The hon. Member for Taunton (Mr. Collins), who has just spoken in the Debate which was interrupted for such great affairs for a short time, told us that he was a freeman of the City of London, and then tried to explain how it was that he would vote for its representation in this House being brought to an end. I will not go into details on the questions he raised with regard to the activity of the City Members. I am sorry that my senior colleague the right hon. Member for the City of London (Sir A. Duncan) is today still in hospital and is therefore unable to make a speech as he would have wished to do on this occasion. I am conscious of all my defects but I am not conscious of inactivity. I am one of the most active Members of this House and I have been an active representative of the City of London since I have represented that constituency. I am in constant correspondence with a very large number of those who live and work in the City of London, many of whom of course do not have votes, but nonetheless I do my best to look after their interests.
I am not going to devote my remarks today to anything except the merits of this case. We have already had a considerable discussion on the question of the Speaker's Conference and the pledges which were then given, and I do not propose to deal with those matters which have already been fully covered by right hon. Gentlemen on this side of the Committee. Nor do I propose to quote to the Lord President of the Council any of the speeches he has made in the past in favour of the representation of the City of London. I propose to address myself solely to the merits of the case. I think that is my duty as one of the Members for the City.
There are two questions which have to be settled. Is the City of London a community which merits representation in Parliament? If it is, who should vote? Those are the issues which have to be considered. I do not propose to rely for my case on tradition, though Heaven knows that is strong enough. For nearly 700 years the City of London has been represented in this House, at one time by six Members, formerly by four Members and now by two, but I shall not rely upon tradition for my argument. I am not going to rely on the fact that the City itself is the very cradle of our Parliamentary institutions and that the procedure of this House is said to be based upon the procedure of the Court of Common Council which was in existence for many years before this honourable House came into existence.
When he spoke yesterday the Home Secretary referred to the Reform Bill of 1832, and told us something of what it did. Just now, while waiting to speak, I was looking at Erskine May and reading about the number of the Commons at different times. The Reform Bill is there mentioned, and it says:
The object of … the Representation of the People Act, 1832, as stated in the preamble, was to correct diverse abuses that had long prevailed in the choice of Members. The right of returning Members was taken
from many inconsiderable places, and granted to large, populous and wealthy towns.
Does anybody deny that the City of London is a large, populous and wealthy town——
What is the proposition that hon. Members opposite seek to put forward? That because of the 500,000 people, only a handful sleep in the City, the City of London should be disfranchised. Look at the history of the Reform Bill. What was disfranchised? Was any great city or borough disfranchised? Nothing of the kind. Old Sarum was disfranchised; it had no voters at all. Some boroughs had one Member taken away. An hon. Member referred to the interest my family had in the Borough of Clitheroe. Two Members used to be returned by Clitheroe and by the Reform Bill only one was retained owing to the small population. Here is a proposition to take away the representation from a city which has a population of 500,000—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."] Yes—and on what grounds? On the grounds that, of that 500,000, only a handful sleep in the City of London. Are not the 500,000 who are awake of as great importance as the few thousand who sleep
Of course, but perhaps the hon. Gentleman does not recollect the basis on which this House of Commons is formed. It is a representation of communities. We have here hon. Members as Members for counties, hon. Members as Members for cities, others are Members for boroughs and others, happily, still Members for universities. All those are communities that are represented, not just 50,000 people whose names begin with A, B or C. Is it suggested that the City of London is not a live community today? Is it like Old Sarum, is it dead? I suggest it is the most live community that could possibly be imagined.
Let us look at it and see of what it consists. Possibly some hon. Members have not been to the City of London and do not know much about it, so perhaps I may be allowed to refresh their memories and tell them something about it? In the City of London will be found a hive of industry. At the present time, I regret to say, there will be found 160 acres destroyed by the war which we hope to rebuild as soon as we are allowed to do so. Those 500,000 people are working, earning money which this country needs more desperately today than ever before in the shape of invisible exports. There are the Bank of England and all the great banks. There are the insurance companies, there are Lloyds, the Baltic, the Stock Exchange. There are the merchants, all the commodity markets. There are Smithfield Market, Billingsgate Market, the Corn Exchange—all those activities contribute enormously to the wealth of the community, enormously to the wealth of everybody in this country.
What else is there? There are the ancient monuments such as St. Paul's Cathedral. There are the City Livery Companies, to which an hon. Member opposite told us so proudly just now that he belonged, and to which many hon. Members in this House are proud to belong. There are within the bounds of the City of London the Inner Temple and the Middle Temple. Can it honestly be suggested that this is not a great community? And a great community which demands and merits representation in this House? I do not think it is possible to suggest anything else. Now I come to the question of who should vote——
I should. If under this Bill plural voting is swept away, then let us give everyone who works in the City of London the opportunity to register himself or herself there as an elector; let them have an alternative vote. Let us find some way by which the representation of this great City can be pro- perly maintained in Parliament consonant with full democratic views. I do not want to be returned to this House by any limited franchise; I do not desire to be returned to this House merely by property owners, or by the occupiers of premises, or by those who happen to reside within the City walls; I want to be returned by those who work and earn their daily bread in the City of London, and that is the proposition I make to-day.
It is quite clear that the right hon. Member for the City of London (Mr. Assheton) has not fully thought out all the implications of the last statement he made, for I find no Amendment on the Order Paper so far which would carry out the proposal he has made. If such a proposal were made, why should it be confined to the City of London? Why should not every person who happens to live in one place and work in another have the choice as to whether he should vote in the place where he lives or in the place where he works? It is idle to suggest that in this respect the City of London is other than the most flagrant example of the kind of difficulties that would be created. A number of my constituents work in Newcastle-on-Tyne; should they be allowed to make a choice as to whether they vote in South Shields, or in Newcastle-on-Tyne? Others work in the shipyards of South Shields and live in one or other of the county divisions of Durham; is the same choice to be allowed to them?
I suggest that any such proposal as this would mean that it would be almost impossible to compile any list of constituencies in the country at all if we are to have any regard to the "one vote, one value" for which right hon. and hon. Gentlemen opposite have been contending. This is, of all the fancy franchises I have ever heard, the most amazing to be put forward, especially from Conservative benches.
I would not even say that it was democratic. There must clearly be some continuing body of electors, and the proposal of the right hon. Gentleman, apparently, would enable anyone who happened to be employed on, let us say, the basis of a week's notice, who happened to be in the City of London on the qualifying day as a worker, to be enrolled as an elector for the City of London.
May I point out to the right hon. Gentleman that anybody who happens to sleep on the appropriate night in the Salvation Army Hostel in the City of London is put in that position?
No, the right hon. Gentleman should read the Bill a little more carefully than that. There is very careful provision that casual residence of that kind will not be the appropriate qualification for being an elector in any given constituency. I suggest to the Committee that this is merely a fanciful way of trying to evade the real issue posed by this Amendment, just as we had similar fantastic proposals put forward by the hon. Member for Holland with Boston (Mr. Butcher), who said, "why not make this the seat far Mr. Speaker?" That means that this House would elect the Member for the City of London, and not the electors for the City. Or, he said, why not have it assigned to an ex-Prime Minister? If there is only one seat and there happened to be two ex-Prime Ministers, as I have known in the course of my experience in this House, who is to decide which of the two is to be the Member for the City? And if there happened to be three ex-Prime Ministers and one or two seats, who is to decide odd man out?
I suggest that to-day, as yesterday, there have been no arguments directed to the merits of this proposal. We have had a réchauffé of the Debate that took place yesterday on an alleged breach of agreement, and I intend to say no more on that matter except to deal with one of the more fantastic proposals of the right hon. and gallant Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank). He said it should have been the duty of the Lord President, the Secretary of State for Scotland and myself, to have brought in a Bill which slavishly followed the recommendations of the Speaker's Conference, and that when my hon. Friends who were not Members of the last Parliament said to us, "We do not like this Bill, we want to carry out the long-declared policy of our party to abolish the university seats and to deal effectively with the problem presented by the City of London," we should have said to them, "You vote in our Lobby." At once they would have been accused of being Lobby fodder.
Oh, no, they are not. I did not say they were. I say that if we adopted such a line hon. Members opposite would have said, "You are compelling these people to desert their principles, and converting them into Lobby fodder," which I think was a description first used by the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg).
May I assure the hon. Member that that is not so? I bring this Bill before this Committee without the provision which it is now sought to insert, because I believe that this is the Bill which ought to be brought in, with no compulsion from anyone, either behind me, or beside me. The hon. Member for Holland with Boston asked why we should not continue this representation and suggested that in 10, 15 or 25 years' time we might find there will be a sufficient resident electorate in the City of London to justify it. We have made provision in this Bill—which has been in no previous Bill—whereby there is a permanent Commission, which will review the distribution of the electorate throughout the country at intervals prescribed in the Bill. When there is a case for an increase in membership it will be the duty of that permanent Commission to make a suitable recommendation to the House. If in 10, 15 or 25 years, or at any future time, the population of this constituency justifies a Member being granted for the City by itself——
The population, like that of the rest of the country, sleeps during the appropriate hours. May I point out that it is not peculiar to the City of London that a place where a person sleeps is regarded as the appropriate place for registering him as an elector? I recollect that there have been cases in which a man's bed was over the boundary of a parish or constituency and in which it had to be decided whether his head or feet slept in the place where he was to be registered. Generally, it was decided that the place should be that where his head was.
We were asked by the hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams) to recollect the men who have been brought Ditto this House through the representation of the City of London. There is nothing that more condemns this constituency than the way in which it has been used in this century in order to secure that Conservatives who have been rejected by other constituencies should be brought back. Does anyone contend that Mr. Arthur Balfour, distinguished man as he was, was an appropriate representative for the financial and business interests of the City of London, or that the gentleman who was brought in during that same Parliament, after the Tory debacle of 1906, Sir Frederick Banbury, had any other claim to represent the City of London than the fact that he was regarded as the prime obstructionist to defeat the activities of the Liberal Government which had just been returned? When we parted company with the present junior Member for the City of London (Mr. Assheton) at the last election no one imagined that, except to get a Tory in, it would have been necessary to confer a peerage on one of the sitting Members for the City. The claim of this constituency that in some way it represents something which is above party and is purely national, is not proved by its history and its association with the Conservative Party during this century.
The right hon. and gallant Member for Gainsborough said that the fact that there were 160 acres vacant in this city was not the fault of the City. Let us agree, but neither is it the fault of Limehouse that its electorate is as low as it is at the moment. We have been continually reminded during recent months that Limehouse and other constituencies have suffered a decrease in electorate and cannot at the moment command a sufficient number to justify separate membership. If we are to give separate representation to the City of London, with 4,600 electors, there is no ground for the revision of any of the London constituencies in the drastic way we are undertaking the task in this Bill.
We deny that the number of 4,600 people—or, if we give the full value of the business premises vote and make the number somewhere about 13,000—justifies the creation of a separate constituency for this one borough. We feel that it is appropriate that the electors here should be joined with some other electorates which will justify the return of a single Member of Parliament. In the Bill we propose that they should be associated with the boroughs of Shoreditch and Finsbury. I gathered from the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Shoreditch (Mr. Thurtle) on the Second Reading that he was not at all sure that his constituents would welcome the accession to their ranks of the electors of the City of London. If the feeling is mutual, we shall be quite prepared to consider any representations made to us by the appropriate people in the City of London in regard to any other association they would prefer, rather than that of the two boroughs with whom they are at present associated, it being understood, of course, that the persons with whom they are associated also express their willingness for some alteration to be made.
There is a very ancient connection—and, if tradition is to be the sole guide in this matter, it is a tradition which might well be thought of—between the City of London and Southwark. I do not know whether that would be more acceptable to the City than the present suggestion. They also adjoin the City of Westminster, which is now joined with the Metropolitan Borough of Chelsea and given two representatives. It may be that the City of London would prefer that some arrangement could be made whereby, in association with part of the City of Westminster, they could return a single Member to this House. We shall be quite willing to consider anything that the appropriate authorities may desire to bring to our notice in that matter, for we have no desire to force an unwilling partnership between the City, Shoreditch and Finsbury, if a more suitable arrangement for all concerned can be found.
This is not the first of our ancient communities which, in the course of years, has had to accept the position that a falling population involves the loss of separate Parliamentary representation. The Act of 1884, which was first used at the General Election of 1885, was the last Act which placed the historic continuity above the requirements of the number of electors, and it preserved, as separate Parliament boroughs, such small places as Canterbury and Winchester. After all, Winchester was the capital of England before London made claim to that distinction, which I understand is furiously contested by the hon. Member for Twickenham (Mr. Keeling) who holds that the City of Westminster is the capital of the country—[Interruption.]—not even Tagg's Island, as we were reminded the other day.
This is, therefore, not a unique position which we are asking the Committee to adopt. We have to live in the circumstances of today. We have been continually urged by hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite to do something to get nearer "one vote, one value." It is quite clear that if we create in the Bill the City of London as a separate constituency with the electorate proposed, we should outrage that proposition. If we were to adopt, by some machinery not yet invented, the proposal of the junior Member for the City of London, and were to admit to the franchise, if they so desired, all the half million people who come into the City, I do not know whether he would then be content with two Members for the half million, or whether we should then have to construct some completely novel representation for the City of London, giving it a Member or Members appropriate to that electorate, and thus do something to keep as near to "one vote, one value" as we have managed to reach in the present Bill.
The difficulty is that from time to time the number who opted might vary, and the permanent Boundary Commission would have to keep one eye towards all this possible floating vote in the City of London in order to ascertain that it had appropriate representation. If anything like half the half million exercised the option, it would create a series of great difficulties in all the suburban areas around London, and would also involve constant review of their electorates.
There is no excuse for this suggestion of a fancy franchise. If we gave it to London, I am quite certain that we should have to give it to a large number of other commercial and industrial centres in the country, where similar claims could quite well be put forward. I venture to suggest, that the Committee should accept the view which the Government have placed before it, that the time has come when the City of London should be joined with some neighbouring borough in an effort to ensure that continued representation shall be afforded to those who live in the City of London, and that those who work there and live elsewhere should vote in the constituencies in which they live as they do now, where they undoubtedly exercise considerable influence, and where their association with the City of London is often the means of uniting them in the community in which they dwell.
There can be no justification for giving the 4,600 people separate representation in this House, and I do not believe that the financial prestige of the City of London and its esteem in other countries depend on the accident of whether it is represented in this House by one Member, by two Members or by a Member in association with some adjoining area. I therefore ask the Committee to reject the Amendment.
The Home Secretary has today shown no sense of sentiment, of historical interests or even of tradition, all of which are held dear by Members on the other side of the Committee as well as on this. What is worse is that when a really sound case has been made out by my right hon. Friend the Member for the City of London (Mr. Assheton), who has shown us the importance of the City and has suggested a very feasible scheme for ensuring that its people are represented—even then the Home Secretary has given us no compromise whatever, except the offer to tag on the City of London to some other constituency. The right hon. Gentleman had a very rough passage in his speech last night, and I believe that that was because he was worried about it. He did not seem easy when he was making that speech, and we had great hopes of him today. We thought he might be able to offer us something, but our hopes have been dashed to the ground.
I support the Amendment, not because of sentiment or tradition, but because of the benefit which we would have in this House by having a representative from the City of London sitting on our benches. That value may be more appreciated this afternoon now that the Committee have heard the forthright speech of the junior Member for the City of London (Mr. Assheton). I, for my part, will leave out the sentimental side of the question, and try to impress on the Committee that the whole world revolves around the City of London. It is there that news, views and ideas come in from all corners of the globe—the Colonies, the Empire, and all the distant parts of the world. It is there that the news, views and ideas are turned over in the minds of City merchants, where discussions take place, and it is there that the Member for the City of London mixes with those people, hears their ideas, and from what he hears is able to broaden his mind and to come back here greatly reinforced by what he has heard, and is able to give valuable ad vice to the Members of this honourable House.
The position of the City of London is unique. It has been built up on enterprise and on the ramifications it has all over the world. There is more at stake in that small area than is the case anywhere else. It has built up a great deal of wealth for this country in the past, and whether hon. Members opposite approve of wealth or not the City has helped this country by building up its wealth and industry. The prestige of the country has also been aided and the standard of living of many of the people has been improved by the enterprise of people who have hailed from the City of London. In that square mile there is probably more knowledge available than in thousands of square miles in other parts of this country. The Government bank there, and raise their loans there, and from there come the invisible exports, so vital at the present time. Hon. Members will remember that we lost our American Colonies many years ago on the cry of "No taxation without representation." Hon. Members may not be so familiar with the fact that one-sixth of the Income Tax of the whole country comes from the City of London. We lost our American Colonies; we do not want to lose the good will of the City of London. I know she is not going on strike, but why offend such an ancient place and a place which is thought so highly of throughout the world.
The Leader of the House has been quoted as saying that the City has a great place in the municipal history and a great place in Parliamentary history, and that he would be sorry to see it abolished. Any hon. Member is entitled to change his mind, but not to change his word. Why, if he changes his mind, does the right hon. Gentleman want to abolish both seats? Could he not compromise by leaving us even one seat? The Secretary of State for Scotland said there is a sentimental and traditional aspect of the City that it might be wise to respect. I am supporting this Amendment for a greater reason than that and not, as I have said, through sentimentality or tradition. I believe that the knowledge that can be brought to this House by the hon. Members for the City of London is of great assistance to this House and of great advantage to the City at the same time. Its continuance would be a help to all of us and would be of paramount importance, not only to hon. Members, but to the whole country.
I would like to associate myself with what has been said by hon. and right hon. Members on this side of the Committee, and, as a London Member, I would particularly like to associate myself with what has been said, both on the Second Reading and again today, with regard to the breach of faith that is being perpetrated by the Government on this occasion. I do not think that any arguments have been put forward, either on Second reading or today, to have caused us to amend our charge in any way whatever. I simply cannot understand how the Government can take this decision without the courtesy of calling another Speaker's Conference. Perhaps I may be allowed to quote what Lord Pethick-Lawrence said—I know it has been quoted before—in 1945, on 17th January:
What did the Speaker's Conference do? We looked at the party issue and we said, 'Cannot we come to some compromise that will go some way to meet one side and some way to meet the other?'"—[OFFICIAL, REPORT, 17th January, 1945; Vol. 407, C. 295.]
I have always thought that this Government is pretty thick-skinned, but when it comes to doing this without calling a Speaker's Conference, and in the face of a deputation to the Bar of this House from the Sheriffs of London, and also in view of the deputation to the Prime Minister by the Lord Mayor of London, the Governor of the Bank of England, the Chairman of Lloyds and other City personages, that has only strengthened my convictions.
As a London Member I would ask what correspondence other London Members have received on this subject, particularly hon. Members on the other side of the Committee. I have had correspondence from masters, prime wardens and liverymen of City companies and many freemen of the City of London. They represent, I think, a cross-section of independent minded people whose views were directed not in any political sense, but in an endeavour to maintain, not only what they consider to be right and proper, but the best value to this country. They are the people who work in the City and I think that their views should be respected. I was particularly interested in what the hon. Member for Taunton (Mr. Collins), himself a liveryman, has said on this connection. I shall be very interested to hear what experience either hon. Members have had in this connection.
In summarising what I consider to be the case for this Amendment apart from the obvious breach of faith, there is, firstly, the case of the sentiment and prestige of the City throughout the world. I do not think that they can be lightly cast aside, and they were rather lightly cast aside by the Home Secretary a few moments ago. The right hon. and gallant Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank) quoted the Lord President as saying in 1944 that he was a good Londoner and a student of the City's history. It would seem to me that the Lord President must now be a bad Londoner, and he must have conveniently forgotten the history that he said he knew then.
I think it was my right hon. Friend the junior Member for the City (Mr. Assheton) who made the point that the City of London does expect its Member to take a special interest in economics and finance, not to mention banking, commerce and insurance. I know that all hon. Members do, or should do, that to some extent, on behalf of their constituents, but it is a special duty of the Member for the City of London, especially if he is to understand the effect of the many intricate financial Clauses of many Bills that come before this House. He must make a special study of these subjects, and I am sure that hon. Members will agree when I say that many of these Clauses require considerable technical knowledge if their purport is fully to be understood. The Home Secretary said today that he did not see any reason why the City should be different. I think it is very hard to see any reason why the City should not be different. I ask the Government to think again on this subject, so that the ancient courtesies and customs of our administration may be maintained.
I have worked in the City of London for 37 years, and I am a business voter in it at the present time. Ever since this Bill first appeared, I have been saddened, because I could not understand why the Government wanted to dismember this very great constituency. The City of London is not only the capital of our own country, it is the capital of our Empire. It contains, as the junior Member for the City of London (Mr. Assheton) has said, not only banking houses and insurance and financial houses, but all the great commodity markets, the metal exchange, all the newspapers, periodicals and magazines, and the G.P.O.; and many other vital industries. There is Smithfield Market, the greatest meat market in the world, and Billingsgate Fish Market, the greatest fish market in the country—a market with which I have been associated for many years.
I am afraid I did not understand that interruption. I submit that this is a unique community. Even if all the other proposals in this Bill are right—and they may well be—this is the exception which proves the rule. I appeal to the Government to take special steps to see that all these vital trades in this very live community, the City of London, which exists today and has grown throughout the centuries from Roman times, are represented in this House. All these great industries about which we have been told, and of which I have a personal knowledge, are carried on in this one square mile which is their market place.
In my own small way I was connected with a fish business which in 1920 had a capital of £4,000. I resigned from it eight years ago when I became an inmate of this place. I had to make a speech on fish, then a second speech on fish, and I felt that I might be suspect in the eyes of my colleagues if I remained in the industry. Therefore, much to my financial disadvantage, I left it. But from this small beginning, and as a result of the energy and hard work of a number of men, with the assistance of London financial houses, the capital of that business has grown to somewhere in the neighbourhood of £1,500,000. The company built 46 modern trawlers a year or two before the war broke out. All of these with their crews were requisitioned for war service and, unfortunately, a large number of them were sunk. That is my own little experience. It is the experience of citizens throughout the ages—the combination between banking, insurance, industry, commerce and finance. I am sorry that the Government Front Bench has so few Ministers on it at the moment, because I think that the unique situation of the City of London is the kernel of the whole of the case.
The United States of America were faced with a problem in regard to their capital city, just as we are faced with a problem in regard to ours. They overcame it by adding to the 48 States, the district of Columbia which is the area in which the beautiful city of Washington stands. I suggest to hon. Members in all parts of the Committee that, quite irrespective of our party views, we owe something to this great City of London which has played such an outstanding part in our history at home and overseas. The Carolinas, Delaware, Virginia and possibly Massachusetts—although I am not sure of that—all had their roots in companies created in the City of London and owe their origin to merchant adventurers who went out from this City. In the City today we have the British India Steam Navigation Company, the P. & O., the New Zealand Shipping Company—historic names in the story of India and the East and New Zealand. There was the Donald Currie Line, now the Union Castle Line, which played a major part in building South Africa. All of them are in Leadenhall Street and thereabouts. Are the Government to deny to them representation in this House? That would be a sad step.
I was mortified when I heard the Home Secretary so brusquely put aside the suggestion made by the junior Member for the City of London that alternative voting might be permitted to those who work in the City, and that they should have the right to vote where they live or where they work. The Home Secretary was very sadly off the track when he deprecated that on two grounds. The first was the mechanical issue. He said that it just could not be done. That is nonsense. I cash my B. Us, in London, in Bexhill or Liverpool. If that can be done with complex rationing, surely once in a five-year period, or thereabouts, men and women can have the right to elect to vote either where they live or where they work. I ask the right hon. Gentleman to look at that suggestion again. His comparison of the City of London, the hub of our Empire, with Newcastle and the other side of the Tyne was a little unworthy. Surely, the City of London calls for special consideration.
My final thought which I should like to put to my colleagues is to suggest that it is worth consideration that we should retain the business vote for the City of London alone. I think that that merits consideration. There can be no mechanical difficulties about it. It would merely carry on something which has existed for a very long time. I put that to my colleagues in all parts of the Committee. Unlike the hon. Member who spoke from the Liberal National benches, I am fully convinced that the City never can become residential. That square mile is much too valuable for industry and commerce. It is too valuable to the country, as well as to those who run industry and commerce, for it ever to become residential. I think that the tendency will be for it to become less residential and even more sparsely occupied outside working hours and still a hive of activity during the day. For these reasons, I feel that very grave consideration should be given to this problem. I hope that the Committee will not act in any hasty fashion in coming to a decision which will destroy something which is so well worth while preserving in our life, in the life of the Empire and of the world.
We have heard much of the history of this great City of London. Much of that history with its effects on the lives of the people of this country, its constitution, and the whole growth of our Empire, was brought about at a time when London itself was not merely a place of commerce, but the living hub of this nation's commerce, in terms not merely of business, but of the lives of the people. People lived and had their being in the place. Just half a mile from where we are now, there were fields and commons. This London was a place in which both commerce and living equally played their part. Since that time London has grown and spread its tentacles until now we have not only a county of London with 4½ million people, but a greater London in which there are possibly eight million people around this hub and having their being because of this hub. Does that not mean that London has not ceased to be but rather has grown a hundred times from what it was? Does it not mean that in this modern generation it is represented by perhaps a hundred Members, representing the same general interests in this House that were represented formerly by two or three Members?
London as a great City had its opportunity only about half a century ago of taking part in this great spreading out. It had the opportunity of becoming not merely what it now is a relic of what it was, with a Lord Mayor and Corporation having no reality as far as the ordinary life of the Metropolis is concerned, but merely a means of hospitality and a show piece—but of becoming a real part of the organisation of municipal London. Always that opportunity was rejected. The reason why I speak now is not because I am a liveryman of the City or because I have any contact whatever with it, but because I happen to be the chairman of the Metropolitan Standing Joint Committee which represents the 28 Metropolitan boroughs and the City of London. In that capacity I say strongly that not at any time in the whole of my experience on that body has the City of London taken its proper part in relation to the rest of the Metropolis. On the contrary, on every occasion when it could take a selfish view, it has taken it. Even when the recent Local Government Bill was before this House, it had the opportunity of acquiescing with the rest of the London boroughs in order to bring financial benefit to them, but it refused to do so.
I will say, on behalf of that body which I represent, that, in fact, we do not agree that the City of London should have any representation at all, because we believe, with this Government, that representation should consist in terms of the counting of heads and not of the counting of money. It has been put forward from the benches opposite that, because of these great organisations which inhabit the City of London, which have great funds and which run great shipping lines, because the commerce of the country is centred in that city, because of all these facts, the City should have special representation. There are at least 100 hon. Members sitting on that side of the House who represent the City of London, and there are a few sitting on this side, too.
How can it be said that the Members for the City of London represent it in any special sense? They never have been people, in my experience, entitled to speak for it with special knowledge and authority. There are at least 100 hon. Members on that side of the House who, by their special knowledge of particular industries, can speak for the City of London, and who can speak with full authority upon what happens in the City of London. I claim that that representation of the City of London is quite sufficient. Moreover, I will say that I would myself lead hon. Members on this side of the House—certainly every Labour hon. Member—into that Lobby against the Government if they dared, at a time when they are denuding London's representation by almost one-third, to give to the City of London, with an electorate of 4,600, the opportunity of having its own Member.
I suggest that, if anybody wishes to see a member of the Municipal and General Workers' Union sitting here, with his top hat, on Budget Day, then he should ask that those 4,600 voters of the City of London should have a Member, because, undoubtedly, the caretakers will elect their own. I suggest that the real City in the modern sense should be the basis of representation; in other words, Holborn and Westminster, and the other areas into which the City offices have overflowed, are areas where they can get reasonable representation, but, there again, the popularity of the City is such that the City of Westminster would reject any such overture if its own identity were to be lost. At least I think so.
What it boils down to is this. The Opposition are asking the House to give them a special case, and they must give special reasons why in this case we should not accept the fundamentals in which we believe, which are that each man should have one vote and one say in the government of this country, and that, if any man has special knowledge, ability, education, character and integrity, that man can, by these very virtues, carry these matters into this place by his influence on others. Those are the only virtues which should give him a special position in the affairs of the community.
I am not going to follow the speech of the hon. Member for Gillingham (Mr. Binns), though I am grateful to him, and I am sure we all are on this side of the Committee, for having informed us regarding the views of his hon. Friends. The hon. Gentleman has no use at all for special qualifications. He said that he believed only in the counting of heads in the Division Lobby. The hon. Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. S. Silverman) says, "Hear, hear."
At any rate, he and his hon. Friends only believe in the counting of heads. They believe only in the election of hon. Members who will, go into the Lobby to support any proposal, iniquitous or good, which is sponsored by the Government Front Bench.
I am glad to have the opportunity of speaking in this Debate, as I am the first Member from Scotland who has had the opportunity of addressing the Committee. As my hon. Friend the Member for the Holland with Boston (Mr. Butcher) complained, the representation of Scotland and Wales is being left unimpaired, as far as numbers are concerned, by this Bill, so I am glad to have the opportunity of saying a word in support of the ancient City of London constituency. Although no hon. Member from Scotland has so far spoken, I was glad to hear my fellow-Scot the hon. Member for Streatham (Sir D. Robertson) reminding us of the importance of London from Roman times, though I suppose that would not make any appeal to the hon. Gentleman who has just addressed the Committee. Since Roman times, the City of London has indeed occupied a unique place in this country, and, since about 20 years after Simon de Montfort, it has been associated with Parliament. The City of London has sent hon. Members to this House varying in number from six to two, and now that constituency is to be allowed only one Member, if the Amendment is accepted.
I could not help reflecting that the Home Secretary seemed to be rather uncomfortable regarding this proposal, and his discomfort was shared earlier in the day by the hon. Member for Taunton (Mr. Collins), who tried to harrow our feelings by alluding to what took place on the night of the second Great Fire of London. He referred to the readiness with which help came from the adjacent boroughs of Shoreditch and Finsbury, and to the community of interest that should be established between these two boroughs and the old City of London constituency. I cannot altogether subscribe to that view. I feel very strongly about this, even more strongly than I feel about university representation. Although the universities have had their own representatives here since the days of James I of England—James VI of Scotland—the Members of the City of London go back some three centuries earlier than that.
On the question of the proposed amalgamation, the Home Secretary said that he was not wedded to the idea of Shore-ditch and Finsbury, but that, if those who were qualified to speak preferred amalgamation with some other London borough constituency, he was quite prepared to consider any points they might bring forward. The right hon. Gentleman mentioned Southwark and Westminster, and I was reminded of the speech by the hon. Gentleman for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) who, at the beginning of this Debate, expressed the hope that there would be no amalgamation between Westminster and and the City of London, because he did not consider that the type of elector in Westminster was likely to be a suitable partner for the elector of the City of London. I suppose they would not be democratic enough, but my hon. Friend the Member for the Abbey Division of Westminster (Sir H. Webbe) will probably be speaking about Westminster later in the Debate. From the historical point of view, I am afraid the hon. Member has not been refreshing his memory to find out some of the men who came to this House through Westminster. What about Charles James Fox, Sir Francis Burdett and John Stuart Mill? I hope we shall not hear any more statements such as he made.
The Home Secretary, in replying to one of my hon. Friends, said he would not be a party to fancy franchises, and so he has made a somewhat lame attempt to dispose of the suggestion that, in this case alone, there might be considered the possibility of allowing the business vote in order to bring the electors of the City of London division up to the quantitative level which is now deemed to be necessary in these matters by the powers that be. I will make him a present of that, and, if the right hon. Gentleman is not prepared to consider what he calls "fancy franchises," I will be prepared, in this case of the City of London, to allow the electors there, perhaps only 5,000 in number, to constitute one electoral division, because, so far as I am concerned, I have laid my cards upon the table.
Surely, the Home Secretary, who is now in charge of the Debate, cannot fail to be interested; with his sound historical sense, he cannot fail to have been impressed by the pleas which are being put forward regarding the special treatment that should be meted out to this constituency. I would say, in passing, that I was very disappointed to hear the Home Secretary re-echo what was said, I think by the hon. Member for Hornchurch, about the way in which some Members for the City of London had discharged their duties in this House. He called attention to their poor Division record. Of course, the hon. Member for Gillingham indicated that that is the only criterion exercised by right hon. and hon. Members opposite. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] He implied it.
The Home Secretary criticised the right hon. Gentleman the senior Member for the City of London (Sir A. Duncan) in that respect, and the same right hon. Gentleman was also criticised by the hon. Member for Hornchurch. If I am in error, I will at once withdraw that remark, so far as the Home Secretary is concerned.
The Division record is a very poor way indeed of trying to assess the value of any hon. Member in this House, on whatever side he may sit. I would point out that speakers on the Government side are in no position, living as they do in glasshouses, to throw stones in this matter. If an accurate analysis were to be taken of the Division record of hon. Members opposite, perhaps they would not be so ready to trot out the kind of remarks made by the hon. Member for Hornchurch this afternoon.
I see opposite me at this very moment one of the two Members who sit for Fermanagh and Tyrone, and who for 10 years did not attend this House because they did not agree with the then Government. I believe it was the colleague of the hon. Member for Fermanagh and Tyrone (Mr. Mulvey) now present in the Chamber who said——
I was endeavouring to deal with the point made by the hon. Member for Hornchurch concerning the attendance of the hon. Members for the City of London in this House, and I was pointing out that such remarks came ill from hon. Gentlemen opposite when one considers their own Division records. I was about to say——
For 10 years, two hon. Members of this House absented themselves from attendance here. So far as I am aware, that has never been done by any Member elected to represent the City of London. Supposing my right hon. Friend the junior Member for the City of London (Mr. Assheton), who is now in his place on the Front Bench, were to say, "I am not coming to this Parliament simply because I do not like His Majesty's present advisers," would it be assumed that he was loyally carrying out his duties to those who sent him here? Certainly not. I sincerely hope that when the Under-Secretary of State reports to his chief what has been said in this Debate, his chief, who has been responsible for piloting this Bill through the Committee stage, will be impressed with the suggestion that, on this occasion, he should make a concession, even if the Government ruthlessly turn down the university representation. The Government have no mandate for this Bill, and no mandate for taking away the university representation, and they certainly have no mandate for taking away the City of London representation.
I realise that I may be in the position of Abraham pleading for Lot, in pleading for the 4,000 or 5,000 people who dwell within the confines of the old City of London constituency. But I am not ashamed to do that, and, if this Amendment is not accepted, I shall have very great pleasure in supporting it in the Division Lobby against the Government who know what is right, but are doing what is wrong.
The hon. Member for Galloway (Mr. McKie) has succeeded in clouding the issue with so many irrelevancies that I do not propose to follow him in detail in what he said to the Committeee. However, I feel I must refer to one or two of his misrepresentations which have drawn hon. Members on this side of the Committee to their feet. He was kind enough to advise me that he would not leave the Chamber immediately he sat down, but would stay to listen to what I had to say.
I refer specifically to his reference to the absence from this House of the right hon. Gentleman the senior Member for the City of London (Sir A. Duncan). That matter has been referred to, not only by him, but by other hon. Members of the Committee. If any implication was made, may I say, with great respect that I think the main implication came from the right hon. Gentleman the junior Member for the City of London (Mr. Assheton), who, immediately after he had referred to statements made by hon. Members on this side of the Committee, said that he did attend quite regularly and was most assiduous in his duties——
I also referred to the unfortunate fact that my right hon. Friend the senior Member for the City of London was in hospital, and that he has been there for a considerable time.
I am sure the right hon. Gentleman is aware that I knew that the absence today of the right hon. Gentleman the senior Member for the City of London was due to illness. I have a great respect for him, having worked for him during the war, but I did wish to point out that the reference to his absence by other Members of the Committee was not in respect of today, but of other occasions when hon. Members thought he might have been present.
It seems to me that the issue before the Committee can be divided into two separate parts. Hon. Members opposite claim that the City should have special consideration because it is a constituency of a special character. At least, that was one of the claims put forward by some of the Members opposite. In that respect, I yield to no one in my admiration for the institutions of the City of London. I have a close connection with the City, and, in common with other hon. Members of this Committee, I am a freeman and a liveryman of the City, a fact of which I am justly proud. I appreciate too that the City is the focal point of our invisible exports; it is the seat of our commercial activity, of our great banking institutions, and is the centre of our world wide shipping and insurance business. That, I think, is generally accepted. It is somewhat unfair of hon. Members opposite, in particular the hon. Member for Torquay (Mr. C. Williams), to suggest that he detected a leer on the faces of hon. Members on this side of the Committee when they referred to the City, and for him to say that they assume that the City is a bad thing.
That is not the point at issue at the moment. I maintain that the point made by my hon. Friend the Member for Gillingham (Mr. Binns) is the salient one on this particular issue. If the special consideration which entitled the City of London to separate representation was that, without it, City interests would have no voice in this House, I might feel that there was something in the argument. But, in point of fact, there are many hon. Members sitting on the opposite side of the Committee, as well as some on this side, who are quite competent to speak with authority, and with great specialist knowledge, on all the matters in respect of which the City is renowned, and I therefore feel that this argument also cannot be sustained.
I would remind the Committee that my hon. Friend the Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) made a very important point which the hon. Member for Galloway took great care to omit in his speech, although he referred to many other matters in my hon. Friend's speech. It was what my hon. Friend said in respect of this particular breach of faith to, which so many hon. Members opposite have addressed their remarks. I would impress on the Committee that I should be the first to agree with these hon. Members if I thought there had been any such breach of faith by those right hon. Gentlemen who now constitute His Majesty's Government. The matter was resolved for me by the intervention of the right hon. and gallant Member for Gains-borough (Captain Crookshank), when it was argued from this side of the Committee that this alleged agreement, should not only continue for this Parliament—if the reasoning from the other side of the Committee was sound—but that it should apply to succeeding Parliaments. The right hon. and gallant Member for Gains-borough was asked what he would suggest in those circumstances, and he intervened to say that before any constitutional change of that kind could take place in his view there should be another Speaker's Conference.
The point which I would emphasise is the one made by the hon. Member for Hornchurch, who quite specifically proved to the Committee that in 1928, a precedent was created by the refusal of a former Speaker to preside over such a conference. The former Speaker made it quite clear that outside any Coalition or any periods when the parties existed on the basis of common agreement for common action, he did not think it was right and proper for him to do so. In those circumstances, this allegation that there has been a breach of faith cannot be sustained.
May I say, finally, that if it were possible to retain the City of London as a separate constituency, with no plural vote and with the extinction of the business vote, I should be in favour of it, but in point of fact I think what is happening in this Committee is that hon. Members opposite are confusing the corporate life of the City with its representation in this House. Can it be suggested that, as a result of this Clause in the Bill, the corporate life of the City would be extinguished? Can it be suggested that the City of London would lose its prestige in any way? Can it be suggested that the City of London cannot exercise the same functions as those it has exercised previously?
The Opposition claims and, in my view, they may be regarded as strong claims, are in the main based on tradition and not on the basis that, should the City of London no longer have separate representation in this House, its prestige will be affected. I maintain that the corporate life of the City and its manifold activities will continue in precisely the same way as before, and I maintain that the fact that there will no longer be separate representation in this House will make no difference whatsoever to the standing of the City of London as the capital city of this country and the capital city of the Empire. In those circumstances, I hope hon. Gentlemen opposite will be reasonable and will realise that a dual vote and a business vote can no longer be sustained in modern times, when we are tending towards a much more progressive approach to anachronisms which have existed for so long in the name of tradition, and which for this reason probably have been retained longer than they should have been.
The hon. Member for Bolton (Mr. J. Lewis) will perhaps forgive me if I say I was not—nor do I think most of my hon. Friends will have been—wholly convinced by his exposition as to what he regarded as the constitutional position, either from the point of view of the separate representation of the City of London or on the question on which he also touched at the end of his speech, of the business vote. The reasons which lead us to support this Amendment are really of two main kinds and, as I see it, those reasons have never really been adequately answered from the Front Bench opposite.
First of all, we are disturbed about the method of forcing these proposals through at the present time, from the constitutional aspect. We believe there has been a breach of faith. Although a great deal has been said upon that matter, which I do not desire to repeat, I must say this: I was not, of course, a member of the Speaker's Conference in the last Parliament, but I was a Member of this House and, as a Member of my party, I wag one of a number who were consulted as to the kind of view which our representatives at the Speaker's Conference could properly put forward.
I can well remember the attitude of mind with which we approached that problem. Our attitude of mind was this, and I think it is one which it would be proper for any great majority to bear in mind when they come to handling constitutional matters. Our attitude was that we, the Conservative Party in this House of Commons, had a great majority which would have enabled us to command any constitutional changes which we desired to put into force. We would not choose to do so, however, not simply because of the wartime comradeship of the Coalition but because we thought it would be in itself a misuse of power; because we thought that the fact that we had a great majority was an insufficient excuse to justify us in behaving shabbily to our opponents in a matter of this kind.
We therefore sought to instruct our representatives on the Speaker's Conference to make concessions on a reasonable basis, and on a basis that concessions would be given on the other side. We certainly had no idea, when those concessions were given and taken, that the mere fact that the balance of power would be altered in a succeeding Parliament would deprive the arrangement of its validity, and I must say, having heard the explanations of the Ministers since this became a matter of controversy, and having read the statements of the Labour Members of the Coalition Cabinet at that time, both before and since it became a matter of controversy, I am more than ever reinforced in the view that there was an honourable bargain, honourably arrived at, and that to depart from it now is a breach of faith by those who made it.
I am not in the least impressed, if I may say so, by the argument which is put forward in extenuation of what I regard as a breach of faith—that a Parliament, or hon. Members of it, cannot bind its successors. Of course, as a legal proposition that is unexceptionable. If there were legal means of enforcing political bargains, there would be no need of political bargains. The whole point is this: statesmanship in this country is based on two strong pillars—principle and personal honour; and the party which wants to support, as its leaders, men who are worthy to occupy a great position in this country ought to be as jealous of the personal honour of those leaders as they are themselves.
When we are told by the Lord President, or by the hon. Member for Gillingham (Mr. Binns), who made a speech some little time ago from the benches opposite, that if the Labour Ministers who had given their words to what we regard as an honourable bargain, had attempted to carry it out, their own back-benchers would have turned against them, I can only say that is the most ghastly reflection upon the political honour of the Labour Party that I have ever heard. I can say this, at any rate, for the party of which I am a Member—if we were told, as we have been told from time to time, by a responsible leader of our party that he had given his word to the opposite party in a matter of that kind and regarded himself as honourably bound by it, I have no doubt whatever that the Conservative Party as a whole would desire him to keep his bargain. If the matter were something which the Conservative Party regarded as a matter of principle, for which they could not depart, they would willingly accept his resignation from whatever office he held and respect him for resigning. If, on the other hand, they regarded it as a bargain which ought to be kept, they would back him, even against their own opinions, in keeping his word.
One of the first lessons I learnt in political life was illustrative of this particular principle of our constitution. When my father was first elected to the House of Commons in 1922 his maiden speech in the House was on the Bill which gave a separate identity to what was then called the Irish Free State. My father is an Ulsterman, and had been all his life a Unionist, and he regarded this particular Treaty, made by the Government which immediately preceded that to which he belonged, as something which was wholly wrong in principle; but because the previous Parliament had committed itself—its word—to this proposition, he felt it his duty, as his first act in the House, to propose the Second Reading of the Bill which, he explained at the outset, was wholly contrary to his own opinion.
I believe that that is the genuine principle of honour on which our constitution is based. I regard the departure of certain well-known Ministers from what I believe is the correct application of this principle as a very serious breach in our constitutional tradition—at any rate, so long as they retain their offices. I very much regret that the Labour Party have not found it possible to depart even from their own opinions in this matter, and to adopt a more reasonable and honourable attitude. I believe that in failing to do so they have lost very much more than they will ever gain; because if they had behaved in a forbearing and honourable way they would, I believe, have struck a chord of gratitude amongst those who differ from them which would have stood them in good stead in the hard times we have to face together.
It is not only a question of an honourable agreement which has been broken. I believe that the introduction of these particular proposals into this Bill represents a serious departure from the real principles upon which the power of the majority should be used in this country. I believe that constitutional change should be effected only in one of two ways: either the majority party proposing the change should go to the country for a mandate to do what they propose to do, or an attempt ought to be made between the majority party and the minority party to come to some honourable agreement as to what should be done. I do not think that there is a third course.
I do not believe that it is legitimate or desirable in matters of constitutional change for a party which enjoys a great majority, who did not choose to put their proposals in their election manifesto in order to be able to claim a mandate, to come, half way through the life of a Parliament, to ride roughshod over the rights of the other great party in the State. I should be as anxious to preserve the principle of honour in our constitutional affairs if I were sitting on that side of the Committee, as I am now that I sit on this side. It is simply not true, because a party has a majority, that they have the right to play dirty tricks on their opponents. I really do believe that the whole constitutional future of this or any Parliamentary country depends upon the modest use of the powers of the majority by those who possess them, in cases where they have not received a specific electoral mandate, and in cases where they have not attempted to come to terms with their opponents.
I do not think it is necessary to specify what particular machinery should be adopted, provided the consultations are effective. The two methods of approach consist in either going to the country to get a mandate or going to political opponents and making an honourable arrangement. What is not legitimate is to use power to effect constitutional change when there is not a mandate. It is inevitable that it will be said—as it is being said in this case, and, I believe, with perfect justification—that, when the Labour Party find it convenient to invoke a principle for their own electoral advantage they do it, but where they find it inconvenient to invoke the same principle they do rot do it. It is a mere pretence to say that these two Amendments which relate to the City of London and the business vote have anything to do with any principle whatever. The alleged principle is entirely a facade behind which cynical machinations of power politics are being carried out.
This leads me to a discussion of the principles upon which we ought to proceed in considering these Amendments. The Home Secretary sought to pretend that there was a principle behind this Bill. I shall discuss that in a moment. In the whole course of his speeches today and yesterday he seemed to me to be both shamefaced and uncomfortable. Although his performance today was slightly more convincing than his performance last night, I must say it seemed to me to be very present to his mind that, even if he was convinced that a principle was involved, he realised very clearly that rigid adherence to principle sometimes leads to great injustice and anomalous results. But, in point of fact, it is simply not true that a principle is involved in this Bill. The right hon. Gentleman sought to base his arguments upon a suggested principle, that all Parliamentary representation should be based upon "one man, one vote"; or, in other words, borrowed from a right hon. Friend of mine, "one vote, one value." But that is simply not the principle upon which this particular Bill is or could be based.
There are, in fact, two or three different principles of representation which are necessarily involved in any Representation of the People Bill. It is precisely at this point when we come to deal with the business vote, or the separate representation of a community like the City of London, or the communities which we were discussing last night—it is at this point at which these principles meet and have to be reconciled that the matter becomes of crucial importance. The truth is that the representation of the people by a General Election really involves the application of at least three principles, not inconsistent in all their respects, but which sometimes diverge.
The first, of course, is the election of a House of Commons broadly representative of the votes of the people. The logical application of that would be, from the mathematical point of view, to reduce the country to a single constituency and have party lists as they do on the Continent. In that way a completely mathematically accurate reflection of political opinion in the country could undoubtedly be obtained—to our infinite disaster: because the truth is that this is only one of the purposes for which we hold a General Election.
The second purpose is this. Quite apart from the first purpose, which is to elect a House of Commons representative of the individual opinions of the electorate, our second purpose is to elect a House of Commons which is representative of subordinate communities within the electorate. That, in fact, is applied in this Bill, and applied on a most extensive scale. Why is the representation given to Scotland by this Bill so much better than that given to England, or that given to Wales better than that given to England? Why is it that some constituencies are relatively small in the numbers of constituents while others are relatively large? In each case the principle involved is the same, namely, that, quite apart from the general purpose of electing a House of Commons, which is representative of individuals, it is sought to elect a House of Commons which is truly representative of living communities within the State. That is why different constituencies of different sizes are made. That is why a different basis of representation is given to Scotland and to Wales. That is why there is a different representation in Northern Ireland. The whole basis of this Bill—and, indeed, of the instructions which were given to the Boundary Commission—lies in the fact that this Committee has always recognised that subordinate communities ought to be given separate representation where they deserve it, quite independently of the question whether every vote within that community has the same value within the nation. It is precisely because that principle is applied that this Bill is even a tolerable proposition.
There is a third purpose which we have to consider in a General Election, namely, the election of a Government. That is why we do not adopt the principle——
I was doing so, but, with respect, Mr. Diamond, you have not allowed me to develop the third purpose, following the two with which I have already dealt. The third purpose involves the election of an effective Government, and it is for that reason that the principle of proportional representation is not accepted. The Home Secretary sought to pretend that his case against the business vote and against the separate representation of the City of London—indeed, he pretended last night that his case against university franchise was based on similar grounds—was based upon an alleged principle of the Labour Party, namely, "one man, one vote," which should be applied rigidly to the whole electoral system of this country. I have sought to point out that this is sheer nonsense; that it is not proposed to apply any such principle, and that if it were the proposal would meet with very little approbation from any source whatever.
The hon. Member has not quite accurately stated the position. I do not know of any way in which this Bill departs from the principle "one man, one vote." True, for reasons which the hon. Member has given, and for some others, we have not yet arrived at the working out of "one vote, one value"; but I do not think it can be fairly said that in this Bill we depart from "one man or one woman, one vote each."
I thought the right hon. Gentleman had agreed that the principle "one man, one vote" is meaningless unless it has attached to it the purpose of achieving "one vote, one value." Without that latter principle, I simple cannot understand what moral validity or advantage is derived from the principle "one man, one vote." Since the Home Secretary has challenged me, I must say that the whole introduction into this discussion of the phrase "one man, one vote" is nothing really but a specious red herring. That old principle, when first enunciated some years ago, was designed for the purpose of claiming representation for the disenfranchised, for people who were not, in fact, given one vote. It was the classical argument for manhood suffrage—and for womanhood suffrage, for that matter—which gave rise to that slogan in the first place, and it was not, primarily at any rate, a protest against plural voting.
I must carry this argument a stage further. Apparently the Home Secretary has now changed his ground; he is abandoning the principle "one vote, one value," and at last he seeks to base his argument upon the different and, by itself, meaningless principle "one man, one vote." But the principle "one man, one vote" is not here in issue; we are discussing not whether there should be plural voting, but whether there should be a business vote and whether there should be a separate constituency for the City of London. At the moment I am not arguing that there is any advantage in plural voting; nor, I suppose, should I be permitted to do so were I to attempt it.
What I am suggesting is that there is every reason, in principle, why there should be a business franchise and separate representation for the City of London. I am bound to add—I think I can do this within the rules of Order—that I am not in the least impressed by the fear that there might be a few plural votes cast if that representation were given. I have never yet come across any instance in any election, in this or in any other country, when anyone has ever suggested that the result has been altered in the slightest possible degree by the casting of a few additional votes—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh!"]—additional votes by one or two people in different constituencies, except, of course, in cases where it has been done dishonestly against the law, on an intensive scale.
In the few minutes remaining to me I wish to pay a little attention to the business vote, because it seems to me that the Government have failed to understand that the principle they ought to apply to this case is, not only the principle of the representation, of individual opinion, but the principle of the adequate representation of subordinate communities. I believe that their failure to apply that principle has led them into precisely the error which they have committed. I wish to draw attention to a most important factor in the representation of the people, from the point of view of the business vote. It is absolutely vital, not so much that at a General Election a particular elector should exercise his vote, even where he has it, but that a man should be entitled to come to a Member of Parliament and to say, on a matter vitally affecting his interests, "You are my Member of Parliament and I ask you to take up this matter for me." The actual casting of the vote is an indispensable part of the electoral machinery; but the relationship between constituent and Member is one of the essential features of our Constitution, and it is that relationship at which these proposals are ultimately aimed.
Let me give an example from my own constituency—an example which must be capable of multiplication in every urban constituency in the country. For my majority I do not depend, and have never depended, upon business votes. There are about 250 persons in the constituency who, if they chose to do so, could qualify for a separate business vote; and at the last Election I believe that 25 persons actually so qualified. I do not know whether they all voted; and if they did I do not suppose for an instant that they all voted for me. The situation is that in Oxford, like many other towns, there are many people whose whole livelihood and business interest depends upon the City of Oxford—upon its thriving, its separate position, its planning, its representation in the House of Commons, and its relationship with the Administration.
Those people may live some miles away, but, none the less, in all their relations with the Government, and in all the matters which vitally affect their interests, they want to come to me, not because they, think I am a better Member than those who happen to represent North or South Oxfordshire, or South Berkshire, but because I represent the City of Oxford: they are Oxford citizens, and they come to me, not because they want to regard me as their Member, not because they want to exercise their vote to ensure a Tory instead of a Socialist representative, but because they want to be able to say to the Oxford City Member, whoever he is, "You are my Member of Parliament," and not to have to go to a person whose whole position in Parliament depends upon the representation of interests of all kinds of persons with widely divergent interests from their own. It is precisely at these sort of persons that the present proposals are aimed, and it is precisely to meet that sort of case that these Amendments are proposed.
I do not myself believe that the representation of a single scat in this House would be altered, except perhaps for the City of London, by the business voter's right to register in his business community. It is said that we do not want people to vote twice at a General Election. I myself do not attach, for the reasons I have given, all the importance which hon. Members opposite do to that, because I do not believe that it has ever affected a single result in the whole country. But, all elections are not General Elections; there are such things as by-elections. I cannot for the life of me see why, if a person happens for other reasons to have within a particular constituency a qualification which he ought to have, he should be debarred from voting in a by-election in favour of a candidate he wants, simply because he was driven at a General Election to opt between that qualification and another. It appears to me that that is logic run mad.
This leads me to the position of the City of London. It is, of course, true that the separate representation of the City of London on anything like its present basis depends on the preservation of the business vote. Some kind of amalgamation would almost certainly be necessary if that were taken away. If we apply the principle I have sought to suggest as a valid principle of our constitution—and it has its application even in this Bill proposed by the Government—that is, the principle of adequate separate representation of subordinate communities, then it seems to me that the case for the separate representation for the City of London is overwhelming. There is a body of men and women in this area who, whatever we may think about them, are a separate subordinate local community. It is true that they do not happen to sleep there, and in that respect they are practically unique, although the Home Secretary may have it, if he likes, that there are other towns in the country where the dormitory element is outside; nevertheless, the City of London in that respect is unique. It is a great local community with a population during the day which would otherwise be considered worthy of separate representation, quite apart from its historical traditions. It is to be denied separate representation in this House, not for any intrinsic reasons of its unworthiness, but because of the accident of modern civilisation, whereby those who live and work there do not happen to sleep there. To attempt to apply a principle, which never had universal validity, universally over our electoral system, can lead to nothing but anomalies.
I only want to add this: that our great Parliamentary life has not developed solely by the rigid and legalistic application of mathematical principles, but it has sought to adapt itself to the living, continuous traditions of a vigorous and vital community; it has sought to get the substance of what was required by applying principles, not universally but generally, and by demanding always exceptions where exceptions were required. By attempting to apply a principle in this case which can, on the showing of the Bill itself, have no universal application in the country, the right hon. Gentleman is illustrating that there is only one principle which this Government have observed from its inception to the present moment, and that is the advantage and expediency of the Labour Party.
I shall not attempt to follow the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg) in his closely reasoned argument on principles on which the Bill should have been framed. I was in considerable sympathy, however, with the last part of his speech. Like him, I do not think the City of London has been extinguished by the centuries or by Hitler's bombs. I still think it is a living, throbbing and thriving entity. I am not against the Government so far as the figures are concerned, but I view the departure of the City of London representation from this House with the very deepest regret. I always think that in Debates like this I am some kind of a political schizophrenic. I always have some nostalgia which forces me by instinct into some wretched Conservative traditional backwater. I try by my intelligence to overcome that as far as I can, but in this sort of case, I feel that I must say a word in defence of tradition. Perhaps the fact that I was for many years a teacher of history has something to do with it.
I know it is a long time since Charles I had to deal with the trained bands of London. Nevertheless, the great historical association of the City of London with this House, in the fight for the liberty of this House, still means something to us. We cannot forget it. Although it is true that the fight for liberty has passed on to a different plane, we should still like to feel that the City of London had that revolutionary fervour, and that in every Debate in this House its representatives would spring to their feet to fight for the things for which those of us who believe in liberty are fighting.
There is another point of view which has a great appeal to me. My own constituency of Epping is very closely associated with the City of London, and we owe a debt of gratitude to the City of London for the way in which it has looked after our noble forest. I do not say it would have been neglected if the City of London had not had representation in this House; nevertheless, it kindles a little warmth in my breast which would otherwise not be there. I know many of the liverymen; freemen of the City of London and jurors who live in the great houses in my constituency have attempted to influence me with offers that if I will support them, they will take their votes away from Epping and use their business qualifications. Of course, that appeals to me tremendously. I should make no complaint about that whatever; I should not feel it to be a personal affront in any way if they did take their votes away from the Epping Division. But it is not because of that offer or promise that I must say that I would have been very glad if the Government could have found a way out of this dilemma. I do not know whether it is possible along the lines already suggested but I would have been glad if it had been possible to consider the alternative use of the business vote in some way. I deeply regret the severing of the long and honourable connection between this House and the City of London. Although I am bound to support the Government if they feel that this is a principle to which they must adhere, I shall do so with regret and the wish that it was possible to find a way out of this dilemma.
I think that with the exception of the speech of the hon. Lady the Member for Epping (Mrs. Manning) there has been a motive in the speech of every Member who has spoken from the opposite side of the Committee. Before I leave what the hon. Lady said, may I give her a piece of advice from one who is very much older than she is, namely, that she should follow her instincts, and not always her brains. "Honour the heart, and not the head." If she does that which is right she will be able to come over here and counter-balance me on this side of the House.
What has run through the speech of every Member opposite, including the Home Secretary, has been something quite different from what has appeared. It was not logic at all; the logic behind this Bill has been destroyed by so many of my right hon. and hon. Friends on this side of the Committee. The Government have gone to a most curious source for their Parliamentary logic on this occasion—to Mr. Jorrocks. All they can really say is, "Where I dines I sleeps, and where I sleeps I votes." There is nothing more in it than that. What is the motive which is so strong in their minds that it puts them into the embarrassing position of having gone back on their given word at the Speaker's Conference? I have watched carefully the faces of Members opposite during this Debate, and I have noticed that they have reflected great discomfort. What is the motive that is so strong that it impels them to put all that aside, and to come forward and vote the City of London out of this House? It is the motive of revenge. They are saying to themselves, "At last, we are able to do what we have longed to do for decades—to get at the rich City." The Government's true leader in this matter is not the Home Secretary; it is the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) who, time and again, has shouted to us from the other side of the House, "Robbers in the City."
I want, however, to put my plea on a quite different ground. We have often heard the phrase "over-privilege" and "under-privilege." That presupposes that at some point between these two there is a correct privilege. This is the occasion on which the City of London is entitled to enclaim that it has a correct privilege, that it is entitled to a unique privilege of representation in this House in a way quite different from anywhere else. I have not the slightest doubt that, if the Government accept that, they will find a way out of the dilemma. Love will find a way—and the Home Secretary is a very fine example of love. He has a very kind heart. He will find a way whereby the City of London can be represented. All the arguments which the right hon. Gentleman put up and knocked down, all the criticisms he made of our arguments from this side, mean nothing. They were merely another manifestation of that spirit of revenge, the desire to say, "We have killed the City." That is one of the bad inheritances of Members on the other side of the Committee.
The word "privilege" is regarded as having a bad meaning, but I would remind the Committee that St. Paul himself was content to claim, on occasion, his Roman citizenship as something to be proud of, and as something entirely compatible with his other functions. The City of London, in the minds of a great many people, brings out a picture which is entirely incorrect. I want to describe one part of the City of London which is not usually thought of when the City is mentioned. Too often it is the financial side, which is highly important, and against which I am saying nothing—the banks, the Stock Exchange, insurance companies, and the like. All that is of the greatest value to the country, but we should realise the strength which the City draws from its waterside. It is the waterside, and everything that springs from it, that is most significant. It was the origin of the greatness of the City, and remains the chief source of its strength today.
I have been engaged in the City of London for 25 years, dealing in commodities and raw materials. I have been the chairman of one of the biggest commodity exchanges, and I have infinite knowledge of what that means to this country today and in the very near future. It is no use Members opposite, like the hon. Member for Bolton (Mr. J. Lewis), saying that that will not be affected if the City is disfranchised. It most certainly will. At this moment, when we have to repeat, over the next few decades, the building up of our outside assets, when we hear the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Prime Minister, and every responsible Minister on the Front Bench telling us that we must export, that we must close the gap, when we must recreate overseas, possibly in a new form, the partnership between the Government and private enterprise, when we must try to build up the £3,600 million outside assets which saved us in the last war, how shall we do it if the City is denigrated and pulled down in the eyes of the rest of the world by being ruthlessly disfranchised for no good reason?
Walk through the wharves of the City with eyes and nostrils wide open; smell the spices, fibres and wool, all the things which come to London, because London is the great entrepôt, not only for this country but for Europe. Realise that this is our true inheritance of the merchants of Venice, with whom there was a community of interest between the sons of men who were financing ventures of which nothing was heard for two or three years. Realise that from this small square mile sprang the advantage to this country of opening up, throughout the world, communities which today look to London with gratitude. Look at the integrity, credit and high standing of the City of London, realise what it means, and what will be thrown away.
The word "goodwill" is used in balance sheets and in conversation to indicate the invisible path which people tread towards a person or firm whom they know to be of high integrity, and who will carry out their business well and on a fair bargaining basis. If a bulldozer is made to uproot that path, and stop the representation of that community, and persuade people in other countries, who are waiting jealously to take away from us the entrepôt trade of the City of London, that is doing, on flimsy grounds, a harmful act. At the moment this country can ill support such a jealous and stupid act. As one who has dealt in the City of London for many years I know that such questions as arose today about the Speaker's Conference, as to whether a given word was as good as a written word, do not exist. Day by day there are carried out, in the tradition of the City, by word of mouth, contracts of every conceivable sort, which are absolutely certain to be carried through in a proper spirit. Not one in 10,000 bargains carried out in the commodity exchanges in the City, many of which, fortunately, still remain with us, are ever brought into question or even go to arbitration. We are told that in the next two or three years there will come a time of surplus in commodities. At that moment, the City of London will be up against the greatest test in its history, Then we shall know whether the City of London, by the power of its traditions and high standing, although financially weakened, will be able to hold the vital position of the world's greatest market, the position of honest broker throughout the world, as one of our greatest assets.
I represent a Lancashire industrial constituency. I preach to the people there as also to this Committee that it is the invisible exports based on the integrity of the City of London—which are being crushed by the present Government and hampered by this attempt to disfranchise —which can, if properly handled, still provide enormous revenue without drawing on the pool of skilled industrial labour. There is the greatest opportunity that will ever present itself to this country. I can assure the Home Secretary from my experience of New York, Paris, and other countries that if the world is shown that the City of London is disfranchised on the flimsiest possible ground, that will be a body-blow to the City which it will find difficult to bear.
There is a great deal of agreement on this Bill. It might become the Government, the Home Secretary, and the Leader of the House if they were to make it quite clear, that this is an exception; if they were to say, "We will either form a sub-committee or find a way to enfranchise the City of London not only on its past tradition but also because that is a necessary act in helping our economic recovery." If that were to be done, if it were made clear that it was an exception and not the rule, and if instead of descending into the niceties of logical debate about "one man, one vote," and "one vote, one value"—all of which may be all right—they were to say, "One City of London, one greater glory of this country, one enormous asset that can be replaced by nothing else" we should be doing the right thing and it would have support from both sides of the Committee.
I listened with great interest to the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg) speaking in justification of the business premises vote and the status quo for the City of London. He put forward a powerful argument, in some respects, for the retention of the rights of owners of business premises in the City of London to retain their vote in the place where their business is located, in addition to their vote in the place where they live. The argument he made was briefly that their life interest and the welfare of their own community was centred in a particular locality and, therefore, they were entitled to an additional vote on that account. There was, however, a great omission in what he said. It is doubtful whether these business premises can exist or continue to function but for the fact that large numbers of workpeople have to carry on their daily occupations in such business premises.
In the City of London there are thousands of people who have to carry on the work of the City and whose labour is necessary for the life of the City, including the existence of business enterprises, but apparently the hon. Member for Oxford would not concede to them the principle for which he is asking for business men. I would say that if the business premises vote is to be conceded to the business men because of their business interests in a particular locality, the same principle should be conceded to the men and women who work in those businesses and whose labour is responsible for the businesses being able to carry on. There is no reason, in my view, for drawing that distinction between those who happen to be owners of business premises and those whose labour makes it possible for those business enterprises to be carried on. The mere fact that he suggests including one and excluding the other indicates the partiality of his argument. It would be impossible in principle to accept that persons who work in a constituency should also be entitled to vote in that constituency as well as to vote in the places where they reside.
I represent a constituency which contains about 500 factories, large and small, and each day some 15,000 workpeople come into my constituency. When they have finished their job, they go out of it to sleep. If there is a case for the business premises vote, why should not these 15,000 workpeople, whose livelihood depends on their employment in my constituency, and whose welfare and the welfare of their children and families is bound up in that employment, be allowed a second vote if we concede that principle to the owners of businesses? I submit that in this age we have no right to differentiate on a fundamental principle of that kind as between the person who happens to own the business and the person whose labour makes that business possible. Therefore, in fairness, I cannot see that the Home Secretary can do any other than establish the principle that one man should have one vote and that there should be no discrimination between those who happen to own business premises in a locality and those whose labour makes it possible for those enterprises to carry on. I cannot follow the logic of the hon. Gentleman's argument when he inferred that unless a businessman had a vote where his business is he would not go to the Member of Parliament for the constituency in which his business was located because he had not got a vote.
I cannot conceive any Member of Parliament being unconcerned about the affairs of his own constituency and the employment of his own people. I cannot conceive any Member of this House refusing to take any interest in the welfare of his own constituency just because the owner of that enterprise or the businessman in that area did not vote in that particular locality.
I would say that it is the duty of a Member of Parliament to look after the interests of his constituents, whether businessmen or not. It is perfectly obvious that every Member of this House would adopt that attitude in relation to the interests and welfare of his own constituency. I think that the argument was to some extent fallacious—to deduce that by withdrawing the business premises vote the businessman would not like to go to his Member of Parliament about any matter affecting him.
I should like to say, in conclusion, that I hope the Home Secretary will adhere very rigidly to this principle. It is a principle with which those of us on this side of the Committee have been concerned not this last year or two, but for a very long time because of the partial way in which the business premises vote operates. There has been no recognition of the ordinary rights of the ordinary work-people who maintain and keep these businesses alive and active. Therefore, there is no fair principle to which we can adhere in this matter and we should now stand for the principle of "one vote, one person," that vote to be where the person resides, at the same time knowing full well that any Member of this House, irrespective of whether a person had a vote in his constituency, or not, would know it was his duty to look after the interests of his constituents, and the business enterprises, welfare and livelihood of his constituency. Upon that basis no one will ever suffer from any injustice.
During a great deal of yesterday's Debate, and throughout the Debate today, I found myself in a position of some difficulty. Whenever an argument was turned upon the merits I found myself disagreeing, as I am about to disagree with the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg), in the arguments advanced against the Bill. Yet, at the same time, I remain far from satisfied that what we are doing in this Bill is the right thing. What I mean to say is that, in my opinion, we ought not to be concerned with the merits of representation for the City of London, any more than yesterday we should have been concerned with the merits of university representation. That, in my opinion, is not the real issue before the House. The real issue is—ought we, at a given point of time, in a given set of circumstances, and against a particular background, take away university or City of London representation? I conclude we ought not to, and I will very shortly give my reasons for so saying.
In the meantime, we must dismiss the romantic overstatement and unfounded arguments advanced tonight by the hon. Member for Oxford. He said, amongst other arguments, that the Bill was valueless because, while asserting the principle of "one man, one vote," it did not achieve or attempt to achieve the principle of "one vote, one value." That is perfectly true, and it is equally irrelevant. If it means anything at all, it means that we should never do anything to ameliorate existing conditions unless we can put it completely right at one go.
The hon. Gentleman for Rugby (Mr. W. J. Brown) did not realise the point. I did not, in fact, say that this Bill is valueless. On the contrary, I pointed out that its value resided in the fact that it did not attempt to do that very thing, but that it did attempt to apply another principle, representation of subordinate communities.
That was the argument I was next corning to, because the assumption underlying it that the House of Commons represents organised communities is as fallacious as the one I have just disposed of. If, in the 20th century, we were talking about representing communities in this House, our whole approach would be utterly different from what it has been on either side of the House in the detailed Debates on the Bill. We should want to discuss how the miners, the engineers, the cotton operatives, the Civil Service or any one of a dozen other categories, which are more closely integrated and more homogeneous in interests and outlook than any geographical constituency on the one hand, or the City of London, on the other, should be represented. I regard the second argument as being more in favour of a House of Commons composed on an entirely different basis from the present geographical constituencies.
I do not want to weary the Committee, but the argument of the hon. Member will be within the recollection of hon. Members, and they will agree with me that my reply is not wholly impertinent—in the wide sense of that word—or wholly inappropriate. He went on to advance the argument that particular individuals in Oxford, who have a business in Oxford, but who live outside the city, desire that he should be their Member, rather than that they should go to the Member representing the area in Berkshire or South Oxfordshire where they resided. If I were in the same boat I would make the same choice. As compared with the hon. Member for Oxford, the backwood and benighted Members for the rural areas around Oxford who accompany him to this House would not stand a chance, and I would gladly put my case in the hands of the hon. Member for Oxford. It would be the only time in my life when I should have secured the services of a skilled barrister for nothing whatsoever. That is a most powerful argument for choosing the Member for Oxford rather than a Member who represents a constituency nearby.
However, where does that argument lead to? They want to go to him because they are businessmen primarily, although they may live in North Oxfordshire. This is again the second argument, of which we have already disposed. It really resolves itself into argument that we should have representation in this House, not by geographical areas, but by categories and interests. If we are going to have that sort of discussion it takes us to the very root of the whole composition of the House of Commons. Then there was the argument about the fellow who might want to vote in a General Election on the basis of his residential qualification and on his business qualification in a by-election. If I may say so without being at all offensive, what a hog that man would be! He would want to vote in one constituency at a General Election in his residential right, and in another constituency in another by-election in his business right, so that he would exert two votes in an interval during which other people would only be enabled to exert one vote. Such a man would be an electoral hog!
I do not agree with the argument that a businessman needs more votes than his fellow because he has got a business. On the contrary, I should say the more businesses a man has got the more he can dispense with the Parliamentary vote. I was a little alarmed at the number of businesses which one hon. Gentleman opposite had. Political power may be economic power, but there is no doubt at all that economic power is political power. And the businessman, so far from requiring more votes than the ordinary man, requires less. The case against what the Government are doing does not rest upon the arguments I have heard advanced today. It rests upon an entirely different set of considerations. In my view the issue before the House is not whether we want to abolish the City of London representation. There is one answer to that.
I will try to explain why. If we were reconstructing the House of Commons, I do not believe it would occur to any one of us to go out of our way to give representation to the City of London. But the circumstances that it would not occur to us to give representation to the City of London if we were now reconstructing the House is not, in itself, a conclusive argument for taking away the representation of the City of London in a given set of conditions.
If the hon. Member regards the representation of the City of London as an anomaly and an injustice, would he not agree that the sooner we get rid of anomalies and injustices the better?
Not if the price of so doing is to create a greater anomaly and a greater injustice. I want to argue this thing quite fairly. I have disposed of these chaps on this side quite fairly, and now I want to turn to hon. Gentlemen opposite.
We have had great argument whether there was or was not an obligation of honour resting upon the Government, arising out of the proceedings of the Speaker's Conference. The Lord President of the Council, an exceedingly able debater, has demonstrated conclusively that, so far as the letter of the bond goes, there was no undertaking, either that the whole of the recommendations of the Speaker's Conference should be carried out, or that a new Government should be inhibited from going further in some directions than the Speaker's Conference proposed to go. So far as the letter of the bond is concerned, the Lord President has dealt with it. He is a fair-minded man, and will appreciate my subsequent argument, even though he does not agree with it. I put it to him that sometimes there is something more in political situations than the letter of the bond.
The hon. Member is taking me on far too narrow a front. I say that neither on the letter of the bond, nor on the spirit of anything that passed, nor on the verbal exchanges, is anybody entitled to advance the argument of had faith in this matter.
Sometimes the trouble with the Lord President of the Council is that he is too anticipatory, and anticipates trouble where no trouble is coming. At any rate, I take what he has said. He rests himself upon three things: the letter of the bond, the spirit of the situation, and the verbal exchanges that took place. The letter of the bond I give him. I give him, so far as I am concerned—because I was not there and do not know—the verbal exchanges. I now come to the spirit of the situation.
I do not say that there was any obligation of honour on the part of the Government. Therefore, I make no charge of bad faith. Let me make that quite plain. What I represent to the Lord President is this: Against the background of our methods of dealing with changes in the electoral law over a considerable period of years, there have been two legitimate expectations which the Opposition, in such circumstances, might have properly entertained. One was that while an obligation contracted in one Parliament is not legally binding upon a subsequent Parliament, it is morally binding upon the Government to do its best to give effect to it. That is legitimate expectation No. 1. In my view, the Government have failed to satisfy that legitimate expectation.
The second expectation is one of more gravity, and it is the predominant influence on my mind in this Debate. This legitimate expectation is that if further changes beyond those recommended by the Speaker's Conference—an agreed Speaker's Conference—were in mind, they would not be applied as a one-party decision without prior consultation with the other parties concerned in the House. That is important, for reasons that I will try briefly to give. It is a fact that over a considerable period of time we have all taken the view that it was desirable, if possible, that changes in the electoral law should be made by common agreement. I think every one of us will agree that, if that is possible, that is the desirable thing. [HON. MEMBERS: "No."] I should have thought that even the most quarrelsome hon. Member——
Is that interruption intended as a contribution to my store of learning? If so, in the circumstances I declare it immediately to be redundant. It has been our tradition for some time that, where possible, we should effect changes in the electoral law by agreement. To which ever party we may belong, every one of us would sooner that things were done by agreement than in disagreement. [An HON. MEMBER: "No."] If the hon. Member for West Ealing (Mr. J. Hudson) wishes to interrupt me, I will immediately give way, if he has anything to say. I hope he will not maintain a running fire of semi-articulate and only half-audible remarks.
I do not see why that opinion should be the subject of an interruption. If the hon. Member thinks I am wrong, he may be fortunate enough in being enabled to get up and make a powerful speech showing that I am all wrong. I hope that hon. Members opposite will learn the lesson of tolerance one day, even in debate. I am not referring to the more courteous gentleman above the Gangway, but to some of the harumscarums below the Gangway, who do not seem able to contain themselves when somebody is presenting an argument with which they do not agree.
I was saying that it is the background and tradition over a period of years for us to make changes in electoral law by agreement if possible. Why should we prefer that to any other method? We should prefer it because, if, when there is a majority of Tories in this House they would alter the electoral law to suit themselves and when there was a Labour majority on that side of the House, they would alter the electoral law to suit themselves, there would be neither agreement about the basis of the actual law or a basis of action to go upon. I thought it was common ground that, if possible, such changes should be made by agreement.
Here are changes proposed not by agreement but through the operation of a Parliamentary majority. Undoubtedly the Government can carry these changes by the use of their Parliamentary majority, but I warn them that if, at the next General Election, the electoral dice so falls that there is not a Labour majority on that side but a substantial Conservative majority, the Labour Members then in opposition would have no moral grievance whatever if the Conservative majority in that Parliament started to alter the electoral law to their advantage.
We have seen in recent months—and this is a consideration which ought to appeal to anybody familiar with the recent operations of social democracy in Europe—the ruthless use of power to alter electoral law and electoral practice to the advantage of dominant groups in Eastern Europe. There is no law which exempts us in this country. We have seen in the last few days the Communist-dominated so-called Parliament in Prague——
So far as I am concerned, I do not mind anybody quoting at any time speeches I delivered in whatever year. If I have learnt something since 1929, I wish that I could believe that was true also of the hon. Member for Dumbartonshire (Mr. McKinlay). The point of my argument is a simple one, and it is very germane to this issue. This is a change proposed which is out of line with the recommendations of the Speaker's Conference, and it is to be carried through by the operation of the Parliamentary majority in this House—not by agreement, but the reverse. When we start on that path, we may start it, but other people may finish it. We have seen examples in the last few days of what happens when Governments proceed not on the basis of changing the law by agreement but on the basis of using power to override opposition. We have even seen the parliamentary immunity of Deputies taken away from Czechoslovakian Members of Parliament during the last few days. Great oaks from little acorns grow, and we may think this is only a little thing, but little things like this have a habit of becoming big things, especially in times of acute political or economic crisis.
My conclusion is that whether there was a technical bargain or not, whether it was part of the bond or not, and whether it was part of the verbal exchanges or not, it is in keeping with the modern spirit of Parliament that changes in electoral law should be made by agreement, and after the discussions have taken place through what has become the constant and standard machinery, the machinery of Speaker's Conferences. It is a regrettable misuse, and an unwise misuse, by the Government, of its Parliamentary majority, for the sake of what is involved in this thing—a couple of seats in the City of London and a few scats in the universities—to carry this thing through in the way that it is proposed to be carried through. On those grounds, if this matter goes to a Division, I shall vote with the Opposition tonight.
We have today listened to very sincere pleas for the retention of the City of London representation, which is the matter to which we are really applying ourselves, in spite of the discursions of so many hon. Members. I was very disappointed with the speech of the Home Secretary in the light of what has happened as recently as 1944. I shall not say for a moment that one is not entitled to change one's mind or opinion, but I feel quite sure—I shall not refer to it again after this—that at the 1944 Conference the Lord President of the Council and the Home Secretary were certainly of a mind which I believe was backed with sincerity. It is very difficult for me to believe that those two right hon. Gentlemen have so suddenly conscientiously changed their minds and opinions about the universities and City of London representation. The reason I am so concerned is my feeling that this is because of the pressure being exerted upon them by their own back benchers.
When the distribution of seats Bill was considered, I have no doubt that the Socialist Government had nothing in their minds about changing the representation of the universities or the City of London, but the result of the Boundary Commission's Report was to deprive the Government of a large number of seats. That was inevitable, I imagine, and I believe that the Government were not so very much influenced by that fact in regard to the Boundary Commission's Report being a very sound one. I imagine that the losing of so many seats caused pressure to be brought to bear upon the Home Secretary and the Lord President to make at least a corresponding gesture to their own side by abolishing the university vote and at the same time the representation of the City of London.
In this matter the Government have obviously tried to work by logic. It is impossible to apply strictly logical thought to the franchise in this country. We have heard about fancy franchises. We should not so quickly and readily cast scorn upon fancy franchises. I must admit that on logical grounds, or on grounds of reason, the City of London representation cannot be defended. That must be admitted, but there are many other grounds upon which it can be defended. I cannot think that the Lord President of the Council or the Home Secretary are of the calibre of mind to disregard tradition and all that it means. London is not to be regarded as an ordinary town, city or division. As we have heard this afternoon from so many hon. Members, the City of London is an institution. We cannot reduce it to a question of mere numbers or residential qualifications.
The Government have yielded to a pressure which in 1944 would have had no influence whatever. We cannot carry this thing to a logical conclusion by mere mathematical measures. We find anomalies throughout the Report of the Boundary Commission, and we know that anomalies are bound to exist all the time. I cannot imagine that we could so mathematically order the division of this country that the value of "one man, one vote" would ever be exact. I believe that "one man, one vote" is a cheap slogan which will eventually have a very different evaluation placed upon it.
I do not know whether anybody in this Committee really believes it is the right way of getting proper representation in the government of a country, because "one man, one vote" means that we do not recognise intelligence or any other quality but that of being a person. It means that we could argue that the spiv has the same value for his vote as the Cabinet Minister. That may appear to be quite fair, but if it is carried to its logical conclusion, we should be likely to face a kind of mob rule, because if the larger number of votes is all the time to carry the government of the country—purely on numbers—the implication of the argument is that the uninformed vote can bring us the best form of government.
As we have heard this afternoon, the City of London has a great tradition. It represents something which is intangible in many ways, yet it has this value in the eyes of the world, and I should have thought that, in this country and the Empire it stands by itself as an institution. On those grounds alone I should have imagined that the Government would have stood by the 1944 Conference and said, "We will allow the City of London, as a separate institution, to retain its two Members, and we will find a method by which these two Members can be properly elected."
I believe that a method could be found if the Government would look at this question again. The hon. Member for Streatham (Sir D. Robertson) suggested that a way could be found if the business vote were applied only to the City of London. That would not be unfair, and not so difficult as it might first appear. It works today. Many hon. Members have said that the business vote in their own constituencies is really valueless, and I think it is true that the numbers of business people claiming votes in the ordinary constituencies are small. However, that would never apply to the City of London, where the day population, the merchants, the bankers and all the people engaged in so many diverse businesses there, actually claim their votes. I feel that both the Lord President and the Home Secretary in their heart of hearts would be content if they could find a solution whereby the membership of the City of London could be retained unimpaired.
I do not want to dwell on the broader question of "one man one vote," but only on the Amendment. It is quite true as so many hon. Members have said, that the mere fact that we are so ready to abolish the traditional representation of the City of London will not add one iota to the prestige of this country. I could imagine that if we were ruled by a Communist Government in this country at any time, one of the first things it would do would be to abolish the City of London, but I cannot think this Government desires that. The Government is adopting a bad principle in attempting to apply so logically the "one man one vote" principle, and so extinguish one of the greatest privileges which they themselves would acknowledge should be maintained, namely, that the City of London should not lose its separate representation in the House of Commons. I hope, therefore, that the Government will endeavour to find some means whereby the City of London will still be able to have a voice in this Chamber.
I hope it will not be regarded as an impertinence if a London Member joins in this discussion, especially one who happens to represent a borough contiguous to the City of London. That, of course, does not necessarily give me any right to presume that I can contribute to the discussion in any greater measure than hon. and right hon. Members who live in other parts of the country, but there have been one or two things said with which I do not agree, and my constituents would not be satisfied if I did not say what is in my mind.
In the first place, Southwark is close to the boundary of the City of London and, naturally, my constituents would come to me, if this Measure were successfully opposed, and say, "How is it that you allowed a proposition of this kind to go from the Minister without according him your support?" They would argue, "We have so many more thousands of electors in this division than are in the division of the City of London." That is at least one reason why we should support the Minister in this part of the Bill and oppose the Amendment.
I do not mind making one present to the Opposition, because it caused me some surprise that the most favourable argument from their point of view has not been put. It is that, as the City of London is a Corporation, and an important municipal entity in the government of London, that is at least a traditional argument in favour of Parliamentary representation in a direct sense for the City. Possibly, as I have not been here for every minute of the day, although I have listened to most of the Debate, that may have been put forward, and, if so, it would have had my sympathy because there is something in that argument. However, that aspect of the question is subject to all the other arguments that can be advanced against the Amendment. I listened with great interest to the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. W. J. Brown), who no longer favours us with his presence, but I was not able to follow him in most of his arguments, especially in relation to the Speaker's Conference. He apparently would allow no exception to be made, even on the part of the Minister or in the event of a Cabinet decision, the decisions of the Speaker's Conference would be placed before the House of Commons, and the House would be expected to accept them without question.
I have no doubt that, if the hon. Member were here, I should be interrupted at this point and I will supply his intervention in his absence. He would say that the three or more parties concerned in that Conference came to an agreement and, therefore, the House should not attempt to alter that decision. Surely, however, if we can alter or attempt to alter the decision of a Government in this House, we can criticise and decline to accept a decision reached by representatives of the parties at a Speaker's Conference? Mr. Speaker is not present, but in his absence I make bold to say that even a Speaker's Conference is not sacrosanct as far as we are concerned. After all, the last decision inevitably rests with the House of Commons, and all the talk of the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. W. J. Brown) is of no avail in shifting that opinion.
Another point which was made was that political tradition had always governed any decision of constitutional practice. Surely a constitutional change must be regarded as of importance if it relates to the suffrage of the individual members of the community. Fortunately, today we have almost reached the summit of our ambitions in that respect, but to say that the suffrages of the people of this country are a matter of traditional decision by a Speaker's Conference is going against all history. The favourite reading of political students today is that about the struggle working people and radical politicians had in securing one political franchise and then another. It seems to me that this case, where only Parliamentary representation is involved, cannot appeal to us as being a matter of traditional privilege. We all respect tradition, but that does not mean that we always retain a tradition, merely because it is a tradition. We retain those traditions that are good, and we reject those which are bad. Hon. Members have their choice of whether they are bad, or good.
This afternoon the Home Secretary spoke with regard to the arrangement to be made for connecting the City of London with Shoreditch, with Finsbury, with Westminster or with Southwark. I represent a Southwark constituency, and if Southwark is to be brought into this question, to enable the City of London to be incorporated therewith, I trust that the representatives of Southwark will be consulted before they are expected to enter such traditional company. We have always lived side by side on the best of terms with the City of London, I dare say, although I could not say for certain; that in all probability those I represent would welcome their entry into the fold. I cannot however commit them, and I am glad to have the assent of the Home Secretary to the extent that Southwark will be consulted during the discussions that take place. I apologise for intervening in the Debate, but, as so many hon. Members from far distant parts have made a contribution, I thought it right that a London Member should take part.
I do not wish to cover points which have been threshed out in detail, but I want to call the attention of the Committee to one point which has been touched on, but not in any great detail. I have no close connection with the City of London, except as a place where occasionally I have lost a certain amount of money which I did not want to lose. I profoundly regret that at this time the Government have thought fit to sunder the close and intimate relations between this House and the City of London which have endured throughout the centuries.
I have a certain nodding acquaintance with history, and I think it is true to say that there is no country in the world where there has been, and still is, that close and intimate connection between the capital city and the seat of Parliamentary power which exists in this Kingdom. It is true to say, although I do not want to pursue the argument now, that Parliament would not have taken its present form, and have become as it is now, the embodiment of our ideas of freedom and liberty, if it had not been for that close and intimate connection with the City of London. During the darkest days of our Parliamentary history, it was the City of London which stood four-square behind Parliament against Stuart tyranny. It was from the City of London that the trained bands went forth—their memory is marked on the threshold which hon. Members pass over every day—to do battle for the freedom of Parliament. It was the jurors of the City of London who, in the days of James II, opposed their own obstacles to the tyranny of that King by refusal to convict for political offences until the charters were superseded. In all this time there was the close and intimate connection between Parliament, as the guardian of our freedom and liberties, and the City of London, and without that connection I am convinced we should not have the strength and position we occupy at the moment.
I know something of the feelings towards the City of London and its connection with Parliament of those who live overseas. In all courtesy, may I say to the Home Secretary that when they turn their footsteps homewards from those lands, they do not turn to North Shields, South Shields, or even to the City of Newcastle, but to the City of London, because there they feel they have a welcome home. Thinking of the Commonwealth and Colonial possessions, I believe it an unfortunate thing that at this moment we should weaken that close connection between Parliament and the City, which has endured through all these days.
These are not things which can be estimated by the mere counting of heads, by logarithms or equations. They are things of the spirit, and things of history. I profoundly regret that at this hour in our history the Government should have chosen to take the course which sunders that link, which has been so powerful in maintaining our position and liberties, and in weakening that connection which means so much to our far-flung possessions over every one of the seven seas. I ask the Government to think on these things again. They are destroying something very precious which will never be recreated if this unfortunate step is taken today.
I do not intend to refer to the question of the abolition of the representation of the City of London, because I think that an overwhelming case has been made out already for its abolition. I think that that abolition is long overdue. I rise for the second time in my Parliamentary experience to support the abolition of the plural vote. In the 1929 Parliament, a Bill introduced by the then Home Secretary contained a Clause similar in principle to the one now being discussed. I opposed the plural vote then, and I do so now, because I believe that it confers upon those who possess it an undue privilege and an unfair share in the representation in this House. I would like briefly to make a point which I do not think has been made previously by any speaker in this Debate, which is that the plural vote gives those who possess it and who live outside a Parliamentary constituency the power to determine the representation of a constituency in which they do not reside.
May I be allowed to refer to my own Parliamentary experience in that connection to reinforce my point? I succeeded a Member who was a previous Attorney-General, the late Sir Thomas Inskip, or, as he later became Lord Caldecote. He was never elected to this House for the Central Division of Bristol by the people who lived in that Division because there was always a larger number of plural voters living outside that Division who came in and voted for him, and provided his majority. That is the nullification of what I consider to be true Parliamentary democracy. That can only be truly expressed by the people who are elected to this House being chosen by the free and equal votes of the people who live in the Division which they presume to represent. It is because I believe that the abolition of the plural vote will secure that desirable result that I have, for the second time, the greatest possible pleasure in supporting the abolition of that plural vote and the privilege it confers.
I am fortunate in following the hon. Member for Thornbury (Mr. Alpass) because I have the good fortune to hold views which are entirely opposed to his. They are not popular views, or views which will meet with approval in this Committee, but they are sound and well founded. I believe in plural voting, I believe in the business vote. I suggest to the House that unless they are prepared to give increasingly a measure of advantage and support to the business vote, which means businessmen, the series of crises, of which we have had far too many, will be multiplied. This belief in the mere counting of heads is unworthy of His Majesty's Government. This belief that the number of heads and not the contents of the heads is important is a disappointment to one who had hoped that the Representation of the People Bill would contain at any rate some new ideas.
There is a complete failure to recognise that a great man, called Graham Wallas, who was once a member of the party opposite, and who wrote, "Human Nature in politics," supplied at any rate sufficient ideas to make a much better Measure than this one. He made it clear, as some right hon. Gentlemen on the Front Bench opposite who once accepted his teaching may remember, that the mere counting of heads would never bring in a Socialist democracy, that the bringing in of Socialism depended not upon the mere counting of heads but upon the organisation of intelligence. If there is any Member of the Treasury Bench who has lost his copy of this book "Human Nature in Politics," I should have been happy to make it my business, if this book were not unfortunately out of print, to supply him with it. If hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite had read it and studied it and were familiar with its contents, this House would be considering a very different Representation of the People Bill tonight.
I am an unrepentant supporter of the business vote, and if the electorate of this country do not soon realise that it is not by the counting of heads but by the counting of brains that this country can be saved, then indeed our country is wellnigh lost. I do not understand the theory, especially on the part of the Government, who have as high pretentions and doubtless substantial claims to be more intelligent than most Governments, although I have never understood the argument, whereby they say, "Where they sleep shall people vote, not where they produce and create." This is giving the franchise to somnambulists. The argument is apparently, "I sleep in Lewisham—or Southwark—I work in London. Where I sleep, I vote. That is where my intelligence is dull and blunted. I do not exercise my franchise where my brain is intelligent and alert." Graham Wallas would have laughed that out of court.
I am not afraid of the tied Member. I am not afraid of advocating special representation for businessmen before this assembly. Have we not had recommended miners' constituencies, represented by miners? Is it not stated that agricultural constituencies should be represented by agriculturists? That is the whole basis of the claim for the Labour Party. I can think of constituencies in which I could live in the knowledge that I would never, by the use of my vote, be able to return a Conservative Member. There are constituencies which for 25 years have been pocket boroughs of the Mineworkers' Federation. I do not object to it, but if hon. Members accept that principle— and there are Members who sit on those benches because of the acceptance of that principle—would they deny it to me if I also asked for the type represented by the City of London to be represented? If miners are to have an exclusive right of perennial representation, whatever Parliament should be elected, are businessmen not to have the same right? There will always be more miners' seats than those of businessmen, I agree. I am willing to accept the logic of the argument, but if we are to have miners' pocket boroughs and agriculturists' pocket boroughs, there is a claim and justification in an intelligent Representation of the People Bill for a pocket borough for financiers and businessmen.
The whole of this Bill is based on a fallacy. There is a search for an ideal political system, an ideal voting system. The search is futile. Why, far from having achieved that, should it provide less representation? Surely, an intelligent Government, anxious to consult the people, a Government of the people, for the people, would want to give more representation? It is their intention to give less representation than before, because they say, "the university vote is an anomaly—away with it. The business vote is an anomaly—away with it" More intelligent men would say, "We will not reduce the representation of the people, we will enlarge it. We will see that these anomalies are lost in a wider, fuller scheme." Instead of that we have restriction, limitation, a narrowing and lessening of the contact of the people of this country with their representatives. I am not afraid of the challenge of my argument. There should be two votes for anybody if he has two qualifications——
The hon. and learned Member will not expect me, in the time at my disposal, to indicate his qualifications. My hon. Friend sitting near me suggests that an addition to his existing qualifications might be a little more intelligence, but it is not for me to put forward that argument.
I turn to the second aspect of this Amendment, which is the prestige of the City of London. It may seem a little odd that a Scotsman should speak about the prestige of the City of London, but it is true to say that it was Andrew Patterson, a Scotsman, who came to London, and founded the Bank of England, which has recently been made a nationalised institution. So that we Scotsmen have some interest in London. That interest is not like the interest of the Lord President, a false, fickle, fleeting, sentimental interest, which evaporates before political difficulties. It is a sober interest. I shall be sorry that the Lord President, with his pride in London and his pride at being a Londoner, is ready to see the rights of the City thrown away. I should have thought that there at any rate, would have been one Member who would show that he could be faithful when others behind him were faithless. I am reminded of a discussion between a Royal Fusilier and a member of the Black Watch. The Royal Fusilier said, "If I had not been a Royal Fusilier I would have liked to have been in the Black Watch." The Black Watch man said: "If I had not been in the Black Watch I would like to have been in the Black Watch"—he was not prepared to offer any compliments.
I read with feelings of emotion what the Lord President said on previous occasions about his feelings for London. During the war, when he was Minister of Home Security, I knew of his pride and affection and regard for the great City. That is what makes his apparent retraction more unfortunate and a matter of great regret. I feel that this is an uncomfortable moment for him, and I would like to add to his discomfort, as I also hope to add to the discomfort of the Secretary of State for Scotland. The Government are throwing away the prestige of London. When the Commonwealth of Australia was set up, what did the democracy of Australia do to promote prestige? They created the new capital of Canberra. The Dominion of Canada chose Ottawa against the conflicting claims of Montreal and Toronto. The U.S.S.R re-created the capital of Moscow. Capitals are the representation of great democratic beliefs and none will say that the U.S.S.R., the Dominion of Canada, and Australia have not democratic beliefs. This Government is throwing away something which it has always had in its possession—the world- wide, unique unchallengeable preeminence of the great City of London. In this difficult hour of crisis they are throwing that away as if it were something of no value.
There are places and people which are exceptions. There is only one Speaker in the House of Commons. There is only one Archbishop—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."]—there is only one Archbishop of Canterbury. There is only one Prime Minister—surely that is not disputed. May I suggest that this great country can afford only one capital, and that that City may well have unique advantages over the rest of the community? No other place would grudge it those advantages. I do not see what we gain by giving away those advantages. London will be something less because of this decision. It will be the only capital in the world, I take it, which has not the great pre-eminence that other capitals everywhere else enjoy. There have been changes in the constitution of London itself. I think it is true to say that the Bank of England no longer enjoys the prestige which it formerly enjoyed as a great commercial institution in London. It now more or less only carries out the orders of the Board of Trade, or the Treasury, or the Ministry of Supply. London's prestige has been seriously impaired. Is it right to throw it away?
What are the gains in this Bill, against which the Amendment strives to express an opinion? We are to gain uniformity and a certain consistency. I am reminded of someone who said that consistency is the hobgoblin of little statesmen and little minds. There are no little statesmen here and no little minds, but there is a search for consistency, and that is all we shall get from this Bill. I feel that the attempt to unify the situation, to get a level of uniformity, is a mistake, and false. In, human affairs, fortunately, in spite of what otherwise well-intentioned folk may endeavour, there will always be a glorious irregularity and lack of uniformity, and, in my judgment, it is well that that is so.
This is an unhappy and unfortunate Measure. This House, during the last few days, and possibly in the immediate future, will have to consider grave and difficult matters. Is this the best contribution which the Government can make towards unanimity—to attempt to raise this wholly controversial issue? I agree with the hon. Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg) this is not the kind of Bill to cast into the troubled waters surrounding us. The Government have need of what unanimity this country can give. Is anyone seriously disturbed about the representation of the people at the present time? Do they cry out in the Highlands, or in Devonshire, or in Birmingham, or down on the coast at Dover, about these injustices? Is it causing sleepless nights? No. There is little disturbance in the minds of people about the anomaly of representation in the City of London, or about the university representation and the university representatives, who may think themselves more important than do either the country or the Government. It is sometimes wise to leave well alone. I think it would be wisdom on the part of the Government in this Measure to leave well alone, and so I shall vote for the Amendment.
I thought, a few moments ago, that hon. Members in all quarters of the Committee made up their minds, with regretful envy, that there was only one example of the hon. Member for South Edinburgh (Sir W. Darling). It is my difficulty that, having in front of me a note of 26 speeches, it would be quite impossible for me, as I think it will be for the right hon. Gentleman who will follow me, to go through them in detail. Therefore, if I take out certain important points that have been made in the Debate and deal with them, I hope that the Committee will bear with me. I shall try, as I deal with those points, to pick up the main arguments that have been advanced from all quarters of the Committee.
It is a real danger to try to erect into an everlasting principle prejudices only recently acquired, and, with regard to plural voting, that is the position to which the party opposite must plead guilty on this occasion. Before the hon. Member for Thornbury (Mr. Alpass) gets too worked up about it perhaps he will note what I have to say.
My right hon. and gallant Friend the Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank) put the case far too low when he said that at least four of the representatives of the Labour Party voted against the Resolution that the Conference
should recommend that no person at any election should vote more than once. The right hon. Gentleman will correct me if I am wrong, but I think that I have the authority of the Lord President of the Council to say that all the representatives of the Labour Party—that is, all the Labour Members on the Conference apart from the hon. and learned Member for Hammersmith (Mr. Pritt) who was then in a position with regard to his party upon which I need not spend time—were supporting the majority and against the Resolution to which I have just referred. On 17th January, the right hon. Gentleman the Lord President put it in these graphic words:
What was the position of the Labour Members? The Liberal Members, it is true, opposed it.
That is plural voting—
They were not in a responsible position, if I may say so, as the Labour Members were. They had little to gain and little to lose. The Labour Members could either take the concession which the Conservatives gave, of throwing the spouse to the wolves.…
Then here—the right hon. Gentleman will forgive me—he mentioned the hon. Member for West Fife (Mr. Gallacher) and the desirability of that hon. Member controlling himself, but I shall not go into that in detail. Then he passed on and said:
referring to the Labour Members—
'we can get the concession about the spouse or nothing; and the concession is nearly half the problem, so we will take it.' Having taken it they signed the Report, and those who were Members of the Conference must stand by it."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 17th January, 1945; Vol. 407, C. 311–2.]
It is rather difficult, after that unanimity of the Labour representatives on the Conference, and their declaration in voting against the Resolution which I have mentioned, for them to say that it is a matter of principle on which they must oppose anything in the nature of plural voting. Therefore, we start from that position. That gives an answer apart altogether from the suggestions that have been made as to the use of the optional vote which, of course, has worked perfectly well between the business and university votes for many years. The party opposite are the last people who can say that this is a matter of principle, because when the occasion came they were quite ready to
vote against that principle on grounds of expediency and compromise.
Let them regard the position as they did in 1944, from the point of view of expediency, desirability or any other noun they may prefer. Look at the practical problem with which we are dealing here on the question of the business vote. There are 64,500 business votes left in Great Britain, and 51,000 of them are in England and Wales. There is not a seat in any of the county divisions of England and Wales which has more than 100 of those votes. Most of them have 10 or 20. Of the seven seats where there are between 500 and 1,000 business votes, three are held by Conservatives and four by Socialists. Of the nine seats where there are over 1,000, including the City of London, five are held by the Labour Party and four by the Conservative Party. That is the problem of the business vote put in its existing terms and that is what hon. Gentlemen have to consider tonight. In that background what is the interest—I say "interest" and not "interests"— of the business voter in the place where he has the qualification?
I take it that the figures which the right hon. and learned Gentleman has mentioned are figures of business votes which have been claimed? He has not attempted to arrive at the business votes which could be claimed.
I assume that in order to get on the register and, therefore, to be counted, they will have to be claimed. I confess that I did not verify the point. That is how I understood the position. I am not seeking to make any false point. These are the recorded business votes. Believe me, this is not a question of an attempt on my part to try to dodge the issue by saying that the baby was only a little one. This is trying to get the problem we are discussing into true proportion. These are the figures which we must consider. I put it to hon. Gentlemen opposite that in the area where the business voter works, and where his vote would be exercised, undoubtedly he generally has great social interests, because that is where he meets and sees the people amongst whom his working life is spent. He has clubs, associations, charities in that area and a great section of his life is spent there. The division I happen to know is the Exchange Division of Liverpool, but that applies in Manchester and in many other places.
I do not think that any one has answered the point, which I raised on Second Reading, that it seems absurd that in the constituency where he works for the whole of his life and provides work for others, he should be denied the infinitesimal fraction of political power that is contained in one vote when that is given—let us face the facts—to anyone who may occupy an attic in his office building. That is the real problem. It is one which, I submit, deserves consideration. There is also a point of great substance which was developed in a speech of the highest quality by my hon. Friend the Member for Oxford (Mr. Hogg), that if the man's business is situate in a certain division it is through the Member for that division that he will want to raise the points affecting his business life, and it is difficult if he is not an elector and has not the approach which an elector particularly has to the hon. Member for purposes of that sort.
I was very interested in the argument put forward by the hon. Member for Acton (Mr. Sparks), and, although I do not think he is back with us, I should like to answer it in courtesy and in recognition of the case he put forward. He said that, on that basis—the broad approach which I have been putting forward—why should that not apply to any industrial worker who lives outside his Division? I think the same point had been made earlier by the Home Secretary. Again, I ask hon. Gentlemen opposite to look at the realities of the position. The Labour Party is organised very largely—I do not say entirely or mainly, but very largely—on a trade union basis, and there is no vague or general connection, but a specific connection, and the choice of candidate in a large number of constituencies is very largely influenced by the great trade unions in which the workers in these constituencies have membership. Therefore, it has worked out—and, believe me, I am speaking perfectly honestly when I say that, in my opinion, it works very well—that the industrial interests of the workers are represented through the trade union Members of this House. I put that forward as a real, practical answer which the commonsense and political acumen of our people has found to meet the interesting problem which the hon. Member for Acton raised.
I pass, because time is short, to the arguments with regard to the City of London, and I want to approach it on the basis that, even if hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite disagree with me on my general argument on the business vote, the special position and special arguments for the retention of the City of London demand their attention. Again, let us look at what has happened in the past. It was not in dispute in the Speaker's Conference that the City should retain at least one Member; the division was on whether it should be one or two, but the precedent exists beyond that in the Bill which the Labour Government introduced in 1930–31, when they proposed that the business vote should be abolished except for the City of London. I cannot believe, as the right hon. Gentleman was a Member of that Government, that the general electoral acumen has altered so little during that time, and certainly no other factors have altered. Therefore, again, on this matter, hon. Gentlemen have to consider their own proposals, and that is really what this Debate has come down to on that point of the special position of the City of London.
I am not going to read again what I read with great pleasure on the last occasion, which has not been entirely forgotten in this Debate—the eloquence of the Lord President on the position of the City—but I do feel that hon. Gentlemen opposite must face up to the position of the prestige of the City. I know that some people may not like them, but I will quote the great words of the historian Lecky, who was an hon. Member of this House and who, I am sure, the right hon. Gentleman will remember, in dealing with this subject. He said:
No other spot in the globe comprises so many of the forms and elements of power, wealth, all the varieties of knowledge, all the kinds of influence and activities that are concentrated in that narrow space.
I ask hon. Members opposite, does anyone really say, and want to say, today that they would like the prestige and influence of the City of London to be less in the world than it was 50 years ago? Do they really want people abroad and in our own Dominions to have a less high opinion of the City than they had at that time? Let us put it the other way. Would there be more or less worry about the economic situation of our country at the present time if they thought that the strength of the City, with all these forms of activities which have been detailed to the Committee within the course of this Debate, had seriously declined?
Hon. Gentlemen opposite have put forward the argument, "Well, even if the prestige of the City were to be maintained, you could do that without having this Parliamentary representation." I say, again, that, on the points of interest and importance that come from the City—exchange control, questions from the commodity markets, questions of banking and insurance—it must be of vital interest to any Government, whatever their political colour, to have the view of the City put forward by somebody who understands the subject, and who can act as a true liaison in the matter. Only one argument was put forward by an hon. Member opposite about the selfishness of the City. I am very glad that was answered not from these benches but by the hon. Lady the Member for Epping (Mrs. Manning), who told in her own way, and with much power, the great public-spirited fight that the City had made for the preservation of Epping Forest which has done so much good for London, and which has provided a lung for the whole of its population.
With regard to those who are entitled to vote for a City candidate, I think that all of us should pay attention to, and should consider the suggestion of, my right hon. Friend the junior Member for the City of London (Mr. Assheton). As I have said, it has not been beyond the powers of manageability to work options in the past, and when we have a constituency whose prestige is of such importance, I should have thought that the suggestion put forward by my right hon. Friend was well worthy of further consideration at a later stage. I am most anxious that it should not go out as a result of this Debate that this Committee, or any section of it, regards the City of London today as a mere husk whose former greatness has departed. It is a great institution, a great part of our heritage, and a great section of our national life. It is from these proud considerations, coupled with the fact that the membership can be of such value, that I ask the Government to reconsider, without any pettiness, the issues involved in this case.
I now pass to the vexed question of the breach of faith which we allege with regard to these proposals, as with regard to the university proposals. The right hon. Gentleman has narrowed the issue, because he said yesterday that my right hon. Friend the Member for North Leeds (Mr. Peake) had argued that there was a bargain which was binding on the political parties. The right hon. Gentleman said that up to that point there was some truth in that, but then went on to say that he absolutely and flatly denied that the bargain operated today. The right hon. Gentleman asked for some evidence on which that allegation was based. He is entitled to do that and he would expect me to give it to him.
I do not want to repeat, and I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will not hold it against me, the contemporary quotations which I gave at length on the Second Reading. They are on record for anyone to see. But let us come to the other points which have been evolved since then: First, it is now quite clear that the scheme of reform of representation was to be completed after the Election, and was to be given effect to in a Bill which would be introduced in the next Parliament. There is no doubt that in any of the negotiations that took place at the time the Conference had that in mind. That is clear, not only from what I have already said but from the form in which Section 3 of the House of Commons (Redistribution of Seats) Act, 1944, is drawn. It makes provision for orders up to a point, and clearly contemplates a Bill for completing the matter. If that stood alone I cannot see, when contemplating finishing the matter off in the next Parliament, how undertakings do not run until the matter has been completed.
The Home Secretary did his best on a sticky wicket, but it was obvious that when he said, on 21st November, 1945, that the Government regarded themselves as bound during the lifetime of the present Parliament—that is this Parliament—to submit to the House the necessary legislation to give effect to the recommendations, he was considering, he was mentioning, the recommendations of the Speaker's Conference, subject to any technical alterations that might have to be made as a result of the Reports of the Carr and Oliver Committees. The right hon. Gentleman's first exculpation was succeeded by the statement at the end of his speech which goes 90 per cent. in the direction of what I have already said to the Committee. The Carr Committee was given terms of reference, and was permitted to continue with its work for nearly three years on the basis of the existence of the recommendations of the Speaker's Conference and to work out its effects. The Prime Minister, when asked a general question about this Bill, during the Debate on the Address, stated that it would be brought forward from the Speaker's Conference.
Now I come to the Secretary of State for Scotland, as, no doubt, he would expect. He made it quite clear, on the Second Reading, that in his view there was an agreement, but that it ceased to be binding on the Labour Party when the Conservatives put up candidates who won, first, the Combined Universities seats and then the Scottish Universities seats. These points are clear, and are on record for anyone to read. They are there in addition to all the excerpts that I gave on the last occasion.
May I deal for a moment with the argument that we put the other way? The hon. Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Bing) quoted from Mr. Baldwin's statement in 1928. The hon. Gentleman did not read it far enough. If he had, he would have seen that Mr. Baldwin went on to say:
Had we taken up the question of redistribution and other such matters as the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Burnley (Mr. A. Henderson) specified, then, indeed, a conference would have had manifest advantages."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 29th March, 1928; Vol. 215, c. 1471.]
There had been no question then of giving up the conference, but there was a general agreement as to the extension that was made, which does not mean, as the right hon. Gentleman said, that there was a veto. It means that if there is general agreement we need not go through the procedure of having a conference because it is unnecessary. We have an informal agreement which is expressed. I am anxious not to trespass on the right hon. Gentleman's time, but may I put the constitutional position, as I understand it, very briefly?
Before the Reform Bill of 1832, to which the Home Secretary referred, there had been for 30 years at least constant Debates in this House on the question of reform, and the party line had become quite clear cut. Then there was an Election, and then there was the Bill. In 1867, a date to which the Home Secretary also referred, Mr. Disraeli threw over his own suggestions based on John Stuart Mill and on multiplicity of votes and took the suggestions acceptable to Mr. Gladstone and the Liberal Party. He was in a minority in the House. Then we come to 1883, when Lord Salisbury and Mr. Gladstone made an agreement, and, after that time, we come to the succession of conferences in 1917, the Ullswater Conference in 1931 and the Conference in 1944. It is quite clear that in the last 8o years a constitutional practice has been formed that we do not make changes with regard to Parliamentary redistribution or electoral matters without first trying to get agreement in some way or another. If we do not get agreement then we can, if we like, introduce our party line, and if we do get agreement we honour that agreement until we have carried out that agreement or until a new situation arises.
That constitutional procedure is profound and simple. It is simple because it is easily understood and can easily be put into effect. It is profound because it makes the difference in the working of British politics between reasonableness and agreement and a shoddy tit-for-tat. What the Government are doing by refusing to honour the agreement of 1944 is to make it necessary for us to say, as we must say, that we shall restore the university seats and the City of London.
Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman say whether in addition to declaring that they will restore the university seats and the City of London they intend to restore the business plural voting and not abolish the 7 million new local government voters?
The right hon. Gentleman has got to take what I have told him and he can consider the other matters later on. The right hon. Gentleman is trying to get away from the main point, and this is one which he recognises. I am not going to be taken from it. I know the right hon. Gentleman far too well. Here the alternative is either we stand for that practice and we carry out honourable agreements that are made until the matters in the agreements have been carried out or until the time is ripe for a change when we try to get other agreements and in the absence of that agreement then carry out the party view, or else we come to tit-for-tat. The right hon. Gentleman may want that. He may desire that when any party in this House gets a majority it should take the line which he is taking today, which is simply gerrymandering with the constituency to get an electoral advantage. If the right hon. Gentleman likes that sort of line he can have it, but I say that this is an innovation in British political and public life which I regret, and I am sure that every one in this Committee will regret it before they come to the end of their political and actual career.
May I, first of all, apologise to the Committee for having left it for some hours last evening? I had an engagement with my wife and our neighbours some weeks ago to go to a theatre, but because of Parliamentary business we had to cancel it, and we substituted last night instead. It was very pleasant, for we went to see "Annie Get Your Gun." I came back in time for the Division, and when I returned I saw the shocking passage my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary was having. I thought he was being treated rather badly, and I had the feeling that I ought to have brought back Annie and her gun with me. [Interruption.] Is the right hon. and gallant Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank) in one of his bad moods again?
I engaged in the perfectly orderly process of intimating that I would like to interject, and the right hon. and gallant Gentleman was good enough to give way. That is not interrupting, but part of the normal process of Parliament, within proper limits.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for West Derby (Sir D. Maxwell Fyfe) stated his case with the vigour and competence that we expect from him. As far as I know, he is the first Opposition speaker who has argued seriously on the question of the business vote. Otherwise, this has been almost ignored in a Debate in which, by agreement between both sides, it had been accepted that we would debate both the City of London and the business vote. There was reason for so doing, because part of the argument about the City of London is inevitably related to the preservation of the business vote in some form. In arguing the case with regard to the business vote, the first point made by the right hon. and learned Gentleman was that at the Speaker's Conference the Labour representatives voted for the preservation, broadly, of half the remaining business voters. I follow his argument. I have heard it before, in another context, from the noble Lady the Member for Anglesey (Lady Megan Lloyd George), who has also pulled our legs upon this subject. I am not sure that she and her friends were not responsible for putting Labour Members at the Speaker's Conference "on the spot" to such a degree that they had to vote one way or the other upon that issue. That was quite fair and competent Liberal tactics at the Conference.
The answer was given by the right hon. and learned Gentleman himself, that there was discussion and accommodation reached by people within the limitations of a Coalition Parliament and a Coalition Government. Everybody had to do the best they could for themselves. [HON. MEMBERS: "Oh."] Certainly, and for the country. Let not the Opposition think that they were not thinking about themselves. Of course, they were. Let us hope that we were both thinking about our legitimate party interests on all sides, and about the interests of the country and what was fair and just.
The quotation which the right hon. and learned Gentleman made from a speech of mine was, so far as I can see, quite sensible and reasonable. It was that, in an argument of that kind, one side says, "We are not going to agree to the abolition of the business vote." The other side says: "That is what we believe is right." At the end of the day, the first side says: "We cannot do it," and the other side says: "At any rate, you really cannot justify the spouses being directly qualified to have the vote." The first side then says: "We accept that there is something in that point." At the end of the day, they have knocked the spouses out and left the original voter in.
That is the accommodation. That is the bargain, within the limitations in which they are working. Having struck that bargain it is quite right that the Labour Members of the Conference should say, when the noble Lady the Member for Anglesey gets up to her tactical operations: "We shall vote for the retention of the remaining half." They had got half of them out. They did very good business in the circumstances in which they were working. The right hon. and learned Gentleman argued—I think this was the meaning of his argument—that the business vote in total is small and is not a dominating matter in any but a very limited number of constituencies. It is true that it does not nowadays, especially in view of the removal of the spouses from the register, enormously affect the balance of representation.
Of course, in the case of the City of London, it is obviously difficult to survive unless there is a business vote, so the conclusion to which the right hon. and learned Gentleman comes is, why bother about limited affairs of this kind? I might answer, in that case, why get excited about the removal of a limited anomaly of this kind? I think we have the better case. I cannot see that anybody has made a reasonable case for the business vote as such. That is a perfectly true statement, as the hon. Member for South Edinburgh (Sir W. Darling) will agree. He has had a night out and enjoyed himself, recalling his old Socialist days, even if he came to a very reactionary conclusion. There really is no argument for the business vote on the merits of the case. Nobody can show that the average business voter —this was the assumption of the hon. Member for South Edinburgh—has a higher degree of intellect or of political judgment than the non-business voter.
The hon. Gentleman now wants voting on the basis of how much tax is paid. He wants enormous plurality of voting for the millionaires. I do not know what he would do for the working classes down below.
The fact is that the Opposition have no intellectual conviction behind them regarding the business vote, otherwise we would have heard some better arguments about it. The right hon. and learned Member for West Derby did his best. He tried, but the others did not even seriously try, and the fact is——
I certainly went out when the hon. Gentleman was speaking. It is a wise thing to do. There is no argument on the business vote. No case has been made out, and I do not believe that any case could be made out——
I must really ask the hon. Member to restrain himself or I shall have to require him to leave the Committee. The hon. Gentleman has more than once used the personal pronoun "you," and I take strong exception to it in the context. I trust that he will restrain himself.
On that Ruling, Major Milner, of course I regret any use of the personal pronoun, but the position is that the right hon. Gentleman has repeated again and again that certain things were not said when they were said, and then when somebody tries to point out that they were said, he says he was not here and does not care. Hon. Members are surely entitled to some courtesy from Ministers and some protection from the Chair against this perpetual stream of vulgar abuse?
If the hon. Gentleman will permit me to say so, he himself is not guiltless in that respect. With reference to the allegations about truth or untruth, of which I know nothing, the matter is before the Committee, and hon. Members can form their own opinion on that subject just as well as the hon. Member.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman argued that there was an opposite number of the business voter or the businessman Member of Parliament on this side in the trade union representatives, and that we had that advantage, about which he made no complaint. On the contrary, he thought it was right, because the Conservatives or the business people had got theirs; but there is no analogy whatever. My hon. Friends who have associations in the trade union movement of an official character are returned as Members of Parliament by the electorate in the ordinary way. They do not seek any plural voting in order to get them in. They have to chance their arm and get selected by a constituency just like any other hon. Member.
From reports which I have received and from what I have heard—I have heard the great bulk of the Debate—I do not think there has been any serious or material argument put forward about the business vote, although the hon. Member for South Edinburgh certainly went the whole hog and the full course in the argument. However, I thought he was having a happy time—we all thoroughly enjoyed it—rather than expecting the very extreme arguments which he put forward to be taken too seriously by either side of the Committee.
I now come to the question of the City of London. As I have said, it was right that we should have the Debate on the two subjects together, because we cannot disentangle the City of London from the business problem. I do not need to repeat the sentiments which I expressed on the Second Reading of the Bill, and on the occasion that has often been quoted in 1944. I deeply regret the termination of the separate Parliamentary existence of the City of London. I have been listening with great care to the Debate in case arguments should arise which would give us a way out of the real difficulty that we face in relation to the City; because there are many good things to be said, both in the history of the City of London and in some of its practices, as there are some things to be said against the City of London. I agree with my hon. Friend the Member for Epping (Mrs. Manning) that the City was very fine in acquiring Epping Forest, and it was appropriate that she should have mentioned the point. It still maintains Epping Forest, and it has done many other things of a good character.
Of course, we are not abolishing the Corporation of London in this Bill, nor are we abolishing the Stock Exchange or the Bank of England or the Mansion House or the Guildhall—all these great historical and important places will remain. And because a place ceases to return separately a Member to this House it does not, so to speak, shake the word quite as much as it is being suggested it does. Therefore, the City in all its essentials will remain; the only change will be that it will be merged in Parliamentary representation with some territory outside the City. Sooner or later this situation was bound to arise, unless the business vote had been preserved, because as the City has developed it has become, inevitably I suppose, less and less residential and more and more business and commercial in character.
I myself have always been sorry that the ancient City, with its great municipal and other status, did not follow the normal course of municipalities in the provinces, the great county boroughs which, as the urban area grew, tended to extend their boundaries and to absorb the surrounding urban territory. I think it would have been a good thing in 1888 if the City had agreed to absorb the County of London and, instead of having the London County Council for the County, we had had the Corporation of the City of London for the whole of the County of London. I believe it would have been a good thing and, if it had happened, this problem of the non-separate representation of the City of London would not have arisen. However, those things did not occur, and it is possible to take two views about it: one, that the City has never sought municipally to absorb surrounding territory, and the other—perhaps it could be argued—is that it ought to have done, but took a more narrow view of its civic responsibilities and functions.
There it is, however, and we are involved this time with a single square mile which is limited in its population and is a very special part of London, although there are other parts of the County of London in the middle of London where, to some degree, the similar problem of depopulation has gone on and the extension of the business area has arisen. There are other parts of the central part of London which also are of great importance and are very well known in the world. It all depends on what sort of a person you are, and what you are up to, as to whether of a night or in the daylight at a week-end you absorb the dignified quietness of the narrow streets of the City of London—which is one of the most pleasant experiences to have—chinking in the history of the place, or whether you go to the other square mile which radiates from Piccadilly Circus, where there is life and amusement and restaurants——
I am glad the right hon. and gallant Member is showing signs of becoming human at last. He is showing signs of a smile. We are coming on fine. As to all these folk overseas who, it was alleged, have a deep affection for the City of London, I do not deny that. Many of them have, but I am bound to say that the same overseas people yesterday had all their affections centred upon the university Members of Parliament. Let me assure hon. Members that, while many of these people overseas, it is true, have a deep affection for the City of London, and when they wend their weary way home instinctively want to go to the City of London, there is an equal number who, when they wend their weary way home, wend their steps to Piccadilly Circus. The right hon. and gallant Gentleman is positively laughing now. I will go with the right hon. and gallant Gentleman. These affections, these sentiments, vary according to what one is used to. For example, I have an enormous emotional sentiment not only for the City of London, but for the East End of London. There is a beauty about it, and an attraction about it. [An HON. MEMBER: "And an affection for East Lewisham?"] Yes, and an affection for East Lewisham; which has character as well. I understand the feeling for the City of London, and can sympathise with it, but I wish hon. Members would equally understand that there is a very strong case for Shoreditch, for example, having a very strong sentiment about themselves. It is distinctive compared with the rest of the East End boroughs. So it is with Woolwich.
I am sure the right hon. Gentleman would like to deal with this point. Will he tell us why it was right in 1931 to leave the City with a business qualification, but wrong now? His own party were responsible then.
Oh yes, they had to approach with a good deal of caution and nervousness, and a lot of it was forced upon them, and some of it perhaps naturally on Ministers of that Government. For instance, we introduced the alternative vote, and that was understandable in the political circumstances of the time. But, if it is argued that we are bound to do in 1948 what we did in the circumstances of political compromise in the middle of a great war in 1944—[An HON. MEMBER: "In 1931."]—No, in 1944, in the Government of which the present Leader of the Opposition was Prime Minister. I do not think it any more reasonable to say that what we did as long ago as 1931 the Government should do in 1948. That is running Con- servative stick-in-the-mud doctrine too far. The truth is that the situation and the average ability of this Government are better than those of the Government of 1929–31. I say that although I have been a member of both Governments.
The City problem still remains; what can we do about it? I do not see what one can do, except to merge it with something else. As my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary said, we are perfectly willing to study the feelings of the City about what it shall be merged with, and also the feelings of those with whom it thinks it would be a good idea to merge. I do not blame the City, or City Members, for refusing to discuss that matter until the House have disposed of the main issue, but if there are feelings about that, we are perfectly willing to discuss the type of merger most acceptable to the City of London. As to separate existence, the fact remains that the electors who will survive under this Bill will be somewhere round about 4,600. In view of the slaughter that is happening to constituencies in the whole of London and constituencies contiguous to the City of London, including Bethnal Green, and Shoreditch—which is going to lose its Parliamentary identity, which is very dear to it and be merged with Finsbury, a very interesting operation just now—and in view of similar things which are happening to other constituencies around the City of London, it is quite impossible that we should say that the City has to be preserved on the basis of an electorate of 4,600 even though one does not like having to do it, and one feels sad and unhappy at it having to be done. If the figure were materially greater I would, for my own part, have been willing to agree to giving the City a preference of a material order. But the figure here is so dramatically lower that it is quite impossible to make the concession.
The right hon. Gentleman the junior Member for the City of London (Mr. Assheton) has been looking around for arguments, as was his duty, and he has put them before the House. He has put forward the argument that there are half a million people knocking about the City of London in the day time. [An HON. MEMBER: "Knocking about?"] Can I not engage in a little London language, as we are discussing the City of London? I dare say that worse English than mine is heard in the City of London. I am not sure that the figure of half a million is correct. When I was engaged in municipal affairs in London, we used to have a census of the City population now and again. My recollection is that it was about 300,000 or 350,000; I do not think it was any more.
This is really a ridiculous argument. It is plural voting in its most extreme and chaotic form. I can understand the administrative practicability of a business vote, an arrangement based upon property of some sort and the payment of a certain rent in respect of a certain class of property; it can be done, it is an administrative possibility. But if every Tom, Dick and Harry, all the good people of all sections of the community who work in the City of London day by day are to have the right to say "I opt to be a registered voter in the City of London and to de-register in my residential constituency," what sort of number of City electors will result? Is it to be an electorate of half a million? If so, what is to happen then? Are these people to have the right to register in the City in one register, to register outside the City in the following register, and to return to the next City register after that? What sort of political gerrymandering should we get there? One can visualise all the clever political agents moving their voters about in blocks. If all these registered voters among City people were known to be a given understandable type of Tory, I should be tempted about it. It would be tempting to divert them away from the residential areas.
But that is not the argument now. It is not the old business argument in this respect. I would only say that if everybody of adult age who works in the City were to have the right to register, registration would become an utterly chaotic business which it would be quite impossible to administer fairly and properly. The political and Parliamentary representation of the City would be far less coherent and dignified than it will be under the proposal in the Bill. Who would the Member represent? He really would not know. He would have this changing floating electorate, and he would never know to whom he was really responsible. It is a good "try" but it just does not stand up to examination.
Therefore, the conclusion must be reached, with regret as far as I and many others on this side of the Committee are concerned, that the time has come when the case for separate City representation has become impossible to defend, and that we must merge it as best we can with neighbouring territory and merge the electorate with neighbouring electors.
There is really nothing else to be said, so far as our side of the case is concerned, on the merits of the argument. There has been a good deal of time spent today—nearly as much as yesterday—on the question of what is known as good faith. I will only say that this matter has been argued inside out. There is no point in both sides of the Committee repeating the arguments. They have been heard, and the evidence has been given, and we must leave it to those who read Parliamentary Debates to form their own judgment. For myself, I am not afraid of that examination of the arguments which have been advanced. I merely wish to say again that we are not conscious of any bad faith—[HON. MEMBERS: "Oh"]—we are not conscious of any departure from any agreement. There is no point in merely repeating it, and there is no point in raking up the old history of the Conservative Party as to good faith and bad faith in the past. The arguments have been heard on both sides, and we do not accept the allegations of bad faith.
We believe that, on the merits of the case, it is right and inevitable that we should do what it is proposed shall be done about the City of London. The business vote is merely a class privilege vote, deliberately put into the electoral scales for the purpose of building up the political powers of a well-off section of the community and to strengthen the Conservative Party. It is time, and over time, that that monstrous electoral innovation was scrapped and terminated. Therefore, in the interests of equity and sound policy, we ask the House to reject the Amendment which has been moved.
|Division No. 98.||AYES.||[3.34 p.m.|
|Acland, Sir Richard||Fairhurst, F.||Mathers, Rt. Hon. George|
|Adams, Richard (Balham)||Farthing, W. J.||Mayhew, C. P|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Field, Capt. W. J||Mellish, R. J.|
|Alpass, J. H.||Foot, M. M.||Middleton, Mrs. L|
|Anderson, A. (Motherwell)||Forman J C.||Mikardo, Ian|
|Attewell, H. C.||Fraser, T. (Hamilton)||Morley, R.|
|Ayles, W. H.||Freeman, Peter (Newport)||Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)|
|Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B.||Gallacher, W.||Morrison, Rt. Hon H (Lewisham, E)|
|Bacon, Miss A.||Ganley, Mrs. C. S.||Mort, D. L|
|Balfour, A||George, Lady M Lloyd (Anglesey)||Moyle, A.|
|Barstow, P. G||Gibbins, J||Mulvey, A|
|Barton. C||Gibson, C. W.||Naylor, T. E.|
|Battley, J R||Gilzean, A||Nichol[...], H. R. (Stratford)|
|Bechervaise, A. E||Glanville, J. E. (Consett)||Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford)|
|Benson, G||Gordon-Walker, P. C.||O'Brien, T.|
|Berry, H.||Greenwood, A. W. J. (Haywood)||Oldfield, W. H.|
|Beswick, F.||Grenfell, D. R.||Orbach, M.|
|Bevin, Rt. Hon E. (Wandsworth, C.)||Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)||Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth)|
|Bing, G. H C.||Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side)||Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)|
|Binns, J.||Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil||Pargiter, G. A|
|Blackburn, A. R.||Hamilton, Lieut.-Col R[...]||Parker, J.|
|Blyton, W R.||Hannan, W (Maryhill)||Parkin, B. T.|
|Bottomley, A. G.||Hardy, E. A.||Paton, J. (Norwich)|
|Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W.||Harris, H. Wilson (Cambridge Univ)||Pearson, A.|
|Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)||Harrison, J.||Peart, T. F|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M (L'pl, Exch'ge)||Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Perrins, W|
|Braddock, T. (Milcham)||Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Kingswinford)||Piratin, P.|
|Bramall, E. A.||Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)||Poole, Cecil (Lichfield)|
|Brock, D (Halifax)||Hobson, C. R.||Porter, G. (Leeds)|
|Brown, George (Belper)||House, G.||Pritt, D. N.|
|Brown, T. J. (Ince)||Hoy, J.||Pryde, D. J.|
|Bruce, Maj. D. W. T||Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)||Pursey, Cmdr. H|
|Burke, W. A.||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayr)||Randall, H E|
|Byers, Frank||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Ranger, J.|
|Callaghan, James||Hughes, H. D. (W'lverh'pton, W)||Rankin, J.|
|Carmichael, James||Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)||Reeves, J.|
|Champion, A J.||Irvine, A. J. (Liverpool)||Raid, T. (Swindon)|
|Chater, D||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A||Richards, R.|
|Chetwynd, G. R||Janner, B.||Ridealgh, Mrs. M|
|Cluse, W. S.||Jay, D. P. T.||Robens, A.|
|Cobb, F. A.||Jeger, G. (Winchester)||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)|
|Cocks, F. S||Jeger, Dr. S. W. (St. Pancras, S.E.)||Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)|
|Collick, P.||Jones, D. T. (Hartlepool)||Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)|
|Collindridge, F||Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow)||Rogers, G. H. R.|
|Collins, V. J.||Keenan, W||Ross, William (Kilmarnock)|
|Colman, Miss G. M.||Kenyon, C.||Royle, C.|
|Comyns, Dr. L.||Key, C. W||Sargood, R|
|Cook, T. F.||Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E||Scollan, T|
|Cooper, Wing-Comdr, G.||Kinley, J.||Segal, Dr. S.|
|Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N.W)||Kirkwood, Rt. Hon. D||Shackleton, E. A. A|
|Corlett, Dr. J.||Lee, F. (Hulme)||Sharp, Granville|
|Cove, W. G.||Leonard, W.||Shurmer, P|
|Crawley, A.||Leslie, J. R.||Silverman J (Erdington)|
|Cunningham, P||Lever, N. H.||Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)|
|Daggar, G.||Levy, B. W.||Skeffington-Lodge, T. C|
|Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)||Skinnard, F. W|
|Davies, Edward (Burslem)||Lewis, J. (Bolton)||Smith, Ellis (Stoke)|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Lindgren, G. S.||Smith, H, N. (Nottingham, S.)|
|Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S.W.)||Lipson, D. L.||Snow, J. W|
|Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M.||Solley, L. J.|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Lyne, A. W.||Sorensen, R. W|
|de Freitas, Geoffrey||MeCallum, Maj. D||Sparks, J. A.|
|Diamond, J.||McEntee, V. La T||Stamford, W.|
|Dobbie, W.||McGhee, H. G.||Stokes, R. R.|
|Driberg, T. E. N||Mack, J. D.||Stross, Dr. B.|
|Dugdale, J. (W Bromwich)||McKay, J. (Wallsend)||Stubbs, A. E.|
|Dye, S.||Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N.W.)||Summerskill, Dr. Edith|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||McKinlay, A. S.||Swingler, S.|
|Edelman, M.||Maclean, N. (Govan)||Sylvester, G. O|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Sir C. (Bedwellty)||McLeavy, F.||Symonds, A. L.|
|Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)||MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, W.)||Mann, Mrs J.||Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)|
|Evans, John (Ogmore)||Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)||Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)|
|Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)||Marquand, H. A.||Thomas, Ivor (Keighley)|
|Ewart, R.||Marshall, F. (Brightside)||Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)|
|Thomas, George (Cardiff)||Walker, G H||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)||Warbey, W. N.||Williams, J. L. (Kelvingrove)|
|Thurtle, Ernest||Watkins, T. E.||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Tiffany, S.||Watson, W. M.||Willis, E.|
|Timmons, J.||Weitzman, D.||Wills, Mrs. E. A.|
|Titterington, M. F||Wells, P. L. (Faversham)||Wise, Major F. J.|
|Tolley, L.||Wells, W. T. (Walsall)||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G.||Westwood, Rt. Hon. J.||Woods, G. S.|
|Turner-Samuels, M.||Wheatley, John (Edinburgh, E.)||Yates, V. F.|
|Ungoed-Thomas, L||White, H. (Derbyshire, N.E.)||Younger, Hon. Kenneth|
|Usborne, Henry||Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.|
|Vernon, Maj. W. F.||Wilkes, L.||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Viant, S. P.||Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)||Mr. Simmons and Mr. Wilkins.|
|Wadsworth, G||Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)|
|Amory, D. Heathcoat||Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley)||Neill, W. F. (Belfast, N.)|
|Anderson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Scot. Univ.)||Harden, J. R. E.||Nicholson, G.|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R.||Hare, Hon. J. H. (Woodbridge)||Noble, Comdr. A. H. P|
|Astor, Hon. M.||Harvey, Air-Comdre, A. V.||Odey, G. W.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Haughton, S. G.||Orr-Ewing, I L.|
|Beamish, Maj. T. V. H.||Head, Brig. A. H||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.|
|Beechman, N. A||Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C.||Pickthorn, K.|
|Bennett, Sir P.||Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Ponsonby, Col. C. E.|
|Birch, Nigel||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Price-White, Lt.-Col. D|
|Boothby, R.||Hogg, Hon Q.||Ramsay, Maj. S.|
|Bower, N||Hope, Lord J.||Reed, Sir S. (Aylesbury)|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W.||Hutchison, Ll.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)||Reid, Rt Hon. J. S. C (Hillhead)|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T.||Jennings, R.||Renton, D.|
|Bullock, Capt. M||Keeling, E. H.||Roberts, H. (Handsworth)|
|Butcher, H. W||Kingsmill, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Robinson, Roland|
|Carson, E.||Lambert, Hon. G.||Ross, Sir R. D. (Londond)|
|Challen, C.||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Sanderson, Sir F.|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. W. S.||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.||Savory, Prof. D. L.|
|Cole, T. L.||Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Scott, Lord W.|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.||Shephard, S. (Newark)|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E||MacAndrew, Col. Sir C||Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W.|
|Crowder, Capt. John E.||McCallum, Maj. D.||Smithers, Sir W.|
|Cuthbert, W. N.||Macdonald, Sir P. ([...]. of Wight)||Snadden, W. M.|
|Darling, Sir W. Y.||McFarlane, C. S.||Spence, H R.|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D||Mackeson, Brig. H. R.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. O.|
|Donner, P. W.||McKie, J. H. (Galloway)||Stewart, J. Henderson (Fife, E.)|
|Drayson, G. B.||Maclay, Hon. J. S.||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Drewe, C||Maclean, F H. R||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond)||MacLeod, J.||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A. (P'dd't'n, S)|
|Fleming, Sqn.-Ldr. E. L.||Macpherson, N. (Dumfries)||Teeling, William|
|Fletcher, W (Bury)||Manningham-Buller, R. E.||Thorp, Brigadier, R. A. F.|
|Fraser, H. C. P. (Stone)||Marlowe, A. A. H||Wakefield, Sir W. W|
|Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale)||Marples, A. E.||Wheatley, Colonel M. J. (Dorset, E.)|
|Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P. M||Marsden, Capt. A.||Williams, C. (Torquay)|
|Gage, C.||Marshall, D. (Bodmin)||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Galbraith, Cmdr. T D||Mellor, Sir J.||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Gammans, L. D.||Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir T|
|Glyn, Sir R.||Morris-Jones, Sir H.||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.||Morrison, Rt. Hon. W S (Cirencester)||Mr. Studholme and|
|Grant, Lady||Mott-Radclyffe, C. E.||Major Conant.|
|Grimston, R. V||Mullan, Lt. C. H.|
Motion made, and Question "That the Chairman do now leave the Chair"[Mr. Whitley]—put and agreed to.
|Division No. 99.||AYES.||[10.3 p.m.|
|Agnew, Cmdr. P. G||Hare, Hon J H. (Woodbridge)||Nicholson, G.|
|Aitken, Hon. Max||Harris, F. W. (Croydon, N.)||Nield, B. (Chester)|
|Amory, D. Heathcoat||Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V||Noble, Comdr A. H. P|
|Anderson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Scot Univ.)||Haughton, S. G.||Odey, G. W|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R.||Head, Brig. A. H.||Orr-Ewing, I. L.|
|Astor, Hon M.||Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon Sir C.||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Peto, Brig C H. M|
|Barlow, Sir J||Herbert, Sir A. P.||Pickthorn, K.|
|Baxter, A B.||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount||Pitman, I. J|
|Beamish, Maj. T. V. H.||Hogg, Hon. Q||Ponsonby, Col. C. E|
|Beechman, N. A||Hope, Lord J||Prescott, Stanley|
|Bennett, Sir P.||Howard, Hon. A.||Price-White, Lt.-Col. D|
|Birch, Nigel||Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S (Southport)||Raikes, H. V.|
|Boles, Lt-Col. D. C. (Wells)||Hulbert, Wing-Cdr N J||Ramsay, Maj. S.|
|Boothby, R.||Hutchison, LI.-Cm Clark (E'b'rgh W.)||Reed, Sir S. (Aylesbury)|
|Bossom, A. C.||Jarvis, Sir J.||Reid, Rt. Hon. J. S. C (Hillhead)|
|Bower, N||Jeffreys, General Sir G||Ronton, D.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Jennings, R.||Roberts, H. (Handsworth)|
|Bracken, Rt. Hon. Brendan||Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W||Roberts, P. G. (Ecclesall)|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W||Keeling, E. H.||Robertson, Sir D. (Streatham)|
|Brown, W. J. (Rugby)||Kingsmill, Lt.-Col. W. H||Robinson, Roland|
|Bullock, Capt M.||Lambert, Hon. G.||Ropner, Col. L.|
|Butcher, H. W.||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Ross, Sir R. D. (Londonderry)|
|Butler, Rt. Hon. R. A. (S'ffr'n W'ld'n)||Langford-Holt, J.||Salter, Rt. Hon. Sir J. A|
|Carson, E.||Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.||Sanderson, Sir F.|
|Challen, C||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H||Savory, Prof. D. L|
|Channon, H.||Lennox-Boyd, A. T.||Scott, Lord W.|
|Clarke, Col R. S.||Lindsay, M. (Solihull)||Shephard, S. (Newark)|
|Clifton-Browne, Lt.-Col. G.||Linstead, H. N.||Shepherd, W S. (Bucklow)|
|Cole, T. L.||Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W.|
|Conant, Maj. R. J. E.||Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral)||Smith, E. P (Ashford)|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Low, A. R. W.||Snadden, W M.|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C.||Lucas, Major Sir J.||Spearman, A. C. M.|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E||Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.||Spence, H. R|
|Crowder, Capt. John E.||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O||Stanley, Rt. Hon. O.|
|Cuthbert, W. N.||MacAndrew, Col. Sir C||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.|
|Darling, Sir W. Y||McCallum, Maj. D.||Strauss, H. G. (English Universities)|
|Davidson, Viscountess||McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.||Studholme, H. G|
|De la Bère, R.||Macdonald, Sir P. (I. of Wight)||Sutcliffe, H.|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D.||McFarlane, C. S.||Taylor, C. S. (Eastbourne)|
|Donner, P W.||Mackeson, Brig. H. R.||Taylor, Vice-Adm. E. A (P dd't n.[...] S.)|
|Dower, Col. A. V. G. (Penrith)||McKie, J. H. (Galloway)||Teeling, William|
|Dower, E. L. G. (Caithness)||Maclay, Hon. J. S||Thomas, J. P L. (Hereford)|
|Drayson, G. B.||Maclean, F H. R.||Thorneycroft, G. E. P (Monmouth)|
|Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond)||MacLeod, J.||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N.|
|Duthie, W. S.||Macmillan, Rt. Hon. Harold (Bromley)||Thorp, Brigadier, R. A. F|
|Eccles, D. M.||Macpherson, N. (Dumfries)||Touche, G. C|
|Elliot, Lieut.-Col., Rt. Hon. W||Manningham-Buller, R. E||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Erroll, F J.||Marlowe, A. A. H.||Wakefield, Sir W. W|
|Fleming, Sqn.-Ldr. E. L||Marples, A. E.||Walker-Smith, O|
|Fletcher, W (Bury)||Marsden, Capt. A.||Ward, Hon. G. R.|
|Foster, J. G. (Northwich)||Marshall, D. (Bodmin)||Watt, Sir G. S. Harvie|
|Fox, Sir G.||Marshall, S. H. (Sutton)||Webbe, Sir H. (Abbey)|
|Fraser, H. C P. (Stone)||Maude, J. C.||Wheatley, Colonel M. J. (Dorset, E.)|
|Fraser, Sir I (Lonsdale)||Medlicott, Brigadier F||White, Sir D. (Fareham)|
|Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P. M.||Mellor, Sir J.||White, J. B. (Canterbury)|
|Gage, C.||Molson, A. H. E.||Williams, C (Torquay)|
|Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D.||Moore, Lt.-Col. Sir T.||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Gammans, L. D.||Morris-Jones, Sir H||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Glyn, Sir R.||Morrison, Maj. J. G. (Salisbury)||Winterton, Rt. Hon. Earl|
|Gomme-Duncan, Col A||Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S (Cirencester)||York, C.|
|Grant, Lady||Mott-Radclyffe, C E||Young, Sir A S. L (Partick)|
|Grimston, R. V.||Mullan, Lt. C H.|
|Hannon, Sir P. (Moseley)||Neill, W. F. (Belfast, N.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Harden, J R. E.||Neven-Spence, Sir B.||Mr. Buchan-Hepburn and|
|Acland, Sir Richard||Baird, J.||Boardman, H.|
|Adams, Richard (Balham)||Balfour, A||Bottomley, A. G|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V.||Barnes, Rt. Hon. A. J||Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W.|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Barstow, P. G.||Bowles, F G. (Nuneaton)|
|Alpass, J. H.||Barton, C||Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl, Exch'ge)|
|Anderson, A. (Motherwell)||Bechervaise, A. E.||Braddock, T. (Mitcham)|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Bramall, E A.|
|Attewell, H. C.||Benson, G.||Brook, D. (Halifax)|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R||Berry, H.||Brooks, T. J. (Rothwell)|
|Austin, H. Lewis||Beswick, F||Brown, George (Belper)|
|Ayles, W. H.||Binns, J||Brown, T. J. (Ince)|
|Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B||Blackburn, A. R||Bruce, Maj. D. W. T.|
|Bacon, Miss A.||Blenkinsop, A.||Buchanan, Rt. Hon. G|
|Burden, T W.||Hastings, Dr. Somerville||Oldfield, W. H.|
|Burke, W. A.||Haworth, J.||Oliver, G. H|
|Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)||Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Kingswinford)||Orbach, M.|
|Byers, Frank||Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)||Paget, R. T.|
|Callaghan, James||Herbison, Miss M||Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth)|
|Carmichael, James||Hobson, C. R||Paling, Will T (Dewsbury)|
|Chamberlain, R. A||Holman, P||Palmer, A. M. F|
|Champion, A. J.||House, G.||Pargiter, G A|
|Chater, D.||Hoy, J.||Parker, J.|
|Chetwynd, G. R||Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)||Parkin, B. T.|
|Cluse, W. S.||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayr)||Paton, J. (Norwich)|
|Cobb, F. A.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Pearson, A.|
|Cocks, F. S||Hughes, H. D. (W'lverh'pton, W)||Peart, T. F.|
|Coldrick, W.||Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)||Perrins, W.|
|Collindridge, F.||Irvine, A. J. (Liverpool)||Platts-Mills, J. F. F|
|Collins, V. J.||Irving, W. J. (Tottenham, N.)||Poole, Cecil (Lichfield)|
|Colman, Miss G. M.||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A||Porter, G. (Leeds)|
|Comyns, Dr. L.||Janner, B.||Price, M. Philips|
|Cook, T. F.||Jay, D. P. T.||Proctor, W T.|
|Cooper, Wing-Comdr, G.||Jeger, G. (Winchester)||Pryde, D. J.|
|Corbel, Mrs F. K. (Camb'well, N.W)||Jeger, Dr. S. W (St. Pancras, S.E.)||Pursey, Cmdr. H|
|Corlett, Dr. J.||Jones, Rt. Hon. A. C. (Shipley)||Randall, H. E.|
|Cove, W. G.||Jones, D. T. (Hartlepool)||Ranger, J|
|Cunningham, P.||Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow)||Rankin, J.|
|Daggar, G.||Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)||Rees-Williams, D. R|
|Daines, P.||Keenan, W||Reeves, J|
|Davies, Edward (Burslem)||Kendall, W. D||Reid, T (Swindon)|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield)||Kenyon, C.||Richards, R.|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Key, C. W.||Ridealgh, Mrs. M|
|Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S.W.)||King, E M.||Robens, A.|
|Davies, R J. (Westhoughton)||Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr E.||Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)|
|Davies, S. O. (Merthyr)||Kinley, J.||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)|
|de Freitas, Geoffrey||Kirkwood, Rt. Hon. D.||Roberts, W. (Cumberland, N.)|
|Diamond, J.||Lawson, Rt. Hon. J. J||Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)|
|Dobbie, W.||Lee, F. (Hulme)||Rogers, G. H. R.|
|Dodds, N. N||Lee, Miss J. (Cannock)||Ross, William (Kilmarnock)|
|Donovan, T.||Leonard, W||Royle, C.|
|Driberg, T. E. N.||Leslie, J. R.||Sargood, R.|
|Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich)||Levy, B. W.||Segal, Dr. S|
|Dumpleton, C. W,||Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)||Shackleton, E. A. A|
|Dye, S.||Lewis, J. (Bolton)||Sharp, Granville|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Lewis, T. (Southampton)||Shawcross, C N. (Widnes)|
|Edelman, M.||Lindgren, G. S.||Shawcross, Rt. Hn. Sir H (St Helens)|
|Edwards, John (Blackburn)||Lipson, D. L.||Shurmer, P|
|Edwards, W. J (Whitechapel)||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M||Silkin, Rt. Hon. L.|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, W.)||Longden, F||Silverman, [...] (Erdington)|
|Evans, John (Ogmore)||Lyne, A. W.||Simmons, C. J.|
|Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)||McAdam, W.||Skeffington, A. M.|
|Ewart, R.||McEntee, V La T.||Skinnard, F. W|
|Fairhurst, F.||McGhee, H. G.||Smith, C. (Colchester)|
|Farthing, W J.||Mack, J. D.||Smith, E. P. (Ashford)|
|Fernyhough, E.||McKay, J. (Wallsend)||Smith, Ellis (Stoke)|
|Field, Capt. W. J.||Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N. W.)||Smith, H. N. (Nottingham, S.)|
|Fletcher, E. G. M. (Islington, E.)||McKinlay, A. S.||Solley, L. J.|
|Follick, M.||Maclean, N. (Govan)||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Foot, M. M.||McLeavy, F.||Soskice, Sir Frank|
|Forman, J. C.||MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)||Sparks, J. A.|
|Fraser, T. (Hamilton)||McNeil, Rt. Hon. H||Stamford, W.|
|Freeman, Peter (Newport)||Mann, Mrs. J.||Steele, T|
|Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.||Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)|
|Gallacher, W.||Marquand, H. A.||Stross, Dr B.|
|Ganley, Mrs. C. S.||Marshall, F (Brightside)||Stubbs, A. E.|
|George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey)||Mathers, Rt. Hon. George||Summerskill, Dr Edith|
|Gibbins, J.||Mayhew, C. P.||Swingler, S.|
|Gibson, C. W.||Mellish, R. J.||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Gilzean, A||Messer, F.||Symonds, A. L|
|Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)|
|Glanville, J. E. (Consett)||Middleton, Mrs. L||Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)|
|Gooch, E. G.||Mikardo, Ian||Thomas, D. E. (Aberdare)|
|Gordon-Walker, P. C.||Mitchison, G. R||Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)|
|Greenwood, A. W. J. (Heywood)||Monslow, W.||Thomas, George (Cardiff)|
|Grenfell, D. R.||Moody, A. S||Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)|
|Grey, C. F.||Morley, R.||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Griffiths, D. (Rother Valley)||Morgan, Dr. H. B.||Tiffany, S.|
|Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side)||Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)||Timmons, J.|
|Guest, Dr. L. Haden||Morrison, Rt. Hon. H. (Lewisham, E.)||Titterington, M. F|
|Guy, W. H.||Mort, D. L.||Tolley, L.|
|Haire, John E. (Wycombe)||Moyle, A.||Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G|
|Hale, Leslie||Mulvey, A.||Turner-Samuels, M|
|Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil||Murray, J D.||Ungoed-Thomas, L|
|Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R||Naylor, T. E.||Usborne, Henry|
|Hannan, W. (Maryhill)||Neal, H. (Claycross)||Vernon, Maj. W. F|
|Hardman, D. R||Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)||Viant, S. P|
|Hardy, E. A.||Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford)||Wadsworth, G|
|Harrison, J.||O'Brien, T.||Walkden, E.|
|Walker, G. H.||Wigg, George||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J. H|
|Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)||Wilcock, Group-Capt. C. A. B.||Wise, Major F. J.|
|Warbey, W N.||Wilkes, L.||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A|
|Watkins, T. E.||Willey, F. T. (Sunderland)||Woods, G. S.|
|Watson, W. M.||Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)||Wyatt, W|
|Weitzman, D.||Williams, D. J. (Neath)||Yates, V. F.|
|Wells, P. L. (Faversham)||Williams, J. L, (Kelvingrove)||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Wells, W. T. (Walsall)||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)||Younger, Hon. Kenneth|
|Westwood, Rt. Hon. J.||Williams, R. W. (Wigan)|
|Wheatley, John (Edinburgh, E.)||Williams, W. R (Heston)||TELLERS. FOR THE NOES:|
|White, H. (Derbyshire, N. E.)||Willis, E.||Mr. Snow and Mr. Wilkins|
|Whiteley, Rt. Hon. W.||Wills, Mrs. E A.|
|Division No. 100.||AYES.||[l0.17 p.m.|
|Acland, Sir Richard||Corlett, Dr. J.||Hardy, E. A.|
|Adams, Richard (Balham)||Cove, W. G.||Harrison, J.|
|Alexander, Rt. Hon. A. V||Cunningham, P||Hastings, Dr. Somerville|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Daggar, G.||Haworth J.|
|Alpass, J. H.||Daines, P.||Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Kingswinford)|
|Anderson, A. (Motherwell)||Davies, Edward (Burslem)||Henderson, Joseph (Ardwick)|
|Anderson, F. (Whitehaven)||Davies, Ernest (Enfield)||Herbison, Miss M.|
|Attewell, H. C.||Davies, Harold (Leek)||Hobson, C. R|
|Attlee, Rt. Hon. C. R||Davies, Haydn (St. Pancras, S.W.)||Holman, P.|
|Austin, H. Lewis||Davies, R. J. (Westhoughton)||House, G.|
|Ayles, W. H.||Davies, S O. (Merthyr)||Hoy, J.|
|Ayrton Gould, Mrs. B||de Freitas, Geoffrey||Hudson, J. H. (Ealing, W.)|
|Bacon, Miss A||Diamond, J.||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayr)|
|Baird, J.||Dobbie, W.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)|
|Balfour, A.||Dodds, N. N||Hughes, H. D. (W'lverh'pton[...])|
|Barnes Rt. Hon A. J||Donovan, T.||Hynd, H. (Hackney, C.)|
|Barslow, P. G.||Driberg, T. E. N||Irvine, A. J. (Liverpool)|
|Barton, C||Dugdale, J. (W. Bromwich)||Irving, W. J. (Tottenham, N.)|
|Battley, J. R||Dumpleton, C W.||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A|
|Bechervaise, A. E||Dye, S.||Janner, B.|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||Jay, D. P. T.|
|Benson, G.||Edelman, M.||Jeger, G. (Winchester)|
|Berry, H||Edwards, John (Blackburn)||Jeger, Dr. S. W (St. Pancras, S. E.)|
|Beswick, F||Edwards, W. J. (Whitechapel)||Jones, Rt. Hon. A. C. (Shipley)|
|Binns, J.||Evans, Albert (Islington, W.)||Jones, D. T. (Hartlepool)|
|Blackburn. A. R||Evans, John (Ogmore)||Jones, Elwyn (Plaistow)|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Evans, S. N. (Wednesbury)||Jones, P. Asterley (Hitchin)|
|Boardman, H.||Ewart, R.||Keenan, W.|
|Bottomley, A. G.||Fairhurst, F.||Kendall, W. D|
|Bowden, Flg.-Offr. H. W.||Farthing, W. J.||Kenyon, C|
|Bowles, F. G. (Nuneaton)||Fernyhough, E||King, E. M.|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M. (L'pl, Exch'ge)||Field, Capt. W. J||Kinghorn, Sqn.-Ldr. E|
|Braddock, T. (Mitcham)||Fletcher, E. G M. (Islington, E.)||Kinley, J.|
|Bramall, E. A.||Follick, M.||Kirkwood, Rt. Hon D|
|Brook, D. (Halifax)||Foot, M. M||Lee, F. (Hulme)|
|Brooks, T J. (Rothwell)||Forman, J. C||Lee, Miss J. (Cannock)|
|Brown, George (Belper)||Fraser, T (Hamilton)||Leonard, W|
|Brown, T. J. (Ince)||Freeman, Peter (Newport)||Leslie, J R.|
|Bruce, Maj. D. W. T||Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T N||Levy, B. W.|
|Buchanan, Rt. Hon. G||Gallacher, W.||Lewis, A. W. J. (Upton)|
|Burden, T W||Ganley, Mrs. C. S.||Lewis, J. (Bolton)|
|Burke, W. A||George, Lady M. Lloyd (Anglesey)||Lewis, T. (Southampton)|
|Butler, H. W. (Hackney, S.)||Gibbins, J.||Lindgren, G. S|
|Byers, Frank||Gibson, C. W||Lipson, D. L.|
|Callaghan, James||Gilzean, A.||Lipton, Lt.-Col. M|
|Carmichael, James||Glanville, J. E. (Consett)||Longden, F.|
|Chamberlain, R. A||Gooch, E. G.||Lyne, A. W|
|Champion, A. J||Gordon-Walker, P. C.||McAdam, W|
|Chetwynd, G R||Greenwood, A W J. (Heywood)||McEntee, V La T|
|Cluse, W. S||Grenfell, D. R||McGhee, H. G.|
|Cobb, F. A||Grey, C F||Mack, J. D.|
|Cocks, F. S||Griffiths, D. (Rother Va[...]||McKay, J. (Wallsend)|
|Coldrick, W||Griffiths, W. D. (Moss Side)||Mackay, R. W. G. (Hull, N. W.)|
|Collindridge, F||Guest, Dr. L. Haden||McKinlay, A. S.|
|Collins, V. J.||Guy, W. H.||Maclean, N. (Govan)|
|Colman, Miss G. M.||Haire, John E (Wycombe)||McLeavy, F.|
|Comyns, Dr. L||Hale, Leslie||MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)|
|Cook, T. F.||Hall, Rt. Hon. Glenvil||McNeil, Rt. Hon. H.|
|Cooper, Wing-Comdr. G.||Hamilton, Lieut.-Col. R||Mann, Mrs. J.|
|Corbet, Mrs. F. K. (Camb'well, N. W.)||Hannan, W. (Maryhill)||Manning, Mrs. L. (Epping)|
|Marquand, H. A.||Rankin, J.||Thorneycroft, Harry (Clayton)|
|Marshall, F. (Brightside)||Rees-Williams, D. R||Thurtle, Ernest|
|Mathers, Rt. Hon George||Reeves, J.||Tiffany, S.|
|Mayhew, C P.||Reid, T (Swindon)||Timmons, J|
|Mellish, R. J.||Richards, R.||Titterington, M F|
|Middleton, Mrs. L||Ridealgh, Mrs. M.||Tolley, L.|
|Mikardo, Ian||Robens, A.||Tomlinson, Rt. Hon. G|
|Mitchison, G. R.||Roberts, Emrys (Merioneth)||Turner-Samuels, M|
|Monslow, W.||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvonshire)||Ungoed-Thomas, L|
|Moody, A. S.||Roberts, W (Cumberland, N.)||Usborne, Henry|
|Morley, R.||Robertson, J. J. (Berwick)||Vernon, Maj. W. F|
|Morgan, Dr. H. B.||Rogers, G. H. R.||Viant, S P|
|Morris, P. (Swansea, W.)||Ross, William (Kilmarnock)||Wadsworth, G|
|Morrison, Rt. Hon H (Lewisham, E.)||Royle, C.||Walkden, E.|
|Mort, D. L.||Sargood, R.||Walker, G. H.|
|Moyle, A.||Segal, Dr. S.||Wallace, G. D. (Chislehurst)|
|Mulvey, A.||Shackleton, E. A. A||Warbey, W. N.|
|Murray, J. D.||Sharp, Granville||Watkins, T. E.|
|Naylor, T. E.||Shawcross, C N. (Widnes)||Watson, W M.|
|Neal, H. (Claycross)||Shawcross, Rt. Hn. Sir H (St. Helens)||Weitzman, D.|
|Nicholls, H. R. (Stratford)||Shurmer, P||Wells, P. L. (Faversham)|
|Noel-Baker, Capt. F. E. (Brentford)||Silkin, Rt. Hon. L||Wells, W. T. (Walsall)|
|O'Brien, T.||Silverman, J. (Erdington)||Westwood, Rt. Hon J.|
|Oldfield, W. H.||Silverman, S. S. (Nelson)||Wheatley, John (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Oliver, G. H||Simmons, C J.||White, H. (Derbyshire, N. E)|
|Orbach, M.||Skinnard, F. W||Whiteley, Rt. Hon W|
|Paget, R. T.||Smith, C. (Colchester)||Wigg, George|
|Paling, Rt. Hon. Wilfred (Wentworth)||Smith, Ellis (Stoke)||Wilkes, L.|
|Paling, Will T. (Dewsbury)||Smith, H N. (Nottingham, S.)||Willey, F. T (Sunderland)|
|Palmer, A. M. F.||Solley, L J||Willey, O. G. (Cleveland)|
|Pargiter, G. A.||Sorensen, R. W.||Williams, D. J. (Neath)|
|Parker, J.||Soskice, Sir Frank||Williams, J L. (Kelvingrove)|
|Parkin, B. T.||Sparks, J A||Williams, Rt. Hon. T (Don Valley)|
|Paton, J. (Norwich)||Stamford, W||Williams, R. W. (Wigan)|
|Pearson, A.||Steele, T.||Williams, W. R. (Heston)|
|Pearl, T. F.||Stewart, Michael (Fulham, E.)||Willis, E.|
|Perrins, W.||Stross, Dr. B.||Wills, Mrs. E. A.|
|Plaits-Mills, J. F. F||Stubbs, A. E.||Wilson, Rt. Hon. J H|
|Poole, Cecil (Lichfield)||Summerskill, Dr. Edith||Wise, Major F. J|
|Porter, G. (Leeds)||Swingler, S.||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A|
|Price, M. Philips||Sylvester, G. O||Woods, G. S|
|Pritt, D N.||Symonds, A. L.||Wyatt, W.|
|Proctor, W. T||Taylor, R. J. (Morpeth)||Yates, V. F.|
|Pryde, D. J.||Taylor, Dr. S. (Barnet)||Young, Sir R. (Newton)|
|Pursey, Cmdr. H||Thomas, D E. (Aberdare)||Younger, Hon. Kenneth|
|Randall, H. E||Thomas, I. O. (Wrekin)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Ranger, J.||Thomas, George (Cardiff)||Mr. Snow and Mr. Wilkins.|
|Aitken, Hon. Max||Cuthbert, W. N.||Headlam, Lieut.-Col. Rt. Hon. Sir C|
|Amory, D. Heathcoat||Darling, Sir W. Y||Henderson, John (Cathcart)|
|Anderson, Rt. Hn. Sir J. (Scot. Univ.)||Davidson, Viscountess||Herbert, Sir A. P.|
|Assheton, Rt. Hon. R.||De la Bère, R.||Hinchingbrooke, Viscount|
|Astor, Hon. M||Dodds-Parker, A D.||Hogg, Hon. Q.|
|Baldwin, A. E.||Dower, Col. A. V G. (Penrith)||Hope, Lord J.|
|Barlow, Sir J||Dower, E. L. G. (Caithness)||Howard, Hon. A.|
|Baxter, A B.||Drayson, G. B||Hudson, Rt. Hon. R. S. (Southport)|
|Beamish, Maj. T. V. H.||Dugdale, Maj. Sir T. (Richmond)||Hulbert, Wing-Cdr. N. J|
|Bennett, Sir P.||Duthie, W. S.||Hutchison, Lt.-Cm. Clark (E'b'rgh W.)|
|Birch, Nigel||Eccles, D. M.||Jarvis, Sir J.|
|Boles, Lt.-Col. D. C. (Wells)||Elliot, Lieut-Col., Rt. Hon. W||Jeffreys, General Sir G|
|Boothby, R.||Erroll, F. J.||Jennings, R.|
|Bossom, A. C.||Fleming, Sqn.-Ldr. E. L||Joynson-Hicks, Hon. L. W.|
|Bower, N.||Fletcher, W (Bury)||Keeling, E. H.|
|Boyd-Carpenter, J. A.||Foster, J. G. (Northwich)||Kingsmill, Lt.-Col. W. H.|
|Bracken, Rt. Hon. Brendan||Fox, Sir G.||Lambert, Hon. G.|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col W||Fraser, H. C. P. (Stone)||Langford-Holt, J.|
|Brown, W. J. (Rugby)||Fraser, Sir I. (Lonsdale)||Law, Rt. Hon. R. K.|
|Buchan-Hepburn, P. G. T||Fyfe, Rt. Hon. Sir D. P M||Legge-Bourke, Maj. E. A. H.|
|Bullock, Capt. M.||Gage, C.||Lennox-Boyd, A. T.|
|Butcher, H. W.||Galbraith, Cmdr. T. D.||Lindsay, M. (Solihull)|
|Butler, Rt. Hon R. A. (S'ffr'n W'ld'n)||Gammans, L. D.||Linstead, H. N.|
|Carson, E.||Glyn, Sir R.||Lloyd, Maj. Guy (Renfrew, E.)|
|Challen, C.||Gomme-Duncan, Col. A.||Lloyd, Selwyn (Wirral)|
|Channon, H.||Grant, Lady||Low, A. R. W.|
|Clarke, Col. R. S.||Grimston, R. V.||Lucas, Major Sir J.|
|Clifton-Browne, Lt.-Col. G.||Harmon, Sir P. (Moseley)||Lucas-Tooth, Sir H.|
|Cole, T. L||Harden, J R. E.||Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. O.|
|Conant, Maj. R. J, E.||Hare, Hon J. H. (Woodbridge)||MacAndrew, Col. Sir C.|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Harris, F. W. (Croydon, N.)||McCallum, Maj. D.|
|Crookshank, Capt. Rt. Hon. H. F. C||Harvey, Air-Comdre. A. V.||McCorquodale, Rt. Hon. M. S.|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Haughton, S. G.||Macdonald, Sir P. (I. of Wight)|
|Crowder, Capt. John E.||Head, Brig. A. H.||McFarlane, C. S.|
|Mackeson, Brig H. R||Orr-Ewing, I. L||Spence, H R|
|McKie, J H (Galloway)||Peake, Rt. Hon. O.||Stanley, Rt. Hon. O.|
|Maclay, Hon J. S||Peto, Brig C H M||Stoddart-Scott, Col. M.|
|Maclean, F H [...]||Pickthorn, K||Strauss, H G (English Universities)|
|MacLeod, J||Pitman, I J.||Sutcliffe, H|
|Macmillan Rt Hon Harold (Bromley)||Ponsonby, Col C. E||Taylor, C. S (Eastbourne)|
|Macpherson, N (Dumfries)||Prescott, Stanley||Taylor, Vice-Adm E A (P'dd t'n, S.)|
|Manningham-Buller R E||Price-White, Lt.-Col O.||Teeling, William|
|Marlowe, A A H||Raikes, H V||Thomas, J. P L (Hereford)|
|Marples, A E||Ramsay, Maj S||Thorneycroft, G. E. P (Monmouth)|
|Marsden, Capt A||Reed, Sir S (Aylesbury)||Thornton-Kemsley, C. N|
|Marshall, D (Bodmin)||Reid, Rt Hon J S C (Hillhead)||Thorp, Brigadier, R. A F|
|Marshall, S H (Sutton)||Renton, D||Touche, G. C|
|Maude, J C||Roberts, H (Handsworth)||Vane, W. M. F.|
|Medlicott, Brigadier F||Roberts, P G (Ecclesall)||Wakefield, Sir W W|
|Mellor, Sir J||Robertson, Sir D (Streatham)||Walker-Smith, D|
|Molson, A H E||Robinson, Roland||Ward, Hon G R|
|Moore, Lt.-Col Sir T||Ropner, Col L||Watt, Sir G S Harvie|
|Morris-Jones, Sir H||Ross, Sir R D (Londonderry)||Webbe, Sir H (Abbey)|
|Morrison, Maj J G (Salisbury)||Salter, Rt Hon. Sir J A||Wheatley, Colonel M J (Dorset, E.)|
|Morrison, Rt. Hon. W. S. (Cirencester)||Sanderson, Sir F.||White, Sir D (Fareham)|
|Mott-Radclyffe, C E||Savory, Prof D. L||While, J B (Canterbury)|
|Mullan, Lt C H.||Scott, Lord W||Williams, C (Torquay)|
|Neill, W F (Belfast, N.)||Shephard, S (Newark)||Williams, Gerald (Tonbridge)|
|Neven-Spence, Sir B||Shepherd, W S. (Bucklow)||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Nicholson, G||Smiles, Lt.-Col. Sir W.||York, C|
|Nield, B (Chester)||Smith, E P (Ashford)||Young, Sir A S L (Partick)|
|Noble, Comdr A. H. P.||Snadden, W M|
|Odey, G W||Spearman, A. C M||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Mr. Drewe ond Mr. Studholme.|
Question put, and agreed to.
On a point of Order. I should like to refer to the following Amendment which stands in the names of my right hon. Friend the Member for Antrim (Sir H. O'Neill), myself and several other hon. Members—in page 2, line 3, at end, insert:
Provided also that in Northern Ireland no person shall be entitled to vote at a parliamentary election unless he has resided in the constituency for a period of at least three months immediately preceding the qualifying date.
This raises a very important point on a matter which is recognised as being one in which the position of Northern Ireland is distinguishable from that of Great Britain. This Bill makes large alterations in the law, and I would ask your guidance, Major Milner, as to why this Amendment was not selected and whether it will come on somewhere else. It deals with the proviso of restricting the register, and, with great respect, I am rather at a loss to know why it is inappropriate to discuss it at this time. Obviously, it must be discussed at some time. It may be necessary, in view of your ruling, to discuss it on the Motion "that the Clause stand part of the Bill.".
The hon. Member knows it is unusual for the Chairman to give any reason for not selecting an Amendment. I have formed the opinion that this particular Amendment, if it is to be discussed at all, had better be put down in the form of a new Clause. I understood the hon. Member and his friends have been so advised. I suggest that course to him.
I have an Amendment on the Paper—in page 1, line 17, leave out "full," and insert "eighteen years of." It was impossible for me to get through to the Chamber. I went round the Lobby and waited until the door was unlocked and as soon as I came in I heard my name called and made a run to my seat.
I am sorry I missed my Amendment, but in discussing this Clause, I think it would be desirable if the Home Secretary would agree that between now and the Report stage he would look at the Clause and see whether it is not desirable to give the lads of 18 a vote. I do not want to take up time at this late hour, but yesterday or the day before attention was drawn to the fact that a number of young lads of 18 years had been sent to the Middle East. There was some question whether they would go to Palestine. Young lads are being sent away to protect and care for the interests of this country, possibly to the danger zone of Palestine. Surely, the Home Secretary, particularly after the discussion yesterday and the day before and the arguments put as to the undesirability of certain types of votes, should recognise that these young people of 18 years of age who have to face the responsibilities of life should be brought as speedily as possible into the political life of the country. I would ask the Home Secretary, in view of the fact that I missed the opportunity of putting my Amendment through no fault of my own, to give some consideration to this question between now and the Report stage.
I regret also that the hon. Member was prevented from being in his place to move the Amendment when his name was called. But I can hold out no hope that the Government will be prepared to consider this Amendment when we get to a later stage of the Bill. Our view is that 21 years of age is the appropriate age for people to undertake the duties of citizenship. It requires a certain amount of maturity and experience, and we feel the long-established practice in this country of regarding 21 as a suitable age should be continued.
There is a question I would like to ask the Home Secretary about this Clause. At the beginning it says:
There shall for the purpose of parliamentary elections be the county and borough constituencies.
But there is no definition of what is a county constituency and what is a borough constituency. If we look at the Schedule in which is set out all the county and borough constituencies, there seems to be no particular principle on which the Boundary Commission has acted in classifying constituencies as either county or borough. I would ask the Home Secretary: What is the definition of a county constituency as opposed to a borough constituency, because there are very curious anomalies in the actual classification made by the Boundary Commission?
What is a county and what is a borough constituency is determined by the position in which a particular constituency is placed in the First Schedule under the heading of the geographical county within which it happens to be situated. I admit that it appears to be very difficult to ascertain why some constituencies have been put into the county group and some into the borough group, but the answer is that this is what the Boundary Commissioners recommended, and we felt that in this matter it was desirable to follow the arrangement which had been made by the Boundary Commissioners. I think the only difference which really exists, or which matters very much, is the fact that candidates can spend less money in a borough constituency than they can in a county division of comparable size. There are a few other differences. For a county constituency—a normal county constituency—the registration officer is a county officer. In a borough constituency he is an officer of the borough, or the urban district or of one of the urban districts in the geographical area of the constituency. I am bound to say that I think the Committee would be well advised to adhere to the arrangements set out in the First Schedule. But, of course, if it is desired by any hon. Member to move a constituency from the county to the borough list, or vice versa, when we get to the First Schedule, subject to your right of selection, Mr. Chairman, of an Amendment dealing with that matter, it seems to me to be open for an hon. Member to move such an Amendment.
May I ask for clarification upon this point? Is it the Boundary Commission which decides whether a constituency is to be a parliamentary borough or a division of a county, and can the Home Secretary say upon what principles the Commission was working. Can he also say whether anyone laid down a directive for the Commission?