I beg to move, That the Bill be now read the Third time.
The House will remember that at the conclusion of the previous stage in our discussion of the Bill it was agreed that further general discussion should not take place on Clause 1, on the Question, That the Clause stand part of the Bill, but that an opportunity should be given to raise any further issues during the Third Reading debate. This opportunity is, therefore, afforded for any further discussion on the general principles of the Bill, although, however, upon Third Reading it is incumbent upon me, according to the rules of order, to adhere strictly to the terms of the Bill. The Bill is a very short one, and it will be somewhat difficult for me to expand my remarks unduly, as I shall be obliged to restrict my observations to the comparatively small compass of the Bill. The House will probably be ready to come to a conclusion upon the Bill after hearing the animadversions which hon. Members may wish to make.
We had a variety of views advanced during our discussions. We had views from either extreme. We heard some erudite constitutional observations from the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell) and the forthright abolitionism of the hon. Lady the Member for Cannock (Miss Lee). We heard various points of view advanced by hon. Members which enlivened our debates. I think I may also say that at least the preliminary portion of the speech of the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) was, in its literary quality—I am not referring to its political quality—one of the best that we have recently heard. The hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale) made a considerable contribution to our debates; its character may be described as light yet pervading.
The hon. Member for Northfield (Mr. Chapman) made a contribution about which I wish to remind hon. Members. He, as do the Government, believes in the essential need for a second Chamber,
and for reasons which, I believe, would appeal to most of us. The majority of us believe that a second Chamber has a vital part to play in its constitutional rôle of revising legislation. The second reason for a second Chamber was voiced by the hon. Member for Northfield who, I notice, is sitting next to the hon. Member for Torrington (Mr. Bonham-Carter), and I will quote his words:
… the type of discussion that goes on in the House of Lords should go on for the good of the country."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 13th February, 1958; Vol. 582, c. 641.]
I do not think that anybody could cavil at that observation, or object to it.
Some hon. Members have cried that we should end the House of Lords—"Away with the second Chamber." Let me say at once that Her Majesty's Government wholly and totally reject that view. It would not be in the interests of the Constitution; it would not be in the interests of the preservation of our liberties; it would not be in the interests of the efficiency of the laws which we produce for the benefit of our fellow citizens. When I moved the Motion for the Second Reading I did not claim that the present Upper House, or other place, is an ideal second Chamber. I do not think that I have the right to try to prove that. But the work it has achieved and the manner in which, as we have claimed during our discussions, it has exercised its powers, prove that it has behaved in a reasonable way and added to the dignity and efficiency of our public life. We now claim that its constitution, and its power to help, will be improved by the addition of life peers and peeresses as is provided for under the Bill. At any rate, we are not prepared to contemplate a single-Chamber Government.
On the Second Reading I referred to the Wensleydale decision. On looking back on our debates, and upon history, it would appear that the simplest way to describe this Bill would be to say that it is a reversal of the Wensleydale decision, and not very much else. Probably there is no restriction in law on the right of the Crown to create life peers. The restriction is on the creation of life peers with a right to sit and speak in Parliament. The object of the Bill—the Third Reading of which we now celebrate, if I may use that term—is a reversal of the original Wensleydale decision in respect of a seat and voice in another place.
Going back to our discussions, we do not think that there should be any limitation on the number of life peers. There is no limitation on the number of hereditary peers and in framing the Bill we have not thought that there should be any limitation on the number of life peers. We had a discussion on another feature of the Bill, to which it would be in order to refer on Third Reading, the decision to create, or give the power to create, life peeresses. We had a discussion during the Committee stage proceedings, to which it would not be in order to refer on Third Reading, about why hereditary peeresses cannot themselves, under the terms of the Bill, sit in another place. As I said in that discussion, this Bill is a simple Measure, confined solely to the purposes written on the face of the Bill.
The hon. Member can call it what he likes. Such a very agreeable and euphonious expression falling from his lips would be rare, and as such I should prefer it. If the hon. Member wishes to use that as a constitutional term he can have the special distinction of using that expression himself. He will thereby preserve his natural distinction and individuality in our own Chamber.
There is no question about giving power to hereditary peeresses to sit in another place. This Bill, in its single operative Clause, gives power only for the creation of life peers and peeresses. I need not go into the problems of hereditary peeresses, because that is not written into the Bill and would be out of order on a Third Reading debate. Let me say, in passing, that those who are life peeresses by right or by grant were not originally intended to have a seat or voice in Parliament. We saw no reason why, in the small scope of the Bill, we should give them that right on this occasion.
It is difficult to find fresh argument in support of the Third Reading. I would rehearse some of the arguments to the contrary employed by hon. Members who spoke from the other side of the House. The claim has been made that the Bill will bolster up the hereditary peerage. I do not take that view. I do not think it will make any particular difference to the hereditary peerage. If, as we hope, the Swinton proposals, as they are called, are brought in, it will be likely that the number of peers in another place will be more nearly equivalent to the number who now do the work there. If so, that would be a satisfactory and truly typically British way of achieving the right balance and form of working. There is no intention to bolster up the hereditary peerage by the Bill.
Another argument by critics of the Bill was that it would increase the prestige of another place and make it more powerful. The Bill does not alter the powers of another place nor is it intended to alter them. Nor have we at present anything to propose with a view to altering those powers. I hope that the Bill will make another place operate more efficiently by the opportunity given to those whom I would describe as servants of the State, whether men or women, to take their part in the Legislature as life peers, and not to assume the dignity and perpetuation of the hereditary peerage.
The Bill relies upon the simple proposition that there are independent men and women who would regard it as an honour and privilege to serve the State in the Legislature in another place. It is not intended that the choice of those selected would be confined to one party or to politicians. I have explained in the course of the discussions that the objective is that the Prime Minister of the day should have the constitutional position and right of making these appointments.
I am grateful to the hon. Member for his constitutional correction. It will be for the Prime Minister, to make recommendations to Her Majesty, and when recommending someone who is not of his own political party he would consult the leaders of the party opposite to him or of the party not of his own colour. I have tried to make it clear, on this occasion and on previous occasions, that we cannot define exactly how that choice will be made. I do not believe that it would be right to tie the hands either of the present Prime Minister or of any of his successors, of whatever political colour they may be. Their constitutional right to make these recommendations must be maintained. All we can say is that we consider there should be a chance for consultation with those of another party when politicians not of the party constituting the Government of the day are chosen.
That is precisely why I would not like to define the position ahead. There is certainly no intention of forcing a choice upon anybody. There is no question, either, of making patronising observations about the Bill helping the party opposite. I have never tried to do that, or to suggest that it is obligatory upon anybody, either of the party opposite or of this party, to become a life peer. We believe that it will be open to men and women who will want to serve as life peers or peeresses. The Bill will give the Prime Minister of the day the opportunity to appoint them. There can be no certainty how the operation of the Bill would be worked out.
If the choice of life peers is not political, that is to say, is a choice of persons outside the political world, it would obviously be reasonable for the Prime Minister of the day to have the opportunity of finding out such persons whom he would recommend to Her Majesty as potential life peers or peeresses, by his own sources of inquiry, much as he does today.
It was somewhat disappointing to the Government that, when the question of life peeresses came up, the hon. Lady the Member for Cannock, who has just asked me a question, thought fit with some of her hon. Friends to move an Amendment, which, I am glad to say, was ignominiously defeated with the aid of some of her own hon. Friends, suggesting that women should not be Members of another place under the Bill. That was a most unreasonable suggestion.
The right hon. Member for Lewisham, South (Mr. H. Morrison) himself, in a moving speech, referred to the occasions in his public career when, as Home Secretary or otherwise, he had sponsored the cause of women. It is, if I may use the expression about the hon. Lady the Member for Cannock, somewhat antediluvian to suggest that when a Bill comes up in this year of grace, 1958, for the creation of life peeresses, proposing to treat women on an absolute equality with men in giving them the opportunity to serve in another place—
I am aware of the position, which hon. Gentlemen opposite are quite at liberty to maintain. I was only saying that there was this differential, if I may borrow a term from the field of wage negotiations. It was extremely sad that the hon. Lady should have thought that if men were to go as peers, peeresses should not join them and be by their side. We regard that as a backward step on the part of the hon. Lady which will be noted by all women's organisations and by all the women in the country who wish to take a part in public affairs.
As I have said once or twice before in public, we live on a comparatively small island, and the more talent we can encourage from the ranks of women to join us in our councils the better it will be for the country. That is why the hon. Lady found herself for once, as a prominent leader of her own party, deserted by some of her own hon. Friends on this issue. It is the wish of the Government that men shall be created life peers as well as women life peeresses. I feel certain that there will be men and women who will come forward with interest to take up the opportunity offered by the Bill.
I would summarise the main case for the Bill by saying that it will enlarge the field of selection and, by making it possible to recommend the creation of life peers and peeresses, will provide, an adequate field of recruitment for another place. Secondly, the Bill will enable life peerages to be conferred on people of distinction—men and women widely representative of the nation's life—and so enrich the quality of the debates in another place.
Not necessarily. It has always been a feature of the relationship between our two Houses that those who have served honourably in this House very often find it agreeable, honourable and convenient later to serve in another place. It by no means excludes the recommendation of Members of this House or Members outside the House. It does not restrict the field in any way.
Is it intended that the committee which now investigates all honours before they are submitted to Her Majesty will apply equally to the proposed creation of life peerages?
I cannot give a specific answer to that, because I have not given the point my consideration before coming here. The hon. Member and the House may rest assured that the Prime Minister's decision will be exercised in such a way as not to do violence to any of the existing practices in relation to the conferment of honours. I do not know exactly what the machinery will be, but we will certainly look into the point which the hon. Member has made. I understand the right hon. and learned Member for Newport (Sir F. Soskice) to say that it is a good point, but it was not raised early in the debate and I can only give a guarantee as to the general manner in which these baronies will be conferred.
Those are the main reasons for the introduction of the Bill. I have thought long and seriously about whether the Bill will help our Constitution to work better. I have anxiously considered whether any Bill referring to another place can improve upon the traditional growth of, first, the relations between one House and another and, secondly, the constitution of another place itself. It is legitimate to feel that legislation in our Constitution has not always been successful, and I have thought about that most seriously, but I and my right hon. and hon. Friends have come to the conclusion that the Bill reverts a decision which we feel was wrong—the Wensleydale decision.
It is typical of our Constitution and history that it should take all these years to reverse so simple a decision and to restore a position which was originally a feature of our Constitution—namely, the presence in another place of life peers. I need only mention the abbots who were in another place before the dissolution of the monasteries.
It was always a feature of another place that life peers should sit in another place, and it is not a revolutionary proposal that we should revert to an earlier stage of our Constitution, when it was not only permissible but worked extremely well.
It would be out of order for me to refer to such questions as the payment of peers, their general subsistence, and the manner in which they conduct their duties, but if we can consider those problems, and can make the ultimate selection of life peers and peeresses assist in the working of another place, and if the Swinton Committee's rules are introduced under the House of Lords' own order of procedure, I think that we might see another place operating to our general satisfaction. There is no proposal to enlarge its powers. There is simply a proposal to make its revising qualities more efficient and more effective than they are today.
I believe that the Bill is in accordance with our traditions. I do not think that it is a revolutionary Measure, and I think it will help our Constitution and will be a slight addition to the grace, dignity and efficiency of another place.
As the Lord Privy Seal said, it is not very easy to debate this Bill on Third Reading because the arguments for and against it have already been so fully stated and we are now confined strictly to the contents of the Bill.
The Lord Privy Seal did not make our task any easier at the beginning of his speech by informing the House that he could not give an answer to the many questions which have been put during the debates on the Bill, about how it will work and what the Government intend by it. Instead, he made what I must confess I thought was a not very creditable or skilful attempt to play politics by making an attack on my hon. Friend the Member for Cannock (Miss Lee). He called her Amendment antediluvian. My hon. Friend, by her Amendment, made it perfectly clear that what she intended was to have nothing to do with the Bill. She stated her view that the Bill was wholly antipathetic to her and that she wanted to dissociate herself, her hon. Friends and her sex from its provisions in their entirety.
I was a little surprised that the right hon. Gentleman was so unwise as to make that attack, in view of what he said a few moments ago about hereditary peeresses. If he means to play party politics on those lines he should have a better explanation of why he did not deal with the question of hereditary peeresses. It is no answer to say that they are not meant to be included in the Bill. We have only to read the two Clauses of the Bill to realise that for ourselves, and it has been stated many times before.
If I do not trespass beyond what you would consider legitimate to this debate, Mr. Speaker, may I point out to the Lord Privy Seal that the scope of the Bill in its original and in its present form was entirely within the Government's discretion, and that unless it was the Government's intention to exclude at any rate some women from membership of another place they could easily have included the hereditary peeresses within its scope. It is for that reason that I think that the Lord Privy Seal's attack on my hon. Friend was a very long way below his usual form. It seems to me that he leaves his flank peculiarly exposed.
I have indicated my discontent with the right hon. Gentleman for giving us no information in answer to the many questions which we have put and which still remain unanswered. I thought that by the time we reached Third Reading the Lord Privy Seal, the Minister responsible for the Bill, would be able to give us some information about the numbers involved. Apparently he has not the remotest idea. I will not do him the discourtesy of suggesting that he has not thought of it; after all, it is an obvious point and it has been made over and over again.
I am bound to say that the Bill was originally presented to us in patronising terms. It certainly seemed to us that the terms were patronising, in that it was presented as a gift, as some kind of assistance to us. As we view it, its avowed and declared object is to galvanise into activity a House which, at present, can be defended only upon the basis that it is practically moribund. I said on Second Reading that we were asked to exchange a quiescent Conservative majority of the House of Lords for an active majority. I do not see that the Bill has any other purpose than that. If that is the sort of present that we are offered, then, as I pointed out, and as I venture to restate, we cannot be expected to be particularly delighted, and we are not, in fact, in the least delighted.
I again put the question so that, at long last, perhaps we may have an answer from the Government through the Secretary of State for Scotland, who is to wind up the debate: can he tell us something about the membership? Suppose the Government or the Prime Minister recommends the appointment of, say, 30 life peers. Are we really to suppose that the majority of those life peers will not be Conservatives?
They could be anything. No one quite knows what this Government will do; they have zigzagged along for so long now. It may be, as one of my hon. Friends says, that they will appoint Communists or anybody else. I do not know.
However, I would rather think that they are much more likely to appoint good, solid, staunch Conservatives, and that the only difference between those life peers whom Her Majesty will be recommended to create, and those other, hereditary peers, will be that the hereditary peers are apt to be a bit somnolent while the others will be particularly awake.
We have also asked whether this new, active breed of peers to sit in another place are to be paid, and all that we have heard from the Lord Privy Seal, in reply, is that he feared he would be out of order if he answered that question. Looking with fear and trepidation in your direction, Mr. Speaker, I venture to pose the question again to the Secretary of State for Scotland. So far, I have had no success.
I thought that I might provoke your displeasure, Mr. Speaker, and I am very sorry that I have.
While the Bill says nothing about the payment of life peers in the other place, it does speak of life peers and life peers must, as a matter of logic, I respectfully submit to you, Mr. Speaker, fall into one or the other of two categories: they are either paid life peers or they are unpaid life peers. I do not know whether you will allow me, in these circumstances, to put this question to the Secretary of State, that is to say, whether the category of life peers we are to see in the other place is to be that of the paid or the unpaid life peers?
If they should fall into the former category perhaps he would be so good as to say so and then to subdivide that category by saying roughly what type of payment will be made. I hope that I have not transgressed against your Ruling, Mr. Speaker, in putting this question. I wonder whether you will allow me to pursue that, very carefully and gingerly. Suppose that these life peers are to be in the former category, and that the Secretary of State did feel able to subdivide that category into various columns of payments which the life peers might receive, would he not then agree—the Lord Privy Seal told us nothing about this—that the objection which we have made to this, and which is still the objection—and this is very strictly related to the contents of the Bill and does not go outside it—does hold good, that the Government are creating here a new field of highly undesirable patronage?
I personally cannot see any answer to that objection, and I am very anxious that it may be a well-founded objection since any Minister who has spoken in the debates on the Bill so far has not managed in the slightest degree to controvert it. One would have thought that by the time we had come to this stage of the Bill the Lord Privy Seal would have been able to have helped us by giving a vague hint, an idea, however vague, of what the Government's thinking is, if any thinking is done by the Government, of what that might be.
I should like the Secretary of State, always upon the assumption that this is in order, to be so good as to tell us what the Government have in mind about this. Are we to have this breed of life peers enjoying comfortable life pensions for doing—what? For sitting beside the rather less active peers there at the moment for part of the day only, not a very long part of the day? For part of the year only, not a very long part of the year? For doing one does not quite know what by way of safeguarding the Conservative Party?
I hope that the Secretary of State will be able at least to say that they have thought of this matter. Indeed, if the answer is that they are rather flummoxed by it perhaps we should at least think that some consolation, to know at least that it is a matter which has flummoxed them and not merely one which has not occurred to them.
As the right hon. and learned Gentleman has managed to remain on his feet during this last part of this speech, perhaps he will be good enough to redefine those categories of which he spoke. Then, perhaps, when I get up later in the debate, if I stick to them I also shall be able to remain on my feet.
That is a pitiful cry for help, to which I am only too glad to respond.
The categories are the paid and the unpaid. I should like the right hon. Gentleman to subdivide the paid, if that is the category in question, into various columns into which their payments may fall—whether their payments be £1 a year or £1,000 a year or £10,000 a year. I should have thought that temporary peers receiving £1,000 would have fallen into a different column category from one whose salary was £10,000 a year. I should like the Secretary of State to tell us about that.
I put this to him not flippantly in any way, because we on this side of the House have voiced the objection, to which we have had no answer, that this is a bad Bill for many reasons, including that reason, namely, that it will create a new field of patronage which is to be enjoyed by people who are to be appointed—I do not know upon what basis, because we have heard little about that, also—to be temporary peers in the House of Lords.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman says that my right hon. Friend may be creating a dangerous form of patronage, and in deploying his argument he divided the life peers on the one side into those who are paid and, on the other, into those who are unpaid, and I think that in the middle there was a group of those who were half paid. Would he say whether the patronage is more dangerous in creating unpaid life peers or in creating paid life Peers?
I must invite the attention of the Lord Privy Seal to the harm that he has done. He has mystified his own hon. Friends, just as he has mystified us. The hon. Member has my very sincere sympathy. It is really very difficult to know what the Government mean to do.
I am sorry I called these life peers "temporary" peers. The Government propose to make it possible for the life peers to sit in the other place, and I was asking whether they would be subdivided into penfolds, according to whether they were or were not paid life peers. What I am simply saying is that, unintentionally, I have no doubt, we are putting in the hands of a future Prime Minister and the present Prime Minister power to distribute largesse to a number of people—I do not know how many there are to be—who are to be invited to take their place in the House of Lords as life peers, and I am simply pointing out that, if a number of people are to be given—I will not say awarded, but given—life pensions, I am justified in describing that situation as one which amounts to the creation of a very highly undesirable field of patronage. That is the simple point which I put. I confess I am as mystified as the hon. Gentleman himself. I am sure that my hon. Friends have been mystified, and I am sincere in my expression of sympathy with the hon. Member.
All I can say, then, is that if the hon. Member has the good fortune to catch your eye, Mr. Speaker, perhaps he can give us the information which the Lord Privy Seal cannot give us. We have been pressing the Lord Privy Seal for information as to whether these peers are to be paid. Even if the hon. Member is not mystified, we are mystified, because we do not know and, perhaps, therefore, the hon. Member, as I hope, will be able to enlighten our minds by telling us what the Lord Privy Seal has told him, whether they are to be paid and what they are to be paid.
The logic of the argument of the party opposite seems to be not to have a second Chamber, for surely the power of patronage would be as great in making recommendations for the creation of unpaid life peers as in making recommendations for paid life peers.
If we were debating what the proper arrangements should be, the debate would range over a very wide area, and it would no doubt be couched in somewhat emphatic terms, but we are unfortunately limited to the rather narrow field covered by this tiny Bill. Also, I should be out of order if I embarked upon an explanation of my own views and the views of my hon. Friends in this matter.
What I do—we have done it before, and we think we should do it again—is to reassert and re-emphasise our fundamental objections to the Bill, which we thoroughly dislike; and we intend, by our vote this evening, to reassert our dislike of it.
As we have frequently said, the Bill leaves the hereditary character of the House of Lords unchanged. The Lord Privy Seal himself has said so. He said that so far as he could see the Bill would not affect it, but would leave it as it was. That is exactly what we dislike about it.
Secondly, we agree with the Lord Privy Seal that the Bill leaves the powers of the House of Lords intact. The House of Lords could obstruct, delay and frustrate to the same extent as it can at present the will of the elected representatives of the people sitting in the House of Commons. In saying that I am repeating what the Lord Privy Seal said a few minutes ago.
Our third objection is that the purpose of the Bill is, and is avowed to be, to create from a semi-torpid Chamber a lively and active opposition to the Labour Party in Parliament. We do not like that, and we cannot be expected to welcome it. The whole object is to galvanise the present House of Lords into an activity which at present it does not display, and to vest it for that purpose with a large Conservative majority, which, at the moment, is bad enough but the presence of which, when a Labour Government comes to office next year, would be well-nigh intolerable.
The fourth thing that we dislike about the Bill is the situation with regard to payment, about which, I gather, we shall be told more by the hon. Member for Horsham (Mr. Gough) if he succeeds in catching Mr. Speaker's eye. We shall all be very eager to hear what the hon. Member has to tell us about that. No doubt he is fully informed. If he will do something to remove the present confusion in the House he will do the House a great service.
For all those reasons my hon. Friends and I thoroughly and cordially dislike the Bill. When you finally put the Question. Mr. Speaker, we shall go to the Division Lobby to record our vote and show how thoroughly we dislike the Bill. We hope, however, that even now the Government may withdraw it.
In view of last week's debate, I must say a few words about Clause 3. For years all the women's organisations in the country have been pressing and fighting for fair and equal treatment for women, and we women Members of Parliament have supported them on every possible occasion. Since women have been allowed to sit in the House of Commons pressure has been brought on all Governments to include in any reforms of the House of Lords the right for women also to be admitted into the House of Lords. In my opinion, it would be disastrous if an impression were now given that we women Members of Parliament are not in favour of this important and essential reform.
When many years ago my father introduced a Private Bill, one of the first Private Bills, to give votes to women, he was strongly opposed, and the Bill was strongly opposed, by the then Liberal Prime Minister, Mr. Asquith—the grandfather of our newest recruit to the House, the hon. Member for Torrington (Mr. Bonham-Carter)—and many of his colleagues also opposed the Bill. My father made himself extremely unpopular at that time because he was a great believer in women having equal chances with men.
I would remind the House that the first woman Member of Parliament was a Conservative. It was a Conservative Prime Minister who also gave what is known as the "flapper vote", allowing women to vote at the same age as men. Now a Conservative Government are taking the final step, the last milestone in the emancipation of women. The record of our party is one of which we can be proud, and I hope that women's organisations, particularly those organisations which have been fighting for equal rights for women, and women throughout the country, will not forget that a Conservative Government have taken this step.
The hon. Lady the Member for Hemel Hempstead (Viscountess Davidson) has referred, with apparently more knowledge than has been given to the House, to the situation of women in the reformed House of Peers. We do not even know whether they will get equal pay for equal work.
I had a deputation on behalf of the firewomen of Oldham on Sunday. They told me that they are being paid 80 per cent. of the male rate of pay. As their job is precisely what the life peeresses will be called upon to do, to rush into a perishing and derelict building and preserve it for the benefit of posterity, it seems that the hon. Lady may well be thinking that things are going to happen which are not going to happen.
The Home Secretary is always courteous and rather disarming, and when he makes a courteous but uninformative opening such as he has done today it is very difficult for us to offer criticism. He said that he now concedes that perhaps the Wensleydale decision was wrong. That is rather putting it in a slightly minor tone. I have no doubt that he has turned up the dictum of Professor Freeman at the time, and what he said was this:
The Lords, in defiance of law, in defiance of history, in defiance of the clear rights of the Crown and of the manifest expediency of the case, had the matchless impudence to refuse to Lord Wensleydale, a baron of the Realm as lawfully created as any of them, his lawful seat in the House… The body which thus disloyally, almost rebelliously flouted the Crown has no right to claim respect on any grounds of antiquity or traditional dignity when, in like spirit, they turn round and flout the people.
That dictum was almost universally accepted except in the comment of Professor Thorold Rogers:
Where, ladling butter from a large tureen, See blustering Freeman, buttering blundering Green.
I should have thought that we had reached the stage when both sides of the House might have said that the Wensleydale decision was wrong. I concede that after this long time, whether the Wensleydale decision was wrong or not, if it is to be put right or wrong it could obviously only be done now by legislation.
The right hon. Gentleman has in the course of a number of speeches made vague references to the sort of thing that he had in mind. My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Newport (Sir F. Soskice) has pointed to our doubts in this matter. The Home Secretary said on one occasion, I think—it might have been his National Liberal colleague, the Secretary of State for Scotland, who has, I believe, a brother in another place and, therefore, has a considerable interest in these financial arrangements—that they were going to consider the Free Church of Scotland—
Yes, the Established Church of Scotland. There was the famous speech by Lord Brougham in which he pointed out that they had managed to get on excellently without bishops, let alone without peers. Maybe that proposal will not be welcomed.
The Home Secretary said that he would appoint men of all parties. I have been trying to find out who are people of all parties, and the only two I can think of are the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and the defeated Conservative candidate at Torrington. On the other hand, if the right hon. Gentleman meant men of each party, then of course, while I do not approve of the proposal, there are certain attractions about it. It might very well be a very wise and statesmanlike gesture to offer a life dukedom to Mr. Pollitt, as a preliminary to the Summit Conference.
There are implications in this, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, that I imagine the noble Lord the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Hinchingbrooke) may deal with later, if he is fortunate enough to catch your eye. After all, it was the Duke of Rutland who, in his salad days, said:
Let Wealth and Commerce, Laws and Learning die,
But leave us still our old nobility.
I must admit that he rather apologised for that afterwards, as a youthful indiscretion.
There were a number of people, Mr. J. H. Round for one, who were not loath to point out that he was several hundred years out of date, and that the old nobility died with the Wars of the Roses, after which, it was said, a Norman baron was as rare in England as a wolf. There were 29 peers, according to one authority, 30 according to another, who sat in the Parliament of Henry VII, and Mr. G. W. E. Russell, with the help of Mr. Round, has given us some comments on the present old nobility.
In fact, if I may say so, the right hon. Gentleman was a little in error in one thing. There never was a hereditary peerage. They were summoned to a Session. There never was a life peerage in the period of which I am now talking—the period prior to the Wars of the Roses. They were summoned for a Session, and in relation to the land they owned. At the next Session, because they still owned the same land, they were summoned again, and so they gradually established that the right belonged to their children.
So we got the fantastic series of cases, when peerage brokers in the nineteenth century were searching the rolls of heralds, and families were claiming peerages that had been dormant for 600 years by claiming that they had descended through the female side—people who had never had any connection with the land on which the title was based—a fantastic state of things.
It is a great pity that the Lords were not taken in hand a considerable time ago—but I do not want to go into that now. This old nobility is really a very untenable proposition. I was delighted to find that Mr. G.W. E. Russell, who himself, of course, comes from a political family of the greatest possible importance and reputability, uses a phrase which I will use myself. He said that the Dukedoms of Grafton, Richmond and Portsmouth were due to the levity of Charles II, and that the Dukedom of Buccleuch had the bar sinister twice from John of Gaunt—and so it goes on.
I can remember the famous saying attributed to Sydney Smith, but which should be attributed to Jeremiah Keller, who said:
It is a shocking thing that, against all Nature, Mayne should have risen by his gravity and I should have sunk by my levity.
It is rather an astonishing proposition that one can rise by the levity of one's illegitimate parents, but this is the levity to which, apparently, Mr. Russell refers. The Howards are descended from a swineherd—and no worse for that; the Duke of Bedford descended from a fishmonger at Poole, and the Duke of Devonshire from a body servant of Cardinal Wolsey—
I am much obliged, Sir Charles. I will not address respectful submissions to you because I have passed that point, and know that it would be a waste of time to do so. However, it is, I think, material to say, in relation to the status of life peers and the sort of respect they are likely to have in the other place, that when the daughter of an English earl married into the illustrious family of Esterhazy in 1842 it is recorded that she found life intolerable in Vienna because she had only 15 quarterings out of 16 and, as her grandmother's father was a banker, she could not be accepted in society.
Of course, the status of bankers has gone up in the last weeks with Mr. Bulganin. It is, nevertheless, a matter about which we should exercise some concern. We do not want another place to become a warring battleground. Imagine someone going there from commerce as a life peer—how unhappy his life would have been with the sixth Duke of Somerset, who reproved his second wife for tapping his arm lightly with her fan. He said, "Madam, my first wife would never have presumed to commit such an act of familiarity, and she was a Percy." His second wife only came from the family of a marquis—and he a lawyer at that!
On the very relevant subject of who is to have the peerages, I think that it is right that we should have regard to the fourth estate of the realm in dealing with one of the other estates. The fourth estate has professed to have a great deal more information about the likely new appointments than the right hon. Gentleman has given to us. We are told there may be a new lady viscount. Apparently it is the Government's intention that both Houses should be a pageant of history—Magna Carta to Bonham-Carter, and from the stern age of the landlords to the salad days of the Tennants. I must say that I am inhibited by what I regard as the unexpected presence of the hon. Member for Torrington (Mr. Bonham-Carter) from pursuing the point.
The Daily Express said one thing about the new appointments, and I hope that the right hon. Gentleman, whatever the salary is to be, will have a conference with his right hon. Friend the Minister of Pensions and National Insurance to make sure that the lady peers do not lose their retirement pensions by voting in the House of Lords. That, I think, would be a somewhat mean and unnecessary economy.
The question of the qualifications needed has, of course, been the subject of a great deal of controversy over the centuries, and it is really important that we should bear in mind what qualifications are needed. Here I must confess that I find myself on the side of the right hon. Gentleman. It really is not true that all that is needed, once Her Majesty has signalled her approbation of one's appointment as a life peer, is a couple of hours at Moss Bros. and sending the missus to a finishing school at Paris. There is much more to it than that.
The whole tenor of one's society changes. It may be that instead of having a "quick 'un" at the nineteenth hole, it becomes a question of lunching with Onassis or dining on the "Shemara". A man has to attune himself to his new responsibilities—which are not inconsiderable—and the right hon. Gentleman may find it difficult to find people who are capable of doing it. I do not wish to be indelicate, but Thomas Carlyle expressed some views about this. He himself attributed them to Professor Teufelsdrockh, but no one has ever been able to place that distinguished gentleman. Carlyle wrote:
Often in my atrabiliar moods, when I read of pompous ceremonials, Frankfort coronations, royal drawing-rooms, levees, couchees; and how the ushers and macers and pursuivants are all in waiting; how duke this is presented by archduke that and colonel A by general B, and innumerable bishops, admirals and miscellaneous functionaries, are advancing gallantly to the anointed presence; and I strive, in my remote privacy to form a clear picture of that solemnity—on a sudden, as by some enchanter's wand, the—shallI speak it?—the clothes fly-off the whole dramatic corps; and dukes, grandees, bishops, generals, anointed presence itself every mother's son of them stand straddling there, not a shirt on them; and I know not whether to laugh or weep. This physical or psychical infirmity, in which perhaps I am not singular, I have, after hesitation, thought right to publish, for the solace of those afflicted with the like.
Imagination boggles at what may happen when we have a mixed House of Peers. I suggest that the right hon. Gentleman should seriously consider the excision of that Clause which limits life peerages to persons of British birth, because it seems to me that if that sort of thing
were to happen in another place, it could be presented only under a London "A" certificate with M. Robert Dhéry as Lord Chamberlain. It is a point to be considered whether Miss Brigitte Bardot might not, on the whole, be a more suitable nominee in the circumstances. At any rate, I am quite sure that she would be able to bring in the backwoodsmen.
We have very little information about what is to happen. We do not know what the payment is to be. This is a serious matter. Obviously, if we are to have representative people brought in to make the House representative, this can be done only on the basis of some payment. Otherwise, one would have to leave out many men of distinction and ability who are not able to face the burden. We ought to have been informed about that. The information which has been given to us is wholly inadequate to enable anyone to vote unhesitatingly for the Bill. So far as I am concerned, I sincerely hope that my right hon. Friend will say that he intends to vote against it. Perhaps not enough justice has been done to the peers, for it is true to say that, in the past, the wives of the eldest sons of peers were our principal dollar import, and they did a very great deal in that way to close the dollar gap. It was, in fact, only when it was said that one duke had four duchesses concurrently receiving alimony, all living outside the sterling area, that the financial situation took a turn for the worse.
I have tried to make a few gentle points against the Bill, without being too desperately critical. We shall regard the future with considerable concern. We can say only that we shall watch the progress of another place, if this Bill passes, with considerable, but a little worried, interest.
Obviously, it is extremely difficult to follow the hon. Gentleman the Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale) in his very wide-ranging and amusing speech, which had very little to do with the Third Reading of the Bill. It is the more difficult because I regret to say that I wish to make a shorter but, nevertheless, a fairly serious contribution to the discussion. I hope the hon. Gentleman will forgive me, therefore, if I do not follow his speech, which as always we all enjoyed very much. Most of us—though not the hon. Member for Oldham, West—who are interested in this subject have already said most of what we had to say on Second Reading, and I shall not detain the House for long.
With one reservation I think that this is an extremely useful and quite an important Bill. I believe that it will improve the composition of another place and that it will assist in its efficient working as a second Chamber. I think that is why so many hon. Members opposite dislike it. Those who wish to abolish the House of Peers altogether, as do some hon. Members opposite, naturally dislike seeing it improved; they fear that the better it functions the more difficult it will be to justify its abolition. That is an attitude which I can well understand but which, if I may say so, I find it less easy to respect.
Certain hon. Members opposite, notably the hon. Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Bowles) and the hon. Lady the Member for Cannock (Miss Lee), see no value in a second Chamber at all; but that is not the view of the majority of their colleagues. Those who take that view, naturally, must oppose the Bill. To them I would merely say that we are already very near to one-Chamber Government as things are today—rather too near for my liking. It is my view, a view which it may be rather unpopular to express, that electoral majorities are not necessarily or inevitably always right or always infallible in their judgments. I think they are broadly right on most occasions, but that is rather different. It does not follow that, in every case, they are right or even that they are adequately informed or consulted about particular measures which may or may not have formed part of election manifestoes at the time when the parties last went to the polls.
I fully understand the sense of frustration and unfairness which hon. Members opposite may feel when they see a permanent Conservative majority in another place which can, though it very seldom does, send back some of their legislation, but which is much less likely, on the face of it, to send back any of ours. I understand that attitude, but surely the same thing is likely to happen in any second Chamber because, by its very nature, a second Chamber must be, inherently, a brake to check a perhaps over-hasty passion for so-called progress; and to give this House and possibly even the electorate as a whole, an opportunity to think again.
When, as in our case, there is no written constitution, that is exactly what a second Chamber is for. As things are at present, it is a very small brake and the delaying power is very slight. The powers of the House of Lords must, I should think, be smaller than those of any other second Chamber in any democratic country in the world. They are, I think, as small as one could possibly devise, if there is to be any lingering power at all. Those powers are not being altered under the Bill. The composition of the other place, which is being altered under the Bill, is being altered. I should think, in a way which will make it less abhorrent to hon. and right hon. Gentlemen opposite than it is today.
Unlike a large number of hon. Members, I was returned in 1942 under the electoral truce, which was no election at all. Then, in 1945, I was elected by the people of my constituency. Can the hon. Gentleman possibly understand the difference in my own feeling of authority to speak, to oppose or to support legislation when, on the one hand, I felt I had derived my power from the people, and, on the other hand, I previously had not? How on earth can any person in another place, whether nominated by the Prime Minister or by the Leader of the Opposition, feel in his heart of hearts that he has any right whatever to interfere with what is done by elected representatives?
I quite appreciate the feeling the hon. Gentleman had in 1945 as opposed to what he felt in 1942. I respect that, and I think that one does feel a certain reinforcement of one's own authority if one has been elected by the votes of the people. But, if I may say so, the point to which he went from that argument is not particularly relevant, in that I understand that the majority of his party favour a second Chamber, and, presumably, a nominated second Chamber, to which the same objection as he makes now would, in principle, obviously apply.
I believe that to be true. The Labour Party has no time for another place as it is at present constituted, but I understood from speeches made on Second Reading by hon. Members opposite that the majority of the hon. Gentleman's colleagues favour a second Chamber of some sort. I know that the hon. Gentleman and the hon. Lady the Member for Cannock do not favour it, but I believe that the majority favour some form of second Chamber, to which the objections that the hon. Gentleman makes would apply as much as to the second Chamber that we are now discussing.
The composition of another place as a result of this Bill should be less distasteful to hon. Members opposite than hitherto. The self-denying ordinance proposed by the Swinton Committee will decrease the number of Conservative peers, and this Bill should increase the number of Socialist peers. Over a period of time the Bill may increase the Labour Party's representation in another place very considerably.
I think that this is an important constitutional Bill because it gives to a future Labour Prime Minister a political weapon of great power and significance if he cares to make use of it. I fully realise that, and I think that that was the point made by the hon. Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn) on Second Reading. Nevertheless, I support the Bill, because if another place is to work efficiently and without intolerable strain upon a very few Labour peers, as at present, their numbers must be reinforced; and the main purpose of the Bill, I think, is to facilitate that necessary reinforcement so far as the Opposition is concerned. It is a purpose that I support because no democratic assembly in the world can work effectively without a proper Opposition.
To those hon. Members opposite—I think the majority—who think that there is value in some form of second Chamber but who would like a different sort of second Chamber, I would say this: here is a ready-made second Chamber which works and which I hope will work even more efficiently after the passage of the Bill. It may be difficult for us here to agree about its exact composition, but surely it would be infinitely more difficult for us to reach agreement about the composition of an entirely different type of second Chamber which does not exist at the moment. Let us try to improve what we have instead of starting de novo on something different which might turn out in the end to work less well than the present second Chamber. There is no virtue in change unless it is also improvement.
I have one practical reservation about the Bill. I do not see how it can achieve its purpose unless the peers are paid. I ventured to make that criticism on Second Reading, and so did most other hon. Members. I am disappointed that the Government have taken no notice of the criticism that we then made. I must not elaborate upon that now, because it would be out of order to do so on Third Reading. I shall content myself, therefore, with saying that I hope the Government have not thought their last thought or said their last word on this question. I say that only because I want the Bill to work effectively and I want the House of Lords to work effectively. If another place is to get the recruits that it needs and hopes for under this Bill, I am sure that the question of remuneration will have to be faced and dealt with sooner or later, and it is in that hopeful expectation that I support the Bill and wish it well.
I think that I have listened to almost all of the speeches that have been made on the Bill. At the end of the Third Reading I shall vote against it, and I shall vote in the company of every hon. Member of Her Majesty's Opposition. We are, without any reservations at all, opposed to the Bill. It fills me with sadness that the United Kingdom House of Commons should be asked to pass a Measure of this kind in the year 1958.
My objection is fundamentally based on my deep respect for this Chamber to which we have the honour to belong. I have found it a privilege to explain, in many parts of the world, how we do our job in this Chamber, particularly how the Prime Minister and leading Ministers of the day answer Questions put to them, sometimes on matters of the gravest international importance and sometimes on matters that seem very small and humble, but which matter to subjects of Her Majesty.
There is not a Chamber in the world like our own and we have in our own House something on which to build. I want to see the House of Commons grow in status and dignity. I believe that at present some of our hon. Members are not used enough. Some are overworked, but some are underworked. I should like to see an expansion of our powers. I should like to see the whole physical setup of the Palace of Westminster reorganised and, along with this reorganisation, I should like us to adjust ourselves to some of our contemporary needs.
It is difficult to boast of an institution to which one belongs without seeming to be conceited. With the utmost personal humility, and conscious of our individual shortcomings, we can all acknowledge that this House was here before we were and will be here after us. One thing that has contributed to the best features of British history is that we have been able to argue differences of philosophy and economics, sometimes lightly and sometimes very deeply indeed, within this Chamber.
Again and again we are refreshed by rebel elements. which is important. What I fear so much about the other place is that nobody gets there until he is on his way down, not on his way up. The rebels are never appointed. I am certain that when we come to the appointment of life peers, if that should ever take place—and I hope that our hon. Members on this side will not lend themselves to it—neither the leading members of the Government nor of the Opposition will advise Her Majesty to honour somebody who has not yet "arrived".
If I have to choose between life peers and hereditary peers, I prefer the hereditary principle. But I think that the whole hereditary principle is out of date. When we elect on the hereditary principle, we elect someone for services rendered. We are, presumably, honouring them for what they have done, although I would like to hear my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale) enlarge on that topic, especially as, once upon a time, he was a member of the Liberal Party and has a bit of inside information about certain services.
In the main, people are honoured for services rendered. We do not think that they should be elevated to another place and made hereditary peers to do certain hours of work per day for certain jobs. The principle that is now being introduced is that we shall continue to have peers, honoured as hereditary peers for services rendered, who may or may not take an active part in the work of the other place. But we are told that we shall nominate life peers and peeresses specifically to do a job in the other place. But before we even nominate them they must belong to the establishment. They may call themselves Conservatives, Socialists, non-party—and we all know what non-party animals are. Anyone who has gone canvassing knows precisely what is meant by "non-party".
The refreshment of our history has been the possibility of new, fresh iconoclastic elements. A rebel could be elected by the people of the country, but a rebel would never be nominated by the leaders of any political party, because once people are elected in that form they are no longer rebels.
We are asked to accept a Bill which says that certain men and women will be selected and honoured
for better for worse … in sickness and in health…till death"—
do them part from the House of Lords. Most of them will not be young when they start. Are they to remain life peers irrespective of whether they are sick or well? They can change their politics, party or religion. In these modern days, some of them even change their sex.
Therefore, I simply cannot follow the argument from the Government Front Bench that the whole purpose of the Bill is to strengthen the Opposition in the House of Lords. It seems perfectly obvious that the majority will be Conservative, in spirit if not in label. I do not say that disparagingly. It is part of the very nature of things.
Anybody who has ever known a Minister try to find people to occupy positions of authority and privilege knows that there is a narrow circle in which he goes round and round. The great majority of people outside come in through very different ways. The distinction of our Chamber is that now and then it allows people to come through who would never be nominated by the head of any party, and so we get the refreshment.
The Home Secretary said that we could not do without a second Chamber. I beg to differ. When the right hon. Gentleman states that proposition, he should say that he cannot do without a second Chamber. I can do without it. I do not want to sound offensive, but I consider that the whole publicity in the Press, in reporting and broadcasting, and the whole assumptions from the debates, have been extremely one-sided. On that basis, we can go on arguing as if a premise was agreed to before we began the argument, whereas the point of view of many of us on this side has been simply ignored.
The Home Secretary did not have much to say today, so I do not grudge him making a little fun about my attitude towards life peeresses. The women's organisations of our Labour and trade union movement do not matter to hon. Members opposite. When they are talking of women's organisations, it is astonishing how often they think only of professional women's organisations. The fact that there is a Women's Co-operative Guild and that women's sections of the Labour Party are attached to many of our trade unions, representing many millions of women, does not even concern hon. Members opposite.
One of the things I was asked when I first came to London as a Member of Parliament was to support a proposition that women should be allowed to do anything that men could do in industry, including working underground in the coal mines. I think that the people in question called themselves the Seven Point organisation. I considered that to be nonsense. I am not particularly anxious to have as many murderesses among women as there are murderers among men. If I consider an institution objectionable in itself, I cannot understand the cock-eyed logic which asks me, even though I object to it and regard it as utterly obsolete and feel that the country would be better without it, to be a member of it. That is an entirely illogical situation.
I have made my position quite clear in saying that I am opposed to both men and women being members of a second Chamber. I think that if we have to choose between life peerages and hereditary peerages, it is much better to have the hereditary peerages and, for a certain number of them, to make it their public responsibility to carry on the work of a second Chamber.
When the hon. Member for Hitchin (Mr. Fisher) argues that we cannot have a one-Chamber Government, he sees the issue differently from myself. When we have Tories forming the Government, we have one-Chamber government on all the great political issues of the day. It is the height of absurdity that in the year 1958, instead of trying to adjust our institutions to the needs and spirit of the times, we should be engaged in discussing such a foolish, retrograde and completely unworkable Measure.
I will not follow the hon. Lady the Member for Cannock (Miss Lee) in her arguments, because we differ so completely in our conclusions that it would be a waste of the time of the House. Obviously, if the hon. Lady had the choosing of peers, either hereditary or life, the other place would be an extremely amusing set-up, probably full of rebels, and a great deal more troublesome than the present second Chamber.
I wish to raise one point which has not been mentioned but which today is of particular interest. Some of us have just come from a lunch given to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, and others have been listening to him upstairs. It is interesting that the Third Reading of the Bill should be taking place just when the Secretary-General is with us, because until the Bill goes through and it is possible for women to sit in the other place, it is impossible for us to sign the Convention on the Political Rights of Women passed by the Assembly of the United Nations in 1953. When the Bill is through, we shall be in a position to ratify that Convention. I therefore welcome the Bill from that point of view.
I welcome the Bill also because, after thirty years in politics and having gradually seen all the disabilities attaching to women in political life fall away, it is interesting to me to see this last disability finally come to a happy conclusion today so that men and women can walk side by side as companions instead of woman following humbly after her lord and master, which used to be the old idea.
It occurs to me—I do not know whether it has occurred to my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary—that there is a way out of that. The sensible line would be to admit them at a later stage. Indeed, to leave out the six peeresses is a delightful example of how illogical, not women, but men can be in certain matters. One possible solution, which may already have occurred to my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary, is that the six hereditary peeresses might be immediately made life peeresses also. They could then sit in the other House.
I thank the Government for introducing the Bill, and I very much look forward to seeing women sitting in another place and thereby having complete political equality with men.
I congratulate the hon. Lady the Member for East Grinstead (Mrs. Emmet) on introducing into the controversy over the House of Lords the first new point for forty years. The hon. Lady tells us that the reason for the Bill, after all the trouble we have had, is that it is in response to the United Nations Convention on the rights of women. In that case, I refer the hon. Lady to Article 25 of the Declaration of Human Rights, which, like most hon. Members, I carry with me and to which, naturally, I referred when I heard the hon. Lady speak. I see that the hon. Lady carries it with her also.
If the hon. Lady refers to Article 25, she will see that all children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection. In this society, those born in wedlock suffer from the disability which the hon. Lady knows very well and which, I hope, the Government will soon amend by allowing people to apply to the county courts under the new Landlord and Tenant Act for a special certificate of bastardy. I shall certainly go there myself to see whether I cannot get my position put right.
If the hon. Lady wishes to join me in my quest for illegitimacy, perhaps we can have a talk behind Mr. Speaker's Chair afterwards.
We have now entered the final stage in the controvery concerning life peers. I shall not add to anything that my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Newport (Sir F. Soskice) said in opening the debate from this side of the House. It is quite clear that the view of my hon. Friends and myself is that we cannot improve a Chamber which consists, and will continue to consist, primarily of hereditary peers, and which has, and will continue to have, powers that can be used against the elected Chamber. We cannot improve it by putting in a number of life peers.
At the same time, we must recognise that with this Bill we come to the end of a long period of controversy which began in 1908 or 1909 and has continued almost uninterrupted ever since. It is the controversy which has gone on between what one might in general call the Radicals and the Tories on the subject of the second Chamber.
The attitude of the Radicals has been that we are against the House of Lords, but that we will not do anything about it at the moment. I have read many articles written by my hon. Friend saying that it should be left alone. I am reminded of the tactics used by Joshua when he launched his attack on Jericho. He took his army, with the priests and their trumpets, and marched round the place seven times for seven days. They blasted their trumpets in a way which my hon. Friend the Member for Cannock (Miss Lee) has done often, and then the walls fell.
The difference in the case of the Radicals is that this blasting of trumpets has been going on for forty or fifty years. If I interviewed my hon. Friend, who is the Joshua in this case, and asked her what she was doing, I think the only justification she could bring forward would be to say that she was helping to make the place look ridiculous. If Joshua had had to satisfy his army after a long period of trumpeting, it is unlikely that he would have carried his own people with him.
On the other hand, the Government's behaviour on this matter reminds me of another famous story from the Bible, what happened at Sodom and Gomorrah, where there were certain unhappy practices which, for the purpose of this analogy, we can call hereditary practices, and which disturbed the Lord. Abraham went to the Lord and asked, if he could find 50 good men in the cities, would the Lord spare them? The Lord was generous. In parentheses, may I say that this is Lord Salisbury's reform of the composition of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham had to go back to the Lord and ask if the cities could be saved if there were only 30 good men. The Lord agreed, but Abraham had to ask if he would be content with 20. In the end, he could find no one willing to give up his hereditary practices. So now we have a proposal under this Bill that ten good men should be found in the hope that this will spare Sodom and Gomorrah from the results of their folly.
This Bill has altered the character of the House of Lords and, when it is enacted, we shall be confronted as a community with a new House and a new problem. The reason is because, besides the Life Peerages Bill, there are two other important changes. There are the life peers who will be going to the House of Lords, attending the House one presumes, and taking part in the debates. As my hon. Friend suspects, if interesting men and women are appointed, the House of Lords will be more interesting. That is the intention of the Bill. As a result, their debates will receive close attention.
Secondly, these life peers, like hereditary peers, will be paid. There is nothing better for attracting members of the House of Lords to attend to their business than the present £3 a day payment which, we gather from the Leader of the House, will be increased probably to a figure nearer £1,000 a year. And, of course, we are being asked to make more people available to do the work and to receive the payment.
The third great change we must take into consideration, because the Leader of the House himself mentioned it, is the fact that under the Swinton proposals it is intended to keep away some of the backwoodsmen who hardly ever attend. Figures on this are not easy to find, but certainly up to November, 1956—that was only 18 months after the last General Election—267 peers had not even bothered to take the oath and 280 of them had turned up less than ten times. So about 550 of what might be called the backwoodsmen—who cannot be kept away because that can only be done by legislation—are to be frightened away or are to be given a cool reception if they turn up.
So the life peers will go into a second Chamber which will have altered its character considerably and will be a new, and, in my view, much more formidable one. Therefore, one change has come about which my colleagues in the Labour Party must take into consideration: it is that by no stretch of the imagination can the new House of Lords to which we shall be sending these life peers be presented as an absurdity. For that reason my hon. Friend objects to it, and for that reason we on this side of the House cannot accept it. The point is that if the new House of Lords to which we shall be sending the life peers is not absurd, we shall lose the great protection we have relied on in the past; that is to say, in the event of a conflict we should be sure to win. That protection passes from us, and we shall be faced with a House which has enough powers to do a lot of damage and will not be afraid of using them. That is what faces us in this Third Reading debate.
I can only anticipate the tactics which will be pursued by the Conservative leaders in the new House of Lords, but I would think that the danger of that new House with its life peers will be that the leaders of the Conservative Opposition after the next Election will wait until they can pick, and are able to choose, an occasion when they think the country is with them on a certain issue. Then they will challenge a Labour Government.
It is curious that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Surbiton (Mr. Fisher) said he did not think a Government should go beyond the point where people were carried with them; that is to say, if the Government proposed a Measure which was unpopular, he thought it right that the Lords should stop it. That is absolutely contrary to the doctrine advanced recently by the Prime Minister, who said publicly that in his view a by-election which showed a vote of no confidence did not constitute a reason for the Government abandoning their policy.
Although I thoroughly detest the policy of the present Government, I think the Prime Minister is constitutionally right. When we elect a Government in this country we ought to allow it to stay its course, do what it thinks right and pick its own moment for going to the country. But what the Prime Minister denies to the by-election victors—the right to warn him to stop—the hon. Gentleman would give to another place. He would allow that second Chamber, which is by no means democratic, the right to stop an elected Labour Government. This second Chamber could, of course, pick an issue where possibly it had the support of the people against a progressive Government. It could do that, and thereby obscure its own right to delay by cashing in on popular discontent.
My own view about the second Chamber is that, by the very nature of its present constitution, it is incapable of being representative and, secondly, that even if it were representative, government by Gallup poll is not our way. We do not believe that the people should have a right to express their view on every single item every single day of every single year of every single Parliament.
I am glad the hon. Gentleman has brought up this point. because it encourages me to develop it. If the present House of Lords were a Socialist House of Lords—that is to say, were anti-this Government—it would have thrown out the Rent Bill, and given in justification of Lord Salisbury's grounds that the Rent Bill had never been presented to the electorate, had never been put before the people at the last Election, and that therefore there was no mandate for it. The Government would, therefore, have been compelled to introduce the Rent Bill twice and pass it twice through all its stages in the House of Commons. Six months' delay said like that does not really indicate the measure of the damage that a second Chamber can do to the House of Commons. It is the fact that any Minister who is determined to pursue his own policy—which he is entitled to do because he has the people behind him from the last Election—any Minister who does that has to measure how likely he is to get his Bill through, not once, but twice.
When the Leader of a Labour House of Commons is considering how to work out the timetable for the Session, he will discourage Labour Ministers from introducing Bills which may be thown out by another place and then have to be reintroduced. That was brought out brilliantly by my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan), when he described how, in the later stages of the last Labour Government, he was discouraged from certain provisions so that Bills might not lead to conflict with the House of Lords and thus make the timetable of the Commons more difficult.
The one great change which the Bill introduces is that it is no longer possible for the Labour Party to say, "We can leave the House of Lords to stew in its own juice and leave it to its own patent absurdity." It is now to be a formidable body, limited, but formidable, and capable of inflicting very great damage upon an elected House of Commons. Therefore, the presentation of this Bill is bound to reopen the question: What are we to do about it?
I am an abolitionist, but not a unicameralist, but I think that the unicameralists should now present their view not as an ideal, but as a practical way forward. I do not agree with them, but I believe that if one feels that there is a value in the second Chamber it is incumbent upon one to show what sort of second Chamber it should be.
My view is that we get very muddled and hot about the second Chamber. The simple problem of the second Chamber is not the problem of composition. It is the problem of power, and if there is a second Chamber with no power it does not matter who sits in it. I think that the party opposite make a great mistake, if they want a constitutional development to go forward smoothly, to concentrate on the composition. A recent book has been published on this subject by Dr. Bromhead, and he analyses in detail the work of the House of Lords and says in his introduction—and I am sure that he is right—that to say, even from an academic point of view, that the present value of the second Chamber is in fruitless conflict and delay, is to distort it, because the value of the second Chamber, even for hon. Members opposite, is not in the few occasions when it can do damage to a Labour majority in the House of Commons, but in its debate and influence and the rest of it.
I suggest to my right hon. and hon. Friends that the Bill now compels us to look again at the problem of the second Chamber, and to decide, before we deal with the problem of composition—whether nominated or hereditary—whether it should have the right to frustrate the House of Commons. I say that it definitely should not have that right.
I should not undertake a reform by taking away power from the House of Lords. I would leave the House of Lords exactly as it is, but I would give the House of Commons the right to override the House of Lords. If the House of Commons were given power by resolution to override the House of Lords, the problem would be solved and there could be a discussion about how it should be composed.
There are many ways in which a second Chamber could be composed, and life peers is the proposition of this Bill. I am against life peers, because there is no justification in history for creating a new sort of nobility to fulfil very limited purposes. We are seeking not peers and noblemen for the House of Lords, but councillors whose voice we want raised in debate. That is the Government's intention. They are not seeking votes for the House of Lords. If they were, it would be even more absurd. What they are seeking is voices.
Our most ancient and distinguished voices in the country are those of the Privy Council. It would not be in order to say it now, but I have said in the past and still believe that if we want to add people for life to another place, we should add Privy Councillors who are the most distinguished representatives of those who give advice to the Crown. Then, of course, we want not only to send new people to the other place, but to shut out some of those who are already there.
I would shut out the hereditary peers, not on the ground that they are Conservative, although many of them are—many of them do not bother to indicate in Vacher's what their political affiliations are. I would shut them out on the ground that if the second Chamber is to be a good council chamber, it had better have its members picked for their goodness and ability, and not on the haphazard basis of the hereditary system.
It comes out in the book which I have quoted, although I have long suspected it, that the modern House of Lords is in practical terms a party chamber. There are about 60 people who attend regularly, of whom 40 are Conservative and 20 Labour. An analysis of attendance and an analysis of voting show that there are no non-party peers who take any active part at all. The idea that by means of a lot of intelligent generals like Field Marshal Montgomery and so on one can bring a fresh look and a fresh eye and a clear independent mind to the proceedings of another place is incorrect.
In so far as the House of Lords has a value at all, its value is that it is a working party assembly where, curiously enough—and I wish that the Liberals would realise this—cross-voting is as rare as in this House. Most peers vote according to their party line, without Whips to frighten them. They naturally vote along those party lines.
If I were free to decide how the reform of the House of Lords should be undertaken, I should have a nominated second Chamber with no power at all. Out of it we would get everything we need from a second Chamber, advice, counsel, influence, with no power whatsoever to frustrate the will of the House of Commons.
In a way, I am glad this Bill is going forward, because we are at the end of a period of forty years of fruitless controversy in which on the one side there has been a proposal to reform, which has never been acceptable to the backwoodsmen, and on the other side there has been abolition, which has never been the policy of the party as a whole, because a second Chamber has some value.
If we could agree that the House of Lords should lose its power, all the special problems would be solved and it would be possible almost immediately for all three parties to agree on a sensible composition for an influential, but fundamentally powerless, second House.
I warn my right hon. and hon. Friends against believing that they can continue in the future as they have in the past, because this new Chamber will be a real menace to a Labour majority in the House of Commons. We have an opportunity now to put in our election manifesto the simple proposal, which I strongly recommend to be included, that a Labour Government would immediately take steps to prevent the second Chamber from frustrating the will of the Parliament to be elected at this election. I believe that such a simple proposal would in one miraculous way wind up this hideous and boring controversy and, in doing so, would carry the support of the majority of the people.
The hon. Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn) will forgive me if I do not traverse his arguments in detail. I have some sympathy with him, because what he calls the haphazard hereditary system of another place may one day result in his being removed from this House; and I certainly sympathise with him and the House in such a terrible prospect.
The hon. Member apparently objects to what he calls the creation of a new class of nobility in the form of life peers. I would remind him that this is no creation of a new class of nobility, because life peers have been created at various times throughout history. Reference has been made to the Wensleydale case. That simply made it clear that life peers which the Sovereign was entitled to create could not sit and vote in another place.
Unlike the hon. Member, I do not regard the Bill, taken in conjunction with the Swinton proposals, as making the House of Lords a formidable body. I think that the Bill will make it a more efficient, working body. Why I particularly welcome the Bill is because it affects a certain class of peer which has not been mentioned so far in our discussions; that is, the Irish peers, or the peers of Ireland. The Bill goes some way, but not the whole way, towards correcting what is an anomaly in our constitution. By Irish peers, of course, I mean those Irish peers who are not entitled at present to sit in the House of Lords. There are some Irish peers, about 50, who are also peers of the United Kingdom and who sit in the other House by virtue of their United Kingdom peerages. I am not concerned with them.
I am concerned with the 66 Irish peers who are not also United Kingdom peers or representative peers, and who, but for an omission in the Government of Ireland Act, 1920, would still be able to elect a proportion of their number to sit for life in the House of Lords. They are peers whose patents of creation date from before 1801 in Ireland, and under the present Bill they will be eligible for life peerages. Some of the Irish peers have come down a little bit in the world, but they are, by and large, a respectable, if occasionally overlooked, section of the community.
Perhaps I should say a word about how this anomaly came into existence. Before 1801, when there was a separate Parliament in Ireland which sat in Dublin, there was an Irish House of Lords. It is the descendants of those Irish peers whom I have particularly in mind. In the Act of Union which united the two Kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland and the two Parliaments, in 1801, it was provided that there should be 28 so-called Irish representative peers who were to be chosen by their fellows to sit for life in the House of Lords of the United Kingdom Parliament here. Other Irish peers may be elected to the House of Commons, but only—and I have never been able to understand the reason—for constituencies in Great Britain.
After 1920, the machinery for the Irish peers to elect their representative peers became obsolete. There was no provision in the Government of Ireland Act, 1920, for continuing the election of Irish peers, and the 28 peers whom the Act of Union provided should sit in the House of Lords for life have gradually dwindled, so that at present the number is reduced to two, the Lord Kilmorey and Lord de Vesci.
During the debate on the Parliament Bill, 1949, attention was drawn to this anomalous situation by Sir Hugh O'Neill, now Lord Rathcavan, who was then the hon. Member for Antrim. He said:
What I feel is that, so long as Irish representative Peers, or Irish Peers, exist, the only part of Ireland which now remains within the Commonwealth, namely, Northern Ireland, should have the right to its own quota of Irish representative Peers. That is a constitutional anomaly which at the moment is completely in the air, and I should have thought that this was the time to settle it."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 11th May, 1949; Vol. 464, c. 1877.]
It was not settled then, and it is not completely settled now, though, in so far as the present Bill makes Irish peers eligible for life peerages, it is a step in the right direction.
Of the 66 existing Irish peers, about a dozen have a special connection with Northern Ireland through residence or other interests, and I hope that their claims will be remembered when the new life peers are being created. On these grounds particularly, I welcome the Bill, and I am sure that it will also be welcomed by that section of the community which has tended to be somewhat overlooked in our constitutional development, namely, the peers of Ireland.
I quite agree, Mr. Deputy-Speaker.
There is one point about Scotland that I should like to have elucidated. It has been stated in the Scottish Press that one of the Scottish peeresses is to be the defeated candidate for Kelvingrove. I should like to know whether that is so, because if the first life peeress is to be Mrs. Walter Elliot there will certainly be great objection, because it will mean the complete flouting of democracy. Although this lady did represent the policy of the Government in the by-election, that is no justification at all for her being sent to the House of Lords, and1 hope that we will have some denial of the rumour which has been very current in the Scottish Press.
I should like to know, too, what will be the feelings of the Earl of Glasgow when this Bill goes on to the Statute Book. The Earl of Glasgow and I have been closely associated in public life, and I have understood, though I do not agree with him, some of his criticisms of this Bill. When the Bill is passed the Earl of Glasgow will have to contemplate ladies sitting in the Tea Room and in the Library, and at that prospect the Earl of Glasgow is, very naturally, indignant.
There have been many rumours that could be denied. Indeed, I have been the victim of one of them, which hinted that I am to go there. I hasten to dispose of that by saying that I will not go to the Upper House except as a bishop.
I want to return to the sad case of the Earl of Glasgow, with whom I have been associated for many years in public life in the county which I represent. This will be a sad day for the Earl of Glasgow. When ladies appear in the House of Lords, what will the Earl of Glasgow do? Will he stop going there? Is the Earl of Glasgow going on strike? There is an even worse prospect than that. There was a time when the Earl of Glasgow was chairman of the Ayr County Council, and the prospect may now be that the Earl of Glasgow, disgusted at the prospect of having to see peeresses in the House of Lords, will return to the county council, which would be a very great calamity indeed for Ayrshire.
Unfortunately, it does not end there, because if the Earl of Glasgow decides not to go to the House of Lords because ladies are there, he will have to go to the county council, where he will also find ladies. The dilemma of the Earl of Glasgow is a very real one and as an old friend of his, and speaking to some extent on his behalf, I say that this is a sad day for him.
Then there is the case of the Minister himself going to the other place. This possibility was hinted at in the speech of my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale). I understand that after his announcement today there is a possibility that the Minister of Housing and Local Government will go to another place. If he does we shall demand similar rights for Scotland. We shall all be sorry to see the Secretary of State for Scotland leave us, but we think he ought to go. But if he does go to another place under the provisions of the Bill he will find his brother there, which would be not only setting class against class, but brother against brother.
During the debate the possibility has been mentioned of introducing a system of increasing payment for peers. I am quite sure that no self-respecting Scottish peer will serve in the House of Lords for less than £5,000 a year and a promise of £50,000 compensation if the House of Lords is abolished by a Labour Government. It is possible that we shall have two classes of peers in the same family—one a hereditary peer, such as the right hon. Member's brother, and a life peer, the right hon. Gentleman himself.
The hon. Member says that he does not want to go. Neither do I. That is the first point upon which I have agreed with him for many a long year.
The case of Mr. Bulganin has been mentioned. He has been made Chairman of the National Bank of the Soviet Union. I am afraid that the Scots will not have the Secretary of State as Chairman of the National Bank of Scotland—not after his explanation of Government finance, in Committee. The unfortunate Secretary of State will place the Government in a very great dilemma, however they dispose of him—and we shall have the greatest regrets when he goes, because he is personally very acceptable, although he is a political disaster for Scotland.
There has been a suggestion that the name of the second Chamber should be changed. I would not dream of going so far as my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn), who seemed to suggest that the name should be changed from the "House of Lords" to "Sodom and Gomorrah". That would indeed be a revolutionary change, and I should deprecate it. I suggest that there is something in the suggestion that I made in an interjection when the Home Secretary was speaking, namely, that if we are to have ladies in the second Chamber we ought to change the name of the place from the "House of Lords" to the "House of Ladies and Lords". Such a change might help to bring in some of the backwoodsmen.
I fail to see why that suggestion should not be accepted. We always say "Ladies and Gentlemen", and the Germans say "Meine Damen und Herren". It is merely an act of courtesy that the ladies should come first, and I fail to see why that principle should not be applied in this case. It would be an attraction to the life peers who might otherwise be somewhat reluctant to accept their national responsibilities.
My remedy for the House of Lords can be expressed in even fewer words than were used by my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, South-East. During the historic controversy which took place between 1908 and 1910 there was an old Radical slogan:
End it, not mend it.
Last night I had the privilege of attending a dinner presided over by my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeenshire, East (Sir R. Boothby), at which both he and the right hon. Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan)contributed very brilliant speeches. However, as after-dinner speeches they did not hold a candle to the speeches which we have heard today from the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) and the hon. Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale).
I hope that the hon. Member for South Ayrshire will not think it an insult when I say that his speech was a very brilliant after-dinner speech, although it was made before that meal. I would remind him, in passing, that at the sort of function that I attended we are inclined to refer to "My Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen." I therefore suggest that the other House should be called the "House of Lords and Ladies," and not the "House of Ladies and Lords." I trust that the hon. Member will forgive me if I do not comment further upon his speech.
It was my misfortune to be abroad during the Second Reading of the Bill. I had intended to come here this afternoon merely to listen and learn, but the right hon. and learned Member for Newport (Sir F. Soskice)—I am sorry that he is not now in his place—so surprised me by putting up what seemed to me to be such a flimsy case that I asked him most politely to amplify his very complicated argument, and he then turned on me and expected me to wind up the debate.
As I understand, he was deploying the argument, first, that life peers will be paid. He was then called to task for being out of order, but, being a quite brilliant Queen's Counsel, he was able, far better than I could do, to put his point in another way so as to keep within the rules of order. In doing so, however, he completely flummoxed me. He said that if life peers were to be paid, that was one thing, but that if they were not my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary would be guilty of a very grave act of patronage.
I cannot see from the contents of the Bill any suggestion whether life peers are or are not to be paid. That may be something for the future. Neither can I see anything in the Bill which deals with the very brilliant exposition put forward by the hon. Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn). I was surprised that the hon. Member took the view that once we have had a General Election the will of the people no longer matters, and that it then becomes a matter of the will of Parliament—and that the danger of the House of Lords is that, by virtue of its political majority, it may frustrate a certain Government.
I am grateful to the hon. Member. I do not wish to deploy that argument further, but I hope that his party will not carry on the parrot cry of "the will of the people".
The Bill seems to me to be an extremely good one, because it is a step in the right direction. It enables peers who are not part of the hereditary system to sit in another place. I may be wrong—although I do not think that I am—in thinking that the intention of the Bill is to consider the other place in its capacity of a revising Chamber. I think all hon. Members should bear in mind how often we complain of the enormous amount of business which rests upon our shoulders, and those who, rather glibly, speak of doing away with another place, should have second thoughts and realise that the revising value of another place is extremely important.
My hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn) did not quarrel with that conception. His argument was that we should leave all the power there is, but if the House of Lords quashed this House on a matter of major principle, we, by simple resolution, should have the right to override it. Whatever may be said about these life peers—and the hon. Member is trying to be very fair in emphasising the revising functions of another place—no one can suggest that they represent the will of the people. They are appointees.
I had passed from discussing the view of the hon. Member for Bristol, South-East. That is why I particularly said that I feel that the Bill should be taken within its context. It is a Bill to deal with the revising function of another place. I feel that this must represent one step in a series of moves affecting another place. Those who oppose the Bill because they are opposed to another Chamber should hold their fire.
If one accepts the Bill on that basis, the arguments of the hon. Lady the Member for Cannock (Miss Lee) and of other hon. Ladies must fall to the ground because they are absolutely against every argument advanced by women, ever since the suffragettes, that women should sit both in this Chamber and in another place. If we accept that the Bill is related mainly to the fact of the other place being a revising Chamber, the wider its representation the better. For that reason particularly, I think it essential, despite the Earl of Glasgow and his feelings, that we should have peeresses in another place.
That is all I wish to say to the House. I am sorry that the right hon. and learned Member for Newport is not present in the Chamber. He challenged me on that point, and that is why I have intervened in the debate.
The Home Secretary said in giving a summary of the Bill today that it was a Measure to reverse the Wensleydale decision of 101 years ago. The debate now, after 100 years, about the reform of the House of Lords has, as was said by my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn) in what I can only describe as a brilliant speech, become hideous and boring. I have had enough of it for the time being, so that tonight I shall be brief. Our main criticism of the Government is that after 101 years they should produce a Measure which is so timid and uncourageous and something which does not bring any real measure of reform.
I ask the Government to look at this Bill, which they have pushed through to a Third Reading, from the point of view of an hon. Member on this side of the House who believes in the need for a second Chamber. I ask the Secretary of State for Scotland to realise what harm this Bill is doing to the cause which some hon. Members on this side of the House are trying to foster, the preservation of a second Chamber. The Bill makes no real breach in the hereditary principle. Time and again the Government have made clear that they will not say anything which will anger those of their supporters who wish to retain the hereditary principle. The Government have been sitting on the fence. That was indicated most recently by the Joint Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department during the Committee stage when, in a sentence obviously designed to placate hon. Members sitting behind him, he said:
The purpose of the Bill is to aid recruitment to the House of Lords, but not to make a fundamental readjustment in its numerical position."—[OFFICIAL REPORT. 25th March, 1958; Vol. 585, c. 325]
My right hon. Friend says, "Hear, hear"; he agrees with me. It is clear that the Government have been sitting on the fence. They do not want to offend those of their supporters who wish to hang on to the hereditary principle and the domination of hereditary peers. I see that the Secretary of State for Scotland nods his head as well. This is the first way in which this Bill is harming the cause of those of us who are trying to keep the second Chamber flag flying.
I nodded my head at the words of my hon. and learned Friend as quoted by the hon. Member. I consider them to be right in describing the purpose of the Bill, not in the sense in which they have been used by the hon. Member. But I will deal with that later in my speech.
The Secretary of State must know that, time and again, in the discussions on the Bill I have quoted contrasting opinions of Government spokesmen about its purpose, contrasting and conflicting justifications for it. Out of it all comes only a realisation of the obvious desire of the Government not to anger their own supporters who wish to retain the hereditary principle.
The second way in which the Government are causing harm by the Bill is in their refusal to tackle the question of the powers of the House of Lords. After the Second Reading debate some of us thought we might be beginning to find common ground on which to discuss the whole question of the powers of the House of Lords, only to have our hopes dashed again today by the Home Secretary when he said that the Government had no intention of altering those powers. The right hon. Gentleman said it in such a way as to indicate that the mind of the Government was closed to the idea of discussing the alteration or reduction of the powers of the House of Lords.
As a result of these facts—because it does not deal with the powers of the House of Lords or end the hereditary principle—we have heard from this side of the House ridicule and hatred heaped upon the Bill. Does not the right hon. Gentleman realise that now the great danger is that, in a gale of ridicule, hon. Members on this side of the House will refuse to consider the question of a second Chamber because of the opinions they hold about the House of Lords? To put it in another way, does not he realise that there is very grave danger indeed that the second Chamber "baby" will be thrown out with the House of Lords "bath water"? That is the grave difficulty which faces hon. Members on this side of the House.
The Government appear to be entrenched and defending the hereditary principle and the powers of the Lords as they exist, and, in ridiculing the whole failure of the Conservative Party to meet us on this issue, a Labour Government will have no alternative but to abolish the second Chamber. As one who believes in a second Chamber, non-hereditary and without power, that, as I see it, is the grave harm that the Bill is doing.
If I am wrong, and if there really is a disposition in the Government to show willingness to discuss these two hotly-debated points on which we are so deeply divided, I beg the Government to take the initiative within the next two years and to call an all-party conference on a second Chamber—not on the House of Lords—and to discuss the position of a second Chamber in our Constitution. Hon. Members will remember the exchanges that took place between the Minister of Education and my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale (Mr. Bevan) on 13th February, when my right hon. Friend left the door open—I will not put it any higher than that—and it seemed possible that talks could be held to try to work out whether we needed a second Chamber and whether the House of Lords, as reformed, was necessarily the right sort of body.
There is a point upon which we can get agreement. I believe that the Government are passing the Bill now only as an attempt to grope forward to what may happen in the next two or three years, and to see whether there is any possibility of agreement. I tell them that their Bill is doing more and more harm to the possibility of agreement. They ought to try to retrieve the position by proposing the sort of all-party conference which seemed in those interchanges on Second Reading to be satisfactory to the Leader of the Opposition and to my right hon. Friend the Member for Ebbw Vale.
I shall vote against the Bill because it is timid and is doing the great harm to which I have referred. There is still a chance before the Labour Party, feeling that there is no possibility of agreement, will be faced with very little alternative but to abolish the House of Lords altogether.
The hon. Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. Chapman) always speaks with such thoughtfulness and moderation that we listen to him although we might not always agree with his views. This afternoon I find myself so much in agreement with him that I ask him to realise that there is more support on this side for some of the opinions that he has expressed than he gave us credit for.
I would like to offer my remarks under the headings that have already been given. First of all, I would refer to the powers of the second Chamber, and, secondly, to its composition. There must be a second Chamber. It is imperative for this country that legislation should never be rushed through, as it was in the single-Chamber government in Germany or Italy before the war. No Bill should ever become an Act of Parliament without lengthy debate, not based solely upon party principles, in either House. We need a second Chamber of the widest-ranging powers of debate, as it is at the moment, and with powers of suggestion for revision and slight powers of delay. These powers of delay are essential when questions which come before us upon which we have troubled minds and need further information, as was the case when we discussed the Homicide Bill. On such matters the House of Lords, or second Chamber—whatever we like to call it—should have definite powers of delay while opinion is crystallised throughout the country and can be modified as new facts become evident.
I would never, if I could advise on the problem, give the House of Lords, and would never allow it to have again, power to override the Commons on any subject whatever. That power is wrong and obsolete. In a democracy it is almost criminal to give to a hereditary body which is responsible only to itself the power of overriding an elected body. Whatever form the second Chamber or House of Lords takes in the future, I hope there will be no question of according to it in the slightest degree the ultimate power of overriding the Commons. The people, through the House of Commons, must be the basic power within the Commonwealth as we know it. The duties of the House of Lords should be those of debate and revision, or, as Bagheot points out more particularly with regard to the Royal Prerogative, it should have power to advise, encourage and warn.
On the question of composition, I am very much opposed to the hereditary principle in the creation of legislators. I do not believe that legislative ability is automatically passed on to grandchildren. I see no reason why people should sit in the House of Lords today whose sole right to that position is that a great-grandfather was a moderately successful Victorian politician, or that some even more remote ancestor was a mistress of Charles II. I can see no justification for the hereditary principle being applied to legislation, though, of course, I entirely approve of the hereditary system where the monarchy is concerned. That is a different matter however.
I am one of those who believe in the honours system, but I do not feel happy about hereditary rewards being given for great services to the State. A country like the United States is very much handicapped because there is nothing other than money with which to reward people who have given valuable services to the State. I therefore want the honours system retained, but not the hereditary honours system. The finest reward that Her Majesty can give is not an earldom or a viscountcy or any hereditary honour, but something which is not hereditary, like the Knighthood of the Garter or the Order of Merit. We can retain an honours system which should be personal to the individual who has deserved it, and which is not carried on undeservedly from generation to generation.
The House of Lords has about 900 Members. I do not think any of them should have a hereditary right to go there. The hon. Member for Birmingham, Northfield suggested an all-party conference on the composition of the House of Lords in the not too distant future. I support that suggestion. I think the conference would immediately come to the conclusion that something on the lines of a representative peerage for England should be thought out, as it would give us very great help in creating a better House of Lords.
I bow to your Ruling, Mr. Speaker, and appreciate your leniency in allowing me to make my point before being pulled up. I therefore jump very quickly to the next point, which is that the Bill allows the Prime Minister to advise Her Majesty to create life peers. I regret that it does not go further and take away from the Prime Minister the power of recommending any hereditary peers in the future.
The Bill is so timid that it is only a pace in the direction in which many of us want to go, but it will strengthen the House of Lords. I hope that the creations that are to be made will not consist of the senior Privy Councillor type—
—but will consist of younger men and women who are able to give really good service. They should not be given as a political reward to someone who is past the stage of fitness in this House.
Any Member of the House of Lords, whether life or hereditary, should have the power to resign. This point was brought out from the Opposition benches in last week's debate. I am strongly of the opinion that peers, like all of us, grow aged and decrepit and decay, and I sometimes think that they grow aged and decrepit and decay more hastily than any other body in the United Kingdom.
The point is that there is obviously an end to their individual usefulness in terms of years. Why should they be kept on in the House of Lords when they themselves know that they are of no further use to the place? Why should they not be allowed, as we in this House are allowed, to take the Chiltern Hundreds or the Manor of Northstead? A decent resignation is the finest termination to any political career, and there are many of us who ought to know that the time of resignation is long before we think it is.
I appreciate the latitude which you have allowed me, Mr. Speaker. At least, it has allowed me to speak frankly and to give the House the doubtful benefit of my views on a second Chamber. I hope that before very long we shall see a second Chamber that is much more democratic in form than the one we have at the moment, which is an absolute misnomer to the word "democracy".
One's murky past is always catching up with one. When I listened to the hon. and gallant Member for Buckingham (Sir F. Markham), I recalled that he was not always associated with the people whose views, apparently, he no longer shares but among whom he sits. I want to say a few words, because there is a great deal of misunderstanding in the Press of what the effect of the Bill will be.
I noticed a few days ago that the Daily Mail, in a comment on the Bill before we completed the Committee stage, said of my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition and his colleagues on the Parliamentary Committee:
They would also be able to transfer a number of 'elder statesmen' who are becoming an embarrassment in the Commons. If Mr. Gaitskell decides on this policy of 'disengagement' the Prime Minister will undoubtedly consult him unofficially before making his choice. In this case, such distinguished Socialists as Herbert Morrison. Chuter Ede and Emanuel Shinwell"—
would probably be offered life peerages.
I was perturbed for a start as to whether those three names were in ascending or descending order of merit and distinction until it was pointed out to me that it did not matter very much, because I was in the middle in any event.
I have heard a breath of that in one or two of the speeches today. Let me say to some of my junior colleagues in this House that on the story they tell, that is not the sort of solution that the Government desire. They want to get a few young, energetic Members on this side of the House who sometimes get a bit tired at about eight o'clock in the evening and translate them to a place where, at 5.30, Members talk about "this late hour".
I hope it will be clearly understood that that idea of the Daily Mail's is no way to reform a second Chamber. I sincerely hope that a maximum age will be fixed above which no one will be recommended for a life peerage. I suggest somewhere about 60 or, possibly, 55—[Interruption.]—always a couple of years younger than my hon. Friend the Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes).
This side of the House, in the derision which it has poured on the Bill, has adopted the right attitude towards it. I have greatly enjoyed the speeches of my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham, West (Mr. Hale). He has brought to this discussion just the right sort of spirit with which we should regard this Measure. Does anyone think that this Measure will do anything to redress the balance between the expression of opinions in the Lords?
Let us imagine that between 1945 and 1950 the Labour Government, which did not lose a by-election, had been confronted with the series of electoral reverses that the present Government have suffered during the past twelve months. There would have been a Prayer against every Statutory Instrument that we had to introduce in another place. Administration would have been made quite impossible. This is a Bill designed carefully to preserve, for use at any time that the majority of the House of Lords considers it its duty to use it, the power to make a Government of the Left impossible in this country.
In contradistinction to my hon. Friend the Member for Northfield (Mr. Chapman), I do not believe that a second Chamber anything like the present second Chamber is needed. The most we need is a body of efficient people to examine the mere language of the Acts of Parliament that we pass. I would not advocate the duty being given to the judges, because in the end they would make of any Act that we pass what they think ought to be the law of the land. There should be an efficient body of administrators who can make quite sure that the words which we use carry out the policies that are advocated when a Measure is put through Parliament. A revising Chamber of that nature is sufficient in a democracy as virile and as understanding as the people of this country have proved themselves to be during the last 150 years.
Like my right hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede), I have listened with great interest, amusement and appreciation to a number of speeches which turned the welcome hose of laughter on to this somewhat ridiculous Bill. Having listened to and welcomed all that, I still think it right to say that I regard the Bill as a mischievous and dishonest bit of nonsense and not without its dangers. I propose to justify those words simply and shortly.
The case for adding life peers to another place is that we will enrich its
debates and, to quote the words of the Home Secretary today, to
add to the dignity and efficiency of public life.
That seems to me to be complete nonsense. The purpose of the House of Lords at present is supposed to be that of a revising Chamber. One hon. Member opposite said that its purpose was that of a debating Chamber. Another hon. Member put its purpose as that of a delaying Chamber. Those are its supposed functions, and it is because of the importance and value of those functions that we are supposed to send an indefinite number of paid or unpaid people of distinction, who may or may not be willing to serve, to enrich what is quite obviously otherwise a completely indefensible institution, whatever one may think about the merits or demerits of second Chambers.
I will take those matters very shortly indeed. I see a case for a revising Chamber, but if I had to devise a revising Chamber it would be nothing like the other place either with or without the life peers. I can see a case for a debating Chambers. They have good ones in Oxford and Cambridge, and they are called the Union in both cases. Why that debating Chamber should be given any special sanctity I do not at present understand.
As to a delaying Chamber, we now come to the more serious side of the matter. It must be remembered that in connection with at least one major Bill of the Labour Government another place did effectively serve as a delaying Chamber for purely party purposes on a purely party question, and that was the Iron and Steel Bill. In another matter which did not raise party issues it differed from the opinion expressed in this Chamber about capital punishment. Those, however, are only two instances. The point is that the other place is at present a Conservative organisation.
It will remain a Conservative organisation after these life peers are added, if they are added, and there has been no suggestion whatever from the benches opposite that it should ever be anything else. Therefore, the extent to which it will exercise its powers of delaying wilt depend not on the merits of what it is delaying, not on the popular support for what it is delaying, but simply and solely on whether it is a Labour Measure, which the other place thinks it can safely delay without risking its own existence.
The hereditary principle, for any of these purposes, is a piece of nonsense sanctified, if at all, only by its long existence. No sensible and rational person can possibly suppose that a Chamber with any functions whatever ought to be founded on the hereditary principle or ought to have any support from the hereditary principle. Those who make picturesque speeches about the sanction of history in these matters and the rest of it seem to me to be living in some strange world of their own and to be unfit to make recommendations about matters of constitutional importance. I can find no possible justification or reason for it.
That being the position, and the other place at present being a hereditary institution, and an organisation of the Conservative Party for the purpose of delaying the Measures of a Labour Government when it does not like them, we are asked to strengthen that place and to give it support by sending it an unspecified number of paid or unpaid life peers. Does anybody really suggest for a moment that we support anything of the sort? It is not a question of whether we think a second Chamber is a good thing or a bad thing. It is not even a question of what we think are the proper functions of a second Chamber. It is simply a question of looking at what in fact the other place is at present and what purposes it serves at present and then considering whether we are really expected to support this unwelcome proposal, that it should be strengthened for those purposes. It seems to me just as simple as that.
I am not in the least surprised that there was no consultation about this beforehand. The answer was obvious. I am not in the least surprised that noises were made by people less astute than the Home Secretary about this being of assistance to the Labour Party, patronising noises of various kinds about it. Of course, this has been sheer camouflage for what is, after all, the very simplest party manœuvre to give some sort of power and support by this kind of move to an institution which certainly needs it sorely and which is at present fulfilling its functions in a manner highly useful to the Conservative Party as an organisation.
I say no more. There is no need to say any more. There is no broad question involved in this. There is no broad question whether we ought or ought not to have a second Chamber, no broad question of its functions or its powers. Without any change in it, as it is now, we are asked to strengthen it by this Bill in that way. I see no reason whatever for helping the Conservative Party in that matter.
I did not realise that the hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for Kettering (Mr. Mitchison) intended to sit down quite so quickly. I was still collecting my thoughts and was taken a little by surprise by the hon. and learned Gentleman. That is why I did not rise immediately he sat down. Therefore, if my words are not as ready as they might have been, I hope that the House will forgive me.
If a few minutes elapse before I get into my full stride I hope that the House will understand why it is.
The easiest way of dealing with this debate is to start with the remark of the hon. and learned Gentleman that this was a mischievous and dishonest piece of nonsense. Those were very tough words for him to use, and I do not think the rest of his speech bore them out. I do not see anything mischievous or dishonest in this Bill. If the hon. and learned Member wanted to press his charge that this is mischievous and dishonest he ought to have gone into greater detail. The Bill quite obviously says what it means.
I come to the remarks of the hon. Member for Birmingham, Northfield (Mr. Chapman), who made a very interesting and, in some ways, a moving speech. I understand his dilemma and appreciate it. I will come to that a bit later. He quoted my hon. and learned Friend the Joint Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department. My hon. and learned Friend, in Committee on the Bill, said:
The purpose of the Bill is to aid recruitment to the House of Lords, but not to make
a fundamental readjustment in its numerical composition."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th March, 1958; Vol. 585, c. 325.]
Both the hon. Member for Northfield and the right hon. Gentleman the Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede) saw something extremely sinister in this. I cannot think why, especially if one considers what my hon. and learned Friend said a few moments after he said what I have just quoted. He went on to say:
This is a limited operation, as has been explained on a number of occasions during the proceedings on the Bill. It is a limited operation, the purpose of which is to enable distinguished people to become peers without their having to become hereditary peers."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th March, 1958; Vol. 585, c. 326.]
Why that should be assumed to be a subtle bolstering up of the hereditary principle, as both the hon. Member and the right hon. Member seemed to be assuming, beats me altogether.
What the Bill does is quite clear. It is an attempt, in present circumstances, we having failed on a number of occasions to get agreement on comprehensive reform of the House of Lords, to do something, not very big, but something useful, to meet the current conditions in which we live. We live at a time when we have many men and women who may be prepared to go to the House of Lords and there contribute to public life, but who are, for various very good reasons, not willing to take hereditary peerages. This Bill will enable them thus to serve. That is what it does and nothing more.
What I said was that the Government were sitting on the fence in considering the hereditary principle, that they did not want to anger their own supporters who believed in the hereditary principle. That is what those words which the right hon. Gentleman has quoted say, and the Joint Under-Secretary of State who said that said it again when he said in the same speech:
It is, therefore, not the intention of the Government that the Bill should … effect a radical change in the composition of the House of Lords … —[OFFICIAL REPORT, 25th March, 1958; Vol. 585, c. 325.]
That is self-evident. That is not the intention. There is no intention—I think I myself said this on Second Reading, and this is the relevance of my hon. and learned Friend's statement—of trying to get a complete party balance through the use of this Bill. There is no intention of a swamping operation in either direction. If there were, it could be done with hereditary peerages just as well.
The hon. Member for Northfield has been too subtle over this. What I am saying is straightforward, that we merely feel that in present conditions it is highly desirable that the range of people who might be asked to enter the House of Lords should be widened. Why this should be termed mischievous and dishonest beats me. It is absolutely clear and straightforward. If the hon. and learned Member for Kettering still believes that it is mischievous and dishonest, I wish he would tell me how.
All these arguments are directed to enriching the House of Lords, to theoretical discussions about a second Chamber, and they conceal the obvious purpose of the Measure, which is to strengthen an institution which is exceedingly useful to the Conservative Party. It is for that reason that the Government desire to strengthen it.
All the hon. and learned Gentleman is saying is that he is against a second Chamber in anything approaching the form of the House of Lords, and, therefore, he dislikes the Bill. That is no reason for calling the Bill dishonest, but that is what he has done in what he has just said.
If the right hon. Gentleman wishes me to explain, perhaps lie will tell us what will be the result of all this in terms of the interests of the Conservative Party. I believe that to be the only reason for the Bill. Until he answers that question, I regard the Bill as a dishonest Measure.
My personal view—I do not know whether or not I am speaking for my colleagues—is that I believe in a second Chamber. I believe that my colleagues do, also. Therefore, if one believes in a second Chamber one must believe that if a change is necessary in a certain set of conditions at a given time in history it is a good thing to make that change. That is straightforward, and there is nothing dishonest about it.
The difficulty about dealing with the whole debate is that we have such a variety of shades of opinion on the other side of the House. We have the straight abolitionists and the uni-cameralists, those who believe in single-Chamber government. I think that that is a proper definition of the abolitionists as it has emerged from the debate.
Then we have the hon. Member for Bristol, South-East (Mr. Benn), who declares that he is an abolitionist but not a uni-cameralist, which means, I suppose, that he is in favour of a second Chamber to some extent but not the present one. The hon. Member made a very interesting speech. I was intrigued to hear him using the Floor of the House to give some advice to the leaders of his party. Perhaps he could not get them to listen to it in any other part of the building, or perhaps anywhere else. At all events, he gave the Leader of the Opposition a strong hint about what he ought to put in his policy in due course.
Then we come to the next group, those who hold—this is the argument of the hon. Member for Bristol, South-East, too—that the problem is one not of composition but of powers. I believe that I am quoting the hon. Member for Bristol, South-East correctly; I do not want to get it wrong. I think that his argument was that if we solved the powers problem the composition side of it would be easy.
We ought to look into that matter a little further. I think that the hon. Member and many of his hon. Friends agree that there is a place for a revising and debating Chamber. What are the powers? They are the right to revise; and revision must surely involve some element of delay. I agree that how long the delay should be is open to a great deal of argument, but we cannot have an efficient body if it has merely a revising function.
I cannot say that I am at all attracted to the idea of the right hon. Member for South Shields (Mr. Ede), of a body which merely does the work of a Parliamentary draftsman, checking after the Bill is through. I do not think that there is much support for that idea judging by the debates that we have had, but there is substance in the argument that the House of Lords should be a revising and debating Chamber. Then we simply come down to the argument of how long it can delay in its revising task and the other things it has to do.
Surely the point is this. Nobody objects to the 99 Amendments which the Lords move and which the Commons accept. The objection is when the Commons do not accept a Lords Amendment. It is on such occasions, I believe, that the will of the Commons should prevail immediately.
The process goes on, backwards and forwards. It is a very useful method of securing wisdom, but what the extent of the delay should be is open to argument. That is the fundamental problem where there is a difference between the two sides.
I would remind those who were arguing that this is a subtle Bill and that we are seeking to do things through the back door, in a dishonest way or whatever it might be, that several times in recent years attempts have been made to ascertain whether there could be useful discussions about a comprehensive reform. We know the fate of the discussions in 1949. We know what happened to the Bryce Report. However, no one can say that this side of the House is irretrievably wedded to the hereditary principle in the House of Lords exactly as it is today. It is clear that there are differences of views among my hon. Friends just as there are on the other side of the House. To say that the Bill is merely a bolstering up artificially of the principle of hereditary peerages is nonsense.
Some specific questions were asked by the right hon. and learned Member for Newport (Sir F. Soskice). He asked about the numbers. He said that he had pressed through all the stages of discussion on the Bill to ascertain how many new peers would be created. I have not been able to check through the Committee stage debates, but I remember it being said on Second Reading—by myself, I think, and certainly by others—that the situation is exactly as the Bill says. There is no limit; there is no maximum or minimum figure in the Bill. Therefore, to ask how many peers will be created implies a complete failure to understand the purpose of the Bill. I repeat—perhaps I shall have to go on doing so ad nauseam, because it needs saying—that it is simply a widening of the existing line of entry to the other House.
If one laid down in the Bill, or had a clear vision in one's mind of the num- bers that it was wanted to bring into the other House every year, that would not be in accord with the purpose of our definitely limited Bill. We shall have to see what successive Prime Ministers think wise, see who are willing to come and what type of experience is considered desirable, and whether the people who have that experience will be prepared to serve in another place.
It is evidence of misunderstanding of the Bill to ask for a specific reply on the question of numbers. I hope that that question is now answered. The right hon. and learned Gentleman stated that he had repeatedly tried to get an answer on this subject. I have now given it to him, not by saying that I cannot answer it but by saying that the purpose of the Bill is not to lay down a specific number of people. The number will he dictated by the circumstances that I have described.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman's next questions arose from a very complicated procedure. I congratulate him upon having remained in order. They relate to the payments to peers. I hope that Mr. Speaker will look kindly on my attempts to reply without getting into too much trouble. The right hon. and learned Gentleman put a straight question: will the new peers be paid?
And how much?
The answer, as I think the right hon. and learned Gentleman knows very well, is that there is nothing about it in the Bill. That is why we are both in difficulties in speaking about it today. The position in the House of Lords at present is that there is a daily allowance for expenses. There are no other proposals in sight at the moment. However, one thing is very clear. Throughout all the discussions on the Bill concern has been expressed on both sides about the need for some form of payment if the other place is to go on in the way that a great many of us hope it will.
From that, the right hon. and learned Gentleman went into rather extravagant wording. I think that he used the phrase "a new field of undesirable patronage". I assume that that phrase was used because he feels that in the future there may have to be a better method of remuneration than has yet been devised if people are to give their time to the necessary work in the other place. But why did it necessarily have to be on a lifetime basis, which was really the charge? The right hon. and learned Gentleman's charge was that there would be this very big role of patronage by making appointments which carried, for life, a salary—and the word "pension" was used by someone.
That is not the solution. This matter has to be studied very carefully, because something, sooner or later, may have to be done about payment. But when that is done, it need not open up this horrible spectacle that the right hon. and learned Gentleman suggested of the pension. It could quite easily be done by means of an extension of the expenses principle but, of course, it is too soon to know what the right answer may ultimately prove to be. We have at present these proposals that are being worked on by a Select Committee of the House of Lords, and when some experience is gained on how they work it may point the way to other developments. In other words, in this, as in so many other matters in the British Constitution, we are doing things by stages, and seeing where each stage takes us before we jump too far.
I think that those were the only two clear questions which the right hon. and learned Gentleman asked, although he took ten minutes to ask them, but if there are any more, perhaps he will tell me—
I thought that I had made it quite clear that this was all very hypothetical, and that there are no proposals in the Bill, or going around; but I frankly accept that, as has emerged from every responsible speech made in this debate, there is a problem which, sooner or later, must be tackled—and it may be sooner rather than later.
The hon. Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Bowles), in an interjection, made a remark that struck me so forcibly that I should like to deal with it. He said that nobody on that side of the House or in the Labour Party throughout the country had any use for a second Chamber. I think that that is almost exactly what he said, and it is a very sweeping remark to make. I agree that if one goes out into the streets and asks someone what he thinks about the House of Lords one may get a very amusing answer, but how many people have really studied in detail how the House of Lords works in our Constitution?
As it happens—and surprisingly enough, perhaps—I have given quite a number of talks to non-political parties about the functions of the Houses of Parliament—
Yes, that is one, and there were a lot there, too.
When it is explained, there is an intense interest in the work of the second Chamber. I know that for years any member of the Labour Party running out of a subject in his speech can always have a rollicking ten minutes at the end by attacking the other place—that is alwaysgood for a cheer—but, equally, one can get extreme interest from almost any audience after one has explained not only the value of its work in helping the House of Commons to produce good legislation, but in the protection to our British constitutional method of government that such a Chamber gives.
I would remind right hon. Gentlemen opposite who do not believe in the principle of two Chambers of the experience we had of single-Chamber government in this country. The Rump Parliament lasted from 19th March, 1649, to December, 1657—if my history is correct—and Cromwell himself brought it to an end. That was uni-cameral government, and of that Parliament Cromwell himself said that
It was the horridest arbitrariness that ever existed.
The hon. Gentleman will realise that almost as soon as that second Chamber was abolished the Government of the day appointed a committee to see whether or not a second Chamber should be recreated, and that committee reported that it should be created again. I think that I am right in saying that—
Summing up, I repeat what has been said so often in this debate. The charge that there is something sinister and dangerous in this Bill is, of course, nonsense. I accept that one of the purposes of the Bill is to see that the second Chamber, which performs such an invaluable function, has its composition in line with what modern conditions demand. I believe that it is essential, in present conditions, that if the Prime Minister of the day wants to recommend the appointment of new peers he should not be limited to those who are prepared to accept hereditary peerages.
I am convinced that this Bill can be a very useful step forward in our constitutional history, and, in spite of what has been said on the other side, I sincerely hope that the House will give it its support.
|Division No. 84.]||AYES||[7.1 p.m.|
|Agnew, Sir Peter||Arbuthnot, John||Balniel, Lord|
|Allan, R. A. (Paddington, S.)||Ashton, H.||Barber, Anthony|
|Alport, C. J. M.||Astor, Hon. J. J.||Barlow, Sir John|
|Amery, Julian (Preston, N.)||Atkins, H. E.||Barter, John|
|Amory,Rt.Hn.Heathcoat(Tiverton)||Baldock, Lt.-Cmdr. J. M.||Baxter, Sir Beverley|
|Anstruther-Gray, Major Sir William||Baldwin, A. E.||Beamish, Col. Tufton|
|Bell, Philip (Bolton, E.)||Grimston, Hon. John (St. Albans)||Maddan, Martin|
|Bell, Ronald (Bucks, S.)||Grimston, Sir Robert (Westbury)||Maitland, Cdr. J. F. w. (Horncastle)|
|Bennett, F. M. (Torquay)||Gurden, Harold||Maitland, Hon. Patrick (Lanark)|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald||Hall, John (Wycombe)||Markham, Major Sir Frank|
|Bevins, J. R. (Toxteth)||Hare, Rt. Hon. J. H.||Marlowe, A. A. H.|
|Bidgood, J, C.||Harris, Reader (Heston)||Marples, Rt. Hon. A. E.|
|Bingham, R. M.||Harrison, A. B. C. (Maldon)||Marshall, Douglas|
|Birch, Rt. Hon. Nigel||Harrison, Col. J. H. (Eye)||Mathew, R.|
|Bishop, F. P.||Harvey,Sir Arthur Vere(Macclesf'd)||Maudling, Rt. Hon. R.|
|Black, c. W.||Harvey, Ian (Harrow, E.)||Mawby, R. L.|
|Body, R. F.||Harvey, John (Walthamstow, E.)||Maydon, Lt.-Comdr. S. L. C.|
|Boothby, Sir Robert||Harvie-Watt, Sir George||Milligan, Rt. Hon. W. R.|
|Bossom, Sir Alfred||Hay, John||Molson, Rt. Hon. Hugh|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hon. J. A.||Head, Rt. Hon. A. H.||Moore, Sir Thomas|
|Boyle, Sir Edward||Heald, Rt. Hon. Sir Lionel||Morrison, John (Salisbury)|
|Braine, B. R.||Heath, Rt. Hon. E. R. G.||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles|
|Braithwaite,Sir Albert(Harrow,W.)||Henderson, John (Cathcart)||Nabarro, G. D. N.|
|Bromley-Davenport, Lt.-Col. W. H.||Hesketh, R. F.||Nairn, D. L. S.|
|Brooke, Rt. Hon. Henry||Hicks-Beach, Maj. W. W.||Neave, Airey|
|Brooman-White, R. C.||Hill, Rt. Hon. Charles (Luton)||Nicholls, Harmar|
|Browne, J. Nixon (Craigton)||Hill, Mrs. E. (Wythenshawe)||Nicholson, Sir Godfrey (Farnham)|
|Bryan, P.||Hill, John (S. Norfolk)||Nicolson, N. (B'n'm'th, E. & Chr'ch)|
|Bullus, Wing Commander E. E.||Hirst, Geoffrey||Noble, Comdr. Rt. Hon. Allan|
|Butcher, Sir Herbert||Hobson, John (Warwick & Leam'gt'n)||Nugent, G. R. H.|
|Butler,Rt.Hn.R.A.(Safrron Walden)||Holland-Martin, C. J.||O'Neill, Hn. Phelim (Co. Antrim,N.)|
|Carr, Robert||Hope, Lord John||Ormsby-Gore, Rt. Hon. W. D.|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Hornby, R. P.||Orr-Ewing, Charles Ian (Hendon, N.)|
|Channon, Sir Henry||Hornsby-Smith, Miss M. P.||Osborne, C.|
|Chichester-Clark, R.||Howard, Gerald (Cambridgeshire)||Page, R. G.|
|Clarke, Brig. Terence(Portsmth,W.)||Howard, Hon. Greville (St. Ives)||Pannell, N. A. (Kirkdale)|
|Cole, Norman||Howard, John (Test)||Partridge, E.|
|Conant, Maj. Sir Roger||Hughes Hallett, Vice-Admiral J.||Peel, W. J.|
|Cooke, Robert||Hulbert, Sir Norman||Peyton, J. W. W.|
|Cooper, A. E.||Hurd, A. R.||Pickthorn, K. W. M.|
|Cooper-Key, E. M.||Hutchison, Sir Ian Clark (E'b'gh, W.)||Pike, Miss Mervyn|
|Cordeaux, Lt.-Col. J. K.||Hutchison, Sir James (Scotstoun)||Pilkington, Capt. R. A.|
|Corfield, Capt. F. V.||Hutchison, Michael Clark (E'b'gh, S.)||Pitman, I. J.|
|Craddock, Beresford (Spelthorne)||Hyde, Montgomery||Pitt, Miss E. M.|
|Crosthwaite-Eyre, Col. O. E.||Hylton-Foster, Rt. Hon. Sir Harry||Price, David (Eastleigh)|
|Crowder,Petre(Ruislip—Northwood)||Iremonger, T. L.||Price, Henry (Lewisham, W.)|
|Currie, G. B. H.||Jenkins, Robert (Dulwich)||Prior-Palmer, Brig. O. L.|
|Dance, J. C. G.||Jennings, J. C. (Burton)||Profumo, J. D.|
|Davidson, viscountess||Jennings, Sir Roland (Hallam)||Rawlinson, Peter|
|D'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Johnson, Dr. Donald (Carlisle)||Redmayne, M.|
|Deedes, W. F.||Johnson, Eric (Blackley)||Rees-Davies, W. R.|
|Digby, Simon Wingfield||Jones, Rt. Hon. Aubrey (Hall Green)||Remnant, Hon. P.|
|Dodds-Parker, A. D.||Joseph, Sir Keith||Renton, D. L. M.|
|Donaldson, Cmdr. C. E. McA.||Joynson-Hicks, Hon. Sir Lancelot||Ridsdale, J. E.|
|Drayson, G. B.||Kaberry, D.||Rippon, A. G. F.|
|du Cann, E. D. L.||Keegan, D.||Roberts, Sir Peter (Heeley)|
|Dugdale, Rt. Hn. Sir T. (Richmond)||Kerby, Capt. H. B.||Robertson, Sir David|
|Duncan, Sir James||Kerr, Sir Hamilton||Rodgers, John (Sevenoaks)|
|Duthle, W. S.||Kershaw, J. A.||Roper, Sir Harold|
|Eccles, Rt. Hon. Sir David||Kimball, M.||Ropner, Col. Sir Leonard|
|Eden, J. B. (Bournemouth, West)||Kirk, p. M.||Sandys, Rt. Hon. D.|
|Elliott, R.W.(Ne'catleuponTyne,N.)||Lagden, G. W.||Scott-Miller, Cmdr. R.|
|Emmet, Hon. Mrs. Evelyn||Lambton, Viscount||Sharples, R. C.|
|Errington, Sir Eric||Langford-Holt, J. A.||Shepherd, William|
|Erroll, F. J.||Leather, E. H. C.||Simon, J. E. S. (Middlesbrough, W.)|
|Farey-Jones, F. W.||Leavey, J. A.||Smithers, Peter (Winchester)|
|Finlay, Graeme||Leburn, W. G.||Smyth, Brig. Sir John (Norwood)|
|Fisher, Nigel||Legge-Bourke, MaJ. E. A. H.||Soames, Rt. Hon. Christopher|
|Fletcher-Cooke, C.||Legh, Hon. Peter (Petersfield)||Spearman, Sir Alexander|
|Forrest, G.||Lennox-Boyd, Rt. Hon. A. T.||Speir, R. M.|
|Fort, R.||Lindsay, Hon. James (Devon, N.)||Spence, H. R. (Aberdeen, W.)|
|Fraser, Hon. Hugh (Stone)||Lindsay, Martin (Solihull)||Spens, Rt. Hn. Sir P. (Kens'gt'n, S.)|
|Fraser, Sir Ian (M'cmbe & Lonsdale)||Linstead, Sir H. N.||Stanley, Capt. Hon. Richard|
|Freeth, Denzil||Llewellyn, D. T.||Stevens, Geoffrey|
|Galbraith, Hon. T. G. D.||Lloyd, Rt. Hon. G. (Sutton Coldfield)||Steward, Harold (Stockport, S.)|
|Gammans, Lady||Lloyd, Maj. Sir Guy (Renfrew, E.)||Steward, Sir William (Woolwich, W.)|
|Garner-Evans, E. H.||Lloyd Rt. Hon. Selwyn (Wirral)||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir Malcolm|
|George, J. C. (Pollok)||Longden, Gilbert||Storey, S.|
|Gibson-Watt, D.||Lucas, P. B. (Brentford & Chiswick)||Stuart, Rt. Hon. James (Moray)|
|Glover, D.||Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Studholme, Sir Henry|
|Glyn, Col. Richard H.||McAdden, S. J.||Summers, Sir Spencer|
|Godber, J. B.||Macdonald, Sir Peter||Sumner, w. D. M. (Orpington)|
|Gomme-Duncan, Col. Sir Alan||McKibbin, Alan||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Gough, C. F. H.||Mackie, J. H. (Galloway)||Taylor, William (Bradford, N.)|
|Gower, H. R.||Maclay, Rt. Hon. John||Teeling, W.|
|Graham, Sir Fergus||Maclean, Sir Fitzroy (Lancaster)||Temple, John M.|
|Grant, W. (Woodside)||McLean, Neil (Inverness)||Thomas, Leslie (Canterbury)|
|Grant-Ferris, Wg.Cdr.R.(Nantwich)||Macmillan, Maurice (Halifax)||Thompson, Kenneth (Walton)|
|Green, A.||Macpherson, Niall (Dumfries)||Thompson, R. (Croydon, S.)|
|Gresham Cooke, R.|
|Thorneycroft, Rt. Hon. P.||Vickers, Miss Joan||Whitelaw, W. S. I.|
|Thornton-Kemsley, Sir Colin||Vosper, R. Hon. D. F.||Williams, Paul (Sunderland, S.)|
|Tiley, A. (Bradford, W.)||Wakefield, Edward (Derbyshire, W.)||Williams, R. Dudley (Exeter)|
|Tilney, John (Wavertree)||Wakefield, sir Wavell (St.M'lebone)||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Turner, H. F. L.||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hon. Derek||Wood, Hon. R.|
|Turton, Rt. Hon. R. H.||Wall, Patrick||Woollam, John Victor|
|Tweedsmuir, Lady||Ward, Rt. Hon. G. R. (Worcester)|
|Vane, W. M. F.||Ward, Dame Irene (Tynemouth)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Vaughan-Morgan, J. K.||Webbe, Sir H.||Mr. Oakshott and Mr. Wills.|
|Ainsley, J. W.||George,Lady Megan Lloyd (Car'then)||Mikardo, Ian|
|Albu, A. H.||Gooch, E. G.||Mitchison, G. R.|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Greenwood, Anthony||Monslow, W.|
|Allen, Arthur (Bosworth)||Grenfell, Rt. Hon. D. R.||Moody, A. S.|
|Allen, Scholefield (Crewe)||Grey, C. F.||Morris, Percy (Swansea, W.)|
|Anderson, Frank||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||Morrison,Rt.Hn.Herbert(Lewis'm,S.)|
|Awbery, S. S.||Griffiths, Rt. Hon James (Llanelly)||Mort, D. L.|
|Bacon, Miss Alice||Griffiths, William (Exchange)||Moss, R.|
|Baird, J.||Hale, Leslie||Moyle, A.|
|Balfour, A.||Hall, Rt. Hn. Glenvil (Colne Valley)||Mulley, F. W.|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hon. F. J.||Hannan, W.||Noel-Baker, Francis (Swindon)|
|Benn, Hn. Wedgwood (Bristol, S.E.)||Harrison, J. (Nottingham, N.)||Noel-Baker,Rt. Hon. P. (Derby, S.)|
|Benson, Sir George||Hastings, S.||O'Brien, Sir Thomas|
|Beswick, Frank||Hayman, F. H.||Oliver, G. H.|
|Bevan, Rt. Hon. A. (Ebbw Vale)||Healey, Denis||Oram, A. E.|
|Blackburn, F.||Henderson, Rt. Hn. A. (Rwly Regis)||Oswald, T.|
|Blenkinsop, A.||Hewitson, Capt. M.||Owen, W. J.|
|Blyton, W. R.||Hobson, C. R. (Keighley)||Padley, W. E.|
|Boardman, H.||Holman, P.||Paget, R. T.|
|Bonham-Carter, Capt. M. R.||Holt, A. F.||Paling, Rt. Hon. W. (Dearne Valley)|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hon. A. G.||Houghton, Douglas||Palmer, A. M. F.|
|Bowden, H. W. (Leicester, S.W.)||Howell, Charles (Perry Barr)||Pannell, Charles (Leeds, W.)|
|Bowen, E. R. (Cardigan)||Howell, Denis (All Saints)||Pargiter, G. A.|
|Bowles, F. G.||Hoy, J. H.||Parker, J.|
|Boyd, T. C.||Hughes, Cledwyn (Anglesey)||Parkin, B. T.|
|Braddock, Mrs. Elizabeth||Hughes, Emrys (S. Ayrshire)||Paton, John|
|Brockway, A. F.||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Pearson, A.|
|Brown, Rt. Hon. George (Belper)||Hunter, A. E.||Peart, T. F.|
|Burke, W. A.||Hynd, H. (Accrington)||Pentland, N.|
|Burton, Miss F. E.||Hynd, J. B. (Attercliffe)||Prentice, R. E.|
|Butler, Herbert (Hackney, C.)||Irvine, A. J. (Edge Hill)||Price, J. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Irving, Sydney (Dartford)||Price, Philips (Gloucestershire, W.)|
|Callaghan, L. J.||Isaacs, Rt. Hon. G. A.||Probert, A. R.|
|Carmichael, J.||Janner, B.||Proctor, W. T.|
|Castle, Mrs. B. A.||Jay, Rt. Hon. D. P. T.||Pryde, D. J.|
|Champion, A. J.||Jeger, George (Goole)||Pursey, Cmdr. H.|
|Chapman, W. D.||Jeger, Mrs. Lena(Holbn & St.Pncs,S.)||Randall, H. E.|
|Chetwynd, G. R.||Jenkins, Roy (Stechford)||Rankin, John|
|Clunie, J.||Johnson, James (Rugby)||Redhead, E. C.|
|Coldrick, W.||Johnston, Douglas (Paisley)||Reeves, J.|
|Collick, P. H. (Birkenhead)||Jones, Rt. Hon. A. Creech(Wakefield)||Reid, William|
|Collins,V.J.(Shoreditch & Finsbury)||Jones, David (The Hartlepools)||Rhodes, H.|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Jones, Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)||Roberts, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Cove, W. G.||Jones, Jack (Rotherham)||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)|
|Craddock, George (Bradford, S.)||Jones, j. Idwal (Wrexham)||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)|
|Cronin, J. D.||Jones, T. W. (Merioneth)||Robinson, Kenneth (St. Pancras, N.)|
|Crossman, R. H. S.||Key, Rt. Hon. C.W.||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)|
|Dalton, Rt. Hon. H.||King, Dr. H. M.||Ross, William|
|Darling, George (Hillsborough)||Lawson, G. M.||Royle, C.|
|Davies, Ernest (Enfield, E.)||Lee, Frederick (Newton)||Shinwell, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Lee, Miss Jennie (Cannock)||Shurmer, P. L. E.|
|Davies, Stephen (Merthyr)||Lindgren, G. S.||Silverman, Julius (Aston)|
|de Freitas, Geoffrey||Lipton, Marcus||Silverman, Sydney (Nelson)|
|Delargy, H. J.||Logan, D. G.||Simmons, C. J. (Brierley Hill)|
|Diamond, John||McAlister, Mrs. Mary||Skeffington, A. M.|
|Dodds, N. N.||McCann, J.||Slater, J. (Sedgefield)|
|Donnelly, D. L.||MacCoil, J. E.||Sorensen, R. W.|
|Dye, S.||McGhee, H. G.||Soskice, Rt. Hon. Sir Frank|
|Ede, Rt. Hon. J. C.||McInnes, J.||Sparks, J. A.|
|Edelman, M.||McKay, John (Wallsend)||Steele, T.|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. John (Brighouse)||McLeavy, Frank||Stewart, Michael (Fulham)|
|Edwards, Rt. Hon. Ness (Caerphilly)||MacMillan, M. K. (Western Isles)||Storehouse, John|
|Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||MacPherson, Malcolm (Stirling)||Stones, W. (Consett)|
|Edwards, W. J. (Stepney)||Mahon, Simon||Strachey, Rt. Hon. J.|
|Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Strauss, Rt. Hon. George (Vauxhall)|
|Evans, Edward (Lowestoft)||Mallalieu, J. P. W. (Huddersfd, E.)||Stross,Dr.Barnett(Stoke-on-Trent,C.)|
|Fernyhough, E.||Marquand, Rt. Hon. H. A.||Summerskill, Rt. Hon. E.|
|Finch, H. J.||Mason, Roy||Swingler, S. T.|
|Fletcher, Eric||Mayhew, C. P.||Sylvester, G. O.|
|Foot, D. M.||Mellish, R. J.||Taylor, Bernard (Mansfield)|
|Fraser, Thomas (Hamilton)||Messer, Sir F.||Taylor, John (West Lothian)|
|Gaitskell, Rt. Hon. H. T. N.|
|Thomas, Iorwerth (Rhondda, W.)||West, D. G.||Willis, Eustace (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Thomson, George (Dundee, E.)||Wheeldon, W. E.||Wilson, Rt. Hon. Harold (Huyton)|
|Thornton, E.||White, Mrs. Eirene (E. Flint)||Winterbottom, Richard|
|Tomney, F.||Wigg, George||Woodburn, Rt. Hon. A.|
|Ungoed-Thomas, Sir Lynn||Wilcock, Group Capt. C. A. B.||Woof, R. E.|
|Viant, S. P.||Willey, Frederick||Yates, V. (Ladywood)|
|Watkins, T. E.||Williams, David (Neath)||Zilliacus, K.|
|Weitzman, D||Williams, Rt. Hon. T. (Don Valley)|
|Wells, Percy (Faversham)||Williams, W. R. (Openshaw)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.|
|Wells, William (Walsall, N.)||Williams, W. T. (Barons Court)||Mr. Short and Mr. Deer.|