HL Deb 08 December 1960 vol 227 cc246-64

5.40 p.m.

Order of the Day for the Second Reading read.


My Lords, my task is to move that this Bill be now read the second time. Its purpose is to attempt to reduce to a greater order the obscure and somewhat rigid rules governing those most useful of Parliamentarians, the Parliamentary Secretaries, and to give greater flexibility to their deployment among Departments. The Bill also authorises—and I shall have to discuss this in decreasing order of importance—the payment of salary not exceeding £2,500 per annum to a Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Science, and an increase in salary (I shall not embarrass my noble friend by referring to it at great length) from £2,200 per annum to £3,000 per annum for the Chief Whip in the House of Lord's, the Captain of the Gentlemenat-Arms.

My Lords, I have referred to the position as regards Parliamentary Secretaries us both obscure and rigid. It has grown up, like Topsy, bit by bit. What has happened has been that gradually particular Departments, for no particular reason except the historical, have managed to attract to themselves, one, two or even three Parliamentary Secretaries or other junior Ministers, whereas other Departments have not done so. The effect has become such as to constitute an inconvenience to Parliament, since one naturally wants to deploy Under-Secretaries well as between the two Houses, taking into account in each case, very largely, the question of whether the senior Minister is in the House of Commons or in the House of Lords—something which is largely impossible at present.

I should perhaps explain that for the purposes of this Bill I use the expression "Parliamentary Secretaries" to include all those who hold the offices listed in Part II of the Second Schedule to the House of Commons Disqualification Act, 1957, with the exception of the Law Officers, the Officers of the Royal Household, the Treasury Ministers, and the Junior Lords of the Treasury. I am quite prepared to give a full list of these distinguished offices, but perhaps the House will not require me to do so. The legal position with regard to the actual power to appoint Parliamentary Secretaries is, I am advised, obscure, but it is certainly governed by two sets of clear restrictions. These are the restriction on the numbers of Parliamentary Secretaries to whom salaries may be paid out of monies provided by Parliament, and the restriction on the numbers of those who are entitled to sit and vote in the House of Commons at any one time.

My Lords, as regards salaries there is statutory authority to pay salaries only to specified numbers of Parliamentary Secretaries in particular Departments. Thus, Section 2 (2) of the Ministers of the Crown Act, 1937, as amended by the Act of 1951, limits the numbers of Parliamentary Secretaries to whom salaries may be paid by specifying the numbers for each Department to which the Acts refer. For other Departments, a limit is imposed by separate Acts. For example, the Ministry of Fuel and Power Act, 1945, provides only for the payment of a salary to one Parliamentary Secretary and to the Minister of Power. The Ministry of Defence has only one Parliamentary Secretary and the Minister himself.

The effect of this legislation is to allow salaries to be paid to a total of 32 Parliamentary Secretaries—which, with the addition of the one to be provided, if the House agrees, for the Minister for Science, makes 33 allowed for in the present Bill—but only in respect of offices limited to the specified numbers in the particular Departments. Again I should be prepared to give details, if pressed, but I doubt whether the House will be sufficiently interested to demand that I do so.

Section 2 (1) of the House of Commons Disqualification Act, 1957, limits the numbers of Ministers who are entitled to sit and vote in the House of Commons at any one time. Part I of the Second Schedule to that Act contains a list of senior Ministers, and Part II contains a list of junior Ministers. Section 2 enables 70 Ministers in all, and 27 senior Ministers, to sit and vote at any one time in the House of Commons.

To come to the particular provisions of the present Bill, Clause 1 removes all the individual departmental limits on the numbers of Parliamentary Secretaries to whom salaries may be paid, and replaces them by a single aggregate limit of 33. That is the existing maximum permissible total of 32, plus one which I have mentioned. It will thus enable the Government to appoint more Parliamentary Secretaries in one Department by reducing the numbers appointed to other Departments, or by making use of unfilled vacancies within the authorised complement of 33 salaried posts. That, of course, will be a matter of convenience to both Houses and perhaps, in a sense, particularly to your Lordships' House, since it will enable those who speak for particular Departments in each House of Parliament to be closely concerned with the affairs of the Ministry in question more often than has hitherto been the case.

Those of your Lordships who have had experience, particularly in your Lordships' House, of having to reply on behalf of a Department with which one is not directly concerned departmentally realise the difficulty, indeed the exacting nature, of the task which is imposed upon one, especially where the matter has not previously been very much within one's own cognizance and is a matter of detail, and sometimes a matter of controversy, to which experts in either House legitimately demand a reasoned and sensible reply. I think I have explained that aspect sufficiently.

I come now to the second clause, which adds my own office to the list of those to whom a Parliamentary Secretary can be given. I make no apology for this provision. Without it, I should be, I believe, the only Minister who could not by Statute have one of the 32 Parliamentary secretaries, and I think this would be inconvenient at the present time; at any rate, it certainly would not be permanently convenient to exclude a senior Minister from the provisions of this Bill.

When my appointment was announced about fifteen months ago, the first thing which was criticised in the other place —and in my belief fairly criticised—was this: that questions about the Medical Research Council and radio-biological hazards had to be answered, by the Minister of Health; questions relating to the Agricultural Research Council and the Nature Conservancy in England and Wales by the Minister of Agriculture; questions relating to the Atomic Energy Authority, to the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, and general scientific matters by the Minister of Education. Questions relating to space research had to be answered by the Minister of Aviation; and questions on atomic energy development, relating to matters for which the particular Minister was responsible, by that Minister. In addition, of course, the Secretary of State for Scotland answered a certain number of questions relating, I think, to the Nature Conservancy when it particularly affected their estates in Scotland.

This was not a popular state of affairs in another place; nor, I must add, was it convenient to me, because I should think that one of the main advantages in appointing a Minister for Science is to produce what is now referred to, in the popular jargon, as an "image" of scientific policy as a consistent whole. My various honourable and right honourable friends who have acted for me in the last fifteen months have done so with commendable devotion and extraordinary skill; but, of course, they could not answer supplementaries in the same way as somebody in the Office who knows the mind of the Minister can hope to do. There is a good deal of background information which, in the main, cannot be conveyed in the ordinary brief. Moreover, their attention to subjects corning within their control is incidental and disparate from their own departmental work. The effect of six or seven voices answering for the Department in one of the two Houses of Parliament. instead of one voice, is to prevent, I think, the building up of the coherent body of doctrine which we desire to build up about this Department and its work, and to prevent its succeeding in appearing as a coherent whole.

I know that it was suggested in another place that the Minister for Science should always be in the House of Commons. I know that your Lordships will forgive me for saying that I cannot for the life of me see why. Your Lordships' House has the duty of being one of the two Houses of Parliament. And I should have thought that if there is any Office which ought not to excite the envy of a Commoner, it is the Office held by the Minister for Science. I can see why there was considerable discussion about the appointment of a Foreign Secretary in your Lordships' House. He has to deal with great issues of foreign policy and with the day-to-day position, and special provision had to be made. But if there is a Minister of Education in your Lordships' House, as I happened to be, or a First Lord of the Admiralty, as both my noble friend and I have been; if one can hold the Secretaryship of State for Commonwealth Relations, as did my noble friend Lord Home for years without any kind of controversy; then should have thought that the portfolio of an Office which is so much detached from what I might call the hurly-burly of politics as that of the Minister for Science, is ideally held in this place.

I would also add, as I think I said to your Lordships when the matter of the Foreign Secretaryship was discussed some months ago, that I do not think that a rigid pattern or doctrine should be established, except in relation to a relatively small number of places, as to which House should house particular portfolios. On the contrary, so long as we are a bi-cameral Government, I think that in the main something is to be gained by the establishment of a pattern which is not absolutely uniform in respect of every Department and which allows the suitability of possible incumbents and the particular needs of each case to be examined.

As regards my own ministerial experience, I would say without doubt that all the Departments which I have served have to some extent gained by my not being tied to the Division Lobby to the same extent that a Commons Minister inevitably is, and when the Departments were taken over by a Commons Minister, as was done in both cases, they have gained by having a change and by the Minister being able to answer for himself in another place. A Lords Minister is able to travel a good deal More than a Commons Minister and able to detach himself largely from Party association, if he wants to do so. Therefore, I do not think that there is any reason to lay down any doctrine about this matter. I feel that, just as your Lordships' House will be served well if in some Departments it is found convenient to deploy an Under-Secretary here (otherwise questions would probably have to be answered by a Lord-in-Waiting or by the Minister in another place) so another place would gain if, when there are senior Ministries held in your Lordships' House, the corresponding Under-Secretaries are deployed in another place.

I do not think that I need say much more about the Bill. Subsections (2) and (3) of Clause 2 are technical, and I do not think I need explain them. The limit of 70 Ministers imposed by the earlier Act, to which I have referred, is not affected by the Bill, and no question arises of any total increase in the Government's power of patronage in the Commons. In practice, the addition of one Minister in the list without a corresponding increase in the limit of 70 is not likely to cause any embarrassment to the Government, as the number of Ministers actually appointed and sitting in the Commons often—I think always—falls short of the limit.

Clause 3 increases by £800 a year the salary of the Captain of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms. This salary was increased to £2,200 from the previous £1,200 under the Ministerial Salaries Act, 1957. The reason for this increase is to place him higher than the Captain of the Queen's Bodyguard, the Yeomen of the Guard, who is Assistant Government Chief Whip and, like him, a member of the Queen's Household. From being £300 less than that of a Parliamentary Secretary, his salary becomes £500 more. I hope that your Lordships will feel that I have done my duty to the House in moving the Second Reading of this Bill, which I now have the honour to do.

Moved, That die Bill be now read 2a.—(Viscount Hailsham.)

5.58 p.m.


My Lords, I am sure that we are all grateful to the noble Viscount for the care with which he has explained the details of the Bill. He has faithfully followed the basic explanation which some of us have read in the Report of the debate in another place. There is only one controversial section of that debate, which was gently expressed in another place, that the noble Viscount has really not attempted to answer—that is, the various queries about what exactly the Minister for Science does. In the debate in another place, a case was built up to show that the varied nature of the different technologies and the great range of science covered by the Minister were so great that the vast interest among Members of another place required the Minister to be there, to be under question. Perhaps there is something to be said for that view. I am fairly confident that if the noble Viscount had been a Member of another place, as he so greatly desired to remain at the time of his succession, this would have been the kind of criticism he would have made against a proposal of this kind coming from a Labour Government.

The case which the noble Viscount has put for the Minister for Science being in your Lordships' House is a good one, and I do not think that we can quarrel with it. The Ministerial posts held by Members of your Lordships' House have varied a great deal. We have had Foreign Secretaries even before the present beloved occupant of that office, we have had Secretaries of State for other important Departments and we have had the Minister of Defence. It seems to me that you must always allow to a Prime Minister a certain latitude in regard to the way he operates the spread between the two Chambers of the Ministerial appointments. Therefore I agree largely with what the noble Viscount said on that particular point.

But the other, lesser, point of numbers and salary arose from a case put by a Member of the other place: that if the Minister for Science had been a Member of the other place and not of your Lordships' House, then it might well have been that you would not have required the appointment of a Parliamentary Secretary, as such. I think that in some ways that can be justified. The office of Lord President of the Council is sometimes held in this House, which, as a rule, has meetings on fewer occasions in the week than in the other place. The Lord President of the Council, if acting in the other place as Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons, meeting five days a week and for long hours, certainly would not have much opportunity to apply himself effectively as Minister for Science also. It occurred to me that there was something to be said, in desiring to be economical in not overspending on Ministerial appointments—for the point that if the Minister for Science had been in another place you could probably have done without a separate Parliamentary Secretary, because Ministers like the Lord President of the Council or some other Minister here would have answered for his colleague in the Commons.

That, again, does not interfere with what should be the right of the choice of the Prime Minister as to how he achieves the number of Parliamentary Secretaryships; and I did not fail to take note that in the explanations given on behalf of the Treasury in another Place they were careful to point out that the total aggregate of 70 Ministers, senior and junior, is not only not exceeded, but that there are certain Departments which now have vacancies for Ministerial appointments. The real effect of this Bill, as it seems to me, is that it will give latitude to the head of the Government to vary an appointment of a successor of a previous junior Minister from the exact Department where he was before, and he will have freedom, within the aggregate total, to use up present vacancies by not refilling them in the Department at present concerned but transferring the new appointment to some other Department where some new duty occurs. I think that is reasonable, and I am sure my colleagues on this side of the House would agree with it. While I was anxious to put the point that I had deduced from the debate in another place, I do not think I have any ground for raising opposition of any sort to the appointments.

I can say, quite briefly, on the other matter of the increase of salary of the noble Earl, whom we all like so much in this House and who has such a long title that one never wants to keep on repeating it—he is just plain Chief Whip of the Government Party of this House—that we think the increase in the salary is just. It is necessary from the point of view of what I call the proper professional standing in relation to other appointments of Her Majesty's Household; it keeps the balance right, and it is, I think, personally deserved. That being so, we wish him joy of it, and hope he will not spend it all before Christmas but will at least keep something for a rainy day next year.

6.4 p.m.


My Lords, I suppose -there is no better way for a Back Bencher to commit Parliamentary suicide than to criticise a Bill which raises the salary of his own Chief Whip. I still think there is much else to be said in favour of this Bill, and to support the Second Reading. But I want to deal as briefly as I can with what I think is a new point, a rather specialised point, and one which directly concerns the composition of your Lordships' House. I want to ask the Government at the appropriate time to introduce a Bill to increase the number of Parliamentary Secretaries from 33 to 36, and to supplant the three political Lords in Waiting by three new Parliamentary Secretaries. This would not raise the total number of Ministers in the Government, but would merely raise the total number of Parliamentary Secretaries at the expense of -the three Parliamentary Lords in Waiting.

I thought at first that I should make this request on the Committee stage of the Bill, but I decided against that, for three reasons. First of all, as I say, it directly affects the constitution of your Lordships' House; and that, I feel, is a matter which should be dealt with on Second Reading. Secondly, as those Lords in Waiting are also members of the Royal Household, I thought that the matter was not one which ought to be dealt with in Committee. Thirdly, this matter, of necessity, involves finance, which is always a delicate subject in your Lordships' House. It will mean substituting for the three salaries of £2,000 a year which Lords in Waiting have previously enjoyed (I think that is the word) salaries of £2,500 a year for the Parliamentary Secretaries. That will cost us, therefore, £1,500 a year more. In any case, I do not regard either of those two figures as the proper rate for the job. They are not salaries, but honoraria; they are gratuities; they arepourboires—and pour very smallboiresat that! These I would regard as Second Reading points. And I think the change I have suggested should, come more appropriately from Her Majesty's Government, to whom I am about to commend it, than from a Back Bencher.

If your Lordships consult the current edition ofVacher's Parliamentary Companionyou will see that on the pages devoted to the Royal Household, under "Lords in Waiting" there are listed Lord Nugent, the Earl of Eldon, the Earl of Westmorland, Earl Bathurst and Lord St. Oswald. We know that two of those noble Lords are political appointments—they are, indeed, both in the House at this moment: they are members of the Government. All five of them, however, perform the normal Household duties as members of Her Majesty's Household. I may say at once that I intend nothing in any way disrespectful to those duties in the suggestion that I am now making; it is a great honour to be asked to carry them out. They are such functions as meeting Ambassadors on behalf of the Sovereign on their return from a period of duty, or representing the Crown at the funeral of some important person. This fact is known inside your Lordships' House, but it is little known outside.

These members of the Government (there are actually only two political Lords in Waiting at the moment, but there is a vacancy on the establishment) are paid as full-time members of the Government, and have to give up their civilian jobs in ordinary life—and probably their pensions as well—for all the normal disadvantages and, admittedly, advantages, which a Minister enjoys. They represent several Departments at the same time. For nearly six years, if I may quote my personal experience, I had the honour of representing the Board of Trade, the Home Office, the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation and the Ministry of Housing and Local Government all at the same time. If that surprises your Lordships, I can only say that it does not surprise you as much as it did the Board of Trade, the Home Office, the Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation and the Ministry of Housing and Local Government.

Those Lords in Waiting speak at the Despatch Box on behalf of the Govern- ment and make Party political speeches here in your Lordships' House; they make speeches in the country at the week-end; they make speeches at the hustings; at social and trade functions they represent the Government, and, indeed, they represent the Government on numerous occasions abroad. That leads to great confusion and difficulty, and the change I want to make is primarily for that reason. There are many other noble Lords in this House who have had the honour to hold the office of Lord in Waiting, and there will be a few of them who have not had the experience I had on numerous occasions, of great embarrassment not only to oneself but because one felt that one's position was causing the Household embarrassment.

Let me give your Lordships, if I may, one example. When I was representing the Board of Trade, I was sent to Sweden on behalf of the President to open on behalf of Her Majesty's Government the British Pavilion in the St. Erik's Fair. I was warned in advance that there was likely to be criticism from Swedish businessmen about a certain line concerning tariffs which the Board of Trade were taking. I was armed with the answer to that criticism, should it arise. It arose at a trade banquet, and I replied to it on behalf of the Government as best I could. The next morning I was heavily assailed for having, as Lord in Waiting, a member of Her Majesty's Household, and Court official, become embroiled in Party politics. Our commercial attaché had the busiest day of his life in trying to put that matter right in Swedish circles.

I can well remember the noble Lord, Lord Holden. much liked on all sides of the House, making a rousing political speech one Saturday afternoon on behalf of the Labour Party, and being soundly trounced in his local paper for having again embroiled himself in Party politics as a member of the Household. He was so upset that he offered the noble Viscount, the late Lord Addison, his resignation. which Lord Addison would not take. It is to get this matter put right that I am raising it before your Lordships at this moment. It so happened that the noble Viscount had great sympathy for the line I am now advancing. But he was not able to find sufficient Parliamentary time. Indeed, he reported back to us quite frankly that he did not think his political colleagues in the Labour Party in another place would stand for it. Considering what the political Labour Party have to stand for from their own colleagues at the moment, I feel that this argument will no longer carry weight. We now have the opportunity of putting this matter right. This is the first occasion I can remember when a Bill has been before your Lordships in which this matter can be put right. I ought perhaps to add that, if the other place is concerned, as it must be, the same problem does not arise there, although it appears that it might.

There they have the Comptroller of the Household, the Vice-Chamberlain of the Household and the Treasurer of the Household. All those are political members of the Household, with these two essential differences: that they have after their names inVacherthe initials "M.P.", so that all know they are politicians, whereas the five Lords in Waiting are indistinguishable—they carry no distinctive mark. Furthermore, those three Members in another place are all Whips and, by convention, are mute, and do not make political speeches in another place. The third reason is that, by convention, they largely confine their political work in the country to their own constituencies, the position there being well known. So the position in another place is nothing like so difficult as it is here.

The second reason why I want to make this change—the change I am now recommending to your Lordships—is this. The burden of work that falls upon the Lords in Waiting is, in my view, unjustly heavy. They are always "on parade"; they are always answering questions of a controversial and difficult nature for Departments constantly involved in day-to-day politics. As both my noble friend Lord Hailsham and the noble Viscount, Lord Alexander of Hillsborough, have pointed out, it is a flexible situation, where the weight of effort may change not only with the burden of work falling on a particular Ministry, but with the positioning of the senior Ministers in one of the two Houses. Your Lordships only have to look at the index ofHansardto see that there are three Departments which are not represented on the Front Bench but which are always under a heavy burden of work. They are, of course, the Board of Trade, the Home Office and the Ministry of Housing and Local Government. We now have on the Front Bench a representative both of agriculture and of transport.

At the time of the debate on the Queen's speech, I made a plea that if the other place were to complain as often as it did that it did not get time to sit back and take a broad view of the nation's worries because the Members were too much overburdened with day-to-day political administration, then the solution was to give more political work of worth to your Lordships' House. I am happy to see that we have no cause for complaint with a Bill with nearly 200 Amendments before us at this very moment. But if we are to carry out that work as we wish to do it, we must give the members of the Government who are to answer for the Government from that Front Bench a chance to carry it out in the best way they can, and in the way we would wish. A Lord in Waiting cannot possibly do it. He has no administrative staff behind him, no secretarial staff and no civil servant to brief him and keep him continually in the picture. Therefore, I think the solution would be to allow those three positions of Lord in Waiting to go now to Members of your Lordships' House who are not closely identified with any Party politics, or any politics at all.

My Lords, I again wish to make it clear that I am not suggesting that this work is not of the utmost dignity and importance. I think it should be divorced entirely from the Front Bench, from the Despatch Box, and from the hustings in the country. The three noble Lords who have hitherto done this work should now be elevated to the dignity of a Parliamentary Secretary, allowing sufficient fluidity for their jobs to be changed from time to time. I fear that the present position is unfair to the noble Lords who carry it out. It is embarrassing' to them, and it is unfair to the Household that there should be this confusion which has frequently to be explained to uninitiated audiences, to foreigners and to newspapermen: the fact that there is no link between the Parties and the Lord in Waiting and his Royal office. It is unfair to the noble Lords, it is unfair to the House, and it is unfair to the Royal Household.

I do not ask my noble friend the Leader of the House to give an answer to this point this afternoon, but I shall ask him to be good enough, if he considers that there is merit of any sort in my suggestion, to see whether the necessary arrangements cannot be made on the Committee stage to correct what I believe is a serious and unfortunate mischance in the constitution of our House. I commend the point both to the Government and to your Lordships' House.


My Lords, an interesting point has been raised by the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, which I think everybody will carefully consider, but I believe he will agree that if we took the political work away from the Lords in Waiting, so that the Royal Family should not be identified in rather ignorant minds with political activities, we should also have to consider the positions of the Chief Whip and the Deputy Chief Whip in this House. Both these noble Lords occupy a position in the Household purely, as I understand it, in order that they shall receive a salary, so that they can perform the duties of Whips. Therefore, if the Government are going to give this matter consideration, it cannot just be limited to the question of Lords in Waiting, but must also include the senior posts of the Chief Whip and the Deputy Chief Whip.


My Lords, there is much merit in what the noble Lord says. I deliberately did not wish to confuse the issue by raising that point, particularly in view of the fact that of late the Chief Whip and the Deputy Chief Whip—it is embarrassing to mention them in both their presences have tended less and less to make political speeches as more and more work has fallen on the Lords in Waiting and the other Parliamentary Secretaries who have of late enhanced the Front Bench in this House.

6.18 p.m.


My Lords, as another member of the trade union of late Lords in Waiting, may I say that at first glance I agree heartily with what my noble friend Lord Mancroft has said. I, too, have been put in positions of great embarrassment by this rather incongruous title of Lord in Waiting. For instance, when Her Majesty's Government ran out of Foreign Office Ministers, all five being engaged elsewhere, I was once despatched in charge of a British delegation to some enormous and not very useful Conference at Geneva. I found it very difficult to explain to Russians, Belgians and the like exactly what a Lord in Waiting was. Again, constantly being introduced at political meetings as Lord in Waiting to the Queen is really most embarrassing, and my first words always had to be in explanation that I was not quite what I was said to be.

I feel that to turn them into some form of Parliamentary Secretary would he of enormous value to the Lords in Waiting themselves, in that it would give them a status, because it would give them a definite home and a desk where they could sit and where they could receive some clerical assistance. I was fortunate for a good long time in serving a Minister who had himself been a Lord in Waiting, and he was careful to see that I was provided with some sort of kennel where assistance could be provided, and he shared the bones around. But it is perfectly possible to serve with a Minister perhaps more centralised in type and be never called to any conference and never receive any bones at all. Therefore I am heartily in favour of giving the Lords in Waiting a status and some definite work to do, because I feel that those very overworked Ministers in another place in many cases could well do with a further assistant for opening functions and for being their eyes and ears. Just as the Archdeacon is the eyes of the Bishop and there are generally about three of them to each Bishop, I do not see why in some cases Ministers should not have a couple of Parliamentary Secretaries.


My Lords, as a further member of the trade union, I would say no more than that I heartily agree with what the noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, and the noble Lord, Lord Hawke, have said. There is no doubt that Ministries did their best to help one out as a Lord in Waiting, but somehow one never quite had the status or entrée to the meetings that Parliamentary Secretaries have, and one could not, with ease, give the sort of service one would like to do in busy times. I certainly commend the suggestion.

6.22 p.m.


My Lords, I should like first of all to thank the noble Viscount who leads the opposition for his, I must say, generous and friendly remarks. He tended, I think, to suggest that this might have been an occasion to tell the House what the Minister for Science did. The last time I did so, which was about two weeks ago, I had an urgent complaint from members of my own Party that Ministers at the Box were taking too long, and three names were mentioned: one was the Lord Chancellor, I was another, and I will not tell your Lordships who the third was. I was deterred by this rather terrifying experience and I omitted to give a long description of my duties to-day. I also feared that I might have been out of order. But as I am constantly with your Lordships, your Lordships can either ask me this question, or debate it, on any occasion you like.

I do not agree with the point made by the noble Viscount that if the role were reversed and the Minister for Science were in another place the Consolidated Fund would necessarily be richer by £2,500. I think not. Of course it would rest then with the Leader of the House and the Chief Whip to negotiate with their colleagues in the Commons as to which Under-Secretaryships under this Bill, if it is passed, would pass to this House. But if they are as jealous of the honour of the House as I think my noble friend is likely to be, they would not be likely to let it all go too easily, and whether it would be the Under-Secretaryship of the Home Office or of the Ministry for Science or of the Commonwealth Relations Office or of the Foreign Office would depend on the circumstances at the time. I am quite sure the Chief Whip would be negotiating to have for this House as many in point of number as if the Minister for Science were in the House of Lords and his Parliamentary Secretary in the House of Commons. The point was quite a fair one to take, but I doubt very much whether it is correct. Nor do I think Parliament should really proceed upon the financial basis in this particular case. What matters for a Government is to be able to serve Parliament, to which it is responsible, and I am perfectly sure Parliament in both its Houses would wish to provide for the Government the means of doing so in the manner most suited to the interest and dignity of public life.

The noble Lord, Lord Mancroft, in his very well-expressed, discreet and powerfully argued speech, raised a point of which he gave me notice, and, with his permission, as I do not think I can give him much legislative comfort, I would say a word or two to-day about the point he raised. I am not at all sure that the point he raised is within the ambit of this Bill; I doubt how far it is within the Long Title or the scope of the Bill. But if we were going to legislate about Lords in Waiting I think we should inevitably have to deal with all the Household appointments and not just two in the House of Lords. I do no: think it would be sensible to take these two by a side wind. It has occurred, or I have no doubt it will occur, to the noble Lord's highly versatile and original mind that at any rate some part of what he asked for in his speech could be granted, if this Bill were passed, administratively, if the Government were disposed to do something of that kind. Some part of what he and his noble friends said was really an echo of something I said in the opening speech, that it was in many ways more convenient from the point of view of a junior Minister that he should have a Ministry, and thereby a. private room to work in and a home to which he could go. In that respect it may prove in practice that the working of this Bill will actually achieve some part of what my noble friend said.

I think it is possible both to exaggerate and also to forget the extent to which many of our curious arrangements are anomalous and baffling to other people. When I went to America I found it very difficult to explain to my friends there exactly what a Lord Privy Seal was. They did not seem to know this elementary fact about our Constitution. And, indeed, your Lordships would be surprised how many people in this country asked me if there really were such a thing as a Privy Seal to be Lord of. Of course there is, and it is a very beautiful article. The Lord President of the Council is a funny kind of name; so is Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and so is Paymaster-General, which seems at first sight to be an office of an almost unexampled opulence. Indeed, I am told it was bought and sold for large sums in the eighteenth century, when it did have some valuable functions attached to it.

All these things are part of the strange Constitution under which we live: and—if I may just say something quite seriously —if this country can understand and accept the idea of putting the most controversial political manifesto every year into the lips of the Sovereign herself, as we do every time Parliament is opened, I think it can stomach a couple of Lords in Waiting getting embarrassed at a ward meeting of a local Conservative Party. There is a great deal in what my noble friend said, but I hope, with that explanation and comfort, the House will be prepared to give a Second Reading to the Bill.

On Question, Bill read 2a, and committed to a Committee of the Whole House.

House adjourned at twenty-eight minutes past six o'clock.