§ Considered in Committee.
§ [Mr. EMMOTT in the Chair.]
§ Question again proposed,—
§ "1. That it is expedient that the House of Lords be disabled by Law from rejecting or amending a Money Bill, but that any such limitation by Law shall not be taken to diminish or qualify the existing rights and privileges of the House of Commons.
§ "For the purpose of this Resolution a Bill shall be considered a Money Bill if, in the opinion of the Speaker, it contains only provisions dealing with all or any of the following subjects, namely, the imposition, repeal, remission, alteration, or regulation of taxation; charges on the Consolidated Fund or the provision of money by Parliament; Supply; the appropriation, control, or regulation of public money: the raising or guarantee of any loan or the repayment thereof; or matters incidental to those subjects or any of them."—[The Prime Minister.]
§ Mr. RAMSAY MACDONALD
In rising to resume the discussion, there is one remark I desire to make about precedents. What the House did in the fifteenth, the sixteenth or the seventeenth century has very little to do with what it proposes to do now. Its failure in those times to make effective its financial power is no reason whatever why it should not make those powers effective now. There is one point that has still to be met in respect to this section of the argument, and it is one that has been altogether missed by previous speakers. The right hon. Gentleman addressed himself most minutely to this part of the House as having quarrelled between themselves as to what actually has happened, but nobody has quarrelled upon this point, that during the development of our Constitution, the relations, and more particularly the financial relations, between the House of Commons and the House of Lords have altered, and that is the only point we need concern ourselves about. The constitutional precedent is, not what has been done, but that something has been done, and if anything at all has been done then it is perfectly constitutional that something else should be done. That is all we need to trouble about. The right 612 hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for St. Andrews University, dealing with the general question, brought forth a very exhaustive list of precedents, and so on, and the Attorney-General has addressed the House on the same subjects The two learned Gentlemen have this in common, and that is what I want to emphasise, because it is the only question, in my opinion, which is germane to the problem. Both the learned Gentlemen I have alluded to agree that something has been done and the logical consequence is that the House of Commons has a constitutional and legal right to pass these Resolutions, and pass them in the statutory form we are now discussing them in.
The only question is, have circumstances arisen to justify this particular Money Bill Resolution? I do not intend to discuss that subject fully, but after listening last night to the speech delivered by the hon. and learned Member for South Buckingham, I felt that something should be said, and it was rather because that speech was delivered that I tried to catch Mr. Speaker's eye. I think that speech brought the House to the real ground of battle, and that is, does the House of Lords or does it not afford any extra security or any proper security to the taxpayers of this country? If that proposition cannot be established, then it will go very hard with these Resolutions; if it can be established, then I venture to say the Resolution is sound. The hon. Member for South Buckingham, in his interesting speech, approached that proposition from various aspects, including the historical aspect. He laid down that the whole struggle for financial supremacy by this House amounted merely to this, that the outside taxpayer wanted to be protected by some sort of statutory provision. What did take place was that during all the centuries in which this struggle has extended, the taxpayer has attempted to secure that taxes should be levied only by a responsible authority. This is only the sequel to that struggle, because the proposition that the House of Lords is a responsible authority is really too absurd to entertain. It has no responsibility at all from the point of view of the taxpayer, and there is absolutely no difference in this respect between the 670 peers sitting in another place and Charles I. They are both in precisely the same position, and the question settled in the days of Charles I. that taxation shall be levied only by a responsible authority involved in its settlement the fate of the House of Lords as a 613 financial authority. That settled absolutely and finally, not only that finance should emanate from this House, and that this House should initiate the Finance Bill, but also that this House should have the final word upon Finance Bills. An hon. Member opposite, in an interesting speech, rather sneered at the House of Commons, which he said had sunk to be a mere appanage of the Cabinet, and so on. Does he mean to suggest for a single moment that he is not in favour of making the Whole House of Commons the financial authority? Does he mean to give over to private Members of this House a right to initiate financial legislation?
Nobody suggests it. The Cabinet and the Cabinet alone is the proper authority to initiate financial legislation in this House. Mr. Bagehot has pointed out in a way no one can dispute that, if this House indulges in philanthropy and glory, the Cabinet occupy precisely the same relation to this House as the breadwinner does to the family. The breadwinner has to provide for the philanthropy of his wife and the millinery of his daughters, and just in the same way the Cabinet, which is responsible for finding finance, for defending finance, and for proposing financial propositions, must be made the supreme authority in the initiation of finance in this House. Hon. Members for the purpose of the present Debate can sneer at that, and point out its apparent absurdities, and no doubt its absurdities are apparent, but, nevertheless, they ought, in the interests of good government and public spirit, to recognise the inevitable facts and necessary consequences of Parliamentary Government in relation to financial responsibility.
The hon. Member, moreover, forgot that, although we cannot propose financial legislation, we can reduce the extravagances of the Cabinet. The majority of the House of Commons is a check upon the Cabinet. The majority of the House of Commons can always reduce even if it cannot extend. It may be apathetic; I am not sure it is not too much apathetic, and, if hon. Members want to start a crusade to make it alive, they can depend upon my support. I shall be only too glad to take a hand in such a campaign. The hon. Member said, and said quite truly, that extravagance is beginning to be a characteristic of all Governments, and he suggested that the House of Lords was some sort of security against this extrava- 614 gance. As a matter of fact, it is nothing of the kind. If the House of Lords is to be made a security against this extravagance, then I submit it must not merely be endowed with power to reject a Finance Bill, but it must also be endowed with power to amend a Finance Bill, to take an interest in Supply, and, as a matter of fact, to rank on an absolute equality on all financial matters with this House. I do not think anybody opposite would put that proposition here in a serious way.
The House of Lords can do two things with reference to extravagance and its consequent taxation. Nobody suggests for a moment that the House of Lords rejected the Budget last year on account of the large sum of money provided in it. Nobody would suggest that. As a matter of fact, when they were telling us that the Budget was an iniquitous proposal, they were engaged on public platforms in the country asking us to supply more money to spend upon the Navy. They rejected the Budget, not because they wanted to reduce expenditure, not because they wanted to save the taxpayers, but because they wanted to decide that the burden should be on one class of taxpayers and not upon another class of taxpayers. That is the first thing which the House of Lords can do, not directly, but indirectly. If it retains the power which it now claims, but which it is proposed to take away by this Resolution, the House of Lords may differentiate between one taxpayer and another. The question is not whether there are to be taxpayers, but what section of the community are to bear the taxes, and on that issue I would rather trust the House of Commons and not the House of Lords. The second thing they may do is to decide—I am assuming that the powers they claim are to be retained— what form of extravagance the nation is going to indulge in. They cannot diminish the extravagance, but they may determine the form of it. For instance, at the present moment what is called extravagance —I am only quoting—arises from two main reasons. The first is that the sphere of State activity and of national responsibility to the individual is extending every day. That means money, and it means a big Budget. I do not care if hon. Members opposite change seats with us; they, too, would be faced with precisely the same difficulty, and their Budgets would go up exactly in the same way. There is another source of extravagance, a source which, to me at any rate, may best be described by the 615 modern facilities existing, particularly through the Press, for creating a state of panic in the public mind. This House and the other House, when finance comes before them, have to decide whether they are going to spend on the one object or the other, and on that account again, when we come to decide whether this House or the other House is, from the nature of the Constitution, the better equipped of the two Assemblies to decide which extravagance we are going to indulge in, I back the House of Commons and not the House of Lords. I am going to spend money on old age pensions and not on the Army and Navy. I am going to spend money on the development of the country, and not on buying out the Irish landlords at the extravagant rate which the House of Lords accepted without any qualms of conscience a few years ago.
It all comes to this. This House represents a certain sentiment, and the other House represents another sentiment. Both sentiments are occasionally extravagant, and must, in the nature of the case, continue to be extravagant. We have no choice but to say whether the House of Commons method of extravagance, the democratic method of extravagance, or the House of Lords method of extravagance, the aristocratic method of extravagance, is going to be supported. There are different ways of weighing that question up in the balance, and that is why we are here, and why we do not agree with each other in this House. I hope there will always be two sides in this House, and perhaps more than two sides occasionally, in accordance with the general attitude taken up by men regarding what the nature, the rapidity, and the extent of the progress in the future are going to be. There will always be disagreement upon those fundamental points, and those fundamental disagreements will be expressed by different parties in this House. The proposition implied in the interesting speech of the hon. Member for South Bucks was that the taxpayer who is subject to extravagance on our part should protect himself by trusting to a body over which he has no control, and should refuse to trust us, a body over which he has absolute control. That proposition van surely not be assented to even by Members on the other side of the House who are anxious to find valid reasons to take them into the Lobby against this Resolution.
616 The gist of the argument, as it seems to me at any rate, is this. There are certain classes of taxpayers in this country that prefer the House of Lords to be the supreme financial authority. I mean by the supreme financial authority the authority which has the power of rejection. Such is the supreme authority. They have a loaded pistol in their coat-tail pocket. It is not always used, but it is there always and may be used. There are certain classes of taxpayers that prefer the House of Lords to be the supreme financial authority, because the interests of the House of Lords and their own interests happen to coincide. That is the position, but it is stated in a little more respectable and non-party language and is produced by hon. Members opposite as being a sort of sequel, up-to-date, of the struggle that culminated in our own Civil War. The proposition, as a matter of fact, is absurd. Nobody in their senses acquainted at all with the history of the struggle would commit themselves to support such a proposition. The hon. Member pursued the ordinary argument in connection with this Finance Resolution of exalting the House of Lords and debasing the House of Commons. He told us the House of Lords provides an independent check upon this House. He seemed to assume that this House is a miserable, vulgar-minded, partisan Assembly, always thinking of the main chance of saving its own skin, and so on, whilst the other House is a sort of Assembly of demagogues sitting in a kind of Olympus, where the ordinary winds of public opinion never blow, with no concern for their own pockets, and no concern for the public opinion of Society, with a large S, absolutely impartial, thinking of nothing but the good of the whole nation, and never by any means subject to the temptation of condescending to look after their own interests when they have the opportunity. I should like to honour and revere and worship the House of Lords, but I must draw a line there. I must regard the House of Lords pretty much in the same way as I regard this House, and I am bound to confess that, if the membership of this House was a life tenure and I represented Leicester, not for three or four years, but for the whole term of my natural existence, I doubt very much whether I should have the national interests so much in my mind as I have under the present circumstances. The best of us require spurs in order to make us do right, and there is nothing that places an assembly in an absolutely 617 impossible position as a national assembly more than a life tenure of seats on the part of the Members who compose that assembly.
We are told that the Commons are controlled by a mere chance majority, and that the Commons yield simply to the despotism of Cabinets. Why is there not a chance majority when hon. Members opposite are in office? We have heard that certain Bills passed by the last Parliament would not be passed by this Parliament, but would Bills passed by the Parliament before last have been passed by the last Parliament? These arguments, as a matter of fact, cut both ways, showing surely that they are absolutely worthless as a contribution to the Debate. This is how the position of hon. Members opposite strikes me. They say the existing situation is wise, that it is venerable, and that it is absolutely just in all its workings. But, then, they supplement that by a still more disputable dictum—that the Conservative party is the Constitution. We were told, for instance, on the first day of the Debate, by the Leader of the Opposition, what a piebald arrangement was going to be introduced if these Resolutions became the law of the land. He talked about harlequinades and things of that sort, his point being that you have one kind of constitutional weapon at one time and another at another time. His idea is apparently that when he is in office the Constitution will operate without any checks at all, but when another party is in office the Constitution is going to operate with all the checks in full working order. If any idea is piebald, that surely is. They want to secure the taxpayer by making their own party predominant in the State. They want to abolish the possibility of Money Bills being passed by a chance majority by placing themselves permanently in power, and, finally, they suggest that when a Progressive Government is in office it should content itself with the right of initiating Money Bills, while when he and his party are in office they claim, not merely the right to initiate, but also the final word. That is not a constitutional arrangement which I should regard as ideal or fair. We claim and we recognise that there are impulses for change and stagnation. We therefore recognise that there will be Tory Governments and Progressive Governments. Hon. Members opposite may laugh, but the whole point is that they are urging that whether the Tories are in the majority or in a minority they are to 618 have the final word on Money Bills. That is just our difficulty. The trite truism which I am making bold to enunciate in this House, although no doubt they would reject it with scorn, is that we are going to have Liberal Governments and Tory Governments, and if the Constitution is going to work thoroughly satisfactorily when there is a Progressive Government in office, it ought to have precisely the same powers to carry out its will as a Conservative Government has when it is in office. That is all I have to say upon this question. This Resolution deals with Money Bills which are most important from a constitutional point of view, and, therefore, whatever happens to the other Resolutions, there ought to be no doubt whatever that everyone who wants a balanced, just, and fair Constitution should support this Resolution.
§ Mr. KEIR HARDIE
May I ask whether you can say at what stage the Amendments to this Motion which are on the Paper are likely to be reached? Is the general discussion to go on throughout the whole sitting?
§ The CHAIRMAN
I have called upon Members so far who desire to speak on the general question, because I understood that was most convenient to the Committee, but I think that the Amendments should have a chance of being discussed. I know there are some hon. and right hon. Gentlemen who still desire to take part in the general discussion, but I propose, after a few more speeches, to call upon the hon. and learned Member for Kingston (Mr. Cave), who has the first Amendment on the Paper that is in order. I will give him his chance, and after that we can go on with other Amendments.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
I will endeavour to compress my observations within as narrow limits as possible in order to give opportunities to hon. Members who desire to move Amendments. I understand the question before the Committee may be very simply divided in this way—the question of what the Constitution is and what it ought to be. The hon. Member for Leicester, who has made a very interesting speech, referred in general terms to the Constitution as it is. I think he misapprehended the criticisms from this side which have been made against the House of Commons as it is. Those criticisms were not intended to be unfriendly to the House of Commons as a body. They were 619 against the way in which things now work under the growing influence of the party system. Not, indeed, that we are opposed to the party system or to the two-party system, but it must be manifest that the party system is growing in rigidity and strength, and that, with its, growth, the power of the House of Commons as a whole is diminishing. Let me give a single illustration to make that point clear. If we were merely considering the House of Commons, and nothing but that, my right hon. Friend the Leader of the Opposition ought to have more influence over legislation than the hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. Redmond) or the hon. Member for the Blackfriars Division of Glasgow (Mr. Barnes). But it is notorious that my right hon. Friend has much less influence, and, although he leads a party of 270, a party representing a great body of voters in the country, he has a much smaller voice in determining what is going to be done, whether in finance or in legislation, than the hon. Members for Waterford and Glasgow, and I might also add the hon. Member for Kirkcaldy (Sir Henry Dalziel), who is the leader of still another party We might talk all day here on the floor of the House of Commons dealing with important points in the Budget, but the true centre of power for these purposes has shifted. That power has passed into the Ministerial Lobbies. More than that the hon. Members for Waterford and Glasgow, by going outside the walls of this House and seeing the Prime Minister or the Chancellor of the Exchequer, may be able to obtain various important modifications. Is it not clear, therefore, that the House of Commons as such has largely lost its power. There will always be a mechanical function; it will always be necessary for the exercise of influence over the Government and to threaten that they will vote this or that way, but that is a purely mechanical function. The hon. Member says we seek to mitigate this evil by an appeal to a body which is essentially irresponsible. I do not think he correctly interprets the hon. Member for South Bucks when he supposes that he desires the House of Lords should minutely supervise finance. I do not think anyone desires that. A much more modest claim is put forward, and that is that in very extreme cases, when innovations are introduced, innovations of social and political importance, then the House of Lords should in- 620 tervene. I do not admit that the House of Lords in this matter is irresponsible. They claim only the power to submit the Bill to the people. They claim the power to subject it to revision by a higher authority. They do not say "this is our view, you must take it or leave it." The House of Lords is not irresonsible in matters of finance, but they say, "We insist on submitting these matters to the people. We insist on the people having an opportunity of judging them." I do not want to weary the House by appeals to authority as to the existing practice regarding the Constitution, but there is one authority I would like to quote, because it is very significant of what is true constitutional doctrine. Those who have studied the procedure of Parliament carefully know that the House of Lords has the right, and a constitutional right, of omitting money clauses from ordinary Bills. This right has been exercised on these grounds. In Sir Erskine May's "Parliamentary Procedure" I read:—On the 30th July, 1867, it was very clearly put by Earl Grey and Viscount Eversley that the right of the Lords to omit a clause, which they were unable to amend, relating to a separate subject, was equivalent to their right to reject a Bill which they could not amend without any infraction of the privileges of the Commons.Therefore it will be seen that the right of the House of Lords to reject Money Bills was taken as a matter of course by Lord Eversley, and he founded on it the doctrine that they might cut out from private Bills money clauses. The Attorney-General last night drew attention to the distinction between Grants and the law which carries out the form of the Grant. I am inclined to think that the distinction was a perfectly safe one. It seems surprising he should think it necessary to defend it. It is vital to his case. It is a different thing to have the right to make a Grant, and to have the right of giving consent to someone else to make it. The owner of a settled estate may spend money properly belonging to the settlement on certain purposes of public utility, like the erection of cottages, but for that purpose he must get certain consent, including the consent of the Board of Agriculture. No one disputes that the owner makes the grant out and out himself, yet he is required to get certain consent in order not to abuse that power in the interests of other persons concerned. That shows the great distinction between making a grant yourself and consenting to someone else making a grant. The power of the House of Lords is just 621 analogous to that. They have the power to refuse consent to the House of Commons to make a Grant, but they take no part in making the Grant themselves. Therefore the language of Mr. Pitt, so frequently quoted, does not traverse our case at all. Mr. Pitt's language is that the Commons make the Grant, and the Lords clothe it with the form of law, and that is perfectly true. You see the constitutional practice very clearly in the forms of Parliament. We have here the apparatus for making Grants. We have Committee of Supply and Committee of Ways and Means, and the House of Lords has no such procedure. On the other hand, however, the House of Lords have the full stages which relate to the passing of the law. They read a Bill the first, second, and third time, and in respect to Committee, so nicely does procedure follow the constitutional doctrine, they have a sort of intermittent practice—sometimes they put the Finance Bill into Committee, as it were, to assert their right, which they have always maintained, though they very commonly suspend the Committee stage and pass it over altogether. In this way procedure exactly corresponds with the exercise of constitutional right. That shows anyone who is a student of the Constitution, as I hope I am, the true scope of the functions of the two Houses; one makes the Grant, the other consents, or does not consent, to the carrying of the Grant out in the form of law.
I fully admit that if that power to reject Money Bills were to be used very freely, or very frequently, it would be highly inconvenient to the State, but there are a great many powers which would be highly inconvenient to the State if they were used often or ordinarily, but which, nevertheless, it would be undesirable to abolish. This House has the power of refusing the Supplies necessary to the government of the country, but they do not usually exercise that power, and when the Attorney-General speaks of the importance of usage I wonder what becomes of the communications that the party opposite contemplate withholding Supplies during the present Session. If usage counts for anything and actually determines Constitutional right, this House has long lost the power of refusing Supply. It certainly has not refused Supplies since the time of Charles II., so that it can hardly claim on the matter of usage any right at all. There is another illustration: The King has the power of dismissing his Ministers. The last case in 622 which that power was exercised was in 1834, and it is the general opinion of historians that it was then injudiciously exercised, but it has not ceased to exist. Of course, however, if the King habitually dismissed his Ministers the whole basis of popular Government would break down, The truth is that our Constitution abounds with powers which, if they were exercised constantly, or used unwisely or improperly, would arrest the whole work of the Constitution. From that I draw this inference that the House of Lords may quite safely and properly be allowed the power of rejecting Money Bills on rare occasions arid for special reasons. Can it be maintained that the Budget of last year was anything but a rare occasion and did not afford special reasons? I believe it to be true, and I invite those who are students of history to canvass the proposition, that there has never in the whole of our financial history been a proposal laid before the House of Lords which excited opposition so general, widespread, and influential as the Budget of last year. The repeal of the Corn Laws may seem to be an exception, but as that proposal was supported by the leaders of both political parties it was not such a controversial proposal as the Budget of last year. The only other legislative proposal so controversial as last year's Budget was Sir Robert Walpole's Excise Bill, and that was dropped in the House of Commons, and never came before the House of Lords at all.
The truth is that the ordinary rule of finance in this country is to keep out of controversy as long as possible. As long as we had no controversial Finance Bill or only slightly controversial Finance Bills laid before the House of Lords, no case arose for the Lords exercising their existing legal rights. What hon. Members have to prove is that the House of Lords has so flagrantly abused and misused one of its legal and constitutional powers that it must be deprived of it by law. The hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald) began his speech this afternoon by trying to show that this House had at any rate the right to initiate a constitutional change. Of course they have a perfect right to initiate any legislative change they please, but if he means by that they are acting in accordance with precedent in this matter, they certainly are not. There have been repeated disputes between this House and the other House of Parliament, and between this House and the Crown, and these disputes have never 623 been settled by legislative enactment, but by the growing practice and the flexible operation of public opinion. Take, for instance, the two questions of the right of the House of Lords to amend Money Bills and the right of this House to tack legislation on to Money Bills. These two questions are regarded as tolerably clear constitutional points, but they have never been settled by legislative enactment. The House of Lords has always maintained its right to amend, and this House has never admitted it. Why do not the Government leave this matter to be decided in the same way by public opinion? Because they know very well that the slow operation of public opinion will not do what they want it to do, because the more this matter is scrutinised the more it will be seen that it is necessary to have a Second Chamber which will scrutinise these matters. We draw attention to the great danger of including in Finance Bills matters which really are of political and social interest, and that is not a fictitious danger. So recently as 1897 the Government included in an Appropriation Bill a provision for erecting schools out of public money. That was contrary to the policy of Parliament as expressed in the Act of 1870. There was an express enactment in the Act of 1870 declaring that no more public money should be given to build schools, but the Government would not repeal that enactment or bring in a separate Bill dealing with the matter. They took a Vote in Supply for the erection of schools, and they put a clause carrying out that purpose in the Appropriation Bill, and that repealed the Act of 1870. I do not say that was tacking in form, but it was no doubt tacking in spirit. In reality, it was carrying out the object of an educational policy by a financial Bill. Of course, the methods for building these schools were perfectly well known, they were part of the educational policy of the Government, but I will put it that if you can do that in respect to schools you can do it with respect to national workshops. What is to prevent the Government from setting up any scheme for dealing with the unemployed under an Appropriation Bill?
Under the compulsion of the Labour party I think they are not unlikely to put a clause in an Appropriation Bill to carry out the doctrine of the right to work, and they can provide national workshops or any form of industrial activity which they can carry out within the four corners of a 624 Money Bill. Mr. Speaker would not, under this Resolution, be able to stop them, though it would in reality be carrying out a political purpose by financial means. After all, tacking is not a mere technicality, and what objection has been taken is to the reality—that is to say the carrying out under the powers of this House relating to finance some policy relating to matters which are not financial. [An HON. MEMBER: "Tariff Reform."] Tariff Reform comprises political as well as financial matters, and I should not object to a Second Chamber reviewing it. I should be glad to see them doing it. The difficulty is with the Chancellor of the Exchequer—not with me. I do not wish to withhold any financial measure whatever from the supervision of the Second Chamber. What danger do the Government propound? The danger which they propound is that the Executive Government shall fall under the control of the House of Lords. If they are really apprehensive of that danger, which, I think, is fictitious, there would be no difficulty in carrying Resolutions through both Houses, declaring that Ministers are responsible to this House and not to the House of Lords, and that the latter is not entitled to use its financial powers in order to establish such responsibility. It is said that the House of Lords forced a Dissolution last December. That is really not correct, because what the last Parliament really died of was complications. It could never have died of the rejection of a Bill by itself, but what it died of was the rejection of the Bill, complicated by the doctrine which prevailed in this House on the Treasury Bench that it was impossible to make the slightest concession to the action of the Lords in rejecting the Bill. That aggravated the outlook; but supposing we had a reformed House of Lords on the lines of the Foreign Secretary and the Secretary for War, and therefore had a Second Chamber in their view as well as ours commanding the confidence of the whole country, what conceivable objection would there be to such a Second Chamber rejecting a Finance or an Appropriation Bill? That Chamberex hypothesiis not a Chamber which is disapproved of on either side of the House, it is one which enjoys the confidence of both parties as being specially qualified for this task, and when a rejection takes place there is no difficulty in making such rearrangement as is necessary. You may postpone the issue until it is convenient to take it, and in- 625 convenience such as was caused last December by the rejection of the Budget was due to the doctrine that this House could not with any dignity take measures to avoid that confusion. Had not the doctrine existed that confusion might have been easily prevented. When the Secretary of State for War says you cannot have two masters, and you must have one Assembly supreme in finance, he overlooks the example of all Second Chambers in the world. They all have control of finance. I do not believe there is a Second Chamber in the world which has not a voice in finance of some kind or other. What is the use of saying it cannot be done when everywhere it is done? What is the use of saying it produces chaos when everywhere there is order? It is plain that universal human experience destroys the case of the Government on that point. Second Chambers everywhere have control of finance— everywhere it works smoothly, and the case put forward by the Secretary of State for War is proved by experience to be untrue.
The Secretary for War, pursuing finally his case, went on to say that these proposals for destroying the financial and legislative authority of the louse of Lords were only parts of a much larger scheme, and again he made a statement which is demonstratively incorrect. He said you cannot divide the two parts of the Ministerial scheme the one from the other, and it is manifest that you can and have done so. He said it was an organic whole. Who ever heard of an organism which was divided by twelve months of time into two parts? Saint Gengulphus is the only organism I ever heard of who was treated in that fashion. Saint Gengulphus was cut up into several pieces, and he retained organic life. That is a very unusual circumstance, and I do not believe myself that the Government's scheme of dealing with the House of Lords could similarly be cut in two halves and yet the half which is cut off still retain any life. I very deeply regret, on more grounds than one, that the Foreign Secretary and the Secretary for War have consented to this very strange way of avoiding the difficulties which they feel. If it be true that reform of the second Chamber is necessary, and that you ought to set up a reformed Second Chamber, beyond all doubt to pass this or the Second Resolution is an act of folly. Is it possible that gentlemen so acute as 626 those two do not see that they are blowing hot and cold, and that to set up a reformed Second Chamber is to make a strong Second Chamber? It is the very opposite of what the House is now invited to do. If you set up a Second Chamber which has a larger measure of public confidence than the present House of Lords, it is quite certain that the Second Chamber will sooner or later have at least as much power as the House of Lords, and probably a great deal more. Public confidence inevitably draws to itself Parliamentary power. Nothing is more certain than that if you reform the Second Chamber you establish a Second Chamber which is much more widely respected than the present one. If it is not, the Chamber will not be weaker, but stronger than this one.
I quite understand the position of those who say, "We do not want a Second Chamber at all; we wish for no check on the single Chamber"; and I quite understand the position of those who say, "We want a strong Second Chamber, because a single Chamber often makes mistakes in finance as elsewhere, and we wish those mistakes to be corrected." I quite understand also the argument which is often made use of, that the Second Chamber should check the Unionist party as well as the Liberal party. By all means produce a proposal for checking the Unionist party, and see whether we cannot have it by general consent. What is positively foolish, I suggest, is to maintain the proposition that you ought to have a Second Chamber, and that the Second Chamber shall not control finance and shall have no voice whatever in finance when it is clear that a Finance Bill can be stretched to cover anything, and that finance is in any case an important subject. How can you possibly defend the proposition that the First Chamber may make mistakes, and thus stand in need of correction and checking, but, nevertheless, is to be trusted with the whole finances of the country and with every legislative project which can be ingeniously dragged within the four corners of a Finance Bill? How can anyone with any intelligence in his head defend such a proposition as that? It really is as plain as possible, either that you do not want a check on the First Chamber at all, or that it is not to be trusted in the matter of finance. The Chief Secretary for Ireland tells us that is all very well, but we have here a historic House of Commons, as if the historic House of Commons did business as we do 627 business, as though it was bound by the party system as we are, as though it had guillotine Resolutions and closure by Standing Orders, as though it had caucuses calling Members to account, as though it had the whole mechanism of lobbying and log-rolling which now manages the business of this House. What eke have hon. Gentlemen been doing in the last two months except lobbying and log-rolling? The most important decisions have been taken, or are being taken, on which this House as a body, and my right hon. Friends on this bench, and hon. Gentlemen behind them, have had no say whatever. We sit in the House of Commons, we do not sit in the Ministerial Lobby, and accordingly we have none of the high authority which belongs to those who sit in the Ministerial Lobby, who are really controlling the business of Parliament.
§ Lord HUGH CECIL
We do not even sit at Lansdowne House. That interruption merely shows that the party system has, though to a slighter extent, spread to the other House as well as to this. I do not dispute that for a moment; but what is the use of calling attention to defects in the other House which you do nothing to remedy? All the real evils you leave absolutely untouched, and on the top of this you have a large number of others, which have now, happily, no existence whatever. I regret very much the action of the two right hon. Gentlemen I have named in abandoning the cause of the reform of the Upper House in spite of their strong convictions. I do not suspect them of any but the most elevated motives, but it has become too much the practice to allow considerations of personal and party loyalty to stand in the place of devotion to the public and to the public interest. It has happened on both sides in politics, and I greatly regret that right hon. Gentleman should not have seen that the moment a Minister becomes at issue with the majority of his party and the majority of his colleagues on a great question of public importance which is a dominating question, which cannot be possibly subordinated, they consult the public interest and their own reputation, and even the interest of their party, better in the long run by resigning the offices they hold, and as long as they continue in office 628 they hold a false position and a weak position. These right hon. Gentlemen are in the same position to-day as the late Duke of Devonshire was after the delivery of the Leader of the Opposition's Sheffield speech. Whenever a Minister is in that position he is in a false position, and he would be acting wisely to bring that false position to a close. I am convinced that whether you look at the Constitution as it is, or whether you look at the Constitution as it ought to be, you will equally decide against this Resolution. It is certainly a violation, a change in the Constitution itself. It is also a contradiction of the Constitution and of every country which has a Second Chamber. It is against universal, or almost universal, human experience, it is against common reason, it is against everything to which human argument can make appeal.
§ Dr. CHAPPLE
The Noble Lord who has just sat down said that all Second Chambers had at least some control over finance, but it is a fact that the amount of control which is given to all the new Second Chambers in recently made constitutions depends upon the place from which those Second Chambers have drawn their power. It is true that the Senate of the Australian Constitution, a constitution drawn up after mature consideration, after several conventions of the whole Australian people, after the statesmen of Australia had met and decided to establish an entirely new Constitution, drawing from the experience of the United States of America, Canada, the German Empire, and their own experience in constitution making, decided to give the Second Chamber control over finance. But they also decided that the Second Chamber should derive its power from the people only. If you are going to have any division of power, and at the same time allow two Chambers to derive their power and their authority from the people, you can well afford to make that power co-ordinate. The Second Chamber in Australia has the power to reject but not to amend a Money Bill. If it rejects that Bill on three successive occasions, and a General Election has intervened between the second and the third occasion, then there is a joint sitting of both Houses, and a majority of all the Members of the Lower House and of the Senate— not of the Members sitting at the joint Session—determines whether the Bill is to pass or not. The Second Chamber in the Australian Senate is elected by large-constituencies on exactly the same franchise as the Lower House. It is therefore 629 possible for the Senate to reject any candidate who comes before them after that candidate has given a vote in the Senate upon any particular measure, and if you then give the people the power of determining who shall represent them in the Second Chamber you can afford to give that House a certain amount of authority and power over finance.
In the case of the House of Lords, they derive no authority from the people, and they do not represent the people. The hon. Member for South Buckinghamshire declared that the function of the three elements in the realm was to protect the taxpayer. But which taxpayer? There is a clashing of interests between the various groups of taxpayers in this country, and the self-interest which is represented in this House and the self-interest which is represented in the House of Lords are diametrically opposed to each other. Self-interest, I admit, is the basis of human activity and of political activity. One may convert a sordid self-interest into an enlightened self-interest, but that is the most that we can expect from reform. The House of Lords has rejected measures in the past in obedience to its own instinct of self-preservation and to its own self-interest. It has rejected reform measures, it has limited the franchise, it has opposed the ballot, it has passed the Education Bill of 1902, it passed the Licensing Bill of 1904, it rejected the Education Bill of 1906, it rejected the Licensing Bill which followed, and it rejected the Budget, all in its own self-interest or in the interest of the class for which it stood —the landed interest, the liquor interest, and the interest of class and privilege. These interests are diametrically opposed to the interests which the majority in this House represent. I appealed to my Constituents on behalf of their own personal interests. I invited them not to have their food taxed, but to tax the other fellow. Self-interest is the basis of the speeches which I make. I do not object to that. I do not object to the self-interest which is represented in the House of Lords, but I do object to the House of Lards having a monopoly of the opportunity of protecting their self-interest to the exclusion of the self-interest of the rest of the community. That is what they enjoy. They enjoy privileges and opportunities. They enjoy a power which enables them to entrench their own self-interest to the exclusion of the self-interest of those whom we represent.
630 5.0 P.M.
If that is so, it is a question for this House whether it will so amend the Constitution as to enable the great mass of the people who have interests to represent to see that those interests get fair play in the Second Chamber.
The hon. Baronet who represents Oxford University (Sir W. Anson) said we had to- oppose the taxing of any particular class out of existence by means of the Budget. I fail to see wherein lies the justification for that statement. Surely the Land Tax is not taxing any particular class out of existence. The paltry tax of ½d. in the£ on idle land is one which a landowner may get out of if he chooses. All he has to do is to use his land, and so get out of the tax. I fail to see where the duty on unearned increment is taxing anyone out of existence. No one has to pay until he has a profit in hand, and then he is allowed to retain 80 per cent, of that profit. How can anyone be said to be taxed out of existence if he is allowed to retain 80 per cent, of the profit which he makes on his deal? It is said that the Land Tax is tacking, because it has an incidental and collateral advantage. There is no doubt that the ½d. tax on land values will, while raising a certain amount of taxation, have at the same time the collateral advantage to the State of tending to bring land into use. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, in proposing the tax, may have had a double-barrelled motive. His first motive was to raise revenue. We were faced with a deficit of £16,000,000, and that money had to be raised in some way. I fail to see that the function of the Budget is not properly used if it is proposed by the Budget to raise revenue, even when it has an incidental and collateral advantage. The tax on whisky was primarily to raise revenue, and whether it had an incidental and collateral advantage or not, it was imperative that revenue should be raised. If the pro motion of temperance was a collateral advantage of that tax, I think we have some thing to rejoice over, but I do not think it should be considered tacking because an incidental or collateral advantage was to be derived from it. If the Chancellor of the Exchequer were to decide to put on a graduated land tax for small holdings purposes, and to increase it to a penny, penny halfpenny, and right up to fivepence on large estates, in such a way that those who have large areas of the land would be induced to cut them up and put them into the market, making the land available for small holdings—
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. Gentleman is going far too much into detail. I would ask him to keep in mind the real subject we are debating is the Resolution now before the Committee.
§ Dr. CHAPPLE
I am sorry if I have transgressed in that matter, but I thought I was following the arguments of proceeding speakers who argued that tacking was an objection to a Budget. I will endeavour to keep within your ruling. A good deal has been said of the legal right of the House of Lords to reject a Budget. It seems to me that while that may be very interesting and of very great importance to legal luminaries, it is not of vital importance to the people at the present time. The fact remains that the House of Lords have the power to reject a Budget, and that they demonstrated that power by rejecting the Budget of last year. We have now to see whether or not the possibility of the inconvenience and financial chaos which resulted from their action should be allowed to remain. We, on this side, desire that such an alteration shall be brought about in the Constitution as to prohibit them from inflicting such injustice on the finance of the country again. I regret exceedingly that for the first time in British history we have to depart from an unwritten Constitution. The fact that we have grown from smaller to greater things by the process of evolution, and that we have gradually moulded the British Constitution of which we are so proud, is something that appeals to my love of tradition. I regret exceedingly that we have to forego the advantage of having an elastic Constitution which we can mould from time to time as circumstances arise, and which we can adapt to the changing interests of the hour, but we have now by law to bind the House of Lords over to keep the peace in relation to the democracy. It is not sufficient merely to pass these Resolutions. We will have to have a written Constitution defining absolutely the powers of this House and the powers and limitations of the other House. We cannot be content with these Resolutions even in the region of finance and legislation. Those countries which have found it necessary to define the powers of the Lower House and the limitations of the Upper House have also found it necessary to have elaborate laws controlling these, and to establish a High Court as well, with the right to interpret the Constitution. Under our Constitution in the past we Lave advanced from precedent to prece- 632 dent, and now because violent hands have been laid on the Constitution by the House of Lords we have to bind them over to keep the peace. The Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University (Lord Hugh Cecil) said that if the House of Commons had power to pass any financial measures without any restriction from the House of Lords, any measure, or a money clause included in any measure, might be forced upon an unwilling country if the present very salutary check were removed. If it were possible to establish national workshops, or if it were possible to increase the tax upon land to such an extent as practically to nationalise the land, the same objection could be made to the Income Tax. If it is possible to put a shilling tax on income, it would be possible to put on a 20s. tax, and that would be absolute socialism. The motive of the Government in imposing these taxes is not to bring about socialism but to raise revenue for the needs of the hour. That is done by putting on as small a tax as possible. I think that is the function of a finance measure, and if you tax for any other purpose, you may call that socialism and say that is exceeding the power which the Government ought to have under a Finance Bill. I think if you are going to assume that the House of Commons has gone mad, that the democracy wants to be revolutionary, and wants to send representatives here who are going to entirely change the whole organised progress which the past represents, then, I think, you might find introduced some revolutionary measure such as the Noble Lord has suggested; but while you assume the innate conservatism of the democracy you are not likely to have anything so revolutionary as the Noble Lord suggests. The right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcestershire (Mr. Austen Chamberlain) said that in 1831 no peers were created, and that no precedent was established then for the creation of peers. But the power of a Sovereign to do a thing of that kind is often quite sufficient, and the power and the threat to do it was sufficient then. Might not the power and the threat to do it be sufficient under present circumstances?
An hon. Member suggested that we might get over this difficulty by a joint Session. That is the method adopted under the Australian and the South African Constitutions for getting over a deadlock with regard to finance, but there the joint Session is brought about because both Houses derive their power from the people.
633 While under the Australian Constitution the Upper House may not amend or initiate a Money Bill, it may reject such a Bill thrice; but it has absolutely no power of veto. That, I think, is the distinction between the old and new Constitutions of the world. The Second Chambers under new Constitutions have absolutely no power of veto, though they have the power to delay. The Australian Parliament is forced to pass any financial measure which has behind it the will of the people, in spite of all the forces that can be arrayed against it. It is required in the Constitution that each financial measure must deal with one particular tax only, but a Bill may be sent up three times in succession to the Upper House, and after the third occasion a joint Session determines whether that measure shall pass.
§ Dr. CHAPPLE
There must be a Dissolution in Australia, but not in the case of South Africa, and we have to remember that in Australia the Lower House is elected for three years, and there can be no Dissolution brought about by the Governor-General within the last six months of the last year. The Dissolution takes the place of an ordinary General Election, and the second passage of the Bill after the General Election entitles the finance measure to be carried by a joint sitting of the two Houses, where the majority rule. In South Africa a Dissolution for a General Election has been done away with altogether, and the Senate can only reject a measure once, and immediately it is rejected the Governor-General has power to convene a sitting of both Houses, and a majority of the sitting, not a majority of all the Members of both Houses, rejects or passes a measure. When the Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University (Lord Hugh Cecil) claimed for the Upper Chamber in all the new Constitutions some control over finance, we have to distinguish between control which is measured by the power which that Constitution derives from the people and the irresponsible power which is exercised at present by the House of Lords. We cannot give to an irresponsible Chamber any control whatever over finance. You can increase the control over finance only if they derive their power from the same source as the House of Commons derives its powers. We derive our powers from the people, we are responsible to the people, and while that is so we are entitled to sole and absolute control over finance; 634 and we can only concede to the House of Lords any right over finance fn proportion as it will under some future Constitution derive its powers directly from the people.
§ Mr. SAMUEL ROBERTS
Yesterday afternoon the right hon. Gentleman the Secretary for War moved this Resolution in a very able speech. The wording of the Resolution is to this effect: that it is expedient that the House of Lords be disabled bylaw from rejecting or amending a Money-Bill. I take it from those words that it is-implied by the Government that at present the House of Lords is enabled to do this which this Resolution is going to take away from it. The right hon. Gentleman spoke in a very able manner as to the history of the relations between the House of Lords and themselves on this Question, but unfortunately for him and his colleagues the whole of the authority is against his argument. First of all, we have the great financial authority of Mr. Gladstone. Mr. Gladstone said most distinctly that he was against interfering with the financial authority of the House of Lords, because he thought it ought to be used in case of emergency. This is one of the cases of emergency which the late Mr. Gladstone evidently intended to be an exception to the general rule. Then we come to a colleague of the right hon. Gentleman in this present Government, Lord Morley, who in a speech the other day admitted fully that the House of Lords had a legal right to reject the Bill, and, further, not only admitted that, but said that there were occasions when it was really the absolute moral duty of the House of Lords to reject a Finance Bill. It is not necessary to quote further, but there are statements by Lord John Russell, Lord Spencer, and the present Lord Chancellor, all of them admitting that the House of Lords had a perfect right to reject a Money Bill. The Prime Minister has told us that he is not going to plough the sands in this matter. I should like to ask him if he thinks he is ploughing the sands at the present moment. This operation which we are going through in passing these Resolutions is, in my opinion, ploughing the sands. Ploughing the sands, I take it, is doing a thing which is going to bear no fruition; and the Government must know that it is quite impossible that these Resolutions can meet with any success. They must know that the House of Lords must throw these Resolutions out when they reach that House. Have the Government considered 635 the position of the House of Lords on this Question? Can they possibly think that that House can admit these Resolutions which are to destroy its power—because that is what it comes to? Do they think that the House of Lords, the Upper House of the Mother of Parliaments, can, with any self-respect, submit meekly and mildly to these Resolutions and allow them to go through? It is utterly impossible. Therefore, at the present moment the Government are doing what the Prime Minister said they would not do, namely, ploughing the sands.
If we look to all Legislatures all over the world, both in foreign countries and in our Colonies and Dependencies, we shall find that the Upper Chamber has in every case the power to interfere with Money Bills. Generally they cannot originate a Money Bill, but they can reject it, and in some cases they can amend it. Take the case of our neighbour, France. The Senate of France acts, as I heard it well stated the other day, not so much as a hostile Chamber to the Chamber of Deputies, but as a wise and cautious partner. I am quite sure it is the wish of this Chamber that the House of Lords should in all cases act with this House as a wise and cautious partner; and I contend that in the past history as between the two Houses of Parliament, on the whole, that has been the case. It is perfectly true that the House of Lords at the present moment is proposing to amend its Constitution. I think rightly so. The Lords have a history which goes back before the history of this House. They are Lords because they were, barons 700 or 800 years ago, and their power has descended from that day to this. It is not their fault that they are in this position as a hereditary Chamber. Notwithstanding that there may be persons—I do not quarrel with and do not wish to deny it— that there are persons who simply because they come into an inheritance are not persons suitable to take part in the deliberations of the House of Lords, yet, on the whole, that House has acted extremely well. I was in Scotland the other day, and a very wise Scotsman said this to me. "Sir, I quite understand at the pre sent moment that there are representatives in the House of Lords whom the British people would not consider fit to make laws for them; but the laws are made by a small body in the House of.Lords, who are fit and capable and have shown themselves fit and capable, to act 636 in that way." A return was made to this House only the other day, a very useful one which I hope hon. Members generally will see, showing the powers and disabilities with regard to finance and general legislation of Second Chambers in our British Colonies. The most recent ones, of course, are Australia and the Transvaal. Take the case of the Transvaal. According to the letters patent the Legislative Council may either accept or reject a Money Bill proposed by the Legislative Assembly, but may not alter it. I think we may take that generally to be true of all British Colonies, namely, that the Finance Bill must be introduced in the Lower Chamber, and the Upper Chamber has the right to reject the Bill as a whole; and, as I have said, in some of the other foreign countries also the Upper Chamber has a right to reject the Bill.
I quite admit that this power of dealing with the Finance by the Upper House ought to be used very cautiously and very sparingly. We all admit that it has been so in past history between these two Houses. In fact, the occasions on which the Upper House has interfered are so few that the right hon. Gentleman yesterday, in his speech, stated to this House that the cases in which the House of Lords has interfered with anything like a Money Bill have been in cases where some other extra matter has entered the Bill. For instance, he quoted the case of a Lottery Bill. There the main object was not money, but to establish a lottery, and the House of Lords objected to that principle. In the same way, with regard to this Budget, it was not the House of Lords so much objected to the raising of the money, it was that they objected to other matters being brought in on the principle of tacking so as to get reforms constituted and brought about by means of a Money Bill. That is a position which I venture to submit is the correct position for an Upper Chamber to adopt, namely, that if it is of opinion that by means of a Finance Bill the Lower Chamber is endeavouring to pass legislation on social or other matters, it is the duty of the Upper House either to reject or to defer that Bill. In this case these Resolutions would not have been proposed by the Government on the present occasion unless the House of Lords had thrown out the Budget last December. The Government were trusting to the country in their appeal to back them up against the House of Lords, but the reverse has happened. The people's Budget has been rejected by 637 the people. We all know that a majority in this House has been returned against the principles of the Budget. [HON. MEMBERS: "NO."] And that that has created the whole difficulty. If that had not been the case the Government would immediately when Parliament met this Session have proceeded to introduce the Budget. In fact the Prime Minister said it would be his first duty to introduce the Budget immediately Parliament met again. He would not do it because he knew that a majority had been returned against the principles of the Budget. We all know what has taken place during the last month. The Government has been driven to postpone the Budget, although we have been told that it was to come on every moment.
I do not know whether the House will allow me to warn them what happened after King Charles I. had lost his head. The House is aware that Parliament sat for four years and passed a Resolution on 6th February, 1649, to this effect—that the House of Peers in Parliament is useless and dangerous, and ought to be abolished, and that an Act be brought in for that purpose. During those four years a good many things happened. That single Chamber destroyed our legal system, it suppressed the liberty of the Press, taxed individuals, including the Lord Mayor of London, it starved our Navy, and allowed the Dutch to become masters of the Channel.
§ Mr. SAMUEL ROBERTS
All that happened during that short period, these three or four years, when the House of Lords was abolished. It ended in their passing a Resolution, or an Act, to perpetuate their own existence, by co-opting or re-electing when vacancies occurred in their body. That was too much for Cromwell, who entered the House one day and abolished it altogether. I sincerely hope that such an event may never again occur, but that in future we may see the two Houses working together as far as possible to the great benefit of our nation. The House of Lords are willing to try and meet us in every way they can, by reforming their constitution, but there would be no chance of reform under these Resolutions, and you cannot expect that Assembly to take them lying down, and be content to continue as the Second Chamber under the conditions imposed.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
Having spoken at considerable length a little more than a week ago on the subject of these Resolutions, and in view of the fact that a not inconsiderable amount of time has been consumed in this Debate by the occupants of the two Front Benches, I should certainly not have intruded at all on the patience of the House, and I should not do so for more than a very few minutes had it not been that one or two challenges —I think I may call them challenges— have been specifically addressed to myself. In the first place, the right hon. Gentleman the Member for East Worcestershire (Mr. Austen Chamberlain), in the course of his speech yesterday, raised a point which I do not think is really relevant to the Resolution we are now considering. I did not think it right at the time to interrupt his speech, but I promised that I would meet it on the first available opportunity. The right hon. Gentleman discovered, or thought he discovered, an inconsistency between what I said on the first night of the Session in regard to the intentions of the Government to introduce and carry through all its stages a Bill embodying the principle of these Resolutions and the course which was announced and justified by us two or three nights ago. I quite agree, and I have always acknowledged, that the Government in that respect have changed their plans and intentions, but that change was not made yesterday, not within the week—that change was made in the first three or four days of the Session. I am going to make good my point. On the first night of the Session I said that we did not intend to submit these Resolutions to the House of Lords, and, therefore, it would have been necessary, in order to obtain the judgment of the House of Lords on the matter, that a Bill should be passed through all its stages in this House, and then sent to the Upper House for consideration and decision there. But only a week later, on the 28th February, I announced that the Government had changed their plans, and if I am not wearying the Committee I should like to read the exact language I used upon that occasion. I quote from the OFFICIAL REPORT what I said:—If this House should assent to the Resolutions, a Bill, to give effect to them, will without delay be introduced—Lord HUGH CECIL: Not the proposals for reform?The PRIME MINISTER: The operative proposal of the Resolutions.Lord HOGH CECIL: The academic proposals will not be included?639The PRIME MINISTER: We shall see whether they are academic when the time comes. The Bill will give effect to the operative parts of the Resolutions, but without waiting for that Bill to pass through all its stages in this House, we have come to the conclusion — and in this respect only I have to vary what I said about procedure a week ago—that in order to avoid waste of time and labour, and to bring the main issue to trial and conclusion at the earliest possible moment, the Resolutions so assented to by this House will be submitted to the House of Lords.That is exactly the course which the Government have taken. From that day to this we have never deviated in our intention and purpose, and there has been no change of plan of any sort whatever.
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
There is no indication in those words that the Government would not proceed with a Bill. That is merely an announcement that the Resolutions would be sent to the House of Lords.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
What value or meaning does the right hon. Gentleman attach to my language—"In order to avoid waste of time and labour, and to bring the main issue to trial and conclusion," we shall submit the Resolutions to the House of Lords? Surely everybody who heard me must have understood what I said: If we found that by the decision of the House of Lords upon the Resolutions to proceed with the subsequent stages of the Bill would be merely inviting this House to embark upon a perfectly sterile and unprofitable course, we held ourselves free to absolve them from any such useless task. We are accused of changing our plans and the right hon. Gentleman seemed actually to accuse us of shuffling from day to day, but our position is perfectly plain and consistent. From the moment that declaration was made we have pursued it without deviation right through. I admit that this is not very relevant to the point before the Committee. I apologise for introducing the matter, and I should not have done so but for the direct challenge of the right hon. Gentleman.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
We understand our position very clearly. I come now to what is really germane to the proposition from the Chair. Here again, though I think the ground has been amply covered by the speeches of my hon. and right hon. Friends, my assertion has been challenged —it was made when I moved that the 640 House should resolve itself into Committee more than a week ago—that this particular Resolution, although it provides a statutory safeguard and new machinery, was in reality neither more nor less than a reaffirmation of an existing constitutional right. That statement was challenged, and challenged at great length, and, of course, with much ability, but I must say with less than his usual habitual courtesy, by my right hon. Friend the Member for the University of Edinburgh. I will endeavour to make that good. I will not go into any very obscure and antiquarian researches. No one who understands anything of our Constitution supposes that the House of Commons, started on its existence, like Minerva emerging from the brain of Jupiter, clothed in the full panoply of financial or of any other kind of independence. Nothing of the sort. The progress of this House in asserting its independence in matters of finance was slow and tentative and has been the work of centuries, and the importance of the precedents of 1628 and 1671, to which my right hon. and learned Friend thought it was almost disingenuous on my part to draw the attention of a popular audience, is not as establishing at that day that the constitutional right of the House of Lords to reject Money Bills has been affirmed or approved, but as showing the steps upon the road, the landmarks on this great constitutional highway by which, stage by stage, we eventually have attained that result. None of these is irrelevant. I am not going into the details, but I will just summarise the effect of them. In 1628, when the change was made in the form of the Preambles of Bills, the importance of these things is that they were acquiesced in. They were not merely empty or boastful assertions on the part of this House of privilege which was not acknowledged elsewhere. When the Amendment was made as to words which had always previously occurred in the Preamble of every Money Bill, as they occur now in the Preamble of every other Statute, which made the Lords co-partners in the granting of public money for the Crown—when that Motion was made on the recommendation of a Committee of this House, containing the greatest lawyers in the land, and insisted upon by this House, and inserted, from that day to this in the Preamble of every Money Bill which received the Royal Assent, although there was at first demur on the part of the House of Lords, it was 641 ultimately acquiesced in, and there was established as a matter of right what had long been a right only from usage, namely, that this House, and this House alone, was concerned with the initiation of the granting of public money.
That is the first step. It may not, with all deference to my right hon. and learned Friend, be at all irrelevant to bring this first great step on the highway prominently to the notice of this House and of our fellow-countrymen outside. What is the next step? In 1628, it was established that the Lords had no share or voice in the granting of taxation. I pass over what occurred in 1640. The next step was that in 1671 and 1678, when the question was the claim of the House of Lords to amend a Money Bill, and the effect of what was done in this House, of the Resolution then passed, and of the usage which since prevailed is the second step, which was to deny to the House of Lords, any share in the application of money granted by Parliament. These are the two steps. First of all, you deny to the Lords the right to a share in the grant of Aids and Supply, and you deny to them a share in the right as to the application of the Grant. In both cases without any Act of Parliament, without any change in the Statute law of the Realm, the assertion made by this House was acquiesced in and assented to implicitly by the usage which has ever since prevailed. My right hon. Friend, who is a great lawyer and constitutional authority himself, in his very interesting speech the other day admitted that, as regards initiation and amendment, whatever the legal rights of the House of Lords, their constitutional powers have disappeared by disuse, and by disuse, let me point outr— for it is an important distinction—not merely arising from the absence of occasion to use it, but arising from the fact that, whenever this House directly challenged the right of the House of Lords to interfere, the House of Lords have not taken up that challenge, but have acquiesced in our decision. Now we come to the third step—the disappearance of the power of rejection. I speak not of legal right, but of constitutional power. Is it not a very remarkable fact that from the time of the Revolution until 1860, when the House of Lords rejected the Bill for the repeal of the Paper Duty, not one single case has been produced by any one of the great constitutional authorities who have addressed the House and the Committee on this subject of the House of Lords re- 642 jecting during 170 or 180 years a purely financial Bill sent up from this House? Not one case. It is quite true, as the Attorney-General has said, that there were thirty or forty cases of a trivial nature, and those were not rejection of financial proposals, but what were called in those days fiscal Bills for the regulation of trade, and which would not come within the ambit of the claim made by the House of Commons. Here there are two most significant facts which I ask the Committee to consider. If it were not that the House of Lords tacitly and by acquiescence and by user had acknowledged they had no constitutional right to reject a purely financial measure, and as to which, as my hon. and learned Friend said the other day there has been no answer, what was the origin and doctrine of tacking, or of what is called in Parliamentary phraseology multifarious-ness? When the House of Lords rejected a Bill on the ground that it was multifarious, on the ground that there had been annexed to financial proposals, proposals not germane, why did they resort to that other ground, and why did they take their stand on that ground? If they had constitutional power to reject a Finance Bill in the abstract, there was no necessity to talk about tacking. It was simply because the Lords recognised that as regards rejection to the same extent as regards either Amendments or initiation, their constitutional power was gone, and they took refuge in this doctrine of tacking, and from time to time a controversy arose as to whether a particular measure was really financial or not. That is the first indisputable fact in this chapter of constitutional history. There is another which I think is equally significant. Why was it that in 1860, when the Lords did, for the first time, as regards admittedly purely financial proposals of a serious character, exercise their legal right of rejection, why was it that there was all this tumult and turmoil, and a Select Committee appointed and solemn Resolutions passed? It was because every great authority in this House, even so Conservative as Lord Palmerston, was filled with indignation and surprise at an act absolutely unprecedented, and Resolutions were passed by this House which, while they recognised, I agree, and which no one disputes, that the House of Lords has the legal right to reject a Finance Bill, asserted at the same time that this House regarded the exercise of that right, the legal right, with the utmost jealousy, and 643 that they bad power in their own hands, and would use the power to prevent it if necessary.
§ The PRIME MINISTER
The Noble Lord, if he will forgive me for saying so, is rather fond of interrupting. I am going to read what I believe is the best authority that can possibly be given, and that is- the authority of Mr. Gladstone, the Chancellor of the Exchequer who proposed the repeal of the Paper Duty, and who in the subsequent year amalgamated in one Bill the whole of his financial proposals. I am reading from a speech Mr. Gladstone made at Edinburgh in September, 1893, immediately after the rejection of the Home Rule Bill by the House of Lords. Having described how in 1860 the House of Commons passed a Bill for the abolition of the Paper Duty, and that the House of Lords thought fit to reject it, he goes on:—What happened? The year 1800 passed quietly, the year 1861 arrives, and the House of Commons bethought itself of its position. The House of Commons had got then into the habit of sending to the House of Lords separately its financial proposals. The consequence was that those proposals, taken one by one, were at the mercy of the House of Lords.That is to say, legally at the mercy of the House of Lords.The House of Commons adopted a remedy beautifully simple—they determined to combine for the future all their financial proposals in one Bill, and any Assembly that threw out that Bill would have stopped Supplies and deranged the whole Services of the country.He prophesied what would happen.They knew very well that the House of Lords was not likely to enter upon a proceeding so obviously quixotic ! Since the year 1861 all the financial proposals have been joined in one Finance Bill. The consequence has been that the House of Lords during those two-and-thirty years has been totally and absolutely excluded from all influence whatever upon the finances of the country.That is Mr. Gladstone's recollection of what took place in 1861. Let the House observe there, again, that it was not as if this were a new practice. What the House did in 1861 was to recognise the practice to which, as I have said, no solid exception has been quoted in this Debate as having occurred during 150 years, and to safeguard the observance of that practice by throwing the whole of the financial proposals of the year into one Bill. That is the history of the matter, and if we are to be asked what is the opinion of great constitutional authorities I should like to read a passage from the work of a very 644 eminent Continental jurist, Professor Red-lich, of Vienna, who studied our Constitution here, and who has written a classical book on the procedure of the House of Commons, which is all the more valuable because it proceeds from a perfectly impartial foreign authority. I am quoting it from Volume III., 1908. After describing what happened in 1861, this learned authority says:—Amendment of the single-Money Bill was constitutionally impossible. For two hundred years the House of Lords had ceased to claim any such right. In face of the alternative presented to them the Lords could do nothing else than accede to the aggregate of financial proposals without exception. They could not bring themselves to reject the whole financial scheme of the year. For more than a generation now the Commons right to sole management of the country's finance has been asserted in this way; it is now both true in fact and accepted as a principle of constitutional law that the House of Lords is excluded from influence on money matters, and it can never expect to reassert a claim to possess any.Finally we have the authority, and as the right hon. Gentleman is here, he can tell us what the interpretation of his language is, the authority of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition. In a speech which many of us listened to, and which has often been quoted, and which was made in 1907, on the Debate on Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman's Resolutions, he said:—The power of the House of Lords is still further limited by the fact that it cannot touch those. Money Bills, which if it could deal with, no doubt it could bring the whole executive machinery of the country to a standstill.I do not quote the passage for the purpose of marking any inconsistency. We have all of us been inconsistent in our time. Still less do I quote it for the cheap and paltry purpose, which I am sorry to say is so frequently pursued by the baser class of controversialists in these days of ours, to take an isolated phrase from its context disregarding altogether the occasion on which, and the circumstances under which, it was spoken, and then trying to base a charge, it may be a breach of faith, or at any rate deception. It is not for that purpose I quote it. It seemed to us not a startling or novel doctrine at all. It seemed to us at the time to be a clear, unequivocal and emphatic testimony of a witness of the highest authority to an acknowledged and undisputed constitutional understanding. If the right hon. Gentleman tells us that it was not intended in that sense, that it had some other meaning, that even the most astute and friendly of his commentators have not yet succeeded in importing into it, the House will listen with complete assurance that the right hon. Gentleman is conveying his 645 meaning more clearly, but with a certain amount of regret that he should not have expressed himself differently. I cite that as perhaps a last of a long series of authorities which might with time and if need permitted me to quote, to show that the constitutional power as distinguished from the right of the House of Lords to reject Money Bills is as obsolete as is their right to initiate and amend. Therefore we, as I said last week, in this Resolution we are asking the House to affirm an existing and established practice. If that were not so, if you could show the power, as distinguished from the right of rejection, was a constitutionally living thing, then there would be all the more reason for getting rid of it. I say that for this simple ground: you cannot have two kings in Britain, you cannot have two masters to whom the Executive Government of this country is at one and the same time to be responsible. If you once establish the principle, the doctrine, that the House of Lords could control finance by the rejection of the Budget of the year and thereby paralyse the Executive Government of the day, then the responsibility of the Executive Government to this House becomes a shadow and a sham, and you might just as well revive the whole paramount power and ascendancy of the Crown itself. If there is any principle which we thought, until these recent discussions, had been well established and firmly rooted in our constitutional system, it was the responsibility of the Executive Government to the House of Commons and to the House of Commons alone. That principle is involved in this Resolution, and it is upon that ground I ask the House to accept it.
§ Mr. A. J. BALFOUR
The Prime Minister began his speech by expressing something like regret that so much of the very brief time allotted to the discussion of these Resolutions had been occupied by the Front Benches. I do not apologise for my own intrusion, because I have been challenged by two right hon. Gentlemen of the Front Bench opposite to deal with the question. Let me say the reason I regret some of the speeches that have been delivered from that Front Bench opposite is not that I differ from them, but that in my opinion they attempted to argue this matter on a line which is bad for their own case, and certainly bad for the proper discussion of such questions in the House of Commons. We had a speech of more than an hour from the Secretary of War, and a speech for something like 646 an hour from the Attorney-General, and they were entirely occupied in falsifying British history.
The right hon. Gentleman has improved upon the example set by his colleagues, because whereas they began to falsify British history about the year 1628, he has begun to do so only during the last fifty or sixty years. He has advanced a quite new but a much better account of what has constitutionally happened during the last 200 or 300 years. He says it is quite true that in 1628, 1670, 1700, and so on, the doctrine that the House of Lords had the right to reject Money Bills was affirmed or implied in the most explicit language over and over again; but the importance of these old precedents, he says, is not as showing that the House of Lords has now done anything inconsistent with what was then laid down, but as showing that there has been a progress of constitutional evolution since 1628, of which that is the happy culmination, or of which, at all events, the Resolution of 1860 was the happy termination. That is a better doctrine, at any rate, than that of the Secretary of State for War or of the Attorney-General, because they spent the time of the House and their own ingenuity in trying to prove what nobody with the smallest sense of historical accuracy could believe, namely, that what the House of Lords did last year was a contravention of the old constitutional doctrine. That cannot be proved, and no fair-minded historian can possibly imagine that that was done. Why our time should have been expended in listening to these subtleties, which I do not think convinced even the person on the other side who takes the least interest in our constitutional history, and certainly, on this side, convinced nobody who had any tincture of constitutional knowledge, I really cannot imagine. I agree that it is an old habit of lawyers in this House to deal with constitutional reforms in that way. It has constantly been done. These learned lawyers who lived in the seventeenth century, and were engaged in this great constitutional struggle, no doubt did pervert the true history of their country in order to show that the reform proposed and which they wished to see carried out was really the ancient and traditional practice of this House. It is perfectly well known that that method of procedure can be paralleled in many countries and in respect of many great interests. At certain 647 stages of social evolution it is a very-convenient way of glossing over a revolution, and it has been constantly employed both in the sphere of politics, in the sphere of social legislation, and in the sphere of theology. It is quite antiquated now, and I have no sympathy whatever with a lawyer getting up in the year 1910 and trying to explain to the House views said to have been taken in 1670 or 1700, which every human being knows nobody ever did take. I speak the more strongly upon this point, because I really believe that this ancient habit of ours of treating English history in the spirit of a party pamphlet has done a very great deal of harm. Some of our greatest historians up to the last twenty-five years have really spoilt their best work by never being able to forget contemporary history in their account of the past. I think there is a better spirit amongst modern historians, who have begun to realise that what we want to know is, not what arguments in our modern controversy can be extracted from the practice of our forefathers, but what our forefathers really thought about matters in their own day, what the old habit of thought was—which, indeed, we may cast aside as an old vesture, as of no use or value to the modern man, but which is of the profoundest interest. This habit of never looking at any incident in English history except in so far as it can be put into a party leaflet, is, to my mind, quite intolerable. The Prime Minister, at all events, began to pervert history rather later in the day, and that, I think, is an immense improvement. I do not see so much harm in perverting history from 1860 onwards, because that is continuous with the habitual perversion which goes on before our eyes in the from day-to-day fights between the two parties, and it does not poison the springs of history at the wellhead. Therefore I do not wish to be too severe on the right hon. Gentleman, who has shown an enormous improvement upon his own Attorney-General.
I come then to the right hon. Gentleman and what I call his more reasonable, because more recent, perversions of what has occurred in this country. He has quoted various authorities. The new authority which he has quoted, and I think it is the only new one, is a speech made by Mr. Gladstone in 1893, with regard to the transactions of 1860–61. I listened to that quotation, but I do not see that it affects the argument in the 648 least. I have not the words before me, but I gather that Mr. Gladstone's contention was that the House of Lords before 1860 found it too easy to interfere with Money Bills, because all Money Bills were sent up separately, and the House of Lords constantly or from time to time rejected some part of the provision made by the House of Commons for the service of the year. But in 1860, said Mr. Gladstone, an event occurred which compelled us in the House of Commons so to alter our procedure as to make it extremely difficult for the House of Lords. We altered our procedure accordingly; we put all the Money Bills into one, with the result that the House of Lords cannot touch them except on the gravest occasion and with the mose serious consequences. That is all that Mr. Gladstone said, as I understand, and I agree with him perfectly. That statement does not run counter to any contention of my hon. Friends behind me, nor, so far as I know, of any peer of authority. As regards the transactions of 1860–61, something more emerges than that the House of Commons took precautions for preventing the House of Lords from lightly interfering with the money arrangements of this House. That something more is that every single statesman of authority at that date asserted in the clearest terms, not that the House of Lords had a technical, antiquated, superannuated, obsolete right, but that they had a living right to reject Money Bills, and, as Mr. Gladstone thought, to amend them. I am surprised at that statement, but, at any rate he thought so. They all thought that the House of Lords had a living operative right to reject Money Bills. Mr. Gladstone said so; Lord John Russell said so; Sir James Graham said so; Lord Granville said so; Lord Palmerston said so—Lord Palmerston whom the Prime Minister described as a Conservative statesman, but who, so far as I know, was a consistent Liberal since the time he left the Tory party at the time of the Duke of Wellington's administration in 1828, or, at all events, since Lord Grey formed his Government in 1830^ This is what Lord Palmerston said:—It has never been contended that the Lords may not reject a Money Bill.Sir James Graham said:—We do not deny its power to assent to or reject j we-do say it has no power to alter.''And so it goes on. Every single authority in 1860–61 who spoke on this question, even those whose greatest 649 interest it was to imagine that the House of Lords had exceeded their constitutional powers, admitted that the House of Lords had not. Did the declarations end with the crisis of 1860–61 Can we look back over a blank as to declarations of public men between this time and that, in which this doctrine of 1861 might be forgotten, or a new practice might be supposed to have grown up, so that new authorities would have to be quoted? There have been authorities since then, and I am really astonished that nobody on the Treasury Bench referred to them, because they have been quoted several times on this side of the House. They are of the most explicit character. They are not casual utterances. They are utterances made by Radical Cabinet Ministers in the House of Lords with regard to the power of that House over money Bills. In 1894 Lord Spencer said:—We all know that in this House we cannot amend a Money Bill, hut we have a perfect right to discuss it, and a full right, to throw it out if we will.Is there any suggestion in those words that the right is extinct or obsolete? Lord Ripon said:—After all your Lordships cannot alter the Bill, but as you are not going to reject it, which you could constitutionally do.…The greatest authority quoted by the Prime Minister is no doubt myself. He said that I was the last great authority on this subject. He is quite mistaken. There have been explicit and clear statements since my speech on Sir Henry Camp-bell-Bannerman's Motion. One of those speeches was by his own Lord Chancellor, and the other was by his own Indian Secretary. Why did he not refer to either of those? He cannot deny that they were made. They are in everybody's mind. Lord Morley of Blackburn did not merely say that the House of Lords had a technical right to throw out the Bill. He did not even merely say, like Lord Ripon, that they had a constitutional right to do so. He said that it might be their moral duty to throw out the Bill. These are the most recent authorities, which I should have thought would have carried weight on both sides of the House, but, of course, they are not authorities which the Government ever like to quote or are anxious to rely upon. The authority upon which they apparently rely is the humble individual who is now unfortunately addressing the House. It seems, according to the view of the Government, that I used words in 1907 which contradicted the whole course of English constitutional history, which con- 650 tradicted every known authority upon the English Constitution, which contradicted the Journals of both Houses of Parliament, and which upset the dicta of Lord Palmerston, Mr. Gladstone, Lord John Russell, Sir James Graham, Lord Spencer, Lord Granville, and Lord Ripon; that the wisdom, the knowledge, which was refused to the wise and prudent was given to my uninstructed lips, and that when I blurted out this absolute novelty in constitutional doctrine I was immediately raised to a position of infallible authority. It never even occurred to me to suggest that there was anybody so ignorant in the House as to believe that the House of Lords could not throw out Money Bills. I was discussing the relationship between the two Houses of Parliament, and I said as regards that that the House of Lords cannot interfere with Supply. I said they cannot modify either the money or the taxes that we vote. I was explaining that their power, compared with our power, was a subordinate and entirely subordinate power, and especially subordinate in the matters of Finance. So it is. I was defending the system under which the Second Chamber in financial and other matters was subordinate to the representative Chamber. I think that one of the rocks upon which you are going to run, one of the injuries you are going to do this House before you finish the revolution which you have now begun, will be to do something which will give to the other House powers they do not claim now to exercise, and which you will never be able to refuse when reconstituting that House upon the model framed by the Secretary of State for War and the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. If any one will look candidly at the line of argument which I was pressing in that speech, if they will look at the words, they will see that the words perfectly carry out the argument I intended to express. Of course, if you choose to squeeze them, and to say, "You ought not to have used words which were so loose in their interpretation"—well, I cannot help that. I have not got the gift of preparing my speeches. I have not the least doubt that I most inaptly, carelessly, and unsuccessfully expressed my meaning. But the meaning was quite obvious. I may point out to hon. Gentlemen that when I am conscious of making a statement on constitutional law to this House that is contradictory of every authority—not one single authority has been quoted on the 651 bench opposite—in direct contradiction to every authority on both sides of the House for three centuries, I would suggest respectfully to the House that, though I may be right, I am in a minority. Some hon. Gentlemen think that is a ludicrous position to be in, that your words may be capable of an interpretation which you do not put upon them.
Supposing I went down to the Eastern Counties, and on coming back told a friend it was a level country, a plain perfectly level to the horizon. There is nothing at all grossly inaccurate in that. But, of course, some people might say "he does not know the world is round; he said the plain was perfectly level; he ought to know that every plain, when you look over it, has an apparent curvature corresponding to the curvature of the earth." I suggest to hon. Gentlemen that you must assume some knowledge in your audience. If I talk about the plain as being as a matter of fact perfectly level, I assume that, at all events, my audience know well enough that there is some slight curvature in it. When I speak in a constitutional sense of what I generally regard as a truism of the Constitution, I at all events assume that those listening to me have some knowledge of the matter. I resent these extraordinary perversions of my words for the reason which I suggested to the House early in my remarks. I think it is the more absurd, for, after all, there is a line of argument by which hon. Gentlemen might support this Resolution which does not require us to violate old historic and constitutional rights. Why cannot they say what they think? They might, for instance, say—I give one of them, the hon. Gentleman the Member for Leicester (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald) the credit for saying—"If you look back the general movement of the Constitution has been in the direction of diminishing the power of the House of Lords; we mean to continue that." But that is not what you are doing. [An HON. MEMBER: "Hear, hear."] There is an hon. Gentleman who says "Hear, hear." He cannot even have listened to the speeches of the Secretary of War or the Attorney-General. That was not their position. They did not say, "Here is a line of development which we mean to expand and extend." They said, "It is an old practice." It is not an old practice." They said, "It is an old theory." It is not an old theory. You might have said, without going into ques- 652 tions of constitutional evolution, "We admit that it has been a practice, but we do not think it is practical now."
That, at all events, is straightforward, and that to which arguments may be adduced. But when you come to argue a thing on rational grounds, when you come to give reasons, good or bad, for the course you are asking the House to pursue, why must you put in so much bad history?
Really, the question, I think, is not an historic question at all. I do not believe that any historian can seriously doubt that the House of Lords are within not merely their technical, but their constitutional rights. I have no doubt that the question is, and that the only question is, "Should the ancient Constitution of this country be preserved, or should we fundamentally, or, at all events, finally and explicitly, alter it by Statute?" That really is the only question. If hon. Gentlemen opposite would be sincere with themselves, I think they would admit in their hearts that that is the only question. [An HON. MEMBER: "Hear, hear."] Very well. What is the relation of the House of Lords to this House in matters of finance? I have already explained it in the speech which has been quoted ' by the Prime Minister. That position as regards finance is unquestionably subordinate, and it ought to remain subordinate. If the House of Lords ever claimed to exercise the power of dealing with Supply, of dealing with our taxation, of refusing money for this object or that, you would, as I said, put the House of Lords on an equality with us in administration, and the Ministry of the day would be dependent on the House of Lords as much as it is now upon the House of Commons. I have always urged, long before this discussion took an acute form, and expressed my own view, that the Constitution can only be properly worked if the Ministry of the day are dependent upon this House. May I ask how the action of the House of Lords has prevented that? Are not we blessed at the present moment with the same Ministry which we had before the House of Lords dealt with the Budget? The House of Lords have not interfered with Ministers ! [An HON. MEMBER: "They tried to do."] The hon. Gentleman has not thought very clearly what the dependence of the Ministry of the House of Commons means. Dependence of the Ministry on the House of Commons means this: that if the House of Commons refuses to accept the advice of the Ministry with re- 653 gard to important matters of legislation that Ministry immediately resigns office. I am talking of the relation of the Ministry to Parliament, not of the relation of the Ministry to the people. I will come to that in a moment; but I say the relation of the Ministry to Parliament is now, and ought always to be, dependent upon the majority of this House, and I say that nothing that the House of Lords have done in regard to the Budget affects this dependence of the Ministry upon the House of Commons. The Ministry now in office is the same as before the Lords rejected the Budget, and are as dependent upon this House. That, of course, could not possibly happen if the body which had rejected the Budget had been the House of Commons itself. You see at once—[A laugh]—everybody but the hon. Gentleman opposite sees. [An HON. MEMBER: "None of us do."] One hon. Gentleman who interrupted said, "How about a dissolution?" What the Lords did in my view, certainly in their view, I believe in the view of all but party people—I may be wrong— was to refer the Budget to the people. And that was the intention of their action, and it has been precisely the effect of their action. It does not interfere with the Ministry. It has referred the Budget to the people, and we do not yet know, though rumours are strong, that the representatives of the people are going by their votes, I say nothing more at all events, to approve the Budget which was referred to them. So says rumour in the street. Do not let anybody confuse the power which the House of Lords have always had of exercising upon those occasions with the power which this House, and this House only, has over voting Supplies, arrangement of taxation, and, above all, over the Ministry. They are quite different. Therefore there only remains this point: Are we wise or not wise in taking away from the House of Lords this ancient power even because we think on this particular occasion—some Members of this House think upon this particular occasion—the House of Lords have exceeded the bounds of wise and prudent policy. I think the House would be most unwise in. altering our ancient Constitution. It is perfectly true that that power, as my Noble Friend (Lord Hugh Cecil) and most of us have said, in the nature of the case, can only be exercised rarely. The House of Commons, when it put all our financial arrangements into one Bill and started that practice as a permanent 654 part of our system, made it, and intended to make it, extremely difficult for the House of Lords lightly to touch the taxes voted by this House, and it is quite certain that the procedure taken by the House of Commons in 1860 has been effectual for that purpose in the past, and will be effectual for that purpose in the future, and that the power will be rarely used. But are you wise to take away that power? I think it is a step most dangerous for this House to undertake. There may be men listening to me now who do not perhaps take that view, but may live to see the time when it would be important to have some power in the State other than this House that should be able not to dispossess or turn the Ministry out of office, not to modify Votes or alter Supply, but to refer on some occasion some new and revolutionary financial proceedings to the final arbitrament of the people of this country. That is our contention, and that alone. We think—I think, certainly —that this House should have supremacy in matters financial. I think that as between the two Houses there ought to be no comparison, but the idea that you are to so stretch that sound and wholesome doctrine as to deprive the Second Chamber even of the power of referring our financial suggestions to the country seems to me to be carrying pedantry to a preposterous extent, and to involve us in an alteration of our traditional Constitution which may produce great evils or dangers in this year or the next five or ten years, and which we ought to keep in our armour lest the time may come when the people of this country may find some change of which they profoundly disapprove has been carried out by means of a financial Bill touching great interests which they desire to see preserved. For these reasons I venture to suggest not merely that the Government should abandon the preposterous line of argument by which they support this matter, but that even on the merits—the very last thing they thought of consulting—it would be grossly unwise for this House to enter upon the course of revolution which they are now recommending.
§ Mr. CAVE
moved as an Amendment to leave out the words "the House of Lords be disabled by law from rejecting or amending a Money Bill, but that any such limitation by law shall not be taken to diminish or qualify the existing rights and privileges of the House of Commons," and to insert instead thereof "any difference 655 between the two Houses in relation to Money Bills be determined by a Joint Session of the Members of both Houses."
I want to say that I move this Amendment in favour of settling differences about Money Bills by a joint Session on the assumption only that some change ought to be made. For myself, I am quite content with the present position, and I think it is absolutely clear. I never had the least doubt of the power of the other House to reject Money Bills, but as upon that point we have had a discussion so lately I will only make one observation. The Prime Minister said with perfect truth that mere long disuse of a right is not much evidence of its non-existence, but the fact that a right which is denied is not used is, of course, very valuable and very powerful evidence. That was true of the right of the Lords to amend Money Bills. That right was denied, and in face of the denial the right was not used, and therefore it might be said to have been abandoned. But the right to reject Money Bills was never denied until last year by anybody having authority to speak. I venture to challenge anyone upon the other side of the House to quote any authoritative writer or statesman in favour of the view that the House of Lords had no right to reject a Money Bill. The Attorney-General, in his speech the other day, said that the view that the House of Lords had power to reject Money Bills had been inconsiderately adopted. I do not think he can say it was inconsiderately adopted. It was adopted for many generations, and his own statement shows that the whole course of authority is against the view he himself has taken this year and last year. Therefore I want to put it clearly that I have no doubt whatever of the right and power of the House of Lords to reject Money Bills. For myself, I am content, as that power has only been exercised once in fifty years, that we should make no change. There is one thing I want the Committee to consider, and it is this: Assuming that some change has to be made, what is the best way of dealing with the circumstance of a difference between the two House on a question of a Money Bill?
I agree that if you are to deal with that point fairly you must find some quick way of settling it. It would not do to apply the principle of the Second Resolution, under which it may take as much as two 656 years to settle a difference. It would not do to apply that principle to Money Bills; they must be dealt with rapidly. A short delay, of course, does not much matter. Under the present Constitution a difference of that kind might be settled in a short time. Two or three months are enough to give time both for a dissolution of this House and for a new election and for a second decision of the House—that is, of course, if the Government of the day treated the matter fairly. If on this occasion the time required is longer, it is not because of any disability in the existing system. It is because it is the deliberate choice of the Government to interpose delay. Therefore, at the present time, we have a rapid means of settling these questions. I know only three other ways of settling the matter. One is that embodied in the proposal we are discussing now, that there should be no delay at all; the second is a Referendum, and the third is a joint Session. I want to say something about each of the three. As regards the present proposal, I do not want to add much to what has been said, but I want to make it clear that this Resolution means no check at all upon the Commons in matters which are said to be purely financial. I ventured to say before in this House, that under the guise of a Money Bill you could do almost anything. I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer did not fully apprehend the other night the purpose for which I mentioned a certain draft Bill which had been put into my hand. I was careful to say that I did not suggest that anyone would bring in that Bill, and the Chancellor need not have troubled to tell the House that neither he nor any Government he could conceive would bring in a Budget Bill affecting such changes as would be made by the draft Bill to which I had referred. That was not my point. The point I was making was, that, under the guise of a Finance Bill, any change you pleased might be made. I put forward that draft not as an instance of what would be done, but as an illustration of what might be done under the guise of a Money Bill. And I do believe that if this power is given to this House unchecked, proposals would be made not differing greatly in gravity from some of the provisions of that draft Bill. Let me give only two instances. The right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer said, in answer to an interruption, at a meeting which he addressed, that he was desirous of taxing out of existence those land- 657 owners who held up land. I accept, of course, the correction of the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he told us that he confined the statement to landowners holding up land. I say that is a very good instance of the use of the money power. You do not tax people out of existence for the purpose of getting revenue. When you put them out of existence they are no longer of much value as a revenue-producing concern. Therefore it is true to say of that illustration that admittedly this present Government is prepared to use the money power for purposes other than revenue. That process could not be stopped by the intervention of Mr. Speaker under this Resolution. Let me put another case which might very well happen. I will take the case of the Land Nationalisation Society or other similar institutions. A well-known advocate of land nationalisation, Mr. Henry George, has put this point very strongly. I am not quoting his exact words, but he says, in effect, "Tax land up to the limits of its production, and then these dogs-in-the-manger will soon drop it." That is his phrase, and it means, use your taxing power to appropriate for the State the full amount of the income of the land, and in that way you will transfer the ownership of land from the individual to the State. [An HON. MEMBER: "That is not the proposal of the Land Nationalisation Society."] I was rather inviting the repudiation of the hon. Member for Merthyr Tydvil.
§ Mr. KEIR HARDIE
I understand we are discussing a particular Amendment, and not the general question. In that case are the remarks of the hon. and learned Member in order?
§ The CHAIRMAN
As far as the hon. Member himself is concerned, he is speaking to the general question, and he has not yet moved his Amendment. When his Amendment is moved it opens up a very wide question, because he proposes one plan and the Government another plan.
§ Mr. CAVE
The point I was making is that by this proposal you empower the House of Commons to inflict, in a financial form, any change you like. I have been attacked for my reference to a statement about putting the minority under the heel of the House of Commons. I do not retreat from that expression, because if you are put under the Autocratic power of the House of Commons, you are under the majority in the 658 House of Commons and so under the heel of the Prime Minister for the time being. While I recognise to the full the right of the country to govern, I think that to put the minority under the heel of an autocratic Government without any check would be a most unwise thing. Therefore I reject entirely the proposal of this Resolution, and the point for me to consider is what can we put in its place. As to the referendum, I will not say much in regard to it, except that my feeling is similar to the feeling I entertain towards proportional representation. In theory, there is an immense amount to be said for the referendum, but in practice I do not like it. It seems alien to our party system and incompatible with the system of Government under which we live. If you are to submit to the people each question which arises, you will do away with the plan under which we and our forefathers carried on the Government, and you do away with the duty of Ministers to resign when they have wrongly interpreted the feeling of the country. Under that system an adroit Minister could carry on the Government, relying on the referendum long after he had ceased to represent the feelings of the country. Therefore, I really do not feel satisfied with a referendum, certainly not as a remedy for differences on a money question, because that is the last question you ought to refer to the country in all its details.
There remains only the third possible solution, and that is a joint Session. Let me consider for a moment the Australian system, set up in 1900 under the Australian Commonwealth Act. In this case, if the two Houses differ upon money matters there is power to bring about a dissolution. After the dissolution the Bill rejected by the Second House may be brought in again, and if it is again rejected it is referred to a Joint Session of the two Houses, and a majority of the two Houses at that Joint Session will settle the difference. The same principle applies in the Transvaal and the Orange River Colony, but under the South African Act of 1908 that system is modified. Under that Act if the two Houses differ once the Lower House may pass the Bill again, and if it is again rejected then it is referred, without a dissolution, to a Joint Session of the two. There is this further provision, that if the difference is on a Money Bill then the reference to a Joint Session is made at once, without the Bill being passed a second time. Between those two systems I do not want to pronounce a 659 final opinion to-night, although my own opinion is in favour of the Australian principle. They represent two different systems, under either of which a Joint Session of the two Houses has the effect of resolving the difference of opinion. This is as effective a system as it is decisive, and it is a means of solving the very difficult questions which arise in the relations between the two Houses. I prefer the present system, but next to that I prefer the Australian system, under which you have a dissolution and then a Joint Session. In one way or the other I think we ought to be able to find a way of settling our differences between the two Houses.
I know it will be said, and said with truth, that it is difficult to apply this system to the two Houses as they now exist in this country. Whatever might be said for a Joint Session of the House of Commons with a reformed House of Lords, a Joint Session of the House of Commons with the present House of Lords would not give effect to the feeling of hon. Members opposite that they ought to be able to carry their Bills through the two Houses. There is more difficulty now about this matter than there would be if the constitution of the House of Lords was changed; but my answer is that you must look forward, and it is impossible to deal with this question piecemeal. However much you try you will never succeed in dissociating the relations of the two Houses from the question of the constitution of the House of Lords. The relations of this House to the Second Chamber must depend upon the constitution of the Second Chamber, and it is foolish and unwise to separate the one from the other. You may try as much as you like, but you will not succeed, and the time must come when the two points must be settled together.
It may be impossible for the Government to go back on their decision to separate the two questions, but if they should do so they will find in the other House and on this side of the House a full desire to meet the matter and deal with it fairly, and to deal at the same time with reform and with the relations between the two Houses. If that is impossible then of course there is only one course to be taken. I think we have shown that we desire to be reasonable and deal with the matter fairly. If the Government will not meet us we have to meet them on the ground they have 660 chosen. We can set against their proposals for the emasculation of the other House our proposals for the reform of the House of Lords and the reasonable revision of the relations between the two. I do not fear the result of that contest if the two plans are set before our countrymen fairly and squarely. One plan is destructive and the other constructive. One is designed to have the effect of destroying the power of the other House, at all events, in money matters. I do not think that will be denied, because it is setting up the authority of one House without any check. Our plan would have the effect of preserving for the other House the right in extreme cases to refer a new proposal to the decision of the people. Personally I have no doubt which way the decision will be. The question may not be decided in one election, and in the end you will be driven to deal with the reform of the House of Lords and the relations between the two Houses together. In the end this question will be dealt with fairly by reasonable people on both sides, and it is with that object in view that I move this Amendment.
§ 7.0 P.M.
§ The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Lloyd-George)
The speech of the hon. and learned Member was a very interesting contribution to the general Debate, but I wish he had given more time to explaining what he means by this particular Amendment and how it will operate. I wish he had given us his reasons for the suggestion. Five-sixths of his observations, as a matter of fact, were really part of the general discussion upon the proposition of the Government. I shall only make one or two observations upon that point. He said our propositions were destructive. On the contrary, our propositions are made to prevent destruction. It is because the present powers of the House of Lords are purely destructive, and have become increasingly destructive, that we find it absolutely necessary, in order to preserve the work of this House, to place some restriction upon their operation.
The hon. and learned Gentleman is quite wrong in his statement about the position of the Government. The Government have never altered their position; they have taken exactly the view which the late Sir H. Campbell-Bannerman clearly stated in his speech, when he introduced his Resolution three years ago, 661 that the first thing to do was to establish the supremacy of the House of Commons. That was the urgent, imperative, and immediate duty in hand, and -he said that that was without prejudice to any proposals as to the reform of the Constitution. We have always taken the view that reform is impossible until we have made the relations between the two Houses clear. We should not be free agents. We might make a suggestion, but it would be purely a suggestion, and we should always be at the mercy of the Upper House, unless, first of all, we clearly establish the supremacy of the House representing the electorate of the country; and, even as a step towards reform, we consider these Resolutions as absolutely essential. You cannot possibly leave the House of Lords in the position in which it is, a Chamber chosen purely upon a hereditary basis. The first duty of the House of Commons is to see that the relations between the two Houses are put upon a more satisfactory and businesslike basis. That has always been the position of the Government, and not merely since the rejection of the Budget. It was their position three years ago, when they submitted those Resolutions to the House of Commons, and from that position they have never receded.
I now come to the actual proposal of the hon. and learned Gentleman. I really do not know what he quite means. He says he is quite satisfied with the present position, but, if he cannot retain the present position, he prefers this. Of course he prefers it from his point of view, but it aggravates the present position. He proposes that the moment the House of Lords reject a Money Bill there should be a joint Session, in Westminster Hall. There are 616 Peers and 670 Members of Parliament. Therefore, even if you have a majority in this House of 400 for the Budget, the Peers would throw it out. I do not think that is a proposition quite worthy of the hon. and learned Gentleman. It is a thoroughly crude and ill-considered proposal, and I am sure the hon. Gentleman in his heart would admit that he could not stand by it as a practical alternative. He says he believes the electors of the country would approve of the position he takes up, but does he really think that, if he put that to the country, he would get any two sensible and fairly impartial men on his own side to assent to it as a working proposition? Supposing we had a majority here of 350 for the Budget and we appealed to the country.
662 The House of Lords would say they wanted a joint Session, and they would go there 603 strong. We have got about fifty or sixty who would probably vote for the Budget.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
Yes, seventy-five altogether, and that would be a majority of over 400 of the House of Lords against it.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
What number? That is the very essence of the matter. It would be a very important contribution if the hon. Gentleman would just explain what he really means. He took up five-sixths of the time answering arguments relative to the general Debate, whereas here is the very first practical suggestion of an alternative, and he never explained it. He says he is in favour of a reduction in the numbers in the House of Lords, but it is the very essence of the proposal to know what reduction there is to be, and what his ideas are upon that point. One moment he says he is satisfied with the present position, and the next he says there is a good deal to be said for altering it. Then he goes on to say he has an idea how to alter it, but he will not commit himself to anything in the nature of a definite and substantially clear proposition.
The hon. and learned Member the other day said you might have a series of Budgets which would tax away land and every form of property. My answer was that if the country elect a House of Commons prepared to do that they would not bother about Budgets. That would be a cumbrous, roundabout way of doing it. He need not therefore be afraid of the Budget of the House of Commons, because it means that if they were in that frame of mind the country would be in that frame of mind. He says I actually proposed something of that kind. He referred to something I said in answer to an interruption, and here I shelter myself behind the Leader of the Opposition. He, not in answer to an interruption, not as something shot out without a moment's thought, but in a considered speech in the House of Commons, laid down a general proposition, and then he said we must take curvature into account—
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
If the doctrine of "curvature" is to apply, it certainly ought to be allowed in the case of an interruption and to something shot out in answer to an interruption. I never used the words "taxing out of existence," they were words used by someone in the audience. What have I really done? I have put on a halfpenny tax, and the hon. and learned Gentleman uses that as an argument that it would be possible to put on a tax of twenty shillings in the pound. The halfpenny tax in New Zealand and in New South Wales has had the effect of taxing that class of land out of existence. That does not mean that by a halfpenny tax you take the land bodily for the State, but that landlords do not think it worth while to hold the land up except for purposes useful to the general community as well as themselves. That is a very different thing from confiscating the property. It is, in fact, simply an operation which every Tariff Reformer proposes. He is going to tax foreign goods out of existence. His argument is undoubtedly to tax U certain class of foreign goods out of existence, and he would put on a 10 per cent. duty. I do not propose anything of the kind. I propose a tax of halfpenny in the pound on the landlords, and they say I am taxing them out of existence. Neither proposal is con-fiscatory, and I do not think it is fair to suggest that because you are putting on a halfpenny tax you are really making a confiscatory proposal as far as the land of the country is concerned. It is a very unfair use of an interruption. The hon. and learned Gentleman said something about the Transvaal and Australia. He said that in Australia the Houses of Parliament sit together even on finance. That is a very different proposition, because those Houses are elected by the same constituency.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
It is elected by the same constituency in Australia, and by a roundabout method it is practically the same in the Transvaal. In the Transvaal it is nominated by the Ministry. The Governor there must act on the advice of the Minister. In Canada you have a Chamber nominated on the advice of a Minister. There has been a Liberal Ministry there for ten or fifteen years, with the result that the Second Chamber 664 there is almost exclusively Liberal. Before that Sir John Macdonald had been in power about fifteen years. His nominees were all Conservative, and when he left it was a Conservative Second Chamber. I am not defending that. I am dead against it. I think it is the very worst system in the world, but it is very different from the present Second Chamber in this country. The present Second Chamber here is a hereditary Second Chamber, which is chronically Conservative, and which is getting more and more Conservative. Whereas formerly Liberal Bills were rejected by majorities of about thirty, you now get majorities there of 200 or 300 against Liberal propositions. It is no use quoting the Colonies as if they were any analogy; the arrangement is different altogether. For that reason, as well as for others, we could not think of accepting this proposition. I do not think, if the hon. and learned Gentleman had put his ideas on paper, he would have found agreement even on his own side. Why is he so vague about numbers 1 He not only does not put them down in the Amendment, but he dare not commit himself to numbers even in his own speech. Why? It is because he knows he could not get any sort of agreement on his own side. The Noble Lord the Member for Oxford University (Lord Hugh Cecil) would say you must have 300 or 350 hereditary peers, and another hon. Member would suggest another number. There is no kind of agreement on the other side. This is a vague suggestion, and provides no form of alternative, and therefore we cannot accept it.
§ Mr. GIBSON BOWLES
There is a clause in the first Resolution which, I think, has escaped attention, but which invests it with peculiar importance. It reads: "1. That it is expedient that the House of Lords be disabled by Law from rejecting or amending a Money Bill, but that any such limitation by Law shall not be taken to diminish or qualify the existing rights and privileges of the House of Commons."
What does that mean? I think it can only mean that this Resolution applies, not only to Money Bills as they are to be defined under this Resolution, but to almost all other Bills, such, for instance, as the Asylum Officers Pensions Bill, in which a financial Amendment might be introduced by the House of Lords. If that be so, and I can read nothing else in the proviso—it has never been explained—it seems to me that the second part of the 665 first Clause of the Resolution affects, not only Money Bills decided to be such by Mr. Speaker, but every other Bill. The object is to maintain the rights of this House, not merely over Money Bills, but over Amendments the Lords may make of a financial kind in any other Bill whatsoever. The Asylum Officers Pensions Bill, as settled by this House, would not have been regarded as a Money Bill. The object of this Clause, I take it, is to keep alive the rights of the Commons in regard to all such Amendments. Therefore this Resolution is far more extensive than anyone supposes, and it is necessary we should do what we can to make it work, and to introduce into it such Amendments as would make it more tolerable. What is the Amendment? It provides that any difference between the two Houses in relation to Money Bills shall be determined by a joint Session of the Members of both Houses. The suggestion of joint Sessions is not a favourable one. In the first place, the Session would be enormously large, consisting of about 1,400 Members, and it would be called to discuss matters of the utmost delicacy and difficulty between the two Houses. Probably the most revolutionary period of the French Revolution came about when the two Chambers, instead of sitting separately, sat together. It was then that the real revolutionary spirit was invoked.
But there is another point. The hon. and learned Member who moved this Amendment has been reproached with not having mentioned the number of Members of both Houses to meet in Session. That enables me to bring into the discussion of this Amendment a suggestion made by the late Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman which has been strangely overlooked. In my belief, where there are serious differences between the two Houses, the resource-s of the Constitution are not inexhaustible. First of all, ordinary Conferences are conducted merely by an exchange of papers between the managers of the two Houses, But there is a tremendous, and, I believe, it would prove to be a vital engine for accommodating differences between the two Houses, and that is the Free Conference. It has not been used for over seventy years. The last time was in 1837, and I believe it brought about cordial agreement between the two Houses on a very important question. The Conference in 1688 —the Great Seal Conference—was another instance. James II. had thrown the Great Seal into the Thames, and fondly imagined he had rendered government impossible.
666 William of Orange, by invitation, had come over to London with the consent of the whole people of the country, and a question arose between the two Houses of the utmost gravity. The House of Commons resolved that the Throne was vacated, the House of Lords resolved that it was not. As recorded in the Journals of this House, a Free Conference was held in 1688, and it was this Free Conference which accommodated the enormous constitutional difficulty between the two Houses. It is true that whilst the Conference was going on William interfered, and said, if he were not to have the Crown he would go back home, and that was the reason which influenced the two Houses, but my point is this: If you have a Free Conference the very time occupied in the Conference affords opportunity for passions to abate and for reconsideration to arise. Of course, there are ceremonial differences with regard to Free Conferences. In one case it was considered that the Lords.should come into the room covered, while the Commons stood up uncovered. I am sure that situation or difficulty would not be likely to arise in the present day.
I get back to what Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman said, and to his scheme for arranging difficulties between the two Houses. The essential part of that scheme has never yet been mentioned. It was the Free Conference I am now advocating. He conceived three successive disagreements between the two Houses, and in each case he provided for a Free Conference, which was to consist of an equal number of Members of both Houses. In the ordinary Conference there is no speaking or persuasion, but in the Free Conference the Members would speak personally to each other, and that is the true Parliamentary method of accommodating differences. It is the method we adopt in this House. We talk at considerable length, and I believe we do sometimes persuade hon. Members opposite, and even occasionally hon. Members on our own side. We are here for debate, for persuasion, for consideration of matters, and also, in no small degree, for the instruction of the public outside. Would not this Free Conference have the same effect as a Debate in this House? There would be a new kind of Chamber, in which both sides would express their opinions. It would contain Members of the House of Commons, 100 selected Members, or fifty, or twenty, as the case might be, and an equal number of Members of the House of Lords. I venture to say that the Debates 667 of a body so constituted would be of the utmost interest and might prove to be of the utmost value. At any rate, the suggestion I am making for a Free Conference is entirely within the four corners of the Amendment now before the Committee I wish to record the fact that the idea of such a Conference with an equal number of Members from both Houses was the method of accommodating disputes which was suggested by the late lamented Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman. I hope it has not entirely faded out of the minds of His Majesty's Government, although I do not see any trace of it in their speeches. It ought not to be forgotten, however, that this ancient method of accommodating disputes between the two Houses has been successful on many great and grave occasions, and I hope, before the Resolutions are brought to an end, the Government may find it advisable to recommend the reassertion of the principle of Free Conferences so prominently put forward by Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman.
§ Mr. H. S. FOSTER
I think the Chancellor of the Exchequer was not quite fair in his treatment of the suggestion of the hon. and learned Member for Kingston (Mr. Cave), who was obviously in the difficulty in which the House finds itself— the difficulty pointed out by the Secretary for War yesterday. The right hon. Gentleman made it perfectly plain that in his view the questions of this Resolution and of the reconstitution of the House of Lords were inseparable one from the other, and that you cannot deal with one apart from the other. It is not our fault or the fault of my hon. and learned Friend that in moving his Amendment he had been obliged to deal with the one, apart from the other House. He quite frankly pointed out to the House that he was not dealing with the House of Lords as it exists to-day, but with a reconstituted House. He said:—We must look ahead. We must have in view in these proposals the possibility of the reconstruction of the other House.It is easy for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to make light of that suggestion, and to talk about 616 peers being brought into conference with this House and overwhelming this House by its numbers. My hon. and learned Friend was obliged by the detached and truncated form in which the Committee is asked to deal with the whole question to look ahead and to make 668 an alternative suggestion, having in view the inseparable parts of the scheme which the Secretary for War referred to yesterday. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, in his remarkable observations, complained that my hon. Friend did not explain the details of his scheme with regard to the reconstituted House of Lords, and he suggested that we were afraid to put our proposals before the country. Our complaint is that that is just what the Government have not done. We are discussing alterations as to which the Secretary for War has told us that they are parts inseparable from each other. One part is the financial power of the House of Lords, the other has to do with the Reform of the House of Lords. They have been compelled by party exigencies to abandon the programme they announced at the beginning of the Session. I listened with pleasure to the Secretary for War yesterday, and the impression left on my mind was that he was much more concerned for his own party with regard to their dealing only with the first part of their proposals, than apart from the other. The first part of the Resolution which my hon. and learned Friend proposes to omit is that part which for the first time, as the Secretary for War told us yesterday, is going to abandon the unwritten Constitution of this country, and is going to set up, for part of that Constitution, Statute law. The right hon. Gentleman uttered a lament which is shared on this side of the House I can assure him, and is, I believe, shared in the country, as to what he thinks the necessity for, but what we think the thoroughly unjustifiable character of the Government position in attempting now, for the first time, to interfere with that unwritten Constitution which has been cur pride in the past, and which to-day is the pride and envy of the whole civilised world. I think it is one of our greatest complaints against the Government that they should belittle and destroy that great Constitution which has hitherto been our pride, and which has certainly been the glory and admiration of many other nations which have had to frame a written Constitution.
The proposal of the Government is that in future, not only in matters of finance but possibly in very much larger regions, the House of Lords should have no power, but it is admitted on both sides of the House that in future finance must be a large part of the legislative proposals of any party in power. You cannot separate 669 great social questions from questions of finance. One hon. Gentleman on the other side this afternoon very naively admitted that under the guise of Income Tax you at present deducted Is. 2d. in the £, apart from the Super-tax, from a man's income, and, on the same principle, if you wanted to transfer the whole of that man's income to the State you could tax it up to the extent of 20s. in the £. Admittedly, by Finance Bills you can transfer the whole of the property of an individual to the State, and if that is possible is it right that this House should have the unlimited power of carrying out that policy? Lord Morley of Blackburn pointed out that not only had the Lords a legal and constitutional right, but in certain cases they would have a moral duty cast upon them to reject a Finance Bill, but the Prime Minister said, "Yes, but only in the case of an insane House of Commons." Who is going to judge of the sanity or the insanity of the House of Commons! Is it to be the House of Commons itself, because we know that people who have been pronounced by everybody else to be insane often have a very profound conviction in their minds and assert to others that there is no one saner than themselves. Therefore the House of Commons cannot judge of its own sanity, and the only tribunal which can do so is not either House, but the people of this country to whom the question will be remitted. If this Resolution is carried and eventually is enacted as statute law, it would mean that in matters of finance which would cover all sorbs of social policies—revolutionary policies—this House should have absolutely uncontrolled power. Is that a wise thing?
There is no one who has better laid down the urgent necessity of a Second Chamber, and of the power of that Chamber to remit to the people certain questions, than the Prime Minister himself. I do not think these words have before been quoted in the course of the Debate, but, speaking at Newcastle in 1895, the right hon. Gentleman expressly pointed out that in his view one of the advantages of the Second Chamber was in cases of extreme need to refer back to the people for consideration measures which the people cannot be supposed to have deliberately approved. If this Resolution were passed what power would there ever be to refer back to the people for consideration measures which they cannot be supposed to have deliberately approved. The House of Lords, as has been pointed out, has never 670 since the year 1860 taken the extreme course which they did last year of referring to the people for their consideration the Finance Bill. Is not that the best proof that for fifty years, although they have had that power, they never exercised it because of the serious inconvenience it would cause, and that being so is it not the best proof in the world that the House of Lords have wisely exercised its discretion? Does it not show that although it had disapproved of measures and had doubts about the views of the people in regard to them that until an extreme case presented itself, as it did last year, they did not exercise their powers? Will it be contended that the House of Lords is in a habit of resisting the people 1 [An HON. MEMBER: "Yes, always."] The more extreme the statement, the better for my purpose. But I would remind the hon. Gentleman who makes that denial of a very explicit and comprehensive statement made by one who carries authority with him, the hon. Member for Waterford (Mr. John Redmond). It has been quoted before this Session, but it will bear quoting again because of its aptness and truth. The hon. and learned Member for Water-ford wrote:—The House of Lords have not the power to-day to withstand the will of the people. They have never done so. Let the popular will be first emphatically declared in favour of any popular reform, and the House of Lords must, as they have always done in the past, bow to the popular will.That is so, and that statement was repeated by the Secretary of State for War yesterday very much in the same form. The Secretary of State for War quite frankly stated that the House of Lords has no power to-day, and it is not its practice, if it has the legal power, to resist the will of the people. As a fact, the House of Lords, as constituted to-day, is probably very much more sensitive to popular opinion, and very much more reluctant to set itself against popular opinion than would be a stronger and more efficient Chamber, because the stronger the Chamber the more power of acting on its own motion it would have, and the House of Lords to-day does not claim to exercise that power against the declared will of the people. Of course, it is easy, on theoretical grounds, to say that the House of Lords is not representative, but I venture to say the House of Lords, for all practical purposes and for the practical results which it accomplishes, will compare favourably to-day with any Second Chamber in the world. As to its independence and its representative character, I would like to 671 quote from one whose name will carry weight with the other side of the House, and one who has been quoted by the Prime Minister to-night, Mr. Gladstone himself, who, notwithstanding the controversies he had with the House of Lords, said in this House:—I must, as a candid man looking at this question for a practical purpose, consider this, that notwithstanding all those actions of the House of Lords of which we are inclined to complain, we have had a period of fifty years such as has never been known in the entire history of the country—I might almost say in the entire history of the modern world—in which the House of Lords has introduced a vast amount of practical legislation upon the Statute Book of the land, of which we are from day to day reaping the benefit.
§ Mr. H. S. FOSTER
I am sorry I have not the reference, but I think that was stated in 1871. Perhaps I might make another quotation by a man bearing a name carrying weight on both sides of the House, the great Sir Robert Peel. He went down to Glasgow as long ago as 1837, and on that occasion it is interesting to know he was accompanied by Mr. Gladstone, and, in a speech on 12th January in that year, he said:—The peers, it is said, are not responsible. I have heard that before. Certainly the peers are not responsible in the sense in which the House of Commons is responsible, but I think in their responsibility to God, to their own consciences, and to enlightened public opinion, the public has a guarantee for the faithful performance of their duties. It is said that the House of Lords has shown a spirit at variance with that of the people, and has obstructed the march of social improvement. I challenge the opponents of the House of Lords to the proof of that fact.Then Sir Robert Peel went on to show that the House of Lords in the previous ten years had assisted in more extensive social changes than any other that had been accomplished in any other country in the world in double the time. [An HON. MEMBER: "What has that to do with the Amendment?"] We are now discussing a proposal to take away from the House of Lords a power which it has possessed for over 700 years, and in that respect to set up a new precedent which does not exist in any other part of the world, and to take away from the House of Lords the power of modifying or of rejecting or of referring to the people of this country a Finance Bill. Surely what I have quoted is very much to the point when you are dealing with the existing powers of the House of Lords, and the whole case that is made against them that they have abused that power, and, therefore, 672 it ought to be taken away from them. It is surely very much to the point to show that the House of Lords has exercised its power wisely and well, and that that has been acknowledged all the way back by almost every great responsible statesman of this country. After all, the interests of the nation count first before the interests of any great party, and every great statesman has acknowledged the great part played by the House of Lords under our Constitution, and when we are being asked for the first time to interfere with an unwritten Constitution and set up a statute law for the purpose of limiting the power of the House of Lords, surely it is within the competence of those who object to this Resolution to show the great part which the House of Lords has played, and the danger of interfering with those powers to-day. I would like to make one other quotation spoken in 1871 by Mr. Gladstone as to the great objection to the House of Lords exercising these functions, because it was an hereditary Chamber. Mr. Gladstone in 1871 said he should think twice or thrice before taking away the hereditary principle in the House of Lords. Lord Rosebery's Resolution does not seek to abolish the hereditary principle.
§ Mr. KEIR HARDIE
May I ask whether the question before the Committee is not whether there shall be a joint Session of both Houses to determine differences with regard to Money Bills?
§ The CHAIRMAN
The hon. Member when he was interrupted was discussing Lord Rosebery's Resolution in another place. I think that is rather remote from the point, but we are not confined to the words which are proposed to be inserted. The hon. and learned gentleman (Mr. Cave) proposes to take out the chief operative words of the first part of the Resolution, and therefore both these Questions are before the House.
§ Mr. H. S. FOSTER
I support this Amendment, particularly that part of it which proposes to strike out the operative part of the Resolution, because I desire to support the full powers which the House of Lords exercises. I support the House of Lords as it exists at present, because, again in the words of the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. John Redmond), the House of Lords is a fundamental part of the Constitution under which English liberty has been irrevocably established. I support it because in the words of a great 673 Liberal Lord Chancellor, the great Lord Selborne:—The House of Lords is in a true sense, though not in the sense of the House of Commons, a great representative assembly, representing many most important elements of prosperity and stability in the country, and constantly recruiting from the ranks of the people new elements of the same kind.
§ Mr. BALFOUR
The Amendment has been criticised by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. It is true that there was a very elaborate explanation given by my hon. Friend of his views, but surely the explanation given was sufficient to show this. He endeavoured to establish, and I think he did establish, that the merely crude abolition of the power now possessed by the House of Lords is a very unstatesmanlike way of attempting to deal with the situation. My hon. Friend suggests that, instead of merely cutting away the existing power and putting nothing in its place, something in the nature of a conference or a joint Session of the two Houses might be substituted. What was the answer given by the Chancellor of the Exchequer? Ho said how absurd it would be to have a joint Session of two Houses which in their aggregate number amounted to 1,200 or 1,300 persons, and in their party complexion would give, under almost any conceivable circumstances, a majority for the Unionist party. That in itself is fair enough criticism, but it is one of the difficulties incident to the fact that the Government have inverted the true order of procedure in this matter. If they had begun by reform of the Constitution and ended by an alteration of the functions we should have known exactly what were the bodies with whom we had to deal, and my hon. and learned Friend could have so arranged his Amendment as to suit the precise situation in which we found ourselves. That cannot be our position now. There is no proposal that I have seen in regard to the House of Lords which does not contemplate a reduction of its numbers. Every reduction in its numbers diminishes the strength of the criticism passed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on my hon. Friend's plan, and if the reduction were carried to anything like the limits which I understand are contemplated by the Secretary for Foreign Affairs, then I take it that the reduction must be such that a joint Session of the two Houses would not be open to the kind of criticism, and the only kind of criticism, which the Chancellor advances. I do not think there could be a better object-lesson on the folly of the course the Government are pur- 674 suing than the ineptitude of endeavouring to assign the functions of your Assemblies before you know what the constitution of those assemblies is going to be.
There was a contribution to the debate, however from another source. The hon. Member (Mr. Gibson Bowles) suggested that, in his judgment, under the words of my hon. Friend, it would be possible to have something in the nature of the conferences which have been held in historic periods of the British Constitution, and which have sometimes worked well, and sometimes ill, but might possibly be revived with advantage. I am not perfectly sure that the Amendment is capable of being converted into anything like this plan, but I think it would be if the Amendment was altered by leaving out the word "the" before the words "Members of both Houses." As I read the Amendment, as it was moved, it would require that the joint Session should not be merely of Members of both Houses, but of all the Members of both Houses, and, if that is so, of course, the idea of a joint conference would be practically impossible. You cannot have a joint conference between 670 Gentlemen of this House and some 600 in the other House of Parliament. If my hon. Friend would leave out the word "the," I think some such plan might be found practicable, leaving it entirely open to the Bill which is to be founded on these Resolutions to frame a joint Session of Members of both Houses, the number to be settled by the provisions of the Bill. I, like my learned Friend, do not think that reform in respect of the financial relations between the two Houses is called for. But, assume that to be settled, you are not precluded from adopting a plan which we may think less excellent, and I think it would be an improvement on the crude scheme of the Government to say that in the case of a difference between the two Houses on a Money Bill there should be something in the nature of a joint Session, not of the two Houses, but of Members selected from the two Houses, presumably in equal numbers, at all events in sufficient numbers, to represent the opinions of the two Assemblies respectively. If my hon. and learned Friend would leave out the word "the" I think the introduction of this Amendment into the Resolutions would be of very great advantage. It would leave us free in the Bill that is to be founded upon these Resolutions to suggest some plan of that kind. At all events, I should like, before the matter finally leaves the House, to have some 675 such plan as that suggested by the hon. Member (Mr. Gibson Bowles), and contemplated by my learned Friend (Mr. Cave) thoroughly discussed. I hope the Committee will consent to the Amendment I have suggested.
§ 8.0 P.M.
§ The ATTORNEY-GENERAL (Sir W. Robson)
The Amendment suggested by the right hon. Gentleman would certainly remove some of the chief objections to the original Amendment, but it leaves the Committee in some doubt as to what we are really discussing. The original Amendment is sufficiently vague, but it would be still more vague as amended by the right hon. Gentleman. The hon. and learned Gentleman obviously intended that his Amendment should not be applied to the existing state of things in the House of Lords. The Leader of the Opposition has raised a fresh subject. The hon. and learned Gentleman obviously saw the absurdity of trying to settle a difficulty in the matter of finance between the two Houses by inviting 616 Members of the other House to come into joint Session with 670 Members of this House. The absurdity of that is all the more obvious if a Liberal Government happened to be in office, for it would be difficult to overcome such an immense incursion of Tory votes in relation to a Budget. Therefore the hon. and learned Gentleman said that was anticipating some scheme of reform of the House of Lords, and he pointed out that the reform which he contemplates is one involving a reduction of numbers. I think if that reform were adopted it might to some extent meet the objection urged by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The hon. and learned Member indicated what sort of reform he anticipated. The Leader of the Opposition said that the Government have not told the House what their scheme of reform is, and that therefore the Opposition are not able to adapt their Amendments to some scheme of reform which the Government have not introduced. Well, the Leader of the Opposition has not told us what their reform is, and therefore he is not now in a position to twit us with opposing Amendments regarding an unexplained state of things. I think we may consider the practicability and importance of this Amendment when they tell us what reforms they are going to apply, on what principle they are going 676 to reduce the numbers, and on what principle they are going to elect Members. All these things have not been explained.
There is, however, an objection which is altogether apart from the extreme numbers with which we have been dealing. I have not heard any suggestions of reform from the other side of the House which do not leave the House of Lords a non-elected Chamber. There has been some suggestion as to election. It might be called the principle of selection rather than election. I have not heard any suggestion from the other side of the House as to a reform of the House of Lords which would not leave it a Chamber founded on the hereditary principle. Therefore if we were to try to decide a question of finance by a joint conference between an elective House and a non-elective House founded on the hereditary principle, it would mean that at the time we are discussing the reform of the hereditary Chamber—and I think we are all agreed that the principle on which that Chamber is based needs alteration and modification—we are to introduce into this Chamber the hereditary principle, and introduce it in regard to the most vital function of this Chamber, because the Amendment would really allow the House of Lords to mould our Budgets. This Amendment involves, or proposes to enact an immense extension of the powers of the House of Lords. For instance, I believe it is agreed that on the constitutional aspect of the case the House of Lords are not able to amend a Money Bill. [An HON. MEMBER: "NO."] Well, somebody on the other side of the House does not agree with that.
§ Sir W. ROBSON
However that may be, if this Amendment were passed, you would have the hereditary principle brought into this Chamber in regard to finance. If the Amendment as it stands were incorporated in the Resolution, it would mean also that the Lords would have power to amend as well as to reject, and that, from our point of view, is a very important extension of their powers, for the Lords would be able by a joint Session with the Commons to mould every Budget, and not merely to reject it. They would be able, in future, to bring about the dislocation of our whole system of finance in the way which we now see. They would have the power not merely to reject, but to maim and alter as and how they thought fit, so 677 that you really would have a submission of every Liberal Budget, or, indeed, every Tory Budget for that matter, to the hereditary Chamber.
§ Mr. BALFOUR
The hon. and learned Gentleman misunderstood my argument. I did not suggest that you should increase the powers of the House of Lords. I only suggest that the House of Lords should have the power of rejecting, and not that they should be given a power which, so far as I have been able to judge, has been allowed to lapse. I do not mean to restore that.
§ Sir W. ROBSON
I admit that the Leader of the Opposition puts a more moderate case than that which I am concerned with at the moment. That was not what was suggested by the Mover of the Amendment. The Leader of the Opposition does not desire that the hereditary Chamber should have the extension of power which I have described, but it will be a necessary and natural result of a joint Session. We have to carry on the Government of the country in the House of Commons with a majority of about 124, or less. In the past Governments have been carried on with a majority of forty or less. Are you going to put a Liberal Ministry with a small majority at the mercy of the House of Lords, for I cannot conceive any reform of the House of Lords which would not give it a Tory majority of 100, even after the numbers have been reduced? I think, therefore, that disposes of the Amendment. The hon. and learned Gentleman said it was a dreadful prospect that the minority in this country might be under the heel of a despotic House of Commons. Well, we have had in finance whatever the constitutional rights or the legal rights may be, single-Chamber Government in finance for the greater part of our history. I should say for the whole of our history. It has not resulted in the dreadful consequences which are now anticipated; it has worked extremely well. Now we are told that minorities should not be put under the heel of the Government. I think the hon. and learned Gentleman said they should not be put under the heel of a Prime Minister. What did he propose to substitute? He proposes to put the majority under the heel of the Leader of the Opposition. Whenever any Budget is proposed by a Liberal Government he is to have the power of putting the majority under his heel. I do not think that is a useful suggestion to make.
§ Mr. ADKINS
I think the Amendment proposed by the hon. and learned Gentleman opposite is extremely important, because it is the first suggestion with respect to the reform of the House of Lords that has come from any Member of the Opposition either here or in the country. In this Debate there is one feature which I am sure those who support the Government will regard with considerable satisfaction. It is that at last we know the attitude taken by the whole of the Opposition. We know the position which the Leader of the Opposition and hon. Members opposite who come to the House for the first time take in regard to the Constitutional problem which arose from the action of the House of Lords last November. It was not always easy to discover. During the General Election we heard a great deal of mysterious orders that the House of Lords question was not to be talked about. In the North of England it required a great deal of questioning of reticent and reluctant candidates to find out what their position was on this question. Now we know that the whole Opposition are concerned to maintain all that happened last year. They are concerned also to maintain the power of the House of Lords in respect to finance. It would appear as if the actions of last autumn were not to be visited with punishment or any alteration in the powers of the House of Lords. Therefore we are in this position, that as regards one aspect of the controversy, the legal and the constitutional, we do know, if the Resolutions of the Government, and the Resolution on finance in particular, do not become operative, that what the House of Lords did last November is action which has the enthusiastic support of one great party in the State. It has been represented over and over again in this Debate that if another occasion should arise it is a natural and proper exercise of power on the part of the Second Chamber. It may be rather venturesome for anyone on this side of the House to make the slightest reference to history. The Leader of the Opposition says that any references to history from this side of the House are sure to have a partisan colour.
§ Mr. ADKINS
The right hon. Gentleman ascribed to the historical references hitherto made from this side of the House that colour, while his own brief and fascinating excursions into history are claimed 679 to possess the colour of truth. The real teaching of history on this matter bears out the contention that lies behind the Resolutions of the Government. It is not denied that in actual practice last autumn was the first time when the financial provision for the year was rejected by the House of Lords; and, after all, constitutional usage, however it arises, however continuing, however it may be adjusted to constitutional theory, is, in a country like this, of far greater weight than anything else in a matter of this kind. I wish to point out in an extract where the action of the House of Lords last autumn was without parallel, and, right or wrong, was the first breach made for centuries in the uniform habit of this House, and this House alone, giving Supplies and arranging what those Supplies would be. Not only is it the first example of that, but it has been admitted, not so much in this Debate but by the most eminent leaders of the Conservative party in recent times, that action such as that which took place last September would be of a revolutionary character. The words of Lord Salisbury in the Debate of 1861 have some significance in this connection. He argued very strongly against the arrangement by which all the Budget of the year was in one Bill, and he was foreseeing the possibility of that being done which was done last November, and, looking forward to that, he said:—The putting of all these provisions into one measure is a device to put a stop to discussion in the House of Lords, and to leave them no opportunity of discussing this question without resorting to the almost revolutionary measure of rejecting the Budget altogether.We have already had, for the first time in our history, that which Lord Salisbury described as an almost revolutionary measure, and therefore the real alternative before this Committee and before the country in the future is whether you are to condone that which has been described as an almost revolutionary measure and the possibility, nay, likelihood of its recurrence—for certainly it will be made less unusual—whether you are going to have that, which would be the result of doing nothing, or are going to adopt the proposals of the Government that the power of the House of Lords to behave in this almost revolutionary measure should be taken away from them. Surely it is relevant to the inquiry to see how the House of Lords has been behaving and what has been the keynote of its action in. acting in an almost' revolutionary 680 manner, and when the supporters of that action contemplate with the greatest ease of mind its acting in that way again. Here it is—and I hope that the Committee will agree with me—relevant to us to study the change in the temper and spirit of the House of Lords towards the financial proposals of the Commons in recent years. It has been argued, as was done by the hon. Member for Lowestoft (Mr. H. S. Foster) an hour or so ago, that the Budget of last autumn was so exceptional that the House of Lords were justified in doing anything legal to reject it. The Committee will remember that whatever objections were brought against the Budget last year, there was nothing more unusual in that Budget than in many Budgets equally disliked in times past by the House of Lords. But one and all passed. If it is to be a principle that wherever a Budget passes this House, which is open to grave financial objections or intensely unpopular with the Second Chamber, controlled as it is, it should therefore be rejected; if that is to be the principle of action you will have what has now occurred repeated over and over again. Everybody now will admit that the worst periods of finance since the great Reform were the periods of finance of Lord Melbourne's Ministry. Every Budget put into operation all kinds of objectionable finance. They were the Budgets of the middle thirties. The House of Lords passed every one of them. The House of Lords when it passed Free. Trade in 1846, when it passed the Succession Duties in 1853, the Consolidated Budget in 1861, and Sir William Harcourt's Budget in 1894, in all those cases there was used the language with which you were made so familiar last autumn, that these were revolutionary proposals and subversive of social order, and yet they all passed.
For this reason I submit to the Committee that in those days the House of Lords recognised that it was not in the spirit of the Constitution to interfere with the Budget, however novel its provisions, however objectionable it might be to that body. Now that is changed, and for the first time we have had the spirit in the House of Lords, which for years has been growing more aggressive towards this House, raised to a point at which, when there is nothing in the Budget which has aroused more objection from them than in previous Budgets, and nothing more novel than was contained in each of the Budgets I have mentioned before, you have that Budget rejected. The question is this: You are dealing with a Second Chamber 681 which has developed towards this House and towards the financial power of this House a spirit of aggression unknown in those times, and this House will now have to decide whether it will alter in any way the relations of the two Houses in finance, and it will have to say whether the other House is what it was in the days of Wellington and Peel, and whether it will submit to the Second Chamber, constituted as it is to-day, and actuated by a far more aggressive temper and by a far greater disregard of constitutional precedent and of respect for the financial power of this House.
The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition has been very careful in all his speeches, and particularly I see this afternoon to claim for the House of Lords nothing except the bare power of rejection, to disclaim emphatically words of a kind that appeared to be difficult to explain away in the future, that the House of Lords should have any power of amendment, or that its powers should be in any way increased beyond those which the right hon. Gentleman argued for to-day. But I think the Debate has shown that the right hon. Gentleman is much more moderate in expression than his followers in all parts of that side of the House. We have an elaborate argument of great interest by the hon. and learned Member for Chertsey (Mr. Macmaster), who, speaking with great experience of Canadian politics, has actually laid it down as if it were clear in our Constitution that the House of Lords in finance has powers equal to those of the House of Commons and concurrent with those of the House of Commons, except on the one point of initiation. That goes far beyond the attitude of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, but it is highly significant that that utterance was cheered by the other side when the hon. and learned Member for South Bucks (Sir A. Cripps) whom I see in his place, in the very earnest speech which he delivered yesterday, put the rights of the House of Lords any further. His argument is that its existence is so vital to the country that it is the only popular safeguard under modern conditions. He laid great stress, I admit, on the fact that finance will, as the years go on, be an even more powerful engine for social reconstruction and in national affairs. The whole burden and suggestion of his speech was that the action of the Lords last November occurred for the first time in two centuries, and would certainly not be expected again —not that we would have to wait two 682 centuries before it would be imitated again. He evidently contemplated that this would be the case.
§ Mr. ADKINS
Nobody can know better than the hon. and learned Member that not one of the thirty-six so-called precedents stopped Supply for the year, but referred to matters ancillary and incidental to financial issues. It was argued yesterday, and now again to-night, as if hon. Members opposite were looking to the action of the Lords last November as something to be repeated, if necessary, in those interests of which the hon. and learned Gentleman is so earnest an advocate. Of course, we have in recollection the very memorable utterance in the first part of his speech that the House of Lords was the only independent body left at the present time. The House of Lords, with its action last November, and its action in regard to legislation for twenty years, has been in constant and unbroken concurrence with the advice and policy of the Conservative Central Office. Yet we are told by the hon. and learned Gentleman that the House of Lords, who are expected to act again as they acted in November last,, are the only independent body in the country. I am grateful to the hon. and learned Gentleman for his kindly intervention in what I have said, because it goes far to prove the contention which J am putting before the House that we are dealing now not with an old and cautious Assembly, doing once in 200 years something so exceptional that we can depend on ages passing away before it is ever repeated, but with a body, no longer cautious in temper, no longer caring for traditions, but as fiercely partisan as any majority in this House even fresh from the polls— a body whose supporters contemplate its constant intervention in the realm of finance, not merely with the power of rejection, but of amendment. It is true that the Leader of the Opposition has been most careful to say that he does not want the House of Lords to have the power of amendment, but the very proposition now before the House, moved by the hon. and learned Member for Kingston, as the Attorney-General pointed out, involves the power of amendment to the House of Lords, if it became law. A joint Session of the House, although it may be merely formally on the question of rejection, must involve such intimate 683 discussion, such pros and cons, such an -exchange of views, as would amount to the right of interference and amendment made by the other House. We know what has happened in this Session of Parliament, and how anxious Members on the other side are that these powers, which have been left in desuetude, should be supplemented by further powers still. It is within the recollection of the Committee how often within the last three weeks the Government have been taunted because they did not bring back the Budget piecemeal, and how they have been asked to bring forward an Income Tax Resolution. Hon. Members opposite wanted the Budget to be sliced into pieces, and only those parts brought forward to which they were not themselves in opposition. If that were done, the House of Lords would at once get back the position which everybody thought was settled from 1861—that is, claiming to exercise the power of amendment as well as rejection. The whole point of the position is only realised when we recollect that not only do the Opposition defend the House of Lords in what they did, but they contemplate that they may have the power of repeating, I may say almost frequently in the future, their action of last November, and extend it to the right of amendment. I for one support this Resolution, not so much because of its novelty in form, as because it is in strict accordance with the spirit of our Constitution for centuries, and because it is the only way by which to prevent lasting harm to the constitutional reform.
§ Sir EDWARD CARSON
I am very glad indeed that the hon. and learned Member has had an opportunity of making a speech which he had apparently prepared for a Second Reading rather than for this Amendment. I myself, although I am a lawyer, or kind of one, am not much affected in any of these discussions by what are called legal precedents. I think they are very useful landmarks which have served from time to time to show how far we are going forward, or how far they are going backward. After all the question is what is the most practical solution suitable to present day requirements. I think it is far better for us now to see if we can amend the Resolution, and look at it as a practical question. It is foolish to imagine that we should clear away all power from the other House and entrust all power to this Chamber. I think that a foolish attitude to take up, and on the other hand 684 it is an equally foolish attitude to say that we are not to make some effort to bring about what may be fairer methods of balancing the interests of the various parties concerned in this kind of legislation. Therefore, it is that I extremely regret that neither the Attorney-General nor the hon. and learned Gentleman has shown by a single word on an Amendment of this kind that he has any feeling or desire to come to some practical solution. Because, after all, whatever you may say, when you are making a change in the Constitution, and when you are trying to set up something in substitution for that which has existed so long in the past, you ought to try to set up not merely to the satisfaction of the temporary majority in this House for the time being, but as far as you can to the general satisfaction of the people of this country. Constitutions are set up to carry out what is the will of the people at large, and it certainly is not a benefit to them, assuming that you have a quarter more in population, which you have not on the vote, it would be no satisfaction, or ought to be no satisfaction, to you or to any Government to say, "We have set up something that suits something more than half the population, while we have left another considerable portion nearly as large of the electorate utterly dissatisfied with what we have done." That is not the meaning of Government at all—that is not the reason for setting up the Constitution, but it is to set up some kind of machinery that will in a general way carry out the will of the nation at large. Therefore, it is not worth while considering whether we can in any wise modify the extreme views upon both sides. That is why I certainly hail with satisfaction an Amendment of this kind, not because, I suppose, the Amendment is drafted in such a way as it would be put into a Bill. That is not the least necessary in a Resolution of this kind. That is why I thought that the Attorney-General, instead of parsing the words of my hon. and learned Friend's Amendment, would have been giving far more important contribution to the discussion if he had given some indication or any idea of something that might be done with the Resolution. His whole speech was a commentary merely on the difficulties of carrying out the Amendment as it is put forward for the consideration of the Committee.
Is it not worth while considering whether anything can be worked out by a joint conference of the two Houses. The 685 hon. Member for King's Lynn did put forward a proposal that there should be a free conference. It is not a matter unknown to the Constitution, certainly in the past. It is not a matter unknown in the Colonial Parliaments we have set up, and, although I have not had time to refresh my memory, I think it was proposed to be set up by Mr. Gladstone in connection with the proposed Home Rule Bill, which was to bring about the millennium in Ireland, which I should sincerely hope at some time or other might come about, though in another way. It was not for one moment doubted that it was expedient and might very well be tried even in a country like Ireland; and by bringing about a conference of that kind between the two branches of the Legislature you might find a general agreement, or, at all events, some kind of modification which would meet the necessities of the case, and would leave the people more satisfied than by the absolute acceptance or rejection of these proposals. Is it not worth while, when we are considering this matter and the changes we ought to make, to see whether we cannot devise some intermediate course between sending a Money Bill straight to the Sovereign for acceptance from this House and doing away altogether with the intermediate stage of sending it to the House of Lords?
There was an observation of the hon. Member for King's Lynn which he made in his speech on the Second Reading of these Resolutions, and which, I think, is well worthy of consideration. He pointed out that very often in the great political field the rancour of one party towards another in relation to great changes, which have even been passed by the other House, have often become very much modified or affected by the intermediate stage in the passing through the other House. I think anybody who will reflect on past controversies will see that that is so. Therefore, instead of abolishing that intermediate stage, any proposal that can be put forward which can in anywise tend to lead the people to believe that their views have been put forward, and have been threshed out by those who are capable of threshing them out, and who are in sympathy with their particular views, must be a valuable asset in the framing of legislation for a country like ours. The Attorney-General seems to think if there was a conference it necessarily leads to the domination of the House of Lords. I do not believe that that is likely at all, and I have no doubt the Attorney-General could easily frame pro- 686 visions in his Bill to prevent any such thing taking place. As regards taxation, because taxation, above all things, ought to be acceptable as far as possible to the whole body of the people, surely very often a way out could be found as regards particular matters whereby in a conference men of different views, and constituted differently, could come together to try as far as possible to mitigate what are the real objections and the real hardships put forward by a Bill. I do not see any reason if that was done why necessarily the House of Lords should prevail in any way over the House of Commons in respect of matters which the House of Commons thought absolutely essential.
We know very well that there have been many conferences between the Lords and the Commons in which, in some at times, there was an impasse between the two Houses, but, after a conference, one has given away something and the other has given away something, and arrangements have been arrived at that have been perfectly satisfactory to both parties. If that is so as regards matters in which the House of Lords have the full right, and the full acknowledged right, of amending or altering, surely a conference of that kind, leading to such a result as that, must be a matter well worthy of consideration when the only other alternative is either the rejection or the acceptance of a particular Bill. So far as I am concerned, I think it would be a valuable addition in the attempt to solve the difficulties we are now on if there was a free conference, and even if that particular conference failed, that then your Resolution as it now stands was to come into effect. That would be something. I do not say that is a thing that would be accepted by the majority of the people, but even then it would mitigate the great revolution that you are making in giving this Chamber, and this Chamber alone, control, without a single word by the other Chamber, however constituted, or a single voice in the regulation of the Budget of the year. Therefore, as far as I am concerned, I again express my regret that no word has been said on the other side of the House as to any effort of any kind to do anything but absolutely destroy the voice of the Second Chamber in relation to Finance Bills. I believe that in the future, if that is done, and such Bills are to become law as they leave this House, you will find far more expressions of dissatisfaction with the taxation for carrying one the Government of the country than you have had 687 hitherto. The Attorney-General said that we had gone on for many years with single-Chamber Government in finance. I do not agree. I am not referring to questions of precedent, but I am perfectly certain that the fact that the Bill had to pass the House of Lords was necessarily always a consideration with those who framed the Budget of the year. Another point is that it was not until this year, so far as I know, that it had ever been openly avowed that the Budget of the year was framed not merely for the purpose of finance, but for the purpose of effecting so-called social reforms through finance. Therefore, I think, when you say that we have lived under single-Chamber government as regards finance, you are using a misleading argument.
The only other contention of the Attorney-General with regard to the proposed conference was as to its impracticability. I do not think that that is an argument really worth considering. He said that a very large number would have to meet together for this conference. That surely is a matter which could be easily arranged in the Bill, and is no real objection to the Amendment. The hon. and learned Gentleman went on to say that we had not put forward our reform of the House of Lords. If we asked him what was his reform, we should probably get the usual answer, "Wait and see." For the Attorney-General to ask us for our reform of the House of Lords is rather absurd seeing that it is an open secret that for months and months the Cabinet have been attempting to frame a reform of the House of Lords and have never been able to agree. We know perfectly well they never would have put the cart before the horse as they have done here if they had been able to harness those two objects in a different way. The truth of the matter is that the difficulty raised by the Attorney-General is not a difficulty in reference to this Amendment. According to their latest view, the Government intend to bring forward some reform of the House of Lords. When, we do not know. But that is no reason why they should not fully consider the suggestion made by the Amendment. For my part I think it will be deplorable if before this matter is finally disposed of we get no intimation whatever that the Government are prepared to adopt a middle course between abolishing all provision for the reconsideration of finance by the Second Chamber or by the Second Chamber in conjunction with this House.
§ Mr. BELLOC
I rise merely to make a Committee point, and not to deliver a Second Reading speech. The proposal before us apparently is not put forward seriously. We have heard a long discussion in regard to an absurd, illusory, and unreal conference between the two Houses. No one sitting here believes for one moment that any such conference is in the air at all. No one had heard of it until an Amendment was moved from the back benches, and the Leader of the Opposition took it up as the point in Debate. Every man listening to me knows perfectly well that that conference has no sort^ of chance of taking place. But since we are in Committee may I attempt to amuse the House instead of instructing them by giving some sort of picture of what that conference would be? First of all, there must be a selection from the House of Lords. We could not have the whole 600. How would that selection be made? Who are the men of weight and leading? Who count in the House of Lords? If I know anything of English society money would have something to do with that selection. It would be invidious to name too many people, but shall I mention two or three? The brothers Stern are still alive. I think Lord Northcliffe might come in; Lord Burnham would not be absent; Lord Rothschild might be a member, and possibly Lord Rosebery as well. We might also see on that little Committee a man for whom I have the highest respect, and whose name I do not bring in for the purposes of ridicule, but because of his money, I mean Lord Derby. The Duke of Norfolk would hardly like to be left out, and the Duke of Devonshire would wish to be in it. So that, one way or another, with possibly a. Bishop, a General, and an Admiral, if there are any Admirals in the House of Lords, thrown in as intellectual makeweights, because, after all, they are professions, whereas money-making is not, and owning money still less, it would be a committee of the rich raised to the nth power. The House of Lords is already a Committee of the rich; that is its function; but under these conditions it would be a committee of the rich raised to the nth power. When you had got your forty peers, the peers most talked about by the man in the street, with Lord Kitchener and Lord Roberts, and the others who are rich, there would be your little Committee. How should we meet them? I know what would happen. Whichever party happened to be in power—and, although I am half-way 689 along the pathway through life, I expect I shall see both parties in power alternately for many years to come—one of the junior, or less important Members, not nominated by the House of Commons or by the Crown, not responsible to anybody, or to anything, would get up and say, "It is proposed that there should sit on this Committee Mr. Jones, Mr. Smith,"—and so on. Very well. Under the strict working of the party system we should—I do not say I would—you would walk through these various Lobbies, and by the normal majority of the moment the matter would be decided. Though I think the conception of a conference ridiculous, I have no desire by these words to ridicule either House or, indeed, any of the institutions of State:— I am sorry that the last speaker—since he represents a University—is not in his place to hear a Greek quotation. But no matter; with all the respect that I bear to the House of Commons I seriously think that that little Committee would not be representative of the House in any sense whatever. It would be produced by various forms of pressure—composed of various forces. Money would be one; advocacy would be another; in some very rare cases, the power of the Word—oh, how rare that case would be ! Respectability would be one. I am not for the moment running down respectability. Age—and age is not without its value—seniority in this House is that for which we have all respect—but at any rate no one could pretend that that Committee would be nominated by, or in any case would be representative of— still less responsible to—the House of Commons!
I will give you a concrete case, to show the absurdity of the thing. I must apologise to the House for having to tear such a piece of dead rag to tatters. Who dreams of this conference ever taking place? I will only try to show the absurdity of the thing. Suppose you are going to nationalise the London, Chatham, and Dover Railway. Perhaps I am addressing shareholders, who will laugh at me; directors, whom I hope, will see I am giving no offence. Suppose, turning it from the wonderful thing it is—that is a private corporation—into a rather inefficient State business—which we are always warned about whenever Collectivist experiments are on the tapis—what shall we have to do with that line? A sum of money would have to be paid to the shareholders. If I 690 know anything of politics, whether in this country or in any other, there would be a good deal of active discussion as to how much should be paid. It would not be whether the nation should own a national railway; it would be a question of 5 to 6 per cent. We should send up the Bill to the Upper House. They would say it is very good; we like it; but there is only one point we want amended. You are not voting enough out of the taxes. We want a little more money. Then with great reluctance, but with the fear of our constituents, before our eyes, we in this House —that is, the majority of us—would say, "No, we will send the Bill back to the Upper House." Then the Upper House would say, "Let us have a conference." How will that Bill, do you suppose, come out of the conference?
When Manchester decided to run its own tramways, suppose, instead of being able to fix their own terms, that they had had to decide the matter with local people who hitherto had been shareholders in the tramway venture. Suppose they had decided to have a conference of both sides, and had not only to consider what the other side wanted, but submit to its veto. Instead of it being a public enterprise, it would certainly have been nothing of the kind. I am sorry to have taken up the time of the House for even seven minutes, but, to use another Parliamentary tag, or, rather, I should add, another piece of hypocrisy which is more used outside this House than inside, if these few words of mine have done anything to exhibit to others how ridiculous— as they are to me—are nine-tenths or ninety-nine-hundredths of these futile, senseless, unmeaning, unreal Amendments with which our time is wasted, my few words will not have been spoken in vain.
§ 9.0 P.M.
§ Mr. LAWSON
The hon. Gentleman the Member for Salford is a great Parliamentary wag. One moment we laugh with him; at other times we laugh at him. I think there is nothing more curious than the grotesque obsession he has got that this country is ruled by the plutocracy which is in the House of Lords. I would remind the hon. Gentleman of this: that the plutocracy who have got there probably have shown some merits as captains of industry which would entitle them to have their opinions heard on the very questions of finance which the hon. Gentleman thinks they ought to be silent upon. It seems to me that he is himself an illustration of the 691 very danger that the Second Chamber is bound to provide against. He is the sort of politician that is a standing example of the necessity of having the cool sense of a Second Chamber spread over his wild imaginings. The fine point of it is, while he deplores to the utmost the idea of a conference, the Government which he supports, in the case of South Africa, only the other day suggested that there should be this very conference which he says is the height of absurdity. I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman took the trouble to read the Return which was presented only two days ago showing the Constitutions which we have conferred on our Dominions and Colonies beyond the seas. He will see there in the first place that there is not a single one of those Colonial Legislatures that has not got that power of rejection which it is now proposed to take from the House of Lords. Some even have the power of Amendment. The Cape of Good Hope, to which the Constitution was only given in the "seventies," has the power of Amendment as well as that of rejection. I do not see how the hon. Gentleman, who is not only a faithful follower of the Government, but in particular at election times professes allegiance to the Front Bench opposite—
§ Mr. LAWSON
He is one of the men who gets in, I suppose, on his own merits. Perhaps so. At any rate, I remind him that the Gentlemen who sit there on that Bench are responsible for their proposal of a conference in the case of the last Dominion that obtained the powers of self-government from this House, which he derides in the Amendment which is now before us. I think that it is worth while for the House, if they take any heed to what is called the science of "Comparative Politics," to look at the Colonial Constitutions, and then to see whether it is a fair thing for us to say, "We propose now, without conditions of any kind"—as the hon. Gentleman has said—" to take from the other House the whole power of intervening in Money Bills"; and everybody admits that the future is in finance, that finance will mean everything.
There is an argument of another kind which I wish to urge upon this Committee, and ask them to pause to consider before they decide upon the Amendment of my right hon. Friend. The Resolution, as it is now submitted, strikes at the very prin- 692 ciple of constitutional government throughout the world. The principle which we have developed from the time of Magna Charta down is that no class is to be taxed without its consent. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear.] Very well, I am glad of those cheers. If this Resolution is carried without such Amendment you rule the class called peers entirely out of the Constitution—[HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Yes, certainly, on its most important side, the side of taxation, which we are told is the most elastic form of legislation.
You have put them outside what old people used to call "the city of the State." [HON. MEMBERS: "Give them the franchise."] They have not got the franchise at this moment. [HON. MEMBERS: "Well give it to them."] That is not before the House; it is not proposed in the Resolutions. There was a time when the states of the Realm used to tax themselves separately. Hallam tells us the story, and that is the reason that, in the first instance, there was not more importance attached to some of the precedents quoted in this House. They alleged that the peers agreed to the power of taxing them, but in the old days there were not the electors, but there were the directors. Members of this House then sat as the representatives of the peers. You took away from them that power of taxation, and you admit that affects them very considerably, and the best you give them is that they have virtual representation. That is a strange argument coming from the Radical Benches. Because in the old days—in the old Manchester school—it was denied there was any such thing as virtual representation. If there is no such thing as virtual representation, the peers are to have their Land Taxes—and we know what they are to be in the future— without having an opportunity of saying yea or nay. They are to be classed with criminals and lunatics. [Cheers.] These cheers show the feeling that animates some of the hon. Gentlemen in the Irish party and also in the Radical party. It is perfect truth that there will be one class of the community that will not be given the opportunity by the voice of their representatives or themselves of being heard in regard to taxation Bills, or financial matters of any kind. They will be outside the Constitution. It is the first time that such a proposal is made, and except they have the opportunity in, conference at least, of deciding in case of dispute on 693 Money Bills, they will be powerless to stem any sort of taxation that may be brought forward.
The Chancellor of the Exchequer spoke of the halfpenny tax as being a very small thing. But this halfpenny tax upon capital value will more than absorb the annual rental almost of the land subjected to it, and upon that particular tax you propose to deprive the peers, who we are always told own one-third of the acres, of any voice in these taxes. The Chancellor says the weak point of this Amendment is that it does not propose for the future reconstruction of the House of Lords. It only proposes a conference with this House. What we are doing now would apply to a reformed House of Lords, or to any Second Chamber, just as it does to the present, and that it is madness; it is madness for us to rush to the assertion of the principle which, once laid down, will apply to any Second Chamber that may take the place of the present House of Lords, or the present House modified in any degree. That is part of the difficulty of trying to write a part of the Constitution. It is the height of folly, it is "folly's crown of folly," to think you can write part of the Constitution and leave the rest untouched. Bishop Stubbs once said that the Constitution was a series of comments upon Magna Charta. We try to write a new Constitution tonight, or part of it, but the British Constitution is a whole, and we are trying to put a very new piece of paper on a very old piece of parchment, and I think the adhesive is likely to spoil the whole. And we do that in bitterness of spirit—a bitterness of spirit such as was shown by the cheers which we have heard. What did the hon. Member for Leicester (Mr. Ramsay Macdonald) say? He said that finance can safely be left to the House of Commons, because of the controlling influence of the Labour party. [HON. MEMBERS: "He did not say that at all."] He said what is equivalent to it. Well, in Australia we saw a Labour party in power. I do not wish to say anything offensive of them, but there was no party more extravagant in their expenditure. The House heard what the hon. Member for Leicester said. He said that one-Chamber government was quite sufficient in regard to finance as in regard to other things, and that the House would be able to control extravagance far better than another place. I ask hon. Members opposite to recollect that in a country like 694 Australia, where democracy is progressing, there has been no party that demanded so much expenditure of public money as that with which the Labour party is associated. [An HON. MEMBER: "They spent their own money."] There has been a good deal of vicarious generosity. They have spent other people's money—I do not say wrongfully. I point that out because I do not believe this House will agree, looking not to the wisdom of our ancestors, as it is called, but looking to what we have done ourselves, to what we did in the last Parliament in regard to South Africa, and looking to what a previous Parliament did in regard to Australia, to give this House absolute control of the Exchequer without allowing others even to have that latent power—because latent power is just as important as the exercise of power—which has done so much to keep English finance in order. There is no doubt that what you attempt to write into the British Constitution in regard to finance only will be a failure which those who come after us will have good reason to regret. I am only comforted by the belief that these Resolutions which we are now asked to pass will be only mere bruta fulmina and will not issue in anything except the Debates we are now engaged in, but I deplore even the assertion of the principle that the House of Commons, on the arguments they have listened to, are prepared to pass this Resolution to-night.
§ Mr. MOND
The hon. Member who has just addressed the House, like many; speakers before him, told us that we are engaged in the assertion of a new principle. No. We are but re-establishing a principle which was passed by this House in 1678. There is nothing new in the principle we are establishing. What is new is this. The party opposite have torn up that ancient and glorious Constitution about which they talk so much, and they have; thrown it into our faces for the first time in the history of this country. For the first time, and I challenge contradiction, the Finance Bill of the year has been rejected by the House of Lords. For the first time in three centuries that has been done, and we wish to establish the old control of this; House. In the old days Members of the House of Commons were faithful to the House of Commons and were not engaged in trying to degrade the House to which they belonged, to dim its ancient glory and to bow and crawl before another House to which they do not belong. In these days, 695 principles were laid down which until last year were never disputed. I challenge hon. Members opposite to find it disputed by any writer on the British Constitution, either British or foreign. Now what is our position?
§ Mr. MOND
And what has made it bad? The action of the House of Lords. That is the fault of those people who have forced us to set our hands to right the British Constitution. It is not an easy task; on the contrary, it is very difficult. No thinking man can deny that the greatest legal authorities on constitutional law in England to-day have not got a settled opinion as to whether the House of Lords has or has not a right to reject a Finance Bill.
§ Mr. MOND
He is on our side and not on yours. We have had the opinion of the most eminent jurist in England, the Lord Chancellor, and some of the greatest lawyers in England, and they do not know what the English Constitution is. I heard the hon. Member for Lowestoft (Mr. H. S. Foster) talking about our glorious unwritten Constitution being the envy of every foreigner in the world. At the pre sent time our Constitution is the object of derision of the foreigner. I was talking to an eminent Frenchman the other day and he told me that when he came to England he was always told what a wonderful thing our Constitution was compared with Constitutions abroad; but now he says, "Why, you do not know whether the House of Lords has a right to reject a Finance Bill or not, and you are actually carrying on a great controversy on this subject." As soon as one part of your Constitution declares it does not exist your unwritten Constitution comes to an end and you have to reduce it to writing. It has been laid down that the House of Lords has no right to reject a Finance Bill. I have been reading an interesting book upon the privileges of the House of Commons, edited by an eminent Austrian jurist—
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Mr. Whitley)
I must remind the hon. Member that we are now discussing an Amendment. It is true that it leaves a wide scope for debate, but the matter before the Committee is the alternative proposal moved by the hon. and learned Member for Kingston as against the original Resolution.
§ Mr. MOND
The Amendment is rather obscure. The hon. Member who spoke last said, "What a beautiful thing conferences are, and why do not you accept such a scheme?" May I point out that in the Amendment there is not a word about conferences, and it proposes a joint Session. The Australian and the South African Constitutions have been referred to. The Australian Constitution is very interesting, and Clause 57, which deals with deadlocks, is worth studying. Will hon. Members opposite accept that Constitution which solves not deadlocks on finance alone, but all deadlocks and differences between the two Houses by a matter of joint voting of the two Chambers, both of which are elected by adult suffrage The Second Chamber I know has larger constituencies, but there is no difference in the franchise, and it is about half the size of the Second Chamber. If the Leader of the Opposition is prepared to get up and say he will accept that Constitution and solve, the whole difficulty on this basis I daresay he might be able to find some hon. Members on this side of the House who would agree with him, but it is scarcely fair to this House to come down and argue the Australian precedent simply upon the financial differences between the two Houses. If you quote Australia, then let us have the whole of the Australian Constitution. It is quite true those Chambers deal with finance, but can any hon. Member point to a dominion of the Crown where they have a hereditary Second Chamber?
§ Mr. MOND
If you will allow us to select our Second Chamber we will not trouble you with these Resolutions. You all know in your heart and admit by your Resolutions that the House of Lords is not efficient and not representative. If we are to entertain any idea of a joint Session of this sort it must cover the whole field. It is absurd to ask this House to give up its old-established and well-known right to control the finances of this country. This control is absolutely necessary if the business of this country is to be carried on. Look at the absurd position you want to put the House of Commons in. Do you propose that the Estimates should go to the House of Lords and that they should deal with expenditure? You are putting us in the ridiculous position of making the House of Commons responsible for expenditure, and we can never be certain how we are going to meet 697 that expenditure. Such a proposition is too fantastic for words. In all those countries where they deal with finance the same authority deals with Estimates. We have to vote the money for the Army and the Navy and incur expenditure amounting to millions, and when we bring in our means for paying for that expenditure, another Chamber with no voice in the expenditure is to come and say, "Oh We will not allow you to raise money in this way." I suppose the State is to go bankrupt or borrow as long as it can. Can you find any Constitution in the world under a system like that? It is too absurd to put such a proposition as that before a business Assembly. We have had the control of finance in this House for 300 years and we must continue to have it. If we are to be responsible for the expenditure we must be responsible for the means of raising the money. That to me seems to be only plain, straightforward common-sense and simple reason. Hon. Gentlemen opposite talk about this being a revolutionary proposal, but it is nothing of the kind. The hon. and learned Member for Kingston, although he made a very ingenious and a very interesting and instructive speech, did not advance us any further, and he did not advance the proposal in the slightest degree. We have heard since that it is not his business to tell us how many men in the Second Chamber are or are not to vote in the joint Session. After all, the hon. Member goes to the trouble of asking us to accept a serious change in a Resolution of this kind, and we are surely entitled to more information than he gave us. The Leader of the Opposition also gave us very little information. He evidently has never thought on the subject himself, and he has seized on the suggestion of the hon. Member. Surely, during an important constitutional Debate like this, the House is entitled to something better from the Gentleman who leads a not insignificant party in this House than the snapped-up ideas of two other hon. Members. Surely we are entitled to have from him his own ideas. The hon. Member for Kingston said:—We will put our constructive scheme against your destructive scheme.We are still waiting to hear from that Front Bench one constructive idea. We have sat here for weeks and have not had one constructive idea from them. [HON. MEMBERS: "Wait and see."] I shall wait a long time, and I shall see nothing. Let us to-night regain for this House a power which it ought never to have lost—the 698 power and control over taxation, the power of the people's representatives to levy taxes. If the Lords are to retain the power of rejecting Budgets they will have the power of taxation in their hands, because by rejecting Budgets you can frame Budgets. If Ministers and Cabinets in this House know that their Budget is subject to rejection, they must frame it here so that it will be passed. You would, by the Amendment, be giving up the power of this House of taxing the people, and giving it to a body which, however estimable, however brilliant, or however foolish, has at any rate no right to levy taxation on the people of this country.
§ Mr. HENRY TERRELL
The importance of the question which the House has to determine is my excuse for intervening in this Debate, and, as a new Member, I have to claim the indulgence of the House. The hon. Member who has just sat down commenced his speech by rather sneering at our ancient Constitution. He spoke of some foreign friend of his who had said to him, "Talk of your grand old Constitution, and you do not even know what is the power of the Lords." I can understand the hon. Member jeering at our Constitution, but I have listened to other hon. Members on both sides of the House who have spoken in terms almost of veneration of that Constitution, and I venture to say there are very few Members of this House who do not feel a spirit of reverence for that ancient Constitution, however deficient it may be. The hon. Member at the commencement of his speech also said that these Resolutions introduced, no new principle into the Constitution, but the moment afterwards he said that the greatest constitutional authorities were not agreed as to what was the power of the Lords. If they are not agreed as to what is the power of the Lords, how can anybody say these Resolutions, which are going to fix that power, introduce no new principle?
The question is a very important one, and one which may have consequences far more deep than at present appear. It may have consequences which may be of the utmost importance in years to come, and which hon. Members do not to-day foresee. I venture to say we should not deal with the matter as one of party controversy or of sectional interest when we are asked to introduce such very deep-seated amendments in our Constitution. The question really, first of all is, Are we going to introduce into our unwritten Constitution an 699 amended part of it in writing? Are we going to define precisely that which in their wisdom the constructors of that Constitution thought best to leave somewhat indefinite and unwritten? If we are going to try and draw a hard and fast line, and say what is the precise authority of the other House with regard to finance, or with regard to any other measures, we are going to do exactly that which the constructors of our Constitution purposely refrained from doing, because they realised the difficulty of doing it, because they felt that if we do this we are binding ourselves by a hard and fast rule, which will remove that elasticity and flexibility from our constitutional powers which are so necessary and from which the country has reaped so great a benefit.
The Secretary of State for War (Mr. Haldane), speaking, not in his capacity of a plain, blunt soldier, but rather in his capacity as a very learned and intelligent lawyer, spoke of the hesitation with which he approached the idea of introducing any written element into our Constitution. I venture to share that view with him. He went on, however, to lay down what in his opinion was the Constitution to-day, and it is in that respect that I differ from him. He put the case of the Government and the constitutional power of this House far too high. It was necessary for his case that he should put it so high. If he had put it lower, he would have given away the whole case. The case which he placed 'before the House was that, according to constitutional law, the House of Lords has no right whatever to withhold assent to a Finance Bill. We have had authorities quoted on this side of the House and from the other side of the House upon this great constitutional question. I think the highest you can put the authorities quoted from the other side of the House is that they show on the part of this House extreme jealousy with regard to the interference of the Lords in financial matters. They have never gone further than that. I do not think you can find any authority which has in any way stated in clear and distinct language that the House of Lords has not any power whatever in connection with Money Bills.
On the other hand, we have had authority from this side of the House which has gone to the length of saying—the last authority was a Resolution after consideration by this House—in which it was expressly admitted that the House of 700 Lords had the power, if they thought fit, to reject a Money Bill. In the face of these authorities can it be legitimately said that the question is clear that the House of Lords have no power whatever to deal, by rejection, with Money Bills? Is not the real and true view this, that the trainers of our Constitution, in their wisdom, have purposely left that matter unsettled, that they have purposely refrained from drawing a precise line between the rights of the two Houses? I now come to the Amendment. [MINISTERIAL laughter.] When you are going to amend the Constitution, surely, as intelligent men, you should seek to ascertain what that Constitution is. One hon. Member opposite to-night said he did not care what the Constitution was. Is that an intelligent view to take when you are going to put a patch on or make an amendment in the Constitution, to say you are going to do it without regard to what the Constitution is? Yet that appears to be the view of some hon. Members opposite. Let me ask the Committee to consider for a moment what the Constitution is, and why is it in the position in which it is to-day.
§ The DEPUTY-CHAIRMAN (Mr. Whitley)
The question surely before the Committee is as to the comparative merits of the proposals contained in the Amendment of the hon. and learned Member for Kingston and those embodied in the Government Resolutions.
§ Mr. H. TERRELL
I am very sorry if I have wandered outside the Amendment before the House. I was endeavouring to show, first of all, what the Constitution is which we are going to amend, with a view to showing how we are proposing to amend it. The amendment of the Constitution, if we are going to define the Constitution in this matter precisely, must resolve itself into one or two categories. We must either establish for finance purposes a Single Chamber, or we must establish a two-Chamber Constitution. If we establish a two-Chamber constitution the Second Chamber must be a Chamber which has authority and jurisdiction to deal with financial matters. The proposal of the Government in this respect is to establish a single-Chamber Constitution, and I venture to say that the majority of the House, and even of hon. Members opposite, will agree that a single-Chamber Constitution in the vital matter of finance is not desirable. But if we are to have a second authority which shall have some 701 control over the authority of this House on financial matters, surely we should endeavour to introduce some method whereby the two Houses shall come together to decide any great questions which may arise. The idea of a joint Session is not an entirely new one. It has been considered in various forms before now. Is there any insuperable reason why, if this House and the other House are at variance with regard to any matter of finance, the two Houses or Committees of the two Houses should not as sensible men meet and discuss the question, and, if possible, settle it. If we examine the history of our country it will be seen it was by methods of that kind, by methods of discussion and compromise, that the Constitution which we have to-day was gradually built up. Are we to-day so lacking in constructive power that we cannot adopt some principle and devise some scheme which will avoid eradicating entirely one of the Chambers which have grown up in the course of hundreds of years? Are we so dense in political building that we cannot build up some method which will meet the difficulty which has arisen, something short of merely cutting out the House of Lords so far as financial matters are concerned?
The proposal of the hon. and learned Member for Kingston is one which should meet with approval of all model ate men on the other side of the House. It is true my hon. and learned Friend has not laid down in detail the way in which it might be best to carry out his proposal. But an Amendment such as this is not the occasion to go into detail. The Question discussed is rather one of principle—shall we or shall we not introduce a method of joint-conference between the two Houses, which will get over the difficulty rather than cut down entirely the powers of the other House, and leave this House supreme in all methods of finance? It has been pointed out in the course of Debate that if this House is supreme in financial matters it will be able without control to legislate. I am perfectly well aware that that is exactly what hon. Members belonging to the Labour party desire. They candidly say we want a single-Chamber Constitution and they support this Resolution as a great step towards that end. If this Resolution is passed it will for all practical purposes create n this country a single-Chamber Constitution. It must be borne in mind that once you have-established a Single 702 Chamber with absolute and supreme power in all matters of finance you have established for all practical purposes a single-Chamber Constitution. As the hon. Member for King's Lynn pointed out, if you look at the second part of the Resolution critically you will find it not only gives to this House absolute power in matters of finance but it also gives it absolute power in all matters in any way connected with finance, so that you have only got to introduce some financial provision in a Bill, no matter how slight, in order to bring it within the terms of this Resolution. The result of that is that you are extending enormously the powers of this House, and you are giving it almost absolute and unrestrained power in regard to these matters. It cannot be said, nor would the Secretary of State for War say, that it was at any time the constitutional right of this House alone to introduce and to have sole control of legislation, provided in the Bill there was some financial provision? I am sure the right hon. Gentleman will not suggest any such thing, for in fact he told us himself that there were some thirty or forty cases where the financial provisions were smaller than the general provisions, and that the Lords interfered. If this Resolution is passed that at any rate has gone. If this Resolution is passed as it stands to-day, it matters not how great the measure is, if it is in any way connected with finance it is a Money Bill within the meaning of the Resolution.
§ The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Emmott)
The hon. Member is discussing the latter part of the Resolution to which this Amendment does not apply.
§ Mr. HENRY TERRELL
I am sorry I have transgressed the rules of Order, but I was putting this for the purpose of showing how essential it is that, instead of destroying the power of the Lords, we should endeavour to arrive at some means by which we can reform that body, and so enable their power to be exercised with safety to the country. One way which seems to me to be a reasonable way is to have a joint conference, call it what you will, at which there should be a joint discussion between the entirety of both Houses, or at which a Committee of both Houses should join in consultation, and if this were entered into in the spirit of a desire to arrive at the solution of any difficulty which arises it is sure to be productive of benefit and conduce to a sound and amicable settlement. Surely in 703 this country, where the whole system of Government has been built up by constant concessions on one side or the other, it is better to try to follow the old principle than to lay down a new one. In other words, we want to continue the old system under which this Constitution has been created of which hon. Members are so proud. This has been created not by defiance, but by concessions from time to time on one side or on the other, and, although there have been controversies, they have been settled by mutual goodwill on the part of all anxious to consider the interests of the country as larger than the interests of any party. That is what I submit as the statesmanlike view with regard to this matter and of dealing with it. On the other hand3 the view which is put against it is, that while it is true that the House of Lords is a tree that has borne good fruit in the past, yet it wants pruning, and hon. Members propose to cut down for the purpose of pruning it. The question for this House is, Which of these methods will you adopt—will you take the method which has been adopted in the past with such very beneficial and advantageous results, or will you take what I call the asinine proposal of cutting down your tree in order to prune it?
§ Mr. KEIR HARDIE
I hope that the proceedings on this Resolution are not to be taken as establishing a precedent for the conduct of business and of the guillotine. The Secretary for War yesterday, while the House was supposed to enter upon the Committee to-day in connection with these Resolutions, started upon a Second Reading Debate and enlarged the scope of discussion, and introduced matters not relevant to the Motion before the House. The result of that has been that during the Government time yesterday, and the whole of the time down to the dinner-hour today, the House has been discussing not the details of the Resolution, but abstract propositions on controversial points of various kinds which have been dealt with ad nauseam in former Debates, with the consequence that in a few minutes the House will divide on the Resolution and it will not have been discussed at all. [HON. MEMBERS: "Hear, hear."] Hon. Members opposite should have played the game. If it was the intention of the Government to prevent the Resolution being discussed in detail hon. Members opposite on the 704 Front Bench and others ought not to have taken a hand in the game. [An HON. MEMBER: "Why did your side?"] We did not. We regret the wider issue could not be raised as to whether a Second Chamber should continue to exist. We endeavoured to secure that issue being raised, but we were cut out. A good deal has been said about the danger of the uncontrolled power of a single Chamber, and one of the arguments used in favour of this Amendment is that if these Resolutions went through in their present form it gives the House of Commons uncontrolled power over finance, and one hon. Gentleman opposite insinuated that the House of Commons might not be able to control the Labour party, and, therefore, there was an additional reason why some check should be proposed to limit the financial proposals, and he put a case in point.
Evidently he is not aware of the fact that in South Australia the finances of the Colony were in such confusion under Liberal and Tory administrations that the Labour party had to be called in to set them straight and to restore honest administration; and that only this week the electors of South Australia have returned the Labour party to power by a majority over both of the other parties. Therefore, when the hon. Member quotes Labour Members as being in favour of extravagance, he might keep the fact in mind that the form of their extravagance was not corruption, and that the money has been spent for the good of the State, and its expenditure has commended itself to the electorate.
§ Mr. KEIR HARDIE
Then the Amendment proposes to enlarge the powers of the House of Lords. That may be glossed over, or attempted to be concealed, but I do not think anyone will seriously deny that such would be the effect of the Amendment. We have heard a great deal about precedent in this Debate, and the hon. and learned Gentleman (Mr. Henry Terrell) said that our Constitution had grown up by a process of concession on both sides. But those who know anything about the history of our Constitution are aware that every precedent established in connection with it, every change that has been made in the Constitution since the days of Magna Charta onwards, has been 705 in the direction of curtailing the powers of the privileged classes, and in enlarging the powers of the common people. These Resolutions, imperfect though they are, propose to enlarge the powers of the common people still further. I regret that they are not clear upon the point as to whether or not the House of Lords is to have power to repeat the action against which we are now protesting. They claim that they did not reject the Finance Bill, or amend it, but merely delayed its passing to give the nation an opportunity of judging. The Prime Minister said that rejecting includes delaying or suspending. That appears to me to be a matter open to some doubt. While trying to protect the farmyard against the wolves we might as well be careful to close up every opening by which they might find an entry.
Then there is the further point raised by the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Austen Chamberlain) as to what is the use of sending the Finance Bill to the House of Lords at all when these Resolutions become law. If they are not to have the power to amend the Bill nor to reject it, nor to suspend it, why send it to them? Why make two bites at the cherry? Why not say emphatically here and now that the House of Commons is supreme in finance, and so show that in practice as well as in theory by sending the Finance Bill direct to the Sovereign without going to the House of Lords at all? Surely that is the logical outcome of the Resolutions. We object to the proposed conference for two reasons, first of all because it is an enlargement of the powers of the House of Lords, and, secondly, because it appears to confer upon the House of Lords a power which we dispute their right to possess, the power to interfere with either the spending or the raising of the finances of the country. If we cannot secure a direct trial of strength in regard to the total abolition of the Lords we shall certainly vote against every proposal which in any way enlarges their powers.
§ 10.0 P.M.
§ Mr. WILLIAM PEEL
I am very much in sympathy with what has fallen from the hon. Member. I very much regret, among other things, that there was no opportunity given to the House or the Committee during the course of these Debates to discuss the question whether you should have a Second Chamber at all, because I think a Division oh this point would have been very illuminating indeed. It would have separated those who really 706 are in favour of no Chamber at all from those, if there are any still remaining on that side of the House, who really genuinely desire a Second Chamber. I think it would have put some Members of the Cabinet into a difficulty, because, after listening to the speech of the Secretary for War yesterday, I think he would have had very great difficulty in voting upon that particular Amendment. I felt through the whole of his speech that he was out of sympathy with the rest of his colleagues, and it was only that curiously adhesive glue which enables the Members of the Cabinet to sit together which kept him in that frail structure at all. The hon. Member made another very pertinent observation. He said, "After all, why go through this elaborate performance? Why, after having discussed the Finance Bill in this House, take it to the House of Lords at all? They may not amend it, and they may not reject it. They could hardly apply the real procedure which applies to ordinary Bills to a ridiculous performance like passing the Finance Bill. Why not avoid the noxious Chamber altogether? Why not send the Finance Bill straight to the Crown, and avoid the farce of sending to the Second Chamber?" I can answer the question very easily. The Government want to set up a fraud. That is the whole object of the performance. They want to pretend that they are really maintaining a Second Chamber and that is why they have to go through this performance which, to the common-sense of the hon. Member seems so ridiculous, and is now so portentous a sham.
The hon. Member (Mr. Mond) made a very remarkable speech. He spoke as a business man dealing with this in a business way, and it is ridiculous that, after this House has dealt with the Finance Bill and has settled what the Grants are for the year, it should go to another Chamber in order to be discussed again. This business man only a few weeks ago was supporting the Government in the extraordinary proposition of borrowing their own money at a high rate of interest. Surely it requires a considerable amount of audacity even, in that hon. Member to come before us posing as a business man when he had been supporting the Government in this extraordinary financial proposition.
§ Mr. BOTTOMLEY
rose in his place, and claimed to move, "That the Question be now put," but the Chairman withheld his assent, and declined then to put that Question.
§ Mr. WILLIAM PEEL
The hon. Member dealt with another argument. I could not quite understand what his attitude was towards the British Constitution at all, because at one moment he was telling us that the British Constitution is the wonder of the world, and his voice grew warm with emotion when he spoke of the wonderful British Constitution. In the next minute he was telling us that the British Constitution was the derision of the world because he had been with one of his foreign professors, who said:—What a ridiculous state of things this is. You do not know in England whether or not the House of Lords can reject a Finance Bill. What sort of a Constitution is that when you have to discuss for days and nights the simple question of whether your Second Chamber can or cannot reject a Finance Bill?One of my objections to depriving the Second Chamber of all its powers in this respect is that the House of Commons itself has largely lost its power over finance. You do not vote the finance of the year in the year, and the great mass of the taxes are collected by Statute— probably about three-quarters of them— and the House of Commons therefore has been gradually losing, year after year and more and more, the control over its own finances. And yet it is at this very time, when the House of Commons is surrendering more and more power over finance, and more and more power to the Government of the day, that you choose the particular opportunity to destroy any power in the other Chamber of dealing with finance. I think it was the hon. Member for Romford (Sir J. H. Bethell), who, speaking the other day on the second Resolution, said that the House of Lords would be able to discuss these matters the second year as well as the first. He said:—It is a very poor House of Lords and a very poor discussion in that Chamber if it is not going to influence votes.He was arguing then on the point of the limited Veto.
§ Mr. PEEL
I think when I conclude my passing reference the hon. Member will see that it has a very close connection indeed to my argument. I was going to say that in the case of matters which come within the scope of the second Resolution there is a possibility of opinion being influenced as regards the country by discussion in the House of Lords, because the people read the Debates of the House of Lords more than those of the House of Commons. They are said to be better Debates. That is because they have more leisure to prepare their speeches. There could be no discussion in the case of a Finance Bill, because the House of Lords would know that, however brilliant their speeches and however good their arguments, that Bill must become law immediately after the discussion has taken place. Therefore they are deprived of the possibility of influencing public opinion. No Debate could take place on a finance measure, however much other measures might be discussed in the House of Lords. Then you are taking away from the Second Chamber not only the power to reject or amend, but also the power of discussing. It is impossible to imagine that even the strongest backwoodsman would come up from his sylvan retreats to discuss a Bill which he knew, after he had discussed it, was bound to become law. The Chancellor of the Exchequer has never really dealt satisfactorily with this point, namely, that after all in the form of Finance Bills, measures may be passed through dealing with matters which should not be dealt with in Finance Bills. The right hon. Gentleman said: "It is quite true that in the Budget last year I dealt with social reform."
§ Mr. PEEL
The right hon. Gentleman has forgotten his own Budget. I refreshed my memory as to his Budget this morning, and I had a very agreeable half-hour in reading it. I do not mean the more strictly financial part of it, but the social reform part of it. I found there a great deal that was interesting, but very remote from finance. It dealt with sylviculture and a huge programme of social reform. He admits the impeachment.
§ Mr. LLOYD-GEORGE
There is surely a great difference between the method of the application of money and the Budget itself. It is perfectly true that in my Budget statement I explained what the money 709 was to be applied to. That has nothing to do with the Finance Bill, but every Chancellor of the Exchequer does that.
§ Mr. PEEL
The right hon. Gentleman went a great deal beyond what the money was to be applied to, because he told us the programme the money was to be applied to in future. The very ground on which he defended the land taxes was that though they were to produce nothing, or next to nothing this year and in the following year, they were going to produce millions later on, and he sketched a wonderful social programme which was going to be the result of that Budget.
§ Mr. BALFOUR
Is it not a fact that you ruled, earlier in the evening, that the Debate could take place either on the question of the words proposed to be left out or on the Amendment, substituting other words for those proposed to be left out?
§ The CHAIRMAN
Undoubtedly that was what was ruled—that hon. Members might discuss not only the words proposed to be inserted, but also the meaning of the words proposed to be left out.
§ Mr. PEEL
For good or evil Budgets coming before the House are no longer to deal with revenue only, but are going to aim at far-reaching matters outside the region of revenue. The right hon. Gentleman, has never told us why, if these matters are to be dealt with in a Finance Bill, the Second Chamber should be deprived of any method of dealing with them. Several of these matters have already been referred to. I may refer to the question of licences in this connection. The Chancellor of the Exchequer distinctly said that by laying heavy duties on the smaller houses, some of them were going to be taxed out of existence. In the case of the whisky duty lie told his admiring followers that, after all, if he did not get money out of it, it would have the effect of reducing the amount of whisky consumed. If that is so, you might double or treble the duty, and you would have produced by Act of Parliament complete temperance in these islands so far as whisky drinking is concerned.
Let me say a word on another point as regards the Second Chamber. We know that the Secretary of State for War is very anxious to see some reform of the Second Chamber. His anxiety was so great on this 710 subject that he reduced his feelings to writing, and he read them out to an astonished House, and I think he was so well satisfied having reduced his feelings to writing and delivered himself of them that he is going to take no further steps whatever to carry out those views. But let us assume for a moment that we are going to have this elective Second Chamber. What I am afraid of is that you are going to have a tremendous reaction in this matter of control over finance. You are going so far now as to take away from the Second Chamber all power of rejecting a Finance Bill. Is that going to be tolerated by a Second Chamber when you have got an elected Second Chamber? Think of what those men will be. First of all, they are going, according to the declaration of the Chancellor of the Exchequer himself, to be a far smaller body than the present House—[HON. MEMBERS: "Wait and see "]—I think about 150. I believe it is the Foreign Secretary who has said it, but one has to distinguish very carefully between the view of hon. Members and his Majesty's Ministers. These 150 persons will obviously represent far larger constituencies than Members of this House. I suppose that even the Member for Romford will seem to be a pigmy compared with some of these Gentlemen who will sit at the end of the Corridor. What will they do? They will treat us as a very insignificant set of people; they will say, "Each of us represents four times the number of people that you do." Each of them will represent 70,000 or 80,000 electors. They will certainly claim to have more powers than you are taking away from the Second Chamber, and they will certainly claim to have the final voice in dealing with finance. I should not be surprised also if they claim the power of amending Finance Bills. Why has the other House got no power of amending Finance Bills? Partly, no doubt, for historical reasons and partly for matters of business. Yet there is an extraordinary want of logic about it, because it does seem at first sight, and I am sure it would seem so to those who were constructing a constitution, a very remarkable thing to give a Second Chamber the power of rejecting a Bill, which is a greater power, and not to give them the power of amending the Bill, which is a smaller power.
§ Mr. PEEL
I will conclude on one point, that relating to the proposal for a joint Session. The hon. Member for Salford, discussing this question, scoffed at the whole idea. He said it was going to be a joint Session only of plutocrats. It is rather surprising that the hon. Member should have poured such scorn on these conferences, seeing that he himself voted for not one, but three conferences on the Resolutions brought forward in 1907. As regards the suggestion made by the hon. Member, the whole point must depend on the size of the Second Chamber. On that we had very little suggestion indeed from the Prime Minister or the Chancellor, and in criticising the proposal all that was said was that it would of course be impossible to have these joint Sessions with a House of the present size, because there would have to be a majority of between 400 and 500 before the Second Chamber could be outvoted. The suggestion, whether a good or bad one, was dealt with in a purely party manner by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Looking, back upon the history of these great revolutions, certainly the Ministers who took part in them did so less in a party manner and more in a statesmanlike manner then. It is quite true that one or two hundred years hence, when people look back upon these days, the Chancellor of the Exchequer may appear to be a great statesman, perhaps a great Conservative statesman, and the Home Secretary may have all the appearance of a Somers. It may be that in looking upon statesmen of the past we are too apt to idealise their achievements; it may be that we give them proportions and lineaments with which they were never 712 credited by the men who lived then; but making all allowance for the natural distortion which history makes in the great figures of the past, I cannot help thinking that posterity will not regard the present revolutionary Gentlemen in the same light as some of those who carried through the Great Revolution of 1688, and may appear, as they appear to us to-day, to be a small sat of revolutionaries trying to carry out one of the greatest changes in the history of the country for the smallest party ends and purposes.
§ The SOLICITOR-GENERAL (Sir Rufus Isaacs)
Really one only appreciates the unreality of the proposal which is put forward in this Amendment when one considers the speech which has just been delivered, in which the hon. Member has travelled over much ground and has been allowed very great latitude. [An HON. MEMBER: "NO."] I am making no complaint; on the contrary, it is very useful, because it enables us to cease, at any rate, to expect something showing precisely what was meant by the Amendment. It was only during the last four or five minutes that the hon. Member spoke that we got to the joint Session, which is the substance of the Amendment that is proposed, but never explained, never expounded in any way, either by my hon. and learned Friend the Member who moved it, or by any other hon. or right hon. Member, with the exception of the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, in the speech which he made. May I just call attention to what the Amendment is, in the few moments at my disposal. What it proposes to do is to leave out the words we are proposing, and to substitute for them something which no one has yet explained, notwithstanding that it is the first opportunity which my hon. Friends opposite have had of expounding to us how they mean to reform the Upper House.
§ Sir RUFUS ISAACS
The right hon. Gentleman says that our Resolution has not been expounded, but I. should think that it was as clear as possible. In order that there may be no doubt, I have three minutes, and I will undertake in those three minutes that are left to show what a very narrow point it is that divides us. We say this is declaratory of the constitutional law as it at present stands. I am glad to see the right hon. and learned Member for Edinburgh and St. Andrews University "(Sir Robert 713 Finlay) in his place, and I am quite certain he will not dissent from what I am going to recite as the result; of all these questions of constitutional law, first that the Lords have no right to initiate Money Bills or Supply. Of that there is no discussion. Secondly, on authority of the right hon. and learned Gentleman there is no doubt in his view that there is no right with the House of Lords to amend Money Bills. That has been laid down. Therefore we have got two points in the discussion, initiation and amendment, and both are ruled out. The only question that remains is whether there is the right of rejection—
§ Mr. AUSTEN CHAMBERLAIN
I am obliged to rise to a point of Order. You, Sir, have just ruled that we cannot now discuss the original Motion. [HON. MEMBERS: "Order, order!"]
§ The CHAIRMAN
I must appeal to hon. Members not to spoil the remaining two minutes by disorderly interruptions. [Interruption.]
§ And, it being half-past Ten of the clock the Chairman proceeded, in pursuance of the Order of the House of the 5th April, to put forthwith the Question on the; Amendment already proposed from the Chair.
§ Question put, "That the words it is expedient that the House of Lords be disabled by law from' stand part of the proposed Resolution."
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 340; Noes, 239.717
|Division No. 22.]||AYES.||[10.30 p.m.|
|Abraham, William||Collins, G. P. (Greenock)||Greig, Colonel J. W.|
|Addison, Dr. C.||Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Grenfell, Cecil Alfred|
|Adkins, W. Ryland D.||Collins, Sir Wm. J. (St. Pancras, W.)||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward|
|Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R.||Compton-Rickett, Sir J.||Gulland, John William|
|Agrew, George William||Condon, Thomas Joseph||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Hackett, J.|
|Alden, Percy||Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.|
|Allen, Charles P.||Cory, Sir Clifford John||Hall, Frederick (Noimanton)|
|Anderson, A.,||Cowan, W. H.||Hancock, J. G.|
|Armitage, R.||Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. Lewis (Rossendale)|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||Hardie, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvll)|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Crosfield, A. H.||Harmsworth, R. L.|
|Baker, H. T. (Accrington)||Crossley, Sir W. J.||Harvey,.A. G. C. (Rochdale)|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||Cullinan, J.||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, W.)|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Daiziel, Sir James H. (Kirkcaldy)||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N.E.)|
|Barclay, Sir T.||Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||Harwood, George|
|Barlow, Sir John E.||Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Haslam, James (Derbyshire):|
|Barnes, G. N.||Davies, M. Vaughan-(Cardigan)||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)|
|Barran, Sir J. (Hawick)||Dawes, J. A.||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry|
|Barran, Rowland Hirst (Leeds, N.)||Delany, William||Haworth, Arthur A.|
|Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Denman, Hon. Richard Douglas||Hoyden. John Patrick|
|Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.)||Devlin, Joseph||Hayward, Evan|
|Barton, A. W.||Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.)||Hazelton, Richard|
|Beale, W. P.||Dewar, Sir J. A. (Inverness)||Helme, Norval Watson,|
|Benn, W. (Tower Hamlets, St. Geo.)||Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)|
|Bentham, George Jackson||Donelan, Captain A.||Henderson, J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)|
|Bethell, Sir J. H.||Doris, W.||Henry, Charles S.|
|Black, Arthur W.||Duffy, William J.||Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor|
|Boland, John Plus:||Duncan, C. (Bar row-In-Furness)||Higham, John Sharp|
|Bottomley, Horatio||Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley)||Hindle, F. G.|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.|
|Boyle, D. (Mayo, N.)||Edwards, Enoch||Hodge, John|
|Brady, P. J.||Elverston, H.||Hogan, Michael|
|Brigg, Sir John||Esmonde, Sir Thomas||Holt, Richard Durning|
|Brocklehurst, W. B.||Esslemont, George Blrnie||Hooper. A. G.|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Falconer, J.||Hope, John Deans (Fife, West)|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Farrell, James Patrick||Horne, C. Silvester (Ipswich)|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Fenwick, Charles||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey|
|Buxton, C. R. (Devon, Mid)||Ferens, T. R.||Hudson, Waiter|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney C. (Poplar)||Ferguson, R. C. Munro||Hughes, S. L.|
|Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, North)||Ffrench, Peter||Hunter, W. (Govan)|
|Byles, William Pollard||Flavin, Michael Joseph||Illingworth, Percy H.|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||France, G. A.||Isaacs, Sir Rufus Daniel|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Gelder, Sir W. A.||Jardine, Sir J. (Roxburgh)|
|Cawley, Harold T. (Heywood)||Gibson, James P.||Johnson, W.|
|Chancellor, H. G.||Gill, A. H.||Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)|
|Channing, Sir Francis Allston||Ginnell, L.||Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)|
|Chappie, W. A.||Glanville, H. J.||Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Glover, Thomas||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)|
|Clough, William||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||Jowett, F. W.|
|Clynes, J. R||Greenwood, G. G.||Joyce, Michael|
|Kelly, Edward||O'Dowd, John||Simon, John Allsebrook|
|Kemp, Sir G.||Ogden, Fred||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)|
|Kennedy, Vincent Paul||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)||Snowden, P.|
|Kettle, Thomas Michael||O'Malley, William||Soames, Arthur Wellesley|
|Kilbride, Denis||O'Neill, Charles (Armagh, S.)||Soares, Ernest J.|
|King, J. (Somerset, N.)||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.||Spicer, Sir Albert|
|Lambert, George||O'Shee, James John||Stanley, Albert (Staffs. H.W.)|
|Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, W.)||O'Sullivan, Eugene||Strachey, Sir Edward|
|Layland-Barratt, Sir Francis||Palmer, Godfrey||Sutherland, J. E.|
|Leach, Charles||Parker, James (Halifax)||Taylor, John W. (Durham)|
|Lehmann, R. C.||Pearce, William||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcilffe)|
|Levy, Sir Maurice||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A.||Tennant, Harold John|
|Lewis, John Herbert||Philipps, Col. Ivor (Southampton)||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.|
|Lincoln, Ignatius T. T.||Philipps, Sir Owen C. (Pembroke)||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)|
|Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)||Thomas, D. A. (Cardiff)|
|Lough, Rt Hon. Thomas||Pickersgill, Edward Hare||Thomas, J. H. (Derby)|
|Low, Sir F. (Norwich)||Pirie, Duncan V||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)|
|Lundon, T.||Pointer, Joseph||Tomkinson, Rt. Hon. James|
|Luttrell, Hugh Fownes||Pollard, Sir George H.||Toulmin, George|
|Lynch, A. A.||Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Trevelyan, Charles Philips|
|Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)||Power, Patrick Joseph||Twist, Henry|
|Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)||Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander|
|Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.||Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)||Verney, F. W.|
|MacVeagh, Jeremiah||Priestley, Arthur (Grantham)||Vivian, Hanry|
|M'Callum. John M.||Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)||Walker, H. De R. (Leicester)|
|M'Laren, Rt. Hon. Sir C. B. (Leics.)||Primrose, Hon. Neil James||Walsh, Stephen|
|M'Laren, F. W. S. (Lines., Spalding)||Pringle, William M. R.||Waiters, John Tudor|
|Mallet, Charles E.||Radford, George Heynes||Walton, Joseph|
|Manfield, Harry||Raffan, Peter Wilson||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Markham, Arthur Basil||Rainy, A. Rolland||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Marks, George Croydon||Raphael, Herbert H.||Wardle, George J.|
|Martin, J.||Rea, Walter Russell||Waring, Walter|
|Masterman, C. F. G.||Reddy, H.||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Meagher, Michael||Redmond, John E. (Waterford)||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Meehan, Francis E. (Leitrim, N.)||Redmond, William (Clare)||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Meehan, Patrick A. (Queen's Co.)||Rees, J. D||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Menzies, Sir Walter||Rendall, Athelstan||Watt, Henry A.|
|Middlebrook, William||Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Millar, J. D.||Roberts, C. H. (Norwich)||White, Sir George (Norfolk)|
|Molloy, M.||Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)||White, J. Dundas (Dumbartonshire)|
|Molteno, Percy Alport||Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)||White, Sir Luke (York, E.R.)|
|Mond, Alfred Moritz||Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Montagu, Hon. E. S.||Robinson, S.||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Mooney, J. J.||Robson, Sir William Snowdon||Whittaker, Rt. Hon Sir Thomas P.|
|Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)||Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)||Whyte, Alexander F. (Perth)|
|Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)||Roche, Augustine (Cork)||Wiles, Thomas|
|Morton, Alpheus Cleophas||Roche, John (Galway, East)||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Muldoon, John||Roe, Sir Thomas||Williams, A. N. (Plymouth)|
|Munro, R.||Rowntree, Arnold||Williams, P. (Middlesborough)|
|Murray, Captain Hon. A. C.||Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter||Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)|
|Muspratt, M.||Samuel, Rt. Hon. H. L. (Cleveland)||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W.R.)|
|Nannetti, Joseph P.||Samuel, J. (Stockton)||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Nellson, Francis||Samuel, S. M. (whitechapel)||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestershire, N.)|
|Nicholson, Charles N. (Doncaster)||Scanlan, Thomas||Wilson, T. F. Lanark, N.E.)|
|Nolan, Joseph||Schwann, Sir C. E.||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Norton, Capt. Cecil W.||Scott, A. H. (Ashton-under-Lyne)||Winfrey, R.|
|Nugent, Sir Walter Richard||Seddon, J.||Wood, T. M'Kinnon (Glasgow)|
|Nuttall, Harry||Seely, Col., Right Hon. J. E. B.||Young, W. (Perthshire, E.)|
|O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)||Shackleton, David James||Younger, W. (Peebles and Selkirk)|
|O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)||Shaw, Sir C. E.||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)||Sheehy, David|
|O'Doherty, Philip||Sherwell, Arthur James||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Master|
|O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S.)||Shortt, Edward||of Elibank and Mr. Fuller.|
|O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)|
|Adam, Major W. A.||Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. H. M.|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Beckett, Hon. W. Gervase||Carille, E. Hildred|
|Arbuthnot, G. A.||Benn, I. H. (Greenwich)||Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H.|
|Archer-Shee, Major M.||Bentinck, Lord H. Cavendish||Castlereagh, Viscount|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Beresford, Lord C.||Cator, John|
|Bagot, Captain J.||Bird, A.||Cave, George|
|Baird, J. L.||Boyle, W. L. (Norfolk, Mid)||Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)|
|Balcarres, Lord||Boyton, J.||Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University)|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Brassey, H. L. C. (N'thamptonshire, N.)||Chaloner, Colonel R. W. G.|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City, Lond.)||Brassey, Capt. R. B. (Banbury)||Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worc'r.)|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Bridgeman, William Clive||Chambers, James|
|Banner, John S. Harmood-||Brunskill, G. F.||Clay, Captain H. Spender|
|Baring, Captain Hon. G.||Bull, Sir William James||Clive, Percy Archer|
|Bartiston, H.||Burdett-Coutts, W.||Coates, Major E. F.|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Butcher, J. G. (York)||Colefax, H. A.|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilts, Wilton)||Butcher, S. H. (Cambridge Univ.)||Compton, Lord A. (Brentford)|
|Bathurst, Hon. A. B. (Glouc., E.)||Calley, Colonel T. C. P.||Cooper, Capt. Bryan (Dublin, S.)|
|Cooper, R. A. (Walsall)||Hohler, G. F.||Quilter, William Eley C.|
|Courthope, G Loyd||Hope, Harry (Bute)||Randies, Sir John Scurrah|
|Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.)||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)||Rankin, Sir James|
|Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Horne, W. E. (Surrey, Guildford)||Ratcliff, Major R. F.|
|Craig, Norman (Kent)||Horner, A. L.||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel|
|Craik, Sir Henry||Houston, Robert Paterson||Rawson, Colonel R. H|
|Cripps, Sir C. A.||Hume-Williams, W. E.||Remnant, James Farquharson|
|Croft, H. P.||Hunt, Rowland||Rice, Hon. W.|
|Dalrymple, Viscount||Hunter, Sir C. R. (Bath)||Ridley, Samuel Forac|
|Dixon, C. H.||Jackson, John A. (Whitehaven)||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Eccleshall)|
|Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers||Jardine, E. (Somerset, E.)||Rollestsn, Sir John|
|Du Cros, Alfred (Tower Hamlets, Bow)||Jessel, Captain H. M.||Ronaldshay, Earl of|
|Duke, H. E.||Kerr-Smiley, Peter||Rothschild, Lionel de|
|Duncannon, Viscount||Kerry, Earl of||Royds, Edmund|
|Dunn, Sir W. H. (Southwark)||Keswick, William||Rutherford, Watson|
|Eyres-Monsell, B M.||Kimber, Sir Henry||Salter, Arthur Clavell|
|Faber, George Denison (Clapham)||King, Sir Henry Seymour (Hall)||Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)|
|Faber, Capt. W. V. (Hants, W.)||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement||Sanders, Robert A.|
|Falle, B. G.||Kirkwood, J. H. M.||Sanderson, Lancelot|
|Fell, Arthur||Knight, Capt. E. A.||Sandys, G. J. (Somerset, Wells)|
|Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||Lane-Fox, G. R.||Sandys, Lieut.-Col. T. M. (Bootle)|
|Finlay, Sir Robert||Law, Andrew Bonar (Dulwich)||Sassoon, Sir El ward Albert|
|Fisher, W. Hayes||Lawson, Hon. Harry||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)|
|Fitzroy, Hon. E. A.||Lee, Arthur H.||Stanier, Beville|
|Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue||Lewisham, Viscount||Stanley, Hon. Arthur (Ormskirk)|
|Fleming, Valentine||Llewelyn, Major Venables||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)|
|Fletcher, J. S.||Lloyd, G. A.||Starkey, John R.|
|Forster, Henry William||Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Staveley-Hill, Henry (Staffordshire)|
|Foster, H. S. (Suffolk, N.)||Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsay)||Steel-Maitland, A. D.|
|Foster, J. K. (Coventry)||Lockwood. Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A. R.||Stewart, Gershom (Ches., Wirral)|
|Foster, P. S. (Warwick, S.W.)||Long, Rt. Hon. Walter||Stewart, Sir M'T. (Kirkcudbright)|
|Gardner, Ernest||Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Storey, Samuel|
|Gastrell, Major W. H.||Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)||Strauss, Arthur|
|Gibbs, G. A.||Lyttelton, Rt Hon. A. (Hanover Sq.)||Sykes, Alan John|
|Gilmour, Captain J.||Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droitwich)||Terrell, G. (Wilts, N.W.)|
|Goldman, C. S.||MacCaw, William J. MacGeagh||Terrell, H. (Gloucester)|
|Goldsmith, Frank||Mackinder, Halford J.||Thompson, Robert|
|Gooch, Henry Cubitt||Macmaster, Donald||Thynne, Lord Alexander|
|Gordon, J.||M'Arthur, Charles||Tobin, Alfred Aspinall|
|Gouldlng, Edward Alfred||Magnus, Sir Philip||Tryon, Capt. George Clement|
|Grant, James Augustus||Mason, J. F.||Tullibardine, Marquess of|
|Greene, W. R.||Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Verrall, George Henry|
|Guinness, Hon. W. E.||Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas||Walker, Colonel W. H. (Lancashire)|
|Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)||Moore, William||Walrond, Hon. Lionel|
|Haddock, George B.||Morpeth, Viscount||Ward, Arnold (Herts, Watford)|
|Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight)||Morrison, Captain J. A.||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|Hall, E. Marshall (L'pool, E. Toxteth)||Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Hambro, Angus Valdemar||Mount, William Arthur||White, Major G. D. (Lanes., Southport)|
|Hamersley, A. St. George||Newdegate, F. A.||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington, S.)||Newman, John R. P.||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claude|
|Hamilton, Marquess of (Londonderry)||Newton, Harry Kottingham||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashford)||Nicholson, Wm. G. (Petersfield)||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E.R.)|
|Harris, F. L. (Stepney)||Nield, Herbert||Winterton, Earl|
|Harris, H. P. (Paddington, S.)||O'Neill, Hon. A. E. B. (Antrim, Mid.)||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Harrison-Broadley, H. B.||Orde-Powlett, Hon. W. G. A.||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Heath, Col. A. H.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Worthington-Evans, L. (Colchester)|
|Helmsley, viscount||Paget, Almeric Hugh||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Henderson, H. G. H. (Berkshire)||Peel, Capt R. F. (Woodbridge)||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Hermon-Hodge, Sir Robert||Peel, Hon. W. R. W. (Taunton)||Yerburgh, Robert|
|Hickmann. Colonel T.||Perkins, Walter F.||Younger, George (Ayr Burghs)|
|Hill, Sir Clement||Peto, Basil Edward|
|Hillier, Dr. A. P.||Pollock, Ernest Murray||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Sir|
|Hills, J. W.||Pretyman, E. G.||A. Acland-Hood and Viscount|
|Hoare, S. J. G.||Proby, Colonel Douglas James||Valentia.|
§ The Chairman then proceeded to put forthwith the Question necessary to dispose of the Resolution to be concluded at half-past Ten of the clock this day.
§ Main Question put,
§ "1. That it is expedient that the House of Lords be disabled by Law from rejecting or amending a Money Bill, but that any such limitation by Law shall not be taken to diminish or qualify the existing rights and privileges of the House of Commons.718
§ "For the purpose of this Resolution a Bill shall be considered a Money Bill if, in the opinion of the Speaker, it contains only provisions dealing with all or any of the following subjects, namely, the imposition, repeal, remission, alteration, or regulation of taxation; charges on the Consolidated Fund or the provision of money by Parliament; Supply; the appropriation, control, or regulation of public money; the raising or guarantee of any loan or the repayment thereof; or matters incidental to those subjects or any of them."719
§ The Committee divided: Ayes, 339; Noes, 237.723
|Division No. 23.]||AYES.||[10.45 P.m.|
|Abraham, William||Duffy, William J.||Kilbride, Denis|
|Addison, Dr. Christopher||Duncan, C. (Barrow-in-Furness)||King, J. (Somerset, N.)|
|Adkins, W. Ryland D.||Duncan, J. Hastings (York, Otley)||Lambert, George|
|Agar-Robartes, Hon. T. C. R.||Dunn, A. Edward (Camborne)||Law, Hugh A. (Donegal, W.)|
|Agnew, George William||Edwards, Enoch||Layland-Barratt, Sir Francis|
|Ainsworth, John Stirling||Elverston, H.||Leach, Charles|
|Alden, Percy||Esmonde, Sir Thomas||Lehmann, R. C.|
|Allen, Charles P.||Esslemont, George Birnie||Levy, Sir Maurice|
|Anderson, A.||Falconer, James||Lewis, John Herbert|
|Armitage, R.||Farrell, James Patrick||Lincoln, Ignatius T. T.|
|Ashton, Thomas Gair||Fenwick, Charles||Lloyd-George, Rt. Hon. David|
|Asquith, Rt. Hon. Herbert Henry||Ferens, T. R.||Lough, Rt. Hon. Thomas|
|Baker, H. T. (Accrington)||Ferguson, R. C. Munro||Low, Sir F. (Norwich)|
|Baker, Joseph A. (Finsbury, E.)||Ffrench, Peter||Lundon, Thomas|
|Balfour, Robert (Lanark)||Flavin, Michael Joseph||Luttrell, Hugh Fownes|
|Barclay, Sir T.||France, G. A.||Lynch, A. A.|
|Barlow, Sir John E.||Gelder, sir W. A.||Macdonald, J. R. (Leicester)|
|Barnes, G. N.||Gibbins, F. W.||Macdonald, J. M. (Falkirk Burghs)|
|Barran, Sir John N. (Hawick, B.)||Gill, A. H.||Macnamara, Dr. Thomas J.|
|Barran, Rowland Hirst (Leeds, N.)||Ginnell, L.||MacVeagh, Jeremiah|
|Barry, E. (Cork, S.)||Glanville, H. J.||M'Callum, John M.|
|Barry, Redmond J. (Tyrone, N.)||Glover, Thomas||M'Laren, Rt. Hon. Sir C. B. (Leics.)|
|Barton, William||Goddard, Sir Daniel Ford||M'Laren, F. W. S. (Lincs., Spalding)|
|Beale, W. P.||Greenwood, G. G.||Mallet, Charles E.|
|Benn, W. (Tower Hamlets, St. Geo.)||Greig, Colonel J. W.||Manfield, Harry|
|Bentham, G. J.||Grenfell, Cecil Alfred||Markham, Arthur Basil|
|Bethell, Sir J. H.||Grey, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward||Marks, G. Croydon|
|Black, Arthur W.||Gulland, John William||Martin, J.|
|Boland, John Plus||Gwynn, Stephen Lucius (Galway)||Masterman, C. F. G.|
|Bottomley, Horatio||Hackett, J.||Meagher, Michael|
|Bowerman, C. W.||Haldane, Rt. Hon. Richard B.||Meehan, Francis E. (Leltrim, N.)|
|Boyle, D. (Mayo, N.)||Hall, Frederick (Normanton)||Meehan, Patrick A. (Queen's Co.)|
|Brady, P. J.||Hancock, J. G.||Menzies, Sir Walter|
|Brigg. Sir John||Harcourt, Rt. Hon. L. (Rossendale)||Middlebrook, William|
|Brocklehurst, W. B.||Hardle, J. Keir (Merthyr Tydvil)||Millar, J. D.|
|Burke, E. Haviland-||Harms worth, R. Leicester||Molloy, M.|
|Burns, Rt. Hon. John||Harvey, A. G. C. (Rochdale)||Molteno, Percy Alport|
|Burt, Rt. Hon. Thomas||Harvey, T. E. (Leeds, W.)||Mond, Alfred Morite|
|Buxton, C. R. (Devon, Mid.)||Harvey, W. E. (Derbyshire, N.E.)||Montagu, Hon. E. S.|
|Buxton, Noel (Norfolk, N.)||Harwood, George||Mooney, J. J.|
|Buxton, Rt. Hon. Sydney C. (Poplar)||Haslam, James (Derbyshire)||Morgan, G. Hay (Cornwall)|
|Byles, William Pollard||Haslam, Lewis (Monmouth)||Morgan, J. Lloyd (Carmarthen)|
|Carr-Gomm, H. W.||Havelock-Allan, Sir Henry||Morton, Alpheus Cleophas|
|Cawley, Sir Frederick (Prestwich)||Haworth, Arthur A.||Muldoon, John|
|Cawley, Harold T. (Heywood)||Hayden, John Patrick||Munro, R.|
|Chancellor, H. G.||Hayward, Evan||Murray, Captain Hon. A. C.|
|Charming, Sir Francis Allston||Hazleton, Richard||Muspratt, M.|
|Chapple, Dr. William Allen||Helme, Norval Watson||Nannetti, Joseph P.|
|Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston S.||Henderson, Arthur (Durham)||Nellson, Francis|
|Clough, William||Henderson J. M. (Aberdeen, W.)||Nicholson, Charles N. (Doneaster)|
|Clynes, J. R.||Henry, Charles S.||Nolan, Joseph|
|Collins, Godfrey P. (Greenock)||Herbert, Col. Sir Ivor||Norton, Capt. Cecil W.|
|Collins, Stephen (Lambeth)||Higham, John Sharp||Nugent, Sir Walter Richard|
|Collins, Sir Win. J. (St. Pancrat, W.)||Hobhouse, Rt. Hon. Charles E. H.||Nuttall, Harry|
|Compton-Rickett, Sir J.||Hodge, John||O'Brien, Patrick (Kilkenny)|
|Condon, Thomas Joseph||Hogan, Michael||O'Connor, John (Kildare, N.)|
|Corbett, A. Cameron (Glasgow)||Holt, Richard Durning||O'Connor, T. P. (Liverpool)|
|Cornwall, Sir Edwin A.||Hooper, A. G.||O'Doherty, Philip|
|Cory, Sir Clifford John||Hope, John Deans (Fife, West)||O'Donnell, John (Mayo, S.)|
|Cowan, W. H.||Home, C. Silvester (Ipswich)||O'Donnell, T. (Kerry, W.)|
|Craig, Herbert J. (Tynemouth)||Howard, Hon. Geoffrey||O'Dowd, John|
|Crawshay-Williams, Eliot||Hudson, Walter||Ogden, Fred|
|crosfleld, A. H.||Hughes, S. L.||O'Kelly, James (Roscommon, N.)|
|Crossley, Sir W. J.||Hunter, W. (Govan)||O'Malley, William|
|Cullinan, J.||Illingworth, Percy H.||O'Neill, Charles (Armagh. S.)|
|Dalzial, Sir James H. (Kirkcaldy)||Isaacs, Sir Rufus Daniel||O'Shaughnessy, P. J.|
|Davies, David (Montgomery Co.)||Jardine, Sir J. (Roxburgh)||O'Shee, James John|
|Davies, Sir W. Howell (Bristol, S.)||Johnson, W.||O'Sullivan, Eugene|
|Davies, M. Vaughan- (Cardigan)||Jones, Sir D. Brynmor (Swansea)||Palmer, Godfrey|
|Dawes, J. A.||Jones, Edgar (Merthyr Tydvil)||Parker, James (Halifax)|
|Delany, William||Jones, H. Haydn (Merioneth)||Pearce, William|
|Denman, Hon. R. D.||Jones, William (Carnarvonshire)||Pease, Rt. Hon. Joseph A.|
|Devlin, Joseph||Jowett, F. W.||Phillpps, Col. Ivor (Southampton)|
|Dewar, Arthur (Edinburgh, S.)||Joyce, Michael||Phillpps, Sir Owen C. (Pembroke)|
|Dewar, Sir J. A. (Inverness)||Kelly, Edward||Phillips, John (Longford, S.)|
|Dilke, Rt. Hon. Sir Charles||Kemp, Sir G.||Pickersgill, Edward Hare|
|Donelan, Captain A.||Kennedy, Vincent Paul||Pirie, Duncan V.|
|Doris, W.||Kettle, Thomas Michael||Pointer, Joseph|
|Pollard, Sir George H.||Schwann, Sir C. E.||Walton, Joseph|
|Ponsonby, Arthur A. W. H.||Scott, A. H. (Ashton-under-Lyne)||Ward, John (Stoke-upon-Trent)|
|Power, Patrick Joseph||Seddon, J.||Ward, W. Dudley (Southampton)|
|Price, C. E. (Edinburgh, Central)||Seely, Col., Right Hon. J. E. B.||Wardle, George J.|
|Price, Sir Robert J. (Norfolk, E.)||Shackleton, David James||Waring, Walter|
|Priestley, Arthur (Grantham)||Shaw, Sir C. E.||Warner, Thomas Courtenay T.|
|Priestley, Sir W. E. B. (Bradford, E.)||Sheeny, David||Wason, Rt. Hon. E. (Clackmannan)|
|Primrose, Hon. Neil James||Sherwell, Arthur James||Wason, John Cathcart (Orkney)|
|Pringle, William M. R.||Shortt, Edward||Waterlow, D. S.|
|Radford, G. H.||Simon, John Alisebrook||Watt, Henry A.|
|Raffan, Peter Wilson||Smyth, Thomas F. (Leitrim, S.)||Wedgwood, Josiah C.|
|Rainy, A. Rolland||Snowden, P.||White, Sir George (Norfolk)|
|Raphael, Herbert H.||Soames, Arthur Wellesley||White, J. Dundas (Dumbartonshire)|
|Rea, Walter Russell||Soares, Ernest J.||White, Sir Luke (York, E.R.)|
|Reddy, M.||Spicer, Sir Albert||White, Patrick (Meath, North)|
|Redmond, John E. (Waterlord)||Stanley, Albert (Staffs, N.W.)||Whitehouse, John Howard|
|Redmond, William (Clare)||Strachey, Sir Edward||Whittaker. Rt. Hon. Sir Thomas P.|
|Rees, J. D.||Sutherland, J. E.||Whyte, Alexander F. (Perth)|
|Rendall, Athelstan||Taylor, John W. (Durham)||wiles, Thomas|
|Roberts, Charles H. (Lincoln)||Taylor, Theodore C. (Radcliffe)||Wilkie, Alexander|
|Roberts, G. H. (Norwich)||Tennant, Harold John||Williams, A. N. (Plymouth)|
|Roberts, Sir J. H. (Denbighs)||Thomas, Abel (Carmarthen, E.)||Williams, P. (Mlddlesborough)|
|Robertson, Sir G. Scott (Bradford)||Thomas, Sir A. (Glamorgan, E.)||Wilson, Hon. G. G. (Hull, W.)|
|Robertson, J. M. (Tyneside)||Thomas, D. A. (Cardiff)||Wilson, Henry J. (York, W.R.)|
|Robinson, S.||Thomas, J. H. (Derby)||Wilson, John (Durham, Mid)|
|Robson, Sir William Snowdon||Thorne, G. R. (Wolverhampton)||Wilson, J. W. (Worcestershire, N.)|
|Roch, Walter F. (Pembroke)||Tomkinson, Rt. Hon. James||Wilson, T. F. (Lanark, N.E.)|
|Roche, Augustine (Cork)||Toulmin, George||Wilson, W. T. (Westhoughton)|
|Roche, John (Galway, E.)||Trevelyan, Charles Philips||Winfrey, Richard|
|Roe, Sir Thomas||Twist, Henry||Wood, T. M'Kinnon (Glasgow)|
|Rowntree, Arnold||Ure, Rt. Hon. Alexander||Young, W. (Perthshire, E.)|
|Runciman, Rt. Hon. Walter||Verney, F. W.||Younger, W. (Peebles and Selkirk)|
|Samuel, J. (Stockton)||Vivian, Henry||Yoxall, Sir James Henry|
|Samuel, J. (Stackton)||walker, H. De R. (Leicester)|
|Samuel, S. M. (Whitechapel)||Walsh, Stephen||TELLERS FOR THE AYES.—Master|
|Scanlan, Thomas||Walters, John Tudor||of Elibank and Mr. Fuller.|
|Adam, Major W. A.||Clay, Captain H. Spender||Gordon, J.|
|Anson, Sir William Reynell||Clive, Percy Archer||Goulding, Edward Alfred|
|Arbuthnot, G. A.||Coates, Major E. F.||Giant, J. A.|
|Archer-Shee, Major M.||Colefax, H. A.||Greene, W. R.|
|Arkwright, John Stanhope||Compton, Lord A. (Brentford)||Guinness, Hon. W. E.|
|Bagot, Captain J.||Cooper, Capt. Bryan (Dublin, S.)||Gwynne, R. S. (Sussex, Eastbourne)|
|Baird, J. L.||Cooper, R. A. (Walsall)||Haddock, George B.|
|Balcarres, Lord||Courthope, G. Loyd||Hall, D. B. (Isle of Wight)|
|Baldwin, Stanley||Craig, Charles Curtis (Antrim, S.)||Hall, E. Marshall (L'pool, E. Toxteth)|
|Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J. (City, Lond.)||Craig, Captain James (Down, E.)||Hambro, Angus Valdemar|
|Banbury, Sir Frederick George||Craig, Norman (Kent)||Hamersley, A. St. George|
|Banner, John S. Harmood-||Craik, Sir Henry||Hamilton, Lord C. J. (Kensington, S.)|
|Baring, Captain Hon. G.||Cripps, Sir C. A.||Hamilton, Marquess of (Londonderry)|
|Barnston, H.||Croft, H. P.||Hardy, Laurence (Kent, Ashford)|
|Barrie, H. T. (Londonderry, N.)||Dalrymple, Viscount||Harris, F. L. (Stepney)|
|Bathurst, Hon. A. B. (Glouc, E.)||Dixon, C. H.||Harris, H. P. (Paddington, S.)|
|Bathurst, Charles (Wilton)||Douglas, Rt. Hon. A. Akers-||Harrison-Broadley, H. B.|
|Beach, Hon. Michael Hugh Hicks||Du Cros, Alfred (Tower Hamlets, Bow)||Heath, Col. A. H.|
|Beckett, Hon. W. Gervase||Duke, H. E.||Helmsley, Viscount|
|Benn, I. H. (Greenwich)||Duncannon, Viscount||Henderson, H. G. H. (Berkshire)|
|Beresford, Lord C.||Dunn, Sir W. H. (Southwark)||Hermon-Hodge, Sir Robert|
|Bird, A.||Eyres-Monsell, B. M.||Hickman, Colonel Thomas E.|
|Boyle, W. L. (Norfolk, Mid)||Faber, George Denison (Clapham)||Hill, Sir Clement|
|Boyton, J.||Faber, Capt. W. V. (Hants, W.)||Hillier, Dr. A. P.|
|Brassey, H. L. C. (N'thamptonshire, N.)||Falle, B. G.||Hills, J. W.|
|Brassey, Capt. R. B. (Banbury)||Fell, Arthur||Hoare, S. J. G.|
|Bridgeman, W. Clive||Fetherstonhaugh, Godfrey||Hohler, Gerald Fitzroy|
|Brunskill, G. F.||Finlay, Sir Robert||Hope, Harry (Bute)|
|Bull, Sir William James||Fisher, W. Hayes||Hope, James Fitzalan (Sheffield)|
|Burdett-Coutts, W.||Fitzroy, Hon. E. A.||Home, Wm. E. (Surrey, Gulldford)|
|Butcher, J. G. (York)||Flannery, Sir J. Fortescue||Horner, A. L.|
|Butcher, S. H. (Cambridge Univ.)||Fleming, Valentine||Houston, Robert Patenon|
|Calley, Colonel T. C. P.||Fletcher, J. S.||Hunt, Rowland|
|Campbell, Rt. Hon. J. H. M.||Forster, Henry William||Hunter, Sir C. R. (Bath)|
|Carllle, E. Hildred||Foster, H. S. (Suffolk, N.)||Jackson, John A. (Whitehaven)|
|Carson, Rt. Hon. Sir Edward H.||Foster, J. K. (Coventry)||Jardine, E. (Somerset, E.)|
|Castlereagh, Viscount||Foster, P. S. (Warwick, S.W.)||Jessel, Captain H. M.|
|Cator, John||Gardner, Ernest||Kerr-Smiley, Peter|
|Cave, George||Gastrell, Major W. H.||Kerry, Earl of|
|Cecil, Evelyn (Aston Manor)||Gibbs, G. A.||Keswick, William|
|Cecil, Lord Hugh (Oxford University)||Gilmour, Captain J.||Kimber, Sir Henry|
|Chaloner, Colonel R. W. G.||Goldman, C. S.||King, Sir Henry Seymour (Hull)|
|Chamberlain, Rt. Hon. J. A. (Worc'r.)||Goldsmith, Frank||Kinloch-Cooke, Sir Clement|
|Chambers, J.||Gooch, Henry Cubltt||Kirkwood, J. H. M.|
|Knight, Capt. E. A.||Ormsby-Gore, Hon. William||Staveley-Hill, Henry (Staffordshire)|
|Lane-Fox, G. R.||Paget, Almeric Hugh||Steel-Maitland, A. D.|
|Law, Andrew Bonar (Dulwich)||Peel, Capt. R. F. (Woodbridge)||Stewart, Gershom (Ches., Wirral)|
|Lawson, Hon. Harry||Peel, Hon. W. R. W. (Taunton)||Stewart, Sir M'T. (Kirkcudbright)|
|Lee, Arthur H.||Perkins, Walter F.||Storey, Samuel|
|Lewisham, Viscount||Peto, Basil Edward||Strauss, Arthur|
|Llewelyn, Major Venables||Pollock, Ernest Murray||Sykes, Alan John|
|Lloyd, G. A.||Pretyman, E. G.||Terrell, G. (Wilts, N.W.)|
|Locker-Lampson, G. (Salisbury)||Proby, Colonel Douglas James||Terrell, H. (Gloucester)|
|Locker-Lampson, O. (Ramsay)||Quilter, William Eley C.||Thompson, Robert|
|Lock wood, Rt. Hon. Lt.-Col. A. R.||Randles, Sir John Scurrah||Thynne, Lord Alexander|
|Long, Rt. Hon. Walter||Rankin, Sir James||Tobin, Alfred Aspinall|
|Lonsdale, John Brownlee||Ratcliff, Major R. F.||Tryon, Capt. George Clement|
|Lowe, Sir F. W. (Birm., Edgbaston)||Rawlinson, John Frederick Peel||Tullibardine, Marquess of|
|Lyttelton, Rt. Hon. A. (Hanover Sq.)||Rawson, Colonel K. H.||Verrall, George Henry|
|Lyttelton, Hon. J. C. (Droitwlch)||Remnant, James Farquharson||Walker, Col. W. H. (Lancashire)|
|MacCaw, Wm. J. MacGeagh||Rice, Hon. W.||Walrond, Hon. Lionel|
|Mackinder, Hallord J.||Ridley, Samuel Forde||Ward, Arnold (Herts, Watford)|
|Macmaster, Donald||Roberts, S. (Sheffield, Ecclesall)||Warde, Col. C. E. (Kent, Mid)|
|M'Arthur, Charles||Rolleston, Sir John||Wheler, Granville C. H.|
|Magnus, Sir Philip||Ronaldshay, Earl of||White, Major G. D. (Lanes., Southport)|
|Mason, J. F.||Rothschild, Lionel de||Williams, Col. R. (Dorset, W.)|
|Mildmay, Francis Bingham||Royds, Edmund||Willoughby, Major Hon. Claude|
|Mills, Hon. Charles Thomas||Rutherford, Watson||Willoughby de Eresby, Lord|
|Moore, William||Salter, Arthur Clavell||Wilson, A. Stanley (York, E.R.)|
|Morpeth, Viscount||Samuel, Sir Harry (Norwood)||Winterton, Earl|
|Morrison, Captain J. A.||Sanders, Robert A.||Wolff, Gustav Wilhelm|
|Morrison-Bell, Major A. C.||Sanderson, Lancelot||Wood, John (Stalybridge)|
|Mount, William Arthur||Sandys, G. J. (Somerset, Wells)||Worthington-Evans, L. (Colchester)|
|Newdegate, F. A.||Sandys, Lieut.-Col. T. M. (Bootle)||Wortley, Rt. Hon. C. B. Stuart-|
|Newman, John R. P.||Sassoon, Sir Edward Albert||Wyndham, Rt. Hon. George|
|Newton, Harry Kottingham||Scott, Sir S. (Marylebone, W.)||Yerburgh, Robert|
|Nicholson, Wm. G. (Petersfield)||Stanier, Beville||Younger, George (Ayr Burghs)|
|Nield, Herbert||Stanley, Hon. Arthur (Ormskirk)|
|O'Neill, Hon. A. E. B. (Antrim, Mid.)||Stanley, Hon. G. F. (Preston)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES.—Sir A.|
|Orde-Powiett, Hon. W. G. A.||Starkey, John R.||Acland Hood and viscount Valentla.|
§ Whereupon the Chairmen left the Chair to make his Report to the House.
§ Committee report Progress; to sit again upon Monday, 11th April.