HL Deb 15 June 1999 vol 602 cc134-67

3.6 p.m.

Report received.

Lord Kingsland moved Amendment No. 1: Before Clause 1, insert the following new clause—


(" . The purpose of this Act is to create a more legitimate and more democratic House of Lords which will increase the independence of Parliament and enhance its ability to scrutinise legislation and hold the executive to account.")

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in order to draw the attention of noble and noble and learned Lords on the Government Bench opposite to the irresistibility of Amendment No. 1, I should like to remind noble and noble and learned Lords of some of the statements they have made about its component parts.

The first is a statement made by the right honourable gentleman the Prime Minister about democracy. He said: Surely the democratic monstrosity is not the House of Commons deciding that one variant of the PR system is the best but the Conservative Party using its permanent in-built majority of Conservative hereditary Peers, elected by no one and accountable to no one, to overturn the democratic majority in the House. That is how the vast majority of people will see it".—[Official Report, Commons, 18/11/98; col. 935.]

Then, in the Labour Party's election manifesto we find on page 33 the statement: This will be the first stage in a process of reform to make the House of Lords more democratic and representative". Still on the word "democratic" in the amendment, I should like to draw the attention of the Committee to two statements made by the noble Baroness the Leader of the House. On 14th October, 1998, at col. 922, the noble Baroness said: Legislating to stop hereditary Peers being Members of Parliament removes a profoundly undemocratic element". She went on to say at col. 923: I should emphasise that the removal of the hereditaries will, at the most recent count, still leave a Conservative majority over Labour of 22. Nonetheless, any change which produces a fairer balance—as our proposals will—must make this House more democratic".

I hope noble Lords on the Government Benches will agree with me that, on the basis of those statements, the Bill before your Lordships' House, in the Government's view, will produce a more democratic legislative Chamber.

I address now the second component of my amendment which concerns legitimacy and turn my attention to the Government's White Paper entitled Reforming the House of Lords, where we find on page three: The present House of Lords suffers from a lack of legitimacy because of its anachronistic and unrepresentative composition". Then on page 6 we find: But the House of Lords and the work it carries out suffer from its lack of legitimacy, because the presence of a hereditary peers creates a permanent, inbuilt majority for a single party. For its functions to be properly performed, the House of Lords needs a degree of legitimacy which it does not now enjoy". Finally, on page 7 of the White Paper we find a reference to: the fundamental problems of the House—the deficiencies in its legitimacy arising from its method of selection".

I hope noble Lords on the Government Benches will again agree with me that, by their own definition, the changes proposed in the Bill will make your Lordships' House more legitimate. Then I turn to the other part of the amendment which will, increase the independence of Parliament and enhance its ability to scrutinise legislation and hold the executive to account".

On 22nd February 1999 at col. 847 of the Motion to take note in the debate on the House of Lords reform, we find the noble Baroness the Leader of the House saying: I can say to the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, that, overall, the Government accept the broad sentiments of his amendment"— the amendment tabled by the Opposition and not voted against by the Government— Indeed, as the noble Lord, Lord Lamont, pointed out. the first page of the White Paper emphasises that Parliament is the central element of Britain's democracy, and that for Parliament to carry out its purpose it must act with authority and integrity. That principle is the basis for our proposals for reform of this Chamber; to improve the effectiveness and balance of the House so that it can play a full and proper role in Parliament, a role which necessarily includes a significant scrutiny of legislation and of the executive".

I finally turn—your Lordships will be relieved to hear—to the statement by the noble Lord, Lord Carter, made the following day on 23rd February 1999 at col. 1086, where he said, The Government entirely share the view that it is essential that Parliament should be properly equipped to scrutinise legislation and to hold the executive to account. That is precisely why we wish to reform the composition of this House. In our view its present composition means that it lacks the legitimacy to do [that job] properly". In the same speech, in col. 1087, the noble Lord, Lord Carter, continues, My noble friend the Leader of the House has made clear that the Government agree with the first part of it"— that is, of the Opposition's amendment which concerned itself with scrutiny and control of the executive. He went on: Who can be against an increase in the independence of Parliament and an enhancement of its ability to scrutinise legislation and hold the executive to account".

There we have it. If your Lordships read Amendment No. 1 again, and the words, a "more democratic House of Lords"; "a more legitimate" House of Lords; and a, House of Lords which will increase the independence of Parliament and enhance its ability to scrutinise legislation and hold the executive to account", your Lordships will see that on the Government's own terms, in the Government's own words, every ingredient of that amendment is accepted by them. I beg to move.

3.15 p.m.

The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Jay of Paddington)

My Lords, we debated a virtually identical proposition from the official Opposition in Committee and we seem today to be quoting previous remarks. But I hope your Lordships will agree that those previous remarks on an amendment almost precisely the same as the one tabled today may be of greater relevance to the decisions as to whether or not to accept this amendment than the more broad discussion points raised by the noble Lord, Lord Kingsland.

When we debated the almost identical proposition to this one, the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Drumadoon, described the amendments as probing amendments designed to give the Government an opportunity to explain where they stood on the issues raised by the amendments. My noble friend Lord Williams of Mostyn explained the answer to that in some detail. Those amendments, which were debated at Committee stage, served the purpose of airing the subjects for debate. I am therefore somewhat surprised to see them reappear, especially as they are virtually identical, despite the suggestion by the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, that if the Opposition returned to these questions at all, they would be seeking a different form of words which answered some of the criticisms made in the debate. As I understood it—I re-read the Committee stage proceedings on this matter this morning—it was not their view that they wished to reopen, as the noble Lord, Lord Kingsland, has just done, a very general debate on some of the subjects which, as he has rightly drawn out, we debated over a long period on the long-term reform of this House and the impact that that might have both politically and legally.

The noble Lord drew on evidence given to the Royal Commission in developing his own theme. I say again—your Lordships must tire of hearing this—that that evidence was the Labour Party's evidence and not the Government's evidence. It sets out the principles the party believes the Royal Commission should address.

Lord Kingsland

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Baroness for giving way. In fact, I did not quote from that evidence. I quoted from the White Paper, not from the evidence to the Royal Commission itself.

Baroness Jay of Paddington

My Lords, I apologise. I misunderstood the noble Lord. I thought he mentioned the evidence to the Royal Commission. However, he was reopening some of the general points about the longer-term issues that we have discussed at length. As he rightly says, we accept the broad principles, but do not feel that they are immediately relevant to the proceedings on this Bill.

In our previous debates on the subject of a purpose clause—the point behind these amendments—we had the authoritative view of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale (I am glad to see him in his place) who explained why purpose clauses should not be entertained in respect of Bills of the simplicity and clarity of the one we are discussing today. As he quite rightly said, they are unnecessary. I could perhaps also draw on the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Renton, who is not in his place this afternoon, who chaired the previous committee on the preparation of legislation and recommended that purpose clauses should be used only when they are the most convenient method of clarifying the scope and effect of the legislation.

I suggest also that the present purpose clause is describing purposes to this Bill which are simply wrong. They may describe the political effect of the Bill, but they do not describe its purpose which is a much more narrowly defined issue. The purpose of the Bill, in law, is to remove the automatic right to be a Member of this House by virtue of a hereditary peerage. In this country it is not practice—I argue this point with some trepidation with the noble Lord—to add extraneous provisions to Bills just to make those types of political points. There is no ambiguity in this Bill that such a purpose clause might help the courts in interpreting. There is no external obligation to which it gives effect which it would be worth specifically linking to the Bill. I do have the courage to assert, as a non-lawyer, that otiose law is bad law in all instances.

That is why we continue to think that the Bill should not contain a purpose clause. Perhaps I may say to the noble Lord who moved the amendment that it is emphatically not because we are embarrassed by any of the sentiments expressed in the amendment, or indeed embarrassed to have our general remarks recalled. We agree, of course, with those remarks and we agree with some of the sentiments which are expressed in the amendment. We are delighted that the Official Opposition are prepared to assert in amendments that those are worthwhile aims. They are indeed. They will indeed be the political effect of the Bill but they are not its purpose.

I also remind your Lordships that simply to say something is the case does not make it so. We all have before us the example of the 1911 Act to make us understand that. I remind your Lordships that the preamble to the 1911 Act famously promised that it was the first step on the way to a more democratic popular Chamber. The fact that after 88 years nothing has been done about that until now indicates just how pointless that kind of declaratory purpose may be.

What I have said about Amendment No. 1 applies also to Amendment No. 3, which is labelled the "Purpose of Act (No. 2)", and that is also in the name of the Official Opposition. I concede that in that second version they have done rather more redrafting of the propositions than they did both in the first amendment and those that we debated at Committee stage. However, I must tell your Lordships that they have not made enough changes to overcome our conviction that putting such a clause in the Bill is unnecessary and undesirable. Again, I would say to them that this is not because we regard the aims of the amendments as being anything other than consistent with the long-term policy objectives that we have put on the record. I merely repeat that we are not embarrassed by either version. We stand by either version as a long-tern objective. But we feel that the amendment is inaccurate in not describing the limited purpose of this Bill and is superfluous in asserting its political effects.

The Government have the proper respect for the law and for the purpose of law. I urge the noble Lord to withdraw the amendment. If he does not wish to do that, I would urge the House to reject it.

Lord Kingsland

My Lords, the noble Baroness the Leader of the House says that this Bill does not, unlike the Parliament Act 1911, contain a preamble. That is perfectly true. But this Bill goes much further than the Parliament Act 1911. Therefore, in our judgment, for reasons even more powerful, it should have either a preamble or a purpose clause. But the noble Baroness will not accept that.

Unless the noble Baroness's reasons for introducing this Bill to your Lordships' House were wholly arbitrary, then the Bill must have a purpose. That purpose has been made very clear to your Lordships' House on several occasions during the many debates we have had on it; it is that the removal of hereditary Peers, in the Government's view, and the reduction in the Conservative majority, in the Government's view, will produce a more democratic and legitimate House.

I happen not to agree with that, because I do not understand the distinction between a nominated Peer and the son of a nominated Peer. It seems to me that they are both equally legitimate or equally illegitimate, both equally democratic or equally undemocratic. I do not see the distinction.

The Government's belief is that there is a distinction. The Government are clearly on record as saying that the reason for this Bill is that they want the House to be more democratic and more legitimate. It must follow that, once this Bill is operational, the House will be more democratic and more legitimate. Why are they so frightened of saying that in the Bill if they have said that about the Bill in every single speech they have made?

Baroness Jay of Paddington

My Lords, I shall make only one point. I do not wish to weary your Lordships with the familiar repetition that this is the first stage of a process of reform. The purposes of this Bill are very clear, and are set out in Clause 1. I do not think there is any argument about that.

Lord Elton

My Lords, at the risk of interfering in an almost private exchange, perhaps I may—

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath

My Lords, it may be helpful to remind the House that we are at Report stage and that, on a government Bill, only the mover of an amendment should speak after the Minister.

Lord Kingsland

My Lords, in those circumstances, and despite the Opposition's strong feelings about this point, I beg leave to withdraw this amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Campbell of Alloway moved Amendment No. 2: Before Clause 1, insert the following new clause—


(" .—(1) This Act shall not come into force until the people of the United Kingdom have approved its coming into force in a referendum.

(2) The question to be put on such referendum shall be— Do you wish to retain the House of Lords as constituted with the Hereditary Peerage until enactment of a Bill to establish a successor House [YES/NO].")

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving this amendment, I shall speak also to Amendment No. 63, which is consequential. These are not probing amendments to find out where the Government stand. I think we all know where the Government stand in the measure of their opposition to these amendments. These are Back-Bench, Cross-Bench amendments. They are not politically motivated. A free vote has been conceded on our Back Benches and I understand today that my own Front Bench will neither oppose nor support these amendments.

These amendments are concerned with the exercise of the powers of governance. As such, they enter inevitably the domain of party political contention. The question is, having regard to the apparent state of public opinion, whether, on these matters substantially affecting the constitution, there would be a deprivation of entitlement of the people if referenda were not to be held in the due exercise of the powers of governance. The questions arising on these amendments are not the same as those arising on the transitional House.

In deference to the decision of your Lordships' House on the transitional House amendment, it is not to be called in question. Your Lordships are nonetheless invited to consider whether Clause 2 should not be qualified by these referendum amendments. The arguments in support of these amendments and the transitional House amendments are distinct, free-standing and not mutually inconsistent. Such is the authoritative advice.

The Government, in breach of their own manifesto commitment, by introducing their own wrecking amendment as Clause 2 have shot their own manifesto fox. Only the broadest assent of the people can now salvage this wreck of a Bill. Let it be said, to deflect the scatterchaff of misinformation and confusion, first, that these referendum amendments do not wreck the transitional House amendment but could afford legitimacy without appreciable delay if such is the wish of the people. Having supported the transitional House amendment, which was not amended in Committee and may not be amended thereafter, your Lordships may well now conclude that this Bill as amended is not acceptable to your Lordships unless it is also acceptable to the people. Your Lordships may well prefer that this situation should be resolved by the people at the behest of your Lordships' House and not by your Lordships' House as a self-interested party. Even noble Lords who are minded to reject the Bill on Third Reading—and I see some of them present in the Chamber—might, if I may respectfully suggest, prefer to allow the people to decide whether or not this legislation should come into force. For are we not all but the servants of the people?

A "yes" vote on the question to be put would inhibit the Act from coming into force. No doubt that is why it is opposed by the Government. A "no" vote would enable the Act to come into force at once under Amendment No. 63, with the broad assent of the people. The dust-ridden area of the Amendment No. 31, upon which 230 noble Lords—that is, over one third of those attending—abstained, including the noble Lord, Lord Barnett, and the noble Lord, Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank, needs not to be revisited in this debate, and thank heavens for that!

However, the people should know that the noble Lord, Lord Callaghan, and many other noble Lords have recognised that no firm assurance can be given as to whether, when and in what form a successor Chamber may be established. As yet, the people are aware—they have not been consulted on it—of the setting up of a transitional House with 92 hereditary Peers to sit for life, until an Act of Parliament provides to the contrary, as a process of self-selection on a provisional 13th draft of standing orders not yet approved by the House.

What is the current apparent state of public opinion? To begin with, two-thirds favour retention of your Lordships' House as constituted, with the hereditary Peers, until full details of reform are known. Over half—that is, 58 per cent—reject retention of the hereditary entitlement in any successor Chamber. On the assumption that a transitional House were to be set up, two-thirds considered that it was about right, not too many and not too few, in answer to questions put. But no question was put as to whether a transitional House should be set up nor any question such as is proposed in the amendment; and no such question has been put since the two-thirds favoured retention of your Lordships' House as constituted, until the details of reform were known. Therefore, it is idle to suggest, as has been suggested, that there is some general public support for keeping hereditary Peers in a transitional House until reform has been fully worked out. Such is not the case.

Having regard to that state of public opinion, is it acceptable to your Lordships that this Bill, as amended, should be imposed without regard to the wishes of the people? At least those who wrote to me since the Committee stage, some of whom voted Labour, should know that their representations for a referendum have been brought to your Lordships' attention and that the Government, according to their stated intention, are not minded to accept their representations on this amendment or, indeed, any other amendment.

Although on the referendum debate on 12th May it was accepted that referendums have now become part of our political process, the view of many noble Lords, which I share, is that, in general, referendums are not to be favoured. But where provisions substantially affecting the constitution on which the people are divided against the Government are concerned, where a simple, readily intelligible question can be put, such as was not the case on Maastricht, where the referendum is conducted under fair and proper ground rules, which will soon become generic, and where a threshold—a fence—to he jumped has been erected, then, as in this case, your Lordships may think that a referendum is not only right, proper and reasonable but part of the political process within the power of governance.

As my noble friend Lord Strathclyde said in Committee, why are the Government in such a flap unless they are nervous about the proposition? It cannot be beyond the wit of government or Parliament to pass a short referendum Bill, or to attach such a measure to this Bill. Almost exactly two years ago we passed a referendum Bill in less than two months. In Committee, my noble friend Lord Cranborne said that if this amendment were to be accepted on the first day of Committee, it would make it more difficult to amend the Bill in other ways and that, after the Committee stage, this "admirable proposal", as he then called it, would be set in context.

The rectitude of such advice and, indeed, the advice given by the noble Baroness the Leader of the House that I should take a rain check and return, was much appreciated and is acknowledged with gratitude. Taking account of the constructive criticism, these amendments have been redrafted to strip them down to matters of essential principle. First, the referendum will not be delayed until after the report of the Royal Commission. Secondly, provisions as to the conduct of the referendum have been omitted; and, thirdly, a simple question, all but incapable of misunderstanding, to be put on the referendum is proposed.

We are told by the noble and learned Lord the Lord Chancellor, who I no longer see in his place—

Noble Lords


Lord Campbell of Alloway

In any event, I had better say what I was going to say. We are told by the noble and learned Lord that we, the life Peers, represent the country. Well, such is the very purpose of this amendment. It is not readily understood why in your Lordships' House, as constituted, the hereditary Peers do not also represent the country. The rectitude of the principle asserted by these amendments was acknowledged by the Government in the White Paper to which reference was made at Committee stage, and to which no doubt other noble Lords may wish to refer in this debate.

If this admirable proposal for a referendum were now to commend itself to your Lordships in principle—and that is how it is put before your Lordships—in context with the Bill as now amended, it would avoid pre-empting the Royal Commission's process of public consultation which your Lordships all know about. It would qualify the Bill as amended in breach of the manifesto to enable legitimacy to be conferred upon it and it would afford a requisite measure of protection, of safeguards removed by this Bill on which the people rely, as was put so eloquently by my noble friend Lord Ferrers, who I see is in his place.

As the nation would appear to be substantially divided against the Government, your Lordships may well conclude that verification of the wishes of the people on this matter of constitutional importance in the due exercise of the powers of governance is not only appropriate but wholly requisite. Was it of the essence of the deal that the guardianship function of your Lordships' House should he overridden? Who can tell? Who knows? I beg to move.

Lord Elton

My Lords, I was too late to ask the simple question I intended to ask of the Government on the previous amendment because I had mistaken what proved to be the winding-up speech of the noble Baroness as a mere intervention to ask information from my noble friend on the Front Bench. I do not want to be caught in that way again. Therefore I now ask a question relating to this amendment which is concerned with the state of public opinion. I hope that whoever delivers the reply on behalf of the Government will be able to tell us what is being done to draw the attention of the public to the public hearings of the Royal Commission on the future of this House which, as I understand it, have been conducted in something approaching privacy in some of our provincial capitals.

The other point I want to address to my noble friend is the following. While I follow his argument I am concerned again by his drafting because the question he asks is: Do you wish to retain the House of Lords as constituted until enactment of a Bill to establish a successor House? As I understand it, this is a Bill to enact a successor House. I cannot see how you can describe it otherwise. It is not the last Bill or the last successor House, bur it is a successor House. It seems therefore that the referendum—if it is conducted in the terms here drafted—would not succeed in elucidating anything. However, I await with great interest the reply to my question about the Royal Commission.

3.45 p.m.

Lord Simon of Glaisdale

My Lords, it is with great diffidence that I find myself in disagreement with the noble Lords whose names are to this amendment. Obviously there is much to be said on the place of a referendum within a democratic society. That was why in the previous Parliament the government of the time were urged repeatedly to set up a Royal Commission which could consider a whole number of interrelated points which have now emerged without the benefit of that mature consideration; namely, referendum, second Chamber, method of voting and a whole number of others. That was not done.

If, as I believe, a society is democratic in so far as the mass of the people can influence the decisions which will affect themselves, in those circumstances it is obviously desirable that there are certain matters that should be directly addressed to the people at large. As I ventured to suggest on an earlier occasion, that is by no means the only method of democracy; nor is representative government. Probably the most effective is to vouchsafe to the individual who is affected by a decision the decision itself. That is why we now all embrace the market economy where every penny put down on a counter is a vote for one or other candidate for the favour of the customer. That not only means that he can choose what goods please him most, but by thereby doing he influences the whole shape and development of the economy. It was to the great credit of the Conservative governments who preceded the present one that they seized on that truth and vindicated it. I believe that it is now accepted almost universally in this country and indeed abroad.

But obviously there are certain questions that cannot be addressed to the individual himself. Someone else may be affected and that is the reason why we have a representative democracy, a parliamentary democracy. However, in the case of a referendum certain not only wide questions but also specific ones can be submitted. We have heard a great deal in the deliberations on this Bill about manifesto commitments which all too often slip into the old phrase of "manifesto mandate". Of course there is no such thing. It is quite unreal to pretend that voting for a party is a vote for everything in a manifesto. On the contrary my experience was—such as it was—that in general there was a vote against a party on very general grounds rather than a vote for a party, and particularly not a vote for the individual items in a manifesto.

However, it would be perfectly possible to put those questions. The state of California has referenda which go into such detail. Indeed, as your Lordships will remember from a debate in the previous Parliament, so does Switzerland. Therefore there is much to be said for a referendum although it still has to be decided whether it should be pre-legislative or post-legislative.

In my respectful submission, there are two overriding reasons why this amendment should not be accepted and I very much hope that the noble Lord will not press it to a Division. First, there is Clause 2, the Weatherill amendment, which was overwhelmingly approved by your Lordships. Although there has been perhaps a moment of fractiousness about whether the Government would stand by their amendment—quite unreal fractiousness, in fact—the noble Baroness and my noble and learned friend are standing loyally by the agreement. I believe that in those circumstances their position must be sustained.

My noble friend Lord Marsh pointed out in an earlier debate the difficulties that might arise in the other place. It would be quite deplorable for us to do anything to increase those difficulties or to make the position of the noble Baroness and my noble and learned friend more difficult. That is the first reason.

The second reason is that the proposed question virtually invites a repetition of the highly undesirable contention before 1914 of "the Peers against the people". That is how it would be represented. However, we have got away from that by means of Clause 2 in which the Government have conceded—at any rate, in the interim—the value of a chosen section of your Lordships remaining Members of this House. I refer to the hereditary element. Although these words were not used then, perhaps I may describe those noble Lords as the crème de la crème. I would be very surprised if those 90 Members are not only considerably superior to anything that can be proffered through the life peerage system to top up the Government's numbers, but also considerably superior to any similar body in any legislative system in the world.

Moreover, as a result of the retention of that element, the Royal Commission will be enabled to see whether some element of the hereditary peerage should be carried forward into its recommendations with regard to the ultimate composition of your Lordships' House. It may well do so. If it does not, that will probably be because the Government have so categorically declined to consider any further hereditary element that the Royal Commission may consider—I hope not, but it may well do so—that it would be useless to recommend the continuance even of the crème de la crème of the hereditary element.

As we have now got away from "the Peers against the people" and as the Government have now conceded the value of the hereditary element, if only in the interim House—that point should not be dismissed—it seems foolish to invite a recrudescence of a campaign of "the Peers against the people".

Viscount Trenchard

My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend Lord Campbell of Alloway for introducing the amendment. I see no reason why reform of your Lordships' House, alone among the major constitutional changes introduced or proposed by the Government, should not be put to the people in a referendum, particularly as the Bill conflicts in two major respects with the commitment contained in the Labour Party's manifesto.

Those two respects are, first, that the Bill does not make your Lordships' House more democratic or more representative and, secondly, that the Bill as amended provides for the continued involvement in the affairs of your Lordships' House of 92 hereditary Peers.

The Bill fundamentally alters the composition of your Lordships' House and, in so doing, affects its ability to discharge its functions. Inevitably, the Bill alters the relationship of this House with another place. Therefore, it is a measure the effect of which is comparable in importance with the measures under which the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly and the Greater London Authority were established. Therefore, I believe that that also should be submitted to the people for their approval.

As the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer of Thoroton, whom I do not see in his place, pointed out in Committee on 18th May: The Government also think that the composition of this Chamber is not just a matter for this House. There are wider considerations beyond the wishes of this House, in particular the wishes of another place and of the people".—[Official Report, 18/5/99; col. 223.] We know how the Government intend to ascertain the wishes of another place, but how will they discover the wishes of the people? I should like to ask the noble Baroness the Lord Privy Seal whether the Government still hold the view expressed by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer of Thoroton, because, if they do, I should like to know how they intend to discover the wishes of the people other than by means of a referendum. It is clear that the people have had no opportunity to express their views on the Bill as it currently stands. I think that it is absolutely right that they should be given such an opportunity.

With respect to the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, I do not think that this is a case of "the Peers against the people" but rather that the Peers would like the people's opinion on whether the people—

Lord Simon of Glaisdale

My Lords, the noble Lord misunderstood me. It would be represented as "the Peers against the people".

Viscount Trenchard

My Lords, I am sure that certain elements would attempt to represent it as "the Peers against the people" but it would not be that as, I think, the people would recognise. They would recognise that the Peers were seeking the people's opinion on whether they wished the Peers to continue to act as a constraint on the power of the executive until such time as a successor House, stage two, is agreed.

Lord Goodhart

My Lords, the amendment calls for a referendum on this Bill. It is technically a somewhat odd amendment. I wonder how an Act of Parliament can authorise a referendum and specify questions to be asked in that referendum when no part of that Act is in force. However, that is a lawyer's quibble and could no doubt be cured by redrafting.

What cannot be cured by redrafting is the substance of the amendment. The referendum would not be about the permanent retention of the hereditary membership of your Lordships' House. That question was decided in 1910 when the Liberals and their allies won two successive general elections on the platform of "the Peers against the people". Permanent retention of the hereditary membership is not now supported by any political party in this country. Indeed, it is supported by only a few Members of your Lordships' House. Frankly, it has no support among the public. Therefore, the permanent retention of the hereditary element is not a live question.

The referendum would relate only to the transitional stage. When a similar amendment was debated in Committee, the Weatherill amendment had not been passed. In effect, the question then proposed for such a referendum was: should all hereditary Peers be removed from the House of Lords before stage two, or none of them? I said then that even at that stage we did not think that such a question was appropriate for a referendum. Although it was an important issue, we did not think that it was so fundamental as to require a referendum of the entire electorate. I do not want to re-argue that question now because the situation has changed. Indeed, it has changed so as to make the case for having a referendum, such as it was, very much weaker than at that time.

As the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, pointed out, the Weatherill amendment has since been passed and accepted by the Government. That changes the situation entirely. The question that would now have to be asked in a referendum is: do you want all hereditary Peers to remain in the House of Lords until stage two, or simply 92 of them?

That seems to be a wholly unsuitable question for a referendum. It is a far less important question than when the Bill did not contain the Weatherill amendment. For better or worse, your Lordships' House will continue to contain a substantial hereditary element during the transitional stage. The question of whether that element should be all 750 or only 92 is of great importance to the individuals affected by it, but it is not an issue of great public importance. It is certainly not an issue that is being discussed in the pubs and clubs—with the possible exception of White's. Referendums should be kept for issues of national significance and should not be devalued by being used too often. If we hold the referendum that this amendment asks for, the turnout for it will make last Thursday's turnout for the European elections look like mass hysteria.

The Government rely on their manifesto; it is not our manifesto. If we thought it right to support a referendum, we would do so. But without regard to the manifesto, we do not support the call for a referendum on its own merits. As it is, we are unhappy with the Weatherill amendment. To add a requirement for a referendum to the Weatherill amendment would, in our view, effectively constitute a wrecking of the Bill. We are therefore wholly unable to support this amendment.

4 p.m.

Lord Chalfont

My Lords, perhaps I may briefly explain to your Lordships' House why I support the amendment and have put my name to it.

We have heard again talk about the manifesto. That argument has been exhausted and I do not propose to enter further into it. We are all agreed that the Government are perfectly entitled to enact legislation which is referred to in their manifesto. The only point I would make—it has already been made more than once during the passage of the Bill—is that we are all agreed, on both sides of the House, that the Government did not obtain its massive majority on the issue of the hereditary peerage. There were other matters upon which the electorate voted. That is the only point left to make about the manifesto.

However, on the question of this constitutional change, we have been already advised to look at the record so far. In matters of constitutional change there have been appeals for a referendum on the Assembly in Wales, the Parliament in Scotland, on Northern Ireland, the assembly in London and we understand there is to be a referendum on the question of the common currency in Europe. The question then arises: whether the change now proposed in the Bill is a constitutional change of lesser importance than any of those. In my view it is not. It is a constitutional change of profound importance which is designed to lead—and will lead—to constitutional changes of even deeper significance. Therefore, if it is right to ask the people by referendum about the other constitutional changes, it is certainly right, proper and desirable to ask their views about this one.

Comments have been made that the people are ignorant of the issues; that the turnout for such a referendum would be low. If there is ignorance of the issue in the country, the answer is to remove it. In order to remove that ignorance of the issues from the public mind, we should have a referendum, have it debated and have the issues on both sides fully explained to the people. There is a need for a much wider debate. The noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, said that the matter is not much discussed in the pubs and clubs. It is not; but it should be. We are the people who can make it so. Outside of Parliament, I have found very little knowledge in the country of not only the Bill but the functions of the House of Lords; what it does, when it does it; what it is designed to do and how well it does it. These matters are not known to people generally outside Parliament—except of course for London taxi drivers who, as usual, know more about them than any of us. Leaving taxi drivers aside, there is room for a wide and wide-ranging public debate on the matter.

The noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, said that it would be represented once again as the old issue of the Peers against the people. If it is represented as such a matter by those who are against the referendum, then those of us who are in favour of a referendum should explain that it is not so. If we cannot win the argument then we do not deserve to win the referendum. But we must have argument and debate.

It is often quite rightly said that there is a difficulty about framing a question for a referendum; usually there is. I do not think that argument holds in this case. The question set out in Amendment No. 2 is a very simple one. It has been suggested by other noble Lords that it might be misunderstood. I do not believe that there is a very great danger of that. It is very clear that what the amendment means by a "successor House" is a House which follows the interim House. That is perfectly clear in this draft amendment.

It has been said—not today but at other times during the debate on the Bill—that there are those who are minded to reject the Bill at Third Reading. That would be indeed a drastic step to take; it has all kinds of implications. I would regard that as becoming unnecessary—or, at least, less desirable—if the amendment were passed. It would mean that on a constitutional change, which is, in my view, of the profoundest importance to every person in this country, every person in this country would have the right and the opportunity to say whether he or she wanted it or not.

Baroness Gould of Potternewton

My Lords, perhaps I may briefly intervene. I accept the commitment given by the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway, on the previous occasion when we discussed this matter, that this was not an attempt to delay. But, whatever way one looks at it, that will be the consequence. I accept that a referendum does not have to wait for the Royal Commission but, nevertheless, there will be delays. A referendum Bill will need to be established and we will have to go through the procedures. That will take time and delay will still be a consequence of accepting the amendment.

Perhaps I may ask the noble Lord a question. When we arrive at the successor House, does he then propose that there should be a second post-legislative referendum in order that the public can say whether they agree with what will be a further constitutional change?

May I make one point on the matter of constitutional change and holding a referendum. There would be more validity in the argument if there had been a demand for a referendum on the Human Rights Bill. I do not recall anyone on the other side of the House requesting one.

My final point relates to the question on the referendum. I find great difficulty with it. Recently in your Lordships' House we had a debate on referendums. It was generally agreed across the House that one of the most important matters was that the question should be simple; that it should be able to clearly have a "yes" or "no" answer; and that it would be understood absolutely. I have had three different interpretations given to me of what the question says. Therefore, I do not think that it is simple. It is not the type of wording for a referendum question. It has too much legalese in its approach, which will cause problems.

The noble Lord, Lord Campbell, said that he wanted the amendment accepted in principle. That is fine, but when one has something as rigid as the question written into the amendment, then that becomes the fact and the principle ceases to be. One then has the wording on the face of the Bill as the wording which will go into the referendum, without any consultation or discussion about what might be in a referendum Bill, who should consider the question and who should consider the details of holding a referendum. As with the previous amendment, I have great technical problems with this one.

Lord Peyton of Yeovil

My Lords, one should try to greet the noble Baroness who has just sat down with the congratulations and thanks that are usually tendered to a maiden speaker. It is not often that we have the privilege of hearing a contribution from a noble Lord or noble Baroness from the Government Back Benches. So we cordially welcome her and hope that we shall hear from her often.

Baroness Gould of Potternewton

My Lords, I do not wish to interrupt the noble Lord, but I do not know how many times I and my colleagues have spoken in the Committee stage debates in this Chamber.

Lord Peyton of Yeovil

My Lords, I am sorry if I happened to be absent on some of those occasions. However, I do hope that the noble Baroness will not lose the habit of speaking.

I am sorry to find myself in disagreement with my noble friend Lord Campbell of Alloway. I will not go into the issue at length for the reasons given with great eloquence by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale. First, I believe that if we were to have a referendum, we would be moving backwards to a stage which we passed long ago with the Weatherill amendment. Secondly, I believe it to be almost inevitable that if we had a referendum on this subject, it would be represented as one more round in the battle which finished long ago; that of the Peers against the people. So I hope with some confidence that when the noble Baroness the Leader of the House comes to reply, she will reject the amendment.

We should also bear in mind that referendums asking the public to express their opinion are not all that popular. Only last week, we emerged from a process which I would not like to describe in detail. I refer to that awful document which most of us met for the first time in a polling station. It was a revolting way of taking an opinion on the subject. If it is ever tried again, I believe that the disappointment recently experienced by the public will lead to an even lower poll than we had on this occasion. Those who advocate referendums should bear in mind that the public do not find us all that interesting. They do not wish to hear from us every day of the week.

There are in your Lordships' House many more modest people than there are in the House of Commons. We should perhaps use our influence on them to avoid referendums, and not encourage the use of this rather superficial and unpleasant device.

I wish to make only one more point before I sit down. I wish to express very quietly my sympathy with what my noble friend Lord Elton said very courteously just now. He said that when the first amendment appeared there occurred what I took to be—I may be wrong—a preliminary private chat between the two Front Benches, with eventually someone on the Back Benches perhaps having a chance to speak. It was silly of me to have had that view, but nevertheless I missed my opportunity to express an opinion. I will not go into what my opinion was now, but I hope that in future we will not be the victims of the Whips on the Government Front Bench and be caught out without having had an opportunity to say something.

Baroness Jay of Paddington

My Lords, I must gently intervene to say that I rose to reply to the noble Lord, Lord Kingsland, speaking from the Opposition Front Bench only after what I considered to be a fairly significant pause in the proceedings. I was following the procedures on Report, as was my noble friend the Whip on duty. We certainly left every opportunity for other noble Lords to rise. There seemed to be a significant silence at that time.

Lord Peyton of Yeovil

My Lords, I am very much obliged to the noble Baroness for her explanation. If she will do me the courtesy of reading what I said, she will find that I made it perfectly clear that it was myself, and not her, who was the problem, and that I had made the mistake. That little private chat was entirely misread by myself, and for that I apologise.

Lord Elton

My Lords, the fact that I was under the same misapprehension perhaps throws a little light on the situation.

4.15 p.m.

Lord Phillips of Sudbury

My Lords, my noble friend Lord Goodhart has clearly and ably set out the position of these Benches. I largely concur with what he said. However, I should like to refer to one matter on which he touched and which has been referred to by other noble Lords who have spoken. I refer to the lessons to be drawn from the democratic catastrophe, as I think one could call it, of the recent European elections. I am not at all sure that I go along with the view that, because the result was such an appalling reflection of the democratic vitality of the British electorate, one should have less reference to the electorate and should engage in less dialogue with them. I think the reverse is true.

When the Leader of the House comes to reply to the amendment, I should like her to comment on the way in which the consultation exercise, if one can call it that, is going vis-à-vis the proposed second stage of reform of this House.

Before Christmas I asked whether there would be what I called in my Question a widespread information and consultation campaign with the public at large. The answer that I was unequivocally given was, yes. If one reads the White Paper setting up the Royal Commission, one will find there, too, an unequivocal and enthusiastic endorsement of the notion that we should be engaging the great British public as much as possible in a dialogue in which, first, they will be enabled to understand the main sinews and lines of reform proposed and, secondly, to give their response to those proposals in order that the Royal Commission may have fed into it a wider tributary of responses than those of the usual "chattering classes". I have to say that so far the signs are extremely disappointing.

The Royal Commission has set in train a series of a dozen or so public meetings. It is to be commended on that, but what is not to be commended is that there is little or nothing by way of public information, let alone consultation, around those public meetings. I believe that two of them have already been cancelled because of a failure even to inform the public adequately that they were being conducted.

Lord Marsh

My Lords, as a matter of interest, can the noble Lord give some indication of what, where and how this relates to the Bill?

Lord Phillips of Sudbury

My Lords, it relates to the Bill in terms of the argument expressed by a number of noble Lords that the need for a referendum is to make up for the failure to inform and consult the public. I was seeking to engage the Government in responding to that general line of argument. While I am not persuaded that we should accept this amendment, I am entirely in sympathy with those noble Lords who feel that without it there will be no public information and consultation. That is the drift of my argument. I leave it at that, but I urge the Government, if it is not too late, to put some muscle behind this public information and consultation campaign and perhaps take a leaf out of the book of the Local Government Commission, which for the first and only time did effectively engage public opinion and received a huge response. I am disinclined to support the amendment, but I am extremely sympathetic to those who have spoken in terms of the failure to inform and consult the public.

Lord Marsh

My Lords, whatever conclusions may be drawn from last week's election results, they demonstrate two things. There is no overwhelming, pulsating desire on the part of the British electorate to become more and more involved in the political decision-making process. Secondly, far from being a catastrophe, it is difficult to imagine a more comprehensive, deeply emotionally moving demonstration of the British public's opinion of some of the activities of the European Commission. That came over loud and clear.

Like the noble Baroness, I could well understand, although not agree with, a call for a referendum on the proposals for stage two. The noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway, represents a significant body of opinion which has believed from the beginning that the details of stage two should have been available and negotiated before we took the decision on stage one. That view has been expressed—and expressed, and expressed. A refrain has begun to emerge.

The noble Lord, Lord Peyton, drew attention (he was wrong, as he said) to the attendance of some Members of this House. I have become increasingly bewildered by the absence of the noble Lord, Lord Lloyd-Webber—I must say that I have not given the noble Lord notice of this comment—because this is reaching a stage where it could be set to music. It could be developed at some length.

The problem for all oppositions is that strongly held, perfectly legitimate views are not accepted by the government of the day and it is difficult to come to terms with that. There comes a time when a government has to take a decision. This Government, whether right or wrong, have made it clearly, as they are entitled to do, and they want to do it this way. The amendment would mean going to the electorate with a referendum, which would take several months to set up, and effectively asking people to take part in the kind of negotiations which usually take place between the usual channels. The last thing the general public want is to get mixed up with the usual channels.

This is a serious point. We cannot get away from the recognition that there comes a stage in the passage of a Bill as controversial as this, and on which there are such deeply held emotions, when, with a government majority, it has to progress. Whatever the virtues of referendums—and I have grave doubts about them—to expect the public to take a decision on how we should manage the progress of a Bill through the Houses of Parliament would make us look ridiculous. That is not a criticism of the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway. His is a serious and strongly held view. But we have now debated it many times. We cannot at this stage simply pass the matter on to the public by means of a referendum.

Earl Ferrers

My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Marsh, always makes an entertaining speech, and he is usually right. But with the greatest respect, this time he is wrong. My noble friend Lord Peyton of Yeovil, who also makes entertaining speeches, is also wrong. I happen to believe that my noble friend Lord Campbell of Alloway is right.

I do not like referenda, for all the obvious reasons that have been mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Marsh. People have said to me that we elect people to the House of Commons in order to take decisions, and the first thing that they do is to turn round and ask the electorate what they ought to do about a particular matter. As one person who made that comment said, what on earth do we pay those people for other than to take decisions?

We have become hooked into these wretched referenda. The noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, referred to a number of different referenda—on Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, and possibly the euro. Presumably the total alteration of one of the Chambers of Parliament is at least as important a subject for a referendum as the others.

I hesitate to disagree with the noble and learned Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, but to say that the Government have displayed such huge loyalty over the Weatherill amendment that, therefore, there should not be a referendum is not a matter of any moment. Of course the Government have shown loyalty over the Weatherill amendment. They instigated the arrangements that brought that about.

We have been told all along that this was in the manifesto. But what is being done now was not in the manifesto. The manifesto referred to the abolition of all hereditary Peers. There is now to be retention of 92 or 100 hereditary Peers. That is a very different matter. Much as I hate wretched referenda, as do many others, this question ought to be put to the people of this country. They should be asked: "Do you want one of the Chambers of Parliament altered like this, as a temporary measure?".

I always long to agree with the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart. I almost always disagree with what he says, and never more so than today. He says that no political party wants hereditary Peers; no one believes that hereditary Peers have any part to play in the political life of this country at all and that is out. He is plainly wrong. There is a just a hint of what outside this Chamber would be termed arrogance. It is the flavour that one would normally attribute to the noble Lord. The inference is that life Peers are tremendous and everyone wants them and does not want hereditary Peers. That is not my experience at all. Many people have said, "For goodness' sake why are the Government messing up the House of Lords? We want it kept as it is because we approve of the balance of hereditary and life Peers". The great idea that no one wants hereditary Peers, all they want is life Peers, is frankly a lot of nonsense.

I agree with the remark of the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, that this is a constitutional change of profound proportions. So it is. Let no one think that it is anything else. It is not merely a minor twist or change. It is a total alteration. I do not believe that that is right. There is a good argument for saying: let the people of the country say whether they want it, yes or no. I hope that the House will accept the amendment.

Lord Graham of Edmonton

My Lords, before the noble Earl sits down, perhaps he will help me to understand his argument. I understood him to say that, without the additional twist of bringing in hereditaries, he would have had no objection to the will of the people as expressed at the general election. The problem as he sees it is that now the mandate which was sought and given is being varied, that variation entitles him to argue that it alone should be the subject of a referendum.

Surely the noble Earl was present in this Chamber when, months ago, arguments were put that some mechanism was needed to ensure that the Government's intention to have two stages had to be locked in by making the changes that were made. Surely the noble Earl has heard his former Leader, the noble Viscount, Lord Cranborne, and others putting the argument that was generally well received by his own side, that they have achieved an additional opportunity for a section of the House, a number of hereditaries, to remain until the second stage is achieved. So will the noble Earl help me by explaining his argument that a referendum is necessary because of the additional change, but was not necessary when the mandate was sought and received?

Earl Ferrers

My Lords, with the leave of the House, perhaps I may reply. The noble Lord gets the whole matter completely wrong. He refers to the will of the people. It is not the will of the people to alter this House of Parliament. It is the result of a few lines in a manifesto. It is the will of the Labour Party. In a major situation such as this, whether with or without the addition of the Weatherill amendment, that change is of such profound importance that the view of the electorate should be sought.

4.30 p.m.

The Earl of Onslow

My Lords, first "democratic catastrophe" is a novel description of a situation in which one's own vote is halved. Secondly, my noble friend Lord Ferrers was very keen that none of us who wanted a referendum on Maastricht should have our way. Thirdly, I must congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Jay, for wearing a spiffing blue—obviously to celebrate Thursday's election results. Up until now we have managed to pass constitutional Bills by the use of Parliament. I pressed for a referendum on Maastricht because I thought that it would go the way that I wanted. There is always a tendency to favour a referendum because one believes that one can get one's own way behind the back of Parliament. I believe that to be a bad idea. It seemed to me to be totally unnecessary to have a referendum on Scots or Welsh devolution. That was part of the Labour Party's manifesto, and it should have stuck to its guns and done it through Parliament and not by referendums.

I believe that it was the Duc de Lévis who said, "Gouverner, c'est choisir"—to govern is to choose. That is what governments are there for. The Government have made a choice in this Bill. They proposed one set of propositions and under considerable pressure, and, I suggest, with great grace, changed their mind and offered a major concession to those of us who thought that the first stage was not a dog's breakfast but a dog's indigestion or hangover in the middle of night—which it was. The Government have given a great deal and there is now only one point of real disagreement: namely, the issue of by-election, to which we shall come next Tuesday. We are being asked to insert into the Bill a provision for a referendum. Governments are there to govern, and if it comes to a Division I am afraid that I shall vote with the blue Lobby.

Lord Monson

My Lords, like the noble Lords, Lord Elton, Lord Goodhart and others, I have reservations about the wording of the proposed referendum. Like the noble Baroness on the Government Benches, J believe that such a question should be less legalistic and more user-friendly, but that is a detail that can easily be rectified at Third Reading. The important point is the principle. In addition to the reasons so well advanced by the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway, there is another one touched on by my noble friend Lord Chalfont. The referendum campaign would provide a very necessary opportunity to correct widespread misapprehensions about this House. When a newspaper headline shrieks out "House of Lords spurns battered woman's plea"—referring to an appeal by a woman sentenced to life imprisonment for killing her violent and drunken husband—fully 50 per cent of the electorate, or perhaps more, imagine that 750 hard-hearted hereditary Peers have dismissed the woman's appeal, not a handful, of Law Lords sitting in their judicial capacity.

The confusion does not end there. Within the past few weeks highly educated and intelligent people like Dr Matt Ridley on the right of centre and a lady on the left of centre who holds a senior position in Charter 88 have written articles which indicate that they genuinely believe that at the moment there exists a hereditary' right to rule, judge, order people about and single-handedly to make laws to change people's lives against their will. That is a total travesty of the truth. We have no such powers, thank God! The only power we have is a power of temporary delay which is rarely employed. Not a single Bill or amendment that emanates from your Lordships' House gets anywhere at all unless the elected Chamber gives it the green light, which is at it should be. We know this but most of the public do not. Once they know the truth, public support for the retention of your Lordships' House in broadly its present form for the time being is likely to be become even more widespread than it is now.

My noble and learned friend Lord Simon of Glaisdale was worried that the amendment might be construed as reopening the question of Peers versus the people. With all respect to him, it would have precisely the opposite effect. The short and medium-term future of this House would be entirely in the hands of the people as expressed by the referendum. What could be fairer than that?

Lord Davies of Coity

My Lords, as the noble Earl, Lord Ferrers, reminds us, a number of entertaining speeches on this subject have been made. Like him, I want to be as clear where I stand as he is. I believe that he and the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway, are wrong and that the noble Lords, Lord Marsh and Lord Peyton, are right. To call for a referendum expresses two kinds of circumstances: at best it is some kind of strategic retreat; at worst it is further clutching at straws. The noble Lord, Lord Marsh, said that this saga could be put to music. It seems to me that if so it would become a classic Gilbert and Sullivan opera. If we put the constitutional position of the House of Lords in a referendum to the British people we would become an absolute laughing stock. The people are concerned about employment, health, education, the economy, keeping their families together and living in a society that is good for them. People are not concerned about the retention of hereditary Peers in the House of Lords.

Viscount Mountgarret

My Lords, I should like to make a short intervention, not so much on the ability of Parliament to deal with this Bill—I am sure that I shall be corrected, but Parliament is omnipotent and the sovereign, through Parliament, passes laws that affect the whole country—but the fact that power used without consideration can easily be abused and not respected. Power that is used prudently and considerately with discretion is accepted far more easily than otherwise. One considers the major changes in the constitution that occurred in Wales and Scotland. The people of England were not asked about those changes although the matters relating to Wales and Scotland affected many of them. It is right that people should be asked specifically for their views.

On this issue there is no shadow of doubt in my mind that the people of this country should be asked. It is argued uphill and down dale that there is a mandate for it in the election manifesto, and that is a perfectly valid argument. I believe that the people of this country wanted a Labour government. They were perfectly happy to go along with many of the things that the Labour Party wished to put in its manifesto—I for one believe that it contained one or two very good things—and as such accepted the whole deal, warts and all.

I suspect that if people were asked whether they wished to throw away 800 years of constitutional history in the form of a House that provided an effective control over the executive, despite the observations of the noble Lord who just spoke, they would be extremely interested in the matter. Of course, people are very interested in health, education and many of the matters that affect their daily lives—quite rightly so—but I suspect that they are also interested in seeing that there is not unicameral government without an effective check on the legislature which, if this Bill is passed as it stands, will be the case. I believe that it is only right and proper that people should be asked, and for that reason I shall be right behind the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway, if he chooses to press this amendment to a Division. It may be that because of what I have said he will think that it is probably better not to do so.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour

My Lords, I do not think that the point I wish to raise has been made.

I agree with those who say that this change is as major as the changes in Scotland, Wales and London. I agree that people have not been able to discuss the issue and do not realise the implications. I agree that people are becoming worried about referendums. That is obvious. They have never liked them. Anyone who has taken part in a referendum campaign knows that one has to talk quite a lot about the question as one campaigns. One has to justify the fact that that enormous operation is taking place.

If one campaigned on this referendum, one would have to say, "You are voting on something which may last for only two or three years, but what worries those who have asked for the referendum is that it might last for 15 or 20 years". If we had said that in the Scottish referendum campaign, people would never again have wanted a referendum. I should have been sorry about that. It is a tool which sometimes has to be used. I have from time to time regretted that we have not had one. The recent referendum demonstrates that people are not too keen on having too many in too hot a succession.

On this issue, I do not believe that we should be doing a service to the public or democracy by having a referendum. I believe that we would do the public a disservice. Taking account of all the feelings about the issue at stake, I hope noble Lords will agree that this amendment should not be accepted.

4.45 p.m.

Viscount Cranborne

My Lords, I am happy to follow my noble friend Lady Carnegy in what she said.

I do not know whether, like me, in noble Lords' adolescence they became a fan of the Edwardian writer Saki. If your Lordships were, in the distant past, fans of that writer, no doubt you will remember the story entitled, The Great Weep. Noble Lords will remember that in the story there was a plague in the United Kingdom which unfortunately carried away every member of the British Royal Family. As a result the throne devolved upon the scion of a rather obscure German house who was known as Hermann the Irascible also called the Wise. He happened to come to the throne at a time when there was great agitation for an increase in the franchise, in particular for women. The prime minister who, unlike me, was against the extension of the franchise to women came to the new king, Hermann the Irascible also called the Wise, and said, "Sir, I don't know how I am going to contain this difficulty". The king said, "Well, they want the vote, let them vote. Let them vote not only on who shall be the next government, but on every position of a public nature in the polity; and not only should they have the right to vote but compulsorily they should vote".

It came to pass that that happened; and so onerous was that new duty that there came into being an enormous political movement dedicated towards the revocation of the right to vote; and as a protest a great weep was organised outside the gates of Buckingham Palace. During the course of the agitation accompanying this protest. the prime minister came to the monarch, who advised the prime minister in the following terms: "Prime Minister, in politics it is sometimes worth knowing when to retreat"; and so it came to pass that the obligation to vote was revoked.

I remind your Lordships of that story for one simple reason. Of course the prime minister of the then monarch, Hermann the Irascible also called the Wise, was wrong in his feeling that the women should not be allowed to vote. But there was a great truth which the imaginary monarch encapsulated in his advice to his prime minister: that it is unwise to expect the electorate to do the duty of Parliament; and that there is a judgment to be made that the electorate of this country has other things on its mind but politics. That is perhaps a gauge of the political health of the nation: that the electorate feels able to delegate substantial powers of judgment to its representatives in Parliament.

So long as that is so, it is right that there should be only a limited opportunity for the electorate to express its opinion. How limited that opportunity is is a matter of judgment.

My noble friend Lord Campbell of Alloway feels that there should be a less limited opportunity than I do. In this modern age, I am not against the principle of the referendum on all matters, but the choice of the question which we submit to the judgment of the electorate in a referendum should be used with enormous care. The choice should be clear and on a matter of overwhelming importance. I yield to no one, least of all my noble friend Lord Campbell of Alloway, in my sense of the importance of your Lordship's House in any constitutional settlement. But a referendum on stage one, particularly given the Government's—in my view—foolish stance in their election manifesto is not a sufficient reason to submit the matter to a referendum. By that judgment the wisdom of Hermann the Irascible applies.

There is a strong argument for a referendum on a final reform of your Lordships' House under stage two if the Government eventually get to that. I still maintain substantial reservations about whether the Government want to reach stage two. But should they wish to implement some stage two proposals, I think that there is a strong case for a referendum. But I suggest to your Lordships that as regards the transitional arrangements on stage one perhaps we should heed the fictional advice of Hermann the Irascible and, with the greatest respect to my noble friend Lord Campbell of Alloway, reject his idea for a referendum on this issue.

Lady Saltoun of Abernethy

My Lords, we have been told that a referendum would result in a delay to the coming into force of the proposed Act of Parliament of at least two months. In such an important matter, is a delay of two months important? It seems to me that on such an important matter two months is neither here nor there. We have already heard many people tell us that referenda have been held recently on no less important constitutional matters. I think that that has created a precedent which cannot be disregarded in this case.

Finally, we have been told that the Government have made a great concession: they have accepted the Weatherill amendment. I am sorry, but I believe that the Government accepted the Weatherill amendment because it suited them to do so, whatever they have told us. It suited them for two reasons: first, it would enable them to get their business through; and, secondly, they realised that it would divide the opposition and so kill it.

Lord Desai

My Lords, this amendment reminds me of the time when I used to chair the Islington South and Finsbury Labour Party when on the management committee some people by a show of hands lost a Motion. They then decided to have a roll-call vote. When they lost that they decided that they must have a postal ballot. Until all the electorate had been consulted they were not willing to accept the obvious truth that they had lost.

As a number of noble Lords have said, the present Bill has arisen out of a manifesto commitment. They also said—and I did not agree with them—that Clause 2 had improved the Bill. Therefore, the Bill as previously approved by the electorate is new and improved. It will be strongly approved by this House and another place. I do not believe that after that procedure one should go through the arcane doctrine of expecting the public to take any interest just because we are being reformed.

Some noble Lords have said that if the public rediscovered how good we are, they will begin crying and gnashing their teeth and saying that we should stay here forever. In my view, sadly the opposite will happen. When one cares to ask the public what they think of us one discovers that it is not very much. They think that we in the House of Lords are asleep most of the time and that what we say is most obscure. I have always said that that is because this House lacks legitimacy and effectiveness and the Bill will make the House more legitimate and more effective. The sooner we pass this Bill, the sooner we shall be loved for our efficiency and not for the pomp.

Viscount Torrington

My Lords, a short time ago the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, speculated as to whether this matter was causing any heat in the bar at White's. As a member, I can assure him that during Ascot week there is very little chance of that.

I wish to bring another issue to the attention of the House; it has already been mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont. The Bill was a government manifesto commitment and a couple of weeks ago we were treated to the amazing sight of the Government Front Bench leading the lobby in order to drive a coach and horses through their own manifesto commitment. We all understand the reasons for that, but the fact is that it is no longer a manifesto Bill and there is an element in this House—a maverick fringe—which believes that it now has a licence to vote against the Bill on Third Reading. Therefore, I suggest that the Government consider accepting the amendment in the name of my noble friend Lord Campbell because it would cut the ground from under that maverick fringe. I believe that the Government should think about it.

Lord Strathclyde

My Lords, perhaps I may begin by saying a few words about the point raised by my noble friend Lord Elton and the noble Lord, Lord Phillips of Sudbury, on the amount of publicity which the Government are giving to the issue of whether the Royal Commission is succeeding in enhancing the value of public debate. I congratulate the Royal Commission and my noble friend Lord Wakeham, first, on deciding to go outside London and, secondly, on having some hearings in public. Therefore, I am disturbed to hear from my noble friend and the noble Lord, Lord Phillips, that there is a view that sometimes such hearings are undertaken in conditions of secrecy.

I am sure that the Government will say that they have no responsibility in this matter because it is up to the Royal Commission. That is fair enough as regards the Royal Commission. But as a matter of public policy, they have a responsibility to extend public debate. No doubt they will have seen, in the evidence given to the Royal Commission by the Conservative Party, that a strong case is made out for maximising the publicity surrounding the issue. We do so in order to ensure that the kind of House the country ends up with is the best possible, with the maximum authority and the widest public acceptance.

Turning to the amendment, I am pleased that my noble friend has simplified it in comparison with that tabled in Committee. The current amendment merely requires a referendum before the Act comes into force. No doubt that will remove the objection which the Government made to the Committee stage amendment: that it would cause delay. That amendment sought to delay any referendum until after the report of a joint committee on the findings of the Wakeham commission. This amendment does not do so. I believe that that is wise, although I believe that the Government should not have come forward with the Bill until they had heard the wise words of the Royal Commission.

However, there is one thing about the amendment which I regret. It is the omission of any requirement for a referendum to be conducted on the lines of the Neill recommendations. I do not believe that this House, particularly as in the eyes of the Government it is to become more legitimate, should ever again pose a provision for a referendum which does not require the impartial rules laid out by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Neill. Referendums are a dubious device at the best of times and they should not stand without proper safeguards.

I must also ask my noble friend what is meant by "the people of the United Kingdom". Would a simple majority of the electorate be enough? If fewer than 20 per cent of the electorate turned out, as happened in the recent European elections in the North-East, would my noble friend consider 50 per cent of that 19.6 per cent an adequate majority to abolish this House? How much fewer than 10 per cent of the electorate constitutes "the people of the United Kingdom"? I wonder whether my noble friend might not give the issue further thought if he decides to return once more to the charge on Third Reading.

Turning to the general thrust of the amendment, I agree with much of what my noble friend says. The House of Lords, this House, appears to be the only matter on which the Government are not prepared to entertain a referendum. We have had recent referendums on Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and London. We are promised, although now with less enthusiasm, which is not surprising, referendums on proportional representation and the euro. Is this House, and the future of Parliament. any less important than those? Yet Parliament is being left out of the process of referendums.

I ask again the question I posed in Committee. What are the Government afraid of? Surely it cannot be the popularity of hereditary Peers. Perhaps it might be. Perhaps the Government are hearing the cry that I and my noble friend Lord Ferrers have heard; that no change is better than this change. Who was right over the issue of the disastrous closed lists in the European elections which caused the Government to fall flat on their face? Was it the House of Commons? No, it was this House which stood for democracy in those weeks and, whatever one's view on Europe, would that it had been heeded.

If my noble friend's amendment were carried today, I should not count on winning a referendum. But if the matter were ever put to the test, we might find that the public saw rather more sense in this House than the Government do. If asked to buy a pig in a poke policy, the policy of the wanton destruction of the old House, without spelling out any plan on how to create a new one, the public might be no more enthusiastic to trust the Government than they were last week on the matter of the euro. I would counsel the Government against counting their chickens on this matter.

I have also taken the trouble to look carefully at the debate on this issue in Committee. There the noble Lord, Lord Goodhart, in a typically rousing speech from the Liberal Democratic Benches, said that all amendments to this Bill were unnecessary. At that time, the noble Lord also said that he thought there would be a low turnout in a referendum. He has said very much the same today and that, therefore, a referendum should not be held. I thought then that it was curious reasoning and I think it is again today. Has this reasoning turned the Liberal Party against the Welsh Assembly? Has it led them to question the validity of the European Parliament? I think not. In any case, when was a defeatist expectation of apathy an excuse for not trying? After all, have we not heard in recent days the Liberal Democratic leader, Mr Ashdown, excoriating the Prime Minister last week for not trying to combat apathy over the euro?

The whole Liberal Democratic case against this referendum, coming from a party that calls itself the party of consultation, openness, fairness and democracy, and so on, was riddled with inconsistency. It was peppered with an assumption that the people of this country do not care about their Parliament and that it can all be left to the politicians to sort out behind closed doors. Therefore, I welcome the words of the noble Lord, Lord Phillips of Sudbury. However, he may find that they do not echo the feeling of his Front Bench.

I turn to the arguments of the noble Baroness the Leader of the House. I find these even more surprising. They came down to two matters; that is, that the proposals were in their manifesto and the people, she said, have spoken precisely on this issue. That canard has been exploded by the poll taken by the pressure group, Common Sense for Lords Reform. It found that only 2 per cent of the public was aware that it had voted for such a thing. If only 2 per cent was aware, how have the people spoken precisely on this issue? If one believes they have spoken precisely, what fear is there in asking them to voice their opinion directly on the matter?

The noble Baroness was less than convincing in explaining why a referendum should not be held on a House of Parliament whereas it had to be held on an assembly for London. I may be romantic—I have sometimes been accused of that—but I happen to believe that this House is and should be rather more important than the London assembly. The noble Baroness referred to the fact that the manifesto did not state that there would be a referendum on this House whereas, as she stated, the policy of the Labour Party has always been for a referendum on Scottish devolution. At that point my noble friend Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish explained that "always" did not mean for a very long time.

I have said that there are certain flaws with the amendment tabled by my noble friend Lord Campbell of Alloway. The definition of "the people" should be tightened. The question may need to be reviewed to express more simply the idea behind my noble friend's amendment; namely, that stage two should be clear and agreed before stage one is put into effect. We would have to weigh carefully whether, given the Government's resistance to any change in the Bill, we would be wise to put the referendum above any other of our priorities to improve the Bill.

As an Official Opposition, we have priorities. We wish, for instance, to contain the patronage available to the Prime Minister. We wish to require the replacement of the membership of the Weatherill 90 by by-elections, and we wish to ensure that there is an extra hurdle for another place in asking this House for an extension to its life beyond five years. We shall return to these issues in the rest of Report stage.

My noble friend's amendment deserves rather more constructive response than it has received from those parties that claim to support the principle of referendums. I hope at this stage my noble friend will not press his amendment, for the technical and practical reasons I have given. I could not support him if he did so.

Baroness Jay of Paddington

My Lords, with the leave of the House perhaps I may briefly respond first to the points raised by the noble Lord, Lord Elton. I believe that some of the same points were addressed by the noble Lord, Lord Phillips of Sudbury. Although I have to say to both noble Lords that I am not entirely sure of their direct relevance to the amendments under discussion, they were points which the noble Lord had wished to raise.

Perhaps I may say to him, for the purposes of information, that I understand that the Royal Commission has taken a number of steps to publicise the public meetings it is holding in various places around the country, as mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde. I gather this has been reported widely in the local media, both on radio and television news programmes and in the local press. However, some meetings have been better attended than others. I understand from a conversation that I had with those responsible for the organisation that the reason for the variance is not immediately clear. However, I would say, as the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde suggested I would, that the detail of the organisation and, indeed, the policy of undertaking this kind of consultation, is in the hands of the noble Lord, Lord Wakeham, the chairman of the commission, and it is not for Government to intervene. However, I hope that that is helpful on his initial inquiry.

We have had a lengthy debate today, both on the principles and practice of referendums, as indeed we did in Committee. However, I understand that the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway, feels that he has seriously argued this afternoon that the reason for returning to this subject is partly because he feels that the situation on a referendum has changed fundamentally since he originally proposed it. That was before the House, then in Committee on Amendment No. 31, considered what was then the Weatherill amendment and has now become Clause 2.

I have to say that I am inclined to agree with the noble Lords, Lord Goodhart and Lord Peyton of Yeovil, and other noble Lords who have contributed. Passing the Weatherill amendment, as it then was, by 352 to 32 in your Lordships' House has weakened rather than strengthened the case for the referendum, as both noble Lords, Lord Goodhart and Lord Peyton of Yeovil, clearly explained. I am also inclined to agree with their pessimistic predictions about the size of a poll in such a referendum.

However, the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway, has clearly taken note of some of the points which were made in gentle criticism of the referendum amendment which he proposed in Committee. As he suggested in moving the amendment today, the new variation does not require the findings of the Royal Commission to be known, nor does it require the joint committee to have come to its conclusions before it is held. So, the delay which was inherent in the earlier amendment has, to some extent, been removed. That said, I am afraid the Government find the amendment still unacceptable. The problem that we have with it is the underlying principle. We were elected on the commitment to end the automatic right of hereditary peers to sit and vote in your Lordships' House and we are honouring that commitment.

I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Simon of Glaisdale, for his clear exposition of representative democracy and its implications in this particular argument. I am also grateful to the noble Viscount, Lord Cranborne, for reinforcing those points with his vivid story of Hermann the Irascible, which was all, indeed, entirely relevant to the argument. The noble Earl, Lord Onslow, with his typical, pithy comments on the responsibility and duty of government being to govern, seemed to me to put it at its shortest and sharpest.

Following this lead on the responsibility and duty of government to govern, I simply repeat what I said in Committee. The Government's position on a referendum is that when we feel that a referendum is required on any significant change, we will say so in advance in our election manifesto. We did this on the subject of devolution in Scotland and Wales and on the elected mayor for London, as the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, pointed out.

We did not propose this method on the Human Rights Bill, although as my noble friend Lady Gould said this was of very great, long-term importance. If I remember correctly, we did not face any concerted demands from your Lordships' House or anywhere else that a referendum should be held.

I would also gently remind the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway—the noble Earl, Lord Onslow, has already done so—as I pointed out in Committee, that he argued against a referendum on the Maastricht Treaty which could be regarded as of extreme constitutional significance, in precisely the same way as noble Lords have suggested is the Bill before us today.

Perhaps I may say to the House that the Government's attitude on referendums is not about the relative importance or otherwise of constitutional change but whether it is seen in policy terms to be relevant and necessary on a specific proposition. On the proposal regarding Scottish devolution, many points were of such detail that we were unable to include them in the manifesto. The Bill giving effect to the Scotland Act ran to over 100 clauses. I do not need to emphasise to your Lordships' House how the Government see the present Bill as simple and extremely clear, not to mention extremely short.

On the Scotland question, we published a comprehensive White Paper setting out the proposals in much more detail than we were able to do in the manifesto or during the election, and then we had a referendum.

However, the subject of reform of your Lordships' House is quite different. It is, as I say, a simple measure. The relevant passage in the election manifesto of 1997 is longer than the main clause, Clause 1 of this Bill. Our intentions were then clear and remain clear.

I would also suggest to the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway, that the clause is technically deficient. It suffers from what he himself described during the debate on the Scottish and Welsh referendums as a lack of ground rules. It fails to make sufficient provision for the conduct of the referendum. As the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde said, who is to be allowed to vote? Who are the people of the UK referred to in the amendment? As I recall, in the Committee stage the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway, was grateful for the amendment to the amendment he tabled which attempted to define the electorate as the majority of the parliamentary electorate in the United Kingdom.

There does not seem to be a sign of that particular stipulation which I believe the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway, regarded as helpful, in the existing proposal, nor does this present amendment deal with the question of funding; nor does it say when the referendum would take place. I would suggest that acceptance of this amendment would, as my noble friend Lady Gould suggested, mean a new Bill which would be required to allow for the referendum. If there were a new Bill there would of course be new delay. Obviously, for those who cannot accept any reform, delay is to be encouraged, but I am glad to say that as I understand the position of the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, that does not include the Opposition Front Bench. At least I think that is the case.

The Government, for their part, intend to proceed with this Bill without delay and I urge the House to reject this amendment should the noble Lord ask for the opinion of the House.

Lord Campbell of Alloway

My Lords, I should like to thank all noble Lords who have spoken in this debate, both for and against the amendment. I hope I will be forgiven if I do not seek to reopen the argument at any great length because we have had a very full debate.

The amendment is commended in principle and has been redrafted to reduce it to principle so that details such as ground rules, funding, thresholds and so forth could be dealt with if this is approved in principle at a later stage on Third Reading. One of the reasons why the provisions were removed as to ground rules was to avoid any hint of pre-emption of the government legislation which is to produce, as I understand it, generic ground rules before too long. This is really put forward as a matter of principle.

There seem to be in essence but three main objections. One is that you cannot have it because you have got to sustain the position of those who made the deal. I do not think I ought to comment further on that save to say that it does not appear to me—and it may not appear to your Lordships—to be a very cogent reason for not having a referendum. The second is that if we have a referendum it will be, I thought the noble and learned Lord said but I accept that he meant will be represented as, Peers against the people. That is such a misrepresentation that I think most of your Lordships would be prepared to accept that. It is a question of seeking to recognise the representations of the people in this House when they are not being recognised by the Government or by the majority in another place.

The third objection—this is the last one of substance (I was trying to take a note of the objections)—was, well, nobody is interested in this place. What on earth do we want to have a referendum for? The public will be bored with it. In any event there is no need to do it. I agree with noble Lords who say that a small turnout is not the point. The point is, as the noble Lord, Lord Chalfont, and the noble Lord, Lord Phillips of Sudbury, and indeed my noble friend Lord Strathclyde said, that there is a need for a wider debate and the sooner it is had the better.

I agree with my noble friend Lord Cranborne when he said that it all comes down to a matter of judgment. I think that is right. My noble friend also said that this referendum process must be used with care. There again I agree with him. Where we disagree, a matter of judgment, is as to whether it should be used on this occasion or not for the reasons that have been given. On that matter I must seek the judgment of your Lordships' House.

5.17 p.m.

On Question, Whether the said amendment (No, 2) shall be agreed to?

Their Lordships divided: Contents, 83; Not-Contents, 232.

Division No.1
Aldenham, L. Forbes, L.
Ashbourne, L. Gainford, L.
Banbury of Southam, L. Glenarthur, L.
Bathurst, E. Gormanston, V.
Belhaven and Stenton, L. Gray, L.
Berners, B. Harding of Petherton, L.
Biffen, L. Harmar-Nicholls, L.
Blaker, L. Harris of High Cross, L.
Blyth, L. Hood, V.
Boardman, L. Hothfield, L.
Brentford, V. Kinloss, Ly.
Bruntisfield, L. Kinnoull, E.
Campbell of Alloway, L. [Teller.] Knight of Collingtree, B.
Carew, L. Lindsey and Abingdon, E
Chalfont, L. [Teller.] Liverpool, E.
Clifford of Chudleigh, L. Long, V.
Coleraine, L. McConnell, L.
Coleridge, L. Macleod of Borve, B.
Cowley, E. Merrivale, L.
Cross, V. Molyneaux of Killead, L.
Cumberlege, B. Monk Bretton, L.
Deedes, L. Monro of Langholm, L.
Devon, E. Monson, L.
Donegall, M. Monteagle of Brandon, L.
Dudley, E. Morris, L.
Dundonald, E. Mountgarret, V.
Ellenborough, L Munster, E.
Elliott of Morpeth, L. Napier and Ettrick, L.
Erroll, E. Napier of Magdafla, L.
Exmouth, V. Norrie, L.
Falmouth, V. Northbrook, L.
Ferrers, E. Northesk, E.
Fisher, L. Nunburnholme, L.
Oxfuird, V. Swinfen, L.
Pearson of Rannoch, L. Swinton, E.
Renwick, L. Torrington, V.
Rodney, L. Trenchard, V.
Saltoun of Abernethy, Ly. Waterford. M.
Sandford, L. Willoughby de Broke, L.
Wise, L.
Soulsby of Swaffham Prior, L. Wrenbury, L.
Swansea, L. Wynford, L.
Acton, L. Dormand of Easington, L.
Addington, L. Dubs, L.
Ahmed, L. Eatwell, L.
Aldington, L. Erne, E.
Allenby of Megiddo, V. Evans of Parkside, L.
Alli, L. Evans of Watford, L.
Amherst of Hackney, L. Falkland, V.
Amos, B. Farrington of Ribbleton, B.
Ampthill, L. Freyberg, L.
Archer of Sandwell, L. Geraint, L.
Archer of Weston-Super-Mare, L. Gilbert, L.
Ashley of Stoke, L. Gladwyn, L.
Attenborough, L. Glanusk, L.
Avebury, L. Glasgow, E.
Bach, L. Glenamara, L.
Baldwin of Bewdley, E. Goodhart, L.
Barnard, L. Gordon of Strathblane, L.
Barnett, L. Gould of Potternewton, B.
Bassam of Brighton, L. Graham of Edmonton, L.
Bath, M. Grantchester, L.
Beaumont of Whitley, L. Gray of Contin, L.
Berkeley, L. Grenfell, L.
Blackstone, B. Grey, E.
Blease, L. Halsbury, E.
Bledisloe, V. Hamwee, B.
Bowness, L. Hanningfield, L.
Bridges, L. Hanworth, V.
Brightman, L. Hardy of Wath, L.
Brooke of Alverthorpe, L. Harris of Greenwich, L.
Brookman, L. Harris of Haringey, L.
Brooks of Tremorfa, L. Harrowby, E.
Bruce of Donington, L. Haskel, L.
Burlison, L. Hawke, L.
Burns, L. Hayman, B.
Callaghan of Cardiff, L. Hereford, Bp.
Carlisle, E. Hilton of Eggardon, B.
Carnegy of Lour, B. Hogg of Cumbernauld, L.
Carr of Hadley, L. Hollis of Heigham, B.
Carter, L. [Teller.] Holme of Cheltenham, L.
Castle of Blackburn, B. Hoyle, L.
Chalker of Wallasey, B. Hughes, L.
Charteris of Amisfield, L. Hughes of Woodside, L.
Chorley, L. Hunt of Kings Heath, L.
Clarke of Hampstead, L. Hylton, L.
Clement-Jones, L. Hylton-Foster, B.
Clinton-Davis, L. Inchyra, L.
Cocks of Hartcliffe, L. Irvine of Lairg, L. [Lord Chancellor.]
Colville of Culross, V.
Colwyn, L. Islwyn, L.
Craig of Radley, L. Jacobs, L.
Cranborne, V. Janner of Braunstone, L.
Crawley, B. Jay of Paddington, B. [Lord Privy Seal]
Cromwell, L.
Currie of Marylebone, L. Jenkins of Putney, L.
Dacre of Glanton, L. Kennet, L.
David, B. Kirkwood, L.
Davies of Coity, L. Lauderdale, E.
Davies of Oldham, L. Lester of Herne Hill, L.
Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde, B. Levy, L.
Desai, L. Linklater of Butterstone, B.
Dholakia, L. Listowel, E.
Diamond, L. Lockwood, B.
Dixon, L. Lofthouse of Pontefract, L.
Donoughue, L. Lovell-Davis, L.
Lucas, L. Russell, E.
Ludford, B. Sainsbury of Turville, L.
Macdonald of Tradeston, L. St Davids, V.
McIntosh of Hanngey, L. [Teller.] St John of Bletso, L.
Sandberg, L.
Mackenzie of Framwellgate, L. Scotland of Asthal, B.
Mackie of Benshie, L. Serota, B.
McNally, L. Sewel, L.
Mar and Kellie, E. Shannon, E.
Marlesford, L. Sharp of Guildford, B.
Marsh, L. Shaughnessy, L.
Mason of Barnsley, L. Shepherd, L.
Merlyn-Rees, L. Sheppard of Liverpool, L.
Meston, L. Shore of Stepney, L.
Middleton, L. Simon, V.
Miller of Chilthorne Domer, B. Simon of Glaisdale, L.
Milner of Leeds, L. Simon of Highbury, L.
Mishcon, L. Smith of Clifton, L.
Molloy, L. Smith of Gilmorehill, B.
Monkswell, L. Stoddart of Swindon, L.
Montague of Oxford, L. Strabolgi, L.
Morris of Castle Morris, L. Strafford, E.
Morris of Manchester, L. Strange, B.
Murray of Epping Forest, L Symons of Vernham Dean, B
Newby, L. Tenby, V
Nicholson of Winterbourne, B. Teviot, L.
Nicol, B. Thomas of Macclesfield, L.
Noel-Buxton, L. Thomas of Swynnerton, L.
Norton of Louth, L. Thomas of Walliswood, B.
Ogmore, L. Thomson of Monifieth, L.
Thornton B.
Onslow, E Thurlow, L.
Orme, L. Thurso, V.
Paul, L. Tomlinson, L.
Perry of Southwark, B. Tope, L.
Peston, L. Tordoff, L.
Peyton of Yeovil, L. Turner of Camden, B.
Phillips of Sudbury, L. Varley, L.
Pitkeathley, B. Vinson, L.
Plant of Highfield, L. Walker of Doncaster, L.
Ponsonby of Shulbrede, L. Wallace of Saltaire, L.
Prys-Davies, L. Walpole, L.
Ramsay of Cartvale, B. Walton of Detchant, L.
Randall of St Budeaux, L. Warner L.
Razzall, L. Watson of Invergowrie, L.
Rea, L. Weatherill, L.
Reay, L. Whitty, L.
Redesdale, L. Wigoder, L.
Rendell of Babergh, B. Wigram, L.
Richard, L. Williams of Elvel, L.
Ripon, Bp. Williams of Mostyn, L.
Rochester, L. Williamson of Horton, L.
Rodgers of Quarry Bank, L. Winston, L.
Romney, E. Young of Old Scone, B.

Resolved in the negative, and amendment disagreed to accordingly.

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