§ 2.48 p.m.
§ Order of the Day for the House to be put into Committee read.
THE:EARL OF HOME
My Lords, it might be for the convenience of your Lordships if at this stage I were to say what are the views of Her Majesty's Government and myself on the scope of the Life Peerages Bill. May I remind the House of what my noble and learned friend on the Woolsack said in response to a question by the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, during the Second Reading debate? Your Lordships may remember that the noble and learned Viscount quoted [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 206 (No. 15), col. 860] an extract from a Minute written in 1931 by Counsel to the Chairman of Committees, the essence of which was as follows:The test usually applied in practice to the admissibility of an Amendment is whether or not it is relevant to the subject matter of the Bill, but the decision upon this point, and the action taken on that decision, can only be made by the House itself.My Lords, our advice is the same as that which the noble and learned Viscount offered—namely, that an Amendment which goes outside the subject of life peerages is not relevant and the moving of such an Amendment would not be in accordance with the practice of this House. We have, to the best of our ability, tried to apply that test to the Amendments on the Order Paper, and our advice to the House is that those that 1206 deal solely with hereditary peerages or the right of Peers to vote at Parliamentary elections, or the standing for or sitting as a Member of the House of Commons, could not be said to be relevant to the subject matter of this Bill. They have nothing to do with life peerages and the Bill is concerned with life peerages only.
For these reasons, my Lords, when the time comes, I shall have to advise the House that the Amendments numbered 7, 8, 11, 12 and 13 in the Marshalled List are outside the scope of the Bill and ought not to be moved. I have already written to the noble Lords in whose names these Amendments stand explaining our views and the reasons for them. We do not in this House proceed by rigid practice administered by a Speaker, and so we have to make our rules as we go along; but it is very important, I think, in dealing with Bills that we should abide by the practice of the House. The Lord Chancellor and I have given our best attention to this matter, and that is our advice. If any noble Lord who has an Amendment down, either now or at a later stage when we come to the Amendment, would like further advice, my noble friend the Lord Chancellor would be very glad to give it. I beg to move that the House do now resolve itself into Committee.
§ Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.—(The Earl of Home.)
My Lords, I am sure that we all agree with the noble Earl, the Leader of the House, but there is one small point which I think we should be grateful if he could elucidate. When it is intended to change to some extent the scope of a Bill, it is, I believe, the practice to move an Amendment to the Title and to leave that to the end. In this case there seems to be an Amendment to the Title. Would that be out of order? Or, if it is taken at an early stage, would the Amendments to which the noble Earl has referred become in order?
THE EARL OF HOME
My Lords, if Lord Mansfield were to move and carry his first Amendment, then we would take the Amendment dealing with the Title at the end. If he were to lose the Amendment—I take it the Lord Chancellor would confirm this—an Amendment would be unnecessary.
§ VISCOUNT ASTOR
My Lords, may I ask the noble Earl the Leader of the House when he sent out this information? Because I have not received it and have had no time to consider his views on it.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR (VISCOUNT KILMUIR)
My Lords, I would say, in answer to the noble Lord, Lord Rea, that the opinion of Counsel to the Lord Chairman of Committees, which I noted on the last occasion, dealt with that point, and I might remind him that the passage ran as follows [OFFICIAL. REPORT, Vol. 206 (No. 15), col. 859]:It is possible, and often occurs, for an Amendment to be relevant to the subject matter of the Bill and yet to be outside the Long Title. In such a case the Long Title is amended and it is for this reason that the consideration of the Title at the Committee stage is always postponed to the end.So that what might be termed a first-stage Amendment is merely outside the Title a second-stage Amendment is both outside the Title and irrelevant to the subject matter of the Bill.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.
§ House in Committee accordingly.
§ [The LORD TERRINGTON in the Chair]
§ Clause 1:
§ Power to create life peerages carrying right to sit in the House of Lords
§ 1.—(1) Without prejudice to Her Majesty's powers as to the appointment of Lords of Appeal in Ordinary, Her Majesty shall have power by letters patent to confer on any person a peerage for life having the incidents specified in subsection (2) of this section.
§ (2) A peerage conferred under this section shall, during the life of the person on whom it is conferred, entitle him—
- (a) to rank as a baron under such style as may be appointed by the letters patent; and
- (b) subject to subsection (4) of this section, to receive writs of summons to attend the House of Lords and sit and vote therein accordingly,
§ (3) A life peerage may be conferred under this section on a woman.
§ (4) Nothing in this section shall enable any person to receive a writ of summons to attend the House of Lords, or to sit and vote in that House, at any time when disqualified therefor by law.1208
§ 2.55 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF AIRLIE moved, in subsection (1), after "any" to insert "male". The noble Earl said: You will notice that in my name there are two Amendments. Nos. 1 and 3, and for your Lordships' convenience, and with your permission, I will speak to the first, as they are consequential. In moving an Amendment in your Lordships' House, especially on a highly controversial subject such as this is, one must be careful not to make a Second Reading speech. I will therefore try to be as brief as I possibly can and merely reiterate and confirm the points which I tried to raise on Second Reading.
§ To start with, I would ask your Lordships' permission to touch, very briefly, on the question of reform generally because it affects my Amendment. I said that I did not feel—and I still do not feel—that any reform will improve the work of your Lordships' House. Anyhow, you will probably get the wrong sort of Chamber. You will get another "another place", if I might use that term. That is just what is not required. Be that as it may, if we must move forward let us at least move slowly and take it step by step. With all due deference to the noble Earl the Leader of the House, I myself can see nothing sound in his argument that, because ladies have entered another place and other spheres of work, and perhaps succeeded, they must therefore necessarily be admitted here. Why, my Lords? I have yet to be convinced. Possibly the noble Earl the Leader of the House will be able to convince me afterwards.
§ I have tried to emphasise that this is a quite unique Chamber, and unlike any other institution, as it is at present constituted. Though, of course, it is an anomaly, it has worked well in the past. Perhaps—I say "perhaps"—we have now come to the time when a change is necessary. Personally I am not at all sure of this, because I fear that our successor cannot be all that much better. I am also not sure that the country thinks that the time for a change has come. But there I may be wrong, and apparently Her Majesty's Government are quite sure. I submitted, however, that in view of this possible change it might be wiser to wait to see how the proposed step-by-step reforms worked 1209 out and then, if it were thought advisable, to admit the ladies.
§ I have given a great deal of thought to this matter, and this seems only wisdom to me. Some of your Lordships may feel that the ladies have been a howling success in another place.
THE EARL OF AIRLIE
I am not, of course, qualified to judge, as I was never a Member of that august Assembly, though I hold my own personal view. Even if they have been, which may or may not be the case, does that justify their inclusion here in your Lordships' House before—I repeat, before—some of the prospective reforms have proved themselves? I submit, No. I have a very uncomfortable feeling that Her Majesty's Government have made up their minds that they must at all costs get general consent from all sections of your Lordships' House before proceeding with this measure but, above all, must get the support of noble Lords of the Opposition. Therefore, in my humble submission, as I said on Second Reading, that is really a piece of political expediency. I am afraid that I would go further and use a word which I do not like to use: I am going to call it political chicanery, and I challenge Her Majesty's Government to refute it. In other words, Her Majesty's Government, in order to obtain this measure, have sold the female pass to the noble Lords of the Opposition, who in turn, for political reasons, as an electioneering manœuvre, will not dare to support a measure for reform unless it includes the ladies.
I believe that if they would truly search their consciences they would know in their hearts that it would be wiser, before including the female sex, to move step by step to see how the reforms work. The ladies can easily be included at a later date. We have always spoken and moved fearlessly and frankly, irrespective of Party, in your Lordships' House. In that has lain its great strength in matters such as these. But, in my humble opinion, Her Majesty's Government have not shown real political courage. It takes courage, I admit, to stand on an issue such as this, but this country likes to be led and not suckled and spoon-fed. I repeat, I do not say that it would never be right to bring 1210 in the ladies; but I do say—take one step at a time. For this reason, above all, I beg to move this Amendment.
Page 1, line 7, after ("any") insert ("male").—(The Earl of Airlie.)
§ LORD CHATFIELD
As I did not have the opportunity of opposing this proposal—which is now embodied in an Amendment—in the Second Reading debate, I should like to say a few words now. I trust that I shall be called to order if I am exceeding what is right in what I am doing. I feel that in this matter of women Peers two questions are involved. First, there is a question of quality, and, secondly, a question of prejudice. With regard to the arguments which have been used against the Bill as it stands, in this respect, I feel that it is absurd in these days to exclude the representatives of half the population as unfit, by their very nature, to be in your Lordships' House. Nothing could be more harmful to your Lordships' House in the minds of our countrymen and our countrywomen as to be so petty in thought. so narrow-minded. The Government policy would, I suggest, make this House far more representative of the people of this country and the electorate, and would strengthen the respect in which this Second Chamber would be held.
It can, of course, be argued that we all know that women may not make good debaters. They are, by nature, it may be said, more inclined to argue and to refuse to hear what the other person says than are men. They are also, perhaps, inclined to be sentimental rather than reasonable. I would not ask any lady if she would agree with me, but I feel that some might. But there is another side to the case. We are not to have ordinary women in your Lordships' House: they are to be specially elected. You may have ordinary women. as has been suggested, in another place—I do not say that it is so—but Life Peeresses are to be selected, and we may hope that they will be selected from ladies who have proven ability, have shown devotion to duty in their country, have shown a knowledge of humanity and of social problems.
They will not, I hope, be selected for political reasons—of all the unworthy 1211 reasons that could be given. We cannot allow trivialities and petty prejudices to overwhelm our broad common sense in your Lordships' House. These ladies who are to be made Peeresses will be specialists, just as I am a specialist—a very bad example—and just as many other distinguished men in your Lordships' House who have been made Peers during my lifetime have been selected, because of their ability and in order to show the professions from which they have come and in which they have attained great success that those who have done great work for their country may be rewarded by a peerage. There are plenty of women who have done distinguished work for their country in almost every way one can think of—in the education of children, hospital work, the Women's Voluntary Services, the medical profession, the nursing profession. In fact, in nearly every great profession on which this country depends so much responsibility devolves to a large extent on the female sex. I feel that we must make this Chamber more completely in line with the best modern thought and practice. If we do that we shall gain the confidence of the country, and your Lordships' House will have a more certain and a better future.
§ 3.7 p.m.
As I have another Amendment down on the same subject and am going to try to persuade my noble friend Lord Airlie to withdraw his Amendment and support mine instead, perhaps your Lordships will forgive me if I break into the debate so early, in my trivial and pettily prejudiced way, to show first why I think my noble friend should withdraw his Amendments and, secondly, why I hope to persuade some of your Lordships to support mine.
I should like to start by saying that in my opinion this Bill is merely declaratory. In my opinion (and I am not putting it before your Lordships on my own authority: I know it to be the view of great constitutional lawyers), the Royal Prerogative is fully empowered to create Life Peers at the present time. The Royal Prerogative has from time immemorial created peerages with remainder to heirs general. This has been done for countless generations. Your Lordships will remember the poet Milton's description of the Phœnix as "A secular bird, Ages of 1212 lives." That precisely describes the peerage created with remainder to heirs general. It has always been within the power of the Crown to limit the remainder to heirs male and to make other and more peculiar limitations. How, therefore, can it be beyond the power of the Crown to create a Peerage with no remainder at all? It does not stand to reason. In my opinion, as I say, it has always been within the power of the Crown to create life peerages, and, in fact, the Crown has on many occasions created life peerages in my own country. I do not expect this point to have quite as much force with your Lordships as with me, because your Lordships will remember that the representation of the peerage of Scotland in your Lordships' House is by election. None the less, the fact remains that in Scotland the Crown has freely created life peerages when necessary.
The only question, therefore, is whether Peers of such creations should have the right to receive a Writ of Summons and to sit in your Lordships' House. Only this week I heard one of the greatest authorities say that the Wensleydale judgment was very mistaken. It has always seemed to me that if we have done it wrong, then we should do it again and do it right. I think that nobody will challenge the intention of the Government to make Life Peers and introduce them into this House.
If this Bill is merely declaratory, or principally declaratory, I feel that my noble friend's Amendment goes rather far—for this reason. From time immemorial it has been the Royal Prerogative to create Peeresses equally with Peers. If I sufficiently searched the records, I could give any number of examples, but two examples will at once leap to your Lordships' mind—the case, in the reign of Charles II, of the Duchess of Portsmouth and that, in the reign of Queen Victoria, of the Countess of Beaconsfield. For that reason, it seems to me that in this Bill we shall be proceeding on mistaken lines if we adopt the noble Earl's Amendment and limit the power of the Crown to the creation of male Peers only. That is why I have put down an Amendment suggesting that as the Royal Prerogative has never hitherto extended to giving a right to receive a Writ of Summons any such Peers created should not have the right to receive a Writ of Summons and to sit and 1213 vote in your Lordships' House. If my noble friend persists in his Amendment, I think that this matter is so important that I shall support him, but I would prefer my own Amendment.
If your Lordships will bear with me. I will turn to the question of the introduction of ladies into your Lordships' House and proceed first by way of illustration. When I was a very young man I sat on a parish council, representing a parish which had a long seaboard Containing two fishing villages. The parish had this peculiarity, that since people first settled there, the fishing population and the landward population had never inter-married, or had done so so seldom that it was a nine days' wonder when it did occur. When the parish council met at one end of the parish and the landward people were there, business was done with expedition and accuracy; and if the council met on the seaboard side and the fishing population were there, business was again done with celerity but when they had a joint meeting, there was always trouble and the business took much longer. The reason, of course, was that the methods of thought of the two populations were quite different.
I am the servant of a great institution, of which I am intensely proud, which is served all over the country by committees of ladies. Nobody has a greater admiration or a deeper gratitude than I have for the work done by these ladies and for their efficiency. This institution is also served by committees of men, who likewise do their work splendidly. We seldom have any difficulties in running the organisation, but when we do run into difficulties—and my own experience has been vouched for by many of my friends who are members of the ladies' committees—they are always at joint meetings, because the methods of thought of women and men are so different that they tend to promote dissension.
I am not putting this before your Lordships purely from my own experience. My own experience is borne out by the work of the great psychologist, Le Bon, who spent his whole life in studying the behaviour of assemblies and whose work was a standard work on the Continent when I was a young man. The Government are in danger of spoiling the last public Assembly in Europe, perhaps in the world, where we can discuss 1214 without heat, or almost without heat, matters on which we differ profoundly and feel strongly. I believe that the experience of another place, if the records were carefully examined, would bear out what I say. I remember when, a long time ago, the first lady was elected to another place. She took her seat on a Thursday, I think, and that evening she went to the town of Hertford and made a speech, which was reported in the Press (I do not know whether accurately or not), in which she said that her experience of the House of Commons had shown her that there was no place in the world which so much needed a woman's influence. Obviously, she was jesting; but I think that a man would have chosen a different jest from his repertoire. But a new spirit had been introduced into another place—and I do not think that it was altogether a spirit of peace.
I do not know how it comes that the noble Earl the Leader of the House and the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, who preceded him, have developed this passion for having woman looking over their shoulders while they are doing their work. The noble Earl, on Second Reading, and the noble Marquess, on many occasions have said that it is a matter of logic: that if we have ladies in another place, we must have them in this House There is no logic about it at all. Perhaps there is an analogy. but it is a bad analogy. We cannot make a logical process of it. Because we have boys and girls together at the hunt ball, that is no reason why we should have them together in, say, a maternity home. I think that the noble Lords have chosen the word "logic", not because they mean that it is logical, but because they are politicians; and as politicians, like Humpty Dumpty, they choose a word like "logic" because they find it a sounding and effective word, and not because it has any particular meaning. But, unlike Humpty Dumpty, they do not pay for the words they misuse on Saturday night.
I would only point out to your Lordships where the logic does exist. If it is logical, as a new measure, to bring into your Lordships' House ladies who possess a peerage which has no remainder at all, then surely it is logical, and must follow, that we ought equally to bring into your Lordships' House Peeresses who 1215 have a peerage which is "a secular bird, ages of lives." For these reasons, I hope that my noble friend will withdraw his Amendment and support mine; but if he does not withdraw his, I will support it.
§ THE EARL OF GLASGOW
I have said my say about women in a recent debate and I do not want to repeat myself, but I should like to comment on two points. I must be very unintelligent, as I do not understand why, because women are in another place, it is logical to admit them here—and I am sorry to get back to this question of logic once more. A lady who has been a good deal before the public eye is reported to have said that women in another place have been a "flop". If that is true—and I do not say it is—would it be logical to admit women here? I would guess that at this moment the consensus of public opinion would be that women in another place have not been a conspicuous success. If that is true—and it may not be—again, would it be logical to introduce into this House something which has not been a conspicuous success?
Noble Lords who support the Government have said that it would be unjust not to admit women here. Unjust to whom? If it is women in general who are in their minds, I am convinced that there is a body of female opinion that does not want any extension of political power to women, nor do they want them admitted to your Lordships' House. But it may be that Her Majesty's Government are concerned with feminist opinion. Here I can almost agree, because the feminists of this country are formidable, as those of your Lordships who lived through the suffragette riots will remember. However, whatever may be the reasons for this pacification of women, I am sure your Lordships will never want any change in the natures or temperaments of women. Personally, I prefer the charm, the humour and the capability of the women I know to the earnest egotism of the feminist with her claim to be the equal of men and sit in this House. I like the touch of instability in those immortal words:Woman! in our hours of ease,Uncertain, coy, and hard to please.I realise that talking about the suitability of women for politics cuts very little ice with your Lordships. What you 1216 are turning over in your minds is the un-intellectual and so-called illogical aspects of the question whether you really want to meet the ladies in the Library and give up the one asset of your Lordships' House—namely, that for hundreds of years this has been a place for men alone. It is difficult not to appear ungallant to the ladies when speaking to an Amendment such as this. There is no one who does not admire the public-spirited work they do in peace, and one is almost humble when one remembers their gallantry in war. But this Amendment has nothing to to with women's achievements; it has to do with the feelings and desires of your Lordships, whom one can liken to the members of a men's club who have been suddenly presented with a demand for the admission of women as members on the same basis as men. This is about the only place left in the kingdom where men can meet without women. For heaven's sake let us keep it like that!
In conclusion, I would say that your Lordships are, in my opinion, about to do irreparable damage to the future welfare of this House by casting away the hereditary principle by admitting Life Peers. But if your Lordships decide, as you have decided before, to turn down the admission of women, you will mitigate, to a small extent, the damage you propose to do, and you will show a last flash of that independence which you are about to lose. If the noble Earl, Lord Airlie, decides to divide the Committee, I will support him.
§ 3.24 p.m.
§ LORD SHERWOOD
I should like to say a word or two on this Amendment. I think we are taking a very big step towards what may be a great move which will come in the future, because this is really the reform of your Lordships' House. It has been known and discussed by a great many people. The great Lord Rosebery brought in the first Bill; then there was the 1910 Bill: and since then it has been fully discussed by the noble Viscount, Lord Samuel, and the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury. So no one can say that the reform of this House has not been put forward, not only in this House, but to the country. There are certain needs of reform, and the greatest of all is that Life Peers must come; and I am in favour of that. It has been put forward with increasing strength that your 1217 Lordships' House is a place in which you ca admit people who would never have a chance of achieving admission to another place because they have studied and worked and have not been able to give their life to what is the whole basis of that other place, which is politics. I did not like it when the noble Lord, Lord Chatfield, put that as a low basis, because I think it is the highest there is. Therefore, I think that Life Peers are necessary.
However, this question which the noble Earl, Lord Airlie, has raised—and I shall certainly vote for his Amendment if he takes it to a Division—of Peeresses coming into this House has never been put by Lord Samuel, Lord Salisbury, the late Lord Salisbury or Lord Rosebery, and it was not suggested in 1910. No one has ever discussed this question of putting Peeresses into this House. I agree that it has been raised on the question of Peeresses in their own right, which is largely, as the noble Lord, Lord Saltoun, has said, due to the Scottish arrangement, which is peculiar to themselves. But this idea of bringing Peeresses into this House is a new and very big one. The noble Lord, Lord Chatfield, said they are going to be specialist creatures—that is a most extraordinary expression. I could not understand it. At one moment he said they were going to be elected and at another moment they were going to be selected.
§ LORD CHATFIELD
Perhaps I may interrupt the noble Lord. I did not refer to politics in the sense that I did not believe in politics myself, because I know how important they are. What I said was that I hoped that women Peers would not be elected to your Lordships' House for political reasons, but for much higher reasons.
§ LORD SHERWOOD
I cannot think of any higher reasons than political reasons; never have there been any higher reasons for rising to this House than political reasons. In the past people were prepared to risk their necks in order to become Members of your Lordships' House, and many of your Lordships' ancestors did lose their heads. Therefore, politics must play a very big part of any two Chambers you have, If we are to eliminate politics in the selection of these women, I think it would be absolutely wrong and against the whole foundations on which this country is built.
1218 But this is a real reform, and nothing to do with Life Peers. This is something which has never been put before the country and has never been put before your Lordships in any prior way. I still do not understand who these women are and why they are coming in; what value they will be; what the point of it is or where the demand is coming from. It is very like the demands we had in another place when they used to read out a Committee and then people would shout: "You must put a woman on the Committee." So somebody used to "busy round"—I, as a Whip, and a number of your Lordships who have been Whips—to try to find some woman whom one could put on the Committee. That feeling was so strongly expressed in another place that, if one was a Whip, one had to find a woman. It has never been expressed strongly by your Lordships Therefore, I myself will vote for the noble Earl's Amendment.
§ 3.30 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT MASSEREENE AND FERRARD
I have envisaged many schemes of reform of your Lordships' House, but it was beyond my wildest dreams that we should find the fair sex amongst us. I cannot help feeling that the ladies are seeking admission under cover of the Trojan Horse of Life Peers. But why all this haste? Why not have a separate Bill for Life Peeresses? I have spoken to countless women from all walks of life, and they have shown singular lack of enthusiasm for members of their sex to join your Lordships' House. I cannot understand this haste. One would almost imagine that the women of London were marching on Whitehall like the women of Paris to Versailles over a century and a half ago. No one admires more than I do the intuitive wisdom, talents and beauty of women, but women are not legislators and never will be. You argue with a woman. I cannot anyway. Was it not Plato who said:A good woman is always quiet, never talkative"?It is said that it is illogical not to have women in this House because you have them in another place. During the past fortnight I have listened to and read countless speeches on the reform of this House. One of the themes running through them is that this House must never be like another place. Yet by having women in this House we are being 1219 asked to copy another place. It is all very confusing. No doubt in the future this House may well become a salaried rest home for trade union bosses to retire in, but heaven forbid it should ever become a stamping ground for "bossy Janes"! However, if my worst fears become true, I can only hope that the philosopher who said that the last civilising act of man would be to civilise woman was thinking of their eventual admittance into your Lordships' House. I support the noble Earl's Amendment.
§ 3.35 p.m.
§ LORD WINSTER
I have no strong personal feelings either way in this matter. My experience of women Members in another place was that while they did not in any way handicap the working of the House, yet they did not effect any striking improvement in the working of the House. While I felt that the average women Member was fully the equal of the average man, yet fewer were outstanding. I would say that, of the women who reached Cabinet rank, probably the majority of them got there more as a demonstration than out of respect for their outstanding abilities. I feel it is impossible to contest the fact that it has been decided in principle that in the public service women shall be admitted broadly on equal terms with men. In the only direction of the public service of which I have any experience—namely, the magistracy—I have always been impressed with the ability and value of women magistrates. They are shrewd judges of character and have unexpected powers of decision. For those reasons, I find myself in full agreement with the speech of the noble and gallant Admiral of the Fleet, Lord Chatfield, and I support him in opposing this Amendment.
§ 3.37 p.m.
§ LORD GREENHILL
It had been my intention to wait until we reached subsection (3) before I expressed my point of view. But because the noble Earl, Lord Airlie, suggested that perhaps noble Lords on this side of the House were all toeing some particular line which they had been instructed to toe, I find it necessary to intervene to express a purely personal point of view. Like the noble Earl, I have no desire to repeat what little I said on the Second Reading, but I do feel to-day that there has been un- 1220 necessarily introduced into your Lordships' debate a note of levity that ought not to be there. I feel that this is a serious matter we are discussing, and that it ought to be treated seriously.
When the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Chatfield, indicated that one of the views held of women is that they are prejudiced and argumentative, the obvious answer is that so are men. We are all prejudiced. We are all argumentative, otherwise we should not be participating in public life as we are doing. If I support the point of view expressed by the noble Earl, Lord Airlie, I do so for one or two reasons. Even on the assumption that the Government have a mandate of some sort for some measure of reform—which, by the way, I am not prepared to admit—it seems to me there has been no mandate for the kind of change which is contemplated in this particular clause. It seems to me that neither the people, the Press, nor women's organisations have indicated any strong wish for it. Those of us who remember the hysteria of pre-World War I days—as I do, for I was then a supporter of women's suffrage, and spoke on their behalf—will, I think, agree with me that that hysteria has now entirely evaporated, and people are not feeling the way they did in those days.
There is, instead, if I am any judge of the atmosphere, a feeling of disillusionment, even among those who participated in those very heated days. It has been said that in these days, when sex equality is the widely held view of the public, one cannot very well resist the introduction of women into your Lordships' House. But surely that is merely the expression of a kind of doctrinaire point of view which many of us rather deplore. Equality is not a fact of nature. Equality, like freedom and brotherhood, is a political slogan—the kind of stuff one finds in presidential speeches. But the fact is that nature has made us unequal and that inequality has got to be accepted as a fact of nature.
In the Second Reading debate I ventured to express the opinion that, while it is obviously true that women are intellectually and intelligently and physically as good as men, so that in discussing or considering questions which are wholly intellectual, or dependent wholly upon the intelligence of the individuals participating the conclusions at which they arrive are, on the whole, very similar to 1221 the conclusions that any group of men would arrive at, the real crux of the situation is that when, as in a Legislative Assembly, there is a feeling of heat, of passion, of prejudice, of anger, then my Lords, you have a different atmosphere altogether. You have then a combination of psychological factors which distort the logicality of one's reasoning.
It has been said that women have shown their ability in other assemblies, assemblies in local government and in national government; and in so far as my own personal experience in local government is concerned, I would say that while, in exceptional cases, contributions have been made by women members of equal standards with those of men, on the whole, whether we regret it or delight in it, I think the fact remains that they have somehow not shown any characteristic contribution which may be said to be a woman's point of view: a point of view which, but for their presence, would never have been expressed. This Chamber has many faults. This is a Chamber full of anomalies, but, as has already been said by one noble Lord, it is a unique structure; and because of its very uniqueness I think we should hesitate long before we take any drastic measure to alter its composition.
My Lords, I feel that it would be a pity if no Back-Bencher on this side of the House spoke in favour of the Government's proposal. I have listened carefully to the speeches I have heard around me, and in my view they are more suitable for a general meeting to discuss a proposal to admit women to White's or Boodle's than to this House. What is the object of this Bill before us now? It is to produce more working Peers to do the chores (I think the word has been used) of this House. I do not think such men will be easy to find, but I do believe that it would be quite possible to find a number of suitable ladies to swell their numbers and who would perform very valuable services in revision of certain Bills and in the general work of this House. Therefore I wish to support the Government's proposal to admit ladies, and to oppose this Amendment.
§ 3.45 p.m.
§ VISCOUNT ASTOR
I have, of course, a certain hereditary interest in this matter, because my father proposed the admission 1222 of women to this House in the early 1920s, at the time when my mother was the first woman Member to take her seat in the House of Commons, though not the first to be elected; she was only the second to be elected. We have heard of exactly the same arguments in the past, but they were not supported by what happened in the House of Commons. The idea that women were more emotional than men! I have heard more emotion from the Welsh Back-Benchers in the House of Commons, more emotion from the Clydeside Members, than we ever had from the women of either Party. It just was not so. The idea that those who got in took a less distinguished part than the men! Certainly, considering their comparatively small number, they held Cabinet and ministerial office with great distinction. The Duchess of Atholl, Miss Margaret Bondfield, Miss Wilkinson, Miss Horsbrugh; they were all members of Cabinets, members of whom either side of the House or the House as a whole could be proud.
Take Back-Benchers. One noble Lord said that they never made a distinctive contribution. There was that remarkable Back-Bencher, Miss Eleanor Rathbone, who brought up the question of family allowances, which is a specific point to help women and children, and by dogged perseverance beat the Opposition of both sides of the House. And now family allowances are part of the law of the land, and a part which none of us could possibly want to go back on. Those who remember the opposition to it may well wonder whether, if there had not been that woman Member of the House of Commons, it would have come when it did. Think of Mrs. Wintringham, Lady Davidson, Dame Irene Ward, who have all shown that intelligence on the Back Benches which has made them absolutely useful Members, and who would have been ornaments to this House.
It is really living in another world to hear some of the arguments we have heard to-clay. If we want to make ourselves ridiculous in the eyes of the country we can do so, but if we are going to commit suicide as a House let us take some major and noble issue on which to do it. Certainly the idea that women will be a vast radical force is completely wrong. Every public opinion poll shows, everybody who has ever canvassed knows, 1223 that by and large the women of this country are a more Conservative element than the men. They have probably put in a Conservative Government at every Election since women have had the vote. If we are going to antagonise that large element, we just make ourselves absurd in the eyes of this country. I believe that if we have women Members of this House of the same average quality as we have had in the House of Commons the debates of this House will be enriched.
§ 3.50 p.m.
VISCOUNT COLVILLE OF CULROSS
There are perhaps two divisions of work in your Lordships' House. There is, first of all, the everyday work of which the noble Lord, Lord Gifford, has spoken, and I have no doubt that the ladies will be only too capable of helping on that side. That is one of the things for which we are going to elect men as Life Peers. in order to give a larger working body. On the other side are the expert discussions for which your Lordships' House is so famous and for that there are experiences of which the ladies have particular and perhaps unique knowledge. I would oppose any suggestion which would preclude them from bringing forward that special knowledge and so increasing the width of experience in your Lordships' House. As the rules are at the moment, no peeress in her own right can bring forward that point of view because she cannot come to this House to speak or to vote. It would therefore be a pity to miss this opportunity of including the ladies in this Bill and thus enriching the debates in your Lordships' House.
§ LORD BIRDWOOD
I had no intention to intervene, but as I have been sitting listening to the arguments it seems to me that some of your Lordships have been trying to reconcile two quite irreconcilable elements in this issue. On the one hand, there has been produced the argument that this is a club, a sancrosanct place in which it would be a pity to have women rumpling the newspapers in the Library. On the other hand, it has been claimed that this House is an indispensable element in the British Constitution. You cannot have it both ways; as I see it, it is one or the other. If it is an indispensable part of the British Constitution, then it needs protection as such and it must then march with the times. If it is to march with the times it must, as I 1224 see it, recognise the ability of ladies to come here and give of their knowledge where they are fit to do so. I make a distinction between the elected lady who sits in another place and the selected lady who will come to this House and who will obviously be selected only for certain specific qualifications. For that reason I have no doubt in my mind that I would oppose the Amendment of Lord Airlie.
§ 3.53 p.m.
§ LORD CONESFORD
I rise only in order to elucidate one matter. The noble Lord, Lord Saltoun, suggested that this Amendment might be withdrawn and the matter considered on a later Amendment of his own. I believe that that is not so, and I should very much like the advice of Her Majesty's Government on this point. As far as I can see, the word "person" in subsection (1) must, if we leave it unamended, include women. That is clear, I think, from Section 1 of the Interpretation Act, 1889, and possibly also Section 1 of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act, 1919. If, therefore, women are clearly included in subsection (1) and we leave that unamended, then it will be useless for Lord Saltoun to move his Amendment or even carry it to subsection (3) because there will then be a complete contradiction between sub-sections (2) and (3) of the clause. This is a very important matter, whichever view one takes upon it, and I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Greenhill, that the noble Earl who moved the Amendment should not withdraw it.
May I interrupt the noble Lord for one moment? If his argument is correct, then what is the point of subsection (3) at all?
§ LORD CONESFORD
That was the next question I was going to put to the Government. I should very much like to know the point of subsection (3). I think it is put in for what lawyers call in their rather curious Latin ex abundanti cautela, which means, roughly, to make assurance doubly sure. I think—I do not know—that the advice of the Government may be that even without subsection (3) women would be included under subsection (1).
I do not want to repeat any of the arguments. Obviously, there is sincere feeling on both sides. I think, however, that those people are rather optimistic 1225 who assume that, if women are to be admitted as Life Peeresses, there will necessarily be extremely high qualifications for them. I suggest there are at least two other possibilities: one is that one of the main qualifications for being made a Life Peeress will be a demonstrated inability to enter another place, and the second possibility is that any Prime Minister, in selecting a list of seven or ten people to be made Life Peers, will consider himself almost bound to put in one or two women quite irrespective of ability.
There was a time when it was quite common in another place to introduce provisions, when a Committee was being set up by Statute, that "the Committee shall consist of seven persons, of whom two at least shall be women "—the statutory woman, so to speak. My friend Alan Herbert and I, and one or two others, were successful in Committee in another place in giving the death blow to the "statutory woman" in one Bill. At a much earlier stage I remember I inquired in a letter to The Times what lay behind this demand for the statutory woman, and suggested, in order to find out, that three alternative Amendments might be put down. One was to add the words "and two at least shall be men"; and the ether was to leave out the words, and with the third I need not bother your Lordships.
It may sound feeble, but I have not myself decided how I am going to vote in the Division on this Amendment. I can see, however, one quite important reason why some of us should hesitate to admit women as Life Peers, and that was the point so well put by my noble friend Lord Coleraine in an earlier debate. He pointed out how illogical it would be if you refused to admit Peeresses in their own right and then went on to admit women as Life Peers. That is not an argument unworthy of respect. I do not. believe that the majority of this House, whatever they do with this Bill, wish to do any injury to the hereditary principle. Are we quite sure that we shall not be doing some injury to that principle if we say that, notwithstanding that we can do nothing for the Peeresses who hold that position by hereditary rig-it, we insist on this right for the Life Peers? I know that my noble friend Lord Coleraine—I wish he were here this afternoon—felt most strongly on this 1226 point. There was a hope in some quarters that the matter might be put right in another way, but the Government—and I agree with the advice they have given—consider that out of order on this measure. But if that cannot be done in this measure, are we really being necessarily illogical or wrong in saying that until it is done we should continue to exclude women from life peerages?
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
It may be convenient if I clear up the legal point. I am not going to speak on the merits of the question at all. I will willingly give way to the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, but as my noble friend Lord Conesford has raised the point it might be advisable if I dealt with it briefly at the moment. If sub-section (3) were omitted, the effect of the Bill as it stands at present, without the Amendment of the noble Earl, Lord Airlie, would be uncertain, At the moment Clause 1 empowers the Crown to confer a life peerage on any person and then leads on to subsection (3). But the effect of a Bill in this form without subsection (3), as my noble friend Lord Conesford suggested, would fall to be determined in the light of the provisions of the Interpretation Act, 1889, and both the relevant provisions contain the words:Unless the contrary appears.Under Section 18 of that Act the expression "person" includes any body of persons, corporate or uncorporate, and no doubt it will be readily agreed that a sufficient contrary intention on this part is shown by the subject matter of the Bill.
Then, as my noble friend pointed out, one comes to Section 1 of the Act of 1889 which provides that:Words importing the masculine gender include the feminine.But there again one has to consider whether in the context the contrary appears and that would fall to be decided according to the subject matter of the Bill. The question whether, if Life Peers were entitled to the Writ, Life Peeresses would be similarly entitled, has naturally never arisen. As to whether or not the contrary would appear, I can only tell your Lordships, after all the study I have given it, that this is a matter of complete uncertainty. Had your Lordships cared to read again the long speeches on the claim of Lady Rhondda 1227 you would have seen the difficulty that has arisen; and I would refer my noble friend Lord Conesford (for I know his industry) to the cases of Chorlton and Lanes, Nairn v. the University of St. Andrews—which was a gallant attempt to get votes for women as they were university graduates—the Law Society, and a number of other authorities referred to in this case.
In these circumstances, the position as I see it is that without subsection (3) the matter would be left in doubt; and, of course, the alternative to subsection (3)—to clear up the doubt the other way—is the Amendment of my noble friend Lord Airlie. So that the advice I respectfully give to the Committee is that the noble Earl's Amendment is necessary, and, on the other hand, if the House take the other view, subsection (3) is necessary.
I want to say a word on a point raised by my noble friend Lord Saltoun. I entirely agree with the view that Her Majesty has the right to confer a peerage and a life peerage on a woman; but, at the moment, in view of the decision in the Wensleydale case in your Lordships' House, that does not confer the right to sit and vote in this House. Under the provisions of the Bill, this is a peerage for life having the incidence specified in subsection (2) (b), which states:subject to subsection (4) of this section, to receive writs of summons to attend the House of Lords and sit and vote therein accordingly,I hope your Lordships will forgive my intervention, but I have made it because I thought it might at any rate make the matter more clear. The summary of my intervention is that this Amendment is essential in order to give an opportunity of passing on what my noble friend suggests; and, when we come to it, subsection (3) is essential for the reasons that I have given.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
I am sure that the House is greatly indebted to the noble and learned Viscount who has just cleared this matter in our minds. I believe his words will be equally welcomed by the noble Lords, Lord Saltoun and Lord Conesford. I want to say only a brief word or two on the opening speech of the noble Earl, Lord Airlie, on this Amendment, in 1228 which he seemed to think that Her Majesty's Government had been stooping rather low in negotiating with the official Opposition in the House in order to "sell" them the principle of the appointment of Life Peers by throwing in a few women for good measure. I want to assure the noble Earl that that is entirely contrary—
THE EARL OF AIRLIE
Might I interrupt the noble Viscount to say that I never suggested there were any negotiations? I said that Her Majesty's Government had "sold" the female pass. I did not say that they had negotiated about it.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
Usually when there is a sale there is a purchase, and usually before something is purchased there is some talk on what one is buying. The comment could at least have been interpreted as meaning that the pass had been sold by the noble Earl the Leader of the House to the Opposition, on this question of the election of women Peers.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
Certainly not, and I am going on to say so. I have said that the noble Earl's statement was entirely contrary to the facts. At least, in this House I have tried to make my position plain, on behalf of my Party as a whole, on this Bill. We think it is a very small measure and is only tinkering with the much greater problem of reform of this House as a whole. With regard to the appointment of Life Peers, we have said that we do not think it is a very serious contribution to the difficulties which this House has to meet. But we have also said that if there are to be Life Peers there is no logical reason remaining why those Life Peers should not include women as well as men. On the well-established experience of the services given by women in assemblies of this nature I would say again, from my own experience, that women performing such duties in another place have fully justified the decision not merely of the Houses of Parliament but of the whole nation after the 1914–18 war in awarding full suffrage to women, giving them the right to vote. As they have to pay taxes, they were given the right to take their full responsibility as citizens, 1229 to have the same freedom as any other section of the community, and to have the vote and full representative powers on behalf of the rest of the community. So that we do not need in any way to pass away from that principle on this Bill.
I share the views of one or two noble Lords who have spoken, but some of the speakers this afternoon have tended to treat this matter far too lightly, occasionally with a kind of phraseology which would have been better left out. If there has been a speech of real substance delivered on behalf of the Amendment of the noble Earl it seems to have been that made from these Benches by my noble friend Lord Greenhill. At least he had a considered view of the matter, and he spoke from an experience that we all respect. But in this matter he certainly does not represent the Party to which he and I both have the honour to belong. I would say to the noble Viscount, Lord Astor, that I do not think he has a very good knowledge as to how the women's vote goes, generally speaking, in the country—whether it is Conservative or Liberal or Labour. But I would say that perhaps his Party are somewhat more favoured at Election times. There are mere Labour women who are inhibited in being able to go and cast their vote, because they are not able to call on quite the same assistance in looking after their youngsters that some others have.
§ VISCOUNT ASTOR
I would say that the Gallup Poll showed that, among the working classes, the percentage of Conservatives is slightly higher among the females than among the males.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
I should not have thought a Gallup Poll was reliable for ascertaining that kind of position. Certainly that did not operate in 1945.
In the other place we have had women, in die last quarter of a century who were justifying the whole principle from different points of view. Some were motherly and kindly, generally speaking, in women's cases. Others were as expert as any Member representing in the House the particular field for which they spoke. Anyone casting his mind back to the duel in the House of Commons, way back in the twenties, between Susan Lawrence and the Treasury and the Ministry of Local Government over a formula, to find out who was 1230 really able to express to the country at large, and to the experts in the other place, opinions on a matter of very great difficulty, would realise that Miss Lawrence was the most expert Member of that other place for that purpose. I could multiply that instance many times. I therefore say two things: first, that there is no truth whatever in the suggestion that I or my colleagues who vote against the noble Earl's Amendment, which he has a perfect right to move, have been "nobbled" in arty way. Not at all, We have not had the pass sold to us in any way at all. And the second thing is that, if we are to have Life Peers, I should welcome very much indeed the fact that women are to be included among the Life Peers appointed.
§ 4.15 p.m.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I was, unhappily, not able to be here when the noble Earl, Lord Airlie, spoke, but I have heard the arguments of many of his supporters, and I should like to say one last word on the other side. I cannot admit that their arguments are valid. As I understood the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Saltoun, one of his main arguments was that the only reason in favour of admitting women to this House appeared to be that they were already in another place. With all deference to him, that is not the argument at all. The argument is that there is no position in this country at the present time to which women cannot attain, except membership of this House.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
The noble Lord turns to the ridiculous. He knows as well as I do that women do not serve in the Army. Some of the greatest of our Sovereigns in modern times have been women; some of our greatest scientists have been women: and some of our greatest writers have been women. On what grounds, therefore, do we take the attitude, which I think was suggested by the noble Lord, Lord Greenhill, that women are intellectually inferior to men?
§ LORD GREENHILL
I did not say that. I said that intellectually, and from the point of view of intelligence, and even physically, they were the equal. 1231 The only distinction was between women discussing problems which arouse a good deal of feeling and women discussing problems which are purely intellectual problems.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I think there is no substance at all in that argument. On what ground could it be said that great women such as Florence Nightingale would be unable to take a purely intellectual view? And if it is true that women have not been an outstanding success in another place, that is perfectly true of a great many men, too. If we were to have a sort of intellectual qualification, a great many of us would be in a rather rocky position. The noble Earl, Lord Glasgow, was worried, in fact appalled, by the idea of women using the library and refreshment room—or smoking room, I think he said. I quite agree with the noble Lord, Lord Gifford. That is really the argument of a man who resents having women in his club. I think it is quite appropriate with regard to that particular problem, and I should strongly sympathise with the noble Earl, but this is quite a different thing. This House is not a club; it is a place of legislation, and for women as well as for men. On what grounds, therefore, do we, who form a legislative Chamber under the Constitution, exclude women from the consideration of measures which affect them just as much as they do us? That, I think, would be my answer to the noble Lord, Lord Conesford.
When we come to the ancillary question of hereditary peerages, I expect I, like a good many other members of this House, would find myself more in sympathy with the views which I understand have been expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Coleraine, rather than with those of the Government. But I think the Government are right, and I beg them not to accept this Amendment. If we pass it here, we shall only make ourselves ridiculous.
About the charge of the Government against inconsistency, I think your Lordships will remember that in 1948 there was a conference among the leaders of all Parties, and they came to a unanimous decision about the composition of the House, though not quite 1232 to such a decision about the powers. I think, therefore, we are divided for and against this Amendment, as were those who were for or against that decision.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
With all deference, I must point out, if only for the sake of accuracy, that they did not come to a unanimous conclusion.
I rather thought the nine points recommended by the leaders were approved by them all. In any case, those nine points were largely accepted by large numbers of all three Parties, although a certain number of all three Parties did not commit themselves to accepting those recommendations. But I would remind your Lordships that probably the most important one is the one referring to the hereditary system. Two of the other nine points, were, first, that there should be Life Peers; and, secondly, that women should be equally eligible with men. And that is briefly, I think, the position on which we divide to-day.
§ 4.19 p.m.
THE EARL OF HOME
The speeches of the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, and of my noble friends Lord Astor and Lord Colville of Culross, have, I think, relieved me of the necessity of making a lengthy reply to this debate. The two noble Earls, Lord Airlie and Lord Glasgow, have been persistent and they have pursued this question, quite properly, through the various stages of the Bill. The noble Earl, Lord Airlie, was candid, but I do not think he was very decided. He began by saying that he was against all reform; and then he qualified that by saying he was doubtful about almost every aspect of reform. He said that he was against women in principle, but then he qualified that by saying he was against women this time: put them off till the last, till the end—which, incidentally, is the noble Earl's family motto. But really, my Lords, the reasons for the inclusion of women to be Members of this House under this Bill are serious reasons.
I think that the debates which have taken place, not only in the last four days when we had general discussion but over a number of years previously, have shown that the general sense of the House is in favour of the inclusion of women. The purpose of this Bill is to strengthen the House of Lords and to enable it to work better. As Lord Chatsfield has 1233 said, if that is the objective it is extremely foolish to exclude half of the population. Many of these women have a practical knowledge of everyday affairs which will be of great value to your Lordships' discussions. Women, as we know, have served the country, and do serve the country, in many ways. Your Lordships ha v:, mentioned county councils and the magistrates' bench. Women have also been members of the Privy Council and, of course, of the House of Commons. But as the noble Marquess has said, the Government's case does not stand alone on the fact that women have been for some time Members of the House of Commons and, therefore, should be Members of the House of Lords. Lord Saltoun said that that seemed to him to be a faulty analogy. Perhaps it may not be quite so faulty. I do not think it was as faulty as his analogy between landlubbers and fishwives in his parish council.
I beg the noble Earl's pardon, but I never used terms of this kind about my own people, whom I respect and to whom I am deeply indebted.
THE EARL OF HOME
So am but it does not stop one commenting on the analogy of landlubbers and fishwives.
I repeat that I did not use those terms. I spoke of "landward folk" and the "fishing population."
THE EARL OF HOME
I thank the noble Lord for that correction. Over a wide range of our national activities women are taking a very active and useful part, and it is surely time that they were in your Lordships' House. That really is the Government's case.
I would only underline what the noble Viscount the Leader of the Opposition said, to the effect that there have really been no comings and goings between us on this question of the admission of women to this House. So, without wasting any more of your Lordships' time—I think you are ready to go to a Division if the noble Earl wishes to press his Amendment to a Division—I would say that the Government's line is quite plain. I hope that it will have the support of your Lordships, and that we shall decide to admit women to your Lordships' House.
Will the noble Earl give the House a further assurance on this matter? If this Bill goes through in its present form, a great deal of room will be necessary for the accommodation of Members. Are he and the Government prepared to supply it?
§ 4.24 p.m.
THE EARL OF AIRLIE
I believe that, with your Lordships' permission, I am allowed to say one or two words at the end of this discussion. I have listened with a great deal of interest to everything. said by your Lordships, and I cannot honestly say that I feel the slightest bit repentant or convinced that my reason for setting down this Amendment was wrong. May I say, very shortly, in regard to the speech of the noble and gallant Admiral, that it left me with a bad taste in the mouth about the words which he used, "petty prejudice". That is a thing which I do not want to be charged with. I have no petty prejudice. All through my theme has been this—and let me say to the noble Earl, Lord Home, that I am quite decided. I have said: Let us see how the reforms go on and how they work, and then, if you think it right to put in the ladies, have them in. I have been quite strong on that point all the way through—at least, I hope I have. I am not going to withdraw my Amendment as I have been advised not to do so. I have listened to the Lord Chancellor, and my impression is that I should not withdraw it in favour of Lord Saltoun's Amendment.
I think that what the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, said about Lord Greenhill's speech was very apt. Certainly it helped raise the debate to a very good standard. The noble Earl the Leader of the House has; said that I was not decided. I should like to say I was completely decided on the question. I do not think that the ladies will work into this House, but I probably shall not be here to see, so it will not affect me. I think that I have been perfectly honest all through. I said, "Wait until you have seen your reforms working before you decide to admit women ". It seems to me to be only common sense, but I may be wrong. I do not in the least apologise for putting down this Amendment. If I have helped to make your Lordships' 1235 House a laughing stock, I am sorry; that is the last thing that I should wish to do. I put down the Amendment for the purpose of getting this matter clear, so that the country may know how we feel about this question. For that reason, I propose
§ to take any of your Lordships who may care to follow me into the Division Lobby.
§ On Question, Whether the said Amendment shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 30; Not-Contents, 134.1235
|Cholmondeley, M.||Wimborne, V.||Grantchester, L.|
|Airlie, E. [Teller.]||Amulree, L.||Hatherton, L.|
|Breadalbane and Holland, E.||Annaly, L.||Kinnaird, L.|
|Cork and Orrery, E.||Brocket, L.||Milverton, L.|
|Coventry, E.||Bruntisfield, L.||Monkswell, L.|
|Glasgow, E. [Teller.]||Colwyn, L.||Newall, L.|
|Howe, E.||Denham, L.||Saltoun, L.|
|Digby, L.||Sherwood, L.|
|Long, V.||Elton, L.||Strathcona and Mount Royal, L.|
|Massereene and Ferrard, V.||Forbes, L.||Thurlow, L.|
|Kilmuir, V. (L. Chancellor.)||Esher, V.||Howard of Glossop, L.|
|FitzAlan of Derwent, V.||Hurcomb, L.|
|Hailsham, V. (L. President.)||Gage, V.||Jessel, L.|
|Goschen, V.||Keith of Avonholm, L.|
|Sutherland, D.||Harcourt, V.||Lawson, L.|
|Wellington, D.||Hyndley, V.||Layton, L.|
|Margesson, V.||Leconfield, L.|
|Lansdowne, M.||Mersey, V.||Lucas of Chilworth, L.|
|Reading, M.||Monckton of Brenchley, V.||McCorquodale of Newton, L.|
|Salisbury, M.||Samuel, V.||McNair, L.|
|Willingdon, M.||Simonds, V.||Mancroft, L.|
|Soulbury, V.||Mathers, L.|
|Amherst, E.||Stansgate, V.||Merrivale, L.|
|Attlee, E.||Stonehaven, V.||Mills, L.|
|Beauchamp, E.||Templewood, V.||Milner of Leeds, L.|
|Buckinghamshire, E.||Moran, L.|
|Carlisle, E.||Addington, L.||Morton of Henryton, L.|
|Cranbrook, E.||Ashbourne, L.||Mottistone, L.|
|De La Warr, E.||Ashton of Hyde, L.||Moyne, L.|
|Dundee, E.||Baden-Powell, L.||Noel-Buxton, L.|
|Fortescue. E. [Teller.]||Barnby, L.||Oaksey, L.|
|Gosford, E.||Birdwood, L.||Ogmore, L.|
|Grey, E.||Brand, L.||Pakenham, L.|
|Home, E.||Braye, L.||Rathcavan, L.|
|Huntingdon, E.||Chatfield, L.||Rathcreedan, L.|
|Iveagh, E.||Chesham, L.||Rea, L.|
|Limerick, E.||Clitheroe, L.||Remnant, L.|
|Lonsdale, E.||Congleton, L.||Russell of Liverpool, L.|
|Lucan, E.||Craigmyle, L.||Sandford, L.|
|Mansfield, E.||Cromwell, L.||Sandys, L.|
|Morley, E.||Darwen, L.||Saye and Sele, L.|
|Onslow. E. [Teller.]||Dormer, L.||Shepherd, L.|
|Perth, E.||Dovercourt, L.||Silkin, L.|
|Poulett, E.||Ellenborough, L.||Somers, L.|
|St. Aldwyn, E.||Ennisdale, L.||Strabolgi, L.|
|Selkirk, E.||Erskine, L.||Strang, L.|
|Swinton, E.||Freyberg, L.||Strathclyde, L.|
|Waldegrave, E.||Gifford, L.||Stratheden and Campbell, L.|
|Winterton, E.||Gorell, L.||Swaythling, L.|
|Gridley, L.||Teviot, L.|
|Alexander of Hillsborough, V.||Haden-Guest, L.||Teynham, L.|
|Astor, V.||Hailey, L.||Tollemache, L.|
|Bledisloe, V.||Hamilton of Dalzell, L.||Williams, L.|
|Bridgeman, V.||Hampton, L.||Winster, L.|
|Bridport, V.||Hardinge of Penshurst, L.||Wise, L.|
|Colville of Culross, V.||Harvey of Tasburgh, L.||Wolverton, L.|
|Devonport, V.||Hawke, L.|
Resolved in the negative, and Amendment disagreed to accordingly.
§ 4.30 p.m.
LORD LUCAS OF CHILWORTH moved, in subsection (1), after "life" to insert:
, if such person has signified his preference for such life peerage in lieu of a hereditary peerage.
§ The noble Lord said: When your Lordships gave this Bill a Second Reading, you accepted the principle that in future the composition of the House should be a mixture of Life Peers and hereditary Peers. I am not concerned this afternoon in arguing the principle. The reason I have put down this Amendment is to find out from the Government what are their intentions and how they are going to work. I shall not ask your Lordships to divide on this Amendment, because I do not think that it covers properly all the points at issue, but when I have heard what the Government have to say, then at some future stage I may consider putting down another Amendment in the light of the Government reply.
§ The reason I have put down the Amendment is this. If my fears are well-founded, and if the advice I have received is correct, I feel that the result of this Bill as it stands will be not a stronger House of Lords, but merely the creation of another, and inferior, class of Peers—a peerage second-class. If I am correct, I can imagine no worse foundation for building a future workable, harmonious structure in your Lordships' House. So I should like to ask the noble Earl the Leader of the House this first question: is the offer of a Peerage in the future to be unconditional? Is it within the prospective recipient's clear choice as to whether it is a life peerage or a hereditary peerage? So that there may be no mistake about what I mean, I will phrase my question in another way. Suppose the prospective recipient is offered a life peerage and he expresses a preference for an hereditary peerage, is it within his choice which he takes up? If not, and if my assumption is correct, then immediately a second class of peerage is instituted.
§ It has been the custom—I do not say the invariable custom—for Secretaries of State or Ministers, when they come from the other place, to be elevated to your Lordships' House with the style and title of "Viscount". We have three who sit on the Opposition Front Bench: my noble Leader, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, 1238 the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, and the noble Viscount, Lord Hall; and in addition, we have an ex-Prime Minister sitting on this Front Bench ennobled with the dignity and title of "Earl". If we could put the clock back, if this Bill had been in operation and those four Members, who have contributed considerably to your Lordships' House, had chosen life peerage, as I read this Bill they would not have been Earls or Viscounts; they would have been Barons. I want to ask the noble Earl the Leader of the House whether I am right in that assumption and whether he thinks that is the correct thing to do,
The third question is this. In my experience of your Lordships' House, it has been the practice for Members of your Lordships' House to be elevated above their original rank for meritorous service: the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, has been elevated twice, the noble Earl, Lord Woolton, twice, and the noble Viscount, Lord Leathers, once; and on this side of the House there was the example of the late Lord Jowitt. Are we to say in future that if a man, through quite proper circumstances, comes to your Lordships' House as a Life Peer, meritorous though his service to your Lordships' House may be, he is debarred from any reward of merit of that description, unless in both cases the Minister who comes up from the other place, or the Life Peer, will undertake, or consent, if he is given the opportunity, to become an hereditary Peer? In other words, are the rewards of your Lordships' House to be confined in future to those who are given, or those who choose, an hereditary peerage; and are those who come here as Life Peers to be denied those rewards? I should like to have an answer to that question.
When the noble Earl the Leader of the House moved the Second Reading of this Bill, he confined practically the whole of his remarks upon life peerages to their benefit to the Opposition. He left the impression on my mind—and I feel sure I was not the only one—that one of the main objects of the introduction of life peerages was to strengthen the Opposition. May I quote—if your Lordships will forgive me—precisely what the noble Earl said? [OFFICIAL REPORT, Vol. 206 (No. 13), col. 610]:
There is, as all your Lordships know, a small number of noble Lords opposite who enable us to present to the world a picture
of a House which is efficient and informed and which maintains a high level of debate. But, equally, we know that this is a brave facade and that on a small number of noble Lords opposite there is falling a strain which they cannot and should not be asked to carry much longer and that this House is perilously near a breakdown in its machinery. That situation can, in the opinion of the Government and I think of all your Lordships, be eased if the Prime Minister is given the discretion to offer life peerages to those persons who feel, for various good reasons, that they cannot accept hereditary peerages to-day.
In the selection and appointment of Life Peers, the emphasis will be on the appointment of persons who can help the working of Parliament.
§ I hope I am not misinterpreting what the noble Earl said, but he then passed on to other aspects of the Bill.
The noble Earl may be right. As circumstances are, I do not think that the creation of life peerages is going to help the position at all. But that is another aspect of the case. Suppose he is right, and suppose in future there is a majority of Life Peers, for excellent reasons into which I need not go, sitting on this side of the House. Your Lordships surely would not like those Members to came to your Lordships' House rather on the footing of poor relations who, through economic and other circumstances, could not sustain a Class 1 Peerage. Surely, there is only one way in which the future of your Lordships' House can be based, and perhaps I can best example it by quoting the words of that famous philosopher, W. S. Gilbert, who once wrote a parody of your Lordships' House in which he said:
And all shall equal be".
Can your Lordships really envisage, and has it ever been envisaged, that there should be an atmosphere in your Lordships' House of "Gentlemen and Players"—"Professionals and Others"? Surely, if anybody serves your Lordships' House meritoriously he should be entitled to a reward, without having to give up his life barony and have an hereditary peerage conferred upon him.
§ I feel strongly that this matter has never been explained to your Lordships' House. My worst fears are that my assumptions in this regard are correct. According to this Bill, so I am advised, once a Life Peer, always a Life Peer, and the only way that one can be elevated to higher rank is by giving up that life 1240 peerage and becoming an hereditary Peer. That is the simple reason why I have put this Amendment down. I thought it only proper to ask the Government if they would explain whether I am right or wrong, and what their intentions are. With those words, I beg to move.
Page 1, line 8, after ("life") insert the said words.—(Lord Lucas of Chilworth.)
§ LORD CLITHEROE
The noble Lord has made a point which I am sure we all well understand, but I do not myself quite like the way in which he has sought-by the words he has set down, to meet the point.
§ LORD LUCAS OF CHILWORTH
I thought I explained. If I had wanted to meet all those points I should have had to put down about six Amendments. I put down one Amendment for the convenience of your Lordships.
§ LORD CLITHEROE
I thank the noble Lord. I wonder whether the point which has been made so well could not have been achieved much more simply. I appreciate that it might well be considered appropriate that some rank higher than that of a Baron should be conferred on a Life Peer. If the words, "as a baron" were omitted, it would leave the clause to read:to rank under such style as may be appointed by letters patent.I should prefer to do it in that way, because in the way the noble Lord has set down his Amendment there is a suggestion of some sort of interference with the discretion of the Crown, which I do not like. I should not like to put it into words, although I can understand exactly what is meant. If the words "as a baron" were omitted, then I think the noble Lord's point would be made, and it would be an Amendment of which I should much approve.
§ LORD WINSTER
If I understand this Amendment aright, it would undercut what I believe to be the main purpose of the Bill, which is to enable the Prime Minister of the day to strengthen this House by the creation of life peerages instead of hereditary peerages, to which some exception has been making itself felt. But this Amendment, surely, would impose upon the Prime Minister the necessity of saying to a man upon whom 1241 he had his eye, "You can have either an hereditary peerage or a life peerage, whichever you choose." It may be that many to whom that choice was offered would opt for an hereditary peerage. That would lead to the creation of more hereditary peers, which I do not believe to be the object of this Bill. As I understand it, this Bill in no way rules out the prerogative of the Prime Minister in recommending to the Sovereign the creation of an hereditary peerage. But that seems to me a very different thing from saying, in a Bill which aims at strengthening the House by the creation of Life Peers, that the Prime Minister must offer the option between a life peerage and an hereditary peerage. One effect of carrying this Amendment would undoubtedly be to add to the number of hereditary Peers, and I myself could never consent to any Amendment which had that effect. For that reason, I am opposed to the Amendment, and hope that it will not be carried.
§ 4.59 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
Perhaps the Lord Chancellor might help us by saying whether, before the Wensleydale decision, the Crown had the right to create other ranks of Life Peers besides Barons. I am not quite clear about that. I know that the Crown did have the power to create life Members of this House before the Wensleydale judgment, but I am not sure whether or not that included all ranks of the peerage.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
I will willingly help as far as I can. But I must "jump on" one phrase which my noble friend Lord Dundee used; and that was his use of the words "of this House." The Wensleydale decision was that the Crown could create life peerages, but that it could not create life peerages which gave a right to sit and vote in this House. The position is that the Wensleydale decision does not throw any doubt on the Prerogative of the Crown to create life peerages, and the life peerages may be of any rank. But the life peerages conferred since the Wensleydale decision do not confer a right to sit and vote. In fact, I do not think that, since the Wensleydale decision, any life peerage has been made at all, except the statutory life peerages for Lords of Appeal in Ordinary. who are the Law Lords. But the right of the Crown, in my view, as I said in 1242 answer to something said by my noble friend Lord Saltoun, remains unimpaired.
It would be a matter of policy whether any Prime Minister would ever choose to recommend to the Sovereign to make Life Peers of a higher rank than Baron; but in order to sit and vote in the House they would have to be made Barons under this Bill. Whether promotion would take place would be a matter of policy, and something on which no one would ever like to commit a Prime Minister of the future. But, as a matter of law, it would not be impossible to do it, in my view—and I think it is consistent with all the authorities—under the Prerogative of the Crown. That is the legal position. I do not know if I have made it clear to my noble friend Lord Dundee. If there is any other point I shall be glad to answer it.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
The Bill was supposed merely to nullify the effects of the Wensleydale decision, but were there any cases of Barons before that who could sit in the House as Life Peers?
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
That is the great argument. The majority in the Wensleydale case said that there were no examples of Life Peers who had sat in your Lordships' House. The minority said that that was at any rate a doubtful proposition. There were a large number of life peerages from the Middle Ages to the eighteenth century which were conferred both on men and women, but what the majority in the Wensleydale case said was that there was no evidence that the recipients of those life peerages had ever sat in your Lordships' House; and they decided that the Crown had not the right to confer a life peerage which gave the power to sit and vote in your Lordships' House. I certainly take the view, from my study of the matter, that the right of the Crown to create a life peerage of any degree remains untouched by the Wensleydale decision and still exists.
§ LORD LATHAM
Could the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor help me on this point? Is it or is it not the case that in the creation of hereditary Peers, of whatever rank, the Peer must first be made a Baron?
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
No, it is not necessary. I always hesitate to take an example, but I think that the 1243 second title of the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, is a Viscountcy; and there are many other examples.
§ LORD CLITHEROE
I wondered whether any answer would be given to the suggestion I made, that by leaving out the three words "as a baron" all these difficulties are resolved at once.
THE EARL OF HOME
We shall have to think about that a little further. Perhaps I could give a general answer to the noble Lord, Lord Lucas of Chilworth. He recognises, of course, that we could not accept the wording of his Amendment, which would prevent the Prime Minister of the day from recommending that a life peerage be conferred on anyone who had not expressed preference for it over an hereditary peerage. I am rather tempted to accept the Amendment in a way, because it would mean that a Socialist Prime Minister would always have to give an hereditary peerage to anybody he was considering. But it would be an undesirable rigidity and we think that it should remain within the discretion of the Prime Minister whether he recommends a life peerage or an hereditary peerage. He will, of course, take into account the circumstances of each individual and the situation in the House at the time. He can therefore decide whether a life peerage or an hereditary peerage is the more appropriate in the individual case.
I think the noble Lord. Lord Lucas of Chilworth, was afraid that Life Peers might become of secondary importance to hereditary Peers. I do not know whether he is aware of the fact, but the same fear was expressed in the days of 1856. At that time Lord Grey said almost exactly the same as the noble Lord has said now. He said:We are told that Peers, sitting for life, would be inferior to those who sit under hereditary title … I think that is entirely un-founded … When Lord Wensleydale takes his seat … will any man pretend that his authority … would be in the slightest degree diminished by the fact that his patent does not contain the usual words continuing his dignity to his descendants?In modern times we all, I suppose, know many distinguished people outside the House whom we could bring in; and nobody would look upon them as being inferior to anybody who holds an hereditary peerage. So I do not think the 1244 noble Lord need have this fear. As to his question, would the recipient be given a choice, the answer is, of course, that the Prime Minister of the day would discuss every aspect with the recipient when he was considering the peerage; but discretion would remain with the Prime Minister.
On the other point, I think the noble Lord has been answered by my noble and learned friend, the Lord Chancellor. If I understood him aright (he will correct me if I am wrong) he takes the view that it would be within the power of the Crown anyhow to elevate a Life Peer to a higher rank, provided that he was already a Life Baron and could sit as a Life Baron in this House.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
Do I understand from the noble Earl the Leader of the House that the Government have decided against the conferment of future hereditary peerages?
THE EARL OF HOME
Certainly not. I do not think that was part of any plan, either the plan of the noble Marquess or the Government's plan. Of course, discretion will be with the Prime Minister. I hope I did not give that impression. Did any words I used give that impression?
§ LORD LUCAS OF CHILWORTH
I am grateful to the noble Earl for what he has said. Would he take into consideration every point that has been raised and see whether something could be included in this Bill to make clear the question of future preferment on merit? I expect I am at fault in not being able clearly to understand, but neither the Lord Chancellor nor the noble Earl, Lord Home, made it clear whether any future Ministers or Secretaries of State can come to your Lordships' House under the same entitlement in the future as in the past. Would the noble and learned Viscount answer that point?
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
There is no rule, in the sense of something binding on anyone. It is only a convention that has been followed; and the convention is dependent on the fact that, up to the present, hereditary peerages 1245 have been the only type of peerage that could be conferred. I think it is very difficult for anyone to indicate what future Prime Ministers will do. I would rather the noble Lord did not press me on what I think might happen, because it might be taken that I was committing my right honourable friend the Prime Minister, which, of course, I cannot do. I have told hint, to the best of my knowledge, of the powers open, and I have given what I believe to be an accurate account. I think that one cannot go further in committing the present or a future Prime Minister, and I should be grateful if the noble Lord would not press me on that point; it is a most delicate one.
§ LORD LUCAS OF CHILWORTH
I think the noble and learned Viscount really appreciates my fear, and I think the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury, just gave tongue to it. It may well be that hereditary Peers will always be appointed by the Prime Minister of one Party and that Life Peers will always be appointed by the Prime Minister of another Party. Although humour has been rather taboo in your Lordships' House this afternoon, I remember the delightful speech of the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, upon the Motion of Lord Swinton, when he said that any Peer who applied for leave of absence would be immediately dubbed as a "ticket of leave" man; and it flashed through my mind that I should not like all noble Lords sitting on this side of the House to be known as "lifers." I have felt, ever since I have been here, that one of the great joys of your Lordships' House is that there has been an entire absence of any class distinction. That, I think, has made this House work. Whether there were a substantial number of Life Peers in this House or not would make no difference to the feeling of your Lordships in any part of the House, but I should not like it thought in the country that there were two classes.
I am grateful to noble Lords who have spoken. I should perhaps make it clear that I am personally responsible for this Amendment, and in anything that I have said I am expressing only my own views and giving tongue to my own fears. I hope that, perhaps before the passage of this Bill is completed, the Government will be able to give some consideration to the suggestions that were made by noble Lords from below the gangway 1246 on the Government side of the House. With the permission of the Committee, I ask leave to withdraw my Amendment.
THE EARL OF AIRLIE
Did I take up the noble Earl the Leader of the House wrongly? I understood him to indicate that there were to be no more hereditary peerages at all.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
§ 5.13 p.m.
LORD LUCAS OF CHILWORTH moved in subsection. (2) to insert the following paragraph:
(c) to receive such emoluments as shall from time to time be determined.
§ The noble Lord said: Here, again, perhaps some of your Lordships may quarrel with the wording of this Amendment, but again the only reason why I have put it down is to attempt to make a practical suggestion that would get your Lordships out of the dilemma as to how it may be made possible for those Life Peers who are not blest with an economic competence to spend the major part of their time here. Ever since this subject of the reform of your Lordships' House has been discussed I have never wavered in my conviction that it matters not whether you have hereditary Peers or Life Peers; the fundamental of the success of your Lordships' House is whether you can attract the right people to come here. And the right people will have to be compensated for coming here; in other words, the problem is one of economics.
§ I have given considerable thought to this matter because on the Motion of the noble Earl, Lord Swinton, I rather humorously stated, although I was serious in intent, that the higher the emolument the less likely will leave of absence be asked for. I have looked at every other suggestion that has been made. As a taxpayer, I should be against paying large sums of money to satisfy the whim of nearly 800 Peers who may wish to attend. Therefore I have come down on the side of trying to work out how many labourers—if I may use an expression used by the noble Marquess, Lord Salisbury—are required.1247
§ One of our troubles and difficulties is that politics should never be a whole time job for anybody. The only reason it has been a whole time job for a few of us on this side of the House is because of our sparsity of numbers. Unfortunately, even if the number of those who could give more time could be increased, the difficulty of the job is that it is not so big as to warrant the title of a full-time occupation, abut it is too heavy a responsibility for casual attendance. How are we to draw the line between the two? Frankly, I think that the present basis of three guineas per day expenses is quite enough to pay to the "backwoodsman" who comes along in regard to a certain subject once or twice a year. But as a member of the Opposition Front Bench, and as one who has been very heavily engaged on some of the major Bills that have gone through your Lordships' House, my practical experience is that my travelling from the country to London is heavier when the House is not sitting than it is when the House is sitting, because of the conferences and the meetings that one has to attend, and the devilling that one has to do—it cannot be done on the Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday when the House is sitting.
§ I said in an earlier debate that we want "the rate for the job," and my noble friend Lord Stansgate said, "You have not told us what the job is." I am now telling him; that is the job. It was a busy time in your Lordships' House when such Bills as the Copyright Bill, the Restrictive Trade Practices Bill and the Road Traffic Bill were, practically simultaneously, going through the House. Some of us had to give nearly six days a week to the job on that occasion. We are not all blessed with town houses and we have to travel, as one might say, outside the ordinary emolument compass or bracket of three days a week.
§ With that explanation, I am going to put forward my suggestion. I do not want to be committed to numbers, but I am going to make a suggestion with regard to numbers. I think that we on this side of the House want twenty Peers, selected by the Leader of the Opposition at the beginning of every Session, upon whom he can count for daily service on subjects which he would allocate. That does not mean that that twenty have to 1248 be here every day, but that when there is a subject which is within their field they have to spend their time on it—doing the devilling, composing and presenting the Committee stage Amendments, and dealing with all the paraphernalia which we have called, colloquially, "the chores". It may be that Her Majesty's Government do not want quite as many, because they have their Front Bench; but the numbers could be agreed between the Leaders; and doubtless the Liberal Party would want a number.
§ That would entail payment. What is the rate for the job? Some of us may think that the rate for the job has been settled by another place—whether too much or too little I am not going to venture an opinion, though personally I should think it too little—at £1,500 a year or something less. I do not think £1,500 a year is a great deal, but it has been decided that that is about the rate for a political job: it may be a little more or a little less, and travelling expenses may be included. But by that means we should have a nucleus of daily attenders to take over the drudgery and the donkeywork of Committee stages, the scrutiny of Orders and other duties.
§ There is the advantage that the Treasury would know their precise commitment. The Treasury would never agree to pay a large sum of money per capita on everyone who could come to your Lordships' House. I believe that that is as near as we shall ever get to a workable arrangement. Your Lordships may criticise it, saying that it will result in patronage, either from the Leader of the House on his side or from the Leader of the Opposition; but while people are going to be selected to come to your Lordships' House, there will always be an element of patronage. I believe that if this were done every Session we could trust the Leader of the House and the Leaders of the Opposition and of the Liberal Party to work out a feasible scheme on those lines.
§ There is no necessity for that scheme to be contained in any Bill; in fact, I feel that in any case a Bill would be the wrong place for it. I put this suggestion forward as my own idea, so that it can be condemned by anyone who cares; but, having had twelve years' experience, I know that we have to do something. We cannot go on hedging on this question, 1249 and this will give the Bill a chance of working, if it stands any chance of doing so. Because whether we have Life Peers or hereditary Peers, the economics are the same for both—and very likely they will be more stern and more strict for Life Peers than for hereditary Peers. I beg to move.
Page 1, line 16, at end insert the said paragraph.—(Lord Lucas of Chilworth.)
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
Before the noble Earl the Leader of the House replies to the speech of my noble friend Lord Lucas of Chilworth, I think it is only right to say that this Amendment is submitted entirely on his own volition and that the arguments which he has used in no way represent the general and considered views of the Party which I have the honour to lead in your Lordships' House. It has certainly led him into pretty deep waters to-day and into arguing on the kind of thing that might happen and the basis which might be made, and other things of that kind, which certainly have not been discussed in any detail by members of the Party that sit on these Benches. I am therefore quite unable to accept the submission of those views in their present form.
It is true that there are solid reasons for improving the efficiency of your Lordships' House in general by leading on to the position where the Peers who do the work (whether they be hereditary or Life Peers) should be able to avoid embarrassment through lack of means in doing the job that they have chosen to do. That is a principle by which we can all abide. But as this Bill is drawn and as the Title goes, it seems to me to be an unnecessary Amendment at this stage. Perhaps my noble friend may say, "It is a ' fishing' Amendment. I wanted to get information"; but certainly I, on behalf of my Party, cannot take any responsibility for it. I believe that it is unnecessary and I certainly do not want to start this House towards a position in which, not in a general debate on a principle on which a resolution of opinion can be carried, but on an actual piece of legislation laid before your Lordships, you should seek to pin down a financial principle in a Bill for transmission to another place. Once this is accepted in principle 1250 it certainly has to be legislated upon by another place alone, and the initiation of this legislation should come from them, and not from us. I am therefore quite unable, at the present moment, to agree with my noble friend on this matter.
I hope that I shall not be accused of self-interest if I speak in defence of those who find financial difficulty. I am sure that I speak, not only for myself but also for many others. I think, in particular, that it is highly likely I am speaking in defence of a great many Members of your Lordships' House who are so heartily condemned for their non-attendance. There are a great many difficulties connected with this problem. The noble Lord, Lord Lucas of Chilworth, spoke of the "backwoodsman" who comes up for a solitary attendance, but your Lordships will remember that although that Peer gets his three guineas expenses, he does not get his railway fare unless he attends for not less than 33 ⅓ per cent. of the Sittings of the House. Naturally that makes his railway fare a considerable item if he lives a long way away.
There are other factors to be considered. A Peer may be occupied in some work which he has to get permission to leave; or he may be a man who does a great deal of his own work, and if he leaves it in order to attend this House he has to employ somebody else to do it for him, which involves expense. I feel, therefore, that if we are to expect people to put in their full attendance here when they are not financially qualified to do so, the words moved by the noble Lord, Lord Lucas of Chilworth, are very appropriate. We do not, of course, want a set salary (if one may call it that) which will be exactly equal for those who attend and those who do not. I have always been, and remain, against the principle of paying people for something that they do not do; but I believe that position could quite easily be met by making an agreed payment for each day on which a Peer attended. The exact figure could be arrived at by discussion between those who know a great deal more about the subject than I do. I believe that this question of making things easier for those who find the position financially very difficult but who are none the less anxious to take their part in the activities of the House should be very seriously 1251 considered before we reject this Amendment.
Before the noble Earl the Leader of the House replies, may the Committee be quite clear on one point? It seems to me that in the speeches which have been made on this Amendment there has been a general discussion as to the emoluments of Members of this House. But surely the Amendment is by its wording restricted entirely to Life Peers. So far as I can understand the Amendment—I hope I may be told—if it were to be passed, only new creations under this clause—that is, Life Peers—would receive such emoluments. The general question of emoluments for Members of your Lordships' House as a whole is left entirely untouched.
§ LORD LUCAS OF CHILWORTH
I thought I had made the position clear—my powers of exposition must be weakening. This was put down only to enable me to make the suggestion I did make. I thought I said at the outset that I was not going to press the Amendment. But I thought it was time that somebody made a practical suggestion, because we have been waltzing around this subject now for two or three years; and I was perfectly well aware that once emoluments were given to Life Peers they would have to be given to all. The Amendment was the peg upon which to hang my remarks. When the Leader of the House has replied, I shall withdraw it.
§ LORD KILLEARN
Might I intervene for one second? It seemed to me that there was one particular point on this Amendment which might arise, though I hope it does not. It is that there should be no question of a means test. I suggest that we do not want to have a means test in this House. I rose simply to make that point.
THE EARL OF HOME
The noble Lord, Lord Gorell, is quite right. If the Amendment were accepted, as the noble Lord, Lord Lucas of Chilworth, admits, Life Peers would be eligible for remuneration and hereditary Peers would not; and that would be inconsistent with his previous Amendment, upon which I recollect he said that he did not want to divide us into "gentlemen" and "players." But he has used this Amendment as a peg on which to hang a short contribution on the question of pay. I do not know that I 1252 can do any more to-day than state, quite briefly, some of the problems. The Lord Chancellor said in the previous debate that the Government certainly did not shut any doors, nor did we shut our eyes to this problem; and it is, of course, a problem which faces us all. Our aim (and I do not think there is any difference of opinion on this) is to provide the means which will enable a Peer to fulfil his duty to the House, without at the same time turning this House into a Chamber of salaried professional politicians. The question is: how are we to do it? What are the means of doing this?
Recently we decided to adopt a scheme whereby anyone who attends a day's Sitting can claim up to a maximum of three guineas a day towards his expenses. I would just remind your Lordships that this is the first time that anything of this kind has been done. It has been done by this Government. I do not want to claim undue credit, but at least it is a move in the right direction, and I should like time to see what effect the scheme has on this House and on the attendance. And, as I think my noble friend Lord Hailsham was a little misunderstood the other day, I think it would probably be wise to say this: having just passed the three guineas arrangement, we do not want, in the present situation in the country, to see your Lordships clamouring for a rise after a few months, and then for another rise after a further few months. If we are to find a scheme it is better to find one and get it settled. A considerable number of schemes have been put up. The scheme which would tie pay to attendance is one possibility. Then there is the scheme which the noble Lord has just canvassed, whereby, I take it, there would be a combination of daily expenses for those who attended and salaries for a certain number: a scheme, as Lord Killearn says, which should contain no features of a means test. That is going to tax the ingenuity of people a great deal.
The noble Lord, Lord Lucas of Chilworth, spoke about the other place; and, of course, the other place does set a kind of measure and yardstick for us. In the other place, remuneration is in total, as I understand it, £1,750 a year, £1,000 of which is looked upon as salary and £750 as expenses related to the constituency of the Member concerned. Now we in your Lordships' House have not got constituencies; therefore, the maximum salary 1253 we should claim, if that is to be the yardstick, is about £1,000 a year. Which is the better, an expense allowance within the region of three guineas, which would be untaxed, or £1,000 a year which would be taxed? That is the sort of question we have to consider. We have to consider whether a salary of £1,000 a year as a maximum would do anything to attract Members to your Lordships' House. I can name only some of the considerations that we shall have to consider altogether, and I suggest these things would be better considered altogether in private, when we can try to work out a scheme which would suit us all. I cannot hold out any hopes that in the immediate or near future we could arrive at such a scheme, but we are perfectly willing to consider all aspects of this question, because it is a problem which the whole House will have to face.
§ LORD LUCAS OF CHILWORTH
I am grateful to the noble Earl for what he has said. My Amendment has served its purpose. All I put it down for was to try to make some practical contribution, because we have been talking about this subject for such a long time, and the Committee stage of a Bill is for the consideration of all possible means of making it work. This is my small contribution to something which I think will be to a large degree workable. I ask permission to withdraw the Amendment.
§ VISCOUNT SAMUEL
Before the noble Lord withdraws it, may I ask the Leader of the House whether he would consider this suggestion? The House is to appoint a new Select Committee to carry on with the work of what is usually called the Swinton Committee with regard to the attendance of Members. Would it be possible to draw the terms of reference of that Committee, those terms not having been yet decided upon, so as to enable them, if they so desire, to consider also this question of salaries, which is very closely associated with the whole question of the attendance of members? I was glad to hear the noble Earl the Leader of the House say that this question of salaries or expenses has to be considered as a subject in itself, separately, carefully and in detail. Possibly that could be done by a Select Committee and, if it were to be done by a 1254 Select Committee, might it save time and trouble if this duty also were to be committed to the second "Swinton Committee"?
THE EARL OF HOME
I did, in fact, indicate that I wanted time to find out how the arrangement of paying three guineas a day worked; and I indicated also that I did not think It would be proper and seemly, in the present situation in the country, to hustle along with another instalment of "more pay for Peers". Therefore, I am not inclined (although, of course, I will consider anything put forward by the noble Viscount) to give this work to the Swinton Committee to do—I should prefer to have conversations. I must tell the House that I do not foresee in the near future any prospect of adopting a plan, but I should like to have conversations to see what is possible, and then perhaps we could consider again the next stage.
§ VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLSBOROUGH
I am very much obliged for what the noble Earl the Leader of the House has said. I quite understand the reason for which he made his suggestion, and there seems to be an affinity between the ideas. But some of us have very little sympathy with the kind of work the Swinton Committee will now be doing, or with its purpose and object; and we should much prefer now to pursue the line just mentioned by the Leader of the House and see what comes of it.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
THE EARL OF AIRLIE
had given notice of an Amendment to leave out subsection (3). The noble Earl said: I do not propose to move this Amendment, but I should just like to say this. I am still quite unrepentant: you are getting, I am afraid, a worse second Chamber. But if I have been instrumental at all in forcing a decisive action before your Lordships, I am glad to have provided the peg on which to hang the hat, so that the action of the House of Lords has been clarified completely to the country. That is what we really want, and that is why we move these Amendments and have these discussions in your Lordships' House.
THE EARL OF HOME
We are grateful to the noble Earl for his persistence, for being consistent in putting forward the case which he did put forward and 1255 for presenting it in such a persuasive, although unsuccessful, way.
On Question, Whether Clause 1 shall stand part of the Bill?
§ 5.40 p.m.
THE EARL OF MANSFIELD
I think it will be for the convenience of the Committee and will possibly save a certain amount of time if I take this opportunity of informing Her Majesty's Government and your Lordships that I do not propose to move the new clause standing in my name on the Marshalled List. But before doing so I should like to have some assurance from Her Majesty's Government that they will consider points that are contained in that now clause.
In Clause 1, which we are about to pass, and which is, in fact, the whole of the Bill (unless the Government accept any Amendment, which I rather think they are not going to do), your Lordships have for the first time accepted the principle that women shall be Members of your Lordships' House. I remember. though somewhat dimly, that some ten years ago the noble Viscount, Lord Cecil of Chelwood, brought forward a Motion in which he desired that your Lordships should approve the principle of hereditary peerages being extended to women in the case of those who were created Peers, but without mention of existing peerages. I had down a separate Motion, that Peeresses in their own right should also be permitted to sit, since that was not covered by the noble Viscount's Motion. Lord Cecil of Chelwood's Motion was received with so much general opposition that he withdrew it. I did not move mine, as it was clear at that time that your Lordships were strongly against the admission of women.
Today, things are very different; and by an overwhelming majority your Lordships have for the first time accepted the future presence of women among you. I would submit, however, that Clause 1 of this Bill creates a most unfortunate and unjustifiable anomaly, inasmuch as it permits the introduction of women as Life Peers but does nothing whatever to regularise the position of those women who have succeeded to hereditary peerages and who, but for the accident of sex, would be sitting in your Lordships' House. And I feel that, as Her Majesty's Government have, very rightly, accepted 1256 the continuance of the hereditary principle, it is rather an insult that they should not also be willing to accept the presence of those ladies who, but for the accident of sex, would be already among us.
I would therefore ask Her Majesty's Government whether, in future legislation within the lifetime of this Parliament, they will consider introducing another small Bill which will remedy this added injustice and, at the same time, put an end to the anomaly of the position of 'those Peers of Scotland who are not elected Representative Peers. There are approximately thirty of them and, from the point of view of legislation and the Government of the country, they are neither "fish, flesh, fowl, nor good red herring." If they are not elected as Representative Peers they cannot vote in a Parliamentary Election and cannot be elected Members of another place. Surely it is only elementary justice that this extraordinary position, which has now gone on for 250 years, should be put right. I would therefore ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will produce such legislation, or, if they should not think fit to do so, would adopt an attitude of benevolent neutrality if one of your Lordships should take it upon himself to do so.
§ 5.44 p.m.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
I am much too anxious to see this Bill on the Statute Book as speedily as possible to press the Government to do anything which might in any way prejudice its chances. I think the Bill is designed to do the greatest possible amount of good with the least possible amount of controversy. I quite understand the reasons why it was not thought desirable to include what my noble friend Lord Mansfield wishes to be included in this Bill. I only want to point out this. These twenty-five ladies—or whatever their number is: the Peeresses in their own right—are, I think, the only citizens of this country who are completely ostracised from all political rights. Not only are they not allowed to sit in this House; they are also not allowed to sit or vote in the House of Commons. With respect to the noble Earl, Lord Mansfield, I do not think that the injustice is quite the same in regard to male Peers of Scotland, because they have the right to vote for Members of Parliament—that is, for some of their own number to sit in your 1257 Lordships' House. That does not apply to Peeresses in their own right of any kind. Though their number is very small, the political injustice is there. They are the only people in this country who are deprived of all political rights as voters and citizens.
§ LORD MATHERS
There are several facets to this particular point which has been raised by the noble Earls opposite. I simply want to say that in my experience—and it has been confirmed in conversations I have had about this Bill with many people—I find that the point of view expressed by the two noble Earls is widely shared. I want to make that fact clear. I think it is only fair that the Government should know that there is some concern in the country about this position.
§ LORD CLITHEROE
May I say one word to express my sympathy with the point of view which has been put forward? I should like also to add one other point, which is referred to in the clause which is down in my name on the Marshalled List, and which I should now like to give notice I do not propose to move. I appreciate that it is really out of order. I am bound to say that, when I put down the Amendment, I had a strong suspicion that that was the case, but I have done so in order to draw attention to an anomaly which is just as great as those which have been referred to. This occurs in connection with the case of a Peer of Ireland. An Englishman resident in this country who happens to hold an Irish peerage is debarred from voting in a Parliamentary Election, and is not in a position to vote for a Representative Peer of Ireland because these latter elections have not taken place for more than thirty years and are now obsolete. These Irish Peers are therefore entirely disqualified and in the same position as a lunatic or a criminal. I feel that that is a case which has a very strong claim to be considered, though I appreciate that when a debate is in progress on this Bill that is not the proper time to do it. I ask Her Majesty's Government to take careful note of this point, and. when legislation comes along, to see whether this anomaly can be remedied.
§ 5.49 p.m.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
I am grateful to my noble friends Lord Mans 1258 field and Lord Clitheroe for the course they have taken, which is very helpful in the circumstances. The point raised by the noble Earl, Lord Mansfield, is even more difficult than it at first appears. My information is that there are twenty-four hereditary Peeresses in question. Ten of them hold Baronies by right—these are Baronies that depend on the original Writ of Summons and in mediæval times were held to be descendable to heirs general. In regard to Peeresses by Writ, these are English titles and if there is no son of the holder they go into abeyance. Where there are two daughters, they go into abeyance until the line of one daughter becomes extinct and the other represents, at any rate, a certain portion of the Barony. Then there are seven Peeresses who hold United Kingdom peerages by grant, including the succession. They raise the difficulty that in every one of these cases it was specifically put in the grant that no lady should sit in your Lordships' House. Then there are, I think, seven Peeresses who hold Scottish peerages. In Scotland, we have an entirely different system. If a peerage is descendable to heirs general, the elder girl, as senior heir in the line of the family, takes the peerage and it does not go into abeyance.
I am sure that my noble friend Lord Mansfield, whom I have known during a friendship of forty years, is interested in these points. He will see that there are difficulties that arise in regard to every one of these classes. Baronies by Writ raise the question of abeyance and how we might have to deal with that problem. The second group of United Kingdom grants raises the question of what was intended by the grants. The Scottish peerages are relatively simple because Scottish law on that point is much simpler. These are points that I should like to discuss with my noble friend in case he has any ideas. But the broad difficulty that we are in on this Bill is that the noble Viscount the Leader of the Opposition has indicated that the extension of the hereditary principle would not be acceptable and would raise difficulties.
That is why I have put on record the extent of the problem, because I do not want to commit anyone or make any request to anyone, except the one so constantly made to me, of considering what 1259 I have said. I have set out the problem, which is in a small compass and which might be in an even smaller compass in consideration. I would ask all noble Lords to consider the problem for our future action. My noble friend Lord Mansfield has asked me to promise either future legislation or benevolent neutrality to a Private Member's Bill. I venture to repeat what I have said before and what my noble friend the Leader of the House said in this connection a short time ago. I would ask your Lordships everywhere to consider how the House works with the differences that we propose to make under this Bill and with the suggestions that have been put forward for applying the Swinton proposals. When we have seen that, I think that we shall all be in a better position to consider what the next step may be.
In our first debate, I ventured to suggest that we should approach the problem without preconception. I should like to take up the same position to-day. I hope that my noble friend will appreciate what I am doing. I am making an appeal to all noble Lords to consider the House as it comes out from the proposals in this Bill and the Swinton proposals, remembering, as I ventured to say on another occasion, that the House is an organic and dynamic part of the Constitution. If we look at the matter in that spirit, I believe that we shall be able to make further improvements in the Constitution of the House. If, or when (I hope it will be when), that time comes, then I would ask noble Lords opposite to give them sympathetic attention. The noble Lord, Lord Mathers, with his well-known fairness, underlined that point a moment ago. Let us not commit ourselves to-night, but let us try to consider this problem with others in an attitude free of preconceptions and with a fair consideration of all that this involves. I hope that my noble friend will think that I have gone far enough, though it is not so far as he would like me to go. I recognise the problem and I hope that he will now let it rest on that basis.
The noble and learned Viscount has told us of the difficulties, which I think we all fully appreciate, of extending the hereditary principle, and also the additional constitu- 1260 tional difficulties; but I think that there is a general feeling that the hereditary Peeresses are having, to put it colloquially, "a slightly raw deal." I would ask the noble and learned Viscount whether it is possible for him to use such influence as he is able to bring to bear to see that the hereditary Peeresses are given special consideration for appointment to life peerages where that is possible and desirable.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
I am grateful to my noble friend, Lord Gifford, for raising that point, because I did make it clear the first time that this question was raised that there is nothing to prevent any Prime Minister from recommending Peeresses in their own right for nomination as Life Peers. My noble friend will appreciate that neither I nor my noble friend the Leader of the House can commit my right honourable friend the Prime Minister on any point, but I shall certainly convey what my noble friend has said to my right honourable friend the Prime Minister—and also the view my noble friend has expressed, that these ladies have been put in a position which many of your Lordships consider to be an unfair one.
§ EARL WINTERTON
My noble friend Lord Clitheroe raised a question which does not strictly apply on this Amendment, on the position of Irish peerages, in which I am naturally interested, having been one for thirty-six years. The noble and learned Viscount was not quite correct in what he said. He said that Irish Peers could not vote in Parliamentary elections. They can, if they are Members of another place; and so long as they remain on the register they can continue to vote, even if they cease to be Members of another place. I know this from personal experience, as I ceased to be a Member of another place at the General Election of 1951, and I voted for my successor. The whole position could not be more anomalous, and I hope that when the noble and learned Viscount looks into the other question he will also look into the position of Irish peerages. I cannot see, for the life of me, why the setting right of this anomalous and, as my noble friend Lord Clitheroe said, very unfair position could possibly affect prejudicially, one way or the other, the hereditary principle.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Winterton for reminding me of this point, and I apologise to my noble friend Lord Clitheroe for omitting it. The noble Earl is perfectly right. That is the position: an Irish Peer cannot vote unless he is elected to another place, and then he can. I looked up the position and saw that, curiously enough, under the Representation of the People Act, 1918, a Peeress in her own right can vote. So that obviously this discussion has shown a number of anomalies which are really matters for a Representation of the People Act. I do not think there is any question of hereditary principle arising there. They are anomalies which ought to be looked at, and I shall convey to my right honourable friend the Home Secretary that they require looking at when another opportunity arises.
§ THE EARL OF DUNDEE
If a Peeress in her own right can vote, does it follow that she can offer herself for election?
THE EARL OF MANSFIELD
The noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor has couched his reply with such careful legal ingenuity that I am afraid I must study Hansard carefully to-morrow before I know just what he has said and how much the seeming encouragement is to be relied upon. However, I thank him for his reply. I would say to my noble friend Lord Clitheroe that the position of the Peers of Ireland, although unsatisfactory, is far less unsatisfactory than that off the Peers of Scotland. I, as a member of another place. sat with my noble friends Lord Winterton, Lord Castle Stewart and Lord Fermoy, all of whom were Irish Peers, and all sitting in another place, which no Peer of Scotland can do.
§ Clause 1 agreed to.
§ 6.0 p.m.
§ LORD SILKIN moved, after Clause 1 to insert the following new clause:
§ Holder of hereditary peerage may apply to amend the letters patent of his peerage to a life peerage
§ At any time after the passing of this Act any peer, not being a person on whom a life peerage has been conferred under the provisions of this Act, may, subject to the consent of the next heir or his lawfully appointed 1262 guardian as the case may be, submit an Address to Her Majesty praying that the letters patent relating to his peerage shall be so amended as to confer on such peer a life peerage instead of his existing peerage."
§ The noble Lord said: My Lords, I beg to move the Amendment standing in my name and that of a number of my noble friends. The purpose of this new clause is, I think, quite simple and, I hope, understandable and drawn in fairly respectable terms; but if it is not, I hope the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor will not dismiss it merely on the ground of unsatisfactory drafting. The object of this Amendment is to enable an hereditary Peer to convert his hereditary peerage into a life peerage. I should, however, be less than candid if I left it at that and failed to explain that this Amendment is linked lip with the next one, which then would enable a Life Peer to renounce his peerage at any time. The purpose of the two new clauses combined is to enable an hereditary Peer who regards the hereditary peerage as an encumbrance, not necessarily on himself but on his successors, to renounce the peerage and become an ordinary citizen.
§ LORD SILKIN
No; but I thought I should explain the background of the two Amendments, because without the second the first is not entirely explicable. Your Lordships will appreciate the background of what I am seeking to do. A number of noble Lords have found themselves in the dilemma that, while they themselves have no doubt enjoyed being Members of your Lordships' House, the next of kin, who was in due course bound to suceed to the peerage, regarded membership of your Lordships' House as an encumbrance. We have examples of Members of your Lordships' House who came here most reluctantly and sought every opportunity (which, unfortunately for them, was not available) of renouncing their peerage. It is an anomaly that people should be compulsory Peers of this House.
Those of us who came here as Peers of first instance came here of our own volition and knew what we were doing, and if we were wise we consulted our next of kin or heirs. But in some cases those 1263 heirs were infants and were not in a position to give an effective view; and in other cases the then heir died, and the person who is to-day the heir was never consulted, because he was never in a position to be consulted. So we have in this House a number of Peers who are here not of their own volition, and who would desire, if at all possible, to renounce their peerage. That is the background against which the two Amendments are being moved.
I believe that there is a good deal of sympathy on both sides of the House for the position of those Peers who have been forced to come here against their will and may thereby have sacrificed promising careers in another place. Let us not close our eyes to the fact that the "glittering prizes" that exist in the political field are not so much in this House but in the other place; and if there is a person who feels that he has the ability to distinguish himself in another place it seems to me quite wrong that that opportunity should be taken away from him and that he should be forced against his will to come here.
The Amendment I am now moving strikes me as being justifiable on its merits; that is, that any hereditary Peer should be entitled to convert his hereditary peerage into a life peerage. After all, we are to-day legislating for the appointment of a number of Life Peers, and the Bill says that any person may be appointed a Life Peer, with certain exceptions; and one exception is an hereditary Peer. I can see no justification why it should not be possible to appoint an hereditary Peer as a Life Peer. What I am really seeking to do is to make the provisions of this Bill retrospective, at any rate so far as Peers of first creation are concerned. A number of Peers of first creation, if they had had the opportunity of accepting a life peerage instead of an hereditary peerage, would have done so: and it was only because there was no such opportunity at the time of their creation that they accepted the hereditary peerage. It does not strike me as being an unreasonable thing to suggest that now, if this opportunity is going to be available, it should be made available to those Peers who would have taken a life peerage if they had had the chance.
1264 I have realised that an hereditary Peer should not be able to renounce his peerage without consulting his heir; and the new clause, therefore, provides that the heir or, if appropriate, the guardian of the heir, should give his consent. If he does not give his consent, then the peerage cannot be converted into a life peerage; but if he does, then I submit that the Peer should have the right to make the necessary conversion. I do not wish to argue this by analogy. I know that the position of the heir, even of the more remote heirs, is one which has to be taken into account. Your Lordships will be familiar with the position of an entailed estate. I am by no means an authority on this subject, but I understand that an entail can be barred if the existing tenants and the next of kin agree by deed. They can in that way shut out all the more remote descendants. If that can be done so far as land is concerned, it does not seem to me to be inappropriate that, equally, a title should be barred by agreement between a Peer and his next of kin. For those reasons—and I do not think the matter requires any elaboration because your Lordships are fully familiar with the problem—we on this side thought it right to move the series of new clauses which we hoped would give effect to our desire to enable any Peer who regards his title as an encumbrance to renounce it. I beg to move.
After Clause 1 insert the said new clause.—(Lord Silkin.)
THE EARL OF MANSFIELD
The object of this Amendment may be justified, but the Amendment in its present form is wholly detestable. When a man and his family have had the honour of having a peerage conferred upon them, that peerage does not belong just to the owner of it or to his next of kin: it belongs to all those who are in remainder. The comparison between landed property and an hereditary title is not a proper one at all. It may well be that a next heir would signify his agreement, although he himself was unlikely or unable to have a family, and there might be another heir who did not in the least wish to give up his rights. For that reason, I do not think we could possibly accept this Amendment. I agree, however, that there are cases in which a person succeeding 1265 to an hereditary peerage may not wish to exercise it—I have spoken in your Lordships' House on that point on more than one occasion. I think provision should and could be made that anyone succeeding to a peerage should be able to opt as to whether he would take it up or whether the peerage should, so to speak, go into abeyance during his lifetime, but without prejudice to the right of his heirs to "umpteen" generations. For that reason, I hope that the Government will rot accept this Amendment as it stands, hut that the objects behind it will receive their consideration, having regard to the possibility of future legislation which was not entirely rejected by the noble and learned Viscount a few moments ago.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, has, with commendable and expected frankness, said that the two clauses hang together although, of course, they are severable. Therefore, one must consider the whole picture which is raised by the two clauses. The first is the clause permitting convertibility, and the second is the provision allowing the person who has a life peerage—which, of course, he may get through convertibility—to resign that peerage and sit in the House of Commons.
I wish to deal first with the points that are raised by the first Amendment, and I hope to answer some of those which the noble Lord, Lord Silkin, has suggested. There is a difficulty, which gathered from some guarded words of his he had seen, and I should like to draw his attention to it a little more fully. I am not plating it forward—I am sure the noble Lord knows me well enough to appreciate that—merely as a matter of avoiding arguing the Amendment on the merits. I shall do my best to do that, but he will see the difficulty is that the first new clause says:Any Peer"—I omit the following words—may … submit an Address to Her Majesty praying that the letters patent … shall be so amended as to confer … a life peerage …That, of course, has the defect. which I am sure the noble Lord has seen, that it does not confer upon Her Majesty power either to accept a surrender of an hereditary peerage or to amend an existing peerage by altering the limitations and 1266 cutting out the remaindermen. That is the real point. The power would have to be conferred; and were the power to be conferred (because, of course, in a constitutional monarchy, the Sovereign acts on advice), I think it would have to be enacted on what principles the Sovereign would act, or else to suggest a machinery by which it could be carried through. I hope that noble Lords opposite will not misunderstand me. I am not raising this as a technical difficulty to the Amendment. I am raising it as a point which would require much further consideration and application of minds before the clause could be made right.
The other point is the point which I think my noble friend Lord Mansfield had in mind, with regard to the heir. The noble Lord, Lord Silkin, again has faced up to this point and has legitimately, if he will allow me to say so, taken the analogy from land. Nothing could be more legitimate, because your Lordships' House, in the Buckhurst Peerage case, said they would not recognise the remainder in that case because it did not follow any recognised system of the devolution of land. So I give that to the noble Lord—he has raised a perfectly fair analogy. But I do not think it applies to the case of a peerage, because myself, in considering this matter, thought of two cases where the peerages concerned happened to be old and historic peerages (I will not mention names, because I do not wish to embarrass anyone by doing so) where the situation happened to be that there was an elderly heir intervening between the holder and the next heir of line. That is one position where one can see that it would not be very satisfactory if one had the holder of a peerage and the next heir, who in all probability would not succeed, combining to bar the person who would succeed. Of course, you would also have the position, which would be, I think, a real practical difficulty, where you had an infant child and his guardian was the father who actually himself wanted to get rid of the peerage.
I raise these points because I think they are real points. But, of course, I promised the noble Lord that I would not deal with the Amendment merely on the difficulties that arise. Assume all my difficulties now could be swept out of the way, one then comes to meet the 1267 question of principle. This is the suggestion of noble Lords opposite for the reform of your Lordships' House; in other words, that an individual right should be given to hereditary Peers to get rid of their hereditary peerages. I think that the only possible effect of that would be a derogatory effect on the position of hereditary peerages.
One is in this difficulty—believe me, I am not complaining of this at all; I appreciate the point of view of noble Lords opposite if I do not agree with it. They have said, "We will not consider any reform of your Lordships' House which extends the privileges of hereditary peerages; nor will we consider any reform of your Lordships' House which improves the persuasive position or prestige of hereditary peerages". I think I am quoting almost word for word what the noble Viscount has said, and I think I am giving quite fairly all points of view. Surely it follows from that that you cannot exclude any extension of privileges or exclude the right of the hereditary section of your Lordships' House to reorganise itself or reduce its numbers, which may improve its prestige, and at the same time suggest a method which would eat away, bit by bit, the hereditary element in the House. It does not seem to me to be logical.
When one comes to the other point—and I must consider them together because they are linked together—one is in this difficulty: that the object of the Bill is to increase the number of people available for service in your Lordships' House, by those who feel they cannot take hereditary peerages—men and women who would take life peerages. It is illogical, in the same Bill—and this would be the effect of the Amendment of noble Lords opposite—when you are looking for fresh members (that is, Life Peers and women) at the same time to allow a draining off of your Lordships' House, because the objective and the result of the two Amendments taken together is to allow people to withdraw from your Lordships' House and serve in the House of Commons.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
I think if the noble Earl accepts the pre- 1268 mise that we do want more people, then there is no need to make room for them the gap already exists.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
If the noble and learned Viscount the Lord Chancellor accepts the premise that we want more people, why does he appoint the Swinton Committee to allow hundreds to withdraw?
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
We want more people who will do the daily work of the House. That has always been our point of view, and I do not think anyone can say I have ever said anything else. I was going to say on the second Amendment that the point of view that I have always taken is that the provision in subsection (2) of Amendment 10 is a matter for the House of Commons and, by the comity of the two Houses, should be introduced there. I think it is the general practice that provisions which affect one House are introduced in that House; that is why this Bill was introduced in your Lordships' House. I have always said that those provisions which affect the membership of the House of Commons ought to be dealt with there.
I have not been able to understand—and again I am not making a debating point—why the opportunity has not been taken to introduce a Bill under the Ten Minute Rule of the House of Commons in order that we might have the guidance of the House of Commons on this point. It is a very simple matter; it only means drafting a Bill and occupying a certain amount of time—I think there are twelve such Bills on the Order Paper of the House of Commons to-day. It would be an easy matter to get the view of the House of Commons on this point. I think it is a salutary principle that legislation which primarily affects one House should be introduced in that House. For all those reasons I am sorry that I cannot accept the Amendment of the noble Lord and I must ask your Lordships to reject it.
§ 6.26 p.m.
§ LORD WILMOT OF SELMESTON
I am sure we are all indebted to the noble and learned Viscount for that useful and enlightening explanation, but the fact remains that the prime purpose of these new clauses is to make it possible for a person who finds himself here and does not wish to remain, to go. That seems to me very desirable. That a person 1269 should be compelled to remain a member of a Legislature in which he does not wish to serve seems to me a very bad thing. I myself, speaking entirely for myself, would welcome the solution which the noble Earl, Lord Mansfield, suggested; that would meet my point entirely. Surely in the creation of Life Peers there ought to be some provision for their resignation, if circumstances arise which make it impossible or undesirable for them later on to continue their membership.
The primary purpose of this Amendment is to see to it that in making this new class of legislator we do not continue a curious anomaly which means that, once appointed, they can never resign. The same is true in some senses of Members of the House of Commons, but by a device which has been worked for a very long time, of applying for an office of profit under the Crown, they are able to disqualify themselves from membership; they are unable to resign. But Members of this House are unable to so disqualify themselves. The other forms of disqualification would be unpalatable; so they remain here because there are no acceptable means by which they can disqualify themselves. It seems to me a foolish thing, in considering the creation of Life Peers. to have the same position, that they cannot in any circumstances resign.
Also there is the question of heirs to a peerage who are Members of the House of Commons and do not wish to leave it. I should have thought that the recent cases and discussion on this matter have shown how desirable it is to enable a person who wishes to remain a Member of the other House or become a Member of the other House to rid himself, at any rate for his lifetime, of what he regards as an encumbrance. I sincerely hope, in regard to the first point I have made, that in this Bill the Government will consider some mechanism of resignation, and in the wider consideration of the future of this House the point made by the noble Earl, Lord Mansfield, will be borne in mind.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
May I just deal with the point the noble Lord, Lord Wilmot of Selmeston, has raised, on the question of resignation? As he realises, in the form in which the second Amendment is drawn at the moment, it applies not only to the Life Peers made 1270 under the Bill but also to those who, under the first Amendment, resign an hereditary peerage. But assuming for a moment that it was moved in a different form; that subsection (2) w as dropped, because that is a matter for the House of Commons—that is, assuming that the Amendment was entirely limited to the question of resignation—I still think that there is no need for the power of resignation.
I say that for two reasons. First, there is, of course, no limit on the number of Life Peers, and therefore it is not necessary that one Life Peer should resign in order to make an opening for another. The second reason is that we hope that, under the Swinton proposals, the Life Peer will, like any other Peer, be able to apply for leave of absence if he finds that his health gives way, or anything of that kind. But what is quite wrong is the further suggestion that a Life Peer should be able to chop and change and resign his life peerage and go to the House of Commons. That. I think, is derogatory to the whole conception of life peerages. If a man accepts a life peerage on the basis that he is prepared to come here and help with the work of the House, for him then to resign and go to the House of Commons would be derogatory to your Lordships' House and to the conception of life peerages. Therefore, I could not accept it.
§ VISCOUNT ASTOR
If, during the war, there had been a reunion of all the male relatives of the Duke of Marlborough at Blenheim Palace, and that Palace had been hit by a bomb and everybody had been killed, the then Prime Minister might conceivably have become the Duke of Marlborough and might have had to be forcibly transferred to your Lordships' House. And in the interests of the nation as a whole that would have been a catastrophe. It would be nothing to do with the House of Lords or with the House of Commons but would concern the nation as a whole, because under our present system it is essential that the Prime Minister should be a Member of the House of Commons, and by our present arrangements this country—I am sorry if I am interrupting the conversation—
THE EARL OF HOME
I was only suggesting that, Sir Winston Churchill being 1271 such a special person, he would probably have required a special Act.
§ VISCOUNT ASTOR
The noble Earl the Leader of the House has given the case away. We are depriving ourselves as a country as a whole of having, if necessary, the best available men for the most important jobs. That is the fundamental fact, and I think the Lord Chancellor's argument that we should leave that to the House of Commons is an extremely bad one. It is a matter that concerns the nation as a whole, and one as much for us as for the House of Commons. It is in the interests of the nation as a whole that the best men should be available for any job. Therefore, while no doubt this Amendment will probably not be divided upon, I hope that this discussion will be heard in another place and that, if the point is not taken up, we may on the Report stage have occasion to consider the matter again.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
What the Lord Chancellor has not told us is what he thinks about the merits of the case. He has made this point more than once, that this is a matter which should be raised in the House of Commons. I do not know why he says that, because it is a matter that touches the personal position of Members, or prospective Members, of this House. He says that it should be raised in the House of Commons. But he must know that the rules (I think they are called the "Selborne Rules," concerning the practice of the House, and followed Lord Selborne's attempt to remain in the House) can be altered only by legislation. Why does he say that this legislation must originate in the House of Commons, seeing that it touches both Houses? And why does he object to its originating in this House? Further, will be say what is his own view, or the Government's view, supposing all the constitutional proprieties were observed, about the forcible transfer of Members of the House of Commons to this House on the death of their parent?
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
With regard to the last question, it is certainly the Government's view that the comity which must exist between the two Houses demands that a matter which affects and alters the recruitment of the House 1272 of Commons should be initiated in the House of Commons. That is sufficient ground, in the Government's view, for inviting the House to reject the Amendment, although I have given other reasons for rejecting the rest of it. That is the Government's view. The noble Viscount has asked me for my view.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
Well, I asked for the Government's view, but the Lord Chancellor is very important.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
That is the reason why the Government suggest that that part of the Amendment should be rejected. I have given the reasons why the Government ask for the other parts to be rejected. I thought that the noble Viscount was going to ask me for my own view.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
My own view—and this does not bind the Government at all; the noble Viscount asked me for my own view, and he will get it—is that if someone has had the good fortune to be born in the position that carries a seat in your Lordships' House, he ought to be very content with the means of serving his country which your Lordships' House gives. That is my personal view.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
May I just add this? If I use the word "evasive", I hope I shall not be considered disorderly in this House, but a particular case has been tried at every angle. It was tried before the Personal Bills Committee, and the judges said, "This is a matter for a general Bill". It was tried in this House, and the Lord Chancellor said, "This is a matter for a general Bill and not a particular Bill." Now, when the Government brings forward a Bill and an Amendment is put forward, as is normal, the Government then say that the Amendment must be moved somewhere else. If the word "evasive" were used, I hope the Lord Chancellor would not consider it entirely inappropriate.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
The noble Viscount is entitled to use any adjective of that nature that he likes. He knows that I am not merely being pleasant to him; he knows perfectly well 1273 that I should never take offence at any adjective he uses.
I do want to say, however, that I can-riot understand why, if there is so much certainty as to the feeling, a Bill under the Ten-Minute Rule has not been introduced which would enable this House to know what is the feeling in the House of Commons. He may think that evasive, and he is entitled to his point of view. But I think it is right that, where a matter affects the House of Commons, and when for hundreds of years the House of Commons has taken the view that it does against the admission of Members of your Lordships' House—and, after all, it is a rule of the House of Commons and the common law of Parliament—that House should express its view before your Lordships' House purports to legislate with regard to the constitution of the other House. I am sorry if the noble Viscount regards that as evasive; I think that it is right and good manners.
THE EARL OF HOME
On a matter of information, may I know whether the Committee are discussing both Amendments together?
§ 6 40 p.m.
VISCOUNT ALEXANDER OF HILLS-BOROUGH
As I understood it, the arrangement made with Her Majesty's Government, through the usual channels, was that two days should be taken to put through this measure, so that we should not be overpressed on one day; so perhaps it would be convenient if the Committee do not sit late tonight. Perhaps, therefore, it would be convenient if we were to divide on the first Amendment very soon, and then, if it is agreeable to the Committee, postpone further discussion until to-morrow. In the meantime, may I say that I am greatly obliged to the noble and learned Viscount for the effort that he has made to explain the position to us, but I have much sympathy with the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, who has taken a great interest in this matter, when he points to the continuing duality as to whether this House or the other Chamber is responsible for a certain piece of legislation.
1274 On the Second Reading of the Bill I myself argued that if there was any question of an alteration to the Constitution of the House of Lords, that was a matter so important that it ought not to be introduced here but in another place. That was my view then, and it remains my view but if Her Majesty's Government choose to bring a Bill of this importance into this Chamber and we then put down Amendments which are within the Title of the Bill, it seems to me that they ought to be taken quite seriously. On that basis, having regard to procedure, if this is a Bill which is to become a General Act of Parliament and to alter the Constitution of the House of Lords, and is initiated here by Her Majesty's Government, we ought to be able to move whatever Amendments we feel should be brought to the notice of another place in later stages of the passage of the Bill.
I am much obliged to the noble Viscount, Lord Astor, for his intervention just now. So far as I can remember, I have never discussed with him his personal position in this regard, but I should imagine that he is a notable example of one who follows the desires of his noble father, who was an intimate friend of mine and who never desired to come to this House but rather to stay in another place. Though he had to come here, believe that he would have been far happier if he could have been left in another place. I believe the "Bellringer of the House" was very angry at the bell of the law being rung over his head, compelling him to come from the other place to this House; and there are other cases which could be added to the list. I certainly have tremendous sympathy with these Peers.
We have therefore put down this Amendment in totally good faith. Her Majesty's Government have said, through both the noble Earl the Leader of the House and the noble and learned Viscount on the Woolsack, that they did not want to have this, that or the other in the Bill because they wanted to be able to accomplish by the Bill something which would lead to the least amount of disagreement. In view of the difficulty that we have had in the past over trying to arrange a fair deal for the sons of hereditary Peers in another place who did not want to come here, I suggest that we could pass something of this kind with the least 1275 possible disagreement; and as a first step towards that end I hope that we shall get the support of quite a number of Peers from all Parties in the House for the first Amendment, and that we can come to the more detailed discussion of the second Amendment to-morrow.
§ LORD SILKIN
My Lords, before we proceed finally to deal with this Amendment, I should like to explain to the noble and learned Viscount that we found ourselves in this difficulty: the Bill was so tightly drawn as to make it almost impossible to put down an Amendment in the terms we should have liked. We therefore had to exercise our ingenuity, and we have done so and just managed to get within the terms of order. I imagine that the noble and learned Viscount went through all the Amendments with a very fine toothcomb and tried to eliminate all that he could as being out of order. These Amendments are in order. I plead guilty to the fact that they are not technically perfect, and that no doubt they could be improved upon by way of machinery and in working; and I should have hoped that we could have the help of the noble and learned Viscount and others in making this Amendment right, had they desired to accept the principle.
I want to say one word more on the principle. I am not worried about technicalities, for I am sure that they could be put in order. Two noble Lords have spoken from the other side, both accepting the idea that there is a real problem to which this House ought to apply its mind. It is no good evading the problem and saying that people ought to feel privileged to come here, when they have never been consulted. Of course, those who come here first come of their own volition; but those who succeed have not always been consulted, and their position may change. I fully agree with the noble Viscount, Lord Astor, that people should have the right to determine their own lives and to make such contribution to public affairs as they think is best; and the country requires that we should get the best people directed to the most useful spheres. It seems to me a complete waste to have hereditary legislators who are acting in an unwilling capacity.
The noble and learned Viscount did not really direct his mind to that point 1276 at all. The argument he gave was that it was illogical, on the one hand, to be taking powers to create new Life Peers and, on the other hand, to drain off a number of Peers. But the Peers we are draining off are those who do not want to be here in any case. Even if this Amendment were accepted in principle, I do not imagine that many would wish to bar their heredity. Their numbers would be limited. We have taken a much bigger step in draining off Peers by providing for leave of absence, and it is possible for large numbers of Peers not to put their foot into this place. We shall be legitimising the position in future by giving Peers actual leave of absence and thereby draining off membership of this House to a far greater extent than could possibly arise out of this Amendment.
The trouble is not that we are going to be too few in numbers. This is a House of over 800 Peers, and the problem is not that we are likely to lose so many Peers that we shall be unable to function. The real problem is that we have not got the requisite number of working Peers. The idea of a life peerage is to provide for Peers who are prepared to come here and devote themselves to the work of this House, and we do not require a very large number. Therefore, if that is the case against this Amendment—the illogical draining off of Peers on one hand and, on the other hand, creating them—I must confess that that argument is not up to the usual standard of the noble and learned Viscount, because he is usually very convincing. Therefore I feel that nothing is being done about this real dilemma, which everybody accepts is a dilemma. We are just leaving it alone. I feel we should divide the House on the principle of this Amendment.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
I do not want to continue the debate with the noble Lord for too long. I want only to make clear that what we are doing now, as I understand the noble Viscount, is dividing on the first Amendment.
§ THE LORD CHANCELLOR
And leaving it open to noble Lords to say something more on the second. So this Division is on the principle of whether holders of hereditary peerages ought to have the right of petitioning to have them changed into life peerages.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
I see a certain difficulty about the House separating these two Amendments. The noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, suggested that we should divide on this one, without reference to the other, and discuss the other Amendment to-morrow. But, in fact, as has been made clear, they are part of the same plan. There was a two-stage plan: the hereditary Peer becomes a Life Peer, and under the second Amendment he is able to renounce his right to receive a Writ of Summons and then can go back to the House of Commons. If we accept the first Amendment and do not accept the second all that will happen to this unhappy man is that he will have a life sentence in this House, because he will cease to be an hereditary Peer and will become a Life Peer.
§ VISCOUNT STANSGATE
The noble Marquess has overlooked one point: the possibility that an hereditary Peer can become a Life Peer and liberate his son from forcible attendance here.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
That could be so. But the man himself—it was part of the noble Lord's argument—who does not want to stay in this House but has a great love for the other place, or thinks he has a greater career there, will not be benefited by the first Amendment at all; and I should have thought that the Committee, in considering the first Amendment, must take into account the second stage of the plan. If noble Lords are not in favour of the second stage of the plan, they ought not to vote for the first stage of the plan. If they are, then, of course, they can do whatever they feel inclined. That is my personal view.
§ LORD SILKIN
Surely it is open to noble Lords to take the view that the Amendment which is now the subject of discussion is worth supporting on its own
§ merits, regardless of the second. Surely it should be possible for a noble Lord to convert his peerage into a life peerage.
§ THE MARQUESS OF SALISBURY
But the noble Viscount was accusing us—or, rather, the Lord Chancellor—of being evasive. I think this is being evasive. It is riot what the noble Lord wants at all. He says they can be treated separately; but they cannot, from the point of view of the noble Viscount, Lord Stansgate, and, I think, of most of the other noble Members of the Front Bench opposite.
§ EARL ATTLEE
There is a point which I think the noble Marquess has not quite grasped: there are two sides. You consider first of all the position of someone who is already in this House, and you consider the person who is bound to come here in due course. It is true that, taking only the first Amendment, you really deal only with the heir, because he may escape being forced to come here. You do not deal with the man who is here and wants to get out. Nevertheless, you have accomplished something, and the issues are strictly severable.
The first Amendment refers to the heir. The noble Earl has spoken of the heir who is bound to come. He is not bound to come—he may die. Consider my own case. I am a second son. My elder brother succeeded, and died in the war. I was not consulted; he was. There are many more ramifications than these wordings suggest. If this Amendment is passed, someone who is never consulted at all might find himself denied rights which might otherwise be his.
§ On Question, Whether the said Amendment shall be agreed to?
§ Their Lordships divided: Contents, 25; Not-Contents, 75.1279
|Attlee, E.||Burden, L. [Teller.]||Noel-Buxton, L.|
|Lucan, E, [Teller.]||Darwen, L.||Pakenham, L.|
|Faringdon, L.||Shepherd, L.|
|Addison, V.||Greenhill, L.||Silkin, L.|
|Alexander of Hillsborough, V.||Kershaw, L.||Strabolgi, L.|
|Astor, V.||Lawson, L.||Strang, L.|
|Stansgate, V.||Mathers, L.||Williams, L.|
|Stonehaven, V.||Milner of Leeds, L.||Wilmot of Selmeston, L.|
|Moyne, L.||Wise, L.|
|Kilmuir, V. (L. Chancellor.)||Bridgeman, V.||Gifford, L.|
|Colville of Culross, V.||Gisborough, L.|
|Hailsham, V. (L. President.)||Crookshank, V.||Glyn, L.|
|FitzAlan of Derwent, V.||Gorell, L.|
|Buccleuch and Queensberry, D.||Gage, V.||Gridley, L.|
|Wellington, D.||Hyndley, V.||Hastings, L.|
|Long, V.||Hatherton, L.|
|Lansdowne, M.||Margesson, V.||Jessel, L.|
|Salisbury, M.||Mersey, V.||Kinnaird, L.|
|Samuel, V.||Lloyd, L.|
|Albemarle, E.||McCorquodale of Newton, L.|
|Breadalbane and Holland, E.||Ashbourne, L.||Mancroft, L.|
|Cranbrook, E.||Ashton of Hyde, L.||Merrivale, L.|
|Dundee, E.||Barnby, L.||Mills, L.|
|Fortescue, E. [Teller.]||Broughshane, L.||Milne, L.|
|Gosford, E.||Chesham, L.||Newall, L.|
|Home, E.||Clitheroe, L.||Rathcavan, L.|
|Howe, E.||Colwyn, L.||Rea, L.|
|Lonsdale, E.||Conesford, L.||St. Oswald, L.|
|Mansfield, E.||Cottesloe, L.||Saltoun, L.|
|Morley, E.||Craigmyle, L.||Sandford, L.|
|Onslow, E. [Teller.]||Denham, L.||Somers, L.|
|St. Aldwyn, E.||Digby, L.||Strathclyde, L.|
|Selkirk, E.||Dovercourt, L.||Stratheden and Campbell, L.|
|Swinton, E.||Ebbisham, L.||Teviot, L.|
|Waldegrave, E.||Ellenborough, L.||Teynham, L.|
|Erskine, L.||Wolverton, L.|
§ Resolved in the negative, and Amendment disagreed to according
§ House resumed.
THE EARL OF HOME
My Lords, I think it will probably be for the general convenience if we now adjourn our debate on the Committee stage of the Life Peerages Bill.