly, L. (E. Ranfurly.)|
|Maugham, V.||Deramore, L.||Rankeillour, L.|
|Mersey, V.||Digby, L.||Rea, L.|
|Monsell, V.||Dorchester, L.||Remnant, L.|
|Ridley, V.||Ebbisham, L.||Rennell, L.|
|Samuel, V.||Fairfax of Cameron, L.||Rochdale, L.|
|Swinton, V.||Fairlie, L. (E. Glasgow.)||Roche, L.|
|Templewood, V.||Forester, L.||Rockley, L.|
|Trenchard, V.||Foxford, L. (E. Limerick.)||Rugby, L.|
|Wimborne, V.||Gage, L. (V. Gage.)||Rushcliffe, L.|
|Aberconway, L.||Gifford, L.||St. Audries, L.|
|Ailwyn, L.||Glendyne, L.||Sandford, L.|
|Airedale, L.||Glentanar, L.||Sandhurst, L.|
|Aldenham, L.||Grantley, L.||Savile, L.|
|Amherst of Hackney, L.||Greville, L.||Schuster, L.|
|Ampthill, L.||Hacking, L.||Selsdon, L.|
|Amulree, L.||Hampton, L.||Shute, L. (V. Barrington.)|
|Annesley, L. (V. Valentia.)||Hankey, L.||Sinha, L.|
|Ashton of Hyde, L.||Hatherton, L.||Somers, L.|
|Audley, L.||Hawke, L.||Somerton, L. (E. Normanton.)|
|Balfour of Burleigh, L.||Hayter, L.||Southampton, L.|
|Barnby, L.||Hazlerigg, L.||Stamp, L.|
|Belstead, L.||Hemingford, L.||Stanmore, L.|
|Bicester, L.||Hindlip, L.||Strathcarron, L.|
|Biddulph, L.||Hylton, L.||Stranthcona and Mount Royal, L.|
|Blackford, L.||Iliffe, L.|
|Brand, L.||Kenilworth, L.||Swaythling, L.|
|Brassey of Apethorpe, L.||Kinnaird, L.||Templemore, L.|
|Braye, L.||Layton, L.||Teynham, L.|
|Broadbridge, L.||Leathers, L.||Tovey, L.|
|Brocket, L.||Lloyd, L.||Tweedsmuir, L.|
|Broughshane, L.||Lyle of Westbourne, L.||Wakehurst, L.|
|Butler of Mount Juliet, L. (E. Carrick.)||Meston, L.||Waleran, L.|
|Middleton, L.||Willoughby de Broke, L.|
|Carew, L.||Milford, L.||Wolverton, L.|
|Carrington, L.||Monck, L. (V. Monck.)||Woodbridge, L.|
|Chatfield, L.||Monk Bretton, L.||Woolton, L.|
|Cherwell, L.||Monkswell, L.||Wright, L.|
Resolved in the negative, and Motion disagreed to accordingly.
§ House adjourned at twenty-five minutes before five o'clock.