HL Deb 25 November 1952 vol 179 cc518-33

2.42 p.m.

VISCOUNT SAMUEL rose to ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are now in a position to say when action will be taken to carry out the undertaking given by Mr. Churchill in the Manifesto of the Conservative Party at the last General Election, that the Conservative Government would "call an all-Party conference to consider proposals for the reform of the House of Lords"; and to move for Papers. The noble Viscount said: My Lords, before coming to the main business of the day, I think noble Lords would desire me to make a brief reference to the Ministerial changes which have been announced in to-day's Press, and which relate to several of the leading members of your Lordships' House. We are glad that the great anxiety which we all felt on account of the serious illness of the noble Lord, Lord Woolton, has been relieved, and that he is now on the way to recovery and able to continue in office as a member of the Government, although in a somewhat less heavy Department than that for which he had previously been responsible. Particularly in the year of the Coronation the duties of the Lord President will be greatly increased. This has involved the transfer of the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, from the Secretaryship of State for Commonwealth Affairs to the Presidency of the Council. But we are all exceedingly glad—and I am certain that in saying this I am expressing the feeling of every member of the House—that it has not involved his resignation of the Leadership of your Lordships' House.

I trust that as Lord President the noble Marquess will give close attention to questions of science—and I am speaking now in my capacity as President of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee—a matter to which Lord Woolton gave close attention and with regard to which many urgent questions are pending. I remember that the noble Marquess's grandfather, as Prime Minister, was one of the few statesmen of the latter part of the nineteenth century who realised, with great foresight, the importance of the natural sciences in the life of the community, and, further, that his kinsman, Mr. Arthur Balfour, was also well versed in scientific questions and greatly interested in them. He was, indeed, one of the principal progenitors of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, which now plays so large and valuable a part. I trust, therefore, that the noble Marquess in this, as in other matters, may carry on a high family tradition.

The transfers have also involved the removal of the noble Viscount, Lord Swinton, from his present Department to the office of Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations. That used to be regarded as a Department more of ceremony than of business, but it is far from that to-day—indeed, it has become one of the key positions in the Administration. We feel sure that the noble Viscount will bring to its work that energy and efficiency for which he has so long been renowned. Perhaps I may add that the whole House is pleased that one of our younger members, the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd, has now been appointed to a substantial Departmental office, that of Under-Secretary for Home Affairs, in which I have a somewhat special interest, because for over three years during the reign of King Edward VII I had the pleasure and advantage of occupying that post.

My Lords, I have taken the liberty of altering slightly the form of my Notice on the Order Paper to-day. It was put down as a Question, and I anticipated that little more would be necessary than a mere repetition of a Question I put some months ago and a brief Government reply. But in view of what was said in the other House recently, it seemed desirable that some arguments should be advanced in favour of reform of the constitution of the House of Lords. I also felt that other noble Lords might be desirous of speaking in a debate and would not wish to be tied to the extreme brevity which is customary in making observations on a mere Question. Therefore, I have now put down a Motion for Papers. I frankly confess that if anyone asks me what Papers I move for, I shall not be able to say, but the formula is consecrated by custom. At the end of the debate I shall, of course, withdraw my Motion.

In the first instance, let me draw the attention of the House not only to the present situation but also to the events which have led up to it. The Parliament Act, 1911, passed under the auspices of the Asquith Government at a time of fierce political controversy, had stood on the Statute Book unaltered and unchallenged for over thirty years, and was very seldom used. When the Labour Government came to power in 1945 they thought it necessary to ask Parliament to shorten from two years to one year the period of delay that could be enforced by the House of Lords under the Act of 1911. Accordingly, a bill was introduced in 1947 to that effect. Many of us thought that far more important than this comparatively minor adjustment was the large question of the composition of the Second Chamber. From these Benches we suggested that, this Bill having been introduced, it was an occasion for an all-Party Conference upon this larger issue. I confess that it was somewhat to our surprise that that suggestion was accepted, both by the Labour Government and by the Conservative Opposition, and a Conference was held accordingly.

The results of the deliberations of that Conference have now almost passed out of the mind of the public, and possibly from the minds of many of your Lordships. The Conference met on several occasions in February to April, 1948, and its composition was highly authoritative. On behalf of the then Government those who attended were the Prime Minister, Mr. Attlee; the Lord President, Mr. Morrison; the Lord Privy Seal, who was then Leader of the House of Lords, Lord Addison; the Lord Chancellor, Lord Jowitt, and the Government Chief Whip in the House of Commons, Mr. William Whiteley. On behalf of the Conservative Opposition those who attended were (I quote the names in the order in which they were printed): Mr. Eden, Lord Salisbury, Lord Swinton and Sir David Maxwell Fyfe; and, on behalf of the Liberal Party, Mr. Clement Davies and myself. It will be agreed that with the present composition of our Parties there could not have been brought together a Conference more responsible and more authoritative than one so composed.

If I was surprised that that Conference should have been held at all, I was much more surprised to find, on the part of both the Conservative and the Labour Party, a sincere desire to arrive at a solution. In fact, so far as the composition of the House of Lords was concerned, apart from its powers, we did arrive, at this Conference, at a complete agreement. A White Paper was published, stating the terms of that agreement and adding that if the question of powers could be satisfactorily settled those who were there present were quite prepared to give further consideration to the principles laid down, with a view to working out details and then submitting a definite scheme to their respective Parties. However, it was all rather too good to be true; and it was on the question of powers that the Conference fell into disagreement. As a result, it proved abortive.

The issue that had been raised by the Bill, which was then actually before the House and consideration of which was suspended only on account of the summoning of the Conference, could not be resolved; and although both sides made certain compromises, at the end there was still disagreement as to the length of time that Statutes ought to require before a Bill passed by the House of Commons could be brought into law over the heads and without the consent of the House of Lords. But at the end the difference between the two sides was brought down to three months, Unhappily, the Conference broke up because the two sides could not agree either to include or not to include that period of three months. This was because, from the point of view of the Party Whips, this three-month period was more important than might have appeared. With regard to the working of the Parliament Act, both sides agreed that, if it was to exist at all, it must give the Commons power to override the Lords during the first three Sessions of a Parliament, when the Parliament was fresh and had had a mandate recently from the people. This first three years could be devoted to legislation all of which could be passed into law in the course of a five-year Parliament.

On the other hand, with regard to the fifth year, the last year of a five-year Parliament, they were agreed that a measure passed by the Commons but rejected by the House of Lords could not be forced into law before the General Election was held. The only point of disagreement was the fourth year. The Labour Party insisted that if they came again into power, or were then in power, they should be free to govern effectively and to legislate effectively for four years—not for three; whereas the Opposition saw no reason to alter the Parliament Act in that regard. That was where the discussions broke down. Both the Conservative and the Labour leaders said that this was to them a matter of principle. It did not, however, seem to me to be a matter of principle at all; it seemed to me to be merely a question of adjustment and of political expediency, and it was not sufficient ground for allowing the whole movement for reform of the House of Lords to break down.

To my mind, this question of the fourth Session and the three months is insignificant compared with the far greater issue of whether the Second Chamber in the British Constitution should be one which, by its composition, its, character, and its influence, should be able to render adequate service to the nation in its political affairs. It seemed to me—though I may have been wrong—that while the leaders of the Labour Party and of the Conservative Party at the Conference were ready to join in drawing up what we all thought an admirable scheme of reform, both sides were a little alarmed, when they looked at it, by what they had done. The Labour Party leaders were not sure that their rank and file would approve of this; they thought that they would much rather leave things as they were; they had nothing to gain by a stronger Second Chamber and they would not be at all sorry if the whole plan miscarried. On the other hand, the Conservative leaders were probably aware of some uneasiness on the part of their rank and file in your Lordships' House, who were, perhaps, not very pleased to think that their own position, and the long tradition which they represented, would be swept away. I may be quite wrong, for I am not in the inner counsels of their Lordships, but it looked to me as though the tail would be likely to wag the diplodocus—and with a tail so long and ponderous the head might have found some difficulty in determining the direction in which that unwieldy saurian might propose to move.

However that may be, the fact is that the Conference proved abortive, although I do not think the measure of agreement that was achieved ought to be allowed to fade from our memory. It seemed to me the longest step forward that had been taken in the forty years since the Parliament Act was passed. With your Lordships' permission, I should like to remind those of you who have not these facts in mind what the proposals were. They were very succinctly stated in a White Paper of 1948 (Cmd. 7380). If your Lordships will allow me, as they are quite brief, I will read them, because the whole matter depends on the opinion that is formed with regard to these proposals. The proposals are these:

  1. "(1) The Second Chamber should be complementary to and not a rival to the Lower House, and, with this end in view, the reform of the House of Lords should be based on a modification of its existing constitution as opposed to the establishment of a Second Chamber of a completely new type based on some system of election.
  2. (2) The revised constitution of the House of Lords should be such as to secure as far as practicable that a permanent majority is not assured for any one political Party.
  3. (3) The present right to attend and vote based solely on heredity should not by itself constitute a qualification for admission to a reformed Second Chamber.
  4. (4) Members of the Second Chamber should be styled 'Lords of Parliament' and would be appointed on grounds of personal distinction or public service. They might be drawn either from Hereditary Peers, or from Commoners who would be created Life Peers.
  5. (5) Women should be capable of being appointed Lords of Parliament in like manner as men.
  6. (6) Provision should be made for the inclusion in the Second Chamber of certain descendants of the Sovereign, certain Lords Spiritual and the Law Lords.
  7. (7) In order that persons without private means should not be excluded, some remuneration would be payable to members of the Second Chamber.
  8. (8) Peers who were not Lords of Parliament should be entitled to stand for election to the House of Commons, and also to vote at elections in the same manner as other citizens.
  9. (9) Some provision should be made for the disqualification of a member of the Second Chamber who neglects, or becomes no longer able or fitted, to perform his duties as such."
Those various provisions were adopted in order to make it clear that it was not proposed to set up a new Second Chamber which could in any way become a rival to the House of Commons. The House of Commons would remain the sole representative body elected by the people.

The reason why these proposals are made is that many of us feel that the present constitution of the House of Lords is quite indefensible. We have now somewhere in the neighbourhood of 880 members of your Lordships' House, while the membership of the House of Commons is somewhat over 600. In a few years, at the present rate of creations, we shall reach 1,000 members. Of these, about one-quarter are appointed: they are either the first Peers of a creation, Law Lords or Bishops or certain others who are chosen for their own personal merits. The other three-quarters sit by hereditary right—or rather more than three-quarters, I believe. No doubt, a large proportion of those possess the other qualifications that would be regarded as fitting them for membership of a new House of Lords; but the fact remains that those who do not possess those qualifications are, by hereditary right, equal members of the House of Lords with any of the others.

In recent years, your Lordships' House has been made more representative by the addition of a certain number of members drawn from those who are generally known as the working classes. Altogether, I believe there are twenty-five now; but what is twenty-five among 800? If all the 800 were to attend, the institution would collapse at once; it would be quite impossible to legislate with so unwieldy an assembly. We are saved from that by the non-attendance of the majority of the members of your Lordships' House, a great number of whom have other duties in local government or in other affairs which keep them away from this House. Others have professional duties which require their constant attendance. Now that the class of the "idle rich," of which the Peerage were regarded as the principal representatives, has disappeared, it becomes more and more difficult for members of your Lordships' House to practise regular attendance. But, in fact, the working of the House is made possible only by the absenteeism of a large number of members, and we should be grateful to those who grace the meetings of this House by their absence.

It is said that the House of Lords works very well. Whenever this subject is debated, my noble friend sitting by me, Lord Strabolgi, usually interjects: "It works very well." It does, up to a point. In dealing with Private Bill legislation, our Committees render most useful service, and in the Committee stage of important Public Bills your Lordships constitute an admirable Revising Chamber. Our debates on general subjects of various kinds, which the other House of Parliament is often not able to hold because of the pressure of business, are often of great service in ventilating questions and in paving the way to legislative action. But where controversial issues are involved—and at any time new ones may arise—the House of Lords is greatly handicapped by the knowledge throughout the nation that one Party enjoys a permanent majority in this House. That is why in the conclusions which I have read out to your Lordships we all agreed that one principle should be that in any future Assembly a permanent majority should not be assured to any one political Party. For a hundred years, your Lordships' House has been regarded as politically an annexe of the Conservative Party. That being so, it is unable to carry with the rank and file of the nation the same authority and influence that would be desirable in a Second Chamber. Furthermore, the hereditary principle, in itself, is it rational as a method of choosing legislators, and this is the only Chamber in the world which still retains the character of mediaeval Parliaments in that regard.

Again, it is proposed in the reforms to be effected that women should be made eligible. With a Queen on the Throne, with women Members of the House of Commons, with all the professions and local authorities open to women, and with the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act having been passed in 1919, it is surely an anomaly that there should be one body, and that a House of Parliament, from which women are now excluded. And not only can no women be appointed to your Lordships' House—in the 500 new Peerages created during this century, not one has been granted to a woman—even those ladies who have inherited some of the ancient Peerages, and one or two modern ones which have not passed to remainders of the descendants of the male sex—even these Peeresses now, although Peeresses in every other regard before the law, are not allowed to sit in your Lordships' House and to vote here.

The danger which is seen in the reform of the House of Lords, in granting them too much power as against the people, is, I think, an empty fear. The electors may say, "Who are these people to govern us? They are not appointed by us." The answer would be that they would have no more power than the present House of Lords—that is, if the proposal with regard to the three months is agreed to. And even if the proposal is changed, it would make practically no difference. What formal powers they have would not be important. What would be important is that the new House, by its composition, the character of its members and its influence, would hold a position in our public affairs most useful to the nation. It would retain the name of the House of Lords; it would carry on its traditions, its procedure and its ceremonies, but it would not be exposed to the same prejudice, in the eyes of the nation on account of the part which it had played in the past in Party politics. Commanding a greaser respect from the whole people, it would be able to render greater service to the nation.

It was agreed in the Conference, informally, that the first new body of Peers would be nominated for Life Peerages by agreement, the Parties to some extent being represented on a fair basis, with the great majority possibly including people who had no special Party allegiance. It was recognised to be important that the Second Chamber should not degenerate into a senate of old men, that it should not fall into senility and become a sort of asylum for octogenerians, but that we must retain the element of youth and energy which is now to be found by the casual inheritance of peerages by younger men. I think the suggestion was that many of your Lordships' present House who have made their mark here, or who show promise of making their mark here, should certainly be among those nominated to the new Assembly, and that due regard should always be had to the danger of senility.

That is the background to the question that I am asking. The foreground is constituted by a sentence in the Election Manifesto of the Conservative Party before the last Election, the Election which sent the present House of Commons to Westminster. In that sentence Mr. Winston Churchill, who was the sole signatory of the document, said this: We shall call an all-Party Conference to consider proposals for the reform of the House of Lords. The question that I am now asking is, when is that to be? I put the same question previously, on May 6 of this year. I allowed more than a year to pass for the Government to settle down and to collect their thoughts before bringing up this matter. But on May 6, I asked; when is it proposed to take steps to that end? The answer then given by the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, was as soon as they have taken the necessary measures to deal with the more urgent tasks with which the present economic situation of the country confronts them. Well, when will that be? As things are now, the economic situation is always more urgent than a constitutional question. Ten years hence my successor who will be on this Bench may still be addressing the same Question annually to the Leader of the House and receiving the same reply—indeed, by that time it may have been reduced to the status of a Written Question, "Not for Oral Answer."

My Lords, in any case, the holding of the Conference would take some time, and after that there must be time for public thought with regard to the matter. Parliament is not likely to be engaged upon this question for a considerable period after the decision has been taken to summon the Conference itself. No doubt senior members of the Government would be required to spend some time in the deliberations of the Conference, but I do not think that Parliament need be asked to divert any of its attention from economic questions for some time after the Conference was constituted.

To sum up, I trust that the work done by the Conference of four years ago may not prove wholly valueless. Surely it is a remarkable thing that the principal leaders of the three Parties should have unanimously agreed on what kind of second Chamber we ought to have, but should have disagreed on what surely is a comparatively minor point. Perhaps we never shall" recapture the first fine careless rapture" of that Conference and the spirit of sweet reasonableness and responsible statesmanship which informed it, but I suggest that at least we might make an attempt. I beg to move for Papers.

3.14 p.m.


My Lords, in the first place I should like to identify myself with the message of good will which the noble Viscount gave to the new Ministers, and to wish them all luck in their respective spheres of duty. The next thing I want to say is that I regard it as a little unfortunate that the noble Viscount should, at the very last moment, translate what had been a mere Question into a Motion. It is inconvenient for this reason: that the matter assumes altogether more importance, and had I known that there was to be this sort of discussion, I should have desired to consult with my colleagues to find out what the position is. Your Lordships must understand, therefore, that, speaking as I do at the present moment, I am not attempting to speak with authority, for I have had no opportunity to find out what the views of my fellows are. I think that is a little inconvenient.

But, speaking with that qualification, I should like to say that I personally and, I think, all my colleagues are anxious not to have an increase in the powers of the House of Lords. I do not think the noble Viscount is asking for any increase in powers. I speak quite frankly when I say that one of the guarantees against an increase in powers is the utterly illogical composition of the House of Lords at the present time. If you were to say, "Let us go back to the old system of 1911,"people would say, "What! With a House of Lords constituted like that?" On the other hand, if we constituted a much neater and tidier House of Lords, should we have any security against its being said: "Now we have such a nice, tidy little House of Lords we can give it much greater powers "? That is one embarrassment that I feel. If we went into a further Conference, I think we should want to be assured that it was not the first step in a scheme to confer upon the House of Lords much larger powers than it has to-day.

The second point that I want to make quite plainly is that if we went into a Conference we should want to go, as I am sure the Conservative Party would, too, on the same principle as we went before—namely, that it was to be ad referendum. The noble Viscount referred to our having reached complete agreement, but I think that is an entire misapprehension of what we decided to do. I have the recommendations before me. The words are these: If it had been possible to achieve general agreement over the whole field of Powers and Composition, the Party representatives would have been prepared to give the following proposals further consideration, so as to see whether the necessary details could be worked out, and, if so, to submit them, as part of such an agreement, to their respective Parties. That was all that we attempted to agree upon, and if we do have a further Conference at the present time I am perfectly certain that it is only on that basis that we shall desire to take part in it. I should imagine that what I have just said applies equally to the Government, and I think to the Liberal Party, too. Those are the two qualifications. Subject to that, if it was thought that the time had arisen when it was desirable that there should be a continuation of this Conference, then, so far as I know, on those bases we should be perfectly prepared to take part.

When we introduced the Parliament Bill in 1948, the noble Marquess moved an Amendment to the effect: That this House, while re-emphasising its oft-expressed readiness to consider proposals for modifying the basis of its membership which may conduce to the more effective performance of its constitutional duties …"— and then he set out various qualifications. After all, that is the basis of the whole thing. We must be certain that the proposals we are envisaging will give us the chance of a more effective performance of our constitutional duties, otherwise there is no point in it at all.

May we stop to consider for one moment whether our constitutional duties to-day are well carried out or not? Here, speaking for myself, I am bound to say that the wide composition of the House is in itself a source of strength. My experience of the House has been that if any odd and bizarre subject comes up—let us say, potato growing in Peru, or something of that sort—you will find arriving in the House some noble Lord whom you do not know by sight, but who in the early part of his life engaged in potato growing in Peru. That happens repeatedly; we all know that it happens. The fact that such people can come and give us first-hand information of their experience is, I venture to think, of great value to us, and I believe we should be in danger of losing that advantage.

For my own part, I consider that in the last Parliament this House performed its duties of revision exceedingly well. I quoted to your Lordships on June 8, 1948, these rather surprising figures. I was dealing with the main Bills which we had passed in 1946 and 1947, and I found out that in those two years we had moved and carried, on one side or the other, no fewer than 1,222 Amendments on those Bills alone. And of those 1,222 Amendments, some of them moved by the Government and to meet Opposition wishes, and some moved by the Opposition and carried against the Government, only fifty-seven were rejected when they went down to another place. That is a rather remarkable achievement. In those circumstances, I do not think there was shown to be very much wrong with the composition of the House of Lords. We have to remember that we are not a very logical people. I do not think we approach any of our institutions from the point of view of asking; "Is this entirely logical?" We approach any of our institutions rather from the point of view of asking; "Does it work?"

The Board of Trade, over which the noble Viscount used to preside, was, in fact, a body of which I think the Archbishop of Canterbury and a number of other people were members. This was, no doubt, very illogical, but it worked very well—I hesitate to say because the Archbishop did not attend, but perhaps it was because others did not attend. Even the great office of Lord Chancellor is a highly illogical office, yet I venture to think that wise people would not want to alter it, because it works very well. In our enthusiasm we ought to stop and consider whether we can be sure that this new body would be one which would be able more effectively to perform its constitutional duties. I think we have to watch that point.

The other point which the noble Marquess made in his Motion was this. He said of the Parliament Bill at that time that the constitutional issue would serve only to distract the attention of the country from the economic crisis and from the united effort towards recovery which was so vital at that time. I apprehend that the noble Marquess will say that a united effort towards recovery is—I will not say even more vital, but at least as vital now as it was then. All these things are factors which should be borne in mind and which should prevent our getting too enthusiastic about this matter—enthusiastic up to the point where we do not see the difficulties. On the other hand, speaking for myself, I should like to see the composition of the House altered. For instance, I think it utterly wrong that we should not have women here. I remember that I had the privilege of sitting in the Cabinet with the late Miss Ellen Wilkinson, and there were occasions when certain questions came up, and her special knowledge was of the greatest value. To give your Lordships an example, I recall that there was once a question of the amount of bread a normal family consumed, or something of that sort. The male members of the Cabinet were able only to wonder about it, but Miss Wilkinson was able to tell us at once. That is just a small illustration. I believe it would be most valuable to have women taking part in our debates here, and that is one reform which I should like to see.

Again, speaking for myself, I had, as your Lordships know, a number of years' experience as Lord Chancellor and I have now had experience from the Opposition point of view; and this experience rather leads me to think that there may be something wrong. I believe that what is wanted more than a change in the composition of the House is an improvement in the conventions and the practice of the House. Of course, when I was speaking for the Government, as Lord Chancellor, I was speaking with a vast majority against me. I do not know whether I am naturally a rather reasonably-minded person—I hope I am—but, at any rate, in those circumstances I was forced to be reasonable. So far as I possibly could, I had to agree with my adversaries quickly. As many of your Lordships will remember, I used to get them round to my room and we would thresh out our problems frankly and in the most friendly way. Very often I used to be able to meet them on all sorts of topics. If I could not, I explained why it was not possible for me to do so. Sometimes I used to go round to Ministers to try to get them to give way. And the net result of all this was very satisfactory.

But to-day the position is altered. There is no such pressing necessity on noble Lords on the other side of the House to try to meet us, because they can easily put their Bills through. Whereas I had to dodge and manœuvre to try to get a Bill through by concession and good will, they can bludgeon their Bills through. In saying this, be it understood, I do not want to make any charges at all; but I am bound to say that with regard to one Bill recently I did feel that we were not met at all, and we did not have a chance, I thought, of expressing our point of view. We were not summoned to any sort of conference. It was, I thought, typically a Bill on which had we been summoned to a conference we might have gone a long way to get together. I am one of those people who believe that the function of this House ought to be to seek a reasonable compromise between two, possibly harsh, opposing points of view.


I am loath to interrupt the noble Earl, but I must remind him that his Party never asked for a conference on that particular Bill.


I am giving the noble Marquess only my impression. If we could have met, we might have been able to improve the Bill. At any rate, that was my impression. Your Lordships will remember that, owing to the exigencies of time, actually the Third Reading and the Report stage came on the same day, so that there was no opportunity of exercising the privilege which this House normally enjoys of moving Amendments on Third Reading. I am not in the least seeking to complain or to make any grievance. I am trying only to point out that that is the sort of thing which, by meeting together, we ought to try to avoid in the near future when we have, as we shall have, some very important Bills coming forward—Bills dealing with transport and steel and the like. In spite of the fact that the Government have a great majority here, I hope in the interests of everyone they will try to meet us, as we used to do in the old days in different circumstances, to see whether we cannot hammer out some kind of agreement.

That does not entail any alteration in the composition of the House itself, but does involve some improvement and some development, perhaps, of the system of consultation and the like which we had in the old days. That is what I suggest is wanted, because I think the real criticism of this House—and I say this quite frankly—is that whereas when the Labour Party was in power we had a most effective debating Second Chamber here—all our Bills had to be tested in the way I have described—when the Conservative Party is in power, as used to be said by the Liberals, I think with some truth, we have virtually Single-Chamber Government. I am strongly in favour of Double-Chamber Government. I believe the Second Chamber is of great value. But I should like to see a Second Chamber which is a Second Chamber all the time; not only when the Liberals or the Labour Party are in power, but equally when the Conservatives are in power.

I have indicated, speaking for myself, what I feel at the present time are the two principles on which we should proceed—namely, that there is no question of dealing with powers, and it is nothing more than ad referendum. I for my part, and I hope I speak also for my Party, shall be prepared, if and when invited, to embark on further discussions when the noble Marquess thinks the time has come, if indeed he thinks the time is ever going to come. In the meantime, I hope that the hint I have given—and, as I have said, I do not mean to make any complaint but only to give an illustration—may be accepted. I hope we shall work out machinery, develop a tradition and develop a practice of greater consultation, of seeking to struggle towards a compromise, where all views can be met, with our existing composition. I believe that that would be a far more important contribution towards improving this Second Chamber than any other we could make. I have travelled about the world a good deal and I have discussed this question of a Second Chamber in the Dominions. I find that the view generally held, which I confess I hold myself, is that our Second Chamber compares very favourably indeed with any other. No one wants to have an elected Second Chamber. If we do not, we must well consider that we may easily sacrifice our age-long traditions and habits and not be able to find anything which is more effective in the long run.